Monday, August 31, 2009

Sierra botanica

What does an artist do for inspiration? Some of us take a vacation and find ourselves making art just for the pure joy of it.

Here's a peek at my recent travel journal, a simple little collection of sketches...

You can do it, too! Abandon perfectionism here. Just do whatever looks right to you~ please yourself and don't worry about anyone else thinking it looks great (or perhaps not!)

Jot down little two or three minute sketches of whatever catches your eye...

Maybe you'll notice a funny bug or botanicals or the child across the street.

When some rosa rugosa foliage and hips dripped down my leg (snapshot above) I sat down and
did the world's fastest sketch with a little wash over it. Don't expect perfection- I sure don't! This is just an exercise in observation, a way to remember what you see. And it's doggone fun, too!

Pardon my rotten journal photos. For some reason my snapshots look washed out. You'll just have to take my word for it, this is a nice, fast, pleasant way to record your observations.

Notice the simple things...

a blade of grass or the nubby bits on a wildflower bud...

It need not be anything more exotic than a common dandelion. Just sketch whatever pleases your eye.

I spent the week enjoying the botanicals so that's what I sketched and photographed on my retreat but you might be captivated by something else.

Whether you're making a journal or not, sketching or not, join me in pausing today to notice the common miracles. Then take a moment to say thank you.

Going green

Can't you almost smell the breeze coming off the snowy patches in this alpine meadow at the edge of Yosemite?

I loved each and every tiny leaf and bit of bark, the sky and the absence of anything man-made. No noise but the rustling of trees in the wind.

But best of all, look at all the green!

And it's not just one green but a thousand hues and tones. Isn't it luxurious?

Green mixed with cream and white and brown.

Gentle greens so subtle they almost look gray.

Green that shades into yellow or blue... dark and vibrant green fading into paler, softer tones.

On my retreat, I've fallen head over heels even more in love with my favorite color: green.

I'm starting work on a new series of botanicals and this is the palette, right here in these pictures: all the delectable shades of green.

I offer you a challenge for today: Keep your eyes open to the myriad of greens in your everyday world. Muse on all those lovely greens.

Which one's your favorite? Right now mine's the slightly yellowish shade on these juniper needles I found at the edge of an alpine lake last week. What a soothing color...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've been away...

I've been away.

First I was hibernating with the scissors, paper and computer, trying desperately to finish up the nursery rhyme series, and then literally dashing out the door after another all night work session.

Then, as if by magic, I was whisked away by Mr. Wonderful to our annual pilgrimage to the Eastern Sierras.

It's the place where, ever since I was a tiny child, I have found refreshment and peace in the mountains and meadows of Yosemite and the surrounding area.

Vivid blue skies.

Shimmering aspen leaves.

Wildflowers, deer, brook trout.

Time to sketch or just sit and meditate while your toes soak in an icy stream. Time simply to be.

Which has me wondering...

Why do I wait all year for this? Where are the little niches of time and space in my everyday to stop the world and retreat?

Surely I am not the only one who needs this blessed time alone in nature as an antidote to the stress and worry of modern day life. What are your secrets to finding a peaceful retreat? Where and how do you wedge in a tiny vacation in the midst of your everyday world?

I would love to hear how you balance stress and retreat, and where you find a restful spot for recharging your batteries.

I plan to share peeks at my retreat in the next few days, to show you the inspirations I found in the woods, where the leafy shapes intrigued me and the natural palettes had me making plans for future work...

Sunday, August 16, 2009


This afternoon I looked around the garden: weeds.
Looked around the house: dirty laundry, dog hair and dishes in the sink.
Popped in the studio door: to-do lists everywhere.

I had a horrible attitude.

Then I looked again.

I saw Katie, our sweet dog, once horribly abused, now rescued and rolling with glee in the grass. Even if the lawn is mostly clover and dandelions, it's a happy spot.

The clover is full of bees, and they're making the honey we spread on our home made bread...

I even caught the elusive motion of the wings!

Perfection might work for someone else.

For me, it's a life full of weeds and other imperfections. Sometimes it's a battle but I'm determined to enjoy life weeds and all.

Time for me to pick a dandelion, take a deep breath, make a wish and blow!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Composting beside the kitchen door

Upstairs on the deck, a few steps from the kitchen door, sits a plain cedar box.

The doggie pals love to sit beside it and gaze out at the garden and the fields beyond.

Inside that humble box a miracle is happening.

I fling my kitchen scraps into that box along with bits of newspaper and sprinkles of water and presto! In a few weeks the humble earthworms that live inside turn my old potato peels and apple cores into rich, organic compost.

That's why the tomatoes are so ruby red and juicy...

... the blooms are so sweet and the basil grows lusciously in my pots.

The humble little earthworms are working miracles just beyond the kitchen door.

We have a pair of big compost piles out in the garden that do the same thing on a grander scale, but today I am particularly smitten with one small cedar box of miracles.

If you want directions, pick up the book "Worms Eat My Garbage" and prepare yourself to be astounded by a simple transformation of trash to treasure that will leave you grinning.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nursery rhymes

Did you love the old, old nursery rhymes when you were a child? Do they still bring you a wave of nostalgia?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been snipping out nursery rhymes until the cows come home these last couple of weeks.

And I'm not the least bit tired of them. They come straight from my own neighborhood and memories of childhood.

You might remember a post a few days ago, when I shared reference pictures. Now you can see how I've used some of them.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A toast to yellow!

Cheers to the sunniest color around...

I read a wonderful blog this morning (check out and Sara made me remember again how cheerful yellow is!

Whether it's just a bright spot in a blossom...

...or a jolt of sunshine in the woods or garden...

Yellow is not a shy color!

I love the way a yellow duck bill makes you want to grin and a towheaded toddler can send you running through a meadow to scoop them into your arms.

Yellow's the happiest color in my palette. Darn near irresistible!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The blueberries are ripe all over the Skagit Valley. From the sun-soaked bushes to my kitchen...

The big white bowl beckons from the fridge and my favorite glass pie plate awaits.

A swish of the rolling pin, a quick grate of lemon rind, splashes of sugar...

Yum! Blueberry pie!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blue~ summer's coolest color


Summer's most glorious color. Blue, in a myriad of hues and tones...

The true blue of the hydrangeas by the back gate and the almost-violet hue of the ones by the front steps...

The blue of summer skies, different from any other season, more vivid somehow.

Even the bees are lost in summer's coolest color, burying themselves in the blue perfume.