O’Life Prosper Me

“Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky.” American author, Willa Cather
That’s how I think of the American Prairie, a great underpinning to the firmament. The land here is a deep plain of inky soil from which life springs and prospers. I painted this piece at the time of the spring equinox, when the wheel of the year turns toward life. To symbolize this great greening from the depths, I created a canvas of handmade stone texture embedded with Kansas grain, then applied layers of thick, tarry earth pigments, oxidized iron and airy acrylic. It’s blended and eroded with natural stone slabs. Together, the elements remind us shed that which no longer serves and grow.

Three Sections of Grain

This piece is inspired by American Author Willa Cather who wrote in O Pioneers!, “We come and go, but the land is always here. And the people who love it and understand it are the people who own it — for a little while.”
Farming on the Great Plains is divided neatly into sections, each 640 acres. Subdivided into halves and quarters. Viewed from the sky, the land is a patchwork of neatly cultivated squares of winter wheat, corn, beans and milo. This piece honors those who work the land, battling the elements to bring forth tiny seeds into harvest. It is not an easy profession, dependent upon the disposition of nature. But those who live off the land have a special relationship to it, an understanding that for a while, they are great stewards of this marvelous creation. The painting is constructed of handmade stone texture with embedded grain, plant ash, burnt cottonwood, Kansas soil, earth pigments and yellow-green acrylic with specks of puddely blue. Sold to a lovely person who owns a farm.

Where the Deer Run

I’m curious about deer. I often see them trod a familiar path to Fossil Lake, blending into the cedars as they move toward water. At dawn, they stand in the fallow field communing among the aged stalks of grain. When deer sense danger, silently, without word, they return to the thicket like wraiths. Rambling toward their safe place, hidden deep in the woods. This piece pays homage to that place of refuge, when it is no longer safe. It is constructed of darkened earth pigments surrounded by paths of handmade stone texture embedded with grain, along with oxidized iron, acrylic and prairie soil, eroded with stone. Together, the elements remind us retreat to our center when in need.

First Thunder

There is a Zuni proverb that says, “With the first thunder the gods of rain open their petals.” How lovely the thought, that spring’s first thunder ushers in a new season for all things. This piece is my homage to first thunder, a signal that the land is once again renewing. It is acrylic with handmade stone texture, embedded grain, and earthen elements, including prairie limestone, iron, soil, Eastern Red cedar and plant ash to honor growth.

The Land Beneath My Feet

Inspired by springtime on the American Prairie, this painting invites you to wander the greening land, connected to a thousand wild things. It is boldly formed, with handmade stone texture embedded with organic corn to mimic the undulating grassland. Every year, I collect wild sage from the pasture and this piece contains burnt ash, as well as earth pigment, iron oxidized to rust, ground limestone and acrylic. Together, the elements symbolize the land as a strong refuge. Sold to an amazing collector in California.

Running Grass

This piece celebrates the shortgrass prairie. The root system of prairie plants are deep. Often with more biomass below than above, they preserve the soil, and in doing so, nature reminds us of the importance of inner strength. Made with stone texture and colored with earth pigments, iron, acrylic and the fresh ash of Eastern Red cedar.

St Brigid Announces Spring

This piece honors St Brigid’s Day (Feb 1), also known as Imbolc, the traditional Celtic start of spring. A lovely time when Earth turns toward warmth. It marks the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox, an important cross-quarter of the Wheel of the Year and observance of the seasons. Imbolc comes from the old Irish word  “in the belly” and refers to the pregnancy of ewes. Tradition encourages one to drape a shawl on the eve of Imbolc, asking Brigid to bless new births. My version pays homage to Celtic spring with a cloak of grass made of tiny seeds embedded in limestone with earth pigments, iron and acrylic.

Cedar Symbolism

 

Eastern Red Cedar is a symbol of the American Prairie. It is a survivor, growing where other trees cannot thanks to roots that extend deep into the earth. As the prairie’s evergreen, it reminds us to be strong even in difficult conditions. I love to collect fresh boughs and burn them into ash. I finely grind the powder and use it in the painting so the the spirit of the cedar rests in the art and conveys its strength and goodness.

Fling Wide the Cloak

Each plains storm has its own personality. This is my rendition of a pale winter storm harnessing the power of the setting sun. It contains elements to balance Earth and Sky, including rainwater, limestone, natural pigments and topsoil. Inspired by a passage from celebrated Great Plains author Willa Cather, “The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world.” So pleased this piece went to a lovely couple in Arkansas.

Pale Moon Field

This painting is made entirely of limestone and sandstone from Russell County, Kansas. I painted in an antique grain sack. Today it sold to a beautiful couple for their new limestone house. It could not had found a better home. I am enormously grateful and hope it gives you much joy.