You Sing to My Spirit
Just as the sky began to lighten, I wound my way up the Thompson Canyon, and bounced over the well worn highway to the Wild Basin turnoff in Rocky Mountain National Park. Meeting other painters, we started up the trail with our 30 pound packs. About a mile in, the trail became steep and covered in snow. We carried on, and the reward was well worth the effort when we reached the tumbling Cascade Waterfalls.
Mountains and tundra, covered in snow and ice from October to May, are revealed each spring as the sun warms the snow creating streams and waterfalls. Lake Marie formed at the base of the Snowy Range, near Centennial, Wyoming catches the water and releases the overflow through a tumble of rock and debris.
Snowies in Summer
Each summer, I spend several days exploring this mountain range. On this particular day, I hiked from Lake Marie (the far distant lake) to the top of this 13,000 foot ridge where I found this spot to look out over the range and the lakes. This particular view faces south, looking out to the Colorado mountains. I’m always amazed by the number of wildflowers that come into bloom for such a short period of time each summer.
In the Victorian era, the hibiscus flower represented delicate beauty. In Hawaii, the hibiscus is often worn behind the ear as a sign of a woman’s marital status and as a symbol of hospitality. In Egypt, the flower was used as a medicinal calming tea. As I painted this flower over four months, I was reminded of Buddha’s Flower Sermon in which words are not required to understand its meaning.
The story goes, that Buddha had gathered his students for the daily teaching. On this particular day, rather than speaking, he held out a white lotus flower for each of his disciples and said nothing. Each of the followers seemed a bit confused, except for one – he saw the flower and smiled a wide smile – understanding what Buddha was saying, without words.
For me, the story represents that the world and all of beauty exists in the one flower. The flower represents all flowers and that nothing is permanent. And, that painting this flower contains all the lessons of painting within this one painting.
egg tempera, 6×6
Follow Cow Creek
It was a cool brisk morning in early spring. The snow had melted and the sun was shining down. The promise of summer was in the air. After a long hike, I returned to this scene. The light was perfect.
“Follow Cow Creek” was part of the “100 Years of the National Parks” juried art show in Estes Park, CO in 2016.
16×20, oil on canvas panel
This little deer and I spotted each other as I walked along a hiking trail. We watched one another with curiosity. Who would make the first move. The image of its ears pointed forward, taking in every sound, hidden in the undergrowth stayed with me. Slowly, the idea began to resolve. The colors began to take shape, the pattern of light and dark began to emerge.
I have driven by this area countless times and never knew a gem was hidden away. We started the day at the break of dawn. From camp, we drove a short distance from our campsite, and hiked out to see what we could see. Following what I later learned were skunk track, I fell in love with this picturesque spot.
The sun was just coming up over the cliffs and began to filter through the trees. I listened to the hum and throb of the water, and watched the light shift and change, as I painted a perfect summer day.
oil on canvas panel, 16×12
How many times have I pulled on my backpack and headed for a nearby park to hike, think, look and ponder? Whether I have a lot on my mind, or I just feel the need to get out into nature, Bobcat Ridge Open Space is a ‘go-to’ spot. There, I am free to wander, wonder and ease back into myself.
As I painted this cottonwood against the backdrop of the hogback, I thought of napping under the tree or having a picnic lunch. I reflected on the number of hikes I have taken through this park, and how it has become an oasis for my spirit, as well as an opportunity to connect with nature and myself.
oil on panel, 12×16
en plein air
Perched on top of the rise, this old schoolhouse looks out over the tranquil Yampa River valley and Sleeping Indian Mountain. As I painted this scene during the Steamboat Art Museum Plein Air Event, clouds rolled across the valley and I imagined what how it felt to walk to school during the winter months when the land was being settled.
oil on canvas panel, 8×16
Steamboat Springs, CO
Walk through the foothills of Colorado in the fall and the world alights in yellow, orange and gold. This pastel painting was inspired by a walk through Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. Located in the foothills of Fort Collins, I return again and again for inspiration and the display of fall color as the leaves turn from green to orange, yellow and gold.
Winner of the Guerilla Painter Award – 2016 Pastel Society of Colorado Mile High National Show
Can you feel the fuzz? Do you smell that sweet syrup of a ripe summer peach? Each summer, I look forward to peach season and picking up fresh peaches from the farmer’s market. After they grow and ripen in the heat of the Western Slope, they arrive at the market ready to eat. There’s nothing as delicious as a sweet summer peach on a hot day, especially when the juice drips down your hand…
Along my favorite hiking trails, I look forward to seeing particular trees. I’m drawn to their shapes, the curvature of their limbs, the shade they offer, or the feeling they invoke. Over time, I feel like I know them, and that they know me. I’ve had my eye on this particular bend in the trail. I like the way the tree leans over, toward the bridge and the rock, greeting those that pass. Just as people are unique in their character, so are trees. As I painted this tree’s portrait, I felt like I was painting an ‘Old Friend’.
en plein air
Looking for a place to set-up, I spotted a doe and young buck in the underbrush across the river. Along with the chickadees and juvenile bald eagles, they kept me company. The doe bounded through the long grass and foraged through the scraggly brush. Either she didn’t notice me, or she knew she was safe.
pastel, 15 3/4 x 11 3/4
Next Stop: Feed and Grain – Loveland, CO
It was hot! At 9 am, the ambient temperature was already reaching 90+ degrees. I searched for a spot in the shade, where I could focus and not fry my skin. Spying a level, shady spot next to the train tracks, I setup and began to outline the lines and angles of the old building. Not long into the painting, a train roared past, carrying shiny new windmill blades. Where once we were fed by the trains that carried grain, now the trains carry windmills to feed our hunger for energy. Although abandoned, the building will soon undergo a renovation and be transformed into a home for artists and galleries.
Lazy Day at the Poudre
Not far from the city, along the Cache la Poudre River, there’s a fishing hole that’s popular with anglers seeking trout. Originating in the northern range of Rocky Mountain National Park, the ice cold water quenches the thirst of the residents along its path before joining the South Platte and traveling to the Gulf of Mexico. The water gurgled past, the trees were just beginning to turn, and I wished I’d worn my bathing suit for a quick dip in the river.
en plein air
Heirloom Beauties was inspired by yet another trip to the Farmer’s Market. The good folks from Honeyacre Farm devote their loves to growing luscious heirloom tomatoes, meaty, flavorful bell peppers, and solid cucumbers the size my arm.
This still life was designed to create a bold statement. I wanted to work with bright cadmium paint and explore vibrant color. I choose a deep red backdrop to complement the tomatoes and stock for delicate texture to contrast the smooth tomato.
8×16, oil on linen
A popular climbing area in Vedauwoo, Wyoming, Reynold’s Hill, a monolith of 1.4 billion year old granite, stands proud and strong. Surrounded by its court of lush aspen trees and meadows of willows, it reflects on its image in the still pool.
Across the Pond
There are hidden gems everywhere. At a regular painting spot, the calm water created a perfect opportunity to paint this red barn reflecting off the water. The trees were in full summer foliage, creating a perfect pastoral scene…water, mountains, trees, a red barn, everything a painter could want!
9×12, oil on panel
This tree and pond study was started outdoors (en plein air). I then returned to the study and painted the color from memory and feeling of the location using brush and palette knife, experimenting with textures and layers of transparent paint.
Riverbend Ponds, Fort Collins
oil on linen, 9×12
Doggie in the Window
Located in the heart of France, there is a village built of red sandstone with roofs of slate, covered in lichen and moss. As I strolled through the village on a crisp fall day, I spotted this little “Doggie in the Window”. He was so excited and happy. He clearly wanted to come out to play.
Collonges la Rouge, France
Autumn brings splendor to the mountains of Colorado. The mount mahogany shifts to deep purple, the cottonwoods burst forth in gold and orange. The grasses pulse in waves of color. Set against the red sandstone hogback, fall creates a bouquet of color.
Beside Still Waters
Mist hung in the air. Clouds filled the sky. I rounded the corner, and was startled by the blaze of fall color. The trees seemed lit from within. I was drawn to the tumultuous contrast of rioting color against the mirror like smoothness of the river. As I painted, stillness hung in the air. Two fishermen worked their way up the Poudre River, calling out as they cast and caught fish. Completed en plein air.
8×10, oil on canvas panel
Each fall the trees beckon. “Come and paint me”, they call. “Look at how beautiful I am. Do you see how inviting it is in the cool shade of my canopy?” Inspired by a plein air painting session at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area just outside Fort Collins.
8×10, oil on panel
Cusp of Spring
The allure of Colorado is the warm spring days interspersed between cold and snow. The ice and snow melt, the geese swim through for a visit, children run and play and the moisture begins to work its way up the willows, promising summer days and sunshine.
Peach Study in Pastel
I’ve been looking forward to summer and doing a peach study in pastel for a larger painting. Each year, Morton’s Organic Orchards sets up their fruit stand at the nearby farmer’s market. They begin with cherries that are so deep and dark in color, flavor and sugar that I feel ‘drunk’ after just a few morsels.
Following on the heels of the cherries, the peaches arrive. Clingstone peaches appear first – small and sweet. Then, giant freestone peaches arrive by the truckload, covered in peach fuzz. They line up, ready to be turned into pies and jams and in my case, ice cream and smoothies.
These little orbs of sweetness are surprisingly solid. I wanted the viewer to feel as though they could be picked up and held, as well as eaten.
pastel, still life, 5×5
There are places we return to paint again and again. This is one of those places. Away from the hustle and bustle of town, tucked behind the hogbacks, Bobcat Ridge is quiet and serene. Fall lingers here, holding onto color until this snow flies. Tucked into a curve of the road, the sun warms the earth and the leaves glow. The beauty of fall stands in proud glory.
10×8, oil on canvas
Fall Along the River
Watching fall arrive along the South Platte River in Colorado is a special treat. The water drifts past, placid and gentle. The cottonwoods shift from green to shades of orange and bright yellows. The grasses glow, almost iridescent in the sunshine. Yet, in the shade, the air is cool and refreshing. While sitting on a log, painting this scene, I watched flock of wild turkeys fly across the river, minutes later, a pair of doves drifted past. And, while I didn’t see them, I know that deer, beaver and muskrat are nearby, busily preparing for winter.
en plein air
Where the Wild Things Grow
During a trip up the Cache la Poudre Canyon, I came across this field filled with aspen trees. Although I wasn’t able to paint it that day, I knew a return trip was in order and soon the opportunity arrived.
Upon my return, the small aspen grove had filled wildflowers. As I set up my easel and began to paint, I felt as if anything could stumble up out of the river or through the grove of trees. While it would most likely be a deer, I couldn’t help but think of the children’s book, “Where the Wild Things Are” and my imagination went wild.
oil on canvas panel, 5×7
Rocks pile and tumble against the alpine blue sky of Wyoming. From a distance, the rocks appear to be building blocks for a giant toddler. Here they sit, forgotten in the eons of time. Contrasted to the hard, sharp rock, aspens dance in the breeze, their golden fall colors warm and bright.
en plein air