Unexpected Break

The air was cold and crisp, the ice smooth as glass. Perfect for a family skating party. I wish I could say I was in the midst of landing a lovely spin or graceful figure eight, but I was merely trying to tell another skater that his laces were dragging when I suddenly hit the ice. I was able to get up and complete skating the counterclockwise loop to get off the rink, but I quickly realized that my right wrist was not looking or feeling good. Long story short, I must… Read More

Snowy Nights

Snowy owls are only occasional visitors to our area, migrating down to northern states after a population boom in the Arctic. These magnificent birds seek out areas that resemble tundra, including coastal marshes, grasslands, airports, and open fields where they hunt for small rodents, waterfowl, and other birds. A recent winter storm that blanketed the world here in white made me think of owls hunting in the silent, cold dark. As the snow was falling, my husband and I went outside around 9:30pm. As we walked along the edge of woods and… Read More

Magnificent Trees

At this time of year, with no cloak of greenery, I’m drawn to old trees, grown in the open with limbs spreading out fully in the sun; magnificent giants that stand out from the crowd. I bet you know a few. I love seeing the bare bone structure of massive limbs and trunks, of cavities and broken branches. This sycamore is among my favorites. It grows in a park near the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers in New York and has witnessed the growth and passing of woods and farms… Read More

Small Miracles

This painting is a gift: a symbol of new life and the cradle that embraces its fragile loveliness. I painted it for my cousin to give to her daughter, who has two daughters of her own. One was born this summer, nearly four months early. Yet by the grace of many small miracles and the amazing skill of neonatal care, she recently went home, beautiful and healthy. Two blue eggs, so much to be grateful for. Tips and Techniques– I loved doing the shadows in this piece and, in fact, they are… Read More

Daily Bread

There is meditation in making bread. The coming together of simple elements, transformed by hands and patience into something sublime. In this season of slowing down and coming indoors, it’s time to appreciate the subtle aroma of yeast; it’s time for kneading dough into a smooth, glossy form; it’s time for breaking bread. Coming indoors also seemed like a good time for me to try something new and stretch my skills. You can read more about that below, or just indulge me in a new subject and way of painting this week…. Read More

Slow Painting

There’s a bias in urban and nature sketching for working quickly. The idea is to get the subject down while on location and to capture the moment, place, or experience. It’s a worthy practice and many people do it well, completing sketchbook pages with lovely drawings and paintings in an hour or two. But there’s also a lot to be said for working slowly. Careful observation and allowing time for a subject to resonate gives you time to figure out how best to approach it on paper. Sometimes I build a painting… Read More

Time for Spring

March is such a tease. One day it’s 50-F degrees and you’re outside with jacket unbuttoned. The next, there is seven inches of snow on the ground and you’re scraping ice off the windshield…again. Daylight lengthens, blackbirds reappear, but that’s pretty much it for evidence of a changing season. What really shifts in March is the anticipation. You’re closer to spring now. You know that soon salamanders will be moving to breeding ponds, that the woodcock will wing its way to the neighbor’s field, that you’ll find skunk cabbage opening along the… Read More

The beauty of ordinary things

My father-in-law died this week at the age of 88. A gentleman always and a stalwart family man, Roger lived for the last 10 months in a nursing home following a serious fall and head injury which left him with significant memory loss. On a recent visit, my husband encouraged me to bring along my sketchbook, hoping that it might spark conversation that had nothing to do with the past or the future. Indeed, it turned out to be one of the loveliest visits we shared together. The pages – whether butterflies,… Read More

By the Numbers

Quick quiz: How many species of birds are regularly seen in the U.S.? Butterflies? Moths? How many can you name? Answer: There are about 800 regularly occurring species of birds, 575 species of butterflies, and a whopping 11,000 species of moths! While I can identify hundreds of birds, I can name fewer than 15 species of moths, a paltry showing considering the amazing diversity of night and day flying species. Assuming you may be as unfamiliar with moths as I am, let me share these three with you and, hopefully, spark an… Read More

Painting Natural History Collections

I had an opportunity to teach Painting Natural History Collections, a 1.5 hour online workshop during Winslow Art Center’s free Winter Bash last week. To my surprise and delight, more than 200 people from six countries joined in. How inspiring to find so many people interested in this subject! I’ve been poking around old museums specimens for many years and they have provided me hours of fascination, a wealth of painting subjects, and outstanding opportunities to expand my knowledge of natural history. I hope those who attended the session will now enjoy… Read More