Social Media Tools for Artists II:
Using "Twenty20" to Sell your Art

November 26, 2013
http://twenty20.com/cproppe 

In my previous post, I talked about the social media tools, "Instagram" and the daily photo/art contest there called "Colors of the Week".  It was a long post because I wanted to explain how you could start using Instagram as an artist if you never have been exposed to it before, and I explained how I like to use Colors of the Week to sharpen my eye with the colors I see in life each day.  If you want to read that post, click here.

In today's post, I will explain one way to SELL your photos from Instagram.  Many users of Instagram post a link in their profile that goes directly to their "Twenty20" gallery, where the Santa Monica-based company Twenty20 (formerly "InstaCanvas") creates and distributes items made with your images that you select for your personal Twenty20 gallery.  Mine is located here.
or at the url twenty20.com/cproppe

If you click on any of the images in my gallery, you will have a choice of purchasing prints, t-shirts, iPhone cases, notecards, etc...  Artists receive 20% of the profit, which is not a lot... but for not having to do anything except maintain this gallery, it's a bit like "licensing".  The more you sell, the better you will do.  Below is an example of an iPhone case which has an image I took in a photography class at Fort Point in San Francisco.  There is an iconic "most photographed" hallway... and if you are a photographer in San Francisco, you probably have snapped this too!  I think it looks pretty cool as an iPhone case.

http://twenty20.com/cproppe/piece/545941373040184643_3954082/phone_case

Have fun selling your photos and art!  It can be really addictive, if not lucrative.  I think the best thing about it is that you can print your own images easily as gifts for those in your family, and enter additional contest "Challenges" on Twenty20 for a chance to get published.  Visit Twenty20.com to learn more.
This is a pillow available on Twenty20
 that uses one of my photographs taken in
Tomales California near Stemple Creek Ranch

How to Use Instagram + #ColorsoftheWeek:
Great Tools for Artists + Photographers

Monday, November 25th, 2013
#yellowmonday #colorsoftheweek

Today is "Yellow Monday" 


...and it's been so for me for 2 months now, and will forever be until a new way to assist me in my visual skills and art work comes along... but for now, I am an "IGer"(Instagram User) and I both love and participate in the daily group feature "Colors of the Week". (Instagram account @colorsoftheweek)
(Above) Screenshot of my first #yellowmonday photo
awarded a nod + repost by @colorsoftheweek

Instagram is quite puzzling to several of my Facebook friends who are parents or just super busy and don't always have time for the latest trends on social media, or they are just happy being on Facebook and that is enough.  Plenty of friends and family that don't even have a Facebook page, so I am writing this for those of you out there who may have never used Instagram before and you want to know more about why I use it, and why I think it's an excellent tool for artists.

What is Instagram?



In my own words, Instagram is, in it's most basic form, a way to keep a tiny gallery of your photos online, get feedback from other users all over the world, and enter fun photo contests to improve your visual skills and photography.  Using the Instagram App from your mobile phone or iPad, you can take a photo and post it instantly to your "gallery" or page. You can also create an account at Instagram.com from your desktop, but it's much more fun to use with a mobile device, hence the "Insta" part- posting your photos from anywhere instantly.  An Instagram page looks like tiny squares on your phone, and you can scroll through other people's photos and see what they are sharing. (See photo of my current Instagram Gallery @cproppe ABOVE)

Unlike Flickr or Snapfish or pretty much any other photo service, Instagram is fast, hence the "instant", and your Followers will see your photos in their timeline if they are looking at Instagram.  The public will see your photo if your account is marked "Public" and if they are looking for an image with the mark # or "hashtag". (You may also choose to have a private account and only share photos with your friends).

What is a Hashtag and Why would I care to use one?


Hashtags use the # symbol, followed by a description of what your image is or key words you want people to find.  For example, my image of a yellow sunflower was hashtagged, or "tagged" #yellow #sunflower #yellowmonday #colorsoftheweek #marin #colorcharted_yellow .  Most of these tags are obvious, but two of them are for putting your images into daily contests, my favorite being "Colors of the Week".

 

What is Colors of the Week?

 


Colors of the Week is a daily Instagram contest, account (@colorsoftheweek) and hashtag (#colorsoftheweek) that is moderated by four other Instagram photographers.

@colorsoftheweek asks people to tag:

• yellow photos on Monday
• purple photos on Tuesdays
• orange photos on Wednesday
• red photos on Thursday
• green photos on Fridays
• blue photos on Saturdays
• and black and/or white colored photos on Sundays



Why is this Limitation Great for Artists?


I find that forcing me to see the BEST yellow thing all day causes my mind to "be on alert" for this color all day, even if I am not really thinking about it.  For example, this morning, I knew it was "Yellow Monday" once again, but I was really busy working with my sons, getting them to the dentist, and to a computer workshop, running errands, paying bills, looking for jobs online and finally, taking my dog for a hike.  At about 1:30pm, I was driving through downtown San Anselmo with my sons when POW!!!  YELLOW sprang out before me in the form of a Ginko tree in full color before the dark awning of the Marin Coffee Roasters, and a bright primary yellow bike was parked below the tree, with leaves fallen all around it.  A yellow firehydrant in the foreground added more yellow to the image.  It was calling me to capture this moment for "ColorsoftheWeek".  My sons are getting used to the "Crazy Instamom Moment" when I suddenly get inspired and have to pull over and take a photo.

Winning is Inspiring and Community is Encouraging


Over the course of two months time, I have been honored with at least four #colorsoftheweek nods, and one @BarbedwireWednesday contest feature.  This is super fun, and when you win with a photo, it encourages other followers of the contests to follow your work on Instagram.  I have met other IGers from New York, Colorado, Amsterdam, Italy, Brazil and many from the Bay Area.  I even had dinner with a nice photographer from Mill Valley that I met on Instagram.

Some of my best photo marveling pals and inspirations on Instagram are:

@colorsoftheweek
@mikemoir
@iPeggy
@chicklet53
@zan
@stemplecreek
@kelseynjones
@nutiva
@dwpics9700
@brookeh02
@bucki511
@zioziegler

and many more... All these people "Like" your photos and comment on them, and it is generally short and sweet, because it is a small space, you are normally not going to be posting a long writeup on Instagram.  It's really just for photos and quick comments.  However, there are a few contests that write a lot, and I never read what they write because it is too much for this kind of a format.  I am glad that most people only write a quote or title or where they were when they took the photo.  The best thing about Instagram is that you only have to look at the photos in your timeline of people you have followed.  That means if you follow quality photographers, artists, art organizations and the like... you will get a steady stream of inspiration when you visit the app.
Recent #PurpleTuesday photo of
Andy Goldsworthy in
Presidio

The Downside of Instagram



Just like any form of social media, there is always going to be someone that is doing annoying things, or posting only "Selfies" #selfie (a self portrait with their phone that they want to share with friends because it's cute, pretty, funny or lewd-- Just recently, some guy was putting porn up and tagging it with #SFBatKid and I clicked the buttons to notify Instagram that this was not cool.  Sadly, it was still up there for a while.  I haven't checked again, but in general, I really like to see things that everyone can benefit from, and people doing private grown up things that should not be shared online need to just keep it in their own bedroom because there are 12 year olds on here, people.  It's sad that creeps don't get this, and I realize my 11 year old asking me for an Instagram account is going to get my lecture before he has one.  His cousin in New Hampshire is already on Instagram with all her girlfriends, so of course, the excitement is brewing for these puppies.

On my bad days, at least I have my dignity when it comes to this type of annoying behavior.  So many people online don't seem to care what they post, and I am at least glad I only have to follow people on Instagram that do care.  Not a day goes by that I am not inspired by someone else's photo and how they captured special colors, textures and light, a beautiful smile or a funny face.  I suppose it's instant gratification at its best, and highly addictive, but if you use it with the intent of gaining ideas for art, photo compositions and participate in contests... It really can be more than meets the eye.
"Natures Spray Art: Moss"  #greenfriday photo

On a personal note, I have been unemployed for the first time in years and going through the final steps of a custody settlement over the last several months.  Instagram has been highly uplifting and cheerful for me, whereas Facebook can sometimes be more depressing.  Art and photos are not always about yourself, and can be selfless and loving, whereas sharing on Facebook tends to be more about "me", and my family.  I like sharing art!  I just do, and I hope you will follow me @cproppe on both Instagram and Twitter, where I share photos of #art #colors #nature, #bikes the #SFBayArea and the best compositions I can fit in a square...

PS... What if you don't want to post a Square Photo?  


Use an app like "Whitagram" that allows you to fit your portrait or landscape image in a frame.

Thanks for reading!  If you live or work in the Bay Area and have job suggestions for me, I normally work full-time as a graphic designer for print and web, with marketing and social media skills.  I also serve as the Volunteer Communications Coordinator for Art on the Farm.  

All Bay Area job ideas are welcome!

Find me on Linkedin here:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/colleenproppe

-Colleen Proppé
@cproppe on Twitter and Instagram

PPS... You can SELL YOUR ART + PHOTOS on Instagram!

Oh, and last but not least... if you want to buy one of my photos from Instagram, they are available with "Twenty20" here... just click the link to buy prints, iPhone Cases, Pillows, T-shirts and more.  Have fun!  (I will get about 20% of the price you pay.)  Visit this link to learn how you can make your own Twenty20 account and sell your art and photos too.  Enjoy!

Pierce Point Ranch Barn: Ghosts from the Past

October 22, 2013

The Barn from Nathan Moody on Vimeo.

Delighted to share a wonderful series of video imposed with video effects by an old friend from Maine, Nathan Moody, now residing here in the Bay Area and using his creative and tech skills to create modern magical classics like this one.  I love it!

The location of the video is in Point Reyes National Seashore, and known as "Pierce Point Ranch".  This is the northern most part of Point Reyes, and reached by taking the fork to the right off Sir Francis Drake Blvd, heading North onto Tomales Point Road.  Pierce Point Ranch is out at the end, past Kehoe Beach, and before the long hike out to the tip of Tomales Point.  Pierce Point Ranch was a thriving dairy farm until 1973.

From nps.gov site:

"The Pierce Point Ranch on Tomales Point ceased operations in 1973. Three years later, Congress authorized creation of the wilderness area incorporating that ranch as habitat for the reintroduction of tule elk. Beginning in 1980, NPS invested in the rehabilitation of the ranch core, citing it as the best example of a nineteenth century west Marin dairy ranch. Pierce Point Ranch was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and was subsequently opened to the public as an interpretive site."

Moody is not the only one to use this building for personal expression and art.  Pierce Point Ranch has been painted countless times by local Marin artists and is photographed daily by local photographers and tourists alike.  Some of my favorite paintings of the location include works by Martha Borge, Christin Coy, Richard Lindenberg and Barbara Lawrence.  I have yet to paint the barns at Pierce Point, but I guess I'm due.  Thanks for reminding me, Nathan.

In honor of Halloween, ghosts from our past and all, I will share three freaky and ghostly memories from my past with Nathan et all...

1.  Nathan had a gas mask in his first SF apartment near Clement. This, and his amazing but wild sketchbook drawings used to freak me out, being the polite and sheltered Connecticut gal I was back then.  Today, it is commonplace to see gas masks and surgical masks in art and murals around SF Mission District and the current street art of Eddie Colla, and of course, Banksy.
2.  I am ever so grateful for the many summers I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at country clubs in New England, updating my skills each year.  I pulled Nathan out of a black lake in Maine when I thought he was goofing around, but he really could have drowned.  When I see the amazing work Nathan is doing at Stimulant, and the 10 mile kayak races he is doing around the Bay Area and beyond, I thank God for making me do the right thing in that split second when I pulled Nate out of the water.
3. I haven't had the privilege to actually speak to Nathan since 2000, when I separated from our very good friend.  It is a shame to have lost two incredibly bright, talented male friends that I respected so much back then, and there isn't a day I don't wish both of them well and hope our paths do cross again someday.  Hopefully, we won't all be wearing gas masks or having to pull each other out of the water.

Nathan, you are doing amazing things.  Keep up the good work.

Until we meet again...  Peace.

Send in the Cows... There ought to be cows.

October 18, 2013
12" x 24" oil on canvas.  Burbank Ranch, Tomales.
Finishing this commissioned painting today (please view my previous post to learn more about this commission), I added the tiny cows on the warm mountains behind the ranch houses and modified the lighting to hills on left.  I tried to take a better image of the cows, but not terribly successful:

Detail: Burbank Ranch.

Happy to be finishing on a Friday.

Capturing the Late Summer Light at Stemple Creek

October 17, 2013
In Progress:  Late Summer Light at Stemple Creek 2013

This is day three, working on a 12" x 24" commission for Lisa and Loren Poncia of Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, California.  Lisa Poncia found me on Twitter with my wonderful Marin friends, Peggy Butler @iPeggy and "Sally Around the Bay" @Sally_K .  I had a wonderful day touring the Poncia's properties with them more than a month ago and saw a baby cow born in these honey colored grasses.

Loren is a 4th generation rancher and winner of the 2013 J.W. Jamison Perpetual Trophy at the Sonoma County Fair.  His sustainable practices were more than apparent in the landscape the day I spent with them.  As we drove up into these rolling hills, Loren pointed down to Stemple Creek.  All along his property, he has let the trees and vegetation grow in and around the creek and it is lush and green, even in this dry, late summer weather.  Next door, at a nearby farm, cows were down in the creek and the vegetation had all been cut down.  Removing the vegetation around a creek causes run-off to polute the creeks and letting cattle in the creek too frequently can also cause problems with waste pollution.  It was night and day to see the difference Loren's practices had made in just my one short trip.  His efforts in sustainable ranching are a big reason for his awards this year, and you can tell his entire family really loves what they do.

Lisa is a poetic writer and photographer, and does most of the communications work for Stemple Creek (stemplecreek.com).  She is an avid Twitter and Instagram poster and I love seeing what's happening on the ranch in real time.

The image for this painting of the Burbank Family Ranch, at the end of Burbank Road in Tomales, was captured about 3 minutes before the sun dipped below the hills to the right side of the painting (aka "the west side").  A herd of cattle, about 40 in total, were grazing in the orange light on the rolling hills behind the barns.  I was very happy to capture that moment of peace and special lighting, as I knew it would translate well into a colorful painting.  Stay tuned for the final piece.  Please visit Stemple Creek Ranch online to learn more!

"Ranches + Rolling Hills" Painting in Progress

October 2013
Commission started of a ranch in west marin
What a busy September!  I thought I was going to have time to paint, and ended up working for 3 weeks, assisting local friends with contract production art.  I absolutely loved getting to visit and work with Nutiva (organic superfoods) in Pt. Richmond, California.  They have a great office where they have Yoga and healthy drinks and foods several times a week.  They have a succulent garden and a full veggie garden where many in-house workers harvest their salads for lunch each day.  I really enjoyed meeting their marketing team and assisting with some label mechanicals and fun projects too.  I can't give away company secrets, but it was a nice place to work.

So, I started this first commission of a West Marin Farm.  This is the first day's work.  I am planning to finish it this weekend, however, kids, homework, Halloween and all kinds of excuses seem to be getting in the way.

cproppe.squarespace.com  (new web and mobile shop for my art work)
I even started a new website for myself that will work well on mobile devices, and added an e-commerce "SHOP" feature to the site.  The below page is the EXHIBITS page of the site, where I realized I have shown at more than 21 places around the Bay Area, many of them not even listed... I was thinking I forgot the Civic Center and the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium, and a few more...
All this marketing effort for my own business takes a lot of time.  I can't even imagine what it would be like if I could really "just paint".  That never seems to happen... not yet, at least!


cproppe.squarespace.com  (This is the EXHIBITS page on my new site)

In the Studio Today... Stemple Creek Ranch

September 1, 2013

I am very excited to be starting a painting for the Poncia family of Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales.  Lisa Poncia found me on Twitter, and the Marin group of Twitter folks I chat with have been enjoying Lisa's wonderful photos and blog posts about West Marin and their sustainable farms and animals.




I saw a baby cow bundle in the grass, which Loren went out to inspect and then the mommy headed off with the little guy.  Amazingly, a little cow can walk on it's own almost immediately.  This one was only 10 hours old old, Loren said, and part of the afterbirth was still visible on the mommy cow's hind quarters.

Another young calf also had a white face.  I love the character they each have; it's remarkable.

My son, Blake, loved the lamb with the black spot and the brown legs.  We were calling him "Brownie Chip".

The new guard-dog really loves Loren.
It was super foggy yesterday, but I will go back as many times as I need to to capture the right composition for my painting.  I will probably paint plein air part of the time, and from photos to complete the work.  Stay tuned...

In the Studio Today... Art on Gospel Flat Farm

Wednesday August 28, 2013
My tiny 6" painting on hood of my car where I painted with Art on the Farm

I just updated the blog for the Art on the Farm group, and thought I would share a little more about my most recent paint out.  We had a terrific day out at the Murch Family farm in Bolinas, "Gospel Flat Farm".  This is the iconic, Marin Farm Stand that you see on the entrance to Bolinas, which is open 24 hours and sometimes sells fresh bread.  What an amazing part of Marin, and how lucky we are to have young, dedicated family farmers.

If you haven't been to Bolinas or met Mickey Murch and his family, you need to get out there and share the joy that this family farm provides so many locals and tourists.  At the end of our biggest painting day all season, I went to purchase my produce from the farm stand and Mickey was just placing jars with bouquets of giant zucchini blossoms out on the table.  Mickey told me that he loved getting to take the kids from a local camp out to gather eggs from his farm, and then pick the squash blossoms and return to their mobile kitchen right behind the farm stand, and cook the blossoms and eggs with the kids.  Mickey told the story with such joy and you could sense the pride of ownership and love of teaching kids about his job.

I bought two jars of blossoms and brought them home to stuff with ricotta cheese, fresh basil and bread in egg, flour and fry in olive oil and garlic.  A family recipe from my Italian heritage and grandparents in Connecticut, my meal was memory-laden, gathered locally, connected to art, education and joy, absolutely delicious, and.... priceless.

Click here to view more photos of the paint out and read the blog at Art on the Farm

In the Studio Today... Open-faced, Late Summer Zucchini meets Cow Girl & Brickmaiden

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Late Summer Zucchini Sandwich, originally uploaded by cproppe.
Here is my spontanteous, sandwich contest entry story. (Mezzetta Foods annual "Make that Sandwich" Contest is underway, and entries are due on September 1, 2013 "Labor Day").

Back from Connecticut with the twins, and a day after their orientation to 6th grade, I remembered I'd purchased a Groupon for surfing lessons at Stinson Beach Surf Camps and we raced out there to join Tommy and his band of merry, banana wielding monkeys, ages 6 to 16, in the balmy waters of late summer Pacific Ocean surf.  What a beautiful day it was... but for the fact that Blake, my 50 lb. eleven year old ballet dancer, arrived at the beach with a pounding headache and stomach ache.  I have to give the kid huge credit, as he managed to make it through an afternoon of surfing and stood up on his own several times before he had to let loose the rage within his tummy in a sand bucket.   He was fine afterwards, another amazing miracle of youth; surfing one minute, sick the next, and then singing songs with his brother all the way home on winding roads.  Impressive, right?

Well, this little day trip lead me to create something of a small miracle of my own, although I am not as youthful and bouncy.  Well, maybe bouncy, but not necessarily in a good way.

The open-faced sandwich was a spontaneous, Stinson Beach gourmet and refrigerator concoction that will be repeated soon.  I had picked up a large artisan round loaf of Brickmaiden Breads (Pt. Reyes)whole grain, sourdough bread at the Stinson Grocery, and another round of Cow Girl Creamery's Mt. Tam, soft cheese.  The previous night, I had sauteed several dark green and heirloom zucchini from the garden, with fresh garlic, olive oil, and sea salt.  These were great cold, having been refrigerated overnight.  I had fresh tomato from the garden, and specialty olives on hand.  A 3/4" slice of the fresh, whole grain sourdough with the creamy cheese spread on top, then layered with tomato slices, zucchini coins, and salty olives was really an amazing and quick dinner after a long day at the beach.  Add a glass of red wine, and "Mangia, mangia!"  My Italian Grandmother used to say this at our feast-like, family meals.  An appropriate salute, given that Mezzetta Foods is a 4th Generation, Italian family run company and this sandwich reminded me of the Mezzetta "Make that Sandwich" contest that I have seen on Twitter.  This sandwich could easily be made using several of their products.



Sauté
1/4" fresh Zucchini coins until lightly browned on each side in:
• 2-3 TBS of Mezzetta Olive Oil
• with 1 TBS Mezzetta Crushed Garlic
Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, drain liquid, and refrigerate over night in covered glass pyrex.


Slice
• several 3/4" slices of Brickmaiden Whole Grain Sourdough Bread

Spread
• bread with Cow Girl Creamery, Mt. Tam Cheese

Layer
• thinly sliced, fresh tomato and cold zucchini coins

Top with
• halved, seasoned olives (You may wish to use Mezzetta Pitted Kalamata Olives or Mezzatta Greek Olives, or others of your choice.)


I'm sure it would have been even more yummy with the addition of roasted bell peppers sauteed with the zucchini, but I did not try this yet.  Mezzetta also makes jarred, Roasted Bell Peppers, that would be perfect for my next attempt.


Note***   Sandwich photos coming soon... all ingredients were eaten during the brainstorming and creative process, plus, the kids ate 3/4 of the bread in the car on the way home, leaving me very little materials left for creative photography after I ate the two slices left over!

In the Studio Today... My Old Greenwich Gallery

Thursday August 8, 2013
King's Beach, Lake Tahoe 24" x 36" o/c  1991

Not all of us are lucky enough to reach 45 years with two, healthy and adoring parents that can take their grandkids on a cross-country trip to see all the landmarks in the US.  I am really, really grateful for my incredible parents.  Not only have they supported my sons in their education, but my entire life, they have supported my art.  They have put me in art classes, high school summer abroad program in France with Parsons School of Design, and College with a wonderful art program.  They have been my biggest fans, always.  It's pretty amazing to come home to visit and find more than 12 of my paintings on one floor.  I finally have decided that their home is "My Old Greenwich Gallery".

Beach Still Life, painted at Colby College 1990
Lighthouse, Maine  1992
South of France, 1985
South of France, Limited Palette Gauche, 1985


South of France, forest by a castle, 1985 (Gauche)


Vintage Columbia, Gauche

Gospel Flat Farms, Art on the Farm 2008

Rangely, Maine 1997

Matanzas Creek Vineyard o/c 2010

Art on the Farm Paintings, Bolinas, CA




In the Studio Today... Disability Confidence with Google Glass



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I am delighted to share this amazing video and hope it will help Alex with the funding she needs to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance.  Help keep her going with her life being disability confident.

Please click here to visit Alex's website, and donate to assist with her medical support if you can!

Go, Alex!  Go, Google Glass!

In the Studio Today... Painting, Reading & Writing on the Plane

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013


I'm on a plane and it's been relatively uneventful, for which I feel blessed.  The worst issue thus far has been a very polite flight attendant, with blue-rimmed glasses that matched her scarf, refunding a man in front of me for a movie he'd purchased that would not play because his tv was not working properly.

I've had a lot of quiet time this week, possibly only the second burst of silence since my twins were born 11 years ago, as my parents have taken them on a cross-country "bucket list" of sorts; last photo they sent me by email was my sons, both smiling, in front of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.

I am currently writing this with pen and paper, but earlier, I sketched out an idea on my iPhone using the Brushes App.  I had this idea to paint the feeling of losing my Google Glass in a wave and not being able to finish my projects that I had been so excited about.  Just as I was about to add a photo layer with Brushes that would go behind the layer of my drawing, I realized my App did not have that functionality and the photo of a wave pasted itself down on top of my work.  I couldn't "undo". ( I was able to play back the movie on my phone and grab these tiny little screenshots, pictured above).  However, the play button was still functional and I played back the movie from my first brushstroke to my last, watching my drawing recreate itself again, stroke by stroke, color, then shape, then idea... and then I saw the wave photo plop down on top of my drawing, covering it up completely, ending it all.  It was a complete recreation of the loss of my Google Glass product in a mini-animation.  So serendipitous and fitting.  I gave up finishing the drawing for now, and decided to read a book; an absolute rarity in my life as a busy twin mom with no relatives in California, and with a difficult relationship with my sons' father.

I am reading Anne Lamott's latest book, "Some Assembly Required", which I realize now is a week overdue from the Fairfax Library,  but I desperately wanted to read it on the plane so I stole it away with out even renewing it.  Bad.  I feel badly, and I think about how many times my sons and I return our books in late.  We are like the three stooges of tardiness, bumbling through life, just trying to make it through each day in Marin, in our tiny rental with all of us having our own unique challenges.

I see now I have dog-eared almost every third page because I love something Anne has said so much, I want to save it and let it sink in deeper.  For example, she writes of life being either mostly okay or hard and weird and alternating between the two. (p.40)  I really loved the discussion Anne and her son were having about parenting, when Sam talks about forgiveness and the ability to start over.  (p.57-58)

Sam: "It's so incredibly humbling when someone forgives you- I can't ever believe when people forgive me, because you know how badly you've screwed up , and how you've hurt them, and how hard it is for them to be brave enough to find it in themselves to reexperience the pain you caused, and the humiliation that is in them because of you, and for someone to be willing to refeel that much shit again, reexperience it out of not wanting to lose you, means how deeply precious you are to them.  And that's pure gold."

Sam's remarks immediately made me think of my past, my ex-husband who I can only believe is doing okay with what pain I caused him and his family from a crisis I went through after an affair at age 30.  It involved scandal, anger, rage, silence, counseling, hospital trips for severe depression, and the full gamut of an award winning drama.  I had lost my best friend's trust in a huge way, and hurt him terribly and scared and freaked out all my friends and family.  I had to rebuild myself completely, with out his friendship.

In the dot.com boom, we had been living life large working on children's edutainment software with many good friends in these companies with us.  We loved having huge vegetarian dinners with our friends who were animators, artists, programmers and musicians; parties with lots of people, but it all turned quickly into a silent and bitter place where I had to learn to live with myself.  However, for this horrible time, I am entirely grateful.  This was before cell phones could allow you to go anywhere alone and still be with others.  I overcame the worst fears and learned to eat in restaurants alone, and go to movies alone.  I learned to find roommates.  I had three different women roommates that year.

After quite a productive summer, trying to meet new people and forget my pain, I came to spend a Fall  in that same space, pregnant with twins and completely alone, with just my dog.  I would play clarinet and piano in the house and sing, alone and pregnant, but singing to my unborn babies.  I bought them musical crib toys: a Sunflower Face for Aidan, and it played "You are my sunshine", and a purple monkey for Blake which played the Lullaby Song.  I would pull those strings and listen to the music and fall asleep, thinking only of my sons.

When I became pregnant with twins unexpectedly, I was not even divorced yet.  No one wanted me to go through with it.  Not my parents, their father or my workplace boss.  I was fired from my full-time job and forced to look for work while 3 months pregnant.  Fortunately for me, Marin County helped me survive.  I answered the sign at the church on SFDrake that read, "Are you Pregnant?  Need Help?"... Yes, I actually called many hotlines, police, family law and child welfare.  I have been very, very alone in Marin and yet always had some external grown-up at the end of a phone call to come to the rescue.  I was able to work with a mother of twin boys who let me work for half baby supplies and half cash.  I learned so much from her family, god bless them.  I also was able to work through a law suit over a three year period to get some money from the company that fired me.  Most recently, I have needed help from Marin again, when my sons' father was not addressing his addictions that he'd had since I began living with him.  He decided he wanted to help after all, since these were going to be his sons, and he has helped.  Believe me, I have needed his help to stay afloat and have enough hands to care for two babies, but I have not needed addiction, fear of being hurt, or lying.  We are in a place of change now, where I have made the choice to move on because it will be better for all of us, but it is still a "day to day" journey.  No one is going to hand us money to live in separate homes in Marin.  Our families are retired and on a budget.  They have helped us so much, but I would never expect them to provide in that way.  I am in a place that I want to stay for my sons, but it is extremely challenging to have the jobs and money it takes to live in two separate homes in Marin County.

With all that I am reading from Anne, Sam, Amy and baby Jax, I am constantly reminded of the struggles I have faced too, and that we are all in this crazy place where sometimes you win and sometimes you get something you didn't expect.  I am 45 years old this year (although I still like to pretend I'm 30), and I read Sam's story of becoming a father at 19 as if it was myself, today.  I still don't have the answers for my family.  I don't know what to expect for my sons, nor can I fathom what the world will be like in 5 or 10 years.  I too rely on my wonderful parents who did have jobs that were stable their entire lives and pensions and who want to give their grandchildren an education.  I think the best we can do is try to care for each other across the generations, and realize we are all in this together and nothing is the same as it was 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago.  Practice random acts of kindness and compassion.  Help each other, and don't give up, even if you are hit by an unexpected wave and lose everything.

For Anne, if you ever see this, I recently heard you speak at Ann Brebner's event for Alter Theater.  You talked about how you felt everyone knows everything about you and you don't want to have to do this any more.  It saddened me quite a bit, and I realized today, on the plane, that you really share with your readers of life, love, your passions and loss in such an artful and poetic way.  I laugh, cry (yes, I cried on the plane today), and keep reading, even as the plane is landing.  I thought to myself, if anyone could soothe me now, in this hard time, when I am afraid too, it is Anne Lamott because she is real, and truthful and honest.  She doesn't hide her life and try to pretend it's something it is not.  She takes away an element of fear we all have, and allows us to write about our own lives, no matter how imperfect they may be. Today, she has a wonderful, extended family to share these important messages.  Thank you, new family.  Welcome, and keep up the good work.

In the Studio Today...
2nd Bike Painting inspired by Google Glass


Sunday, August 4, 2013

I have started another painting inspired by Google Glass.  This one is from the day I went out to the Mill Valley Bike Path with my son, and he got to wear Google Glass and record video from his perspective at the Skate Park we discovered. (We actually didn't even know it was there until we were headed home and stumbled upon it!)

I took a photo #throughglass of this cyclist headed towards Sausalito in golden hour lighting... I knew this one would look great as a large painting, and I am working on it now as a 30" x 48" oil on 1.5" canvas.  This is the first session, today.  It is definitely still in progress, but this is what a painting looks like when I've done the first day of blocking out the canvas with color.  Glass was necessary to capture this because I saw the cyclist passing me, turned and was able to press the button on my Google Glass to capture this photo really quickly.  If I'd had to pull out my phone, I never would have capture this image.
Stay tuned for the final version...