featured work: Celestial Koi

celestial koi 54 x 40 smaller

I like to work large, and this pastel called “Celestial Koi” is large.  The seam that’s visible in the photograph is there because I put two sheets of pastel paper together to create the picture.  Overall it measures 54 x 40 inches. Because I used sanded paper I couldn’t use a single sheet — unless I had applied a sanded ground to watercolor paper myself.  This drawing is made on UArt paper — which is wonderful.  It looks just like sandpaper — it basically is just like sandpaper, but is a form of sandpaper made to the exacting conservation standards required for an artists’ material.

So the visible seam is a fundamental part of the picture, part of its form.

Anyway, one of the joys of presenting artwork at the Fine Arts America site is that they offer reproductions at fairly large sizes.  This image can be purchased as large as “48 x 35.8.”  So it’s not as large as the original, but it’s still pretty large.

The original pastel on the easel appears below.  Some of the interior objects, the bookcases and whatnot, give a hint at the scale.  I had just gotten the UArt paper and I was going crazy drawing kois.

studio 4 (2)

Some background: like many visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, I have long admired the many banners hanging from the building that advertise visiting exhibitions.  And like many visitors I have wondered what happens to the banner when the exhibit concludes?  They are of course too large to hang inside someone’s home — but some of the banners could be cut down in interesting ways and adapted for interior decoration ….

nga banner

Seeing those banners instilled a longing in me to create large versions of some of my pictures for not only do I enjoy making large pictures, I also particularly like making large drawings.  A large drawing is one that you can get inside of — all the whimsy and freedom of a drawing can be there — only LARGE. Thus one of the hopes I have for my Fine Art America site is that it can feature more and more large drawings, some that are in small drawings blown up and others that are real-live large drawings.  We’ll see what happens with that.  I’ll keep you posted.

I imagine the Celestial Koi in a room with a lot of yellow.  It could make a wonderful contrast in an airy, buttery, yellow colored room.  I found this room on the internet.  (I like to search for images of beautiful rooms on the internet!)

This is someone’s gorgeous room.  But if you take down those prints — lovely as they are — and replace them with my large blue koi pastel — wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Just like that!  Kois over here, imagine them over there. Or in any similarly airy, gracious room in need of a large company of fish ….

Here’s a link to “Celestial Koi” —


in the open

sideyard in capitol hill (3)

I have an idea for a project.  On one of my walks I saw a garden that reminded me of my idea, so when I could, I visited the place and made this quick sketch using oil pastel.

Actually it looks nothing like my idea, but ideas are like that — they tend to occur in your head and sometimes bear only fleeting resemblances to particular things that recall them to memory.  So this drawing doesn’t look like my idea though it does bear a sketchy resemblance to the actual place I visited.

Nonetheless I trust the drawing to connect me to my idea in ways I cannot fathom. While your hand records the forms, that invisible link etches deeper into the silent mind.

I have decided to go out into the field as often as my schedule permits to make drawings that relate to ideas, ones that have been rattling around in my head.  Drawing is a form of research. Even when the drawing doesn’t look like the idea there will be some kinship, some je ne sais quoi that connects to the hidden motives that had called me to the place.  If I draw the locale more times, the connection might grow clearer.  It was pleasant being there — having to think on my feet, experiencing all the sensations of the motif — not just its look, but the air, the sounds, the breeze, the pull of gravity, the fatigue of standing and passage of time in the changing of the light.

So these are episodes of brainstorming.  I make the drawing to call back to the idea, and perhaps it will call me again in echo.

finding butterflies

butterfly picture sitting on the table (2)

I’d like to find some real butterflies.

For now I’m satisfied being reunited with the butterfly drawing.  During my Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 (about which I’ve written extensively), I sorted through some large oil pastels and retrieved this one — which I’ve begun reworking a bit.  And now it rests some atop the desk where a collage sits.

Putting it on top of the collage gives me ideas — or glimmers of ideas.  I may do something else with this butterfly at some juncture.  For now, though, it exists as a drawing.  I was thinking of treating its companion, the spider, in some larger way too.  Dare I exhibit the spider again?  Is it too scary?

Oh, not for brave readers!  Here it is again.


I’ve been wondering how I could do something grander and more elaborate with the spider as well.  And I might as well just do it.  Some counselors have told me that you can’t sell a big picture of a spider.  I think to myself that if the butterfly and spider are showcased together, perhaps the similarity of color and treatment will tell people that if the butterfly is beautiful, then the spider is too ….

They are similar works, but I could make them even more similar. The question of how to market spiders has weighed on my mind.  But they make movies about monster spiders!  Of course I’m not sure that those movies make very much money or have particularly large audiences, nor do they communicate a strong societal message ….

Big Ass Spider was a good movie.  Just saying.

However, the spider can also be a serious subject — without necessarily being a scary one.  A spider can be beautiful. It can be done. I’m sure of it.  Perhaps it’s my special mission to do it …?

I’ll keep you posted.  For now you won’t find my spider drawing on my Fine Art America site.  I don’t want a spider to scare all the customers away!  When it’s time to include the spider in my grand marketing scheme, we will have figured out something that has thus far eluded most creative projects and that is: how to make (certain) spiders wonderful!

And everyone is going to want one!  You’ll see!  Just wait …




the rain outside

dark pond quartet drawing

It’s a rainy day here where I am. It may be sunny where you read this, but you have your rainy days too.

I love the rain: it shows us another side of life. Rain is calming. Rain slows you down. It interferes with your plans, but it makes you accommodate its plans which are Nature’s plans.

A room takes on a new character on a rainy day. Corners of the room farthest from the light assume an air of mystery. Some pictures are like rainy days. They are dark. They are mysterious and somewhat amorphous perhaps. This drawing of the koi pond yearns after that element of shadow, of light obscured, of darkness that you can peer into, a darkness that holds ideas and memories.

I feel like the rain outdoors falls onto this pond as well — in imagination — and makes ripples travel across its water’s surface.

This is one of the drawings available at my Fine Art America site.  You can find it here — especially if you’re looking for something for a rainy day —


And I’ve written about it before, here:


too long of a “to do” list

100_9841 (2) flower at arb

I visited the United States National Arboretum in Washington DC last month. I went hunting for interesting flowers and found one I hadn’t at all expected — I believe it’s a cardoon.  My husband had planted cardoons in the garden one summer, and we waited all season for the flowers, a waiting that was all in vain.  Perhaps some varieties are flower-less?  Or was ours somehow not a full-fledged cardoon?  I will probably never know.  However, that was the magical summer of the black and yellow garden spider.  (Avert your eyes if you are arachnophobia, but note that she’s a beautiful spider — as spiders go ….)

spider no 1 in her web sept 6 (2)

She settled near the cardoons and you can see a bit of cardoon leaf in the left-hand side of the photo.  She was an impressive spider.  So, it was a no-flower but get-a-pretty-spider- instead-for-a-bargain kind of summer.

Fast forward to this summer when I was no longer looking for cardoons and one jumps into my path as it were.  It wasn’t in flower yet. Still this beautiful structure, the globe artichoke, was exactly what our cardoons were missing. Well, I meant to go back to the arboretum to see the flower on top.  But I forgot!

It’s a month later now.  I probably missed the flower, but I suppose I ought to return and find out if some late bloomer is available for a photo shoot. Thus the moral of the story is Make Thyself A List and keep it current.

Or you’re gonna miss out.


collecting things

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The sound inside the seashell tells me that life is always changing.  I remember in my youth how much I loved pictures and how I collected them.  My art collection began with postcards and posters (of the former I soon had a veritable museum in miniature).

I liked collecting things too — especially leaves and pretty rocks.  I still like collecting bits of nature to bring indoors where they can remind me of all things wild.  Only later did I begin drawing and then I brought things “inside” by putting them onto paper or canvas.  So it is that now I collect seashells that are composed of colors, sometimes made of wax crayon, sometimes composed with the pure pigment of the pastel stick, sometimes made of paint.

And in turn now I offer them for sale as posters so that I have come full circle, having begun as someone who loved the pictures that artists made to being a maker of pictures myself.  I can only hope that my pictures will inspire others as I have been inspired.

You can find the seashell above at my page on Fine Art America where it is reproducible in an interesting range of materials, wood, metal, canvas.  The image choices for this particular work are kept small so that the picture will be near to its scale in life.  Over time I hope to offer a full “seashell collection.”

You can find it here:


living the rough and tumble life

bouquet drawn from lifeI’ve been living the life of Indiana Jones — or maybe it’s Walter Mitty — I don’t know, I get them confused.  I live the feminine version, of course.   I could hyphenate and become Ms. Jones-Mitty.

I have been cutting brush, building and unbuilding things, having adventures (mostly mental) and working hard.  And only recently I have begun to resume making artworks.  The household reorganization that has consumed so much of my time has come a long way.  My work is far from complete, but I’ve reached a point where things have begun to come into balance.   It’s a great feeling.

I discovered that getting the house right means getting the yard right too.  Shrubbery had grown so much near my windows that it blocked light from entering my studio.  Cutting down limbs and piling them up, carrying them off to the county’s “convenience center” (curious name), hauling a couple truckloads, has given me a great feeling of self-reliance and well-being.  I’m a regular lumberjack!  And trees respect me now.

But Nature is hard to put down.  As soon as you do a little yard work, she says “back at ‘ya.”  A little rain, a little sun, it’s a veritable jungle.  And Nature asks, “Who’s your daddy?”

Mother Nature can be a real smart aleck sometimes.

In between taming nature, though, I have managed to resume drawing and painting.  I got a bouquet of flowers a couple weekends ago from the farmer’s market and drew them with oil pastel.  The drawing above measures 15.5 x 24 inches.  The flower scene changed many times during the course of my drawing.  I saw light effects that Claude Monet would have struggled to capture.  But it’s good to look at the scene even when you cannot get all its features because the looking is itself so marvelous.

I have begun posting finished works at the Fine Art America site where they are available for purchase as reproductions.  You can see them here: