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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.

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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 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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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.

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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.


From the Ground Up

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 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 that I see out my back windows all the time. What a great view, all those colors and shapes and little bits of sky, I guess I’ll sketch it. So here it is.

This is sketched in mixed soft pastels on multi-media paper, just enough tooth to hold pastel but no real finish.

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.

. . . . . . .

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.


Sketch: The Bench in Spring

pastel painting of bench in spring trees
pastel painting of bench in spring trees

“The Bench in Spring”, pastel, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I’ve been trying to scan this painting for two days and I still didn’t capture the range of greens very well and the sky is a little odd, but overall it is what it is. It’s another street sketch that I began outdoors and finished at home from a photo. This is one of the benches leading up the hill to Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, a view I see frequently in all seasons. The trees were just perfect this day, all just leafing out and so full of so many different shades of green. Already today they are darker green and denser.

In the meantime the row of trees to my right cast a deep shadow on the street which contrasted nicely with the lacy nature of the trees above.

I’ve been scurrying around trying to get a few spring sketches in while the leaves are still so colorful—it really only lasts a week, at most.

This is sketched in mixed soft pastels on multi-media paper, just enough tooth to hold pastel but no real finish.

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.

. . . . . . .

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.

 

 


Sketch: Spring Sidewalk

pastel sketch of trees and shadows on sidewalks
pastel sketch of trees and shadows on sidewalks

“Spring Sidewalk”, pastel, 6.5″ x 9.5″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Suddenly, it’s spring, and most days are really sunny! After this winter it’s totally captivating, and distracting. I can’t go anywhere without seeing possible paintings. Like this one, which I photographed as I didn’t have my sketching materials with me because, for the past couple of months, there hasn’t been anything I wanted to sketch, really. I’ll have to pick up the bag when I leave the house, along with my camera…so much to carry.

In part it was the loveliness of the row of trees, but it was also the deep shadows contrasted with the brilliant sunlight, the vivid green grass and young green leaves. It’s just a simple walk down a sidewalk, changing each minute of the day, and each day of spring, but still so special.

This is sketched in mixed soft pastels on multi-media paper, just enough tooth to hold pastel but no real finish.

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.

. . . . . . .

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.

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This sketch is part of:

 


Sketch: Lilacs and Laundry

pastel painting of laundry
pastel painting of laundry

“Lilacs and Laundry”, pastel, 9″ x 12″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This year I have only five lilac clusters between both of my huge older lilacs. I’ll miss their sight and scent for the next few weeks! But last year this is what it looked like—my yard was much farther along in blooming last year—and the combination of “lilacs and laundry” inspired me to take part of an afternoon for a painting!

What got me in trouble today when I should have gotten some work done inside was how cute my laundry looked with the lilac blooming about it. I have a thing for laundry in paintings, so I decided to take some time to do a little sketch. I use my limited set of pastels outdoors so I don’t lose or damage the “good ones”, so I need to touch it up with some other colors and finish off the edges.

The lilac has never bloomed this much—after about 15 years it’s finally come into its prime. The red specks in the back are the first roses on my red climber that swings over the gate, the pink flowers on the chair and on the ground are the first geraniums blooming after I’ve brought them out of their winter home in the basement. The short blue is forget-me-nots, the tall is a flowering bulb called Camassia given to me as a gift years ago, still blooming reliable each spring.

Here’s the uncropped version of the sketch, and the framed version is below—it’s for sale in my Etsy shop.

pastel painting of laundry and flowers

“Laundry and Lilacs”, uncropped.

And look—there must have been an artist in my yard!

Pastels and paper in grass and flowers

An artist was in my yard!

I matted and framed this painting and it’s for sale in my Etsy shop—click here to go to that post.

framed pastel painting

“Lilacs and Laundry” framed.

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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.


April Cloud Study

original pastel painting of clouds
pastel painting of clouds

“April Cloud Study”, pastel, 9.5″ x 10″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A very overcast morning cleared up and turned into a lovely spring afternoon—and it looks like this!

Once the weather turns warm and sunny the world begins coloring up nicely, and so it did one April afternoon. I decided to take some time to paint the clouds, literally and figuratively, standing out in my back yard with my pastel for about ten minutes—and by that time the skies were completely different.

Below is the framed version. I used a scrap of sanded pastel paper and it was cut unevenly, so there is a little bit along the left trimmed off that I liked. Well, that’s the way it goes.
The mats are 1.5″, white on white, with a little bit of a channel behind them so the pastel will fall behind the mat instead of on the mat. The frame is 12″ x 12″ and I was so inspired by the colors that I refinished it to coordinate with the painting in shades of blue green and lilac from the painting and a white crackle finish overall. You can find this painting in my Etsy shop.

original pastel painting of clouds

“April Cloud Study”, original pastel, 9″ x 9″, 2013

And there are many more! 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.

. . . . . . .

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.


“Spring Morning Leaves” original pastel

pastel sketch of leafy trees
pastel sketch of leafy trees

“Spring Morning Leaves”, pastel, 9″ x 12″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

It looks like I’m in the deep woods, but it’s just the line of trees between our back yards; it all depends on the angle you look at it.

When I looked out my kitchen window this morning, above is what I saw. I couldn’t paint it because the light was changing fast at that early hour, so I photographed it and worked on it a little later. I wanted to keep it leafy with a lot of movement, so I used all my pastels on their sides.

This is painted on Colourfix sanded pastel paper with a variety of brands of pastels.

original framed pastel

“Spring Morning Leaves”, framed.

Buy this artwork

This pastel is for sale, framed, in my Etsy shop. There is no mat but the white wooden frame has a 1″ linen liner. Frame is 9″ x 12″.

Click here to see this painting in my Etsy shop.

 

See other original art and landscapes on “Today”

Click here to see an archive of original art.

. . . . . . .

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


Spring Grass, original sketch

original art original pastel "Spring Grass", pastel on multi-media paper, 7" x 10" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
original art original pastel "Spring Grass", pastel on multi-media paper, 7" x 10" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Spring Grass”, pastel on multi-media paper, 7″ x 10″ © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

All the sun on all this green stuff is just too much! But it was the lush grass that became one of this spring’s first outdoor sketches. I actually painted this from a photo, taken the same day as I photographed the dandelions with the honey bee. This photo stayed in my mind for its simplicity but bold patterns and color, but I was feeling my pastels instead of a photo post. After a few days working out in my garden and filling my eyes with green I thought I’d paint this one after all, and sooner rather than later.

It’s painted in mixed brand pastels on white multimedia paper. Below is the uncropped version of the painting; sometimes I like the rough edges.

original art original pastel "Spring Grass", pastel on multi-media paper, 7" x 10" © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The uncropped version of “Spring Grass”

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For the original or a print of this sketch, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

This was first posted on The Creative Cat where I post original daily sketches of my cats each day.