Fall Color


Nolans Farm 6x8, Watercolor
Nolans Farm
6×8, Watercolor

I’m going to commit sacrilege here and say that I think the few weeks after foliage and before the first snow are actually more beautiful that foliage season itself.  The roads are quiet, and the colors are subtle and layered.

No I


I sat down Sunday morning to work on my alphabet book for parents. I do some rhyming and then some drawing, depending on which side of the brain decides to show up for my creative sessions.

Sunday it was the letter “I”, and there are surprisingly few useful nouns that start with I. There was infant and imp and ice cream, but enough things to make a rhyme?

Parenting duties mercifully interrupted creative time, and I hoped for inspiration later in the day.

T2 needed new shoes so we did that. T1 wanted sloppy Joe’s for dinner so we went to the store got that, and running errands took my mind off of the world and it’s woes for a while.  We came home and I sat down again, scouring my dictionary and thesaurus for something funny in the letter I. I finally came up with the first two lines just as T1 announced that he was starving. I scrapped the whole thing again and got dinner going.

Later that night, the new stanza was born, inspired by my day. That busy Sunday reminded me of my Infatuation with my two Imps and how they inspire me each day. It was also a day when I remembered why it was so hard to write the letter I. There is no I in parent – there’s only T1 & T2,  and that’s okay with me.

Experiments and the Koi Pocket Sketchers Box – An Unofficial Product Review

A New York State of Line, Watercolor, 5×7

Getting outside to paint lets you see painting – and the world – in a whole new way. It also gives you a chance to experiment with different toys to make painting outside easier and more winter-proof.

I’ve been playing with waterbrushes and the Koi Pocket Sketcher Field Box for the last few days, and, while I’ve been a little clumsy getting used to the water-filled brush (instead of bringing along a collection of brushes), I’m finding it a fun way to make quick plein-air sketches.


The included paints are very good quality – intense color – but I bought the kit for the convenience. The palettes and brushes all fit into a small box that can fit int a medium-sized purse.  If you have a place to set your paints with the open palette, you’ll find enough water in the brush to complete a larger piece, but if you’re in a rush or don’t have room, the sketchbook can hold a postcard-sized piece of paper. You can’t fit 2 water brushes in the little box, but I found I could fit a spotter with a trimmed handle in the little space and that along with the bigger brush gave me enough range to do some washes and dropping in color and then a few fine lines.

The other thing I liked about this kit was that you can fit a post-card sized piece of paper in the lid. There’s a thumb ring on the bottom of the box to hold the entire setup if your lap isn’t as spacious as mine, but I think you need larger hands than mine to make it work comfortably.  I was perfectly happy having my entire setup on my lap.

I’m still playing with my kits but I would highly recommend this little portable studio for anyone on a budget.

Disclaimer – the author has not been paid anything for this review.  Not a dime.  The sketchbox manufacturers haven’t even thrown her a fish-shaped pad of art paper, which she could really use to feed her painting addiction, so if this review is helpful to you in anyway, GOOD!  Get out there and paint.

Postcard from Pompanuck


Saturday & Sunday I went over the mountain to help with and participate in a blog workshop at Pompanuck Farm in Cambridge, NY.

Sunday I got there early to have a little time to paint, but I had been up till 5 in the morning nursing Thing2 through a fever, and I kept nodding off as I sat in the sun-warmed car.  The other members got there just as I was adding the first green wash for the lawn.

I went in thinking I would paint and listen – I always think it helps me concentrate. Instead I had to work to keep focused on the painting, as each member of the group voiced their reasons for wanting a blog, recognized that those reasons were partly about wanting to stand in their truth.

I felt like I found mine over the summer when I took just a travel sketchbook and a pen on vacation. We went to the Palouse in Washington state, and the rhythm of the wind bending the yet-unharvested wheat fields was hypnotic, spurring meditations and frenzied drawing sessions. Drawing, and later painting, was an act that pulled me closer to my truth – that the only work that would ultimately fulfill me is creative work.

It was a truth I began to sense and acknowledge with my decision to illustrate my first blog ‘Picking My Battles’. What began as a spur-of-the-moment strategy to cut the cost of royalty-free photos and the kids’ sleep schedules evolved into a reawakening of an artistic drive I had tried to smother for years.

The revival led to doodles and sketches, scribbles and watercolor cartoons.  The blog became a cartoon, Picking My Battles (it’s have a little vacation as I reorganize my schedule around school and projects) and added another (HOGA), and I began feeling like I was on a multi-line tightrope between painting and cartooning and writing.

Diving into drawing with abandon, I found my truth and something that I had only felt a few times – pure joy.  Interesting that the joy and truth are so closely linked.  Embracing my truth – feeding a need to draw and paint – saw words  re-emerge, supporting the blog’s art the way  art had once played a supporting role for the words.

Joy also let me see the silly situations that had made blogging so fun in the first place, and a few weeks ago I took a flying leap and embarked on an Alphabet book for parents.  As we talked about blogging and truth over the weekend workshop, I realized that each new post and page of my book is proof that there’s room for more than one truth in a life.

My new blog (My Sketchy Life) – with the serious painting and the silly cartoons isn’t a tight rope I walk between two sides of my creative life I need to choose between. It’s a collage of my life and, like my life, it’s a more than a little sketchy.

I went home thinking there’s nothing like a good workshop in a sunny farmhouse living room to open your eyes to the world right in front of you. Wish you’d all been here.

Something You Could See Every Day

Clouds Visiting Pickerings Field Watercolor 5×7

I went painting  as usual this morning.  I parked by the same field I painted a few evenings ago, but this morning the clouds had sunk down in the river next to the field, and the hills and fields were drenched in fog.

I figured this was a great way to get in touch with my inner Monet, working fast to beat the sunlight.  I focused on puddles on the paper and looking for the few sharp shapes and the music playing on the iPod became soft white noise.  The sun was coming up fast.  Ella Fitzgerald wrapped up ‘Lovin’ that Man’, and I happened to look up and toward the river just as Pavarotti began Bizet’s requiem and the clouds began moving from the field and river up to the sky.  I tried snapping a picture and/or video and then realized all I could do was just experience this heavenly moment.

It’s something that happens almost every cool morning along the Battenkill in Vermont, as it does along most rivers around the world.  I see it as I drive people to school, but today was the first time I really saw it.  I’ll be back tomorrow, ready to really see it and wondering if Monet was getting in touch with the same thing all those years ago when he painted the same lily pond over and over again.