Singing at Pine Fest

Here in Halfway, OR we have an annual music festival called Pine Fest. Its a two-day celebration in September featuring music from all over the region. In between the big acts, local musicians take the stage for short 20 minute sets. My husband and I joined our neighbor, Curt, for a 6 song set that included some Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and The Beatles.

It was a blast playing with my partner for our sweet little community. The audience was very appreciative and said all sorts of nice things afterwards, which made me feel like a million bucks. The takeaway from this whole weekend is that my partner and I want to keep playing together - just for fun. Just for us.

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Late Summer Snap Shots

Summer is ending here in the Pacific Northwest and the early hints of Autumn are tapping at the window. Cooler mornings, yellow-tipped trees, corn and peaches everywhere I look. And the telltale sign that summer is over? My kiddos are back in school. If I could write an ode to free mornings without kids, I would.

My kitchen is overflowing with amazing local, organic produce. We are swimming in goodness - mostly gifts of food from neighbors and friends. And because of this bounty, everything in my kitchen seems to be in a state of light decay, screaming "Do something with me right now!!"

I have spent hours upon hours in the kitchen this month canning and freezing food for the winter. And you know what? I love it! I get downright giddy when I see all those beautiful jars of peach butter and apple and pear sauces tucked away in my basement cold storage. My freezer is full of pitted apricots, cherries, peaches, and more. I'm so grateful. 

Today I walked around my home with a camera. I wanted to capture a few snapshots of our house when it is not perfectly tidy but rather when it's in a state of use. This is when I find my home to be most beautiful - pillows squished beneath the weight of resting bodies, countertops covered with projects, tea jars sitting in the sun. Today, I give gratitude for a full pantry, the changing season, and the home that shelters my dreams. 

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What is inspiring you lately?

I've been finding all sorts of inspiration in the most unlikely places this month. I've included a bevy of images below, all of which have been cut out, or saved in my inspiration file. What will I use them for? I'm not sure. They may make their way into my writing, onto a painting, or into a conversation. What is inspiring YOU lately? I want to hear all about it. (Leave a comment!)

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  THIS  dining room.

THIS dining room.

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  THIS  kitchen

THIS kitchen

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 This painting by  Hester Berry

This painting by Hester Berry

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Video Tour of the New Studio

I created a video tour of my new art studio for my supporters on Patreon, but I thought I'd share it with you today as well! This space has been months in the making. And while there is more to do (trim work, painting the floor, etc.) I am all moved in! 

This studio truly has everything I need. The best part is that it completely adheres to the manner in which I work. I think, as women especially, we are taught to take up as little space as possible - and to have a room of my own encourages me to spread out, get messy, experiment, work multilaterally, and take up space!

I hope you enjoy the tour. And if you're interested in supporting my work in a more structured way, I encourage you to visit me at Patreon. A small monthly pledge connects you to the art-making process in a visceral way. If you are moved by my work and want to participate in its creation, then consider this your invitation. I'd love for you to join me.  

Featured Artist | Hillery Lay

I had the pleasure of viewing some of Hillery Lay's paintings in person last month during The Little Big Show in Baker City. Hillery is an artist based in Eastern Oregon (my new home) who describes her work as 'contemporary rural painting'. The collage-like, pop-art, color-block quality of her work is so unique. Her colors are always bright - neon even - with washes of gold uniting the heart of each piece. I'm riveted. 

Hillery Lay uses her art to engage in a really beautiful dialogue with her surroundings and with the ups and downs of events that affect her immediate natural environment. I can't wait to see what she makes next! 

Want to know more? Take a look at her BLOG and follow her on INSTAGRAM.

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Harvest is Here

One of the beautiful aspects of moving to a rural place without restaurants, drive-thru coffee joints, and convenience stores is that we have to make all our own food. And now that its harvest season in our valley, I'm up to my ears in fruits and vegetables. I have been madly drying, canning, freezing and baking my way through the month. 

I'm a big apple butter fan, so when I came home with 40 pounds of peaches this past week, I looked into creating peach butter. Good Gawd! It's my new favorite. I've canned 24 pints of peach butter since the first of August using this recipe. I omitted the sugar because these peaches are so lovely, they need to be preserved as is. We can always add sugar later if we like. But I love the pure, slightly tart taste of the butter sans sugar. 

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The other thing about living so far from a good grocery store is that I cannot get a wide variety of breads. So, I've whole-heartedly thrown myself into the world of baking bread from scratch. My neighbor gave me a beautiful sourdough starter to work with. And another friend gave me the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Brown. This morning I made a Whole Wheat Sourdough Round using the Tassajara Bread Book. Isn't she a beauty? And it was so tasty!

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The Bath

Our new home has only one bathroom. Thank goodness its a pretty good size. We've already replaced the toilet (a must), and my Mama surprised me by doing a nice tile backsplash along the back of the sink. Its a sweet little space and I'm itching to paint it, or create a little no-money magic. Since I'm still not sure what I want to do, here are some inspiring bathroom photos to spur me along. 

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New Work for Choice Hotels

I have been working with Choice Hotels since 2015 on a series of coasters for their Cambria Suites & Hotel franchise. I create site-specific images for each of their unique hotels. There are four new hotels opening at the end of the summer, which means that I have four new coasters to share! Here's the latest: 

  Mount Pleasant, SC   |  Marina

Mount Pleasant, SC  |  Marina

  Omaha, NE   |  Downtown

Omaha, NE |  Downtown

  West Orange, NJ   |  Home of Thomas Edison

West Orange, NJ  |  Home of Thomas Edison

  Dallas, TX   |  Skyline

Dallas, TX  |  Skyline

Want to know more about this ongoing corporate project?

Check out THIS VIDEO.

Cottage Landscaping Inspiration

Now that my art studio is in place, my mind has wandered to landscaping the areas around the new structure. And as usual, I like to start with photos of spaces that speak to me. Lets get inspired! 

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The Little Big Show

The Little Big Show is an annual art show at the Short Term Gallery and numerous galleries throughout downtown Baker City that opens August 3rd and runs through the month of August featuring a multitude of local and regional artists.

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All works are 8 inches by 8 inches and are priced at $40 making The Little Big Show the perfect opportunity to discover and start collecting work by your favorite local Baker County and Northeast Oregon artists. I'll have 6 pieces in the show this year. Take a look:

 

 

 

New Work from the Studio

A few weeks ago, the owner of the local bakery here in Halfway, OR asked if I'd like to hang some of my work in her shop! Um... YES! 

They are now happily installed on the walls of Dry Creek Bakery, overseeing the daily coffee and maple bar trade. They are also for sale in my online shop. Enjoy browsing!

  Chosen Family   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Chosen Family  |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  The World is Wide   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

The World is Wide  |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  Shy   |  3 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Shy |  3 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  The Blue Hat   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

The Blue Hat |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

  Chosen Family   |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

Chosen Family |  12 x 12 inch acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

Featured Artist | Mary Davies Kerns

Today I had the supreme pleasure of meeting artist Mary Davies Kerns! She has three pieces hanging in an art exhibit called "The Wild is Calling". Its currently running at the National Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, OR. (I have two pieces in that show as well.)

Mary grew up in Haines, OR and her work centers on the desert and ranch landscapes which make up that part of the country.  Her work is both pastoral and abstract, comfortable and unsettling. Seeing her pieces in person today knocked my socks off. Maybe it's her dynamic use of underpainting, her choice of pure saturated colors and dark shadowy contrast, or the confidence of her brush strokes - or are they palette knife? Whatever "it" is, I couldn't help but feel lifted and happy in the presence of her work.

If you don't already, you must follow her on Instagram - of course for her paintings but also for her lovely photos of eastern Oregon and western Idaho. She has a large body of work, but here are some of my favorite pieces:

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White Walls in the New Art Studio

Progress! I have now successfully painted two coats of KILZ on my new studio walls. I love the white. Its pretty traditional for an art studio and in this case, it makes the space feel brighter, lighter, and bigger. 

I still need to trim the windows, install switch plates on the outlets, and paint the floor and ceiling. But since I probably won't get to those things for a month or so, I'm hanging some decorations and getting cozy. Here are some recent shots of the space! 

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First Artworks From the New Studio

My new art studio is far from finished, but I've moved in and started painting anyway. Last weekend, my Mama and her amazing husband finished insulating the shed and installed the OSB board walls. My next job is to caulk the joins, paint the walls and trim the windows and doorways! 

As soon as the walls were up, I got to work on a new series depicting some of the wild rivers and waterways that surround my new home in Eastern Oregon. They are currently on display at the U.S. Bank in Baker City, Oregon from now until January 2019. 

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"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding." - John O'Donohue

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My river series will be on display at the U.S. Bank, 2000 Main Street, Baker City, OR 97814 from now until January 2019. If you're in the area, stop by and take a look!

Savoring Summer

The past two weeks have been filled with friends, fresh food, and lots of beautiful weather. And most of my days have been spend outside. Whether I'm on the porch, taking a walk, tending the garden, sitting around a bonfire, working in my neighbor's orchard, or visiting my Mama's place - I am savoring my summer by getting out of the house. Here are some of my favorite photos from the past two weeks:

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Slowing Down is Hard

 Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Above: Working as part of a planting team in my neighbor's help field. 

Slowing down is hard.

When I was young, I was taught that doing something fast meant that I was successful. The more I did and the faster I did it, the more I was praised. I learned quickly that overachieving on a deadline was GOOD. And I also learned that anything done slowly was BAD. That doing something slow was not worth doing. Slow meant "lazy and unfocused". 

I've been living in my new home for 6 months. December 13, 2017 marked my first full day in the new house. At that time, I thought I'd have my art studio up and running in a matter of weeks. I thought I'd have a final draft of my new play done by February. I thought I'd have a million and one things done by June. Things have gone differently than I had planned. 

I see now that my expectations were... in a word... silly. The purpose of this move was to slow down and to discover my real pace. I knew I needed to slow down, but I didn't know how to do it.

 

How do you interrupt a lifetime of FAST habit energy?

 

"Frenetic, yet productive" was my norm in the big city. And it was normal because everyone around me had embraced the same fast pace as "normal". Out here in rural Eastern Oregon, things move slowly. I moved my family here to partake of this slower pace and the peace I imagined it would bring.

The journey of the past six months can be encapsulated in one sentence: Allow the natural pace of your environment to inform your own pace. Eastern Oregon is working on me. I've resisted and allowed my inner editor to hurl accusations: "You lazy idiot. Why aren't you working? You're missing opportunities left and right! How will you stay afloat if you're not making money every moment?" But the natural pace of this serene place is stronger than my old habits. SLOW is chipping away at the walls. SLOW has opened the windows and invited a breeze. SLOW has turned on the taps and allowed cool water to flow. 

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I don't have a final draft of my new play. I don't have a completed art studio. Which means I don't have completed art pieces. I haven't met commission deadlines. I haven't delivered the goods. What I DO have is peace. Peace doesn't put food on the table or pay my electricity bill, but it does allow me to feel whole and to express gratitude.

SLOW is helping me to come home to myself in a way I never considered possible. SLOW is allowing me to say no to opportunities in exchange for time - that most precious commodity. SLOW is allowing me to help my neighbors. SLOW is allowing me to learn the patterns of local birds. SLOW is allowing me to notice my inner yearnings. And most important of all -  SLOW is allowing me to prime the pump of my own creativity. 

Even in the face of my own internal resistance, I can feel the shift. By embracing SLOW, I am investing not only in the quality of my day-to-day life, but also in the quality of my creative work. SLOW is ultimately allowing me to be more connected to the work I produce. The work is not yet ready for an audience, but I can already feel that the work is of higher quality than that which came before. 

Perhaps that is a the real lesson here. Embracing SLOW will actually help me to achieve MORE in the end. 

 Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon. 

Above: The Powder River near my home in Eastern Oregon. 

June Already

It has been almost a month since I last posted. This is what happens when your husband returns home after almost four months away and then family wedding season begins! 

My partner, who has been away finishing a job in Dallas since mid-January, returned home to us on May 10th. It has been WONDERFUL to have him finally home. Since then, we've traveled to Ashland, OR to see my father in a play, worked a week thinning the apple trees at Eagle Creek Orchard, helped our kids finish the school year, and then off to Portland, OR for a week where I officiated a family wedding! 

We're home now, ready to truly settle in to a new rhythm. Its difficult when the family is not complete - when one or another of us are away making art and saving the world. The home always feels in limbo until the core family group is reconstituted. We're together again and the summer is looking up! 

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The photo above was taken at sun set from the Idaho side of the Snake River looking back at the Wallowa mountain range. What glory! What wonderment! Eastern Oregon is magic at this time of year. (Anytime of year, really.)

This will be our first summer in the new house. We're in the process of firming up our summer plans, but it mostly consists of family time on the front porch, exploring our beautiful surroundings, harvest work in the local orchard, and for me - finishing the final details of my new studio (like installing walls) and painting. Oh, so many paintings to complete!

What are your summer plans? 

Working at Eagle Creek Orchard

Eagle Creek Orchard is an organic orchard under the incredible stewardship of Linda and Rob Cordtz, two of the most gracious, curious, interesting people I've ever met. I first started visiting their orchard around 2011. Every year, I look forward to eating their beautiful peaches, cherries, apricots, apples, and pears.

The orchard specializes in tree-ripened and hand-picked fruit. The fruit trees are watered from Eagle Creek which flows clear and cold directly out of the Wallowa Mountains. 1200 fruit trees cover the five-acre orchard which has been Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth since 2008.

This year, since I've moved into the area, I offered to help with their orchard tasks. I told Rob, "I don't know what you need, but I'm a quick learner". So they brought me on board! Now, I'm part of a team that will thin and harvest pit fruit through the summer and maybe into fall. This morning, standing on my ladder, shears in hand, I felt really connected to my food source and so appreciative of the gorgeous fruit that Eagle Creek Orchard produces every year.

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There is a place en route to the orchard where you can see my Mama's farm from across Eagle Creek. I pulled over and snapped a few shots of her home and of the creek that irrigates this beautiful valley. 

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Transplants

This is my first spring in eastern Oregon. I've been coming to this valley for twelve years, but I've never been here at this particular time of year. Here in the foothills of the Wallowa Mountains, spring seems like an impossible magic trick. Four weeks ago there was ice on my walkway and snow on my eves. Now the days are growing long and the whole world smells like river water, warm pine needles, lilac, and cut grass. Daffodils and Tulips were an overnight fireworks show in flashy primary colors. And just this week, every tree limb has gone pink and white and purple with fruit blossoms. It's astonishing.

My own yard mostly consists of grass, dandelions, eight towering pine trees, and a few horrible rogue Elm trees. I've been strategizing about what, if anything, I might like to plant. The house, which is a traditional craftsman, screams "cottage garden", but with so much shade from the trees and the acidic soil from the pine needles, a cottage garden isn't really possible. So I've been researching forest bed foliage. I'd love to try a lush shade garden!

It turns out that hydrangea do pretty well in acidic soil and can tolerate low light situations. So I've decided to plant some in the front of the house. And this weekend a couple of neighbors gifted me some transplants: Fiddlehead Ferns, Lily of the Valley, Silver Dollar Plants and two Lilac saplings. I also got my hands on some Day Lilies for a sunny spot along the front fence. I'm so grateful for my generous neighbors and this new opportunity to start a garden on my own. Everything in this valley grows so beautifully, I think it will be much easier than my garden adventures in Texas. Wish me luck!

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