The birds are still singing

imageAs another part of my mother’s 80th birthday gift I collected some of her poems that she’s been writing over the past few years and made a book (using Shutterfly) of them. I used mainly photos to illustrate the poems, but I painted a couple of pictures especially for the book. This was one of them.

Her poem is about the strangeness and loneliness of being on your own after the loss of your spouse (my dad died in 2010), but has a hopeful refrain–‘but hey, the birds are still singing’. As I was musing over what to paint for this poem, I looked outside and saw this lovely bright yellow finch enjoying himself on our echinachea flowers. I quickly snapped several photos of him and then used several shots to compose this illustration. I love the brightness and hope of this idea.

Forest Mansion


We have just returned from a camping and kayaking vacation in the North East. I wrote this a few days ago, but had no opportunity to post it.

–We are camping in New Hampshire, in the depths of a magnificent forest. These campsites seem to me like God’s mansions in a fantastic natural setting. I brought watercolor on this trip instead of oils and this was a 30 minute study from our campsite picnic table this morning.

The trees are extremely tall, straight pines, with the lower branches being oak and beech. The pine scent all around is delicious!


Plein Air by the Stream


This time I sat by the stream at the apartment complex. The stream was pretty full following a big storm the night before. Several small children were enjoying playing in it. Some of them would creep up quietly behind me to see what I was doing and then say shyly, “I like your painting”. One little girl watched me with her eyes shining, obviously wishing she could be painting too.

Cottage experiment


This was another lesson from a library book, painted on Arches Oil Paper. I thought I’d try the same picture on canvas board to examine the differences.



The contrast is not quite as high here, and the overall effect is a little looser. The paint can move about more on  canvas than on paper, so earlier layers are more easily disturbed on canvas. I’m still deciding which one I like better.





This spring a friend told me about the beautiful flowers at a local winery, so I stopped there one Saturday morning to see them. This is from one of the photographs I took there.

Apple in Water


I’ve tried the apple one more time, this time in watercolor. I like the clarity and luminosity of the watercolor, but it lacks the depth and solidity of the oil. I don’t know which I prefer! It’s fun to try the same painting in both media. I think one helps the other.



We have worked harder than ever this spring to protect our apples from the squirrels, who usually eat every single one. I was so happy that we have some apples developing that I took pictures of them and painted this in oils. These apples remind me of  decorations on a Christmas tree!

It wasn’t as bright or luminous as I wanted, so I decided to experiment and paint it again with using lemon yellow instead of cadmium yellow pale hue.