Friday, June 26, 2020


Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes once said,
"If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I'll bet they'd live a lot differently."

My favorite view of the sky from a small courtyard in Tuscany  by Bill Slavin

If you have been feeling as stressed as I have over all that has occurred in the last few months, I hope you will, like me, walk out where you can see the sky, either day or night. Now that summer is here, I find myself looking up to the sky often. The blue is intense, but calms my spirit. I can take a deep breath and relax as I watch turkey vultures soaring in the thermals near Mt. Diablo. They look effortless and beautiful sailing far above my head. When they land next to the road, their whole aspect changes. They are ugly, with naked red faces. They group together and stare. I look up at the sky again to avoid their gaze. 

Cerulean blue provides the best sky blue in watercolor. I can capture that intensity with a Cerulean wash.

Dabbing out the clouds with a piece of original Viva paper towel makes the clouds and sky connect. I didn't have any Viva when I did the quick sketch in Norway. You can see the difference in the two skies here.

On my walk again I watch wispy clouds pass by touched by the wind. I catch the flutter of two yellow swallowtails, twirling around each other. Woodpeckers twist and turn to look for a vulnerable tree to stash their nuts in, the junkos hope to find one more nesting spot, the hummingbirds soar up and down, catching minuscule insects while they head towards the salvia by the roadside. Even the crows are worth watching as they dash from one tree to another trying to escape the caws of their baby, whose beak opens, shoulders hunch, begging for more, more.

With all that 2020 has brought to us and since we are at the apex of the year, I hope you will take a moment, day or night, to walk outside and look up at the sky. I know I need that pause before I go back to creating ways for me to be involved in the discussions we need to have in our country.


Thank you to Mary, Joan, and Pat for the Soul Boxes you have made. The first box is in the mail today.

Friday, June 19, 2020


courtesy of the Washington Post
Did you notice all of the posters attached to the chain link fence surrounding the White House? Together that make a huge visual statement. Together they are a piece of community art.

Murals depicting George Floyd's face have popped up all over the country and represent the ways people can express their anger, concern, and need for change through paint and chalk. And illustrators have created numerous covers for magazines with Floyd's image used as a theme.

courtesy of New York magazine

Words and speeches get lost over time, but art remains. Norman Rockwell painted "The Problem We All Live With, " which stands as a testament to the courage of a young girl and how much work we still need to do. Jim Fitzpatrick's poster of Che Guevara endures in our conscience as a reminder of rebellion against colonialism and oppression. People still react to the strong graphic portrait. Because the Guevara image has been pirated so many times, Fitzpatrick has given up protecting the copyright. The image can be downloaded from his website.

courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Museum

Poster design by Jim Fitzpatrick

Art objects can also represent abhorrent ideas. The sculptures, flags and other objects that are being pulled down because they represent treason or subjugation have also left marks on our souls. Mississippi still raises a state flag that incorporates the Confederate flag. It is way past time for us to remove these objects. We know these statues and symbols were erected in public places to honor the people depicted. We can do a better job of understanding their role in history by reading books, watching films and placing them in context in museums, all of which can better remind us of our complicated history.

We can all be artists and maybe agitators. I wrote last week of the Soul Box Project, which gives anyone a chance to understand more deeply the effect of gun violence.  Here are four more finished boxes ready to be sent. Take the time to watch the video on Soul Box Project's home page. You may find yourself taking an 8 inch square piece of paper and folding it into a box.

Watch this panoramic view of the posters on the chain link fence outside the White House:

Norman Rockwell Museum website:

Jim Fitzpatrick designed the Che Guevara poster. Though you can download the Che Guevara image for free, support Fitzpatrick's work by buying something at his website:

Soul Box Project:

Commemorate Juneteenth today.

Friday, June 12, 2020


Wondering what to do now?

Follow the lead of the Soul Box Project and make a small origami box to honor someone who has died by gun violence.

courtesy of the Soul Box Project
June 5, Gun Violence Awareness Day, was almost forgotten in the last two weeks of demonstrations. The day originated after the death of Hadiya Pendleton just a week after the 15-year old performed at President Obama's second inauguration. Many groups including Moms Demand Action commemorate the day by wearing orange.  The Soul Box Project gathers small, decorated boxes and places them together in exhibitions. They want to make an impact with the boxes just as did the AIDS quilts project that stretched across Washington, DC, in 1987.

Names Project AIDS Memorial quilt in 1987  (source: Wikipedia)

To make my box, I first looked through the morning paper to find a name. I chose Deanna Rice. I don't know Deanna Rice, but I know that she was a victim of domestic violence. She has cousins who will miss her.

The box is easy to construct. I made two to fit together. I decorated the outside and added Denna Rice's name. One box is small, but together all the boxes can make an impact.

I used heart stickers to make a flower in memory of Deanna Rice.

Follow these simple directions or watch the Soul Box Project's video to make your own:

When you have finished with yours, package it and send to Soul Boxes, P. O. Box 19900, Portland, OR 97280

Make two box lids. Slide one inside the other. I took a separate piece of paper to make my decorations on and then glued the paper to the box.

Friday, June 5, 2020


This past week, I've asked myself questions:

Is this the right time to be writing a blog about art and nature?
Should I instead be expressing my opinion about the depth and causes of the multiple crises we are in?
What side of history do I want to be on?
What can one person do? How can I best listen?

To answer the first question, I have been encouraged by many readers who have told me how much these posts mean to them, giving them a quiet moment of peace. I treasure that.

To the second question, I will leave editorials to writers like Rebecca Solnit and fellow blogger, Chandra Lynn. Please read Chandra Lynn's post that starts with Dear Friend: Racism, Outrage, Resistance and Faith. She speaks to the heart of living while black in America:

Not writing about racism, politics or solutions doesn't mean that I can put my blinders back on and think that we are making the changes we need to make towards racial justice. Sure, we have made progress from the Civil Rights era, but that progress has been glacial owing to people like me with my white silence.

As a young woman, I took the easy way and became an advocate for woman's rights to ensure that women and girls received equal education and opportunities. The harder way would have been to include anyone at a disadvantage and advocate for equal rights for everyone. I also know my limitations, so I look for small ways to make change. I encourage friends to support what works for them, I write letters and postcards to my representatives, and I encourage people to register to vote. I now can stand up to people when I think they are wrong.

I feel that if each of us who wants to see a better America takes one step each day, each week, each month, we can stand up for what we believe in. We can sit down and listen. We can stand up for others. We can silence the bullies around us.

And we can vote as if our lives depended on it.

2020 Women's March

We can also accept that we don't know enough. I searched this week for good articles and books on racial justice, community policing and the effects of small actions. Here's what I found:

Racial Justice:

Little Things can make a difference:

Community Policing:

Read these books:
White Fragility by Dr. Robin diAngelo
Dear Church by Lenny Duncan
and click on my Book Lists link to find more

Here is a list of organizations that I found that I feel could support. I hope you will take the time to either support these groups or find a local group that is working for the heart of America.

Racial Justice:
Color of Change:
Minnesota Freedom Fund:
Northside Achievement Zone (Minneapolis):

California Farmworkers:
Ayudando Latinos a Sonar - Half Moon Bay:
Farmworker Justice:

Native Americans:
Native American Rights Fund:
First Nations:

Streetbooks:  A mobile book shop serving people who love outside in Portland. Look at their website. You will have to smile.

And because arts are important and are always first on the list to be defunded,
write your representatives to continue to support the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA):
Americans for the Arts:
Kala Art Institute, Oakland, CA:


And remember
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Lorenzo Dean, Eric Reason, Christopher McCorvey, Christopher Whitfield, Atatiana Jefferson, Dominique Clayton, Pamela Turner, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose II, Stephon Clark, Ronell Foster, Aaron Bailey, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Ahmaud Arbery, and more.