Monday, July 23, 2012


As I've said before, there are five of us, plus two cats, living in a small house. When we were house hunting, we wanted something small but with the requirement of one extra space for my art room. The "one extra room" we found is a long skinny room with lots of light, and as an artist, I have a lot of stuff to cram in there: acrylic paint, oil paint, watercolors, soft pastels, oil pastels, graphite sticks, brushes, papers, boards, easels, get the idea. The tricky part is storing it all in the small space in a way that keeps kids out of it, and making it clear enough to actually enjoy being in there! To make this space livable, there is a constant cycle of cluttering and cleaning. I purge the room (and the house!) fairly often, but this time, more was needed. My art room needed a renewal, just as my art and my outlook has been renewed. I took out curtains, junk, and reorganized to make it brighter, fresher and CLEANER. The good news for those interested in exploring pastels and fearful of what I half-jokingly call "pastel lung," is that there was remarkably little pastel dust after 5 years of not wiping my window sills and top molding (gross, I know...sorry!). So, ta-da! I'm ready to work, the room as cleared out as its going to get.
I even cleaned off the kids' art area. My trusty sidekicks got right to work messing it up, as expected. But what else is an art room for, if not to get messy?!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Hay Bale, Graphite Sketch...My husband and I have a ritual; it helps us decompress after our busy days, and is a routine time to relax and enjoy being together. Each night once the kids are tucked in bed, we sit on the couch, each with a glass of milk and two freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, to watch one of our recorded shows. Last night we watched the Next Food Network Star. Each Star hopeful must have a "POV," a "Point of View" that would make their own Food Network show unique. Two weeks of my daily drawings are now complete, and over morning coffee, I reflected upon my "POV" own point of view around which my art revolves. I know art doesn't have to have a "point" or a "meaning," that it can be art for art's sake, but my organized self loves to have everything in its place, categorized and grouped. I want my art to fit together and have a meaning, a purpose, a POV. When I reflect upon my daily drawings, I see the common thread of my own human experience: family, relationships, love, warmth, what surrounds me in my place, what is important to me in my life. Linking the theme of my sketches with my current pastels and paintings, my POV emerges as, in my husband's words, "Southern eclectic": a mixture of rural and city, objects and figures, past and present...the story of my place. I find warmth, family, richness and beauty in the South, in its porches and fields, its trees and marshes, its people and history, its rust and wood. A representation of the story of humanity, the South is a tightly woven tapestry of good and bad, hospitality and hatred, comfort and pain, smiles and sorrow. Despite its dark threads, my South triumphs with beauty, with color, with life, with strength; in my place and through my art, I hope to reveal and foster greater peace, honest love, and a warm, genuine reality of Southern hospitality, a welcoming with open arms.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Daddy's Home

Daddy's Home, graphite sketch...Today's big event is that "Daddy is home!" My kids have been counting down to this day all week. Just as my dad did for my sister and I when he travelled, my husband always brings our kids a "prize." This week he was in rural Alabama, not a place very conducive to buying souvenirs, but he nonetheless came home with some very interesting treasures! Cue the knitted Spiderman finger puppet made in Ecuador. It makes me laugh (it's so odd!), and it made our son very excited. So here's a fuzzy little Spidey: a celebration of homecoming, family and the funny things in life!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Homage to Degas

Nora, 3 months, Graphite Sketch...Today is the birthday of Edgar Degas, the French Impressionist famous for his figures of ballerinas, bathers, and other turn-of-the-century subjects. He also happens to be my favorite artist and major influence on my own art. I especially love Degas' pastels...the vibrant contrasts, the intense markings, the vivid colors. His preparatory sketches are often a combination of strong, dark shadows mixed with precise, yet loose, lines. I like to study his work and absorb what I can into my own way of seeing color and interpreting subjects. In homage to Degas, I chose a figure drawing for my daily sketch, drawing my sleeping baby girl (who was a bit squirmier than I expected, once drawing commenced!) I used my darkest pencil, marking in the shadows, contemplating the art of Degas as I recorded this day in my baby's young life.
The Tub, Edgar Degas, Pastel
Two Dancers Resting, Edgar Degas

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Prosperity, Graphite Sketch...The glass Maori fish hook hangs on the wall adjacent our front door. A gift from dear friends, brought from New Zealand, the stylized hook symbolizes Prosperity: a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition; good fortune. Images of my life swirl in my mind's eye...the colors are warm, the faces friendly, the love palpable. I sit in prosperity, a flourishing, thriving condition. I haven't always been here; I've visited some hopeless places on my journey to this warm, vibrant reality. I know hard times will come again. But the prosperity I am living cannot be taken from me, because it is not a thing, nor a person, but experience. This prosperity is a thriving condition that cannot be held. My good fortune is that life brings second chances, that intentional choices towards the good are often rewarded, that I am surrounded by love in my family and friends, that I am a part of this world with all its joy and its faults.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Waste Not

Waste Not, graphite sketch... "Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in an eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake." -Sir Francis Bacon. Somehow I came across this quote last night and it was on my mind in the morning as I contemplated the subject of my drawing. I thought of my children's hands, small and smooth and dimpled; about their lives which are just beginning, that are flying by in what seems an instant. I thought of holding my husband's hand, and how we have taken successful risks in our ten years together, doing what we love and building our family with intention. With those small hands incapable of holding still long enough, and my husband's out of reach, I looked at my own hand. I thought of my own life, my own sparkling star, my own melting snowflake, and I am grateful for today. I will try not to waste it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Watching the Clock

Watching the Clock, Graphite Sketch...Today is one of those days. Tightly scheduled, I have to get up and go: a certain amount of time here, get home by then, meet my mom for the childcare trade off, out the door with a hamburger, make it there on time, zip by the store, back in time for baby, dinner is approaching, bedtime right behind. My creativity is sapped, my energy depleting, all I can draw today is a clock. It looks like something I would've drawn in high school art class, but the image of my bedside clock usurped all others. Like Alice's White Rabbit, I've been watching the clock and running all day. Time can rule our life, can slip through our fingers, can wear us down with its rhythmic ticking. Time to take a deep pause and breathe in the moment, exhale the stress that schedule imposed; remember that life is for living, and seeing and being, not just leaping from one place to the next in a busy blur.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home, Graphite Sketch...As I lay in bed last night, snuggled in and ready to sleep, I thought about what I would draw in the morning: What do I feel like? What comes first to mind? The answers were simple: I feel content, happy and grateful; safe and warm. I am thinking of my family, my home, everyone asleep and together as we should be. We've lived another day, done the things we had to do, and here we are, at rest, at peace, back home together. We work, we do laundry, we cook, eat and clean; but what matters most to me is when all that is done and we are at rest together. There's no place like home.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Favorite Things

Favorite Things, Graphite Sketch...Saturday morning, time for moving slowly, staying in pjs, watching cartoons, and drinking an un-rushed cup of coffee. I had more time for a morning sketch today, so I sat for awhile thinking about the essence of our Saturday mornings. As I watched my pajama-clad children playing, a conversation from yesterday about childhood comforts drifted into my mind. My children all have a "favorite thing," even my infant. The three well-loved objects speak of cozy comfort, of security and warmth. They snuggle them in sleeping, they hold them in sadness, they carry them in play. So here are "Uni," "Babo" and my baby girl's lovey. Just looking at them fills me with comfort and love...

Friday, July 13, 2012


Celebrate, Ink Sketch...Today is my tenth wedding anniversary, so for my daily sketch I was drawn to a big bowl of corks sitting in our kitchen, reminders of celebrations past. Some corks are from New Year's, some from anniversaries, some from dinners with friends. A few are from those nights when the day had been hard, when money was tight, or stresses were high; when my husband and I would thumb our nose at hard times and celebrate life with some cheap champagne. We have much to celebrate, in good times and in bad. Dave Matthews' "Two Step" plays in my mind, "Celebrate we will, Because life is short but sweet for certain..."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Good Things

Good Things, Ink Sketch...Sitting at the desk in our room is a collection of "good things": old books from my grandparents' house, a brass key from Romania, a piece of pottery made by my husband filled with Iona marble from Scotland, a Byzantine coin framed in a brass assortment of curious objects, a unique collection, simple objects that make me happy. I love collections. My family and I aspire to live more simply, with a small home consistently purged of excess. Still having too much, we try to keep taking steps in the direction of less. I find the words of William Morris drift to mind, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." This sketch shows a small collection of things I believe to be beautiful; beautiful for the meanings they hold in my mind, for their age, for their history, for the memories. (The perfectionist in me is having a hard time with these sketches. I'm drawing with only a pen, so the pictures show every mark I make, whether I like them or not! )

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pizza Break

Pizza Break, Ink Sketch...Here are a few things about me: I try hard to eat healthy food and to feed my children well-balanced meals. I buy organic products when I can. In a small effort to "save the planet," I always use "real plates" to eat on, and we use fabric napkins. I have three kids and a pretty demanding job, along with being an artist. I try to keep my house tidy, my family happy, and all my neat little ducks in a row. I try to go an extra step, do a little more...but sometimes, you have to know when to give yourself a break. To order a pizza with no vegetables and eat on paper plates. Today was that sort of day; tonight, that sort of night. I woke up this morning with just enough time to get ready and out the door with my three side-kicks in time for a morning sketch. Part of this "artistic endeavor" is to be realistic about my place in life at this moment in time...and sticking to my own rules to the detriment of my sanity is something I can do without! So pizza night it was, and evening drawing it is!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quiet House

Quiet House, Ink Sketch... On the third day of my "morning sketches," it is really hard to wake up. This morning my alarm was a hungry baby, and my house was softly lit with the morning light, cool, cozy and silent, except for the soft hum of a fan. I almost retreated back into my piles of blankets and pillows and caved for a little more sleep. Willpower won out, be it groggily, and I climbed out of bed and fumbled into a chair at my grandmother's sewing desk. This morning's drawing shows the only other somewhat-awake being in the house, my cat George. His own sleep disturbed by my clumsy movements, he stared at me awhile, an expression of sleepy questions as he stay nestled among the puffs and folds of my small down blanket. As I drew my layers of warm coverings (stubbornly odd, I know, in the 100 degree Alabama summer heat) and pillow, still with a sunken spot from where I rested just minutes earlier, I really wanted to put down my pen and go back to sleep. But it never hurts to push on, to give a bit more effort. And to drink some strong coffee.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dancing in Clover

Dancing in clover, Ink sketch... My older kids in bed, last night I found myself alone in my quiet den with my baby girl, the songs of Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong filling the space. With her soft cheek and baby's breath on my face, I swayed to the music, flooded with love and gratitude for what matters most in my life. I remember seven years ago, dancing close to my husband, he dressed in a tux and I in a cranberry tea dress barely fitting over my pregnant stomach...happy and in love. I remember holding my first baby girl, dancing in my Georgia home, amazed that anything so beautiful could exist, baffled that I played such a part in her existence. Several years later, dancing gently to Etta James with my tiny son, desperately in love, my heart bursting and happy tears flowing as he grinned, so small and new. And last night, there I was again, holding an amazing gift, an unexpected joy, thinking of the immensity of love that encompasses my life. And I am heart is wrapped in clover.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back in the Game

"Tree of Life," Ink sketch All wrapped up close together in our little house, we've added a fifth person to our family. My sweet baby is just now old enough for me to steal some time away, to turn my thoughts, for at least a few moments, inward to the world of art. When I look inside and peruse my creative thoughts, I see a very different world. With so much time passed between my last stream of art and today, my life has changed. The birth of a child, the growth of a life, the changing tides of my life to a brighter, stronger place...what images stir within me, waiting to be formed with pen, pastel, paint and paper? It's time for a renewal, to reinvent once again. I find an eager peace in the cycle of my art, that over the past few years I have come to recognize-high times and low times, ever-changing, twisting and turning to the creation of something new. I'm starting slow, with my small bits of time. Searching for what lies within, to see what will surprise me when I use my hands and let my broken, unplanned thoughts take shape. Thanks to a friend and art colleague's recent art, Sunny Carvalho's morning drawings, I'm beginning my renewed journey with "Morning Sketches." Each morning for two weeks I plan to draw whatever comes to the forefront of my mind-no concrete plans, no restrictions-just to see where it leads me. And if this endeavor does not lead me to a new starting place, it still leads me to further exploration of this new, complex and wonderful phase of my life.