Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crazy World

Our vision is incredibly selective. We don't pay attention to most of what our eyes pass over or we would go crazy. Our brains can't acknowledge every grain of sand, every eyelash, every person in a crowd. The same selective thinking applies to the way we live in the larger world. We are only aware of a tiny fraction of what is happening all around us and it is necessarily so.

This painting is about how crazy the world is and how we have to ignore most of the excitement and tragedy. We keep it in the background or we, ourselves would go crazy. This little bunny is doing a good job of staying focussed on the solid ground beneath her feet despite the wildly twisting parrot tulips behind her.

It is a serious image but not entirely sad. Parrot tulips are beautiful- just a little overwhelming.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I have had a quiet and pleasant winter. I have read books to the kids by the fire and we watched lots of movies cuddled up under blankets. Nobody got sick. The cats didn't catch any birds. The weather was surprisingly mild. But now it is spring and I have a need for adventure. I have been looking at travel websites. A cottage in England? A old goat shed (renovated) in Crete? Hiking the Grand Canyon? Even getting out of the house in the evening would be a change. I feel reckless. So far nothing concrete has come of my need for mania but I have been living vicariously through these little mice. What could be more wild and exotic than scrambling around these glorious magnolia blossoms? Sure they might fall but they might also have the time of their lives!

Ha ha. I am feeling so reckless that I seem to have forgotten to paint the front paws of this poor little mouse. Don't worry. I'll fix it.

This painting is oil on panel and measures 14' x 11".

This painting was half finished and I was wondering why I had such a strong desire to make the composition flat, instead of situating the tree in a landscape with perspective and sky and overlapping blossoms. The reason came to me suddenly one night as I was falling asleep. I realized I was remembering a wallpaper pattern, torn from a magazine about three years ago. Sure enough, I found the picture in my files. It was like that Agatha Christie story where a woman wallpapers a room in her new home with poppy paper only to discover that the room had been papered with the same pattern years before. Wonderful and creepy! This paper is by Cole and Sons and was featured in an ad for Canadian Tire in Canadian House and Home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Want to be a Star

This mouse is recklessly climbing a star magnolia tree. It is precarious, but who can resist wanting to be a star?
This little painting is called "I Want to be a Star" though my kids call it "Mouse Butt".
It is oil on panel and measures a small six inches square.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mary's Happy Place

My friend Mary has a birthday today and I painted this little sketch for her. She loves daffodils, though I doubt there are any blooming yet in New Brunswick. She lives near the beautiful Tantramar Marshes and I combined them with daffodils to wish her a very happy day. This painting is 6 inches square - the size of a birthday card.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happy Spring

Has anyone else noticed how bleeding heart holds rain drops on the tips of its leaves? I was so enchanted with these miniature worlds this morning that I forgot to photograph the flowers. I am also working on a painting of tulips today that, so far, has no flowers - just leaves. Tulips have the craziest leaves of all the plants, I think.
Happy Spring to all of us in the northern part of the world.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Study of Opal

oil on panel 8"x6"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Stained Glass

Here are some delicious images of plants from the windows of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria. I would love to try to make something like this. The glowing colors come from the different pieces of glass but the details seem to be made by painting black paint on the surface and scratching it off. I may have to do some research...

There is a wonderful story about this window. It was designed and made before the symbols of British Columbia had received final approval from London and was rejected since it shows the sun "setting" over the British flag. Of course, the sun is never supposed to set on the British Empire!

I love all the plants. Roses for England. Thistles for Scotland. Some shamrocks for Ireland. But shouldn't there be leeks for Wales? What is the small purple flower? Maybe it is something Welsh.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I posted last week about the assault of spring. The ground was literally erupting with life and it wasn't gentle. Here is part of a painting about that feeling. I have been thinking about change and upheaval lately, both in the garden and in life. I have always embraced it and I know that change leads so often to good things, even when the change is disturbing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that giving birth is hard, whether it is literally the amazing act of giving birth to a new life, or simply the energy and faith it takes to disrupt the status quo. Rebirth, or Renaissance, is also hard, though we have more blueprints to guide us on our adventures if someone has gone ahead and blazed the way. This painting of rebirth is disturbing but also, I hope, beautiful.

Making a painting can also feel like being in labor. It can be painful and frustrating. Sometimes I feel despair, sometimes exhilaration. Maybe someone should bring me ice chips and hold my hand. The whole right half of this painting is a mess. I have painted and repainted a quince bush three times. I am experimenting with more atmospheric perspective and it is difficult to get it right. Who said we should do something that scares us once a day? How about doing something that scares us fifty times a day! That is what painters do.

The scariest part of all is that I have become attached to this little vole who is feeling overwhelmed by the spring upheaval. But I don't think she is the right mouse, with her stiff profile view, and I will probably have to "murder my darlings" and paint over her. Change is hard!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


I planted an apple tree last week. So far it looks like a dead stick. But in years to come it will flower with pink and white blossoms, green leaves and fragrant apples.

This little mouse knows to dream big and to work hard. She hasn't read Robbie Burns' poem "To a Mouse". Her best laid plans will not "gang agley" but will see fruition. Go mouse go!

This painting measures six inches by eight inches and is oil on panel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Spring is erupting all around me and I am almost feeling assaulted by it. Maybe I am just in a bad mood today but I am detecting something disturbing in the relentless pace of nature.

The Quince are too extravagant.

The Forsythia are screaming.

The Tulips are alarmingly sexual.

And the Fritillaria Imperialis are just terrifying.