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Today I painted the last one in my series of Seaside, Florida commissions. I also got a new review for The Adventures of Miss Vulpe that I’m very happy about. It describes the book as “carnal and sweet, funny and somber,” which I think is a great description for it.

The weather alternated between chilly and warm, and there were moments when it felt good to be outside. It was in one of those moments that I ran into a former neighbor. She looked great, and she told me about working for the Rodeo. I showed her my new gallery space. Her visit coincided with that of one of my favorite collectors who came by to get her Washington DC painting. It was a nice constellation for me. The encounter cheered me up immensely, it was serendipitous and fun, and I always perk up when the Rodeo comes to town, it’s all part of a sequence of events that hopefully means spring is almost here.

Tomorrow I will start mailing the Washington DC commissions for people from out of town. I’m very excited about each of these pieces finding its way to its new home.

Also, I’ve been reading the 1961 section of my Galveston ghost story, and while it’s not finished and also needs a lot of revisions, there are elements of it that I like a lot.

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The Prettiest Post Office

Today the weather turned unexpectedly cold while I was out at breakfast with my friend. I had walked to the restaurant, on what appeared to be a misty but warm morning, taking stock of new flowers that had bloomed in the neighborhood, and walking back in the cold seemed especially cruel. After I put the heat back on, I comforted myself by painting the post office in Seaside, Florida. This surely must be one of the prettiest post offices in the world. I think I’d like to visit Seaside someday.

Despite allowing myself to be transported while painting, I still got seriously sad in the afternoon. I channeled it as best I could into the ghost story I’m writing. After all, today was the day I was supposed to kill my characters in the Storm of 1900. They die because they refuse to learn the lessons they’re meant to learn, and because they cling to attachments that are bad for them, to relationships that are not meant to last, but meant to teach them things about themselves instead. They will repeat the same patterns in their new lives, and will die again in Hurricane Carla in 1961. In fact, tonight I’m looking forward to rereading what I’ve written so far on the 1961 section of the book, so I can meticulously plot their next demise.

Interesting how in fiction lives are so expendable, but also easy to resurrect and reinvent. I suppose my characters can afford to take several lifetimes to figure things out. As for me, here’s hoping I can do so in my current one. Though perhaps the more pertinent concern is that, having understood what certain situations in my life were meant to teach me, I need to still find ways to apply the knowledge. Perhaps, unlike my fictional characters, I only get this one life. But in this one life, do I get to go on to the next level, like in a video game? Do I get to use the tools I’ve acquired and finally slay the dragon and free the princess? Here’s hoping! I’ll keep you posted.

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Sunshine and Happiness

It’s been quite a full day. I had a lovely lunch with my mentor, John Ross Palmer, which I really needed today because now that the DC paintings are done, I was feeling restless and untethered. I did have a few ideas about what to do next, and I really needed to run them by John. I also needed a good laugh. I’d sunk into one of my little pockets of sadness, places I go to sometimes for no reason, or maybe just because I get overworked and lonely. Anyway, I feel better now.

In the afternoon I went to help a collector install a painting that means a lot to me. My Galveston Ship Channel, which I’d painted for my solo show, and which was featured in the Escapism 2018 Catalog. It had been wrapped in wax paper awaiting its arrival at its new home for months now, so seeing it was like seeing an old friend. Take that, pockets of sadness! It’s so amazing for me to see my paintings in people’s spaces, to realize that they make an impact, bring people joy. Something stuck with me that John said over lunch today, and I will try to do a better job internalizing it: “You don’t realize how much power you have.” I will try to be better about this, about remembering that my paintings contain powerful magic that I put into the world, and about being grateful for it.

Also, John installed one of my DC pieces in a collector’s home this morning and sent me this picture. I love the way he placed it by the mirror.

Later, in the evening, I tried to channel my magical powers into painting a scene full of sunshine and happiness, one of my Seaside commissions, an adorable little girl at the beach. I have two more watercolors in this series to paint tomorrow, also a long walk my friend and I have been meaning to take for a while. Hopefully by the end of it all I’ll feel a lot better.

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The Unveiling

Today was the unveiling of the Washington DC paintings. I spent most of the day wiring, hanging, and getting the gallery ready. Then in the evening collectors came, and it was almost like a mini-reunion from our Washington DC trip. Four of the paintings went home with the people who had commissioned them. Two more will stay here in Houston, and the rest I will have to ship.

After everyone left, I walked my dog and sat down and drew a cat. I like to draw cats and I think that I’m getting better.

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Reflecting Pool

And finally, here is the last one in my Washington DC commissions series, just in time for the unveiling tomorrow night! It’s been such a joy to work on these! Each collector brought a new perspective, and each piece turned out unique and very special. This one, for a new friend I made on the trip, who wanted us all to walk around the Reflecting Pool one evening, had to include the Reflecting Pool.

So excited for collectors to see these pieces tomorrow evening, and to take them home!

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Public Service

Another painting in my Washington DC series, this one for a former student who went on to get a PhD in Public Administration and then became a colleague. He transformed the Public Administration Program at Lamar University and rescued it, and for that I am eternally grateful as this is a program I cared greatly about. It’s odd, perhaps, that I got so involved, since public administration is not my specialty, but they needed me at some point to teach classes such as Immigration Policy, Leadership and Social Networks, and also Grant Writing. These are things I can teach well, and I really enjoyed working with graduate students. Soon enough I even realized I was getting overly attached to this program, overly involved emotionally in its survival and thriving. I couldn’t afford to become so involved because I knew, even years ago, that I had to prioritize and save my energy for my art. So, when my colleague came back to devote himself to the MA Program I was so very grateful. I was happy to be able to shift my energy to the things I really wanted to do, knowing that someone competent and passionate would give more to this program than I even could. The fact that I got to paint the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to hang in my colleague’s office at Lamar is so very special. He also chose a beautiful quote about public service to go on the painting, and I picked another one to add. Here’s to moving on! And here’s to public service!

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Yellow Roses

I was so happy that one of my collectors for the DC commissions requested a painting of the Wreath of yellow roses John Ross Palmer laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That wreath was so beautiful, and I was happy to immortalize it.

Painting it was definitely the highlight of my day. But I did a lot of other things I’m happy about. After a very long hiatus, I dug out my yoga mat from underneath paintings and other assorted objects in my trunk and went to Yoga for Creatives, a donation-based class at Sabine Street Studios that was designed especially for people like me. I also finally got a haircut. My bangs are no longer in my eyes! Then in the evening I went to a party in a modernly redesigned historic home of quite impressive proportions, filled with quite impressive art too. All of this, on a Tuesday! In my past life I’d be in Beaumont, and frankly, I’ve already forgotten what that feels like.

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More DC, More Writing

The weather was still nice today, so I walked around quite a bit. I’m trying to get back into shape, to erase the months of sitting in the car commuting from my body’s memory. It was a good day to do that today. Though in the evening it started raining and my stubborn little dog doesn’t want to go anywhere when it rains.

I worked on another one of the DC commissions. I love how in the picture my collector took, the sky looks almost red.

In the evening I sat in front of my computer and got ready to kill people. I’m almost done with the 1900 section of the Galveston ghost story. Well, at least with the first draft of it, because I know it’ll need a lot of revisions.

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Mellow Sunday

Today I made some progress on the Seaside, Florida commissions. I had a lot of fun painting this little beachside restaurant called the Shrimp Shack.

Also, the weather warmed up considerably, and it was all in all the perfect mellow Sunday. I tried to do all the good and healthy things: Did the stairs by Whole Foods, took myself out for a healthy brunch, shopped for fresh food sans all the plastic, walked 10,000 steps, wrote 1000 words, and I guess I might even end up going to bed early. I’m reading The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and it’s quite captivating. It kind of makes me miss Dubai, and kind of not.

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Sunshine Is the Best Disinfectant

Today I had two events in a row: open studios at Sabine Street, then a really fun party in Montrose which I threw with my friend who makes jewelry. It was a long day, but a really fun one!

At Sabine Street I painted another DC commission, this one for a former student who is currently in law school. I picked quotes from Justice Brandeis to write on it, which I thought she’ll find funny, including “if only you would recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you,” and “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

I also painted five little abstract pieces to bring to the party in Montrose. They turned out really colorful, as did the party itself. Overall it’s been a very fun day! And sometimes I just have to pinch myself when I realize I’m so lucky to get to do all these things.