Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A Woodland Witch!

Sometimes a commission comes along that is so inspiring, you just don't want the painting process to end. Such was the case with this woodland witch, who will soon be making a long journey to her new home in the wilds of western Canada...

She was painted in acrylics on a wood panel, but I loved her so much, I asked my friend Jennifer (of Jennifer MacNeill Photography) to take a photo for prints, which are now in the Etsy shop. I'm ordering one for myself as well, to grace the walls of the Gypsy themed guest room here at Sparrow's Rest. :)

I'll be back soon with a peek at works in progress for the Bewitching Peddlers of Halloween show (Sept 30th, in Marshall, MI), but in the meantime, it's nose to the grindstone - far too much work to accomplish and never enough time!

Until then, thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Old Soul"

Just popping in to share the latest EHAG Emporium offering, titled "Old Soul". I adore owls, and barn owls in particular. Yes, I know they're predators, but they have such wise and gentle faces...

This particular fellow adorns a wooden treasure box, and features a single feather accent on the inside. Details about purchase can be found in the listing at the EHAG Emporium.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to visit, and to view my work. I'll be back very soon with a peek at offerings and works in progress for the upcoming show. In the meantime, I'm hoping this guy finds a good home. :)

♥ Carolee

Friday, July 6, 2018

Of Mother Cabrini, Compassion, and a Very Good Cause

Moved by recent events, and what most reasonable Americans consider the shameful US policy of separating families at our southern border, I recently dropped everything I had pending (including a pretty full commission schedule) to work on this original painting...

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - also known as Mother Cabrini - was the first American Saint, and an immigrant herself; a woman who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in New York, and spent her life establishing hospitals, orphanages, and generally serving the then largely Italian immigrant community. She was canonized in 1946, and is now known as the patron saint of immigrants.

One wonders what she would think of US policy today?

I have no doubt she would be in complete agreement with Pope Francis, who recently stated “Before the challenges of contemporary movements of migration, the only reasonable response is one of solidarity and mercy."

Solidarity and mercy.

Here's the thing. Immigrants do not detract from our country, they ENRICH it. From encouraging economic development (in creating a need for more services, jobs, infrastructure, etc) to serving in our military, to increasing the tax base (with US birth rates down, new citizens make a valuable contribution to programs like social security and medicare), to enriching us educationally and culturally. 

I live and work in Lancaster PA, a city which has more refugees per capita than any other city in the US (about 20x more), and our city is THRIVING. We are the richer for these new residents' presence, and we welcome them with open arms. The organization largely responsible for serving the immigrant and refugee population here is Church World Service. They provide help with resettlement, employment, housing, and legal services. 

In painting Mother Cabrini, I wanted to donate a portion of the print sales to an organization here in my own community, because I believe in activism at the local level. To that end twenty percent of all print sales from this piece will be donated to Church World Services on a monthly basis. Further to this, there's a print sale in my Etsy shop running for the entire month of July, where two or more prints are 50% off (although the donation amount will be the full percentage) - so if you're so inclined you can help a wonderful organization, and capture a couple of pieces of my art too. ;)

(As a side note, the "King of Mice Studios" watermark does not appear on the print, it's only for copyright protection here.)

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I hope you'll join me in doing what we can to help out and to speak up. 

#immigrantsareus #familiesbelongtogether #stopseparatingfamilies #endchilddetention #reunitefamilies #resist

Friday, May 4, 2018

"Fifty and Other F-Words", by the Fearless, Frank and Fabulous Margot Potter

Like thousands of other Creatives, I've known and followed Margot Potter online for several years, and always considered her a kindred spirit. We didn't meet in person until the summer of 2016, a few short months after the death of my husband, at a time when life was pretty much kicking my ass as I attempted to navigate a future without this man who had been my partner of over 36 years. We've had frank discussions about everything from art and creativity to politics, from feminism and raising strong daughters to empty nest syndrome, and through it all, she's been nothing short of an inspiration. 

Margot is self described as "Three notches too loud, five notches too sparkly, aging disgracefully, over 50 and fearless." (Although I don't really believe there's such a thing as Too Sparkly, but there's an artist's perspective for you, hehe.)

 Margot's latest book, "Fifty and Other F-Words; Reflections from the rear View Mirror" launched this week, and in her typical generous spirit, she's celebrating the book launch by interviewing seven "kick ass warrior women", in whose company I am beyond honored to stand (although I can't help but admit to an initial Wayne and Garth moment of "I'm unworthy!"). 

Find the interview here, on Margot's blog - and do read on for further interviews; these women are truly inspiring, and shining examples of hitting our stride in our fifties and beyond. 

And DO pick up and/or order the book! No matter your age - whether fifty is still in your future, or in that rear view mirror, its humor and encouragement will inspire you, I promise. 

Here's to redefining mid life, and to just getting started!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Knitter and The Stash

As both an artist and a knitter, I was surprised to learn recently there were no knitting superheros out there. So of course, I had to fix that, hehe...

Introducing "Knitter"...

And "The Stash"...

I have both originals here in the studio, painted in acrylics on deep, 9" x 12" gallery canvas, and haven't yet decided if I'd like to part with them. So for now, prints are available in the Etsy shop (click here). I think they'd make a fun gift for a knitter, so hope a few of them find homes. :)

In other news, there was a bit of a Facebook kerfuffle last month, after one of my St. Gertrude prints was appropriated by someone to make a meme - which turned out to be shared over 20,000 times before I finally got wind of it, and asked to be credited. The people I contacted graciously did so, and it resulted in quite a few print orders. But I can't help but think what it would have been like had credit been given BEFORE all those shares... All of this is to say, if you see my work - or any artist's work, really - and it is not credited, please inform the artist, and ask whoever is sharing to please give proper credit.(And I should add a huge thank you to all my friends who did just that.)

Lots of other pieces are in the works this month, including quite a few custom ornaments, and one or two more canvases. Please follow my Facebook page to keep up with works in progress, studio happenings, events and the occasional giveaway. I try to post there every day or two, so it's updated far more frequently than my poor neglected blog here. ;)

Anyway, as always, thanks for visiting, and please do leave a comment if you're so inclined. I do love hearing from you!

Until next time,
♥ Carolee

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Woodland Magic!

Hello, there!

I know it's been ages since I've posted, but between the holidays (all those commissioned ornaments!), and a rather full work and social schedule, well.... No excuse really, just LIFE. ;)

But I'm so excited about these new pieces I wanted to share them with you...

"Woodland Friends", originally painted on a tea chest, and now available as a print...

And "Woodland Ceilidh", acrylic on canvas, also available as a print...

To purchase either, and to view other prints, click here

I'm so pleased with these I'll be ordering a couple of prints for myself as well (the originals have both sold), and since I'm still having a bit of a love affair with this teal/turquoise/jewel toned palette, look for one more tea chest coming soon, inspired by "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

Until next time, wishing you all a Happy, Health and *magical* 2018!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Me Too?

Me too.

I was sexually assaulted by my high school art teacher.

It's taken 40 years to admit that to myself or anyone else, to say it out loud. To call it assault. To accept that I was manipulated in the worst, most selfish way possible by a man three times my age. And even now, the memory of that time is complicated. Because of that experience, for most of my adult life, art has been a double-edged sword; torturous and joyful.

Making art is all I ever wanted to do.

As a child, the sense of pure pleasure from drawing images on paper is one of my earliest memories. In a time when parents didn't often spend hard earned money on art supplies for small children, I coveted those pieces of white cardboard that came with my Father's new dress shirts. My Mother would tear open the packages, hand me the blank white paper with rounded corners, so filled with possibility, and I would find photos of people and animals to draw with a number two pencil. By grade school I was quite good for my age, always the class artist, winning art awards and contests, and enjoying both the process and the attention it brought.

By high school, art was what defined me. I could no more not draw and paint
than I could not breathe. It was like oxygen. When the chance came along to spend half my day studying Commercial Art at the technical school adjacent to the high school, I jumped at it.

My art teacher was a charismatic man in his late 40's, beloved by most of his students and respected in the community. And owing to my artistic ability (or so I assumed) I pretty quickly became a cliche; the other kids called me "teacher's pet".

Courted (today, we'd call it "groomed") by this man I so admired, he approached me on the first day of my junior year with the proposition that our relationship become "something more." If it didn't, he said, he would resign his teaching position. He couldn't bear to see me every day, and "not have me". If he stayed, he "WOULD have me". Pretty heady stuff for a girl who'd just turned sixteen. Flattered and terrified, I remember shaking uncontrollably for most of that morning at school - teeth chattering, trembling. And I remember him laughing and saying I was probably in shock. 

What followed was a two-and-a-half-year Svengali like relationship where making art became hopelessly tangled up in this new personal relationship. He mentored and encouraged me, and before long I was no longer making art for the pleasure of the process, or the sense of achievement it gave, but for his approval, his attention. It - and he - became all consuming. With the excuse of doing photo shoots, or working on community art projects, we spent a lot of time together outside of school, which involved increasing physical intimacy. On one occasion when things were progressing far too fast, I stopped him, saying I didn't think I was ready yet; not in that setting, not there, not then. His reaction was a mix of hurt and anger, and the expectation that I should be grateful he didn't force me, because he was "a gentleman". It was my first experience with a man feeling entitled to a woman's body, and while I thought his irritation was unfair, it worked. I actually felt bad. 

One evening during my senior year, after we'd both consumed several glasses of scotch at a local bar, he pulled the car over on a deserted road, and I gave in. The rest of the year was filled with drama and deception. While my classmates were going to football games and prom, I was going to dark restaurants and motels with a man 32 years my senior. In my teenage naïveté and inexperience, I found it romantic and dangerous and exciting. And he knew how to play that. The control he had over me was absolute. I would have willingly and happily walked into a burning building had he asked me.

Soon after graduation,
everything came crashing down. Faced with warnings from several sources, including school administrators who could no longer ignore the situation (some of whom had known all along, reacting initially with an envious nudge-wink, and a cautionary "be careful"), he ended it. Feeling very much the fool, and unable to face the thought of life in the same small town as this man, I moved 3000 miles away.

It was many years before I picked up a pencil or paintbrush again.

I fell in love with a good man, married him, had a child, and threw myself into home and family. Years passed - I worked a few part time jobs, and eventually found a job doing crystal engraving. It was enough like making art to make me want more. College enrollment followed, and I began taking art electives. I'll never forget the moment in a well-known watercolorist's life drawing class when I thought, "Yes! This is it! I remember this now!"  

Making art felt good again. And it didn't hurt when this new teacher, someone I respected and whose work and process I greatly admired (and still do), quietly told me one day as we all drew from the model, "You have talent. You can go as far as you want with this." I'm sure he had no idea how much those words of encouragement meant. I'm happy to say that while I haven't gone nearly as far as I'd like, I haven't looked back. 

More classes followed, more art related jobs, more drawing, more painting, just – moreI was back at that point where I wanted to absorb it all, soak it all in. The best way to describe the process is like awakening from a very deep sleep, or rising to the surface after years underwater. And today, I make a very modest, if uncertain, living as a contemporary folk artist.

I'm sure a therapist could have a field day with all this, but to be honest, I prefer the therapy the creative process provides. Art is a long-lost friend with whom I've been reunited. It listens. It heals old wounds. It's my happiness, my refuge, my solace, my prayer, and my hope for the future. 

With that rather complicated back story, here's my small contribution to the "Me Too" movement. It was cathartic and empowering to paint. The message is presented in different languages, because sexual assault is universal. There is a crowd of women, because solidarity matters. The sunrise represents hope. And I chose to use a photo of a dear friend's 11 year old daughter as reference; a child who, like my own, I care a great deal about. A child who I hope and pray will never in her life have to say "me too".