sam's temple series

Thursday, December 11, 2014

humming and buzzing house

There are the staple Christmas activities that fuel this season. We made our first batch of holiday cookies yesterday. The boys are of an age where this is really entirely their project. I was very hands-off as they cut out their gingerbread men, trees, stars, hearts, and mittens. The icing was still a wonderful mess, but this year I am so grateful for the attitude I adopted of not minding the mess in the least. I only helped once! And the cookies turned out just as they should, completely covered in candy and dripping off the sides with icing. The boys were very focused, and it was good for them to just dive into the process. Taking that approach of simply not worrying is so awesome! I suggest everyone give it a try. The clean up is the same either way, so why not take the stress out of the whole experience and just do it all at the end...

Having some snow flurries and ushering in these recent colder days has us casting our thoughts to Christmas. The memories I keep of my childhood Christmases are so dear to me, and I really hope that our boys will be able to keep Christmas alive in their hearts through the years, too. I think it's the traditions and the joy and anticipation that is felt this time of year that creates such closeness for families, a bond that lasts all through the years. I hope they will hold onto that and that we, their parents, can help to create it a little each day. The magic and the essence of the season.

I've also been busy in the making department. Mittens are halfway finished for Sam, since we seem to have lost the ones from last year. Sadly, a few precious handknits haven't made it to this year. I've lost two of my favorite mittens, two!! Where is that black hole of lost items?? Wish I knew! The holiday season also brings on more painting sales and interest, so that has me busy keeping up. There are packages to put together and to ship (my least favorite part of the entire business side of things), and there are always more paintings to be painted. So, in the midst of the list of gifts to make, the paintings to paint and ship, the holiday traditions to keep up with, boys running around like pirates all day and the reading, writing, math (and math bowling!), and studies to keep up with in our homeschool, we have ourselves a humming, busy house these days. 

Oh, and did I mention that we are in the process of taking down a wall? This week? We are bonkers, but it seems we are happy, so I suppose being a bit bonkers is okay sometimes, wouldn't you say?

be still (study), oil, 6.5 x 6.5

golden fields, oil, 5 x 5

Saturday, December 6, 2014

learning on the job

 on the mount, oil, 18 x 24
not for sale

There are some things in life that get me motivated. When someone new comes to visit our home for the first time I'm always amazed at what I accomplish in preparation. Things get cleaned that have never been cleaned before. Projects get completed. It's great motivation to have a deadline. Besides that, I think I actually work pretty well under pressure. By that I mean that I have the handy ability to move very fast.

Well, art sometimes falls into this category of needing some motivation to get things done. When I paint just to fill my shop with new work I can sometimes find myself in a rut. It's really helpful to have an art show to prepare for, or to receive feedback from a gallery owner. I can remember very specific instances when something about my art moved or changed based on a show I was preparing for or what a gallery owner had to say. I don't always move my art just because of someone else's opinion, but there are many times when it is so helpful to hear someone else's perspective. Often the change doesn't even come in the form of a style or technique shift, rather it appears more on the business side of things. For instance, the learning curve involved in preparing a piece to be shown in a gallery, which involves framing, hanging, shipping sometimes, pricing, etc... I've learned that I need to give myself twice as long to accomplish these tasks than I initially think. And, I need to pay close attention to detail and quality when doing those tasks, as well.

Right now I am painting to prepare for an art show that I really would love to see my work accepted for. I won't share just yet which show it is for. I want to see if I can get my act together enough to have a few larger pieces ready to enter by the deadline. This one above and below is one I may be submitting, but I'll have to wait and see if it makes the cut... When I feel I have something to submit I'll share more. In the meantime I'll keep at some smaller pieces to have some new work available to you all. 

in a garden - study, oils, 5 x 7

Thursday, December 4, 2014

holiday art sale

I'm not going to lie here and say that I have been crafting a master plan of some sort for selling art during the holidays. I don't typically offer sales of any kind, and especially at the holidays sometimes I dread too many sales. Simply because all that packaging and shipping wears me pretty thin. I'm hoping to keep the stress at a minimum this year, so I'll be recruiting the boys and making it a team effort to get paintings out this month!

All that being said, I welcome any and all who are interested in my work! I find such satisfaction in knowing you all visit my work often. As you are considering art this holiday season I hope you will consider my work!

So, to browse what's available and what's coming available soon, please stop by my shop.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

oh the things that hands can do

I spend as much time acquiring things as the next person. But I find so much more satisfaction in creating, making, dreaming, and producing... Granted, most of the items produced from our little home corner of the world end up in our own home for our own use, but I find all our handmade items to be infinitely more enjoyable and satisfying to own than anything we buy in the store. First of all, they take much more time to dream up, formulate, plan, implement, and simply to make. And second of all, they make me happy to look at, to touch, and to use!

I remember just four years ago, I thought I would never knit a scarf, let alone a whole sweater. I had vaguely heard of people knitting sweaters, but I erroneously thought those people were Aunties and Grandmas with tacky notions of what looks good, thrusting their interesting creations onto unsuspecting and wholly ungrateful relatives. And it also seemed like way too much work. I didn't even think those Aunties and Grandmas were really real outside of movies and stories. Then the bug bit me. I got it into my head that I wanted to make Sam a sweater. I crocheted a sweater, which went really quickly. I thought, "Hey that wasn't so bad. I bet I could knit one..." I shortly discovered a whole secret world of knitters. Stacks of library books began adorning our living room floor. I learned the knit stitch from a friend and a new passion was born in my soul. A whole new skill was adopted, just to create a small boxy sweater. I still have it, and it's adorable! I have to say that the learning curve with knitting is steep. There were many evenings spent in grand frustration, with Peter wondering what in the world I was getting myself into. He went cross-eyed when I learned to use double pointed needles. Ha!

Now, about 20 sweaters later, some for the boys, many for me, many for family and friends (mostly for children), and one for Peter, I am continuing to learn! I have done color work before, but nothing quite like this sweater. It's coming along, but we'll see how it all turns out in the end. I'm not a pattern follower, so my sweaters can be hit or miss. I'm hoping this one is a hit, because I really want to love it to death. If you are not a knitter then you won't understand the cold sweats I'm breaking out in thinking about the next step in this project, which involves steeking, cutting, and creating a cardigan out of this beautiful, stay tuned...

On rainy days like today, when the day turns into night before even 4 o'clock, I try to remember that the two little ones here need some extra light, brightness, and energy. I can be such a home body sometimes, enveloped in a cocoon of projects, textiles, paint, and absorbed focus. I remember days before children when I would forget to eat. When I would stand up after hours of leaning over a project, realizing that I was frozen in a stooped position.... Now I am not permitted such forgetfulness or release. I am brought back to reality every five minutes or so. It's a reality I've always wanted, so I don't mind. But I am a person who relies heavily on time inside my head to help me see clearly, to give me a chance to breathe deeply.

So I seek the time, and I rarely find it. As such, I exist in snippets sometimes, moving jauntily from one thing to another. Sometimes I find I'm wandering the house, grazing from one thing to the next. I feel a little like I'm starving because I never get to feast... Perhaps I need to find another way to get my spiritual meals, to drink deeply from the fountain of life I have before me every day. I think I need the light. When is spring coming back? I know, after the long winter. So, I'll try to fortify all of us against the dark days. I'll try to remember that we need the air, the wind, the cold, the snow, the coats, the mittens, the hats, the laughter, the play. With Christmas just around the corner I want to find the merry. It's evading me just a little, but I won't give up grasping for it. I trust my family. I trust my friends. But mostly I trust my God. I believe He will fight for me and with me against the dark winter. He will bring Light this Christmas. Perhaps I will find a way to paint that Light into some of my work, too...if I'm blessed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

keep the lights on

For the last couple of years we have been adding to our little handmade wooden Christmas village. Over time I've collected a few sweet little wooden houses and a couple of bigger churches. I paint them bright colors, and the churches are white. Then, to get the wintry mood I give everything a nice coating of fresh snow. With holes drilled into the back they are ready to be illuminated, and it's one of our favorite things in the evening to turn off all the lights and sit in the glow of the village and our Christmas tree, feeling watched over and warm in our home... Even our nativity baby Jesus is being watched over by those who love Him dear...

This year we decorated the day before we left to head down to Maryland for Thanksgiving. Usually we hold off until after Thanksgiving, but I had a couple of very eager boys, so the boxes came up form storage, and one by one our decorations took their place in our home. We really don't have a lot of decorations, but the things we have really bring me so much joy at this time of year! They help me to stay in the festive mood through the coming weeks, anticipating the traditions and the looks of joy on my boys' faces! 

Upon arriving home from our stay in Maryland visiting my family we got to organizing a bit. With all the festive clutter I often feel the need to purge a bit, so we whisked through each room with a bag to fill. Those things that really don't make life better get tossed in, and we're left with the things we really want and need. We do that often enough that I never have too much to put in those bags at any given time. In our shifting and organizing I came across our old wooden book bin. It was painted a bright yellow ages ago and we had ceased using it to hold books a couple of years back. I found it buried beneath a bunch of dress up clothes as it was being used to hold dress up accessories... I brought it out, dusted it off, and got to painting. It got a fresh coat of white and then some red patterning. I'm so smitten by Scandinavian folk art, so Sam helped me to paint on some designs reminiscent of that. We'll use it to store some of our seasonal books from the house. It's always nice to put books out that are applicable to the time and season we are in. The boys have been pulling from it daily to find new and old Christmas books.

We are swinging into our holiday craft mode that comes over us, too. The boys were busy last week working on some marble painting. We're using their finished paintings to cut up and paste onto cards to make some Christmas and Thanksgiving notes to send out to family and friends. I am hoping we can keep the pace a little, but I'm also feeling the need to slow down a bit this year. I have a short list this year when it comes to what I'll be making for Christmas. My plan is to finish Benny's quilt, make a couple pairs of pajama pants for the boys, perhaps a tie or two for them, make them each a bean bag chair, and really that's about it! I'm sure I'll convince myself that some other items are in order, but I'm hoping to keep my distractions to a minimum this year. Truth be told, I just feel a bit tired and I really want to sit with my knitting and watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate and then take a long winter's nap. But, the month of December is also for children, so I want to keep the lights on so-to-speak. I want to create memories with them! So, I'll muster up the courage and the energy somehow!

With all that being said, I am also keeping my shop open all month, through the holidays. I didn't hold any sales on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but am planning to have a Christmas sale beginning on Thursday and going until Christmas. I will be shipping up until the 20th, but if you are wanting something to arrive before Christmas please order by the 12th at the latest! I'll make an announcement in my shop and also on facebook letting you know about the sale!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


brenton point (newport), oil, 4 x 4

Recently I was asked by someone about my little paintings. Ever since the beginning of painting for know, way back when...I have loved the idea of small paintings. I think there is something from my childhood that brings this on. I remember seeing small paintings in museums, and feeling like they were little passageways into secret worlds, known only to the artist and the viewer, like somehow I could slip inside. When I first discovered these small panels I started a bit of a relationship with them. I take time to sand each one, gesso them with several layers. Then, I put down a thin wash as a base coat to cover over the white background. This all takes some time, but I am enamored with the end result. They do end up looking just like framed in windows.

I come back time and time again to this small size. These paintings happen quickly, almost effortlessly. Each brushstroke is put down with just the color intended. For all the laborious decision making that goes into larger pieces, all the second, third or even fourth iterations of the larger paintings, these small paintings are simple impressions that flow from heart, to fingers, to brush, to panel... There is no drawing board or meticulous drafting or considerations. It's just simple blocks of color, the mere suggestion of the landscape. I love them. And that sounds a bit narcissistic, but I just can't help it.

So, as I work on larger pieces I find myself coming back to these small paintings, doing one or two in the times when I need to take a break, when I need some instant gratification. I love to paint wet on wet, so small is the perfect antidote to the stall that can sometimes come over me when working on larger paintings. When they are finished they feel like little gems, little treasures. A collection of several hung together is like a smattering of windows, each one peering into a different world... 

All the pieces in this post are available now in my shop, if you care to have a little gander...

our dunes that day, oil, 5 x 5

be back tomorrow, oil, 5 x 5

bodega bay, oil, 3 x 5

hills at bodega bay, oil, 5 x 5

the marsh in autumn, oil, 4 x 4

plowed field, oil, 4 x 4

through the valley, oil, 4 x 4

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

bodega bay

to sea, oil, 5 x 5

Last summer, in July, we traveled across the country to California for a family reunion with Peter's family. It was an adventure, and so much fun. On one of our days out as an entourage of vehicles and people, we made our way out to Bodega Bay. What a scenic, splendid drive it is as you get ever closer to the coast. The mist begins to pick up, the hills are rolling like ocean waves all around, the sky is practically falling. And then, the water comes into view. We drove a little ways down, catching the views of rocks jutting up through the waves, the fog settling in the coves, and the hills rising up to our side and away from the sea. The fine balance between taking pictures with a camera and taking pictures with my mind took place. I captured enough pictures to jog my memory later for all the paintings I could see around me! It wasn't until recently that I pulled those photos out to see what I had. I'm so glad that I did. I've been met with inspiration and have been putting down in paint what I feel from those photographs and from my memories. 

I was in Bodega Bay another time, years ago, with my own father and grandfather. Peter was there, too. We met up with grandpa on a family visit. He wanted to take us to Bodega Bay, a place he'd always loved since my grandma passed away and made him miss it... We walked around the little town there. I bought a book in the used book store, Charlotte's Web, maybe someday I would read it to our future children. We got lunch at a little place by the water. I remember grandpa telling us a story about how he was there during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how he knew what was happening while everyone in the country was sleeping... We smiled at each other, wondering how much of the story was real, perhaps the whole thing? I remember the seagulls, landing on the wooden railings of the restaurant, watching us eat. It's a wonderful memory. So, Bodega Bay has been passed on to me by my grandma, my grandpa, my father, and now Peter's family. I have a feeling it's a place I'll see again. And I'll re-create it here as long as I can...

bodega bay, oil, 3 x 5

hills at bodega bay, oil, 5 x 5

north coast, oil, 11 x 14

sheeps at bodega bay, oil, 8 x 8

Saturday, November 8, 2014

there is beauty all around

There is a place deep in my mind where I like to go, where I am always creating art. There are these days when everything comes together into perfect harmony and we all live in a charmed world together, even just for a few precious moments. The picture above was one of those days. We all painted and stretched ourselves a little.

I've been putting myself through some new drawing exercises each day. As Sam does his school work each day, I sneak minutes here and there to draw in my sketch book. I've been feeling for a long time that I need to push myself in a new direction with my art. Recently a friend encouraged me to pick up my drawing pencils again, and it's been so great! It can only help me in my painting anyway. I need to remember to allow other mediums to bleed over into my painting from time to time, allowing me to approach my art from a different angle. I've looked back over some of my past work lately, and I'm always surprised when I do that because I see elements that I included in some pieces that have all but vanished in my recent work. I would like to bring some of those things back, and add still other elements that I've neglected in my work.

If I'm completely honest I think I tend to distrust my own artistic talents. I feel I've been given a great desire to do art, but perhaps I lack some of the skill. So, instead of wallowing in that or avoiding certain elements in my art, I am starting this new course of study with my drawing. I am hoping it will be reflected in my paintings over time!

With the cool days of Autumn hanging on before the really cold weather sets in we've been been enjoying exploring all over lately. We've been snake catching on Mount Hope, raking leaves, tromping through the woods across the street from our home, tree climbing in Roger Williams Park, and expanding our ever increasing nature collection. We found a fragment from a beehive on our hike yesterday. It's a little piece of magic to me! The boys are putting a lot of this energy and creativity they see in the world down in their own sketch books. It seems that they love to imitate what they see... And, some of the organic visions I've encountered are making their way into my art, too...

hanging on, oil on wood, 3 x 5

Friday, October 31, 2014

my little artist

Sam has been interested in painting lately. He is determined to pursue his art "career" and has been working on some paintings. The other day he wandered around the house, looking for a painting of mine to copy. He chose one I have done of the LDS Logan Temple, which now hangs in our living room. He sat in front of it for close to 20 minutes with charcoal in hand, copying the painting. But I was pleasantly surprised to see him change his own sketch to include a little house with a red roof beside the temple. That doesn't appear in my version. It's so fun to see how a child views the world, and to see his method of creating. He is a true artist with his own mind and hands and talents. I am excited to see what he comes up with next. We've talked about doing a series of these small temple paintings. I will try to list them here as he completes them, and perhaps when they are completed I will present them as an entire set...I think we will try for 20 paintings.

He is willing to sell his paintings to a good home:) Just let me know!

Monday, October 20, 2014

a new reach

On Saturday I delivered three of my paintings to a show near Boston. It's the first art show I've done in close to three years. I sometimes wonder about calling myself an artist. I don't work like most artists who are working themselves thin trying to make a living. If I'm honest then I have to admit that painting is a luxury for me. Because of that I have a sneaky suspicion that I don't stretch myself as much as many of my artist friends do. I paint what I like, and I don't have to worry much about what my collectors are wanting or what potential new collectors are going to like... When I get in a room with a bunch of other artists I begin to feel nervous. I don't have the same language that they do. Most of them also studied art in college or even have an MFA. Then, they ask where I studied art. my living room?? That's the honest answer, but I can't tell if it's met with derision or if there is any real respect for a self taught artist like myself. Either way, I'm learning slowly that I just need to be honest with myself and with others. And I'm learning that it's time for another stretch, a new reach in my art.

I'm a landscape artist. There is a sort of category I suppose I belong to. At least it feels that way. I think I always wanted to be a landscape artist. It felt safe. It still does, even on the days when I am afraid that I forgot how to paint. However, as my art and style has evolved over the years I continue to move in new and different directions within the landscape genre. I don't know where I'm going next (as much as I wish I knew!), but I am determined that my art doesn't become stale. I have new horizons to pursue. A lot of my art seems to be telling that story, even in the composition. There are lots of paths and distant destinations in my I'm somehow at the edge of each field moving forward toward the horizon. I'm in pursuit of something that evades me, but I can sense it there.

So, I am beginning a new project, focused on images of the Holy Land, that I hope will open new doors for me as an artist. I'll post new pieces here as I complete them. If they make their way to my Etsy shop then I'll post links here, as well.

As I left the art show on Saturday, I left empty handed as I saw each of my three pieces leave in the hands of new collectors! When I realized I'd sold all three pieces my eyes welled up with tears for a moment and I called out in my soul, "Thank You!!" It was an overwhelming moment to know that even after three years I can still sell a painting, or three, on opening night! My Lord has given me a gift and a love for painting. I hope I use it well!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Painting is medicine. It is my spoonful of sugar, my slow breathing, my deliberate time, my meditation. This is true not only with painting for me, but with all of my creative processes. I lose track of time, I lose myself a little.

It feels so good.

When I finally come up for air, I check the time, I look around, and my eyes are fresh. I feel a bit more whole, more pieced together. Lately I've felt that I'm fraying a bit around the edges, just trying to stay on top of all the many mountains in my life. There is the homeschool mountain, which is really my favorite kind of hike these days. It's so full of adventure, and I am learning so much, not only about subjects we are diving into, but about my two beautiful boys. It's really a family affair, and it's been so rewarding I almost can't describe it.

Then there is the mountain of self accomplishment. I tend to measure myself against the rod of accomplishment, feeling the constant urge to do do do. This is fine with me. I feel good when I get things done, but mostly I enjoy doing those creative things that are always floating around in my head. The dishes can wait, the laundry can definitely wait, but building a bench or knitting a sweater, or working on a painting, those things are my butter. They help me sleep at night. Interesting.

However, as I said earlier, sometimes that mountain becomes too steep to climb. My expectations are sometime ridiculous! And, I can often feel those expectations bleeding over into what I want for my children... I sometimes have to take a step back, look at what I'm doing, let myself slow down and work on my relationships. I lose track of what's most important because I get stuck inside my head. I have to wake up, open my eyes, stretch slowly, and reach out to those around me. So, I pick one mountain at a time, and plug away. Then, I feel like I can see again, from up high, so I know which mountain to climb next. This slower pace in life is so healthy for me! It helps me relish more in my family and keep a better perspective on what matters most to me at the end of the day!

I hope I can keep at it. I've been doing less painting, but when I get on a painting spurt I am extremely productive. Here are a few pieces I've recently added to my shop. Come see what's new and how my art is changing and hopefully improving each day!

my etsy shop.