Okay. Obviously my modest 12x16 foot shed does not require the kind of grandeur and religious detail as depicted in the photos below, but wouldn't it be absolutely magical to do something like this on the ceiling of my studio?
I am surrounded by nature in my new home. And one of my new favorite things is to sketch the botanical profiles that grow here at the base of the Wallowa Whitman Mountain Range. Seed pods, conifers, bare winter fruit trees, Catalpa, Oak, Elm, pine cones, wild grasses - there's a lot to choose from. And now that spring is imminent, I'll have even more to gaze upon and admire! These sweet inspirations are also starting to show up in my paintings. Can't wait to show you what I'm up to. Until then, here are some botanical illustrations and inspirations to delight your eye.
Women Who Draw is a fabulous directory of illustrators, cartoonists, and artists who identify as women. The site was created to increase the visibility of female artists with an emphasis on artists of color, LBGTQ+, and other minority groups. I have loved discovering new artists via Women Who Draw and I hope you will too. (P.S. You'll find me there as well!)
Winter is still present here, but so is spring. Frozen ground is giving way to mud. And that means the shift is happening! So its time to dream about wearing something other than a parka. Here are my spring wardrobe dreams...
"To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars, birds, babes, and sages with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony."
- William Henry Channing
Innermost House is about twelve feet square and rests somewhere in the coastal mountains of Northern California. It faces directly south beneath an open porch that shelters the front door. A hill rises to the north and the forest lies all around. The house encloses five distinct rooms: kitchen, study, and bathroom, each approximately five feet wide by three feet deep, and a sleeping loft above the three of them.
The fifth space is the living room. On the east wall of the room is a small fireplace set a foot above the floor, with a hearth extension of bricks projecting a foot and a half into the room. On the west side is a wall of books four feet wide and seven feet tall. Between these walls of hearth and books, our two low chairs sit facing each other a couple of feet apart. Everything about the space is conceived to make a harmony of conversation possible.
"We live for a special intensity of domestic life that simply requires a concentration of space to achieve." -Diana Lorence, owner of Intermost House
"I know that sounds strange in a world where conversation seems to go on all the time every day. But pause for a moment and try to remember the single most moving and meaningful conversation you ever had. Perhaps it was with your mother or father in days long past, or with your husband or wife when you were first in love. Perhaps it was when you said goodbye to someone for the very last time. Now, how would you design, build and furnish a place so that those conversations could happen every day? That is the question we asked of every detail of Innermost House, and we are still asking it." - Diana Lorence
"We do not have electricity or power of other kind, so we warm the cabin and cook our food and heat our water for bathing all over the fire. Our firewood comes of local orchard prunings that would otherwise be burned as waste in the field. In the summer we cook over coals and wash with cold water. We light our home with beeswax candles. After examining all the options, we installed a conventional septic system, though we use very little water." - Diana Lorence
All the quotes above from Diana Lorence were found in THIS article at Tiny House Blog.
Snow is still very much a present part of our lives. In fact, last week I slipped on the ice and sprained by left knee. That was Eastern Oregon's way of saying, "Hey, don't get too cocky, you don't really know me yet."
This weekend, I'm laying low. I have a few writing deadlines and some house chores to attend to. But mostly, I'm taking time to rest my injury and hang with my kids. I'll be back on Monday, but until then, here are some eye candy photos to celebrate the weekend!
I awoke this morning around 5:45 to the sound of a low sliding crunch. My bed is tucked right under the roof and when snow is sliding off the roof, over the eaves, and into the yard below, it makes quite a ruckus. A fresh layer of snow settled in the valley overnight.
According to the trusty locals, we've had a very mild winter here in Halfway, OR. I know this to be true because there is evidence of last year's hard winter everywhere - barns down, damaged roof lines, and dented outbuildings, collapsed under the weight of heavy snow, yet to be repaired. I'm lucky. My initiation to winter in the Eagle Cap Wilderness has been merciful.
Never-the-less, as soon as I realized that we have a snowy walk to school ahead of us, I popped out of bed, threw on my boots and headed down stairs to fetch the snow shovel. My son Charlie uses a wheel chair and he and I need a clean path from our front door to the street. Once we're in the street, we just pop-a-wheelie and push through. But the 7 steps to the sidewalk can be a doozy if its icy.
I don't mind these little inconveniences. Life here in my new home has been extraordinarily good. The people are welcoming. The views are spectacular. And our new house is everything we need it to be and more. This morning, I am grateful.
And I'm also grateful for snow shovels.
I love the look of those fabulously isolated black Icelandic cottages with white trim. Why do they paint them black? I don't know why. All I know is that they are totally cute. You know what I'm talking about, right? Something like this...
Anyway, the point is that I love them. And I'm thinking about them because I am eventually going to move my temporary art studio - currently in my basement - into some kind of backyard structure. This endeavor is many months off, but in my dreams, my backyard art studio looks something like this...
One thing I've learned here in the mountains of Eastern Oregon is the essential skill of splitting wood and kindling. I've also picked up nomenclature like 'fatwood', 'bolt', and 'billet' (see definitions below). Albert Einstein said, "People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results." And he's right. Its extremely gratifying. After a morning of chopping and splitting wood I'm ready to sit down with a cup of coffee and wait for the 5-10 degree temps bearing down on the valley this weekend.
- Billet – 1. a short piece of log particularly used for fuel; 2. a split out piece of a bolt of wood.
- Bolt – a piece of log cut to specific length, usually a short length from which products such as shingles are split or cut.
- Crook – longitudinal bending to one side, caused by uneven seasoning or grain.
- Crotch – the section of a tree where a branch divides from the trunk, or the trunk divides in two; typically an area of convoluted grain.
- Fatwood – also known as "fat lighter," "lighter wood," "rich lighter," "pine knot," "lighter knot," "heart pine" or "lighter'd", is wood derived from the heartwood of pine trees. Its usually used as a fire-starter and is often stored in a "fatbox".
- Foxing – a yellow-brown discoloration of wood due to fungal infection.
- Green wood – unseasoned wood; freshly harvested timber, usually with a high moisture content.
- Rip – a cut made parallel to the grain.
- Stickers – a small block of wood used to separate boards that are in the process of drying.
Today, I'm sharing photos of the kitchen at Pine Cottage. There are some things I wish were different in this space, for instance the low 1925 countertops are making this 6-foot mama sad and the fact that there is no place to tuck away my refrigerator. But those things pale in the comparison to the amazing original cabinets, the beautiful hardware, and the spaciousness. Let's just say my kitchen dreams have come true!
Today marks 2 months that I've been in my new home. And after the holidays, visits from family, learning to navigate snow, starting a new school, and settling in to life's new rhythm, it is time to get my art studio up and running!
The only current viable location for my studio is in our unfinished basement. I've spent the last two months watching this space closely - assessing water leaks, monitoring possible mold situations, and marking temperature changes.
When we moved into our new home in mid-December, I wanted to jump right in and create my new art making space. But that would have been foolish. I've needed these past weeks to strategize my studio layout. The water table here is very high and I was warned that seepage would occur in the basement during snowmelt. And indeed it did.
So now that I've seen the water's seep-and-recede pattern, I feel ready to set up shop. Today, I am inviting you into the space to take a look for yourself. Its doesn't look like much right now, but my hope is to make it workable for the next 6-8 months. Thank you for supporting me during this move! Here's a sneak peek at my new studio.
BEFORE photos are always fun. Especially later when I share the completed space!
I am obsessed with green walls these days. Green walls evoke nature, and calm, and leafy coolness, and inner peace, and depth, and complexity, and gravitas. Go green!
Our home office will be a serious hub in our new house. Starting in May, both my husband and I will be working from home. He will be freelancing and also working as the North American Director of an international non-profit. I will be working with multiple non-profits as well as writing articles and editing photos. So the space needs to be functional, inviting, and spacious enough for two people.
I have a lovely round table thats 30" in diameter. Its the perfect size for our office. So today, I'm posting photos of library spaces that feature a little round library table. Our will not be used for dining, but will most likely be piled with books, coffee paraphernalia, and writing pads.
My mother and I helped put this room together, but my 10-year old son, Walker, is the brains behind the operation. He was sure he wanted a "tree house" kind of feeling to match the tall pines outside his window. He's also an avid reader and wanted a window seat to perch with a good book where he could enjoy the view of the street below. Walker picked the color of his bedroom (Spanish Moss) as well as the bedding for he and his brother.
My Mom helped me to paint the space. And she also figured out how to organize all of the books, games, and Legos with shelving from Bi-Mart. She designed the window seat area and built it with my step-dad. So this space was definitely a family affair. Take a look!
Here are the BEFORE photos for context:
I need a place to hang things. Its that simple. I'd like my future hanging space to look something like the following photos, but I know better. My family will just pile wet coat upon wet coat upon hats and scarves and bags and more coats until it looks like a bulbous blob of textiles floating against the wall. But hey, a girl can dream, right?
I've been re-reading Artists' Houses, a lovely book that features the home of 13 European artists. There is a wonderful chapter on Charleston, the Sussex home of artist Vanessa Bell and staging ground for the Bloomsbury Group. Decorating the home became a life-long passion for Vanessa (sister to Virginia Woolf). At Charleston life and art melted together and the house itself became a living testament to the gently subversive Bloomsbury aesthetic - mainly freedom of the individual. You can read more about the Bloomsbury Group and their contributions HERE, but today I want to share some photos of the home at Charleston.
Virginia Woolf wrote in 1916 about her sister's life and behavior at Charleston, "Nessa seems to have slipped civilization off her back, and splashes about entirely nude, without shame, and with enormous spirit. Clive now takes the line that she has ceased to be a presentable lady. I think it all works admirably."
Without shame and with enormous spirit. That will be my new mantra.
And here is a smattering of art created by Vanessa Bell while she lived at Charleston.
And here's a photo of Vanessa Bell, sitting outside Charleston in 1928.
I'm about to paint our office in a wonderful inky, chalky color called Inchyra Blue. Our office space has a lot of wonderful wood trim, which we'll be keeping, so I think the wood and blue will play nice together.
I am a sucker for dark, cave-like work spaces. I'm a Cancerian, as is my husband, and little shadowy nooks suit us well. (Remember when I did THIS?) We'll both be using this space to work from home starting in May. Its nice to slowly build out a space and avoid rushing. Here are some lovely, inky-dark, wood-heavy work spaces that feel "right" to me. Do you have a favorite?
I love the front room of my new home. It has a traditional Craftsman layout with a hearth and built-ins and one end and a small dining area at the other. The previous owner had installed wood paneling sometime in the 80s when it was fashionable to do so. But for our family, we needed something a bit brighter. I wanted to chose a paint color in line with the age and style of the house so I went with a greige tone appropriately called "Air Castle".
My Mama helped me knock out this massive paint job over the past three days. Let me tell you, friends, painting over wood paneling is not for the faint of heart. My mother deserves a gold medal for diving into this project with me! But it was well worth it. Here are some quick photos of the finished space with some 'before' shots for context. Enjoy!
ABOVE: I'm still on the hunt for a lighting fixture to install above our dining room table. I'm hoping for something that is both Craftsman and modern - sort of a mash-up. If you've got any good ideas, let me know!
And a few BEFORE photos...
As most of you know, I've just moved into a Craftsman home in Eastern Oregon. The home, built in 1925, has a textbook exterior and a traditional layout. The best past is that in the downstairs rooms, which include a dining, living, office, and bedroom, all feature original unpainted wood trim. Its pretty dreamy.
My usual style tends towards bohemian, textile-heavy, moody interiors, but now that I'm the steward of this home, I feel the need to decorate more in line with the original vibe of the house. There are also many cottage-like elements to my new place, which I love but don't necessarily call for the "Sarah Greenman Boho Treatment".
This week, I'm painting the walls of my living and dining room. Of course, I will keep the wood trim untouched. So as a precursor to that transformation, I thought I'd share some Craftsman home inspiration here on the blog! Aren't these space incredible?
A year ago today, inspired by the Women's March movement, I began a series of paintings. Women and female-identified activists across the country are marching again, so I am sharing these pieces again, all together, as reminder (mostly to myself) to keep moving forward.
NOTE: These pieces have all sold.