I was lucky to spot a large pod of belugas in Cook Inlet a few weeks ago. With no pack ice to camouflage them in the summer, they really stand out with their bright white color and can be easily sighted splashing and rolling as they hunt their fishy prey. Such charismatic little whales, I can help but smile whenever I see them. With the corners of their mouths naturally upturned, I like to imagine they are smiling back at me.
One of my very favorite places on earth is the Tongass National Forest. It is the largest national forest in the US at 16.7 million acres and is also the largest intact temperate rain forest ecosystem in the world. A visit to the Tongass, located in coastal SE Alaska is pure magic. The forest is dominated by huge stands of Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar, and Western Hemlock. Though logging has been an important influence on the Tongass in the past, large portions of the forest are now protected by the Roadless Rule. In addition to being home to three Alaska Native nations, the Tongass is a vital part of the cycle of salmon species in Alaska. The Tongass filters and cleans the abundant rain water as it flows into rivers and then the oceans. The many rivers are vital habitat for young salmon, which then migrate to the oceans, and after several years feeding, return to the rivers to spawn and die. Their bodies then return nutrients to the Tongass in a beautiful never ending cycle.
If you ever get a chance to visit Southeast Alaska, I highly recommend a hike through the Tongass, where you can enjoy the unparalleled natural beauty, breath the fresh air, and dip your toes into icy streams that lead to dramatic rocky shorelines. It is a true gem.
The lupine are in bloom and the bees are buzzing. It’s a beautiful time of year in Alaska.
Here is a little sneak peek at a few of my paintings that will be debuting in June at my show at the Art Shop Gallery in Homer, AK. See if you can tell from these little slivers what the whole pieces are!
Did I give you enough of a glimpse to guess? See these in their entirety and more at the show!
Opening is Friday June 5 and show runs through the end of the month. I hope to see you there!
In honor of the 28th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival (which is virtual this year, May 7-10) , always a highlight of the year here on the Kenai Penninsula, I’m sharing my own little shorebird:
The tiny bird is a detail from a mixed media piece titled “Surf Song,” part of my “Earthsong” series, which features vintage sheet music combined with scenes from nature. The entire piece below:
Also available in the Earthsong series:
Kachemak Bay is one of the world’s top shorebird viewing destinations, with over 100,000 birds of 25+ species migrating through in early May. Truly a sight to see. Go grab some virtual binoculars and join in all the birding fun!
On this most somber of Earth Days, let us not lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us, and is within each of us. We will get through this together.
By Mary Oliver
I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.
Because Milo would really like to know.
As would these folks:
We were just wondering…
It isn’t much, but since the art world is currently in a holding pattern, and I want to feel useful, I’ve temporarily converted the art studio into a sewing studio.
I haven’t sewn since my quilting phase many years ago, and I never was very good at it even then, but I drug the sewing machine out of storage, dusted it off, and began sewing face masks and surgical caps as requested by our local hospital. (Patterns here:City of Homer, AK)
It’s just a small way to help in the grand scheme of things, but we do what we can, right?
Stay well, everyone.
I have some exciting news to share! It has been recently confirmed that I will be having my very first show in June! The opening will be the first Friday of June (June 5th) and running through the end of month at The Art Shop Gallery in Homer, Alaska! I am pretty excited as this is a big step for me as an artist. Homer is such a supportive and welcoming community and I am so happy to be a part of it.
I have been busily working on some new work to debut at the show, so I wont be showing these pieces here until after the show, but in the mean time, I can show you this new piece currently on display in the Art Shop Gallery:
This piece was inspired by one of my very favorite things to do–Tide Pooling! I just love exploring tide pools along the rocky coastlines of Alaska. So many fascinating, colorful creatures. It is a great thing to do with kids, and I’ve loved introducing my children and grandchildren to this wonderful natural experience. I cannot begin to do it real justice in a piece of art, but this is my attempt to capture a tiny bit of the amazing microcosm that is a tide pool. In addition, the piece also depicts the surge of migrating salmon as they push through on the incoming tide. I hope you enjoy it, and it inspires you to get out and explore a tide pool, beach, reef, or seabed near you!
It is a beautiful new year here at Twin Spruce; cold and clear and full of the promise of spring as the days get ever so slightly longer each day.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I did. Paint more! Read more! Grow more food! Like everyone else I start off the new year with a great deal of enthusiasm for the year ahead and like (mostly) everyone else that enthusiasm starts to wane around February or so when winter stubbornly refuses to go away. And then March. And then April…Spring comes late up here and its easy to give up hope. But May eventually does come and this year I have so many reasons to stay enthused, because this summer looks to be an incredible one with our milk cow arriving, our vegetable production expanding, and my very first art show (details to come)! I can’t afford to slack off now or I wont be ready in time. I have paintings to paint, seeds to order, and a barn to plan and help build. So I guess I’ll just have to bundle up and get to it!
Misty Morning Tundra Swan (11×14 acrylic on canvas) is available to view or purchase at the Art Shop Gallery in Homer, Alaska, along with several of my other paintings and prints.