A Time for Nesting

This past year I took a break from writing and painting. Since opening my first studio in 1973, ten months is the longest I have gone without a paintbrush in hand. My time was spent capturing moments in nature, visiting museums and botanical gardens, adding finishing touches to the cottage, gardening, and collecting healthy recipes. A time for nesting, as a dear friend put it. I think she is right-on, along with gathering inspiration for this year’s creative projects.

2-20-SAMural.jpgIn July, friends/clients emailed a photo taken on a recent trip to South Africa. They had been on a tour of the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park when the bus stopped, the guide directed everyone to look at The Big Old Man Tree. The tree was larger than most in the area but certainly not as big as a Sequoia, my friends wondered what the big deal was. After looking at their photo they began laughing. Others on the tour were curious about the laughter, no one had noticed anything unusual – not until they saw the photo.


My clients asked, “Can you paint it for us?”

Challenges have always intrigued me and I love an unusual project. At the end of September, my car was loaded and I began a relaxing drive cross-country. This mural was a lot of fun and so were my clients, as always! Oh, while I was painting, I was watched over by Troggins. Here he is after his morning hike. In upcoming newsletters, I look forward to sharing other murals I painted on this trip.



As I was planning my trip to Colorado I saw a post from a friend on Facebook telling of the upcoming Monet exhibit in Denver. Amazingly, the Denver Art Museum’s website showed only one Friday in October with tickets available, I didn’t think twice about ordering.

The Denver Art Museum was the only museum in the United States to have the honor of sharing over 125 original paintings by Claud Monet. “Claud Monet: The Truth of Nature.”

The opportunity to see so many historically important paintings by one renowned artist in one location in my life-time was rare. The exhibit nourished my soul. Experiencing these works only a few inches away from my eyes was truly moving. You could almost feel Monet’s brush as he struggled relentlessly to finish before the lighting changed and the beauty of the moment lost. From the headphones, you could hear authentic historical lessons as if you were on a well-organized trip to the late 19th and early 20th-century world of Monet.

The Denver Art Museum’s Monet pieces were enriched with originals from lenders located in 15 different countries around the world. “The Truth of Nature” gave a peek into Monet’s creative development. It began with ”View from Rouelles,” painted in 1858 at the age of 18-years-old through the abundance of pieces created at his house and gardens in Giverny, France, where he lived until his death in 1926. I intentionally chose the paintings to follow as those I felt few would recognize as Monet paintings.

View from Rouelles, Le Havre, Claud Monet

Monet was fascinated by the way the light changed a scene. The exhibit included several series of paintings of the same scene painted at different times of the day. It was fascinating to see the differences in his color palettes. Few artists of his time could capture light as Monet.

The Port of Le Havre, Night Effect, Claud Monet

Painting the white of winter landscapes was not common in that era. Considering the number of winter scenes on display, Monet must have found snow mesmerizing – the subtleness of peach, pink, lavender, blue, and cool greys reflecting from the sky seemed to bounce off the snow capturing the transformation of shapes and color. This striking series was quite a departure from his many landscapes and the gardens of Giverny. Seeing this exhibit was truly an awe-inspiring experience.

The Frost, Claud Monet


In Georgia, signs of Spring arrived early again this year. Forsythia could be seen in late January with their brilliant yellow flowers lined up in rows along their sprawling stems. These bell-shaped blossoms precede the leaves allowing an unobstructed view of their brilliance. I also spotted the cutest little daffodils blooming around the base of a neighbors mailbox. They certainly brightened my mornings as I headed to my studio.

Late spring of last year found me returning from visiting family in Indiana, lily of the valley filling half my trunk. Eight huge beautiful clumps dug from my big-hearted sister’s bountiful flower beds. Oh my, the rich black soil of Indiana. It took only a few minutes to dig, well, probably twenty. I only mention this because the following photo shows the tools needed to plant those sweet luscious plants in beautiful, lush, humid Georgia. Need I mention Georgia clay with gravel? The first hole took me 45 minutes with a shovel. A neighbor stopped by. When she noticed the hair framing my face was drenched and sweat pouring down my face, stinging my eyes, looking as if I had been caught in a sudden spring downpour she said, “I have a pick” and she grinned. She bought her pick when she moved into the area. The next hole I dug in less than half the time but it got way easier after I called my grandson. His comment was, “Gramma, you should have called sooner.” This year it would behoove me to do as I’ve been told.


The two white dogwood trees planted a year ago this past fall offered a season of glory – if you consider green, robust leaves glorious, and I do. The tree outside my bedroom window did grace me with two delicate white blossoms last spring. The other had no blooms. After the sweltering heat of our Georgia summer, it looked as though the little lovely outside my bedroom window may have bit the dust. Each morning I make my rounds in the yard to see what surprises might be forthcoming but only the white dogwood tree at the edge of the woods, across from the screened porch, has buds. The tree outside my bedroom window – well, suffice it to say the prospect of leaves or blossoms is not looking good.


“To be interested in the changing of season

is a happier state of mind than 

to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
—George Santayana, Philosopher

Thank you for being a part of my artful life.


15 comments to A Time for Nesting

  • david borden

    Great to see this newsletter. In the Monet exhibition, they told how paintings were first done on wood, then canvas. They would start with all white. Then paint with, not solid, but luminescent paint. That way, light appeared to come from within the painting.

    • Mickey

      Thanks for adding further comments about the Monet exhibit, Dave. From my personal perspective, it spurred many ideas for things to try in my painting and different ways of looking at my art. So glad you decided to go! Loved hearing your take-away.

  • Diana Love

    Beautifully written Mickey. We also enjoyed the Monet exhibit! It inspired Chuck in many ways, much to his surprise.
    Your life sounds peaceful and creative.
    Best wishes to you!

  • Mickey

    Hi Diana, I always enjoy reading your comments. I probably had a lot more take-aways than Chuck, he is such an incredibly accomplished artist. It’s so nice you could both get away to see the exhibit. And yes, I do love my peaceful and soon to be creative life. 😉

  • Mickey

    Mary Ahern
    Feb 23, 2020, 1:51 PM (2 days ago)

    I loved this newsletter but even more I love seeing and hearing what you’ve been up to.
    So happy that you seem to be settling in and feeling more like making art. Though by the way, as my slogan says, My Art Starts in the Garden.

    Have fun creating your new garden. I call mine my gym workout.

    Hi Mary,
    One day I hope to have a garden big enough to call my time there a workout. 😉 However, the pick and shovel episode I do consider a workout but it might kill me to do that too many days in a row.

    Look forward to seeing your next beautiful florals! Thanks for letting me know you like the newsletter.

  • Mickey

    Julie Beth
    Sun, Feb 23, 1:54 PM (2 days ago)

    Hey Mickey,
    SO ENJOYED your newsletter. You have a gift for writing.
    Loved the pictures, too. Had to chuckle about your “digging” experience. Gosh, maybe the Colorado clay isn’t as bad as the GA soil !!! I don’t even own a pick.
    Right now all my gardens are covered in snow. Lots in February.
    Good to hear from you.

    Hey Julie!

    Oh my, when I think of my minute garden compared to yours, I have to laugh. I cannot imagine how many hours you spend tending your beautiful flower beds and the paths weaving through them. Thanks your comments! Big hugs to you and Robrt.

  • Mickey

    Cheryl L.
    Sun, Feb 23, 4:31 PM (2 days ago)

    Love hearing from you Mickey! Always enjoy hearing what you are up to
    or where you are traveling.
    Keep me on your list!

    Hello Cheryl,
    It’s always great to hear from you. Hope all is well in Arizona, thank you for commenting!

  • Mickey

    Debbie E
    Sun, Feb 23, 5:38 PM (2 days ago)

    Hi Mickey!

    So nice to hear from you and read your newsletter! Wish we could have gotten together on your visit to Colorado, perhaps next time. I agree with you, the Monet Exhibit was fabulous and mesmerizing! Truly an experience!

    Did you get another dog? We all still miss Bailey every day. Hard to believe it has been a year & a half since her passing.

    Sending you my best & warm hug,

    D E

    Hi Debbie,

    How nice you and Doug went to the Monet Exhibit. It was quite an experience. I think of you and Bailey often and how Bella and I enjoyed our walks. Bailey was one of the few dogs Bella would tolerate, she could be such a little snob. 😉 I haven’t gotten another dog, maybe someday.

    I will let you know the next time I come to Colorado, we’ll get together and catch up. Virtual hugs coming your way!

  • Mickey

    M W
    On Sun, Feb 23, 2020 at 2:08 PM

    Thank you. Always enjoy your news.

    Howdy neighbor,

    Thanks for reading my little newsletter. I always like you letting me know you enjoyed the read.

  • Mickey

    D D
    Sun, Feb 23, 9:36 PM (2 days ago)

    Mickey dear,
    It’s always so good to hear from you and see your beautiful work and ideas. You are truly a breath of fresh air.
    Love ya’

    • Mickey

      Helloooooo De! Thanks for reading my little newsletter and always saying “Hi” afterward. I am so happy to be a breath of fresh air. Hope you are doing well. As always, I miss you bunches.

  • Mickey

    9:56 AM (10 hours ago)

    Hello Mickey,
    Thank you for the adventurous and uplifting message.
    You are very brave to travel and seek out the wonders of this great country.
    I admire your talent and inner beauty that demonstrates your faith and love for life.
    God has given you a special gift that glorifies Him and provides security for you.
    Peace be with you,

    Hi Susie, thank you for your kind words. It’s nice hearing from old friends who read my little newsletter. You are so right about my love of life. I believe if we are open to the goodness in life, we see the beauty in even the small things around us. I really appreciate you taking the time to write.

    Thanks for being in touch, Mickey

  • Mickey

    Barbara W
    Date: Tue, Feb 25, 2020 12:16 pm
    To: Blog_–_Mickey_Baxter-Spade


    What a wonder-filled voyage you’ve traveled this past year.
    Thanks for sharing it in such an engaging way I felt like I went along with you in the shadows.

    Is your nesting complete?
    Are you ready to lay some eggs?
    What would hatch?

    Sending you spring hugs,


    Hi Barbara, I always love your comments. If I had known you were along I never would have allowed you to stay in the shadows, dear one. I have to say that I doubt my nest will ever be complete-one of the fun things of having a nest, you know. A few eggs are incubating. What will hatch is still a mystery, aren’t surprises wonderful?!?

    Big hugs to you!

  • Charlotte B
    12:05 PM (10 hours ago)


    Thank you for this lovely e mail and you do great work! Enjoyed seeing the paintings.

    It is such a blessing to have something you love doing to fill the alone time.

    On Sunday, February 23, 2020, 01:43:31 PM EST,

    Hi Charlotte,

    Thank you, again for reading my newsletter and letting me know you liked it. You are so right, I am very blessed to have something to do in alone times – I’m alone but never lonely.

    Blessings, Mickey

  • From: Jennifer H
    Date: March 5, 2020 at 3:07:01 PM EST

    Subject: Re: News from Mickey

    Hi Mickey, I just found this hidden among my junk mail! Your words and pics lifted my spirits and renewed hope that maybe this rain will soon end and spring will be here. Hope to see you soon! Jennifer H

    Hi Jennifer, it’s great to hear from you. So glad I could lift your spirits. Believe it or not after todays downpour we’re supposed to get a break from the rain until Tuesday! I think we are all ready for spring. I have a “tea” shirt that reads “Book – Blanket – Tea. It’s gotten a lot of use this winter. 😉 Thank you so much for commenting.

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