Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prairie after Snow

I just returned from a hike through the prairie, it is beautiful with snow-caps on the grasses. Above is a photo I took. The other day I was out in the prairie looking across the tawny-ochre swatch on a still day. Something caught my eye and I looked but saw nothing. I kept looking and finally I detected very slight movement at the top of some grass, still I couldn't make anything out. Then two little tawny colored points poked up about an inch above the grass and I could make out the tips of Buck antlers! It held still for a few moments then the antlers slowly sunk out of sight.

This photo will have to fill in for the Holiday cards that I did not get out this year -
Happy Holidays to all and thank you all for your support through the year!

Monday, November 30, 2009

A photo, a painting, a poem

North Shore Rocks
oil on board
6 x 8

A photo of me painting at the North Shore of Lake Superior last month. Thank you my friend and fellow painter, Barbara McIlrath, for taking my photo unbeknownst to me. A small rock study I did of the shore, wet and dry rocks. And finally, a poem by my sister Mary. She has a beautiful new book of poetry out, published by Mid-List press. It's titled Hand Work.

Turner's Paintings

It's all about light,
how it glances off water,
gets caught up in mist,
careens around objects,
tumbles through clouds.

Yes, I know there are ships,
but they are only there
to give the light

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Three Tide-Pools

10 x 10
oil on canvas

"What artists are peculiarly equipped to know because they experience it everyday in the studio; that is, no matter how skillfully and knowledgeably they organize... elements of a work - in painting these would be composition, imagery, color, space, drawing, brushwork - a picture will not necessarily catch fire, come alive".
- Fairfield Porter

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rocky Coast

8 x 8
oil on canvas

Here is another North Shore/Lake Superior piece that I did this Fall. I am very happy to report that our little screech owl is once again in its hole out in our woods (I posted a photo of it last Spring). This is the 5th year in a row now that it has made our woods its winter home.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Violet Tide-Pools

6 x 8
oil on canvas

I finally did some image scanning today and now have some of my North Shore pieces documented. I was really captivated by the tide pools, by their transience and luminosity against the rocks. The weather was cold and often windy out by the water so the work had to be done quickly, with a thermos of hot tea handy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Peony V

6 x 8
oil on canvas

I want to thank everyone who came to my Fall Show/Sale this past Sunday. In spite of not the best weather, we had a good turn-out and I hope a nice time was had by all. After preparing for the show for the past couple of weeks, today was spent circling around my studio, trying to figure out where I left off...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Barn and Field

oil on paper
6 x 8

Just a reminder that our Fall show and sale is happening this Sunday at our farm in Delano, from 1 -5 pm. Everyone is welcome! My sister and niece will again have their wonderful botanical hand-dyed scarves, and my sister-in-law Lely will have beaded jewelry and other creations. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Peony with petals

6 x 8
oil on canvas

I am going up to the North Shore of Minnesota on Lake Superior for a week with some painter friends of mine. We have been discussing how to stay warm while painting outside, as the weather will most likely be in the low 40's, and we all are planning on gathering information from outdoors to inform our winter work. I just hope it doesn't snow!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Deep Woods

oil on canvas
6 x 8

This piece just got sent off to the Miniature Invitational show at the Accola Gallery. The show runs from October 6 - November 7.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hosta Interior

15 x 24
oil on canvas

Save the Date!
My Fall show/sale will be happening on Sunday, October 25, from 1 - 5 pm.
My sister Mary and niece Juliette will again have their beautiful hand-dyed botanical scarves, and my sister-in-law Lely Beitner will have beaded jewelry and other beaded creations.
I will post more as the date draws nearer, everyone is invited.

The photo of this hosta painting looks really light on my computer. If it looks light on yours, in reality it is quite saturated. (I wasn't able to scan this like I usually do because of the size.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Prairie

8 x 16
oil on canvas

What I want most
is to spring out of this personality,
then to sit apart from that leaping.
I've lived too long where I can be reached.
- Rumi

Monday, August 31, 2009

Peony Buds II

6 x 8
oil on canvas

"Concision in art is a necessity as well as an elegance; a man who is concise makes you think, a verbose man bores you." -Manet

Today I cleaned out all the bluebird houses. Here is the tally:

tree swallow nests - 6
wren nests - 3
mice currently living in - 2
broken - 3
bluebirds - 0

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rain over Lake Pepin

8 x 8
oil on canvas

I painted this in June when I went to stay at my sister's house down by Lake Pepin. There is a beautiful piece of bluff land which has been put in a land trust so everyone can enjoy it, and that's my destination whenever I'm visiting. It was drizzling as I hoisted my backpack and trudged out a couple miles to this view that I wanted to paint. I sat on the ground tucked under a red cedar right at the edge of a cliff looking across at the next bluff and the lake. A magical place.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prairie photos and video

The prairie is in its third growing season this summer.  After a couple of agonizing years of mowing, spraying, battling thistle,  disturbing birds, and watching nothing but weeds come up, we are now enjoying!   Long morning walks with the bugs and birds, listening to the grasses whisper.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another bad swift video

Another swift going down.  This one can be seen at the very end.  
Sorry the quality is so bad, they were done using my itsy bitsy digital camera.
There will be another swift-sit the weekend of September 11-13, for more info. check out 

chimney swift

Last weekend my sister and I participated in a Chimney Swift count that is happening throughout Minnesota.  We had to sit for a half hour before and after sunset and watch and count how many swifts went down the chimney.  This Chimney is on the abandoned house that sits in the middle of our prairie.  The swifts have been nesting here for the last few summers; they are on a national decline as good nesting spots are becoming harder for them to find.  We counted 6 swifts.  Some places had in the hundreds!  Check out the video - watch quick, it shoots down right away...   I have been looking at this and now I think that the swift just ducks behind the chimney and doesn't go down!   But the first video it definitely drops in.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hidden Peony

oil on canvas
6 x 8

I have tried 4 times to download a video of a walk through the prairie... I'm having no success. It's cool because the grasses are up over my shoulders and there are many flowers in bloom.  I will keep trying.   Here is another Peony I painted this Spring.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peony Blossoms

oil on canvas
6 x 8

The Minnesota Arboretum has a beautiful peony garden. I went there many times this summer and this study came out of one of those visits.

On a different note, I just returned from a week birding in Big Bend, Texas. Spectacular landscape! The temperature was up around 105 daily...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hosta Interior VIII


After two months off I am starting to blog again. I have been working on flora, landscapes, and some new ideas. While painting my hosta pieces, I have these words up on my wall next to where I paint:
green earth
nature opening
intimacy life/death
interior/exterior lush
deep shadowy
murky cultivation
fragmentation fertile
hybrid selection
contemplation moist

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lake Pepin Art and Design Center Show

I just returned from the Lake Pepin area where I helped with the hanging of this show.   The show is really fabulous and I recommend  anyone visiting the area to stop by the gallery. Check out the web site,   I have a couple of pieces in it and there are about 15 other artists.  The Poster image is sort of small but that's me on the left in the straw hat, painting out in Hick's Valley outside of Pepin, WI.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hosta Interior VII

oil on canvas
8" x 8"

I am working on hosta paintings again. I feel like the paring down of elements to one color (green) one subject (hosta) has opened up a whole world of possibilities and excitement, an implosion.
A year ago on June 1st I posted the first painting on my Blog. My plan is to take the summer off - from blogging - not painting! I will resume again in September. There is a possibility that I will have another Fall studio show/sale here at the farm with a couple of other artists, I will post something more about that in early September. If anyone is interested in a studio visit please e-mail me and we can set up an appointment.
Happy Summer!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

East Turkey Creek

8 x 10
oil on canvas

This is the last piece I did when I was in the Southwest.  East turkey Creek flows through the village of Paradise, and it is beautiful!   I am so caught up in Spring - planting the vegetable garden, trying to get outdoors to paint, working on the breeding bird atlas (the site is working now, if anyone is interested in checking it out  I may be a bit patchy with my posting for awhile.
"Into the silence, which was at times also a roar, of my thoughts and questions forever returning to myself to search there for an explanation of my life and its purpose, into this concentrated tiny hub of dense silent noise, came the cackle of a hen from a nearby back garden, and at that moment that cackle, its distinct sharp-edged existence beneath a blue sky with white clouds, induced in me an intense awareness of freedom.  The noise of the hen, which I could not even see, was an event in a field which until then had been awaiting a first event in order to become itself realisable.  I knew in that field I could listen to all sounds, all music."
                    - John Berger   "The Field"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Making Maple Syrup

This photo was taken a few weeks ago when we were boiling down sap to make syrup. We got about 4 gallons of syrup this year - it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.   It's a bit of work keeping the fire going.  Our friend Scott Olson and his daughter  Maddie came out to help on this day.  Scott's Prius in the background has one of his inventions on top, a Row-Bike.  Check out
I have been very busy lately with the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas Project, which is a 4-year project to map all the breeding birds in Minnesota and their ranges.  If you are interested in checking it out or in volunteering go to

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


9 x 24
oil on canvas

I am still obsessed with  the sand dunes I visited in New Mexico.  Miles and miles of  white sand formations.  It was funny, I was reading Arctic Dreams  by Barry Lopez ( a fantastic book) when I went there, and it felt like I could have been in the arctic!  There is a stark beauty that really grabbed me.    

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adobe and Pigeons

6 x 8
oil on canvas

This little adobe was across the plaza from Ranchos Church, Taos, an old church in New Mexico much painted and photographed by artists. Unfortunately the plaza is now also a parking lot and it is hard to get an unobscured view of the church.  I turned around and saw the simple geometric shape of this adobe against a blue sky, plus the four pigeons.  The simplicity struck me.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Chiricahuas

9 x 12
oil on canvas

I painted this when I was in AZ, it is a view to the east from my little cottage. The Chiricahuas are an incredible mountain range that rise up out of the desert. They call it a "sky Island" as the surrounding desert isolates the mountains like an island would be isolated by water. Interesting species of plants and animals occur in this isolation; for instance I believe it is the only place in the US that has Mexican Chickadees. It has been raining like crazy here and when I came out to my studio this morning I discovered I have a few leaks... unfortunately I had some paintings leaning against the walls and one got soaked; I hope it recovers. Has anyone had experience with this?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Folded Earth

11 x 14
oil on canvas

The colors and light of the southwest are so different from the cool upper mid-west.  I found myself expanding my usually very limited palette for the southwest work, adding some earth tones - yellow ochre, burnt umber, venetian red, as well as cadmium orange, which I have rarely used but think I will from now on, it's scrumptious.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Toward San Simone

5 x7
oil on board

I have returned from the Southwest.   It is another world of color and animals and light; I was just beginning to understand something and it was time to leave... 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Watercolor Kit

I thought I would show one of the main "tools"  I have been using on this trip - something I think everyone should have, artist or not.  (also would make a great gift)  This small watercolor kit is just slightly larger than a cell phone and has it all - paints, mixing surfaces, water holder and brush, you just need to add paper.  I also use two collapsable brushes for size variety.  Very easy to throw in a fanny pack or purse, great when you want to hike a ways and get some studies done.  I have been using a small 4x6 japanese accordian  watercolor sketchbook which a friend gave me,  I love that it's compact but has lots of pages.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Black tailed Jackrabbit

These Jackrabbits come by to visit every dawn and dusk,  I love watching them -  very high cuteness factor!  Walking in the desert I come upon holes, divots, scratchings, trails, tracks, tunnels, piles, depressions...  who/what is making all the marks!?
"The fairy-footed, ground-inhabiting, furtive, small folk of the rainless regions"
 - Mary Austin
I went to Tucson for a few days, saw the Maynard Dixon show at the Tucson Museum - fantastic.  I had a great time with my friends Susan and Greg, who are both extremely talented and creative, check out their sites:  and We went for  a hike in Florida canyon one day, I saw so many new and incredible birds with the help of friend Rich Hoyer, who is one of the most amazing birders + all around naturalist I've ever met.

Monday, February 9, 2009

View out my front door

Just wanted to share the view out my door.  Went for a long hike the other day and above 8ooo ft there was snow!  I have been doing a lot of sketching and taking photos;  just started with the oils today.   Anyone who is interested in the birdxbird show that I will be in, here is a link to an e-vite   I hope some of you can make it, it looks like a great event!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Southwest trip photos

On the drive down my mind was zooming and I thought of so many things that I wanted to write about when I got down here...  but now that I am here my thoughts have all paled in comparison to the still beauty of this place.  Here are some photos:
Art - Three Rivers Petroglyphs, NM
Dunes - White Sands National Monument, NM   I was so affected by this place, I spent 5 hrs walking the dunes, a stark otherworldliness.
Desert Cottage - yes, satellite.   I don't even have that at home!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Screech Owl photo

I finally got a photo of the little screech owl that hangs out in our woods.  I can see this hole in a big maple tree from the path where I walk, if I'm lucky the little bird is out sunning herself between 10 - 11 am.  I first saw an owl in this hole in  Fall 2005, and have seen one every year since.  Not sure if its the same one, and not sure if they nest there....  every time I see it the day takes on an auspicious quality!
As some of you know I leave this week for the southwest where I will spend the month of February.  I will be in a remote area between Arizona and New Mexico, about an hour N. of Mexico, by the Chiricahua Mountains.   Many people have asked me why this area.   It is quiet and pristine, not very populated and has unique birds.  Also possibly the darkest night sky in the lower 48.   Out of the 7 life zones in N. America, it has 5:
-Lower Sonoran (desert)
-Upper Sonoran ( chapparal, woodland slopes above 4500 ft)
-Transition  ( ponderosa pine above 7000 ft)
-Canadian life Zone  (fir/aspen above 8000 ft)
-Hudsonian  (Spruce/fir above 9500 ft)
The two zones it is lacking are Tropical and Arctic.   For a painter who loves being out in the natural world this is heaven!  I will be keeping up with my Blog on the trip and will post photos of things I encounter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Life - Shell II

oil on canvas

Not a lot of bright colors happening in my studio these days;  I wonder how much just being surrounded by white/grey snow and sky effects the palette?   I had this shell next to the shell in my previous post and it was interesting to note how different their personalities are.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Still Life - Shell

8 x 11
oil on canvas

I don't know how interested some of you are in technical stuff, but with this painting I was trying out the qualities of different whites. I used the more opaque and bright titanium white for the background, and for the shell I used cremnitz white from Old Holland. This white is a type that many of the old masters used, it is more transparent and I was hoping to get some luminosity from it. I liked it and will keep experimenting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still Life with Shell - after Morandi

10 x 12
oil on canvas

I haven't spoken of the Morandi show I saw at the Met when I was in New York.  It was one of those experiences that feel so sacred that to try to put words to it feels diminishing...
There were a couple of small shell paintings in the show, and when I returned home I realized I had two shells exactly like the one's in one of his paintings. So I set them up in  still life and did this painting after his.  He is a master of neutrals, understatement, silence, tremulous line.

"I was fortunate to lead a very uneventful life... "  -Morandi

 "I can't go see too many exhibitions, it upsets me for two or three days."
 - Morandi

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bluebird on Napkin

 8 x 10,  oil on canvas 
birdxbird benefit auction 

This painting and the hummingbird painting a few posts back will both be at the birdxbird show and benefit auction.  Birdxbird is a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis that links the collective action of artists to organizations dedicated to the stewardship of avian species and the ecoliteracy of the human being.  Check out their web-site,  I hope some of you can make the auction, it will on February 21st at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis and should  be quite an event!
These two paintings are memorials to birds that have died on our farm. In the past whenever I have found a dead bird (often they have hit a window, which I can't stand), I take it out to the tall weeds under trees for its final resting spot. Lately I have been wanting to do something more, and have started on this series of bird memorials.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Three Shells

oil on board   9 x 11

It has been one of the coldest and snowiest Decembers in my memory; my little studio has been having a hard time keeping warm and there have been a few days that it was too cold to paint! But mostly its quite cozy;  I have been working on my still-life area, gathering objects that appeal to me, getting various surfaces,  height possibilities, working on lighting.  Tasks that must sound mundane but I love the quiet puttering in my studio.