Now What?

I’ve written a weekly BLOG for a year. New Year’s Resolution 2015. Check.

Writing adds a dimension to my practice as an artist that I would not have anticipated and I feel like I have more to say. So I am not stopping here. I’ll keep BLOGGING.  

What are my hopes for 2016?  To apply the lessons I learned in 2015.

Here are a few.

Love open-heartedly.

Teach less…quality not quantity.

Spark and be sparked.

Paint more…follow through.

Slow down…savor each moment. 

Mind the gaps.

Be here.

Get outside.

Vulnerability grows strength.

Remember gentleness.


Until next time…“Let yourself be drawn by the strange pull of what you truly love.” -Rumi

CREATE in 2016! 

Thanks for reading my BLOG. Please visit my website for more posts and to see my work. Comments are always welcome via my website or

Ritual: Full Circle

My first BLOG from a year ago today. 

At the start of a new year, I always feel a primordial drive to make fresh start. Activate a good habit. This year I am starting a weekly BLOG:

Meanderings on Process and Creativity.

The blog will be an opportunity to reflect and perhaps deepen my connection with my own perspective on process as well as hopefully sparking some inspiration. This is my offering.

In this first week of 2015, I am thinking about RITUAL. Rituals are structures that house our inspirations and aspirations. Just coming out of a season of rituals, I am contemplating the personal rituals that we develop over time that help us maintain our artistic practice. Returning to a potent ritual again and again helps us create healthy habits.  Nurturing and sustaining these habits will bring about more fluid process in 2015 and protect us from squandering our precious time.

How do we elevate repetitive everyday acts and recognize them as valid aspects of our process as artists? Everyone has one, something you do to spark momentum. At this time of year it might be useful to appreciate the structures we put in place to facilitate our creative direction. Consider them the architecture or the structure within which the chaos of creativity can run wild. 

Notice the organic rituals that already exist in your practice. Habitual patterns of expressing ourselves create our reality. Hard-wired patterns or habits can help us or hurt us. Spend some time and look at your process and what makes it buoyant.  Do you need to adapt and freshen your practice?

A ritual can be as simple as mindfully sharpening a pencil before standing in front of your easel to draw. Smell the fresh pencil shavings, feel the angle of the knife on the wood, see the long graphite tip, organic and faceted…ready to make its first mark. This is my first mark, my first blog of 2015. What will yours be?

Until next week…stay sharp and make your mark. CREATE. 


Sparkle Plenty.

I don’t mind the darkness. 

In the face of the lack of something, humans seem to instinctively make an effort.

Light. My Nordic ancestors celebrated Saint Lucia in a festival at this time of year. Girls dress in white dresses with a red sash and a crown of candles… Latin “lucere” to shine. 

Although we don’t have processions in white dresses here in Pawtucket, I love the holiday lights. People in our neighborhood make an effort to decorate their houses. It creates upliftedness, a sparkle. It reminds me that in this world fraught with darkness on so many levels, there is a basic human need to shine.

Until next time, in these shortest of days, see if you can offer a little light and make someone’s life a little brighter. That might inspire others to do the same. CREATE.

Thanks for reading my BLOG. Please visit my website for more posts and to see my work. Comments are always welcome via the website or


BLOGS 2015: A Year in Review

One year ago today, I set out to write a BLOG called “Meanderings on Process and Creativity”. It was my New Year’s Resolution. My hope was that I would be able to write a BLOG every week in 2015. I thought writing could be a ritual that might help me deepen my connection to my creativity and my connection to others. 

Well, I did it! I wrote all year. What I learned was that I really enjoy writing. Most of my posts have to do with creativity, but mostly, I found myself writing about my experience being human. This BLOG has given me space to think about my relationship to things like imperfection, process, fear, confidence, beauty and temporality to name a few. 

So thank you for reading or even subscribing! If you are stumbling upon my BLOG for the first time, here is a list of the postings from 2015. Go onto my website and scroll down to read my posts from this year. Happy New Year!

BLOGS of 2015:


Mind the Gap


No Erasers

Upcoming Show







Come to Your Senses

The Color of Shadows


Secrets and Dogs

Creative Habit

Inness at Sunrise

Captain Oh My Captain

My Artist’s Talk This Thursday


Process as Teacher


Art Crush

Carcharodon Carcharias


Building Bridges


My Dad’s Jacaranda


Fits of Passion


Failure and Gentleness


Blue Moon


Trust It Will Arise

Let the Wild Rumpus Start!

Gavia Immer







Omniscient Embryonic Art Guru


26 Movies Later


Winter Blossoms

2015: A Year in Review

Ritual: Full Circle

Now What?


We spent this Thanksgiving out on Martha’s Vineyard where my mother-in-law lives. I love the island off-season. Every time I get on the ferry in Woods Hole and we pull away from the mainland, I can feel my shoulders drop about an inch. It is a great escape, a much-needed antidote for the speed and stress of our hectic lives at home.

Perhaps this was true even more so this year. I was getting ready to make my movies for and nearing the end of a really intense teaching semester. It was no wonder that my body decided to retaliate. Without getting into too much detail…my ears turned red and swelled, a rash crept over me and then my face ballooned. Not a great look, especially when you are meant to be on camera in 10 days. Stress makes you sick.

So off to the island we went for some R&R in hopes that I could exorcise this mysterious illness. Slowly it subsided. I made myself stay in bed and rest between baking pies and hiking the late autumn beach. So much to be thankful for. On Thanksgiving afternoon, my daughter Celeste came into the bedroom where I was sketching. 

She said, “Mom, can you draw me while the potatoes are cooking?” So I did a little sketch of her. She is an excellent model. I haven’t really drawn her much although I used to try when she was sleeping as a baby. Somehow it has always felt heart wrenching to separate and try and observe her with objectivity. She is my only true masterpiece. 

Later that night, I saw that she had posted my drawing on her Instagram account. The caption read, “I’m thankful for my artistic mom.” Drawing her was a gift. Until next time, draw someone you love. You will never forget the curve of their nose or the curl of their hair. CREATE.

Thanks for reading and check out my website to see my artwork and for more BLOG posts. Comments welcome via website or at

26 Movies Later

This weekend was the weekend I was supposed to recover from shooting 26 movies for my new on-line course “Foundations of Figure Drawing” for Yet, I keep waking up in the middle of the night or just before sunrise, riding on the adrenaline I generated creating this project…replaying each scene, each drawing. As much as I am happy to hand it off now to be edited and crafted by my insanely talented crew, I can’t believe that it’s over.

I learned so much from this experience about writing, teaching, movie making and collaboration. What it also revealed was my vulnerability and my power, my fear and my bravery. What I am feeling right now is a growing expansiveness vs. the intense focus I needed to get ready for this epic project. Panning out, I see myself more clearly and I am realizing that connecting directly with my vulnerability and fear around this project helped me grow my power and bravery.

The idea that these movies are “evergreen”, a baseline, which never gets old, made me really want to get it right. Well, I always want to get it right. There will be a global audience. Even though I have studied and taught figure drawing for decades, doing it in front of 3 cameras, under the lights, with a prompter was a whole different ballgame. My preparation for this was so intense. Over a year ago, I prepared a lesson for my screen test, using a master drawing to teach the basic concepts which build a figure drawing. They flew me out to LA and we taped it in their studio.

They liked what they saw so they asked me to develop this "Foundations of Figure Drawing" course. I spent nearly a year writing 30 pages of scripts and planning the images for the class. This was a terrific process. I had never written down my lectures before. They had always just been delivered to my students and then floated out into the ether only to be repeated the following semester. It was not only a chance to write them down but it was also a chance to refine them with my producer and ask: “What is the learning point here and how can we make this very simple and clear?” This allowed me to reinvigorate my teaching. With so much writing done I am thinking about a book.

Blurr forward through one of the busiest teaching summers and falls ever…and suddenly my team from says that they have gotten approval to come shoot the movies here, in my Pawtucket studio. As much as I secretly mourned a trip to sunny California, I quickly realized what an awesome opportunity it would be to have it shot in my historic mill studio with my favorite model and all of my paintings and drawings on display. You just can’t recreate that on a movie set.

So one week ago, a visionary producer, video director/photographer and talented cameraman show up at my studio. Did I mention they were all fabulously handsome and talented surfer/rock climber/foodies?  Excellent work environment. In come the cameras, tripods, lights, prompter, sound equipment. Adorning the walls were dozens of preliminary drawings I’d done with our model to ensure the flow of the course. This was invaluable because there was so much to cover in 5 days. Each morning they came to the studio with a fancy coffee for me at 8:30am and we would shoot until 6pm. Intense days filled with script editing, retakes, image decisions and lighting shifts gave me a terrific chance to wrestle with my waves of fear and bravery.

Somehow due to my team’s professionalism and my preparation each day we captured movie after movie. This was not their first rodeo. We never settled on good if it could be great. So there were some retakes and sometimes by day’s end I’d be so tired that I’d stumble over my words…but we did it! Collaborating with these guys was amazing. Their positive response to my studio, my artwork and my teaching was really what made it possible. Confidence. They were my coaches and my cheerleaders, high-5s and all. I also got to watch the surf-cam at Rincon with them during my breaks, which was sweet. 

So it takes people who believe in you to make things happen. Creative, collaborative energy can elevate an idea to a vision. So watch for these movies, which release January 21st, 2016 on Take my course wherever you are. Until next time...How cool is that? CREATE.

Thanks for reading and check out my website to see my work and for more BLOG posts. Comments welcome via my website or at

PS If you know what I am referencing  in the title of this BLOG let me know. If not and you are curious, please ask :-)


On the wall above my crib when I was a baby, my parents hung a beautiful reproduction of a pastel still life with flowers by the French Symbolist Odilon Redon. Perhaps this is why I have always loved his work, some sort of residual memory from when my eyes were forming their ability to perceive beyond high contrast simple shapes. I remember years ago, how magical it was to walk into a darkened gallery at the Musee Dorsay in Paris and peek under velvet shrouds at his opalescent drawings protected from the light that could fade them forever.  

Another piece that hung in my childhood house was a Picasso. It was in the bathroom. It was an absolute enigma to me. A puzzle. Every time I would go into the bathroom, for years, I would stare at that drawing. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was. I was too embarrassed to ask my parents. It was a simple line drawing, just four lines. It got to the point where upon entering the bathroom I would force myself not to look at it at first. Then I would turn and confront it quickly, hoping to catch this mystery off guard and expose its secret once and for all. No. These four lines were indecipherable.

Until that day when I just walked in the bathroom and saw it. It was a woman’s bottom! Wow! I remember thinking, why would anyone want to draw a woman’s bottom? No wonder I didn’t see it…I would have never expected a woman’s bottom to be hanging in our bathroom! I was so relieved…the enigma unveiled. Ever since then, it is as if that drawing and I have a secret nod whenever we see each other.

Until next time, let mysteries unfold in their own time. Don’t be too quick to solve them. Keep your child-like curiosity alive. CREATE.

Thanks for reading my BLOG. Please visit my website for more posts and to see my work. Comments are always welcome via the website or

Omniscient Embryonic Art Guru

                                                                                         Celeste's First Life Drawing. Age 12.

                                                                                         Celeste's First Life Drawing. Age 12.

Balancing a career as an artist, teacher and a mom is a constant challenge. When I was pregnant with my daughter almost 13 years ago, I embarked on 2 large-scale oil paintings, about 6’ x 9’. They were bigger than anything I’d ever done and involved an allegorical use of sharks and boats and nude women…anyway…they were big and bold and completely imagined. I vaguely remember a dream about sharks that might have been the starting point. Because I was pregnant, I put away my solvents and mediums and just painted with palette knives. I wore a respirator to filter the fumes which usually made me dizzy because I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. But I was hot on these paintings. So I persevered. 

There were days in the studio when I would just sit back with my big pregnant belly and not know what to do next. Then I started to ask her. I knew it was a girl because I just had to know. I started to ask her what to do. It wasn’t anything verbal…I’d just silently pose the question to her…what now? I’d wait, as if I had some omniscient embryonic art guru inside me, for an answer. She was always right. She would say…”you need to balance that red with another swatch on the left side…or that shape is too static”…She helped me through these paintings, paintings that no one will probably ever see. 

Some say that babies are all-knowing in the womb. That they have full knowledge of all that is, was and ever will be. I sort of believe this. The birthing process apparently erodes some of this but you can see it in babies. If you really look, you can witness their pure view of the world. It is magic. By the time they are speaking, much of this has fallen away. I wish I could remember being in the womb. Being a newborn. How far have I come from that pure view? As adults some of us spend the rest of our lives trying to return to that sort of clarity. 

When my daughter was born, there were about 6 months when I didn’t set foot in the studio. I told my husband that I should just get rid of the studio. That it was just a waste of money. I felt I’d never be able to be an artist again now that I’m a mom. He insisted I keep it. I was so exhausted. Overwhelmed. How would I ever regain my momentum, my practice? My. My. My. Really? I so wanted to hang on to “me” but now we were “we”. 

Enter Celeste. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. Probably the only feasible collaboration my sculptor husband and I could ever do based on the style of our work. Wow. She just rocked my world in so many ways. Her early drawings had the universe inside them. Uninhibited and visceral, they taught me how far I had come from that pure creative impulse. Drop the intellect. Drop the training. Who am I in the face of this???

So in the midst of bringing up baby I finally got back to the studio…she would come with me sometimes but mostly I tried to carve out time for myself. My studio was my oasis and time was so precious. There was a sort of compartmentalization of “mom” and “artist”. I was scared that she would take me over and I wouldn’t be able to maintain the stamina I needed to be an artist. I would leave the house to spend a few hours in the studio with her crying at the door. By the time I got there I’d be so guilt-ridden that I often couldn’t connect with my practice. Was I functioning under the feminist banner that I could do it all…mom, teacher and artist? So it was. There were times when I just wished I could be a stay-at-home mom. 

Celeste started to go the school and like many new moms I had bigger windows of time to spend with my career. Sure there were time constraints but the studio time was a little more predictable…but always precious. I always felt a little bit guilty for creating boundaries around my studio practice. Why couldn’t I just manage to paint while my toddler played at my feet? An idyllic potential…but I just couldn’t.

That is why today was so monumental. Celeste is now 12. We have been talking about going figure drawing together for a long time now. This morning, we packed up our drawings supplies and went to an old mill building in Pawtucket where a Saturday drawing morning group meets. The model, Jennifer, was someone even Michelangelo would swoon over. And we drew. Celeste drew from the nude model for the first time. She wanted to draw with the sort of sanguine pencil I drew with. I let her do her thing. And wow did she do her thing. Her drawings had more gesture, drama and accuracy than many of my college students.

When we were leaving the drawing session I told Celeste how fun it was to draw with her and how impressed I was with her drawings. She said, “I guess I have a bit of you in me.” Speechless. All of this is worth it. 

Until next time…bring it on. Follow through on your promises and honor your children. CREATE. 

Thanks for reading my BLOG. Please visit my website for more posts and to see my work. Comments are always welcome via the website or


I like to walk in graveyards. I always have. My pup Captain and I often walk in a beautiful one in Pawtucket. It isn’t fancy with lots of rules like Swan Point in Providence. This one allows dogs and there is a looping path that brings you past the Seekonk River. The views are panoramic from here.

From the high hill on the eastern shore of the river we have seen Blue Heron, Hawks, Eagles and dozens of Swans. We even spotted a coyote running along the shore once. I love it here. In the spring the azaleas cascade down the hill leading to the river in shades of salmon and opera rose. There are even a few plots where Captain has the urge to run in circles at top speed for no apparent reason. Energy spots. 

Depending on the loop we walk, we sometimes come upon this particular gravestone. “PAINTER”. It always takes me off guard…a reminder of my mortality. No time like the present to get to the studio. Until next time, don’t take anything for granted. CREATE.

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This year’s foliage is epic. Some say the sunny clear days and the cold evenings make the colors brighter. For me it is almost overwhelming. To see the brilliant orange leaves against the pure blue October sky takes my breath away. Trying to photograph it is useless. Lately I’ve just been trying to witness it. Take it in. Color therapy.

Last week I took some students out to draw trees. It was a breezy sunny day in Worcester. There were some beautiful old oaks and maples around the campus green so we stopped there. As my students started to choose their view and take out their supplies, I realized we had to stop. Drop the agenda and pay reverence to these ancient beauties. 

I asked everyone to lie down looking up with their heads at the base of these trees. Do nothing. Observe. Silence. I felt the earth receive the weight of my body. When was the last time I lay on the ground? Forever ago I think. And then the wind came. First the leaves shimmered as a gentle breeze started to move them. Then the wind built and the tree was suddenly caught up in a dance. The outer limbs swayed rhythmically as the gusts blew through them. The exterior leaves racked with a tumultuous invisible force. Gazing up the dark trunk it felt like it was growing up out of my head and diminishing into veins dispersing into gold and green. I realized the interior leaves where barely moving. I felt suddenly sheltered. 

We all lay there. Witnessing this dance. Beyond words, just seeing. After some time it was time to draw. You could feel it. The drawings were imbued with tree knowledge. Next time you set out to draw, stop and look from a different perspective. Look until you see. You will know when it is time to… CREATE.

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I saw this beautiful Cy Twombly painting yesterday at the RISD Museum. It is Untitled, 1968. Twombly had a fascination with calligraphic drawing. He had worked as a cryptologist in the US Army. I can feel how sound and the act of transposing all of that information for the Army filtered into this work. 

In the late 1960s Twombly made a series of paintings he called his “blackboard” paintings, oil and crayon on canvas. The sweeping marks of the crayon on the grey oil paint seem like elemental marks drawn with his body. The scale of this action meant that inevitably, aspects of the marks were being simultaneously erased as he reached to make more. Sort of like the history he recorded as a cryptologist fading into memory.

The organic scribbles over the surface of this painting are remnants of his rhythmic performance. The erosion of the image is as poignant as the creation of it. It is messy. Just like life. 

Until next time, notice the sound of your own mark making. Make marks like you mean it. CREATE. 

Comments are always welcome via email: or on my website where you can scroll down to over 30 previous BLOG posts. You can also subscribe to receive my BLOG weekly via the website. Thanks for reading!


A few weeks ago, I was contemplating a new way to present the idea of cross-contour drawing to my students. Having taught drawing for more than two decades I always like to keep it fresh and try new tactics. Cross-contour lines allow the artist to bring 3 dimensionality to a drawing of an object by making lines that not only outline it but wrap around and across the form itself. 

I decided bananas would be a good fruit to draw because they are already both cylindrical and planar. I often ask students to imagine a see-through cylinder in space with a string wrapped around it. This starts a sort of x-ray vision that allows an understanding of a form in the round at different perspectives. 

So, I had them bring in bananas. Most of them remembered. Then, we took Sharpies and carefully drew directly on the bananas. Each ink line emphasized a planar division or traced around the circumference of the banana. This super-imposed ink diagram gave the students a map to follow when they posed the banana and drew it. 

Their drawings had an immediate dimensionality and the technique seemed to help them wrap their mind around the concept of cross-contour. Until next time, imagine drawing all the way around and through a 3D form. Or, just draw on a banana. CREATE.

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At the beginning of the semester I get to meet dozens of new students. Teaching both undergraduate and adult students I get to navigate a variety of age levels and experience. I love the challenge of this and I try to meet people where they are in an often diverse classroom. In any class that I teach, the first few sessions often emphasize that all of this working from observation is not only learning to draw but it is mostly about strengthening SEEING. 

To strengthen seeing one has to slow down and connect. This is often the most difficult thing for students to do. For adult students, I realize that there is perhaps an even greater level of surrender. Surrendering their well established patterns and engrained habits for something different. This process can understandably stir up vulnerability and fear especially when witnessed by a roomful of strangers.

Last week, as my students were introducing themselves and telling why they were taking this class, one adult student said, “I realize that I just have to trust you. Trust that following your teaching will take me somewhere even if it is totally out of my comfort zone.” Wow. 

Trust. What an awesome responsibility I have working with these fabulous humans. They are putting 3 of their precious hours a week in my hands. This is the real deal and I don’t ever take it lightly. Lately in light of our level of distraction, I feel an imperative to help people deepen their creative practice. Beyond trusting me, my hope is that they will ultimately trust their inherent ability to strengthen their perception.

Until next time, try trusting something or someone who seems to be offering a different view. CREATE. 

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This summer we witnessed the 147th Grand Illumination in the Methodist Campground in Oak Bluffs, MA on Martha’s Vineyard. This might have been our 10th year seeing this spectacle. The Campground is filled with tiny ornate gingerbread-style houses, many of them arranged in circles facing into small courtyards. All of them have colorful front porches, which the owners proudly decorate with paper lanterns one night a year, usually the 3rd Wednesday of August.

After a patriotic sing-along concert under the roof of the open-air central tabernacle, the eldest member of the Campground Federation lights the first lantern. Moments later, at the flick of a switch, the entire community is illuminated. There is an audible sigh as the darkness is transformed into soft light. It seems like the darkness is particularly deep just before the lights go on…anticipating beauty. 

Then the meandering starts. Hundreds of people flow past these houses in the dim warm light generated by the lanterns. There are no other lights. Conversations spark between strangers as viewers admire the porch lights. This year, as I wandered through this festival of lights, I noticed a number of very elderly people sitting in rocking chairs on their porches. Some of them were alone, surrounded by their decorations. How many years have they been illuminating their porches? 

There was one woman in particular who sat on her porch with wavy, shoulder-length white hair. She seemed timeless, bathed in the pink light emanating from her lanterns. I wanted to approach her and tell her how beautiful her porch looked…how beautiful she looked…but something held me back. I didn’t want to interrupt her reverie. I just smiled and drifted past. 

One day, I hope that I’ll be lucky enough to be an elderly woman and let my white hair down on an August night. I’ll bathe in pink lantern light on my front porch and keep my lanterns hanging year-round to celebrate this precious life.

Until next time, hang a string of colorful paper lanterns and bask in their light. Notice how they transform the night. CREATE.


Gavia immer

I felt the canoe as it thrust off the dock into the dark water. The Maine night, velvet-black surrounded us. The water’s slow mercurial wake widened as we approached the middle of Upper Range Pond. We were enveloped by night, the shore now invisible. Above us, light clouds revealed mid-August stars. Cassiopeia and the Big Dipper arced above us. 

We stopped paddling and waited. Drifting. Suspended between water and sky. I heard a soft splash off the port bow…and then another off starboard. Then they started. The loons. First a short wavering “tremolo” to one side…and then a pause. Then to the right a bit further away, a haunting “wail”. We were right between them, silent, still, transfixed. We let the haunting cries wash over us until they dissipated and silence returned.

Paddling home we were richer for taking a chance and floating out into the night, while others slept. Until next time, make some memories at midnight. CREATE.

"Let the Wild Rumpus Start!"

Yesterday I started teaching at Clark University in Worcester. It was my first day of school in a new place. A new studio, new colleagues, new students, heck…I even bought a new pair of jeans. I arranged 18 chairs in a circle and slowly they started to trickle in. My students. How cool to suddenly meet 17 new humans you have never seen before. Each of them with their own walk, their own energy and their own story. So there we were, sitting in a circle all staring at each other. 9:03am. “Let the wild rumpus start!” (Where the Wild Things Are) 

On my way in to work early that morning, I was finalizing my plan for a new ice-breaker for the first day. I wanted to have them work with LINE. So, after some introductions, I took my circle of 18 and made 2 circles. The inner circle faced outwards. The outer circle faced inwards. Each person had someone sitting across from them. 

Each student was given a Post-It pad and a Sharpie marker. I demonstrated what a “blind contour” drawing was and we proceeded to create 162 blind contour portraits. The inner circle started by drawing a portrait of the person facing them. When I said switch, it was the outer circle’s turn to draw. After completing the first pair of drawings, the inner circle rotated one seat and we repeated the process until all 9 facing pairs of artists had drawn each other.

The most beautiful thing about this experience was that in a blind contour drawing you aren’t allowed to look down at your paper. You just keep your eye on your subject the whole time. As your eye moves slowly across your model, your pen moves simultaneously and never lifts up. This meant that a roomful of strangers was asked to just BE together and SEE each other. 

Some students looked me straight in the eye when they were the model and giggled. One girl closed her eyes. One gazed downwards and watched as I drew her. When we were finished, I had everyone hang their Post-Its on the wall in a big grid. It was a powerful record of our process that day which included the vulnerability of seeing and being seen.

Until next time, try a doing a blind contour drawing of someone you know. Then have them do one of you. You will never forget their face. CREATE.

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Trust it Will Arise

“Once you understand how she is, you start to love her.” -Francis Mallmann, Patagonian Chef interviewed on Chef’s Table

I don’t watch a lot of TV. In fact we don’t even have cable. However, we do find a show from time to time that feels worth it. Last year, we watched the 6 episodes of the Netflix documentary series “Chef’s Table”. This is not your common cooking show. In each episode, they follow a chef and uncover the interior creative life that fuels their passion for cooking. What these interviews revealed transcended cooking and resonated powerfully for me as they illustrated the creative human spirit. When the French chef Francis Mallmann said “Once you understand her, you start to love her.” about living off the land and cooking in a place as obscure as Patagonia, I had to pause the computer and replay the quote. It struck me somehow and I wasn’t sure why.

Last week, spending time up on a lake in Maine I understood. We drive up to Poland Springs, Maine most summers and stay in a cabin on a lake. It is beautiful there with the distant misty hills encircling and reflecting into the lake, the light sparkling on the water at sunset, the loons singing at twilight. Despite its beauty, I have to say that I have never really been able to connect with this place deeply. I don’t really know it very well so it feels almost exotic or intangible. Perhaps it is because I was brought up going to the ocean instead of an inland lake with its dark silty bottom. 

This disconnect was starting to bother me, especially because I was hoping to do some sketching up there. How could I be so uninspired in such a beautiful place? I felt myself sort of pushing…trying to pull inspiration out of my surroundings. Asking myself, what is wrong with me? On the 6th day there, after sort of giving up on the whole painting thing, slowly the forest and the distant shoreline started to unveil themselves to me. With soft eyes I started to perceive subtle hints of inspiration…the filtered light falling in golden pools on the forest floor. It is a sort of magic that is revealed to those who don’t seek it.

This experience taught me a great lesson. You can’t force authentic inspiration to happen. You meet it somewhere when you least expect it. It arises unconditionally from your surroundings, from your sensorial world. “Once you understand her, you will know how to love her.” This understanding must arise organically without excessive striving. It has its own unpredictable time line. 

It made me wonder, maybe we are already painting long before we pick up a brush? Just engaging with the world around us, trusting that at some point, inspiration will ignite. Until next time, let an unfamiliar place teach you how to paint her, or love her. It is the same thing. CREATE.

Comments are always welcome via my email: or on my website where you can scroll down to over 30 previous BLOG posts. Thanks for reading!


August is a bittersweet month when the summer days feel shorter and the air’s sweetness hints at the autumn ahead. After a hot busy summer so far, I am taking the next two weeks to unplug. When this posts I’ll be sitting by a pond in Maine watching it sparkle. Recharging my sparkle. No internet. Just magic. 

Until next time, unplug for awhile and refresh your view. CREATE.

Blue Moon

I recently realized that I had no idea what phase the moon was in. I actually don’t think I’ve been aware of this for months. It startled me because I love the night sky. I have always sort of organically tracked the moon. I like feeling the emptiness and potential of the new moon, the beautiful asymmetry of a waxing gibbous and the energetic power of the full moon.

This weekend out in Truro, my family and I went down to our ocean beach to have a sunset swim. The water was opalescent as it skimmed over the sandbars. When I dove into my first wave, the cool salty water was an elixir, healing my mind and tired body after a hot busy July in the city.

As darkness fell, I looked to the eastern horizon and there she was, rising from a veil of clouds. The blue moon. I was awestruck. As she rose, she cast a blissful golden light on the waves. Moonbeams caressed the beach and a hush fell as we witnessed her magnificence. 

Until next time, watch for the moon at night. Her waxing and waning is a reminder that there is beauty in our darkness and our luminosity. CREATE.

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