Chillin’ with the Belugas

Belugas Swimming Under an Iceberg, 12×24, acrylic on canvas, $500. Prints coming soon.

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.

Midnight in the Tongass

Midnight in the Tongass, 12×16 acrylic on canvas, $400.00. Available for purchase at the Art Shop Gallery, Homer Alaska. Prints coming soon!

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.

Sneak peek

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!

Exciting New Venture!

I’ve been outside (Alaskan for the rest of the US) for a trip to visit this beauty:

Meet Lily

This is Lily, the newest member of the Twin Spruce family! Lily is a purebred Jersey cow, 2.5 years old, gentle, and milking like a dream. Lily lives in Montana right now and we traveled down to meet her and learn more about keeping a family milk cow from her current family, who kindly (and patiently) shared their knowledge and wisdom with me.

learning the ins and outs of using a milking machine

Here I am trying to learn how to operate a single cow milking machine. Its not as easy as it looks with hands as small as mine. So many tubes and hoses and such to try to hold on to and simultaneously coordinate. (Coordination is not my strong suit.) But Lily (and her family) were very patient and kind and after a few tries I think I kinda sorta got the hang of it.

Which is good because come spring we are building a barn and bringing this beautiful creature home with us to Alaska. I am already dreaming of pure fresh, creamy Jersey milk (pure A2/A2 if you are interested) and all of the goodies I can make with it. Butter, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Lots of cheese, which Lily’s family was also kind enough to teach me how to make. The generosity of people sometimes takes me by surprise. I only hope I can pay it forward once I become proficient enough myself.

Beautiful Lily

In the meantime I am dreaming…

New Studio!

I am pretty excited! Looks like I will finally have a dedicated studio space instead of making due with the kitchen table, corners of bedrooms and living rooms, and even, this summer, a little cargo trailer parked in the driveway as a studio.

This is it!
The humble beginnings

We bought a 10 x20 shed and plopped it down next to the garden and will be remodeling it into a studio space where I can finally spread out and really get down to business making some art. With this much space I should have space not only to paint, but to do sculpture, fiber arts, and bookmaking, too- all things I enjoy getting creative with.

Right now, it’s like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to see what it becomes. I look forward to updating our progress as we install windows, French doors, flooring, cabinets, etc, etc…

Atmosphere

Although my paintings are inspired by what I see around me, usually nature-inspired, sometimes the subject matter for my paintings is not specifically Alaska-related. This is an example of a piece with a more universal theme.

Atmosphere

This painting, titled Atmosphere, is a mixed media piece on a cradled wood panel. Lady Atmosphere is draped with clouds. The draping is actual fabric (coated in a clear acrylic varnish for protection) and highly textural. There are collage elements as well. Each of the spheres represent certain parts of our atmosphere: carbon (black), water molecules (blue), nitrogen (yellow), and sunshine (gold). You cant really tell from the photo (which is a little dark) but the sphere being held in Lady Atmosphere’s hand is shiny metallic gold.

Of course, you can feel free to interpret it any way you wish. That is one of the wonderful things about art. It speaks to each of us in a different way, according to our own senses and experiences.

I have the atmosphere on my mind lately because of all of the smoke from the many wildfires in Alaska right now, some of which are too close for comfort, though not close enough for our immediate concern. I’m hoping Lady Atmosphere will see fit to shed some rain upon us pretty soon. We sure could use it.

Atmosphere is 11×14, mixed media collage on cradled wood panel, and is available for sale for $300. Inquire via email at twinsprucestudio@gmail.com

Sandhill Crane Sunset

New painting to share.

I just can’t get enough of these amazing birds. They will be taking off by their hundreds and thousands, heading south soon in their raucous yearly migration. It’s quite a sight, but I hate to see it happen, not only because I love seeing them around, but because it means summer is at its end, and fall is here, with winter close on its heels.

The colts are just taking their first tentative flights, so I figure we have a few more weeks with these beauties yet, so I’m greedily drinking up all of the sightings I can. And then it’s only memories until next spring when they arrive en masse again.

The painting, Sandhill Crane Sunset, is 12×24 acrylic on canvas and is available for purchase. I haven’t decided yet if I will be making prints available for this title. If so I will post that info along with the picture info in the gallery.

Egg Overload

In the quest for greater self sufficiency sometimes we come upon some interesting challenges. For instance, what do you do when these:

Eleanor Roosevelt is one of our “First Ladies.” (The first three chickens we raised.)
Pipi and Charlotte

Produce way too many of these?

So many eggs!

My daughter has been selling some of our excess eggs to earn money for buying a computer, but so far supply is far outpacing demand. And our family can only eat so many eggs fried, poached, boiled, deviled and scrambled. We’ve had our share of omelettes and quiche as well and are growing tired of these tried and true egg basics. So I’ve been giving my recipe books a workout to find more ways to use up eggs, including baked egg custards, home made mayonnaise, lots of quick breads (zucchini, banana, cranberry) bread pudding…and still we have eggs.

And then I thought of this:

Pasta!

Yeah, baby, six eggs per batch! This is going to put a serious dent in the egg population around here! I’ve been making batches of pasta by hand, but that is exhausting, so I just got pasta roller and pasta cutter attachments for my kitchen aide stand mixer so I can really crank out the noodles. I will never have to hit up the pasta aisle again!

So glad to be able to find a way to adequately use up the bounty our girls produce. I needed to get that sorted this year because next year we are getting a cow and I’m going to have gallons and gallons of milk and cream to find ways of using. The abundant blessings of farm life. Gotta love it.