Self Portrait in "Community" altered book. Watercolor, pen & ink, gesso, pastels, colored pencil.
Inside front cover of "Community" altered book
Outside cover "Community" altered book: Silk, watercolor, stitching, pen and ink

I bought a piano the other day. It is an older upright. According to the serial number imprinted inside on the harp, it was created between 1919 and about 1925-ish. It is not an ornate piano, but one of those very sturdy plain ones that graced church Sunday school classrooms across America. And one that has been loved a lot of years.

I remember hearing the piano's music lilting across the street during the summer when I was a child. My neighbors inherited the piano, and the house it had graced since 1945, when the elder Mrs. D passed away. Sadly-the piano has been silent in the years since her death . Mr. D. (her son) was very happy when I told him I would like to have the piano. Relieved actually.

They are moving. Downsizing. Bought a new one-level home with central heat and air, plumbing that works, good wiring, smaller yard, and no room for an upright piano. Like a lot of older neighbors they can no longer take care of their also aging property. It is breaking their hearts to leave. And we are saddened to see another set of good neighbors leaving.

I have been thinking about my neighborhood again. The one that as a child I could not wait to leave. And I did too. For about two years. Then I bought a house three doors down from where I grew up and where my parents still lived. Next door to me on all sides were friends I had known all my life and this is where I raised my sons, among friends and neighbors and, of course, grandparents that knew and loved them.

I did a series of altered books several years ago. While I was sprucing up my studio to make room for the new addition, I took out the volumes to look over them. The images above are from one of those altered books. It is a book about Community. In it I painted quick watercolor sketches of my neighbors and asked them to all write something about their lives growing up, in their old neighborhoods. A lot of those neighbors who participated are now gone, including my mother. I treasure this small volume.

My neighbors all had great stories about living here over the years. Which houses had the most kids - Where everyone hung out after school - The fact that my yard once - in the '30s- had a wooden roller coaster! I've shared a lot of my stories with my sons about how Mrs. So-and-So always had cookies. Or to watch out and not let a ball go into Mr. X's yard. It is interesting how we still call the houses by the names of the people who lived there when we were kids. Someday I hope my house (and my dad's house) is known by my family's name because we lived here long enough to make an impact. I'll probably be remembered as that eccentric art lady. I should be so lucky!

In a world that is transient, I know I am something of a relic. I didn't plan to be here this long, but as fate would have it - and time wore on - it seemed the best place to call home.

I got a spot cleared out in my studio for the piano. It looks good here. I don't actually play, but I can pick out a few tunes. I've polished it up. I will need to get it tuned. I hope that with a little perseverance I can play something well enough to allow lilting music to drift across the lawns during the summers again. Maybe someone will hear it and have a fond memory also.


Photo Friday: Carter Mill and Photo-Illustration

I've been a bit under the weather the last couple of days. Nothing too bad, just ate something that did not agree with me, I must remember to check the product dates in the fridge more often. I thought I would share some photos. Since I've been chained to Photoshop today for a client, I thought I may as well do some fun stuff too.

I took these photos at various times. The Carter Mill photos were taken early one Spring. Apple trees were just blooming, the watercress was already filling the pond around the mill-wheel and it was lovely to walk around the trail. The trail winds up past the mill pond to a higher pond and then onto the springs and creeks that feed the old mill.

The top photo is a photo-illustration that I did of the mill wheel and my front yard. Wouldn't it be lovely to have all that sparkling singing water just a few feet away? I do have very verdant moss in my yard. We have had enough rain to assure its growth. I will try to remember to take photos tomorrow for sharing next week.

Enjoy your weekends whatever they may bring! Happy Father's Day weekend to you dads wherever you live. Enjoy, create, and seek the beauty around you!


Sketch: Seeking the Truth

I had one of my sons pose for me the other day. The above sketch is one from that session. I have been trying to get some painting time in while school is out. I love my software - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, etc, but my true love will always be traditional drawing, painting and illustrating. It is in my blood.

As a child - I was always drawing or sketching. I wanted to be a naturalist when I was in 4th grade. I would draw twigs and trees and bugs. Lovely bugs! I love beetles and spiders. Their colors are stunning, but I digress. No one in my immediate family drew or painted. My dad is one the best carpenters I know. He is very creative and can pretty much copy anything he sees. He has a great eye for proportion and scale. He can read a ruler to minute fractions. I remember dad rough sketching out something he was going to build, but never just drawing. Unless I asked him to draw me a person to fit within my nature drawings - at age 6 or 7, people were not in my range of abilities.

Then several years ago a cousin was doing the family genealogy and voila! artist ancestors.
James Reid Lambdin and George Cochran Lambdin. Their works are scattered across the nation. Several reside permanently in the Smithsonian. We were lucky enough to get a private showing of those works. I can tell you I was trembling with excitement and awe.

James Reid and his son, George, are ancestors of my mother. Her father was born the same year George died. I believe they were cousins of my grandfather. Finally, while I was still the odd one in my family, always daydreaming, drawing, looking for creatures in the clouds, I had found tangible evidence that my preoccupation for art was genetic.

While I am not in their league, I try to draw daily and paint when I get the chance. I love being immersed in a painting. So for the next few weeks I'll continue to carve out a few precious hours in front of the canvas and at the drawing board. I will also post a few more of my ancestors paintings and links. I cannot afford one of their originals, but I did find this one "An Enchanted Tale" by George Cochran Lambdin on and it now hangs in my living room.
Hope all your days are filled with art and wonder!


Answers In the Most Unusual Ways

I have multiple sketchbooks. What artist doesn't? Now this does not mean that everything in an artists' sketchbook is meant to be shared with the world at large. I have hundreds of scribbly things that, thankfully, have never been shared with anyone. When I'm bored/stumped/afraid/pensive, etc; I will let my mind wander on the sketchbook page. I just draw what naturally wants to come out. I'm sure psychologists would have a field day in my sketchbooks.

Throughout the years I've returned to this idea of solitude. You have seen my previous post on 'Woman Hut'. The concept of having a quiet place to work and mull has always appealed to me. I know a lot of others who share this desire.

I'm normally a very gregarious person. Ask anyone who knows me. But there are times when you just want to be alone to create. To do what you want without anyone needing you for anything. It seems just as soon as I get in the groove of painting, drawing, inking - someone would need me for something. Phones ring, doorbells chime, voices callout and all manner of cacophony ensues causing the Muse to leave - abruptly - leaving me frustrated.

The above sketch is from one of my older sketchbooks - about 1995. At the time I was thinking about how nice it would be to have a small cottage - shell pink - that was perched on a cliff beside the sea. A place where the days were spent in happy creativity. Once a week a walk to the market to purchase needed food and art supplies. This image just came to me one day. Out of the blue. I didn't know why my brain chose this setting over others. I live in the mountains. Rolling foothills of the Appalachians. While I love trips to the beach, I am always so happy to be back in the lushness of the mountains again. And the mountains have lots of hollers for hiding out!

This morning I was checking my Google Reader, I saw this image posted by Tour Scotland Photographs I immediately thought of my little sketch of my cottage on the cliff. Even though there are multiple buildings in this one, there is something about the composition and atmosphere that made me remember my old sketch. Maybe I'll revisit this sketch and turn it into a real painting or better yet an entire story! Thanks for posting this photo. It makes me more determined to get to Scotland.

Where do our personal inspirations come from...and where will they take us if we
allow them?


Wildflowers & Scotland

This morning I've been going through my blog feeds. I have several blogs that I follow and try to scan them with frequency. I recently added Gilmore House Bed and Breakfast in Scotland to my must read list.

I am a follower of all things Celtic, and although I've never been (yet), Scotland feels like home to me. And after seeing some of the photos posted on the Gilmore House blog, I understand why my ancestors settled in these mountains and valleys of East Tennessee and why I feel such an attachment to Scotland. It reminded them of home and awakens the genetic memories for me.

I don't know if Scotland has trillium within its wooded glens, but here is a sketch of one I did from our beloved Appalachians. I had one appear in my yard last year. I looked for it this year, but could not find it. I was told that they don't bloom the first year and will smell lemony when they do. I hope it comes back!


Birthdays and Cakes

It has been birthday season around here again. This year the boys enjoyed a special cake made just for them by my friend, Rebecca Rysewyk. Rebecca makes lovely cakes that are as delicious as they are unique. If you are wanting a cake with more personality than the normal store-bought or bakery cakes, check out her website Cakes By Rebecca


So I Says...

During my 'down' time I like to sketch in my sketchbook to keep my drawing skills honed. Sometimes I'll draw from a still-life, but on some days that feels too much like work. I like to 'defrag' as I call it, with nonsensical creatures, places, or objects. Words or phrases find their way into my work. If the radio or television is on a snippet of that can be seen.

Other than I have a weird and vivid imagination, I cannot tell you the why of how these two unlikely characters came to inhabit this briny-deep space. I just start doodling and let the pencil and paper tell me what it wants. This is one of yesterday's creations.

As I was drawing them the big ugly guy seemed to be telling the chicken-of-the-sea fellow a story - I wondered what they would be talking about. I thought we most likely would not want to hang around too long to find out, so just a phrase would be enough. Something that would let the viewer fill in the blanks, but could also stand alone.

The more I worked on the sketch, the more I thought...Really? So in honor of a friend of mine who I had a "Really?" conversation with not long ago, I give you "So I Says to the Captain...Really?"

Hope you enjoy. Be Creative, Be Whimsical, Be Imaginative!