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.

Continue reading “Corona & Contemplation”

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.

Continue reading “Bittersweet”

Summertime & Society6 Style

2019 has been the year of launching new projects. In February, I opened the Etsy shop I’d been contemplating for months. In March, I re-started the first draft of NIGHT GARDEN, a novel I hadn’t touched since 2015.

And this summer, I kicked my Society6 shop into gear.

Society6 is, in my (slightly-biased) opinion, one of the coolest online shopping venues around. Artists can upload their original work, then see it transformed into all manner of lifestyle goods ranging from blankets to bar stools, cellphone cases to coffee mugs, shower curtains to stationary.

I was super excited to see what I could do with my paintings. But I was nervous, too. What if my work didn’t showcase well?

But thanks to my most faithful patroness (merci, Mom!), I recently got to road-test some products. The trio of beach towels she’d ordered accompanied me on a father/son/daughter surf session at one of my favorite beaches in the world–North Packery, in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.

I can now report that the towels held up valiantly to the abuse of sand, sun, and saltwater. And Society6 did an excellent job ensuring every color was vibrant, every detail crisp. A pretty impressive feat, considering that it involved converting 11″ x 14″ paintings into 74” x 37” towels.

Continue reading “Summertime & Society6 Style”

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”

Birthday Presents & Painting Tools

So I know it’s totally cheating to open presents a week+ before your birthday. I also know that at almost let’s-not-talk-about-it years old, I should have some self-control.

But when that promising box from Jackson’s Art Supplies showed up, I couldn’t resist.

As a watercolorist who has a hard time perceiving myself as anything but an amateur, I’ve been content to pick up my brushes here and there from Michaels and Hobby Lobby. But a few years ago, I treated myself to some tubes of Winsor & Newton’s gorgeously saturated paint…. Then my husband gave me some “grown up” watercolor paper for my last birthday…. And now my sweet parents have dropped some Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes in my lap.

Suffice it to say, I’m a wee bit spoiled. Continue reading “Birthday Presents & Painting Tools”

Mugs & Motivation

It’s been a quiet few weeks (er, months) around Ebb & Flow.

My preoccupation with our newest international move–this time back to the Good Ol’ US of A–is much to blame. There’s a lot involved in purchasing new cars, identifying apartments, catching up with family and friends, and coordinating three different shipments of far too much stuff. (Every time we go through one of these nomadic seasons, I fantasize about burning everything we own–books excepted–and starting from scratch.)

But the biggest culprit behind the “Mysterious Case of the Missing Blog Posts” has been the dedication of all my writing time to a massive overhaul of my historical novel. And I do mean massive: facelift, rhinoplasty, and some serious literary liposuction. As in tens of thousands of words, now gone.

I’m glad about it. With every word felled by my editing machete, I know my book’s becoming better. But… Continue reading “Mugs & Motivation”