By admin

Ink Sketches in Costa Rica

Sesson Shūkei 雪村周継 (ca. 1504–uca. 1589)

“Japanese Zen monks treasured pictures of gibbons painted by the Chinese monk-painter Muqi (active ca. 1250–80), which Muqi’s colleagues first carried to Japan in the late thirteenth century. By the late fifteenth century, images of the animals in the manner of Muqi had become a favored subject for large-scale painting programs.

In this pair of screens, showing a uniquely Japanese interpretation of Muqi’s style, a chain of gibbons tries to grasp the reflection of the moon in the water below—a futile effort that in Zen signifies the delusions of the unawakened mind. Sesson, a learned and prolific Zen monk-artist, studied a wide array of earlier Chinese ink styles and played a major role in the development of a distinctive Japanese form of Zen-inspired ink painting.”

This painting by artist Sesson was in my mind when we set off for Costa Rica at the beginning of 2022. It’s been a while since I did any sumi ink painting, so I always like to get fueled with inspiration when I am rusty with a particular technique. Zen mind, beginners mind – Suzuki Roshi. 

Whenever I travel (without my oil paints) my preferred materials include a small jar of black sumi ink, 1 or 2 bamboo calligraphy brushes, archival water color paper or rice paper, and an empty jar for collecting water on site. For the seasoned plein air oil painter this feels like you are carrying close to nothing!

What i enjoy about ink painting is the idea that you are only capturing what is essential in the scene. A few brush marks may convey the entire essence of the landscape or subject at hand. It is a challenge for me to simplify to this degree, which is why it makes for good study. The importance of value and composition are also at the forefront, which is the foundation of any masterful oil painting. It is rewarding to find beauty in the structure-less, to see a fullness within the emptiness of the page. 

Japanese sumi ink painting and Chinese calligraphy are ancient forms of expression…there is a looseness, simplicity, and ethereal quality that I have always been drawn to. My appreciation for this style of painting is what I believe first attracted me to Zen Buddhism when I first set on the path of discovering spirituality. 

It only seems fitting, that one of the first times i hung out with my now significant other Charles, he handed me the book “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and recently living master, who has actually passed away (or as his disciples would say, transitioned) on the day that I am writing this. Thay was also a very talented calligraphy artist, who’s short and simple phrases he painted in the middle of a circle. 

My aunt Beth, whom I love deeply and who is also an artist, gifted me a small accordion style handmade book with rice paper pages. I filled this book with ink paintings and phrases from my first Buddhist retreat at Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery in New York State, Blue Cliff. One of my earliest blog posts is about this experience and ink painting. 

A favorite contemporary artist, Alex Kanevsky, is also inspired by ink painting, Chinese calligraphy, and scrolls. He critiqued my work in college, and is also a professor at the same art school, Philadelphia, where my aunt got her masters degree in fine art. The paintings of Alex certainly show the simplistic and timeless nature of these influences. Something I strive to create more of in my own work. The interconnected ness of it all truly makes me feel like there is a more divine plan and unfolding. The beautiful connections and inter being. The blurring of reality, the shifting planes of evolution, the illustration of impermenace.

Alex Kanevsky, Cold River, Oil on Board, 14.5 x 31”

So after this long winded introduction to my experiences with sumi ink, I wanted to share some snap shots of where I was and what I painted on the Nicoya penninsula, Costa Rica. I wouldn’t say that these paintings are ones I would ever put in a portfolio or gallery. They are purely sketches. Trying to get reacquainted with the medium and deepen my sense of new landscapes. They very much have the quality of thumbnails, sometimes clumsy and imperfect. But all of it is apart of the process. And imperfection is valued in Japanese culture, even coveted in some regards.

El Tigre Waterfalls and hanging bridges hike, Monteverde cloud forest
Palms outside our casita in Monteverde
I liked it more before I added additional details
Another interesting plant outside of where we stayed in Monteverde
Punta Islita Beach, Quanacaste
Punta Islita Beach, where we stayed on the coast for two weeks, and had our first surfing lesson.
Punta Islita Beach
Hanging flowers from our favorite vegan cafe the Luv Burger, Nosara

Now Exhibiting at Sedona Artist Market


“The Sedona Artist Market is an exciting art destination in West Sedona with over 8,000 square feet and 100+ artists.”

I’m really excited to announce that I have been juried into the Sedona Artist Market! It’s an honor to show my work along side other local talented emerging and well established professional artists.

Come see my heart felt expressions of the local “wild” and sacred scenery! Home to four main spiritual vortexes and sweeping red rock country, Sedona is an incredibly unique and diverse place in the southwestern USA. I’m so inspired by it. Take a piece of it home with you! Visit my contemporary landscape oil paintings at BOOTH #5 anytime during business hours.

Sedona Artist Market

2081 W. Hwy 89A, Suite 11, Sedona, AZ 86336

Open 11-4 pm, Tuesday thru Sunday

Being the Observer

Painting from life, whether en plein air painting, still life or figurative painting, requires direct observation. This means the subject portrayed in three dimensional reality is translated and expressed onto two dimensional surface. The painter is now capturing an experience rather than simply an image, and must organize a point of view amid a multitude of optional perspectives. The painter also paints through the filters of what energetically is being perceived, emotional states, memories, and learned responses.

Observation is a powerful tool. It creates a sense of balance within the subjective creation of an artwork, captures a specific moment in time, and can create a bridge between illusion and delusion.

As an intensely emotional being, both highly sensitive and imaginative, the practice of objectivity both helps me in creating a stable mind, and offers a familiar language to the viewer, an entry point between a noun and a feeling.

A stable, objective mind is what the practice of mediation and yoga offers. In this realm, we are capable of being the observer…of our thoughts, our feelings, our perceptions, our bodies. When we are able to step away and see from different perspectives, we are capable of being more compassionate, more tolerant, and more aware human beings.

The practice of objective painting alone won’t necessarily offer this deeper practice of genuinely being the observer. But when we live in a holistic way, and take this state of mind into other areas of our existence; immense growth, healing, and understanding can take place. This has been a revelation for me.

I recently made a huge life style shift, from living in the gentle rolling green hills of Vermont, to the wild west, where the desert is harsh and a lot of the land has been unfairly exploited. From being surrounded by Bernie supporters, I now find myself around Trump supporters. And while I don’t agree with the division taking place politically in our country right now, I have my own preferences and set of values that are usually supported where I’m from in Vermont. It is within this feeling of isolation, within this stance of feeling like a minority, that the power of observation has helped me to grow and become a stronger, more compassionate human being. Instead of becoming rigid and rebelling against the behaviors and ideals of the places I find myself in, I’ve begun to soften, I’ve begun to try to see from another person’s perspective, even if I don’t agree with it.

Around the same time I was going through this trial period, I had a painting that I was working on that just wasn’t working out. I must have gone back to the same spot several times, trying to get the foreground to work with the distant mountains and red rock cliffs, and I couldn’t find a solid composition. I came back to the same trail head to begin a different painting, so I took a different hike and left my usual orientation. Still not finding an inspiring scene where everything clicked, I turned around and there it was, the answer to what wasn’t working in the previous painting. It was a new foreground entirely with a slightly angled shift to the atmospheric mountains, but it still worked. Instead of trying to impose my views, the “right view” naturally aligned. Even though I had worked on this painting for a few sessions at this point, it felt as if I was beginning a new, as if I was seeing the scene for the very first time. Zen mind, beginner’s mind. The mantra for a happy life. A mantra to reduce suffering and strife. This aha moment made a lot of personal experiences clear to me. My anger from a lot of negative personal interactions turned into real compassion.

When we relate our lives to our art, significant changes can occur. The two are inextricably linked.

If you’re always standing from the same perspective, or around those who agree with you, you will have no opportunity for growth. It’s so important to embrace these shifts fully, in order to become a more transformative person and artist.

Amid so much violence and hatred that can occur between individuals and groups of people, any chance to practice kindness is ground breaking and revolutionary. It’s important to remain objective. We don’t live in a black and white world, a dualistic world. We live in a multi dimensionional world and we ought to reflect that.

Painting for Peace

The Dalai Lama once said in his essay, The True Source of Political Success, from the publication Dharma Rain,

“Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace (166).”

As I sit in a spiritually curated cafe facing a wall of enshrined gurus, I ponder this profound thought, and try to relate my own path as an artist to this ideal.

I truly believe that the seed of a person’s actions begin with some good intention. These intentions may be to bring more abundance or comfort to an individuals life, or to their families. The desire may be to create something as a means of connecting people or communities to each other. Creations may be tools for living or experiencing. It is when the seed blossoms into a business, an organization, or any kind of manifestation, that we have to check in with ourselves and ask,

Am I staying true to the original intentions of the seed that was planted?
Am I asking too much of this idea?
What are the consequences of my creation in the world?

Even though my painting practice is an extension of my joy and my desire for peace and awareness in the world, I still have to ask myself these questions along with a few others.

Am I painting to create another master piece for my portfolio, or am I painting to improve my craft, explore my vision, listen to the voice of nature, and create a cultural dialogue based in empathy and gentleness?

It could be both, but when I chase the former, I usually lose the ladder, and I don’t feel as good. The painting also isn’t as transformative or ground breaking.

I have to ask myself, am I painting to build my name as an artist, to make money, or am I painting from the heart center? Am I creating an expression of love and light? Is each and every brush mark a blessing? A prayer for peace?

I often look around and find that so many of the most important roles in our society struggle to make ends meet, and end up compromising certain inherent values and spreading themselves too thin. I look at a local yoga teacher or an organic small scale farmer, and their unique ability to transform the lives of everyone they touch. I also see the amount of individuals unable to support these extremely important figures and what they have to offer.

When we chase material forms of success, rather than what nourishes the mind, body, and soul, we are not meeting our needs as human beings. With this as a ripple effect, a lot of people in society aren’t getting their needs met either.

At the end of the day, one cannot ask too much of their art. We cannot ask too much of ourselves. We have to be kind to ourselves, to our own limits, to the limit of those who may work for or with us, to the limits of our earth.

When I think about success and progress, I often have a different view than most people.

Success in my opinion, is placing quality over quantity. Efficiency above expansion. Restoration instead of destruction. Connection versus alienation. Love instead of conflict.

If every individual created from a place of patience, tolerance, love, compassion, and responsibility rather than ego, hatred, stress, envy, competition, or craving, I think we would have a lot more peace in the world today.

Even as a painter, I have the choice between these modes of expression. I can put more effort into advancing my career or into advancing the authenticity of my practice. In a way I feel very lucky to be an artist, because when I’m creating for the wrong reasons, the effect is palpable in my work. All I can do is follow my truth. Just like a challenging yoga pose or the life cycle of a carrot, I can’t rush it. I can’t ask too much of it. I have to let go and allow myself the space to grow, to improve, to hone my vision.

I feel that every lover, healer, dreamer, needs to wander, needs to search, needs to practice self care and operate from a place of truth in order to really heal or make a difference. I hold that standard for myself and for my career as an artist. I deeply want to continue painting for the love of painting, and anything beyond that is a gift.

When I paint, I want to challenge myself, to feel vulnerable, to ascend to the highest version of myself, to bind with the spirit of mother earth. I want the panting to radiate these things.

So when I paint for the end goal of creating a more peaceful world, I have to come from a peaceful place within my inner world. I have to plant the seed of peace, and nurture this concept from start to finish.

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts. May you be happy and free of suffering. May you above all, treat yourself with loving kindness. May whatever it is that you do or make, flow from the stream of peace.


En Plein Air Painting Festival

Last fall, before my long winter hibernation, I participated in En Plein Air Painting Festival at The Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Quechee, Vermont.

I painted on the trails, by the river, marshes, and in the open meadow for seven days, capturing the peak of New England fall foliage, my palette a swathe of earth tones and warm pigments. Before all my painting sessions I visited the incredible raptors; owls, ravens, bald eagles, hawks, and falcons. On one of the last days I painted a male snowy owl and two Ravens. They felt so mystical and wild, it was an awesome opportunity.

I ended up getting second place in the quick paint competition. This means you finish your outdoor painting in less than four hours. It was raining so I stood under my umbrella, rain drops dripping from my hood, and my hands getting pretty wet and cold. I also made the front page of the local paper! The photographer captured the exact light I was attempting to capture in the scene by the river.

World Of Interiors Magazine

I was recently featured in the summer 2018 campaign “Artistic Impressions” in the Conde Naste publication, World of Interiors, UK. One of my paintings was featured in each of the three issues. The last issue, October, has a ton of information on the annual London Design Festival. The paintings featured include, Long Pond 2015, Impermanence 2018, and Tine 2018. The theme I had in mind for this campaign reflects my interest in conveying strong value and color gradients, either monochromatic or complimentary colors. I tried to choose peices that reflect space in particular, whether that means expansiveness in composition or creating depth with light and perceived distance.


August 2018 PC WOI Instagram


Long Pond, 2015


September 2018 PC WOI instagram


Impermanence, 2018
October 2018 PC WOI Instagram


Tine, 2018

Time Lapse Painting

I awoke before sunrise with a stack of gessoed, orange stained masonite panels and planted myself in front of the window panes overlooking the Worcester mountain peaks in the barn home. 
My boyfriend and I were house and seedling sitting as the farmers were traveling for a few days. 
The full, supermoon light poured in and I sat, soaking in it's energy before setting up my easel. My eyes circled the glowing orb, a ghost beckoning a silent reverie. I followed the silvery arm-like 
beams outward, into the darkness of night, spreading across the sleeping fields, all the way to my 
feet on the concrete floor. 

As the sun began to emerge and illuminate the mountains, casting a pale pink and 
orange glow on the frosted ice caps, I began my painting, of my favorite peak "No Name." Time 
unraveled before me. I made the finishing touches, as the shadows drained into the tree line, while listening to the 
slow pumping of the watering hose next to me. The sound reminded me of the breathing tube I had to 
use in the hospital as my collapsed right lung fluttered, day and night, into a chest tube. 
Everything is 
coming alive, I thought. 

The day, the mountains, the birds, the seedlings are coming alive. I am coming alive. 
As the day continued on, I returned to my easel at 12pm, 3pm, and 4pm, and tried to 
capture the light over the course of an hour. I continued to use the same color palette that I mixed at dawn, but adding variations of grey, and mixing more blue into the oranges, reds, and whites. By dusk I was mostly just adding a lot of ultramarine blue! As the sun began to set behind the 
mountains, I watched the dip in the ridge line, like the contour of a profiled mouth, swallow the 
egg yolk sun whole. I expressed this with swift, hungry, shadowy brush marks. What must it be 
like, to be No Name for a day? I wondered. 

It was a beautiful experience to sit 
and observe such a small part of the vast landscape, and explore 
that pivotal area where the light and sky change over the mountain ridge. I felt the charge of 
energy, where air and water meet earth. I felt these elements interacting, inside of me, and all 
around me. 

Additionally, I had greeted the moon and journeyed with sun from the east to the west. 
It's such a trip to know this magical sequence of events is happening each and every day. 
I've included these four studies entitled "A Day with No Name" in show24 at The Front Gallery. I'm 
happy to announce they have sold as a set! Even though the physical records will be leaving me, the memory leaves a powerful imprint. And for that I am so grateful.


Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 7.38.43 AM


“A Day with No Name” Oil on masonite, 2018, 4 x 4 “
Knowing is loving.


Show 23

Show23 at The Front Gallery!

This exhibition focuses a lot on color and light it seems, largely due to the work of this show’s guest artist Jeanne Thurston. The gallery is starting off 2018 with some beautiful art and new innovative ideas! My first painting of the year “Impermanence” seeks to merge experiences of the landscape on a farm with my own internal landscape exploring emotional and physical healing. 

We have to break open in order to let the light enter.

45488403-236F-466D-8941-920C5296EFB3Sculpture by Hasso Ewing, color paintings on Beehive Bars on panel by guest artist Jeanne Thurston, installation view by Janet Van Fleet, and wall mural by Michelle Lesnak. 
Collage by Deluxe Unlimited, and oil painting by me, Lydia Gatzow

hunger mountain

Just hung some paintings at the natural health food store in Montpelier, Vermont!!!
This work will be exhibited for the month of January, 2018 in the art cafe of the store. Hours are 8AM-8PM daily!
623 Stone Cutters Way in Montpelier, Vermont
All work is for sale. 30% of proceeds will go towards The Good Heart Farmstead where I am currently yurt living, farming, and painting. Check them out as well! They are offering spring, summer, and fall CSA shares. 
PS Hunger Mountain is one of the peaks in the Worcester Range, which has been a huge source of inspiration for me on the farm. 


“Field Studies” At Hunger Mountain Coop