Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Again, I apologize for my absence on the blog but a post in the near future will explain in detail what the last two years have entailed for me, my work and of course my family.  For now, I can tell you that I am the Creative Director for The FAF, which of course begs the question - what is The FAF?  We are an all volunteer committee currently squeezing every last ounce of ourselves into making the largest, most successful arts festival that we can muster.  What was a handful of volunteers last year has turned into dozens - artists, residents, professionals, merchants.  We believe that art can bring people together, that if a community does not embrace culture and heritage and the arts that it will be lost.  The FAF, because of these efforts, has exceeded perhaps even our own expectations.  This September 28t and 29th, my little city of Woodbury, NJ will host an crowd expected to be over 25,000 with nearly 250 artists vending, exhibiting, working live, battling and sharing their work with the public.  My work will be for sale including originals and prints.  Stop by, take a look, breathe in some creative goodness and support the arts.  If it's not one of my pieces, than buy from one of these other artists.  Invest in art, in handmade, in craftsmanship and get all of your holiday shopping done in one day.  Thanks for your support and I will be in touch.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Thank You Woodbury Public Library

A special thank you to the Woodbury Public Library
for the placement of my donation of this Walt Whitman
rendering based on the famous photograph of the poet.

To see this print in person and check out one of the coolest libraries around, visit the Woodbury Public Library.  Programs include chess club and Friday night coffee house.  I'm not kidding.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


On April 1, 2013, my mother celebrated her 10 year anniversary being free from cancer.  She celebrated by telling no one.  This was partly because the date coincidentally falls on my daughter’s birthday and she would have no attention taken from her dear Scarlette.  Beyond this, beyond what my mother would consider a happy and meaningful coincidence in the date, rests a sense of privacy, of selflessness and a center which has never asked for the attention she deserves.
As with the other pieces I've drawn to honor other causes, I went searching for a meaning in a species of plant which would honor my mother.  For a friend celebrating his 10th year free from Leukemia, it was the peony, named for the Greek God of medicine and healing.  For a marine suffering from Lung Cancer, it was the gladiola which signified the warrior, the battle, the fight.  For my mother, I have chosen perseverance.

Lymphoma was one of many diseases, all lined up through the years taking turns, taking swings at her and too numerous to name.  Besides, she hates hearing the list.  The struggles continue and add up still today sending her through surgeries and new manifestations.  Most of the symptoms she keeps hidden and willfully managed despite near constant pain and discomfort.  Despite this, my mother has spent little time on self-pity.  She had me to raise and others to care for and money to make and she did it all well, exceptionally well.  She didn't have time to recover from a childhood full of horrors I dare not share because it isn't my story to tell.  The earlier the heartache, the higher and the thicker the wall you build around yourself and my mother has built herself a fortress.  She is a tell-it-as-she-sees-it character with no fear of judgment and an art of defense which keeps most at a distance.  Some would say she's a pain in the ass, stubborn and difficult and I think I'd agree at times.  But I was allowed the closest; close enough to see her at her most gentle, among the birds she sings to in the garden and the plants she apologizes to for pruning.  She was at her best with me at her side and motherhood, in spite of all the odds, suited her well because she had something to give and had held on to it for me.  I was her pride and joy and had the privilege of having her give to me what she never received, of having her create a world for me that was safe and fun and full of possibility.  My strength, my integrity, my courage all come from her and when I am at my lowest, my most beaten, I feel her build inside of me and I can do anything.  

She is perseverance and so I have selected the ancient symbols of plum, bamboo and pine which are known as The Three Friends of Winter.  They have been depicted together for centuries as a symbol of resilience.  They last the harshest of winters and the plum, especially, blooms early sometimes in the midst of snow as an act of defiance against that which would kill it.  The sketch is simple and elegant, not boasting or calling for attention.  I will be donating 100% of all profits for prints sold to a charity soon to be named.  I am giving the original to my mother so that she might know how I see her, that her struggles have been worth it because I am stronger for it and Scarlette carries with her the same fire.

I'll stop there as I'm sure she'd tell me to shut up and stop blubbering on about it.  Thanks for reading and to you Mom - Happy Mothers Day, Happy 10th Anniversary and Thank You, for everything.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Spring.  Finding myself determined to submit something to the most treasured of additions to our community, The Priya Art Gallery, I found myself perplexed by the theme of the show.  It was a natural theme given the time of year but for me, my instincts were quick and odd.  I did not see flowers or buzzing bees nor birds or beauty. Pregnancy.  Birth.  Pain.  Joy.  Confusion.  

I had my baby in the spring and so the first weeks of warm weather were reflective, anticipatory.  The month of March sends me back there.  As I think I may have written, pregnancy was not at all what I had imagined.  It was better and humbling but nothing of what I expected.  I suppose I thought I would feel as if I were making her in some way, creating.  Instead, it was as if my body, so equipped for this one purpose had been basically rolling its eyes at me every month, waiting to be set in motion.  And once that machine was set in motion, I was asked to sit back and shut up and stay out of the way as my body rolled up its sleeves, so very gracefully and all knowing.  Feeling more like a vehicle than a driver, I passed the months taking in proper fuel for the machine and waiting for her, a predetermined soul quite complete in herself waiting to be unearthed.  She belongs first to fate and the earth before she was mine.  

Expecting is on currently on display and for sale at The Priya Art Gallery.  Give them a like and stop in for a visit.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Twenty Years

There is a heavy fog outside with a drizzle and a chill.  Fog tends to put me in a magical and mysterious mood, like the setting of a classic Agatha Christie novel or the dream state that happens only moments before you open your eyes in the morning.  Mark and Scarlette have trotted off into the weather, umbrella in hand, for a much overdue date between daddy and daughter.  I sit perched at a freshly cleaned desk, music in the air and a ridiculously long list of work from a week of sickness and circumstance that has left me very far behind.

Where do I start?  This morning, I attempt to complete the editing of the first ten pages of what I hope to be my first published work.  While my other writings are in various stages of completion, this piece is near done and therefore gets the honorary position of being first in line.  This book will be, if all goes well, the publishing of the journal I kept while I was pregnant with Scarlette.  I thought I might share with you one of my entries from the journal that pertains to my husband Mark.  April 3, 2012 will be the twentieth anniversary of our first date and I thought it a perfect time to start reminiscing.  As for the sketch, this is another found piece from our years in Boston.  I must have drawn him dozens of times but there's only a few that seem to have stayed with me.  Here's the entry and the sketch.  Thanks for reading.

October 17, 2008 – 17 weeks

Where was I?  Oh yes, the greater purpose here.  Before we jump into lofty purposes and the mysteries of the universe, I suppose we should get you up to speed and tell you a bit about the last few months.  Actually, you should know about the last few years to get a good idea of how you came about.  Truth be told, the story begins before all of that, long before.

Monday, January 30, 2012

O Captain! My Captain!

I lost a mentor, an old friend in December and I haven't been able to write since.  I apologize for the silence on the blog but this blank screen has been staring me down for weeks and no matter what I type, I end up erasing all of it because I haven't found the words.  I will try, desperately, not to erase all of this in the hopes that I might share this with you because he was remarkable and worth the sharing.

Captain Kenneth Drake died unexpectedly on December 21, 2011.  Mr. Drake was my high school sculpture teacher.  He was more than that.  He was the first person to call me an artist, a word it has taken me the better part of twenty years to call myself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Breaking Through

Back to drawing.  Stay tuned for a new post coming soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Decisions Decisions

Arched Woman 2 Original
Rocket-propelled turtles or serious statements on womanhood?  I find that there are two very different people in my head who tend not to agree on much.  This isn't new.  This is an old story of mine.  Actually, I'm thankful there's only two duking it out up there at the moment.  This morning, I find myself in a very quiet house with a very quiet cup of coffee with no apparent opinion on the matter.  Dudley is also tightlipped on the issue and so I'm on my own.

At the moment, I have quite a few balls in the air but two very specific projects that are staring me in the face in the realm of pencils and paper.  On the one hand, I have a series of fantastical creatures on the verge of completion that will make a fine cast of characters in a possible children's book.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Gladiola

Sometimes, if you're lucky, life will turn around and give you a nice big kick in the teeth.  In the last few weeks, there haven't been solid kicks for me but more like little flicks on the center of the forehead, just enough to make me take notice.  There have a been a few dozen little flicks to the head for me lately, all of which stopped me in my tracks but only a few that have stayed with me - bizarre little circumstances and moments and news all unrelated but strung together resulting in a clearer sense of priority.

Amongst the bizarre little circumstances was some unexpected pain, a few exams and procedures which ended in all happy test results.  I'm perfectly fine but there was enough in the realm of possibilities to take my breath away.  I've been holding Scarlette a bit tighter this week.  Thrown in the middle was a 40th birthday party for my brother-in-law during which he and his thirteen year old daughter were both playing their guitars for a bit.  They sat together, side by side but it was hard to tell which one of them was following the other.  They were playing Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls, the one with that great repeating line "I just want you to know who I am" and for a moment, time stopped.  I will have that image of them in my mind forever.  She grew up so fast but was still here, half holding onto childhood and the other half ready for new chapters.  He looked half ready for the things to come and half wanting to rewind a few years and keep her here, his baby girl.   I held Scarlette a little tighter that night too.

And then there was the news of Jennifer Chancy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Let In Some Light

Last Friday evening, I was pleased to show some of my work in a local First Friday festivity.  One of the most popular pieces which was quickly purchased by one of my most faithful patrons was a work in charcoal.  I had created the piece with a technique I've loved since college which involves taping off the paper or canvas, filling the entire area with as much charcoal as you can manage and then working with a trusty kneaded eraser to pull away the charcoal and reveal an image.  In the end, you have an image created by an eager eraser finding the light.  There is something about this process that feels like sculpting to me, like the carving away of stone to find a figure inside.  How beautifully metaphoric as well, to pull away the dark to reveal light.  I'm a sucker for inspiring metaphor and so this process is one of the most enjoyable techniques for me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Number 5

Sketching over evening cabernet tonight and I thought this one was worth a post.  There have been so many wonderful compliments and thoughts shared not only on the blog but through the shop and over email.  You have all been so very kind and generous.  To an artist trying to find her voice again, your words of encouragement have been very dear to me over the last few months and I thank you.  Of all the pieces I've shared, there has been no greater response than to the crouching woman I posted last week.  She has brought more questions than anything, questions to which I'm afraid I may not have all of the answers as this is a series that has developed over many years and still seems to surprise me every time I put it to paper.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Garden Visitor

I'm up bright and early this morning with a quiet house and no sign of the sun yet.  Everyone is still asleep including my usual morning companions Dudley and Lola.  The coffee is extra strong but I've cut back on the sugar and truth be told, it was that magical third scoop that I loved the most.

I am thankful for the quiet.  This house and my schedule have both been buzzing with activity lately and the peacefulness of 5:30am is a welcome change. Autumn is one of my favorite times of year despite there being a mad rush around this house to prepare for winter.  All of the projects that were too exhausting to do in the heat of the summer are all crammed into the fall before the ground freezes and the weather gets too bitter to bare.  Amongst the list of ridiculously unrealistic goals for the season is the reshaping of the backyard, installation of a new fence and the removal of english ivy that has probably been here before the house was built in 1898 or at least it feels that way when you're trying to rip it out from the roots.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unfinished Series of Seven

Finally, I'm back to drawing this morning.  Huge cup of coffee, three sugars and the house is silent.  I suppose my mind and my hands are taking a break from rocket propelled turtles because it seems that I have my unfinished series of seven on the brain.  As mentioned previously with the posting of a self portrait I had completed years and years ago, there were supposed to be eight pieces but only the colorful hair ever saw the light of day.  The other seven have only ever turned into sketches and figures in notebook margins.  I suppose that's because the other seven are more honest where the self portrait was an idea of balance that didn't actually exist for me at the time.  While we're on the subject of honesty, it doesn't really exist for me now either.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Litte Red Bird Continued

So, where did I leave off?  Oh yes.  The "little bird" part of the Little Red Bird category in the shop dedicated to all creations with Scarlette in mind.  When I was pregnant with Scarlette and looking into different classes and approaches to natural childbirth, hypnobirthing came very highly recommended and so Mark and I took the class.  Before you roll your eyes, it's not hypnosis but more of a relaxation technique for pain management.  My labor ended up being barely manageable and there was no relaxation to be had but that's a story for another day.  I would still highly recommend the class and natural childbirth all the same.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Red Bird

If you hadn't already guessed, Scarlette is the Little Red Bird but I'm certain that you don't know the reason as only a few people in the world know the whole story.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, one of the categories that I have created in my online shop is titled Little Red Bird and it is dedicated all creations that come about with Scarlette in mind.  What I did not mention is how the name came about and so I have found the most ridiculously oversized cup in the cabinet.  I have coffee in hand and a few very specific songs from one very specific playlist repeating in my ear.

Red.  This is the first element of the name that came about and it is derived from her name.  Not unlike anything else that we do, the selecting of the name of our first child was going to be a long process.  If you've ever been with us shopping for anything, picking out the perfect Christmas tree, tile or paint or whatnot then you are well aware of how painful the process can be, that is if you survived and are not now heavily medicated and can't remember.  We skimmed through dozens of books,  scoured through old movies and novels and songs.  There was a book of 1001 baby names which we went through front to back three times.  Three times.  Three!  I'm not kidding.  We were able to narrow it down to a few dozen which we wrote in very lovely handwriting on large sheets of paper and placed them one by one on the mantel so that we could get a really good look.  Painful.  Then we took one name per day and said the name out loud to reference the baby or to talk to my growing pregnant belly.  That eliminated quite a few.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sand In My Toes

I'm back in town after a few days of rest and relaxation.  The sun and sand have left me still in vacation mode today with loads of laundry and a very confused two year old.  Scarlette is pretty sure that if she's a good girl she should get to go to the beach today.  "Good girls go beach?  Good girls go rides?," she says in the sweetest little voice you can imagine.   She has a point.  It's a good point to which I have a longwinded explanation about Daddy's limited vacation days and the cost of tickets and beach tags which she nods at very patiently, pauses and then repeats her question.  I've been having the same conversation all day to no avail but there's still some yummy Shriver's fudge left over which she seems satisfied with at the moment.  As for the shore, it was perfect in spite of the rain.  Scarlette discovered baby clams that dig into the sand before each wave.  She discovered salt water taffy, cotton candy and the thrill and combined terror of the ferris wheel.  Somewhere in the middle of rides and surreys and junky boardwalk goodies, Mark and I had about two hours to sit on a bench in the light rain holding Scarlette while she slept.  It was perfect.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hello September

After a month of daily sketches, I have to say I'm a bit relaxed this morning with a fabulously strong cup of coffee, three sugars for extra happiness and no actual timeline for anything.  That being said, I'm ready for another post!  

At the urging of my husband Mark, I've been dusting off some of my old works from ages and ages ago, in a galaxy far far away, once upon a time.  You get the idea.  Amongst dozens of art class exercises in proportion and scale and color and line, there are a few pieces that might be worth the dusting off.  While I've promised Mark that I wouldn't sell the original, I've decided to list a print of one of the first paintings I completed after college.

Completed.  That's an interesting word.  I'm not sure that I ever feel truly done with anything which makes me perpetually unsatisfied with the things I create.  That kind of perspective can be of great use in the idea that there is always more to be done, more to learn and more to achieve.  It is an ideal I hope I never lose.  However, there is an evil in it.  This very idea is what makes me not finish things.  I start something, find a frustration or a road block of some kind return to it only to find that the same idea is no longer in my hands and it's gone.  I put it away unfinished.  It's that seed of doubt that rots some of my work.  This piece would probably go in that category but I'm starting to think more organically in recent years.  Something becomes whatever it was meant to be, with signs of circumstance or conscious or unconscious influence and there it is.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eye Digress

Between the dogs antics, my two year old, a house of horrors, a husband with an unpredictable work schedule and, let's see, an earthquake and a hurricane, I was certain I wouldn't make it to sketch 31.  But here we are, the final sketch of the August 2011 series.  Does that countdown actually say 0 sketches?  Unbelievable.  I feel incredibly renewed this morning and a bit exhausted to be honest.  What a lovely sense of accomplishment though, all be it a small accomplishment but a finish line all the same. 

So, what's next?  Well, if you've been reading along you know that I've decided to continue the blog into September.  I can't promise to get up at the crack of dawn everyday to draw although I will miss the discipline of it.  What I hope to do is continue in the purpose of the blog which was to find myself in the creation of something, anything.  I feel on my way to it.  This little experiment of mine has been good for my soul and the overwhelmingly positive and supportive response has humbled me and raised my chin a bit at the same time.  I thank you for that.  Now, I will dig into works and ideas I've neglected or stored away, hidden maybe is the right word.  This wont' be a daily ritual of a blog but I hope to try and sit with some blank paper and my computer and my thoughts every morning over a very strong cup of coffee.  I hope that you keep reading.  There's more to tell.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feathered Friends

With only one sketch left and this little experiment coming to an end, my head is spinning with projects I have to finish and new projects I want to begin.  In the very long list of projects to be finished is Scarlette's playroom mural which is in need of a dozen or so more birds.  Not that she'd notice.  Scarlette seems thrilled about the purple owl that sits over the door and watches her play but if I don't get it done this autumn, it will never get done.  She'll soon be old enough to pick out something new for Mommy to paint on her walls and that will be the end of the unfinished feathered friends.

The list of unfinished projects is too long and almost too ridiculous to post here.  The list ranges from manual labor to life goals - paint powder room, teach Scarlette the alphabet, fix kitchen faucet, get book published.  It's ridiculous to have one list but I never know what I'm going to feel up to on any given day.  This afternoon, I'll be working on a custom drawing for a client while having a picnic in the side yard and then it's on to errands.  With feathers on the brain, I think I will try to get a few more birds on the wall during the nap today.  Hopefully, the day will cooperate.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Acorns of Autumn

Despite some protest from Dudley who is still a bit jittery from the storm this weekend, I'm back outside and roaming around the yard for a subject to sketch.  There's very little damage in the yard besides my lovely hydrangea and a few branches.  There is some evidence of Irene that has been left behind.  Covering the ground are scattered leaves and thousands of acorns displaced from their homes a bit early this year.  They make for uneasy walking but a lovely subject matter to put to paper.  The squirrels I'm sure will be quite busy today frantically gathering from the acorn buffet all of the yard and Scarlette I'm sure will be equally excited.  She loves to collect things like rocks, leaves, flowers and gather them together.  She puts them in piles.  She lines them up and tries to count them.  They go in the bucket, they get a bath with the hose, they are given as gifts to whomever is around and then promptly confiscated to go back into piles and lines and buckets.  She's at that stage of wonder that is intoxicating to watch.  Everything is new.  Everything is amazing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Waterlogged and tired but the house is still standing and everyone here is fine.  Besides some bucketing of water out of the basement and a very scary tornado warning, we fared very well.  No loss of power.  No broken windows.  No trees down and the lake is really not that high over the banks.

Scarlette had a blast.  With all of the excitement of checking for updates and Daddy in and out of the basement and candles and flashlights and rain and wind, there was no hope of getting that child to bed.  Absolutely fascinated by her own little flashlight which she thought could tickle you by moving the light over your belly, my darling girl was up and running and crazy until midnight.  She ate popcorn and mango and pretzels and whatever she could get the very distracted adults to give her.  The candles made for a great deal of entertainment.  Scarlette would sing her version of Happy Birthday and then blow all of the candles out.  Her version, by the way, adds cake into the song.  "Happy Birthday cake to you."  What can I say?  She loves cake.  You'd think she would've slept in after all of that but no.  She's up and ready for another hurricane.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baby Toes

Last night over some very delicious bruschetta and very strong mojitos, I got to catch up with some girlfriends of mine and fit in a much needed girls' night before the storm.  There was one person in particular that I was anxious to see which was Kristi whom I haven't seen in months.  She is very pregnant and starting to feel the pangs of things to come.  With three weeks to go, I think she's feeling the glow of pregnancy dimming a bit but she looks lovely and beautiful and ready.  The conversation was swirling with talk of braxton hicks and breastfeeding and I think seeing a pregnant woman is like going to a wedding - you can't help but think of your own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Newel Post

My intention was to sketch the view of the lake this morning but the fog is heavy and so I'm back inside.  Roaming around the house looking for inspiration and I've landed on the floor of my foyer with my huge cup of coffee and a good view of the staircase.  Before I blabber on about the staircase, let me just say that drawing architecture is not for the faint of heart, even old worn out architecture.  The lines and proportions are unforgiving and thirty minutes is barely enough time to get the basics.  Then again, the dogs licking my face and sipping my coffee aren't helping much.

When we were first looking for a house, the condition and price of this one was all wrong but there was something about it that made me make an appointment to see it.  I had done my homework and prepared some very serious and technical questions for the real estate agent about the condition of the electric and the age of the boiler and so on.  I was doing great all the way up the hill, onto the porch overlooking the lake, up to the double doors and I was still all business.  Then we got into the foyer and I saw the stairs.  Keep in mind, the foyer was covered in the nastiest linoleum you've ever seen and the stairs were covered in a disgusting blue rug that may have had a  strain of the bubonic plague in it from the nineteenth century considering the age and smell - yes I said smell.  But the newel post was calling to me.  The house was dark and a bit scary but the staircase was lit by the stained glass window on the landing and I lost it.  All my grown up questions melted into a weepy, squealing girly giggle.  It was pitiful.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Morning Charles River

No, there are no crew boats on the lake this morning although we have seen them rowing by now and then.  This morning, I'm thinking of Boston.   More than likely, that's because I've recently reconnected with some of my roommates from BU and it has me nostalgic and dreamy.  Amy, Sandy, Kristen and Kathi were my roommates in freshman year and we lived in a corner suite in a residence called Shelton Hall.

This may sound odd but the dorms at BU were quite nice.  Perhaps I was just young and away in the city but each one had a charm to it.  Miles Standish was an old hotel with the best dining hall and my room sat on the first floor overlooking a vacant side street that was screaming to be on the cover of a Beatles album.  Warren Towers was a zoo and that's actually what they called it, the zoo.  But there was an amazing few of the city and Commonwealth Avenue if you had the right room.  

Shelton Hall might have been my favorite.  That could have been due to the great roommates and the giant rice krispie treats in the dining hall.  But I think the top floor of the building had a great deal to do with it.  Shelton Hall was also an old hotel converted to house students.  That made the architecture and ambience quite a bit more enchanting than other cinderblock dorms.  The top floor was a huge open space  dedicated to study with tables and chairs throughout, surrounded by windows which overlooked the Charles River on one side and Kenmore Square on the other.  Most of the time, there was quiet for study but the dance floor sometimes found a few students practicing for their ballroom dance elective and the television often found the Red Sox on game night. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August Lily

"I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it."  That's probably one of my favorite quotes from Alice Walker's The Color Purple and more than likely why I subconsciously pick out purple flowers wherever I go.  When it came time for picking out flowers for the property, purples seem to pop up everywhere, amongst some reds and bright pinks but mostly purples and violets.  But before we could plant anything, we had to rip out years worth of neglect.  For anyone who has seen the property now, it's hard to imagine that you couldn't see the hill or the lake or the property line.  Each time, we cut something down, there was something lovely underneath just waiting for some sun.  What we found were hidden gardens.  There were clumps of roses and tulips and lilies that at some point in the 130 years of this house, were someone's garden.  Reading that back to myself, I think I've written it as if it was some enchanted soft lighted moment of epiphany as if it looked like some sculptured English spread as soon as we chopped away some ivy.  I think I left out the blood, sweat, tears and hospital visits.  This has been a long process and a battle at times.  Ivy is not a friend to stone walls although it reminds me of Boston and I hate ripping it out.  We have also found it quite hard to form your own garden design over years worth of other designs.  This brings me to today's subject - the Hosta.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fading Summer

The first of cool autumn air is pouring in the windows this morning and so I should've known.  When I asked Mark last night for his vote on what I should draw for this sketch, the answer was grapes of course with no hesitation.   

Every year, just about this time when summer starts to fade, he gets this inspired and rather restless look in his eye.  A few years back, I was in California for work and we decided to make a trip out of it.  We started in San Diego, stopped in Los Angeles for a few days of work then started north on route 1 all the way up to Napa.  If you've never been, the drive up route 1 should be on your bucket list.  There's something about it that feels like the end of the earth, almost undiscovered.  Napa was our final destination and we fell in love, with each other again and the valley a well.  And so, every year when harvest time comes, Mark gets a glow about the idea of escaping west and starting a winery in Napa or Sonoma or best of all, Oakville to make Cabernet Sauvignon.  Perhaps we will but for now, we'll keep migrating there when we can, when summer starts to fade and next time with Scarlette.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Flights of Whimsy

This morning marks the ten day countdown to this little experiment and I have to be honest, I didn't think I'd make it this far.  I have a life full of unfinished projects and so this had great potential for ending up in that heaping pile.  Instead, it's turned into more than I had intended.  There are now nine sketches that remain and as September 1st approaches, I find myself wondering what comes next.  This month has lit a fire under my rump and got me drawing and writing again which is where I'm always happiest.  September shouldn't close a chapter but open a new one and so I've decided to continue the blog.  I don't think I'll be stressing to get a sketch done at 5 in the morning for the rest of my life but I refuse to stop creating things.  This has been good for me.   What exactly September has in store for me I'm not certain but I'm anxious to find out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stone and Sky

Speaking of old stuff, have a I mentioned the house?  Not my house, not our house, THE house.  We own it, well the bank owns it, but when something in your life becomes as monumentally engrossing as this 130 year old home has become, it gets a "the" in front of it.  The house has become more like a character in the epic drama/comedy/romance/tragedy/triumph/horror film that is our lives.  To say that the house was run down would be very generous.  It was practically abandoned with a pentagram on the living room floor, a coffin in the basement (they used it as a haunted house at Halloween), squirrels living in the porch and a layer of dust and dirt and cobwebs to make any potential buyer run away screaming - except for us of course.  

I don't know why but the house spoke to me, sang to me is more like it.  The foundation was good, the stone walls were still standing and all I could see was Scarlette.  She didn't exist yet.  She was hardly an actual intention at that point but I knew she would come eventually and I could see her here, throwing rocks in the lake, rolling down the hill, reading on the porch.  Underneath the grime and overgrown jungle of a yard, there was a home and a history and something worth saving.  And I was right, at least about some it.  With every vine and overgrown mess we took out, underneath was a rose bush waiting for some light.  Underneath every plague ridden carpet and linoleum floor were original woods.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Spoon Full

A sleepy Saturday morning has resulted in a very late start to the day and to my sketching adventure.  Despite a much needed break in the rain, I'm inside this morning with a very well rested two year old and a sink full of dishes.  Scarlette is very busy eating yummy oatmeal and emptying my utensil drawers.  The kitchen, although smaller than I'd like, is in a cozy corner of the house with great morning light and lots of old cookbooks and copper pots.  I've decided to draw another of my favorite things this morning, a piece of my antique silver.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Glass Half Full

To be honest, some mornings this is easier than others.  Today seems like it will be a challenge from start to finish.  My sweet baby girl is really not so interested in my monthly goal here, nor are the dogs or the weather or the universe but I am determined.  I press on.  I find a way.  And so I sit here, holding Scarlette, rubbing Dudley with my foot, administering oatmeal, commenting on the show of the morning and looking around the room for something to draw.  Since there's really no shot of me moving from this spot, the subject matter will have to be what's right in front of me - Scarlette's half full glass of milk.  On an artistic note, drawing subjects of glass are a wonderful exercise for your eye.  There are reflections on the front of the glass, on the inside of the glass, on the table, distortions through it and on it.  What drawing glass reminds you to do is to look with your right brain and not your left, a hard learned lesson from one of my greatest teachers.  Thank you Mr. Drake.  I remember every word.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Mushrooms

I have won the battle of the mushrooms.  This wasn't a Lord of the Rings Tolkien style battle but it was a battle all the same and I won it.  For nearly a week, I've noticed the emergence of these lovely, tiny mushrooms popping up between the stones in the pathway on the side of my house.  Let's stop right here.  First sign that you need to do some yard work and stop going to the pool and sketching stuff during the summer is a village of mushrooms undisturbed in your stone walkway.  That being said, they were just adorable and so I set my mind to sketching them in the morning.  Coffee in hand, charcoal ready, no mushrooms.  They had wilted away into shriveled little nothings but there was a hint of new little mushrooms just below the surface so I tried again.  The following morning, I laid myself down on the stone path to get a good perspective on the mushrooms.  Apparently, the ants thought it was quite inappropriate for me to be there and so they attacked.  I, of course, jumped up screaming, trampled mushrooms and ran into the house.  The following day was rain, then shriveled mushrooms, then rain.  You get the idea.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ms. Lola Esterhaus Wigglesworth

World, meet Lola.  No, that's not her bed, that's my sofa.  No, she's not supposed to be up there but despite the fact that I've sat down across from her this morning with my coffee, pencil, paper and disapproving stare, Lola has not moved and so she is the subject for the day.  

Did you ever have a dog that ate whole sticks of butter, paper and all?  Did you ever have a dog that you found on the dining room table?  Did you ever have a dog that whines through the night unless she's covered completely with a blanket and will get up and punch you in the face if you don't comply?  That's Lola.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Phoenix

Flights of whimsy have won out again and so this morning we have a version of the phoenix.  I say a version because the number of ways I've seen the legend of the phoenix depicted is innumerable - some look like a peacock, some look like a hawk, some look like a dragon.  If you're not familiar, the phoenix is a mythical bird although some have argued that it is based on an extinct species of bird.  In the legend, the phoenix can ignite into flames and from the ashes, a new phoenix emerges.  The versions of this story are as numerous as it's depictions but the legend permeates through multiple ancient cultures.  And then there are legends of birds of fire and rebirth throughout eastern cultures with a similar idea.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Favorite Things

There is a certain mug that fits me just right.  It's not too tall and narrow, not to short and junky.  There's a wide mouth with a subtle taper and it's just oversized enough to be too much of a good thing.  The weight is comfortable and there is a heavy glaze over what is a lovely hotelware white.  Simple.  Perfect.  Not a chip on her and in a cupboard full of mugs, I pick this one out every single time.  Do you find that in all parts of life, the simplest joys in your favorite little things?  The ones that just feel like they fit you.  I do.  I've heard it called particular but I think it's knowing a good thing when you find it.  Well, this morning I'm glad to say she's not in the dishwasher and I have my favorite mug all to myself.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Peony

After a beautiful day of crabbing, a bit too much sun on my legs from sitting on the edge of the boat, a few extra hours of sleep and a lovely third cup of coffee courtesy of my sweet husband, I am ready to begin.  The skies are full of storm clouds and rumbling this morning and so I'm resigned to the indoors but with a worthy subject.  This morning, the sketch is of a peony which we have a collection of in our garden.  Unfortunately, it's not Peony season here but that's quite alright since I am basing this sketch on a previous one of mine that is close to my heart.  

Last year, a friend of mine celebrated his tenth year cancer free after a battle with Leukemia.  Not that any particular cancer or any age is more tragic than another but it was a hard battle and it was younger than anyone should be to face something like that.  For his tenth, Ed did what he had done for many years, he threw a benefit and raised money for the cause.  When his superwoman of a wife Mary let me know the plan, I knew I wanted to contribute something and I knew that my mother would want to be a part of it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Holy Claw It's Early

The sea is calling me today.  The sun wasn't out of bed when I awoke and this second cup of coffee is tasting like a very necessary third.  I haven't risen on this fine Saturday out of excitement for my next sketch but rather for a chance to visit the sea and embark on an old tradition in my family and a summer calling in this part of the country - crabbing.  Just so that we are clear, that is hand line crabbing not trap.  I certainly wouldn't have risen out of excitement for the sketch if I knew it was going to be a blue crab.  It seemed fitting for the day but not unlike the shell a few sketches ago, the imperfect art of nature is a complicated subject.  I believe that is in it's subtlety.  The progressive change of color, of shadow, the mark that turns into a bump that turns into a shape of it's own all come together in what is a seriously difficult thing to sketch at this hour.  That is why we have not the entire crab this morning but a modest and very humble attempt at the claw only.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ms. Badu

When I grew up, I wanted to be a black woman.  Well, when I was a little girl I'm sure I wanted to be a princess or something like that and I remember wanting to be an actress for the longest time.  More than anything though, I wanted to grow into a strong, powerful woman and there could be nothing more powerful, as I thought at the time and still do, than a black woman and more specifically an African American woman.

I'm not sure why but there has always been something in the African American story that has grabbed me, even as a young girl.  I didn't grow up in a particularly liberal family or one with any political or social discussions over dinner.  But I was raised with a strong sense of what is right and what it wrong and so when I read To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time, it became and perhaps still is my favorite book.  I was drawn to writers like Toni Morrison and W.E.B. Dubois, Alice Walker and of course Maya Angelou, after whom my daughter Scarlette was almost named.  When it came time for college, I tried on a few majors but none of them fit until my first class with Professor Silverstein.  Political Science 101, first lecture and I was hooked.  From there, I pursued the political angle of the story, with books like There Are No Children Here and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.  Always, I seem to return to this story, and so even when I decided against politics and law and returned in my junior year to the arts and the drawing I had so painfully neglected for years, I found myself drawing images like this one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ready Set Go

After yesterday's somber Finch, there's really only one thing to draw this morning - a rollerskating turtle.  The votes for subject matter are still firmly in the whimsy category and so here is a bit of whimsy.  No, I did not wake up with the random idea of a rollerskating turtle, at least not today.  This is actually a sketch I've done several times for a project I started for Scarlette before she was born.  I really must finish something.  Truth be told, it was the original design for the mural in her playroom which due to some indecision, a lack of paint and a lack of free time is now a collection of birds.  I've chalked that one up to a delightful wrong turn and moved on.  And so, this sketch, along with a delightful cast of other characters, has sat in my drawer unfinished and neglected.  Until now.  

The entire idea came to me years ago after purchasing a rather large iron pig with wings.  The "when pigs fly" concept took root in my head and began the wheels turning.  I had thought of putting them into a book for Scarlette which might still be possible but I think I'd like to complete them as a new collection for my Etsy shop before the start of the holidays.  This is only one of a dozen or so that I've begun.  He hasn't a name yet and there are a few elements missing but he's a work in progress and he makes me giggle.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Finch

Two fabulously strong cups of coffee and the addition of some charcoal has resulted in a solo finch this morning.  Birds are still all aflutter in my head because I woke up thinking about finches.  The plan was for a pair of loving, snuggly finches on a branch or a wire of some kind but then the first finch emerged so deliciously somber that it became the story.  Isn't that so lovely?  Not somber finches but when a story emerges from unexpected places.  I'm always so thankful when my plans go awry like taking a wrong turn on a long journey.  I love getting lost, it's the only way you find the things worth finding.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Of a Feather

I have feathers on the brain this morning perhaps because we have so many lovely birds in and around our yard.  From what I understand, the area around our house was a bird sanctuary at one time but has not been maintained as such for years.  However, there are birds here I've seen only in photos and nature guides and so I am convinced they are the descendants of the original sanctuary inhabitants.  I may also be biased to birds right now as I am in the middle of a mural for my daughter's playroom which will have dozens of birds holding up draping fabric.  Scarlette loves birds. I'm not entirely sure why but I think the movie Up and the giant bird named Kevin might have something to do with it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

From the Garden

The only thing I find harder than growing tomatoes is drawing tomatoes with a two year old who woke up at 6:30 in the morning and would like a six course breakfast while I hold her during Sesame Street.  To say that I don't have a green thumb would be giving me a great deal more credit than I deserve.  However, I have found more patience in my thirties and a true inspiration for growing organic vegetables which would be the price of buying organic vegetables at the store.  Scarlette and I went out early this morning and picked some tomatoes, string beans and basil and a few cherry tomatoes which didn't even make it in the house because I ate them.  There were also a few underdeveloped peppers that Scarlette decided were ready and at the perfect height for picking.  For this sketch, the largest tomato and a lovely basil leaf made it into the final image and will eventually make it into my lunch.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Full Bloom

Despite the wet, I've taken to the outdoors once again this morning but to the other side of the house where we've begun to form a garden of sorts.  There is a gate but the fencing still stands against the wall.  There are shrubs to be bought and planted and pathways to be created.  For now, it's a bunch of clay pots with organic veggies huddled in the center of the lawn and a few select plants that I put in the ground knowing that I'd want them there eventually.  Among them is a limelight hydrangea, the rather understated cousin of the colorful varieties.  This lovely bloomer is one of my favorites and it seems happy to burst into full bloom right around my birthday every year.  How lovely it would be without calendars or compasses to take your time and direction from nature that way.  I say this as I type feverishly on my MacBook.  I also declare this alliance with nature after firmly placing my chair three feet away from the hydrangea this morning in fear of the emergence of bees to which I am seriously allergic.  I don't know what happened.  Somewhere in my early teens, I stopped being a tomboy.  The girl who climbed trees and played with frogs and worms didn't want poison ivy or pimples from the dirt and started to fear a bit too much.  That being said, I spend my summers in bare feet in the yard so she's in there somewhere.  I will have to fake it for Scarlette's sake.  I firmly believe a bit of lying goes a long way.  Dirt is good.  Bees are harmless so don't scream like a little girl.  And yes of course we can go camping.  I can do that.  I can go camping.  For Scarlette, I can do anything.  For Scarlette, whom I want to be fearless, I can be fearless.  Or at least I can fake it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Shell From Distant Shores

It's a very sleepy Saturday here due to the lack of appointment or schedule and so I'm getting a bit of a late start this morning.  The universe is in line, the world feels right again and all is well because my very dearest friend in the world and his fiance are back from a three week stay in Ireland.  We spent last night over dinner and drinks, looking at pictures and telling stories and I feel like a missing part of my heart has been returned to me safe and sound.  Do you have that?  I hope that everyone has it at least once, a kindred spirit.  Sometimes you have it in childhood or as you grow with a brother or sister or cousin and sometimes you find it out there in the world.  I have been lucky enough to find it in my husband and in my dearest friend.  There is something bizarre and cosmic about it, as if something of yourselves have known each other from another place and you are not quite whole without them.  I am lucky enough to say that I have known that in my life and proud enough to say that I held onto it with both hands.

Friday, August 5, 2011

From the Ears of Babes

When my daughter Scarlette was very tiny, I remember taking pictures of her little features; her eyes, her chubby cheeks, the chunky monkey rolls on her legs, her birthmarks, her ears. I wondered if they would stay the same in some way until she was an old woman, if the smudge of a birthmark on her shoulder would fade in time with no evidence of it at all. Some of it I knew would change. The chunky monkey legs are all but gone now, she's starting to lose the cheeks and even the heart shape in her ear is starting to change. Perhaps even more pronounced then, Scarlette has had this beautifully defined heart shape in her ear that I hope does not fade completely. I'm not certain if it's common in the ear of a baby vs an adult but I was certain at the time that it would somehow make her life more loving, filtering out the ugliness of the world. It's one of a million little beautiful details of her that I try to capture in pencil or photo or memory.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tree of Nostalgia

The rain has kept me inside this morning so it's me, a delicious and rather oversized cup of coffee and my favorite pen. I finally found it in a neglected drawer mixed in with some papers and pamphlets from before my daughter was born. That and the fact that we went to see my niece in her play last night has tapped into my sense of nostalgia. She was such a little baby girl when she first started doing these plays and I remember her so tiny and rather shy. You'd find her amongst the herd of kids up there, a bit nervous and not quite at home. We've seen her emerge as the years have gone on but last night, she took center stage, stood up to sing the final song of the show, held her head high, looked straight through the audience and belted out this lovely voice through the auditorium. She was quite at home there and very grown up. And so, it's raining and I'm filled with nostalgia with a bit of whimsy left over from yesterday. You take some nostalgia add a smidge of whimsy, mix it all up with three sugars, cream and a hint of coffee and you've got yourself a tree.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Winged Things

This morning I've answered the call. There has been an overwhelming vote for Flights of Whimsy subject matter and so I put my imagination hat on and out came a winged figure.

Angels don't hold any particular interest to me but I have always been fascinated by winged things - birds, butterflies, dragonflies, sirens, griffins, harpies, faeries, the legend of the phoenix and so on. There is something so lovely and structured in the wing which takes fantastic shapes and angles. The idea of flight seems endlessly enchanting for humans so I don't think I'm alone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Of the Sea

I've just finished up a seashell study for this morning that I'd love to spend another four hours on so that I can get all of the details correct but that's not how this exercise is designed. I have to be happy with what comes out of me in about thirty minutes which is quite difficult in the study of a seashell. If you ever want a challenge, draw a shell. They have texture and pattern and intricacy near unmatched in nature. They are certainly a challenge for me, especially in thirty minutes and certainly for my second sketch.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And So Eye Begin

Truth be told, it took three cups to get me going this morning. Getting up an hour earlier than usual after a restless night of sleep with a restless two year old requires three cups especially for soul searching and drumming up of youthful rituals. So that's three cups, three-ish sugars each adding up to one seriously sugared up me and a pretty good idea of where to begin.

I can't think of anything more fitting than to start with the eye. For as long as I can remember, I've drawn eyes. I don't think it's a particularly unique subject to draw. You take some art classes, you like to doodle, eventually you sketch an eye. What's unique is the quantity. Drawing an eye was my most accurate barometer for creativity. I could always tell how much right brain I was accessing depending on how cool the eye turned out. I drew them everywhere. They covered my brown bag textbook covers in high school. There were eyes in the margins of my notebooks. I painted them on walls, on my college storage trunk, etc. I still find eyes amongst old notebooks and random bills.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hello me. Long time no see.

So once upon a time I was an artist or at least I thought that I could have been or people told me I was or something like that.

I don't know what constitutes art. I don't know what makes someone an artist. I know that I feel renewed when I create something. I know that I find myself in it, that I am at my best when I don't neglect it.

So, I embark on a ritual perhaps more for myself than for anyone, to create a sketch, one sketch, every morning for an entire month. In college, which was ages ago, I'd start each day this way and I could almost tell how good of a day I was going have based on how the sketch would turn out - great detail in the shadow of the eyelid equalled a better chosen outfit which equalled a more assured step out the door and we were off to the races.

I lost that somewhere. Actually, it just got more difficult to cultivate so there have been waves of it in years past. Having my daughter, my first child, brought it back like a flood. She has been like a rebirth of sorts but it's not without cultivation. And so again, I look to renew.

Every morning for the month of August, I will get up bright and early before the day has asked too much of me. Two sugars and cream, maybe three sugars with a perfectly chosen pen and I'll begin - nothing designed or contrived. Whatever comes to me, I'll put it to paper.

At the end of each session, I'll post the sketch in my Etsy shop and post in the blog to jot down my thoughts. I would love your feedback and some company for the month. Thanks for reading.