All posts by amy

Flux and Catch-up

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It’s a delightfully cozy morning here.  I am just landed from a wonderful weekend away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the 8th annual Tune Junkie Weekend where a few of my normally more summery connections gathered to play music and catch up and play more and more and more music.  We are indeed junkies of a sort, fairly obsessed and addicted to this delightful folk tradition.  The weekend is mostly a ‘session-centric’ event but there was a concert put on and a few of us flute players played a few sets with the help of a couple of fiddles and a piano.

Crawford's Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine
Crawford’s Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine

It was, overall, just a fantastic time and my musical cup is full.  I am grateful for this last weekend as it helped pass the time that I must wait for the next Big Trip coming down the pike.

Very soon, my long-time honey and I are off on an adventure to places of a more tropical sort and I almost can’t stand the wait!  But for now, I must catch up on work both here in the studio, and at the shop.    There are exciting things brewing!  I’ll share a little bit of it all here…

First up, a dear friend of mine is in the process of putting together an online marketplace which will feature some of the arts and creative wares from our general vicinity.  There is so much talent and creativity here in this rich Ohio Valley.  I am proud to be a part of it and thrilled to have a few of my cards and other small works soon available for sale through her efforts.  Business acumen is not a strong suit of mine and being a part of this marketplace is an opportunity I am really grateful for!!  I will certainly keep you posted when the shop is open for business which is slated to be in March.  More soon!!


Meanwhile, the annual Taos Trip registration process is chugging along briskly.  I have a lovely group put together already, but there are a few slots left.  Do contact me if you are interested in learning a bit about my journaling process which includes drawing, watercolor painting, and collecting the beauty of the travel experience.  And, while I’m at it, the beauty of day to day life really.  All of this is enhanced by making note of what captures our fancy in a little book. This is a process I have found to be life altering.  And I don’t say that lightly.

While not running hither and thither with a sketchbook, my studio based work has been essentially two pronged.  On the drawing table, Ginger Small has a little dummy book put together that I have been shopping around.  This process of putting my book ideas out there is daunting, as one doesn’t get much response beyond the occasional ‘no, thank you’.  But I know that this is all part of the process.  I have so many ideas!!  Like spaghetti thrown at the wall, something eventually has to stick!!  Best of luck to sweet Ginger and her stories and pictures….


Also from the drawing table, my artwork now covers the gorgeous new album by Nuala Kennedy.  We worked together to capture the magic and adventuresome, seafaring spirit of many of the songs and tunes she’s collected in her latest work.  It’s a delightful listen and I am proud to have helped put visuals to the stories she tells.

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The other prong of my art making process has been lately centered around the sewing basket.  Perhaps it’s the time of year.  Or the fact that embroidery is super hot right now, but that’s primarily what I have been working on.  Needled pictures which are time consuming but great fun to produce.


I’ve been revisiting some older embroidered works of mine over on my Instagram page, as well as creating new works like the Quetzal in process (above) and a little otter friend too….


With all this stitching going on, someone was bound to notice and so I am very proud to say that my large scale embroidery, Leviathan,  is now Whale-in-Residence at my favorite fibery haunt of late, Fiberge Knits and Bolts, located in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati.  If you are local, do stop by and visit her!!  It was sad that she was trapped in my studio behind the door.  Now she swims the walls at this beautiful little shop.  There are some rumblings about a possible spring class I may offer at Fiberge about the art of pictorial embroidery.  I will post more on that here on the blog when we settle the details.


And that, as my mom says, is all the news that’s fit to print.  I will certainly be sharing my upcoming adventures via stitches and sketches in the coming weeks.   For now I will ride the wave of flux and change and ebb and flow that this life seems to be offering me just now.  I am filled with gratitude for it all.






An Urban Sketch Adventure

bird of paradise

Hello there dear readers and a long time no post!  I have been relying on the very quick and simple avenues that are the worlds of instagramming and twittering about with the gentle, fair folk of the book of faces.  But it really is not enough.  And so I come back to this online space with a tale of a trip west.  To a magical land where miraculously, there are lemons and grapefruit and oranges hanging from the trees, and where fog fingers in from the nearby ocean almost daily, when it is not raining.  Where plants that only merely subsist on my winter windowsill in Ohio are in full and happy flowering on the side of the road.

I went to California.

A number of months ago, a good friend of mine who has attended the Taos workshop for a few years now,  suggested I should come to the San Jose area to maybe do some sketching with a few artist friends of hers.  And so we put a weekend together to see how it might work out.

The plan was to sketch in San Jose city proper one day, and attend and sketch at the Campbell city farmer’s market the next day.  Aside from some cool temperatures and a little rain, we pretty much did just that.

sketching on the train

We drew on the light rail on the way into town, where there were funky lines and shapes to doodle, and some funky people as well!

buffalo gal

There were a few experienced sketchers in our group, but a fair number were new to the practice, or rusty at the very least, and so working out our jitters was the first order of business.  While the internet is a wonderful tool for sharing and exploring all the wonderful artistic things in the world, it’s also an easy place to get discouraged when one goes online and enters ‘urban sketching’ in an image search.  The drawings are beautiful and daunting!  But there is no better thing to do than to simply begin.  After a couple of stops on the light rail, we got off at the larger train station to talk about perspective a bit.

I quickly demonstrated a sketch of an amtrak train which faded into the distance on my page.  Sometimes in a complicated environment such as a train station the key is to simplify what you want to draw and then figure out what direction your lines are going.  This can be a challenge even for those of us who draw a lot!!

train sketch

From there, our group walked on a bit further into downtown San Jose.  It’s a lovely city with some cool buildings, and even cooler people.  downtown san jose

In spite of some cold and drizzle, we settled into Ceasar Chavez Park to watch the skateboarding teenagers and do some gesture drawing.  I must say that these kids were one of my favorite parts of the day.  They didn’t mind us drawing them and offered to take a picture of our group on one sketcher’s phone.  Watching them skate was like watching dancers and I enjoyed trying to capture quick sketches of their movements in space.  To the parents of San Jose’s skateboarders, you’re raising some nice kids.  Well done!

san jose people studies

Soon our first day was done and we gathered back at Rosemary’s house to debrief a bit about how the day went, frustrations folks may have had and what we might change next time.  Overall, even the people in our group who were really nervous about the notion of sketching in public, had some really fantastic little drawings in their books.  Some were more painterly, while others more focused on the drawn line.  All were beautiful in their own way.  (I wish I had more pictures of everyone’s sketches!!)

(drawing by Sally Hickerson who is shaping up to be the next Dan Price in the sketching department)
(drawing by Sally Hickerson who is shaping up to be the next Dan Price in the sketching department)

As we headed into day two, the weather was a little more sketchy (for lack of a better word) but we went out anyway.sketching at the parket

The Campbell city farmer’s market is an amazing array of interesting vegetable and food vendors and even some art.  I hear that on pretty days it’s a veritable feast!  Alas, it was cold and a little drizzly again but our sketch group was undaunted!  We watched the people and the dogs and captured what we could.  Faces are difficult, but practicing drawing them is good for our sketching skills!

faces and places

Campbell has a sweet little water tower that is a bit of a land mark for the town and a number of us attempted to sketch it.  At first blush it seems simple, but I know I worked a bit thru some rough sketches first before getting the proper proportions of the tower.  Here is my most presentable doodle of this local icon:

campbell water tower

(ps. my given sir name is Campbell and I found myself flinching pavlovian style as to how often if came up visually in my travels around town!!)

Again we gathered back at Rosemary’s who so graciously hosted this sketch-a-palooza and we worked in our journals at the tables next to her sweet courtyard while warming up with a bit of tea.

Sally works

Suddenly, our group sketch weekend outing was complete.  I wish I had more time with each of these talented women, and more time to work with them to get the sketches they wanted onto their pages.  But alas, tempus fugit, yes?  We already have plans for the next sketch workshop there, and it’s my goal that it be a little less urban and more of the seaside variety, as much as I adore San Jose and surrounds.

I had now, one full day left in California to explore the possibilities of this idea.  And so, we did.

Of course on this day, the sun was out in full force, though the fog would come back later in the afternoon.  monterey aquarium

A long time ago, when I was a little girl, I worshipped an explorer called Jacques Cousteau (as so many of my generation did) and I dreamed of places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and what work I could do there.  cousteau

Alas, the science of art making would be the path I would eventually take, but my little inner explorer still lives on in my heart and she was very happy to pay a visit to the aquarium.

What an amazing place this is.  It is, on the one hand, a zoo of sorts; with creatures great and small educating generations of average citizens on the intricacies of the sea.  But it is also an artistic place of great beauty and history.  The combined effects of the Pacific coast and the old Cannery Row make for a space that is simply a delight to wander.  I could have stayed all day.  Even just at the otter exhibit.

ottersea otter and friends

There was an otter making the rounds in the tank who worried a small bit of kelp on his chest as he came by the window.  It was difficult to pull myself away.  But there is so much to see.

pablo sea quote

The ocean had kicked itself up into quite a lather in the days I was there and we were treated to some spectacular scenery just down the road at Point Lobos State Park (this is where I get a little bitter at what the notion of ‘state park’ means from place to place)


The fog was rolling in and we sat amidst it, quietly, and drew and observed and painted and admired.

point lobos sketches

point lobos

There were seals to be admired on their private beach just below us, and we all know how I do love seals.


But really, the three of us just sketched and were quiet.  My favorite way to commune with other people.  Except for maybe music.

This was a wondrous trip.  I was overwhelmed by it at every turn, and perhaps didn’t take enough photographs to make a proper blog post.  But that also means that I was fully engaged in it.  Drawing when I could, soaking it up, even swiping a few tears away at the aquarium.  Travel, if you can do it, is crucial to growth as a human bean.  Sketching during that travel, will widen the beauty of your experience.  I highly recommend.

Stay warm my friends.


Learn to keep a travel journal

travel journal blast

Join us, won’t you?  Taos, New Mexico and the surrounding countryside offer an abundant array of beautiful things, hither, thither and yon, to inspire sketches and paintings in your travel journal.  We will work together with some simple drawing supplies, a little watercolor set, and a sketchbook to bring out the drawings you have always wished you could capture while traveling.  This workshop is a shot in the arm for practiced artists, and a great leaping off space for those new to sketching and drawing.  Capture your travel experiences by learning to create an illuminated travel journal.

For more information, send me an email or visit the Taos trip page.

Connecting through sketching


It’s a funny thing to go out into the world with a sketchbook, some pens and pencils and a little paint set.  My friends from the Cincinnati Illustrators group and I routinely set out around town to practice our on-site rendering skills and one of our favorite colder-weather places to sketch is the Krohn Conservatory.  Today was, indeed, a cooler day to be sketching and so we visited the conservatory where their annual holiday display is on.  There are lovely little  woodsy buildings made of natural materials, depicting many local landmarks and iconic places.  And of course loads of gorgeous plants and flowers.

I sat for a good bit watching this little incline go up and down the hill to ‘Mt. Adams’ while I drew the scene.


After drawing for a while, I took out my paint set to add some color to my sketch.  Soon, I realized that I had a mesmerized young admirer of my work.


and so I drew her.




She was delighted with the results and when her Gran asked her, ‘what’s she painting there, Peyton?’, my new friend answered, ‘that’s Peyton!’

Peyton’s Gran sent me the snapshots she took of our sweet exchange and I share them here with her permission.  It was so wonderful to interact with guests of the Krohn, many of whom were fascinated by watching us draw.

Years and years ago, when I was a more shy sketcher, this notion filled me with dread.  I am often asked by students, ‘what if someone wants to see what I am drawing?’  (!!!)  And my answer is, ‘Let them!!’

We should all share our creative endeavors now and then, even when they might be new to us or feel clumsy.  I’ve been sketching for years now.  And each time I go out, I marvel at how curious and engaging folks are when I bring my sketchbook out.  I no longer mind folks looking over my shoulder as I draw, since now I teach the process.  I truly enjoy meeting the wonderful people who take a moment to say hello and ask what I am up to.  An active sketchbook is a lovely way to experience the world.


On embracing technology. sort of


Above there is my really fancy set up for a little experimental time-lapse film making using my i-phone.  I fashioned a little hammock for it to hover over my sketch book while I put together a sample Ginger drawing.  Just to see how it would work.   It did work, kind of, and the results are below.  I will change how the filming is done in my next try so the imagery is bigger.

I work best when I’m working so I’ll get back to it.  But for now, hello from those of us curled up in the studio for the day.  How ever did it get to be 2 in the afternoon already?  I should go grab a lunch bit… in this drawing, Ginger’s cheeks look like she might have already stashed something away for later herself!


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