The last few days of October are speeding past, and so many exciting things are supposed to happen at the beginning of November. The countdown for the Kickstarter campaign for The Glory Days of Aimée Bonnard is on. It starts on November 1st!
I’m also supposed to get the keys to my new house at the end of this month. Things are changing. And I’m hoping that before the year is out I can perform a powerful cleansing ritual by selling most of my paintings. But maybe not Matilda. I’m not sure I’m ready to part with her yet.
I just had to do a painting of my Escapist Alumni Award with my black Maje dress I wore to the Gala, and I had to do it live on my Facebook show for my Mega Friends (aka the awesome collectors who watch me paint live each and every day) because it’s thanks to them that I not only survived the pandemic without feeling lonely, but actually stayed on track with my business and got an award from my mentors for it!
I don’t know if I explained before, but the award comes with a check for $500. I will use it for a brand new shipment of art supplies so I can create a brand new series once I’m in my new gallery space. It reminds me of preparing for my solo show during the Escapist Mentorship Program!
Also, I really can’t stop watching the YouTube video of the Zoom recording from the Gala. It just makes me so happy! There are little things I didn’t notice before, lots of really sweet things people did, lots of ways to connect from so many places. I still can’t believe we did this! It’s magical, like a seance summoning loved ones near and far and sharing this very special event with everyone.
John keeps telling me I’m like a rat. He says it in a very cute voice and I like it because rats are adorable and this is the Year of the Rat. Today I’m a very happy but tired rat who’s about to curl up with a small dog and sleep. After all the Gala fun and excitement, I also had some very successful gallery visits this afternoon. The Gold Series is practically flying off the walls.
Also, watch the Zoom recording from last night’s ceremony. The first ten minutes are mayhem as we were setting it up, but it’s really lovely after that and for me it was a real treat to watch it today – so many special people and hidden little details.
Today was the big day – the Escapist Graduation Gala, broadcast over Zoom with just a few of us there. And there was a huge surprise in store for me. When Ryan asked me to be in the room when he and John gave the graduating Escapists their medals, I thought it was only because a properly masked person needed to take pictures of the ceremony. I had no idea they were giving me the Escapist Alumni Award. I’m totally blown away!
John made the award in his kiln and it is absolutely beautiful. And yes, I got a check too, which is super sweet as I miss getting Escapist checks like I did when I was in the program.
My Halloween drawing doesn’t really go with my exciting award announcement, but I’m too psyched to draw something right now after the Gala.
Earlier in the day I’d made these creepy collages too, to advertise my books, as the weather was chilly and I was getting into the Halloween spirit.
I will continue all of that soon enough, but first I’ll need to process my excitement over the award.
The Art Launch Gala is tomorrow! The 2020 Escapists are graduating and all of us who have watched their progress couldn’t be more proud of them. The program is really wonderful but it’s very intense even under normal circumstances – think fast pace, steep learning curve, the challenge of overcoming mental blocks, plus actual physical exhaustion from making, transporting, storing, and lightning more art than ever before. And then some! Obviously during the pandemic everything was even more difficult what with the extra layer of anxiety plus the creativity required to deal with social distancing while still having art events. The 2020 Escapists navigated all this beautifully, made wonderful art, had successful solo shows, and are now ready to graduate. I am part of a very small group of people that will be at the gallery in person – with masks on and the proper distance, of course – but their big party is online. You can be part of it too! You can still buy a ticket! Also, check out the amazing auction items!
As for me, although this is not the Gala of the past two years, I’m excited to be there. Some very special dresses arrived in the mail today, and I’m planning to wear one that channels Alaïa.
I also got to go to the gallery today and help with some last minute preparations. Special sponsors will have food and champagne delivered tomorrow night (I get to make two special deliveries myself in my party dress!) for their complete Gala experience. So I helped John fold some boxes. Nancy and Bobby wanted to help but they were kept away from all the excitement. Luckily I still got to see them in the end. I especially wanted to see Bobby, as this is the beginning of Scorpio season and Bobby is a very very sensitive Scorpio dog.
We’re getting really close to the Art Launch 2020 Gala, and here is one big reason why you should consider supporting this fundraiser: All the funds go to a program that teaches artists free of charge how to be successful and independent. This has implications way beyond the art world. And while most of us would agree that art makes the world a better place, there are many more benefits to communities as a whole if individuals learn how to thrive in a business they’re passionate about. These are economically unstable times and our communities need businesses that are resilient. One might not necessarily think of artists as catalysts of economic growth, but given the right business education, artists can not only thrive, but become successful enough to help others. Successful artists channel passion and creativity not just into their art but into their business models. They come up with solutions, create valuable products pretty much out of nothing, pay taxes, rent cool spaces, beautify their communities, hire caterers, accountants, security guards, payroll professionals, and then some, contribute to fundraising efforts for a plethora of charities, and do many other valuable things. So if you are thinking of making a donation to Art Launch, of buying an auction item or a Gala ticket, you’re not just helping them empower artists so that artists can achieve their dreams. You’re helping them teach artists how to be successful business people, how to survive and thrive even in a pandemic.
Four talented people have benefited from such coaching this year. They have, despite all the chaos and uncertainty, prepared comprehensive and stunning solo shows (with masks and social distancing) and a graduation show you can see online. They have done outdoor markets, rented new studios, started new ambitious ventures, completed commissions, and reached out to new collectors. They have not given up but found new ways to make and sell art even under unfavorable circumstances. It’s the attitude we all need right now. If you want more artists to hone their entrepreneurial skills with Art Launch in the years to come, please consider contributing to the 2020 fundraiser. Also, depending on your contribution, you might get a champagne bottle painted by John Ross Palmer and other Escapist artists. These are a collaboration effort as each layer needed to dry before adding more, so basically you get layers and layers of art – something unique and lovely to remember this moment by. Because when this is all over, we will all want to remember the ways in which we overcame the bleakness of this year and did some pretty awesome stuff despite it all.
Look at the pretty labels I painted today for some of the champagne bottles. Don’t you want one?
One of my Mega Friends dropped off some special watercolors for me this morning, and I used them to paint this picture of Galatoire’s, my favorite restaurant in New Orleans. John sent me a picture of Galatoire’s the other day. He’s been thinking about it and painting it too, as we’re getting ready for his birthday trip to New Orleans in January. Obviously the trip will be different because of the pandemic, but we are a small group of cautious and mindful people and we are slowly starting to make our preparations to still go and hope to safely be able to do at least some of the things we like.
Speaking of New Orleans, it’s where the story of Aimée Bonnard starts. As I’m getting closer to publication, I’m starting to get more and more excited about this new book. I’m also excited about the Kickstarter campaign I’m about to launch. Check out my Preview page here and follow it so you can get notified when the actual campaign starts.
Today I went to early vote at Houston Community College, and as I was getting ready to park in order to go inside with my best mask on, I saw the drive-through tents. There were lots of drive-through tents, neatly organized like the plethora of pumps at a Buc-ee’s gas station where nobody ever has to wait. I drove around the block and got in line. It was one of the nicest, most efficient things I’ve ever experienced. The poll worker in my tent had on a really good mask, was super friendly, gave me sanitizer, and after checking my ID put the voting machine inside my car and made sure I knew what to do with its rotary dials and its buttons. Then he sat far from me and let me do my business. Of course he gave me the much coveted sticker at the end, and I proudly displayed it on my steering wheel. It all had a very good feel to it, civicness à la Alexis de Tocqueville mixed with the efficiency of modern-day Harris County. Sometimes I forget what I love about Houston, but it’s this type of thing – easy access to things like drive-through voting, the fact that it’s an open, intelligent, forward-thinking kind of community.
My dog, too, clearly belongs here. A genius of innovation, she has mastered the art of carrying her bed up the stairs. She only does it when we have a masked visitor she’s particularly excited about.
Something else exciting: My prelaunch page on Kickstarter for The Glory Days Of Aimée Bonnard is live! Check it out! I will launch the Kickstarter on November 1st. I’m excited as this is the first time I will try to raise money and build momentum for a book in this way.
I painted this watercolor to remind y’all that as the Holidays approach, I’m here to paint dogs, cats, Christmas trees, beloved humans, homes, or whatever else you might need painted.
In the meantime I’ve been hanging my Gold Series in the gallery for some upcoming gallery visits and they look great! Pictures can’t really do them justice, so let me know if you’d like to make an appointment to come see them!
A few other cool things: I sold Favorite Nightmare, a painting inspired by Storms of Malhado, and I made this little Canva collage to go with it.
And I made this little video of Lindsay Burck, MoNique LeRoux and me dancing at last year’s Art Launch Gala, because this year’s fundraiser is just around the corner. You can buy tickets and preview the fabulous auction items here.
There’s this exercise John asks Escapists to do during the program that consists of making twelve small paintings within an hour. It’s a very freeing exercise as when you paint that fast you can’t think and John says that thinking kills the magic. It’s also a powerful way of getting unstuck and just a good thing to do every now and then. In fact, John suggested I do this in the early days of lockdown back in March when I was freaking out at what was ahead (little did I know, lol). It was a transformative exercise as it allowed me to let go of panic and embrace my creativity, which pulled me through.
Today John asked Lindsay Burck, another Escapist, and a personal friend of mine, to do this exercise. What she came up with was beautiful so it inspired me to to it too, as an extension of my new Gold series.
Also today I drove to League City to hang some art inspired by Storms of Malhado for my #1 reader. Yes, I have a #1 reader, and she’s awesome! She was the very first person to read and review Dogs with Bagels seven years ago, and she’s kept this up for every book I’ve published since.
She bought three watercolors inspired by Suzanne and Betty’s dresses in Storms of Malhado and I also hung a painting for her she had bought earlier this year – Don’t Blame the Goddess. She waited for me wearing her Matilda mask and a limited-edition Houston in the Rain shirt. Which obviously made my day!