Category Archives: Daily Dog

Do what you can do

Today I have taken yet another day to do things slowly, to allow a plethora of new medicinals to take hold of this winter’s cold symptoms.  I stumbled upon a Keith Haring quote on the instagram page of Sketchbook Crafts which I know to be true and which I jotted into my own book, even as I chased the colors around my own sketchbook, doodling my magical canine beings.

Of late, I have pondered the notion of activism.  What can we do in the times ahead which are shaping up to be very different indeed. There are those who will march together on the day following the Inauguration of the vile new leader of the free world.   (Alas, I am signed up to take an art class, but my heart is with the marchers here in my town, and in DC.)

And there are those who use their fame and cultural influence for good (unlike some.)

But there are quieter avenues of activism as well.

The mere act of making some art feels like activism to me. As does teaching it to people who may think art is not theirs for the doing.  Open up one’s heart to their own making and there is no telling the sea changes which can occur.   In the coming weeks I am taking some remedial Spanish classes to re-learn a language I once spoke as a child.  This too feels like activism.  The class is in preparation for another trek down to Guatemala to do some sketching and exploring for future workshops there (stay tuned!!).  But I also would like to do more volunteer work in my community with folks who might not know English yet.  Small things, yes.  But perhaps they can stem the tide of where the election seems to be taking us.

So today, I do what I can do.  Everyday the light returns, as does my vim and vigor, and with that, some hope for better days.


Homestate Tourism


A couple of days ago I took the plunge to schedule a trip on my own back down to Guatemala to scout out a new sketch trip option, the lovely town of Antigua.  I will meet up with friends there next March who know the area and will be there already on a service trip.  And I will explore the town as a tourist and as an artist and as a teacher.  It’s exciting to think about offering a second sketch-travel option to the wheel of my working year and I will certainly keep you posted as this new workshop develops.  Of course, my Taos based class offered at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House will continue to grow and change on its own as well from year to year, and hopefully for years to come.

All of this booking and planning, along with our recent and up and coming travel has me thinking a lot about the notion of tourism.  My practice of keeping a travel journal, even for the mundane day to day, developed out of a desire to be more mindful and grateful for what is right here in front of me.  It has worked, and continues to work for me, whether I’m doing any actual sketching or not.  I’ve learned to open my eyes to things through this practice.  It’s a true gift.

And so yesterday, with artful eyes wide open, my Hub and I took a day to drive to out to Clifton Gorge, near the town of Yellow Springs, Ohio for a hike, and to be tourists for the day in our own neck of the woods.  Something I’ll admit I forget to do at times being so busy running off to other seemingly more exciting places.



The gorge is a natural thing, having been created amidst the havoc of the glacial era of our state’s history.  It is deep and mysterious and we could hear the roar of its river as soon as we began our hike through the woods.



Often times here in our region, nature has been altered in some way, such as a river dammed up to create the lakes we sometimes kayak, so it’s really nice to visit something that feels so wildly unstructured. And yet, there were nice touches of the man-made along the path, created in the days of the CCC, which reminded us that we weren’t so far from civilization.


We hiked for a good while on the path, photographing and taking note of things along the way.  It felt good to just move so I didn’t do much sketching until later in the day.  Sometimes knowing when to sketch and when not to worry about it all is part of the fun.







All of the water that rushes through the gorge prompted early settlers to build mills to harness the power of the water.  After our hike we visited the old Clifton Mill, still in operation as a mill and restaurant.




Eventually, we were a bit thirsty, so we stopped for a beer at the local brewery.


This place not only has delicious beer but also has a ‘no television’ policy in place which thrilled me.  One of my deepest annoyances with the modern world is this idea that there must be a television going at all times in all places.  One can hardly escape it these days so it was really a treat to enter a place where people were conversing and enjoying each other’s company.  While dogs are not permitted inside the brewery itself, they do have a lovely back porch area where dogs are welcome.   So, now comfortably seated by the bike path, we did pull out the sketchbooks.  I doodled the dogs.



All in all, it was a beautifully spent, perfect October day.  We could have stayed home and done chores, sure.  But instead we opted to be tourists in this beautiful place we call home.  Ohio.

It’s true that I often think of living elsewhere once again, perhaps a place near a pebbly sea-shoreline I could walk each day.  These wishes persist.


But for now, we are here in Southwestern Ohio.  And, to be quite honest, not entirely unhappy with it.  Being a tourist for the day right here at home was a nice reminder of contentment.

Why we love a snowy day



Beneath the hill where the Red Wolf Howls….

redwolf howling 

There is a line of trees where Squirrel Folk dwell….

we know youre up there

On a snowy day we can clearly see the paths they have traveled and track their every move amongst the trees….


squirrel chase 3

Although we never catch them….


squirrel chase 2

We are always up for the chase….


squirrel chase

Which is good fodder for the artist’s little book of days.


Snowy day dogs sketch

And quite the excuse to nap a bit on the warm, radiant floor in the kitchen.


warm concrete is a doggie soul balm.

What do you love about snowy days?

A lacy November dusting

fairyland dusting

We awoke this morning to the gift of a magical dusting of snow, courtesy of a storm system nearby that will likely reek havoc elsewhere.  But for us, it transformed and beautified our little acre of land, muffling out the  sounds of the rest of the world and creating a bit of an other-world for just us.

fairyland dusting 2

Being on the protected side of the house and under a stately pine tree, The Girls didn’t get quite as much snow in their yard, but enough to make them wonder at the sight of it all.

the girls

Wise ones seemed to enjoy peeking out from their hidden places and I spent a good deal of time outside listening to the hush of the atmosphere holding its breath.

snow goddess

wise one peeking

Not all of the wise ones were out of doors.



I am in a place of being quite caught up in day-job tasks at the Concertina Shop but a bit behind in studio related tasks this week.  This, along with it being a week holiday here in the States, I have opted to hover nearer to home in order to feed and water my more artful work. Of course, I have a few things to share with you!

First off, my tiny world-wandering hamster friend, Ginger Small has been collecting the small bits of work I’ve made lately, mostly experiments from my perspective, but to her, these are praise deserving works which might stand a chance at the market.  And so she has convinced me to throw my hat back into the etsy ring and sell a few of these tiny works.  In the coming weeks, Ginger and I will be building a little page on the blog just for this endeavor and she will be sharing her offerings both here and in her own virtual spaces as well.  It is her hope that these Tiny Art Works for Tiny Spaces will appeal to those like her who prefer tiny spaces in which to live.  Do stay tuned!!  As I learn more about Ginger’s character, and the story she may want to tell the world, I am learning that she is artful, and worldly, and yet a little shy.  So with baby steps, (micromovements, if you will!) Ginger and I are nudging each other to get more out into the world with our offerings.  This seems doable with the right smock and a palette of colors at hand.

Ginger curates


The works below are unavailable online, as one has already sold and the other is up for grabs at the gift shop of the Kennedy Heights Arts Center, where I am a member of the Artist’s Collective.  If you are local to this river valley of ours, stop into this lovely shop and see the artful wares peddled there by many talented artists! If you are not local but interested in a Tiny Painting, offerings will be posted soon, in plenty of time for Yule-time gift giving.  But I did want to give you a whiff of what you will be seeing in Ginger’s little gallery very, very soon.

*(also, quick side note, I have a Selkie Series painting in the current winter show at KHAC called All Things Unexplained, which features many works of art about the hidden world of urban myth, fairytale and folklore. Stop in if you can!)

Northern Lights Northern SeaIMG_5775

In the spirit of ‘getting things out into the world’, I have been sharing the Taos trip opportunity with everyone I can! I even created a little video about the art of Illuminated Journaling which includes some Taos trip imagery.  Registrations have begun to come in, just in time for the Dec 15th early-bird discount which can save you $200 on the retreat.  I don’t want to share too much just yet, but there will also be a Go Forth and Doodle give-away to celebrate the last two weeks of the early-bird opportunity.  So stop by later this week for details about that!

Now, all work and no play makes for a dull week, even if it is studio centered, so when my mom asked me yesterday to join her to visit some puppies she wants to adopt, I jumped at the chance.  And so we drove through a brisk Indiana countryside to see these little youngsters to begin paring down her choices.  She recently lost her old rescued golden retriever who was truly one of the kindest creatures I have ever known.  These new pups have some golden in them but also a bit of poodle, which will make for a smaller bodied dog, the better for someone a little older to deal with as the pup grows.

puppies 2

I am not at all sure how she will make her eventual choice…

puppies 1

…as they are all pretty darn cute, and full of puppy curiosity and zip.


puppies 3

But I have a sense I know which one it could be. It will be good to have a puppy around once again.  All of our dogs, collectively speaking, are getting on in years and have settled into life as Older Dogs With Mellow Temperaments.  I love this.  But I also pine for an addition to our pack, a lap sized one like I had when I was a girl.  Perhaps this is a sign of old age, but I welcome it, as I might a new pup of my own.  For now though, I will play with this one upon her arrival to her new home in the coming weeks and probably get a few sketches made of her as well, as puppies are fun to doodle.

potential chosen one




Dog Dreams

It’s finally winter here, at least for now, and aside from the incessant not-quite-daylight quality of gray that permeates this time of year here, I welcome it.  It’s a little trickier to find stuff to draw (and not freeze one’s fingers off) so I turn to the dogs, as is often the case.  (click the pic below for a taste of what they might be dreaming of….)

Iris and River are the perfect models for sketching, unlike the zoo animals I encountered yesterday, who seemed to be constantly on the move.  (but dang, aren’t they precious???)

In spite of that motion, I did get a couple sketches made of the elephants….

It was such a treat to have the zoo mostly to ourselves.

Fellow illustrator, Linda Bittner (amazing website HERE) and I made a pact to sketch at the zoo, in spite of the cold weather and we were both glad to have made the effort.  We were rewarded with a warm Illustrator’s Group lunch afterwards where we shared recent work and slices of encouragement for everyone on this journey of Art as a Living.  My niece LuLu stopped by for a quick hello and we all agreed she is now an honorary member of the group.  (She’ll be awarded full membership when she can sit up straight in her high chair and hold her own tea cup.)

You may have met LuLu in this earlier sketch I posted on the twitter/facebook realm…

In other news, and in the interest of coming back ’round to this post’s title, I finally got my hands on the hard copy of my good friend Kim Taylor‘s new record, Love’s A Dog.

I’ve watched and listened to this body of work come to life over the last year or more and am so tickled to see it finally in print.  I love my girl Kim, and her amazing music.  Like many of my artist friends, she has more than one iron in the fire.  This week she’s out at the Sundance film festival promoting a film in which she plays a lead role, I Used To Be Darker.  There’s a ton of buzz going on about this indie film and I wish the team all the best as they strut their stuff out in Utah.  Go get ’em, girlie!!  (And then come home for a long walk with the dogs and a cup of coffee.)

Happy holiday

We have seen much rain and fog here lately which makes the swing of the year’s pendulum back toward the longer days and shorter nights a welcome notion.  When there is too much darkness, we light candles…..

And curl up for naps in our cozy beds.

And occasionally, the clouds part and remind us of all the beautiful stars in the sky.

It has been a delightfully busy time in recent weeks.  I’m continuing to practice the art of bringing marionettes to life in preparation for my first performance in January.  The Frisch Marionettes are old-school gorgeousness and when I am around them I feel I am a part of a centuries old puppetry tradition, which, I suppose, I am….

In between puppetry practice and building concertinas at my other Best Job Ever at Carroll Concertinas I have managed to put together some drawings for a small commission I was offered.  The task was to sketch 3 dogs who are cousins.  One of the pups, the older wire haired terrier had recently passed away and so I worked from photos of her, as well as of the new puppy in that household, neither of whom I had the pleasure of meeting.  It is a challenge to capture the personality of dogs I have never met but I went with what I could glean from the photos and from my meeting with the scrappy little dog Sandy whom I did have a chance to spend some time with.  The results were well received and I think the recipients of these drawings on Christmas morning will be delighted with them.

Although I never met Mulligan, apparently I captured a bit of her spirit in this sketch.  I was so happy to do so!

Commissions were not the only thing brewing in the studio however.  It is the season of giving and so I have been elf-busy creating some handmade gifts for Christmas as well as some overdue wedding presents.  My friend Simone is a wonderful artist and had some amazing ideas for hand made votive candles made of beeswax as well as some tiny terrarium necklaces which are just so fetching that I made one for myself!!

The votives started as water balloons dipped in wax and ended up like this:

They smell amazing and cast a wonderful warm glow.

These tiny terrariums contain moss and a crystal and are sealed with beeswax.  I just  love them!  This is the first time I have built terrariums at this scale, but I have had an interest in larger ones for a long while now.  I put together a couple of big ones to present as wedding gifts and am so excited with how they turned out.

While out and about choosing gifts for my loved ones, I came across a strand of labradorite beads which I decided to fashion into a Solticey necklace along with some moonstone beads I had laying around.  These baubles look especially fetching against the back drop of pottery by my friend Lisa.

And so the days continue to pass….

We found time to choose a tree…

and to bring it home.

In spite of the busy-ness of the season with semester exams for the kids and school concerts to attend, we have also found time to celebrate this season in my most favorite way, with music.  I enjoy attending irish-music sessions whenever I can, but the best ones are often near the holidays when the college kids and young adults are back in town and we can all catch up on long over due tunes together.

I sincerely hope this holiday season is good to you, no matter how you celebrate it. May you be blessed with a chance to rest and reflect, to spend time with loved ones, and to play your own tune…..



Bits of things

Meet Sandy.  Sandy is a sweet terrier mix of a dog whom I’ve come to meet recently so I could put together some drawings for her family.  It’s been forever since I have done much dog drawing.  I used to draw my old terrier, Caskie, quite a bit.  There is something irresistible about a scruffy, scribbly dog.  I adore my current caramel colored pups, Iris and River, but I don’t draw them as much as I would someone who is inherently more bed-headed.  Already I am a huge fan of Miss Sandy and her squirrel-obsessed intensity, which only a terrier can really pull off with such grace and seriousness of purpose.

Another new character in my life in recent days is this little guy, Gepetto, a Frisch Marionette with whom I’m working to practice many of the basic moves necessary to give a marionette The Illusion of Life.  Gepetto is a bit heavier and more difficult to maneuver than little Peter Page was but it’s important for me to work with many different puppets as I’m learning the ropes (so to speak).  I am really having a blast getting a hold of this new skill and can’t wait until shows start in January.

I took a day last week to meet for coffee and then bop around the art museum with a friend.  It was a gorgeous sunny day perfect for seeing beauty in the smallest things.  I was captivated by this gate at the coffee shop we visited.

The museum was as enchanting as usual.  Inspiring right down to each brush stroke.  Here are a couple of favorites from this visit….

I wonder what (or whom) she is thinking of……

My hub celebrated his birthday yesterday so we spent much of the day taking in a good bit of all that Cincinnati has to offer on a Saturday.  A Frisch production of Hansel and Gretel, lunch at a new tomato soup & grilled cheese place downtown called Tom and Chee, a visit to the endless shelves of The Ohio Bookstore (I could spend hours in there browsing all of the old tomes.  And, it’s a secret desire of mine to someday have a rolling library ladder in my very own home with which to reach the highest books on the shelf!), an afternoon bourbon toast at the historic and charming Washington Platform restaurant, and some shopping at the even more historic and charming Findlay Market.  We topped off the day with a fancy-full dinner at Cincinnati icon, the Precinct Restaurant.  It had been 12 years since we last went and the kids had never been, this being one of those Very Special Occasion places.  It was a treat for all to sit down to such fabulous food at a slow, fancy dinner pace with lovely lighting and the perfect company of my little family.  It was truly a fun and fabulous day.

As we gear up for Thanksgiving around these parts, my daughter and her teammates are working hard putting the finishing touches on their dance choreography routine for the big Oireachtas competition in Chicago next weekend.  Today they rehearsed in wigs and dresses to get the feel of performing in full regalia.  It was adorable to see them in their mismatched socks and no make-up, but we got to see a hint of what they are made of as the Oireachtas draws nigh.  It might look like a bunch of hair and fabric, but under all of it are some amazing athletes.  Best of luck to all the McGing Dancers next weekend!!


keepin’ on

Here’s my new sketchbook cover for the Taos trip which is just 2 weeks away….  It’s collaged from an antique postcard I got in Taos last time I was there along with some other snippets from the collage supplies suitcase.  With my practice of drawing everyday until I leave I am very close to finishing my last book…

With working so hard, one must have helpers:

And I am already looking ahead to some projects about which I will keep you posted as they progress…

I am now off to tackle a busy spring weekend!!!

keeping up

Day three of my self-imposed challenge to draw and post some drawing of some sort everyday leading up to the Taos trip, here are today’s doodles. They are the Daily Dog!!! It’s been so long since I have posted in the Daily Dog category, mostly because these dogs, whom you may remember as puppies, seldom sit still. But today is a good day for relaxing. A little bit of rare sunshine to lie in….

As much as I love these caramel colored dogs we currently have, I truly miss my old Caskie.  We named him after a favorite Maine writer of ours, Caskie Stinnett.  Here’s a quote from Mr. Stinnett and a glimpse into why we loved his writing so much…

“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ” ~Caskie Stinnett

Have a great rest of your day folks.  I am off for some lunch and then a few hours of paid work.  Go forth and doodle.  That’s an order.  🙂


We’ve been working a bit on the 2010 household tax returns in recent weeks.  Last night it was time to add up all of my receipts and measure them up to my earnings from the year.  It was a dismal year to say the least, at least monetarily.  Even with the mural work early last year, the loss of two of my jobs has changed my earning landscape quite a bit.  I feel a tremendous, albeit slow, shift in my work life and the growing pains are difficult.  Last month’s trip to the Arts Enterprise Summit really opened my eyes to where I am along the journey of making a name for myself in the business of art-making.  I am by no means a newbie.  I have an established blog with a distinct voice to it and a loyal, though quiet, following (‘fans’ of my work are more prone to emailing than commenting).  The work I do in my Drawing Down the Vision partnership with Adam has further opened me up to the idea that what I bring to the table with my creative skill-set is of value and could provide me with some income.

Money and art-making are a tricky partnership psychologically and I have worked hard in recent years to come to grips with the issues.  I have come across many artists who have turned their art work or their blog or other creative skills into a living and I look to them as guiding lights on my own career path.  Remember yesterday’s fellow smoothie drinker from Wales, Michael Nobbs?   He has done extensive research on creativity and how to foster it and sustain it.  He has recently come out with a subscription to his thoughts and writings for a mere $2 a month.  Today I subscribed to his newsletter, figuring it’s about the cost of a cup of coffee, only once a month.  I really love what I have read on his blog thus far, I appreciate his rather no-non-sense approach to art making (like the idea of just making it a habit, like coffee) and frankly, I am willing to pay this small price to get more in depth into his take on creating and sustaining an artful life.  I highly recommend you check out the work he is doing and support it if you are ready to move your own work along a little further down it’s distinct path.  After all….

Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you!”  ~Dr. Suess

Another artist who has a blog so juicy you could pay for it is Rima Staines.  I’ve linked to her website here before so you already know, I am a fan.  Recently Rima added a ‘donate’ button to her site encouraging readers to contribute if her ‘Hermitage has rung bells in your spirit’.  I am here to tell you that when I am once more gainfully employed again (new part time job starting soon…) I will be throwing a coin (or two) into her hat to keep her ‘in teabags and ink’.  I am contemplating going the same route with this blog and would love to hear some thoughts from readers about this idea.

While I have been fortunate to be able to take my career one tiny baby step at a time, many artists have had to make tough financial decisions around their art work just to pay the rent and keep the wolves from the door.  My long time friend Michelle Ann Miller, an artist living and working in Sheboygan, Wisconsin is one of these artists.  Michelle created the Nothing New Project a number of years ago and set about documenting a year where she did not purchase anything new that she could not otherwise obtain used, or create herself.  This practice served her well by keeping her expenses down and giving her a platform and structure from which to create some interesting work.  She is still blogging and still finding creative ways to make a living and documents them in the newer version of her blog, {almost}nothing new.

So these are just a few of my thoughts on the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ that is Making a Living as an Artist.  But it’s not all seriousness all the time around here.  There is always time for puppy play time and a doodle or two…