This is my all-time favorite Christmas Tree!  I say that every year …. but this definitely tops them all. Photos don’t do it justice.

A magical tree

So as not to bore everyone, I’ll post more photos on a separate page: Christmas Tree 2011.  It is a branch that broke off a tree in our backyard during the last super-heavy-snow storm that destroyed trees throughout our area.   At some point I’ll draw it, but I don’t know if a drawing will do it justice either.

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After searching, without luck, for an apartment in Boulder, CO that would allow dogs and wasn’t in a basement, Michael Vergalla and I headed back East to New Jersey. The year was 1977

Pulaski Street, South Plainfield, NJ

When I first saw this sketch in one of my old sketchbooks, I thought it was the little house Michael and I rented at the end of Pulaski Street.  Now that I look at it again, I realize it is the house next door to the one we rented.  Our landlord owned both houses.  My neighbor and I were given permission to dig up some of the yard between the two houses for vegetable gardens.  My neighbor fenced his garden to keep the rabbits out.  I planted marigolds all around mine, for the same reason.  The marigolds worked and the fence didn’t.

This drawing is in the sketchbook that is in line to be the next completed sketchbook.  Thirty-seven pages to go.  The first entry is October 10, 1974.  I lived in the 2000 square foot attic, the seventh floor,of a warehouse in the North End of Boston, around the corner from Haymarket Square ( just prior to the beginning of the renovations).  Seven flights of stairs was a lot of steps to carry my bike and paints up and down every day.

The last entry is a page of ink sketches I did on Opening Day of the Green Brook Little League, April 17, 1994.

Pencil sketch using full range of value scale.

I just posted the second and third daffodil paintings to the Daily Paintworks Challenge to raise funds for the displaced people of Japan.

Daffodil Blooms No 2

Daffodil Blooms No 3

A garden has always been a part of my home, wherever that home has been. Daffodils grew in my mother’s gardens and they have always grown in mine, a reminder of new beginnings. These are the second and third paintings in the Daffodil Series of three paintings that I whave posted on the Daily Paintworks site to help the people of Japan. The profit from the sale of this painting will be sent to the Japanese “Aid for Bed” – directly helping by providing shelter for the displaced.

All three paintings were painting en plein air in early April of 2009.  They are oil on wood panel.

I now have over sixty pieces for Baer’s crazy quilt.  It’s time to start stitching them together.

The knit pieces for Baer's Afghan / Quilt

Traditions often begin without intent.  I never expected creating such bizarre knit quilts to become a tradition in my family.  Both of my daughters have begun their own versions of the quilt that evolves over time, changing according to left-over yarn, purchased yarn, unraveled sweaters and newly discovered stitches.  When it came to creating a gift of significance for my Godson, Baer, I could think of nothing better than such a quilt. I began it shortly after his birth, a year and a half ago.  It will be complete by the time he starts sleeping in a full size bed.  Now that I have over sixty pieces, it is time to begin stitching some of them together.

The process of deciding which pieces should be where is not unlike creating an abstract painting, adjusting the pieces according to their size, shape, color and value.  There will be gaps that need to be filled by knit or crochet stitches. Those little accents will be decided upon based on the adjacent pieces that are being joined by the accent piece.  There are no perfect decisions to be made, only choices that work as the work of art progresses.

Less than an hour after this photo was taken the little mushrooms had vanished.

Surprise Guests

The Hens and Chicks that Nicole brought me just prior to my surgery are still living in their little pots on the front porch.  I check on them each morning and I am always pleased that the porch plants are doing so well in this strange summer of intense heat and thunderstorms.  One morning I noticed these delicate little mushrooms growing in the pot.  Fortunately I hobbled back to the studio to get my camera and snap a photo.  Shortly after the photo they evaporated into nothingness.

Front Porch Garden

Another pencil sketch looking through the bedroom window:

"Sumac Tree" pencil sketch

This is the view I see every morning when I awake unless I rise before the sun does.  My goal was to simplify the clusters of leaves without losing the overall shapes and edges that identify it as a sumac tree.  These trees grow wild throughout New Jersey.  I keep contemplating pulling it out so that my blackberry bushes can reclaim the space, but I’ve grown to like the way it catches the morning sun before anything else in that part of the backyard.

To illustrate the answer to Leslie’s question about the color of the sumac leaves in the fall, I’ve added the image below.  Several years ago, when I was creating what I called “Captured Digigraphs” I scanned everything in sight, making collages on my flatbed scanner playing with shapes of colors and textures.  One of the images I created was of Sumac Leaves in the Autumn.

"Sumac Leaves in Autumn" captured digigraph

I am dreaming of dancing again:

pine tree viewed from the front porch ... pencil

About a week ago my sister, Louise, sent me a wonderful card with a painting of a woman dressed in a green silky dress, arms outstretched, streamers around her wrists, walking a shadow like a tightrope.  For the past week I have been dreaming of dancing and flying again.  I have missed those dreams and I am happy they have returned.

I imagine the pine tree that borders the cornfield stepping gingerly across the lawn at night, limbs outstretched, it’s long skirt making a rustling noise as it walks along its own shadow in the light of the full moon.

Some of these drawings I will post on my flickr account as soon as I can capture them properly with the scanner.