Why I Use Gathered Sage

For Oculus Moon, I wanted to the painting to strongly embody earth elements. It is a piece that sees within you and dares you to dream. I was drawn to use prairie sage collected in late summer with buds of a full growing season. I gathered the sage and left thanks of cornmeal to the land spirits then dried it in smudge sticks. Here I am burning and rubbing the sage onto the stone texture. I then added layers of rust so it has a solid, grounding feel.

Celebrate Kansas Scenic Byways at the Birger Sandzen Gallery

So excited to be a part of this regional show that celebrates the beauty of Kansas Scenic Byways at the Birger Sandzen Gallery. My piece interprets the Post Rock Scenic Byway with an antique flour sack as the canvas and handmade stone paint with local slate and sandstone.

Moon Before Yule

This celestial piece honors the Moon Before Yule, the Anglo-Saxon name for the full moon that occurs close to the ancient winter solstice celebration. My rendition holds the spirit of the long night. It is made of hand-laid stone texture embedded with organic corn to symbolize plenty and painted with acrylic and iron oxidized to rust to represent fleeting time. It is smudged with wild prairie sage to welcome new beginnings.

Moonrise Over a Limestone Field

A nod to limestone fence posts that dot the prairie land, built by pioneers because there were no trees. The canvas is 1930s Depression Era flour sack found in a rural antique store. I used hand-ground Kansas slate, sandstone and burnt wild sage to depict the rugged fields, leaving the sack logo as a full moon on a brightly lit night.

Here Lies the Winter Field

In the long winter evenings he talked to Ma about the Western country. In the West the land was level, and there were no trees. The grass grew thick and high. Laura Ingalls Wilder

The prairie fades to soft yellow just as winter arrives, the final iteration of tall grass that began long-ago as bright green shards. It is nature’s loving gift to us, this calm softness amid a season that is cold and harsh. At such times, the earth reminds us there is a season for all things, and now is the time for rest and stories by the warm fire. This piece has several layers of stone texture, paint and iron oxidized to rust to remind us time is fleeting.

Waterfall of Stars

We came whirling out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust… The stars made a circle, and in the middle, we dance. Rumi

Every man should bathe one night in the absolute darkness of the prairie. A waterfall of stars cascades from above and the wind gently whispers in your ear to let it be. Here there are no worries, no fears, no admonishments to complete things. Rather a solemnity and a nudge to partake in something much larger. This piece has wheat from a family farm near Natoma, Kansas entombed in stone texture to create a cascade of dark stars along with acrylic, tarry earth pigments and iron oxidized to rust. SOLD to an amazing collector.

Toward a Simple Life

If you ever wanted to live a simple life, try living on the prairie. The vast plain shows us we are but a small part of something larger. Here it is quiet and sublime, with a great canopy above and dark soil below. The prairie’s void draws you toward the earth, an invitation to root deeply into her embrace. My homage to living deliberately draws inspiration frost visiting autumn’s darkened fields. It has tiny hemp seeds in stone with acrylic, rust and earth pigments.

Thunder Head

Autumn storms are not the bombastic rains of summer with load noises and light, but something else. Mature, resigned and filled with a coolness that reminds us to be patient and faithful. This piece has layers of thick stone texture, iron oxidized to rust, acrylic and earth elements, including limestone, soil and plant ash.

Arrival of the Snow Geese

When the snow geese arrive at Fossil Lake, they descend in a great spiral, as if the breath of the north gently bore them toward earth. Snow Geese are said to be guardians of the North Wind and a teacher. For many weeks, I see them as they winter here, showing a beautiful sense of family, moving from the frozen pond to the warmth of the pasture grass and back again. When the icy wind arrives, they endure together with heads tucked into feathers, unmoving, quietly waiting for the cold to pass. Then when it does, they return to flight without dwelling on the storm. My rendition has iron oxidized to rust and acrylic with cuneiform-style marks cut in the hand-laid stone texture.