Monday, November 29, 2010

Pushing 50!!!

 Lordy, Lordy, look who's having a birthday? A BIG birthday! The BIG 5-0!


And I really can't wait. 

My 50th birthday is this coming Sunday (December 5th). It's a birthday that I've been thinking about since, well, since I turned 49. Decade birthdays seem bigger somehow...and turning 50 feels HUGE.

I think the first six months of thinking about it felt a little overwhelming and I'll admit, a little discouraging. I was stuck a bit in thinking about what I hadn't accomplished, what I might never get to do...

But then my thinking started turning around. Turning 50 was better than the alternative (not making 50), so I decided I might as well enjoy it! And in a weird sort of way, getting laid off six months ago (yes, it's been six months) provided me with just the right kick in the pants that I needed. I'm not recommending being laid off to anyone. It sucks. But if it's going to happen, you might as well figure out a way to make it the time productive for you. 

And so I started thinking not about what I hadn't done, but what I wanted to do. I firmly believe it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Whatever time we have on this earth is meant to be enjoyed, doing what we love to do.

So I started looking at 50 as the age of opportunity. Turning 50 can be liberating in many ways. My kids are grown (more or less). I have more freedom to do what I want. And I really don't need anyone's permission any more. Ha!

So I'm cruising into this birthday week filled to the brim with excitement. I have lots of fun planned. I'm kicking the weekend off with an open studio event--Lowertown First Friday. Stop by and celebrate with me! 

And then, my very best friend, Julie (who also just turned 50) is coming to town and we plan on celebrating 50 together! 

To top it all off-- my hubby is paying the program fees for the WARM program for my birthday present. (Being married to someone who "gets" you is like a present everyday.)

I am a lucky girl!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Hello. How was your Thanksgiving?  

Mine was spent with my hubby, grown children and my mom! I prepared the Thanksgiving feast...even though we aren't a large group, it was a of it all was a 20-lb turkey! I've been preparing this holiday meal for years and although it's a lot of work, I enjoy it. I can now say I have mastered turkey, gravy, and the family dressing (or do you say stuffing?)  I think every family's recipe is a bit different and that's what makes it unique to each family. I always looked forward to my mom's version...and now, my daughter looks forward to mine. Perhaps someday she will perfect the recipe (although my son is more of the cook!) I have to admit, I'm still working on perfecting the Thanksgiving pie. I'm so much better at cake!

Friday started with an early morning wake-up call...not for Black Friday shopping, but to get my kids to work at a ridiculous hour for their retail jobs. I detest shopping on Black Friday! I'm not fond of the crowds or general craziness. And I think it bothers me more each year as stores buy into the frenzy and open earlier and earlier...thus, forcing so many folks, like my kids,  to work crazy hours just so people can buy something at 4 a.m. that will still be there at 9 a.m. Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox! I just want a little more relaxed family time over the holiday!!! 

I also woke up on Friday with a bit of a sore throat...still nursing that along. I feel so... tired. But it felt good to find my way back to the studio today and spend some time working on a few paintings. It's quite cold outside (in the teens), but my studio is filled with sunshine that heats up the place! 

So, not much shopping being done here this weekend. I'm just laying low, trying to get healthy. Hopefully there will be time for a few naps and a bit more painting. In fact, I think it's time for a nap right now!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mom's Oatmeal Cake

It doesn't look too much like winter around here yet (this pic is from last year) ... in fact, we're dealing with freezing rain this weekend. I'd much rather have snow! Even though I'm not much of a fan of winter, I still enjoy the beauty of early winter snowfalls...especially when holiday lights brighten the city landscape.

But it is the perfect day for staying in and off the roads. A little baking makes things nice and toasty inside. Yesterday I baked my Mom's Oatmeal Cake. It should be called "Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cake", because the brown sugar adds such a rich taste to the cake. 

Watching my mother bake this cake is a vivid childhood mother was a stay-at-home mom and a frequent baker...and this cake was one of her best recipes. I remember anxiously waiting for the cake to come out of the oven, being topped with this wonderful brown sugar-butter-coconut  mixture, and then going back in the oven, under the broiler for a few minutes, to create the perfect sweet and chewy topping.  We would let it cool just a bit before we would dish it into our bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top. Oh, yum. I didn't have the ice cream yesterday, but the cake still lived up to its memory.

So here is the recipe--

1. Boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a pan. Add 1 cup of oatmeal. Reduce heat. Add 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter. After butter melts, turn off heat. Let it sit as you mix other ingredients.

2. Mix 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup sugar. Add 2 eggs.

3. Mix in 1 tsp each of baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add 1/4 tsp of salt.

4. Mix in the slightly cooled oatmeal mixture. 

5. Mix in 1 1/3 cups flour. 

6. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

7. When cake is almost done, prepare cake topping on stove top. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 cup brown sugar and then 1/2 cup of Carnation Evaporated Milk. Finally add 1 cup of coconut. 

8. When the cake comes out of the oven, turn up the heat on the topping until it starts to bubble. Cook it until it starts to thicken up...just a bit. Meanwhile, poke a few holes into the cake (I used a small knitting needle). Pour the topping over the cake and put the cake back into the oven, close under the broiler. Watch the cake carefully...allow it to bubble for a bit. This will help the topping caramelize and become slightly chewy.

9. Let it cool a bit...or until you can't stand it any longer...then enjoy! Preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Still a great cake when it cools too!

There you have, a lovely cake for winter! Enjoy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The long wait is over!

a small abstract I recently finished--see note below

Late Thursday evening, after several days of being on "e-mail watch", I received the long (in my eyes) awaited e-mail with the list of Mentor-Protegee pairings for the WARM Mentor Program. I opened the e-mail with anxious enthusiasm. I quickly scanned the list to find my name and the name of the mentor that I will work with for the next two years.

I am over the moon excited to be working with an artist whose work I have admired for several years (I've decided that I will clear it with her before I give you her name and website information, so you can check out her wonderful work). I will say that she is an amazing woman with much creative energy. She has a deep understanding of the creative process and how making art can be part of a healing process. I am looking forward to working with her. I can't wait to get started (the program doesn't officially start until January).

I feel as if I am at the beginning of a journey. I am not quite sure where this journey will lead me. The unknown is not really scaring me, but exciting me. I feel that this is a beginning filled with possibilities. Much will change, no doubt, but I am open to those changes. 

For now, I am writing my preliminary "work plan" for the program. Already it is interesting work, as I identify my goals and what helps me achieve those goals and on the flip side, what gets in my way.

I am also looking forward to meeting the other protegees and all the mentors. This will be a community of women artists that I will be very involved with in the next few years. I have a strong sense that friendships will be formed that will remain intact long past the two years of the program. At least, that is my hope.

So here we go, on this amazing adventure!

About the artwork above--This is a small abstract that I recently finished. I was trying some new techniques and created this piece on a 9x12 cradled artist board. 

My first step was to apply a layer of crackle paste on the board. This was the first time I had worked with the crackle paste and even though I thought I had applied a thick layer, it really wasn't quite thick enough to get the affect that I was aiming for. It's hard to see the affects of the crackle paste in this photo, because the cracks are on the fine side.  

After I applied the crackle paste, I had to allow it to dry 24 hours before I could start the painting process. The crackle paste creates an interesting surface to work on, as you can achieve different affects depending on how wet or dry you keep the surface. 

If you want to try crackle paste, I would recommend checking out Golden's website, which includes a video about the product. I think I will work with crackle paste again...perhaps on a larger surface next time. 

Now I am working on a piece using Golden's Glass Bead Gel. I'll let you know how that works out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm feeling a little antsy... 

restless, anxious, waiting... 

waiting to hear who will be the mentor that I will be working with the next two years thru the WARM program (I should find out some time this week),  

anxious to turn 50 in less than 19 days, 

restless for the upcoming holidays.

So today I visited some of my favorite places...

a local art store, Wet Paint.  
It's always a welcome diversion to spend a little time 
dreaming in my favorite sort of store.

a coffee shop, where I used a coupon for a free coffee. Yay!

and a bookstore,
my other favorite kind of store to do a little dreaming in.

It all helped to make the day go by a little quicker.

Now I'm off to hang with my daughter and her new puppy, Henry.  
(I call him my grandpuppy).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our first snow!

I don't do much painting of traditional scenes in traditional sort of ways, but there are exceptions. At this time of year, as the holidays approach and we enjoy our first snow, I usually try to capture the look and feel on canvas. Above is a small painting I finished last year.

Yesterday I started some new winter paintings.

work in progress, 12x24

detail of a work in progress, 16x20

And magically, today we are enjoying our first snowfall of the season. It was 70 degrees this past Tuesday, but we knew it couldn't last!

It's also a perfect day for baking! I'm going to make my Spicy Christmas shortbread. It makes the whole house smell like the holidays! I posted the recipe here. Yum!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My first sale!

I've had an Etsy shop for about two years, but it's been greatly neglected this past year. During recent months, I've been making the conversion in my "shop" from selling jewelry I've made to selling my original artwork. For the most part, I am listing smaller paintings. I'm not quite sure this will work, but I thought I'd give it a go for a little while longer. 

So the time has come for my first sale! Recent changes to Etsy make it much easier to host a sale. Yay! Through this Veteran's Day weekend, all my original artwork is 15% off. Now's the time to start your holiday shopping from home!

Well, that's it for my sales pitch...I'm not really much of a "salesman".  I don't want to pressure anyone to buy, especially friends & family or my readers! But if there is a piece you like, this would be a good time to pick it up (just saying!).

For my local fans: If you are interested in a painting (or two) and delivery/pick-up can be arranged, the shipping/handling fees can certainly be waived!  Also for local folks: I will he holding another open studio event before the holidays on Friday, December 3rd 6-9 pm. And as always, my studio is open by appointment.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Play Day!

Here in Minnesota, we've been enjoying an incredibly warm & sunny fall.  Anytime you can go into November without snow on the ground and hit temps in the 60's...well, that's something to enjoy...cause it will end soon enough!

So today I started out in the studio, with the plan to take a walk over the noon hour. It has been so bright in the studio...and a little too warm with the building's heat on!  I cracked open a window as soon as I got to the studio.

I decided to make today a Play Day. Sometimes it's good to take a break from working on paintings and do something creative to get the creative juices flowing. Today I cut up some canvas paper, with the plan to make painted envelopes and bookmarks. After I cut up the canvas paper, I started painting background colors.  When that got done, I pulled out my plastic doilies
that I love playing with and used them to create background designs.

Lunch time came and I headed home for something to eat and then a walk with my hubby. It was an incredibly beautiful day outside...just gorgeous! It was so nice to enjoy the day spending some time with my hubby. After walking downtown, we headed towards home. I was planning to head straight to the studio for more play (painting)! Less than a block from the studio, I hit some uneven sidewalk and took quite a tumble! You know, it was one of those embarrassing falls...I went down hard, in public, and just couldn't move for a bit. Really, I wanted to be invisible and disappear. Eventually I made it to my feet...I bummed up my left knee pretty good and twisted my right ankle (a mild sprain). Drats. I can be such a clutz.

I hobbled to the studio and decided I could continue painting...but sitting, with my feet propped up.  Tonight I'm definitely taking it easy.

Not quite the Play Day I envisioned, but it was still lots of fun. I think I'll do it all again tomorrow--minus the fall.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Party over!

Last night was our special celebration for the first anniversary of Lowertown First Fridays--an open studio event in Lowertown St. Paul. In our building, we had a fun time with decorating our treat table.  We had a special larger-than-life glass of the bubbly next to the cake.

Crowds were sparse, but life goes on. I was blessed to have several friends stop by to visit my studio...some for the first time. Friends visiting always feels good.

It was a long day ... filled with before the event errands (picking up six of those cakes), setting up my artwork (which includes moving around a bunch of furniture), and then... show on. By the end of evening, I was exhausted, but too wired to sleep well. So, after an evening of little sleep, I am wiped out.  But I still had to return my "gallery" to a home. That will be it for me today though.

Good thing there's an "extra" hour of sleep tonight--remember to set your clocks back!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's an Art Party--Lowertown First Friday!!!

I've been spending much time in the studio this week painting. It's been going well, but slow. Sometimes I wish I was a little faster at this, but painting is a process that can't really be rushed. I have two 18x36 paintings that I'm working on...going back and forth between the two. I will try to post pics soon.

Also busy preparing for tomorrow's Open Studio event--Lowertown First Friday! I wrote about it here. It's always feels like a lot of work preparing to open...and I don't always love the prep work, but once my doors are open I can relax and enjoy the event. 

If you live in the Twin Cities metro area, this is a great night to check out Lowertown St. Paul. Especially this First Friday--we are celebrating our first year anniversary of our monthly open studio event. After visiting the open studios from 6-9, you can stop by Echo Arts (275 E 4th Street) to attend an after-party. The Black Dog has events planned as well.  

Come down and enjoy the fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Catching my breath!

I am taking this evening to catch my breath and pamper myself just a bit. Today I had my third and final interview for the WARM mentor program. Each interview was outstanding in so many ways. Although at the onset, the interview process loomed before me as intimidating, now with the interviews behind me, I look at the interviews as invigorating, informative, and interesting on so many levels. 

I learned much about myself as an artist. The process allowed me to see the progress that I've made in the past few years. I left each interview feeling more accomplished than I generally see myself as. I still have much work to do (always will), but I can look ahead with confidence.

And I have renewed energy for my painting...not that it was really waning...but I'm feeling a burst of energy about working on new pieces. Such a good feeling to carry into the studio!

I have two weeks to wait before I learn who I will be matched with. Interviews are still underway for two more weeks. I'm glad I'm done and will be painting away to pass the time! Hopefully the time will fly by!

So tonight I am planning an evening to unwind. I made an awesome dinner...a pasta dish with chicken and thai peanut sauce. I may bake some oatmeal cookies...with dried cherries and chocolate chips (I've been sooo domestic lately...baked pumpkin pies this weekend). And before bed, I plan to soak in the tub with some fragrant bath salts. Aah...

And's back to the studio!