This one’s for the bees…

As most of you know, a lot of my inspiration comes from nature and the garden. That is definitely true of a new small series I am working on related to pollinators.

I have been fascinated by bees most of my life, despite have an allergic reaction to stings as a kid. I still remember one day when I was playing down by the creek behind my dad’s house and a huge bumblebee landed on my neck. This was when I was allergic and I pretty much froze in fear. As I sat there with this guy wandering around on my neck, it started to tickle. His little feet just pattering away and his fuzzy body just meandering around. I calmed down and just sat by the creek letting this bee walk all over and felt like we became friends. I’m sure in my child’s mind there was some story running around about the magical girl who could talk to bees, or some such thing.

Skip to today, and our growing problem with the declining bee population. We have a Korean Bee tree in our back yard that has seen better days and will need to be replaced soon. I am hoping to get one more summer out of it, but those pesky lantern flies love it. It blooms at the end of the summer, giving the bees one last source for stocking up for the colder months. And boy do they! When you stand under the tree while it is in bloom, it sounds like you are next to a highway with all of the bees buzzing around!


We also let our garlic chives go to full bloom at the end of the season, so we get a swarm of bees there as well. I think one day last fall I counted at least 10 different species of bees and pollinators hitting up the chive blossoms. And that has led me to my current small series of paintings for pollinators.

My collage work for the early layers is pulled from an apartment gardening book from the early 70s; beautiful yellowed paper with a grainy, pulpy feel to it. 

I have started building up the background layers, using light, earthy tones and pulling in some honeycomb. This piece will become my County Collector piece for the Chester County Studio Tour coming up on May 19th and 20th. As I continue to build up layers and work on the foreground details, the garlic chive blossoms with begin to take center stage. 

I’ll be sharing the finished piece soon and will include it and others from the series in my April Newsletter. Be sure to sign up below to stay in the loop and get more details about the studio tour as we get closer to the event.

StencilClub Voices for February

Happy February!

Today I am sharing with you my 2nd set of projects for StencilGirl StencilClub Voices. These are using the February set from StencilClub which is called “Grandmother’s Kitchen” and designed by Kristie Taylor.

In my artwork I typically use stencils to build up background layers and the February stencils are perfect for that! All three stencils in the set have the same basic pattern, but in different sizes. I love having repetitive patterns carry through my work and the multiple sizes helps add dimension and depth. The first thing I did with these stencils is to just play and create some background layers for my stash to be used as the mood strikes.

I used one of the smaller backgrounds to create my February Mandala. I layered the stencils in various shades of blue and then used the 4×4 in white as the center of my mandala. The details in the pattern made it easy to pick out elements to repeat and build off of in my drawing. I’m not sure if the result is more wintery or watery. What do you think?

I also used the smallest version (although the biggest stencil!) as a background on a memory box. While the pattern may have been inspired by interiors, it reminds me of a garden trellis and felt like the perfect back drop to the loose, brush stroke trees.

I see these stencils getting a lot of use in my studio going forward – and I think they might come in handy during summer kids art camp…(garden trellis, chain link fence, spaceship targeting systems…lots of possibilities here!)

You can check out projects from the other StencilClub Voices here on StencilGirl Talk.

(And if you are interested in seeing what the kids do with these stencils come summertime, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below!)

StencilClub Voices for January

As many of you know I use stencils in creating the layered backgrounds for my art work. I also use them quite a bit in my art journals and when I am teaching.

While I make a lot of stencils on my own, StencilGirl is one of those sources for wonderful pre-made stencils that I just love! I am a member of their stencil club, which means I get a new pack of stencils from them every month. For January and February this year, I am a member of their StencilClub Voices team, which means I received the stencils early and got to play around with them and make sample projects before any one else. So exciting to get that sneak peak!

January’s set was ‘Under Lock and Key’, designed by June Pfaff Daley.

My first project was a page for my art journal. I have always loved keys and the idea of locking secrets away safely or finding the key that unlock some great treasure. For the journal page, I chose to go with this theme, and thought the treasure we need most right now is joy and happiness and keeping a bright attitude.
They key tags were inspired by old fashioned hotel room keys with the big tassels that seem to suggest they are more important than just a simple key, so a bit of bling and sparkle was needed for these.
You can check out the other projects from the Voices team on this blog post from StencilGirl Talk.
I’ll be posting my projects for February soon, Make sure you are signed up for my newsletter below if you don’t want to miss it!

Art Imitates Gardening

One of the questions artists frequently get asked is ‘where do you get your ideas?’ Inspiration can come from many, many sources. Things that we see, experiences that we go through, thoughts we remember at odd moments. Everything that has happened to us in our lives influence what we create and put back into the world.

The painting I am sharing today has some pretty straight forward origins. In my Zentangle practice, I will switch back and forth between working on Zentangle tiles and working in my sketchbooks and journals. Some of the drawings are just for the meditative practice, and some call out to me to be turned into something else. This quick drawing in my sketchbook was one of the later.

My mornings in the summer normally start with a quick trip out to the garden to say good morning to the bees and check for any new vegies that are ready to be harvested. The blooms always draw me in, this pumpkin blossom being no exception.

I had a few new boards prepped for new paintings with some background colors blocked in. I had already been influenced by these trips to the garden and had a background in progress with shades of green and orange. With the 2 images above in mind “Abundance”, the final painting, started to emerge.

The mandala of ‘Abundance’ captures the energy and potential of new growth, while the colors fading into the background reflect the peacefulness and serenity I feel sitting in the garden each morning, listening to the bees as they make their rounds.