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Is It Finished?

Sometimes it is quite hard to tell if a painting is finished, even if or probably especially if it’s your own painting. And it’s difficult even if or possibly especially if you love the painting already.

The painting above is a case in point. I do really love it. I love the movement and the suggestion of a giant gathering of birds filling the sky. But I have the nagging feeling that it needs something. Some of the more woowoo teachers will say the painting will tell you what it needs, if you pay attention. What am I missing? you might ask the painting. Or What are you, oh painting, missing? What do you need? What do you want me to do? I like to think of myself as woowoo-ish but I have my limits and I haven’t had much luck chatting with my paintings.

Instead, I stare and I think. Thinking, some say, stifles the making of art.

This is what that one, above, looked like until I stopped staring at it and painted.

What do I need at any given moment? The answer to that question can also be mysterious. Today I really needed to have some fun at pickleball in that specifically pickleball way, e.g. laughing, crying out Aiyiyi!! when I’ve hit the ball way out, going full-on after the ball, and making some great or great-ish shots. That was clear to me. I did go and I did play but I did not get what I needed, and now I’ve come home to stare at that painting off and on all day. How can I be expected to give it what it needs when meeting my own needs is so elusive?

Life can be challenging.

This one is finished, but I can’t really say why.

I do not actually stare at paintings for long periods of time. I do talk to my dogs all day long. I hug certain trees and whisper I love you to one in particular. I call out hello and wave to the moon. I quietly say Eye on the ball at pickleball to myself ten hundred times a day. So maybe having a heart-to-heart with a painting isn’t really that far behind. I will report back if there are any developments.

What about you? Where do you stand on woowoo? Do you commune with any so-called inanimate objects? Do they talk back to you?

“Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind.” ― Winston S. Churchill, Painting As a Pastime

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” ― Vincent Willem van Gogh

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” ― Pablo Picasso

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Tennis Lessons

Inspiration comes from everywhere. My son and I have been watching a lot of tennis lately. I’d mostly always rather play a thing than watch others do it, but I’ve learned that one can take life and even painting lessons from watching others play tennis.

Iga Swiatek, ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association as the world No. 1 women’s singles player is absolutely fierce on the court and at 23, has an incredible record. She says, again and again, that the key for her is staying in the moment. Her focus is on this point–not the endpoint, not the score (she claims sometimes she doesn’t even know the score). She’s assessing what this point needs from her right now. Here and now. (When she’s about to serve, she’s silently saying something. What is it? I want to know.) And when she wins the match, she’ll run around the court, arms wide as if to embrace the whole world, a big smile on her face–the picture of pure joy.

She played Naomi Osaka recently in the French Open. Osaka, former world No. 1, had taken time off to have a child and has returned with a ranking of 134. Their game was amazing. Osaka essentially had nothing to lose going in, and it showed in her play. She seemed loose, free, and unencumbered, and she gave Iga a run for her money. Iga won but still, there’s another nugget of wisdom. Play with joy. Play loose. Play free. Paint with joy. Paint loose. Paint free.

Carlos Alcaraz, asked about his ready smile, said his team tells him he plays his best tennis when he smiles.

So I’ve been feeling pretty low lately about my aging dogs. I’ve had a hard time shaking my malaise, looking ahead with dread to what’s to come and ultimately, to losing them. Failing miserably at staying in the here and now. Only pickleball and Mahjong have taken my mind off of that worry and sadness.

Last week I pulled out a big (36″ x 48″) canvas that I’d bought for $5 at the Salvation Army and gessoed a while back. Hung it on my painting wall, got out happy colors and big brushes, put on the Beatles, and slung some paint around. Painting on a big surface, on the wall, is just so freeing. It’s partly the physicality of it but also the size. And bouncy music always helps. I had no agenda other than wanting to feel better. It was a used canvas–just $5–wouldn’t matter if I made a mess of it. Nothing to lose. So? I was loose and I had fun and I felt better.

I brought my son in to see it and told him basically what I just wrote above, and he said, “That’s how you should always do.” True. Very true. That is just what I should always do. I love my big painting! I love what it stands for and I do love how it turned out. Best of all, it took me out of my funk and into the present moment, at least for a little while. There it is, up at the top of this letter.

Do what you love. Stay in the moment. Set yourself free.

“The sparkle in your eyes which shows up when you do what you love, becomes a starting point to a grand carnival of your new life.” ― Hiral Nagda

“Do what you love. Do what you are. Do what you do.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

“Previous chapter is closed. Doesn’t matter what happened so far this season, good or bad. My mind needs to be clear and I need to focus on what’s coming next.” – Iga Swiatek

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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A Good Day

A couple of pages in my sketchbook with pastels, paint pens and oil crayon

Yesterday I made three paintings, start to finish, on 9″ x 12″ paper. Usually I’ve wanted to paint on biggish canvases. And I work on them for many days, weeks, or even months, changing this or that, maybe changing them completely by the time I’m happy with them. But I made those three paintings and loved them all, in just a few hours!

It was so much fun! I did not intend for any of them to be complete paintings. I was just playing around with stuff, trying out on bigger paper some of the things I’d been doing in my sketchbook. Mixing pastels with acrylic paints. Adding bits of collage. Etc.

I made this earlier in the week, on cheap paper, very unlike my usual bright palette. Love it anyway!

Ever since I saw the Georgia O’Keefe show at MoMA last summer, I’ve been playing with pastels, always along with another medium. Fun! She was experimenting with media and I wanted to, too. I really know nothing about how to properly use pastels but I’ve had a box of them for years and years. I love the tactile enjoyment of spreading the color around on the paper with my fingers, mixing the colors together, making that lovely soft layer. And then I love the surprises that happen when I try something else on top of it.

I taped off the edges of three pieces of watercolor paper from a partially used pad of paper I bought at a thrift shop for $3. So right there, I had very little at stake, in terms of cost. But taping the edges does give a certain finished look to a painting, even one you’re just playing around with, sort of sets a brief that says, “You are making a painting.” And one does want to make something pleasing whenever possible. One doesn’t want to end up with something that looks like “a dog’s breakfast,” as the Brits say.

This is my favorite of the three paintings from yesterday.

I used all kinds of things on these. Fun! Pastel, acrylic paint, pieces of gel plate prints that I had previously made on deli paper (so much fun right there), Posca pens, scraps of previously painted paper, a bit of oil pastel, a tiny scrap of origami paper on two of them. I did not use a brush on them at all, just a handy old credit card for applying paint. I just had a glorious time, playing about with all of these things, like a child. That’s the thing about painting. It takes one back to childhood, at least if as a kid you had crayons or a box of paints. And even moreso if you use your fingers.

But then to also LOVE the finished pieces–well, that is a huge bonus! And it does not always happen. It was a good day.

“It’s a good day to have a good day.”— Hoda Kotb

“Waking up this morning, I smile. 24 brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“As you wait for better days, don’t forget to enjoy today, in case they’ve already started.” — Robert Breault

“None of us knows what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” — Laurie Anderson

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
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We Get To

I got to walk with a friend on this bitter cold day.

Ceasar F. Barajas says, about meditating, “Remember. We don’t have to. We get to.” What a beautiful philosophy for the whole of life.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and trying to remember to switch my “have to” to a “get to” whenever possible. It really does change everything about all those pesky things on your To Do List, things you’d rather not be doing but most likely do in order to enjoy something else.

I decided I didn’t like this painting so I got to paint over it.

Think about it. If we’re not homeless or refugeed or living in a wartorn place, we can most likely change anything we think we have to do into something we are lucky to be able to do. This includes paying taxes and bills, exercising, taking medicine, buying groceries, scraping the ice off the car morning after morning, taking care of our dogs or loved ones, just about anything you can think of. All of these chores, responsibilities and so many more of the things we do can be reframed into privileges, things we wouldn’t get to do if we weren’t privileged in some way.

And it really does flip a little switch in your brain (heart and body) when you catch yourself and say “get to,” instead of “have to.” I get to put gas in the car, even though I’m already late for something, simply because I am able to drive and I actually own a car and I can afford to buy gas. So, great! I may be running late for something else I get to do because I get to fill up my car with gas first.

Lately, I get to cook food for Miles, whom I love, because he has kidney problems now and refuses to eat the packaged kidney diet food. More worry and more cooking. Geez. It gets old. Yet another thing to do. But I have a beautiful dog that I love. And I am able to do something about his problem. I have a stove and pots and pans and I can afford to buy sweet potatoes, rice, etc. and I know how to cook them–so whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed or crabby or impatient about having one more thing to take care of, I get to remember that I get to do it for him.

Try it!

“To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility.” ― Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” ― Brené Brown

“You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. ”― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Prizes? Prizes!

My painting, “Frolic”

This past weekend a local art show was held at the bank downtown where I won Third Place in painting last year. I always enter and I did so again this year. I had intended to write this letter about prizes in art and what they mean, since I was not expecting to win again this year. I was going to write about the roller coaster ride of prizes, shows, acceptance, rejection, and sales.

Well, this year I got First Place in Painting! WOW. I heard the news from a friend. Gobsmacked. Stunned. Very very happy. Told many people the happy news. Right as I was going to bed last night I worried that my friend may have gotten it wrong. Maybe it was Third Place or Honorable Mention and I’d already told all those people I got First. But no. It was true. Wow.

The thing is, a few weeks earlier another of my paintings had been rejected from a show put on by this same arts group. But I am no stranger to rejection, as anyone who’s done art shows will also say. I once met a guy who helped found the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City and after the first couple of years, he was rejected! Another artist I know had his work used on the brochure for a show for which he was rejected. It is not uncommon to win a prize one year and be rejected the next.

So, prizes in art–what do they even mean? Generally, they mean that a particular judge or set of judges really likes your work. It’s great to win, of course. It feels wonderful and I am thrilled. I love my painting and somebody else out there loves it, too! Validation is always welcome when you’re putting yourself out into the world through art or writing or anything creative. I mean, many of us would say that when we show our art, we are essentially saying, “See me. Look at what I did! Love me.” This is why I appreciate those people who take the time to really look at my work as much as I do those who buy it. I feel seen.

Had I not won a prize, my day still would have included something like this. Win!

I will, of course, continue to let people know about this prize. Of course! My painting and ribbon were even shown on the news! Wahoo!! More people to see me, look at what I did, love me. By the time you read this, I will have received my prize in front of everyone gathered there. I will have felt seen and celebrated. As long as I don’t let not winning or being rejected rule me, I’m good.

Prizes encourage me to keep painting, even when the painting is ugly at some point in the middle. Ugh. Prizes help me remember that I have managed to pull other paintings through to the other side. They remind me that I can do it again, even if I have to struggle (as I often do). But they are not everything, by any means. I don’t paint for prizes. I do it because I love doing it. It’s fun and it takes me back to being a kid, playing, getting messy. It is just so much JOY. How lucky am I? Sheesh!

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

“It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people.” ― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” Marc Chagall

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Sold!

“Yosemite”

I just sold a painting I thought I wanted to keep forever. It went to a very good friend who has wanted it for months. (She lives nearby, too.)

I’ve listened to painters talk about the struggle in the creation of a finished piece. The struggle, the failures, the wrong turns, the stress, the self-doubt, destroying a painting to make it better–all real but fairly new to me. Oh, I struggled with a collage now and then, but there you’re shifting the pieces around. You don’t glue them until you’re happy with it. With a painting, you put something down, you might hate it immediately and take it off, or you may like it at the moment and an hour later or the next day, you hate it. A dog’s breakfast.

Me and my painting hanging in the Daum Museum

This painting is significant to me partly because it was such a struggle. I worked and worked on it, again and again rejecting what I had done. And then, suddenly, it was finished. A triumph! I had solved the problems with it. The painting and I had reached an agreement. I fell in love with it. There are many things I love about it: the “string of pearls” at the top, the pops of orange, pink and red, poking through all that luscious blue, the dots and pink circles I made with my fingers, the many layers of color and mark. I felt that I had achieved a certain level of mastery with this one. I love this painting.

Then it was chosen to go to the Daum Museum in Sedalia MO along with art works by several other Missouri artists whom I admire. That was thrilling. It meant that others, people who know a few things about art, felt that it was a triumph, as well. It spent the summer there. And I went with three friends to see my painting hanging in a museum, no less!

Here’s a close-up of the “string of pearls.”

Meanwhile, my friend really wanted it. She was saving a spot on her newly painted wall. She made several overtures. I thought no, I want to keep this one because of what I went through to finish it. We talked. I said I’d see how I felt once I brought the painting home.

Then I realized that, as they say, it’s the doing of a thing that is more important than the thing itself. I will always hold the feeling of my triumph. I will always have the satisfaction of having struggled and broken through to the other side of that struggle. I will always remember the excitement I felt when, suddenly, it was finished and suddenly, I loved it.

I don’t need to have it here in order to feel those things and know those things. I did that. I feel that. That will not go away if the painting goes and lives somewhere else. And my friend really loves it. Aren’t these the things we’re looking for when we create? Our own pleasure and growth in the doing, plus the knowledge that what we’ve made brings joy to someone else? So I leaned towards selling it to her, leaned into the idea, and then, on a gorgeous evening at an outdoor concert, I said I’d love for her to have it if she still wanted it. And her face lit up. So that’s that. Another sudden breakthrough.

I am continually surprised at how painting–creativity in general but somehow painting in particular–teaches me things, helps me grow, adds layers to who I am. Just as I add layers to my paintings, they add layers to me. You cannot beat that. Cannot.

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” ― Pablo Picasso

“The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.” ― Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

“To talk about paintings is not only difficult but perhaps pointless too. You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing– what language can communicate. Painting has nothing to do with that.” ― Gerhard Richter

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Creative Block

“I don’t know how to paint,” I recently told both my son and a good friend. The friend responded, “No painter ever in the history of art has ever thought that, right?” That’s right. Not Van Gogh or any of those others. No one.

So I’ve been struggling with three paintings I’m been working on. Each new thing I try seems to go badly. Or I’ll be happy with one and a few hours later, I think it’s absolutely terrible. A dog’s breakfast, I’d say if I was British. Rubbish. Deserves to be thrown into the bin. Or tossed on the fire. I don’t even have a fire. What then?

And then there are other things. The heat and other things. It’s been a general miasma over here the last little while.

As a result, I’ve been pulling out the old standbys I use to lift my mood. Went to the gym, finally. On the track, I listened to a Gratitude Walk, which turned out to be more like Interval Training with just a hint of gratitude. Kicked my butt but I liked it. Slipped back into the funk after a couple of hours, though. Later concluded I do not know how to paint. Went to the gym the following day, with music on the iPod. Nice but then I required an Epsom salts bath, a nap, and chocolate. Gave my paintings the stink eye.

This is the painting my son wants for Christmas.

Today, however, we had a lovely, breezy, cool morning. I took Miles to Stephens Park and we walked around the lake, which was absolutely lovely. And then I went back out on my own, through the neighborhood, with Ceasar Happily aka Ceasar F. Barajas, a meditation/yoga teacher, narrating “Walk and Chill” on my phone. Oh my Lord! Lovely. Wonderful voice, amazing energy, beautifully encouraging words. And then it started raining. I love being out in the rain and so this was an added bonus. And then Ceasar says, “Now imagine the miracle that is currently happening. You are a walking universe, filled with energetic channels of light and love and electricity, currently walking on an earth that is in the midst of an even bigger universe.” Whoa. And more where that came from.

Okay, you tell me how a person can remain in a funk while hearing those and many other words during a walk in the rain at the end of a very hot week during which that person mistakenly concluded that she does not know how to paint. At all. Pish-posh. I am a walking universe! And I think painting is included in my universe. Funk lifted.

And then my son calls and says he wants for Christmas TWO of my recent paintings. This makes me very, very happy.

“When I have a creative block, I take walks. I like to see what shapes stick out – so many legs rushing by at once, it can seem abstract. I don’t need to see great art to get stirred up. Music does that for me more easily.” — Caio Fonseca

“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint, boy, and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent van Gogh

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” — Maya Angelou

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Gentle Highlights

I’m not talking about hair color. I’m thinking of all the soft high points to the events of a life. In the last couple of weeks I had my solo show opening and reception; family and friends visiting; Thanksgiving; and then my Holiday Open Studio. Although the show opening was a very big life event for me, the things that stand out today, after all is done and dusted, are those small things that mean so much.

My son Peter and my sister Mary flew in from the East and West Coasts. Many friends and acquaintances showed up for the opening and Peter put the hard sell on a few of them. He poured wine at the reception, took photos, bought paintings himself. His girlfriend sent flowers. At dinner after, with family and friends, I looked down the long table at all these important people in my life, loving how much they were enjoying each other, and I made a little speech of thanks, especially for everything my two sons had done to make this happen. Oliver had seen me through the early days of trying to paint, photographed all the pieces, tried to salvage my homemade frames and ultimately framed and wired the paintings properly. I wanted to thank them publicly.

Peter putting the hard sell on his former PE teacher

Mary and Peter stayed on for Thanksgiving, which was so much fun for me. They doubled our usual number for Thanksgiving dinner. The four of us, my two sons and we two sisters, worked hard but convivially together to make a fabulous meal, along with hand cranked ice cream. We ate like great pigs. The four of us played games after dinner, and Mary won all of them! She and I played Christmas duets on the piano when the boys were out. We took many walks in all my favorite places. The dogs were loved upon.

It was the first Thanksgiving in many years that I had not made a list of all I’m thankful for. I really didn’t need to write anything down. All the things are very present with me.

After Mary and Peter had both gone, I jumped right into getting ready for my Open Studio. It twas great, but again, it’s the small moments that I will remember, the people, the friends, old and new, the ones who surprised me as well as the faithful. All the little things stand out. An artist sent me a note, thanking me for sending people to her sale, despite uncomfortable history between us. A neighbor who didn’t realize I’d started painting came to see, and looked carefully through my book from the show. A young abstract artist I barely know looked through the book, too. He was full of praise, invited me to come and talk art with him! And there was so much more. There always is, I think, so much more.

Yes, having a solo show of my paintings is a very big deal to me. But all of the quiet moments are, too.

“Life is not measured by time. It is measured by moments.” ― Armin Houman

“Everyone has the desire to freeze a wonderful moment they are in, just like a camera, and stay in that moment forever!” ― Mehmet Murat Ildan

“You must collect moments. Those will be the true wealth of your soul.” ― Liviu C. Tudose

If you’d like to see my paintings online, go here. If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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Much Ado About Something

This morning, after months of painting and planning, I hung my show. Ahh.

I woke at 3:30 this morning, dozed fitfully for an hour. Finally I just gave up and got up at 4:30. So many things on my mind–family coming from West and East coasts for my big little event; others coming in for other reasons; the reception; Thanksgiving; this, that, and the other needing to be done and made ready. So very many things to think about and do. My checklists have been completed and replaced day after day.

My energetic, ever-helpful friend and I arrived at the bank, paintings in hand, to find a Christmas tree in one corner of the space. Hmm. Seemed to be a problem. But the wonderful, all-knowing Executive Director of the Columbia Art League, Kelsey, suggested a change of layout that might accommodate both the tree and the paintings. We switched out two large paintings for these two small ones, one of which could be seen as a snowy landscape and the other looking bright and festive. We hung one on either side of the tree. Voila! She was right. It’s perfect.

Bonnie, me and Kelsey

So with the help of these two great gals, my solo show has been hung and we had fun doing it. All of it, really, has been happy work–the painting itself, the planning, and all the doing, so very much doing, more doing than I had imagined. Well, most of the doing was fun. The framing fiasco? Not fun. Cards have gone out, wine has been bought, the Art League is promoting the heck out of it, and all is well. I am happy. Whatever happens from here on out, I’m happy.

I am grateful to so many people for their help! I will be especially thankful this Thanksgiving Day for all the people in my life who make my world a better place. As the effervescent Bonnie likes to say, “I’m livin’ the dream.”

“Have the wisdom to perceive all there is to be thankful for, and then be thankful for the wisdom to perceive things so clearly.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons

“Today I focus my thoughts on the wonderful things that are. I focus my heart on the full-filling things that will be . . . and I give thanks.” ― Angie Karan

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou

If you’re looking for my paintings, go here. If you want cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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What’s In a Name?

Every painting wants a name, I feel. How would you like to go your whole life known (and I use the term loosely) as Untitled? I don’t think you would. I know I wouldn’t! After all we’ve been through together, that painting and I, it seems rather unseemly to leave it an orphan, without a name to be remembered by. Rather like leaving a child unnamed. I just cannot do it. To that end, I have wracked my brain to title all of my paintings for my upcoming solo show.

I am aware that I’ve put mountains of perhaps undue import on this. I do intend to make many more paintings before the jig is up. It’s not like these are the last paintings I’ll ever make. It’s not the same as having that last baby and struggling to choose the perfect name for him, since you know he will be the last, i.e., Oliver. My sons have, in order of age, one- two- and three-syllable names that are perfect (not to brag) and that go together perfectly, I feel. Cole, Peter, Oliver. Unique but not weird. Backwards, if you want weird (or Elven)–Eloc, Retep, and Revilo.

Still, being a word person, I have wanted these paintings to have wonderful names, and the show itself to have an auspicious name. I wrote many pages of ideas, exploring various themes. I wrote them in bed, while watching the world come awake. I wrote them on the couch, in the company of my dogs. I wrote them at my desk. I pored over them, consulting the dictionary and the Thesaurus again and again, reconsidering them at various points. I contemplated some of my favorite odd words, such as malarkey, hullaballoo, panjandrum. Musical terms, Tarot words, portmanteaus from Alice in Wonderland, nature terms, nautical terms, place names, on and on. The world of words is my oyster. Possibilities are endless.

Finally, the deed is done! The paintings are named, the babies are put to bed, the names have been sent off to the lovely gal in charge of the whole shebang. The show’s title, “Course Made Good,” has a nautical meaning. If you come to the show or view it online (both of these coming soon), you’ll see. Or you can look it up! It struck me as relevant to my life.

What, exactly, is in a name? Loads. A world. A person. An idea.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,
Kay

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”