Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mushrooms, Mycelium, & Watercolor

The week before Thanksgiving I found a wonderful array of mushrooms growing in my backyard. Browsing at Box Office Video that evening, I found Know Your Mushrooms, & woke up to the miracle of mycelium.

The next day I went with a friend to Samuel P. Taylor State Park. My newly sensitized eyes saw mushrooms everywhere. I took lots of photos & headed off for the library.

I'd heard of Paul Stamets' Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World & was eager to read it. Now I'm profoundly excited & grateful. Mushrooms everywhere, their mycelium silent, secret, & hidden until they erupt their fruiting bodies, are keeping us all alive. They can even undo the devastation that humans wreak on our habitat.

Maybe there's a realm of mysticism I'm just stepping into....

I contacted Paul Stamets & got his permission to run his words around my images. I don't know if this will be a big long series, or just a quick study. But for now, I'm amazed & I want to tell the good news, spread wonder & thanks for these amazing benefactors!

This is the first painting, a small watercolor study, about 9 x 9". Stamets' words: Mycorrhizae can transport nutrients to trees of different species. One mushroom species can connect many acres of a forest in a continuous network of cells.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Watercolor of Arctic Wolves

This watercolor, 16 x 21", is called Black & Gold Wolves & the Northern Lights.

The pattern of small triangles comes from my experiences making & enjoying patchwork quilts.

The wolves come from healing visualizations I've used after having cancer. Wolves of various colors have spontaneously appeared in meditation. The black wolf releases anything toxic or unneeded. The gold wolf replaces what is released with peace & joy.

The ice, snow, firs, & northern lights are mysterious. Sometimes I feel a wonderful pull toward the tundra. I sense a source of wisdom & power up there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rabbit Medicine

One day I got an important teaching from a rabbit. I was feeling bad about neglecting his water on a hot day. He let me know what matters is the countless days I kept that water bottle full.

Years later I remembered & honored his lesson: Rabbit say: count all the times people show up - not the times they don't.

Rabbit Medicine is 18 x 18", acrylic & paper on canvas, with cotton thread stitched across a cut in the canvas.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ken Balcomb & Orcas

Ken Balcomb studies orcas in Puget Sound. His website,, describes the perils these wonderful animals are facing. He shares facts, pictures, news stories, research reports, and even a live webcam with the potential to sight orcas. His blog,, has more orca stuff, including 5 resolutions to help them. The attraction I felt to the San Juan Islands 25 years ago influenced my spirituality & art ever since. Balcomb's research & whole way of life touch me.

Through some imaginative affinity, orcas pop up in my work from time to time, although I've never seen one. Maybe there's something archetypal about their intelligence, size, strength, & capacity for both love & cruelty. I find them breathtakingly beautiful. These paintings are Eagle Man & Red Orca, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30"; Blue Coyote & Red Orca, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20", Orcas & Pelicans, watercolor, 10 x 12.5"

Ken Balcomb is emotionally as well as scientifically involved in their changing lives--a champion for their wellbeing & survival. He connects salmon abundance & orca survival. Both species need those dams to come down. Visit his site, contribute what you can. Visit his blog, keep those 5 resolutions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A few summers ago I felt a deep stirring for change in my work. A stimulating talk with Ren Brown at his gallery, followed by sloshing around in the waves at Doran Beach--& zap! New images came bubbling up from the unknown onto my sketchbook. They all had islands in them, & they all celebrated our nearby ocean waters, our northwest watersheds, & the distinctive species who lives here.

Soon after I started painting these ideas, I ran smack into salmon. I was jolted into a visceral understanding of what a potent totem they are--the key species of the ecology, economy, & spirit of the whole coast, from Monterey to Alaska, from the shore to the crest of the Rockies.

Other animals ranged from recognizable totems like fox, bear, & raven, to little noticed actors like sculpin, mole crab, & kinglet. Whatever I was painting, I had a new sense of purpose--of painting to call health to our neighbors & to our awareness. One day I painted a gull. I had underpainted the canvas orange, intending to cover all but a few bright highlights. Gull had other ideas--as I followed the painting where it led, I heard a raucous cry--"If you want to move people, get a sense of humor!"

There are now over 200 works--watercolor, acrylic, graphite, & linocut--in the Islands series. Many have traveled to new homes.The 3 paintings shown here are acrylic on canvas. Salmon of the Bliss Body, 18 x 24", is being shown at the Salmonid Restoration Federation in Garberville. Island Fox, 48 x 36", & Gull on the Beach, 20 x 24", are at my studio.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flying with Quilted Birds

Talking with friends, I learned my quilted bird paintings contain intriguing dualities. First is a tension between natural & geometric forms.

Another is solidness & transparency. When I started Raven at Home, I planned to let a little pattern show through. Gradually I was drawn to an increasingly transparent raven. Most parts of the bird are white lines interrupting the quilt pattern. Artist friend Antonia Gottesman urged me to leave the eye empty--keeping attention dispersed over the whole picture.

Looking at Flicker, photographer friend Michael Sterne asked why I put a recognizable bird over a grid. I suggested that all worthy human design comes from the inspiration of living things. Here's a direct link between quilt design & the beauty of birds.

Another duality is art & mathematics. Antonia, math wizard as well as artist, loves to find mathematics & art together. I'm the daughter of an electrical engineer & once received a pin from the Mathematical Association of America. Maybe unconsciously all quilt-makers love this.

Transparency suggests another duality--existence & non-existence. Patterns & birds move into & out of being across the page. This creates a feeling of time, enhanced by activity. The raven is alert & nearly sways on his branch. The pelican flies over water. The flicker bursts into upward flight. The kingfisher watches for prey, poised to dive.

I love to twist to our thought process, so we sense for an instant alternatives to what we perceive. I hope these paintings stimulate some juicy questions about what is real. I hope they increase delight in how beautiful birds live independent of our beliefs, & yet entwined.

At Sebastopol Gallery, 150 North Main, through May 30 (

Thursday, April 1, 2010

quilted birds

I love ravens. A couple of years ago I decided to make a raven quilt. A visit to the Gee's Landing Quilt show inspired cutting & sewing a bolder version of my first sketch. Recently I woke under this Flying Raven quilt, & was enjoying its colors & warmth. Hmm, I thought, maybe I should make a painting based on it. Raven at Home emerged. The white borders on the right & bottom suggested a set of 4 with the borders rotating to different positions. Flying Pelican & Flicker came next. Kingfisher is in process. I'll hang these, with small studies of the quilt patterns, at Sebastopol Gallery from April 11 to May 30.

Sebastopol Gallery is at 150 North Main, open daily 11-6,