Acrylic on Canvas
As I was driving home one day, there was a segment on National Public Radio asking prominent people about their favorite songs of the winter season. This interview was with dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones whose favorite song was “Der Leiermann” (The Hurdy-gurdy Man), the final piece in Franz Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter’s Journey). The song was haunting and stuck in my mind. At the time, I was artist-in-residence at Wesley Theological Seminary, and had taken several unfinished canvases to the art studio to complete in the glorious light that streamed through the big picture window. One of the pieces had languished in my basement for several years. It was a winter scene, but I could not figure out how to finish it. After hearing the interview, I knew exactly what to do. In the segment, Mr. Jones said that the song reminded him of seeing his father walking through a snowstorm to work, a lonely figure in a snowy landscape. As the interview closed, Mr. Jones opined, “There’s something about art that can be, yes, depressing, but helps us bear the pain through the sheer beauty and intensity.” Franz Schubert and Bill T. Jones have each created intense and beautiful art. It is hard not to be inspired by their work.
Note: While studying art history at State University of New York at New Paltz, I took German and spent a summer in Europe. That is where the idea of finding a career that would allow me to live and work abroad took form. Although I never got to serve in Europe during my diplomatic career, German culture remained a life-long area of interest.
Gouache on Watercolor Paper
West Virginia Zen
Mixed Media: Gouache & Ink
In March 2012, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of blooming cherry trees to the American people. There were celebrations all over the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. The experience served as an inspiration when I took a course in Zen Design at Montgomery College’s School of Art & Design with collage artist Patricia Zannie.
On a weekend trip to West Virginia, early in the semester, the friends we were visiting took us to a state park where trees and bushes were just beginning to bud or put out tiny leaves. Sitting on a rock by the stream, I sketched a number of the plants. Days later, I traveled to New York, spending a day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET). After wandering from section to section, I ended my visit in a gallery that exhibited small works on paper, prints and drawings. As I looked around the room, a gouache piece that featured a weeping cherry tree caught my eye. Making a quick sketch, I pondered how I could integrate that image into a new piece.
In the end, I combined one of the West Virginia bushes, along with the MET’s weeping cherry to produce West Virginia Zen.
View From My Room – San Salvador
Acrylic on Canvas
One of the nicest homes I ever lived in was the Public Affairs Officer residence in the capital of El Salvador. It had a large yard with a covered patio. Our family took many meals outdoors because the weather was so beautiful. I never tired of our view of the volcano–sometime shrouded in clouds, other days sporting rich shades of green in the bright sunshine. Before leaving San Salvador, I captured it on canvas so that it would always be with me.
Scars That Cannot Be Hidden
Acrylic on Canvas
We all carry scars. They come from the effects of slights or injuries suffered in the past. We are good at hiding them most of the time. But every so often the show through. The challenge is to NOT let them rule our lives. To learn from these experiences and become stronger and better people. Scars That Cannot Be Hidden was inspired by the varied patterns of African arts and crafts, and a canvas with an underlying pattern that I wanted to paint over.