Saturday, December 29, 2012


I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
Claude Monet

January is always a welcome month for me because it feels very free. During the summer I am busy keeping up with cards for markets, fall I am preparing Christmas cards and ornaments, and doing commissions. Not that I don't enjoy every second of all that. But in January there is a short window where I let myself putter in my studio. Without feeling like I should be doing something more constructive. Like cleaning out, looking at pretty books, trying out new ideas for paintings. One year I started all of the color collages that caused such a frenzy in me that January ended up being more productive than any other month.
One year, it snowed a LOT, and each time it snowed I ordered flower bulbs for my yard, dreaming of spring. This was when my boys were out of school for almost two weeks. Then I started a bunch of flower paintings, and six zinnias were done, along with so e dahlias and others, in a matter of about three days.

January always holds some time for reflection, a time for looking ahead, and for some "planned" spontaneity. I can't wait to see what 2013 holds.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

True artists are almost the only men who do their work with pleasure.
Francois-Auguste Rene Rodin

More serendipity.
A lot of the vintage photos on my cards are family members. I inherited some of my grandmother's (not ZouZou, the other one who loved paper) photo albums and scrapbooks, and figured I would use the photos instead of letting them sit silently in a drawer somewhere.  Other photos I get elsewhere. One  more reason to shop on etsy. I ordered some old photos a few weeks ago, and used one to make this card:

It's a great quote, from 
A few days ago, I got a nice note from the seller of the photos who complimented me on the way I used her photo. By the way, she said, that woman is my mother.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it.
Danny Kaye

(This post was written almost exactly a year ago, and I was so busy I forgot to post it. )
In December, a few days before Christmas, some of the animal collages that I had been working on were shown on a really popular blog, YoungHouseLove, "and the crowd went wild". I literally was delivering a last order to a customer when suddenly my computer showed a lot of activity on etsy, which had never happened to me. Somehow with the whimsical animals of all kinds, I had struck a nerve with a LOT of people -- I had over 10,000 hits on my website during the following two weeks. And sold a bunch of stuff. And didn't get any sort of Christmas break at all. Still, no complaints.

Ironically, someone had gotten my name and interviewed me about selling on etsy earlier in the fall, and my answers to his questions had been based on the few interactions I had had. A few weeks after this sudden rush of business, I got an advance copy of his book. Things can really change overnight. Here is a link to the book:

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Albert Einstein

I love serendipity. Even the sound of the w
ord is beautiful.

I'm not a hoarder, by any means, but I do save a lot of stuff. Sometimes, often times, I don't know why I hold on to something, but it usually doesn't matter.  I know I can count on serendipity. I know things will happen when its time, and some of the things I save aren't ready. Yet.

Like the collar of one of my deceased cats that I saved and saved, and took with me as I moved from place to place. One day, the request came in, the one for me to make a shrine for a Day of the Dead art project. And I made a shrine to my cat, and the collar was the perfect final addition.

Sometimes common sense gets in the way of the gut feeling and I get rid of things I shouldn't. Like all of those colorful and so cool Esprit catalogs from the early 1980s. Remember those? I do, too clearly, as I regret throwing them out.

Similarly, I started saving quotes, famous and infamous, words I wanted to remember, when I was in my early 20s, in college. Why? Who knows.  I never questioned the reason, just knew I needed to start writing them down. Soon I filled my first notebook with quotes. It wasn't long until I filled a second notebook.  Now I am in the middle of my fourth. And a while back I started using old photos from my grandmother, to make greeting cards. Then I started adding quotes to them. I knew just where to find my inspiration. It's been a pleasant stroll down memory lane as I have reread  these sayings, remembering where I was and the occasion for the quote.


Friday, September 14, 2012

The artist brain is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are the elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art.

In filling the well, think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do....Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.
Julia Cameron


I love how cupcakes continue to be popular. I have some Dessert paintings and notecards in a beautiful cupcake "shoppe" here in Richmond, and every time I go in to check my inventory, I am amazed at how consistently, constantly, they are busy. The owner says they sell over 1,000 cupcakes per day. Amazing, and this isn't even a Big City.

What fascinates me as much is the huge variety of liners and papers that are available for cupcakes. Look on etsy or Michael's at the different ones for sale --  it's like going to a candy store. I decided to make some cards out of these cupcake liners, and I had so much fun! And I got a laugh when I bought a whole bunch of the papers at a store and the check-out person said, "You sure are going to make a lot of cupcakes."  I have strips and pieces all over the place, but the colors make me joyous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Each man has an aptitude born with him. Do your work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just returned from my annual week away at art camp. I'm slightly depressed upon return, I suppose it's like postpartum syndrome, I've looked forward to it all year and it felt like the fastest week of my life. This is my daily routine for five days:

6:30-7 am wake up and get coffee
7 - 8:30 paint. I usually set up in one of several buildings, and alternate between painting inside or on the porch depending on the weather/heat, and get to leave my things there all week.
8:30-9:00 breakfast bell rings, all I have to do is show up.
9:00-1:00 paint
1:00 lunch bell rings and eating routine is repeated
1:30-6:00 paint/attend a demo/ try to rest but am too excited to be painting 
6:00 shower and fix drinks
6:30 dinner bell
7:30 walk and visit with friends
8:30-9:30 paint

It is so wonderful to have all of those hours uninterrupted to paint, to fully concentrate, and be able to leave everything as is until the next day. It's open studio but the artist in residence, who, incidentally, is THE funniest person I've ever met, is incredible to watch doing a demo and so inspirational. I know that instead of feeling disappointed to be returning to real life I should simply be grateful that I could attend the camp. That leaves me even more sad because I'm even more mad at myself for having these feelings. Oh the life of a tortured artist...
Here are a few of the pieces I finished last week:

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then.
Lucy Maud Montgomery

ZouZou was my grandmother, who had a basement full of all kinds of stuff. After she passed away and her house was being cleaned out, I took a whole bunch of flower pots from her basement, after my mother begged me (I resisted the several hundred aluminum pie plates). I painted a few, gave a few, sold a few, then sold a few more. Then I moved on to other art projects. And ZouZou’s Basement was born.

I actually work in my attic, and like ZouZou, I save lots of goodies, sometimes not knowing exactly how I will use them.  Each day I go to work and am surrounded by paint, glitter, ribbon, and my “paper pond”. In my former professional life I worked in advertising, dressed store windows and mannequins, and taught art to high schoolers for 8 years. I presently teach private lessons to children and adults, and am Artist In Residence at Westminster Canterbury Richmond (in the dementia areas) . I am lucky enough to be able to devote myself fully to my creative ideas and to making my two little boys into good  people.

The animal collages have fermented slowly. I painted various dog portraits for several years. Gradually, my paper projects have become meshed with my paintings so that a large part of my work is a collage of paper and paint. I saw a book called The Zoo by Suzy Lee with brightly and whimsically colored animals on grey backgrounds, and I was really inspired by her color choices. Then I went to my pile of animal photos that I’d been collecting, and also tore up my sons’ Ranger Rick magazines (with their permission). When you really look at the crazy variety of animals that are walking around on earth, it’s mind-boggling. I can’t help but feel a certain spirituality and awe when I see a giraffe, or a zebra, or a peacock in real life! And interestingly, most people relate to animals, and most have a favorite.

Whatever my subject matter, color is always my first decision. Then I decide which animal would look best, with for instance, purple fur. I hope you will enjoy a good dose of color, and have a giggle or two.

The poodle came from my sense of awe of poodles – when they are clipped just so, they seem so organized. I love topiary gardens also, probably for the same reason, and in garden talk, a “standard” is a tree or shrub that has had its branches clipped so that the greenery is just a ball on top. A Standard Poodle is one that has been clipped very neatly, and whose fur looks like a ball on top of her head. I’m not sure if the topiary name came from the poodle, or vice versa. For comparison sake, I made the poodle green and the background raw sienna, to resemble the terra cotta pots that standards are often planted in.

The inspiration for the sheep painting came from a photo I saw in the New York Times Magazine (probably about Dolly the sheep that was cloned). Their fur was huge, like what cartoons look like when a character has stuck his finger in an electric socket. I had done a collage before of a lamb and had had fun making the fur look textural. I wanted to do something similar for the two sheep. I have a large flat file where I keep all of my patterned paper, and it is organized by color. When I went to the white section in the file I saw a group of doilies and decided that because there was a pattern and textural quality, that was the way to go. I especially wanted to create what resembled a neckline like those in Elizabethan dresses, very formal and heavy. I had really liked the painting with the paint on it by itself and wavered about adding any paper to it. I think it worked out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.

Claude Monet

Last week was a little crazier than usual. I have been getting ready for a show in Charlotte, and was planning on driving all of the paintings down over the weekend. As usual, I can't see the forest for the trees, and it dawned on me that I could just ship them and save a LOT of time. I sent 3 big boxes -- 20 paintings! I didn't want to spend a
fortune on postage so my max was going to be $35 per box to send. The first box was $12!! I think I used my brain wisely this time.

The opening is on April 13, and I can't wait to see all of these animal collages together on one wall. Here are some never before seen -- you heard it first -- that were made specifically for this show.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spiritual Journey :Part 8, Final

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.
Louis 'Amour

My two dreams have always been to have a family, and to Make Things. Having 2 busy busy boys left me exhausted but I realized the only way I could process my world and feel completely full was to paint and create every day. I still got sick once in a while but by now I knew what caused my flareups (stress/excitement and exhaustion) and worked hard to avoid getting sick. As my boys went off to preschool I treasured the time that I had to paint while they were gone. But I craved more. And I realized how important to my well-being this time was (is). Five years ago we moved to a bigger house with a huge yard (to run these boys every day) and at last I had a real and separate studio apart from the rest of the house where I could make a mess and leave a mess and have enough room to put it all. We have a walkup attic that is a perfect workspace for me. It was insulated with the new "green" white foam before we moved in that covers the ceiling -- it looks, fittingly, like creamy icing or whipped cream. We put some air conditioning ducts in and I moved in. I feel very very lucky to have the space and to be able to stay home with my children, and at this point help support the house a great deal financially. When I'm not up there I feel a very strong pull to be there. Luckily I am very disciplined and remind myself to live in the moment, try hard to ignore the pull. Ironically, ZouZou's Basement is in the attic.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spiritual Journey: Part 7

I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told.
Mark Twain

After giving birth to Raine, my disease had gone into relative remission and my doctor(s) advised me to get pregnant again pretty quickly; if I got sick again it might be a few years until I got my system straight again enough to carry another baby. So when Raine was 6 months old, we got pregnant again (we didn't think it would happen THAT quickly). Before we knew it, Rye was born and I was now a Mother Of Boys. Months later, after we talked about losing 2 and then having 2 healthy boys, added to my age and medical issues, we thought it best that we declared our family done. I had always wanted at least 4-5 children, but that was in my 20s and before I hadRye. HA. This realization came with more changes in my artwork.

Unconsciously, I began embracing my feminity fully, and began a series of Dress paintings called Dress Me Up. The first of these I sent to a magazine, and relatively easily, was published.

I had always surrounded myself with strong women -- I always appreciated having a lot of girlfriends --
and began to express these prized qualities in another Dress series, called You Wear It Well.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Life is a condition alternating between excitation, destruction, and unbalance, and reorganization, equilibrium, and rest. In the course of life colors play their role. Each color has a special importance and all colors together help to guarantee normal life.
Kurt Goldstein

How can people keep current on their websites/Facebook/twitter/online shops/blogs? I'm a little embarrassed that last entry was a long time ago, but it's not like I've been sitting around "twiddling my thumbs". I know a few people who are able to keep up with all of their social media, but when do they have time to Make Things? I guess I choose to express myself more with the work.

In late December, my work appeared on an awesome blog that is written in Richmond (YoungHouseLove), and my etsy shop went crazy for a few weeks -- I had over 10,000 visitors in about 10 days!! Not quite that many sales, but I'm not complaining. At all.

In the fall, I had been making a bunch of whimsical animal collage/paintings that had been really popular. In a terrific rush of brain power I decided to make prints a few of them that had sold, and in turn, the prints have become extremely popular. One of the smartest things I've done -- I thought and I thought and I thought and I finally made the right decision...

Here are a few of them