Thursday, December 31, 2015

i raise my glass to you

As 2015 winds down, like most people, I'm finding myself in a reflective mood. I wanted to take this moment to say "thank you" to everyone who has been supportive of me (and my art!) this year. If you purchased my artwork in any form, if you came to one of my shows, if you shared my work with someone you care about, if you bought a raffle ticket for my first "Paint-a-Thon," if you promoted any of my art events, if you opened your space up to me so I could show my work there, if you are taking the time to read my blog, whatever...I am grateful for YOU. Family, friends, and strangers alike, thank you all for your support! You helped make 2015 awesome. I am hopeful about the coming year, and I'm excited about the possibilities ahead. Know that I will raise my glass to you tonight. I wish you all good health, happiness, prosperity, and creativity in the coming year. Let's kick some ass together in 2016!
yes, it is!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure recap!

It's been just over a week and a half since my "Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure"! I've been laying low for a little while, for several different reasons...partly because the "Paint-a-Thon" was an intense experience and I needed a little time to process everything, partly because I needed to catch up with all of the work I'd been putting off...and, hello- Christmas is tomorrow! What?!? Well, here's my recap of the day...

Where it all happened! Photo by Keith Spiro

Masking tape is a fun medium! Photo by Keith Spiro

I started at 10 am as planned. The front window of the Mix proved to be a supportive, wonderful place to paint! Thank you, Jill, for allowing me to be there all day long and to take over the music as well. The soundtrack of the day consisted of Iron & Wine, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Tom Petty, Phish, Gin Wigmore, and New Earth Mud, plus a two-hour set of live music in the middle of the day from Kathleen McGee, who was wonderful. The eight hours flew by, and I was really in a zone. I only stopped to use the ladies' room, and most conversations I had included me saying, "I hope you don't mind if I don't look at you while we talk!"

Work in progress! Photo by Keith Spiro

I went through all of the ups and downs I typically experience while working on a painting. Usually these feelings are spaced out over days, weeks, or sometimes even months, but not this time. It was a day-long roller coaster ride: "Here's my idea, I know what I'm going to do." "This is going along well. I feel good about what I've done so far, and I've got plenty of time to finish. Maybe I'll even be done early!" "Hmm...wait a minute. Am I going to be able to do this?" "Holy cow, one o'clock already? I need to get the lead out!" "Three o'clock? Uh oh." "What the hell was I thinking?" "There's no way I'm going to finish this on time!" "Wait- I think it's happening!" "Yes! Yes! It's finished!" Sure enough, just before 6pm, I was signing my name in the lower-right hand corner of the 8" x 8" canvas. I felt punch-drunk, slightly dazed, and buzzing with adrenaline. In other words, it was kind of awesome. Then it was time to pull the winning ticket! Here's a video of the moment of truth (including the finished painting!): After that, it was time for a celebratory mojito at El Camino!

Thanks to the help of so many people, my "Paint-a-Thon" was a success! Keith Spiro was with me all day long, taking photos, shooting video, and promoting, promoting, promoting. He was working directly with the folks from Carii, coordinating the online raffle ticket sales through the community page he created, Brushstrokes With Impact By MariaSpeaking of Carii, major thanks to the folks at Carii for donating the programmers and space to make this community appear overnight to help with this project...can you imagine? My head is spinning just thinking about it! Special thanks to Dave Bjork, Cancer Research Evangelist, for his support of this #Paint4TheCure project (and for not minding that I altered your Play4TheCure banners)! I feel like I can't say "thank you" enough for all of the support I received throughout my "Paint-a-Thon"! I am grateful for everyone who stopped by to say hello and give me a hug, to everyone who bought a raffle ticket, to everyone who shared or promoted this event in any way, and to everyone who sent loving thoughts my way via social media, text, or brainwaves. Know that you are truly really means a lot, and I will always remember your kindness. You guys are a regular dream team! No thank you list would be complete without my ever-patient husband, Terry, who puts up with my mania on a daily basis and loves me just the same. 

So...what's next? Well, I've got another "Paint-a-Thon" up my sleeve for January! I will release details later (including the date, the venue, and the cause), but if you'd like to be in the know, I invite you to join my Carii community page, Brushstrokes With Impact By Maria! It's free, and there are no advertisements. Plus, you can see all of Keith's posts from that day, including more photos and video. I hope to see you there! In the meantime, I hope everyone reading this has an awesome holiday!!! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

the night before

Holy cow- it's almost here! The "Paint-a-Thon" is tomorrow! I was interviewed on WCME first thing this morning (thank you, Jim Bleikamp, for having me in the studio once again), then I came home to bake cookies and make white bean and basil hummus for the food table, and late this afternoon, I went over to The Mix to set up my easel, my paints, and my brushes. This is really happening! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't starting to get a little nervous...

inside out

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has been kind enough to help me with promoting my "Paint-a-Thon"! Lots of friends and family members have shared the event page on Facebook , along with the Carii community page (which is where you can buy raffle tickets online). I've also gotten some great "tweets" and "re-tweets" from friends, supporters, and complete strangers on Twitter, and that's been fun to watch, too! Plus, The Coastal Journal printed the press release in this week's issue. Woo hoo!

it's official!  

I'm going to try to get a good night's sleep tonight...I will certainly need it! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

one down, one more to go

The UUCB Holiday Art Fair was this past Saturday, and just like last year, I had a great time! The weather was gorgeous, the traffic was brisk, people were friendly, and sales were good. Plus, the hours for the show were 9am-2pm, so by the time everything was over and my car was all packed up, I still had the rest of the day to enjoy myself and relax a little bit. Perfect!

my display!

So...I have some more updates to report regarding my "Paint-a-Thon"! Are you ready?

1. I set up a Facebook event page! It's a public page/event, so if you'd like to share it, please it is: Paint-a-Thon/Paint4TheCure! 

2. The link to buy raffle tickets is up! Click here!  Once you register, you will see a purple "donate" button on the right-hand side; click there to buy your tickets.

3. I will have live music from Kathleen McGee from 1pm-3pm on Saturday, December 12th! I think this will be a perfect time slot, since I will be starting at 10am and going until 6pm or so. You may have heard Kathleen perform at an art walk or at the Five Rivers Art Festival and Sale...if so, you already know how good she is; if not, stop by to hear for yourself!

the Carii page! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

release me

Okay...after weeks of teasing, I'm finally ready for "the big reveal". I even wrote a press release. Fancy, huh?

Local artist launches Paint 4 The Cure to benefit cancer research
Brunswick artist Maria Castellano-Usery has come up with a way to have fun, create art, and give back. On Saturday, December 12th, instead of having a “standard” opening reception to celebrate her month-long art show at The Mix (53 Maine Street, Brunswick), Maria will be having a “Paint-a-Thon”, complete with a raffle featuring the finished painting as the prize.
Maria will set up her easel in the front window of The Mix and have a day-long “Paint-a-Thon” during business hours (10am to 6pm, roughly). Raffle tickets for the completed 8” x 8” acrylic painting will be sold both in person and online ($5 each, 3 for $10) with the winning ticket being drawn at the close of business on Saturday, December 12th.  Maria will be donating 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales to the National Foundation for Cancer Research's Play4theCure.  Additionally, 10% of all Maria’s art sales from her December show at The Mix (excluding magnets) will be donated to the NFCR Play4TheCure program.
This idea came about when Maria asked, "If athletes can ‘Play4theCure,’ then why couldn't artists ‘Paint4theCure’? Why couldn’t musicians ‘Play4theCure’?”  Food, refreshments, and live music will add to Saturday’s festivities.  If you are a musician and would like to play one or more short sets during the event, please contact Maria directly before December 5th.
This is the first of a series of “Paint-a-Thon” events where Maria will be working with other local businesses and various charities that are meaningful to her.  If you are interested in creating a future collaboration, please email
For more information about this event on Saturday, December 12th, please go to (click on “current shows” and follow the links).

I'm so excited about this! Information about buying raffle tickets online will be coming soon, so stay tuned. Speaking of staying tuned, I'll be interviewed on WCME in Brunswick on Friday, December 11th at 8:30 am to promote my "Paint-a-Thon"! Here's the link in case you want to listen: For now, here's a sneak preview of what my show at The Mix looks like! Thank you, Jill Jacobs, for opening your space to me; thank you, Louanne Schoninger, for suggesting this venue; and thank you, Keith Spiro, for being such an awesome co-conspirator! 

Welcome to the Mix!