You never know where your art will take you…….

Last winter I was approached by a co-worker’s wife to do a commission.  She brought me a photo she had taken in the 60’s of a little Greek girl she took a picture of when she and her husband visited the island of Santorini.  I had never heard of or been to the island, or Greece, for that matter.

I looked up the island, and got a feel for the place, basking in the warm sun while breathing the fresh sea air…..what a great place to concentrate on during the dark winter months here at home!




  1. Santorini
    Island in the Aegean Sea
  2. Santorini, one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea, was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century B.C.E., forever shaping its rugged landscape and villages. The whitewashed, cubist houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the clear Aegean and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
  3. Area: 35.12 mi²
  4. Max length: 11.18 miles
  5. Max width: 7.456 miles
  6. Administrative region: South Aegean                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Interesting, the whole island isn’t much bigger than Crystal Lake!  Armed with all this information, I immersed myself into “my art visit” of Santorini!

          I began on tan sanded paper, and blocked in my shapes in pastel.

    Blocking in shapes

    Blocking in shapes

    Over the course of the next week, I slowly built up the contours and colors of the face.  Now I am ready to start to work on the hands and the daisy, and finally the background.


    Nor for the hands and background

    I wasn’t too thrilled with the one in the picture, so I called on sunny Santorini once again to guide me.


    “Santorini Daisy” in pastel

    She was thrilled with the commission and couldn’t even wait for the occasion to give it to her husband!

    Hope you enjoyed our brief “trip via art” to Santorini!    Julie



February came and we were waiting for a baby boy. The annual trip to Florida was postponed a bit this year.




















Greeting William Taylor Deiss on his second day.










In Florida at last, enjoying lovely mornings with sun and no snow!













Dawn, and clam boats head out.


From beautiful reflections on the bayou, to feeding the wild gulls from the balcony, we so appreciated the warmth of Florida, compared to the Michigan winter.


April and home again — and how Will has grown!


I’m just keeping it warm for baby . . .


Happy baby, happy Mama.


Four generations celebrate an April birthday.


Where am I going? The high rooks call: “It’s awful fun to be born at all.” Where am I going? The ring-doves coo: “We do have beautiful things to do.” – A.A. Milne

"Two Dinghy's Waiting....."

“Two Dinghy’s Waiting…..”

Happy Holidays and many Happy Returns in the New Year!  Here is the Christmas card I sent out this year, although time took it’s toll, and I got about half-way through the list.  So goes the season!

Our family has a tradition, every two or three years, to make old-world fruitcake.  The recipe was handed down by my Italian grandmother, who got it from her German neighbor.  We make it around Thanksgiving so we can “anoint” it, wrapping it in bourbon or rum-soaked cheesecloth, and putting up in a plastic bag in the cellar-way so it can soak up the anointment.  It will last for several months, possibly years, you just need to re-anoint it every so often.  Grandma mailed it to Dad in the service during the Korean conflict, and he hid it under his bunk, unwrapping it and stealing a slice every time he wanted to remember the comforts of home.

We gathered in my kitchen this year the eve of Thanksgiving.  It takes every bread pan we can muster for this large batch.  We use dried, not candied fruit.  The walnuts have to be broken, not chopped, according to Grandma Bowman.  She was with us until age 96, and somehow I feel her watching and laughing at us as we keep her traditions.IMG_20141126_193916821







All hand on deck for chopping, braking and cracking of eggs.

Two dinghy's waiting...... Fixit can’t understand why no one is dropping anything on the floor.

IMG_20141126_193753025The eggs, butter, and brown sugar are creamed together, and the expectant mother gets the honors of licking the bowl!


A very tricky and tedious lining of the pans keeps Carol and the father-to-be busy in preparation


And now comes the mixing of all ingredients.  Grandma would recruit my dad and a friend to stir the rather dry concoction, one to hold the pan, one to stir. Over the years we have lost a few wooden spoons that broke under the strain! She would add what seemed about a half a cup of orange juice.  While her back was turned, dad and friend would dump enough of the beer they were drinking to make it actually stir-able.  This has been carried on by the next generations, in memory of Dad….


Baked at a low temperature for 2-3 hours, then anointed a couple of times before Christmas.  MMM………shared memories and old-world goodness for the holidays20141226_140748Here is the recipe, in case you want to start your own tradition.

1.5 lbs real butter

3 lbs. dark brown sugar

6 lbs. various dried fruit, cut up

2 lbs. walnuts, broken

10 cups sifted flour

2.5 teas. baking powder

1.5 teas. baking soda

3 teas. allspice

3 teas. cinnamon

2 teas. mace

1.5 teas. nutmeg

10 eggs

2.5 teas. almond ext., optional

Fruit juice enough to make a stiff mixture

Bake at 300 degrees for 2-3 hours, check with toothpick.

Wrap cooled cakes (usually the next morning) in cheesecloth soaked in brandy or bourbon or spiced rum.  Check after a couple of weeks to see if cloth needs to be re-soaked.


Warmest wishes in the New Year!      Julie


"Early Morning Ripples" 30x30 Oil on Canvas

“Early Morning Ripples” 30×30 Oil on Canvas


“Carol’s Warm Respite” Pastel – also in show

I am very excited as I have had 2 entries accepted this year!  They will be on display starting Sept. 5 through Oct. 4th, artist reception Friday, Sept. 5th, 5-7pm.










It has been a CRAZY summer real estate-wise, and not much time for painting…….I did get this plein air pastel out during apple blossom  time at The Old Red Schoolhouse, a B & B on Mick Rd. near Upper Herring Lake.

"Apple Blossom Time at Old Red Schoolhouse" pastel on paper

“Apple Blossom Time at Old Red Schoolhouse” pastel on paper

Hope I see you Friday!


P.S.  Carol was afraid to look at her email to see if she had been rejected………and of course she wasn’t, silly goose!  So both Bowman Girls will be on display in the annual Juried Art Show!

Here is her painting – come see us!

Carol's Sheep


Carol has been very busy of late painting for the Beulah Art Show!


Inspired by seasonal flowers and scenes around her, she has worked feverishly!


So come see her at her usual spot by the pavilion, 10-4:30.


See you there!

After a very dreary winter, a sunny, 45 degree day enticed me outdoors for my walk.  I noted for the first time this year the grass was actually turning green!20140501_120614  As I rounded the curve, a sharp, cutting wind snapped me out of my spring fever dream-state.  “When will this exceedingly long winter ever end!!!!

Mother Nature answers my anguished state….“I promise, spring is coming!” 

“It doesn’t seem so!” I answer as I zip up my coat, and don my gloves again.  She replies...” I did go a little overboard this year, maybe, but you know your winters repeat a twenty or so year cycle, and that cycle has come around again.  I must keep up appearances!  I am raising the levels of the lakes, returning gradually to a more average level.  Spring is coming!”


As I get to the bottom of the hill, I see a splash of sunshine down in the ditch, and daffodils nod their heads in approval…“spring is coming!”

I am gaining speed, and getting into a good pace as Betsie Bay comes into view, bright blue reflecting the sunny day.20140501_121342

I reach the Elberta bridge and my walking sound changes to a clopping as my feet meet the wooden planks.  20140501_121351 (2)

I cross the road by the Elberta marina and start to curve around to the delta swamp area surrounding the Betsie River.  If you look closely, you can see the swans in the background.



The cattails and rushes are beaten flat by the winter feet of snow.  The swamp looks cold and unawakened by spring.20140501_121836  “Are you there, Mother Nature?”

“Yes, here is a sign or two to calm your worries.  Spring is coming, I promise”

A pussy willow waves at me in the breeze, silhouetted by the sunlight, all aglow.20140501_121605

Mrs. Red-wing Blackbird chortles her song in the sunny breeze.  “Spring is coming!”20140501_122112

I am starting to be convinced that spring may actually be coming, although the harsh winds keep reminding me it isn’t here yet.  “Thank goodness there is no more snow!”

“Some folks actually were begging for snow early in the winter.  The skiers and snowmobilers.  I may have gone overboard, it was a little hard to slow down after I got good and into my snow-making mode!”

The Betsie River is in view, and is magnificent in its shades of deep blue.20140501_122241 a

Diving ducks are enjoying the open water after it shed its overcoat of ice.  A couple of geese take a break, and rest in the rushes.20140501_122358

A familiar scene comes into view, as I did a plein air painting of this spot on a warm August day.20140501_122218

The Betsie River at the bike trail bridge

The Betsie River at the bike trail bridge

As I cross the Betsie on the trail wooden bridge, the views are breathtaking!20140501_122422


As I end my walk, I pass a homeowner tilling his garden spot.  “I really am not a ‘doubting Thomas’, just a little taken back after the winter we have had!”

” In a modern world of instant gratification, sometimes it is good for you to have more patience, my child.  My weather cannot be controlled, nor even predicted very accurately, as I am still in charge. I keep my promises, and you will be getting warmer soon, have a little faith!”

Hope you enjoyed the walk!  Julie



The people of northern Michigan may have been beaten down by winter’s fury, but, like the hard-pressed weeds and early new shoots, they have not yet given up hope for the good stuff that’s coming. P1060245 For come it will. Even though it’s been hard to believe, the land here seems finally to be on the mend and into the next season. P1060132
P1060273 Remember the snow at the back of the house? The last of it was moved this week. PICTURE lulu and snow behind her Lulu has lost her high throne, but gained the thrill of chipmunks and bluebirds.
 It is still cold, but the goldfinch is slowly turning a bright yellow – though we’re still feeding the birds. Today our walk in the woods was quiet and scented with wild leeks – the first and most enthusiastic of the forest shoots. After looking closer, we saw smaller shoots of trout lily, adder tongue, dutchman’s breeches, and even tightly curled leaves of bold little trilliums.
Coming out into lower meadow, we discovered a surprise – a pond at the bottom of the meadow where the small gravel pit had been. And swimming in it were a pair of common mergansers – he a beautiful stark black and white, and she even more so with her fluffy red head – like a flyaway Easter bonnet. As we continued to walk through the old gravel pit, of course Jessie found a petoskey stone!
 We climbed the sandy hill to the wood, worked our way over the ridge into the old orchard field – now clear and green.
Back at the house, the daffodils and lilies had worked their magic, and were on their way. Jessie took home some of Grandma’s plants for her new garden.
 Even on the big lake the ice is going and the colors look positively tropical – despite the cold remnants of Winter 2013-14 on the channel marker. IMG_20140419_175208598
 Yes, Carol there is a spring – and until it arrives there are surprise birthdays, chocolate cake and good friends. Hope springs eternal. – Kelly and Carol


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