Blue Camassia in the Garden

Blue CamassiaBlue Camassia

There is a sort of dreamy quality that emerged when I was working on this painting that I quite like. I’ve been wanting to infuse my work with excitement and, for me, this is what that looks like.

When I started my garden I was under the impression that both of these plants were native. Now I’m thinking that neither one is. No matter~I’m particularly fond  of both of them. The camassia, I believe, is native to the Pacific Northwest. Here I have just a small clump of them, but I dream of a whole field of them stretching out to frame a view of the sea…

Chicago Botanic Garden Irises

CBG Irises.jpg

Here is a happy splash of color to celebrate spring. I’ve been wanting to push myself past a merely narrative style with my work, and make it more playful. Also, I have been inspired by the wonderful photographs you all share. I’ve been struck by color combinations that I wanted to try out. For this one, I wanted to let blue green and yellow green play together, as well as pushing in the direction of abstraction.

Garden Companions

Garden Companions

Don’t you love the word, “companions”?  I suspect that ultimately our experience of the world is meant to be alone, one-on-one with our sense of the sacred.  Still, there is that pull for connection, and most of my happiest moments were in the company of a friend. That amazing rainbow you both spot at the same moment, the shared joke.   Most of my friendships have formed purely by chance, but my son doesn’t do it that way.  When he is in a situation he’ll stay off by himself until he spots someone he thinks would be compatible, and then he moves forward and offers friendship.  He is mindful of his friendships, too, making sure to spend time with each, paying attention, bringing them together and weaving them into a group.  I don’t know how he knew to do that but it inspires me.

Anyway, that is what was on my mind as I painted this little corner of my garden.  There’s the pot that doesn’t have its annual dose of nasturtiums yet.  And the spirea shrub that started out as part of a hedge and for some reason died back to this shadow of itself.  This dying back left a gap that (naturally) I had to fill.  So in went the lamb’s ear because it is fuzzy, and the sedum because I thought it was pretty and the mint because I like how it sprawls late in the season.  And quite by accident, there was an assembly that looked sweet together, I thought.  Like many chance friendships, you should see them now!  All stems and seedheads, all straining away from each other.  And that reminds me of me and my friend D., who is following her dream to live in Florida.  And my other friend who followed her dream to California.  I don’t know yet where my dream will take me.  I always thought it would take me to California, but since the houses I always saw myself living in go for millions, perhaps not.  Anyway, hopefully my friends and I can keep in touch.  And perhaps I’ll be watching, waiting for a new companion to share the journey.

Birch Oasis



There is a park near my home that was designed using all native plants.  I just love it there.  One of the things I like is the wide expanse of brick, which gets pretty hot and glaring in the summer, and in contrast, the coolness of a bench tucked under a clump of birches.  For this painting I eliminated all of the background to emphasize the glare contrast with the shade.  Don’t you just want to grab a book and a coffee and settle in?

Also I wanted to share some exciting news for Melissa Blue… 2 paintings won awards in the American Art Awards Competition! Hooray!  Well.  5th and 6th place.  But still 🙂  You can see all of the winners at:



Life as an Artist/Naturalist

Good evening,

So with snow blowing around outside, I thought I’d post this painting from summer.  I really love it at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and try to get there as often as possible.  It balances my time in the field studying our native flora.