The Great Escape Artist

I’m very inspired by the story of the octopus who escaped from a New Zealand aquarium and squeezed its large body through a drain pipe making its way to the ocean. Perhaps there’s hope for all of us, and y’all know there are few things I like better than thoughts of escaping. Pandemics and the ensuing travel restrictions are not very good for that, but this is bound to end eventually.

Meanwhile today I took a few more steps towards making The Glory Days of Aimée Bonnard a reality. I shared it with my historical expert (who is delightfully ruthless) and with two of my favorite beta readers. I also approached my #1 reader, who reads all my books and is always the first to review them, and who specifically asked me to write a story about a Galveston prostitute, to be a beta reader and she said yes! So tomorrow I will email her the manuscript. I’m nervous but excited – more excited than nervous actually.

And there’s a new review for The Adventures of Miss Vulpe from a reader who found Ana likeable and funny.

Wedding Portrait

Today I was commissioned to paint a wedding portrait via Facebook Live for one of my favorite collectors, Lauren Waddell, who has supported me and brought only sunshine into my life since I met her two years ago during the Escapist Mentorship Program. Tomorrow is her 10-year wedding anniversary with her husband John, and she is giving him this portrait among other gifts. I hope he likes it! Their wedding took place in Cape Cod, and in the picture she sent me they looked very very happy, which is what I tried to capture.

Meanwhile, here at the Sandovici Gallery, progress is being made on all fronts: The video for the Beach Revue (which is cute and funny as can be) has been successfully sent off to the Galveston Historical Foundation, the third draft of The Glory Days of Aimée Bonnard is on its way to two beta readers, and the dog and I are having fun living with the giant painting of the angry sea on our wall. Also, another one of my favorite collectors, who owns watercolors dating back to the start of the blog, which she found at Tangerine back when they were on display there, has received her paperback of Storms of Malhado and started reading it tonight. I’m so excited!

The Angry Sea – Painting and Video

I’m the first to admit my ideas are sometimes crazy. Painting a giant canvas while being filmed in costume on the hottest day of summer might qualify as one such crazy idea, but it was great fun! Bogdan, who came to film me (check out his other work at Buburuza Productions) was excellent at directing me on how to be dramatic (the video is supposed to be silent, so I needed to be very expressive to make up for it), and throughout the filming we laughed a lot. I can’t wait to see the final product!

I was worried about social distancing – but it was a one-on-one interaction in a large, well-ventilated room, more than 6 feet apart from each other, and we’ve both been staying away from others. And I’ll continue to do so, especially since, even with an interaction I trust to be safe, afterwards I feel like it’s responsible to quarantine for two weeks just in case. Matilda might have gotten a bit close to her new friend, but carousel horses are immune to the virus.

Preparations

Today the outpouring of support for my Beach Revue video continued! I’m so lucky to have such awesome collectors and readers! I not only met, but exceeded my goal. And, motivated by all the support, I started preparing for tomorrow’s filming session. A brand new canvas waits on the wall, but other preparations were necessary as well. In 1900, Suzanne would not paint looking at a picture of the stormy sea on her iPhone. She would not mix paints on a makeshift pallet that used to be a takeout container. She would not dip her brushes in a plastic receptacle that used to hold wonton soup. So I decided to paint a small watercolor study of the stormy scene I’m looking to capture on the large canvas. I can use it for reference tomorrow au lieu of the phone. I also found a real pallet, a glass jar for the brushes. But through it all, the most important thing is my enthusiasm for this project. I can’t wait to film the video tomorrow!

In It to Win It!

Can a sweltering summer in a pandemic hotspot still hold a lot of magic? Yes, it can. And on that note, let’s take a moment to be grateful this is 2020, not 1918 when women had to wear corsets in addition to masks! Talk about not being able to breathe… And, since we’re talking about what women used to wear in bygone eras, let me remind you of something magical coming up, something that can still be fun despite the pandemic: I’m a contestant in this year’s Galveston Island Beach Review – a hundred-year-old vintage swimsuit pageant in which I will participate via video wearing my 1900 bathing dress, complete with pantaloons, but mercifully sans corset (because beachwear even back then was more forgiving). The contest has moved online and you can watch it live on August 1st from 2-4pm at Beachreview.com

You can also support me in a major way by buying into today’s Crazy Good Deal! You can now purchase art credits with the Sandovici Gallery, which are half off. And I promise to double your art credits if I win any of six prizes offered by the Historical Foundation! So if I win, you win!

I already raised some money this way and two of my favorite collectors are hopefully going to see their credits double! I’m practically on top of the world to have such support and also feeling empowered because I realize I’ve learned from my mentors how to raise money for projects I wish to invest in. In this case, the money I raise will go towards making a professional video to submit to the contest with the help of Buburuza Productions. They also helped me with my vintage photoshoot and the cover of Storms of Malhado among other things.

But I was telling you about magic and how it can sometimes happen at the most unlikely times in the most unlikely places. I was walking the dog this evening. Even after dark, it felt like being in a sauna. The dog got fixated on eating some kind of dry worms on the sidewalk. (This is not the magical part). I got so frustrated with her stubborn ways, I decided to pick her up and carry her for a while. So here I was carrying 20 pounds of dog on a hot summer night, and the dog’s belly against my arm felt like an oven. Still, insects were buzzing in the trees and the heat even felt so surreal it was kind of fun. I advanced past the dried worms and put the dog down. And that’s when we saw an animal come out of the bushes and bounce across the street. It stopped and looked at us. The dog hyperventilated with excitement. It was too far to see the animal well. I would have thought it was a possum, but it was too round, too bouncy, and there was a little glimmer on its back as if it were shiny and hard, not covered in fur. I stood in awe next to my hyperventilating dog realizing I had just had yet another rare sighting of my favorite Texas critter, the armadillo! I think they’re magical, and lucky, and the serendipity of spotting one in my very urban neighborhood seems like a sign from nature or the dearly departed that maybe everything will be all right after all.

Midnight in Paris

Sneak peek at one of my auction pieces for my upcoming Bastille Day auction. This one does different things in different kinds of light because of the metallic paint I used. Also, this is just a small section of it, as I’m not sharing the whole image until these are ready to be unveiled to my top collectors.

It makes me want to paint more urban night scenes, city lights, taillights of cars, that type of stuff.

Today we had the Zoom Party for Sky Club Elite and it was a lot of fun. Not everyone was able to attend, but for those of us who made it it was good to catch up and to laugh together. Despite staying home it’s been a very full week.

Oyster Love

Today I painted an oyster. I miss these slimy guys. But it’s neither oyster season, nor tempting to go out there with the rising number of cases. Painting the oyster, of course, was immensely satisfying. So are the two new reviews I got for Storms of Malhado. Nothing like reviews to make my day!

I think I broke some new ground in my editing of The Glory Days of Aimée Bonnard as well. I managed to transform a chapter that was a bit clumsy into something I quite like.

I think a lot of Aimée these days, as I contemplate the wealth of time before me and my freedom to do with it as I please. It occurred to me that although her story is so different from mine, she’s a character I’ve created as a metaphor for the ways in which I always wanted to free myself, to have full reign of my time, and no oppressive entity or unwanted activity stealing it from me.

Fiona

Today I got to paint Fiona. She was my friend Dr. Susan Catlett’s horse for 13 years, but now she has new owners who also love her and keep her well taken care of and happy. At my friend’s house I’ve seen some amazing art featuring Fiona the horse, including a portrait painted by John as part of his Jane & Friends pet portrait series, so naturally I’m totally psyched that my little watercolor will join this collection. We had a lot of fun too with the live painting and chatting throughout the show.

A muse not only to the visual arts, Fiona inspired the name of one of the two horses that end up playing an important role in Storms of Malhado. Having learned more about her today (she’s a Leo!) I think the Fiona in the book shares more than her name. In fact, I feel like looking up that section of the book now.

I also have been secretly working away at my Paris series. And if you check out my online store, you will find a brand new Crazy Good Deal!

Teaser

Today’s painting is still in progress. It’s just a little teaser for my upcoming Paris Series. These paintings will be unveiled shortly after Bastille Day during a virtual soirée for my top collectors. With encouragement and help from my amazing friend who works with Zoom all the time, and with inspiration from my mentors who hosted a really fun and very successful art auction via Zoom on the 4th of July, I decided that I need to attempt this. If you’ve bought art from me lately, you will be invited. And if you haven’t but want in, go look at my online store and see what Crazy Good Deal you can snatch up!

The Paris paintings will be fun, fresh, très chic, and for now, my progress on them will be a well-guarded secret.

Meanwhile, there are some very special projects in store for the online show. I’m very excited about tomorrow, because tomorrow I get to paint a beautiful horse called Fiona. You might want to make time to watch me paint her at 5:45pm CST if you can.

Jack Russell Puppies

I’ve always loved Jack Russell Terriers, and even the episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte adopts a very spirited on that almost destroys her apartment didn’t change my mind. They are so adorable! Besides, what’s wrong with having a strong personality? I might have been a Jack Russell myself in a different life.

Anyway, today John sent me a picture of his great grandfather holding two Jack Russell puppies and I thought it was the cutest thing ever and I had to paint it! It’s true that I didn’t know from the beginning what breed the puppies were, but luckily one of our most VIP collectors has Jack Russell Terriers and was able to enlighten us.

Anyway, this was so much fun! I’m really grateful for the fabulous community around my Facebook Live videos. They make me happy every single day! Who would have thought it would be possible to have such fun in the middle of these strange and anxiety-ridden times?

Also, today’s Crazy Good Deal is totally amazing! Y’all don’t want to miss this one!