I was asked to do this painting of the west side of Tangier Island by a family that lives in one of these homes, but prints of this watercolor are available as well.
A shabby chic vignette of flowers on top of flowers. Five pretty roses in a blue can rest atop layers of vintage floral fabric. Sweet and feminine.
A little 6×6” loose study of hydrangeas in varied colors, country simple in an old teal blue can.
An impressionistic little plein air painting done from my neighbor’s dock looking upstream. Looking westward in early evening and the sky was beginning to show some pink, and what happens above also gets reflected below around here. The Conodoguinet Creek is deep and wide at Cave Hill in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, allowing for a variety of boating activity. This same little white cottage with its blue shutters can also be seen in my Cave Hill Skater painting.
Milford, Delaware is an old shipbuilding town with the Mispillion River flowing right through the center of it. It’s close enough to the Delaware Bay to be affected by the tides, and high tide used to provide access for the shipbuilders of yore to launch their ships seaward. But wooden ships are of a bygone era.
Today the little town of Milford celebrates its river in a more scenic way. The Mispillion Riverwalk has been constructed nearly the entire length of its passage through town connecting parks and nature centers, affording easy enjoyment to joggers, strollers and bicyclists. This section of the walkway offers a glimpse into the backyards of a few of Milford’s stately old homes in the downtown area.
A commissioned painting of an interesting shack with a great old paint patina. Who would guess this was once the air traffic control building from a 1930’s and 40’s Air Force Base in southeast Montana. The faintly visible HTC on the roof stands for “Hardin Toluca Custer” Airfield. Weathered numbers on the siding indicate the elevation of the location. The grandson of the man who purchased this property from the Air Force back in the forties asked me to paint this building, which still stands near where the Bighorn River joins the Yellowstone.
A simple happy scene at a favorite beach, with late day sun casting long shadows in the sand. Cape Henlopen is a narrow finger of land that juts out into turbulent waters, where the Atlantic Ocean to the east meets the Delaware Bay to the west. The Harbor of Refuge Light is one of two lighthouses built on breakwaters that were constructed to form a safe harbor for ships in stormy weather.
When the lands that make up the state of Delaware were granted to William Penn in the late 1600s, he set aside Cape Henlopen for public usage, making Cape Henlopen one of the future nation’s first “public lands”. It has remained in the public domain ever since, with no private property cottages, condos or highrises, boardwalks or amusement parks. Just sand and sea! The crowds, the arcades, the trinket shops and glitzy nightlife are all nearby enough for those who seek them, but it’s also very good to have some protected natural places left to enjoy. Delaware is a little gem of a state that has placed a greater percentage of its land into protected parkland status than any other state.
I’ve long had my eye on the great clock tower of Denny Hall in Carlisle, with its aged green copper dome. I knew I wanted to paint it but wasn’t sure of the angle I would choose, until one day in April walking down High Street in Carlisle. There’s nothing like the fresh spring green color of tree buds emerging in front of dark clouds that can often roll in from the west in April. Along with the verdigris of that dome, I had the exciting colors and the scene I had been waiting for.
The property on which Denny Memorial Hall was built was donated by the Denny family of Carlisle and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First built in 1897, it suffered a major fire just eight years after completion. By 1905 it had been rebuilt bigger and better, and now houses Dickinson College’s history and social science departments.
A fun side note: the clock faces on all four sides of the tower are lit up at night and are of similar in size and color to the full moon. On very rare occasions you may catch a glimpse of the moon right beside the tower, for a pretty unforgettable sight!
Snapdragons are a real favorite of mine and they can be pretty hardy bloomers. It was in December after a mild autumn that I felt especially lucky to still have some flowering in the bed out front. But snow was coming and this would be the last of them. Time to snip them and bring them inside where they would add cheer to the coming winter weather. These snapdragons were a little straggly looking at the end of a long growing season, but still with enough pizzazz to paint in a shiny copper pot, with an apple and a few grapes for company.
The Monday paint group decided to have a “Teacup Week” during one of our Covid lockdown zoom sessions. Most everyone has a teacup or two around. For me it was one of my great-grandmother Maxwell’s Haviland Limoges Porcelain Rose teacups from the 1800s. I love that they have hand-painted roses both inside and out! How many Maxwells and their guests have sipped tea and coffee from these lovely delicate teacups down through the years, I can’t begin to say. But they’re all in perfect condition, well loved and cared for through the generations. Makes me want to paint a pretty dining table scene with more of these pretty pieces. It’s on the list!
A pretty display of spring tulips in one of the old neighborhoods in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Wilson Street is a great street for strolling in the Old Mooreland section of Carlisle.
The White Sulfur Springs near Colonel Denning State Park north of Newville, Pennsylvania has been a popular destination dating back to Native American days. Believers in the power of healing mineral spring waters have flocked to the area for centuries. The Doubling Gap Hotel was established around 1800 to meet the needs of those who traveled long miles to partake of the waters.
Early photos show women in long dresses and men in top hats with their pant legs rolled up, wading in little pools and streams that made their way down to the lake. The property contains numerous natural springs of varied mineral content bubbling up from underground, but not all of them were graced with such an elaborate springhouse as this one. When a falling tree recently destroyed this beautiful old springhouse, the owners of the present day Camp YoliJwa wished to preserve that bit of history and rebuilt it true to the original. I painted the springhouse in the fall, surrounded by leaf color, with nearby Lake Henriette peeking through the trees in the background.
If you ever decide to plant catmint, prepare to have lots and lots of it. And that’s not a bad thing at all if you enjoy clouds of purple blooms. I had planted it on the right side of my walkway but by the second year it had decided to jump across to the left side too! I just let it do its thing. I enjoy its display all summer long. When I noticed how prettily the catmint purples nestled around the various grays of the slate walkway, the limestone and my dented old watering can, it was time to capture this little garden vignette with paint and paper!
Dating back to the Colonial days of the 1750s, The Inn at Phillips Mill is part of the Phillips Mill Historic District, a community of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the northern edge of New Hope, Pennsylvania along River Rd and the Delaware River, sits an old stone grist mill and the charming little English style village that grew around it. The area naturally attracted artists and was the birthplace of the New Hope Art Colony where the Bucks County Impressionists got their start, including Edward Redfield and Walter Schofield.
I went with some friends on a day trip to see an exhibit of George Sotter paintings and we drove by The Inn at Phillips Mill. At the time I was unaware of the rich history. I just knew I wanted to paint this charming building so we stopped for photos. It was originally built as a barn but went through a number of incarnations including a residence, a tea room, and several restaurants and inns. Today it is well known in the area for its fine, old-world-style French cuisine.
Take note of the copper pig hanging from the sign pole, aged to a verdigris patina.
Believe it or not, this squirrel has her own social media page and has achieved a degree of fame! She was a tiny orphaned baby when a kindhearted couple took her in and successfully raised her to adulthood. After they released her into their yard, she stuck around and would come when called, rewarded with pecans and other tasty treats.
But then, why stop with just one squirrel? Word got out and before long there was a steady stream of orphaned baby squirrels coming their way. The couple’s home became a licensed wildlife rescue, where many more animals were loved and saved. But as their first rescue squirrel, ChippyBug holds a special place in their hearts.
Bean is a New England boy, through and through. He gets to go adventuring with his outdoorsy family and they started him young. Here he is standing on granite boulders in coastal Maine, and it’s always a joy to paint dogs in their favorite places.
Coco is a sweet Labradoodle with striking golden eyes. Her people say she is a very intelligent dog, almost like there’s a human behind those loving eyes. Coco is one of those special types of dogs who knows when her people aren’t feeling well. She willingly and intuitively steps right into a nursemaid role, “taking care” of them until they feel better.
After a short stint at the San Francisco dog pound, Wilma made a lucky landing with her new family. They describe her as the smartest, nicest dog they’ve ever had. Her DNA reveals her to be half Malinois, one quarter German Shepherd and one quarter Sheltie. Yes, those are some extra large feet on this girl, but they don’t seem to trouble her in any way! She gets almost daily sunrise walks on Baker Beach where she loves to play ball. With the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop, it was really fun painting this pretty dog in one of her favorite happy places!
An old photo, a favorite bracelet, the little hand-carved jewelry box Dad made for his bride, these were some of my Mom’s favorite things, now favorite remembrances of mine.
These assorted sheep belonged to a former classmate of mine back in the 1990s. They were her daughter’s 4H project and she won some ribbons showing them.
She had an old photo of them that caught my eye, not only for the curious sheep staring back at the camera, but also the rustic stone barn patterned with golden light and shadow by the low winter sun. The scene felt timeless, and could just as easily have been 1890. No matter what the era, apparently wooly sheep like these girls simply don’t like to have cold feet. We will happily stay snowed in today, thank you!
I’ve painted Children’s Lake in the little town of Boiling Springs, PA a number of times, and it’s lovely no matter the season. It was an unusually warm November day of about seventy degrees when I sat with some painter friends enjoying some plein air painting. Yupo is a good medium for me to use when I want to paint fast. It doesn’t allow me to get overly detailed, and that looseness is what I was looking for in this painting.
To live alongside the Conodoguinet Creek is to be blessed with an ever-changing display of water scenes! One day it’s ice, another day a brown swollen flood. A windy day makes choppy whitecaps, a still day a perfect sky mirror, and there are a million variations in between.
On this October day the rain had nearly finished. Perfectly concentric circles were captivating as the last of the droplets fell rhythmically from the overhanging Box Elder tree. The tiny perfect waves spread out and intersect with each other, an innocent little reminder of how we all make ripples in life, all the while receiving the ripples of each other. We’re all in this together!
Since watercolor on Yupo looks so watery, it was a no brainer to try some water scenes with it. After studying various reference photos of waterlilies and how they grow, this imagined scene emerged from my brush. There’s something exotic about the lovely lotus, and many cultures revere them. They are thought to symbolize longevity and indeed it’s been found that some seeds, having lain dormant for over a thousand years, will germinate and grow.
Many cultures view the lotus as a symbol of the seed of perfection, immortality and divinity carried inside of humanity. And of course Monet and his waterlilies of Giverny are proof that of a pond full of lotus blossoms has been a draw for artists over the centuries.
I’ve never been to France, but I will confess to having a “Google Earth” habit which has claimed more of my hours than I care to admit. One day after doing a jigsaw puzzle of a beautiful French lavender field I decided to hop onto Google Earth and see what that countryside is really like.
My brain became saturated with images of Provence as I “drove” the virtual highways and byways, completely charmed by the rolling hills, farm cottages and patchwork purple fields. This painting soon spilled out, of no place in particular other than the Provence of my dreams. Not long afterwards I had the good fortune of meeting a woman who was born and raised in Provence. I showed her this painting and she said “Oui… Provence is just like that!”
Looking west on Market Street in the little town of Newport, PA, just off the Juniata River after a rain. The budding trees bring fresh springtime color both to the town and the nearby foothills.
Having lived here at Cave Hill alongside the broad, lazy Conodoguinet Creek for four decades, I’ve had ample opportunity to see its many faces. We don’t get to see it frozen every winter, and skating isn’t always possible even when it does freeze. The Conodoguinet is well over your head in the deep center part of the creek here at Cave Hill, so we discourage would-be skaters unless there’s a good four inches of ice.
Perfect skating ice is uncommon, when it freezes just right without choppy ridges and lasts long enough without subsequent snow piling on top. I’ve seen avid skaters shovel themselves a skating rink when that happens, but there’s nothing like the thrill of perfect ice that invites you to skate for miles! For my husband, who is a much stronger skater than me, it’s one of the highlights of life here at Cave Hill. Depicted in this watercolor is my young neighbor who works the ice pretty nicely as well, navigating between snowy patches.
On Mondays I paint with a wonderful group of women in the basement of a small historic church. There are rooms painted in fun, bright colors for the Sunday School children, making this very old basement a decidedly cheery place to paint! Still lifes are set up with various treasures brought in by members of the group, so you never know what will inspire you until you get there. If none of the traditional still lifes grab me, I sometimes make off with a vase of something or other and head for the deep window wells of a corner room. This orange room was the perfect backdrop for a sprig of orange Chinese Lanterns.
Lots of fall color in these gourds and some nice warty skins to usher in the autumn season and witchy Halloween. Nothing edible about this particular fall harvest but it sure is fun to see and paint all the bumps, warts and wrinkles in bright yellow, green and orange gourds.
March of 2020 was a very different sort of month than any of us had lived through before. Covid-19 was upon us. It started like any other March but ended with life turned upside down, businesses closed and people afraid to venture out of their homes. A very dark time of more questions than answers. Mother Nature didn’t seem to notice though. Robins returned and spring flowers popped out like they’ve done for thousands of years. In my own neighborhood there is a Star Magnolia tree that can never wait to bloom. It will burst forth in exuberant display long before it’s safe to do so. Often it pays dearly for taking such a risk. Freezing temperatures cut short the fragile blossoms.
When I photographed a few stems for a still life painting, the white drapery came out nearly black in the background in contrast to the bright sunlight streaming in the window. It seemed a fitting scene for those dark times. Hopefulness amidst dark shadows. The gamble of emerging too soon into deadly danger. The determined persistence underlying fragile life. For me this Star Magnolia painting will ever remain a remembrance of those challenging times.
If you’ve ever shared space with a guinea hen, you know that she will spend the majority of her time looking for bugs to eat. That was in fact the reason that I got a flock of guineas. Living on the edge of a small woods frequented by deer, and deer ticks, any and all solutions were on the table. This watercolor started out as just a dense collection of Easter flowers but as I worked my way up the painting I found myself wanting something more than just tulips and daffodils. No one was more surprised than me when the idea of a guinea hen in the flowers was the flash of inspiration that come to mind. But I had seen it a hundred times in my own flower beds. Why not go with it?
Opal is a lucky rescue dog who had the good fortune to land in her forever home where she is totally adored. And even better, her adopted “mom” is a great photographer! There are a lot of photos to capture when you have a charming personality and lots and lots of spots, all over your freckle face and everywhere else too. Her mom must have crawled under the table with her to catch this one!
Nearly 16,000 acres of preserved wetlands along the Delaware Bay make up the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. It was a snowy December day when my husband, my brother and I decided to go exploring. We pretty much had the whole 25 square miles to ourselves. It was a heavy wet snow that quickly melted from the roadways but it transformed the marshy landscape, clinging to the reeds and tall grasses. We saw a great many birds that day, but this Great Blue Heron convinced me to paint him when he spread his broad wings to take flight.
Delaware is a small state, but big on ocean and bay beaches. Much of the Delaware Bay coastline feels like a throwback to the 1960’s with tiny coastal communities that seem frozen in time. Many old bayside cottages have lost their fight to cling to a narrow strip of beach in the face of rising sea levels and battering storms. Only about a dozen homes remain standing on the narrow sandy strip that is Big Stone Beach. They have a bay in front of them and a marsh behind. A bright blue sky with puffy clouds drifting over the marshy cattails caught my eye on this late summer day.
Lemons, grapes and a plump orange nestle into complementary black and white fabrics, with an 19th century pewter teapot standing guard.
West of Carlisle, PA is Meadowbrooke Gourds Farm, where every fall the sunflower fields are open to the public. On more than one occasion I’ve come home with armloads of sunflowers to share with family and friends. On this occasion, an old enamel bucket full of sunflowers made its way to my Monday paint group. Teamed up with a matching sunny yellow pair of ceramic chickens and my favorite vintage tablecloth, this still life was irresistibly cheery!
Annie’s Hydrangeas depicts pretty blue hydrangeas in a salt glaze stoneware pitcher. A slice of sweet juicy watermelon and a glass canning jar casting a green glow on the vintage tablecloth complete this still life. Fresh as a summer picnic!