Feeling Grateful

This week gratitude is on my mind.  I love my life, and feel incredibly blessed and grateful for all that I have.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to sustain a grateful attitude amidst the hectic day-to-day schedules of family life: household chores, monitoring homework, having to go shopping yet again for new sweat pants for my rapidly growing teenager (who looks like his cat died), calling the fridge guy, taking the car in to get new road tax…and the list goes on and on.  (And did I mention the word teenager?)

I struggle with maintaining gratitude in April and May because I’m steeped in the hectic prepping schedule for the SURTEX show, but since 2010, it’s been particularly tough because it’s the anniversary of my Mum passing.   In the mornings I wake up with a heavy heart, and at night I crash into bed feeling overwhelmed because no matter how much I’ve accomplished, my “in box” is still overflowing. 

It’s now the last day of May, and I’m feeling grateful to be moving into summer, but before I bid farewell to the melancholy and stress of these past two months, I feel compelled to express my gratitude.  It was on this last beautiful day in May, sixteen years ago, that I said, “I do” to the love of my life.  Marrying Elliott was the first of the best three decisions I’ve ever made. Like all couples we have our highs and lows, but there’s no one else I’d rather sail my ship with and without hesitation, I’d marry him all over again.

Our beautiful wedding ceremony in Central Park
Between us, we now have a few more grey hairs, less hair and few more pounds, but we still manage to feel this joy.
On a day like today, it’s easy to feel gratitude and see that my glass is half full.  I’d love to hold on to this “attitude of gratitude” on the more stressful days.  As I’m about to get cross with my 10 year old for only completing forty of the fifty minutes of his reading homework, I can be grateful for what he did manage to read and for the bonus I get of snuggling and reading to him for the extra ten minutes at bedtime.   I can remind myself that my glass is certainly half full.
My three best decisions, snuggling in our tent on a camping trip in New Hampshire 

Happy Anniversary Elliott sweetheart, and happy last day of May to you all.

Much love,


Transforming my SURTEX booth

At this moment, the best word I can think of to describe how I feel is “stupefy” - yes, I’m immersed in the final Harry Potter book.

The past month has been pretty intense preparing for exhibiting at SURTEX, and today it’s all over.  This morning my brain is hyper stimulated (3 days of business meetings and socializing) and my body is completely exhausted.  Unfortunately my mind hasn’t quite caught up that it’s okay to slow down, so I’m finding myself agitated and wondering what I need to do next.

I don’t think it helped that I didn’t come up with the idea for my booth until the week before the show, which was very scary to say the least.  I had to muster up a truck full of faith and not panic and believe that the idea would come, and if not I’d figure something out.  Poor Elliott had the tough task of printing all the artwork last minute, but he did a great job and I’m thrilled with how the booth looked.

I had a great time at the show, catching up with clients, artist friends and showing my new work.  Who knows what the outcome will be, but I’m excited that the new direction I took with my work got a great response and I can't wait to get back into my studio and delve deeper…… well maybe I can wait a couple of days.

Have a beautiful, restful and long weekend…and keep the faith!


My booth when we first arrived

With backdrop
One board up, six to go

My amazing friend Julie, who is the best assistant a friend could ask for

Measuring the burlap for my table and Julie keeping us organized

The booth transformation

My amazing team 
First day of the show and my transformation

Taking Risks and Daring to be Different....

Throughout my childhood, my parents encouraged me to be different.  Don’t follow the pack.  Walk your own walk.  I love this message and encourage my own kids to do the same.  There were times though when I wanted to be just like my friends and yearned to be accepted, to be a part of the crowd.  At 12 years old, I remember desperately trying to persuade my Mum to buy me the blue anorak (jacket) that all my friends were getting from Mackay’s for the school trip to Inverness.  My Mum begrudgingly did relent, but bought me the brown one and not the blue.

Like most stumbling teenagers, I often doubted myself.  I remember being 17 and inconsolable when I came home from finishing my Higher Art exam.  I was convinced that because I chose to paint a still life instead of painting a portrait like everyone else, I was absolutely going to fail.  I’ll never forget how astounded I was when my amazing teacher Archie Forrest, pulled my work from the bottom of the pile, making it an example of excellence.

Many years later, I still have to go back to this story when those insecure pesky doubts start creeping in.
Finding my own “voice” in my life is ongoing.  Whether it’s with the art I create, the d├ęcor I choose or how I parent, I’m learning to trust my instincts, and to own my “voice.”

A few or my risky hairstyles over the years, not necessarily the most beautiful choices, but I sure was expressing myself:)  The peroxide blonde was a mohican hairstyle growing out, and the one on the right is a very bad dreadlock which I ended up shaving off......

I’ve now been licensing my art for 12 years.  Licensing is a balancing act. It’s a marriage between good art and good design.  You have to be aware of what companies are looking for, and ultimately what the consumer will buy, while at the same time create what feels right.

Over the years I’ve had many successful products out in the world, but I’ve also had many rejections.  I’ve been told I’m “too sophisticated,” “too European,” “too whimsical,” “not commercial enough,” “too wonky.”  At the same time, my work has been successful for those exact reasons. I’m blessed to have worked with Joan Serena, who was the Christmas trim buyer for Macy’s.  She fell in love with my work after buying one of my Caspari Christmas cards, and sought me out at SURTEX to create a collection of my “Wonky” stars and angels for Macy’s.  Finding the right partner is key. 

It’s important to get feedback, because we artists often work in a vacuum, but it can be tricky too.   There are things that can be changed, like the subject matter or colors, but I believe your core, your sensibility, can’t be changed, otherwise you’re in danger of losing the essence of who you are.

I found this piece of wood and thought it'd make a great clothes rack for our new guest bedroom, who needs a wardrobe when you have a beautiful piece of wood like this
I feel most passionate about my craft when creating is a cathartic experience. Recently I’ve felt the need to merge more of my personal design style with my work.  I’ve always loved recycling and bringing together opposing materials like fine gold patina with the rough natural look of burlap.  I think it’s my wee way of expressing my yearning for tolerance, to show that even the most opposing things can be harmonious and beautiful when mixed together.

A new illustration I'll be showing at SURTEX

It can be scary taking risks and going in a new direction, and on the other hand it’s unbelievably exhilarating when you feel such deep passion about what you’re doing.

So as I move towards exhibiting at SURTEX this year, I’m keeping in mind to embrace change, to celebrate my uniqueness and to have faith in myself and my process, knowing that I’ve followed my heart.  And to my fellow SURTEXERS and creative folks, I wish for you to celebrate your uniqueness and to have faith that you are following your own path, regardless of the results.

Come visit me at SURTEX, booth  641....
see you soon

Communication - is the Key to Harmony

Like most couples, my husband Elliott and I have our “issues,” and some polar opposite ways of doing things.  One of them is hoarding vs. purging.  Even though I keep a lot of things because I love to recycle, I love to purge.  I hate clutter.  I confess there have been times when I’ve kicked myself because I’ve gone looking for something that I thought I’d kept, only to find I’d thrown it away.  But in general, I’d rather make a few mistakes like that, than become a pack rat.

Nothing gives me more satisfaction though, than finding a way to reuse something – a trait I got from my Mom who grew up in poverty in Glasgow.  She was the queen of recycling way before recycling became cool.  Admittedly there were times I hid my face, mortified when she would ask for a doggie bag or reuse an old envelope by trying to transform one name into another, but whether it was last night’s leftovers or re-covering an old sofa, she had a unique gift of making so many somethings out of nothing. 

Elliott's "Native American" Blanket
We have a lot of friends and family stay with us, so recently we reshuffled some rooms in our house to create a new guest bedroom.  Excited to decorate it, and in my usual way, wanting to use what I have, I pulled out Elliott’s old “Native American” blanket that he bought when he set out as an 18 year old to furnish his first dorm room - Elliott is now an “established” fifty something (and a fabulous looking one at that), so you can do the math.  I had tried to hide this blanket (unsuccessfully) from being taken out from under the piles of other blankets in our linen closet, because it doesn’t exactly “fit” into my personal aesthetic, and it certainly had not become some fabulous 70’s vintage find.

I’ve had all this lovely fabric samples from the “Quilting Bee” line I designed for Henry Glass beckoning me to use it for the longest time, so I decided I was going to re-cover Elliott’s blanket with them, along with some old white sheets that we no longer use. Excited to get started and forgetting about one of the keys to our lovely marriage - communication - I was happily at work upstairs in my studio when Elliott came to see what I was up to.  On seeing my new creation in progress he got quite sad watching his blanket disappear under the new fabrics that would cover it forever.  He instantly told me he didn’t want me to continue using it, which of course made me angry.  But like we always do, we sat down to talk, and in the course of our discussion, he realized it was hard for him to let go of something that had been with him for so long.  My anger dissipated and I understood, and was willing to find something else to use. In the end though, just recognizing the feeling was enough and he wanted me to continue with my project, as he loved what I was making.  More than that though, I know how much Elliott loves me and he is always my biggest champion regarding my creativity, so I believe he made the sacrifice purely to make me happy.

The result of all this is that we now have this beautiful double-sided blanket (and curtains) made with the two color ways from my Henry Glass fabrics.  And even though Elliott may not see his blanket, he knows it’s still there warming all the visitors that we so love welcoming into our home.  If he gets homesick for his old blanket, he can always click on this blog and look at these pictures, and Elliott honey, thank you for your continued support of my creativity and for all the wee compromises you make that may not be as simple as they appear.

Red Side Up
Red Trim Curtains with Burlap
Blue Side Up

Blue Trim Curtains with Burlap