Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday at the studio

I woke up with a sinus headache this morning, but was determined to get to the studio to do more work on my whimsical winter paintings. A little coffee and tylenol and I was ready to go.

I went to work--moving from canvas to canvas. First I did another layer of green on the lower part of the painting. I was working on so many paintings at one time that I laid the canvases on the floor while  I was working on another.


One of the best things I ever bought while taking college art classes was my porcelain palette. It provides a wonderful surface area for mixing colors and also cleans up easily. 

At one point I looked down at my palette today and wanted to paint it! I love mixing colors!


I focused primarily on the smaller 11x14 paintings today. I ended up going a slightly different direction than I originally intended--the green lower part was changed to white "snow" and I painted the evergreens in a different style than I originally had planned. And I had fun using glitter on these paintings. I'll be taking better pictures when the paintings are finished.

Unfortunately, it's back to work tomorrow...that means it's back to trying to squeeze in painting time around work.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back to the studio

Thanksgiving over--time to hit the studio! I headed to Michael's early this morning to take advantage of some sales. That was all the inspiration I needed to get to the studio! I headed over before noon with a plan to start some holiday-themed paintings.


I started four 11x14's, two 16x20's and one 18x24. Painting is all about laying down layers of color and it is much more efficient to work on multiple paintings at one time--especially if it's a series of work. 

I got a lot done, but have much more to do. I hope to have these paintings done for First Friday next week. 

I'll be heading to the studio early tomorrow! 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

May you be blessed today...

This was what it looked like in our neighborhood a few Thanksgivings ago! No snow this year...and for that, I'm thankful. Actually the weather has been quite agreeable--for November in Minnesota. It still feels like late Fall. It does kind of make it hard to feel like Christmas is just a month away--but winter will be here soon enough!

I'm set to start cooking up a storm. As has been the case for many, many years, I'm cooking a huge Thanksgiving dinner for my kids and mother. There will too much food as always, but hooray for leftovers!

Then there will be a little shopping on Friday (no early morning escapades!) and lots of studio time the rest of the weekend.

A quick work update: We are still waiting for the Hennepin County board to take a vote on a resolution that would fund us at 90% for 3-6 months. They were scheduled to vote on it this past Tuesday, but didn't get to it. I am trying to stay faithful that all will be good and no jobs will be lost. It's still a little hard to relax. 

But today, I am thankful for my job and that Southside continues to do good work. I am thankful for a hubby that is supportive and makes me laugh. I am thankful for two wonderful kids making their own way in life. I am thankful for my beautiful home and studio. And last but not least, I am thankful for all the wonderful friends that are a part of my life!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!!! 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some griefs...


There are some griefs so loud
They could bring down the sky

--May Sarton

It has been a long, hard week...and I can't say that I am looking forward to the ending. Tomorrow we will have a short staff meeting and then individual meetings with our managers to learn if we keep our job or will be laid off.

It's ironic how such a difficult situation has made the staff even tighter. We do hard work and we have to lean on one another--even in the best of times. The office is our home base. It's where we go to de-brief, get support, cry and make each other laugh to forget the hard stuff. Even in these last few miserable weeks, there has been laughter. And plenty of tears.

I feel like my family is being broken up. I don't want to leave and I don't want any of them to leave either. Not this way. It just sucks.

Tonight we had an incredible evening--serving our families a "Harvest Feast" meal. We'll do it again tomorrow. It's a tradition. Something we do every year. It's not something the county requires we do. But we do it because we care for our families. We are Southside Family Nurturing Center after all.

It was a wonderful and awful evening. It was wonderful because it felt good working together as a team. It was awful because we know that our team is being broken up and next year there might not even be a Harvest Feast.

But tomorrow we will stand together one more time. 

Friday, November 20th Noon: Update

Amazing News: Our directors testified in front of the County Commissioners this morning, alerting them to the affects of their proposed cuts--job layoffs, services to families being cut...They were appalled! The CFO talked with them afterwards and said not to lay people off, they will come up with a plan. We will know more on Tuesday. But for now we are holding on and praying for our Southside miracle. Please keep those prayers coming!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Southside slideshow

The slideshow tells you about Southside Family Nurturing Center. Today's the day that your contribution can make a BIG difference at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another long day

my kitty, Squeakers

Today was a tough day at work...another staff meeting with more bad news. Bottom line is that 6-10 people will be laid off before Christmas. Some of those layoffs will come by the end of this month, in order that staff laid-off can take advantage of better Cobra (insurance) benefits.

When your agency only employs about 30 people, 6-10 folks is a big number! And because we are so small, it also means that everyone knows each other. My co-workers are not just fellow staff, they are friends and in my heart, extended family. I know how each and every one of them will be affected if they are laid off. 

I will know in a few short days if I will be laid off November 30th. I have never before been in this sort of situation. It's hard to wrap my head around it. And my heart is having nothing to do with it at all!

At this point, I just want to know either way so I can move forward. All my co-workers want the same. It's hard, but I have faith that somehow things will be o.k. I know that I am resilient and I will move forward.

The thing I worry most about is having health insurance. As a Type II diabetic, I cannot afford to NOT have insurance. Without a job, affording insurance becomes an issue. Which is exactly why this country needs universal health insurance!

It's time to call it a night...I think I'm going to grab my cat and watch some mindless t.v. (House Hunters, perhaps?)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Give MN--Southside Family Nurturing Center

(Our lovely building--formerly a convent--has been recently renovated! It still has lots of charm and is so homey for the kids!)

From time to time, you may hear me make mention here about my day job as a social worker. I work for a wonderful nonprofit agency--Southside Family Nurturing Center. It's quite a special place--both for the families that it serves and the folks like me that work there. I'm not sure I could do this tough work at any other agency.

Southside  is a small but incredibly giving agency. Southside was one of the first therapeutic preschools in the state. For the past 35 years, Southside Family Nurturing Center has provided support, education and other resources to families in south Minneapolis who are at risk for abuse and neglect. 

Well, that's how we officially describe it. That doesn't come close to describing how Southside works with families. We welcome and nurture our families in so many ways. First off, we recognize that parenting is a hard job. When you are struggling with issues of poverty--as our families do--it makes the job that much harder. 

The children, ages 16 months to five years, attend classes in our toddler and preschool classes. We keep our classes small--10 toddlers per class and 14 preschoolers with 4 teachers in each classroom. Some of our kids have special needs. All of them need a little extra love to help them deal with the harshness they deal with at home. Kids shouldn't have such a hard start in life. And that's why our classrooms are so warm and are like a sponge, they soak up all the extra love they can! And current research is showing how important early education is for all children. It really makes a difference in these little lives!

Each family has a parent worker that works with them--that's my job.  For the most part, our families come to us volunteerily--wanting that extra support for raising their family. Most of them recognize that their own childhood was rough and that they want to parent their own children in a different way. So we visit the family in their home--providing parenting support and education. We also invite the whole family to our agency once a week to what we call "Family Day"--it's an opportunity for families to spend time together doing activities, meet with other parents, share a meal...During the holidays we hold special  events for our families--including an annual "holiday store" where families can "shop" for holiday gifts for their children.

(my hubby as Santa at Southside--with 2 staff children)

Don't let this mushy post fool you--this is hard work. I have had to report families when I suspect they are abusing or neglecting their children.  Every day I see families struggle with limited resources--and I feel like there is not enough I can do to help. But I see that they love their children and that they are trying to do things better. I know that the the work I have done with "my families" has had some impact. In return, "my families" have welcomed me into their homes and taught me about their culture and family traditions. I have watched so many lovely children grow up.

Working at Southside does not make you rich. The paycheck is simply not why anyone chooses to work at Southside. But I have been "paid" in many other ways. I have been at Southside since 1996 (except for  a short period in 2005-06 when I decided to venture off  to another agency).  First of all, working at Southside means something to me that is hard to express in words. Southside does this work the right way. Southside is caring, supportive and yes, nurturing to the families they serve and the staff that works for them. Even though the work is hard, laughter is heard everyday in this lovely old building.

So here comes the hard part--

Southside is funded in a variety of different ways. Private donations, grant money, United Way funds--all help keep us afloat. But at least 60% of our budget comes from our Hennepin County budget. Hennepin county contracts with Southside to provide the services that we do (If we weren't working with these high-risk families, it's likely that at some point the county would need to provide much costlier services to the families. We are a prevention program).

Southside received a letter from the county about a month ago stating that they are slashing our budget in 2010. In the first quarter, we are expecting only 50% of our normal budget allottment from the county. After that--??? We simply don't know if we will be funded. In the coming weeks, we will be submitting a new program proposal to the County. After 35 years of doing this work, we need to prove again that we can do this work. (Southside is not alone in this--8 other Family Focus programs are facing the same cuts).

Southside is fighting to stay alive. Staff have been told that regardless of what happens, layoffs are coming--and the first cut will be announced prior to the holidays. Believe me, it's a hard environment to face every day at work...not knowing if you will have a job. And not knowing if Southside will even be around in a year...I cannot fathom that.  

This is what I have been struggling with the last three weeks. I am writing this because that's how I process things, but also I know Southside can use the support wherever they can find it.

 So, this is how you can help (if you are willing and able):

  • Become a Southside Facebook fan. If you are on Facebook, become a fan at Center   This is a great way to show support and stay informed of what is happening.
  • Contact Hennepin County commissioners. Let them know how shortsighted it is to cut child abuse prevention programs such as Southside.
  • If you are so inclined, donate $$. I know finances are tough for everyone, but if you are donating to any nonprofits this year, a donation to Southside could make a huge difference. Even $5-10 can help (maybe skip that morning latte at the coffee shop). It's easy--you can go to our website or there is a new option--GiveMN. This is a new site created to make giving to Minnesota nonprofits easier. And if you donate on Tuesday, November 17th other foundations will make matching contributions! Visit this site to make a donation and to learn more about Southside (including a nice slideshow):  (If this link does not work, simply go to and enter--Southside Family Nurturing Center--to find our page)
  • You can also make a donation to the Holiday Store. We take donations of toys & gifts for children of all ages.  Families get to "shop" the Holiday Store to pick out gifts for their children.
Undoubtedly, I will be posting some updates here--like if I still have a job or I'm a true starving artist! Hopefully, good things will be happening soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Love Deeply

Finally getting a few of my smaller paintings listed on Etsy. Eventually I want to create a separate shop for jewelry and other crafty stuff and keep this shop exclusively for artwork. You can find this one listed here.

Monday, November 9, 2009


With First Friday over, it was time to go to work and make the studio messy again! I headed over to the Jax late Sunday morning and started putting things away.  While the sun was still shining bright, I took some pics of some of my smaller paintings. I'm hoping to list some of them on Etsy soon.

Before I knew it, another pesky wasp (or whatever it is) was flying around--even daring to land on my blank canvas. Grrr....

After taking lots of pictures (and the sun going into hiding), I pulled out some canvases and went to work.  I'm not always sure what I'll feel like working on when I head to the studio. I always have several things in the work. I decided to start painting these two 18x36 canvases that I've been planning for some time. More eggplant paintings. I love painting eggplants (but hate eating them). 


I painted for several hours. The hours passed by quickly...just me painting with a variety of music keeping me company (a little Keb Mo, James Taylor, and Carole King).  After I worked on the 2 new eggplant paintings, I started a new abstract painting (sorry, no pic). It went really well--it was something that just came to me.

I really needed this good day at the studio. Saturday was a hard day. I was tired and honestly, a little on edge. Life's been piling on lots of stress lately...and it's catching up with me. I know that work will be incredibly stressful this coming week (more on that in a later post), and having a good day painting--well, for me, it's like doing yoga...or whatever you do to "let go" of things.

So I hope that you enjoyed your weekend and you're ready for the week ahead.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lowertown First Friday--Review


I'd thought I'd share a few shots of my studio as it was set up for Lowertown First Friday. It's a pain to clean up the studio, but I always like how it looks when it's done. I love seeing all my paintings hanging together on the walls.




Since it was the first LFF (Lowertown First Friday), the crowd was small--as expected. But the weather was beautiful and like the other artists opened, it was wonderful visiting with the folks that came out. I had a few friends stop by and that always feels good. There were visitors that had been to my studio before and came by to see my work again. And then were the newcomers. Overall, the feedback to the idea of LFF was very positive and I think the event will continue to grow. At least, I'm hoping it will.

Save the date--Friday, December 4th--for the second Lowertown First Friday.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lowertown First Fridays

I spent the evening cleaning up my working studio at the Jax Building and hanging paintings. That's where I'll be Friday night for the first ever Lowertown First Fridays.  Over the past several months, artists of Lowertown have been organizing an exciting new event to be centered in the vibrant Lowertown art community.

(the studio before I cleaned it!)

On the first Friday of every month, artists throughout Lowertown will open their studios to the public (this will exclude the art crawl months of April and October) . Similar in nature to the Art Crawl, but yet more intimate, these First Friday events will be a wonderful opportunity to meet the artists in their working environment. Since it will be happening every month, it will also be an opportunity to take your time and check out 1-2 buildings each month. (I know so often I hear during the Art Crawl how people feel they need to rush to take it all in).

Besides the Jax, several other studio buildings in Lowertown will be open. The buidling that I live in--the Tilsner--will have several open studios, along with a special show in the Atrium and musical entertainment. The AZ gallery (located in the Northern Warehouse building) will be holding their monthly show opening. Several area bar & restaurants (Black Dog, Bulldog, & Barrio...) will be featuring different food and drink specials.

  So if you're free this Friday evening, Lowertown is the place to be.

(the studio all cleaned up for a previous art crawl)

(Check out the information on my right sidebar for Jax building information. Check out this site for a map for Lowertown First Fridays.)