Re-dedicating to Art, and my journey of 1,000 cranes…

December 20th, 2013.

Looking back at my calendar, I realize that, horror of horrors, I have not painted in over two months. How did this happen? It would be easy to say that I’ve just been too busy. That I’ve been working on the house, working on ways to keep money coming in to keep a roof over my head, like the dog-sitting business I started in April, and all that would be true. But it goes deeper than that. I think part of me is disillusioned. Disappointed. Fed up with the molasses-slow pace of my career as a painter. I got to focusing too much on (and being angry at) the money side of things (which is understandable as painting is my “J.O.B.” and my only income, besides the dog-sitting) and at the lack of sales of late. Hell, maybe I just needed a break. But I’d forgotten what a joy it is to paint, how wonderful it feels to complete a piece, to watch a series coming together. What a very necessary part of my existence it is. It’s time to get back at it, and with a more positive attitude. Yea, I’m still broke as fuck, but I can’t paint with a focus on money. I won’t, it rips all the joy out of it. I need to paint for me, and to Hell with whether it sells or not. (I will of course still be selling all my work, I’m just not going to obsess over it anymore.) The dog-sitting has been (almost) enough to cover my basic expenses, and that will have to do for now. It’s funny, I’ve been almost afraid to start painting again. But here I go. Pick up the brush, one stroke at a time…

It’s not painting, but…

I’ve started on a little side-project, one just for me. I’ve become kind of obsessed with origami lately, namely cranes. The legend is that if you make 1,000 cranes, your wish will be granted (or you’ll have good luck, or something along those lines.)  I don’t believe in luck, or fate, or anything like that. I believe you make your own “luck” and circumstances. However, I do believe in focus. I believe that the disciplined act of folding the cranes, with the intention of the “wish” is a form of focused meditation. I have embarked on a “Crane Meditation” with a positive focus on my art career. And, I have this big stack of old Art Forum magazines, which happen to have square pages, perfect for origami. What better to create this art-intention origami from than images of art? I am now about 50 cranes in. I am enjoying the process, looking at the beautiful images of art I am folding, and am actually finding it inspiring. My goal is to fold 10 cranes a day for 100 days. Then I will create an installation of the cranes somewhere in the house, probably in my art studio. I will post pictures of my progress.

There have been some beautiful origami installations in the last few years. Here are a few of them:


This amazing installation of cranes for Japan earthquake relief, assembled by artist Vic Muniz

This pretty street art in San Fransisco fly



90And the amazing work of my friend the artist Briana Martray shown here installed at the DIA airport. This installation of thousands of cranes was made from a novel she wrote and never submitted, and because of a computer crash is the only copy of the novel.

I like what this blogger had to say about it:

So here goes my journey of 1,000 cranes, and the re-dedication of my (joyful) artistic career path. Happy Holidays all, and with this New Year my wish that 2014 is the best year yet, for all of us.

See my Available Artwork at

cupcakefinalcopyright“Cupcake”, oil on board, 12″ x 12″.

Currently on view at CHG Circa Gallery (Corey Helford Galleries sister space) in Los Angeles, CA in the “Instant Gratification” show.

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Yes, the Black Rock Portrait Project is Alive and Well…

I’ve just updated the Black Rock Portrait Project website:

(Image credit Marie Vlasic 2012)

manwebI’ve been pining for the Man, I admit. It’s been a bit torturous watching friends getting ready to leave for Burning Man. I didn’t expect be feel so melancholy at not going this year, but I AM bound and determined to go next year. More on that in a minute…

It has been, well, an interesting couple of years, and due to family and financial obligations, the Black Rock Portrait Project is taking longer than originally intended. For that I do apologize. However it is alive and well! I am still creating small study paintings for the project (which you can see on the “Paintings” link on the Black Rock Portrait Project website) and am just now starting the 3rd large Gallery Painting. As a result of the delay in the Project, it has grown and changed a bit. I am doing something a little different with the paintings now that I am very excited about, so the delay has ultimately been a good thing. Stay tuned for painting updates!

All of you wonderful people who helped the project get to the Playa in 2011 and 2012 (you have my deepest gratitude for your generosity and patience) will still be receiving all your donation rewards if you haven’t already. (the book will take the longest, as I plan to add images from next year’s Burn to complete it) The new projected completion time for the Project is Fall/Winter 2014. I am planning a trip to Burning Man for the 2014 festival to bring the Portrait Project “to the People” with a gallery art installation of the paintings and images from the Project, which will be displayed in a gallery-like 10×20 white tent at the festival. This is something I intended to do from the beginning, and have decided to incorporate it into the Portrait Project book to bring it all full-circle. Yes, there will be fundraisers to make this happen, more on that soon. If you’d like to help the project, your donations are greatly appreciated, and rewards are all still being honored.

Thank you again for your support and attention as this Portrait Project continues, and if you are on your way to Burning Man this year, enjoy the hell out of it for me.

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How to Talk to Artists at Art Festivals- The Do’s and Don’ts (Warning: You’ve probably been guilty of at least one of the don’ts…)


I posted this article I wrote over on my Lifestyle blog, and it is such a hit, I thought I would share it over here as well. Enjoy!

Originally posted on the Year of Living Fabulously:


How to Talk to Artists at Art Festivals – the Do’s & Don’ts (Warning: You’ve probably been guilty of at least one of the don’ts…)

I visited the Cherry Creek Arts Festival here in Denver today. I go every year. As an artist I was fortunate enough to be chosen to show at this festival (one of the top 3 outdoor art festivals in the country) for 3 consecutive years back in the 2000′s. (I’ve since moved on to strictly gallery exhibits) As I was wandering around enjoying the art, I was struck by the conversations around me, and reminded of the “horror stories” shared by fellow artists (and experienced myself over the many years of doing outdoor shows) about rude and insensitive people, and even well-meaning people who unintentionally insult the artist. On the other side, I see many people who are intimidated by art and feel insecure talking…

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Girls on Film…the Creation of the Paintings “Cupcake” & “Red”

Here is a short and sweet little video chronicling the creation of my two oil paintings, “Cupcake” & “Red”, currently being exhibited at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. I’m planning to do more of these “creation” videos, so I’d love to hear what you think. What else would you like to see?

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Next Best Thing to Being There…

Wish I could have been there…

The Art Collectors Starter Kit show at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles looks like it was a grand success. In lew of attending myself, I send a “spy”, my friend Anthea Christensen, a photographer who lives in the area. She said it was a great opening, a cool vibe and a hip crowd. Here’s some pictures (see if you can pick out my 2 paintings)


(So honored to be among these great artists…photo by Sam Graham)


(Can you find my painting on the wall to the right?…photo by Sam Graham)


(there’s the other painting on the left…photo by Sam Graham)


(Some nice gentleman looking at my painting…photo by Anthea Christensen)

NOW AVAILABLE 10 x 10″ Limited-Edition (25) Giclee’ Prints of “Cupcake” & “Red”, only $80.00 FREE SHIPPING this week! (US)



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Off to LA…(well at least my paintings are)


Spring is here today in Denver. It’s a glorious 76 degree day, and I’m enjoying writing you from the backyard gazebo. I just shipped off 2 12 x 12″ paintings for the “Art Collector’s Starter Kit” show at CHG Circa (Corey Helford Gallery’s sister space) in Los Angeles. I am honored to be listed among some truly incredible artists. The show opens March 23rd. Be sure go if you’re in LA.

I have promised not to reveal the paintings online until the opening, but at the top of this blog is tiny “teaser” from one of the paintings. If you’d like to get on the sneak peak list from the gallery, email me at and I’ll make sure you’re on it.

I’m getting ready for a studio visit from the curator from the Laramie College Art Gallery by tomorrow. They’ve asked me to do a solo show there next year. It’s a lovely facility and they’ve had some great exhibits. More news on that as it becomes available.

One final note…if you’re in Denver be sure and check out the exhibit at Robischon Gallery. Really great show I went mainly to see Denver ex-pat and amazing painter Christian Rex Van Minnen (the paintings are incredible) but the other 3 artists are great as well.

I hope you are enjoying your early spring. Until next time,




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As 2012 draws to a close…

December 24th, and a new year hiding just around the corner. It’s hard not to wax philosophical this time of year. I’m not religious. I don’t subscribe to any brick-and-morter church or philosophy, but I do admit I get “sucked in” to the Holiday Spirit most every year. Mainly, it’s the fun of it all. I LOVE decorating the house, giving gifts, baking cookies, visiting with friends and neighbors. It seems for the most part that people are nicer this time of year, that they smile more easily. I know I do. It’s the we wish we could be all the year. So that is my wish for you…that your New Year is filled with kindness and smiles…and a little prosperity wouldn’t hurt, either.Image

Our Holiday table and mantle.

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One project at a time…

Thanksgiving is done and gone (just a little apple pie & stuffing remain). Today, Saturday, brings with it a crazy November heat wave, 70 degrees. A record in these parts. The holiday decorations are up, cards and gift preparations are in full swing, though it seems a bit strange doing it all without snow on the ground.

I think I have some form of artistic A.D.D. No matter how well a project is going, as I sit there painting, sometimes all I can think of is the next project I want to do, or even the one after that. I am blessed/cursed with loads of ideas for new paintings I want to do. While I am grateful to never suffer from any form of lack of inspiration, I do wish I could concentrate on one project at a time. I’ve been thinking as well of breaking out of my mold so to speak and doing a non-figurative piece or two, just to mix things up a bit. I’ve also been thinking of applying for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival again this year, after a 4-year hiatus. Funny, I really thought that after doing it for three years I was done, over it, but this past summer we were walking through the festival, and I realized I missed it, missed being there. For all the work it is, it’s actually fun as well. I’ll keep you all posted…

I’m almost finished with the holiday commissions, another week or so, then it’s back to the portrait project studies and other new work. In honor of the Holidays, I’m offering 20% off all limited-edition (of 25) giclee’ prints, as well as custom gift wrapping on any purchase. You can see the giclee’ prints here: , and all my available paintings here: . Currently Paypal (the service I use to process payments) does not offer a discount code option, so if you use the Buy It Now button, I’ll refund the 20%, or just email me ( with what you want and I’ll get an invoice with the 20% off to you right away. Bigger discounts for multiple purchases! Just email me with your questions.

Here is the latest, a commissioned portrait project study:


“Xilla” oil study, 8″ x 10″

I hope your holidays are marvelous. Enjoy the season!


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Snow Already?

October 5th, snow. Already? It always seems to hit too soon. I admit I’m never really ready for it. We go from shorts and sandals to boots and jackets in a matter of days here, it’s a bit unsettling, even after 16 years.

Still editing pictures from this year’s shoot at Burning Man. This project (www.theblackrockportraitproject) is definitely taking far longer than expected, and I estimate it will go on for at least the next year. I do apologize to all of you wonderful supporters that it is taking so very long, and for those of you that have been supporting the project, you will be receiving your promised rewards, and I do still so appreciate your assistance. I couldn’t do it without you. I’ll be honest, it’s been a rough ride this year, and I’ve had to continually put the project on hold in order to pay the rent, but it will get done, you have my word.

On a brighter and much more fun note, it’s Halloween time again, and the Fantastic Hosts (a non-profit event group I belong to) is deep in the planning and building stages for our next soiree’ “the Haunting”. Last year’s party “Forbidden Planet” was such a big success that we’re moving the event to a larger venue and really going to town on decor and entertainment. I’m creating much of the decor along with my fellow Hosts, and it’s really going to be something. If you are in Denver, this is the party you want to go to. You can get tickets here:  I’ll keep you posted and will post pics when I have them.

I went to LA on a quick family trip a couple weeks ago, and saw some amazing art. The seen there is alive and buzzing and there’s some incredible work. I really enjoyed the galleries at the Bergomot Station in Santa Monica, and just loved many of the beautiful spaces in the Culver City arts district. The real standouts were Corey Helford and LaBasse. I highly recommend this area if you are visiting LA.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the holidays are fast approaching. I’ve booked 4 portrait commission, but will be able to fit in 2-3 more by Xmas/Hanukkah. Get your order in now. Email me with questions, and see my work here:

Until next time, stay warm,


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Black Rock Portrait Project 2012 – the Blogs

(August 26, 2012) On the road…

I’m writing this blog from the dining table seat of a 1984 Winnebago RV, moving 65 miles per hour along interstate 80. We hit the road to Burning Man bright and early this morning, 7am to be exact, and are now 2 hours shy of Salt Lake City. It’s been an eventful day, with nerve-wracking engine issues that turned out to be a busted alternator belt, now fixed courtesy of my stalwart travel companions, friends Lawrence and Patric. We’re cruising America’s highways once again with the sun low on the horizon in front of us. This is always a grueling drive, but thanks to the great attitudes of my co-pilots it’s been more than bearable. Getting a little road weary now, and looking forward to a dinner stop in Salt Lake. We’ll stop for the night somewhere around Elko, Nevada, then on to the Black Rock Desert tomorrow, putting in about 12 hours on the road each day. I don’t know how all these truckers do it, drive like this day after day. I couldn’t. Once a year is more than enough for me. Feeling a little odd on this trip, as my boyfriend elected to stay home this year. Feeling a mix of anxiety at moving farther and farther away from home and man (we haven’t been apart more than a day in 4 years), and excitement and anticipation of where were heading. This will be an interesting adventure to be sure. When you have a companion with you, there’s a buffer, someone to turn to and be with as you venture out into the great adventure that is Burning Man. no buffer this year, just me, exposed to it all, with no cushion. I plan to force myself out into it, on my own, as much as possible. We’ll see how I do.

(August 28, 2012) Oh so tired, and a bit frustrated…

Well we made it. Arrived at Burning Man at 4am last night. Tired as hell, only got about 3 hours sleep last night. Long day today, unpacking, setting up the rv , registering the cameras with Media Mecca (something all photographers must do). Frustrated, as I have yet to be able to get online. I expected to be able to post blogs daily, as I was able to last year, but so far no luck. Such is the nature of things out here in the desert. Tonight was our big camp party, a must-attend event. So I did. Broke the rental camera out and got some good shots, though the light was fading fast. The weather was great today, much better than expected, and hoping for it to continue. Heading out to see art in the morning, will take pictures for sure. Back at the RV now, exhausted and going to bed. Nighty night.

(August 28, 2012) Beautiful morning…

Got a good night sleep last night for the first time in 4 days. Feeling better this morning, though still tired and a bit out of sorts, waiting for the coffee to kick in. It’s a beautiful, cool, bright morning here in Black Rock City, and I’m looking forward to getting some practice in with the camera. I admit it feels very strange to be here alone. Well not “alone”, as I am surrounded by people, and have many friends here at the camp, but alone as in without a mate. (My boyfriend is home in Denver with the pugs.) You get so used to the presence of another, and even just sitting here in the rv having my coffee by myself feels odd. It always seems to take a few days for me to get acclimated to life here, and it seems once I am fully entrenched, it’s time to go home. I’m honestly not a very good traveler, being prone to a motion sickness that affects me for days after the motion stops, leaving me woozy and head-achy. Hopefully I’ll get in the swing of things and feel back to myself sooner than later.Image

(August 29, 2012)

1:30am. Turning in early compared to most here. It’s been a long day. Got out early before the heat set in this morning to see some of the incredible art installations out on the Playa. Got some nice pictures and am getting used to the camera. Only saw a fraction of the art of course, there are over 300 art installations and sculptures this year. Planning to get out early again tomorrow. The weather turned nasty this afternoon, and my mood with it. Happens at least once every time I come here. The bad mood I mean, not the weather. Feeling better now after a fun night out on the playa with friends from camp. There’s nothing on earth that compares with the playa at night. Everything here, the art, the people, the art cars is lit up, blinking, moving, pulsing. It’s really incredible, and reminds why I’m out here. Time to sleep now, I can barely keep my eyes open.
(August 30, 2012)

Almost 2am. Thought I would blog but so tired I can’t keep my eyes open. Tomorrow.

(August 30, 2012 Part Deux)

A lovely morning. Soft breeze, still cool out. Sitting here typing this in the rv having my breakfast, listening to Black Rock City come alive around me. Had a successful test taking portrait shots with the camera yesterday, ready to get at it seriously later today. I love this camera, and do wish I owned it instead of just renting. Hopefully soon I can have one of my own. The weather was great yesterday, hoping for a repeat today. It has thankfully been much better than expected.
Went out on the Playa on my own last night, saw some amazing things. Took my video camera and got some great footage. Unfortunately the cable to download is not compatible with my macbook so I’ll have to download the videos when I get home. No big deal. Every time I’m here it gets bigger and bigger, more art, more theme camps, with so many camps and artists one-upping themselves every year. Just amazing. Hoping to get out to deep playa tonight. There’s always interesting art out there, far away from the main event. It’s wonderful how you can just stumble upon something incredible in the dark. Well time to get on with my day, more later.

(August 31, 2012)

Oi. 104 yesterday. Got out and did my first official shoot yesterday. My helper didn’t show up (this happens out here, a lot. There’s very little sense of time) It was very difficult trying to deal with it all myself. I sure hope today’s person shows up, I really need her. Shot some great people, but need to make some adjustments today to really get what I need. Running on 3 hours sleep, exhausted. Neighbors had a raging party last night and couldn’t sleep. Going to go rinse off now and then try and take a good nap.

(September 1st, 2012)  The Agony and the Ecstasy

Holy crap. It hit at 5pm today, just as I was heading out to do the Golden Hour shoot. Heavy winds and white-out conditions. Didn’t get a single shot off. The winds and white-out dust storms have continued through the night. At the moment the winds are so strong they are shaking the RV. No sane person would be out in this, and yet thousands are, and until an hour ago so was I. I was able to hitch a ride on an art car camped with us tonight (it’s called the Mushroom Patch, you can Google it to see pictures). This is something not to be missed. The perfect way to see the city, day or night. Despite the crazy dust and wind, it was great fun. I’ve returned now to the rv, covered in dust, to try and turn in early, hoping to get an early day shoot in tomorrow. (though the light in the morning is not ideal, I’ve got to try and salvage this trip and get some pictures) Praying  this craziness clears up by morning. This place is full of agony and ecstasy. Brutal weather, intense heat, harsh conditions. And then there’s the incredible creative feats of this humanity that astound you at every turn, the loving kindness of the people here, all for the sake of itself, just to share. So joyous. So worth it.

(September 2nd, 2012) Oh Hells Yes

The insane wind was gone by morning. I’m guessing it was a cold front moving in, because Saturday was perfect. Cooler, just enough breeze, some dust devils here and there, and that’s about it. I was able to get out in the morning and again at 5pm to shoot people. Feeling like I’m just now really getting the hang of the camera. As always it seems, I had issues today. Went out to the Temple to shoot this morning, had memory card problems and was only able to shoot a few people. Thanks to a very helpful and kind photographer who knew right away what my problem was (a mac issue) I was able to reformat the card and will head out again at 5pm to get one last shoot in before we leave tonight. Sunday is always a strange day here. The Man, the center of everything and our chief navigation tool for this temporary city, is now gone, (having been burned the night before) leaving you with a feeling of disorientation. People are tearing down their theme camps and packing up to go. Many have already left or are leaving now. It’s rather bittersweet. There’s an emotional mixture of being ready to go home and not wanting to leave. This is such a remarkable place. No matter what I go through here, and I’ve been through experiences both great and terrible, I still want to come back. And there’s always the idea that “I can do it better next time”, and I want to. Again. As I should have expected, knowing the nature of the Playa, what I thought was going to be a 1 year project, is now a 2 year project, and looks like it will turn into 3.

This place is always inspiring. My long-time idea of creating an art car is now turning into an obsession. It really is the best way to get around (in my opinion) There’s just so much to see, and having a playa vehicle allows you to see so much more. Besides, it would be fun as hell. Well, we’ll see. The ideas are endless.

The burning of the Man was absolutely beautiful last night, best yet I think. Perfect weather for it, and as always they did a spectacular job. Best fireworks show yet, great fire and fantastic fire ball explosion in the middle of it all. Yea I know I sound like a dork here, but damn, hells yes, it was friggin’ awesome.

It’s about 2pm now, and going to try and get a little nap in before my final shoot and finishing the packing up to go home. Looking forward with great relish to the first real shower in over a week. Can’t wait.

(September 3rd, 2012) Homeward bound

9am Monday, on the road back home. Back in the dining area seat of the old 1984 RV, whom we’ve dubbed “Big Bertha” heading home on I-80 at 65 mph. This is always the most brutal part of the trip. Everyone is tired and beat and just wants to get home. Feeling very thankful that my traveling companions are veterans and good troopers, no bs or drama. (this is a first for me). Nearly 1000 miles to go. Getting out the gate was rough last night. We headed out about 8:30pm, when it is usually smooth sailing and a great time to leave, but not this year. It took us 3 hours to get out the gate, and another 2.5 (usually 1.5) to get to the main highway. Three hours is actually not that bad. People leaving today will face a 6-10 hour wait. Now that’s brutal. We landed in Fernley at I-80 about 2 am and got about 3 hours sleep in the Walmart parking lot. Thank god Fernley has a Starbucks. A little more awake now, though still feeling very weary and fried. Getting excited to get home, to see my man, and play with my pugs.

Got a few more good shots in yesterday late afternoon, including a gorgeous woman from Haiti, a rather sexy man from Germany, a darling couple from Russia, and three rather drunk but lovely young ladies from San Francisco. All in all good, though I still wish I could have taken more. Looking forward to editing the photos and really seeing what I’ve got.

We’ll be stopping in the little town of Winnemucca, Nevada in about an hour, and are planning to stop and take advantage of some WiFi, (there’s been no access at all for 8 days) so I will finally be able to post these blogs. I’m sure I’ll have about 1000 emails to go through by this time. Sigh.

I do want to thank my traveling companions, Patric, Lawrence, and Kharis, for making the drive as pleasant as it possibly could be. Thank you Weasel, the leader of our theme camp Whiskey and Dust, and all 65 of my wonderful camp mates, for all your help and support. And of course, a big thank you to my man, Jiva, for his loving support. I miss you baby, see you soon.

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