A little over a year ago, when I attended last year's Illinois Art Education Association's annual conference, I purchased a sketchbook. The idea was to pass the sketchbook around to people in other states and countries to see what the sketchbook could become through collaboration. I fully intended to participate in the project but I did it a bit differently. I had not been too active in my studio in 2010 and thought the sketchbook would give me just the right kick in the butt to get working, without the pressure of producing something big. I decided to fill the sketchbook from cover to cover and to even create art on the covers. This image, "Persephone's Landscape" is a collage from the inside back cover of the little black sketchbook which measures about 5" x 8 1/2". I'd say I've worked in this particular sketchbook for at least six months straight and I've made about 40 images. I've worked some and reworked others while a few were cut out and turned into small paintings on board. There is something I really like about the intimacy of a sketchbook that you can pick up and work with anywhere or even work on your lap. I wanted to share "Persephone's Landscape" today because, as Goddess of the Underworld, she holds court during winter, which is the time she is in that particular sphere. I see her world as being lively, mysterious and hauntingly beautiful. Most of all, it is very full of life. My mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, great grandmother and many aunts, uncles, as well as a few cousins have passed on. In dreams, my mother shares her goings on in the next world. She seemed very upset and confused in those first years when she passed; trying to make her way but now she is content. I get the most visits in dreams from her. We were very close and I miss her dearly, especially around the holidays. She loved the holidays and when she died in October she already had hidden numerous presents in the trunk of her car for Christmas. I miss my father, who made his passage on St. Valentine's Day and all of my beloved relatives as well. This is a bittersweet time of the year that we try to make things merry and bright but if we are in tuned, it can be a very dark time in more ways than one.