Revisiting the Southwest

Can a painting evoke a place, a memory, a moment in time? On a cold winter’s day, this piece certainly gave me a chance to revisit a trip to the Southwest that my family took a few years ago. During a long day hike at Arches National Park, we were surrounded by towering sandstone walls and incredible rock formations. After the first two miles, the crowds thinned and the trail became primitive, with steep climbs and descents. At times, we were alone in that wild expanse of sandstone and sky. A rare… Read More

Ice Cold

When temperatures have not climbed out of the single digits for a few days, going outside when it’s 10-degrees seems almost reasonable. And what more appropriate subject to focus on than ice? I walked along a nearby stream, looking at the variety of frozen formations. Though I had my sketchbook, it was too cold to open it, so I snapped a few photos and returned home to paint. How ironic then, when, sitting in my warm home office/studio, a frozen pipe burst upstairs, sending a cascade of water through walls, ceiling, and… Read More

Fledglings Forever

This weekend’s freezing temperatures sent me packing my sketchbook and paints and seeking shelter in the natural history collection at a nearby museum. Amidst a long wall of bird specimens, I found these four fledgling Eastern screech owls. Most collections typically display adult birds, so it was unusual to find an entire set of young siblings. I was grateful for the chance to study these common, yet elusive owls up close. And yet, they haunt me, too. Their life in the wild was so brief, their time behind glass so long. My… Read More

New Year’s Bouquet

The New Year is ushered in by overcast skies and a misty dampness hanging over woods and fields. I go out in search of something interesting to sketch, hike along a wet meandering stream, up through an old grove of white pines, and wind up in a field of waist-high goldenrod. By this time, the mist is beginning to spit, and the bleak daylight is fading. That’s when I see the New Year’s bouquet stretched out before me. Tight flower-like goldenrod leaf clusters, the result of tiny fly larva that stunt the… Read More

Simple Joys

Amidst the hustle of holiday preparations and merriment, I stole a few minutes of quiet out in the neighboring field on a sunny afternoon. A chattering flock of juncos were my only companions as I made my way around the grove of white pines that are slowly taking over the tangled meadow. I appreciate these moments for the simple joys they offer, and I wish you the same this holiday season and throughout the year. Tips and Techniques– Although the sun was shining, the wind made 30֯ F feel like 20֯ F…. Read More

What Lies Within

Is there anything more astonishing that the flowering of an amaryllis? One day, a rough brown mass with tangled roots sits on your table and soon after a glorious and sensual bloom greets you upon entering the room. The transformation always gives me pause. What astonishing beauty might arise from within each of us?

In the Field- November

The neighboring field is thick with goldenrod, thorny wild roses, tangles of bittersweet, and tall grass. Most of it hasn’t been cut back in more than five years. A small grove of white pines gains ground each season, as do a few oak, cherry, and walnut trees along the edges. The slow transformation from old field to woods is well begun. I don’t usually roam into the field until the goldenrods have been matted by snow, but when I spied this nest, I waded in. In addition to this sketch, I brought… Read More

Back in the Game

I haven’t sketched outside in weeks. First I was sick, then tired and recovering, then making up for lost time getting our house ready for winter. Suddenly, daylight savings time took my evenings and November’s sunshine grew thin. So, despite yesterday’s chill and plenty of weekend chores, I headed out with sketchbook in hand and a vow not to return until I had something on paper. Here you go…a simple sketch that puts me back in the game.  Tips and Techniques- Getting out of a sketching habit is like getting out of… Read More

Portraits from Umbria

A bold red hat. A most unusual nose. A commanding man. A ghostly woman. In perfect profile, Federico Montefeltro and Battista Sforza stare at one another, held together forever in a framed diptych painted in 1473 by Piero della Francesca. Federico was born in the castle where we will be staying during my travel art workshop in Italy next May, so I decided to copy the portraits as a starting point for learning more about our destination. The longer I looked at these faces, the more I wondered about Federico and Battista…. Read More

Artistry of the Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds hide their nests of woven sedges, grasses, and cattails deep in marshes, wet meadows, and swamps. Females weave the structure low to the ground, finding perfect hiding places to lay their eggs and raise young. Sometimes several females will nest in close proximity and even share the same mate. Because of their wet locations and perfect camouflage, I have never found a blackbird nest in the field. The ones I’ve seen and painted are from natural history museums and nature centers. Sometimes they are recently collected and sometimes, as with… Read More