Full Circles

I’m taking a step back from oil painting in October to participate in Inktober. It’s a good time to do some drawing, and, anyway, my studio is about to be torn apart as I claim a larger space.

Today’s prompt is “ring.”

I’m sitting in one part of a ring — on the couch with the Big Guy as I draw. I’m trying to get Thing2 to do Inktober with me, but he’s over at the piano teaching himself the Beatles song book and making our eyes sweat.

It’s almost Thing2’s 13th birthday, and I’ve been thinking about the first few minutes after his birth. I’ve been remembering that perfect round baby head and those early days when nothing seems as pure as the love that we felt for them.

Now all these years later, we know his triumphs and follies, and the love is anything but pure. It’s stronger and better because we know that each day will reveal some facet that makes it stronger still.

We are shy one kid. He’s away at college, and it’s been an adjustment. As broken bars of “Imagine” drift over from the piano, however, I keep thinking about how full our little family circle, with its faultlines and reinforcements, still is.

I sat with a student today who is trying to navigate from adolescence to adulthood with only support from the state. She has little help from the adults who brought her into the world, but her courage and determination to help people she still loves is nothing short of heroic. I know she should have enjoyed — that they all should enjoy — that same kind of parental love we take for granted, and I know the only thing I can do is support her and show her that I expect great things from her during our last few months together.

But, now, sitting on the couch as the first bars of “Let It Be” begin to echo, I think about the other things I can do, and I make a point to never take our small circle for granted.

Start the Engines

The craft fairs are done, and, even though most of them were successful, I’m ready for the break.

Last weekend, I was almost ready for a permanent break, suffering from a crisis of confidence after visiting the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Mass. Usually I come away from that museum inspired, driven. Last weekend, Looking at the work of several supremely successful illustrators caused a nasty case of imposter syndrome – the realization that I could fraudulently be calling myself an artist. Intellect said it’s ridiculous to compare your work to someone who put in their 10,000 hours before they were 18, but I know I’m not the first artist to look at the work of a master and think to herself, “I will never be remotely as good as that.” I look forward to the end of the final art fair as a good excuse to pack up my brushes and paints and do some more writing.

This last Saturday, the last sale of the season was abysmal. If there hadn’t been well advertised, and it was my worst day of summer. I thought that would compound my confidence crisis, but it seemed to cure it. As I sat in the shade of the tent under a tree, contemplating the fall colors and the light, not making a dime, I knew the paint will never be packed up. Inktober and a season of indoor art me change the tools from oils to ink, but The painting isn’t about money earned or being as good as “insert name here”. It’s about connecting with the world and sharing it, and the need to connect doesn’t go away in the absence of income. The absence of income, on the contrary, throws the need to create into relief.

By the time I got home Saturday night I was making plans for my winter art routine. I investigated a larger studio space with enough ventilation to allow oil painting through the winter. I cleared out a new space to make more room for drawing alongside painting and began to rev up my paper and pens for Inktober.

And I made decision not to allow fear or pointless comparisons to stop my journey of 10,000 hours to, someday, become a master of my craft.

Saturday Night Lives

Another Saturday, another late night painting session. This time I’m working on a winter sky for the back side of the screen, making sure I like the design enough to live with it in the very likely event that it doesn’t sell right away at the craft fair. But this evening,I’m not working alone.


Two doors down from my office, Thing2 is busy excavating his room and, inadvertently, letting me know that he’s crossing a new threshold. The boy who was proud to have a room so messy but his mother is still working on a book about it is now at the tender age where He’s no longer content to sleep in a homemade landfill.


I remember when this phase which happened just a few short years ago with Thing1. Thirteen was just around the corner, and, suddenly, he saw his corner of the world just a little bit differently. he needed to make it his, and he finally got him to clean his room.


It’s a little bittersweet. On one hand, the room down the hall will no longer require that we get liability waivers before people enter it. On the other hand, when the room and the world changes like this, there’s no going back.