A woman who works with her hands is a laborer;

A woman who works with her hands and her head is a craftsperson;

A woman who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an....


Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Greetings. Namaste. Hello.
I know. 
April was the last post. 
Not very diligent of me. But I am here now. Life has settled again after some crazy upset. Things will be "back to normal" now. 
So - I will dispense the excuses and move forward...
Here we go.

Happy New Year
Yes. I know it is September. 
Allow me to explain...

Summer is winding down like an old grandfather clock that someone forgot to fully wind. 
The days are shortening.
The temperatures, though still warm during the days, are cooler at night and are starting to require a blanket.
The day has that feel of autumn chill just beginning to creep in. 
The sun reaches us from a different angle and the shadows are lengthening.
The grasses and corn in the fields of the nearby farms are brown and turning crispy and dry.
I have to remember to grab a sweater as I head out the door "just in case". 
I am craving wool socks, sweaters and most importantly ... my boots. I am so ready to wear my boots.

It is the month of back to school.
It is the month of my birthday.
It is my preferred New Year.

As a parents I always viewed September as "the start"...the "new beginning."
It was the time of new supplies - both for my children and for me. 
Pencils were long with full erasers and no "chew" marks.
The box of crayons displayed each colored wax stick with a perfect sharp tip and they were still neatly lined up like little soldiers.
It was a time when I stocked up on some basics to stash in my box of art supplies - new black markers, new mechanical pencils, new tape, maybe a composition book or two.
The shoes are new and clean, the socks still match and hair was actually combed and styled before the kids headed out the door.

It a month that marks change. 
Change in routines...change in schedules...change in attitudes.
Goals are set. New schedules creates. Bedtime routines replace lazy summer evenings. Mornings are still somewhat organized because we are willing to get up on time.

My children are grown.
I find myself, this year, still feeling as if it is summer. 
The typical markers that signify change are not as prevalent in my life anymore.
The "back to school" sales at stores no longer hold me hostage while I try to check each item off the classroom supply list. 
I'm not carpooling. I'm not signing the stack of back to school papers, updating contact information.
I'm free of this anxiety.
but I still view this time of year as the true "New Year". 
Partly because of the life-long programming - but also because it is indeed the start of my own personal New Year.

Being a September baby, it is a time of reflection for me.
A time of reviewing my past year...
Did I cross anything of my bucket list (why yes - I did).
Did I accomplish my goals (some... ok. Many - but not all).
Did I remember to have fun? (Yes! Most definitely)
Did I move forward? (I think I did).
What were the highlights?
And finally...what am I expecting and hoping for in the next year?

1. to make  a full-time income as an artist.
2. to travel to Hawaii to witness my dear friends renew their vows and celebrate their glorious 30 years together.
3. to see the Painted Hills in Oregon ( goal that will be achieved in just a few short days)
4. to create one piece of art each month - just because.
5. hike
6. bike
7. to practice yoga and meditate regularly
8. to try a new restaurant or coffee shop at least once a month
9. to teach workshops and classes
9. lead a women's art retreat
10. learn a new skill...just for fun
11. sing. every. single. day.
12. play music on one of my instruments. every. single. day.
13. go on a road trip...alone
14. go on a road trip - with an unplanned destination - with someone special
15. dance under the stars
16. tell someone that they are loved every. single. day.
17. listen. to those around me
18. listen. to my heart.
19. listen. to my body.
20. show and feel gratitude. every. single. day.

So those are my new years resolutions. Come January 1st...when everyone else is deliberating the new year, I will be settled in and already comfortable with the idea.
Happy Birthday to me...
Happy New Year.Happ

Monday, April 7, 2014


 Yes. I know.
I have been ridiculously absent. for a long time.
My intention when I apologized for my absence once before was to get back on track...
but the writing muse has been evading me.
I think my muse is back.
Forgive my absence.
It won't happen again.
And now....

This is a story (told with permission)
A love story.
With a very, very happy ending.
The "And they lived happily ever after" kind of ending.
The kind of ending that we all hope for - especially me.
The kind of ending that...naïve or not...I am going to continue to believe in.
I met Debbie and Hillary several years ago.
They were/ are best friends and roommates.
Two of the most loving, charitable, welcoming and positive people I have ever met.
The kind of people that have never met a stranger -
the kind that love to laugh -
the kind that are anxious to lend a hand and help or volunteer for ... everything -
the kind that I have never, ever heard a word of gossip escape from either of their lips -
the kind that will ask a person how they are...and then genuinely listen to the answer and be engaged in the conversation -
the kind that, when they enter a room, every child is drawn to them...as is every dog -
the kind of people who sees your soul - not your wallet or your clothes or you circumstances -
the kind that will laugh with you and cry with you.
They are pretty wonderful.
They have been best friends and lived as roommates for 16 years.
Longer than many marriages that I have known.
Until a few months ago.
Yes they are still best friends - and they are still roommates...
 but they reached a point where they were ready to share their story and their truth.
They are committed partners who love each other more than life itself and were tired of hiding their love in the shadows.
They felt the time had come to let the "world" know who they were and what they meant to each other.
It was time for them to do this for themselves -
but also to offer strength to anyone who was hiding their personal story behind closed doors.
(Because we are all holding a secret story behind closed doors.)
They announced their love and commitment to their personal community -
and a couple months ago, they called me.
The time had come to make their relationship legal.
Sidenote: For those who read this that are not from my part of the globe - a little background.
Same sex marriage is not legal in Oregon yet - but it is in Washington. Living in Portland, Washington state is a 2 minute drive across the bridge; therefore certain laws are somewhat blurred across state lines. In this case - although a same-sex couples cannot marry in Portland - if they are married in Washington, it is recognized as a legal union in Oregon.
Debbie and Hillary chose a date in March to become legally married.
Not just because of the legal ramifications -
but, because, after 16 years of only being "friends" in public - they were more than ready to take a public stand and declare their love for each other before family, friends and God.
 This was an important and significant decision.
The wedding would be for immediate family only - very small and intimate.
But they wanted a way to commemorate the event and symbolize the love of their community of friends that were extending their love and support to them.
This was a very passionate occurrence for many people.
That is where I came in.
I received a phone call asking if I would create a very personal piece of art for them.
Not only was I excited - I was honored and humbled by this request.
I grew up with strong Christian values from birth.
Very few people in my life have ever been a true and unfailing example of what "Christian values" are...
except for these women.
I have also grown up with near and dear friends - the kind of friends that years and distance cannot separate - that have struggled in a world that has given these amazing individuals some awful and humiliating labels - like "freaks" or "deviants" or "evil".
But that is another story for another day...
The bottom line -
Yeah. I was humbled.
We met a few times - we talked about ideas, and things that were meaningful and symbolic to them.
They wanted a way to represent all of the people that were offering love and support.
We decided on rice paper.
A wonderful textured paper - rice paper would be torn into small pieces and mailed to friends and family with a letter of explanation.
If the recipient of the paper was willing, they would sign their name in permanent marker on the rice paper and return it.
These names would be collaged onto the painting surface so that shadow...almost ghostly images...of the names would be behind the art work.
A symbolic representation of the love and support, the painting would be "built" upon these names.
Names on rice paper collaged to the background.

Debbie and Hillary spent a few days discussing images they wanted to see -
words, quotes, symbols that were important to their story.
And then...away we went.
I built a box which, when hung, stands out from the wall.
Multiple layers and levels add texture and dimension.
Symbols included - Mt. Hood - the beautiful mountain which stands in our backyard and looks over us in our part of the globe - symbolic of the ascent they have made together over the years; A river with fish, blooming flowers, lush green, a tree bursting with leaves- all signs of spring and symbolic of a re-birth; A cut-out of their canine, Piper; A heart with the dates which commemorate the beginning of their relationship and their wedding date - 16 years apart, to the day; a quote by Mother Teresa that states:
"...give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God..."
and in the middle of the mountain, a flying dove to symbolize God's love for them.
the painting, in its finished state...toes not included :)
the painting with it's rightful owners..
So here is the deal -
this painting will forever go down as one of my favorites.
I bonded with this piece because of the love that it represented.
I don't know your feelings about same-sex marriage - and quite frankly, this isn't the venue to discuss that.
What I know is I thought these two were the epitome of happiness and joy before -
but the love that radiates off of them now is infectious and encompassing and beautiful.
What I know is...
I hope that I will be able to find a love of this caliber in my lifetime.
"And they lived happily ever after..."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I could try and deny it, but it wouldn't change a thing...
the holidays are upon us.
Christmas is just one short week away.
Exactly one week from today, I will be gathering together with extended family to share good food, sing songs, drink Grandma's homemade eggnog, and create new memories.
It truly is a time when we reflect and think about what really matters.
I love to spend time remembering Chrismas' past.
I use those memories to fuel my rendition of "what is important".
I remember a few key gifts that I received as a child - but very few.
And usually the reason I remember certain gifts had more to do with their association with other memories.
the year "A Family Affair" was on television.
Our gifts were small that year - things that would fit easily in a pocket or a small bag.
I received a flexible doll of Buffy and Mrs. Beasley from the television show to help pass the time as we drove from Portland to Disneyland the day after Christmas.
But that year was unique - large trips did not happen often.
Our memories were generally created closer to home.
I remember gathering with extended family -
the chaos of our family of four active children piling into the old station wagon to drive over to my aunt and uncle's house.
Inevitably, my father forgot something in the house...every year.
As a child I didn't notice.
All I knew was that we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve after we returned from my Aunt's house.
This always concerned me - Santa usually delivers on Christmas Eve.
How was I going to get my gifts from santa?
"he knows", my father always assured me."If you've been good, he will deliver your presents before we get home".
So we would load into the car, dad would hit the steering wheel and announce that he forgot (fill in the blank), go back in the house and return ten minutes later.
Mom would remain in the car and attempt to keep us looking "Christmas appropriate".
When we returned home a few hours later,
the tree was magically full of gifts,
the cookies I had left out were now only a few crumbs,
the glass of milk drained.
And then there is the eggnog.
Grandmas Eggnog.
It tastes like nothing I have ever tasted anywhere else.
It's rich,creamy, nutmeggy, with ice cream floating in the cup.
Other than the year when I lived out of state and could not make it home for Christmas, I cannot remember a year without the eggnog.
The recipe locked in my mother's brain.
A few years back, my older brother grabbed me and pulled me aside at our traditional Christmas Eve get together...
"do you have the eggnog recipe???"
There was a sudden realization as to the importance of this recipe.
I made it a point that year to secure a written copy of the recipe and to put a copy in several different places. .. just in case.
To lose the eggnog recipe would be to lose Christmas...
well, maybe not - but almost.
Christmas, this year, is somewhat different.
My children are grown.
They are joining their lives with others.
They have new families to incorporate into their holidays.
They are having children of their own.
They are having to divide their time among parents who live in different places.
They are beginning to create their own traditions with their own small families.
We are in the process of creating new schedules and new traditions.
Some things are changing - when we gather to open gifts, how we exchange gifts...
Other things remain the same - gathering with the extended family on Christmas Eve and eggnog.
But the most important thing is the memories that we continue to create.
The love that is shared.
The sharing of our lives.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.
May your holiday be filled with joy and love.
May we all take the time to recognize that which we have and take the time to suspend worry and anxiety and anger...
May we all be blessed with the MAGIC of the season.

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Could Tell You...

I could start by telling you how sorry I am that I have been missing in action for months.
I could offer all kinds of excuses.
I could tell you about my 50th birthday coming and going and my resolutions for the next 50.
Blowing out the candles before the smoke alarm goes off.
I could tell you about the items I checked off of my bucket list -
like going white water rafting and hot air ballooning.
Watching the large balloon deflate after floating over the vineyards of Oregon.
I could tell you about my trip Sedona, AZ where I sat in a vortex and meditated on my birthday as the sun rose.

A woman meditating on the edge of a cliff in the vortex.

The beautiful rocks of Sedona - oh! The colors.
I could tell you about standing on the edge of the world at the Grand Canyon, where I joined with strangers and meditated and sent out a collective "om" across the wide chasm.

an awe-inspiring experience.
 I could tell you about my trip to Ashland, Oregon for the weekend to see a wonderful production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and to visit with amazing friends.
Friends in Ashland, OR exploring the park.
I could tell you about my adventures (or nightmares) in the dating world - in fact, I may even dedicate an entire post to that comedy of errors.
I could tell you about the death of my sweet aunt and the effect that had on me.
I could tell you about the family dinners I had.
Family dinners are a family affair - Uncle and Auntie helping grandson learn how to do the dishes.
I could tell you about the beautiful fall we have had here in Portland and how I have enjoyed absorbing the colors of the season.
Oh the colors of the leaves this year.
I could tell you about new friends that I have met and welcomed into my heart.
I could tell you about tears that have been shed and laughter that has been released.
I could tell you about sleepless nights and lazy days.

I could tell you about the phenomenal miracle of welcoming a life into our family with the birth of my sweet granddaughter.
Just hours old...
Big brother sharing secrets and pledging to protect her...
I could tell you all sorts of stories ...
Instead, I will just tell you that I have missed spending time reflecting on life and art on these pages and I am glad to be back.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Belly Art

In 1986, I was pregnant for the first time.
I was 23.
I gave birth that year to a beautiful baby girl.
That beautiful baby girl is now pregnant with her 2nd baby.

I remember when I was pregnant.
The enlarging belly was considered something that made us "glow" but was to be covered.
All of the choices for maternity clothes were large and tent-like -
billowing out just below the breast line.
And if we were lucky - you might be able to find something that did not include a large bow tied around the neck.
Maybe that was meant to "move the eye upward" so that the belly was not the focal point.
All I know is that our options were quite ugly.
Society had us thinking that our expanding belly was unattractive.
That we were fat.
That we were frumpy.
Or worse - that, although a baby was the ultimate reward, that belly was a reminder to all that we had engaged in ....dare I say it? ...sex.
I remember several years earlier, when I was a teenager -
my sister in law was pregnant.
She had the audacity (according to the older matrons of the family) to show up at a family function during a hot summer day and wear a bikini.
Now mind you - it was 90 degrees and we were by a large lake.
But how could any self-respecting woman put that large belly out there for everyone to see?
The whispers went on for days after.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, I was anxious to jump into the rite of passage and wear the obligatory maternity clothes.
The irony was - that until I was almost 7 months along,
you could barely tell that I was pregnant.
I was so disappointed that people weren't asking me when I was due.
But beneath the tent of fabric, my tight, compact belly was not even visible.
Oh how things have changed.
Thank goodness.
I have always thought that the female form, when filled with life, is exquisite.
To watch a belly grow.
To touch it.
To feel the life inside.
What is more miraculous and beautiful than that?
I am so happy that we no longer insist on it being hidden in the name of "dignity".
A few nights ago, my daughter came for a brief visit.
I had been working in the studio on "have-tos".
Orders and such.
I wasn't ready to put away the art supplies for the night,
but I was ready for a change.
Something free.
Something mindless.
I looked at my daughter and her growing tummy.
I had just been laying my hands on her to feel the movement of my granddaughter.
My box filled with markers were just a few feet away on the floor.
A smile began to emerge.
I asked her to lie down and pulled out the markers.
And I doodled.
It was quick.
It was mindless.
It was free.
And we marked the passage of this portion of her pregnancy.
Another art session will occur in late October as she nears her due date.
Perhaps with some henna next time so that it can be a part of her as she labors.
And I must say that this was truly the most beautiful canvas I have ever worked on.
Thank you JuJu for humoring this grandma.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Have You Seen This Artist?

I knew it had been a while since I had been on here.
In fact, I knew it had been so long, I was feeling embarassed at the thought of writing a post.
And then I realized that I was actually avoiding writing a post.
And then I realized that part of the reason I was avoiding writing a post is that my "writer brain" seems to have taken a vacation.
I don't know what to write about or where to even begin.
But - if there is one thing I have learned over the years it is this...
when you don't want to do something that you need to, the best approach is to just
I am.
But lest you think that I have been just lying around and eating bon bons for the last,
oh dare I say it...
six weeks!
A brief run-down of what has been occupying my time...
1. I have been attempting to stay cool in my new home. Although the incredible insulation served me well during the winter months - the lack of air conditioning has made for some very warm temperatures during the summer.
2. I came to the realization that I can't really call my "new" home my "new" home anymore since I have been there for 7 months. How did that happen???
3. I have been working on many art pieces including special orders, purchase orders for retails stores and inventory for summer art festivals.
Mirrors lined up and waiting for final touches - words and detailing.
4. I had my work move into a new location of the Made In Oregon Stores.

5. I've been trying to find ways to enjoy the days of summer.

Warm, fresh blackberries...just waiting for me to taste them.
6. I was a vendor in the Salem Art Festival - a large, wonder festival featuring the art of some amazingly talented people. I was humbled to have been juried in.
A new "old" chair . . .heading to a summer art festival. It found a new home that weekend.

I have attended some wonderful summer concerts -
including Prarie Home Companion, featuring Garrison Keillor.
We even got to enjoy him leading the audience in a sing-a-long. What a treat.

Garrison Keillor meandering through the audience and leading us all in a sing-a-long.
 My day job has kept me very busy with projects and meetings.
Meeting doodles - it was an all day meeting.

I took time to go "glamping" with friends for a weekend.
What defines "glamping"? Among other things - enjoying prime rib for dinner!
I promise I have been busy.
I promise I have been making art.
I promise I have been enjoying the company of friends and family.
And now - I have conquered the beast by writing a post on the blog.
Maybe not the most noteworthy post,
but it's done . . .
the dry spell has been broken.
You can stop looking for the lost artist -
Afterall -
summer isn't over yet and there are still more adventures to be enjoyed.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Collaborate -
Merriam Webster defines it as "to work jointly with others".
A few months ago I received a call from a client.
I have done several pieces for her in the past.
When we talked she expressed that this was an odd request.
It was.
She had been shopping in her favorite consignment shop and found a freestanding cupboard.
(Oooh - I began to get excited. I love working on large furniture pieces.)
It was a piece that had originally been unfinished.
(Originally? hmmmm...what does that mean?)
She bought it and had it delivered.
She wondered if I could paint on it.
(Of course!)
She continued . . .
Someone had started to paint on the cupboard.
(What? It's already painted?)
There was some very intricate, detailed artwork.
(So what do you need me for?)
But they evidently gave up before finishing the project and it was only half-done.
(Oh - so I am repainting the cupboard. OK, I get it now...)
She wanted the cupboard painted -
BUT she did not want to paint over the art work that was already there.
(What??? - ok, WHAT?...)
Someone had obviously worked very hard on this and it just didn't seem right to paint over it.
(OK - I can accept that...in fact, as an artist, I respect that - but...WHAT???)
She did not want me to try to copy the artists work or even her style.
But could I finish it in my style, in a way that would compliment the original art.
(I have no way of understanding what I am being asked to do!)
Sure!!!, I say...
But....maybe it would be best for me to come and see the piece before we commit to this.
Oh, she says - I hope you can do this for me. I so love this piece and want to finish it. And I would hate to think I wasted my money on it.
(Well, now I have to do this....)
I drive over to look at the piece.
I have no idea what to expect.
What I find is a very basic wooden cupboard.
It stands at counter height.
There are two drawers and three cuboard doors underneath.
The top of the piece is fully painted. The drawers are in various stage of completion.
The rest of the piece is primed with some pencil marks.
This was a huge endeavor that someone undertook and it appears they lost their motivation.
The detail was exquisite.
The quality of the paint used ...not so much.
The composition beautiful.
I am fascinated and I look and study and touch and wonder.

A partially completed drawer

A portion of  the "counter" top - or top of the cupbaord.
We spend time talking about who the artist might have been.
Male or female?
Student or professional artist?
What was this for?
A gift? A school project? A special place in their home?
Was the artist of hispanic descent or were they trying to capture a "feeling"? - Perhaps to preserve the memories of a cherished vacation? Or was it to fit a certain decor?
Why did they not finish? Why was it given to the consignment shop?
So many questions - it felt like a great mystery and we so wanted to know the "rest of the story".
We arranged for the logistics of the project.
I was only going to work on the cupboard doors and finish the partially completed drawers.
I took the parts I would be painting home.
I brought them into the studio.
I put the undercoat on them.
And then it sat there.
And I stared at it every day.
I was clueless.
What had I gotten myself into???
Finally - I picked up the first cupboard board and started to paint. I had no idea where I was going with it.
I was really stumped.
I just started.
I let the brush do the work.
I started with some leaves.
Once I began, the rest began to follow.

I deliver it today.
I am anxious to see how it all works together.
New door pulls will be added and it will all be reassembled on the piece.
to work jointly together.
An interesting term.
A process of pushing, pulling, negotiating, juxtaposing and coordinating, compromising, creating.
Sometimes easy - but often times rather difficult -
especially at the beginning.
Especially when you don't know who or what you are collaborating with.
But eventually, when you surrender to the process, the collaboration can yield some pretty amazing results.
Once again - ART teaches me about LIFE.