Paintings & Progress

Like everything else at this particular (and strange!) moment in human history, my upcoming art show is in a holding pattern. The original plan went like this: I’d hang my artwork somewhere at the end of May/beginning of June, then take it down (making way for the next artist) around September 1.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans….

Sometimes a pandemic intervenes.

And so I’m currently playing a game of will-they-won’t-they with my art show venue. They might open up on May 29, allowing me to hang my artwork… or they might not. And I can’t blame them. In the surreality of this pandemic and all its spin-off effects, I can sympathize with anyone’s erring on the side of caution.

But in the meantime, I’m painting in good faith–and hope. Because whenever those venue doors do open, I want to be ready with all 25 paintings. It’s taken a lot of prayer, beaucoup paint and time, and a serious workout for my brushes, but the past five weeks have seen me knocking out paintings 19-24 (no minor miracle, given that it usually takes me 4-6 weeks to finished one piece):

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Corona & Contemplation

I don’t think I’m the only person doing some serious contemplating during this strange time of illness, panic, isolation. Everything appears so uncertain, unknown. And, of course, with so many now stuck quarantining at home–days once jammed-packed now jerked to a halt–there’s a sudden excess of time to think.

I’m not sure about anybody else, but my brain is not always a safe place for me to wander alone.

Yet, I find myself facing a sudden shock of revelation–in this time of upset, I am not as “upset” as I’d expect. Despite everything, I’ve mostly felt at peace. And it’s because of the strangest thing: old heartaches.

To explain: Those who follow my blog will know that I married into the Foreign Service. The lifestyle offered by my husband’s job has afforded us many wonderful adventures–amazing things I never imagined I’d do: Cuddle baby tigers. Climb castles made of ice. Sleep in the heart of the rainforest. I wouldn’t trade it…. I don’t think.

And the uncertainty on that point comes from this: the Foreign Service life has also caused me a lot of pain.

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Painting & Palate Cleanses

No doubt about it: I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’m a tad appalled that it’s been one two three four months since I posted anything new.

But life off-screen has been a bit busier. There was Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the associated weeks of travel. My wonderful brother’s graduation. A trip down to the family ranch in Texas to celebrate my other wonderful brother’s engagement to a wonderful girl. A move into a new apartment (complete with sunroom/painting studio for me–squeal!) A slew of freelance editing and writing projects.

But perhaps the busiest bee in my hive is this: come June, I will have a gallery show in Rockville, Maryland–my very first. And I’m in a race to the finish line as I try to whip up 12 paintings in the space between December and the end of May. No small feat, given the fact that it usually takes me 6 weeks or so to polish off just one.

No one is more surprised than I am, but despite the constant, quietly humming anxiety of oh-my-gosh-what-if-I-don’t-get-this-done at the back of my brain… I’ve actually been enjoying this intensely packed painting time. It’s meant halving my writing hours, which makes me a bit sad. But it’s also provided a much-needed palate cleanse for my writing mind, allowing me to come back to my keyboard more clear-minded and focused because I took time to step away.

And I’ve even managed to knock out a few paintings along the way, three of which make up a surf/space series for which I have to thank my brother Hunter for inspiration.

(Almost) four down… eight to go!

*Cue nail-biting here*

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Bittersweet

After a multi-year hiatus–peppered with rare, stolen moments of work–and half a year of concentrated effort, I’ve finished the rough draft of my speculative novel, NIGHT GARDEN.

Emphasis on the word “rough.”

A quick glance at my Track Changes application shows 119 comments sprinkled throughout the manuscript, indicating spots where I need to weave in world-building elements, affirm timelines, research further, fill in creative pits, and shore up plot points and character motivations. In addition, I have notes scrawled on napkins, sermon notes, and Post-Its–whatever I could grab before the thought fled.

Then there are the two notebooks (including one of those ultra-sexy yellow-pads) full of the most poorly organized notes imaginable.

I’ve got just a wee bit of work to do before this baby’s ready for prime time.

Still, it’s a major accomplishment, just completing the beast. I typed 112,632 words. I wrote 35 chapters. I hit the point where I could legitimately pen that final flourish: “The End.”

I should be skipping. Dancing. Celebrating with a glass of wine.

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Libraries & Leisure

Here’s my confession: I’m a workaholic.

In the nearly thirteen years we’ve known each other, my husband and I have lived in a variety of locales: Indiana, Ireland, and the Czech Republic for college, Texas, China, Suriname, and Washington, D.C. for work. And every time we hit a new spot, I’ve vowed to prioritize getting out and experiencing whatever makes that place special.

But every time, my to-do list tugs me back: to my laptop to write, my palette to paint.

It’s a flaw I’m trying to pray through. But in the meantime, I’m super thankful when people like my brother–who’s infinitely better at sallying out to try new things–come visiting.

It’s that push I need to go forth and explore.

So my brother gets all the credit for coaxing me to visit the Library of Congress–the largest library in the world, housing millions of books, penned in 470 languages. Sad as it is to admit, this is my third stint living in D.C…. and my first trip to the Library. Which is kind of unacceptable, considering my bibliophilic little heart.

But better late than never, right?

Just a handful of the many, many highlights included:

  • The gorgeous architecture of the Thomas Jefferson building
  • A complete version of the Gutenberg Bible (the 15th century innovation that rocked the worlds of religion and books)
  • A still-in-progress replication of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, being gathered text by text from around the world
  • The Main Reading Room (one of several research enclaves accessible to anyone over 16 wishing to study… provided you can keep up with their code of conduct [Cue finger-wagging librarian])
  • The office of the Librarian of Congress (currently Carla Hayden)

Confession no. 2: I now have office envy. But it’s probably for the best that my own workspace isn’t quite so nice.

It’d be a poor fit with my efforts to combat workaholism.

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Grand Opening: Etsy Shop!

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. To that end, this writer’s finally putting her paintings where her mouth is.

After months of talking about launching an Etsy shop, LMPeltierDesigns has gone live at last!

So if there’s a spot on your wall looking for its perfect match painting, I may have just the one sitting in my shop. Think of me as the Yente of wall art.

Watercolor is my medium of choice, because as a surfer/swimmer/life-long-aquaphile, it just seemed right. As for my subject-matter, it skews toward snapshots of the wild world. I aim for detailed, dynamic portraits of creatures great and small–a way to bring a little of the fierce, exotic loveliness of nature indoors.

Current series include:

Alaska series:

Alaska 1: Sushi for Dinner

My undersea collection:

Etsy, Shop, LMPeltierDesigns, Shark, Tuna, Wahoo, Wave, Surf, Ocean, Watercolor, Painting
Devil Down Below
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Writer Care Kit

Living far from friends and family can mean that things get done at odd times. The most recent example? My best friend Amber and I just had our Christmas gift exchange. In February. Two months late.

But the wait proved well-worth it when I stripped off green and red wrapping to find a chic little box whose contents had me laughing aloud.

To kick off your morning, an encouraging coffee cup:

“You got this.”

–Coffee

And to cap off your evening, a reassuring wine glass:

“You gave it your best shot.”

–Wine

While I’m sure writers aren’t the only professionals who experience these twin emotions across their workdays, I can’t help thinking this gift makes a particularly excellent support kit for authors. How many mornings have I woken up energized and motivated, full of confident, creative energy? Today’s the day, I’ll say. Today, I finally figure out how to…

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