Saturday, December 29, 2007


This summer I sketched a female face - more of a doodle - while hubby and I were on a 2 hour car trip. He glanced over and told me the eyes were too close together. Not being mean, just an accurate observation. I started erasing and he began to protest. But I assured him that I welcomed the critique. I wanted to improve. He helped me a lot that day.

Since then, I've been sketching faces when I can and studying how to draw & paint them from some books I picked up.

When this new study started, I remembered drawing females using a sewing pattern catalog for inspiration when I was a teen. I didn't think I was very good at it (or other drawing), so I left drawing behind and satisfied my artistic pursuits in other ways.

You don't really have to draw to be a painter. I did decorative painting based on other peoples' patterns. When I took up watercolor, I did most of my works based on tracings of my photographs. Eventually, I began to work from my own drawings. After taking some painting classes this year, I decided to work more on drawing. I never expected to be so drawn to drawing faces, but that's where I am now.

I sketched this from my imagination the other night while waiting for hubby to take care of some business at the office. It's not perfect, but I thought I would share it with my readers.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Away in a Manger

"Away In A Manger" was one of the first Christmas carols I learned as a young child. Little was I to know how significant it would become to me.
This story starts in August 2003. Dad had been declining steadily due to the ravages of Alzheimer's Disease. He still lived on the family farm with Mom and one of my brothers. Our family prayed to know when the time was right for him to live in the nursing home and that time had come. It was clear. Still, it broke my heart the day Mom and I took him to live at "The Manor".

That night, I never slept. I prayed, I read, I lay in the bed hoping for sleep. I was so worried that Dad would be frightened and think we had abandoned him. I wanted God to comfort Dad so he would not feel alone. Late in the night, I had run out of words to pray. As I lay there, the words of the 3rd verse of "Away in a Manger" came to my mind, so I prayed them for Dad:

"Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay,
Close by me forever and watch me I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there."

The night wore on until there was light in the eastern sky. I got out of bed and went outdoors where I photographed the new day.

A couple weeks later, we took Dad out for a picnic. After eating, I took him over to the playground equipment to be near his grandkids. Dad loved music and one of the blessings of his illness was he would break out in singing or humming very often. His favorite was "How Great Thou Art." I noticed he was humming as we went to the swings, but it wasn't his usual tune. Suddenly it dawned on me that he was humming "Away in a Manger". Oh, my! My heart rejoiced and was glad - my prayer had not only been heard, but God was confirming it to me for which I will always be grateful.

Dad went Home in late November 2006. I miss him so much, but I will always be grateful for all the blessings he brought into our lives.
(The art I posted is a scan of a linoleum block print I made a few years ago. I was inspired while hubby & I were touring a millenium-old church in Hildesheim, Germany with our dear friend, Jutta.)

Christmas Visitors

We made our annual trip to Eastern Iowa where we celebrated Christmas with some of my husband's family on the acreage where he grew up. The birds who come to the feeder are always entertaining, but we had a special treat this year. A group of wild turkeys came for Christmas dinner.

Several Mourning Doves were perched in a nearby tree.

These are some of the shots I took through the deck window since I didn't want to frighten the birds away. I wish I could have captured the beauty of the turkeys' plummage.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Blessings

Here's a little digital altered art I used for Christmas cards last year. I let the days get away this year and haven't even composed a Christmas letter.

This image started as a close-up of a Taro leaf. I played with Photoshop Elements to come up with this design which reminds me of a Christmas tree.

During this season it is good to contemplate what a wondrous gift God gave us sending Jesus to walk among us and give His life so that we can all share in His life forever.

Peace - Joy - Love

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glenwood Canyon Colorado and I-70

Hubby left for Glenwood Springs, Colorado today for another biz trip. It's hard to believe we were there just 2 weeks ago... and I was reminded that I have more pics to post.

I loved the colors and stratification of the different stones and soils we saw on our trip. Even though most of the vegetation was dormant, I appreciated its forms and colors. They are different from what I see daily in the midwest.

I decided to show you one of the shots I took along I-70 while we were still in eastern Utah. The sun reflecting off the distant peaks was stunning. There were red rock formations that literally glowed. I doubt I could have captured that even if I wasn't taking the shot thru the truck window going 80 mph!

We stayed at the Rodeway Inn in Glenwood Springs. On the right side of that shot, you can see a small shelter. That's where we enjoyed the outdoor hottub the night we stayed. It was so steamy that we almost couldn't see across the canyon where a lighted cross was on the top of the mountain. Christmas lights decorated the aspen tree by the shelter. It was beautiful and very refreshing.

Glenwood Springs is a very interesting town that I would love to return to. Amtrak has a stop there, but I think my next trip there will be by car.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fairy Dust

Oh! How beautiful to look out the window and see the sky literally sparkling! It looked like fairy dust was falling, and suddenly, it was gone. Good thing I grabbed my camera before it was too late. This was taken last January from a condo at Sol Vista Resort near Granby, Colorado.
FYI - only editting to this photo was adding the text.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Scenic Travel through Utah on US 6

We arrived in Salt Lake City and got off Amtrak near 2 a.m. After a short taxi ride to an unfriendly motel, we got a few hours of much needed sleep having spent nearly 27 hours on the train. Hubby took possession of a 1 ton Dodge truck that he would drive home to Iowa via Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The drive was beautiful with the vistas changing at every turn.

I'll let these pictures of part of our Utah route do the talking. Be sure to click on the pictures if you want a closer view.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Colorado from Amtrak's California Zephyr

We traveled from Osceola, Iowa to Salt Lake City via Amtrak's California Zephyr early last week. Here are a few shots I took from the lounge car. There are some reflections on 2 of the pictures, but I really like the scenery. I hope to use some of my images for future paintings.

It's beautiful country and I would recommend the trip - even with the bumpy stretches that left my body aching.

Coming next - driving thru Utah.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Travel - A time to refresh, renew & be inspired.

Hubby & I will travel by Amtrack from Iowa to Salt Lake City to pick up a vehicle for his job, so technically it's a business trip. But I know this will be a great time for us. We love traveling together, being on the road away from everything in our everyday lives, time to talk, time to spend in companionable silence as we take in our surroundings.

What's difficult for me is I MUST have something to keep my hands busy, and I have a hard time limiting myself when I pack. But the reality of having arthritis is I can't overload myself. I'll be loading a backpack with a sketchbook, drawing supplies & watercolor pencils. I'm also taking some knitting along. Last, I need to select a book in addition to my Bible.

Last year we flew to Phoenix and drove a vehicle back to Iowa. The first picture is from that road trip somewhere north of Phoenix.

The second shot is from a trip I was on to Colorado with family last January. We stayed north of Winter Park. I took this shot from the condo. Our travels will take us very near this spot on Monday. I'll post from the road if I can. TTFN

The Business of Art

I came home exhausted tonight close to 9 pm. After a cat nap I've been back at the business of art which is how I spent much of my day.
After labeling and writing an inventory list, I delivered painted totes, fantasy beaded icicles, and more jewelry (one item pictured above) to Swinging Bridge Studio in Story City. They worked on making a really nice display while I was still there. Sorry, no photo! If the weatherman is REALLY wrong, I will go back tomorrow and take pictures. We are supposed to get really nasty winter weather tomorrow.

After my regular pool exercise session, it was time to teach beginning knitting at Prairie Fibers Company. I was really excited about this opportunity. Many years ago I managed a needlework shop where I taught many skills. Knitting was among my favorites. To oversimplify - you are taking 2 sticks and string to make fabric. Wow! 3 years ago I introduced some of my nieces to knitting. I loved seeing them "get" it. So I was looking forward to helping my students get the same satisfaction. My students are a mother and her young daughter, both determined and both left being able to knit. I'm proud of both of them and looking forward to getting together for our next lesson.

I have 2 new listings on Etsy tonight. I hope you will check them out.