New Pieces at Kansas Earth & Sky Candle Company

If spring cleaning bites you with the decorating bug, please drop by the Kansas Earth and Sky Candle Company in Ellinwood for a new flower power painting lovingly made with earth materials.

50th Annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition

I’m so honored that Spirit of an Autumn Tree was selected for the 50th Annual Smoky Hill Art Exhibition in Hays. I have a special relationship with trees, because they are so uncommon here. I think Willa Cather described it best in her book My Antonia, “Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about then, and visit them as if they were persons.” I imagine this tree as my Cottonwood spirit clothed in the fading cloak of late summer leaves, resolutely facing the coming wind that will usher in change.  It is acrylic with natural elements, including limestone, prairie soil and rainwater. The painting received the smoke of fallen leaves to symbolize change that comes to all deciduous trees. At such times, nature reminds us there is a time to let go.

Violet Prairie Thunderhead

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” Willa Cather
 A storm on the American Plains is an awesome phenomenon, one that will humble you. Great towers of cloud, noise and light build on the horizon then steam ahead like a train. When I returned to Kansas after a long absence, a purple-hued storm came to my doorstep, swirling around the porch and barn. The rarity of color mesmerized, and drew me in like a phantom.There in the midst of the violet clouds, one could viscerally feel the thunder-being at work. This homage to prairie thunder is acrylic with hand-laid stone texture indented with seeds and layered with iron oxidized to rust.

Enchanted Prairie Flower

“A world of grass and flowers stretched around me, rising and falling in gentle undulations, as if an enchanter had struck the ocean swell, and it was at rest forever…” Eliza Steele, Summer Journey in the West (1840)

My whimsical rendition of a prairie flower has an enormous seed-head made of thick, hand-made stone texture embedded with seeds, grain and wheat. I used large amounts of iron oxidized to rust along with acrylic and rich concoction of earth material, including freshly burnt Eastern Red Cedar ash, topsoil, cedar berries, earth pigments, and dried prairie sunflower. Together, the natural elements invite you to bloom where you are planted.

All Things are Mended

Then I discovered the prairie, and a slow healing began.  Stephen R. Jones, The Last Prairie
For a short while before the heated winds arrive, the prairie greens up. In the eastern part of Kansas, the spring land is managed by burning the pasture to sweep away old growth and strengthen the root system. A healing begins quite suddenly, as the scorched earth quickly gives way to a vista of intoxicating growth. Here is nature’s reminder that all things are mended. For this piece, I began work in the late afternoon of the spring equinox before the full moon rose, letting it gather that celestial energy of the transition. It has hand-laid stone texture embedded with grain, oxidized iron, acrylic and the ash of Eastern Red Cedar and Indian grass.

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.