All posts by amy

Holiday Open House!

holiday open house

This upcoming Saturday, November 7, I am thrilled to have a few bits and bobs for sale in this delightful event.  We always have a lovely time enjoying each other’s work throughout the afternoon and sharing it with those who come to shop.  Michelle Blades, of Bird In The Attic Studio and one of the hosts for the day, has called this day ‘Pinterest in person.’  And she’s right!

All of my recent ‘tinies’ paintings will be available for sale (in tiny little frames!) as well as a whole heap of ‘tinies’ greeting card sets.   I’ll also have some sketchbooks laying around to peruse if you might have questions about next summer’s Taos trip.  Let me know if you plan to stop by! I’d love to see you there.


Time bending and melding worlds

“Physically, the creature endowed with a sense of refuge, huddles up to itself, takes to cover, hides away, lies snug, concealed.  If we were to look among the wealth of our vocabulary for verbs that express the dynamics of retreat, we should find images based on animal movements of withdrawal, movements that are engraved in our muscles.”  ~Gaston Bachelard (from The Poetics of Space)


I am home.  Settling in to my most favorite season of the year after a most rich and rewarding time of travel and discovery punctuated with in depth visits to some of my most favorite places and people.  Recently I shared with you my artistic adventures along the wrack line of Islesford Island, Maine.  Perhaps that should have been ‘enough’ adventure for the time being, but I had more wanderings to endeavor.


Ginger Small and I drove to Cleveland, Ohio for a conference about the industry that peddles the stories and pictures by people much like me.  After the heart-swelling inspirational time I’d had in Maine, I’ll admit to feeling lonesome and adrift at these lectures in a hotel ballroom.   In the end, I took more away about making books for children from the hours I spent in the seaside tutelage of Ashley Bryan than I did at this particular conference.  It seems I am more comfortable in a classroom that has a bit of fresh air available.  While I continue to try and find my path in this bookmaking business,  I’ll also admit to some frustration as the ‘No, Thank You’ letters continue to arrive in the in-box.  It is all part of the process, I suppose.  But I digress, yes?  Despite the confusion I felt at the conference, I had one more big trip to take before needing to come home and distill it all into a plan for the coming months…


It is such a gift to return to Taos, New Mexico when I am not in teaching mode.  My dear friend Tina, an amazing artist, and I have been talking for years now about getting her out there for her first visit.  Every artist with an eye for the beautiful and a head and heart full of magic must make the pilgrimage to northern New Mexico.


And so, with a theme of ‘Treat Yo Self’  and the reignitement of our inner magic running strong, we took the plunge and scheduled a girl’s trip for the end of September.

I always struggle a bit to put together a proper blog post after a trip to Taos.  There is just so much to ponder and potentially share.  One can experience a life time in just one short week.  We felt like we were gone months, not just a mere 7 days!  Often, I didn’t even have my camera with me.  New Mexico is the sort of place that makes one want to detach from technology, which for me is part of the draw.  And yet, I did chronicle some our time there in my sketchbook and with a few snapshots.  I’ll share just a bit of the journey here…

We started in Santa Fe, where I have not spent much time as I am so keen to get out of town and up into the mountains a bit more.  But I knew there was some good art to be seen there, and so there was.   I was especially captivated by the work of Rebecca Haines and Jason John whose works combine realism with whimsy, narration and fantasy.  I love Rebecca’s treatment of animals in her work.  I felt like not only was I looking at a painting of a deer, or a raven or a coyote, but a particular animal, in a particular moment in time.  Someone with a story and something in common with myself perhaps.  This is something I try to convey to my sketching students in my workshop.  You aren’t drawing ‘a tree’ or ‘a bird’, you are drawing ‘THIS tree’ or ‘THIS bird’ in this particular moment of time.   And that approach to capturing an image can completely change the way we see the world and ourselves.  (For more on this particular philosophy of drawing, check out the work of Frederick Franck).

As for Jason’s work, I am not often drawn toward the hyperrealistic style of painting.  But while he might be described as such, he also plays with scale and perspective in a way that pulls away from reality.  And I love this.  His paintings have a narrative quality punctuated with the use of props such as cardboard hats and swords and such.  Some of the hats reminded me of Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.  I think we can all recognize ourselves in paper hats, can’t we?

While in Santa Fe, we not only took in the work of current, professional artists, we also took a tour of the International Museum of Folk Art.  If you ever go to Santa Fe, this place is not to be missed.   Note the little hat on this doll below.


Amazing embroidery!


Even on the insides of magical little cabinets!  IMG_1034

I could probably do a huge blog post on this place alone.  And it wouldn’t do it justice.  But suffice it to say, there was enchantment around every corner.IMG_1033

And cultural similarities to be explored.IMG_1020

There were new friends to be discovered around every turn.  IMG_1040

It was utterly delightful.  IMG_1041

We hadn’t been in town yet for 24 hours, and already, so much to take in.  We artists are often slow cookers.  The trip could have ended here and both Tina and I had enough to think upon for months on end.  Already I had Ginger Small in mind with a cardboard hat!  And yet, there was so much more.

We journeyed up the mountain into Taos only to discover we had arrived just in time for The Paseo.

The works we encountered in this show over the coming days truly defy description.  Here is a taste…




Wheel of Fortune Tarot – Installation from LIVINLARGEPHOTO on Vimeo.

There were also hand fashioned cocoons where sound, light and embroidery might shift your sensory perspective on things.  There was a bicycle powered pterodactyl.  It was all completely overwhelming.  And absolutely wonderful.

Although our heads were near to exploding with all of the lovely art work we had taken in, we opted to take in a couple of local museums on top of it all.  My favorite is the Fechin House which houses the Taos Museum of Art.

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Even without all of the art work, this is a place of great beauty with interesting hand made touches around every turn and in every nook and corner.

On the ground floor could be seen the work of one of my favorite Taos artists from back in the day, Ralph Meyers.

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He was a prolific painter, a collector of artifacts and memorabilia, a trusted trader to the Native population with whom he always dealt fairly.  I always make a point to go back and visit his work, as I learn something every time.


But of course, Tina and I didn’t go to New Mexico merely to take in art and museums.  (although, frankly, that would be one great way to solely spend one’s time there.)   I wanted to reacquaint myself with the vistas and mountainous skyline so unavailable in Ohio.  To sit within and below and as a part of this landscape and just take it all in. Perhaps in my sketchbook.  Perhaps with some paint.  but really, just in my soul.


My painting trip to Maine taught me a lot about translating one’s experiences in the field into work from the imagination.  And this is one thing I will delve into in the coming months in my painting.


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We spent a fair amount of time in the desert.  And also a fair amount of time nestled in at Mabel’s where we were warmly welcomed by friends old and new.  I took a number of good soaks in the iconic bathroom where the windows were painted by DH Lawrence.


From our veranda, those same windows lit up like stained glass at night.


During one evening of art and merry-making, we were joined by a party of moths who seemed to simply want to be a part of things.  They were like flying labradors.

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We invited them to stay as long as they wished.

There is so very much more I could tell you.  About how we played with shadows which seemed more prominent this time of year than others.

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About how we watched the moon be chased and overtaken by shadow and reappear once more having been washed clean by it’s own darkness, brought to bear by another celestial body.


I could tell you about foot races at dawn and tricksters emerging from buildings made of earth who might then climb to the heavens to retrieve earthly needs.


But I won’t.  For these things are still coming alive in my dreams.

I will tell you it’s good to be home.



In spite of it’s overwhelming ‘normality’ and ‘real world-ness’.


Our girl is settled in beautifully at school and so we are wearing in a nice path between here and Columbus just north of us.  I am grateful for this season of well filling.


In the coming weeks there are some shows to which I’ll be contributing and where I might be found peddling my wares.  Do check in on the Book of Faces and on the Twitterverse for details on those.

And if you are interested in coming to Taos with me next summer, registration is OPEN!!!!

Join me in the magic.




Tinies! (greeting card version)


I’m excited to offer 5-card sets of greeting cards featuring hand-gilded reproductions of original ‘tiny’ paintings from my travels.  tinies cards 2

Each set contains 5 different designs, related in theme (i.e., desert, ocean, etc), and each tiny reproduction of a miniature painting has a hand painted gold ‘frame’ around the edge.  They are blank inside and may be purchased through me for $20 a set (shipping not included).  For now I’ll be creating these sets on demand, so please allow a week or so for delivery.  They make great gifts!

tinies cards

Shifted paradigm… (If once you have slept on an island – after)

mailboat ferry

Greetings from a Sheraton hotel, somewhere near Cleveland, Ohio, where I am to attend a day of a conference for writers and illustrators of books for kids tomorrow.  So today I drove and drove, and have settled into a my little room here.  To pass the time (and avoid the tangly trappings of the nets of anxieties which can accompany these doings) I’ve decided to catch you all up on my near mystical time in Maine just this past weekend.  (Can it really be just this past weekend??)

Barely a week ago I boarded a ferry (really, just the mail boat which takes passengers on board when room allows) to Islesford Island, Maine to attend a workshop in painting led by Henry Isaacs, Ashley Bryan, with capable assistance from graphic novelist and artist Gareth Hinds.

moody classroom

A few of us taking the 2:30 ferry traveled through the mists to arrive with a bit of time to explore. One of my housemates for the workshop took me to a favorite place of hers on the island.  Looking for company, and not knowing my way around, I gladly took her up on the offer.

We walked the roads of this delightful and decidedly working island to arrive at the beach.

working waterfront

There we traversed pebbled beaches, seeking touchstones and following the trail of the tides. touchstones

Off the coast there were signs that our weather for the workshop might just improve…. eventually.light on the horizon

That evening we gathered back at Islesford Dock  where classes and meals and general workshop business was to be held.


It was a lovely group of people, some of whom knew each other from years past.  Others of us a little shyer.  But we became acquainted quickly over oysters (oysters!!!!) and a cocktail or two.  In spite of my workshop nerves, I was clearly to be well fed and have plenty of interesting folks to visit with in the coming days.oysters

beautiful sea side day

As promised by the light on the horizon just the day before, Saturday dawned bright and beautiful.  The class convened for breakfast and followed instructions to a lovely outdoor painting environment for the day.  We witnessed some demonstration from Henry but were encouraged to just dive into our own work for the day.  Which we did.

I painted some pretty pictures, which was nice I suppose.

day 1-1

But I didn’t attend this workshop to make the same pictures I normally make in watercolors, only this time in Oils.  day 1-2


During critique times that day, and in the artist talks later that evening, we were all congratulated on our hard work, but asked to bring more to the table.  To venture, if we were but brave enough, out of our comfort zones.

We all have our formulas.  Formulas which work for us.  And these are great.  But none of us were there to perfect or practice our routine formulas.

instructors in critique mode “We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the utility of the wheel depends.

We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the utility of the vessel depends.

We pierce doors and windows to make a house;  and it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the utility of the house depends.

Therefore, just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the utility of what is not.”                ~Lao Tse

The above poem was recited to us by Ashley Bryan in the afternoon as he, Henry and Gareth, attempted to gently guide us out of our normality.  Late that afternoon, a small group took a tour of Ashley’s house and studio where we were given a glimpse into the genius that is Ashley Bryan.  He makes puppets and paintings, has perfected a way to turn sea glass into stained glass panels.  He lives a magically creative existence.  And I, for one, was simply enchanted.  One does not have to build fences between the varying degrees of one’s creativity.  One must simply MAKE.

Ashelys puppet 2

Ashley spoke of puppets as needing a piece of the puppeteer’s soul in order to be brought to life.  I truly believe this.  Having worked puppets a good bit myself.ashley and his puppet

I think this lot looks a bit like the Star Wars ‘cantina’ scene.  A visual and musical favorite of mine!  ashley's puppets

He shared with us how he creates these gorgeous sea glass/ stained glass panels with a seemingly simple papier mache’ method.  Yet there is nothing simple about his work.  sea glass panels and puppets

By the end of that day my mind was reeling.  I was completely overwhelmed.  But I knew there was more to come, and I just prayed to the island gods that I could withstand it all…..

And so we moved on into the second full day of this rather intensive workshop….

not sure where we are going

We awoke to mysterious fog, wondering what this meant for our painting time that day – so spoiled by the lovely sunshine just the day before.

Over breakfast, in hushed tones, there was some conversation about how intense it all was.  Somehow, this brought comfort to me, knowing the other artists might also feel they were flying a bit close to the sun for comfort.

henry and the plumb lines

Henry did another ‘demo’ for us (he likes to call them more like ‘suggestions’) and explained to us that we are not looking at a landscape.  We ARE the landscape.  There is no us and then it.  Everything is one big mash up of stuff to paint.  We have to paint ourselves into it.

And so, with some company, amidst quite a bit of mist, we settled into day two.

I had no clue what I was doing.  I simply took up a spot in front of some rock pilings (a former steamship dock) near the dock and began painting.  After awhile the old adage of oil not mixing with water came true and I opted to come indoors to work.

I felt grumpy and not at all sure about the work I was making.  Discomfort was truly the name of the game that day….

day 2-1

And yet, something happened.  an opening of sorts….a favorite

By the day’s end, I had a number of little paintings like the ones above.  They conveyed what I was seeing, but they did it in a way that also told of what I was thinking and feeling about what I was seeing.  I was thrilled.

The rest of the class seemed to have a similar trek through the fog that day, as everyone made some sort of breakthrough in their work.  We all stepped up to discomfort.  We all gave our inner children a cookie and asked them to keep working.  It was pure magic.


I have seen and heard  a lot of what workshops can mean to an artist who needs a jump start.  I’ve taken classes here and there and have shared this experience.  I teach classes each summer that I hear are life changing.  But it had been a long, long while since I had allowed myself the opportunity for such a sea change.

I am so grateful to have had the time and resources to take this workshop.  And just after I publish this, I plan to send an email asking for a hold of a space for next year.  Because I think I can do better; ask more of myself; go deeper into the work.

As I sit here in a hotel in Cleveland, hoping to make some connections which will afford me the opportunity to make a children’s book about a little hamster who sends back postcards of her adventures, I no longer believe there is a reason to separate the making of a little kid’s book, from a painting destined for a gallery or someone’s grand home-space.  I no longer believe there is much of a difference between a hat knit up carefully by hand for a cold day and a puppet created  to entertain as the curtains of a proscenium lift.  Making is making.  Provided it is done with purpose and seriousness of hand and craft and with an eye toward beauty and the betterment of this world.

There’s been a sea change round these parts.  And it feels really good.

sea change

If once you have slept on an island… (before)

selkie study

Although I am nowhere near packed, or ‘ready’ as one might think one should be when headed off to an artistic island adventure, this selkie-souled girl heads to Maine early tomorrow morning for a painting class.  Looking back at all of the art making I have done over the years, I realized that this is the first painting class I have ever taken.  Really.  I’ve had drawing classes that touched on liquid media, foundations classes in art school which breezed over the notion of studying a master’s work for a day or two.  But never a painting class.  I’ve taken one other workshop far away, but that was a sculpture class in Colorado – after which I decided to go to art school and take things more seriously.  And now I am here.

I have always wanted to paint.  And as you can see here on the blog, I have taught myself a fair amount about how to push colors around on a surface to get some sort of point across.  Or not.  Depending upon the day.  With my kids out of the nest, this seemed like a good a time as any to learn more about something that calls to me.  And to perhaps take it a little more seriously.

Speaking of nests….

wren in

This little wren found it’s way indoors this morning.  Terrified, it was being pursued by our not-so-very-youthful ginger cat who had it trapped in the curtains when I came upon the drama.  I was able to fend off the cat, the wren was able to find a branch to land upon (yes, we keep branches around the house) and miraculously it allowed me to pluck it from this branch and rid it of some spiderwebbing it had tangled on it’s foot.  I checked it over for any damage and could find none.

wren outSo we went outside to find a more suitable branch for this little wild thing.  Given a few moments to regain it’s bearings in the world at large, the little wren flew off to safety.  And likely to thank its lucky stars and regale its friends about the near miss indoors!!

In the ‘animal medicine’ department, wren is courageous and resourceful and flies higher than most.  And so with that message, I fly off tomorrow, to join a group of painters (a prospect I find a little daunting) and I will be brave and sing my song although the other birds may seem bigger and more colorful than I.

Years ago I picked up a sweet little poem while on a visit to another Island in Maine, Peaks Island.  I put it in my journal along with a little drawing and some writing about how someday, I would like to spend extended time on an island.  Somewhere.  Somehow.  That goal remains.  Within my beautifully complicated life, I am grateful for the following few days on Little Cranberry Island to live my dream of island life while learning a new approach to pushing paint around on a surface.

I can’t wait to share what’s on the other side of this adventure with you upon my return.

Til then…..

island sleeping



Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago, the Hub and I attended a concert with some dear friends of ours (miraculously, they are still dear friends after all these years!).  This concert was held at the State Theater in Portland, Maine.  And the Big Show of the night was a band called The Bodeans.  I am certain they played the song linked in the video above.  I was very pregnant with our first born, Jack.  He danced and swayed and moved and hiccuped right along with the music.  I have often wondered if this loud concert experience in utero may have influenced his decision to pursue music as his life’s work, which, of course, he has done.

This song (above) has been rolling around in my head in the past couple of days as we have been doing quite an assortment of packing and planning, cleaning and organizing for various trips and travels and changes on the agenda for all of us.


Of course the moves to college are to be expected at this stage.  Jack is into a new house with his fellow musicians and they are running hither and thither, moving their stuff into the new digs and getting settled before school starts back up for them.

Meanwhile, Madeleine and I are attempting to make some semblance of order of her worldly possessions to figure out what stays and what goes when she takes off this week for Columbus.


It feels like complete chaos.  And really, it is.  We have a new dog in our family (for now at least) who has some wonderful new energy due to changes in food and exercise routines.  This means she’s energetically barking at odd hours (read, 4 and 5 am.) which makes for broken sleep for the humans….  Good thing she’s cute.  But this is something we need to work out.  Yes, chaos.IMG_0695In the midst of all of this chaos, Tony (aka, the Hub, my Anchor, you get the idea) and I are smelling a little waft of freedom on the air.  We know we can go on an adventure and not leave the other parent in a lurch (small barking dogs, not withstanding, of course).  And so, there are travel plans being made.

While Mads is off in less than a week to college, he is off on an expedition to Lake Superior shortly there after.  Food must be weighed and planned.  Everything very specific, as it must be carried in the boat….



As for me, not only am I looking forward to having the house to myself and the dogs for a few days, I too am scheming to hit the road and nurture the need to runaway.

As I wrote in my last post, I am going back to my beloved state of Maine to paint in September.  I am cataloguing art supplies and getting what I need and counting the days to this trip.  It may be a bit of a runaway, but it feels like a healthy one.IMG_0697

And now, just today, I have made plans with my dear friend Tina to head to Taos for a feast day at the end of September.  I will get to touch base with my work out there, show a good friend the awesomeness that is New Mexico and just breathe in the ocean of sage to be had there.

Sometimes, you just have to treat yo self.    IMG_0689

In between these two artful sojourns, I’ll be attending the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s convention in Cleveland to shop around some of my Ginger book ideas and get a little feedback.  This is all a bit of a whirlwind!  And yes, I suppose a bit of a runaway, avoidance behavior toward all of the changes happening here at home. Watching the last of the smalls leave the nest is indeed a momentous and emotional thing.  We keep stopping in our tracks and saying to the other, ‘so, this is happening!! she’s moving out!!’  Change in truly in the air.

For this fall, for now at least, we are meeting this change with travel and a bit of adventure.  Perhaps it will all slow down (or perhaps, maybe not, who knows?) eventually.  We continue to follow our noses.  To nurture ourselves as the kids follow their own dreams.

I think there are few wrong ways to ride this wave of seeing these adult children onto their lives ahead.  The trick being that we all do the best we can to do the best we can.

(p.s. music helps.  This is in my ears just now.  and it makes me happy!






Changing Tides

11202886_10155872437970048_5120591334540910967_nToday is my 46th birthday.  As is often the case this time of year, things are in a state of semi-controlled chaotic flux, what with school starting soon and Big Moves happening for both of the kids.  Jack returned from Brazil just in time to join us on our annual summer sojourn to the coast of Maine and is now in the process of returning to his collegiate life across town.  Meanwhile, in similar fashion, our youngest, Madeleine, is making lists and preparatory pilings of her own as we move her into a dormitory at Ohio State University next week.  Things are getting real.  They are embarking on a world of their own making….

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All of this is, as expected, a little on the bittersweet side of life.  But it is also the Way Of Things.  This is why we raise them.  So that they can hopefully head out into productive lives of their own.  It is time for us to focus back on ourselves for the first time in ages.  I for one am feeling a delicious fire burning in my art work, music and in my inner life, while the Hub, Tony,  has plans of his own involving far flung watery places to explore.  It is an exciting time for all of us.

So let me just catch you up a bit on happenings since I last wrote.  As you now know, I am in the process of putting together a new workshop, launching in February.  I’ve had quite a bit of interest, and a few sign ups too!  And while I have been mostly on the road since the announcement and not able to ‘blast’ it properly as of yet, it is my hope that this class will be a ‘go’ with just enough folks to make it a reality.  Do let me know if you have any questions!

Ah yes, the road.  How it beckons!!  Last I touched base here at my online home, I was off to a week of full on music at Swannanoa.


This was a week of complete bliss for me personally.  Tearful reunions with people I only get to see once a year.  We fell straight into tunes and laughter and musical mayhem that only ‘band camp’ can provide.  I opted for two classes, both in flute, with two of my favorite instructors/musicians/people on the planet, Kevin Crawford and Nuala Kennedy.



They are not only brilliant teachers and players but they are absolutely hilarious to spend time with.  In my own teaching I try to emulate the sense of fun and level of laughter I’ve known in classes with these two.  It is through a childlike sense of play and creative experimentation that the best learning is to be had.  Learning a creative pursuit as an adult can be daunting!  Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, or painting a picture, adults take themselves (ourselves!) so seriously.  Getting out of our own way is half the battle.  I am still riding the wave of magic and beauty of that week, with renewed gusto to practice my tunes, to keep learning and improving.  I intend to make it back to this week again next year.  There is such a sense of ‘Brigadoon‘ to it all, magically happening each summer and then just like that, it’s gone….

A song that captures the sense of a week at swannanoa is this

Of course, if you follow my summer patterns at all, you know that no summer is complete without a dip of my toes into the ocean in my soul’s home, Maine….


Ginger Small and I were reunited up there as I’d heard very little from her all summer.  And we have much work to do!


I spent a fair amount of time just gazing out to sea and doodling….




…that is, when I wasn’t partaking of the bounty of the ocean.  YUM!



Our time in Maine usually allows for a bit of the ocean and a bit of the lakeside as well.  I did a fair amount of oogling and doodling there as well.


It is a time we treasure, and each year we know it might be the last where everyone attends.  Any next year could see the kids doing their own thing elsewhere.  So while I painted and sketched a good bit, and came up with a number of tiny paintings, it is never enough.


Maine tugs at my heart strings harder and harder each year.  Every year, it gets more difficult to leave the fresh salt air and cool breezes available there.

“She loves the serene brutality of the ocean, loves the electric power she felt with each breath of wet, briny air.”  ~Holly Black

Having lived there once upon a time, I know life in New England is not all summer time and roses.  Winters are cold and long.  But I simply must spend more time there.

“When anxious, uneasy and  bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” ~Ranier Maria Rilke

For a while now, my dear, long time friend Amy (she who attended to the births of my children, my soul-sister) and I have admired the whimsical, colorful world of artist Henry Isaacs.

His paintings are impressionistic, energetic, and brimming with color that is at once straightforward and complex.  They are the kind of paintings that make me yearn to pick up a paint brush and paint.  But not in my usual sketchy fashion.

I’ve had this yearning to paint for awhile now.  And I have painted.  Here and there.  I’ve made some paintings that I like a fair bit.   While others have lacked the intensity I wanted them to have.  They often feel too cautious to me.  I’m not quite sure how to approach the materials, having had only nominal amounts of instruction in this particular way of art-making.  Often as soon as I have found my way into a painting, it’s time to quit to attend to Life.  And by my next visit to it, I’ve lost the steam.  Clearly, I need some help.

So in honor of everyone in this household going off and learning new things and forging exciting new paths, I am heading back to the coast of Maine in just a few weeks to take a workshop with Henry Isaacs.   I am so very excited to learn some new ways of approaching paint and then applying these lessons to the sights and sounds I find so enchanting by the ocean.

“I have sea foam in my veins, for I understand the language of the waves.”  ~Le Testament d’Orphee

Perhaps I may get the opportunity to paint the ocean of sage in the high desert of New Mexico at some point as well.  Again, something I have yearned to capture, but outside of my sketches, have never seemed to accomplish successfully.

I believe in following the voice of one’s heart.  That intuitive voice that whispers ‘this, yes, this!!!!’.


I’m following that voice as much as I can these days.  My Right Work seems to be a three-pronged dance made up of teaching workshops in beauty-filled places, making up whimsical stories and pictures for the young at heart, and just painting/sketching/drawing by myself (also in beauty-filled places).    In between there I’ll work the day job when I can, manage the comings and goings of these adult children of mine, and try to keep this house in some sort of working order.  Oh yeah, and music.  Always music.

Today is a day of musing.  Pondering my life’s path.  I feel like the 46 year old me is waving enthusiastically to a younger version of me as if to say ‘This way!  This way! Aside from a few bumps in the road here and there, life’s going along quite nicely just now!  Just hang on!’ Because it is going along quite nicely actually.

I’m excited at the timing of this painting workshop opportunity, as it falls just as I have a moment to catch my breath before really needing to buckle down to work this fall on February’s offering.   I get another taste of salty Maine sea air before they must batten down the hatches for yet another winter.  My kids will be off doing their own thing for the first time really ever.  I’m thrilled and excited and incredibly grateful for all of it.

Happy birthday to me.

….and here are some of the new Tiny Offerings from recent travels.  Let me know if you would like to own one!

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A Winter opportunity amidst Summer’s sultry steaminess

If you have followed this blog in recent months, you’ll know that I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of weeks in Taos this past January to work on a couple of kid-book projects long in coming.  Those projects are swimming along nicely and I’ll be shopping them around this fall.  But time in Taos is always colored by the work I do there in the summer, which is to teach the art of keeping a visual diary.  And so, while there in January, I began to wonder, what would it be like to teach a winter-time class at Mabel’s?  The season would call for more work indoors.  Winter is a time of looking inward to our own interior spaces and pondering things in a very different way than we do in summer.  It is a time of withdrawing.

And so, I have decided to offer a workshop this coming winter to do just that.  The class we be held at Mabel’s, as in summer, but we will focus on the interior spaces of this beloved, historic home.  We will find the hidden corners of the house and of our own hearts, and sit with them while we draw and paint.  The act of drawing and painting a scene is one I find extremely meditative, and that will be something we discuss and work toward – finding that state of stillness in the making of art.  I’ll be combing my own library in the next few months for readings and poems to point us in the right direction in this class.  Taos, New Mexico, and more specifically, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House itself, is a hotbed of creativity and has historically been a place where the creme-de-la-creme of the arts go to recharge their creative batteries.  I look forward to this new offering and hope you’ll consider joining us this year for what I hope may be an annual journey.

Do get in touch if you have any further questions.



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Tiny Offerings


I think there is nothing quite so nice as to get a little something in the mail.  And so I am a sender of mail myself.  I love to write cards and letters to friends far and wide.  tiny 1Most recently I took to making a slew of wee thank you gifts in the form of tiny, one of a kind paintings.  I am hoping they will be well received by those lucky enough to be on my list lately…  This exercise of making tiny paintings is something I do with my classes as a way to shift our thoughts on scale and the time it takes to make a work of art.  Unlike some miniaturists of late, these little paintings don’t take too very long at all.  And they capture the impression of a place quite quickly.  This series was clearly based on my recent weeks in Taos and I am keen to keep going with them.tiny 9 I gild each little painting in gold leaf and it becomes like a little jewel to don a card or perhaps dress up a page in my journal.  tiny 2 tiny 3 There is a small part of me that wonders if these would be something to sell at some point.  You may see them soon at the local art center gift shop perhaps…..tiny 7

Yes, those are polka dot pajamas peeking in at the bottom of this picture.  Yes, I work best in my pajamas.
Yes, those are polka dot pajamas peeking in at the bottom of this picture. Yes, I work best in my pajamas.

tiny 6 tiny 5Are you a fan of tiny art work? Send me a message and perhaps I can whip up a tiny painting for you!  I know Ginger Small will be happy to get some new works into her Tiny Gallerytiny 4

Workshop bliss

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It’s difficult for me to fathom that just over a month ago I traveled to Taos to teach my annual summer travel-journal workshop.  Has it really been a month?!  Was I really just there three weeks ago, mid-way through a fantastically perfect week filled with the company of the most amazing group of people?

If I look at the calendar, it would seem so.  And yet, I look at some of the snapshots of that week (captured by my trusty assistant for the week, Taos artist, Jan Haller) and it seems that the workshop never happened, or is happening right now, or perhaps, is just around the corner once again.  Taos has that relationship to time.

There was much laughter.  Belly-laughs as deeply rooted as the ancient cottonwood trees.

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And there were also plenty of precious moments of solitude and quiet.

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There were those moments of ‘aha!!’ when we learned a new trick with those wiley watercolors.

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There was a fair amount of demonstration done by yours truly, to show my approach to capturing the world in my own journal….

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…and yet we learned that there is no better way than one’s own way of working.  It was my goal for the week for each workshop participant to find their own visual voice.  Which they did.  In grand, beautiful fashion.

workshop 4     Workshop 1

At the end of this gorgeous week we celebrated our hard work and new friendships with a dinner at Mabel’s which fed not only our bodies but our souls as well, as meals at Mabel’s generally do.  There was more of that nourishing belly-laughter, and perhaps some equally delicious tears over deep conversations too.  This work is so much more than just drawing and painting in a book.  It’s about an approach to life that can sometimes be difficult to find in our day to day.  But we re-discover it at workshops like these.  We find it in these fellow artistic souls.  We are reminded that beauty and laughter, grace and joy, great food and fantastic, fierce friendships are crucial to a life well lived.  dinnerToday- just now – back in Ohio, it is (not surprisingly) raining buckets.  In my ears, on repeat while I work, is this which is the perfect blend of arty and trad.  Combine this music with the sound of rain and things can seem a little somber.  Especially when compared to the bright beauty of New Mexico.

worskhop 13But there is a lushness to this valley that is at once suffocating and yet deeply and beautifully compelling.  It is travel season, and I am torn between all of the amazing, soul-home places (yes, including Ohio!) and people I have the great fortune to know intimately.  Those who know me and love me best know that this very restlessness and yearning are what keep me moving artistically.  The need to be on the move was instilled early on in me by my ever-changing home life and I’m grateful for the ability to travel as much as I do now as an adult, especially in summer!

workshop 12Next up is my now annual trek to the North Carolina mountains where I will play music for a week with far-flung friends at the Swannanoa Gathering‘s Celtic week.  I will be updating the blog a bit in coming weeks (between trips) with next year’s workshop offerings.  There’s a new one being offered in February 2016 about which I am very excited.  Much of the same sort of work, but deeper and richer.  So stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted!