Saturday, June 24, 2017

pause in posting

I have so much to post from my sketchbook and travel notes. Issues with internet in my studio are causing delays but hope to have new stuff to show very soon.
Meanwhile enjoy some scenes from former swampy weather days.

Friday, June 9, 2017

write it down

sketch before painting-Lilies by Janice Skivington 2017
The poet Isabel Allende urged, "write it down before it is erased by the wind."

(This is how I feel about drawing flowers from life, they are erased by the wind so soon, hurry and make your notes.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017


“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”   Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

first birthday joy

Happy 1st birthday to this little sprite!

 I have published these sketches before and I hope to make a few new ones this afternoon as we gather to celebrate her birthday.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

last day of kindergarten

Today is the last day in art class for these 5 year olds. Next time I see them they will be 6 year olds and 1st grade beginners.
At the end of art class after portfolios were assembled, I began to sketch one little fellow who always needs to have one more thing to do. The others were still coloring and free drawing on the outside of their portfolio folders.

Soon my sketching became the main event. I had to sketch everyone and each sketch had to be fast, my models wriggled, giggled, stared and smiled gapped-tooth grins. Here are four quick studies.

Friday, May 19, 2017

a tiny complaint about springtime

Springtime! Daffodils! Tulips!
What is there to complain about?
Just this; why does it happen so fast? Why does spring have to come all at once?

I feel like the guy in the zombie movie who is in a hospital in intensive care. He wakes up after two weeks spent in a coma and the whole world has changed. Nothing is the same, nothing even looks the same. And there are zombies everywhere, in all the flower beds, the suburban lawns, the shopping malls, everywhere.
I go outdoors after months of coma-like cold gray winter weather and spring has exploded, tulips and daffodils and little blue irises. Like fireworks going off in celebration but then poof, gone, withered away into smokey blank stems.
My tiny teeny complaint against Spring is that it happens too fast.
Oh, and the allergy season, all the trees blooming at once?

Sunday, May 7, 2017


God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. ~Jewish Proverb

I know it isn't Mother's Day today. The commercial Day is still a week away. I had made these sweet sketches while visiting in Mexico. 
My daughter-in-law finding a shady spot to nurse her very wiggly 9-month-old child in a park. The park is called the Alameda. I wonder if every town has an Alameda?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

a book to travel

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. Saint Augustine of Hippo

Monday, May 1, 2017

as small as a world

“may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.” 
― E.E. Cummings
maggie and milly and molly and may E. E. Cummings1894 - 1962

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Janice Skivington 2017 Fruit and vegetable market in Queretaro, Mexico
I love fresh fruit almost as much as I love traveling. Shopping for fruit in the open air market in Queretaro was all my senses could ask for. Colors, smells, textures. I went a little crazy and had to walk home weighed down with a very large papaya, mangos, guavas, and a couple of guyabano. Worth it for the sweet fruit to eat and a painting that happened from the memory.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


“Not all those who wander are lost.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

QuerĂ©taro, spring break consisted of days wandering the city alone, sitting in peaceful plazas with my sketchbook and paints. 

Sometimes I simply wandered from one shady spot to another. This city has many buildings, still used as residences or shops that are 400 years old. Here I had found myself a shady perch with an old fountain featuring a noble priest from the 1800s and a wealth of pink and red bougainvillea.

Friday, April 28, 2017


The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. 
Gilbert K. Chesterton

I was sitting on a bench across the street from this old church in Queretaro, Mexico drawing and painting with my watercolor kit. The doors opened, people went in to Mass and heart-touching angelic music came wafting across the street to me. It sounded like mostly women singing hymns and songs of praise in Spanish.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

holding my breath

As I was sketching my 9 month old grandchild from life, I had to hold my breath for fear of adding one shade or line too many to this delicate image. Of course, she was moving about with the intensity of a new and rapidly changing life force. I did not use a photo!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

babbling April

Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.” 
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter celebration

I sketched this with a ball point pen on a blank page in the service missal while standing in the noisy happy crowd.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

All Glory

All Glory, laud and honor to thee Redeemer King! whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

one day away

Queretaro, spring break consisted of days wandering the city.

Querétaro, spring break consisted of days wandering the city alone, sitting in peaceful plazas with my sketchbook and paints. Many days away from my everyday life, and many conscious artistic moments and thoughts only of absorbing the beauty of the scene in front of me.

 “Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future.  Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence.  Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” 
― Maya AngelouWouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now


My first dinner while on spring break in Queretaro, Mexico. Delicious!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

airport for people watching

visio trees

Spring is around the corner, trees are still mostly bare, mostly ghostly grey, soon to be blooming.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

wooden spoon

A perfect toy for a nine-month old, replaceable, chewable, and satisfyingly noisy when banging on various objects.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

it sounds so simple

Woh-oh, Mexico, it sounds so simple, I just got to go
The sun's so hot I forgot to go home, guess I'll have to go now....
Wo-oh, Mexico. It sounds so sweet with the sun sinking low
Moon's so bright, like to light up the night, make everything all right...
Sleepy senorita with her eyes on fire...
lyrics to "Mexico" by James Taylor

I have been traveling in Mexico for the past two weeks. Spring Break for me and it was sweet.

My first night in Queretero I saw this senorita walking down the cobbled street with her bucket full of Calla lilies. It was a scene right out of  a Diego Rivera painting. Later, I purchased a dozen of these lilies from an old lady sitting on the steps of a church, again a scene right out of a painting. I didn't take her photo but brought my armful home and painted it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


 I hope with all my heart there will be painting in heaven.
- Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

Easter Vigil art for Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton Illinois.

Monday, March 6, 2017


If the Word was indeed made flesh, then it is demanded of men that their words and their lives be in concord. Only he who is true can speak the truth.
— W. H. Auden, “Words and The Word” (1968)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


A sketch has charm because of its truth - not because it is unfinished.
-Charles Hawthorne (American artist of the early 20th century)

I spent a lovely day off at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Warm, humid green oxygen soaked air to breath as an antidote to February in Illinois. The longest short month of the year is how it feels around here.
My sketch of palms, ferns, and a marble statue somewhat hidden in the verdant abundance. 

Monday, February 27, 2017


A few days ago I had a lesson in experiencing the practice of Visio Divina and learned about something completely new to me.
El Greco "The Baptism of Christ"1568

While Lectio Divina is a method of praying with scripture, Visio Divina (Latin for "divine seeing") is a method for praying with images (such as Icons).
Visio Divina is a contemplative practice meant to develop ways of seeing holiness in our everyday lives. By meditating on paintings, scenes from real life, and icons, you can learn to penetrate the surface meaning and unearth what God means for you to hear and learn. The first step is to find part of an image that grabs you, that makes you stop and look again. Using a series of questions to answer as a guide to discover just what spoke to us through the images. The practice is simple: once you enter into the presence of God, you discern what the image is telling you. What is holy is what speaks to you and captures your heart.

The altarpiece painted by El Greco with the Baptism of Christ on the right.
Our workshop leader had us look at a reproduction of "The Baptism of Christ" by the late Renaissance painter El Greco. After reading several Bible passages that tell the story of Christ's baptism, and a time of contemplation, we turned away from the image by El Greco and drew our own impression of what spoke to our hearts. I have posted below my drawing which is a bit more developed than what most people would do. Okay, it's what I do, I'm not a public speaker, writer, or gifted singer, I just draw.
Traditional icon Baptism of Christ
As I looked at the painting by El Greco which I did love to see, I was cognizant of the traditional icon form of the composition. Coincidentally I have been teaching my Rhetoric and Logic art students about Byzantine Art and icons in art history. 

Yet what caught my eye was the figure of John the Baptist. Why is his skin darker than that of Christ's? Because he lived in the desert eating locusts and wearing animal skins? Why is the sky so turbulent? There are some odd and arresting silhouettes made by the foliage and staff that John carries. I could think of more to write but will leave this image that I drew as the moment of discernment. I ended up not drawing the figure of Christ or the angels, because I was identifying with John and the swirl of nature about him.
I appreciate the opportunity to learn about this spiritual practice, and today even more as we approach the season of Lent and contemplation. Contemplation and holiness and learning about spiritual matters does not mean I can't draw and paint. I have now learned that in fact I should give myself over more to this gift.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

how to see

I am practicing the discipline of "Visio Divina". Daily episodes of beauty in small moments strike me as divine,  imbued with spiritual meaning.
Contour line drawing worked from a jonquil purchased from the grocery store. It's still too early in February to see these out in nature. It is also very grey outdoors, this tiny shaft of sunlight came in the late afternoon today.