Today was foggy but not cold. I even ventured out for a long walk in the park. I also walked a little bit in the Heights and looked into some of the stores on 19th Street. I saw a vintage carousel horse in an antiques shop and I was tempted to buy it because I love love love carousels.
What else? I started doing my taxes. I had a bit of a shock. Here’s how my life has recently exploded at the seams: I’ve done my own taxes for over twenty years now and I’ve always gotten money back. This year it looks like I might actually have to pay something for the first time ever. Of course, I’m not quite done with my return, as I keep remembering things I’ve paid for, and finding receipts and such, things such as professional editing for Lone Wolf, or an AirBnb in the desert, fees to participate in art events, and other such things. Still, I might end up paying next to nothing, but it’s pretty clear I won’t be getting money back.
Also, I’ve reached the point in my Galveston ghost story where Hurricane Carla hits. I still have a little bit of research left to do, but I think I’ll write that part tomorrow.
Today I painted this little cow. As you know, I love cows, and I identify with them, as a Taurus, a benevolent creature who likes her world to be in order. With all the changes in my life things have been a bit chaotic, and the Bull has been anxious and irritable, but I think I made some progress towards restoring a sense of order today. It wasn’t a day marked by big achievements – I did regular stuff like mail two packages, eat a poké roll and an açai bowl, shop for wrapping paper, and yes, paint this cow – but I finally managed to synch my business credit card with my Quickbooks Self-Employed app, and that, to me, makes a world of difference. I love accounting and numbers and love having a system to keep all these things straight, so I’m happy with this little development. Also, I officially gave notice on my studio at Sabine Street and that feels good too. Life will be simpler and easier. And perhaps all it takes is for me to be patient as everything slowly gets on track, but Bulls have trouble with patience too.
The experiment of me painting in my upstairs room continues. Today my inspiration came from my friend at The Amsterdamian, who recently traveled to Malaga and posted some really beautiful pictures. I’m not sure yet how I feel about the painting or about working upstairs instead of in my studio. There were moments when I enjoyed the experience a lot, and I’m sure Holly liked having me around more too, but I’m still a little skeptical and it’s probably just my aversion to change. Also an odd kind of superstition: I painted some of my all-time best paintings at Sabine Street. What if I can’t produce work of that caliber somewhere else? Perhaps I should file that under ‘ridiculous fears.’ I have a lot of these, in case you were wondering.
Anyway, perhaps my favorite moment of the day occurred at the post office when I learned that shipping one of my 24×24 inch Washington DC paintings only costs about $12. I just love the postal service! I had been running around a bit frazzled, trying to tie some loose ends regarding my business entity – hopefully the last hurdle? – and I was feeling very anxious, so having the kind people at the post office help me with my package, and realizing it’s rather inexpensive to mail these, made me feel like I’ve some sort of support out there.
I also really enjoyed yoga, and was actually able to relax and let go in class tonight, something I very much needed! And, emboldened by my yoga session I actually wrapped two packages tonight to take to the post office tomorrow!
I decided that I needed to experiment with painting in my upstairs room to see if it is doable, in which case I might let go of my studio because having all my stuff divided between two locations is a bit exhausting. I bought sturdy drop cloths (moving blankets, actually) and two work lights, and tonight I gave it a shot. I’m not sure how I feel about the resulting painting, and I can’t yet decide if I can paint here or not. Of course, it would be easier if I brought the easel and made a few other changes too.
What I did learn today, however, is that the to-do list I’d made for yesterday and today actually consists of tasks that will probably take all week. The paintings, for example, that I’m trying to ship, need to be wrapped well, and there’s no way I can accomplish that in a day. I decided to pace myself, and mail them out one by one. Today I wrapped the first one, and I consider it an accomplishment. I also went to yoga, which makes me feel good, ate fairly healthy, reread more of the Betty and Cornelius portion of my ghost story, and managed not to succumb to despair when the weather turned seriously nasty. I also managed to sleep a lot and have fairly interesting dreams. I’m hoping for more tonight, as I feel like I’m receiving some special guidance, and I know some of it is about finding my voice and staying true to myself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!