Introducing Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717)

Maria Sibylla Merian is considered to be one of the greatest botanical artist. Check the dates in the title...a woman artist, considered exceptional in her lifetime is a very big deal.  She was encouraged to pursue art by her stepfather! There is a great deal of information out there about her so I won't go into detail. However, I urge you to read up on her Maria was way ahead of her time in many ways. She married, had two daughters, divorced and eventually moved to a commune that practiced celibacy raised her daughters. All the while she taught, wrote books, published 3 collections of engravings of her work. Then in 1699 when she was 52 the government of Amsterdam funded an extensive trip for Maria and her daughter to go to Suriname in order paint the flora and fauna. Two years later she returned to Amsterdam and published a collection of engravings of the work she did there. Here's how I came to know about Maria...


Many years ago I took a great trip to Holland at tulip time. I was with a tour and one day we had a choice to explore on our own or go see a diamond place. I did some research and found out Rembrandt's house was very near the diamond place. I had to see Rembrandt's house and studio diamonds didn't interest me at all. It was a major thrill to see Rembrandt's home and studio, where he painted, slept, cooked his meals or more likely someone cooked for him. Then I went to the museum attached to his house to see the exhibit of Maria Sibylla Merian's work - I had never heard of her. I'm not one for reading wall text, I headed straight to the images and thought I was looking at contemporary work! All the paintings were watercolors on velum the colors were bright, detail was crisp and fantastic. At one point a label caught my could not be true...the work was all from the late 1600's into 1700's! It looked like it was done recently and how could watercolor hold up like that for 300+ years!  Now I zoomed over to the wall label. After seeing the exhibit I needed to learn more about her and I did, all of it amazing for a woman 300 years ago. I bought a book about her life and highly recommend it "Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis" by Kim Todd.  

Above and below are some of the paintings I saw in the exhibit. I hope you get to see them in person one day, they are exceptional.

1700 Merian Insects of Surinam.jpg

Night paintings

I often wake up at night and look out the windows in hopes to see some deer, bear or other wildlife. In the meantime I became enchanted with how the moon shone on buildings or the slice of brightness from a porch or street light. Ironically I've seen bear when it walked right by me one night at about 9 pm. It was a gorgeous September night and I was enjoying a nice big glass of wine when bear walked across the lawn. Needless to say I needed another glass of wine after that! One morning, uncharacteristically early for me I was out front having my morning coffee and 3 deer came galloping up the road, across my front lawn and into the woods. So far I haven't seen anything in the middle of the night but good ideas for paintings which is just fine.

Slow re-entry....

A long time ago after I left art school talking with a woman sculptor who had to set aside her work for a while due to some family issues. She wasn't sure when she would get back to making art again. Her family issues were significant so I understood to a point but inside I was wondering how the heck she could just walk away from her work. Couldn't she squeeze in and hour or two a day?  She smiled and said sometimes life gets in the way and other things are far more important. Today I remembered that conversation from so long ago and understood.

Today was the first day I picked up a paint brush in many many months. Sometimes you can't paint because something so huge is looming it takes away all energy and focus. This summer my brother was diagnosed with lung and bone cancer, a particularly ferocious kind that took him away from us in 3 months. I talked to him every day, we talked possibilities and cures and amazement at HOW could this happen so fast. He was in excruciating pain and sometimes on the phone I just listened to him cry and to his frustration. After some of our more difficult phone calls I thought making art might help but I couldn't even step into the studio. All my thoughts were for him and the others I've recently lost (it's been a tragic 3 years) I had nothing emotionally or physically left for painting. Originally I was going to go home to help him with cleaning, laundry, PT but instead I went home to help his amazing kids hospice him. They did all the heavy work, I filled in the gaps and it was so gratifying to do something as simple as feeding him or giving him felt like a blessed moment. For a mere week and a half one or more of us were with him 24/7.  Often he and I would be alone and have very rich talks about what was going on and what was to come.  It was the most beautiful and painful of times. 

He's been gone to where ever we all go eventually for a month. I get all teary at those times of the day when I would call him because I think "hey I'll call Bill" then realize  I can't so I talk to him in my head. I kept waiting to "feel" like painting again and was propelled into it after reading an excellent piece about motivation by Orzan Verol

"Once you start painting that empty canvas, once you start writing that proposal, once you start moving those levers, it will get much easier to keep going.

Action precedes motivation."

Picking up that paintbrush this morning felt like trying to lift a caber. Maybe the painting will work out, maybe not but it's a step.  


Welcome to my new website!  I've been wanting to showcase more of my work.  Most of paintings you will see have been done in the last 4 years since I moved to the Berkshires. I came here from 35+ years in Boston and while Boston was very good for me I do not like living in a city. I'm a country gal by heart. I love being around farms as much as I love being in the forest and the Berkshires has it all.  

Plus I am solitary by nature and need a lot of space both physical and mental in order to make paintings.  

It has often been said that it looks like several people painted my work. The style and technique varies according to what I'm painting. If you look closely though you will see connections that tie it all together. I don't paint what I see so much as I paint how what I see FEELS.