Frog

Today I painted this frog because I really wanted to play around with some of my new gold paint. I worked most of the day on an interview about Storms of Malhado – something I’ll get to share with y’all next week! I also sold one of my all-time-favorite paintings, The Blue Sea, which has been the featured piece in the gallery for over a year now. It’s found such a wonderful home, and I’m so happy!

Blue and Gold

Aimée is back from the editor and I need to get reacquainted with her. I love this story so much, I’m almost afraid to touch it. Today I only went through the manuscript reading the editor’s comments. I also played around a bit with cover ideas to get myself back into the mood of the story.

I painted three tiny abstract paintings in order to play with the new gold paints that just arrived from Amazon, and I found an old painting of grandma from Binghamton in 2001.

Betty at the Pool

Inspired by a post by the Bryan Museum, this watercolor, which makes me think of Betty in Storms of Malhado, was something I just had to paint. And a few magical things happened while I was painting it. It pretty much painted itself, the watercolors being all loose and flowy and fun, the way watercolors are in their best moments. While I was painting, my friend, watching on Facebook Live, showed me a similar painting by Amanda Bennett, which I absolutely loved. We resolved to visit her gallery when we’re in New Orleans in January.

I also started getting a little obsessed with Halloween and making different ads for Storms of Malhado and The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, which are both a little scary, each in its own way.

What Makes an Evening Unforgettable?

One of the things my mentor and I have in common, aside from the art stuff, and a propensity to joke around relentlessly, is our appreciation for the finer things in life – luxury goods and luxury establishments offering unforgettable experiences. But what makes an experience unforgettable? My mentor and I love to discuss and analyze this question at length. Quality is not enough – the standardized offering of luxury can be so predictable and blah. To be truly moving, quality requires charm and a personal touch. Few people are as talented at adding those vital ingredients to an experience as my mentor is. A fresh rose, delicate water drops on its petals, a small surprise, remembering people’s names, or better yet having it displayed on a wall to honor them, remembering their preferences, are just some of the things he does to make visitors to his gallery feel special.

When we go somewhere fabulous together, we love to analyze what exactly makes the place fabulous. No detail goes unnoticed. It’s one of our favorite topics of conversation. And one of the most fabulous fabulous places where we relished in taking in the ingredients of an unforgettable evening was Tony’s in Houston. In fact, my mentor himself learned a lot from Mr. Tony Vallone, and I’m lucky that he passed on many of the lessons to me, lucky, too, that I got to experience this fine establishment and its many special touches in person. I’m was very saddened to hear about the passing of Mr. Tony Vallone today. I’m grateful that he brought such magic to Houston and shared it with us.

Revelation

Today I felt the need to work on a big abstract painting in my new style, sectioning part of it off with tape. It was a good, healing process, a revelation of sorts. I don’t know what I hadn’t thought of doing this on canvas before.

I also painted some of my favorite creatures on tiny wood panels to put in my second edition of the Christmas boxes. I saw the night heron again tonight. I looked at him and he looked at me. I always feel it’s nothing short of a miracle when I see him.

Anniversary of the 1900 Storm

Today, on the 120th anniversary of the Storm of 1900, I had my book signing for Storms of Malhado at Feliz Interiors here in Houston. It was a lot of fun – despite my anxiety about the pandemic which I mitigated by wearing my mask and using lots of sanitizer. Just as I knew it would, the book fit perfectly into the store’s unique and eclectic decor. In fact, I left a few copies and a painting of Galveston there because the display we created was too lovely to only be admired for one day! I also got to revisit some old favorites: Remember my carousel horses pre-Matilda? Or my little watercolor of cowboy boots from years ago? It now gets to be displayed next to a gun from the 1860s. Maybe Desmond’s gun? You can find all this and more – even the lovely presence of little finches – at Feliz Interiors on S Voss Road. Oh, and for people who love history, the copies I left behind in the store have all been signed and dated, marked with today’s anniversary.

A Fictional Overflow

On the eve of the Anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900, with no disturbances in the Gulf, I can’t believe time has passed so fast and the official release of Storms of Malhado is upon us!

Y’all, I’m so excited! I will be signing books in person at Feliz Interiors from 2-6pm (with a mask on and plenty of sanitizer, of course!) but I have prepared lots of fun virtual content to be released throughout the day too.

I made a video that gives you a behind the scenes look at the creation of the book, including a chance to meet my beloved editor, Mandy Schoen. She helped a lot with building up suspense in the story, not revealing too much too soon, and of course weeding out pesky errors and such. Trust me, with three historical timelines, she had her work cut out for her! Someone else who helped immensely is my historical expert, Margaret Doran (@margaret_doran on Instagram). She read two different versions of the manuscript before it even got to my editor and pointed out big and small historical blunders.

I also made this little book trailer – because making these is fun.

I’d be so happy if on release day people who loved the book share either their content or some of mine to show it a little love and make a bit of a splash! Also, if you’ve read it and haven’t yet left a review, please consider writing one. Even short reviews help a lot!

As to the painting of the black chicken, well, what can I say? They’re called Ayam Cemani and I’m a bit obsessed with them.

Texas Heroes Monument

Along with Mary Star of the Sea, Lady Victory also makes several cameos in Storms of Malhado as a statue standing guard over the Island. Today I decided to try my hand at painting the Texas Heroes Monument again.

I had a magical kind of day, working with John on a secret project – with a little bit of help from the dogs and a VVIP collector. At night, walking in my own neighborhood with my own dog I saw the heron again. I always take that as a good sign.

Cardinals

Guess what? The second edition of the Sandovici Art Surprise Christmas Boxes are sold out! One of these Cardinals will go into one of them. The other one has already found a good home. This is so exciting! I love making the Christmas Boxes so much!

I also spent some time today designing some book marks to put into the books I’m bringing to Feliz Interiors on Tuesday for the book signing. Which one do y’all like?

Guidance

Something magical happened today, if you believe in that kind of stuff, and I do. I was helping out with Sarah Luna’s Escapist solo show. These shows are very different in the times of Covid, with all social distancing protocols in place, an attendance limit, masks, lots of sanitizer, one-way traffic through the gallery, and no congregating. It’s as safe as going to any other store where everyone wears masks, which turns out to be pretty safe. So I decided I was up to helping, and sat at a table in the welcoming area asking people to please wear their masks (they all did!) and crossing their names off a list of participants – one of the many protocols in place to make sure attendees were nicely spaced out. I was actually having a nice time, feeling more relaxed about my ability to be around people and do business in these crazy times. John had brought Bartholomew, the carousel horse, to keep me company, and I was mostly alone, happy that when people did come, I could see them putting on masks as they approached the building. Then I looked at the list of names in front of me, and noticed one that was unusual, but familiar to me: Zorica – my grandmother’s name, which nobody used other than my grandfather. The rest of us called her Leu. But Zorica was her name, and while I knew a bit about its origin, I had never in my whole life met another woman called Zorica. But a Zorica presented herself tonight – with a mask on, of course– and it felt like from beyond the grave, my grandmother was giving me a wink. Perhaps what she was saying was “stop being so scared, girl, just wear your mask and keep the distance, but live your beautiful life.”

Some other good things happened today too. My books arrived for my book signing at Feliz Interiors on Tuesday, a full box of them! And the schedule for the Meet Houston’s Artists docuseries is now official (see below).