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