November 26, 2007

1,833 Miles Away

I had some close friends that hosted a "See Ya" party this past weekend. When I looked around the room I was just floored at the quality of people in the room and to think these people call me friend -- so talented, funny, smart, artistic, witty, encouraging... WOW - how BLESSED!!!! I particularly remember meeting my dear friend Samantha when I first moved to Southern California. She was in a book study group I was part of and I just thought of her as just another beautiful L.A. blond and dismissed her (I know - how awful of me!!!) She spoke to me after our meeting and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked talking to her - kind, genuine, curious, asking me more questions about myself than my mother and truly appeared to be truly interested. We ended up talking over coffee and I completely enjoyed her company and our conversation. (Why was I so quick to judge?) Finally after a couple of hours and well past our work night bedtimes, we said good bye and she gave me the most interesting funny compliment I think I've ever received. She said, " You know, if I were a man I would want to date you." I laughed and knew I had found my new best friend. Over the years we have done a great deal of traveling together and I've enjoyed every single minute. But mostly I've enjoyed our conversations, about life encompassing dating, marriage, art, writing, books our hopes and disappointments. I know the conversation will continue even if we live exactly 1,833 miles away!

Morning Sun or is it "mourning"

Three more weeks... and soon my life here will be a memory. I could run around snapping pictures of places and people that I don't want to forget - and I have been doing that - but there are some pictures that do deserve the time of a painting. One such image I don't want to forget is that of BabyKitty sitting in the morning sun on top of my couch - just after her breakfast all happy and squinty. A full tummy and warming in the sun. Really, isn't that happiness? Purrrrrrrrr.

November 9, 2007

Meeting Susan Branch

It's only five weeks away from "moving day". As I'm packing, selling and throwing STUFF away - boy do I have lots of stuff - I've been thinking a great deal about my 5.25 years here in Southern California. Lots of learning, lots of disappointment, lots of self-discovery the hard and painful way... as you can see my head seems to naturally sink toward the negative. I would have to say these past years have been the hardest of my little measly life thus far. At this point I should probably just crawl into one of my moving boxes and close the lid. But I don't because beside me is a stack of books illustrated and written by Susan Branch waiting to be packed. And finally, I remember a good Los Angeles moment...

Mother's Day Weekend - May 2006 Susan Branch opens her store in Arroyo Grande, CA
That is a 2.5 hour drive for me - which I make with my stack of books on Sunday. I'm particularly fond of Susan because she's a fabulous artist who didn't go to a fancy schmancy art school to paint, she just did it on her own and because she loved it. And, after reading about her on her website, I felt she was my beacon of light at the end of a winding tunnel. She has a very similar story to mine (read here) and I wiped a tear or 50 from my eyes when I read it. I felt both the sadness and hope and I wrote her a really long letter to telling her so.
Okay, Okay, so I finally find my way to her new store and wait in line for about 45 minutes because she clearly has a lot of other fans besides me. The woman behind me has offered to take pictures of us (I'm so grateful - SB fans are the sweetest) And it's ALL I can do not to cry. I'm so excited, there's so much I want to say. I tell her how much her work and life story means to me and how I've been struggling with my own illustrated books. She gave me an encouraging word that I've never heard from any writer or artist before. She said there was a timing and it would happen when it needed to happen. SIGH!!!! Pressure to achieve before I'm 40, before I leave L.A., before the chicken is done roasting, you name it ... Thank you Susan for those honest words. All this pressure wasn't getting me anywhere anyway.
She signed my books - and I did cry a little on the way home - perhaps it was the release of all that pressure.

October 30, 2007

Seeing Blue

BIG sigh - I can finally see blue in the sky again and Baby Kitty's nose is clean and she is no longer hiding under the bed...


Living In The Moment --- the theme of my friend Autumn's first book for young adults entitled Carpe Diem. Last night I was determined to finish this book not because it was difficult to get through - but lately I've had so little time to read and I missed my new friend Vassar Spore - the protagonist of this fabulous adventure. I was so pleased with this story, but beyond being a good read, it really spoke to me and made me think at how life really should be an adventure and not an ever growing list of things to do and achieve. Read it! Read it!!!!
"Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, is it only to see what light it throws on our plans for the future. The present is never without end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so." - Pascal's Pensees (the epilogue of Carpe Diem)

October 24, 2007

The Burning Continues

Mornings in Long Beach are usually very bright and white. I snapped this picture from my back porch pointed directly at the sun. This picture is pretty accurate and I'm stunned at how heavy the cloud cover is even 6 blocks from the ocean. BabyKitty is napping under my skirted bed where it is cool and the air is cleaner. It's funny how animals know when something is not quite right and they can find the best place of peace. If I could fit under the bed, I would join her. Instead my only choice is to blow my nose again and drink water to wash down the soot I feel is covering the inside of my throat. I'll close the windows again today. And hope to get as much done as possible before the heat in my place becomes unbearable. I'm starting to wonder how much is left to burn.

California's Four Seasons

... earthquakes, floods, riots and fires.....
the air is so hot, dry and sooty. A friend said to me it felt like the world was coming to an end. The heavy dark gray skies, ash everywhere and the strange dull yellow color is so oppressive. I pray for those who are displaced and have lost their homes. My discomfort is nothing compared to so many others here in So. Cal. I was lucky enough to receive a book I had ordered from the U.K. entitled The Gentle Art of Domesticity. I had a brief hiatus from the gray and dark clouds all around and above me. Such a beautiful book full of color and inspiration.

St. Louis and Mary Engelbreit

Back in the spring of 2002 just months before I moved to Los Angeles I flew to St. Louis to visit my brother who was in seminary. He had a friend who worked for Mary Engelbreit and arranged a tour of her studios where her magazine "Home Companion" is put together. It was certainly a highlight of my life. I even got to hold an original piece of her art work and made my brother do the same - he had no clue about how lucky he was to hold her art in his hands. I told him he would regret it if he didn't do it. He held her pencil sketch reluctantly then carefully handed it to his friend. It was on our way out that we ran into MARY ENGELBREIT. I was so excited, I was speechless. All I could say was how nice it was to meet her and how much I really liked her magazine and art... she must hear that a thousand times a day. Well, now that I'm moving to the city of Mary Engelbreit maybe I'll get a second chance to say something better... who knows.

October 11, 2007

Life is Like a Bowl Full of Peppers

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Life is like a bowl full of cherries" But I would have to say, my life has been like a bowl full of hot peppers. Spicy certainly can be nice, but sometimes it just plain ol' hurts going down. So my peppery life continues as just recently I've made the choice to move to St. Louis - having to choose between St. Louis, New York City or stay in Los Angeles. This decision was dropped on me at work just hours before I left to visit my folks for some R&R, mom's birthday and painting time. I have to say, I couldn't not have planned a more perfect place to move to - St. Louis is a wonderful place and chalk full of artists, designers, my brother and his wife and their coming baby (YIPPEE!!! I'm going to be an aunt for the first time) and affordable houses. WOO HOO!! I am soooo looking forward to owning my a home and decorating it! My head is swimming with ideas. But best of all, I'm hoping for a studio with lots of light pouring in. Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday Mom!

September 24, 2007


Last week didn't start out very well. Disappointment and frustration seemed to be the theme. Someone once said to me that the heart of discontentment and disappointment comes from one's own expectations. And somehow you're not supposed to put all those expectations on someone else, an event, a relationship, a painting... Very, very hard not to do. Live without expectations? While I ponder that and think if it's even possible, I continue with my work, my projects and soon the week has moved to another theme - one of hope and that life isn't that bad after all. When I lived in Texas they had this saying that if you didn't like the weather, just wait a minute, because it would most certainly change. And it did. So I apply that to my days and sing along to my favorite Pink Martini song "Hang on Little Tomato. "
My friend had me paint her beloved cat Katybelle which I finally finished and sent off. I had lots of great pictures to work from, but I have to admit, not meeting the cat made me nervous. It sounds strange but pictures only show so much and meeting my subject matter really helps me create a true likeness. Just writing this I hear how hoity toity that sounds, but it's true. I look forward to meeting her and hope she's like the cat I got to know when I was painting her.

Coloring Inside the Lines

The other night I spent several hours on the phone with a dear friend and writer who was filling me in on her life and what her little girls are doing. Her oldest is in first grade and really stressed out (Did you know they give homework in the 1st grade??!!?? - what is up with that?) This little girl, like her mother is very capable and smart and just wants to do it right. She loves school, getting good grades and pleasing her teacher. Her teacher really emphasizes coloring inside the lines. I certainly understand the importance of coloring in the lines, learning to control your hand and movement, paying attention to the details, being proud of your work. But this is really quite stressful for this little girl and it makes me so sad that coloring has to be stressful.
When I was a kid, I distinctly remember how at peace I was with my box of crayolas in front of me --which I meticulously arranged in some order by shade or rainbow order ROY-G-BIV before even beginning my coloring masterpiece. I would color in my very own coloring book, one that I did not have to share with my brothers. I'm sure I spent hours upon hours at the kitchen table or laying on the rug in my bedroom coloring inside the lines. All I had to think about was what color to put in those lines to make it a beautiful masterpiece. Sometimes I would play color games -- if I could only choose one, which would it be? An impossible question to answer. Even now, I can think of very few things that bring on such peace. I think I'm going to treat myself to a big box of crayons and coloring book today. But at some point, I'm not sure when - perhaps first grade - I started drawing my own lines to color in. These step by step instructions come from Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals. I've had this book since first grade I do believe and still LOVE looking at it. He still makes books to help kids and (big kids too) learn to draw.

September 15, 2007

Still Learning to See

Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush a fire with God: but only he who sees takes off his shoes. - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

For the first time I saw the difference in sunlight and I couldn't have missed it if I tried. I spent five days in Miami for work and returned to California late in the night. I woke early the next day to the strange light in my room. What a different color the sun is in Miami - strong, piercing and white. While in California it is gentle, yellow, creating softer shadows. I was delighted to realize that I'm finally seeing the different light. Watercolor is the medium of light. So after all this time, I see the difference, but can I paint it?
Training one's eye to see to paint the light on a flower pedal or the shadow on the field might seem like a completely different task than seeing in one's life. I have to work on seeing the sacred and not labeling someone or something before I truly see them. Sometimes I see what I so badly want to see, because it's just easier. When I paint a still life in strong light I have to look for the light on, let's say, the apple. I have to leave it blank because on my palette there is no white. The light, the white is the paper. It would be so much easier to take heavy white gouache and place it where the light hits the apple after I'm finished the painting. But it doesn't look nearly as luminous or true. I sometimes do that with people. I've decided he is wonderful but I have not seen. I myself paint in the light because I didn't look for it so now I have to paint it in trying to make him work in my painting. Over the years, I've learned that before I start painting, I need to sit still and look at my subject matter for a while before brush hits paper. You look for the lights. You look for the colors you see in the shadows and in the reflections. You look to know, so when you finally paint, you do so in certainty. And you keep looking all the while you are painting. Another wonderful paint metaphor to be applied to life, especially my life. So now, I put my shoes back on, lace them up and leave the bush I thought was burning. I never will stop looking for the sacred in life and people. But, I plan on taking my time to really see before I take my shoes off again.
Zinnias from my garden painted August 2007

September 9, 2007


I can't believe it's September and I haven't written anything on my blog since July!!! The honest to goodness reason is that I've been traveling a great deal with my new job - Vegas twice, San Francisco three times, Chicago and Miami. This is my new life and it's pushed and pulled me in a direction I never planned but certainly think will ultimately be beneficial to who I am to becoming as an artist and now a career woman (gulp). The most discouraging part of this new job is the lack of time I've had to paint, missing Baby Kitty, my friends and learning to live out of a suitcase. But I'm determined to make the best of it. I take my paints with me now, my cat ignores me 80% of the day anyway, my friends can call on my cell phone (I bought more minutes) and living out of a suitcase - haven't found the positive to that yet - but I will. I am almost finished with a new watercolor of my friend's cat that I brought with me this last trip. I'll post it as soon as I put the finishing touches on it. All this travel is making me paint/draw even when it's not the most convenient and surprisingly, I've been doing some cool things. Of course I'm still working piece by piece on GerAmyum. Here's the latest - not sure if it will go in the story but we'll see....

July 20, 2007


"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what he saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see" - John Ruskin

Oh, to see better... and then what do we do with what we see - paint it, photograph it to help others see and see things we the artist don't even see. So much of my painting these days has been about "finishing". I'm forgetting to see. This quote by John Ruskin, Victorian art critic and artist always makes me stop and open my eyes. (By the way, he also didn't think women could paint or draw ... hmmmm) Beyond art, do we see the man we pass on the street or who makes our morning coffee?
Some of the art work I enjoy most are those in which the artist paints something I would have missed, that I would never have caught my eye let alone attention. Andrew Wyeth's work sends me to the moon. If you're looking for a good art book get this one. I just never get tired of it and BOY can he see. The picture to the left is in the corner of my parent's garden - they've watched many a bird fight over that bird bath.

July 15, 2007

Meet GerAmyUm

I'm half way through my summer art class at the Art Center. As with any class I've taken, I never quite know what to expect. However, what has been the most exciting and surprising is the other struggling artist/illustrator students in the class. They've been extremely helpful, honest and encouraging. So, some of my questions about the GerAmyUm book were put to rest with their input. For example, I was having a really hard time coming up with a face for GerAmyUm - I think because I really didn't want to put two dots and a smile in the middle of a geranium. My classmates told me they didn't feel one was necessary. So, meet GerAmyUm...
I had hoped to finish the illustrations for the book by the end of summer... (what was I thinking!!!) and all the work I've done up to now seems to have produced nothing. But I have to remember, I needed these wrong paintings to realize what I don't want and what doesn't work. And, I'm that much closer to getting the look and feel of what I want. That's a HUGE part of the process - all the work that does NOT go into it. No sketching, erasing, painting is a waste. Art and growing are both glorious and painful... Someone made a comment the other day about how painting must be so relaxing. I thought about it for a second. Yes, there are moments. But all in all I don't do it to relax. I get a massage, take a nap, watch a movie - that's what I do to relax. I paint because I feel most alive when doing it - even if I get mad. And trust me plenty of arches papers has been thrown across the room like a Frisbee. I hope to post another painting for the book soon - but I've got alot of wrong painting to do first...

July 5, 2007

Father's Day

Yes, I realize Father's Day is long past. Shame on me for not posting this sooner. I spent Father's Day weekend with my dad and I think I have for the past couple of years. I went to the church my dad is minister of and enjoyed the sermon immensely. Simply put my father is an superb preacher but first and foremost he is an excellent father to his kids and husband to my mother. I can think of no better example of love and integrity than that of my father. The picture to the left was taken when my dad was in college and with dark hair. In fact, I hardly remember my dad with dark hair. He has a head full of silver hair and to many resembles Steve Martin - in fact he has been stopped many times by people who thinks he's the comedian actor. I have watched many people look twice at him trying to figure out if he is "somebody." Oh, the stories I could tell.

This is my dad in his robe on Father's Day morning. He shares the sanctuary with both the Catholics and the Jewish communities at the retirement complex where he ministers. On Sunday mornings the Catholics get the sanctuary first and they have to wheel out the Virgin Mary before the protestant service. This is the closet where the Catholic priest hangs his robe next to the Protestant minister's. Oh the metaphors that come into play... Besides being a wonderful minister, by dad is an amazing carpenter. This is one of my favorite pieces that he built for me. I've been brought up making things and being taught that we can make just about anything we put our minds to create. I could brag on my dad for pages and pages. But one little picture tells you much more. I think the world would be much better place if everyone had a dad like my mine. Happy Father's Day to all the dads that love and teach us how to love and create!

June 29, 2007

Blooming Peony

I painted these four stage of a peony growing in two days. You can almost see the flower opening up right before you.

Time, Tea -n- Napkins

Time - an interesting word, concept and... reality? So much I want to do in a day - I want more! I waste so much! And then I put cream on it to stop the effects of it- ha ha. Seeing that my last entry was nearly 20 days ago I'm floored at how time flies and life changes, expands and even shrinks! Yoiks I better stop - this is NOT a journal on philosophy but art and all the zillions and millions of things that inspire me.... So let me tell you about Autumn. She had me over to her great apartment in Los Feliz several weeks ago and we talked books - kids books to be exact. Her YA (young adult) Carpe Diem will be in stores this fall!!! I'm so excited for her and can't wait to get my hands on it. It's always great to chat books with another writer - but I have to say I was insanely delighted to see that she had quite amazing taste in vintage decor from around the world. I would have snapped a million shots but left my camera at home (Me pulling my hair here) I managed to get this one shot of our tea table. She also used these beautiful vintage napkins which I fell in love with instantly and tried my darndest not to use it - that was quite a struggle since I'm definitely one of those people who NEED a napkin. Still I managed to keep it in pretty good shape and then she caught me folding it up to take with me. (of course she did - you can't get anything past a good writer - they notice the details). So she insisted I take a fresh one with me. How silly but I just love this lovely little vintage napkin.

June 6, 2007

Planning - life and art

I left the house yesterday morning for work thinking I'm headed in a certain direction with my plans and goals typed out neatly and tucked under my arm. But then I get a phone call - a good one. And at the end of it I'm looking at my plans and realizing this opportunity with my day job really is just that - a great opportunity and challenge. I'm excited, but what about me "wish" list of being a full time illustrator and artist, owning a farm NOT in California, having my own washer and dryer... and the list goes on. Does that mean that the things I hope and want won't come about? Absolutely not. It just means that they won't come about in the way I think they ought to. I guess plans are like a watercolor painting (see - you know I would bring art into it at one point.) I have great plans and intentions and even know the subject matter and color, but when wet brush hits the cold press paper- anything can happen - no matter how much control you think you have, and you can have a great deal, there are still surprises - some good and some bad. I can't tell you how many times I've put away a painting I had been working on thinking it was pure junk because it didn't turn out the way I had planned. Then, months later I pull it out and see that the unplanned accident really made the painting interesting, if not better.
I'm also somewhat bothered by my own ideas of what it means to be an artist. I wonder am I really an artist first and foremost if I don't do it full time? Is my personality one that really can enjoy being at home all day everyday working on my art and creating good work? If I'm honest with myself - NO. I need to have human interraction and I need to get out of my head and my ego. I've had many opportunities to work full time as an artist. I was lucky enough to have scraped by, but I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I do when I don't have to rely on my art to feed me and my mean cat. I think that just maybe the hardest and biggest pill for me to swallow this morning (after my humongous vitamins) - is that I'm not of the disposition to just live, breath and work for my art. I soooo look forward to painting and working on my books, but I also look forward to going to work and leaving my art behind for the day. I create better and I'm happier. (and I think I might actually get more finished)
This painting represents a plan I had once. One I actually thought was in stone. This was the church I got married in. An old church in Haymarket, Virginia where during the Civil War it was used as a hospital. I did not stay married, as was my plan. But really good things can happen to you regardless of your best made plans. This church has a beautiful variety of grave stones all around it as well - mostly local families and soldiers. It took me a long time to finish this painting and I did this spring. I guess in some ways it's a picture of the "death of plans" and not just a pretty old church. But there is still beauty to it. And I've come far enough away from it, that I CAN see the beauty.

May 25, 2007

Memorial Weekend or Painting Weekend?

I finished my spring quilt from Heather Bailey's Freshcut and I also used her method of binding which really looks great - and the instructions were very easy to follow. So here's the picture but I must say, I could not have timed the completion of my quilt any better because I found peonies that just looked gorgeous with the quilt and the sunshine in my little sitting room.

My illustration class is going well, and I'm sketching, painting, drawing and trying not to judge my work against Beatrix Potter every single second I have a free moment. This weekend between BBQs, Disney Land and sleep, I hope to be working on my portfolio and GerAmyUm...

May 17, 2007


This Amy Butler rectangle bag was a very brave undertaking for me. I did buy the entire "INSTITCHES" book because of this pattern. So I decided that I would just take my time - and I'm so glad I did. Lots of very detailed instructions. There were times I had to turn off the music (because I sew with rock n' roll) and read the instruction out loud. I think BabyKitty could make this bag too if she weren't so afraid of the sewing machine. She was by my side for every stitch and here she is quite pleased and of course stamped her seal of approval on the project by posing with this great bag. Now I can carry rulers, knitting needles, asparagus and knives with ease.
Last week I gave in to a whim, against my resolution to absolutely, positively, never, ever, NEVER start yet another project until I finished the ones I have. But the creative side overpowered my left brain logic and next thing you know I had placed a bundle of Heather Bailey's quarter flats in my bag and dashed to pay for them. (Tall mouse was having a special sale so I did get 25% off and my left brain let my right brain off one more time.) So now what I do? These fabrics are so pretty and light and I don't even really like peach colors - but this, this is different. I decided to make a little summer quilt to throw on the back of my white couch - it sure did change the look of the room - I can't believe it! Then, I'll have to paint something that pulls it all together - then maybe some pillows.... and you see, this is how it goes in my head. I used Amy Butler's Lotus Brick Quilt Pattern, varying it a little by making the blocks smaller. The lay out isn't perfect. Which I think has to do with the fact that I decided to start this quilt on the HOTTEST day of the year. And maybe the sewing gods don't like that I'm using Fresh Cut with an Amy Butler pattern!!! Is there some moral sewing code out there that I don't know of.
And because I'm here - I have to tell you that seeing the creativity of other women has really been invigorating. I'm so thankful that they share their work and projects through their blogs and websites. I'm sooooo encouraged. In fact, I just discovered that Heather Bailey had at one point in her creative career pursued children's book illustration before she did fabric design. Hmmm...
So here's another picture with matting ready to go on Etsy. The medium is watercolor, gouache and Sumi ink.

May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

As I get older, I have to say, I'm more and more amazed by my mother and just down on my knees grateful for her. She would be MORTIFIED that I'm posting her picture, but being that she's not a computer user, what she doesn't know, can't hurt her. But for me, I want lots of people to know my mom is just.... more than these lousy words I'm limited to using right now.

Here she is with her accordion. She learned when she was a little girl.

I spent the day with my mother's older sister who was in town for her granddaughter's graduation from USC. I was glad to be with my dear aunt, but it broke my heart to see her so feeble. She's the aunt that made me a Barbie cake - and trust me, if you are a Barbie lover you never ever forget that. It's just a regular layered round cake with a Barbie poking out of the middle and it's frosted to look like Barbie is wearing a big puffy dress. Devine! Today I'm not sure if time is friend or foe - sad to see people dear to me aging. Sigh...

I sigh again but out of relief. I finally finished my mom's and aunt's embroidered tea towels.
Now, I'm down to only TEN projects. Actually, I start an illustration class next week and am planning on spending the summer in painting and really developing my portfolio. So it looks like I'll be in summer school - I say with a smile.
Be the change you seek - Gandhi

May 4, 2007

The Weed

In my "GerAmyUm" story, she encounters a weed. A weed that grows fast and furious ... (dont' want to give the story away) I was delighted to find a weed growing in one of my potted Geraniums... Can you believe it? What are the odds, especially since my porch is on the second level. It grew sooooo fast.

So from this I roughed out a "sketch" of GerAmyUm with her weedy neighbor. I'm not finished and still working - it's funny, even weeds look pretty in watercolor.

You can see how I have my work cut out in making this weedy neighbor look a little less pretty and alot more annoying and pesky. Strange, I'm missing the color "pesky" and "annoying" from my pallette. I'll have to go mix it up now...

May 1, 2007

Festival of Books

This past Saturday I went to the Festival of Books at UCLA. I spent the bulk of my time in the Children's Book area as that was my plan - wanting mostly to hear David Shannon (picture to your left) read his newest picture book "Pirates Don't Change Diapers" and then have him sign my copy of "No, No David" I actually spent most of the day waiting in lines and weaving among the piles of kids and their parents. At times I felt a bit odd having my book signed for just myself. I stood there quietly while women on either side of me tried their best to keep their impatient children in line while they too waited for the illustrator of "Fancy Nancy", Robin Glasser to sign their book. Finally it was my turn. "It's just for me," I said feeling guilty. She smiled back at me and told me not to worry, there were lots of folks with no kids who wanted their children's books signed. I sighed and saw that she addressed it to "Fancy Amy".
Then needing to get away from the kids I walked over to where Frank McCourt writer of "Angela's Ashes" was interviewing Mitch Albom "Tuesday's with Morrie" writer. I didn't have a ticket. I asked the security guard at the gate if she knew of any extra tickets. She pulled a ticket from her pocket and handed it to me. In I went. I have found through the years that there is NEVER any harm in asking for what you want. AND, I have also discovered that 7 out of 10 times you get what you ask for. WHY DON'T WE ASK? Years ago I went to see Marilyn Manson's (yes, the dark rocker) watercolor exhibit in Hollywood. I came straight from work which was a talent agency at the time and so I was dressed professionally. But all around me were Manson groupies and I have to say they were really scary. Black nails, lips, hair, clothes and here's me in my preppy work outfit. I wondered if they were going to eat me. I waited an hour. Finally after befriending some harmless but scary looking boys behind me I asked them to hold my place. I walked to to the front of the line and told the woman at the door that I just wanted to see the paintings and could I go in? Marilyn was inside signing posters and stuff so that was why the line was so long. She let me in. Granted I looked like I was there for the art, but if I never asked well, I could have been eaten... So the moral of the story is ASK and hearing "No" never killed anyone.

April 27, 2007

Cyber world collides with your "real" world ...

I woke up in such a hurry with so many things to do I wondered if I really could get by without brushing my teeth. Just this once won't a piece of gum do? But guilt overwhelmed me because my mother went to great expense to correct my crooked buck teeth in junior high and I figured at the very least I could brush my teeth for her - so I devoted 2 full minutes to my Sonicare electric tooth brush. When your day starts out like this trying to save minutes and skip brushing teeth or hair let alone applying makeup inevitably means you WILL run into someone that matters to you. But this didn't register until later.
I ran to Trader Joes to pick up my favorite snacks and beverages because tonight is my night to host the "article club" and instead of reading an article I decide to be a rebel and have the girls come to my house with their "very most favorite" children's picture books to read aloud. I'm stopped by a woman in the store asking about my cool tanktop made by my friend Sharon B. (the snazzy girl to your left) It's a picture of my mom going to prom and she looks like a princess. But it's also a picture of her first date with my dad. Apparently she went out with him in the afternoon and then off to prom with another fellow. People ask me about my tank all the time and I love telling them the story. Once again I find myself writing Sharon's website on the back of my business card and just wonder why I don't get my cards printed with her info on the back.

Next stop the 5001 on 2nd Street - they have such cool wine glasses and I've been eyeing these chartreuse glasses for some time now and I decided today was the day I would buy them, I mean I did get money back from taxes... And, aren't they sooooooo pretty!!!!

And, here's where I wished I had done a little more to myself in the morning... So, I'm bustling along the street and I see this woman and I blurt out "You're Vickie Howell", like I've just discovered gold. Poor thing, I must have scared the Bejeezus out of her. I mean I'm sooooo not a celebrity hound. I saw Harrison Ford at In-n-Out Burger and Vince Vaughn at the Burbank airport and barely blinked an eye. But this was Vickie Howell and she's a knitter, author, and one fantastic creative soul that I really admire and I read her blog all the time. I mean I felt like I knew her. And this is what happens when cyber and reality collide - it's a bit confusing and one can be very one sided and at first I felt weird and guilty like I intruded into her life... Anyway, she was gracious and kind introduced me to her friend. I now call my new wine glasses, my "Vickie Howell Wine Glasses". Cheers

April 24, 2007

Can you say ranunculus....

Well, it really doesn't matter if you can't say ranunculus what's most important is to SEE them (you can always point and say "pretty" - that works too). I've just finished three watercolor paintings and placed them to sell on ETSY.
They are truly a splendid flower -like lots of pristine layered tulle under a skirt. They have to be planted in the fall to come out in the spring in most parts of the country. I just buy them because I'm nearly sick if they don't come - such flaky flowers. They're like person on your party guest list that you really,really want to come. However you know that they probably will flake on you and not show, but you still love 'em.

April 23, 2007

Rainy days and cool aprons

The weekend started off with rain - not that I minded. So Cal gets so little rain. It's a nice change AND I got to wear my lime green rain boots. I went to my friend WoW - whose parents were in town visiting from South Dakota. The highlight of the evening was watching their family videos - mostly birthday celebrations at a place called Pizza Ranch, babies swimming and walking, junior high basketball games and people avoiding the camcorder. I loved it and these people aren't even my family. It's intriguing - extraordinary in the ordinary. Life happening. How I wish I could watch a video of my brothers and I at play.

Then Saturday I finally finished the Amy Butler apron I had started last Saturday. Woo Hoo! I feel so cooly domestic. I've sewn curtains and pillows and a quilt here and there, but never anything of the wearable sort. This apron is awesome and I just love the material - who knew there were so many hip fabrics. Since my discovery of Amy Butler, I've learned of Heather Bailey and Anna Maria Horner. So, what will my next project be....

Yes, yes, I'm still working on "GerAmyUm" the picture book. Unfortunately, when I hit a difficult place in the creative process, it's my tendency to do something that comes easier - knitting, sewing, cleaning the litter box... you get the idea. I like things to flow easily - but who doesn't. And, ironically, the book is about when life gets rough ... I kept out these sketch/idea pages for the book on my art table as a reminder, that this just isn't going to go away. The next morning the sun peaks through the blinds as a reminder - get to work. The proof...

April 17, 2007


The killing at Virginia Tech leaves us all with questions. The biggest one being, "Why?" But even that requires some sense. We can't come at this with sensible, rational thinking. None of that occurred when that troubled boy killed. Sadly, I don't think there will be an answer that will satisfy any of us. I went to college in Virginia at George Mason University, many moons ago, so I'm familiar with the area, the people and several of my friends are Tech alums. Very close to home - even though home is on the other coast. My heart goes out to all the people who lost loved ones. I cannot begin to understand their pain, THEIR questions. My prayer is that those who must bury their loved ones won't let the questions, the anger and the pain destroy their lives too.

April 16, 2007


I just opened a shop on ETSY- a way cool website for selling art and handmade items. There are so many beautiful and amazing things to look at and buy on that site. My shop is under GerAMYum, of course. I'm selling these blank note cards.

Red Geraniums

Musical Geraniums

Pink Geraniums

Sumi Geranium

I spent most of Saturday packaging these note cards together and laying them out for these photos. I had fun, even though I'm still not that great at using my digital camera yet, but I'm working on it. I need to get some tips on lighting. The Grand Prix took place this weekend here in Long Beach and all day I heard the sound of the cars speeding in circles - it sounded like big bees buzzing.

After my note card photo shoot, I was part of the inagural ride of the "Cute Girls Bike Club". My sassy friend SB the founder and tattooed leader led us to a local biker bar downtown called House of Hayden. We were not bikers of the Harley sort but of the pedal sort with matching baskets and little bells. I had to race home alone leaving the CGBC and Van Halen music(to my dismay) but I was off to great food. CP was making dinner and there was NO-WAY I was going to miss it. ONE AMAZING grill master - the tri-tip and mushroom sauce was mouth watering aMAZing!!!

April 10, 2007

GerAmyUm Picture Book - Part II

Baby Kitty supervising a new knitting project.

Ah, yes the picture book, GerAmyUm - the first one I'm taking a stab at illustrating. The writer in me is re-writing, re-writing and re-writing. I have about 4 picture layouts in my head and I think I'll let the words go for awhile and work on the pictures. Oh, the pressure I feel in making this book amazing. I think it's because the story means so much to me. I mean, it is the name of my blog, my website, my cards.... When a story means alot it is both good and bad. Good in that you are passionate, excited and interested -- Bad (mostly bad) because you are TOO excited, interested and passionate. For me that means it's really difficult for me to keep it simple. And the beauty about children's picture books is that you have to tell a story simply and rather quickly thanks to the parameters of the book itself.

In August, The SCBWI will be hosting a week longer conference. My plan is to attend and really push my work. I have five completed children's picture books I hope to pitch. However, the big one for me is to pitch myself as an illustrator too. I've not done that before. The insecure 14 year old inside me sees all that I'm not - mostly that I've had no formal art training. But clearly that doesn't matter. Look at Susan Branch - her story is amazing, or even Beatrix Potter. Ultimately, the work will speak for itself and hopefully speak LOUDLY to an editor at the conference.


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