Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Little Wackiness Around Here

I hope this finds you all well and happy and having celebrated a wonderful holiday season, whichever holidays you celebrate!

I thought it only fair to announce that you may notice some weirdness with my template; I am working on a main, central web site, and somehow my Blogger template affects how my blog is published to said site. So until I get that worked out (the figuring out of which sort of feels like making my way through a maze filled with peanut butter and jelly while blindfolded and wearing scuba fins), this blog might not look pretty.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Maps and Artwork at the IIFEC

Treasure on the Golden Sea, 7"x5", ink and watercolor on paper

Scallywag Island, 3.5"x5.5", ink and watercolor on paper

Smithereens Islands, 5"x7", ink and watercolor on paper

The Jewel Thief, 7" x 5", ink and watercolor on paper

Tranquil Island, 5.5"x3.5", ink and watercolor on paper

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Big News, or Why I've Been Absent From Blogging

I'm expecting.

I've been busy sleeping, eating, buying bigger clothes...did I mention sleeping and eating? Actually, I haven't been sleeping nearly as much as I would like to, but I've been eating plenty. I seem to be one of those women for whom the only cure for morning sickness is to eat more... all the time, actually.

Tomorrow will be 13 weeks, and our baby (aka The Blueberry) is due on June 7.

And I'm already turning around ideas for The Blueberry's first map in my head.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wild Things Are Beautiful

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." - Madeleine L'Engle.
We saw Where the Wild Things Are last weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the few expectations I had were low. I heard so many poor reviews before that I am not sure why I insisted on going anyway. After my disappointing boredom with The Time Traveler's Wife, I've decided I'm not obligated to go see movies just because I love the book.

Where the Wild Things Are? It was stunning. Magical, even, although not in a stardust-and-loveliness, bring-back-the-joy-of-childhood kind of way. There was joy, but more than joy, this movie brought forth the heartache of childhood. And yet, it was magical in the way it coaxed out nine-year-old Alison and said, "I know."

It was not even a movie for kids, really, as much as for people who've survived childhood. It was sometimes difficult to watch. But it was also healing in a way I never dreamed it could be.

Emily of The Black Apple praised the movie's "honest portrayal of the razor-sharp loneliness often involved with being a kid," and I answered in her comments:
... yes. For me, Where the Wild Things Are was a beautiful, poignant depiction of my own childhood, particularly the helpless pain of conflict in a child's home. In the end, I thought it was a deeply sad movie, but a gloriously sad movie that gave me many reasons to be happy, with a very European sensibility and incredible lighting. It wasn't at all what I expected - or indeed, what I think many people wanted - but ultimately, it was so much more. For me, it was soothing.
It's a very particular movie.
The movie, by necessity, had to go way beyond the few words of the book. It takes the map laid out by the book, and finds its own way along the same road, but on a different journey. I can understand that many people wouldn't like it or connect with it, and I can even see how it might be hard for people who expected a sweet kid's movie to appreciate the deep, subtle stories woven throughout, highlighted in specific moments, like the way Max's mother looks at him as he sits at the table eating his supper.

But I loved it and am deeply grateful to Spike Jonze for making just the movie I needed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Around the World, Under Water

I am greatly honored to announce the 2010 Dolphin Scholarship Foundation Cartoon Calendar, for which I created the cover artwork. My map celebrates the 50th anniversary of both DSF and the world's first submerged circumnavigation, by the nuclear submarine USS TRITON.

The TRITON's route followed closely the same route as Magellan, whose ship, Victoria, you see on the right (the surviving ship, that is). And the gentleman in the upper left hand corner is not Poseidon (Neptune), but his son... Triton.

Also, the banner could/should read USS TRITON (SSRN/SSN 586), but the submarine was an SSRN at the time of the circumnavigation in 1960; it was reclassified in 1961.

U.S. Navy photograph, obtained here.

To learn more about the TRITON, visit here and here.

To order the calendar, which also features a selection of cartoons about submarine life, and to find out more about DSF, which provides scholarships to children of submariners, visit

Friday, October 16, 2009

Contemporary Art, Historical Inspiration

I am delighted to announce that a number of my original maps and other paintings will be available at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia shop through December. The paintings include quite a few of both miniature framed paintings and larger matted originals (ranging in size from 3" x 5" to 8" x 10":

Mysteria, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper, matted, $150

It's an Island-Eat-Island World, 2.5" x 3", ink and watercolor on paper, framed, $30

Land of a Thousand Rainbows, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper, matted, $150

Submarine No. 4, 2.5" x 3.5", ink and watercolor on paper, framed, $30

Rascal's Island Treasure Map, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper, matted, $150

Monday, September 21, 2009

Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgh and all that...

Talk Like a Pirate Day weekend at the Mariners' Museum was fantastic. Among other things, I met some astonishingly beautiful macaws and parrots (including an African grey like Alex), a Jack Sparrow impersonator who was brilliant, and a real paleontologist. I am very excited about meeting a real paleontologist.

I cobbled together pirate garb from my old SCA garb, and I think I did a halfway decent job.

It may not look like much in the photo, but my display is getting better and better. I spent almost all day Friday finishing my tablecloths, which I sewed by hand because I still don't know how to use a sewing machine, even though I own two (and a half). Turns out, the hand-sewn look is a perfect complement to my artwork.

The wrinkled look, not so much, but I haven't figured out yet how to prevent that - I can iron them until I need to turn the house's AC up, and they still get wrecked by the time I get to the event. I don't want to take an iron with me if I can avoid it, so I will have to start experimenting with starches.

In trying to find a way to wrap the newest tablecloth to cover the table ends, I stumbled on the idea of rope and grommets:

Turned out as well as I had hoped, and well worth the pain and finger jabs.

Here are some photos from the Towne Place at Greenbrier show last weekend. The first shot is the "before" shot of the tablecloth above (you'll see that it's too long on the wide ends and too short on the short ends, and why I am especially pleased with the new look in comparison):

The Towne Place show was my first outdoor event with my own tent, and it was very exciting. I have always loved the idea of my own portable, but defined space - I am infatuated with the idea of RVs and boats and tinker wagons - and having my own tent was a thrill for my inner wanderer, even though I only ended up putting up one and a half walls. Just having my own roof gave me a feeling of home.

Initially, I created a sort of hallway, so people could walk in from both directions, and around and through, and keep the flow going, but...

... after the sun started to hit the left side of the tent and heat up my artwork (lesson learned: know which way the sun will move), I moved the tables into an L shape and put up another half wall. I think I like this arrangement better, anyway.

Ultimately, my goal is to create an ambience for the tent that is a total experience - so that when people walk in, they feel that they are walking into a ship-slash-expeditionary camp (a la pirate-slash-Indiana Jones). It's a slow process, and right now, it's mostly in the small details, like my "shipping" crates below, but I definitely feel like I am on the right path.

Next, I will turn my hand to creating bigger displays for hanging artwork and embellishments for the outside of the tent.

I was wary of doing two events so close together, but I am so glad I did. They were so very different from each other, but I learned a lot from each - vending and hawking and selling do not come naturally to me, but I really do like meeting new people and seeing their reactions to my artwork - at least, most of the time - and I am thoroughly enjoying the set design aspect.

Not to mention talking like a pirate, and all that. Aaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I do remember.

I remember so many things about that day. So many details. I remember, most clearly, the vivid blue of the sky. God, it was a beautiful day that day. It was one of those days where you can't stop grinning, on the walk to work, because it's so beautiful outside. It was one of those days that you can't not notice the weather.

And then, only 20 minutes later and in the hours that followed, I remember the surprise, followed by shock, followed by ever-increasing horror. I was in Philadelphia, south of NYC, north of DC and east of Shanksville. I remember a feeling of panic because it seemed we were surrounded, with no escape. It wasn't distant. We knew people who were right there in the middle of it, and we watched it unfold, minute by minute.

I remember watching footage of New York as a journalist at the Department of Defense reported to the network by telephone. And I remember hearing the plane hit the Pentagon right in the middle of a sentence.

I remember making eye contact with a total stranger outside work, and breaking into tears. I remember how she hugged me. She didn't look like the hugging type.

I remember the firefighters and police who chose to put themselves in that place, because they cared about the lives of strangers. "Cared" doesn't even seem like a strong enough word. That is such an amazing thing to do - even just to take the chance of sacrificing your life for someone else. So I remember and respect the firefighters who survived, too.

And even though I didn't know them - although, like countless people on the East Coast, I know people who did - I remember the other people who died. The people on the planes. The people who were at work - who maybe walked to work grinning like I did, because it was so beautiful outside. The people in the Pentagon. The people who never knew what hit them, and the people on the planes and the higher floors of the World Trade Center, who, knowing there was no way out, called their family members to say good-bye.

I remember the people just like us.

I remember. So many people have ideas about the best kind of memorial. But I think the best way to remember is to live. To really live. To live the kinds of lives we would want people to talk about when we die.

To smile a lot. To laugh a lot. To live with zest. To love our family members as hard as we can, and to forgive them their faults as best we can. To forgive ourselves for our own faults. To truly savor the little, seemingly insignificant moments, like brushing our teeth or pouring a glass of iced tea. To really feel what we are touching, to really taste what we are eating, to really smell the flowers, to really live in the moment. To be kind to strangers, even when they don't return the favor, because they might be having a really bad day. To stop worrying so much. To stop blaming other people so much. To live fully, even in the bad moments. To thank people. To do the things we love and treat ourselves to the things that make us happy. To recognize when things are good and we are happy. To do our best to share that happiness with the world. To share our talents and give back in our own way. To care. To do the things we've always dreamed of doing, because it's now - or maybe never. To follow our dreams.

And most of all, on a really beautiful day, to look up at the sky, and grin, and take a deep breath, and say, "Wow, it's a beautiful day."

And it is, it really is.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


My latest map. Prints in the shop today; the original will follow after my upcoming events. I am particularly fond of this one.

Halloweenland, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper

How best to celebrate All Hallows Eve? With a trip to Halloweenland, of course. This Halloween map is the perfect guide to this mysterious place: from Spiderweb Crossing to the ghostly Spookville, from the city of Necropolis to the eerie Cauldron Lake, you'll see no end of mysterious, haunting sights, and meet plenty of ghosts, witches, zombies and other creatures of the night.

Take a headless horseback ride along Abracadabra Highway and Zombie Road, or float down the Magic Potion River on a raft steered by unseen spirits. And you'll see some amazing fall foliage while you're at it.

It will be a trip you'll never forget.

A fantastic Halloween decoration, and a perfect gift for any ghost, spirit, witch, goblin, zombie, monster, or fan of Halloween.

For Posterity

09/09/09 at 09:09:09

Because it's important to celebrate the little things in life.

And because this makes me laugh.

Happy 09/09/09!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

From Rascals to Rainbows

I know I promised seemingly elusive photographs of my recent trip abroad, and I promise those are still coming! Fifteen hundred photographs means a lot of sorting and batch-renaming, which I have just (finally) learned how to do on a Mac. Just so I can share a select few!

But in the meantime, I haven't been just twiddling my thumbs. I am pleased to offer new originals in the Interimaginational Institute shop (some of these have been available as prints for a few months, but the originals are officially mounted and matted and available for purchase by intrepid travelers of imaginary lands)!

These are some of my favorite maps, yet:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Midsummer Revelry

I am sorting through photos today in hopes of posting some UK photos soon -- I took 1400 photos, and all I have to say about that is that a 4GB memory card is a fabulous invention, and I don't feel like I took enough photos.

In the meantime, check out the beautiful artwork on display at the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Midsummer Revelry Exhibition.

I am especially fond of this copper cuff by tangocatgems:

and of this lovely girl (by Cat of Darkling Woods Studio), who happily reminds me of the illustrations in both A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Monday, June 22, 2009

En Route, With a Stop to Meet a Horse

I am en route, with an oh-so-brief stop in New Jersey to celebrate Father's Day with my dad, sister and stepmom, and we had the incredible opportunity to meet a 3-day-old filly on Saturday afternoon (it was pouring at first, hence the grayish cast to a lot of the photos, but let me tell you, this camera is aMAZing!).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How I Will Prove the Existence of the Loch Ness Monster

So I leave on the first leg of my England-Scotland trip (the leg where I go celebrate Father's Day with my Dad in New Jersey) on Saturday, and in preparation, I have been experimenting with my brand-new, not-really-all-that-shiny-but-still-very-pretty Nikon D40.

Aside from the fact that I was sold on Nikons through years of reading blogs - is it just me, or is this camera pervasive among art/craft bloggers? - the reviews I read before actually making the purchase were glowing. Probably the best reviews I've read for any product I've purchased in a long, long time. Glowing.

It's not hard to see why. The camera makes my front patio look interesting, and this is just pointing and shooting - I haven't yet added the filters (immediately, I promise!) or changed a single setting on the camera, and it's cloudy outside, as you can probably tell.

In fact, it makes grass look interesting. Well, I already find grass interesting. I find everything interesting. Except lima beans.

I keep saying that this trip - which is in support of a family friend, who is graduating from the University of Dundee - is going to be a great research opportunity, but since I managed to kill both of my compact cameras in the past months, I needed some way to actually document my research. You know, so I can take photos of castles, palaces, cottages, fairies, and the Loch Ness Monster.

I was tempted to take it back and trade it for a D60, solely out of megapixel greed (well, and to prevent those naysayers who will say my photo of Nessie is fake), but I've read hundreds of reviews in the past few days, and consensus seems to be that, unless perhaps you're a billboard photographer or make your main living with a digital camera, megapixels don't matter all that much these days. This is the page that convinced me.

I was also convinced by this photo, which may just look like a shoe to you, but in which I can see the texture of my shoe better than I can when I pick it up and hold it up to my face.

Hmm, maybe I should go see the optometrist again. But seriously? If you click on the photo, you'll see what I mean. This camera rocks.

Too bad this guy didn't have it:

Friday, June 05, 2009


I am hurriedly packing new prints, ironing tablecloths, checking my list and getting ready to run errands, so this is just a quick note in the middle of a very, very busy day to let you know that I and my maps will be at FantaSci tomorrow at the Chesapeake Central Library.

This event, when it was held at the Hampton Convention Center in 2007, was my first event ever, and I am excited to be a part of it again this year. I am also delighted that it is returning to the library, where it originated, and free and open to the public this year.

I'll have lots of maps there, including prints of The Land of a Thousand Rainbows:

and Rascal's Island Treasure Map:

and many, many more prints and originals. If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello!

Me at my first FantaSci.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Turn over that little pail and give me a drumroll, please...

A big thank you to everyone who signed up for my Etsyversary celebration giveaway, and thank you for the wonderful recipe suggestions.

Your names went into my happy new little blue bucket (from the Dollar Spot at Target...I try to not even look in that direction as I walk in the door, but they make it nearly irresistible when they have lovely things like this):

My husband was at work, and the cat doesn't have opposable thumbs, much to his chagrin, so I had to hold the pail out with one head, turn my head, scrunch my eyes closed, and draw out a name with the other hand:

Congratulations, Summer! Wishing you happy travels and many wonderful adventures with your Kingdom of Delight map!
And, while I'm at it, thank you to the three who signed up for part 2 of The Great Book Giveaway...

The winner of these three books is Marissa of Mama Sparkles, and they are on their way to you! I hope these books bring you much joy!

More giveaways coming this summer! These have been great fun for me, and I hope for you too, because I have lots more goodies to give away. I mean, lots and lots and lots.