Saturday, November 19, 2016

We just dove with 12-ft+ feeding nurse sharks. They don't bite, they just suck really hard and give you huge hickies.
Still, it was pretty terrifying for me. I really don't like vast open water, slimy things touching me, or large sea creatures with weird beady eyes. Also I'm a weak swimmer at best. For as much as I travel and do wild and stupid things, I'm one of the wimpiest people I know. I just do a really good job of hiding it, and an amazing job of convincing everyone around me that I'm confident and know exactly what I'm doing, until you think it too. Spoiler: I never know what the fuck I'm doing. I've realized that if I talk myself into thinking I'm brave, eventually I become, in actuality, brave. When something freaks me out now, I do my best to turn and run right into it so that the next time something frightening is looming over me, I can pull one of these experiences out of my confidence bank and be like "hey, remember when you dove with those dead-eyed sharks? You can totally speak in front of this crowd of people leering at you".
It's a really scary time right now. I'm scared to return to the US tomorrow, for the next few years in our country, and also for the future of legal cannabis under its upcoming administration. We just found a space in Boston to start classes (and an amazing teacher!), so I probably won't poop solid for a week before those sessions start. It's totally OK to be scared shitless, but you can't let it destroy you. You can't cave to those lose bowels, my friends.
In an unprecedented turn of events, I woke up in Vegas not hungover and decided to go for a run. I stepped outside into the light and closed my eyes, feeling the beauty of the bright sun on my face and the un-taintable promise of a new day... and immediately was nearly plowed over by a large madman on a Rascal. As he wildly careened past me, we made eye contact and I stared right into his dead fish eyes leading into his black rabid soul. I watched him recede into the darkness of the casino, and in two blinks, he was gone. Was he simply an apparition? I guess we'll never know. Good morning, Sin City.
Current airport status: angrily eating my emotions as I listen to the lady next to me talk about how people protesting Trump need to just "suck it up, get jobs, and stop doing things that disgust the lord". I might choke on this quesadilla. I may die here today. Get me out of Vegas. Get me more sour cream. Another drink. Force-feeding myself edibles out of my purse. *smashes wine glass and runs away shrieking, dragging luggage full of un-worn high heels*

Thursday, March 27, 2014

On coming out with pot, being a "ganga-preneur", and starting Colorado's first 4:20-friendly painting class

I'm an adventurer, a dreamer, a business-person, and a calculated risk-taker. So when a friend suggested that with the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado, I should start the first 4:20-friendly painting class out there, I laughed for a hot minute, and then I thought... "okay". And so, over a joint, "Puff, Pass & Paint" was born. 

Photo by Leslie Simon.

In mid-January of this year, I took advantage of Amendment 64 and hopped on board with the thousands of other marijuana entrepreneurs that are starting new legal businesses here-- like 4:20-friendly speed dating, cannabis cooking classes, grow-house tours, and marijuana-based fine dining. Even after a few months, the excitement here in Denver is palpable-- really, it's growing. We're starting something great. People (and news stations, magazines, and documentaries crews) are flocking from all over the world to see what we've got going on. I think it's something to be proud of. I can't stop smiling-- not because I'm stoned (although yes, I am a smoker. It's not taboo to admit anymore), but because I can't believe how successful PP&P has already been, and because I'm having so much damn fun at each and every one of my classes.

Photo by Leslie Simon.

PP&P works like this: students pay $40 in advance to cover all of their art supplies, including paints, canvas, brushes, easels, etc... think "Mary Jane & Monet" instead of "Canvas & Cocktails". The classes are 2 hours long, and held in my home studio in Denver. What about the weed, you ask? It's BYOC (bring your own cannabis), although we have had several classes where different venues provided free samples of goodies and edibles (Nice Spice Catering makes a bitchin' marijuana-infused chicken lettuce wrap, I MUST say). No, you don't have to be an artist. Yes, you can come alone, or with a friend or a group. YES, you can smoke in class-- in fact, I encourage it! But, if you don't want to, that is absolutely cool as well. 

Photo by Leslie Simon.

For me, the best part of starting PP&P so far is the connections I've made with other folks within the industry, like Brittany Driver - strain reviewer for The Cannabist and writer of the "Moms & Pot" column, Jane West of Edible Events Co., Carolyn Mackey of Nice Spice Catering, Leslie Simon, who is an amazing photographer/writer for The Westword and Toke of the Town, Ricardo Baca - the Denver Post's first marijuana editor (I'm still trying to get him to come paint!), Graham McBain of So Mile High Tours, the hilarious (yet professional!) crew from the Rolling Papers documentary, and so, so many others. They're just damn good business people who are in favor of legalization, and also like to smoke a little weed from time to time. It isn't catty or overly competitive, as all artists know the art world can sometimes be. We're all working towards the same thing here: to overcome the stigma of who and what pot smokers are, and what they can accomplish. And so far, what we can accomplish proves to be a lot. 

Photo by Leslie Simon.

I'm still primarily an artist and my focus is on creating and selling work and commissions, but teaching classes is my new-found love. The folks who come to Puff, Pass & Paint are so diverse and from all different places and backgrounds, but they are the cream of the crop-- like, the best people that exist in the world. From the 80-year-old grandmother who came with her granddaughter, to the group of college students from Oklahoma on their spring break ("you mean we can actually smoke WHILE we paint?!"), to the moms who attended a class for a little rest, relaxation, and "me" time... in 10 or so classes that I've held thus far, everyone has been just amazing. Students can follow along with me while I'm working on a reference piece, but I always encourage them to take their own path if they're feeling inspired, too. Everyone relaxes and laughs, everyone chats, and everyone creates a piece that is different and original and so THEM. And after every class, while I'm cleaning out the brushes and scrubbing the palettes and washing the paint off of my face that I didn't know was there (even though a news crew was filming), I look around and think how damn lucky I am to be a part of something like this. 

Photo by Leslie Simon.

Classes are held weekly, and the class schedule is available at Contact with any questions. And come paint! Really, you should... you won't regret it. You're going to leave with a piece of your own art, a smile on your face, a bunch of new friends, and the warm fuzzies.

Monday, December 9, 2013

On cool causes, the irresistible bunny posse and the explanation for why I'm so damned strange.

I absolutely love animals, and have for all of my life.

Myself and dainty miniature horse "Little Charlie" (also my dad's
name, sans the "little") at my parents' petting farm in Southern Wisconsin.

I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin and though I wasn't technically born in a barn, I was pretty much crawling around in one as soon as I could scoot-- I still have a scar on my forehead from when I fell into a cow manger at age 2 or 3. My parents fostered in me a deep respect for all living things (pet the duckling gently with one finger, ayy-yae... does anyone else make that noise with their kids?), partially because they're just darn good people but also because my extended family has run a petting farm for nearly 50 years, starting with my grandparents in the 60's, and loving animals is their livelihood.

This is for real-- probably circa '94.

My brothers and I had chickens named George and Rebecca and Flossie that we would swaddle in blankets and haul around in wagons, and a goat named Pepper that would eat all of my mom's flowers and jump on the cars of anyone who visited our house-- we never quite understood why people would get so upset about that. At the age of nine or ten I was gifted an elderly pony named Herbie. I would pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an actual canteen in my saddlebag (I'm not lying-- I fancied myself quite the horsewoman at that time) and we would ride off into the woods together, where I would lay out a picnic and braid dandelions into his tail and read him Laura Ingalls Wilder, which he seemed to enjoy. Somehow my mom never worried that we would get bucked off or trampled or have our eyes pecked out by hens, which looking back fills me with pride and happiness that we were so adventurous and strange, and gratefulness to my parents, that we were able to have the kind of upbringing that fosters individuality and independence and a really deep respect for all living things.

Green Meadows Petting Farm mural by Yours Truly, completed September 2013.

Anyway, the point I was getting at before my trip down memory lane is that I truly believe in the importance of kindness towards every soul, no matter how small. I also love getting involved with worthy causes and organizations, and being an artist often gives me the opportunity to become a part of something creative and wonderful and heart-warming.

One of my most recent contributions, and now one of my favorite organizations, is Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their mission statement explains it best:

"Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the compassionate care of companion animals. At Tranquility Trail, our mission is to rescue, shelter, rehabilitate and hopefully find a forever home for every animal that finds its way to us. For those who cannot find a home, we are committed to providing a loving, nurturing and protected environment. 

We are a volunteer based organization and every donation we receive ensures that our programs sufficiently serve those animals that are lost, abused, neglected or unwanted in our community. 
We welcome every animal with loving and open arms." 

I created an original watercolor for an auction Tranquility Trail was holding this past summer to provide funds to keep the shelter going and for animal care. Happily, the original artwork sold (and started a bidding war), and because it was such a hit I decided to create some signed prints that are available for purchase as well.

Portait of Beau, Caitie, and Bilbo-- three bunnies available for 
adoption at Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary. Little Bilbo is a 
"special needs bunny".

Prints are 8" x 10", $30 + shipping, and $5 from each print purchased goes right back to Tranquility Trail so that they can keep doing the great work that they're doing. If you like cute bunnies playing with toys and nibbling carrots and wiggling their noses hello, I would definitely recommend following their Facebook page.

Prints are ready to ship, but need to be purchased shortly in order to allow for packaging and shipping before the holidays. I really love this organization and everything they stand for-- kindness, caring, and a sense of responsibility towards the little guys who need our help and a friendly pet or scratch behind the ears.

"3 bunnies" print on Etsy
- Green Meadows Petting Farm Facebook Page
Green Meadows Petting Farm YouTube Vid-- get your daily dose of cute here
Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary homepage
Tranquility Trail Facebook Page-- bunnies galore

Friday, December 6, 2013

We've had visitors in our home since the middle of November. And MY GOD, I love my friends and family, but my body just can't handle any more pepperoni calzones from DP Dough at 1am whilst drinking jugs of wine. I'm still recovering from our annual Thanksgiving day friends & family game of "two-hand touch" football, in which I was mercilessly plowed to the ground and suffered minor injuries to skull and tailbone.

'Deez Heidi Ho'z' suffered a heart-breaking defeat against the 'Coach Luckies'
on Thanksgiving day 2013.

Because we've been busy entertaining, I haven't had much time to actually create artwork, although I'm still plowing ahead with my current illustration projects and am close to completing all of the pieces I was commissioned to finish before the holidays. 

Here are the completed snarky cuttlefish, who are sold and will now be heading to Florida.

...and here are the finished cuttlefish, in color, with the addition of Grumpy Cat by an old friend (I think this really completes the entire artwork).

All I want to do tonight is put on a pair of soiled sweatpants, drink tea, and watch a marathon of The League, but I've got an art opening in Fort Colllins at the Lincoln Center. It promises to be an amazing show; I'm just being incredibly lazy.

I'm just rambling now. I'll have something more interesting to say soon.

Au revoir! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On illustration work, storybook time, and how cuttlefish are generally not regarded as being overly affectionate.

I've been pretty quiet on the social media art front lately for a couple of reasons. I'm finishing up a few 'surprise' commissioned pieces that must be completed before the holidays, and I'm also working on a few illustration projects that take me back to my days of sketching with ink pen. Because of the nature of these projects, unfortunately I can only divulge fun tidbits here and there.

Here are a couple of the illustrations I've been working on, for several very different projects, both of which are headed in the way of being children's books:

...and here's one I did just for fun:

"Cuttlefish are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses and nautiluses. 'Cuttle' is a reference to their unique internal shell, the cuttlebone. Despite their name, cuttlefish are not fish but molluscs." Don't be confused-- cuttlefish are not as affectionate as you might think. They're not even freaking fish. Everything about their name is a lie.

I am SO. DAMN. PUMPED. about getting back into sketching, and especially about doing illustration work for a couple of really cool projects with some really talented, fun folks. In fact, after the holiday season is over and I've finished up the commissioned projects in my queue, I think I'll be taking a little break from painting to see where this goes.