Caravan Wagon LOVE

After seeing these Romani-style wagons (commonly called Vardos), I want to paint intricate designs on anything that will stand still. Aren't they incredible?   

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Video | Making Art for Choice Hotels

Most of the time I create commissions for private clients who are looking for something to hang in their home or give as a gift. But sometimes, I work with corporations. Today, I'm sharing a video about my collaboration with the Choice Hotels Corporation. 

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Simple Affordable Beauty Products I Love

I'm not into beauty fads and I almost never wear makeup. But there are some tried and true products that I love. Some I have used for decades and some are new to me this year.  And just for reference, I'm a 39 year old white lady with oily skin and British Isles ancestry. While I don't fret about my appearance, I do like to feel clean, fresh, cavity free, and generally well cared for. So here are the items you'll find in my bathroom cupboard and in my grocery cart.

(And full disclosure, I am NOT being paid or asked to recommend these products. I just dig 'em.)

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Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner $7.49  Just this paste year, my skin became kind of tired and oily. So I grabbed this toner at Target one day and never looked back. It does wonders for my skin. It feels great - non-drying, brightens my complexion, and smells like heaven. 

OPI Matte Nail Envy Strengthener $17.00  I have used this nail strengthening polish for the last 14 years. I absolutely love it. The best part? It doesn't look like I'm wearing anything on my nails. 

Arbonne Lemon Essential Oil $20.00  My friend Yusef Seevers is a District Manager for Arbonne and he gave me Arbonne's new Lemon Essential Oil last month. I have used it everyday since in multiple ways. My favorite ways to use it? I add it to my laundry soap to freshen my clothes and I put it on my pulse points during the 4pm lull.

Floss (any kind) $1.29 - $3.00  Floss. Duh.

Dry Skin Body Brush $9.00  Dry skin brushing is a beautiful exfoliation habit. It also stimulates the lymphatic system and gives your epidermis a healthy, happy glow. Plus it feels great! 

Marvis Whitening Mint Toothpaste $13.50  I know, I know. 13 bucks for toothpaste? Just hear me out. I was visiting a dear friend in NYC and she had a tube of Marvis Whitening Toothpaste sitting on her sink. I forgot to bring my toothpaste, so I asked to use it. My friend spends a LOT of time on camera and her teeth look like shiny sheets of white paper. Now, its the only toothpaste I use.

Portland Bee Balm Chapstick $2.99  This chapstick was given to me as a gift from a friend of mine in Portland. I love it. Its my most favorite chapstick ever. 

Now Solutions Almond Oil $5.95 for 4 oz. - $17.99 for two 32 oz. bottles  I am a massage therapist and I like to rub down my sore muscles. I also like to rub down my kiddos and my husband. This is a great moisturizing oil that is absorbed quickly by the skin and leaves everyone feeling loved. 

John Frieda Dream Curls Spritz $5.39  I have super curly hair and it gets frizzy if I just shampoo, condition, and go. So to avoid the finger-in-a-light-socket look, I spritz this on my wet hair post-shower, drag a comb through it and air dry. Bam.

 

Why paint a self portrait?

This week, I painted my own portrait. All of my favorite painters have at one time or another, painted their own portrait. Why do artists do this? Many do it because models are expensive, but the artist is always present. Also, the artist can simply practice their craft without inconveniencing another person. I've also heard artists say, "If you can't capture your own likeness, how can you do it for another?" Plus painting yourself is difficult and challenges the artist in many ways. 

I used a photograph, rather than a mirror, to paint myself. I'm leaving my Dallas studio soon for Eastern Oregon. I wanted to capture my last moments in this space with a self portrait. It seems fitting. This space has made me supremely happy. Is the photo an exact likeness? Of course not. That's not really my thing. But it does capture the care-free way in which I make art and inhabit my studio. 

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Cozy Cottage Sitting Rooms

My family is moving from Dallas to the wilds of Eastern Oregon in 35 days. The home that we're moving to has a classic little Craftsman style living room. And while the photos below are a lot grander than anything I'll be able to accomplish in our space, they certainly have me thinking about ways in which I can decorate. 

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And here is a photo of my empty living room - a lovely blank canvas! 

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Love Letter to a House

I love painting house portraits. What began as a favor for a real estate agent a few years ago, has turned into a major portion of my commissions. I consider my house portraits to be little painted love letters. These homes shelter the hopes and dreams of their inhabitants and my goal in rendering them is to honor those dreams.

My most recent house portrait is for one of my dearest friends. She chose the lot for this home because of its beautiful Magnolia tree in the front yard. It reminded her of her home in Louisiana. The style of the house also reflects her Louisiana roots - a wide porch, white columns, French doors, dormer windows, a symmetrical sweeping roofline. But more than aesthetics, this house is home to her large blended family and her business. It was such a pleasure to paint this piece and to capture the cheery, bright vibe that reverberates off this lovely home. 

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The more things change...

I think its important to reach back and check in with my old self every once in a while. This video is now 4 years old. So much has changed in the past 4 years. And so much hasn't. My art has shifted and changed in so many ways. And I think its better, too. But my vision and purpose for creating has stayed the same. I guess I'm a woman who knows what she wants! 

Patterns Make Me Happy

I am a huge fan of textiles and wallpapers designed and inspired by William Morris. Actually, any Arts & Crafts era decor makes me really happy. But what I love even more is the Mad Cap Cottage way of mixing those patterns together. Here's a little eye candy to start your day off right. 

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Spiral In, Spiral Out

When I am painting, I get really close to my canvas. After a while, I have to step away and see it from a distance. This allows me to take in the whole image and really see the composition. Once I know my next move, I telescope back into the painting and get really close again. Painter Flora Bowley calls this "spiraling in and out". Its an instinctual thing I do when I'm working that helps me to better understand my painting.

But spiraling in and spiraling out is not just reserved for making art. I also do it with my life. I haven't posted for over a month here on the blog. Instead of posting, I've been spiraling in. I've been planning our family move to Oregon. I've been overseeing the outdoor learning program at my son's school garden. I've attended two weddings, one of which I officiated on the California coast. I've finished a new series of 8 paintings. And I just completed my last open studio event in Dallas. Its been a big month. 

Now that my open open studio weekend is over, I'm spiraling out. Now is the time to get the big picture view. Now is the time to look, listen, and assess. Write in my journal. Post on the blog. Write thank you letters. Ship paintings. Breathe. Here are some photos from the past 30 days in no particular order. Thank you, dear readers, for this hiatus. Its so reassuring to spiral out, away from the intimacy and proximity of the painting, and return to this happy online space. More to come!

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Where the Cool Grass Grows

The client who commissioned this piece says that no matter what is happening in their home, there is always music playing. His children play instruments (violin and cello) and music is a huge part of who they are and how they inhabit their home. This piece is called "Where the Cool Grass Grows" and measures 36 x 36 inches. 

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Here are some detail shots: 

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The title "Where the Cool Grass Grows", pays homage to Ferdinand the Bull, who wanted to sit in the cool grass, just quietly, and smell the flowers. Munro Leaf's book Ferdinand the Bull is special to my clients, so I laced some text from the book into the upper right and left hand corners of the painting. Isn't it fun to hide something special in the background? 

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Interested in your own commission?

Click HERE for details. 

Fall 2017 Open Studio Event

You are cordially invited to the Fall 2017 Open Studios at the Continental Gin Building in Deep Ellum, Dallas. Our building has 50+ artists across 61,000 square feet of studio space. We're opening our doors Friday, October 20th from 6-10pm and Saturday, October 21st from 2-8pm for a relaxed open studio event that will include music, wine, refreshments, and more. Please visit me on the third floor in Studio 3W3. Can't wait to see you! 

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Hotel Emma

This past weekend, I delivered a piece of art to San Antonio. My clients treated me and my husband to a beautiful evening that included a visit to The Hotel Emma. I was so moved by the architecture and interior design that I thought I'd share here! 

The hotel was originally Pearl's Brewhouse, built in 1894. It's been a San Antonio Landmark ever since. After many decades the building fell into disrepair. Then in 2002, a developer undertook the massive project of revitalizing the Pearl, which included the creation of Hotel Emma. Architects Roman & Williams have done a phenomenal job with the renovation. Here's a look at this completely unique space. 

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THE LOBBY

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THE LIBRARY

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THE ROOMS

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OUTDOOR SPACES

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Leap of Faith

After over a decade in Dallas, my family and I are returning home to the west. There are lots of reasons that this is the right move at the right time. But mostly we need to be with family. It's that simple. This summer while visiting my Mama's home in Eastern Oregon, my husband and I finally began entertaining the idea of moving. As it happened a beautiful 1925 Craftsman house in Halfway, OR came on the market. We moved quickly and have now made it ours. 

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What does this mean? It means that I will continue my work as an artist and writer in the wilds of Eastern Oregon. It means my boys will better know their grandmother/s and visit extended family with more frequency. It means our children will be raised in a small tight-knit community. It means that we will be living a much simpler life. It means that seasonal rhythms will dictate our activities more than ever before. It means that we'll have to make do with less. Its means we have to get creative. It means that we're putting the "free" back in freelance. 

We won't be moving until December. We'll need that time to transition. Texas has been good to us and we've made some wonderful friends. But I'm very excited about this new chapter. 

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Above is a photo I took this June in Pine Valley, very near our new home in Halfway, OR. And below is a photo of Main Street, taken in the fall.

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And what about my art? What about my studio? Don't worry, dear readers. The work continues. Our new home has an unfinished basement that will work beautifully as an art studio. Its has natural light from six large windows and lots of open square footage. I have a feeling that this move will be a shot of inspiration for my art!

Again, we don't move until December, but in the meantime here are some photos of our new home. Of course, we'll be making some small changes over the next year to make it ours, but its already in beautiful condition. 

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Heron Patterned Wallpaper

The heron is a kind of totem for my husband and I - a spirit animal for our relationship. They are a symbol of grace, security, purpose, and independence. It started before we married. We were sitting quietly in the Japanese Garden at the Seattle Arboretum, when heron flew down to the pond and hung out with us for a very long time before it seized a fish and gulped it down. Carpe Piscis! Seize the Fish! Since then, herons have followed us everywhere.

Today, I'm crushing on these beautiful crane and heron patterned wall papers. Its hard to pick a favorite! 

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Navajo Lands

My most recent commission is a triptych inspired by the land inside the Navajo Nation along US Highway 89 in Arizona. I passed through this extraordinary landscape on my way home from Utah to Texas this summer and I cannot get it out of my head. I usually paint pieces that come somewhat from my own experience, but this series definitely comes from a place of awe and wonder rather than personal experience. 

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I frequently work from photos that I've taken. Its hard to remember all of the details of a face or a space through pure recollection. My paintings are always re-worked from photos and journal entries as source materials. This piece was commissioned before my summer trip began. My client encouraged me to be on the lookout during my journey for desert scapes I found inspiring.  

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My clients had originally been interested in another piece of mine called "Kingdom of Daylight" (pictured below), but it was too small for their space. They asked that I keep the original painting in mind when creating the new piece. All of this contributed to the final composition.  

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Here are each of the three panels so you can get a closer look at the work. Each piece is 30 x 30 inches for a total of 30 x 90 inches. You can learn more about the Navajo Nation and their governance of this landscape on their official website: http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/

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A Cabin in the Woods

Some people go to the sea for respite. Some to the desert. Some people like to disappear into the city. And some like to commune in the mountains. Today, I'm feeling the need for a cloak of trees somewhere deep in the forest. 

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Color Crush

What is it? Is it rose-gold? Salmon-ish brown? Chalky blush? Rusty pink? I don't know what to call it, but I am loving the range of pinks pictured below. They remind me of Santa Fe, Paris, and Tuscany all at the same time. These elusive pinks are starting to show up in some of my newest paintings as well. 

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