Sunday, November 29, 2015

Blogging like a boss & two other things I'm doing differently

Carpe Diem Papers

I'm not nearly cool enough to do anything "like a boss". Or even say it like I'm remotely living in a hipster world however…I am cool enough to realize, as the end of the year approaches, there are some business and art things I want to change and improve. And um, awkward, I don't know how.

So I did what we 2015-ers do for everything, I googled it. I googled a lot, in fact, went down a pretty dark rabbit hole of self improvement, marketing, life coach, writing, promoting your business, you can become an art rockstar while napping type websites and gurus promising the moon. So I narrowed it down and found a class and a resource that wasn't technical at all, it just felt right.

I'm taking an online blog workshop. And no, it's not called Blogging Like a Boss but I wish it was, I would have signed up months ago! I hesitated at first to write about taking a workshop but I'm very transparent when it comes to my art and business and the fake til you make it way of getting shit done. It's so easy for days and weeks and months to go by and often, for me, some of my art and business goals slip away as holidays come and go.

I re-read a recent post and this isn't a new topic for me. So why not give it a try? There's something about taking a course, paying your green money that gives it stronger legs to stand on. Plus, I love writing, bizarrely find this world of SEO, page ranking and headlines fascinating albeit  a little depressing that there is such a science behind it. I know, I know, I'm probably a decade behind all of this breaking news but I'm here now.

First, I am blogging like a boss.  I work for myself so take that with a grain of salt. Second, I am admitting I need some help in this arena which means yes, I will most likely be vacating blogspot in the near future. Is that like having hotmail? I thought I had this talking about life and art and biz thing dialed in but not really so I am asking for assistance, learning from a pro, and giving it a shot.  And third, I'm publishing this confessional, a little uncomfortable, definitely different, but enthusiastically freed up knowing that I'm bravely trying something new. xo

P.S. Oh yeah, the painting! "Three Apothecary Bottles", 8x10", available at ElizabethW Carmel

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Golden


This painting just sold. It was a bittersweet moment for me, heavy on the sweet, but pulled on my heartstrings nonetheless. I don't keep much of my work. I love painting, love selling, love shipping, the entire arc of being a creative entrepreneur. I put a lot of love into what I'm doing and once complete it doesn't belong to me anymore, it's out in the world for the next person. This is called paying the bills. And keeping the foot on the gas. And being a working artist. And every now and then, those rational things take a back seat and I get attached to something and on almost every occasion if I get attached, I know someone else will too. It's that feeling we are looking for in art, in words, in film, TV. Feeling something. In my case, I'm a sucker for nostalgia and sentiment. Not the sugary sappy stuff, but the weird quirky things that call me…a glass candy jar that my nana kept her humbugs in, old books, transfer ware, the smell of pie baking, the feel of the heavy card stock on a vintage flash card. The list could go on and does go on, ad infinitum. It's my job as an artist to try to capture these little pockets of that feeling, those sweet snapshots of golden. xo

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Redwing


My parents had this redwing crock in our house when I was growing up. Not this exact crock, I don't own it,  not sure where it ended up, I wish I did have it, but one just like it. Inspiration is funny like that, where does it come from and how do we catch it? Of all the million memories, images, objects I could paint from, a beaten up earthenware urn demands my attention? And while painting this, I could close my eyes and see that crock. On the back porch with other pots of geraniums and pots, pre-Martha Stewart, my parents had this eclectic way of putting things together that were homey, folksy, stylish and warm. I didn't know that then. But I can appreciate it now.

Painting this I slowed down, really remembered my childhood home, the back deck, the yard, the quirky things all over the house that I took for granted as normal but….really…mounted antlers pre-antlers being cool? That was a teensy bit weird back then in the age of Cyndi Lauper and Lacoste t-shirts. Today I so appreciate my roots. They serve as my memory bible for all things weird AND wonderful. It might seem like a small thing, an obscure Redwing crock with a bunch of peonies in it but for me, this is memory, a visceral incredible homesick memory that drives all that I paint and write today. I guess what I'm saying is that it all matters. All the stories, all the memories, the images, the dialogues, the good bits and the bad. You don't know when they will present themselves as the perfect gift you never knew you needed. xo

Monday, October 26, 2015

Schooner


Where does inspiration come from? Artists that have come before you? Color palettes that sing? Home decor? Fonts? Food? Fortune cookies? All of it. Inspiration fascinates me because I have learned, ok, am constantly learning with an "ing" that inspiration doesn't really exist before the art, it exists within the doing of the art. I can have hunches and inclinations and a knowing that certain topics, colors, ideas light me up but not one of them will surface until I meet it half way.

Take Schooner. I had this sea and sky background painted for weeks, sort of loved it in it's simplicity, even thought of leaving it that way but felt I lacked the "professional" polish to get away with something as simple as an ocean scape. It needed something to live on and in it. I wanted a mermaid and a whale. Bad. I have googled and researched more mermaids and whales than is probably normal or necessary but there you go. And within doing that, one single image that I wasn't looking for at all, popped up and literally "clicked" with my brain. That's it. A schooner. The quote came later, easily, found with little effort as if it had been patiently waiting for me to find this ship to paint. And that's what I call process.

I am headed to my studio today. That will require me getting out of bed to walk down my hallway into the living room. That sounds easy enough but in between there will be laundry, dishes, bizarre amounts of paper that accumulate in untidy mounds and a mystery ball of cat fur that resembles a tumbleweed. So now the vacuum is involved in this little scenario. All of it is necessary and a form of me resisting getting to where I need to go and forgetting that inspiration only hits when I'm physically plugged into the action socket. Right. That is why this topic continually fascinates me because I forget. I forget daily and need a constant reminder, in writing, painting, exercise, whatever it is that we make a practice, that I am the divining rod. My schooner mast can only get struck by lightning if I'm out sailing in the wind. xo

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Happy Accidents


This little piece, just 5x7", is a happy accident. I'm not being modest or oh shucks, playing the  I couldn't possibly have any talent game. It really is a fun accident that I'm very pleased with. It's a painting process that's new to me, one I used to loosen up, to switch gears in my process, a combination of changing brushes and style. And it worked. For this one. Now the reality. I did about 5 this way, all botanical still life, all a combination of this freestyle method and my own fairy dust and 4 out of 5 sucked. Like bad. Except for this one. This one has a certain charm for me and I'm sticking to my story.

The moral of this particular creative adventure for me, because I tend to need art takeaways in order to not put my head in the oven thinking I'll never improve is that only by painting a bunch of random cringe worthy flowers in garage sale vases do I get to walk away with a little gem. And I'm ok with that. Don't get me wrong, I'd really like every piece to have that clicking sensation when you know it works and it's done. That's just not the case with me and I'm pretty sure it's not the case with most artists, writers, cake decorators. The reason I can celebrate the four out of five "bad" ones is that I'm getting braver. It's ok to make mistakes in art. It's necessary to make mistakes in art. It's amazing to make mistakes in art because if I am, I am stretching and growing. 

For no particular reason, this little piece reminds me of my infamous cat-turkey painting. It was a cat. But was recognized and identified by a loving friend as a turkey. Because it resembled a turkey more than a cat. Fair enough. It was the early days. But I didn't give up. For sure, I was deflated my skills couldn't even pass the cat/turkey identification test. Here I am, several years later, still plodding along, turtle style, but without a doubt, there are signs of forward motion. Today I give thanks for both the happy accident striped vases of the world and cat-turkey moments, add them together and it's a beautiful patchwork life. xo

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Apothecary


My style is changing a little. It's cool to see when I send a collection of paintings to my customer in Carmel that while style morphing and changing is like watching paint dry (such a softball, could not resist), it does change over time with practice and practice. And did I mention the practice part? Ugh. The never ending Carnegie Hall quote!!!

That's it. Nothing profound over here. Just witnessing from a far that the last dozen or so pieces I've completed have a different….hmm…feeling. That's it. They feel different. Color? Subject? Not sure and I'm ok not knowing. These are the bright moments, writing late into the night, packing a card order, reviewing images, when this wearer of many creative hats in a small business can sit back (I am not sitting back, I am hunched over like Quasimodo's sister) and think, ok. Keep going. It's worth it. The paint does dry. And will need a fresh coat. xo

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wanderlust


I am not lost, nor am I found per se but I am in the midst of a wandering journey. It's my birthday tomorrow. Sort of a biggish one, a half way milestone. Nothing greeting card companies make raunchy jokes about or etch the number into martini glasses so you can carry it around your neck all night on a lanyard, but still. Significant to me. It's turned out to be a taking stock kind of birthday. The kind where you blink and half a decade went by in cups of coffee and paintings and massive life decisions like moving and new jobs and and not moving again when said job unravels and starting fresh in a new community and really not knowing what the hell I'm doing. And somehow learning partway on the long wandering walk that noone else really knows what they're doing either and plop plop fizz fizz oh what a relief that is! Thank God, we don't know what we're doing! And if you do, let's not hang out because I love the messy bits of people and love high fiving the figuring out as we go.
I am wandering. I am not lost. I posted this painting because I love the quote, do not love the piece. I did it upon returning from Peru where I was fired up about color, images, patchwork imagery, folk art and the sum being greater than the parts. I tried it. It's ok. But it's not really me. It belongs to someone else now and that's good, it's them. I love that about painting and writing. What is home for one is a just a stopover for another. What I do love about this painting though is that I tried it. It's big (24x36"?), I painted it when I was on the tail end of being very ill post Peruvian trip, I hadn't worked big for many months and I was weak but I was hungry. I wanted to get back on the horse. I wanted every color in the rainbow. I wanted a statement. Big. Bold. Tree. Of. Life. Thunk. I get it. Thank you muse for helping me paint it, move it through me, whisper that good for you that you stretched that muscle but maybe water polo isn't your sport…but yay, you tried!
I am a big believer in trying what makes me feel lit up. Full disclosure. I don't always act on it. But do I ever believe in it! Which loops me back to my birthday. I am turning 45 tomorrow. I could give you a laundry list of things I thought I would have done, achieved, be, do, own by now but that would be more boring than talking about the dream I had last night. I also have a list of well I'll be damned I didn't know you had that in you good for you achievements that I tend to only see from the rear view mirror. So I'm doing that. Took myself on a spontaneous solo road trip where the view is good in both directions. I booked a quaint hotel with a beach access room and….wandered. The town, the beach, more beach, the coolest driftwood forts I've ever seen, more beach, the local bookstore, cafe, my sweet little back deck looking out on the ocean and back to the beach. I did this because it is what called me this weekend. I'm not one for parties and big groups of people. I prefer small gatherings, intimate get togethers. I need books and art supplies and strong coffee and coziness.
I need to wander and know I'm not lost. xo

Friday, September 11, 2015

Have a Seat


This is my theme. A spurt of activity, a flurry of painting and writing and posting and deadlines and packing and shipping and ideas and…and…nothing. Well, maybe not truly nothing, the music is supposed to be in-between the notes after all. But it feels like an absence and it's one of life's great creative mysteries to me that something I feel so passionate about like writing and painting and a host of other supportive creative things I love, go dormant and not just a little. But with a grand thud. Here I am once again. Painfully peaking at the date of this blog, July 6h!! Two months ago. Over two months! And I've easily spent the last 60 days thinking about it constantly.  Maybe not this actual little blog space in the vast scheme of the internet, I mean really, does anyone read this? Bueller? Bueller?

I'm talking about writing in general. Writing the book. Writing the essays. Painting the collection of fancy parlors that are in my head. Completing the commissions that are due. Starting the series of botanical still life pieces that I'm drawn to, the list is long. The action is short. And it isn't. This is where I need to practice cutting myself some slack. Maybe this is how it will always be. The surge, the pause. Sprint, pass out.

I've been in a pass out state for the last month. I should clarify. I've been incredibly busy, maybe busier than my business has ever been, but also lots of out of town visitors, personal and professional travel, culminating in an old-fashioned stay with my family in Victoria, BC hang out with the fam and do nothing kind of two weeks of glorious getaway. It was divine. And I did nothing. And as I write these words it's washing over me that the nothingness is mandatory. The crappy photos on my iPhone of Victoria landmarks might be the juice I need next month (oh god, please don't let it be another month that I sit down to create!). Ok, next week. The jokes told at the dinner table could very well get me through the next rainy season of wah-wah. (That's a sound I just tried to make a word. Try it.) The ubiquitous tartan scarf wrapped around most Oak Bay walkers might be the magical finishing touch to a cat in clothing series. It goes on. What I'm trying to say, to me mostly, and if it helps anyone else, then high five, is that I'm getting more comfortable in the sprint, pass out of creative life. I know I'm reaching the end of my coma when I start feeling the need to talk about this phenomena. Oh this again, I imagine the creative gods are giggling. She's so cute that she needs to write about this 50 times before it gets through her head. Today, I opened up the bag of paints I bought in Canada and displayed them in a satisfying ROYGBIV rainbow. I'm inching closer. Today, I opened up the laptop to word docs and reread a few things. I sheepishly looked at this very blog and cringed. But tomorrow? I'll have a seat.
xo

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spine Language


I adore books. And reading. And bookstores. And writing. And all varieties of book related geeky things. Books have always been my anchor that keeps me in place, that reminds me of who I am. I collect books and favorite authors and feel like I know them, like we could be friends, right? I remember seeing Oprah interviewing a well known writer and she disclosed that after all these  years of interviewing celebrities, it was the writers that made her nervous and giddy. I can relate! They are the true rock stars of artistic expression.

Today, an ode to just a snippet of books I loved growing up. The ones that if I close my eyes, memories flood over me and I'm right where I was on that  sunny summer afternoon reading and getting lost. Hanging on to that anchor. xo

"Spine Language" 9x12" available at ElizabethW Carmel (email kelly@elizabethw.com for info)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ciao Bella


I am writing a book and it is difficult, exhilarating, frustrating, enlightening and the thing I can not not do so therefore I plug along, even when I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it, shaping it and knowing it's the right next pebble in my path. What I'm most passionate about sharing this exact moment, is that everyone, EVERY ONE, is an artist, creator, maker and not everyone needs to manufacturer their hobby to be considered a success, but whatever the Thing is, the gnawing, niggling, itch you must scratch no matter what, that is the thing you must follow no matter what. That is where the joy lies. It has been my experience that the overwhelm in too big of a project is enough to put it on ice for…a decade? You laugh, but I know what the unused art supplies look like…I have that closet no guests are allowed to look at. Bottom line, you must do one tiny thing at a time.

Which is why I'm writing about it, doing something about it, addressing it. How do you do it? How do you plug your socket into joy? How do you paint one corner of a canvas when your art looks like a ransom note but your heart wants it to look like Matisse? How do you write an entire book when you can barely write one blog post? You practice. I practice. When I first started painting with my mentor-friend-human being extraordinaire, she casually mentioned that one needs to paint for three years before they know what kind of painter they are. Um…? Three years? I was hoping for three weeks. I listened to that comment, did not want it to be true, filed it away in the mmmm-hmmmm, we'll see about that box, and painted away like a fool. Guess what? She's right. Three years later, I'm here to report that I have made improvements, I did not graduate to become the kind of painter who shows in fine art galleries, but I have developed a style unique to me and an aesthetic that is my own voice and sell quite a few paintings. I have miles and miles and highways ahead of me to practice and develop but she was right in that it requires practice. And practice is code for mistakes. Ugly. Ugh. What's the point. Really? What was I thinking? And then, occasionally, the sweet, oh, I didn't expect that. Wow. Fun. Really? I'm glad I didn't over-think that.

Progress not perfection. Ciao Bella. xo

Friday, June 26, 2015

Love Reigns Supreme (Court)


I'm not very political. I'm an American resident and Canadian citizen. I can't vote. I lean liberal on all topics but rarely know all the details, mostly I'm just anti-intolerant people, especially on all social issues. Having said that, today made me so proud to live in the United States and to witness many friends absolute joy who are directly affected by the historic Supreme Court ruling today. This is 2015. It is time. And I'm grateful, in awe and blown away by, what appears to be, an outpouring of love and acceptance. xo

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fancy Lady


Per yesterday's post, this painting could have been called "Oops, I Did it Again" but I'm calling her "Fancy Lady" instead. Born from some crevice in the brain, created through joy and a love of color and  playing dress up in my mind and in real life, I think I've discovered something that plugs in my creative socket for no reason at all and that is the best kind of reason. It's been suggested to me to do a small series: blonde, brunette, redhead and beyond. We'll see. I'm feeling it. And having fun and feeling fancy even though as I write this there is a unicorn pony tail on my head, no make up, a grey t-shirt the gap might have made in it's first year in business and not a strand of pearls in sight. But I feel fancy! xoxo

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fur Collar


Today's topic is brought to you by Rejection & Fear, two of those sneaky bustards that rear it's head in every artists life. Not what you thought when you saw that sexy blonde, right? Well, it's true.

Most creatives I know, myself included, have a repertoire of their things, their icons, their repeat images that they have doodles, sketched, painted in every notebook, text book, daytime, receipt or scrap of paper they own. One of mine is faces, portraits, woman's figures & fashion. They are random and prolific, adorning literally every corner and edge of all my sketchbooks. They rarely turn into anything, they are doodles, after all. But they are prevalent and go back, um, decades now. Why it hasn't occurred to me earlier to bring some of these ladies-faces-figures to life, I'm not sure, but they've stayed within the confines of notebook pages. The few attempts I have made painting them have not translated the way I had intended. (Insert entire chapter, BOOK, on what you want to be on the canvas rarely shows up.) So what happened what this. I found an artist, one of a zillion I admire, but this one particular, that resonated with me. Our styles are different but there was something in the way he captured quirky feminine elegance that captivated me and alerted my internal This Is My Next Thing radar system. So I tried it. In private. No one watching. No class or workshop. Just me and my cat and NPR and what happened was pretty cool. She told me who she was. For real. I outlined this painting, knew it was a version of my fancy parlor series, but Blondie here, appeared in her zebra-leopard print-red skirt-white shirt glory, and might have even said, don't forget my sunglasses. I have lunch with Anna Wintour at 1. (Okay, I made that last part up, but seriously, she spoke to me.)

Is this a new direction? Maybe. Maybe not. Is this painting how I wanted it to turn out? Nope. The big part in this is that I let myself do it. I picked a big canvas, a "good" one, the equivalent of writing in an italian journal, the one you're "saving". And then, just when I was about to high five the sky, the aforementioned rejection and fear, rang the doorbell. Avon calling. Turns out this piece is not quite right for the boutique I normally send my pieces to, they're going to pass. Rejection!!!! Fear!!!! Fear of rejection!!!! Okay, I got that out of my system.

This is the deal. She's not a fit for their store and that's ok. If this was a manuscript I'd be sending it out to 20, 30, 100? publishers before any feedback, let alone a yes. There is something about producing something that is different or fragile or raw that makes us feel protective of that thing. But I can't grow and produce more painted ladies if I stay stuck on validation or approval. I'd never paint or draw or write again if I was worried about it being good enough. Good enough compared to what? That's my lesson for the week. It's ok to put something out in the world and have it not accepted. Or not accepted the way you anticipated. This is a lesson that seems to mushroom up a few times a year so I'm not sure I'm done with this rascally rabbit but each time it shifts something in me that feels closer to ok.

p.s. She's hanging on my entryway hall.

"Fur Collar" 22x28"

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Geraniums


When I was in grade seven, a kid in my class, the other aspiring writer-poet-artist-good speller, Travis O'Brien, announced that his two favorite words were geranium and linoleum. This is apropos to absolutely nothing other than that memory hit me like the brick pot this is planted in when I wrote the blog title. Geranium. He said it with such confidence, as if he had been mulling over this favorite word idea for weeks. Linoleum. It does have a nice ring. He also had a shout out for the word onomatopoeia. Show off.

I am writing more these days, a little blog, a little personal, and the more I write, the more these random perfect memories pop into my head, the perfect nothing-ness they used to be but when recalled, are little patchwork pieces that make our quilt. Personal lesson of the day, writing begets more writing, painting creates more painting, practice makes…imperfectly perfect?

"Geraniums" 8x10" available at ElizabethW Carmel-by-the-Sea (email: kelly@elizabetbw.com)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

History


There are days when my I can't believe how good my job is. Or I should say, how brave blind unknowing naive excited scared I was to jump off the self-employed ledge and say, Whhheeeeeeeeeeeee and realize that today, one more day, the parachute did indeed open. The landing is messy and I'm not winning any awards for dismount, but when my dear friends have a new baby and they want to commission a piece for the baby's room, I say, push me out of that plane, I'm jumping!

And that is why I love my job today. Because I can create something meaningful and long-lasting for people, in this case, friends, that has nostalgia and sweetness that they will look at every day. Art was important to me as a child. I had lots of it on my walls. Weird stuff. Cool stuff. Things my parents had probably bought at garage sales or church bazaars. Pieces that meaning and I knew they had meaning, even then. Maybe not monetary value, but significant in their stories they held. The remember when we bought that from a store in Toronto the time Nana Kay was visiting?

I'm going to visit these friends next month to meet this little baby, adorable new munchkin and can not wait to sit in her room and be part of her history in the making. xo

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Chanel No. 5


Classics are always, well, classic. There's something so lovably sweet and chic about old perfume bottles, especially this one, the icon of all parfumeries. This makes me especially happy because it sold to a friend who has a nostalgic connection with her mother and Chanel No.5. When I create something that offers that kind of heartfelt pull, quirky burst of color and sweet sentimentality for a customer, I know I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. xo

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sea View


Girls on boats.  With a pet goose. That's what called me when the inspiration hotline rang, I picked up, and this is what you get. Nostalgia from growing up on the water, specifically on 2771 Sea View, my grandparents beloved home across from RVYC, and the simplicity of a small one sail boat. The boat I wished my Flying Junior was, the unpretty clunky learners permit of a boat, this is the improved fantasy version. When I started painting, I had no idea that the common thread in my pieces would be nostalgia, sentimental memories, snippets of sweet spots of real life today. I didn't have a vision or a purpose other than I loved to create, loved painting as a medium to express myself, but other than that this stream of creative consciousness is 100% divine inspiration. (Note: the divine inspiration plays hooky when I am not physically present. Big ol' no show. Just saying. Got to show up first.)  I would not have planned it this way. I did not wake up thinking, that's it, I'll make a career out of girls and geese and boats and cakes and fancy parlors. But instead, I just listened, present tense, I listen still, to the little voice that says what makes you happy? What feels good today? What needs to be plugged in to make you feel excited? And that's the beginning of every single painting, card, blog post…what feels good for no reason at all? And the louder the no reason at all is, the more I know I've hit a vein of gold. xo

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Girl


Am I a book girl. Yes. Is this a self portrait? Not intentionally. But it is a result of using up a juicy palette when the well had run dry. The creative equivalent of all dressed up and nowhere to go! And who likes to waste paint? I flipped through some art books, found something way over my head that I couldn't possible replicate and didn't feel attached to…and winged it. Winging with a visual road map works for me. I have an affinity for portraits but don't do them very often because…great question. Why? Because I am too self conscious, they are too vulnerable, awkward, I feel exposed, I could go on but the original statement remains, when I feel flat or need to recharge the battery, one of the first things that comes to mind (truth alert: I don't always DO this, but I THINK it!!) is portrait painting. And this time I did it. I hesitated posting it because…more pause dots. More dots meaning, why don't I want to share it? Who are these women, these faces, bodies, personalities? I have hundreds of them in journals, canvases, half finished, doodles, acrylics, oil, collage, they pop up over and over and over. I rarely finish them, they are underneath many of paintings, the under paintings that don't see the light. I guess it doesn't matter who they are or what they represent, it is simply a reminder that I paint or write or create what juices me up that moment. Someone once said to me, when I asked "what should I write about, I don't know where to start,  there's too much! And the response was, whatever excites you or ignites you this very second. I'm cool with that answer. Book girl. Portraits. Women with stories and a quiet knowing. That excites and ignites me this very moment. xo


Monday, April 13, 2015

Suggestions


As I have mentioned before, I am a painter, writer, owner of greeting card company and accidental creative entrepreneur. My hopscotch into owning Carpe Diem Papers was out of necessity when life through me an unexpected unemployment curveball. I was, however, passionate about making art, writing, helping others (and myself) find their voice, and surrounding myself with people whose life philosophy was that the pie was big enough for all of us. The rest, I thought, I'll figure out as I go along. I was also, and continue to be, a seat of my pants kind of dreamer and do-er. When I started my line, I used images from the blog I had been keeping on my 100 paintings. They were paintings of…well, weird and sometimes wonderful things I wanted to capture in the spirit of doing 100 paintings, 100 times. I did not create with a plan. I did not think that they would be cards. Or for sale. Or…anything. Some of them are huge on quality thick canvas, some are small primitive gouache rendering in a well loved sketchbook. At best, they were created willy nilly with a lot of heart. At worst, they were exposing myself to criticism and judgement. And that was kind of the point. Not to welcome judgment but to not be afraid of being seen as an artist. Work simply can not improve if you don't keep practicing it. Which leads me to a series of birthday cards I am working on. These aforementioned 100 paintings, and the 40 paintings that have since been added to card collection, rarely had a theme. It has been gently kindly and not kindly brought to my attention that my line, in order to SELL SELL SELL, needs categories. Ugh. And no, those don't include subtitles like My Cats. With these well-meaning suggestions, I have dipped my toe into the birthday/thank you/you're swell categorization of greeting cards and I have not melted. I can paint over them! It's not difficult. Like most things, it's only a perception shift. Do this!! Makes me want to do the opposite. Have you thought about doing this? makes me think, huh, that's a good idea, maybe I'll do that. This past week birthday messages have been popping left and right. Will they be for sale? Probably not. Are they fun for me to produce? Absolutely. Some I am painting over, some I am keeping the message and will gift the painting but all remind me that you don't need to see the whole creative highway ahead, just as far as your lights shine will usually get you home.

"Laduree and Brushes" 12x18" (no birthday message on finished piece) available at ElizabethW Carmel

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sometimes you feel like a nut...


Sometimes you don't. Tell me I'm not the only child of the 80's that remembers that Almond Joy/Mounds commercial. No secret around these parts that fancy mixed nuts are one of my favorite food groups and made even cuter represented by all time fancy nut winner, See's. These remind me of Christmas, special occasions, and the Corte Madera mall where I went into my first pristine white washed old-fashioned See's Candy to be greeted with a smile and a free sample. Did that work? You bet. The rest is loyalty history.

"Fancy Mixed Nuts" 8x10" available at ElizabethW Carmel

Friday, April 10, 2015

Come Fly With Me


Trophies, globes, vintage glass apothecary bottles, favorite yacht club mug…it continues. The still life obsession of the month. I'm not going to argue or cross examine creative joy and FUN. I think I'm in this one for the long haul. xoxo

"Come Fly with Me" 8x10" available at ElizabethW, SFO, terminal 3


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tea and Cookies


I am deeply at home painting tea and cookies and snapshots of a life collecting vintage treasures. Painting these moments reminds me why I have cupboards full of "you're keeping this?" knick knacks that are so much more. They are flea markets and old friends and international airports and cobble stone streets and farewell gifts. They fill my house and makes me feel good ( which is a juxtaposition to my other side that loves to purge--catch me on the day I go through my clothes and books!!!!)

That's it. Just working and painting sweet moments and enjoying the process immensely. And that's a pretty awesome place to be--enjoying the creative process is the magic we want. Even in baby bites. xo


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Limoncello


It's April 1st. Spring is here. It feels fresh and yellow even though today it poured, hailed, was hot, cold, windy and rainbowy. I'm under a little deadline right now (see yesterday's "Go Deadline!" post) and it's encouraged me to paint what I know, paint what I see, what's right in front of me. And guess what? I love hand picking my still life scenes! So much fun to revisit my cupboards with eclectic tea canisters that I can't part with, cookies and candy with great packaging, vintage trinkets, tea cups and more. It's been a trip down memory lane today, pulling fun things, putting them together, photographing and…painting. Today is "Limoncello". Inspired by the most amazing turmeric colored tea service my parents gave me years ago, a jar of Queen's Guard tea that has, possibly best package design I've ever seen, and an unopened jar of Italian sweets, Limoncello lemon drops. The abundance of the unexamined cupboard!

"Limoncello" 8x10" Available at ElizabethW SFO location.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Orange Vespa


Orange Vespas and imaginary flower-vined walls on a possibly European cobblestoned road makes me feel good.  I've been painting a lot recently and it also feels good. And the reason for more painting? Deadlines. The miracle workers of creativity. At least for me. I thrive under a wee bit of pressure. Just a little bit, too much and it's overwhelm and chaos and I'll never get it done hand on forehead melodrama. Not enough, days go by like the calendar in a black and white movie, pages flying through the air marking the passing of seasons. But if I can get it just right, said Goldilocks, things-life-art feel pretty darn good. Deadlines for an artist/writer/producer of anything-er, I believe, CRITICAL.Yes, all caps important. Take for example, my book. There is no deadline. So where is it? Nowhere! All patched together in pieces of blogs, essays, saved files, scraps of papers, drawings, and lists. And my card company? There are customers who place orders with a ship date which is a deadline so I pack it and get it out the door on time because….you get it. Paintings, same thing. I have two customers in California who sell my work in their store and guess what, they need it by a certain date. So I produce and paint based on their….DEADLINE!!! Oh, the simplicity of it. I know this, we know this, it's the clean house before the guests come over syndrome. Oh, this shiny counter? It's always like this! Same for our art. Oh, this finished product? I'm always working on something in my spare time while sipping tea and flipping through art books. Not. I create and paint because I love it. But I finish it because that's the home stretch and get it done deal we make as full-time artists and creative entrepreneurs. Thank you, almighty deadlines. As much as I curse you and fret and 11th hour you, deep down, me and my orange vespa brigade thank you. xo

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Still Life


Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things. And Daniel Smith paint. And recycled Laduree tea canisters. And well used paint brushes. And single stem flowers in vintage blue bottles. And. And. I could go on but that is today's still life. Life that is still. This was an impromptu photo I took last week of a few gems in front of me. It was one of those happy surprises where I realized that my work station had become a miniature still life and maybe that was the painting, the moment to capture, not the elusive image I was searching for on Pinterest. And it was. I painted it twice and today, maybe thrice. My best most heartfelt pieces come when I feel a personal connection to my subject. My heart does a little dance and giggle (my heart giggles!) when I remember my visit to Laduree in Paris, a complete and total meltdown of joy paralysis and the definition of losing one's cool. And here it is, years later, making a ballet pink cameo with it's buddies Paint Brushes and Daniel Smith Acrylics. Painting is a snapshot of life for me. When I started painting and turning paintings into greeting cards, I subtitled it (because not so secretly I want to write a book and books have subtitles so why not companies…??) "An Illustrated Life" because that's what my images capture. A patchwork snippet of life, the simple and joyful sweet spots. Merci, bonjour, and ladureee to the croque monsieur. C'est la vie. Still. xo

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bonjour


I'm searching for a topic theme ain't life grand moral of the story fall down pick yourself back up kind of pithy nugget to write about but I look up at my screen and see a cat wearing a beret and red striped sweater. With a heart Oh, and rain boots…because my french bakery cat might puddle jump later? Moral of the story is this. I got nothing today and sometimes that's how I roll. Still showing up, going to the studio to paint today, blogging, packing an order, doing all those one foot in front of the other type Wednesday type things. Today, I have "Bonjour." xo

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Explorer


It's raining today. Or promising to. Or it just has. But it's definitely gloomy and dark and misty and foggy and I love it. It's an inside kind of day where there is no guilt that maybe only an artist or writer feels when they are not playing in the park or running 50 miles or hiking a hill or whatever those athletic fresh faced people do when the sun is out and spring has sprung. Today I paint and write and it's an inside job and I'm all the way on board. And like a universal cherry on top, it's a Sunday, the permission slip of all permission slips to lounge between easel, lap top and kitchen (snacking tea making cat patting a critical juncture of aforementioned activities.) Today I explore. In Hunters boots and puddles other people are jumping in and that's ok with me. I'll explore from my imagination and memory and see what kind of adventure I can get myself into. Happy Sunday. xo

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I❤️SF (the sequel)


This is yesterday's companion piece to I❤️SF. I used to have some resistance to painting the same subject multiple times, as if each painting had to be original thoughts, a fresh idea, ripped from the headlines, Never Before Seen! And then I realized that is total crap and every artist repeats themselves and not only is it normal but it is good and necessary to find your voice. What a relief. I love looking at artist's portfolios either on their websites or books or Pinterest and see, with a nod of recognition, that we all repeat our stories. It's our language of expression, our own personal dictionary of icons. Mine happens to be fancy parlors, chairs, bikes, sailboats, chandeliers, typewriters, eclectic vintage finds, quirky animals and words and quotes. And color! I love my dictionary. It feels like going home when I'm not sure how to express myself. It's a safe and comforting place to revisit if I need to reconnect.

With that in mind, this red bike will most likely be joined by it's sister fleet in the days to come. And if could add an audio to this post, it would be the chime of me ringing my beach cruiser bell. xo

Friday, March 20, 2015

I❤️SF


I❤️SF. It's true, I do. I lived there and in it's lovely sister, Marin County for many years. But what I love maybe even more is that here I am living in southern Oregon, a different kind of lovely, a lifestyle lovely, and I am drawing on memories, instincts and a knowing from my internal scrapbook for these new paintings that will celebrate San Francisco and I don't feel a longing to live there, but a sweetness that all the bread crumbs in life really do lead you home. 

My friends are opening a new gift store, a third location for EizabethW, at SFO, Terminal 2, opening April 1st and that ain't no April Fools joke! Although life is funny. The entire time I lived there I doubt I painted one single Golden Gate Bridge, rarely rode a trolley and, full disclosure, baseball is not my thing. (True story: I once brought a book to a game. And read it.) But that's the way of life in any iconic city, you rarely celebrate the tourist attractions but they absorb into your skin, become the backdrop for your daily life. 

So today I paint pink bikes and billboards with San Francisco ephemera and think about the hundreds of times I crossed the bridge in the morning with my Buckeye Roadhouse drive-thru coffee in the console, gauging the day by the way the fog came in, how many boats were in the bay, how hard the rain was coming down and always, even on the best days, there was a little piece of me that thought, wouldn't it be lovely to be at home, painting writing cooking creating, owning a business, writing a book, living a more simple, less stressful life. Maybe one day. 

Little did I know…xo


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Carpe Diem


I'm back from a little writing painting creating hiatus. Mostly the break was from writing, blogging, book writing and I find it so curious (aka, annoying) that the very thing I must do, that calls me, that screams my name is the very thing I avoid.

Painting. Yes, love it, occasionally drag my heels, procrastinate, find projects that satellite the actual art making like running a small greeting card company that reminds me of painting but eventually…eventually I always come back, I show up and sit down or stand up but find that place to create. Somehow I have incorporated an internal habit that will bring me back. Not always quickly but my compass knows where home is.

Writing. Why can't writing be the same way? The not so quite voice in my head just yelled at me, actually yelled, PRACTICE!!! Because I haven't practiced that showing up muscle the same way I have in painting. Inteeeerrreeesting, I say, as I stroke my imaginary academic beard. It's true. I paint a lot. I paint things I love that are sold to wonderful clients but I also paint things that turn out so atrocious I literally wince when I pull them out of the blank canvas pile to reuse. I paint commissions, fancy parlors, dogs, cats, beloved VW bugs, sweet treats and sailboats. I often paint them again. And again. That is what I was taught. Do it over and over and eventually you will find your voice. My very wise painting teacher and mentor told me it takes three years to become a painter and to find your voice. And that three years is assuming you're doing your art all 36 of those months! My interpretation was, oh great, I'll just go hang out for three years, come back and won't that be fantastic that now I'm a painter/writer/calligrapher/chef….insert your own creative passion pursuit. Nope. I got to do the ugly stuff. Put the miles in.

So practice, my voice says. Hmph. You taught yourself to go back to the canvas and that's working out ok for you. You didn't die of embarrassment showing your work in the world. (Ok, once or twice I might have actually had a pre-heart attack of anxiety, shame, panic or humiliation. But that's another blog post.) Practice. Today, in the spirit of practicing, I have set my iPhone timer for a whopping 15 minutes! That's right. Fifteen minutes, per suggestion of Sam Bennett's very wise book. As I write that, I recognize how tiny that increment of time is and how for the love of god shouldn't I be able to show up for that and yes, I did. (The beeper just went off.) I seem to have plenty of time for the rest of my life and it's varied commitments. Today, just for today, I showed up for one of my creative passions that keeps tapping me on the shoulder. For that, I am grateful. I am grateful that the habit of painting has informed the habit of writing that I am hopeful that I can remember this feeling, this itty bitty time frame that really isn't scary at all, has shaped my day in such a nurturing positive way I might even head over to the canvas to practice and stretch a few more of those muscles. xo

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Toasty Love


This is Toast. He is a bundle of adorableness that is also my last painting of 2014 and a very joyful commission I completed in the 11th hour or 12th if that is possible. He makes me happy and when I say he, I mean, him, the painting, the love that went behind the request for commission, the couple who received and loved it, the works. This is when the doubts and fears and um, really, Robert Frost, the road less taken has a lot less certainty on it moments, fade away and I have some peace knowing that I am in the right place at the right time.

I made some bold proclamations in 2014, some out loud, many quiet, and lots came true. Some didn't and that's ok. Part of this creative journey is not beating myself up for the woulda and the coulda. I did my best, I definitely showed up and I will wrap this deep thought up before Jack Handey arrives.

Takeaway from Toasty Love and 2014? Say yes. Show up. Be kind. Say yes to all the weird unexpected fun but I'm too tired things. Show up for inspiration and for dedication. The work gets done on the tired days. Trust me. Be kind. No explanation required but kindness and generosity of spirit make all the rest feel like toasty love.

Happy New Year's. I am loving 2015 already. xo