Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2017 Calendars Available - 2 new designs! Sketchbook or Oils!

First, the one known to my collectors as "Remains of the Day" - it has favorite images of oil paintings done this year. Below, is the cover of my 'new idea' a calendar of favorite sketchbook images from this year!

 - For the Oil paintings version

- For the Sketchbook version

To see the images inside each calendar, click on the image above, it will take you to my web-site where you can see each of the monthly pages, and purchase there as well!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Studio Classes start Thursday & Sketches from Ireland (Fellowship of the Ring, of Kerry!)

While it's on my mind, I'm going to mention that my studio classes for "Sketchbook Journaling" are starting up this Thursday.  Here's the link to the scoop if you'd like to join us. It's close to full, but you might want to be on the waiting list- as I think there will be an opening in mid-October.  Also- you can click on the images to enlarge them! 

Now, back to Ireland- We started our first day with a quick demo and focusing especially on the thing that really 'cracks the nut' on success with watercolor - the pigment to water ratios!

The best way to quantify and explain that? Relate it to something we are very familiar with - FOOD! Tea (so weak that it can't get itself out of the pot!), coffee (a little more pigment), Milk (more pigment yet), cream (heavier still, you might not be able to see through it), and butter (almost straight out of the tube). Once you understand this, that's a big part of the learning curve.  Getting a bit of practice time in so everyone is familiar with their new supplies:

We have lots of opportunities to take in the local beauty. We had a carriage ride waiting for us in Knightstown, with Joe (of Valentia Ice Cream) and his horse Max. Can you imagine a guy that would be any more popular than that? (horses, home-made ice-cream, beautiful scenery, oh my).  

We rode past the pretty church on the way to Knightstown (many years ago, I painted a wedding commission of this place - good memories!).

Here's the view coming into the pier area of Knightstown, where you can ride the ferry over to the mainland.
Down the main street of Knightstown, this colorful coffee shop happens to be a great place for lunch...
I was really happy to see that there was still a lot of wildflowers in bloom, recent storms hadn't taken them out! There were montbresia and fuchsias filling the hedgerows, and wild blackberry brambles still putting out berries! 

This was along the road back to Valentia Ice Cream; to the left of us - cows in the pasture.  Below us, the Valentia Light house shines in the sunlight of a beautiful Valentia day!

We followed up our delightful ride with ice-cream! I got to chat with Joe's wife after she scooped up ice-cream for us. They are just closed for the season...but we are special guests that day.  They have expanded and added a whole new room, and patio-deck, as well as a play space for the kids! What a treat getting to visit with them again!

From here it's time to head back to Barbara's cottage for lunch! Yes, we worked up a nice appetite photographing the town, and all it's views. The ice cream was a bit of an appetizer!
The men are contemplating lunch, and the afternoon activities to come! After lunch, we cross the bridge to Portmagee and head south to Ballenskelligs Beach to visit the ruins, (and sit for a sketch if so desired!). 

Ever since Luke Skywalker made it out to Skellig Michael, everyone has been discovering what we've known all along....Skelligs Chocolate is FAB!!! 

Need we say anything more about that?! Now that we are fortified with a mug of hot chocolate, we proceed on our way, to Waterville, and Hogshead beach for a bit of beach-combing and views, and sunset!

The path to the beach is so lush!

and some can't resist getting their feet wet!

These stones are the colors that inspired my decorating choices in my home.
Looking back up the hill - another pretty view!

It's not difficult to imagine that fairies would live in such a lush and tender landscape!
The big view back up the hill!
The sun sets on our first day! 

We head off to dinner, and are already worlds away from the 'selves we left behind in the states'.   Is natural beauty important? Yes! Can it change our lives? Yes!  Does it continue to amaze and enthrall us? yes, yes, yes! Our humanity has us hard-wired to appreciate beauty in our daily lives!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fall Sketchbook Classes at the CT Audubon Center and my Studio Classes

The Fall schedule for the CT Audubon Center classes is posted - and I'll have three sessions of Nature Journaling there in Pomfret this Fall. It's a beautiful place - and we'll be outdoors as long as the weather cooperates! (and if it doesn't we have a GREAT indoor space, too).  Similar to last summer, here's the dates:
Saturdays 9am-noon
September 24th
October 15th
November 12th
Call ahead to reserve your spot: 
$10 for members, $20 for non-members
ALL the proceeds go to the CT Audubon center to help support programs! 

The sketchbook pages I'm sharing today were from last Friday, over at Bluff Point preserve in Groton. It was definitely the calm before the storm. Hurricane Hermine blew in over the weekend with fierce wind one day and rain the next, but nothing too horrible in our area. Whew!

I'm also holding classes for Sketchbook Journaling here in my studio in Mystic. Some will be indoors, and we'll venture outdoors in some of them as well! Classes here will be kept small  - with lots of individual attention! 
Here's the dates:
Thursdays 9:30am-noon
September 29th
October 6th
October 20th
November 3rd
November 10th
November 17th
Purchase the group of 6 classes for $150, or 
drop-in rate of $35 per individual class.  

I look forward to seeing you this fall!! 

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Teale's Way...and other recent sales....

 "Because beauty cannot be separated from the larger idea of harmony in the universe, creating art is a central part of a spiritually healthful life.  Making art thus serves the same purpose as their sacred rituals.  It often depicts: to create balance in the individual, the community, and the natural world." 
- (quote found in the American Museum of Natural History regarding the Pueblo cultures of Chaco canyon)

For those folks wondering if I have done something crazy like give up oil painting...the answer is "heck no!".  I still love it! And...I've found the watercolor sketches enhance my efforts, forcing me to think 'differently'.  I haven't found a better way to explain that yet. But I'm certainly enjoying both mediums! 

The above painting, "Teale's Way" has just sold, and is just off to its new home! Luckily - a dear friend bought this, and offered 'visiting rights'!  :-)

Two other recent sales are from my 'Touching Water' solo exhibit, "December Gold", and "Clear Autumn Morning in the Marsh".  

It's been a wonderful summer, I'm sad to see it reaching the end. But there are so many exciting things lined up for autumn!! I'm heading out to teach a sketchbook journaling class in Ireland in a few days. When I return I've got a new line up of Nature Sketchbook journaling classes at the CT Audubon Center in Pomfret, AND some new classes and workshops in my studio!  I'll list those in the very next post! 

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Great Gull Island - how I met the "Jane Goodall" of Terns!

At the beginning of August, I had the opportunity to take a day trip organized by the Mystic Seaport over to a little rock of an island in the middle of Long Island Sound, called Great Gull Island.  It's a bird sanctuary and research station for 2 species of terns (roseate & common terns).  Managed and run by Helen Hays, this 'sturdy older woman' has been doing this for almost 50 years now! It dawned on me she was definitely like the "Jane Goodall" of terns rather than primates.  She spends six months of the year on the island working with the birds, banding them, counting them, gathering data. There is no electricity or running water. Bottled water is brought by boat each week from Connecticut along with other research volunteers. During winter she's back in her apartment in New York City analyzing data from her summer work.

As our boat pulled up to the short dock on the island it took some maneuvering to get us tied up to disembark. The water in that part of the Sound seems rough even in good weather.  As soon as the passengers unloaded, our boat anchored off away from the island in a safe place.  As soon as we crossed that dock, wow, what an assault to the senses!  I was met full force with the intense smell of ammonia from all the bird guano! Ripe. Once away from the pier the smell was much less intense, and I was able to think about the other things I was there to see and experience. 

 The island was formerly a fort, Fort Michie built in the late 1890s and closed after World War II. All the structures still remain, and now some of the 'lookouts' act as 'bird blinds' so you can watch them without 'worrying' them!  It's a major stopover on the Atlantic flyway for migration.   Between construction of the fort and the popular fashion of feathers in ladies hats at the time, the tern population took quite the hit.  

The place is now owned by the American Museum of Natural History, and is part of the state of New York. The researchers have been turning it back to the terns, making it habitable for them.  They've tracked the numbers hatched each year and watched the steady growth of these colonies under their care. Common terns nest on the ground, and blend in with their surroundings.  The nests have been flagged (so no one steps on them), and each nest is marked with a little wooden 'tongue depressor' with the number of eggs per nest They watch to make sure each of these eggs hatch and makes it to fledglings. 

(can you spot the egg in this photo?)

I had brought my sketch book that day, but there was SO MUCH activity that I felt I needed to simply observe everything that was going on, take a few pictures, and commit to memory every thing I saw. I watched as terns soared over head just over the ocean and then back to land each with a little fish hanging out of its beak....over and over again!  I watched in awe at a territorial fight between three birds on the ground - one of them a youngster wanting a fish from either of the elder two. But now was his time to get tough and go fish.  On the bench near the kitchen/work center was a dead tern that someone had found and brought over for observation- beautiful and sad Though I don't know what had brought about his demise, I was grateful for the respect shown him, and the chance to have a close look at him.  

 I highly recommend a view of a 2012 New York Times article (and video) for a better idea of the importance of this place:
Ms. Hays and her teams of volunteers and researchers have been quite successful in their long efforts.  This  island now holds one of the worlds largest colonies for these two species of terns (common and roseate)!  

If you'd like to know more about my "New England Letters" take a visit to my Etsy shop: 
I offer a fun subscription  to real mail - a painted letter each month of some place in New England that I've visited during that time.  I've been painting and sending these out for a year now! I wasn't sure I'd last a whole year - but I had 4 subscribers so I knew I had to complete their subscription!  I love it - I've grown to look forward to finding interesting stories and places each month to share with my readers.  It also makes a wonderful gift for "arm-chair travelers", or those who miss New England and don't live in the region any more. If you know someone that might be interested, please share this email (blog post) with them! Thanks!!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

YOU hold the keys to your enchanted life!

"You will not find wi-fi in the forest, but you will find a better connection." - unknown

I'm so proud of my 12 students this past Saturday morning! I taught Nature Journaling at the CT Audubon Society in Pomfret, CT.  It's beautiful countryside up there - but the things I teach can be taken anywhere.  Watercolor and a sketchbook is so wonderfully portable.  It's a wonderful habit to grow and develop.  Some came with lot of current skill - and found new vistas and things to try.  Some were refreshing old skills that had gone un-used for over a year.  Some were bravely learning a brand new skill that very day!  One was eager try out a new medium once she saw the fun that others were having.  

All came away with some very 'zen' moments of the day, recording this beautiful place on paper and in their memory.  It was indeed an enchanted morning, the kind that starts with a bit of fog, fierce and interesting clouds, burning off to glorious sunshine.  This mirrors our emotional start when we start to learn a new task. 

I love to see the expressions on people's faces when they go from "that moment of doubt" to the "aha! moment of discovery" - and the joy on their faces with the knowledge that, "hey, I can DO this! It is a learnable task that I can do!"

I'm grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with the CT Audubon Society.  We're putting together the fall schedule there, and I'll be holding new classes and workshops in my home studio as well  - starting in late September, once I return from Ireland.  I'll be putting the dates on my website VERY soon! Check the link here for Fall updates! 

Besides the wonderful hay bales, here's some more of what our attendees were able to journal in their sketchbooks:
jewelweed or "touch-me-not" plant
which by the way, is a poison-ivy antidote!
a bundle of tiny rose hips from that invasive climbing rose that has escaped all over Connecticut, 
and a lovely hawk, who kept watch over us from above! 

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