Umbrian Post Card

Umbrian patterns from our cottage. Sketch, graphite, colored pencil

Umbrian patterns, sketch, graphite, colored pencil

The Umbrian hills are patterned, painted soft browns and greens ranging in values from the dark of the cypress trees to light yellow greens of some crops not yet plowed in.

Friends made during our last visit to Umbria met us in Spoleto yesterday and treated us to a wonderful lunch. Late in the afternoon we arrived at our new nest, nearly on top of Mt Subasio, Assisi. Through iron gates flanked by cypress trees on one side and ancient rock of the mountain on the other, awaits our stone cottage with a panoramic Birdseye view facing southwest. I feel a bit like I’m flying through one of my aerial landscapes, but transported to Italy.

We have no Internet at the cottage on the estate where we stay, just minutes away by car, or a longer walk to the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi. However, in the center of Assisi we found a wifi cafe to check in with the world.


Postcard #2, Leaving Tuscany

Morning, Cetona, 2016

Tomorrow we head to Assisi. Leaving Cetona is like leaving a friend, having been here before and truly appreciating the small, quiet town and our helpful landlords who we feel are friends.

One of our everyday vistas is shown above, and it is one I tried to capture on our last trip here, in pastel. Easier to capture a mood of lighting in pastels. The use of pencils dictates a more delicate and linear perspective of shapes and compositions, too intricate to handle in its entirety, in a quick sketch. I have little patience for detail, so it is good practice.

Also, I have included a photo of the actual view.  Did I play with Mother Nature? Certo!

Postcard from Tuscany

Graphite and Colored Pencil Sketch, Lake Chiusi (Lago di Chiusi)


Although this is Warren’s writing trip for his retirement, I still get to do a little sketching. This time, using only colored pencils, no pastels. Sure is less messy!

Lake Chiusi is a very shallow lake in Chiusi, Tuscany, not too far from Cetona where we are staying. Because of its shallowness it is known for its unusual vegetation. The lighting and reflections of low hills and sky surrounding it, give it an ethereal quality. Lovely place.

Largo di Chiusi, a tranquil setting for sketching and reading

Lago di Chiusi, a tranquil setting for sketching and reading

Garden Bees as Inspiration


possible image for “Little Bee’s Big Job”

I always look forward to autumn while at the same time I look nostalgically back on the wonders summer brought us: friends and family visitors; doses of sun’s vitamin D and walks by the ocean unencumbered by the heavy weight of warm clothes; the joy of hanging laundry on the line to dry in summer’s warmth and gentle breezes; wonderful garden harvests, despite the dry months.

Observations of the bee population in our garden have been more intense in the last three years as I became focused and determined to create a picture book for kids on the matter of bees. This due, in part, to a visit three summers ago to the Botanical Gardens here in Maine when the summer’s theme was “pollinators”.

I was inspired to take on the project and it has undergone many re-writes and illustration ideas, most still in rough form. Progress has been made and now has a working title of “Little Bee’s Big Job”. Whether this will be self-published or not, is as yet unknown.

But autumn and winter are coming and with it come my desire to look inward and work in my studio at my easel. When will Little Bee emerge? All things in their time. Until then, we are off to Tuscana!

Studio News

Currently I am working on 5 or 6 different oil paintings, all of which need time and distance to analyze what I need to do to make each work just so.

I don’t always move in a linear mode to work out the construction of a painting and it often requires some distance to gain proper perspective. That distance might come in the form of a different project, after which a return to the easel becomes once more refreshing and I have a renewed energy toward resuming that construction.

Now my husband has a task for me — to do a line drawing for him for one of several projects he is working on. Trained as an illustrator, I don’t have too many opportunities to make use of the skill and I never take up a pencil for my paintings. So this is good… it’s an illustration project that challenges me and continues to provide more distance from my paintings… or is it procrastination?

Beginning sketch of German soldiers on train going off to War in 1914, with well-wishers saying goodbye.

Beginning sketch of German soldiers on train going off to War in 1914, with well-wishers saying goodbye.


Supervision over my project

Supervision over my project