Touches of Green and Gold


journal page – 3/22/08

Spring officially arrived in New England on Friday, and already Nature has begun to wallpaper the land with touches of green and gold. With the sun shining and the birds visiting the feeder outside my kitchen window,   it’s hard to think of having any peeves.  All I feel is a wonderful whisper of promise in the air.  I have learned over time how much better my experience of the world is when I let go of the things that annoy me… and concentrate on the things that delight me.  Today, I am delighted to just be… here, in the moment.  Tomorrow I will go back to pondering the unknown fields before me.  Happy Spring, my friends!

First Georgic

When spring begins and the ice-locked streams begin
To flow down from the snowy hills above
And the clods begin to crumble in the breeze,
The time has come for my groaning ox to drag
My heavy plow across the fields, so that
The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs against it.

Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice
Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will
It yield what the farmer prays for; then will the barn
Be full to bursting with the gathered grain.

And yet if the field’s unknown and new to us,
Before our plow breaks open the soil at all,
It’s necessary to study the ways of the winds
And the changing ways of the skies, and also to know
The history of the planting in that ground,
What crops will prosper there and what will not.

In one place grain grows best, in another, vines;
Another’s good for the cultivation of trees;
In still another the grain turns green unbidden.

Virgil, translated by David Ferry

P.S. –  Please accept my invitation to stop by Wings 4 You Coaching and participate in my Weekly Wings challenges.  There’s a new challenge posted each Sunday.  I’d love to have you along on the journey!


Lifting off into Flight


journal page – 3/16/08

I am deeply touched by the affirmation of possibility and rebirth this poem expresses through the imagery of the heavy-bodied heron lifting off into flight.

Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself–
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

Mary Oliver (1935 – )

Lift off into your own flight! Please accept my invitation to stop by Wings 4 You Coaching and participate in my Weekly Wings challenges. I’d love to have you along on the journey!


Planting & Growing


Vernal Spirit
– 18″ x 24″ x 1″ – acrylic & ink on wood

This painting is not completely finished (It’s based on an earlier journal page, and I need to do more work on the hair detail), but I wanted to share it for both Inspire Me Thursday‘s “Kitchen” topic and Illustration Friday‘s “Garden” topic.

The background has at least eight layers, several of which are built with washes of paint that I sprinkled with salt. This is a great technique for creating pattern and texture. When the salt dries, I rub it off to find the small dots and stars that are left where the salt has lifted the paint. This method works really well if you build several very thin glaze layers – in person, the background of this painting has such beautiful depth and texture.

The garden connection is both visual and conceptual. For a long time, I have been focusing on making positive changes in my life that will give me space to express myself more genuinely. That means aligning my life with my most important values – individuality, creativity, family, learning, and sharing. I think of these values as the seeds I must plant to grow my own beautiful life-garden… and so, I am currently in the process of becoming a certified life coach.

I have always been a believer in big dreams, and I love working with people to help them find constructive and viable ways to create a vision and then turn it into reality. I’ve been doing this for almost 24 years as a teacher, and now I want to share my passion outside a school setting. I have recently launched a blog where I offer motivational articles and weekly challenges, and within the next few months, I will be offering personal, creativity, and career coaching, tele-seminars and live workshops.

Please accept my invitation to stop by Wings 4 You Coaching and participate in my Weekly Wings challenges. I’d love to have you along on the journey!


Background Check


untitled work-in-progress – 24″ x 36 ‘ x 1.5″ – acrylic on wood

When I saw that the topics this week over at Inspire Me Thursday (Action Painting) and Illustration Friday (Multiple), my immediate thought was to bring both topics together and share a little bit of the process behind my paintings.


journal page – 2/1/08

Most of my paintings are conceived in a small 5″ x 7″ journal, the place where I go to play without the big elephant of artistic performance anxiety sitting on my chest. Although I rarely have any idea what I want a page to look like, I always start off with brushed, smeared or sponged-on leftover paint, experimenting with color combinations and application processes. As the background takes on a personality, I start getting an idea of what I want to do – perhaps add paper elements, drip some ink, paint a figure, stamp in texture, draw with pens, scribble with crayons. Sometimes I finish a page rather quickly, and other times I keep layering on the elements until the original background is pretty much obliterated. It starts out as an active, intuitive process that becomes more and more focused as I see what’s appearing on the page. If it really speaks to me as the journal page above did, I decide to go forward and recreate the page as a larger painting.

Like my journal pages, I build my paintings from the background forward. The large painting at the top began as a wood panel my DH made for me a while back. After applying the gesso and sanding it smooth, I used my favorite Blick’s mega-brush to paint a base layer of cadmium red and quinacridone crimson. I let it dry completely, and then used a fabric paint roller to randomly apply diarylide yellow, cadmuim yellow medium, and titan buff paint over the red. Between “rolls,” I spritzed the surface with water and blotted with a paper towel. When I had added and subtracted paint until I had a nice balance of yellow and red, I spritzed again, sprinkled salt on the surface and dried it with a heat gun. Finally, I rubbed off the salt to see the little dots and star designs it left behind, and finished the background by using a texture stamp here and there.

Creating the background was a very active and loose process, in contrast to the very deliberate and focused work I did on the figure. The final stage of this painting will be to add the details – the floral designs, and patterns in her hair, and whatever little surprise elements I might think of before I feel it’s done. I find that I lose my concentration after several hours, so a painting this size ends up taking a long time to finish! In fact, I am going to put her aside for a while and start the background for another painting.


journal page – 12/20/07 & Spirit– 18″ x 24″ x 1″ – mixed media on wood

Above is another example of page-to-painting. In this case, the backgrounds began with collaged torn paper. Below are two other page-to-painting images that I have already posted individually.


journal page – 9/9/07 & Migration– 12″ x 16″ x 1″ – acrylic/mixed media on wood


journal page – 10/10/07 & Enchantment – 12″ x 16″ x 1″ – acrylic/mixed media on wood

More Action Painting here… and more Multiple(s) here… Enjoy!

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