What is it I am trying to evoke in my artistic endeavors?

I seek to portray a natural world that vibrates and sings, but also soothes and heals the soul. I believe that when we are truly attentive to and appreciative of the Spirit of Place it offers us sanctuary and becomes a refuge from the intensity of daily life, even if momentarily.

Watercolor painting for me is like swimming in a luminous ocean of color where I surrender and trust the intuitive urge. Accordingly, I may blend hues in a certain way or pour the paint on in layers, allowing the different colors to touch and transform each other. Each layer increases the textural richness, the depth, and the overall harmony of the piece. The end result is usually something very sensorial. At times I feel like a dancer whose striated muscles and tone reflect a body/mind/spirit perfectly attuned to her craft. A painting is not complete until the unity of the Japanese concept of kinobi is achieved: where nothing more can be added or taken away.

Photography has been an essential part of my life for over forty-five years, including a BFA in Photography from the University of Illinois. Life without my camera would be the equivalent of a garden without rain. For many years I was content to document the world around me – compelling people, places, and events. I worked as a ski photographer in Aspen, a documentary photographer in Appalachia, and a photo instructor in Illinois, Colorado, and Washington. I have especially enjoyed capturing the beauty of garden sanctuaries around the world, and creating inspiring slide presentations for gardeners who want to deepen their connection to nature and their own soul.

A few years ago, I left the ranks of more traditional photographers, surrendered to digital photography, and began exploring a brave new style. Influenced by the stunning beauty of Cortesia, the wild, ridge top nature sanctuary where I live with my husband, I have become fascinated with capturing the essence — perhaps best called the spirit or soulfulness —of an object or place. As in my watercolors, I play with rich, saturated colors and textures that fairly leap off the page. My images vibrate with movement and song, drawing you into an instinctive, experiential relationship with them, free of intellectual constraints.

Writing about the beauty and mystery of life is a natural outgrowth of my art. They are two sides of the same coin. My essays focus primarily on what I call “sanctuary moments”, those everyday experiences in which a poignant truth is revealed. I believe this type of clarity and insight comes often to those who pay close attention to the simple things around them – the passing of the seasons, the shifting light, the expression in a person’s eyes. We have so many teachers and so much to learn, if we choose. My personal goal is to expand and transform my perceptions so that I recognize the wisdom around me, take it in deeply, and communicate this in my writing, be it through short stories, full-length books, or brief poetic haikus.

If you would like to know more about my writing as a bestselling author in the areas of gardening and sanctuary, please visit www.cortesia.org (beginning 2007, look for its evolution into www.onesanctuary.com.). On this website, I humbly offer a smattering of short stories, poetry, and haikus.

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