Saturday, December 28, 2013

Year End Review #7 or Life is beautiful

I hope you all had a Happy Holiday and I hope your New Year will be bright and full of promise. It's that time again, time for my art year end review. I just realized this will be my seventh year end review! For seven years now, I have written about art almost every Friday. I am so grateful that I started this practice as it has absolutely transformed my life in almost every way imaginable and has been a trusted constant in this life of twists, turns, fits and starts. I am grateful to you if you have been reading along for all these years or if you just discovered my blog today. Thanks for tuning in. Okay, let's get to it. What happened in 2013...

January 2013 found me with a much needed temporary cubicle job:

"So, here I am trying to be a square peg in a round hole of society at work dreaming "if I could sell just my hourly rate of pay times my hours in art each week routinely and sometimes more so I could quit the job." Thinking, "I just need to get back in the right galleries, get a studio out of my house again, or just leave the region and go wherever so that I can do what I need to do to live my life how it is meant to be lived." I have already made so many choices to make my living affordable and my life as an artist manageable but yet in this economy it wasn't enough and now I have this job. "It's only temporary I say to myself. It won't last forever. Just a little while longer." 

Stewart returned to Arkansas for his 4th visit in January 2013. Excitedly my funded project to return to Scotland also started to take shape:

"I bought my plane tickets to Scotland this week as I will be going there in mid March through mid September to work on a series of new works for the my ghosts of the past exposed project funded through USA Projects. I am very excited about it however, buying plane tickets still makes me incredibly nervous. I don't know if spending large amounts of money or the act of air travel will ever come easy for me, but I am glad to have the first step in the process of my project completed! In other big and exciting news Stewart Bremner arrived in Arkansas this week!"

After a miserable time of constant sickness related to my work environment, I gave my notice to my job and had these thoughts...

"I am an artist. I have dreams and ideas and these things have to be expressed and when they are not it builds up in my heart and soul and creates a very uncomfortable situation. To be an artist is more important than money or success it is a need like breathing and like the beating of my heart. This is serious business and I can't ignore it or pretend it can ever be compartmentalized or made to fit societies rules and regulations."

Once free of my job and with my project and departure date to Scotland fast approaching, I turned to my research in preparation. It was an exciting and obsessive time and continued through out the year. My thoughts at the beginning of the process...

"The people I have learned about have been the persecuted and the persecutors in familial lines wrapping around each other. Ultimately at the beginning of all these stories there is a boat that takes these people from their homes to this new world that they will fight and die for, all so that I can exist years later to travel back to where they started and make art for their ghosts. If this is just the beginning I can't imagine what it will feel like once the actual work starts.This is an American story, this is a Southern story and this is an immigrant's story and one that belongs to most of us."

I also finished up some paintings during this time, enjoyed Stewart's visit, celebrated my 41st birthday and learned the sad news that my dear sister in law Julie's cancer was terminal. It felt like the wrong time to leave my family and I was worried about leaving my sweet old cat Evie behind for so long. However, it was apparent that the project must go on and as I dealt with sadness and nerves, I also tied up loose ends, made arrangements and said goodbye to my friends and family and got ready to be gone for what I thought would be six months. In mid March the adventure began... 

"After a crazy week of sad goodbyes, last minute errands, the last minute subletting of my house and of course last minute packing, I finally arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland on Thursday morning around sunrise after being on three different planes and traveling over 4,000 miles. The trip was smooth, all flights were early, airports easily managed and the weather clear. The last flight was a bit more bumpy in spots than I enjoy but ultimately it was fine.

The taxi from the airport sped along the cobbled streets taking a rather circuitous route due to the ever lasting tram works that Edinburgh has apparently been experiencing for years. As we made our way home, the city felt familiar to me almost as if I hadn't left it at all."

Once in Edinburgh, I enjoyed getting settled in with Stewart at his flat, coming to terms with jet lag and the scope of the project that lay before me. It was an exciting time full of possibilities. Could I pull it all off? Could I do what I intended and how would the project change as I did, as I slipped from just being a tourist to feeling more like I was living in a second home, one full of cultural opportunities, with lovely friends and new acquaintances to meet and so many new things to see and discover. What an exciting time, everything was before me thanks to all the donors to my project. I had been given an outrageous gift of time and exploration, it felt like magic.

"It is amazing at times when I find myself far from Stewart's flat, alone in the bustling city walking to meet a friend or stopping on a bridge to take a photograph or just realizing that I am in fact in Scotland. I never thought this could ever be my life. I mean we are talking about someone who was afraid to drive a couple of miles to the Northwest Arkansas Mall and go shopping alone just a few years ago..."

After four weeks in Edinburgh, In mid April I signed a lease on a studio so that I could get started on my project. It was a brilliant moment in time. 

 "My studio has two south facing windows filled with an amazing view of Arthur's Seat. The complex has 200 artists working there and 3 galleries, a lending library and a swap shop. It is my kind of place. We walked home from the space so I could familiarize myself with the walking route, I think I floated home. I smiled the whole time and there were even a few tears. I have been heartbroken ever since I lost my studio space a year and a half ago and have found it terribly hard to work and focus on the bigger picture. Having a studio is like having a home for my dreams and a place to put them into action. I have felt homeless without a studio environment. Knowing now that I have this space to work and dream in is like having a missing puzzle piece found and locked into position and now I am whole again. I am really excited and again so grateful for this opportunity."

Also in April it was confirmed that Stewart Bremner and I would be having a two person show in Greater Manchester, England.  I was so excited to have this additional opportunity to show my newest project based works.

"This week was very exciting in the art front! I am thrilled to report that we just received confirmation from the director and curator of Cross Street Arts that Stewart Bremner and I will be having a two person exhibition in Manchester, England in mid May! This is a huge and wonderful opportunity for us both and we are very grateful for it. I have pretty clear vision of what I want to do, I will just have to see if I can pull it off..."

Besides painting and enjoying my new favorite pub The Tourmalet I was also walking many miles each week and enjoying exploring the city often by bus. I was going to two yoga classes in Edinburgh and really getting such benefit from not only the classes but just the act of getting myself there as evidenced by this passage.

"I like taking the bus to and from one of the yoga classes I am signed up for. I don't listen to music or read a book or anything. I just sit and look out the window, breathe and watch my thoughts go by. I look out at the people walking, I look at the statues and ornate buildings. I look at the castle and the church yard. I look at the people getting on and off the bus. I just sit and observe and usually I feel myself fill with gratitude. I am far from home and I am alone on a bus. I am on my way to or from a yoga class full of strangers at a place I have never been until recently. I don't know the names of the streets as they pass. I am not scared, I am not agitated, I am not concerned. I am just sitting on the bus watching this beautiful world pass and being part of it at the same time. This is my greatest accomplishment."

May was a sad month as my sister in law Julie died the day before I got the keys to my studio at the Arts Complex. It was hard to be away from my brother Ben and my nieces Emily and Elena as well as the rest of my family. I tried to honor Julie's life by saying yes to all opportunities that came my way in Edinburgh. Julie said yes to life more often than not and I wanted to do the same even though it is not always my natural inclination. So while it was a sad time it was also a thrilling time as I moved into my studio and got to the know the hill top view through my windows and begin the work I had come to Scotland to do.

"Things have been a bit fevered as I finish up a ten piece body of work for "Through time and distance"  opening a week from today in Manchester, England at Cross Street ArtsStewart and I are very excited about the exhibition and are pleased that we are able to be present at the reception and that we are giving an art talk the Saturday after the opening. I am looking forward to being on a train again! "

At the same time I had Stewart and I had work in an exhibition in Arkansas.

"Closer to my Arkansas home is an exciting exhibition opening tomorrow night at Boswell-Mourot Fine Art. Stewart and I will also have our works in this group show. If you are in and around Little Rock, Arkansas tomorrow night please make plans to attend."

The exhibition in Greater Manchester was a very memorable moment in 2013.

"The crowd on opening night was phenomenal, with an easy and gentle start to a sudden packed house. The folks in attendance were lovely, making sure to come up and introduce themselves and talk to us about our works. We had the old and young, a collection of artists, hipsters and even some movers and shakers from the Manchester and surrounding art worlds. Everyone seemed interested in the work and in us and we had great and involved conversations. It felt so perfect and I think I smiled all night long. Everyone was so genuine and so appreciative of the work and of us being there in their town. I honestly don't think the opening could have gone any better or been more enjoyable."

After the burst of preparing for the England exhibition, there was a lull, time to reflect on what I had been given.

"This time here is such a gift. I get to try on a city for a while, try on new habits, new friendships, basically a new life. I don't have a phone, a car or a clothes dryer. I have about a drawers worth of clothes and few possessions to call my own and I like this. I have been given permission to live this life for 6 months, make art and tell the world about my experience. It is such a rare treat. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by what a gift this is and so unbelievably happy that this is currently my life. Sometimes, I am just sad to know that it will end in September. This is a one off experience and because of this it is so important for me to stay in the now and enjoy each moment."

After working on the first ten large pieces for the exhibition in England, I turned my attention to creating thirty-nine smaller Etsy pieces and participated in an Art Market with Stewart while also taking time to enjoy the city, walking on trails, going to yoga and refueling before returning my attention to my project.

"It is obvious I am feeling at home here. I have sat on the sidewalk in a back alley and read a magazine. I have sat upstairs on the bus by myself. I have walked home alone with a gentle buzz from an lunchtime beer and walked at the speed of the locals. I don't want to leave. I have created a nice little life here and made some brilliant friends and am getting to know them better all the time. I like who I am here and am getting to know myself better all the time too."

I then turned my attention to my project rewards perks for all the lovely patrons of my project who opted in for such a reward. I enjoyed designing and typing up letters, selecting photos to have printed for them, writing postcards, and painting twenty-four small works. It was a very productive time and yet also tinged with sadness as I learned that my sweet old kitty Evie had died in Arkansas. Soon afterwards there was a trip to the Highlands to mend and stir my soul.

"Monday's visit to the Highlands was amazing and really that word is too quaint to describe it. The mountains told me secrets and let me see the art that will be in my future without even trying. The mountains showed me the work and presented it plainly as something that could be accomplished with ease and I believe them. From a glass windowed bus I listened as they spoke and my camera did it's best to capture a 10th of their magic."

I was falling in love with Scotland more than I thought I could. Whether in the city at a chippy or in the Highlands or out for a day trip to the beach or to a friend's house, it was all so damn gorgeous to me.

"My memory of the day is a swirl of the following: the perfect light, flowing fields, a new garden stocked with sprouting veggies, flowers, big skies, clean air, white laundry on the line blowing in the wind. All of this creating a beautiful picture of rustic bliss in the Scottish Countryside. Wild and free yet with it's own distinct brand of domesticity; I could have stayed there forever..."

Time seemed to speed up somewhere in July and I tried to stay in the now and keep my eye on the prize and complete my project. I was able to participate in a beautifully curated group show at the Art's Complex and showed two of my large pieces.

"I will start with this. I am so proud to be part of an amazing group of accomplished and talented artists from the Art's complex. The Art's Complex Summer Show is one of the most impressive and well put together group shows I have had the privilege to participate in. Congratulations to all the artists and organizers of the show. I am so pleased that two of the works I created in my studio at the Arts Complex are in this beautiful exhibition. The three massive galleries are spacious, light filled and grand. Just a lovely place for showing work. All the work looked great in the space and had plenty of room to breathe. I was impressed with everything I saw there- such a strong, powerful and varied exhibition."

And then it happened, I secured a gorgeous light filled space to have my solo exhibition for my Ghosts of the Past Exposed series of works and I created another ten pieces for a total of twenty works. I had pulled it off, my project was almost complete and thanks to the kindness of so many I was able to accomplish what I had come to Scotland to do.

"In other exciting news, I have confirmed my solo exhibition at the Abbey Mount Centre in Edinburgh. The exhibition of my Ghosts of the past series will open on August 15th from 6-8pm. It is free and open to the public. I hope the good folks of Edinburgh will make plans to attend. The exhibition will also be open on the following three Saturdays in August after the reception from 2-4pm and I will be present to talk and discuss my work. Come say hello!"

I was impossibility busy at this time. All the while I was painting, I was still researching and trying to learn more about my family. I was in touch with distant cousins who were so kind to send me information that they had on the family. I was also able to take another research trip to the Highlands. What a heady time.

"The week started with a very full-tilt painting session on Tuesday and then an overwhelmingly beautiful trip to the Highlands on Wednesday and again today I have been painting in the studio. Racing towards the deadline of my solo exhibition on August 15th at the Abbey Mount Centre in Edinburgh and I am still exhausted from the beautiful highlands and thanking my lucky stars for it all."

Opening night arrived. The culmination of 6 months of hard work and adventure.

"Last night was the opening of my ghosts of the past exposed exhibition at the Abbey Mount Centre in Edinburgh. It was a lovely evening full of smiling faces and delightful stories and conversations. It was an honor to share my work of the last 6 months with my lovely friends and patrons in Edinburgh.The work fits the space well and I feel really good about the show."

After my show was up, I started moving out of my studio and forced myself to declare that I was on holiday for the remaining weeks in Edinburgh. I saw the sites with Stewart, enjoyed the festival and connecting with friends and taking stock of what I had just done. It was a lovely time.

"Thursday, the Haar came to visit. Haar is the Scottish word for fog or sea mist that comes in and blankets the city. It was so beautiful, so we went to Holyrood park and up into the hills shrouded in the mist. It was spectacular, just when I thought I couldn't love this city more, I do. One of the most beautiful walks I have ever taken. Just breathtaking.

And that leaves today, which was another winner- after a productive morning of cleaning the flat and organizing receipts and papers, we had a fantastic night. We walked through the fringe madness to get our tickets at the box office for this evening's performance of "Whatever gets you through the night." Then we grabbed a take away curry from the Mosque Kitchen and ate it in the park. Afterwards we headed on over to the venue, The Queen's Hall and found our seats and were treated to a brilliant award winning theatre performance that combined stunning visuals, live music and great acting that made me laugh, cry and feel very much more aliveAfterwards we walked home through the city in the warm night air, stopping for ice cream and ended the night at the Tourmalet, where all is golden and where we were greeted by the smiling faces of our favorite bartendresses yet again."

I tried to stay in the now as I knew my time was winding down and it was hard. I felt fundamentally changed and so grateful for everything.

"I love it here. I love who I am here. I love what I can do and see here. I love how I am understood and supported here. I love how the wind feels on my face here and the colors in the shrubs and the sky. I love the women's voices as they talk on the bus. I love the "Hiya!" from the bartendress when I walk into the Tourmalet to get a drink. I love the stacked and layered buildings, the cobbles and knowing that the sea is near."

I took the most beautiful walk of my life in Scotland and that seems worth noting.

"We took the best 16 mile walk ever. We walked along fields and beaches from Longniddry to North Berwick, Scotland. I took a lot of pictures of this gorgeous day, all inspiration for the work I hope to make in the fall for my Etsy shop. I loved the colors in this walk and the feeling. I am so glad we did this walk as I needed to clear my head- that part didn't exactly work but it was still so beautiful and it was so great to spend such quality time with Stewart in nature. Breathtaking. After my work has been so family based I am flirting with a nature based series and this walk really did provide so much material and inspiration..."

I saw friends, visited all the essential places and celebrated Stewart's 40th birthday. Soon I would be leaving but thanks to Stewart's friend James there was time for one more adventure/research trip. One more Campbell Castle and beautiful place to visit.

"The Campbell castle was amazing, the waterfalls and lush gorges were perfect and the hill tops and views and sitting in the sunshine was all fantastic. I will hold this day in my heart for a long time and again it will serve as inspiration for my work this autumn."

Six months was up...

"I mostly packed, cried and waited. I also shipped my 19 paintings back to the states and afterwards we went to the Tourmalet for a farewell coke and some onion rings where I was just too sad and cried on the bartendress Angie's shoulder and left without saying goodbye because I was too choked up to speak. 

It was very hard to say goodbye to Stewart and to Scotland. I just had to keep moving, one step in front of the other and turn the corner and then just jump into the system of travel and stay in the now."

I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia to spend eight weeks with my brother Ben and visit with my nieces Emily and Elena and the art exhibitions continued.

"I want to let you know about a special group exhibition called Abstact ARt that opens tonight, Friday September 13th from 5-8pm at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. I am thrilled to be part of this group of accomplished Arkansas abstract artists. The group includes artists Dustyn Bork, myself, Donnie Copeland, Don Lee, Jill Storthz, and Steven Wise." 

The two months in Atlanta were a good way to ease back into being in the states and it was good to be around my family. I also got to meet my Mom's friends from back in day who were both supporters of my project. I also had the time with Stewart's help to get some archival prints based on my ghost series made for my Etsy shop, have new business cards designed and update my website. I also started a series of small abstract landscapes inspiring by my time in Scotland during this time.There was more family research and my brother Sean came to visit as well.

"I am also thankful for this time in Atlanta. It has been wonderful to have this contemplative visit and to have some of my basic needs also provided for me by my brother Ben. This visit has also allowed me to get to know my nieces and oldest brother even better and in a different way. I am grateful for my family."

I then hitched a ride with an artist back to Arkansas.

"I must start off this post with a huge thank you to my dear friend and fellow artist Craig Colorusso for letting me hitch a ride on the way back home from his southern leg of a Sun Boxes/Cubemusic tour. Artists helping artists is what it is all about and I am thankful to have such a friend."

Once back home in Arkansas, I holed up and tried to figure out what to do and how to survive here again. It was a tricky time if I am honest. I had been away from home for 8 months, I was broke and didn't know where I really fit in. I turned to organizing things, trying to lower all my monthly bills and live even more frugally if that was possible. I also turned to art and created 37 new small works for holiday gift giving in my Etsy shop. I visited with friends and family and settled into my little life here in Fayetteville. Then, I got an early Christmas present. Stewart Bremner was coming for the holidays! We hadn't seen each other in 3 months! I was delighted.

Stewart arrived and we decorated the house and had a lovely time. Not only is Stewart a brilliant graphic designer and artist but he can make a mean paper snowflake!

So that has been my 2013. I created one hundred and twenty-five new pieces of art, a line of archival prints, I kept 2 blogs for the majority of year (one being project based for subscribers), had new business cards created, website redesigned (Thanks Stewart for your brilliance with the prints, cards and site). Thanks to my successfully funded project and my supporters and patrons I had a studio in Scotland for 4 months while I lived there for 6. I was in 2 solo exhibitions in the UK and was in 5 group exhibitions in 2013 as well. I also walked over 500 miles in Scotland and practiced hours of yoga. I enjoyed Atlanta and my family and learned a hell of a lot about myself in 2013. Thanks to everyone who has supported me this year. I couldn't have done this without you. 

This year sounds like it was amazing but it wasn't always easy and at the end of 2013 death visited again and this time took my dear friend Craig Earl Nelson, a brilliant photographer and a treasured and unique soul. Craig your art will live on and your kind heart and wonderful laugh and voice will not be forgotten. I am so grateful we crossed paths.

In closing from a previous post...

"Everything is a journey and process. Life is mysterious and very messy. The years that have been filled with bravery and adventure can be the same years that are filled with poverty and loss. Creativity can flourish while social circles dwindle and during the worst depression the biggest recovery can also occur. Just when one thinks everything is falling apart something miraculous might also happen. This artist's life is a roller coaster, a feast and famine, at once celebrated by patrons and peers or left lost and alone. And I wouldn't trade it for anything."

With love and gratitude, 


Friday, December 20, 2013

Sparkle, sparkle

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays are here...
Busy, busy!!! The lovely Stewart Bremner arrived last Friday night and we have been enjoying each other's company and going out and about exploring the town some. I have also been shipping out last minute orders and meeting with patrons shopping for last minute gifts as well.

The Christmas tree is up and there are snowflakes hung in the window and we are settling in for a lovely holiday. I hope you are too.

There is still time to get your order in at my Etsy shop for the holidays or if you are local to Northwest Arkansas you can always make arrangements to come by my studio to look at my available small works for those on your list. Also if you know someone enjoys my work but you aren't sure which piece to choose, my shop also takes Etsy gift cards so you can't make a mistake!

More soon! Wishing you and yours a very merry season.



Friday, December 13, 2013

Lucky Friday the 13th

Stewart Bremner arrives today and I can't wait to see his face! This has been a long 3 months! While waiting for him to arrive I have just been busy painting and working on some projects and tidying up my house. There are always a lot of projects that suddenly need finishing before the end of the new year. This year has just flown by, probably since 8 months of it were spent away. I am amazed that this year Stewart and will have been able to have spent 8 months and 3 weeks together this calendar year. Being artists of a certain income and lifestyle that seems nothing short of a miracle and of course my funded project was a huge part of my ability to pull this all off. I will be forever grateful for the gifts and support I have been given this year.

Thanks for stopping by! Now, I better get this house cleaned up, stop making art for a minute and get ready to go pick up Stewart from the airport! Yay!

While I do that, please visit my Etsy shop and buy some art.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Say it with art...

orders ready to ship


Thanks for joining me again. I can't believe it is already the first Friday of December! I have been very busy making new works and keeping up with my Etsy shop, facebook, twitter and email promotions and getting new orders filled and out the door. The sales have been so lovely and much needed. Thanks to those of you who have purchased something of mine recently. It has been such a boost to me mentally as well as financially. I love hearing from people during and after the transaction as well. Making art is a lonely job but sharing it with you all makes it just wonderful.

Besides making new pieces, selling them and just getting things organized around the house and getting back to my "normal" life in Fayetteville, I am very excited that Stewart Bremner will be coming to visit me soon for three weeks! He arrives next Friday! We have been a part for 3 months so this will be quite wonderful. You never know we might make some art, have a little meet and greet reception at the house or just hide away. It will be our first Christmas in the same place together. It is all very exciting. I wasn't really expecting that he would be able to visit so soon, so I really am thrilled.

The ground is all white and covered with snow and everything is feeling very wintery. I am so glad I got all those orders posted when I did. Rest assured there is still plenty of time to get your holiday orders in so that I can get them shipped in time for you. Please don't delay and give the gift that not only helps me survive and continue on this path but also shows your very special one exactly how special they are. This year, say it with art.

Until next time, play some holiday songs, make some potato soup, drink too much tea and smile, knowing you are alive.



buy this

buy this

buy this
buy this

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The hills are alive with the sound of makers...


Thanks for joining me again this week. I was really moved by some of the personal responses I got from last week's blog. I appreciate those who took the time to write to me off site and told me of their stories, old and new. I wish you all luck in your future dreams and goals. I have faith in you, now onwards!

Back to the matters at hand, as we all know the festive season is upon us. I can practically hear the sounds of all the makers around the world furiously at work getting prepared for their lovely art and crafts to end up on your holiday shopping lists! I am no exception. I have been hard at work creating new paintings and ordering more archival prints in order to get my Etsy shop stocked.

I enjoy this time of year. I think of myself as connected to all the other makers as we put our heads down and create some special and unique items for you and yours. I'll say it plainly, your support of the arts is what keeps the arts vital and strong in your communities. Makers live a precarious balance most of the time and we have accepted this feast or famine lifestyle. The holiday months are a way for us to catch up for the slow times and get our books back in the black. The dollars you spend when you support makers and small independent businesses mostly stay within your community and have a huge impact on the lives of those doing the making. Sometimes just one small sale can pay a utility bill, buy supplies, food and shelter. When a maker has those things then they can keep making. It is that simple. If you love living in communities that celebrate and support the arts then you have to vote with your dollars and support those that make your community a vibrant and exciting one.

I am not just asking you to buy my work, I am asking you to buy hers, his and theirs too. Visit Etsy, visit the local craft fairs, makers markets, holiday bazaars and independent shops and galleries. Shop local, shop regional, shop nationally and shop the independent makers from all over the world but know that you are buying something created by someone with a name, a face, a dream. You are buying from someone who dances every time they make a sale. Be that person's hero so that they will keep on the path, live the life of their dreams and continue to shine their own special brand of light and vision onto the world and into your community.

Let's all have a joyous season of handmade.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Change your story, change your life...

Hello! Thanks for joining me this lovely grey autumnal Friday.

This week has been one of organization and getting things done slowly but surely. I pretty much have my house in order after being away for eight months and that is a very good thing. A sense of normalcy is returning.

I also have been going through my household budget and expenses with a fine toothed comb and trying to make it so I won't wind up in a call centre again this winter. I am calling it "operation dollar from a dime" and so far it is going pretty well. I have reduced my expenses for my mobile phone, my Internet, car insurance, lowered my interest rate on my credit card for the next 6 months and levelized both my gas and electricity bills so I can know what to expect. I am still trying to figure out my health insurance (such a luxury for a self employed worker). I am hoping that thanks to Obamacare it will be even less than what I am paying now, so that would be another welcomed reduction. This week, I also remembered what bargains and good quality foods can be found at ALDI as well, if only they sold tofu and vegan cheeze I wouldn't have to shop anywhere else!

I know this is an art blog and that is what you come here for but as an artist on a budget and someone who is "living the dream," I think it is important to tell the truth about the process and share what is working and what is not.

In more properly art related news, I did manage to get my art supplies out and around and have got my home studio up and running again. It was a good feeling to see all my pencils, pieces of charcoal and tubes of paint, especially after working with such a spare studio set up in Edinburgh and Atlanta.

This week I started seven new small works for the holiday season (there will be more...). It was lovely to see my old atlas again and to pull out some maps from Scotland as well. I got my hello kitty sewing machine out again and it's threaded and ready to roll. I ordered some supplies from this week and popped by one of my local art supply stores as well for some paint (trying to shop local as much as I can).

On a side note, I did a little exercise earlier today. I call it "gathering the evidence" and this concept has popped up here and there in my blog in the past. Sometimes we get ideas about ourselves or we cling to stories we have told ourselves and others over and over again. Sometimes these stories are no longer true and we just need to let go and get a new script. I found myself in that situation and the story I was clinging to was making me very unhappy. It was obviously time to gather the evidence and prove myself wrong about these mistaken beliefs I was holding on to. I gathered a long list that backed up a new healthier story, read it to myself once and sent it to a trusted friend. It was quite affirming.

To quote Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living." I agree and how we use the evidence of our examination can be quite life changing.

This week I will leave you with a couple of things to think about. Are you struggling financially as an artist or longing to quit your day job or trying not pick up a second job to stay afloat? What are you doing to cut your expenses and save money so you can live the dream and thrive?

What stories are you telling yourself over and over again that no longer serve you and only make life harder than it needs to be? You might be able to change your story and change your life...

And that is all I have for you this week. Until next week, keep fighting.

The world needs your art.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

At my fingertips...

two peas in a pod

Hello and greetings from Arkansas, the land of my birth!

First, I must start off this post with a huge thank you to my dear friend and fellow artist Craig Colorusso for letting me hitch a ride on the way back home from his southern leg of a Sun Boxes/Cubemusic tour. Artists helping artists is what it is all about and I am thankful to have such a friend. Please check out his work if you don't already know it and like his pages on facebook to follow his extraordinary work.

We left Atlanta on Monday evening around 5pm and made good time crossing the borders of 5 states to arrive in Arkansas in the early hours of Tuesday.

Once inside my house and greeted by a wee bird in my kitchen (I am back in Arkansas y'all!) I attempted to sleep. It was wild to wake up here and to have things! To have actual possessions that can't all fit in one bag!?! It really was like Christmas. It was great to come back to my art collection and my old desk and typewriter. I quickly got my autoharp out and it made friends easily and looked at home immediately. 

The things I have around me are old and battered yet lovely and give definite clues to what I value and what is important to me. From my eight months away I know now that I don't need them and I can live without them and I will gladly, however it is wondrous to feel the sense of place I have created over the years by the things I have collected. Many of my most favorite things can now fit in a tea cup or two and I aim to keep it that way.

So far this week I have just been getting my house sorted and settled. It's like those films where fancy people drape sheets over their summer home furniture and arrive each year for a holiday that begins with the pulling off of the dust covered fabric and the sweeping away of cobwebs. Except I am not fancy and someone has been living in my house.

I have visited my parents out in the country and I have gone to an estate sale, other than that I have stayed in getting reacquainted with my home and what it means to live here again. My hands have that old familiar tingle and I am itching to make some small works for the holiday season soon.

I have so many stories to tell. Are you ready to listen?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mysterious and very messy

Hello Dear Readers,

This will be my final post from Atlanta as by this time next week I will have returned to Arkansas. It is hard to believe that I have now been away from my home and my little community in Arkansas for 8 months. What an adventure this has been. I am again so grateful for everyone who helped me get to Scotland. I am equally grateful to my Scottish friends who made me feel welcomed and supported while I was there.

I am also thankful for this time in Atlanta. It has been wonderful to have this contemplative visit and to have some of my basic needs also provided for me by my brother Ben. This visit has also allowed me to get to know my nieces and oldest brother even better and in a different way. I am grateful for my family.

Everything is a journey and process. Life is mysterious and very messy. The years that have been filled with bravery and adventure can be the same years that are filled with poverty and loss. Creativity can flourish while social circles dwindle and during the worst depression the biggest recovery can also occur. Just when one thinks everything is falling apart something miraculous might also happen. This artist's life is a roller coaster, a feast and famine, at once celebrated by patrons and peers or left lost and alone. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Until next week, give it all you've got.

Friday, November 1, 2013

We remained strong...

"I paint pictures to remember, you're too beautiful to put into words..." 
- Polly Jean Harvey. 

This week was pretty forgettable. That is a bleak thing to write. The truth is I am struggling but "this too shall pass" as one wise sage or two or five thousand has been known to say. It unpopular to admit the struggle, no one wants to hear it. I don't want to hand anyone my black cloud. We are all struggling and we are all just in our struggles. Mine is no more important than yours and no less valid. 

I was imagining a private safe place where artists and culture workers could talk about all of this. A no bullshit zone if you will, away from facebook, away from the positive promotion 24/7, away from the "I'm okay you're okay" rah rah of the internet. Not a place to just be bleak and depressive but to be honest, real, not alone and find solutions to common problems. A place where we are understood for what we are, for how hard we work, for what we sacrifice and for the darkness and beauty we harness.

I have so many ideas just bursting to come out, I hope I don't forget them. I hope I don't ever stop. 

I hope you keep fighting too. 



Action steps: 
Like my facebook page. Here!
Follow me on twitter. Here!
Visit my Etsy shop. Lower prices, new prints. Here!
Visit my newly redesigned website. Here!

If you have done all of that. You are on my team and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would also be very grateful if you wouldn't mind sharing some of those links. If you enjoy my work, please tell your friends and peers.

Lastly if you are in Little Rock Arkansas, or are planning a trip there soon. Don't miss these opportunities to see my work in the flesh in beautiful gallery settings.

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
401 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72201

This exhibition offers viewers an opportunity to see contemporary, abstract works of art by Arkansas based artists. Artists in the exhibition are: Dustyn Bork, Megan Chapman, Donnie Copeland, Don Lee, Jill Storthz and Steven Wise.

Butler Center Atrium Gallery
September 13 - November 23, 2013


My work is represented by the wonderful Boswell Mourot Fine Art.

Boswell Mourot Fine Art
5815 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Little Rock, AR 72207

Boswell Mourot is a fine art gallery featuring well-known and emerging artists from the international, national and local art scene. The gallery has a selection of my works as well as the combined works of myself and Stewart Bremner.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Family visits, art museums and graves...

You know I am always good for it. Sorry if you missed this post but it is better late than never and all that sort of stuff. My brother Sean came to Atlanta for a visit so I got busy. We toured some family graves with a little road trip about an hour away, to Cartersville, Georgia. Had too many great meals out, saw a lot of amazing art at the beautiful High Museum and generally had a good time. I also got my lovely Autoharp tuned and learned some songs. I am pretty delighted with it. I promoted my art and thought of some art I want to create this winter. I thought about the future and worried about it all as well. That's all I have got for you this week- but there are photos.... 

This is my great great Grandad's brother and his wife. 

This is their child

This is the high museum

This is me and my brother Ben and Sean

This is one of the best gifts ever, my lovely Autoharp from Stewart.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Stories, paint, dreams...

Hello Lovelies!

Another Friday already!? This is the beginning of the sixth week of my being in Atlanta, my how time flies! This week I have done a little painting and some promotion of my new prints and I am happy to report that six prints have already found homes! I am very pleased with the result and grateful to all who have chosen to live with my work. I still have many prints in stock so please check them out in my shop if you haven't already, don't forget to look at my affordable original small works as well.

I decided to write a little story to go with each print.

Through the years, over time, across history, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends, we remained strong after many had been broken. Celebrate the power within those that came before and those that will come after with this popular print. Click to buy.

Whether brothers and sisters talking at night or couples chatting and telling tales, whether you surround yourself with your family of origin or have a found a new family of perfect partners in crime... "We know the stories in our hearts are true." This archival print is a great way to remember. Click to buy.

Are you and your partner holding your hearts gingerly like kittens or know of a couple that is? This lovely print makes a great wedding, civil union, anniversary, or any day gift for all that celebrate the wondrous frailties of the human heart. Click to buy. 

In other news, these new small works on paper materialized this week. Fragments of my Scottish adventures no doubt coming to the surface. I can almost feel the cool wind, the sea breeze, the hills and sense the haar.

Well, I think that is all I have for you this week. Next week I hope to have more art, inspiration and excitement to share with you all. Until then, you know what to do!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lights, camera, prints!

We know the stories print waiting for a new home 

Hello! I hope you all have had a good week. 

Here's what has been going on in my art world. I now have my new business cards for my Etsy shop expertly designed by Stewart Bremner! They look great in real life and I am so excited to send them out with all of my new orders. 

New cards for my shop Artmaven
Speaking of orders, I am very excited to share that I now have a range of very affordable and beautiful, archival prints available in my shop! I started small with just three designs and has eighteen prints made in total just to test the waters. I am thrilled with the quality of these reproductions and so pleased that I can offer them at such affordable prices so that people who have expressed interest in this particular body of work can now have them in their homes. 

Gingerly like kittens
We remained strong
In other news, besides launching these new prints and preparing my Etsy shop for the holiday rush, I have been returning to painting, this time in a series of small abstract landscapes based on my memories of Scotland. I am just getting started but it has been lovely to be making again. 

Work in progress, small abstract landscapes
Action in my mini mobile studio as I set the grounds for more abstract landscapes
These pieces will find their way to my Etsy shop soon, but in the meantime, I hope you will visit my shop and get yourself a print or two or one for your friends. I love being able to share this part of the story with you all and am very grateful for your support. 

Until next week, keep fighting!



Saturday, October 5, 2013

Needs must.

Things have been busy and productive this week in my art world. "Necessity is the mother of invention" has been the saying that has gone through my head off and on all week and it seems to be working. Fellow artist and dear friend Jennifer Libby Fay and I have been back at it with our organized weekly online art meetings. This has been extremely helpful for the both us.

This week I picked up some much needed art supplies from Dick Blick. It was a bit overwhelming to be in such a large art supply store at first, however slowly but surely I found my way around and the supplies I needed. I picked up some watercolor paper, colored pencils, drawing pencils, paint, tape and varnish.

I had my business cards created solely for my Etsy shop this week, designed by the ever talented Stewart Bremner. I have never had cards just for my shop before, this seems like an important part of bringing my shop to the forefront. I should get them soon. I am very excited to see them.

I also had 18 archival fine art prints made of some of my recent work created. I am looking forward to seeing them when they get here and getting them into my Etsy shop as soon as possible. Many people have asked me about creating more prints of my work and I am so glad that I will be able to provide these new works at an affordable price for many to enjoy.

Besides all of these nuts and bolts, I also managed to paint a small piece. It may never see the light of day but it was a good start on an idea I have been carrying around in my head for awhile. I hope to have some new original art to show by next week as well.

Everyday we paint is a victory... yes it is!

Friday, September 27, 2013


Kilchurn Castle
Hello Dear Readers!

This makes my third Friday in Atlanta... So we are already heading into my third week of being here! Time flies! Most of the past two weeks has been spent getting over jet lag which I finally seem to be over and letting my aching and injured shoulder relax and heal and that has now happily happened. I think I am mostly ready to rejoin the world. I am enjoying spending time with my brother and my nieces and I have enjoyed eating in different restaurants and walking in some parks and neighborhoods. Admittedly I haven't gone out much or explored much here yet. I stay in mostly during the week and research, plan, tidy and cook. This is like an incubation time. I know that something is brewing and I am using this time to rebuild and refuel for the next big thing.

There is always something around the corner, something waiting to be discovered and something to dream about and move towards. I must always believe this.

I have been thinking a lot about my Etsy shop, Artmaven and I am determined to make it bigger and better, offering more affordable prints and making my shop more of a priority. I have always had my shop running in the background, maintaining it in a more organic fashion while I focused more on exhibitions and gallery showings. I think it is now time to push the shop to equal standing. I will be working towards this in the coming months.

My ultimate goal is to be better able to support myself from my art and feel less worried about money. The past few years have been very challenging for me financially in this economy. I feel I have risen to the challenge in many ways and I am pleased that my art continues to sell here and there. I have also just returned from an amazing and life changing six months of creating art and being supported in Scotland thanks to my patrons and the funding of my project. I know I am one of the lucky ones, however it is still not enough to comfortably support myself and my plans for the future. I have two choices, I can keep worrying or I can take action. I must keep my eyes on the prize. As many of you might have guessed, I would really like to be able to live in Edinburgh, Scotland in the near future. I would like this to be more than a dream, a happy thought or a flimsy goal.

It actually scares me just to state my desire so plainly but in order to make it happen that is what I must do. Scotland felt like home to me and I felt at home in myself in Scotland. It is not just about my relationship with Stewart, it is also about my relationship with myself and what I want for my life and art and what is important to me. Scotland ticks a lot of those boxes.

I am turning this now almost seven year old blog back towards what the header says : "Ideas about making, marketing, selling and talking about art." I hope you will continue to follow along and join the journey.

With love and gratitude for all I have been given and with excitement for the future,


If you are in Little Rock, Arkansas you can see my work at the following places.

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
401 President Clinton Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72201

This exhibition offers viewers an opportunity to see contemporary, abstract works of art by Arkansas based artists. Artists in the exhibition are: Dustyn Bork, Megan Chapman, Donnie Copeland, Don Lee, Jill Storthz and Steven Wise.

Butler Center Atrium Gallery
September 13 - November 23, 2013

Click here to see the six pieces I have in the group exhibition at the Butler Center

Boswell Mourot Fine Art
5815 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Little Rock, AR 72207

Boswell Mourot is a fine art gallery featuring well-known and emerging artists from the international, national and local art scene. The gallery has a selection of my works as well as the combined works of myself and Stewart Bremner.

Click here to see the selection of my works at Boswell-Mourot. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I hear America singing...

As seen on the USA projects page this week. I wish I knew who created this. 

Dear Readers,

As most of you know, I have been back in the states for the past week. I am staying in Atlanta, Georgia with my brother Ben for awhile. Perhaps it is just a coincidence but I happen to be staying at the intersection of Edinburgh and Westminster. I am paying attention to all signs and I will take this as one.

Not too much has happened in the art world since I have been back. However as I mentioned last week, I am part of a group exhibition in Little Rock, Arkansas called Abstract ARt at the Butler Center. If you are in Arkansas please stop by and see the exhibition which will remain up through November 24th. I also have a selection of larger works at Boswell-Mourot Fine Art in Little Rock as well. Make a day of it!

This week I have been getting my Etsy shop set up again with the appropriate shipping rates etc from the United States. I also used a new app for my online shop on my Facebook Artist page which will make it easier for patrons to buy my art directly off facebook rather than having to go to Etsy as well. So far it looks like a good application. I also reached an exciting milestone of 750 friends of my art page this week. Thanks to all of my readers that are friends of that page. If you are not already please click here and then click like. Besides my blog, my facebook art page is the best way for me to communicate directly with you all and to share my latest projects. This week also saw the arrival of my paintings from Scotland. I am quite relieved as they were held in customs for a few days, but they are here now and in good condition.

I am very excited to incorporate some of the inspirations and colors collected in my photographs of Scotland in my new work this autumn. Stay's coming, I promise...

In other news, this week of being back in the states has been illuminating in many ways and also quite painful. Besides dealing with being miles apart from Stewart, suffering jet lag and feeling slightly displaced, I have also been dealing with an extremely painful muscle spasm in my upper trapezius. This is a pain I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. The spasm was caused by my travels and the stress related to it all. The muscle will release in time. Unfortunately, I had to spend money I don't have to see a Dr. here in Atlanta and now have a prescription for muscle relaxers...not exactly the welcome back I had hoped for.

I wanted to jump into getting new art in my Etsy shop and writing and catching up on blogs and processing photographs but it was not meant to be. I just have to give it time and cut myself the slack I need right now.

It will all work out. I am looking forward to enjoying Atlanta and creating some art soon. It has been good to be around my brother Ben and my nieces and their cat Camper.

Until next week, keep fighting. The worlds needs you and your art.