sam's temple series

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.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the many greens of spring

We have had our first strawberries, our first radishes, and are almost ready for an early crop of lettuce and spinach now. It's been an abundant spring so far. Our patchy grass is finally filling in with the overseeding and hand-weeding I've been doing. Seriously, I have the blisters and the buckets of dandelions to prove it! A kind neighbor woman who walks her dogs sees me out there with the boys every day. She must think I'm crazy to try to eradicate my weeds from my lawn by hand. Seriously, who does that??

I have had visions for this yard lately. There is a fledgling hedge of lavender (8 plants) along with 3 salvia plants. The sloping hills on either side of our yard have been weeded a bit more, with several large and overgrown plants being taken out. I am planning on hydrangeas along both hills, a nice wall of hydrangeas. How dramatic! How expensive! I'm starting with small plants and will exercise patience as we watch them grow. In the back yard slope I put in three rows of steps. We started a huge strawberry patch last summer, and have added to it this year. They are all along the back yard slope, so I put in the steps to make it easier for us to get to the crop when it really comes on. Also, it gives the boys a place to play that keeps them from trampling...which they tend to do on that hill...

I've transplanted some of the abundance of day lilies around the hickory in the front yard. There was already a little patch of lilies there, but I continued them all the way around the base of the trunk. 

I don't have pictures yet, but we have dug out the back patio area in preparation for laying gravel, sand, and pavers for a new patio area. I'm really excited about that, but know it's still a couple of weeks away. Peter has taken yet more trips to gather up free "craigslist" rocks to build our rock wall in the front yard. I'm really excited about this! I hope we can get some friends together on a Saturday to get it built! It's going to be so much work, but I'm really excited to do it!

Anyway, that's the update. Right now Benny and I are off to pick up Sam from school...just one month left and he will be an official kindergarten graduate. What a year!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Every day there are a few more hours to bask in the warming sun, a few more crocuses to discover in the lawn, a few more parts of the yard to clear and make way for new plantings, a few more moments spent stretched out on a blanket, and a few more buds beginning to open on the trees. I've spotted a magnolia tree in bloom, and our red maple out back is beginning to get fuzzy with unfurling leaves. All the daffodils are more or less in bloom, the day lilies are poking out of the ground, the ivy is starting to pop up on the slopes, making the attempt to take over again this year, and I'm enjoying the few pansies I've popped into window boxes and planters in random locations by the greet us as we come and go.

This is our second spring in this house, and we have finished so many projects to this point. Last spring and summer were filled with daily work on the yard. We planted a garden, chopped down three trees to make way for the sun, removed old worn out flower/plant beds that took up most of the backyard, removed a hedge of overgrown bushes along the driveway, removed old rotted fence sections, re-seeded quite a lot of the yard that we reclaimed, planted a whole slope of strawberries along one side of the backyard, started our compost pile, relocated our raspberry plants, and filled in an old cesspool cavern in the backyard...

This year will be no different. We have dug trenches and buried pipe for the water from our downspouts, expanded the garden a bit, removed the front cement walkway and step, removed the old back patio and step, back filled the front and back entryways and planted grass, planted blueberry bushes along the back of the garden, and planted some new hydrangeas. On the docket for the rest of the season is to bring in some more earth for the back slope, plant two fruit trees (most likely apple), plant a hedge of forsythia and lilac bushes along the back yard fence line, build a large sandbox for the boys, get grass growing nicely, lay a new back patio with pavers in a herringbone pattern, place a large natural stone step for the front entryway, and build our rock wall in the front of the house. Exciting times ahead! For the garden I still have potatoes to get in, and the warmer weather veggies are doing well inside for now... The peas, lettuce, radishes, spinach and broccoli are up out in the garden, and the onion sets are beginning to show green! We've been having the most delightful weather!

That's a thing about spring here that I absolutely love, the way it takes its time and does the job right...

I have also been painting in my studio. I found two of these old frames with built in mdf panels in the center. I knew they would make beautiful frames for some landscape paintings, so I bought up three of them. I've painted two so far, and will most likely prep the third to paint, as well. This weather and sun has inspired a whole new me! Paintings, hand sewn ties for Easter, and way too much time spent in the garden talking to plants! For now though, I'm needed to feed the youngest voracious eater around here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

works in progress

I love to build things. I love to use power tools and I build all kinds of different furniture pieces for our home. My first major project from three years ago is still in use as our television armoire. It's a small cabinet that stands almost 5 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. I built it almost entirely out of old reclaimed wood that I picked up off the side of the road. My oldest son used to inform me when we passed junk on the side of the road, just in case I wanted to stop and check it out for hidden treasures! I still build a lot from old wood, and I even plan projects that I need to use new wood for. I'm moving ever upward and onward! I recently built these two wood panels, 12 x 12 inches. Their faces are built from 1/4 inch furniture grade plywood. Then, on the back there is a frame made from 1 x 2 lumber. This creates a raised panel with a 1" profile. They turned out nice, and were cheaper to build myself than to buy. I enjoy painting on wood, so this is a good plan for me, minus the time it takes for me to build them...

So, these two panels got a few layers of acrylic gesso followed by a thin wash of color. I usually mix up a bit of titanium white, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, and a touch of cobalt blue pure. Then, I thin it with some gamsol (mineral spirits) and slather a layer over the entire surface. Once that has dried I get to work with drawing. My drawings are very simple, done in charcoal initially, and then with a thinned out mixture of cobalt blue pure and burnt umber and maybe some white. Then, the colors begin to go down. I often start with the sky, either because it makes sense or, more likely, because it's my favorite part of every painting to work on. As these are completed I'll post them here and in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

what i'm painting around here

I can be found with a paint brush in hand just about everyday. Some days it's a fine pointed paint brush for details in my paintings, but quite often these days it's a paintbrush that will help me with cutting in along ceilings and window trim... When we bought our awesome little fixer upper almost a year ago we knew there were lots of things to be done. Wallpaper to remove from almost every room, done. Painting every square inch of this house, done. Sanding down and oiling our wood floors, done. A garden plot to clear and some trees to remove to make room for the sun on those garden veggies, done and done. I've even painted my terrific 50's kitchen cabinets. They are in fabulous condition, even if they aren't the most efficient use of the tiny space... Initially we painted our living room a luscious golden yellow. At first I convinced myself I loooved it. Then, I quietly contemplated to myself that it wasn't so bad. Then I finally said it out loud, "This will be changed...soon." Yesterday I made good on that promise. We re-painted the walls a calm creamy white. It's like butter with a touch of gray. A shade I might consider for the outside of the house, which is in line for a paint job, too. And with a red roof we need to come up with something that doesn't scream at everyone from the side of the road!

Today I'm back at the easel. I've got 4 fresh panels ready for some landscapes.