A Quote, A Definition, and A Discovery

The Quote:

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dreams.”

Vincent Van Gogh

For many, many years I have carried around a greeting card with that quote on it, and for those same many, many years I have used it to beat myself over the head as an artist. I don’t dream of painting, I’m actually one of those people who rarely remember their dreams. I took that quote quite literally, like the children of The Night Before Christmas, but instead of visions of sugarplums dancing in my head I thought I should be conjuring up great works of art.  I paint from my photographs and sketches. There are gifted artists who can imagine worlds of their own creation, I’m just not one of them when it comes to painting, and quite frankly I’m not sure Van Gogh was either. He painted what he saw in front of him, from sketches he made of places he’d been, or places he lived, and maybe a little dreamy magic. I seem to have a gift for getting in my own way as an artist. I tell myself I’m failing at it, or somehow don’t have the right to call myself one. That leads me to…

A Definition: (Thank you Google)

a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.
a person skilled at a particular task or occupation.
I started drawing at a very young age, I began to paint at twelve, and I sold my first piece at fifteen. Did I call myself an artist? Yes I did, at least in the beginning, but then the self doubt began to creep in. There’s the “I’m not good enough” monster that resides in my brain. I mentioned the monster back at the beginning of this blog four years ago. I was under the illusion that I had defeated it, but I haven’t and thought I couldn’t. I’ve spent a lifetime with this constant companion; it lives inside me as much as every other part of me. I think part of my artistic problem is last I’m living in the land of “Supposed To”. In my mind an artist was always a painter and a skilled technician in drawing or sculpting.  I realize that’s ridiculous. Read the definition. I should have it tattooed on my forearm so that every time I feel the monster raise its ugly head I can read it myself. I think that from a very young age I thought that I had to paint to call myself an artist. The reality is that I have no problem acknowledging the art of others and giving them the title, I just have a problem with myself.  Which leads me to…
The Discovery (actually discoveries):
I haven’t posted on this blog as of late because I had no work to post. Have I been working?  Yes, I have been working every single day.  The problem (in my own mind) is that I haven’t been painting. What I am about to write is so absurd that I can’t believe it myself. I have been embarrassed to call myself an artist because of the work I have produced. There, I said it out loud. I have spent the last several weeks producing work for a show, a show that calls itself an “Artisan Walk”. Was I invited to be part of the show because I am a talent-less hack? Nope, I am just being me again and getting in my own way.  I gave all of this a great deal of thought yesterday. Much of the thought was inspired by an outing with a dear friend on Sunday. This dear friend has a tendency to be highly critical of me, but when he saw what I have been producing he called me a genius. My discovery is this: I don’t dream of painting, but I have very magical and enchanting visions when I am awake. It involves fairies. That’s right, fairies. I have been making them for more than twenty years, and it has been my greatest financial success as an (dare I say it?), artist.
My second discovery or better yet realization is that as much as might dream of painting, I am more compelled by anything in my life to make children happy. I love creating enchanted worlds, of inspiring little ones to use their own imaginations, and to hopefully give them a moment of magic in a world that can be a very difficult place. I have loved the idea of fairies since childhood. At the last show I did I was approached by a woman much older than myself who was so excited by my work. She spoke to me of growing up in England near a forest. She and her sisters would play at the edge of the woods. Their mother would tell them tales of fairies, and leave them “fairy notes” tucked in tree trunks and flowers. While she was speaking to me her face took on a faraway look, as silly as it might seem in that moment she looked like a little girl again, lost in the memories of her youth.
I may never produce the masterpiece that I thought I was supposed to do, and in the years after I am gone no one may see my work hanging in a museum, but I have no doubt that in the imagination of many children I have planted a seed that they will hopefully remember and pass on.
If you happen to be in or near Fallbrook, CA on April 23rd, I will be at The Artisan Walk on Alvarado as part of the Fallbrook Avocado Festival. Stop by and say hello.

Into Every Life A Little Glitter Must Fall

I’m out of touch with the real world these days. I’ve been lost in the land of fairies. Yes, it’s that time of year again. The time when glitter like an infectious disease clings to those who dare enter my home. We are still struggling along here. No bites on the house, and we are considering a new plan of action. Meanwhile I have decided to use my God-given talents to pay for Christmas. If you have followed along my journey you know this started out as an art blog. Truth be told, it started out as a way to publicly blackmail myself into working. It worked for a year, but then life snuck in and pulled the rug from under me. I tried again a few weeks ago to blackmail myself again, but I truthfully haven’t had the time to work on what I consider my serious art. Instead I am focusing on what brings in the cash, and that would be fairies. So I am here again, just like last year, to ask anyone who reads my blog to take a look at my etsy site. I have a few pieces of art up there, and intend to have more after the beginning of the year, but for now I’m asking you to take a look at my ornaments. Lots of new ones this year. I’ll post a few photos here. So if you are looking for an inexpensive handmade gift check me out.


My new International Fairies, bearing a “Merry Christmas” message in their native language.

Irish Fairy Liberty The American Fairy The Japanese Fairy


I also have a vintage site on etsy. Again, very, very inexpensive. I need to downsize, and I am listing new treasures weekly.


Thanks to all who take the time to read my writing. When the glitter clears I’ll be back to my opinionated self.

To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work












photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.





IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.




image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.





Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.





005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.



5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.




image  Pastel desert scene.






6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.






IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.





12 20 Riley once again in pencil.




IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.





12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.





IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.





2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.





2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.




3 24 14 Another cabinet door.





4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.





There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.






Oh No, I’m Addicted

Last night was the first in a year when I didn’t post. I actually took a day off, and you know what? It was sooo hard. To begin with I started to feel guilty, like I wasn’t doing something that I was supposed to do. (It’s the whole Catholic thing, its ingrained in my brain) I was working on something creative, all day in fact, but it wasn’t something I can share as of yet. It’s a gift for someone, a very involved gift, and its a surprise. Late in the afternoon I began to feel the pull of the blog. Feeling the need to produce a piece of art to put up, and then I realized I didn’t have to. I’m dead serious, I was feeling like a bad person because I hadn’t produced anything. It may be time for an intervention. I’m still in the middle of my very involved gift, so for tonight more of my retrospective of a year’s worth of art. Paintings in oil and acrylic, and one pastel. Tomorrow the last of the retrospective and new art!

IMG_9703   This is an oil done entirely with palette knife. It was a first for me. It’s based on the view from my studio window.


square painting cropped  Acrylic, based on a vintage Japanese mirror from the Forties.





Pear Pastel (3)  Pear pastel. My dear friend loves pears.





gate  Oil. This is the door to a garden in Santa Barbara. I call it “My Secret Garden”





DSC05785  The Kitchen Worker. Oil, inspired by a photo in Gourmet magazine.





6 7 (16)  Oil on board. Inspired by a vintage illustration.





608 (2)

Waterlily’s, because every artist needs at least one right?




6 15  For Dan. His Dad’s watch, penknife and martini glass, oil.






Temecula. Oil



7 11  Acrylic on canvas. I was imaging an old Polaroid.





7 12  Acrylic garden shovel. Inspired by a photo in Country Living.





7 22  Oil on piece of old wood. For my Mom who loved Lilac.





8 2 (2)  Oil. Painted this in roughly two hours, right out of my head.





8 6 (1)  My first abstract.





8 16 (2)  Oil. Palette knife and thirty minutes.





8 20

Another Waterlily in oil.




IMG_1062  Oil. Painted on a day when I wasn’t feeling great and my wonderful husband painted a version of his own alongside me to help me get past my artistic block.





10 11  Acrylic. An attempt to capture the colors of Maxfield Parrish.





winter scene

Old work, oil on canvas with a great story to go with it. (If you are interested, “A Little Tale”, posted 12/11/13)



12 24  Brian, my son in oil. An “orphaned” painting from many years ago that I finally rescued.





12 23


Acrylic. Palette knife once again.


12 28


Oil. La Jolla, California, from a photo I took. My favorite piece from the entire year.



cropped barn  Oil. From a photo I took in California Central Coast farm territory.



3 7 14  Oil. A really old one, but a favorite.




3 25 14 An abstract in Acrylic.



My Day Off…

My Day Off…Sort of

Not too much to read, but lots to look at. Taking a well deserved few days, and posting the work I like the most that I completed this past year.

Today: Pen and Ink


IMG_97056 236 24 (1)7 28 15paperIMG_1467IMG_14659 30bee markIMG_179910 2610 2910 3011 71 141 7 141 9 142 12 14 (2)2 26 14 (2)3 10 14 (1)3 12 143 13 14


The Price Of Impatience

Twenty four hours have passed. Where is my second box? I didn’t wait long enough. I know, I know, I said I would, but the impatient me just couldn’t wait. I ruined it. I did wait twelve hours, so I thought it would be OK, nope. I had to start again. This time I absolutely promise to wait, maybe even forty-eight hours.

I love spring. When you grow up in a place that has harsh winter weather the first day of spring is cause for celebration. There’s nothing to beat those early warmer days. I’ve lived in Southern California for ten plus years and I still miss the change of seasons. I don’t of course miss the frigid weather, or the ice and snow. I have to admit it is pretty nice to have seventy degree weather in January, but I miss the feelings that come with the change. I think maybe for me spring seemed a little more hopeful when it came after a hard winter. We need new beginnings around here. Let’s hope the new season ushers some in.

In honor of the new season a drawing of an Iris done in watercolor pencil. I chose to paint the background black to make the colors pop.

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Words Of Wisdom

There’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for a few days now. Last week Dan showed me a You Tube video of Lupita Nyong’o making a speech at Essence Magazine’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. For those of you who might not know who Lupita is, just a week ago she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Twelve Years A Slave. She is of Mexican and Kenyan heritage, and she is beautiful. As I listened to the emotional speech made by this insightful, intelligent, and lovely young women, I was astonished at her wisdom. She spoke of the seduction of inadequacy. Feelings that I am quite familiar with. She is a very dark-skinned young woman, and I am about as pasty white as they come. (I have been known to joke from time to time that I am not Caucasian, I am see-through.) In her speech she spoke of the pain of her childhood, of being ashamed, of wanting to be different. It is unfortunately a pain that I think all young people are familiar with, unless of course through genetic gifts they are blessed with what our society deems “perfection”. There are very few that fit that description, and yet I would bet that most if not all would be the first to point out flaws they find with themselves. I am old enough to be Lupita’s mother, but I learned much from listening to her eloquent words. What a shame that we have all been so convinced that there is something wrong with us. That we have the wrong hair, eye color, body type, skin color, and so on. I am an older woman. I am aging OK, not as bad as some, and not as good as others. As I listened to Lupita’s speech it was like listening to my own often mentioned “not good enough” voice that resides in my brain. I write of that voice in association with my art, but it is a far-reaching voice, and it can be very loud. I still struggle with self acceptance at my age. I think we could all learn a lesson from the gifted Lupita, and I think if you are a parent of a young girl or boy, there are lessons to be taught as well. If you have the time and inclination the video is well worth listening to.  Just go to You Tube and put “Lupita’s Essence speech” in the search engine. I guarantee its five minutes that will make you think.

I was tired today. Spring forward my…(more about that tomorrow) Despite feeling tired I worked on finishing the room formerly known as Brian’s. In the end I did a small pen and ink of some Lily of the Valley. A favorite of mine that I haven’t seen since my last Chicago Spring ten years ago. The drawing was inspired by an old tin from Crabtree and Evelyn. When I was finished I decided to add a little color. Two photos, one without color and one with.

3 10 14 (2)

 3 10 14 (1)

Self Esteem By The Numbers

I seem to be on a recurring theme these days, but I did something yesterday that made me question just how much I believe in myself. As I said last night I had a little battle waging in my head between my “not good enough voice” and my inner cheerleader. (I am so not a cheerleader, quite frankly I lack a certain amount of enthusiasm, but that is a topic for another day.) I thought that I had to a certain extent conquered my feelings of inadequacy, but I was wrong. I put a piece of work on etsy yesterday. It is part of the fairy making I do. I hesitate to call it a craft, I think of it as art. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for craftsmen and women. I think the word “crafter” has gotten a bad rap. Unfortunately thanks to shows of a certain caliber, crafting is far too often associated with items such as my most hated craft, the crocheted toilet paper roll cover. (I just had a visual image of one and cringed) I know there is a market for these kinds of items, I think it may involve blue hair of some sort, but I cannot think of a ….I’m sorry, I have no words. I feel that strongly about them. To get back to my point, there are many fine crafts people, people with envious skill and talent, and their work is art. I hereby decree that artists and true craftsmanship be one and the same. (I can do this because I should be ruling the world) My piece is a fairy playground. It took vast amounts of creative imagination, hours of intricate work, and numerous hot glue burns to create it. When I began to list it on etsy the doubt began to creep in. Materials ran me roughly twenty-five dollars. I originally thought to list it at $100, its one of a kind, unique, it’s art, but then “not good enough” spoke up. “No one will pay that much.”, or “It only cost you $25” (not including the day and a half labor). I’m sure you get the idea. I listed it at $65. When I told Dan he said I was crazy. Later in the evening I went back on etsy. I didn’t sign in, I just wanted to see how long it would take me to find my item in the search engine. I came across a fairy house created by another artist. No fairies, just the house. It was more than three hundred dollars. Yikes! Those must be very rich fairies, like Trump fairies. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t believe the price. Then I thought to myself, “This woman values herself, and her work.” I showed it to Dan, and then I raised my price to $95. When I told my saga to my daughter this morning, she too pronounced me crazy, and said $95 is too low. I haven’t changed it, but it did get me wondering about the connection between my pricing and my low artistic self-esteem. I always under price myself. So I guess I have to ask myself just how much my self-esteem is worth?

Something a little different tonight. Theresa gave me a pot of beautiful little daffodils today. I was out most of the day, so I decided to do a quick watercolor of them. I really didn’t care for my finished painting, but then I began to play with the Photo shop filters. I found several that I liked, suddenly I didn’t think the original was so bad. I’m going to post the original, one with a poster edge filter, and an eggshell crackle finish. I’m not sure which I like best.

3 4 14

3 4 14.JPG poster edges3 4 14 egg shell crackle

The Positives

Last night I said I would look at my work over the last (almost) year to find the positives. I am horribly hard on myself. As I said last night criticism sticks in our brains, it’s a scientific fact. What the piece about criticism I watched on Sunday Morning failed to address was whether our own criticism of ourselves sticks as well. I am here to say in my own private not so scientific study ( which means I talked to myself, Dan and our friend Lori), we do hang on to our own criticism. I think we are harder on ourselves than anyone else. But that begs the question why? Are we innately self-critical? Or are we the product of societies influences? Obviously mass media has a great influence, as do our parents, our friends, our teachers, the list could continue. How does it start? I again will make assumptions. My Mom spoiled my Dad horribly, I think Dan would be happy to agree that I do the same thing. I learned it from my Mom. My Mom was also very insecure…ditto. I knew that as I headed into motherhood. I tried my best to instill confidence in my kids. Did I succeed? Yes and no. Why? Because my children grew up watching me. I was very nobly self-sacrificing, not such a good example to set. That is why I am now on this journey of self-discovery that I should have been on twenty years ago. (Kids, if you’re listening, take time for yourself. Giving all of yourself away no matter how well-intentioned sets a terrible example, and in the end everyone pays.)

Has anyone noticed that I’m avoiding the question at hand? The homework I assigned myself? In my defense I will again explain the Catholic thing. I feel guilty if I feel like I’m bragging. If my history serves me right the original verse reads, Our Father who art in heaven, guilt is part of the game, Thy forbids some fun…oh come on, I’m just kidding. ( I’ve served my time, thirteen years of parochial school, I’m entitled.) Anyway, here goes….

I have discovered that I have a real talent for pen and ink.

My work is so much more alive, more textured, richer. I discovered how much I enjoy working with just a palette knife.

I’m actually finishing pieces. For so many years I left work half done in fear of being judged. This is one where I still struggle a bit, but again, acknowledging the problem is part of the solution.

If I actually take my time (and give myself the time) I can do some really nice work.

I’ve heard so many people say how hard watercolor is. I find it incredibly easy and enjoyable.

That very nasty word, perspective. It’s getting better, and more than that, I’m getting less hung up on it.

My biggest accomplishment is that I no longer feel like I need to be a human copy machine. Art is meant to be expressive, not replace a photograph.

These days I’m struggling on so many levels because of other stuff going on in my life, but I’m still doing this every single day.

As I try to write these positives, I find the little voice on my head saying, “But what about….?” The voice of “Not good enough” is making a case for herself, dropping negative bombs in my brain. Not today. Enforced self-esteem, that’s what I need.

Tonight a watercolor. New issue of Country Living arrived in the mail, this painting is inspired by a photo in the magazine.3 3 14

My Early Spring

We are finally expecting a little rain out here in Southern California I know for some people that rain isn’t very good news, but for me it is more than welcome. Aside from the fact that California is in the midst of a drought, I miss rain. I miss weather. I spent most of my life in Chicago, in hot humid summers, freezing cold winters, but glorious spring days, and crisp fall winds. I’m sure everyone who is freezing in the Midwest and the East must think I’m insane, but for me a little bad weather takes me home. It was overcast this morning and I was sure a few drops might fall from the sky, but by late morning the sun was in full shine. My sister tells me that they are expecting a snowstorm in Chicago this weekend. Dan and I walked this morning in the unusually cool air, and as we walked I, as always, admired the beauty that is around us. Yes we are very lucky to live where we live, where Spring raises her head just a little earlier than most places, but in my heart Chicago will always be home, late season snow storms and all.

Tonight just a little pen and ink, part of a thank you I need to send. The drawing inspired by a terrific book by W.G. Paulson Townsend, “Plant And Floral Studies for Artists and Craftspeople”. I loved the finished drawing, but I also enjoy adding just a touch of color with Photo-shop. Last week a package arrived with a small kitchen scale in it. I hadn’t ordered it, and I was quite puzzled at where it came from, there was no receipt included. After a few days Dan received a text message from his mother. My mystery gift was from her. My mother in law very generously wanted to help with my business, and said I could use the scale to help to figure out shipping. It is a very thoughtful gesture. I plan to incorporate the drawing into a card in the morning.2 26 14 (2)

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Also for tonight a touch of Spring, photos from our walk this morning. The Jasmine is in bloom, as is Iris, and quite a few flowers in my garden. A gift of hope for my family and friends due east.