Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tulip love

On my daily jog, camera tucked in my pocket, I happened across this field just before a brilliant sunset, when all the tourists had vanished. Just me and my dogs alone in a vast sea of color.

Dazzled. Stunned.

I find myself holding my breath in the face of so much beauty...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


"It's gorgeous again!" I smiled to Russell this morning, gazing out on the garden, which is becoming more lush by the hour.

There's nothing that inspires me more than botanicals.

So I went out and reveled in the trees a while, then came back indoors to work on some branches.

Here's the result. Don't you just love the elegant simplicity of nature?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring along the country roads

This morning the breeze was scented with that lovely perfume you smell in farm country in spring: cow manure. Strange as it sounds, that scent heralds spring and after a few years it becomes a welcome smell after all, signaling the return of blue skies and lush green foliage in our farm community.

The music of tractors plowing back and forth is the musical accompaniment we cherish...

While we don' t have acreage, we cherish the farmland our neighbors plant and make a game of guessing the crops as we pass during planting season, watching for the first sprouts of potato or pea or wheat.

Meantime our own flower beds sprout blossoms large and small, and I can't resist the lure of a new pencil and the friendly sketch pad waiting on the table by the door.

This year the gloom of winter held on extra-long, so we've got early spring flowers at the end of April... the hellebores are inspiring new color schemes in my imagination... What will tomorrow bring?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Words of hope

Have you had enough of the gloom & doom? I sure have. Time for a few rays of sunshine, for thinking happy...

The old wild toad is making his annual pilgrimage to the studio doorway again (now where did I hide that chipped clay pot he likes to call home?) My husband and son are out in the garden sawing up logs from the giant fir tree we had felled, letting in lots more sunshine. The tulips by the studio door are abloom and the new pear is leafing out.

Good news all around. This is the perfect time to work on my new collection... encouraging words!

More peeks coming soon...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chicks in the studio

Lately I've struggled a bit with creative fatigue... that feeling that I've somehow lost my touch, that everything I create looks a bit, well, tired or lacking style. It's a panicky feeling, reminiscent of the robber-hiding-in-a-closet sensation you had as a child. And you wonder how to get rid of that nasty nagging fear that your zip is gone. Permanently.

I think I've discovered at least one way to send creative fatigue out the door quicker than your daddy could look under the bed when you were five... Get some chickens!

Today I became Mother Hen to nine adorable chicklets! They're just three days out of the egg and cute enough to inspire a whole raft of new work.

The garage was too chilly, so the fluff-balls are living in cushy quarters, warming under a heat lamp in a corner of the studio, alongside the calligraphy worktable.

I have ideas for a dozen Easter images I can hardly wait to start, but I can't tear my gaze away from their dainty feet and shiny black eyes.

Creative fatigue? What creative fatigue?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring basket how-to

"I am just dying," I told my friend, "for a to-die-for spring basket!"

So I splurged on a very sturdy basket of woven wire. Looks vintage, loaded with detail, just my style.

The first step wasn't too picturesque. I emptied a carton of canned tomatoes and cut it down so it filled the inside. Then went outdoors and scooped up a bunch of the ever-present moss, grabbed some packing excelsior from a shipping parcel I saved months ago, and lined the basket to cover up the yucky carton inside.

Then the fun part. I tucked in some maidenhair fern and
little violas, a pair of birds' nests and some feathers, and finished off with some natural eggs to which I'd glued the simplest of paper decorations snipped from little scraps.

Then I looked at the basket from different angles, moved a feather here or a bit of moss there, just making little tweaks...

You can't see it well but I calligraphed a wee tag and tied it on with French silk ribbon in an olive tone.

The dainty flowers and ferns, along with other woodsy natural elements gave me just the basket I've always dreamed of, and on a shoestring, too.

You should try this quick & easy seasonal basket- it's really surprising how simple it is and a snap to make with whatever you've got in your yard. I might add a few violets this afternoon...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Around our little valley

There are days in early spring when our little valley looks like a picture postcard. Today was just such a day.

The roads are lined with fields of daffodils that stretch to the horizon, striped with muddy furrows and punctuated here and there with barns and trees.

Neighbors who seemed to hibernate all winter are outdoors again. Around here we all garden, and lots of us keep chickens, horses or goats. It's not some weird Main Street USA but the neighbors do stop for a visit while we're on our daily jogs or just crossing the street to pick up the mail from the roadside box.

On days like this even the animals seem friendly. Penny and this donkey sniffed noses happily... I was a little concerned at first but they really liked one another.

Today at Christianson's Nursery I was tempted to buy everything in sight... I resisted but not entirely. Their plants cover this valley, and you can't possibly stop in there and escape without a couple pots of scilla, some sweet peas, or a strawberry tree.

Then home with a fresh realization that we're surrounded by miracles, and every square inch is packed with wonders. I am so thankful for this little valley I call home.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Waiting and watching

I'm dependent on my scanner. Ridiculously so. Now with it in the shop I've got calligraphy and cut paper and diagrams everywhere. Making a terrific mess in the studio... piles of art litter every surface like confetti at a parade.

I am dying to get my repaired scanner back so I can scan all this and get organized again. And post it!

So art is emerging like peonies in the back garden
and waiting for Epson to get the necessary parts.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bunny time in the garden

They were so small, so sweet.

Setting up a new chicken coop in the back corner of the garden, my son accidentally uncovered a hidden rabbit warren, where four babies were napping.

Out they hopped, and we scrambled to put them back into the snug little nest among the roots of the giant fir tree.

So sweet they were, so small... we hope they're safe and won't begrudge them a few carrots from the raised beds this summer.

Our own Peter Rabbits. I can hardly wait.

I think I've got to snip some of these little darlings and glue them on my eggs. My scissor fingers are itching again!


What's the quintessential color of spring?

Here we know spring has finally arrived when the dismal, somber grays are punctuated by brilliant tones of yellow.

First it's a tiny touch here, a flick of color there.

Then we find polka dots of yellow here and there when the dandelions come, splotches of bright crocus and forsythia, and wide brilliant carpets of brilliant yellow, daffodils in splendid carpets.

What's your favorite spring color? Today yellow is mine but tomorrow that might change...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Feeling wealthy

Walking through the woods, I picked up a hunk of moss I found laying in the middle of the path.

I know almost every inch of these trails... which trees will flower first, a hidden patch of wild blueberry...

But I found a surprise!

A bunch of pussy willow, furry as could be, just about to leaf out.
I picked a little sprig and found myself grinning.

I felt so rich & satisfied. There's so much goodness in every day.

The tang of cranberries in my oatmeal, wind whistling through the trees, the softness of that hunk of moss in my hand.

I'm spending my attention on these blessings, making them the focus of my art. To heck with the news, this is the real stuff anyway.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Family portrait

I've been snipping away on faces lately. Kind of fun to do straightforward portraits again.

This big family portrait went out yesterday... a large group tucked into a lovely scrapbook even fuller of memories than portraits in honor of a beloved grandma's birthday.

Don't you wish you could join the party?