Darkness and Dawn

Darkness and Dawn
I woke up and glanced out the bedroom window to see streaks of light breaking the darkness, crossing the night sky with hints of the new day. Racing to my studio, I painted this in the dark; if I had turned on a light, I would no longer have been able to see what was dim but dramatic in the early dawn light beyond my window. As I look at the sky on such mornings, I can’t help wondering how often our lights, sounds, and other ways of adapting our world obscure from our view the often-silent beauty of that which is beyond our control and is far more majestic than anything we can create. 
This is one of the paintings on display at the East Fishkill Library until Friday this week.


Watercolor 5×7
From early spring through
summer, I awaken to the song of a Cardinal, the first herald of the new day. In
winter, the Cardinals around my home seem to prefer their cozy perches and they
let other birds announce dawn, preferring to wait for the late-rising sun to
fully appear. Just in the past week, though, the  Cardinals have started singing their cheerful morning song, which tells me that they believe spring is just around the corner. Much as I love winter, I will welcome the warmth, the sunshine, and the song of spring.

This Cardinal watercolor is currently on display
at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY. If interested in
purchasing it, please contact me at naturepainter@hotmail.com.
Here are a few of my journal pages from recent days, sketched in between shoveling snow:

Birds and Dogs in the Snow

I know, snow is not a newsy worthy event by now, with the many snowstorms we’ve been having this winter, but I am still loving it. Today the snow is falling with large, lazy flakes, making for a muted, serene landscape. The view may be quiet and peaceful looking, but the birds are full of vim and vigor. Twenty or more Goldfinches vie for the best spots at our feeders, chasing off larger birds and getting in repeated airborne spats with one another. Our local bully, a large, confident Mourning Dove is back, claiming a one yard length of the deck railing. Whenever another bird ventures onto “his” section of railing, the Bully fluffs up to almost twice his normal size and rushes at the other bird, which hurriedly leaves. The Cardinals started their spring songs this past week, and the Titmice have been filling the air with their clarion notes for a while, so even though it looks like winter, it’s starting to sound like spring.
 Stephen and I have shoveled pathways through the snow– our “Cat in the Hat” paths, which encircle our yard, so that I can walk and the dogs run around. Petra is usually dashing full tilt ahead of me, careening off the paths to leap up trees or just plow with delight through the deep snow, while Milo trots steadily behind me, around and around and around, wagging his tail the whole time. Rowan spends much of his time “grazing” on bird seed that has spilled beneath the feeders, but he comes running any time he thinks I’m going to throw snowballs. Both Aussies loves to leap at the snow I toss aside when shoveling, and there’s been plenty of that to amuse them, and even Milo gets in on the shoveling fun sometimes.

Wise Old Owl

Wise Old Owl

morning before dawn my children and I went to a nearby county park to see if we could see
a Barred Owl that reportedly was in the area. We waited quietly a half hour or so, before
an owl suddenly swooped in on silent wings, then perched in a tree in plain
sight. We observed and sketched him for over half an hour, before he left as
silently as he had arrived.

Here is my journal page from that day in 2001, when I observed a Barred Owl with my children. We also found a dead weasel right near the owl’s area, and we wondered whether the owl had killed the weasel.

 This watercolor is currently on display
at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY. If interested in
purchasing it, please contact me at naturepainter@hotmail.com.

Winter Sparkle

Watercolor 5×7 (8×10 framed)
Winter Sparkle
stood at my front door, every few minutes stepping briefly out into the winter
cold, attempting to capture the magic of the early morning sunshine sparkling
on the stream as it wound its way through the woods. This is the view I see every morning, sometimes covered with snow (as it is today), sometimes green with lush growth, and often in the winter, nearly monochromatic, which makes the sparkle of the stream in the sunlight all the more captivating.
This watercolor is currently on display at the East Fishkill Library and is available for $200, matted and framed. If interested, please contact me at naturepainter@hotmail.com.

Bash Bish Falls

Watercolor 13×9
Bash Bish Falls
I’ve visited this waterfall
in southwestern Massachusetts many time, sometimes sketching it, sometimes
just enjoying the ever-changing pattern of the falls. Over the years I’ve
sketched it on location a few times and have done several paintings of it in my studio. I hope to do many more paintings of these falls over the years, observing and documenting how the flow of the water changes over time.
This painting is currently on display at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY. If interested in purchasing it, please contact me at naturepainter@hotmail.com. 

Pileated Woodpeckers

Watercolor 12×8
Pileated Pair

One day, feeling down, I walked outside hoping
the fresh air would lift my spirits. One of these magnificent birds swooped low
beside me and landed on a tree just feet from me—the first Pileated Woodpecker
I had seen on our land! We now have a pair in our woods, and every time I see
them, I am reminded of that gift.

Pileated Pair is currently on display at the East Fishkill Library in Hopewell Junction, NY. If you’re interested in purchasing this painting, please contact me at naturepainter@hotmail.com. 

(This painting is based on reference photos by me and by Samantha Keith– many thanks to Sam for permission to use her photos of the wildlife she sees around her home.)

Happy 10th Birthday, Milo!

It is hard to believe that my little Milo Bean is ten years old. He is as full of spunk and fun as ever, playing and making me laugh every day, which is his primary job in life. He rips around the yard playing chase with Petra, and though she is faster, he has more endurance and isn’t even panting when she’s lying in the grass to catch her breath after many wild loops up and down hills and around trees, shrubs, and the old hay rake. During a fast game of chase, Milo loves to run full tilt to the inside of the hay rake, then peer at Petra through the tines, baying and teasing her to come and get him. Those two are the best of friends, and watching them play can lift my spirits any day. 

Sometimes Milo is seized by the simple joy of running, and he takes off skimming in giant loops around the yard, tail out behind him, ears streaming back, moving with surprising grace (unusual for him, since normally all four legs move comically in four different directions), ignoring Petra and Rowan, just caught up in the joy of the moment. Whenever he does that, Stephen and I have to stop whatever we’re doing and watch; it’s impossible to ignore such pure delight in being alive.

No matter how caught up in play with Petra or running with abandon, though, if I call him, Milo immediately banks in my direction, races to my feet with delight and enthusiasm, and stops with a huge smile on his face and wagging tail. I think I often underestimate this little dog. Because he is all hound, he has the intense interest in scents of any sort that comes with being a scent hound, and can seem to block everything else out when he’s following a rabbit trail, but even so, in his mind and heart, I trump all that, and he will drop a trail to race to me the moment I call his name.

In addition to all the fun and laughter, Milo is a first class snuggler and lap-warm, loving to curl up on my lap and sleep for as long as I sit and read. Recently, too, he has decided that Steve is the most wonderful fire-provider, and we are sure that Milo thinks Steve gets the fireplace going just for Beagle-warming purposes.

How could I not adore my marvelous Milo Bean. Happy Birthday, Milo! I hope you share many more years of joy with me.

Indicating an article when tarcking
Happy Milo

Snowy Owl

Watercolor 7.5×5

I was out cross-country skiing on a golf course today and kept hoping to see a Snowy Owl, but if there were any in the area, they stayed well camouflaged. This has been one of those winters when there are many sightings in our general area, but most seemed to have been when I was in Florida, so I missed them.

Snowy Owls are the heaviest owls found in North America. They spend summers north of the Arctic Circle, where they hunt lemmings, small rodents, and other prey. Often hunting during the day, unlike most other owls, when they migrate to the northern United States during some winters, they can frequently be spotted on open fields and airport runways. Young have dark bars, with males becoming whiter as they mature, while females keep some dark bars throughout their life.

Thank you to my friend Carol Hickey for the use of her beautiful photo for a reference for this painting.

Solo Exhibit at East Fishkill Library

My paintings are on display this month at the East Fishkill Library, and we had an opening reception last Friday. It was a wonderful and fun evening with many visitors– my parents were there, as were many friends, including a few whom I hadn’t seen in many years, so it was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect. Over the next few weeks, I’ll post some of the watercolors that are on display at the library, along with the little write-ups I’ve done to go with each painting.