recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I haven’t much felt like painting since my Mom’s passing. I found it hard enough even to go for a walk never mind pick up a paint brush. But yesterday late afternoon I made myself go out. To get to the field I walk through a narrow hilly path, surrounded by old fruit trees, maple, elm and sumac as well as wild brambly growth. This kind of terrain attracts birds of all sorts and in the spring especially it is something to behold.

It was unusually warm, the snow was melting and the air had that fresh earthy smell usually associated with spring. In the distance a grouping of elms were black with grackles. I find it so interesting to watch flocks of birds gather as well as lift off and fly—especially before a storm. It seems so beautifully orchestrated, as if there is a bird conductor, cuing them as to when to lift off and where to make their beautiful waves in the sky and then where to land.

As I approached my path to head back I looked up in the trees and at first glance silhouetted in the branches I saw more of what I thought were grackles—but then I thought I heard the settling sounds of robin—couldn’t be –usually first sighting isn’t until late March. As I got closer and my eyes adjusted to the sun, sure enough there they were!. Three of them! As I made my way down the path towards home it felt as if they were accompanying me and by the time I got back to the house the trees were FULL. Every year I’ve lived here, families of robins have nested and brought up their young. Seeing them all together somehow reassures me that things will be okay.

A few plein air paintings done throughout the years depicting feathered friends--apologies for the bad photos....

April,Tree with Robin
acrylic on canvas
8x10in, 2009

April. Little Voices in the Air
oil in canvas
16x20in, 2007

April, Little Voices in the Air
oil on canvas
24x36in, 2008

October, Little Voices in the air
oil on canvas, 6x6in

April, Little Voices in the Air
encaustic on panel
6x10in, 2009



  1. I'm sorry to hear about your Mother's passing. Walks with nature always seem to put one in a better frame of mind, so I'm glad you were out on these spring like days. I love your way with you describe the flocks of birds. I have often watched them as they fly together, marveling at the symphony they make. And the robins were a welcome addition to the day...a sure sign of a new season.

    I love this poem by Archibald Lampman

    I feel the tumult of new birth;
    I waken with the wakening earth;
    I match the blurbird in her mirth;
    And wild with wind and sun,
    A treasurer of immortal days,
    I roam the glorious world with praise,
    The hillsides and the woodland ways,
    Till earth and I are one

  2. Oh, Jan, I am sorry to hear about your mom. Thinking of you. Katherine

  3. I really feel for you Jan. I am lucky so far, I still have my mum and she is 91 years old. I cannot imagine a future without her but your words tell me it will be possible somehow. Thank you for that. Your robin paintings are superb, lovely little gems and what great little birds they are. We have them too.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. There are really no words so sending you a big, virtual (((HUG))) today. Today, I saw a bluejay flash across the bright and bold and quick. These little things are gifts to us that are easy to forget in the midst of pain. I'm glad you remember the tree full of robins (our robins never left during our winter and they say they are changing their wintering grounds and returning earlier in spring).

  5. Beautiful robin paintings Jan they really sing out with colour and light. Losing a parent is a really sad thing and it takes a long time to come to terms with. I found it hard not to be able to pick up the phone and hear my father's voice and thought I won't ever hear him again. In time he simply became a part of me not just a distant memory.

  6. Your robins have not gone unnoticed here--thanks for the reminder (I've been on the lookout). Smiles. Your Winter Sky painted with your moms supplies is a most touching tribute to her. My deepest sympathies. I would love to see some of her work--she must have had a profound infleuence on you artistically [and otherwise]. Your friend, Wm

  7. Hi Jan, I am new to your work and blog, but at a passing glance read this post about your mother passing (and Robins) and wanted to respond. My American husband passed away suddenly one night at age 45 quite a few years back now. Nothing can get you through the grief, except yourself and time…it’s as if it (grief) has it’s own entity. ‘A Greif Observed’ by CS Lewis was one book I read and felt some kin with…that and long walks, and falling in love with the physical act of painting all over again. I remember clearly on a cold very wintery Maryland March day, when my husband’s ashes were laid to rest, that as soon as we laid down the stone, and planted the tree of remembrance, the sun shone on the stone and ground in a swath of eerie atmospheric light. Just like you knew your robins were guiding you back home, telling you everything will be OK… my swath of light was telling me to let go of the pain and start living my life again.
    I love “April, Little Voices In the Air’…we have two Robins who hang out with us in our garden, especially when were are digging. They have become so tame that they sit just a few feet away watching and waiting for worms. Since we moved to our old, old cottage near Exmoor (UK)…. I am amazed at the amount of wild bird activity in our cottage garden. I have never painted birds before.

  8. Jan, were we both on one of Deborah Paris's on line courses before? My life has been so hectic lately that the courses I took with her in 2009 seem like a blurr...