Things I can’t Control

Dust Devils, 9×12, Watercolor

These are dust devils in eastern Washington. They rise up from the dusty Palouse and wheat fields especially after the wheat has just been harvested.
I love them because they are proof that, even though, on the surface, the land has been thoroughly tamed by humans, there are some things we can’t control.

Each time I see them they inspire awe. Also, the recognition of dust bunnies … I mean Devils … as something that can’t be controlled is a great metaphor for the way I keep my house.


Highway to Eyjafjallajökull


The highway to the volcano Hekkla,  once known as the gateway to hell, was closed when we were in Iceland in the fall, as an increase in seismic activity had the geologists concerned that the eruption which had been overdue should be upgraded to status imminent.

We didn’t get to see any eruptions, but we did get a look at Hekkla’s sister, Eyjafjallajökull, which had been slightly hellish just a few years ago. From where we stood, however, the road to hell was gorgeous.

I found myself painting this a few times in my watercolor journal and again when I got home, and the results were always similar. The paintings were never faithful copied of my photographs but, rather interpretations of the vivid beauty and vastness of land that had been ravaged but then recovered.

I kept coming back to that theme of land and people recovering and digging out from the ashes, stronger than before. I go back to it even now, months later, and it helps me to temper my fears.


Moonlight in Vermont

So my 16 and 10-year-old would be ashamed to admit it, but their pudgy middle-age mom dances when she paints landscapes. The more abstract the pic and wild the beat of the music, the more energetic and embarrassing –for the kids anyway — the dancing. My dancing is so bad that the only time I can really get away with it is in the middle of the night, which is how this painting happened.

WItching hour has become the painting hour for me. When there’s a full moon, it’s bark at the moon time for the dog. That’s how I ended up outside in the yard, keeping the dog on a leash and getting off of mine.

It’s a crystal clear night, and there are a large patches of muddy grass. There’s still a bit of snow, however. I waited for the dog to do her business without waking up the neighborhood, and was forced to take the time to really look at A moonlit winters night for the first time in a long time.

Seeing the variations in color different reflections made me realize how much depth there is to the night, and I started thinking of late night drives through the rolling countryside in Vermont and Washington county in New York State. The dog caught the scent of something, and I let her sniff at the end of the leash for a few minutes why drink in scenery.

And that’s how I ended up dancing in studio under the moonlight at 1 AM this morning. I highly recommend it.

Chasing Frogs

It’s just barely past witching hour, and I’ve been chasing on paper one of those Lake Michigan days when it’s too rough to swim past your knees and too wild to stay cooped up inside away from the beach.

This is my favorite so far, but I’m still not sure if it’s a frog or a prince. But there’s a few hours before the sun come up, so I still have time to kiss a few more toads. And the hunt is a satisfying as the catch.

Resolutions are Made to not be Made

So I made a new resolution this year to not make any over the top resolutions. It’s an adjustment from my usual habit of promising myself that, somehow, I will eat no carbs or go oil-free vegan and run every single day because January first will cast a magic aura of average human willpower that I have somehow missed all of the last 40-odd January firsts and seconds and thirds and so on.

So this year, I’m resolving to pick the battles that matter — keeping the kids on track, keeping the house from falling down around our ears, keeping my sanity — and that I have a teeny chance of winning (well, all except for that sanity part).  The diets, the supermodel exercise routines are going by the wayside in favor of something more sustainable – moderation.

(repost of a cartoon from 2015)

Winter Roads


Winter Roads, 12×16 Watercolor

I’m getting paintings together for a winter show at the Spiral Press cafe in Manchester, VT and have been struggling to find a cohesive theme. But shorter days and cocooning are helping me find it.

You’d think the snow-covered mountains would provide obvious inspiration, but I’m an odd duck and it’s the mud and bare trees that get my brush going. There’s something inspirational in the cocooning too – not explosive like geysers and volcanos but soothing.  Right now, soothing is just what is needed.