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Brave

It’s been almost two weeks since the Almeda Fire happened. It’s been about two days since the severe risk has passed and about two hours since we’ve seen blue skies and can breathe fresh air.

The numbers are staggering. Over 2800 structures and homes lost. Hundreds of small businesses that thrived in this valley are gone. 3200 acres burned in the Almeda Fire. 32000 acres are burning in the Obenchain Fire, just 20 miles from here. (It’s 35% contained.) All of it is shocking on so many levels. The loss, the speed of it, the complete devastation, the overwhelming goodness and generosity of this community. I’ve struggled with what to say. My house is standing and I’m unspeakably grateful for that. I also had a very close call on the day it started. It is luck or providence or just mother nature that the winds didn’t blow this fire straight up the hill to our house. It was in sight. From my mailbox I can see acres of black scorched land that burned.

I’ve spent about 10 days in complete fear and anxious paralysis. Every time there is a county warning on my phone, I jump. The town is on very high alert with no rain. We’re nervous. No, we’re terrified. This happened in a blink of an eye. I’ve also spent the last two weeks in awe of this community. Collectively, you can feel it, all we want to do is help. In any way possible. Cash, food, volunteering, go fund me pages, supplies, toiletries, labor, you name it, there is a place to drop it off, kind volunteers sorting and distributing and people to help you. Red Cross and Fema are here. Money is flowing to the right people. It is a grieving community in action.

And I’m also trying to work and paint. It’s been a challenge. The level of stress and anxiety is not normal for an extended period of time. Yet here I am in my house contemplating that. All I can think about is the bravery of the fire evacuees, the fire fighters, the service workers, the pilots dropping water and retardant on the flames, the countless helpers who have showed up during this tragedy. The families who are navigating temporary shelter while trying to home school their kids during covid. Or go to work. File insurance paperwork. Go back to their neighborhoods. It’s pure bravery. xo

This lion came through me the other night. It was as if he needed to be painted and didn’t let me stop until he was on the canvas. If you look up the symbolism of a lion the most common words are majesty, strength, courage, justice and even military might. Lions also protect and guard. Yes, bravery and protection. That is what you feel here now. xo

“Brave” 24×30″

Fire update

Yesterday I wrote a very long heartfelt upsetting blog post. It was about the Almeda Fire that happened here on Tuesday. The day it started, how it started, where it was and what I saw.

I have published hundreds, maybe thousands of posts and not once has one not saved or accidentally been deleted. Yesterday it happened. I was so upset (not really, but nerves are high and everyone is on edge) that all my work was wasted but now I know it wasn’t. I wasn’t supposed to post it. It was too much.

I will post again and write about it but for now, this is the update. I am safe. The house is safe. The fire devastated 1500 homes, countless businesses we don’t have a tally on and thousands of people are displaced. It is awful.

And Ashland and surrounding communities are coming together like I’ve never seen up close. This is war time here. There are shelters, food, clothing, gift cards, cash, toiletries and hot meals available from countless organizations. FEMA, Red Cross, neighbors, schools, churches, restaurants and regular folks setting up shop doing every thing they can. People are giving and showing up. It it the only solace during this time.

On top of this, our community is still at risk. The danger is ever present and we are not off evacuation notice. Honestly? It’s terrifying.

One of the businesses we lost is Puck’s Donuts. This is probably one of our most beloved family run businesses. Always a smile, easily best donuts you’ve ever had and a wonderful family running it, always with a smile and thank you and your iconic pink box to go. It’s gone now. I’m posting this painting from several years ago cherishing the good memories of the day I painted it with my fellow art ladies who used to meet once a week.

Waiting, watching, praying for rain. xo

Send mail! xo

I love the USPS. I think you probably do too if you’re reading this and are a snail mail, art loving, illustrated envelope appreciating, fun packages in the mail kind of person. I wouldn’t have a small business without the US Postal Service, that is for sure. I rely on it daily. I know my mail carrier, all the staff at my local post office and do the drive/smile/wave when I see their white trucks chugging along.

I created this little painting a few weeks ago and it touched my heart (and apparently many of yours). I’ve created a collection of postcards and stickers as giveaways to show support to your local USPS. Send mail! Buy a few extra stamps. Send a package or a postcard. All of it, every little bit helps.

With any purchase on my website through Labor Day Weekend, I am giving away 4 postcards and 6 stickers in every order. Send, share, mention in your order if you need more…I want to spread a positive message of gratitude to these hard working people. I’m sending as many as possible, giving away as many as I can with the hopes that some mail carrier glimpses this happy note and knows that WE CARE. xo

If you’ve been thinking about buying a book, fancy envelopes or a collection of new cards…now is a great time. Free goodies AND free shipping!!!

Hope everyone is doing ok out there. Labor Day, here we go September. xoxo

P.S. No code necessary.

Bain de Soleil

I’ve just sent of a new batch of The Classics to Watson Kennedy in Seattle. I posted this funny memory lane image and the response was swift and resounding–apparently anyone who grew up in the 70’s or 80’s all have the same fond memories of this orange gel that was very fancy at the time. You, too, could look like George Hamilton in St. Tropez even if you were splashing around a pool in Toronto, Ontario. My mum used it, the chic tennis playing neighbor used it…the kids…well, we probably snuck it. But the smell! The consistency! The memories! I’m smiling just writing this.

Back to the easel, back to adjusting my list of classics as I go. Each time I paint a new one, another image pops in my head. I love it when creativity flows like this. Suggestions welcome! Any quirky nostalgic classic objects from your childhood? Or current faves? Old, new, seasonal faves or just tried and true things we go back to over and over because, well, they’re classic.

“Bain de Soleil” 10×10″ at Watson Kennedy

Grateful

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust.

Thank you thank you thank you to those charming gardeners in my life. Near and far, those I see regularly and those I think about every day. We’re all in this together. XO

“Charming Gardeners” 24×30″ available at Watson Kennedy in Seattle, WA

The Classics at Watson Kennedy

Hello, friends! This has been a season of silver linings amidst these dark storm clouds. I’m doing my best, not always successfully, but sincerely trying, to look at the good bits. The other day I was thinking about the “new life” and one of the most striking differences for me is my routine. I am accustomed to traveling a lot. A lot a lot. Personal, family, work, trade shows, art workshops, you name it, I’m an airport warrior and it takes its toll. As an artist, one of the single biggest rewards in having that part of my life taken away is TIME and MOMENTUM. Time to create and momentum to build on it. What a gift!

And I love and cherish that gift and not sure I could go back to how it was before. The planning, the worrying, the fretting pre-trip, the trip itself, then the travel back and the re-entry…oh, I’m tired just remembering. And of course I miss many things that travel brought: family, friends, business successes and connection outside my little studio. But this momentum? It’s really really good.

One of these gifts has been a new collaboration with iconic retailer and long time friend, Ted Watson, of Watson Kennedy Fine Home. in Seattle, WA. We’ve been friends for over 20 years so this collaboration is extra sweet and special for me. We’ve  co-created a collection of paintings for his shop, “The Classics”  based on a list he started of timeless images and classic items. This has been a total joy to work on. The memories, the researching the items, the laughter…this is how art and collaboration should feel. And they’re selling! Which also feels great.

This is the second shipment, available online and in his shop today. It’s an ongoing series so there will be more. Suggestions welcome. We have a fabulous fun crazy list and I write down every single suggestion.

Here’s to the little things that make us smile. The silver linings of all “this”. What will I remember during this time? I’ll remember this. Painting stacks of Lacoste t-shirts and giggling because I love the memory so much and this is what I can do right now. Contribute with art and heart and kindness. Here’s to unexpected silver linings and  The Classics.

Mxoxo

En Plein Air

Do you paint en plein air? I have done it once at a festival, wrote about it my book and have thought about it ever since. Which to me is a sign, I probably want to go back to it.

En plein air painting means to paint outside. The concept is that you paint what you see while outside in nature: the ocean, mountains, meadows, gardens and more. You bring a portable easel, art supplies and any other equipment you might need. Much like camping for the artist. Pack in, pack out. I watch a variety of YouTubers that specialize in plein air painting and there is something so relaxing about…watching. Maybe not quite as relaxing as doing!

But I still dream. Especially during this covid time. I continue to studio paint a lot but there is a calling or craving to get outside and switch up my practice. Stay tuned please.

Any new art practices or mediums you’re trying or contemplating that have come out of the stay at home order? Curious.

Stay healthy everyone! xo

“En Plein Air” 11×14″ available here

Tennis Sweater

When I was in high school, I used to borrow-steal this beloved vintage tennis (cricket?) sweater from my dad’s closet. It was and remains the perfect sweater. It’s both nostalgic and classic, a perfect memory set to the soundtrack of Footloose, Breakfast Club, Flashdance and Pretty in Pink.

My paintings are nostalgic. And sometimes funny and quirky. And after all these years and classes and tutorials, museum visits, art gallery wanderings and youtube watching, I’m at peace with this style.

I wrote about this in my book, about finding a style, not knowing what my style was, borrowing other people’s, wanting it to be “fine art” (what is fine art??). I still don’t have an exact answer. But I do know that style comes from repetition and following your own bread crumbs of curiosity and inspiration. Read the books that interest you for no reason.  Flip through the mags that light you up. I don’t know why I can watch plein air videos for hours…I don’t paint that way. But something about it informs my own art. Why do I love making envelopes? I don’t know. But it makes me happy so doing more of that informs the next thing I paint. It’s all about staying plugged in. Banana bread baking, plant watering, art supply restocking or online class obsessions. All of it is part of what becomes your style. Figuring this out as I went along was exciting because it took the pressure off me to think I needed to be born with a precise aesthetic or talent. Nope. Just keep showing up for the things that you love and the creativity will inevitably pour out.

“Tennis Sweater” 12×12″ Sold.

PS. This will be a card, available on my website in 2 weeks. Stay tuned.

PPS. Creative paper goodies available here, reading material on this very topic here and as always, where it all began, Carpe Diem greeting cards here.

Happy Friday, friends!! xoxo

The Corona Muse

The muse has a sense of humor. I think.

Exhibit A, “Vintage Typewriters”. I was more than half way in on this painting, enjoying myself enjoying the subject matter, taking my time with each still life piece working my way around the canvas. I arrived at the vintage black typewriter, one of my dearest possessions, that sits right across from my easel and started painting in the name: CORONA. Really??  I couldn’t have noticed this before I started? But I didn’t…or it didn’t click or I’ve seen it so many hundreds of times I never thought of…the other Corona.  For a split second, I thought of painting it out, changing the typewriter or changing the name. But I didn’t. This is part of the creative process. The happy (weird?) accidents. I left in the Corona because that’s what it is, a Corona Typewriter and that’s what we’re living through, a Corona Virus pandemic. Other than the temporary “huh”, I loved capturing these plants and marbles and pots and things that make my side table happy.

What else is new in the land of painting and greeting cards and small business? Painting lots. A new Carmel-by-the-Sea collection is available at elizabethW Carmel (online and in their shop). Also hot off the easel is a fun new series for Watson Kennedy

Painting, writing, cooking and baking, all things creative, have helped me so much during this strange season. I’m ready to emerge but also not ready. Is it possible to become used to this? No, it isn’t. But there is something about a sustained period of creativity that helps with momentum. That, I like.

What else fun and juicy? I’ve been designing and ordering new Carpe Diem Papers greeting cards, Fancy Envelopes and sending snail mail like a turn of the century (last century, the old one) tea drinking lady. I’ve also been getting terrific reviews and response on my book so that makes me happy.  I promise, a book party or release or something, when things are more “normal”.  Maybe I’ll rename it, “Don’t Launch Your Book in a Pandemic”.  No, I’ll save that for the sequel.

Anything else…? It’s summer where I am, hotter than hot, the way summer is supposed to be but i’m melting. I still don’t know when I’ll be allowed or want to travel. Trade shows are cancelled for the summer. I’ve started running again. Not far, mostly on a treadmill, but it feels good.  I’ve read and listened to some very good books, this one stopped my world for several days, and this one I just started and I’m already hooked. Suggestions always welcome…my love of books surpasses my time to read and listen but I’m always hopeful.

Happy weekend, friends. Hope the muse finds you or you find it or both. xo

“Vintage Typewriters” 18×24″ SOLD

Beach Day

Well, not sure where you are, but where I am, it is most definitely NOT a beach day! Where I live in Ashland, OR we get summer weather: big storms, thunder, lightning, the actual bolts like Zeus is throwing a javelin, extreme heat and some nice frosty days with hail thrown in for good measure. The heat is on today. But the AC was on early in the week.

But what remains? Painting. Staying at the easel. Working, Emailing, Paperwork for business. More painting. Keeping close track of the news and openings so I can follow where my customers are finally opening their stores. One of my first customers and my longtime friends at the elizabethW shop in Carmel opened this week. It’s a big deal. We’ve all been sheltering in place since mid March and between that and George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent long overdue social changes and systemic racist conversations that are happening out loud, we are coming out of this period different than when we went in. Better? I’m not sure. But we’re coming out. One of the pandemic truths that I have learned is that it’s a privilege to both enter society again and to shelter in place as “punishment” or national directive. No going to war, just staying inside. This is the year we’re waking up. Maybe next year we’ll look back and see how 20/20 our vision needed to be for things to change….??

But in the meantime, painting and creating and trying to stay on course when the news cycle is begging me to to stop. One of my motivations is knowing my friends are opening their shop, the walls need new art and we all need uplifting whatever that looks like for you. For me, it’s the beach. Carmel Beach in particular is one of my favorites. No superlatives do it justice. It’s just that postcard perfect rugged wild northern California patch of ocean and sand.

This piece and more (soon to be revealed) headed to elizabethW Carmel early next week.

Wishing you all a weekend of peaceful kindness and simple pleasures.

Mxo

“Carmel Beach View” 16×20″

P.S. Sending snail mail and Fancy Envelopes now that the pace of life has slowed down? You might like these. I know my postman gets a kick out of my outgoing mail.