29 September 2015

Artist in Residence

Lisa Boni
Last week, as part of my "stay-cation", I was honored to be invited by my dear friends, Mary and Winston, to spend time at Sonlight Camp and do some watercolors for them!  Mary took this photo of me sitting on the deck my first morning there as I painted the dinner bell (pictured below) as a warm-up for the paintings to come!  

The Dinner Bell is used to call campers to meal times throughout the day and sits on the deck railing overlooking a lovely mountain meadow! 

The campers may stay in the main lodge dormitories or in one of three lovely cabins on the property if they aren't out on a backpacking trip through the Colorado Rockies! 

 For those not inclined to outdoor adventure, there are crafty pursuits in the Crafty Bus!

The Entry to the camp is wonderfully welcoming!

Here are the first four sketches that I did for them.

The fire circle is a popular place in the evenings!  Here the view looks back to Winchester Cathedral and one of the cabins. 

When I drove up and saw the camp's sign, it brought back such memories of the very first time I had the privilege of coming to Sonlight many years before!  That was back in 1989, when my family and I came down to Pagosa Springs to participate in Sunlight's first Memorial Day Weekend Barnraising.

Instructions from Winston
What memories!  Winston (in the orange plaid shirt) giving instructions to the crew on that first morning of the barn raising.

The walls going up
The walls grew with lots of teamwork!

Sunlight's First Cabin
By the end of the weekend, the cabin was mostly up!

Square Dancing in the meadow
One of my favorite memories of that weekend was square dancing in the meadow in the evening!  

Now of course, the camp looks completely different!  
The meadow is larger, the buildings have increased, but it's still a magical spot!  The bath house we built was added on to years later and is the rear portion of the building in the center of this photo.  The front is known as Winchester Cathedral, having been named such for Mary's parents who did much to help the camp through the years. 

Walking down the entrance path to the main lodge.

The main lodge contains the dining room, kitchens, staff dining and work space and the camp offices.  Upstairs there are two large dormitory rooms for campers.  

From the lower end of the meadow looking up.

From the deck of Winchester Cathedral looking out over the meadow.

There is seating of many guises all over from benches built into the decks, adirondack chairs, hammocks and several of these old ski lift chairs!  During the winter months, Sonlight hosts ski groups who come from all over to ski at Wolf Creek Pass, some of the best powder skiing in all of Colorado if not the world! 

Evenings at camp means time around the fire with plenty of seating for all!

So many activities to partake of!

Care for a game of checkers?

How about some horseback riding?  Of the stick variety anyway!

And then there are the touches of whimsy around the camp.  Here is the old bath house (still in use as such!) on the left and the side door into Winchester Cathedral.  There was a difference of roof height a the join of the old and newer building.

Here is how to make that jog in height a bit more interesting!

Then there is the weather rock.  If it's wet, it's raining.  If in is dry, it isn't.  If it's covered in white, it's probably snowing.  If it's hanging straight down, it's calm.  If it's leaning to the side, it's windy!  

You might find a tree person here and there.

And if you enter the staff door to the main lodge, you'll be reminded that Hippies must use the back door!

While most places have Bird Feeders, Sonlight has a people feeder!  Stocked with Colorado's own Jolly Rancher candies!

Every camp should have a resident dog and Tope is Sonlight's!

Of course I had to do some birding while I was there!  I loved watching this Brown Creeper on the trees.  From the back he blends right in!  

Up in the trees, the chickadees sang and played.  In this photo I think I also captured a goldfinch or some other type of warbler.  I didn't even realize it was there until after I downloaded the photos! 

The silly antics of the White Breasted Nuthatch always make me smile!  I love how they are as much at home when upside down as when right side up! 


The evening sun setting behind the cross in the outdoor chapel. The perfect way to end my stay at Sonlight.  It truly was a blessed time to have three glorious days there and to spend time with friends!   Such an honor and a privilege to be their "Artist in Residence" for a few days! 

16 September 2015

Hello Again!

After a busy summer, this bird is back blogging once again!  I took a break from my CQJP project to work on a cover for my journal.  It wasn't long before a mountain bluebird took up residence on the front cover!  

What a joy it was to be working in my favorite colors once again!  Sweet relief!

Bluebirds speak of joy to me.  Not happiness, which can be fleeting and circumstantial, but of deep joy, the kind that comes regardless of circumstances.  
The joy of the Lord is your strength
Nehemiah 8:10

On the back, a nest to come home to.  A nest that speaks of hope.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11


Inside, a place to tuck a pen and pencil.

Inside the back cover, a little label and an elastic...

ever so helpful for holding pages fast when journaling outside!

This past week, I've been enjoying a "Stay-cation".  There had been plans for another trip back east, but my inner turmoil made it clear that I needed time and space to clear my head at home.  So the calendar was cleared.  How beautiful to have a bit of time to simply be.  One of those days found me driving up to the heights of Mount Evans.  Along the way, a lovely look at the Aspen trees starting to turn.  The crystalline structure of the leaves gathers light in and makes them seemingly glow from within.  Not as colorful perhaps as the maples and oaks back east, but stunningly beautiful in their own right.  

Near the base of Mt. Evans is Echo Lake.  A lovely walking path around the lake, views of the peaks beyond and the willows along the edge filled to the brim with Wilson's Warblers!

As the road climbs the mountain, the views of valleys and mountains beyond is stunning.  That's Echo Lake in the foreground.  The edge of treeline occurs at about 11,500 feet, so this view is taken from slightly higher.  The air thin and crystalline, invigorating.  

Summit Lake sits at the base of what was once a glacial cirque.  Now the clear cold water reflects the peaks and sky above.  Along it's edge, mats of tundra plants take advantage of the moisture and American Pipit's dance along the edge. 

The parking lot at the summit sits about 250 feet below the true summit.  I hiked the path to the top and was rewarded with this view of near and distant peaks.  At this elevation, 14, 271 feet above sea level, you can see nearly every high peak in Colorado!  As I stood on the peak, buffeted by wind, the clouds moved in and obscured the view.  What a treat though, to be able to stand on such a summit without the exertion of hiking miles and miles of steep terrain! 

Around the summit, a herd of Mountain Goats thrives in the harsh conditions.  Their thick coats guard them from the wind and cold.  Even as they prepare for the coming winter, they are still shedding the last of the previous year's coat.  

Back down at Summit Lake, I was blessed to be in just the right position for this lovely photo of a young Bighorn Sheep.  Truly an amazing day on a magnificent mountain. 

Another day, I made a trip east to Pawnee National Grasslands.  Here, the vistas are enormous as well, but so very different than the views from Mount Evans!  Vast expanses of shortgrass prairie extend out as far as the eye can see and clouds drift across the sky like flocks of sheep.  No sound but the sound of the wind, the horned larks and the underlying drone of insect life.  Space to breathe.  

Curly tendrils of grass pick up the light of the afternoon sun.


IMG_3630In August I had a trip to Missouri for the CQI retreat.  On the way, I stopped at Cheyenne Bottoms National Wildlife Refuge.  Beautiful to see the blue water amidst enormous stands of reeds and cattails.

The ponds were filled with shorebirds of many varieties!  The more I looked, the more I saw.  Hundreds upon thousands of birds!  What was meant to be a brief one hour drive through turned into an afternoon of birding! 

There were cattle egrets, Snowy Egrets, Whitefaced Ibis, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, gulls, ducks, pelicans, avocets, and so many more!  I'd never seen a snowy egret sit like the one in the foreground!  At first I wondered if it might be injured, but later it stood up and went about like any other egret! 

As I made my way through Kansas, the setting sun made the sunflowers glow!

2015.08.19Kansas Sunset
Such gorgeous colors in the sunset.

IMG_3655 (1)
We had a lovely time stitching at the Heartland Center!  It is always such a pleasure to meet with and stitch with other crazy quilters!  I also had the fun of teaching two classes.  Both a "beginner's" class, which was more about how I approach crazy quilting, since there were few true beginner's there, and an advanced embroidery class where we looked at how to layer seams and build them up.  This was a very hands on class and I hope that everyone felt like they came away with something new! 

Wedding Location - Highland Meadows Golf Course
The weekend before the trip to Missouri, was my oldest son Jonathan's wedding!  They held it at the Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor, Colorado.  The setting was lovely and the big red barn perfect for the reception! 

Wedding Venue
Just before the ceremony, the skies grew dark and the rain began to fall.

The Ceremony - First Kiss
But as soon as Pastor Jim finished the opening prayer, the sky cleared right overhead!  All around us there were storms and tornadoes, but we were in the clear!  The ceremony was lovely!  

Wedding Barn
Inside the barn, all was ready for the reception! Such a great space!

Becca and her mom created all the centerpieces.  Favors were little S'more kits!

Cupcake Table
Instead of wedding cake, there were a lovely assortment of little wedding cupcakes!

Groom and his Men
My boys (and the best man, Jonathan's lifelong friend, Steve).  Not a bad looking bunch of cowboys! 
From left to right: Jonathan, Steve, Zach, and Stephen. 

The Happy Couple!
The happy couple!  

My wedding gift to the couple was this wedding sampler with a rustic western theme.

A closer look.

Before the wedding, I painted my dining room.  The lower half of the walls is the same white as the kitchen and hallway, the upper half a nice medium sage green that goes beautifully with the rug as well as the paintings I usually hang in here.  Painting this room was a huge step for me.  Since our house fire in 1999, I haven't painted a room any other color than white or off white.  Anything darker than that brought back too  many memories of being inside the fire damaged house.  But now, 15 years later, I finally wanted a bit of color.  

The funny thing is that after all the time spent finding a paint that would show off my paintings well, I decided not to hang anything on the walls!  The one painting in here simply sits on top of the china cabinet so that I can change it out as I choose.  I'm loving the color and the peacefulness of empty walls! 

Holly at Barr Lake

My sister came out for the wedding!  We spend some time birding.  Here she is at the boardwalk at Barr Lake State Park!

Lisa in Sunflowers
Holly took this photo of me in a field of Sunflowers east of Denver.

Before all the wedding festivities started, I stitched some CQ ornaments as samples for a class I'm going to be teaching at the Loopy Ewe in Fort Collins, CO in October.  I hope to also be teaching a beginning CQ class as well as a CQ Stocking class!  

I've also spent some time birding and learning more about how to photograph birds and wildlife.  These photos are from Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.  Just love the bright yellow goldfinches! 

The look on this Eastern Kingbird just makes me giggle!  So quizzical!

And with that, I think I've caught up on the highlights of the past month and a half!  I'll share some watercolor sketches soon.  I can't promise that I'll be posting frequently, as I'm still trying to re-prioritise my life some.  It's time to get back to some projects like my CQJP 2015 blocks, which are woefully behind!  There are some other projects in the works as well that I can't wait to stitch and share!  Until then, may God's grace be upon you and bless you!


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