Tag Archives: original paintings

How I Love New Mexico

Friends, I just love it. I’d move to Taos in a heartbeat. In a fraction of a heartbeat, actually. I’m sorry. And in the summers to come? I’m plotting all kinds of artsy desert adventures in little towns like Abiquiu and Roswell. (Alien Festival in July, anyone?)

This leaves precious little time for Pensacola, so I’m going to have to convince my Florida family to meet me out west. I’ll pack canvasses and paints for everyone. We’ll hike. We’ll eat spicy food. It will be outrageous heaven.

Taos is just as gorgeous in June as it is in the fall. Mia and Merrick loved every glorious, fun-filled minute of our mini-vacation:

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And so there you have it. We are a family of hiking fools. Mainly because we can’t afford to do much else–but quite honestly no amount of money can buy the kind of beauty, challenges and experiences that nature offers free of charge. It was a quick, loosely-planned weekend trip, but I will treasure these memories forever…and will eagerly await the day I can move to the mountains permanently while I make my living selling paintings on the side of a highway.

Also: I turned 33. Gobbling green-chile whatnots in New Mexico was probably the best way I could have spent my birthday.

And, stay tuned: I’ve got an idea on deck that could choke a donkey. I’ve met with and talked to several people about starting a movement that I think will do so much on so many levels for so many different people. This idea involves art, communities, children, the poor, and the lost. Praying people, be praying: I have a feeling this thing might actually come together and work, which is both exciting…and scary.

Gallery Night Rundown.

I came. I saw. I even brought cupcakes that had skittles on them, a mistake because apparently skittles on cupcakes is just too tempting a thing for little fingers not be be poking. Many cupcakes were compromised over the course of our Spring Gallery Night. I had to throw them out. But no biggie–my little art class is ah-may-zing. They know Greek pottery:

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Chinese Water Color:


American Folk Art:


Stained Glass From the Middle Ages:


African Tribal Art:


And also, vegetable printing. This one was inspired by the super cool but obscure Night of the Radishes festival in Oaxaca, Mexico.



Radish carving contest in random Mexican town every year at Christmas? Si, per favor!

My kids rocked it last night at Gallery Night. I love that each one of them is so sporty and yet so creative and artistic as well. I’ve got one kid that can sing in freaking French for crying out loud.

Overall assessment by me: session was long and a bit disorganized, but turned out awesome nonetheless. Better planning included in the upcoming fall session. I’m still learning.

This Is My June

If you catch me around town around town jamming to the musical stylings of Ross Lynch and Bridgit Mendler, don’t judge–Merrick and Mia become absolute rockstars to Disney pop and I am not ashamed! I am not afraid to admit it! Any song that makes my son sing things like “Cause you got my flow and we blowin’ it UP!” whilst popping and locking in the backseat is a song that I LOVE.

I’m still on a diet, which means lots of green tea:

Kill me.

Kill me.

Kill me.

Kill me now.

Kill me now.

Make me die.

And just lots of green stuff in general, which is a total suckfest since I so enjoy things that are the color of, um, any cookie.

My home is infested with little black bugs that appear to be materializing out of thin air and placing their crunchy, annoying thoraxes strategically all over my living space, so that every 2 steps I take: suddenly, bug guts. My dogs do nothing to stop the invasion. It’s like they know it’s summer vacation and they’re not about to participate in a damn thing unless it involves peeing on something I dearly love.

Speaking of peeing, this happened: Merrick calls me into his room one night at 11:00, 3 HOURS after I put him to bed, and says: “Hey mom, could you get that thing over there?”

“What thing over where?”

“That thing–over there! Up there!”


So there’s real live pee-soaked underwear resting comfortably atop his bedroom door. I can’t even tell you how long it had been there. I shouldn’t admit that I don’t even know.

I am learning so, so much from having a son. Like, what baby oak toads eat:

Internet, meet Frida. Frida, meet the internet.

Internet, meet Frida.

We rescued/surprise adopted/kidnapped 3 baby toads from a parking lot puddle last week–and they’re still alive 7 days later. That’s got to be some kind of record, right? And FYI, they eat teeny tiny worms that have to be kept in the refrigerator: they must remain cold or they’ll turn into beetles.

So basically I’m keeping a container full of potential beetles inches away from the food that I put in my mouth.

My life is so grossballs sometimes.

Fact: a moth the size of Ohio is trying to break through the glass window that’s right next to me this very second.

Other fact: I have black hair and it looks cool. Explanation: My hair gurl blonded it for me a few months ago, and then I regretted it 4 weeks later when fierce rootage predictably occurred…so I asked to be brunette again, even though I know how my hair acts sometimes. I risked it anyway. And bless the hair dresser–because she always does a good job–the hair on this head? Went full-on goth quickly and unexpectedly. I know it will fade–though I am really digging the black since it makes me look more artsy and tormented. Because really–what sunny blonde paints rubber Mexican gang-bangers and encourages this type of behavior? :







As you can see, we had another African body paint day (pictures of the first one here)–this time in my garage out of the wind, which–shocker–has been blowing hard here in Oklahoma. I am now officially done with the Spring set of classes, and it has been a crrrrazy ride–interruptions from winter weather, miscarriage, softball and t-ball, and tornado season have made what should have been 6 weeks last for almost 4 months. I hate that we have dragged out the session like this, but it’s been worth the wait. We’ve studied Chinese watercolor, Greek pottery, and stained glass from the Middle Ages of Europe; we’ve painted little houses similar to what we learned about in American Folk art; we even covered Mexico’s obscure “Night of the Radishes” festival by painting with vegetables. Plus, we made nifty African masks right before we moved on to the covering of our entire bodies with all the colors of the rainbow.

Best. Session. Ever. I have loved every minute of it.

If you’re local and you’re interested, our gallery night will be held this Friday at 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the community room at our town’s library. Everyone is welcome to come support these talented artists! *Also, there will be cupcakes.*


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.

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:

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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.

Totes Inspired

…or totes insp? I’m not really sure what the cool way to say that is, which is a shocker since I am totes hip.

I am on a painting ROLL. I can’t stop cranking out awesome ideas, and mad art to go with them. It’s happening–and the people that order from me during this severe painting-mania will get the crazy crap coming out of my own head and nothing more. Because beyond what I’m inspired to do in the moment I’m inspired to do it, I got nothin.

I have one good friend who indulges me by asking me to do ridiculous projects for her photography business from time to time. And by ridiculous, I mean I never know what she’s got in mind but I know that I can’t possibly guess how much fun it usually ends up being or how good it ends up looking. Here I am in front of a giant blackboard that she made for Valentine’s Day portrait backgrounds:

Glorious playtime.

“Toni, I need chalk/grafitti/something/anything colorful and crazy. Can you do that?”

I think it’s God who makes sure that photographers and painters wind up friends. Because I was in my own personal 8ft X 8ft slice of heaven for the 2 half-days it took to complete the project.

I’m kind of sad that it’s over.

But I have plenty of things to keep me busy. I’m all the sudden doing private painting parties. And I’ll be starting up my children’s art classes again in February.

And dig, if you will, this massive painting of what is clearly the Emerald City in a field of poppies:

I call it, "The Emerald City In A Field Of Poppies".

I call it, “The Emerald City In A Field Of Poppies”.

Guess what? One night I felt like ripping up pieces of pink and red construction paper, and because I do what I want, I glued them all onto a giant canvas. It looked flowery. And boom!


It’s not super professional and it’s never going to be considered a great work of art, and I might never sell it, ever, but it was some damn good fun. And I feel like, since I’m an artist, and artists are traditionally poor and starving anyways, then I’d better be having fun while I paint; otherwise, what’s the point?

So that’s the first work of many coming up in 2013. I’m already halfway through a custom piece and I have a crud-ton more paintings in queue. If I had 8 arms and could do them all at once, I’d look funny.

But I’d be a happy camper.

Oh my gosh! Maybe I should paint a happy camper next.

If you’re in the Oklahoma City/Norman area and you’re interested in some wicked C-U-T-E Valentine’s Day portraits for your kids, check out Michele Morgan Photography. She’s one of the coolest people I know, and I need her to stay in business so I’ll always have someone to get in trouble with something fun to do.

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.

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