Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Holiday Headshot

A friend asked if I would take a few headshots.  Gifting my creativity to friends and family is something I enjoy and find meaningful, so I immediately said yes.  She isn't a fan of having her photo taken, so I kept it lighthearted and worked quickly...  In less than five minutes, we had a handful of shots that perfectly captured her beauty and vibrant personality.        

Photography should never feel like work and, gratefully for me, it never does.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Painting

"Deep Within My Heart"
Acrylic on Canvas with Swarovski Crystals

Other than the carefully selected color palette, I had no agenda for this painting.  Simply using memories of Puck, my emotions transformed the canvas into a work of art that is both abstract and literal with its message.  In the end, there is whimsy and a somewhat childlike quality that showcase his life better than anything I might have imagined.

This lively yet subtle painting is protected with a low lustre finish and has been adorned with 14 Swarovski Elements crystals.  Each crystal represents one of his 14 years... To view the texture and finer details, click on the image and expand the size. 

Puck was my heart, and I'm grateful that his presence was undeniable throughout this process.  He taught me that life brings amazing gifts... My we all take the time to notice and appreciate each and every one of them.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Loving Goodbye

Puck's First Photo

When I lost Libbey in 1997, I was inspired to start a pet care business. I also accepted an opportunity to work with the veterinarians who had cared for her during her final months.  One day, shortly after she died, I headed to the hospital for my shift. Earlier that morning, a local rescue organization had dropped off a kitten in hopes of an adoption. It was a male, roughly five and half months old, who had been captured in the boiler room of a frat house at ASU. Weeks after treatment in a different hospital, he was healthy but still frightened.  He was so frightened, in fact, that a towel had been placed in front of his cage to help calm his nerves.

A tech walked by the front desk and asked if I had checked him out.  I had not.  Everyone knew about my recent loss, so she said "You HAVE to go see him."  When nobody was looking, I casually walked to the back and stood in front of the towel. Slowly, I raised up one corner, revealing a moment I can still see as clearly as that day. Cowered and pressed as far back into the corner of the cage as he could, he looked at me with the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen... and hissed with all his might.  All I could do was smile.

I remained cautious. After all, I had lost Libbey only two months prior, and we had a friendship that spanned two decades. No cat could replace her... I wasn't ready. 

And so I did what I knew was the right thing to do.  I put him in a carrier and took him home.

Compromising by agreeing only to foster him, I set up the den with all of the essentials. I closed the door and placed the carrier on the floor but did not remove him. I wanted him to feel safe, so I merely unhinged the door. I sat down and spoke to him softly. His big eyes seemed to absorb every inch of me. As afraid as he was, he was the only kitten of the litter to survive. I knew this meant he was strong and had a remarkable will to live. I remained patient and, after sitting with him for nearly two hours, he crawled out of the carrier without making a sound. He used the litter pan and looked up at me, unsure of what came next. I picked him up, placed him on the sofa, and kissed his precious face.

I didn't want to love him, but fostering was out the window. He was mine. Puck now had a name and was locked firmly and deeply within my heart.

Can you see him?
It didn't take long for his fun personality to emerge. My pretty and shy little boy would grow slowly, into a beautiful gentle giant of 18 pounds by age two. During that time, his rich amber eyes would soften into a mesmerizing green. More like a dog, he loved to play fetch and was loyal to me and me alone. He wanted to be wherever I was and, if I wasn't home, he would stare out the window... watching and waiting for my return. I can still remember how sweet it was to arrive home from a walk and see him with his paws in the window and his face pressed against the glass. I couldn't hear him, but I could see his mouth let out a mew as I approached the door. That routine would carry over to everywhere we lived. He was more loyal than anything or anyone I had ever known.

In the end, Puck and I rescued each other. He was nothing like Libbey, yet he was cut from the same cloth. To this day, I believe she brought us together. Puck was a beautiful and good boy. He may have been timid, but his gentle soul made the love he gave larger than life.

His will to live remained as strong his last month as when he began his journey from that boiler room. In the end, his veterinarian told me he was holding on for me. That level of commitment is humbling and was an amazing gift, which is why I knew exactly when it was time to put his needs first. As quietly as I did that first day in the den, I spoke to him softly... and whispered my goodbyes.

I. Love. You.

When Libbey died, my life was changed forever. Out of her death I became an artist, and embarked on a new journey of self discovery. Although my heart is breaking by Puck's unfortunate and untimely death, I look forward to how I will grow from his loss. I don't know where I am headed from here, but I know his love, loyalty, and gentle spirit will inspire me to greater heights. In honor of him, I look forward to seeing how I evolve and who I become.

It's amazing what love can and does do... which is precisely why my heart is more open now than it has ever been. 

My dearest Pucky Bear, I love and miss you so very much. Thank you for being there no matter what we went through together. For making me smile. For making me laugh. For comforting me. For inspiring me. For everything. You made my life brighter and, for that, I will never forget you.

Through my heart... through my art... you will live on. 

Whether or not you can empathize with my deep connection to Puck, I am grateful for your understanding and patience during this grieving process. Navigating loss of any kind is never easy but, despite the tears, I am doing my best to move forward. 

Please return soon to see my love for Puck transformed onto canvas... I'm feeling creative.

September 22, 1997 - October 18, 2011

Update:  "Deep Within My Heart" is the painting that resulted from the healing process following his death.  It sold the same day it was posted online and hangs in Sacramento, CA. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Museum Residences

My latest article for CondoDomain profiles the stunning lofts of Museum Residences:



Want the best in dynamic downtown loft living, minus the adjacent dog park? If you're looking for a pet free environment with opulent luxury at every turn, look no further than the geometric spectacle and world class design of Museum Residences. Located in the Golden Triangle, at 1200, Acoma Street in Denver, this building is a work of art among other stunning buildings that will have you living in a breathtaking architectural wonderland.

Museum Residences sits adjacent to the renowned Denver Art Museum, each designed by award winning and internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind. His expressive vision is undeniable,.. a striking artistic statement and backdrop boldly placed int eh thriving cultural Mecca of Denver. Museum Residences is prime real estate designed with the kind of inspiration that redefines how we feel and view the pulse of a city.

Inside this impassioned structure of dramatic angles, each open floor plan is filled with massive walls that are flooded with natural light, bringing every mouth watering modern and polished detail to life.  And, if you're truly looking for the best money can buy, why not opt for the terrace penthouse. Listed at $1,500,000, you'll score two glorious stores of glass, with an 800-square-foot wraparound deck that comes with amazing wraparound city views.

Positioned in the heart of Denver's oldest and most prestigious neighborhood, you'll have some of the best restaurants, galleries, and city landmarks right outside your door. At Museum Residences, the possibilities are endless... a refined and sophisticated building where art, culture, and luxury await. 

The terrace penthouse is high end urban living at its finest. This unit comes packed with upgraded features including cutom Berloni cabinets, Viking appliances, and remote blinds. 

For more on this unit, or other available unites available at Museum Residences, please contact your CondoDomain agent at (877) 852 - XXXX.

Note: This unit expired and/or sold so specific details and interior photos have been omitted from this post.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Little Ones

"Any favor or any compassionate reaching out may seem to be going nowhere at first, but may be planting a seed we can't see right now. Sometimes we need to just do the best we can and then trust in an unfolding we can't design or ordain." ~ Sharon Salzberg

In 2004, as my life was in turmoil, I merged onto the Scottsdale 101. Out of nowhere, a tiny 6-week old kitten came tumbling out of a freeway sound wall drainage pipe into rush hour traffic. I slammed on the brakes. Other cars followed suit creating a chain reaction that, gratefully, did not lead to an accident. Some drivers were angry and others cheered me on, as I did what nobody else would do... I jumped out of my car and scooped up the kitten who had made an unplanned entrance into the world beyond its feral existence underground. 

Not that it would ever be good, but the timing could not have been worse. My personal life was under tremendous strain which meant I was in no position to keep him. It was a terrible feeling to know that my heart was filled with compassion yet my ability to help was limited by my circumstances. 

Once I arrived home, I was relieved to discover that my fated cargo was alive. His bottom lip was torn from his chin but, beyond that, he was calm and appeared to have no broken bones. Even so, I knew he needed medical attention. I put him in a carrier, jumped back in the car, and headed towards the closest veterinary ER... hoping the staff would share my compassion and care for this precious little one in a way that I could not.  

They reluctantly took him in, despite knowing I couldn't take responsibility. I had to sign a waiver giving up my rights which meant no updates would be provided. I'd never know the end of his story, but I had done what I could to make a difference. A few days later, I returned to the area of the drainage pipe. As I stood on the other side of the sound wall, I noticed a small heart shaped rock at my feet. It would be from that moment on that I'd hold a fascination with hearts found in nature. This kitten had come in and out of my life for a reason which inspired these words: 

Guilt fills my head that I did not do enough,
but I will move on ~
For I know this gift of fate
 brings love and a lesson
that will help me carry on.
When I think of you, there is a reason.
There is a purpose.
 There is something to understand.
I want to be more. I want to do more.
 I will be more. I will do more.
 I thank you even when I can't breathe this pace,
because this experience brought me to a higher place.
So weak. So lost. You were just like me.
So inspired...
I now have courage to set myself free. 

This brings us to the other day, when I came across a different but equally precious little one.

On my way into Target, my eyes drifted to a crevice between the fire engine red curb and the hot August asphalt. Taking a closer look, I noticed what appeared to be a baby mouse or rat. Whatever type of rodent it was, it wasn't moving. I stepped over it onto the sidewalk and kept walking, but something told me to turn around. I knelt down and lightly pressed my finger into its back. It attempted to move but didn't move far.

Here we go again.  

My life in another phase of disarray, I couldn't help but be reminded of that little kitten. Like then, the timing was terrible, but there I was placing its limp body in an emptied out tool bin. I returned to my car, turned on the air conditioning, and placed a few drops of water in the bag. Handcuffed by my circumstances, I once again found myself doing the only thing I could. I drove to a veterinary hospital a few miles away.

I had taken my pets to this hospital before its expansion years ago, when I was living in Littleton and attending college. Their new facility and staff had tripled in size, but I hoped they'd still show the same kindness that existed back then. Sadly, that didn't happen. A customer had peered inside the bag as I was telling my story... "You are such a kind person to do this." She smiled and left the building, never knowing how I would be treated upon her exit.

All staff members were aloof, and I was disappointed by their unwillingness to help. I understand that it was "only" a mouse, but I was astonished they wouldn't even assist me with phone numbers or directions to alternate choices. I returned to my car deflated, only to notice something wonderful. This once lifeless little life was making a comeback. 

I didn't know where to go at that point, so I decided to drive to beautiful park down the road. I found a quiet spot next to a small bridge and stream and placed it on the ground. I was mesmerized by its natural instincts for survival. I watched and waited with patience, until it was enveloped by the tall grass and had disappeared from sight. Its odds of survival were slim but, like me, it was a fighter. No matter what happened, this location was more dignified than a steaming parking lot on a sweltering summer afternoon. It now stood a chance at life, and that would have to be enough.   


I've learned that good intentions don't always lead to the results we're after, but I'm proud of wanting to make a difference no matter how small. Don't get me wrong, though... I'm no saint or perpetual do-gooder. I am human after all. I've simply learned to embrace a sensitive nature that developed naturally, and partly as a coping mechanism, at a very young age. 

In a world of deadlines and struggles, it's easy to become desensitized or too busy. Lacking awareness, we miss the details or don't want to be bothered with the time it might take to help. I know firsthand, however, that much joy can be found in reaching out to those who have lost their way or are in need of assistance. Some may roll their eyes at my sensitivities but, as someone who has been rescued more than once this past year, I'm grateful for a heart big enough to have helped the little ones. What goes around, comes around. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Green Cube House, Part Deux

Prior to the grand opening gala last night, I drove down to view the placement of my art and ensure that the art placards matched up with the correct pieces.

Even with only a few hours before the public reveal... designers, party planners, electricians and contractors were sweating out the final details on this hot summer afternoon. Was it worth the effort and chaos?  Absolutely. This LEED certified modern beauty is stunning.

I was asked to arrive at 4:30pm.  Traveling from Highlands Ranch, I found myself there a little early.  I then learned that it would be 5pm before the art cards would be arriving.  Always looking to take advantage of expanding my commercial photography catalog, I was gracious about the delay and off for a self-guided tour.  Based on what I saw, I am more excited than ever for the art show that will be held at the house, located at 3310 Shoshone, on August 19th.  If you're in the Denver area, please consider joining me. If you can't make it, Green Cube is also part of The Parade of Homes. Either way, seeing this house in person is something I highly recommend.



"Midnight Sun" and "Departure"

"Nailed To The Wall" and "Windfall"


"Overlay" and "Destiny"

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Big Thompson Flood

It was the summer of 1976. More specifically, it was July 31st. My sister was away at camp, and I was spending the weekend with my grandparents. As I quietly colored in the front room, I had no idea what was brewing in the Colorado mountains outside of Big Thompson Canyon. Staying in a cabin with friends along the typically peaceful river, my father was also oblivious to what fate had in store for him... He was about to become a hero, a lost soul, and a survivor of the worst natural disaster in Colorado history.

"I reached and grabbed Sue and told the others we had to get to the mountainside and, just as I picked her up, the water came from my ankles to chest deep and I remember turnin’ around and shuffling my feet and moving as quickly as I could... we both went under water."

As the sun began to fade, the hum of crickets filled the thick Nebraska air.  

"I was going to see if there was any way I could get across with the rope to help Ed, Ester, and Kim but, as soon as I got into the water, it just swept me right back into the shore. Propane tanks were coming down the river like torpedoes whistling... a station wagon came floating down clear over by where the road was, and they were pulling a small silver Streamline trailer. I remember the interior lights were on... you could tell they were in distress... and they just shot right on down the river."

I was safely tucked in bed, while my father's nightmare continued to rage on. 

"We went up the mountainside. Michael and I made a lean-to out of a poncho... everybody was soakin’ wet. We would run down the mountain... yelling and screaming for them, but we never did see anybody. The night was miserable, rainy."

My grandparent's house always smelled like coffee in the morning. It was Sunday... another day filled with imagination, time spent at the school playground up the street, and grandma's strawberry-banana Jello salad. 

"The kitchen was just a mass of twisted debris. There was another porch on the riverside that they had converted into living space for an extra little bedroom. That room itself was untouched.  Who would have ever thought that if they would have went into there, they probably would have survived. ~  I can’t remember walking up to the helicopter. Sue sat in my lap and we got all strapped in. When the helicopter took off to fly us to Loveland, I can remember putting my arms around her, and that’s when your daddy lost it. Very emotional."

As another summer day came to a close, the telephone rang. Without understanding what happened, I remember being ushered into the living room and seeing my dad on TV. Wearing a donated white t-shirt with red and blue sleeves covered in white stars, he was a vision of all-American survival. The phone continued to ring throughout the night with calls from family and friends who had recognized him on the news.

During the Big Thompson Flood, 144 lives were lost. Tragically, three of those were from my dad's party. Although he and Michael were unable to get back across the river to save them, they were able to save the young girls. Even though my dad still struggles with those difficult memories, I know what a true hero he is for not thinking twice before grabbing an innocent and terrified 11-year-old girl as the river attempted to swallow them whole. 

It would be 30 years before I would know exactly what my dad went through and the horror he witnessed. He kept this story to himself to cover his pain. When I returned to Denver in 2006, he planned to attend the 30-year anniversary of the flood. It was only because I was staying with him that I learned how much this devastating day impacted his life. Because I had been shielded from the truth, I asked him to tell me the story. I felt this would be an excellent way for me to better understand his experience, while acting as helpful therapy for him. Gratefully, he purchased a small tape recorder and shared his story. Since then, he had a special dinner reunion with Julie and Sue, the two girls who survived. I was lucky enough to attend that remarkable evening.

Today now marks the 35th anniversary of the flood. I know it still weighs on him heavily at times, so I write this in honor of him and the lives that were lost. I am so very proud of my dad for acting selflessly and with courage... and I am grateful his life was spared that day. 

Hug those you love today and think kindly of those who have hurt you.  Life is too short... anything can happen to any one of us at any moment.  

Additional flood facts: 143 lives lost, 418 homes destroyed along with 52 businesses, 438 vehicles, several bridges, roads, and telephone lines... This rare convergence of thunderstorms crested at an unfathomable 20 feet, with a peak water flow of 31,200 cubic feet per second vs. the normal flow of 210 cfs.

2009 reunion dinner at Chart House restaurant in Golden, CO
My father is on the right ~ Fellow survivors Sue (right) and Julie are in the center

Related Post: Read the full transcript of my father's detailed recording

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Green Cube House

The Green Cube House

Over the years I've been asked to take part in some pretty unique projects, and this latest opportunity will likely remain a favorite for some time. As a previous interior designer, I've always taken an interest in architecture; the perfect Sunday used to involve going out for coffee and then touring the latest model homes. That background, combined with an artist's style that often involves repurposed objects and works that are earthy yet distinctively modern, it was an honor to hear from interior designer Heidi Mendoza of re.dzine. She had stumbled onto my art online and felt my paintings would work well in the staging of an amazing house known as the Green Cube House.  We met so that she could view my art in person and take me on a tour of the property, which is nearing completion in the desirable and hip Lower Highlands neighborhood.

I'm proud to report that my work will be featured and for sale in Denver’s first LEED Platinum certified single family home (uses 40% of the energy as that of a standard home) from August 11th - September 6th.  Even more exciting? This house is part of the 2011 Denver Parade of Homes! If you're in the Denver area, I'd love for you to drop by and see how my work is integrated into this sustainable showcase home with a mission that successfully blends community activism, efficiency, and luxury.

** Update: Six of my paintings have been selected to hang in this beautiful showcase house!

Monday, July 11, 2011

After The Storm

The other day, a vibrant rainbow appeared right when I needed one; July has been a rough and stormy road thus far. What made the moment all the more spectacular, was that I had just spoken of my cat Libbey that very morning. 

It was her.  How could it not be... 

Thunderstorms have been a recurring theme in all major events in my life, so waking up to cloudy skies on the morning of December 22, 1997 was more than just an occurrence of nature.  It was the morning my beloved pet of 20 years was to be cremated, after two decades of unconditional love and companionship. She was my foundation. My best friend. Every decision I made in life had involved her well being.

Thunder. Lightening. The chaotic Arizona winter sky split open like a broken pinata, spilling its contents over the desert valley floor.
I was numb, but choosing to witness her individual cremation is what began the process of healing I so desperately needed. Not everyone would make that choice, but it was important for me to experience every last detail of her death. As I left the building, Libbey's cremains were still warm in my hands.  I walked slowly to the car, and it was then that I noticed it had finally stopped raining. 

About a mile from home, the sun peeked through the clouds and a beautiful full rainbow emerged.  It was at that moment that I was no longer able to hold back the tears. This difficult journey was coming to an end but, more incredibly, time stood still as I rounded the corner to witness this bright and stunning palette at the end of the cul-de-sac. I was in awe, and rainbows would forever hold new meaning.

Long before digital cameras were commonplace, I was grateful for film in my camera. I captured that moment and would do so again two days later on Christmas Eve, when another rainbow appeared in the identical spot it had that day. I looked up into the sky, and gently whispered "Merry Christmas, Libbey, I will always love you."

After nearly two decades of love, it was a loving yet painful goodbye I will never forget. The first real loss I had ever experienced, it would bring tremendous change to my life and begin my journey as an artist. For the next seven years, I recorded every rainbow I saw. Although I no longer keep track, every rainbow I see continues to hold importance. For me, they represent a sign that I am loved and that things will be okay... a message from the universe that I'm not alone no matter how alone I feel at the time. A reminder that I must look for the opportunity within each and every challenge that comes my way. 

If you've ever loved and lost something or someone, or have felt overwhelmed by the lessons life has presented, you no doubt understand where I am coming from. Whether you find hope in the stars, the rain, dancing butterflies, or elsewhere... may you always follow your heart and keep chasing your dreams. 

"We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lost sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.”  ~ Unknown

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Painting


24x24 Mixed Media on Panel

Seven canvas panels cut and applied to panel.  Rough, chunky, and extreme textures topped with a satin finish and 57 square nailhead metal studs.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Adventures In Photography

Expansion and growth as an artist is as important as it is inevitable. This growth usually occurs naturally in random phases, but the birth of my friend's baby made for a perfectly planned opportunity to try something new as a photographer. As my gift to her, I offered to take portraits of Baby Stella. It was a wonderful experience. To view the entire album, click here.

If you're interested in my work as a photographer, please email for rates and availability.

Stella at around 22 hours old... the first newborn I've ever held. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

What About Nat?

Don't get me wrong.  I know I'm in a good place and that things are headed in the right direction, but that doesn't mean I haven't been feeling a little like Bob Wiley.  If that reference isn't familiar to you, he's the dependent and obsessive compulsive character played by Bill Murray in What About Bob?  While the plot isn't a match to my life, my recluse nature recently had me portraying a similar unsettled misfit with ease.

"Hi, I'm Bob.  Would you knock me out, please?  Just hit me in the face."

I've worked long and hard to find my footing in Denver but, quite honestly, I've had so many frustrating mishaps in the last couple of weeks, that I decided it was best to skip feeling down about it and file these straight-to-DVD misadventures under comedy.  After all, laughter is the best medicine... which is good, because my current lack of health insurance means that, unlike Bob, prescriptions and a therapist aren't part of my story line.

Putting my best foot forward, I've had some wonderful experiences, but stepping into my expansive new world has also seen its share of less than graceful outcomes. When I wasn't being disappointed by people who didn't follow through or were dangling carrots to feed their own ego, I was busy dropping my cell phone in cereal milk, veering to avoid a drunk on a 10-speed heading straight for my car in moving traffic, and having a panic attack while walking alone through the crowded streets of a local festival. Yep, even when I looked beautiful and put together, my life was suddenly sporting a giant piece of spinach in its teeth.  What was happening?  Why was fitting into life suddenly so awkward?

"... baby steps, get on the bus, baby steps down the aisle, baby steps..."

That's when I decided it was time to stop trying so hard. When we're not being honest with ourselves, the world responds accordingly.  For me, that meant a big dose of Murphy's Law. I was wasting too much time trying to be who I wasn't by applying for the wrong jobs, attempting to impress people who couldn't care less, and forcing my will on things that made no sense or didn't serve a purpose. Even without having the answers, it was time to stop doing what I thought others wanted me to do or be.

Once I was successfully back on course, it didn't take long for positive things to happen.  The other night, I sent a text to a friend with happy news that I had sold a painting.  His simple one-word reply reaffirmed the lesson I had learned and put everything back into perspective. "Paint."  It was a single word that made me wish I could jump through my phone and hug him tight. He reminded me that, no matter what is going on in my life, I will always be an artist.  I create ~ through my art, writing, and spoken words. This is who I am, and this truth is where I must begin each day.

Living authentically, we gain the confidence to be proud of who we are without worry as to how we are perceived. We accept that there will be those who don't like us, find us annoying, think we're not good enough, and choose not to spend time getting to know who we are. We also appreciate that there will be those who find us charming, love what we bring to the table, treasure our unique qualities, and enjoy spending time getting to know who we are.

Much like the lesson in the movie, I believe people are brought into our lives to teach us what we need to learn about ourselves. What I've learned these last couple of weeks is that we don't have to be something we're not, or do something extraordinary, for people to notice or accept us.  To create the best experiences in life, we simply need to be ourselves. The people who matter will be there cheering us on.  And, if that happens to drive someone mad, so be it... just smile and continue navigating your way through the waters of life.

“I’m sailing. I’m sailing. I am a sailor!”

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rocky Mountain Highland

The view crossing the bridge that links downtown with the Highlands

The Highland neighborhood of Denver occupies roughly 250 acres just northwest of downtown. Its streets are quiet and lined with mature trees, but it stays connected to the pulse of the city via the Highland, Millennium, and  Platte River Bridges.  As you head west to Tennyson street, the Highland Square district has a notably small town vibe that is both chic and chocked full of culture. Friendly and full of charm, its trendy shopping and eclectic mix of eateries will have you wondering why you need to venture anywhere else. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Art Featured on Recyclart

"Gypsy Artist Series"
I have created many original works of art that incorporate or repurpose personal or found objects, and a friend recently shared the link to a site she thought was right up my alley.  I also felt it was a good fit so contributed my information and images a little over a month ago.

The other day I checked my art site stats and was amazed by the number of hits that were coming from around the world. As I scanned my referring links, I was excited to see a Recylart on the list. I went to their site and, sure enough, my art had been featured... what a fun way to begin my day!

Check out the post by visiting You can also see images of my art on their main site which can easily be translated into English. Their goal is to feature innovative and creative projects that promote and inspire unique ways to RE-use, RE-cycle, and RE-duce everyday materials.  They have a user-friendly submission process, if you would like to contribute your own work.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fear Not

Fear, when harnessed for good, can be the fuel that propels us forward in a way that is effortless and graceful. Focusing on what is "wrong," and turning our fears into a source of negativity, we trap ourselves. We engage in self pity. We look for blame. We procrastinate. These wasted emotions cap off our optimism, sense of freedom, and creativity. The flow ceases and we are left motionless.

Fear is what makes us say "I can't." It's rooted in negative reinforcement that has been passed down by our culture and the people who surround us. It prohibits us from living up to our own potential, which is why it's important to learn how to reverse its power. The best friend of fear is worry. When we allow it to creep in, the snowball effect is immediate, and we are left overwhelmed and engulfed in doubt.

Even the happiest people have down days. When I'm feeling down or am facing a difficult situation, I remind myself to live in and make the most of every moment. It's important to trust the entire experience while keeping a sense of wonder. The best way to stop fear in its tracks is to manage and reduce stress. No stranger to difficult times over the years, I've created a useful list of reminders that have helped me gain a sense of balance and perspective during times of stress:
  1. Don't be a victim. No matter what horrible things you have endured, you are never truly a victim unless you choose to be.
  2. Accept you don't have all of the answers. It may take years to understand the purpose of why this happened. Free yourself of it now... one day this will make sense.
  3. Forgive. Hating yourself or others only drains you of precious energy. Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to forget, but you must let go in order to move forward.
  4. Be realistic. Some corners we paint ourselves into are a bit trickier than others. What you want to happen or correct may take more time and effort than you would like. Have patience, and continue with the actions necessary to see it through.
  5. Instead of fearing the worst... fantasize the best. Nothing is possible without visualizing what we want.  We must see it and believe it to be true.  Simply stated, our thoughts become what is; we create our lives. 
  6. Some days suck, and that is okay. Continue to look for the positive in each day, even if the most positive thing about today is accepting that one flat tire is better than two. The glass is always half full.
  7. Love. Yourself. Your friends. Your family. If you find yourself around people who don't inspire or support you... love them anyway, and then move on to those who do. Being a positive force will lead you to positive people and experiences.
  8. You are in control. Accept responsibility for your entire life. You alone are responsible for your happiness.
  9. Lighten up and keep smiling. Exercise. Dance. Laugh. Find whatever brings you joy and then have some fun. A smile is contagious... it's beautiful... it's free. 
  10. Be grateful... for everything.
You may have a different list or alternate way of dealing with stress, but the point is that we all have the choice to empower ourselves. No matter how far we have allowed ourselves to fall, we are one good thought or action away from completely turning things around. We can't always change what is done or has come undone but, when we surrender, the noose doesn't feel so tight. We notice that we are not as alone as we may have felt. The sun peeks out when we least expect it, and a silver lining is revealed... We are fearless and moving forward, turning our self sabotage into self love.

While genetics may make us prone to a certain level of coping skills, remember that we can change our patterns. Regardless of our origin or upbringing, none of us is confined by what we were taught. We have the ability to be exactly who we want to be.

Fear and failure are states of mind, which are easily replaceable with optimism and intention... On that note, I suddenly feel compelled to don my best Stuart Smalley sweater and step in front of the mirror.  Anyone care to join me? :)

"I'm good enough.  I'm smart enough.  And doggone it, people like me!" ~ Stuart Smalley

 © Natalie Starnes

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Balloon Project

I remember when I received my first Mylar balloon; there was something special about that shiny metallic finish. After enjoying it for several days, I decided it was too pretty not to share. Using a black marker, I wrote down my phone number, a friendly hello, and a smiley face.

Our townhouse was positioned at the top of a hill on a circle drive. I still remember the moment I let go of that bright red balloon nearly three decades ago. I didn't take my eyes off of it, as it twisted and drifted its way high into the sky. I watched it until it my eyes strained to stay focused and then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it was swallowed by the atmosphere.

A few weeks later, my grandparents were in town and had stopped by for an early dinner. As we sat around the table, the telephone rang. My mom walked into the kitchen and picked up the avocado green receiver. She returned shortly, dragging the long cord into the dining room. To the surprise of everyone, a farmer had discovered my balloon in one of his fields. He brought it home to his daughter who, as it turns out, was close to my age. As I attempted to say hello, I found myself in shock while repeating nothing more than "Oh my!" over and over. My red balloon had traveled roughly 50 miles, and I was so excited that my little experiment had connected me with kind strangers. I didn't talk with them long, or even think to ask them for their number, but it remains a fun childhood memory nonetheless.

You may wonder why I'm telling this story. Well, this memory was triggered when I read an article about a man who found a film canister while cross-country skiing in Prospect Park, following the Christmas blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow in New York. He created a video of the developed images, which went viral on YouTube and took him on an amazing five-country adventure that would end in Paris, where he met the photographer and returned her photos in person. He documented the journey and then left his film canister with a note, hoping to create a new adventure.

After watching the video and thinking back to my balloon, I was inspired to re-create that experiment. I wrote on another red foil balloon and released it into a blue afternoon sky, just 80 miles from where I had stood in my childhood driveway. The story may not end with a five-country journey that ends in Paris, but I'm still happy that I put my energy out there. Even if my balloon isn't discovered the second time around... there is something magical about the thought of connecting with others during random circumstances, knowing we wouldn't have met them otherwise.

"Explore, discover, wonder, be curious, be amazed. Life is too rich & beautiful to always live it predictably." ~ Ralph Marston 

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Painting


"Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries."
~ Corita Kent

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gypsy Artist Series

My Gypsy Artist Series painting project began in 2008, when I showed a close friend a random collection of old license plates. I had been wanting to incorporate them into some sort of art but nothing had come together. As we began talking, I pulled out my personal collection of plates from over the years. These meant more to me, because they were tangible mementos of my personal journey. She immediately suggested that those were the plates I should paint, treating each one as its own individual canvas. A few weeks later, the series came to life.

 Original 6-plate Gypsy Artist Series

The original series was for sale for a short time but, in the end, this collection became a personal thumbprint of my life experiences that I decided was not for sale. I continued the series by adding my latest California plate to the collection. I wanted an even number of plates to hang, so it was kept separate from the series. Until now...

As I begin yet another new phase of life, I've decided that this latest plate will complete the collection... until I collect more plates and keep going.  Plate #8 is a special one, because I attached the only three tiny shards of glass that I saved from my life altering car accident in December of 2010.