The jungle continues

Whew! This project is bigger than I thought it was going to be! But I finally have all the greenery filled in, the next step will be the animals (parrots, monkeys and a tiger).


In other news, I see my doctor today and I’m going to ask him about something that has been bothering me a lot lately… my shaking hands (probably a side effect from the medication I’m on). Sometimes it’s so intense I have trouble gripping things, and it’s definitely embarrassing when I get nervous and my hands are shaking so hard it’s apparent to whoever is around me. It also makes painting fine details challenging. I googled what to do about shaking hands and everything said to stop being so anxious (I’m paraphrasing), which isn’t really an option for me. Unfortunately, anxiety is part of my life forever, I think…

So we will see. Wish me luck!

New adventures

So it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy! I started working with a new client on a mural – a jungle scene in his bathroom. Here are the first round of photos – still plenty of work to be done…


This was somewhat challenging as jungles are all about depth and layers, which is hard to portray on a flat surface…especially in a bathroom with varying heights and widths to the walls. But I enjoyed myself and I look forward to continuing to build and expand this vision! It’s also very nerve wracking as I paint things I’ve never attempted before – like tigers and parrots. But if you don’t explore, you’ll never discover, right?

I live!

I keep meaning to blog, but I then I just…don’t. I suppose that’s because I have no new art to report, although I have been working on a piece. It’s been pretty draining. See, I decided that I’m going to start selling my art. So I got fancy, expensive canvases for this half-baked trio design aaaaaand… it’s become the bane of my existence. It’s such a large surface area that it’s taking FOREVER, and the depth of the canvas means I have to paint the sides too! (Which is not easy on top of trash bags on the floor with a new tattoo on my ankle that I’m still babying.) I’m going to have to charge $500 for this thing for my pain and suffering alone.

Here’s the WIP:

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So what’s going on with me? I’m still convinced that my medication affects my writing. I don’t feel as creative in that capacity. Not even for poems. I guess it’s a small price to pay for sanity…but it’s still kind of sad to think about it.

So this is me, tuning out…

that’s a wrap!

I feel like I’ve been working on this wall mural for an e.t.e.r.n.i.t.y.. Of course, I could only handle it in small doses because it was very specific, detailed work which isn’t my strong suit…and on a textured wall, which is basically like shoving a middle finger in your painting while you work. But here it is! A film strip doing a twirly-do with a collection of film studio logos in the frames, beginning with Old Hollywood right on to today in no particular order.

This client has quite a few more requests from me, so I will be painting on these textured walls again…and again…and it will be much more intricate work. Whoopee. But I am kind of excited because, well, what a cool side job, right?

the truce

I have two pieces of art (one finished, one almost) that came to me very easily.

YAY!

I’m not trying to brag, but I AM celebrating because it is soooooo rare that my art comes easily… It’s usually an all out war between my muse, my capabilities, and my mood. Then every once in a while all three meet in some kind of truce that results in something I’m proud of. And then whether or not my piece communicates to the casual observer comes to mind.

Typically not.

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But it’s only really a concern for me in this first one because it’s a commission (so ideally the client should understand it.) This is charcoal and some weird crayon things I found in my stash. Looking at this, I feel that realistic portraits are my greatest strength, but I never “count” them. It’s so easy to copy what I see, or to embellish it. It’s much harder to pull an idea out of the aether and put it on canvas.

Also, I did this piece.

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It was inspired immediately when I stupidly broke a necklace that belonged to a very dear friend of mine who has passed. I thought perhaps I could commemorate her better in this way rather than wearing the necklace anyway — my plan is to glue it to the canvas around the figure’s neck in a way. I’m also not quite settled on the black/white ratios…

On a side note, I went from gourmet soup to rice-a-roni tonight. Life, right?

Painting. Pastels. Paper Mache.

Whew! This was a productive day off. I’m supposed to be taking it easy and not overstimulating myself and a bunch of baloney like that while I’m in uber crisis self repair mode. But! Instead I finished my Breast Cancer Awareness painting with a matte finish, which was a bit nerve wracking because I’ve never touched a finished painting with a wet product like that before! Exciting!

Also, I did some paper mache for the first time since elementary school. Hubby commissioned me to make a monkey’s paw prop for his upcoming show, because for some reason I thought I knew all about this. Turns out I’m doing a decent job though! I made a rough mold out of aluminum foil and then put the paper over that. I’m going to paint it and shape it a bit more, then add some craft fur. Pretty fun project!

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And then I did some art! Wow! I had another song stuck in my head that spoke to an ouch on my heart and I just had to get it out. This is acrylic and pastel on canvas… Thank you to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their song “Maps” for the inspiration.

I also did some writing on a novel. Dun Dun Dun… I know. The dreaded novel… But this was a real novel I worked on, not a manic novel. And I’m taking it very slowly… It might not be released until the end of the century, but I’m still taking this as a triumph. Here is my tentative prologue…

Sailor loved cloudy skies. She tolerated the poky grass on her arms and legs as she laid and watched the gray giants soar over her, using their magic powers to transform into whatever they wanted. Today the sky was so full of them that she wondered if they were gathering for some purpose… Something important. Like a big assembly to hear God speak.

She wished that she could go too. All of Sailor’s teachers liked her and told her that she was very bright – she just knew that God would feel the same way. Maybe they were waiting for her.

The wind picked up. The clouds’ voices, they were raising until Sailor thought they were screaming urgently for her to come join them, to run! Quickly!

But then…

“Wow! Look at that!” It was Ramona. Sailor forgot that she was lying beside her. They were playing Lion King until they were exhausted chasing the other students at recess (it turned out to be much harder than they anticipated, down on all fours.)

“I see it!” Sailor cried.

It was the clouds. The crowd in the sky had parted. The air felt warmer as a single loose thread of sunlight fell from the opening and landed somewhere on the horizon. It let in all of the color that the clouds were hiding, and it danced in celebration to a tune that artists would surely have stuck in their heads all day.

“I’m going,” Sailor decided, and she popped up like a grasshopper.

“Huh? Where?” Ramona asked, baffled.

“To the light!” Sailor called over her shoulder, for she was already running in the direction of their small town, half minute miracle.

“Sailor! That could be millions of miles away!”

“So what?” Her tiny voice barely traveled with the barricade of howling wind separating them. But Ramona heard her.

She didn’t chase her. Ramona knew better. This was just one more adult thing that she knew more about than her friends, for she too was very bright. But she would always remember the anticipation she felt, watching Sailor run.

Stained Glass and Film Strip

This has been a weekend of art, junk food, Pokemon, sleep, sex (gasp!) and vodka. So basically I’m living the dream over here. I have a few half baked writing ideas and a painting that I’m over complicating, but some other noteworthy things have indeed emerged.

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On Friday I attended another painting class, this one was a stained glass horse theme. True to fashion, I couldn’t paint a horse knowing full well everyone else was. It’s not about breaking the rules, it’s about individuality. It’s not really an attractive or charming quality of mine (see also being 10 years old and throwing a tantrum at Baskin Robbins because my brother and sister wanted the same ice cream flavor as me and that wasn’t FAIR because they were COPYING me and I will NOT be COPIED, MOM!), but I followed the instinct nonetheless and had to paint a lady. For about 75% of this painting I was stuck between feeling I was never going to finish it or that I should just paint over it and start something else. But wine and good conversation with Mr. Mojo and the lady I want to be when I grow up guided me through this potential meltdown and out came one of my favorite pieces to date!

Also, it feels like I have been talking and plotting about this other project for a year, and it is finally coming together. Today I put my big girl pants on, marched over to my client’s home and started the last phase of this little theater room we have been scheming. I sketched my concept onto his wall in chalk and then slapped on an acrylic winding film strip, with painted sketchy lines. I LOVE sketchy lines! They sort of make everything better. Like that blur filter on Snapchat. It’s like, “Oh, did I fuck that up? Here’s a sketchy line or five and…voila! Masterpiece!” I swear every failure is just a few sketchy lines away from success. This is probably only something an artist can understand, or is it just me…?

Anyway, here are the photos I took of the process. More to come…

The Lovely Bricks (and Facebook Cooking)

After a rough couple of days, the last thing I wanted to do was figure out a way to replicate old, weathered bricks on a sample board for a client. I was dreading it, truth be told, because I think I’ve had enough experimenting with new things for a while. But along with breakfast the other morning, my husband surprised me with this:

Whether he wants to admit it or not, he’s an artist at heart. While I was off bragging about my painting from Friday’s class, he quietly took home his own wicked cool piece. And that wasn’t the first time–he’s come to not only support me but work alongside me at several of those classes. And then with his set design experience, he laid this foundation for me and lifted a huge burden from my shoulders. He knew how much I needed a fucking break. And with his guidance, I powered through and sanded the piece:

then he whisked me away to Home Depot for paint. He carefully navigated me through a near meltdown as he rummaged up some additional dark brown paint from the garage in mid sponging the shit out of this square of drywall. And so it is entirely because of him that I can preview this:

The client still has to approve it, mind you. But those fake bricks mean the world to me. I even like the things I don’t like about it, which is a complicated emotion you should have an artist near you explain.

And so tonight, a celebration with a Facebook video recipe…

Creamy Tomato Basil Tortellini


As seen on a Facebook video thingy. Ingredients are:

1 20oz package of tortellini (we always get the mixed spinach kind)
2 tablespoons of butter
1/2 small onion, diced (I had a glass of wine so somehow I read this as a whole onion, minced. Which is what we did and I stand by that decision.)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (it was probably 5 or 6…because there’s never too much garlic)
3 tablespoons of flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk (I don’t do whole milk. Can’t drink the stuff, and I hate buying shit for one recipe and never using it again. So we used 2%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, with juice
5oz baby spinach (we used 6, because I don’t get how to measure ounces in food)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded (I used a few handfuls. Until I really felt satisfied…)
Salt and pepper (of course)
Red pepper flakes (naturally)

So I cooked the tortellini like the directions say, which ashamedly I have memorized. Melt the butter, cook the onion in the butter, add garlic, smell garlic, add flour. Stir it around a bit, until you’re nervous that it’s been too long since you’ve done anything, then add milk and cream. Bring to simmer, add tomatoes (with juice) and spinach. It takes a deepish sauce pan for this since spinach starts off like a million times the size it ends up as in your dish. Add salt, pepper and pepper flakes to kill the spinach and when it’s wilted add the important stuff…cheese and tortellini. It turned out pretty freaking delicious, actually!

I’m aware those directions sucked. But recipes are SO boring to write. Sorry ’bout it.

Fake It til You Make It

I always resented people’s assumption that because I’m an artist, I must know how to do _______. I considered myself an illustrator and little else, so when I was asked to do things like…design a business card or a logo, for example, I would bristle. That’s not what I did. That wasn’t my craft, my specialty. Nothing in color and on nothing but white paper — that was the old philosophy. And so I shied away from any project that didn’t fit that criteria, and then the assumption became that I was being modest. The truth was that I was frustrated. Afraid. I’m constantly terrified of not meeting expectations, especially my own. Unfortunately I also have a neurotic desire to be liked by everyone, so I’d eventually break down and do whatever it was they wanted.

And you know what? I really am kind of good at just about everything artsy fartsy. Really good, even. It may not come as easily as sketching Sailor Moon, but it DOES come.

I can’t say exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way I started trusting that fact. If someone needed an artist for a project and it was something I didn’t know how to do or have never done before, I just Googled the shit out of it and practiced enough to feel confident, then I’d go out and do it (and ideally make money). It’s been working for me thus far, case in point…the door.

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Practice door rummaged up by loving husband. (Plus some primer I was getting cute with as I applied.)

I was asked to paint a decorative door. After a bit of brainstorming, the client and I both decided it would be really cool to have the door look like a panel of tile in the same room.

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The tile.

Even as we were talking about it I began to worry. I had a feeling Google might not have the greatest recommendations to the search query of, “how to paint a door to look like marble but not really marble more like cloudy, colored tile.” But I smiled and nodded and tried to trust that I would figure it out.

Thanks to my resourceful husband, I got a door to practice on. With the help of a coworker who worked for Sherwin Williams for years, I got some paint color suggestions to try out. And then Google scraped up a few different tutorials involving cheesecloth and feathers, so I was good to go.

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Round One.

I quickly found out that cheesecloth and feathers were a waste of time and a MESS to work with. I was very pleased with this first result that ultimately came from me just manhandling my trusty paint brush. But the color was off… Very cool but not quite what I was going for. Now I was actually excited for round two, inspired by my own happy accident. The next rehearsal happened far too late in the evening and with much wine, so I have no great pictures, but it was enough to prove to myself that I (kind of) knew what I was doing. Then it was show time…

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Voilà!

I’m pretty fucking pleased. I don’t know how much it looks like the tile, but it’s super cool anyway. And now I’m going to do all the doors in his house the same way, different colors. Then I’ll have to move on to the doors in my house because it was quick, WAY fun, unique and attractive. So the moral of the story…fake it til you make it. Then make the shit out of it!!!

Ghost of Commissions Past

Can I say without ego that I’m totally awesome? You’re right, I need to provide the context first. My sister came over last night with a bundle of old photos from our childhood and in the midst of it we found some old drawings of mine. Actually, not just drawings — pieces that I was commissioned to create and paid for before I ever considered doing it for a living. These types of conversations used to go like this:

Family/Friends: Draw me a picture!
Me: …No.
Family/Friends: Please?
Me: Still no.
Family/Friends: I’ll pay you.
Me: =D What can I do for you, kind sir/madam?

The critic in me wants to remind you that these are from my late teen years and I’ve honed my craft since then. But I’m still gonna show off.

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The top is a friend who wanted a special gift for her boyfriend…and what says ‘love’ better than a nude selfie facilitated by a third party? The blurry dogs belonged to my sister and her ex.

I used to hate seeing old artwork of mine, but this was fun! It has inspired me to get this site up and functioning as a place where people can commission these types of drawings from me again, 10 years later! Funny how things work out…