When you refer to an event as an annual one, doesn’t that imply repeat performances, like, again next year? That is my hope.

 A substantial but modest cabin and a studio space with an exquisitely stained sink were home base for two weeks this past month.  The studio sink, imbued with the perfect image of a messy paint brush, was a talismen as I found my way into a 14-day intensive studio practice. Painting, daily walks in the forest and on the beach, photography, some dancing and reading – my second annual residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, Washington.

During those two weeks I literally watched an early spring begin. Significantly more light each day, buds everywhere and finally daffodils and cherry blossoms. My own reawakening as well, I suppose.

Sunrise light shows.

Centrum 2015 Centrum 2015 10

Buds became blossoms.

Centrum 2015 Centrum 2015 8

Alluring sea grass, and stones.

Centrum 2015 4 Centrum 2015 (1)

Muddy boots and forest mysteries.

Centrum 2015 5 Centrum 2015 3 (1)

Centrum 2015

The stain in this studio sink delivers a resounding message to every visiting artist: make a mess and march on. Which I did.

Centrum 2015 1 Centrum 7

Same time, next year.

Centrum 2015 9

Orange-Cornmeal Sandies. My friend Linda gave me these cookies for Christmas, a tin full of delicate, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth morsels. That these cookies came to me in the form of pigs should have been a hint. But no.

To say that I liked them is an understatement. My husband now swears he never had a single one, he implies that I might have kept them secret, which I would probably never do. I say I tried my best to share them and that they sat on the kitchen table for a week, or maybe it wasn’t quite a week. Anyway, I’m pretty sure he had a shot.

pale pink roseValentines Day is around the corner and I plan to redeem myself. Different celebration, a different cookie cutter, same recipe and with a touch of chocolate if you like. A mouthful of buttery, orangey, crunchy, delicious love, cookie kisses, a fine indulgence for my Valentine. He’ll have his own private stash this time.

Mexican Orange-Cornmeal Sandies (Cookies) Recipe

Ingredients: Stir dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: 2 C flour, 1/4 C cornmeal, 1 t salt, 1/4 t baking powder/ Put 1 C sugar and 1 C unsalted butter in the mixer/ Set aside 2 egg yolks, 1 T orange zest, 1 t orange extract (or 1 t vanilla), 1/4 C finely ground walnuts (optional).

cornmeal sandies

Directions: In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light in color and thoroughly mixed/ Add egg yolks and mix until creamy/ Add dry ingredients, mix/ Add zest, extract and walnuts if using/ Mix just until everything is well blended/ Remove from bowl and divide in two/ Make two flattened disks, wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form cookies: Remove one disk from the refrigerator/ Prepare an area for rolling the dough sprinkled with a little flour and a little extra/ Place disk on floured surface, turn over so that there is flour on both sides/ Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out, turning frequently and adding more flour as needed, until dough is 1/4″ thick.

With a cookie cutter cut out shapes and place them on a cookie sheet/Use all the leftover pieces, form smaller disks, refrigerate again if needed, and use every last bit of dough!/ Cutout cookies can be placed closely together for baking, but not touching as cookies will expand a little/ Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until edges begin to brown/ Mine took 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and after a couple of minutes transfer baked cookies onto wire racks for cooling/ After they have cooled dip a corner of some of the cookies in melted chocolate if you like, though my friend Linda warned, rightly so I think, that chocolate can overwhelm the delicate flavor of the cookie. So, take it easy. Or not./ Chocolate dipped cookies can be placed back on the wire rack until chocolate hardens.

 

Pack a beautiful box or a cookie tin with these babies and valentine somebody. Some of us need redemption and this could be the answer, or we just want to say I love you with a delicate cookie, like a kiss. I send one to you dear Reader.

metal heart

* My friend found this recipe in The Oregonian in December, 2006.

 

Last weekend we woke up with the chickens, rendezvoused, drove north from Seattle through a somber Skagit Valley and ferried to Orcas Island.

Thirty-six hours there, then home again, starting with IPhone snapshots from the car window, a ferry ride, and a walk in the woods. That evening we attended an island photo show featuring some of Poppy’s photos (she was a hit!), dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and the next morning a visit to the island’s artisanal fair in Eastsound. What are friends for but to keep the other company during certain adventures?

Skagit Valley Skagit drive

Skagit Valley snapshots out of the car window.

 Skagit Valley Skagit Valley

Looking out the ferry boat’s rain-dropped window toward Lopez Island.

From the Ferry

a walk in the woods

Lake Killebrew was thawing from a week of deep freeze temperatures. Beautiful in its foggy, moody state.

Walk in the woods

the pond

DSC_1346 our walk in the woods 2 walk in the woods

We took off down the road, then along an old path and found what we found.

walk in the woods our walk in the woods our walk in the woods 4

DSC_1343     our walk in the woods 5     our walk in the woods 3

A heavenly respite, time together and in the woods.

Skagit Valley Drive Thru

Headed home.

Forest walk

                                                                                     HEAVEN.

For two amazing weeks, life was a studio, surrounding forest and a beach, painting, walking, biking and reflection.

Centrum 2 Centrum 4

Studio windows brought in winter light, sunshine and shadow.

the studio  Centrum 1

Centrum 5 Centrum 6

Centrum 7 Studio

Music and dancing, brisk sunny mornings, shadow and light, deer at ease, devoted to nibbling. Poetry in the air.

winter grass, Fort Worden

Winter Escape Centrum 9

Fort Worden

 

Fort Worden Centrum 10

 

Centrum 19 Centrum 2 (1)

Centrum 13

Centrum 15 Centrum 16

Same time next year. Fingers crossed.

Lady in the sand Centrum 3

 

At first it was about participating equally in projects. We (Poppy & Sally) would each contribute something and then fiddle to find a way to combine and make separate ideas work together. Fairly soon we noticed that our points of view might be different, as our photography is different, but decisively compatible. Such collaboration characterizes our professional relationship and our friendship. We usually arrive on the same page even when we start from different places. When we don’t, creatively-speaking, that’s a blessing too.

Our separate photographic archives are the source of monthly diptychs. Without any initial discussion, we each choose a few photo possibilities for that month, then select two, one from each of us, that harmonize in some indescribable way.  The result is a pair, a diptych, that we both like.

In this way we’ve been creating diptychs for our Mixed Greens blog for six years now. Here are a few of many.

Rose Hips  Wild Turkeys

Dried Hydrangea  Cafe

Tomato Caprese  Greenlake Kayaks

Lemon Squeezer  Hummingbird

Cecil Bruner Rose   Reeds in Water

Little Pink Dress   Chocolate Tofu Pudding

 

 

 

Last March I started a new practice – take a photo every day, print it, pin it up on a board and notice the patterns that emerge. In the city, on the island, in the car – no matter where I am, I can see my own point of view more clearly when I take it out of the camera, off the computer screen and put it on paper. I’ve found the different aspects of my life fit together and make sense instead of feeling scattered and compartmentalized. Letting go of judgement of what I’ve created, following my intuition, letting it guide me, going back to the same spot over and over, taking a different route than normal, working toward my 10,000 hours to perfect my craft – these lessons and much more, all from this simple practice. Here are some of my latest favorites.

Christmas Shop Window  Water Droplets on Smoke Tree

Shop Window with Mirrors  Frozen Lake

Rusty Barn Door  Reflection in Frozen Lake

House with Star Light  Water Droplets on Smoke Tree

Log Jam  Building in Ballard

Wreath in Shop  Young Buck

Orange Cafe Chairs and Tables  Madrona Berries

Winter Sunrise  Lighted Santa in Bar

When the New Year begins, I encourage you to find a practice of your own – make your mark, do your doodle, find your rhythm, move your body, live YOUR life.

Happy Holidays!!

 

 

 

fun we had this summer (1)

Camping on Orcas.

Orcas Island fun we had this summer 2 (5)

fun we had this summer 1 (8)

Lemonade for the neighborhood.

fun we had this summer 1 (3)

Mt. Rainier hikes from Paradise and Sunset.

Fun we had this summer 1  fun we had this summer 2 (4)

Picnics.

fun we had this summer 1 (1)

Kids, hikes, the smokey Sierras, a mountain wedding.

fun we had this summer 7 fun we had this summer 2 (1)

fun we had this summer 8

Balaklava Island, north of  Vancouver Island. Sunbathing and reading on the rocks.

fun we had this summer 3 (4) Fun we had this summer 3

fun we had this summer 3 (3)

Isn’t it about time to hibernate?

Sally and I want to use our blog not only to show you our new work but also to give you a peak into our creative process, thus the “studios” in our title. We believe a space to make art can be wherever you make it. We hope you’ll be able to use some of our ideas to spark your own creativity.

   

While an art studio outside of our homes would be a dream come true, I’m lucky enough to have a room that also serves as a guest bedroom. Sharing with guests hasn’t been a problem but up until now, it’s felt more like an office and less like a place to make art. Working with a small budget and a very handy husband, I’m so excited about my “new” space and wanted to share my ideas with you while it’s still so clean and orderly.

Step one was to clear the decks. I have a great corner desk but at least 75% of my potential workspace was covered with books, papers, notes, gear — you know what I’m talking about. One objective is to have a surface for ongoing art projects that can be left out. Of course, now I needed a place to store all the stuff that had been on my desk. I knew a trip to Ikea was in the cards but I did some planning and careful measuring before going, which helped with the overwhelm factor. You can even check online and make sure your item is in stock. A tall narrow bookcase with fabric storage containers took care of most of the desktop clutter.

My next challenge was what to do with my rather large Epson printer. I have an everyday printer that sits in the dead space on my desk behind my computer. We came up with a super-inexpensive solution although it took a little magic on Charlie’s part. I bought the least expensive coffee table I could find. Charlie cut the legs off to make it fit under the desk and added casters — not that easy because the legs are hollow. He plugged the ends with wood to have something to attach the casters to.

Now whenever I need the printer, I can easily pull it out to use it. It’s close to the computer and power source and even has a shelf below for paper.

The most exciting new addition to my studio is 4 magnetic boards to use as a pinboard. One thing I’ve learned about my creative process is that I like to have things out where I can see them, I want to be able to easily change things around and there needs to be some order to the chaos. These boards are perfect for photos, magazine cut-outs, leaves — whatever you want to add to your ongoing collage. I was inspired to pull out some film prints created years ago in my basement darkroom and add those to some magazine photos and some of my newer work. I’ve just barely gotten started but it’s much more fun than I imagined it would be and gives me a break from staring at the computer screen.

   

Here’s one last tip for you. Several years ago Charlie built several shelves in the existing closet. I added my favorite black paint to the sliding doors and now I have plenty of storage space but no added clutter.

Ahhhh…. now I feel like I concentrate. If you do nothing more than clean off the top of your desk or work table, I promise you’ll feel the difference.