Tuesday, December 15, 2015

press on

Glen Alps Press
It has been a couple of years since I purchased this big piece of machinery, nicknamed "Orange Crush.". It is set up in my garage, adjacent to my studio, and ready for use. Some things are still in progress, like the amount of strength it takes to move the rollers down so that they touch the bed. The wheels are locked now, but when unlocked, they allow me to move it (with three strong people) in and out of this space. The extra height provides some challenges, though. I am excited to learn how to use this press, and how to find my voice with monotypes.

This press is one of about 50 that were created by Seattle artist, Glen Alps. This one was originally used at the Olympic College in Bremerton, WA.

I still hold my breath when I pull a print.

Wishing you all good things during this holiday season and in the new year. Peace. Health. Light.

A Classical Christmas.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Arrival.1. 20 x 20. Oil on board.  
I am devoting more of my studio time to painting in oil. I enjoy the creamy texture and vibrant color. I am learning the language of oil and playing with how to move it about the painting in ways that interest me.

This painting may be the start of a new series of paintings, but it's still early to tell. Arrivals come in all shapes and meanings. At Thanksgiving, my home was the sight of many arrivals as family joined us to celebrate and feast. Christmas season speaks to another kind of arrival. Much is on my mind, but not organized into words yet. In this case, the images come first.

The Piano Guys "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Sunday, November 22, 2015


"Company of Women" 25 x 32, acrylic on board

Some of my happiest childhood memories of Thanksgiving include times spent with extended family and gatherings filled with people and food. The women crowded into the kitchen and laughed and bustled, chopped and bumped, and talked and shared. The little girls watched and dreamed of the day when we were grown and knew the kitchen secrets of a happy holiday. The men were often in the den watching football. Later, after dinner, the adults played poker for chips or toothpicks.

Although I did not paint this piece with Thanksgiving in mind,it now reminds me of many good holiday times. In the figures, I women now passed and little girls who have grown into women. Family. I am grateful for the memories.  

I am cultivating a daily habit of giving thanks. I think that a positive, grateful mindset will take me far down the road I want to travel as I age.

Thank you.

"As it Seems" by Lily Kershaw.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

listening for the silence

D. oil on canvas, 18 x 18

"D" was one of five band mates I played with about 15 years ago.When we played, "D" held his head tilted, closed his eyes and listened for those spaces between us. We often let the silences linger before we started to fill them with fragments and ideas and building materials for new things.

Making music isn't just about playing notes. It's also about the silences.

As with music, art is not just about what to include, but also what to edit out. I have been thinking about how to include silence in my paintings. Art and Music are good bedfellows, but they don't always share the blankets nicely.

Simon and Garfunkel, "The Sound of Silence."

Friday, November 6, 2015


Lonely People. Mixed Media
Back in the studio after a "life happens" break. It's a relief to paint and let things happen as they will, without limitations or direction on my part. Not art therapy, but still therapeutic. Not purposeful, but still with purpose. Not self conscious, yet completely expressive.

Scarlett "Eleanor Rigby" cover.

Friday, September 25, 2015

here I am

Cairn, pen and ink

The beach at Seward, Alaska, was mostly rocks from glacier retreats centuries ago. I was on a long walk along the shore, feeling the many miles between where I was and where I was from. Those quiet meditative moments are hard to find in the busyness of a normal day. But, this day was different. There was no rush to go anywhere, no pressure to drive someplace new. Just a day at the beach. And my thoughts on a walk.

When a boat left the marina and motored past me in Resurrection Bay, the wake created small waves that lifted the rocks and set them down with muted thumps and clacks before the water sssssss shhh -ed as it pulled back. That sweet rhythm lasted only minutes and then faded again to the silence of the beautiful landscape.

I picked up a few rocks and rubbed my fingers over their smooth surfaces. And slowly, I built a small stack of them along the beach. When I finished, I sat next to the stack and sketched it. Each step of this act, a meditation. A song. A quiet moment of breathing and being. And being fully awake. Sketching, another meditation, felt good and slow, too.

When I finished the sketch, I took the rocks off the cairn and put them back on the beach. I left no trace.

But, for those moments, I was there, on the beach. In Seward, Alaska.

Sometimes a song can put me into a meditative state. This one does.
Lily Kershaw "Maybe."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

plein air in Homer, Alaska

At the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit in Alaska I have had a few days to stare and think about the landscape and a sunny morning to paint it.

I feel a shift in my ideas about plein air painting. I used to feel pressured to paint a frame-worthy piece every time I went out, but now I feel like I'm taking notes. I am catching the rhythm of the land, the high notes of color, the bass part of line and texture. It doesn't need to all come together now. It might at some later time, if/when I rework it or start fresh with the idea of this place in mind.

I watched many people, of all ages, catching salmon here. I watched a man fish (fishing and catching are two different experiences, they say), unsuccessfully, for four hours before he packed up his gear and hiked out of the lagoon. When his back was turned, a fish leaped in the water nearby. In fact, almost exactly where his line had been just minutes before.

I watched a grandfather and 6 year old grandson stand together on the rocky shore. First, the grandfather taught the little boy how to bait his hook, hold his pole, cast his line, and watch the bob for a bite. Next, I watched the boy go through all of the steps on his own, with grandfather nearby for assurance and answers to questions, which the little guy asked over his shoulder. Finally, I saw the two of them standing side by side with lines in the water making forever kinds of memories. When the grandfather caught a fish, the grandson reeled in his own line and stepped aside to be out of the way. Grandfather skillfully pulled in the fish, and grandson helped pull it out of the water, only dropping it once when it wriggled and wrested itself out of little hands.

Best of all, I felt perfectly safe while I painted, even if I felt like I was in the middle of a Rie Munoz painting!

Enjoy "The Fishin' Hole Song" and whistle a little, if you know the tune.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

sketchbook -- mud flats in Cook Inlet, Alaska

The tour books warn to stay off the mud flats. My friend and Alaska native, Roxanne Colyer Clingman, warned me to stay off the mud flats. The newspapers and signs around town warn to stay off the mud flats.

The tide shift here is 30-40 feet, and when the tide is out, the bottom of the inlet is exposed. Glacial silt makes for a quicksand-like surface. Once stuck, a person faces 30 feet of water rushing in on the next tide. I was well-warned to stay off the flats.

When we explored Hope, Alaska, and I was faced with the mystery and beauty of the mud flats, I understood all of the warnings. I had to force myself to only draw and photograph them, because their attraction was strong! Here's what I wrote on the left side of this sketch:

7.1.15 Turnagain Arm from Hope Spur. 
Warnings in tour books (all) and from Roxanne: do not walk on the mud flats! 
Their quicksand siren song is lovely. Come and explore my complex curves and rivulets. 
Look into my puddles to see your future. Linger over grooves and cups, 
hillocks and terraces simple and marvel at the symmetry. 
The unspoken lyric remains that 
the song ends in doom.

Here is a short film of Alaska's landscape and a song that ends beautifully.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

sketchbook -- when plein air painting is not a good idea

Something about the light on Lake Kluane didn't excite me the morning I determined to paint en plein air. I lingered over my morning coffee and looked at the water and the surrounding rocks. I started thinking about how cozy I was inside, how much I was enjoying my cup of coffee, and recalling the visitor information about this area and the large grizzly bear population...

And I decided not to paint.

Not long after, I saw a grizzly bear, favoring one foot, walk right through what would have been my painting space. I was very happy I was not occupying the same spot he ambled through, turning rocks and sniffing at the grass where I had walked the night before.

But a sketch of a bear is a lot of fun. Especially when done from the safety of the motorhome. With a nice hot cup of coffee in my hand.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

sketchbook -- bears

It does not lessen my anxiety to hear a park ranger tell a group of people that the bears in the Banff National Park area of British Columbia are vegetarians. Even when I see them beside the road munching on the abundant dandelions, I am not calmed. Nope. Bears are at the top of the food chain and I, for one, will continue to treat them with respect and hope for distance in all of my encounters with them. My motto for this trip: wildlife from a distance, viewed through a window!

Monday, June 15, 2015

sketchbook -- rest areas

The people I sketched at rest areas were not resting at all. That made them much more difficult sketching subjects. They were walking, sometimes quickly, to the nearby facilities. Just a couple of seconds per sketch and lots of fun.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

"Hero" by Mel McCuddin at NW Museum of Arts and Culture, Spokane, WA

Sometimes it's good to go with serendipity, to walk into the museum, and to walk the unfamiliar galleries. This painting knocked me to the floor.

I got much more than I expected at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

sketchbook - travel - leaving home

My sketchbook will get a nice workout this summer as my husband and I travel. I  will share many sketches of the journey ahead.

It almost goes without saying that to travel means you leave home. Before we drove off the driveway, I did this little sketch of home. And, though it's hard to imagine how, I know that when I get back from this trip I will see home differently. I will feel different. My eyes will light on different things. And that's my favorite part of travel: it opens up my perspective.

Already, I can feel the rhythms of life shifting to a less familiar beat. My ears tune in to the new sounds and I lean into it with pleasure.

Sarah Vaughan "Fascinating Rhythm."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

prints for the bride to be

Katie Baker, bride to be, standing with the framed prints made at her bridal shower.

Have you ever been to a bridal shower? I have. Many of them. Long ago, I was even the"bride" and the recipient of the shower. Showers usually have these same elements: cake, flowers, gifts, laughter, chatting, and games.

Today I hosted a bridal shower for a dear friend and lovely young woman, Katie Baker. I was excited to give the shower. Excited for the bride to get the gifts and connect with friends. I just could not face doing games, but I wanted the guests to participate in something fun together.

We made prints!

Sixteen women in my studio and we had a blast! The studio was ready with four printing stations, four aprons, plenty of rubber gloves, paints, brayers, stencils, textures, and paper. After my demo, the everyone participated in making a print. After they dried, people signed their prints.

Those who weren't printing watched the others, or gave advice, or handed them paper towels or other items. From the comments after the printmaking, people had a lot of fun. And no one had ever done such a thing at a shower.

As we left the studio, to get back to cake and presents, Katie and her sister, Courtney, commented to me, "This is like an illustrated guest list of who came to the shower!"

We framed the prints in small shadow box frames I found locally. With four of us working, it took only 30 minutes to frame all of them. Katie is already talking about hanging some on walls, but standing others on shelves and counters.

It was a unique kind of shower. One I would love to do again!

"Isn't She Lovely" Victor Wooten.

Friday, May 15, 2015


Tacoma Art Museum
The newly remodeled Tacoma Art Museum exhibit "Eloquent Objects: Georgia O'Keeffe and Still-Life Art in New Mexico" runs until June 7, 2015. O'Keeffe's work is elegant and gorgeous. I enjoyed looking at them from a distance and then stepping closer and closer until the museum staff person cleared his throat. I was just looking to see the brushwork! If you have a chance to see this show, take it!

John Nieto, "Buffalo at Sunset"
Since the remodel, TAM has opened up a large new gallery space and filled it with the exhibit "Art of the American West: the Haub Family Collection." The collection is stunning, with works by Nieto (above), Clymer, Terpening, Remington, Bierstadt, Moran, and others. This show is up until the fall of 2015.

Museum of Glass
Walking out of TAM, I was lured into the Museum of Glass by the large sign that read "Chihuly Drawings!" I have mentioned Chihuly's drawings on this blog before, and this exhibit expanded my respect and admiration for his work.

The final piece in this large show are plexiglass panels, backlit, with acrylic drawings on them. Spectacular!

For me, the truest measure of a great show is this: does it inspire? These two shows more than delivered and I leave Tacoma overflowing with ideas for my own paintings in the days and weeks and months ahead.

James Brown "I Feel Good."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

sketchbook musings

These sketches are the first in a trial of a new Stillman and Birns Alpha sketchbook. I love the feel of the paper -- it is smooth and takes ink and watercolor beautifully. I see a little bleed through of the ink, and that bugs me, but overall, I like it. I think I might try a heavier weight paper (maybe the Zeta style) the next time around, though.

My mother came up from California for a nine day visit. I always think of flowers when I think of my mom. She loves flowers! Over the years, her gardens have been famous for sweet peas, roses, gladiolus, calla lilies, and all manner of fragrant flowers. She made sure I had a big bouquet of flowers to enjoy during her visit, too. Filled with carnations, alstromeria, and mums, this bouquet has already lasted five days and still looks fresh.

A miniature rose Mother's Day gift from my son and his wife became the subject of these two sketches. First, I sketched the little plant as I saw it (the "organic" sketch on the right) and then I sketched it again as an experiment in abstracting the shapes toward a more geometric concept (the sketch on the left).

Finally, a page from yesterday. You can see that I am still experimenting with the geometric abstractions, and then just looking at what I see from the windows of the boat. The quiet of my time on the boat allows for dreamy musings. And naps. Life is so good!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

from my sketchbook

A short walk away from my home is the beautiful Lewisville Park. It is one of the oldest parks in Clark County and dates back to 1936 and the Works Progress Administration. I can't say enough about this oasis. It has more than 150 acres of trails, trees, play structures and fields, plus the untamed east fork of the Lewis River.

Yesterday's sunshine drew me to the park with my sketchbook. It was a welcome break from the "busy" of life to spend time in one of my favorite places.

Chicago. "Saturday in the Park."

Monday, April 13, 2015


Daffs. 12 x 12. Oil and charcoal on canvas.

By Mary Oliver
I lift my face to the pale flowers
of the rain. They’re soft as linen,
clean as holy water. Meanwhile
my dog runs off, noses down packed leaves
into damp, mysterious tunnels.
He says the smells are rising now
stiff and lively; he says the beasts
are waking up now full of oil,
sleep sweat, tag-ends of dreams. The rain
rubs its shining hands all over me.
My dog returns and barks fiercely, he says
each secret body is the richest advisor,
deep in the black earth such fuming
nuggets of joy!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


2073. 11 x 10. Watercolor and ink on paper.

Appalachian Spring, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

poetry and Mary Oliver

I have always loved poetry.

Jump rope rhymes of childhood still spring to my mind at opportune (and inopportune) moments.

Say, say, oh playmate, I can not play with you...

Memorization assignments from elementary school stir around inside me and pop out of my mouth.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things..."
from "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll

College scrutiny did not dim my love of poetry, in fact, just added to my internal arsenal.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies...
from "She Walks in Beauty" by Lord Byron

My appreciation of poetry has continued as I have aged. These days my attention is on the poetry of Mary Oliver. Her contemplation and introspection and artfully crafted poems make my breathing slow and invite me to read aloud her words again and again. Like this poem, "Wild Geese." I hope you will read it aloud. Again and again, too. Like me.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I hope you will have about an hour to listen to Krista Tippett's interview with Mary Oliver (from February 7, 2015) on the radio program "On Being." Listen here.

Canada Goose, photograph Katherine van Schoonhoven at Ridgefield NWR

Sunday, March 1, 2015

breaking the shell

Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding
Khalil Gibran

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

watching paint dry

"Watching paint dry" is a phrase my father used to describe something that exceeded the definition of boring. Funny. I have discovered that it provides a still space of quiet inside of me and helps me be completely in the moment.

Monday, February 16, 2015

I'll meet you there

Out beyond ideas of 
 there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

a step on the path

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Monday, February 2, 2015

clearing clutter

beginning painting books
In 2005, when I took my first art class, I did not own a single art book. Not because I wasn't a book collector, because, believe me, I was. I have a library full of books about music, literature, theology, history, nature, travel, birds, and other topics. But none about art.

My art classes answered a lot of questions but raised at least as many more. I started to acquire beginning books on how to draw trees, how to draw the figure, how to mix color, how to arrange a still life, and so on.

As my interest grew, so did my book collection. I collected books on painting florals, landscapes, water, buildings, en plein air and in the studio. Books on composition, color theory, painting substrates, and on and on and on.

Little by little, I added books that were filled with plates of paintings by painters. The Group of Seven, Matisse, Picasso, Manet, Monet, Hopper, Rembrandt, Bischoff ... too many to name.

In the last several years, I have not looked at those beginning books at all. I have loaned several of them out to interested students, but I have not used them beyond that.

Real estate in a studio space is precious. My book case was full of books, many of which I no longer looked at. Time to clear out the clutter!

Now there are empty spaces for the new books I will collect, books about painters and their paintings and drawings. Books like these new purchases:

Sarah Mclachlan "I Will Remember You."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Acrylic paint, ink, colored pencil

The small leaf pattern you see in this piece comes from poinsettia petals. I used them as a stencil and as a stamp. Sometimes it's good enough to go out to the studio and play with color.

If, like me, you've had a rough patch in life lately, I hope this old Johnny Cash tune. "I Won't Back Down" speaks to you, too.