White Breasted Nuthatch

These wonderful little birds have captured my imagination since the day we moved here. Throughout the year I can hear their distinct calls all around the forest, though have to watch closely just to get a glance at one. In the winter however, the bird feeders get hung up and they become a welcomed mainstay throughout the dark cold months. There are many things I dread about the harsh winters here, but come feeder season, I find myself looking forward to the time spent watching my winter “friends”. In the spring, they are back to the woods!

Bird Painting Illustration

Mamie

I’ve delayed posting this last painting, which I finished just before Christmas, as I’ve had a hard time creating a story to accompany it that I thought was good enough. So, perhaps this time simplicity is best. I painted this for a gift for a family member, and it’s a scene of my grandmother at her house on “the farm”, that the family has affectionately come to know so well. She was dear and beloved to all who knew her, and even though it’s been 14 years since Mamie went home to be with her Lord and family before her, I still found myself getting teary eyed at times while painting this. I’ve added a very brief story of her life after the photos, just to attach a bit more history to the picture if you’re interested in further reading.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Painting Illustration

House Painting IllustrationMamie was born in 1909 in Detroit, Michigan. Both her parents were first generation Americans from German immigrant families. They spoke fluent German as well as English, though Mamie and her brothers were raised to speak only English. As a girl, she grew up in Detroit, in what was then considered a nice middle-class neighborhood. She had 3 brothers, one of whom died of Polio at 2 years old. Her mother had battled sickness on and off for most of her life, and when Mamie was 9 years old, her mother died of gall bladder complications at the age of 36. Shortly afterwards, her grandmother moved in with the family and helped her father with the children. She met her husband, Louis, on a street car in Detroit and was married, age 20, in 1929. Mamie & Louis started their family in Detroit, raising 4 children through Chicken Pox, Measles, Whooping Cough, and Scarlet Fever. After WWII, Louis lost his job at the war plant in Detroit, and the family moved to Springport, a small country town in southern Michigan to make a fresh start. Her life turned to farm work, and the family of 6 lived for awhile with no electricity, running water, indoor toilet, or telephone in a 3 bedroom house.  She and Louis raised 3 more children along the way (finally adding electricity and indoor plumbing); the last two children being twins, born when Mamie was 42 years old. Mamie & Louis celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1979, and just a year and a half later, Louis died from heart failure at age 75. After her husband’s death, Mamie lived alone on the farm for nearly 20 years, until she moved in with family.  Family was the most important thing to her, and upon her own death at 95 years old, she left behind 7 children, 21 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild. Due to the times she lived in, Mamie’s life was not easy, being filled with the hardships of poverty, sickness, and death. Though despite her circumstances, she was always able to give love, and taught us about the unconditional and abiding love of the Lord just by being herself.  Mamie made such an impression upon us that 14 years since she went home, she is still remembered, loved, and missed by those she left behind.

A Christmas Cardinal Message

For this year’s Christmas card, I found inspiration in one of my favorite places to spend time in nature – that is my very own backyard! It seems that this year we have been lucky to enjoy significantly more Cardinals than we did last winter season, and so, observing them as I often do, it was an was easy choice to make. In addition to my newest card, I also printed some cards from a poinsettia design I painted a few years back, though never did anything with. Both original designs were painted using gouache, with touch-ups done digitally.

And because it’s Christmas, something different from my normal type of posts, and that is a personal note;  a bit deeper message for a moment… I don’t think the message which these cardinals are proclaiming need much explanation – even to non-religious people. And I do think this message can absolutely transcend to non-religious and even other religious denominations – because it would be a travesty to navigate the darkness of this world today without taking some amount of time to understand where we personally find our foundation of light and hope. If ever there were a time in the past 50 years to contemplate the darkness in the world which we live, I think this Christmas is a good time for such reflection and introspection. Perhaps you live in a blessed bubble of peace and prosperity, or perhaps you are gifted with eternal optimism – what a gift, the more power to you! My little corner of nature is a beautiful glimpse of the “light” of creation that sits on my doorstep and blesses me without me even asking for it. Though, even among all the beauty that I have set before me, sadness has a way of creeping in. I cried yesterday as two beautiful (male & female) cardinals lay dying in my hands, and it only takes but a glimpse at any news page to see that the world is not becoming lighter, but darker. Not becoming more beautiful, but being trampled upon. Not being filled with peace, but filled with divisiveness. Not loving it’s neighbor, but self-absorbed. Hurting, struggling, seeking answers to heal itself through every social, political, economical, technological, and even spiritual means it can find – and yet, does it ever find healing? So, maybe while the world is struggling, and grasping at dust, and telling us what we should be thinking, we ourselves can shut all of that out. We can take some time to search for a light that isn’t temporary or changes with it’s government leaders or social media propaganda. When everything in the world seems to conspire to threaten my comfort, solace, and way of life, I remind myself that this is all very short and temporary. My faith in God grounds me, even from among the darkness, and reminds me that there is a light which sustains a greater hope than what governments, movements, and apps would have me believe! So what hope can I have in this moment, in this life even, if it is derived from a path that brings no healing and leads only to greater sadness and deeper darkness? For me, my faith that God is the light of the world is the reason for the hope that I have!

Merry Christmas! 🙂

Christmas Card Bird IllustrationChristmas Card floral IllustrationChristmas Card Bird IllustrationChristmas Card Bird Illustration

September From My Kitchen Window

My kitchen window is a wonderful spot to sit and watch the world of nature move, breathe, and change with time and seasons. I’ve spent more hours than I dare admit gazing, observing, and simply day dreaming through that window, and it’s through that lens that I’d like to share a little bit of my world illustrated for you.

P.s. Also, it’s my first real experimentation with some animation – all hand painted using gouache paint.

IllustrationIllustration

SeptemberWindow_Animate_WT

 

The Bard of Boscobel Woods

In medieval Gaelic and British culture, a bard was a professional story teller, verse-maker, poet, and music composer…

In my woods, I have my very own story teller, a Barred Owl, whose calls I can hear across the valley on a quiet evening.

Nature Illustration

Spring Morning in the Valley

A night of heavy rains and morning in the hollow was humming. The fog hung in the valley pocket as the sun began to rise over the bluff. Songbirds flitted about the treetops, and as I watched, the Sandhill Cranes flew through, silhouetted by the morning mist, adding the exclamation mark to the scene.

Valley Morning