Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspirations: Kathi Roussel

During the last couple months as I've contemplated new ideas and new directions, I've been trying to pay attention to the work that makes me pause to look and to ponder.  I've been watching myself as if from a short distance to see what it tells me about what I value in my own life and how I can spend this next year even more engaged in pursuits that matter. Not surprisingly, I spend a lot of my time on Etsy and I began to realize one of my patterns. I found that when I needed a bit of sustenance and something to take me to a different place, one of stillness and meditation, I would visit 5gardenias, the vintage shop of Kathi Roussel. About the same time it dawned on me that one of my other favorite shops filled with elegant handcrafted jewelry beautifully photographed, Kathi Roussel was run by the very same person. I wanted to know more about her and how she had come to have two successful shops with amazing pieces, photographed and presented in ways that took them way beyond the ordinary. The idea for this monthly series was born. I sent Kathi a list of questions I was curious about and present her heartfelt and humorous responses here, interspersed with a few of my favorites from both of her shops. I think you will be inspired too!

* As things change frequently, I'm just including links to the shop where these pieces originally resided.

Can you talk about your background and a bit about the history of your artistic pursuits?
I had the good fortune of spending about 5-6 years attending two wonderful art schools once I left high school. The experiences were enriching and eyeopening. I had grown up in a small town with very little cultural exposure-- so for me the experience was life changing and really shaped the person that I am today. I have never stopped making art related work since those early days of study. The mediums have changed, but my devotion to work and love for creating is constant.

What people and events have influenced you to become a maker as well as a collector?

My art school experiences filled me with a strong sense of possibility and a deep appreciation for the arts. I had some wonderful teachers along the way, many of them talented artists in their own right, so I felt a sense of certainty that following a path of art making was a viable option. As far as collecting goes-- I think that got started  because my family owned and operated several stores-- the last of which was a combination furniture and gift store situated in a renovated victorian farmhouse, with a barn out back for selling antiques. I used to go to auctions and bid on items for the business when I was living in Boston going to school. My boyfriend at the time was an antiques enthusiast and we would go hunting for treasures on weekends at local flea markets and thrift shops in and around Boston. It was then that I began my first small collection-- antique and vintage toasters! I've since moved on --mostly to smaller items that are more intimate and easy to maintain and store.

I'm struck by the qualities embodied in still life paintings....How do you go about presenting the objects in your vintage shop, 5gardenias?

I remember when I first opened my etsy shop and added my vintage items-- I was clueless. I had no idea how best to present anything. Gradually over time I began to get a sense of the Etsy aesthetic. I noticed that my favorite shops used natural light and more casual settings for their items. I finally found the right spot in my home, near a bank of large windows facing north that offered the best natural light source, especially during our long grey and often dark Buffalo winters. I was happy just to get some decent photos. As with most things one does for awhile there is a slow evolution and discovery process of what works and what doesn't. I began to get more comfortable with the camera, so I could direct my attention more to the objects themselves--to try and figure out the best way to  capture and express their beauty or quirkiness. I find myself now trying to get to some simple and straightforward essence that the object offers. Each object has it's own personality. The shape, the color, the period in which it was made--whether it was hand or machine made-- all these things tell a story, and I find myself wanting to reveal something  charming or compelling about the object to the viewer. It's somewhat intangible but when I make photos I love, I know I've hit it. Sometimes the background makes the difference, or sometimes the distance the object sits from the camera says something about it, sometimes it's the old crinkled paper I've put underneath, or the old box it stands on.... I have an arsenal of props that I often use.  The most important thing of all to me is how the light is hitting the piece or the area around the object. This is just as true if not even more important with the macro shots I take of my jewelry work. Photography is after all about light. I'm not a technical photographer--but I think I'm an observant one. You mentioned the sense of objects "suspended in time". Yes!! That has always been my goal. To create a still life. Something serene and quiet. Sometimes joyful, or playful. Sometimes a bit melancholy. Sometimes stoic. The object seems to direct me.

Does the marketplace influence the work that you make or collect?

At times it does. There are times when I make a point of finding certain kinds of antique and vintage pieces directly related to various holidays during the year, or seasons. I tend to gravitate toward older pieces from the turn of the century or earlier, but I love pieces from every decade--from primitive and rustic, to fine, to modern-- to over the top kitsch. I think I developed my love for kitsch in art school--thanks to my boyfriend's 50s poodle figurine collection. As far as my jewelry work goes--I try to stay on my own path as much as possible. Of course I'm constantly looking and seeing what's new and what trends are taking shape. If I can work some aspect of current trend into pieces here and there it can be fun and add some freshness to the work.

Any particular current influences?

Well I just noticed that Edwardian is starting to come into fashion. I happen to love that time period and so for me offering some antique pieces from that era is exciting-- and even my jewelry work is sometimes influenced by Victorian and Edwardian work --albeit twisted toward a minimalist modern version- for instance the piece in my jewelry shop titled "Sleep" is influenced by lover's eye Victorian jewelry--Victorian lockets that contained hand painted portraits of woman's eyes. I love the intimacy of those early pieces. They are wonderfully romantic. And I love the lockets that hold the hair of a beloved family member. My shadow box pieces are definitely a nod to that period-- and to Victorian mourning jewelry which was always black. I love the secrecy of  lockets and boxes and all things that contain and hold keepsakes. I've also got some more modern minimalist geometric pieces in my jewelry shop. People are feeling the pyramid power all over the place on Etsy-- I guess I do too!


If you could have a small gathering of anyone from history for dinner and conversation....who would you invite?

Well that's a tough one-- good thing I have a very long dining table--this will be fun!!

I'd have to have Gandhi --he would be seated at the head of the table--he has so many poignant things to tell us. Then I would invite Jane Goodall and Dian Fossy-- both amazingly courageous and admirable woman.  I think I'd enjoy hearing what artist Kiki Smith might have to tell us about her work and influences-- along with Andrew Goldsworthy.  I'd invite Dick Cheney and then not serve him any dinner and not allow him to speak--just make him listen to the conversation going on... and Woody Allen for comic relief....and his favorite director Ingmar Bergman for the weightier view of things...  oh and Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, so we could get mythical and speak about the unconscious ( meanwhile hoping Cheney is listening and learning and feeling sheepish and like a mere mortal by now...)  and a few of my favorite painters, Georgio Morandi, Philip Guston, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh. Then I'd have Mary Magdalene and Jesus stop by for coffee and desert if they are able to make an appearance.... that could shake things up a bit.. at least spur on an interesting debate. or not.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Finish Line

I crossed the finished line on this piece with the black branches, which at this point at least, is still officially without a name....a most unusual state of affairs. Almost always the piece makes it's name known during the creative process and this work has had plenty of time to reveal itself to me, that's for sure. Maybe I wasn't listening....maybe it was whispered a bit too softly. In time, I'm sure I'll be told, but for now I'll just refer to it as the piece with the little black branches...rather clumsy I realize!

I'm getting excited about opening up a new Etsy shop with the daily drawings. I'm so glad to have wonderful readers and supporters out there who have given me the boost and confidence to go ahead with the idea....thank you again.  I'm proceeding a bit slowly, so I have all my ducks in a row, but I will keep you posted so you can come visit when it's officially online!  In the meantime, as the days go by, I am accumulating more of these intimate drawings on teabags.  My husband came home the other night from school announcing that he had a gift for me, handing me an old plastic bag feeling like nothing but air. Of course I thought it was a joke, but no, it was full of the teabags he'd been collecting at work!  Yippee!!  There are only so many jars of ice tea you can make, especially if you're not all that prone to drinking it!  I'm back in teabags now!

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Tomorrow is the last day of the month and the last day of the 15% off sale at MissouriBendStudio if you are so inclined to take advantage of it.

I also have a special treat for you....I'm launching a new monthly series and it will post on the last day of the month....stay tuned and I'll see you tomorrow afternoon!  Enjoy your evening!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Not Yet, Keep Going

Well, it's Friday and not only that, it's almost the end of Friday and I so hoped to have a finished piece to show you....but alas, it's not finished yet.  Here it is though, almost finished, well maybe.  It sort of reminds me of the scene in the film, A River Runs Through It, when the son keeps coming to his father for final approval with the homework or the essay he's writing...the father checks it over and keeps sending him away to do it over or keep working on it.....eventually he's finished and gets to go out to play....but it takes a long time.  I knew part-way through on this piece that I would do the extra random stitching at the top....a little border area with different colors in it.....but the stitches were never enough and then today I got to the point when I thought it would be just the right amount.....but the little piece has sent me back to the desk....keep going.  The multi-colored random stitches have to spill out way beyond the border and be scattered throughout the piece....keep going.  I'm sure I'll be told when it's time to stop, but it's not yet....I have to keep going.


It's a different conversation entirely with each daily piece....they seem to like a spare identity and mostly I have to listen for the soft voice that says "stop." It's a nice stretch to have these two very different conversations going on with the work.  Right now my book says, "come over here and do some reading....why am I always the last to get the attention around here?"  More about that later.

Have a great weekend....full of joy and discovery!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Life in Tea

It occurred to me the other day, as I was reading through a blogpost from a tea drinker that I have not shared with you my love of tea....and its place in my daily life of essentials!  You may not find that at all surprising, given my love of all things teabag in terms of making art, but I'm not a drinker of tea made from teabags, unless I'm in a real pinch....I almost always drink loose tea.  This makes it rather difficult to procure enough used teabags to fill my needs, so I will sometimes make a cup of Tazo Awake tea just for the teabag. When I'm in a group setting for any length of time, I get people to save their teabags for me, which is a huge help. A number of years ago I spent a month-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center and for much of the time there, scores of people were saving their teabags for me and I would come to my studio each morning to find a small, damp pile of teabags awaiting my attention....but what a boom for my teabag collection!

But, back to the topic at hand....my very essential tea drinking proclivities!  I sometimes think of myself as a tea evangelist, as I would say to those that who profess not to like tea and even to those who can take it or leave it, that unless you've had a cup or pot made from loose tea, you've not really had tea.  And I will actually go further to say to my tea drinking friends (or those about to be converted or willing to two-time their coffee drinking habits) that unless you've had a cup made from tea ordered from Upton Tea Imports in Holliston, Massachusetts, you're probably still missing out.  I've never been there, but I've been ordering my tea from their amazing catalog for over a decade.

I've had tea from tea shops and tea catalogs from all over the country and have never had anything that was as good as my beloved Upton Tea Imports.  The most wonderful thing about them is that you can order absolutely any of their 40+ pages of tea from all corners of the earth in a sample size, which gives you enough for a couple pretty good size pots.  

This enables you to try any tea at a very affordable price to see if you like it.....that's how I found my daily tea, Halmari Estate CTC BOP, described thus: "a bold CTC [cut-tear-curl]  style tea with rich flavor.  The dark liquor will readily take milk. Especially suited as a bracing morning tea.".....oh, yes.
It's rich and malty and one can't describe it in terms of anything else....which can be frustrating.  So, while I continue to order samples of their various teas, which include new ones in each issue as they become available, I now order my Halmari Estate (catalog #:TA27H) through a standing order, which means that every other month, like clockwork, there will be a 500 gram (17.6 oz) bag of tea waiting for me in the mailbox....and not a minute too soon!

Cut-tear-curl tea is tea leaves curled into tiny pellets...

I'm always just about down to my last bit in the tin and starting to sweat it out that I'll have to go without....and then the tea arrives!  Yesterday, just in time, there was the package waiting for me....saved.  My daily ritual continues uninterrupted.  You can order online from Upton Tea Imports, but I love their quarterly catalog, which includes a running history of the tea trade.  

I think I'll have a finished piece to show to you tomorrow in the slow hand stitched work, but here's the last few dailies in the meantime.  Thanks so much for your wonderful comments about these daily pieces....it's very encouraging and much appreciated!




Sorry for the poor quality of these images.....turns out I'm not becoming any better at photographing the pieces....I'll need to work on that for the new shop!

I'm very excited to see Bryan Bowers, the amazing autoharp folk musician, at the National Music Museum brown bag lunch concert tomorrow.  He comes through about every other year and it's always an amazing treat!

Hope you're having a great week.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Daily Still Life Drawings

Hand stitching is a slow process....a very slow process.  I've spent a fair amount of time since I last wrote here on two of the pieces I've got going, but it hasn't made enough of a difference and I won't bore you with all the interim shots. I've run out of thread on the third piece, so that's a bit of a delay....I can't just dash off to the store to get more....it's about a 45 minute trip and one must have a list of other needs to make a trip to Sioux City with the price of gas these days.  I'll be getting some more this week though, because it turns out, now I do have a list!!!

But, here's what I do have to show you....the development of the daily drawings.  I liked what was happening with the teabag on teabag still life theme, but it all really depended on the strength of color in the teabags and sometimes things were invisible....so it occurred to me that the teabag could actually take a bit of paint since it was sealed, having been adhered to the bristol board with gel medium. I've been continuing to experiment with still life compositions in the daily drawings.  Okay, I have to admit that I did cheat a bit.  Since I was gone last week and my time in the studio was all thrown off, I had a couple of days with no drawings to represent them, which I just couldn't bear, so I made 2 or 3 of these pieces in one day and slotted them in. Their dates are in brackets underneath, so I know they weren't actually done on that day.  Of course, no one would have known this if I hadn't felt compelled to confess!!  Anyway,  here is a selection of some recent daily drawings.






I'm not sure why the notion of the still life is so close to my heart and my hand these days, but it is.  There is something silent and timeless about a still life....the notion of a moment in time held in the hand, fixed by the eye....a moment that contains all other moments....that's what it is. It's about a slowing down and the illusion of stillness, because there is never any stillness, not really....if so, we'd all perish.

Perhaps you can tell who my hero is in terms of painting and still life....it's Giorgio Morandi....the master of simple composition, silence and stillness.  So elegant.

Natural Morta I by Giorgio Morandi

I'm thinking about the daily drawings having their own Etsy shop. I have a few from the fall over at MissouriBendStudio, but there is so much work in my shop now, it's probably a bit overwhelming.  I think a second shop filled with just daily drawings all in the same price range might be a refreshing change.  Any of you wonderful readers who are Etsy sellers want to weigh in on the question? 

In the meantime, I keep forgetting to mention that I am having a sale in my shop through January, so it goes for just another week....15% everything in MissouriBendStudio!  Plenty of artwork there that would love to have a good home....the pieces are happy to travel anywhere on the globe!  See you later in the week....have a great one!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter Has Arrived

What happened....how it did it come to be Friday already?!  I had a busy week, which started with a lovely surprise. Some time ago I had submitted my work to The Grand Hand, a wonderful gallery in St. Paul, Minnesota, and heard back from them that they wanted to carry my work....great news!  The question was whether it was easier and more cost effective for me to package and ship framed work or make the five hour trip with the work myself.  Given that Johntimothy, the packer in this family of two, was way too busy to deal with getting the works safely packaged, I decided to make the quick trip up there to deliver the work in person.  So, off I went on Tuesday, returning home on Wednesday night.  It was nice to see the gallery again, meet the folks there and give them a choice among which works they'd like to have on hand.  That took a chunk out of the week, but sure am glad I went when I did, as we now have snow on the ground and temperatures have plummeted!

Trying to get back in the swing of the slow work I have going.  I'm not sure you can tell the difference in this piece....here's a detail of that red one again.  I am just stitching randomly, adding different colored bits to each little item....I think of these floating amorphous shapes as something akin to dust....containing scattered moments of history as they move slowly across our field of vision.  I'm sure no one else will read them that way, but that's what they are to me. There is still a very long way to go on this piece.  Dust seems to accumulate pretty quickly....why doesn't this go any faster?

I have started a couple of other pieces as well....hoping to have enough going on them to be able to show you more works in progress at the beginning of the week.  Until then, hope you have a fine weekend. I'm going to work on staying warm!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Daily Rituals

Welcome to the middle of January! Here in South Dakota, where I sit, tucked away in the southeast corner of the state, I am waiting for the predicted snow showers to start....funny how sunny it is....snow showers? Hmmm. Whatever happens with the rest of this winter, we've certainly had a reprieve here at the beginning....it's bound to be a short one.  The other morning, there was ice flowing down the river, as I mentioned in my last post, and we spotted one the of bald eagles beginning his or her weekend with a leisurely raft trip down the river on a chunk of ice.  We watched the bird coming down the river from a few houses up....pure joy, for eagle and for us!

Wish we had a better close-up lens....this was a zoomed in crop shot of the rafter as he or she passed by the house!

Meanwhile, the slow art making practice continues....with slow, but steady progress. I continue my other little rituals, like the morning drawing pages that I do each day.  I wrote about this some time ago here and thought I show you the stacks of paper I have since I began in early August....some months were not as complete as others....you know how it is, life gets in the way of life!

There are 10 meditative drawings each day....just letting my hand move across the page. I so recognize myself on those pages....it's like looking in the mirror....the first drawing from today below.

This is a cropped view from the center of the page where the drawing sits...

As a balance to the slower work, having these daily practices is a wonderful.  I've just added one thing more to the mix....so now there are the 10 morning page drawings and 2 pages of writing, and am adding back the daily "drawings" on teabags mounted on bristol board that I was doing in Wyoming.  These have to be intuitive and playful, because I don't want them to take too much time from the slow-building work, but I think they'll give me some sense of completion for each day.  We'll see how this goes.  

The first one yesterday started out as more of "found paper" collage on the teabag, but morphed into a teabag on teabag collage. I liked what was happening so did another one for today....they are little still life pieces...just cut out teabag shapes adhered to....teabag!!! 

January 15, 2012

January 16, 2012

Hope you all have a fine week.  Thank you so much for all the supportive comments on my last post....it's great to have friends across the world....we have much to share!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Living and Working From Core Values

I've been thinking about core values again....a subject I return to periodically in my life.  I believe each one of us has a set of values out of which we are operating and living our lives....or not.  That is, we are sometimes living our lives not in line with our core values.  That's when life doesn't feel so good anymore....out of sorts, depressed, etc.  Our bodies know what is going on and if we are quiet and listen to our inner selves for long enough, our minds come to an understanding too. Maybe things just aren't right and we can't figure it out.....I'd say that's when it's time to stop and take stock.  First, you have to understand what your core values are....I'm certainly no expert on this, but I think that many things in our lives contribute to our core values and they are what make us who we are. Often we have resolutions or things that we want to do and yet we don't do them, in which case my experience has been that there is some kind of conflict with another value that we hold dear, which perhaps we're not willing to see.  These things can shift and change over time, but I think it's really important to have a handle on what you value, not just in your head, but in the core of your being.

All this leads up to a meeting I had with my core values this week and once I understood that I was down and depressed because I was no longer operating out of my core values, everything shifted....I felt lighter and back in my own skin, in a strange way.  The tipping point was the realization that I was chasing after a job, any job, even one that could possibly take me farther away from myself, just to have a paycheck coming in.  My aspirations and values to surround myself with people and environments which will help me grow and learn and be in line with the kind of life and lifestyle I want to lead, somehow were no longer at the forefront.....I could tell I was afraid that I might get myself in a situation in which I'd be miserable, just trading anxiety about money into some other kind of misery.  But, it unfolded a little further as, at the same time, I understood that my own artistic practice had strayed from the values I hold dear.  Where I value a process that is slow, one that builds over time, layered with history and meaning, I had been in a sort of production mode, short circuiting all my values for the "marketplace".  Not only was the "marketplace" mode not working (hence the need for a job!), it wasn't as satisfying to me as it might be for others....I had somehow lost my trust in those long held values I'd been carrying for a long time.  All those realizations happened in an instant as I tried to focus in my whole body as to what in the world was wrong with my world....and I must say, although nothing on the outside changed, everything in my world felt immediately okay.  A shift....here's how I can say it the most simply.  Perhaps now, as I've slowed down to enjoy the process of making, I am aspiring to sell the work that I make (translate: find loving homes) rather than making the work to sell.  It's huge....that difference is huge and it requires a great deal of trust.....but it makes me happy and I feel more in line with my values.  You might guess that I don't have any new finished pieces to show you....but here are a couple works in progress.  Lots of stitching on handmade paper dipped in beeswax....so satisfying.

There's a long way to go on both these pieces, but that's okay.....it's the way I used to work!  I'll keep you posted.  

In the meantime, our balmy winter weather has disappeared for a few days.  Although we didn't get the snow many folks did, it got mighty cold and now we've returned to a usual winter scene (minus snow on the ground) of ice flowing down the river, which is really quite lovely!  The bald eagles are visible most days, fishing over the water, perching in the trees behind the house....beautiful!

Once the flood waters receded early in the fall, we were left with a HUGE sandbar the size of a small island....perhaps it will become a favorite place for birds to hang out....eventually, I suppose the river will claim all that sand once again.

Enjoy your weekend! And thanks so much for listening!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Echoes, Ripples and Reverberations

You know how you can hear something said a hundred times and then there is that one time, for no particular reason, you hear it differently and the words resonate in a new way? That happened some weeks back when I was doing the afternoon yoga session with my favorite yoga dvd.  The point came where Jason said, just like he always does, "feel the echo of the back bends" and I suddenly had the revelation of "the echo" as a very powerful metaphor.  Not pun intended, but the notion has been echoing in my mind ever since.  I realized that there is a sort of echo to everything....especially if we think of echo in it's broadest sense.  Objects send out the reverberations of their history and the hands that have touched them...all our actions ripple out interacting and intersecting with those waves emanating from the actions of those around us and even people across the globe.  I think there is a sense in which we are absorbing the echoes of our earliest ancestors and those of other living things.  All this gives me pause, as I continue thinking, musing and pondering about the next course, the next path....what makes sense, where and how do I feel most in sync with the world.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Envisioning 2012

Welcome to 2012!  I hope this year brings many wonderful surprises to your life....I am hopeful of good things to come.  As one year moves seamlessly into the next, I find myself envisioning what I'd like my life to look like in the time ahead and what it will take on my part to make it happen. Sometimes, it's hard work to make things come to fruition, but it helps when there is a vision to guide you.  I'm finding also, that sometimes all that is required is a change of attitude, which can make life look completely different.

I am still thinking about the conversation with you, my readers, that will unfold over the coming months and how I can do a better job of engagement, creating interest and inspiration for all of us.  No concrete resolution yet, but in my musings, I've thought about authenticity, what it is that makes me happy, and what are the lifestyle choices that define me.  Where are the gaps that exist between the person I aspire to be and the one who walks in my shoes day to day.

My husband and I had a wonderful Christmas holiday in Athens, Georgia where a good deal of my family gathers each year at my brother's house.  It's a time of good cheer, good food and drink and generous gift giving.  Books are always high on the list and this year was no exception....I have a LOT of reading to do....

Among the titles are a number of books that will enhance my life in the kitchen, where my aspirations are to live a life filled with nourishing, beautifully prepared food.  I love good food, but often find that I'm in such a hurry, I don't take time to enjoy the process of preparing food that is equal parts healthy and beautiful.  A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented For Your Kitchen is wonderful book by the owner of 5 & 10, a fabulous restaurant in Athens, Georgia, where we go each year. John and I have become very intrigued with the world of cheese in the past couple of years and ended up giving each other books on the subject. My book, Artisan Cheese Making At Home, promises a lot of goodness in our cheese future....if I'm up to the task! I'm also interested in learning to bake bread and one of the books in the pile here is my source of knowledge, From A Baker's Kitchen: Techniques and Recipes for Professional Quality Baking In The Home Kitchen.  I've admired this beautiful book, Vegetables: From Amaranth to Zucchini, as it's been given to some one of the family members each year for the past several....this year John and I were the recipients and I'm so glad to have it....well researched and beautifully presented, the book gives all kinds of background information and recipes for all the vegetables you've been curious about, but have been too intimidated to try, not to mention the ones everyone knows and loves.  

So, when I'm not in the studio or in the kitchen, I have plenty of other reading to do....among the lovely new titles on my shelves are the following: 

The Hare With Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal
Swamplandia, by Karen Russell

I'm overwhelmed!  Meanwhile, there is job hunting, time in the studio, yoga practice and my usual musings about life to keep me occupied.  We are all a little bewildered by the weather in this part of the country these days. No snow....how we could have driven from South Dakota to Georgia and back at the end of the December and not seen any snow is beyond me!  I'm not complaining in the least....not with a weather forecast predicted to reach the upper 50s in a few days.  Strangely enough, here's the view this afternoon from the front of the house....not the usual January view.

But here's something that calls to mind a more normal vision for this time of year....Trees In Winter, a new piece in my shop:

Hope the start of the new year has been full of new energy and inspiration for you...feel free to share new visions for your year!