Friday, March 10, 2017

Taize I


Sometimes I need a diversion.When I'm stuck in my painting process or sequence, I experiment with something totally different.These small tapestries were inspired by organic forms found in my landscape.We have banana plants surrounding our property. When I trim the dead leaves I often pull off strips of bark and dry them by laying books on top as a press. When dry, I find beautiful variations of texture and natural color imprinted on the strips. I also dry and press leaves I find on the ground in our landscape. 

Taize II
Another activity I do when stuck is read about other artists. I subscribe to a weekly email titled Sam & Joe - Their letter features various textile artists and processes. Recently I read one of the posts and found inspiration for combining stitching with natural forms by artist Alice Fox.I often incorporate thread and stitching in my paintings but this time I was inspired to combine thread with natural forms on raw linen sans paint. 

Taize III

By combining these two inspirations I made five 8" x 8" meditative pieces. The process reminded me of Taize music. A friend introduced me to Taize choruses a few years ago at a contemplative retreat. The music emphasizes simple phrases, usually lines from Psalms or other scripture, repeated several times.  I searched Taize music on my iPad and played it while I was working.One of the phrases was; Bless the Lord, my soul/And bless God's holy  name/Bless the Lord, my soul/Who leads me into life. The music is uncomplicated, often with organ and choir accompaniment. That's the backstory for Taize Tapestries and I hope you'll enjoy seeing the results of my diversion.  I'm back on track with painting again so I think it was worth the change in process.  Click image to zoom.
Taize V

Taize IV

Friday, January 22, 2016

The entrance to our farmhouse in the middle
 of Tuscany and the agritourism fields

It's hard to believe 2016 has begun and I have not written for months on this blog.  One of my intentions this year is to be more consistent with communications on my blog, website and social media.  

Reviewing my previous posts, I realize I did not mention an amazing three week journey to Italy last summer near the town of Castel del Piano.   I was privileged to be accepted as an Artist in Residence with Respiro, a residency offered by Transform, the creative ministry in New York City with Cru.  I joined 17 other artists from various cities in order to be in community making art, sharing stories, workshops,   biblical studies, lectures and  prayer.

I made some sketches of the landscape while we were there and other small watercolor pieces.  Last fall I began responding on larger panels using these sketches as inspiration.  However, I got stuck and nothing was progressing in a way I wanted.  After a dialogue with a friend and colleague, I'm now moving forward with those pieces and they are totally different than I thought they would be.  I plan to share the pieces as they are finished. 

For now, I'll post a  watercolor sketch I completed in the studio from a photograph I took on a walk around the town of Arcidosso. The history of the town is so interesting and the textures of the buildings beautiful.  I found my eyes feasting on all the beauty surrounding me and had to respond.

This is an introduction to the process of several months in making a series inspired from this trip.  Every time I make a series the inspiration takes a different form and the process has different timing.  I'm beginning to accept the timetable without stressing as much 
as I used to.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

acrylic on canvas
30" x 30"

Waiting produces a response

This piece is the first of my works for 2015. It comes as a response to recent personal experiences.  Within two months, I had two medical tests which could have been life-changing.  I waited one month for results on one and over a week for the other.

During that time, I had many opportunities to learn how to live moment by moment.  I found a new thankfulness for every breath I take and responded with making this piece.

I decided to use the color of soil referencing the dust of the ground from which Adam was formed and the transparency of breath, referencing the breath of life that God breathed into Adam.  I remembered the many times I walked outside in the cold when I was a kid and purposely blew my breath in order to see a white transparent cloud in front of me.  
During the weeks of waiting I studied the names of God and their meanings and found a thread of peace and calmness with a deeper understanding of who God is.  You can visit my website at to read the complete reflection under the menu item Artist Reflections.  I'm currently working on two more pieces that may become part of a series.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Painting Visual Narratives

My studio time has been up and down recently with challenges in getting back into the flow of painting.  I find when I have been inconsistent in my studio for a period of time, I can be discouraged and dissatisfied with my work.

I found an article posted online that gives me hope; photographer David duChemin ( wrote about Knowing Your Rhythm. He relates the inevitable ups and downs in our creative work using the wave as an analogy. I can't write here all he said, but in a summary, he states when we find ourselves in the lows of the wave, we can consciously feed our inspiration by going to a museum, gallery, coffee shop, library, theater or wherever we are inspired. He mentions a wave is not a wave without the lows and creativity often happens in the space between the highs and lows.  So I keep painting and doing the research waiting for the momentum to push me up again.

This painting . . .and the wind ran out of breath was actually painted several months ago but I'm just now posting it.  The inspiration comes from the story of Jesus calming the water while the disciples are in the boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.  It contrasts the stormy sky with the glass-like sea.  I feel a little familiarity about this piece because of all the tumultuous thunderstorms we have had this summer.  I imagined myself in a boat in the midst of that storm and  thought how frightened I would be.  The instantaneous calm made the disciples stand in awe.  If you want to read the whole reflection and references, go to  , click on Artist Reflections from the menu.

. . .and the wind ran out of breath
acrylic on cradled board
24 x 48", diptych

As I regain my rhythm in the studio, I look forward to gradually rising to the peak and continuing my next decade of paintings.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


It's been many months since I've posted.  Life has a way of squeezing out these tasks that are important but seem to take a back seat to other items at the top of the to do list.  Today is the day I am intentionally moving the task of writing to the top of the list.

My husband and I have been on staff of Cru for over 40 years.  When that milestone was reached the Legacy Project invited us to videotape our stories.  Two years ago we taped our 3 hour session telling various parts of our pilgrimage.  It was then edited down to very concise 4-5 minute presentations.

I just received notice that the story of my art journey is now edited and posted on YouTube.  I'm sharing this video link with you so you can join me for a look at my mission over the years.  It's an emotional journey for me and I'm full of gratitude that I have had the privilege of making art and connecting with so many wonderful artists and patrons all over the globe.This has not been a journey alone, as I would like to acknowledge my husband and our children as well as many artists and art organizations who have mentored me and shown me the way.

Check out the link below:

You may also be interested in viewing other staff person's stories.  These videos represent many years of service from very gifted and committed people we have had the pleasure of working alongside for many years.  .

Saturday, September 21, 2013

 The Back Story

Harvest Psalter
24" x 24"
acrylic on canvas with gold thread
commissioned by Spark and Echo Arts
photo by Guy Gerrard
I'm always engaged in my art process.  The image begins in my head weeks before I apply paint to canvas.  This work, Harvest Psalter,  was no different with the exception that I got stuck several places along the way. 

I was commissioned early in the year as an artist for Spark and Echo Arts who have a vision for creatively illuminating every scripture in the Bible. Because that is my normal inspiration and I am a supporter of their mission,  I thought this would be easy. I had an image in my head after my usual research and reading and I enthusiastically began to paint.

But doubts soon took over.  I've never experienced so much opposition to what I thought I was supposed to do.   I ended up painting over and over the work and then  decided to abandon one piece and start on fresh paper. 

A still small voice said keep climbing the hill.  I started the second piece with only values of color, dark to light.  After some time, I stood back and began seeing the heads of wheat faintly appearing.  I kept adding subtle layers of color along the top until I stepped back and saw what I wanted. . . .a field of wheat ready for harvest! Comparing the two pieces and asking friends for critique, I had no doubt this was the one.

I began the process of adding the gold thread only to notice I did not have enough yardage to complete the width. I discovered the online site where I previously ordered the non-tarnishing thread no longer supplied it.  After research, I found a site in London that had it in stock and ordered it and waited for it to arrive.  In case you didn't count, there are 50 threads of varying lengths individually sewn into the paper! 

The next step was to adhere the paper onto a cradled board so it can be displayed.  I've done this often and had no problem gluing it on, weighting it down and waiting 24 hours for it to dry. However, .when I took the weights off I saw two small and two big air bubbles appear.  Now I was really questioning if I was supposed to do this.  I requested prayer from artist friends and one was kind enough to research and give me a possible solution.  I tried it and it worked!  I'm so grateful for my artist community and supporters.

Final step:  photograph in high resolution to post on the website by a certain date--no problem.   As hard as my husband and I tried,  we could not get good enough lighting to capture the color and gold threads in enough detail.  In the end, I was fortunate to find a professional photographer at our office that agreed to take the photo as shown at the top.  Finally complete, I could relax and truly enjoy this work!

If you've made it to the end of this long epistle, I hope you have a little more insight to the work an artist faces in the whole process of making art.  Some pieces are easier than others, but all the time it is a work of joy to serve humanity with my hands and the gift God gave me. 

To read the reflection about Harvest Psalter, visit and click on "Artist Reflections".

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Visual Haiku 

In January I posted on this blog my thoughts about the books I was currently reading. The Artist's Rule, and Haiku~the sacred art, have influenced my latest series.  Both underscore a process of taking time to see what is around me and holding it in my heart.   It reminds me of the Hebrew word, Selah that I pondered several years ago which means pause and think about that. 

The principles of haiku and monasticism complement my introverted temperament which needs time, silence and meditation to ruminate on what I have seen, heard or read. Margaret McGee writes that a haiku is a prayer of praise, celebrating God’s creation and reflecting back simply and clearly what we experience.  I have been intentional about saying more with less and leaving only the bones of the composition and/or finding the essence of the object or moment and leaving everything else out. 

This series of images captures the moment in a most economical manner and pasess it on; what I call a Visual Haiku. I can imagine this to be an ongoing series with pieces added throughout the year(s) as I become aware of those special fleeting moments. I have posted these images on my website, along with my reflections about each piece.  If you have a chance, please visit

The Artist’s Rule; nurturing your creative soul with monastic wisdom, Christine Valters Paintner, 2011

Haiku~the sacred art, Margaret D. McGee, 2009