Just a Moment

Without asking, he brushed a finger over her gossamer wings.

A bazillion years ago when I was a kid, a boy who was more than old enough to know better touched me in a way that changed me forever.

The change didn’t happen overnight. It took years for the confusion, guilt, shame, and secrecy to build walls and to paint my own mental picture of Dorian Gray. In my mind for many years, I was an ugly little troll, and I did not want to be.

I was thinking of this the other day as I was sketching a rough layout of a similar moment in my next book, The Truth About Trolls, when everything changes for the main character, Elly. That moment is a big reason why I wrote the story. It was to acknowledge that sometimes things happen, even to children, that they can’t control and that change them.  Even though that moment in the story is told in a way that is comprehensible and accessible to young children, I knew the rough sketch was on the right track because I started to cry as I drew the hand of a brash boy reaching to touch the wing of a fairy.

When I met my husband, a.k.a. The Big Guy, my mental picture changed. He was the first man who knew me and my secrets and still told me I was beautiful. Twenty years later I still see a very round troll when I look in the mirror, and he still tells me I’m beautiful. The only difference is that years of  loving the Big Guy, 16-year-old Thing1 and 10-year-old Thing2 has helped me see that trolls can indeed be beautiful.

That is the next part of the book. Sometimes things happen and they do change us, even against our wills. But too often those changes cause guilt or shame, and we can begin taking unflattering mental selfies. What Elly discovers, and what I’m hoping children will glean, is that even if you are not the same person you were, those changes don’t make you any less valuable or beautiful, and, in time, you can come out stronger.


“The worst tale is that trolls have no magic…”

In between working on getting art supplies to future artists and taking a drawing course to improve my skills a bit, I’ve been working on the layout for “The Truth about Trolls”. The story is about finding your inner beauty by recognizing the inner strength that comes from surviving loss or heartbreak.

DrawPaintCreate has raised over $1500 in its first week, and will be delivering art kits to refugee children in Albany New York in the next week or so. I’m also in contact with the Department of Children and Families in Bennington Vermont and I’m working to
assemble kits for an additional 88 children that they serve.

DCF was kind enough to provide the ages of the children so we can tailor the kits a bit for safety. I had a chance to peruse their site and found the site of an agency that helps place children with foster families and with forever families. The site has pictures of smiling faces that are impossible not to fall in love with and stories make you to want to wrap each and every kid in unconditional love and shelter until they’re ready to fly the coop.

You can’t, of course. You can give as much help as possible, but there will always be another story that tugs at the heart– as the stories should.

The smiling faces however, have kept me on task with the drawings for “The Truth about Trolls.”. They’re reminders that resilient inner beauty is more than just a fairy tale.


No Blue Mondays

Monday is my new favorite day of the week. Between sales and outright donations, almost $400 was raised for DrawPaintCreate, and I was able to order supplies for 20 kits, thanks to a friend who helped find a few websites that sell art supplies wholesale.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone for your generosity.  I have even had local people ask if they could help assemble the kits, and I’m thinking a ‘Santa in Spring’ party may be in order.

Yup, Monday is a good day.

Planting Seeds – Art for Sale

This morning, I’m planting a few seeds to raise funds for a project that gets creative tools into the hands of at-risk kids, kids who are in-transition or recovering from trauma.  The seeds are the paintings, and 50% of all sales will go to the project, DrawPaintCreate which you can read more about here.

All Paintings are sold matted, ready to frame.  8×10 prints are available for $30 and 5×7 prints are available for $20.

If you are interested in any item or print, email me at rachel @ rachelbarlow.com and I can send you a PayPal invoice. I also take checks via snail mail.

Thingvellir Lake
12 x 16

12 x 16

Ice Pond Farm
12 x 16

313 West

Magic Mountain

Ice Pond Barn

Dust Up 9×12 $75

Winter Roads, 12×16 Watercolor


Winter Wondering, 9×12, Watercolor

Tomorrow, Sunday March 5 between 4pm and 6pm I will be having an opening reception a new show – Seasonally Affected – at the Roundhouse Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge, NY.

There is never a wrong time to go to the cafe, but tomorrow will be something more than a reception for me.   Tomorrow I will officially kick off fundraising for a project to get art supplies into the hands of children going through difficult transitions that’s been germinating beneath the snow this winter.

The project, DrawPaintCreate, came about after reading Jon Katz’s blog, BedlamFarm, and his efforts to help newly-arrived refugees.

The agency he works with does an excellent job of meeting the physical needs of the new arrivals, but as I looked at the photos of the new apartments’ bare walls, I felt a nagging, silent question about the children in these families who have just emerged from incredible trauma.  It’s the same question I have had for years when reading about children living in foster care or who recovering from harrowing events .

How do they get back to being kids? How do they get past these events and get back to the incredibly important business of growing up?

Years ago while trying to move past a childhood trauma and manage a lifelong relationship with bipolar disorder, I discovered art as a powerful tool for processing difficult memories and re-engaging with the world in a positive way.

If art saved my life, my kids have given it direction by centering every decision around their physical and emotional needs as well as their futures.  That includes caring about the physical and emotional needs of the other people in their generation, and giving children the tools to express themselves and create their futures.

Unsure if there was a want or need for this sort of thing, I put together 5 kits consisting of watercolor paints, colored pencils, sketch and coloring books, and a drawing guide packed in a small drawstring.

I then reached out to the US Committee for Refugees in Albany to see if they thought their younger arrivals would benefit from access to art supplies. They came back with a request for 50 kits.  I have since reached out to other groups who serve at-risk children and have been met with enthusiastic responses and offers of help.

To that end, I will be kicking in 50% of my share of sales from the show at Roundhouse.  Tomorrow morning, I will also be having a fire starter sale on this website, putting up a number of paintings to  raise money for kits for newly arrived refugees in Albany, NY. Fifty percent of all sales from the website will also go to DrawPaintCreate.

If you would like to help, you can purchase a painting or visit www.DrawPaintCreate.org to donate directly and/or purchase an item to go into an art kit.  Every donation is greatly appreciated as it helps to fuel a new creative spark.