recent paintings and news

recent paintings and news

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Escarpment winter & December moon

We had our first 'official' snowfall here in Niagara, On, yesterday and this is my first official response to the winter season on the escarpment.

  December (departure), plein air, oil and cold wax on canvas, 11x14in, 2012, available

I never seem to exhaust this subject, nor do I want to. I know each tree so well as they are in front of my studio. I have painted them many times through the years and they continue to lead me on. 

This was rendered with lots of cold wax and knife work.

On another note, did anyone get a chance to see the last full moon of the year ?

December, full cold moon, encaustic on panel, from almanac moon series, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

sun standing still

Every solstice I am compelled to create in response to the ‘sun standing still’. After wandering my beloved field yesterday, I worked on the painting below, well into the night-the longest night of the year.

December,  Solstice, oil / cold wax on canvas, 18x24in, 2012, available

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!                                                                                   

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

Friday, December 21, 2012

solstice, sunlight

Happy Solstice

'The returning sunlight is invited in with many symbols: Trees and evergreens, a variety of fires, candles, logs; and always singing and dancing. All the Winter Solstice symbols are a reminder that the sun is eternal, the cycle is renewing, and so are you. The sun is a symbol of our interconnectedness. It shines equally on all, and mother nature supports all equally. It is a time of finding unity.
Life on earth continually changes, yet the sun endures. It is the source of light and life. Cultures change and traditions come and go, and symbols are in or out of favour. The return of the light on Winter Solstice underlies all traditions of this season.'

 December,  oil / aluminum on canvas, 48x48in, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

being brave

detail: the more things change

When I was in Ireland the message below was taped to the studio wall along with the dried rose. The two words resonated so much that when I returned, I wrote them, with charcoal, on my own studio wall

When I am pushing ahead and feeling doubt, they reassure me, and I am not afraid; in fact, I welcome the journeys that are mapped from failure.

The more things change, encaustic and vine on canvas, 16x20in, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Time is so elusive these days...

I did manage to get out for a quick plein air fix

December, remains of the Day, Niagara Escarpment, plein air, oil on canvas, 11x14in, 2012, available

This is worked on top of another failed painting-I enjoy pulling the paint over hardened,  slick texture. I like the resist, and being visceral in approaching some passages.

This past month, I have been transitioning my studio time. I hate these short winter days and we have had so many grey ones here that I can't work as I'd like-even indoors as the natural light in my studio is too dark. So I have been working on some other projects under artificial light and into the night-nothing to show yet but I'm enjoying the different 'head space' I have at this time of day. My right brain is willing to oblige and seems to be more in sync and open to possibilities- at least so far-fingers crossedxxx

Monday, December 3, 2012

encaustic etc

 Gold Leaf with Wild Asters, Niagara Escarpment
 oil, gold leaf and encaustic on canvas
 24x48in, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

protectors of nature

Below is another image inspired by my experience in Ireland.
Epona and Macha are Celtic horse Goddesses who watch over the land, protecting its abundance and insuring a good harvest. As protectors of nature, they grant sovereignty over the land and are the goddesses of the stable, protecting all who work with horses. They guide and protect.

Embedded deeper into the wax is the Inverurie Horses" symbol-a design created by George Bain, inspired by a Pictish image of a horse he found carved into a stone in Inverurie, Scotland. It too is thought to represent the three "Great Horse" goddesses of Celtic mythology: "Epona" (Gaulish), "Macha" (Irish), and "Rhiannon" Welsh. 

voyager 2, encaustic on panel, 8x12in, 2012, available

Spirals represent the journey of soul from the sacred vortex uncoiling outward to fill the universe, then returning to the balanced center. Spirals are a natural pattern found in wind and water currents, trees, shells, and seeds and express the unfolding of the earth’s energies and the expansion of the universe.
Throughout the layering process I intermittently added powdered aluminum pigment and although the digital image does not show, light moves continuously through the work.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy December

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon
December is here before it's June
My Goodness how the time has flewn
How did it get so late so soon?

 Dr. Seuss

December, Niagara Escarpment, encaustic on box, 11x4x4in, 2011/12

Sunday, November 25, 2012



Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
"Starlings in Winter" by Mary Oliver, from Owls and Other Fantasies

   Murmuration,  encaustic on box, 6x4x11in, 2012

Murmuration,  detail on box lid

murmuration, detail on box side

Friday, November 23, 2012

current forecast

In light of the current forecast, (first snow of the season) I thought I'd post this plein air study. It was painted last winter during a snow storm where I took cover in an old shed.

February, Niagara Escarpment
oil on canvas, plein air, 8x10in
  available for auction :

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Open Studio`LIVE`

Between teaching, building a new website and attempting to paint the odd masterpiece, I have also managed to upload work to the Open Studio`LIVE` site. 

The third annual online art auction is now up and running (more than I can say for me). 

I will be shamelessly flogging it  by posting featured images. 

February, Niagara escarpment
encaustic on canvas

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

art-making and tools

Tools are an important, and personal, part of making art. Our attachment to them is so interesting-we all have our favourite brush, knife etc. Any time that I introduce a new tool as part of my process I will try to use it -and only it- in the initial stages of a  painting's unfolding. I want to not only push it, but I want it to guide me in order to explore new possibilities. This is emphasized in my classes but I am planning to introduce a new workshop that will focus entirely on tools in making art. stay tuned.

 November, Niagara Escarpment, oil on canvas, 20x30in, 2012, available

 Other than laying in an initial  thin under wash with a large house painting brush, the image above was rendered with one brush- a number 12 bright.

Unfortunately I was too impatient to put another coat of gesso on the canvas before starting. It's been sucking up the thin layers of paint so there will be a few areas to be touched up, but I will stay with the same brush size.

Monday, November 5, 2012

sweetness of solitude

When I dance, I dance; when I sleep, I sleep; yes, and when I walk alone in a beautiful orchard, if my thoughts have been dwelling elsewhere, I bring them back to the walk, to the orchard, to the sweetness of this solitude, and to me.                                                                                            MicheldeMontaigne                                                                                                          

 Fall (into place) 
October, Niagara Escarpment
 oil on canvas, 20x30in
 2012, available

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

new class: November

paint play

Last Dance, Niagara escarpment, oil on canvas, 16x20in, 

This ongoing series will open up new ideas and fresh ways of seeing.

 Exploration in varying influences and techniques are emphasized and you will be encouraged to experiment with colour pallet, brush work and paint application.

We will work from direct observation as well as learn how to use reference materials so your paintings look fresh and vital-not copied. Choose your preferred subject matter i.e.  landscape, abstract or still life. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A few plein air studies

 October, Niagara Escarpment, fog study, oil on canvas, 6x6in

Whenever I change my palette or experiment with new painting tools / approaches, I  tend to start off small...

October, Niagara Escarpment,  plein air study, oil on canvas, 6x6in,  2012

The following is a little heavy-handed but I like it 

October, Niagara Escarpment,  plein air study, oil on canvas, 2012, 6x6in

Sunday, October 21, 2012


"October gave a party; The leaves by hundreds came- The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, And leaves of every name. The Sunshine spread a carpet, And everything was grand, Miss Weather led the dancing, Professor Wind the band."
 - George Cooper

 October, Niagara escarpment, plein air study, oil on canvas, 11x14in, available

 "Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
-   Elizabeth Lawrence

Sunday, October 7, 2012


'We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.'  Cynthia Ozick
  September, remains of the Day, Niagara Escarpment
 plein air, oil/cold wax on panel, 2012

 "Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity."
  Sean O'Casey

Friday, October 5, 2012


Below is a wee study -am still entranced with edges, convergence and things in between.

October, Remains of the Day
plein air, oil/cold wax on panel
8x10in, 2012


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

'rags for those loved', intentions from Ireland


Wish Horse
 rags for those loved', intentions from Ireland  
outdoor installation, Grimsby Public Art Gallery
Niagara, ON, Canada

This is a toy horse that my daughter played with as a child. I embellished it with  feathers for flight and a jewel for luck. Before I hung it on the rag tree (borrowed from the Irish custom which you can read about here) , I made a wish, or 'intention' as they like to phrase it.

A few images of the project-as usual I forgot to take many photos and these are not the best. I will be going back periodically to document the tree as it fills, but along with rags and the wee wish horse, I have seen a child's purse, a pair of reading glasses, some small ears of corn, and even paintbrushes suspended from the branches (not mine). I added some rags that my Mother used for painting-she never threw anything out-she would wash and re-use them.
I am so grateful that the gallery has allowed me to leave the installation up for an extended period! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Plein Air Classes

Fall is such a short season-why not make the most of it? Join us outdoors in Niagara's  orchards, fields and vineyards while they are bursting with colour. 


Plein Air Painting 
All sessions are held on the Niagara Escarpment, a Unesco world biosphere reserve


These in-depth sessions will address challenges specific to the outdoor painter.  After my trip to Ireland I have learned about packing light, working with a simplified pallet, preparing surfaces and working fast with the changing light! I will share techniques including pre-mixing predominant seasonal pallets, building composition and economy of brushwork. You will be responsible for your own supplies and a list is provided upon registration. Some outdoor easels are available.
Ongoing Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the fall:
10am -12:30pm or 6-8:30pm
info/prices/register here 
secure online payments via paypal accepted

Thursday, September 20, 2012


 It’s interesting what ‘sparks’ inspiration. Last summer I worked on a series of small nocturnes(firefly moondance), incorporating them with my encaustic work. 

This week someone posted a simple poem on facebook. It beckoned me to re-visit the theme-on a larger scale.

 I also think it resonated because of the project that I will be presenting on Saturday. I grieve for my Mother-I crave her physical presence. At present, the physicality of making art settles this longing, allowing-for a time- peace and acceptance.

Firefly Moondance, oil/cold wax on canvas, 24x36in, 2012


As subtle as a fairy's sigh,
aloft on summer's velvet night,
the blinking of a firefly
anoints the dark with specks of light.
It's said that they illuminate
the spirits of our loved ones gone,
who wink at us from heaven's gate
and flash their love, like sparks of dawn.
These creatures, magical and small,
are bearers of immortal souls
who come to comfort one and all
by glowing soft like warming coals.
So in that moment, brief and bright,
we lay our grief and sorrow by,
and smile each time we catch the sight
of the elusive firefly.

Katharine L. Sparrow

Sunday, September 16, 2012

fall (into place)

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Confucius

fall (into place), Niagara Escarpment, oil on canvas, 48x48in, 2012

 I did have many falls in the making of this painting, but the process taught me a lot

Don't learn to do, but learn in doing. Let your falls not be on a prepared ground, but let them be bona fide falls in the rough and tumble of the world. Samuel Butler

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rags for Those Loved

below is an invitation for those who live near or are visiting the Niagara region:

photo courtesy of Carol O'brien

I  will be presenting a public installation on September 22 in conjunction with Niagara  Night (& Day) of Art. The project is intended bring to attention the importance of hospital and hospice in our community and the public is invited to participate.

During my Ireland residency while travelling around the countryside, from time to time I came across a tree completely covered in rags or scraps of clothing.
I learned the rags are placed there by people who believe that if a piece of clothing from someone who is ill, or has a problem of any kind, is hung from the tree the problem or illness will disappear as the rag rots away.
Tying rags as an offering to a sacred tree is an ancient Celtic tradition still alive in Ireland. The fabric is meaningful - it symbolizes a desire or dream.
Some leave offerings to saints, others to ancient gods or nature spirits. Sometimes the rag represents a wish or aspiration.The fabric used in rag trees is symbolic so the types of rags tied to branches vary widely, from lovely, shining silken ribbons to simple scraps.
The public is invited to adorn a tree with rags, ribbons, clothing, trinkets or any object they find to be meaningful. They can come, make a wish or say a prayer for loved ones who are ill or have passed, bringing  to attention the importance of hospital and hospice in our community. The artist will be present during the day between 12PM and 4PM. 
In my research I have  been corresponding with Irish photographer Carol O'brien:

this is exactly what the custom of the Rag Tree is - an offering in exchange for an intention (or wish), whether that be for those still with us, or for the memory of those who have passed. One of the lovely things about the tree is seeing the colours of the new items against the faded and discoloured items which have been on the tree for years and seem to have blended themselves into the bark. Also the variety of items on it - from actually rags torn from clothing, to rosary beads, to lengths of ribbon, to hair ties, to belts, even socks! But mostly you find yourself looking at an item and wondering who had left it, or when, and what intention was so important to have granted that they would leave behind some part of themselves, and most importantly - was their intention granted! Every item holds a secret and a storey and I think it is this that makes the tree so full of mystery and symbolism!'

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the kind of September

Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh
so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember and if you remember
then follow, follow.

Try to remember when life was so tender
When no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
When dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
When love was an ember about to billow.
Try to remember and if you remember
then follow, follow.

 Deep in December it's nice to remember
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
Without a hurt the heart will hollow.
Deep in December
it's nice to remember
The fire of September that made you mellow.
Deep in December our hearts should remember and follow, follow.
written by Tom Jones and Harvey Shmidt

September, remains of the day, Niagara Escarpment, plein air, oil on canvas, 11x14in, available