Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Turning toward Spring

Things are beginning to return to a normal routine here at Casa John and Judy. Each day brings us closer to spring's full flowering. We're more than ready. We live for the temperate months. 

John has spent most of the past week on his knees pulling weeds. I've been keeping the home fires burning with soups and salads. We are old and content.

Spring always reminds me of my mother-in-law whose birthday was in April. She always had a flowering garden that included daphne. I love that fragrance and it always will remind me of those days at Rose Villa where we visited her for 15 years until her passing. She was a great story teller. I miss those recollections of hers.

This above is another of my favorites; Bleeding Hearts. It isn't fragrant so it has to have a lot going for it  and it does. Delicate pendants that sway in the cool spring breezes. A shade of soft rose that shyly emerges. This one reminds me of another friend who gifted me with the plant on a birthday several years ago.

And the violets. A transplant from a friend who has drifted away. She is in my heart too as her tiny flowers spring forth to remind me of how hard we used to laugh together over so many years. But friends take different paths sometimes, despite intentions that it would be otherwise.

The daylilies are emerging. These came from a man we met only one time who told us to save for retirement. He was on the verge of retiring and trying to get more money socked away for that. It's funny. I'm not even sure how we met. Maybe to buy something off of Craig's list. But the starts he gave us live on and so does the memory of his shared wisdom.

There are new varieties of tomato and peppers growing on the warming trays in the garage. Old and new. John brings them in the kitchen to thin the herd and I whisper encouragement their way. I love these recurring events. The seeds. Then the seedlings. The way life keeps renewing itself with an unflagging vitality. 

Change is constant. I have more wrinkles than ever. More "soft pouches". And better judgment to go along with them (on most days I hope). I marvel over how much can change in only 5 years which pass quickly for me now. These things I consider while I wait for the next wave to catch me and toss me toward the life I have dreamed of, planned for and nurtured into being. I love every moment of this mystery and experience. 

Sending whispered encouragement your way as well. Ciao and abrazos.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pilgrimage in Paint - San Miguel de Allende

Every time I go to Mexico I wish that I could take every person I love there with me. Something this wonderful begs to be shared.

What's best? The food, architecture, warm and friendly people, flowers, color at every turn?

Is it the meeting of several cultures, the proliferation of art, the history of a beleagured people, a powerful spiritual presence?

In this city in particular there is a love of art, beauty unsurpassed.

There is a reason the city has been designated a World Heritage site. It is steeped in history and yet retains the quaint feeling of a village.

Were you to come to San Miguel, you would see the old beside the new. 

You'd experience smells, sounds and fragrances to sharpen your senses.

You would feast.

And feast.

And feast.

And then rest.

Katie Kendrick, Stephanie Lee and I are going to San Miguel this October just in time for Day of the Dead. 

We'll be teaching together and exploring the city for an entire week.

And you're invited to join us.

Rebecca Brooks is our generous organizer and she will take us all on a tour for one of the days.

All three of us (Katie, Stephanie and myself) will focus on drawing and painting during our time together. Many meals are included and evenings are free to explore or celebrate together. 

Here is the information in Rebecca's lovely words:

Pilgrimage in Paint
three treasured artists
three visions
a holy trinity of creativity

san miguel de allende
october 26-nov.3 2013

a week to reside in a
charming cloistered setting
just a few blocks from the jardin.
camaraderie, delicious meals, an art room available round the clock,
inspiring days in the studio with the incomparable
judy wise , stephanie lee and katie kendrick
tucking us safely under their wings
and excursions into the always delightful 
san miguel de allende.

 the art of seeing

armed with journals, sketching tools, cameras and curiosity

we will step outside the courtyard and into the jardin,

the heart and pulse of san miguel.

judy will be our guide as we strengthen the lens of present moment seeing
capturing the world around us,
instilling ease and enjoyment in the powerful and reflective
art of drawing.

back in the art room judy will help us marry our renderings with 

a strong collection of her personal favorite techniques 

employing collage, acrylics, hot  wax, and mysterious layering.
connecting us to the world we inhabit through the ultimate joy of creating.

legacy in texture

stephanie will guide us in the inquiry of texture and surface patterns
as we draw on the legacy of ancient and modern carpenters and abode builders of Mexico
to recreate the energy of San Miguel in plaster and wax.

we will look to light and shadow,
sky and vegetation, buildings and people,
to create studies in texture and color that we will finish
with luminous layers of wax.

with simple tools in hand,

we will create conversations in mark making within the layers of our mediums

to honor and represent all the layers of legacy that guide us
using some of our creations to create a tiled portfolio
to contain all our works from this beautiful week.

awakening inner visions

katie will lead us on an interior journey within the contours of our hearts.
together we will explore our inner creative world
fueled by the inspiration of san miguel,
with a nod to the divine, 
creating a  retablo dedicated to the sacred feminine within us all.

with cardboard, acrylics, graphite, collage and love
katie will unleash our passion, awakening
our inner muse with wild abandon.

On our final class,

Judy, Katie, and Stephanie will converge to collaboratively guide us

through the final stages of completion of our works
as well as the construction of a painted pouch that,
up to that point, will have been a working surface that we will transform into
a narrative closing chapter to our shared pilgrimage in paint

judy, stephanie and katie
all wrapped up in the arms of exotic san miguel!

Katie Kendrick lives along the banks of the Tahuya River in western Washington, surrounded by the Tahuya State Forest. The peaceful beauty of the nature that surrounds her is a constant source of inspiration and nourishment for her creative spirit. She finds art making to be one of the most powerful ways to connect with her innermost essence, while at the same time discovering her authentic voice. She enjoys the experimental and intuitive layers of creating, where she can explore inner and outer worlds simultaneously. She has a passion for sharing her love of creating with others, and teaches mixed media workshops across the U.S. Her work has been featured in several books and magazines and her book, “Layered Impressions: A Mixed-Media Approach to Painting and Poetry”, was released in 2012. You can learn more about her and her work

I am a professional artist, workshop instructor, and creativity encourager. I never let the comment “I’m not a creative person” be spoken without a bold yet gentle inquiry. I know that creativity shows up with more color variations than a Rubik’s Cube and my job (and joy) is to help you find yours.
I thrive on digging for truth, dancing in the answers, and making art that embodies all of that. I bring all that I am - homesteader, food preserver, speaker, wife & mom, loyal friend, and master mess-maker to the classrooms where I teach, both brick + mortar and virtual. I take the lead long and strong enough to give you what you need to take off and run on your own bringing all that you are to your own beautifully creative life.
Having taught sold out workshops all over the United States and internationally, I’m often humbled and inspired by the power of collective creative energy and support and am here to pay that forward. On my less-messy days, I stand in front of audiences creating art with my words, to bring each listener into a place of solid, fiery confidence in their own creative adventures.
You can learn more about me on my blog as well as glean some new skills from my books “Semiprecious Salvage” (Northlight Books, 2008) – an adventure in making found object jewelry, and "Plaster Studio" (Northlight Books, 2011 – co-authored with Judy Wise).  visit me at  semiprecious salvage

Judy Wise is an Oregon artist who has worked as a printmaker and painter for nearly three decades and has kept daily journals of her writing and art since childhood. She is a painter, printmaker and mixed media artist who teaches creativity workshops across the United States and abroad. As a passionate lover of all things artful her greatest joy is helping others find their unique place in world of creativity enjoying a deeper experience of life through art, connection to others and spirituality. You can find her

in a variety of mixed-media books including Taking Flight, Creative Time and Space, Embracing Encaustic, 1000 Journal Pages, and Interactive Art Workshop, and Plaster Workshop which she co-authored with Stephanie Lee. but mostly you will find her in the hearts of countless others. You can find her  at

San Miguel de Allende
High in the Sierra Madre Mountains in the state of Guanajuato
waits the 400 year old colonial town of San Miguel de Allende.
Rich tradition, exotic colors, enticing aromas,
where the old and contemporary converge in a rich offering of art, culture and charm.
San Miguel sits on a hillside,
with inspiring vistas and glorious architecture.
Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site,
San Miguel de Allende is a bustling colonial community with a perfect climate and elevation of 6,300 ft.
 Visitors are greeted with blooming flowers,
fresh air, blue skies, cobblestone streets, rich colonial architecture,
gourmet restaurants and an experience to savor forever.
I am honored to be your hostess for
Pilgrimage in Paint
oct. 26-nov. 3. 2013

workshop includes
welcoming party, eight nights accommodation, delicious breakfast and lunch as a family each day,
group transport from Leon, Guanjuato to San Miguel
and transport back to airport at the end of our retreat,
group adventures, most art supplies, and the inspiration of a lifetime.
room for 10 

 please email Rebecca for more details 
recuerda_mi_corazon at
con abrazos,

thank you for your over whelming enthusiasm
this workshop is now filled!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Melbourne and Cold Wax eBooks

Two announcements today in my ongoing effort to get caught up. The first is about my upcoming trip to Australia. The Jervis Bay class has filled but there is still space in the Melbourne class (link here). This will be my first trip down under and I'm really looking forward to finally coming face to face with many online friends that I've met there. I absolutely love meeting other artists and exchanging ideas, friendships and experiences.  I hope you will consider joining me in Melbourne.

I dug up a few cold wax paintings to tempt you.

Everybody has their own "favorite thing" to love about working in cold wax. For me it is the ability to carve into the paint, to build and deconstruct the painting over and over.

One of my online class explorers commented that you can do everything with cold wax that you can do with hot wax and I thought that was a great way of putting it. It's the most versatile of media and you don't have to use a lot of special equipment.  

My second announcement is that the cold wax eBooks arrived yesterday and the first batch has already gone out in the mail. So if you're unable to come to my class in Melbourne (or any other cold wax class that you've heard of) you can purchase the eBook here and study in your own studio. The class has gotten very good unsolicited reviews from the people who took it; I think you'll like it too. 


Saturday, March 16, 2013


I've been away. Have spent the past month in Oaxaca, studying Spanish, sketching, resting. Eating. Drinking in the colors, sounds and beauty of an advanced culture. 

 I know that's not the perception that our media gives but it's true. Mexico has many problems as we do in the U.S. but in the realm of human kindness they are most advanced. I am always humbled and learn so much from my visits there.

I think after 675 blog posts since April of 2006 (7 years!) I needed a break. It was nice to be quiet and away from Facebook and the computer (mostly). It's reassuring to know the roof wont fall in if I take a break. And the best part was being a student for a change. A student of the Spanish language at which I am a complete dunce. It helps me to know how it feels to be a beginner. It made me very shy.

And I am playing catch up now. I have a basket full of announcements that will be coming in the next few weeks. I'll be teaching less this year; I just passed another birthday and keep trying to retire but then this "just one more" keeps happening to me so I go on. 

Here are some recent journal pages. I didn't take many art supplies to Mexico so they're kind of heavy on writing.

I was really glad to get home to my studio again. Especially my paints which I missed.

I've unpacked and studied Spanish every day since my return but this is the first step in reconnecting with friends. Next comes answering e-mails. Oye, the list!

More faces. 

Joined Mary Ann in a little sketch party before I left. I've experienced a renewed interest in sketching of late. It was my primary creative outlet as a child; drawing people and making up stories in the solitude of my bedroom, lying on the cool cement floor of the Arizona desert. I plan to do more ...

A mi, me gusta dibujar.

Hasta luego!