Posted on Leave a comment

Gossamer Wings

 

Quiet Yearning LR

Gossamer Wings is a soft-colored mixed media abstract painting using oil pastels, acrylic paint, charcoal, graphite and ink on 11 x 15 inches 140gsm archival paper created in an abstract expressionist style using techniques akin to Jackson Pollock with hints of Willem De Kooning.

The original is for sale directly from me or Saatchi’s online gallery which also offers various high quality print products. Other products — a shower curtain, duvet cover, pillows, and more are even available through Fine Art America.

Love it, but don’t need to make a purchase? Crow about it to your friends and be sure to follow me on your favorite social media platforms, be they Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Posted on Leave a comment

An artist’s thoughts on Wales (based on a breakneck-speed tour of the countryside)

If you’ve never ventured into Wales from England, Scotland or Ireland, do so, immediately! If you are a fan of natural beauty and our earth’s glory, the gorgeous and rugged terrain is something you won’t want to miss.

My better half and I drove straight through the country from the border of England to the Atlantic Coast, halting in Barmouth to visit family there. Though way too short, the ride was stunning and I took zillions of photos from my passenger’s seat with the intention of doing a series of paintings on this lush countryside one day. Stay tuned for those, but for now, here are a few examples:

Posted on Leave a comment

24 years: where did the time go?

1934719_10153692501774145_6498147079418175323_n

Hard to believe, but 24 years ago today I married this wonderful guy… I was late to the ceremony (my BFF and I misplaced the car keys in a Rhoda Morgenstern-like scene from The Mary Tyler Moore Show). Kindergartner Peter had fallen in the melting snow and his smart-looking navy suit was all muddy.

But we managed to tie the knot in front of friends and family at a lovely Skating Chalet in Connecticut at a stone hearth with a crackling fire where the roses opened just right. We had little money between us but had the richness of love to spare.

I love you, David and I’d do it all over again!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Look beyond the lapel pin

A VMFP panel discussion gets underway at the 2009 Biennial conference in Arlington, VA.
A VMFP panel discussion gets underway at the 2009 Biennial conference in Arlington, VA.

Six years ago this weekend, Veterans and Military Families for Progress held its biennial national conference in Arlington, Virginia. I was a founding member and for several years served on the board of the national 501(c)4 organization. That weekend event hosted high-ranking government officials from the VA, DOD, a number of national veterans non-profits and other agencies and organizations.  And it was my great honor to serve as chair of the three-day event.

The conference covered weighty issues such as the challenges faced by veterans transitioning to civilian life, reconnecting with their families, and rejoining the workforce. An awards gala recognized the legislative advocacy of Congressman Chris Smith of NJ, former Cabinet Secretary Max Cleland, and Bob Woodruff, the TV News Anchor injured in Iraq. And through a fundraising effort, we were able to reunite and host an entire U.S. Army Fireteam that served together in Iraq.

I’d been involved in Veterans causes since high school when I served as a “candystriper” for not one but two local Veterans Administration hospitals in the Nashville area. The fact that my dad served directly under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in the European theater during WWII and an uncle was a Marine officer killed at Iwo Jima added to my desire to serve veterans. But becoming a blue star mom was the thing that confirmed my commitment to this noble but small percent of the population as I endured the deployments of my two sons to Iraq a total of five times.

Living in Tennessee at the time, the weekend before that major conference in Virginia, my husband and I were fortunate to volunteer in Operation Stand Down Tennessee’s weekend stand down annual event collecting, sorting and distributing warm clothing for homeless veterans living in the Nashville area who were fortunate enough to be bused to that weekend event. I might sound corny, but my eyes still tear up as I think about those individuals, what they endured and continue to endure because of their service and duty to our nation.

In three weeks time it will be Veterans Day. All over the country politicians will be pinning their Old Glory flags to their lapels.  I’d like to believe they keep our Veterans and those serving and their families in mind as they ponder legislation, budgets and taxes.  I’m afraid that’s not always the case and have found it helpful to follow the legislative updates of non-partisan veterans organizations out there to find out what’s really going on and who’s really advocating on their behalf and who’s really just sticking on the lapel pin for show. Another way is to delve more deeply into their particular voting record for yourself at Project Votesmart. It’s time consuming, but if you’re passionate about it, it will be worth your time to cut through “the filter” to parse votes yourself.

Posted on Leave a comment

Me: Part 2

Us and boysAfter a couple of years in the country, we relocated back to Nashville where I went through two years of high school before another move to Murfreesboro, an hour south of Nashville. During my high school, I got involved in school programs, ranging from sports – basketball, track and swimming – to acting (yes, acting!) and church (I was secretary of our CYO group) and even earned a 100 hour badge as a candystriper volunteering at the local V.A. hospital.

Despite all these activities, the transition to Murfreesboro was tough since I’d left some close, wonderful friends behind during a crucial time in my teenage years to try to gain acceptance in a school where most everyone had grown up together. I processed my feelings in writing and escaped into books even more. In fact, I often got in trouble for reading off-topic in class — even honors English class.

I absolutely loved writing and felt comfortable doing so. So much so, that in college, I frequently wrote other student’s term papers along with my own.  I left school to earn a paycheck, married young and soon had a couple of children and life as a stay at home mom bringing in a little side money as a sportswriter for a local weekly paper and then working as a stringer for another local newspaper.

My tumultuous six-year-marriage ended so I entered the ranks of the 9-5 employed in customer service. A few years later I remarried a wonderful man — my best friend — and continued to work, too busy to write. I returned to school and received a B.A. (cum laude, I might add) in Mass Comm from Middle Tennessee State University. While there, I was writing for the school newspaper and as a stringer with the Tennessean, covering some random stories from a major pollution issue to the cotton crop’s prospects to tragedies such as a young boy dying from diabetes.

After graduating, I moved into a fulltime reporters role with a suburban Nashville daily paper and wrote for a few years longer before deciding a corporate communications job would be more lucrative. I simultaneously joined forces with a friend of my brothers and co-wrote a screenplay and, with my partner’s approval, wrote the subsequent novel based on the story. It gathered dust on a shelf as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged on but I’m glad to say became my first published novel, Empty Sky, which was finally published in 2014.

The art came into play this way: My two sons joined different branches of the military and served in Iraq. They both served in the infantry and both were embroiled in some of the worst fighting during our years there. My eldest, a Marine, was in Nasariyah in the beginning of the war which was described as “a Turkey Shoot, with our Marines as the targets.”  My younger son was in the mechanized infantry in Anbar Province where half-ton IEDs were the widow-makers and son-stealers.

I’ll be honest. It unbalanced me for a few years. Not that I became a raging alcoholic or ended up in an institution. Rather, I let anger and outrage over what I perceived as an egregiously ill-advised course of action eat away at me. I was bitter and intense and outspoken and not a pleasant person to be around.

Then I found art.

My sons were stateside and safe and I was able to let down my guard. With a makeshift studio beckoning, I taught myself some basics and took classes and workshops and found a community of fellow artists to paint with.  It was the release I needed and at once my soul felt so much lighter!

Technological advances sent my consulting business the way of travel agencies, and forced me to find steady employment. I did, and have since moved to Florida with my husband. Thankfully, we have a great home with a great studio and separate office where I can paint or write as is my inclination. I decided after finally publishing Empty Sky last year to take a stab at completing the sketch of another story I’d started years ago. Over this past several months I finished it. It is my sweet second novel The Gray Lady of Long Branch and it’s being released August 25.  I hope you’ll consider reading it!

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Random revelations culled during our recent visit to Wincanton, UK

The weather in England isn’t always rainy and miserable.  In fact, while we were there, it was glorious, sunny and perfect!

Climbing to the top of the Glastonbury Tor isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.  The view from the top, while gorgeous, is a bit scary.  It’s windy as all get out.  But it is soooo worth it and IMHO, should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Dorset and Somerset have some of the most beautiful countryside in all of Christendom. Or at least the U.K., based on my limited knowledge of the country. And that of my stepson, a UK native.

Wincanton in Somerset is a beautiful and enjoyable market town, not just a racecourse, although having visited, it does spark in me the desire to re-read Dick Francis and the books by his son, Felix as well.

Visit the Wincanton Primary School schoolyard in the afternoon and watch the parents pick up their children, you’ll feel like you’re watching the start of schoolyear at Hogwarts (minus the wands and book of incantations of course). I have to give my hubs attribution for this observation since he’s the one who aired it as we wound our way through the (mostly) fair-haired youngsters and their equally fair-haired parents, nans and granddads.

There’s an awesome farm store offering local meats, produce, and other great British food treats located between Sherborne and Shaftesbury. It won the gold medal at Taste of the West in 2014, so check it out if you are in the area.

Speaking of Shaftesbury, what a lovely, lovely place!  We took a daytrip there and started with the best “full English” breakfast I think I’ve ever had – it was at The John Peel . Then, we had to work off the meal, of course, so trekked over to Gold Hill, a breathtakingly picturesque hill that’s been dubbed one of the most romantic sights in England. It has been featured in movies, television ads, on the cover of books and more. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.

One final stop during our days in Somerset was a visit to Clarks Village in Street (yes, that’s the name of the town — located just across the river from Glastonbury.)  This pretty outdoor outlet mall was made much better by the great spring weather we enjoyed while visiting. It has more than 90 retail outlet stores including great high-end designer shops, along with restaurants and more. A very pleasant and worthwhile trek if you have the time. Especially, if like me, you are a fan of Clark footwear.

Below are a few of the photos of our trip there. If you’d like to see more, jump over to my Photobucket album.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Our girl is gone

Dalmatian with Will Rogers quote
Our dog Smokey, in younger, healthier times and the wonderful Will Rogers quote “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

Smokey, our beloved Dalmatian, has been a member of our family since 2002 and it was with great sadness that we had to put her to sleep last weekend.

Her heart was in stage 6 congestive heart failure and her front paw had a cancerous tumor on the pad. For the past four months we’d been treating that at home with Epsom salt soaks and supportive dressings covered by a little colorful baby sock to give her style.

We knew we were facing this someday, and when that day finally came, it destroyed us.  The place is too quiet now, and I’ve been unable to spend time in the office since her passing, as she was my constant companion in this room.  I’m here today only to record this blog and take on a few other business needs before closing the door again.

I know I’ll be painting her in the future.  Processing the loss and her sweet loving life will come in time. But for now, this is all I can manage.  RIP Smokey beloved hound.

Posted on Leave a comment

Christmastime in South Florida

Florida in December

The holiday season — December and New Year’s — in South Florida is a time to behold!  Dry, cool and pleasant.  And by chance I discovered that it stays lighter far longer in the evenings than it does up north!

So, we had some friends over and celebrated with some great food, wine and company on the lanai. Lovely!  We hope your holidays were pleasant too!

wine on the lanai

Posted on Leave a comment

Aggrandize the damage

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks withgold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.
When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks withgold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.

Growing up as a middle child (seventh of nine), I was the queen of hand-me-downs and leftovers. I also got left at stores more than once as my mother shepherded the rest of the kids into the old blue dodge station wagon not realizing one little chickadee was playing quietly alone in some corner of the store or another. I vividly remember one of the incidents and still recall the image of the vehicle driving off as I stood there. Bear in mind, this was decades before cellphones. Thankfully, the shopkeeper was a lovely lady. With a great duck pull-toy with cool bright yellow paddles that spun. No worries there!

A few years later, at the age of 10 or 11, I suffered third-degree burns in a kitchen accident and was in the hospital (Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital) for nearly six weeks. In a perverse way, it became a gift to me. For once in my life, I was THE CENTER of attention. My parents came to visit, brought friends, cards, gifts from people I hadn’t heard from in ages. My demeanor was bright and cheery. So much so, according to my mother, that some of the physicians would come into my room to get “cheered up” themselves. Despite the pain and suffering (don’t get me wrong, there was a ton of that at times), there was some great good to be had.

BUT, I was a competitive swimmer before the accident and went back to swimming even after the burns on my legs and thighs had healed, though I bore dark, thick visible scars. The doctors had deemed it unwise to perform plastic surgery and skin grafts at that age. I learned to shrug off the stares and comments of those unable to hide their reaction to my unsightly scars and developed a thick inner skin to match the thick scar tissue that encased much of my upper thighs and behind one knee.

As I got older, I realized those scars made me who I was — a deep and insightful person — far more interested in what was below a person’s surface than the exterior package. I never did get the skin graft surgery. In the end, I learned to celebrate my scars. Embrace them.Revel in them. That is why, when I saw this image, I had to co-opt it.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a fracture, scar or chip that you have learned to celebrate?

Posted on Leave a comment

Oh the Animals!

Who doesn’t love visiting animals in natural-ish settings?  We sure do and trekked over to Busch Gardens Tampa today!  We’re exhausted, but get a load of some of the photos we captured.  By we, I mean the Hubs and I.  And for the record, yes, I did go on a couple of the wilder rides.  He held our stuff and stayed at ground level.