05 July 2011

a tree to climb

8 x 10 oil on panel

I did not paint this from life, but I lived life in order to paint it. I watched the film Seraphine with my local artist friends, friends for whom I am ever so thankful. This painting references an image from the movie. The fascinating story of Seraphine, sad and beautiful, was told with the use of lingering, quiet moments such as this. And so, inspired by friendship and beauty, and indulging in a quiet moment, I painted.

I actually completed this a week after the previous piece, but have not had a chance to post. I am catching up on life, which is a very good, very joyous, very tiring endeavour. I have drafted and sewn costumes, provided sewing tutelage, crafted gifts, invested time with teenagers I love (mine and otherwise). I have tended my garden, which (not gonna lie) is spectacular. I've experimented with natural dying of fabric and fiber. I've made lists and diagrams of future projects. And I've been designing an addition to our home that includes room for the easel, as well as all the other supplies and works-in-progress I continue to accumulate. I know that at some point I will devote time to the study of painting. For now, it is so nice to remember all the art forms which regenerate me, all the ways I create.

Seraphine and Darlene

22 April 2011


11x14 oil on canvas

Hello friends! I've been at rest for a year. I've been enjoying your blogs all the while. (I love Google Reader.) I haven't had the energy to leave many comments and definitely not enough energy for painting. After several years of physical and cognitive decline, and nearly constant fatigue (and much head-scratching, wrong-tree-barking, exasperation, and a long wait to see my current doctor), I have a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. It's too soon to report more, but I look forward to living again.

The tree in the painting is a memorial tree planted near our municipal building. I was surprised to find fruit in my search for flowering trees.

And yes, it felt good to be painting.

Here's to renewal.
Happy Earth Day.
Easter blessings.

21 April 2010

inner light

10x8 oil on panel

My kids have grown up with an awareness of ecology. Because environmental concerns are second nature to them, sustainability will always guide their decision making and lifestyle. They also have social awareness and a sense of fairness which could possibly lead to a career as a mild-mannered something-or-other by day, and superhero alter ego. A friend to the friendless, an ambassador of acceptance...these are superhero traits.

My kids are going to change the world, by their quiet example and their gentle influence on those around them.
Happy Earth Day.

17 April 2010

april deluge

8x6 oil on canvas panel

For this one, yellow was hard to paint, and harder to photograph. I had to sneak away to paint this, and couldn't really take pleasure in it. I am having a very busy April.

The kids and I made costumes for an anime convention, my son was confirmed at church, and I helped a student with a project. But the biggest issue this month is my father's health. He had neurosurgery to relieve pain from trigeminal neuralgia, and while the surgery seemed to be successful, he ended up having a stroke. Or something. It's not really clear. But he currently has difficulty speaking and eating. I want to be mad about it, but darn it, that man is so cheerful. I can understand his garbled speech enough to catch every joke he makes. He is such a clown, and I adore him. And my mom is a rock. She can handle anything. Mom must be the upright daffodil, and the one who looks like she needs a drink is me.

19 March 2010


croque-monsieur, 7x5 oil on panel, sold ---- croque-madame, 7x5 oil on panel

Spring has sprung. The grass is ris'. I wonder where Miss Darlene is?
After a long hibernation, I have emerged, like the crocuses in my front yard.

My stupid thyroid conspired with my seasonal affective disorder to knock me on my can. All along, I have been watching your blogs, enjoying the view. Your blogs and Turner Classic Movies have been my salvation on days when sitting up was the best I could do. Speaking of my broken thyroid, please keep in mind that cadmium is toxic to the thyroid gland. You won't see that, or its link to breast cancer, on your paint labels. I eliminated heavy metals from my palette some time ago.

The only cobalt around is this tiny blue bottle, which previously held essential oil. It is the best vase for a little crocus. The cobalt bottle reminds me of Feist's sparkly blue jumpsuit.

21 December 2009

winter stillness

10x8 oil on canvas panel

I started this painting weeks ago, and never did return to it. The palette now has globs of unusable, but very pretty, paint. I enjoyed the mixing, and using knife and brush to layer color. The golden sweet gum leaf is the serendipitous result of removing paint. This ghost of the wrong colors better captures the real leaf, from my front yard. I really wanted to return to the painting and tighten it up. But as it is, I am forced to appreciate what I created, which is in a different tenor than my usual work. My husband likes it a lot, and I understand he has great taste.

Peace to you and yours. Happy Winter Solstice.

19 November 2009

patient pumkins

12x9 oil on canvas paper

These little guys have been sitting around for a month, waiting to pose. (There was a third, a jack-be-little, but he was jack-be-squishy by this time.) I bought them because of their interesting, spooky hats. I figured I better paint them before they rot, or I rot. I'm more than a little rusty. I don't feel like I'm quite finished, but my sore neck forces me to stop. Painting that flying-kite of a leaf, and allowing it to remain happily underdeveloped, was my favorite part.

14 October 2009

child of a working man

8x6 oil on canvas panel

Crystal Lee Sutton, the inspiration for the film and the character Norma Rae, passed away last month. Crystal Lee's obituary describes how cancer medication was delayed by her health insurance company. Don't get me started.

Bless the child of a workin' man.
She knows too soon who she is.
And bless the hands of a workin' man.
He knows his soul is his.
-- "It goes like it goes," written by Norman Gimbel

02 October 2009

paper rose

6x8 oil on paper

I had a quick opportunity, so I tried the rose again, this time on gessoed watercolor paper. It was an interesting surface, similar to board. After initially sinking in, the paint maintains a nice level of luminosity.

Paper Roses, Marie Osmond
When I was a kid, my Dad sang this to me as "pepperoni."

01 October 2009

Sandra's Rose

10x8 oil on canvas panel
I never planted a rose bush until a neighbor gave me a lovely Don Juan climber. It is dark and velvety, with a really nice fragrance. Come to think of it, so is my neighbor. (She's awesome. She's on my list of people I want to be like when I grow up.)

Exploring all those reds was interesting. I wanted to paint not the idea of a rose, but this rose, in this light. It is my hope that this will sharpen my perception and my paint mixing...eventually!

Garden Rose, Kris Delhorst
Rose in the Garden, Karla Bonoff

24 September 2009

dimming datura

8x6 oil on canvas panel

I chased the light, and also the flower. The Datura changed shape while I worked, sitting in the front yard in the late afternoon. I was interested in the gesture of the blooms. They are large and on the move. I'm actually a little afraid of them. I think they may try to eat me.

This plant, hallucinogenic or toxic depending on the dose, is near a brick wall. I couldn't think of how to represent brick without looking cartoonish, so I went for the color. It's a study, a reason to push paint.

Can I just say how much I appreciate my blogging pals?! I learn so much by observing their work and reflections. And I feel very supported and encouraged. Um, that makes my friends sound like a push-up bra. I guess that makes me a boob.

Dimming of the Day, Linda and Richard Thompson

04 September 2009

not empty

6x8 oil on canvas panel

I usually paint in solitude, and that suits me. But I had the opportunity to paint with friends, and I really enjoyed it. Exchanging ideas and sharing encouragement was uplifting. We will continue to paint together, then present our Paintings from the Patio at Elan Gallery, Sept. 25th.

I hadn't painted in three, count'em, three months. I returned to an old habit of scrubbing with thin paint. It's a habit which is hard to relinquish because I sometimes get happy moments of layered color that please me. Maybe I'm really a pastel or colored pencil artist, and just haven't discovered it yet.

22 August 2009

heartfelt peony

9x7 oil on canvas panel

Here is an incomplete rendering of a peony from my garden. I painted this in June, allowing myself a quick break between visits to the hospital, where my parents were playing musical beds. It was a scary time, with Mom finding out just how useful her internal defibrillator is, and Dad experiencing health troubles also. They are both doing fairly well now. Normal life has resumed, although at a slower pace.

Hopefully, I'll get back into a rhythm of painting soon. I need a jolt, maybe not a defibrillator, but perhaps a kick in the rump.

07 May 2009

Earl Grey, hot

6x6 oil on board

This felt good! I haven't painted in weeks, nor have I spent quality time with my blogging pals. There are quite a few artists online with whom I'd love to sit and have a cuppa.

I follow an embarrassingly large number of blogs. It is a celebration of people as well as the art they create. I enjoy reading about the sordid lives of the Pre-Raphaelites as much as the next person, but I am fascinated to learn what present day artists, of all levels of experience or education, are thinking and feeling when they work.

As for me, I was thinking, "boy, this old paint is gummy" and "I wonder if I put enough money in the parking meter." I painted this in an hour. I made myself walk away before I started to nit-pick or tidy up. There is something about this piece- the hues, the color washed background, the thrift store tea pot?- which feels like home. It feels like me.

Feels like Home, sung by Linda Ronstadt, written by Randy Newman.
Home, sung by Bonnie Raitt, written by Karla Bonoff

13 April 2009

studying art and history

These are studies from a few weeks ago. I hope to try again while I still have daffodils in the yard. I haven't had the chance to paint or to comment on blogs lately.

We recently spent a few days in Philadelphia. We toured some historic sites, very inspirational, and we spent a day at the art museum. No, I did not run up the steps.

The exhibit Cezanne and Beyond was well planned, with an audio tour. It was interesting to see the ways in which Cezanne's work influenced artists who followed, but I was mainly focused on him. We also viewed a healthy collection of European Art 1850-1900.

As we headed back to Pittsburgh, we took a detour to Chadds Ford, to visit the Brandywine River Museum. It was so great to see the work of Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth, oh the many Wyeths. I lingered over Andrew's work, some of which included a written statement of his thoughts. It was heartening to see a painting dated 2008.

Our next stop was Shanksville, where we paid our respects at the Flight 93 temporary memorial. I was nearly oblivious to gentle rain and cold air as I stared out over the barren, sacred field. For a moment I imagined I was in a Wyeth painting, an expanse on the cusp of color. I'm at a loss to describe everything else I felt. I still have a lump in my throat.

07 April 2009

strawberry study 22

I've been busy doing Mommy stuff lately, so I've had little time for painting or blogging. I spent a few days at the sewing machine, and from where I was working, I heard our backyard wind chimes. The chimes kept playing a series of notes from the Brothers Johnson song, Strawberry Letter 23. It reminded me that I painted these strawberries a few weeks ago, and never got around to posting, partly because they are studies to help me figure out why I can't seem to paint strawberries. If the chimes played Wipeout it would be just as appropriate, since that was the fate of 2 other studies.

25 March 2009

garlic and onion

6x8 oil on canvas panel, private collection

Most of my cooking starts with garlic and onion. I can't think of a dish that doesn't start with garlic and onion. If you come over for dinner, bring dessert, to ensure that it doesn't have garlic and onion.

20 March 2009


8x10 oil on canvas
When we enter our home, we remove our outdoor shoes. Inspired by Japanese custom, this is the first line of defense against household toxins. When I enter my studio, I change my shoes and put on an old cardigan. The fraying, paint covered sweater is more Kurt Cobain than Fred Rogers, but I often think about dear Fred when I perform this ritual.

Today is Mr. Rogers' birthday. I live pretty close to his neighborhood. He was a lovely man whom I hold in high esteem. I like him just for being him.

I never fail to be moved by this clip of Fred Rogers speaking before the Senate in 1969.

05 March 2009


10x8 oil on panel

What was I thinking?! A pineapple? I gave up swearing for Lent, so this was a challenge. This was an arduous exploration of color and texture. Actually, I like the process of searching for color. I don't mind getting it wrong a few times on the way. Since I'm too lazy to make charts, I should save my palette paper, because those are my charts. I read something once that advised not mixing more than 2 or 3 colors, ever. Bullshit. (25¢ for the swear jar.) Some really luscious colors, sophisticated colors, require a more involved recipe.

Since I knew I wasn't going to achieve a certain level of realism, I had the freedom to play a little. The tiles or scales of the pineapple are colorful calligraphy. This was the first time I felt comfortable painting on a gessoed panel. The smoothness was my ally for brush strokes and luminosity.

The background of the painting is a terracotta wall in the second room of my studio, the clean room. When I moved in, I painted, installed a picture rail, and glazed a stencil pattern to look time-worn. I built a bookcase, from recycled wainscoting, to fit in an unused doorway. Welcome to my studio.

26 February 2009


6x8 oil on canvas panel

It's been a rough couple of months, with both of my parents and both of my in-laws having health issues. I had to kick my own butt into the studio, and I enjoyed the painting time. I like this piece. For some reason it makes me think of SeƱor Wences.

No cadmium, folks. I cleaned up my act.