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Two Shows!

Hi all y’all,

We are starting the festival season here in New Orleans. There are many things to do every weekend from now until after Mardi Gras. This weekend I am lucky enough to have art in 2 locations.

Mr. Mario Padilla has invited my paintingFly” of Frida Kahlo to be in his show.

I am definitely not going to miss this next year.

I dropped Frida off while they were setting up last night. The Healing Center looked amazing. Really great art and music. I hear there will be a parade.

Miss Mandie from Downtown Chic Salon has invited me to share 10 paintings at Fall for Art.

I will be here.

I feel so fortunate and grateful for double invitations.

I finished Dancing in the Moonlight (alternately The Happy Family). I like the family. They look like New Orleans to me. I decided against button eyes and their mouths sewn shut. With the baby in the picture, it was going to look too gruesome. I just wanted them to look recently departed and back for a visit.I probably decided to paint them because of the Fall weather and Day of the Dead being just a couple of weeks away.

Dancing in the Moonlight

They are wearing many of the same colors as the night sky. You can see that the children inherited their mother’s chin. It was fun to see the family resemblances. I secretly have always liked the mother to pass down the genes.

Maggie wants another baby in their family in real life, so she asked me to paint a baby in the picture.

Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite days. I spend time honoring and remembering loved ones that have passed over. I have a box of photos I look through that I have collected and pick a few for the altar. I don’t put everyone up because I would be too crowded, but looking through the pictures is part of the honoring and I think the departed understand.

My mom and I had a shaky relationship. She passed on several years ago.

I recently found a picture of the two of us enjoying time together. I am going to see if I like having the picture up in our house. Sometimes it takes a long time for forgiveness and understanding. At least for me it does. It turns out the altar is healing as well as honoring.

Wishing you healing and a lovely Fall.

With an open heart,

Gator Girl

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Dancing in the Moonlight

Hi all y’all!

It is Saturday, the last day I allow myself to blog. I don’t know why the procrastination. I am also procrastinating finishing Dancing in the Moonlight. I am enjoying the family so much that I don’t want it to be over.

(The father’s cigarette ash is my favorite part. He is waiting almost too long to tap it off. )

Dancing in the Moonlight, nearing completion

I also call it Happy Family, but that is not the real name. I was going to sew buttons on for eyes and sew their mouths shut with embroidery thread in a cross-stitch. I am not going to do that now, because I think they would look too scary. I want the family obviously visiting from the other side, but not scary. I did put the cosmetic bag material on the mother’s dress and daughter’s tights. You can’t really tell, except for the shimmer and it feels lovely to touch. The moon has glow-in-the-dark paint as the last coat. Awesome with the lights off.

Right now, my favorite people to paint are recently dead. I like the colors better than skeletons or the living. With that in mind, it is odd that my next painting will have dragonfly wings.

My daughter and my daughter’s sister-in-law (let’s just call them Katy and Antonia) went to the Green Project and saw a lot of broken glass. They put it in a bag thinking I could make a snoball painting with it. How sweet of them.  Some of the glass is from a car wreck and looks just like dragonfly wings. I am looking forward to trying it out.

We are having a little trouble decorating for Halloween this year. Maggie and Raffi don’t like anything scary. Maggie says when she has a Halloween store, she will only have unicorns and puppies. She has asked me so many times to change the hand that scares her in the candy bowl so it will give the candy instead of grabbing the hand that reaches in the bowl. Finally, I get that they don’t want to be scared.

This is the bowl that I am talking about.

I told Maggie that I had an idea. When the little kids come to the door, I will hand them some candy with my hand. She said that is a great idea.

Until next week my loves,

Gator Girl

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My Mentor, My Love

Hi all y’all,

I need to write 2 distinct blogs on this beautiful day in October. I have  been consciously putting off adding Shiloh Sophia to my list of Artists I Adore. I don’t believe I can do her justice. Today, I decided to offer my best and that will be enough.

Shiloh changed my life. She helped be to discover my dream and gave me the tools to get there. Shiloh is the founder of Cosmic Cowgirls. The idea came to her when she was just a girl. She has always wanted to empower and connect women. One thing that I remember vividly is when she needed two other women to help her run her growing business, she painted 3 women standing together. The perfect women showed up in the perfect time.

When I wanted to move to New Orleans, I started painting alligators. Alligators were all I wanted to paint for 2 years. To me alligators were the symbol and the means to adventure.

One of the classes I took with Shiloh was called Leading a Legendary Life. It was a 6 month Internet course that we begged Shiloh to continue for a year. In that course, we painted the 4 directions of our life. My Southern direction was Louisiana, being an Artist and living in New Orleans. My Northern direction were my Roots and my desire to stay connected to my family. Eastern was health. In the East, I was led to a group where I released 100 pounds. My Western direction turned into Vacation and Travel as California would no longer be my home. All of the canvases came to life.

Since this is a blog and not a book, I will let you follow Shiloh’s link  to learn more.

Part II

I am painting a family from the other side of life. The happy family is dancing in the moonlight. I love celebrating Dio De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. I will include a picture of my altar at the end of the month.

Dancing in the Moonlight, in progress

I am taking an online class from Jane Davenport. I am feeling more confident painting bodies. I am also trying some new techniques. I rolled a thick coat of Liquitex Professional Heavy Body Phthalocyanine Blue over the whole canvas. Next, I brushed in swirls.  The moon is painted on dry gel medium applied with a motel key card. Swiping the card made some nice grooves. For the girl’s tights, I used a trick I learned on Pinterest. I put a nail in the eraser part of a pencil and used the head of the nail to make black polka dots. I am going to apply a shiny fabric, that used to be  a gift bag for bath products, over the mother’s dress and the girls tights using acrylic varnish. I think the fabric will seem a little other worldly and add some shine and movement.

I am going to say good-bye now. I trust that if you need Shiloh in your life, you will find her. She is a genius for helping you to realize your dreams.

If you have your dream, carry it, nurture it, speak it, do something towards it every day.

With unreasonable love and an open heart,

Gator Girl

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Stand Up!

Hi All y’all,

I hope this Friday finds you just where you want to be.

I am nearing completion on Stand Up.

Nearing Completion on Stand Up.

I still need to whiten up her skin tone. I am going to keep the comic book outlines. I am portraying her as a shero. She is wearing an outfit like Wonder Woman. She has tiny gold stars strewn through her hair at Maggie’s suggestion. I like the tiny-ness and the 3 D-ness of the stars. I still have those wonderful words from Kitty Cavalier to add. Because it is an extra thick canvas, I am going to type the words and put them around the outside edge.

I am starting a super fun painting called Bee Love. I went to a gardening seminar, put on by the Master Gardeners of Greater New Orleans. I learned some fascinating bee facts. Did you know that the worker bees are female? That drones only exist for mating? And bees have certain jobs like undertaker and hive cleaner? They are amazing little insects.

Bee Love blocked out

I bought a linen canvas for Bee Love. So far I love it. It is tight and smooth. I painted the canvas with black gesso so I can start out on a black background. I haven’t ever done that before, my backgrounds are usually 3 colors. Hmm. She will be a cute little worker bee with curly pink hair.

I got into the Pussyfooters! Woot, Woot-woot! I will be marching in pink! Miss Heather nominated me. Here is a peak at her thank you card.

Thank you Miss Heather

I am taking a drawing class on-line with the fabulous Jane Davenport. Our assignment is to draw a super model. Heather sure looks like a super model to me.

I would love to stay and chat, but my paints are calling.

Until next week,

Never ending love,

Gator Girl


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Let it begin with me.

Hi all y’all! It’s Friday in September.

My mind is on a theme that is creating power within me. I want to paint about change. My reoccurring thought is… Why can’t things be better? Why should anybody go to bed hungry? Why do innocent people die in the  name of war every day? Why don’t we stand up for health care and be our own advocates for our own bodies?

I am working on a new painting. I tried sketching out what I wanted to paint instead of diving right in, but I had just as many start-overs (3). This painting is a fair-skinned woman with ginger hair. Weirdly, I had a lot of trouble yesterday thinking of  white women as soulful and wise. I shouldn’t even say this, but women of color come easier for me. So… I started listing in my mind the 100’s of soulful and wise women I know. I chose one strong and intelligent woman I admire to loosely model my painting after. Now I am over-the-top in love with the process.

I need to remember, and you might find this helpful… the time that seems wasted and unproductive is not ours to judge. I think the down time leading up to something is the time we need to process and see the signs, feel the intuition, and even wait for the materials to show up.

Stand Up in progress

The words say, “The time I used to spend worrying about my image, I now spend in revolution. Stand up.” I don’t ever like red and blue, except to make purple, but it is what it wants to be.

I am painting over my original words in total, so they will be only there in spirit later on. The words that I am going to put on the painting I read in another blog called, “The Diary of Kitty Cavalier”. This is the link to Kitty’s website. The words are as follows:

When a woman chooses to source her truth from within her very bones, rather than looking to a set of rules outside of herself, she is truly wise. When she can stand up and speak a truth that is boiling up inside her no matter how big a risk it is to speak it, she is claiming her wild soul, perfect and untamed.  When 5,000 years of conditioning is telling her that her way is wrong, but she decides right then and there that her way is right, and in fact, always has been, she is finally free.

Let it begin with me. is done. I like the muted look of the bee’s wax around the woman. I glazed her with varnish 3 times to make her shine and be safe from the dangers of the world.

Let it begin with me. You can’t see the very bottom of the painting, but there is a little slip of paper that has the title.

I have 3 questions for you.

I might add another layer to the background to make the painting more uniform. What do you think?

Also, I am deciding if I want to sell prints and Giclee’s any more. I like the energy and the textures in the original paintings. What is driving me to continue selling reproductions is that I want people to have something affordable. Any thoughts? Do you think my Etsy prints are affordable?

Last, but not least, wise words from a 4 year old, “Nena, you might want to spend a long time on your paintings, but mine is done!” Wise beyond her years, she is already listening to her heart.

Wow. I feel like I can hardly breathe with excitement. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

All of my love,

Gator Girl

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Follow Your Heart

Hi all y’all,

Hurricane Isaac is now Tropical Storm Isaac. I was a little too nervous to write before and during the storm. Mostly, I just waited him out. Everyone handles situations differently. My husband went out and cleaned the storm drains on our street when there was a break in the wind. I just waited. My daughter had everyone over for beer and board games because they still had power. I just waited. What was the best thing to do? I guess you have to follow your heart.

While I was waiting, I thought about painting. I worked on this all day yesterday. It is called, “Let it Begin with Me”. Today, I think she may be called, “Follow Your Heart”. I am sure it will all become clear when she is done.

Let it Begin With Me

Big changes during the painting. She started out looking like a white girl in the 70’s and changed to a prayerful                African-American woman. She isn’t finished yet.

Maggie painted along side of me most of the day. She told me when she finishes a painting she always sings a little song. The end of it was… let your imagination sing. 4 years old is such a nice, open age … but not without concerns.

Maggie’s Girl in Progress

Maggie asked for a canvas the same shape as I was working on. I gave her a smaller canvas with the same shape.

Yesterday, Maggie asked me for some advice.

She said, “I have a feeling to stomp evil rabbits, and I don’t know why.”

I said, “Look in your heart and see how you would feel if you stomped the rabbits. What does your heart tell you?”

To my surprise, Maggie replied, ” My heart wants me to stomp evil rabbits.”

I told her, “Well, I think you should follow your heart. That is all we can do.”

… Follow your heart, because that is all we can do.

With a prayerful, loving heart,

Gator Girl

Disclaimer: No imaginary evil rabbits were stomped or harmed in any way. I hope they were persuaded to change their evil ways in a gentler manner.

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The Good News and Could Be Better News

Hi all y’all,

I will start with the good news. It seems like everyone had a fun time at our party. We got to meet some new people. A few of the new people live in our neighborhood. Some were soccer buddies of my son-in-law or people he builds for. Teachers from Harriet Tubman “represented” (as they like to say). Many of the guests were friends and family. My 80 year old uncle Anthony  drove in from St. Gabriel. He looked at every picture for a long time and left me a check for a Giclee of Heart of the Hurricane. He is such a sweet man.

Heart of the Hurricane
Snoball for Miss Ashley
Snoball for Miss Ashley

I painted this picture for Ashley Hansen unsolicited. I was happy to hear she likes it.

A collage of the party.

If you picture if not here, I apologize. This is just a sampling and I didn’t get pictures of everyone. Katy darling, you are not here because you stuck your tongue out at the camera.

Miss Michelle is in the bottom right. She made everyone’s night fun. She entertained the 3 and under crowd at my daughter Angela’s house. The little ones were thrilled to have their own party. Michelle is an angel.

If you couldn’t make it to our house. There is always next time. I hope to see you then, if not before.

OK. The not so great news for us, but great news for Harris Park. The Allstate Foundation and the Drew Brees Foundation in collaboration with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids chose  Harris Park in the Gentilly Woods for the park grant. This wasn’t the first time Harris Park applied for the grant. Two schools and a church will also use the playground. Since Angela and I have already written the grant, it will be easy to tweak for the next round of applications. Friends of Samuel Square Park had great support from the community in letters, money and the promise of volunteers. It is just a matter of time.


With a heart full of gratitude.

Gator Girl

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Making Amends

Good Afternoon all y’all,

It is almost August, if you can believe it. Exactly two weeks until our Gator Girl Art and Friends of Samuel Square Party. If you are in or around New Orleans, I hope you come by.

Angela and I sent our application in for a huge grant to improve Samuel Square. I have a good feeling about it. It is for $75,000 and their decision is between two parks. It might be good if you picture us at the ribbon cutting of the new playground.

Today, I am going to share the finished Making Amends. I chose the name because those were the words that refused to be covered.

Making Amends Completed

I oiled and varnished the frame. I like the rich brown color. The wood is the top half of a door. The top hinge is still on the right. I couldn’t decide why the painting wasn’t finished for a while. Then I put the sun further back and voilà.

Close up of her face.

I feel like I know her.

Close up of her baby.

I think he is going to do something special for the world.

I am getting some giclee’s made, framing a print, making a menu. It is exciting to have a party. My Aunt Grace is coming with three of her childhood girlfriends, so I already know it will be fun.

Until later,

You are always in my heart,

Gator Girl

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Between Roots and Wings

Good morning all y’all!

We are mid-way in the year of the dragon, the year of possibilities. It is kind of overwhelming in an exciting kind of way, don’t you think?

Today, I decided to share the finished Raven Wisdom and the young woman with revolving names. I call her Hopeful Anticipation, but I will explain that later.

Raven Wisdom

I delivered Raven to California last week. I don’t have a picture of him framed. The frame was really cool. I used dark green reclaimed wood from the Green Project. The best part of the frame was a shelf along the bottom to put shiny trinkets, gems and crystals that Raven might like. There are hinge holes on the right-side bottom of the frame where I hung a string of burlap with dangling wing and heart milagras.

Hopeful Anticipation

I can see my painting becoming more urban. I like it. I offered a contest to name this painting. I liked many ideas. I decided to leave the words off of the original, because I like the painting this way, too. I didn’t want to limit her. Limitless Possibilities? See, her  name keeps evolving.

My idea is to send the photo to the print shop for prints and giclees and add different words to the copies. It will make each copy an original. I will post later what that looks like. I will send a print to those people who sent me words that I use. It’s not too late for you!

I am totally engrossed with my new painting of Freida Kahlo as a skeleton. I don’t know if I will make prints, because the frame is totally part of the painting. I will post the process of Freida next week.

Until then,

With an ever expanding heart,

Gator Girl

Really Beyond Excited about Raven!

Good Morning!

When I wrote in my profile that I am living, working and thriving in New Orleans, I am.

I have been painting for Raven Wisdom Studio in Chico. That is my sister’s place. I kept putting Raven aside and working on it little by little. When I started looking at each area  of the painting. One of my favorite parts of the painting didn’t please me any more. It looked too dark. Raven’s can be a little dark, themselves, and I didn’t want to portray that. Also, it was lacking whimsy, which I really like.

Today, I could feel the excitement of creating pumping through my veins. I ripped up paper and painted without even a sip of my coffee.

Right now the frame is drying. I don’t love framing, because I am not confident with it yet, or competent. I am too impatient to wait for help so I just push ahead. I am liking this frame.

Clean wood.
Part one of Raven Wisdom

After I cut the old wood, I scrub it with soap and water. I love old, but don’t think dirty is good in a house.

The Frame

This was super fun. I painted the heart, filled it with love, turned it upside-down and sprayed it with water. When I turned it over it looked like flames.

Raven appears, timid at first.

I left the wood this color. It looks like old houses I remember fondly. The frame is going to have a shelf to hold Raven’s favorite trinkets.

I painted Raven with a lot of water and rolled the canvas with a roll of paper towels. I learned this technique from Effy Wild. It left the outline dark, and picked up the paint in the middle. Nice effect.

Raven Wisdom, nearly complete

I painted Raven bigger, to be more of the focal point. Along his back is part of a Rumi quote, “be the soul of that place”.

I tried a new technique. I painted black, sparkly embossing powder mixed with acrylic varnish and melted it with a heat gun. It made a nice, black texture. You can see where I added it on the blackest parts of Raven.

The nest is made with corrugated cardboard that my sister insisted I needed to pack when I moved to New Orleans, lichen from the Lake of the Woods, Oregon (our favorite place), a red thread for the sisterhood, a fortune about friendship, and a flaming heart from Mexico.

There are other things making up the nest, like sheet music and journal paper. I added gold, brown, red and black paint for depth and mystery.

I am so sorry that the words do not stay put when I hit “publish”. I will keep working on this.

Thank you for reading about my process. Painting is pretty solitary business if you don’t count spirits chiming in. I appreciate the togetherness of my on-line family.

Where are your thriving in your life? What makes you lose track of time? Where do you feel your heart expand? I would love to hear.


Gator Girl