Paintings With Soul

Since October 2006 I've been a daily painter, creating a new pet portrait at least 5 times per week. Over the years I've expanded my offerings to include a variety of animals, pets, race horses, children and other treasured heirlooms. In addition, I accept a limited number of commissions each year.

In 2015 I am honored to be the Kentucky Derby Artist.

You may use the links below right to receive my daily paintings via email or to follow my blog with a feed. I post additional info, including in-process jpgs and other related information, on the studio Facebook page as well.

Meanwhile, thanks
so much for your continued support of my artwork.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wabi Sabi (done)

Detail (full painting below, please scroll down), "Wabi Sabii" 24" x 48", acrylics on panel, $1499 to the first asking nicely. Please send them directly to me.

I've been working on a couple of surprise commissions, but in between waiting for my clients' feedback I've been working away on this one. And boy do I love her.

Wabi Sabi is essentially the acceptance of brokenness. A celebration of it, in fact, as in Japanese tradition a broken bowl is repaired with a vein of gold. It remains useful and all the more beautiful because of it's cracks.

I embraced that idea with my newest selfie, wrapped in my favorite shawl and bearing my own gold repaired cracks. I'm proud to bear scars - they mean I've lived my life without bubble wrap, and that my heart and head have experience I can lean on as I continue to roll with the punches.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Wabi Sabi Selfie

In process "Wabi Sabi Selfie," 24" x 48", acrylics on panel. Not currently for sale, but inquiries are always welcome. Please send them directly to me.

This week I have:
  • submitted a grant application
  • entered two big deal to me juried competitions (that I fully expect to be rejected from, but one never knows and if one never asks, one never knows)
  • taught several classes
  • glazed, wrapped and posted 4 paintings to new homes
  • booked 5 new commissions
  • deep cleaned the studio
  • coordinated the return of work from a show in Pennsylvania (which reminds me I've not gotten shipping confirmation yet, so I should follow up with them on Tuesday)
  • marketed/promoted my summer classes and workshops (although I'm realizing I neglected to do so via this blog, so here is a link)
  • researched exhibition opportunities through the fall
  • coordinated the transition to online entry for the Thumb Area Art Exhibition
  • read 2 art books (One Hundred Hands and What It Is)
  • paid bills and analyzed the studio budget
  • researched stencil making and encaustic techniques
  • continued planning and building content for online instruction
So much of being an artist has nothing to do with making art. None of the above involved picking up my brushes and somehow it's been a week since I last posted. I've been going a little mad - painting keeps me sane - and so when I discovered a couple of hours today, I jumped right in - this one is about about strength in the face of sorrow. Our world seems drenched with it, that's for certain.

Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend. Remember those who sacrificed so you could have. Be kinder to all. Make a dog's tail wag.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Day My Heart Exploded

Detail of Siren #41, "The Day My Heart Exploded," full painting is 24" square, acrylics on panel. Not currently for sale, but inquiries are always welcome. Please send them directly to me.

This painting is a self portrait - while the likeness is not mine the emotional state most definitely is. This morning there was yet another school shooting. I cannot understand why our children are killing each other. 

This siren came from my gut. There's others still in there. I imagine they will show up in the coming days.

May your children all come home safely tonite.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Showing Up

So yesterday was one of those days. I came into the studio and looked at my new work and was convinced they all were crappy and self indulgent. Poorly drawn, meaningless, wastes of paint.

We all have days like these, don't we?

I think mine happen when I'm exhausted - they tend to show up after a long stretch of crazy inspired painting. Days - sometimes weeks - strung together of manic production and very little reflection.

And that's when her voice shows up. You know the one. She tells you that you know nothing, you are wasting your time, that nobody will every truly understand your paintings because they are muddled, ugly and trite.

So when She shows up (I call her Betka after an elementary school teacher I had multiple run-ins with), I let her rant. I write down what she says in my studio journal. I acknowledge her questions. And then I paint right overtop of them. Preferably with something glittery and fancy.

And then I return to the easel, pick up my brushes, and get to work.

Because the most important thing is to show up, regardless of what she says. She's always going to be there nagging and cutting me down. I just can't let her win.

On an entirely different note, The Princess and My Better Half surprised me with a baby bunny on Mother's Day. They knew my heart had been achy ever since our last bun passed, and orchestrated this marvelous whole thing where I thought we were road tripping to pick up a car part from craigs list and instead the guy answered the door with a baby bunny in his hands. Of course I started crying and the guy was immediately concerned that I was that crazy lady who was never going to leave without ALL the bunnies in her car (people, the mom in me has to say, complete your transactions on public property, please!!). But The Princess assured him I cried at everything cute and tiny, and then all was well.

Anyway, the little guy is adorable. He's doing binkies and flopping about and teeth purring and wriggling his way into every lap possible. And this is his first time on my easel - I give you a very sleepy Mr. Beanie Bates. If you are so inclined to add his portrait to your collection, let me know - this one is 8"x8"x1-1/2", gallery stretched canvas with the image wrapped around the sides. He's $149 to the first asking nicely. THANK YOU!


Saturday, May 05, 2018

Derby Day!!

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Guardians and Stand Tall

From left: "The Guardians" and "Stand Tall", both 24" x 48", acrylics on panel, each $1499 plus s&h. Yes pleases and inquiries may come directly to me - thank you! 
First off, I have been overwhelmed with your love and support during this week's venture through my Derby Experience in 2015 and how it changed my life. Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out and let me know how my paintings and personal journal have impacted you. You inspire me to continue onwards, and I am humbled.

These two paintings were the next logical step from yesterday's Gentle. I had embraced the horse as my spirit animal, so then I borrowed him as a stand in as protector for the world at large. When these two paintings were done (September 2017), there were mass tragedies and acts of terror happening all over the world. It seemed as if we were incapable of taking care of our neighbors, ourselves, and our Mother Earth.

Pops of light became bits of hope. Or souls reluctant to leave until their loved ones found closure. Strata represented humanity's history, often an ill fated one of cruelties and greed.Painted cells represented communities or groups needing protection and love. The horses stood guard, unable to prevent, but as a beacon of strength.

A random criticism of these works, that they were too "literal," got me thinking about how I could step deeper into a visual language to communicate my own disconnect from reality. I couldn't bear to tun into the news for fear of what calamity was to overshadow the previous days news. But hat sort of subject matter could I embrace that fell so far outside my comfort zone that I couldn't help but not be literal?

Duh.  The human form.

And thusly, the Sirens were born. October 2017.

A larger studio followed shortly after, and now (May 2018) I'm over 50 Sirens in to the series. With no sign of stopping.

Tomorrow I will share my first equine sirens.

Meanwhile, may the fourth be with you.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
Here's Tuesday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.
Wednesday's post about my Grandpa.
Thursday's blog on how painting led me to a life of authenticity.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Kentucky Derby Week - Do not go gentle into that good night

"Do not go gentle into that good night," 14" x 18", acrylics on panel, $599 plus s&h. Inquiries may come directly to me - thank you!

Three years ago I was the official artist of The Kentucky Derby. I was fully aware that this experience, pretty much the pinnacle of my career to date, gave me permission to move on.
I already had been trying to re-brand myself - after doing pet portraits for 15 years, 7 years of daily creating inside that, I had long been ready for a change. And I had been suffering from creative burnout for over a year - I desperately needed to mix things up.

But I was clueless where to turn. My daily painting practice involved such an intensive focus on producing, and I hadn't built in much time for introspection. That was the first change - to give myself permission to slow down and stop focusing on the painting count and start focusing on the paintings' integrity.

Extensive journaling, both visual and written, and many conversations with other creatives guided me. I came to recognize an interest in painting my own life experiences. I began sifting through emotions, relating them to objects and colors and built a visual vocabulary of symbolic content. I threw away the conventions of literal space, and treated my visceral reactions as valid content to fill the painting's surface.

Which is where this painting came from. It began with the death of my maternal grandmother, who I loved fiercely and was blessed to have in my life until my mid-40s. Then within the span of 18 months I lost other pivotal people in my life: my mentor, a dear friend, one of my teenager's friends, my other grandmother, a friend's little son, a beautiful parent and friend, the magical parents of my childhood bestie, my father in law, my son's second mother. I was reeling from one loss to the next.

There was an ice storm one evening while I was at a funeral home. When I stepped outside into the night, the cool air soothed my heart - cradeled it gently and for the first time in a long while I felt safe. Then I heard music of the most delightful sort, almost like fairy chimes. I looked up to find myself underneath an ice encased crabapple tree, it's delicate branches singing as they gently shifted about, all brilliantly lit by a full moon. There were fairies there, dancing on the glass covered limbs, flashing about. And I heard my friend, the one who would be buried the following day, whisper. All is fine. All is fine. And the fairies continued to skip about and the cool air traveled into my lungs and heart.

That moment was pivotal - My story wasn't about what had happened to me - it was about what I was doing while things were happening to me. And what was to happen in the future. And I needed to make paintings about this.

All those years of daily painting were not going to waste - I knew how to draw, I knew how to capture the nuance of a gesture, I knew how to paint eyes that follow the viewer about. All that was left was learning how to listen to my emotions and paint an authentic response.

It's been tremendously challenging, but also intensely rewarding, this new direction. I am learning to speak through my brushes. To not apologize for myself. To live with intention and to honor my instinct. To commit to making art, whether it be good or bad, but mostly, just to show up.

And to not go gentle into that good night.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
Here's Tuesday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.
Yesterday's post about my Grandpa.


Champion, 6" x 8", acrylics on panel, depicting American Pharoah, the Kentucky Derby winner the year I was the Derby artist. Reproductions available here.

We are halfway through Kentucky Derby Week. Three years ago I was the official artist of The Kentucky Derby. And for the first time in 37 years, the Derby winner went on to win the Preakness and Belmont, securing a Triple Crown. And I saw the first leg in person from my seats at the wire.
My Grandfather and I shared a passion for horse racing. We watched the Derby together every year, sharing stats and guesses during the prep races. When he and Grandma retired they moved to Arkansas where he quickly became a regular at Oaklawn Park. About that same time, he became a fervent supported of the Arkansas Derby winner, something rather uncommon in the late 80s. Our Derby Week consults were initially letters, then phone calls, then Facebook messages. What I wouldn't give to hash over the morning line with him again. Or to have been able to share my Derby Artist honor with him at my side.

I did the next best thing that first Saturday in May 2015, 5 years after his passing - I bid on the Arkansas Derby winner because I knew that's what he would have asked me to do. So when the horses came round the final turn and American Pharoah had taken the lead, the sound of the crowd was a far away echo in my head. Instead I was engulfed in one of Grandpa's trademark bear hugs, complete with the brush of his whiskery cheek.

I got to share my day with him after all, not as my silly little selfish head had imagined, but in an entirely deeper level that honored our connection.

Here's the link to a photo essay of my Kentucky Derby journey, in case you missed it yesterday.
Also, another link to Monday's post about my artistic growth.
And another one to yesterday's post and my childhood passion for Walter Farley books.

Who have you shared your love of racing with?

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


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