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