We presume all people to be rational; they aren’t.  People are complicated.  We each have multiple selves which emerge or don’t depending on context.

As a child I was busy collecting a glass slipper, a red riding hood cape and muddy boots and birdseed, hoping Superman showed up to rescue me from the wicked witch’s cottage in the woods.  From childhood we expect rescuers from the forest of thorns.

As a quiet only child I consumed fairy tales like self-help books.  What steps I should take, which door could be opened.  The power of their magical answers led me to art.  Buried deep in fairy tales lies the long-shot promise that we can find our way out of the forest again.

Dakota, age 3


Do people still lie on their backs and watch the cloud patterns as they slowly move across the sky?  If not, they miss some of the most diverse patterns available to us.  By just using our creativity to imagine what they might represent can add to the pleasure of a delightful summer afternoon.  To me, piles of large, white fluffy ones are great bowls of mashed potatoes.  All the other types take on their own identities in turn.

But patterns are all around us.  Watch the swirling patterns of water, ever changing, both in color and speed.  They are by nature, rounded shapes, and cooling,  while blazing tongues of fire in a fireplace or pit can be  spiked and somewhat intinidating, and of course hot.

The patterns of leaves on the ground, especially when a wispy, slightly agitated breeze drifts through, can be mesmerizing.  I have done many paintings simply from those patterns, which always remind me of the day and the feeling  I had when I painted them.
Though I could not acquire them, the patterns of the old Roman roads remain in my head.

Rocks and shells are loaded with patterns.  Wherever you happen to be in the world, mountains, by the sea, or in your own backyard, rocks and shells inspire you.  I have gathered them both from wherever I have been, and again, they evoke memory.

Feathers are my “thing”, and dear friends collect and send them to me to enclose in notes I send.  Others have gifted me with feather jewelry which I dearly love.  I am not a birder,  I don’t really know much about different types of birds, but if I am stumped, my wildlife biologist grandson can always help me out!  Maybe someday  I will explore that more thoroughly.  Meanwhile, the patterns on each different feather are  fascinating.

Hey, it’s a lovely summer day.  Go lie on your backs and count clouds!


Taos stands resplendent in the late afternoon sun, magnificent against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains.  Taos is the jewel in the crown of the 19 New Mexican Pueblos, unchanged throughout the centuries, despite the influx of visitors who come to marvel at the three- story architecture still inhabited by this proud people.  The tourist town of Taos and the Pueblo village of Taos are separate places, and no where is this more apparent than in the peace and quiet of a sleepy summer afternoon, with a few wispy white clouds drifting around the mountain, and the buildings painted hues of pink or yellow with deep purple shadows,  all accomplished with a solar paintbrush.  It is the most highly photographed of all the villages, and the camera fee has increased throughout the years.  In the 1960’s it was $5, but a number of years ago when Dr. Advice and I were there, it had grown to $15.  There are restricted places where visitors may not enter or photograph, and  of course, common courtesy demands that permission must be obtained before photographing the people, and a fee tendered, whatever the going rate.

During the summer, my Laguna/Isleta friend and I visited many of the villages, sometimes to renew longtime friendships of Georgia’s, and sometimes to attend a seasonal celebratory dance.  All villages do not welcome outside guests, and those which do, expect that strict rules of decorum be observed.  This includes no cameras, no unnecessary talking during the performance, and to my great shame, no quick drawings of the dancers!  I was unaware of doing anything wrong, until I heard Georgia’s whisper not to look up.  Keeping my head down I saw two moccasined feet directly in front of me, and heard Georgia say that I was writing a letter home.   I guiltily looked up into an old and angry hawk-nosed face, deeply tanned and wrinkled, with not an ounce of compassion or forgiveness.  I smiled weakly and quickly looked back at the dancers.  After an abnormal length of time, the old man moved on to try and find any other miscreants.  I realized that the best sketchbook is frequently in your head, and a lot safer too!

As the summer drew to a close, we spent a lot of time in Santa Fe, which was not completely taken over by the tourists yet, and was beginning to develop a thriving gallery business on Canyon Road.  I entertained highly unrealistic dreams of living there, being quite sure that Dr. Advice would thoroughly enjoy running a gallery while I spent my time painting and sculpting off in the hills somewhere.  Alas! he did not agree, but did agree that we would make an annual pilgrimage, which we did, if not annually, at least frequently, for 40 years.

In the week before we departed for home, there were many bread bakings, stewed chile feasts,  and much laughter.  On one such evening, more women seemed to be dressed in traditional clothing, and there was lots of giggling and whispers as if a secret were there trying to escape.  I became aware that I was the object of their mirth when they scooped me up and announced their intention of bestowing a new name on me.  I was overwhelmed and waited breathlessly to know what it was to be.  The governor of the village approached and said a few words in their Tiwa language, and then asked Georgia to come forward.  She said that after much discussion, she had suggested the name of “Pacho Fa” which means “Three Feathers” denoting the three paths my life takes of family, friends and Art.  It was a special moment for me climaxing a long visit which began as strangers wary of one another, and ended with being a part of an ancient civilization which had embraced me and honored me as “one of their own”.

May we all walk in balance. Aho    

Taos In Winter