Thinking ahead to spring….

st bridgid

It may seem a long way off, but February will be here before we know it, the Solstice and Christmas season will be just a memory.  Early February brings with it a time of early quickening deep within the earth; snow drops blooming, daffodils peeking their green leaves through the ground, coaxed by the occasional sunny day.  This time is ripe with symbolism for many traditions and cultures with St. Bridgid’s Day, Imbolc and Groundhog’s Day, to name just a few.  It’s a wonderful time of year to play in our journals and ponder what might be waiting to bloom within ourselves…

February 2 I am delighted to team up with my long time friend Diane Debevec – artist, writer, visionary – at Women Writing for a Change for an afternoon of illuminated journaling.  We will play with words, imagery, drawing, poetry, collage – all in the safe and welcoming environment WWf(a)C is known for. If you have been curious about what I do in my workshops or what WWf(a)C may offer through it’s extensive programming, this is an opportunity for a taste.  The class is reasonably priced at $35 and I can promise we will pack a lot into the 3 hours we spend together.  Consider joining us for this afternoon Illuminated Journaling workshop, and feel free to message me with any specific questions you may have.

In the meantime, many blessings on your Winter Solstice tomorrow and Christmas shortly thereafter.  What a lovely time of year.




And the winner is….

Many thanks to all of you who entered to win the giveaway!  To keep things fair and square, I wrote down the names of all who participated and put them slip by slip into the ‘sorting hat’…..

and the winner is 4

I then enlisted the assistance of an Official Impartial Puller Of Names to make the selection….


and the winner is 3

You may also notice the Official Impartial Judge and Onlooker here as well… (he takes these things very seriously)

and the winner is

And the winner is…….

and the winner is 1

Jo D. is the lucky winner of the giveaway!!

I so appreciated the energy this little drawing provided as the Taos trip participant list is around half full!!  This is wonderful news!  For those of you who are still contemplating taking this trip with us next summer, there is still plenty of time to sign up before March.  I’ll be posting plenty of sketches and inspiration along the way.  Go Forth and Doodle!!


The young and the young at heart

We have been experiencing some bitter, bitter cold of late, a rarity for our neck of the woods, especially as it’s not even technically winter.  I love all things winter, especially snow, and by day I have truly been in my element, even during dire, single digit temperatures. (In case you are wondering, the girls have a heated water fountain in their coop and seem to be coping just fine.)  That said, once nightfall arrives, I am loathe to venture out of my cozy abode.  But last night, Jack was to have a gig at a local divey bar with a jazz quintet he’s become a part of, and my hub and I were curious to see and hear what he’s been up to in his collegiate life.  And so we donned our woolen skivvies and down parkas and headed to town.

wild golf courses2

This quintet, which they call Wild Golf Course, is composed of all freshmen from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. CCM is one of the finest music schools in the world and so it’s no surprise that these kids have some talent.  But what came as a surprise to me is how well they played together.  This was their first gig as a group and yet the energy was as if they had already gigged lifetimes together.

{if you are interested in hearing a bit of Jack’s playing nowadays, you can get a taste of it on this live album just released from my friend Kim Taylor.  $1 of every album cost goes to Recycled Doggies, a Cincinnati based rescue organization.  This was a GREAT concert and I think you’ll enjoy it immensely on this recording.  Kim Taylor: Live at the Monastery}

wild golf courses

While Jack’s band packed up, the next act came on stage, also composed of young musicians.  These guys were rappers, a genre of music I am mostly ignorant about and don’t necessarily listen to when left to my own devices.  But a good rapper, in a live setting, well that is just poetry to a beat and I will admit to enjoying the few songs we heard from this band (who’s name we didn’t catch)


We left these energetic young men to their enthusiastic audience and took our boy out for some chili cheese fries.  (good for the soul and warms the belly as well.)

rapper 2

Spending a couple of hours around these kids who are following their passions seemed to cement the theme of youthful, artful brilliance to the day that began with a video a friend shared…..


This young woman, Zina, was sadly lost to this world at the age of 23 in a hiking accident which took her life.  I’ve watched this video over and over, completely captivated by the sense of play and wonder in her work.  And there was much back and forth with friends and friends of friends, mostly middle aged like myself, about how we must inject more play and kindness and quirk into our own lives and be a little bit more like the Zina’s in the world.  I love how she wears goggles as part of her signature look and decided that I perhaps could use some goggles myself which have ‘reader’ lenses I have taken to wearing for finer work these days.  Why wear normal readers, when you can wear Steampunk Inspired Goggle Readers???

And I got to thinking and remembered that before I even came across Zina or her work through this video, I was prone to donning goggles when an eclipse happened upon us. (sadly, it wound up cloudy on this particular day, but nevertheless, I was ready.)

Goggly Amy

Zina was quoted in her blog:

“Perhaps, we should use our time in embracing who we truly are, without the expectations of who we should be through time. I am Zina… and I build robots, wear goggles, dress in costumes, play with toys, drink root beer at bars…. I may not be able to build a time machine, but I have found that we, ourselves, are our own time machines… the basic thread in every place we have been, every person who has interacted with us, and everything we have enjoyed, loved, and learned. I am glad I have taken the time to know who I am, and I will have nothing but respect for those who know themselves… and embrace who they are.”

I am so inspired by the young artists I encounter daily, in my life around here and on the inter-webs.  They are a constant reminder to stay young at heart.  I think I may make some Reader Goggles in honor of Zina’s spirit.  I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out.

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?

Postcard from Ginger Small: Alighting the Darkness


In a northernmost land, where the sun is not inclined to creep above the horizon for long in the winter months, we must stay warm and inspired by keeping our huts well lit, singing songs and celebrating together when the pendulum of time swings again toward longer days.


Ginger Small, has traveled to the Nordic climes to celebrate the feast of St. Lucia, as only a Gypsy Hamster can, of course.

She made many friends.  All who shared in the beauty of lighting up the evening’s festivities with candles and song.


I imaging the music she heard may have sounded something like this…

Which would have been lovely to sing along to, don’t you think?

What began as a doodle in a sketchbook during a beautiful choral concert at the local conservatory….

ginger st. lucia sketch

…was soon alive with color, warmth and light.



What is lighting up your mind and sketchbook during these darkened months?  Ginger, and I, would love to have a peek!

Dressing up the season


We have been getting the boxes of treasures down from the attic, and have taken to nestling them here and there around the house…


precious things

Readying for the approaching Christmas holiday and darkened Solstice time.


precious thing 2.

All the while, Jack Frost has blanketed our little gully with all he could muster and the girls are not quite sure what to think of it all.

come for tea 5


come for tea 4

come for tea 2

They have taken to tapping out coded messages to anyone listening, demanding to be permitted to throw a tea party.

come for tea 3

And so, being a fair person, I helped the chickens outfit their own modest home and they are now ready for visitors.

come for tea 8

Some are shyer than others….

come for tea 6

But they do keep things cozy, with fresh straw.

come for tea 7

Won’t you stop in some time?

come for tea

Things are truly quite festive around here lately.



favorites 6

We were gifted with a snowstorm today.  It is not lost on me that a snowstorm is not a gift for everyone, but that said, for our little tribe, it is an opportunity to breathe a sigh of stillness and to play outside for a bit.

And so we donned our winter clothing, as dusk approached, and the ice turned to snow….. And we played.






There were snowbound wrestling matches (still being contested)







And snowball wars (also, contested)






But all in all, it was just fun.  To spend the day making a pot of soup and some cookies and gathering our loved ones from near and far for a day of wintry fun.



IMG_6037IMG_6038 IMG_6043



IMG_6050IMG_6053storm 2storm1

Wishing you warmth and love this winter season….

p.s.  I’ll be back with more sketches and paintings to share after the weekend.  Stay warm friends!!




The Depths of a Dark Forest

Sometimes, a bit of this…

blank board and bits

can, with time and some fiddling, become a little something like this.



And then, one might add a bit of this….



In which case, one might end up with a small painting, such as this…

and a painting results

I have spent today thinking a bit about the forest of the creative unconscious and how to tap into it.  Or does it tap into me, should I provide conditions which allow it? This is a ponderous question a poet friend of mine over in the twitterverse posed this morning.  Is it a walk down a forested path, lined with birch trees? Or perhaps wild music, the words of which are sung in a whole other language that speaks more to the soul than to the mind? It is all of the above, combined with the scent of a palette glistening with fresh oil paints.  In this small painting an old fashioned fellow has found himself warmed by a campfire in a dark wood.  Very near to him is a ladder upon which he may climb for a door which may lead to the seed of ideas yet to be had.  Where are your ponderings leading you today?

door detail copy

“A dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream. The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.” ~Joseph Campbell

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!