Connecting With Nature, Connecting with Inner Spirit

River Meadow, IBSP

As I may have mentioned, recently I got to be part of a 3-artist show at the Lemon Street Gallery in Kenosha.  That was a delightful experience.  Here were all these walls to fill, and the other two artists were mostly doing jewelry and sculpture.  After I hung about 20 paintings and stood back, I was struck by the fact that there wasn’t an underlying theme.  Some botanicals, some landscapes, some gardenscapes.  Hmmm. And of course when people arrived, so did their questions.  They wanted, naturally enough, to know what it was I wanted to convey.  Well, I’ve been giving that some thought and here is what I’ve come up with.  I create art to help people connect with nature and with their inner spirit.  Now that I know that is what I’m about, I can look for ways to make that message clear in my paintings.  

So, here is my wish for peace and connectedness to all of you this steamy hot July afternoon!

Wren (detail)






Blazing Star River



I wasn’t sure I’d still be posting here… Over the past week I have tried several times to upload this image and it failed every time.  Life is funny that way, isn’t it?  Sometimes you have to try just once more, sometimes you need to let it go and move on to other endeavors.  

After all that, I find I don’t have that much on my mind!  Guess I’ll sit and enjoy the thunderstorm going on outside and anticipate seeing my button bush in bloom soon.



An Experiment

Evening Light                                                                                            


Over the years people have suggested to me that I’ve been holding myself back when I’m painting.  For a long time I was most interested in developing my skills in representing what I see out in nature so I can share it with people who don’t have the opportunity to get out there.  Lately, though, I’ve been wanting to let myself be untethered a bit more.  I remember one show I was in that featured acres of painters.  I walked on and on through all those tents and was alarmed to realize there was virtually nothing t0 set any of us apart from each other.  All of us possessed about the same amount of skill, and all of us were painting nature scenes that looked pretty much the same.  No wonder nobody was buying!

Also, I’ve been wanting to invite humans into my paintings, but in a general sort of way, not portraits.  So, here we have “Evening Light”.  It started out with drips and splashes and then got coaxed into a meaningful image.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  It sounds like it was fun to paint but actually I’m kind of a wreck.  It is surprising how hard it is to let go and try to reveal a vision.

Next scary thing~go out and face the mosquitoes and ticks to look for colic root.



Following a Dream


“Reflecting Coot”


This past weekend I had an artist reception at a nice little gallery in Kenosha called Lemon Street Gallery.  I am constantly amazed by the job the people who run this gallery have done, weaving it into the life of the town.  Even before 6pm people were streaming in, and we were packed until closing time. It was wonderful how friendly everyone was.  I have been to several such events, and never have I felt so welcome.  Conversations swirled around, people took their time looking at all the pieces and then stayed to talk~ it was fabulous.

Afterward, it was back into the studio with me to work on the next piece (this one).  How did it happen, that I get to do this?  I am so lucky.  Sometimes I get all worried about things like, oh, I don’t know, making a living.  Making enough.  Somehow though, it always turns out just fine.  I think following a dream is like that.  My part of it is to do the best work I know how to do, and stay tuned in to the Divine who guides my steps.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t dark scary nights when I’m filled with doubts and fear.  It is hard to wait for the next step to become clear.

I found myself thinking, “If I could just sell a painting, I would be so happy.”  And I did, and I was.  Until the thought, “It isn’t enough!  I need more sales!!!”  arrived.  And all of the joy from the reception started to evaporate until I caught myself doing that.  I realized that I could just decide, “I’m happy.  I’m already there.”  When I look around at my life, I am amazed.  I really am.  Who knows where my dream will take me next, but right now it has me surrounded by sketch books and easels, brushes and canvases, a garden and a camera~ suddenly I realize my life looks just like it did in my teen-aged daydreams!  Wow, pretty great.


I hope your dreams are coming true.





Do More Good


“Day Dream”


I am reading a book that is making me want to cheer and spit nails, by turns.  Have you ever read a book like that?  This one is entitled: “The Upcycle”, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.  What I want to do is get these guys in a room and challenge them over some of their statements, but that doesn’t seem feasible so I decided to share my thoughts here.

I love their basic premise.  They observe that the message we generally get these days is that humans are bad, and everything humans make is bad.  And our goal should be to be less bad.  I don’t know about you, but when I am always hearing how bad I am, I either feel like crawling under a table to hide or simply give up.  So, these two have turned this scolding on its head and said, “how about if we think about being more good?”  Yeah!  That is a good place to start.

However then they spoil the whole thing by saying how easily and joyfully the earth could support 10 billion humans or more, and start describing cycles in which we let a tree stand for hundreds of years and then make it into a table that lasts for several years and then turn it into particle board and then it is ok to burn it for fuel.  !!!!  Well, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to live in a world with 10 billion humans running around.  And how does the above “cycle” for a tree address today’s need for energy?  Burning is burning, and either way you are throwing carbon into the atmosphere.  My point is, they throw out these pie-in-the-sky ideas and conveniently ignore, you know, facts.  That really bugs me.  I haven’t finished the book yet… hopefully the authors will tie up all of these wildly waving loose ends.

Having said all that, I’m still excited about their basic idea, that we can be more good.  What if car parts were made of simpler plastics, so that when a part was damaged it could be popped off and easily replaced?  The damaged part could be sent back to the factory and melted down, to make a new part.  That could happen, but right now the plastics that are being made are complex blends of materials that cannot be separated.  The best that can currently be hoped for is a down-cycle, like a water bottle into a bench.  And what if we decided not to accept toxic chemicals in our manufacturing processes?  What if companies stated as a goal to replace all harmful materials with innocent ones?  Just stating it as an intention can move the company in the right direction.  And speaking of energy, why not challenge ourselves to see how efficient our solar panels and wind turbines can be?  How often I have been saddened to hear even dedicated environmentalist throw up their hands and say, “impossible”.  It isn’t impossible, though!  Think of early cars.  They were a far cry from what we have today.  But, people got excited about them and tackled the challenges of making them better.

What if, at the end of the day, the earth could be glad we were here?

A Beastie!


“Making Her Way”


When I was a kid my family lived on a small lake.  The station for the train that took my dad into Chicago for work was at the far corner of that little lake. He could walk the half mile down our road, or he could have me paddle him across in the canoe.  :)

He paid me a nominal amount, but by far the glee of our twice daily trips were the best wages I could have asked for.  He is the one who arranged for camping trips in the mountains, trips to Yellowstone, etc.  He sat on the end of the dock with me, regaling me with stories as our fishing poles lay forgotten beside us.  Back then, it seemed like every morning brought a new and exciting discovery.  The grass would swish, and there would be a SNAKE!  Gazing into the water I’d see schools of bullhead, or sunfish, or fat tadpoles.  Mid-summer would bring baby painted turtles perched on lily-pads~ it was paradise.  And so, over time, those canoe trips would become show-and-tell times.  All day I would be prowling the shoreline for new treasure to tell him about.

One afternoon I came across a turtle the likes of which I had never seen before.  It sat there hissing at me, with its hooked mouth agape.  Dragon spikes marched down it’s shell and tail.  Wow! Who knew things like this existed? Dad had to see this!  Cautiously I picked it up.  As alligator snapping turtles go, this wasn’t a huge one but still.  I got it into the canoe and paddled across, waiting for the train.  What I failed to realize was that summer was ending, and days were getting shorter.  So, by the time the train came and my dad climbed down the embankment and settled into the canoe, the light had quite faded.  Turtle forgotten, we swapped tales as is our wont.  After a bit, when we had fallen silent, there was a scratching sound on the bottom of the boat.  My dad, cautiously,”…..what is that?”  Me: “…..OH!  Well, there is this enormous turtle I found…”  Instantly we both had our feet up out of turtle range.  To this day we laugh about that turtle.

There is something so epic about these turtles that I’ve always wanted to paint one.  Isn’t she ancient and terrifying to look at?  And yet, can you see her vulnerability?  It is hard to know how to respond to nature, especially if it isn’t furry with big eyes.  I’ve seen kids take sticks to these creatures, and biologists dispatch them into jars of formaldehyde.  I think we are all searching for a way of knowing that we have forgotten.