Friday, December 31, 2010

White Buffalo

oil on canvas
10 x 14

Happy New Year to All! I hope this year is the best yet.
I saw this young Buffalo when I was out in Colorado last spring on a bird trip. White Buffalo are considered to be sacred signs in several Native American religions.

"A white Buffalo carries a message to the people to whom it appears, warning them that hard times will be arriving unless the people examine the way they've been living and learn to live in a way that is better for all."

This seems like a good resolution to start the year with.

Monday, December 20, 2010


oil on canvas
16 x 20

Wishing you all a peaceful Holiday and New Year! It's not a pine tree.... When the temperature drops below zero, (which it has done already a few times this year), my little studio just can't keep up with the cold. So I have set up in the house and painted a few times this month. There is a dead birch tree out the front window that I love looking at, especially since it is usually hosting some woodpecker or other bird. I painted this over the course of a couple days, when we were lucky to have the clear thin blue sky of winter.

Monday, November 29, 2010


charcoal on paper
16 x 20

I have been reading a wonderful book, called Letters On Cezanne, by Rilke. It contains many letters that he wrote to his wife one Fall in 1907 when he was in Paris. At that time there was a large exhibition of Cezanne's work; Rilke "discovered" this and went nearly every day, spending hours with the paintings. These letters are a beautiful portrait of the close relationship he had with his wife, as well as intimate looks at both Rilke and Cezanne. Walking and absorbing Paris, he writes:

" These are the days when everything is all around you, luminous, light, barely intimated in the bright air and yet distinct; even what is nearest has the tones of distance..."

I have some work in the Holiday show at the Lake Pepin art and Design Center in Pepin, WI. The show will run from November 26 - December 31; stop by if you are in the area.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Hills Evening

Charcoal on paper
16 x 20

When asked why he paints what he paints, artist Neil Welliver responded:
"I have no idea, no verbal answer to that. I am interested in flora and fauna, in the topology and topography. So I do a lot of mindless rambling through the woods. Then I have a sense of place. It feels right, something engages me."


Monday, November 8, 2010

Black Hills Pines

charcoal on paper
15 x 18

I have been working on charcoals that were influenced by my recent trip to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota. I loved wandering around the woods looking up at the incredibly tall Lodge Pole (?) pines. Sometimes a piece may be as much about the sound as the visual aspect, really about the total experience of being there.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sky Pesher

I have just spent the last hour and a half trying to load a video of my favorite work of art at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Sky Pesher by James Turell. I have been unsuccessful thus far, so am posting this image of the view from inside the piece. I wanted to post this because I am surprised by how few local people know of it's existence. It is located behind the Walker, basically over the underground parking lot. It is an amazing sanctuary-space, and really has to be experienced firsthand to be appreciated. The slabs of rock that make up the benches are heated in the winter! Check it out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

2010 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

Jim's first place design

Bob's second place entry

This past Friday and Saturday the annual Federal Duck Stamp Contest was held out in Berkley, CA. This year the five eligible species were Brant, Canada Goose, Ruddy Duck, Northern Shoveler, and Greater White-fronted Goose. After the second round, my husband Bob was tied for first place with his brother Jim (Hautman). Jim ended up winning in the tie-breaker, Bob got second. Every year Duck Stamp sales raise over 25 million dollars, most of which go directly for conservation of critical habitat. Duck Stamps are available at your post office ($15.) and in addition to helping conservation you get something beautiful.
For more information on the Duck Stamp Program:
To view all 236 of this year's entries
For more information on Hautman Brother's Art

Friday, October 15, 2010

Badlands and Black Hills

Bison photo, Badlands, South Dakota

Young Bison
oil on canvas
12 x 12

I just returned from an excursion out to the Badlands and the Black Hills of South Dakota. October is a great time to go because there is almost no one around and the weather can be quintessential "Indian Summer"; though one person I ran into said last year at this time there was a foot of snow.... I saw a lot of Bison, singles and in huge herds. It is a thrill to be out hiking and come upon these wild beasts.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall Art Show - Thanks!

Here is a photo of me and my work at the show last weekend. We were set up in a renovated late 1800's timber frame barn, which was pretty cool. The weather was cooperative, a good thing because there was no heat! Thank you to all who came and to all who sent good thoughts my way - the show went really well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall Art Show

The text is a bit small - please click on an image to make it larger. I hope to see you at the show, it is beautiful along the river and bluffs at this time of the year!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dark Clouds

Charcoal on Paper
15" x 20"

I have been sort of obsessed with charcoal this summer, it feels so direct and physical to work with. My last 12 pieces have all been of trees and sky, the transition or meeting of the two... some thought tracks are: earth/sky; body/soul; grounded/free; limited/infinite. Another track is that I am always looking at the tree branches to see birds, and cannot help but love the silhouette and pattern of branches against sky, on a purely sensate level.

"The frothing of the hedges
I keep deep inside of me."
- Jean Wahl

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scott Olson invention

Last week I stopped by my friend Scott Olson's place to see what he was up to. Scott is an athlete and inventor - here is a short video of one of his latest ideas. I got to try it out and it is a blast! The working title is Sky Bike, unfortunately that has already been spoken for and he is looking for ideas for a new name. If anyone has any thoughts let us know.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Prairie sunset

I went for a sunset walk up in the prairie last evening. Most of the grasses are well over my head now, and some of the big bluestem is 8-9 feet tall!

I have been working on an artists statement in preparation for the upcoming show. I think most artists would agree it is an incredibly difficult thing to write. I came upon this statement by artist Joshua Bronaugh that really intrigued me:

"I love having bruises that I can touch throughout the day to instigate memory.
Sometimes the bruise is a broken lip; sometimes exhaustion; sometimes the way light falls on skin.
Painting is touching the bruise."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


oil on canvas
10 x 10"

I have been going through my work getting pieces ready for the Fall Fresh Art tour - A friend came over this morning to help, and we came upon this piece I had done during my last southwest trip. It is a piece I hadn't thought much about, but she really liked it - it is interesting to look through someone else's eyes - so I will include it in the show.

I have also been looking at Gerhard Richter's work and reading his words. He is an artist who I think very successfully straddles doing work that is sensual and beautiful, yet also has a conceptual component, however subliminal.

"One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is total idiocy."
- Gerhard Richter

Sunday, August 15, 2010



I have been working on an ongoing series of animal studies. This work is influenced by the photos of Edward Curtis, a photographer known for his sepia prints of Native Americans and The West as it was before and during the big move of "civilization" westward.

This quote by poet Mark Doty really struck me:

"Seeing and feeling are not contradictory things; It's through the surface that we get to the core. Looking outward and looking inward can happen at once. A painting, like a poem, is a meeting ground between the interiority of the artist and the surface of the world..."

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hosta Interior IX

oil on canvas
10 x 10

I painted this hosta in the spring when they were still unfurling in their young greenness. I look out the window now and see the green of late summer, tinged with ochre, kaki, lilac.

I keep coming upon references to this guy's writings in other books I'm reading. I think I need to dig into his work and see what's there...

"The desire to keep learning so that we can dispel old mysteries while giving birth to new mysteries that draw us forward - a quiet passion burns, not for total control, but for the sensation of constant advance."
E.O. Wilson

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Water Study - Lake Waconia

Charcoal on paper
11 x 14

I love the abstract quality of water, the way blobs of light and color break away and re-form. One of my favorite things to do is go canoeing; it is a great way to be quiet and intimate with nature, to be able to go places that would otherwise be out of reach. Living in Minnesota I am surrounded by lakes, ponds, rivers, swamps.... As much as I have been avoiding news of the gulf oil spill, it's hard to avoid that painful reality. I guess I have been thinking of water, vulnerability, transience.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Full Bloom

The prairie is in full bloom! If anyone wants to come out for a prairie walk, let me know.
FYI - I will not be having my annual Fall show/sale at my studio this year. Instead I will be participating in the Fresh Art Fall Tour, down by Lake Pepin, WI. I will be a guest artist at Barbara McIlrath's studio. The dates are October 1,2,3, and I will be mailing out brochures in September. It is spectacular on the Mississippi River Bluffs at that time of year, I think it will be a fun event. If anyone is not sure if they are on my mailing list or if you want to be added, e-mail me your information. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sedge Wren Nest

I found this beautiful little sculpture next to a mowed trail in the prairie..... a sedge wren nest with three eggs. Unfortunately it has been abandoned because of the mowing - I hate that! But on the bright side, there are many other wrens nesting where a few years ago there was a cornfield. An old bur oak - 200 yrs. ? That I could see from my studio window has come down in a recent storm. This tree had been a favorite perch for many a raptor and song-bird; it will be sorely missed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Barrow, Alaska

Charcoal on Paper
11 x 15

Ever since I returned from Alaska I have been playing around with charcoal, something I have never really used before. Thanks to friend Holly Swift for her help and to artist Kathy Hodge,, who I know only via internet and who generously gave me advice; there's more to it than I thought! Trying to find paper that feels right to me is my first task. I am wondering if this paper is too grainy....
I came across a concept that really struck me. In the Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard talks about Intimacy in Immensity - the possibility that a work (painting, poem, music, etc.) can induce a person to have the experience of vastness that feels in proportion to his/her inner expansiveness. Every time I read that I get tingly!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prairie, two months after burn

The grasses are over my knees now and there are lots of buds forming on the flowers - I think it will be an amazing bloom. I have been going through my Alaska photos and bemoaning the fact that I did not take more. The camera gets between you and the experience; I was too busy looking, absorbing, feeling. I wish I had a video of the red phalarope spinning! And the landscape - I felt a strong resonance with my own inner scape, and I have been working on drawings of the tundra and pack ice. More reference would be good....
Starting July, I will be mentoring artist Emily Lynch for a year. This mentorship is funded by a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board. Check out Emily's great work on her new blog: Emily is a wonderful artist and an enthusiastic, motivated person - I am sure I will get as much out of this year as she does!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Two days before the summer solstice (which is tonight) found me across the arctic circle, at Point Barrow, the northern most spot in America. It was midnight with the full summer sun shining down, and a polar bear ambling towards us, about 200 yards out. It may have been my closest experience to the sublime.
photo 1 - I was with a great group of birders lead by, a birding tour company that I highly recommend. Here we are looking out at the pack ice towards the North Pole.
photo 2 - Barrow landscape
photo 3 - Polar Bear
photo 4 - Long tail duck

" It is the transience of gale birds, their seeming frailty in the toils of wind and sea, that stirs me most. To see a lone petrel arc across some desolate reach of ocean, as fleeting as the spray blown from the wave crests, is to risk innumerable intuitions of mortal solitude and transcience, ones own swift passage towards the void." - Peter Matthiessen

Monday, June 7, 2010


oil on board
6 x 8"

This is the view out my studio window, earlier this spring. On a day too cold to be out painting I stood inside and painted it in comfort. I won't be able to post for a couple of weeks.... I am going to Alaska! I am trying to have no preconceptions, but I am hoping to see lots of rare birds in breeding plumage; large, wild animals; and amazing landscapes.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grain Tower, Bay City WI

oil on canvas
6 x 8

I went to Chokio MN over the Memorial Day weekend. Chokio is my mother's home town, it is just a little west of Morris, MN, in the central farmlands. Along the way I studied and took photos of all the old grain towers that lie in the small towns along the rail road. I love the architecture and the simple shapes, the soft colors and the history. I have been thinking of doing a series of these buildings for a few years now, and this week I began doing small studies.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Frontenac Bluff Overlook


I have been outside painting whenever possible, trying to find my "sea legs" after a stretch of working in my studio. It is so different/difficult working out-doors! But there is nothing like it. This is a painting I did last year down by Lake Pepin.

" There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life." - Thoreau


Monday, May 10, 2010

Red Peony

oil on canvas
6 x 8

I have some hosta and peony paintings in a show at the Pepin Art and Design Center in Pepin, WI. The show runs from May 14 - June 17 . Have lunch or dinner at the Harbor View restaurant if you go, it's fantastic!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prairie burning


I found these last week out in our woods, all under one tree! It has been a great morel spring, early warmth, not buggy, and enough rain. Wild ramps, asparagus, rhubarb and morels, how can anyone get any painting done? Oh, did I mention the warblers are back?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Before, After, During

We burned 30 acres of our prairie last night! It was a spur of the moment ordeal, there has been a burning ban on in our county as it has been so dry this spring. I called the local fire-chief and he said they could do it if they lifted the ban. It rained this weekend, and Wade the chief called Sunday to say the ban was off and they would come out Monday evening and burn it as a training session. The photos don't do it justice. I will post a video soon. The firefighters did a great job! Note the moon in the last photo. I look forward to seeing the prairie develop this summer, already this morning we have had killdeer and horned larks on the charred field.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Greater sage grouse mating ritual

Greater Sage Grouse

This is a photo of a Greater Sage Grouse hunkering down in the grass. I just uploaded my video of Sage Grouse displaying on the lek in northern Colorado, see it above.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cow study

oil on canvas
12 x 16

I have been in Colorado this past week going to grouse leks and looking at birds and landscape. A lek is a patch of ground that a group of grouse will gather on to display and do their breeding rituals. I got a good video of Greater Sage Grouse strutting their stuff - it is too long for me to be able to post here, but I will try to upload it to youtube and post a link, it's pretty amazing what they do! I was fortunate to see Lesser Prairie Chickens and Gunnison Sage Grouse, both of which are endangered. The only down-side is the necessity of pre-dawn arrivals to the grounds, which made for very early wake-ups. The cow study is part on my on-going animal studies series. I used to work in clay a lot, and doing the burnt-umber sepia-tone painting reminded me of sculpting in terra-cotta. Often when I watch animals I feel as if they have an aura of calm surrounding them, something I rarely see in humans,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pepin Bluffs

12" x 12"
oil on canvas

This is a piece I did last spring in April, of the Wisconsin Bluff lands by Lake Pepin. I am looking around and see the same palette of muted grey-purples and yellows. Spring is upon us and the yard work is demanding attention - we already have some vegetables in, which is earlier than usual. No complaints.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Auspicious Goats


I have been doing animal studies for the past 6 months or so. I love the patterns on goats and their body shape and expression. Anyone who has spent time with goats knows how much personality they have!

(first stanza of) The Goat, by Umberto Saba

Ho parlato a una capra
Era sola sul prato, era legata.
Sazia d'erbe, bagnata
dalla pioggia, belava.

I have spoken with a goat.
She was alone in the meadow, tied to a post.
Satiated with grass and her coat
rain-sodden, she was bleating.

Why is this only thing I remember by heart after studying Italian for three years in college?

Monday, March 15, 2010


10" x 10"
jute on board

This is the piece I have in the "Foor-in-the-Door" show at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts - . Some of you may not have seen my fiber work, all made of baling twine that I collect, discarded from farms and ranches. It is now getting harder to find, as most hayers now use plastic "twine". If anyone comes across some of the natural jute, I could really use more. I love using recycled material.
I am starting the second year of the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas Project - Any of you citizen-scientists who are interested in helping out and supporting conservation planning based on current, scientific information - they need volunteers! Check out the web-site. There are only 7 states that don't have this breeding bird information yet.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cranes at Bosque Del Apache NWR

I leave tomorrow morning..... mixed feelings. Here is video I took with very cold hands early morning on my way down here. I stopped at the the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge on the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

"The world is big, and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark." - John Muir

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cliffs, paint box

This is a small 6 x 8 oil paint study I did last week. The view is looking up at the cliffs just down the canyon from where I am staying in the Chiricahuas Mountains. I included a photo of the new paint box I am using and liking very much. It is only 9 x 7 x 2.5 and fully loaded weighs less than 5 lbs. I can sling it over my shoulder, have everything I need for two small studies, and hike back in areas that it is difficult to drag a bunch of painting equipment around.

" Above on either side tower sheer cliffs, topped by crenellated battlements and groups of slender columns, while yawning caves, arches, and windows have been carved into the stone by centuries of wind, rain, frost, and melted snow. The rock, called rhiolite, is of volcanic origin and glows with soft shades of orange, pink, yellow, and deep salmon as if it had been dabbed by a giant paint brush." - Weldon Heald, The Chiricahuas Sky Island

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sycamore trees

I have been walking through the canyons and looking up at the trees against the sky. Sycamore trees have creamy pale bark that stands out against the sky, and I have been doing many small watercolor negative-space studies of them. Negative space is the sky-space between the branches that makes abstract shapes, looking at this when working helps get you away from what you "think" you know about a tree, very freeing.

Also, The Foot-in the Door show is up at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this is a once every ten year show open to any Minnesota artist. I have a piece in it, not a painting but a jute piece. It should be a fun show and I look forward to seeing it when I return.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Harris's Hawk, Dragoons

First I have to make a correction about a previous post. The Rock indian head is Geronimo, not Cochise. Sorry! The top photo here is a Harris's Hawk that has landed ever so delicately on top of a saguaro and is keeping it's wings out to "test" the air. I was at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson and I was fortunate to be there when they were doing a raptor demonstration. They let four Harris's Hawks fly; they are the only N. American accipiter that hunts cooperatively. It was an amazing thing to witness.
The second photo is of wild rock formations in the Dragoon Mountains where I went hiking last week. The hiking guide described them so: "The rock formations rise impressively as the trail climbs, resembling orderly stacks of tilted stone that were arranged by some forgotten giant."
Yesterday on my hike I saw a White-Nosed Coati in a tree - of course I did not have my camera!
"For the world is not to be narrowed till it will go into the understanding, but the understanding is to be expanded and opened till it can take in the image of the world."
- Francis Bacon

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Granite Gap, Peloncillos

The last couple of hikes have taken me to the Peloncillos (little baldies) and Granite Gap. This is a beautiful desert/mountain area with exotic rock formations. Desert Bighorn Sheep have been re-introduced here. I ran into the New Mexico Bighorn Sheep biologist who was radio tracking some sheep and he said he found four babies. I hiked all over hoping to spot them but never did. I did see a Ringtail though, a small cat-like creature with a huge ringed bushy tail. Makes it seem as if I am in another country!
"To inquire into the intricacies of a distant landscape, then, is to provoke thoughts about one's own interior landscape, and the familiar landscapes of memory. The land urges us to come around to an understanding of ourselves."
- Barry Lopez