Monday, July 12, 2010


As you know, life unfolds in ways often unexpected. It took far longer than I had planned to finish this painting but that’s OK. At first I was frustrated because “life” kept interfering with my work, but like a whack on the side of the head I realized that no, no, life is, well, LIFE! Fortunately, going with the flow is something that I have gotten better at as the years have gone by. Posted on my refrigerator is a “Rural American Zen” reminder that It is just as is and it ain’t no is-er.”

Unfolding is the title of this new piece. It is difficult to see in this tiny photo but the apple tree has a few blossoms left as they continue to give way to the emerging leaves. As the tree unfurls to the next season, so too does the young girl perched within its protecting branches. For now she has found a safe center in which to dream, to set her intentions, to think about why she is here, to figure out her purpose in life, to have some peace from the chaos and the hurts.

It is my prayer that she will learn to return to this center throughout her life, not within the metaphorical apple tree, but deep within herself. And that she will find her purpose, her passion, and evolve with it as it changes over time. As her world expands into new experiences, she will be faced with so many choices, unlike the apple tree whose well established function is to give fruit and shade and comfort to creatures of all sorts. So, like the spiral that surrounds her, may she ebb and flow, back and forth, in and out, accepting the mystery, the beauty, and the grace of her unfolding life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Family Matters

Recently I entered a few paintings in a show at the Raven Gallery, called Family Matters where this painting took 1st place! Needless to say this was a great day for me as I have never before had anything in a gallery much less in a show. Turns out the gallery feels right for me and I now have 6 pieces there. So if you're in Pewaukee on Capital drive, come on in! It's right next to Panera Bread where you can get a sandwich and your favorite coffee either before or after spending time viewing some amazing art by some very fine artists.

Back to the painting. It is a 24 x 18 oil on linen titled, In Their Element and is of my 2 sisters walking on the road in front of a 3rd sister's home in Arbor Vite, WI. Four sisters and a cousin had gathered to spend the weekend together as we try to do at least a couple of times a year. Teresa and Paula, depicted here, are as close in heart as 2 sisters can be, though they live 5 hours apart. That, plus the fact that as a family we all love the outdoors, put them truly in their element as they walked together on this frigid, February morning!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I’ve always had a love of spirals. They represent evolution, letting go, and holistic growth. And they tend to show up in my paintings.

It’s apparent in the underpainting of Emma in the apple tree even though you may not be aware of it in the finished work. As my painting develops, Emma begins to emerge from the branches. (If you continue the spiral of the overarching branch, you will see that Emma’s form is at its unfolding center.)

Life doesn’t evolve in a linear fashion. It unfolds. Like a spiral. Like the new frond of the fern, unraveling into being. Like a 13 year old not-yet woman.

The same is true of ideas. They circle out and around, bump up against ideas on the outer edge (the “far out there” ones), dance a bit with the insanity, and loop back in to connect with other ideas at the safer, saner, “middle of the road.” On the way around, connections are made between seemingly disconnected thoughts, and new patterns and possibilities emerge from the interplay. Before long, a clearer picture develops as pieces of the puzzle come together to create a spectacular whole.

Today as I add more detail to the figure, I will also begin the refining of the tree. Step by step, the creative process unfolds.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's Official!

I am now ready to officially begin calling myself an artist. It's about time. Not only is my new website up & running, ( I was given the opportunity to display some of my paintings for the first time since I was the guest artist at my son's photography studio ( a few years ago. All I had to show back then were works that I had done over 25 years ago.

Luke Wein from Beyond Studio + Publishing ( called on Thursday morning to say that he had reserved space at the Waukesha & Pewaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau. He was kind enough to offer it to me for the whole month of May.

So I spent the weekend finishing the website, making business cards, and framing paintings. Monday morning I loaded up my car and dropped off 4 pieces. I had 8 with me but one was very large and I didn't want to overcrowd the space. I will return in a week or so and switch a few of them. This is so much fun. In case you are reading this, Luke, thanks again for the opportunity.

After spending that last couple of days working on a mailing list and catching up on yard work, I am ready to get back to the painting that I started almost a week ago. As I do I will remind myself to let go and let the flow of energy take over and guide me through the next stroke, and the next, and the next. As with life, the creative act is about the process. The dream might be the "destination" but it's the steps that we take to get there that matter. As I watch my dream unfold and evolve, I marvel at what occurs when I let go of the need to control and simply have a soft focus on the guidance that is coming from within and a trust in the synchronicity occurring without.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Work Has Begun

As I look up from my laptop, I can see the beloved old apple tree out back. Many a grandchild has found joy in that tree, so I decided I should pay it tribute.

I don't usually sketch a drawing on the canvas before I begin a painting, just many small ones on paper. But yesterday, using my paper sketches as a guide, I marked the canvas with charcoal to be sure I had the composition right. Those charcoal lines will be gone today once I block in the underpainting with very thin oils. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Breaking Through

Well, my website is almost done so it won't be long before I go "live." Painting is getting to be more routine and it's easier to remember that this is my job; my new career. I do however, still have a room full of materials that I used in my previous life of long-term care and consulting. Maybe if I give it all away it will be easier to let go.

What a blessing to now be able to do what I have always dreamed of doing - spending my days lost in the creative flow of painting! The transition has not been easy and I still struggle with feeling guilty for having so much fun at my work but I'll continue the process of letting go of that and surrendering to the joy that comes from doing what I love.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When did I Become Invisible?

When I was in graduate school, a friend of mine told me that out of the blue, his beautiful wife who devotes her time and energy to children's theater mused out loud, "When did I become invisible?"

I have thought a lot about that since getting back to my painting and realized that this theme is depicted in many of my works: an old woman in prayer, an old man who had just lost his wife, 2 old sisters sitting on a front porch, an Indian woman with her papoose, my dad's ancient & well-used canoe, and more.

Then I realized that I have felt that way most of my life! At my father's funeral one of his best friends said to my uncle, "I didn't even know he had a 2nd daughter before John!" (the beloved son.) His best friend! And I was standing right there when he said it!

So I can relate.

I'm not sure how someone who is pretty much invisible can make it in the art world. Us introverts don't do well at standing out in front. So this will be a real challenge, but one that I am willing to take on. Creative self-expression is critical to health and wellbeing so I hope to set a good example through my painting and my writing.