Morning Walks and a Curious Squirrel

  Several months ago it dawned on me that with leaving for either my part time job at Macys (average start time 6:30 am) and/or being at the studio on my days off and/or after finishing my shift at my part time job, my only time out doors was spent walking to and from my car, to either work, studio or condo.  Could that be why I was a bit grumpy and off center? Yes. So I decided to begin taking a morning walk on the days I was off from Macys.
  A few mile form my studio there is a beautiful park with lots of rolling hills and lovely eucalyptus trees. This became my walking place.
   Along with the rolling hills and trees this park also is home to a swimming pool, baseball fields, tennis courts, a frisbee golf course and the essential park amenities of picnic tables and bar-b-que cook areas.
  Mornings are generally quiet, and as I walk up and down the hills I fully enjoy the sights, scents and sounds of my journey. Runners run by. Walkers walk by. The gentle splish splash of Seniors as they exercise in the pool. People text and walk their dogs... or dogs walk their texting people. Kids in day camps play soccer. The squeak of tennis shoes on the court and the twang and the pop of rackets hitting tennis balls.
  Wild roses bloom in a tangle of native plants along a dirt path. And beautiful old eucalyptus trees reach to the sky, branches swaying fill the air with their pungent healing scent. Birds chirping and chittering and squirrels with fluffy tails twitching, race up and down the tree trunks...
   Now if this were a movie the last shot would be a close-up of a squirrel running in slow motion and the musical sound track would change from a lilting melody to a dark and somber dirge...Why?
   For those of you who follow me on Facebook you most likely saw my post last week about the power outage at my studio. Unable to stay and paint I came home and took advantage of the outage to begin writing this post. Little did I know that as I was writing about happy squirrels it was a poor curious squirrel who was the cause of the power outage that left 45,000 people without power.
  So I now dedicate this post all the dogs and cats and woodland critters who never were able to finish their journey across the road to see what was on the other side... and to all the birds and bees and flying insects whose fate it was to decorate the hood or windshield of the giant metal monsters roaming everywhere...and finally the innocent squirrel whose curiosity led him to a shocking end.
  Humans and Nature...each of our lives affects the other.
Morning Walk/Oil on gessoed watercolor board 6"x10"/ 1999


My How Time Flies...Quacks...Clucks and Meows...

   I tend to live in my own little bubble of a world where shopping and trends have not been given much breathing space which means I have not always been cognizant of what the latest "trend" might be. So back in the early 1980's on a rare visit to a local mall I happened to wander into a store filled with the scent of cinnamon and dried flowers, "potpourri" I was later to find out.
   All through the store there were display cases made from Hoosier Cabinets and walls and shelves loaded with hand painted wooden cutouts of farm animals; geese, cows, pigs and chickens all of varying sizes and demeanor.  Interspersed with them were gaily decorated wooden bird houses of all sizes and shapes. Patchwork quilts like those lovingly made by pioneer women from flour sacks and out grown clothing, sat in neatly folded stacks or draped across wooden racks. Everywhere I looked and everything I saw quietly screamed "Made in America"!!!
   Curious as to what one of these carefully crafted "primitive wooden" farm animal cutouts might cost I picked one up and was immediately taken aback..."WHAT?!" I thought. "Someone is charging THIS MUCH for something that just stands or hangs there and does nothing?" I could almost hear the wheel cogs of my brain click into place begin to turn...
   I had been looking for something I could design/create that would add a bit of income to bridge the gaps between my free lance illustration jobs. So, (wheel cog clicking into wheel cog) what if I were to design something like this, but better. What if...(another wheel cog clicked into place) a wooden cutout did something more that just look cute and trendy standing on Ms./Mrs./Miss. American Homemaker's bookcase, shelf or oak trestle table? What if...(all brain wheel cogs now spinning smoothly) the wooden cutout was... a clock?!?
   And so it began...Merry Clocks was born or hatched or whatever... and took over my life.
   It was a great adventure. I learned so many "how to" things like: use a bandsaw, silk screen, design new product, advertise product, complete massive Christmas orders on time, package clocks to ship without damage and ship boxes and boxes, and boxes of clocks. When a challenge arose there was always someone there to help, family, friends and strangers too, thank you!!! It was a wild and crazy ride until, suddenly it stopped.
   The economy had shifted. The trend had ended. And all the little country cottage type stores were closing.  I was burnt out and I yearned to paint. I wanted to use colors, real colors not milky blues and hazy mauves. And so when the next opportunity presented itself another adventure began and I will tell you that tale later.

Merry Clocks Brochure/MaryAnita Winklea/1985

Please visit my website:


Magical Birds I Have Known

  There is a pigeon roosting down the hall from my art studio. I am on the fifth floor. He gained entrance to the building through the permanently open window that allows access to the fire escape. I haven't seen a Mrs. Pigeon so I believe he is a bachelor. 
  He has chosen to set up housekeeping (although not tidy at all) on top of an abandoned piece of electronic equipment next to the window and as I write he is contentedly coo coo cooing.
  I like birds. I find them magical and inspiring. Birds seem to like me too. I loved how on mornings when working in the garden, hummingbirds would fly right up to my face and hover there, the breeze from their wings ruffling my hair. Or when little wrens and sparrows that would hop up on the bench next to me when I would be eating lunch outdoors. Ravens are always fun to watch and I love that a group of ravens is called (EEK!) a “murder”.
  Only once was I scared by it wasn’t the classic Hitchcock movie, “The Birds” but it felt like a scene from it.
  When I moved back to help my Dad take care of my Mom we converted the detached garage into a studio work/live space for me. One morning, like any other morning I opened the studio door to go outside, but something was different. The air was filled with the sound of birds quietly chittering, but not the normal everyday chittering sound of the birds nesting in the backyard trees...this was a fuller,  somewhat ominous sound...I looked around and then up at the electrical lines that ran along the rim of the embankment at the end of the yard...and there... filling the lines were hundreds of starlings...chittering...and all I could think of was the sound of the birds just before they attacked in Hitchcock’s movie and...not wanting to disturb them, I quietly retreated back into the garage and closed the door...
  I don’t think Mr. Pigeon and I will become great friends. I am not sure he is really welcomed by the other artists and creators on the fifth floor, but his presence has reminded me of all the many birds I have illustrated/painted in the past and, who knows, colorful magical birds may begin to appear in future garden paintings. 

Please visit my new website:

Black Birds Watercolor & Gouache on paper/2007

Birds & Flowers Watercolor & Gouache on paper/2009

Love Bird Watercolor on paper/1983

Yearning for Color...

   I had always grown up around textiles. My father was a furrier and his shop was filled with with all the minutia involved in making a fur coat: animal skins, a wooden box filled with nails used to stretch out the skins, spools of thread, felted batting, needles and pins and bolts of plain or brocade silk in various shades of brown, grey and black with cards of bias tape and ruching to match.
  Many a Saturday my older sister Jo and I would spend the day at the “shop” with Daddy. Mornings were spent coloring and drinking cups of coffee which we sweetened with too many sugar cubes and evaporated milk. 
  At noon my Dad would lock up the shop and we would walk down the street for a chicken pie at the Chicken Pie Shop, or a hamburger eaten while sitting at the counter at the Owl Drug Store, or if Uncle Joe the mink dealer was in town, Caesar’s restaurant where we would sit in tall dark wooden booths eating big plates of spaghetti and meatballs. 
  After lunch my sister and I would walk to the movie theatre and for hours we would be lost in make believe worlds. So many movies, but one of the movies I remember most clearly was Cinderella, Disney’s version filled with color and songs. And how magical it was when the birds and animals sang and tweeted while making the dress for Cinderella. 
  This scene with it’s spools of thread and bits of colorful ribbon danced through my head as we walked back to the shop and I couldn’t wait to make something beautiful too with spools of thread and bits of ruching waiting at the shop.
   I remember standing at Daddy’s work table winding brown thread around some pins stuck in the table’s wood surface and connecting bits of black ruching together and wanting so badly to make something magical and beautiful all the time yearning for a beautiful blue ribbon or bright pink thread… 
  Now if this was a movie, a calendar with pages flying off would flash onto the screen…fast forward 50 years…after 40+ years of working as an Illustrator, Designer & Painter I had decided to go back to school…Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Here I would be able to combine all my skills and be able to work as a Designer in the fields of textiles and home goods. 
  What a heady experience! Color and beauty and practicality all combined! For the first time school made sense and I was thriving…until…screeching to a halt (movie sound effect) I began my computer classes… and my brain shut down and turned to teflon and computer speak slid right out of my grasp.
  And that was it…I could not use the skills I had honed for years. My heart could not connect with my hand pushing a mouse or stylist on a Wacom pad…and my heart and mind did not respond with an almost audible “click” when on the computer screen, just the right shade of green came up against just the right shade of violet…and I yearned for that visceral connection of Hand, Heart and Mind.
  I did finish my studies and graduate, but never did hone my computer skills. Why am I writing this? Because I had to stop beating myself up for not learning the computer skills needed to be hired as a textile designer. I had to accept that I did not fail. I created beautiful work while at FIDM. And not being in sync with technology does not make me incompetent it just makes me who I am. I am a person who needs to follow my heart and it’s yearnings.
  And “yearning” is what has moved me forward in my creative life. Yearning for color. Yearning to be able to paint and capture light and emotion as Van Gogh did. Yearning to create a thing of beauty to enhance the lives of others. Yearning continuously to engage in the ethereal Hand, Heart, and Mind connection.
 Please visit and share my new website:

Biker Boys/Man's shirt/2008 Gouache on watercolor paper

Chrysanthemums/Wallpaper/2006 Gouache on watercolor paper

Ottoman Carpet/2006 Gouache on watercolor paper

Plate Rim/2006 Gouache on watercolor paper



Tending the Garden

  I have been thinking a lot about gardens lately. It began last week when driving to the studio. The route I take goes up a hill through a canyon and with all the rain we have had this winter the canyon hillsides are in full bloom...wild mustard, Black Eyed Susans and daisies all competing waving their electric yellow heads. Brilliant orange poppies and tiny purple and white flowers wave too with the trees and shrubs creating a dramatic multi green background. And the air is filled with the smell of ground warming in the morning sun.
  All this reminds me of early mornings spent in gardens I have tended over the years the last of which was the backyard garden I planted while caring for my father. When I moved in the yard was all weeds and jumble. My father’s time and energy had been focused on taking care of my mother.
  Each morning after breakfast I would go out and clear a space. The first space I cleared I planted sunflowers. You can always count on sunflowers. They are strong and resilient and love to stand tall facing the sun. When they began to die back I cut off the flowers and wove their stems through the chainlink fence for the birds to feast on.
  The next Spring I planted Icelandic Poppies. They are so lovely with their tall thin stems and tissue like petals. I planted a packet of seeds for blue poppies and another for pink. When the petals dropped and the seed pods dried I broke them open scattering the seeds for the next year’s blooms...and bloom they did but to my surprise they were not just solid blue and pink as the year before, but variegated colors of pink with white edges or stripes and the same with the blue. And each year they came back a bit altered from the year before.
  The garden grew as I cleared more and more space. Avocado trees began sprouting up from seeds I had thrown into the compost. A fruiting peach tree and nectarine tree also sprouted and grew from compost seeds. It was a lovely garden and I tended it until my father passed and we sold the house.
  I miss tending a garden. So today I am posting these paintings in honor of resilient sunflowers and ever changing poppies. 
  Please visit and share my new website; 

Sunflowers 5" x 7" oil on canvas board 2017

Pink Poppy 5" x 7" oil on canvas board 2017

"Lost Edens and Magical Lands"

   Amazing how words can take me away...mind need to need to wait in lines or hustle and bustle...just drift and imagine...sketch and...there I am in a place where tea pots float above the trees and sweet honey bees bless the day....
  Sip some tea, or coffee if you choose, and enjoy your visit to my new website:

Tea Pot  8 1/2"x 10 1/2" oil on maple panel/1999
For comment or information:

Hello Spring! beginnings blooming. In ancient times Spring was the beginning of the new year. Seems reasonable to me that with the darkness of winter waning to signs of new life that something has ended and something new is about to begin.
  Honor and Blessings to all new beginnings in your life!
  Enjoy and visit my new website:

Luci & George 8 1/2"x 11" Gouache on paper/ 2001
For comment or information contact: