Zen Art to Carry with you… Support a great cause!

This Friday, my Zen Girl painting will be going to her new home with the one of the winners at our fundraiser.

I hope you will consider a purchase of her image during the month of October 2014, so you generous dollars can go to a great cause.  Find out more here!

zen girl toteThank you!!  ~skyblue

Zen Girl Print Copy 1

Art is my child. It’s a girl!

You don’t have any children… you couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like.  You have no idea what tired is.  You have no idea what stress is.  You have no idea what responsibility is.  You have no idea what pain is.  You just have no idea…

These statements, have been shot my way now and again… and while in my 20’s and 30’s, it didn’t sting too bad.  I still had time.  It’s what I wanted most in life but I still had plenty of time. But now as I approach my mid 40’s, health issues have claimed my fertility, and there is little to no chance of adoption.  And that hurts. Bad.  I often have thoughts that I deserve it for breaking off my engagement at age 24, to a guy who couldn’t wait to knock me up, several times over.  He was a really amazing guy who wanted lots of kids.  And I wasn’t sure if I was “in love” with him.  So I left to see if I could find my true love.   Being the “awkward” girl who couldn’t just bat my eyes to get any guy she wanted, it took me a while to find another one who could compare.  And when i finally realized I had found him… i wasn’t letting go.  Eight years younger, he wasn’t exactly ready for fatherhood, and I never wanted him to feel pressured… by a certain someone’s biological clock.  I knew in the back of my head, every day I stayed with him my window was getting smaller.  I knew I might be choosing him over possible motherhood.  And before I knew it, the window was closed.  Not locked, but seriously closed.  And I chose this, with zero regret.  I would not trade my beautiful husband.  But, it still hurts.  Especially knowing the man you love might never have the chance to be a father.

As a childless woman, do I know what tired is? Yes.  For reasons other than parenthood, I absolutely know what tired is.  But lucky for me, it might not last eighteen+ years.  Do I know what stress is?  Yup.  Been there, done that.  Again for no reasons related to hearing the word “mommy” 3000 times per day, or keeping a teenager out of trouble.  Responsibility?  Sure.  I am responsible by choice… it just didn’t take parenthood in my case.  Pain?  Yup.  I’ve lived in the world of “excruciating”, or more than I thought I could possibly bear.  I obviously haven’t done the whole childbirth thing, so I’ll give anyone that whole-heartedly!  That business, preceded by the 9 months of pregnancy business, and proceeded by 2+ years of painful breastfeeding? I can’t say I ever really longed for those experiences specifically.  But the chance to be someone’s mother?  I knew I would absolutely, and gratefully suck it up for that opportunity. And when cancer takes your breasts, you become acutely aware you will never know the joy, or pain, of feeding your child.

Sad Girl in the Rain with Daisies

Sad Girl in the Rain with Daisies

My whole life has been void of any confidence, except when it came to the thought of being a mom.  Would i be clueless about things like diaper rash and breast feeding?  Of course.  I wasn’t going for any mother-of-year awards.  But I always felt confident that I could be a good mom.  I just knew I wanted to be there for someone, like my mom was there for me.  I wanted to give someone life, or a home, and show them how to be kind and make art. I wanted to tell someone they could be anything they wanted to be, and they could do anything they set their mind to.  I wanted to know the agony and elation of watching them grow up, and setting them free to start their own family.  I know I was hoping for a lot, but nearly everyone I knew was or was about to be a parent, so I naturally thought it would just happen in my life too when it was time.

I am sure it’s very difficult being a mother.  And I certainly can’t imagine how challenging it is to be especially to be a single, and/or working mother.  But what I’m trying to say is that it is also really difficult not being one, and being surrounded every day by people who are, who constantly remind you of what you are not, and what you now know you likely will never be.  You know that inside, you are a mother too, but you have no child. There is nothing.  No one.

Of course none of this is intentional, but people who have kids, mostly talk about their kids.  And understandably…I would too!  Kids are awesome!  And I LOVE all the kids I have been blessed to know.  When you are in these shoes, you’re genuinely happy for all of the parents and their beautiful parenthood stories, and you genuinely feel for them when they are faced with the challenges of parenthood…(i really can’t imagine what some parents have gone through!),  but simultaneously you feel a stabbing pain every time kids comes up in conversation, and everywhere you go surrounded by parents, children and families.  You feel a thousand times more pain when you see a child that is mistreated, neglected, or considered a nuisance by their own parents… and you would have do anything to have been a good mom to that same or any child.  The pain never goes away.  Or at least it hasn’t yet for me.  And I expect it only gets harder as you age… to get old and never know the joy of meeting your first grandchild either.  What are you supposed to do with all this love you were dying to give?

Lately though, I have decided to pull my shit together and move on.  I will still, no doubt, have my moments sobbing in my cubicle or the supermarket… it really SUCKS not being able to have a child.  But it’s time to change my focus entirely and let go of that dream.  I don’t have to spend money on diapers, school supplies and college tuitions.  So I can spend it on books and art supplies… and that’s a lot of art supplies!!  Art is definitely my other passion in life, and it somehow got lost along the way.  I think I had the twisted belief that once I became a mom, then I would go back to my art.  Silly.  So now I intend to pursue it like the dickens!  And so far it’s working.  I’m doing it.   And I feel better!  I haven’t sold more than a handful of things…  I may never be able to leave my day job to spend my days working on it, but I do it whenever I can.  My chest feels less constricted.  I’m learning more than ever.  And I’m putting myself out there for the first time, knowing that it’s OK that I didn’t go to art school, and that I can still be an artist. It’s ART for heaven’s sake!  I don’t agree with some of the formal definitions of art… I believe it’s whatever comes out, in whatever medium, with any level of skill, applied with varying amounts of emotion, thought, instinct and effort.

That is the beauty in my story.  Maybe if I became a mother, I would have forgotten about art entirely.  And that would have been superb… because hey, there would be an amazing little person in my life whom I would be happy to sacrifice everything for.  But I must believe there is still much good that can come of my life, and I am learning to find “meaningful” fulfillment in other ways.

Art is my child.  I’ll create it.  I’ll nurture it.  By art, I mean painting, drawing, sculpting, dancing, writing… Sometimes I will keep it tucked under my wing.  But then I’ll send it out into the world and hope that it lives on and will make others smile.

And if somehow that window opens again to let a child in, I hope I can be half the mom that my own mother is, and I know that we will do lots of art, together. Lord knows I have the supplies!

I hope that this writing will not offend any of the beautiful moms out there who have given everything selflessly for their children.  I do hope it will touch someone else in shoes similar to mine, and help give them the strength to move past the pain and toward a truly fulfilling future.  Love can be given in many ways.

me and my mum.

me and my mum.

… i wrote this post in October 2013, when i was having an especially hard time with this whole subject, but was feeling afraid to put myself out there in this way.  My husband sent me this article today, that had me thinking about it again. The article made me feel less alone.  I thought maybe i should just put this post out there, in case it, or Melanie Young’s article, can make just one more woman feel less alone.

xo skyblue

Brave Girl with Pink Handbag – Where are you?

I’d love to know where she ended up.  If she ended up anywhere.   I’m sure I’ll find out Monday.  Maybe no one would want her.  But I believed that at least one person would.  I had to believe it, or I would never succeed.  She was such a joy to create.  I was literally in another world when i made her.  Especially her hair.  I started drawing her two weeks ago today.  It was Sunday.  A sunny, cozy, Sunday.  Her top and bottom half were drawn on two pieces of scrap paper, and attached at the hips.

Just to clarify… when I say draw, I mean draw, erase, draw, erase, erase, erase it all, draw erase some more, erase the whole thing, start over, almost finish, erase the entire face 14 more times, look at the clock, realize its 3:30am, draw it once more, and…. done.  Well… as done as a person who makes art can feel.  Basically, I knew I had a deadline and the pressure was on.  In fact, she started as an entirely different painting, an entirely different girl, which I worked on all day Saturday, only to toss aside.  That canvas now stands with the other misfits and orphans that lean against the studio wall, wondering if they will ever be loved again.  They will.

But for now, I am focused on Brave Girl.  She was still just a flimsy drawing, detailed with colored pencils, carefully cut out, sprayed with fixative and set to the side, while I began to create her ground… her world.  Paint, glue, tissue, little scraps in my studio… Three canvases later, one milky blue, one awful pea green, and finally it started to emerge.  The whole time I was trying to stay away from a Pink background for a few different reasons, but I eventually I gave in.  Red, White, a little Titanium Buff, and off I went into her world.  Layer after layer, more red, some orange, lots of yellow… a little purple.  Cutting, gluing, drawing, gluing, painting… until the world was ready for her.  She settled in perfectly, with some minor gluing drama…OK… it was a disaster.  I am a mess with the glue.  How do I get it in my hair?!! Luckily I was able to overcome the glue monster… I took a deep breath, followed the gluing protocol, and laid her in place.  I knew she was home.  Still bald, but home.  I loved her. I didn’t “love my drawing”.  My drawing skills are mediocre at best.  A little shadowing and perspective I learned from Miss Mailette, but still drawing with the skill level of a first grader.  No, I didn’t love the drawing. I just loved her. And it didn’t matter to me if anyone else did.  It didn’t matter if she wasn’t perfect.  She was loved.

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During the week, I worked on her here and there.  The circles of text and music were originally cut out to be hair.  Crazy, quirky, pretty, bubble hair.  I thought about leaving her bald… she was pretty that way.  I do sometimes leave my girls bald, but she was going to have hair.  I arranged the shapes in dozens of ways.  The bubble hair wasn’t working for her though… I was trying too hard.  And I hadn’t even thought about the flowers yet.  There’s always flowers.  I was running out of time.  So I moved the bubbles of paper down to the bottom and i just said, heck, I’ll just make these into flowers.

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The flowers emerged, different sizes and colors…nothing too crazy.  I tend to get overly involved in detail, and I don’t really have time for that now.  But in no way did that mean the flowers didn’t have to be right.  I just had to work differently than I usually do.  I had to just go with it.  I groomed her flower garden for a few hours during the week.  And then Saturday… my favorite day of the week since I was four (in my day you could only watch cartoons on Saturday).. this day I would now go back to her hair.  No thinking, just grab your sh*t, fill the water and today we are going outside. 

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There’s nothing like working in a colorful, sunny studio surrounded by art supplies, furry friends and books.  But working outside with the sunshine tops that by far.  The morning light shows you colors you never saw before.  I set up my easel and all my supplies, and got straight to work.  The voice of my nerves tried to creep out of my brush.  Your running out of time.  Tick Tock.  You only have two days.  What if you ruin it?  You don’t know what you’re doing. What if you can’t finish it. You should start over.  This is cr*p. 

“Shut up”, I told the voice.  So I just sat there and got to work.  I played with the flowers, mushed colors around in the background.  I was still procrastinating a bit, not sure what her hair was to look like… the hair is important.  I started to sketch around her face in yellow chalk.  A little curly, a little stringy, down pasted her waist.

I sat, I listened, I looked, tilted my head.  Nope, that’s not it.  Listened some more.  And then the wind came out of nowhere.  It was probably there all morning, and I just hadn’t noticed it, but when the wind blows in my yard the trees make some serious noise. I am certain it would register on my husbands trusty decibel meter.  I stared at the painting, I looked up at the trees for a while, closed my eyes, then I saw her hair blow. This would be her hair. The hair that evolved over the course of the day was trying to capture that moment.  That obnoxiously (but beautifully) loud gust of wind that almost knocked her over but she stood firm with her handbag.  Everything she needed was in that handbag.  Her strength, hope, family, friends, love, creativity, courage, cats…a little money for food, coffee and health insurance…  they were all right in there.  The wind was powerful.  She was definitely more so.

My parents came over and hung out while I worked, and then I finally packed it in for dinner.  One more day.  She was getting there.

The next day I woke up and I was pumped.  I couldn’t wait to spend the day with her.  First things first, coffee and couch time.  Then I put the music on, I got my yoga on, and we did our thing.  Brave girl and me.  Girl time!  We hung out all day and well into the night, until there was nothing left to talk about.  Later girlfriend. She was complete.

I don’t usually write play by plays detailing my paintings in progress.  This is possibly the first.  Photos are easier to share since you can always say “I know it sucks, it’s not done yet”.  It’s definitely strange putting this side of my art out there though. I guess some people will think I am utterly weird creating the way I do, but this is pretty much how it goes every time.  Except for the “finishing” part.  Signed, sealed, varnished, ready to hang.  Very. Rarely. Happens.

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There are two jewels that were added at the end, which had their own separate gluing challenges.  Apparently gravity is still stronger than mostly dry glue (meaning, you must lay the painting flat until glue COMPLETELY dries, or her ruby necklace might end up as a belly button jewel).  But it all worked out in the end, and I was ready to let her go.  Let’s do this. 

I boxed her up and sent her out into the world.

xo skyblue

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Brave Girl was created for a fundraiser which would raise money for breast health initiatives including the Beekley Center for Breast Health and Wellness, and a free mammogram program, in Bristol CT.  I couldn’t make it to the fundraiser this year, but my heart was definitely there.  Literally. She hopefully went home with someone last night.  🙂

Update ~ Brave Girl ended up going to a wonderful home and resides with a private art collection in Bristol, CT.

 

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Connecticut Folk Artist Skyblue is Erica Lubee (formerly Erica Moreland).  She writes this blog from her studio in CT to share her love of art, creativity, photography, nature and all creatures big and small, real and imagined.  Her passion is for mixed media, whimsical folkart, illustration and the feminine portrait.  Visit Skyblue’s gallery for more of her paintings and artworks.  Some prints available at Redbubble.  Original drawings, paintings, and more will become available soon!  Follow or subscribe here or on Facebook for updates and more artsy fun. 🙂

 

 

Yoga Gypsy – Art and Inner Peace Part II – Link Included!

YogaGypsyOrangeSunshinePencilGlow

Sorry to my lovely friends and followers… I had trouble adding a link to my last post – I am not very good at posting from my I-Phone.

Anyway, here is the link back to the original post: Yoga Gypsy

And here is the link the the store if you’d like to go straight there!  Yoga Gypsies for sale!

Thanks Again!

xo skyblue

Light, Sound, Voices, Art…

One week ago today, a group of talented artists and friends at The Freight Street Art Gallery were adding the finishing touches to an art show and fundraiser in Waterbury CT.  I tried to help out here and there during the weeks before the show, but it was apparent from the beginning i was in a bit over my head.  I love art, but i have no clue how one goes about organizing a fundraiser, or art show.  The friends made it look easy… recruiting volunteer musicians, readers, artists… gathering donations, scheduling the evening’s events…creating the overall atmosphere of the event. I was like a dear in headlights. I had no idea how i could contribute.  But I did the best i could to help and hesitantly donated some art.

Ollie at Freight Street

As the hours before the event unfolded, the tables of food and raffle items were tidied and fluffed, the art was arranged, and the space was seamlessly transformed.   I had no idea what would happen, or what the evening would bring… and I didn’t know how powerfully it would resonate.  The evening was a huge success, i met some of the loveliest people, I learned a ton, and I experienced one spectacular, magical evening.The people, the cause, the light, the music, Ollie, the voices, the art…

Thank you again Freight Street. Awesome. Cheers!

x.o.

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Thank you!

Well, part of my order for Peace on Earth came in today!  This is the first time i am seeing the actual products.  The cards are still in transit to my house, but the stamps are adorable… and yes, they are real stamps.  (Why does everyone keep asking me that?)  (-:

It was probably somewhat bold of me to go ahead and peddle my products before I actually saw the products, but I had to meet a deadline…and it’s for a good cause!  I did loads of research so I’m confident Zazzle will do a great job with printing.  If not, I will just have to implement Plan B… which is yet to be determined.

So anyway, thank you to those of you who already made a purchase on good faith, as I basically wing it.  For those of you who would like a closer look first, I will post the photos here as i receive them.  Here are the stamps…

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You can also follow the project at thecreativedaisyartproject.wordpress.com

xo skyblue

The Creative Daisy Art Project… first design finally revealed!

TheCreativeDaisyArtProject

and

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Wow, we are well into October already… time for us to get out our PINK and raise some awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in full pink regalia.  I am not alone in my mixed emotions about all the pink fuss.  But I happen to be a hardcore fan of the color pink, and I fully support the donning of all its shades where intentions are sincere. 

An event, and cause, at the company I work for, is one such place this sincerity is found.  The other day, the first design from TheCreativeDaisyArtProject made its debut at this event.  Peace on Earth is now available, and 100% of the proceeds I earn for any item in this design will be donated to causes providing breast cancer treatments and prevention.

The card is available in folding or postcard style, and there are also matching stamps that can be purchased separately. We can create other products in this design upon request.

This is the first of many drawings, photos, sketches and paintings being created and collected for the sole purposes of raising some cash for various good causes, and spreading smiles and warm-fuzzies across the world.

Please visit the link below if you would like to make a purchase.   http://www.zazzle.com/skybluewithdaisies/gifts

My intention is to post periodically and regularly about the project, it’s target causes, and the people behind the art.  You can visit my dedicated blog, which will include updates on funds donated, and more details about the project.

Thank you for your kindness.   Please pass on the pink, and feel free to share this link, TheCreativeDaisyArtProject, with your readers… your colleagues… your facebook friends! 

Have a happy, healthy holiday season!

                                                                        ~ xo sky blue

If you have questions, or if you would like to submit a design for the project, please feel free to email me:  skybluewithdaisies@gmail.com

~ I encourage women of all ages to perform regular self-checks, monitor your breast density, and consider a mammogram when the time is right for you.  And please spread the word!

An unexpected visit… is often the best kind.

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Gliding, gently across the glass surface,

Trying not to disturb.

splish… splash… splish… splash… until I reach other side…

Only to find the quietest cove.

The crooked bridge smiles, and welcomes me.

A perfect frame to the delight that awaits inside.

I am a humble guest here.

Hello, old friend!  May I come in?

Please do, I only ask that you remove your shoes.

Morning light twinkles, tickles my skin,

dripping through spaces between weathered wood.

The deep lines on my brow soften and fade, the first time in months…years.

I only breathe in, and out…in, and out…

Floating there so bashful, just to my left

Five tiny lily pads and two curious blossoms.

They giggle and tug at my pant as I enter and kick my shoes off.

I know this will be a lovely visit.

Who’s eyes are those, peaking timidly through a shady curtain of branches?

Oh, they are adorable.

Hello, there.  I’ve brought you some delicious bread.

I hope you will have some with me.

Come, friend.  We will sit on the porch.

The breeze is so refreshing this time of year.

There is a swing, and sweet lemonade.

We will listen to music and catch up on old times.

A familiar tune plays, in surround sound, from the perches above.

I love this song. Where have I heard this before?

We remember, and laugh. Weren’t we silly back then?

The tall blades of grass swish back, and forth… back, and forth…

Upon several, I find the most delicate creatures.

Such tiny wings, I’d swear these are fairies.  Irridescent, light purplish blue.

They dance for me, spinning, spiraling, twirling.

Only one, a much fancier blue… Look what I can do!

Your children are lovely.  My goodness, where has the time gone?

Seems like yesterday, our future, a dream.

Here we are, in a blink.

How we’ve aged.  How they’ve grown.

No, I do not have any of my own.

Oh how I wish I could stay here all day, sipping and chatting with you.

This lemonade is the best I have tasted.

I have had the most fun.

We should definitely do this more often.

But I know as life goes, while intentions are good,

It may be months… years…

So long for now, dear friend.

Promise we will soon do this again.

We embrace with a pause, sweet little hugs at my knees.

as I place worn shoes back on my cool bare feet.

e.j.l.

They have been there for me throughout…The ups and downs, the ins the outs, the upside-downs… they have been there for all of it.  They have never given up on me.  They have never judged me.  They make gifts for me.  A blanket, a scarf, original artwork, soup, home-made jelly, and one of my favorites… a crocheted hat with a flower on it, given to me when i needed it most. They send letters, cards, and the most thoughtful presents in the mail.  One friend sends me my favorite incense sometimes…what a treat!  When we are together we discuss everything from art and religion, to old boyfriends, girlfriends and our humungous 80’s hairstyles. While i have other incredibly dear friends, these special friends… are my family.  They connect me to my childhood, my youth, my home.

We are different from each other in many ways, but i have always thought we are alike in all of the ways that matter.  My friends are insanely gorgeous and talented, and i am average… but they always make me feel smart and beautiful. Some of them live in much sexier homes and cities…but they never makes me feel inferior.  I have never felt like i am as good of a friend to them as they have been to me.  But they have never punished me for it or tried to change me in any way.  They except and show unconditional love for me through every dorky, dark, awkward, bitchy, quirky, ugly, lazy, crabby, clumsy moment i have ever had.

They are more than BFF’s.  Much more.

This poem (if we can call it that) was written from a kayak floating on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire.  It was less than a year from my diagnosis, chemo was finally over – and I never felt this good in my life as I did that day.  It was the day I woke up, opened my eyes, and realized I was going to survive. I made it through, and the loveliest light was just through the door… i just had to push it open, put my chin up, and walk through.

I crawled out of bed that morning at the lake house, before anyone else was up, heaved a kayak into the water and pushed off the dock with my bare foot.  The sun was just about to make its debut for the day.  I quietly paddled and listened and smiled.  Across the lake, overcome by exhaustion, I found a tiny cove, dripping in the most beautiful morning sunlight, framed by a homely little bridge… ‘oh, and you wouldn’t go in??’.

While I floated amongst the ducks, and birds, and dragonflies, and gazed in awe of the beauty i found here – i had thoughts of nature, and how rarely i stop to enjoy it.  I also had thoughts of my dearest family and friends…the people who i could not have done it without.  Often so much time passes in between phone calls, and visits… living such separate lives, babies arriving, and children having grown so much.  But when we do stop to visit, and listen, and smile, it is magical.  We laugh the biggest belly laughs, and cry the most vulnerable tears, and replay our youth with angst and delight.  We revisit decades of memories, good and bad.  In recent years I am doubly blessed to know many of they’re sweet children, which makes it much easier as I say goodbye to the dream of my own.

It was very difficult to leave that cove, and return back to shore that day.  But every lovely visit must come to an end.  I quietly paddled back to lake house… feeling strength, hope, and and happy thoughts of dear friends.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” ~marcel proust

skyblue XO

There will be art… (maybe)

The more I blog, the more I get away from the reasons I thought i wanted to publish a blog.  My first attempt, Dancing Rapunzel, was pretty much started because I had some time to kill when chemo was kicking my ass.   I thought I should take advantage of my down time & learn something productive.  Blogging was a perfect way for me to keep busy and think creatively… from the couch.  I started writing with all intentions that it would motivate me to finish my art projects and that it would help me gain some confidence putting my art “out there”.  I posted just a few leather pieces and unfinished paintings here and there.  I soon discovered the unexpected extent of therapeutic value.  Overall, I continued hoping it would help me grow artistically, creatively, emotionally… regardless, I was supposed to be posting some art! 
After DR got hijacked, i had all but hung up my blogging hat (yes i actually have one), and suddenly I had a spark of energy to start over again with Sky Blue.  I thought that blogging again would help me put my creations out there in an anonymous world without too much discomfort.  As I continue my blog-therapy, I have been reminded how much I also love to write and take photos.  Since I can give you every excuse in the book why you haven’t seen much of my “art”, there will probably be a lot more words and amateur photography…at least for now.
I am working on my goal setting, and 7 Habits, blah blah blah for 2012, so my plan is to post some art this year!  I did a little painting this weekend, and that made me happy happy happy!  It’s hard to pick a painting to work on when i have so many in progress, and so few hours of daylight.  But I am trying to just focus on one at a time.  I’m working on a series of 3 paintings for my big blank brown living room wall – I wanted to do something insanely colorful and bold.  They were inspired by a blog post I saw about the Neon Bone-yard which I am completely obsessed with… I am dying to see that place if I ever get to Vegas so I can take my own photos, but for now I must paint from other people’s photos.
I hope I can share some paintings and sketches – finished or unfinished – in the near future. Until then, here are some more (sorry) cat photos.  My subject here is Olive on a sunny morning…

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e.j.l. xo