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This tree, done in acrylic on canvas, is my role model.  It expresses so many levels of what I aspire to.

The woman this represents is strongly rooted in a faith that grounds her to a noble stability no matter what winds blow her way.  Fashions and fads, and the tumbling waves of fleeting whims, have little effect on this strong woman who merely bends slightly in the breeze.

Her branches reach out in every direction, capably taking care of so many little details and blessing so many others – her family, friends, and her world.  She doesn’t limit herself to one area of service, or to one group of people but cares about her family as well as her local and global community. She beautifully handles multiple tasks with a grace stemming from the connection of the branches with the core of her centered and focused self.

The limbs are ever reaching upward, seeking the best, striving for the most excellent way.  No dwelling on the things of earth, but on attaining what is above.  Reaching upward to soak in the invigorating rays of light coming from the Son.  Always, always reaching toward the light, the right, the good.

This piece was also painted in honor of the nurturing, hospitable spirit that I see in so many women.  A tiny red bird perches among her limbs, finding both a safe, restful refuge as well as a launching place from which to take flight.  Safety and stimuli comingle among the branches in a perfect balance of grace- filled encouragement.  Everyone should have this kind of haven in which to find such restorative rest.  Do you?  Are you that person?


To purchase an 8 x 10 print of this artwork, go to


Watch the World with Glittering Eyes

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“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”  Roald Dahl

Uniformity is Boring!

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We all want to be noticed, because that makes us feel like we matter.  Yet, we don’t want to be noticed TOO much. We don’t want to be TOO different.   We admire those who are eccentric and quirky – like, say Einstein but are terrified of being that person. (The nerve it would take to appear in public with that head of hair!)  We walk a tight rope of being unique without being odd.  We want to find our niche as long as we have plenty of company there.  We want to shine, but not, heaven forbid, by being – gasp – DIFFERENT.

Yet, God seems to delight in differences.  He created in such variety, far beyond pragmatic needs for survival.  Imagine the fun He must have had creating such diversity of flora and fauna and Einsteins and Picassos and Galileos, and even you and me.  He could have made us all look alike, think alike, feel alike….but he didn’t.  I can’t see any other possible reason  than that it was for His enjoyment.  And, if He finds difference enjoyable, that explains why we really do too.

We LIKE quirky.  So, the question that remains is “why do we strive so tenaciously for sameness?  Hair styles, clothing styles, house styles, entertainment styles – we dare not stray too far from the norm.. Looking at teenagers, who are just exaggerated versions of adults, we can see it most clearly, that driving fear of STANDING OUT, and how that keeps us from being OUTSTANDING.  The older that I get, the more it seems that my quirkiness just cannot be contained any longer.  I am getting beyond the pretense of normal, it just takes too much energy to try to maintain that sort of façade.  I have given up the battle…and won the prize.  Turns out that being a bit different in method and perspective is probably one of my best assets.

After all, what is Art but bringing a different vision of the world to people – whether it be a brighter, cheerier version, or a view of some of the darker inner realities.  Some things need to be uniform – what time students show up for a class, or how fast people drive.  It is most convenient that a cheeseburger always be a cheeseburger and that we wear our shirts on top and our pants on bottom.  Yes, uniformity and conformity have their place, but let’s not over use them! Let your true self shine and be brave in revealing your own lovely quirks!

Pulled from the random thoughts in my sketchbook/art journal/life book:

uniformity is boring

Painted Purse Tutorial

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This and other painted purses available in my etsy shop at

I love the practical expression of art in painted handbags.  A well made, leather bag with lots of organization is hard to beat on the practical front, but lacking in interest and personality in the area of self expression.  A painted purse is the best of both worlds, but can be an intimidating project to take on.  Today, I will guide you through the process so you will be ready to liven up your own purses. Here we go….


a supplies 1

The most essential part of this whole project is the paint.  I know many people use regular acrylic paint on their purses and claim success, but I just don’t have confidence in the long term wearability.  I use special for leather Angelus Acrylic Leather Paints and have been very happy with the results.  The colors are vivid and they have proved durable.  They are sold many places, but here is a link for the starter set from Amazon, priced around $39, and another link to Shoe Shine Express which has a huge selection of colors.  While you are at it, you might want to pick up some Angelus Acrylic Finisher.  I don’t use this on every bag, only the ones where the paint sits on the surface… more on this later!

a supplies 3 a supplies 2

You will also need:

  • finger nail polish remover
  • Q-Tips and/or cotton swabs
  • Micron pen (05 or smaller)
  • black Sharpie paint pen, fine or extra fine


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This is also pretty crucial to your success.  I look for very gently used purses at high end 2nd hand and consignment shops.  You want to start out with a high quality bag here. The purse on the left is a nice vintage bag made of vinyl.  Since vinyl doesn’t absorb the paint well, I use the Angelus finisher to seal it after I am done.  If you use vinyl, choose a bag without a lot of give and flex. These stiff sided vintage purses make a nice surface to work with.  Also, you don’t need to limit yourself to purses, I have done many billfolds as well and you may prefer to start with a smaller project.  My personal favorites are the soft leather bags because they absorb paint well.  I keep retruning to bags made by Fossil and Coach, but don’t exclude any well made leather bag in great condition. I look for designs that provide a blank area large enough for my own design.

Start in your closet and see what you can find!


c prep

Here is where the fingernail polish remover comes in.  It is important to remove the finish that is on the purse in the area that you want to paint.  This will help the paint absorb better and that will make your paint job last longer.  I use Q-Tips if I only want to remove the finish in intricate areas, or a cotton pad to remove it in larger areas.  You will need to make sure the purse has time to dry completely before you start to paint.


d design 1 d design

This is where it can get a little tricky.  A purse is not a nice flat uniform surface.  It is lumpy, and bumpy, and has zippers, straps, and fasteners to work around.  I have given up on trying to draw a design and then transfer it to the purse.  Now I use a fine tip black Micron pen (or a white gel pen on black bags) to draw a freehand design.  But I still like to come up with at least a rough plan of what I want to do, so I often sketch a picture of the bag with flaps and other important features and then try out my design there. For part of the design on this yellow purse, I actually made myself a little templat to use. The plunge of starting to mark up this nice bag that I have spent a fair amount of money on is always the hardest part for me!

Now for the fun part!


e paint 2 e paint 1

This is like just about any painting project, more thin coats are better than one heavy coat.  The Angelus paints can be thinned with water, and I keep the first coat I put on pretty thin because the goal is to have it actually soak into the leather.  The paints themselves are pretty thick and dry out quickly, so only put on your pallete what you are going to use immediately.  The colors mix nicely, so even with the starter set you can make a wide variety of colors.  Keep adding more paint as the first coat dries, building layer on layer until you have a rich, intense coverage.

On the wallet, I decided to paint a section with a background color.  On dark purses you may want to either paint a background, or paint the design in white first so the colors will be brighter.

e paint 5 e paint 4

Don’t forget about the strap, the back or other places you can add a little special something extra.  I used the template I made again here on the back side. I use a oil based black Sharpie paint pen to outline my designs and give a finished look to the bag.  If it is painted on vinyl, or even a not so porous leather, I coat with the Angelus finisher which also adds a little shine.


That’s it!  You did it!  Wait about 24 hours before using, but then go have fun with your stylish one of a kind bag!

Love painted purses, but not sure you want to invest in making your own?  Visit my etsy shop to see my current selection of handcrafted and handpainted bags.

Here are some more of my painted purses to stir your creative juices:

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Slow and Steady Wins the Studio Makeover

This tray is so handy to drop all my stray baubles into, and easy to transport to the table for a project.  I love using vintage!

This tray is so handy to drop all my stray baubles into, and easy to transport to the table for a project. I love using vintage!

Well, it’s far from finished, but it is coming along.  I have to remind myself that “slow and steady wins the race” or in this case the studio space.  My tactic is to spend a little time organizing and sorting every day that I work in my studio, a task that unfortunately does not come naturally to me.  So far, so good, and I might actually get through it all this year!  Pockets of eye pleasing organized storage are beginning to appear.  I bought a gallon of turquoise paint and if a container is not adequately appealing on its own, then it gets a coat of paint!  Amazing how much that helps things look clean!  Today, I put the last coat of paint on the floor of my “inspiration nook” area.  Can’t wait to settle in for some inspiration!

As I sort and reorganize, I’ve been looking at everything with new eyes… Is this really an asset?  Does it serve me, either aesthetically, or practically? Am I really going to get around to this project? Or, how can this be stored in a more eye pleasing way?  I’ve been really evaluating HOW I work, and it helps me figure out what needs to go where.  I’ve also had so much fun scrounging around for nifty ways to store.  Bringing out the old suitcases, wire baskets, giving old tins a coat of spray paint, I am actually having FUN with this project!