Sunday, July 24, 2016

touchstones,totems and commonality

i was so happy to complete this piece and send it off as a thank you to my friends who were such wonderful hosts in memphis. it's like a journal page- background incorporates ephemera from my trip. carole and i have always enjoyed music together. especially guitar music. this was so much fun to do and it reminded me of the great visit we had and of the joy of communicating through art. 

i went to the boise blues fest and practiced people drawing. i need more practice. but i started. i drag books and pens with me everywhere. i always count it good when i actually use them. i bought this sketchbook to practice drawing people and fully expect to suck at it for a while (intellectually anyway- irrationally i expect to be good, now, damnit).

and- studio time. when i think about things that resonate in my life- touchstones- i think about music, friendship and nature.

on the nature front, the totem series progresses. these are all photos that i have taken which will become paintings.

liking the pronghorn buck, calling him done

next up: ms. owl

i am thinking about symbolism. myth and stories and things that touch our hearts- music, word, visual art. there are so many ways that we can connect- so much that we have in common vs. things that drive us apart. 

here's to the commonality-

Sunday, July 10, 2016

studio time!

this week's journey was to austin- where i got to see the bats fly out from the congress street bridge. so cool. other than being miserably hot & humid, it's a great town & i'd be happy to spend more time there.

 went to shoot the burrowing owls and had good light, but only one owl was out. 

i did get this amazing light the next morning, though......

then back to boise to meet a friend. i finally finished this painting for her. the one on the right, addie, died shortly after we lost molly. we used to hike with 7 dogs and only 3 of them are still with us. i painted molly to mark her passing and wanted to do the same for addie.  

and some art journaling while listening to music.....

then home and studio- rainy day today and studio time with the art crew was great-

i finished vixen

 and made great progress on the pronghorn, next in the totem series-

he's not quite done, but doesn't need a lot more work i don't think.

he'll be joining in the mule deer, fox and moose in search of a show when he's done and once i finish a few more pieces- an owl, raven, hawk and possibly bear and buffalo.

 it feels so great to be painting again! travel reductions coming at work, more studio time in sight- 

Monday, July 4, 2016


hiked through an area that was burned about 3 years ago this weekend. it's always fascinating for me to go into these places. this was a big fire, and burned a long time. the year after the burn we went into a different spot and it was hard to believe that anything would ever grow there again. there were floods and slides because there was no vegetation to hold the soil. but still life takes hold.

this weekend, we walked through a forest of charred trees, some like totem poles bearing witness.

the contrast between the burned trees and rampant vegetation beneath them is startling.

i see groupings of plants that i want to remember for my garden

and impossibly lush fields of flowers 

we walked through miles of lupine and penstemon growing in an old road bed. as the air warmed, the perfume of flowers filled the air.

i am reminded that in every end there is a beginning.

this is the summer of owls for me on the marsh. interestingly, owl symbolism includes "....the feminine and fertility, with the moon's cycles of renewal....."

i have been fortunate to find a short eared owl who is happy to pose for me. she has let me get amazingly close on several occasions (using a big lens & cropped sensor). very pleased with the opportunity to get better at using my equipment and the clarity of the photos.

i have also found a burrowing owl nest. the alfalfa was cut in the past few weeks, and i was glad to be able to see these guys in the field. hadn't seen the babies before, but as the adults were standing guard on a fence post nearby the last few times i was here i figured they were around. if these aren't the cutest things, i don't know what is. need to get back in the evening with better light before they're all gone.

 i have not had any studio time and am beginning to miss it. the owls want to be painted and i have a few other projects to finish.

i did get a page done in the travel journal for the yellowstone/beartooth/gtnp trip. so much fun going back and doing these- it's a great way to remember the trip. and makes me want to go again.

i've decided that it would be good to be able to draw people, so i bought a journal (because of course one must have a dedicated book for each project, right?) in menninger's when i was in colorado last week. i did want a slightly bigger book with smooth paper so i guess it made sense :) 

here's the first try, done at an extended family reunion party this weekend. didn't know many people. so this was an excellent project to have on hand. doesn't look much like the woman, but that's OK- it's all about practice, and daring to try. a beginning. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

i've been everywhere

in the month since i last posted, i have been to yellowstone, red lodge montana, grand teton national park, lubbock and memphis. i've been lucky to travel in good company & spend time with good friends.

i have been lucky enough to see all sorts of wildlife

we watched this griz mom and her cubs for at least 2 hours. first time i've seen grizzly cubs and ii was so much fun to be able to see and shoot them.

all sorts of babies in the park in early june- including ravens

and orange buffalo calves

we drove over the beartooth highway  above timberline 

and into grand teton national park

and back to fairfield, where i was able to increase my bird photo catalog with a burrowing owl

and the elusive kestral- they are spooky and i've been after a good shot for years-

then for something completely different, memphis- 

home of the blues- got to tour sun studios, visit all sorts of blues museums and historical points, listen to good music, eat good barbeque and renew an acquaintance with an old friend who was happy to show me her town.

we went to delta state to see an exhibit of masks of blues musicians made by a blind artist

and to the national ornamental metal museum

 i feel so incredibly fortunate to be able to explore so much. as different as these places are, they all had an impact and i am so excited to get back in the studio and see what happens. i know there will be a lot more blues playing!

i did get started on a journal page for the yellowstone adventure today. it's a lot of fun going back through everything and remembering and commemorating the journey.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, May 30, 2016

frustration, movement

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.” G.K. Chesterton
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” David Mitchell
i've been home for 2 weeks since paris and have not made any art. how frustrating. all of that lovely "extra" time and nothing to show for it. i've read a few books, had the chance to spend time with friends (a good thing) but i haven't created. ugh.

regrouping, OK, but now i am back on the merry go round and wishing i'd taken advantage of the time. partly not sure which direction to go. made some backgrounds but didn't move past that. interested in playing on paper, but haven't moved in that direction. books on figure drawing, but haven't done the exercises. frozen.

movement can be inspiring but it can also be a great tool for avoidance. even when i journal while traveling i am not pushing myself- same small squares in the dictionary. hotel room lamps. photos from a window seat. nothing wrong with practice and honing skills, but it's feeling a bit uninspired right now.

luckily, i have a challenge coming. headed to yellowstone with a friend who is a very good photographer. she's knowledgeable, interested in learning and pushing herself and generous with her talent. i learn a lot from her and am inspired to move out of my comfort zone and get better. 

i played a bit with the camera this weekend in preparation. worked on shooting modes & playing with different depth of fields (dof).

i always love backlighting, and was pleased with the glow here-

i am drawn to odd little vignettes, like the indian paintbrush and plant skeleton below. enjoy finding little natural still lifes like this.

wide depth of field- love the way the leaves echo the movement in the foothills and the juxtaposition of the warm sunny wildflowers and the snow.

playing with shallow depth of field here and rather enjoying the effect. this is a much more interesting image than the ones i took with a higher dof.

saw these potentilla glowing in the sun against the dark background. this could be a more successful image- i need to work on my metering as the flower is pretty blown out and i'd like the top flower maybe a bit more in focus. or darkened out. it's distracting

hmmm even though i didn't paint or draw, it seems that i was, indeed, working on some art. and being in nature always feeds my creativity. i find wildflowers fascinating- finding their beauty in some of the most inhospitable places is always a joy. even if we don't have luck with animals in yellowstone there's been a lot of rain, so it should be green and lush and beautiful.

but first- lubbock. then home, and tony bennett and work and hopefully ready to head out friday afternoon. i'm looking forward to it, but a bit overwhelmed right now. because- art supplies! (at least this one is a road trip!)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

home for a while..... totem series in progress

i didn't travel last week and hardly knew what to do with myself- it's like so much time suddenly appeared. i felt like i could think about painting again, instead of journaling or photography.

i worked on some backgrounds

and on a draft of my next totem series piece (you can see the photo reference in the upper right corner of the image above. he'll go on the background above, after i work on it a bit more. i didn't get the head quite right- needs to be more triangular- but that's why we practice. one thing this really brought home to me is how much i like water soluble graphite. no clue what i'll do with that, but it's a fact.


it's nice to have portable art, as i worked on this in my studio annex in fairfield. spring is a beautiful time in idaho, especially so on the marsh in good water years (this is the first of those in a while).

camas lilies add another body of blue 

the marsh is alive with birdsong (a generous word for the noise this guy is making, but he's singing his heart out) and hosts a variety of avian visitors

when i was driving around the area yesterday i kept seeing short eared owls but was never in a spot to shoot them. i decided to make it work today (hoping, of course, that they'd be hanging out in the same places).

i was lucky enough to see 4 owls and to shoot 3 of them. the bottom 2 are the same owl- she let me work my way closer and i was grateful. i have a feeling that this is next up in the totem series-

it's so nice to feel inspired and to feel like painting and to have the time at home to do it! of course, i need to weed the garden and plant my pots and do a few other things too, but i have time at home!!!!