Chicago Botanic Garden Irises

CBG Irises.jpg

Here is a happy splash of color to celebrate spring. I’ve been wanting to push myself past a merely narrative style with my work, and make it more playful. Also, I have been inspired by the wonderful photographs you all share. I’ve been struck by color combinations that I wanted to try out. For this one, I wanted to let blue green and yellow green play together, as well as pushing in the direction of abstraction.

Snowmelt Starting

Snowmelt Starting

It seems a painter is always a bit behind the times, and here I am presenting a scene of melting snow when the daffodils are already blooming. This was about a month ago~I was driving home in the early evening and glanced over to see clouds lit up, backlighting this wonderful oak and a rivulet of melting snow. I didn’t have my camera ready because I was driving but I grabbed an old receipt and a pen and did a quick sketch while waiting for the light to turn.

I continue to be disappointed by digital imaging. I have spent weeks building subtle layers of color in the snow, only to have the digital camera apply Occam’s Razor. Hm. At any rate, Happy April!

A Line of Music With Hepatica

Joyce's Hepatica

In the early woods, at the foot of oaks, sometimes you will come across Hepatica emerging from the muddy, leafy floor. I am always delighted by the clear, clean colors of the petals, and the leaves are so cool. They are a favorite of a dear friend of mine. She is the steward of a wonderful site here in Lake County. She is also an organist, loves Bach, and bur oaks. I wanted to combine these elements into a painting for her. I started by varnishing a sheet of music right onto the canvas. As I added layers of paint I was sure to leave areas where the notes shone through, wanting the music to dance through the painting just as Bach would carry a theme through his compositions.

Light Catcher

appletreespiderwebIn the back corner of my garden there lives an old apple tree. There isn’t much left of it and a wet snow this winter took down another big section of it. Still, I love that tree and enjoy the woodpeckers  who like to visit it now.  One afternoon last summer I came across this huge web~it had been spun right in the circle created by a hanging branch, and the slanting sunlight had picked out its delicate strands. I really liked how it lit up that dark corner!

Last week was pretty eventful… I found a wee gallery right in the middle of Main Street to rent. Wow! So there has been lots of running around~bank, State Revenue office for a tax ID number, business license, etc etc. Hopefully this week will be the fun stuff~moving in and making it mine:) It has been a dream of mine for a very long time. To have a place where I can talk to people one on one and they can get to know me and my work. I expect it will be a place of poetry reading (not mine) and who knows, maybe I can get a paint club going. Wouldn’t that be fun? I’ll keep you updated. Can’t wait to order my signs and put them up.


Polka-dot Retake


Hello again:)

I want to thank all of you for your generous comments and for your feedback. Taking out the egret in the water seemed like a very good idea~what do you think?  The scale would be wrong to add smaller birds, I’m afraid. You can really tell the difference a day makes to the grass, too. Today it is snowing, and the light is more dim.

I learn so much from you. How happy I am to have found such wonderful friends in blogland!

Peace and snowflakes to you….unless you live in Texas, in which case, may the frostweed be frosty:)




Polka-Dot Meadow

Polka-dot Meadow

This is a work in progress, but I wanted to share it with you. I rather like the polka-dot flowers against the bands of color in the foreground but am not sure about the egrets. The one in the water I painted out, then sort of put back in. Anyhow, it is that sort of day.

Recently I saw a bumper-sticker that I liked. It read, “I would rather be here right now.” I love that, because it seems to me a lot of the problems in our world stem from people wishing they were somewhere else and so neglecting the place where they are. The ecosystem, the community. Of course as I type this, the wind outside is howling, it is bitterly cold, and there is a bunch of snow on top of ice and I dearly wish I lived somewhere else. Like I said, it is that kind of day. Anyhow, this is where I am right now so I’ll do my best to embrace it.



November Shimmer

November Shimmer

November Shimmer

The air was still, the light was soft and diffuse, the trail beckoned. I haven’t always been a fan of fall but Illinois does it really really well. The ticks and mosquitoes have gone away, mercifully, and the temperatures have moderated. There is a lovely lavender cast to the sky which makes the fall foliage pop.

In this particular woodland there are some hills to climb which I appreciate, both for the exercise and for the vistas. I’ll be bringing you more, soon, I hope. These sisters are maple saplings. I’m a little ambivalent about maples, to be honest. They would love to replace our oak-hickory forests, which are maybe not as pretty but which provide valuable food and shelter for a great number of creatures. In my mind, maples belong along the Eastern corridor. But one thing nature has tried to teach me is that life is all about change. So, I look for the meaning in these shifting forests.  There is a question many don’t want to consider…maybe the ecosystems we work so hard to protect were not meant to be held in amber.  Over the course of nearly 3 decades I’ve participated in restoration work, mostly as a volunteer. As the years passed I noticed that the list of invasives grows every year, land managers grow ever more stressed out, and herbicide use has increased tremendously. I’ve never been a fan of using chemicals on the land, but I was told that it was the only way to control invasive trees and garden escapees that are overrunning our natural areas. I went along with this, reluctantly, for awhile. Until I began to notice that it doesn’t even work. So I’ve been asking the question~what if we don’t do that anymore?  Yes, I suppose some species will be lost but maybe they won’t. Or maybe a new balance will establish itself, if we stop getting in there and trying to control it.

I dunno. I’d love to see some studies on it. I am starting to see some books appear on the library shelves, other people asking the same question. What a relief it would be if our preserves could go back to being a place to relax and stop being battlegrounds. Who knows, maybe other aspects of life on this planet would also find a natural balance if we would all stop trying to control everything. Isn’t that what religious extremism of all stripes is, the desire to tell the other guy how to behave?

Of course, my mind immediately tosses up “yeah, buts” at me. What about the stand of trees I saw this week with a dense carpet of reed canary grass growing under the trees, choking out all else? I don’t know. I do know that throwing chemicals and either/or mentality at it hasn’t worked. What do you think? Does anybody have any experience in this idea of helping new species live in harmony with existing ecosystems?