Mixed Media Collage “The Hawk”

Most of the birds who visit my feeders are small songbirds, Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Cardinals, and Juncos. The occasional arrival of a Hawk spells trouble for my usual friends. I was able to photograph this Hawk who I am fairly sure is a Cooper’s Hawk. During this fly-by no lives were lost. The collage had a mind of its own and developed into something I hadn’t planned. Maybe a happy accident.

Posted in birdfeeders, Birds, Birds of the Finger Lakes, Colored Pencils, Mixed Media, Photography, Time for Art, watercolor | Leave a comment

Map Doll and Mixed Media Collage

The October doll pattern from the Doll Pattern of the Month Circle is a map doll. The maker is challenged to think about something in your life that you want to map, the places you have lived, jobs you have held, life changes, etc. I chose to map the places I have lived. My list is modest- only a total of seven places. Born in the Bronx, NY, I moved at six months to Paramus NJ where I spent my formative years. At eighteen I attended college at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in Glassboro, NJ, and remained there after graduation where I rented my first apartment.  My first teaching job was in Salem NJ. At the end of the school year I decided to return to school for a MAE (Master of Art Education) and moved myself, my dog and my two cats to Providence, RI, where I attended Rhode Island School of Design.

My next chapter would include marriage and moving to a quaint three story house in Moorestown, NJ. We lived there for two years. I commuted to Mount Holly, NJ, to teach at Rancocas Valley Regional High School. Our next move was to Mount Holly- my commute was around the block, and yes, I still drove there most of the time. After two years in Mt. Holly, we had our daughter, Michele. Five years later, son, Michael arrived. They both attended the school where I worked and I remained there for 31 years.

Upon retirement, we eventually sold the NJ house and moved to Ithaca, NY. I moved in permanently in 2007 and my husband spent his time working on both houses until the NJ home sold in 2009. I love the Finger Lakes. Beautiful scenery, art supported community, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Wegmans, an abundance of wineries and restaurants and a number of state parks close by all add to the allure.

I miss our children and grandchildren.  Trips are limited due to aging pets who need lots of attention. New Jersey certainly played a large part in my life, but family and a few friends who remain there are the only attraction for me. It was nice to be close to Philadelphia and only a few hours from NYC.

My doll has iron on fabric transfers of the three homes where I have lived the longest. Machine embroidery including straight stitch, zig zag, borders and others decorate the surface. Having a little trouble attaching the legs properly left me with a doll who looks like an aging cheerleader mid jump. My doll has trouble sitting. After the doll was complete my collage took form. I have always loved cutting and pasting. In the early seventies when my brother was serving in the Army in Viet Nam, I wrote him letters with images I cut from magazines. Unfortunately the letters no longer exist, but I did enjoy the process…and still do.

Posted in collage, Colored Pencils, dolls, Family, maps, Mixed Media, patterns, Time for Art, watercolor, watercolor gouache | Leave a comment

How much is too much when it comes to our pets?

Pets have always been a part of my life. When I was an infant, living in a new, suburban house, my mother had a Welsh Corgi. Unfortunately the dog didn’t have a long life, but was quickly replaced by our notorious Beagle, Rusty. I’m pretty sure the first cat I remember was a tabby named Bootsie. He used to sit in the manger on top of the TV cabinet at Christmas. Then came Mimi, a terrier mix, followed by Pudgie, a miniature Poodle, and her puppy, Pixie, also a poodle. He-She the gray cat, rabbits, canaries, parakeets, goldfish, Thumbelina the tuxedo cat with thumbs, and probably others I have forgotten, were a staple in my mother’s house. My Dad wasn’t as enthusiastic, but he never interfered with the animal activities. Kids in the neighborhood would bring injured animals to my mother for help. There lies the beginnings of my attraction to and affection for animals.

When I was in college I acquired two cats and the best dog I ever knew, Too-Sweet. She was a one year old Standard Poodle/Old English Sheepdog mix. I answered an ad in the newspaper- which didn’t say free to good home. I wasn’t discouraged. When we first met I realized she needed my help and probably my mother’s help as well. She was a matted mess, very scared to leave the only home she knew, which was also home to her mother. Somehow I managed to just load her in my car and take her. I didn’t offer any money, and I guess they people were just relieved that someone wanted her. I could write a whole blog about this dog. She was perfect.

When I got married, I came with these two cats and Too-Sweet. My husband knew from the start I would never be without pets. He didn’t seem to mind. We had our first child, and Too-Sweet guarded her crib while the then baby Michele slept. Not long after we got a Too-Sweet look-a-like from a Humane Society Shelter that my cousin directed in Florida. She was known as Short-Cake and was also a fantastic dog and a good companion for Too-Sweet. Our son also enjoyed Short-Cake. Once these two were gone I was attempting to take a break from dog ownership when a friend introduced me (and my mother who was then living with us once my father died) to a adorable Corgi mix. This dog did his best to impress, get adopted, and then turn into the dog from hell.  My son, my mother, and I were probably the only people who did more than tolerate his bad habits and somewhat nasty temperment. I chose to believe his behavior was due to previous treatment, including being left on a road with a bag of food. Luckily my friend rescued him. We named him Ferris after I ran a contest with my high school students. I described his reddish fur and other traits. Ferris was the perfect name, probably conceived by my student after the movie character, Ferris Bueller.

There have been a multitude of cats, all of them special. I have reached the point where I have endured watching twelve dear pets undergo euthanasia. I now have three pets…one fourteen year old dog, Bella, a sixteen year old cat, Demi, and an eleven year old cat, Nebbiolo. With the advancing ages of all three pets comes the inevitable health issues and medications. I administer a total of fifteen medications daily to my pets. It becomes difficult to leave them in the care of another person. Luckily I have a brother who is very cat saavy and able to deal with them when both my husband and I have plans away from home. My husband will also care for them when I am away.  All these trips are brief, since I only ask that essential medications be given.  That has worked fairly well for the cats,  but now my dog, who always traveled with us,  is no longer able to deal with riding in the car. It has become better to just limit my own trips away.

My pets are totally dependent on me. This is a responsibilty I take seriously. It is one that takes priority in my daily life. I know when they are happy and also when their behavior has changed. I lost my beautiful Maine Coon cat, Frederick , to a tumor that was an indication that I should have even paid closer attention to his health.  He was on a diet to lose some weight and by the time I noticed he had lost too much, it was too late. Only a few months after his annual well visit, he went back and the tumor was found. A week later I had to euthanize him.

It has been mentioned by some that my animal priorities seem higher than my family priorities. At first I am angry about that statement, but in a way it might be true. My family, although extremetly important to me, is no longer dependent on me. I did my job, along with my husband, and we produced two wonderful children who grew into wonderful adults. They all live their own lives, and for now, luckily, don’t need me to be present all the time. The fact that we all don’t live in the same area is also a factor. Would I like to see them more often?  Of course I would. If they neede me, would I make arrangements for my pets? Yes. Two grandchildren make it unbearable at times. But I made the choice to care to these animals, and for now, I happily live with that choice. Our family is always welcome in our home. Our children visit when they can. When my pets are gone, I will be able to visit my family more often. They may just suggest I get another animal.

So, for now, my answer to the title question ” How much is too much when it comes to our pets?” is fairly simple. I believe once I sign on to pet ownership, it is my responsibility to provide all the care I can. I will always attempt to provide comfort for them and remedy their ailments with medications and supplements. Surgery is considered, but usually avoided. If my absence causes difficulties in this pursuit, I will remain with them.

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Family, pets, priorities, responsibilities | Leave a comment

I Just Needed a Little Push


Muriel Mermaid

It has been a long time since I felt motivated to create anything. An opportunity to purchase patterns for doll making arose when my friend and former sister-law, Loretta Louviere, created “A Doll Pattern a Month Circle.” Each month a new pattern is sent to me, with instructions for assembly. The fabrics, decoration, and personality for the doll is totally up to the creator. I have long been a fan, and proud owner, of many dolls designed and crafted by Loretta Louviere. In her words, “A Doll Pattern A Month Circle consists of doll makers/artists who are exploring new avenues of creativity by subscribing to a doll pattern a month from Loretta Louviere, artist and doll maker. The doll patterns are meant to be “jumping off” points to fire up your own spark of genius.” Information on the group can be found at: https://dolls.joyismynewart.com/membership_offer I definitely needed a spark to get me back into the groove.

I have made three dolls at this point. Sewing is not my forte, but by the third doll, I was able to slow down and work more carefully. The Kitty Doll was also the first doll that reflected my image making, rather than Loretta’s. Another member of the group was presently involved with making paper dolls, and that pushed me to get back into creating mixed media collages. I created a two dimensional piece inspired by each doll. A paper doll also became a challenge Loretta suggested, and that piece morphed into both a doll, a story, and a collage.

Two more collages followed, getting me back to some processes I had previously explored when preparing work for a show I exhibited with Loretta. Thematically connected through our love of birds, our show “Birds of a Feather” was great fun. It is safe to say that any recent bursts of artistic involvement has also involved Loretta! I also owe some credit to two fabulous books. “Collage Lab,” by Bee Shay and “Beyond Paper Dolls,” by Lynne Perrella, have been great resources for processes and ideas.

d278378e-1b22-404d-a47e-0021480c63a2Batik Tabby Doll


Gladys is Green Doll


Feisty Feline Superheroine Paper Doll


Birdie Doll


Batik Tabby Mixed Media


Gladys in Green Mixed Media Collage


Feisty Feline Mixed Media Collage


Birdie Mixed Media Collage


Muriel Mermaid Mixed Media Collage


Owl Mixed Media Collage


Charmed Mixed Media Collage

Posted in collage, Colored Pencils, dolls, Mixed Media, Time for Art | 2 Comments

Long Time Coming



It’s been a while since I posted anything here on WordPress and even longer since I have done any artwork. I was recently asked to give some watercolor tips, which ordinarily would not be a problem for a retired art teacher, but for some reason I felt my technique (in both painting and teaching) had become a bit rusty.

After organizing my goals, I decided the best way to handle my dilemma was to dive in. In the classroom I used to describe watercolor as controlled spontaneity.  The controlled part comes from an understanding of watercolor techniques. The spontaneous nature happens (for me) when the outcome celebrates those techniques without becoming overworked. Like anything requiring skills, the results should look easy and should capture an essence.

Anyway, although my first attempts are somewhat labored and overworked, it feels good to do something creative beyond my bird photography.  Hopefully things will improve.

Posted in Art, Birds, Time for Art, watercolor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


This young male Hairy Woodpecker may have thought our umbrella was his parent.

Posted in Birds, Birds of the Finger Lakes, patterns, Photography | Tagged | 2 Comments

New Kids on the Block

It is always fun at this time of the year to watch the fledglings of different birds attempting to learn how to maneuver the bird feeding options in our yard. There is a lot of flapping and repositioning- sometimes to the trees, sometimes to the ground and sometimes just anywhere there is room for them. The parents still often feed the fledglings for quite a while. This is the case with our resident Northern Cardinals.


The most recent photographs I was happy to take were of a male adult feeding a female adolescent (or maybe a fledgling about to be an adolescent.) The black beak is seen on the youngsters…both male and female adult Cardinals have bright red-orange beaks. I was also pleased to see the return of a yound Tufted Titmouse. His/her tail was noticibly shorter than the usual adult length. The Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cow Birds are finally moving on. They have made room for the smaller birds and their exit also eased the constant need to refill the feeders. It was still fun to see all of their ‘new kids,’ too. They just have incredible appetites and no regard for my wallet.

Posted in birdfeeders, Birds, Birds of the Finger Lakes, Fledglings, Northern Cardinal, Photography | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments