Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review

At the end of each year I like to take stock and gather the evidence of my life and work around me. I like to contemplate what I have accomplished, what I haven’t and what comes next. I haven’t been writing as regularly for a while now and especially since I moved my blog over here to my site. I could have easily blown this exercise off this year but when I really thought about it I knew I had to write.

What a year this has been, with it’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Like a long sit in a waiting room for days at a time and then like a rocket speeding through the others. So much was done and so much wasn’t and when I sit here at the table on Iona Street in Edinburgh, Scotland listening to music on my headphones on the last day of 2014, I know that so much has changed. I am changed. I am a rocket and I am a waiting room and this is life.

So now for the evidence: 2014 Snippets from old journals and blogs.


I completed my commission for Royal Blind as part of their first ever Royal Blind Week aiming to raise awareness and vital funds for the services they offer for the blind and partially sighted. My work was also featured on the Royal Blind’s website alongside an interview with me as well. I really enjoyed creating the painting and so glad I was able to participate in the exhibition in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In publishing news, I was notified that Pocket full of live wires from my 2010 series, Falling into Sound would be published alongside a poem written by New Hampshire’s state poet laureate Alice B. Fogel entitled Full of Life. Ms. Fogel’s poem was written in response to my painting and will be published in the journal LETTERS produced by students from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and Yale Divinity School. After receiving that great news, I was contacted again by the editor of the journal and asked if I would be interested in having two of my Ghosts of the past series of works published as well.

I also offered one of my Ghosts of the past paintings as a reproduction to the Creative Action Network in partnership with Obama’s Organizing For Action.

It was during this time that it was confirmed that the American debut of my Ghosts of the Past Exposed series had been picked up by a gallery. I had a lovely exhibition at the Anne Kittrell Gallery at the University of Arkansas. The exhibition was on display February 17th - March 7th. There was an article about the exhibition in the University’s newspaper and on their website as well.

In other creation news, at the end of January I completed a small complicated work that gave me all kinds of wonderful trouble, called I will. This piece was sent to Scotland for an exhibition at Little Ox Gallery in Edinburgh.


I started off the month making fourteen cards from a new series called handmade love. The cards were initially created because of Valentine’s Day. I wanted to create the kind of card that I would like to receive or give. They were a joy to make.

By the middle to late February all the paintings in exhibitions were up and on display, whether it was the Ghosts of the past exhibition at the University of Arkansas or the larger painting in the Royal Blind Exhibition or the small work in the Little Ox gallery exhibition, Here We Are. It was a joy to be participating in two internationally group shows and one local solo exhibition.

Towards the end of the month I painted four more new works in a continuation of my abstract landscape works on paper inspired by Scotland. I was very pleased with the reception of this popular series.


At the beginning of the month, I found myself wanting to use my studio space more and try to feel comfortable and at home in the space as I have been more or less nomadic ever since the old underground closed. It was good to spend time in my attic studio and get ready to work again on larger works.

It was also at this time that I started planning a series of four, two hour workshops on the business aspect of art. I was hoping to teach this locally but for now I am looking forward to marketing this online as a subscription service in the near future.

Also during this month, I had an impromptu spring sale of some of my older color works from 2004/5 and one that remained from 2009. I found 4 out of the 5 paintings new homes! It was lovely to connect with folks that were excited to get a larger piece of mine for a great price. I was so pleased.

Later in March, with the exhibitions now complete there was time for some contemplation about making art, why I do it, my identity as an artist and feasibility of it all. It was a bit of doubtful time. Even with the successes in my career it just felt a bit like it was all slipping away and that perhaps I should give up. But, I didn’t. I started painting in my studio again and getting more comfortable up there all the while. First working on a older color piece and then leaving it behind to start a new series.I also decided to offer a selection of some of my older color works from 2008’s Evidence of the Disappearance series as archival reproductions over on Society 6.

At the end of the month the Spring 2014 issue of LETTERS was published. I was honored to have my work featured on the cover and three of my paintings within the journal from YALE as well.


I was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Scottish Society of Northwest Arkansas. I gave a talk about my project, my research and my time in Scotland. It was a lovely meeting and really the highlight of the month. I showed my entire Ghosts of the past body of work to the attentive audience and loved the intimate setting of the event. It was a lovely opportunity that I fully enjoyed.

I kept working on my new series in the studio, they were evolving in a way I never really imagined but then at the same time it was perfect. I love it when art becomes serendipitous and teaches me while I create it. This new series is all about this life and the rebuilding process; a process that I know all too well from recent years.

Then suddenly in mid April I was having amazing conversations about art and was brought back to life. I know that sounds dramatic but it was so good to be back in the thick of it, making the art I needed to make, writing the blogs that needed writing and having these deep conversations and feeling understood and in my element. It had been such a long time since I had felt this way. I produced 8 new paintings that knocked my socks off. These paintings, I believe represent a shift in my thinking, my beliefs, my self esteem and my worth as a woman and as an artist. They are strong at the same time fragile, they are beautiful at the same time raw, they are as much about rebuilding as they are tearing down. I will be good to these works as they have been good to me.

This month I also started a group on facebook called Women’s Work. I wanted a place where women artists could share their art, inspirations, ideas and struggles. A place to celebrate all the art that women create and to learn about new artists and ideas. It’s just getting started but so far it seems like a good space. I would like to curate exhibitions out of the group eventually and do more with it as it unfolds. We have to create the change we want to see.


I have been working in my studio on some more new 12x12” works on panel from the series I revealed last week. I am currently researching potential exhibitions and galleries in which to show these new works. I also recently completed a 9x12” commission on paper. I have a large commission that I am looking forward to starting in the near future. But first I must finish the rest of this series. I would like to paint on larger panels. We will see if it is in the cards.

4 months (and a touch of May) have come and gone. I have participated in two international group exhibitions, had a solo exhibition, supported two causes near to my heart through my art, was published, enjoyed a public speaking engagement and created thirty-three works this year so far.

I’ll be honest, this is a hard gig. I keep going but it keeps getting harder to maintain a life lived in honor of my true calling and my passion. In the past I wondered if I even had a right to live my life in this way. I have come to a conclusion. I do. I have the right to make and create my art, write my truth and sing my songs. It doesn’t always pay but I am going to do it. You know this about me.

Towards the middle of May, I was having a bit of hard time, I was missing Stewart and my other far away friends desperately. I was broke and I didn’t know how I was ever going to get back to Edinburgh again. It was a very lonely and depressing time. I felt like I was doing everything “right” (meditation, writing, relaxation exercises, exercising regularly etc.) but to no avail. I took a six week break from blog writing and art making and started seeing a brilliant counselor.


And then something amazing happened. Stewart asked me to marry him and I said yes!
What a beautiful thing and yes it really was a bit of a surprise.
We got married June 14th. It was a beautiful day. Soon after our wedding, we started the U.K. Visa process which is arduous, expensive and required a lot of time and energy. The finished application was received in England on July 4th (happy independence day!) and we should find out if it was approved in the next 3-4 weeks. If approved, I will be moving to Scotland! With a marriage proposal on June 4th, a wedding ten days later and then a visa to apply for it was a busy time


My visa was approved by the middle of the month. Now was the time to buy a ticket, sell my stuff and start over in a new country.

August - September

I wrote one more blog over at the old studio blog and in the Arkansas heat I started slowly selling off my possessions and available art and getting my affairs in order. It was harder than I thought it would be.I am grateful that I had the support of my brilliant counselor, Stewart, and my dear friends that listened to me, drank with me and helped me through my tears and helped me pack, sell and deal with everything during this time. Thinking about this time now seems like a dream, it was so hard and I was moving in slow motion. However, it was also at this time due to selling most of my possessions that I was able to pay of my credit card debt and build a small nest egg to sustain me for the first few months of living in Edinburgh.

My art found many lovely homes during my pack up and moving time and that helped to give me strength and remind me of my purpose in this life which helped build my confidence to get it all done. Also during this time I shipped off the 8 works I had created earlier in the year for a traveling group show called Abstract Arkansas that I was thrilled to be part of. It was a crazy time to be packing and shipping art all over the country but again it made me happy and anything that made me happy helped in the last minute details and allowed me to hug my dear friend Sarah good bye at the airport with tears in my eyes and get on that plane. To everyone that helped and loved me during this time, thank you.

On Sept 26th, I arrived in Edinburgh! It was momentous in so many ways and so lovely to return to Stewart without a leaving date hanging over us (well at least until the next visa application in two and a half years). The past 3 months have been all about settling in here and taking care of the business of my making Edinburgh my home and getting the official documents lined up to help in the visa process in the future. It has been so lovely to see my friends here, Stewart’s family and many of my favorite places. I feel at home.

I have also managed to meet new people, explore new places and make art as well. I have created 12 small works on paper for my Etsy shop and 4 12x12” works so far in a very small bedroom studio space. I have shown two of the 12x12” at the lovely Union Gallery and the two others at the Sit in/Take Away exhibition as part of the Society of Scottish Artists exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy. I joined the Society as well which enabled me to take part in the exhibition.

We recently rented a studio space at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall that we are in the process of moving into right now. I can’t wait to see what happens in there in 2015 for not only me but for Stewart and his work. We also just adopted a lovely tabby cat fellow named Theo and are getting to the know his sweet soul. It is so wonderful to have a cat again. We had dreamed of future cat for a long time and he is now here. So everything is fitting into place, everything I imagined when I meditated, wrote in my journals or spoke about with my therapist is forming into a sweet reality after a lot of hard work.

I didn’t paint hundreds of paintings this year as I usually do, I think I managed 49 or so and I am okay with that. I need to focus on what I accomplished. I had one solo exhibition (it must be noted that the gallery paid me good money just to show my work- thank you, I lived off that money for longer than most could) and I had work in five group (4 were in Edinburgh) shows as well. I was published in a Yale journal. I gave an art talk to the Scottish Society on Northwest Arkansas. I got married, I sold my things, got myself out of debt and I got on a plane to start a new beautiful life with a fabulous man (who did amazing things all year with the Scottish YES campaign). Stewart blew me away everyday with his talent and dedication to the cause and yet he still showed up to support and love me all the while through the distance of 4000 miles.

What a year. If you have read all of this… you are amazing. Thank you. If you are part of my tribe and have had a kind word or ear for me and supported me over the years, thank you. If you came to our wedding or wedding reception, thank you. If you came to my moving sales or showed up and bought things and art after the sales, thank you. If you are one of my Edinburgh friends, thanks for making me feel so comfortable here. I am nothing with out my people in this world and I am lucky to have found you all. This year was a test and a triumph. Thank you for sharing it with me.

I am ready to welcome 2015.

Don’t forget the world needs you and your art (whatever it may be). Keep fighting!



Monday, December 8, 2014

A life with purpose

I have waited longer than I intended, I meant to write here sooner than this. I’ve been a little busy working, a little lazy and perhaps a bit dreamy. I think I have just been getting on with living.

Last time, I mentioned I had carved out a small studio space and it is really tiny but I am loving it more and more. There are many things to appreciate about it. I love the big window and enjoy observing the light on the chimney’s and buildings that make up my view. I like seeing the leaves thinning out on the big tree as Autumn turns to Winter. This window helps me connect to nature. I like watching the magpies hopping on the roof lines and the black cat that sits in the window of a neighbor’s flat. I like watching the light as it changes and the clouds as they roll by. If anything the older I get the more I realize how in tune I am with my environment and especially nature and how much I need it to ground and inspire me.

Another benefit of my studio is that it is so small I must work cleanly.I also just like the challenge. I want to see how much I can create in this 30 square feet of space. As my life is starting over in many ways, I feel like it is a good time for my studio practice to change as well and the work will change accordingly. I am very excited by where it is going. I have always struggled with “enough.” What is enough when it comes to art? What if I just like how this paper meets this edge and how this line crosses it? If it makes my heart sing, can it be enough? Do I really have to put paint on it or draw something else there or add another layer? I also struggle with what is enough in my life.This is what I am finding again and again too. Art doesn’t lie. Art shows me what I am working on inside and what I am hiding from (I will leave this topic for another post).

So last time I mentioned I had just started two new 12x12” pieces on panel. Well I finished those just in time for them to be included in the Christmas Exhibition at Union Gallery on Broughton Street in Edinburgh. The exhibition opened on Friday, November 7th and it was lovely to have work in the exhibition and chat with folks at the opening. I was in the same exhibition in 2011/2012. Union Gallery is a great space to show work and it was a special treat to have my work on a gallery wall near Stewart’s. He had three pieces in the exhibition as well. It is a great exhibition and if you are in Edinburgh it will be up through January 31st. We also had a lovely opportunity to watch the gallery the day after the opening on that following Saturday. It was great to be surrounded by art and to really get to know the art by the other stellar artists a little better. It was lovely to see people come into the gallery and really engage with the work. As many of my friends know, there isn’t much I like more than talking with people about art and engaging folks with work so it was a very welcomed way to spend a day.

The following Sunday I was off for an adventure with Stewart’s mom, Pat and her friend Terry. We went to check out the New Lanark Wold Heritage site that was hosting The Great Scottish Tapestry. It was my first time to New Lanark and my second time to view the inspiring tapestry. It was a lovely day trip, the view of the River Clyde was very impressive and the yellow and gold of the leaves around the site were beautiful too. It was a lovely weekend.

** I am so behind in my writing. I am trying to not be bothered about this and slowly catch up or just let it go and live in the moment. I do know I feel better when I write.