Tag Archives: Dustbowl Arts Market


Is it just my kids, or does Wednesday night church bring everybody’s children to a level of insanity of which this world has never before seen?

Merrick’s class turns into 4-and-5 year old psychopaths as soon as they walk in the door, just in time for my friend to teach them about missionaries. I usually cower over in a corner somewhere. And yes, psychopath is a strong word. But many nights, it’s called for. And it doesn’t stop there: the crazy continues right on to the house. Merrick and Mia run around going bonkers while they put on pajamas, going bonkers while they brush their teeth…all the way up until actual bedtime and even afterwards.

WHAT does my church FEED my kids on Wednesday nights?

I got this stupid book from the library about miscarriage. It’s informative, oh yes; but I really only got it so I could try to semi-understand all the genetic testing stuff that I know nothing about. Here’s my doctor last week: “The testing will biology, science, blah blah blah blah blah, cells, and another big giant term you don’t know. Blah blah blah. Some medical stuff. Blah.”

The library book did nothing to help, but as I stood in the kitchen staring cross-eyed at the pages, Cheyenne stepped in with all her science-y knowledge. She straight laid it out in Toni-talk (“Say this little cell dude doesn’t divide right, and then all the dudes that it makes are crap.”) and drew diagrams on post-its until she was blue in the face. I’m telling you this girl–with all her genetic conferences and AP classes–is making me so proud. Even if she only ever uses her expertise to explain things in kid terms to me. Plus now I know a little more about nucleuses and stuff.

Kind of a sidenote–the people who say a life is not a life until a certain point in a  pregnancy? Never had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. Every moment that my baby’s heart was beating (and even before) was nothing but sweet, precious, God-given life to me. I’d give just about anything to have it back. Next week would have been the day of  THE ultrasound where they tell you all kinds of developmental information about your baby but mostly you’re just there to see if you’re having a boy or a girl. That’s when stuff gets real and your baby is totally making it and you’re halfway there. We were so close.

Kind of not a sidenote: I’ve been painting like a madman. My house is trashed and I forget to shower and the kids eat cereal for dinner. And not even the healthy kind–I’m talking 2 bowls each of generic-brand Crunch Berries. My personal diet has primarily consisted of coffee and iced animal cookies.

Some of my paintings I’m ready to get rid of. I painted them just to paint them and I’m tired of looking at them. Other paintings I poured my heart and soul into, and though the subject matter doesn’t appear to be very deep, each brush stroke was heavenly therapy. I know I cannot keep them but I hate to see them go.

If you’re bored Saturday and don’t want to go all the way into Oklahoma City for the art festival there, come out to Norman and check out Dustbowl. It will be right on Main Street and after you’ve looked at all the artwork and jewelry and t-shirts and handbags, you can mosey on over to the Norman Music Festival where there are bands galore and also delicious food. If anything, you can just come to people watch, which is highly entertaining to say the least.

But make sure to stop and chat with me and my friend Stephanie first because we are always cool.

Here is a peek at a painting that I should name “Wee Willy Winky except with a ninja”, but I’ve been calling it “Bed Intruder”:


So much for making kid-friendly art.


Woo-Hoo Ball.

Saturday morning. Tournament morning. Mia’s playing in her snazzy new lime-green uniform. Merrick will be running around with his buddies. And Caleb and me? Will be doing nothing but sitting in the bleachers, watching the game. From the sidelines. Away from the field, away from the dugout. Not wringing our hands or pulling out our hair. Not popping asprin in a dugout full of chattering jumping 3rd-grade girls. Not obsessing over lineups and figuring out who’s where, who will throw a fit, who doesn’t care, or what will the parents think.

Even though we miss it all of course, there is a beauty beyond description that comes with not coaching

I can’t say that completely, because Caleb is coaching Merrick’s t-ball team. Trying to get preschoolers to learn the complicated game of baseball? Someone once compared it to herding cats. Upon observation, I have found it to be much more difficult than that. I do not envy my husband.

Nor will I help him.

Not when there’s a comfy fold-out chair next to Cheyenne calling my name.

The kids are out of school every Friday from now until the end of the school year. So I get 3-day weekends. Which means on Fridays and Saturdays, we all sleep until 7:15 a.m. instead of 6:30 a.m., and the kids freaking snack all day and eat us out of house and home. Summer is so close I can just taste it. All I need now is for the weather to get above 40 degrees and stay there.

I’ve been painting for Dustbowl which goes down one week from today. I’m nervous and excited and totally unprepared. It’s going to be awesome.

Getting Ready

Alright so I got into the Dustbowl Arts Market again this year, Saturday April 27th in downtown Norman, Oklahoma.

Last year I was stoked–but this year, the timing couldn’t be worse. I am not inspired to do a whole lot of anything. I’ve got custom projects to get done and the only thing my brain has going for me in the motivation department right now is a deadline of, oh, this weekend.

I’ll knock it all out on time. I will. In fact, it’s good for me to be forced to do something by a certain date. It’s good for me to be busy at all.

That said, I did end up taking kind of an easy route in preparing for the Dustbowl by ordering some prints of several old paintings. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time; I’ve only recently found a printing company that I’m happy with, and when these puppies came in the mail, I actually leapt for joy:

IMG_0504 IMG_0507

I’m excited about the Dustbowl. I’ve got original paintings, and different-sized prints, and I’ll be able to take debit cards and credit cards. Things are going to be different this year–not that they were bad last year.

Last night I slept for more than 3 hours. There are significantly less tears today than there have been all week. When people ask me how I am doing, I tell them that I am fine. And I am, kind of. Moving my feet to walk and moving my mouth to speak, and remembering to breathe. Tired but not sleeping. Raw.

I think people know that’s what I mean, because really, how could someone be any other way? I love my family and friends and I know they understand. Of course I’m not fine. I’ll get there eventually, but today is not that day.

I don’t know why I can’t just force my body to believe everything my mind tries to tell it. I keep going back to that day and wondering “How could there not be a heartbeat?

Why am I still asking that question?

Today as I was driving back from dropping the kids off from school, Sam Cooke came on the radio and I got a picture in my head of me dancing with my baby, just like I had done with my other babies to that same song. A thousand sighs. I tell you, a piece of my heart is just gone and I’ll never get it back. I wonder if my baby can see us, because I sure wish I could see my baby.

How It Went

The Rundown on the Dustbowl Arts Market is this: good times in a tent with my art and a faithful friend. Despite some disappointment on the sales front, it turned out to be a really good use of my time–got some exposure and an overall good response from the more artsy crowd of Norman, Oklahoma. Plus, the people watching was optimal, because? The artsy crowd of Norman, Oklahoma has some really creative ideas on how to dress for public outings. (Hint: I saw actual Roller Girls, complete with fishnet stockings and rollerblades.)

2 highlights of my day:

 1. In the early hours of the market when a dad and his kids bought the one painting I didn’t think I’d sell ever. They liked it–they really liked it.

2. In the last 10 minutes of the market when an old, old, man came up to me, asked if I was the artist of all the paintings (I said yes) and proceeded to tell me that I had a “beautiful spirit, just a beautiful, beautiful soul.” To that old man: I love you, please come live with me in my house.

Also worthy of mention are the multiple times little kids came into my tent just oohing and aahing over my brightly colored paintings. Apparently kids freaking love my stuff and it took all my strength not to just start giving art away to those admiring youngsters.

See parents? I say once again: Let the little children have cool rooms. Don’t plunk down $60 at Hobby Lobby on a framed print that everyone and their dog already has. Aren’t we sick of the ballerina-or-cowboy themes yet? Your kids like the multi-colored Robot paintings, and the one-of-a-kind creepy red dog. They want a giant purple peacock painting hanging over their bed. And the rainbow against a woodgrain background? Well that’s a downright neccessity.

My sweet husband Caleb spent the day on the go–after he helped me lug all my stuff into town and set up my tent, he dashed home and coached softball for 3 grueling hours. He then took the kids with him to do lawncare for a little old lady. He was dragging by 7:00 that evening when he showed up to help me tear-down, but he still had enough sense in him to suggest snagging pizza on the way home instead of trying to cook a meal.

And also he didn’t flinch when I told him I bought tshirts for everyone, and postcards, and meadow honey.

Let me tell you something else about that man: he’s reading “The Resolution” (how to be a Godly husband and father) for no reason that I can tell other than he just wants to rock his role even more than he already does. And there’s a word for that back where I come from: it’s called awesome.

So for all Caleb’s patience and support and encouragement and hard work and kindness, I just want to say thank you–to God, for putting this wonderful man in my life. I might not be the most successful artist, but I must be doing something right.

Painting and Praying

I’ve gotten to a point in my painting frenzy where I have ceased to be productive–I’m throwing paint onto a surface without clear plans as to what will become of it, and I can’t make anything work. I look around at what I have and the only word that comes to mind is “shitty”. The art market is on Saturday. It’s time to shut down and hope for the best.

Plus, my family will be pleased to know that they can eat at the table again.

I’m calling in specialists to help me set my booth up real pretty. I’ve never really been great at decorating–I guess that takes a different kind of creative. All my friends have offered to loan me stuff–tents, tables, ladders, chairs, easels. One of my friends even volunteered to hang with me all day, for moral support and also to make sure I don’t give my paintings away, because businesswoman I am not.

I am killing ants like a mammajamma today. They keep infiltrating the system and it’s driving me nuts. There’s nothing I hate more than ants in my house. (Ask me that after we get termites or snake-infestation or something.) “They” say bugs are bad this year because of the mild winter we had. I will fight to the death to keep ants out of my house. I will put industrial-strength bug spray in my mouth and spray it through my lips at the ants; that’s how hardcore dedicated I am to the annihilation of insects everywhere. I’m like the honeybadger that way–my friends call me Whiskers.

Stuff back home in Florida has hit the fan in a massive way. My sister is pregnant and alone. I can’t believe what’s happened to her. On the upside, my heart is warmed at the outpouring of love and support she has recieved from family and friends, but for my life, I cannot fathom how a person can treat another person the way she is being treated–it’s cruel torture, really. Occasionally, I find myself actually thinking it’s all just a really bad dream. I’m dealing with a rage unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, and in a way it’s probably good I live all the way up here in Oklahoma.

I try to pray about it, but most of the time my mind wanders into dangerous “God will you please strike somebody with leprosy?” territory. And if it’s difficult for me, I can’t imagine how my sister feels. Actually, I can imagine, but my heart starts pounding and my throat starts closing and I have to remind myself that Caleb will be home at the end of the day, ready to check and see if I’ve remembered to vacuum the ceiling or something like that.

Yay for husbands.

I know that hate is wrong. I know forgiveness is right. I know that no person is better than another person, and everybody sins, and no sin is worse than another, but the struggle to remain cool about the whole thing is almost too much for me.

Fortunately God is bigger than my piddly faith, and God is bigger than any problem anyone could have. He’s very much aware of and in charge of this particular situation. Even if I have no idea where He’s going with this, I have no doubt that God will use this time in her life for something. Please continue to pray for sweet Katie and her little baby–that they will be healthy and taken care of, and that she will look to her faith, family, and friends to help get her through.

Where I’ll Be

If you need me in the next month and a half, I’ll be here. At my house. Worrying about EMPs (Electromagnetic Pulses), finally reading The Hunger Games, and designing an underground fortress.

And also, getting ready for Dustbowl Arts Market–because I totally got accepted!

I don’t know if it’s something to be excited or proud about, but for a measly artist like me, it’s a big deal, because I know they received a lot of applications. I didn’t have a website or even an Etsy store–I turned in  my paperwork with a couple crappy printoffs of a few of my paintings. I stressed over how unpolished and unprofessional my application seemed. But I got in!

And so now, I’m going into a Pollock-like frenzy. I’ve already warned a few friends that I won’t shower and my kids may or may not eat cereal for every meal until the end of April. I’ll be parked at my kitchen table, painting away.

And loving it.

I might even be busy enough to distract myself from my inevitable doom, when Iran teams up with Mexican drug cartels to take down the US by use of EMPs and hand-t0-hand combat. Technology will be useless and we’ll have to rely on wits and brute strength, which, let’s face it–are underused in this country due to Google and mass production of goods. An out-of-shape, mediocre painter who’s sometimes funny is bound to be killed off within the first year of the takeover. My husband, who hasn’t changed a bit since his early twenties, will live forever.

I’d learn to use a bow and arrow, but I’d probably kill myself in the process. I could worry about the end of the world, but instead, I will paint. I will leave behind my artwork I did for the Dustbowl, which will be ironic since Oklahoma will revert back to just that. My kids will burn canvas to stay warm. Thank goodness I will have taught them how to deal with hunger, starting yesterday.

Painting–the gift that keeps on giving.

But if you’re not buying into all my conspiracy theories and happen to be free (and not dead!) on Arpril 28th, stop over in Norman for the Music Fest and Dustbowl Arts Market. Support my coping mechanism and come see me at my booth. I might be a paranoid freak in real life but I paint only colorful, happy things.

Cheyenne just threatened to delete all my fight-the-system documentaries off of the Netflix instant queue. And she hid The Hunger Games from me.

She will be sorry.


Just sent out my application to Dustbowl Arts Market. I’m nervous.

In fact, I’m kind of freaking out about it. I had to fill out an application just to get in, for crying out loud. Granted, it was only one page long and the questions were pretty cut and dry–which is good, because the only artist’s statement I can come up with is “I paint whatever I want, whenever I feel like it.”

That probably wouldn’t fly too far. I just don’t think I could take that kind of rejection.

And I don’t even know what “juried show” means. I don’t actually care; I just really want to paint a bunch of awesome stuff and sell it all at once. Plus, hanging out in downtown Norman during a music festival all day could be really fun.

On to more art-related and probably way more interesting stuff, I had the opportunity last month to participate in a little charity dealio called “Art With a Heart”. From what I am to understand, there’s an art therapy program up in the OU Children’s Hospital where kids who are being treated for cancer go, and paint and color and whathaveyou, which is so great, because art is so healing. Anyway, someone got the idea to auction off some of their paintings to raise money for different things like helping families with medical bills etc etc, and viola! Art With a Heart. Real artists come in and help the kids with their paintings, which are then taken to be professionally framed–they end up bringing in serious cash at a silent auction. The concept is brilliant, but it’s not nearly as awesome as how they treat those kids on the big night–they get all dressed up, ride in limosines and walk the red carpet. They’re basically rockstarts for the evening.

I can think of nothing more special.

My friends Ty and Kayla have a son named Asher who is now cancer-free. He has participated in this thing for the last few years. When Kayla asked me if I’d like to help some of the kids paint, I jumped at the chance. I thought “How cool! Little kids casting their cares on canvasses! I love the smell of tempura paint in the morning! Maybe we can paint something amazing that’ll rake in the big bucks!”

I quickly changed my tune upon arrival at OU Children’s Hospital. As I got out of the car with Ty and Kayla and their kids, and we walked through the revolving doors into the big giant quiet building, I remembered what it was like to pace those halls, crying and drinking bad coffee. We were still in a hospital. Sure, it was new and beautiful, colorful even, but it was still a hospital–a place where very sick or hurt children go. And though Caleb and I only spent a fraction of a fraction of the time that Ty and Kayla had stayed there with Asher, I just got this overwhelming sense of dread, and I remembered leaving there with Merrick, thinking, “God, I hope I never have to come back.”

We took the elevator to the 1000th floor, and I felt a little better. The walls were a sunny yellow and there were cool fish tanks with Nemos, and toys galore, and shiny happy people working away in the art area. I was there to work with a girl named Harmony–Harmony, people–and she was currently a patient, and Kayla and I had to go get her from her room.

Kayla navigated those hallways like a pro. She knew her way through that rat’s maze inside and out, up and down and probably blindfolded. As we passed dim, quiet room after dim, quiet room, I willed myself “Don’t be awkward in front of the kid, don’t be awkward in front of the kid.”

I should have mentioned to Kayla how much I really hated hospitals and IVs and nurses and creepy hallways. And also, elevators. And sickness.

Harmony was a beautiful 7-year old girl, with some fierce little eyes and a sassy attitude. She sure enough was bald, and all wired up to a rolling IV–but it bothered me a lot more than it seemed to bother her. When it came to painting, she didn’t play. The people in charge left example pictures on our table, or suggestions, as they called them, but Harmony wasn’t having it. “I want to paint a monkey,” she said, and from the determination in her voice, I was surprised that a monkey didn’t obediently materialize itself onto the canvas right then and there.

Let me tell you something about the monkey Harmony had in mind. She had a stuffed monkey. She wore a monkey t-shirt, and she had been practicing drawing this monkey, over and over. She started in with confidence–drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing. Her hilarious family tried to give her advice but Harmony was just not interested. My job was easy–I sat back and let the girl do her thing, occasionally helping her with the rough sketch and mixing the right paint colors. I reminded her that if we needed to, we could paint over whatever she didn’t like–but Harmony had it under control. She got tired and/or bored (probably mostly bored) toward the end of the afternoon, so her mother and I finished up painting in the blank spots.

I had another 7-year-old girl sit at my table. Her name was Madison. I don’t think Madison was staying at the hospital. I don’t know if she was completely cancer-free. She had big brown eyes and a full head of hair and pink cheeks, and a little beauty mark right over her mouth.

She, too, ignored the suggestions and set to work on a painting of her new puppy. We sketched and erased, mixed paints, and finally produced a super-girly portrait of a lapdog.

The afternoon went by fast. My buddy Asher was off painting a caterpillar and working on a collage. I forgot about bare heads and I forgot that we were in a hospital. These kids were regular little kids–funny, stubborn, creative, and antsy. I couldn’t believe that at one point they were all being treated for cancer. It’s hard for me to picture little Asher being that sick.

It’s not so hard for me to picture the stress and the worry of their parents.

So for those of you in Oklahoma City, next Saturday night at 6:00, at OU Children’s Hospital, there’s Art With a Heart. Tickets are $30 a piece and believe me when I say it goes toward a good cause. Support a budding artist at the social event of the year. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do.

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