Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Izzy and Georgie

This is Izzy and Georgie. I loved painting their little hands and feet. This painting was also a nice excuse to imagine the magnolias blossoming again. I see the buds forming on the trees in Lower Queen Anne already even though we'll have to wait three or four more months for this kind of splendor.

This painting is oil on panel and measures 12x16 inches.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


This is Sydney surveying the garden in an early winter snow. His beautiful fur keeps him warm and he looks like the king of the forest. This is a commission and Sydney's people live in a woodland setting much like this. 
I'll be spending Christmas with family in West Vancouver where my Mum and Dad's woodland garden looks a bit like this. I doubt we'll have snow but we will have some holiday laughter thanks partly, I hope, to the pogo sticks I bought for the kids. Either laughter or injury. I can't wait to give it a try.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas if you celebrate it and for those who struggle through this time of year I wish I wish a speedy and joy filled New Year. Eat lots of butter!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winds of Change

These two mice are huddled together against the cold Autumn wind.  This painting is a commission and shows how love gets us through hard times. The mice are looking toward the winds of change and their tails are entwined.

Autumn is a great time for painting the garden with all the seed pods and twisted leaves. I love berries too. Part of the commission was to paint milkweed and black eyes susans but I have never seen milkweed before so I enjoyed researching it. What complicated seed pod structure it has! I took me ages to figure out what was going on in the photographs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

wet wet wet

 So much rain lately! It is weather for moss. One of these days I'll paint a mossy painting but for now I just take my camera out on my walks in the neighbourhood. Sometimes I stop just to touch these wonderful little puffs of green.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas is Coming

This month I have the pleasure of working on several animal portraits. This is Whiskers.

And this is Bennie.

These pets are loved so much it is a delight talking to the owners and hearing the stories. What a great job I have. Kind of funny. Very heart warming. I feel lucky.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Show!

These four paintings are part of Arts West's new show of kitsch miniatures. There is an opening reception on Thursday, 9 December, from 6-7:30 and I'll be there. Why not drop by and say hello. You can meet a skipping lamb, a snowy mountain beaver, a poor little dead bee and a watchful rabbit. Plus all the other great and strange art that is in the show. Read about the show and get directions here. Arts West is in West Seattle.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love in the Mist is a beautiful little flower that grows as a volunteer outside my studio door. This time of year it leaves seed pods like this.

It can take me most of a day just to paint one seed pod. The structure is so complex. I haven't even put the fun mottled dots on these yet. I am still working on the shape. You can see my finger prints on the leg of the moose. My baby finger is the stablizer for painting detailed work like this.

The whole painting is four feet tall - large for me. And is very unfinished still. I am obviously being influenced by the perpetual twilight of early December. So often the sun breaks through just before it sets.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Snow

This is another version of the mountain beaver I painted last month. This one is albino and is enjoying the anticipation of the first snowy day of the winter. She is like a fat little snowball herself.

This painting is oil on panel and is ten inches square.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Boy and His Dog

This painting started as an image of my son Henry and the dog he always wanted. But then I saw a picture of a llama and its shape was so much more interesting than a dog's. So it was going to be Henry and a llama. And then, for some reason, I wanted to contrast the rather serious looking llama with a flying chicken. But, in the spirit of the poet Frank O'Hara I may still call this "A Boy and His Dog".

Why I Am Not a Painter

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

I feel "A Boy and His Dog" is about things happening all around us that we aren't aware of. Many of them are quite funny. It is also about letting go of ideas and lightening up, just like the chicken is doing.

You can see "A Boy and His Dog" at Homegrown in Fremont. (where I think I called it, brilliantly, "Llama and Chicken" on the label). I still want to paint more "love in a mist" seed pods at the bottom but will give it a break for now. The painting measures 12"x24" and is oil on panel.

Here is the Mike Goldberg painting named "Sardines".

Where to see my work

I am hanging some new pieces today at Homegrown in Fremont. There are also some new pieces at the new Homegrown cafe in Queen Anne that opened last week. They have wonderful food that is locally sourced for those of us who like to support the locavore movement.

Of course I still have some large pieces at Woodside Braseth Gallery in South Lake Union too. Here is the link.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Day We Met Was Long Ago

This is another painting about relationships. As I painted it I was thinking about so many different people in my life. Old friends, new friends, mothers and children, boyfriends and, of course, cats.

Oh little mountain beaver. How I love your whiskers.

You may notice that the painting was reversed in the previous post. This is another trick I use in Photoshop to see the painting with fresh eyes, after staring at it all day long. I also hold paintings up to the mirror for the same effect.

The painting is oil on panel and measures four feet across.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Using Photoshop to compose a painting

I am at the nail biting stage of this painting. It is almost finished so I am scared of ruining it. Because of the clean background on this one (it took a couple of weeks and six or eight coats of paint to get the smooth gradient) I can't paint over any mistakes. So Photoshop comes in handy for trying new ideas. I want to add more branches to the tree.

Maybe some more branches on the top.

Or some branches on the sides.

The animal is a mountain beaver which is native to Washington State. It is about cat sized and has a stubby furry tail, not a beaver tail. I'll post more about it later but for now I have to choose how to position the branches and then get to the studio. Each twig takes such a long time to paint.

This painting is four feet wide. I love all the empty space.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This is a portrait of my friend's dog Luna. I feel very clever to have paired her with Lunaria seed pods, which grow as weeds in my garden. There is also a day time moon.

I copied the sky from this 1670 painting by Jacob van Ruisdael.

My daughter pointed out to me recently that many of my favorite painters are dutch. I love the Seventeenth Century landscapes with their flat friendly land and huge skies. There is Van Gogh of course. And Willem de Kooning. Fabulous. And recently I have been enjoying some local shows by Dutch painter Chris Berens, who paints two of my favorite things - clouds and white animals. He has a show here in Seattle at Roq la Rue of his more colorful recent work. You can see it here.

"Luna" is oil on canvas and measures about two feet across.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Watcher

This painting is six inches square and is oil on birch panel.

Don't forget that you can see this and many of my new paintings at Cafe Fiore in Queen Anne until the end of October. They are for sale! This one is $190.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Friends We Make

Usually I paint images of solitude. I spend a lot of time alone and often the presence of others can feel invasive. There are other times, though, when I need company.

This painting is about my desire for connection and the subjectivity of relationships. I love this poem by Billy Collins.

Le Chien

I remember late one night in Paris
speaking at length to a dog in English
about the future of American culture

No wonder she kept cocking her head
as I went on about "summer movies"
and the intolerable poetry of my compatriots.

I was standing and she was sitting
on a dim street in front of a butcher shop,
and come to think of it, she could have been waiting

for the early morning return of the lambs
and the bleeding sides of beef
to their hooks in the window.

For my part, I had mixed my drinks,
trading in the tulip of wine
for the sharp nettles of whiskey.

Why else would I be wasting my time
and hers trying to explain "corn dog,"
"white walls," and "the March of Dimes"?

She showed such patience for a dog
without breeding while I went on-
in a whisper now after shouts from a window-

about "helmet laws" and "tag sale"
wishing I only had my camera
so I could carry a picture of her home with me.

On the loopy way back to my hotel-
after some long and formal goodbyes-
I kept thinking how I would have loved

to hang her picture over the mantel
where my maternal grandmother
now looks down from her height as always,

silently complaining about the choice of frame.
Then, before dinner each evening
I could stand before the image of that very dog,

a glass of wine in hand,
submitting all of my troubles and petitions
to the court of her dark-brown, adoring eyes.

I could throw a lot of words at this painting. Validation (which always makes me think of parking). Stimulation. Shelter. Witnessed. There is also something beautiful in the shiny purple seed heads of this giant lily. Maybe that is enough, for now.

This painting is oil on clayboard and measures 18"x48".

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Looking Back

The other day, while driving back from Canada, we passed through the flat marshlands of the Skagit Valley at twilight. The sky was large because the land was flat. And it glowed with that strange green that happens when the yellow of the vanished sun mixes with the blue of the night. And trees were just losing their colors and becoming silhouettes. It is such an emotional time of day. I always seem to be going home from somewhere at twilight. But this time, as I drove away from the country of my childhood I wasn't sure if I was going to my home or going away from my home.

I always felt badly for Lot's wife in the bible who looked back at her home being destroyed and was subsequently punished by God. This seems to be inexplicably unjust. Surely we are allowed to look for home wherever we choose, whether it is back to where our sentimental hearts yearn or forward where our adventures propel us.

This painting is oil on clayboard and measures 9"x12".

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The recent rains have clobbered the garden but a visit to the farmer's market yesterday showed what a bountiful time of year this is. I also see apples, plums and pears scattered all over the roads in the neighborhood from untended trees. It is always so startling.

I like to think of all the creatures outside eating their fill of all the wild treasures out there. They still have their pick of the best berries and tastiest grass seeds.

This painting measures 6 inches square and is oil on panel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two Spiders

Yesterday when I came home from my walk, my arms and ankles tangled with spider webs, I shook my hair and a spider fell out and onto the kitchen floor. I chased her around and gently caught her and carried her back outside to make another web for me to blunder into tomorrow.

Her cousin, a larger brown spider, has built a web outside my kitchen window and I have been watching her every morning with interest. Today, though, I see my window spider lying dead on the ground. Is it that time of the fall when spiders die? Already? Or was the end of her life violent? I am an incompetent god.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I forgot to mention that I have paintings for sale at Cafe Fiore in Queen Anne (Galer Street)through September and October. 'Absence' and 'Treasure' have aleady sold but I hung 'Surprise Lily' yesterday, still wet, and 'Snuggle' is there too as well as a lot of pieces with bunnies from earlier in the summer. The small ones like 'Snuggle' are only $190 and the larger ones sell for $500 and $700. I am working on another mouse today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Surprise Lily

Surprise lilies are one of my favorite garden treats. In the summer they crowd the already crowded garden with their tall gangly leaves and no flowers. I can't wait for them to die back so I can cut them away and tidy up. But then, when summer's exuberance has passed and I am feeling melancholy in my September garden the buds of these strange flowers erupt naked from the ground. I feel like they have been waiting in reserve to cheer me up. They are so weird in their September incarnation without any leaves. I love odd things and odd people too. They look out of place and out of time but that makes them so welcome.

This painting measures 6"x8" and is oil on panel.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I love to paint white animals. With winter coming I am looking forward to thinking about snow and white fur. But for now these ducks reflect the autumn sunshine.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Blackberries grow outside my studio door. In the evening the air is warm and summery still with their scent. I paint them every year. Who could resist such abundance and treasure?

Last summer's posts about blackberries are here and here.

I hung a show tonight, including this little painting, at Cafe Fiore in Queen Anne. (It's on Galer St near Trader Joe's) and it will be there until November.

This painting is oil on panel and measures 6"x8".

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Though this is a blog about the paintings I make of my garden I want to mention the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq today. 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died so far in this shameful war. More than 4400 American troops will also never come home. As I sit and paint in my quiet studio pretty pictures of my own emotional ups and downs I know how lucky I am to have the peace and safety to do so. A salaam waleikum to all the people in Iraq. I wish and worry for a more peaceful future.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Usually, when I paint a landscape, I inhabit it with some small creature - a bunny, a mouse, or a weasel. This landscape though is a picture of absence.

Or at least that is how it started. As I painted this piece of gravelled ground, inspired by the alley outside my studio door, I found that what appeared to be an empty space was in fact filled with beauty and complexity. Each trampled blade of grass casts its own shadow. Each speck of gravel catches the light.

The flowers I added are from Ophelia's 'crazy' speech known as Ophelia's garland. Rosemary, pansies, fennel, columbines, daisies and, of course, rue.

This painting is oil on clay board and measures twelve inches square.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The peaches are ripe! These two are having a snuggle. You can see how they looked a couple of months ago here.

This little study is oil on birch panel and measures 6"x8".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gallery Show

These three paintings will be shown at Woodside Braseth Gallery in Seattle with an opening on Thursday, 12th August from 5:30 - 8:30. Why not drop by and say hello! Here is the gallery link.

Time Flies

Why does it feel good to fly through the sky on a swing? The world blurs
past so quickly that I feel freed from responsibility. I can't stop and
rescue a worm. I can't water the plants. I can't worry about what my
children are eating. Or about whether the rest of the world has enough food, peace, safety. I just fly.
Freedom from interaction with the world. Freedom from responsibility. This sort of freedom is necessarily temporary, but sweet because of its brevity. Just like childhood.

This is also a painting about the speed of life passing - living, flowering,
dying. This painting is called 'Time Flies' or more traditionally 'Tempus
Fugit'. Maybe being on a swing takes away the sting of mortality.

I used my daughter Isobel as a model for this since swings are often part of childhood. I remember teaching her to use them when she was very small. Such a shame that swings on playgrounds now have those uncomfortable, but safe, soft seats. The flowers are hollyhocks which also evoke memories of my childhood in Canada and Britain.
The painting measures 18"x36" and is oil on clayboard.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Henry and I grow peas every year since they are one of his favorite foods. We pulled the vines out a while ago to make room for the tomatoes. Now it looks like we won't get enough sun to grow good tomatoes this year.
This study is oil on canvas and measure about 8"x10" I think.

I found Henry using my exacto knife the other day. He is such a scientist. This is what he was doing. Everyone enjoys gardening in their own special way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This painting is called "There Are Two Places For Me". It shows the two opposing worlds I seek out - the beautiful, tumultuous, seductive and overwhelming world and the sheltered and safe world.

In the forest the trees push and crash in a constant struggle for light and life. Flowers overwhelm me with their impossible beauty and complexity. Foxgloves even change the rate of heart beats and used to be used in medicine. They can kill you if you eat them. Or they can save your life. Everything lives so intensly and inevitably dies. It breaks my heart but I can't resist.

In the cool passage between rock walls, far below the forest, there is shelter and peace. I seek this out in my life too. Solitude in my studio. A cosy evening by the fire with my children. The closeness of those I love. A hand held.

I feel like a bear these days. Strong. Occasionally beautiful (though this bear shows her years and is a little world wary.) I feel rare like this Kermode bear. And like her, I know that joy can be fleeting. My gallbladder could end up in an Asian pharmacy any day now.

This painting measures 4'x3' and is oil on canvas.