Category Archives: Uncategorized

Raising Boys in the Post-Modern Era

Big title, I know. Insert my Feminist ideals about raising contentious and well-rounded boys here. In all honesty, this is really a post about connecting with your children and giving them tools to help themselves be creative and resourceful. 

Today I taught Milo the basics of sewing on a machine. He asked me a few days ago if I would teach him how and I hesitant to let a five year old use a sewing machine but then I remembered that this is the same kid who has two knives and can handle an ax and saw better than most adults. I also remember the hours I spent as a child hunched over my mom’s machine making my own clothes from scratch, totally in the zone, pinning, cutting, tearing out and problem solving until the design was just right. 


My good friend is pregnant with her third child and recently found out that she is having a girl after birthing two boys. I have to admit that my mommy heart pinged with jealousy and the thought of having a girl to share all of my crafty, home cooking goodness with. Then I stopped myself. I can share so much of who I am and what I know as well as what my momma, aunties, and Grammy taught me with my boys regardless of their gender. Boys are capable of finding interest and satisfaction in all of the traditional female occupations. My boys already care for their baby dolls and help fold laundry. My boys show gratitude by making things and caring for others. Why not learn how to sew?


Our first sewing project was this pretty sweet pair of knit play pants. We just traced a pattern from his favorite jammies and thirty minutes later, ta-da, pants. He was so proud to make something useful out of a discarded piece of fabric. My little one was patient and cautious. We just had one of those afternoons that as a mom, I hope they don’t forget. Big hands guiding little hands. Parenting nirvana when it goes well. 



My first blog post on bartering. So many trades. So many connections. Thank you dear friends.

Drawing a Blank

I was talking to my mom the other day and she was asking me if lots of people were buying my work. The answer is no. A few pieces have sold and I am super grateful for that. She was saying that the sentiment that she heard from people was, “if only I had a $100.” It bummed me out and I immediately made a list in my mind of all the beautiful supportive people who have followed this project and shown their appreciation for our work. Why should only the people who have $100 get to have a painting? My efforts are worth something, yes. But are they only worth money?

In my mom’s new novel she wrote about a place where dollars don’t have value:

As Sachi ushered Adam and Gertrude into her bakery new aromas overwhelmed his senses—cinnamon, yeast, nutmeg and something rich and warm like roasting…

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Mistakes will be made. They will be mended.

 I drop the ball. I fall down. I get up. I try again. I never finished my 32 days. I fall asleep every night with an unfinished to do list and you know what? It is ok, I think. A very good friend of mine once told me that I could have it all, just not right now.

I have had a series of massive fails as of late and it is humbling. I typically manage pretty well and take care of business. Failure is humbling in that it reminds me that I must pay attention to my connections. If connections to people, ideas, my body are not mindfully cultivated, they fall away and fall away quickly. The connection I feel to the work that I have created over the past two years is immense. I thought that I was clearheaded about why I make art until I was sitting at a lecture at an art education conference and a woman said that creativity occurs within giving and receiving. I was floored. The statement was so simple. Connectivity through making, giving, and receiving on all levels is exactly what draws  me to the creative process. I have always made work with a social message having to do with what people do for each other and I’ve found my spirituality in scientific theory about cellular and molecular connectivity. Energy, intention, and action from big to small is central to my creative process.

Now that I have this clarity in my work, I am ready to paint again. It is my goal to host a happening in which the viewer/participant determines the worth of pieces within a new body of work and in that creates a connection through the trade of goods, services or currency. The art is in the giving and receiving. All I need is a venue.

I am also ready to seek the same kind of clarity in my own world, my own interactions. I want to give and to receive in balance.  Time to dust myself off and move forward. Who’s in?

“My mom spanks me and I have a knife,” says the five year old.

I do NOT spank my children but that’s what the little stinker told the pediatrician with a devilish smile at his five year old check up in May. Not a minute later he shared that he also has a knife (she thinks I’m a great mom.)

Milo and his papa are super sculptors. All made with actual tools. Saws, drills, hammers, nails, paint.

I once asked my 87 year old grandfather how old he was when he got his first pocket knife. He said he thought he was two or three. Things were different back then, sure. But kids didn’t have different brains, people just had different expectations of what they were capable of. In some cultures children as young as one use knives and tend fires.

Milo got his first knife on his fifth birthday. A hand-me-down fixed blade from his dad. He also has a little green Swiss army knife on a string. He really just loves to use the tweasers in “emergency” situations.

Robot man still needs a head

My kids do dangerous things. And I let them, on purpose. Milo spent the better part of his day hammering nails and rocking out to his weather radio. When he was two, he hammered ten nails into the back fence without slipping once. He tinkers, he builds, he figures out how stuff works.

Made while rockin’ out to some classic rock of th FM dial.

We all know that school tends to be a creativity killer. There’s just no time to let children discover things on their own and god forbid there be any danger involved. The litigious nature of our society forbids danger, forbids the unknown.  When we are overly cautious and rigid, we find ourselves cultivating fear and indecisiveness in ourselves and our children (talk about fear and indecision, I just rewrote that sentence five times). Children need safe and comfortable boundaries, of course. But if you’ve ever seen a child tinker, it is something to behold. Give a little person a bunch of junk or a knife a rope and the woods and just see what unfolds.

A reflector is cautious, right?

People are meant to solve problems and master tools. I want to afford my children the opportunity to fail safely with a scrape and a hug rather than to send them off to a world that the expect to be safe and truly isn’t.

Oh no, the little one is outside…without shoes!

If you’ve never heard of Gever Tully, his tinkering school and his book 50 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Children Do, you have to check him out. He puts power tools in the hands of second graders and these kids make amazing things, like a functioning roller coaster! In his book, he encourages kids to lick a battery (he always explains the science behind it) or to hammer a nail or god forbid, walk home from school, alone! When I first read the book, I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of the 50 dangerous things my brother and I had done as children. We went in weird tunnels,blowed stuff up, played with dry ice, and hung out in the woods. My parents let us be children, they allowed us to explore, play, imagine and discover.

I’m not sure how much has really changed (everything, nothing at all) since I was a child or even when my grandfather got his first knife but what I do know is that there never seems to be enough time or space to examine, reflect on, resolve, repair and create the world around us. Why not allow children the gift of production, to be able to work through failure and frustration to figure something out using their little person brains and hands.

A page from Gever Tulley’s 50 Dangerous Things.

Cool Tricks. Cool Tricks.

Sunday evening. That lovely time when I crawl into bed after a weekend with the family and run the checklist of all of the things I didn’t get done and all the things waiting for me at work. Alas, the cleaning of the downstairs bathroom will have to wait until 8:30 tomorrow night because I have  paintings to make and blogs to write.

Vibration, frequency,life.

Here we go. People I know can do some pretty amazing things. I have a cousin who is double jointed in his shoulders, a friend who can do the  splits, I can even touch my tongue to my nose (you’re so impressed right now). What I really mean is those people who make something out of a few materials and a sweet idea. Below is a shout out to a few super creative people I know (I’ll be featuring creatives on the blog from time to time, especially those who are game to swap).  Please check out what they do and show them some love. All their contact info can be found at the end of this post.

Chris the carpenter’s alley score pallet shed

A patio for my hubby’s client. Brick and marble.

German Murillo turned my living room into a photo studio!

Kassia’s Pasta Farm makes amazing pasta and swaps it for art on occasion

Chris Smolik, artist, handy man, breaker of bones.

Jonathan Fessler, the man in charge at Fessler Masonry.

German Murillo, Photo pioneer.

Kassia, pasta maven.

Day Three

Wow. Umm. It is a lot harder to find time to paint with a full-time job and two big boys than it was when I was a stay at home momma with a sleepy infant and a toddler in preschool. All the same, it still feels so damn good to clear a few inches of clutter from the drafting table in the studio and just make something. Wyatt painted right along side me this time. The little bear is really growning up.

Anywho, it has been a looooong week and I am worked over. A nice, long post coming your way on Sunday evening.  For tonight, some eye candy in the form of a close up of Day Three.

String theory

Two years later

It was two years and a few days ago that I started 100 Days. I feel this impulse to say something smarmy about being on a great big journey with twists and turns and ups and downs, etc. but isn’t that just life? Some things change, some things stay the same.

Hi, it’s me. I’m Mobile now.

Let’s talk about the changes. My boy started kindergarten! The kid in the Robin costume with the bag on his head is a school boy! Milo was so proud of himself when we all rode bikes to his first day of school. I snuck a peek in his classroom the other day and he was polishing silver (I really do ❤ Montessori). I’m glad this is a skill he’s developing as I have so much silver on hand.

Milo’s first day of kindergarten.

Anyways, Wyatt has developed into a whole person of his own who is happy as a clam and any time he is not he has taken to calling us all meany heads. I’m sure we are total meany heads and deserve to be called such. Jon is doing  his masonry/full-time college student/Dad thing and being awesome at it.

Happy Juice

And me, I’ve been good. When that Dentist told me to chill last spring, I took her advice. I spent the summer wrapped in the warm embrace of my children (when I wasn’t prying them apart or trying to keep them from screaming, of course.)  Now I’m back at work actually doing a job that I really love. Teaching art to little people and helping to develop some Project Based Learning in the classrooms. It is my job to make sure that our students are thinking, being creative, and solving problems, so cool. The point is that I stopped trying to be something bigger than who I already am and it felt pretty nice. I gave myself permission to just be.

Some great arty things came my way and I managed to pull of some really awesome swaps (more about the art stuff in my next post). Art making is part of who I already am and because of that I’ve decided to give myself a renewal challenge. I will paint 32 paintings in 32 days to commemorate my birthday and the 100 Days project. I will blog every other day or so and we’ll see how things unfold.

Day One, getting the rust out.

Day 1, I had this impulse to pull tight into the composition and gradually release the form and color like conception or birth or growth. It feels good to be back fully in my skin and ready to work. As always, if you see or read something you like or want to comment on, please do.