In 1853, Henry David Thoreau wrote: “Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.” Ever since I was a small girl, I have been blessed with living near that “channel.” My love for nature began in the Encampment Forest on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior. Our family had a cabin nestled in the woods, and setting not far from the shores of the “Big Lake.” I would hike various rivers along Lake Superior: Encampment, Split Rock, and Gooseberry. It was these experiences that first inspired me to paint landscapes, lakescapes, flowers and waterfalls.
The “Falling Water” series began during a turbulent time in my life. The “twists and turns” that rivers take, especially during flood stage, seemed an apt metaphor of my life at the time – taking emotional twists and turns, crashing into rocks, fallen trees, “overcoming boundaries.” Then, all of a sudden the river (and my life) would take a huge vertical drop – at times it seemed to take one’s breath away – then descending into a calm pool of water. I want the viewer to feel as though he/she is standing at the precipice of each waterfall, and feeling the sheer vertical drop that each waterfall takes, and experience the “mist,” as well as the smells of the northern forest. The format of these paintings (20” x 42” usually) is intentional, to reinforce the vertical drop in each waterfall.
The “Flower” series, entitled, “A Tribute to Janis” (Janis is pronounced: “Ya’nis”) began in memory of my brother-in-law who died from bone cancer at the young age of 41. I started this series working from Janis’ photographs, which was a very healing process for me. This series also gave me the inspiration for my “Garden Series.” I work directly from the gardens I have created on my property in Castle Danger. For me, working from flowers and plants that I have put into the landscape has been a very meditative process. Additionally, I work from other live subjects, concentrating on the wild flowers of Minnesota’s North Shore.
In recent years, I have rediscovered the joys and challenges of painting “en Plein air,” which is French for “painting in the outdoors.” Whenever possible, I like to paint directly from nature, taking my paints and easel out on the shores of Lake Superior and capturing the various moods of this magnificent lake! As Thoreau so aptly said, “Life consists with wildness; the most alive is the wildest.” I feel most “alive” when I’m painting directly from nature, whether it is in the forest, on the lakeshore or in my garden. This is the channel through which my life flows!
Just a few notes on a couple of other images on my web site: “Rocks Under Water” is another series I’ve begun to explore. For this, I make quick sketches on site, including some color notations. Then, I take many photographs from which I can complete the image in the studio. I have always wanted to learn how to paint rocks under water, so I have spent many hours just simply watching the waves and the light dance over the rocks.
The inspiration for, “Larger Than Life: Sleeping Fawn” was a true miracle to behold! Early one morning, my two Samoyed dogs started to bark and were literally jumping up and down wildly, looking through a large picture window from my bedroom. I thought those annoying raccoons were at the bird feeders again. I went out on the south-facing deck, inspected the bird feeders, and thought everything was fine. As I was turning to head back into the house, there among the new growth of hosta was a tiny, baby fawn! “Mom” had “parked” him in my garden for safe-keeping while she took a break – not far away – just across the creek bed on the neighbor’s property. (We typically have a new born fawn on our property each year, and “Mom” knows us and how far the dogs’ leads can reach!) I quickly went into the house, grabbed my camera, and proceeded to take about 2 dozen photos. He couldn’t have been more than a week old! I painted him larger than life, much like Georgia O’Keeffe does with her flowers, to make the viewer stop and really notice the awesome wonder that is really all around us!