Sunday, July 7, 2019

Thank You, Great Universe!

This morning I sat in my red rocking chair on our beautiful New Mexico patio, watching the birds have their breakfast while I enjoyed my coffee. Thinking to myself how grateful I am for those birds, my patio, and a thousand other things, the phrase "attitude of gratitude" came to me. Researching via Google, it hasn't been clear who might have coined that phrase. But Charles Swindoll's name came up many times, connected to gratitude.

Charles Swindoll is an American Christian pastor who has endeavored to teach us, among other things, about the importance of gratitude in and on our lives. And Swindoll isn't alone: Indian-born M.D./author/public speaker/alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra has been working to help us understand connections between gratitude and health for more than 30 years. American inspirational speaker Tony Robbins teaches us to claim our own happiness by recognizing and believing in abundance. The list of gurus and great teachers who work to lead us to happiness through gratitude is long...

As an artist, I have seen so often that many people -- I might even go so far as to say most people -- don't recognize details in their environment. And I think that extends to recognizing what we should be grateful for. So, let me start my days by listing some of the millions of beautiful and wonderful expressions in our great universe.

Today, while watching those birds, I heard a little "PEEK!" and knew that a woodpecker must be near. I looked up just in time to see a gorgeous little ladderback male, landing on a post in front of me. He then flew into the globe willow where he showed off his tree clinging skills.

"Peek!" Ladderback Woodpecker
on Globe Willow

Saturday, June 1, 2019


A friend shared photos from a trip through the upper midwest. Her shot of a redwing blackbird male, perched in a marshy area, brought childhood memories of the blackbird's song, wafting across Nebraska fields. When these guys arrive, it's really spring. Friend Barbara gave me permission to paint from her photo. Maybe I didn't really need the photo, though: the image of a gorgeous, shiny blackbird perched on a cattail or a sapling, singing to the Nebraska breeze, is etched forever in my memory.

Redwing Blackbird

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Layers of Inspiration

Sitting on the patio last evening, I was watching the sky (surprise!). Beautiful sunsets are no rarity here, they are almost expected. The layers of pink, gold and soft lilac were like a balm after the end of a difficult day. One could just sit there and soak up the balm. Everything all better now.

While watching those layers softly move and change, it came to me that our world is presented to us in layers. Last night's first layer: the sky - up close and infinitely far away at the same moment. Next layer, mountains and mesas, 15 miles away and 50 miles away. Then trees, and finally the little "details" -- hopping and chirping birds, flowers and butterflies.

What a beautiful world we live in!

Nighthawks at Sunset

Monday, January 29, 2018

Love and Laughter

I have been inspired lately by love and laughter -- love for my lil stinker, Boogie (his name is really Bandit, but I call him Boogie unless I am yelling at him for chasing down and biting brother), and laughter at some of the things he does. Like drinking out of my coffee cup. Or tea cup. Or whatever I am drinking. You might not think cats like iced tea, but Boogie does. He likes the almond milk I put on Cheerios. He likes melted ice cream (but not Hagen Dasz Coffee, for some reason).

"Boogie Likes Cream in my Coffee!"
Love might seem like an obvious emotional inspiration, but how about amusement and even laughing out loud? The kind of amusement that makes you grab your camera? It worked for me here!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Permission to Fail

This afternoon we had a short workshop on "weaving," meaning weaving together two watercolors that have been cut into strips -- one vertically and one horizontally.  Participants brought "failed" paintings that needed a new life -- and they got it!

Mine started out as two unconnected paintings -- one was planets or moons out in space, the second was a desert floral. I chose the two by virtue of the similar colors and the round shapes.  Here's how it turned out:

We all had a lot of fun choosing paintings to work with, making decisions about colors and cutting. Every one of the participants had a very successful result. I was so glad to see them all enjoying the process, giving themselves permission to laugh and permission to fail. I feel that approaching art with this attitude leads to more successes.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My First Rodeo

Husband Bill and I took a weekend trip to Tombstone, Arizona. Well, I wasn't much impressed with Tombstone but the scenery on the trip there was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Knocked me out. Talk about inspiration!

These were taken south of Rodeo. So quiet. So unspoiled. So beautiful.
The fresh colors,  the sounds of nothin but birds and a gentle wind, it was just too too much. The layers of blues in those distant mountains...the waving grasses, the variety of greens. Very compelling and an open invitation to PAINT!

So last week I "did" a demonstration for an El Paso arts group, and I drew on all that gorgeousness to produce a just so-so collage. This one will be coming around again...

"First Rodeo"

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Negative Painting

The next few weeks, I'll be working with a group of watercolorists on negative painting. There's nothing negative about it! Negative painting means painting the space around a subject, generally with a darker or less intense color. The exercise I'm going to use demonstrates deepening space with layers of progressively darker background.

For the first layer, identify what will be the LIGHTEST LIGHTS of the painting.
Here, it's the moon. Paint around the lightest lights with light, not-too-intense color.

Second layer - identify the NEXT layer of lights -- slightly darker because
these will be on the layer that is already painted with the background color.
If you need to draw in the subject to keep from painting over it, that's fine.

Now, paint around the second layer with a slightly darker background,
this time avoiding the LIGHTEST LIGHTS and the NEXT LIGHTEST LIGHTS.

Fourth layer is same as third -- identify the next layer and paint around
that plus the second layer and the first with a dark background.
You could go on painting additional layers, deepening the space almost endlessly.