Friday, December 28, 2007


You know how the approach of the New Year sometimes makes you nostalgic for old friends, long gone. Here's one. He was a magnificent Golden Retriever. Actually, 1/16th Coon Hound, which meant he had a magnificent nose to go with that handsome face, and some red in his curly coat of hair. He was my husband's best friend before I met him, and he became my best friend, too, after we married. Such a lover he was! He had been a hunting dog, a retreiver of ducks, geese and pheasant in water or out. But when my husband gave up hunting in exchange for a more compassionate heart, Max was left with no choice but to retrieve newspapers and shoes. Once, he brought us every newspaper in the neighborhood! I spent all morning returning them.
Friend of all, he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Children and toddlers were safe in his care. Kittens, too, nestled between his legs for a warm, secure nap. We were foster parents to a dogey lamb one season, and Max took over its care until a more suitable mom could be found. His love was no respecter of specie!
He lived a long and happy life of sixteen years, and we know exactly where he is right now.
He's fishin' with Leo, my father-in-law, down on the River, there on the Other Side!
We'll see you later, Ole Bud!
"Maxwell in the Mountains"
Graphite on paper
11" x 14"

Monday, December 24, 2007

San Franciso de Assis

This is a painting of the front that famous church in Taos, New Mexico, San Francisco de Assis, or St. Francis of Assisi. You know, the one that Georgia O'Keefe made famous. She painted the back of it because she was drawn, as are many artists, myself included, to the abstract geometric forms of the massive adobe walls, and the way their uneven surface reflects the ethereal light of northern New Mexico.

On Christmas Eve, the walls and roof of that church are lined with little brown paper bags filled part way with sand. A votive candle is placed in them, and lit at sundown. They are called "farolitos" in Northern New Mexico, and "luminarios" in Albuquerque and points further south. There's an ongoing dispute about the proper name, but it's all in good humor. Sort of like whether biscochitos should be made with lard or butter. It's our state cookie and there is an official recipe, of course. I make mine with butter and brandy, but have no argument with those who prefer lard and sweet wine.

The luminarios are a long established part of New Mexico Christmas culture. Right now, my husband is busy filling our little bags with sand and we'll light the candles at sunset, before we go off to church. There is a full moon tonight. The only thing that would make it even more perfect is if it would snow. We'll come home to the flickering glow of those candles, warmed by the humble brown paper bags, and eat our posole and have a biscochito with some brandied coffee for desert, while we light the final candle in our Advent Wreath. A uniquely New Mexican Christmas Eve and a tradition we have followed for many years!
Those flickering candles have more meaning to us than mere decoration on a special night. On a long journey to Bethlehem, they illuminate the path for the donkey to trod, carrying his precious cargo of Mother and Child, soon to be born in a stable, filled with the warmth and adoration of the animals there. And into this dark night, this world filled with war and death and hopelessness, the Christ Child comes to bring true Peace of the Soul. Joy, unspeakable, overflowing our hearts until tears pour from our eyes with the excess! Love, unexpressable love, that will not let us go! Receive Him tonight! Light the way in your heart for the Christ Child to come in and give you the Gifts He has promised! Love, Peace and Joy! Merry Christmas, Saviour Divine!

(This painting is sold, but a similar one is available at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dysfunctional Families

I heard a character on a TV program say recently that, “we’re all damaged goods.”
She spoke truthfully. I certainly am. My family, my husband’s family, all bear signs and marks of sin’s effect on our lives. Broken relationships, damaged spirits, shredded hearts that may never be whole again, this side of Heaven. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. Sin leaves a scar; by definition, a scar is a sign of a wound. This time of year those wounds, old and new, seem to fester and cloud our joy with resentment, depression, sadness and unresolved grief.

Love covers a multitude of sins, the Word says. I believe it. I have experienced the healing power of love. But love, true, selfless love, also bears a heavy price. We risk everything when we love. We risk having our hearts broken, our spirits shattered, our lives torn apart. Why, then, love at all? Because that’s what we were created to do. That’s the lesson we were put on earth to learn.

I believe that Jesus, the Messiah, came to earth to show us how to love, to show us what love costs. He was wounded for our sins. But his great sacrificial love overcame them. Through His willing sacrifice came forgiveness and reconciliation for the whole world.

Have you ever read the Genealogy of Christ in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (Chapter 1, 1-17)? What a dysfunctional family Jesus came from! From Adam to Joseph, Jesus’ ancestors included children born of an incestuous relationship, children born of former prostitutes, children born of adultery. You just know that those relationships weren’t all warm and cozy. One thing about the Word of God: It is unsparing in its recording of human depravity. God’s Word makes no excuses. Warts and all, here it is, folks. Just like the lives we all live.

I don’t have a perfect family. Neither did Jesus. And so, I make no excuses for our dysfunction. I accept my family, and myself, for what we are, not what I wish we were. But, I continue on in that love that Jesus brought to me, that lives in me because of Him. And through that love, though it be painful at times, I plan on , someday, becoming a whole, fully functioning Spiritual being. Perhaps not until that glorious day on the Other Side, but yet, one day! And with that Wholeness comes True Love, that will not let me go!

We have now lit the third candle on the Advent Wreath. Come, Oh Come! Emmanuel!

Art Quilt
Hand dyed & printed fabric
Collection of Northern Baptist Seminary
Chicago, IL

Saturday, December 15, 2007

God Bless All Those Cold Little Critters!

It got really cold last night. It was 12 degrees F this morning at sunrise. And it's a whole week away from being officially winter.
When I let the chickens out of their coop, it was all warm and steamy inside from the collective body heat of 11 chickens and the light that had come on an hour or so earlier. The goats came out of their warm, dry shed all blinky from a good night's sleep, clean straw clinging to their bodies.
That early, that cold, not a wild creature was stirring, not even the ravens. But I heard some nearby dogs barking. I hear them barking late at night, too, even on extremely cold nights, well below zero. My heart goes out to them, and to the other domestic livestock and critters who must endure sub-zero temperatures, freezing winds and blowing snow without adequate shelter. The weatherman will often conclude his nightly winter forecast by imploring people to bring in their pets for the night. Maybe some do. Maybe some of them had warm shelter, protected from the cold wind. But I know for a fact that some do not.
What are people thinking when they leave their dogs and cats out on a cold winter night? When they leave their domestic livestock unprotected from the harsh elements? Then, the next day, they receive a bowlfull of dry kibble and maybe someone breaks the ice on their water. So, they use up even more bodily resources trying to warm up their cold bodies with cold food and ice water. They survive, generally. But the reality is that it shortens their lives. They use up precious resources trying to stay warm. Their immune systems are compromised and they are prone to early death from a variety of causes. Winterkill. It's caused by the cold.
Please, people. Have a heart. Take care of your critters on a cold night. Make sure they have warm shelter protected from freezing wind. And warm water to drink, at least once a day in the winter. They are the "least of these", too.
Note to friends and family: Apologies for misleading you in our Christmas letter. You can see those "adorable pictures" of our critters at instead of the Forever Friends page at the blackberry site.
"Blue Bird in Winter"
5" x 7"
Oil on board

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Prayer as We Light the Second Candle of Advent

"In the darkness we light a flame of hope.
May it dance not only upon our Advent wreath but within each of our hearts as well.
Hope is the flower that blooms from the ground of faith.
And so, with joy, we keep the tradition of ages past as we encircle our Advent wreath with love
and prayerful expectation.
May this Advent season bring us a new birth of hope in the ancient promises of God.
Amen" (author unknown to me)
We finished our Christmas shopping this morning, while the snow floated to earth soft like a feather and covered all we could see with its gift of moisture on a parched land. An Advent Gift from God! But what can we give Him? What do you give Adonai, the Sovereign Lord of the Universe? Like the Little Drummer Boy, who played his drum for Him, and offered the only gift he had to give, we, too, seek to gift the Christ Child with something from our heart, something with meaning for Him.
Jesus the Christ said, "Whatever you give to the least of these, my brethren, you give to me." So, we who have much offer gifts to the least of these, those who live in fear and despair, lives torn apart by war, disaster, poverty and disease. We offer gifts of transformation of lives through a wonderful organization called "Samaritan's Purse". We gave a brood of chicks, a dairy goat, a school of fish in a fish pond, help with farm and garden projects, emergency food. We gave to help train a native believer to proclaim the gospel message of hope and salvation, the gift of Good News to suffering people.
If you're tired of the meaningless orgy of greed and gluttony that consumes our hearts and souls every December, visit this website and offer a gift to the least of these, to the Christ Child whose humble birth in a stable we supposedly celebrate.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bobbie Sue

She was born in Paris, winter child of the Ozarks, firstborn of Carl and Trilby.
Raven hair and amber eyes, dark as the deep shadow of the piney woods;
Child of the unopened door.
What omens opened her heart there?
She was water cress in rushing stream and green musk melon, red squirrel with bushy tail
escaping long rifles in tall trees.
Gap-tooth barring smiles she smiled with her eyes instead, twinkle on a moonless night.
I remember her laughter, deep and throaty.
And her tears, falling into sudsy water.
Life dealt her bitterness, and she almost gave it up.
Pain, but she persevered.
Rescued by angels she was born again and died in triumph o’er the grave.
Heroine of mine, muse of my soul, she watches from the Other Side and is remembered well.
Happy birthday, Mom!

"Girl with Feather"
22" x 24"
Oil on Canvas

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Who Is This Man, Jesus, Anyway?

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, in the Christian calendar. Blue and Gold are the colors of royalty and they signify the coming of our King! We acknowledge and celebrate during the four Sundays of Advent that Christ Has Died; Christ Has Risen; Christ Will Come Again! The first candle we light on our Advent wreath is called the Prophecy Candle as we look forward to His Coming Again. We are admonished by Christ himself in the gospel recorded by Saint Matthew to "Keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come...Be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
So, who was this man, anyway, that Christians worship as the Son of God and Son of Man? Who was supposedly born to an unwed teenage mother, a virgin, no less, in a steamy stable full of sheep and cattle one star-filled night on a winter long ago? Who Christians are expecting to come back to earth again? And why should we care.
I'll let Him explain it to you in His own words: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1:15-20)
Pretty awesome, huh! I have meditated on the mysticism of those words for years; it would take eternity to fully comprehend their meaning. I made a quilt, called "Reconcilliation" that now hangs in the library of a seminary in Chicago as a result of that meditation. (You can see it on my art site under the art quilt section.)
Do you sometimes feel a little empty at this time of year, dashing through the chaos with your hair on fire? Slow down, and consider that there is a real reason for this season, after all.
Jesus, who died for your sins and mine.
Jesus, who rose from the dead to defeat sin and death.
Jesus, who is coming again to complete the reconcilliation of all things to God.
"Blue and Gold"
Oil on canvas, framed
11" x 14"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sadie Lady

This cute little Apso person has recently come to live with us. Our home will be her forever home.
Her official name is Ch. FFT All Said and Done, and with all her official duties completed, she's earned a comfy retirement home in the country. She used to be a show girl. You should have seen her with her headdress and costume on, prancing around on stage! She won all the awards, too. She was a beauty and she's still a cutie! Instead of the long tresses she wore in her professional career, she's got a darling little bob now, which shows off her eyes and figure even more.
I can't even begin to tell you how blessed we are to be her guardians, for her to be our little girl! Zeke will tell you that she's the best thing that's happened to him since raw chicken necks for breakfast! What a pair they are! I'd say "partners in crime", but they are such Good Dogs! I think they bring out the best in each other.
After God created Adam, He saw that, even though Adam had all the animals to befriend and assist him, he needed a helpmate, someone just like him, but different. So God created Eve to be his helpmate, his partner, his life-long friend. Zeke needed someone just like him, only different, too. Everyone needs a friend!
Welcome to our lives, our home, and our hearts, Sadie Girl! We already love you very much!
6" x 8"
Graphite on paper

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Consider the Ravens

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. We did. Wonderful food; great company. New folks and old friends and acquaintences made for stimulating conversation. The blessing before the meal was said by a young man, fresh out of high school, on his way to university. He held up those less fortunate and those of recent need for a special blessing, and it was well-said. Made us all appreciate even more God's generous provisions in our own lives.

In my life, I have seen some hard times, yet I have never gone hungry, never gone without a roof over my head, never gone without medical attention, always been adequately clothed. In spite of the occasional dire straits , God has always provided for our needs, bailed us out, set us back on the straight path. He promises to do that if we will but trust Him. Lean on His promises. It's harder done than said. But we need only look to the birds of the air to see how trustworthy are His promises.

Jesus tried to console his anxious disciples who had given up careers and income to follow Him by telling them to "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn; and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!"
Whenever my anxious heart needs consoling, all I have to do is look out the window. Jesus feeds the ravens daily around our house. He feeds us, too.

"Tasty Morsel"
5" x 7"
Oil on board


Monday, November 19, 2007

Every Good and Perfect Thing is from Above

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…James 1:17

I am thankful to the Father of Lights for the good and perfects gifts of:
Salvation from my sins, through the greatest gift of Grace, Jesus the Christ.
Having known true love and being loved unconditionally.
Freedom so wide and so deep that I feel indignation at the slightest inconvenience.
Friendship and fellowship of kindred souls.
Dogs who have shown me unconditional love, companionship and friendship.
Food of so many different kinds and varieties that I could spend eternity enjoying it all!
Drink, the good gifts of the fruit of the vine and grain, and fresh, raw goat milk!
Water, the elixir of life. I pray, Father, for the gift of Rain and Snow in this dry land.
Seasons of the year, that we may count our days.
Stars to light the night sky with Your splendor.
Wild animals who depend on You for their care and teach me to trust in You alone.
Books to read, learn from, grow with; to explore unknown lands, peoples and things.
Your Living Word.
Finally beginning to comprehend the Peace that passes all understanding.
Joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. I have learned it from watching Your animals at play.
Stillness, and quiet, to know that You are God.
The gift of listening to You.
Dreams and visions of the night.
Technology that allows learning, communication and fellowship across this earth.
Friends who understand what loosing a loved one, before their time, is like, regardless of specie.
My list continues….
What are you thankful for this day, and every day?
"Winter Spice"
16" x 20"
Oil on Canvas, signed and framed
$495.00, for purchase info:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Out of Time

How is it that a year has past but the pain has not?
I imagine you vibrant, intense, whole and full of the energy of life. It is the only way I can cope with your absence. My life ended with yours, and it is only now slowly returning to me under this veil of tears. I pray that yours continues on the Other Side of that Rainbow Bridge that I shall one day cross. Your face is the only thing I long to see on that day, bounding towards me with eyes clear and bright, full of the sun, full of the Son....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Beasts of the Earth Praise the LORD

These magnificent fellows are Oberhasli Buck Goats. They were disbudded to prevent horn growth when they were kids, so their magnificence is somewhat diminished, but their sexual energy, fueled by a fully functioning testosterone storehouse between their legs, fills the air with its pungent aroma if you are anywhere in their vicinity. They are gentle, though powerful and truly smelly beasts.
We took our beautiful, tall and slender young maiden doe, Claire, to visit Vito, the stocky fellow on the right, the other day. She was eager to go. Hormones surging, she needed little urging. He was eagerly waiting and hastily accommodating.

The sounds, smells, sights and seasons of the barnyard ground my soul in the Source Who Provides for each according to their kind. I am profoundly thankful for this simple miracle of creation that takes place each fall. Claire will bring forth kids in the springtime. She will provide her very own life force to nourish them. We will drink the excess, blessed by a humble goat who willingly gives us what God has given her. She worships and praises her Creator through her gift of service to mankind. " Praise the LORD...Beasts and all cattle...Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!" Psalm 148, 150.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

You See This Dog....

He came to live with us on January 19, when he was 11 weeks old. But I began loving him just a few weeks after his birth, before we'd ever met. We named him Zeke. I sent him a little toy, which I carried around with me inside my shirt for a day, to get it all properly scented and introduce him to his new mom's smell. To this day, it is the only toy out of a whole box full that he cares anything about. It goes with him everywhere.
It's the most amazing thing, to have a furry brown-eyed baby come into your life. They completely take over, and rightly so. They require complete attention to their needs. They are your child; you are their parent in every real sense. I willingly gave my life over to this little tyrant with the wet nose and soft, moist eyes that melted me with adoration one moment and insisted that his demands be met the next. His unique personality was evident early on: this is no "ordinary" dog. He is opinionated, judgmental, a considered thinker who moves easily from the spiritual to the temporal world. He listens to reason, most of the time. And delights us with his unpretentious joy in the most mundane. How could I have known how fitting a name we gave: "strength of God", Ezekiel is serious, profound, tenacious. He seldom takes any course of action without deep consideration. Many rely upon him for his just and equable judgment."
Happy Birthday, Little Man Zeke! God grant you many, many more!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hermione's Visit

The evening after the Great Horned Owl surprised me in the early dawn, I encountered her again. She was sitting on top of the garage after sunset, when I went to put the chickens up (to keep them safe from the nocturnal visits of the weasel). I turned around and it was like seeing Santa Claus on top of the house, she was so imposing and so there. I quickly gathered up my little dog and confronted her. She stared down at me with those impossibly yellow, round eyes and listened intently to every word I said, imploring her to eat all the bunnies she wanted, but leave Zeke alone. And then she casually flew away, into the night. The next morning, there she sat on the fence, completely unperturbed as I strode out noisily, milk bucket in hand. I came to a short stop when I saw her unmistakable sillouette on the fence in the early twilight, did an about turn back into the house and grabbed the digital camera. I got off one shot when the camera informed me the batteries were low and it would be shutting down. Damn! Not a good time. I put the camera back in the house and came out again, fully expecting her to be gone. But no, there she sat, not ten feet from the animal shelters and milking shed. I went about my chores, talking to her, watching her as she watched me, with equal intensity. Finally, I asked her, "what is your name?" Immediately I heard, in my head, what sounded like "Henri....Hermano"; I questioned her again.

"Hermione!" she exclaimed. And she turned her head to some distant unhearable fragment of sound, and floated off towards the setting moon on silent wings. She hasn't been back since.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Zeke the Apso

This is Zeke, my Lhasa Apso. He came to live with us and be my companion about ten months ago. Next month, on November 4, he will be one year old. I hope to paint his portrait by then, and I'll show it to you if I get it done. This is a preliminary sketch. He's quite the character; don't know if you can tell that by the sketch. I'll try and capture his sense of whimsy and depth of character in his portrait. That's the whole point of painting a portrait of someone. To capture their inner likeness as well as their outer appearance. Zeke loves to play and have fun, but he's also very serious and focused. He's also very communicative. I'm never at a loss to know when he desires something, or what his opinion is about anyone or thing. He's an excellent judge of character in both humans and beasts. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, either, but he loves children. I have come to trust his assessment of those we meet, and he's always spot on. His discernment of human spirit is a gift
that I understand many Apso's possess. They have been the companions of the Tibetan Monks for centuries and have needed this gift of discernment in order to protect the monks from harm. And they have suffered much harm since the Chinese invaded Tibet in the 50's, destroyed many of the Tibetan temples, killed many monks and their little dogs and continue their oppression to this day. This race of wonderful little beings has only been saved because of caring people in the West who have rescued and preserved this breed with the cooperation of the Monks. If you're interested in learning more, click on the FFT Lhasa Apso site on the sidebar. Theirs is a fascinating story with many heros.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Touched by Fall

The quality of the light certainly does change when the Autumnal Equinox signals the end of summer and the beginning of fall. I plot the change of seasons by the course of the sun as he rises behind my neighbors house during the summer months. As soon as the Equinox passes, he comes up bright and cheerful just to the right of their house, in full, blinding view every morning as I go out to milk. And in the evening, he sets much closer to that little gap you see there in the back side of the Sandia Mountains. That's the view from the front side of our home, towards the west. That gap changes even as you drive away from our house; it only looks like that from my personal perspective. Life is constant change, constant motion. The only thing truly dependable in the entire universe is God.
"I change not," He says. How comforting!

"Touched by Fall"
7" x 9"
Oil on Board
$75.00 Purchase

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ravens, Owls and Weasels

A weasel killed one of our little hens two nights ago. At least it was a clean kill; she died quickly. This morning, before first light, I headed out to the chicken coop to see if the humane trap we had set the night before had captured the culprit. Six steps from the backdoor, I just had time to register the sillouette of a Great Horned Owl not four feet in front of me before she floated into the dawn on silent wings. They are bigger in person than they are on TV! Fully awake now, heart beating a little faster, I discover that our predator has weaseled out of the trap.

In New Mexico Hispanic culture, owls are the omens of death. If she'd come the morning before, I'd have suspected she was there to announce the little hen's death. Now I wonder, are we in for it, again. Maybe it was just a post mortem.

Ravens, too, have a mortuarial vocation. Just doin' their job. I remember this fellow from last winter, gathering at the remains of some unfortunate, suicidal bunny on the road. I keep it all in perspective by remembering that I just eat mine off a plate. God provides for me, just as He does the raven, the owl and the weasel.

"Raven in Winter"
6" x 8" Oil on board
$75.00 Purchase

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mychal's Bone

I love dogs. I don't just mean that I love dogs the way you love chocolate, I mean I love dogs more than I love a lot of humans in my life. And I love a lot of humans, too. But I consider dogs to be persons, in that I believe they have personalities, that they are sentient beings, an alien race, another tribe. And in stating that, I am saying that I believe that dogs have eternal spirits and souls, just like I believe that humans do. Only, they have no original sin, like we do. When Christ died to reconcile the cosmos with God, that "world" that God so loved that He died for included animate life. Creatures, all of them, now reconciled to God. Christ made up to animals what man had done to them. I believe that when animals die, their spirits, that eternal part of them, goes back to God, who gave it. Meditating on the Word has convinced me of this.

I lost a very special love of mine last year. His name was Mychal Angelo. He died too soon, according to my plans, but right on time, according to God's economy. I miss him terribly. I'm going to paint a portrait of him, someday. Not quite right now, though.

"Mychal's Bone"

7" x 5"
Oil on board.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Local Color

We share the air space around our home with a pair of large Chihuahuan ravens. They mate for life and claim a territory in which to raise their young. We have grown quite fond of the pair that occupy the area in our neighborhood, as we have watched their antics over the years. (They once dropped a golf ball into our yard--who knows where it came from!) We think they raised two young this year. The fledglings hang around through the fall, then fly off in search of other young ravens to hang out with through the winter. It's fun to see the large groups of raucous juveniles, numbering in the dozens, hanging out together. If they survive until spring, they charge out on their own, seeking a mate and claiming their own territory. My husband caught this shot earlier this summer. While I was washing my brushes in the sink just now, I noticed a raven in the same area of the sky as the one in the photo I just painted, catchin' the wind, doing his wing overs. They enjoy the wind a lot more than I do!

Local Color
6" x 6"
$75 Postage Paid in the USA Purchase

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Indian Summer Hollihocks

Our first frost came a little early this year. It got the tomatoes, just like I suspected. But most of the hollihocks survived. This year I had bright pinks, like this one, pale pinks, whites and even a few blacks (which are really amazingly deep purple). They really struggled because we got so little rain. But they are always cheerful and optimistic, no matter the weather. They bloom where they're planted and smile no matter what comes their way. I know a wonderful, older lady, like that. Whenever you ask her how she is doing, she always answers, "Fantastic!" And she means it, too. I know the hardships she has endured in her life, but to meet her and greet her, you wouldn't have a clue! Optimism and faith in the face of uncertainty; God grant us, one and all.

Indian Summer Hollihocks
6" x 4"
$55 Postage Paid in the USA Purchase

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

First Eggs, Fresh Eggs

Have you ever had the incredible experience of gathering up a freshly laid egg, still warm from its recent habitation within the body of a young hen? Have you ever gently sauteed a freshly laid egg in butter, anticipating the delicious, orange yellow yolk as it runs through the tines in your fork? Have you ever tasted the sunny freshness of a new egg? I hope so. I give thanks to God and my young little hens for these, their first eggs. They are so proud of them! And I do, indeed, thank those little girls personally for each egg they so generously give us. Such gentle, loving creatures. Such incredible nutrition, packaged so expertly!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Season's Last Brandywines

I've been struggling to grow tomatoes here in this high and dry desert climate for several years. Brandywines are the one and only variety recommended for our area by the local native plant nursery. After trying and failing with all the Early Girls and other commercial nursery varieties, I finally tried them this year. Had to grow them from seed. They're very round, truly red and made great salsa. Finally got lucky! Here's the last ripe pair from the garden. First frost will come any day. Finally got around to painting them, too. They were delish!
5" x 7"
$75.00 postage paid in the USA. Purchase

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Manzano means Apple in Spanish

I have lived in, and I now live within the shadow of the Manzano Mountains in Central New Mexico. There is an ancient apple orchard up there, in the village of Manzano, that is said to date to the 1500's, planted by the Spaniards or, more likely, the Franciscan friars that followed and "converted" the natives living there to their faith. The ruins of the Mission of Quarai in the nearby town of Punta de Aqua is as magnificent and imposing a cathedral as exists in any European city, and just as old. If you ever come to New Mexico, you must see it.
I grew up in the midst of an ancient apple orchard in the village of Corrales. The trees were very old when I was a child there, in the 60's, and welcomed me with open, nurturing branches to climb them, which I did often and with great skill. They are mostly all gone, now.
We have a small Gala apple tree in our backyard. Most years, the blooms are frozen off in the wicked weather we call spring. But this year, they made it through the gauntlet of freezes and produced an abundance of apples. We're still suffering from a major drought, so there wasn't much native food for the birds to eat. What the worms didn't eat, they did. And welcome to it! There was enough to share. I couldn't find a single apple that didn't have at least one worm hole in it to paint, then I decided, hey, what the heck,
"Nobody's Perfect!"
5" x 7" unframed. Available for $75.00 postage paid in the USA, as soon as it's dry. Purchase

Monday, October 1, 2007

Art Quilts Coming 'Round Again

Several years ago I made a difficult decision to put aside fiber art and begin a new adventure in art. I completed divested myself of my hand dyed fabric business and life as a nationally recognized art quilter, and remodeled my dye studio into a painting studio. For three years, I took private lessons with a very gifted local teacher. His name is Chuck Dunbar, and he taught me what I wanted to know: how to construct a painting in the way of the old masters. I've been painting in oils ever since, learning my craft.
This year, however, the fiber art has come back around again. I haven't made any new art quilts; don't even have my sewing machine out and my small studio seems to have shrunk even more. Barely have room for a still life set up, easel and table for my paints. But my work in fiber has gotten some long overdue recognition.
I was asked by the board of directors of the Albuquerque Fiber Arts Fiesta to be their featured artist this year. In May, I exhibited more than a dozen of my art quilts at the Fiesta and received some wonderful write-ups and publicity, and many kudos from the art quilt community and friends I hadn't seen in a while.
As a result of that show, some of the ladies from my church asked me if I'd do a presentation for them. This past Saturday at a tea hosted by our church for a sister church in a nearby town, I was able to show even more of my quilts that haven't been seen in a while, and give a heart-felt talk to the women present. I used as my starting off point the first post on this blog, "How Can I Sing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land."
And today I received in the mail several copies of the upcoming issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (Nov 2007). On page 34 is featured some of the quilts of the recently ended national tour that began in 2001! called "Potluck", including my piece, "Cole Slaw."
Here's a photo of it. It was nice to see it, and touch it again. I had hurried to meet the deadline back in '01 and send it on it's way to the opening of the tour in Boulder, CO. It reminds me exactly of why I wanted to paint in oils! All those tiny little bits of fabric, cut out just so, glued down and then quilted! Now I do the same thing with a flick of a paint-filled brush!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land

Singing the Lord's Song in a Strange Land
"By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung our harps.
For there our captors demanded of us songs,
And our tormentors mirth, saying,
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"
Psalm 137:1-4

For years now, as an artist, I have been asking that question of God, and of myself. The answer is being revealed to me, through the Word, through prayer, and through the wisdom of those who have asked it before.
God is, of course, the Creator of Art. He created out of nothing. He spoke, and things that were not, came into existence. And they were good and beautiful. He created Man, His image-bearer, and gave to him the ability to create also. He gave us the intellect, the materials and the desire to create beautiful things. He gave us a mandate to create beautiful things for Him. And used rightly, we create those beautiful things to glorify and honor Him. I believe, and I think that scripture backs me up on this, that He called certain of us to be artists by vocation. I wrestled with my calling for years, not understanding that the misunderstanding and outright rejection I was experiencing on all sides (family, church, culture, and especially the arts community) was a direct result of my attempt to "sing the Lord's song in a strange land”.
I began searching for answers. I read a lot, so I looked for fellow sojourners in the printed word. The late reformed theologian and cultural critic (some now say cultural prophet) Francis Schaeffer's wonderful little book "Art and the Bible" started me off in the right direction. God ordained art for glory and for beauty and called certain ones to be artists. Therefore, art is good. Period. No argument. If you need further confirmation, read Schaeffer, or take a tour through the book of Exodus and read the detailed descriptions God gave to Moses for the building of the temple and all the furniture and furnishings He ordained for His worship. Exodus 28:2,3 says that they were to be made "for glory nd for beauty". And that "skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom" were to make them. Those persons were called by name in Exodus 31:1-6: "See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri , the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. (Hur was supposedly Miriam's husband, so Bezalel would have been Moses' great-great nephew.) And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you....."
If I understand this enlightening passage correctly, Bezalel had been given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, along with wisdom, understanding, knowledge of his crafts. So had others of the Israelis been gifted, and by implication and extension, all in whose hearts God has put skill and desire, for any art, craft, profession or vocation. Bezalel didn't just wake up one morning as an adult with the great desire to be an artist, with all the necessary skills suddenly at his disposal. I am sure that this man pursued his vocation from childhood. He was trained as a craftsman and pursued the desire of his heart in creating beautiful things, both useful and decorative. When God called him by name to make the Art that was the Temple, he was by then fully capable of performing the task and further endowed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide him. This was all the convincing I needed to lay my burden down and take up my cross with joy and thanks-giving. Regardless of the state of the world, who will always reject Him (and me, if I am following rightly) and the ignorance and insensitivity of the Church, God Himself has given me His blessing to do that which I am impelled to do: Create Art! And that I do it with the heart of bringing Him Glory and to show His Beauty surely makes Him smile.