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Friday Plein Air Painters at Cool Spring Preserve

Invisible insects sing soprano as I saunter past, their sudden silence a moving bubble of quiet surrounded by a sea of sound.

I choose a spot by the stream with lovely benches and even pop-up tables. The sun plays hide and seek with the clouds in the landscape. I hear more than feel the breeze, enveloped as I am in brush and branch.

And that is the star. The feeling I want to convey, of coziness, of protection, of sharing a secret with this little glade.

I pull out paper and start to sketch and find I want to explore the textures in the burled sycamore wading in the stream. And then a flash and a splash and I’m drawn into a giant leaf slowly spinning and circling in an eddy before catching the current and racing down stream. I wish I could think fluently in music, for right now that’s how I would compose….

I settle on the sweeping tangle of marsh and meadow to the far-off farm. But in the midst, a leaf  lands dramatically next to my paints. Watercolors.  Not a familiar medium for me, but fascinating and most important, portable.  “Paint me, paint me!” the leaf demands. I laugh and continue my wash, so different from the stream-side glade I initially intended to explore… but that’s the way it goes.  Listen to the landscape….


I bid my spot farewell, even as the infinitely intricate (intricately infinite?) negative spaces in the leaves try to lure me in…

I don’t realize how chilly I get sitting on the cold bench until I start back. The last time I wandered this trail, hoarfrost twinkled from every blade and secret hollow.  Let me see if I can find a picture….February feels like a lifetime ago.

The painters head off home, but I’ve packed my running gear and look forward to logging a couple of miles. The trails are springy and welcoming underfoot. A brief bright blob bounding into the woods shows why it’s called Whitetail Trail. When I pass my spot by the stream, my bossy leaf has blown on…

A hidden vista off a side trail. A palette of leaves and lichen.  A trail through a tunnel to wonderland.  The soaring buzzards are too far off to see unless you blow up the photo…but scant minutes later I startle when they swoop down just above me. That’s why they’re called buzz-ards, I laugh to myself.

I’m fascinated at the contrast of texture that rolls by.  Spike and tendril.  Vapor and solid. Fluid and unyielding.


Puff and sweat.  Pause to shoot. The trail turns towards home, past a bucolic pasture scene. As I raise my phone,  the statuesque bull lazily flops his head all the way to the ground, now just a distant blurry blob.  I think about calling to him for a more majestic pose but realize the wisdom of letting sleeping bulls lie. Enjoy the sunshine, buddy….


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Pathway to a Palette

The choice of a color palette dictates the mood of a painting.  Color theory is an ongoing source of inspiration, frustration, and constant study. And yet, as each season unfurls, I’m struck with nature’s ever-changing, harmonic color, and EFFORTLESS palettes. Einstein urges, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

And so I do.


From each hike, run, and round of farm chores, the world gifts me new palettes to explore.

Or not….

Toni Morrison reminds us: “at some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.”

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Friday Painters: Blandy Arboretum

Mark takes the day off so we can continue my Birthday festivities with the new Steeplechase exhibit at the NSLM, some delicious pub fare, an errand at the secondhand tack shop, and a visit with a friends feisty black colt.  I tear and fold a little concertina spread, and drip and splash inks in advance.

But first, Friday Painters at the Arboretum.  We love this place!  After we say hi, we drive around a bit to see what calls to be painted today.  So much amazingness in this sprawling wonderland!  When we get to my rocks, I ask Mark to drop me off.

I sit and just soak up the scene for a few minutes, listening to the landscape.  The sun burns relentlessly somewhere on the far side of the mist.  These 3 rocks, as they march across the hilltop, whisper of rolling waves and I think of lava deepdeepdeep in the earth’s core, in long ago time. I imagine all the swirl and fury trapped in sharp immobility, yet somehow remembering endless motion.

Blind contour drawing.  Splashes of watercolor, still unfamiliar.

My bladder urges me on, long before the sketch is “done.”

Mark had planned to run a few miles while I paint, but instead takes a well-deserved snooze.

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“Buzz-hundheit!” Stop-Motion Play

Morning email brings an invitation to join the “Kitchen Table Film Festival.”  Kara Kramer, Carla Sonheim and her team have combined “Make it Move-a Low-tech Intro into Animation” with a sure-to-be joyous online film festival to celebrate all the new creations!  Take THAT, Covid!

Despite childhood dreams of creating the next “Fantasia,” I haven’t done anything with animation.  Perfect!

With that niggling feeling that IceKanse wants to take me in new directions, I decide to spotlight some of the misprints.

Can you tell it’s a heckuvan allergy season!

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No Foolin’

April Fools, and there’s a thin slab of ice on the smaller water buckets.  As much a gift as the tulips exploding through winter’s doldrums-wahoo!  A whole new palette, a whole new perspective… and new pressure to create pictures as the ice trickles then streams down my arm.

A playful narrative begins to form. Vincent Van Gogh and Alice in Wonderland join me in revelry.  But even as the ice melts the implications are chilling:  everyone, everything from the fresh blossoms bursting from still cold soil to the historical house standing stoically among the growing floral kerfuffle will be affected if not destroyed by climate change….



“Alice Gallivant”



“Vincent Strolls”


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The Path through Copper Mountain

The “Icekance” series continues to grow, the mythology to evolve.  The journey always beckons, however much we wish to curl up on the couch as the earth spins through space. Sometimes the way is clear.  Such is the Path through Copper Mountain, buoyed by a Lowland Lullaby….



“The Path through Copper Mountain”



“Lowland Lullaby”


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Wild Horse Painting and Photography Workshop

Neither flu nor strep nor forecast nor’easters can keep me away from the wild horses this weekend!  Panels toned and drying for this much-anticipated plain air workshop on Assateague Island.  I can’t wait to see what they look like come Sunday! All thanks to Mark for this amazing birthday present! (Don’t worry folks, doc swears I’m not contagious!)


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Moving On

“Aslan’s” new owner picked the perfect frame for this wild-maned little pastel! When she picked him up, freshly matted and framed, “Munchkin” was up on the computer, ready for upload. The buyer instantly fell in love and insisted on taking her home as well.  I love happy endings!

Aslan: 5×5 Pastel on paper

Munchkin Repose: 5×7 Acrylic on canvas panel