Category Archives: sketches



It would seem that I have returned, physically at least, from the Land of Enchantment.  Hopefully, if you follow these things, maybe you have been keeping up with my adventures on the road and in the workshop space over on the more day to day virtual spaces I occasionally post to.  Looking back at my last pre-Taos blog post, I was so very ‘prepared’.  My plan was to do some blogging from the road, yes?  What is easy for me to forget when I have been away from this place for a solid year is how on a different plane it is.  Once out there, the LAST thing I want to do is be on a computer, or device.  It was, I must admit, all I could do just to post updates via social media (here, here and here – do join us over on SketchShare!)  And so now, I have pages and pages of journal work to sift through, hundreds of source photos to catalogue, and more memories and stories to share than I could begin to dole out in any measured fashion here in a blog post.  I felt it better just to sit down and type out a few Thoughts on Things Taos, in no particular order.



Returning to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House each summer for my workshop is something of a homecoming.  This becomes more pronounced each year as we have made close friends both at Mabel’s and in Taos town.  Each year I learn more and more about Mabel herself and I come to respect her journey to Taos and all that it wrought more so as well.  In many ways, Taos is the artist’s Mecca it is today because of Mabel and her influence.  She was an amazing woman.  I sensed she would have been very pleased with how the workshop went this year, on many levels.  When I go to Taos, I like to take a small something to leave on her grave as a sign of respect.  It would seem many others do the same. (one day there were a number of glazed donuts present.  I believe this made the local magpie very happy) Mabel’s is the only grave to be decorated in this little cemetery.  To me, I feel the veil is thin in Taos.  Best to keep those channels open.


It is said that New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment and I believe it.  I also believe that this is more so the case the closer to Taos one gets.  It is so very different than anywhere else and you have to experience it to believe it yourself.  I come from a rich land here in Ohio, lush and verdant.  The air is literally heavy, especially this time of year.  In the past couple of weeks, I have been at about 7000 feet above sea level, compared to our usual 700 ft in Ohio.  Upon returning home, it can be a bit painful to breathe in this dense atmosphere, something I attempted to rectify with a slogging run in the humidity this morning.  I think it helped.


(photo credit, Julie Keefe)

Under New Mexico skies, anything seems possible.  Creativity seems to seep from my pores.  Any doubts, backpedaling, nay-saying and other such things seem to disappear when I am there.  It is one of life’s riddles, how to bring that sense of possibility back to the day to day.  The answer is in my journaling work, I am sure of it.  And my art work outside of the little books I keep.  It’s becoming harder and harder to leave NM every time I go back, and this may be something that has to be dealt with on some level one day.  I must admit to the romantic notion of keeping a little casita in the countryside for extended visits to Taos, but I shall not let romance get in the way of my Right Work, which is here, now, in this place.  I have much to work toward.  Plans are already underway for next year’s Illuminated Journaling Workshop, June 14-19, 2015.  I will have pricing structure decided very soon and details will be found on the Taos page.  Some changes afoot from years past, but nothing major.  If you would like to be kept in the loop, drop me a line!  I am getting the sense that the 2015 trip may fill fast.  This season was the best yet.  I had a group of artists that spanned the spectrum of experience from professional to just beginning.  Everyone put forth amazing work in their books and I was in awe each day of how open to just doing the work this particular group was.  Even the beginners bravely dove in and gave new things a try.  By the end of the workshop I had a group of new friends among those I have known from seasons past, and there is already talk of next year.  I am so grateful for these women.



In Taos, the world as a whole seems to be suddenly in our hands.  Everything is magnified in importance.  Laughter comes so easily.  Small talk simply doesn’t exist.  I feel completely at home.


(eensy map by Sally Hickerson)

There is a sense of magic that pervades our day to day there.  This year, that magic came in the form of lovely new friends, and some future opportunities…



Harold Cordova is a Taos Pueblo man who keeps a herd of buffalo on his land up in the mountains.  He is someone I have spoken to on the phone now and then, but never had a chance to actually meet due to logistics and the way Taos Mountain seems to run on her own time and agenda.  I had heard about Harold and his buffalo from one of the staff at Mabel’s who keeps us well fed on our visits there and is family to him (and to us!).  This year she handed me his number and told me to call him.  And so I did.  I always say at the beginning of the workshop that the daily agenda will be shared day to day, always open to changes in circumstance, weather, etc.  I’m so glad I do things this way, as no one gets too attached to a perceived locking in of their week’s experience, including myself.  We wound up shifting things around a bit late in our week to visit Harold’s beautiful herd of buffalo.


It’s difficult to describe how great this whole outing was for those who went.  The sage was so pungent and fresh out in the field; the buffalo, timid and curious, seemed to look us straight in the heart, wondering what we bring to them of ourselves.  We snapped a few photos but mostly we just soaked it all in.  I had many delightful conversations with Harold, about animals, our relationships to them, Totems (Raven in particular) and Dancing Hummingbirds (he is a hummingbird whisperer).  We discussed magic, in a real sense, in the way we walk this earth and our place in it.  We talked about music and how traditional music in particular is a direct route to the soul, especially to those who can listen and choose to play.   It is my hope that we can share a bit of each of our traditions in a musical way some day….

The same day that the buffalo opportunity came to us, I was informed of an opportunity that has opened itself up to me.  In the spirit of Magical Thinking, I had offhandedly mentioned to Dorothy, Director at Mabel’s (I yet AGAIN did not get a picture of myself with her, but she is one of my favorite people at Mabel’s!) that I wondered about the idea of possibly being an artist in residence.  Was there some way I could get back there, off season, to do some work?  Anything, just to get more time out there?  Well, in her beautiful, twinkly way, Dorothy told me that a writer-in-residence program was being reinstated at the Mabel Dodge house, and that if I wanted to, I could apply and see about working with Ginger Small or some other book idea for a couple of weeks next winter.  But I had to do it STAT.  And, so, amidst everything, I submitted a brief written proposal and by Thursday, I had my answer and some dates for a residency in January 2015.  I’ll be making an official blast of this announcement once I work out the details, but if you are reading this, then you are fan to have made it this far, and so you deserve to know.  I am tremendously excited, and daunted, but I know my first full day back after the culmination of a taxing, though extremely successful, workshop is not the time to fret over Big Things.  But suffice it to say, Mabel Dodge Luhan and Ginger Small are now, inextricably linked….



And so, quick as that, the workshop was over.  It was time to pack up our supplies and books and examples and souvenirs and mail them off.  It was time to say goodbye to all of the beautiful spirits we worked with, and to those who supported my workshop with their work (I simply cannot say enough about the gracious team of staff at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.)  We took one more spin around the buffalo range with Harold for those who hadn’t the chance to see them the day before.  Lastly we scoped out some hiking paths with yet another dear friend from Mabel’s kind enough to spend an afternoon off of work to show us some of the hidden treasures just outside of Taos Town.

I am very fortunate to do this work.  I hope to build it up even more so.  Perhaps add another class during the year maybe in a different season.  As tough as Taos can be, dry, windy, difficult – Mabel’s makes it possible.  This was her original goal when she set up her home there.  To invite artists from all over the world to come and stay for a spell, to do their work and then to go back into the world to share what they had discovered amidst the quiet, mystery and sense of abandon to be found while in Taos.  Stay tuned for proper residency announcements, and perhaps more pages from my journal as I sort things out here back at home before the next trip.  I love the next two journeys, to Swannanoa to spend a week down the rabbit hole of Irish music and then onto Maine for our yearly dose of precious family time, but I am feeling called this year more than ever to maintain a distinct tether to life in Taos.  Life between dimensions is a tricky business.  But I aim to try.

Last gasp of winter



We thought we had made it through to the other side.

The piled up, well and often used coats and woolens lying around have been tucked away into the closet to await next winter.  Pollen has begun to hinder the morning’s runs and flowers are bursting forth all over the landscape with enthusiastic springtime abandon.


Mona Lisa


Lambs are being born at our friend’s farm, and green grass for them to nibble is growing strong.  We have had the first official pass with the lawn mowing tractor.


foggy morning sheep

Neighborhood friends have come back to play in the shadowed corners of the yard, quiet, sweet and quite shy, but willing to make friends if we let them.



Even the ever so flighty cherry blossoms have been on full display at some of the more flowerful places around town.


spring grove cherries


And then some storms came.  With much wind, buckets and buckets of rain.  And we awoke to a blanket of thick sticky snow weighing down our springtime lightness.


winter 4

I couldn’t help but admire it’s loveliness, much as I am over snow as a phenomenon for the season.  Springtime has it’s own slant to the light in the sky and so the snow has a more lively crystalline quality to it than it does in the depths of winter.

winter 3

The daffodils seemed to be requesting a do over, with their cheery faces leaning back into the soil.

winter 2

The forsythia blooms, just recently opened are feeling a bit droopy and sad with this cold snap and the weight of the snow.  I wonder if a few more blooms are still behind these…

winter 1


The farmer’s almanac did say that we were in for at least one more good snow before we really could settle our bare toes back into the grass and the bubbling creeks without getting too very cold.  And they have been spot on all winter long.  This too shall pass.

And then we can continue to get on with the busy-ness of spring.


photo 5


You are used to seeing quick drawings of dogs here on this blog, as they are the creatures nearest at hand, and I am comfortable drawing them.  Whether lying still in their beds, or romping around the house or yard, they are just fun to doodle.  People, on the other hand, are difficult to draw, at least for me.  I am reminded of my failures in drawing class (so acutely brought to my attention by a haughty graduate student who may have been a decent artist but had much to learn about teaching).  And so usually, I will admit to avoiding drawing people.  There is so much more to the world, yes?

But yesterday a wonderful opportunity came around that I couldn’t resist.  The folks at Modern Makers have been creating little sparks of magic all over town lately, bringing art out into the community, breaking down traditional silos that exist between different avenues of art.  Dance and Draw was the latest of these events where the Cincinnati Ballet had a few of their dancers on hand for artists young and old to observe, draw, sketch, photograph.  No fancy costumes, just some music and the beautiful, graceful lines and shapes created by the bodies of these amazing dancers.

ballet 3




We drew them while they warmed up and then they performed a few basic* routines for us. (*basic to them, extraordinary to us)

ballet 2


The event was extremely well attended by artists of all ages.


sketchers 3


My friend and fellow sketching devotee, Christina Wald went with me and we sketched and sketched and sketched….


sketchers 2


My nerves over drawing people soon melted away into the gesture drawings of the dancers.  They weren’t holding poses, just moving.  At this point, it’s the job of the artist to capture the essence of these movements.  And so for a few pages in my new sketch-journal, I did just that.  First with some toned paper and white crayon…


photo 1


And then, onto my beloved watercolors.


photo 2

I used dried paint from my palette so my lines weren’t any one color, rather a combination of the colors on hand.


photo 3


After the ballet dancers finished we were treated to a lovely improvisational dance by a dancer from CCM and her musical partner who created music in response to one another.  It was captivating!!  She was a joy to observe and to sketch!!


photo 4


I was a little sad I didn’t have my ‘good’ camera with me to take better source photos for longer drawings later, but the upside of this is that I drew more than I thought I would.  And I can always mine some of the images Christina managed to capture with her camera!

Last night was just one more example of the vibrant ‘creative class’ so very much alive and well in our Queen City, who just a few years ago was criticized for it’s stodginess and lack of luster.  I love what’s happening here in this town and am glad to be living here for its renaissance.  Bravo to Modern Makers and to all the partnerships and collaborative groups around town working so hard to put together evenings such as Dance and Draw.  I had a blast and can’t wait to do it again!


In other news…

Bogard_Amy_Murmuration (Once We Flew)


The above work entitled, Murmuration (Once, We Flew) (oil on paper, found frame, fish bone) has been accepted to be part of the 50/50 Art Show and Sale next month at Covington Arts!  I’m thrilled to be a part of it as the sale always draws a crowd and there is a nice shuffle for purchase by the attendees.  If you are local to us, and would like a one-of-a-kind gift for your Valentine, this is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening out with some wonderful art, and maybe even purchase a piece or two!

Also in February, the 2nd to be exact, the class I’m offering in partnership with Diane Debevec at Women Writing for a Change has been met with great interest!  We are a slot or two away from selling out, last I checked, so if you are interested, do get in touch with us via the link and join us for an afternoon of Illuminated Journaling practice and techniques! I’m excited to work within the WWfaC technique base and to incorporate writing practice into keeping the illuminated journal!  With St. Bridgid as inspiration, we will have much subject matter to draw upon.




st bridgid


Rumor has it there may even be some collage exercises happening to get the creative juices flowing!!



Ginger Small has also been hard at work.  She and I have started a Society6 page with a few Ginger products available for sale.   These too, have been met with great fanfare by Ginger enthusiasts.  If you are a fan of Ginger and would like to see a favorite image of hers upon a mug or a phone case or some such, just drop me a line!  I’d be glad to upload more images as time goes on!

Some folks love when Ginger is all bundled up for a winter’s day, (much like today!) and have invited her for cocoa.

Ginger comes to cocoa

Others appreciate Ginger’s love of the ocean and a lovely tropical breeze.  The perfect scene to keep your mind off your computer work, yes?




Speaking of the ocean, this continues to be where my art brain resides, and therefore, some of my sketchbook resides there as well.  It’s difficult to stay primed in our illuminated journals when the wind howls outside and the snows cover most anything that might normally be of interest.  At times like these, look to your imagination, (Ginger drawings), or online for seemingly magical (but very real indeed) creatures of the deep… (this one I drew from a photograph)

Weedy SeaDragon


…or perhaps no further than your windowsill for a find from last summer or the last time you were at the beach.  Around here there are always bits of this and that laying around, usually with a magnifying glass to notice the details.  Here’s a page I did with a  few of these finds. (not from a photo)



No matter how you are keeping your sketchbook alive, I’d love to see it!  There are just over 6 weeks left to sign up for the Taos trip happening this june.    While we may have a few slots left for latecomers, signing up before this deadline is the only way to guarantee at room at the inn as well as a slot in the class.  Part of the magic of this course is spending a week at the magical, mystical Mabel Dodge Luhan House.  While there is more than enough room for a conference at Mabel’s, they do open any extra rooms after our deadline to people who may not be attending a workshop but want to lodge at the inn.  And so, after March 15th, much will be left to chance.  If you have any questions about the trip, feel free to message me in an email and I will answer them for you as best I can.  I hope you can join us!

As my mom would say,”that’s all the news that’s fit to print”.  And so it is.  Stay warm dear readers.

Why we love a snowy day



Beneath the hill where the Red Wolf Howls….

redwolf howling 

There is a line of trees where Squirrel Folk dwell….

we know youre up there

On a snowy day we can clearly see the paths they have traveled and track their every move amongst the trees….


squirrel chase 3

Although we never catch them….


squirrel chase 2

We are always up for the chase….


squirrel chase

Which is good fodder for the artist’s little book of days.


Snowy day dogs sketch

And quite the excuse to nap a bit on the warm, radiant floor in the kitchen.


warm concrete is a doggie soul balm.

What do you love about snowy days?

Go Forth and Doodle! A Give-away

In my last blog post, I hinted that there might be some excitement around here as I continue to spread the word about the Illuminated Travel Journaling workshop in Taos Next summer.  Early-bird registration is in it’s final weeks and spots are starting to fill!  While we will be accepting registration for the course through early spring time while space is available, I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the chance for the $200 savings now!.  What better way to spread the word than with a give-away!!  Here’s your chance to win the Go Forth and Doodle sketch-journaling set!


The Go Forth and Doodle give-away set includes a few must have tools to begin your sketching adventure right now!  There is a moleskin brand blank book, tricked out with GFaD art work, complete with a place for ephemera in the back of the book.  This little book is great for ink or pencil drawings, notes about your travels and doings, a general “butterfly catcher” to enhance deeper work in other books later.  I like to work and write in these books with Pigma Micron pens, so I’ve included one as part of this give-away set.


There is also, a more watercolor friendly handmade blank book, made by me out of sturdy paper that can take some wet work and color play.  Also tiny in size, this little book is a good one to sit and paint in when out at the park or the public market.


One cannot watercolor with out some paints and a brush, so this give-away includes a Niji waterbrush and an Altoid tin watercolor set, which you have seen multiple times here in the past.  These tools make it so easy to grab quick, sketchy studies just about anywhere!  And the water is in the pen!!


The whole set can fit in a coat pocket or a small bag or case and with a little practice, you’ll be drawing, sketching and painting like mad wherever you go!


So how do you go about getting in on this gift?  The only thing you really must do, so I can keep official tabs of who has entered to win, is to submit a comment to this post on this blog.  I love to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter and beyond, but those comments can get lost in the shuffle, and I’d hate to miss anyone who’s name should be among those in the hat.  So comment below and you’re in for the give-away! Simple and quick as that.  If you know other sketchers who might like to win this give-away, or even better, to join us in Taos next summer, pass the word!  Below is a video to share.  Best of luck!

I’ll pull the name of one lucky winner from the hat at 7 pm, Saturday December 14 (EST), one day before the end of early-bird registration. So have your comments in before 6:55!  Thanks again for passing on the word of this wonderful work.  I hope to see you in Taos!

A tale of summer’s travels (part 2)

In which we leave the desert behind and venture to the sea….. monhegan fog

Our summer is not complete without a visit to the coast.  And so, we drove many miles to Maine where we scooped up god-children we see only once a year and whisked them out to sea for a few days on mystical, magical Monhegan Island.  We drew boats and coast lines and hiked miles of trails.




monhegan 4monhegan 5

monhegan 3

We seemed to blend in well with the others who were drawing and observing on the island.


monhegan artist

Sometimes artists stand on the rocks for so long that they become like stone themselves.

monhegan ghosts

But not all of Monhegan is wild…

road sign

We stayed quite comfortably in an inn called the Monhegan House.

monhegan view

monhegan 2

As was the case on my last visit to the island, the veil between here and there is quite thin.  It was necessary to pay our regards.

faery hut 2

But there is always time for more sketching in the sketchbook.  Because that is what I do.  In the desert.  And at the sea.


brilliant artist

poppy gets a lobster

After partaking of oceanside adventure and cuisine for a number of days, we were called inland to the Land of the Lakes.



The rolling hills of the Kennebec highlands are home to a relaxed pace and sweet berry-pie-laden atmosphere and so we settled in for a week of catching up with our far-flung soul family members.

across the pond

I spent much time observing the lake.

long pond nap

And Drawing.

long pond sketch


Watching the skies.


long pond mists

And Drawing.

long pond sketch 2

long pond value studies

And watching the skies.

long pond skies

Sadly, it was eventually time to return even further inland.  Back to Ohio where the kids, ever growing, had their more modern, fast-paced lives to attend to.  Maddie is back to her third year of high school, busy with AP classes and digging through the thigh-high pile of collegiate options she is faced with in the coming year.  And college, that is where Jack is.  Across town but a world away, living his life and pursuing his dream of making a life in music.  If this past weekend’s performance of Verdi’s opera Don Carlos is any indication, he has found his place.

And I fill my well where I can, such as sneaking off with my Hub to our own land-locked inland seas for our annual trip to Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie.  There was much kayaking to be had with perfect conditions all around.  And of course, I also sat and drew as much as I could.


beach sketch

All of this time around big water has only strengthened my fascination with the folklore surrounding the seas.

island gleanings

selchie pup

Specifically, the legend of the Selkie.  And so, once back at  my drawing table at home, I set about creating a watery world for a Golden Child of the seas…..

selchie beginnings

“I think of mythology as a function of biology, a statement of the impulse system of the body and the organs. Not something that’s made up in the head. What’s made up in the head is a fiction. What comes out of the heart is a myth.”  

Joseph Campbell The Hero’s Journey

In this painting, our selchie heads to her sea cave, far beneath the surface above.  There are wonders to behold in the depths, if we but seek them.  I’ve thought a lot about myths and stories lately and how traveling into ‘the depths’ can challenge us to discover our very own story in this world, while also seeing how our story sits among the other stories.  It’s the weaving together of story, both personal and folkloric, that create the culture we lean upon as human beings.


Some of us are lucky to have friends who will accompany us when we dive deep, and make sure we come back up for air.


photo 2photo 4

And what might a sea cave sound like, you ask?

We have come to the end of my summer’s travels.  I was inspired by the duality of my desert/sea experiences and created these little paintings for a small works show called Small Glimpse, now showing at Red Tree Gallery.  I am fortunate to be able to find myself so far flung in the summer months with my heart’s work each June for the Illuminated Travel Journaling Course and then family time in Maine with music in between for the rest of the time.  All of this beauty brings a magic to my day to day back here at home in Ohio for which I am deeply grateful.

children of the desert children of the sea

A tale of summer’s travels (part 1)


When summer comes to this river valley, I get the urge for goin’ as they say.  And so, I pack up my drawing and painting supplies, and maybe a few little books that I have created or altered to suit my needs, and I go.  This past summer was no different, except that due to some invasive happenings on my virtual front porch, I was unable to truly share them with you here until recently. (all has been resolved, of course.)  And so, let’s catch up on all my sketchy adventures of rambling through teaching, painting, playing music, catching up with family.

taos sign

get on a plane

Those of you who know me well, know that the first stop every summer is Taos, New Mexico where I teach an annual Illuminated Travel Journal Workshop (you can sign up NOW for the 2014 trip here!).  Each trip to Taos has it’s own distinct energy and pace and I was delighted with how this one turned out.  We opted to go a few days early this year, in order to make sure everything was in order for the workshop upon our arrival, as well as to acclimate to the climate and altitude.  These few days turned out to be key to setting the tone and intention for the workshop as a whole, and I have already booked the same for next year.


D.H. Lawrence said that “time runs differently in New Mexico.”  And it is, after all, the land of enchantment.  It takes time – to sink in and soak up the sacred waters of the hot springs as we gaze up at the wind and water sculpted cliffs.

sketch of ojo cliff

It takes time to go beyond our inner boundaries and pass through the right portals…..


portal 1

portal 2

It takes time to really sink into a place, by walking its paths, drawing (on) its beauty, rediscovering its inherent magic, so as to better pass these discoveries onto those attending the workshop.  And so we found ourselves at home in a little place at Mabel’s called Auntie’s Cottage and we set up shop.

our studio home away from home before class

And we took to the paths that lead to interesting things to capture in our journals….

Map to taos


sketching in town


famous taos truck

gorge watercolor

sketching morning light

a new mug for delicious morning coffee at mabel's!

Soon, it was time for workshop attendees to begin arriving.  They were welcomed to Taos by a Thunderbird.

taos thunderbird

Welcome to Juniper house!  This is the building that houses our gorgeous classroom space as well as a few extra rooms at the inn.

welcome to juniper

We had an amazing group of journal-keepers.  Some had experience with paint, paper, and art-making in general and created lovely images and memories in their books which we shared and discussed in class time.  While others, the truly intrepid ones if you ask me, were true beginners who nervously and courageously learned how to draw and paint just enough to get an impression of something they found beautiful into their books.  As expected, these beginners went leagues beyond where they thought they were able and sometimes tears of joy were shed to know “I am capable of creative work”.  Powerful stuff indeed

taos 2013

We coalesced as a group as we journeyed to the magical places to be found in and around Taos.

azure sky

Sky blue is a tricky color to capture….  The secret?  Most times it’s to add a little green.  One could spend a life time looking at and painting the New Mexico sky.

gorge sketching

The Rio Grande Gorge is a spectacular chasm that defies description.  We spent hours drawing there one morning.  And again, one could spend days, nay, YEARS!  I for one am still obsessively painting the gorge from memory and photos.  But I am itching to get back to the real thing to experience it once more….

gorge painting sketch

Above is a study in oil on a little wooden panel I had laying around, while below are the bones of a triptych that should eventually shape itself into a nice work of art…. I will keep you posted.

gorge unfinished

When the afternoon sun became too intense, we sometimes headed indoors to our breezy classroom space and worked in our books there.  Thanks to Lynne who sent me this cute snapshot of one of those times!!

in class and having fun

And sometimes in the evenings we would head out to a favorite sunset gazing spot.  Here there is a gnarled tree under which someone has memorialized an old four legged friend who might have liked to hike in the area.  This tree helps hold those memories.

a tree that holds memories

During this intense and beautiful workshop time, I was fortunate to have a small space, all to myself, where I sometimes spent a little while simply finding my quiet.  This was also my sleeping space.  My traveling companion and all around right hand woman Julie and I adored our little cottage for pre-workshop time, but during the workshop, it’s good to be closer to Mabel’s Big House and the classroom at Juniper House.  And who wouldn’t want to wake each morning to Taos Mountain delivering the sunrise?

sun comes up over taos mtn

My little room has a screen door that opens on this view.  It’s enough to melt the heart.

the view out back

And it did.  Every morning.  A melted heart is an important tool when teaching a workshop.

I took some time as many mornings as possible, to sit with my own illuminated journal and capture my experience, my thoughts, my view out the window, a little list of all the wonderful things that were happening each day.

taos mtn sketch


morning sketch of taos mtn

One of those serendipitous and wonderful moments was that a rather large article featuring our Eco-Chic Retreat was out in the paper during our stay in Taos.  It’s not everyday you arrive in a foreign town and find yourself in the paper.  I was absolutely delighted.  The Eco-Chic team have become my friends and I have enjoyed watching the project’s journey into the world.

We made the paper

Soon, too soon, it was time to travel back eastward.  But not before sinking once again into the waters at Ojo Caliente and gazing up at the cliffs that surround the pools of hot, healing waters.  I even spied a shooting star one night.

offerings from the locals

A small part of my soul was sad to leave my beloved Taos and the strong Mountain which overlooks it.  But I know I’ll be back.  the 2014 trip has just been announced and now, I simply need to gather the like minded souls who might want to open their eyes and hearts to a new way of traveling in this world.  As I wrote in my last post, next year is all me, along with my small team of helpers, and we are taking a leap in putting the trip on ourselves.  But sometimes a reminder comes across in the form of words from the past that seem to point in the direction of following one’s own path…


So we left the dry of the desert, and arrived home to this….

While the west thirsted for rains to quench a years long drought (sadly, they now have, with much destruction), Julie and I arrived home to a very rainy summer here at home.  It was so bad in our area that I opted to move the chickens to higher ground.

rain rain go away

And we got some flood insurance in the meantime, which thankfully, we have not had to utilize as things have, for now, evened out.

But the rains did come for a time. And they joined me on further adventures.  

While the Taos trip is magical and beautiful and something I would not trade in my life, it is still work.  And so the next big trip I took was to the mountains of North Carolina to attend a week of music classes at the Swannanoa Gathering.  This is one thing I do for myself that is for no other reason than my own enjoyment.  I opted to go down a day early with a music friend from here in town so we could camp for a night on Mt. Mitchell, which turned out to be more of an adventure than either of us bargained for.  With all the rain we had been having in the east, and North Carolina was no exception, you can imagine what the camping was like at the top of the highest peak east of the MIssissippi.


It all started innocently enough with a foggy arrival and dinner hour….

(sidenote: Just a week prior to this, I spent a very soggy weekend camping up by Lake Erie while I attended an all women’s Level 3 Sea-Kayaking course through 41 North.  Surely, SURELY I couldn’t have two rainy camping experiences in a row, right?)

map of our journey

The Rains decided to descend upon us once more, with wind as well, reminding us that Mother Nature is always in charge.  Just before dawn, after a somewhat sleepless night on top of the mountain, we packed up camp as best we could and ran for the car to attempt an escape.  By the light of my head lamp, I spotted a small salamander, something for which the Great Smoky Mountains are notorious, literally riding a stream of water down the steep path.  Even in the midst of chaos, this got my imagination going.

salamander kayaking


Paddle faster little man!!!


paddle faster

Needless to say, we got off the mountain.  And as check in at camp was not until later in the day, we dried out at the local breakfast place, then the mall, as we waited for sleepy Asheville to wake up.  One thing for which I am deeply grateful, are friends who consider these things adventures and are willing to laugh in the midst of the discomfort of being wet and a little bit miserable.  This gift enabled us to more deeply enjoy the week that followed.  And what a week it was.  I have few pictures.  No drawings.  I was immersed in a faery-like trace of a week of nothing but Irish traditional music along with folks who feel the same as I do about these old tunes and the playing of them.

me and my flute cousin

It was sheer bliss being able to catch up with my musical family, my “flute cousins” as we call each other.  We laughed harder and longer than we do the rest of the year.  We played tunes upon tunes upon tunes late into the night, and into the next day, while still managing to attend classes when the sun rose again.  We knew we only had a week to do this.  And it was precious.

I’ll leave you at this point in the tale of my summer’s travels with a video of my son Jack and a couple of his friends from camp doing their thing at the student showcase.  I have more to tell of our travels and will share them in part 2 of this post.  But for now, enjoy these amazing musicians….

(ps. Their accompanying guitarist?  Yes, the one and only John Doyle.  Where else can a few kids get their set of tunes backed up by a rock star?)

chrysalis blooming

Pull up a chair and let me pour you a cup of tea.  It’s been a long and delightful summer filled with amazing journeys to magical places and I can’t wait to share it all with you in the coming weeks as I get caught up.  But first… I’ve been remodeling this little virtual space, as I said I might, and I am anxious to show you around!

icon-4 copy

Welcome to my new website!! is now a blog-centered virtual world now.  I’ll spare you the tedious techie details, but basically my lovely old website, off of which my blog used to spin, has become a part of the history of the interwebs and is now just a exhaled electronic breath on the virtual ether by now.  I took a few snapshots for posterity before having it turned off and everything redirected to this new space and I now envision the old website and all it’s one-of-a-kind beauty floating ever further out into space like some out-dated satellite or some such.  It served me well for a good long time, but I am thrilled to be here, now, in this space.  Is’t it cozy??  Do poke around and click at will, and let me know what you think.  My friend MB and new “wordpress midwife” is, among many things (like so many mamas I know and love), a fantastic web-master kinda gal with super skills that I am in awe of on a daily basis.  I have her to thank for getting all of the proper widgets in place that can help me stay connected and current in this vast and weird online world, and to navigate amidst it.  She also had some fabulous design ideas and the look of the new site is as much hers as mine.  Big, big love and thanks to you MB!!!

It is said that if you disturb a chrysalis in it’s cocoon before it is ready to face the world, you stand the chance of damaging or destroying it.  My work lately has felt very much this way.  The blog is not the only thing undergoing Big Change in recent months…..

extra  read all about it!!!!!!!!

For the past three summers, I have been leading a group of intrepid travelers to Taos, New Mexico to work in their sketchbooks and create Illuminated Travel Journals, visual diaries of their time in this amazing little town so far off the beaten path, yet at the center of everything, being at the foot of Taos Mountain.  I created this class in partnership with the of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and having a Real Institution behind me gave me the opportunity to sprout some wings and get this workshop off the ground.  For this I am forever grateful.  But as the workshop and myself as well grow and change into a new creature, it became clear to me that I should forge ahead on my own, less a part of a large institution, but rather as the lead wolf in a small committed pack of like minded other wolves who could see my vision for things as they morph into what they need to be.  And so I have amicably parted ways with the Art Academy, with their support and their blessing, to continue offering this trip, with updates, some sprucing up, and forever tweaking the flow of things.  It is up to me to get the word out, get folks registered, answer questions, plan, plot, collect, inform, create and conjure to make the journey once again a reality.  I have taken full ownership and responsibility for it all, complete with a new bank account, the creation of an LLC, and a marketing plan.  And contrary to a time that has now passed, I am not terrified of this side of the work.  This too is something for which I have a whole heap of gratitude.


(photo credit: Julie Keefe)

Here are the basic facts about the course and you can go to the Join Us In Taos page for even more information and links to all things Taos.


June 15-20, 2014

Mabel Dodge Luhan House Historic Inn and Conference Center

Check in after 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 15 with evening welcome reception

Check out by 10:30 a.m. on Friday, June 20 with bagged lunch to go

Learn and apply the tools, tricks and techniques that will bring your travel sketchbook journal to life!

Open to all skill levels from drawing beginners to pros looking for a fresh perspective;

new and lifelong journalers alike are welcome.

Workshop fee includes room with full bath, gourmet breakfasts and lunches, as well as a farewell dinner.

Field trips to iconic sites in/around Taos;  opportunities for self-guided excursions and solitary drawing as well as class time and exercises.

Amy will be available for one-on-one assistance and support.

$1100 shared/$1300 single – payment in full by December 15, 2013

$1300 shared/$1500 single – payment in full by March 15, 2014

More Information:

Register Via Email:

And that is the gist of things in the Big News dept.  In smaller (though no less exciting) news,

first egg

The girls have begun laying.  I am not sure how long this will last, now that fall has begun to wrap it’s golden cloak around our region, but hopefully they will develop their laying skills for a few weeks before taking the winter time off.

Do stop back here to this cozy little space, as I have many tales to tell you of my summer’s journeying.  I have been to many places and have learned a great many things…..

“For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?”

~Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways