2023: Painting, Planting, Rain and Hellcats

What a year! From hyperactive painting activity, record painting sales at the one larger gallery exhibition I was part of, and unprecedented amounts of rain, to a bumper crop of strawberries, and one extremely grouchy cat added to the household, 2023 can definitely be classed as: A LOT.

"Still Sunny Here," 18x24 inch oil on panel painting - sold during "A Dream of the Hills" at The Gallery at WREN.

The year started in my studio, where I was determined to create at least twenty exceptional pieces of art for my upcoming exhibition at The Gallery at WREN in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. I wanted to create a diverse collection that would capture the iconic beauty of the White Mountains while also complementing the work of my fellow exhibitors. The show, titled "A Dream of the Hills," was a resounding success, and I was thrilled to receive such positive feedback from visitors.

Hiking at Parc national du Mont-Mégantic in Quebec

In between painting for the show, I also managed to squeeze in a few adventures. In February, I joined my husband, dad, and stepmother for a return trip to Mont Mégantic in Quebec, a place we had first visited in 2020. We spent the week hiking, skiing, and enjoying the cozy cabins and stunning scenery of this national park.

March and April brought the start of sugaring season, and this year, we were able to upgrade our homemade maple syrup evaporator to a more professional model. We tapped fifty red maple trees on our property and produced an impressive eight gallons of syrup. Not bad for a small plot of land!

Through the winter and spring my paintings were getting around. A group of paintings were part of a show at Bryan Memorial Gallery over in Vermont, and a big batch of work hung at the headquarters of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests in Concord.

At home, the spring brought flowers! I've been planting more and more flowers, bulbs, and shrubs every year we've lived here and I get so excited when things start to sprout, grow and bloom. Solid masses of dafodils, groupings of dianthus, coreopsis and lupines, irises, lilies, dahlias - I will never, ever have enough. The peonies were especially dazzling this year. We also grew lots of our own vegetables and added a large bed of strawberries which produced fruit into October!

Hiking is, of course, a key piece of my artistic output. Without going out into my near mountains I can't collect the imagery and inspiration I need to make more work. I have to feel the rocks below my feet, be blasted by the wind and sun, and watch the clouds move across the Presidential Range to know what I need to paint next. However, this summer's weather was a tad uncooperative. In a word, the trails were damp. Rain every week and wildfire smoke on days it wasn't actively raining detered me from a lot of serious hikes this year. I kept up with my monthly jaunt up tiny Mount Willard, but there were few longer solo hikes until later in the summer and early fall when breaks in the weather came. One great day included hiking the Howker Ridge Trail up over Mount Madison and down to Star Lake before backtracking over the summit and descending (the ridiculously windy) Watson Path.

At the end of July we had another cat happen to us. We already had two cats (though we lost our third, Ding Ding, last year), but a friend in need had to find a home for her three+ year old tabby, Bean. We happily took her in thinking she'd seemlessly blend with our other cats, and we were about as wrong as we could possibly have been. The growling and hissing set in immediately from Bean, and we kept her in a separate room for a month, doing all of the slow, introductory things one is supposed to do when bringing a new cat into the house. Almost four months in, she can roam the rest of the house, but she still hisses and growls at our two poor boys with every encounter. When she's not being a total hellcat or just generally getting into everything she's pretty cute. She even likes to sleep on my lap while I am painting. Maybe she'll mellow with time?

Summer and autumn brought a few fun outdoor painting excursions. I don't do a lot of plein air work, but when others invite me out painting or a really great workshop opportunity comes up, I will set up my outdoor kit and attempt to cover a board with some paint. The work in progress seen here was painted during a two-day class with T.M. Nicholas. The weekend was full of great demos and painting. Though the wind was chilly and brisk on day one at Great Glen Trails in Pinkham Notch, the second day was sunny and warm in Jackson Village. 

And now here we are at the end of the year once again. It has been a busy and productive one, but I am already plotting out things I'd like to do in the coming year. Much more hiking if the weather cooperates and many more paintings!

I hope you enjoyed reading about my year. I'm looking forward to sharing more of my adventures with you in 2024!