Sunday, June 10, 2018

cutting loose

20 x 16 acrylic on panel
Joy in the process,  forget about the outcome. 

My new motto in the studio.

When trapped by my own expectations, and weighed down by my self-imposed limitations, it is time to cut loose.

Cutting loose means more risks. Cutting loose means following curiosity. Cutting loose means following the muse into painting, sculpting, knitting, drawing, playing with grandchildren, writing music, playing with a pick up band, trying new things, meeting new people, reading new books.

I will never be too old to try something new.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


20 x 16. Cold wax and oil on wood panel.
I have been curious about cold wax painting for over a year. After seeing many examples of the medium, and really liking the finished pieces, I decided to try it out myself.

I used oil paint and Cold Wax Medium by Gamblin, a Portland company. over a textured board surface. You can read more about the process on the Gamblin site here.

The texture absorbed a lot of the paint/wax in the process and I got in touch with my miserly side. The wax medium is about the same consistency as Crisco shortening, if you are old enough to have memories of using that in your cooking years ago.

What started as an abstract painting in a cruciform composition design, became more of a tree shape as I worked. I live with lots of trees, and I am okay with abstracts that turn into trees, too.

I have continued with the bird project. These small watercolor sketches are a joy to create. Earlier this Spring, at the Salton Sea in Southern California, I caught up with the California Quail. Their feathery head plume bobs as they walk and creates a little humor to bird watching.

#20 California Quail
#19 Black Capped Chickadee SOLD
#18 Cardinal (female) SOLD

"The Giving Tree" read by Shel Silverstein, 1973. A 10 minute video for the love of a tree.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

bird project

While I am not a serious birder, I do enjoy bird watching. Whether at National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks, or any place I travel or hike, I look for birds.

I have attempted to paint birds over the years, but felt frustrated by the outcomes of my efforts. I even dedicated a sketchbook to bird sketches, only to give up after about 12 pages.

Finally, I tore some scraps of paper into squares and rectangles no larger than 7" on a side. And I started to paint small watercolor bird sketches.

This female cardinal sketch is #18 in the project.  The sketches are for sale, unframed. Contact me if you might be interested and I will send you images of what is available.

Cattle Egrets are smaller than their Great Egret cousins. I was lucky to witness hundreds of these birds at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. #9 Cattle Egret is still available.

When I started this project, I focused on the basic shape of the bird head and body. As I got more comfortable with the subject, I took more care with color and form. Some sketches use ink line to help delineate shapes. Others rely on value and color.

An all white bird presents its own challenges. How to describe shape within such a high key value scale? In this case, I used a very light blue to help show the forms.

#13 Bunting. The more I looked at birds, the more I cared about looking at their eyes. How does the light hit the eye, what color is the eye, how does the eye relate to the rest of the head. I want to capture that feeling of looking at the bird and being seen by the bird. Both.

Birding, or more casual bird watching, makes me feel more connected to my environment. It enriches my time outdoors. How about you?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

expanse, original music

Expanse. Watercolor.

Painful life experiences can make a person ask questions. Cracks let the light in, you might say. Avoidance let me float. Not deciding or committing allowed me to see a bigger reality.

I have been working on creating some of my own music.  I hope you will enjoy listening to this piece, "The Expanse." Thanks to my friend, Dann, for his help and encouragement.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Monotype. 12 x 12
Sometimes my art conversation are with fellow artists, but sometimes they are with myself.

Before we left on our last trip, I prepared my sketchbook by gluing random pieces of painted papers. Not every sketchbook page had a bit of collage on it, but many did. My personal conversation was all about what would happen if I threw a random variable into my sketchbook.

One of the results you saw in my previous post.

Now that I am back home, I posed the same question but related it to printmaking. What would happen if I started with some random fields of color and then added some figures by printing over the top of the color? I really enjoyed the exploration.

While I would not call if a rousing success, my goal was not at all to create masterpieces. My goal was to follow my curiosity and to not be too attached to the final results.

The best conversations go like that, don't they? No expectations, no pressure, but a free flowing exploration seasoned by curiosity and playfulness.

"Don't Know Why" Norah Jones.

Friday, May 19, 2017

birthday reflection

Self portrait, collage, ink
Another year older. AARP birthday greetings mix in with other cards from family and friends. Thanks. I know. I am older.

But, I am not upset by getting older. No, in fact I am stunned by how much more beautiful life gets as I age. Probably, because my father passed away last year, I have a different sense of how fragile and short life is. Plus, I get to spend time with my three grandsons (5, 3, and 3) and I am invigorated by how exciting and mysterious and joyous life is.

A little sorrow with the sweet. That is life.

Middle age, and with that some understanding. There are no second times around, so I must make the very most of every day I am alive.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy Birthday a capella fun. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

jump in to joy

Jump In. 22 x 22. Acrylic.

Some days I have an inner dialogue that sounds like a game of "Twenty Questions."

Is it real?

Does it matter?

Is it enough to jump into the joy and not ask for more?

This Marble Machine music brings up the same questions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

what would happen if ...

Moving On. 20 x 20. Acrylic and mixed media on paper.
I can not force creativity to come. I can only quiet my mind and enter my studio with the spirit of play and the words "what would happen if..." on my lips.

Loreena McKennett "To Drive the Cold Winter Away."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

color lift

Throughout the day, I dodge news like it is the flu and I am a germ-a-phobe. When I do tune in, I am distressed. Distress upon distress. It weighs me down like a lead jumpsuit.

Today I went out to the studio and played with color. Color and pattern. I had no agenda except to lift my mood.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fairbanks in January

Fairbanks sunrise at 10:30 am.

After spending the summer of 2015 exploring the interior of Alaska, my husband and I speculated on what it might be like in the winter. And did we want to experience it first hand? In the end, curiosity won out and we flew in to Fairbanks for a short winter visit.

Our arrival coincided with a bit of record cold weather in Fairbanks. When we landed, the pilot announced cheerfully that Fairbanks was MINUS 39 degrees. No wind chill. Just cold.

Minus 39 degrees is the coldest weather I have ever experienced in my lifetime. It was so cold that it hurt to take a breath. So cold that the liquid in my eyes started to freeze, making blinking a chore. So cold that a sniffle became a solid icicle before it could drip off the tip of a nose. 

At these temperatures, if you leave a car in a parking lot for longer than two hours, you had better make sure you have plugged it in or it will not start when you go back out. Parking lots have stands of outlets and every car has a plug sticking out of the front grate.

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks has on its campus the amazing Museum of the North. The museum is a celebration of Alaska history and culture plus an art museum. 

The Museum of the North (MON) has a large collection of Native Alaskan art (contemporary and old) plus many other pieces of note. Here are a few of my favorites from this visit.

Sara Tabbert, wood carving

This wood carving is by Fairbanks artist, Sara Tabbert. Her work is vibrant and hopeful and some day I hope to own one. You can read and see more about her here. This video plays in the museum and gives a good sense of the artist and her work.

Claire Feyes, oil painting

Claire Feyes is another Alaska artist whose work is captivating. While not a Native Alaskan herself, she fell in love with the land and the people in the land. Here is a documentary about her life and work. I enjoy the simple shapes and sense of community she depicts.

John Hoover, wood carving and sculpture

John Hoover's work stands out as Native Alaskan (his mother was Aleut, his father Dutch) and yet completely contemporary. I remember seeing some of his work in Seattle, as well as in Anchorage.

It is refreshing to take time to step away from the normal routines of daily life and explore something different. For me, this trip to Fairbanks allows me to change the channel of negative and anxious thinking to things that are hopeful and beautiful and lovely.

Fairbanks in the winter is beautiful, but I admit that I am happy to be home to PLUS 39 degrees!

"Homeward Bound" Paul Simon and George Harrison.