Bolivia: A Country of Adventure!

•August 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

On a recent 16 day stint in Bolivia with my best friend, there was much adventure to be had!  Here is some of the activities and places we went to in this beautiful country!

Tithwanku Ruins

This tour was our first (and most disappointing tour).  The ruins were worth seeing, but they were quite small.  Part of the disappointment could have been because we had just gotten into La Paz a couple hours before and then hopped onto a 2-hour tour bus (after flying for over 24 hours, with 4 layovers) combined with the fact that our guide rattled off immaculate details of every artifact in both Spanish and English so that the tour of this small place took about 5 hours of talking….by that time I wanted to pass out from hunger and thirst.  The ruins held a couple cool buildings and some statues (although our guide admitted the Bolivian government used to shoot at them for fun…which explains some of the conditions of the buildings).  It was a good half-day trip…but that was plenty of time there.

Some of the coolest architectural structures were not related to the ruins at all.  Perhaps they were abandoned buildings of previous inhabitants to the area?

Lake Titicaca and Isla Del Sol

Our next excursion out of La Paz was to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world…and it was magnificant!  To get there from La Paz, we took a 4 hour bus ride to Copacabana (the city on the Bolivia side of Lake Titicaca), in which at one point we had to debark our bus and cross over on a motor boat…whereas our boat got its own ride over…

The bus dropped us off at noon, which left us the whole day to check into our hotel, Hotel Utama (which I strongly recommend!) and meandor around the small town,which has a pleathora of shops and restaurants of very good value.

Of course one can only explore a small town so long before “happy hour” hits….which started in the afternoon for us and lasted until sunset…

The next day we took a boat over to Isla Del Sol.  Our tour dropped us off in the North Part of the Island and we were supposed to walk to the South part and get picked up at the end of the day by the same boat.  This was before we realized our guide only spoke Spanish…and he had an uncanny resemblence to every other guide that came to Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun)…luckily we got to be friends with some bilinguial Europeans on our tour…Besides that fact, the island was spectacular!  We got a tour of the Incan ruins on the island (all in Spanish of course so I can’t share any interesting facts) and then it was a three hour hike over to the South end of the island.  I highly recommend doing the hike…very beautiful and not overly challenging (although you are hiking at 12,000 feet elevation).  Muy bonito!

Salt Falt Tour

The salt flat tour is a must-see for anybody that goes to Bolivia and is probably the most popular trek.  Its quite a jaunt to get there (and quite another jaunt to get back as we found out the hard way).  To get from La Paz to Uyuni (the start of the salt flat tours) is an 10 hour bus ride that goes overnight and arrives in the morning (or whenever it feels like it) just in time for the 3 day salt flat tour odassey.  From there you hop in a land rover and spend the next three days exploring salt flats, colored lakes, strange rock formations, and volcanoes and sleeping in very very cold hostels made of salt.  We knew it was going to be a great tour when we were the only ones on the tour who spoke English…but we saw very beautiful sights!

The first stop was the train cemetery…and what I got from it was that the town lost money to fund the railroad that transported salt from the flats…but my Spanish is subpar so could be quite a few variations of that…nethertheless it was very intriquing and mysterious…

The rest of the day was spent out into the dazzling world of the Salar de Uyuni:  the world’s largest salt flats…and they are huge!  One of the best things about the salt flat is that it seems to be devoid of perspective in photographs…so we spent hours and hundreds of photos later trying to be as humorous as possible…here is just a few from this escapade…

In the middle of the utopia of the salt flats, was a bizarre island full of catus.  It was here we explored the island and then got picnic style lunch…

We arrived at our hostel close to when the sun was going down…and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the entire hostel was made of salt…even the tables…and chairs…and beds…I’m glad we brought our sleeping bags!

We got up at the break of dawn…around 6 am to be exact to start another full day of traveling!

Today we moved South from the salt flats into the Atacama desert near the border of Chile.  We stoppped at various stops along the way taking photographs of beautiful lakes, bizarre shaped rocks, volcanic mountains, and lagoons filled with flamingos…just to name a few. . .

That night we stayed in a hostel in the absolute middle of nowhere in one of the higest deserts in the world.  All my clothing layered upon me plus hat, gloves, and a scarf were still not enough.  When we woke up at 5 am (there was no light in the hostel) it had to be well below freezing.  The morning was spent looking at geysers, hot springs, and bubbling pots (all in very quick succession because it was freezing!).  We didn’t partake in dipping in the hot spring although it was popular among the tourists…it was just too much work peeling off the hundreds of layers of clothing on my body…

When the sun came out, the temperature rose a bit, and we proceeded onward with the journey…in a loop that eventual brought us back to Uyuni….along the way were a couple of my favorite lakes of all time….who knew there was such a thing as a red lake?

We got back into Uyuni at about 5 pm, so we had some supper.  It was here where we realized that we really don’t know Spanish at all.  Under the ‘hot drinks’ menu, all Sarah wanted was a caffeine fix….and then she got a pancake…hmmm?

At 8 pm our bus was scheduled to leave back to La Paz (another 10 hour journey).  However, there was fireworks going off in town and nobody could explain to us in English what was going on.  Then we got a translation:  all the buses to La Paz were on strike (I guess bus strikes are frequent?) and they didn’t know when the buses were going to be back and running…hmmm….so we were stuck in a town that looked like North Korea (maybe?) and it was now dark out and we had no place to stay…

We went to an internet cafe and tried to figure out our options:  Option A was to wait for the next bus (which could be up to 3 days in a small town in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do).  Option B was to take the train (which only left twice a week…next train was in 2 days) and Option C (take a plane?).  We weren’t really sure if their was flights out of Uyuni until we were walking around town looking for someone to talk to when we saw a bright sign:  Amazonas: new flights to La Paz!  We caught them right before they were about to close and sealed the deal on a flight that left tomorrow for La Paz.  Granted we had to pay quite a bit more..and it was here where Sarah realized she had lost her debit card..but we were going to get out of this town!  Next up was finding a place to stay…for three dollars we found something similar to a concentration camp that had a whole family of crying babies and a stuffed cat at the reception…but after a bottle of wine we slept pretty good there!

Chacultaya:  The World’s Highest Ski Resort (before the glacier completely melted)

Although Chacultaya goes after the moniker that it is the highest ski resort in the world, three years ago all the snow melted and the lifts shut down.   What really can’t be erased from global warming is that it is one of the most beautiful vistas that can be seen with relatively little effort (or so we thought before the day ended).  We got a tour bus to take us up to the base of Mt. Chacultaya, where we took two hours to climb to the top (somewhere around 17,000 feet, which you could definetly tell!), which we took slow and peacefully because of the altitude.  It was utterly fantastic!  We took some time to just sit at a vista point and revel in the scenery (it was at this point when my passport holder was taken out of my bag and forgotten to be put back in….which I’ll explain later how that one turned out)…

We were just about to leave on the tourist van back down to La Paz (a 2-hour drive down on very very windey roads) when I realized that my passport holder (with my passport, our only remaining debit card between the two of us, my credit card, and my medical card and all my cash) was not in my bag….that was when I remembered I had taken it out…at the very very top of the mountain to get chap stick from it…and then forgot to put it back in.  I decided to trek back up…or run back up…which is never advisable ever at 17,000 feet with a drop off (off the side of mountain) on one side.  Lo and behold!  My passport was still chilling up there…Mother nature thought I was giving her a donatation…she gave me a couple donations back:  the worst altitude-induced headache of my life and our tourist van not being there when I got back down…Oh Bolivia!

El Choro Trek

Next on the itinerary was a 3-day hike along the El Choro trail, an old Incan pathway that spans from the high Andes to the tropical Yungas rainforest.  It was a fantastic hike and one that I totally recommend!!  Although it was medium in length (about 50 miles) it was fairly easy in technical and physical ability, being that about 90 percent of it was downhill.  The views were astonishing in every part of the trail.  The first day we hiked in the Andes and passed peaceful little villages and ancient Incan ruins.  It started out at about 4700 meters (about 14,000 feet) so it was quite chilly, but with the strong sun it warmed up very quickly.

After 12 miles of hiking, we arrived at our campsite for the night…which happened to be in a cloud forest.  We had a guide for this trek (which could probably easily be done with out….just more convenient to have a guided trip) so while we laid out and listened to the river, we were getting a nice warm supper prepared for us.

Day 2 was a longer day of hiking.  We had the choice of walking another 12 miles or doing another 17; this way, the third day would be shorter when the hike is the hottest.  We chose to do the 17 miles and we were definetly worked by the time we arrived at our campsite; but the views kept get better and better!

Day three was a short hike but by far the hottest (and we were much sorer than when we started).  We got up early to beat some of the heat of the rainforest and were rewarded with some amazing views of the sunrise peeking over the mountains!  What a wonderful trek through the wilds of Bolivia!

Biking the World’s Most Dangerous Road

Another of Bolivia’s famed attractions is the world’s most dangerous road…a road that spans approx. 70 kilometers from the andes to the rainforest….therefore on a bike its all down hill.  Although it is no longer the world’s most dangerous road…mostly because they opened a by-pass in 2006 and the road is mostly used by locals and a pleathora of biking companies.

We signed up with Barracuda bicycles…a company with a great reputation, high quality bikes, and English speaking guides (which are few and far between in Bolivia).  And the guide told us stories of all the bikers that had died on this road AFTER we had finished the ride.

The ride itself was very enjoyable.  for anyone that has experience mountain biking (which both my friend and I had) the ride really isn’t that technical.  The road is quite bumpy, but with full suspension bikes it wasn’t that bad.  I wouldn’t recommend it for people that haven’t rode a mountain bike before because all the death stories I was told (there has been 24 deaths in all on bicycles in about ten years) were people who got scared, slammed on their brakes and flipped over their handlebars.  Luckily that didn’t happen in our group (which consisted of my friend and I and our awesome guide).

Afterwards, we were treated with a huge plate of pasta and some relaxing time.  On the way back, we drove back up the road that we biked down and got to really appreciate the hair pin turns, awesome scenery, and stories of dying bicyclists.  The world’s dangerous world is also, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful roads!





Horseback riding through Devils Tooth

Our last adventure in Bolivia was horseback riding; which is always in its own little way an adventure.  I grew up with horses and find that the stories I can tell about horseback riding seem to be endless….let’s just saw I got bucked off a lot…ran through trees and bushes…stepped on…and the list goes on.

The great thing about this tour, which started in the South part of La Paz was that it was exciting.  Some horse back tours I been on have been one horse walking lazily behind the other.  This combined the beautiful scenery of the Devil’s Tooth area with a high spiried gallop across a mountain plain.  Well worth the money!


While we ate lunch, we dismounted our horse, took their bridles off and let them graze peacefully while we ate.  Then they ran away….it took the guides a half hour to chase them back to us…then they ran the other way.  Long story short, our 3 hour horse back riding tour turned into more like a 5 hour tour!  Horses…no matter what country they are from…always speak the same language!



Now: time to get started on some new paintings!  Adios!


Summer Hiking, Biking, and Camping in the North West

•July 17, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Although every season in Idaho is a great time to be in the outdoors, summertime has finally come around and I have done quite a bit of roaming around the countryside in various forms of hiking, camping, rock climbing, and biking.

Over Memorial Day, I convinced my boyfriend Adam that it would be a good idea to forgo the normal “vacation” time of relaxing at home to do a 200 mile bike trip in 3 days.  Our plan (or my plan I should say) was to bike the entire Trail of the  Coeur d’Alene’s (72 miels each way, nearly connecting Washington to Montana) and then bike up to Lookout Pass (on the Montana border) and bike the Route of the Hiawathas.

The first sign that perhaps I was inflicting mental and physical harm on Adam was when we got to the trailhead in Plummer, Idaho and we had 25 plus headwinds at us….the entire day…even worse when we got into lake country.  Not to be deterred we still made it to our destination 62 miles later in Wallace, Idaho, a beautiful historic town near the Montana borderl

Along the trip, besides fighting winds and a very sore bottom, we went through beautiful lake country, saw tree-filled mountains, and pristine meadows filled with horses.

When we got to Wallace, we stayed in the Stardust Motel; there was little camping along the trail and who really wants to carry camping gear when they are going on a hundred and some mile bike trip.  The hotel was locally owned and the managers were very helpful and generous (as we found out shortly into our stay).  That night, I went to fill my tires with a Wal-mart air pump (I was riding a Trek road bike) whent he pump actually got stuck to the tire.  In an effort to get it unstuck, I ended up breaking off the part you fill with air on my tire tube. There goes my only form of transportation in a dinky town on a Saturday night on Memorial day weekend…hmmmm.  I went down to the motel office, and they said they didn’t have a bike shop in the town nor did they have a taxi service to get to another town.  The only bike shops were the ones up on Lookout pass (on top of a mountain) and in Kellogg, Idaho tem miles back.  We had to wait until tomorrow to see if any of them were open.

The next morning we called around and no one answered.  We were beginning to formulate ways on how to get home (the best idea we had was for me to bike as fast as I could; all 62 miles back to the car and then drive to Wallace and pick up Adam).  Just when we thought we were going to have to act on that plan, I found an ad for a cycle shop in Kellogg that was on the map I had purchased for the trail.  We called them and they were open.  Luckily the motel manager had an old van where he stuffed our bikes in and generously drove us to Kellogg free of charge.  Got to love small town people!  I got a new tire tube and was about to continue onto our master plan of going up the mountain to the Route of the Hiawatha (a gravel trail that goes downhill through beautiful Idaho wilderness) when the guy at the bike shop looked at my shiny new road bike and said “Do you want to pop another tire?” Thus, we biked back to Wallace and did some hikes around the area.

On my bucket list (yes I have a bucket list actually typed up) I have written “Do the entire Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes”.  We had yet to finish it in its entirely, because the trail actually ends at mile 72 in the town of Mullen, Idaho, a small frungy town very close to Montana.  I couldn’t quite convince Adam that it was necessary to do the entire trail, so while he got his beauty sleep in the hotel, I did the last 20 miles (10 to Mullen, 10 back to Wallace) to take a photo of the end of the trail in Mullen…and get cat-called by a beat-up red neck pickup with its exhaust draggin on the road…so totally worth it!

The next day we started out bright and early to do the trek back…and even though it was the same trail, the scenery seemed quite different on the way back.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the time seemed to pass very quickly…for me I should say…by the time we got to the last ten miles (which inconveniently start to go uphill rapidly) Adam was at a loss of words…many of which may have deragatorily been directed at me.  I mean who wouldn’t want tot trade TV and lounging around for 145 miles of butt-numbing, windy fun through the state of Idaho? Beats me.

A bonus treat on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is the chance to see abandoned mining operations close to the trail not far from Kellogg, Idaho.  As usually, I seemed to accidentally ignore the ‘No Trepassing’ sign for a chance to glimpse these elusive and magnificent structures.

Another beautiful weekend excursion that I took was to Wallowa Lake, near Joseph, Oregon in Eastern Oregon.  Last year, I went with a friend and we nearly ran out of gas because the road is 3 hours of hair-pin turns over and down into a canyon, in which there is only one gas station…the town where we left from.  I had a full tank of gas this year, so we were good to go.

The origin of this trip was to go to the Wallowa Festiveal of Arts, an annual attraction in Joseph, in which I had 2 works (one painting and one photograph) being shows at the festival.  To be honest, it was more an excuse for me to spend a weekend hiking and camping in a very beautiful place.  Adam had never been here, so here again he was my scapegoat (not always willing) to partake in my outdoor adventures.

The day we got there I thought it would be fun to camp in the backcountry (Adam found us a campsite in the campground shortly after I mentioned this) adn then go on a 12 miles hike that gained 3000 feet of elevation called the Chief Joseph trail (it was recommended to us by the chamber of commerce).  The hike was covered by a rushing waterfall about 3-4 miles in, so as I was trying to find an alternative foute up the mountain to get a good ‘view’ for my camera, Adam was muttering and slowly following me up the side of a sodden, rain-soaked moutnain.  We didn’t make it too far; however, I did get some magnificent views…and to make everybody happy in the party, we hiked back down, drove to town, and had a crisp beer and some giant burgers.  Success!!

The next day, we took the Wallowa Tramway, which is a gondola that you take to the top of the one of the mountains near Wallowa Lake.  Although it cost 25 dollars and half of the top was covered in snow in June, it was totally worth it.  The views from the top were extraordinary.  Not only could you see the lake down below, but also the prairie to the North and the Seven Devl Range (the Idaho version of the Wallowa Mountains).  Hiking around in snow and shipping winds only added to the fact that we were standing on the very top of a mountain, which was very cool.  Adam was content; the views were great and I didn’t make him hike to the top of the mountain.   Another great weekend in the outdoors!

In mid-July, one of my good friends from North Dakota, Erica, came out to visit me in Idaho.  The travel agent in me devised many places to take her to that would impress and show her the true Pacific Northwest (I think she may have gone home exhausted).  The first of these was the Mineral Bay trail on the Coeur d’Alene Scenic byway and Tubb’s hill (in the town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) where we enjoyed the warm weather and got a glimpse of the Ironman race being held down below in the town.

The following weekend, I took Erica to one of my favorite places in the region: Leavenworth, Washington.  For those that haven’t heard of this iconic little town, it must be seen to truly appreciate.  Not only is the entire town Bavarian…even the McDonalds and Wells Fargo, but it is surrounded by the sunny side of the Cascades that engult the town in beauty year round.  The last time I was to Leavenworth was to partake in an age-old tradition:  Octoberfest.  Any time of the year is great in Leavenworth!

What I didn’t plan on, being the weekend of the 4th of July, was the fact that all 12 campgrounds were completely full in the 20 mile radius of the town.  When we got there on a Friday night, we did what (in my opinion) is better anyways: find an awesome (probably illegal) secluded spot in a beautiful area.  Not only were we secluded, but we got to listen to the gentle rushing of the river the entire 2 nights…and we even had a fire pit so we could have our customary smores over the camp fire.

The next day Erica, Adam, and I drove to town and went to the Ranger station to figure out some good hikes.  We ended up doing a very uphill climb to Icicle Ridge (I highly recommend the trail) that is about 3.5 miles one way (but then 3.5 miles downhill the other way :).  the view from the top in fantastic.  You get to see teh surrounding mountains, a waterfall cascading over a mountain from afar, adn the town of Leavenworth below in a 360 degree panorama.

The 2nd hike of the day was Icicle Creek, a 4.5 mile loop that followed the river through old-growth forests and a plethora of wildflowers.  After this, it was time to check back into our campsite (it was still there) and grill some meat for supper.  We all slept well (besides the batter running out of the air pump, so Erica and I slept on a delated air mattress).

The next day, Erica and Adam only had about one hike left in them, so I made it a good one.  To their dismay, it was a 9 mile road-trip trail, but it was utterly fantastic!  It was called Stuart Lake trail up by the Eightmile trail head of Icicle Creek road.  At the end of the 4.5 mile trail was beautiful blue Stuart Lake surrounded by unreal looking mountains.  Stuart Lake to me was a classic and totally worth the 9 miles (some of it through snow).  Erica and Adam may beg to differ, but everybody had a good time all in all.  Until next time Leavenworth!

Next up:  Some potentially crazy adventures may be had as I travel to Bolivia at the end of July for a week trek tino the Andes, Salt Flats, Lake Titicago, and bike down the world’s most dangerous road!

Abandoned Buildings on the Palouse

•April 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

One of the great perks of being an artist that paints abandoned rural objects and structures is actually going out and exploring.  Not only does abandoned building searching provide numerous reference photos and pique my creativity, but it provides hours of entertainment and chance to be outside in the country.  Although I have made the move from North Dakota to Idaho a couple years ago, I find that they are very similiar in the way that farming communities are moving quickly with our technological world and these beautiful rural structures are continuing to become abandoned, leaving there memories behind…for me to pick through and create my own memories.

Although I don’t know the history or the story behind these buildings, I would like to show a photographic journey of these beautiful buildings still standing strong on the Palouse region of Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington.  And be prepared to find some of these objects in my next paintings!

This house was part of an old farmstead and house that had about 20 buildings (sheds, barns, chicken coops) still standing.  I had to cross over a barbed wire fence only to find that there was a sidewalk that led right to it.  Always got to make a little adventure out of it!

This was a different abandoned hourse that we found that had a beautiful wrap around porch (and perhaps a murder mystery?).

This next house provided so many great photographs that I stumbled upon it twice…and only almost fell through the 2nd floor once!

…and I wasn’t the only one that a couple causalties…

…This house had so many wonderful objects to play around with, that it is now the object  of 4 of my new paintings!

Besides finding and exploring abandoned buildings, driving around the countryside is just a great time to soak up some Idaho scenery!


Three New Paintings and Several New Showings!

•April 20, 2012 • 4 Comments

Spring Thaw, 18″ x 32″ Oil Paint on Canvas

Spring Thaw is one of the first landscapes I have done in a long time, so it was nice to incorporate some of the new techniques I use in my abandoned building series in a different context.  This particular piece was based on some photoraphs I took while roaming around the countryside near Moscow, Idaho.  It was taken in March when we still had some remnants of snow; thus aptly titled Spring Thaw. I used palette knife to create texture in closer areas and then used brush over them to capture the colors and detail within the texture.  The main emphasis of the piece was the barn, but I really wanted to play up the variety of colors within the landscape and surrounding hills.  I submitted this painting and a couple landscape photographs to the Wallowa Festival of Arts in Joseph Oregon, so it would be nice if it could make an appearance there!  Currently it is being shown in the Dean’s office at the University of Idaho.

From Within, Oil Paint on Canvas

This painting was based on an abandoned building near Genessee, Idaho.  Some of the compositions I create in my paintings are staged, but this chair was in this particular environment when I entered the building.  I am trying to really focus on the object as the area of detail and have varying degrees of detail and brushstrokes throughout the background and foreground.  I used palette knife again in certain areas and also incorporated hints of pure pigments throughout to really create a contrast of light and dark within.

This painting is currently on display in the Reflections gallery at the University Of Idaho Commons building.

Winter Morning, Oil Paint on Canvas

Winter Morning was another step in the direction of letting go; letting go of having realistic detail.  Instead I wanted to focus on a mood.  With the blurry and loose brush strokes and subtle complimentary colors I wanted to create this cool yet peaceful environment.  We can see a hint of the background outside- which gives a clue to the cold, quiet world that this creamer tin is “looking” out into.  By creating a mood within the environment, I am aiming to create an emotion within the peace.  What is the creamer thinking as he is gazing out into the world so quiet and still?

This piece is also being shown at the Reflections gallery at the University of Idaho.

I currently have a solo exhibition at the Reflections gallery titled “Personification: A look into Abandoned Spaces” that will be up until May 11th.  The gallery is in the Commons building on the University of Idaho campus.  I also am exhibtion three works in the Dean’s office (in the Education building) at the U of I.  The third exhibition that I have two paintings at is Pacific NorthWest University in Eugene, Oregon that will be up until June.

Next post: A look into the process before the paintings: winter explorations on the Palouse!

Three New Paintings and an Art Opening at One World Cafe!

•February 26, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Uncertainty  45″ x 29″ Oil Paint on Canvas

Uncertainty was an experimentation with depth and layers.  I again suplimented my painting with a couple layers of palette knife work to really enhance the texture of the wooden door.  In my work I like to show contrast (whether it be value contrast, contrast of brush stokes, or contrast of texture) to really emphasize the object in the composition.  Originally, this composition was taken from a photograph that showed a closed door and the adjacent wall.  I got rid of the adjacent wall and instead showed almost a blank hole to increase the mystery of what was going on in the piece.  We know someone left their purse hanging on the door, but where did they go?  And based on the  old-style purse, when and where does this setting take place?  These are the mysteries I aim to create in my work.

Contemplation  24″ x 42″ Oil Paint on Canvas

Contemplation is another take on the creamer jar that has been seen in earlier work.  To me, the jar provides such detail, lighting, and color in the interiors of this abandoned, crumbling buildings.  It is amazing to me after decades of unuse, how it still has that look of illumination.  The title comes from the personification of this object: It is contemplating while looking outside the window.  Is it better to stay in a safe, comfortable environment even though it is a crumbling buidling, or sometimes is it worth the chance to go somewhere else in the big world?

Treasured Moment  48″ x 35″ Oil Paint on Canvas

Treasured Moment was an experiement with size.  Although I have done many oil paintings this size or larger, I haven’t done too much with really exagegrating the scale of one object.  Even though the coffee cup handle is coming straight at us, it is not obtainable; it would take more than ordinary human strength to lift a coffee cup of this proportion.  Playing with the size and depth of the painting was also a fun experimentation with brushstrokes and color.  Even though the objects that I portray are in abandoned, decaying buildings, I really want to enhance the natural color within to show a different view on what one might ordinarily expect in these buildings.

This piece was intended for an exhibition at One World Cafe, which is a local coffee shop in Moscow, Idaho.  I feel that the idea behind coffee- why I named this “Treasured Moment” is timeless.  It is a world-wide phenomenon that coffee provides much needed caffeine for many individuals, but I think the idea behind it is much greater.  Sitting down to a hot cup of coffee is a time to sit and think, clear the mind, and add warmth to the body.  Coffee houses to me, even though I don’t generally drink coffee, are warm, quiet, and inviting places; small, treasured moments in so many people’s lives.


Dignity, Contemplation, and Treasured Moment at now being exhibited at One World Cafe in Moscow, Idaho through April, 2012.

Winter Holiday in St. Lucia!

•February 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Over Christmas break it has been tradition in my family to skip the coldest of cold in North Dakota and soak in some nice, warm sunny weather.  And what can be better than nice, sunny weather….combined with climbing the 2nd tallest peak on an island, kayaking in the ocean, and taking a tram to the top of a rain forest canopy? Let’s just say it didn’t take too much to convince me to tag along with the parental units and take in the scenery of St. Lucia.

First on the adgenda was the Piton hike.  I had actually heard of this hike before going to St. Lucia because of the infamous ad “In Oprah’s top ten of things you must do in a lifetime”.  We had been warned that the hike was much more streneous than they let on, so my parents’ opted out (and its a good thing they did!) and I took the hike along with a small group of people from all over the United States.  One member in particular stands out because as she boarded the van she raved “If Oprah can do it I can do it!” which was quickly extinguished by our van leader breaking the news that yes Oprah had been to the top of Gros Piton but had been flown up there by a helicoptor.  This lady in our group went on to make it only half-way up the hike but I admired her spirit.

So this was the mountain we were about to climb (pictured above).  It wasn’t easy by any means, but how often do you get to hike/boulder up a trail to the very top of a mountain? I, living in Idaho, have more access to these kind of things, but the tallest things the rest of my group members had climbed with East Coast skyscrapers.  We went from 600 feet to about 3000 feet in an hour and a half of sweating (with 90 degree temperature and 100 percent humidity).  There were a couple stops along the way where one could get a scenic photo, such as the quarter view….

and the half-way there point where one could view the smaller of the pitons, aptly named Petit Peton…

And then it started to rain.  Rain in the rain forest is quite different than what is normally seen as rain, and it poured….therefore no pictures were taken on the last ascent to the top….but then when our burning legs could no longer take it, we made it to the sunny top…

And what a magnificent view it was!  From the top, you could almost see the entire mountainous island!  It was well worth the hike.  We took some photo opportunities and made the descent down.  In mountain climbing, one nearly almost forgets that the top is only half-way,and mind you this wasn’t advanced mountain climbing, but very steep, rocky boulders and trails get very very very slippery when rained on all morning…thus the way down took us two hours compared to the hour and a half up.  To treat us at the bottom, we were served a frozen coconut-milk treat that was very tasty (and I found out had red food dye in it, which I am allergic to….).  After all this hiking, it was time for a feast of traditional food….and we had quite the view to feast upon as well!

What better way to end a 4 hour hike and a nice meal than….holding a random boa constrictor on the side of the road? Really can’t get much better than that…There is much better street-side entertainment here in St. Lucia apparently!

After I had my warm-up bagging a peak, it was time to go on a few more adventures…at the pace of my parents.  This included deep sea fishing.  To be honest, I have never been a fan of fishing.  I have been fishing in a lake a time or two and caught a max of two small fishes (I think in my entire life), but I think it all boils down to the fact that I used to date an avid fisherman.  Or should I say obsessed fisherman.  I would sit in a small hut in    -30 degree weather in North Dakota  and stare at an ice hole for hours and hours and hours (never caught anything) to try to be a good girlfriend, but I think my fishing career should have ended for good when I lit one of his best fishing poles on fire because, out of boredom, I was tapping it on the space heater….So to top that off, we paid fairly good money here in St. Lucia to sit in a rocking boat for 4 hours and didn’t even get a nibble (but we did get to see a man puke off the side of the boat!).

However, I definetly believe that everything should be given a chance, so we tried it.  I’m good for awhile on that.  We did get to see Pilot whales, so that was some good side entertainment.

The next adventure of the week led us onto a catamoran that cruised around the side of the island.  It was pretty cool to see the mountain that I had just recently climbed from down below, except now with beer in hand (its the one of the left).

We got dropped off at the other side of the island for some exploring on land, which first led us to the Botanical Gardens…

After a trip through the gardens, we got to see the much-raved about Diamond Falls (It was alright)…after waiting in line for 50 other people to take their snapshot of it first, but what can ya do…

Last item on the land itinerary was Suphor Springs Volcano.  It was here where I had a major de ja vu. I had been here before.  I looked at my parents and they thought the same thing.  I guess 4 years ago we had taken a cruise and briefly stopped at St. Lucia to see this volcano.  I guess I’ll add an updated portrait of it to my trip albums…it really hasn’t changed much.

The last adventure of the trip (besides seeing my mom and dad get pulled on a wild ride through the ocean on a tube called the Big Mable…a story for another time…) was a tram ride through the rainforest.  It was a nice, leasurly morning cage ride from the bottom of the rainforest, all the way to the views from the canopy.  Though I had never ridden a cage up through the depths of a rain forest, a few years back I did spend a week in the Brazilian Amazon, and I must say I didn’t miss the multiple ant attacks when I was riding that cage…It was quite nice actually; had a good breeze.


The last day in sunny St. Lucia was spent being artistic.  My medium of choice when I travel is photography, and even though I tend to paint abandoned buildings, my muse as a photographer is subtle things found in nature:

Another monumental occurence that happened in St. Lucia:  the start of 2012!  Unfortuanlly my parents and I had fallen asleep at ten p.m. and woke up to the sound of gunshots….er….also called fireworks.  I guess not every new year starts out with a bang….even if you think you are dreaming it!  Happy 2012!

Two New Works: “Dignity” and “Country Breeze”

•January 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

“Country Breeze”

36″ x 30″ Oil Paint on Canvas

“Country Breeze” was inspired by an abandoned building in Washington that, in one room, had the cryptic words of “Someone died here” painted in red letters, and a beautiful serene room full of windows and pink curtains in the other.  I chose the latter, and the idea was born.  In this painting, I went back to painting on canvas, but used some of the techniques I had applied when working on wood.  I wanted to again differentiate between the detailed object and areas that aren’t so detailed.  This one at times was a struggle because the pail was hard to get overly detailed and realistic compared to other objects I have painted.  Overall, it was a good experiement with what I have been working towards.

To me it epitomizes the feeling of sereness; the quietness of rural areas.  The bucket is personified as looking out over the rolling hills and reveling in the simplicity of life.


43″ x 30″

“Dignity” is one of the most enjoyable paintings I have ever painted.  I used palette knife in places to emphasize texture.  I used pure colors right out of the tube, and made areas blend into on another.  Lastly, I really emphasized that dignified red shoe and the ligth that blanketed the room.  Everything about this painting was fun; maybe that’s the key to making a successful painting?

“Dignity”  was inspired by a red shoe; which was my muse for at least an hour of photo taking in an abandoned rural building in Eastern North Dakota.  I took multiple photos of it in this abandoned house, but the lighting was always wrong, or the composition wasn’t clicking.  Finally, in exasperation, I dropped it and continued my picture taking in this particular house.  When I came back up out of the basement, it all came into place.  “Dignity” was born.   This shoe showed me how it wanted to present itself to the world.