Cool Green

90-degrees – 50% humidity. Needless to say, it’s hot.
It’s the kind of day you’d like to have air conditioning in your car for the four-hour drive from New Haven to Philadelphia. The kind of day that’s too hot for six rounds of unloading my son’s college gear up two flights of stairs into an apartment with no fan. The kind of day when an air conditioned coffee shop with a 12-foot-square living wall packed with ferns is the perfect respite before saying goodbye and taking a train back home.

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Sea and Sky

“There is magic in the distance where the sea-line meets the sky.”  Alfred Noyes
While in Maine recently, I had several opportunities to observe that magical place described by Noyes. When the light is just right, sea and sky merge. I’ve been playing with how to capture that on paper ever since.

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Though I typically work in watercolor, I swapped my paints for pastels to try to get a more ethereal effect.


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Gone Coastal

A week on an island in Maine means only one thing: I’ve gone coastal. I shut off e-mail and social media, tune out news, turn off work, and I cram as much hiking, cycling, exploring, and, of course, painting as I can into seven highly cherished days. I live by the tides, stay up too late painting, wake up early to see the first light on the water, poke in tide pools, scour mudflats and rocky ledges for shorebirds, seek out new trails and vistas, dodge mosquitoes, and manage to come away both rejuvenated and exhausted. Here’s a peek inside my sketchbook…I’ll share a few more pieces in the coming days.

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Poetry of Onions

…Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…” – Mary Oliver, Messenger

I spent a recent rainy morning with two artist friends at Walker Farm in Brattleboro, Vermont. The sunflowers and peaches, carrots and tomatoes, and a riot of bright-colored petunias in the greenhouse were a painter’s dream. But somehow I found myself drawn to an old shed, where several bushels of onions caught the dim light. If you haven’t read Mary Oliver’s poem, Messenger, I recommend it in its entirety. This part about “mostly standing still and learning to be astonished” struck me as especially fitting for this particular moment — where something as ordinary as an onion becomes strikingly beautiful when we really look at it. What better work is there for an artist?

onions

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Season of Abundance

It is the season of abundance. Farm stands and farmer’s markets overflow with luscious color and variety. Gardens are ripening toward their fullest beauty. I am utterly drawn in.

Red Cabbage

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Forgive me if you are a lover of cabbage. Aside from when it is disguised in coleslaw or egg rolls, I find cabbage hard to enjoy…except when painting it. Then the lovely blending of purples and greens and blues, of leaf shapes and of the spaces between them reveal the cabbage’s true beauty.

Pumpkin Vine

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I got down on the ground for this perspective of pumpkin vines. So much happening at that level!

I painted these in my Stillman & Birn “Zeta” sketchbook and I really put it put the paper to the test. Zeta has 270 gsm smooth, white paper that is great for ink but sometimes tricky for very wet watercolor. The paint doesn’t merge in the paper, as it does with most cold press papers, but rather on the paper. I find that there is very little reworking that you can do while the paper is wet, but the paper holds up to lot’s of layers of washes. These were worked very wet to increasingly dry, light to dark.