Nature Mandalas

17" Flower of Life ~ Butterflies Mandala  
Monarchs, Swallowtails, Cabbage whites, Bead ferns, Flower of life

merging art, science, and ancient wisdom

In Sanskrit, Mandala translates as "circle" and is typically a geometric pattern used in Spiritual practices to focus the mind during meditation or to create a sacred space. Mandalas have a calming and relaxing effect on the mind and body, relieving stress and anxiety, increasing one's appreciation for nature, and facilitating a connection with one's spiritual self.

The goal of this project was to develop a new expression and form for my art.
I designed these Mandalas using the nature prints I've been preserving in my library of silkscreens for over 30 years. Each piece required between 12 and 20 screenings. I completed each piece with colored pencil drawings and details woven throughout, in keeping with a theme.

Most of the pieces in this series were professionally photographed. The originals  are currently on view and available for purchase in Key West at Art@830 Gallery. Gicleé reproductions (the highest quality of art reproduction today) are available by order and will be on my website soon.

This project was partly supported by a grant from the Anne McKee Artist Fund, a local non-profit arts organization assisting FL Keys artists pursuing creative ideas.

10" Passionvine Mandala 


Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York 
Kingfisher, Woolly bear caterpillar, Isabella tiger moth, Yellow birch 
8x28" mixed media print on cream paper
 nature prints of leaves with colored pencil illustrations 

Like clockwork each fall, a Kingfisher flies into the cove in front of our cabin and hangs out in the Yellow Birch branches overhanging the lake.  This stunning bird with a punk crown of feathers preens and plunges into the water for fish.
The magical scene inspires me to create variations of art celebrating the beauty.

 In October, the brilliant leaves fill the woods with golden light, and you're likely to find Woolly bear caterpillars inching their way across the forest floor before hibernating. They can freeze up to 7 times (!) over winter and survive until spring, when they prepare a cocoon and transform into the lovely Isabella Tiger Moth.

~ the original of this piece along with gicleé reproductions are available for purchase on this website ~ 

Octopus's Garden

A Caribbean reef octopus got the memo during Cephalopod week in mid-June and appeared along our shoreline. From the dock above, I observed it several times for long periods as it enthusiastically explored the rocks and sea grass each evening.

In early June, I witnessed a much larger octopus scooting across the bottom foraging and then settling to stretch a thin bright blue webbed skirt over its discovery. Research shows this is called a parachute attack, used by the Caribbean reef octopus to form a canopy over its prey with its webbed arms. This intelligent species is common in the Keys and in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean but rarely seen as they are nocturnal.

The octopus (exhibiting a parachute attack, above) made its way into a piece of art I was working on then. I call it Octopus's Garden, and you can see it here on my website by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. In Key West it's at Art@830 Gallery, on Caroline Street.

Side note: Another very cool sighting during the winter months happened when we pulled the swim ladder out of the water to clean it.  A tiny 1" transparent octopus inched its way off the ladder and across the dock, pulling itself onto my thumb with one of its sucker-lined arms. Instinctively, I shook my hand out over the water lightly. The octopus dropped into the sea and let out 3 tiny puffs of ink before disappearing!

I later read that octopus studied in the Florida Keys laid eggs in January, and after 2-3 months, tiny hatchlings emerge who can use jet propulsion, crawl, and eject ink. They develop quickly and, within about 4-5 months, are 75% of their full size. That would put the octopus who visited recently right on schedule. Could it have been the same little octopus who attached itself to my thumb that day?

World Turtle Day

"Keys to My Heart: Fan palm, Green turtle, Stone crab, Conch"

Here’s a Honu for you on World Turtle Day, May 23, 2023.
Seems like a good time to share this new piece of art, inspired by a Green turtle found floating off our dock after a cold snap the last day of December. Sadly, it did not survive the chilly waters. The Turtle Hospital confirmed similar reports due to unusually cold temperatures. The little guy, who measured 18” from head to tail, was incredibly beautiful and in perfect condition. I photographed and later honored it in this piece. 

 Even on this protected residential peninsula where I live, our little dock provides a window into an ocean world upon which I thrive. The small natural habitat of coral rocks, mangrove roots, Buttonwood bushes, and turtle grass all provide a place for crabs, fish, even octopus, and birds to hang out and hide.
These small sightings are hi-lights of my day, nourishing my world and inspiring my creative spirit.

Honu, the Hawaiian word for Green turtle, is a symbol for good luck and wisdom and a reminder to walk a peaceful path.

Women Supporting Women

It is International Women’s Day, and women supporting women has been our backbone! When you buy something from us, you're assisting a network of women who support themselves and each other creatively…

I didn’t set an intention to support women artists and women-run companies in my path as a maker and textile designer, but am delighted that's what happened. Working with many enterprising and talented women has been a fantastic opportunity. During the 20+ years Helio Gallery was on Fleming Street in Key West, a changing group of women artists contributed their art and expertise, resulting in a charming and innovative studio/gallery where we hosted innovative shows and customers loved to shop.

Wendy, my youngest sister, has been our Production manager for decades, overseeing our printing studio and lending her creative eye to our process. She is also known as The Queen of Color, an in-home color and decorating consultant. Here she is hand painting fabric for Elizabeth Stuart Design in Charleston.


Many professional sewists have helped to produce our line of hand-printed pillows and linens. Suellen, our long-time expert seamstress is an artist herself, not just with sewing skills, but she weaves beautiful rugs on her loom.

In addition to women who contribute to producing our textiles, those who sell our line are often women too. Many of the Interior designers and store owners we work with are smart, dynamic women from Honolulu to Sag Harbor and Nantucket to coastal Florida. We even buy cool recycled wood frames for our art from Margaret, who collects old distressed painted wood for her unique business.

Thank you for supporting all of our efforts by buying our work!

Woodpecker and Banana blossom... say what?

My work often features what may seem like unusual pairings, although the inspiration usually comes from observation of nature in action.

Woodpecker and Banana blossom is a perfect example. One does not typically associate the two, but a Red-bellied Woodpecker repeatedly visited a banana blossom dangling from a tree in our garden during Springtime nesting season...

Hiding out and Hanging in there...

This original art features a nature print of a Sea Blade soft coral, and colored pencil drawings of a Star-eyed hermit crab in a Tulip snail shell and the wonderful Trumpetfish. I added a spiny sea star to this print for my holiday card in 2020.
The theme is in keeping with what we have all been doing during the worldwide pandemic. The inspiring and heartfelt poem below speaks volumes. 

The Peace of Wild Things    by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

It’s so true… for example, one needs only a glimpse below the ocean’s surface to be reminded there’s a whole other world going on down there. Hermit crabs are hiding in their shells, sticking close to home much like we are these days. And as for the trumpetfish, that cartoonish creature really does swim vertically, swaying gently with the soft corals it is trying to blend in with while patiently waiting for a fish to swim by. A lot like we’re hanging out and hanging in there.    

Hope the art brings you a smile. 



What magical creatures Seahorses are!  Imagine our delight when we discovered two of these tiny creatures swimming near the surface in a shallow sea grass bottomed bay surrounded by mangroves. While I was guiding an afternoon kayak tour for Key West Eco Tours, a few kids spotted them. The seahorses' tiny little fluttering fins distinguished them from what first appeared to be flotsam on the surface. We gently placed them in a jar of ocean water and passed it from kayak to kayak so all could get a close look at this fascinating and unusual fish before releasing it back into the sea. Did you know seahorses and pipefish, a close relative, spend 80% of their life in the sea grass meadows? They are there but it is hard to see them!

Years ago a sea horse attached itself to the line of my dinghy. I had untied the line and tossed it into my boat where I found the unfortunate little guy the next morning. Sadly, it did not survive, but it was immortalized as I painted and printed it, then 'burned' its image onto a silkscreen (a photographic process.) I feature it in many of my pieces and everyone loves it. Here's one recently created for a cool recycled green and purple wood frame. You will find many more pieces of art with sea horses throughout my website.





Ode to the Washingtonians

With the recent opening of The Marker Hotel in Key West, and their use of a custom version of this piece in the guest rooms of the hotel, AND the acceptance of this piece in the Colored Pencil Society's online show Explore This! 10, it seemed like a good time to talk a bit about what inspired this work.

Many years ago, a flock of green parrots lived in the towering Washingtonian Palms standing guard along the perimeter of the Key West cemetery. The birds would fly in a small tight group circling above, landing in the tall palms where they would chatter and squawk. The parrots are long gone. And now most of the Washingtonians are gone too. But they live on in our heart. (And our art)

In addition to providing refuge for the parrots those trees were an integral part of Key West’s landscape. Like old friends you see on a daily basis, their presence provided beauty, continuity and comfort. As a result of their unobstructed height, their lofty leaves even provided us with a clear gage on wind speed and direction for the day’s windsurfing sessions!

As they were cutting the trees down early one morning, I rushed to Windsor Lane where young workers who were following orders were high up in a bucket, about to behead the last tree. I asked if they would be willing to cut one of the large leaves for me, along with a few flower spikes. They did so, and I dragged the 6-8’ long stems up Angela Street, tears rolling down my face.

I spent that week doing drawing studies and photographing each part of the tree’s miraculous flower and seed spikes. Then later, I worked to create the final drawings utilizing the photos and studies I did that week the trees were cut down.

As many artists know, one of the best ways to become intimate with a subject is to draw it. I learned a lot about those trees in the process. The work became a tribute to them, celebrating their presence in our lives and the beauty of their being.

About the drawing:

From below you can see the long flower spikes extending out from the crown and swaying in the breeze. Since the trees are so tall, the mystery that’s going on up there is impossible to know. When I was able to see and study it closely, the beauty of the process delighted and inspired me to document it in my drawing.

The green spikes first shoot out from the tree. Slowly they begin to crack open progressively up the stalk, revealing the flowers that have been maturing inside. The flower cluster grows, extending from the stalk and each one holds hundreds of tiny creamy yellowish-white blossoms that dangle on ivory yellow stems. The flowers eventually collapse into a bundle and transform into seeds. The stems, now holding the seeds, begin to dry and expand stretching out like fingers. The seeds gradually fall off, leaving the bare skeleton-like stems remaining.  All of these stages are portrayed in my drawing.

Giclée reproductions of this piece are available on this website.


Croton Leaf Project

A most beautiful Croton bush grows in our garden and whenever someone sees it they always comment on the colors and variety of the leaves. It truly is a beautiful specimen, and as an artist it has inspired me to try to capture a few images of its amazing leaves on paper. 

The plant:  The leaves are first a bright chartreuse green, transforming to yellow, with pink creeping into the veins and spreading, creating bright hues. This is followed by sections of the leaf turning to green. Spots and areas slowly become dark green, then almost purple-black.  Many of the leaves gradually turn bright red. Leaves in a variety of stages and outrageous colors cover the plant resulting in a striking splash of almost cartoon-like colors at any one time.

The process:  Each print on paper is an individually created work of art. The original leaf semblances come from nature prints made by painting and pressing the actual leaves. The resulting images are transferred to silk screens, a photographic process. Each individual leaf is silk screened onto the paper in appropriate colors and over-painted to resemble the leaves from the plant. Using photos of the leaves as reference, accents and details are added with colored pencils.  

Once I was into this project, I began imagining using the leaves in graphic designs that would be displayed in groupings, which led to the creation of the series I call Croton Collages.

These are available on our website under Original Art

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