Home is on my mind these days

finding a way back home / 12 x 24 / watercolor

Painted on cradleboard and ready to hang with no framing necessary

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I have been working on a new series of small, multimedia domestic scenes and still lifes. Home is on my mind these days.

Sometime in the spring or early summer, I will move away to a new, and yet unknown, home. Change brings so many emotions and for me, my emotional life rules my art life. I'm not resisting. I am accepting the transition in both of my worlds.

My home is changing and that is changing my work. I don't necessarily want that...but change is here. It's good and bad, clear and complicated, simple and impossible, frightening and exciting. Everything at once and all together. It is what it is.

You can't be afraid to change.  You can't grow if you don't change.  You can't become the best version of yourself if you are afraid to change.  This is true in life.

This is also true in art, although most artists will say you must always do what you are known for...I say HAH!  I, like most artists, am essentially known for commenting on life/my life/life-in-general through my art.  Life changes and so do my comments.  Sometimes I am happy with how things are and sometimes I need a new dress to set things right.  And sometimes I need a new art idea to say it right.

Take a look around the website and you will see some new ideas and ways emerging in my art.  I am happy that I am not afraid to let the changes happen.  I hope you will be too.

Home is on my mind.  Old home, new home, lost home, found home.  Things are what they used to be but something I don't recognize after 60 years of getting it just right.  OK.  Whatever.  I can change the way I tell my story and create my new home out of what I have and what I am and what I know to be true.

complications of the heart

I believe in the better day. There are lots of reasons to refuse to believe in the better day. I know that. But, I choose to believe that all will be well…and so far, that has worked just fine for me. I have my eyes set on the horizon and my heart filled with faith.

It is spring...the time of renewal. I believe I will be renewed. I have to. I must.

I am filling my vegetable bed with fresh organic soil and having faith it will produce. I don't need to sit and watch it grow, just do my best to tend it and believe.

The daffodils are blooming. I saw a Robin today. My blueberry bushes are alive with buds. I can smell the new day and taste the possibilities in the air.

I believe in the better day. I just have to.

at Miss Rita's house, a poem about Monhegan


11 x 17 Watercolor Print.  Click image for larger preview.

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Those who follow my work, know I have a special love for Maine. I have painted many summers on Monhegan Island which is 13 miles out to sea. It is a whole different world. One summer, I stayed at Miss Rita’s house.

Miss Rita is one of the oldest residents, born and raised, as they say. It is a wonderful spot in a wonderful place. Her house sits on the gravel road just up from the ferry, just across from the Island Inn.

 I couldn't help but think of her and her life while I stayed there in her house.  Monhegan is a place both isolated and complete.  There is very little there and everything you need.  It is easy to be happy on that piece of earth.

Thank you to Miss Rita for sharing with me.  I had the time of my life and wish you all good things and many years more.



Miss Rita’s House on Monhegan. Deborah Cavenaugh

At Miss Rita’s house, cotton batiste aprons hang in kitchen windows, 

bleached white, starched crisp and stitched by hand,

they find their second life and new stories to tell of kitchens now and then on Monhegan.

At Miss Rita’s house, watercolor paints spill across kitchen cabinets.

Colors in every hue wait for my hands

to create a little line and tell a little story of the peace and beauty that is Monhegan.

At Miss Rita’s house, Bear, the cat, sounds at the kitchen door.

Soft grey and blazing white, he looks for a way in, and finding my open door,

his story’s in mine now of the home away from home that is Monhegan

At Miss Rita’s house, memories surround.

I think of her in this kitchen ninety years and more,

hands moving in the rhythm of a chop and stir.

She kept her home fires burning in her life that is Monhegan.

At Miss Rita’s house, the sea rocks close.

Whales swim out the window.

Way out on this rock, she’s made a daily life for ninety years and more.

I, pilgrim, come for salvation and the hope of renewal that is Monhegan

“once more and again”

on, on, on I sail this ship of tattered dreams / 17 x 14 / watercolor mixed medium

17 x 14

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All hearts seek a song of home. Now there are many meanings of home and as many ways to find this place we all seek. We search for where we belong and where we can be the best version of ourselves. We search for a place of love and harmony. We search for a place of acceptance and belonging. We search for a place to grow and thrive. We search for a place that sings home to our hearts. We want to find our place that represents our personal sense of home.

For some, there is the simple love of the place from which you came or the family who brought you up. For others, it’s the discovery of where you feel “right” or where your heart belongs. It's different for all of us and the same for all of us, as well.

All hearts sing the song of home. So does mine. Soon I am off on a journey to discover my home place…once again.

I am expecting good things.  I am expecting a certain harmony for my heart as it sings its sony of home.

first, you must believe in your dreams

first you must believe in your dreams / 9 x 11 / watercolor

9 x 11

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I am powering up. I’m choosing to put aside, for now, thinking about the things that just aren’t working. I am choosing to power up where I can make things happen. I am willing to change. I am willing to get moving. I am willing to think about myself in the world in a new way.

I am powering up and taking action where action can be taken. I am letting the things and pieces that I can't affect go...for the moment.

Searching for the way brings the way to you. Asking for the way brings the way to you. Believing in the way opens your eyes to the door.

These are the days to make the changes that must be made and get up and power up and make whatever you can make happen, happen!  I am carrying on.


When you're ready, you will fly. That is the truth of it. You have to be ready to live the life you truly desire. You have to be strong and courageous. You must be undaunted and unafraid of the obstacles. You have to get ready...and when you are, you will fly. There's no doubt about it! I see life as this great and never-ending story. A chapter book! And, like any good book, the story grows and expands and surprises you when you least expect it

When I was 40, the chapter was about divorce and loss of identity and not knowing what to do next. Now, at almost 60, I am artist and writer and so many other things that I never was at 40, things I couldn’t even imagine being. Who knew? Certainly not me.

I can’t wait to turn the page and see life’s next twist. I often always like them, I must admit, but in the “one thing leads to another” part of life, if I don’t let life shut me down, well then, it can’t.

I guess what I am saying is don’t be fearful of a twist in your plot. Read on. You could fall through the rabbit hole and land on your feet!

“here I belong to me”

I am believing the way will be made - 24 x 24 - watercolor

painted on cradleboard and ready to hand - no framing required


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There is a longing only the sea can fill. I have returned and returned to this theme in my work--the woman on the island of her own making down by the sea, where everything seems possible. We all live the life of our own creation, one way or the other. I’m not saying you created the economy or weather. I’m saying you created your life. You decided how it would work, what you would do, what you would accept. You decide if you will smile today or only see the half-full glass. All that is only up to you.

A great truth is that we have the power, always, to dream a new life.

By the sea, I feel like I belong to myself. By the sea, we feel free and all our dreams seem likely. It is a place of possibility and longing and dreams. The sea brings this out for me and for so many of us. I think that’s why we struggle to get there so we can plop down and stare at the endless possibilities it represents.

The woman in my paintings is never unhappy or bored or sad. She loves the life she lives. And, why not? It is, after all, her own dream. Yet, she always knows there is more to the world than just her own island. And yes, she sometimes does have a longing for something that she isn't even sure what to call. But that’s ok.  The longing is the fodder of new dreams….

“it all works together for good”

Everything I do is informed by my belief that life is beautiful, there is always goodness, you can have peace. Where else to start but in your own home? When I was much younger, I went to a New Year's Day Meditation for World Peace in a church in my hometown, Washington, DC. As I sat in silence and candlelight, I felt way too small and way too young to figure out, even for a moment, how to meditate for something as large as peace in the entire world. It came to me, as I sat there, that the best way to practice such an intention, was to be vigilant about peace in my own home.

I grew up in a poor and very unpeaceful environment where fear was my most frequent emotion. I remember a day, a particularly bad day, in my childhood when something inside of me awakened. I stood and declared that my children would never endure what my brothers and myself endured. They haven't.

Making choices for peace in your own home can be hard. Home is where we vent and let it out. But, that’s not fair. There are lots of ways to let it go without letting it go in the one place where everyone deserves to feel safe and know peace.

“there is a season”

I've done that long enough / 9 x 12 / mixed medium watercolor

9 x 12

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To everything there is a season. I know this to be true now more than anytime in my life. Change is all around. It may be for the good, or it may be for the bad. No matter. Most things are largely out of our control most of the time. We do, however, get to control how we think about it. Will we choose to be happy and go forward?

Will we choose to see possibilities and not just impossibilities?

Will we remember to be grateful for all the beauty and wonder and blessings that even the hardest of times cannot take away from us?

Will we hold on to the truth that no matter the trial, the essential you cannot be taken away?

Hold on to the good you have today. Push from your thinking that which you don't control. Focus on a hopeful tomorrow. Live in the good stuff... it makes every day easier.

the souvenir tree

Remembrance / 6 x 8 / torn paper mosaic

to frame, first have the art mounted on paper and let the raw edges show  -- a great effect

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At our house, we call our Christmas Tree the Souvenir Tree. Every year since my children were born, I have given them an ornament that relates to their life that year. Some are pretty funny and some just make my heart soar. Once they got old enough, they started doing the same for me. Our tradition is to put the person's initial and the year somewhere discreet on the ornament. It adds an element when we remember. And, when I travel, I collect a little something to add to the tree...a small bronze Eiffel Tower, a tiny carved red Danish horse, an itsy wooden Maine lobster boat, and so forth. I also add things I have saved to the tree like a ribbon from my baby shower 24 years ago, a tiny Santa from my son's first stocking, a little bear that was hanging on my daughters hospital bassinet, and the like. Putting up that tree is some experience, I'll tell you. I cherish every ornament and every memory. Last year, when we took the tree down, my daughter, Lani, who is 23 and lives in Washington, DC, packed her ornaments up and took them home for her own Souvenir Tree. I will miss them. But, I still have all the memories of good and happy times that they represent. And, long after I am gone, my daughter and her daughter and her daughter's daughter will gently unwrap the memories the Souvenir Tree holds.

Christmas 2010
Christmas 2010

I guess what I am trying to get to is this...many things come and go. Life is always going on--the good and the not so good. At some level though, all of it is precious. I can say with pretty much certainty that, even on the worst day of my life with my loved ones, there will surely come a time in the future when I would give anything for just five minutes back there...on that worst day...with them. Make a space for happiness, and it will find you!