Thursday, December 20, 2018


A friend wrote and asked me about our process on this piece.   First my friend and I immersed ourselves in research about the history and pre-history of this little slackwater bayou we both used to live near.  Then we got together every few weeks and began brainstorming and sketching layouts.  We also started carving eraser blocks of early flora and fauna from an 18th century book we managed to find about this very bayou!  Eventually I sawed up a large piece of birch plywood for the background print.  We spent a couple of afternoons printing the sawn block.  Then we would sit together and work side by side on two of the proofs using our collection of stamps and dome water soluble crayons and watercolors.  We’re still at that stage, going very slowly on our two proofs.  Here’s mine propped up still in process in my kitchen.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


Huddled in a corner of our porch this afternoon this robin holding perfectly still.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Why Draw?

Maria Popova says it very well in her blog Brain Pickings today:  “To draw today is to reclaim the dignity and private joy of seeing amid a culture obsessed with looking in public.”  (

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fibre Fair

I always thought an alpaca was a kind of sheep.  
An icelandic sheep on the left and a sheep being shorn on the right!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Callas Redux

In a warmer light the callas have a maple leaf red glow.  A new bloom is just unfurling.  In Western Australia calla lilies have been classified as noxious invasive weeds.  They are, on the other hand, the national flower of the island nation of St. Helena, where the native people are informally called Saints.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Calla Lilies

These blooms and leaves seem to collect moisture from the very humid air and drip the water down so that they are self-watering.  Can this be correct?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Begonia Rex Escargot- Something to Cheer You Up in Dark Times

There’s a distinct lack of scale in this drawing. This begonia is well-loved for its spiraling multi-colored leaves.  One garden center website even urged people to pinch off and discard the “insignificant” flowers so that all the plant’s energy could go into making leaves.  

I got an inch away from the little bloom so that I could research its intricacy and mysterious architecture.  I will report back when the remaining buds open.  The first to open, shown here, is a female flower.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Exotic Grape-KoolAid-Smelling Flowers

Walking along the urban trail near downtown Asheville the other day  I was awed by the amount of kudzu blanketing everything.  How we love to despise this invasive plant.  But I kept smelling a lovely grapey scent that drew me in close to the dark green overlapping leaves.  A small purple and yellow bloom hidden inside of dense foliage.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hurricane News

These unusual white morning glories are almost the last remnants of late summer in the woods.  The breeze is picking up.  The sky is greenish.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sharing With Turkeys

I came home to large fat Black Cherokee tomatoes so heavy that they were bending the plant and lolling on the ground.  Wild turkeys had poked most of them, but I think I can salvage enough to make gazpacho tonight!

Thursday, September 6, 2018


Nate and I built this mummy out of airdry clay after drawing a mummy at the Met.  Yesterday we painted the mask and coffin with acrylics, and tonight the beeswax-impregnated cloth arrived that we ordered.  We cut some bandages out of it.  Then Nate told Alexa to play “Walk Like an Egyptian” and we made a video, which is too large to post.  So here are some photos.  Tell your Alexa to play the song while you watch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Switching Channels

I’m traveling this week, up to visit family in NJ.  Above, a woman in the airport foundered by her luggage.  

We all took the train into NYC yesterday to go to the Met, a regular outing for N, but A’s first time to an art museum!  A and I drew on the train - the inset is the scene at the first station stop.  After the long exciting day the kids were sitting on the floor in Penn ststion.  When A noticed I was sketching them she started sitting still and posing (right side).  Turns out Labor Day is a good, low-crowd day to visit the Met.  N drew his favorite piece in the Egyptian galleries.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Tiny Begonia Couple

I’m leaving for NJ in a couple of hours.  These tiny begonia blooms are the first page of my travel sketchbook.  I wanted to test out the paper, and it is lovely, smooth yet lightly textured.  It was made by my former student who now owns Papercraft Miracles.  ( She made this paper, of her own invention,  in my class as an assignment, coloring it with local reddish  clay that she gathered from the site of her dormitory after the dorm had burned down.  Happily she had some sheets left that I was able to buy for this book.  Check out her site!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Balsam for Palindrome Day

Balsam has magically reappeared in my garden.  This  fragile looking plant has the amazing strength needed to prevail against the solid hedge of rudbeckia and oregano.  Notice the odd ovary that is attached to a tube that pierces the back of a petal.  The tip of the ovary develops a clump of stamens that produce pollen.  It’s easy for visiting bees, lured by the sweet smell, to transfer pollen to the tiny pistol that threads its way down to the ovary.  Everything falls off once pollination had taken place, and the numerous seeds inside the ovary ripen in harmony with the outer wall of the ovary.  As the capsule ripens it develops tanninous dehiscent lines, which split apart as soon as they are touched, giving rise to the descriptor explosively dehiscent as well as the nickname touch-me-not.

Balsam has many medicinal uses in the traditional medicines of China and Japan.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jewel Weed Like Gold Fish

Not only are they lovely but their stems and leaves crushed are a valuable antidote to poison ivy.  Rub the juice on your skin where poison ivy has touched you.  It always grows near poison ivy too.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

In the Mosquito-Ridden Rain Forest of the Front Garden

A few surprise larkspurs have prevailed against the rudbeckia and oregano and tomato jungle that is my front garden.  My friend H gave me s little twist of paper with saved seeds from her last year’s larkspurs.  I had forgotten all about them, wondered what the brave spots of violet were among all that blazing yellow and green.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Another Kind of Begonia Festival

This plant actually over-wintered in a hanging pot last winter.  The plants are monoecious as always with begonas.  The male flower is on top, female below.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Festive Synchronously Monoecious Begonia

These begonias think they’re back in the tropical rainforest from which they hail.  Our daily warm rain and humidity is exactly what they love.
And this drawing shows why they’re classified as synchronously monoecious:  the same plant produces at the same time separate male and female flowers.  On the left is a male bloom with its curly stamens;  on the right is a female with her vase-shaped ovules.  Let the party begin.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Getting Past the Bombast of Gladiolus Blooms

If I can get past the spectacular bombastic aggressive show of the gladiolus blooms in our garden, I can luxuriate in the intricate alluring complexity of the individual flowers.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Amaryllis Seed?

The seed pods grew fatter and gradually shrunk and dried out.  The tiny seeds are white and about .25mm long.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Not So Lush, the Difficult Part

The swelling ovaries of the amarylis, each lush in its own way.  I pollinated several of the blooms to see what would happen—

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Downtown Asheville, Early Sunday

My friend K and I are sitting on a bench on Eagle Street.  It is cool, slightly breezy, quiet.  The sun shines lightly on us as we draw a church down the block.
After an hour or so we amble around and find ourselves at the end of Chicken Alley.  Tucked into a tiny collection of potted plants against an old wall, these astonishing pitcher plant blooms stir gently in the breeze.  The air is quietly seething.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bloom to Seeds, Step 1

The final bloom with the swelling ovary/fruit of one of the spent blooms. 

I hand-pollinated the blooms, and this one is swelling. Stay tuned for seeds!