Tuesday, November 23, 2021

memories of long summer days

 I’ve been distracted lately with grandchildren but recently finished this oil painting that I had started in August while enjoying long summer days on the beach in St Joseph Michigan. Long summer days seem so far away now! That’s one of the reasons to paint, keeping the memories alive.

Monday, November 22, 2021

the gift of dogs

Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
A pair of Cavalier King Spaniels. The darlings of the household of my sister and her good husband.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

good dogs go to heaven

 You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”― Robert Louis Stevenson

This is one of the best good dogs ever created by God. He is a German Short-haired Pointer, a fairly large dog with a gentle loving nature. He faithfully watches over his family of four children under the age of six. His latest challenge has been the arrival of twin babies. Yet he is as patient with them as any saint while they crawl and explore over and under him. 

I painted his portrait, 11x14 oil on canvas and gifted it to the oldest boy in the family. 

Friday, November 19, 2021

skies of blue and adventures in Wisconsin

“I see skies of blue and clouds of white.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
~ Louis Armstrong
Painting above is showing Madeline Island, part of the Apostle Islands. Lake Superior, Wisconsin.

My summer adventure saga continues with the Artists Retreat and Mentoring program that I attended in August led by Kami Mendlik.  Kami is a well known landscape artist from Minnesota and I have followed her art for many years. When I saw that she was offering a four day painting retreat this summer I signed up. It was quite an adventure to get there, an 8 hour drive from my home in West Chicago to the very upper edge of Wisconsin on Lake Superior. The retreat was held at the Wild Rice Retreat Center
A beautiful place, well designed and run by a staff with our artistic comfort in mind. The food was excellent too. I wasn't concerned about the comforts so much (although I was pleasantly surprised) what I really wanted was to paint. Non-stop painting with oils and soaking up all the information I could. Kami is a great teacher, very personal with her instruction and I came away with lots of good ideas and lessons on color management.
Here are some of the studies I did under her instruction on color relationships. It was difficult for me to do these studies and abstract the colors and shapes. I think I received more constructive criticism than I can remember since art school days. (Art Center College of Design, Pasadena California)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

fullness and richness of life and art

My posting of daily art and production as well have suffered lately because of late summer travels and a surgery on my knee. My knee is now healing and I am getting about a bit better but I did halt some of my time in the studio. I am really looking forward to getting outdoors and taking long walks again.

Recovering from the surgery, laid up with ice packs and painkillers on the living room couch, I was visited by a friend giving me the gift of a huge bouquet of magnificent dahlias from her garden. Could a friend bring me anything more valuable? I enjoyed contemplating the flowers and managed this contour line drawing. 
 "Many people seem to think that art is a luxury to be imported and tacked on to life. Art springs out of the very stuff that life is made of."

"Art must spring out of the fullness and the richness of life."

“Art is a matter of enjoyment through the five senses. Unless you can see the beauty all around you everywhere, and enjoy it, you can never comprehend art.”

all quotes from Willa Cather  (Willa Cather was an American writer known for her novels of life on the Great Plains, including O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia.)

When I was a teenager I discovered the writings of Willa Cather. I grew up in the Philippines, far from the Great Plains that Cather wrote about which fired my imagination with visions of far away worlds.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

a dog's gift

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”

― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs 

I spent a beautiful late summer weekend with dear friends living on a lake in Michigan. My friend has a sweetly loyal dog who will go out on a paddleboard with her. It is a memorable moment to see.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

food and cheer

These six small still life paintings of good ingredients for guacamole or salsa in a well made Mexican tradition are now displayed at one of my favorite restaurants. Dos Urban Cantina is located in  Chicago, Illinois and owned by a brilliant loving couple who are dear friends to my family.  The food at this restaurant is award winning and I highly recommend.


“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

I posted about this group of paintings here . It seemed most wonderful and appropriate that these should be displayed in a Mexican themed restaurant.

Monday, November 15, 2021

delightful summer

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

~L.M. Montgomery- ‘Anne’s House of Dreams’.

Friday, July 30, 2021

the ship of pearl

 "This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,—

...Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!"

The Chambered Nautilus

Thursday, July 29, 2021

chambered nautilus

I am posting this painting for sale on my facebook page today. Here is a link to the day that I originally posted about it here on my blog. And I painted the same shell twice. Here is the link to the first painting. At that time I didn't name the paintings, merely numbered them to go with my painting a day project.  These were numbers 11 and 12 and I was on a powerful roll with all that painting exercise!

I didn't realize that this shell is a chambered nautilus. I hadn't researched all my collection of shells from the Philippines, they are very precious to me for sentimental reasons. This one is fairly large, you can see it in the photo above in relation to the 8x10 framed painting. I bought it from a shop while on a trip home to the Philippines years ago.
I looked up some research about the Chambered Nautilus and came across two things that inspired me. One is this tempera painting by Andrew Wyeth titled "Chambered Nautilus" which at first glance shows a woman lying in a bed looking away, out a window. It is a profound and deeply moving piece of art which will stay with me a long time.    Andrew Wyeth’s “Chambered Nautilus.’’ ANDREW WYETH  

Here is a quote from a 2012 article in the Boston Globe. "You can see it in “Chambered Nautilus,’’ one of a handful of Wyeth’s exquisite, gritty tempera paintings in a penetrating show, “Andrew Wyeth: Looking Beyond,’’ now at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The painting, made in 1956, depicts his mother-in-law, Bess James, confined to her bed. She sits up, bony hands wrapped around raised knees, gazing out the window, which is a sheet of pallid light. A nautilus shell glistens on a dull wooden chest at the end of her bed. With extraordinary precision, Wyeth captures the smallness of Bess’s world, the contraction of her days. Her stringy, unwashed hair suggests the depredation of illness. The nautilus itself is a metaphor for life's containment. Yet it seems to shine with its own light, as if even the most ordinary of lives is imbued with dignity and beauty. You only have to look to find it."
I will never look at my shells with the same affection now, but with much deeper meaning. 
The second inspirational thing I came across is a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes titled "The Chambered Nautilus" which seems to describe much about the cycle of life and death that it is certain Andrew Wyeth is on familiar terms here. 
You know I love poetry and quotes to go with the art so I will save that for another post.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

a planet without flowers and painting number 27

"How extraordinary flowers are... People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us."
Iris Murdoch -  A Fairly Honourable Defeat, 1970.
Another small daily painting finished but with many interruptions and starts and stops. This falls into the things left undone category that I've been trying to accomplish. I finally finished it but have a lingering sense of unhappiness about it. That's the battle, get to work, do the best you can, pick yourself up and get back into the fray.
I like the pink background better than the rendering of the flowers, the tulips have a crazy red stripe pattern that is hard to "get" and I still don't feel like I've figured out how to capture the luminosity of flowers. These were picked in early spring in my own yard. So many flowers, so little time to paint them all!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

the masked shopper strikes again

I posted about this quest before.  Shopping, lurking in the produce section searching for the best subject to paint from life. I don't care about cooking, shopping is only an occasion to pick up objects and wonder how I would paint that. I brought all of this home yesterday when all I needed to get was a few limes. The limes were large and juicy which made me think, I should have painted a couple of still life studies of only limes, Because I love limes, green and tart and good in a glass of water or a gin and tonic. 

And that made me think, maybe I'll paint a series of salsa ingredients. I did the guacamole series. Here.

But maybe I should substitute out the painting of the red pepper and green onion for a lime or a couple of juicy limes paintings.

Yeah, that's it.

And then I'll do a series I will call my salsa series. Big fat tomatoes in season now! Another tomatillo or two. Poblano peppers, serrano, jalapeño, more onions and garlic too.

Grocery store, produce section, most inspirational place in town.

Monday, July 26, 2021


“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”⠀
~ Aristotle⠀
I finished or have almost finished another small painting, it is a companion piece to the snow scene I painted back in February. Here's the post I wrote that day.  (Not a snowflake escapes.)

And then in April I posted a new photo, (yesterday and today) so exciting to look at the same scene outside the same window and be delighted, to marvel at the springtime colors and light. I started another painting that week of the transformed and marvelous scene but didn't finish it until this week. So odd to be revisiting the glorious spring excitement on a hot July day, but that is how the year unfolds, time and time again. I began the painting from live observation looking out the same window but was interrupted at some point in the process so I took photos and had to finish a 3-D experience from 2-D reference.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

things left undone

Every Sunday, we do “prayers of the people” at church. We pray for our church, our community and the world. We pray for the sick, the lost and those in darkness.

The next thing we do is a prayer of confession. After a moment of silent confession, we say these words aloud…The Deacon or Celebrant then says Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Bishop when present, or the Priest, stands and says

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life.  Amen.

Things left undone weighs on me, so many things unsaid or not generously done. I always have to stop and give that part of my confession some thought.

But what I want to say in this, my art blog is that I have such a load of unfinished paintings!

I counted at least 20 small and large unfinished, undone parts of my life sitting on shelves and waiting for attention.  Maybe not as significant as my other sins which I do confess, but I can't feel at ease until I finish some of these unfinished canvases. So many of these I began in a rush of excitement from the direct observation of my thrilling subject but allowed distractions to intrude and ended up setting it all aside thinking I can finish later from a couple of photos. The prospect of getting back to it from a photo is never very exciting and I put it off. And then I start another unfinished piece!

I vowed to finish a few of these now in July while I have some time between summer adventures. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

are you still doing that artsy stuff?

Here is my snarky art facebook post today. Hoping for some reactions but seriously... if I post a photo of my twin grandchildren I will most definitely get all the likes, artwork? not so interesting.

Many have asked me "Are you still doing art?'.

Um, yeah like ask me if I still breath, or do I still eat chocolate, or do I still open my eyes every day. I don't intend to be silly, most people are being kind, friendly, and they mean well especially after I show them how many grandchildren God has blessed us to hold.
(on the left, myself, 10 grandchildren, and my husband after a beach vacation trip) (husband is asking me "when are we going to stop torturing these children?")

My favorite friendly query of all time is "Are you still doing that artsy fartsy stuff?".

Yes, is the answer and my shelves of small paintings are getting filled up so I would like to offer some for sale to my fbook f&f.
For the next few weeks I will display a painting every day with a price in the comments.

I think enjoying a piece of art is often enhanced by a backstory. Why did the artist make this? What was going on at that particular time? Was the artist listening to music that influenced ideas? Choices, decisions within the mind of the artist all make part of what you are looking at.  

Here is the first painting to post: Thanks for reading all this if you have been able to get this far!
It's a simple pot of tulips and little daffodils painted from life on a cold day in early winter. I bought the subject at the grocery store and set it in front of my studio window to study.
I have framed it in a minimal white wood frame. My preference. It is 8x10 oil paint on linen canvas. I'm only asking $140. with the frame and will ship it within the continental USA.
Backstory; if you want to read more.