Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Inspiration -- A Gift from the Universe!

A prickly-hot late spring day: Bill and I were traveling through Big Bend country, headed south of Marfa, Texas on U.S. 67 toward Big Bend Ranch State Park. I noticed a white church, just off the road. Thorny growth and rocks between us and the church, the sight was instantly intriguing.

After we returned home, I Googled the church and found out that it is the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Shafter, Texas. Shafter is nearly a ghost town. I spent a couple of years considering what to do with the image, and earlier this year completed this watercolor.

"Crown of Thorns"
Taking a cue from my quilt block patterned cut paper collages, I drew out the grid for a "Crown of Thorns" quilt on the watercolor paper before transferring the drawing of the church and prickly poppies. "Crown of Thorns" is an old quilt block design and I felt like the title and pattern supported my subject. I have to say, painting the quilt design values and colors onto the paper before the painting subject was just as crazy-making as doing it in collage. Yikes! I felt, after mostly completing the painting, that there was not enough value change and texture on the bottom part of the painting, and added two collaged prickly poppies and some stickery-stuff to lead the eye, via a white movement, upward to the church.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Melding of Cultures

I remember learning in a painting class about Georgia O'Keeffe: the statements she made -- about just any subject -- were always so memorable. One, about the "...thin, dark veil of the Catholic Church spread over the New Mexico landscape" made such an impression on me. And, learning about the history of New Mexico strengthened my understanding of the importance of Catholicism in forming what New Mexican culture has become. The melding of Catholicism and native beliefs and religious practices have created our very unique culture.

Our Lady of the Green Corn

In "Our Lady of the Green Corn," I thought about that dark veil, about the golden aura around Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the "cloud terrace" headdresses worn in Pueblo ceremonies.  I thought of the importance of corn to the native peoples, and corn led me to crows, and crows to ravens. My mother said I had a "jackrabbit mind!"

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.