Peacock Power….

There’s still a rural quality about Corrales, despite the growth and traffic that now abound.  The sign that greets all drivers as you approach the village makes it clear that animals…originally it actually said Coyotes…live here and are welcomed.

The sounds of the animals around this small compound where my casita is located are music to my heart.  There are two goats in the front yard, horses nearby and a small organic farm with a flock of chickens to the South. What I didn’t expect to see was a large peacock strutting around the compound…and then to discover there were several more in an enclosure in the neighbor’s yard.  This handsome bird is the largest male and has free roam of the place, at least during the winter.  I welcomed his frequent visits as his curiosity sometimes brought him to my front door with a peek inside while remaining aloof and wild. This was a proud bird…no household pet…and I admired that. I also noticed that his tail was just a short stub, following a molting season, and I resonated with that too. The decision to move had been difficult and I felt a bit shorn of my own sense of security.

DSC_1481Watching the daily rounds of this wandering beauty taught me to look for him outside the back window where he liked to sun himself and catch the last warmth of the day as the nights began to cool down. I also discovered that any noise I would make in the studio…like stretching canvas with a staple gun…would bring him to the window in a flash. It would make me laugh out loud to suddenly see this quizzical face staring at me as if asking “what’s the racket all about?”  Sometimes, (maybe when he was bored?) he would simply come to the window and tap on it with his beak.

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DSC_1390 - Version 2It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was the next Icon in the making and I began the process of drawing up possible designs. One day, while drawing the pattern of tail feathers, I heard him fly onto the roof and walk over to the spot right above my head. I silently asked if this met his approval…and felt that it did…as long as I did him justice.

So, as his tail has grown to trail on the ground, I’ve been allowing this work to grow into a triptych by adding doors to the original layout. The boards were cut, gessoed and sanded, then the design traced on and finally the gold leaf placed on the center panel.

I’m now in the process of painting with egg tempera and enjoying the surprises that emerge each day. These pigments are so beautifully translucent! They lend themselves to layers of color that blend as they overlap on the board, while allowing the light to bounce through them and back again.

I’m adding a photo as a bit of a tease…a peek into what is evolving. The work is far from finished but coming along quickly. These doors will include a touch of gold when completed and all the board edges will be given another coat of red clay before the final varnishing. In a few weeks I should be able to share the whole painting with you.

DSC_1530I haven’t seen “himself” for the past few weeks as he’s busy contributing to the next generation of peacocks during this Spring mating season.  I do hope to see him out and about again and especially look forward to the day I see him display his gorgeous new tail.  He’s taught me a few things about not being afraid to let your light shine.

It feels like Spring…and new beginnings

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The change of light as the days lengthen and the scentphoto - Version 2 of almond tree blossoms have roused me from a long period of transition and reflection.  The past six months have seen some major changes in my life, including a move into a new studio space in Corrales, NM.  This sweet casita has been a perfect nesting space as I searched for a deeper connection within, which allowed the gestation of new purpose in my artwork.

So now, finally, there are some things to share with the world.

The first is a long awaited poster of “Gaia,” hot off the press.

Gaia Poster.shop.24x30This beautiful, 30″ x 24″, poster comes from the request of some people I met at a small Christmas sale, shared with Melanie Weidner, in December.  It caught my attention, as out of such a small gathering this same request was repeated again and again. I realized that I, too, have longed to have a large, yet affordable, print that would transmit the detail and impact of the image.  The color and quality of this printing has exceeded my expectations.

I’m happy to make it available to you on my newly revised website through Paypal.

It will also be featured at my next sales event in Albuquerque during the 3rd Annual Women & Creativity presentation, We Are of Water, at St. Mark’s on the Mesa Episcopal Church, 431 Richmond Place, Albuquerque, on Sunday, March 23, 2014, 3-5 pm.

The other “new” works now available are the gicleés of Mountain Lion and Little Duck.  The Little Duck painting was an early one completed in 2008, yet overlooked in the process of making gicleés, so I’m glad to have her among the group now.  Mountain Lion shines in all her regal glory and is available in both full size, 14″ x 11″, and in the smaller 11″ x 8.5″ formats.  They, along with all the Egg Tempera Icons, are also on my website.

Mountain Lion.edit2Little Duck -edit2Most recently I’ve been happily working on a new Icon painting of Peacock.  The story of how I met this Peacock here at my new casita is one I’ll share on the next posting…in a few days.  It’s been a comical encounter that has led to creating my first triptych, which says something about how much this creature has impacted me.  I also hope to have this work ready for viewing during the upcoming event on March 23rd.
See you there….

Still catching up on events…

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This is an event that has become dear to my heart and I want to share it with you now, even as we have moved into Spring.  It’s something to look forward to each year.

The Open Space Visitor’s Center has sponsored a Winter Solstice Mandala creation for the past three years and I’ve been happy to be a part of it.  It’s becoming a tradition that many of us look forward to as a special way to celebrate the Solstice.  Since the date 12/21/2012 was so anticipated as a time of shifting into a new era we agreed as a group to honor our own cosmic “neighborhood”, our Milky Way Galaxy.  It was a great collaboration with lots of children involved, including a number of my own grandchildren.  What a fun way to spend a lovely winter morning.

Thank you Elke, for sharing this video with us…

Events that inspired and stretched…

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During this past year a number of unexpected requests and suggestions came my way and opened the doors to new challenges and experiences. A few of them I accepted reluctantly because, as usual, all I really wanted to do was paint and take leisurely walks in nature. Here are two of them to share with you today…

Well, “Arte Encantado”, was a complete surprise in the form of an NEA (National Endowment of the Arts) grant to the City of Albuquerque for a summer arts program dedicated to students at Cleveland Middle School, a Title 1 school. The planning began in January and the event took place in early June, 2012. I was invited to be the drawing/painting presenting artist while others presented in writing/journaling, percussion with recycled materials, sculpture and poetry/performing arts. “The artists will provide programming that emphasizes the interplay of art, music, history, science, and ecology as it relates to Albuquerque.” (NEA grant) It was a great program and gave the students a wonderful experience of interacting with professional artists.

It was also a real stretch for me as I haven’t ventured into the world of education very often…especially middle school! My two daughters are both teachers and I have the greatest respect for them and their work but could never see myself in their shoes. So I enlisted one of them as my assistant to guide me through the classroom activities and together we developed a plan that included a morning spent in the bosque forest near the BioPark, with sketching and journaling. I especially focused on time spent there in stillness and quiet in order to allow the sense of place to sink in. It was a thrill to see these kids really move into this exercise and produce work that spoke of the experience. During the afternoon, when it was too hot to be outdoors, we went back to a classroom at the BioPark to develop the sketches into watercolor paintings…and again they amazed me with their insights. I hope the city will continue to offer more art programs of this kind.

Then a good friend told me about a new art residency being offered by the Benedictine sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, in Cottonwood, Idaho. This community has expanded their work to include an opportunity for integration of spirituality and the arts. I applied and was accepted to the program for a three week stay in October, 2012.

This proved to be another stretching experience as it involved an immersion into the rhythm of monastic life and living with the community. In exchange for free room and board, plus a studio space, the artists donated time each evening doing the dishes…with help from the nuns, of course. The monastery has a lively schedule of workshops and retreats so there wasn’t nearly the amount of quiet time as I had expected. We were free to make our choices about private time vs. participation while respecting our own need for solitude and artwork. I enjoyed the morning and late afternoon chanting in the chapel, many long hikes up the mountain behind the monastery with time spent in the gorgeous forest they care for, the wonderful view of the Camas Prairie from the window in my studio space, along with lots of meditation time. And I came home stronger and fitter from doing four flights of stairs to and from my studio at least five times a day. During my stay I began working on an Icon of Mountain Lion and gave a presentation of my work at an evening gathering. We formed some close bonds of friendship and mutual respect during this special time.IMG_1410IMG_1328 IMG_1426

One year later…

Well, how did I manage to do so much this past year and never get around to sharing any of it on my blog?  It’s really not that difficult for an introverted painter who thinks more in images than in words…but it does seem high time to get back in gear with writing!

Let me begin by introducing new paintings from 2012…

Here is “Courage of Salmon”…an intimate look at a Salmon who is navigating a salmon ladder while heading upstream to it’s spawning place.  “Searching for Salmon” was the introductory series of blogs that started me on this endeavor in September of 2011.   This painting took me through a long process of choice making in accepting the limitations of working on a small panel, 9″x7″, in order to fit into the Celtic Prayer series that inspired it.  Someday there may be another painting of Salmon, on a larger scale, that speaks of the epic journey they endure.

There’s so much for us to learn from salmon, especially how the survival of all species rests in facing the necessary journey of change in our own lives with courage…and even enthusiasm!

Courage of Salmon“Courage of Salmon”, 9″x 7″

Next is Gray Wolf…who called me to respond to all the impulses to paint the primary representative of wild spirit.  I also responded to the many request from others who were getting impatient for this one!

I love the intense, confident expression on this wolf’s face, including a hint of humor.  The border design represents the web of life, as each of the elements remind us how all of life is interconnected.

Wolves are our best teachers on how to achieve a balanced ecosystem.

Gray Wolf“Gray Wolf”,  12″x 12″

and then there is Wapiti / Elk…

Elk represents great strength and power but is especially known for stamina.  Their antlers also denote a connection to higher energies from the life force of the universe.

This regal creature is one I met during my journey in northern California as I searched for the Salmon.  He is a Roosevelt Elk, the largest of the Elk family that inhabits the northwest coastlands.  I encountered him near the Redwood forest while camping at Gold Bluffs beach.  Since it was late September, with the rutting season starting, this stag walked along the beach every evening at sunset, surveying his kingdom.  One morning as I returned from my own walk I found him grazing near my tent and he graciously posed for a photo session.

This painting was a joy to work on as I moved into new materials by choosing a traditional Icon board and gold leaf to portray the sacredness I had felt in his presence.

Wapiti2“Wapiti / Elk”,  14″x 11″

The learning process for water gilding was quite a long digression during last summer.  Once again I was taking on a new method without finding an experienced teacher and it took extensive research and practice.  I discovered that this kind of gilding is a real challenge in a hot desert climate…in the summer.  But it can be done, and I’m still searching for a teacher.

The solid wood Icon boards are beautiful to work with so I’m continuing on this path while completing the images that came to me in 2012.  Mountain Lion is waiting for the final glazes in oil and will soon be presented here.  Also, a white Egyptian Temple cat is just about to go onto a board and will be ready in a month or so.  I never really know how long it will take…the listening process is always an unknown factor.

So I will be back soon to share with you my first experience with an art residency last October and upcoming plans for another Gifting Circle later this year.  Blessings!

Icons of Nature Gifting Circle

The Earth’s cycle has come back around to Spring Equinox again, and so quickly that it caught me by surprise!

It’s time to prepare for another round of sharing these paintings with those who will receive them as gift, and as a means of communing with Earth through these images from the animal world. The intention stated on the back of each painting is:

This original egg tempera painting has been created as an ‘Icon of Nature’ to honor this particular animal who represents his or her species. My intention in creating this image is simply to remind myself, and others, that all life forms are sacred and that a relationship of reverence and respect is needed if all species are to coexist and thrive on Mother Earth. I invite you to enjoy this image and interact with it in a prayerful manner. The Icons in this collection of work are available to be housed for six months and then returned so that another home may welcome it. In this way the animals may speak their healing message to many, as we listen with our hearts to the collective needs of Mother Earth and find our own unique ways to respond.

I’ve been particularly inspired to continue this work by reading Charles Eisenstein’s book “Sacred Economics: Gift, Money and Society in the Age of Transition.” In keeping with one of the main themes in the book he has made the full text available online as a gift. I love both the integrity and generosity of that act…and the way it inspires many of us to shift our own attitudes towards money. I encourage you to check out this important contribution to our world at this crucial time.

Following last year’s initial experiment of sending these Icons out into people’s lives, I was delighted to hear the impact this had on them in some small, yet significant ways. I look forward to hearing the accounts of what new changes or shifts happen in those who will house them this season, and I will try to bring some of those stories to this blog so we can all learn from the shared experience.

This year we have nine participants, who will allow the paintings to choose them through a drawing of names, the same way they were chosen to be the participants. This is a shift from last year when people chose outright which painting was speaking to them. It will be interesting to practice listening to that which we may not have felt connected to before. There are four new paintings added to the mix this time around, with birds in the majority, as these are the ones I encounter most often. I can see that in my painting choices this year I’ll have to give some equal attention to other species, including the mammals and aquatic members of our earth community. Requests are also coming in and Wolf is high on the list. I’m definitely going to have to do more traveling to wilderness and coastlands!

The ceremony will take place on March 25, 2012 as we gather to celebrate the Equinox. May this giving and receiving be a conduit for consciousness to rise to new levels within us all.

A Valentine to Mother Earth

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

This year it feels more than appropriate to create a Valentine for Mother Earth and reflect on all the ways she’s needing our love. As I worked on this collage it was enlightening to listen to a recording from a new, free, teleseminar that I just subscribed to, organized by Rose Diamond in New Zealand. She named this series “True Wealth: Seeding a resilient new culture together. Check it out if you’re interested in the exciting developments in New Zealand and around the world.

This Valentine collage includes a few of my favorite photos taken during travels over the past few years, with the exception of porcupine, sent to me recently by a dear friend. They represent some of the sacred beings I hope to paint in the coming year. As usual, I placed the images in the corresponding directions and send this out as yet another prayer for protection of all the wildlife, everywhere.

May the passion for all of life warm your hearts!

Winter Solstice Mandala

On Sunday morning, December 18, 2011, I was delighted to participate in creating a seed mandala for feeding wildlife at the Open Space Visitors Center in Albuquerque, NM.

This Solstice event was planned by the OSVC Gallery Director Joshua Willis who invited me to design the mandala and help prepare the site for the event.  Joshua requested that a toad be featured in the design as a reminder of how sensitive we must all become to our natural environment.  There are a lot of Woodhouse toads on the property of OSVC, which is a very good indicator of the work that has been done to restore balance to the land in the area.  I added the sun pattern to celebrate the Solstice and also the elements of earth, air, water and fire to mark the directions.

We were blessed with beautiful weather, a wonderful group of participants and some talented photographers who recorded it all.  The birds were the guests of honor and they kept a careful watch on the proceedings, flying in as we finished preparing the feast.   What a perfect way to celebrate the season.

Thank you Elke for this video!

Screech Owl

Screech Owl

This past summer a Screech Owl enjoyed hunting in our backyard. One night in particular I was delighted to catch sight of her as she silently flew into the yard and landed on the clothesline. I’d seen bird droppings earlier that day just below this spot and wondered who had been perched there overnight. Now I knew who the visitor was. A family of mice had been nesting under the fence along the property line and the owl waited patiently. Suddenly, she silently dove like a flash but came up empty and landed back on the clothesline for more waiting. When she dove again and didn’t return I assumed she’d gotten her prey and wished her well. The next morning a small owl pellet was on the chair beneath her perch. What a treat! Careful examination of the pellet revealed tiny mouse bones and fur.

I added moths to the painting as other symbols of transcendence in the night and enjoyed working them into the border design. Gradually, I realized the image was beginning to resemble a page from a children’s book, and I smiled as I dedicated it to my 7 year old grandson Eladio, who loves owls. He delights in having them roost in the trees in his yard and call to him at night. Barn Owls and Screech Owls are prevalent in his rural New Mexico town during the summer months and then in the fall the Great Horned Owls return.

The Screech Owl in this painting is one of the educational birds of Wildlife Rescue Inc. of New Mexico which I photographed last Spring at Photo Wild!, a special event for photographers and artists. She was having a hard time staying awake as the morning progressed and I was grateful to get a photo of her with her eyes fully open and alert. Sorry, little bird for keeping you up way past your bedtime.

And thank you Eladio, for inspiring me to wait up at night and watch for the owls to return.


Santa Cruz

How do you describe a week in Santa Cruz, CA? It finally occurred to me that a video would be the best answer, and so here is a slideshow of some of my photos from this trip. The music of Pat Humphries, of Emma’s Revolution, “Swimming to the Other Side” is one of my favorites.

The seals, egrets, otters, pelicans, gulls, Monarch butterflies, banana slugs, redwoods, jellyfish, dragonfish, sea turtle, seahorse and patterned rocks will all be dancing their way into new Icons. The women who housed, fed, transported, nurtured and guided me while I was there have already become true soul sisters and have danced into my heart. Thank you Diana, Ellen, Felicity, Jess, Majio and Ursi. You all inspire me.

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