Sunday, May 31, 2020

White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


TURN YOUR HEAD toward me, little bird. What do you see? A human, maybe someone with food? Someone who could help - or hurt - in equal measure, and yet, you trust - but not so closely that I could reach out and catch you. Trust but be cautious. 

Still, with time and familiarity, you come closer. Not to rest on my hand or my shoulders - I don't have the patience to build that sort of relationship with you (though Peter would have). But you flit nearby, lighting on the clothesline where the bird feeders hang, landing on the ground close to my feet, close to where I stand the bag of bird seed. 

Turn your head toward me, little bird, and take my measure. These days will fly more quickly than either of us could imagine. 

For Today

"All paintings are artwork but precious few become works of art, just as the fact that a pianist who can play all the correct notes doesn't assure an inspired performance."

- Peter Fiore

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Jacorabbit / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


WHAT DO YOU MEAN, he's not a bird? Whatever you do, don't tell him! 



ON A COLD AND GRAY MEMORIAL DAY MORNING, I met some other painters in a peony farm in Exmore and we set up to paint. The peony season was pretty much past, though the flowers that remained were incredibly beautiful - deep fuschia, palest pink, brilliant white, and rich with petals fragile as torn tissue. Gorgeous.

Here are two paintings from the day.

Above, Peony Rows, oil on black canvas, 4x12, $88 unframed, includes shipping

Peony World / Oil on black canvas / 11x14 unframed / sold

For Today
(a long one, but worthwhile)


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open - 
pools of lace, 
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes 
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities -
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly
and there it is again - 
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world? 
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever? 

- Mary Oliver

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Raven / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


I USED TO THINK that the most boring conversations on the face of the earth involved someone telling me - in detail - about their medical problems. 

Now, I think the most boring conversations on the face of the earth involve people holding forth  as experts - which they are not - on the coronavirus.

For Today

Uptown, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Even though it's May & the ice cream truck
parked outside my apartment is somehow certain,
I have a hard time believing winter is somehow,
all of a sudden, over - the worst one of my life,
the woman at the bank tells me. Though I'd like to be,
it's impossible to be prepared for everything.
Even the mundane hum of my phone catches me
off guard today. Every voice that says my name 
is a voice I don't think I could possibly leave
(it's unfair to not ask for the things you need)
even though I think about it often, even though
leaving is a train headed somewhere I'd probably hate.
Crossing Lyndale to meet a friend for coffee
I have to maneuver around a hearse that pulled too far
into the crosswalk. It's empty. Perhaps spring is here.
Perhaps it will all be worth it. Even though I knew
even then it was worth it, staying, I mean.
Even now, there is someone, somehow, waiting to me. 

- Hieu Minh Nguyen

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Cardinal with Red Flowers

Cardinal with Red Flowers /  oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68


GUY WILKINS WAS a painter who lived in Wachapreague, and died a bit before we moved here. When I landed in town that very first time, dawdling on my way back to Connecticut from painting in North Carolina, the owner of the Wachapreague Inn looked at me, covered in paint, and told me I had to meet Guy Wilkins. 

Turned out, he was in the hospital, and I never did get to meet him. But I've seen his paintings in people's homes, and on line ( and have heard about him from many people. I wish I'd known him. I think we would have been friends. 

The other day, painting in a peony field in Exeter, I heard one of the other painters say she had studied with Guy Wilkins. "He would tell me to stop right there," she said. "He'd say, 'It looks enough like a tree. Leave it alone.'"

I have much the same philosophy. If I don't insist on painting every last detail, I not only keep myself from getting bored and frustrated, but I also allow you, the viewer, to add your own ideas to the painting. Add your own details. Use your own imagination. I think this makes for a much more interesting painting for both of us! 


ON A WALK with three of my four dogs, Liesl (above, left) my regular dog-walking companion, and Lexie, (above, left) a special guest dog-walker, and I (below) saw this sign outside the crab-picking shack. It amused me - and the dogs thought it was pretty great, too. 

For Today

"A country where flowers are priced so as to make them a luxury
 has yet to learn the first principles of civilization."

- Chinese proverb

Monday, May 25, 2020

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68

ON MY FIRST PAINTING TRIP, which was well more than 10 years ago, I drove to Wisdom, Montana and back, painting all along the way. 

At that point, I was using brushes, and putting on the oil paints very thinly - almost like watercolors. I was often not bringing the painting to the edges of the canvas, a thing I still do now, but in a different way. 

I have a number of paintings from that trip that have never sold - but they're good paintings, ones I love, and ones that I believe have value. 

Since Peter died, I have been clearing my life and my house and my studio of things that don't work for me. Things that make me unhappy. Some of that clearing out has involved paintings. I have thrown them away, covered them over, even burned a couple. 

But I've saved some, too. The other day, I took the painting below, of an alfalfa field near Sandusky, Ohio, and I painted over it with heavy paint and my palette knife. In the process, I remembered that trip, and how liberating it was. And I remembered falling in love with yellow. 

That area of Ohio was rich with yellow. Overloaded with yellow. It was summer - July, I think, or maybe August - and the fields were full of wheat and alfalfa and who knows what all else. The sun up there, by Lake Erie, shone golden and brilliant, especially in the late afternoons, and the world took on a rich yellow hue that I'd never noticed before. 

On that trip, yellow entranced me. Delighted me. Warmed me. Romanced me. I painted as much yellow as I could, used all the yellows I had, mixed them, pushed them, begged them to hold the light and shine that brilliance from the canvas. I lived in a whirl of yellow, and I was in love. 

All of that came rushing back to me when I painted over the Sandusky canvas. And it crept into the owl, too - a happy blur of yellow on a warm May afternoon.  

Above, the original painting. Below, the refurbished one. Both are 12x36. Please contact me at for price, shipping and availability.

For Today

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff.
 If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."

- A.A. Milne

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Mrs. Bluebird

 Mrs. Bluebird / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 including shipping


IN THE MORNINGS, my friend Liesl and I walk three of my four dogs. Sometimes, we take Woody, but he is 14, mostly blind and mostly deaf, and, while he wants to go on the walks, and is pretty much capable of them, he is a menace, weaving all over the place on his leash, and stopping again and again, to poop in the middle of the road, or just to stop. It is a small miracle that I haven't fallen over him and broken things, on one or both of us.

I think that Liesl (our favorite Austrian) has a well-ordered and calm life - outside of the chaos of Doc, Lulu and Koko. And so it is doubly great that she helps me walk them. 

For months, we have been letting Koko and Doc run around in a little park along the marsh. At first, it was just Koko, with her leash trailing behind. Then we let Doc run, again with his leash trailing. I call them to me, again and again, and reward them with treats, and they've been learning. And the leashes are off.

But yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, breezy day, and Doc decided it was a perfect day to romp off, scamper through yards and pretend that I was calling him in some foreign language, or maybe in a totally inaudible voice. 

Wachapreague is a place without many cars, though there are some, and at that time of the morning, in that part of town, there are usually no dogs out. So it ended up OK, with Doc cavorting back not to me but to Liesl, who had Koko and Lulu on their leashes. 

After the excitement, I said that I was mad at Doc, and exasperated. 

"Why would he run off like that?" I asked. "He knows better!" 

And Liesl told me to be happy that he had come back, and to not take it personally. "It was a beautiful day and he decided it was a good day for a run," she said. "It had nothing to do with you."

Of course, she is right. And so I will make every effort to remember this incident in the future - and not only when the situation is dog-related. 


Would you please do me a favor?

SOMETIME THIS WEEK or next, when you read one of these blogs that you like, would you please send it to one or two friends and ask them to sign up to receive it by email? I would really appreciate it. 

The email sign up box is on the right hand side of the blog -

It means a great deal to me when people read what I write, and also when they buy my paintings. The more people who see the blog, the better my chances of finding happy readers and happy buyers. 

Thank you! 

For Today

"Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation - it changes us." 

- Lawren Harris

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Australian Fairy Wren

Australian Fairy Wren / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 includes shipping

I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF an Australian Fairy Wren, but I swear, I did not make it up. I was looking for photos of wrens, and this spectacularly colored turquoise and azure and royal and sapphire blue creature showed up and blew me away. 

Usually, I only paint birds I know. I am comfortable doing that, and it makes me happy. I don't care if I paint 30 cardinals and 50 wrens, 100 chickadees and 500 robins - they are my backyard friends, and their songs, their nests, their flitting selves at my feeders help create the warp and the woof of my days. I could paint them forever, and I probably will. 

People send me bird photos all the time, and I do love looking at them. But most of the exotics that people send (and this is what they send) are beyond my skills, especially if I've never seen them in real life. 

What I like best about the bird paintings, I think, is the character and personality of the birds. Capturing those things, in the tilt of the head or the set of the beak - insouciance, or braggadocio, or jauntiness - or just a little chickadee innocence - this makes me happy. And those things are things I've learned from watching my backyard birds.

But there was something wrenny about the Australian Fairy Wren, and then, there were those colors. My brother once said to me that he thought that if blue didn't exist, I probably wouldn't be able to paint. And he might be right. 

For Today

"The chief enemy of creativity is good sense."

- Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing / Oil on black canvas / 5x7  $68 unframed

SINCE I STARTED THE BIRD-A-DAY PROJECT, I have often begun my painting day with a bird painting or two. More or less at random, I choose a bird I'd like to paint, and then go searching for photos to use as the reference. Or I start the day by going through the dozens of photos I've collected, and choosing one. And then I start to paint. 

There's no planning here, outside of the plan to make a bird painting. There is no rhyme or reason. I paint whatever I feel like painting, and, more to the point of this blog post, I paint however I feel like painting. 

Here is what occurred to me as I looked at the photo above: I've made two cedar waxwing paintings, and both of them have had an interestingly smooth look, in the bird and in the background. Here's the previous one: 

The bulk of my bird paintings don't look like this. So there must be something in the cedar waxwing itself that translates it in my mind into smoothness. It could be as simple as the implication of "wax" in the name. Nutty? Maybe. 

But who knows what causes the creative mind to swerve and dip and go in one direction or another? I know I tend to paint cardinals looking like kings, and kingfishers looking like little ruffians. My crows tend to have wild, tumultuous, loud, squawking backgrounds - or not. 

No matter what you do in life, whether you're an artist or an accountant or an architect, I hope that - at least at times - you feel you have the creative freedom to respond to your subject in the way the subject demands, or requests, or implies. 

Saturday Painting Workshop

AS LONG AS THE GREAT CONFINEMENT continues, and perhaps even after that, I'll be giving painting workshops on Saturdays at 1 p.m. Eastern. Right now, they are on my Carrie Jacobson, Artist Facebook page -

The workshops are free, and last about an hour. I use oils and a palette knife, but people use all sorts of art-making supplies and all sorts of tools. I show you how I paint, and walk you through the process - actually, I kind of hurry you through the process, so that you don't have a lot of time to overthink and overworry. 

This week, we're going to paint a photo taken by a friend. She and I have been exchanging photos of the sky, wherever we are, nearly every day for about three years now. This is in her backyard, and I think it will be very fun to paint! 

For Today

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily. 

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches. 

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled 
with light, and to shine." 

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

House Wren

House Wren / Oil on black canvas / 5x7  / $68 includes shipping


REMEMBER THE TIME BEFORE what my brother calls The Great Confinement? Of course you do - even I do, with my ever-faultier memory.

Do you remember shaking hands? Hugging? Sharing food at restaurants? Restaurants themselves?

This morning, I found myself thinking about some of the small things - like using paper towels with abandon! Oh, sure, frugal me would go a little nutty when Peter would yank off five or six paper towels to dry his hands, but aside feeding my Scottish penny-pinchingness, it was unimportant. 

Now, I find myself drying my hands on a dishtowel, usually (I despise this) - and putting damp paper towels in a basket to dry out and be used again, to wipe the floor or clean up canine indiscretions, or wipe off my palette knives. 

I haven't seen a roll of paper towels for sale here on the Shore since the beginning of March. 

And speaking of the dogs, it now falls to me to do the, uh, prospecting. At regular intervals, I walk the yard with a plastic bag and a little scooper and see what I can mine. I remember when this was the nastiest thing that could happen to my hands. Now, compared to the Covid, the nuggets seem benign. 

Some Facebook posts that have been going around have made me laugh - "Remember when we were all terrified of Romaine lettuce?" and this one - "Every time I sneeze now, I wonder if it's allergies, or if I have only five days to live."

I usually don't talk about all this virus stuff in the blog, but the paper towel thing got me going this morning. I am glad there is a little bit of a light side, from time to time. 

Be My Patron! 

FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS of Peggy Guggenheim, Charles Saatchi, Paul Durand-Ruel and flotillas of Medicis, you can become a patron of the arts! Well, you probably already are a patron of the arts - but you could become a patron of THIS artist. 

Here's how it works - you sign up to give me bits of your hard-earned cash, and you get goodies, including first dibs on my sales and my collections, free shipping on everything, even big paintings, and the delights of being in my inner circle. My patrons often give me ideas and criticism, and it's always wonderfully beneficial to me.

Best of all, you have the extra added joy of knowing that you're helping to keep me going. 

I have five patrons right now, and I rejoice in each and every one of them. 

For Today

"Paradoxically though it might seem, it is nonetheless true 
that life imitates art far more than art imitates life." 

- Oscar Wilde

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 includes shipping

GRAY AND COLD AND RAINY today, and windy - a storm in advance of the first hurricane of the season.

On Saturday, when the forecast for that day and Sunday showed temps in the low 80s, I decided to put my winter clothes away and get the summer clothes out. Yesterday afternoon, I had to  pull some of those jeans and long-sleeved shirts, and so I am dressed right, but the chill has made its way to my bones. Somehow, it often seems colder after a couple days of summery heat.

The dogs are all sleeping, and have been sleeping very deeply since our quite damp - well, OK, wet - walk this morning. I think there must be something in their little dog brains that tells them to sleep sleep sleep when the barometric pressure falls. I would wager that's because, centuries and eons ago, there was little chance of catching anything to eat when it was raining - and so, sleep was what made sense.

I made this painting while I was in Arizona, where summer came in February. I had put it in a box and forgotten about it, but found it over the weekend. It makes me think of the orange and red landscape of Arizona, the huge turquoise sky, and the weeks I spent out there with my dad and Paula, and all my Arizona friends. It feels like a long, long time ago.

For Today

Like Rain It Sounded Till It Curved

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I knew 'twas Wind -
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand -
When it had pushed itself away
To Some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road -
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad -
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud

- Emily Dickinson

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Bluebird Landing

Bluebird Landing / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


TONIGHT,  AS I WITE THIS, I am tired. My 64th birthday, my first without Peter, was Saturday, and while friends and family helped make it as happy as it possibly could be, I am glad it's over. It was the last of the first-year-without-him celebrations. And so they are done, and I am thankful.

When I went out to the studio in the morning, carrying a vase of roses to paint, and carrying my laptop, my coffee and my phone, and with the dogs running and romping around me, I heard voices singing Happy Birthday. I saw my friend Liz Ford, with two of her friends, walking across the yard. Liz is from Harborton, and was in Wachapreague playing pickle ball on our court, and the three were headed out for a walk when they saw me. Liz knew it was my birthday, and so they sang and waved and gave me long-distance hugs. 

Later in the day, my friend Liesl had a small party for me at her house, with a few friends from the neighborhood. She made two delicious cakes, and people brought presents, even though I asked them not to. 

My family called, and left video and voice-mail Happy Birthday songs. Erika called and we had a good, long talk. Ashton, my youngest grandson, gave me beautiful earrings that he bought with his own money from his Home Depot job. My sister sent me granola. Hundreds of Facebook friends wished me a happy day. Today, another friend brought cake, and there were more Happy Birthday voice mails, and people sending love and good wishes from all over. 

Truly, I am lucky to have such people in my life, who care so much about me. Thank you, all of you. You made it as happy a day as it could be. But it was exhausting - and I am glad it's over. 

Let this day, Sunday, the day after all the celebrating, be the first day of a new year. The first day of a better year - for all of us. 

For Today

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and will be lost." 

- Martha Graham

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mountain Bluebird with Delphiniums

Mountain Bluebird with Delphiniums / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 includes shipping


WOODY, THE SMALLEST of my four dogs, has a pretty huge personality. He is a stalwart little guy, weighing in at about 13 pounds, but taking up three or four times that space in character and grit.

He's 14, and he is mostly deaf and mostly blind. He can see a little, but probably just big shapes and shifting patterns of light and dark. But this doesn't faze him. He begs to go on walks with the other three, he entreats The Demons to play with him, he barks at the fence with as much ferocity as he can muster - and he has finally, after nine years, decided that the studio is not a dog-killing room, but the Best Place on Earth to hang out.

My house here in Wachapreague started its life as a grocery store elsewhere in town, and was moved to this spot about 50 years ago. It's not a big house, but it has a huge living room, which I imagine was the main shopping area of the grocery store. It's big enough that Peter had one couch, and I had another - and there's still plenty of room for a dining-room table (where we piled junk and never ate), two dog crates, a couple bookshelves, etc.

Now that Peter is gone, I want to change things. I want to move that dining room table so that in the evenings, I can sit there and make cards, or paint glassware, or do whatever crafty project I'm involved in. That means getting rid of Peter's couch. So I moved it to the back of the room, moved the dining room table, and then changed the other stuff around.

And now, of course, Woody's well-worn and well-known paths through the living room don't work.

He is not bumping into things, but he is finding dead ends. I had to show him a way around some furniture that was partly blocking one of his favorite routes. He likes to sleep under the coffee table, and it took him a while to find it. He is mixed up, uncomfortable and hesitant.

I feel much the same, about the room, about my life. Neither, right now, is the way I want it. I'm not crashing into things, but I'm not sure where I'm going, either. And like Woody, I haven't found my comfort yet.

But that little dog is a trouper, and he does not complain. He will find his way. I will, too.

For Today

"If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." 

-Thomas Edison 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Two Crows

Two Crows / Oil on black canvas / 8x10 unframed / $88 includes shipping


I HAVE A LOVE-HATE relationship with the black birds of my neighborhood. They are crows, grackles, starlings and heaven knows what else. They are big and brassy and smart and bold, and they can - and do - empty the feeder in minutes.

The feeder is really too small for them, and if they manage to land directly on it, it tips, and tips them backwards - and yet they hang on. Sometimes, two will land on the feeder at the same time, and even out the weight. I always wonder if they plan this. 

They bash and crash their wings with strength and bravado, trying to get close enough to clamp on with their claws. One bashed up against the screen this morning and hung there for a long moment, looking in, head tipped, bright eye seeming to study me. 

I will leave the feeder empty for a few days, hoping the cloud of black birds will have gone to the other end of town and stayed there, and then I will creep out and fill it. The little birds will circle, eager, hungry, and flit on the feeder and get at least some to eat - and then the first of the black birds will show up. And somehow, by some communication, some sign, some knowledge, in moments, the whole cloud will arrive. And the food will be gone. 

It is fascinating, to be sure. I love their intelligence, and the way they strut and stroll, as if they own the yard - and who is to say they don't? And who am I, anyways, to imply that the little brown birds are more important, more deserving, hungrier? 

The world plays out on my feeder. 

For Today

"I would rather die of passion than of boredom."

- Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Owl / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 including shipping


DOC AND LULU, two of my four dogs, are about 4 years old, and have lived with me for almost all of their lives. Koko is about 5, and has been my dog for almost all that time. 

Though Doc is a male, he rarely lifts his leg to pee. He's done it maybe 25 or 30 times in those four years. But last week, he not only lifted his leg three times, he also peed on Koko's head each of those times! And she let him.

Come to find out, this is not so unusual. My daughter Erika and my sister Laurie told me that their male dogs peed on their females. And I do remember that, ages ago, when Peter and I lived in Maine, we had two male dogs, Gus and Najim, who were mostly great friends but occasionally wicked enemies. In some phases, they would just pee all over, reaching for dominance. So we started locking them in their crates when we couldn't keep a careful watch over them. The crates were side by side, and in a while, they started to pee on each other through the crate. 

Well, I guess it is just us and society that says that this is a bad idea. I'm pretty glad us and society do say so. 

For Today

"An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision."

- James McNeil Whistler

Monday, May 11, 2020

Laughing Gull Over the Ocean

Laughing Gull Over the Ocean / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


I'VE BEEN SPENDING a lot of time and a lot of psychic and spiritual energy clearing out my home. 

I am deep in it - and finding that while the decisions are difficult, they are not as difficult as they were when I started. Part of that is that I am angry at the stuff itself - that it's a part of my life, that it is taking all this space and all this energy. I am angry that we hauled it all around for so long - and of course, I am angry that Peter is dead and that I'm doing all of this alone. But mostly, that's an afterthought. Mostly, I am mad at the stuff itself.

And this makes it easier to toss it. Even some of the hard stuff - a scrapbook of items from our honeymoon in France, for instance. Metro tokens from trips I don't remember, menus from restaurants I can't recall, bills from hotels where we stayed for one night or maybe five. I hadn't opened that scrapbook in 20 years, and when I opened it, I thought I couldn't possibly throw it away. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that tossing it was the right thing to do. And when I did, it felt great. It felt like relief. 

I will never forget our honeymoon. I will never forget the memorable restaurants, the hundreds of hours we walked through the streets of Paris, the photographs he took, the countryside we saw, the cathedrals we visited, the joy we shared at being together and being married. 

In the same way that Peter isn't IN the clothes that he bought, or IN the couch we put together, or IN the books he loved so much, he was not IN that scrapbook. He is in my heart, in my memories, in my soul. The stuff is just stuff - and needs to be gone. 

For Today

"To be an artist is to believe in life." 

Henry Moore

Sunday, May 10, 2020


 Raven / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 including shipping

THIS MOTHER'S DAY, Erika gave me what might be the best gift I've ever had.

After Peter died, I gave her his beloved Guild guitar. She brought it to have some repairs made, got the strings from it and had a jeweler friend of hers and mine make earrings from those strings.

They are circles, representing - according to a slip of paper in the box - "notions of wholeness and original perfection, the self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness and all cyclic movement - the infinite nature of energy, and the inclusivity of the universe.

From each circle dangles a garnet, which is Erika's and Peter's birthstone. It is also "known as a spiritual stone of higher thinking and self-empowerment. It is a stone of prosperity, abundance, strength and safety."

She also included in the package her original drawings, and the rest of the strings.

Of course, I wept.

Now I will wear these earrings and they will help me heal, help me get on with life, bringing Peter and Erika with me, the past and the future, as bright and round and eternal as can be. Every time I wear them, they will remind me of the best of life - love and faith and hope and family. And art.

Can you see? Just past the wrinkles and just before the color-growing-out hair...

An Invitation

THE MARK TWAIN HOUSE, in Hartford, CT, is a great place, important, and around the corner from where my brother and his family live. It is hosting a series of online literary events during The Great Confinement, as Rand calls it (Rand is Rand Richards Cooper, my brother). 

On Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m., Rand - who is a terrific writer and a longtime restaurant reviewer - will be reading a memoir essay about restaurants. 

To incentivize people to attend online on Tuesday, Rand is pledging to donate $5 for each person who registers for the event. The money will go to CHEF, the Connecticut Hospitality Employee Relief Fund, which gives grants to out-of-work restaurant employees. Rand will donate up to $1,000. 

So - it's for a good cause, you can make my brother pay up, and in addition, you'll hear a thoughtful and engaging essay (I've heard this one - it'd good!) 

For Today

Biological Reflection

A girl whose cheeks are covered in paint
Has an advantage with me over one whose ain't. 

- Ogden Nash

(OK, I am sure he's talking about makeup, but I prefer to think he's talking about paint.)

Friday, May 8, 2020

House Sparrow

House Sparrow / Oil on black canvas, 5x7 , unframed / $68 including shipping


I HAVE TO SAY, this might be my favorite painting that I've done so far in the Bird a Day series. 

Of course, I think that about nearly every one, as I finish, but this time, the feeling has persisted. 

I know how terrible it is to prefer one of your children to the rest - they all have good points, they all have their strengths, the things that make you love them - but this painting just makes me happy. 

I have quite a soft spot in my heart for the little brown birds, the unobtrusive ones who don't call attention to themselves, who don't hammer away, or sing relentlessly, or laugh wildly up in the sky, or kill other birds, or steal their babies. The little brown and gray birds are just a part of the backdrop of life, and I find them beautiful, in the same way that I find that patch at the side of the road at least as gorgeous as the national park a mile away. 

For Today


Today I'm flying low and I'm
not saying a word.
I'm letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I'm taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I'm traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. one of the doors
into the temple.

- Mary Oliver
From "A Thousand Mornings"

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Mama Cardinal at Her Bath

Mama Cardinal at Her Bath / oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68 includes shipping


A FRIEND FROM HIGH SCHOOL sent me a photo recently, and I based this painting on it. We had seen each other from time to time over the years, and reconnected recently, which has made me very happy. 

And it led me to think about some other longtime friends, and, really, how lucky I am that they are still in my life. There are a couple from my childhood and teen years, and a couple from college. And all of these times are way, way in the past now. 

Pretty much all of these longtime friends showed up for Peter's memorial service, and that touched my heart deeply. It's wonderful when the friends of the present reach out. It lets me know I am loved. When the friends of the past do, it is a call that echoes deep in my heart, and lets me know I have been loved. 

I am lucky to have friends of the moment and of the past who care for me, and have paid attention over the years, and reached out, and kept the friendship alive. It prompts me in these quiet days, to make calls, to reach out, to remember. 

For Today

"All art is an attempt to manifest the face of God in life." 

- Cecil Collins

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow / oil on black canvas / 4x12 unframed / $88 includes shipping


IN THIS TIME OF ISOLATION, I have come to love the long stretches of days free of appointments and obligation. It is a joy to wake up in the morning and understand, in a way I've never understood before, that today actually IS what I make it.

I love that there is less traffic. Fewer airplanes. I love that the environment is recovering, even this quickly, even with just this brief respite. Can we not learn from this, and change? 

I love that this has forced an end - if only briefly - to the rampant acquisitiveness that has become such a hallmark of American life - the constant striving to get more, earn more, be more. Yes, some of this is good - but to my eyes, it is out of control in America. Greed is not good. Really. 

I hope that this recess will curb the stupid and pointless fascination with entities like the Kardashians, Desperate Housewives, E Entertainment and the entire celebrity worship business. 

Can we not look at ourselves, our families and our happiness during these months - even if that happiness is strained, and constrained, and stressed by everything difficult about all this - can we not look at it and realize that we just don't need that crap? That our own lives are so much more interesting and so much more valuable that Beyonce's, or whoever it is that is the current ons-named darling - people whose single monikers I am pleased to say I don't know. 

I hope that we find that we no longer live in a world where a $50-per-person dinner is called "cheap."

I hope we travel less, want less, sleep more, cook more. Value our family and friends more, realize that time is worth more than money. I hope that we learn and live and understand that what we want is here, like Dorothy said, not THERE, some elusive there. 

For Today

"If all the world were clear, art would not exist."

- Albert Camus

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


Henpecked /Oil on black canvas / 11x14 unframed /  $185 includes shipping


I'M SITTING IN THE KITCHEN this morning, and the back door is open. That means the dogs can run in and out at will - and they love it. They think they are big deals, since they don't have to get me to open the door for them. Masters of their destiny. 

There aren't many days in the year when I can do this - when the temperature is not too hot or too cold, and there aren't too many bugs. Right now, Doc is standing in the open doorway, looking out, and Lulu is sitting on the top step, and they are quiet and happy. 

Those spring and fall stretches when I can leave the door open are also the stretches whenthe time and the temperature are most likely to show up as the same numbers on my little digital thermometer/clock on the kitchen windowsill. So at 5:40, if it is 54.0 degrees, the numbers are the same. At 6:10, it might be 61.0 degrees.

There's only a small window for this silliness, and I always looked forward to it and laughed, and then found that Peter also always looked for it and laughed at it. It's still a special, silly thrill, and it still always makes me smile and think of him. 

For Today

Spring Reign

Thank you whoever tuned the radio
to rain, thank you who spilled
the strong-willed wine for not
being me so I'm not to blame. I'm glad

I'm not that broken tree although
it looks sublime. And glad I'm not
taking a test and running out of time.
What's a tetrahedron anyway? What's

the sublime, 3,483 divided by 9,
the tenth amendment, the ferryman's name
on the River Styx? We're all missing
more and more tricks, losing our grips, 

guilty of crimes we didn't commit.
The horse rears and races then moves no more,
the sports coupe grinds to a stop, beginning
a new life as rot, beaten to shit, Whitman

grass stain, consciousness swamp gas,
the bones and brain, protoplasm and liver,
ground down like stones in a river. Or does
the heart's cinder wash up as delta froth

out of which hops frog spawn, dog song,
the next rhyming grind, next kid literati?
Maybe the world's just a bubble, all
philosophy ants in a muddle,

an engine inside an elk's skull on a pole.
Maybe an angel's long overdue and we're
all in trouble. Meanwhile thanks whoever
for the dial turned to green downpour, thanks

for feathery conniptions at the seashore
and moth-minded, match-flash breath.
Thank you for whatever's left.

- Dean Young

Monday, May 4, 2020

Great Horned

Great Horned Owl / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 unframed / $68


SKIPPED A DAY HERE, not because I didn't have the paintings, but because... I forgot. Me being me. 

And that is a thing I've realized about painting, Popeye - you am what you am. You paint who you are. 

If you are a detail person, painting detail is what delights you. If you're a big picture person, your painting is probably not going to focus on details. 

Some of this is obvious - if you love color, as I do, your paintings will tend to be colorful. Not such a fan of brightness? You will make quiet pieces, subtle and carefully toned. 

I think that painting, or any art, really, is a way to find out who you are - and so it works frontwards and backwards. By the time I started painting, I had already realized that I wasn't a great detail person - but I didn't understand that that was a defining part of my character. 

I've noticed, at the shows and in life, that most kids are happy, eager artists. They love to create, and they create exactly who they are. Exactly how they see the world. At about 12, a lot of them begin to measure themselves against others. Many of them leave paint and color and begin to draw. They leave fresh, bright paintings for detailed, serious, black and white pieces. Art becomes work - and guess what? They don't like doing it so much. 

It always makes me sad when I meet a kid and we start talking art and she tells me she likes to draw but she isn't very good. My best hope is that she will find the joy again, stop measuring herself against others, and just create. 

Bird a Day Video

WHILE I WAS FORGETTING to post this owl, I was making a video of the Bird A Day project so far. You can watch it on YouTube - it's pretty fun, I think! 

For Today

The Poetry Teacher

The university gave me an new, elegant
classroom to teach in. Only one thing,
they said. You can't bring your dog.
It's in my contract, I said. (I had
made sure of that.)

We bargained and I moved to an old
classroom in an old building. Propped
the door open. Kept a bowl of water
in the room. I could hear Ben among
other voices barking, howling in the 
distance. Then they would all arrive - 
Ben, his pals, maybe an unknown dog
or two, all of them thirsty and happy.
They drank, they flung themselves down
among the students. The students loved
it. They all wrote thirsty, happy poems.

- Mary Oliver
"Dog Songs"