Sunday, November 15, 2015

Artists Who Live in the Woods; Relics of a Fulfilled Life

 Step into the enchanting home of my friend Debbie Dean.  You will be greeted by rooms that echo a happy and fulfilled life of an artist who has always loved life in the woods.   She is a vibrant and courageous single mother, enthusiastic and full of gratitude for her children and her home.  Although she relishes her quiet mornings huddled by the fire withe a cup of coffee, a smoke and a notebook, her days are spent actively helping others.  She is friend to many people and creatures alike.

Warmth and dance of the fire,

  Shells strung into beads

Bells rattling on the front door

  Wind blowing through trees. 

  She is a wild woman with a loving heart full of random magical stories of exotic travels.  You can step into the wild forests of India or be part of a hand made puppet show.  Relics of travels through Mexico are arranged among the crystal altars that surround her studio.  Dried flowers, framed portraits, instruments, collage furniture, patterned rugs mirrors and windows gather around her own creations.  Life is art, art is life.

Debbie's daughter, Belle Star, is much like her mother; a very strong and beautifully talented woman.  The two have a close relationship and I have always felt much warmth and love during gatherings in their homes.  They compliment each other in both art and cooking.  Visiting Debbie, we enjoy expertly cooked and lavishly seasoned meals both delicious and nourishing.  She is well educated about herbs and grows her own culinary and medicinally mystic garden.   This kitchen is a kind of ultra glorious studio where her love for herbs and food are assembled. 


Debbie is currently loving her newest body of work, a series of acrylic paintings that were created using bursts of blown breath to move pigment.  Her thoughts were deep with the drought and fires that consumed the Sierras and moved into the time we are now grateful for, the rains.  Her abstract paintings are full of life and infinite stories.  Her studio is bathed in sunlight inside her home that was built from the trees that stood on the land.  She tells me she loves to greet her newest creations in the morning.  "They are my babies"

I asked Debbie how living in the woods has positively impacted her life and her art.  She responded "It's so peaceful and quiet.  I grew up in the woods.  Since I was little I knew that I always wanted to live in the woods and to have my own children and a studio to make art.  Now I have all of those things.  It is incredible and wonderful to know that you can manifest what you want, you just have to know what you want"

I've noticed a pattern in many people who know what they want and often exercise the meaning of life in a simple way.  For those who are still searching for their dreams, a walk through a tunnel of trees is a kind of hallway to follow those dreams.  Taking a long look at the sky and the land around a meadow is an open book of stories.  An exposure to the natural environment can reveal magic that is happening all around, and has the potential to breathe life into our incredible and short lives.

Many thanks and gratitude to the fantastic Debbie Dean.   I will keep you guys posted about her next upcoming art show.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Self Publishing a Children's Book

Act 1: Conception and Fleshing Out; I'm totally stoked on the act of self publishing a book. I did a lot of research in how to make the book great, and that involved talking to other people. I had a classic concept in mind, and knew that I wanted very small children and adults to enjoy it together. This character Moon Bunny came to me, and he was grateful to be alive. So I just listened to the fun stuff he liked to do, and drew him acting them out. Then I took the writing skills I have been developing and threw rhyming words to the actions. That was the easy part.

Act 2:  Revealing the Book, asking for Criticism;  I asked multiple people to read the text, look at the pictures and give me reviews.  This took years of attending SCBWI conferences, Press Expos, festivals, and sharing with people who were in the publishing industry.  I turned this idea of Moon Bunny into a 12 page calendar postcard set and vended to my friends and family.  They got back to me years later with stories of how their grandchildren, children, and even aging parents cherished the little cards and wanted to know what Moon Bunny was up to next.  This is where things get juicy.  Getting feedback from people who love your work is fuel for the fire.  And bookstores would buy Moon Bunny postcard packs, but  more and more they wanted a book.   

Act 3:  Reformatting;  I spent another year or so reformatting Moon Bunny to make him into a 32 page picture book, and having researched layout, cover design, copy editing, etc..the book came to be.  I had a Create Space account on Amazon, and ordered my first proof for quality checking.  I received more help from people who filmed promo videos and took photographs for the release of Moon Bunny.  And once the final copy had been approved, I informed my social media platforms that something exciting was coming their way.


Act 4: Selling and Sharing;  People bought my book and left awesome reviews on amazon.  The ball was beginning to roll.  Since I have trouble distributing the book on a mass scale, I still rely on expos, festivals street fairs and craft shows to sell.  So while I'm working on becoming a bestseller for children's books ;) , for now I enjoy the faces of the people who buy my book, hearing a class of kindergartners laughing at my pictures and getting letters from little kids.  It is something I get to enjoy for as long as I live.  And the book is forever in my family and eternally on the web.  And I'm sure I left out many other details about this process, but my main point is to give people inspiration to go for it themselves.  Happy researching and follow your heart!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cats, Galaxies and Kate Bush

My kitten Lyra inspired me to name her after a constellation because she boasts symmetrical bright white spots on her ears chest and belly. This post is about all the wonderful things I discovered about the constellation Lyra so read on! (This is a taste of what sparks the interest for my paintings, what could be a story behind the mysterious stars? .)

In Greek mythology, Lyra was associated with the myth of Orpheus, the musician who was killed by the Bacchantes. After his death, his lyre was thrown into the river; Zeus sent an eagle to retrieve the lyre, and ordered both of them to be placed in the sky. There are actually a zillion different versions of the Orpheus story, most seeming to point towards one god being jealous of another's gift.  I appreciate only the symbolism of the instrument, and how the contemplation of music and the constellations can transform the spirit.

The brightest star in this small constellation is Vega, which is also the fifth brightest star in the night sky. It is a beautiful blue/white star, look for this star in the very early evening in June – high overhead on autumn evenings – in the northwestern quadrant of the sky on December evenings. Vega is a huge star 2 1/2 times the size of our sun, and is millions of years older. There are stars, nebulae and galaxies within the constellation captured by Hubble.

Ahh, the beautiful things we find looking into the eyes of a cat.

...And! Kate Bush wrote a beautiful song inspired by the character Lyra from the book the Golden Compass.  Wowness kitty, we picked one magical name!  


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Magick

"Falena Black Foot", a memorial cameo done in colored pencil.

Parrot Vision. I babysat a green cheek conure for 4 days, and it was very inspiring!

Watercolor illustrations for my next book on the horizon.

Drawing down the moon.

My new little puma mew.

Tiny House Talk; Artist Studio Yurt in Northern California

My yurt was featured Tiny House Talk, an awesome blog that discusses the beauty of alternative homes.  Check out the article here

Monday, July 13, 2015

Moon Bunny Children's Book

Moon Bunny is the first of many independently created children's books created by yours truly.
I wrote, illustrated and designed a book of 12 months, then compiled a dream-team of editors, artists and writers to help me get the book ready for the world.  Its now ready to buy on here

I have really enjoyed the continuing appreciation from my readers sending me their reviews in pictures!  Thanks all you awesome parents and kiddos!!  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Artists Who Live in the Woods; Lord Von Schmitt

Lord Von Schmitt, aka Schuyler, has an immense capability to create surreal and lusciously 60s retro art.  He is a clothing designer, collage artist, photographer, model, musician and dj extraordinare.
I quite enjoy hanging around him and his unapologetic and colorful sense of humor.

He creates these amazing clothes out of afghans, and he listens to the best retro dance music 
in existence.

I designed this graphic logo for him, that now appears on his lovely gold tags.  

His love for randomness can be seen by observing the scattered re-purposed art that decorates his barn studio.  He gives meaningless objects a new life and makes them into sculptures.  Frivolous art is a sign of enjoyment, and brilliance!  He is indeed seeking something vast and loves to go on quests, even if its just a trip walking through town.

 I love wearing his clothes, I often feel like myself in the style of hideous fashion, and can satisfy the bohemian weirdo in me.   Somehow nobody stops me and tells me I look like I am walking around wearing what resulted in an explosion from my grandmother's closet. And if they did, I would thank them for the high compliment.  Find his original designs here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Home Portrait with Oils

Today I wore my favorite green furry sweater, and posed in a fort made of my paintings.  Its not every day you get to be hugged in a world of many magical beings.  *Feeling really good*

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Golden Owl Speed Painting

I begin this by making a free hand sketch of an owl using a colored pencil on arches hot press paper. I use Daniel Smith watercolor paints, and do several washes, and add layers over dried washes. A lot of my work is detailed, and I draw colors and lines with my brush. Then I paint around the owl with Designa Size, a sticky glue used for applying gold leaf. The gold leaf goes on after 15 minutes of applying the size, then I gently tap the leaf and lift it off with a soft brush. The final layers are details using FW liquid acrylics, gouache, sennelier inks and tiny gemeralds. This painting took many days to complete, as I kept it propped up in my studio where I could decide what it needed and could take the time to add to it until it was complete. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Art and Nature

  Nearly every night I awake to quench my thirst.  I step out of my bedroom and onto the deck where I blindly feel for the door handle to enter the dark yurt.  I immediately reach for the light switch and walk across the cold floor to the sink where I fill my glass in a somnabulant state.  After gulping down refreshing water, I walk back outside to my bed in the little dome.   I see the moon glowing silently on the horizon, and I frequently remember my dreams after greeting this eerie bright light rising from behind the trees.

     In the morning I heat water for tea.  My tiny furry kitty Falena, aka “dainty monkey” greets me as she prances swiftly from the cat door to her food dish.  I rush to put on my clothes, I have to hurry out the door to greet a new friend today.   I swiftly dart out the door and Falena follows me to the car as usual, curious as to where I disappear to in my travel pod.  Driving down the hill, I can see the revitalizing view of the mountains.   Colors are bright, the landscape presents a crisp and detailed panorama of slow creeping clouds and dancing yellow spears of pine and madrone trees.  My heart fills with joy as I behold the land the morning after a fresh rain.

     Driving fast on the windy road, I embrace the hypnotic pulse of light from the tree shadows hitting my windshield, chiming to the beat of my music.  As I pass through the country side admiring the glorious view, I come to a stop where I see a huge grandfather tree smashed and blocking the highway.  I gasp and wonder how powerful the winds must have been, and take in for a moment the weight of the huge beast lying across the road.  I turn the wheel, now warm from the sun, towards my destination where a new art patron awaits my arrival.

  We meet at a little restaurant in the country, and while sipping our coffees at the European style tables, share our love for the plant kingdom.  We have a very interesting conversation, one where you can understand where the other is coming from, on a very specific level.  Such a unique conversation, you feel like it is a story being written or a new idea being born.  He is anxious to be the new owner of my oil painting, "Two Bird Tribe".  It is still morning and my coffee is jolting through my system.  I don’t normally drink coffee, except when I’m socializing, which gets me really excited.  I go into the room and gaze upon my oil painting.  Its eyes meet mine again, and I look into their beings as if I am seeing them in a new light.  They almost seem to give me a high five, and I thank them for visiting my dreams.  I am filled with gratuity for having met a new friend and patron who adors my art and feels a similar affinity for the characters in the pictures that I paint.  I remember the moon on the horizon, and the delicate state of dreams and their significance.  Nature is always guiding me with beacons of light, and still moments of darkness, signaling my need to paint.  I can still smell the morning rain on the grass, and am filled with delight that my day is just beginning.