Click on any article to have access to all articles ranging from 2005 to present

And Then There was Tropical Storm Nate

I have no idea if there is news about what happened in Costa Rica a few days ago. Costa Rica generally doesn’t get much press.  In the U.S., there is news about Venezuela, yes.  But what is there to talk about with Costa Rica? No oil and it’s small and...

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An Enlightened Mango Tree

My favorite mango tree is now wearing an array of warm glowing lights. With the flip of a switch it becomes lighted. But it has always been enlightened….. This tree has been a beautiful reminder and witness to all the magical as well as tragic events in my...

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So You Need a New Website?

Way way back twenty years ago I built my own first website using the Dreamweaver program accompanied by a book, ‘Dreamweaver for Dummies”  by Janine Warner, 1995. janhart.com.  I started alone, completely crashed it all three times and then was accompanied...

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A Will and a Way – The Videos

August, 2017 Always in the back of my mind was the idea of doing some watercolor videos. But after I moved to Costa Rica I kind of put the thought away. After all – I settled in the southern zone of Costa Rica - far away and over the Cerro del Muerte...

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So You Want to Learn Watercolor in 2017?

After receiving three separate emails asking for some advice on learning to paint with watercolor, I am doing what I always do when something happens as a part of three. I pay attention. So here's how I suggest you begin to learn to paint with watercolor. ...

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So What is Good About a One Hour Watercolor Sketch?

July, 2017 When the hour was up and my beer was finished, I realized that I’d just had a blissful Right- Brained experience. Though I couldn’t remember it, I knew it had happened because of the peace and the calm that I felt. I had very little memory of...

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A Book Reading

June 30, 2017 I accepted the invitation by Carol Vaughn of Carol’s Costa Rica Club – to present a few words and read from my recently published book, A Woman Awakens: Life, AfterLife. And there I was – surrounded by twenty-five friends and fellow ExPats as...

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The Intensives that Were, 2017

2017 was a year that began in disarray. Personal upheavals seemed to parallel the political ones. I had scheduled four Intensives for the first four months of the year – and suddenly, plans were changing nearly as fast as the US political rhetoric.

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Are You Planning to Buy Any of the New Paints?

A Facebook post from Daniel Smith Watercolor Paints caught my eye. Introducing 8 NEW Watercolors! New paints? Exciting news for artists - and the link offered even more enticing names and expressive descriptions. Having been a long time customer and...

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The One Hour Watercolor Sketch with a Beer

Completing a watercolor sketch with a beer, in an hour may just be a way to wake up a dozing Muse or enliven a painting spirit! As a watercolor artist who has been painting and teaching for over thirty five years, I will admit to knowing quite a lot about...

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A Case Moth Visit

I almost stepped on it, thinking it was a dried leaf. Glancing down I noticed small bits of green that seemed to be attached to whatever it was. Measuring about four inches long, conical in shape with several green short stems attached to one end of the...

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And a Hearing Aid Appeared

Finally, after getting no answer at the security gate in front of Clinica Dinamarca, I called on my cell phone. A petite Tica (Costa Rican woman) emerged from a building at the end of the block and waved me towards her. As is often the case here in Costa...

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Jan’s Muse is Back – Newest Paintings, 2016

My Muse is Back My appreciation of and enthrallment with color is helping me to see again. Look again. For nearly two years the colors have been more somber as I felt my way through the deep grief of losing Frank. The first Intensive in December began the...

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On Painting White Light and Night

I am always startled by the white object in the landscape. Suddenly – there it is! And just as suddenly I am thinking about light – and composition, a different perspective, color ideas, etc. It all happens so fast that sometimes the moment passes before...

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Dancing Stroke Demo

Dancing Stroke Demo – A closer view of the process Lets take a look at the step by step process I use to paint the background using my favorite photo of the blue leaves. I tape off in order to isolate the upper right hand corner of the photo. Then, as I...

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A Family Painting Intensive

June 2016 The Family Painting Intensive began as an email enquiry - and we all jumped in! The family: Nancy Rottle, Landscape Architect and professor at the University of Washington Paul Olson, Architect who I worked with years ago in Eugene, Oregon after...

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An Unexpected Healing

It seemed like a convergence of just one too many difficult events – each one vying for my attention and time. Set against the backdrop of the angry fervor of US Presidential Primary season it seemed almost like an extension of the fear and panic energy....

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Anniversary of the Heart

The holiest of all holidays are those Kept by ourselves in silence and apart; The secret anniversaries of the heart. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Frank is on my mind a lot these days – March 10 this year marks the second year anniversary of his passing. I...

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The Dancing Stroke

My use of what I call the ‘dancing stroke’ began its evolution when I moved to Costa Rica seven+ years ago. Everywhere I looked there were strokes of shapes - leaves – layers and layers of leaves. Coming from New Mexico, surrounded by light and...

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A Story of a Rescue

November 2015 The day before New Year's Eve, Frank and I decided to stop by a shelter run by a Tica Veterinarian, Dra. Milena to look at dogs that needed rescue. It had been in my mind for awhile thinking that Seurat would enjoy a pal. We'd tried a few...

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Choosing How You See It

July 2015 Turning off the water, I glanced up to the square window above the sink and just stopped to take a longer look in the morning almost light. I had been thinking about Frank and how I missed him. My eyes traced the patterns and edges of the tangled...

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When it Rained, It Poured

June, 2015 It was time to shore up the eroding slope in front of my house - and extend my front yard. High on the mountain, the Prince of Peace watched over the valley On Tuesday, June 2 our ‘Prince of Peace’ statue that stood high on a rock at the...

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Grief Leaves Demo, Step by Step

June, 2015 One of my favorite subjects to paint in Costa Rica are the blue leaves that line the highway along the southern Pacific coastline. Whenever someone says to me that I must get tired of painting green in Costa Rica, I think about these leaves -...

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Addicted No More

I arrived in Costa Rica in 2008, addicted. Unlike addiction to heroin or cocaine, my addiction was socially acceptable and even proudly proclaimed. I was part of up to 70% of north Americans who are addicted to sugar. I have beat my addiction – but mostly...

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Painting Demo: Gentle White Cow

March, 2015 I had the exhilarating pleasure of hosting a group of three women who previously were unknown to me or each other for a five day Painting Intensive at my place! Such a great time! On the third day they wanted to learn how to paint a white...

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Life, AfterLife

February, 2015 It was the end of February, and just a couple of weeks from the anniversary date I was both looking forward to as well as dreading – the year anniversary of Frank’s death that happened so suddenly on March 10 2014. On this particular day I...

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A Morning Walk that Changed Everything

November 2014 I woke with a heavy heart. Eight plus months since Frank passed and still, there are mornings when I wake to see nothing to look forward to and nothing to be appreciating. I can change my viewpoint, but it takes a lot of effort. I was just...

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My Pura Vida Tico Family

The people of Costa Rica call themselves Ticos, an affectionate nickname originally derived from the diminutive suffix ic. The term, Gringos is not quite as uniformly affectionate, but in and of itself is not derogatory and is widely used in Costa Rica for...

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Sage’s Morning Out

October 18, 2014 It was Sunday morning. Slow. Quiet. No plans. Perfect. After making coffee and feeding the animals I made my way to my computer thinking I’d continue where I left off yesterday on Chapter 22. Suddenly – a loud bang!...

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Moving Forward

Moving Forward – 5 Months After Sunday, August 10 marks five months since Frank passed. I am moving forward which means I've come to understand Frank's presence in my life in a new and different way. Some days are still painful and others are beautifully...

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Butterflies and Moths

I woke early, near 4 a.m. and knew immediately that it was an anniversary morning – six months from that indelible morning when my life changed more deeply, more profoundly than any other life event I'd experienced. Frank did not wake up that morning. The...

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Be An Eagle

Flash, my valiant and brave African Senegal parrot passed away silently during the night a little while ago. He wasn't ill and was in very good spirits the evening before – even lowering his head for me to gently rub – our usual way to interact...

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Frank’s House at Casa de Corazon

The house began in lively conversation and two pieces of paper with a pencil in Frank's hand and a pen in mine at my kitchen table. Our combination of abilities worked beautifully - my expertise and training in architecture and Frank's spatial abilities...

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A Difficult Day of Grief, April 14th, 2014

6 weeks after Frank's death Today was my most difficult grief day so far – 6 weeks after Frank passed. The darkened clouds gathered early in the morning – and the day went along – cloudy and somber. It was feria day (market day) and I found I was feeling...

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One Month and the Kitchen is Too Tidy

Woke up feeling the enormity of the date. April 10, 2014 The 10th. One month ago, on March 10 Frank passed in the early morning hours. I still have not put his clothes away or thought what I will do with them, really. I know that will come. But not quite...

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Frank’s Passing

I heard Frida's single bark sometime around 4 in the morning and I responded with a quick, 'Quiet, Frida'...   I didn't want her to wake Frank. This was to be the first day of my week long Costa Rica workshop and as I turned over, readjusted my pillows and...

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Costa Rica Custom Tour with Francisco

February 2014 Written by Claudia Michael after the workshop with Jan in Costa Rica, February, 2014. I had a wonderful customized three and a half days with EcoTico Tours aka Francisco. Day 1 We drove to Arenal and stayed at the cleanest B&B owned by...

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The Ornamental Christmas Tree

On Christmas Eve, 2013 Mike Owens, my eldest son was thinking about sending an ecard out to his family and friends - all far away. Upon seeing this image of a bare tree with ornaments, standing alone in the snowy night - he started to write what he...

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Sea Biscuit on Christmas Eve

Twas the night before Christmas and all through my little Tico house Frank and I looked for the ‘just right’ classic ‘feel good’ movie to watch…  My collection of DVDs didn’t include It’s a Wonderful Life or The Miracle on 34th Street, so we took a quick...

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Beyond Coincidence

Years ago New Mexico opened my eyes and life to the magic, the mysterious, the unexplainable. There in that rarified place my spirit came alive. What other explanation for the transformation that began over 20 years ago in the high desert of The Land of...

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Some Thoughts about Life Rescue in Costa Rica

It feels a lot like I washed up on a Costa Rican shore on Christmas Eve, having barely survived a shipwreck. Perhaps a bit dramatic, but the shipwreck was real. It was 2008 and I'd survived medical bankruptcy, a resistant staph infection in my spine,...

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Fixing a Wayward Watercolor – Demo

In my workshops I always tell my students that if they truly have a painting that they are positive cannot be fixed, I will be happy to take it and demonstrate the idea that nothing is 'unfixable'. In Cloudcroft, New Mexico a student handed me a painting...

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The Power of One Little Bird

Beak is a half moon conure I've had for 10+ years. Most everyone who meets him loves him - because he is terminally upbeat. And noisy. I found him one Sunday morning on the floor of the aviary - walking. He wasn't able to fly - or walk well. His right wing...

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Life Lessons From My Brush

I was still debating in my mind about what to paint for the first Cloudcroft workshop demo. In a few minutes my 15 students would gather in front of the mirror to watch – and I quickly settled on the colorful scarlet macaw. Rather than paint the more...

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Just Enough

For as long as I can remember money has been one of the most important relationships in my life. I'm pretty sure I've paid as much attention to money as I have to any other relationship. I'm not proud of it. But maybe I'm getting better at putting...

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The Magpie Funeral Part 1

I was in the third row surrounded by fellow zoology and biology students. We were listening to Professor Garrett Hardin lecture about conscious awareness in animals. He said something to the effect that there was no scientific evidence that animals other...

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The Magpie Funeral Part 2

Long after my New Mexico experience with the magpies and crows and their raucous death watch over one of my pigeons, I carried the memory of the event with me and continued to wonder. Had I witnessed animal consciousness in the crows and magpies that...

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Jan and Frank Get Married

Since 2012 is the year I turn 70, I wanted to have a party. It just seemed right to celebrate those decades, and 70 seemed really celebratory. Frank and I talked about various scenarios and my great friend, Linda made a few suggestions, too. Simultaneously...

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Drone Attack or Natural Wonder?

Last night I was getting ready for bed when I heard a thump against my living room window. First I thought it was a bird - but at night? A bat? But bats don't crash...they have sonar! I decided to investigate. I was startled when I opened the door to see...

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Morning Shower and Unintentionality

I began this morning with what is becoming a ritual - walking outside just at sunrise to shower in my new outdoor stone shower aka Accidental Altar. It was still dark outside as I turned the dials still trying to figure out how to get the right mix of hot...

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What To Do When Your Best Friend Flies

Sage is a parrot and one of my best friends and closest companions in this life. He was born in captivity in 2005 and I got him from a favorite pet store in Santa Fe., New Mexico. Together we endured his fledgling-hood and 'terrible twos' and forged a...

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A Three Toad Night

Thud-up I heard it and woke from a sound sleep. In the dim light I looked to Seurat, my sweet Blue Healer/Bassett hound-friend lying on the sheet at the foot of my bed, his head resting on my ankles. With eyes open, he looked attentive but unconcerned. I...

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Managing the Ride

Part I: Returning from a Bumpy Ride Our plane touched down at SJO at 1 pm. And we made our way through familiar lines and aimed towards home. It had been a combined business pleasure trip for me – teaching and family gathering. For Frank, a Canadian who...

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A Lesson from the Ticos

On Friday morning, June 19, I hoped to get an early start to the Osa from my place - but even starting at 5 a.m., I wasn't finally packed until 10 a.m. I put the little paintings I had done in a box and into my car, along with luggage and paint supplies...

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Occupy Your Life

The Occupy movement is alive, credible and growing in the United States and the world. International in scope, the Occupy movement began just a few months ago in New York City, followed by San Francisco. A few weeks later the protests had spread to 95...

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Getting Back to Now

I pulled a red plastic chair nearer to the edge of my 'infinity deck' and sat down to look out over the city. There was San Isidro below with city lights getting brighter as the tropical evening made its startlingly sudden switch to night. It was Christmas...

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Learning to Let Go Again

I've much to say but not much time or willingness to say it. I find myself overwhelmed, but continuing to move along bit by bit. Probably I bit off more than I could chew (and those of you who know me well are nodding your heads) – and find myself stepping...

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Remove the Packaging Please

I didn't realize I lived under layers of insulating comfort and illusion in New Mexico. I didn't foresee that moving to Costa Rica in December 2008 would start a process of layer removal much like a snake wriggling out of its old, no longer useful skin. I...

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