The Divine in the Mundane


Asiatic Lily










It’s amazing I ever get where I’m going because I’m always getting lost along the way!

These images are from my front yard.  The most typical of suburban plants you can find.  Yet I get mesmerized from my mail box to my front door every morning.

It most likely stems from being cooped up for way to many months.  All of a sudden one blade of green grass is enough hope to allow you to dream of being warm again. But the morning dew is what distracts me enough to pull out my camera.

My camera is like a microscope and telescope all built into one.  It allows me to filter out that which is over-stimulating and at the same time see the world at a distance.

I can only imagine what my neighbors must think about the woman sitting in her front yard flower bed talking to herself (but then again they must be used to it).

But I was talking to myself. These words came right out loud and I was not thinking them:

Even the most common, through a lens, looks majestic.

Now this is where I started talking back to myself.  I thought where ever that beautiful observation came from, which I swear was not me, I agree with you!

I said out loud. “You are so right!”.

When you here a voice inside you that you know not to be your own, yes, you could call yourself bat-shit crazy. But, I’m of the opinion that we all have a higher Form within us.  You can call intuition, you can call it God, your Higher Self –whichever; it’s there.

It’s that we don’t hear it until we are quiet.

I urge you, while your walking your dog, walking yourself or walking to the mailbox, try it.

Grab your camera and hone in on your little part of this world.IMG_4370

Even the every day can appear majestic! 



I went wandering through the house this morning looking for elements for a still life.

First I chose a Santa mug, a couple of candy canes and a snowman snow globe. It was cute, but almost too cute.

Next I was traipsing through the neighborhood collecting holly, berries, and pine sprigs.  Funny thing was, they just weren’t Martha Stewart caliber.  I wound up stuffing them in my hedge and heading home.

I came back in the house a little disheartened.  I’m feeling like I want to paint something Christmassy, There is Christmas stuff everywhere I look, yet nothing seems you know, right.

I made a cup of tea and quieted my brain.  I asked myself the question “If I did paint a holiday painting what would I actually hang on my wall?”  The answer was not much!  I don’t want santas, reindeer, snowmen or elves.  It would have to be prettier than that.  It would have to be colorful….I began to finally get somewhere…I started to look around the house with fresh eyes…when I gazed at my Christmas tree.  I didn’t want to do a tree painting, but the ornaments, the ornaments, each one of them is prettier than the next.

I pulled some off the tree and began photographing.


To me vintage ornaments have a quality that simply cannot be matched by our present day adornments.  That icy blue, minty green,  and cherry red are so crisp and illuminating.

They quite simply make me happy.

My friend Kim gave me the large blue ball as a present.  It’s an antique.  The blue pine cone ornament came with my family from Hungary two generations ago and the others I have slowly collected, treating myself at antique shops and sometimes scoring big at thrift shops.  I adore each and every ornament and yet they are so fragile, so perishable, so hard to retain.


Now how cliché is this?  I actually pulled a toy football and broken ornament off of my tree.  How many times do you have to tell kids “NOT IN THE HOUSE!!!”  That’s something I’ve learned about ornaments over a lifetime.  They break.  I have broken a hundred I’m sure.  I will break many more, but just like fine china, if you don’t use it every day it sort of loses it’s purpose and if you’re not enjoying it every day, then what’s the frigging point?

I use my vintage finds, I enjoy them, they break and instead of feeling bad about it, I get excited.  It means I now have a reason to hunt for another new treasure!

I love today’s photographs.  They make me want to fill my entire house with this color palette.  They make me want to eat grandmas butter cookies, listen to Bing Crosby, drink cocoa, jingle bells, partake in  a little rum punch and why not, eat a little fruit cake!


It took me a little time today, but I found my inspiration.

  I sketched out the foundation of a painting and tomorrow I will attempt to capture a little bit of that Christmas magic.

Is it even possible to capture twinkle?

Join me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary


#325 - THE SCAVENGER (4)

I had the most peaceful & glorious day.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (5) #325 - THE SCAVENGER (3) #325 - THE SCAVENGER (1)

I went to a favorite old hunting ground looking for driftwood.  I plan on making some sculptures in the next few days.#325 - THE SCAVENGER (8)

I spent 4 hours today hunting, scavenging, hauling logs, filling my car with at least 300 pieces of wood, shells and beach debris.

And then I went home and organized it all.

These were my categories( The top photo going clockwise).  Human trash, tree bark, squiggly roots, shimmer shells, stumps, small and medium driftwood, sea glass and an awesome brick I couldn’t pass up.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (6)

It’s too bad I don’t live in NYC.  This found-object industrial wire sculpture is straight out of MOMA.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (7)

I title this work of art “Sea Legs”.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (2)

And this one, “The Serpent of Green Hill”.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (10)

This one “Nesting”.

#325 - THE SCAVENGER (9)

And this one “Peak-a-boo”.

I had these beaches all to myself today.  In four hours I only saw one other human being.  A fellow artist I enjoyed speaking to.

Every day I am more certain than ever, just how much I enjoy being a hermit.  I LOVE being alone.  It is the most quiet and focused part of my day.

Of course it’s great to have friends and family to reunite with at the end of my day, but I’ve really learned a lot about myself this year.  I don’t want to work in an office, classroom or storefront.  I want to work alone.  I love it.

My husband is going to be just thrilled with what I’ve done with the patio.  There’s about a 20 foot long pile of beach debris for him to navigate through.  I’ll have to keep the neighbors dogs away too!

OK.  I’ve collected my materials, now let’s see what I can create with them… stay tuned.

Join me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary

Day #207 – The Block Island Ferry at Sunset

#207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (1)

This ferry painting is the third in a series on Block Island, Rhode Island.

#178 - View From Old Harbor Block Island #188- BLOCK ISLAND STAR DEPARTMENT STORE (1) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (1)

I plan on painting most of the buildings in Old Harbor.

Here is the progression of the ferry over the last three days:

#205- SAIL AWAY ON THE BLOCK ISLAND FERRY (1) #206 - CAROL JEAN -THE BLOCK ISLAND FERRY #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (1)

I wrote quite a bit on the ferry, so if you are interested, check the last three days of posts.

I was wondering if any of you wondered about the background I chose?

Were some of you thinking, why would somebody paint such an over-the-top sky?  It’s almost ridiculous!

Well yeah, it probably does look ridiculous to some, but if you’ve been to Block Island, then you know what dusk looks like on the island.  Here are some of my sunset photos spanning the last decade.  All of them have the same thing in common,

#207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (2) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (3) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (4) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (5) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (6) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (7) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (8) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (9) #207- The Block Island Ferry at Sunset (10)

Pink, blue, & purple.

What’s awesome, is this is a daily occurrence!   A daily phenomena!   A daily miracle!

It’s one of the first things I think of when I think of the island and that’s why I painted it that way.

So, call my backgrounds over-the-top, maybe even strange, but for those of us who have been there, who have seen the sunsets with our own eyes, it makes perfect sense.

Join me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary

#181 – MOO TWO

#181- MOO TWO (1)

I’m on a cow kick!

I just think they are amazingly beautiful.  So sturdy. So solid. this is one of the cows I photographed at the cattle farm on Block Island.

This is my final postcard painted on Block Island.  Today we came back to the mainland to resume our regular life.  Boo Hoo.

It is nice to have a fast internet connection I must say.  I spent many an hour putting the posts together this past week.  It took about 20 minutes to upload a single photograph and of course I had to upload dozens of them.  It was hard not to! I have so many favorites.

Here are my favorites from the past two days:

#181- MOO TWO (3) #181- MOO TWO (4) #181- MOO TWO (5) #181- MOO TWO (9) #181- MOO TWO (8) #181- MOO TWO (6)

I can’t believe my husband and I combined, took 1,594 photos this past week.  I’m psyched.  I shouldn’t have to worry about figuring out what to paint for months!  So many beautiful nature shots.

As for having to work on my 365 Art & Creativity Challenge during vacation,  it was super hard.  There were so many family and friends, not to mention young in’s busy doing something every minute of vacation.  I was afraid of holding people up or not being “present” which caused me to have to work very early in the morning and very late at night.  It sort of took the relaxation out of my trip, but I look at it this way,  it’s only one year.  That’s a drop in the bucket.  One or two vacations altered is nothing.

2013-06-30 07.44.26

Plus.  If I didn’t push myself, I wouldn’t be coming home with a wonderful little collection of souvenirs.  There is a lot of work involved, but there is also quite a bit of reward.

I’m looking forward to working on some more Block Island artwork.  I had a great week.  The island’s beauty is permanently ingrained in my soul.

Join me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary


2013-06-27 12.34.54

Painting complete!

This is a 16″x 16″ pen & watercolor drawing of the old harbor on Block Island, RI.  There are so many beautiful Victorian buildings on this Island.  I’d love to do a whole series of paintings of the buildings.  I better take some more photos!!!

Here is the progression of this painting:

2013-06-25 21.58.46 IMG_0191 2013-06-27 12.34.54

If you look at the middle photo, you can see I initially had the sky blue.  I felt like the sky was too close to the colors of the buildings, so today I painted a wash of pinks and oranges into the sky.  I feel like now there is enough contrast between the two.  The buildings get to pop.

I also added in a bunch of shadows today.  I always think that is the most fun part of painting.  The smallest things make the biggest difference. They help create depth.

It’s taken most of my vacation to realize I really needed to scale down the scope of my daily projects.  We are never at our cottage. I’ve been coming back around 9pm every night and working until midnight…which doesn’t feel very vacation-like! 

This afternoon I pulled out a postcard sized Cotman watercolor pad.  The paper is 5×8″ inches. Now this is something I might be able to tackle in between beach combing, hiking and ice cream eating!  I did two small sketches today and I will begin painting them in the morning.

2013-06-27 20.39.36 2013-06-27 20.39.30

I will leave you the same way I’ve departed every day this week, with some of my favorite photos of the day. Any chance I get, you’ll find me snapping away at the majestic beauty of this island.  Some time in January when the ground is frozen, I’ll have all of these photos to  inspire and keep me energized.

2013-06-27 10.29.30

2013-06-27 10.29.57

2013-06-27 12.58.48

2013-06-27 16.49.30 - Copy

2013-06-27 17.20.42

2013-06-27 10.00.41

2013-06-27 10.24.20 2013-06-27 19.56.11

We started off the day with donuts fried right off Payne’s Dock and finished off the day with ice cream cones.

Truly, another perfect day!

Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary

#177 – OLD HARBOR VIEW Block Island


Greetings!  Yet another beautiful day on the Block!

I got to sneak in an hour or two in this morning to work on this watercolor and ink drawing of some of my favorite buildings in Old Harbor. I still have windows to fill and shadows to cast; I also think I am going to do a pink colored wash over the sky to make it more of a dusky color. There are so many buildings I’d love to draw.  For some reason, in the fantasy within my head, I thought I was going to have more time on vacation to “Be Creative”, not less.  As I have mentioned, my kids could care a flying fig that mommy decided to pull a 365 Day creativity challenge, they just want their mom there when they want her and they expect her to play very hard and her attention MUST be on them at all times…. Yeah, as usual, I’m having quite the challenge to do both, be a mom and anything else!

But I’m squeezing it in the best I can.  I’m trying!

So while I was out and about “not painting”, I continued to take in more of the island’s natural beauty.  I have to say, I am LOVING my Canon Rebel EOS camera.  It was a present from my husband and it is so addicting!  Taking pretty photos with a mediocre camera is fun and all, but taking photos with a higher quality camera is amazing!  You sort of get giddy when you see things and are able to capture them.  Your power of observation multiplies ten fold.   Going back to an old-school viewfinder trains and strengthens your eye for composition and fine detail.  I find photography so gosh darn fun.

Here are a few more favorite photos of the day.  I find myself naturally gravitating towards houses and buildings as my muse.  I love the juxtaposition of the wild farm fields and a little place of refuge.  I also adore the Victorian lines of many of the buildings.  So here are some building photos:

2013-06-25 11.20.19

2013-06-24 15.00.40

2013-06-24 09.34.29

2013-06-25 20.42.52

Oh and one more thing.  Every year, my husband and I (mostly my husband the cook!) host a Pizza on the Grill Dinner.

2013-06-26 19.21.37

2013-06-26 19.41.01

My husband grilled around 15 mini pizzas tonight, and then we load them with all different toppings.  We had fresh tomatoes, basil, peppers, onions, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, chicken and of course cheese.  Each pizza is different.  Then we cut all the pies into small pieces so we can taste them all.

Oh yeah baby, one of my favorite nights of vacation.  Thank you husband! Sure hope I can squeeze back into my bathing suit tomorrow!

Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary


2013-06-25 21.58.46

Another Perfect 10 on the Block!

This is a regatta week, so on top of your typical amazing views, add in one hundred sail boats circling the island, just for good measure.

2013-06-25 14.00.24b

This morning I started sketching out some of my favorite Victorian buildings down in Old Harbor.  There is something about old architecture and vacations.  They harken us all back to a simpler time.  A time when things were built with the utmost integrity and designed to beautify one’s local.  There was such an amazing attention to detail and quite frankly, things then were built to last.

Most of us would like to escape to a place like that right?

2013-06-23 12.47.57

Block Island’s Old Harbor is loaded with Victorian gems.

It took me quite a bit of time to draw in all the little details in this 16″x16″ Sakura Pigment drawing.  Tomorrow I’m going to paint it.  I get to add color and bring this work to life. My favorite part!

I’m going to spend the rest of this post sharing some of my favorite photos from the day:

IMG_9849 IMG_9850

Here were two cool rusty iron objects my daughter found beach combing.  She is always on the hunt for strange man-made artifacts.  No shells for my little one. You should have seen her lugging that crank shaft up the cliff.  It was way too heavy for her, but she was determined she was bringing this art sculpture home! God Bless her soul.

2013-06-25 11.33.46

OMG. I totally stopped to smell these roses!!!

2013-06-25 19.48.52

2013-06-25 20.02.49

I’m a sucker for a lone tree.

2013-06-25 19.49.28

I have no idea what these are.  They were growing wild in the field.  Their color was very faded as if the sun had been beating down on them for centuries.  I just loved their texture juxtaposed against the wheat.

2013-06-25 20.28.47

We finished up the day with a hike out to watch the sun set.  The clouds were moving in.  It was not looking promising, but man am I glad we saw it through.  At just the right moment, the bright red sun pierced through the clouds and gave us a knock-out sunset.

2013-06-25 20.19.18

2013-06-25 20.26.53

2013-06-25 20.45.41

It was truly, the end of a perfect day!

Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary



Greetings from Block Island!

Late last night I said I’d blog this morning and I didn’t and now somehow it’s late at night again.   I’m sorry about that.  I have learned not to make any promises, since I barely seem to have any control over my circumstances these days.  I’ve just gotta go with the flow or suffer the consequences!

I did finish last night’s painting though:


It’s a view from Mansion Beach.

I’ve taken a whole bunch of photos of our journey around the island the past two days.  I’m trying to download them as we speak, but I’m having difficulty with the really bad internet connection here.  I keep blogging and downloading and the system keeps failing.  So I’m learning to hit the “save” button a lot and I’m figuring out I need to make things quick!

I’ve  also figured out that I am most likely going to do pen and ink contour drawings and quick studies while on this trip.  I am taking tons of photographs that I plan on using for more serious pieces when I get home.  I can’t hold my family captive while I paint all day, nor do I have the right materials to do so anyhoo.

So from here on out, I’ll share some gorgeous photos of one of our favorite locations in the world, but don’t tell anyone about it, it will ruin what’s great about this place!

Here’s my posse heading out on the Block Island Ferry!


A view from my cottage:


Views from my friend’s cottage:

IMG_9801 IMG_9796


Views from Snake Beach:

IMG_9828 IMG_9791 IMG_9836

If you can’t tell, what’s great about Block Island is that it’s quiet and filled with nature.  High season isn’t very quiet, this is why we either go very early in the summer or in the fall. But if you catch it right, you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time in this country.  One of farms and rolling countryside.

Taking in all this beauty replenishes my soul.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow!

Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary


#156- MY POPPY PATCH (1)

For being a great lover of color, poppies are my ultimate muse!

I think I have mentioned this before, red and green is one of my favorite color combinations of all time.

A year ago I picked up a seed pack of poppies.  I planted them and some fern like leaves came up, but no poppies.  I sort of forgot about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I started I began to find these plants that looked like Venus fly traps:

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (3)

I had forgotten that I had planted the poppies and thought to myself ” whatever that is, it’s a little creepy!”.

But lo and behold, the most joyous bolt of color sprang from that hairy pod!

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (4)

Until I planted these beauties, I had no idea just how glorious  these flowers truly are, especially their centers.  They have shades of purple, black and periwinkle.  Against the red and green, they are pure ecstasy! I just knew I had to paint them!

As I looked down at the ground beside my poppy, I was amazed to see the pod:

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (2)

What a wild plant this is!

So here is today’s progression of my painting.  I started with a very basic sketch of all different profiles of the poppies in my garden.  I also loved the purple iris leaves in the background in my garden.  The sun just pops through them, so I added them to as well as some of the poppy leaves:

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (5)

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (6)

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (7)

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (1)

I just love the effect of looking at a simple pencil contour drawing and seeing the richness of the paint begin to emerge and come to life. It’s like moving from NO-D to 3-D!

#156- MY POPPY PATCH (1)b

When you look close up, they are just dabs and swirls of color, yet they take on a life.  A two-dimensional piece of paper begins to communicate something.  I just love it. It truly brings me joy.

Well, enjoy the painting in its “white” form, because tomorrow I will be filling it in with darks.  I want the bright yellows in the iris leaves and the reds of the poppy petals to glow and I think personally, this is best accomplished by having a dark background and allowing the light filled objects to be the brightest focal point in the painting.

This is an 18×24″ watercolor on 140 cold press paper.

Stay tuned  to see the finished piece tomorrow!

Thank you.

Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary