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Today I had groceries from HEB delivered by Instacart. The driver was awesome. He waved at me from a safe distance and I was grateful. I painted some of my groceries and then I thought that maybe I should do a series inspired by my quarantine supplies. I think I now have enough stuff for about 45 meals, maybe even more. Does anyone else do these types of calculations?

This afternoon during Facebook Live I painted a carousel horse. Well, I started on one anyway. It will still take a lot of doing. But I have lots of painting supplies as well and apparently lots of time.

Today’s book recommendation: The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

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Quarantine Poem

There has been a request for fresh dog poetry, and Holly has been particularly inspired, so here goes. This is her latest creation.

Quarantine schmarantine!

Have you ever been in boarding?

Imagine being stuck in a small room

With no couches

And no human.

Imagine being away

From your own personal human

For like eternity.

I’ve no idea

Why you’re complaining.

I love being home.

Home is the place

Where the pillows

Smell like my human’s face

And where the kitchen floor

Is cool against my tummy,

Where the bathroom

Contains the horror of soap

And the kitchen drawer

My leash,

That promise of adventure!

Home is endless.

It contains multitudes.

There are patches

Of sunshine

On the carpet!

Home is a universe

Waiting to be explored

Or slept in


I did more stuff to the abstract painting today and I’m actually loving it! Also, once again I had a great day.

Today’s book recommendation: The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

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Let’s Have an Adventure!

Today on Facebook Live I continued my live painting of the abstract piece I started yesterday. I explored mark making and used different tools to make marks onto the canvas including a knife. Ryan was watching and asked if that was their knife, which I thought was hilarious. I do, in fact have tons of things I’ve stolen from my mentors’ house while in the Escapist Mentorship Program (mostly paints, but also brushes, pencils, wash rags, hair ties, and other fun objects) but the knife I bought at the dollar store 15 years ago when I moved to Beaumont.

Back to the painting, though. I do like what I did today, and I do like the painting but it doesn’t feel done. This is why abstract painting is hard – but also what makes it an adventure. With every painting there’s that point where I like it fine, but it needs more, and so I do more and I mess it up completely and then I’m sad and feel like everything is lost, but then I keep going and the painting slowly sorts itself out and eventually it’s finished and I love it.

So, yeah, that’s quite a process, and at times an ordeal, but any adventure worth its salt includes moments of frustration and panic, so I’m excited to keep going, at the risk of messing up the painting, and to share this adventure with y’all.

Speaking of adventures, my friend Lisa Goodrich has finished formatting the paperback version of Storms of Malhado, and it’s so beautiful! I’ve never had a book so beautiful before! It seriously is next level! So of course as soon as I uploaded it, the Amazon warehouse closed for all non-essential purchases. So, beautiful lovely paperbacks will arrive after the Coronavirus passes. So glad I’m almost ready to release the ebook! But do take a peek at this beautiful cover! And some of the beautifully formatted text inside!

Today’s book recommendation: The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey.

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Sunshine Is Everything

In which I actually have a great day, isolation and all because the sun is shining outside and I love spring. Good things that happened today: I got a glimpse at the formatting for the paperback of Storms of Malhado my friend is working on and it’s so beautiful! I had good conversations with family – the situation with being far away in these strange socially distant times has been stressful, but we’re plugging along. I made the best chicken and dumplings and ate almost the whole pot. It’s so good y’all! I even made the dumplings from scratch and they’re fabulous! I took a long walk at sunset to hear the birds sing and enjoy spring flowers – staying six feet away from everyone of course. I started working on a new novel and on a new abstract piece which I’ve pinned to the wall right next to the horse. And John wrote to tell me there are frogs in his pond again. Which means summer is almost here. It was very hot out today, so maybe the Coronavirus will die?

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Stay Home

Hero of the day: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo who issued a shelter at home order for Harris County this morning. Of course I’m sick of staying home, but we simply can’t afford to let this virus spread. We all need this to end and normal life to resume, but I don’t see a solution at this point other than staying safe and flattening the curve.

I’ve been pretty wound up all day, and not really able to relax, but some nice things still happened: A collector wrote to say she’s grateful to have my art to keep her company as she shelters in place. I made more progress on the horse. I took important steps towards the early release of Storms of Malhado. I also made some progress on the plates I’m painting. Through it all some good moments still sneak in. I do occasionally panic, but I still think with time, patience (and hopefully a cure and/or vaccine soon) we will all be ok.

Today’s book recommendation: In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina

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Kind of blah day, though I made some really good fried rice, and had a major breakthrough on the horse painting. I’m totally starting to love it!

Also, I’ll tell you a secret: The manuscript for Storms of Malhado has been sent to my graphic designer friend for formatting. I will release the Kindle version early – while we’re all stuck at home – though I will honor early access for VIP readers.

Today’s book recommendation: Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg.

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Today had its ups and downs. Some moments were really good. The dog and I took a long walk in a neighborhood by our house, and it was green and wet with morning rain, and the birds were singing. I started painting on a set of dinner plates – my tribute to Judy Chicago’s feminist masterpiece, The Dinner Party. I will paint the phases of the moon, also birds and flowers. It is slow going as each coat needs to dry completely before I add a new one.

I ordered groceries delivered and it was a bit weird, but my fridge is now full of all kinds of veggies and I have enough milk to last for three weeks. More if you count the condensed milk I also bought. I had a dream about this coffee I used to drink in Spain, made with espresso and condensed milk. I might need one of those as a pick-me-up one of these days.

I’m also finishing my read-through of Storms of Malhado. I’m getting so close!

Today’s book recommendation: Love in Mid-Air by Kim Wright. I love this book so much! And it goes well with my story of Betty in Storms of Malhado, and my reinterpreted Dinner Party as it’s about a woman with artistic ambitions who is unhappy in her marriage.

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A Week In

It’s now been a whole week since I’ve stayed inside – except for dogs walks, one trip to the post office and grocery store, and my six-feet-apart meeting with John yesterday. I still don’t mind it all that much. There have always been periods in my life when I needed to spend lots of time alone and find ways to entertain myself. So I definitely have the emotional tools to deal with the alone time, though not so much with the uncertainty of the whole thing. How much longer? New York and California are now on lockdown, but here in Texas there are people in the streets, some of them not really practicing social distancing.

Anyway, painting is a good thing as it gets me to focus on something else. Today my progress on the horse was rather slow and frustrating. I worked on the wheels of the cart and discovered the fourth hoof, which I’d completely neglected to include.

I also started working on a cat portrait and did quite a bit of editing on my manuscript. And I made a video on drawing a fish.

Today’s book recommendation: Barbara Kingsolver – Flight Behavior

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The Man in the Cart

Today for my Facebook Live painting session I decided to concentrate on a small detail of the large painting: The face of the man in the cart. This small task was a workable goal for my live painting, so I ended up really relaxing and having fun.

I’m still having a nice time with the social distancing. Lots of people are reaching out to each other and being quite lovely. One of my favorite collectors hosted a tour of her art collection via Instagram Live, and it was absolutely amazing. Few things are as special to me as seeing my art in people’s homes, and her collection includes some very meaningful pieces of mine, along with wonderful art by many other artists – many from the Escapist Mentorship Program.

Today’s video is on how to draw birds. You can see it on YouTube. And today’s book recommendation: The Party by Sally Quinn. Because there will be parties again when this is all over.

When you meet with your mentor during a pandemic he might put up a protective barrier, and he might look like this:

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I’m Starting to Like This

I’m starting to like this. Yes, life seems a bit like a dystopian movie right now, but it also feels a bit like Christmas morning. There is so much peace and general goodwill floating around. Even this thing we’re doing, staying home, staying far from each other, is such a nice thing to do, such a great way to cooperate with each other for the greater good.

I’m also enjoying my activities and I find myself rather busy. Today I worked on my book, made a YouTube video on how to draw a carousel horse, continued my large-scale painting on Facebook Live, roasted a chicken, made beet soup, did yoga, and gave my dog two very long walks. Considering how busy I am, I wonder how I ever really had time to leave the house at all back when it was still safe.