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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).

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Les Accessories

So here’s a day when so much has happened! Most importantly, I had my first meeting with my mentor, artist John Ross Palmer. We decided to paint together, which was great fun, and we made a collaboration piece (above). The painting is for sale, with both our signatures on it, and costs $90 if you’re interested.

The lesson of the day for me, as an artist, is still slowly sinking in. One thing I want to learn from John is how to strike the right balance between the merely suggested and the neatly detailed elements of a painting. It’s something that he does extremely well in his art, and which I admire greatly. His advice to me: paint a lot, and it will come. I guess it has to do with what my date and I were talking about the other night too: How do you know when something is done? In both art and love it can, at times, be difficult to tell, yet overdoing it, in both, can be as bad, if not worse, than leaving things unfinished. Maybe Coco Chanel was on to something: The last accessory you’ve put on to complete an outfit is too much. Take it off. The final line you wish to add (I was dying for one more contour to that woman scrambling through her closet), don’t draw it. That last letter you wish to send your former lover, don’t send it. Less is more. Or is it? Do some affairs require a final song, some outfits a flower pinned to a lapel, some paintings a few extra touches?

And to add more complexity to a life full of such decisions, here’s one more: Do you buy a house for its magic? Do you buy it because it’s close to the beach and has its original ceilings? Do you buy it because you love the green leaves of palm trees as seen through its windows, its claw-foot bathtub, and the crown molding in the room with the chandelier? Do you buy it because its ghosts speak to you? Do you buy it because you can?

Or do you try to still the questions in your mind, all questions about art and love and houses, and go see your paintings hanging at the new location of Kitchen Chick, then go to a party at Maceo’s, go for a long walk with your friend and peek inside the old Customs House, only to end up later in front of the house with the chandelier in the dark wondering about the same old things, wondering if maybe its ghosts and yours might enjoy a playdate as you soak in the claw foot tub and try to wash away all your angst and your worries?

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Today was cold and in the morning it rained. The fog of a dream I didn’t quite want to wake up from didn’t leave me all day. I was out of coffee. I whipped up some instant coffee I’d bought for the hurricane. With a lot of milk it wasn’t half bad, but my tiredness never went away. It went with me to drawing class, stealing my joy. The class, frankly, hasn’t quite been what I was hoping for. The other students like to play with various media, to play with shapes and squiggles. I want to learn how to draw the human form. Today I really wanted to learn how to do hands and feet. I wasn’t interested in dipping sticks in ink and doodling. I left class early and went for a walk. It was wet and the trees around the Menil looked like sad brown piles of coiled roots and branches. The Menil is about to close for a whole year for renovations. I contemplated going inside. Instead I went and had Vietnamese vermicelli noodles. Then I walked back to the Watercolor Society. Class was over and everyone was setting up for life drawing. I like life drawing better. It’s more useful to me. Today the model brought a mask. I liked that, but I couldn’t produce anything I was excited to show to anyone. So later, much later, at home, after cooking something healthy, after starting the dishwasher, after completing my dreaded annual review for work and emailing it, I sat down and drew a baby bird hatching out of an egg. It reminded me that birds are dinosaurs and that cheered me up, but just briefly. Tomorrow, I’m hoping, will be a better day.

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Fish Bone

Fish bone

Beautiful and bare

Lying abandoned on the sidewalk

Carrying salty pleasures

And stories of the sea.

I’ve wanted you for days.

I’ve drooled and pulled

On the leash with which

I attach

My human to my mighty body

So as not to lose her.

I’ve wanted you so bad.

I’ve dreamt of you at night.

Fantasized, wondered, longed, and plotted.

What can I say?

I’m a covetous bitch!

I’ve agonized at the thought

Of another dog

Getting you.

I’ve waited,

Casting covetous glances

Each time I saw you

Shining there


On the sidewalk

Your smell

Inviting me.

Today finally,

Oh joy of joys,

I held you

In my powerful jaw

For a second

I will always remember.

You were mine, mine, mine

But were you really?

“No!” said the human,

That jealous little bitch!

“No no!”

Yet she didn’t dare

Insert her dainty paw into my mouth

Because, to be honest,

I bit her once,

Bit her hard,

Cracked her tiny bird-like bones

The way I was hoping

To crunch you

Between my teeth.

She shook me,

That stubborn beast,

Untrainable breed,

Crazy monster

That she is!

She shook me and I dropped you

Piece by piece.

She dragged me


But at least I know now

No other dog can have you.

As for me

She fed me

Diet dog food.

And it was good.

So good

I even wondered

Why crave the thrill

Of the forbidden

When you have

A good life here

At home?

Am I perhaps a treacherous bitch?

I licked the human’s finger,


And I resolved to love her

Despite her many flaws.

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Best Day Ever

I had such a fun day today in my Escapist studio working on my very first assignment! The painting is coming along nicely though I’m not ready to reveal it yet.

When I went home to feed the biggest dog in the universe I also sat down and painted some antique silverware inspired by my friend Margaret Doran’s Instagram feed.

The best days, for me, tend to be the ones when I like what I painted and when I feel like I got a lot of good work done.

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Be the Dragon

I drew this Chinese dragon in homage to my dog because she so fierce (and she kinda looks like one with those round popping eyes and her underbite!). But I also drew it because I wanted to feel fierce myself and in the morning I was feeling somewhat faded. It was probably nerves. Today was my initiation ceremony at John Palmer’s studio where I stood with the other Escapists, two wonderful ladies I’m already very fond of (AVM Hawkins and Paula Hawkins), and took the Escapist pledge. (There is a fourth of us too, Nabarupa Bhattacharjee, but she is currently in India and will join us in May). Kim Ogg, Harris County District Attorney gave a very moving keynote address in which she said some of the things I deeply believe in: that we can all get along even when we disagree and that art will help heal some of the current divisiveness in our country and the world. Representative Al Green attended the initiation as well and I was honored to meet him and receive a celebratory fist bump! We all got photographed more than I’ve ever been in my life (including the time I was a bridesmaid at a wedding in Kentucky, and they take that shit seriously!).

Of course, the question was, who would show up for me? I do have a tendency to eschew ceremonies of any kind, and if I ever do attend I usually don’t have family and such joining because #expatlife #rollingstone #girlwhomovesalot. I’m thrilled to report my cat curator friend who doesn’t like to go out because she’s part feline showed up wearing a beautiful shirt with the most exquisite print of cats. Of course, I recommended her services to the District Attorney. I’m so proud of her cat sitting business and also I just love talking to people about cats. You should try it sometime!

The other person who showed up for me was Mitch Cohen, owner and organizer of the First Saturday Arts Market, and a bona fide Houston art world celebrity. He suggested I take a picture of the floor in my studio so I can have before and after shots when the year is up. And so I did because I recognize good advice when I hear it.

I suppose my dog would have loved to come support me too but she too fierce to go out in public. That’s why I drew her as a Chinese dragon. I think she digs that.

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“When do you know a love story’s over?” I asked.

“You just know,” he said. “It’s like a painting. You know when it’s done.” I liked the metaphor.

I’d spent a very satisfying day in my new art studio with much hope that the painting I’m currently working on will eventually feel “resolved.” I decided it needed a scrappy coyote sitting in a corner. The image just came to me and I connected it with the coyote I saw in the summer, on East Beach in Galveston, the one that appeared as an omen of truths I knew but was unwilling to accept. Coyotes have very strong symbolism. They are shape shifters. They signal transformation. I figured a coyote would go well with the hellebores blooming out of a green heart.

Also, I got pink paint on the floor of my Escapist studio. It’s something I wanted to do very much.