Monday, December 31, 2007

Until Next Year...

As the (oh-so-proud) owner of a brand-new MacBook, I'm pretty confident that I'll be able to post here and visit you all much more often, and I am so excited. I feel like a whole new world is at my fingertips, even if my fingertips will have to re-train themselves to use a few new key combinations.

In the meantime, my friends, I wish you the very best in the
coming year. I hope it is a very happy year for you all, full of
delight and magic and incredible adventures. Thank you for making this year so wonderful.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Joyful Holiday Season...

It's been a month of exciting madness, with a wonderful onslaught of orders in my Etsy shop and the start of a new job, and because of those two things -- which, really, started on the exact same day, I know I've been very behind on both blog-posting and blog-visiting, but I just want to take a moment to wish you all the happiest of Christmases and holidays.

I promise I haven't forgotten you, my across-the-country and around-the-world friends. I'll be stopping by again soon. In the meantime, I hope that the rest of December is filled with glitter and starshine and wishes come true for you.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Once a story-teller...

I hereby nominate artlife's thread on the Etsy forums as the best Etsy forum thread ever. She asked sellers to make a story from their items. The posts are hugely entertaining, and I hope people will keep adding to this thread, because I want more stories to read! Go check it out...

Mine is:

paintandink says:
Last year, we went for a voyage on our little schooner:

To track the migration pattern of the orange-scaled sea serpent:

but the magnetic pole shifted, and we got lost:

and were shipwrecked on the perilous rocks of a forgotten island:

where we found lots of treasure and ate mangoes until we were rescued by a brig:

and dropped off in the Realm of Good Cheer:

where we bought ourselves a new schooner:

and some prime real estate, too:

And that's what I did on my summer vacation.

In other Interimaginational Institute news, it's been a whirlwind few weeks... one of my treasure maps (similar to the one here) was featured in the Etsy Finds newsletter (what an honor!), which set off an unexpected cascade of sales and kept me bustling on the afternoon of the very first morning of my new part-time job. It was quite mayhem-ish and sleepless here in the studio, but it was also oh-so-wonderful to feel so loved.

There are still plenty of wonderful items in the shop, though, and I'm working busily to replenish the "shelves," so please stop in and take a look. You may just find the perfect gift for your favorite swashbuckler, buccaneer, pirate, prince, princess, troubadour or story-teller.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Twenty Years Ago Today...

... and about 13 hours ago from this moment, I was 12-going-on-13, sitting in a chair in a hospital room, finishing a Sweet Valley Twins book, waiting for my brother to arrive. I was lucky to be there when he was born.

And I am still lucky to have him for a brother. He's a lot taller than I am now, but I'm still proud to be his big sister. Happy Birthday, Vinnie.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Artifying of Life

I found this article about the role of art in human existence quite compelling:

The Dance of Evolution, or How Art Got Its Start
(The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2007)

I particularly liked this passage:
Art, she and others have proposed, did not arise to spotlight the few, but rather to summon the many to come join the parade — a proposal not surprisingly shared by our hora teacher, Steven Brown of Simon Fraser University. Through singing, dancing, painting, telling fables of neurotic mobsters who visit psychiatrists, and otherwise engaging in what Ms. Dissanayake calls “artifying,” people can be quickly and ebulliently drawn together, and even strangers persuaded to treat one another as kin. Through the harmonic magic of art, the relative weakness of the individual can be traded up for the strength of the hive, cohered into a social unit ready to take on the world.
I think it's particularly intriguing that Ellen Dissanayake, an "independent scholar" and the main subject of the article, does not have a doctorate (as the author points out), but has written books that are "considered classics among Darwinian theorists and art historians alike." I know nothing more about Ms. Dissanayake than what I read in this article, but to bring together such diverse groups of people and achieve recognition without those three little letters after one's name is an accomplishment that sets an admirable example and gives me hope.

If you'd like to read the article, hurry, because The New York Times archives them quickly.

Via Arts & Letters Daily, which I like so much, I made it my home page. It makes me feel so intellectual...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How to take a shortcut

If you'd like to look at a whole selection of Etsy sellers at once, you can see a sampling of the wares for sale by a number of sellers in different categories here:

It's a gallery of Etsy minis like this one of my own shop:

and I've submitted my shop for inclusion in the Art & Illustrations category.

It's a terrific way to see a wide variety of available items at a glance. Just click on a photograph to be taken to the page for that item, or click on the shopowner's name in blue beneath the items. Many thanks to the people who are volunteering their time and effort to maintain the site.

And don't forget that you can see more shop directories and read reviews of shops by customers at, including a review of my own shop, the Interimaginational Institute for Fantastical Exploration & Cartography.

And, before I launch into the 10,001 reasons you ought to buy handmade items this year, I'll give you my favorite: because handmade is as unique as it gets.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Curious What the Fuss is About?

I talk a lot about Etsy on this site, but still I'm not sure that very many people know much about it, so here's two nutshells' worth (first someone else's nutshell, then my own nutshell).

Essentially, it's an online marketplace on which anyone can open shop as long as they are selling in one of three categories: handmade items (i.e. art, jewelry, pottery, furniture), vintage (over 20 years old), or supplies (beads, paper, yarn, etc.). The great focus is on handmade items, and you can find anything from a firepit for your backyard to a purse made from a hardcover Nancy Drew book to an original painting on gallery-wrapped canvas.

It is not an auction site; the prices are set by the seller. Just like Ebay, however, Etsy itself doesn't handle the actual payment, so once a sale is "completed" on Etsy, the buyer still must proceed with a payment method. Sellers offer a number of methods of payments, from PayPal to check to bank transfer (in Europe); most prefer PayPal (which has come a long way in recent years - you don't even need a PayPal account to use PayPal to pay with a credit card and the seller still won't have your credit card details).

There are some drawbacks: the search function is less than perfect, but still functional (the main catch being that if you wish to exclude things from your search, you must use the word "NOT" in front of a word, instead of a minus sign as you would on the Internet). And the features are not necessarily intuitive. Many have odd names and so you must explore them to figure out what they are (like Time Machine 2, which shows what has just been listed, and I think is the BEST way to get an overview of what's selling on Etsy, and Treasury, which is a great way to be introduced to new sellers and have someone else do the searching for the really cool items you might not find just browsing). If you're looking for something specific, the category list is probably the most basic way to find things.

Prices vary widely, so you can find something for any budget. And the quality of items for sale varies widely, too, sometimes even within one person's shop. But I think most people would be impressed at the way the average quality skews heavily in the direction of excellent, unbelievable, even awe-inspiring.

In short, Etsy is a fantastic place to do your holiday shopping. And although all prices are in U.S. dollars, it's not limited to U.S. residents; there are both buyers and sellers from all over the world. One of them might be your neighbor. And, with limitations, most people will ship all over the world too (the limitations mostly concern things like soap or perfume that might be prohibited in customs regulations).

If you're still wondering why you'd want to buy handmade, I'll answer that in an upcoming post. In the meantime, just go check Etsy out.

I See a Blue Star!

I just snagged my first Etsy treasury as curator! I am so proud.

When you find yourself featured in an Etsy treasury, you'll see a gold star next to the name of the treasury (always a thrill). When you're an alternate in a treasury (so that if an item is sold, one of yours might take its place), you see a silver star (still a thrill). And now I can tell you, from first-hand experience, that as curator, you see a blue star.

All very exciting.

My treasury is called "Widdershins" and features the art of the members of Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE). Please take a look; it's one of the rare times you don't have to go clockwise or backwards to get to fairy land. All you have to do is click: Widdershins.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Send out joy, and it comes back

The first rewarding thing about being an artist is making things that make me happy. It is a wonderful feeling to see something - a kingdom, an ocean, a sea monster, a ship - come to life at my fingertips, saturated in color, or antiqued just so, and that's what keeps me going back to the drawing table.

But the second rewarding thing about being an artist is making things that make other people happy, and that's what keeps me putting my paintings out there for everyone else to see. I know it sounds cheesy, but I like to think I'm making the world a little bit more joyful, one painted map at a time.

So each time someone tells me, directly or indirectly, how much they like my paintings, it makes my day. It's that joy, coming back. This weekend, I was honored to learn that one of my customers submitted a lovely review of my shop and of the artwork she purchased to You can read the review here: Etsy Shop Review of the Interimaginational Institute.

Friday, November 23, 2007


I have had some kind of blogophobia lately. I have all these great post ideas in my head, which I compose eloquently and profoundly in my head at the gym, or in the car, or in line at 5 a.m. on Black Friday*, but have no time to sit and write them out while also shooting, editing and uploading photographs to perfectly illustrate my words.


But since it was Thanksgiving here yesterday, I just wanted to make sure that you all know just how grateful I am to have you, my blog readers and friends, in my life. You are all over the world and yet all somehow manage to stop by my studio for a chat, a hello, a laugh on a pretty regular basis, as if we were all just around the corner from each other. I am so glad to know you, whether or not I've ever met you in person. Thank you for being there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*For those not here in the U.S., Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the start of the Christmas shopping season, on which retailers offer crazy sales designed to bring the masses into their stores with their hard-earned cash. These sales usually involve such deep discounts that people have been known to camp out overnight to be first in line in the morning. Other people, not that much less insane, have been known to wake up at 4 a.m. just because a particular computer might have been knocked down $300, thus bringing untold gigabytes of speed and memory into the realm of possibility (for another member of the family). Those other people, or that other person, rather, after two hours in line, then had the good sanity to tuck said computer, self, and freshly purchased Starbucks into the car and hightail it home, safely avoiding the legendary automobile accidents that give the day its nickname and luckily avoiding the state troopers out preventing those same accidents by issuing speeding tickets.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday News Bulletin

Only a few days until the Handmade Parade this Saturday in Norfolk -- I am so excited and, simultaneously terrified that I've forgotten to do something really important. I'll probably have dreams the night before like the ones I used to have before a big exam in college. You know, the ones where you oversleep and show up two days late, or show up empty-handed, or worst of all, show up naked. But I actually think it's going to be great fun, and I am looking forward both to peddling my wares again and to meeting other local artists and crafters.

If you are anywhere nearby - oh, say within a thousand miles or so - please do stop by and do a little shopping.* It isn't too soon to stock up on all your birthday gifts for next year, and it definitely isn't too soon to do a little holiday shopping. And what better gifts to give than handcrafted ones made with care and skill by people you can meet in person? I'm coming to believe that, along with turning off lightbulbs not in use, buying handmade might be one of the best things you can do to change the world.

In Etsy news, I have mentioned that I am proud to be a member of the Fantasy Artists of Etsy, and now I'm delighted to announce that my profile has been posted on the group's blog. You can check it out here, and learn some of the reasons I do what I do.

I'm also pleased to announce that I have created a portfolio at Trunkt, the Buyer's Guide to Independent Art and Design, a showcase of artists, artisans and fine crafters. My profile is here: It is a true honor to be accepted into Trunkt, because I have yet to see something on the site that isn't well-crafted and lovely.

* For your shopping convenience, I am now set up to to accept credit cards!

Balancing on Top of the World


Our weekend trip to western Virginia was lovely. We thought we would stay around Charlottesville for the night, but ended up driving through Lynchburg, which seemed strangely and eerily deserted until we reached the shopping malls outside of town, and then on to Roanoke, which was also strange in its own way. It's a cool little Eastern city, with the feel of a section plucked out of New York or Philadelphia, with clusters of of independent stores and restaurants. But since the streetlights didn't go on until about two hours after full darkness, even though the streets weren't exactly deserted, it felt surreal and other-worldly. When they did go on, the city became quite charming.


The next day we drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway, the southern equivalent of Skyline Drive. It was a beautiful, foliage-filled drive, albeit a bit chilly and cloudy, and breathtaking in more than one way.


It truly is a ridge, far above the land, with non-guardrailed twists and turns 1800 feet above the valleys on either side. Breathtaking, indeed. Poor Al had to try to ignore my sharp gasps and my clutching whatever was close at hand every time we came to a turn. I'm sure there was plenty of room, but I make a much better driver than passenger.

The clouds, and a haze over the valleys, not to mention the photographer's ineptitude with her new camera, did not let the glorious, frootloopish colors show themselves off in their full glory. But never fear, I had my turn-everything-into-a-Maxfield-Parrish-scene sunglasses on. Let me demonstrate.

Without sunglasses:


With sunglasses:


We did leave the parkway for a little, descending into the valley below to see if we could find the Natural Bridge, which we somehow missed, but we found something else instead. Al suddenly said, "Was that Stonehenge up there on the hill?"

Foamhenge (BlueRidge087)

Foamhenge (BlueRidge091)

No, not Stonehenge. Foamhenge.

Foamhenge (BlueRidge103)

Foamhenge (BlueRidge100)

Foamhenge (BlueRidge097)

For the last stretch of our parkway drive, the sun came out for good, allowing for some nice rambles on short trails, and some cheerfully brighter photographs. A fantastic weekend getaway.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Victoria, darling

I am sorting through photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway to share, but I couldn't WAIT to let you know that Victoria magazine is available for subscription, and it seems the first issue may have already gone out (I hope I'm not to late for that one). It looks delicious. I am so, so delighted.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Spring into Fall

Outside our living room

It may be a pity, but I don't look out the side window of our living room often. I open the drapes every day, but I usually am actually looking at the drapes, since they have an unfortunate tendency to come crashing down on my head, followed by the curtain rod, which may be a cheap Ikea curtain rod, but hurts no less when it comes into my skull at three times the speed of sound. You can see why proper vigilance is necessary when opening the drapes.

So I was not a little surprised, and very excited, when, yesterday, overcome by the glory of the beautiful, wonderful, lusciously warm, one-last-summer-fling weather, I flung all the windows open and realized that one of our ubiquitous overgrown bushes on the side of our house was quietly celebrating in its own way.

I haven't left the house yet today, but I am under the impression from those stern weathercasters that it is much, much colder, and I certainly haven't seen the sun, even though my studio is in the sunniest corner of the house. And I'm not terribly sad about that, because summer has been a houseguest much longer than usual. But I'm glad I actually stopped for a moment yesterday and really appreciated the niceness of it all.

This weekend, Al and I are thinking of taking a jaunt into the Shenandoah Valley in the hopes of seeing some fall foliage and to welcome Fall, who has been running a little late and a little disheveled and a little scatter-brained, and just because of that, is a kindred spirit of mine.

Shenandoah 4 Winding Road

Shenandoah 3 Tree

Shenandoah 2

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the first full day of my first road trip, and these photographs are from that first day. I took the photos from Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, a place I just happened to spot on the map and decided to drive through on a whim, instead of covering the same distance on the Interstate. Shenandoah is such a charming word, isn't it?

As always, these photographs can't even begin to do it justice. I can't remember what I did last week, but I can remember the other people I saw on that road; the things I didn't take photographs of, but should have; the exact feeling of awe that overcame me when I realized how lucky I was to be in such a beautiful place. It was stunning. Glorious. Magnificent.

I hope your day is just as magnificent today.

Happy Fall, Happy Day of the Dead, Happy All Soul's Day, Happy November.

The Perfect Souvenir

Who could imagine going on a trip to new and exciting (or even old and familiar) lands without bringing back a little memento or two, for yourself or for the people who kept the home fires burning?

Now you can even bring back souvenirs from your journeys into story and fable. Introducing my new line of magnets from imaginary places:

Treasure Map Circles Magnet Set

Happiness and Zest Magnet Sets

Fairy Tale Kingdom Magnet Set

Monster & Island Magnet (in use)

Lands of Happiness Magnet Set

Magnet Collection

The images are fragments from reproductions of my original watercolors. They are decoupaged onto wood, in most cases hand-painted or hand-stained (but some are left natural), and a strong round magnet is attached to the back. Some will be available in sets while others will stand alone, and there will be a variety of sizes and prices.

I will be reserving most of them to take with me to the Handmade Parade on November 10, but a selected few are already available in the shop. Please take a look!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Washoe & Me

I promise this isn't going to become a photo-free, eulogy only blog, but I just wanted to give a shout out (this generation's moment of silence) to Washoe, the sign-languaging chimpanzee.

You know, when you're growing up, and you think that everything around you is yours? It's your street, your city, your supermarket, your university (because you walked across it every day in high school to catch the bus, even if you never once attended a class there, and ended up leaving the state to go to a completely different university).

Well, I never met Washoe the chimpanzee, but Reno, where I grew up, is in Washoe County, Nevada, and when I first learned about Washoe the chimpanzee in elementary school, even though by that time she hadn't lived in Reno in a long, long time, I sure thought she was mine. I have always felt a connection to her just because, well, we both had a connection to the word Washoe and I liked chimpanzees. Flimsy reasons for an emotional bond, perhaps, but I thought she was really cool. So I just wanted to wave good-bye.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rain, rain, you can stay...

... for a little while, anyway.

I think the skies are trying to make up in two days what they slacked off on all summer.

I know what that's like.

Use What You've Got.

If you were on an island with no paper, and you had to make a map of the island so you could remember many years down the road where you had buried your fabulous treasure and pass that information on to your wily pirate protege, what would you do?

Use wood, of course.

Claw Island

Deception Island

Sea of the Sun

Introducing my latest project, treasure maps on wood. These will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10, and if they are still with me at the end of the show, will then make their way into my shop.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For the First Time Ever...

...I really did just spew coffee all over my keyboard. I've spit, gurgled and snorted coffee while looking at things online before, but this was the real deal.

I totally spaced on giving credit... I found this video via Bel's Nook. (Sorry, Belinda!)

Feeling Oh So Good.

I don't think being featured in an Etsy treasury could ever lose its thrill. Seeing the little gold star that means one of my items is featured in a treasury totally makes my day.

This time, my Rainbow Serpent painting is featured in "Pinky's Feel Good Treasury," curated by Sharona Reouveni, aka raisinlike. Sharona makes puppets, my favorite of which is Max the Martian, who, like me, eats his French fries with mayonnaise.

I have always loved puppets -- who wouldn't, growing up in The Muppet Show era? But they've taken a new place of prominence in our lives lately, since a coworker of my husband lent him two DVDs of comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.

I don't even like standup that much. And before the puppets came out of the suitcase, when he was just warming up alone on stage, I thought, who is this guy and why in the world did they give him a standing ovation?" But ever since the purple puppet Peanut started singing "Jef-fuh-fah... DunHAM... dotcooooooooommmmmm!", we have been walking around the house doing the same. Sometimes in round robin. Now, a man who can get perfect strangers across the country to walk around singing the name of his web site is an absolute genius. Jeff Dunham, therefore... a genius. And oh so funny. And, yes, he's outrageously talented.

You can watch clips here, but I highly recommend begging, borrowing, or, uh, well we don't sanction illegal behavior on this blog, but getting your hands on a copy of Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself or Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity (that's the one with "Jef-fuh-fah... DunHAM... dotcooooooooommmmmm!", I think).

And if you have a moment, do stop by the treasury today.

*member-curated galleries that are posted online from two to three days

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oasis in the Desert

Northern Nevada is a different kind of desert from that of most people's imagination. The only cactus I've ever seen there is the one I tried to grow in our greenhouse window as a kid. I killed it by overwatering it. I think I watered it once a week. Ungrateful little cactus.

I grew up 12 miles north of Reno, in a community called Stead (technically in the Reno city limits), half a mile or so from the Stead airport, where the Reno air races are held. The land is mostly brown dirt, and the main vegetation is sagebrush (this is our neighborhood around 1988, shot by my stepfather from a glider).

Stead from Glider ca 1988

Sagebrush smells incredible in the rain, but as you can imagine, there's not a lot of rain in the desert. I am sure that experts would tell me that there is a lot of life that I don't see, and I am sure they'd be right, and certainly the mountains have a lot of beautiful trees. But that's what the Nevada desert is to me. Dirt and sagebrush. I think it's beautiful. But it isn't what I'd call lush.


Stead and the surrounding area have grown substantially since I moved away in the early 90s, so much so that the last time I flew into Reno after dark, I had no idea I was flying over my own neighborhood. The lights of Stead had more than doubled and the whole mass of lights had changed shape, from a long recognizable strip of populated land to a shapeless blob (these are some of the new houses).


A lot of that growth is warehouses; for whatever reason, the area seems to hold appeal for large national companies, perhaps because the land is cheap, or because there is a railroad spur out there, already in place. So imagine my surprise when my mother, on my road trip, insisted that there were wetlands out in the desert. And she drove me back behind some warehouses, which cover the land where we once went dirt-bike-riding.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (32)

I knew there were no wetlands out there. It's the desert.

I was wrong.

These two photos are walking distance apart.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (29)

Thanks to the Nevada Army National Guard, the Bureau of Land Management, the Lahontan Audubon Society, and a host of other organizations, there have been 1,800 acres of wetlands out there, known as the Swan Lake Nature Study Area, since 1999. The marsh was already there, it seems, unknown to most and therefore unappreciated, and in need of some protection.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (12)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (0)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (10)

It is quiet, and peaceful, a true sanctuary.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (5)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (16)

More than 150 species of birds have been spotted there.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (1)

So let me please take this opportunity to say I am really sorry about the "indiscriminate use by dirt bikes." I had no idea we were disturbing the birds. I really had no idea there were any birds.

Thank you to those people who worked so hard to conserve an incredible resource. (The world could use more people like you.) As much as I love the dusty majesty of the high desert, it is sweetly enchanting to know there is this secret greenery tucked behind the warehouses and the sagebrush.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bravo, Etsy.

Check it out... Etsy not only made it on to Time's list of the 50 best web sites of 2007, but made it all the way to number 5. Fantastic!

Etsy deserves the honor. It not only gives those of us who make things a usable and dedicated space to peddle our wares, it gives buyers an easy way to find affordable, quality handmade goods, a true luxury in today's world.

Now I have to wrestle the temptation to spend the rest of the day looking at the other 49 web sites.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Not-so-shady Dealings

I am pleased to announce that I am officially going to be a vendor at the Norfolk Craft Mafia's Handmade Parade. I always thought it would be exciting to be involved with the mafia, and I can now confirm, yes, I am pretty excited! If you're anywhere nearby, please stop by.

Let's have a toast!

Hooray, hooray!
Two posts in one day!

There are some days when rhyming is just impossible to avoid. But this post is short, too, because it's late in the evening (now I have Paul Simon's voice in my head), and I am about to eat dinner (burritos, yum). Just wanted to let you know that I'm officially going to be a vendor at the Norfolk Craft Mafia's Handmade Parade (hooray! hooray!).

If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello! Remember, it's organized by the mafia, so I will once again be delighted to bribe people to stop at my table.

On the Other Side (of the World)

This pirouetting dancer is interesting. I see her going clockwise, and although I've always thought that I am right-brained with a good dose of left-brainedness, I cannot get her to change direction.

Via Five and a Half.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Treasury Map

It's a very lucky day for me... My artwork is featured in two Etsy treasuries at once! Wowza. Yippee!

My Kingdom of Delight print is featured in Happily Ever After


My brand-new tiny framed original, Four Masts, is featured in Sailing Like Columbus.

Stop by soon, because that first one is expiring in three hours. Thank you, piratesandpixies and kerri9494!

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I've just listed a few of my framed mini paintings and maps in my Etsy shop -- what's the French for "ready-to-hang?" Pret-a-hanger?

Let me know what you think! My favorite is, well, no, I won't tell you that. They're all my favorites.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


The convention was great fun and a fantastic (no pun intended, really) learning experience. Mainly, I learned that peddling my wares to crowds of strangers is a lot more fun and a lot less overwhelming that I had expected. I will actually be looking forward to the next time, now, instead of stressing so needlessly.

You can read more and see pictures of my table here (I'm really proud of that table). I didn't sell a whole lot, but I had a very good time, especially once Al brought me coffee on Saturday. I got a lot of attention, which felt good, and received a lot of compliments. I did learn that I actually am more energetic when I am trying to keep myself awake, because I stand up and move around and reach out to people more, than when I've had a full night's sleep, in which case, such as on Sunday, I am far more mellow and quiet and far less interesting. Strange, eh? So clearly, next time, I should stay up until 2 a.m. the night before, like I did this time. Of course, my exhaustion might have made some strange things come out of my mouth. I'm not sure.

Also, I have received the tremendous compliment of a wonderful review on Mrs. Dragon's blog, here. It is always a bit strange to see yourself through other people's eyes; she has made it feel great.

As for the uncreative title of this post, yeah, sorry about that. I'm just getting back into the swing of things, back on track. Seems I'm always trying to do that. One of these days, I might actually be good at it.

And speaking of the swing of things, I generally try keep this blog free of sports and politics, but I must just say, GO PHILS. What a feat. I knew you could do it. Thanks for the most nail-biting week of baseball I've ever watched. I'll be telling my grandkids about this. Woo-hoo!

Speechlessly honored

Mrs. Dragon, of Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE), has featured my artwork on her blog this week. I have no words of my own to express the gratitude I feel for her words. It's a tremendous honor to be highlighted, an even bigger honor to be highlighted so eloquently, beautifully, charmingly.

I feel a little like Sally Field right now, and that's not a bad thing.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Showing off

My first live-and-in-person art show/sale was a great success. A few of my magnets and prints and one of my very favorite paintings are on their way to new homes, and I wish them well in their journey (and I hope I get used to this sweet sadness when I say goodbye to an original, because it is such an incredible feeling to think of other people gracing their walls with my paintings).

Equally as important, this was a fantastic opportunity to explore the public side of being an artist. The event was not huge, which was a great thing for me, because I never felt overwhelmed, and I also had a chance to practice reaching out to passersby and talking to people without worrying too much about interrupting one person to talk to someone else.

Of course, it always helps to offer chocolate. Sometimes, I practically shouted, "Hey! Come get some treasure!" And people would give me a funny look, which in itself is not necessarily uncommon at an event like this one, and then edge closer, and look at me questioningly, and I'd add more quietly, "It's chocolate." I think it is a worthy goal to make the world a better place by handing out free chocolate.

But I was both surprised and delighted by how many people stopped by my table even before the offer of chocolate. So many compliments and questions and conversations about maps and cartography. Many people signed up for my mailing list, took brochures and took MOO cards. (If you're one of them, hello and welcome and thank you for stopping by! Please let me know you're here!).

I was very proud of the way I set up my table - after hours of tormented thought about where I could find a tablecloth big enough for a ten-foot table, it occurred to me that a canvas dropcloth, the house-painting kind - would be a bit like a ship's sail. Perhaps too big for me to iron, but attractive nonetheless. Al suggested the fishing net and the shells, and he built the display board for the little paintings.

The treasure chests were a natural display option; and I am very, very pleased by the "brass" sign for the Interimaginational Institute. I wanted it to look like the brass plaque one might find outside some kind of Victorian academic society housed in a pompous stone building in an old city, and in the right light, I think it does.

Next time, I'd like to add some more props to the fantasy/make-believe side of things... I love the way the net and treasure accented the treasure maps, but the realms and lands were slightly underflaunted, even if they didn't complain, not once. The purple velvet scarf - a hand-me-down I've had tucked away for years - was a good royal touch, though.

All in all, a great first outing. AND, as you see, I got to dress up, which is always a good reason to get up in the morning.

The larger paintings, I hope, pending my acceptance to the show, will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10; until it is time to prepare for that show, I will make some of the smaller framed mini-paintings available on my Etsy shop, starting tomorrow afternoon. The magnets (which I don't make by hand) are available on my Cafe Press site. I will be experimenting with my own handmade magnet recipe soon, so keep an eye out for those!

Happy travels, my friends.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Observations on This Modern World

A disadvantage of living in a world with e-mail is that when I am expecting something to arrive in the regular mail, I have an impulse to go check our mailbox every ten minutes, even if the mail has already come for the day.

And a disadvantage of living in a world with cell phones is that whenever I misplace something - anything - I have the urge to call it so I can figure out where it is. Sadly, my wallet, keys and sunglasses did not come with telephone numbers. They should. (Fortunately for me, when I lose those things, I usually lose them in the same places every time, and my husband knows where those places are.)

Things overheard on the road trip

"Guess what? Your car goes 95!"

"They didn't say the speed limit was 40. They said the highway was 40."

"Wouldn't it be great to have enough money to buy stolen art?"


If I'm absent a great deal this week, from my own blog or yours, please forgive me. The FantaSci convention, at which I've rented a table to sell my paintings (live and in person for the very first time!), is this weekend, and I'm starting to hyperventilate. So many things I never even knew I had to do, so many things I forgot I had to do, so many things I just plain have to do. So little time.

And yet, I think it's going to be great fun. If you're in the area, please stop by.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If I could say this without words...

In fourth or fifth grade, our elementary school, which at the time was pretty isolated in the deserts north of Reno, held a talent show. I was always a super shy kid, one of those nerdy kids, with purple glasses and a bad perm, who was perpetually teased, and had no idea how to get around that. But for some reason, I signed up for the talent show. I played the piano, but I didn't think of that as a talent. It was just something I did. I wanted to do something extraordinary for the talent show. So I decided to create a mime act.

I didn't know anything about miming - I'd never done it before - and I don't remember the plot exactly, except that I was camping and at one point I got marshmallows stuck all over my fingers.

I do remember the laughter, and the applause, and the kids who came running up to me for months on the playground to say, "You're the girl who was the mime!"

I'd love to say that I suddenly became one of the most popular kids in school, that I miraculously gained social skills, that life was great after that. I didn't and life stayed pretty much the same. In fact, the attention made me a bit uncomfortable and even more awkward, and eventually, it faded. And I didn't even begin to gain the few social skills I have until the very end of high school.

But for a short time, inside, I felt wonderful. I felt confident. I felt like a success. And even though I probably didn't know his name at the time, and still don't know that much about him, I think I owe some of that to Marcel Marceau, who died yesterday at 84.

Bravo, Mr. Marceau, and thank you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shiver Me Timbers!

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! What better holiday is there?

Learn the lingo here. And even my German-speaking friends can learn to speak like a pirate here. And my Swedish-speaking friends can listen to Swedish pirate-speak here. And, yep, my Chinese-speaking friends (not sure I have any, yet, but if I do...) can find Chinese-pirate-speak clips on this page, too. See? Told you it was international.

I think I'll celebrate by drawing more treasure maps and raiding the rum. Later. After I draw the treasure maps.

(Coincidentally, I am listening on my iPod to Buccaneers and the Pirates of our Coast, by Frank Richard Stockton; I downloaded it from LibriVox, and it's so compelling that I find myself looking forward to going to the gym or getting in the car, just so I can listen to some more. It's like stepping into another world. Now that's good "reading," my friends.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It's love, not obsession.

With ships, that is. And the ocean. All oceans. And any large body of water, really.


As promised on my other blog, here are photos from my recent day trip up to Onancock.


Remember back when I went to see the tall ships in Norfolk, and couldn't identify one ship? Imagine my delight at finding it right in front of me, again. Like running into an old friend. (Just an old friend whose name I can't remember... which, really, isn't all that uncommon in my case.) And this time, I got to step aboard.


The ship is the Godspeed, a replica of one of the three ships English colonists traveled in to establish Jamestown in 1607.




As I drove home, I crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and crossed the same waters that those original colonists, caught in a terrible storm in the Atlantic, were blown into. Lucky for them.


(This view is looking west into the Chesapeake Bay from a pullout on the northern end of the bridge. So there is land in that direction. You can see a little bit on the right hand side as a sort of wiggle in the horizon. The size of the Chesapeake Bay awes me. Someday, I'd like to really explore it. You know, when I build my own ship.)



Yes, a good day. Filled with love.