Wednesday, June 27, 2007


"What inspires you?" she asked the question everyone wants to know. "Where on earth do you get your ideas?"

I laugh like always. The problem isn't finding an idea but finding time to work on them all. The ideas pop up faster than the weeds in my garden and trust me, that's fast.

My daily exercise walks have been my best inspiration lately. I usually tuck a bit of paper and a pencil in my pocket alongside the digital camera which is my almost-constant companion on these forays. Today I thought I'd share with you the inspiration and a peek at the results.

The poppies thrive at the corner of the garden maintained by an elderly couple alongside the river. Their garden is a tiny one with just enough room for a cherry tree and these poppies and bachelor buttons beneath it. A postage stamp size plot on the other side of the grass near the kitchen door holds a few chives, a parsley plant and a lush basil plant. A small flag snaps neatly in the breeze and a pair of white metal chairs wait nearby on the porch. On occasion when I pass, we chat a bit and I admire their blooms while they pat my beagle on the head and share the weather report or news of their grandchildren. Ours is a neighborly country town and we still enjoy the simple pleasures of a summer afternoon.

Yesterday I snapped a handful of photos, sketched a wee bit, and rushed home for my scissors. Snip, snip, snip! And the poppies bloom from paper...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Roadside inspiration

Between the bees humming in patches of wild blackberry and the perfume of an abandoned heirloom rose climbing over a tumbled-down fence, I had a great deal of difficulty making my daily run yesterday.

It's not that the running was tough, but the distractions were impossible. How can anyone run past glories like this? Especially with a camera in one's hand.

"It's just to gather reference material," I tell myself. But I'm lying.

The truth is I snap gazillions of photos because I can't bear to forget the fleeting beauties that overflow every common roadside. Whether you're in the heart of Manhattan or the woods of Minnesota, miracles abound. And I don't want to forget a single one.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Real life is the best fairy tale

Did you notice I've been incommunicado? I've been off having delicious adventures! But now I'm home and can share all the juicy details.

Delta whisked me to Kansas City, where I felt like Dorothy, having been dropped into a land of make believe. First a limo (yes, a real limo!) gave me a lift to Hallmark. My new friend Wendy gave me a tour of that wonderful company, and I do believe I could disappear into the library there and live forever happy. I secretly had my fingers crossed the whole time, making fervent wishes to work with them more and more, they are so kind and imaginative. Hurrah for Hallmark!

Just when the fun at Hallmark came to an end, I began a most amazing four day treat. Who knew meetings could be so memorable! I'm almost speechless, and those who know me best understand I am NEVER speechless. Demdaco is the most amazing company I've ever had the privilege of working with.

Every moment was more wondrous than the one before... it was almost like summer camp for a group of dedicated artists, and we enjoyed a color trend seminar with a charming colorist who just retired from Benjamin Moore, private tour of the new Nelson Atkins Art Museum, gallery tours, dinners galore, and (oh my goodness, I practically swooned!) plenty of time to look over the new products we designed.

I can't say much or it will give away the Christmas surprise, but it's just my style, pure & simple. If you like my art, you'll enjoy the garlands & stockings, tree toppers and kitchen ware.

I'm trying to avoid rambling on and gushing, but it's almost impossible today. The photo shows me with Kallie, a very dear new friend who proved an invaluable resource along with her boss, Linda, as we have worked on the holiday collection. Kallie is as beautiful as she is smart.

After Kansas City, I winged my way to the Big Apple for meetings, and while my feet may have touched down at home again, my heart has not. I am back in my own dear studio again but my heart is still soaring after so much inspiration and kindness.

Once again I have tested and proven my motto: Real life is the best fairy tale!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Finding an island of calm

Life has been so wild lately! The studio is a chaos of tumbled bits of paper, scribbled notes, mock-ups in various stages, scraps of sketches tacked up on the wall and even contracts littered with sticky note reminders...

A huge overload of work is a true blessing and my heart is more thankful than words can say. But still... at 3am laying awake making mental lists or an hour before an unfinished deadline one can get a nasty knot in the stomach.

I'm learning how important it is to find an island of calm, to keep spiritually alive & well, to hold fast to priorities. You see, I have this goal of becoming a wise person in the truest sense of the word.

So I am holding fast to that island of calm as the days rush past and the life becomes a delicate balancing act. It's a quality of peace I hope shows up in my work.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Delectable color palettes from my garden

It was my last week teaching art to the elementary students at my local school district and I'd invited the children to ask any questions they had.

"Um, I'd like to know... I mean I've always wondered..."

A blush bloomed on Emily's face. The eleven year old coltish beauty was at that awkward not-quite-a-child, not-yet-a-grownup stage.

"What I'm really asking is how do you choose your colors?"

Have you, like Emily, wondered the same thing? Have you struggled choosing a color palette, or wondered where artists get theirs?

I can't vouch for anyone but myself, but for me the best inspirations come from the garden just beyond the studio windows.

There the blueberries ripen gently, suggesting I try shades of indigo and sap green. Columbine and foxglove, sweet peas and basil. Leggy tomatoes, rosy berries and brilliant poppies. It's an endless rainbow of colors so gorgeous it could only have been planned by God himself. Even the weeds are inspiration.

Today I wandered, camera in hand, as I so often do, snapping photos to supply me with enough ideas to last a very long time. But greedy me, I'll be out with the sketchbook or camera, feeding my eyes and my imagination again tomorrow.

The garden beckons me every day, rain or shine, and especially now when it's at its best. Hurrah for a garden full of luscious color palettes and rich with ideas!

Friday, June 1, 2007

The farm down the road...

Kristi was weeding when I ambled through the orchard, past the shed and out back to the herb garden.

"Almost ready!" she said with a laugh.

I can hardly wait until next Friday, when we pick up the first batch of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs from Riversong Farm garden, a community supported agricultural farm. Currants, beets, oregano and rosemary... things that don't fit into our garden or schedule. Every week something new, something exciting in a plain cotton bag waiting in Kristi's shed.

And there, just beyond Kristi's shoulder, waited my model.

I'm working on some Thanksgiving cards just now and wanted a turkey to show off for me. Here he was, strutting and puffing his chest, acting as if he had been a professional model all his life.

I snapped his photo while the dear bird turned and faced the camera, then acted as if he were walking down a runway, pivoting and showing his feathers to best advantage.

You wouldn't blame me, would you, for dashing home to ask the neighbor children to model, then quick as a wink heading for the studio? I will be out around midnight if all goes well, with the picture that's roosting in my head emerging from the scissors. I plan to do justice to that wonderful Narragansett tom turkey who lives just down the road.

Next week I'll have to bring a little treat for the old fellow. He did a splendid job of posing for this artist, who considers herself mighty lucky today. How many of us get the fun of live turkeys for a Thanksgiving model? I may even have second thoughts about eating his relations in November!