Nancy in Human Form

“You’re a Nancy in human form,” he said. I took that as the highest compliment, because I like Nancy, the English Pointer, very much. Nancy is full of energy, has the silkiest fur, and she will cuddle but won’t kiss. Except she kissed me on two separate occasions and nobody believes me.

Anyway, I was sitting in the very exclusive archive of the John Ross Palmer studio holding Nancy. John was holding Bobby, and Lily was taking our picture. We were both giddy with excitement, Lily and I, having returned from the Asia Society where Lily had introduced me to one of my literary role models, Chitra Divaruni, a fellow Bengali. I have been reading and loving her work for over twenty years now, so I was quite starstruck. In fact, I was so nervous before the meeting that I was feeling out of sorts and Lily had to feed me butter chicken at the Pondi Cafe and tell me everything would be ok. Of course, Ms. Divakaruni was very nice and friendly, as I knew she would be. I gave her a watercolor I painted years ago, inspired by one of her books. That was a good moment for me. I thanked her for her beautiful writing that has helped me many times.

“We are so proud of Lily,” I then told her. “It was so brave to come join us all the way from India.”

“Why did you say that?” Lily later scolded. But I know why. I know from her writing, that Ms. Divakaruni, who writes so well about homesickness and distance, would not underestimate the magnitude of a very young woman traveling all the way from India by herself to a continent she has never before visited, bringing with her a top notch camera and a lot of dreams.

Later, I went to Aqui, a fusion Filipino restaurant with another good friend. We ate the most amazing Waygu beef carpaccio and a lot of beignets. I’m pretty sure Nancy would have loved that.

Coco Chanel at the Ritz

What a day this has been! It rained in the morning when I set out for EQ, the coffee shop in the Heights where my mentor, John Ross Palmer, and I like to meet. We talked about Paris. John is going to Paris and I almost decided to go with him, but I must stay here and paint paint paint in order to get ready for my graduation gala on October 13th. This will be a group show of our Escapist class, and my part of it will consist of brand new works! So John is going to Paris; I am not, but I’m excited for his trip and hope that he will text me pictures of Chanel mannequins and other things. We talked about Coco Chanel a lot today. We talked about how she lived at the Ritz for so many years, but also about her contributions to democratizing fashion. My favorite Chanel quote? “Luxury should be comfortable; otherwise it’s not luxury.”

Hummingbirds and Large Paintings

A beautiful day with lots of inspiration: The hummingbird is a digital drawing inspired by the Instagram feed of @stephanirae_ who never ceases to amaze me. The big painting was stretched with the help of my artist friend Jill Hakala – the same Jill Hakala who helped me hang my solo show, and who I share booth space with at First Saturday Arts Market (look for us October 6th!). Ok, so I admit that when it comes to stretching I simply don’t amount to much! I’m weak and clumsy. Jill ended up doing most of the work because I can barely get a heavy duty staple gun to staple (nor can I shoot a pistol; just a shotgun). Still… I will try stretching a smaller piece by myself next week and we’ll see what happens!

Also today my sister Lily’s book arrived and it’s so very beautiful! I’m proud to say I took the picture of her looking at one of the books!

Connection

“I understand why you kept it hidden for so long, but you have to publish this book,” my friend in Amsterdam said about my new manuscript, which I sent her. She knows me very well. Also, I’m happy that she likes it.

On my commute today, I also got to talk to my witch friend. It’d been a long time, and I felt somewhat disconnected. But fall is full-on witch season and we have all sorts of plans for our magic. She’ll even be here, come December. We might get to celebrate the Solstice together.

And just like that, despite the rain and the long commute, it’s been a good day.

A Playful Tiger and Pani Puri

Today was such a lovely day! It started out with me drawing the cat my writer friend, Courtney Brandt, is fostering in Dubai – a playful little tiger – then finally emailing the manuscript of my upcoming novel, Lone Wolf, to my Kindle. I’m trying out a new kind of editing, reading through just for fun (because that’s when I find the most mistakes!), reading in bed, with coffee and a small dog, on a rainy day. I’m 20% through and really enjoying it! I think reading on my computer in editing mode had caused me to miss a lot of the magic, but I’m happy to report that I love this book a lot.

The day went on with shopping with my sister, Lily, for a dress for her to wear to her book release party on Friday. And yes, I bought a dress too! I’m the producer of her book, and her book is on John and his career, and I have to say I’m very very excited.

We also celebrated with pani puri at my favorite Indian restaurant, Bombay Sweets. Pani puri are crunchy and sweet, and in the end we felt like we had too much tamarind, but we were happy. Today was such a lovely lovely day!

Heavenly Bodies

I saw on Instagram that there’s an exhibit at the Met on Catholic imagery and fashion, which sounds pretty magical to me. It reminded me of how much I love the Met. Actually I remembered today how, about fifteen years ago, when I was teaching a class on the United Nations at East Stroudsburg University, I took my students on a field trip to the UN. After about an hour or so there, I decided we all needed to go visit the Met, and so the bus driver we’d hired for the day drove us uptown and we had a lovely afternoon looking at art. It was definitely a great thing to do for my students. But it also shows you what my priorities were, even then.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

I just had to paint the picture John took of me and Nancy yesterday. I love that picture, and also, it fits with my day today, which was crazy and amazing. I had a double feature with Open Studios at Sabine Street Studios, then a huge party at John’s to celebrate his 20-Year Retrospective. All of it was fun. I saw many people I’ve become very fond of while in the program, and there were lovely toasts to John, there was champagne and cake, and Texas barbecue. There were flowers and paintings, and even a very meaningful sale for me, but one of my favorite moments of this amazing day was leading Bobby the English Pointer by the collar and taking him to Lily’s room, because he was just too eager to partake of the party and the barbecue.

Goodbye Summer

Here’s a painting inspired by Georgie Jolie, who also inspired my Hotel Room in Paris painting. The picture made me think of summer, and how it’s almost over. Today it rained a lot and I ate leftover chili Ryan gave me to take home from the party last night (his chili is delicious, and chili leftovers are the best!), and it was all in all quite a beautiful day. I had my meetings with both John and Ryan and we talked about the townhouse I’m planning to rent, and the events I’m planning to have, and it was all very positive and constructive and it made me very happy. I will most likely host a Holiday Party, then have a bigger opening event in January. We talked about how I can organize my space, how I can keep work space and personal space separate, about lights and tables, and many other useful things.

AVM came back from Austin, Lily and I laughed a lot at the party tonight, and I came across the coolest picture John took of me and Nancy the English Pointer. So yes, summer might be over, but Fall has never before felt like such a happy new beginning.

Synchronicity

The day started with a bit of synchronicity that blew my mind: My Escapist sister AVM Hawkins posted on Facebook that while at a conference in Austin she saw one of my prints in a hotel bathroom! There are many levels of magic to this: As we were celebrating Escapism today as part of John Ross Palmer’s 20-Year Retrospective, we were all sad that AVM had to be away from us. Her coming across my art in Austin was thus a good omen, a nice reminder that our Escapist family is united even when we’re geographically apart.

Also, the print is one that has special significance to me, especially right now that I’m working on releasing Lone Wolf, my road trip novel. The print is of a watercolor I painted three years ago, after my magical trip to Marfa with Claudia Curici, inspired by a photograph she took of me in my ruffled pink dress on a deserted road. The experience of being photographed by her in that particular landscape, the feeling of freedom and elation, the wonder at the beauty of the desert surrounding us, made it into the novel. It’s actually a very important moment in the story. So yes, there were so many levels of synchronicity to her seeing that particular image in a hotel in Austin. And I’m happy to report the rest of my day was filled with similar magic.