College Chairs, #5 & #6

This gallery contains 55 photos.

Last week I got to do one of my favorite things in the world: hand deliver two finished college chairs. Now, I don’t actually get to see the reactions of Those Whose Houses In Which They Will Ultimately Reside (also known by the catchy acronym, TWHIWTWUR)…but I do get to deliver them to My All-Time […]

The College Chairs


Thought you’d maybe like to see what I’ve been up to with those college chairs I told you about!

Quick refresher: they’re to be presented to the Poets Laureate of Whittier College, the elite group of donors to the school. Each one features the same scene on the seat, the iconic view of Whittier’s Diehl Hall, with the 101-year old Rock in the foreground, often painted (as is the tradition) with the colors of that recipient’s society (which is like a fraternity or sorority), with the addition of Friday the Squirrel (also a piece of Whittier lore) popping up in different places.

The chair back is then devoted to more personal elements for each recipient, specific donations to the school, personal interests, awards, chocolate chip cookies…things like that.

So here’s what I’ve done so far:

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A lot of purple, a lot of squirrels, a lot of fun! There are at least four more coming up after these latest two are done…plus a new footstool order…geez, I better go get to work!

More treasure boxes–and now on Etsy!

I’ve been painting my widdle fingers to the bone around here, and have a fair bit to show for it!

The five boxes for She Who Came Up With the Idea in the First Place are signed, sealed, and delivered.

Here’s the group shot:906800_627842877253990_318286676_o






That middle one, for Lachlan, ended up being my favorite–the whole naughty-doggy thing resonates with me, I guess! Lachlan likes soccer, trains, and the Oregon Ducks, and loves his dog best of all. So here’s what I decided could have happened:

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And then finally, at long, long last, something for my own kids! Yay! They’re currently resting while the last layer of sealer dries, and then they’ll swiftly be wrapped and deposited under the Christmas tree.

I’m pretty thrilled with these, largely because they were actually designed by my kids, although they didn’t know that’s what they were doing! I just casually asked them, as I often do, what a boy who happened to be eight-almost-nine, and a girl who’s six-and-eight months, would like if they happened to get keepsake boxes. I think I was fairly subtle.

My son’s life goal is to be an oceanographer who invents the world’s best deep-sea submersible, and also is a paleontologist, who travels to the bottom of the ocean and finds mosasaur bones. He’s very specific. And I reeaaally need to ramp up the college-saving-plan, because that’s a lotta degrees.

So here’s what I think that looks like, with my own addition of a trusty co-pilot, Jango (our very own naughty doggy): 2013-12-13 12.30.20 2013-12-13 12.32.43  2013-12-13 12.31.58 2013-12-13 12.31.42 2013-12-13 12.31.25 2013-12-13 12.31.03 2013-12-13 12.30.43 HDR








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There had to be a shark, but I just could not bring myself to paint a Great White anywhere near my son, no matter how cool he would think it is. My theory is that a hammerhead would be a little more restricted in its ability to bite and/or maim. Please don’t burst my bubble.

























And of course, the hidden treasure, a megaladon tooth:

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Now, my daughter seemed to have a full-formed picture in her head: lilies on a pond, with ducklings swimming by, and a frog.

Instantly inspiring, and I was totally on board. But I think I went her one better:

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And since we couldn’t see little Mr. Diving Duck’s face, I decided to fix that.

2013-12-13 12.36.18 2013-12-13 12.35.53 Vòil2013-12-13 12.36.00a. The underside of water.
















I kinda can’t wait to give these to them…and really, I think I need to pay them a stipend for expanding my repertoire like this!

And in case you’re wondering (at least I hope you’re wondering), yes, you can now find this listed on Etsy, for a custom-designed treasure box of your very own! Click here to find it.

Just to clarify, I am offering two types of boxes, for two different prices: the top-and-side-panel version, with name painted on front (like Lachlan’s) for $159; or the all-over, comprehensive design for $225. Either style you choose, the design will be completely original, based on what is significant and beloved for YOUR child (or friend or aunt or about-to-be-married cousin or…). We’ll talk, I’ll get all sorts of ideas from you, and then I’ll get to work!

Oh, and it bears repeating again, these wonderful little boxes are all handmade from solid poplar, by a marvelous team of dad-and-sons at Designcraft Industries–they’re on Etsy and Facebook too! So if you want a different size, just ask me, and they will custom make it (for some additional cost, of course).

Can’t wait to get started on more of these!

Speed updating!

I just have half a minute–I’ve got a quasi-sick child home from school, so my plan for the day just got blown out of the water–but I wanted to give you a peek at what I’ve been up to–working as fast as I can on those cute treasure boxes I told you about! Three done (mostly), 4th in progress, one more to go…


Stay tuned for more!

Such goings on…


Hi folks…it’s been a while. How ya been?

Me? I’m flying apart at the seams…you know, the usual. Good flying apart, I promise! Here’s what I’ve been up to…

A lovely lady that I know personally wanted something special for her 5 grandchildren for Christmas. We were thinking footstools, talking design, and suddenly realized…wait, does an 11 year old boy really need a footstool? And does one house suddenly need to absorb three footstools. No, and no. Hmm. What to do.

Enter inspiration. Not mine, I might add! The lovely lady’s. Boxes! Keepsake boxes! Treasure boxes! The kind of thing my own kids keep weird and wonderful things like bone fragments and Mexican pesos and choice pieces of sparkly plastic in! Why have I never painted one of those before? It’s a perfect fit! It’s brilliant! All the whimsy and personalization anyone could want, almost zero impact on one’s current decorating phase!

Finding said boxes…this proved slightly challenging. Try Googling them sometime, I dare you. The ones you find easily, those craft boxes? Move along, nothing to see here folks. I didn’t move along, I ordered. I opened. I sanded. I put pieces back together that fell off in my hand. Twice. Um, no. Just…no. Not sure what they would be appropriate for, but not for anything you want to last longer than next week. Despair set in…

Etsy to the rescue! Enter fabulous handmaker-of-boxes, Designcraft Industries. Love. LOVE. Hearts-and-flowers type love. Solid hardwood, made to order, stay in one piece, possibly forever…magic. See?

Designcraft box 1 Designcraft box 2










So, one down, one in progress…

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Three and three-quarters to go…maybe another order pending…maybe a couple for my own kids, if they’re really nice to me. Boxes are my new love affair. (Don’t tell my husband)







But wait!! There’s more!!


Remember that awesome table and stools set? Allow me to refresh your memory…


Riiiiiight….that one.





So, it now lives with an equally awesome family, the super-duper-mommy-figure of which works at a college. And she likes what I paint. And they need personalized chairs for said college. To give to some fairly important people. You see where I’m going here? Yeah. First installment, we are a go.

1374426_10151764496677600_181618278_nImagine something similar to this, with my artwork displayed on it…artfully.

5 chairs now…maybe 5 more later on. After that…who knows? New vendor with really cool stuff to work with as a result of this project–not new actually, I use Whittier Wood stools all the time

(you know, these?)



but now I get to deal with them directly, small business to large business! And I get my hands on their chairs!

Aaaaaand…I now know what I want for Christmas: more work space! Forget about one corner of the garage, I’m taking the whole thing! I am envisioning tables and shelves and nooks and crannies, stuff suspended from the ceiling, brushes and paint and sandpaper in dedicated spots, maybe even a garage sink (be still my heart) all for me, me, me!!!

When I get back from my power trip, I really need to get to work.

How the heck did summer get here already??

Goodness, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?? The last month or two has felt semi-insane…I’ve been so very busy painting–and surviving the end of the kids’ school year, and most recently, the extra special chaos that is Vacation Bible School (not over yet, cross your fingers for me) that I’ve sorta neglected to post stuff. In a loooong time. Sorry about that! Whew…alrighty then, time to catch up. Wanna see what I’ve been up to? Good, I was hoping you’d say that!

OK…so, remember in one of my last posts, I mentioned that I was taking on a BIG project, that whole kitchen set thing? Well, it’s almost done…and I think it might just possibly be kinda awesome. Here’s the premise: the client decided on a travel theme, with the table depicting scenes from their home turf, the LA area…and then each of the stools representing a special destination meaningful to their family.

Well, wait…here, easier to show than tell:

Here’s the compass-themed top.158 I think it’s kinda groovy.

Here’re the various spots around L.A.–you may recognize many of these!

159 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 169 170

194Each table leg features a phrase or two from the region depicted on the stools (more on those in a minute)…201 202 203195 198 199 200…And the passport stamps on the central barrel are inspired by stamps from the client’s actual passport!


And…viola…the stools themselves!

We’ve got Paris, with the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and the carousel….


…London with Big Ben, double decker bus (with an almost-hidden “London 2012 Olympics” billboard), and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground…

…Hong Kong, with Victoria Harbor and the Star Ferry. 282

…and Boston, with the Swan Boats, Boston Common, and a certain family group of ducks…262


See? I’ve been busy! I’m in love with this concept…I think I want one of these myself!!

Introducing…(fanfare please)…a brand new venue for my Useable Art!

I am so pleased to announce a whole new venue for my Useable Art, a new platform, heck, a new ideology!! See, an odd little set of events over the last few weeks led me to a company I had never heard of before: Somebody in their marketing division came across my Facebook page, and sent me the email equivalent of a cold call, which I confess I very nearly ignored as spam–so glad I rethought that!

I looked into it, discovered that it is an actual company, is listed with the Better Business Bureau, and exists solely to be a matchmaker (their word) between “Makers” and…well…Those Who Want Things Made, I guess.

In other words, it’s a platform for custom crafted goods. Nothing pre-made, each and every project unique, one of a kind, with buyers who are already on board with the custom mind set. Right. Up. My. Alley.

This opens up so many possibilities…really, the sky’s the limit! So while I love and am keeping my Etsy shop, I also now have a newly-launched Custom Made profile. Let the fun begin.

Here come the “twins!” Custom ordered footstools


imageGot to ship these little cuties off this morning–the client and I have taken to calling them the “twins” (fraternal, of course).

This was SUCH a fun process, and completely collaborative with the client. Every little item on top of the stools represents what her grandkids like to do when they visit, what they might find when exploring, and the general theme of the “bunk room”  where they stay (I’m dying to see pictures of this room: train-berth-style bunk beds, a horse collar framing the mirror, cowboys and bandana print and red-and-white-check…completely charming, yes?). Even the flowers are ONLY species that grow locally–what would I do without the internet as a research tool??image

It’s kind of like a surfeit of riches when your client shares your esthetic, and is a genuinely creative person in their own right, and is both willing to let you as an artist stretch your imagination, and have terrific, on-point suggestions that truly improve the concept and design. Can’t really get better!image

So meet the twins–as the client said, they are “precious and while different…equally delightful!”imageimageimage

Holy Paintbrushes, Batman!

I’m kinda bursting with glee. Like, I’m wiggling around in my seat right now, can’t sit still, can’t quite keep the happy from sizzling and jiving from the ends of my bedhead hair right down to my toes and out into my ratty slippers…it’s really, really good that you can’t see me right now.

Remember last week I told you about delivering that pretty, switched-up trompe l’oeil chair?



<—–You know, this one?




And here it is in its new home! Leah Chair 2 Leah Chair 3

Love this…don’t often get to see my pieces in their new context, so this is especially gratifying! And could you just die over the adorable lavender room??


Anyway, about two seconds after I passed the chair into the client’s waiting hands, she started asking about a handpainted kitchen table, and stools to go around it. I think I managed to contain the jolt of excitement and answer with calm, professional competence, but it’s good I was wearing sunglasses, ’cause my eyes may have looked a little crazy.

So we’ve been emailing back and forth. A LOT. Nailed down a design which is just going to be all kinds of awesome.

Pedastal and table top


<——one of these




Round scoop seat stool



<——with 4 of these




Soooooo….yesterday marked a new adventure for me in my paintiness, and a bunch of firsts all in one: first big sale, first repeat customer, first kitchen set, most ambitious, all-encompassing design. Don’t wanna give too much away about that yet, but think travel theme, iconic landmarks both local and international….yeah. So, so cool.


My husband is happy about this for a wholly different reason: he finally has my buy-in and commitment to helping clean out the garage–which I would normally attempt to avoid by any means up to and including faking a seizure–just so I have the proper space to work on this piece. So I see an official, organized, dedicated workspace in my future that is NOT in my dining room. More happy sizzly wiggles. Bring it on, 2013, I like your style!




This month has been a time of learning, of reflection, of meditation….NOT!! This month has been running-full-tilt-into-gale-force-winds busy. I’m operating at Defcon 5. I think. Not really sure I have a firm grasp of the defcons.

Anyway, said insane busy-ness actually has caused a little reflection, nonetheless; sort of a by-product, an accidental side effect, like radiation sickness only without the hair loss. Like…I have discovered that I have far less free time than I thought, time when I can focus on something other than my children and their various needs, wants, activities, and nuclear meltdowns, time when I can be utterly absorbed in my painting. Far, FAAAAAAR less. This is good to know.

This led to another discovery, which is that I can have several projects going and children clean, fed, and where they need to be, OR a clean house. (If any of you show up at my door, I’m telling you right now I won’t be home. Even if I am. Or I’ve been eaten by monster dust bunnies. In which case I’m still not home.) I should add blogging as another “OR.” Also, excellent information to have, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that I need a housekeeper. Clearly. (note to self: figure out how to pitch this to spouse)

Happily, this forced reevaluation of my time management has led me to develop, quite unintentionally, an skill that had eluded me till now: the ability to drop my paintbrush, go break up a fight/put on a band aid/make dinner, come back and pick up the brush, and slip right back into that same head space. It’s like guerrilla creativity tactics. Love. It. This would be the up side of radiation sickness…?

But today, I’m taking a break. I’m blogging (you may have noticed). I’m NOT putting on my painting jeans–cute skinny jeans instead. I just had the rare treat of delivering one of my pieces in person (client #2, below)–which means I got to witness the First Look, wallowed in it, can now remember it & replay it for days & days & derive unending joy from it. Totally worth coming out of my hole for! I get to do that again over the weekend (client #1)…major, major up sides.

So…in this momentary lull, I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to.

IMG_0365IMG_0458 IMG_0460 Client #1











Client #2IMG_0469

Variation on the “Lulu”, with fewer ribbons, but added flowers and butterflies. Butterflies are super fun to paint! May have to incorporate more of these in the future.

















Client #3, work in progress! Customized to client’s color scheme, and with all sorts of locale-specific items making an appearance–stuff that will have meaning for her grandkids!




There’s a client #4 and #5 waiting in the wings, and another possible (even bigger) project with one of the above clients…very exciting stuff! I think today may be the only break I get in a while. And I’m rather okay with that.

Don’t forget to check me out on Etsy, and on Facebook!