Painter of the mystical, otherworldly, sensual, and whimsical.

I'm a painter living and working in the beautiful finger-lakes region of Western New York State. I am also an avid gardener and nature lover, so the lush green rolling hills, gentle streams, and majestic lakes that surround my home in this world often appear in the fantasy worlds of my paintings.

Many of the pieces draw inspiration from folk tales, myths and legends. These "teaching tales" were what drew us together around our hearth-fires for centuries, and I believe those stories still carry power.

I enjoy looking at these ancient tales, through my eyes, and painting what I see, no matter if it's beautiful or disturbing. But what's more fun is when others can see those same paintings and find something within of value that speaks to their soul directly. I do not plan for this, but am honored when it happens, and, oh, yes, do love hearing about it every time that it happens. It reminds me that maybe we are not so different after all.

Glad to meet you, and please enjoy the paintings!

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Fauna has in common with Leonard Nemoy

Above: from "the Full Body Project."
Photographer: Leonard Nemoy

Art-modeling is one of the greatest, and least-expected, ego-boosts I could imagine.  I say this as a woman who had not been in front of a lens before the age of 35, for any reason other than the usual snapshots at family gatherings, and had no experience in glamour or fashion modeling at all. I look nothing like a fashion model, and never have.  However, I understand that this is one of the reasons why +Fauna Reeves of Lady Fauna Photography asks me to get in front of her lens.  I've played several different "roles" in the collaborative "theater-of-the-mind" that becomes Fox and Jackal.

I love the fresh... no, pure. Untarnished. ...perspective young photographers bring to the table, so waited until after the shoot to send a message and ask if she had seen the hardcover book "The Full Body Project: Photographs by Leonard Nimoy"

Yes, it's *that* Leonard Nemoy, of "Spock" fame. He went on to have an amazing career as a talented photographer, with two different photo-books (that I know of) so far.  (The other one is "Shekinah," and it's just as powerful.)

Both collections are on display in the Michelson Gallery, Northampton, Massachusetts, just outside of the city where he "first experienced the magic of making photographic images as a teen-ager in the early 1940s. His darkroom was the family bathroom in their small Boston apartment. His subjects were family and friends." ~biography

The Michelson courteously offers a view a lot of the images themselves, plus many of the photographer's insights, from both collections.

I share them here for those of you who, like Lady Fauna and Mr. Nemoy, do not believe beauty is confined to a size range that falls between a size 0-6, or an age between 15 and 25.


The Full Body Project

Personally, I came to today's shoot as a model, so my job is taking direction from the photographer while the camera is clicking.   Outside of a shoot, I'm still my own artist. Many different body-types have appeared in my drawings and paintings.

I find runway models beautiful like gazelles or greyhounds or sculptures of cats made of spun class. but that doesn't infringe in any way on the beauty of the women who radiate power like wind and Holy Fire.  Neither of these change my love for those who have abundant bodies like landscapes and Earth Goddesses.  All, to me, can hold beauty, so long as a good photographer is willing to show it to me.

My attitude about women and men, as well as my taste in them, is very similar to Robert Heinlein's.  It's fortunate that my husband agrees with me.

I'm enjoying Fauna's bravery in tackling the unconventional, uncomfortable aspects of human sexuality that lie somewhere along the fringe of  "acceptable," and I'm proud of her for her courage.  Today was one piece of a much longer series, but playing a part in today's shenanigans resulted in hilarity on a level that is clearly, clearly! unacceptable (!) for respectable and civilized people.  Raise your glass, dear, and let's have a toast!  "God Bless and Keep the virtuous far away from me!"

Monday, April 28, 2014

Four Ways in Which Showing Up Is More Important Than Having Talent

This is sheer, insightful brilliance.  Counter-intuitive, maybe, and unromantic, certainly, but true and real as sunshine or cold water.  I wish that I could tell you differently, and pass along the magic spell for overnight success or or glowing, white-hot  inspiration.  Even inspiration requires work or it won't ever become anything more than a doodle or a pile of notes.  You've got to take it to the wall yourself.

Four Ways in Which Showing Up Is More Important Than Having Talent

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Angel

New Piece: "Snow Angel"
Portia St. Luke,
Mixed Media on Paper
January, 2014

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Getting stuck in a negative thought spiral feels like the worst thing on earth.
The day that I figured it was possible to break one of these spirals (if I could see it happening) I knew I'd gained a new and powerful tool. This is not a lofty claim that I'm a perfect, enlightened being, capable of mindfulness at all times. Some days, the demons win. Other days, I'd swear to you that they win far more often than I do, and I really suck at this... but, hopefully, I would stop myself and find a way to interrupt that thought pattern, right there.  Full stop.

Writing for the Elephant Journal, Michelle Margaret shares this piece of wisdom:
When I was in elementary school and they taught us about fire safety, the rule if your clothes caught on fire was to “stop, drop and roll.” For some reason, that slogan came into my mind recently, and I realized that it’s applicable to daily life practice, too.

When you get caught in a pattern of negativity—ill will, jealousy, anger, fear, self-hate or whatever it may be—stop.

Stop. Notice that you’ve been swept away from the present moment.

Drop. Let it go. Just as simple as that. Surrender. You don’t need to hold onto it anymore.

Roll. Life goes on. Continue on your way until you need to stop, drop and roll again.

Michelle offers us nine more great suggestions for re-aligning your spirit in her article, "How to be Free: 10 Simple, Transformative, Daily Life Practices." None of them require a lifetime of study or an advanced knowledge of Eastern Mysticism.  They're suggestions and ideas, each with the potential to become daily practice, should you find they help you.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Imagine Finding Me

Above: Otsuka, Chino "1982 and 2005, Paris, France," photo manipulation from her series titled Imagine Finding Me.

This photo collection is such an interesting take on time, perspective, even age... or maybe it's really just about how much fun one photographer can have with Photoshop and I'm over-analyzing things.

Tokyo-born, London-based photographer Chino Otsuka takes the past and present photo project to a new level of expert photo manipulation with her series titled Imagine Finding Me. Rather than simply recreating old photographs as an adult, she inserts her present-day self into photos from her childhood. The result is an incredibly believable image that features photos of Otsuka as a little girl in the 70s and 80s standing side by side with herself as a modern-day woman.

Essentially, the series presents a double portrait of Otsuka and the many places she's visited as a kid. With the advantages of using digital software and technology to merge her past and present self, the photographer is able to create these unique self-portraits. She says, "The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine as I'm embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history." -From

Photography is not the same as illustration.  A world is not created: it's already there. the lens captures light and shadow in a very scientific way, and this requires all photographers to be realists, on some level. Photographers are not afforded the luxury of pure fantasy or pure abstract the way that painters are, so to make us think, they have to bend things, but just a little.  How is that best accomplished through a lens? Great photographers ask this all the time, and the ones that achieve it make us ask questions of ourselves and the world around us that we might otherwise have never asked.  This is the power of that little box when held in the hands of such a magician.

I love presenting "artists to watch out for," but see no reason why photographers shouldn't be counted as artists, especially when they make us think, feel, or remember we're alive and essentially human in some way. Whether it's digital photo-manipulation, oil on panel, or a really good blues solo, isn't that the entire point of art?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Firearms: Yes, it's a women's issue (I have opinions.)

Above: Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko (July 12, 1916 – October 10, 1974), 
a Soviet sniper during WWII. She is credited with 309 kills, 
and regarded as the most successful female sniper in history. 
(Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons.)

Russian Female Snipers in WWII
were feared by 
combat trained German troops. 
(So much for guns being a macho-man only sport!) 

In fact, there were approximately 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army, of whom about 500 survived the war. Lyudmila Pavlichenko (pictured above), Nina Lobkovskaya, and Klavdiya Kalugina (who was only 17 at the start of her military service in 1943) were among the thousands of women who put themselves in the line of fire for Mother Russia.  They were armed with slightly more accurate but less-rugged sniper rifles (German: Scharfsch├╝tzengewehr or SSG), than their conscripted brothers: an upgrade from the cheaper assault rifle.

While I have openly said that we, as a culture, really ought to consider just how "universal" that "right" to own a firearm really is (Hey, we do have a licencing process to drive cars, showing that we're not going to act like a damned fool when behind the wheel, correct? Most NRA members that I've talked to understand gun safety and the rules of firearms so well that they could teach a gun safety course themselves, and agree this is reasonable.) ...guns are also a women's right's issue, in that they truly become the great equalizer.  I am not a small woman (or a woman who should ever own a firearm) but I understand the fear that my petite friends feel when at risk of being beaten, abused, or raped.  Cornered and out-massed by 200 lbs. of angry pot-roast is no place to be.

...but one bullet is one bullet.  Nothing says "I'm not getting raped (mugged/ beaten) today!" like a large-caliber round to the center chest.  Simple, eloquent, and to-the-point.  The vast majority of rape cases will never go to trial, the majority of those that do will never be convicted, and, if you grew up in the United States, you probably know the rest. Dead men can't become repeat offenders.  If she is fighting for her life, no further argument is necessary.