Tag Archives: Wind around the toy box

’tis the season

Ok, so maybe it’s still 20 degrees outside.  Yeah, and maybe it snows, at least a little, almost every day.  And, I’ll admit to some pretty nasty icy patches out on the drive.  In my mind, however, it’s just about spring time.  Perhaps its just me in psychological survival mode but there are real signs that things are thawing out.  Just a few minutes down the road in Kentucky, my friend Justin‘s chicken’s are laying eggs already and we are delighted to take a dozen home each week.  They are from happy, free roaming chickens and are lovely shades of browns, blues and greens.  Way more fun than the plain white ones.

Meanwhile, my old amaryllis bulb is back up for it’s late winter show.  It never ceases to amaze me the life force to be found in a flower bulb.  This plant grows so fast and furious, it doesn’t even seem real…

But what is really telling me it’s spring time is my schedule.  It’s Tornado Season once again so Jeni and I are already on the road with the Red Cross’s delightful puppet show, The Wind Around the Toy Box, spreading the word to little kids about how to stay safe in case of a tornado.  Just as I got home from Key West, it was time to start rehearsing.  We were back up and running just as the sirens started blasting here for the seasons first batch of storms, headed our way from Oklahoma.

Tornados are serious stuff, but the show we put on helps make things a little less scary for young kids, while still getting the important messages of safety across to them.  Last season we did the show for over 10,000 children and we may break that record this year which would be great.  Below are some sketches I did last season of these crazy characters with whom we spend so much of our spring time…

Puppeteering is hard work.  Physically it’s exhausting, dragging the set in and out of dozens of schools plus performing sometimes 3 shows a day.  For me the most demanding part of it all is getting up in front of people and Performing.  As an introvert, I’m usually toast by the end of the day.  That said, I love this job.  It’s good work for decent pay.  I get to promote the work of the Red Cross and spend most days hanging out with my BFF.

A few things may fall by the wayside a bit in the coming months…. especially this blog.  On my long daily to do list, the blog usually sits at the bottom.  But I will do my best to update when I can.  I am back to teaching at the Art Academy for the next 6 weeks.  My students are a great bunch of people whom I’m sure will have exciting work that I’ll want to post.  In the meantime, my hope is to get outside and watch for signs of quickening.  Perhaps you should do the same…. and send me an email if you find something cool; better yet, draw it!


This is Smoke.   He is a greyhound belonging to a family who emailed me after reading the write-up about my dog drawings on the blog Dog Art Today.  It is difficult to draw a dog (or really much of anything for that matter) from a photograph.  But for me it is an interesting exercise now and then, especially when the picture is of such a graceful sinewy creature as Smoke.  I much prefer drawing from life, when I occupy the same physical and temporal space as my subject.  At the very least, if I draw from a photograph, I like to have been the one taking the pictures, capturing the images to study later on with my line drawings. That said, I still couldn’t resist sketching this beautiful dog.  I hardly do him justice, to be sure.

I have been in the studio a bunch lately.  Drawing some, gathering images to update my website gallery, working in wax, making baby gifts.  I am enjoying this time immensely, especially knowing that Tornado Season (in other words, puppet season/ full time work for awhile) is right around the corner.  I know that my studio time suffers in the spring as I am stretched far too thin with teaching, doing puppet shows and keeping up with my busy kids.  This will be Jeni’s and my 3rd season on the road with the Red Cross’s Wind Around the Toybox production.  It’s an intense season but it is just that, a season.  This year, I think we see it for what it is and we are ready for the hard work and high energy level these shows demands of us.  Last year we saw over 10,000 children in the Tri-State area, providing a not-so-scary approach to Tornado Safety for little people.  It’s a great job and I am lucky to have it.  Shows will start up in February sometime and go through May and it is during this time that I will have to fit studio art into the available little spaces I find here and there.  That will have to be enough.

Until then, however, all’s quiet, except for the howling wind outside.  I have a fire going in the fireplace, the wax table on means the windows have to be open and a fan on for exhaust, but I bundle up and play there while I have the opportunity.


The past few weeks have seen the colliding of two projects that have been a lot of fun, but have also taken up most of my precious free time. Fortunately they are finished and are meeting with successful reviews from the folks who wanted them to happen (and are footing the bill).


The Red Cross tornado safety puppet show “The Wind Around the Toy Box” has a new and improved toy box/ stage which Jeni and I began using this week. Not only are the puppets enjoying all the new space back stage but their puppeteers aren’t consuming quite as much advil these days to keep up with the muscle strain!

Meanwhile, my work at Plum Diore finished up last night with the installation of dozens of sculpted flowers created to match their spring design. A lovely and talented art student named Erin, and I installed these hand crafted forms in the windows of the boutique and also throughout the shop. Tomorrow evening is their big fashion show and party to which all of this has been leading up. Normally I am not into this sort of shin dig. I find I am more comfortable in an old pair of jeans and a soft wool sweater. But the excitement is contagious I guess and I have a new outfit to wear and plan to attend for a little while to see all the models dressed in all the finery. Plus, I hear their hair may be defying gravity. I find this notion intriguing.


My class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati finished up a week or so ago and I was genuinely sad to see it end. I really enjoyed all of my students and was amazed to see how gutsy and adventurous they became with just some cool art supplies and space and time in which to create. It looks like I will be teaching the class again in the fall time frame. I learned as much from my students and teaching this class as I hope they learned from me so I am sure there will be changes and fine tuning that will make the class even richer for those who take it. I am anxious to get back into working in my own sketchbook again in the coming weeks.

Teaching is a constant theme in my life and nowhere is that clearer recently than at home with the pups. They are growing like weeds and getting very strong, especially on walks. I found collars for them that allow the walker to lead the dog by the head, much like a horse, without all the tugging and choking of the usual collars. So we have slowly been adjusting to a new, gentler way of walking around the neighborhood.  With all this leash training though, sometimes you just have to go for a romp in the woods, leashes off. In spite of the rain, that is what we did a few days ago. It was well received by all.