Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I'm going to pretend that I've been blogging nonstop since my last post in April because I'm embarrassed that it's been so long. But it was spring. And my new house has the blackest richest dirt I've ever seen, 80 years worth of gardeners here in this soil. Everything I put in the soil explodes into foliage. I've never seen anything like it. So I spent the last year sticking things into it. And digging up stones and moving them around the perimeter of the yard to create beds. Flowers, blueberries, asparagus, concord grapes, hydrangeas, catmint galore. I won't bore you with the rest of the list. But I've spent the last couple of months enjoying watching things grow. And I've been teaching. And painting.

Speaking of painting (and pastelling), I had the pleasure of participating in a paint-out last week at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. Atlanta area artists converged to paint the beautiful grounds and help raise funds for the Trappist Monks there. The monks were wonderful to us--they fed us, housed us, and even posed for us. Artists painted monks working at their bonsai, tending the gardens, strolling through the cloister after prayers. The week of painting culminated in a wet painting sale last Sunday, June 1. Half the proceeds will benefit the Monastery, the other half the artists. I had 14 paintings there. I've sold 4 so far. The paintings will be exhibited for several more months. If you're in the area, go see the exhibit.

During the paint-out I spent one night at the Monastery's retreat center, adjacent to the church. I was woken at 4:00 a.m. by the bong bong bong of the steeple bells, calling the monks to morning vigils. I jumped out of bed, got dressed and ran downstairs to the chapel to see if I'd feel comfortable painting during the prayers. Brother Calistus encouraged me into the church, and during a break, I ran out, grabbed my easel and pastels and paints, and when they returned to their chants, I painted in the dark. It was a beautiful, mystical morning. These two pastels are from that morning.

And I am leaving this evening for France to teach another workshop at La Bonne Etoile. My bags are packed and I will be leaving for the airport in a couple of hours. And of course I'll be writing about it almost every night. And putting up lots of pictures. So brace yourself.


  1. Wow, that was the newsiest of the newsy. I am not jealous of a thing except the new yard where everything grows, the monastery, painting at the monastery, sales at the monastery, and the trip to France. Oh yes, the bong, bong would call to me to. Years ago I lived across the street in Egypt from a Monastery. The monks singing was absolutely incredible.

  2. I'm reading Jeff Blake's book, "A Year On Grace Street," and, catching up with this week, I read about you and Morning Vigils on his June 14 and 15 pages. I was so happy to read your blog version and actually see paintings from your monastery visit. What a special man he was! And what a special place... Your art is soulful and beautiful!
    Sincerely, Susan Walraven