About the Artist
While I spent most of my life in Wisconsin where I had a stained glass studio, I now live in southern Iowa where I have transferred my love of the north woods and my fascination with the brilliance and light of art glass into the bold lines and vivid colors of acrylic and oil paintings. The trees, roots and rocks are direct reflections of the Divine for me, the koi speak of god - ancient, sinuous, exquistely lasting. As a Universalist Quaker, I believe that the earth is sacred and that all we do in life is connected.
Often times I am asked: how do you choose what to paint?
Or, how do you see things or know how to paint in a certain way?
I think that my most effective paintings, the ones that are exactly what I want, are acts of prayer, the result of the stillness of my spirit.
They are a celebration of life and beauty
and our collective relationship to the Divine.
But then I have wondered, can other people buy what another person has offered or been given as a Prayer?
I'd like to think that this is similar, maybe, to the offering of Tibetan prayer flags, or to a mandala, one act of fragile beauty - created for the intention of many. I believe that this painting-as-prayer concept speaks perhaps - in a visual way - to someone else's yearning for connection with something larger than themselves.
In recent years I have been drawn to the idea of writing a creed, as poetry, and if I did, I would have to include words like sycamore and oak and river and stones and maybe Igdrasil, the tree of life. My poem would probably have to have sun and moon and goddess and some kind of timeless symbolism that pulls together all of history and imagination and the healing of the earth. Maybe it would mention Rumi, or Hildegard of Bingen, and the wonder of the senses and the rhythm and the magic of the seasons. I could dream that it might speak to centuries, millinea, of mystics seeking to express the experience of God.
And, as to who might be intrigued by my work, there are some who purchase my paintings simply because they have an emotional response to old Victorian farm houses or because they desire a certain style, that of naive or expressionist art. One gallery manager likened my work to French naive and she had buyers for collectors from New Jersey to Chicago. Still though, going back to the how and why of subject matter and intention, there was one lovely man, at a show in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, who walked repeatedly around the entire gallery and kept coming back to just one piece. Eventually he came to me and said that he needed to have this work in his home. "It keeps pulling me back, to this very quiet place. I think it is what I need to help me focus my energy, almost instantly, into meditation. This is what I was looking for." So. Prayer? Poetry? My own passionate love affair with color? I don't know; I only know - with complete certainty - that painting is something that I must do, that I can not stop doing, that I cannot imagine being separate from the rest of my life.
These days I divide my time between my pleasant little home in Mystic, Iowa - with all its attendant rose bushes - and Minnesota and Wisconsin with family and friends.
Galleries where I have exhibited have ranged from Founder's Square in Door County and the Western Wisconsin Regional Art Center in LaCrosse to galleries, universities and coffeehouses in Newton, Waterloo, Oskaloosa and Fairfield, Iowa. I have received grants from Iowa State University and the Wisconsin Arts Board. In 2004, I was nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry. I teach part-time at Indian Hills Community College in Centerville, Iowa.
In the spring of 2011 I returned to the north country I love after spending a decade teaching in southern Iowa. I now live in south Minneapolis where theaters, bookstores, restaurants, lakes and trees offer both visual and emotional stimulation, as well as peace and beauty. My subject matter, and even my palette, has changed in surprising ways. Gone are the greens and earth colors, often with that strange, gentle light permeating the paths or stairways. Now the colors are vibrant, bold, shouting-out oranges, reds, magentas, purples and blues. It is the content that is gentle, quiet, comforting: the welcome, easeful warmth of teapots, samovars, cats, and coffee cups. While we often see flowers and vases or striking, striped wallpaper or table coverings, we also notice, almost, without thinking about it – windows – windows and doors, those thresholds into nature, trees, stars, gardens, openings into worlds that no longer are places where I can go. As I become increasingly more crippled (yes, a controversial word, but one that describes exactly what is happening to my body), I recognize that I may not be able to paint much longer. Yet I love those doorways; they let me see and remember. They remind me of joyful summer nights watching meteor showers from my patio swing, or crisp afternoons and the crunch of snow under my boots during a winter hike. But I am also intensely grateful for the beauty of now, each exquisite blossoming rose in the summer, and the snow covered branches of trees in the winter. I am thankful too for the love of family and friends, and whether the continual pain I deal with is from genetics, environmental contaminents, or even unfortunate life choices (as the New Agey/New Thought people tell me), it is my own particular reality and I prefer to greet each morning with gratitude and to see life, the earth, and the universe as a series of interconnecting relationships and that the divine is within each of us and all around us. I believe that beauty is required for a balanced and healthy soul and hope to soon finish my spiritual memoir that has these words as a title and central theme.