Friday, April 4, 2008


The clouds have moved in, and with them, a stiff wind. I am glad to not be skiing or bicycling today, as the wind across the open spaces, even on a gentle day, can mimic a steep uphill climb. I paint a small painting, conscious that the light has changed. The colors of grass and trees are closer in value, and more violets are visible in cloud and shadow. Stepping on the deck to retrieve the bicycles, I find that the birds are silent today. It is a wind to drive all creatures to shelter.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The shadows of the trees swing around during the day, so I have caught them in yet another long slanting array. I am enjoying designing the plantings. But I make mistakes. Had to chop down two trees in last night’s paintings and plant some bushes in their place. The painting looks much better.

Is it my imagination, or is the grass getting greener with the warm afternoons? It is still bitter cold at night, and I would think that enough to keep the grass dormant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


We moved to a new room, with views of the swampy waterway. The view is lovely, so I set up my paints in front of the door to the deck.

Despite having a water feature to paint, my arrangements aren’t coming any easier. Trees need to be moved, shorelines curved, grasses reshaped. If I could stand anywhere, I could make the landscape work as it is. But I am restricted to one viewpoint of about 120 degrees.

In the afternoon, I paint out on the deck. Ducks and geese are calling, chuffing, conversing. I wonder about a goose’s social life. Is it filled with best friends and bullies, geese you get along with and geese you don’t? Is someone always getting the best food, and someone always left behind? What do they have to say to each other?

Later in the day, the redwing blackbirds take over the conversation, calling to one another from among last year’s cattails. A mourning dove from the other side of the building fills in the rests. Somehow these sounds speak to me of peace and quiet, more peaceful than absolute silence would be. The message feels subliminal, primal, something ingrained. Maybe a place where birds feel safe to sing is a safe place for humans. Something within us knows that, without having to reason it out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Even colder today. Too cold, Rick says, for painting from the car. I look out the window at the golf course and puzzle over composition possibilities. How can I rearrange these elements? I decide on a hint of a pathway, with trees receding in the distance, and a semi-portrait of the most interesting tree of the bunch. Again, moving things around to suit myself.

Both paintings end up similar in color, with a strong sense of sunlight. I may want to re-balance the big tree, or detail the foreground a little, but otherwise this painting looks finished.

Winter is a hard time for me to paint from life. I love the snow, and love to be out skiing. But painting is so sedentary, and therefore not enough movement to keep me warm. I find myself clinging to the warmth indoors. It makes travelling less appealing. More and more I am drawn to the tropics, to warm places, and to water of all kinds...water with movement. I wish I had a river I could paint away on.