Finding Beauty Close to Home, by Jean Mackay

The late-November sun casts long shadows, even at high noon. Russet leaves still hang on the oaks, though the maple and walnut and birch are bare. The stream alongside the driveway runs blue and black and cold as it makes its way past the house and through the woods beyond. I am grateful every day to live here.

My husband and I moved to this rural property in upstate New York from a suburban “Main Street” just a few months ago. Surrounded by farm fields, overgrown meadow, and woodlands, we felt at home the moment we pulled into the driveway with our realtor. We were looking for a place to care about and care for; a place where our family could gather together; a place to sink down roots again after a job-related upheaval shifted us away from New York State and back again within the span of a few years.

As an artist and naturalist, this is also a place where I will find years of inspiration– discovering, learning, and painting the beauty and variety of my own backyard. As you can see from these selected journal pieces, there is no shortage of subjects.


This is the first time since I began keeping an artist journal more than 20 years ago that I am living in a place where there is so much natural diversity and beauty. Going farther afield to find more wild places has long been a necessary part of my sketching routine. Now, I am eager to be home.

I am especially excited to see how things will change and unfold over the course of the year. Already, the moths by the porch light have disappeared; the meadow has gone from yellow to brown; once-hidden songbird nests have revealed themselves; and, soon, a blanket of snow will whiten bare branches. A lifetime of blank journal pages are ready to be filled.

— Jean Mackay
Drawn In, www.jeanmackayart.com

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18 thoughts on “Finding Beauty Close to Home, by Jean Mackay

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  1. I’m so happy for you, having all that you love so much closer by now. I’m in a suburban apartment myself currently, but hoping for a move to a more rural setting next year. At least around here the wilder corners are not far away. A beautiful, happy-making post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very inspriring paintings, Jean! This sounds like such an idylic life, and and I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful art!

    Thank you for finding another very talented soul to share with us on your magnificent blog, Liz! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am in awe of people with artistic skills and the pages from your journal that you have shared are simply amazing–they do such a wonderful job of capturing the beauty of the natural world in a distinctive and appealing way. I am equally drawn to your infectious enthusiasm and almost childlike excitement about how things will change over time. I absolutely love your final sentence–“A lifetime of blank journal pages are ready to be filled.” Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

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