Here I’ll show you the inspiration for a piece alongside my interpretation . . .

Conference of the Far North Fish

I like to color in the morning – it’s a great jump-start to get into the creative mode.   When I learned of this year’s theme for an annual arctic art show featuring the fish and their environments in the northern wildlife preserves, I was working on this particular coloring page.  In the description for the ‘call for art’, it listed 8 different arctic fish as possible subjects.  Other than eating fish, I don’t know much about them, and I’d never heard of half the species listed.  I decided to learn about these unique fish, and I was off on another mega art project.  This one took me most of the winter while I researched each fish and auditioned pieces to depict their particular ‘style’ (skin, fins, tail, face, etc.)  I struggled with the background, but settled on a simple arrangement reminiscent of the vintage patchwork pattern which inspired this piece.  I imagine these fish as equals coming together to confer about topics of mutual interest such as the health of their waterways and changes in their environment.   It was a true pleasure to delve into their lives a bit!

These Boots Were Made For . . .

While recovering from ankle surgery, the thought of pushing my foot into a boot again seemed almost impossible.  I started thinking about boots quite a lot and made a list of as many as I could think of – for future collage projects.  Now years later, I wear boots of all kinds again – and the list reminded me that they wanted their portraits done.  It all starts with the humble rubber boots that are a ‘must have’ for every Alaskan.

The Trusty Cast-Iron Pans

This group of pans greets me every morning – and asks, ‘What are we doing today?’  When I think of how many meals have been made in those pans, my mind boggles.  The stove is much cleaner in the collage – someday I may tackle again the stain on the real stove.  It is stubborn!

The Art of Snowflakes

Years ago, I’d learned of the work W.A. Bentley did with photographing individual snowflakes in the early 1900s.  It opened up a new magical world for me, one I’ve never forgotten.  These 3.5″ collages are my interpretation of putting some of these beauties to color – as if they were dressing up for a night out.

Natural Collage

Here’s another scene of the transforming autumn plants – and a photo I’d taken years ago of an interesting collection of life.  It looks like a natural collage!

Autumn Beauty

This was my first autumn of retirement and I got to spend most of September outside.  This gave me a rare opportunity to watch the season change up close and I was taken in by the incredible beauty of the plants undergoing their transformation.  The fireweed, especially, holds a lot of wonder as it morphs in appearance several times during its short life.  One of my favorite versions is when the curly husks of the seed pods crown the multi-colored leaves.  As the seed flies away, it looks like it’s snowing in reverse.


After living in the Alaskan interior for 15 years, we had our first encounter with caribou along the Elliott Hwy.  They don’t normally travel this far south, and I since learned that this group may be a splinter herd from the larger Porcupine herd.  We’ve seen them several times since, so they must be here to stay in this area.  Each time is a special, almost spiritual, experience.

During the first visit, the group hung out at the summit of Wickersham Dome for about a week.  We had to navigate our car among them as if in a gauntlet.  There were groups milling around as if at a party – others were streaming across the road in fluid lines.  One even tried to race our car!  It ran alongside my side of the car, giving me an up-close and person view into its eyes.  My husband had to speed up in order to end the race, as it didn’t look like this individual would give up.  He figured it had reached up to 30 mph before we left it behind – and this was in about a foot of snow covering inches of ice – amazing!  I can see why some believe reindeer can fly!

Burning Bush

During my recovery from surgery last year, my dear husband would bring me sweet treats to help keep me interested (eating was a real chore then!).  I have always had an eye for sparkly, shiny and glittery things and the candy wrappers were no exception (nothing is safe from becoming a piece of art!).  They decided they wanted to be flames and so my burning bush idea was born.  I had also hoped to have some deep conversations with the Lord during my quiet convalescence and this idea seemed particularly relevant.

Welcome Home

The weekly blog photos of 2019 featured the bird ‘cafe’ that is just outside the sliding glass door on the deck.  I have come to love these birds and look forward to their return each year.  After the piece was finished, I ended up adding the redpoll.  The redpolls are unpredictable in their visits – some years, we gets gangs of them; other years, they stay away.  This time, they arrived half-way through the season after being elsewhere for a couple years and they too were welcomed home.  I love the way that the chickadees, grosbeaks and redpolls all get along together.  My rendition of the bird cafe morphed a bit for ease of construction, but it inspired a new paint job for the summer.





Here’s how it came together . . .

Among the Flowers (Ode to Belle)

These scenes are some of what I see outside the window to my ‘studio’ in the summer.  Fireweed grows naturally in these parts.  The delphiniums were a gift from a friend who warned me that they grow like this: first year: sleep; second year: creep; third year: leap.  And that’s just what they did!  Now that they’re well established, they’ve spread around to mingle with their pink sisters.  Each blossom opens from the bottom up – so you know that when the top is reached, there are only a few short weeks left of summer.

Recently, we laid our sweet dog to rest among these flowers – close to where two of her companions lie.  I can’t think of a better place for them to be – close to the house and surrounded by the beautiful nature of our little refuge.  As the blooms of summer remind us, time is short – but what a time it is!  Rest in peace, baby girl.

Sunny Storm

You may recognize this set of trees from the weekly blog showing their seasonal progress over the year.  One day in July 2017, we came home to a very dark cloud hanging over the house.  But at the same time, the sun was shining from a different angle, lighting up the birch trees.  The color combination of the neon green against the stormy gray really caught my eye – not a combination I would probably have thought of.  The contrast was striking.  Add a few touches of bright white tree trunks and happy magenta fireweed and it was a scene that had to be preserved.  This is my current favorite of all the collages.

Jackson in the Closet

This is also one of my favorites!  I’d asked my daughter if she had any photos she’d like me to transform into a collage.  She sent this one of her silly dog, Jackson, who likes to supervise her wardrobe selections!

Point Hope, Alaska

This was a photo taken by the same friend who was my partner in the ‘Masterpiece Called Earth’ experience.

Arctic Haze

From Wikipedia:  Arctic haze is the phenomenon of a visible reddish-brown springtime haze in the atmosphere at high latitudes in the Arctic due to anthropogenic[citation needed] air pollution. A major distinguishing factor of Arctic haze is the ability of its chemical ingredients to persist in the atmosphere for an extended period of time compared to other pollutants. Due to limited amounts of snow, rain, or turbulent air to displace pollutants from the polar air mass in spring, Arctic haze can linger for more than a month in the northern atmosphere.

Sea Ice Series

These images from a recent publication of Arctic Field Program News inspired my Sea Ice Series.  After doing the first one in blue and white, I had to do a couple more since it was so fun!  Top left is ‘Bering Strait Break-Up’; top right is ‘Land of Fire and Ice’; bottom is ‘Breaking Up Under the Northern Lights’.

Lion King 1

A quilt challenge on the theme Lion King inspired me to make this lion for my husband.  Before we could even have it framed, we came home one day to find it in a million shreds!  Our sweet baby girl dog must not have liked the face or something because she attacked it with gusto.  As devastated as I was, I had to laugh at the dog taking on the lion – and winning!  (Thank goodness this image was taken before it got destroyed.)

Lion King 2

Just as the movie had a sequel, this project has one too.  I had to let some time go by before trying this lion again, but worked on it over a Christmas break.  It felt more like an assignment than a project so it wasn’t as fun (redoing something never really is!).  It now hangs over the piano my husband plays – truly a labor of love.

Ice Water

This is a sister collage to the ‘famous’ one which traveled the world.  I love the colors of the blues as the water deepens.

Cold as Ice Blues

This collage was actually in an art show in Antarctica: check it out!  The story of this project is described in the ‘Exhibitions’ section.

July Bouquet

This was a bouquet an instructor had left with me after their summer final exam was over.  I took it home for the 4th of July weekend, when it rained every day!  This also gives a glimpse of my work ‘studio’ (a small table in the kitchen!)

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