Artist’s Statement

I am a painter of prayers. I create visual psalms of joy, lament or contemplation striving to capture the sense of spirit and grace found in a particular place and time. In my paintings I seek to make reference to the natural world in a manner which speaks to reverence of the divine in daily life.

In the present series The Liturgy of the Hours, I aim to capture a single moment, to give visual and emotional expression to these traditional hours of prayer. My process involves ritual and meditation. It is a counterpoint outside the cloister to the balance of work and prayer which comprises the daily lives of monastic communities throughout the world. I find inspiration in readings from various faith traditions and practices such as yoga, prayer, silence and guided meditation. I use such methods to become an instrument through which the work might flow from a greater force than me alone.

Landscapes have been abstracted from closely cropped figure drawings to symbolize the interconnectedness of all things in life and their relationship to the divine. Humans are of the earth itself, live best when we are in harmony with the land, and ultimately our physical bodies will return to it. Textures and brushstrokes are kept minimal to suggest a stillness and meditative quality as would be found during a moment in prayer. Both light and color have long associations with spirituality. For this reason the luminosity that oil paint can bring to a work makes it my media of choice.

From medieval manuscripts to Byzantine icons, gold leaf has been used to signify the importance and sacredness of images and texts. My  use of gold is meant to point the viewer to the sacred aspects in nature, man and that spark residing in all of it. Like the Amish quilts with their intentional mistake in a block, I am the less than perfect human instrument, not the higher power, in this creation.  Therefore the choice of the more humble gold paint instead of real leaf is a symbolic one on my part.

As with abstract artists in more recent times I consider the colors a part of this mystery as well. Painters such as Kandinsky and Rothko have used their colors intentionally to evoke a sense of the spiritual. Assigning particular attributes to individual hues or working intuitively with what felt right in their own soul, color, light and rich embellishments are all ways in which artists have tried to make visual reference to the divine unseen as they know it.

Incorporating the ancient symbolism of the circle (the divine) and the square (man), I am making a statement about the concept of the artist  co-creating with God. Working intuitively to create these depictions of space and time, I contemplate my place in this world and what may lie beyond it. At the same time, I want to convey the transcendent power and sense of mystical other which can come to us when we are truly in the present moment.


As I am still in the thick of working on my masters at Savannah College of Art and Design, it has been over a year since I last posted on this blog.  But one the final assignments for the current course, Painting Studio II, is to post the final work for the term to a virtual gallery.  So I am “resurrecting” the site temporarily to fulfill my assignment here.  Once I am done this summer, I plan to resume many of the things I have had to set aside and perhaps this will be one of them.

For now I’ll be glad if I can remember how to navigate this site.

Original Pastel Drawings

The Liturgy of the Hours Original Pastel Drawings 3.5" x 5" each, pastel on Wallis paper

This little series of drawings was done nearly 2 years back when I started the journey at SCAD.  I decided to use it as the jumping off point for a body of work in the present course.  What resulted was a concentration on just two of the eight, which were Lauds and Vigils.  Lauds is the early morning hour near dawn and Vigils, also known as Matins or Nocturnes is in the middle of the night.   In a sort of meditation, I worked and sometimes re-worked the same subject over on different scales and in different media.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds riginal drawing, 3.5" x 5", pastel on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds original drawing, 3.5" x 5" pastel

Starting with the small original of Lauds, I began with the intention of translating all 8 to a larger scale as oils on canvas.  The first works were attempts to recreate the drawings as 24″ x 36″ oils on canvas.  On the right below, is the first Lauds, though it was subsequently re-worked again further on in the term.

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds (24" x 36" oil painting)

Next I went back to my preferred medium of pastel and executed an 18″ x 24″ painting on a piece of Wallis board (Wallis sanded paper mounted to foamcore).  I found it interesting to go down in scale and back to a more familiar medium.  The techniques and style however are quite a stretch from what I usually do being more simplified and abstract with less mark making and texture.  The use of strong contour lines to define areas was also a challenge for me.  I felt very much like I was fighting with myself a great deal of the time with this project!

The Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds, pastel painting

Lauds, pastel painting, 18" x 24"

Originally I worked on both the Lauds and Vigils canvases concurrently.  Then as I began to work on and concentrate on one piece at a time, I began to think of them as presented  in a more linear fashion.  So after all of these different versions of Lauds we move to nightfall as it were and present the largest  and most recent piece in the series.

Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

The Liturgy of the Hours:Vigils ,Oil on birch panel, 3 ft. x 4 ft.

Moving backwards from the largest, is the pastel painting of the same which had been done just previous to this panel and then the re-worked orginal 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas version.

pastel painting, 18" x 24" on Wallis board

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel painting on Wallis board

Original oil on canvas, 24" x 36", rescraped and worked

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, Original oil on canvas, re-worked

Last in line is the small pastel drawing that was the genesis of all these others.

pastel original drawing, 3.5" x 5" on Wallis paper

The Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, pastel on Wallis paper, 3.5" x 5"

All the different versions have a common thread running through them but the variations of scale and the change of media yielded a great many different results.  While the success of each is certainly able to be debated and analyzed, the experience was worthwhile.  There were tremendous growing pains associated with the project but there does seem to have been tremendous growth and self-knowledge commensurate with it.

As I developed the work in the late half of the term, I returned to working on wood panel with oil which I had done the past two summers.  I also turned to the use of the tondo presentation once more which I had enjoyed experimenting with last July in Savannah for what I considered to be one of my most successful pieces.

From those experiences, I decided to further crop these two views within a circle and frame them inside a square of painted gold.  I called them simply the Day and Night tondi.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Day Tondo: Lauds, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

Night Tondo: Vigils, oil on panel, 2 ft. x 2 ft.

From here I am in the beginning stages of a larger series of panels such as these, perhaps on the theme of the Stations of the Cross.  My thought  is to somehow through cropping and abstracting to transcend landscapes of devastated areas of the world into object of reverence and beauty.


I am admittedly behind and tired this week and am copping out (sort of) with a quickie post.

But the information is worthwhile, for any reason.

Yellow Trapeze Man

Yellow Trapeze Man

For those who are not acquainted with local sculptor Heather Blume, you need to check out her website. http://www.heatherblume.com

She has a lovely home studio in Harwich Port and I was fortunate to have a wonderful visit and private tour with her in January. For me, she is an especially inspiring influence as I have learned that there are many parallels between hers journey to becoming an artist and my own.

Reservoir, an art medal

Reservoir, an art medal

Gargoyle overlooking the solarium pool on Adventure of the Seas

Gargoyle overlooking the solarium pool on Adventure of the Seas

I returned from my cruise through the Southern Caribbean last week just in time to get back to the reality of a full week of work. No complaints from me, though. We had a wonderful time: travelling with good friends; celebrating Valentine’s Day in San Juan, Puerto Rico; great ports of call (Aruba-though it poured!-, Curacao, St. Martin and St. Thomas) to safe and smooth flights to and from and a chance to escape the cold and snow. I was lucky have the chance to go so I won’t grumble about being back.

Promanade Sketches on board during a rainy stop in Orangestaad, Aruba

Promanade Sketches on board during a rainy stop in Orangestaad, Aruba

I have gotten a bit better about taking and actually using my sketch book when I travel. So here are a few thumbnails from the voyage and we have a great many wonderful photos as well.

I look forward to my next vacation break at home with a chance to re-organize the studio and start some Caribbean- flavored paintings from the trip.

Bikini Beach, St. Martin

Bikini Beach, St. Martin

On an unrelated, but time-sensitive, note I want to let everyone know about a bit of local “performance art” taking place this week for a very good cause. As was covered in the Cape Cod Times earlier this week, the Harwich Fire Department, their extended brotherhood and the local community of Harwich have been banding together to raise funds for one of our own, Robert Johnson, a long-time Harwich fire fighter who is fighting his own battle against a brain tumor now.

My husband Richard, a local Realtor http//:www.waystack.com issued a challenge that he would shave his head bald if they could raise an

Even Richard Simmons couldn't resist him with hair.  Who will still love him after Bald for Bobby Friday?

Even Richard Simmons couldn't resist him with hair. Who will still love him after Bald for Bobby Friday?

additional $2000 for it to be done.He either has a lot of friends or a lot of enemies in town—-I’m not sure which. But the end result is he’s taking it all off on Friday, March 6 at noon, downtown inHarwich Port in front of his office. I’ve assured him I will still love him, though I will love him more when his hair, no matter how prematurely gray it is, grows back!

For more information on this and other events for this very worthy cause you can check out the Friends of Bobby J page on Facebook.

This link is so long it probably directly here. Go to Facebook and search for Friends of Bobby J. It’s well worth your time and effort.


Tropical Dreams

His Favorite Place, pastel 16" x 20"

His Favorite Place, pastel 16" x 20"

I am very fortunate that in less than 24 hours (yes a 2 AM departure time) I am heading to the airport and a flight to Puerto Rico. I will be cruising the southern Caribbean for the next 7 days and nights so this will the the only post for more than a week.

unison-tropical-ocean I recently purchased a yummy set of Unison Pastels that are the Tropical Ocean collection of colors. I also bought the polar ocean set but let’s not think about that now.

I had the beginnings of a painting sketched out on the easel right which I started last summer without the

On the drawing board

On the drawing board

new pastels. But I will be bringing home fresh inspirations from this trip during the cold New England weather. So once I have completed “re-entry” I’ll start working out some glimpses of paradise to help me through till the summer.  I’ll be back and posting sometime soon after my return.  Till then stay warm wherever you are, fix yourself a Magarita or pina colada and put on your Hawaiian shirt and some Jimmy Buffet.   Imagine yourself under a rustling palm at sunset and you can be there in spirit if not reality.

A busy week and weekend has all but come to a close and I hadn’t gotten around to this week’s post. Yes, I am revising my goal now to be one per week. I made a commitment to do 2 a week for 30 days as recommended in The Huffington Post Guide to Blogging which inspired my New Year’s resolution. But I knew from the start that I will be a better blogger if I have one a week and have been slowly dropping into that pattern.

So sometime over the weekends I will get one out and can be fairly sure to be consistent that way, which is the most important thing for anyone who may be interested in reading and following.

This is a “quickie” after another weekend of work on the condo project and another week of teaching looming ahead.

I have been working on my spiritual direction as the new year began as well as my blogging. I had a couple of very insightful conversations regarding painting as a prayerful, meditative process and the concept of being co-creators with our Higher Power/God -however one may acknowlege it. (By the way, if you are an atheist, please feel free to ignore or disregard these thoughts but don’t bother to respond to tell me I have no right to them.)

Some of the best work I do comes seemingly without effort on my part and is undoubtably the spirit working through me… when I remember to let it. Below is an example, a figure that I painting last June in a life drawing session. Every time I see it, it stills fills me with excitement and pleases me so much. It came together so much easier than so many of my works do. I can honestly say it is one of my best, and not out of any conceit. In fact most of the time I am rather critical and unsure of my own work. I think many artists share this but it is a painful and perplexing conundrum. Why do we feel compelled to do this and why? Maybe I just need to do more often what I feel I must and “let go and let God” as they say. The best seems to come through me when I relinquish control and open up to the grace within.

I have been reading a new novel (seems I read more than I paint, doesn’t it? That may well be true). I have had a habit for more than a year now of collecting quotes about art that I find inspiring or moving in some way. Here is one from The Miracles of Prato about Fra Filippo Lippi, the Renaissance monk and painter:

God made the world so beautiful. There’s no shame in finding the world beautiful, and celebrating that beauty.”….The holiest of men have known this world is a speculum majus, a mirror of the Lord’s kingdom. The beauty we find here and the beauty we make here pleases God, for it makes our world closer to His.”

Attributed to Fra Filippo Lippi in The Miracles of Prato

"Il Dolce Far Niente", pastel by Bernadette C. Wastack

"Il Dolce Far Niente", pastel by Bernadette C. Wastack

The Beach House, oil on canvas, 20"x16"
The Beach House, oil on canvas, 20″x16″
Education Assistant Andrew Cushing & Graphic Designer and Assistant Education Director, Christy King make sure the food and wine are flowing for guests.
Education Assistant Andrew Cushing & Graphic Designer and Assistant Education Director, Christy King make sure the food and wine are flowing for guests.

Here at last are some shots from the recent opening reception for “Teaching Art/Creating Art” currently on exhibit at Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis through February 22nd.

Me with my two pieces, The Beachhouse (left) and Morning Marshlight (right)
Me with my two pieces, The Beachhouse (left) and Morning Marshlight (right)

This show is a juried exhibition of art work by art teachers from all over Cape Cod and the Islands, featuring pottery, paintings, printmaking, pastels and more. Many of these artist/teachers also exhibit professionally in galleries across the Cape.

A great turn out for the opening.
A great turn out for the opening.
Chatting with fellow artist educators Marcia Simpson and Peter Mann.
Chatting with fellow artist educators Marcia Simpson and Peter Mann.
Morning Marshlight, pastel, 16"x16"

Morning Marshlight, pastel, 16"x16"