Susie MacMurry and Olivia Jeffries

Argus - Made with peacock feathers

I am having a rather slow start to my studio day this week. This morning I got distracted by, of all things, my bible study! Who knew you could get so lost in Judges chapter eight and nine? Well I did, and now my head is full of all kinds of crazy old testament goings on.

Now I am trying to bend my brain back into the pieces I am working on, which have absolutely nothing to do with ephods, brambles, or millstones.  Although those things together might make an interesting piece all on their own. Hmm, I'll just file that away for another day.

So, without further distraction, here are some artists that inspire me, may they inspire you also:

Susie MacMurry's work was sent me almost two years ago by my friend Kate Van Dyke. I continue to look at her pieces when I am in need of something visually interesting. I love her use of materials, and how very ethereal all her work is. The portfolio on her website is only updated to 2008. I so hope she is still making work!


Echo (detail) - Yes! These are hair nets.


Shell (detail) - Velvet filled mussel shells - Why did I not think of this?

Gauze Bandage - Can you believe this is a drawing? Gorgeous. 

Olivia Jeffries is another artists whose drawings I have been enjoying. She draws on pages from old books, how could I not love it! The way she keeps thing so simple makes her drawings wonderfully mysterious. I think I would use the word ethereal for her work also. In a world so over-stimulated, I love looking at quiet whispers of things. 

Something so Utterly Sublime

My Secret Self/At Rest

Everyone Wants a Piece of You When You're Pretty

Surely I Don't Exist if You Can't See Me


Enjoy these two talented ladies. I smell my melted wax, so I am off to tackle my own creations. Have a happy Friday!


Friday in the Studio

Friday is my studio day. It is the only day I have to spent entirely working on art, and I am trying to be militant about protecting it. I had a great time last Friday because I had just rearranged and reorganized my space. I love a fresh and clean space to work in! I am working on a new encaustic that is a wedding gift for some friends who got married last fall. Here are a few shots from Friday:

Starting my inspiration page in my sketchbook

The Beginning

Trying something new on a second layer

At the end of the day ... not finished yet!

I am also working on an encaustic piece for Lent. It is still in the incubation stage, but I am excited about the ideas that are tumbling around in my head. I am thinking on the text from some Lenten Hymns; using purples, violet-golds, and red-violets; and looking at a small collection of nails I have from the 1900's.

Lenten inspiration on my cork board



At The Grunewald Guild - Waxing Poetic: Painting the Psalms

I am very excited to be going to the Grunewald Guild in April to lead a workshop with Shannon Newby. I met Shannon at the Laity Lodge during a retreat for pastors to artists. For a year I had been using her images when teaching workshops on combining found objects with wax. When we met (and I realized this was the woman whose work I loved) I was thrilled! By the end of the weekend she had introduced me to my new love: encaustic. I am so grateful to have met her and for our growing friendship. It is an honor and a delight to be a part of this workshop with her.

If you are in the area (or not), please think about coming. There are only eight spots available and I know it has already started filling up. I think it is going to be a really rich few days. The Grunewald Guild is a retreat center located just outside of beautiful Leavenworth, Washington. The Wenatchee River Valley holds some of the most glorious landscape in the country. The setting alone is incredibly inspiring. Here is what the weekend will look like:

"Waxing Poetic: Painting the Psalms" 
with Shannon Newby and Phaedra Taylor, April 30-May 2

Wax is mentioned several times in the Psalms. Each time, it’s used to describe something different. For this weekend, we’ll begin uncovering what the wax imagery in the Psalms is saying about God’s character. You’ll learn how to paint with hot wax at the same time (a process called encaustic painting). Come with your Bible and a willingness to be creative!

Day 1: Trusting our Creator, Trusting our creativity. Trust your creative instincts! As we talk about painting with hot wax, we’ll unpack what Psalm 22 says about our need to trust in the Lord. We'll discuss the question, "How can we begin trusting God in our creativity, especially when our hearts feel defeated and 'melted'?"

Day 2: Righteous God vs unrighteous self. Watch the wax melt away, as we learn to use the heat tools to fuse, mold and manipulate the wax. We’ll discuss Psalm 68’s depiction of righteousness vs. unrighteousness and how that relates to the melting wax imagery. We'll ask the question, "How can we, as Christian artists, strive to be more righteous?"

Day 3: God's glory and not our own. During this study, we’ll learn to embed mixed media elements into the wax, as we delve into Psalm 97. We’ll also be talking about laying down our art as an act of worship, and asking, "How can we give God the full glory in our art-making?"

Cost of the workshop is $200 with room, board and materials included, $75 for class and materials only.

More information and registration can be found at the Grunewald website. Hope to see you there!


From the Kitchen

It has been a while since I posted anything about food.  Lately, I have been in the habit of making things that are easy and hearty. Most of my energy is being taken up with teaching and art making; food creativeness has slipped to a lower priority. On a rather trim (student) budget I am just focusing on packing as much nutrition as possible into our meals. On Saturday I made this Yellow Pea Soup for the fifth time and it still made me do a little dance of delight when I tasted it! I figured it was worth sharing, especially with all this cold weather we are having. Soup is always comforting and this one is especially nourishing.  

The recipe is taken from the book: Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. I usually don't like to post many recipes directly from cookbooks. I think it is always a good idea to support hard working writers and buy their books. However, I find that I am more likely to buy a book if I have tried at least one recipe from it. So think of this as a little introduction to a cookbook that I absolutely love! It was a gift and one that I have used and enjoyed very much.

Yellow Pea and Coconut Milk
Soup (with spinach, rice and spiced yogurt)

2 cups yellow peas, rinsed and soaked for at least 1 hour if possible
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 to 4 tbls of butter, light sesame oil or a mixture (I used butter)
1 lrg onion finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro stems minced
1 1/2 teas ground turmeric
1 teas ground cardamon
1/2 teas ground cinnamon
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 15oz can coconut milk
juice of 1 large lime (I use two)
3 tbls shopped cilantro ( I used more)

 Cooked rice

1/2 teas EACH ground turmeric and paprika
1/4 teas EACH cumin seeds and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup yogurt

large bunch of spinach washed

1. Drain peas (from soaking) and put in pot with 2 quarts of water. bay leaves, cloves and 1 1/2 teas salt. Bring to boil, lower and simmer. Cook partially covered while doing next steps. 

2. Melt butter in skillet over med heat. Add onions and cilantro stems. Cook until onion colors and softens (about 10 min). Add spices and cook for a few minutes. Add 1/2 cup water from the cooking peas. Cook until water has cooked away. 

3. Add onions and spices to the simmering peas and cook until both are very soft, about an hour. Remove bay leaves and cloves and puree. Return puree to stove and stir in coconut milk. Add lime juice and season salt and pepper by taste. Stir in chopped cilantro. 

4. Make rice. Combine spice with yogurt and set aside. Wilt Spinach. Spoon into each bowl some rice, some spinach, some soup, and then a spoonful of spiced yogurt. 


In Deborah Madison's book you will find no less than ten lentil and pea soups. She has a whole wonderful chapter on bean soups. Many other delights await you in these pages: Rutabaga and Leek Chowder; Silky Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup; Roasted Squash, Pear, and Ginger Soup. I could eat these soups every day! I hope you enjoy eating this one.

What is your favorite soup?


James M. Smith


For a while I have been wanting to write a post on having a schedule. Making a schedule for myself has really helped me to accomplish artistic things each week. However, this week did not play by my schedule rules at all. So perhaps it is not the best time to go on about the benefits of my schedule keeping. Another time.

In my schedule for the spring there are two blocks of time to write on the blog. One on Friday and one on Monday. Fridays are also my studio work days, and my plan is to post a short blog about an artist, picture, or quote that has been informing my work. Just something to warm me up and get me thinking before I start working. So today, at the beginning of Friday Inspiration posts, I have James M. Smith to share with you.

Gros Ventre

I love the layering and texture he achieves in a way that looks effortless. Can't you imagine him just sticking these pieces of fabric and paper on top of each other at random? I know it took much thought, but I so enjoy its feeling of spontaneity.  I am trying to learn from him about using color in the midst of a mostly neutral palette, and including texture while retaining simplicity. I really like texture and I tend to either go over-board, or not include it at all.

Green River-R

I also am drawn to how abstract these are; it encourages me as I try to move in that direction with my own work. I am having trouble navigating the question, "What is it about?", as I try to make things that are more visceral and intuitive.  I want to practice making things from my gut, but when I know that people are going to ask me that question, I get distracted trying to answer it. In that distracted place I am tempted to give them something more representational to hang on to. These are so beautiful that it encourages me to keep trying.


My wax is now melted in my crock pot, my is desk clean, and I am off to give some of these ideas a try. Happy Friday!