Sunday, December 15, 2013

The weather reports did not look good at all!  A wintry mix of ice, snow, rain, and fog was predicted for Saturday, December 14, 2014, the day of my Christmas Open House.  Nevertheless, I prepared as if the day would be sunny and seventy.  

I had already set up the diminutive Christmas decorations that I have collected just for the gallery space.  Some I just picked up in August at the Brown County Humane Society Barn Sale fundraiser and some at a neighbor's Moving Sale.  Others, I have had for years, some since childhood.  

Since I like deer, despite the fact they eat my garden produce and flowers, I have taken to collecting decorations of deer.  A sparkly gold deer hangs in the window.  Small wooden deer are set on the ledges of other windows.  A ceramic deer arches to the sun on another ledge.  

A couple small, golden Christmas trees are strategically placed and a small table top tree is the centerpiece on the food table.  A string of tiny lights wind around the bowls and platters of yummy, organic, "living foods".  A couple of small nativity scenes are tucked on ledges and tabletops.  The big nativity scene with porcelain figurines, made for me by my sister, is in the house and too large for the gallery space.  I had made a large wreath with fresh cut pine boughs and blue ornaments for the outside of the building and set out the lighted wicker reindeer on a stump out front. A beautiful, bright red poinsettia sat on the floor.

I love the Open Houses because I get a chance to prepare foods I don't normally eat as part of my daily diet.  Being a raw foodist now for over ten years, I eat a pretty simple diet of organic, fresh fruits and greens.  The dehydrator is the raw foodists "oven" cooking the food at temperatures under 105  degrees and used to create those more exotic dishes.  I usually don't eat many dehydrated foods because, well, they make me feel dehydrated. 

But the Open Houses give me an excuse to try new and fun recipes as well as tried and true ones.  So, I whipped up a batch of the ever popular, spicy, Mexican flax crackers that are always a favorite.  I have other flavors I can make like an Italian cracker and a curry, Indian cracker but the Spicy Mexican one is my favorite.  I also made a batch of addictive, candied, cinnamon walnuts.  Got everything going in the dehydrator by early Friday afternoon to "cook" overnight and be ready Saturday morning.  Then I made a big bowl of guacamole that is great with the flax crackers.  And cut a variety of fresh veggies and fruits. 

I also made a cranberry relish using my Grandmother Marsh's recipe of cranberries, apples, and oranges run through a Greenstar juicer with the blank plate on.  She sweetened with sugar but I steer clear of refined sugars and used Agave Nectar.  YUMMY!  I have noticed that fresh cranberries are only available in the produce section during the Christmas season so it is nice to take advantage and enjoy them while we can.

So all was set and ready.  I even turned the heater on the night before to make sure the gallery would be nice and toasty.  The temps have been so cold the past week, dipping as low as zero one night!  Luckily, Saturday was downright balmy with temps well above freezing.  

My neighbor, Tim, drove over with his snowplow to clear the driveway a little bit after noon.  Normally, I don't bother plowing as I can get in and out just fine and wear good boots coming and going but I like to have it cleared when expecting guests.  He wasn't sure he would be able to make it so I was totally surprised when he pulled in. 

And, yes, several groups of people did come!  I am so gratified that people came out in the weather to attend my Christmas Open House.  One gentleman called in the morning to make sure it was still a "go" and then drove up with a friend from Madison, Indiana!  He said the drive up was stunningly gorgeous.  I have often noted that the most challenging weather yields the most magnificent scenery.  

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended.  I loved seeing everyone and sharing some Holiday Cheer!  And to everyone who could not make it (and I am one who would stay tucked in at home by the wood stove when the "weather outside is frightful"!), I want to extend an invitation to please come for a visit at your convenience.  And to those who live too far away to visit, please check out the new paintings on my website at

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Merry Winter Solstice!  Have a blessed holiday season and safe travels.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deep Snow in Yellowwood Forest, December 7, 2013, oil on panel, 16" x 12", c. Charlene Marsh

Hard to believe almost a month has gone by since I last blogged.  Time sure flies!

We got slammed with 8" - 10" of snow last Thursday evening through Friday evening and I've been digging out ever since.  I worked on digging out the cargo van this morning.  Saturday, the sun came out and I desperately wanted to go out in the woods to paint.  I just love those sunny, snowy paintings!  The snow and shadows reflect the blue sky and I love the opportunity to work with all the shades of blue, turquoise, teals, periwinkles, and shale blues and greens.  

BUT, I had a big problem.  My good hiking boots that cost $250 fell apart this fall after only a couple years of use.  I have been looking locally for another pair and finding nothing.  Seems no one carries waterproof women's hiking boots and, if they do, they don't have my size 6.  I really didn't want to order another $250 pair of boots if they are only going to last two years.  

So....Saturday morning, with knee high snow on the ground, all I had were my rubber barn muck boots that I had worn out into the woods the evening before and nearly froze my feet off.  I had to crawl up the hills on all fours to keep from sliding back down with every step.  I also had a pair of low top waterproof hikers I wear in my booth at shows when it is rainy out but they would do nothing to protect from the snow. 

After the local highway trucks came through and plowed and sanded on Saturday, I went into Nashville to the local hardware store, Bears, which I absolutely love.  They always have 3-4-5 "good 'ole boys" waiting to help you and solve any problem you may have.  They taught me how to install an electric fence and have found hardware to solve problems from chicken scratch drawings I bring them.  I knew they had a section of outdoor clothing and since a woman is part (maybe full) owner of the store, they actually carry OUTDOOR CLOTHING FOR WOMEN!  I have found other outdoor gear there when I couldn't find it anywhere else.  

Indeed, they had a full selection of boots for both men and women.  Scanning the selections, my eyes fell on a pair of royal blue(my favorite color) and black boots described as "Arctic Extreme Conditions Sport Boot" by Muck Boots in my size six!  They are knee high, insulated boots with a very thick sole made for walking and working in the snow.  I took them to the check out counter and asked the young lady at the register if they had gotten good reviews and she said, "Everyone around here wears them".  So I bought them, took them home and immediately put them to the test.

The afternoon was already getting later than I would have liked but I was determined to get out to paint.  I must say, I am absolutely thrilled with these boots!  In the past, I would use toe warmers in my hiking boots and my feet would still be freezing cold while I worked on the paintings.  Not just my toes but my nose and fingers were absolutely freezing.  I couldn't wait to pack up and get moving.  But with these boots(and the toe warmers), my feet were perfectly comfortable the entire time!  And I noticed I was comfortable over all.  Even my nose and fingers.  The boots seem to keep the body core warmer.  

 So I am looking forward to a very creative and productive season this winter painting the lovely snow and creek in the forest!  I have posted the painting I did on Saturday at the top of this post.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"First Snow, November 12, 2013", oil on panel, 16" x 12", c. Charlene Marsh

First measurable snow of the year!

Okay, we didn't get much but enough to cover the ground.  I had the farrier coming at 1:30 p.m. so I rushed out into the forest in the morning to get a painting done before the snow melted.  The sun was out so it was quick work before the snow melted.  This fall, the colors went from green to gold to rust, with no reds.  A few trees still had green/gold leaves!  One tree lost all it's green/gold leaves after the snow fell so there was a blanket of these leaves on top of the snow!  Very surreal. The snow painting has a hint of fall underneath the snow.

I got back in time to meet the farrier only to learn he was running late.  Darin and Allie, his assistant, arrived shortly and trimmed both horses quickly.  The ponies stand perfectly in their stalls and don't even need a halter!   My mare, Missy, Meegy's mother, is 31+ years old and blind in one eye.  Darin commented that POAs (Ponies of America) and Appaloosa's(that are bred into POAs) are notorious for going blind.  Missy and Meegy are both POAs.  I am going to have to keep a close eye on her to make sure her other eye is good.  I've had Missy for eighteen years now and, along with her son, I am hoping she can continue to do well in her familiar surroundings.  

I have never used a blanket on her but am thinking it may be time.  Tonight temperatures are due to drop to 18 degrees and I am worried about her.  I spent much of yesterday winterizing the property putting away glass sculptures, birdbaths, garden fountains, hoses and digging up a new iris bed.  Also had to bury a dead possum I found next to one of the gardens.  I also put out the heaters in the horse water trough and goldfish pool.  But I forgot about covering the two windows in the barn where the horses come and go and eat.  I'll have to do that tomorrow. 

Anyway, I'll be posting all the new paintings soon.  I have worked really hard to capture the changing fall colors and hope to post a progression of the change.  The snow painting caps the end of fall.                                                                                      

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Treasures from the Forest

Today, my chimney man came to clean the wood stove and stove pipe.  He measured how dry is my wood and declared it the best he had ever seen measuring 14-16% moisture.  He said it doesn't get better than that.  I try to stay a year ahead of the wood so it has time to "season" and dry.  Burns much more efficiently!  He also installed a screen to the cap to keep out birds.  I had two bluebirds fly into the stove pipe and die in the fire box last spring and I didn't want that to happen again!  

I have been painting en plein air like a madwoman every day.  Backpacking a heavy pack into the forest, up and down the hills, can be a real challenge.  Especially given a sledding accident back in 2007 where I slammed into a tree at about fifty miles per hour, smashing my back.  For a few moments, with my face in the snow unable to catch my breath, I honestly thought that was the end of the trail, literally!  But I was finally able to get a breath and lift up out of the snow.  Everything, while in extreme pain, seemed to be working.  Working enough to walk a mile home through the snow.  

Anywho, I have been backpacking out into the forest every day to paint the fall colors.  We are having a very late fall this year.  Normally, the colors are over and done by the end of October and, certainly, no later than November 4.  Usually, my last plein air fall painting is done on the 28th and then a storm comes through to knock down all the leaves and the trees are bare.  There will still be lots of beautiful rusts and purple colors but the bright, fall colors are over.  This year, the colors weren't even starting to change until mid-0ctober and not peaking until the end of the month!  This year, golds and rusts dominate and there are not so many reds.  But I love painting all the shades of gold!  

Since the fall colors are only here for about three weeks, I cannot miss a single day of painting!  Hence, painting like crazy every day!  But, today, the afternoon got later and the shadows grew longer by the time the chimney man finished and left.  My back was sore and I was generally tired all over from going out every day of the past two weeks with a heavy pack.  I decided to just hike my trail and scout out painting locations and enjoy just being in the forest, sans pack and paint.  

Along the way, I found a nest fallen from a tree along the ridge top and then an old deer skull along the creek.  When I got back to my property, I used the apple picker with it's ten foot long handle to pick a hat full of apples.  The tree has been most productive this year.  I stop nearly every day to pick a handful of apples to enjoy, fresh and cold.  Sometimes I pick a bag full to save for later.  They may not be pretty but they are organic, bug free, and very tasty!  The hawk feather I found a couple days ago along the trail.  That'll look great tucked in the band of a hat.  The geodes and crinoids are from earlier expeditions.  

Walking and painting in the forest is my passion and my addiction.  I feel so much peace in the forest.  A day is simply not complete until I have spent time in the woods, along the creek, amongst the hills and cradled in the hollers. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Charlene Marsh Studio/Gallery sign
Thanks to everyone who attended the October Open House last weekend!  I was humbled and honored that people came from all over the region and as far away as the Saint Louis area to attend.  I have had additional visitors this month who called and came out at their convenience at other times which is just great.  I love visitors to the Studio/Gallery!  Please call first to make sure you don't waste a trip out here and that I am in the gallery when you arrive.  This is my big, plein air painting season to capture the fall colors so I am likely to be out in the woods at any given time.  I am not a nine to fiver, that's for sure!  I was on the Brown County Back Roads Studio Tour one year but found it very difficult and disruptive to my painting schedule.  I tried to set hours that would still allow me to paint but it didn't really work too well.  I think for the artists and artisans who are at work inside their studios all day, the Studio Tour is just great!  But trying to work outside in the woods and still man the studio/gallery didn't work for me.  

Here is a sneak peek at a new painting, still wet, done at that magical bewitching hour of dusk when the colors have an ethereal glow.  The colors last a very short time before it gets too dark to see.  I'm coming home in the dark with a flashlight!  

"Bewitching Hour in Yellowwood Forest, October 18, 2013", Oil on Panel, 16" x 12", c. Charlene Marsh

Stacking wood on a crisp, windy,  fall day.

The big pile of cut and chopped wood has been staring at me for a week now.  I like to get the wood all stacked and under cover before the winter snows blow and since they were blowing just yesterday, I decided I better get to it.  I worked on the pile for three hours or so and got maybe half of it stacked.  I get a bit obsessive about tasks like this and often work until the job is done with no or minimal breaks.  But I still needed to eat some lunch and get out to paint in the woods so I finally stopped even though the job wasn't completely done.  

Note how green the leaves still are on the trees!  I usually finish the last plein air fall painting around October 28 when the colors peak in a brilliant red  and then a storm blows in and knocks them all down.  But this year, the colors are just getting started!  Comparing this year's color to even last year, we are a good 11-14 days behind! 
Getting started.  You can see the unstacked wood dumped behind the growing stack.  Older wood, already stacked, is under the tarps.

Finished for the day.  Time to go paint!  There is a second stack, about half the length,  shaping up behind this one.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

First snowfall of the season!  

This morning started off cold, one of the coldest of the fall season.  Temperatures hovered around forty degrees when I headed back to the barn to feed the ponies and my basil still looks fine so it didn't dip to freezing overnight.  I worked outside around the barn and gardens and woodpile until a cold drizzle turned into a cold rain.  A few minutes ago, I noticed the cold rain had turned to snow!  Too warm to stick but snow nonetheless.  Sometimes big fluffy flakes!  Reminds me of an October snow about twenty years ago when we actually got 8-9" of heavy snow that blanketed the October oranges.  Created very surreal, beautiful colors.  The snow didn't stick around long but long enough I did a lovely painting that was purchased by a close friend. 

First Snow of the Season                                                                                        

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today I said goodbye to an old friend.  She was probably 70-80+ years old and had passed away this summer.  "She" was a stately, tall, old hickory tree in my backyard next to the studio/gallery.  She provided shade on hot, summer days and let the sun shine in during the chilly, winter months.  

A large top branch broke off last spring and my arborist advised me of the options.  We decided to wait and see how she did this year.  Early spring, she sprouted green leaves on the trunk with the most hollow pocks, you know ~ the perfect hollows for nests and woodpeckers.  The solid side didn't have any new green leaves.  Over the course of the summer, despite more rain than the past two, the green leaves turned brown and died.  By July, it was clear that the past two years of drought had taken another victim.  

So Matt and Levi came out today and, using climbing gear and ropes and pulleys, brought her down.  First the lateral branches.  Then one large trunk.  Then the last, largest trunk with a few laterals that could not be trimmed.  She came down with a roaring crash and thump that rocked the earth.  An awesome sight to see and hear.  Matt's skills guided the fall so that it narrowly missed my zinnias and bed of peppers.  Not one broken plant!  

Old Hickory will serve one final purpose:  she will heat my house as firewood in the wood stove,  providing the cozy warmth only wood can on cold, snowy, winter days.
Old Hickory before being cut.

Skyline looks a lot different without Old Hickory.

Monday, September 23, 2013

This morning I woke up to deer in the yard eating my flowers.  But I love watching them and cannot chase them off.  Two bucks and two does.  From the points on their antlers, the boys appeared to be three and four years old.

This guy seems to know I am "shooting" him.
Today I went to the Minnetrista Center in Muncie, Indiana to see the exhibition, Open Spaces:  Art About the Land, where I have two paintings on display.  I also needed to pick up a painting that I need to use as reference for a large commission project I am doing as a result of the Port Clinton Art Festival in August.  The client loves the colors in that painting and I want it in the studio for "influence" while I work on the commission. 

The exhibit was beautifully hung.  They always do a great job there.  

"Blizzard Snow in Yellowwood Forest", oil, 18" x 24", (c) Charlene Marsh
The quality of the work overall was mixed.  Some work was outstanding while other pieces leave one scratching their head, "How did that make the cut?"  They have a professional category and an avocational category and all the work is hung, mixed in together.  Nevertheless, it was easy for the trained eye to tell the amateur work from the professional pieces.  I suppose they are trying to be inclusive and encouraging to avocational creators.  

I enjoyed seeing the show and the wide variety of work and mediums on display.  I checked out another exhibit in a nearby hall where pieces from the Minnetrista Heritage Collection were on exhibit. Beautiful historic displays about the history of Muncie and the Ball Family legacy are on permanent display.
Minnetrista Center, Muncie, Indiana 

Gazebo in the Rose Garden at the Minnetrista

Last night I was late heading out on my evening walk in the woods.  A friend going back several decades had called out of the blue and we talked until twilight.  I grabbed a flashlight to take with me since it was already starting to get quite dark out and followed the creek up into the woods about one mile and then turned around and headed home.  Twilight had turned to pitch black dark without even a little moonlight to help light the way.   And deep in the woods with a heavy leaf cover, there was not even any starlight to brighten the way.  But I had my flashlight and could sufficiently navigate the trail even in the dark.  Although, I noticed that when I turned off my flashlight, I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face.  I got back to the gate at the top of the hill at the back of my property and waited for my fourteen year old dog, Teddie, to catch up.  I usually hear him chugging and puffing as he approaches and scales the hill.  My eight year old pit/rott mix had already arrived and gotten her treat at the gate and we both sat waiting for Teddie.  I sat on my "thinking rock" and let my mind drift.  

But the minutes grew longer and longer and I realized I didn't hear Teddie and he should have been there by now.  Last I had seen him was when I turned around by the creek and headed home.  He was right behind me.  But now he had vanished.  I called and listened and called again.  I headed down the hill and followed the creek all the way back in the pitch black night, calling and stopping to listen for him.  I got all the way back to the place where three large trees had fallen over a couple of weeks ago, where I had last seen Teddie.  But no sign of him.  Concern grew to panic and fear.  Thoughts raced through my mind about what had happened.  Maybe he had a heart attack and was dead somewhere in the woods.  Maybe coyotes got him even though I hadn't heard anything to indicate that.  Still, the thoughts tumbled out, trying to figure out where the old boy could be.  

On my way back, retracing the trail, my pit/rott was sitting in the middle of the trail about halfway back.  And I asked her, "Where's Teddie?  Help me find Teddie" and she immediately became extremely animated and ran up the trail a short ways and stopped and looked toward the creek, down the embankment.  So I dropped off the trail, down the embankment, towards the creek.  A little scary to leave the trail because even with a flashlight it would be very easy to get hopelessly twisted and tangled and lost in the woods.  But I had to find my boy!  I could not leave him out in the woods, alone, all night!  Much to my relief, with his sister's help, I found him down there in the creek, hopelessly lost in the dark.  I think the poor old boy, with his aging eyesight, must have had trouble finding his way in the dark and got lost from the trail. I clipped on his leash and got him back on the trail and back home.  I was so relieved to have everyone safely back home.  It was close to 10 p.m. before we got back inside and I fed them their dinner. 
Teddie, asleep and safe at home. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Day Lilies and Lightning, July 10, 2013", Oil Painting, 9" x 12" by Charlene Marsh

This weekend I attended the 60th wedding anniversary of my Uncle Roger and Aunt Pat held in Anderson, Indiana.  I had to make the tough decision to pass on the possibility of participating in the Fourth Street Art Festival held in Bloomington, Indiana, which is a local show for me.  I seemed to start getting signals that perhaps Fourth Street was not in the cards this year when I learned I was wait listed for the show.  Shortly afterwards, I heard from family members about the anniversary party which was scheduled for August 31, the opening day of Fourth Street.  Then I received the invitation in the mail.  My heart strings were definitely being tugged!  

Then my best friend from high school, Nalini, called to say she would be in the area this weekend and wanted to come for a visit.  She just spent three weeks in Europe vacationing in Italy and tending to some business in Berlin (after dropping her daughter off at a friend's house in Paris).  Now she is in the midst of three weeks traveling throughout the USA getting her daughter set up at Penn U. in Philadelphia with jaunts to NYC and Washington, D.C. for business and a few days in Muncie with her mother before coming to Brown County, where I live.  After leaving my humble studio/gallery/farm, she will fly to Dallas for more business before going home to California.  Whew!  For a homebody like me, that is a very impressive schedule!  Not quite sure how I ranked a slot!

So that was another signal that perhaps my energy was not going to the art show.   But the final signal was when I received an email from the Minnetrista Center in Muncie that the exhibition, Open Spaces:  Art About the Land, was accepting artworks on the 30th and 31st.  The Minnetrista has been very good to me through the years buying two large fiber artworks from me(one was a commissioned project) for their permanent collection as well as hosting a retrospective several years ago.  And the theme of the show just seemed too perfect for my paintings! 

When I thought of going to Muncie to deliver my paintings and attend the anniversary party, I could feel my heart sing.  My brain was trying to tell me that it made more sense to hold out for a spot in the show, that I could make more money, that I should be practical.  In the end, I decided to follow my  heart.

And I am so glad I did.  The time spent with family reminiscing about the past and hearing my uncle, now 86 years old, talk about the family history, including events dating back to the Revolutionary War, is precious and irreplaceable.  One cousin's daughter, Molly, a teenager,  stood up to relate how invaluable the three weeks she had spent with her grandparents this summer had been in reinforcing the honor and sense of "doing the right thing" every day.  I was reminded of how part of the eulogy at my Grandfather's funeral had been how he "fought the good fight" everyday and how proud I am to be a Marsh and come from an honorable family.  And how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful family to have been able to spend so much time together growing up.  My grandparents lived just around the corner and the cousins lived another four blocks away.  My brother reminded the gathered group last night about how we had spent every major holiday together as a family for 25-30 years.  We still try to get everyone together every year but now they are usually for weddings and anniversaries and sometimes, sadly, funerals.  

The drive home afterwards was spectacular with a lightning show nearly the whole way home.  Not too much rain but lots of "fireworks."  Some of the lightning was in multiple bolts across the entire night sky.  Made it hard to stay focused on the road.  The drama of the bolts of light against the black sky was just incredible.  The light show was a perfect cap to a beautiful day.  I was reminded of a painting I did out here on my farm this summer when a storm was rolling in and lightning was flashing and, so, I have included it here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I got back from the Port Clinton Art Festival early this morning.  The show was very high quality and a pleasure to be included.  I could write about the show and all the great artwork and artists but what weighed heavy on my heart this evening as I walked in the woods was the saber rattling and impending attack on Syria by the war mongers.  

Syria, a world away from Brown County, so why should I care?  I care because I see the great evil unfolding.  I care that my hard earned money made from creating and selling beautiful fine art is going to fund these attacks.  Syria has done nothing to me or my neighbors or the USA. 

The evidence points to the Syrian rebels launching the chemical attacks, NOT the Assad regime. 

President Assad is being accused of using chemical weapons on his own people and this is what he says about that:

"This is nonsense," Assad was quoted as saying in an interview published Monday. "First they level the accusations, and only then they start collecting evidence."
Assad said that attacking such an area with chemical weapons would not make sense for the government as there was no clear frontline between regime and rebel forces.
"How can the government use chemical weapons, or any other weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its troops are situated?" he said. "This is not logical. That's why these accusations are politically motivated, and a recent string of victories of the government forces is the reason for it."

I have to ask, "Who stands to benefit from such a chemical attack?  Who has used chemicals in the past on innocent, civilian populations?"  Certainly, Assad does not stand to benefit from such an attack as he is already being widely condemned and threatened despite the lack of any evidence he is responsible for the gas attack.

The USA has used chemicals in the most despicable way from using Agent Orange on the Vietnamese and dropping Depleted Uranium on Iraq causing long term birth defects and health issues and environment destruction with no regard for the native populations.   The USA regime claims they need to bomb the hell out of Syria "for the children", utterly destroying their civilization and whatever quality of life they would have had.

And, to really top it off, we are funding and arming the Al Qaeda terrorists fighting the Syrian regime, creating chaos, and who are beheading Christians and burning churches throughout the Middle East.  

John McCain met with one Al Qaeda terrorist who, one month later, was videotaped cutting out and eating a Christian's heart. 


These are the terrorists our government is supporting with our tax dollars!!!

For millennium, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have lived peacefully together in the region and only now, after violent extremists have been armed and supported by our government, they are causing great instability in the region.  The globalist/banker/military/industrial complex that has usurped our government benefits from creating ongoing war and destruction throughout the world to lead us towards World War III with Russia and China and creating the One World Order they desire to see in place so that they can control every person on the planet.   
Our money and energies are going to fund and support these actions which are crimes against humanity.  The time is now for good people to stand up against this evil.  My thoughts and prayers are with the Syrian people and for the citizens of the USA and the citizens of the world.  May God help us.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Milwaukee Domes.
I just got back from a show at the Milwaukee Domes in Wisconsin.  An incredible location for an art show!  Three large, geodesic domes housed various habitats.  One featured tropical plants, a second, desert plants, and then a third, called the Show Dome, was available to rent.  The City of Milwaukee was building new greenhouses behind the Domes for starting plants to beautify the city.  Along with the art fair, sixteen professional, plein air painters were invited to paint throughout the grounds and their paintings were then exhibited under a large tent on panels.  Made me really itch to get out and paint!

Milwaukee Domes water feature.

A drama unfolding on my cooler pack at the back of my booth was a cicada emerging from the nymphal skin!  Too cool!  Here he is coming out of the nymphal skin with his wings all tightly folded up.

Cicada emerging from exoskeleton.

Here his wings have expanded.  Over time, they darkened and he eventually flew away.  All this happened over the course of the afternoon while I tended my booth.

Cicada fully emerged out of the exoskeleton.

Here is a pictorial documentation of the entire process:  Cicada Emerging 

The book, Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, advises paying attention to the messages that animals bring to us, especially when there are multiple appearances in a short span of time.  Seeing the three snakes in three days and a shed snake skin as well as the emerging cicada, all within a week's time, got me to pondering metamorphosis and transformation.  I read where the cicada can take 2-5 years for its metamorphosis from ground dweller nymph to full fledged flying adult.  And on the drive home I thought about this process of shedding an old body, old beliefs, old restrictions and flying free, higher than ever.  These events represent the inevitability of change, of outgrowing our circumstances.  Metamorphosis is the magic of change that ensures growth.  With insects, the final expression is usually with wings.  The keynote for the snake according to Animal Speak is Rebirth, Resurrection, Initiation, and Wisdom.  Both the cicada and the snake go through a death and rebirth cycle as they outgrow the old.  I have to ponder how does this affect my life?  What changes do I need to make to better create the life I want and fulfill God's plan for my life?   Am I on the right path or do I need to make some adjustments?  Where does my heart want to go?  What is my heart's desire which is God's desire for my life?  What do I need to shed to emerge in a new, better form?  What do I need to shed to fly high?  How can I transform my life to better reflect where I need to go?  

Change, which can be difficult, forces creation which is essential to the life of an artist. Better to make changes in an easy, flowing way than wait for life to force change upon us. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Enough snakes already!  I am sure you are ready to see some artwork!  Here is a brand new still life, an oil painting called "Lilies and White Coneflowers, July 29, 2013".  One of my collectors came to the Summer Open House on July 27, 2013 and brought me this absolutely stunning bouquet!   I just had to paint it!  Very inspiring!  The painting is 20" h. x 16" w. and done with palette knives on a panel.    I am going to frame it later tonight and think either a lovely silver or mahogany frame would work on it.  I'll try both and see what will complement it best.  Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing this gorgeous painting.   Please use the Inventory Code #072913 20x16 so I know exactly what painting you are interested in. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Snakes Alive!  Another snake!  Thankfully, not a copper.  I have a pile of pine wood chips and peels of pine bark and was using the bark pieces to mat down grass and create a new bed for lettuces.  Ever cautious that snakes live in woodpiles, I found this guy in a knot of wood when I lifted his "ceiling".  After I took this picture, I put the bark back on top of him, leaving him undisturbed.  

We had a nice thunderstorm with heavy rain last evening.  My baby lettuces are happy as is the rest of the garden.  All this rain means more mowing!  I worked on clearing out the fence line along the driveway that has been blocking the view of the studio/gallery building.  The woodpile (12+ ricks!) I moved a couple days ago was the first step.  Weeds and vines and even a small treeling had really grown up this summer in the narrow space between the woodpile and the fence.  When I stacked the wood there this past winter it really bugged me that it blocked the studio/gallery building but had little choice at the time.  The wood was delivered shortly after the Christmas night blizzard and there was no way to put it anywhere else at the time.  Once I get all this cleared out, I can plant some beautiful flowers to welcome visitors.  Much better feng shui than a massive pile of wood and weeds!

I checked the watermelon patch this morning and am thrilled at all the watermelons coming on!  One of my absolute favorites in the summer!  The cantaloupes and cucumbers are producing nicely as well, climbing up the trellises I made for them.  Think I'll go vertical next year with the watermelon.  The zucchini squash is so prolific I put some out by the road with a FREE sign for my neighbors who may not have a garden. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Small garden snake found in woodpile.

Lots of excitement on the farm the past couple of days!  On Tuesday I moved 12+ ricks of stacked wood out of the driveway to open up the view to the gallery/studio building.  I was aware that there was likely a snake in the wood since I had already spotted a shedded snakeskin on the top.  As I moved through the pile, I came across a cute, little blue skink, a big, brown skink, and a small, harmless, garden variety snake.  He was pencil thin and maybe one foot long.

Copperhead found while moving woodpile.
At one point, I pulled a piece of wood off the pile and there lay a copperhead!  I don't need any help identifying this big guy!  I got bit by one on Friday the thirteenth, in July, 2007 and was laid up for two months!  Needless to say, I was being very cautious with this guy in the mix.  He kept moving deeper into the pile and I would pay attention to where he moved.  I uncovered him again and again until the pile was down to about six pieces of wood with him on top.  I almost felt sorry for him losing his cushy shelter in a perfect mouse habitat.  I thought of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West was shrinking and screeching, "I'm Melting...My World, My World"

Luckily, I kept my distance and he was not inclined to become aggressive which I have heard some coppers can become.  He eventually moved on and I was able to move the last six pieces of wood. 
Then on Wednesday, while cleaning the horse stalls, we were swarmed by hornets that attacked! I suffered multiple bee stings and ran from the barn, throwing down the rakes.  The horses began bucking and raring and generally going wild!  I finally managed to get the horses and rakes out of the stalls and shut up the barn.  I had to quickly clean out a side lean-to so the horses would have shelter and a place to eat their hay.  

Later, after the hornets had quieted down, I crept into the barn stalls and inspected the walls for a hive.  I found the opening of the hive through a crack in the wood planks that appeared to be built between a double kick wall.  Later that night, after dark, I suited up in multiple layers of clothing and ventured back with a can of hornet spray.  I have an organic farm at the side of the state forest so it is a very clean and pristine environment.  I NEVER use any chemicals in the house, gardens, barn, and land - except - when dealing with a hornet hive which I had to do on one other occasion a few years back.  I have heard several stories this summer of horses being killed by bee stings and I am not going to take a chance with the the horses.  Or people! 

By this morning, the hornets were gone and I was able to open up the barn and let the horses back in for their breakfast.