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Grackles and Hellebores

Today cat lady and I went to see the hellebores at Buchanan’s nursery in the Heights. They were beautiful! But I resisted buying them. I also resisted going through with the purchase of the lovely house in Galveston. It has so many issues, that each time I thought of it I felt overwhelmed. And I’ve got many other things to be overwhelmed by. The mentorship program has barely started but it’s already intense and amazing and I find myself wanting to spend more time in my studio at the Chrysalis, and especially more time with my mentor. The mentorship only lasts until October and I feel like that will probably come too fast. I have so much to learn and so much art to make! So yes, if the perfect Galveston house turns up and it requires little work, I will be open. But I might actually allow myself not to search all that intently for now. After all, my life is already bursting at the seams, and I need space to breathe and enjoy, space to actually be present and in the moment.

Walking away from the beautiful house feels a bit like a breakup. I even dedicated one of my favorite boleros to it. But in the end, if the foundation is not solid, it doesn’t matter how many charming features one falls in love with, does it?

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Happy Year of the Dog!

Remember how I said a while ago that the year of the dog would be good for business? Well, it is! The First Saturday Arts Market was fabulous today! I met some very nice people! The paintings my mentor, John Ross Palmer, had me make were a great success! And guess what? He even came by to see me and bought dog poetry! I felt so supported! Cat lady came too wearing the most amazing cat-print leggings (I swear, I don’t know where she finds these things!), and she hung around for a while and we laughed a lot! I wore my new favorite Natalie Martin dress that I bought yesterday at Tangerine Boutique and it felt comfortable and sexy and flowy and I sort of matched my new paintings and felt on top of the world!

So yeah, happy year of the dog! I feel like it’s gonna be a good one! And no, I’ve not yet decided about the house, but that’s ok.

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The Capricorn in the Attic

Today brought many challenges, some more fun than others: John Palmer, my mentor, challenged me to paint twelve small paintings very fast (in under an hour!) and bring them to First Saturday Arts Market tomorrow. The old lady on Galveston Island meanwhile did everything she could to test my love and devotion. See, today I met with the inspector. He was a Capricorn, therefore overwhelming, but charming and funny. He made me climb up to the attic. It was scary! Then he made me walk under the house, which was scarier still. Then he told me my house has plumbing, electrical, gas, and siding issues. And then some. I told him he was a goat with a fish tail. He said he’d never heard that before but in the end he declared it was true, and that a Capricorn always goes where the fish tail steers him.

I walked out of there wishing I had a fish tail of my own. Because I didn’t know anymore where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I was ready to bail on the old house and yet her beauty is hard to let go of. So for now I just went to my happy place: Tangerine Boutique. There I bought two red dresses and a little black top. Afterwards I walked on a very foggy beach. It was sorta surreal. You couldn’t see the Pleasure Pier with its roller coaster through the fog, but you could hear people screaming. I thought it was a good metaphor for what was going on inside my mind. So I drove back to Houston and painted 12 little paintings really fast. Tomorrow I might wear one of the red dresses to market. As to the lovely house… Je ne sais pas! I think I need a good sleep and then to talk to my cousin, another Capricorn, who’s all about real estate ventures! And whose fish tail has so far never steered him wrong.

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Let It Flow

Tonight was the first event at John Ross Palmer Studio and Gallery that we Escapists attended, also our first occasion to show the work hanging in our studios to collectors. It was a lot of fun! Again, there was an abundance of positive energy, and two of its sources were definitely my fellow Escapists, AVM Hawkins and Paula Hawkins. I love these two ladies! They both have a special light! I think we are a wonderful match for each other too, we feed off each other’s good energy and we enjoy talking to each other.

Tonight AVM suggested something really cool: She said that it’s fun, especially on days when one is tired, to let a piece of art absorb the day’s intensity, to simply paint or draw and let the piece go wherever it wants it to go, to let it evolve freely. Not sure I’m doing a good job expressing what she said, but it’s the kind of freedom I rarely allow myself (I just don’t know how). Tonight I gave it a shot and made the thing above. It was fun. And now I’m going night-night with my dog. Tomorrow I have a meeting with John and then am driving to the Island to have my old lady get inspected. I’m hoping she’ll get a fairly decent health report. Also, I feel like I’m totally having the time of my life. I’ll keep y’all posted!

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She Said Yes

This Valentine’s Day, on a warm but foggy morning, I decided to offer a sizable chunk of my heart to a beautiful old lady – the Galveston house with the tall ceilings and the lovely chandelier. I wasn’t sure if she would have me, but I put my best offer out there, then sat down to paint her. I figured visualization would help. You gotta manifest the things you want.

Later, after sending pay stubs and other boring things to the lender, I picked up my friend, a bona fide poet, and we drove to the beach. The fog got thicker, clouding everything in mystery and wonder. The waves crashed ashore and our hair got salty and wet. We were both in a good mood, both happy to be actively working at improving our lives and fulfilling our dreams. It felt good to remember our previous trip to the beach, in the fall, when we were both down and feeling stuck. It was empowering to realize we’ve both set things in motion in powerful ways, that we’re both now in a time of flux.

The text from my realtor came during a fabulous oyster dinner at one of my favorite restaurants overlooking the ship channel. My house said yes! And just like that, there’s an elegant new presence in my life. I promise to take good care of her, and I just know she’ll love me right back!

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Betty’s Story

I haven’t forgotten about the story I’m writing, the Galveston ghost story, with its 1961 bit. Today I got to thinking about the main character, Betty. I want to make yet another collage with Betty in it, sitting on the moon, of course, smoking and talking to Cornelius. Poor Betty! She’s got some real issues!

Today some of the other elements of that collage came to me. Take a look!

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It’s true that a happy life is best lived in the present, but sometimes it’s nice to include and celebrate colorful tidbits of the past as well. Remember my Barcelona paintings? The very first ones, the old ones from my art show at the Beaumont Art League four years ago? I decided to take them to my new studio at the Chrysalis and hang them in anticipation of Thursday night’s art event where we, the Escapists, will be introduced to collectors. And guess what? John Palmer really loved them! He even suggested I make more and work bigger!

It was great to bring these pieces of my past in there. After all, it’s Barcelona that led me to John Palmer in the first place. The collector’s party I crashed in the summer, which made me want to apply for the mentorship, it was advertised on Facebook with a painting of the Sagrada Familia, and that’s what attracted me to it.

Anyway, I probably can’t properly express it, but I feel that things are coming together in magical ways. I also feel that things I’ve treasured for a long time, but kept stashed away because there was no audience there to appreciate them, such as my Barcelona paintings, are finally getting their moment to shine. They look so good in the studio and it makes me so happy to see them properly showcased!

Also, today is the two-year anniversary of Lost Path to Solitude, my third novel, which I dedicated to my friend Callie, and to a NYC cab driver I’d since forgotten about. Serendipity had it that I had to drive back to Solitude today, and that I already had dinner plans with Callie. It not only took the sting out of returning here, it also gave us a chance to celebrate the book. She even brought it with her to dinner!

As to my daily painting, today it’s a drawing of seagulls. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes when I drive all the way back to Solitude and have to spend the night here, ripping myself out of a life in Houston that is becoming more and more contoured, colorful, and in line with my hopes and dreams, it’s hard to come up with something to draw.

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And finally, I’m ready to share with the world at large my very first Escapist painting! Should you love it and want to purchase it, please let me know ( It is 18”x24” acrylic and acrylic collage on wood panel, and costs $432.

This painting is called Transformation and is inspired by the beginning of the Escapist Mentorship Program, which coincided with the full moon in Leo, marking renewal and joy, and with the ancestral Festival of Lights (Imbolc) celebrating the beginning of spring. I painted a green heart blooming into hellebores, late winter flowers, messengers of nature coming back to life. The coyote also symbolizes transformation and optimism, as coyotes as totem animals are shape shifters and playful tricksters that reveal truth and guide us. I chose a bold pink background in order to acknowledge that all Escapists this year are women.

We were given a challenge to create a painting in our studios and sell it by February 14th. I’m learning something new every day as part of this program, and it’s quite exciting! I’m also painting a lot, and there are other works available for sale as well.

Big Fish, acrylic on paper, $70

The Client Is Not In a Hurry (Sagrada Familia, acrylic on paper, $70)

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Don’t Fear Your Fears

Today was easily one of the best days of my life so far. It was the day of the Escapist Retreat. We got to tour a beautiful home full of amazing art (mostly by John Ross Palmer and various Escapists), got to meet a group of art collectors who gave us advice, and also a group of Escapists from previous cohorts who generously shared their experiences with us. The energy and sense of possibility were amazing! I found myself overwhelmed, in a totally great way, but overwhelmed no less! It’s been days now that the magnitude of the transformative power of this Escapist year has become clear to me. It made me dizzy, as if walking on air. I know a thing or two about transformations, you see. I’ve shed my skin once or twice, danced with flames, rose from ashes, that type of stuff. There are people who are the equivalent of a hurricane in your life. That is not a bad thing. They might bring intensity that is unbearable but they will help you grow new wings. So yes, I’ve had my share of metamorphoses. They’re thrilling, exciting, exhilarating, but they are in some ways goodbyes. You leave parts of yourself behind to embrace new ones. You’ll never be the same and that is scary. But scary is also not a bad thing, not when it’s part of taking a leap, putting yourself out there, opening up to the things you want.

A lot of inspiring things were said to me today and I did my best to write them down. One of them was “Don’t fear your fears.” I like that one a lot. Especially since any true Taurus girl is a chronic overthinker, and all Romanians I know are plagued with worry and anxiety. Fear, I guess, was written in the stars for me and packed lovingly into my cultural baggage. I have suitcases full of fears! I try not to overfeed them, but that’s hard when the poor hungry darlings cry at night. I might as well befriend these beasts if I’m to live with them, right? Perhaps if I learn how to tune in, my fears can even guide me.

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Old Houses

All day my mind has been on the beautiful old Galveston house I fell in love with yesterday. I had no recourse but to paint the chandelier. This only distracted me so much: I envisioned throwing parties in the space, selling art to raise money for renovations, and other scenarios that are probably as far-fetched as they are delightful.

I decided to take refuge from all these fantasies in my Escapist studio. I thought that was fitting. Sometimes you need to delve into your inner world in order to escape your inner world.

Yesterday my mentor, John Palmer, suggested I paint at least twelve images of cities I love to include in my solo show this summer (July 27th! Mark your calendars!). I decided to start with Bucharest. I got my inspiration from a picture posted on Instagram by photographer Alberto Grosescu of one of my favorite houses.

By the end of the day I had still not decided what I want to do, but at least I’d produced two watercolors I like.

Chandelier $70

House in Bucharest $90

(It remains to be seen if proceeds from either of these will go towards restoring an old house in Galveston).