Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass
--Cat Stevens

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Forty Days, Forty Nights

It has been dribbling, hailing, storming, pouring.  We're soaked.  There's a big maple at the back of our property that lost a large limb in a wind storm, and while the good news it that the limb missed the fence, the bad news is it smashed all sorts of bushes and spring ephemerals. This graceful jack-in-the-pulpit was laying flat, so I brought it inside for a closer look.

Why did I never do this before?  Such elegance and grace in a simple plant.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In the Japanese Garden

A week or so ago I went for a walk in the Japanese garden at our local botanical gardens.  This part of the garden is always cool and quiet. I was delighted to find a magenta azalea blooming. 

                                              “Instructions for living a life.
                                                Pay attention.
                                                Be astonished.
                                                Tell about it.”
-- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sandro for JKPP

Sandro - colored pencil

I keep thinking I am going to be more experimental with my portraits for Julia Kay's Portrait Party, but in the end I muck about with some contour drawings, some doodles, then go back to working quite realistically.  I think I'm getting better at achieving a good range of values with colored pencils.  Sometimes I use warmer colors, but this time I just used back, white and indigo. I basically eliminated the background, starting quite dark at the top to contrast the hat, and light at the bottom to contrast the shirt.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

History Makers

Just a little sharing of the joy.  Last Saturday night the Rock County Historical Society gave me a beautiful "History Makers" award for the work I have been doing in leading tours through Oak Hill Cemetery.  There was the stained glass and engraved award itself, but also a humbling video introduction, and a lovely evening of food and drink and music.  The decorations were all based on a USO theme, and some people came dressed in uniforms or 1940s garb, and there were displays all over the former armory where the event was held.  I had a blast, and enjoyed seeing lots of local folks who are associated with or just support the RCHS.  I am very grateful.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Passing Through

Every year about this time the rose breasted grosbeaks pass through on their way north.  They are big and bright, and they dominate the feeder.  They also are not afraid of my new camera.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Flowers - Before the Rain

Last winter we took a cruise, and in our cabin were two paintings, extreme close-ups of striped parrot tulips.  I was fascinated by these paintings and was anxious for it to be tulip time here in Wisconsin.  They are wonderful, pops of bright color after the gray of winter.  My photo probably doesn't do these justice, but I guess the real joy was in the looking.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring at Oak Hill

I was out photographing stones at Oak Hill, and noticed this tree in full blossom, near one of the more impressive obelisks. I snapped this picture, even though I would have preferred a blue sky. Looking now, I like the limited palette of the image, very little color except the green of the grass and new leaves.  Life, returning, as it does each spring.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fawn, Spotted

I spend lots of time at Oak Hill cemetery, photographing stones for Find a Grave, and planning walking tours for the community.  But sometimes I just sit and watch, and am rewarded with a glimpse from nature.  There is a small herd of deer that lives in the woods at the back of the property, and I got lucky last week and spotted this growing up fawn.  Sometimes that's all it take to make my day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Japanese Serenity

Recently I took the short drive over to Janesville's Rotary Botanical Gardens. I like visiting early in the season before there are many visitors.  It's quiet then, and I like to sit in the Japanese garden and simply listen to the birds.  The beautiful thing about this part of the garden is that it doesn't depend on much by way of flowers, although some azaleas were in bloom.  Water, rocks, moss, and some neutral colored pots and sculptures makes this part of the garden peaceful.

Peaceful is good.

It's all I have to bring today --
This, and my heart beside--
This, and my heart, and all the fields--
And all the meadows wide--
Be sure you count--should I forget
Some one the sum could tell--
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the clover dwell.

                              Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I began this blog a decade ago, when I was inspired by another woman's blog that had one beautiful photo a day.  I took photos of things in my corner of the world, and sometimes added poetry.  Then, over time, I began to concentrate almost exclusively on my art making, and my original intent was mostly pushed aside.

I'm feeling the need to go back to my original intent, at least for a while.  Winter seemed long to me, and I was plagued by nagging illnesses - nothing too awful, but enough to sap my energy and enthusiasm for making art.

So, for now, I want to return to more frequent photos of things I find beautiful in my life. I have a new camera that I really enjoy, so that is part of it. And maybe I'll hunt around for some poetry too.

 This is our local library, the Hedberg Public Library.  It's quite close to our house, so I visit several times a week, to find books and books on CD for the car, and to research for my cemetery walks. In the spring the Bradford pear trees out near the road are glorious, as are the tulip beds. We've been given nice weather for a few days, so they are showing off their blossoms in a spectacular way.

Yes, I am aware that Bradford Pear trees have their detractors, but today I am enjoying the blossoms.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Portrait Revolution

Spring is, well, springing in southern Wisconsin, and I have not been in the studio very much at all.  In fact, most of my time has been spent working outside, especially at the local cemetery where I photograph for Find a Grave, and also planning my upcoming May walking tour of the historic parts of the cemetery. I enjoy both doing research and getting outside to stretch my legs.

I have been working in sketchbooks a bit, and on a self-portrait. But today I'm tooting my personal horn about being included in a new art book called Portrait Revolution: Inspiration From Around the World For Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles, by Julia L. Kay. Julia Kay started an online group on Flickr devoted to drawing a painting portraits.  People join the group, post photographs of themselves, and then are free to interpret the photos in any way.  Some people draw, some paint, some use digital media, one even did portraits on an Etch-A-Sketch. Some portraits are realistic, while others veer into abstraction or caricature.  All are interesting.

Anyway, months ago I was asked to submit a couple portraits for the book.  I was flattered to be asked, but had no idea what the final product would be like.  This past week I ordered and received my copy, and was thrilled to see what a beautiful book it is.

When I was first contacted about including two of the portraits I did, I was a little disappointed that the ones they chose were not favorites of mine.  But looking at the book now I can see what an effort was made to include a wide variety of artists, and a wide variety of media and artistic approaches.  I tend to experiment a lot, and both of my portraits included here reflect that. One is rather abstract and brightly colored, the other is a monoprint, enhanced with colored pencil.  I love seeing the way the folks who compiled these portraits show the original photo, plus several different approaches JKPP folks used to create art.

So thank you, Julia Kay for bringing together so many diverse folks from around the world to create art, and to find artistic kindred spirits.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Coming Back

This morning I'm honking into my Kleenex, barking out ragged coughs, and slouching around the house in my wooly socks and slippers.  And the thing is, I'm feeling much better.

What is it about taking a nice winter vacation?  Why can't I just pack my bag, go have fun, and be done with it?  Why must I be a magnet for other people's viruses?  It happened last year in Mexico, and this year it happened again, after our cruise into the eastern Caribbean.  I'm not sure If I was infected by our chatty team trivia players from Memphis, or from one of the many coughing and sneezing fellow travelers in the Fort Lauderdale airport, or even from other human sardines on the airplanes.  It's a mystery.

It doesn't matter.  Colds happen.  And they spread.  Now my dear husband is sneezing and coughing and stretched out full length on the sofa.  I used up all the cough medicine, so I need to go out and buy some for him.

But back to the trip.  It was good.  Windy, but good.  This was our sixth Holland America cruise, this time from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, Curacao, the Panama Canal, and Costa Rica.  We were supposed to have a day at Half Moon Cay, but there were 40 mph winds and high seas, such that the ship could not safely tender in, so we had an extra day at sea. Oh well. The cruise accomplished our greatest winter goal, which was to warm up and to see green. 

What I like best about cruising - coffee delivered to our cabin in the morning and then sitting on the little verandah to drink it,  the incredibly pleasant staff, walking around the navigation deck looking at other passengers and whatever else is out there in the sea (other ships, islands, flying fish), playing trivia in the Crows Nest, cocktails in the Crows Nest, catching some sunshine, meeting interesting people from around the world, seeing new places and wild creatures. Seeing masses of Pepto-Bismol colored flamingos standing in a salt flat was a wonderful surprise. I also enjoy having time to read.  This time I plowed through three enjoyable books: Life after Life; Life Itself; and Miss Hargreaves.

Things I don't especially like - worrying about how the cat is doing back home, sleeping in a strange bed, constant time zone changes, constant commercials for spa services and consumer goods, clueless people in the buffet lines, loud music piped into every public space, toxic individuals at dinner, the mild vertigo I get from the rocking of the ship, getting there and getting home again.

Anyway, I took a few photos, some of which follow.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Month Off

I see that I have not posted for an entire month.  In fact, while I have not been doing any painting for portrait work, just some sketching, I have been busy with other pursuits.

At the beginning of the month we spent a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We've traveled there several times, because we crave sunshine during gloomy January, and for the whales in Banderas Bay,  for the interesting art galleries and for the food. It is also fine to be able to walk outside without bundling up for the cold or worrying about slipping on ice. 

This time we made it a priority to try new places to eat, a little off the beaten path.  I found myself falling in love with all sorts of tacos, pork carnitas, fish, barbeque shrimp.  All were delicious.

We've been back for a while now , and the sun already feels like it was long ago.  I've been busy with mundane things since we returned - replacing my nearly dead iMac and printer, figuring out how to use the new equipment, and purging parts of my wardrobe that no longer fit or are useful. 

What follows is a handful of photos from the trip to Mexico.  Maybe I can figure out a way to incorporate some of them into paintings.