Fair’s Fair


Storm over the Equinox Watercolor 5″x5″

Saturday, Thing2 packed up his origami books and I packed up my watercolors and doodles and drove over to the Harvest Festival in Arlington, VT.

We didn’t expect to retire on our earnings (there was a mega old-time fair in nearby Peru, VT on the same day drawing serious crowds), but it was the biggest craft market of the year in our town, and we thought we might be able to buy an ice cream at the Dairy Bar when the day was over.

So we setup the tent, hung a few paintings and magnets and origami swans and sat down to wait.

We didn’t sit for long or for long throughout the day.

I had hoped to sell a few magnets but was happily shocked when watercolors – even ones I thought were borderline duds (and had almost made into bookmarks) –  started coming off the pegboards and out of the tent.  T2, who was watching my sales closely, began mentally converting dollars to chocolate sprinkles and adding a bounce to each step.

I could do this, whispered a voice inside my head. Wait, I think I am doing this.

T2 must have a direct line to the chorus in my head because as I sat down for a break, he wrapped his arms around my neck and said, “Mom you should just sell your pictures for a job.”

You gotta love getting job advice from someone who hasn’t yet been told by the world (and he ain’t gonna hear it here) that you can’t make a job out of art or music or anything outside an office.  It’s delivered with just enough conviction to make you realize that it may actually be happening.

I hugged him back and said, “That’s a pretty good idea, buddy.”

And that’s reason #5628 why I love that kid.  I ended up taking them all out to dinner.

Sunday, Sunday

Take Me Home, Watercolor 12x18

Take Me Home, Watercolor 12×18

A day of rest can mean a lot of things.

Around here it means inking a cartoon and finishing a banner for a website and a day of painting.

This is the final version of a painting that began with Kissing Frogs. One of the things I’m slowly learning is that you have to draw a line in the sand and tell yourself the work or painting is done – even if you think there are things you could have done better.   It’s the only way to keep moving forward.


If you are interested in purchasing this piece, please leave a comment or message me at rachel @ rachebarlow.com

Good Intentions


St James Harvest Festival, View from Burdett Commons


As TS Eliot once said, most of the stupid stuff in the world was done by bloggers with good ideas and not enough caffeine. Or something like that.

In my case, the good idea was consolidating my online split personality into a more cohesive unit under my own name. Yup, riding the high from a successful craft/art fair last night,  I was ready to take all the stuff on these pages – the toons, the tales, and the ahtsy stuff – and call it put it all under the heading of My Sketchy Life (which is pretty accurate).  And I got it all moved nicely to www.rachelbarlow.com.

You can still get to new Toons and  Picking My Battles stuff from days of yore by typing www.pickingmybattles.com into your browser.

And you can click Home and look at Art (or Ahht if you’re from New England pronunciation of the word) or find a new HOGA pose (Thing1 and Thing2 were working on Brotherly Hoga last night).

But (here’s where the stupid stuff comes in)  you might not get all the goings on in your inbox (hopefully you’re here anyway). As the caffeine left my system, I managed to remove the feed that sends this chaos to your inbox.  Said feed should have redirected here, but if you come to this page wondering where the heck your next diet cartoon is, it’s here.

You just may need to re-enter an email address to get it in your inbox.

Management is having a good talking to with the webmaster this morning who has decided, after a night of good intentions almost gone awry, not to risk any further snafus and leave  cleaning for another day.


Studio Cat

studio-cat-webThe kids bring back all sorts of great things from school these days –  new ideas, art projects, strep. Which is how I ended up on the studio futon snuggled under my official Full Moon Fiber Arts studio quilt with the studio cat showing me his best head butt maneuver.  Once he had his fill of being petted, he joined me in an official studio nap.  He apparently thinks that I should be doing way more cat doodles.

Kissing Frogs


For the last few months I’ve been drawing and painting like an addict. The truth is, I’ve been a drawing addict since I was old enough to bored in school, but art school wasn’t an option when I graduated high school, and it’s even less of one now.  Like a lot of people, I swallowed the mantra that art is a hobby, not a job.

Not too long ago, however, I heard a really happy story on NPR about the health of most of our 401(k)s and IRAs.  The upshot was that if you’re middle class and in your 40s, you’re almost as likely to be hit by lightning twice as accumulate enough retirement funds to, well, retire.

The danger of that happening is reaching crisis proportions.

Unless, like me, you’re a Simpson’s fan and are familiar with the term ‘Crisi-tunity’, where in crisis there is opportunity.  If you look for it. Sometimes you have to grasp at it like a straw, but I’m good at grasping, and the crisitunity came at a time when upheaval at work had me questioning what I really wanted to do with my life.

Then my sister reminded me of two things.  The first was that I had never been able to really stop drawing. The second thing was something universal – the idea that if you can find a way to get paid to do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.

She’s pretty smart for being two years younger – it’s one of the things I love about her.  That universal was the opportunity, and, after spending two blissful weeks of daily drawing on vacation, I decided to take that opportunity.

The first step on that journey was to get better.

A lot better.

Everyone knows, the more frogs you kiss, the sooner you get to that handsome prince – or that painting someone wants to put on their wall or in their children’s book.  So, I’ve got a nice and growing collection of frogs in my studio right now, and I haven’t slept more than 10 hours since I began feeding my addiction.  But I’m pretty sure there’s a handsome, salable prince – or even two – waiting in the stacks of paper somewhere.  Finding them may be a big job, but the zietgeist and my sister are very right.  It definitely doesn’t feel like work.