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A Playful Tiger and Pani Puri

Today was such a lovely day! It started out with me drawing the cat my writer friend, Courtney Brandt, is fostering in Dubai – a playful little tiger – then finally emailing the manuscript of my upcoming novel, Lone Wolf, to my Kindle. I’m trying out a new kind of editing, reading through just for fun (because that’s when I find the most mistakes!), reading in bed, with coffee and a small dog, on a rainy day. I’m 20% through and really enjoying it! I think reading on my computer in editing mode had caused me to miss a lot of the magic, but I’m happy to report that I love this book a lot.

The day went on with shopping with my sister, Lily, for a dress for her to wear to her book release party on Friday. And yes, I bought a dress too! I’m the producer of her book, and her book is on John and his career, and I have to say I’m very very excited.

We also celebrated with pani puri at my favorite Indian restaurant, Bombay Sweets. Pani puri are crunchy and sweet, and in the end we felt like we had too much tamarind, but we were happy. Today was such a lovely lovely day!

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Heavenly Bodies

I saw on Instagram that there’s an exhibit at the Met on Catholic imagery and fashion, which sounds pretty magical to me. It reminded me of how much I love the Met. Actually I remembered today how, about fifteen years ago, when I was teaching a class on the United Nations at East Stroudsburg University, I took my students on a field trip to the UN. After about an hour or so there, I decided we all needed to go visit the Met, and so the bus driver we’d hired for the day drove us uptown and we had a lovely afternoon looking at art. It was definitely a great thing to do for my students. But it also shows you what my priorities were, even then.

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

I just had to paint the picture John took of me and Nancy yesterday. I love that picture, and also, it fits with my day today, which was crazy and amazing. I had a double feature with Open Studios at Sabine Street Studios, then a huge party at John’s to celebrate his 20-Year Retrospective. All of it was fun. I saw many people I’ve become very fond of while in the program, and there were lovely toasts to John, there was champagne and cake, and Texas barbecue. There were flowers and paintings, and even a very meaningful sale for me, but one of my favorite moments of this amazing day was leading Bobby the English Pointer by the collar and taking him to Lily’s room, because he was just too eager to partake of the party and the barbecue.

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Goodbye Summer

Here’s a painting inspired by Georgie Jolie, who also inspired my Hotel Room in Paris painting. The picture made me think of summer, and how it’s almost over. Today it rained a lot and I ate leftover chili Ryan gave me to take home from the party last night (his chili is delicious, and chili leftovers are the best!), and it was all in all quite a beautiful day. I had my meetings with both John and Ryan and we talked about the townhouse I’m planning to rent, and the events I’m planning to have, and it was all very positive and constructive and it made me very happy. I will most likely host a Holiday Party, then have a bigger opening event in January. We talked about how I can organize my space, how I can keep work space and personal space separate, about lights and tables, and many other useful things.

AVM came back from Austin, Lily and I laughed a lot at the party tonight, and I came across the coolest picture John took of me and Nancy the English Pointer. So yes, summer might be over, but Fall has never before felt like such a happy new beginning.

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Synchronicity

The day started with a bit of synchronicity that blew my mind: My Escapist sister AVM Hawkins posted on Facebook that while at a conference in Austin she saw one of my prints in a hotel bathroom! There are many levels of magic to this: As we were celebrating Escapism today as part of John Ross Palmer’s 20-Year Retrospective, we were all sad that AVM had to be away from us. Her coming across my art in Austin was thus a good omen, a nice reminder that our Escapist family is united even when we’re geographically apart.

Also, the print is one that has special significance to me, especially right now that I’m working on releasing Lone Wolf, my road trip novel. The print is of a watercolor I painted three years ago, after my magical trip to Marfa with Claudia Curici, inspired by a photograph she took of me in my ruffled pink dress on a deserted road. The experience of being photographed by her in that particular landscape, the feeling of freedom and elation, the wonder at the beauty of the desert surrounding us, made it into the novel. It’s actually a very important moment in the story. So yes, there were so many levels of synchronicity to her seeing that particular image in a hotel in Austin. And I’m happy to report the rest of my day was filled with similar magic.

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Not a Deer in the Headlights

“When you first go in there, before you move even one thing of yours in, burn some sage. Make sure you open the cabinets and everything.”

That was my mentor’s advice on the new place I’m renting. Because I think I’ve finally identified a set of walls to hang my art on so I can invite people to see it. It’s not in the Heights, and it’s not a house. It’s a townhouse, walking distance from Saks Fifth Avenue, the newly opened Nobu, my favorite Starbucks, and Whole Foods. Things don’t always end up being exactly what we envisioned, but it’s important to prioritize and find something that will work for what we need. This house has easy access from a beautiful street with good parking, it has generous walls to hang art on, a cozy bedroom for Holly and me overlooking a crepe myrtle, and a very large second bedroom that can function as studio and office. I think this will work very nicely for what I need, and the landlord loves me and is excited about my business.

I am no longer like a deer in the headlights, paralyzed with fear about my next move and all the changes I am making in my life. I think now that I’ve finally found something suitable I will be more at peace and able to work better.

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Lone Wolf – Coming Soon

Happy to announce I’ve heard back from my editor, and my upcoming novel, Lone Wolf, is on track for its December release. No, this is not the Galveston ghost story I’ve been working on, but a manuscript that’s almost finished, about a writer who goes on a road trip. Her adventure starts on a train from New York to California, a journey on which she’s hoping to write but doesn’t, then continues as a road trip with a man she meets on the train, from L.A. to West Texas, with a stop at the Grand Canyon. I’m very excited about this book, especially since it’s a book about both travel and writing, two of my favorite things. It’s also a book about independence, about choosing to be free, about finding and pursuing one’s own path.

Serendipity has it that I have a painting to deliver to an old friend who lives in West Texas. I could mail it, of course, but what’s the fun in that? Perhaps as I prepare to publish my new novel, Lone Wolf, it’s time to take a road trip of my own and do some book promotion along the way.

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Carousel

What can be more exciting on a rainy morning than your mentor texting to say he’ll be hosting a friend’s birthday party and can you please order 120 tacos. Personally, I think each day should start with 120 tacos. So yes, today was fun! Lots of fun!

Even the rain didn’t seem as oppressive – though I did worry a lot for all my friends in Galveston. The Island got a lot more rain than we did and some of my friends’ shops flooded.

As to me, my house deal, I’m afraid, is falling through. It seems to not be the right kind of place for my business, and the business is my priority. Speaking of, I suppose this might be a good time to announce, since some of my very loyal readers have figured this out already, that I will be a full-time artist and writer come December. It’s been a long journey, but my dream has come true! My art business has grown to the point where it requires my full-time attention. I have an extensive list of wonderful collectors, many commissions to complete, and readers anxiously awaiting my next book (to be launched in December!), so it is time. I can no longer squeeze all these activities into the free hours allowed by my academic career (though these are plentiful). I suppose I’m finally at the point where I get to streamline my life and be my most authentic self. Speaking of which, did you know that September 2018 is the first month in 6 years that I have only one place to live? One apartment in Houston and that’s it! My life is no longer divided. For a girl with serious commitment issues, it’s a big step. But with help and support from all of you who read this blog and my books and who buy my art, I’ve finally figured out who I want to be, and I’m ready to be that person each and every day, not just on school holidays and long weekends. It’s feels positively liberating!

As to the painting above, it’s inspired by my friend Veronica Soare, who also is herself each and every day, and quite an amazing self at that!

Purchase original watercolor.

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Waiting?

It’s been drizzling on and off all day. The sky is cloudy and the temperature is no longer the oppressive heat of Texas summer. Though I have to admit I kind of enjoy the oppressive heat, especially when stepping out of an overly air-conditioned restaurant.

My friend and I went to try a new place in Montrose called Vibrant, then on to the Museum District to see the new bean sculpture everyone’s been making a big fuss about, and the new Glassell School of Art. We quite enjoyed the view from the roof!

In the evening another friend and I went to Emmaline for our last dinner out for Houston Restaurant Week, which ends today. It was quite lovely, especially the decor. And yet, there was an undercurrent of the Sunday blues about the whole experience. I guess there’s always something sad about Sunday nights and the beginning of Fall. Or maybe I’m just tired. I’ve been making a lot of changes, and I’m still waiting to hear back from the owner of the house I’m trying to lease. Have I mentioned I hate waiting?

I painted an old woman in the doorway of my favorite restaurant in Barcelona, an image they posted on Instagram. Unlike me, I’d like to think she’s happy to be waiting. Maybe there are wise people out there who know how to be comfortable with that. Me, I want it all, and I want it now, and I guess this slow Labor Day weekend with so many things unresolved is driving me a little nuts.

I did do two useful things today though, to move things along in other areas of life. I sent my (almost finished) manuscript for my road trip novel, which I’ve been sitting on for quite a while, to my friend in Amsterdam to read. Also, I’ve contacted the editor I used for Miss Vulpe so I can make sure she has time to work on the project. So yes, there are things I can do, even while waiting, to make sure there is progress.

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Window in Barcelona

Today I painted one of the windows of Casa Ametller in Barcelona. I also rested, did my email marketing, reviewed the lease of my new house in the Heights (It’s happening, y’all! There’s only one small point of clarification, and I’m there!), and in the evening went to hear live music at the Murky Duck, which is a very cool place. Tomorrow I have planned for meals with friends, and maybe a museum outing. It may seem like a quiet weekend, but things are happening fast. I’ve set in motion a chain of events that will lead me to live the life I’ve wanted for so long now.