Monday, December 15, 2014

Hydrangeas


Writing every day is proving to be hard. Life interrupts with both fun necessary and banal activities, card orders, a commission, a low grade cold, cat sitting, and life living. Committing to something on a daily basis is a reminder to how slow an hour goes but how quickly a day goes, how doing something proactive and good for you is a choice, a habit. And boy, do old habits die hard. Writing has often been synonymous with the word tomorrow. Giving myself this self-imposed blog promise of writing every day in December has been a good challenge--mostly in making me aware of time, of not beating myself up if I don't post but making a far greater effort than I would have normally. Sometimes a blue glass jar of hydrangeas from Trader Joe's is all you got going on on a Monday night. And that's ok. xo

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cowgirl


I sold this piece today. (Yay! Happy dance! Working artists unite in giant high five of appreciation in what it feels like to sell something!) But the overriding feeling for me was faith. This particular piece has been for sale in a store for a loooong time. Long enough that I would no questions asked swap it out, give them something fresh, sell in another location or repaint. Done. However, the owners of this store liked these funny cowboy boots (it had a twin that also lingered for months…and sold) and said, give it time. The right person will find it. And they did. Today. And it's not like that's such breaking news in our world, but it's a reminder to me that everything has its own time, art will find its home to the right person, patience is a (f-----g) virtue and these boots are made for walking. xo

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A word from our sponsors


God, I hate Nike for the simplicity and genius of their Just Do It campaign. Hate it because it's so freaking simple and obvious and annoyingly accurate and…now that I articulate it, it's the exact same reasons I love it. It works. It's true. Just do it. As a small business owner, artist, writer, painter, communicator, box packer, creative director, ball juggler, I wake up with a million ideas, energy for about 10 and the stamina and stick-to-it-ice-ness for about one. Sometimes two if they are related but seriously, creativity is not for the faint of heart. And worse? The kicker of it all? When you do have the surge, the energy and chutzpah to show up, the results often do not reveal itself how you envisioned in your head. It has taken me years to grapple with this and until I read this Ira Glass quote, I actually thought I was alone in my crazy thinking. But I'm not and this is probably one of the most reassuring messages I could have ever read. Here it is:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” Ira Glass

Lord have my mercy for our patience to keep showing up, to tolerate our messes as we go and the faith, I need to capitalize that baby, FAITH, that one more step, one more jar of paint brushes, one more of whatever we make, bake, paint or write, that it's tiny contribution, that feels so enormous while you're doing it, is really just a tiny piece of your creative pie. I write this as a reminder to myself and a not so subtle nudge of encouragement because I have a very strong calling to paint portraits and my experience has been Ira Glass's message to the T. My taste far exceeds my results and because of that, I put the brush down and stop. Yup, not the upbeat words of go girl you expected, right? Nope, I totally stop, change gears, paint something in my comfort zone, which is good, has merits but woah nelly, I know better than to not get back on that horse. I am revisiting this quote. I am going to try again. I am not promising that I will post my results but I do promise to update you on how it went. xo

"Paint Brushes", 8x10" framed, available at ElizabethW, Carmel 831.626.3892

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Forever Young


Promise. Last of the plaid dogs. This is Crumpet, a loose interpretation of my grandparents Old English sheep dog they got when I was a small child. My childhood dog as it were. Crumpet is the dog, the family pet, that lives on in legends, naughty behavior, hilarious antics, family stories, remember whens and can you believes. I think we all have one of those in our history and mine is dear old sweet Crumpet. Just looking at this painting makes me laugh out loud because somehow I nailed his personality, his dopy smile and constantly dirty chin even moments after a bath. He happily went through the world in rose colored, or in his case, fur colored glasses none the wiser and for this I'm grateful. May we all have a version of Crumpet in our lives. xo

"Forever Young" 11x17", framed, SOLD

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Foxy Lady


If paintings could talk…well, in this case they couldn't because haven't we and a bizarre scandinavian song that took the Portlandia type world by storm that we don't know what foxes say? So she says nothing. But I say that this foxy lady started as a dog. The dog kind of dog that could be any variety, the New Yorker cover kind of dog where they are dog shaped and I held it up, feeling sassy and fun, showing my painting buddy and she says, "Oh I love it, what a cute cat!" Wrong answer. So I pouted and futzed and the more paint I added the more creature it became until suddenly, all on her own, she was Foxy Lady, and I swear I only showed up and watched it happen. Once I was invited, of course, she did need riding boots and a ribbon ascot. I am in charge of showing up, the zookeeper, how the animals behave, is anyone's guess. xo

"Foxy Lady", 11x17" framed, available at ElizabethW, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 831.626.3892

Friday, December 5, 2014

Heart of Gold


I bought a vintage Hudson Bay blanket yesterday. I love it so much I can barely stand it. It's something I've wanted for years, somewhat surprised that someone in my family doesn't own one to hand down to me but I've yet to see one show up on my bed or in some forgotten closet. I've always had a soft spot for them, their iconic stripes, the reverse cool of Canadiana. And there it was yesterday afternoon in an antique mall in Medford, Oregon sitting there draped all antiquey and forgotten, those red, green and yellow stripes smiling up at me. I rushed over and did that weird garage sale I hope no one else sees this amazing treasure I've just scored maneuver. I pranced (it's possible, I did prance) over to my girlfriends who were doing their own treasure hunting to display this amazingcoolcanyoubelieveit grungy old needs to be dry-cleaned piece of wool and they both looked at like, oh honey, that's nice, in that slow concerned comforting way. So I pipe up, but it's an original Hudson Bay Blanket!!! More nods, more, you could get it cleaned, reassurances.

Above, Heart of Gold, was originally the hudson bay blanket palette. The stripes started getting a little unruly, I was reminded these pieces were supposed to be a collection…and my ping pong pea brain got back on track and got plaid on it. But the intent was that blanket. And there it was. Just a few weeks later, waiting for me. And I love it. And I will get it dry cleaned. xo

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Best in Show


Pugs. Plaid. Banners. RVYC commodore sweaters. Normal. That is all. xo

"Best in Show", 11x17" framed, available at ElizabethW, Carmel-by-the-sea 831.626.3892

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mr. Handsome



There something ridiculous and primal about my love for tartan. Possibly my roots, Victoria, BC…my Canadian background..whatever it is, it makes me smile and for the love of all that's good, adorable animals should be wearing it too!

About ten years ago I was in Mendocino for a long weekend and the local animal shelter had strategically placed their pups needing a home on the grassy lawn in front of the spectacular ocean views. They took each dog out for a walk one at a time or let visitors sign up for their own walk. A not so subtle, hint hint, wouldn't the star on the Christmas tree of a romantic weekend be bringing home an abandoned, lost, homeless, needy dog? Wouldn't it? Don't you have a heart? At least that's how I heard the subliminal message. The worst, or best, offender was a mixed breed, a nondescript mid-size brown-grey-beige dog who at best could be described as a "dog", the kind of dog a young child draws from memory, an idea of a dog. And what did they call him? Mr. Handsome. All day long, back and forth he went on his walks, with a variety of humane society workers and families calling out, "Mr. Handsome! Mr. Handsome! Come on, Mr. Handsome!" They were killing me. I never did find out if he found a home that day but my animal whisperer psychic hit is that he most likely did. 

And there is the story of how a painting is born. Scraps of memory from ten years ago mixed with today's artistic fingerprint. And could I have planned that? Absolutely not. It was in the sitting down, showing up, puttering, painting a layer, and another, my own creative walk, one step at a time. xo

"Mr. Handsome", 11x17" framed, available at ElizabethW Carmel-by-the-Sea, 831.626.3892

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Furever Friend


So yesterday was the first day of December and it both alarmed and inspired me. December already? It's like the Friday of the month long calendar. Everyone kind of takes it off, slows down, has an excuse, saves it for Monday, or January, and I had this moment where I thought, I don't want this month to melt away. And because of that, I'm putting it down on paper, committing in the blog world that I'm writing every day here, even a little bitty snippet, but something. Writing and painting have long gone hand in hand and seem to bounce off each other when one is lagging, the other finishes the race. Or at least takes a leisurely stroll around the track….so hello writing, the baton has been passed to you. Run.

Committing to doing something every day or completing a certain amount of projects, like how I started my 100 paintings project, has great power in my life. My experience is that I have no clue what my end goal is but the commitment to show up somehow leads the way, lighting just enough path for me to show up again. When I started doing 100 Paintings I had no idea that many of those images would end up as greeting cards or that the project as a whole would transform itself into a company. Or that my weekend artist self would end up making a career out of it. That's crazy talk!

No rules or regs for December writing, just showing up, posting, hopefully a new painting can accompany it but that would mean 30 new paintings and that is crazy talk, my friends. But we'll see. Above is a new guy, "Furever Friend", one of many tartan pup portraits I've done this past month. (And yes, it was my generation to experience "The Preppy Handbook" the first time around when it was not ironic.) Lots more plaid to come!

"Furever Friend" 12x18", framed, available at ElizabethW in Carmel-by-the-Sea 831.626.3892

Monday, December 1, 2014

Carmel-by-the-Sea

I mean really, who does not want to live in a town with all those lovely hyphens, "Carmel-by-the-Sea"? "Medford-near-the-Mall" just doesn't have the same ring. I don't live in Carmel, but I do have the good fortune of having a very close friend who does and who magically sells lots of my cards and paintings at her store and every once in a while I go bear witness to it happening in action. And honestly? It's really cool and it doesn't get old and I'm so freaking grateful for the whole package it sometimes gives me the feeling of looking down at my life from above with that "really?" feeling, how is this magically happening all on its own? Action. That's how it's happening. And trust, faith, commitment and total belief that good is on its way. Corny? Oh well. But it's my truth and among the zillion things I don't know about starting a business or being an artist or having a brand, I do know that tiny incremental baby steps all the time, every day, really, every single day, add up to something bigger than that scrap of a doodle in your moleskin or lavender paint you need for no reason or that phone call…email….card sent…logo designed….all of it, it all counts, it all has meaning.

I'm passionate about this, the meaning and purpose of baby steps and the bread crumb following of daily intuition because it's all I've got. I can go through the motions and know that I'll probably have some success if I "Make 10 Birthday Cards". Check. "Paint a Dog." Check. "Make a Birthday Card with a Dog." Check check. But if any part of it feels unnatural, strained or contrived, it just doesn't work. I go back to the next right thing. With action. For me, the key is to find that sweet spot of listening to the voices (jokes, bring it) combined with acting on it. And Carmel, the town, the store, and all the big and little events that have lead me thus far, are a testament to putting one foot in front of the other, a lot, even when you don't know what the hell you are doing. Because truthfully, at least my perspective from this corner, is that no one really knows what they are doing. But they are doing their version of it. And we love that. Because it's authentic and real and gives us hope that maybe we can do that too. So I painted "Carmel" for the store, for me, for a reminder that it represents a sum so much greater than these itty bitty parts I focus on every day. And that is magic. xo

"Carmel" 18x24", framed, available at ElizabethW Carmel-by-the-Sea, 831.626.3892

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Miss Daisy


It's been my experience when you endeavor on a new path, creative pursuit or start a business there is a gaggle of angel supporters that either cheer you on, teach you, guide you, applaud your work, buy your work in show of appreciation and support or, if the angels have really big wings and own retail stores, do all of the above when they can. This is the case with Albert Nichols and Michael Lindsay, owners of bath & body line & retail boutiques,  ElizabethW .

Today, and honestly, every day, I thank them because they were my first customer for Carpe Diem greeting cards and took my paintings for their Carmel store, saying "just bring anything you have" and "let's try it". So we did. And they sold. Some quickly, some slowly. And now, one year later as their "artist in residence", I am prepping to attend their holiday party and bringing down some new work. Thought it appropriate to start off the new collection with their fur mascot, Miss Daisy Diggins, old English sheep dog extraordinaire, bounciest fluffiest funniest 80lb puppy you'll ever meet.

Thank you Miss D for being a lovely muse. And thank you M&A for everything else. xo

"Miss Daisy" 16x20"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pug Love


One of life's strange and wonderful piece of thread that has been woven through my life is pug love. I do not have a pug. But literally, everyone I know, or whom I am very close to, has a pug. Or pugs. They seem to arrive in plurals with  most families. From my parents to best girlfriends, long term friends, neighbors and employers, pugs have circled me in their snorting wheezing loving rump roast ways since I can remember. There was a sliver of time that I thought seriously about having one of my own but then remembered I enjoyed privacy, going out alone, sleeping, and generally having a modicum of independence and that pretty much disappears if puglets live with you. So I got a cat.

But I do love painting them. They make for a darling muse and over the top happy customer who ever purchases a pug painting. They are a breed (clients) unto themselves. I remember browsing in one of those pet-centric gourmet dog boutiques in Seattle a few years back, the kind where you can buy magnets to tea towels with your breed stitched and plastered on it…pithy sayings on cross walk signs specific to your mutt and the like. The owner was chatty and informed me that she really didn't need all the merchandise for the other breeds, pug inventory alone would keep her in business. I laughed as I looked in my hand to see a magnetic fridge grocery list and salt and pepper shakers, both shaped in form of fawn pugs. She had me. It was true. We spent some time analyzing and laughing why pug people open their wallets so easily while other breeds are content to have fridges and homes and office desks clear of clutter and imagery of Fido. There was no one answer but all these years later, I think of that moment and here I am, painting these creatures, my fastest selling, most inquired about pet portrait and I don't analyze any more. I'm grateful for the subject. The Pugnacious Puglet. The muse that invited herself in, got comfy and stayed for awhile. xo

"Blue Ribbon Pug" 11x17", framed.  Available at ElizabethW, Carmel, CA .831.626.3892

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Grow


There are some pieces that are stories under stories, paintings under paintings and are the journey, not the destination. I offer you Exhibit A: "Grow", 24x36". This was inspired by an international illustration contest I was encouraged to enter. Encouraged because it was hosted by an art rep that specializes in small business illustrators, artists and out of the box painters like myself and has an excellent reputation in placing these artists with book deals, licensing gigs and all types of artistic opportunities that I would very much like to be knocking at my door. The theme was "Terrariums". Any kind. Any style. Any theme. Take the word and run with it, baby! There are easily 5-10 versions underneath this painting as I got started, got turned around, discouraged, excited again, rinse repeat. I worked on it for weeks. I'd let it breathe, go back, work on a corner, paint over, re-read contest instructions and on it went, until the night before the deadline. Read between the lines: I really really really cared about this piece. And this is the vulnerable truthy part that makes this painting so sweet and raw for me. I thought I had a chance of placing in this contest. Maybe not the winner, okay, most likely not the winner, but based on other artists, genres, the history of artists this rep works with, it was a darn good fit for me and I had my cheerleader pom poms shaking pretty good in anticipation of making…oh, top 50? But that's not what happened. I did not place. I got a rejection letter. It stung. But guess what, I'm in the rejection business! If you write, paint, do anything creative for a living and put it out to the world for purchase or feedback….you will, I will, get rejected. Not gonna lie. This particular rejection hurt. Fellow contestants, previous winners and the artistic community involved with this agency are my peeps, my peers and I felt mighty exposed going out on this limb to have my fruit fall hard on the ground. Splat. I licked my wounds. I did retreat. The following weeks and months after The Rejection (I capitalize it now, melodrama is part of the artistic temperament) I stopped painting. Not flat out hand across the forehead I'll-never-paint-again-declaration. Just busy. Busy and bored and defeated and lazy and uninspired and any other excuse to not do the thing that I need to do. I have a part-time job, I run a greeting card business, I have life responsibilities, painting seemed frivolous, time consuming and a luxury. I looked at "Grow" daily. It hung in my entryway, a reminder to not give up but somehow also haunted me. Days later, packing for a trip to San Francisco, I loaded up my car with paintings for ElizabethW in Carmel that sells my paintings and although this big piece was not an ideal fit for them, I packed it anyway, hoping they would consider it.

And then the universe decided to throw me a softball. On one of my San Francisco visits, a dear old friend-employer-soulmate-art collector was flipping through my deck of new cards and stopped at "Grow" and said, I love that. What happened to it? Did you sell it? Where did it end up? And wouldn't you know. That one painting of all the paintings of all the cards in all my…well, you get it, just happened to be in the trunk of my car. In his parking lot. For him to purchase. Because he wanted to buy it. Because he loved it. That minute. And that's why I keep doing what I'm doing. Because once in a while the rejections turn into acceptance and doors that shut can swing open the opposite direction. Just when you least expect it. xo


"Grow" 24x36" SOLD

Thursday, September 25, 2014

4am Friends


I'm planning a trip back to San Francisco and Marin and can't help but think of the beautiful groggy WTF faces of the girlfriends I would call at 4am. I call them the Dead Body friends. They know where it's buried. Not that I would ever be a suspect but hey…if you've ever gone through a divorce…enough said.

So I post today thinking about these dynamic friends I don't see that often but carry with me in my iPhone every day. They are the ones that said: Paint, you can do it. Move, you'll find a community. Leave, you'll find another. Write, your audience will find you. Get healthy, you'll be grateful. And now it's my turn to to be the one who can pick up the phone at 4am, be the hooty wise owl if needed. Collectively, they are going through some heavy times. We will laugh, probably cry, these are sister friends. The ones who say shit you might not want to hear but you listen anyway because they are wise and funny and have your back and "get you".  Those ones. Those are the ones you call at 4am. And the ones that call me. xoxo

"Call Me" 9x12", acrylic on canvas.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Live in the Sunshine


Summer is almost over. It's not cold, in fact tonight is downright balmy & tropical for mid September, but the mornings have a chill and smell a little like fall and make me so grateful that I got out my trusty beach cruiser this summer and pedaled my little heart out.

Riding my bike is just one piece of the little things in my day that make me smile for no reason. Why is getting on barcalounger with wheels wearing inappropriate foot wear so freaking fun and funny? Beats me but I do it when I can because I'm telling you, a brief joy ride up and down my street is enough to make me feel like the big kid that I am. My bike makes me smile and smiling makes me laugh and laughing makes me feel free and feeling free makes me feel like making art.

"Live in the sunshine,
Swim in the sea,
Drink in the wild air."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Pink Beach Cruiser", framed in barn wood, 18x24"

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stop and Smell the Roses


Ok. I will. It's a rare thing, but I took my own advice this weekend and really did stop and smell the roses. Literally. Once at Suzanne's outside her studio and once at Safeway in their ratty floral department that can hardly be called a florist, but I took a whiff and they smelled good. Rosey.

And I did a few other rose smelling slow down activities, road my bike, painted, patted the cat, ate meals out with friends, read a great book and savored the homeyness of being home, being busy, but not so busy you don't appreciate how good, how basic and how nice things are, just for the moment. If I was Goldilocks, I would say, today is just right. xo

"Stop and Smell the Roses", 16x20"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Paint Brushes


If an object could be a self portrait or reflection of someone, this old mason jar would certainly qualify. It is in a perpetually murky state of usage, sitting on my desk or at Suzanne's studio. It's the reminder I'm a lousy brush caregiver, a promise of creative juiciness, and an icon of one of the things I love. An artist's talisman. Sometimes (all the time?) art supplies and the detritus of art making brings me as much joy as the act of creating. It's like browsing a great bookstore. It makes you feel connected, inspired, lit up with the possibility of all the yumminess there is to read in the world. Or in this case, paint.

It's why I decided last fall to bring my studio into my living room. Is it ideal? Not if Martha Stewart is coming over. But does it work for me? Yes. It's cozy and functional, occasionally cramped and probably has an expiration date because I can't work too big in the space but there is lots I CAN do and that's what I stay focused on. Many typewriters, tea tins and pugs have been born from this creative nook, the trusty mason jar of brushes by my side. Somewhere along the line, I realized that the perfect space, like the illusion of perfect timing, did not exist. Now is the time. The kitchen table is the space. Or coffee shop. Or friends studio. Or backyard or garage.  I lived in a cute 2 bedroom bungalow for a couple of years and the second bedroom was my "studio". Or art space. Or Room With My Crap That I'm Going to Organize This Weekend. It had large windows, hardwood floors, decent closet space and a view of the garden. Guess how many paintings I worked on in that room…in two years? ZERO!!! Sad, embarrassing but honest truth. What that room taught me, and even more honestly, other rooms just like it in my years of varied homes, is that I need to create in a space that is private but connected to the house activity. Even if "house activity" is limited to endless episodes of "Scandal" in the background, that is enough. I don't do well in a Room of My Own. A space of my own? Yes. Absolutely. The beauty of this discovery is that I know myself, what I can and can't do, where I shine and not to beat myself up. I can write, doodle, sketch, paint in a  large open room with lots of people or alone, as long as I'm connected to the action of life. How a TV or podcast can stand in as "life" is another story but hey, anyone who's walked into a hotel room and clicked on the TV knows what I'm talking about.

Here's to whatever our space is today, jars of paint water, stacks of art books and the hum of life around  us. xo

"Paint Brushes", 8x10" available at ElizabethW, Carmel, CA. 831.626.3892


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Red Dress


Some people have asked me, is it you in the paintings? Yes and no. Is it my spirit? Absolutely. Am I big kid wearing rubber boots and a summer dress? For sure. Am I beret wearing kitten? Ok, don't answer that. But I think it's inevitable that we, artists, are part of our pieces. I am a lifetime of being around buoys and boats and docks and cats and cozy couches and paint brushes and pie. It's like writing. We write what we know and love. I paint what I've seen and felt and love. I literally hear my heart on my sleeve. 

Ray Bradbury sums it up on writing but same could be applied to painting…drawing…cooking.

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for."
I think I'll get up now. xo



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Magical


Magical San Francisco. A follow up "biggie" to my original "San Francisco Love Letter" which S to the OLD, SOLD!!!!! (Thank you, ElizabethW store in Carmel.) Thinking about friends in San Francisco tonight, some are celebrating birthdays, some are recovering from surgery, some are sipping coffee at my old haunt and some are out walking their dog. As magical and mythical as San Francisco and area can be, it's also a cozy place I called home with all the normal things like dry cleaners and banks and used bookstores and coffee shops and cheap Thai food and mani/pedi joints. This piece is my salute to the goodness, the sink into the sofa with old friends feeling, the behind the scenes magic of wherever you live. There is magic everywhere. This one just happens to be a postcard headed towards Russian Hill. xo

"Magical San Francisco" 24x36",  available at ElizabethW, Carmel, CA 1.831.626.3892

Friday, July 25, 2014

Still Life with Pie


I like this painting. Now for those of you who know me or paint or both know those four words do not come so easily. There is almost always a "yeah, but…" And of course there is here too but overall, I feel good about this one because it's the first time I've done my version of a still life. I've done many solo objects, rooms with views, funny animals, etc…but this was purposely a collection of items, my funny items, that spoke to me and somehow wanted to be painted together.

I had just listened to the most recent Elizabeth Gilbert Ted Talk about "going home" to find your voice. She talks about comparing your past successes, failures, other "more successful" artists, writers or what I refer to as the looking behind you and in front of you syndrome. She reminds us to breathe into your own voice. And you'll know it when you're doing it. When you see it. When you pin it. When you read it. When you hear it. For me, it was skimming through some of my old journals/sketchbooks. There were hundreds of pages of semi-calligraphic doodles and hand lettering. Logos for products, woman's faces, coffee cups, banners, sailboats, anchors,  you name it, I have sketched  or doodled it. And how had I forgotten that?

Doesn't matter. I've remembered now. I had so much fun doodling right on the canvas, post painting, not worrying if it looked "good" or appropriate or fit in with the rest of it. It was like the canvas had become one of my old sketchbooks and best of all, it felt like coming home. xo

Thursday, July 24, 2014

No Autographs


What do you get when you mix over-sized red 70's sunglasses, a botanical garland headdress and some Free People-esque necklaces? Nicole Ritchie as a cat, of course. Or not, but this little soul has a personality that truly has little to do with me and everything to do with showing up and painting the character who wanted to come through. It happens like that sometimes. She is Gorgeous Girl, Miss Sunshine, Superstar and All That and a Bag of Chips. I think she's channeling all the confidence and fabulousness we need to tap into to remind ourselves, yup, perfect the way we are. xo

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Drafts: Part Deux, the Sequel



Final installment of my creative meltdown. Promise. Feedback is in, client is very happy, ergo, I am very happy. To be more precise, I am very happy that she is happy. I am not thrilled with the road I took to get there and I'm learning that not every painting, story, article, recipe turns out how you want. Trust in the process, right? Riiiiiight. Sounds good but whoever wrote that was not in the throes of writers' block or an 11th hour deadline. Pretty sure that person has already won a Pulitzer or is sitting in their Manhattan loft painting with their celebrity art friends. Cuz it sure ain't me.

But the good news is this: the feelings of panic are gone. I did my best. I showed up. I delivered. And now that I have a few days to reflect, I was really hard on myself. Harder than the client would have been. And now I'm on the other side, witnessing this part of the creative arc.

I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon a few years ago. The running part pretty much sucked. The idea was fabulous, the energy was amazing, going across the Golden Gate Bridge (both ways) was torturous and freezing cold and longer than you could ever imagine. But I did it. I finished the race walk-running but finished it on the slow side of respectable. When I was done, as tough and exhilarating and exhausting as it was, there was a "now what" feeling when it was over. I found myself conveniently forgetting the length of the bridge, the iciness  of the wind, the ache of the muscles. I even caught myself thinking, huh, maybe I'll enter next year and train harder. So here I go. I'm thinking, huh, that wasn't so bad. My creative muscles ache in a good way! If I can do this, what else can I do? So it goes. Here I am, breathing a little easier today, just riding the real life pendulum of art making in all it's real life beauty and messiness. xo

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Drafts


What does a grey royal typewriter painting have to do with my recent creative meltdown? Everything and nothing. The everything in that I have had a project due (see previous post) that challenged me in ways I've never been pushed. It questioned my ability to show up and complete something when the going got tough and the painting got ugly. It made me question my "voice", my aesthetic , other people's vision v. my vision, all that good insecure stuff we prefer not to air in public. But it got hold of me. And this is where the writing, the typewriter comes in. These past few days of deadline looming angst, I've been leaning in a little more to my writing. I figure if one muse was on vacation from the easel, then please lord let her have coverage at the keyboard. Guess what? It doesn't work that way! Or maybe it does, and I've been wound so tight that I'm not able to sit with the discomfort of things not artistically clicking.

Back to the typewriter. I posted this because it reminds me of my other love, writing. It reminds me that it's perfectly imperfect lines and shapes tell exactly the story they need to. My story. It brings me back to my roots, the things I love to paint, the quirky message I have to share. When you work on a piece for someone else, their vision, something happens that is both beautiful and confusing. Beautiful in that I am bringing someone's vision to life for them. Good! Confusing in that it's inevitable you start comparing artists, googling too many ideas, painting for someone else in hopes they will like it (kiss of death!) Bad!

I've learned a few things with this project. Insecurity is false. It's a big hairy monster in your brain only like the wizard of oz standing on a box. Insecurity is helpful. It can push you to start again, go in a new direction if you're not satisfied, go the long haul, stay up late. Get those details right until it has that magic. Drink that extra pot of coffee. Most important of all for me? Finishing. Yup. Boring little details of the creative life, but finishing is probably the most underrated, critical piece of it all. This was due on x date. I finished it and sent it on x date. If you are reading this and have ever started a short story, sketched a doodle, knitted one sleeve of a sweater, bought all the supplies to…(insert any DIY craft in the universe), you will know that completion is a Big Deal. I don't need extra credit for this, it's the way it should be, it's a profession and deadlines need to be met. But for some reason, when deadlines are matched with art, there is a vague watery finish line. Like, pretty sure I can finish by x. If it's not raining/sunny/hailing/cloudy/rainbowing. So, project is in, feedback is not, it's possible I'll be repainting, revising, revisiting but I showed up and stayed up. I remember reading somewhere about writing and showing up…"you can't edit air"….meaning, write your shitty first draft (Annie Lamott), but write it because you can't edit the blank page. Or canvas. Still writing. Still painting. xo

Friday, July 4, 2014

Beach Cottage


I am not here. At this beach cottage. And not gonna lie, a little grumpy about that today. Which leads me to today's thing I need to get off my chest. Thank you in advance for letting me vent about the mud in the muddling and the messy middle and the ugly art and the staying home all day on a holiday to complete a project on deadline and how you blow it and it just doesn't work and your rails are so off the track your head might explode so you walk away, take a break, do all those things rational people recommend, come back to it, and you derail even further, maybe so far that that it's a full blown train wreck and there is no hope in salvaging all of your work. That you've sacrificed the entire day for! Remember that part? (See date above: 4th of July. Boo hoo me.) Lordy lordy, it's one of Those Days and the calendar, the smell of bbq and the cheerful neighbor noises are reminding me that I should be outside enjoying said festivities. But no. I am in the vice grip of doubt ick why bother can't see straight I'll never paint again-iris. It's a somewhat melodramatic place to be but once I'm in it, I need to stay there for a while and really wallow. It will pass. It BETTER PASS!!!! Oh god, please let it pass.

So while I wanted to wax poetic about the charm of visiting an adorable aqua beach cottage weathered by the sea and sun, festooned with buoys, I am leaning into my other creative outlet, writing and while I might have given up on the brush tonight, I will write, post, get a few things down. I am working on a commission and for whatever reason, it's creative lego pieces did not click today. It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle starting from the outside on a curve rather than a straight line. No matter what I did, it felt forced. I rarely write about this stage of creativity while I'm in it because frankly, it's uncomfortable and when you're in it, you're not really 100% sure you'll ever not be in it. It feels real and forever. Like PMS. I decided I wanted to write this down because it's easy to give up at this stage. Who am i kidding? I'm totally giving up for the day! But I will go back tomorrow. That's the difference for me now. I don't all the way give up, revisit my art a month or year later. I recognize that it's part of the arc of creating something: the exhilaration, enthusiasm, disinterest, frustration, satisfaction, elation. Elation might be too strong of a word for me personally but contentment? I can be content when something feels done.

So today I visit my Beach Cottage, I piece I enjoyed painting very much, that brought me great happiness and I will focus on that. Happy 4th of July to you, to me and to the freedom of what that beach cottage represents, literal and figurative. Here's to happy creating. Tomorrow. xo

"Beach Cottage", 16x20" available at Capers (4525 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 206.932.0371)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Oak Bay High School


Truth. I have not posted this piece here on my blog yet because every time I look at it or think about what it taught me, the process, the story behind it, I get so emotional and start that cry that begins in your throat, leaks out your eyes, and threatens to unravel me. I quickly change gears and post a different piece. But the tears are happy tears so why not.

This is my high school.  I'll skip the historical and storeyed past of it but suffice it to say, it is an institution  in Victoria, BC. It is also unique in that you attend grade 8-12 there so I spent 5 years in this school. As any high school experience goes, some good years, some not as good. (There was the Miss Beasley perm situation in the mid-80's I'm still recovering from.)

But overall, these were halcyon days. It was an innocent time, a sweet time. I marvel that even as a teenager, or I should probably say, of course, as a teenager, I wanted to be a writer, an artist, a magazine editor, a book publisher, a fashion designer, an anything at all in the arts. (University carefully, seriously, removed all those dreams via Chaucer, political science, and french literature in the 19th century. In french.) Back to Oak Bay High School. I loved it and still do. It is a landmark in my hometown. Which brings me to this painting. When I graduated, my parents (also alum!) gave me a beautiful framed drawing of the school with a small brass plaque on the bottom that said "These are the halcyon days of youth."

Enter Kleenex box. Many years have passed. Maybe more than I'd like to admit. Enough years that my high school friend has a daughter that graduated this year from this very high school. Gulp. And out of the blue, she asked me if she could commission me to paint the high school for her daughter with a special quote as a graduation gift. It would be my honor. I realized then that painting has brought me full circle to my roots, connected old friends, and revived cherished memories that are now shaping me as an artist. I think about the quote my friend wanted for the painting, lyrics for "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Roots and it fills me with joy. I painted this for her daughter, to joyfully send her on her way, her new journey, just as my parents did for me. xo

I would like to reach out my hands
I may see you, I may tell you to run
(On my way)
(On my way)
You know what they say about the young
Well, pick me up with golden hand
I may see you, I may tell you to run
(On my way)
(On my way)
You know what they say about the young
I would like to hold my little hand
How we will run we will, how we will crawl we will?
I would like to hold my little hand
How we will run we will, how we will crawl?
Send me on my way

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!


It is Canada Day. (For those Americans reading this, saying, huh, there's a Canada Day? Yup, there is. And it's just like Independence Day, except July 1st. Go figure. But we're only 147 today. Just a kid.)

I've posted this monogram painting before, the letter C for Canada, but it bears repeating because I really really unabashedly love the country where I was born and raised. It has been many years, gulp, almost 20, that I have lived in Canada, but it's still home. My parents, my family, my roots are there. My ocean. My beach. My crumpets and scones and polite people and those polite people saying soooory,  instead of sari, when you bump into them. It's a good place to be from. Honestly, I don't know why I don't live there now other than I really love where I live now. Canada, specifically Vancouver Island, always calls. And today it feels warm and fuzzy and happy to scroll through the Facebook feed of all my red and white clad friends and family doing silly things on boats and backyards and bbqs. Just like we, here, will do in a few days.

So Happy Canada Day. I honor where I'm from, love where I am. And revere all things Hudson Bay blanket. Out. (Oot.) xo

Monday, June 30, 2014

This Happened


I had a lovely interview with a Rogue Valley reporter-fellow artist last week. She was kind, asked thoughtful questions. We drank tea in my home while it poured rain outside. She was profiling artists who were turning their art into a business. Our conversation was so, conversational, I didn't even feel like it was an interview. She did not specify where the story, if it was even picked up, would land. Probably the online version of Daily Tidings? Maybe the Tribune? Sooooooooo, imagine my SHOCK and total surprise happiness teary face, when I walked up to this on the newsstand. Front page, baby.



So, I had to do this. Put my 3 quarters in the machine, get my copy and act normal while I read my piece over coffee. What my jumping up and down voice really wants to say is this. This is a small local newspaper, not the NY Times or Oprah or some cool kids club, but as an artist, small (and by small I mean teensy weensy) business owner, this kind of community recognition is so heart warming and loving, my heart could burst wide open. So thank you, Ashland, the Daily Tidings and Vickie Aldous who wrote the piece, and all artists who are muddling, achieving, slipping on banana peels and getting back up.

Here's the article. xo

P.S. And as an extra universal joke on me, the day this was published, was the day my blog "magically" reverted to white text on white background leaving all my posts blank!!!! (Technical issue now resolved but seriously? That day?) :-)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Ace


Further proof of Cats Gone Wild over at the Carpenter household. Um, somehow this tennis pro kidnapped Mindy's brain and paintbrush and demanded her portrait. Her name is Ace. (Of course.) And she is a member of the ever growing strangely addictive furry family of Cats in Clothing. It would appear that they picked their wardrobes from the 80's classic, The Preppy Handbook, but we won't judge. We love her. The royal we loves that these quirky creatures are inside, a developing story? a children's book? I really don't know other than when ideas or images or themes come fast and furious it's generally a sign you're on the right path. The universe is hitting me a ball and it's my job to swing back. xo

"Ace" 8x10" available at Capers, 4525 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 206.932.0371

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Monogram Paintings: K is for....K


Like any good creative endeavor that comes from the heart, the A-Z paintings had about as much planning as a homemade soup. I knew what I sort of kind of wanted to create (heavy on the kind of), but didn't have a master plan. What it lacked in planning, it made up for in soul. Thus, I started with A, jumped to K and sort of meandered through the alphabet freestyle. This was my second monogram painting: small, 11x14", one of the first room portraits I did, destined to find a permanent home with my dear friend Kelly.

This little piece still makes me smile because it was the beginning of artistic liberties like a neon pink floor. And chandeliers. And chartreuse chairs. And quirky things that felt happy when I painted them. So I painted some more. Lots more. So here I am again, sort of kind of, in the middle of the alphabet and I'm amazed how much can change, in life, in paintings, in artistic influences, in only 11 letters.

I better make a big pot of soup. xo

"K" 11x14" SOLD

Sunday, June 22, 2014

J is for Joy


Joy is a hard thing to write about when you don't feel it that moment. I don't feel the opposite of joy: despair, sadness, depression or grief but I also, this very second, don't feel that bubbling over feeling I know very well to be capital, J, Joy. And that's ok. I do, however, deeply resonate with the Rumi quote I painted in because that is what has happened to me in the last year. I'm operating from the soul and that is leaving me joy filled. I'm a painter, a writer, a greeting card maker. The traditional path? Nope. The path I was (somewhat) happily skipping down? Sort of kind of in a meandering way but what I've learned is that the joy comes from DOING IT, not standing close to it, or reading about it (although that is very enjoyable, not to be discounted whatsoever). But really doing it, even in tiny baby steps, a doodle here, a blog post there, a whatever it is you love there, but putting your voice out into the world where you know you're supposed to be, that is a form of joy. Not every moment has to be that lightning bolt shazam joy, but Rumi got it right. The soul knows when it's in the right place at the right time and that is joy.

"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a JOY."Rumi

"Joy" 24x36" (available at Capers, 4525 SW California St, Seattle, WA 206.932.0371)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Monogram Paintings: I is for Inspire


SOLD! I tried writing something about inspiration or the process but back to my favorite Natalie Goldberg writing advice "What I really want to say is...."... I chose the word: SOLD! Because that's the truth Ruth. This is the first piece that sold in Seattle at my show at Capers and it made me very happy, very proud and gave me that glimmer that the yellow brick road is showing itself one little paving stone at a time. Corny? Maybe. But when you hurtle yourself in a car 800 miles north with 40 paintings and a whole lot of not knowing, it's a risk and a leap of faith. What if it fails? It still might. What if nothing else sells? It's possible. But what if "failing" is not an option and whatever comes of this show is a measure of success? I'll take door #2 thank you. I guess what I really really want to say is this. Selling a piece of artwork at a show, to a stranger, in a town I don't live in, to a non-family member supporter encourager, because that person just wants it in their home, feels great. Today I am inspired. xo

"Inspire", 24x36"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Monogram Paintings: H is for Harmony


Harmony. I am especially grateful to this painting if one can be grateful to a painting. Reason being, my friend Patty commissioned me to do this for her at a time I was a) scared shitless I was doing this "for a living" b) totally broke and c) really really needed the structure and project to work on to keep me on track for one more week. Going solo is like that. Sometimes it literally is day by day week by week. And this painting came at precisely "that week". And Patty, being that kind of friend, knew that and although she's never said, I'm guessing swooped with this request when she saw my boat was leaking.

It taught me a few things. I like commissions when instructions or ideas are clear. "I hate pink" works for me. "Two cats, two vases, the word harmony in any way you want to fit it into a room" is clear. It also taught me, reminded me?, about my old friend we artists love to talk about, Procrastination. I have in no way shape or form, mastered the art of overcoming it, however, I saw it, acknowledged it, and showed up anyway. This was probably my first real time example of showing up to create just by showing up. No angelic wings fluttering by my side or a bolt of lightning in my living room or that divinely inspired feeling you get in the shower or walking in the park or a road trip where you swear you've just written the great american novel in your head. Nope. Nothing like that. The calendar days were floating off the wall like an old movie prop and I knew, as a friend and as a client, I did not want to keep this project on simmer any longer. So I showed up. Just sat there. Literally. Then did a few bare bones sketches on the canvas and waited a little longer. I picked a color for the wall, painted it in and....something happened. A color informed an object and so on. And hours later, well into the night, I was still there, committed to finishing it and not only loving the process but loving that I had side-stepped Resistance. I realized that night, not for the first time, fairly sure this will be a lifelong lesson, that this is how shit gets done. One tiny thing done frequently. One paragraph at a time. One portion of a painting. One arm knit on a sweater. One mile in a marathon.

So thank you Patty and thank you "Harmony". Grateful for the sale, the friendship, the creative project & study in harmony when I show up. xo

"Harmony" 18x24"

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Croque Madame


Because I'm pretty sure that I only have one reader I'm 99% sure checks in on me, this one's for you Croque Madame. And if you are reading this in a sleepy hollow with croissant flakes on your lap, even better. I introduce to you, Jean Peal. (Pronounced, Zhan Pol, en francais, obvi.) 

La famille des chats (the cat family) continues. They are weird. And wonderful. And crack me up. And free me up. So I love them up. I won't lie, it's not the best feeling in the world when "coming home" to your art voice is painting cats in striped bateau french tees and berets but there it is. We all have a voice, a signature, a quirky go-to comfort zone that brings us back to our authenticity. We don't need to stay there...thank god I have baked goods and typewriters to fall back on! But man, when you're tired or weary or kind of burned out and it doesn't feel as fun as it used to, it sure is great to paint the thing that for no reason at all makes you feel like a kid having fun. They are the comfort food of creation. A good ol'fashioned grilled cheese. A Croque Madame, s'il vous plait. xo


Monday, June 16, 2014

I Spy Pie


I love pie. The flavor, the old-fashioned, down home fruit and crust deliciousness. I love that my Nana Kay made the best pie I've ever tasted and still to this day compare every slice to hers. I love that it makes me feel happy nostalgic and grateful that I have pie memories. When I was very young, my nana give me the dough scraps and let me me make miniature pies in metal cups, otherwise known as tarts but we'll go with miniature pie for story sake. I put that dough in my teensy scalloped edge tin, put a blob of strawberry jam or lemon curd in the middle and she popped it in the oven with her big pie and we let them bake together. She pulled them out and it was seriously a miracle to see that I had made a pie!!! I was allowed to eat my creation, sharing it with her, over a cup of tea so dark and strong that even with scoops of sugar and evaporated milk, it still looked like coffee. The more I paint or write or do anything creative, I am realizing it often comes from a deep and loving place of nostalgia. The times you don't even know are so perfect while they are happening but are roots deep inside you, informing your journey. Today, being the big kid I am, I spy pie. xo

"Cherry Pie" 8x10"
 (a series of pie paintings available at Capers, 4525 SW California Street, Seattle, WA. 206.932.0371)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day


This cool cat isn't my dad per se, but his bow-tied confident stylish attitude are definitely a nod to him. This family of cats have been coming fast and furious these past weeks. I think I have 8 or 9...and they keep popping up just when I'm attempting something "real". At the risk of sounding weird, but I'm beyond that, these cats tell me who they are going to be mid-painting. I'm convinced that they are God's way, the universe, my muse, telling me to lighten up, keep laughing, be true to my quirky irreverent voice and worry about the art stuff later. This is not what I thought My Art was supposed to look like but when I create these funny fur people,  I'm laughing, enjoying myself and shaking my head thinking I bet these will pass the Spencer/Sloane test (nephew/niece combo pack of best picture book reading duo I've ever met). In a nutshell, moral of today's story, making art for fun is good for the soul. Good for my soul. It lightens the load. Brightens the day. Did it make someone smile? Check. Did it make me giggle when I googled "cats wearing straw fedoras"? Check.

Happy Father's Day to all you cool cats, dads, uncles, brothers and good men who have been like father figures when someone needed that fedora wearing smile. xo

Thursday, June 12, 2014

G is for Glow


"I saw that my life was a vast glowing, empty page and I could do anything I wanted." Jack Kerouc.

Glow. The monogram paintings continues, much like me, jumping from A to H back to B down to T and around again to G, but I am dedicated or stubborn or OCDish enough to not stop until they are complete. I enjoy painting my roomscapes. (Roomscapes is my made up word du jour.) They have helped me turn a corner with my aesthetic and made me less afraid of a big canvas. They are also a lesson in creating from intuition. As long as I start, the rest will show up in nudges. Much like life. Road maps are good like my letters. Ok, start with G. What's a good G word? Not sure? Start with the room shape. Still no word? Oh, a mid-century modern white couch! That's a yes. And a starburst clock? Yup. So the couch, the walls, the lamp....and suddenly, I get "glow". And that is how I have found the last year of my life to be...much uncertainty but doing the next right thing that I do feel good about is good enough to keep going that day with the hopes that my glow will show itself when I least expect it.

"Glow" 24x30" available for purchase at Capers, 4525 SW California Ave. Seattle, WA. 206.932.0371


Friday, June 6, 2014

Seattle


Today is big. Today is one of those days that weeks and months and bad moods and euphoric highs and naps and stubbed toes and runs to the post office, painting sessions, late nights, unicorn pony tails, laughter and girlfriend coffee talks, have all added up to. I am showing my art for two months at a retail store in Seattle (Capers, 4525 SW California St.) and hung it today. I also drove 450 miles, had a variety of traffic and direction adventures, visited old friends and had some retail window shopping therapy. In one day.

This is where I say I'm tired. Overwhelmed. It's also where I say I'm so incredibly grateful that my life has taken this artistic u-turn. It's not the way I would have done it. I wasn't "ready". What does ready mean? It means doing one tiny microscopic thing every day that brings you joy because those days add up and eventually you have a whole pile of Your Thing, whatever that is. Pages of a book, a collection of landscape paintings, a cupcake menu, a food truck, a book of poetry, memoir.  This creative life does not have the security or certainty I'm fond of but the freedom and genuine happiness I feel doing the thing that lights me up, blows me away.

So I'm doing what all artists do on a Friday night in a fabulous city: watching Hawaii 5-0 and eating See's Candy. Obviously. And I'm happy tired. Hung 40 paintings, talked to countless people, walked all over the city tired.  Feet too sore to walk anywhere, muscles aching, zombie land, brain drain, the "good tired".  I have filled my 24 hours to capacity. I think this is what it feels like when you jump off a cliff and you get the first sign your parachute just might open.

Good night. xo



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Good morning


I've been awake since 4:30, up since 5:00 and gave in to putting the coffee on at 5:30. No more closing my eyes will make it night. The cat is awake, therefore I am awake. This little croissant cappuccino vintage book cafe mise en scene is not what I woke up to, I am not in Paris or Prague or somewhere magnifique that inspired me to whip out my Molesine cafe-side and paint my meal. That was last year. No, I am not in the watching the world go by artistic research phase.  I would call this phase more of a did I pack hammer and nails for upcoming road trip/art show, did I get the paint off my fingernails and brush my hair before I do "seen in public" errands like visit the nice lady at the bank and pick up groceries. Not that I live in a lipstick necessary kind of town, but this temporary phase I'm in, has been a shift, a funny/fanatical one fueled by one word: work. I am painting non-stop. Painting and framing and emailing and packing orders and painting again and running out to get them framed and painting and buying supplies.

The reason for this, other than the usual one employee operation of owning a small greeting card company, is that I am hanging about 40 paintings in a store in Seattle this weekend. They will be up for a month...maybe two...and the obligation and commitment of being a featured artist with a "show", maybe not in the traditional gallery sense, but a collection, up at the same time, for sale, is a biggie! A biggie in so many ways I had not predicted. The most obvious one, it takes preparation. It's one thing to fiddle around with something at home, put it down and know you can go back to it days, weeks, let's be honest, months later. This artistic commitment has a full circle feeling. As in, I need to show up fully, completely for all components, some of them ones I'm uncomfortable with (pricing, spreadsheets, photography, postcards, invoicing....). The clock is ticking and frankly, this deadline is the best thing that has ever happened to my art and my participation in the artistic process. In a nutshell, shit's getting real!

I will reward myself with the coffee croissant cafe world watching journal musing soon. But not yet. I leave early tomorrow for my drive to Seattle. I'll be hanging art on Friday, and maybe my Saturday, sitting at Pike Place Market thinking about the very very good parts of the full circle. xo

"Le matin", 8x10", framed, $160 (and why yes, it is available at Capers in Seattle!)


Thursday, April 24, 2014

For Sale


Telling the world that your art, creations, creative services are for sale is a whole other kind of business, one that I historically have categorized as Awkward, Capital A. I have painted for years. Mostly I have given away art and it wasn't until this past year when I developed a greeting card company out of these paintings (and had the pesky need for cashola), that I ventured into the world of Selling Art. Of all the things that have surprised me this past year, and there have been PLENTY, this particular "detour" on my path is probably the most surprising and exciting. Today. (I've also learned that the creative path loves a detour so I'm keeping my options open.)

Here's my top 10 low-down truth du jour on selling your original art in no particular order:
1. Pricing sucks. It's a near impossible act to get that sweet spot price just right and I generally underprice because my goal is to keep the energy moving. I'm not attached to my final pieces and feel like when I am done, they are ready for their new home. Having said that, it's helpful to do a little research to see what your peers are doing and get a few trusted friends to give you some feedback. As a beginner, my belief is to price to sell until you get the momentum, talent, and recognition to garner higher gallery prices. Sometimes I ask myself, what would I pay? 
2. It is thrilling & fabulous & fun to sell your original work. It validates. It is a universal high five from the sky saying keep going!!!
3. Make a lot of art and it is easier to sell. And price. And develop a style. And maybe even attract a collector!
4. I sell direct with the exception of one store in Carmel where they take my pieces on consignment and we do a split. This works for me. My output is not so prolific that I could have this arrangement with many shops. But this works great for me, keeps the flow, and is good practice for commission pieces. (They might say: we need pugs or something golf themed or florals.....nothing too specific but they give me customer feedback and I try to incorporate that into their next shipment.)
5. There are many modes of selling your original work these days, Etsy to BigCartel and beyond. Like life, it's what works for you. My success has been word of mouth, Facebook, keeping a blog, and exposure with my greeting cards in retail shops. It's what resonates with you. When I first had some pieces for sale, I put them on Etsy and had no response--for whatever reason, that hasn't been my thing and that's ok. I've learned to do more of what works and not try to swim upstream in areas that aren't clicking.
6. I continue to give art away. There are birthdays and special occasions and reasons for giving art away and it feels wonderful. I highly recommend this.
7. If something doesn't sell, it doesn't mean it won't or it's not "good".  One of my pet pieces that I reluctantly sent to Carmel was there for a year without selling and I thought, of everything I had sent them, it was the only one that stood out. I loved this funny piece. It was a Parisian toy sailboat cart in the Luxembourg Gardens. I liked it so much I made a card out of it. The card doesn't sell either! But it was my favorite! What's wrong with it? Well, nothing. The day came when someone walked in the store, looked around for a few moments, and walked up to the counter and bought that painting. No fanfare. It was waiting for the right person. 
8. See #2. Thrilling.
9. Fabulous.
10. Fun. 

Above pieces, for sale at ElizabethW in Carmel, CA. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love Letter


This painting is what my dad has affectionately come to call "A Biggie"! And it is a biggie, for me at least It's 24x36" and like many paintings, has had several lifetimes before the one you see here. That is the true beauty of painting for me. The do-over ability. The keep going effect. The forgiving nature of acrylics and how one small change or addition will inform the next move even when it feels awkward and sticky and why the hell did you paint that wall over that weird yellow color? Intuition.

The bare bones of this painting was started months ago--the outline of walls, the floor, a big chair, a window but nothing else. Maybe like a daily writing word count, I just got the paint down and worried about editing later. The pros and cons of that is that what I put down, I could barely look at for 2 months and it sat in the corner of my living room. (With the usual creative whining that goes along with it....it's so ugly, why did you buy such a big canvas, you don't know how to paint windows, what's the point, will it fit in the recycle bin, they come tomorrow...you know, the usual.) The pros, is that I did not have a blank canvas. I had some structure to work with. Maybe not something I was digging on entirely but some bread crumbs to follow. That is what painting has taught me. Following the small signs, the next right thing, tuning in to the quiet voice that says I think the Golden Gage Bridge needs to be in here or that chair needs to be big and bold and striped. I've come to trust the voice more and more and I find I get stuck, like I did when I started this one, when I have a predetermined idea of the outcome. This piece was meant to be soft and soothing, pastel colors, feminine and sweet. A floral chair maybe?  My palette on the first run was a sea of soft dreamy colors and at risk of sounding like the woo-woo Paint Whisperer, this piece did not agree. This is what happens to me when I start from the end. Here's the truth. I found the perfect perfect perfect frame for a canvas this size. So I bought the canvas with the intent to frame with a very specific end goal. The pressure! No matter what I did to this piece, I got further and further away from my vision until finally it retired to that sad and lonely place Next Week. I knew the second I took the canvas off my big easel, it was going to hibernate. Something didn't click and that something was my expectations trying to override the natural process and the fun of creating. These are the lessons I need to learn over and over and over again because clearly it doesn't stick the first 100 times. And that's ok. I've become accustomed to the "oh yeah, I should have had a V-8" moments when I get back in the groove, loosen up and lighten up.

So, appropriately, my calm and soothing vision turned into a circus, an explosion of color and BIG-ness. Do overs are a necessity. Following the creative bread crumbs are key. First drafts are critical. The art knows better than you do. And that lesson, creative muse, via stripes and marquee letters and iconic red bridges, is a biggie. xo

"Love Letter", 24x36", acrylic on canvas, framed

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Boots


I'm experimenting with gouache, painting in a Moleskine sketchbook and Willie Nelson lyrics. The latter not entirely true but if you ever want a laugh, google Willie Nelson quotes. While painting cowboy boots, he and Lyle Lovett were the two living country boys that came to mind, and between the two of them, they have said something about someone somewhere, all while looking nonchalantly Texan cool in those big ol' boots, bandana and braids. 

I need to swap out my creative medium once in a while--gouache for acrylics, charcoal for ink, Natalie Goldberg for David Sedaris, War and Peace for Eat, Pray, Love. I know when it's time. I start doodling, ignoring big pieces that have the background laid out, ripping out inspirational images in magazines, did I mention ignoring what's on my art table? If I'm lucky, and I was lucky with gouache, I love love love a new medium or technique and rush in, willy nilly, just getting messy, not caring what it looks like because the act of playing and using the new medium is satisfaction enough. If you haven't used gouache, I highly recommend it. This recommendation is based on nothing other than the scientific mind of Mindy Carpenter that goes something like this: omg, the colors, the colors!!! Look at the dreamy pastel color palette!!! The clerk at the art store called my palette he was ringing up "deco". "Oh, I see you're drawn to the deco palette". To which I replied, "I was thinking more Italian gelato." 

All of this just reminds me that creating should be fun. Am I some expert with this new paint? Hell no. But is it creamy and delightful and looks super cool in my new Moleskine and makes me want to paint quirky things like cowboy boots, converse sneakers and peony bouquets in my crazy new deco palette that's full of peach, pink, aqua and mint? Hell yes! That's good enough for me. The new medium, even just to play, is where it's at. So thank you gouache. And cowboy boots. And Willie Nelson for making me chuckle as I read some fabulously absurd deep thoughts. Me and my boots are having fun. xo


"Cowboy Boots", 6x9" Moleskine sketchbook

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Airports


I love airports. I hesitated after I wrote that because I thought, how funny, I am never relaxed enough in them to realize that I do love these midway travel points. I'm thinking about this today because I'm in one now on a longer than long layover that was necessitated by a mileage ticket with only one days notice. I'm sitting in SeaTac, sipping strong coffee, watching the planes and tarmac from a window seat in the atrium. There is an acoustical band with a cello, violin and sweet singer playing behind me. Elvis. Fools Rush In. I'm not traveling for a happy reason, going home to Victoria on short notice to be with family while my nana has taken a severe turn for the worse.

I have hours to wait. I have books to read, blogs to post, people watching to examine.  I am as plugged in as I would be at home, iPhone, iPad, Macbook within reach but there is something about airports for me that let me press pause on life and just be. Airports are a creative breathing space for me. Countless magazines to digest, guilt free reading and a place where my mind drifts. Places I want to travel to, ideas for art and paintings that don't have a name yet and chapter titles percolate. I am worried to be sure. I am thinking about my family, the reason for my visit. I am also watching the planes take off and land and staying as present as possible. xo




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wild Flowers


I sold a painting today. To be more precise, the talented and lovely Kelly Schulz at elizabethW in Carmel, CA sold the above painting today. ("Wild Flowers", 8x10") I rarely mention painting sales, and they are frequent and exciting enough to merit mentioning. But there is that artist part of me, like all of us perhaps, that shies away from really owning that we are tapping into our creativity to earn a living. I have no problem answering the Worst Question Ever, "So what do you do?" You mean, read, paint, exercise, connect with friends and family, mediate, write, drink coffee, hike, play with my cat, daydream, create mail art, cook, clean, decorate, shop, correspond, listen to NPR, binge watch Scandal, surf the net and do errands? Ohhhhh, you mean what do I DO that has value that makes green money? I own a greeting card company.  That is my IRS profession. But I wouldn't have said company if I hadn't painted a whole bunch of pieces months and years in advance of launching that company. It is the thing that "I do" every day, at strange hours, in bursts of activity, then long periods of post-carb eye glaze followed by what should I do with my life-itis. Then I snap out of it, get back to email, packing, shipping, creating, corresponding, selling, marketing, whatever the need is that day. The critical part that this painting reminds me of is that I still have hunchy shoulder, really, I'm an artist? reaction when I hear that a painting has sold. Happiness and joy, for sure. No doubt, I do a little (big) YES, in the sky, and thank the seller/purchaser. But old habits die hard. There is no profession that starts out with "I Used to be....".  Time to own this sucker.

It's been a long road to making art for a living.  It's nerve wracking, joyous, frustrating, exhilarating, lonely, fabulous, exciting, peaceful and a sentiment I can't think of a word for: more faith than you ever knew you could muster. That word. And that's why when I see this little still life and hear that it has sold, I think of me sitting in my studio/living room painting late at night, I think of my kind and generous friends who own a store and take and sell whatever paintings I send them. I think of the beautiful women who sell them, the person I'll probably never meet who bought it and I think about this professional road less traveled. I think of the years of baby steps on this path it took to even have the material and story to write this post. I think the heart does not lie. If you are being called, whispered to or flat out, bullhorn in the ear yelled at to step towards your creative thing, inch closer to your wild flowers. xo

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bird by Bird


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is one of my go to books on creativity, writing, micro-movements and getting it done when just about anything else seems more important, interesting or, let's be honest, distracting. The title comes from the story in her childhood when her younger brother was doing an overwhelming school project on birds and mid-meltdown, Lamott's father, intervened and told the child, just take it bird by bird. I resonate with this every time I re-read her book as if it's the first time I've heard the message.

When I was in a position last summer to make some difficult (exciting and amazing, but they felt difficult at the time) decisions about my next direction, I realized that I had been quietly practicing the art of bird by bird over the years, one painting at a time not realizing that they were destined for a greeting card line. A few of these pieces were a hobby. A bunch of them all together were a collection! Who knew!? And admittedly, If I was to do it again, they would probably be more directed, have a theme, a uniform color palette. But would I have got the job done if I had known all that? I slowly but surely did my 100 paintings, vowing to post on Facebook the good, bad and the ugly. And with that, I had 100 paintings. And then I kept going! I kept accumulating. When you have 100 paintings or 100 posts or 100 essays, you can edit and cull and refine. When you have nothing, you can't edit air.  I remind myself of this these days when the blank page seems vast and tricky. I showed up for my paintings, I was somehow able to let go of results and I wasn't critiquing as I went. I just kept going. The photo I posted is the cover of my catalogue. I love it because it's homespun, made on a shoestring budget with love and represents the sum is greater than its individual parts. Over time, showing up repeatedly, I developed a voice that was uniquely my own. I didn't plan on it being that one, I had no clue I was destined to paint neon buoys or girls on docks or vintage VWs or Hunter boots or typewriters ad infinitum. But showing up and standing still with my art allowed this to take life. Painting by painting. Word by word. xo

"Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." Anne Lamott