Tuesday, December 31, 2013

every picture tells a story

I spent a good chunk of yesterday pulling photos for a "2013 art year in review" video project I'm hoping to work on. As I was working, I was struck by a couple of things: 1. WOW, was it a busy (and awesome!) year, and 2. I am filled with gratitude for each and every one of you who were a part of it. If I started naming names, this post would go on for three days. Thank you so much for your support: coming out to my shows, buying art, making my new magnet enterprise a smashing success, sharing links to my new Etsy page, telling friends about my work, reading my blog, following me on Twitter, giving my work as gifts, and just believing in me in general. 2013 was amazing, and I am excited about what 2014 holds for all of us. I wish you joy, love, peace, happiness, beauty, and people in your life who are as incredible to you as you have been to me. XO

Sunday, December 22, 2013

happy holi-daze

The weather outside is making today a perfect day for catching up on lots of things I need to do, including writing a new blog post! Here goes:

It's the season of giving, and I'm sure your mailbox has been filling up with letters from different charities, non-profits, and causes asking for your last-minute, tax-deductible, charitable donation. You can probably imagine my surprise when I saw a familiar sight at the bottom of the Five Rivers Arts Alliance annual fundraising letter: my painting, "Sole Mate," is one of four images being used to drum up some holiday kindness! I am really happy they chose my work, and I hope that, in a small way, I can help Five Rivers to reach their fundraising goal of $7,000. If you're looking to support a non-profit arts organization this year, please consider helping out Five Rivers: www.5raa.org

(What a nice compliment!)

Speaking of Five Rivers, on Friday, December 13th, the first group show at Coastal Orthopedic in Brunswick came down, and the second one went up! Here are the four paintings I have on display in the new show, which will run until mid-March. This time, there will be an opening reception in early January, which should be interesting. The first show didn't have a reception, but it seems like Five Rivers is really working on forging a relationship with Coastal Orthopedic, and I think having an opening will improve the connection between the two organizations, the staff, and all the artists involved. We'll see how it goes! 

(Art heals!)

My Etsy shop has been doing very well this holiday season, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I have shipped magnets to people in Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine! The thought of my artwork being included in stockings and under trees all over the country makes me smile.  Also, I received a new shipment of "Old Fat Boy Sign" magnets, so I was finally able to add them to my Etsy page as well...that means all of my current magnets are now available and represented! Yay! Christmas is three days away, so I don't really expect to get any more last-minute orders between now and then, but Etsy gift cards are a fantastic option for those who meant to order magnets but just couldn't get their act together! Are you one of those people? Do you need an Etsy gift card? Well, here's the link: http://tinyurl.com/ltylzo2
...and here's the link to my Etsy shop, while you're at it: http://www.etsy.com/shop/BrushstrokesByMaria

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

...and yet another long overdue recap

Whew! Things have been very busy lately! I've been meaning to write a new blog post for quite a while now, but I just haven't gotten the chance until now. I will do my best to recap! Where do I start?

Terry and I had a beautiful Thanksgiving with his family in New Hampshire, as is our tradition. I brought along my magnets just in case anyone wanted to see them in person...and I sure am glad I did, because I sold a whole mess of them! I had a request for two "Old Fat Boy Sign" magnets, which I didn't have on me at the time...more were scheduled to arrive on Saturday so I would (hopefully) have enough to get me through the holiday season.

(So much to be thankful for: red wine, good music, family, and magnets!)

Cat Schwenk's Creative Economy show in Freeport on Thanksgiving weekend was a lot of fun, and I'm really happy to have been a part of it. The show was three days long, and I spent much of Saturday there, helping out and connecting with others. The space was absolutely beautiful, I was able to see my friends Echo and Jesse (and their son, Sy), and I was able to enjoy some of Jesse's delicious wood-fired pizza, baked fresh from the outdoor clay oven he built! Plus, I had a very funny interaction with someone at the show: I was speaking with a woman who recognized me and my work, but she was having a hard time placing me. When I said, "I'm Maria," she said, "Yes! You're Maria Castellano-Da-Da-Da!" I doubled over with laughter and said, "Maybe I should change my name to that!" When I told Terry about it later, he smiled and said, "I guess it is asking a lot of people..." Anyway, I sold a bunch of magnets, and the shipment of "Old Fat Boy Sign" magnets arrived right on schedule. However, that shipment was quickly depleted, requiring me to place a rush order in time for Arts Downtown and All Around, which brings us to this past weekend...

("Buddha To The Maxx", Creative Economy show)

I am thrilled to say that Arts Downtown and All Around was absolutely fantastic! This was my fourth year doing this show, and for me, this year was better than all the other years put together. The musicians I booked to perform were very well-received by both artists and show-goers alike, which makes me very happy. I was in the same room as last year, but this time, I had the space to myself, and I was able to fill it with no problem. Over the course of the weekend, I had at least 125 people come into my room. I got wonderful feedback and made a lot of sales as well...and, as Terry put it, I had a "hat trick": sales on all three days of the show, plus sales of magnets, mixed media, and paintings alike! Some of these sales were to people who have bought my work in the past, including the couple who bought my "Re-birthday Cake" painting at the 2012 10x10 show, and the woman who bought my "Weathervane, Bowdoin College" painting at the 2013 10x10 show. I sold magnets to other artists whose work I respect and admire, including Susan Mills (who has several of my mixed media pieces in her home already), Robin Brooks, Catherine Worthington, and Lee Cheever; plus, one of the mixed media pieces I sold was bought by Natasha Kempers-Cullen! What an amazing compliment: I've got collectors! I am blown away. Speaking of amazing compliments, I received one from Allison Price, who was one of the other artists participating in the group show at 98 Maine. When she walked into my room, she said it was "like seeing twenty-seven sunrises and rainbows all at once." Wow.

(Me in my room, having fun at Arts Downtown and All Around!)

Early Saturday afternoon, I ran out of "Old Fat Boy Sign" magnets...and then Terry arrived with the new shipment! By the end of the weekend, I only had three left. On Monday, I made a long-overdue trip to She Doesn't Like Guthrie's in Lewiston so I could replenish my magnet display. I should have done it sooner, because there were only a handful left...who knew I'd keep running out? Anyway, it was so nice to see Heather (as always!); I loaded up my display with new magnets, including "Prentiss' Owl" and "Weathervane, Bowdoin College" (which I didn't have there previously), and the three remaining "Old Fat Boy Sign" magnets. Yes, I placed a re-order yesterday...and yes, I doubled the amount I usually get!

(While you're waiting for your fabulous food at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's, check out my magnets!)

I'm happy to say that my Etsy shop is doing very well, and I now have almost all of my magnets represented there...I think you can guess which one isn't on there yet! Rest assured, as soon as the new shipment arrives, "Old Fat Boy Sign" will join the others (after I set aside two, of course)! If you haven't checked out my shop yet, here's the link! https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrushstrokesByMaria

Okay, I think I'm now completely caught up with what's going on with me! Until next time...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

posters and posting

The Arts Downtown and All Around posters have been printed and they look fabulous! I am very happy to report that my painting, "Sole Mate," made the poster! It's one of ten images, and they all look really good together. It's a nice way of capturing the diversity of work you'll see on display during this event. I've hung several around town already (with a few more to go), and people seem to be responding well to them. I'm also pleased to say that I've filled all of the slots that were assigned to me with bands/musicians for the weekend, and I'm really looking forward to all the great energy that live music can bring to an art event. For more information (including times, locations, and a list of participating artists), please click the link: http://5raa.org/arts-downtown-all-around-2/


Speaking of art events I'm excited about, I dropped off work yesterday for the 7th Annual Creative Economy Sale and Show! The show takes place at Cat Schwenk's Studio on the Hill (21 Pleasant Hill Rd., Freeport) on Thanksgiving weekend (Friday, November 29th, Saturday, November 30th, and Sunday, December 1st; 10 am to 6:30 pm each day). Saturday was my first time meeting Cat in person (we've communicated via email and Facebook previously), and I liked her instantly! She was lovely and made me feel very relaxed. In fact, I left feeling even better about the show than I did when I arrived, and I was already feeling very positive. I decided to focus on small paintings and mixed media pieces (11" x 14" was the biggest painting I brought with me) since there are roughly 40 artists participating. I figured it would be a lot easier to fit more pieces that way, and since smaller pieces have smaller price tags, that might help to encourage potential buyers. I also brought my magnet display, which Cat said she would probably put near the cash register. Hooray for impulse buys! I've been hanging some posters around town for this show, too, but I picked up some more yesterday and I plan to do more...time to get the word out!

Speaking of magnets, I finally got an Etsy shop up and running this week! I only have six different magnets on there right now, but I will be adding more before too long. I am thrilled to say that within an hour or so of opening my Etsy shop, I got my first sale! Woo hoo! I don't know or completely understand all of the ins and outs of Etsy yet, but there are people following my page, and people have "favorited" some of my magnets, and that sounds good to me! Here is the link to my page: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrushstrokesByMaria?ref=pr_shop_more

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

working inside the box

Quite a while ago, one of the women in the Brunswick Art Collaborative brought a bunch of cardboard boxes to a meeting. These boxes were all the same size and shape (7" tall, 4.25" wide, 2" deep), and they had been used for Christmas ornaments. Her plan was to give a box to every Brunswick Art Collaborative member to see what each person would come up with...this is mine.

I am so happy that I finally finished this project! I had the idea for a shrine-type of piece as soon as I saw the box, and I certainly had more than enough medals to get it done (for those who don't know: I was raised in a VERY Catholic household- my great uncle was a priest, and my parents volunteered for the church- and, a while back, I found a box filled with Mary medals in the basement...no one knows where they came from). I knew I wanted to use an Our Lady of Guadalupe image for the center, but I didn't have a good one on hand...until a client asked me if I was interested in helping him dispose of some old refrigerator magnets! I found a discarded mini-string of Christmas lights on a walk around my neighborhood a while back (sometimes it pays to go for a walk on trash day!) and I knew they would be the perfect way to tie the whole piece together. I like they playful feel they give, and it reminds me of the decor at El Camino! Mmm...that makes me want guacamole! 

The only time I specifically devote to working on mixed media pieces is when the Brunswick Art Collaborative meets, which is why this took me so long to finish. It really was a lot of fun to work on, and I liked seeing the different choices other members made with their projects. We're a diverse group! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

good questions

It occurred to me the other day that this month, November 2013, marks one year since my boss decided to close the Closet Factory showroom on Congress Street (this was the annex location of the business; the shop on Presumpscot Street is still open and moving right along), thereby ending a nearly two-year run of First Friday solo shows in that location for yours truly. If you knew me at all a year ago, I was kind of freaking out. My thoughts were ranging from panicked ("Where am I going to show my work? What will happen next?") to hopeful ("Well, maybe this is a way of opening me up to new opportunities"). Obviously, the latter approach was nicer than the former, so that's what I focused on and tried to cultivate. By the time March 2013 rolled around, I had shows booked for every month of the year.

I'm happy to say that as the year has progressed, more and more opportunities have made themselves known to me, and yet another one has just materialized: I've been invited to participate in the 7th annual Creative Economy Studio Show and Sale in Freeport on Thanksgiving weekend! I am SO psyched. I've been hearing about this show for a couple of years now, but I never knew how to get in. Turns out it's an invitation-only show, organized and run by an artist named Cat Schwenk. I've never met Cat, but since Brunswick is a small area, many artists know each other, and I know people who know her...so, I would like to send Christine DeTroy a very big THANK YOU for getting me into this show! My friend Patricia Boissevain introduced me to Christine in February, when Trish and Christine were sharing a booth at the Flea For All in Portland and Terry and I stopped in for a visit. Fast forward to the October Second Friday Art Walk in Brunswick: Christine came into my room and recognized Terry right away from his Bohemian Coffee House days, and then she recognized me from the Flea For All. We started chatting and she asked if I ever did Cat's show; I said I would love to but I had no idea how to go about getting in. Christine took my card before she left and kindly passed my info along to Cat, who then sent me an email invitation three weeks later!

Who knew that the questions "Where am I going to show my work? What will happen next?" could have positive, exciting, and hopeful answers right behind them? Lesson learned...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

promotional considerations

My friend Kathleen is a writer, and she just launched a blog called Suburban Scrawl (http://kathleenpowersvermaelen.blogspot.com/). I bring this up because although she created this blog in March 2012, her first post was yesterday. Did I mention she's a writer? I am not a writer, and yet I've been blogging for a few years now. Yes, I haven't been doing it as regularly as I probably ought to, but I am doing it. Why am I doing it? What business do I have even having a blog? I'm an artist. I'm a painter. I love my acrylics and I love the feeling of dipping my brush into a freshly-squeezed dollop of paint. I play around with mixed media and sometimes even oil pastels. I like to use magnetic poetry and Scrabble tiles in my mixed media pieces, and I occasionally use words in my paintings, but that's it. Words are not my medium of choice. Frequently, when I have to write about my work, the words "if I were a writer, I wouldn't be a painter" pop out of my mouth. So, when I hear about a writer friend feeling weird about blogging, a small part of me is confused...but a bigger part of me gets it.

Putting yourself out there is hard, no matter how you're doing it: painting, drawing, sculpture, music, acting, writing, whatever. If you're doing it right, you're exposing a part of your soul to the world. That's scary. Another friend of mine gave me some advice a few months ago. She said, "You need to shout from the mountaintops if you're going to go to the next level." Since then, I've tried to blog more regularly, I post more and more on Facebook, and I joined Twitter about a month ago (www.twitter.com: @ArtByMariaCU, if you're interested). "Promote, promote, promote," everyone says. Am I annoying people? Is anyone even reading what I'm writing? Who knows? I suppose what it comes down to is the simple fact that you have to get yourself "out there," and you kind of have to do it through any and all means necessary. The more you do it, and the more ways you do it, the more you increase your chances of someone seeing your work and being moved by it. Promoting doesn't exactly feel natural to me, but it has to be done, and no one is going to do it for me.

There is a blog I follow called Danger Diary (http://dangerdame.com/). I really like the way Veronica Varlow writes and I find her messages uplifting. She makes me smile, even though she is a complete stranger. Here is a perfect example of someone who knows how to promote herself and who is making her dreams come true through a combination of hard work and connecting with others. She has a Kickstarter campaign going to finance her film, "Revolver"(http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/veronicavarlow/revolver-a-road-trip-romance-in-exile-feature-film?ref=home_location), and she is halfway to her goal. How amazing! This is the kind of thing I need to keep in mind whenever I'm blogging or posting or tweeting or whatever: put it out there, or else no one will know what you're up to. It's as simple as that.

So, be kind to the artists you encounter in your life. Don't just delete their emails or scroll absently over their posts. Know that the promotional side of things might feel weird, foreign, or even downright scary to them. Smile and know that they're just trying to make the world a little nicer by sharing their work.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


WOW! Twenty-four of my magnets are going to new homes, thanks to your support of Team Brooklyn Boobays! That's right: 24! How cool is that? If you donated $50 or more (or if you donated on 10/9 and 10/16) to my dear friend Julia Villacara's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, THANK YOU! Not only did Julia reach her fundraising goal, she exceeded it! 

I am really looking forward to finding out who chose which magnet, how many people are getting more than one magnet, and where my art is going to be living! If you are reading this blog post and you are someone who donated the designated amount (or on the designated dates), please contact Julia with your magnet choice and your shipping info so you can start enjoying your new little piece of my art sooner rather than later!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

art and life and art

Whew! The final Second Friday Art Walk of the season is in the books! I am happy to say that the season ended on a high note for me. There were several artists who didn't make it to 98 Maine once again, but that didn't seem to slow the rest of us down. The traffic was good, and people were in a positive mood. The evening began with a Prosecco toast of all the participating artists by Connie Lundquist, which I thought was a really nice touch. We were treated to some very fun live music and the food table was filled with lots of delicious goodies, which I really appreciated since I hadn't had a chance to eat anything besides a spoonful of peanut butter all day. Many friendly faces made their way into my little room, and I sold several magnets to both people I know and people I don't! Terry's mom, Pat, and her husband, Ken, even made an appearance, which was a really nice treat since 1. they live in Massachusetts and 2. they've never been to one of my shows before! The art walk flew by and before I knew it, the clock said 8:02 and it was time to pack up...which brings me to the next part of my story.

If you know me at all (or if you've been reading my blog for the past few years), you know that my brother, Frank, is a real-life Navy hero. Frank was the Captain of the USS Bainbridge, the ship that saved Captain Richard Phillips when he was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia. "Captain Phillips," the Tom Hanks/Paul Greengrass film, opened on Friday night, and since it's not every day when there's a character based on your brother in a major motion picture, I think you can guess how Terry and I spent the rest of the night! We packed up my work as quickly as possible, loaded the car, drove home, unloaded the car, put everything away, scarfed down some dinner, and headed right out to the theater. To say it was a surreal experience is the understatement of the year...and I'm glad I had been told to bring tissues with me, because I used every one of them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

booby prize

Do you love art? Do you hate cancer? What a coincidence...me too! I am excited to be teaming up with Julia Villacara, one of my oldest and dearest friends, as she raises money for the American Cancer Society by participating in the 2013 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Julia's team is called Brooklyn Boo!bays (did I mention she's a big fan of Halloween?) and their walk takes place on Sunday, October 20th. With every $50 donation, you will get one of my magnets! As Julia put it, "Make your home smile with magnets of her original paintings while fighting cancer." Sounds like a win-win to me. To support Brooklyn Boo!bays, please click the link below. You'll be glad you did. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

hanging and healing

I have three of my paintings in a Five Rivers Arts Alliance group show at Coastal Orthopedics in Brunswick! The show went up on Friday afternoon, and it looks really beautiful. The title of the show is "Autumn Splendor," which nearly scared me off from even applying. I thought, "Well, I don't have any work that would fall under that category," and I said as much to Sheila over at the Five Rivers office. She insisted that my colorful paintings were exactly what Coastal Orthopedics was looking for, and I'm glad I listened to her!

The show itself is fun and eclectic. There is work on display by Bill Tomsa, Catherine Worthington, Angie Blevins, Karl Salia, Ed McCartan, and ArtVan students. Plus, Coastal Orthopedics is a beautiful facility, and the people working there seem friendly and excited to have local art on display. I love the idea of having my artwork in a venue where healing is taking place! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

i had one of those flashes i'd been there before...

I hung a solo show of my paintings at Scarlet Begonias in Brunswick yesterday! 

The show will be up through the end of November. I am really happy with how it looks, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to show my work there once again. My previous show at Scarlet Begonias was during the summer of 2011: my work was there for two months, but I changed the show from one month to the next. This time, I'm going to keep the same work up for the full two months. 

If you haven't had a chance to eat there, you should make the trip. Scarlet Begonias is such a great little Brunswick institution! The food is great, the prices are reasonable, the staff is nice, and they are very supportive of local art and local artists. Plus, they always play good music! They had a George Harrison playlist going while I was there yesterday, which made me very happy. I also met a very nice couple there who recognized my work from my show at Cafe Creme, so that put a bit of a spring in my step as well! 

Here's a link to their website: www.scarletbegoniasmaine.com

Here's a link to their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/Scarlet-Begonias/113703365320514

Sunday, September 29, 2013

10x10 recap

Well, another 10x10 has come and gone, and once again, it was a fantastic night! Both St. Paul's and the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library were packed with artists and art-lovers, and people were in a buying mood (artists with last names beginning with the letters A through M were at St. Paul's; L through Z artists were at the library). 104 pieces were sold, making it a successful night for Arts Are Elementary and many participating artists alike!

Doors to both venues opened at 5 pm. Terry and I arrived at St. Paul's at approximately 5:02. "Weathervane, Bowdoin College" was already gone! I was hoping to get a photo of me with both of my paintings, but that's okay- a sale is a good thing! Besides, they did something new this year, which I think is a fantastic idea: they printed out copies of all of the pieces on display, and hung copies behind each piece. In the past, whenever art was sold, a blank wall space would be left behind; this time, you were still able to see what the work looked like even if it was gone!

Anyway, right after I walked in and saw that my painting was gone, I ran into Mary Becker Weiss, who is an artist and, among other things, the official photographer for the 10x10 event. Mary told me that Linda, the woman who bought "Weathervane, Bowdoin College", was still there (she was in the process of finalizing the transaction) and she was hoping to meet me. Mary also mentioned that she had told Linda that I was just like my paintings: bright, happy, and radiating positive energy! Well, I'm not sure I can think of a nicer compliment to get as an artist, and I am happy to report that Linda ended up echoing Mary's statement! Linda and I had a lovely chat and I gave her a hug as soon as we were introduced. Mary captured the moment beautifully...in fact, I believe she's calling this photo "Magic Moment":


Linda said she bought "Weathervane, Bowdoin College" as a wedding gift for her nephew and his new bride, who are both Bowdoin graduates. How fantastic to have my painting be a part of their new life together! 

Well, this was just the greatest way for my night to begin, and it ended up being a really fun evening. I chatted with a bunch of different artists, and although it can be tough to have a long conversation with anyone at an event like this, I feel like I was able to have some really nice moments with several different people. One artist who is a Facebook friend told me she really enjoys my posts, and another artist told me she wore a dress to the 10x10 because she knew I'd be dressed up! Her exact quote: "You caused me to elevate my game!" Everyone was so nice to me, it's a wonder I don't have a swelled head!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

perfect 10

Since the 10x10 is this Friday, I figured I would make a list of ten reasons why you should attend this show and buy some art! (www.10x10brunswick.org)

10. Art is good for the soul.

9. The art is a STEAL! All pieces are $200; $100 goes to the artist, $100 goes to Arts Are Elementary.

8. You can feel good about supporting a wonderful charity AND a local artist at the same time.

7. It's proven that art can improve children's hand-eye coordination, creativity, concentration, and self-expression.

6. There's a lot of diverse work in one place (over 270 pieces by over 150 artists).

5. 10x10 art will fit easily into any space in need of beauty. Have a big space? Buy a few pieces!

4. The 10x10 is a fun Brunswick event that people look forward to every year. Be a part of it!

3. Did I mention how fantastic the food is?

2. Friday's forecast is clear, so if you're planning on waiting outside to get in as soon as the doors open, you won't need an umbrella!

1. It's a great way to meet local artists, including Robin Brooks, Catherine Worthington, Lucy Cooney, Hati Modr, Sarah Brayman, Jane-Page Conway, Caren-Marie Michel, Debbie Casterlin, Anna Low, Mary Becker Weiss, Peggy Kapisovsky, Bonnie Gilman, Connie Lundquist, Priscilla Nicholson, and of course...ME!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

don't be afraid of ghosts

Well, the Second Friday Art Walk for September has come and gone. Personally, I had a great art walk: I sold seven magnets (one of which is heading to Louisiana!), and there was a pretty good flow of people coming in and out of my room. Unfortunately, it was a rainy night, and many of the artists slated to be at 98 Maine Street just didn't show up, so it felt a bit like a ghost town. Thankfully, live music by Cumberland Crossing and Shanna Underwood kept everyone's spirits up, and those who were there had a good time. I am really hoping that the art lovers who made it out on Friday night will not let the reduced turnout of artists keep them from attending future events!

I know that it can be discouraging for artists when they put a lot of work into a show and people don't attend (or people attend but don't buy anything). Believe me, I have had plenty of shows when the only people who show up are just there for free food and wine; they don't even look at the art. It's hard, but I feel like it is all part of paying your dues. Getting your work and your name out there one way or another is essential, and there is no such thing as instant recognition. Even the Beatles played tons of gigs where no one was paying attention to them. They kept plugging away, and we all know how that worked out!

There is only one more Second Friday Art Walk this season (October 11th), and then we will have Arts Downtown and All Around the first weekend in December. Let's hope everyone will rally and make these events a success for artists and art lovers alike!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

hang 10

I spent a little time on Tuesday hanging posters for the Brunswick 10x10, which is coming right up. I've said it before, but it's worth repeating: every year, I am impressed by the well-oiled machine that is the Brunswick 10x10. From start to finish, things are organized, efficient, and professional: the drop off/pick up, the website, the advertising, and, of course, the reception. I am hoping to make it to one of the previews this year because I don't want to miss anything! Here is a link to the website: www.10x10brunswick.org . Hope to see you on Friday, September 27th!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

counter productive

Well, I was able to make it over to Lewiston this week...here is a picture of my magnet display in its new home on the counter at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's! 

If you've never been to Guthrie's, they have yummy, healthy food, tasty drinks of all kinds, and great music. When you place an order, you stand in front of the register; when there is a line, it runs right along the length of this counter. Things get busy at Guthrie's, so it's not unusual for there to be a line, especially when there's a band performing. When I went there on Thursday morning, Heather gave me some very positive feedback. She said, "The magnets are fun, they're colorful, the display fits perfectly on the counter, and it gives people waiting on line something to look at!" Sounds good to me. By the way, if you're in Lewiston and you're craving an absolutely delicious iced mocha latte, look no further...

Monday, September 2, 2013

magnets, magnets everywhere

Happy September! Yes, once again, I've been remiss in my blogging...well, they say every day is a new chance to get it right, don't they?

August was a very busy month for me: my artwork was on display in five different places! I had two paintings in the "tiny, take two" show at Spindleworks (which runs through the end of September), I had six paintings in the Five Rivers group show at Thornton Oaks (which comes down tomorrow), I have paintings, mixed media, and even an oil pastel at Jai Yoga, I had my monthly appearance at 98 Maine for Second Friday Art Walk, and I had a solo show (again, paintings, mixed media, and even an oil pastel) at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's in Lewiston.

I took down my show at Guthrie's on Saturday morning, and I was happy to find out that I had sold several magnets during the month-long stint. When I got home, I sent Heather (the owner) an email thanking her again for the opportunity; today, I got an email from her saying that they would like to continue carrying my magnets even though my show there is over! I am very excited about this, and I'm planning on making a trip up to Lewiston sometime this week.

I had the opportunity to stop into Thornton Oaks a few weeks ago to bring by some magnets of my painting, "Old Fat Boy Sign," since several people there had been asking about them during the opening reception. Sure enough, I sold three of them to staff members almost as soon as I walked up to the office window! Marlise Swartz, the director of marketing at Thornton Oaks, was kind enough to post a photo of my painting to the Fat Boy Facebook page. I don't know how often they maintain this page, but I'm hoping that someone with the Fat Boy organization will come across the photo and get a kick out of it! We'll see.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

coming up

Well, it's official: my painting, "Prentiss' Owl", is one of two runners up in the 10x10 Brunswick publicity contest! The press release arrived in my inbox first thing this morning and that was a wonderful way for me to start the day. I am excited that my painting made the top three, it feels great to be in such good company (Joe Godleski's painting was chosen to be on the poster, and a fiber art piece by Catherine Worthington was the other runner up), and I am really hoping that "Prentiss' Owl" makes it into the paper. We'll see what comes of this!

The 10x10 is on Friday, September 27th, from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Morrell Meeting Room, Curtis Memorial Library, and the Parish Hall, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brunswick. For more information, check out the website: www.10x10brunswick.org. Mark your calendars now!

Friday, August 2, 2013

i do like guthrie's!

This morning, I hung my solo show at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's in Lewiston. Let me tell you, it was a fan-freaking-tastic experience! Heather (the owner) could not have been friendlier, I was able to park right in front, and the show went up quickly, thanks to their fabulous hanging system: two simple wooden cleats along the wall. The cleats made it very easy to line things up, and they keep the walls free of nail holes, which makes everything look a whole lot nicer. No fuss, no muss. I would highly recommend this system to any business or establishment that displays art. Oh, and yeah...they're offering my magnets for sale as well! Woo-hoo!

I was originally scheduled to hang my work tomorrow morning, but the artist who had the show before mine is heading out of town this weekend, so I was given the option to come in today instead if it was convenient. Not only did it work out better for my schedule for me to go in this morning, but it gives my work an extra day to be on display; plus, Fridays are very popular at Guthrie's, so it would have been foolish to pass up the opportunity. I am excited about this show for several different reasons. First of all, the space is beautiful. Second, they get great live music at Guthrie's. Third, the food is yummy and the menu is different...and how often do you see a Pixies reference when you're ordering food? Fourth, the staff is friendly, and Heather has been an absolute pleasure to work with.

Please stop by sometime this month if you're in the Lewiston area, and if you're not in the area, make a special trip! Support an independently owned business: treat your body to some healthy food, treat your ears to some good music, and treat your eyes to some art! Here's their website: http://www.guthriesplace.com

Thursday, August 1, 2013

fairy fill in

In early July, I got an email from crafter extraordinaire Heidi Boyd asking me if I'd be willing and able to fill in for her at a "build your own fairy" children's workshop at Curtis Memorial Library here in Brunswick. I was thrilled that she thought of me, so I immediately said, "Yeah, why not? That sounds fun!" Heidi is very well known for her crafting prowess: she writes books (http://www.amazon.com/Heidi-Boyd/e/B001JP8G5G/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1375376559&sr=1-2-ent) and she has a very successful business (https://www.facebook.com/HeidiBoydWhimsyKits), so to say that she's got some pretty big shoes to fill is not an understatement. We met last week so she could give me a crash course in Fairy Building. I took copious notes, I photographed each step of the process, and, of course, I got nervous about the whole thing...but most of all, I had fun, and that's the spirit I wanted to bring to the workshop. She assured me I would be fine and that the kids would be a very open, receptive audience; she also told me I would have help from at least one librarian and a high school student with volunteer experience. All of this made me feel better, and I started to get excited.

Well, the workshop was yesterday morning, and WOW- what a whirlwind! There were at least 25 kids there and they were all very eager to build their own fairy. My helpers were amazing: Robyn, a librarian, and Kathryn, a teen volunteer. The three of us set up the room and got all the supplies ready before the kids arrived. When the start time rolled around, I introduced myself to the crowd, showed my Art Walk poster (as Heidi suggested), and went through the fairy-building steps. I then asked the kids to repeat the steps back to me one at a time (again, as Heidi suggested); they had obviously been paying attention because lots of hands shot up into the air every time I said, "Okay, what's next?" When it was time to get down to business, the kids swarmed the table for supplies. I turned to Kathryn and said, "Uh oh...have I lost control already?" She smiled knowingly and said, "Don't worry. This is normal." Kathryn and Robyn were on glue gun duty, and I helped kids who asked for a hand. I had intended to take pictures, but I just got so wrapped up in what I was doing, I didn't even touch my phone. Before I knew it, the room was mostly empty, and there were just a few more kids waiting to get their fairy's wings glued on! It was all over in just 30 minutes, everyone left happy, and the room was fairly clean. That's what I call a successful workshop!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

yet another recap

A lot has been going on...it's time for a recap!

The Five Rivers Arts Alliance group show I'm in at Thornton Oaks in Brunswick is up and running. The show went up on Wednesday, June 24th, and the opening reception was Thursday, June 25th. I have six paintings in the show, and it's kind of a mini-retrospective for me. I have work from '06, '07, '09, '10, '11, and '13 on display, and I think it's interesting to see the way my work has been evolving and changing over the years. The painting from this year, "Old Fat Boy Sign", is about as new as it gets: I signed it on Wednesday morning and hung it on Wednesday afternoon! Thornton Oaks always puts on a nice show, and this was no exception. The weather was beautiful, and Marlise (Thornton Oaks' Director of Marketing) decided to have the opening reception out on the patio. The turnout was wonderful, and the residents of Thornton Oaks were a great audience. At one point during the reception, Marlise introduced all of the artists and asked us to say a few words. None of us realized this would be happening, but I think we all did just fine. I was happy to have my friend Donna along with me for the opening reception, and I think she enjoyed being there. Donna's brother's wedding was on Saturday, July 27th, so she was up from New York from the week: it was a happy coincidence that she was able to spend the day with me and attend the opening as well. This show runs through the end of August, and it looks like I will need to get some magnets made up of "Old Fat Boy Sign" before it's over: I had at least two requests for them during the reception! If you're curious about the show, here is the Thornton Oaks website: www.ThorntonOaks.com.

My show at Cafe Creme in Bath came down on Sunday. It never ceases to amaze me how much faster it is to take down a show than it is to hang a show! I was finished in 30 minutes, and Terry wasn't even with me. I did get a little bit of help from a friendly stranger as well as from Arlie, but it was pretty much a solo effort. Arlie thanked me for having my work on display, and she told me that it got a lot of positive feedback from customers; another staff member told me she had given out a few of my business cards, so I left some extras behind. Cafe Creme is a really prominent and popular location in Bath, and I am happy to have had my work on display there. It will be interesting to see if anyone contacts me in the future as a result of this show...I guess time will tell! Now I need to get ready for my solo show at She Doesn't Like Guthrie's in Lewiston, which goes up on Saturday morning.

I am also happy to report that my work has been accepted into "tiny, take two" at Spindleworks! I dropped off two little paintings yesterday and I am excited to be a part of this show. I won't be able to make it to the opening reception because it falls on August 9th, which is Second Friday Art Walk, but that's okay...Spindleworks keeps regular hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 - 4:30), and I know I'll be able to stop by at some point and see it without having to deal with a crowd. Here is the Spindleworks website, in case you'd like to check it out: www.spindleworks.org.

Monday, July 22, 2013

norwegian wood (or wouldn't)

We've all heard stories about email scams targeting random people with the promise of a sudden windfall of cash as a result of winning a contest or helping someone in need. Well, I guess they're going after artists who are looking to sell their work as well. Within a week, I got two different emails from two different "shop owners" in Norway (the country, not the town in Maine), stating that they wanted to buy artwork from me and have it shipped through a shipping agent. I completely ignored the first email, but when I got the second one, I started poking around online for more information. It seems like this is a widespread problem and artists everywhere are being targeted. I found an interesting site that deals with exactly this type of thing (http://stopartscams.blogspot.com/2010/08/scam-email-alice-drew.html), and I also posted about it on Facebook; within a few minutes after my original post was made, an artist friend stated that she had just gotten an email from a shop owner in Norway as well. I figured it might be a good idea to post the emails I received here just in case anyone else gets one and thinks it could be legitimate...we artists need to look out for each other! Here's the first one:

Good Day,

     My name is Amanda Gray, from Norway, Am interested in commissioning some of your unique work you have in stock right now and i will like to know if you ship to Norway. Cause my shipping agent will be coming to pickup the items Directly from you, I already have some large merchandise with Them in Which Together they'll be shipping to me here in Norway. Let me know if it possible to order them?


Amanda Unique Art Store.
Address: 709 Vikjavegen, Eimstad,
Phone: +47 5551 2350
Email: amandawholesalestore@gmail.com

...and here's the second one:

Good Day,

       Your items is most creative & desirable, so much talent! I am interested in purchasing some of your unique arts/ items to my shop in Norway,but before i do i want to inform if i can make the payment with my credit card because presently my best form of payment is via credit card,that is where i put all my money for any international transaction.So kindly reconfirm your website/contact details and get back to me with it so as to know if I'm right with the site.
 Concerning the shipment,my shipping company will be coming to pickup the items because i already have some merchandise with them in which they will be shipping together to me here in Norway.So you don't need to be worried about the shipment nor handling fee.

Markveien 30,
Oslo, 0554
Phone: + 47 22 00 16 30
Fax:   + 47 23 29 45 01
Enail: melanie.brownshop@gmail.com

Best Regard,
Melanie Brown.

I have to give them credit for choosing to use Norway as their country of origin (seems original to me), and for using the words "unique", "creative", and "desirable" to describe my work and therefore make the email seem more personal and less like a form letter. Too bad they're full of sh*t.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

hot and sticky

Here we go again...I haven't been blogging as much as I ought to be, and for that, I am sorry. It seems like every few weeks I begin a post this same way! At least I know better than to say "I'll never do it again," right? Let's get right to it, shall we?

Yes, this seems to be the Summer of Magnets: hot and sticky all around. I am so, so, so thrilled to report that people are really responding to my magnets. Friends, family, and complete strangers are buying them left and right; they're being given as gifts or kept in a place where they will be seen every day. My magnets are being carried in many wonderful local shops as well, and the list keeps growing: Estilo, Jai Yoga, and The Mix in Brunswick, Maine; Cafe Creme in Bath, Maine; and The Elf Shelf gift basket business in Claremont, New Hampshire! It's exciting and fun and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm up to 11 different types of magnets, and I've had more than a few reorders at this point.

July's Second Friday Art Walk was absolutely fantastic. The turnout was fabulous, the weather was beautiful, the live music was great, and lots of friendly faces made their way into my room at 98 Maine Street. The magnet sales were brisk, and I got a ton of positive feedback. In fact, I had a lot of really interesting interactions with art walkers. One was a young boy who had visited my room during last year's art walk. Back then, he had asked me if I had work on display at Spindleworks. I had been in the "tiny" show there last year, and it blew me away that someone so young recognized my style. Well, this time, he asked me if I'd be having work on display at Spindleworks again anytime soon! I smiled and told him that I had applied for consideration in the "tiny, take 2" juried show and that I hadn't heard back yet, but that I hoped they liked me enough last time to include me again! Another interesting visitor was a woman who asked me if I had a show earlier this year at Curtis Memorial Library. She told me that she must have caught it towards the show's end, because when she went back to the library to see it again, the next show was up. Even though she missed it, I thought it was very nice to hear that she had made a second trip. Plus, the man who bought the painting I donated to the Family Arts Festival last year walked into my room! That was pretty cool. He had been looking around (the room was full of people at this point), and on his way out, he casually said, "Yeah, I love your work...I bought that gelato spoon peace sign painting," and I said, "What? I've always wondered who bought that painting!" I shook his hand and thanked him for satisfying my curiosity. I hope next month's art walk brings more of the same!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

poster child

Woo-hoo! The Brunswick Second Friday Art Walk posters for July are here, and my painting, "Sole Mate", is the featured artwork for the month! I am very happy with how the posters came out, and I am getting quite a kick out of seeing them all over town. I happened to be around on Friday when the posters were ready for distribution, so I was able to hit most of the spots on my route that same day (I was able to get to the one remaining spot, Frosty's Donuts, on Saturday morning). We had out-of-town company arriving on Friday evening, and it was fun to walk around town with them during the weekend, spotting the posters hanging in different shops. I am impressed with how on top of things Five Rivers Arts Alliance has been this year about promoting Second Friday Art Walk: just a few days after one art walk ends, the posters for the next one are ready to go. Even the shop owners on my poster route have taken notice. 

Speaking of shop owners on my poster route, I was talking with Jill from The Mix (on Maine Street), and she mentioned how many people have been stopping into her store while the art walk is going on! She said it's been an interesting cross-section of people (old, young, families, individuals) and all of them have been happy and excited about the art walk. The live music has been really well-received, shops are enjoying the increase in business, and, of course, artists are getting their work out there and making connections with each other as well as the community in general. Hooray for Brunswick, and hooray for ART!!! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

stick to it

Well, this month's Second Friday Art Walk has come and gone, and many people I spoke to felt that it may have been the best one so far! Personally, I had a lot of fun on Friday night. The evening flew by, (which isn't always the case), the turnout was great, and I got some really nice feedback from people who visited my little room, including one guy who actually used the word "SHAZAM!" to describe my colors. I even sold five magnets (three of which were to complete strangers), and two of the women who bought from me recognized my work from Jai Yoga! My friend Erica's band, Cumberland Crossing, played music on the sidewalk in front of the Five Rivers building, and she said they had a blast as well: they played a great set, the tips were good, and the weather was gorgeous. Let's hope next month brings more of the same!

More magnet news: I delivered a batch of "That Heavenly Coffee" magnets (twenty, to be exact) to Cafe Creme this afternoon- just in time for Bath's Third Friday Art Walk! After I left, I strolled over to Markings Gallery to pay a visit to the lovely and talented Susan Mills...and she ended up buying four magnets from me! I placed a reorder this morning for more "Back Yard Buddha" and "Mexicali Ganesh" magnets, plus a new magnet as well: "Imagine Memorial, NYC". I am very excited!

Oh, I almost forgot: last week, I had my first (and my second!) mail order magnet sale! My dear friend Tim was first, followed very closely by my cousin Betty. Tim sent a great photo of the magnets on his new stainless steel refrigerator, which I thought was fantastic because someone recently told me that magnets wouldn't stick to stainless steel. Now I have proof that they do!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Woo-hoo! Magnets of my painting, "Estilo", are now available for sale at Estilo, the women's consignment shop in Brunswick! I am so excited about this! In case you're just tuning in now, Estilo is one of my favorite shops. They have beautiful, fashionable, fun, funky, gently used clothing at VERY reasonable prices, and they're right here in Brunswick. I did a painting of the outside of the store a while back and Lauren (the owner of Estilo) liked it so much, she bought it and hung it in the shop! Well, when I finally got around to getting magnets made of some of my paintings, I stopped by to see if Lauren might be interested in carrying ones with Estilo on it. She said yes, so I placed an order. They arrived on Friday afternoon, and as soon as I put labels with my information on the back of each one, I brought them over to the store. Thankfully, Lauren loved the way they came out, and even posted a picture on Facebook!  Here is a link to Estilo's Facebook page...check it out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Estilo-Womens-Consignment/104045166210?fref=ts

In other news, I hung my show at Cafe Creme in Bath today! I am really happy with how it looks. Terry came along with me, and I am so grateful he did...he was such a big help. He said he felt like he didn't do anything, but the opposite is true. Of course, he helped me to load and unload the car, but there was a lot more to it than just that. Cafe Creme has really high ceilings, so I had to get onto a six-foot ladder to hang my paintings. Terry was able to hand my work to me as I was standing on the ladder, he was able to tell me if my paintings were straight or crooked or if they needed to be spaced differently, and he also hung a couple of paintings for me that were super-high - even with the ladder, I would have been stretching. After all the work was up, he helped me to put all the tags in their proper spots (he got the top ones, I got the bottom ones). We hung a total of twenty-two pieces today: fifteen paintings and seven mixed media pieces. I hung the mixed media pieces on the lower area of the wall, since they are so small. I knew they would get lost if they were up high. Fortunately, I didn't need a ladder for those! All in all, it took us an hour and a half...not bad, considering it was a totally new space for me to be showing my work and I really wasn't sure what I would have room for or what would look good where.

Anyway, right before I left, I stopped to say goodbye to Arlie and the staff who had been working this afternoon. They gave me some very positive feedback about my work and how the show looked, which is always nice to hear. One of the paintings I decided to hang in this show is "That Heavenly Coffee,"which is, coincidentally, one of my most popular magnets. I had one magnet of that painting left as of this afternoon, so I showed it to Arlie to see if it would be okay for me to bring some to sell at the shop. She said yes, and now there are more on their way! Yippee!!! Since I'm posting links to Facebook pages, here's the one for Cafe Creme: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Creme/90066531736?fref=ts. Stop by and treat yourself to something tasty!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

stuck on you

I mentioned in my last post that something interesting was brewing...well, here's my news: I've gotten magnets made of some of my paintings! Not only that, but they're selling like crazy already, and I haven't even brought them to an art walk yet!

A few months ago, my friend Tim suggested I get magnets made up. I hadn't done anything about it for a while, but recently, the time felt right for me, so I went for it. I chose six different paintings to start with (pictured above!) and I posted about it on Facebook. The response from friends and family was overwhelmingly positive, and people started asking about how they could get their hands on some. The magnets arrived right before Terry and I went to New Hampshire for the weekend to visit friends and family, and I brought the box along just in case anyone was interested. I left our house with 62 magnets, and in three days, I sold 31 of them! Not only that, but our dear friend Janette Coombs, owner of The Elf Shelf (https://www.facebook.com/TheElfShelf?fref=ts), bought a bunch to include in her gift baskets! I have several requests for mail orders, and I've already had to place a reorder for more magnets! On Monday, I had a wonderful lunch with Terry's cousin Sarah...she bought 5 magnets to give as gifts, bringing the total to 36 magnets sold in 4 days. As Larry David would say, "Pre-tty, pre-tty, pre-tty good." I am thrilled and excited and I feel like this could be the beginning of something wonderful. Stay tuned...there's more to come very soon!

Friday, May 31, 2013


Lots of exciting things have been happening these days! I don't want to go into detail just yet, because I want things to be a little more concrete first, but rest assured, I will post some cool news soon.

One thing I do need to post right now is an apology to anyone who may have made a special trip over to Cafe Creme in Bath to see my solo show...because it's been bumped! There was a scheduling issue, but hopefully things are resolved now. I'm slated to hang my work on Sunday, June 9th. The show will still be up through the end of July, so even though I missed out on any Memorial Day traffic, I'll get in on the Fourth of July/Bath Heritage Days action. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit bummed out about the snafu, but I'm trusting in the Universe and its timeline for me. So, if you're looking to treat yourself to a lovely coffee drink after next weekend, consider making a trip over to Cafe Creme! You'll be glad you did...and so will I.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

odds and ends

I don't have a long story to tell about one particular experience or happening, but a bunch of little things are going on, so I figured I ought to touch on a few different topics in this post.

First of all, I got new business cards! I am really happy with how they came out, and I'm thrilled with how quickly I received them. I ordered them VERY late on a Monday night (so late, it was almost Tuesday morning) and they arrived the following Saturday...and I hadn't even paid for expedited shipping. Thank you, VistaPrint! Here is a picture:

Second, I got a lesson in iMovie yesterday! Blake came over and brought a ton of footage he shot of my solo show at Curtis Memorial Library (video from the opening, still shots from the opening, video from the day I took the show down, and still shots from the day I took the show down). Getting all that information at once was a little overwhelming, but I am excited at the prospect of making another YouTube video. Speaking of YouTube, Brunswick TV3 is re-running my "artist profile" from last year! Here are the dates/times:

Tue., May 14th, 6 pm
Thurs., May 16th, 5:30 pm
Fri., May 31st, 4 pm
Sat., June 1st, 3 pm
Mon., June 3rd, 5:30 pm
Wed., June 5th, 6:30 pm
Fri., June 14th, 4 pm (just in time for Second Friday Art Walk!)

Third, I got a call from Arlie at Cafe Creme: I'll be hanging a solo show there on Saturday, May 25th at 5:30 pm! This show will run through the end of July, which I'm really excited about. Cafe Creme is a great little coffee shop, and the location is fantastic - it's right on the corner of Front Street and Centre Street, smack dab in the middle of downtown Bath. Here's a link to their Facebook page, if you haven't had a chance to stop by yet: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Creme/90066531736?fref=ts

Last, but not least, I just got an email from Five Rivers Arts Alliance: I am one of six artists who will be participating in a group show at Thornton Oaks in Brunswick! The show opens on Thursday, July 25th and runs through Monday, September 2nd. The call for artists went out yesterday and it was a "first come, first served" situation. I am fortunate that I was home when the email arrived and was able to send in my application right away. It will be interesting to see what the mix of artwork will look like, since the selection process was somewhat random. I'm sure it will all work out! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

that's groovy, baby

I am SO tickled right now: my work is the subject of the lovely and talented Sage Lally's school art project! Sage is Terry's 16 year old cousin, and she contacted me a few months ago. Her class assignment was to profile an artist, and she chose me! It was to be a large, end-of-the-semester project, and I was asked to send along an artist's statement, a brief bio, and some images of my work, which I did. I had no idea what the end result would be like, but Sage's mom, Leigh, was kind enough to send a photo my way the other day...and here it is!
I don't know about you, but I would LOVE to be represented by the Groovy Gallery! That looks like my kind of place. Thank you, Sage, for making me smile! 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

because different is good

My friend Trish posted an interesting quote on Facebook this week. It said, "The easiest way to be creative: try something different, even if you don't think it will work." I took that advice a couple of times this week, and I'm glad I did!

Wednesday, April 24th was the Scoop-A-Thon at the Gelato Fiasco to benefit the Brunswick Teen Center. As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, I was asked to do face painting for preschoolers between 11 am and noon; I said "yes," even though I had no experience. The face paint, brushes, and various other supplies were being provided for me by People Plus (which is where the teen center is located). I was hoping to get my hands on those supplies a few days beforehand so I could sneak in a little practice time and then take some photos (so kids could get a sense of what things would look like). Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and needless to say, I was a bit nervous Wednesday morning. Shortly before I left the house, I figured I ought to sketch out a few simple designs. If I didn't have actual photos, at least I could give the kids (and myself) something to work with. I filled a piece of paper with things I thought might make good face painting options: a flower, a peace sign, a seahorse, a rainbow, a spider hanging off a web, etc. I grabbed my paper and headed over to Gelato Fiasco a few minutes before 11, hoping I wouldn't be eaten alive. Well, not only was I not eaten alive, but the hour went by very quickly, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. No one minded that I had no previous face painting experience, and everyone was happy with the wearable art they walked out with. It was a fun time for me, and I never would have experienced it if I hadn't decided to try something totally new and different.

The other new and different experience I had this week was at home. My husband Terry's 45th birthday was on Thursday, April 25th. Anyone who knows Terry knows what a huge music fan he is. I thought it would be fun to make him a birthday cake that looked like a 45 record, complete with the yellow plastic adaptor in the middle. I wasn't sure how to make this happen, so I went over to Pinterest and did some investigating. One person suggested using a paper cutout on top of the cake, but that didn't feel right. I called my friend Tim, and thankfully he's had some cake-decorating experience. He said, "You're an artist- you can do this!" He instructed me to start from the center and work my way out: a small circle of dark frosting for where the adaptor would be, colored frosting around that for the label, then more dark frosting for the vinyl. He made it sound simple, so I decided to go for it. The next step was figuring out what I would do for a cake. Terry loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, so I knew that had to be what I would make. That being said, Terry lost almost 60 pounds a little over a year ago. He still likes sweets, but now he enjoys them in moderation. Baking him an entire cake seemed a bit cruel and not very supportive...kind of the opposite of what I was going for. It was back to Pinterest with me, and this time, I was looking for healthy cake and healthy frosting recipes. Not only was this my first time making a cake on my own completely from scratch, but it was my first attempt at making a healthy cake. Would it work? Would it taste good? Would the frosting design come out the way I was hoping it would? Well, I am very happy to say that the answer to all of those questions is the same: YES. He was completely surprised (and quite tickled) by the cake's  appearance, he loved the taste, and he was able to enjoy it guilt-free (only 100 calories per slice, not including the frosting). Once again, trying something completely new and different ended in a positive way, and I have a feeling that cake will be making another appearance before either one of us has our next birthday!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

face time

I had an interesting phone call yesterday: Sarah Brayman, who is one of the Brunswick Town Councilors, asked me if I'd be interested in doing face painting at a benefit for the Brunswick Teen Center next week. Since I have absolutely zero experience with face painting, I naturally said "yes". I figured: what the heck? Why not? It's only for an hour, it's for a good cause, it's at the Gelato Fiasco, and the kids will be preschoolers. I went on Facebook today to get some tips and advice from friends, and many of them had great suggestions ("get good quality paint," "have a lot of brushes," "bring sponges, water, baby wipes, headbands, etc.," and, of course, "practice!"). I even spent a little bit of time poking around on Pinterest, getting ideas for designs and subjects that kids might be interested in. It is amazing how much is out there and how complicated face painting can be! I'm planning on keeping things simple...I don't want to get in over my head! So, if you're a local, and you're looking to support a good cause AND throw some moral support my way, how about stopping by the Gelato Fiasco on Wednesday, April 24th, from 11 am to noon? I would love to see you there!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

let there be songs to fill the air

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from Connie Lundquist at Five Rivers Arts Alliance, asking me to be one of the music coordinators for this year's Second Friday Art Walk season in Brunswick. My job would be to book musicians to perform at two different sidewalk locations (in front of the Bank of America building, and in front of Cool As A Moose, both right on Maine Street; Peter Alexander was already booking acts for 98 Maine Street and The Gelato Fiasco). At first, I was a little nervous, but then a couple of things dawned on me: 1. This could be a nice way to get involved in making Second Friday Art Walk a little bit nicer, and 2. This could be a great opportunity to help out some of the wonderful musicians I know. I said "yes", and I am happy to say that I was able to book all three of my dear friend Erica's bands (The Intergalactic Yurt Band, Thornapple Scrub Brush, and Cumberland Crossing), as well as Terry's aunt's husband, Bruce Grover, who is a singer/songwriter.

Being one of the music coordinators has involved lots of emails and several meetings, including one on Monday night at the Brunswick Town Council Chambers. Five Rivers Arts Alliance needed a representative to show up and ask for permits in order for the musicians to perform on the sidewalk, so I was asked to attend. Connie had already sent in a letter of request, but in case there were any questions, she thought it would be good to have someone there.

I thought I might be nervous speaking at the meeting, but since I'd done it before back in January when Hati Modr and I had our paintings on display, I was a lot more relaxed as I was waiting. That's a good thing, because I did a LOT of waiting that night...two hours and forty minutes worth of waiting, to be exact. By the time I was called up to speak, my stomach was growling, everyone was exhausted (councilors and spectators alike), and the room was mostly empty. I walked up to the podium, introduced myself, said why I was there, and then exhaustion took over. I said, "Please grant our permits, because I've been here for over two and a half hours and I'm starving." Thankfully, everyone laughed, and the permits were granted. They thanked me for my tenacity, and one of the councilors mentioned what a great idea it was to have music on the street and that the art walk made the town fun. I headed home, feeling tired but positive, secure in the knowledge that the Thai lentil chili waiting for me at home in the Crock Pot was going to taste wonderful.

Friday, March 22, 2013


It was a beautiful, sunny day today, and Terry and I both happened to have the day off, so we decided to walk into town for lunch at one of our usual spots. We weren't sure where to go when we first left the house, but as we walked and the chilly wind started to hit our faces, we decided to go somewhere relatively close: Scarlet Begonias, a favorite choice in any weather. We ordered our lunch, and just as our food was served, Doug (the owner) came over to our table. He said, "Hey, are you interested in having another show here?" I was thrilled. I said, "Well, I would love to, but I'm pretty booked up through the summer with Second Friday Art Walk and a couple of different solo shows. Is is too soon to think about September or October?" He thought for a moment and said, "Actually, that would be perfect. How about October and November?" He had me write my information down just so he had it again, and then it was official...another solo show all lined up, and I didn't even have to go looking for it. Four months ago, I lost my free First Friday space and I was filled with fear and uncertainty...now every month of 2013 is booked. My delicious lunch became that much better before I even had the chance to take a single bite.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

the jury is in

I'm happy to report that I will have paintings in two different juried shows coming right up! The first is the Maine Open Juried Art Show at the public library in Waterville, and the second is "Play" at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell. I have never participated in either show or had my work on display in either of these towns before, so I really don't know what to expect...but I'm looking forward to finding out. The opening reception for the Maine Open Juried Art Show is Tuesday, March 19th, from 6 pm to 8 pm (show runs through April 19th), and the opening reception for "Play" is Friday, April 5th, from 5 pm to 8 pm (show runs through April 27th). If you're curious about checking either show out, here are some links:   www.watervillemainstreet.org 



Thursday, March 7, 2013

pecha kucha #2

Well, Pecha Kucha was Tuesday night, and I have to say, it was a fun and exciting experience once again! There were eight presenters in all (seven visual artists and one author) speaking in front of the crowded theater at Frontier Cafe in Brunswick. I was up second, which I was relieved about...I didn't have to go first (which seems to me like a tough slot), and I got to get my presentation out of the way so I could relax and enjoy the others.

I did Pecha Kucha once before, back in August 2010, so I knew what I was getting into. Having this previous experience made preparing a bit easier. Of course, I still had to choose twenty pieces to talk about, make sure I had good photos of those pieces, and figure out what I wanted to say about each one, so it's not like it was a walk in the park or anything. Plus, I was still really nervous. Speaking in front of a large group isn't exactly comfortable or easy for me. I prepared the best way I knew how: I wrote (and timed) my entire presentation, and then I practiced, practiced, practiced. Twenty seconds may not seem like a long time, but it can be painfully long if you have nothing to say, or ridiculously short if you have too much to say. Throw in a room full of people staring at you, and you've got the makings of a nightmare on your hands.

Thankfully, my six minutes and forty seconds went smoothly. I managed not to talk too fast or too slow or stumble over my words. No one I spoke to afterwards seemed to realize that I was nervous while I was up there, which is a good thing! I got some wonderful feedback, including several kind compliments from a woman who I'd never met before.  She came to talk to me during the halftime break, and she said the funniest thing: "I thought artists had to be tortured!"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

It's been a long, long, time...

Yes, I know...it's been over a month since I last posted. It's not that things haven't been busy and I've had nothing to write about! I will try my best to re-cap:

In my most recent post, I mentioned that Blake was loaning me his video camera to get some footage of my show at Curtis Memorial Library while it was still up. Well, he loaned me the camera, and I went over to the library one afternoon and interviewed myself. That was really weird. I know tons of people talk into cameras every day without having anyone else around, but it was new for me and it felt strange...particularly because I was in a public place talking to myself. Anyway, I set the camera up and started talking, and talking, and talking...and then I realized the camera wasn't on. I had turned it on, honestly, but the batteries I was using (which I thought were new) were evidently not very good, because the camera shut itself off. I must have been talking for a good fifteen or twenty minutes before I thought to check how things looked. Whoops. I tried it again with better batteries, and for the first time, I noticed the bright red light to indicate that the camera was indeed on. So, once again, I talked, and talked, and talked. I kept feeling like I wasn't wording things as well as I had the first time, but I pressed on. I brought the camera back to Blake a few days later, and it turns out, the footage was better than I thought. The following week, on the last day of the show, he met me at the library and interviewed me, which felt more professional than talking to myself. I haven't had a chance to see the footage from that day just yet, but I am curious. Speaking of the last day of the show, it took me roughly twenty minutes to take my work down. It took almost three and a half hours to hang it!

The Joy of Art show at the Topsham Public Library came down in the middle of the month, and my two-woman show with Hati Modr at the Brunswick Town Council Chambers will be coming down on Monday, March 4th, but I still have work on display at Jai Yoga. There are a couple of other shows I am thinking about applying to, so if I get in, you will hear all about it!

The other big news is that I've been chosen to be one of the presenters at the upcoming Pecha Kucha event at Frontier Gallery in Brunswick! It's on Tuesday, March 5th at 6 pm. I've been working hard on deciding what images I want to show, what order I want to show them in, what I want to say about those images, and how I want to say it. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pecha Kucha, here's a brief description: it's an evening of different people presenting their work. The work in question could be just about anything, really- art or architecture or a project they're passionate about. Each presenter shows twenty slides, and each slide is up for twenty seconds. It is a fast-moving evening and it's always interesting to see who is working on what and what they want to say about it. To prepare, I took a bunch of notes and I timed myself to make sure each of my individual statements was less than twenty seconds. A lot of crossing out, revising, and adding on needed to take place to get to the twenty second mark! This process involves a lot of me talking to myself, but since I was at home and alone while I was doing it, that was okay (as opposed to doing so into a camera in a public place). At any rate, I need to practice, practice, practice, so there will be a lot more talking to myself going on than usual over the next several days.

I think that's it for now. It's practice time!