Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Gathering For a Visit

Come sit with me in the cool shade of afternoon; thankfully I have a covered deck where we can distance safely as we visit. It's been a long hot summer and the best we can say for it is that we are still connected, still able to exchange ideas and kindnesses. But first the garden. John has been so busy. Too busy for his age but he doesn't let that slow him down.

Be careful of the stakes out here. And honeybees. Everything else is good. Help yourself to ripe figs, blackberries, anything else that calls to you. The chimney swifts are about to make their dive into our chimney. We can watch them circle and gather in as they prepare to dive in; we wake up to the hungry chatters of the babies in the living room. 

John has the misters on over the blueberries. Ah, that feels cool, doesn't it? Now I'll just be quiet and let you look. Maybe point out the names of things if I can remember them.

This is some kind of giant blackberry that wants to take over. John keeps it nice and tidy though.

Soon we'll have corn.

I'm shocked at how quickly fig trees grow. This green fig is our early girl. The black fig that we love comes much later. One is juicy and the other is drier; both of them voluptuous.

I believe we have a Grand Sasso tomato here. It looks like a lady's purse, gathered up tightly so nothing is lost. The queen of tomatoes at our house.

The humble zuchinni that gives us both fruit and flowers for recipes from south of the border. We like to make the skins into fettucine; lots of dark green vitamins for health and strength.

This tidy little flowerbed provides us with herbs as well as salvias for the hummingbirds and bees. Lots of insect and bird activity here.

Lots of varieties of peppers, I think this is jalapeƱo. John handles all the chopping of peppers so I only for sure recognize serrano. 

Amaranth. Makes a great ink and provides seeds for birds. My friends in Mexico dip it in beaten egg whites and gently fry it then cover with a delicious chili sauce. 

Wow, that was a long tour. Now for something different; I've made a video for those of you who love to play with art supplies. Nothing serious or hard; just a bit of journal fun cutting and painting and pasting as we love to do.

The password for the video is summerfun

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

July Check In

Halfway through 2020. And what a year it's been so far.

No one saw a global pandemic coming back on New Year's Eve when we made our resolutions.

John and I toasted in the New Year in Oaxaca as usual and stayed until mid March when it was apparent that the world was facing a global pandemic. 

We flew home through Mexico City where few people had started wearing masks yet; we sanitized our tray tables on the plane home and hoped for the best.

Since then it's been a strange blur as John put in the garden and I busied myself painting in the studio.

Both of us have been in full stay at home mode with only a few visits from friends and occasional hikes at a large, local park that has trails and few other hikers.

By May I realized I wasn't going to be seeing many humans for awhile and I cut off my long, heavy ponytail. That was an admission that I realized the world was in it for the long haul and that it didn't matter what my hair looked like. I started drawing cartoons in my journal of life under the pandemic. You can see them on Instagram at

I also missed a gathering in May where I was to speak (in Mississippi) and a class I was to teach (in Ireland). Very disappointing and so many of my fellow art teachers reported that they too had to cancel out of long anticipated gatherings. My grandson lost a job promotion that he's only gotten the week before and watched his dream of buying a home vanish. We realized that many others in the country were enduring difficult losses as well and of course we felt very sad for that. 

In June I cancelled another class; this one was to be in Gig Harbor with Bellissima Art Escapes teaching painting on Venetian Plaster and cold wax. 

Several weeks ago after working zealously in the studio I took a break from abstract painting and started doing a few other things.

Potting plants, a dentist appointment, Zoom meetings and visits from several friends. That felt amazing. Good. Almost like old times. But still there is this feeling of floating weirdness.

In other news, however, John's garden is amazing.

Black caps are wonderful for making ink.
And for making your tongue turn blue.

Art and the natural world sustain us; form our idea of a higher intelligence. John and I are old people now and to be frank it is the happiest time of our lives. 

Somehow we have endured the many storms and found a time of relative peace. 

This is good.

I hope to have lots of arty stuff to share next time but for now it's enough to just carry on. xo

Monday, November 04, 2019

November News

Well, I've spent the summer painting. Mostly big paintings on canvas but also 24x18" ones on paper. I really get into a groove once I get going. Functioning by 8am, 2 hours at my journal drinking coffee and counting my blessings (or untying the knots in my thinking), then breakfast and to work. That's the way it's supposed to go but I have a family and life intrudes.

However, I can usually paint every day unless Mercury's in retrograde in which case I think I've lost my touch and wonder why I try to do something so difficult when I dont have to. Why am I telling you this? Maybe because since you're here I think you are a person who grapples with self discipline as I do and that we all like to ask each other how we manage our creative lives. I'll be doing more of this as we go along.

We turned the clocks back this weekend and I noticed the persimmon tree is nearly bare now. In the summer the fruit trees looked big and lush, but now their small bones are revealed. There's some kind of metaphor in there but I'll leave it alone.

John is turning soil to plant garlic this week. I used to think gardens went to sleep when the freezing weather killed everything above ground. But no. Garlic will be planted and next month fava beans will go into the ground. So even as winter death lies all around us, beauty changed and laid to rest, the succession is already in motion for what comes next. Life is always starting anew.

I wont make this too long. I just wanted to check in. To say I am still here, still thinking of so many of you that I've walked beside and many that I haven't; to say that as long as I am here I'll probably want to talk to you. My life is pretty solitary by choice but when I am in your presence you have all of me. Because I do love people. As time passes that feeling of appreciation increases.


One more thing. I've decided to draw and collage in my journal again. For the last 3 years I've used it mostly to catalogue my paintings and "progress" whatever that is. But this weekend I worked in the journal like I used to and felt a burst of joy that told me this was one thing from my past that I shouldn't have put aside. So we'll see how it goes. Smaller works for awhile. More journal art. Sounds good to me.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

August Dispatch

Sweet summer! June and July slid by in a blur of road trips, family gatherings, hikes, summer shows, books read. I discovered that my breakfast tastes better when eaten outside, admiring the hummingbirds as they sip from the coral penstemons and rest on the purple boughs of the datura.

I've saved up some photos of the garden for those of you who enjoy seeing them. I've gotten out more than usual this summer to help with the pruning and deadheading. Those are two jobs I always love; cleaning out the beds and making everything look neat and well groomed.

John and I are really committed to eating vegan now and cabbage has been our go to since the lettuce is at the in-between harvests stage. We cook easy things together like cabbage slaw over beans and quinoa with avocado and watermelon for dessert. The secret is in adding seasonings to the greens and beans so that everything tastes good and we use lots of lemon or lime to brighten the flavors.

We've been eating lots of tomatoes too. This variety is prolific; you can see how loaded the vines are. We use a lot of them and share them to the community table downtown in our hamlet.

Lots of foxglove on our place. We are careful with it and the datura. Both plants are poisonous and need to be respected. 

I love how much our "fried egg" poppy looks like crepe paper. So delicate and big; a good hand span across.

This is amaranth that the indians used for dyeing and that I've made ink out of. It's a gorgeous color.

Here is dahlia, basil, penstemons. So pretty, the colors John puts together. He has a touch. 

These are our breadseed poppies. Very pretty and will take over the area unless you keep them in check. 

A yellow dahlia that is unusual for its dark foliage. Lovely girl; very cheerful.

How about some actual ducks? Saw this little family on one of our Sunday hikes.

Daylilies. These look like I painted the petals; they must be a new variety. We have the old fashioned ones as well.

Ah, the wonderful peaches promising pies, cobblers, peaches eaten over the sink al fresca. 

I saw this plant referred to as the zipper plant beacuse ... well, you see. There is a honey bee in there too.

A new variety of cosmos. Have grown this annual forever but not this variety. It's so pretty.

And yet another new variety of cosmos. Are you familiar with this one? It's very strong, just wonderful.

I'd better get a picture of the farmer in here. This is John and he is the most nurturing man I know. His heart is golden.

Corn and sunflowers. This is the garden as it looks today. We're on our second round of corn and the sunflowers are in many places besides this one. I have many more photos but maybe this is a good place to stop with the garden. 

I do have one of myself in my booth at an art fair this summer. It was a terrific fair and I sold many paintings. This is me being happy.

I love to show my work. My daily life is quite isolating; in general I prefer it but I also get lonely for  community so I look forward to this art fair every year. In addition, you can see all my daily paintings on Instagram under the name judywiseart. I try to post every single day.

And in general I'm not teaching as often but I do have this one awesome workshop planned that will be held in Ireland. I'm welcoming YOU to join me there; it's going to be a deep inquiry into abstract painting and I'll make myself available there for guidance on everything I know about painting, studio practice, selling, etc. 

For prices and additional information please go here. I'm hoping some new and old friends will join me; I'm so looking forward to sharing my first trip to Ireland with you, to discovering Mulranny, and to experiencing EOM studios. 

That's the news from here, friends. Thank you as always for stopping by.