The landscape still looked drab as spring tried to charge through winter’s long occupation. The Dells were visiting for a few days. Natalia basked in the camp rocker and Rachelle read. Chas and Nate were fishing and having no success with the powerful strong flow of the Piedra River. I found a spot along the eroded shoreline and let my feet dangle off the small cliff. I was skeptically of this unassuming spot – the water a muddy green with little sign of new spring life.

But then the richness of the micro landscape at my feet began to sweep me away with each observation of color, contrast, shadow and movement. My skepticism melted away in a torrent of transcending. How would I capture it all? I hoped that everyone wouldn’t want to leave too soon.

“Rocks on the Shore in Spring” – A watercolor study


Carrying the huge white plastic laundry basket up from the laundry room at the main house along the horse pasture fence I caught sigh of Denali grazing the plentiful late spring grass. Captivated, I set my basket down on the driveway, ignoring the internal thoughts of chores and the mundane. I climbed through the fence, grabbed a generous handful of mane and swung on bareback. Denali settled back into eating peacefully, but another villain had hitched a ride into this sanctuary: my cell phone. I soon found myself hands free of my little mustang answering texts.

All at once Denali caught sight of the gaudy unnaturally white laundry basket behind her. With springtime and mustang reflex she half reared and bolted, somersaulting me off her right hindquarter.

Humiliated but not hurt I rubbed my side as she casually wandered back to let me get on again. I swung back on but this time I remained fully present, taking everything in.

That evening with the vision of her rearing, twisting and bolting still burned into my mind as I somersaulted off of her I painted “Ambush.”

The lines I painted are similar to a charcoal sketch. It took several attempts to develop the image since watercolors can’t be erased. The colors and lines are very primitive. Looking back perhaps it is a tribute to all the instinctual powers of survival horses possess.

Dragons in the Garden

Dear Lydia Hope,

I bought reduced priced flowers at the grocery store for only $1.00 a bunch. I can’t wait for spring and summer when I can pick wildflowers here at the house and paint on the porch. But it was a cozy night painting with the woodstove and vase of flowers on the table – just like when you were here. I picked a lily to paint and started with the detailed pattern of markings on the inside and flushed out the petal shapes by adding water and just a little paint.

I was surprised how the flower turned out. It looked more like a reptile than a flower. It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized Chas was watching the animated series “Dragons: Race to the Edge” based off of the movie “How to Train Your Dragon” while I was painting. To be honest I think I need to change the name from “Herald” which I came up with looking at the flower and not the painting because the lily reminded me of a trumpet. I think I will rename it “Dragon in the Garden”.

Now I it feels less disjointed when I relate to this piece and I like the tension.

Love, Rachel