Monday, October 27, 2014

Love many things.
--Vincent van Gogh
I am often reminded of how lucky I am that I get to pursue my passion and get paid for it.  And I know I am lucky to have found this passion early in my life. Malcolm Gladwell said that you can't be considered an expert at something until you've practiced it for 10,000 hours. I started early but I'm no expert (yet).
It's a double edged sword sometimes. There's never enough time. I was asked yesterday to take on another art student, and I'd love to. I'd love to teach  teenagers, like I did as a high school teacher; I'd love to teach more adults, as I have in workshops and classes. And I love working with the elderly. Oh and I love to paint and play with paper on my own too. I recently realized that with teaching, delivering goods to shops, marketing, ordering supplies, filling out my budget, travel, and doing shows, (oh and I am also a mom) that I am actually only creating about 10 hours a week. What??? And all the other stuff is taking up about 40 hours. That seems way out of alignment. So I have vowed to work more. On the good stuff.
Here's what I finished today.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

Before you are able to draw, you have to learn to see, and you learn to see by drawing.
                --Mick Maslen

My oldest son turned 10 in May. Double numbers -- very significant! He is the son who asks for nothing, and is happy with whatever he gets, so he wouldn't give us a clue about what he might want for his birthday. Meanwhile, for months he had been bringing home these really fun faces he had been doodling at school. Not the usual copied cartoons that you see so often in this age, through teenagers (isn't this a good drawing? me: you mean the thing you traced?). These faces and bodies are completely original. I read that fourth grade is the year that if a child is interested in something they will either stay with it for good, or leave it for other pastimes. I really want to encourage him, but not be pushy as I could easily send him in the other direction. I knew I had to handle him delicately -- I have been encouraging him in my art classes for years, and even tried to get him interested in classes taught by others. So anyway, I had been saving his little scraps of faces for something, I didn't know quite what. Close to his birthday, I picked out my favorite 5 faces, pasted them on coordinating blue paper, and found funny quotes to go with them. Took them to my printer, had "illustrated by Raine Haddad" printed on the back, and boxed up a set for his birthday. Home run. He loved them, especially the credit to him on the back, AND when I told him he gets all the proceeds. I did several farmers' markets this summer, and after the first market selling his cards, I brought home $20 to him; the next market, $35; and the next $50. He was ecstatic, and people have been very eager to buy the cards when they find out he made them and gets the money for them. And he subtly learned the lesson that artists aren't all the starving kind.

Here are the cards:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I like to employ a form of repetition, in which the same elements recur but in different and unexpected ways.
--Graham Nelson
My kids love to hear stories about my childhood, and I think it's really important for them to hear not only of my adventures, but also of my mistakes and lessons I learned along the way. It gives them something to think about.
They've recently started at a new school, and on Thursdays it's ice cream day. Just like when I was in elementary school, when Friday was ice cream day. Bring your 10 cents and pick out your favorite flavor from a white portable freezer (it's now 75 cents).  Brown Mule, Nutty Buddy, Bomb Pop -- which one to choose? So I'm back to desserts in my paintings, not cakes with occasional bits of paper, but popsicles with lots of paper. I'm calling the series "Nostalgia". Are there any 40 somethings out there? Check it out:

Monday, September 22, 2014


Coffee falls into the stomach...ideas begin to. Move, things remembered arrive at full gallop...the paper is covered with ink...
--Honore de Balzac 

My boys have started at a new school this year, and they arrive there at 7:30 each day. This gives me an extra hour and a half in the morning, (their usual start time was 9:00) and I go straight to my studio, even on days I teach. Finally, when noon comes and its time for me to move on to errands, the gym, deliveries, etc I feel ready, instead of dragging myself out dejectedly, wishing I could get just one more thing done. So my new goal has been to make a new card each day, and in the last few weeks I have made about 15 new pieces! I am even ahead of the game on holiday cards, for once. Thank you, birthday, new house, sorry, Christmas -- it's all rolling out (which means a bunch of other stuff will be going on sale). I split my time with paper projects and painting, and for once, I feel rather balanced in the two. Here are a few of my latest--

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Boys of Summer

Shark Week just finished up in our house. Thankfully our annual trip to the beach occurred before all of the TV shows aired.  It is during this week that both of my boys declare sharks as their favorite animals, and shark books from the library fill the house.

The boys LOVE scary movies. They talked me in to letting them watch The Birds when they were 5 and 6.  They love the shot when the birds have eaten the guy's eyeballs out. They've seen it 4-5 times now and ever flinched, so when they asked to watch Jaws at 7 and 8 years old, I figured they wouldn't freak out. And they didn't.  They LOVED it. For a week afterward, they walked around saying, "We're gonna need a bigger boat" (rest in peace Roy Scheider).

The same week I was making some new notecards and I ran across a cute photo of two little boys holding up a fish that one of them caught. Too cute to resist, I was trying to find a good quote when one of my boys walked by and muttered, without even realizing he said it, "we're gonna need a bigger boat..." I realized I had my quote. Here's how it turned out,

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat Notecard Set

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Someone told me it's all happening at the zoo.
--Paul Simon

I just noticed my last post was in February. It's been busy.

I was invited in the Fall to teach a Collage Workshop at Nimrod. Oh please, don't throw me in that briar patch!! That weekend is here and we've all arrived at beloved Nimrod Hall, in Bath County, Va.  I brought a huge box of paper for the gals to use, examples of my work, and blank canvases to work on. Everything I brought this weekend revolves around my animal collages. Why animals?, people ask me. It's strange how everybody relates to animals. What is it about certain creatures that we feel a connection with? There are so many HUNDREDS of types of animals, but we all relate to certain ones. Yesterday, I went around and asked each person if they have a favorite animal -- a resounding yes from all: "dogs", "cats", "insects", "giraffes"... It's so interesting to me. And further, a lot of these favorites we may never see in real life, but only in pictures or storybook drawings. But holy moly -- seeing a peacock in real life? Or a zebra?  Talk about knock your socks off!! God had fun the day he created animals.

Most of the collages that were made were animal related, but some made pieces with other subject matter. Overwhelmingly, they couldn't stop!   I know that I have a really strong work ethic and painting/paper addiction and therefore spend inordinate amounts of time working while I'm at Nimrod, but I had no idea everyone would all be back working after dinner! AND Sunday morning. It  was a success.  Here are some pieces the workshop participants made:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Little Bit of Orange

When the trumpet brays, Kandinsky hears vermilion. The violin plays green on its placid middle string. Blues darken through the cello, doublebass, and organ, for him, and the bassoon's moans are violet like certain kinds of gloom. He believes that orange can be rung from a steeple sometimes, while the joyous rapid jingle of the sleigh-bell reminds him of raspberry's light cool red.

I'm really lucky that my cards and prints and paintings are in some great shops around town, with even cooler shop-owners. I can't sell my things where I start to feel anxious when I visit the shops. (sorry -- ain't got time for that...).  A few months ago,  one of my shop owners told me she had never seen one of my original animal collages in person. From different conversations, I also know she's crazy about her horse. And the color orange. 

I get a lot of requests for horse portraits.  I decided to make one for her, and make another one to scan and make prints of.   I made the one for her big enough so that it could not be scanned for a print, because if she were selling the prints in her store, it might make the original feel less "original". So a few weeks ago, I took it in to show her an original animal portrait . I was so flattered when she almost cried -- an orange horse just for her!! Here he is, along with the other one.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The poem, the song, the picture is only water drawn from the well of the should be given back to them in a cup of beauty so that they may drink, and in drinking, understand themselves.

Federico Garcia Lorca

My dad passed away over 3 years ago. I still think of him every single day, and every few days find myself turning to tell him something or remind myself to call to ask him something. I still feel really sad knowing he's gone, sad for my mom who misses his companionship, from a marriage that spanned 50 years. I'm lucky that when I divorced I moved only a few hours from them. I enjoyed their company enough to run home many many weekends to lick my wounds and feel better. I'm so thankful I spent so much time with them, to form a close adult relationship where they were at a point to learn from me just as I was still learning from them. I often think of my brother who lives across the country. I know that I have had this priceless time with them I feel badly for him. It's never coming back.

But he's not really gone.

I know he is watching me and I know he is proud of what I'm doing. I know he is laughing at the things my two boys do. I'm just sad that I can't see it.

About 6 months after my dad died, I started a job teaching art to dementia patients at an eldercare facility, (or "finishing school" as I like to call it).

Years before, he had encouraged me to go by there and visit a Dr. Michaux, who was a distant cousin of ours. My dad was the third Michaux in our family line and we were frequently reminded of our family history --we are after all, from Virginia.  The original  Susannah Rochet was a French Huguenot. The story goes that in the 1700s her father could not afford passage on a ship to escape France (because of religious persecution). He befriended a ship captain who agreed to hide her on the boat as it crossed the sea. She was hidden in a wine cask aboard the ship, at 8 years old, and later called "Little Nightcap". She arrived safely.

It was natural for my dad to want me to visit Dr. Michaux in the nursing home. But I never got around to it, and Dr Michaux passed away.

Fast forward  about 15 years later. I started working in the facility and lo and behold! Guess who one of my patients was: Dr Michaux's wife, Julia! Odd, right? I spoke with her about who I was and our connection but her mind was too far gone to understand.

A few days later my manager asked me how things were going in the area that Miss Julia was in. I related the story of Dr. Michaux and told her that I couldn't believe I was teaching his wife, of all people. Suddenly my manager looked at me with fresh eyes. " You know how you're being paid, right?" she said to me. I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that I was being paid through an endowment left by a patient whose wife had taken an interest in art in later life, and he wanted to always make sure art was available at this facility. The patient that left the endowment? You got it, Dr. Michaux. Did you get chills?

How can I not see my dad's involvement in that?  I think it was his way of saying how proud he is of me for sticking with my passion, no matter what. And making sure I got paid for it.

Yep, he's still around.

And there are more stories like this. Another time.

Speaking of family, my father's mother was ZouZou, and it is from her that I named my business (another story). From my other grandmother I inherited a lot of old photo albums, with mostly black and white pictures from the 1920s.  I look at these old photos and wonder about about all of their stories. I am endlessly drawn to old sepia photos.

These paintings are based on some of those photos. The top photo is ZouZou and Michaux, Jr. The one here is a likeness of my other grandmother, Lucille, who was a flapper in the 1920s.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...

Jack Kerouac

Years ago, when I had decided to go back to school to teach art, and therefore devote myself to my passion, my brother told me about a woman in town, an artist, whose work he had just purchased, a painting.  He told me that she led an artist retreat every summer out in the country, close to where my mother grew up. I looked her up, loved her work as she is a colorist also, and began my dream of attending one of her artist retreats. A few years went by, I occasionally heard her name mentioned, met her several times, began to go to her openings, and still I dreamt of the retreat. Somehow I thought it wasn't possible until I was older and retired, or suddenly struck it rich as an artist (ha) to be able to afford such a getaway. By then I was married with 2 very small children, which presented another stumbling block. Whenever I ran into this artist here and there, she encouraged me to attend her retreat.  One day, my husband ran into her and he told her how much I admired her and really would, one day, attend. It turned out to be my lucky day. My husband had gotten laid off work and therefore had time off, and someone had just dropped out at the last minute, for a camp she was doing the following week. Could I go on short notice at half price?

(COULD I?). I immediately packed up and soon headed out, blindly, into a new adventure. It turned out to be one of the most memorable weeks of my life, and one that has continued every year since then. It's my reward in the summer for working so hard, when I get to go away to camp.

I love it because I get to paint for five days, 12 hours a day if I like.  An added bonus is that Laura, the artist from above, is a fabulous artist and it is amazing to watch her paint.  She is also one of the funniest people I've ever met. With a mouth like a sailor. The stories she can tell! We have hit it off over the years and now are in touch with one another throughout the year, checking in, going out, and seeing each other's work.

Recently, THE most flattering thing happened: she has asked me to teach at camp next summer!

Wow, I've come a long way...

Here is one of my favorite sights at Art Camp:  the screen door to her studio that constantly slams
open and shut, covered in a beautiful lineup of paint colors. She's as messy as I am.