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


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


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!)