Wild Things


“There are some who can live without wild things

and some who cannot.”

-Aldo Leopold













I’ve been keeping a sort of Wildlife Life List over the years, and it has become fairly complete with local species—with one notable exception: Gray Wolf. This is not surprising, they were extirpated from Washington in the 1930s and only reappeared a few years ago. Since then, I’ve kept track of their surprising progress, and I’ve wondered if I’d ever get to see one. More than any other animal, I’ve wanted to see a wolf.

This nation once exterminated wolves with such extreme prejudice, it feels symbolic of the broader disregard for nature that has landed us in our current environmental mess. Now, we’re on a planet facing serious trouble. But, the return of wolves feels like a hopeful sign, a small step toward a more balanced state. I may be a dreamer, but I think if we can learn to coexist with a species as challenging and controversial as wolves, there might be hope for wild nature after all.

And maybe for us, too.


A watercolor sketch of a wolf I did for a previous post, Gray Wolf. Nature is messy, inconvenient and unpredictable. Can we learn to live with wild things?


Last weekend, when my family and I had a possible wolf sighting, I was thrilled. And it wasn’t just one wolf, but three of them. A pack.

In all honesty, we’re not one-hundred percent sure it was a true sighting. Wolves look a lot like coyotes—except they are twice the size—and at a distance it’s hard to tell the two apart. Still, we had a pretty good look at them, and they just didn’t look like coyotes. There was something about their behavior and the way they moved—not slinky like the familiar coyote, but smoother, straighter, and more powerful-looking. Even more compelling, the next day we found 5-inch tracks nearby that were undoubtedly wolf, scat that was possibly wolf, and the kicker: Washington’s newest pack, the Wenatchee Pack, had an official Washington Department of Wildlife “Confirmed Sighting” a few months ago in Pitcher Canyon, just several miles to the south. There is no doubt…wolves are in the ‘hood.

So, there you go. Whether it was a true sighting, or just my own dreamer-self needing wild in the world, I’m adding Gray Wolf to my List.



I painted this coyote for a project. Coyotes are half as big as wolves, have a narrower snout and larger, pointed ears. To me, the animals we saw didn’t look coyote-like.



This is an unretouched photo of one of the tracks we found. It measured about 5 inches from the bottom of the pad to the top of the claw marks. Click here to see a comparison of wolf vs coyote vs dog tracks.

















The following story is a short sketch of our suspected wolf sighting last weekend. It’s all completely true…except for the obviously imaginative parts.




He was expecting us, of course—wild animals are far more in tune with the world than we are. He probably knew the moment we stepped out of the cabin door—all four of us talking and laughing, thoroughly enjoying our weekend-getaway in the Eastern Cascades.


A quick watercolor sketch I did of the meadow as viewed from the cabin. Those are the Three Brothers in the distance.


My husband and I and my brother and sister-in-law were heading out for a sunset stroll to the old pioneer homestead where there’s a good chance of spotting the elk herd. Dusk and dawn are the best times for wildlife-watching, and the herd often comes out of the forest for an evening graze. Just that morning we had watched a bull elk with a magnificent rack of antlers saunter across the meadow like a king. At night, we’d hear the bulls bugling their love-calls to the females. It was a haunting sound, a little plaintive for such a regal animal. “Please, baby, pleeeease baby, pleeeee-eeeee-eeeee-eeee-eeeeese!!!”



A detail of a watercolor illustration I did of a bull elk. At full size, the large males are eight feet tall.


We didn’t know it then, but we wouldn’t be seeing any elk in the meadow—they were hesitant to leave the forested cover. It was a good decision, because three of Nature’s supreme top predators were on the move, and they’d love nothing more than killing and devouring an elk. Gray wolves had not been seen in these parts for the better part of a century, but they were here now, and the elk were naturally nervous.

I imagine the scene…

…the wolves were bounding up from Pitcher Canyon, adrenaline and anticipation fueling their almost-flying gait. They knew the elk were nearby, the mountain air was saturated with elk-scent, and the constant bugling was like a beacon. The leader realized it was a long-shot—dangerous even. After all, an eight-foot bull elk deep in the frenzy of the rut would be a poor choice for prey. But still… there might be a sickling or a young one from the herd they could take.


Anyway, even if the hunt failed and they resorted to scrounging for mice or carrion, it would be worth it, just to feel like a pack. For most of his life he had run solo, existing on nothing but his wits, luck, and smaller, easier prey like beaver, rabbits and occasionally a deer. Then one day not long ago, a female had appeared, a straggler from a pack whose territory ran to the west, closer to the Cascade peaks. The two had forged the bonds of a breeding pair, ideally a partnership that would last their whole lives. Soon another female joined them, a younger sister to his mate and not yet fully mature. Now they were a pack of three. It was an important accomplishment—as a pack, they could support each other while they scouted out territory, a place with good prey where they could raise up new generations. Plus, now they could really hunt.  Since time began, wolves have practiced the art of cooperative hunting: assessment, strategy, and teamwork. It was high time to hunt like wolves.


But as the three wolves scrambled up from the forested canyon and trotted into the open expanse of grasses, the leader paused. Deep in his awareness, an alarm was being raised. He scanned the distance and, about a half-mile away he could see five or six dens, the kind used by only one species. Uprights.


He signaled to the others to take cover while he went to investigate. Following his nose, he found a good spot and took position, holding his head high and letting his nostrils flood with hundreds of the incomprehensible scents that always exuded from Uprights. The wind shifted and now he could hear them, and he perked his ears to capture their vocalizations, rising and falling from chirpy to booming and back again. None of it made sense, but still, he took note of every detail.


He stood stock-still with all senses on full-alert as they rounded the bend and came into view. Ah. Just as he expected: four Round-Headed Uprights. Adults. Two male, two female.


The four of us strolled from behind a grove of ponderosas into the open. The rutted road led to the old pioneer homestead, now just an aspen-ringed clearing on a small rise above the meadow. I was lost in thought, imagining pioneer life in such a place. What would it be like, coming outside on a frosty morning to milk cows or hitch up the wagon and facing such a landscape: meadow, mountains and forest, all arranged like a carefully composed oil painting. It was almost too beautiful to be fully natural. How did they focus on chores with such a view?

I felt someone grab my arm.  Ralph was pointing to a spot straight ahead in the grasses.

“Coyote!” he whispered.

We all froze, and someone whispered, “who’s got the binos?” Each one of us —even though we knew better—had forgotten to pack decent binoculars. All we had was a flimsy loaner pair, shared between the four of us. We had been kicking ourselves all weekend for being such idiots, since we knew full well the cabin is a terrific place to see wildlife. The large camas meadow, with grasses, wetlands, and aspen groves, is ringed with ponderosa pines and Douglas fir forests—all just a hop and skip from the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Usually, we saw elk, sandhill cranes, coyotes, bear, deer, owls, hawks, songbirds, snakes…you name it. A weekend at the meadow was like a mini-African Safari, Northwest-style.

And yet, we had forgotten binoculars.

“Oh, well…it’s better this way,” Fran had said as we started our walk. “It’s always when you forget your good binoculars that you spot something really cool.”

“Yeah, and at least we remembered the beer,” my brother Mark had added.

And sure enough, in the tall brown grass a hundred or so yards in front of us, we all saw him: a large grayish canine body standing with ears perked up and aimed straight at us like little radar dishes. He was obviously assessing us, reading our scents and our postures.

“Give me the binoculars!” Ralph hissed.

As I blinked to focus my naked eyes, I was struck by something about him I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

“Strange coyote,” I said.

“I don’t think that’s a coyote,” Ralph said, his voice quavering just a bit. “Look at the size of him. Oh man…it’s gotta be a wolf.”

“A WOLF! Oh, let me see!” I squealed.

For the next few moments, the four of us fumbled around, passing the binoculars, and whispering as if to not give ourselves away. It was kind of silly since the animal was already fully zeroed-in on us.

“Do you think it’s really…”

“I can’t quite tell…”

“Oh geez, he’s looking straight at us…”

Suddenly, as if distracted by something in the distance, his head swiveled sharply sideways. Then he bounded off through the grasses.

“Darn, he’s gone…he ran off into those trees…I lost him…”

“There he is! He’s right there! Oh my god, here comes ANOTHER one! Look, they’re nuzzling each other!” The two wolves were sidling up against one another, brushing their bodies and faces together.

“Look! I see a third! There’s THREE of them!”

When it was my turn with the binoculars, I saw a smaller wolf run up to join the larger two.

“The third one looks playful, like a pup,” I said. “He’s…bouncy!” I was so excited I couldn’t think of the technical term and reverted to Pooh’s descriptor for Tigger.

The three wolves congregated for a few moments, then the leader took off, heading north toward the far end of the meadow.

“Look at that stride,” Ralph said. “Coyotes don’t move like that.”

It was true. There was something distinctly different about the posture and gait of these animals—they didn’t slink like coyotes, but ran smoother and straighter.



The male had decided: the pack would move on. With Uprights here, this was not the time to go after elk, especially since there were only three of them to work the hunt. They would head north into the forest, and if they were lucky, they might be able to catch and kill a deer.


As he ran, all thoughts receded from his animal mind until there was nothing but the sensory input of the world and its creatures. He took it all in, instinctually searching for his own place in the midst of it all.


Now that they were a pack, he had a better chance of finding it. They all did.



Seeing the wolves head north, we raced back to the cabin and settled ourselves out front where we’d have a good view—if the wolves continued on their trajectory they’d pass right in front of us.

As the sun sank deeper the gold sky seemed to dissolve, slowly revealing the blackness of infinite outer space. The meadow became drained of color until it was a silver expanse surrounded by shadowy forest. It seemed like the perfect place for wolves to hide in wait for prey to appear.

We waited in silence and I noticed that the birds and other wildlife seemed to have vanished—it was suddenly dead-quiet. I began to feel chilled from the light wind blowing down from the mountains. It had been a while…had we missed the wolves? Or, were they maybe in the forest taking cover for an ambush?

“Just think,” I whispered to Fran. “Maybe we’ll see the wolves take down an elk!”

She looked at me with widened eyes, and I couldn’t tell if she was intrigued or horrified by the thought. The scene started to play out in my imagination… the terrified screams of the elk as he struggled against the snarling hunters. I shivered. Did I really want to witness such a thing?

“There he is!” Ralph whispered as we watched a wolf dart across the meadow and into the woods on the north side. “That looks like the young one catching up—the other two probably went ahead. I think they’re gone now.”

Thirty minutes later it was pitch dark, the sky steadily filling up with stars. I got up and walked back up to the cabin and started getting things ready for dinner. Mark and Ralph got the fire going.

“Where’s Fran?” I asked as I set the table.

“Still out there,” Mark replied. He chuckled. “If we let her, she’d stay out there looking for wolves till the moon comes up.”

“Well, go tell her that her pack needs her to come inside,” I said. “It’s feeding time.”




Here is the link to the rental cabin at Camas Meadow. Click here for info.

Maria Sibylla Merian


I am happy to share a guest post this week—an article written by my mother-in-law Vreni Naess, originally featured in the Swiss publication “Dialog” in 1999. Vreni is from Bern, Switzerland, and has been living in Chicago since the late 1950s. She writes a regular column called “A Voice from Chicago.”

The following is one of my favorites of Vreni’s articles, describing the fascinating life of a talented 17th century artist.

I have included some images—courtesy of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam—and added some active links.


Maria Sibylla Merian

by Vreni Naess


Portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian by Jacob Houbraken, in or after 1717 – 1780.
Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.


It all began with postage stamps. For a long time, the United States produced mostly dull stamps of little interest but eventually they joined other countries in celebrating events, objects, and people with interesting and often beautiful stamps. A while ago I noticed a particularly enchanting series of botanical prints done by a woman named Maria Sibylla Merian. I kept looking for them, using them with great pleasure, and wondering whether she might be a Swiss I had never heard about. Eventually, I looked her up in the library and here is some of what I found out about this most unusual and talented 17th century woman.

Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdan.

Gedaanteverwisseling van de nachtpauwoog, Maria Sibylla Merian, 1679.
Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

She was born in 1647 in the free imperial city of Frankfurt am Main, daughter of the artist and publisher Mathias Merian the Elder and his second wife Johanna Sibylla Heim. Mathias was a native of Basel (a Swiss connection after all) who had acquired the Bürgerrecht  of Frankfurt and was known throughout Europe for his engravings of cities and landscapes, his scientific books, and his editions of the illustrated Grands Voyages  (accounts of journeys to the new World). He died when Maria was only three but her mother’s second husband, Jacob Marrel, was also an engraver and painter, as were her half-brothers Mathias the Younger and Caspar Merian. She was thus born into a family of artists where her talent was recognized early and allowed to develop in spite of contemporary beliefs about the negative effects of the female temperament on genius. As a woman, however, she would not be allowed to paint representations of the nude body or large-scale historical works, nor would she be permitted to expand her skills by travelling to workshops in other towns.

When she was only six, her half-brothers did copperplates for a Natural History of Insects, and when she was thirteen, she began to study silkworms, and from there went on to observe “far more beautiful butterflies and moths that developed from other kinds of caterpillars. This led me to collect all the caterpillars I could find in order to study their metamorphoses … and to work at my painter’s art so I could sketch them from life and represent them in lifelike colors.”

At eighteen she married Johann Andreas Graff, an engraver and painter in the Merian workshop, and eventually moved with him to Nürnberg where, starting in 1675, her husband published her first work, a Blumenbuch, over several years. In 1679 she showed the results of her longstanding observation of caterpillars in a book on Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare BlumennahrungThere were 100 copperplates, fifty in each volume, and each plate depicted one or more insects painted from life, showing caterpillar or larva, pupa with or without cocoon, moth or butterfly in flight and/or rest, sometimes the egg stage as well. The plants were chosen for the leaves upon which the caterpillar fed and were identified by their German and Latin names. A page or two of Merian’s observations (in German) faced the picture. She did not give names to the moths and caterpillars (only a few of them had been named by that time) but she provided their life histories.

Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Tulp, twee takken mirte en twee schelpen, Maria Sibylla Merian, 1657 – 1717
Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Some years later, after the death of Jacob Marrel, the Graffs returned to Frankfurt. There, against a background of family inheritance quarrels, Maria Sibylla converted from the Lutheran faith to the Labadian community, a Pietist movement which offered biblical study, charitable activity, and mystical fellowship, then left her husband and, with her mother and two daughters, joined the center of the community in Wieuwerd, Friesland. The community believed in a simple and fully shared life with love and repentance as guiding principles, repentance meaning absolute detachment from worldly things such as pride, finery, and property. Although she complied with the rules, she did continue her studies of insects and kept a careful “study book” of her work. It is believed that after some time she realized her work could not be printed under the rules of the Labadists, nor could she continue her contacts with the outside world, so she changed her mind (after five or six years) and left for “wicked” Amsterdam. A large and prosperous city of about 200,000, Amsterdam offered many opportunities to a single woman with exceptional skills, connections, and two talented daughters. She was welcomed in the circles of naturalists, collectors, and engravers, and was hired as one of the painters doing watercolors of the plants in the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens.

Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Rode ibis met een ei, Maria Sibylla Merian, 1699 – 1700
Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

In collectors’ “cabinets of curiosities” she saw insect specimens from the West and East Indies, was fascinated by them but felt that something important was lacking, namely the origins and later transformations of the insects. “So I was moved,” she said, “to take a long and costly journey to Surinam.” In April 1699, fifty-two years old and having made her will, she set out on this most unusual journey in the company of her daughter Dorothea, then twenty-one. She had sold a large collection of her prints of flowers, fruits, and insects to finance the trip and hoped to get money on her return by selling insect specimens she intended to collect. She chose Surinam because it was somewhat known to her through the Labadists who ran the (in the end unsuccessful) Providence Plantation  there and also because it contained a sizable Dutch settlement. Maria Sibylla and Dorothea settled in Paraibo where in October 1699 she painted and recorded her first “metamorphosis.” She had connections to some of the important Dutch families, had several slaves (whom she called myne Slaven  and with whom she communicated in Neger-Engels).  She threw herself into the work of discovering, breeding, and recording butterflies, moths, and beetles, first in her own garden, then in nearby forests, then on plantations along the Surinam river, always accompanied and assisted by her African and American Native slaves. After about two years, she could not bear the heat any longer and departed for Amsterdam, loaded with rolled vellum paintings, brandied butterflies, bottles with crocodiles and snakes, lizards’ eggs, bulbs, and many round boxes full of pressed insects for sale. She also took along her Indianin.

Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Wreath and insects, Maria Sibylla Merian, 1657 – 1717
Image courtesy of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Four years later, the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam  appeared in Amsterdam, in Dutch and in Latin, a folio edition of sixty copperplates, available in black and white, or hand-colored by Merian. Again, she used her characteristic way of showing nature’s process and relationships, the origin and transformation of insects, and the food on which their larvae lived. She continued not to categorize her paintings by any system then in use but expected each picture, with the accompanying text, to stand on its own. In contrast to most of her contemporaries, she acknowledged help from her Surinam servants.

With the Metamorphoses book, Merian had fully established her reputation as a major artist-naturalist. She was now one of the international figures of Amsterdam, a person one had to meet. When Peter the Great visited the town, his physician came by the house and bought some of her paintings for the czar. She died in 1717, sixty-eight years old.

And all this I learnt (and you read) because of a lovely set of US postage stamps.

Vreni Naess-Brechbühl




Forest Sketch

On one of my forest walks, I came upon an elderly gentleman who was standing by the trail, gazing up at a gnarly bigleaf maple. It was one of those Seattle-summer days when the sun comes out unexpectedly, and after weeks of dismal gray, the world was in full-color once again. The whole forest was glowing.

As I passed, the man tipped his hat to me in a polite, old-fashioned way that seemed out-of-place in West Seattle. He must be from a foreign country. Or at least, a foreign time.

“You know what I wish?” he asked, smiling. “I wish I was an artist. I wish I could paint this!” He swept his hand across the lovely scene.

I stood with him for a moment admiring the lumpy, twisted old maple. The sunlight was filtering through the leafy canopy, falling in streaks against the brilliant moss-covered trunk. I imagined painting the tree, how I would drag brushloads of sap green over raw umber to capture the colors and play of light.

I was just about to share my art-thoughts with him when I noticed his eyes had teared up a little. “I want to remember this tree,” he said. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, but by the time I get home, I’ll have forgotten. It’ll all be lost…like it never existed. If I was an artist, I could paint this and take it home with me. I’d have it forever.”

I realized we weren’t really talking about art at all, but about how it feels when things we love slip away. Was he afraid his beautiful world was disappearing…being erased into blankness?

He was still standing with the old maple when I continued on my walk. I hope he remembers his tree.

I wish I had painted it for him.


An acrylic sketch I did of a maple in Schmitz Park. It didn’t have a mossy trunk, but it was beautiful anyway.




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Connect with Nature through Art

Artwork done outside is as much about the experience as the result. Sometimes, it can lead to a very deep, zen-like connection to the natural world.

Painting outdoors is more challenging than working in your studio. It’s always more uncomfortable—especially with no easel or painting stool. But, that’s just part of the experience.

I originally published the following post as “Three Seats of Stone” in August of 2012.


Seat 1

A large flat boulder, blue-green, cool to the touch and smooth as silk. In the middle of the North Fork Teanaway River.


It’s like sitting on a piece of elegant marble—an anomaly in this stream filled with sharp basalt and rough sandstone.

This is a pleasant, shady spot with lots of room to set out my acrylics, water bucket, and brushes. Facing downstream, with the current flowing all around and nothing behind me but river.

I relax and focus on the mesmerizing flows, the ripples, the reflections. The stream gathers high above me in bright alpine wildflower meadows dripping with snowmelt, and flows down steep basalt canyons and through forests and farm valleys, finally coming out onto the open, drier landscape of ponderosa-covered rolling hills. There, it joins the Cle Elem River, then the Yakima, the Columbia, and finally the Pacific Ocean. It’s a trip of a few days, I would guess.


Seat 2

Small, rough, lumpy, uncomfortable. Sandstone? On the rocky banks of the Salmon River near Mt. Hood. Very hot.


I have to spread out my watercolors at my feet and hunch over to reach them. The sun is blindingly bright on my white paper.

The current is rushing just enough to block out all other sound. I fall into the painters’ trance, focusing on the river: a moving picture of shapes and colors. The water shows me different things, in some places reflecting the forest and sky, in others the rocky bed below. Sometimes nothing but the greenish depths of the water itself.

I occasionally glance behind. Has someone approached while I was away in art-world? Am I being watched? I scan the banks, and the forest beyond. I am alone. Just me and the mossy giants of this classic old-growth forest.


Seat 3

Sharp, wet, precarious. A bus-sized rock formation—one of the Oregon Coasts’ famous Earth-sculptures.


I imagine it was erupted from some Jurassic volcano, then plunged under the continental plate, pressed, cooked, uplifted, shook, and wave-attacked…for millions of years.

Now, it’s my own private rock painting-bus, with a series of sharp but perfectly butt-sized notches to squeeze into. I scramble up and choose the best one: the drivers’ seat. There is a built-in back to lean against and shelves for my palettes and brushes.

I’m high up, out of reach of annoying looky-lous, and with a sweeping view. The air is fresh and salty, the ocean unbelievably blue. Wow. This place is perfect. I could stay here all day. I get settled and launch myself into my watercolors and soon I have fully entered art-mind. I feel so great I think my brain waves are probably rising and falling in sync with the ocean.

I realize my mistake. Darn.

I pack up and climb down from my magic painting bus and reluctantly head back up the trail.

Next time, remember: no extra cups of morning coffee. It’s better to be a little dehydrated on a plein air day.




Thoughts on Being an Artist

(This blog post was originally published last July. Recycling is good, right? )


One cold rainy night last winter my husband and I went to a club to hear a blues band. Truth be told, on that Tuesday night, after a full day’s work, we both really wanted to stay home and sit by the fire with a nice cuppa.


But we had tickets so we bundled up, got in the car, risked the bridge traffic, and went out.

Later that night, in the middle of the performance, when the band had warmed up so much I thought they were going to ignite, I thought to myself once again…how wonderful art is. Here were five ordinary looking middle-age guys, with no auto-tune or lightshows or sexy costumes—and they were practically bursting into flame right there on the stage. We got to sit by the fire, after all.

In the heat of a performance like that, it’s easy to see why artists want to do what they do. It’s like creating your own fire, your own energy. Imagine how it would be to paint like Van Gogh, or dance Swan Lake, or play the violin like Joshua Bell. It would be like having super-powers…like flying, or leaping tall buildings…bringing the audience to their feet and the young men or ladies to their knees. What glory!

Reality check. There’s the other side of art, of course…the work. And not just work, but really hard work. True, it’s not like working-in-a-coal-mine-hard, but some days, to me at least, art just feels impossible—laughable even. Oh, so you think you can do that? Ha! Think again. You’ve got it all wrong…the composition is bad, the perspective is off, you’re being way too stiff. Go back to the easel. Do it again. Again. Again!


But, the thing about art is…it keeps you hooked. Because in between all those hours of slogging away come little sparks, little bursts of flame. Just when you think you’ve had enough and you’re ready to pack up the paints and toss them out the window…you look through the big stack of ugly paintings and find one that looks…pretty good.

Aha. A spark.


Last year, I went to the documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” by Werner Herzog, about the Chauvet Cave in France and its 30,000 year-old cave paintings.

When I put on those 3D glasses and followed Mr. Herzog into those hidden chambers, I literally got the shivers. What struck me most was the perfect example of Art in its most elemental state—both from human beings and Nature itself. What better example of Earth the Artist than limestone formations—those swirls, the sparkles and waves, solid rock being made to look liquid, taking thousands of years to form.

A snippet from my Beaver Falls Karst project shows limestone formations similar to Chauvet Cave.


And the paintings! However they are scrutinized and analyzed by experts for their significance—to me, they spoke a singular fact: even as long as 30,000 years ago, artists were doing what artists have always done. They were exploring and expressing the complexities and simplicities of their world. They were artists searching for clarity.

Whenever I want to reignite my own creative spark, I get out my copy of “The Artistic Spirit”, by Robert Henri, written in 1923. I can flip to almost any page, and find some nugget of pure inspiration to get me beyond whatever artistic challenge I’m facing at that moment. It’s not a really a book of instruction…it’s simply the words of a man who was unusually clear about what it means to be an artist. I’m sure that if those cave artists read Henri’s words they would say, “Yes, that’s it! That’s exactly what we were trying to do.” Henri speaks the common language of artists.

“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what might be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.” — Robert Henri


A word to aspiring artists

Whenever you feel the creative spark inside you, fan it! Don’t let it go out. Where there’s one, there will be more. Keep at it, one little spark at a time. You are lighting your way on your own search for clarity. It’s not the destination that counts…the searching is enough to put you in the company of artists since the beginning of time.

It’s good company.