Thursday, December 25, 2014


Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood

William Cullen Bryant1794 - 1878
Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men
And made thee loathe thy life. The primal curse
Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth,
But not in vengeance. God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, misery. Hence, these shades
Are still the abodes of gladness; the thick roof
Of green and stirring branches is alive
And musical with birds, that sing and sport
In wantonness of spirit; while below
The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect,
Chirps merrily. Throngs of insects in the shade
Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam
That waked them into life. Even the green trees
Partake the deep contentment; as they bend
To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene.
Scarce less the cleft-born wild-flower seems to enjoy
Existence, than the winged plunderer
That sucks its sweets. The massy rocks themselves,
And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees
That lead from knoll to knoll a causey rude
Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots,
With all their earth upon them, twisting high,
Breathe fixed tranquillity. The rivulet
Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o’er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks,
Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice
In its own being. Softly tread the marge,
Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren
That dips her bill in water. The cool wind,
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee,
Like one that loves thee nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.

If the usual holiday stresses are getting to you.  If you are not feeling the peace on earth, goodwill to men...then go to nature.  Nature is the great healer.  Nature gets into your lungs and lets you breathe easier.  Nature gets into your eyes and gives you inspiration for drawings, photos, paintings.  Nature gets into your heart and eases whatever burden is there.  If it is impossible for you to go to nature, then go virtually by visiting these wonderful artists who walk the paths for us and see the beauty that abounds - and shares that beauty with us:

And these are just a listing of 7 of my favorite nature artists blogs.  Visit, and breathe easier.  They are my holiday gifts to you all.  

May the promise of the New Year be fulfilled in your lives...see you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


A Winter Blue Jay

Sara Teasdale1884 - 1933
Crisply the bright snow whispered,
Crunching beneath our feet;
Behind us as we walked along the parkway,
Our shadows danced,
Fantastic shapes in vivid blue.
Across the lake the skaters
Flew to and fro,
With sharp turns weaving
A frail invisible net.
In ecstasy the earth
Drank the silver sunlight;
In ecstasy the skaters
Drank the wine of speed;
In ecstasy we laughed
Drinking the wine of love.
Had not the music of our joy
Sounded its highest note?
But no,
For suddenly, with lifted eyes you said,
“Oh look!”
There, on the black bough of a snow flecked maple,
Fearless and gay as our love,
A bluejay cocked his crest!
Oh who can tell the range of joy
Or set the bounds of beauty?

And I must be getting better, because I got a small sketch in my birdsketch book.  Using graphite and the blue Prismacolor Col-Erase pencil.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


In the Stillman & Birn watercolor journal.  
Mangrove bits I picked up on the beach, took home and painted.

Friday, December 19, 2014


From my Stillman & Birn watercolor journal.  Seagrape leaves turning.  Collected during a walk on the island.

The leaves were all colors, from deep green to yellow and on to red.  I liked the golden color of these so brought them home and painted this while sitting by the window in the 2nd house we rented (it was the 2nd week before I began to feel like even thinking about painting).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I took myself to Urgent Care yesterday morning (after cancelling class) because I thought I had developed pneumonia.  The doctor there said my lungs didn't sound like pneumonia, but I could have early pneumonia or bronchitis.  Fun!  Sharp pains and unable to breathe some strong meds to kick this thing. 

So until I'm better, I'll share a few more photos of the trip.  Enjoy, especially if you are somewhere cold and dreary with snow on the way.

White ibis on the beach right outside the house we rented for a week.  At one point, I looked out and there were 13 of them walking on the deck!  Fun - but a bit big to start feeding and have coming around begging for food every day :)

Just north of us was The Rod and Reel pier.  Lots of fisherfolk catching things off the pier and lots of birds hanging around, waiting for scraps from the extra bait or fish scraps from the cleaning tables.  This fine fellow was patient and willing to pose for a photos.  There is something prehistoric about pelicans, especially when they are flying overhead.

This big guy, a great blue heron, hung out at the Rod and Reel, too.  He was a bit more skittish, though, and didn't let you get too close.  It was fun watching the egrets walking around amongst the fisherpeople like they belonged and weren't the least bit afraid.  Seems the staff at the Rod and Reel (which has a restaurant and bar) feed scraps and bits to the egrets and they have gotten pretty tame and used to people.

I'll photograph the two small paintings I did and share them next.  Hope you all are having a good week so far.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


This last trip to Anna Maria Island would have been perfect the first week, if I hadn't come down with a cold the first evening we were there!  Making the best of it and toughing it out with lots of cold meds, we still walked the beach, watched the herons, egrets, ibises, sandpipers and pelicans and even had a snowy egret come to the house (on the beach on the bayside) to try to get us to feed him (obviously previous visitors had done that because he was very persistent!).

First photo is of the north point of the island, called Bean Point.  A cloudy day gave way to a cool, windy evening and we were the only two brave souls on the beach for a while.

And here's Elvis (yes, we named him).  He was persistent and brave enough to come right up to the door to beg for handouts!  

From the beach side, looking towards our beach house with two snowies sitting on our deck chairs.  They were very used to people being around but you couldn't get too close or they'd saunter off (just a slow saunter away from you because they wanted you to know they weren't afraid of you, they just didn't feel like having a closer encounter.)

This guy, a great blue heron, came to our beach house each morning and evening, just walking the beach, searching for something good to eat in the water and sand.  He was in a little area near the City Pier in this photo - and was so still, even when we got close, I thought it was a trick - not a real bird.  He finally got tired of us and moved slowly slowly away.  Perhaps he was meditating and we disturbed him?

We even drove up to Weeki Wachee Springs to see the real mermaid show - and it was worth the 2-hour drive.  Their space is huge so they can do some real acrobatics in the water and put on a nice show.

This photo shows some pretty mermaid 
and some old woman who is wishing she was 20 years younger!

Every morning at 10 am, I went to The Olive Oil Outpost on Pine Street where Kelly, the owner, made me a cafe con leche that was rich, creamy, and delicious!  Started my day (I would have gone earlier but they didn't open until 10 am.)  My last day there I asked for two!

That last day all the merchants in Anna Maria held a Christmas open house from 5:30 - 8:30 pm, having their shops open and serving delicious goodies for free.  Kelly made a hot pasta dish and a mushroom polenta and a cold mixed salad.  Her shop is small so it's a bit of a line to work your way to the back of the shop to get some hot food, but it was worth it.  YUM!  

Leaving Florida and back to Kentucky.  
The clouds above northern Kentucky before we landed.  Prettier from up above than they were on the ground.

Now time to get back to work with class today and maybe some painting for me this week.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Well, I had planned to take time off from things to work on the large drawing project.  I did get a little bit more done on the 2nd drawing of the entire piece.

So instead of working on the 2nd-5th bits, I picked up a rotten cold that lasted 2 weeks - in fact, it's still here causing some coughing fits at night, going on 3 weeks!  
So the best laid plans...

We did get away - a little escape - to Florida.  A 2-week escape walking the beach and watching shorebirds.  My cold made that a little less fun but it was still 30 degrees warmer there than here at home.  And I did get some photos - of course!  

So photos to share later...

Hope you have been having a very good, very healthy, very happy two weeks I've been "gone" from the blog!!  

Come back later and see some vacation snaps and a few little paintings I managed to do in my Stillman & Birn watercolor journal :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


When they brought her home, I thought she was the prettiest baby I'd ever seen.  She was a premie do didn't get to come home until she was out of the woods and okay.  As she grew and got older and had that Gerber baby look about her with tawny hair and a cute face, I knew she was the prettiest baby I'd ever seen.

Can't find a photo of her that isn't too small not to be blurry so this will have to do.  (An old Polaroid photo taken from a family album.  A time when everyone's washing was hung out to dry on the line in their back yard and when people always had subjects squinting into the sun with their own shadows showing in the photo.)

Happy Birthday, Li'l Sister!!

Friday, December 5, 2014


"We need to pay exquisite attention to our responses to things -- noticing what makes our flame glow brighter. If we pay attention to those things, we'll be able to catch the flame and feed it."
 ----- Nina Simons -----

What starts the fires burning in you?  Drawing, painting, oil, watercolor, printmaking, sculpture, playing an instrument, knitting, crochet, weaving, crafting something, baking a pie from scratch?  Whatever it is, keep those embers burning!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I have a project I've been working on in graphite and charcoal.  It's a big undertaking - and complicated (what was I thinking).  Using Scanning Electron Microscope photos of a certain brittle star called Ophiocomella sexradiata (from research Sweetie has been doing), I'm working slowly and carefully on a full sheet of drawing paper.  I intend to do five intricate, detailed drawings (4 in graphite and charcoal and the center in color of the brittle star photographed).  

I'm not sure I'll have the determination or energy to finish it for a deadline this month, but I'm going to work on it in spite of that.  What is unusual for me:  I am enjoying the slowness and the time spent on it like little bits of meditative drawing (I can hear Deb Ward saying, "Did I just hear Rhonda say THAT???")  
What is more unusual for me:  I am not painting - no color except a touch in my sketchbook of the birds.  Going for black and white right now for some reason.  Maybe it's because of winter coming...

So...I'm going to be taking five (or more).  
I'll be away from the blog for a while but will return soon to catch up.  Even if I don't post here for a while, I'll still stop by and check on your blogs :)  See you in a few weeks...

Monday, December 1, 2014


Inexorable Deities

Edgar Lee Masters1868 - 1950

Inexorable revealers,
Give me strength to endure
The gifts of the Muses,

Daughters of Memory.
When the sky is blue as Minerva’s eyes
Let me stand unshaken;
When the sea sings to the rising sun
Let me be unafraid;

When the meadow lark falls like a meteor
Through the light of afternoon,
An unloosened fountain of rapture,
Keep my heart from spilling
Its vital power;
When at the dawn
The dim souls of crocuses hear the calls
Of waking birds,

Give me to live but master the loveliness.
Keep my eyes unharmed from splendors
Unveiled by you,
And my ears at peace
Filled no less with the music
Of Passion and Pain, growth and change.

Lately, words mean a lot to me.  They can make me stop in my tracks to read them again and again, soaking up the sounds and meaning.  I've always loved words and collected words (even if I do not use them).  Happy December!

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Some of you still have snow on the ground.  (Some of you have A LOT of snow on the ground!)  Some of you live where there is never a hint of snow.

Our snow has melted with warmer temperatures and rain washing it away. 

Here's a couple of photos of Papa Red before and after the ~4 inches of snow we did have this month...

Thursday, November 27, 2014



I hope you get time with family and friends, and have many things for which you are truly thankful.

I am grateful to all of my blogger/artist friends.  Thank you
for taking time out of your busy lives to stop by
and comment on this little effort of mine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


A few more birds sketched in my sketchbook as I go through The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds.

I don't elaborate on these simple sketches because it's really about the shapes and positions of tails, backs, beaks, eyes.  I may add color to them later.

One of my favorite birds is the Carolina Wren because it's so round and has its tail upright almost all the time = perky and quick, coming to the feeders and gone in a flash of tawny golden brown.

The class today continued to work on their poured paintings.  Looking good!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014


A few more birds sketched in my little sketchbook - from the Laws Guide book.

Not sure I'll remember the various parts of a bird later, but I'm practicing a little at a time.  Maybe some of it will stick?

More to come later as I continue through the Laws book.  

Friday, November 21, 2014


In my sketchbook.  
A distant horizon over black water.

Hopeful Horizon

A cropped version, showing the skyline a little better with greys and whites to indicate a passing storm, perhaps.

Hope is not always the "thing with wings" which Emily Dickinson described.  Sometimes it can be a vast amount of dark water, but the promise of a lighter horizon.  All we have to do to attain the bright promise is keep sailing towards it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Since the month of November is always full of ghosts for me and my family, I found this poem especially evocative of missing those who have gone before...

To One Dead

Maxwell Bodenheim
I walked upon a hill
And the wind, made solemnly drunk with your presence,
Reeled against me.
I stooped to question a flower,
And you floated between my fingers and the petals,
Tying them together.
I severed a leaf from its tree
And a water-drop in the green flagon
Cupped a hunted bit of your smile.
All things about me were steeped in your remembrance
And shivering as they tried to tell me of it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


He just looked a bit forlorn sitting there in my sketchbook without his lovely orange I got out the watercolor pencils and added a little color here and there, brushing on water to blend and make the color come out.

Much better!

In case you want to hear the song Rockin' Robin (the original 1957 version), here is the YouTube link:

And here is the Jackson Five version YouTube link.

Now tell me that doesn't make you want to get up and dance?!?

And here are some bird pics from the recent snow - our first real snow of the year Sunday night/Monday morning = 4 inches on the ground and cold - but beautiful.  Have to put out extra food for my bird friends :)

A female Downy woodpecker.

Two goldfinches keeping an eye on the male Downy woodpecker on the tree.

And the resulting bird-shape in the snow from a hawk attack.  I was looking out the window when he or she swooped down, grabbed a Mourning dove, and took off, leaving this imprint in the snow.  It happened quickly!  (The cycle of life and death, all animals have to eat.)

Monday, November 17, 2014


Another sketchbird in my book, using the Law's Guide.  In information he gave on his website, he recommends using a Prismacolor Blue Col-Erase pencil for initial sketching.  It's light blue and you can erase lines.  

I bought two of the pencils from Dick Blick, used it on this robin sketch and then erased a bit and made changes as I went.  I went over the lines with graphite after I had what I wanted with the blue pencil.  You can see some of those lines because I didn't erase them all.

Although I don't remember, I have been told that I danced to the song, Rockin' Robin, in my crib when I was a tiny thing.  Apparently, all they had to do to make me happy was play that song and let me dance.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Deb Ward asked me if I had ever finished that blue flower.  I hadn't; instead I sat it aside and looked at it often and didn't know what to do with it.  So I began the stamens inside, trying to go slowly and do a good job.  Now, it's done - I think - but I'm still unsure about the finish.  Too much emphasis on the inside?  Should have been a different color?  What?

Maybe it just needs to sit a while longer for me to like it.

Full sheet watercolor paper (22" x 30")
Nothing But the Blues

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Just a few more of these past days.  I'm trying to pick up the sketchbook and do one a day - or more.

Monday, November 10, 2014


I was honored and thrilled to be asked to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by artist and blogger buddy, Carol Flatt.  (Do hop over to read Carol's post on her blog hop day - last Monday - to learn about her and see some of her work - it's gorgeous!).  I am thrilled to have this go around and include me.  The hardest part is answering some of the pretty in-depth questions (which I usually don't do because I don't THINK about my art so much as DO IT).  However, I'm supposed to answer a few questions, like:

1. What am I working on?
Since I am always trying to learn and expand, a lot of time in my art life is spent reading, studying, practicing.  Whether that's a new water media technique I just read about in an art magazine, or something someone mentioned in a watercolor meeting - or just something I wanted to try and perfect like drawing and painting birds birds birds - I keep pushing and trying to get better.  Because if we're not getting better, we're just getting older, right??

So, right now, at this moment in time, I have begun working on more birds in my sketchbook and trying to get the shape and size and patterns of them without making them too stiff - nothing worse that a bird that doesn't look full of life, whether it's the tilt of the head or angle of the leg or ruffle of the feather.  Working hard, hardly working, either way, thinking and wanting to be better better better still.

And a few doodles get thrown in here and there!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, I can't really say it does differ.  I work, primarily, in watercolor.  I don't often add a lot of this and that and stuff but get texture the old-fashioned way, by spritzing the paper with water after I lay down the color and before it dries, or by using granulating pigments.  Although I rarely use salt or collage, I do enjoy playing with different media or extras at times.  It's just not my initial work style.  Also, I want to paint something that pleases me and although I'm happy when someone else likes what I've done, it's not necessary to my well-being for you to like what I'm doing (because I'm doing it for me).  

3. Why do I create what I do?
Gosh, that's a good question!  Why?  Why not just sit around and read romance novels and eat bonbons or go shopping for shoes every day?  I guess there is a creative spark inside me.  I didn't have it when I was very young - didn't have a single art class in school because art class was where the stoners went! ha ha  So...I saw and fell in love with watercolor years ago and said, "I want to do that."  Then, "I want to do that" turned into "I have to do that" and it's an obsession to get better and to learn more.  I do so enjoy learning something new.  Although I haven't found my niche yet, I feel it's closer all the time - and has to include organic things and things with feathers :)  A bird makes me happy - a thing with wings, a splash of color, a light in an eye...there is so much in the natural world that calms me and also energizes me.  

4. How does my creating process work?
I normally work on watercolor paper (either 140# or 300# cold press or rough press) and begin with a drawing I do on tracing paper.  Then I trace that onto the watercolor paper and go, working from back to front and trying to get in some good colors and a few drizzles or drips or splatters or something energetic.  I am still trying to maintain my whites and think more before putting down the brush.  I figure by the time I get to be 90, I'll have this watercolor medium licked and can move on to something else!

And now, here are two artists I follow and admire.  They are so different in style but both are wonderful watermedia artists who, like me, always want to get better and stronger in their art - and they are both doing a great job of that!  Seriously, you should be following both of them and enjoying what they share!

1.  Deb Ward.  
What can I say about Deb Ward and her journey?  She is creating a name for herself in this fickle art world by getting accepted into some pretty major watercolor society shows enough times to gain signature status in many of them, plus winning awards so people are becoming aware of the artist, Deb Ward.   She a real waterMEDIA artist, painting in watercolor, acrylic, fluid acrylic, casein and just about anything else that mixes with water.  She works hard, teaches others, and holds workshops locally.  If there is a local watermedia show, you can bet there is one (or two) Deb Ward paintings in it!  

Deb doesn't know how much she amazes me with her dedication to her work (and it does take dedication and commitment to getting ahead in this genre and showing people what you can do).  

Plus she has a great sense of humor and always looks at the funny parts of life so there is always lots of laughter whenever we get together.  

Do yourself a favor and visit Deb Ward's blog!

She will post her blog hop posting next Monday so tell her I said Howdy! 

2.  Laura Starrett
is a watercolor artist I began following years ago.  I was enthralled with her lovely, light, lively birds, and sensed that she was like me in her struggle to always try to be better and better.  She takes online classes and workshops (we even got to meet in a Carol Carter workshop here in Cincinnati this past year).  Laura has a love of nature and lives close to one of the best birding places on the east coast of the U.S.  She is open, caring, fun, interesting and so very talented (although I don't think she knows that).  

I never am disappointed when I visit Laura's blog to see a new posting, and I really do miss her work when her day job takes her away from her blog. 

If you want to see some lovely, loose gems of paintings, do visit her blog and tell her I said Hi! 

She will be posting her blog hop post next Monday.

I see both of these artists and the differences in their work and style, and am so happy that watercolor can hold both of them securely and happily  -  and we viewers and fans get the benefit.  I so love this wonderful medium called watercolor and the artists who are working to keep it so strong!  


Sunday, November 9, 2014


There are some paintings that just want to beat you to the ground.  No matter what you do, it looks bad.  This is one of those...

I keep doing more - more color, some plastic wrap in the background, some more color, some more shaping of the berries...

And it still looks bad.

Should I just admit defeat, gesso over it (it's on 9" x 12" canvas) and do something else?

This has salt on the leaves, Chinese White on the berries, and phthalo blue watercolor ink in the background.

And it still looks bad! ha ha

Oh, well....

Where is that white gesso?

Friday, November 7, 2014


Using the book, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, by John Muir Laws, I am copying some work there and reading/studying the good information included about the anatomy of birds.  

Here are a few sketchbirds I've done so far...going slowly through the book and reading/studying a bit each day.