Thursday, August 31, 2017

Small Wonders of the World

Such heart-lifting gifts in closing doors/painting negative space and opening windows/discovering surprises.

I am filled with the joy of the small wonders of the world that popped out of painting this piece.

The Fullness and Variety of All That Had Come Before
4x5"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and soluble pastels on paper,
mounted on manila stock

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guess What!

I like to paint.

And so I do.

I started today's piece at home earlier this month, took it to camp and played with it there, finished it back at home today on this exquisite late summer afternoon.

A Drink of Water from a Clear Spring
4x5"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and soluble pastels on paper,
mounted on manila stock

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Peace Like a River

OK. At camp, longtime friend Stu asked if I'd make some paper mobiles like ones I'd made about ten years ago, this time for a show he's putting together entitled PRAYERS FOR PEACE IN PRINT, PAPER, AND PAINT. I said I would, we selected prayers from a collection he'd brought to camp, and home I went.

Yesterday I realized the show opens on Tuesday 5 September and, presumably, needs to be hung before then. I'd need to complete the mobiles and get them in the mail to Vermont as soon as humanly possible.


Would my sister across town still have one of those mobiles sent as a birthday card a whole decade ago so I could use it as a prototype?

She would.

Without having to leave the house, would I be able to round up enough suitable paper to make five mobiles with 30 strips each?

I would.

Did I still have any of the spiral paper clips I purchased ten years ago to use as hangers and stabilizing weights, and would I be able to locate them?

I did, and I would.

Would I have enough white thread in my sewing machine?

I would.

Would I be able to choose peace instead of panic as my modus operandi for this project?


One of the prayers:

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you.
                         —adapted from ancient Gaelic runes

Prayers for Peace

2 TO 4 p.m.

West Village Meeting House
All Souls Church
29 South Street
West Brattleboro, VT 05301
802 254-9377

Monday, August 28, 2017

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday, Camp Takodah 2017

flames and song give birth
to time travel, here now? there
then? campfire circle

work in progress

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday, Camp Takodah 2017

little cabin in
the woods, mouse stops by, bat flies
through, gang's all here

work in progress

work in progress

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday, Camp Takodah 2017

sheet lightning, thunder
boomers, precipitation
clatter tap shingles

postcard #6
work in progress

Tuesday, Family Camp

yoga Mem Lodge porch
breezes voices littlest
of waves lap, lap—om

postcard #13
work in progress

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, Family Camp

makeshift studio
poor light awkward set-up heart
filled with gratitude

postcard #1
work in progress

postcard #10
work in progress

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hung Out to Dry

At home, after washing clothes I throw them into the drier.

But once a year, at camp, wet clothes—mostly bathing suits and towels—get hung by hand, on a length of rope, outdoors, using wooden clothespins, to dry, usually in shade. Those clotheslines outside each cabin are a favorite iconic element of Takodah scenery.

One of my strongest early sensory memories of camp—and not a favorite!—is of struggling to get a cold damp clammy bathing suit pulled up over my shivering resisting skin.

The towels on the line in my painting are torn bits of collage from a camp publication. At the moment, though still damp with matte medium, they're catching a warm August afternoon breeze.

postcard #9
work in progress

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Home Away

Cabin C will be home sweet home for a happy week starting August 20.


I'll have limited access to wifi and little inclination to avail myself of it.

But … painting at camp in my makeshift cobwebby studio space at the ill-lit back of the musty little Grube Library cabin, overlooking Cass Pond through the trees with morning sunlight filtering through, is so in-the-moment that I hate to think of waiting till after camp to post photos.

Can't tell ya whether I'll post or not.

6x6"; acrylic on gessobord

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rolling In

I selected one of the quadrants from my leaf pile of a few days ago and felt an autumn sky roll in over mountains when I mixed up some gesso with a hint of phthalo blue and used a sponge roller to play with negative shape painting.

postcard #5
work in progress

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Going Incognito

I cut into quadrants all four 8x10" starts painted over the past so many days, and I now have 16 postcard-sized laboratories at my disposal—little paper canvases on which to explore the painting of negative space.

Took the plunge today and started the inquiry.

The cover-up has begun. One postcard is already going incognito.

postcard #1
work in progress

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Happy Birth Day

Oh my gosh, can I tell you how happy I am when I play with paint and all the other magical stuff in my studio?

So happy!

Every day is the birth day—the happy birth day—of something new that never existed before.

Wasn't there …  is there!


Happy magic.

I especially enjoyed creating this card for the happy birthday of my friend Ruth.

Can you feel the celebration here for Ruth's spark, sparkle, integrity, energy, generosity, and vibrancy?

There Aren't Any Grown-Ups—Not One, in the Whole Wide World 3x3.75"; acrylic, ink, pencil, and pastels on paper, mounted on card stock abstract 2017 [gifted]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-sum-summertime

Last Thursday was a busy day—multiple pieces to juggle; much to manage; miles on the highway to navigate; an especially tight schedule between when I woke and when my first student knocked at the door.

But it's summertime summertime sum sum summertime ... summerti-i-i-i-ime!, and in the middle of a lively parade of morning minutes, I stepped right out of my busyness into summertime painting, into complete sensory presence.

I love painting in the summer.

The bare feet. The open windows. The soft air breathing on my skin. The trill of a songbird. The tink tink tink of a neighbor's hammer. The whisper of tearing collage pieces. The smooth flow of a brush as it transfers paint to paper. The gentle resistance of an oil pastel stick against surface tooth. The steady appearance of a black line as a grease pencil travels along a straight-edge. The timeless vacation that seamlessly incorporates itself into the fabric of an otherwise hup-to hubba-hubba morning.

Pure magic.

painting start #4,
second layer

Monday, August 14, 2017

Swimming, Swimming

Swimming, swimming
In the swimming hole
Some days are hot
Some days are cold
In the swimming hole …

In my early years at Takodah, swimming lessons for the youngest campers were first thing in the morning. The water was black, my lips were blue, the swimming instructor stood on the dock in her sweatshirt.

During my leader years, when I became a swimming instructor giving lessons all morning, the waterfront director mandated that instructors get in the water with their students. The water was black, my lips were blue, my towel was on the dock.

But now, as a more-than-grown-up family camper, I float in an inner tube on top of Cass Pond each afternoon in a circle with my best friends in the world. The inner tubes are black, the sky is vivid blue, our skin is warmed by bright summer sun—our hearts are full to overflowing.

Swimming, swimming

painting start #3,
second layer

Friday, August 11, 2017

Leaf Pile!

I have early, early memories of jumping in leaf piles raked up by Daddy in our back yard on Waverly Place in Cranford, NJ.

Crackles. Whispers. Earthy smells. Scratchinesses under my shirt down my back. Laughter. Squeals. Fresh air. Blue sky. Hard ground. Sisters' knees and elbows. Running. Jumping. Dry papery bits stuck to my lips, in my mouth. Browns. Reds. Translucent bright yellows.

painting start #2,
second layer

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Two sides of my persona duke it out these days in a little ongoing background tussle that erupts in various corners of my mind as I brush my teeth, drive to the Y, and dice zucchini from our garden.

The argument is about what limited means.

One side says, Here are the limits: 16 postcard starts, two brushes, black paint, white paint, and some scribbling tools. And maybe your Camp Takodah clipboard from 1969 for nostalgia's sake. Should fit in a cloth grocery bag with room for a beach towel and sunscreen.

The other side argues, Limits?What are you talking about? Creativity doesn't know boundaries from foundries. What if I want to paint the negative space blue, or umber, or olive? Or crimson? What if I want to stencil? What if I want to collage? What if I need a roller? A makeup sponge? Palette knives? I'm not leaving the house with anything less than an oversized laundry basket.

painting start #1,
second layer

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Foundation Garments

I am loving the starting-gate phase of my anticipated while-at-camp project, getting the foundations in place. I've savored such delicious relaxation and absorption as I've speed painted four 8x10" sheets of canvas paper.

Mind you, when I say speed painting, I'm not talking about the lightning-speed speed painting required in a lesson from my Jane Davies online class late last summer. These current sheets did not see completion in 20 seconds.

More like 20 minutes.

But still, quick and fuss-free.

painting start #4
for camp

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Plans for a Cover-Up Operation

So I'm thinking about what I want to do for my painting exploration when I go to camp. I'm going to think aloud here and see what emerges.

What I want to investigate/practice is painting negative space—covering paint already on paper, leaving bits and pieces of the underlayer visible. I LOVE paintings in which other artists do just that, but I have such a hard time doing it myself!

Before camp:

• speed paint four sheets of 8x10" canvas paper in a (very) loose-grid or random-blobs format
• maybe do some mark making as a next layer
• oh, and maybe add collage
• and maybe do some textural stuff with medium
• spray a fixative on the layers to date
• cut the sheets into sixteen 4x5" pieces

At camp:

• make marks with ink, pencils, china markers, paint pens, and oil pastels
• paint negative space with a limited palette, maybe using just black and white
• add more marks/collage

painting start #3 
for camp

Monday, August 7, 2017


The anticipation of going to camp each August is exquisite.

2017 marks the 37th summer I will have participated in a summer program at Takodah. I was a camper as a child, became a leader and division head during my college years, went to family camp 25 times with Dave, Meg, Scott, and Jay (and eventually on my own as the kids left home and Dave couldn't get away from work in late August), and now I'm heading off to family camp for the third time with Meg, Michael, Caroline, and Emmy.

I painted while at camp the past two summers. This year I want to bring as few supplies as possible, and I want to go in with a loose plan, an inquiry to explore.

I'm painting starts at home first.

Each one I paint heightens that exquisite anticipation while simultaneously anchoring me to the present moment of paper, brush, paint, and summer air on my skin.

painting start #2
for camp

Friday, August 4, 2017

Getting Out my Duffel

Camp in a few weeks.


While at camp I hope to explore a creative inquiry with simple controls and variables, and then see what I come home with. So today I painted a start that'll go in my duffel with my bathing suit and 30-year jacket.

Did I tell you I CAN'T WAIT?

painting start #1
for camp

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Shortest Distance

I got to reflecting on how today's paintings came to be, and found myself thinking about the idea that "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line" which in turn led me to the internet where I was entertained by the following as part of an evaluation of the shortest-distance-straight-line theorem:

at which point I promptly jumped ship on Euclidian proofs and math altogether.

I painted postcards today. My starting point was actually an exploration I did in December 2015. At that time, my first pass on paper took me here:


About a week after that, and after playing with the piece further, I cut my exploration into quadrants, one of which I cut into many smaller bits that became this piscine portrait,


and the other three of which fell by the wayside until I rediscovered them with delight last weekend while looking for something else. In the past few days I played with them until they became a series of postcards.

Straight line?

Short distance?


The Freedom to Ask Questions
4x5", acrylic and pastels on paper,
mounted on manila stock
The Freedom to Sing
4x5", acrylic, pastels, collage, and ink on paper,
mounted on manila stock
The Freedom to Talk to Yourself
4x5", acrylic, pastels, collage, and ink on paper,
mounted on manila stock

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Engaged Unpredictability

Being all in and staying the course without any guarantees …

Engaged unpredictability is the term Rhode Island School of Design president Rosanne Somerson uses. In a message to alumni in RISD XYZ Spring/Summer 2017 (thanks for sharing the magazine, Carol), she asserts that engaged unpredictability is the starting point for positive transformation. 

My experience with painting The Plainspoken Beauty of the Place is well captured in Somerson's message as she makes reference to a particular drawing assignment she gives students:

Time and again, right after [an] "antsy" point of total frustration, something completely unexpected … emerge[s]. When the body [is] forced to sit still and persevere, the brain [takes] over, spewing out new possibilities.


The "force" to persevere came from my own curiosity and commitment, but I sure did get antsy with frustration, discomfort, and flagging spirits more than once.

But then.


Something transformatively different came into play and I scrambled to keep up with the possibilities playing out through my paintbrush.

Way cool.

The Plainspoken Beauty of the Place
12x24"; acrylic, collage, ink, pencil, and pastels on canvas
abstract landscape
a brief history:


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

One Degree

I am fascinated by how huge an uplift in spirit the littlest shift in orientation can create.

Something transposes maybe 1ยบ, maybe even less, and suddenly I am all flow and intuition again.

At a surface level I don't know where I am or what I'm doing any more than I did two days ago, but now I find myself accessing a wordless, mind-less inner knowing that propels me forward with engagement, working as if in a different world altogether from the one where I usually reside.

Details of that inner knowing: