Thursday, February 27, 2014


Today is my birthday, and I'm officially 39 years old. My father is calling it my "Farewell Tour", as in farewell to the thirties. I'm calling him several other things.

I actually don't mind that I'm 39. I'm 39 years old, and I have been married for 18 years (19 in September.) I have two children, a home, and a career I love. Is there room for growth? Oh, you better believe it. But then, if everything was perfect that would be pretty boring, now don't you think?

Interestingly, Drew Barrymore and I have the exact same birthday. Today, she is 39 and expecting her second child. I have to confess that I have no idea how she's going to do that. I'm exhausted as it is! I cannot imagine having to go through the all-nighters with the little ones, but then I know a lot of people do so. Maybe it's the teenagers I have now, maybe they're exhausting me more than a baby would.

Anyway, it's always interesting to see someone with the exact same birthday and see what point they are in their lives in contrast to your own. Different choices you could have made, a different path to wander down.

I rather like the path I've chosen to wander, personally. And so, I welcome 39 and I'm not even a little bit fearful about 40. Although, I need to make an eye appointment because I think my eyesight turned 65 last month. Other than that? I'm happy to be here!

...with triple chocolate cake, of course!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Exercise

I'm in the process of a sort of deep clean and reorganization of my life. It started with my studio, as I said before, and I admit I haven't made any progress there. I have a baker's rack in my basement that could potentially serve as shelves, but the truth is that the footprint might cost me more in the long run because of the canvas storage situation. I feel like I'm in a catch 22 with my studio. I may simply have to put everything away and just deal with working at the kitchen table for the time being, because a move is most definitely in our future and a studio space will be HIGH on our list (I can say "our" because my art spilling out into the living space tends to motivate everyone in the family to find a better working space. *wink*)

However, it isn't all just about cleaning. I'm looking at all sorts of aspects in my life. When it comes to my art, I realize I need to do a few things to get the ball rolling in a better fashion for me. I have come to two decisions, one big and one small.

The first decision is to do a daily drawing/art piece Monday through Friday. An ACEO, a sketch, a little watercolor, it doesn't matter. I will start each work day off with a little something fun (and I'll be selling those on Etsy, in a new category in my shop I'm going to call Daily Art.) I need this as a sort of warm-up as well as a way to feel more accomplished and to grow. I'm really looking forward to it, and I decided to do it after playing with ACEOs last night:

I realized I wanted to do more, but when I sketch out more than one, I can get bogged down by how much work that will be when I still have big paintings I need to work on. But one a day? Yes, I can make that happen!

On the big side of things, art-wise, I have decided that instead of picking a new fairy tale this year to explore (even though Alice is still on my easel, now going into three years *facepalm*) I am going to create my own fairy tale. I'm going to still explore other fairy tales in paintings most likely, but my main focus will be on closing out Alice and opening the door to something completely new. I don't have everything nailed down just yet, but I have a general idea and I'm very excited!

So, I may not have cleaned out my studio and organized everything, but I have made some good, clear decisions that will most certainly be in my best interests. That feels pretty good too!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I have mentioned before that I have hijacked my kitchen table for my art. We have a dining room table where everyone has been eating, but I feel really bad about having a kitchen table that no one ever actually eats at. The real problem is that my studio is too small. I have it in the spare bedroom, and it's approximately 8x8 feet.

Since my studio is a business, I have a lot of "stuff" and fitting it into that room is very hard. Oh, I can do it, but then I'll be sitting there and say to myself "I'd like to do a watercolor" or "I need to make prints of a painting, and I need to photograph it" and then suddenly my studio turns into this (and I'm totally embarrassed):

Under the black cloth is another huge stack of various sizes of blank canvases, and to the left of the shelving unit, close to the window is another one.
I have shelves in the closet, and they are filled to the brim when I put everything away, which is why when I take ANYTHING out, I have to take EVERYTHING out.
Drawing desk, covered in prints, cards, magnets and in-progress work
Normally every spot on the wall is covered with drying canvases, but I've been working on other things lately, and photographing work, (hence the studio lights being out.) That pillow on the floor is actually for my feet while I work at the easel, because I rest on the wood and... OW!

All my shipping and packing supplies are actually in the basement, so this is just studio stuff.

This is impossible to work in. Even when everything is organized, there is simply no room! However, I was recently inspired to take a good look at some of the furniture around my house and see if I can't repurpose some of it in my studio. The thought of adding another piece of furniture in there is enough to make my head hurt, but if it worked and created more space for me to actually work IN my studio instead of it being a storage unit, that would be a wonderful thing!

I have been through all of my supplies, and the truth is that I use all of it. Not all the time, but eventually I circle back to it and use it. I recently gave away my good colored pencils (a very expensive tin) to a student of mine, thinking that I didn't use them, and sure enough a couple months later I needed them. It was very frustrating. So, I know I cannot whittle down my supplies. Instead, I need to get smart about them. I need to figure out a way to store and access them without it turning into a TLC hoarders show waiting to happen.

Also, I need to be able to see what I have. So much inspiration can come from simply looking at a box of supplies, say pastels, and suddenly having the urge to make something wonderful with them. But if you never see them and remember that they're there? It's an opportunity lost.

Along that same line, I have things that make me happy. Things that we artists collect because they nurture our artist soul. The only one that's out and visible is my owl on a moon, hanging from the ceiling. Oh, and my purple sequined curtains that I took from my daughter's room when she decided she had grown out of them (who grows out of purple and glitter, I ask you!?!) My other little bits of lovelies are MIA. They're there... somewhere... I think.

So, I'm in full on processing mode. I'm trying to figure out how to make this work. How can I reclaim my studio space as my working space? How can I make it inviting, instead of feeling like I need to get out of it as soon as possible?

I have the urge to cover every square inch with shelving, but I don't think that's the answer. I'm trying to make do with what I have on hand. So, cross your fingers for me! Hopefully I'll have a nice new update to share soon!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back To My Roots

As I did last month, I am participating in an online auction on Facebook and this month's prompt was "Mad Queen". Of course, being that I am working on my Queen of Hearts, that seems to slide right into that nicely, but that isn't actually the case. My Queen of Hearts is for my Alice series, and it's also a large canvas (meaning it's going to take a while.) Instead, I had several ideas, and I thought to play them out in watercolor.

I had her all sketched out (after I added in some mushrooms to balance out the composition), and I decided to mask her (good decision) and then used my old bottle of masking instead of my new one (really bad decision.) I ended up with a background just the way I wanted, with a nice red glow around my queen:

Unfortunately, it stripped my paper. If you haven't done watercolor on professional paper before, there is a sort of surface that helps the paint glide along. If you "scrub" you can ruin this and get a rough surface that basically turns your paper into a sponge in all the wrong places. Well, my old masking did that to every surface it was on.


The thing was, even though it had stripped that thin surface, the paper itself was still fine. It didn't rip, or even thin out the paper. No, I just ruined my surface. But I didn't want to start over, because I liked where I was going with this. That's when I decided to work it like an acrylic painting instead of a watercolor (watercolor is like painting in reverse of acrylic.) I wasn't sure what I thought when I had the features down:

I was thinking... maybe.

Then I started laying in more, and put in iridescent paint highlights as I worked (I know, you're all shocked), which are lit up in the next photo, but it doesn't look like that all the time, and I added a snake after someone suggested it:

Then the question became all about the dress, as all women know. What color? I went for black, after all this was supposed to be a bit twisted, sad, and sinister... a bit mad.

Of course, as any girl knows you need to coordinate, and it turned out that much of any color on the mushrooms gave the whole composition the wrong feel. I knew red was too cheerful, so I tried green tops, and realized it was all wrong, and finally settled on black for that too:

Finally, I was in the last push and I finished her:

"Cracked" 9x12 inches, Acrylic (and watercolor) on 140lbs hot-pressed 100% cotton paper

I debated calling her cursed, because she kind of is, and went with Cracked instead. Her crown (which is golden and lights up) is a nest with a cracked egg in it. It seems fitting that my "mad queen" would then be "Cracked". She's a bit twisted, and wrong... which is exactly how I wanted her! I ended up loving her, and to think I almost tossed her instead!

The most interesting thing about this piece is that it's a sort of hybrid of my more traditional abstract style with my fairy tale style. I almost feel like this sort of hybrid painting is the missing link between the two. This is important because I have had to split my business with the two styles so I can continue to do both, but I'm wondering if the hybrid isn't more intriguing than either on their own.

Anyway, it's an avenue for me to explore. Something that satisfied both sides is a rare thing for me, and not something I'm willing to let go of. I've been absolutely flooded with ideas. More paintings I want to do, along this line but not. I've always been obsessed with the stars and the moon, but also the ocean. So, I imagine I'm coming into another theme I must follow, all the while working to finish my Alice series and exploring more fairytales as well.

I feel like I'm on a new adventure!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I've been sick since Friday night, but I still had a busy weekend. I went with my family to finally figure out our cell phone issues, and ended up staying with my iPhone (but a 5S now) and going through three hours of paperwork to switch plans, make sure everyone's phone worked, and more. When you don't feel good, you'd take a tin can with string and call it a day, but I think it worked out OK. We'll see. I'm sure the bill will come and I'll have accidentally signed up for something bizarre!

My daughter had a cheerleader competition where she actually won a medal, and then proceeded to wear it for the rest of the weekend. I can't really blame her, it was pretty cool. I was never a cheerleader. Never. I wanted to be, but the truth is that I'm uncoordinated and shy - not the best qualities for a cheerleader to possess. I even tried out and really humiliated myself. I wish I hadn't, and then I could have said "Oh, if only I had tried out, maybe I could have been a cheerleader!" Instead, I know full well what a disaster I really was! Ugh!

My daughter, on the other hand, is a social butterfly. She's perfect for it, and she LOVES it. Right up until the boys go on and on about cheer not being a real sport. You would think they'd be smarter, considering she's also a soccer goalie (and a good one), and can probably kick their butts, but so far the boy's intelligence level for high school has rung in at about five years old. In all the years of my children playing sports, we've never had as many injuries as what's come out of cheerleading, too. So, I think it is a sport, but one that maybe needs to be evaluated more closely. Kids are getting hurt, a lot. More than if my daughter were playing football. Sorry, mom tangent.

Before I really came down with whatever it is that I have, I did manage to finish another little Valentine mini:

"All Mine" 3x3 inch mini painting

And I sketched out my "Mad Queen" for this month's auction on the Rabbit Hole Artist Collective:

I'm going to add mushrooms on the sides, to balance it all out.
I have two little Valentine mini paintings with bunnies left to do, and this mad queen, and of course my queen of hearts... but I also have a house that desperately needs to be cleaned too. Although, I don't think I have the energy for the cleaning, so maybe bunny paintings will hit the spot today!

Thursday, February 6, 2014


I have had a lot of trouble focusing with my mother staying with me and my kids having days off here and there between weather issues and otherwise. So, I decided to work on four little Valentine's Day mini-paintings thinking I'd surely be able to whip those out in a day.

Then it was two.

I finished one last night on the second day:

"Sweetheart" 3x5 inch acrylic on canvas panel
I hid all sorts of hearts in the painting, since it was for Valentine's Day. It was hard to paint this though, because my daughter had the movie The Place Beyond the Pines on, and I swear it was the movie that would never END!

I have to have something on while I'm working. I really like a good tale, an adventure, a romance, something... but not that. Actually, I'm most productive with a horror movie on, and I don't even like horror movies. This is probably because I'm grateful to not be looking at the screen and scared out of my whits, so I paint rather quickly with one of those playing. It's my version of watching a scary movie through my fingers, but it involves my paintbrushes instead.

So, I finished this one small painting, but that's it! I still have the other three, and I'm not confident I'll have those finished by the end of the week now. I'm hopeful though, so maybe...

In other news, I ordered a new pair of running shoes from a different brand because my model was discontinued. Since I'm a lumbering and rather sad runner, I need motion control shoes. This means my shoes are always ugly. But not this time!!! Check these babies out:

PURPLE! Purple, people! And pink! And lime! All neon! I have pretty running shoes for the first time, ever! I'm hoping they'll work well, because I want to keep them. Because... purple. Purple makes everything better!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hoping For Snow

A big snow storm is supposed to flirt with us tomorrow, and I'm excited! Even though they keep adjusting the snowfall amounts down, I keep hoping it'll shift its track just enough to dump on us. I'm supposed to live in a super snowy place, and for the past three years the south has gotten more snow than I have here in Vermont.

Today, I'm taking a little break from business-business in my studio. I've been working on my Queen of Hearts, but I haven't been able to get back into it since Friday. Still, I finished her hair and crowned her:

She has strong iridescent highlights on her hair and eyes, so when the light is directly on her she becomes very scary looking.

Over the weekend I went running outside and got some fabulous shots of the ice and a short video of the water running behind it at the dam:

Those are frozen water streams from the dam. Isn't that wild?

Icicle steps, how cool is that?

Shot of the icicle steps farther out, the video is of this area where the water was pounding through behind the ice.

But then yesterday I spent all day on the computer side of things and I feel like I lost my mojo. So, today I'm taking it off from the "have to" and working on just Valentine's Day stuff. I have one mouse and hart candies sketched out, but some folks have suggested I do other animals too. So, I'm working with a bunny or two, and I'm contemplating a giraffe. I have no idea why, as giraffes aren't exactly your standard Valentine's fare, but we'll see what happens. I'm taking a workation kind of painting day!

So, here's hoping for snow and cute paintings!