Tag Archives: taos art travel

A lacy November dusting

fairyland dusting

We awoke this morning to the gift of a magical dusting of snow, courtesy of a storm system nearby that will likely reek havoc elsewhere.  But for us, it transformed and beautified our little acre of land, muffling out the  sounds of the rest of the world and creating a bit of an other-world for just us.

fairyland dusting 2

Being on the protected side of the house and under a stately pine tree, The Girls didn’t get quite as much snow in their yard, but enough to make them wonder at the sight of it all.

the girls

Wise ones seemed to enjoy peeking out from their hidden places and I spent a good deal of time outside listening to the hush of the atmosphere holding its breath.

snow goddess

wise one peeking

Not all of the wise ones were out of doors.



I am in a place of being quite caught up in day-job tasks at the Concertina Shop but a bit behind in studio related tasks this week.  This, along with it being a week holiday here in the States, I have opted to hover nearer to home in order to feed and water my more artful work. Of course, I have a few things to share with you!

First off, my tiny world-wandering hamster friend, Ginger Small has been collecting the small bits of work I’ve made lately, mostly experiments from my perspective, but to her, these are praise deserving works which might stand a chance at the market.  And so she has convinced me to throw my hat back into the etsy ring and sell a few of these tiny works.  In the coming weeks, Ginger and I will be building a little page on the blog just for this endeavor and she will be sharing her offerings both here and in her own virtual spaces as well.  It is her hope that these Tiny Art Works for Tiny Spaces will appeal to those like her who prefer tiny spaces in which to live.  Do stay tuned!!  As I learn more about Ginger’s character, and the story she may want to tell the world, I am learning that she is artful, and worldly, and yet a little shy.  So with baby steps, (micromovements, if you will!) Ginger and I are nudging each other to get more out into the world with our offerings.  This seems doable with the right smock and a palette of colors at hand.

Ginger curates


The works below are unavailable online, as one has already sold and the other is up for grabs at the gift shop of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center, where I am a member of the Artist’s Collective.  If you are local to this river valley of ours, stop into this lovely shop and see the artful wares peddled there by many talented artists! If you are not local but interested in a Tiny Painting, offerings will be posted soon, in plenty of time for Yule-time gift giving.  But I did want to give you a whiff of what you will be seeing in Ginger’s little gallery very, very soon.

*(also, quick side note, I have a Selkie Series painting in the current winter show at KHAC called All Things Unexplained, which features many works of art about the hidden world of urban myth, fairytale and folklore. Stop in if you can!)

Northern Lights Northern SeaIMG_5775

In the spirit of ‘getting things out into the world’, I have been sharing the Taos trip opportunity with everyone I can! I even created a little video about the art of Illuminated Journaling which includes some Taos trip imagery.  Registrations have begun to come in, just in time for the Dec 15th early-bird discount which can save you $200 on the retreat.  I don’t want to share too much just yet, but there will also be a Go Forth and Doodle give-away to celebrate the last two weeks of the early-bird opportunity.  So stop by later this week for details about that!

Now, all work and no play makes for a dull week, even if it is studio centered, so when my mom asked me yesterday to join her to visit some puppies she wants to adopt, I jumped at the chance.  And so we drove through a brisk Indiana countryside to see these little youngsters to begin paring down her choices.  She recently lost her old rescued golden retriever who was truly one of the kindest creatures I have ever known.  These new pups have some golden in them but also a bit of poodle, which will make for a smaller bodied dog, the better for someone a little older to deal with as the pup grows.

puppies 2

I am not at all sure how she will make her eventual choice…

puppies 1

…as they are all pretty darn cute, and full of puppy curiosity and zip.


puppies 3

But I have a sense I know which one it could be. It will be good to have a puppy around once again.  All of our dogs, collectively speaking, are getting on in years and have settled into life as Older Dogs With Mellow Temperaments.  I love this.  But I also pine for an addition to our pack, a lap sized one like I had when I was a girl.  Perhaps this is a sign of old age, but I welcome it, as I might a new pup of my own.  For now though, I will play with this one upon her arrival to her new home in the coming weeks and probably get a few sketches made of her as well, as puppies are fun to doodle.

potential chosen one





My Hub and I drove a few hours north for the weekend to attend the annual Kelley’s Island poker paddle in which a bunch of kayakers circumnavigate a little island on Lake Erie, stopping every so often to pick up a playing card that makes up a poker hand that will then determine prizes to win.  It’s always good fun and every year is different.  This year Lake Erie was a disturbing color of green due to a blue-green algae ‘bloom’.

Due to wind and waves, we avoided the eastern side of the island and did a 10 mile out and back.  I had an early bout of sea sickness (to which I am sadly prone) during the first leg of the trip but managed to walk it off on the beach with a salty snack.  The waves from the first leg, which are what some folks call ‘confused seas’, calmed considerably after that and I was able to perk up and finish the event.  (with three kings, a ten and a 7, I might add.  I won myself a nifty t-shirt!)

Later in the day, I stayed out of the water and sketched and watched while many people surfed in the waves.  Our camp site was on primo real estate… right by the water.  Windy, but beautiful.

Not willing to ruin a beautiful day with more nausea, I opted out of the opportunity to paddle on Sunday and instead explored the island on my own, stopping to write and sketch for a while near one of the island’s quarries, walking on a pebble beach and visiting one of my favorite houses.  This place just drips with charm.  I love it!!

And here is the view from the dream home.  Le sigh.

A favorite exercise of mine is to try and capture snapshots of what colors are around me.  This is especially handy when there is so much to draw that I don’t know where to start!

It’s good to collect love wherever you go.

Y’all know how I love to travel.  It seems I am only home a week or two and I begin to feel the urge to be on the move again.  Why is this?  I think it is because when I travel, all of my senses are being utilized in a way that the autopilot of daily life doesn’t always allow.  Capturing the quiet beauty of daily life is one reason I keep a sketch book, but let’s face it, my sketch book pages are even more exciting when I travel.

This past summer I traveled to Taos, New Mexico with an amazing group of students.  This venture was a success on so many levels! New friends were made, there was a renewed commitment to exploring our creativity and making an artistic practice part of our lives in a way that feeds our souls.  I am so tremendously grateful for it.  The dates are set for 2012…. I invite you to join us (click here for the lo down!) If you live outside of Cincinnati and want to join us, please do!!!  Any pre-trip planning and prepping will be guided in an online-class kind of fashion for out-of-towners.  We would love to have you join us!  This class is for anyone who wants to document their life in a visual way through a sketch book.  You can be an artist, but you certainly don’t have to be.  I believe if you can sign your name, you can sketch in a sketchbook.  Give it a try.  You’ll be glad you did!

There are already some folks signed up and space is limited.  I look forward to meeting you!!!




Time Bending

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes equal distance into the world within.”  ~Lillian Smith

I am home.  And yet I am not quite.  There is just something about a visit to New Mexico that seems to alter a person’s perception of everything.  Time, space and relationships all seem to coalesce into realities that feed a new notion that anything is possible. I find that I am really missing my experience in Taos.  Wishing it were longer.  That I could do it over again and replay every detail just as it was.  And yet…. New Mexico seemed to come home with me as well.  Like rose colored glasses, I am still under a spell that blankets most things in a light of beauty.  As an artist, and especially one who likes to keep a sketchbook, I am pretty good at noticing the little things that bring beauty into my life.  To note them and to savor them is to note and savor life itself.  I am finding that this keen sense of beauty is magnified since my time in Taos.  I will continue below with more of the magic that was This Big Trip.  But first….

I am home:

And even with 100 degree heat and brutal humidity, I love this town.  I love the people who call me back home when I have been too far afield for too long a time.  I love that my little backyard mallard couple now have 7 beautiful little baby ducklings who are learning their way around our system of weedy waterways…

I love that I have dear friends who might live far away but come home just barely often enough that their young son knows his soul family.  I love that I can play music in a ceili band.  I love that I have even more traveling to do this summer….. but I digress.  Where were we?  Oh yes, Mabel’s.  Back to Mabel’s…..

There are drawings all over the Mabel Dodge house that are attributed to Mabel’s husband Tony Lujan, a local Pueblo Indian man, the builder of this great house, and the love of Mabel’s life.  These drawings, along with what I have read about Tony, speak to me of a rich inner life.

The Sunday of our trip was the day most of my students were due to arrive. Much time was spent preparing classroom space and supplies for their arrival.  Having a space that looks and feels worthy of artmaking is crucial to the artmaking process for me.  This gorgeous space in the Juniper House at the Mabel Dodge complex was just the ticket.

Each day we were greeted in the main house with meals that would make your mouth water.  Here is Mabel’s kitchen:

Next year I will have to get some more photos of the staff that make the magic happen at Mabel’s.  They were, every last one of them, wonderful.  One of the folks who works in the kitchen just happened to live a number of years in Cincinnati and is an artist herself.  I was a bit surprised to see her there, but was beginning by now to realize that there is a strange tie between Taos and the ol’ ‘Nati and I should just expect the unexpected.  Another, who would give French pastry chefs a run for their money, is a Pueblo Indian woman who guided us to the most amazing shop at the Pueblo.  But that is a story for another day….

Monday rolled around eventually and it was showtime!  Each day of the workshop we would meet after breakfast in the Juniper House classroom space to get warmed up with our supplies.  I have to admit, I got a little choked up each time my students would get all quiet and in the zone with their books and supplies.

I shared an exercise with them that I read about in a book by Dory Kanter that she calls ‘observation icons’.  The idea is to capture little moments of your travel time a couple of times a day and then add them to your journal.  I thought this might also be a way to get into the back door of art making because these little icons are so small (about 1″x 1″).  Too small for any inner critics to interfere.  I was right.  The icons were a hit and a great warm-up each day.  Here’s a sampling!

The classroom is wonderful, but the courtyard is even better! We were able to get outside and do some drawing of the grounds at the Mabel Dodge house.  Next year there will hopefully be even more of this.

In the afternoon of that first day, my new friend Kate came to talk with the group.  She is inspiring and so is her work and everyone thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and learning a bit about her process.

Later, as the sun was beginning to set, Kate took us to the famous church called San Francisco De Asis.

Pretty soon the New Mexico light began to work is evening magic.

There is so much mysticism that weaves in and out of everything in Taos.  Everyone you talk to has a very matter-of-fact approach to the daily unexplainables.  We received a gift of one of these little unexplainables in our gatehouse one afternoon in the form of this feather.  We were filled with gratitude.

More to come in the coming days.  I hope this finds you seeking, finding and spending quality time with, the magic moments in your own wild and precious life.







Taos plans

I had a meeting with Troy Brown today, head of the Community Education program at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, about plans for a travel sketching class to Taos, NM.  Since my trip to Taos late last summer, I have dreamed of taking a group of students there to soak up the beautiful light, Pueblo architecture and art history that the little town has to offer.  I would be ready to launch the trip now and make it happen in the spring of 2010, but alas, to make this class a reality I need to take into account the time frame that the proper level of preparation and advertising will take.  And so, we are scheduling the trip for the end of May/ early June, 2011.

On some level this feels really far into the future but actually, it’s not.  This time next year, the Art Academy Winter/ Spring catalog will go out with the trip to Taos offered as part of a package that includes preparatory sketchbook classes to discuss supplies, techniques and general plans for the trip.  If we get any takers from afar, I will work with those students independently online or via telephone.  In the meantime the next two catalogs, Summer and then Fall 2010 will give the Art Academy plenty of time and opportunity to make the class known and available to a wide range of potential students.  Perhaps I will even have the opportunity to head back to Taos between now and spring 2011 and seek out even more spectacular little places to sketch.

It is said that patience is a virtue, that good things come in their own time.  I am trusting that this is true.  My work cup is tremendously full right now with Drawing Down the Vision pilots happening this week and next.  I also received word late last week that I am to be the teaching artist on an ArtWorks project to be created for and installed in the Duke Energy Convention Center here in Cincinnati.  I’ll be working with project leader (and dear art buddy and friend) Tina Westerkamp as well as with local high school students who will be hired specifically to work on this project during January and February.  I will post photos from this new art adventure each step of the way here on the blog.  I am tremendously excited to be a part of an ArtWorks project, as usually their work happens in the summer time when I am feeding my gypsy soul.  There is much to keep me busy and engaged artistically between now and Spring 2011.  For this I am filled with gratitude.