An Artist's Quest


Coming Out of My Closet

Still life in Healdsburg Hotel

Still life in Healdsburg Hotel sketched with the Artrage app on iPad

In my last post I talked about a pleasant evening drawing alone- but today I did something I have not done in a long time – I went out and painted in public- and not only that I did it with a friend! Most of my pursuit of art is a solitary hunt sitting in my wee closet of a studio lingering and laboring on whatever project or problem I have going that day. I want to say right up front that my turtle time, as we call it in my house, in my studio is sacred, a much needed respite for this performing introvert, but today my sketching and chatting away the afternoon was more than lovely. My friend Diane and I have been threatening to get together and make art for ages and never getting to it but today we both made it a priority. We met at a lovely local hotel lobby and sat down with two pots of tea, Diane got out her watercolors and sketchbook and I got out my Ipad. We painted and talked about our lives and art and deep things and shallow things all the while sketching. We both agree that the word “sketching” holds less pressure than painting or drawing – we were just “sketching” – the waiter and few passers by peeked at our progress- and this public process required that we share and so we did, no precious master work to keep covered until perfected- we were just “sketching”. And so three hours passed, worries rested, and the niggling nagging to-do list waited patiently in the car while we sat and appreciated the curve of the cup and the polish of the teapot, observed the overflowing flowers and the overstuffed chairs – I am grateful for this little reminder of the extraordinary gift of ordinary things, and plan to get out of my closet more often!

Tea time up close

Tea time up close sketched with the Brushes 3 app on iPad

Pleasant Solitude

Queen Martha

Queen Martha

Hello all, today I want to share a digital collage I did last night. I often write about my inner struggles or machinations navigating life, parenthood, teaching you know the list. But today I want to share a simple pleasure. Last night I was left alone to my devices (and I do mean devices literally) I didn’t want to plop down on the couch and watch TV, nothing to watch anyway, so I cozied myself up for the evening with blanket and tea and NPR and began to play with my device (my iPad!  I’m not sure what you were thinking but wipe that image out of your mind please). I have enjoyed drawing and painting on my iPad, but in the real world of my studio, I like to collage and cut and glue, and I’ve wanted to get that same feeling in my digital world. To that end, I have been banking photos of fabric and patterns in my photo library. This is fun to do because when I’m out and about I can take a close up of some fabric or texture file it away then use it later, who knows when, and like the stack of papers and fabric in my studio, my iPad photo album is full of  beauteous flotsam and jetsam. So last night, in my pleasant solitude, I got down to playing a bit more, here is my musing. I’m so glad I seized the sudden gift of seclusion to create.

I have to say this is the beauty of iPad creating, no mess, no clean-up, just creating….thanks to Martha, recovering beautifully from knee replacement surgery, for being my muse in the perfect pose.

Spring is Tugging and My Heart Wants to Follow


Flowering plum on blustery March day at the Ranch

Flowering plum on blustery March day at the Ranch

Well, spring in Sonoma County comes early and while we are in a terrible drought here at the moment it is raining and blustery which is as it should be. The clouds and sun are in a battle and the wind seems to aid each team equally. Here in my little home the emotions of the moment mirror the struggle of the sun and rain. My only child is a senior in high school and is in the middle place at the moment – hearing from colleges, finding out if he is in or if he is out and my husband is logging in the cost and financial aid into an elaborate spread sheet to figure out if we can pay or not. The coming month is one of deep discernment, of broad projections, of gut feelings. So my household reflects the season – so full of possibility, so fresh with expectation, yet bundled against the wind and rain of uncertainty. This too shall pass, and while at the moment spring is straddling with one foot in winter and one foot in summer, she will decide as she always does to side step firmly into the warm solid days of spring with her toes dipping into summer. And here in my house choices will be made, decisions embraced, and a direction discerned. But right now in the middle place, in the blustery spring where nothing is certain it takes all my will to contain my balance to stay as grounded as the flowering trees, rooted in the earth with blooms bursting and dancing on the breeze, the trees seem to revel in this in between place they are in no hurry to shake off their pink party dresses for the green gown of summer, I will try to do the same.

The sky is blue and so am I

Curled Queen Anne's lace backed by muddy blue pond, daffodil, vetch and clover, impossibly blue sky

Curled Queen Anne’s lace above muddy blue pond, daffodil, vetch & clover, impossibly blue sky

I have to admit that I’m in a bit of a funk this week.  Nothing serious really,  I’ve had some spinning wheel issues for a couple of weeks.  Things I started not going anywhere, idea balloons for new endeavors unceremoniously popped by a reality pin.  Smallies in the big picture of the world and human struggles and sorrows.  So to pull my self up a bit I went for a hike this morning.  Always a good thing to let the body take over when the mind is mired.  Striding along I began to take note of the colors, the lurid greens flooding forth from muddy ground with new dew drench grasses, a few miniature white wild flowers rearing there tiny heads, a tenacious patch of daffodils planted a century ago by homesteaders long gone, the creek and pond at it’s head muddy blue-brown from the recent rains ringed with the dark dried tendrils of last years Queen Anne’s Lace curled up on itself.  I took note of all these things combined with the impossibly blue sky.  Cloudy with a chance of blue skies or blue skies with a chance of clouds, oh it matters not, impossibly blue.

I have been thinking about but not acting on an idea I had about color mapping.  Mapping might not be the right term but I’ll use it anyway.  Mapping the mood and the day by colors.  So I made a little template to make witness of the things I saw, to make witness to my mood, a melancholy marked by daffodils can’t be all that bad.  So, as always, taking time to make a little art – mark a moment, has shifted things a bit. So now the forecast seems to be for clearing skies, impossibly blue with a chance of clouds (but only the white puffy picturesque ones).

I am trying to put together some on-line classes teaching iPad drawing and where to go with it.  Color Maps as part of art journaling is an idea I hope to flesh out more.  I’ll keep you posted.

When Life Give You Lemons…

When life give you lemons come on people you know what to do! (drawn on my iPad)

When life give you lemons come on people you know what to do! (drawn on my iPad)

When life gives me lemons….. well I just want more lemons.  The lovely lemon has gotten a bad rap over the years, from a unreliable car being a lemon to the old Harry Belafonte song (sing with me people) “Lemon tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat….” _ Around my world the lemon trees are laden and like the August’s overwhelming bounty of zucchinis people are bringing bags of lemons to give away when ever they can.  The truth is lemons are fantastically versatile fruit used in savory and sweet but really I don’t know many recipes that take more than one or two lemons and a mature lemon tree has hundreds.  For me I love a twist of lemon in my evening Martini during lemon season, lemon poppy seed pound cake also a mad favorite, squeezed over kale or arugula – divine! I was at a meeting the other day for a preschool that I’m on the board of. We were discussing a simple fundraising booth for our local FFA fair.  Someone suggested a lemonade stand, we all agreed that would be a great idea then one of the board member said she could get a giant barrel of powdered mix at Costco for next to nothing…. I audibly gasped.  I said “there are lemon trees all over town I’m sure we can easily get enough free lemons for our lemonade stand”, she said “but won’t that be too much work – isn’t it hard to make” … again audible gasp so for any of you who have never made fresh lemonade or heaven forbid never ever sipped fresh lemonade here is just how simple it is.


  • 1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)


1 Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.

2 While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.

3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons. Throw in some mint springs to make it even more fabulous and Viola that’s IT.

I know, I know some of you are still tight in the grip of winter and can not even imagine wanting a glass of lemonade OK then here is Hot Honey Lemonade about as soothing  as it sounds, some people throw in a shot of rum at the end but I like mine without, just hot and sweet-tart!

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey


1. Put honey and lemon in mug pour hot water over, stir, sip adjust honey and lemon to taste!

SIMPLE! So when life gives you lemons people… don’t tell me you don’t know what to do!

Something Fishy Going on Around Here

found art leads to quilt

found art leads to quilt

Inspiration is a funny thing sometimes.  For me sometimes it has to shift and settle a bit before it comes out in the form of new art.  This fish story is one of those instances.  Months ago my husband and I were walking around Guerneville, a little rundown Russian river resort town, and came upon these wonderful koi fish spray painted on the sidewalk in small swimming groupings.  We saw about four or five schools of fish spread out in different parts of town, the one pictured here is on the main drag in front of a restaurant.  I was very taken with this bit of artful graffiti and immediately took out my cell phone to take a picture. I have to say the best thing about the camera phone revolution; you can always capture inspiration wherever you find it.  The photos languished in my phone for a while until I synched my phone and computer up and these little sidewalk muses reminded me of their charm.  So I got to work making my own stencil.  I’ll tell you I have used this stencil in a number of ways and will share more koi with you as they evolve but today I want to share the quilt I finished a couple of weeks ago at The Bishop’s Ranch quilt retreat.

The fish inspiration merged with an urge to do some experimenting with fabric dying.  I had been reading about ice dyeing and wanted to try it.  The basic idea is you crinkle up your fabric and shove it into a dishpan or tray.  Then you cover the whole thing with crushed ice and sprinkle powdered dye over the ice…. And that is it!  The ice melts and the dye spreads and makes fantastic organic beautiful results. That’s how I created the background fabric.  Then using my fish stencil I stenciled on this relatively new product called color magnet and dyed the whole thing a light grey.  Where the fish were stenciled the color magnet grabbed the dye and made them a wonderful charcoal color.  I then stenciled the fish outline with a color removal paste that basically bleached out the fish outlines.  I love how this all turned out and decided to make a quilt with the fabric during the quilt retreat.  I free motion quilted in a swirly pattern using variegated blue thread, then outlined the fish in loose sketching lines in white.  I had now idea how amazing the back with the white on the bright blue would look.  I know I’m going to do more of this thread drawing on plain fabric in the future.

the  finished quilt, front and back

the finished quilt, front and back

So one inspiration leads to the next and the next in a meandering path.  So lunch in a sleepy town leads to a wonderful quilt and who know what else.  So keep you camera phone close and like a scout always be prepared to be inspired!

CARPE AMO : share a little love today!

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I am a big fan of Valentine’s Day, not the romantic love kind of Valentine’s Day (although I’ll take when I get it) with all its pressures and expectations; but the homemade, fill a box at school kind of Valentine’s Day.  Some years ago I abandoned sending out Christmas cards and opted for Valentine cards instead.  As a kid I loved Valentine’s Day at school, decorating the Kleenex box as mail box, making the valentines cards copying each classmates names carefully from the list, walking around the delivering the cards to everyone’s letter box perched on each desk, then taking my stash home and nibbling the candy treats, sorting the Valentine’s into piles, reading and reexamining each one. As a grown up I like to give a little of that school days happiness to my friends and family still.  So here is a little digital Valentine for you in your virtual mailbox.  I made these stuffed hearts this week at a quilt retreat I attended here at The Bishop’s Ranch.  As the week went on the scraps in the scrap box began to pile higher and higher with tantalizing patterns and colors in every fistful.  I took a few back to my sewing station and channeling my childhood self stitched, zigged, zagged and stuffed these scrappy love notes to share with you.

A little squishy love note

A little squishy love note

I hope you have a love filled day and if you have a chance to commit a few random acts of love today I hope you seized the moment…..CARPE AMO!

a little scrappy love pillow

a little scrappy love pillow


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 246 other followers