Sunday, May 31, 2020


In Progress
Dearest Readers, 
Sheltering my way through this Covid pandemic has a silver lining–TIME  to think, create and paint! My studio (x-living room) is my happy place to ponder and shape my fears and hopes into images that attempt to portray the confusion, and express action toward a better world. This is what artists do.  

Here’s a step by step roadmap of my path. It started before Covid last Fall when I unearthed a big unresolved painting that I had put away years ago, and dared to look at again. She was simply titled Grace.
Here’s the Original Grace Painting Full View 10 years ago...

and the final, "Grace Descends on the Chaos" finished in April:
78” x 51” acrylic on silk mounted to canvas           
How it Evolved:
Closeup Detail from the Original Painting
      1.This is where I stopped on the original painting. (See Above) 
The eyes have it here but are too overwhelming. They are me I guess with the blue eye looking out of a grid of lifeless plants–I had nowhere to go but hopelessness. 10+ years have passed.

2.     I re-start the old painting-Nests emerge encircling the thinly veiled eyes:

         3. Some nests changed to pink rings with broken red entanglements. Not sure  why. I let my paint brush do the thinking:

4.     Tree Base-Red: (See Below)
I moved to the bottom of the painting and established the outline of the base of an ancient, gnarly tree (me in disguise). The tree shape is still indecipherable except to me. I tried some white scuff marks on the central eye to make it less insistent. Eh! Not quite what I’m trying to say.

5.     Tree Bark Begins: (See Below)
      I  added color, texture and oval bark shapes on the base limbs, moving up. So far so good, but      very confusing imagery. I kept moving up the “trunk and limbs”.

6.     Nest Under-Color–Upside down painting at this point:(See Below)
      In disgust I completely obliterate the eyes. They do not make sense here. I fill them in with bright base layers of blue and shades of red.  Hard to look at at this stage with its blobs of shocking color. Disturbing, but I trust I can figure a way out.

7.     Under-Color Becomes Mostly White Puff Balls: (See Below)
It was too much to look at those blobs of primary  red and blue. Yellow central circle turns into a fried egg. Yikes!

8.     Creation of White Outlines to Indicate Upper Tree Branches: (See Below) 
I needed to make visual sense of the imagery and make the tree shape clearer.

9. Closeup of Lower Tree Bark: (See Below)
I like the layers, the shading and the weird tropical snake-like bark. Keep going!

10.  I Filled in All Puff Balls. The White Tree Outlines and Bark are Complete: (See Below)
In a mad rush I realize I’m onto something. I fill in most of the white puff-balls with ascending shades of red, alizarin crimson and orange to visually link up with the infernal balls of red spinning at the base. The outlined branches make more sense. I let the descending roses of Grace slip between the puffs and over the branches. 

11. Finished in a Flurry of Creative Energy! (See Below):

Black, brown, and khaki colored “boulders” fall, white-hot “meteors” fly between the tree branches, and the central circle of hot yellow mellows to a rough chrome yellow-orange, focusing the chaos that surrounds the viewer, and the grace that descends. Ahh–She's fierce, and finished!

Sunday, May 3, 2020


Beauty and light above her, below her, behind her, 
in front of her, within her, and all around her.
May she rest in beauty and power.
-A blessing for EJ from Shana Robbins 4.24.2020
Etta James from 2010_8"x10"_acrylic, charcoal, pastel on paper

Dearest Readers,
Forgive me for posting again about my dear departed Etta James. It feels indulgent, as if I’m trying your patience, but I need to cover the wound. Briefly, it has been a hard, lonely week since her passing, but I eventually did something about it. The isolation and strictness of the Vermont “Stay Home-Stay Safe” Covid-19 quarantine, and the constant national pandemic news intensified my realization of how attached I am to this dog. My body gained a degree in temperature on Friday and Saturday after a walk that was too much exertion, and a few sleep-deprived nights. It dawned on me that having a ball of Etta’s hair in a jar, and her ashes in a tin on my bedroom altar was a constant reminder of her loss, and not healthy for my heart and soul.

With a deep sigh, I grabbed a spade and walked her remains to a nearby pine forest that overlooks where I live. Almost immediately I discovered a little woody bush with tiny purple flowers adorning her branches. This was it. I brushed aside the forest floor-covering of pine straw and dug an easy hole in the soft dark earth in front of “Etta’s Bush”. I poured in the ashes, covered them with most of the soil, added the clay paw print given by our vet clinic, topped everything with the remaining soil, replaced the pine straw and gave her a comforting pat. This tender send-off has eased my soul. 
Goodbye dear heart

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Etta's dust bunny + dog treat crumb

Dearest Readers,
I return today to the Interwoven Heart blog to get off my ass and write about my life and art after a year of blogging silence–but first to honor Etta James my dear little corgi-dachshund (+ some other ancestry) who is the impetus for this writing. Etta died at age 15+ on Friday, April 24, 2020...two days ago. We were together at the end. I'll receive her ashes this week. Yesterday, perhaps pathetically, I swept up her black and white hairs into a dust bunny for my personal altar. This is of course an artist's way of holding her tight. One orange crumb of "marrowbone" dog treats emerged in the hairs. 

I'll be painting again soon, but for now I'll take a country walk, and do some crying as things in my daily life remind me of her. I'll end this short missive with a few pictures.
Etta and Cecelia in 2016-Peacham Vermont snow report

Etta's snow report-2am, last month-March, 2020-Peacham, Vt

Etta in her perky youth-Decatur, Ga-probably 2009

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Early morning-45º and sunny-Peacham, Vermont 
Dearest Readers,


Final painting of Winged Dervish in the studio_36"x82" full size_acrylic on canvas
My wrestling with a painting is done! With the help of my artist friends, Annette Lorraine and Sharon Biddle, I have a finished work of art! This winter I shared on this blog my struggle to pull beauty and personal meaning out of a two-part painting of wings. 
Early stage_right side of wings-horizontal

Early stage_left side of wings-horizontal
I avoided the studio, without a clue how to move the piece along. I hated to look at it. I robotically puttered, painted and scraped away until one day I angrily slathered the outline of a horizontal maple tree across the wingspan. I stuck with it.
Addition of maple tree shape across wingspan in the studio
Something clicked. The tree is me of course, an old metaphorical friend-self. Suddenly the green background became water, the wingspan dropped away to a mere framing device, the circles turned into bubbles and the shapes surrounding her began to whirl and float–still not right, but on the path.
Left to Right-AnnetteLorraine, me, Sharon Biddle
I had shared the painting in progress in my studio with Annette and Sharon who saw through my painterly confusion. This was not advice-giving, but a kind expression of how the work felt to them, what they were excited by, and what maybe didn’t work. They also brought over their own artworks in progress to share and get feedback for–beautiful watercolor landscapes and some project ideas for the future. It was a glorious day of artistic insight!

I am grateful for their comments. They loosened my mind without telling me what to do. Later, alone in the studio, in the spirit of bravery, I swung the maple-me around to the vertical, and hoisted the two stretched canvases one on top of the other like a tree should be, sacrificing the concept of wings, but not of flight. 
The wingspan now is just a hint of an arched line. The feather tips instantly became striped turquoise cocoons, and the deep greens of living water now whirl beneath me. The branches mimic outstretched arms. Light and shade feel hot and cool. This is the magic of reorientation! 
What a joyful relief!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Early morning, 14º, Peacham, Vermont 

We take long trips.
We puzzle over the meaning of a painting or a book,
when what we’re wanting to see, and understand
in this world, we are that.
-Rumi, Quatrain #549

Dearest Readers,
1. In early January, I showed you the left side of a divided painting of colorful abstract wings entitled Winged Dervish, (see above). I was off to a vibrant start in the new year. Some of you questioned the little circle of skulls in the left corner. “They are buzzing around in the background like death”, I said. Here’s my back-and-forth progress since then. I invite you to enter my painting process over the month of January. 
2. Here's the first iteration of the right-hand wings. I liked the bubbles and floating shapes, but I felt the hearts nestled in their little eggs were too surreal. (Who knows?) So...
3. I added a gesso white-wash over the right side to partially obscure them, and I introduced an outline of a tree trunk (my Spirit Self). "Now where am I going?", I thought.

4. Here's the full outline of my tree over both sides of the wings in my studio.

5. Then I faintly gessoed in the left side branches, making sure to entangle the circle of skulls. "Would that slight change tone down their prominence,"  I wondered?
6. Not really. Here's a closer look.

7. The elements of the painting were getting too crowded (jumbled)? I decided to fully fill in the entire tree that was floating across the two-sided painting. Hmmm. Not sure. Much of the color is now obscured. "Is this good or bad"?, I ask myself, "Where am I going with this"?
8. Time to think. I like the bubbles and shapes on the lefthand panel, so they will stay, and I feel the skulls have something to say, but friend-artists have told me they are still too prominent, pulling the viewers eye insistently to the bottom left.
9. Yikes ! I really wanted a colorful tree to express my joyful self, so I took the plunge and painted it, as happily as I felt. (Above). This is now too overwhelming and it doesn't speak clearly about spirit, and eternity.

10. So I whitewashed the entire winged background. This is better...calmer. The tree, the skulls, the shapes and bubbles and the outline of the wings remain for another time to wrestle with. They seem to be essential.

Truthfully, I have a hint of a direction to go in. I'll let you know what I discover next time.

Sunday, January 20, 2019


A pair of newborn wings 
Fluttered like hands hooked at the thumbs.
Open. Close. Open. Close.
Making broom tracks in the snow 
And flickering shadows in the crisp moonlight.

I opened the window, reached out 
and gave them a boost.
My hands in their feathers.
Up. Down. Rise. Descend.
Off you go.

Left Wing In progress with Tree Self emerging_Week 2 

Dearest Readers,
A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to one half of a new diptych entitled “The Winged Dervish”, acrylic and oil on canvas. Here's where I am so far. (See Above). It is still in progress, morphing as I add the left wing to the right, seeing what happens when all that shape and color crashes against the opposite side. 

And here is your first look at the left side in progress:
Winged Dervish-Right Wing in progress with Tree Self  emerging
Too much going on? Maybe. Let’s see what happens this week as I add some paint here, sand away some color there. The image leads the way to what will stay and what will go. I sit back and stare, roll my studio chair away and lean back to get a wider view. 
Studio View-side by side
My head says Not right yet. I need some quiet inside or outside the pair of wings. I’ve added my spirit self to the mix…the outline of a tree slumbering across the winged landscape for stability, and strength in flight. The skulls remain along a branch, contained, but buzzing around to spoil the party.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


“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.” 
-Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

Early morning, NewYear’s Day, Peacham, Vermont 
Dearest Readers,
The Winged Dervish_41in x 36in_acrylic and oil on canvas_January 1, 2019
Today I introduce you to one half of a new diptych entitled “The Winged Dervish”, acrylic and oil on canvas. It is in progress, incomplete, but full of fire as it promises to take flight.
Winged Dervish_Detail_ January 1, 2019
On Easter Sunday 2011in Atlanta Georgia I launched this blog, The Interwoven Heart…to give voice to deep, deliberate new directions in my writings, and visual work”. 

Today I’m relaunching The Interwoven Heart after a year of silence, a new home purchase, knee surgery, and finding myself like a whirling dervish spinning too fast in multiple life directions. Happily, in the last month, my studio has become electric again, a paroxysm of redirected creative juice. More paintings, drawings, and portraits exploring transformation, “being a tree” and being in community will follow throughout the year. 
I hope you will join me!