Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Time of Thanksgiving

With this page, I swell with gratitude. That's what I find happens on many pages of my journal . . . I see my life more from a removed vantage point, and with that comes the clarity of what an amazing world and life I have around me.

My first entry blossoms from the joy of sweet, simple magic of living in a small town (pop. around 2,000). Locals have taken the iniative to have a "local's movie night" monthly in the historic, brick City Hall. They had inatially formated the movie to center on a theme that "some aspect of the movie include a relation to our town of Jacksonville". So they have had movies that were filmed, in part or wholly, here in town or movies that have people in them that live in our area - and - of course, there would be a cartoon beforehand. But in November, the regular master of ceremonies was away in Hawaii or Mexico (awwwwwwwwwwww . . .), and "sparkplugs of innovation" stepped in to fill the movie selection and commentary prefacing the movie. When their dialogue was finished, we'd heard about mysterious "reported possible sightings" of Johnny Dep in the town of J-ville (to fulfil that requirement for the movie have some connection to Jacksonville) and the movie started. It was like being in a old, small town movie theatre ... charming, ended-too-soon kinda feeling! The only bad part to the entire evening was that Cody, our golden-retreiver, who had waited in the car during the movie ... had eaten ALL of our friend Mike's leftover Mexican dinner. To replace the leftovers, meant to be lunch, we took Mike out for his noon time meal :)

The remaining images were from our trip up to McMinnville to celebrate Thanksgiving. Roland had long been researching restaurants and was jazzed to find one well reviewed in this rustic lil town in which we'd wanted to spend more time. We drove directly to the restaurant, Bistro Maison, after checking in to our lodging. Even in the grey rain, the ole' Victorian resonated warmth and charm. Quickly we were seated in a quaintly crowded room and felt like we'd joined several families for dinner. Our review of the food rated the dessert "the best" part of the meal but were contentedly full ~ and grateful for the multitude of our blessings! We took an evening walk in the sputtering rain and nested in for a cozy night. The next morning broke crystal clear and blue skied and we romped off to our favorite coffee shop and what delighted us was the "hummmm" of families and friends rejoicing a day off together. Town was a-bustle with preparation for (apparently) a main street parade. We trekked some of the old neighborhoods, discovering great architecture and plumply healthy foliage. Leaving town to head back home was a bit of a challenge as most of the streets in our route, were blocked off for the parade. We mastered the maze and traveled south, towards J-ville. We passed thru some of the most lovely rolling hill country with orchards, farms, churches with cemeteries and nurseries. All glistening after the evening rain showers and me, snapping photos out the open car window.

One of my favorite was this leaning old building with SO much character.

It was hard to leave the beauty but, schedules required us to keep driving and finally arrive home, feeling even more blessed to return to our awaiting, home-sweet-home.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Autumn Remembered

I have been doing some updating in my journal and as I wander back, I wanted to share my pages with you. These pages pretty much encompass my fondest memories of our Fall Season. As I drive into my Ashland Studio, one of my favorite streets is Oak Street. It's the way I weave into the city from it's northern streets. I love the way it moves gradually from rolling agriculture pastures, then to a few buildings sprinkled with cattle, some chickens and a pumpkin grower. Of course, the autumn brings out this growers finest jewels. All along this cheery picket fence, dance this wide variety of orbs, like a chorus line. One day as I was leaving town in the early afternoon, I caught the sun just where it spotlighted the pumpkins while starting to shed delicious blue-purple shadows down from the nearby trees. I'm really enjoying spreading illustrations across the full or near full double spread pages of my journal . . . it seems to give you more of a vision of what I'm experiencing. Hope you get the joy I felt from this warm, celebratory scene.

You'll see my annual collection of "Autumn Leaves" glued to the page too. It seems, even tho I mentally agree NOT to paste those silly dead leaves in my journal again this year, I'm walking along and look down to see the most incredible, amazing color display that nature has painted on a simple gorgeous leaf. And there I go again, "paste those silly dead leaves in my journal again this year". Mother Nature never fails to thrill me, again and again, over and over. One of the many pleasure of the Autumn Season.

Later in the fall season, we arranged to go see a radio show, aired frequently on NPR, entitled, "West Coast Live" that came with cast, to our Ashland Bowmer Theatre in Ashland. The theatre was the perfect open, curved stage for the performance. Dotted across the stage was various aspects of the live radio show: the piano and player, the open stage for entertainment space and a mic for interviews. We found the show enlightening and entertaining, but, I have to say the most memorable part of the evening show, was the announcer's red shoes. Sometimes being "visual" leaves me with an entirely different perspective of situations than others who visited the same place.

Isn't that what Life is ~ ~ a marrying of different perspectives, hopefully into harmony? I'm pondering that today . . . perhaps food for thought for you too?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The JOYS of Mentoring

Middle of November I received a rather odd phone call message. My husband had taken it, and when giving the message to me mentioned, the young was very "wary" about giving out any information. When I returned the call, it was an Ashland Student who's class had an upcoming project.

It required each student to find an artist who would mentor them for a period of 40 hours, culminating in early February. The student was to complete a project in their chosen medium that would also benefit or include a "service" aspect. I was blushingly thrilled!! Of course, I accepted and have been meeting 2 nights a week, for a total of 5 hours weekly putting together this project.

First we have been adding to her repertoire of skills since most of her school experience was using watercolor rather loosely. I had her work on this little painting that combines wet-into-wet washes (the sky), aerial perspective (different planes of foreground, mid-ground and background), light source and some color balance. She's including some frisquet and wax crayon for resist. Both of us were very pleased with her first exercise.

One of her favorite watercolor subject matter is flowers. I'd seen her portfolio and she does them well, but could really make the floral glow if she incorporated more glazing. So our second project went on to "glazing" techniques. Here she is referencing the partial demo I'd done for her while she works on her own piece. I'm also having her use my palette and some of my brushes to give her a taste of different materials and different qualities. She's been very diligent and dedicated to finishing projects and I've been so impressed with the quality of her finished work. I can't wait to see how her completed projects comes out.
Since her focus for the "service" aspect will be around the forests, she has begun designing a fascinating piece (I'll keep secret for the completed debut). Here she's started with some reference photos and is sketching up her first designs. I've gained so much introspect into the children's world of 2009 and gained immense respect for this dear girl and she travels through her life.

Having no children and few interactions with kids, it's been very sweetly revealed how much I've missed not having children and how much I relish this growing relationship. I've had the pleasure of meeting both her mom and dad, and even the older brother. To my sheer joy, last night I attended the local school's Christmas Play, featuring my new friend. It was just amazing, the talent, the props, the acting abilities (and the quality with which characters were performed) and the enthusiastic rejoicing after this first presentation.

Can you sense how much I am enjoying this special gift to my "plate"? It may be time consuming, but the wealth of experience I've gained and look forward to ~ ~ are immense. So sometimes when you think your plate is too full, just be open to the gift that may be waiting on your doorstep. Again, I urge you ~ ~ take that leap!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Teaching and Beyond

It can't really be almost an entire month since I made an entry can it? Apparently, it is true. Not that I haven't thought of you all many times . . . being in my new studio space in Ashland Art Center has taken on a life of it's own. All good and growing and educational . . . but time swallowing.

Besides the added commitments of rotating shows, additional group meetings, "First Friday Artwalks" and "Holiday Open House" events, I've been nearly inundated with students requesting classes! Oh, I know, what a compliment to complain about. But I'm really NOT complaining, I'm SO honored. And just going with the flow.

I taught a "Beginning Watercolor Journaling Class" middle of October with 3 sessions. We began back with plenty of basics, first of course, the "Upsidedown Drawing" which totally enlightened one of the students who'd been affirming, "I can't draw"! Even tho she'd been making magnificent stained glass for years, she didn't realize this capability within her. We proceeded with different drawing techniques, which actually had ME modeling for their "gesture drawing" - getting some laughs and comments like "nice buns" from the group. We finished up with some into to pigments and very rudimentary watercolor techniques. Here's the pages where I'd painted/sketched examples for them.

I've also been blessed to have requests for private lessons in watercolor journaling - and I'm finding this quite exciting and interesting. It gives me a chance to review the art and skills of my interested student then, following their requests and gaps I attempt to fill in their exposure, we formulate a class together, the two of us. Sometimes the class morphs as the class proceeds. Just last night at our first physical meeting and first class, I was working with a gentleman, looking thru his journal. He'd requested some drawing work and then reviewing his pigments and palette. As we paged thru his journal I saw very little use of glazing and some tweeking that could help him with compliments and opaques vs. transparent pigments. We worked a color wheel and then, I went digging in my pack for something, anything that would serve for us to paint using glazing. Thank goodness, I'd brought an apple. So here's the "worksheet" I whipped up, painting alongside him.

I'm sometimes feeling gratified and it alternates with feeling unorganized. But, it's spontaneous and ... hopefully working for every one's good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Springtime Catchup ~ Return Home from San Jose

This is a fun page that floods with memories. I had taken that trip in February down to the Bay Area, after visiting San Francisco, for planning with my Co-instructor of my "Women's Mexico Retreat".

I'd not seen my friend for quite awhile - since she'd been newly married. So staying with her was a treat, getting to meet and spend some time with her new honey. When I'd early arrived, I noticed dried flowers hanging from the kitchen cabinets. Upon inquiry, I learned the flowers were from the wedding bouquets. Since I was at the table with just my journal and didn't want to pull out the entire watercolor kit, I just used a Micron Pen with a brush tip. You can get a wide edge and some relatively delicate lines too and it's nice to have a variety on my journal pages (although you all know my favorite is watercolor!) Another item that, for me exemplified the new energy and joy in the household was this kicky gecko. I couldn't resist bringing it "home" with me on the corner of my page. He turned out rather zippy, with an attitude, don't you think?

The wacky and playful flag originated from a local restaurant. Several years ago we'd tried the charming, rustic eatery named, "The Black Bear Diner" and it'd been so long ago that we couldn't remember IF we liked the food. So, on a whim ... we dropped in for dinner. Let's just say, the fun lil flag was the best part of the dinner, although not edible :)

And one of the things I begin watching for in the early spring (it happened February 14th last year) is the emerging of our heartwarming golden yellow crocus. On the afternoon of February 24th, I caught sight out our front window, of a yellow head poking up out of the dirt. It's always a joyous moment - kind of reminds me that Winter is waining and Spring, just around the corner. The next day I got a photo of the bursting lil family of crocus - hurrah, Spring has begun!

This full page, spread out is one of my favorite - joyous and diverse. It reminds me of the deliciousness of life and our world. I'm hoping you take a moment here, now, to count your many blessings. Even the tiniest of gems is worth celebrating!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mexico Update

Now, with the chilly, rainy days of Autumn darkened by early darkness, I'm nestling in to do some catch up in my journal.

This page is way back from my Women's Mexico Retreat in April. But it was complex (of course I don't keep it simple) and it's taken awhile to complete. I've long loved those pinpointed blow-ups that often appear in ads or maps. So I used that format to tell the more thorough story than just a single illustration. Since I was aware that the condo I had currently secured was NOT going to be available in the future for more of my retreats, I requested sampling several other potential venues. One of the rentals the Real Estate gentleman toured me thru was what I entitled, "The Castle". It w-a-a-a-s like a castle: multi-floored, elegant presentation with grounds that included 2 small casitas, a pool with a swim-up bar, cages which used to house a full collection of exotic animals (I'm please all the animals are now gone - and - hopefully, free roaming) and a view to die for.

These multi-views seemed the only way to expose the more expansive caliber of this rental. I'm most happy with the sink and stained glass bathroom detail. And, yep, as you can guess, it was the most time consuming. I found the tiny-ness of the other three images to be really challenging, but, they capture the essence of the vast place.

I've been painting busily in my new Studio 8 in Ashland Art Center and several other entries to include here. So for now, this concludes the Mexico pages and we'll be returning to the San Jose trip next.

Til then, perseverance and creative juices will see me thru the dark season. And I know, there is always light waiting (yes, you can take that literally and metaphorically too).

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Long Ago ... on a Trip to the Bay Area

Once upon a time in the land of February ... I took a trip to the Bay Area. With plenty of planning to get three busy artists together, I headed off to visit my dear friends, Jean Warren and Floy Zittin.

My first stop was to be over to see Jean in Bodega Bay. Now my husband had specially programed his lil Garmin and convinced me "he" would joyfully guide me to my friend's house. "Ok," I agreed, "I'm in for an adventure". As I drive over the California state line, I'd picked up my cellphone to make a quick call and - yep - as soon as I saw the Highway Patrol pull out from the brush near Weed, I knew I was getting a ticket. I'd forgotten the new no-hands-calling law we don't have in Oregon. Argh! But, I proceed on, glaring at my ticket (turned out to be an over $125 fine).

Mid-way down valley near some farm turnoffs, the Garmin instructs me to turn off into the wild blue west near Williams. At first I hesitate, but remembering "I'm in for an adventure", I follow the lil fellows suggestion. Eventually, after zigzagging country roads, I am directed to turn into County Highway 20 with towns like Clear Lake en route. I've heard of Clear Lake, so I'm feeling more confident but, once I've passed Midtown, I look down at my lil "guiding light" and - poof - he's gone out, completely out. The kind of "out" that won't revive. Now I have no idea what route the Garmin had planned for me, what roads lead where and I had no maps of this remote country area. Blessed with kind people at the gas station where I stopped, who xeroxed maps for me and highlighted the way down the curvaceous hilly roads of Highway 29, I dropped into Calistoga and then, on to Bodega Bay. The country was lovely but, the roads so intense, that I couldn't enjoy the scenery. But I finally landed, a bit frazzled from the saga of the "Garmin gone awry".

The views at Jean's house were picturesque, encompassing the dreamy coastline and we hiked briefly around the area before a luscious dinner.

Next day Jean and I headed down to San Francisco to meet Floy at the Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA). Floy had come across the show they were having focusing on, of all things, journaling! The basis was that 1000 empty journals were left all over the world - for anyone to fill a page and then pass on. When the journal was full there was a website to contact for shipping the journal back to the project originator. This show was the culmination of this project. We lunched (of course) before the museum visit and then relished all the featured shows ... one included this exhibit of hundreds of brown poodles forming a huge circle facing inward. And the circles of brown poodles continued in smaller circles, filling in the entire circle. Some diverse creativity! But the greatest part of that day was reveling in the reunited friendships. What can 3 women artists talk about for hours . . . only 3 other women artists can guess :) You all understand :)

I'll pause here as I continue catching up that period of my journal ... down in the San Jose area. Oh - and yes ... I'm afraid I will continue without the Garmin!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Last Camping Trip of the Year

As summer slowly pulls the chilly, yellow-leafed curtain across the days, we seek out the "Last Camping Trip of the Year." On September 21st, we set out for just that - - a lovely day heading up to Diamond Lake and finding a quiet campsite right on the lake. We traverse the lake, ending up at the Lodge and Restaurant. Our plans for the next day would be an early hike and, "how about dinner at the Lodge?" Ok! Our early hike wanders along the south end of the lake and I sit down to sketch the range just north of Mt. Bailey. An ominous yellow cloud, which we've learned is a huge billowing belch from the wildfires just the other side of Mt. Bailey at Tiller, hovers in the distance. The atmosphere is very dry, like 15% humidity and my attempted sketch is frustrating, as the watercolor washes dry before I can mix my paints. But when we follow thru on our plans to return to camp and clean up for dinner at the Lodge, we watch as the winds change and slowly, every so gradually we watch the ugly smoke blanket our view and finally our camp. Within a short time our eyes and throats are burning and we pack up and leave. On our way back towards the Rogue Valley I shot this photo over the Lost Lake Reservoir Bridge - oppressive air.

But, we persevere - we found cleaner air down at Union Creek and claimed another campsite along the gurgling creek. Our Lodge dinner moved now to Betsy's where we, of course, enjoyed her fabulous berry pie and slumbered with our camping dreams dancing in our heads. But . . . guess what . . . in the morn the smoke had crept down to Union Creek . . . and again. We closed down camp, and rather disheartened, drove the remainder of the way home.

But HARK!!!, we shall not give up. With one more lovely autumn-like weather day, October 9th, we drive off to another attempt at a pleasurable "Last Camping Trip of the Year!" This time we head to the beach, Harris Beach Campground near Brookings, to be exact. Once we driven thru the campground during the busy summer and the crowded, noisy sites weren't to our liking. But since this time of year, most campers are staying home and families have children back in school. So the campsites are quiet, greenery abounds among the tall trees and we're a short walk down to a magnificent beach. Following our usual pattern of one dinner out and one in camp, we bip off to Gold Beach, trying out a recommended "Norwester" restaurant. The view, sadly, was the best part of the expensive dinner but, we enjoyed a nice walk thru town and stopped to watch the local football team in action. When we woke to crisp, clean air - it truly was delicious! Roland made a breakfast for king and queens of pecan & banana buckwheat pancakes . . . and I got to share it with him :) With a happy, full tummy, we find a pull out parking lot connecting to the Oregon Coast Trail. Hiking north in the coastal breeze with the sun dancing along to waves, this is the kind of landscape we got to savor for hours! When we returned to our camp, I grabbed my sketchbook and started this sketch of the Harris Beach and its rugged rocks. But, I stopped quickly as the evening breeze brought sand sprinkling across both me and my palette. The day was breathtaking filling our spirits completely with zeal!!! And our down-home dinner of Beans 'n Brown Bread (yep, the one in the can!) filled our tummies rotund-ly. At long last . . . our beautiful "Last Camping Trip of the Year" had come to fruition.

So hey - "never give up" - one of my favorite sayings :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our FIRST ~ First Friday Ashland Artwalk

This entry is in celebration of our Studio 8 finally feeling together!! Ashland has a monthly "First Friday Artwalk" which is usually well attended between locals and visitors (especially during the Shakespeare Theatre Season, March through October). Since the Art Center has not officially had it's Grand Opening yet, I wondered how well attended this event would be.

We'd worked through our "sun challenge" where the bright, full sun flooded over our original watercolor and pastel paintings. We found we couldn't use curtains or UV protective film in the windows so finally found a way to flip all four of our work/display positions. In the new arrangement Bonnie and my originals aren't hit by direct sunlight and Thalia and Lindsey's jewelry sparkles in the direct light. A perfect solution!

Having all us four studio-mates together, the first time since the contract signing, felt festive. We gathered around 5pm to get the studio ready, spread out our light refreshments (ginger snaps, cream cheese and apples) and I continued working on a collaborative piece I'm doing with two other wonderful women artists (but that's a whole other post). By 6pm the place was swarming with curious faces and warm smiles of friends who'd come to congratulate.

I loved chattering with people, showing them the process of this combined artistic effort in my collaborative piece and introducing them to my studio mates. Many had never been into the Art Center before and were awed at the size, layout and potential for the community and artists! I, personally, have found that this decision to "take that leap" and rent this space (which has included: stepping out into a more public venue, communicating with peer artists, sharing my thoughts, processes and dreams) has been one of the best things I have done. I'm feeling rewards of independence, integration and invigoration, tumbling at me faster than I could have imagined.

I thank you for following these misadventures of this adventurer through life. My only hope is that by my escapades I can encourage, even motivate another to try new things in life. The benefits are unfathomable. Come on . . . join me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

YIPPPEEEE ~ Journal Entry Wins First Place

I can't contain myself anymore. I've been aching to share this with you all but putting it off cuz I wanted to get a couple other posts up. Heck, I'm giving up - - I have to tell you now!

This is an annual show here in the area, Grants Pass to be specific, about 40 minutes north of Jacksonville. Entitled "Spirit of the Rogue", it's theme is the experience or essence of the Rogue River. I've usually not entered the show because my favorite landscapes are vistas, mountains, clouds and florals. This year on a whim, I thought I'd submit one of my journal pages. Shoot, I didn't even know if it would be considered because it's between 2D and 3D work. Surprise! I was chosen as one of the pieces for the show. That was exciting enough.

Then, shortly after the jurying, I received an email from the curator, "Spirit of the Rogue 1st Place". Can you believe it? Amidst some fabulous pieces, including works like a 4 x 6 foot oil by one of the Art Department Instructors - they chose my journal! The piece was a page from a 4th of July hike to Rainey Falls that several of us took. I began the sketch on site and when everyone else was ready to head back for the barbecue, I snapped a few digitals shots. Later, when I got home I finished the painting incorporating a small shell my sweet husband had collected, thinking it could fit into the journal too. And wellah - here is the finished image.

And I wanted to share with you another s-t-r-e-a-c-h this show offered me - and I took them up. They presented an Artists Talk for the public and college students requesting any of us artists in the show to take part. It was casual with a brief explanation of one's process, inspiration and media. Then it was open for questions. I volunteered and didn't do any prep and felt pretty much as ease. The semicircular seating had artists and public all mixed together and artist answers could be melted down to "one must paint with love of subject". All in all I felt pretty ecstatic, only heightened when the curator smiled at me as I left, reminding me that the check for 1st Place, $250, was "in the mail".

One just never knows from where dreams come true . . . again, I invite you artists to step out and take chances in new, uncertain directions.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jacksonville Art Jubilee

Over many months, some when the whole show was called off because of political mincings of the small-town-sort, our newly formed group, "Art Presence" has seen the reality of our Fall show. Back when it was still chilly last year some of us local artists put together 2 proposed art shows, one Spring, one Fall. The Autumn one was even going to have a poster competition for artists to enter - when - because of the business partner we'd paired up with was at odds with another faction and we cancelled everything.

But us artists decided to muster once again, this time with only us artists at the helm. We wrote up a mission statement and did a survey throughout town, inquiring if businesses would support and feel art could help our small town to thrive. We won an overwhelming positive response, which was written up in the paper. Then, we sent letters to ALL political, business and city groups telling them ALL, that "Art Presence" would partner with any willing or interested and that we had NO political affiliation.

One group offered to couple with us in the "Jacksonville Art Jubilee" to be held September 19th and we were back on course. Our partner took care of the parts they are good at (wine sampling, music, tickets, publicity, location for music & wine venues) and us artists coordinated what we are good at (recruiting professional quality artists, locating artists around town and gathering bios, along with images for promotion).

So, early that Saturday, the hum of our little town was audible with everyone setting up in preparations for our 12noon-6pm show. We were blessed with beautiful weather sandwiched between rainy/cold before the event and 100degree temps the following week! Our 25 artists were set up and showcased their work on lovely lawns.

The sketch I put into my Journal for that day is my location on the McCulley House Inn ( grounds. Three other artists, Cheryl Garcia, Leah Mebane, Roger Robinson and myself displayed on the picturesque bed & breakfast located right at the corner where the main street business district begins. Cheryl's work nested under the shade tree just across from the band that entertained the public all day.

At the end of the day we had various reports, many compliments of the energy and activity in our charming town (did I mention the "Bicycle Oregon" [] came through town that very day?) some with sales (the wonderful metal artist, Cheryl Garcia [] sold 2 pieces and I sold an original and many notecards), some with little traffic (in the less central locations around town), and low poster sales. Overall, it felt like a success, but there will be plenty of reviewing to improve next year's jubilee. We will do a survey/critique of the event for all of our artists and, of course, meeting discussions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Perfect Birthday

I'm sitting here reminiscing about my birthday just a few weeks ago. Funny, how my dear hubby was discouraged that he'd not made any big plans (a trip, big dinner out, friends invited, etc) but, for me, this birthday couldn't have been any more perfect.

Roland asked me day-before, exactly what I did want to do and I responded, "Take one of our favorite hikes to Takelma Gorge, eat at either Thai Pepper or Bamboo (consistently fabulous food in Ashland/Medford) and complete the day with my favorite Marionberry Cobbler, from StandingStone Brewery (Ashland too).

The gorgeous day broke with sun, warm clear skies and a gentle mood. We leisurely grabbed our pack, hiking shoes and headed towards Woodruff Bridge on the Rogue River. You can see how lovely the trek was. Still, clean waters. And then when we reached to Gorge, there were two tiny people (well, tiny from across the river) perched overlooking the raging waters at the turn of the Gorge. We lunched on power bars and crisp apples, eventually meandering back to the car with, of course, the frequent pauses while Cody ran down to the river's edge, dunked in to cool off and get a drink, then rush back up to the trail. Fur, water and energy flying everywhere!

When we got home, the mail contained oodles of B-day cards - I was overwhelmed with beautiful friends. I know it's no small assignment getting an on-time card to someone who's birthday is on September 3rd. You have to look way ahead at the calendar to even remember and then, you have to get it off and into the mail, navigating Labor Day Holiday mailing schedules. So I'm WAY impressed. I really am blessed with amazing friendships. Many thanks all of you! And what seems now to have become an annual tradition for my birthday entry in my journal, I've created a collage of sorts, combining various cards. This year it was a trial deciding which to combine and what would fit ... but, this was the final fun result.

Our dinner plans took us to Ashland for - opps - a quick right turn on the way to Thai Pepper and - we ended up at an Indian restaurant. Pleasant - but surely, it can not top my beloved dessert: Marionberry Cobbler! It was sensational!

And that's what makes a perfect birthday for me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Delicious Studio Day!

With all my show commitments ALL done, I now get to collapse into the space of my studio ~ and create! Yesterday was just one of those such days!

My journal has been calling me with lil unfinished sketches and stories. One was a sketch from when my friend, Lena, was visiting (remember she who arranged her own "Artist's Sabbatical"?). We wrestled with our schedules and finally found a space where we could do a plein air paintout. To make it more simple and do-able we decided to paint in my across-the-street neighbor's fantastic garden. Of all the days Lena was here, it broke with grey skies - but we kept with our plans anyway! I got a very quick sketch started and finished it yesterday. You can see the use of my wax crayons to capture quickly, the position of the flowers and some patterns on the rock pathway. When I got it home all I had to do was dance with my watercolor pigments and - wellah!

Later that same day, Lena treated my hubby and I to a delightful dinner at one of the nicest places in Jacksonville, the Nunan Carriage House Restaurant! You'll see their business card in the lower, right corner of my journal page. We were seated outside on the lovely patio with a 180 degree view down into the Rogue Valley. Lena gave us a sweet, handmade card thanking us for helping her with her dream of this "artist's retreat" - while we were just pleasured by her company and kindness. To be sincere, the company was more rich than the dinner :) Thank you again, Lena!

Also, on the opposite page was the space to document my start in the shared new studio space in Ashland's new "Art Center" (you can see more images and more of the story posted on this blog, dated 8/28/09). I was torn between the distant image of the studio with the new foursome in it - or a close up of the four of us smiling, closeup. To be honest, I'm kinda tired of portraits right now (you can see I've been doing quite a few), so I selected the far away rendition. Actually, I'm kind of fond of this perspective . . . it allows me to see how small us lil women look in that big space.

When I get the next photo , you'll see how easy it was to fill the area. I mean, now, we almost look crammed in there! There is also the interim challenge I'll tell you about in solving the "sun" problem. But that's another story . . . so til later, I'm heading back to the studio to play some more. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the cave of creating . . . here I come!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Seattle Getaway

The most recent adventure . . . well, at least most recent out of our state of Oregon . . . was a trip to Seattle, Washington. It appears to have become a yearly trek up to see the Yankees (my hubby is an avid fan and I love Derek Jetter) play the Mariners and I get to visit my favorite museum there, The Bellevue Art Museum and undecided galleries. A nice balance.

The first day there, we nest into our lodging (The Coast Bellevue Hotel - don't stay there!!, I'll elaborate later) and go to, what may seem like a silly yearning for dining out in a big city with alot of variety, a restaurant that resembles "Fresh Choice". It's a Bay Area restaurant chain that serves up a cafeteria-style salad bar, with soup, breads and dessert varieties too. There's nothing like that here in our area for us "salad lovers", so it's a reeeeeeeeeeeeal treat for us to find "Zuppa". They even have a patio, so Cody can join us in the fresh evening air. A nice welcome to Seattle.

I found it peculiar that, in the parking lot of our hotel, there were signs posted every 20 feet saying, "Park at your own risk, we are not responsible for . . . blah, blah, blah" - you get the idea. When we woke the next morning and Roland took Cody out for an early walk, a vehicle just down from our window had had it's driver's side window smashed out! Yikes! Ok, don't focus on fear, focus on "safety and protection surrounding" . . . and that's what I do for the next two days. I have to tell you that even though every night another car was broken into for the duration of our stay, our's remained safe. Untouched. But I can guarantee you, that we will never stay there again :)
So, we are off for a few relaxed errands and our morning tea/coffee at the lovely Whole Foods Store we discovered just up our street. A beautiful day as we eventually head over towards Safeco Park to fulfill our plan. What we found last year was that we parked very near the attendant's booth and the gentleman working there was so kind as to keep an eye on our vehicle with Cody in it, for the time we were at the game. We found another equally (actually more so) kind gent and parked.

Our afternoon was walking, taking in the old architecture and outdoor sculpture of Seattle. As you can see, Roland has to play the "card" in front of this one. When a thunderstorm danced through the city, we took refuge under the covered walkway of the Quest Field, then, safely tucked Cody in with water & a treat, and headed off to the game. My thrill was that Derek played that evening (what a beautiful role model for other players AND children!) - for Roland, that the Yankees won.

Next day was "Art Day" and we drive first to downtown Bellevue. The Bellevue Art Museum ( is located there and, as always, they have the most exquisite work showing. The large shows are Judy Hill (, doing figurative sculptures delving in psychological studies, and Michael Peterson's amazing wood creations ( But I have to say my favorite, hands down was Kate Clark's work ( These stuffed animals were so striking with their human-like heads, I couldn't take my eyes off them. To keep them from being so completely human she has patterned the faces with stylized patterns. Her mission was to have us feel how even though we fear the wild animals there is within us an essence of just exactly that. I found them beautiful and startling, especially with how much I cherish the deer who wander through our backyard home. I felt I was being drawn into an inner rapport of some unknown kind. Very mesmerizing!

We returned to downtown Seattle for our cruise of various galleries. Some just amazing creativity going on, the most inspirational was found at the "artXchange Gallery" featuring Deborah Kapoor ( My secret yearning is to do encaustics and this woman's pieces in the show, "breathing in, breathing out" took this medium to a totally new level for me. Not only had she mastered the 2-D painting aspect, but she traveled successfully to sculpture too! She created free floating thin wax cylinders which she transformed into wall pieces and another suspended the same cylinders between small, open frames with text carved into the wax (how can one do that, with a hot needle?!?!). Anyway, I came away fascinated, motivated and happy with the art experience in Seattle.

We had discovered a Bellevue park that was like a deep, relaxing breath in the midst of a busy city. It had lush trees circling a waterway, which held hands with its' accompanying walkway. This all encircled a huge breadth of green grass and it was where we'd ended our evenings, walking in the city.
So, I'll close with that deep, restful breath filling me with gratitude for being alive with all the vivid parts of living we are offered. But . . . only if we take part.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Busy, Busy Journal Entry

A flurry of life has been fluttering in around me . . . yes, blessings all, but, none-the-less chewing off big hunks of my time. So, although my blog and you, my dear followers, may appear forgotten, you are not. Nearly, daily, I think of things I want to share. But the process of doing, painting, photo-ing, getting to the computer (hurrah, I'm now adept at using the laptop, and no longer have to wait for my hubby to be off the computer!!) loading and fixing images and sitting down to talk with you all. WELL, I'm here, yippieeeeeeeeeee, and I've got a bursting-full-Journal page to share with you.

Way back from August 8th, I'd started and slowly finished the sketch, begun while I participated in the Shady Cove Riverwalk Art Show. It was a lovely weekend with lots of people. My site was just across from the soothing Rogue River. Although I had a fellow artist between me and the river, I "erased" his curtains and filled in the river reflections for you to enjoy. That's the image in the upper left of the journal page.

Next, I wanted to fill the window I'd saved for Shakira. When one of my other "Women's Mexico Retreat" participants arrived in the area for her month long "Artist's Sabbatical", she brought her beautiful dog, Shakira. This dog has the most gorgeous eyes, almost like she'd heavily applied maskara and eyeshadow, as well as eye liner. She was just the most sweet, pleasant animal to have around and even Cody, our fickel Golden Retreiver, found Shakira to his liking too. In fact, Roland spent several days enjoying two pups company while Lena and I played (thank you, Dear Roland!) I had to paint her portrait. She began like this . . . and with more hours, she completed like this . . .

The final image I wanted to remember and capture was actually a triple portrait. Yes, a big assignment, but I'm jumping into challanges seems these days! So here I go - - feet first. Bonnie, the other of the Mexico Retreat participants AND now, my studio-mate too, was having a gallery grand-opening. So Lena, the "mother of Shakira" and I planned to surprise Bonnie at her gallery event. Lena slid in smoothly, only to totally surprise Bonnie and a sweet reunion ensued.

The trio here is Bonnie, Lena (center) and me. I could nit-pick, "shadows in Lena's face need softening, the left side of my jaw needs softened and brought in" and on and on but, it's done! You understand :)

So for now, I'm anticipating being more available for the blog updates . . . and I'll aim at more frequent posts. I'm just loving your feedback and, believe me, not matter if you have a comment full of opinions and suggestions - or - if you just want to zip me off a note to say "hi" and let me know you are reading my posts, I treasure every comment.

Now, go off and revel in the amazement of our lives and - oh -be sure to be grateful for our blessings. That way, they are guarantee to multiply. Til later . . .