Posts in watercolors
Ten Weeks of Trees

Back in college I decided that an independent study for my studio art degree would be FUN! I got to come up with my own lesson plan, have my very own studio space, and often make my own "hours".

I set up in an amazing little corner space, near a water source, with STACKS Of brand new huge cold press AND hot press paper. There were new brushes and tubes of paint. I used the same pallet that I still use today, over 20 years later.  Even better, the studio was just steps from the back door to my dorm.

Coming up with my own lesson plan meant that I was require to have it approved by my professor, who I am sure already had me pegged for not following directions and being quite the rogue art student. I remember coming upon the deadline for submission, I was starting out the window at the trees and blurted out "trees!". So. I painted trees. For ten straight weeks. Trees, for three hours a day. I was required to check in, meet and critique, change my technique and colors. On occasion, I got caught sneaking out to watch Oprah in my dorm room with my roommate, who was NOT an art major and was NOT required to spend her afternoons in the art studio like I was.

In the end though, I got in the zone. I had my walkman and headphones, another cute boy art student worked nearby (he was SO much better than me, drawing figures, architectural rendering, while I scratched abstract lines all over my papers and filled them in with paint like a coloring book.

The result wasn't too shabby, I have heard that if you do something regularly for two weeks, it becomes a habit. Or at least, you have to come out with some sort of growth, progress, a nice result.

At last I passed the class and have ended up with some amazing tree paintings.

One hangs in my living room, and many others in homes all over the country. 

(there are a few left in my files, which are now up on my website in the "organics" section. Click HERE to go to that page and start scrollin')

Monastere de la Grande Chartreuse

Almost 20 years ago I went on my one overseas trip to the French Alps and visited the most amazing Monastere de la Grande Chartreuse. I tasted some pretty potent green colored Chartreuse liqueur, made there by the monks, a very secret recipe that I don't ever care to have because it will never be my choice of drink.

Chartreuse Monastere
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The curvy road and long drive up to the Monastere, the quietness of mountains and property, was almost overwhelming with it's peace and space.

I hiked around, took a museum tour, inspected the silent monks from afar, I watched them closely, hoping to catch a rebel speaking to another, perhaps. (but that did not happen, they took their vows of silence very seriously) 

I picnicked on a stone wall the way the French do, with a loaf of bread, and assortment of stinky cheeses and salami, apricots. and warm soda water.

Nearby, I looked up and took a snapshot of this statue above a doorway. This   was a profound moment for me, for some reason, not one I can explain. The vision of the statue stayed in my head for the next few weeks until I returned home and developed the film in my camera.

The next day I painted it.

Coming Across Ancient Projects

Years ago I was home with my little ones and my mom was working in Concord, Ma at Concord's Colonial Inn at the front desk. She also managed their little gift shop, which continued to grow as she put her head down and did their purchasing and set up for them there. Somehow the opportunity came up for me to do a painting of the inn, which ended up on their t-shirts and mugs (I believe we also made note cards, which were sold at the front desk). At some point, with life changes, and Mom moving to Gloucester when I did in 2006, that side of my business dropped away. 

I just came across the paintings in my flat files in my studio, as I am using the snowy cold season to archive every piece of work in my possession.  They are also for sale on my website, the direct link to the section for purchase is in the Other Places & Other Things section. (and scroll down to the bottom, they are sitting right there)

Time Lapses & Painting Trees
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I went back to painting trees a few weeks ago. 

When I was working on my Senior Capstone project for my Studio Art Major in college, I had to come up with a theme, and I was stumbling around in a meeting with my professor and looked out the window and blurted out "Trees. I will paint trees". For ten weeks, I painted trees, which resulted in two 8 x 4 foot paintings with my hand built frames for my show at the end of the year. 

My dad hauled those two paintings back to Los Angeles in a truck for me and kept them in storage until the following year when I had an art show in LA. My sister ended up with one of them, and I know it is with her somewhere in her world.  But at the show, I sold one to a lady who was a collector of my dad's work. A few years ago, she passed away, and I still wonder what's become of the painting. Is it hanging in a family member's house, stuffed in storage, or in the landfill?

A few years ago, I started painting again after a 5 year hiatus. It has always come in waves, the packing up and putting away of supplies and studio spaces, feeling like it needed to be all or nothing. For a long time, "nothing" is what had to be.

One of the first paintings I worked on was a diptych from a photo I took while walking in Ravenswood Park, in Gloucester. The photo was from 2006 when I first moved to the area, unable to believe that I was in the woods, living near the ocean again after being landlocked for so long. Unfortunately, walks in Ravenswood back then consisted of sometimes dragging screaming little ones along, because their legs were tired, there was a bug near them (20 feet maybe and way above their heads?), or because it was a dirt path and not a cement sidewalk. So these walks have been far and few between and then I just never came back around to it, like many things.

I just scrounged up a time lapse video I took for some reason while I was painting in the middle of the night. I was working on two at the same time, as you see at the end of the video...The finished product is below. 

In writing this, it occurs to me how our lives go 'round in circles, always changing, but sometimes coming back around to where we started in some ways. Right now, I feel like time is lapsing, moving slowly, but before our eyes, flashes by. I like to think it comes back around at some point.

Paper buying (from the art supply junkie)

(Read only if you are interested in art supply stores and my seedy* first apartment in Somerville back in 1996.)

*Seedy. Term I learned from my grandfather when we were on a road trip and the hotel our entire family was staying at in NYC, was not all that he expected.)


When I first moved to Boston in 1997, I lived in an apartment building in Davis Square, the best apartment I could find within my price range, within walking distance to the Red Line. I worked for Longyear Museum, which at the time was in this huge old mansion on top of a hill in Brookline. My commute consisted of two ten minute walks on either end, and a good amount of time riding the Red and Green Lines. 

The apartment was all mine, I had lived with parents and roommates far too long for my liking, and I didn't care that the commuter rail ran by every half hour, twenty feet from my living room window. I was the only single girl in the building amongst families and professionals, who's diets consisted of curry and cabbage, this was a heavily populated part of town where Haitians and Indians lived. 

In my newfound independence, with a job, apartment with my very own refrigerator, and a t-pass, I also set up a little home studio in my living room.  

When you ask an artist where she likes to shop, it won't be a department or liquor store for me...this one will tell you where she buys her paints, paper, tape, glue and random brushes to get the charcoal dust off the paper. 

Not to date myself, but this was back when there was no "online ordering" of ANYTHING (or if there was, I didn't know how to do it). When I needed supplies, I tended to save it for a Friday, when I would make my 90 minute commute home.  If I got off at the Harvard Square T-stop, just short of my own, I could walk two blocks to the now-out-of-business art store, Charrette.

I was there just recently and I walked by and saw a shop in it's place, pointed up to it and said "hey kids, that's where I used to buy all my art supplies TWENTY years ago!".  They didn't really care, nor did they see the emotional impact on a middle age woman walking with her teenage daughters in her old stomping grounds.

I remember the feeling of happily walking into that store on a Friday evening on my way home from a long week of work, drop $300 in about ten minutes, and walk out with a bag stuffed in my backpack and box of 29x42 inch cold press watercolor paper (which I swear is heavier than hot press).

My favorite weekends were spent in my little apartment at my makeshift painting table, the train racing by every half hour, shaking the building, burning candles to ward off the cabbage/Indian food smell and sticky traps set for the roaches (yes, roaches, I didn't mention that before, but they were there too).

Now, over 20 years later, I am still an art supply junkie and will go to great lengths to get it, but it is now easier, since I have a car, and the ability to online shop. 

There are two factors that determine where I go.

1) How lazy to I feel?  Can I wait a few days to get it? If I am lazy, or if it is cold out and I rather stay in my pajamas all day, I place an order at Dick Blick

2) Do I want it now? Like, RIGHT NOW? If I need the instant gratification, I drive 20 minutes to North Beverly to the Wholesale Art Store

Dick Blick is just pretty cool. Stay up late at night and peruse and get some retail-therapy-in-you-pajamas while sipping a bourbon.  But even then, you can't smell or really see what it is you're buying and so I tend to make the trip down to the actual art store. 

There is beauty to my most recent trip to Art Supplies Wholesale, which is by no means any comparison to AC Moore and Michael's. This is the real deal. If you are local, be sure you go there.

Last week, I was going to buy myself new paper, brushes, whatever else I really "needed". This time, I took my 14 year old daughter, who after a five year hiatus of being interested in anything except hanging with her friends or binge watching stuff on Netflix (with her door closed), decided she wanted to paint.  She excitedly carried her own basket, I tossed stuff in it for her, and now, a week and a half later, I am still waiting for her to actually DO something with it. It sits stacked on her desk in her room. Still. 

I have no ending to this. I am just merely throwing out information along with some semi-interesting information about art and living with cockroaches. But I guess this is primarily about art supplies. 

Did you follow?

Oh. Here is a photo of my daughter and me when we drove to the art store last week. Yet, this is my 16 year old daughter who a) does not paint and b) is the only one who will take a photo with me and c) came along because I bribed her with a trip to Starbucks.


Footnote: see below for storage options for art supplies. Yes, these are all filled with paints, paper, candle wax, sewing. wood block, staple guns, my electric sander...I am not quite sure what else, but when I need it, I usually can find it in there. 

Back "20-Something-Years". Woodstock, Vermont.

It's been over twenty years since I lived in Woodstock, Vermont, a place I never thought I would ever have a reason to go back to. When I drove up one morning recently to meet a woman I'm going to be working with on some creative projects, I thought "why would I need a reason to come back here, other than to just be here?" 

When my GPS stopped working and I drove up a few wrong driveways before I found hers, I really felt like I was in another world. Stepping into hers, I experienced hours of unintended insight, with the overwhelming feeling that I didn't have enough "fight" in my world. This lady had it, I could see it in her photography, dining room table, in her eyes and the spiritual corners of her home. I'm talking about the kind of fight that means you just get through everything that seems to hit you, with a greater sense of humor, likely alot of grief, inspiration and drive to keep going on to the next thing.  

I think I realized some things while I was back in my old brief home town. The most important being that wherever we are, we are always at a starting point.

Every day, every town, every job, every person we are with, we are always at a starting point.

When I was in college, my mom moved to Woodstock on a whim. She'd passed through once before and thought "why not?", so she did it. I wound up there in between "gigs" after graduating from college. By the time I arrived, she had bought this cute corner house within walking distance to town, with a front porch, complete with porch swing. All that was missing was the mint julep (Mom doesn't drink). 

I landed an internship at the local arts council, Pentangle Council on the Arts. I helped in the office, sent letters of thanks to the members, promoted events, sold tickets to shows, and I went to every movie in the Town Hall Theatre, FOR FREE, because that was a perk for working 30 hours a week for fifty dollars. Sometimes the guy at the theatre desk would even sneak me some free candy, and when he didn't, I would just eat what I had smuggled in my pocket from the drug store.

What an experience to a) work for a non profit (gulp, if you haven't ever done it, do it, you will gain new insight to a whole other world)  b) exist at work with a million of creative types. There were writers, musicians, actors, artists, and then just the people who really cared 200% about the arts. I think the highlight was feeding Maynard Ferguson and his band, before the night of their big show. I swore I hated Jazz, but after that night, I realized I didn't really know what jazz was all about. I had fed rice and chicken and cake to about 30 of the most talented young musicians in his band, while he sat at the head of the table making jokes and asking for seconds.

(note: I also met Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. I had no idea who he was, nor did I knew anything of The Byrds, but it was cool to know I met someone famous)

I had my first art show in the little corner gallery. That led to many many shows for years later. I have that cute local UPS driver to thank (who I dated) for introducing me to the gallery owners.

I learned how to really take care of babies, because I supplemented my tiny internship pay, working as a part time nanny. I kept them on a schedule, I didn't starve them or lose them, and apparently both have become fine young men. I have since raised two of my own and they are still breathing and don't complain too much.

I learned that some things are really messed up, because I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Mountain Creamery in 1995 in downtown Woodstock when I heard on the news that OJ Simpson was found not guilty in the murders of Nicole and Ron. When I returned from Woodstock this week, I learned that he was just granted parole for some misdeed that I never bothered to follow. I'm not so sure I knew he was even locked away. That morning I had picked up a cup of coffee at the Creamery for my ride home...Oj Simpson and the Mountain Creamery, in my life together, two times, twenty years apart.

I learned how to make Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding, from Simon Pearce Restaurant, who graciously handed out recipes to anyone who asked. I won't say anything more about it, but if you knew me a few years ago, you will know what I am talking about....(okay, yes, so I took their recipe, made it gooier, and made it my own in my own restaurant!)

The world of Groupon allowed me to stay at The Kedron Valley Inn for a few nights, where I was thankful for the bar downstairs, the renovated bathroom, the complimentary hot breakfast in the morning, and the reliable wifi. When I decided to make the trip, it wasn't something I had ever considered before, to drive out of state on my own and eat, sleep and be alone. Sure, there were people around, I knew some, I was in a familiar place...restaurants and shops and trails were all the same, despite the 20 years that have passed. It reminded me of a lot of things that I hadn't thought of in years and also gave me this immense feeling that this was another beginning.

Wherever we are, we are always at the starting point of something. That is my point here. It hit me when things that seemed so old, seemed so new.  When I walked into that house on that country road last week and met my new friend, I was struck by the urge to be sure to listen to every single word from this woman who has really lived a life, and still (in her 70-th-something year of life) wants to create, inspire, take action and connect with the world and whoever is beside her. 




For the last month or so, I've woken up at 4:00 almost every morning. At first I would toss and turn, waiting out the few hours before the alarm, and then one morning, I found myself walking at 4:15 in the morning on the back shore. I must admit, it's a little creepy. 

Now I get up, have a cup of coffee and wait until five. Five is much more reasonable when it comes to the habits of others, driving to work, jogging (right by my semi-fast walking self), waiting in the drive through of Dunkin' Donuts for their mochachinno/half fat latte/large regulars. 

Since early Spring, I've been listening to podcasts while driving, a mixture of Tim Ferriss, The Side Hustle Show, Gretchen Rubin, and even some Loving on Purpose (Danny Silk).  There is something to be said about hearing how others are inspired, motivated, and work through their life, or even daily goals. 

Our family recently subscribed to Apple Music Family Plan, (because we are all music freaks) and we have unlimited access to any music genre or song we could each possible wish for, so I thought I had it made on my daily walks with so much entertainment.

One day, while blasting Beyonce at 5:30am on my walk along the back shore, I decided to switch over and see what was new in my podcast subscriptions. This was a day where I was still working the day job, building my side hustle, driving my children to their jobs, friends and sports, and dreaming of putting paint to paper again in my little home studio. I was wishing that I could sit still long enough to watch a movie in it's entirety and have a decent meal on the table every night for the kids, something that wasn't potstickers and a bowl of fruit, because I was always on the run. And I wanted to sleep a full night's sleep. 

It was a podcast from the Side Hustle Show, "212: Micro Habits: The Too-Small-to-Fail Plan for Big Results", that suddenly alleviated some of the confusion and struggle I had with getting everything done, the way I wanted to get it done, through each day. When something is important to me, I find I still have a time letting go of the things that really don't matter. 

I started thinking about micro-habits, wondering what I could start doing to enable focus and routine to each day. In the end, I found that I really have none other than brushing my teeth and making sure I always have a water bottle and a sweater with me wherever I go. When I do something, doing it for one minute, really isn't enough, so I bagged the micro-habit idea and decided to pick something that I would do every day, in the midst of my work and caring for my children. 

1) Walk every day. I keep reading about how healthy it is for us to take a 15 minute walk every day. I suppose this could be considered a micro habit, even though it is 15 of those one minutes. I discovered that if I walk an hour a day, I am happier. I am happier by listening to podcasts that inspire and educate me. I am happier because I feel I can have a piece of cake when I get home. I am happier because I moved, saw beauty and got some vitamin D and breathed the air.

2) Actually enjoy my coffee. I started drinking my coffee black last year. I thought it would be horrible. But now, I make sure I have time to sit and enjoy it, black. Yes, I enjoy it. I buy really high end beans. I grind them. I use filtered water. I have an expensive coffee machine. It is all worth it.

3) Write every day. Sometimes it is in an old journal, long hand. Sometimes it's a blog post. Sometimes it's a text or email to a family member or friend. Sometimes it's a grocery list.

4) Paint. My studio is such that I can walk up to it, put a brush and paint to the paper, and walk away again. I can do that for five minutes or for two hours. I make sure I do this at some point every day.

5) Dust my dashboard. Honestly. I drive so much. I didn't used to, but with teenagers who are busier than I ever was, I am in the car constantly, driving them to work, sports, friends' houses, to their dad's for the weekend. I keep a dust rag now in my console because somehow the cat hair from the house, ends up on my dashboard along with a boatload of dust. 

I could go on, but I am just trying to put something out there in the world to my friends who have read this far the friends who I always hear "I wish I had time for that" or "I always wanted to do that", or "my car is a mess"...I believe it when I hear it, and I am not pro, and right now there are some dead flies on my dashboard that I've been driving around with for two days. (because the beach was more important) I am determined to make things a bit more sane and fulfilling. I get to work from home now. I get to work with clients who choose me, and in theory, who I get to choose. I get to keep my laundry room a mess, but my car somewhat clean. It's all about what matters and making them a habit. 


How long has it been? (Before & After)

My home has been rearranged a bit, and has been over the years. What was once my small little studio, became my older daughter's room when it became apparent that two teenagers might benefit from having their own space. It certainly cut down on the screaming and throwing of pencils and lamps. 

The "back half" of my living room is once again being "re-organized" for art supply storage and painting. The problem has been, after working a day job and my side job (social media management and marketing for small businesses), I haven't picked up a brush in almost a year.

Sure, I've been posting photos, selling work, re-stocking retail shops with what I have on hand, but I haven't painted anything in almost a year. 

There is something wrong with that. 

As of a week ago, I have become 100% freelance. This is no longer a side gig for me. The world is open for all of the things I love to do, and today I am finishing the studio space, taking out some new 22x30 sheets of watercolor paper, sanding drift wood, and mixing colors. 

Above is the beginnings of a painting I completed in 2014. Shortly after, Shea's Riverside Inn & Motel in Essex, Ma, ( renovated their historic inn and purchased over a dozen paintings for their rooms. This one hangs in the beautiful bathroom of one of those rooms.