Friday, October 26, 2007

Use What You've Got.

If you were on an island with no paper, and you had to make a map of the island so you could remember many years down the road where you had buried your fabulous treasure and pass that information on to your wily pirate protege, what would you do?

Use wood, of course.

Claw Island

Deception Island

Sea of the Sun

Introducing my latest project, treasure maps on wood. These will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10, and if they are still with me at the end of the show, will then make their way into my shop.

Rain, rain, you can stay...

... for a little while, anyway.

I think the skies are trying to make up in two days what they slacked off on all summer.

I know what that's like.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For the First Time Ever...

...I really did just spew coffee all over my keyboard. I've spit, gurgled and snorted coffee while looking at things online before, but this was the real deal.

I totally spaced on giving credit... I found this video via Bel's Nook. (Sorry, Belinda!)

Feeling Oh So Good.

I don't think being featured in an Etsy treasury could ever lose its thrill. Seeing the little gold star that means one of my items is featured in a treasury totally makes my day.

This time, my Rainbow Serpent painting is featured in "Pinky's Feel Good Treasury," curated by Sharona Reouveni, aka raisinlike. Sharona makes puppets, my favorite of which is Max the Martian, who, like me, eats his French fries with mayonnaise.

I have always loved puppets -- who wouldn't, growing up in The Muppet Show era? But they've taken a new place of prominence in our lives lately, since a coworker of my husband lent him two DVDs of comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.

I don't even like standup that much. And before the puppets came out of the suitcase, when he was just warming up alone on stage, I thought, who is this guy and why in the world did they give him a standing ovation?" But ever since the purple puppet Peanut started singing "Jef-fuh-fah... DunHAM... dotcooooooooommmmmm!", we have been walking around the house doing the same. Sometimes in round robin. Now, a man who can get perfect strangers across the country to walk around singing the name of his web site is an absolute genius. Jeff Dunham, therefore... a genius. And oh so funny. And, yes, he's outrageously talented.

You can watch clips here, but I highly recommend begging, borrowing, or, uh, well we don't sanction illegal behavior on this blog, but getting your hands on a copy of Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself or Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity (that's the one with "Jef-fuh-fah... DunHAM... dotcooooooooommmmmm!", I think).

And if you have a moment, do stop by the treasury today.

*member-curated galleries that are posted online from two to three days

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oasis in the Desert

Northern Nevada is a different kind of desert from that of most people's imagination. The only cactus I've ever seen there is the one I tried to grow in our greenhouse window as a kid. I killed it by overwatering it. I think I watered it once a week. Ungrateful little cactus.

I grew up 12 miles north of Reno, in a community called Stead (technically in the Reno city limits), half a mile or so from the Stead airport, where the Reno air races are held. The land is mostly brown dirt, and the main vegetation is sagebrush (this is our neighborhood around 1988, shot by my stepfather from a glider).

Stead from Glider ca 1988

Sagebrush smells incredible in the rain, but as you can imagine, there's not a lot of rain in the desert. I am sure that experts would tell me that there is a lot of life that I don't see, and I am sure they'd be right, and certainly the mountains have a lot of beautiful trees. But that's what the Nevada desert is to me. Dirt and sagebrush. I think it's beautiful. But it isn't what I'd call lush.


Stead and the surrounding area have grown substantially since I moved away in the early 90s, so much so that the last time I flew into Reno after dark, I had no idea I was flying over my own neighborhood. The lights of Stead had more than doubled and the whole mass of lights had changed shape, from a long recognizable strip of populated land to a shapeless blob (these are some of the new houses).


A lot of that growth is warehouses; for whatever reason, the area seems to hold appeal for large national companies, perhaps because the land is cheap, or because there is a railroad spur out there, already in place. So imagine my surprise when my mother, on my road trip, insisted that there were wetlands out in the desert. And she drove me back behind some warehouses, which cover the land where we once went dirt-bike-riding.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (32)

I knew there were no wetlands out there. It's the desert.

I was wrong.

These two photos are walking distance apart.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (29)

Thanks to the Nevada Army National Guard, the Bureau of Land Management, the Lahontan Audubon Society, and a host of other organizations, there have been 1,800 acres of wetlands out there, known as the Swan Lake Nature Study Area, since 1999. The marsh was already there, it seems, unknown to most and therefore unappreciated, and in need of some protection.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (12)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (0)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (10)

It is quiet, and peaceful, a true sanctuary.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (5)

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (16)

More than 150 species of birds have been spotted there.

28_Swan_Lake_Marsh (1)

So let me please take this opportunity to say I am really sorry about the "indiscriminate use by dirt bikes." I had no idea we were disturbing the birds. I really had no idea there were any birds.

Thank you to those people who worked so hard to conserve an incredible resource. (The world could use more people like you.) As much as I love the dusty majesty of the high desert, it is sweetly enchanting to know there is this secret greenery tucked behind the warehouses and the sagebrush.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bravo, Etsy.

Check it out... Etsy not only made it on to Time's list of the 50 best web sites of 2007, but made it all the way to number 5. Fantastic!

Etsy deserves the honor. It not only gives those of us who make things a usable and dedicated space to peddle our wares, it gives buyers an easy way to find affordable, quality handmade goods, a true luxury in today's world.

Now I have to wrestle the temptation to spend the rest of the day looking at the other 49 web sites.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Not-so-shady Dealings

I am pleased to announce that I am officially going to be a vendor at the Norfolk Craft Mafia's Handmade Parade. I always thought it would be exciting to be involved with the mafia, and I can now confirm, yes, I am pretty excited! If you're anywhere nearby, please stop by.

Let's have a toast!

Hooray, hooray!
Two posts in one day!

There are some days when rhyming is just impossible to avoid. But this post is short, too, because it's late in the evening (now I have Paul Simon's voice in my head), and I am about to eat dinner (burritos, yum). Just wanted to let you know that I'm officially going to be a vendor at the Norfolk Craft Mafia's Handmade Parade (hooray! hooray!).

If you're in the area, please stop by and say hello! Remember, it's organized by the mafia, so I will once again be delighted to bribe people to stop at my table.

On the Other Side (of the World)

This pirouetting dancer is interesting. I see her going clockwise, and although I've always thought that I am right-brained with a good dose of left-brainedness, I cannot get her to change direction.

Via Five and a Half.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Treasury Map

It's a very lucky day for me... My artwork is featured in two Etsy treasuries at once! Wowza. Yippee!

My Kingdom of Delight print is featured in Happily Ever After


My brand-new tiny framed original, Four Masts, is featured in Sailing Like Columbus.

Stop by soon, because that first one is expiring in three hours. Thank you, piratesandpixies and kerri9494!

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I've just listed a few of my framed mini paintings and maps in my Etsy shop -- what's the French for "ready-to-hang?" Pret-a-hanger?

Let me know what you think! My favorite is, well, no, I won't tell you that. They're all my favorites.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Speechlessly honored

Mrs. Dragon, of Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE), has featured my artwork on her blog this week. I have no words of my own to express the gratitude I feel for her words. It's a tremendous honor to be highlighted, an even bigger honor to be highlighted so eloquently, beautifully, charmingly.

I feel a little like Sally Field right now, and that's not a bad thing.


The convention was great fun and a fantastic (no pun intended, really) learning experience. Mainly, I learned that peddling my wares to crowds of strangers is a lot more fun and a lot less overwhelming that I had expected. I will actually be looking forward to the next time, now, instead of stressing so needlessly.

You can read more and see pictures of my table here (I'm really proud of that table). I didn't sell a whole lot, but I had a very good time, especially once Al brought me coffee on Saturday. I got a lot of attention, which felt good, and received a lot of compliments. I did learn that I actually am more energetic when I am trying to keep myself awake, because I stand up and move around and reach out to people more, than when I've had a full night's sleep, in which case, such as on Sunday, I am far more mellow and quiet and far less interesting. Strange, eh? So clearly, next time, I should stay up until 2 a.m. the night before, like I did this time. Of course, my exhaustion might have made some strange things come out of my mouth. I'm not sure.

Also, I have received the tremendous compliment of a wonderful review on Mrs. Dragon's blog, here. It is always a bit strange to see yourself through other people's eyes; she has made it feel great.

As for the uncreative title of this post, yeah, sorry about that. I'm just getting back into the swing of things, back on track. Seems I'm always trying to do that. One of these days, I might actually be good at it.

And speaking of the swing of things, I generally try keep this blog free of sports and politics, but I must just say, GO PHILS. What a feat. I knew you could do it. Thanks for the most nail-biting week of baseball I've ever watched. I'll be telling my grandkids about this. Woo-hoo!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Showing off


My first live-and-in-person art show/sale was a great success. A few of my magnets and prints and one of my very favorite paintings are on their way to new homes, and I wish them well in their journey (and I hope I get used to this sweet sadness when I say goodbye to an original, because it is such an incredible feeling to think of other people gracing their walls with my paintings).

Equally as important, this was a fantastic opportunity to explore the public side of being an artist. The event was not huge, which was a great thing for me, because I never felt overwhelmed, and I also had a chance to practice reaching out to passersby and talking to people without worrying too much about interrupting one person to talk to someone else.


Of course, it always helps to offer chocolate. Sometimes, I practically shouted, "Hey! Come get some treasure!" And people would give me a funny look, which in itself is not necessarily uncommon at an event like this one, and then edge closer, and look at me questioningly, and I'd add more quietly, "It's chocolate." I think it is a worthy goal to make the world a better place by handing out free chocolate.

But I was both surprised and delighted by how many people stopped by my table even before the offer of chocolate. So many compliments and questions and conversations about maps and cartography. Many people signed up for my mailing list, took brochures and took MOO cards. (If you're one of them, hello and welcome and thank you for stopping by! Please let me know you're here!).


I was very proud of the way I set up my table - after hours of tormented thought about where I could find a tablecloth big enough for a ten-foot table, it occurred to me that a canvas dropcloth, the house-painting kind - would be a bit like a ship's sail. Perhaps too big for me to iron, but attractive nonetheless. Al suggested the fishing net and the shells, and he built the display board for the little paintings.


The treasure chests were a natural display option; and I am very, very pleased by the "brass" sign for the Interimaginational Institute (this photo from the practice table I set up in our living room the night before).


I wanted it to look like the brass plaque one might find outside some kind of Victorian academic society housed in a pompous stone building in an old city, and in the right light, I think it does.

Next time, I'd like to add some more props to the fantasy/make-believe side of things... I love the way the net and treasure accented the treasure maps, but the realms and lands were slightly underflaunted, even if they didn't complain, not once. The purple velvet scarf - a hand-me-down I've had tucked away for years - was a good royal touch, though.


All in all, a great first outing. AND, as you see, I got to dress up, which is always a good reason to get up in the morning.


The larger paintings, I hope, pending my acceptance to the show, will be going with me to the Handmade Parade in Norfolk on November 10; until it is time to prepare for that show, I will make some of the smaller framed mini-paintings available on my Etsy shop, starting tomorrow afternoon. The magnets (which I don't make by hand) are available on my Cafe Press site. I will be experimenting with my own handmade magnet recipe soon, so keep an eye out for those!

Happy travels, my friends.