Count you in


Dear Artist,

While examining the perfectly assembled nest of a song sparrow yesterday, my hiking buddy mentioned that her daughter, studying forestry out of state, had been ruminating on the idea of painting landscapes. “Do you think I have what it takes?” she’d asked her mother. “Of course she does,” I said. “Because her love is nature, she needs only to pick up her brush to see where her spirit takes her.”

Untitled (n.d.) Paper by Ann Wood

Untitled, (n.d.)
by Ann Wood

For Mark Lo’s 2021 documentary Count Me In, rock drummers gathered to share their origin stories, while the art forming and artistry of Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Max Roach, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Ringo Starr and others were discussed and cited as universally electrifying and galvanizing. Samantha Maloney, drummer for the bands Hole and Mötley Crüe remembered receiving her calling the first time she banged on a few pots and pans. Each drummer told a similar story; of a dramatic and precipitous moment of recognition while drumming – which informed them of their life’s purpose. While I can’t speak with authority to other passions, art continues to reveal itself as a sledgehammer informant – the anointed person thumped and then invited to apply for their life there.

Untitled, (n.d.) Paper by Ann Woods

Untitled, (n.d.)
by Ann Wood

As artists, we can tell ourselves that the reason for the sledgehammer is because as a job, art is difficult – the sledgehammer merely a taste of thumpings to come. Or maybe it feels like a sledgehammer because art is just, genuinely, way more powerfully fun than other activities. The would-be outdoorsperson painter already understands herself as a person in tune with the environment and capable of bringing attention to it by way of an aesthetic experience. Before asking herself if she has what it takes, she must first embark on the great and arduous quest of discovery to find out what she might uniquely have to say about the natural world, and then develop the ability to do so. Communicating the message skillfully, artistically, effectively, and with influence can then arrive after a few hundred thousand goes at the kick drum and snare.

Botanical Wall, (n.d.) Paper by Ann Wood

Botanical Wall, (n.d.)
by Ann Wood



PS: “An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.” (Ruth Asawa)

Esoterica: Whether avocation or vocation, painting invites itself into your life as a sledgehammer of challenge and pleasure. Art remains accessible to anyone with the desire to summon their own expression from its mysteries. Masters Roger Taylor (Queen), Topper Headon (The Clash), Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz, Carlos Santana), Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Nico McBrain (Iron Maiden) and Stewart Copeland (The Police), as lifers, are still vibrating – foaming, really – when they describe, through mouth beats, hand and foot taps, body sways and face pulls, the all-encompassing joy, and the communicative and connective potential of art. “Passion,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring.”



"I came to nature as a subject because it is universal. We pause to look at a flower, pick up a feather, touch a leaf, or comment to a companion about a particular specimen. Nature’s beauty is fleeting and ever changing in its magnificence. My work speaks to the notion that everything is temporary." (Ann Wood) 

“I came to nature as a subject because it is universal. We pause to look at a flower, pick up a feather, touch a leaf, or comment to a companion about a particular specimen. Nature’s beauty is fleeting and ever changing in its magnificence. My work speaks to the notion that everything is temporary.” (Ann Wood)

You can stream Count Me In on Netflix.

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“A work of art is a corner of nature seen through a temperament.” (Emile Zola)








  1. yes, sara, well done, as usual. your writing, clearly an artform of yours, is such a gorgeous blending of your own voice, your fathers influence, your hard earned wisdom, and the flotsam and jetsam of influences that catch your eye along the way. it’s a joy to read. thank you, once again.

  2. “The writings of Sara Genn meet at the intersection of poetic and informative.”
    – Miles Patrick Yohnke,

    Count me in. I’m a fan of this article. I hadn’t heard of the documentary “Count Me In.” I look forward to watching it. I’ll tell all my ordinary friends that do things in special ways, and because they do, we refer to them as artists. I’d like to introduce you to one of them:

    As always, love is the way,

    Miles Patrick Yohnke

  3. Thank you Sara for your wonderful article. I did read your Dad in there! Such a gift of expression you have! Loved the video….more and more I’m asking “ Who Am I”
    Angela Oliver

  4. Such a lovely article and so well written. It is my instinct to pick up a feather or a fallen leaf and try to express the beauty I see there. I want everyone to see and experience this fleeting fragile beauty. Thankyou for such thoughful phrases. Keep up the good work.

  5. Love your inclusion of Ann Wood’s beautiful artwork….amazing in its simplicity, beauty, craftmanship and detail. My daughter and I previously had a studio near the studio of Ann Wood and her husband Dean Lucker in the Northrup King Art Studio Building in Minneapolis. You can check at more of her work at

  6. Deirdre Ní Argáin on

    Great article. Thank you. The Ruth Asawa quote caught my eye and I revisited her wonderful life’s work.

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No Featured Workshop Flight
oil on canvas
24 x 18 inches

Featured Artist

Essentially I am representational painter, with a real appreciation for the design aspects of abstract art.  By emphasizing strong shape relationships and connecting bands of textural color, I am able to paint the natural world in two dimensional patterns while striving to create interesting three dimensional compositions.  Andrew Wyeth, a realist who has influenced my work, painted very abstract watercolors that helped him explore the possibilities for unusual compositions.  Like him, I value the drama of a strong composition, solid drawing, complex textures, and sumptuous, rich color while attempting to ground the painting’s design in essential, free form shapes.  Past Masters who have shaped my artistic direction are: Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent, Richard Diebenkorn, and the California impressionists. Richard Schmid is a contemporary painter whose instruction has contributed greatly to my ability to capture the light, intimacy, and subtle textures of the hidden landscapes.
I have found painting landscapes in the field to be an adventure of the mind, spirit, and body. It is a personal record of a distinct moment in time that captures an emotional response to a physical reality. Nature is exciting, unforgiving, yet always spiritually rewarding. I am grateful to be able to share this natural beauty with fellow wanderers hoping to discover those special moments.

Robert and Sara Genn Twice-Weekly Letters

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