Hurricane Preparedness Staples

Since hurricane season is upon us and I firmly believe that over-preparing reduces the likelihood of a serious storm actually hitting us – I mean any self-respecting storm would rather come when we’re unprepared, right? – I’ve started stocking up on some of my favorite staples. Garbanzo beans are high up on my list. Instant coffee is gross, but might be a necessity. But how about a fun book to read? One about storms! Just to keep it in line with all your favorite hurricane staples, I’ve reduced the price of Storms of Malhado to .99 for the whole month of June! That’s the price of a can of beans! But you’ll hopefully enjoy it a lot more.

Also, in case you’ve missed it, here’s another rave review from the blog tour!

Alex Goes on an Adventure

Do y’all remember Alexander Ross, the little carousel horse that belonged to my mentor and that I’m totally obsessed with? Well, he has a new home! My mentor sold him – yes, sold him! – to two of his top collectors, who also happen to be my top collectors. I got to be there tonight for a very small and exclusive socially distant event, and I got to see Alex go home with two of my favorite people. He seemed very happy. I think he was ready for a new adventure and he’ll enjoy being in their beautiful home, which is full of art – a lot of it mine!

Speaking of adventures, I had a really fun day too. It was great to be back at my mentors’ in a social setting, around beautiful art and the two English Pointers I’ve missed so much, talking and laughing with people just like old times. Today I’ve started to feel hopeful that even with social distancing we might actually be able to have a fun summer.

Protection

Today I did a watercolor of Mary Star of the Sea, back to watching over us from the top of the Basilica in Galveston, and not a moment too soon. There’s a storm in the Gulf possibly coming our way, as if we needed one more thing to deal with. But let’s hope it spares us. I bought garbanzo beans, tuna, and cans of evaporated milk just in case. My sweet Instacart person brought them. She also got me radishes instead of beets, but you can’t sweat the small stuff, not with all the loss and sorrow in this world. Radishes are good. Radishes are my friends. And if the storm does spare us, maybe I’ll go to Galveston next week to see Mary in person.

Blackout Tuesday

Today was a day where people in the music industry decided they would be quiet in support of Black Lives Matter and many other individuals followed suit. Although opinions about this trend were mixed – some pointed out that silence tends to enable oppression – it felt like a touching show of solidarity, support, and mourning for so many lives lost unfairly. Since I deeply felt the mourning, I decided to create a painting. It’s abstract and it’s black to symbolize grief, but also has some gold woven in to stand for hope. Because I do believe that enough people care and that we can all work together to create a society where nobody is discriminated against for the color of their skin.

I was very proud of Houston today for organizing and carrying out a peace march in which 60,000 people walked from Discovery Green to City Hall and back together with George Floyd’s family. I stayed home and listened live to the inspiring speeches, and shared in the sadness but also in the beautiful spirit of our diverse city – the most diverse city in the US! The way this city embraces and celebrates its diversity has always been my absolute favorite thing about it. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but it is a great city with nice people, and people who get along and who socialize with one another across racial lines. I’ve lived in many places where this doesn’t happen, big cities and small communities alike.

So I am very sad, but I’m hopeful. There is a lot of love and compassion in the world and people who want meaningful change.

And while it seems irrelevant to talk about my own pursuits at times like this, I’m thankful that I do have so many outlets to express myself and so many wonderful people who one way or another partake of what I put out there. Today I met a wonderful new collector who has been reading my blog for years – and even read some of my books. That made me incredibly happy, because I felt like in my own way I can spread a little bit of love in this crazy world. Also, Storms of Malhado was featured a few days ago on this blog about Mystery books run by another reader who enjoyed it. Again, this all is reason for hope, because a world full of readers is an empathetic world. And in that vein, here are some of my favorite books of fiction by Black authors:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (but, really, read all her books)

Mama by Terry McMillan (but, really, read all her books)

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Loving Day by Mat Johnson

God Don’t Like Ugly (series) by Mary Monroe

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Sad

Today I painted a gold pen. I was going to do something more serious and more meaningful but the pen was right in front of me and painting is my meditation. I am sad. I don’t have words to express what I wish to express but I am still hoping we can build a better, more just society.

Time Is a Carousel

“Time is a carousel,” my friend texted. We were talking about how it seems like the 1960s have come back. We have people protesting for Civil Rights, police brutality, social unrest. “Time is a carousel,” she said. “It all comes back around.” I looked at Matilda on my wall and wondered if perhaps my carousel horse paintings could take on a deeper meaning. Also, if the issues of the 1960s are circling back around, let’s hope it’s a chance to set things right, because in that decade of unrest, growing pains, and progress, we did leave so much undone. I found an article about the integration of the Glen Echo Park, which included a picture from the 1960s of Black children finally getting to ride the carousel. I decided to use it as inspiration for today’s painting – to depict one kid in color, with a face mask, a Black Lives Matter sign and quarantine hair, the other in black and white enjoying cotton candy and a ride on a newly integrated carousel.

I can’t even begin to express my sadness over how, so many decades later systemic racism has not been eradicated. We have to all speak up against it. I am particularly sad over the murder of George Floyd and so many other innocent people. I’m hoping that this time around there will be meaningful change. I believe we can create a just society with real equality for all.

Woman on Horse

Today my top collectors came by (with their masks on, of course!) to bring me grilled octopus and pick up their purple cauliflower watercolor. Then they spontaneously bought a large painting from my Arabesque series, a painting I really love, which was hanging right next to Matilda in my writing room upstairs. I’ll show you tomorrow what I replaced it with.

Then John texted me a picture of a woman on a horse, and while I was painting over Facebook Live, a mystery shopper bought it! It’s the first time a painting actually sells while I’m live. It was very exciting, especially since John kept asking who the mystery collector was and I wouldn’t tell him. His last comment on my Facebook Live video was “mean girl,” because that’s how we like to joke around and tease each other.

Of course, in my colorful little bubble of art and writing and fun friends who watch me do watercolors live and joke with me and bring me scrumptious treats, things are happy and lovely. And for that I am grateful. I have a great support group and wonderful ways to escape right now. But outside terrible, sad, heartbreaking things are happening and I am aware of these things. It’s like the 1960s are back – with an added plague. I don’t have words to write about all the sad things, but I do hope that through all the heartache and turmoil we are all transforming like butterflies and that our society will progress to a more just, wiser, and more empathetic one.

Feel Your Feelings

Sometimes I need to make a big abstract painting so that I can fully feel my feelings and process them. Luckily today I had a large canvas handy. After weeks of completing small watercolors, it felt great to go big! This energy was just what I needed! I hung the painting in the gallery and it feels very alive. It’s 30×48 inches and I decided to call it Feel Your Feelings.

Olive Oil

Today I painted a bottle of olive oil because it’s one of my favorite things, so why not? My friend texted me from the Island to tell me Mary’s finally back on top of the Basilica. She even sent a picture. Hopefully this means we will all be ok.

Meanwhile, here in Houston, I spent the day mostly writing and taking walks with my dog. The sunset was very beautiful. Then sky was practically purple. I guess summer is here, and despite everything it’s a beautiful season.

Guineafowl

In which my friends and I go to the Heights – with masks on – to scope out something we were curious about and encounter a flock of Guineafowl walking casually down the street. Of course I had to look up the meaning of these birds, but the message is somewhat mixed. What’s important is that it was magical seeing them. When’s the last time you saw a Guineafowl? When I was little my uncle told me their eggs are very nutritious. I’m not sure if I ever had one though.