a change in priorities…


granny moI met “Granny Mo” while in England two weeks ago visiting family there. The sixty-something talented and wise woman runs a small bakery/deli in the charming independent town of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire in the Southwest. Chock full of delicacies from umpteen flavors of cannolis to a spectacular selection of stick-to-your-ribs take out dishes, she started this business after closing an eatery along the banks of the canal where tourists would tie up their floating houses and enjoy the scenery from footpaths.

My knickname being Mo, I naturally had to visit the storefront and introduct myself to her. As we spoke about the worrisome situation caused by COVID-19, I got goosebumps at something she said. Her words confirmed and fleshed out a suspicion I’d held for a week or so already. The virus would not only change things in the short-term but seemed to be, as she put it, “Mother Nature’s way of making us pause to re-prioritize.” I did think it was the planet giving us a good shake, but the way she worded it made real sense to me.

I’ve watched with horror as our country has spun out of control and the number of cases and deaths has spiraled upward. As of this writing, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus dashboard says there are 576,859 reported cases of the SARS-COVID19 virus and 26,455 deaths worldwide. The U.S. leads in the number of reported cases at 94,238 with 1,438 deaths attributed to this disease.

My “spidey-sense” was alerted to this impending pandemic back in late January or early February from Twitter. In fact, I emailed a link to myself about flying and precautions to take to protect from the bug. It was sent on Feb. 5 and I know it was on my radar before that. I was monitoring things because of our forthcoming trip to Paris and Southwest U.K. to depart the U.S. March 4. You’d think our president would have been hard at work trying to prevent the catastrophe that we are now facing. Especially since he was made aware as early as January.

I shared my concerns at work but clearly was way ahead of the curve there, earning me a few choice knicknames and reputation as an alarmist. “We’re not gonna get the Coronavirus,” my boss said when I asked him if we had any contingency plans in place.

Well… I got put on furlough today with 50% of my colleagues. It could be worse since my employer is generously covering my entire health insurance payment. But the fact that I’ll have far more free hours in my day explains this post’s headline. “A change in priorities.” So now I have far more personal time… to paint, to write, perchance to dream… But first I have to tackle our taxes.

Check back for more.

 

 

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1001 Things to do while Self-Quarantined: a Compendium


How-to-Dye-Pasta-for-Crafts

Colored pasta for crafts

So here we are, stuck at home, the husband and I. We’re

coloring page

Coloring pages to print

fortunate that we can work from home, and I’ve created this blog post for anyone who is forced to shelter in place, social distance and quarantine including children home from school, homebound parents, and others just growing bored. It’s a growing compendium so, please add your own best links in the comments below and I’ll insert it as I edit the page. Bookmark it if you’d like to refer back to and feel free to share.

For All:

Let’s start with Movies: 20 Favorite History Movies, Teach with Movies, Owlteacher.com (which has a massive A-Z list), and Michele Borba’s 100 movies for kids 5 to 17 that teach 9 crucial empathy lessons are chock full of recommendations on popular movies for homeschooling students, parents, and everyone required to shelter in place and practicing social-distancing right now.

For general enrichment, try one of these virtual museum tours, courtesy of Travel and Leisure Magazine. Or TED Talks and TED-Ed where you can build a lesson around any TED Talk. Or garden tours, including Monet’s in Giverny, Kew Gardens in the UK and lush botanic gardens in Chicago and Hawaii. 

Project Gutenburg has more than 45,000 free eBooks, including classic children’s literature. 

Psych – I just played it last night with fellow self-quarantining family members on my IPhone. It’s an Ellen Degeneres game you can download and play via your mobile phone. We had a blast and I highly recommend setting up playdates using this virtual game with your friends and family hunkering down elsewhere.

The USA Today offers a 100 things to do while stuck at home due to a Pandemic list. 

The Chicago Tribune has a good list of links to more things to do, including it’s daily crossword puzzle, live streaming performances by John Legend and others. I’m not sure if it will become an updated thing or just for the day (March 16) that it was published, but hey, it’s entertainment, right?

Writer Daniel Branch has a great list of 50 things to do on a boring day at home.

Remember Skee Ball from the shore or arcade when you were young? Eliminate boredom during lock down and Make it at home! Thanks to Frugal Fun 4 Boys for this one.

Visit the library. Virtually. Here are the 10 best kept online secrets from the New York Public library. And from the Library of Congress, which has, well, just about anything you’d want, the good news is most of it is online! Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, and government closings, many local and county libraries are forced to closed at this time. But yours may have online resources to tap so be sure to check it out!

Learn to cook via Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura’s aptly named Kitchen Quarantine live video series on his Instagram page. Unable to watch it live? He’s kindly reposting them to his website here.

Disney virtual rides! Yes, that’s right! It might not be the same as feeling the Space Mountain G Forces for yourself but this video puts you in the seat for the ride all the same. How about Pirates of the Caribbean? Tampa Bay Florida’s WFLA has links to these and several other Disney rides to keep kids and adults alike entertained for an afternoon.

For Children:

Mass Eye Spy idea

Thanks to Cale Park Kitchen for this wonderful idea!

Crafts from colored pasta.

A2Z Homeschooling has a myriad of resources to help with that. If you are looking to further enhance what your local school has provided, also have a look at Homeschool.Com’s 100 Great Places to Purchase Homeschool Curriculum.

Former classroom teachers joined forces at The Activity Mom to share resources and educational activities with parents looking for fun and educational activities for toddlers through elementary age students.

Children growing restless and you hate the idea of them being tethered to their phones? Check out these 9 great ideas from Atlanta Journal Constitution

MommyPoppins offers 50 science experiments for kids as well as a list of 13 sites for children to learn coding. Most of them are fee-based. 

Bone up on Math withXtra Math, a non profit organization’s website dedicated to math achievement.

More than 3,000 Science and Math activities at HowtoSmile.

The Learning Network blog from the New York Times. Civics, social studies, history, current news and events, quizzes, student version of the NYT crossword and more!

Parents of special needs children aren’t left out. Hit this site for articles, curriculum reviews and other helpful resources for homeschooled special needs individuals with autism, learning disorders, ADHD and other special needs.

Children will love to play with the Moon Sand you make from this recipe via Lessons Learnt Journal.

Steve Spangler Science – videos of experiments, science fair projects, printable instructions, you name it!

Education.Com offers

K12.com offers courses, supplemental learning programs and more for those in K12 (to year 12 in UK).

Got Lego? Make a marble maze.  Thanks Little Bins for Little Hands for the inspiration!

Kids getting bored? Ignite fun with these minute to win it games from TeachMama.

Slime. The kids can make it! Here’s a recipe from Coffee Cups and Crayons.

For those with Pre-Schoolers, help them learn colors and create a Twister Game too. Thanks to Pint Sized Treasures for this tip.

Kids need exercise and want to watch YouTube? They can do both withthese links provided by Spark and Pook.

Create an indoor obstacle course for your kiddies. Hands On As We Grow has great instructions here.

For Adults:

Want to be productive at home and support your local community? Refinery29 has a few solid recommendations for this.

Assuming you have internet ordering capabilities to purchase supplies, HGTV suggests you learn to arm knit a blanket, make a batch of essential oils, a wreath, a fabric-wrapped storage bin.

Satisfy your sweet tooth and make candy treats. Here are some great recipes from Mr. Food.

Weave something. Start with a woven work of art. Instructions at Brit.Co’s site.

Any other ideas with Links for activities you can do during home quarantine time? Leave them below. Now for a laundry list of ideas you can create as you wish:

  • Create toy parachutes
  • Play balloon volleyball
  • #Windowchat with your elderly neighbors (idea courtesy of @Artulove on Twitter
  • Trace your family tree.
  • Build a website – learn it and go via WordPress.
  • Host a virtual book club with friends. Use SurveyMonkey free option for questions that can be discussed, or Kahoot.
  • Weed the garden and prepare for spring.
  • Start seeds indoors using deli containers, paper cups, egg crates and other items for mini greenhouses.
  • Have a dress up day for the kids.
  • Dive into your music library.
  • Catch up on magazines and then make rolled magazine art with the pages. (Brit.Co) 
  • Redecorate.
  • Clean out and organize your closets. While doing so, donate old shoes to Soles for Souls.
  • Write a note or letter to someone not nearby.
  • Do a jigsaw puzzle. Swap with neighbors (spray with lysol first maybe).
  • Take up knitting, crocheting, quilting, other crafts.
  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Start or update a scrapbook.
  • Organize your photos / videos.
  • Use toilet paper tubes (when they’re used up) for bowling.
  • Use red solo cups (when they’re used up and washed) for a carney game.
  • Exercise.
  • Color. Print these great adult coloring pages from Pop Sugar.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Make soup.
  • Make bread.
  • Make cookies, a cake, a pie.
  • Meditate.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Video chat with an old friend / relative who’s homebound and lonely.
  • Hold a video game tournament.
  • Sleep in.
  • Have an at-home spa day.
  • Tackle the DIY projects you’ve been putting off.
  • Sort the socks.
  • Clean out the junk drawer.
  • Have an indoor picnic.
  • Write an email to a company commending someone  you interacted with recently.
  • Write a positive Yelp review about a provider you interacted with recently.
  • Draw portraits of the pets. Draw portraits of the kids. Draw a self-portrait.
  • Hold a dance contest.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Make up new fairytales.
  • Make a movie.
  • Have a family talent show.
  • Write little notes of love to one another each day for a week and store them to read later.

I truly hope these tips help you find ways to make the most out of this strange time we are in. If you have other great tips, please leave them below or email me and I’ll be happy to edit this list and include them too. We can do this!

 

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New Painting: Irrational Exuberance


Irrational exuberance LR

Irrational Exuberance

This new 16″ x 20″ abstract artwork is on stretched canvas with a 1-1/2″ depth and design painted on all edges.  It is of acrylic in the abstract expressionist style and can be hung either vertically or horizontally. There is a lot of texture to this work in blues, tan, white colors.

Here’s how it might look in situ:

Irrational Exuberance

The original is for sale direct through me. Two online galleries are also listing the original and offering reprints in different styles. Saatchi has a few sizes of very high quality art prints in fine art paper or canvas and FAA has licensed the work to offer reprints in a number of sizes and formats of prints as well as home accessories, tote bags and even bath towels from this print.

If you love this style but are interested in a work of this sort but using a different artist palette, feel free to contact me to explore options.

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Louis the flamingo


Louis was painted in 2013 and became part of our own home’s interior. Since moving here in late 2012, I decided we needed flamingos and a tropical or Old Florida vibe to our interior decorating scheme. Using tangerine, fuschia and turquise, this is a bold, rich portrait of a bold, rich flamingo, as Louis deserves.

Louis has a forever home, but fear not! I have some commission slots available for work of this sort and would be happy to custom produce one for you or for a gift for your special flamingo lover. If not a full on original painting, consider a fine art print or acrylic canvas print of Louis, available for sale through  Saatchi where you can also purchase smaller sized fine art prints or canvas duplicates.

Fine art flamingo portrait painting by contemporary artist Maura Satchell.

For Louis and my other flamingo-themed accessories such as throw pillows, towels, shower curtains and larger size prints, check out the offerings at this link. Here’s a pair of fine examples of Louis the painting decorating a home in style: louis shower curtainlouis-maura-satchell throw pillow

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Symphony


"Cynosure" abstract mixed media painting on paper by contemporary artist Maura SatchellThis is a mixed media abstract work of art started as an airbrush painting. I loved the colors, the ethereal quality to it, but wasn’t sure where to take it. Cut to this year and rainy weather and my bag of tricks — charcoal, gouache, ink and pastels, and voila! I give you “Symphony”, on 11″ x 15″ paper.

Not for the faint of heart, this painting would look wonderful in a home or office interior that needs a punch of color. A large custom giclee print of this work looks enchanting in its new home and may give you an idea of how this wall art might fit with your home or office design.

Cynosure in situ

Newly completed, this work is available for sale through me or Saatchi where you can also purchase smaller sized fine art prints or canvas duplicates. For accessories and larger size prints, check out the offerings at this link.

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Aspirational


aspirational LRTropical storm Alberto brought boatloads of rain this past week which meant some great moody painting sessions. From it, “Aspirational” was born.

This painting, 11″ x 14″ mixed media / oil on paper, is an abstract work of art using pastel tones with pink, peach, and an under layer with hints of soft greens and blues.

The original art is for sale direct from the artist, yours truly. Or purchase 9″ x 12″ fine art paper prints for $49 or larger 12″ x 16″ canvas prints (black canvas wrap color) for $110 from Saatchi Art.

Aspirational abstract painting by artist Maura Satchell

Want to go bigger with a print?  Here’s what it might look like in a larger size print or canvas copy available from Fine Art America. The largest size available is 30″ x 20″.

Love the colors, but rather see it in a throw pillow? For $22 there at Fine Art America, you can get a 14″ x 14″ accent pillow. Fine Art America has a myriad of other product offerings using the “Aspirational” design, and they make great gifts! We’re talking gorgeous shower curtains, unique round beach towels, carry-all pouches, bath towels, phone cases, tote bags, mugs, gorgeous yoga mats, spiral notebooks and fleece blankets. Here’s what it would look like as a one of a kind weekender tote bag:

aspirational-maura-satchell weekender tote bag

Need a great gift idea? Consider this weekender tote bag using “Aspirational” design by Contemporary Artist Maura Satchell.

If you love the idea of a unique work of art such as Aspirational, let’s talk! As mentioned, this painting is for sale, or perhaps you’d like something similar but in a different pallette. I hold slots for commissioned works and have a few available in the coming months.

 

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Review: Dancing with the beast album by Gretchen Peters


Gretchen at GOLThere are lyrics, and there are muse-inspired-words-as-gifts-from-the-heavens LYRICS. And Dancing With the Beast by Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter and singer Gretchen Peters is an album for the ages. It really taps into the zeitgeist of these tumultuous times, with nearly every song a mini-story of it’s own, told from different women’s vantage points. If you love ballads, this girl’s your girl…

There is darkness, I won’t lie, on this album, but it is the kind that rips you apart, sends you to hell and back. And when you resurface, you are changed. And lighter. Like when you exit a sad, sorrowful movie, tear-stained, into the sunlight, appreciative for your situation and circumstances.

Not familiar with Gretchen? Rick Bayles of Americana UK sums her bountiful songwriting skills and the breadth and depth of this latest album best:

 Peters’ great strength as a songwriter is that she’s not afraid to take on the difficult subjects and not above shining a little light into those darker recesses of the soul. While others might write happy songs about new love or bittersweet reflections on past affairs this artist will readily take on old age, prostitution, child abuse – let’s not forget she first came to prominence as the writer of Martina McBride’s controversial single ‘Independence Day’, celebrating an abused wife fighting back; a song that went on to win Song of the Year at the Country Music Association’s awards in 1995 and earned Gretchen Peters a Grammy nomination. This new recording once again deals with the difficult subjects; these are adult content songs written for a thinking audience by an intelligent artist. The fact that they are also beautifully played, sung and produced is the icing on a particularly enjoyable cake.

Don’t take my words for it, or Rick Bayles’. Listen for yourself at her website. All I know is, it is MTPB: Music to paint by.

Disclaimer 1: Gretchen is my sister-in-law and her husband and band mate, sublime musician and composer-extraordinaire, Barry Walsh, my brother.

Disclaimer #2: I consider myself musically illiterate, having been kicked out of piano lessons taught by a widow whose sole income was teaching piano to the little children of Packanack Lake, NJ.

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Royal Wedding and Diana’s Legacy


CaptureI am not a die hard Royal fan or follower. They are human, not to be put on a pedastal. That’s not to say Princess Diana’s wedding didn’t influence my choice of gowns for my first wedding, or that the day she passed remains one burnt in my memory to today. Or that, upon her death, I was moved to send a heartfelt letter to her sons. No doubt one of millions, but there you go.

Today, I rejoice, thinking upon her life, her legacy. And I am struck by the fact that she would be so happy over this occasion. And it seems, her legacy has come full circle. I wish the newlyweds all happiness and urge them to carry on in her name and burn brightly in this world, shining lightness and joy to all the darkest corners of humanity in memory of Diana and her legacy.

I don’t have a work of art to add to this post yet, but have no doubt this occasion will inspire one! Stay tuned and it will be added in days or weeks ahead.

Godspeed, beautiful couple! May your lives be filled with joy and happiness and may you bring same to our world.

 

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First Holy Communion


First Holy Communion

It is May and my brain was fixated on this rite of passage of every Catholic school child everywhere – the sacrament of First Holy Communion. I worked on this painting in multiple layers which obscure hidden secrets and symbols. It is mostly in oil over acrylic, with subtle gold leaf inlay, charcoal, graphite, ink and woodcut imprints.

I have been working on this painting for a good long while and it is finally birthed! “First Holy Communion” is an abstract painting in the vein of sacred art or religious artwork, but with an abstract twist. It is one of those that HAD to be painted. The muse beckoned… I already had the title in mind when working on this and it holds some deeply personal meaning to me in some of the symbols and images hidden within.

It is painted on Strathmore 400 140 lb (300 gsm) acid free cold-pressed paper, 18h x 24w. The original artwork is available for sale via Saatchi, along with high quality art prints and canvas reprints in limited sizes. Other merchandise and other print sizes are available through Fine Art America.

If you love this painting but would like to make an art acquisition of something in similar vein but using different colors, think about commissioning one of your own for your personal art collection or as a truly unique gift for someone special. I have limited slots available so why not ask?

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Watercolor poppy


Watercolor poppy LRThe journey this small watercolor postcard has enjoyed!

I don’t mean it’s left my confines, but as a very small work, I have misplaced it on several occasions. I love this little painting and in general love painting poppies. I used India Ink and watercolor to create the stark contrast between the delicate, paper-thin blossom and the stark black seed center.

Though this original is tiny, as a print it packs a giant graphic punch as in this mockup of what it might look like as living room decor:

watercolor poppy

Fun, huh? With a little imagination, and a click on one of these two links, you can purchase a fine art print or canvas print in sizes up to 40″ wide.

Saatchi – highest quality fine art paper or canvas prints in limited sizes.

Fine Art America – more size options and soft goods too (i.e. shower curtains, throw pillows, notecards, cellphone cases, weekender tote bags, journals, zippered carryall pouches, beach towels, etc.

The 4 x 6″ postcard original is for sale (now that I’ve found it). If interested in it or another unique but similar original in a different size, contact me!

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