Painting in the Arizona Sunshine

I haven’t been posting very often lately because we have been in sunny Arizona. It was a wonderful time in the sun and I painted every morning and almost every evening out in their glorious deserts. I didn’t see any snakes, for which I am so thankful.

Painting in Arizona


I’m ready to get back to my studio in Alaska and I’ve read that adding alcohol to the water when painting out in the cold will keep it from freezing. I might give it a try.

I Brake for Eagles

Suzie, the Bus Driver

So far my posts have been about “Creating in Alaska”, but my other job is driving a school bus one hundred miles each afternoon on the mountainous Glennallen Highway.  My husband and I, along with a partner, hold the contract for transporting about forty students to and from Glacier View School. About five years ago, my husband said somewhat despairingly, “I don’t know who we’re going to get to drive….” With the willingness of a cat to a cold bath, I started driving, but now I look forward to the drive and I love the kids. I’ve seen lynx, fox, coyote, moose, caribou, dall sheep, and migrating flocks of birds. From the Eureka Summit, I can’t see Russia, but I can see the Wrangell, Talkeetna, Chugach, and Alaska Ranges at the same time. Driving has also helped me become more disciplined. I have to get my painting time in before 2:30 or it won’t happen.

Last week I had to brake for a Bald Eagle as it flew in front of the bus… like you do. I’ve also braked for bears, moose, and Trumpeter Swans. Birders might wonder how I could tell if it was a Trumpeter or a Whistling Swan since both are found in Alaska and are difficult to distinguish. Let’s just say that I was close enough to see that those lips weren’t whistling.

Sometimes, I stop the bus and paint as I did in Eureka Pullout or take reference photos like I used in Tahneta Lake. Not many people get this great perk with their job.

This is For the Birds

"Raven Collage" 24"h x 14"

A couple of years ago, Picture This Art Gallery in Eagle River, Alaska, invited me to a group show. The theme was “Ravens” and at the time, I painted almost exclusively in watercolor. Ravens seem to require a visual vocabulary with lots of texture and that was when I discovered paper collage. Here are some of the ravens I did for the show.  The single raven was all cut(tear) and paste, but the “Local Branch” ravens had some additional paint added after the glue dried. Three of the five images I submitted sold which was nice, considering it was all done in fun…and for the birds.

"Meeting at the Local Branch" 14" x 24" collage

Playing with Paper, Paint, and Paste (Part 2)


Today we will start gluing paper. I hope the instructions are clear and that I’m not mumbling, babbling, or not giving enough information. The nice thing about collage is that you can do whatever you like, although it might not work without glue…

At this point, I can only figure out how to add the video with YouTube. Thank you for your suggestions. I’m always happy to hear your voice in the comments.

Playing with Paper, Paint, and Paste (Geranium Collage Demo) Part 1

It is only paper, paint, and paste, but so much fun! Join me in my studio as we begin. Relax and have fun. This is kids’ play! “It’s all toys in the sandbox,” a friend wisely said when I started painting with oils. This is so enjoyable. Come along to my sandbox…

I’d so appreciate having your thoughts about this demo. Please tell me what is working, and what could use tweaking, or if I can answer any questions.

Painting People, Painting Memories

"Mrs Dearborn" 8 x 10 oil

When I first started gardening I bought plants at a nursery called Dearborn Farm in the Valley. It was a family run business and my friends and I would often go there for sturdy Alaska grown plants. Mrs Dearborn, a little old lady who was always there, told me about the great varieties they sold. As the years went by, she became less active but every time I saw her, she was handling plants. I took her photo years ago, thinking I would paint her someday. Yesterday was the day and this is the result. I just looked up her son’s phone number and will see if they might like to have it. I painted it for fun, but the memory might be very special for them.

Roasting Carrots in a Blue Haze

Multicolored Carrots

Last spring I bought a seed packet for multicolored carrots. I planted them with great anticipation and they grew according to plan until the poor things had their tops eaten off by ravaging moose. Although stunted, they were pretty and I thought such lovely specimens would taste good. I rinsed one with the garden hose and took a bite, and wondered if I had ever eaten a scouring pad before. They were fibrous with a flavor very similar to soap.

Determined to make them edible, I slathered them with olive oil, spices and salt and popped them in the oven. Our son came by and asked my husband for help moving a refrigerator into his nearby house. I decided to go along and leave the carrots to roast. Ninety minutes is too long to roast carrots. During the visit, my husband kindly asked if the carrots were OK, and I confidently reassured him that they take a long time to get soft. A cloud of blue haze greeted us when we opened the door but unbelievably, some of the carrots were excellent. A few unfortunate ones had turned to blackened char, collapsing with a psst when touched.

If you roast carrots, forty-five minutes would most likely be sufficient… unless you prefer blue smoke.