Creativity in the Midst of Chaos

A whole month has slipped by with nary a post. When faced with slew of stresses, work and life related, I have a hard time staying creative let alone document and write about it. Excuses, excuses, I know. So, to show that I am not in a complete creative dry spell, I’m posting a pic of the work I’ve recently completed: cat and dog Christmas cards. I discovered that, while painting was almost too involved in the midst of all the things I’m dealing with, drawing is something I can do quite easily; all I need is paper and a ballpoint pen. I’m very happy with the results. This past Saturday I had these for sale at the farmer’s market  for the first time. It opened a whole new can of worms with regards to requests for specific breeds, of which there are way too many to draw and have printed – but that is a whole other story.

These are the originals before they headed to the printers to be made into cards:




I’m quite happy with them…and crossing my fingers that others are too and want to buy them, or else I’ll be swimming in cards for the next couple of years and acquaintances will grow tired of the yearly pet Christmas card!



Long Time No Post

Let’s face it, I’m overwhelmed. I have a little too much on my plate and I need to at least acknowledge that fact if not change it.

The good news is that the plate is loaded with mostly creative ventures. The sucky news is that I have more ideas than time. If only I could leave the day job to do art full-time. But if my Farmer’s Market sales are any indication of my success, I’d better stick with the day job! Same ol’ artist’s sob story; can’t make a living from my art.

Only, I don’t believe that. I believe that one day I will find my niche and I will tap into an as yet undiscovered reservoir of art patrons who get what I do, like what I do and want to pay for it too! Yes, that got rather rhymy.

I’ve been plugging away at the Farmer’s Market, making myself visible, going through the chore of set-up and take down, for those few moments of joy when a person has the courage to actually walk into my tent and really look at what I do. When they laugh and enjoy any of my paintings or drawings, I feel immense satisfaction. I feel even more satisfaction when they like it enough to want to take something home, even if it’s just a little art magnet or card. Pieces of my expression out in the universe!

I’m trying to put out of my mind the other stuff, the business stuff like paperwork: applications for fairs and their fees, logistics of set-up and schedule, even casting my mind forward to tax time – YIKES! Panicking over cost vs income. I seem to tick something off the list and then add another two.

I’m actually losing sleep over this stuff. I never lose sleep, I love sleep. I’d chose sleep over breakfast,  I’d EAT sleep for breakfast.

Just get through the season…i.e. the Christmas selling season, and then I will take stock. What works, what doesn’t. What I can and love to do and what I can do without.

I leave you with some drawings I’ve been working on. I’m considering having them printed as Christmas cards. I’m enjoying drawing tremendously and am wondering why I’ve been away from it for so long. I hope you enjoy!


At the Farmer’s Market

Forward momentum. That’s what I’m all about these days. After an inspiring visit to Canada to see my sister doing her Farmer’s Market and other shows, I wanted to get started in my neck of the woods. I enquired about the local Farmer’s Market but didn’t hear back, didn’t hear back…and then suddenly an email on Friday asking if I could set up on Saturday!!

Well, I couldn’t say no, but I was also nervous about “yes” because I wasn’t prepared. But, I went for it. Luckily I could borrow a tent last-minute from my husband’s place of work, and a few tables from my mother in-law. It was hasty, but it worked out in the end:

My rushed set-up. Not spectacular, but it did the job

I’ve now committed to the market every Saturday until the end of the season. That’s 12 shows total. I’m not sure it makes the most sense monetarily, but I am looking at it as excellent promotion. How is anyone supposed to know I exist if I don’t get out there? The wonderful thing is that, after only being here for a few years, I already know quite a few people in the community and they are quite supportive. It seems I have a lot of interest from tourists and locals alike with my pet portraits.

I’m selling pet portrait commissions along with small items such as prints, cards, small hand made ceramic charms and hand drawn magnets such as these:

Hand made, one of kind magnets

As well as cards, which I’ve posted before, either here on this blog or at my sister blog: where my sister and I share all things creative.

Yesterday I showed up at Costco, ready to buy a tent with walls, only to discover that “summer is over”, at least, according to retail land. So, I was a bit flustered having no back-up plan. But after a quick consult with my very capable and steady sister-in-law, and the help of her smart phone ( I need one of those BAD!) we were able to locate a shade canopy, not exactly the style I wanted, but available at Friedman’s. At that point, I would have bought anything at any cost because I just wanted to get a damn tent for this upcoming Farmer’s Market. Luckily I was in luck, because though the tent didn’t have walls, it happened to be on sale, so instead of $100 it was $89. Sold! What a relief.

I’m not totally where I want to be in terms of the perfect, most simple and light market set-up, but I’m getting there. Wish me luck!


Art in the Clouds

I recently set up a booth at an outdoor art fair in Angwin called “Art in the Clouds”. It was only the second year for the art aspect of the fair and as such I was one of only four art related booths. I at least broke even, but it wasn’t super successful. I had taken part in the fair mostly as a practice run to see if I could do it. In that regard I learned a lot and now have more confidence going in to a next one…I haven’t lined any up yet though.

The way I managed to break even was with the printed  cards and a few little trinkets I’d made, like the magnets and a few charms.

I recently discovered the long existing but never discovered by me “shrinky dinks”. I had a variety pack and ended up really liking the matt finish one since it really works well with colour pencil.

This is colour pencil

And this is permanent marker. Note their size.

Place in the oven at 300F

In seconds they start to flex and shrink. Really fun!

In the end they’re super small, about half their original size.

Later I attached small silver jump rings and hung them on ribbon. I ended up selling a few of these charms.

Here’s what the set-up looked like:

A little cluttered. And it was hard to get people to walk in and actually look at the paintings.  A little more thought needs to go into the whole thing. Definitely a less patterned table-cloth is in order.

I made a few rings some with ceramics and one with a drawing behind a glass pebble.

mini canvas charms

 Card sets

A pretty good turn out

Overall a good experience and I’d like to do a few more of these types of events. If nothing else I got a lot of positive feedback which was rather encouraging!



A Cranky Creative’s Cogitations

I’m feeling cranky. You know, the kind of cranky that makes you want to do crazy stuff…like shave off your hair or something. The crankiness is coming from a feeling of lack of moving forward, a lack of creative outlet. Shaving my head would probably be the result of misplaced action and something I’d deeply regret…or maybe not…

Instead, I’m going to channel that frizzy energy into being pro-active. Part of being a creative person is the struggle with not only self-doubt but also with how to get your stuff out there in the world. That is where I’m perched. Ready to show my work and ready to sell some stuff but not sure how.

Today I’m filling out a form for the Angwin “Art in the Clouds” outdoor art show. It doesn’t cost much to enter, it’s only their second year, and the turn out will most likely be small, but I need to exercise some marketing muscle. I need to put myself out there just to see how it feels and get the ball rolling.

It’s coming up fast. That means I need to have stuff to show and small salable items that I stand a chance in hell of moving. The chances of originals being purchased are slim, so I need to head into the world of reprints…without breaking the budget to do so.

Can I do this? It’s coming up really soon : May 20th.

Pawing through the stuff I’ve already done, I found cards I’d had printed last year for Christmas. I have lots of extra I can package into card sets:





Would you buy a set of those? I’m also working on some octopus themed cards for thank yous and birthdays.

But therein lies a slippery slope. Do you make art for art’s sake, or do you make it to sell? Once you worry about your audience, the joy and the freedom of creating can quickly slip away.

I shall be navigating these waters in the next couple of weeks. Wish me well. I will keep you updated.







Dogs in Hats Make Me Laugh

I recently participated in an art show at the local Calistoga Art Center called “Fools For Art”. I felt like the themes (“Foolishness” and “Spring”) fit what I wanted to do perfectly; I instantly knew what I was going to paint.

I had so much fun with this one that I am starting a series of paintings on canvas devoted to dogs wearing hats. Feel free to send me any photos you might have of your doggy looking dapper or silly in a hat. Who knows, he/she may become a work of art!

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Process: Portrait in the Making

The steps towards a finished pet portrait are rarely the same from piece to piece. Sometimes I envy those artists who have a system, a way of doing things that they rarely waver from. At times, my lack of a set process has made me doubt whether I truly was an artist. I also envy those artists who are so driven by their passion to paint that they would lose sleep or allow themselves to become malnourished all for the sake of their art. Uh, uh, not me. I am well fed at all times, and when the clock strikes the magic hour I am firmly cuddled up in warm blankets ready for a lovely night’s sleep.

So I’ve come to embrace the fact that my erratic process and sporadic fits of inspiration are the hallmarks of my creative style. I’m going to show you two pet portraits, one a commission, one a gift for my parents and the process I went through to create each of them. You can decide whether they’re similar at all.

The first is a commission I did for a friend in my book club. She has a cat named Fiona who has extremely expressive eyes, a tone of attitude and beautiful fur. Because of her personality, it was extremely difficult to get a photograph of her that was satisfactory, even though I did visit on two occasions to photograph her. We finally decided to use the body position in one image and the face in another one:

Above: the body

Below: the head


Because the expression had to be just right and the background had to fit very specific requests, I did a couple of quick sketches:




After a few practice runs, I then used pencil to sketch onto the canvas. This is a very loose process, because invariable adjustments are always made as the paint is applied. Then on goes the paint. The under painting is initially grays and blacks:


Slowly the details and color are added in:

Then lots of playing by adding colors, deciding against them, painting over and eventually the end product:


The Rovi painting was not as much pressure since it wasn’t a commission and as a result was done a little more quickly and freely.  For this one, I had a photograph already but it was extremely yellow from the tungsten lighting when the photo was taken. I had to guess at the color of her fur based on my memories of her:


Rather than do a series of sketches I decided to just go directly to the canvas and sketch it with paint:


As you can see above, proportions are wrong, but as the painting progresses, those adjustments are made. I loved the shape of Rovi’s body in this position and the negative space around her. I tend to favor a mat background because it highlights the subject and gives it a more contemporary feel. I ended up including a little bit of floor detail but changed the color entirely.  Here is the end result:


And that, my friends, is the process of two very different paintings.

Climbing Back on the Wagon

So, looking back at my last post, I realize how very badly I’ve dropped the ball on blogging.

Like I said at the start, all of this is a process. Once the shine of something new wears off, you have to dig a little deeper and find a different motivation, something stronger and more resilient.

While I may have fallen off the wagon on the posting front, I haven’t fully fallen off the wagon on the creative front. From October to December I was working with the the book “the Artist’s Way”by Julia Cameron; a most excellent book that has been around for ages. My mom always had one or two copies around the house when I was growing up. I had never been ready to do all the exercises it asks you to do…until I was. It was super inspiring and set me back with more focus on the path of creativity.

But life does get in the way, doubts get in the way. That’s were the resilience comes in. The strength to go through the doubt and keep going. On that front I am still learning. I start and I stop. I believe and then I  doubt and back again. Part of the Artist’s Way is to renew your commitment to creativity for another 90 days at the end of the book. It asks you to find a buddy, someone to check in with to hold you accountable, to make sure you are still creating. I chose my sister. Who better? She’s the reason I always wanted to do art in the first place. This checking in on a weekly basis has proved to be mutually beneficial- she is being inspired to create as well.

Please see her work at:

Truly inspiring stuff.

It’s so helpful to be around creative people. Another such inspirer (I know, not a word!) is my dad. This Christmas dad showed us a bounty of wood turnings he had made. Truly inspiring as well 

He just takes the time, on a regular basis, to get out to his shop and create. I can learn from him!

To my joy, I got into a show hosted by the SPCA through MesArt.

5 of my pet portraits are on display, right now in San Francisco! Check out the link:

The show is called Unconditional Love. It’s up until May.

I’ve not been as prolific as I know I can be. I would love to find the motivation to be creating on a daily basis. That is my goal. Still, I need to recognize what I am doing. So, that said, I am letting you know that I am inching my way back on to the wagon of creativity and also blogging!

Let me leave you with a few images of some stuff I’ve created in the past couple of months:

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