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....


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.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I. Love. Rollercoasters.
Ever since I was young.
I remember going to an amusement park  -
a big amusement park for the first time when I was about 15.
We had driven to California for a church trip.
We were going to spend one entire day at the amusement park.
I had died and gone to heaven.
There were three rollercoasters at the park -
one had a full loop in it.
A full loop in a rollercoaster at during this time was a big deal.
I remember panicking as I waited in line and I slowly moved forward.
I just knew that even though no one else had plummeted out of their seats to their death -
I would be the exception to the rule.
I was terrified.
But I didn't step out of line.
It was my turned. I climbed into my seat.
The protective bars lowered down and I felt pinned.
I think that bothered me more than anything.
I was trapped.
We pulled out of the gate and started to ascend an incredibly high hill.
The steeper we climbed the slower we moved.
It felt like we would start to fall backwards.
We crested the top of the peak, paused for a brief second...
And then we took off.
Full speed ahead.
It was almost instantaneous.
The screams were uncontrollable - the panic consuming.
When we pulled back into gate, I got out, steadied my legs,
and ran down the stairs and around to get back in line.
I was scared - but I knew that I needed to try it again.
The second ride was truly fun -
I still felt the apprehension at the ascent, but as we descended and gained speed,
I felt pure excitement.
I knew I was not going to die.
I was still startled at the fast turns, the rapid descent down the hills -
and the feeling of being flipped upside down and out of control was a little scary -
but it left me wanting more.
This was fun!
I rode the coaster over 20 times that day.
With each ride, I relaxed into the experience.
I raised my hands high above my head and closed my eyes.
I loved the ups and downs - the extreme opposites.
I felt free.
I was flying.
Last year for my birthday,
my kids surprised me with a day trip to a small amusement park about 3 hours from here.
My oldest daughter recognized the fact that life for me would never be the same.
My birthday was 3 months after my husband had left.
She wanted me to remember that life could be fun.
The park we went to is nothing like the big theme parks -
but it had a couple of small rollercoasters.
I ushered my birthday and new life in with multiple rides on the coasters.
It felt symbolic and empowering.
I embraced my inner child and let loose.
It was good.
So here we are.
June 4.
I am at my one-year anniversary of my new life.
Exactly one year ago, a significant member of my life announced that he did not want our lives to remain connected anymore.
It was as if I was dragged to the front of the line,
me pulling and fighting all the way,
and I was forced onto the biggest rollercoaster of my life.
No engineer could have designed this coaster.
It seemed like the scariest ride ever.
My "screams" were loud and long.
I barely was able to breathe.
There have been very large hills to climb, fast plummeting descents that seem to never end, turbulent turns and spins that left me dizzy and wondering if I would ever be upright again.
This rollercoaster locked me into my seat and it has yet to come to an end.
But something has happened...
I am raising my arms in the air.
I am closing my eyes and leaning my head back.
I am enjoying the feeling of flight.
I have realized that I don't want this ride to end.
The ride on this rollercoaster had been the greatest gift I could have been given.
I will no longer refer to this as the "anniversary of my life falling apart".
Instead...it's the anniversary of me getting on the best ride of my life!