Category Archives: Nature

Wide Awake

I usually experience an opening or awakening in the springtime when my soul seems to wake up after a long troubled sleep. I see things clearly again. That didn’t happen this year. It started to. I felt a few moments of wide open clarity early on when I first saw the daffodils come up or on the first warm day, but I feel like I never really woke up. I’ve never had an awakening at this time of year, in the late fall or winter. This is usually when I feel my spirit darkening like tinted glass, when I close off and hunker down inside for a long period of deliberate unconsciousness where I try my best to ignore what’s going on around me.

Instead, I feel bright. Sure, I get tired and a little gloomy in the dark, early evenings sometimes, but most of the time I feel amazing. Something about these cold, clear days; the changing color palette; and watching the trees strip down to their essence is incredibly cleansing, as if the old ideas are becoming brittle and breaking away, leaving me sharp, clear, and wide open for the cold winds to whistle though. It’s like splash of cold water to the face to wake up in the morning.

I may feel differently in a few weeks, but right now I’m going to enjoy this. Maybe winter and I can be friends. Anything is possible.

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Easing Into Change

I’m back! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I had a great time at Lake Powell! I got plenty of swimming, paddle boarding, and hiking done. I even got some sun color. I don’t actually tan, I just get slightly less ghostly. We got caught in some crazy storms, I ate way too much, I caught a giant catfish, and I slept under the stars on the top deck of the houseboat.

Though I had a great week, I always hate that flat, disappointing feeling of coming home after a great vacation. This time is particularly nasty for some reason. Maybe it’s all the chocolate ice cream I ate, but I feel a bit low. When we left, I felt excited to take some time away from responsibility and just play in the turquoise waters of Lake Powell, and I figured I’d come back all refreshed and feel ready to hit the ground running.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t.

I’ve noticed that I tend to expect a lot of myself sometimes, especially if I ever allow myself to “slack off”. I figure, “well, I’ve been on vacation, so now I should be able to go double time”. It’s as if I feel like I have to pay for resting. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I need a break, no strings attached.

So, instead of diving headfirst into a massive to-do list that I could compile for the week, instead of plunging into a new workout routine I’d promise myself I’d start when I got back, I’ll ease back into my daily life. No boot camp, no cleaning marathons or major lifestyle overhauls right out of the gate. I can take a vacation without paying penance later.

I think we all struggle with this sometimes. It’s like eating dessert and telling ourselves we have to run it off on the treadmill tomorrow. That’s no way to live.

So, though I have plenty to do this week, I am refusing to fill up each slot in my planner with activities I should feel up to now that I’ve had a week off. Sometimes it’s the white space on the calendar that really feeds us and moves us forward. We need time to think, dream, process, and take mini-vacations periodically to avoid burnout and stoke our creative fires.

I do have some new paintings in the works, so I hope to reveal those soon! Have a wonderful week!

Sunflower Inspiration

If I were a flower, I think I’d be a sunflower. They’re my favorite because they look so happy and they’re a symbol of joy and summer to me.

I saw a bunch of sunflowers down by the road near the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah when I went there for the annual Llama fest this weekend. Yes, Llama fest. Lots of fun. It’s like a big fancy dog show, but for llamas, and there are lots of crafts and good food, and the Krishna Temple is just a wonderful place to be because it smells like beautiful incense, everyone is happy, and it’s up on a hill with an incredible view of Utah Valley.

Anyways, Sam picked me a sunflower and I had a mini photoshoot.

I’m planning on using these in a mixed-media painting very soon!

Ok, I know. You guys want to see some llama pictures. Here you go:

And some more pictures, just for fun.

Thank you all for being such wonderful friends and readers. Have a fabulous day!

Mixed-Media Minis: To the Beach!

After my short visit to the beach in April, I stared thinking about beach art. Most of my art is more inspired by the Utah landscape of mountains, brillant sunsets, and solitary trees, but I truly adore the beach.

I’ve acquired tons of seashells and sand dollars over the years, but I’ve kept them in boxes because I’ve never been sure what to do with them.

Now I know:

3×3 Mixed-Beach Art and Easel, $25

Available here.

3×3 Mixed-Media Beach Art-Blue with Pink Shells-$25

Available here.

These are a little bit bigger than the other minis I’ve done; these are 3×3 instead of 2×2. I had so much fun making these! I love using natural materials like sand and shells in my art. I think I’ll play with that technique a little more.

These little guys are available in the shop. I made my mom one of these for Mother’s Day and it looks great in her beach-themed living room.  They’re also perfect for office desks or small rooms that don’t have a lot of wall space for original art. It’s nice to squeeze a little art in where we can, isn’t it?

Cure for a Bad Mood: A Change of Perspective

Something amazing happened on Memorial Day.

I woke up in the worst mood ever. I felt depressed and confused about pretty much everything and I almost cried through my morning walk. I got home and sat on the couch staring at the wall for a half hour or so because I couldn’t seem to bring myself to do anything else. I didn’t feel like writing, making art, reading a book, eating breakfast, or even taking a shower. The sunshine and birdsong outside didn’t even cheer me like it usually does.

It was a scary feeling because I was questioning pretty much everything. I had a good cry on the couch and then somehow fell asleep even though I’d just gotten up from a full night’s sleep less than two hours earlier.

When I woke up 45 minutes later, I felt amazing.

I didn’t notice at first, the but bad feeling was completely gone. All the confusion was gone even though nothing had gotten much clearer; it just didn’t seem as scary any more. I knew things would work out.

I made myself some breakfast, got dressed, wrote for awhile, spent some time with Sam, then walked down to the park to lay on the grass and read a book until it was time to leave for our hike.

We hiked up a canyon trail with our friends Kyle and Destinee, I don’t remember what it was called, but it was beautiful. I love hiking so much. It’s exhilarating without hammering my knees like running does, and nothing makes me feel alive like being out in nature. I climbed up to a little cliff to sit and look down the canyon at Utah Lake. Destinee didn’t climb up with us and the boys climbed a little higher, so I got to sit by myself for a few minutes before climbing up with them.

As I sat with my toes dangling over the drop-off, I wondered how I had felt to awful just a few hours ago when I felt so happy then on the cliff. Nothing else in my life had changed but me. I’ll never underestimate the power of a nap again. It’s just a shift in perspective.

I had a great memorial day. We had a great time on the hike and then we went to a cemetery to put flowers on the graves that didn’t have any.

The moral of the story: Indulgent nap+fun hike with friends+putting flowers on graves=cure for a crappy mood.

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Art and Location

The part of California that I struggle with is the driving, but luckily I got to ride in the back of the van the whole way and take pictures of trees out the window.

I went on a lot of car trips growing up, and I think a lot of my work stems in watching the trees and landscape as we drove back and forth to California and southern Utah. I pay a lot more attention to trees than that stuff than I used to, but I noticed that the trees and sky in California look so much different than they do in Utah. Utah is full of trees standing out in the middle of nowhere by themselves, or huge dead trees. They’re very gnarly looking. Everything in northern Utah is very jagged and sharp. We’ve got the Rocky Mountains and the trees are…sharp-looking I guess. The trees in California are much more serpentine. The San Gabriel Mountains are hilly and round rather than rocky. All the trees had their leaves, and as far as I know, most of them don’t lose them.

As I snapped pictures of trees by the freeway, I wondered how my art would change if I still lived in California, or if I go back. I was actually born in Pasedena and we lived there until I was almost five, but I remember it very vividly. Every time I go back, some part of me feels at home. There’s a California girl in me somewhere. Not the part of me that has to drive, but some part. My husband is an animator, so we may very well live in California at some point. He certainly wants to. What would that do to my art? Would my trees get more snakey-looking?  Would my skies get flatter, because the sky in California mostly seems to vary between blue and brownish-gray? There’s the beach though. I could get into that. There are palm trees, and all kinds of flowers.

It’s an interesting thought. Though my work really isn’t realistic or representational, the Utah landscape is a huge source of inspiration for me. I think my art will always have some Utah in it, but it will probably change to reflect wherever I’m living at the time. I may try to incorporate a little of my California girl into some art this summer. I’ve been playing with some ideas all winter while I was pining for the sun.

I’ll probably live in California again someday, as well as other places. My art will change right along with my surroundings, because my surroundings are part of me. I project myself into the landscape.

New Small Painting-Time and Light

One of my favorite things about spring is the lengthening days. It’s interesting how I may feel like going to bed at 7 pm in the winter, but in the spring when it’s still light at 7, I feel like playing. Our sense of time changes right along with the light.

11X14 Acrylic on Canvas

This is now available in the small paintings section of the shop. It’s is acrylic on 11×14 stretched canvas, and the sides are painted to match the frame, so it’s ready to hang! It also features real clock hands! I love this piece so much, I’m planning to play with this idea some more and even create a large painting with this theme.

Available for purchase here, just $85.

Have a fabulous Monday!

There is Always a Way

Nature never fails to inspire and encourage me. While out on a run/walk/stop and pet cats the other day, I noticed tiny little flowers growing through the cracks on the sidewalk.

The wisdom and perfection of nature astounds me. Even when faced with a seemingly huge obstacle (like a slab of concrete) these flowers still found a way to grow and blossom into what they were always meant to become.

I think we can take a lesson from that.

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Signs of Spring

I visited my family this past weekend and while I was out gathering eggs from my dad’s chickens, I noticed that something in the air felt different. I recognized it.

Even though there was still snow on the ground and my ears were numb from the cold, I swear I could smell spring. Winter isn’t just about the cold or darkness, I always feel like something in the air is missing. Everything feels dead to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the air is definitely different in the spring and summer. I’ve felt it a few times over the last two weeks, and each time it fills me up with tingly, bubbly joy. I feel like laughing and crying at once. I feel like I’m getting something that I’ve been deprived of for a long time, something I didn’t realize I was starving for. I never notice when that magic in the air fades away, but I notice when it comes back.

I saw green things for the first time in months.

This is exactly how I feel in the spring.

Looking Forward with Hope

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Today is Groundhog Day. Today, millions of people in the Northern Hemisphere start thinking about spring if they haven’t been already.

I certainly don’t trust a rodent to predict the weather, but I’m certainly thinking about spring. It’s February. We’re well on the downhill. That means that next month is March. I’ll see daffodils next month. Even though the seasons seems to have been pushed back a month off schedule over the last few years, the days are getting longer and even though March will most likely be wintry, the flower beds will show signs of life. That special smell might even be in the air. You know the smell, that special excitement that you can’t really put your finger on. I’ve been able to trick myself into feeling that for a moment a few times this winter, when I’m high in my office at work and I can’t see the ground, only the blue sky.

I remember feeling that feeling, smelling that small for the first time after a particularly nasty winter when I was 19. I’d just moved out of my parents’ house and I was living alone. If I’d been thinking straight, I never would have done that in February. I was lonely, depressed, and stressed out about school and my upcoming wedding. There was so much snow that I couldn’t really walk around my new neighborhood because the plows had piled the snow up over the sidewalks.

Then one day in March, the sun came out. By that time, the mounds of snow on the sidewalk had melted quite a bit and I could actually walk in sneakers instead of snowboots. Mothers threw their antsy kids outside to play. Kids playing outside always sounds like summer to me. I walked outside for hours that day. I even walked to the grocery store and bought green peppers to make chicken fajitas for dinner. It was a day of hopeful joy to interrupt a winter of sliding all over icy roads and taking five classes a day in a building with no windows.

It won’t be long before that special electricity starts to spark in the air again. Six weeks, according to the rat. That isn’t long. We’ll still have snow, or at least rain for awhile. It’ll still be cold, but at least the light will come back, and the flowers will come up.

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We’re on the home stretch.