December 16, 2012


" The Child's Head on his Mother's Hand's" Kathe Kollwitz, 1900

We hold life so delicately within our grasp. Kathe Kollwitz the great German artist knew the delicacy of living and I am so sorry to see that we as  Americans are beginning to experience, again, that tenuous, beautiful gift of our  days.

November 10, 2012

Catching Up

Just was rereading my own blog list and was taken with awe at the words in this blog which I have in my sidebar by Marla Bagetta . This is a keeper for me and for those of you involved in creating and appreciating the art process you may enjoy the read also.
I have another blog which I would like to bring to your attention. This is one an old high school friend of mine is writing and is a timely and gentle read after this current election.  Enjoy the read and I will get back to you my gentle readers later- and now to my basement studio to paint and draw on this snowy day.
The Jacarandas in bloom in the Parque Central, looking at Volcan Aqua in La Antigua, Guatemala. Which reminds me - I have added to my sidebar Antigua Daily Photo- a real treat for catching a glimpse of life in that beautiful city.

October 1, 2012

Ancient Road #3 Carsulae Italy

This past June I had the great good fortune to go to Italy and stay and work at La Romita-  La Romita is (as one friend said after I told her about my experience there ) a camp for artists. Ah yes it is, and in a beautiful setting above the city of Terni in the "green heart of Italy".  Even though it was unusually dry and there were fires later in the summer it is still lush by my western eyes. It is the landlocked part of Italy and perhaps as I was raised in a landlocked state, i.e., Kansas, I felt a sense of recognition.
We 13 artists stayed comfortably in what had once been a small monastery and for the past 40 years has been a respite for artists and artists groups. There is a comfortable studio in which to work (a reconverted chapel) . After a morning breakfast equipped with a map, laden down with our painting supplies, and filled with a lecture from the night before of where we were going. We were driven to some near or far hilltop town. Some you would recognize such as Assisi.
Or some would be new to you/ us, unless your specialty is Italian hill towns. We would tumble out after traveling windy roads and find a place to perch and paint. Then we were returned to La Romita for a delightful lunch or we stayed out all day in places like Orvieto or Perugia.
One such blissful day we were driven to the ancient Roman town of Carsulae. This town was built on the Via Flaminia an original road of the Roman Empire which connected Rome to the Adriatic Sea. Theroad was built in 220-219 BC. The city gained prominence because of its beautiful site. Tacitus and Pliny the Younger both spoke of the beauty of the place. The road was also one on which you could travel to the springs of nearby San Gemini ( we painted San Gemini our first painting day). Carsulae was abandoned because of an earthquake and I also read because of robberies which eventually occurred scaring off merchants from the Via Flaminia.

Today you can see beautifully askew ruins. They include a theatre and amphitheatre and of course the Via Flaminia. I took refuge under some low hanging branches and sat down on what must have once been a busy thoroughfare and made a plein aire piece of the view.

 Did I mention it was warm, hot, one needed shade. I looked across the hills which had given Carsulae its original beauty and had to agree with Pliny. This is a site of great beauty even today.  Over my right shoulder I could follow the Via Flaminia and see the arch of Traiano (so named because silver coins from the time of the Emperor Trajan 98-117 were found there). This arch is the remainder of three and was originally covered in marble.

So this past year I have walked 3 much used roads of the past. Each one brings to my mind the daily lives of the people who lived along these paths. When I see the arch of
San Damianos (or Traiano) I wonder at the skill of the arch builders. I think also of the skill of the cliff dwellers of Canyon de Chelly and the piled stones creating the ball courts of Mixtel Viejo. Three places of overlapping times going about thier daily business of survival.

September 28, 2012

Canyon de Chelly- Ancient Road.Path # 2

I have had the great good fortune to grow up on land which allows you to literally see the "bones of the earth". This is what I call the rises and hillocks of the geography of Kansas. Here in Colorado I see great ridges and vertebrae of the earth when I look at the Rocky Mountains.When I travel through New Mexico and Arizona, as I did this past spring, I am able to look into the very interior of the land. When I pass a deep arroyo or the edges of the Rio Grande Valley I feel as though I am looking between the very ribs of the land. Accompanied by good traveling friends I traveled beyond Mesa Verde past Shiprock, Arizona and onward to Chinle, Arizona. What pulled us was to experience a deep incision into the earth which humans have been living in since 2500 to 200 BC.

This  groove into the earth has been known as Canyon de Chelly since the 1500's when the Spanish discovered and followed the Navajo Indians deep into this Canyon.  The Canyon was called the Tseyi by the Navajo (Dine). This word Tseyi translates into "inside the rock". The Spanish mispronounced the name and  it was adapted into English with a French-like spelling pronunciation.

Deep inside the rock, humans have been sheltered and carved homes into the walls of the steep walled
When you stand on the edge of this vast windswept land and look down into the center you see relief from the wind and also the comfort of grass, water and trees. It is here that animals as well as man has lived. 

  The land is not federally owned but is owned and managed by the Navajo. If you want to see the area you must enter with a Navajo guide. We had a great guide who told us not only anthropological discoveries but stories of his youth growing up in the Canyon and ancient tales of Origin of the Anasazi.  You need all these tales to be woven together as you ride the sand-laden road at the bottom of the Canyon.
    Other than the sheer beauty of the walls , the colors and the majesty of this ancient home land there was a destination in this deep place. That was to see close up the rock which goes by the name of "Spider Woman".                                                                                        
"Spider Woman" is reputed to have sung along with Tawa, humans into existence. The Navajo offered her the top of the rock on which to live. She taught the women to weave. As you know spiders have been associated with the art of weaving in many cultures. In Greece there was Arachne , Amanetsu in Japan and Ixchel of the Mayans. "Spider Woman" came up from the 2nd world to the 3rd world and that passage is said by some to be marked by this red pinnacle upon which she made her dwelling. 
The Canyon for me had a spiritual quality. I not only marveled at the numbers of people and stories there were here but the spiritual beauty of this place which had provided life , meaning and art to its residents.
Check out my April 11 2011 post To find where Spider Woman is today.

September 20, 2012

3 Ancient Roads, Part 1

When  I go off on trips I am not one to plan them with an overarching relationship. While I was sitting around the house with my bunged up foot "elevated and iced" I was open to reflection and began to see some connections which I wished to share and think about with you.
First in late February early March my husband and I were volunteering in the highlands of Guatemala. (Something we have enjoyed doing the past 6 years). After we had completed our volunteering we explored various parts of Guatemala we had not seen. I had always wanted to see Mayan temples ever since I worked at the Denver Art Museum around its fabulous Meso American collection. The DAM has one of the most wonderful and beautiful Central American art collections in the world. We drove with a few friends to a small temple area called Mixco Viejo. This is between Guatemala City and La Antigua around and up a lot of windy roads.
The only entry into the area of Mixco Viejo is up a narrow trail that made the area easy to defend. Until that is, 1525 when the Spaniard Pedro Alvarado's laid siege and secretly entered an unguarded back entry. This gave rise  to the motto beware of the "Danger Within",that supposedly many Mayan families remember today. I wondered at the 100's of Mayans that had trod this path to enter onto the plateau of temples arranged above their farm lands. Had they carried the sticks and branches I see them carrying today through this narrow portal to  light signal fires?

The priests had to climb high and vertically to reach the summit and lay their fires. 

These ancients were experts in masonry as is witnessed by these walls of  ball court stadiums.

Today the quiet walls look over fields and earth as they did for 100's of  years before.

July 27, 2012

Arty Adventures

I have been off on a few "arty adventures" these past months and I have missed taking the time to stop and digest just what I have seen and experiences. Frequently blogging gives me time to relate my daily experiences to how I live, interpret my life visually and often with color.

In coming posts I am going to be talking about my most recent "Arty adventures"
I am going to post about what I  have gleaned from traveling near where the Spider Woman came into the world in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.

 I am also just beginning to process my most recent "arty adventure" in Umbria ,Italy, and am looking forward to sharing the colors,forms, ideas and food which I experienced there.

My " arty adventures "have many back stories, one which I will quicly share is--

Almost 25 years ago myself and my friend Julie were relatively new Moms who loved to make art. We decided when our children were at an age we felt comfortable leaving them with babysitters we would spend one day a week out of our homes drawing on site. I believe we started with sketch books and headed out to the Botannic Gardens and local greenhouses. How we changed to working with pastels I don't exactly recall. Neither of us really knew much about them but I think we liked the perceived portability of them. Keep in mind this was before the internet. (We couldn't go look up "how to's" and quickly get multiple answers as you can do today) We did look up stuff at the Library and found books and magazines. When our children were older we would take weekend trips to Taos, New Mexico with other women and rent houses to stay in. Our husbands would baby-sit. While in Taos we would get up early and paint the sunset, the adobe walls. Our favorite place at that time was the studio of Andrew Dasburg.( Dasburg was one of the great artists of the Taos area of the early 1900's.) So began our first arty adventures,. From there as our children grew older we have taken them with us to France on our arty adventures. We spent time in Auvillar France, Corsica amd Marmoiron, France. Travelling to all of those places provided a wealth of rich experiences. Our adventures continue and we continue to share them with some of our first fellow travelers.  :

One of the many artists who visit Auvillar.
I will share a photo of me in another post.
Now that you have read this brief history you will better understand my raison d'etre. 

May 29, 2012

Fame and Good Fortune

Well Fame and Good Fortune do happen. Check out the blog "The Colorist" . If you have somehow missed Casey Klahn's (the pastelist) blog you do need to give your self a treat and sign on. I've been following Casey's blog for several years. I was first pulled in by the name - after all I am a color lover and I always seek out fellow color lovers. His thoughtful blogging as he has defined his muse and strong color development have been a "go to " spot on the internet for me. When you start following his posts you will discover his thoughtful explorations of the reasoning and "why we are doing this". It was with little hesitation that I signed on for a workshop with Casey when I learned he would be here in Denver.
Above you can see Casey as he starts off our 2 day workshop using his beloved Diane Townsend gray Terrages. A color (gray) we in  bright crisp colored Denver had to see to believe. Although the first day of our workshop was a gray rainy day. The exterior color did not match the wonderful full of color ideas which Casey tossed our way.
You will find me referring back to this workshop in future blogs. Meanwhile if you are in an area where Casey is exhibiting or giving a workshop put him on your must meet and see list.
 Here is a colorfilled day for you too.

April 10, 2012

Eternal Spring

This was the first view I saw out my bedroom window in the "castillo" in La Antigua, Guatemala . It was my last day of a month long return visit to the "Land of the Eternal Spring". I could finally see the crisp outline of the dormant volcano "Agua" after many mornings of covering clouds. It was a glorious spring day and I took a few last photos on that day in the gardens of the grounds of Escuela San Jose el Viejo Trying to remember spring when I returned to the region of cold (Colorado) and 3 more months of winter. Here is a peek out our side  window at the activo volcan Fuego
The colors were clear and crisp. This is what I saw as I hurried to have my last fresh mango smoothie. Why was it so delicious? Because the mango had traveled less than a 1/2 hour to get to the tienda(store). 

 However I had a grand surprise when I looked out my Colorado window. Yellow, the surprising warmth of March had turned up the spring dial and there was yellow forsythia prancing about.
We have even bravely tucked winter blankets and coats away. One has to be very cautious about that here as a snow storm or two has been known to quickly cover all the bright promise of spring. Even our crab apple tree burst forth in frothy glory and I was able to hang around under its branches and paint my first plein aire of the spring of 2012.
Over here in Denver
Where the Plains surrender

Fragile blooms of yellow and
Are stepping out, into sunlight

Playing odds that winter's dead
To volunteer a flower bed

Weeds and grass are in a rush
To make it coarse or make it plush

Mother Earth's mountain breast
Melt and milk the magpie nest

The swelling banks once panned for metals
Now have skiers that switched to

Over all the mountains sing
Winter's over  - welcome Spring.    Poem by Don Rehling 

February 11, 2012


On  with the theme of sisters. I am one of three sisters and the mother of two sisters.  I know the back story of my daughters - they are presently writing their own stories. I have caught them in these two recent paintings.
"First Harvest", pastel, Kate

"The Luncheon Guest",pastel, Johanna

February 9, 2012


I am one of three sisters. When I see girls together  I often nod my head in recognition and think "Sisters". that was the case when last year I saw two young girls selling fruit at a road side stop in Katok , Guatemala. Katok has now become a familiar rest stop after leaving Guatemala City and heading up to Solola Guatemala. I told myself  "these are either sisters or at least sisters in the work they do here, selling fruit to roadside travelers". I often give my artwork a personal backstory while I am  working on it. Thus I told myself a story of these two sisters living near Katok and wondering what their days were like.
I am heading back to Guatemala and probably will be traveling this same road. I wonder if I will see these girls. I secretly hope they are in school.

January 21, 2012

Red, Rouge

I think every month and season have a distinctive color. Some of course you could all reasonably agree on such as ochres and warm colors for autumn. However I have always associated the color red with January. This year three stalks of Amaryllis plant blooming in my dining room have agreed with my color beliefs.

Pastel 18"x12"
I think I will be doing several paintings of these brilliant ruffles as they wax and wane through the growing process. Hoorah  for red!!

January 18, 2012

The Eyes have it

Thank you David Hockney!! My artistic hero. I have long followed and admired David Hockney for his artistic energy, investigation, devotion to drawing, innovation, exploration and use of technology. One of my all time favorite books is Secret Knowledge  (Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters). In this book he reveals a careful discovery that only a practicing draftsman, painter could discover. Based on  his personal knowledge , voluminous experience, Hockney shows that the so called great draftsman of the art world used mechanical devices to aid their eye and hands in their drawings and paintings. He shows that Vermeer, Van Eyck, Messina, Caravaggio up to Andy Warhol  used optics to create their work. That is they used 'monocular" vision as opposed to "binocular" vision.

The Eye of Horus

He shows how Cezanne's use of his own two eyes, i.e. binocular vision is what pulls you into his picture. Hockney says "Cezanne's innovation was that he put into his pictures his own doubts about how objects relate to himself, recognizing that view points are in flux, that we always see things from multiple, sometimes contradictory, positions. It is a human, binocular vision ( two eyes, two viewpoints, and therefore doubt), in contrast to the tyrannical, monocular vision of the lens (Velazquez), which ultimately reduces the viewer to a mathematical point, fixing him to a particular spot in space and time."

Apples by Paul Cezanne

David Hockney's work  developing eye hand coordination and emotional response to the world in which he lives is  being celebrated in a gigantic lovely exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Hockney believes as I do too much attention has been given to the exploration of mind games and not enough to the exploration of drawing and our binocular vision as artists. Take a peek at this wonderful video. I hope to post more.

Read the blog Making a Mark for more information about the Royal Academy exhibition of David Hockneys current discoveries and work


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