2019: New Year, New Skills

This holiday season brought a lot of firsts for me, art-wise.

Back in 2015, my brother Jared helped me stumble onto wildlife painting–a passion I didn’t know I had–when he requested a painting of an Alaskan black bear:

Sushi for Dinner, 2015

I should’ve realized I would love wildlife as a subject matter, since my father fostered within me his love of the wild. But self-awareness is totally over-rated, right?

Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m turning my attention to a Christmas present for my other brother, Hunter. This project marked three firsts, two of which I’d heartily recommend. One not so much…. Continue reading “2019: New Year, New Skills”

A recent conversation between the husband and me:

Me: I really need to get enough sleep tonight. When we go to bed, can you remind me not to stay up late reading?

Husband: *Makes skeptical, non-committal noise*

Me: What?

Husband: I learned long ago not to come between a girl and her book.

Me: Really? Do I get snarly?

Husband: You definitely don’t get more friendly.

They say good communication skills are the cornerstone of a healthy marriage. Guess I’m doing something right.

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Because for this Texas gal, it’s not Christmas cookies done right unless there are a few cowboy hats, boots, and Lone-Star states thrown in among the snowmen and trees….

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Bite-Sized Book Reviews: “The Girl in the Tower”

If you’re a regular peruser of my blog, you may have noticed that I’m a fan of novels that incorporate mythology, fairytales, etc. I’m fascinated by the power of such stories–their ability to resonate across time, surviving all kinds of cultural upheaval to touch even modern readers, as they’ve touched readers throughout the preceding centuries. 

I’ll confess: Though I know there’s a wide world of folktales beyond this, I’m most familiar with the Western European canon. This is one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy–it affords a glimpse into the (to me) less familiar world of Russian stories.

Last November, I read book no. 1 in the series–The Bear and the Nightingale (review here)–and quite enjoyed it. Which made me both curious and leery of the sequel. I wanted to know what happened next… but a bad second book can ruin its predecessor. Continue reading “Bite-Sized Book Reviews: “The Girl in the Tower””

Today, I found myself in a molasses-slow line at my local DC post office. In trying to while away the what-felt-like-hours, the women waiting ahead of me got to chatting.

Somehow, the conversation wound its way to a stereotype claiming that Texas women are obsessively attached to their cosmetics (even to the point of slathering on lipstick pre-Cesarean section).

Being a proud Texas gal myself and friends with many a Texan-ess who rocks the bare face,  I was about to pipe up and offer some schooling:

“It’s a big state, y’all–we Texans aren’t all created equal! And where did this stupid stereotype even come from?!”

Fortunately, I gave the crowd one last gander… and realized I was the only one of six women wearing makeup. Because how long does it take to swipe on some mascara before you walk out the door?

Yep–Great strides were made today toward busting up clichés. 

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Bite-Sized Book Reviews: “Bitter Greens”

When I say I have a lit nerdy soul, I’m not exaggerating. My husband has to give me visual cues to “STOP TALKING” when he sees my impromptu lit lectures are losing our friends. I’ve begun timing myself to ensure I keep my comments about books under two minutes. I’ll often ask loved ones if they’re sure they want me to answer that lit-related question.

The last time I asked this, my brother thought for a minute, then said, “Let me go to the bathroom first.”

Not a good sign.

But that’s why I’m such a fan of Kate Forsyth. Her historical novels are inspired by fairy and folk tales, which is already enough to intrigue me. But even more than this, both Bitter Greens and The Wild Girl (which I adored [review here]) explore possible answers to mysteries in literary history. I think that’s just the coolest spark to start a novel.

Again, lit nerd here.

In the case of Bitter Greens, Forsyth looks to the tale of Rapunzel. She considers how Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de la Force, the 17th century French authoress who penned the version of Rapunzel we know and love, might’ve learned of the story. Because the tale, originally written in an Italian dialect, was not translated into a language accessible to de la Force until after her death. Continue reading “Bite-Sized Book Reviews: “Bitter Greens””

Ah, the twin hazards of being a freelance artist/writer: procrastination and performance anxiety.

As soon as I sit down at my watercolor block and pick up my brushes, I find myself convinced that the writerly muse has suddenly, decisively descended and I must return to my novel RIGHT. FRICKIN’. NOW.

The minute I pull up that chapter I’m re-writing for the second third fourth fifth time, my eyes sneak back toward my painting. I mean, is it really wise to give up the last good natural light of the day?

I think I might need a personal assistant. Just to set off the shock collar every time I think changing up activities every five minutes is a good way to be productive.

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