Sunday, June 19, 2022


High Country

20” x 16”

Acrylic on Canvas

Last summer we hiked a ways up the trail above Andrews Lake, which has a name that escapes me now. The first mile or so is steep, though mostly shaded, and the trail pops you out on a broad, open area where you’re treated to 360º views. There are a few sitting-height rocks that are perfect for a rest and to take in the scenery. It’s really spectacular and worth the slog up the hill.  


From here, the trail descends and passes a couple of beautiful ponds and then continues to do what most trails seem to do: go up and down and up and down. 


Aside from the incredible views, one of my most favorite things along the trail is a small pine growing out of a crack in a large rock. It’s on a section that winds down yet another hill. I think that little tree is your reward for hiking back up that hill on the way out. I remember huffing and puffing and pausing there, saying, “Wait, I want to look at this cute tree again,” while I caught my breath.


It was a beautiful day and the cool air of the high country gave us welcome relief from the summer’s heat. As we traveled through this area on our return, once the trail started down that last steep hill, the late afternoon’s heat rose to meet us once again.


This is one of those pieces I struggled with a bit...repainting one section several times, but in the end, it worked out, I think. 

P.S. Apologies for the bad photo. This painting is better "in person"!

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Experimenting, Part Deux


While you haven’t heard from me in a while, plenty has been going on in the studio. I moved on to experiment with other techniques for multicolor relief prints. I have to say, this has taken a lot of time and produced what feels like minimal results. However, it’s been an interesting learning process. 


In my next effort, I used an extractive method, where the plate material is carved away with each successive color. In the end, most of the raised surface that would carry ink has been removed, and the original image is gone. Sadly, the results weren’t worth sharing.

Next, I tried a completely different method that uses a separate plate for each color. You start with a main “keyline” image, which you then transfer to tissue paper and then transfer again to the other plates.


The first series is of a white cosmos from last summer’s garden. It was carved into blocks of cherry wood. That was much easier than the plywood I used for the extractive experiment, however it still took several hours to carve the blocks. You can see I used a plate for multiple colors through selective inking. 

I experimented using both acrylic and oil paint on a lighter weight paper. The ink didn’t cover as well as I wanted, so with the next round, I used a better paper that was dampened and used oil paint. You can see the coverage is much more dense.

My next series was based on golden crocus planted last fall that rewarded us with glowing blossoms in early spring. I tried a new plate material made of rubber: much easier to carve—but somehow not as satisfying to work with as wood.


I created two sets of prints using acrylic paint, which is sooo much easier to clean up than oil. Using dampened paper gave me the coverage I wanted. With this round, I used a systematic approach to register the plates using guides to maintain a consistent position. That didn’t work as well as eyeballing it and carefully laying the plate onto the paper. I’m pretty sure that was operator error.

I have so much to learn and a lot more experimenting to do, but after all these variations, I needed more immediate satisfaction, so I returned to a painting I’d started before my printmaking frenzy.


Sunday, March 6, 2022


Backside of the Wasatch

6" x 4"

Mixed media

I’m using art muscles I haven’t used for a while; I’m revisiting woodcuts and experimenting with color.

Relief prints are a different animal and there are a few hills to climb on the return to this medium. But they are fun—and part of that fun is the unpredictability because of all the variables between the idea and completion.

When working in black and white, you have to think differently about how you will render your subject. What will be black, what will be white, and what’s in between? Color, is another, entirely different approach.

Rather than approach things in a fashion to get my woodcut legs under me again, I jumped right in. For my first attempt, the drawing was too complicated. I was excited go right to color, but I didn’t have my head in the woodcut game yet.

Aside from the part where you carve the image into wood (and not cut out the wrong spot), there is the challenge of inking the block with the right amount of ink and finding the right paper dampness that will give you a good print. I had several blobby messes and I’m still working it out.

I was able to salvage one of the prints by going over it with colored pencil. That's the image at the top.

After the first catastrophe, I threw my enthusiasm in reverse and decided to focus on a simpler image first printed in black only. I think it came out pretty well…

Then, I started experimenting with color again, and as with my first effort, I attempted to ink portions of the block with different colors. This is not particularly easy with a 4” x 6” image. Again, this resulted in several messes and I determined I needed to take another. However, I thought one of the results was kind of interesting even if the colors were miss-registered.

Next, I’m trying what is known as an extractive method, where in the end, the wood block is destroyed as you cut away the sections you no longer wish to print. We'll see how that goes...

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Struggle is Real

Pink Peonies

Acrylic on Wood panel

16" x 20"

If you’ve been in my studio lately you’ve seen this painting languishing, quietly saying, “Are you ever going to finish me?” Seems I finally did.
Friends of ours gave us this bouquet of peonies, and they were so beautiful, I had to paint them. They have several bushes in their yard that bloom spectacularly each year and they shower neighbors and friends with colorful bouquets.

I love peonies, but a deer yanked up the plant we had, just after one lonely blossom appeared. Apparently, she hadn’t heard that deer don’t eat peonies. It was probably the same doe that ate our ristra (made of dried red peppers) one winter. The deer will eat just about everything in our neighborhood. 

This piece is unique in that it is painted on a wooden panel with 1-inch sides—so the painting is continued on those side panels. 

Where the struggle I referred to comes in to play is that I have at least half a dozen unfinished paintings that I work on, set aside, work on some more, and so on.
I’ve got a lovely mountain scene from above Andrews Lake with a section I’ve reworked 3 times and I’m still not happy with it. (Grrrr.) Another is a waterfall that has great promise once I figure out what to do with the trees.
It’s always fun to start something new, but not always easy (or fun) to finish.
And, something else has captured my attention recently—a return to experimenting with woodcuts—and that’s been much more exciting. Stay tuned as that journey unfolds.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

October Sky


October Sky

15” x 11”

Watercolor + Colored Pencil

For me, there’s no greater way to spend my birthday than to pack up my watercolors or acrylics and go paint. Early October in Durango is a great time to get out and paint…the summer heat is tamed, the air has a coolness, yet the sun keeps you warm.

I was at an overlook along the Animas River when I painted this, and as you might tell from this sky, we had a storm move in that night that left us with a little snow. 

That day held one of those Colorado skies that I love, with layers upon layers of clouds—fluffy and white contrasting against water-laden bands of purple to the north. Another band of billowy clouds lay nestled between rows of ridges, while the nearby hills still showed hints of green from recent rains. The intense blue of the sky between the layers deepened as the afternoon worked its way toward day’s end.

Starting out as a watercolor, I brought this piece back to the studio and finished it with colored pencil. Don’t tell anyone, (especially the art police), but sometimes you can save a so-so watercolor with the addition of another media.

Red Arch

10” x 8”

Through my job with Great Old Broads for Wilderness, I had the opportunity to serve as the organization’s representative at a fundraising event that was a 5-day combination river trip-watercolor workshop on the San Juan River in Utah. I know, isn’t that the greatest thing ever?

I could go on and on about the trip, which was amazing. I had some anxiety beforehand, as it was my first multi-day river trip. Once I acclimated to the heat, the wind, and became “one with the sand” (as advised by a seasoned river woman), I found myself immersed in a magical landscape carved by wind and water with the most wonderful group of women you could hope to travel with.

Our watercolor instructor was the talented Suze Woolf, from whom I hoped to learn some color tricks and how to loosen up my painting. While waiting for a photo opportunity (part of my trip duties), I broke out my kit to paint the ridge to the east. This painting stayed quite loose as I was standing up, holding the paper in my hand. While compensating for the wind, I dabbed my brush into the palette balanced in the crotch of a tree, while my water container sat on the ground. (It was too damn hot to sit in the dirt.)

The cliffs jut impossibly high into the sky along parts of the river and the rock varies from smooth spans of creamy coral sandstone to black, pockmarked, and ribbed slabs of basalt. Of course, there is sand, sand, more sand, and gravel that wants to get into your sandals and chew up your feet. Crows and ravens soar above the cliffs, colorful lizards sun themselves on rocks, bighorn sheep (we saw lambs!) leap up and down ridiculously steep slopes, and feral burros bray through the night. There was no end to the visual entertainment.

We had plenty of painting time too, and while I didn’t come back with many “winners”, I learned a lot, got to know some great women, and have two or three more paintings that need finishing. More on unfinished paintings in a future post…

P.S. A big shout-out to Holiday River Expeditions, who gave us an exceptional adventure, and have the most accomplished kickass young women river guides—probably in the world.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Winter on the Mesa

Winter on the Mesa

20” X 16”
Acrylic on Canvas

Now that summer is nearly here, it’s time to share my last winter painting. One winter afternoon, we went to Mesa Verde National Park on what we thought would be a good day to avoid crowds. It wasn’t such a good day to avoid ice, though. It was sunny, but cold—and the road treacherous in the shady spots, black ice stealthy under a dusting of snow. We didn’t go as deep into the park as we’d hope to—nowhere near any of the ruins—but the landscape in the afternoon light was spectacular. We wandered a bit and enjoyed the crystal clear views along the north edge of the mesa.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Fall on Cascade Creek


Fall on Cascade Creek 

12” X 12”

Acrylic on Canvas

It was gray, with chances of snow, yet I was determined to get out and paint. Covid was surging again, and being housebound—even as a natural homebody—was starting to wear on me. It was late enough in the year that summer’s crowds were gone, so it seemed likely I would find a place that was slightly off the beaten path (in case it started to snow) where I could avoid crowds and spend some quiet time with nature.

I packed up my gear and a lunch, taking off early in the day—destination yet to be determined. As the road climbed, the colors became more intense. I pulled off at a popular stop and found there was just one other quiet group camped a few hundred feet away. It was perfect! It took me a few trips to carry my gear down to the creek, but once settled in, I was in heaven. The gray light of the day intensified the color of the leaves and the creek flowed silvery blue.

It snowed a little, but not enough to make me leave. I spent the entire day painting and soaking up the restorative scenery and occasional sun.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Between Here and There

Between Here and There

24” X 18”

Acrylic on Canvas

There’s a lot of beautiful country out there and sunset makes just about anywhere beautiful—not that this is “just anywhere.” This painting is from I photo I took somewhere outside of Kanab, Utah when traveling between Durango and Wrightwood. 

The color on the landscape helped revive us as we neared the end of a long day on the road. We pulled into Kanab just after dark, hungry and windshield weary, but glad to have enjoyed the breathtaking light show during the last few miles as the sun dropped below the horizon.