Saturday, December 31, 2016

catching up and wrapping up

It's the final day of 2016, so I suppose I should wrap up this year with a blog post!

On Saturday, December 17th, I had my 13th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon". This one was at Selby Shoes Etc. in South Portland, and the cause was the Press Herald Toy Fund. Snow was in the forecast that day, and boy oh boy, did it come down! Fortunately, art was in the forecast as well, and my "Paint-a-Thon" went off without a hitch. True, foot traffic was a bit slow, but thanks to the miracle of the internet, I was able to sell lots of raffle tickets online. Plus, the hearty souls who did come out in the winter weather were friendly and engaging: I sold a bunch of magnets (and even a print) to new people who had never seen my work before! The staff at Selby Shoes Etc. were absolutely wonderful, too. They provided a welcoming, supportive environment that was fun to paint in all day. I'm grateful to the Selby folks for making me feel so appreciated. It's obvious why their customers are so, the boots!

my setup!

in progress... (photo credit Dennie Campbell)

in progress 2... (photo credit Dennie Campbell)

"Give From The Heart"- finished!

the winning ticket!

The winner of "Give From the Heart" is Kathleen Meade! Since Kathleen lives locally, I am planning to deliver the painting in person, but due to the craziness of the holidays, we haven't been able to meet yet...I will be sure to post a picture when it happens! Thanks to everyone's support, together we were able to raise $173 for the Press Herald Toy Fund! That means over $2300 has been raised for national and local charities since I had my first Brushstrokes with Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" in December 2015...pretty cool, huh?

Speaking of cool things, something very cool happened this year that I haven't had a chance to blog about yet: my work was used on the cover of the AGA Correa & Son catalog! Andy Correa saw my work at Mister Bagel in Brunswick when I had my show there in late 2014. He bought an "El Camino" print from me, and when we met to make the transaction, he asked if I'd be interested in a commission for some paintings of his jewelry creations. I said, "Well, they won't look exactly like your work," and thankfully, he said something along the lines of, "I want them to look like your work". I breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Okay, then- yes!" It remained an idea for a while, and then Andy contacted me earlier this year to see if I was still interested. He loaned me a Fish Float pendant/necklace and a Turk's Head bracelet (GASP!) and I got to work...not easy, since Andy's jewelry is so very intricate! After a false start or two, I was able to come up with these two 5" x 5" paintings...

Fish Float and Turk's Head, Maria-style...

...and soon, this showed up at my doorstep! 

cover me!

I didn't want to sign my paintings on the front because I wasn't sure if it would be a distraction (or which way he wanted to lay the image out), so I signed them on the side. Thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, Andy moved my signature from the side to the lower left corner! He also achieved a very cool paint-spilling-over-the edges/coloring outside of the lines effect that helps to tie everything together. Thank you again, Andy! I'm so grateful for this unique opportunity! 

check out this write-up on the inside front cover!

I know that 2016 has been a challenging year for many people. I'm happy to say that my year has been filled with a whole lot of goodness, and I'm grateful to everyone who made it that way. Thank you all for your support...and let's kick some ass in 2017, shall we? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

the art of giving

In a week and a half, I’m having my thirteenth Brushstrokes With Impact™ “Paint-a-Thon”! I'm calling lucky number 13 "The Art Of Giving": on Saturday, December 17th, I will be setting up my easel at Selby Shoes Etc. (220 Maine Mall Road, #5, South Portland, ME) and painting from roughly 10am-6pm. At the end of the day, the completed painting will be raffled off, and 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Press Herald Toy Fund. Raffle tickets can be purchased in person or online (here's the link: for $5 each or 3 for $10. I will also have a “pop-up” show of my art at Selby Shoes Etc. and 10% of all my art sales (excluding magnets) from this show will be donated to the Press Herald Toy Fund. Here's a link to the Facebook event page - it's public, so please feel free to share!

I'm excited to be supporting such a worthy cause: the Press Herald Toy Fund has been helping families in need for sixty-seven years! Artist (and director for the Press Herald Toy Fund) Kathleen Meade reached out to me to see if I would be interested in supporting their mission with a Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon," and naturally, I was intrigued. I hadn't heard of the Press Herald Toy Fund before, but after doing a little research, I knew it was a cause I could get behind. Simply put, the Press Herald Toy Fund is a "Secret Santa" for Mainers. They are behind-the-scenes in their approach, allowing the families they serve to keep their participation "under the radar".

I'm also happy to have Selby Shoes Etc. hosting me! I am a fan of that shop, and I'm a fan of Selby Shoes Etc. owner, Dennie Campbell! Dennie is the mom of my dear friend, Heather (check us out in this boot ad from a few years ago!), and she's a wonderful photographer as well. In fact, several of my paintings are based on her photographs!

"Dennie's Dandelion": SOLD at this year's 10x10 Brunswick

"The Joy Of Pollination"

"Milkweed Pods"

So, mark your calendars for Saturday, December 17th! Support a good cause, pick up some art as a  unique gift for someone special on your holiday list, and treat yourself to some awesome footwear all at the same time! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

you can go home again

My 12th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" (entitled "Feed Your Soul!") has come and gone- and what a wonderful experience it was! This was my second out-of-state event of this nature, and my first one in New York- which was extra-special for me, since it took place in my hometown of Bellport

I'm grateful to everyone who made this event a joyful homecoming and a wonderful success. The entire staff at Cafe Castello was friendly, welcoming, and happy to be a part of this interesting little experiment of, the food is fantastic! My oldest and dearest friend, Julia, also happens to be the best point-woman ever. Julia pounded the pavement to promote this event: she spoke to all the local merchants about my work, plus she printed up and handed out cards and posters, which ended up in windows and next to cash registers all over the place. Let me tell you, it was a real trip walking and driving down through downtown Bellport and seeing my artwork represented in the windows of so many shops! 

a little surreal for me

Friends and family turned out in droves (thank you, Tim, Charles, Jen, Donna, Laura, Kathleen, Betty, and my awesome sister, Addie, who was with me pretty much all day, taking photos, videos, and being my all-around special helper), and so many others supported me via long-distance (just to name a few: Keith, Marc, Ellen, Amy, Chris, Lisa, Heather, and of course, the fabulous Schmoopie himself, my husband, Terry, who wasn't able to make the trip with me, but who got put to work unpacking my car moments after I pulled in the driveway on Sunday night). Also, I'd like to give a special shout-out to Trent Griffin of Monarch Massage who squeezed me into his schedule before my trip to New York so my arms and shoulders could be as loose and relaxed as possible for eight straight hours of painting! 



I arrived in Bellport late Thursday evening. Julia and Addie helped me to set up the show late on Friday night, and on Saturday morning, I got right to work just after 9:30 am. The day went by quickly, and it was filled with a lot of hugs, laughter, and meaningful conversations with friends and strangers alike. I met a ton of new, friendly faces, including two different people who told me that I had inspired them to go home and paint- how cool is that? I sold 32 magnets (which I think is a record for me!), plus three prints, and a painting! 

let's go, let's go, let's go

almost there...

I signed "Heart Beet" at 5:30 pm on the dot, and then the winning raffle ticket was pulled: here's the video

signing "Heart Beet"

Yes, the winner of "Heart Beet" is Laura Miller! This is the first time the winner has been present for the raffle ticket drawing, so it was very exciting to see Laura's happy reaction in person! 


I will always hold a part of Bellport in my heart...and now, parts of Bellport hold my art! Thanks to everyone's support, together we were able to raise $286.50 for Long Island Cares, Inc.- The Harry Chapin Food Bank (what a coincidence: the telephone prefix for Bellport just happens to be "286")! In case you've been keeping track, that means that twelve months of Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" events have resulted in over $2150 donated to local and national charities! Woo hoo!

"Mandala Fiasco": SOLD to a VERY good home! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

keep a candle on the path

Love. Healing. Hope. Positive energy. This is what we need right now. Hell, this is what I need right now.

I meant for this to be a light-hearted post about how excited I am for my next event, but I didn't have a chance to write it until today...and I think it's safe to say that so far, today isn't panning out to be the day I expected it to be.

We can't change what's how do we make things better? We need to keep shining our light. We need to make it brighter. Good always ripples out, always. Even small acts of kindness make a difference. The darkest of times require the brightest of lights. So...

My 12th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" is called "Feed Your Soul". It's another out-of-state event...this time, I will be in the town where I grew up, where I was raised, the place I called home until I moved to Maine in 1995: Bellport, New York.

On Saturday, November 19th, I will be setting up my easel at Cafe Castello (141 South Country Road, Bellport, NY) and painting from roughly 9:30am-5:30pm. At the end of the day, the completed painting will be raffled off, and 50% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Long Island Cares, Inc.- The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Raffle tickets can be purchased in person or online (here’s the link: for $5 each or 3 for $10. I will also have a “pop-up” show of my art at Cafe Castello and 10% of all my art sales (excluding magnets) from this show will be donated to Long Island Cares, Inc.- The Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Here's a link to the Facebook event page: I hope to see you there...and if you can't be there in person, long-distance support is always appreciated.

"Essential Birthday Wishes"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

home and away

My 11th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" (entitled "Make Yourself At Home") took place on Friday, October 14th in Claremont, New Hampshire. This was my first out-of-state event of this nature, and it was such a blast, I hope to be able to do it again soon! Here's how it went!

Before hitting the road, I was fortunate enough to get a fantastic massage from Trent Griffin at Monarch Massage! Thanks to Trent, my previously stiff and achy right shoulder was loose and ready for eight straight hours of painting. WHEW! A sidebar: if you're interested in a great massage at a bargain price, today's your lucky day...

You're welcome.

Anyway, back to the trip! The car had to be packed just so for the 3+ hour drive: we needed to fit four display racks (each one being 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide), art supplies (an easel, paint, a palette, etc.), a whole bunch of artwork (paintings, prints, and magnets), plus two adult human beings (us!) and our suitcases. Did I mention I have a sedan? Once again, my husband Terry packed the car like a pro: everything fit and we didn't feel cramped. Yay!

We arrived in Claremont late Thursday afternoon. My mother-in-law, Ellen, greeted us at 84 Pleasant Street with tables, a boom box, and a list of people who bought raffle tickets through her! Terry and I unpacked the car and immediately began setting things up so I could just walk in and start painting the next morning.

GO time!

Friday flew by (as it usually does)! I had visits from family members, friends (thanks, Alex!), folks from the Pleasant Street Restaurant, curious passers-by, and even members of the local press (thanks, Cameron and Bill)! I sold two prints, a handful of magnets, and even more raffle tickets (both online and in person).

signing "Autumn Leaf"! 

6 o'clock was fast approaching, so I asked Terry to get an impartial person from the Pleasant Street Restaurant to draw the winning raffle ticket. The dinner crowd made it impossible for anyone on staff to leave their post, so instead, Terry brought the tub of tickets to the hostess station.

the winning ticket!

As you can see, Christine Guilmette is the winner of "Autumn Leaf"! I don't believe I've ever met Christine, but we went to the same high school! Christine was in my sister's class, and she is now living in North Hollywood, California. Thank you, Christine, for giving my work a good home! 

"Autumn Leaf"

On Monday, I was greeted with articles from the Eagle Times and the E-Ticker News! Here's the link to the Eagle Times article: 

a screenshot of the Eagle Times article

...and here's the link to the E-Ticker News article (go to section B, page 23):

a screenshot of the E-Ticker News article

I'd like to give a BIG "thank you" to everyone who supported "Make Yourself at Home," my 11th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon"! Together, we were able to raise $227.50 for Realtors Against Homelessness! I'm filled with gratitude for your help, your generosity, and your kindness. I couldn't do it without you! 

thanks to Elizabeth at the Greater Claremont Board of Realtors for making this display!

Here's some more cool news: I recently hosted a four-week series at Curtis Memorial Library called "Playing With Paint"! Curious? Here's a link to the blog post I wrote about it for Curtis Creative Spaces Do you live locally? If so, you can check out the awesome work that was created during "Playing With Paint" in person: it will be hanging in the library's front lobby until November 10th! I stopped in to Curtis Memorial Library on Tuesday to see how everything's a video of my visit! Thanks to Michael Gorzka for shooting this footage, and thanks to Melissa Hall for doing such a great job hanging this show! 

yay art!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

time for a road trip!

Woo hoo! I'm happy to announce my 11th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" will be on Friday, October 14th- and it's my FIRST out-of-state event of this nature! Thanks to the Greater Claremont Board of Realtors (R), Ellen Satzow Usery (my step-mother-in-law!) and The Pleasant Street Restaurant, I will be in Claremont, New Hampshire! I will be setting up my easel (and a "pop-up" show of my art) in the vacant space right next to The Pleasant Street Restaurant (84 Pleasant Street); 50% the raffle ticket proceeds will be donated to Realtors Against Homelessness (as will 10% of all art sold, excluding magnets). Time for a road trip! 

I would love to see you on Friday, October 14th, but as you know, you don't have to be there in order to show your support- or win the 8" x 8" painting I will be creating that day! Thanks to the miracle of the internet, past winners have included friends and family members who live in New York, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Texas! Perhaps YOU will be next...anyway, here are some links! 

Here's the Facebook event page (it's public, so feel free to share it):

...and here's the Carii fundraising page (so you can buy raffle tickets):

...and here's my press release in the E-Ticker News of Claremont:

...and here's a photo of the flyer you might see hanging somewhere in Claremont!

In case you were wondering, the total we were able to raise together for Curtis Memorial Library was $161.50! Thank you to everyone! Speaking of Curtis Memorial Library, I write a bi-weekly art blog for Curtis Creative Spaces...if you'd like to read my most recent post, here's the link to that:!

Monday, September 19, 2016

library love

My 10th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" was on Friday, September 9th, and it was a whirlwind of a day! I was at Curtis Memorial Library from just before 9am to just after 8pm...on paper, it looks like a long day, but from my standpoint, it went by ridiculously quickly!

I stopped by the library on Thursday to drop off food for my opening reception in hopes of making things easier on myself (and my husband Terry, who was being tasked with setting up the food/refreshments table due to my packed schedule). I passed by the entrance and noticed the sign with the hours posted: the library was scheduled to open at 9:30am, not 9am. Whoops! I found Melissa Hall and explained my dilemma, and she was quick to help, saying that either she or Michael Gorzka would let me in early so I could set up and start painting by 9am as planned. WHEW! I'm grateful for the entire staff at Curtis Memorial Library for making me feel so welcome (special thanks to CML volunteer Jo-An Jacobus for helping me to number my work at the last minute). I was even greeted with a flower first thing in the morning!

What a nice way to start the day! 

I hadn't done much sleeping in the days leading up to Friday's Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon," but running on pure adrenaline sometimes has its perks: I actually finished "Black-Eyed Susan" early!

"Black-Eyed Susan"

The opening reception that night was filled with friendly faces and awesome music. A new five-piece band was formed out of a jam session, and they have a great name, too: Fat Boy Drive In!

for your listening pleasure: Fat Boy Drive In!

Michael Gorzka was working overtime for sure! He took video footage throughout the day, and locked up the Morrell Meeting Room that night...good thing, since the last time I had a solo show at Curtis Memorial Library and tried to lock up, I set off the alarm! Thanks, Mike! Here's a video from early in the day: 

...and here's a video of the winning raffle ticket being drawn: 

The winner of "Black-Eyed Susan" is Amy Mullin! This is rather fitting, because not only has Amy supported every single one of my Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon"s, she is a librarian! Thank you, Amy...and thank you, Rebecca Boothby Conley, for doing the ticket-pulling honors (and for playing such beautiful music with Eileen Armstrong and the rest of your new band, Fat Boy Drive In)! I'm thankful for everyone who bought a raffle ticket, or attended the show, or helped me to promote the event. You are all appreciated! 

If you weren't able to attend the opening reception, you've still got time to see the show: it will be up through Tuesday, September 27th. I don't have a fundraising total as of yet, because in addition to splitting the raffle ticket proceeds, I will be donating 10% of all art sold at this show to a worthy cause: Curtis Memorial Library! In the meantime, here are some photos...and wherever you are, please support your local library! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

looking back, looking forward

EEK! It's the last day of August already! It's been a busy month, and as a result, I'm overdue for a blog let's get started!

On Tuesday, August 16th, I had my 9th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" ("Rising To The Challenge!") and it was a wonderful experience. I was set up at Roger's Haircutters in Auburn, raising funds for their Dempsey Challenge team: a perfect fit! The staff and patrons at Roger's Haircutters were friendly, welcoming, and helpful, and I was even treated to an in-person visit from Robert, Tammy, and Robert Neilsen Jr.! Friends and family reached out with support via email, phone, and online raffle ticket sales (including - but not limited to- Amy Mullin, Kathleen Powers Vermaelen, Chris Rose, Keith Spiro, and Julia Villacara) and, as always, I am grateful. Together, we were able to raise $145 for the Roger's Haircutters Dempsey Challenge team! Here are some photos from the day:

my event made the paper!

"Flat Pat" photobomb!

me through the window

work in progress...

with Robert from The Intergalactic Yurt Band and The GOODS! 

The winner of "Rising" was Ella Evans, who happens to be my niece (and she is amassing quite a little collection of my work, I must say)! Congratulations, Ella! Thank you once again for giving my work a good home. 

I'm thrilled to announce that my next Brushstrokes with Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon" will be on Friday, September 9th at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick! This will be my 10th event in this series, and I'm calling it "Library Love!"  My work will be on display inside the library's Morrell Meeting Room for most of the month of September, but I will have my easel set up in the front lobby. I'll be painting from 9am-5pm near the entrance, and then I'll be moving my paints and easel (and myself!) over to the Morrell Meeting Room, where I will be having my opening reception from 5pm-8pm. I'm going to need to eat my Wheaties that day! As usual, raffle tickets will be sold online and in person ($5 each or 3 for $10), and this time, 50% of the proceeds from raffle ticket sales (and 10% of all artwork sold, excluding magnets) will go to Curtis Memorial Library. Since this will be a longer-than-usual day for me, the winning raffle ticket will be pulled sometime towards the end of the opening reception. I'll have food, refreshments, and live bluegrass music by The Star Charmers! Woo hoo! 

performing live from 5:30-7:30! 

Speaking of Curtis Memorial Library, I have some more news: this fall, I will be hosting a four-week series called "Playing With Paint"! Here's the write-up:

Maria Castellano-Usery will host four "Playing with Paint" classes at Curtis, Tuesdays this Fall. Paint your version of these four artists' famous masterpieces — with help from Maria! Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe and Marc Chagall. FMI and to register:

If you're interested in joining me, the dates/times are as follows:
Tuesday, September 27, 6:30 – 7:30 PM — Vincent Van Gogh
Tuesday, October 4, 6:30 – 7:30 PM — Jackson Pollock
Tuesday, October 11, 6:30 – 7:30 PM — Georgia O’Keeffe
Tuesday, October 18, 6:30 – 7:30 PM — Marc Chagall

Friday, August 5, 2016

big news and a new challenge

A lot has been happening...and there's more on the horizon! Let me fill you in on at least some of it!

On Friday, July 15th, I had my 8th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon"! This one was at Cool As A Moose on Maine Street in Brunswick, and the chosen charity was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick. It was crazy hot that day, but I happened to be set up right under their air conditioning vent (a coincidence), so I was cool as a cucumber while I worked! I had visits from friends Keith Spiro and the lovely Rebecca Boothby Conley and I met some new friendly faces as well...including a fellow Long Islander, who bought a "Back Yard Buddha" print as a graduation gift for her niece!


The staff at Cool As A Moose made me feel welcome, as usual, and when the winning raffle ticket was drawn at 6pm, the name on it was not one that I recognized: a first! Lindsay MacDonald was the winner of "Magical Mystery Flowers," and it turns out that she is the Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick! As always, I'm grateful for everyone's support...and now, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick are $100 closer to their goal of buying a play parachute for school-based mentoring programs!

"Magical Mystery Flowers" and Lindsay MacDonald!

My host for the July Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn was a new place to me: Roger's Haircutters on Main Street in Auburn, just a few doors down from Gritty's! On July 21st, I set up my work in their front window, and when art walk came around on Friday, July 29th, I set up my magnets and my easel in Festival Plaza and did some work on a painting that I had been struggling with. Despite the forecast of rain, it was a beautiful night, and I was able to make some progress on my previously abandoned piece. I also had a very nice visit from some of my loyal magnet collectors, Donna Alexander and her husband, who helped me unpack my car and set up- thank you both for the help and the company! 

the front window at Roger's Haircutters!

can you spot the new magnets?

Speaking of Roger's Haircutters, I'm happy to announce that they will be my host for my 9th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon," which is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16th! I'm calling it "Rise To The Challenge" because the charity will be the Roger's Haircutters Dempsey Challenge Team! This is an awesome cause and I'm so happy to be a part in helping them to reach their fundraising goal. Want to be a part of it? Either stop by Roger's Haircutters (I'll be there from roughly 10am-6pm on Tuesday, August 16th) or buy raffle tickets online! Here's the Facebook event page:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

overdue but not over, dude

EEK! I haven't posted here in almost a month! How did that happen? Well, I have managed to get in a couple of blog posts for Curtis Creative Spaces over the last couple of are the links for those...please enjoy!

This one is all about a recent trip to The Painted Dog in Brunswick:

...and this one is all about a recent trip to the Portland Museum of Art:

The big news right now is that on Friday, July 15th, I'm having my 8th Brushstrokes With Impact (tm) "Paint-a-Thon"! I will have my easel set up in the front window of Cool As A Moose (128 Maine Street, Brunswick), and I will be painting from 10am-6pm. At the end of the day, the completed painting will be raffled off, with 50% of the raffle ticket proceeds going to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick. Want to support this worthy cause and possibly win a painting? You can buy raffle tickets here!

The Cupcakery in Lewiston hosted me for June's Art Walk Lewiston/Auburn, and it was a wonderful experience! It was a beautiful night, and the community really turned out for it: Lisbon Street was bustling with art lovers of all ages, and the evening went by very quickly. I sold a bunch of magnets, I saw some familiar, friendly faces who were happy to see me, and I made a lot of new, lovely acquaintances as well. Hooray for art!