Friday, August 14, 2015


OMG! It really is my fiftieth state painting (and my first trip to our forty-ninth state). Six years 'working' on this project. What fun it has been.

Katchemak Bay, Homer, Alaska

We drove the Kenai peninsula down to Homer and saw the pale turquoise Russian River with many people fishing. We saw glaciers and snow covered mountains, a moose, nesting bald eagles, fields of lupines. We stayed at Land's End Resort on Homer Spit in Kachemak Bay where sea otters played outside our window. It was our 40th wedding anniversary celebration. We spent a great deal of time lounging on the deck watching fishing boats go by. Homer is great. (We like working towns...we live in one - Brattleboro Vermont.)

We took the Denali Star train to Fairbanks... a civilized way to travel. Caught a glimpse of Mt. McKinley through clouds. We loved Fairbanks, too. Especially Just Short of Magic, Alaska Dog Mushing School and Educational Tours. There was no snow, of course, but we got to pet, feed and cuddle 28 Alaskan Husky sled racing dogs and discuss breeding traits; lead, wheel, swing dog positioning, harnessing, different sleds and life at 40 below.... one of the traits mushers breed for is good appetite; you want all dogs to eagerly put their faces in their bowls and eat all of it immediately before it freezes. That dog food fuels the race. Looking for a real Alaskan experience? Go to Eleanor's mushing school this winter and sleep in her Yurt B and B. It is way COOL. She is wonderful.

Our other favorite thing we did in Fairbanks is visit the Museum of the North at University of Alaska. That museum of art, history and culture ranks very high in our list of favorite museums anywhere. It's a beautiful contemporary ice chunk of a building. that gave us a warm welcome. We spent the entire day there and were still reluctant to leave due to the fact that we may not return soon.

We visited Alaska at the summer solstice and especially in Fairbanks it never really got dark. Lots of things were open late and it made for a relaxed day, knowing you wouldn't run out of daylight. There were some zombie fishermen whose dream had come true; fishing round the clock non-stop. They were lugging full coolers of salmon and halibut home to prove it.

Nice to finish this Fifty State Plein Air Painting Project with an Alaska adventure. Now I get it...why people love Alaska. This is what I can say about every state. Now that I have been there and stayed a little bit I see the charm of them all. They unite to form a diverse and beautiful country.

I will be exhibiting selections from the project and I'll let you know where and when. You have seen the whole collection unfold here. Thanks for taking the trip with me.


A beautiful, perfect Saturday morning on the Columbia River; Port of Camas-Washougal to be specific. What could be better? (well, not having an infected Vermont spider bite on my ear would help..but never mind...who's complaining?) So everyone and their brother, dog, kid is putting boats in the water and unloading fish from boats and really enjoying the start of a great day on the river.

Then something happened that I don't think ever happened to me before; a woman jogged by and stopped to tell me "You picked the most beautiful place around here for your painting. No Kidding, I've been all over the Northwest and this is the prettiest." That was a wonderful thing to say to someone who had been led to that spot by intuition, not experience or referral. Mostly when I am painting some train cars, or neighborhood corner garden passers-by tell me about a really pretty location and suggest I go there to paint. I always say 'I will, thanks'. I have tried not to rely on the state icons for this project. I like to find a scene that appeals to me and make a good picture out of it. It's the regular, every-day things that tie us together as a politically diverse country.

After I had made most of a picture of the Puffin Cafe,  Michael Poster and I walked down to have some "Caribbean Cuisine, Pirate Cookin' and Spirits".  It was very good. We loved the bartender. She may have concocted a potion to banish spider bites and swollen faces. I may not have been the first patron she's seen with a fat ear and red lopsided face...she serves pirates, after all.

Monday, July 6, 2015


Portland... the Brooklyn neighborhood to be specific... flower gardens spilling over the curbs, brightly painted homes, studios and vintage vehicles still in daily use; this is the setting for this bright and casually comfortable flower garden. There are thousands of pictures here, but time limited me to only one on this trip... besides there was relaxing to do and a truly inspiring visit to the Portland Japanese Garden, as well as sketching and rose ogling.

The fire-engine red tire swing planted with petunias caught my eye, but when I saw the back garden I realized the tire swing would not fit into my small pastel painting. Regretfully I resigned it to the huge Not Painted but Really Good file in my mind. The homeowner-gardener here used her grey-green house as the perfect backdrop to a garden of many colors... just what I like! I did not meet her, but a neighbor agreed with me about the beauty of this home garden.

My husband, Michael Poster,  who accompanied me on this trip to the Northwest, really enjoyed walking with his camera while I painted. For a self-professed travel hater, he sure seemed to be having a very good time in Portland. We stayed at the Best Western Pony Soldier...spotless, friendly, top notch, sparkling pool, great beds... and ate at Pono Farm's Soul Kitchen on Sandy Blvd. NE... which was outstanding!

Five days in Portland is never enough... but it did give me time to drive across the border and capture my Washington State Painting... coming soon.

photo Michael Poster
photo Michael Poster

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My rock-climbing son-in-law tipped me off to Kolob Canyon, a group of finger canyons in the less frequented NW corner of Zion NP. A crisp Sunday morning with fresh snow coating on the peaks found me up early trying to make a special painting out of breathtaking scenery. I spent about 6 hours on three paintings there. This is my last and favorite. When my shoulder started hurting I was finally able to stop painting. This one was done about 6000 ft above sea level.

The wildlife I saw on this great spring trip to Mojave (the smallest and driest of US deserts) was numerous: birds which I could mostly not identify except for jays, wild turkeys, blue herons, roadrunners and black chinned hummingbirds. Mule deer, desert cottontail, black tailed jackrabbit, amargossa pupfish, the aforementioned kit fox in Death Valley and red racer in Las Vegas. I saw some other unidentified wild life in Vegas, too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Nevada had been a challenge; wind, wind and more wind, which, of course brings dust in the eyes as well as a vigorously shaking easel. Stubbornness and sheer resolve urged me to set up my easel early one morning on a mesa
above the Virgin River Valley.  Hanging on to my painting and easel with one hand and trying to hit a moving object with the right color in the right place led to a rather abstract little landscape.

I love the complimentary colors of the bright green irrigated hay fields against the red dirt and rocks.

Cattle are scarce this trip to the southwest. Drought has sent them to market, I guess. The next ones won't be so affordable?

Back in Las Vegas with a few hours to kill I found Springs Preserve Botanical Garden . The garden is free. The museum and native animal exhibits have a fee. IMHO, it is the best thing in Las Vegas, since the art museum closed, although there is still Cirque du Soleil. So I was quietly sitting on a bench sketching the cacti when I saw a slithering 40" pink snake moving slowly and directly from one cactus raised bed to the next one. Sorry, I don't have a photo. It obviously did not see me. We were close! It was identified for me by the education center as a Western Coach Whip (commonly known as Red Racer). Pretty.

Monday, May 5, 2014


The April day that I arrived in Death Valley National Park the temperature at the Visitors Center was 93(F).  The dry hot wind was a balm to my thoroughly disgusted self after the winter that would not quit here in Vermont. In this vast other-worldly place I took my cue from the map and headed out to Artists' Drive and the many-colored rock walls. I looked and looked and chose my location to face into the setting sun as opposed to the lit up walls...beautiful, but not as interesting to me as this backlit view of mountains, rock and dry little bushes. 

I dawdled over packing up. The road was empty now and the silence of Death Valley mesmerizing. A true desert lover I wanted to be alone as night fell over my little moonscape. Finally, I slowly started my car on the return to the lodge. Almost immediately I startled a kit fox. She/he dove back into the den. What a lucky glimpse of a shy little animal. 

That is not the only time silent stillness paid off on my Eight Days in the Mojave Desert tour.

This is a 9x12 pastel painting and is for all the others not marked otherwise.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I found these three colourful "fish camps" in Grand Isle, Louisiana...about as far  as you can go south of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico coast; indigenous architecture. A quiet, peaceful respite from the Big Easy.

100% plein air...might tidy it up a bit, now that I'm away from biting flying beach bugs.

 We had hardly been there 5 minutes before I met the local cops...yes, I know I was speeding...38 in a 25 mph zone...hard to keep track of the sudden and unpredictable sign changes...but it is a good way for me to meet some locals and (them to ascertain that my daughter and I were not new criminals in town) ticket...just a friendly welcome to Grand Isle, after running some checks on us and our gray rental car whose registration said it was red. They got us turned around in the correct direction to our hotel, which the GPS was heading us away from when they pulled us over.

We decided this outpost (and site of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil well explosion and gigantic spill) was full of friendly folks. We did some nature trails, birdwatching and ran on back to New Orleans where we saw many wonderful things one could paint if one were not enjoying the gumbo, music, cocktails, singing, art, trombone playing, seafood, walking and handsome guitar players so very much. That easy southern life-style is catching. It sure was great to warm up for a week!

My 44th the bag!