Whew! That was a busy weekend!

SATURDAY

Saturday morning, my sweetheart and I drove up to Merchantville to check out the Mystical May Holistic Street Festival, where I was delighted to see vendor friends Dot Pakstis (Dorothy Claire Crystals) and Jody Thorpe (Mystical Blossoms) and to meet Jeannie Francis of Spirit to Sole Connection and do a bit of shopping at Aradia’s Treasure. And then we drove down Route 130 to head to Woodbury, which is where the wonderful creator space MADE Artisan Marketplace is located.

MADE Artisan Marketplace is in the process of moving into a renovated building at 65 N. Broad Street in Woodbury, between the Courthouse and Charlie Brown’s, if you know Woodbury at all. It will contain selling space for local artists, classroom space, gallery space, space for Say It With Clay, and spaces for artists in resident. PLUS there will be coffee—PAINTED BRIDGE Espresso Bar will be located in the space as well!

Below you can see my artwork set up on a couple of shelves. I will also be dropping off greeting cards, which will go elsewhere in the space. You can also see me with MADE’s indefatigable owner, Jamilah Damiani.

BUT WAIT! That isn’t all we did on Saturday. Because once Morris and I left MADE in the early afternoon, we drove down to Cape May, where our first stop was at Olde Pear Primitives. I had a great time catching up with owner Genevieve Lugo, and I dropped off some new stock. Below you can see a photo of Genevieve and I taken by Morris, and some pics of the products I made taken by Genevieve. (I didn’t make the cool metal tree, nor did I do that awesome painted woodturning image of the state of New Jersey, which was created by the talented Ashlesha of Henna by Ash.

I hope you noticed the super cute red, white & blue heart garlands that are on the tree and lined up in a box. I hand-painted those papers and drew every single star myself, then punched out and strung the hearts on baker’s twine. They look so charming on that metal tree!

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After we left Olde Pear, Morris and enjoyed a nice stroll over to Beach Avenue, where we walked along the sidewalk that skirts the dunes and looked out over the ocean. We eventually made our way down to the Rusty Nail, where we had adult beverages (a mojito for me, a bourbon-based drink for Morris) and a tasty dinner. Eventually we wandered back to our car and drove home, where I spent the next several hours packing and working on pricing for my event on Sunday.

SUNDAY

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY! (I totally just said that aloud like the announcer for a local speedway, in case you wondered.) If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, then you may remember me mentioning Decompress South Jersey. You can read my last post, which was all about it and included photos of my kids when they were (extremely small and) at Will-Moor Gymnastics old location.

I really loved my setup at Will-Moor, which you can see from two different angles above. And it was great to catch up with other vendor friends, including April of Willow Moon Candles, Rita of Jularee, Aimee of Relics Revisited, Jody of Mystical Blossoms, and Margeaux of Proud Mary Designs. It was inspiring watching Alisha teach Zumba, Stacia doing aerial yoga, Cheryl leading Buti yoga, and oh, it was magical listening to Jody do a sound healing session with her singing bowls.

And that’s, to paraphrase Walter Cronkite (yes, I am old—he was an extraordinarily popular and famous newscaster when I was a kid), the weekend that was.

Decompress South Jersey

I am so excited about an upcoming event. On Sunday, May 19th, I will be one of the vendors selling inside Will-Moor Gymnastics in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. I will, however, be OUTSIDE the main event, which is a wonderful four-hour wellness event featuring four separate workshops. Attendance at the main event will cost you $35, and gets you all four workshops including Buti yoga with Buti and the Beast, silks with Light as a Feather Yoga, Zumba with Alisha Negron and Sound Bowl Meditation with Mystical Blossoms.

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I will be bringing along greeting cards as well as original artwork, including quite a few chakra-related pieces. It will be super fun for me to be back at Will-Moor. And no, I haven’t been there as a vendor before. In fact, the last time I was there, it was just about 21 years ago, as a proud mama. Both of my girls went to their weekly program as part of their daycare program back in the day.

Seriously, how cute were my little girlies? (They are both equally cute now, just older. And a bit taller.) Below you can see some of the pieces that I intend to bring along. They include two chakra rainbow pieces, as well as four abstract landscapes, all of which are matted and ready to frame.

I hope to see you there!

Mandala murals

I am overjoyed that I had the opportunity to spend three days at Peace Love Yoga in Glassboro, painting mandalas on the walls as murals. Well, technically “mandala” is Sanskrit for “circle”, and I painted half a mandala on one wall, and just over one quarter of a mandala on another.

The finished mural on the large wall.

The finished mural on the large wall.

Mandalas come from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, and have been described as follows by the BBC in an article about sacred sand mandalas:

A mandala is a symbolic picture of the universe. It can be a painting on a wall or scroll, created in coloured sands on a table, or a visualisation in the mind of a very skilled adept.

The mandala represents an imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation. Each object in the palace has significance, representing an aspect of wisdom or reminding the meditator of a guiding principle. The mandala's purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing.

Below, you can get a look at the project at various points in the process. If you click on an image, it should embiggen for you so you can see it a bit better.

If you are interested in seeing what close to five hours of mural painting looks like, I’ve got you covered:

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And, of course, I am on fairly strict rest for the remainder of this week, because my joints were overtaxed (ladders, painting) and now require a bit of TLC. My wrists are both sporting braces, in fact, just to help them rest better and to ensure I don’t overdo things. It’s super hard to do too much when you can’t bend your wrists!

I am in a perfectly good mood, despite the extra aches and twinges. How could I not be, when I spent so much time creating a large, happy mandala—twice? If you get a chance to take a yoga class at Peace Love Yoga, check out my work in Studio 1. And if you are interested in receiving more behind-the-scenes information and in information about positive living, please subscribe to my (mostly) weekly newsletter!

Olde Pear Primitives and more news

I am delighted to share the two images below, both of which were taken by Genevieve at Olde Pear Primitives in Cape May, New Jersey this week. The first one is a watercolor seascape that I painted, which is nestled with some jewelry, and the second is a watercolor sailboat, playing nicely with some soap and bath bombs.

I am tickled every day, knowing that my artwork is available in this marvelous shop in Cape May. And, of course, I have art tambourines available at Mystic Gingery Collective in Blackwood, NJ, and also at the Grand Galleria in Williamstown, NJ.

This weekend, I will be painting murals on the walls of the main studio at Peace Love Yoga in Glassboro. Pictures to follow—though I am really glad that I’ve been promised some helpers, because I’ve been having a few joint issues lately (thanks, rheumatoid arthritis!), so I can use the assistance.

Next weekend, I will be dropping off artwork at MADE. Artisan Marketplace in Woodbury, New Jersey, which will (hopefully) be open to the public starting in May. All while making art and planning what to take with me on May 19th, when I will be at the Decompress South Jersey event at Will-Moor School of Gymnastics up in Mount Laurel.

A 5” square heart collage in spring colors.

A 5” square heart collage in spring colors.

And now, to get dressed for tonight’s seder with family. Happy Passover! And to those of you celebrating the Christian holidays, Happy Easter!

A Business Dream Come True

I consider myself a lucky girl, even if I am typing this while wearing a wrist brace on my left arm and nursing a bum right hip. I’ve had a LOT of my business dreams come true since I started my art business in August of 2017. Last year saw me accepted into a major, juried art show, selling at street festivals, with tambourines for sale in a local gallery here in Williamstown, and interviewed on TV about my art practice, among other things. Like the studio addition on our house, which is just a gorgeous, light-filled space. One of my goals was also to get my pieces into stores, and I’ve already told you about Mystic Ginger Collective, which is seriously just the best salon space I’ve set foot in—it’s simply filled with positive energy, and as a person who is susceptible to that these days (I’ve gone full “woo”, I believe), you can just feel things become lighter as you enter Kellee’s space in Blackwood.

But today, today was a specific business dream come true. You see, somewhere around December of 2017 or January of 2018, I sat down and wrote a big list of goals, some of which were perhaps more in the “wish” category. And one of my fondest desires was to have my art in a shop or gallery in Cape May. And today, that dream came true, when the beautiful shop Olde Pear Primitives opened in its new location at 523 Lafayette Street in Cape May, New Jersey.

Some of this is to say that making vision boards and writing out your dreams really does work, at least some of the time. I mean, if that’s all I ever did, I doubt this would have come to pass, but the fact that I brought that idea from the ether into the real world by writing it down first, and then took action by networking and attending events, one of which led to this amazing opportunity . . . well, let’s just say, it’s the Universe at work. I’m super happy and thankful today!

Gee, but it's great to be back home

And yes, I am old enough that I am actually quoting from a Simon & Garfunkel song from 1970. The song is “Keep the Customer Satisfied”, and it’s off Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here’s the first stanza:

Gee but it’s great to be back home
Home is where I want to be.
I’ve been on the road so long my friend,
And if you came along
I know you couldn’t disagree.

I’m just hoping not to have been slandered and libeled everywhere I go. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, click on through to YouTube and have a listen.

Dogwood from a rest area in North Carolina

Dogwood from a rest area in North Carolina

I am super happy to report that Dad is continuing to improve after his esophagectomy (esophageal cancer is no joke, yo, but he is likely to beat it as a result of the excellent treatment he has received at MUSC in Charleston, SC). His feeding tube came out on Tuesday (huzzah!) since he did such a good job tapering off of it. And he’s back on the golf course as I type this.

I am now back in New Jersey, where spring is still in its earlier stages—I feel somewhat lucky to have spent six weeks in the south and experienced mid- to late-spring in South Carolina, only to drive home again to where spring is just entering its middle phase. Of course, I literally drove through miles of “tree sex” in northern North Carolina yesterday on my way here, where the pollen was so thick it looked like a haze. Profligate trees!

Today I’m working on matting some of the smaller pieces I painted while in South Carolina. I think they are looking really great —these are in 8” square mats, with 4” square cutouts. The two on the left are chakra rainbows (which is why red is on the bottom). You may or may not have realized that the colors for the chakras from root to crown are the same as the seven colors of the rainbow, ROY G BIV: red orange yellow green blue indigo violet. But in a naturally occurring rainbow, red is on the top of the arc, and violet on the inside/bottom. I painted these the reflect the chakra alignment (though I guess you could flip the one that is just stripes to suit yourself). The pieces on the right are abstract landscapes.

The next step is packaging them in sleeves. Is it weird that I ran out of steam and just can’t even with that right now? Possibly. But it was a long drive home after a long time away, so I’m giving myself a break.

New card designs!

I am so excited to have several new card designs available for you! They are all made from my original artwork, as I’m sure you’ve come to expect, but I went and used a design program to add text to two of them.

As tomorrow is my birthday, it’s fitting that one of the cards is quite specifically a birthday card. The other card with added text says “Thinking of You”, and is, I think, appropriate for the regular sort of thinking of you purposes, as well as being used as a sympathy card.

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Cool and Calm

“Chart your own path” and “Thinking of you”

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Colorful

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“Happy Birthday!” and “Janet’s Light”

As always, greeting cards are available in my web shop, and are priced $5 each, or 3 for $13.50. If you would like more than three, please get in touch. I’m happy to quote you a price and hook you up. Feel free to browse greeting cards here.

And starting next Saturday, April 13th, all 24 of my greeting card designs will be available for you to shop in person at Olde Pear Primitives, located at 523 Lafayette Street in Cape May, New Jersey!

On the way to Cape May

Earlier this week I took a short break from South Carolina and flew home to New Jersey, where I got to see my husband (YAY!) and my cat (YAY!) and have an IV for my rheumatoid arthritis (yay?) and take a quick trip to one of my favorite towns in my state, Cape May, to live out a bona fide business dream.

Here’s a little roundup of the flight, husband, and IV. That’s a shot of the Virginia coast from the plane window on my way home, Morris with Kismet as we played cards, and me in one of the fancy new infusion chairs at my doctor’s office:

And then! On Friday, Morris and I drove to Cape May. Specifically, to Olde Pear Primitives, which is fixing to open on Saturday, April 13th. Olde Pear Primitives is located at 523 Lafayette Street, right on the corner by the light (near the Acme and the bike rental place, if you know Cape May at all). It’s a cheerful, welcoming space, run by a cheerful, welcoming proprietor. See?

Me with Genevieve. You can see some of the jewelry and pillows and candles already in stock in the space! Photo © Morris L. Siegel 2019

Me with Genevieve. You can see some of the jewelry and pillows and candles already in stock in the space! Photo © Morris L. Siegel 2019

Below are some images of my work on display at Olde Pear Primitives © Genevieve of Olde Pear Primitives.

Can I just share with you all how excited I am about having my work in a shop in Cape May? It’s literally a business dream come true for me. I will be selling my greeting cards (all 24 of them!) there, as well as tambourines, hot air balloon pieces, sailboat collage paintings, the small “Shine” piece you see above left, and some heart collages. You can find more about Olde Pear Primitives on their Facebook page, but the grand opening is on Saturday, April 6th! I am sorry that I’ll be missing it, but I will still be in South Carolina for a bit longer. I can’t wait to visit once it’s open, though!

Three Ways to Celebrate Spring

Whether the weather is springlike or not, the equinox will take place tomorrow at 5:58 p.m., and Spring will officially be sprung. It’s the season of new growth, and of pollen and allergies. The season of renewal, and the season that can leave some people feeling a bit flat or stuck. Today, I’m sharing with you four ideas to take action on to celebrate spring:

First, Create Space for Abundance

Not to jump on Marie Kondo’s train (although I bet it’s a really tide, neatly-folded train), but you can start by clearing some clutter. My personal policy is (and has been for the past seven years) to “get rid of everything that does not bring pleasure, beauty, or purpose into my life”. You can read six tips on how to clear clutter here. Clearing out the stuff that you no longer like, use, or want makes space for energy to circulate inside your space! You can read more about this idea in my post from October. Once you have taken out the trash, donated the stuff you no longer care to keep, and followed the other steps in my earlier post, you can start finding good ways and places in which to store your stuff. If your clothes all have homes in closets or drawers, then they won’t be strewn about your bedroom or home. It makes it simpler to find what you want when you want it, and it also reduces the amount of visual clutter in your life. If you get totally overwhelmed or are stumped with how to start in any given room, I always recommend clearing the top of the largest flat surface in the space—doing so gives your eyes a place to rest and makes the whole room look tidier in a hurry. Don’t believe me? Go into your dining room and make sure the table is cleared of stuff that doesn’t belong there (clothing, papers, crafts, shopping bags, etc.) Or go into a bedroom and clear anything that doesn’t belong on the bed off of it and make the bed. In your kitchen, clear off the island or (if you don’t have one) the longest stretch of counter space you have. Having a place in each room where your eyes can rest and not be driven wild by clutter will make you feel more relaxed and ready for spring.

Get Out

No, not the movie.

If it’s not a blizzard, tornado warning, or thunderstorm where you are, get outside. Some things you can do while you are there:

  • Take a walk in your yard or neighborhood, and keep an eye out for signs of spring. Count how many robins you spot, or look for whatever is just starting to bloom. For some of you, that might be azaleas or even roses, for others, it might be snowdrops. But look for signs of renewed life.

  • Plant something. Doesn’t matter if it’s a full garden or a single plant or shrub. Spending time outside and digging in the garden (or cleaning it up) is valuable exercise, both physically and mentally.

  • Do a quick maintenance and upgrade assessment of your yard and building(s). Are there things that need to be repaired or replaced? Do you need to get your gutters cleaned? Does your apartment door need sprucing up? Is your garden shed in need of a new roof or a lock on the door? What about your balcony or garden area? Do you need to buy or replace pots? Remove dead stuff? Plant something new? Spring is a great time for making a list of the projects you want to get to during the warmer weather.

Spruce Up Your Art Situation

An easy way to celebrate spring is to brighten the corner where you are. (And yes, I realize there’s an old hymn by Ina D. Ogden of that name, and the pun or wordplay was intentional.) You don’t have to put ginormous bunny and egg clings on your windows (though of course you can, and if you have little kids, they may really like that); you can simply add some spring touches inside and outside your home.

Outside ideas:

  • a new welcome mat; it doesn’t have to have a spring theme, but if your old one is looking sad beyond repair, this time when all those winter boots (and salt and cinders) are done is a good one to put out something new

  • a cheerful garden flag, if that’s how you roll. Could be spring-themed, or just something new and cheery.

  • a new birdbath or bird feeder, if you like having lots of avian friends

  • a new wreath or other decoration for your door; note: it doesn’t just have to be your front door. You can also perk up your door into your garage or laundry room or a side door, if that’s what you usually use to go in and out.

Inside ideas:

  • Once you’ve tidied up your front hall or foyer or sunporch, consider adding a seasonal touch; could be a small, cheerful birdhouse or a basket of eggs; could be a new piece of artwork to sit on a table or shelf, or hang on the wall to welcome your guests.

  • Take a good look at the art and photographs in each room. Do you still like the item? Do you still like its frame? If the answer to either question is no, consider replacing what you don’t like. If the answer is yes, assess whether it needs a good dusting. Wipe the frame with a soft, dry cloth, starting at the top and working your way down the sides, finishing with the bottom. If the piece has glass over it, decide whether the glass needs cleaning. Do not spray any cleaner on the glass. Instead, lightly spray a microfiber cloth with water or an ammonia-based cleanser (if you prefer, though water usually works fine), and carefully clean the glass surface by rubbing gently in circles, then drying the glass with another section of microfiber cloth. You may want to take the art or photograph down from the wall and lay it flat to do this.

  • Consider whether you would like to swap some of your art around to offer yourself a new perspective, or whether you want or need some new art in your space to brighten things up. (And if you do, consider giving my items a look? I’ve got tambourines and collages, paintings, and greeting cards here, plus prints and other items available at Fine Art America.)

Here, there, and everywhere

And yes, I am now completely distracted from singing the Beatles song of that name. It’s such a syrupy song, but I still completely and totally love it.

Here

Here for me is currently in South Carolina, where I am staying with my parents as my dad continues to recover from surgery to remove a cancerous esophagus. He is doing remarkably well, which is good. And I am keeping super busy with his home care, which is . . . busy. I have, however, also been finding time to learn a bit more about watercolors, so here, have a small bouquet:

Everything’s coming up roses . . .

Everything’s coming up roses . . .


There

There right now is New Jersey, where my home and studio (and husband and cat) are located. Other things located there: TWO businesses where you can currently buy my art, ONE that is opening on April 6th, which will carry my greeting cards and some art, and ONE MORE that is opening in late April. You can find a list of “Where to find my products” any time on my ABOUT page at my website, or by clicking the link in this sentence, but here’s the list:

  • The Grand Galleria at 405 S. Main Street in Williamstown, NJ, has several of my art tambourines in it. The Galleria is typically open when shows are on at the Grand Theatre.

  • Mystic Ginger at 102 S. Black Horse Pike in Blackwood, NJ, has several of my art tambourines as well. Mystic Ginger is the coolest hybrid space: part salon, part herbalist, part sales gallery for local artists. Open Tuesday through Saturday, hours vary. Their website is here.

  • Olde Pear Primitives at 523 Lafayette St. in Cape May, NJ, opens on April 6th. You will find my complete line of greeting cards, as well as some original art pieces, for sale when the new store space opens in a few weeks! Find them on FB, or at their website.

  • MADE Artisan Marketplace, 65 N. Broad St., Woodbury, NJ. MADE is currently in the process of renovating and moving into the building once owned by Franklin Davenport, who was Benjamin Franklin’s nephew. The mixed-use space will have gallery space, maker spaces, and selling spaces, plus an attached espresso bar. It’s gonna be cool! And likely will open near the end of April. More info to come, both here and on MADE’s website.


Everywhere

Where is an internet business if not everywhere? You can always shop for greeting cards, art tambourines, original literary collages, and paintings of various and sundry sorts on my website. Just pick your category from the top of the home page! And hey, while you’re at my home page, why not sign up for my email newsletter? It gets you info on what’s up, when, and passes along lots of tips and info on living life in a positive manner. Because we all want “to lead a better life”, as McCartney wrote and sang to open the song that loaned its title to this blog post.

You can see some of my greeting cards here. It’s a slideshow, so click to swipe!

Exciting things are happening!

You guys. Exciting things are happening for my art business. Like, REALLY exciting things.

In just a few weeks' time, you will be able to purchase my greeting cards and some of my original artwork at the new location of Olde Pear Primitives in Cape May, New Jersey. To say that I'm excited is a complete understatement. Seriously. To have my work in Cape May, and at a business that supports local artists, is one of those "someday" business dreams of mine coming true.

More info to come, but in the meantime, ALL THE CONFETTI!

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It's never too late to learn

My fifty-fifth birthday is coming up soon (and yikes, what’s with that?). And it reminds me that I started my journey making art a mere five years ago, just before I turned 50. I started with a course using colored pencils, drawing birds. (MASSIVE thanks to Val Webb for that course - she is amazing, and lovely, and good.) And eventually I started using acrylics by taking an online course called Paint Mojo with Tracy Verdugo, who is also amazing, lovely, and good. And then I took some online courses with Kelly Rae Roberts, back when she was still teaching painting online, in part because her first and middle name are the same as mine, as well as her initials, and in part because I really liked her work and her attitude. During those courses, I learned about colored pencils, acrylic paints, acrylic inks, charcoals, soft (chalk) pastels and oil pastels, oil paint sticks, some fine art markers, and more.

But I never used watercolors. Until this year, when I opened the package I bought myself from Prima Marketing, Inc., containing three tins of watercolors that they refer to as “confections”. Just below is the Vintage Pastels set just after I opened it, and a heart I made from the paints while “swatching” my set onto the little card you see in the left-hand photo.

I made about a dozen or so of those hearts, which went to some lucky customers who ordered Chakra Heart Garlands before Valentine’s Day. (You can still grab your garlands here!) And then I essentially put my watercolors away because I felt unsure of what to do.

So when it suddenly (and I mean that - it was just a day’s notice or so) came time to pack my bags for South Carolina, I decided to grab some art supplies to take along. I legit have no clue how long I will be down here to help my parents out as my dad recovers from cancer surgery (he had an esophagectomy, which means just what you probably think it does). In fact, it could be a month or more. Which is a long time to be away from my studio and all my supplies, so I brought some portable supplies with me. I have my watercolor sets and my oil pastels (not to play with together, though come to think of it, maybe I could) and a pad of watercolor paper with me.

Yesterday, I painted a bouquet (based on an actual one I’d brought home for my mom from the store—I know, grocery store flowers aren’t always optimal, but they were affordable and cheery, which is what was required). And today I took a shot at a shrub or tree in the neighbors yard, which is sending up dark green stalks with dark green leaves and pink flowers that we believe are camellias. Though I didn’t know they came in pink. But I digress. They were made in a state of creative exploration and happy, escapist meditation, and that’s pretty much the energy they carry with them. You can get a closer look at them by clicking on each. If you decide one of these two pieces below is your jam, please let me know and I’ll pack it up and send it to you for $10, shipping included.

Are these faithful representations of what I see? Nope. Are they a bit too tight? Yup. Is their composition good? Not really. But to me, these two pieces are huge successes, because I am figuring things out. How to mix colors. When to work wet-on-wet, when to use wet-on-dry. How much water to use in my brush. How the paint moves (or doesn’t).

All of these are important things to figure out. (I think?) And I am aware I can find a class (in person or online) or a YouTube video, or a SkillShare course, or or or . . . but for this weekend, I thought it would be fun to just play with my paints and see what came of it. This week may be for finding online lessons, now that I’m no longer nervous to use my supplies. Because it’s never too late to play, and it’s never too late to learn something new.

Have a bouquet!

Right now I’m in South Carolina while my dad recovers from surgery—an esophagectomy, to remove his esophagus and any remaining cancer cells in or near it. I got here last Wednesday evening, and have managed to create exactly one piece so far. Considering that we spent all day Friday at the hospital, and lots of time every day since then there as well, I consider this a victory of sorts. This bouquet is made using oil pastels on watercolor paper.

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Oh! And one of my friends who purchased chakra heart garlands shared a photo showing them hanging in her workspace, and how great are these?

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My sweetheart reminded me that I still have some of those chakra heart garlands at home. They are hand-punched from handpainted papers, and strung on red and white baker’s twine. Each string is approximately six feet long, and carries 14 hearts (each of the chakra colors, twice). They were created with lots of positive energy and an intention of helping to balance your chakras. If interested, they are $8 each or two for $15, and can be ordered here.

Crocuses. Croci?

I know that a few have started to pop up here and there in sheltered areas in New Jersey. Sadly, we have none on our property, except for these:

Original oil pastel on cold-pressed watercolor paper.

Original oil pastel on cold-pressed watercolor paper.

At present, I’m in South Carolina to spend some time with my parents, since my dad is having cancer-related surgery, and their spring is so much farther along. The forsythia is almost done, the azaleas are starting, pollen is everywhere, and it’s glorious. If I’m a bit less present here, though, you will know why.

Sharing a quick cleaning tip

And if you are not an artist, this may sound like it doesn’t apply to your life, but stay with me for a minute.

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As mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve been working on some oil pastel paintings (and yes, that’s what it’s called when you cover an entire surface with oil pastels). In fact, here’s a closeup of one of my favorites:

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Wild poppies

One of my favorite new oil pastel paintings, which I made using Sennelier oil pastels and cold-pressed watercolor paper

Turns out I didn’t just cover watercolor paper with oil pastels, I also managed to get a decent amount on my fingers. And on the surface of my wooden work table. And also? I dropped a bit of the wrapper from one of the oil pastels on the floor, and stepped on it, and it left a big white smear. And Kismet, my helpful studio assistant, knocked bright yellow on the floor and it smeared like WHOA when I tried to wipe it up. And I was temporarily bemused (not amused, trust me).

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Lemon

So fresh, so happy

And then I remembered that I am a distributor for Young Living essential oils in possession of many oils, but most specifically, of LEMON essential oil, which is the go-to for removing things like “chewing gum from hair” and “label adhesive off of glasses” and such. So i put two small drops of lemon oil on a paper towel, and wiped, and lo! the oil pastels transferred onto the paper towel and off the floor (and table) and all was well.

In fact, it was a bit better than that, even, since it left my studio smelling lemony fresh.

So if you, fellow artist, manage to get oil pastels on your surfaces, reach for lemon oil. If it’s on a wood surface, remember to wipe in the direction of the grain of the wood.

And same goes for anyone else with a sticky or greasy sort of issue that needs tackling (like tree sap) or something sticky that you’d like to remove—like chewing gum from hair, or stickers from things, or temporary tattoos on skin. (If you don’t have a local supplier of lemon oil, you can get in touch and order Young Living lemon essential oil from me.)



Trying something new

Actually, I’m trying lots of new things these days. And getting rid of some old ones, as well.

Case in point: MY HAIR.

Me, feeling sassy as I left the salon.

Me, feeling sassy as I left the salon.

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Back in my studio

And still feeling sassy. Of course, now that I washed it, it’s back to curly.

What’s new about my haircut isn’t just that I had it cut, and then blown dry straight. It’s that I went to a new salon (literally new - it just had its grand opening last Saturday): Mystic Ginger Collective. And I treated myself to one of their special “full moon haircuts” that comes with a scalp massage of oils and extracts mixed by the owner, Kellie, and even a surprise take-home gift that brings me joy! I set an intention for my haircut, which was to get rid of all that no longer serves me. (And I didn’t just mean the tips of my hair.) And so it is. 💫✨

I’ve also been playing a bit more with creating oil pastel paintings, and I’m starting to get the hang of it, you guys. All of these are done on cold-pressed watercolor paper that is 9”x12” in size. The first one you see (left) is done using Prima Water Soluble Oil Pastels, and the other three are done using Sennelier Oil Pastels (so buttery, so creamy . . . happy sigh). I’m going to be making these guys (and any others I make tomorrow) available to my newsletter subscribers on Sunday, February 24th, for $45 each (US postage included) on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you see something you’d like to have in your house, you should probably subscribe!

My last, latest new thing is actually the decluttering of old things. Between watching Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix (I love her so much!) and some other energy work I’ve been doing, I am back to decluttering, big-time. And my sweet Morris is on it, too. Between us, we’ve filled two of those ginormous 55-gallon trash bags, plus two smaller kitchen-sized bags, with clothing that we have thanked and decided to let go.

I can feel the energy flowing a bit more freely in the house, and I know that we are creating space for new energy and more abundance to come into our home. I’m already looking at what else is due for some decluttering, and it’s enough to keep me fairly busy for the next two weeks. It helps that we’ve been activating the qi in the house with clapping and music and light and incense, all of which are feng shui energy clearing tactics. And wow, I feel lighter. Both because of the haircut and because there is so much less stuff in my closet. Next up is accessories, followed by makeup and other face products. Wish me luck!

Loving Life

In general, I try to choose happiness every day. And yes, I’ve come to believe that it’s as much a choice as anything else. I’ve thought it for quite a while now, but here’s a way to think about it:
If you’ve spent time around young kids, you will occasionally see them decide to get upset about something. Sometimes it’s valid (based on something they find upsetting that is not super serious), and sometimes it’s just them choosing to be in a mood. You can often jostle them out of it through hugs or something funny, but a truly dedicated kid will insist on returning to their sulk. And you can see them making that choice.

Here’s the thing: we as adults often do the same thing. And if we can choose to be sad or upset or sulky or insistent on holding onto a grudge, we can also choose to be happy. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have or experience other emotions, including anger, sorrow, confusion and more, but it does (for me) mean finding the things I’m grateful for and celebrating them.

Here’s me on Tuesday, choosing to be happy during my regular IV treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Here’s me on Tuesday, choosing to be happy during my regular IV treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Lately, I’ve been super busy. I spent two weeks in North Carolina with family, and flew home on Friday in time to pack things up and go to an event on Saturday. The Valentine’s Pop-Up Market at Creek Mercantile in Rancocas Woods (Mount Laurel, NJ) was a huge success. And I loved seeing so many female-owned enterprises in one terrific space! I bought the small macramé piece you see in the top row from Erin at Clove & Cedar, got myself a candle (vanilla and sandalwood, with a citrine stone) from April of Willow Moon Candles, scored a blue tiger’s eye necklace from Dot of DorothyClaire Crystals, and bought some more elderberry syrup from Jody & Michaline of Mystical Blossoms. (You can’t say I didn’t do my part to support the event — LOL!)

Saturday evening, my husband and I joined his kung fu family in Philadelphia to celebrate Chinese New Year with the United Fellowship of Martial Artists (of which Morris is a member). As you might imagine, Sunday was for getting things in order, like laundry, and groceries, just in time for snowy Monday. Pretty sure you are largely caught up on things now, though I do have a few other things going on: commissions that I’m fixing, talks with some businesses, and more. I will fill you in when it’s allowed!

In the meantime, I’d like to thank any and all of you who came out on February 9th, or who have gotten in touch for cards, garlands, and more!