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 . . .