Monday, July 25, 2011

Amelia Island Artists Workshop

October is Just Three Months Away
Amelia Island will host my Paper Paintings collage workshop for the third year in a row October 7-9. Come out and enjoy the island after the summer crowds have gone. Sit and watch the sunrise on the beach and enjoy Fort Clinch State Park where we will have a beautiful sun filled room and a catered lunch. 

We are saving a spot for you! Register today and receive your materials list and class schedule.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cherie's Progress

Cherie has Gained Some Independence!

I'm happy to say that I went down to Vero Beach to visit Cherie this weekend since I have completed my triathlon and the training is giving way to a little bit more free time. It's absolutely surreal to me that I have the physical ability to accomplish athletic goals and Cherie has to struggle to move her body at all. Despite everything she's been through, you can see from this big smile that she remains in good spirits. She has more movement in her forearms and is driving her temporary electric wheelchair with head controls!

For those of you who are new to this blog, my childhood friend Cherie Stannard rolled her vehicle on the morning of September 30, 2010 and suffered a broken neck. She is now a parapalegic and being cared for by her sister and brother. She had no health insurance and the other driver did not stop. You can see my previous posts about Cherie here.

I am happy to say that when I arrived, Cherie and her sister had made me birthday champagne cupcakes! Sue did the cooking and Cherie said she directed the whole process. Cherie loves to cook, so often times she will talk Sue through some of her favorite creations. One of these awesome dishes were the mozzarella and tomato open faced sandwiches toasted in the oven that Cherie and her sister made us for lunch!

Cherie is scheduled to receive her custom fitted electric wheelchair on Monday, the 18th. She now has a shower chair thanks to her boyfriend's brother in law who donated the funds. You might be surprised to know that a shower chair for a quadriplegic person runs about $2500. Medicaid does not cover this.

Cherie's brother does stretching and range of motion physical therapy with her daily, he gets up at 5am to reposition her in bed and her brother in law gets up at 6am to administer her meds. Her sister does all of Cherie's personal care, and then her sister and brother use the manual Hoyer Lift to transfer her out of bed and into her chair. The dedication of her family to her care is incredible, and this care is a full time job. Visiting this weekend I got a chance to truly appreciate all that is required just to get Cherie up and out of bed, showered, dressed, and into her chair.

We can all learn a little something about love and dedication from this family, and we can all learn something about the power of positive thinking from Cherie. She is looking forward to mastering her voice software and beginning to work on writing a book. When we were kids, Cherie wrote amazing poetry, every single day. She is a talented writer and I can see her reaching her goal of writing a book. The book that she wants to write will help to teach people like you and me that a person with disabilities is just like anyone else you know. As a matter of fact, up until September 30, 2010, Cherie was just like you and me. She had goals and dreams and lived an independent life.

Your whole life can change in an instant, it can happen to any one of us. Cherie wants to encourage us to find it in our hearts to give a smile and an encouraging word to the next person we see in a wheelchair, rather than avert our eyes, look away or give a wide berth. She wants to remind us that that person in the wheelchair has feelings and wants to be accepted just like anyone else.

In order to achieve her goal of writing this book, Cherie needs adaptive equipment that Medicaid is not going to pay for. I have sold  art and created a coffee table art book to help her family with funding such expenses. There is a benefit concert on Martha's Vineyard on July 31st in her honor.

To learn how you can donate funds to Cherie's charitable trust, visit

To preview and/or purchase a book of art that I designed with donated work from amazing artists all over the world, visit All funds go to Cherie's family

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aim High!

starting out on the last leg of the race, a 6-mile run

The Importance of Setting Goals
When I was 17 I dislocated my knee cap and had to be rushed to the ER. My knee was the size of a softball from the trauma of the patella circling around to the back of my leg and taking the tendons with it.

Three surgeries later (this was in the days of NO arthroscopic surgery) my knee now includes two pins and three 8-inch scars. I used to be very self conscious of the scars and would not wear a skirt above my knee. These days I'm proud to say that I run (and bike, and swim) on that knee!

The key to my success in athleticism and art has always been about setting goals and implementing a plan to achieve them. It's not enough just to set a goal of obtaining gallery representation or having a solo exhibition, you have to draw up a plan on how you are going to get there.

coming out of the 1-mile open water swim

I Think I Can.... I Think I Can...
This past weekend I competed in an Olympic distance triathlon. That's a 1-mile open water swim, a 24-mile bike, and a 6-mile run, all back to back. I did not just get off the couch and compete, I planned and prepared for this. Three years ago I got up off the couch and did my first Sprint distance race (.5-mile swim, 13-mile bike, 3-mile run) at the urging of my sister, the athlete. I knew I was going to need a course of action to achieve what seemed like a monumental feat to me at the time. I went to the book store and started looking in the Traithlon Training book section. I picked a book that seemed like something I thought I could work with and started reading, after all, I had to learn what to expect! In the back of the book was a 12-week training plan, I copied it down into a small spiral notebook and set out to achieve my goal. Four Sprint Triathlons later, I was ready to step up my goal to something bigger. I knew that it would be a big jump to train for an Olympic distance race, because it is DOUBLE the distance of the races I was used to. Once you meet your goals, it's important to set bigger and better goals, that's how you grow.

If At First You Don't Succeed...
Having a day-by-day course of action makes all the difference in achieving your goals. When I decided that I wanted to obtain gallery representation with my artwork I decided to educate myself in what to expect. I learned through research that I would need a body of work (not just one or two pieces) that was cohesive and demonstrative of my unique style. I also needed to have some success in juried shows under my belt. With this in mind I began refining my collage style and entering many many many juried shows both local and national. I can't tell you how many times I was turned down! I could wallpaper my studio with rejection letters if I had saved them. Don't give up, don't let setbacks drag you down, you have to dust yourself off and keep going.

Sunday Best, 16x20, found papers on panel

Growth Means Pushing Boundaries
My earlier work did not include hand-painted papers, this was part of the evolution of my style. The more juried shows I entered, the more work I produced in my ever evolving collage technique. By the time I began to get accepted into shows, I had a small body of work in my signature "Paper Painting" style. I began to create a name for myself locally and was being accepted to most shows I entered. At this point I knew it was time for me to step up my goal, and I decided to look for gallery representation. 

Ready to bike, heading out of transition

The first gallery that represented my work in Orlando did not keep me on as a gallery artist at all times, they had me on their website and one to two pieces of my work was represented in some shows. It was at this gallery that I started creating cows and gaining momentum. 

Out To Pasture, 24x20, collage of hand-painted and hand-made papers on panel
First Place Winner in the Category of Collage for The Artists Magazine All Media Contest, 2010

I was thrilled to be on their website and to be able to say that I was "represented," but I had bigger goals in mind, as I always do. I set my sights on getting into a gallery that would have me on permanent display as a true gallery artist. I looked online for galleries that showed work similar to my whymsical style and I started sending out packets to introduced myself. My packet included my resumé, printed materials, and a CD with samples of my work. I did not limit myself to the Orlando area, I reached out to the state of Florida. 

Have Faith in Yourself
Eventually my efforts paid off and I was accepted to a very upscale gallery in Sarasota, FL.  It was the nicest gallery I had ever even showed in let alone been represented by! They wanted me to bring six rooster pieces the first month of my contract, I had to go into full production mode in order to create SIX roosters by my deadline. The first one I worked on I nearly threw out, it was so sad looking at 1:00am. I did not want to give up on it though, I knew that there had to be some way to save it, this was collage after all! By 3:00am it was turning the corner and the next day it was saved. This was the first piece I ever sold at my new gallery.

The bike, 24-miles of 21mph average pace

Stick to the Plan
The Olympic distance triathlon training plan was 18 weeks! Yes, I prepared six days a week for 18 weeks, every week the level of difficulty increased. In the end I was cycling 25-miles 3-days a week, swimming 2000M 2-days a week, and running 3-6 miles 3-days a week. I knew this going in, I accepted it and I mentally prepared for it. I took it one day at a time, small bites. This is important! It's good to look at the overall picture, but sometimes that can be too scary, you have to take bite sized portions.

Currently I'm working toward a solo exhibition of my artwork at the Thrasher Horne Center for the Arts. I am happy to say that they asked me to exhibit! They found me online and contacted me. I accepted the show and THEN I asked them "how many pieces?" only to be told.... 50! Remember, small bites. I decided to come up with a plan. After all, the best way to achieve a goal is to implement a plan.

My Noah's Ark Series will be 25 sets of two animal portraits. I will do each set simultaneously, on the easel at the same time. Working on them together will not only help me create the body of work in a shorter time frame, (my deadline is next March for an April show) but will also help me create harmonious pairs that I am hoping will sell as sets!

FINISHED! me and my friend Katy - supportive and smiley-
making the whole race experience fun!

It's Never too Late to Set Goals
I did not participate in my first Sprint distance triathlon until I was 40. I was not an active teenager, but I considered myself to be an adult who went to the gym and kept fit. But training for a triathlon was really a step up from my gym routine. My 43rd birthday is tomorrow and the Olympic triathlon goal I set for myself was in celebration of being FAST at 43. (I finished 2:28:01, 2nd in my age group and 11th woman overall)

I went to college for fine art, earning a BFA from Syracuse University. I majored in Advertising Design in order to have a career in which I could earn a living. It took me three years of struggling to get a job in my field out of college and many years later my husband and I started our own graphic design business. Running a business and having children back to back (16-months apart) kept me from my fine art for many years, but the passion was always in my heart. I have only been creating, promoting and marketing my fine art for the past seven years. 

Whether you want to cross the finish line or hang in a gallery, write a novel or climb a mountain, it's important to set that goal for yourself and commit to it. Tell your friends and family you are going to do it, make it known! Once you have committed to achieving your goal, outline the plan on how you are going to get there. And remember, small steps. 

Hoo #1&2, collage of hand--painted paper on panel

I'll be posting more sets of animal portraits here on the blog if you want to check back in periodically. I have a lot of fun animals that I'm planning on working on but if you have any suggestions please take a minute to leave a comment. Traditional Noah's Ark has a lot of the same animals, but there is no reason why this series cannot break out of the mold. I am hoping to do flamingos next, and eventually wild rabbits with big ears. Do you have a favorite animal to suggest?

In the mean time I'm taking small steps, one set at a time. 
Preparing for the flood.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tou by Twos

Toucans #1 and #2 / 20x24 / collage on panel

The second Toucan was completed in the studio over the last week and I am proud to say that I have now completed my first set of animals for the Noah's Ark Series! I have 24 sets to go but I have set the goal of 50 sets by next March and I'll work diligently to achieve it.

My next blog post is going to be about the importance of setting personal and artistic goals and working hard and steady to be sure you achieve them. So stay tuned!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One of Tou

Toucan, 20x24, with travel bag of ziplock collage papers

Those of you who follow this Blog know that I work in all kinds of interesting places in order to be so prolific. I've showed you many a small piece done on my airplane tray table as well as some work on my lap while waiting in the doctor's office.
Toucan, 20x24, in my stateroom on Carnival Cruise

This week I started working on my Noah's Ark Themed solo exhibition for next April. I just got off the ship this morning with one completed Toucan in hand. I worked for at least 20-30minutes per day on him in my state room and pushed to finish him yesterday afternoon. These were extenuating circumstances, because my plan is to create two at a time, side by side on the easel. In the interest of small spaces I had to create this one without his partner. I worked from my travel bags of papers, so I'll just use the same bags to create the other half of his pair.

In this series my goal is to have some fun with abstracted backgrounds

Next up is the Owl pair and I may have to do them before I finish the other toucan as I've been asked by a rather large licensing client to create a pair of owls for reproduction. ]
Toucan, 20x24, Completed!

Stay tuned!