Monday, December 28, 2009

two weeks ago

Two weeks ago, I sold a painting. This was not any was my "Buddha" painting: one of my favorites, and one that I put a lot into. Karen, the woman who bought it, is great. She really "gets" my work, and I know "Buddha" will have a good, loving home. The thrill of selling a piece is wonderful and unlike any other feeling I have experienced. I spent that sunny, beautiful afternoon hiking with my friend Heather and that evening I went to the vigorous class at Jai Yoga. The poem Jen read at the end of the class really resonated with me ("everything you need you have, right now, in this moment"). I left in a peaceful, contemplative state and I was ready to toast the sale of my painting over dinner with my husband Terry.

I walked in the door and in an instant the phone was ringing. I ran for it with my coat still on and heard my brother Frank's voice on the other end. The news he gave me made my heart drop. Our cousin Christopher passed away at 4 pm after a 13-year long battle with leukemia. He was 19 years old. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I tried to grasp this concept. "I thought he was getting better," I kept hearing myself say. We spoke for a little while and then I called Betty, Christopher's mom. I was at a complete loss as to what to say. Everything sounded so hollow and meaningless. Before we hung up, she said, "Go give your husband a hug." I took her advice and collapsed. There would be no celebration tonight.

The wake and the funeral were packed to the gills with grief-stricken people trying to wrap their heads around what had happened (a testament to how many lives he touched, how many people he loved and how many people loved him). Photographs around the room showed a curly-headed, smiling child; a happy, athletic young man; a son, a brother, a friend...and, as I now realize, a teacher. I have a lot to learn from him and the way he lived his life. Christopher didn't let his illness stop him from doing the things he loved. He never complained about the hand he was dealt, he just kept on fighting. He was tough, brave, strong, and sweet. He loved life, and he lived it to the fullest: playing baseball, golf, basketball and laser tag, enjoying trips to Cooperstown and Yankee games, spending time with family and friends. Christopher knew about "having everything you need, right now, in this moment" without anyone having to tell him that was the case.

I'm struggling to find the lesson here and to make sense of everything that's happened, but what I keep coming back to is this: the best way to pay tribute to Chris is to keep his memory alive and to adopt his approach to life. Live to the fullest. Be brave, courageous, and strong. Be loving and kind. Discover what you enjoy and grab it with both hands...and don't forget to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

four new collages

Here are the four new collages I worked on during my time at the Art, Mind and Soul Studio for Arts Downtown and All Around. They all have a similar quality and I think that must have something to do with the fact that they were all at least started (if not completely finished) during the course of my two days there.
Two of these pieces ("Smile My Love" and "You Are A Gift") will be on display at my next show, which is a group show at the Community Wellness Center in Farmingdale. Please check the show listings page on my website for more details ( "You Are A Gift" is pictured twice here. The first photo is the original way it is meant to be hung; the second photo reveals a small round mirror inside of the gift box. I like the feeling of intimacy and secrecy this gives the piece and I hope that feeling comes across to the viewer (yes, that means you).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Arts Downtown and All Around

I had a great time at the Arts Downtown and All Around fair this past weekend! I was in the Art, Mind and Soul Studio inside Fort Andross, and I'm really happy to have been there. Thank you, Heather, for your hospitality! I met some great people, I sold a few pieces, and I even got some work done. I will try to post photos of the new pieces (or a link to the photos, more likely) later this week. In the meantime, here are some more new collages:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

collage photos

I don't know why it won't let me just post the pictures's late and I'm all out of patience, this is the best I can do right now:

catching up

First of all, I had a fantastic time at the Gorham Art Fair two weeks ago. It was a wonderful day and I'm really happy I was there. The place was even more full than last year. It was a very eclectic mix of artists and craftspeople, the work on display was good, I met a lot of great people, and I received some really positive feedback from showgoers and other artists alike. I had attended the Swell Season show in Boston the night before so I was running on only three and a half hours of sleep, but that didn't seem to matter...the positive energy I had received from the concert and the people I spent the day talking with was more than enough to carry me through in fine fashion. Plus, a little caffeine can work wonders (especially when you normally drink decaf)!
Anyway, the Gorham Art Fair was the first time I have ever displayed any of my collages and people really seemed to respond to them. It's exciting because collage is a new medium for me. I've only been doing it for a few months now, and I started during Brunswick Art Collaborative meetings. Not only did I sell a little painting at the art fair, but I sold my first collage as well. I gave out my website address ( to a lot of people that day and promised them I would be adding some images of my collages to my blog. They aren't professional quality photos, but they will suffice until I am able to get nicer ones taken. So, without further ado, here they are:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My sister Addie asked me to donate a painting for an auction at her daughters' school and I am really excited about it. Their school is Brimmer and May in Chestnut Hill, MA ( and the auction looks to be a fairly fancy affair. It's the "Denim and Diamonds Gala", Saturday, November 14, at the Back Bay Grand in Boston.

I am donating a painting that I am almost finished's called "Ring of Fire Sunflower #2". It's "#2" because I did a smaller version of this painting for a group show I'm currently in at Freeport Square. "#2" is on a 12" x 12" x 3" canvas (the first one is on an 8" x 8" normal depth canvas) so it's been a bit of a challenge continuing the painting on all four sides, but I've been enjoying it. Both paintings are based on a photo by Jim Moscone, a friend of mine who is a very talented photographer.

It feels good to be involved with a positive cause, and I am looking forward to exposing my work to a whole new group of people. I hope that my painting can bring a little happiness to whoever purchases it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

another great collaboration

I went to another Brunswick Art Collaborative meeting last night and it was so much fun! This time, we actually had an organized event with a guest speaker, Blake Hendrickson. Blake is an incredible artist who makes wood collages/sculptures. If you've ever been inside the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, you've probably seen his work; if you haven't seen his work, make a trip to the library (or his Facebook page). He brought a ton of supplies for all of us to use: a huge variety of wooden pieces of all shapes, sizes and types (including pieces of sumac, which were absolutely beautiful), glue, and wood squares for us to work on. We had a blast! Everyone made very different pieces: some were figurative, some were patterned, some were random, some were inadvertently reminiscent of familiar images (a pier, sushi, mushrooms), and all were fun and expressive. It was our largest group meeting ever and there was an incredible amount of energy and excitement in the room. Blake is funny, patient, and full of information and stories. He said he would like to come back so we can do a couple of large group pieces (rather than small, individual pieces, which we did last night) and I am already excited about that idea. I think I may try an abstract painting based on one of the wood collages I made last night...time for another trip to the Art Guru for some square canvases!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

second friday art walk

I went to the Second Friday Art Walk in Brunswick last night, and I'm glad I did. I always come away from the Art Walk very inspired and full of hope. It's pretty cool that I live in a town where there is an Art Walk, and where so many different types of art and artists are represented. My favorite show of the ones I made it to had to be Emily Weir's exhibit of self-portrait photography from the last twenty years (her studio is above Estilo on Pleasant Street). Her work is personal, raw, and strong, and she is more than willing to make herself vulnerable for her art. Most people try to hide parts of themselves or their lives, but Emily does not and as a result her work is extremely powerful.

On a related note, can anyone tell me how the hell to get around inside Fort Andross? I know how to get to Jai Yoga and Frontier Gallery but that's about it. I kept getting lost while looking for different studios. A stranger was kind enough to lead me to the Art, Mind and Soul studio (where Patricia Boissevain has a space) but then he left and I was lost again. I kept trying but ended up going in circles and hitting dead ends. I had an Art Walk map but it didn't help. After wandering around for a while I finally had to admit defeat: you win this time, Fort Andross, but I'll be back.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

brunswick arts collaborative

I belong to an informal group called the Brunswick Arts Collaborative (or "Brunswick Art Collaborative"...I'm not sure which is correct. I told you it was informal.) and I have to say it is a real blast. I love this group. We are a bunch of women (men are welcome, but none have joined us yet) who get together twice a month to talk, laugh, and create art. We are young, old and in between; we are professional, semi-professional and fledgling artists; we teach each other, learn from each other and goof off with each other. We support one another by going to each other's shows and sharing our supplies and ideas. There is no competition, only encouragement...and people who never considered themselves to be "artists" are finding that previously unknown part inside of them. I have gotten so inspired by this group and it's really fascinating to me what kind of work I have produced since joining. I have been exploring collage lately and that is a direct result of my being involved with the Brunswick Arts Collaborative. It's nice to do something a little different and to push my own boundaries a bit...and it's a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I've been working on a couple of paintings lately that seem to have stalled, so I decided to begin working on a brand new piece. This is a relatively new thing for me, something I just started doing a couple of years ago. In the past I would start a painting and if I hit a brick wall, I'd just leave it alone for a while...but I wouldn't immediately start or work on anything else. This process proved to be extremely unproductive for me. More often than not the painting would remain stuck and eventually get classified as "perpetually unfinished", and I would fall into a funk because I felt bad about not doing anything for long stretches of time. When I get stuck now, I just start something new...and that always feels exciting and fresh to me. The working break seems to help the overall fate of the "stuck" painting, because I'm able to look at it with fresh eyes and I'm usually able to approach it in a different way. If that doesn't work, I can bring it to the Art Guru! Jeremy always gives great advice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

calm out of chaos

I have been doing a lot of painting painting, that is. Terry and I are painting the inside of our house and we have a fast-approaching deadline of August 7th...that's when our company arrives, my dear friends from high school. I know they don't care what the house looks like, but I care and I want it to look good (not just for them, but for us as well). Anyway, the other day I started painting the kitchen and I found myself in a bit of a frenzy. My mind was racing: Will we ever get it done in time? Why am I not faster at this? Why doesn't it look perfect? I was starting to panic and I could feel myself starting to unravel. I was afraid to stop for the day, but Terry convinced me that pacing myself was crucial, so I stopped.

I went upstairs to do my daily "paint-every-day-that-I'm-home" discipline, but I didn't feel like working on any of the pieces I currently have going. I grabbed a piece of primed paper, picked up a brush and just went for it, with no plan or preconceived notion. I expected that whatever would come out of me at that moment would be high-energy and jumbled. What did come out had a very gentle, peaceful flow, with lots of curves and softness. It resembles an abstract female form with her arms raised overhead in a joyful, receptive posture...and it made me feel better instantly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

a different sort of artist

I haven't been keeping up with my once-a-week-blog goal lately, but it's for a good reason. My father, Frank X. Castellano, passed away on July 2nd (about 6 weeks shy of what would have been his 88th birthday). Since then, my mind has been flooded with memories of my dad...some have made me cry, all have made me smile. He was a great storyteller and he always made his captive audiences laugh. One of the things he would love to say to me was, "You know, I'm an artist too." Then he would lean in conspiratorially, grin, and whisper, "A bullsh*t artist!" We would both have a good laugh and then move on to the next story. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I have to respectfully disagree. My dad was not a bullsh*t artist. Rather, my dad was an artist of life. He approached life with joy, faith, and optimism...not in a Pollyanna way, but in a very matter-of-fact manner. He was kind, generous, brave, honest, loving, funny, compassionate, and supportive. He touched so many people while he was here with his sense of humor, his good advice, and his giving spirit...he even saved a few lives as well. He made the world a better place and I will always be grateful for him. I miss you, Dad. I'm proud of you, and I love you so much. You were a true bullsh*t.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

another show!

I am happy to say that I am in another group show! This one is at the Community Wellness Center in Farmingdale, ME...and once again, I need to thank my website designer, Erika (of Tenacious Designs). She forwarded a link to my site ( along to Lia Angelini (the owner of the Community Wellness Center); Lia liked my work and asked me to take part in their latest show, entitled "Beloved". I really like the idea of having my paintings displayed in a place that's all about good energy. The opening is this Friday (June 26th) from 6 pm to 8 pm, and the show runs for about 3 months...that's good because I just found out about it the other day. Once again, better late than never!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

better late than never

Okay, so it's been a while...a long while. Stuff has been happening, I just haven't gotten around to blogging about it. That all changes now! Thank you to Erika Hoxie, my website designer, for giving me a much-needed kick in the pants (figuratively, of course). I will try my best to be more disciplined about keeping up with blogging. I may not be on here every day, but a few times a month would be a major improvement.

Right now, I am in a show at Freeport Square in Freeport, ME. It is a group show for members of Freeport Creative Arts (which I just joined), juried by Bruce Brown. I am really excited to be a part of this show, and equally bummed that I was out of town for the opening reception...something I have never done before. This was a last-minute show for me and the plans to visit with family out of state had already been made, so something had to give. At any rate, I want to thank Kathleen and Sebastian at Freeport Square for encouraging me to join FCA and therefore be eligible to take part in this wonderful group show. The gallery is absolutely beautiful: large windows, great light, and a wide open floor plan. Plus, it's right down the street from LL Bean, so you can't beat the location. This is my second group show at Freeport Square, the first being a UMVA (Union of Maine Visual Artists) group show that opened on Memorial Day weekend. That show was excellent as well--very diverse work by over 20 artists. I am hoping that I will have opportunities in the future to show there again. Fingers crossed!