"When we all think alike, then no one is thinking."
— Walter Lippman

Monday, June 29, 2009

Home Shelters the Dreamer

I readily admit to being somewhat of a hermit, especially during the summer months. I am content to work in my studio, putter around in the gardens, sit on the deck and watch Nature's big show and enjoy the unstructured time at home.
This illustration was made with that theme in mind.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Here in the midwest, we have been experiencing a weather pattern that features heat, humidity, and storms. An incredible lightning display earlier this month prompted my interpretation of the design principle 'Emphasis'. Nature's way of saying "Take That!"
This illustration was used on an artist trading card (ATC) for our monthly exchange.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The theme for this month's art exchange was "principles of design." One of my choices was 'harmony' but I was unsure what direction to take with it.
Last week I awoke very early to a thick fog outside, the kind where you can't see across the road. Compelled to get up and ride my bicycle in it, I waited until nearly daylight and took a loop on the bike trail through the woods and around a small lake with fog and mist rolling around me as I rode alone.
It was a bit creepy and I kept expecting Vincent Price to step out in front of me at any moment wearing a black cape and doing that insane laugh.
The bike trail goes past a small cemetery where I have explored many times before, and I recalled the plots of 3 children that lay side by side in the older part of the grounds. At some point on that bike ride, an idea took form as I visualized a photograph of 3 Victorian Era children from my collection. Taking liberty with the artistic principle, I focused more on the general meaning of the word: Harmony in the way they each seemed to have strong individual characteristics , yet all shared common features and contributed to a family legacy. Three notes of a chord. A trio of stories left unfinished.
You never know where inspiration will come from. My best advice is to be open to it, be free and playful with the possibilities, and if you get a chance to ride your bike through thick fog on an early morning in June, just do it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Saint Mildburga

This week my cats alerted me to a bird trapped in the fireplace chimney. It happens occasionally, and I have a method of rescue which does not include the cats. Off they went, banished temporarily to the basement. I set up a light on the glass fireplace doors, open the flue, and shortly the bird will come down to the light, thinking it is an escape to the outside. Then I can reach into the fireplace, grab the bird and release it outdoors. One would think I have done this before, right? This time it was a pair of chimney swifts. What strong little birds! I held each one long enough to admire their piercing black eyes and sleek profile, then opened my hand and they were gone.
I was reminded of a little collage made in 2007 when our theme for the month was "saints." This is my interpretation of Mildburga, Patron Saint and protector of Birds.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Garden Journal

Over the past few years I have kept a very informal little garden journal. In it are brief notes about when certain plants are blooming, when pests appear and what is done about it (this year we will be writing about gophers). There are notes about collecting seeds, which variety of tomatoes were best, and occasional drawings of the placement of plants in the flower beds. Last year's entries included weather notes; the devistating tornado we watched from our home and the floods that left us with "lake front property" and others without homes.
It's interesting to look back over past seasons and read the plans made for this one. The pages are often smudged with dirt, as entries are made while I rest after working. This is part of the overall 'patina' of the book.
My own little garden journal sits on a shelf in my garden shed; the one pictured here is from my Etsy shop.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Into the Garden

We have had a nice steady rain over night and throughout the day today. The garden is happy.
Several years ago I decided to transform the vegetable garden to a flower garden. This evolved after my "Earth Mother" phase in which I grew and canned everything. These days I am just as happy to support the Farmer's Market, but there are still a few tomato plants, green peppers and basil among the many flowers.
My Grandpa, who inspired my love of gardening, was always digging, planting and harvesting. In the spring there would be hundreds of tulips and in the fall, the entire yard was bordered by chrysanthemums of every imaginable variety. There were grafted fruit trees with 4 different kinds of pears on the same tree, roses and flowering shrubs galore. Grape vines grew on the fence around the garden and in the fall he made the best wine ever. He worked in the garden right up until the day he died and was always looking ahead to the next season.
I have kept his tree spade and most of his garden books, and all that he taught me over the years. And sometimes when I am out in my own garden I feel that he is still watching and guiding me with his gentle spirit.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blue Iris

The highlight of our spring flower garden is the stand of blue iris in late May and early June. I wish they would bloom all summer long.
They are an annual reminder that the school year is almost over and soon there will be an abundance of unstructured time for making art, riding bicycles, reading, and puttering in the garden. Bring it on!
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