Driving to our summerhouse in Alentejo, Portugal, which is known as the "barn of the country" due to its abundance of farmland. There are sunflowers as far as the eye can see. Rolling fields of golden yellow dotted with cork and olive trees. These images stay with me long after the drive is over and we are at home. This inspired me to create the sunflower box with its golden beauty.
While strolling through the park in Cascais, Portugal with peacocks wandering around showing off their spectacular plumage. I was able to capture some images of them strutting their stuff and then went on a search for peacock feathers. I thought this combination along with the rich colors would make a majestic peacock box.
My mother comes every summer for a visit. A morning at the thieves market “Feira da Ladra” in Lisbon is always on our to do list. We love rummaging through all the junk and there is a lot of it. Score! I came across this old man selling elaborate brass antique keyholes, doorknockers and keys; oxidized and rusted I loved them. Having no idea what I was going to do with them I bought several. Back to the studio, a photo search, finding the perfect weathered blue door to go with my keys and doorknocker. These elements reminded me of older Portuguese homes with their lace curtains billowing in the breeze; I painted lace designs on the box to give this feel. With these elements as my inspiration the Home & Hearth box was created.
We love spending the day exploring the spectacular gardens of Montserrate Park and Palace in Portugal. Beautifully landscaped and the home to many species of trees, plants and flowers from all parts of the world. I love the Arbutus trees with their crooked trunks and twisted branches. I photographed this one backlit as a silhouette. I wanted to create a box focusing on this tree. The silvery white pods framed the blue sky and tree perfectly and from there the Arbutus tree box grew.
While in Kenya I went on safari in the Maasai Mara reserve, named after the Maasai tribes that inhabit the region. After deplaning the tiny flying machine we were transported in I was in awe of the beautiful surroundings and incredible light peeking through a few fluffy clouds. Having the chance to see and photograph so many majestic animals in their natural habitat is an experience I will always treasure. The wild life sightings was amazing — lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, giraffes, hippos and the annual great migration of zebras, gazelles and wildebeest from Tanzania — absolutely exhilarating. This adventure inspired me to create a box with a safari feel. I used faux animal patterned furs, incorporating natural elements and a few of my animal photographs. The results can be seen in my African Safari box.
I have always had a fascination with angels. As I was taking a walk through the forest I was daydreaming of angels, fairies and their woodland friends scampering around. I headed directly to my art studio while the ideas were still floating around in my head and began the creation of the angel in the forest box. I knew I wanted it to be whimsical, colorful and full of forest friends. With this in mind I created the forest fantasy box.
As I was watching A Passage to India I was struck by the opening images of the Indian gods. My thoughts went to my travels through India and Asia and the photographs I had taken. I went through them to find similar images that I thought would make a stunning box and here began the creation of the India box.
I chose an image of the Bodhisattva Padmapani “awakened being” or “enlightenment hero” from the Ajanta caves in northern India. The Bodhisattva vows to come back to this life again and again in order to help all living beings. Padma means “lotus” and pani is “hand”, so this is the Bodhisattva with lotus (as a symbol of enlightenment) in hand.
Ahhh wine country. Dão and Douro valley in the North of Portugal and Alentejo in the Central-South these are a few of the regions known for producing fabulous Portuguese wines. Having drank my share of these wines, I began saving the labels, when I could get them off the bottles. With my now large collection of wine labels I decided to create a tray with them. I thought a tray with wine labels would be great for serving what else… wine!
The sardine culture in Lisbon was my inspiration for this box. Grilled sardines are a traditional dish in Portugal. There is even a sardine festival, the feast of Saint Anthony (the marriage saint). Sardine season coincides with the Feast of St. Anthony and all over the city people grill them with the aroma wafting through the air. The streets are filled with parades, people drinking wine and enjoying grilled sardines served on a slice of bread to soak up the juices.
The story goes that St. Anthony gave a “sermon to the fishes”, to impress heretics, he preached the word of God and the fishes poked their heads out of the water to listen. The sardines represent those miraculous fish.
The historic district of Alfama is one of my favorites in Lisboa with its maze of narrow cobblestoned streets, beautiful scenic views and Fado music wafting through the air. I am captivated by the old tiled buildings, red tiled roofs, intricate ironwork, street lamps and trams chugging along the uphill climb. This inspired me to create the Alfama box giving a little glimpse of this charming area in the seven hills.
Both my husband and I have the Celtic Tree of Life tattoos, a favorite symbol of ours. The tree branches reach towards the sky and the roots spread out into the earth below representing the harmony and balance in nature, and the link between heaven and earth. The Celts believed that the tree symbolized wisdom, strength and a long life and was also known as Crann Bethadh (Tree of Life).
I created this box around a photo I had taken in Malveira da Serra foothills of the Sintra National Forest along with the tree of life symbol, adding natural elements as the creative process grew.
Sintra is a charming picturesque Portuguese town set amidst pine-covered hills of the Serra de Sintra. Nobility constructed exquisite palaces and decorative gardens there. The colorful Pena Palace and Park are the fruit of King Ferdinand II’s creative genius and the greatest expression of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal.
As we were visiting Pena Palace in Sintra with my sister the mist set in. We were hiking through the surrounding forest when my husband had the brilliant idea of taking short cut he knew to the road…mmmm. Sometime later still in the fog covered forest we came across a wall - the short cut - with its steep drop. We did manage to make it to the road, rather hesitantly over the wall. While we were searching for our escape route I took this photo of the forest in the mist. The atmosphere is strangely calming yet eerie when the mist sets in. I created a montage with the forest photo and an antique map of Portugal from 1654, as Sintra is a historic town I thought this...
I love to photograph flowers, particularly in the morning light with water droplets from the night mist. Over the years and through my travels my collection of flower photographs became quite extensive. I have incorporated flower photos into many of my boxes but I wanted to create a piece where the main focus was flowers. Time to show them off… this is the first in a series of flower boxes to have blossomed.
Digging through my old jewelry I found these pair of colorful parrot earrings from the 80s… I think did I actually wear these? I was sure I could create something whimsical with them, as they were never going to don my ears again. They brought back memories of my time living on a tropical island, thoughts of palms, flowers, birds, colors and morning dew. My old earrings, some dried painted palm leaves, a hibiscus photo I had taken in Bali and my colorful tropical box was created.
Sitting on the café terrace at the botanical gardens in Puerto Vallarta. A beautiful setting overlooking the hills and gardens, sipping a cold cerveza and watching the humming birds buzz around the glass hearts dangling from the eave. I took a few photos and loved the silhouette created by the sunlight. As we walked thru the gardens my husband picked up a few bird feathers lying on the ground. When we returned home I took this image, our feather finds and the hummingbird box was born.