Monday, October 24, 2016

Voices of Trees

Last week I stopped by MotherDogStudios, a 22,000 square foot warehouse space, to view a very impressive show that John Runnels has gathered and curated called Voices of Trees. 91 artists' works are on view, I personally have three pieces in the show, so that gives one an idea of the scope of show -- it's huge. The cavernous space lends itself to presenting large pieces well, and the smaller works are carefully curated to not diminish their appeal to the observer, as noted by the five smaller paintings flanking my own "Cottonwood". (above) (That's Andy Dearwater's pear still life to the right of Cottonwood.)

"Glenwood Oak" is another of my paintings in the show, surrounded by cutouts and what appears to be black and white photography. To be honest, I was distracted by the conversation, John Runnels was a thorough tour guide, and spent more time listening to his musings than contemplatively looking at the work.

"Hermann Park Trees - 3" is my final piece in the show. It's a piece that I started in 2009, but recently reworked. It was hanging in our dining room before this show, and seemed to become more nuanced daily. Isn't that what happens when we fall in love with something/someone? Each day, we are more amazed than the day before, and we find new things to accept, embrace, admire?

"Hermann Park Trees - 3" is on the wall beyond this multi tiered tree branch chandelier. Very cool.

These are some works in the front gallery space. Apologies for not remembering or recording the artist's names for the corresponding works. The above photo is NOT upside down. Those bare trees are hanging from the ceiling!

The show is on view now, open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (ish) (or by appointment 713 229 9760)  at 720 Walnut Street in Houston's downtown warehouse district. The Amazing Reese and I plan to be at MotherDogStudios for a couple/few hours during Art Crawl on November 19th, probably late afternoon/early evening. (I'll verify times as the date draws nearer.) In the meantime, I'd be more than happy to meet anyone there to view the show together. Let me know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Failure 101

Recently, I watched two separate talks by two different people on the value of failure. Back in late July, a mere three blog posts ago, I even wrote about several of my failures regarding the building of our little blue house library. I honestly thought that all was well, and that after a rousing successful soft opening of the little blue house library in our front yard, where neighbors came and borrowed books and left books for other neighbors to read, including me, I'm here to say that failures, while they might be character building, don't go hand in hand with building a teeny tiny house.

One rainy morning was all the proof needed to discredit any success of the durability of the little book house. The rain caused several areas of the roof to swell and split, which is really not good. In fact, it's quite bad. So, yesterday, after a journey to the hardware store with the intention of building a new roof, I realized that I needed MORE. More of everything and anything that would help protect the little house from rain.

Another trip to the hardware store yielded a sack full of waterproofing supplies, which, upon exiting the car, the doubled plastic sack ripped and all of the contents of the sack fell into the goopy gutter, and gentle reader, remember, it had just rained the day before.....the can of primer paint burst open, spilling 7/8ths of its contents in said gutter, and splattering everything in its vicinity....all of those new waterproofing products. But wait, there's more.....

One of the products that I got at the hardware store is this liquid plastic stuff in a spray can called flex seal. (As seen on TV, just not by me. It probably would have been wise for me to have seen that "as seen on TV" commercial, but alas, all I did was read the back of the can, which, presumably, should have been enough, but, not in this instance.) Two people had recommended the product, which is why I bought it. As per the instructions on the can, I cleaned all surfaces to be treated, and sprayed the surface that I wanted to coat from 8 to 12 inches away in a side by side motion. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and all the saints -- this is not what I thought it was and isn't doing what I thought it would do.  Some of the product accidentally got on the window of the front door, and the plastic coating is not coming off of it....not with alcohol, not with turpentine, not with salt or baking soda, not with Windex, not with Scrub Daddy....nothing.  And there are flecks of plastic all over the surface of the little house, and the whole thing looks pitiful, is pitiful. Oy vey what have I done? Maybe, hopefully, the library is/will be protected until I can build another roof, but in the meantime, I've made a huge mistake. Like the sign above says, library temporarily closed.   :(

Friday, August 19, 2016

Tiny Blue House

Thanks to an extensive amount of help from our daughter, Anna, a couple of weeks ago, and a copious amount of work since then, our little free library is finally up and running! It hasn't be officially registered with the Little Free Library people, but it will be soon.

This is the beginning of mixing paints to get more or less the right shade of blue.

That yellow square is the future front door, made from a scrap of wood leftover from a dresser mirror.

Front door installed, which is surprisingly difficult -- this took the better part of a morning to finish.
These tiny things are going to be the shutters.

The Amazing Reese is a blur of activity. He dug a starter hole, and then pounded the four by four into the earth. Next, he screwed in the platform for the little blue house.

Installed with books! I'll admit that I got a little verklempt at this point. 
Look how cute those shutters are, with books visible through the windows.

Even though it's been less than 24 hours since it was installed, I've already had several readers stop by to get some books.

In the meantime, take a book, leave a book -- and to that end, the Little Blue House would appreciate  any book donations, especially children's books, but anything really. I'm really looking forward to sharing this with the community. Come on by!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Little Beginnings

The Little Free Library is nearing completion, and to that end, a dear, sweet, kind hearted neighbor has donated a great batch of books to the cause, one of which is a biography on e. e. cummings that I've already started reading. Look for more updates soon!

Friday, July 29, 2016

One Man's Trash

Looking into my neighbor's trash heap a few months ago, I had an eureka moment. The scraps so carefully placed by the side of the curb would be the perfect stuff to build a Little Free Library! The Amazing Reese and Tilly the Wonder dog were with me, and helped me haul it all back home after our run. Well, Reese helped. Tilly was nonplussed. First order of business was to see if any of the scraps were usable. Some were. (Yay!) Then, I had to piece together bits here and there to build walls and re-shingle the roof. A trip to the hardware store yielded Plexiglas for the windows, which Reese graciously re-cut for me because I had measured the space incorrectly where the windows were to be installed. I am not entirely sure how to properly seal these little Plexiglas windows, and for the life of me can't figure out a way to attach a front door, and don't even have a front door because, well, just because I can't figure it out.....for the life of me. The space for the door needs to be at least that big, (see above photo) so that the future librarian (me) can put in the books, and random strangers (and friends) can remove books to take home to read, when the time comes. The books never have to be returned. The idea is that anyone walking past can just grab a book to go. We live near an elementary school, so one of the things I'm most looking forward to is having a kid section, though there will be books for all ages and tastes, fiction and non. The thing is to have variety! Back to the "building it" story, the most recent obstacle, I thought, was making the little house water tight. The fella at the hardware store suggested caulking the cracks with silicone, which is water tight, which I did, but it just so happens that you can't paint over silicone, which, of course, I plan to do, half of the fun has been deciding how to paint it, so guess who gets to sand off all of the silicone that I just spent hours squirting into every nook and cranny? Yep, me.

So, even though I haven't been painting as much as before the great creative mind drought of Sarah Hazel of 2015/2016, I have been hatching other ideas, just not pursuing any of them as fervently as before the brain cloud. And, I'm tentatively happy that this Little Free Library will be finished by the end of the year.....that gives me time to make and hopefully fix a few more mistakes, which, seems to be a regular occurrence these days. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm happy to make the mistakes, because it means that I'm finally doing something.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Who can explain a creative drought? Even as I sit here and try to think of clever words to type, my mind is blank, so perhaps I'm not totally out of this wilderness of unspiration. Artistically, I've been at a complete loss of what to do. That's not normal for me.

So, it was incredibly confirming, when, after not painting for a year, that this painting that was barely dry off the easel, was accepted into the Eighth Annual Juried Exhibition for Archway Gallery! The juror was John Runnels, seen here with me in this photo. The show will be in the gallery until August 3.

 The Amazing Reese was graciously taking photos, an inordinate amount of photos --  this one is my favorite.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Self Portrait at 52 and a Half

After months of inactivity in the studio, I did it -- I spent the afternoon painting. Since starting painting 12-ish years ago, I've never gone this long without painting, or writing. Suffice it to say, it's been a weird stage/place to be. Hopefully, this is the start of a new beginning, a renewed focus, and inspiration to continue toward a pursuit in the arts. This took heart, hands, intellect, and all of the bravery in my soul just squeeze paint on the palette. Phew. What a day!

The subject matter was chosen because it affects no one but me if it's a lousy painting. #selfieportrait

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lucille Two

When the Amazing Reese and I first got married, when we were just baby adults, way back in 1984, our family car was a 1950 Chevrolet panel wagon named Lucille, christened after BB King's famous guitar. I loved her.

Lucille was faithful in spurts. Not withstanding the rusted out floorboard, which we covered with newspapers, she did get us from Colorado to California to Texas, but she preferred cold weather, and she really needed a push to get started, preferably a small hill so that we could give her a few good tries before reaching the bottom of the slope. It's neither cold nor hilly in Houston, so, not too long after we moved to here, we sold her. From that day till this, I've missed her. My one consolation is, as silly as it sounds, that the famous monster truck Grave Digger is actually the reincarnated Lucille.

For almost as long as I've lived in Houston, there has been an Art Car Parade. We've attended many, many parades, volunteered in a few, but what I've wanted for years was have/create an art car of my own. It's been on my bucket list for some time now.

Last week while checking my twitter feed one evening, I saw this:

Looking for a sweet ride to turn into an art car? This could be yours if you get it out of my driveway.

What? Is it really true? Is someone really giving away a car? All these years of wondering if I'd ever actually have an opportunity to create an art car of my own, and this one is falling in my lap? YES! YES! YES!

Arranging for a tow truck felt like planning a surprise party. To add to the fun, the tow truck driver couldn't have been more delighted. All the way home, people would nod or wave to him from the streets and he would honk his horn and wave back. Reese and I were both giggly on the way home, and a little horrified that our "new" car was going to fall off the end of the tow truck bed. (Roads in Houston are a bit bumpy, to say the least.)

We are SO pleased to announce that we are now the proud "almost" owners (still have to sign the papers) of a 1980 Buick stretch limousine, affectionately named Lucille Two, in honor of our 1950 Chevrolet Panel Wagon, and a gentle nod to Lucille Two (Lucille Austero) in Arrested Development.

She's parked in our driveway RIGHT NOW!!!

Lucille Two, being a 1980 vehicle, needs quite a bit of TLC. The Amazing Reese has already started the process of changing/replacing various fluids and we did crank her up for a few minutes, but she's not quite ready for the open road -- not even close. For one thing, she needs new tires.

Then, we need to figure out how to do body work. We're clueless, but ready to learn. Reese thinks with all this work ahead of us that she won't be ready for the 2016 Art Car Parade, but I'm ever hopeful. *fingers crossed*

For more stories and photos, feel free to follow me on instagram, facebook, or twitter. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Portrait of a Homeless Man

This painting first began churning around in the the cavernous spaces of my brain back in 2009. Some paintings are like that -- I think and think about them, sometimes dreaming about how to convey what will go on the canvas without getting overly bogged in details, instead to focus on the big picture and (perhaps) a smaller message, if that makes any sense. For this one, however, it wasn't until last summer that I actually put brush to canvas and started on it. Started is the key word in that last sentence, because it was left VERY unfinished. It languished on the floor of the art studio for the last year collecting dust. It got shuffled around the studio, finally, firmly wedged between a pile of paintings stacked against the wall. Recently, someone reminded me of it, and last week or so, it got put it back on the easel just to see if any inspiration would unclog the enormous mental block experienced every time I glanced at it. This process took several attempts at painting something, then wiping it off, painting something, and wiping it off again. This is about the fourth attempt at the background and thankfully, it was a successful one, if not exhausting. I'm VERY pleased with how the background completes and complements this painting, and brings out the clear green of the eyes. And good grief, it's so much better than the other three attempts.

 Portrait of a Homeless Man -- Louis is 20" x 16", oil on linen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


This is the commissioned portrait I've been working toward completing for the last few weeks. It's done. All I need to do to "finish" it is paint the edges black and sign it. It's a 16" x 20" oil on linen.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

This Present Drought

It's been an inordinately long time since I posted, for reasons not fully understood, even by me. Hence, the silence. My creativity seems to have slipped into a black hole -- a vortex of vagueness and emptiness. Well, maybe not emptiness so much as a deep earthen cavern where one stumbles in the darkness and where the damp coldness chokes any spark of light. It has been excruciatingly difficult to find creativity. Sustaining it has been nigh to impossible. That said, I am working on a commission, a portrait, that is slowly evolving into the likeness of the person, but the work has been long and hard. This struggle is probably a normal part of any creative person's process.....though blessings of creativity in my past have FAR far far exceeded this present drought.

The drought seems to be confined only to the creative aspect of my life. It is all encompassing -- writing, painting, cooking, gardening, playing music -- all has suffered. I can pull an occasional rabbit out of the hat, but mostly, the tricks are old, tired, and exposed.

This isn't a complaint -- honestly -- it's just an attempt at an explanation. Only my creative life has been disrupted -- I'm more stunned than anything, surprised that the normally fertile soil of my brain is such a parched desert of a landscape. Hopefully, just explaining this vacuous mind suck will revive something.....anything to reconnect my normally creative mind and hands to my heart, soul, and spirit. And hopefully, soon, I will find beauty in this desert.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Art Crawl

Next Saturday, November 22, I'll be one of the participating artists in Art Crawl Houston 2014. The Art Crawl itself touts 170 participating artists this year in 21 different locations.  My work will show in the Houston Foundry at 1712 Burnett.The event runs from 10am until 9pm, which is an extremely long day. The Amazing Reese and I are planning on being there from 10-ish until around 4 -- during which time we would love to greet and visit our dear friends and patrons. For the grown ups, there will be a keg of delicious Saint Arnold beer and other light refreshments. There will also be an activity station set up to help keep the younger patrons attentive. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Deconstructed Landscape

This is my retablo for Lawndale Art Center this year. It's called "Deconstructed Landscape" and is 8" x 10" oil on paper on steel.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Sometimes creativity is hard to come by -- like for the last month and a half. That's how long it's been since I painted anything. This painting has been on the back burner for a while and certainly isn't finished. It will likely be Monday or Tuesday before I can work on it again, which is just fine with me -- it will give me time to figure out how to paint the background. That looks like it's going to be complicated. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Portrait of Reese

This portrait came about because Reese came home from work early enough to pose for me while the light was still good in the studio. The easel and palette were ready because I had already started another painting. It was in early enough stages that it didn't really matter if work continued on it that day. I sure didn't want to pass up the opportunity to paint a live model and especially Reese - I've been thinking about it for quite a while,  but we seem to always have other priorities when it comes down to finding the time. 
Reese was uncomfortable in the chair in the studio, so he brought in a chair from our bedroom and got nice and comfy. Sitting in a chair for a couple of hours without falling asleep was a real challenge for him, especially since he had had such a big night at work the day before. His face is normally very expressive which isn't conducive for live model sittings -- he did wiggle a bit and change his position slightly throughout the process -- but that's to be expected with any live model and all in all, he was awesome. We entertained ourselves by listening to a few podcasts of This American Life.

This painting is a 16" x 20" oil on canvas. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014


Staring at a blank canvas. Don't know what to paint. No idea at all. This is the third day I've stared at this canvas.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

In Good Company

The opening reception for the Visual Arts Alliance Open Exhibition was absolutely wonderful. The show is beautifully curated in a super groovy space, the mezzanine lobby of a big office building in downtown Houston. (Three Allen Center, 333 Clay Street). 

The entire show is strong, with artists from seven states represented in it. 587 artworks were submitted and only 58 pieces were selected, so I'm very pleased to have had "Tree at Menil Collection" chosen from such a large pool of entries.

It was fun to see guests and other artists study my piece.

More people attended than I had expected, especially considering that the opening was on Friday night of Memorial holiday weekend. The show is on view until July 11th, so, especially for those who work downtown, swing by the show. It's well worth the effort.

There was an awesome coolness to the venue -- the natural light, the wide lobby, plenty of space to see everything, yet it still felt intimate.

As ever, the Amazing Reese was my most excellent strong man husband and supporter. These type of events are far from his favorite activity, but to his everlasting credit, that's a real genuine smile on his face.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Visual Arts Alliance Open Juried Exhibition

Just a reminder for those who would like to join the Amazing Reese and me -- the opening reception for Visual Arts Alliance Open Juried Exhibition is May 25th from 6-8pm on the mezzanine lobby of Three Allen Center, 333 Clay Street, Houston, Texas 77002. This painting, Tree at Menil Collection, will be on view until July 11th.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In Hermann Park

Hermann Park trees between the trail and golf course -- 24" x 30" oil on canvas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Selected Work

I'm very happy to announce that this painting, Tree at Menil Collection, was selected by juror, Clint Willour, for Visual Arts Alliance 31st Juried Open Exhibition. The congratulatory notification said that out of 587 artworks entered by 152 artists, the juror chose 37% of works submitted by 29% of the artists submitting. (Somebody had fun with math coming up with those statistics.) 

Please join me and the other artists whose work was selected at the opening reception next month, on May 25th, from 6-8pm in the lobby of Three Allen Center in downtown Houston.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Backyard Amaryllis

Sometimes, it's such a struggle to find time for working in the studio. The last few weeks have been quite full of everything and anything except for painting. Thankfully, today it finally happened. I painted. Hallelujah.

This painting is 12" x 15" oil on board.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Spring, glorious spring - this is oil on wood, 12" x 14".

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Camellia on Wood

This is a 12" x 14" oil on wood that I actually painted last week. The flowers are from the camellia bush that came with the house when we bought it 16 years ago. It is growing in a very unlikely location - I often wonder how it survives year after year, though to my delight, it does. This is the latest it has ever bloomed - must have something to do with our unusually cold and prolonged winter.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

El Mariachi

Going through some old stuff recently, and I remembered that I've been meaning to paint this for a long time.....several years. This is 12" x 15" oil on board.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Anna's Birthday, aka Valentine's Day

The Amazing Reese and I had a simple Valentine's day, yes, full of love and contentment, but simple. We happily rented a redbox movie, Austenland -- very cute, and surprisingly enough, got McDonald's to go. I can't remember the last time we had McDonald's. I'm pretty sure it was years ago when we were on the hunt  for the teeny beanie baby surprise in McDonald's happy meals. With four young daughters, we had a lot of happy meals in a relatively short amount of time, and I think we just sort of burned out on McD's. Last night, Reese and I were both so hungry that we scarfed down our burgers, after which we reasoned that if we were both that hungry that it took us 2 1/2 minutes to eat, then we didn't deserve to eat at a fancy restaurant for Valentine's day. Last year, we went to Brennan's -- my absolute favorite restaurant of all time -- and had lousy service. Brennan's is still my favorite restaurant, and we've gone there in the past for lunch on Valentine's day with great success, it's just that they were much too busy last year during dinner service to pay us any attention. So, I guess in typical over compensating fashion, we went in the complete opposite direction this year. It worked just fine for us, plus the burgers and fries paired really well with a nice bottle of red wine. Long, rambling story, but there it is.