Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Year's Pudu

I made this little painting as a Christmas present for my friend who shares my love of Pudus - the smallest deer in the world. The black background was inspired by a show of seventeenth century Dutch paintings I saw in Vancouver last month. This painting looks dramatic but is only 5x7 inches.

I don't know who took this picture but the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle had a baby pudu a while ago so maybe this picture is from there. Even if you don't like cute animals (really?) this baby has to make you say "aaawww". The mother is less than two feet tall.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice

Huckleberry looked so wonderful and black yesterday on the darkest day of the year. Now it is the Solstice we can look to the sky again for warmth and light. Or, on dark rainy days like this we can at least eat sun-shaped traditional Scottish solstice shortbreads.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Huckleberry Shows How It's Done

After posting about Opal not camouflaging herself very well this morning, I found Huckleberry sleeping on my fake fur coat. He is so competetive.


If Christmas preparations are feeling hectic why not take a moment to hide away somewhere quiet? I spent the afternoon in the studio yesterday finishing this painting. It was so cosy and peaceful. I know just how Opal feels hiding away in the grass, though she isn't as well camouflaged as she thinks she is!

The painting is oil on birch panel and measures 12"x12".

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sweater Weather

I have been thinking about the sweater trees that I posted last month. They look a lot like Liz Tran's paintings which I saw recently at Monarch Gallery in Seattle. (Thanks Susan Melrath for pointing this out.)

Last night Isobel and I visited the Seattle Art Museum and saw the wonderful Nick Cave sculptures/costumes called Soundsuits.

(These images come from the Jack Shainman Gallery web site.)

There is a You Tube link to a film about Nick Cave's work here. The sweater soundsuits appear at about three and a half minutes.

Stay warm everyone and top up your bird feeders with food and hot water. Those little guys can't wear sweaters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wow Cold

Does the record breaking cold this week mean that I'll have to replace my rosemary plants again in the spring. Grrr. Brrr. The frost is pretty though, and the sky is so clear that I feel energized.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Sky is Round Them Still

The Autumn (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them -
The summer flowers depart -
Sit still - as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, -
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come - as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind - view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill -
In spring, the sky encircled them -
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe - come winter's cold -
Come change - and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.

This painting is part of a series of the seasons painted for my friend Nina. It is oil on panel and measures 9"x12". You can see the summer painting here. And the winter painting here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going Nutty (and maybe barking mad)

I looked around the neighbourhood for autumn leaves and nuts. These sycamore trees are such fun with their pom poms.

Their bark looks just like dried mud.

I brought home some treasures for my studio collection - all picked up off the ground.

Bright pink acorns.

Glossy and prickly chestnuts.

A handful of chestnut shells looks a lot like...

...baby hedgehogs.
(This picture is making the rounds of the internet and I don't know who took it. Sadly this is not my hand holding baby hedgehogs.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snowberry Mouse

Winter is coming and I am looking forward to painting some snowy landscapes with animals in white fur coats. This little mouse looks like she is trying to shake some berries loose. Hmm. I don't know if they are edible. Be careful mouse.

My new snowberry bush survived the hot summer but didn't make any berries so I bought another one that has berries. It is still in its pot beside my easel in the studio. More snowberry paintings soon...
This little study is five inches wide and is oil on birch panel.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

सम कोलोर फॉर

With finches on my mind I painted this little study showing my new Calicarpa (Beauty Bush) that I love so much. The painting is only 5"x7".
The title of this blog post is turning into some other language as I type it. I wonder what language it is...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

His Eye Is On the Sparrow

I have been working through the stormy weather as the rain blatters against the studio windows and the furniture on the roof deck rumbles around above me in the wind. This is weather for anguish. Weather for heartache. The glowering clouds sometimes part at sunset revealing a bruised sky of such breathtaking beauty it is like a revelation.

I cut some sunflower stalks and brought them into the studio. One is seven feet tall and I keep walking into it by accident, crashing it to the ground in a machine-gun spray of little black seeds and twisted leaves. It's a mess up there.

I have been listening to a church song, though I am not a believer in the comforts of religion. I do believe in music and in nature and in friendships. "His Eye Is On the Sparrow" is about finding solace in a difficult environment.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

You can see the great Mahalia Jackson sing it here.

This painting will be shown at the opening of a new store here in Seattle called "Finch and Sparrow", so I painted the two birds as friends having a conversation in their beautiful surroundings. (There will be an opening party for the store Friday, 27th from 4-8 and you are invited!) I hope that people don't find these dead sunflowers too sad. To me the complexity of the leaves is so much more gorgeous than the simplicity of summer perfection. This is a painting about what is really beautiful. Not sugar - but spice.

(I haven't moved the arbutus mural out of the studio yet and am waiting to do so before I photograph it. I haven't forgotten to post it)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It isn't raining today! At least not yet. I took this picture this morning looking west at sunrise. The sun was rising behind me and lighting up the whole sky toward the Olympic mountains.

This sky is also in the west but at sunset. It has been a stormy November and I feel inspired to paint some clouds. Such inspiration just by looking up!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nature's Cocktails

I am going out tonight with some friends to help ward off the gloom of this wet stormy weather. There'll be live music, cheerful conversation and cocktails. But what to order...

maybe something on the rocks with a twist...

or something fruity

or something with bubbles.


The rain tumbles down day after day and storms blow in off the sea. It is November in Seattle, darkening by 4 o'clock but not cold. The streets are wet with puddles that reflect the suddenly bare branches of trees.

The wind comes in gusts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Someone Needs a Hug

I have noticed some trees with warm sweaters lately, like these in Arizona.

The one on the right from Ohio and the one on the left, which is the Seattle Monorail and not a tree.

This one from a blog I like to read from Sweden.

And this one from my own neighborhood here in Seattle. The world is a cosier place with this public art.

So Perfect

I found myself this morning standing in a busy pet shop talking out loud to a cage full of mice. We were having quite a nice conversation. They were only the size of my thumb and it seemed impossible that they had all the right body parts - whiskers, nostrils, fingers - all so tiny and perfect. I almost came home with some of them...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Baby is Born

Aren't these Norther Flickers gorgeous birds? When they fly you can see that the underside of their wings is bright orange. The female is also in this mural, foraging for food on the ground. I'll show her in a future post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


During the First World War the muddy battle fields of Europe changed, seemingly overnight, to fields of poppies once the fighting had ceased. Blood red "Papaver rhoeas" thrived in the disturbed soil and became a symbol of lives lost and now of remembrance.

I wear my little plastic poppy with sadness for wars past and present and with hope for a more peaceful future.

(These photos were taken by someone in the Google universe. Thanks.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Leaves on Silver Leaf

The mural continues. I got a bit bogged down in the many many leaves on the tree and the many many hours it took to paint them. But I have turned the corner and soon will get to the really fun part - painting the berry bushes and finally painting the birds. The weather has made it harder to work too. It is so dark these days. But I turn on all the lights, fire up the heater and turn on my audio book (currently Sarah Vowell). It becomes so cosy in the studio that I can work into the darkness of evening, with the cats curled up beside me. At lease until the kids need dinner. Poor things. They are used to eating at 9pm lately.

These segments are about four feet across and if you click on them you'll see them a little bigger.

Oregon grape and Salal wil grow around the these arbutus trees.