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pastel painting

Poem for Today: Like a Tree

Cathedral of Trees
Cathedral of Trees

Cathedral of Trees

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. Perhaps they have no chance but to stand where they are, but they learn to bend and stretch and live as full a life as possible intermingled with all that lives around them.

“…stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,…bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,…” Years ago I was inspired by the simple existence of the trees around me to write a poem in honor of the way they grew and lived intermingled with all that grew around them because they had no choice. Perhaps that thought is what I have to add to today’s discussion about violence and fear and immigrants and learning to live in peace on this planet.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, but one morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

. . . . . . .

You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to fi nd my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

~~~~~

Shared on Inspire Me Monday

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“Safe”, original framed pastel

"Safe", pastel, 15" x 20", 2015 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Safe”, pastel, 15″ x 20″, 2015 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This painting is entitled “Safe”, 15″ x 20″ , done in soft pastel on Strathmore pastel paper.

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

This work was one of my new paintings for the 2015 Wings & Wildlife Art Show at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. It’s called “Safe”, done pastel from my photo references. It’s the two does who have visited my backyard for the past two years. They would often scurry through my woodland garden to the overgrown area between all our yards when I came outside, and though they were in plain sight of about six houses they apparently felt they were safe—and they were, really, because when I looked at the reference photo for this I wondered why I’d taken a photo of the brush at the end of the yard, and then I saw the ears.

The original is framed with a 4″ white acid-free mat and a 1.25″ white painted arched wood frame.

You can find the original in my Etsy shop along with framed and unframed prints.

SHIPPING AND CHARGES

Shipping within the US is included in the cost of each print.

Prints up to 16″ x 20″ are shipped flat in a rigid envelope. Larger prints are shipped rolled in a mailing tube unless otherwise requested; flat shipping is an extra cost because it’s oversized.

GICLEE PRINTS

The giclees are printed on acid-free hot press art paper for a smooth matte finish using archival inks. Giclee is the highest quality print available because the technique uses a dozen or more ink ports to capture all the nuances of the original painting, including details of the texture, far more sensitive than any other printing medium. Sometimes my giclees look so much like my originals that even I have a difficult time telling them apart when they are in frames.

I don’t keep giclee prints in stock for most of my works. Usually I have giclees printed as they are ordered unless I have an exhibit where I’ll be selling a particular print so there is a wait of up to two weeks before receipt of your print to allow for time to print and ship.

DIGITAL PRINTS

Digital prints are made on acid-free matte-finish natural white 100# cover using archival digital inks. While digital prints are not the quality of a giclee in capturing every nuance and detail of color, texture and shading, I am still very pleased with the outcome and usually only I as the artist, could tell where detail and color were not as sharp as the original. Digital prints are only available up to 11″ x 17″ and some of the prints are cropped to fit standard mat and frame sizes.

Digital prints have at least 1/2″ around the edges depending on the size of the print. All are countersigned by me.

CANVAS PRINTS

Because the standard size canvas prints are not proportional to the original painting, canvas prints of this painting will have a portion cropped off.

I usually have at least one of the smaller sizes of canvases on hand, but order larger ones as they are ordered because I have limited storage space. Smaller canvases are a 3/4″ in depth, Canvases 12 x 16 and larger are 1-1/2″ in depth. I set them up so the image runs from edge to edge, then the sides are black or white or sometimes I slip in a color that coordinates with the painting. This canvas mirrors the edges of the image around the sides.

FRAMED PRINTS

I do all my own framing and can custom frame a print for you. Please ask.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Poem for Saturday: Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

"Summer", pastel, 12" x 24", 1998 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Summer”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1998 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’m a little late with this, considering it’s the first day of August, but July slipped by so quickly—and even in August, you’ll see these same things. A little trip on the highway on a perfectly beautiful summer day brought this all back.

Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
“Freedom”
“Prosperity”
“Harmony”
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned,
its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Poem © 2006, B. E. Kazmarski

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar; this poem was one of those selected. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

. . . . . . .

About the artwork above

“Summer” is an abandoned farm field on a high ridge which I passed regularly on the way to work each morning for six years, seen right after an early morning storm. I would reach this portion of my drive and pause to look at this field with the morning unfolding above it, different each day, take a deep breath, and go on. The site was developed a few years later, but I still remember that each time I pass by it, even now. It’s one of a four-part commission I painted years ago featuring the four seasons in Western Pennsylvania. Read more about the painting, “Summer”, above, and purchase a digital, giclee or canvas print from my Etsy shop.


poetry book

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Exhibit: My Home Town

Pear Trees on Main Street, pastel, 10 x 12, 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
"Pear Trees on Main Street", pastel, 12" x 10", 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Pear Trees on Main Street”, pastel, 12″ x 10″, 2003 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

My Home Town

AN EXHIBIT OF PAINTINGS & SKETCHES

Thursday July 30, 2009, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Babyface’s Carnegie Grill, 36 East Main Street, Carnegie

I love the look of a street lined with houses and trees, a variety of storefronts or someone’s laundry hanging in the back yard; people making their little bit or space unique. I’ve been entering these works in our annual art show, ”Carnegie Painted”, since the year 2000. I’ll have 24 pieces on the wall plus prints and notecards of those and more. Peruse the walls and see if you can identify the views of these familiar streets and places.

Well, those were the days. This was my 2009 annual exhibit, another event in July. Carnegie Painted was an annual exhibit hosted for ten years featuring paintings and sketches of Carnegie, encouraging artists to come and sketch en plein air. I entered at least two if not four images in the show each year for ten years, and in 2009 I selected the originals that hadn’t sold and some of my favorites as prints and put together this exhibit, and also chose 12 images to print as note cards.

Because I’ve sketched so much around Carnegie, these are some of my favorites because I remember not only the scene but the moment, stopping for 15 or 20 minutes on a walk down to the bank to do a sketch, in all seasons. Some were done from photos, but that’s because you can’t always stand and sketch in a snow squall, or standing in the middle of the street.

I still have just a few originals but all are available as prints. The most popular are available in my Etsy shop, so click click this link to find all that’s available on Etsy. Below is a gallery of all the images in the exhibit.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Original Painting: “The Rope Swing”

"The Rope Swing", pastel 14" x 20"

“The Rope Swing”, pastel 14″ x 20″

Earlier this year when I imagined organizing an exhibit of landscapes I’d on sketched and painted on, and of, the Panhandle Trail, this image was the principal image I envisioned and has become my symbol for this exhibit, “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

I hadn’t done this painting yet, but for years I’d planned a painting of this iconic rope swing, which everyone who’d grown up in the area knew about, and for all the years I’d considered having an exhibit like this, on the trail, as part of the annual event, the decision to finally paint this also made me decide this was the year to do it. I usually volunteer a few hours in the kitchen and walk around to take photos, and this will be really fun.

How did we kids live through our childhoods with things like rope swings available to us? I was thrilled to find a rope swing the first time I went exploring off the trail years ago and took a few swings on it myself just for fun, and when my great nieces and nephews came to visit from Savannah, a visit to the trail and the rope swing were tops on the list. Here are a few photos of them on the trail and swinging on the swing.

I pictured this painting to be in high summer, when the sun is bright and hot and the woods are dark and cool, and just coming upon the tree and the swing, the stream running past, standing in the deep darkness underneath looking at the lacy sunlight on the leaves of the tree and lacy shadows on the packed dirt beneath it and the swing itself silhouetted against the brightness beyond, in that moment when the potential is there, just before you decide to go for it.

The spot where this swing hangs is also one of my favorite places off the trail, and I visit there each time I use the trail, in all seasons—in mid-summer to have a dip into Robinson Run where there’s a nice pool there with water that’s always cool, and in winter to see the stream in winter, covered with ice and snow piled in the woods.

So there it is, the old rope swing, waiting for you off in the woods. Go and have an adventure! You can find the painting in my Etsy shop.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


“Morning on the Creek”

"Morning on the Creek", pastel, 22" x 29", 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
    "Morning on the Creek", pastel, 22" x 29", 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Morning on the Creek”, pastel, 22″ x 29″, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A placid morning canoe trip on Chartiers Creek as the sun spills over the top of the hill, and a goose and goslings head upstream. Of course, I couldn’t paint this while paddling, but I kept it in mind for later. I wear a small digital camera around my neck while canoeing and probably spend more time taking photos than paddling, and I’ve tipped the canoe more than once while swinging around trying to focus on a heron flying overhead. It’ s a good thing Chartiers Creek averages about 1o inches deep most of the year.

detail of landscape painting

Morning on the Creek, detail top left.

This scene is in June somewhere near Peters Township and Upper St. Clair where the creek’s channel is still winding in its traditional channel of oxbows and hairpin turns with high banks and deeper pools and rocky ledges in many places, alive with the calls and flight of herons, wood thrushes and kingfishers as well as the more common cardinals, jays and sparrows, and the occasional fish jumping out of the water. It’s difficult to believe you are paddling past back yards and the parking lots of industry, under the interstate and through a golf course.

detail of landscape painting

Morning on the Creek, detail top right

I did a small study of the top section of this image several years ago in preparation for this painting, which is sold but I have prints of this one as well. I have a series of photos from this canoe trip and many others, which are all worthy of artwork, but this spill of sunbeams broken by the tree trunks, touching the leaves with bright gold and shining a spotlight on the surface of the water is simply so descriptive of the summer creek, the one that I remember from my childhood when it was still fairly wild and overgrown all up and down its corridor, that I kept returning to it.

pastel painting of sunbeams through trees

“Sunbeams”, pastel, 6″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

I had originally intended to paint just the creek and its banks, but when I looked closer at my photos I found the little family of Canada geese floating along in the shadows. Even though Canada Geese are not native to the watershed, and are, in fact, invasive in some areas, they are such a common sight that I still welcome their entry on the scene.

goose and goslings

A goose and goslings.

This piece was the signature painting at my second annual poetry reading and fine art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, “Winter Twilight”; those long nights of midwinter can inspire some very deep thoughts. Even though this piece depicts summer, I painted it during a series of those longs nights, remembering the sweet and mild June morning, full of life and sound. Visit my website to see more artwork and read the poetry from that reading.

This painting is an original pastel on acid-free two-ply natural white drawing board to which I applied Art Spectrum Colourfix fine pastel ground tinted light green.

The image size 22″ x 29″, painted in 2008. I framed it in a custom plain matte black moulding with a 4″ acid-free white mat. Framed size is 30″ x 37″, and you can find it in my Etsy shop along with a variety of digital prints, giclee prints and canvas prints:

  • Original, framed or
  • Painting only
  • 11″ x 14″ Digital
  • 22″ x 29″ Giclee
  • 11″ x 14″ Giclee
  • 24 x 18 Canvas
  • 20 x 16 Canvas
  • 14 x 11 Canvas

For local friends, this painting is on display at Wesbanco in Carnegie, 100 Broadway Avenue, Carnegie 15106.

pastel painting of sunbeams through trees

“Sunbeams”, pastel, 6″ x 8″, 2002 © B.E. Kazmarski

“Sunbeams”

Incidentally, the preliminary sketch for this painting, “Sunbeams”, included above, is also available as prints. While I love the detailed finish of the original in that top area I love the loose quality and contrasts in the sketch. Find it in my Etsy shop.

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If you’d like to be informed about new artwork plus sales and specials before everyone else, please sign up for my Art & Merchandise e-newsletter. In September I’m planning an autumn-themed artwork sale as well as a review of an exhibit from 2008 entitled “My Home Town”, with a few originals as well as many prints still available, and a special set of notecards. “Art & Merchandise” is a separate list from my Creative Cat e-newsletter if you’re already signed up for that one.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

. . . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Poem for Arbor Day: Like a Tree

pastel sketch of tree
pastel sketch of tree

“From the Ground Up”, pastel on multi-media paper, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I have looked at this tree every day I’ve lived in this house, bu tone morning last year I followed my little black cat Mimi into my neighbor’s yard, just across the fence line, no fence, from our yard, and looked up at the tall maple tree from a different angle. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it, I thought.

Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April in the United States, as trees have been celebrated all over the world in other festivals throughout human history, and we plant trees, care for trees and observe and honor the trees we live with. You can learn more about Arbor Day here.

The coming of green to the bare trees in spring is as exciting to me as the coming of wild reds and yellows in autumn. Tiny tentative sprays of green spread from one tree to the next, each day brings more green, more shades of green to all the trees around me. Even more than bird returning or daffodils and crocuses and forsythia blooming, the return of the leaves is a confirmation of the return of life to me.

Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills it’s as if someone is air brushing the landscape, and as the leaves spread and grow the hills, which had before seemed flat now take shape and dimension. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I run here and there when the morning sun catches the trees, or the purple clouds of an afternoon storm gather behind the brilliant lime of the tree tops, or the evening sun shines, angled, through a grove of trees.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. They inspired this poem.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

You can find the painting above and all my paintings of trees, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to fi nd my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

~~~~~

Shared on Inspire Me Monday

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Poem for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: I Don’t Want To Be Colorblind

flesh-toned pastels on paper

“Flesh Tones”, January 20, 2014

A sampler of all the shades of pastel I’ve used while painting people of all different colors. Tell me, who is “black” and who is “white”? And what does “colored” mean? In truth, we are all  “colored”. Each of our faces has the darkest and lightest tones and all those in between and even some colors we’d be surprised to find in skin tones.

I Don’t Want To Be Colorblind

I don’t want to be
colorblind,
I want to paint
what I see,
the colors of our faces
like flowers,
not different
but tones of each others’
faces
as we turn toward  the light,
we blend so beautifully.

poem and artwork © 2014 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined
writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two
poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Frosty Morning, Just Before Sunrise

pastel painting of cold snowy sunrise
pastel painting of cold snowy sunrise

“Frosty Morning, Just Before Sunrise”, 2012, 17.25″ x 9″, pastel © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It looks like this out there this morning.

The coldest, frostiest mornings always seem to come in January, right after all the warmth and color of the holiday season. I painted this just one week shy of two years ago in January 2012, standing at my window to sketch the basics but finishing from a photo, the light so fleeting, but I look at this view each day and know the details in all seasons. This morning’s hazy frosty look with the valley in shadow but the bright sky was very inspiring. I decided to finally do this sketch that I’ve been visualizing for years.

Not just the colors of a snowy, frigid morning, but the steam rising from all the chimneys were part of the inspiration. I’m not sure why, but seeing the steam rise over the neighborhoods and town on a frosty morning has always had a sense of both melancholy and security for me. As I watched the sun rise and the day grow light, photographing as it went, it seemed everyone’s furnace turned on at the same time and I knew I had to paint this scene.

The four houses across from me I’ve sketched a number of times before, but in this case I’ve also included what is Main Street in Carnegie off to the left, the little collection of square-cornered things are the buildings there with steam rising just as well.

The one element I did leave out was the row of trees in my back yard which were just featured in a dawn photo the other day. They were just too chaotic and detailed, but really when I visualized the scene I realized my visualization had left them out. There is plenty of interest here without them. You can also see a portion of this scene in a frosty photo from last year before the heavy snowfall and ice knocked down a number of trees on the left, and in another snowy scene from this same vantage point. “Snow at Night”.

This painting is done in hues of only four colors, a Prussian blue which is a cool blue tending toward slate blue, haze blue that is a warmer color with a red tint and has elements of violet, and one shade each of yellow and pink.

This was one of those times when the photograph just wasn’t going to work.

Prints of this painting

“Frosty Morning” traveled to its final home over the holidays this year, to a friend “just north of us” in Canada. I offer a variety of prints of this painting, as digital, giclee or on canvas. Visit my Etsy shop to see the options and purchasing information.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Original Art: Dusk in the Woods

pastel painting of woods in snow

“Dusk in the Woods”, pastel, 31″ x 24″, 2006 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A fitting way to send off the year, with a painting of the “blue hour”, “l‘heure bleue“, that time of transition, and though it really is a painting of the woods in snow this painting is still connected to my felines in a very deep and special way, and to many other things.

. . . . . . .

That “blue time of day”…a quick walk in the woods after a heavy snowfall as the sun set on the distant horizon, bare trees like sentinels. This time of day always carries a certain melancholy for me, as if a deep instinctive part of me realizes the sun is about to leave and may not come back, just as our ancestors did. The moment stands in all its quiet beauty along Robinson Run in Collier Township, on a trail running parallel to the Panhandle Trail, where I visit frequently for photos, art, writing and meditation.

Every once in a while I do a painting that comes straight from the heart, and there is, of course, a feline connection with this painting as well.

I wandered onto this scene one Sunday evening after a visit to my mother, who lived in a personal care home not far from the trail. Visiting my mother and visiting the trail were intertwined for a decade, and Sunday visits were often a day on the trail with a late lunch to visit and rest when done, or a visit followed by a meditative evening walk. On this day I left my visit after a quick, heavy snowfall had evenly blanketed everything, but the squall and the clouds cleared just before sunset. Instead of heading home I was drawn to the idea of a walk in the quiet after the snow. I left the main trail to wander a familiar path through the silent trees while the stream babbled along at my side.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of stream and snow.

I came to this familiar clearing with its perfect expanse of unbroken fresh snow just as the sun was disappearing behind the fringe of trees, on its way below the horizon, and I stopped. At this time, just before twilight, the last of the sun is casting direct light, but it’s also reflecting off the atmosphere creating that wonderful rich intensifying shade of blue. You can see, at the lowest point of the trees above the stream, the slight bright spot which is the sun about to set.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of sunset.

With snow, the blue of the sky is perfectly reflected, and the snow itself is bluish, and the slight misty haze among the trees from the humidity of the snowfall casts a bluish haze as well, but you can still see the gentle highlights on every branch, every rise in the snow.

But the beauty wasn’t just in the woods and trees, but in the sky above as well, that wonderful tangle of branches overhead. I studied the different branches on the sycamores and maples, how much more detail I could see the farther up I looked, each branch and twig with its own little blanket of snow.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of sky and branches.

I had only my tiny original 2MP digital camera with me, not intending to spend creative time there, and knew there was no way such a small thing that didn’t even have a zoom could catch the details of this scene, but I snapped a few photos anyway. The scene only lasted two or three minutes before the sun was completely gone and the blue snow lost its luster. I set an intention to come back to do a painting, difficult as that would be at this time of day when the light changes so quickly, but I could set up the painting and get everything in place, and be ready to catch that special light. But by noon the next day the snow had melted significantly. I waited for similar conditions through the next month and the next winter with no significant snowfall around the right time, about 5:00 p.m. in late January, or early December as the time of day, angle of the sun and quality of light would be about the same before and after the solstice.

By early February in 2006 I couldn’t wait any longer. The scene and the painting I visualized haunted my thoughts. It had to be painted, and I decided I’d have to do my best with my photos. I began with my main reference photo and a few detail shots I’d taken of the stream and tree trunks and pieced them all together.

Reference photo for Dusk in the Woods.

Reference photo for Dusk in the Woods.

You can see the difference between the reference photo and the finished work. I wanted to catch the spread of land between the stream and the bank on the right side all the way up to the slope rising on the left but still have a section of sky at the top and that wonderful unbroken snow at the bottom. I knew I wanted a fairly large painting, but wanted to keep it within the limits of standard mat and glass sizes for framing. I had no pastel drawing paper the size I needed so I prepared a piece of illustration board with several layers of pastel ground, sanding in between, and planned out the scene. I removed a section in the middle of the scene and its trees and debris in the snow, leaving enough to get the feel of the denseness of detail. I wanted the feeling of the scene, not every last detail. And I made those decisions using my own memories of scenes like this and the full force of the emotions I was experiencing at the time.

two old cats

Stanley and Moses curled together at my easel.

My precious Moses was nearing her end as I worked on this, me all through the night at my easel, her at my feet, every day losing a little more physical control as, at 19, her body just began giving out. My art helps carry me through difficult times as well as good times as I can lose myself in creating the painting and the scene itself, let go of everyday life for a bit to let the magic work itself without the assistance of my logical decisions, and returning with new observations. I needed a project as big as this to bear the process of Moses’s loss, and to maintain my strength and calm as I walked the last part of the journey with her.

I painted the basics of the painting using my photos, getting everything into proportion and perspective, working out my palette. I had developed my own technique with pastels to maintain brilliant colors like the snow when necessary and to enhance deep rich colors like all the trees to maintain their dimension; I use these same techniques in all my pastel paintings to a certain extent, and most definitely in my pastel portraits. Pastel is not entirely opaque, your eye can actually perceive layers of color and works the colors together, so I choose a complement to the apparent top color, sometimes more than one color complement. For instance, underneath all that blue snow is a layer of pale yellow, the brown and tan trees are purple.

pastel painting of woods in snow

Detail of woods.

Then I put away the photos and work from my heart as I do with all my larger paintings, portraits included. I remembered not only that day in the woods by many days all through my life in the woods. I pictured the sycamores with their mottled bark, the maples with their fringed upper branches, the soft drifting of snow as it covered all evenly. I listened in memory for the babble of the stream, and actually needed three tries before I heard it in my painting as well as in memory. And the arc of the sky over the valley, the shading from the pink and yellow of sunset to the darkening blue of dusk in the sky, most of all, I waited to feel the calming quiet of the woods, not silent because of all that lives there, but a hush. Nature knows how to rest.

The feline connection

It may not come across here, but at a larger or full size most people sense a feeling of transition and light despite the dusk, and I credit being able to capture and convey that sense to Moses and that time between us. And though I had taken the reference photo nearly exactly a year before, on January 30, 2005, I also realized this was one of the places I had been the afternoon on January 31, 2006, just a few weeks before I began this painting, when I ran through those same woods during the January thaw watching the return of life knowing the cold would soon return and wrote “Things I Found in the Woods” about Moses, and actually one of the places I stopped to write down the first notes for what would become the poem. It’s all in the painting.

"A Rosy Glow", pastel on velour paper, 10" x 10", 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski

“A Rosy Glow”, pastel on velour paper, 10″ x 10″, 1996 © BernadetteE. Kazmarski

I will always connect this painting with Moses, and those late nights when I disappeared into this scene in order to paint it from memory, and when she awoke and looked up at me with a deep and soulful expression I knew we were sharing the same figurative path.

I felt very tied to this painting on so many levels. Initially it was not for sale, then I priced it way above what I knew it would ever sell for to make sure either no one would want to buy it, or the purchaser was truly serious about it. The couple who did purchase it had been the ones who worked very hard to conserve this very spot of land, live above it at the top of the hill  and are friends of mine—I told them the price they saw was a “fake price” and we were all very happy.

“Dusk in the Woods” was the signature painting at my first annual poetry reading and fine art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, Paths I Have Walked. The theme was, literally, the paths I’ve walked all over this valley since childhood, and the inspiration they’ve given me and because much of my poetry is about literal and metaphorical paths, it is also the title of my first self-published poetry anthology.

Where to find this artwork

I sell this image as a 5″ x 7″ greeting card, and I also have a range of prints on paper and canvas, including digital prints from 8″ x 10″ to 11″ x 17″, and highest quality giclee prints up to the full size of the painting, 31″ x 24″ that are so well-done that even I have to look a little more closely to tell it’s not the original. I offer canvas prints from 16 x 12 to 32 x 24 that can be hung as is or framed like an oil painting. Please visit this post in my Etsy shop for all the possibilities. And occasionally I have the image imprinted or used in another product such as a woven cotton throw or a keepsake, so you can search my shop for “Dusk in the Woods” to see if any other products are available.

Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation purchased a framed print of “Dusk in the Woods” to hang in the room where we say goodbye to our precious animal companions, feeling it conveys that sense of transition, that darkest day of the year which, in time, will see the return of the light and the coming of new life as we heal from the grief of our loss. I have personally appreciated studying it more than a half dozen times as I say goodbye to one of my cats.

Each reproduction goes off with a bit of Moses and me.


Take a look at other featured artwork and desktop calendar posts.

Each month I feature a piece of feline artwork from the archives to the present day, discuss its history and process, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.


Click here to see daily sketches, click here to see daily photographs

click here to see other artwork featured on The Creative Cat

or visit Fine Art and Portraiture on my main website.

If you are interested in a print of this image, check my Etsy shop to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

See other winter art, landscapes, florals and other subjects

Click here to visit Fine Art and Portraiture on my main website.

Also visit my Etsy shop to see what’s available in my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery.


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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Solstice

pastel paitning of solstice
pastel painting of solstice

“Solstice”, pastel, 6″ x 6″ © B.E. Kazmarski

This painting is indeed from the Winter Solstice in 2003. As the sun began to set on a zero-degree day with a foot or more of snow the light was so beautiful that I took off in my car with my camera and art supplies. At the top of the hill the gentle pink and coral tones of the sunset melded with the blue of dusk on the field of unbroken snow at the old Christmas tree farm, one of my favorite spots. It was too cold to draw outside since I can’t wear gloves and would soon be dropping my pastels in the snow, so I positioned my car on a convenient side road and sketched this in my front seat. As it does sometimes, the sun seemed to hang in the trees just before it disappeared: solstice, “sun-stand-still”.

It’s just a little thing, 6″ x 6″, one of my favorites, especially now that the place is gone to development. It became the inspiration for an exhibit I hosted in 2004, “Winter White”.

And this painting, which I’ve always loved so much, has a wonderful home with a friend who also loves it very much.

If you are interested in a print of this painting, please contact me.

. . . . . .

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


“Winter Sunset Reflections”

"Winter Sunset Reflection", 7" x 17", pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Winter Sunset Reflection”, 7″ x 17″, pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It’s not winter yet but the trees are bare and today’s afternoon and evening sky were completely free of clouds. Just after the sun dropped below the horizon that pure blue of twilight smoothed the sky but for the glow above the horizon. I knew it was coming and hurried to my favorite place to watch the sunset, on a hill with a long view of the landscape, then traveled down to the valley to the Panhandle Trail to see this sight once again.

I painted this scene for my August exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail” during Rock the Quarry, the annual fundraiser for the Panhandle Trail.

I decided to do this painting at pretty much the last minute, though I’d been visualizing it for years. The scene is one I’ve often seen along the trail on a winter evening. This painting was done from a photo I’d taken one of those winter evenings on the trail, a clear, cold day with a cloudless sky at sunset, the sky reflected on Robinson Run. The velvety darkness of the land contrasts so completely with the brilliance of the sky and its reflection on the water and, simple as it is, it’s always been one of my favorite images.

I used black Canson charcoal/pastel paper and only painted the areas of light and finally achieved what I’d been visualizing.

PURCHASE THIS PAINTING, AND SEE MORE ART

This painting is available for sale, framed, in my Etsy shop, along with prints.

You can see other paintings from this exhibit here.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


Poem for Saturday: Clouds

pastel painting of autumn scene
pastel painting of autumn scene

“Autumn”, pastel, 12″ x 24″, 1998 © B.E. Kazmarski

Enjoying the outdoors just for the sake of it, or gardening, or creating, I find myself watching the clouds. Yesterday, a storm rolled in at sunset, the temperature has dropped from a balmy Indian Summer with sun to chilled and wet, and I watched heavy gray clouds march across the blue skies.

Clouds

Roiling clouds blown by winds
Before a summer thunderstorm,
Huge constructions in purple and blue
And lurid green tinged with coral.

The delicate lace of a fair summer day,
Puffs and wisps in white and cream
Shaded with lilac and blue
And edged in yellow.

Hazy wisps in autumn
Moving slowly from one horizon to the next,
Never amounting to much.

The heavy purple rainclouds of a late spring afternoon
Looming on the horizon
Shadowing the early wan sun
And promising a rainy night.

The approach of the first storm of winter
As flat gray clouds form in the west,
In their shadow bringing the first reminder
Of the eternal cold of year’s end.

“Autumn”, above, is one of a commissioned series of four paintings created to fit a frame a customer’s father had made by hand. Each window was 12″ x 24″ with no room for a mat, so my pastels would fit exactly into each space. Seeing where she lived and other art she had inspired the “Four Seasons” with images, not from the view from her windows but familiar from the region. This is a small creek running through the middle of an abandoned hay field, the mix of deciduous trees each in its own shade and reflected in the still water. The water reflects the sky directly above, still blue, while storm clouds rise from the horizon.

Read the rest of the poetry from my annual poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2009 entitled Change of Season

and see other autumn art in my Etsy shop.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing.

Autumn in the Valley availability

You can find a full-size giclee plus various sizes of digital prints, framed and unframed in my Etsy shop.


Poem for Saturday: Like a Tree

painting of birch trees

Birches 1: Autumn Showers, oil pastel, 22″ x 16″ © B.E. Kazmarski

Autumn has arrived as usual, and each day the colors of the season appear in new places. Here in Western Pennsylvania with our miles and miles of tree-covered hills, more brilliant reds and yellows stand among the deep olive green as if someone had stippled a single wide brush stroke here and there on the hillside, just for effect. Because I am compelled to photograph and paint these colors I know that while we see some colors even in September, the leaves don’t begin to turn in earnest, in that big wave of change, until mid-October, yet many hillsides are already halfway there. This year our warm and wet summer is said to produce a spectacular autumn leaf show.

Because I paint Western Pennsylvania, nearly every one of my landscape paintings contains a tree, usually more than one, and often the trees themselves are the subjects; I have included a slideshow of a number of paintings, below. I have gigabytes of photos of trees, just for the trees’ sake, not to mention ones where the trees are the supporting cast. The other day I ran an errand entirely on winding back roads so that I could drive 10 miles per hour and photograph the beauty unfolding at every turn, even if they weren’t particularly good photos; the change had come so quickly that I was completely distracted and it was either that or have someone drive me or I’d wreck my car.

pencil sketch of doves in bare branches

Biding Time, pencil and watercolor, 14.5″ x 20.5″ © B.E. Kazmarski

Above, “Biding Time”, a pencil drawing of the old maple tree that guards my house, with resident mourning doves. This maple has guarded this house for over 60 years, and me for the past 23. It bears the scars of storms and age, hollow to the ground, fragile now, yet it is a part of my life each moment I am here, from my bedroom first thing in the morning to the course of the day outside my office window. Drawing this, in detail, in pencil, took several weeks, working a square inch or two in an hour or so and I got to know the tree so well; the leaves are lovely, but the trunk and branches tell the true story. I added very slight watercolor washes to show the bird’s breast tarnish and the contrast of blue on the upper feathers, and the slight gather of moss on the tree branch, all to give it a bit of dimension.

I think of the trees around me as I think of my friends, those constant presences that are more a part of us than we know. They inspired this poem.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

poem © 2000 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Enjoy a slideshow of a number of my paintings including trees in all seasons and states of being, and media from pencil to acrylic paint. You can find all of these paintings, originals or prints, on my website in Landscapes and My Home Town, and in my Etsy shop. Also visit my Autumn Gallery where all my landscape originals and prints are on sale until December 21, the winter solstice.

Read the rest of the poetry from my first ever poetry reading and art show at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, in 2007 entitled Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

About Art of the Watershed and the Collected Poems

A series of seasonal images of the Lower Chartiers Watershed

“I have travelled a good deal in Concord,” said Henry David Thoreau in Walden, his paradox of exploring a small town and its surroundings teaching him as much about human life and the interactions of nature as if he had traveled rare and exotic places about the globe.

I’d love to paint faraway exotic places, but in the interests of time I stay close to home for my hiking, bicycling, canoeing, walking and painting excursions, that being the valley where the Lower Chartiers Creek flows.

I’ve seen some exquisite sights on my adventures, and committed them to various media. The most moving are the ones I’ve chosen to paint large and in detail so that I might convey at least a portion of the grandeur that moved me beyond awe to action, sharing the places right around us though most people would never see them. Thus was born the series offering an image indicative of the watershed in each season.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to fi nd my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

And visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

Visit my website to see the full set of paintings included in the “Art of the Watershed” series.


Award of Excellence for “Snowfall”

pastel paitning of snow
pastel paitning of snow

“Snowfall”, pastel, 11″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I submitted three paintings and I learned that I’d won an award in the South Hills Art League annual juried show. Above, “Snowfall”, which I’d shown in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”, won in the second highest award category, “Award of Excellence”. Of the three pieces I entered I’m surprised this one was a winner, but I like snow, so why not? The original is for sale, framed, for $250, as well as prints for $25.00 each, which I will add to my Etsy shop after the opening reception tonight along with the other two paintings.

If you are local, please join us tonight:

Opening reception Saturday, October 11, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Exhibit open Friday, October 10 through Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Galleria Of Mt. Lebanon
1500 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Below is the story behind the painting, and below that are the other two paintings I entered in the exhibit.

It isn’t always eternal summer on the trail, though memories might make us think so. Winter is my favorite season to paint. I love the subtleties of color and shape with snow in the air and on the ground, and on the trail I am often all alone with the quiet of a winter day, or a gentle snowfall.

In this case, I was glad for the time alone and quiet, and my art materials. This is from several years ago, one of the sketches I’d actually done in the front seat of my car during a late winter ice and snow storm, with a personal connection. I’d moved my mother to a personal care home in a neighborhood adjacent to the trail and often combined visits to the trail and visits to my mother. She didn’t care at all for trails, but she thought it was pretty cool when I would pull up in front of the home on my bicycle in shorts and a tank top to visit and cool off and eat my lunch on a summer afternoon when all the other daughters were in jogging suits driving minivans. Though my mother suffered from a number of heart and lung conditions she was overall well but weak, though she often suffered from mild dementia; visits could be troubling.

So it was this winter day when I had driven there. The roads were cleared but the trail was not, still, I wanted a dose of nature after my visit and knew of a spot close where I could pull up next to the trail. Not a mark was in the deeply fallen snow, and I decided I would not be the one to leave mine, it was just too perfect. The snow was falling too heavily to work outside my car, so I angled my car just right and sat in my font seat and began a sketch, then decided I should leave before the roads grew worse.

I’d always intended to finish this off, adding some bare trees fading into the distance in the heavy snowfall, but I think there was a reason I stopped at this point, and I think it captures this snowy afternoon and my conversations with my mother as it is.

. . . . . . .

A Bend in the Road (sold), prints available

pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

 The Swimming Hole, $350

pastel painting of three kids in swimming hole

“The Swimming Hole”, pastel, 17″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


My Booth Friday Night

My exhibit Friday night.

My exhibit Friday night.

Last night was a lovely night–a little warm and humid but well attended, lots of visitors, the rain held off until after we left and I’ve sold a few things already! I had wanted to share this photo on social media last night but simply could not get enough of a signal so I’m posting it here. Hopefully I’ll be able to share today–after a foggy, soggy morning has turned into blue skies with pretty puffy clouds.

Looking forward to a great day during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”. Take a look at other paintings from this exhibit.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “Winter Sunset Reflections”

"Winter Sunset Reflection", 7" x 17", pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Winter Sunset Reflection”, 7″ x 17″, pastel on black paper © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I decided to do this painting at pretty much the last minute, though I’d been visualizing it for a long time. The scene is one I’ve often seen along the trail on a winter evening. This painting was done from a photo I’d taken one of those winter evenings on the trail, a clear, cold day with a cloudless sky at sunset, the sky reflected on Robinson Run. The velvety darkness of the land contrasts so completely with the brilliance of the sky and its reflection on the water and, simple as it is, it’s always been one of my favorite images

I used black Canson charcoal/pastel paper and only painted the areas of light and finally achieved what I’d been visualizing.

You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”. Also take a look at other paintings from this exhibit.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “Spring Woods Trail”

pastel painting of a trail in the woods
pastel painting of a trail in the woods

“Spring Woods”, pastel, 8″ x 12″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The decision was: do I paint this steep section of the trail looking up from the bottom, over the tops of all the new plants sprouting from the leaves and debris and up into the tree tops, or down from near the top, with little bits of Robinson Run far down off of the edge?

In the end I liked the downhill view better for its perspective and the fact you could see the trail at your feet, plus, with many trees at eye level, you could see so much more of that wonderful spring green.

I’d considered this one so long that I’ve only just painted it, though I took the photos a few years ago. I’d actually planned it as an acrylic painting, seeing all the potential for gentle textures on the surface, but when it came down to it I returned to my old friend, pastels, and did a lot of finger painting.

You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”. Also take a look at other paintings from this exhibit.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “Colorful Autumn Trail”

pastel painting autumn trail
pastel painting autumn trail

“Colorful Autumn Trail”, pastel, 8″ x 10″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Here is one for the season upcoming. This painting doesn’t have as big of a story as others, but I will say it’s hard to paint along the trail in autumn—or anywhere else for that matter. The overwhelming colors, especially on a sunny day, have me running from place to place looking for the best spot to paint until the narrow window of good sunlight on an autumn day is past, so I end up working in my studio.

I like to capture the tree-covered hills and water and sky and just plain nature in most paintings because the trail itself isn’t a very interesting feature, being just a flat limestone chip path. But in this case, in autumn, it provides a break in the riot of color and also an area to feature those long blue shadows of the trees themselves. That’s really why I chose this scene when I came home with a head full of colors and shapes. But after organizing the art for this exhibit and realizing how few autumn sketches I have, I have given myself an assignment for this autumn.

You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “Snowfall”

pastel painting of snow on trail

“Snowfall”, pastel, 11″ x 7″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It isn’t always eternal summer on the trail, though memories might make us think so. Winter is my favorite season to paint. I love the subtleties of color and shape with snow in the air and on the ground, and on the trail I am often all alone with the quiet of a winter day, or a gentle snowfall.

In this case, I was glad for the time alone and quiet, and my art materials. This is from several years ago, one of the sketches I’d actually done in the front seat of my car during a late winter ice and snow storm, with a personal connection. I’d moved my mother to a personal care home in a neighborhood adjacent to the trail and often combined visits to the trail and visits to my mother. She didn’t care at all for trails, but she thought it was pretty cool when I would pull up in front of the home on my bicycle in shorts and a tank top to visit and cool off and eat my lunch on a summer afternoon when all the other daughters were in jogging suits driving minivans. Though my mother suffered from a number of heart and lung conditions she was overall well but weak, though she often suffered from mild dementia; visits could be troubling.

So it was this winter day when I had driven there. The roads were cleared but the trail was not, still, I wanted a dose of nature after my visit and knew of a spot close where I could pull up next to the trail. Not a mark was in the deeply fallen snow, and I decided I would not be the one to leave mine, it was just too perfect. The snow was falling too heavily to work outside my car, so I angled my car just right and sat in my font seat and began a sketch, then decided I should leave before the roads grew worse.

I’d always intended to finish this off, adding some bare trees fading into the distance in the heavy snowfall, but I think there was a reason I stopped at this point, and I think it captures this snowy afternoon and my conversations with my mother as it is.

You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

 

There’s still some of summer left, so jump in and have a splash! And I hope to see you this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “The Swimming Hole”

pastel painting of three kids in swimming hole
pastel painting of three kids in swimming hole

“The Swimming Hole”, pastel, 17″ x 8″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This is another of the images from the Panhandle Trail I’d wanted to paint for quite some time–or should I say, I wanted to finish for quite some time. It’s a few kids in a nice deep pool in Robinson Run along the Panhandle Trail. You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

This painting was actually visualized during one of the visits with my great nieces and nephews and I knew I’d have to paint it, but this one came about in bits and pieces, and I’ll say it evolved over a period of years. I took a photo during one visit in 2010, but that wasn’t enough information when I decided I wanted to catch the whole scene, not just the kids in the water so I went back to the spot and took more photos on my own, but no one was in the water and it just wasn’t right.

On another visit in 2011 I took lots of reference photos from different angles and even did a small pencil sketch, then individual photos of them in the water, knowing I could never get out my pastels and paint them right there. In my studio the following year I lined up my photos and visualized something pretty close to this but couldn’t get a feel for it from just the photos, so I took my pastels to the trail the next summer, 2013, and laid down the basics of this sketch while there, trying to capture the colors and light and positioning of everything. I didn’t have all the colors with me which I needed and I knew I’d be working on it in my studio to add the kids in the water so I knew I wouldn’t be finishing it right then. I set the sketch in my holding area for more work, and there it sat.

Until, honestly, last week. Though I’d been intending to get back to it over last winter, thinking of the joy of revisiting a hot summer afternoon in the swimming hole in the middle of a cold and icy winter, I just never did. Even when I decided to do this exhibit and pulled it out, I still just couldn’t visualize everything. I pulled out the sketch and the photos of the kids in the water, and it just wouldn’t come together. Something was missing. One sunny afternoon passing by the trailhead I just decided to go there, parked my car, took off my shoes and walked off to this area in my “work clothes” as I’d been meeting with a client, held my skirts up above the water and waded as far as I could. A few more photos and I was ready.

I got home and planned where in the water the kids would go, made a composite from one of the original photos, added the kids into it in Photoshop according to what I was visualizing, and finally, after four years, finished this painting! And as it ended up the “three kids” were based on my one nephew who just happened to be in the right spot in the water at the right time.

I love painting water, and never give myself enough of a chance to paint it. I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on all the details in the water as well as the direct and reflected light and the colorful shadows on the kids, the way the mid-day sun fell on the water, alighting the top layer of the brush and just touching leaves in the trees with brilliant highlights and creating deep shadows underneath. It’s part of what I think of when I think of summer.

Like the rope swing, how did we kids live through our childhoods jumping into a deep pool of water in a creek off in the woods? For me, unless the water smelled really bad or it was filled with something I didn’t want to touch, I was in it. Water is irresistible to me—if there is water, I at least have my feet in it, if that’s at all possible, and even when it rains I’m out in it for a bit, or standing in the gutter along the street in front of my house letting the rain water run over my feet. I think most kids are like that, and while there are dangers in places like swimming holes, avoiding dangers is not always the best way to deal with them. Instead, learning how to safely use the swimming hole can help teach a life lesson about observation, caution, and when to let go and enjoy things that aren’t manufactured for our use. That’s one of the joys, and lessons, of nature.

There’s still some of summer left, so jump in and have a splash! And I hope to see you this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


New Painting: “The Rope Swing”

"The Rope Swing", pastel 14" x 20"

“The Rope Swing”, pastel 14″ x 20″

Earlier this year when I imagined organizing an exhibit of landscapes I’d on sketched and painted on, and of, the Panhandle Trail, this image was the principal image I envisioned and has become my symbol for this exhibit, much as I love some of the others in the collection.You can see it along with others this Friday and Saturday during Rock the Quarry in my exhibit “Sun Shadow Ice & Snow: Seasons of the Panhandle Trail”.

I hadn’t done this painting yet, but for years I’d planned a painting of this iconic rope swing, which everyone who’d grown up in the area knew about, and for all the years I’d considered having an exhibit like this, on the trail, as part of the annual event, the decision to finally paint this also made me decide this was the year to do it. I usually volunteer a few hours in the kitchen and walk around to take photos, and this will be really fun.

How did we kids live through our childhoods with things like rope swings available to us? I was thrilled to find a rope swing the first time I went exploring off the trail years ago and took a few swings on it myself just for fun, and when my great nieces and nephews came to visit from Savannah, a visit to the trail and the rope swing were tops on the list. Here are a few photos of them on the trail and swinging on the swing.

I pictured this painting to be in high summer, when the sun is bright and hot and the woods are dark and cool, and just coming upon the tree and the swing, the stream running past, standing in the deep darkness underneath looking at the lacy sunlight on the leaves of the tree and lacy shadows on the packed dirt beneath it and the swing itself silhouetted against the brightness beyond, in that moment when the potential is there, just before you decide to go for it.

The spot where this swing hangs is also one of my favorite places off the trail, and I visit there each time I use the trail, in all seasons—in mid-summer to have a dip into Robinson Run where there’s a nice pool there with water that’s always cool, and in winter to see the stream in winter, covered with ice and snow piled in the woods.

So there it is, the old rope swing, waiting for you off in the woods. Go and have an adventure!

. . . . . . .

If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


“A Bend in the Road” original pastel, sold, and prints

pastel painting of woods on back road
pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’m so pleased I’ve sold this painting, actually before it was even finished to a visitor to my home. I will be making prints of it  to include in my Garden Party Summer Art Exhibit. Thanks so much, my friend! I love it when my paintings go to loving homes.

. . . . . . .

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

Then I saw this spot and hit the brakes, gasping with awe at the complicated beauty of nature, the shapes and colors, the sun and shadow, the straight-up height of the trees along the road, arching far overhead, the road bending ahead as if you were to enter a magical place. I knew I should have carried my art materials! There was no one but me on this road so I took a few photos through my windshield, then put the car in park, shut off the engine with flashers flashing and stood in the middle of the road to take photos, barefoot and listening, smelling, feeling, taking in as much of the spot as I could to remember. The light would change significantly if I were to run home and come back, the moment gone. I also knew I’d see a few other special places today, and vowed if the time came I would return and paint en plein air, but if I could not I would remember it all when I used the photos for a painting.

Often I wait years to do a painting, but in front of everything I’ve worked on for the past month has been this spot and the painting I had visualized, and something a little larger than what I’d been doing lately. Weekends were rainy, so I decided to start from a photo, then finish from memory and referencing the trees outside my windows for the closer details.

This painting is 14″ x 22″ and painted in pastel, mostly Sennelier but also a few Rembrandts and a few others I have on hand for special greens, on 2-ply acid-free natural illustration board. The illustration board with no added finish was an experiment—I am accustomed to working on Wallis sanded pastel, but that’s been difficult to find, and I want to be able to do sketches and paintings on other surfaces. I’m a little disappointed as I couldn’t layer and blend as usual, but really, no one knows that but me to look at it.

Click any image to find out more about it or visit my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery. If you’d like to sign up to receive this e-newsletter, which I usually deliver seasonally, click here to add your e-mail address.

See other original art and landscapes on “Today”

Click here to see an archive of original art.

Inspire-Me-Monday-Button-1502 This art is also featured for Inspire Me Monday.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


A Bend in the Road

pastel painting of woods on back road
pastel painting of woods on back road

“A Bend in the Road”, pastel, 14″ x 22″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Back in early June, on a lovely sunny day just about noon, I was leaving a morning event and on errands traveling the back roads just for fun, knowing this narrow back road had some wonderful spots. The trees had finally reached full cover in the woods and all along the trails and I simply could not get enough.

Then I saw this spot and hit the brakes, gasping with awe at the complicated beauty of nature, the shapes and colors, the sun and shadow, the straight-up height of the trees along the road, arching far overhead, the road bending ahead as if you were to enter a magical place. I knew I should have carried my art materials! There was no one but me on this road so I took a few photos through my windshield, then put the car in park, shut off the engine with flashers flashing and stood in the middle of the road to take photos, barefoot and listening, smelling, feeling, taking in as much of the spot as I could to remember. The light would change significantly if I were to run home and come back, the moment gone. I also knew I’d see a few other special places today, and vowed if the time came I would return and paint en plein air, but if I could not I would remember it all when I used the photos for a painting.

Often I wait years to do a painting, but in front of everything I’ve worked on for the past month has been this spot and the painting I had visualized, and something a little larger than what I’d been doing lately. Weekends were rainy, so I decided to start from a photo, then finish from memory and referencing the trees outside my windows for the closer details.

This painting is 14″ x 22″ and painted in pastel, mostly Sennelier but also a few Rembrandts and a few others I have on hand for special greens, on 2-ply acid-free natural illustration board. The illustration board with no added finish was an experiment—I am accustomed to working on Wallis sanded pastel, but that’s been difficult to find, and I want to be able to do sketches and paintings on other surfaces. I’m a little disappointed as I couldn’t layer and blend as usual, but really, no one knows that but me to look at it.

Click any image to find out more about it or visit my Landscapes and Still Lifes Gallery. If you’d like to sign up to receive this e-newsletter, which I usually deliver seasonally, click here to add your e-mail address.

See other original art and landscapes on “Today”

Click here to see an archive of original art.

Inspire-Me-Monday-Button-1502 This art is also featured for Inspire Me Monday.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.