Friday, December 23, 2011

No Computer Eeeeeecccckkkkk

I just want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  Also Happy New Year.  Last week our basement flooded with four inches of water.  Luckily, my computer wasn't affected, but is  disconnected.  At the moment I'm using my son's little Acer. 

We had the water remediation people in, carpeting and tile torn up and two feet of drywall taken out in order to prevent mold damage.  The good part is that we got rid of tons of  "things". I've been wanting to purge the house of possessions for a while.  Be careful what you wish for, ha.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Oil on Stretched Canvas

This is my latest painting called "Joy".  I've been away from the easel and computer lately because I'm involved in a different painting project.  Not my favorite though.  I've been prepping and painting the master bathroom.  It's not nearly as satisfying as painting oil paintings:)  

I find that when I can't paint at the easel, I'm still painting in my head.  I'm looking forward to getting back to doing what I love most, which is painting oil landscapes in my little sun room.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Oil on Stretched Canvas

The month of November is the month on abundance.  It's the time of year when we celebrate Thanksgiving and think about all we have to be grateful for in our lives.  I love the simplicity of this holiday.  It's time to gather with family and friends and enjoy each other in the spirit of peace.

We miss those who are no longer with us, but choose to reminisce about the good times.  And it seems every year there is someone new who comes to the table, be it new friends of my children or just someone who is far from home and has nowhere to go.  

When we think about what we have to be grateful for, we're rich beyond measure.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Oil on Linen

This painting sold last week.  I'm happy that it's going to a new home, but I think I'll miss it.  As an oil painter, I always find it almost impossible to replicate a painting.  Even if I look at my own painting in front of me, it just never works out the same. 

It's almost as if every painting is "what happened that day".  Do you ever miss paintings that you've sold?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October Snippets

 Thought I'd share some of the goings on in my kitchen lately.  This is my daughter and her boyfriend.  He gave her a fantastic juicer for her birthday.  Here they are reading the instructions for the first test run.  They had just come back from the Farmer's Market with fresh produce.

 Here's Jess doing the prep work.  She loves to work in the kitchen.  Cooking is her passion.  Luckily her boyfriend likes doing dishes.  I think it's a match made in heaven.

 My latest smallish painting called "Beloved".  It's 12x16 done on cotton stretched canvas.

I entered "Chimes" at the Danada Nature Art and Photography show this year.  I'm happy the judge liked it.  I hope your October is a blessed one!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Oldie

Autumn Woods
Oil on Canvas

I was going through some of my old paintings and came across this one from years back.  This style is so foreign to me now.  It was done when I was just learning to paint with oils.  But I just had to pull it out because autumn is my very favorite time of year.  It's hard to believe that it's almost October.

Here is my favorite autumn quote:

The fields are harvested and bare,
And Winter whistles through the square.
October dresses in flame and gold
like a woman afraid of growing old.

                        - Anne Mary Lawler

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kindred Spirits

The Magic Hour
Oil on Linen

My painting "The Magic Hour" sold last weekend.  I have several paintings in a new gallery in Forest Park, Illinois, not far from Chicago.  The owner told me that foot traffic had not been good this summer.  Maybe because of the economy, heat, or other factors.

Suddenly this painting was bought by someone who just had to have it.  Which leaves me wondering ... what is it about certain paintings that compel people to buy them?

I have certainly purchased my share of paintings over the years.  Usually there is something about it that I relate to very strongly.  I just have to have it.  I guess what I'm wondering is what that certain something is about my own paintings.  Are your collectors really kindred spirits?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Distilling Down to the Essence

Oil on Linen

As I look back on all the paintings I have done over the years, I realize that I am painting with less detail.  Years ago I would get so wrapped up in the details.  And when a painting was finished, I was rarely happy with the result.  Now my goal is to capture the essence of what I am trying to say.  My paintings have become much more distilled.

No longer do I sit when painting.  I constantly stand in front of the easel.  This gives the painting focus and energy.  I also back up every so often to see just exactly where the painting is going.

These days, my paintings seem to come from somewhere in my subconscious.   

Friday, August 19, 2011


Oil on Canvas

Seems I've been suffered from writer's block lately.  Sometimes I just can't find the words to express what I'm trying to say.  Maybe I should write in a daily journal.  Years ago I kept journals faithfully.  I would sit down in the late afternoon and record thoughts that would pop into my head.  When I was a young girl, I kept diaries too.  

As with painting, writing is something that requires practice. We need to air out our thoughts and feelings so that they more easily come to the surface.  When I don't paint for a while, I become blocked and kind of crabby.  When in the flow of painting, I feel happy and alive.  I think that holds true for any passionate activity.  Use it or lose it.

Have you ever experienced writer's block or any other block?  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Filling the Lamps

This is my oil lamp collection.  I started collecting these lamps many years ago.  Some of them came from Williamsburg, Virginia while on vacation.  Others came from northern Minnesota at an antique dealer's shop.  And some were picked up at local flea markets.

The other day, I cleaned and filled them all with lamp oil.  We have lost our power so many times this summer due to big rain storms.  Now there is a flashlight next to the bed because sometimes the power goes out in the middle of the night.

For the rest of the summer the oil lamps will sit in the middle of the dining room table.  Just in case.  I secretly love these times when I get to pull them out, light them and just bask in their glow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Busy July, Oh My

Lily Dance
Oil on Canvas Panel

I painted Lily Dance three years ago before becoming completely immersed in the Tonalist style.  Every time I go to the Art Institute of Chicago, the first thing I do is go to the Claude Monet paintings.  Viewing his originals is like stepping into a wonderful dream world.  The viewer comes away feeling nurtured and refreshed.

Feeling so inspired, I felt compelled to paint water lilies.  This painting is one of six water lilies that I painted that year.  I thought it was sweet that the buyer's daughter is also named Lily.

July has been filled with so many things to do for us - weddings, graduations, sailing and get-togethers.  I hope your July is a busy, happy one too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Stillness

Summer Stillness
Cradled Panel

My favorite time of day to be outside in July is early evening.  When the sun starts going down, it's a great time to go for a long walk and enjoy the outdoors.  It's when the fireflies make an appearance and we experience the magic hours.

Summer can be a time of intense activity and social gatherings.  It has been that way for me this summer.  That's why I try to make time to be alone in nature, just observing all the beauty around me.

Meaning, moods, the whole scale of our inner experience, finds in nature "the correspondences" through which we may know our boundless selves.

- Kathleen Raine


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

 Every year my husband goes fishing up in northern Minnesota, right across the border from Canada.  It's the yearly fishing trip trip for all the guys in the 5W fishing club and they've been together for the past 25 years.  My brother, his brothers and our son go also.

For me, it's called summer vacation.  A week free from dishes, routine meals, etc.  My daughter and I use this time to catch up by shopping, going out to eat and just lazing around.  Time to view the beautiful night sky.

Time to watch the mushrooms dance.  It looks like they're trying to make their way into the front door.

Leo is so happy to be back home.  Here he's taking a sun bath in his favorite spot.  There's no place like home.  I know my husband will tell me that when he gets back from his fishing trip.  That's what he tells me every year.  And I'll be happy to hear about all his fishing tales.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A June Evening

A June Evening
Oil on Linen

The greens are so abundant this time of year.  June is my favorite summer month.  I love the freshness of the landscape.  The foliage isn't overgrown yet.  The air is soft and fragrant.  It would be June all summer if I had my way.  I know that the hot humidity is coming here to Chicago.  That's when we're constantly watering our flowers and watching the temperature before heading out the door.  But June is perfect, even though we've had our share of rain.

I used green in the sky of this landscape.  It also has magenta mixed with naples yellow.  These colors, to me, are the colors of June.  The colors of contentment.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Miracles Do Happen

Our cat, Leo, was cast into our lives when my son and his college room mates broke up housekeeping after graduation.  My son asked if we would take care of him for only a week while he went on a fishing trip. Six years later, he's still here.

Leo is de-clawed and has a bad habit of slipping out the back door whenever some unsuspecting guest comes over and isn't used to watching for him.  He did just that last night.  But this time he didn't come back.  He wasn't anywhere.  He just disappeared.

We looked and looked, asked neighbors if they had seen him and became very discouraged.  We thought some animal got him.  As a last resort, I called the police department.  And they HAD HIM in custody.  It turns out that some wonderful teachers at the grade school (six blocks away) found him hiding under a car.  Several teachers were involved in getting him out.  Then one of them brought him to the vet to see if he has a chip.  (No).  Then the teacher took him to the police department.  The police officer said that they were just about to take him to the animal shelter.

So guess what I'm doing this Saturday.  I'm getting him a chip and a collar with his name and phone number.  Because miracles like this don't come along everyday.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Magic Evening

Magic Evening

Have you every read a quote that speaks to the heart? I love to collect quotes from many different sources and write them down in my black leather journal.  It's where I turn for inspiration when I'm feeling off kilter.  But this quote turned my thinking upside down.

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was struck by the utter simplicity.  To me it means that no matter how proficient we are or what we have experienced in life, we're still always learning.  As an artist, it is especially freeing to think that every time I pick up a paintbrush, it's an experiment.  I may follow a formula or certain rules, but I can never predict the outcome.  Thanks, Ralph!

Thursday, May 12, 2011


 After bypassing this color for so many years, I found that I'm head over heels in love with magenta this spring.  I always considered it to be too bright, too loud or too something for my own palette.  Somehow it crept up on me and wormed it's way into my artist soul.  And looking back, I've always admired this color in other artists' paintings.

 Maybe it's because the crab apple tree looked so luscious this year.  I stare at it through the front window and am amazed that it looks like a giant bouquet of flowers.  At sunset the flowers turn a lovely magenta color.

 The scattered petals at the bottom of the tree on the lawn look like faerie sprinkles.  So utterly charming.

As with any new love affair, it takes a while to work things out.  These small studies are just the beginning, as I certainly need to put in a lot more studio hours into the relationship.  And to be honest, I don't know if this will be a long term relationship or just a fling.  Only time will tell.  But for now, I'm totally enamoured  with magenta.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Studio is Finally Organized

Whew, it took a while to get my downstairs studio organized.  I wrote about it back in October here.  After painting in pastels, then switching to oils, there were so many art supplies, etc. accumulated, that some serious reorganization was in order.  I can finally put my hands on any painting or any thing at any time.  The only thing out of place is the Scrabble game on the wicker bench.  I need to know where to find that at any time too!

I ordered another painting trolley.  The painting at the far right isn't mine.  It's a collaborative effort of different people who were over at the house one night.  They all thought it would be fun to try painting and this is the result.

Now that I feel organized, I can finally concentrate on the important stuff.  Painting!

P.S.  The Space Rover trolly can be found at ASW Express.

Friday, April 8, 2011

April Inspiration

Time for another artist's date.  My husband and I went to Starved Rock State Park last week and stayed in a log cabin for three nights.  Most people think of Illinois as completely flat.  This area is one of rolling hills and canyons and waterfalls.  It was carved out by the glaciers 116 thousand years ago and people come from all over to witness the incredible beauty.

 We walked for miles on the trails throughout the park.  The above photo is Council Bluff.  Of course the photo doesn't do it justice because in reality it resembles a cathedral in the woods.  Legend has it that here is where the Native Americans would come together for community and ceremony.
 I didn't notice the rainbow at the time I took this picture.  Indeed these woods are magical.
Here is one of 18 canyons in the park.  My husband and I have come here in the winter when the waterfalls are actually ice falls.  It's hard to say which time of year is more beautiful.

Trips like this inspire my soul.  There is nothing like being out in nature.

Update:  Sam asked why this place is called Starved Rock.  According to Native American tradition, some Peoria Indians who came under attack by a war party of Potowanami Indians suffered starvation when trapped on a rock without food or water.  You can check out the history of the park here.

Monday, March 14, 2011



What is it about the night sky that makes us feel in awe?  During the magic hours of night we adjust our eyes to the darkness and peer across the landscape at the silhouettes and shapes.  If there is a moon in the sky, our eyes are naturally riveted to that glowing orb.

No sight is more provocative of awe than is the night sky.

- Llewelyn Powys

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Joy in Common Hours

Joy in Common Hours

This painting painted itself.  I felt like I was along for the ride to see what would happen next.  All I had to do was show up at the easel.  This happens to me occasionally when painting.  Usually it takes a lot more thought, but not this time.  Maybe it had to do with being in the zone.

When my days are uninterrupted, the work flows seamlessly.  Or maybe it has to do with the quality of light at this time of year.  The sunshine streams into my studio now.  There is a promise of Spring.

 It is the first mild day of March.
Each minute sweeter than before...
There is a blessing in the air...

-William Wordsworth

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Could be a Florida Painter in a Different Life

 Naples, FL Sunset

After the BIG snowfall this year in Chicago (20 inches), my husband and I had the opportunity to go on a business trip to Naples, Florida.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  Sunlight deprivation starts setting in this time of year.  After digging out from under the snow and experiencing extreme cold, it was time to head south.  Oh yeah, I forgot how good it feels to walk without worrying about slipping on the ice.  I forgot how the air smells when all is lush and green in the landscape.  

Our back porch after the snowfall

I took this picture through the dining room window before we started digging out.  As you can see, getting out the back door was impossible.  Luckily the front entrance as a big portico, we we were able to go out that way.  The snow was incredibly beautiful.  Especially if you were one of the lucky few who didn't have to remove it. 

Gazing out over the mangrove forest, I took some pictures of the incredible Florida sunsets.  Oh yes, I could definitely be a Florida painter in a different life.  But my lot in life is live with the four seasons.  I do love the four seasons because there is beauty in each.  Here are a couple of WIPs.  Now that we're back in Illinois, I can settle down and finish them.  That is, if there is no more digging out.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Winter Inspiration

 Watercolor painting by Joel Optholt

Finding inspiration in the depth of winter can sometimes be a challenge.  Here in the Chicagoland Midwest, it sometimes feels like we're hibernating in between going about our daily lives of working.   There are the challenges of bundling up every time we step outdoors and moving slower everywhere we go because of the snow.  I think of this time of year as "filling the well".  Here are a few of the things that inspire me.  The above painting was done by my talented brother.  His watercolors are done in a style uniquely his.  I often think of "stealing" some more of his watercolors when I go to his house.

 Evening Pines by Deborah Paris

I feel so lucky to own this original oil painting by Deborah Paris.  I've taken online classes from her and continue to learn from this very talented artist.  Her work has certainly inspired by own painting and      is a constant source of inspiration. This painting hangs in my dining room and I sometimes take it off the wall to examine this painting up close.   

 Landscape Study #28l by Tracy Helgeson

This small landscape study by Tracy Helgeson inspires me on a daily basis.  Tracy is not afraid to use vivid color in her landscapes.  She is a prolific artist and is completely original with her designs.  Here you can see the layers she uses in her painting.  I'm in awe. 

 This is a good time to dust off some old titles in the library.  Reading certainly inspires the soul.

My latest addition to the library is A History of American Tonalism:  1880-1920.  My goal is to read it from cover to cover.  It explains the mentality and philosophy of the American artists in historical terms.  But that's a subject for another post.

Where are all of you gather inspiration from at this time of year?