[First published December 2015]

It’s almost Christmas, but it won’t be a white one here in Virginia this year.  No drifts of snowflakes predicted (rain, in fact, is on the radar screen).  But I like to think about the miraculous individuality of snowflakes, no two alike.  It’s an easy step in my mind then, to go from their uniqueness to the unique vision of each artist, of each human, as we create.

I saw this individual vision play itself out clearly last week, as I painted with friends.  Six of us all painted the same still life, a white bowl of richly crimson berries, a pomegranate, a few other details – but the berries were the main point.  At the end of the day, we hung them all together.

The contrast!

The difference!

Were we all looking at the same objects?

Superfruits, acrylic on paper

Superfruits, acrylic on paper

Yes, you can see: see the berries, the bowl, the pomegranate; the theme recurs.  But the eyes of each of us see with our own sight.  We make choices – format, type of line, colors, brush shape – that inform our work.  Working out of our own world view, our individual life experiences, brings an authenticity to each piece.  We reveled in the variety we created, triumphant. Each as unique as a snowflake.


[First published August 2016]

Never give me a houseplant.  I love them, but—I always kill them.  I don’t try to kill them, it just happens.  And my yard isn’t much better*.  Which is strange, as I am the granddaughter of a renowned horticulturalist. 

Springtime blooms delight the senses–can you smell the peonies?

Springtime blooms delight the senses–can you smell the peonies?

I didn’t know Granddaddy well, he died when I was small and my memories are hazy.  But as I’ve cleaned out my parents’ belongings in the past year, I’ve gotten to know this man, Roy Edgar Marshall, a bit more.  His story amazes me—setting off for college from the family farm in Nebraska with nothing but $5 and an extra pair of jeans, he earned a PhD, became a highly respected professor at Michigan State University and garnered awards and citations galore.

Clearly, his thumb was green—probably all ten fingers were Windsor Green!  So what happened to the genetics?  How come I can’t even keep an African violet alive?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to look at plants and beautiful gardens.  They fascinate me.  I watch my neighbors’ gardens grow and blossom all around me.  Thousands of shades of green; red and fuchsia so intense I can almost taste it; the play of light in and through petals and leaves: looking at a garden is a visceral experience for me.

Out of this fascination and delight have come the series of floral paintings that began this spring with “Quintet”.  Indeed, these pieces seem to actually grow out of my brush, overtaking my abstract compositions with their organic shapes.

So perhaps this area is where my grandfather’s legacy appears in me – in my paintings.  My gardening equipment includes brushes, palette knives, paint.  I plant my gardens on paper.  And they are growing very well indeed.


*actually, this summer, my tomato plants are actually producing, and I do have some pots of very prolific flowers.  On the other hand, this summer, my daughter Stephanie is helping me with my plants.