Stretching these wings…

What a journey it has been…

I am thrilled to be posting this news! It has been quite a journey to get me back to the studio. As we are all aware, some of the greatest artists in history as well as today, have to put down their brushes and tools to make other important contributions. I am no different. I was fortunate enough to work in a job that I adored with people that I miss every day to help support my family during our transition to the desert. However, even while working a great job, the studio never stopped calling me. I would steal any time I could in my creative space, even if just to meditate and dream. During that time I wanted to reach out to you but mostly felt ashamed that I had nothing creative to share.

During the past few years I have expressed myself creatively in photography. Social Media can be an amazing lifeline in order to keep tethered to a world of expressionism. I utilized my free time visiting with family, hiking in the desert, discovering wildlife, and inhaling the beauty of the Sonoran Desert that I live in. I’m grateful to own a camera that also happens to make cell phone calls. 🙂

Gratefully, I have been given the opportunity to return to my studio. I have a wonderful casita on the other side of our courtyard that has been converted to my studio and gallery. I have been going back through my photographs over the past few years and compiling a body of work that I am excited to complete and share.

If you received this email, it’s because I consider you a friend who has shown interest in my artwork or studio practice. I hope you will choose to continue receiving it each month. Your support during this left brain period has been greatly appreciated! Looking forward to sharing the interesting wildlife that is often seen in my yard as well as the stunning beauty of the Sonoran Desert with you. I have discovered that Scottsdale and Phoenix are amazing places for art and hope to share that with you as well.

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Strelitzia is the name for this exciting new series of work. I came across a large swath of bird of paradise blooms set against a cornflower blue sky a few months ago. My previous palette has been focused on a red/green compliment; however here in the desert the skies feature so many different shades of blue that it’s quite difficult to ignore. The blue against the fire orange petals popping through the bud like popcorn captured my heart and attention. This series will feature 16+ pieces in all, each 12″ x 12″. This first one will be included in the Sonoran Arts League’s Small Works show starting December 1st. As I paint them, I find that each one has it’s own personality that comes through. They currently look like a wall of family portraits and it makes me smile. Upon completion of the series, they will each be framed in dark wood and affordable enough to collect multiples of them to fit your space perfectly!

Just beyond the horizon….life blooms…..

6/9/15…I cannot believe the amazing support I have received from my followers, collectors, and friends. Thank you all for being on this journey with me. No matter what new things the days bring, knowing you are there with me makes everything crazier, better, happier, and more worthwhile.  – Catie

 

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Journey…n. c.1200, “a defined course of traveling; one’s path in life,” from Old French journee “day’s work or travel”.

 

This blog has always been about my creative journey…the idea came from my commencement speaker, Renzo Piano, at graduation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. Renzo advised us graduates to not measure our career by the day or even the month or year…but instead by the decade. We should look back at each decade to see how far we have come in our artistic journey and make sure we continue moving forward at our own pace.  Looking back at the past decade I see that in the beginning of it I was a frustrated bookkeeper who knew there was something much greater for me just beyond the horizon and wishing myself the courage to pursue it.

 

Although I haven’t written a post since December (wow….first of all I cannot believe I have been so remiss) it doesn’t mean that nothing has been going on!  I have been busy working as a contracted Social Media Liaison for the St Charles Arts Council and have loved further honing my social media and marketing skills doing so. It has given me the opportunity to meet the most amazing artists and art supporters, work side by side with passionate people providing creative opportunities for artists, and helping to make the dream of having a cultural/arts education center in my city of St Charles, Illinois get closer to fruition!  I have also been busy creating a new body of work in a different direction that involves adding new biologic elements to my flowers (stay tuned for that).

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.   –Mark Twain

 

Over the past few years I have been feeling an increasing pull to the wild adventure of the West…to witness the never ending sun filled blue skies…to explore the grand mountains standing sentry…to dream of new landscapes…and to follow the footsteps of my parents and sister.  Being born in Chicago and raised from age 2 in the suburbs here has been a great thing! This is my home and has been my entire life. Over the years, since my parents moved to Arizona, I have made an amazing family here…personally and professionally. I am both nervous and anxious to announce that it is time to leave my safe harbor…move along on my journey…and head West. I am grateful to say that I will be able to spend time and enjoy my parents for the rest of their journey!  I am excited to share all the new inspiration I will receive as I explore the Southwest and continue to allow my interpretations be expressed in paint…or even perhaps photography!

 

You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.  -Christopher Columbus

 

Again I find myself wishing for the courage to pursue what lies just beyond that horizon. I am not sure when this new journey will begin. Our home in downtown St Charles just went on the market.  I am going to enjoy each moment of it IN each moment of it.  I hope you continue to come along for the ride!

 

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Juneau

When we arrived in Juneau, we were continuing on our misty cloudy days. It was damp and cool but really not uncomfortable at all. Juneau…you can only get into and out of Juneau by boat or plane. Who knew?? When we first pulled in I could not believe how many boats there were. After learning about the only way in and out, it makes perfect sense!

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We were originally planning to take a helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier on this day, but the fog was way too low for the ‘copters to fly so we wound up taking a bus to the glacier but we would no longer be able to stand on it. Sigh. First, we trammed out way up to Mt. Roberts!

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We measured our wing spans, saw eagles, watched a totem be carved, and learned about the signs that are carved in the trees around the area. The particular native sign on the tree below asks viewers to stop and find the reason why this place is so special.

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After Mt. Roberts we boarded a bus to head to Mendenhall! This was a must-see stop! Juneau is the governmental capital of Alaska although there is rumors amongst the locals that they may transfer this back to Anchorage. There is fear by the people of Juneau because it may then ruin the city of Juneau if most of their population leaves town.

Mendenhall Glacier is currently retreating and it was about 60 degrees when we were there. It was such a beautiful place!

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Onto our last port….Ketchikan!

 

 

Glacier Bay National Park….my own personal mecca!

This post may require grabbing a cup of coffee.  There will be a lot of images and each one is worthy of a significant amount of your time. This place is beyond words and each word I type shows me how insignificant language is for this hallowed place. If I had seen this place as a child, I would be working there as a Ranger protecting it with a ferocious passion. Here we go…

Towards the end of this year I will turn 50. Therefore it’s of no surprise that I have been longing for a spiritual adventure. With family in the southwest, I had always imagined it would come somewhere on a mountain hike there or perhaps New Mexico via my artwork. Never in my life had I imagined it would take place in Alaska! Alaska….really….Alaska!  I cannot recall the last time I was so “in” the moment before Glacier Bay National Park. This time I was filled with electricity. I had a narrative playing on the television in our cabin and I was hopping in and out of the balcony door like a small child jumping on the stairway gate on Christmas morning. I could not sit still! At breakfast I was anxious and eager to get back to the balcony and when looking outside it looked the mists of Avalon and the water was eerily still as it swished along our bow.

Here is the imagery that made me run back to my balcony! Something really great was coming into our view….

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As we entered the park, we were treated by otters!

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As we moved into the park we were treated to the vision of a sea of ice….and waterfalls….and interesting inlets.  Even what looked like a very small sailboat. Imagine what an adventure THAT would be!

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Something interesting I learned during this adventure was the way the Rangers take care of the park. In order for our ship to enter into Glacier Bay National Park, we had to allow park security personnel to board our ship to assure them we were ready. In order to be “ready” the ship had to stow away all disposable products. All paper napkins, straws, coffee stirrers, tissues…anything that could possibly be blown into the water area had to be put out of sight. The personnel also stayed aboard our ship until we were leaving the park and then they would transfer back on to their own boats in the water. Our ship was also guided by security boats creating invisible ropes in which we had to stay. As the ship turned into the bay, my eyes and my heart synced together in the most magical of moments. Enjoy the images….

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Just when I thought it could not get any better….it did!  We were idling alongside this huge glacier and everything was so very quiet. There were no voices…no motor sounds…no birds or bugs…just peace. Then out of the blue we heard a loud thunderous CRACK and I was scanning the glacier with my camera lens…it was calving!!!

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As the ship continued on its journey through the park…and I was speechless and not wanting time to move forward for one moment…I just wanted to stay in this moment)…we came around to this amazing glacial cave.

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Then I realized how difficult it was to show the scale of this cave…good thing there was a boat nearby!

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As we left Glacier Bay National Park, we were treated to more ice in the water. I was so taken aback by these images and felt compelled to capture their shapes along with the various shades the water kept turning in the Park. The water in Alaska is so interesting. The water was constantly changing from deep blues to Caribbean aqua to minty greens to almost brown.

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But all there was to see was not necessarily water.  As excited as I was to see glaciers, I was also very aware of their fragility and the sadness I feel when I think they are something that may eventually leave. I believe nothing depicts the violence of the creation and extinction of this area as some of the rocks that were jutting out of the water. These images show the scarring that occurred in the development of this place.

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On our way out of the park, we were again greeted by the wildlife that are so lucky to call this home!

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I really did not want to leave this place! Although I know we have wonderful things planned for our stops in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan…I could have stayed here for a lifetime.

All aboard the Alaska Railroad!

We boarded the train at Denali National Park and we are off to Whittier, Alaska! It is a ten hour train ride in a glass top train car. It was such a great way to travel and there was an open area on the bottom level of the car for us photography nuts…thankfully!  This blog post has no funny stories really….just so many great views and colors of green!

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Finally….our ship!

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Denali National Park….breathtaking.

I used to think Eden would be more like the Caribbean or a tropical island somewhere. I thought it surely lush with tropical plants having gigantic leaves and palm fronds and lipid pools of aqua colored water. The only problem with that thought is you never see the larger overall image of that place because of the thick vegetation. Now, take a place like Denali National Park…wow..now that is what I believe Eden looked like.  In fact, these days I watch Alaskan reality shows with an inclusive sense of humor and the other night an Alaskan gentleman closed out the show by stating that Alaska is where God goes to vacation.  Of course the show was being filed in the winter and I’m not sure if or why anyone would vacation there in the winter….but I definitely think Eden could be located in Alaska.

We took another “coach” to the Princess Denali Lodge. I need to premise this post by saying that our group of 27 with our fearless leader, Bruce, have just enjoyed 3 extremely sublime days at the McKinley lodge in the sunshine while staring lovingly into that rock, Denali. We danced, laughed, sang, made s’mores, listened to music, hiked, snapped countless photos, and ate great food. We were feeling very happy and satisfied!

During our coach ride and our approach to the Denali Lodge, life for us changed. It was now cloudy, misty, and cold! Bruce did a great job narrating the terrain we were passing by and we stopped to take some amazing photographs of lakes, mountains, our first glacier (photo #4) and even an abandoned igloo alongside the highway.

When we arrived at the lodge, the weather was dreary! As we walked through the lodge the other tourists who were swapping out lodges with us looked so unhappy. Upon questioning a staff member as to why; we were informed it was because their previous 3 days at the lodge had been filled with cold and clouds and the dreaded rain. Oh no….was this to be our fate as well? It was as if someone turned the lights out at our party. We all stumbled around for our bearings and grabbed a bite to eat. We dug our warmer sweaters and pants out of our suitcases and wandered around the lodge. Some of us even wished we could go back to McKinley!

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Shortly after lunch and hiking, the sunshine started to emerge! By dinnertime our McKinley weather had arrived at Denali! That evening we enjoyed a theater production of the Music of Denali in which my mother was asked to be a participating character named Fanny. We all had a great time laughing and singing along! Throughout the remainder of the trip, my mother would continue to be comically referred to as Fanny by others in our group.

The next morning we met bright and early for our tour of Denali National Park and once again the bets were on whether or not I would be moved to tears.  This time we were on an old school bus, but it wasn’t any ordinary school bus. This one was equipped with an expert tour guide to show us the land. Denali National Park doesn’t allow vehicles to drive through it with two exceptions. Guided tour buses and shuttle buses who will take hikers in and out of various areas of the park.  Denali National Park consists of SIX MILLION acres of land..thankfully there are shuttles.  We were instructed on the spotting of wild animals and told to call them out so we can collectively stop and view them all! Our tour bus driver even came equipped with a fabulous hat-cam to show us animals on bus monitors that looked like specks to us. The skies were blue and the sun was blaring…great viewing conditions for animals but for me that would not be the highlight of my day! We did get to see moose, caribou, dall sheep, golden bears, and more caribou!

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There was even a spotting of the elusive hubby showing off his antlers! Along with the amazing animals, there are these very cool mudflats that I imagine have much more water in them during a rainy period. I just find the winding ribbons of water to be fascinating!

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For me the landscape was amazing. There is a diversity of land there. Our bus tour went up considerably in elevation the farther into Denali National Park we went. The trees and vegetation at the park entrance is lush and tall and the moose can easily hide in it. However, as we approached the 60 mile mark into the park, the vegetation was now less than a foot tall and most of the flowers were at ground level. This is because at the higher altitudes there, the growing season becomes extremely shortened and therefore plants become more efficient in their reproductive cycles.  Our bus came to a stop at mile 67 and it was our last stop before heading back out. We all stepped out into the tundra to the most breathtaking views!

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But the most amazing view of all was my mountain!  Day two and we got the most spectacular view of Denali ever!  There was nary a cloud around it!!  According to our tour guide, our group was now part of the 10% club because we have had clear days on both sides of the mountain! Such a gorgeous day!  Here is my mountain….DENALI!

Denali

On our way back, and forgive the photo that was taken through the front window of the bus, we were greeted by caribou in the roadway. Thankfully they veered off so we could continue on our way. In Denali National Park…animals always have the right of way…I think they know it too!

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After our exhausting day in the National Park it was time for Happy Hour at the lodge. We would be having to repack for our train ride to Whittier bright and early in the morning.  While looking over the Nenana river winding around our lodge, we noticed that one of the 3 rafts riding the rapids had tipped over. It was a very intense few minutes as all we could do was watch them try to recover. There were seagulls-a-plenty and they were rather bawdy too!

One of the servers shared a story with us from a few years ago. Across the Nenana river is a hiking trail and there was a hiker walking along the river. The people on the outside patio of the restaurant noticed a bear also on the trail a few hundred yards behind the hiker. They yelled to the hiker but because of the rushing water sound and the distance they were unable to get the attention of the hiker. Thinking they are surely going to witness something horrific, they were happily surprised when the bear lost interest and turned around. Whew!

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The view from the resort was amazing…but it’s time to head to the ship!

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