Monday, February 6, 2023

February: A Time to Dream

“Teach the children… Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.”
— Mary Oliver

Here is is the 6th of February and I've not posted for a long time. The holidays have come and gone with all their family and friends and joyful celebrations.  The New Year has begun in all it's complexity and bewilderment...all it's wars, earthquakes and gun violence. We have to fight to keep the balance.  I've started a Tai Chi class.  Lots of gentle movements, breathing, and contemplation.  My Zentangle® brings me healing.  I share that with others.  I led a lovely class last week.  

This month, for a time, I've lost myself in thinking about the outdoor world lying still and silent now under deep snow here in Wisconsin. I walk gingerly over ice and snow and think of the world..mostly silent and sleeping in the woods.  There is great beauty in the frosted branches and the long long icicles.   

The owls are about...I see sparrows on the branches of my Sycamore Tree.  But mostly we are lost still to the signs that spring is ahead.  Yet we still we plan for Ash Wednesday and dream of Easter on April 9.  It's only two months.  So the "green space" Mary Olivers writes of above will come again.  We have set the up north cabin calendar in motion among the family members.

It's a good month to dream of the 9 acres woods here at University Woods.  The robins will be back next month.  They always come. I so enjoyed putting together a little nature library sign for the book corner by the entrance to the woods.  

I loved thinking of each bit the woods I cherish here..the trillium, the Sycamore tree, the oaks, the Lady Slipper and the Bluebells, the hickory and the robins.  And then lastly the turkey feather.  We have an absurdly funky flock of them that think they own the 9 acres.  We have to get permission from them to walk there (well at certain times of year).  There were so many things there wasn't room for...the owls...beautiful.  All the song birds...many many wild flowers.  The list is endless.  We dream of spring now.  


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Closing the Year with Thoughts of Art and the Cosmos

One day last month friends here at Oakwood had  a "Paint Like Klimt" afternoon.  A crazy group decided to look at some of Gustav's work and enjoy it and talk about gold leaf...which he used extensively in his work... and which doesn't photograph very well (by the way). Art therapist, Jennifer, brought in some "fake" but very realistic gold leaf and we talked about using it in a little painting to try it out.  Klimt loved to paint women so I just sketched a make-believe one and looking at his many patterns (which you surely know I loved) I threw them recklessly all over her kimono and did a lot of crazy background patterns.  Then I glued on gold leaf which you cannot even see on this photo.  Many of the small black areas are in fact gold.  The medium otherwise is watercolor and ink.  8 x 10.  


This is just a quick little line sketch done in early November that I happened to come across that I'd forgotten to post.  I'm in the process of sketching around my apartment home this winter.  I LOVE looking back at my in-home sketches from Florida.  Just LOVE.  They bring me right back to the spots I enjoyed.  So I am doing the same here.

The window in the sketch looks a bit different from the way it looked then, as it is now in mid-December filled with the lovely snow out on our Sycamore.  The holidays are in full swing here now in Wisconsin.  The snow comes and goes.  So you never really know if it will be a white Christmas.  But if we have a little snow to remember, it'll be fine.  

My friend Lisa recently sent me her collection of all the old Christmas cards that I had hand painted over the years.  I had forgotten that I did that many!!  I wish it were not SO expensive now to do this.  Even the postage is up to 55 cents each!  I did love doing them.  The cabin in winter card painting is framed and hanging the wall here in Madison.  And I wish I could find the original of the birch tree shadows on snow at the bottom was the view out our window at 7 mile house. 

The dining room table scene is from 7 mile house...just before all the children arrived to have one of those memorable big family Christmases that you think will last forever...and come to find out they don't.  Time moves on.   

Looking at it, though, I can bring back that moment...the sun slanting through the dining room window.  All the grandchildren (12 of them) were so young...many still babes in arms.  A real fire in the fireplace crackling, hot rum drinks, games and presents, wet mittens, and so much food.  Looking at all these cards just brings back so many happy memories.  

I wish you all a hopeful, gentle and sweet Christmas.  I know it's just not like that every year.  There are so many losses and so many changes.  The Christmas cards and email greetings this year were fewer because of that. And old friends and family now live on in our memories.  

Our church here in Madison is focusing on the stars this year...somewhat based on photos from the James Webb telescope to inspire us!  Every song the choir sings has a star theme or a night sky theme.  Every sermon refers to our cosmic connection to the universe.

This has inspired me to do my own personal time line interpretation with a kind of "cosmic" background in many kinds of watercolor.  The center being a sort of black hole looking back a those who came before me.  Then the dots (starlike) on the spiral are events in my know them well from your own time line...births and graduations and losses and joys and the memorable events. 

Now as I approach the outward spiral of my life the events are closer and closer together just before I spiral off the time line back into the star dust of the universe.  The events are closer together because now I know that EVERY event and happening in the moments of my life are an "event" worth remembering.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Sycamore Tree Part II

The Sycamore Tree Series continues.  
These three will close out the series for the year 2022. The month of November in Wisconsin was filled with highly diverse weather...for the most part much warmer here than normal...barely light jacket weather many days including the day (Nov 2) when I did this sketch above.  And took many photos.  I sat directly under the tree and sketched en plein air for this one.  People dropping by to look over my shoulder and we visited about the tree, about sketching, and about life in general.  This is one of those plus things for outdoor sketching. And it's probably the last outdoor sketch day for many months.  But I took a lot of photos.  

This sketch above was done indoors but directly looking at the tree out our window (and some of the photos I took on November 16).  That day was our first very wet and beautiful snow fall in Madison.  The snow lasted about a week before disappearing.  These branches are highly visible from our window in Sycamore Tree House on 4th floor facing east.  I used toned paper, and graphite tinted watercolors in muted tones for the branch itself.  Then added white acrylic ink for the snow itself.  I shadowed the snow with cobalt blue Daniel Smith watercolor.  I always love how the seed balls on the tree get a snow cap that look for all the world like a child with a white hat. I've had several folks suggest it would make a nice Christmas card.  We've not had any real snow since then but pretty cold temperatures in the teens and single digits at night now.  


This last sketch done Nov 29 is from a photo taken back in early November sitting outside and looking straight up at the amazingly strange bark of the Sycamore.  The bark falls off as the tree expands...usually this happens in the late summer.  Big chunks of bark fall off and surround the base of tree.  The "patchwork" of texture left on some parts of the tree is smooth and in other places hugely textured and unusual.  Again I tried out the Derwent Graphitint Paint Pan set.  The colors are subtle and grainy.  They lean toward pinks, greens, golds and grays.  I think they will be nice for painting rocks too.  

Painting in a series has some interesting challenges.  I've kept the task to just this one amazing tree for now.  Looking at it from different angles, using different seasons and using different media.

There's been a lot of interest in it  among the residents of University Woods because it stands close to where some de-construction will soon take place.  The tree has been here a long time.  It's an unusual tree...probably the only Sycamore on the property and also it's unusual to see one this far north.  

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Sycamore Tree

And yet I know that hope is not a default, it is a choice, it is daily intention and action. 

Writing a better story is not a given, it is an intention,

 it is how we lean into the next great turning.

Carrie Newcomer

The Sycamore Tree to the east of our apartment in Oakwood University Woods is something of a "symbol" of the connection to nature that our community is committed to.  Although the campus contains 9 acres of oaks woodland forest through which we all love to amble regularly in all seasons of the year...this lone tree sits by itself as a sort of "welcome place holder" to the entry way to that area.  It is not brightly colored in fall...but it turns lovely subtle combination of gold, yellow, burnt sienna, and raw sienna each October.   The branches appear mottled colors of olive, browns, and grays.  Hanging from the branches in profusion are the seed pods of the tree (often called a Buttonwood Tree because of the pods).  They are perfectly round soft brown balls about the size of a ping pong ball.  The pods remain on the tree year round...dropping during the spring and summer as new pods appear so that the tree is never without them.  In winter, as you'll soon see, the tree looks as if it's been decorated with them.  Each pod snowcapped.  

Those of us who live in the Oaks at one end of the campus and especially those of us facing east...have come to embrace the tree as a an old friend.  Indeed in our apartment on the 4th floor it almost completely fills the entire window giving our apartment the name "The Sycamore Tree House".  Indeed we feel that we are nestled up in the branches.  When we have a stiff wind we almost get sea sick from the illusion of being tossed about!  

I've challenged myself to sketch the tree in various seasons and in various mediums this year.  (An early resolution).  Above is watercolor and ink.  Below is multi media crayon, ink, watercolor pencil, on toned paper.  


Saturday, October 15, 2022

Tangling Time this Fall


October and it's time for INKTOBER.

It is supposed to be done one day at a time through October.  But since I had Covid in September I finished it that month!  11 x 15

Here I am at Olbrich Gardens last weekend teaching 15 people how to Zentangle®.
They have a good set up there.  The only issue was the sound system was not working well.  
But we got through it.  

A dozen of the participants were brave enough to put their tiles up for a photo. I was very proud of their work.  

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Alone: if you are lucky

 To be alone at your desk or in your studio is not enough. You have to free yourself from the phantoms and inner critics who pursue you wherever you go. “When you start working,” said the composer John Cage, “everybody is in your studio ― the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas ― all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.”  Stephen Batchelor

Actually planning for "alone" time is not really luck.  It take some planning and some practice.  But when you achieve it...then time no longer has any meaning. You float along in a meditative way.  

This week I've been participating in a challenge program for CZT and other lovers of Zentangle®.  The kind of meditation that is very very freeing and hopeful.  Against the daily news each day...we all need to find ways to fight depression.  Besides a walk in the woods, Zentangle is the next best thing.

This week I've been working with "translucent" tiles...heavy vellum papers that allow you to see "partly" the other side of the tile.  Still working with 3.5" squares.  Much of what you see below is on BOTH sides.  You may not be able to tell which is front and which is back as they line up by my window in front of my beloved Sycamore Tree.

I've been experimenting on the side with using different medium

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Leaning in to Art...Leaning in to life

Thinking too much about painting is perhaps a little like reading about your car’s engine. It may be interesting enough, but it isn’t getting you to the grocery store for bread and milk. To the easel!  Christopher Volpe.

Oh my gosh.. I've had such "hankering" or yearning to get back to my painting lately.  I am up north right now so I don't have a lot of supplies with me.  I can keep up with my sketching...the observation of botanicals around me etc.  But I think I need to carry on a bit more.  I can't wait to get back to my studio in Madison.  (another week to go). 

So I am, in the interim, enjoying a "challenge" art project in Zentangle®.  That keeps my pens and pencils busy at least.  Part of the challenge is that the paper (or "tiles" as we tanglers refer to them) are translucent.  (Materials purchased from  

They are an interesting plastic combination of materials that are somewhat like the clear vellum you sometimes see in notecards.  The project above is a multi-media approach to a lovely tangle called Verdigogh
And actually if you click on that link and scroll all the way down you'll find the video information on how to do the exact project above. won't look quite the same without the special transparent paper.  Heavy tracing paper might work too.  Very fun.  Other materials are ink pens and pastel or chalk pencils.  And a graphite pencil too.  

Above is also from the Zentangle challenge project.  The major tangle is Hollibaugh and then the little fish-like tangles are actually on the back side of the paper and just show through.  There is lovely lovely sparkling silver pink ink for that bit.  

All the tiles are 3.5 x 3.5".  The project is every other day for a week or so.  So I'll keep you up to date on how this progresses.

If you are a subscriber to my blog you are going to find that it has dropped off from coming to you temporarily.  Feedburner, my subscription service has deserted me.  I am in the process of finding another one.  And I'll let you know as soon as I do.  I have no idea really who is subscribing to my blog so I am just sending this to a few folks and then asking you check back if you are interested in getting a note in your inbox telling you when I post on the blog.  

Monday, August 1, 2022

Sketches as "Shorthand" in my sketchbooks!

 “The sketch hunter moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook.”  Robert Henri

Never throw art away...well, let me rephrase, at least not without looking at it with a practiced eye.  Old paintings that did not work out?...I've tossed a number in my day, of course.  But it is a good idea to use a viewfinder or you old mats to see if maybe there might be a little hidden gem somewhere amidst the larger painting.  This is what happened here.  It's been so long I don't even remember what I was attempting with the larger format...but with a paper cutter or scissors I snipped some little sweet spots out of the painting and tucked them into an envelope to save.  This one was cut down to card size (5 x 7) and it was only after I discovered it that I added the ink, the shading, and line work.  I added the pine trees, some stones along the shore, highlighted the birch trees (which were there but not highlighted), darkened the shadows under the trees.  July...high summer green, green, green and this little painting says that.  

Voila..a lovely little vignette card to send to my grandson for his 21st birthday!  I think it's frame-able myself.  

Outside Oakwood Apartments in the conservancy is a little home made cage for moth and butterfly cocoons (in season).  And dear Gretchen makes it part of her spring and early summer hobby to curate the cocoons and chrysalis and then share them with residents for release. This screened.  

The Madison Urban Sketchers have been at it again...this time introducing me to the Biergarten on Lake Monona last Saturday.  (Note the Madison capital building in the bottom far right corner.). Pretty amazing view across the lake!

Gorgeous Saturday afternoon about 82 degrees and a light breeze...many folks out enjoying the cold beer (Greg and I had root beer floats.).  There were large home made soft pretzels for some folks and also brats.  But the sketchers were too busy to eat or drink much...lots of sketching going on.  People were paddle boating, canoeing, swimming, and having parties under tents.   (No life guard on duty but looks like once upon time there was!). On the beach was this dark old wood box that look for all the world like a coffin!  So I sketched it in.  Maybe Mr. Olbrich decided to stay in his park?  

You can tell we had a good turn out.  I'm standing WAY in the back row. And at that point I hadn't finished painting some things in.  

We are in Madison, obviously, for a few weeks.  Summer is lovely here and I don't want to miss the whole's been so windy, wet and cold up north.  But we'll leave August 9 (after we vote in the primary) for another two week try and hope weather will improve this time!!!  


Sunday, July 24, 2022

We are Here to Keep Watch, Not to Keep

 The astonishment is all in the being here. It is the turtle in the pond, the thought in the mind, the falling star, the stranger on Main Street… To all of this, loss, which seems only to take away, adds its own kind of necessary contribution. No matter what goes missing, the object you need or the person you love, the lessons are always the same. Disappearance reminds us to notice, transience to cherish, fragility to defend. Loss is a kind of external conscience, urging us to make better use of our finite days. Our crossing is a brief one, best spent bearing witness to all that we see: honoring what we find noble, tending what we know needs our care, recognizing that we are inseparably connected to all of it, including what is not yet upon us, including what is already gone. We are here to keep watch, not to keep. 

Kathryn Schulz (from her book Lost & Found)

I am not sure why the above struck me as appropriate for today's blog except that it "vibrated" with me somewhat as a tuning fork makes a hum with you wrap your fingers around it...vibrating your whole hand for a short time.   

Our first long summer stay at the cabin is wrapping up now...Four weeks...28 days.  Not so long in the scheme of things. We are here to keep watch, not to keep.  The cabin reminds me of things we are blessed with and so much also of what "cannot keep".  Our physical and mental selves savor the familiar lake and the Northwood smells and sounds differently now.  A real quiet descends upon us.  Deep quiet.  Wind, waves, pines, eagles, loons, wild storms, campfires, a canoe ride, wild flowers, etc etc. Things my husband has known and loved for well over 50 years.  Me, over 30.  

This time we spent time assessing things that we won't use again here and dismantling some to make room for the kids who we hope will want to keep the cabin someday and make it their own.  We still hope for some years here...but not the same way they "used to be". "Transience  to cherish...fragility to defend".  My art studio is being dismantled now (a small desk and shelf left by the window facing the lake.  We need the storage for other things and I don't need to duplicate a studio here anymore.  Greg's train tables came down.  He has his one train layout now in Madison.  He needs a work table and some storage instead.  

It is interesting that in the two summers starting with the pandemic summer in which we did not come here at all for the first time so much has changed.  Now it is as if everything has moved slightly so that we are looking at things from a different point of view.  It would have happened anyway, of course, but it's just that it's more than obvious now.  The change continues as the pandemic goes on.

We'll be back on August 9 or 10 for another shorter stay with more family headed up with us for awhile.  Then there will be more berries, more acorns, more pine cones, and the sumac will begin to turn just slightly as the ferns get dusty and turn yellow on the tips. We've seen it so many times.  

Spreading dogbane?  I've never noticed it before. What a lovely find and with a silken moth nest tucked in one leaf too!

The Boathouse is an older landmark in nearby Minocqua...a somewhat dusty and aging lakeside restaurant it turns out.  A bit of a disappointment on a sunny Thursday morning last week.  I was immediately taken in by the signage, however, which I found so interesting AND a real challenge as well.  Who knew there was a beer called "Bell's Oberon"?  Or "Landshark Lager"?  I was inspired after reading about a delightful artist named Doris Rifkin who loves to incorporate signs into her paintings.  If you google her you'll find dozens of wonderful paintings full of print. 

I hope I didn't already post this sketch.  I may have.  It's my bags full of art supplies coming up to the cabin which are now filling up again for the return trip.  Done in water-soluble tinted graphite.  

The cabin nestled into the forest from the road side.
(Lake on the other side.). Our car is covered in a gray car cover off the left side behind the trees.  A blue bag of recycle waiting for us to take to the recycle.  There's a group of large trees just to the left of the door.  One of those fell this spring in a wind storm.  Toward the cabin!!!!
BUT just missed major damage by falling where those trash cans are sitting and then getting hung up in the upper branches!  HOW lucky was that.  


Friday, July 15, 2022

Summer Thoughts

You're braver than you believe, 

stronger than you seem, 

and smarter than you think.

 (AA Milne)

The cabin, as the summer moves along, simmers into the routines that becomes a kind of mesmerizing center of our world.  The climate, the smells, the sounds are so different from our other life.  A life of wood smoke, piney smells, marshmallows and tiny flowers.  A life of quiet or wild storms, lapping lakeside water at the pier.  Reading on the summer porch, drawing in the studio, examining a weevil, watching caterpillars eat.  The gorgeous berry colors, the pesky mosquitoes, baking cookies in the old oven, streaming church on the computer, wearing flannel shirts and jeans, seeing so many stars.  SO quiet here. 

Sitting on the pier and looking down into the water.  Smiling over the plethora of rocks...where have they been for all those years?  Rolling around in this lake or along the shores...boulders now broken into stones.  Old, old, old.  Thinking about that new telescope now showing us photos of our universe beyond our dreaming...surely where those rocks came from originally?  My grandsons skip them across the dark waves.  Sending them back to roll in again some day.  

Family comes and goes.  Good times.  Memories.  


Saturday, July 9, 2022

July Cabin Sketches

 Ability comes from the doing.  

And in the meantime drawing is solely for our own pleasure.

You will slowly feel its warming effect on your spirit and I guarantee it will bring happiness and connect you to this wonderful world of ours. 

Faith in this creative process, and faith in your ability to achieve it, 

can change your life.

Carol Peebles

Monday, July 4, 2022

Cabin Time

 And yet I know that hope is not a default, it is a choice, it is daily intention and action. Writing a better story is not a given, it is an intention, it is how we lean into the next great turning.

Carrie Newcomer

There is an amazing "aura" about time at the takes about a week for me to "fall" into the ambiance of a the new-old ways of cabin life.  Ever so slowly my metabolism slows down and I begin rise and wake with the sun again.  To hear the frogs and birds more closely to smell the lake and breathe more deeply.  To smile over the smell of cinnamon French toast in the morning, to sit with my book in late evenings and watch the wild storms sweep over the water.  To really "see" the verge flowers along the road again.  

Time on the deck with my sketchbook letting my breathing go slow again...following the flow of the ink and waving at friends at boats going by.  Smelling the woodsmoke, sharing stories over wine and feeling the sun on your back.  Intent on writing a better story* (based on the old memories).  Welcome to summer at the cabin. 

*Having my two daughters with us this week has been SO delightful. 
I can't thank them enough for a wonderful week together.  Great food, great stories, great memories, wonderful help, laughter. As we "lean into the next great turning." 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Officially Summer

It was a lovely weather day on Saturday for the Urban Sketchers to gather at Wingra Boats on Lake Wingra.  Very festive...lots of families celebrating with balloons, people out padding on various rental boats available, sitting out on the patio or putting their boats in at the public launch.  
    I was drawn to a small building just at the edge of the walking path which was labeled "Hobbit House" and wondered how it is used.  No clues were given and it might just be a storage place.  But I had to include it.  Along side it were stored many of those new paddle boats that people stand on while they paddle about on calm days.  The darling "fish" sign was really quite large by the way...several feet long and wide.  Brightly painted.  Many kayaks to rent, of course, and a duck paddle boat I'll have to sketch another day.
It was our 32nd anniversary this week and so after the sketch time we went out to eat strawberry waffles.  Yum.    


Sometimes it just nice to sketch a "moment in time".  A quiet little half an hour after supper one evening just off the sun room here at our apartment complex.  It has been VERY warm with dramatically hot day time temperatures close to 100 degrees.  So being outside for awhile in the evening in a shady spot seemed just right.  The signs on the pots tell which of the residents maintain their "pot garden" and the pole is called a "peace pole".  They are also resident created.  (Mine is in another garden.). 

This week we'll take a short trip to Poynette to visit family and see our great grandson, Ollie, who is sprouting up like a summer plant!  He's 7 months old already!  Then on the weekend more family gatherings to celebrate the beginning of summer and a birthday party too.  

We are headed off the cabin next week over the 4th and through the month of July.  So I will no doubt be posting some cabin thoughts and sketches from up there.  

Friday, June 17, 2022

Lovely June Days in Madison

Today was a sketching opportunity day.  It was, first off, a lovely June day in the low 80s with tons of sunshine.  No storms heading our way.  (We've had a lot of scary ones in Madison lately).  

So that was good.  But also it was our 32nd anniversary!  Our wedding day that long-ago June was lovely too.  Lucky us.  This morning University Woods had "Donuts for Dads" which was just a fun little Happy Father's Day weekend deal...good time for visiting and catching up with folks.  Then I took a short walk in the woods afterwards and sat under the lush green trees for an hour and just listened to the birds!  

Then after lunch we attended a darling little Model A car show in the Heritage Circle and I couldn't resist this one.  

A nice weekend will follow with Urban sketching at Wingra Boats in the morning, pancake lunch for our anniversary meal (at our age you get to do whatever you want) and then am hoping that there is time for a Face Time visit with my sister later in the afternoon.

About a week until we leave for the cabin again.  Lots to fit into that including lots of family get togethers.  Hope your weekend is good wherever you are!  

Sunday, June 5, 2022

June in Wisconsin

View of Mush Gush Island toward the north end of Lake Tippecanoe
wc in sketchbook
The 9 days at the cabin over Memorial Day were not the best weather for sure.  LOTS of rain, pretty cold, and lots of mosquitoes and ticks. But we've been going there in May for a billion springs so this was not new news.  But one always "hopes" for a miracle.  Still we had a good week and the drive up and back went just fine (although it cost a fortune in gas just to drive 4 hours!).  This sketch on Memorial Day from Betty's shore line shows how our little island are diminished more each summer by high water.  There were gray gray skies that day and gray gray water.  Later in the week we got high winds and huge whitecaps on the lake.  Kinda scary in a woods.  Let's hope things look more summery when we go back up the end of June!  


Acrylic on canvas: 16 x 20
Hydrangas, Mixed Bouquet, White Lilacs

I did bring back some paintings I had stored at the cabin over the years...all painted in Florida over the 12 years we lived there.  I have never hung them together before.  I was amazed that I picked cobalt blue for the background on all 3 which is nice as it makes them look more like a grouping!  I thought they make a cheery summery setting in our dining room here in Madison.  Right in front of flowers from Julies' lovely garden!

Ink and Watercolor sketch in 9 x 12 notebook
from photo of Venice

This sketch and watercolor was done this afternoon during an online streamed class with Brenda Murray at Studio 56.  She supplied the photo that she took in Venice.  And she talked about 35 of us through it over the space of about an hour and a half.  A very nice afternoon.  

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Courage Cards and Hope

May 14th in Julie's garden in Madison, WI
Her garden in early spring is to die for.  
Really...I can't paint fast enough.

These are birthday and graduation cards.  
Well, the ones on the left and right are birthday book marks.
Zentangle on tinted paper with white shading using white charcoal pencil and white pens.
The center one is a grandson's graduation card.  

This is a 2 part online zoom class called "Courage Cards" 
given my Esther Piszczek.
I've just finished Part I so these are just the beginning of the project.
Esther is a Zentangle® artist. Here's her link.

Back side of the cards in design of your choice.  I used spatter watercolor and also some stencil prints as well as Gelli prints glued onto the back of the cards. (about 4 x 6)
It seems appropriate to be talking about courage in these dark time.
The entire world has been affected by wars and mass shootings and pandemics and loss.  We need music and art more than ever before to sustain our souls and give us courage.  

Greg and I are up north at the cabin for a week now (in the rain mostly unfortunately). Of the 4 days up here in Lac du Flambeau it's rained 3 days.  Sigh.  

But it's that time of year when we try to get things open and ready for the summer to follow.  Hopefully it will follow!  It's a sleepy time for baking cookies and looking for the jigsaw puzzles and cleaning cupboards and we had hoped to do a little raking but apparently not this time up.  We'll be back up the end of June and through the month of July.   


Friday, May 13, 2022

Reminding you to Pay Attention

My Mother's Day gift is a surprise!

Julie took this photo right after I opened the amazing gift card to a local art store here in Madison.  I may have been a bit extravagant in my reaction but stuff is just a lot of fun and it was a lovely gift.  And thinking about how to spend it will be VERY fun.  My kids are really quite something and I am crazy about all 3 of them.  (Beth is in CA, Rick is in Lemont, IL and Julie lives 3 miles away here in Madison.)

When friend, Bill, recently asked me "what's your blog about". I think I said "mostly art stuff" which is true.  But when I look back over the blog posts over the many years I've been doing's surely more than that.  It may "revolve" around art as a theme but it's about my attention to life in general.  Flipping back through posts is a little like a journal of what was up with me at the time.  

It's about what I pay attention to.  You can see if you read the little "bit" by Mary Oliver under the title of my blog that "paying attention" is totally what I'm all about.  And using art as a focus for that is very helpful.  

The Cards

The latest excursion on May 7 that the Madison Urban Sketch group made was out to the Pinney Library on the East Side.  Members of the group suggest places and the leader (Deborah) makes the final decision and usually "hosts" the gatherings unless she can't be there.  Some "urban" groups call themselves "expeditionary" artists.  I think that's kind of a fun term.  Off on an "expedition" sort of says what we hope for.  These are often to places we've never been to before.  Sketching at a library was a first for me.  But sketching anywhere is obviously the name of the game.  
This was a small group...can be up to a dozen or so.  
At the end of a few hours we throw down our sketches and visit a bit about them afterwards. 
I am hosting the group the first Saturday in June to our 9 acre woodland walk here at Oakwood.  Crossing fingers on good weather.

The walks in our Oakwood nature preserve in spring are amazing.  
And right now (after a week of way above average temps) everything is popping out like crazy!!!  I hope to get out there again today to see what's up now!  

One last photo taken this past Tuesday...this is the gravesite of my mom and dad at Oakhill cemetery in Lake Geneva.  On this grave plot are also my grandparents and their infant son who died at 2 days old. AND my great grandparents are nearby.  Lake Geneva holds the roots of my mother's side of the family.  She was born here in an old house on Water Street that still stands.  And I have lived within this southern Wisconsin town most of my adult Fontana, Williams Bay and Elkhorn. And I taught school in Lake Geneva for over 30 years.  It's the "home place"   And this old cemetery is now on the historical register.  

This is where Greg and I will someday settle down like in "Our Town" above the lovely old town that is in my history and not too far from Beloit/Janesville where Greg's growing up memories lie.  His mom is buried in Clinton.  We stopped to put flowers on her grave on Tuesday too.  And we visited his mother's sister's grave in Shopiere..Aunt Corkie who lived to almost 102.  What an amazing woman!  

Now we begin plans for the garden at Julie's...celebrate some family birthdays and graduations coming up. And plan for some time at the family cabin up in Lac du Flambeau later in May.  Wishing you all a great month of May!

Our 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren keep us busy.  Here is Greg's lovely grandson Eric who will graduate from Luther college and head off to seminary.  We hope to stream the graduation which is in MN Saturday morning!