This is my girlfriend Maria’s new love of her life, Teddy.

 I’m pretty sure he is a mini Pinscher.  I promised I would paint a portrait of her dogs (she has another dog Honey I will have to paint another day!)  while I was visiting, but time ran out.

This painting was painted in three locations.  First I sketched it in Maria’s kitchen (notice I omitted the 80’s wallpaper this time around!) Next I got in the car, drove for three hours and arrived at my Dad and Step-mom’s house.  I whipped out my water color pad and almost finished it last night at their house…but I still had some work to do on it.  So location three was back at my home sweet home this morning.

All in all, the weekend forced me to bead some of my pendants, paint some fishees and  complete a portrait of cutie Teddy…I’d say it was an artistically productive weekend.

At this point I’m not sure if my friends and family want to support this crazy endeavor or strangle me. It’s probably a little of both!

A painting of this size can take 5-6 hours.  When visiting, I’d imagine it can be a drag watching your guest stuck in a chair most of the day!  I guess I will make up for it when I give them the paintings to remember me by!

I just want to say it again, thank you all for supporting me -my wonderful friends and family!  xxoo Mary


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#19 -Button Up

Here are a few more pieces I just strung up from my pottery class.

The theme for these were buttons.  Of course I have a beautiful vintage button collection. Doesn’t everyone?

 I took some of my favorites, pressed them into a slab of clay, cut around them to create pendant shapes and then created the bail for stringing them. To get the fun colors I hand painted each button shape with under glazes. The next step was firing. I then added clear glaze to make them shiny and then they were fired a second time. Rhea (from Plum Pottery Studios) if you are reading this, could you comment on the correct terminology for each step of the firing process?  I am sure I am butchering the terminology with words like “thingy-mi-jiggy” and “glazing” and “firing”. There are more correct terms. It just takes my brain about 90 times before I get them committed to memory properly!

Well, I’ve found a fun way to show off my buttons.  Now I will be wearing them around my neck!


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I went away this weekend.  It was my first challenge of waking up in a foreign land and having to create something!

 On my girlfriend’s counter sat two beta fish.  I sort of found this amusing.  It’s like pet 1 and pet 2.  Frick and Frack.  Actually their names are Blaze & Godfreid.  The poor betas can’t be put in a bowl together because they’d destroy one another, so they remain apart….but she keeps them together….

Together Apart or Apart Together?

It’s kind of funny, my friend thinks these fish stuck on her counter are kind of ugly.   Also, she  recently moved and hasn’t ripped down the 1980’s wallpaper. She told me not to “dare post that wallpaper to the public“!  So of course I’m going to!  But in the end she did wind up amazed I made her kid’s fish and the disgusting wallpaper look as nice as I did.  Nothing like a paint brush editor!

So now I own a pocket water color set, pocket paint brush and a 9×12 block of water color paper. They all conveniently fit in my purse.  So no matter what….no matter where….I will be ready!

Yikes!…better start thinking about tomorrow!


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#18 -Ominous Looking Seapod

#18 -Ominous Looking Seapod

Have I gone a little too far this time? This one is a little crazy I’ll admit!

I started the painting not knowing where it was going.  First with a large jade green streak across the paper. Then my natural instinct was to add red which is green’s compliment. Four shades of red later, hot pink started to creep in. The dabs of paint in the center felt to me like seed pods. Do you think it stems from my hang up with pomegranates? (See post #4 -Owen’s Pomegranate).

What it boils down to again is color.  When I get to the point of bright saturation of color I begin to feel a reaction, a response. And that is what art is supposed to be about right?  Our response to the world around us.

 I’ll try to tone it down a little for you earthy muted folk :)

I said I’d try.


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Ahhh, This would be my dream garden.  A place where I could surround myself with color, sunlight, fresh air, sounds of nature….Instead I’m sitting here freezing watching the melted snow puddle into mud!  Ok. It’s not that bad today, but I do love the colors spring brings.

We have a beautiful estate here in Rhode Island called the Kinney Azalea Gardens and I kid you not.  This place is the closest I’ve seen to this painting in my life. Hundreds of azalea bushes in every color of the rainbow. A color addicts paradise. I look forward to it every year. Here check it out:


 Today’s painting was a lot like yesterdays.  I showed up, wet my paper, started adding color and let it take me where it wanted to go.  It was a wonderful feeling.  The painting is 15″x 22″ which is a good size for taking in all the color and detail. I just love the red mingling with the pinks, yellows and oranges.  Looking at certain color combinations releases endorphins in my brain.  Let me tell you this is one of those combos!  I also like the black areas.  They give the painting higher contrast and they remind me of the color of damp trees in the forest.

So this was my second attempt at loosening up and releasing control over the whole art process.  I love it.  It feels good. However, I am craving a simple still life or two…. I guess there’s always next time!  Thanks. Mary


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#16 -Holey Moley Sunset

#16 -Holey Moley Sunset

OK. Confessional:

I am terrified of abstract painting.

 It sounds silly, but I have this strange belief like only certain artists are allowed to paint abstract or minimalist paintings.  I’m not exactly sure how the universe deems these artists to be, but somewhere I got it in my head, that I am not one of these people.

Obviously this is a completely irrational thought. I can’t even believe I admitted this on the world-wide web. So what do you do when you have an irrational fear?  Well, you dive right in and conquer it!  I’ve been on the side lines for way too long to listen to the inner blubbering of my head!

I feel very vulnerable today.  Being a first-born-perfectionist, I like to at least attempt to master things before I put them out there for the world.  Maybe if I created 10 abstracts I could then choose one to post?   …Nope.  With this crazy 365 endeavor I have about 6 hours to come up with an idea and implement it.

Thus you are seeing abstract painting #1.

Freeing.  I feel like I just jumped off the high dive!

Showing the painting to the public =terrifying.  Actually creating the painting =liberating.

It was so much fun to play with color.  You start with one color and then you add another one next to it….then another one….then you have a beginning, so you can add more colors around the beginning creating balance and rhythm. Me the control freak- had to release control…flow with the water and see where the paint went.  I didn’t create the composition before I started painting. Instead every 60 seconds I’d have to observe what the paint and water had done and assess whether I liked it or should redirect it.

Great metaphors for life.  Releasing control and going with the flow.

Huh. Easier said then done!

Well, at least I can now say I tried.

You know that old saying “You never regret the things you’ve done. You regret the things you never did.”

OK. I’m ready to do it again!


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I titled this post pottery monsters because the images I have for you today are ridiculous. Are you wondering what the second photo is?  Space alien? Really ugly mug handle?  Close….it’s a giraffe handle that will be attached to the vessel to create a mug for my daughter. Rhea at Plum Pottery Studios assures me I can carve a better looking giraffe next week after it firms up a bit and I trim the cylinder into a more finished shape.  I thought to myself  “Great! I get to blog  photos of a mug I am creating that I’m pretty sure look like my kindergartner could have done better!” I promise it will look better next week…stay tuned!

The top photo is a mug for my husband that will have a fish handle. I am creating a special mug for each family member. So next week I will create a skeleton mug for my son and a flower garden motif  for myself.

For the rest of my pottery session I trimmed the bowls from last week.  They will get fired this week and hopefully I can glaze them next week. I also applied the finishing touches to the jewelry pieces from last week. Last week the jewelry pieces were colorful.  These are the same pieces except now they have clear glaze on top of them which before firing look like I dusted them with chalk.  Am I boring you yet?

Overall, I’d imagine these photos do not  have much “WOW” factor. Sorry for all of you who crave instant satisfaction!  Instead you will have to wait with me, step by step, as I go through the pottery process. And then one day, before you know it,  the finished pieces will come out of the kiln.

Oh Yes….so exciting my knees are knocking! YES! YES! YES!

I know, I know, you wish I could spare you…but I do thank you for keeping me company:)


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#14- The Beach Comber

This is where I live. The beautiful coast of Rhode Island!

As a collector of many things the beach is my treasure trove. Of course I have a sea glass collection, a driftwood collection and I also have a striped rock collection. My husband spends hours stacking rocks into towers and the sea gull is there as a reminder of my grandfather who loved watching the seagulls and photographing them. They are such funny creatures.

I added the Narragansett towers because they are such a big landmark for these parts and I spent some time thinking about the clothing. I chose a fisherman knit hat and scarf because their roots are nautical, very Irish which is my heritage and very New England as well. I also added a navy pea coat with the classic toggle button because this too reminds me of my home.

It was a very grey day here in Rhode Island and it rubbed off on my painting. I didn’t realize it until I viewed it from the computer. Cold, grey, wintery days are the best days for beach combing. The tourists are long gone, most locals are bundled up in their homes, and if you are brave enough to face the winds you can have the whole beach to yourself. Absolutely awesome.

My daughter has taken a liking to beach combing. We have a secret beach where we go to look for sea glass. We hunt and hunt and then dump all our treasures on the table to see who has the largest and smoothest piece. Ahhhh, the bragging rights until we go again…

I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world living by the sea!


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Or should I say fly on my window!

This is my view every morning from my kitchen sink. I started collecting wooden dancing toys for their bright happy colors and now one by one my girlfriend Maria sends me these little wooden surprises. Thanks Maria! They make me smile every morning.

What is also funny is when people come to visit they change the figure’s poses. Right now the robot is doing an awesome 80’s dance (or is it the pee-pee dance?).  Pop-Pop the pirate had a whole week of adventures on Block Island where he battled crabs and fought off scurvy. You just never know where they’ll wind up and what funny poses they will be in.

Another funny tidbit is when kids come over to visit they are quickly educated on which toys are kid toys and which toys are “Ms. Mary’s” toys! I have a bright toy car collection, a Pee-Wee Herman toy collection and random odd ball toys I find at the Salvation Army like a giant green robotic frog and a Kung-Fu Panda.

This week I treated myself to a new Sakura black ink pen. It’s awesomely smooth. I just love it. This image is a contour drawing (focusing on the outlines of images). However I did create a pencil grid before I started so that I could keep the figures relative to my sink.

There is a fly in the drawing…check back to post #6 for it’s relevance.

In summary, I think toys are great at every age. Everyone needs a touch of whimsy or down right silliness in their lives.  Try slipping some little figures in hidden places in your house and see if they don’t make you smile once in a while. You may even find them difficult to share with the kids!


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#12 -A Bib for Mom

Ceramic Bibs 3

Today I snuck out of the house early and went over to Rhea Del Rosario’s Plum Pottery Studio located at the Peace Dale Guild. I have this concept in mind and it is going to take a few tries to perfect it.  The concept is a bib or crescent shape pendant you can wear as a choker. For over ten years I designed drawer pulls and floral jewelry out of polymer clay, so the decorative elements came easily.  The challenge, as usual, is the technical aspects of this pottery medium which are still all too unfamiliar to me.

First problem – pottery clay shrinks. This is going to take some testing to get the correct size to go around a person’s neck.  I also had to curve the forms to fit the body. I achieved this by drying them on an upside down bowl. Next, pottery clay is heavy. I have to consider whether anyone would wear these pendants due to their weight.  These are all variables I have to consider and they will take a bit of time and resiliency to overcome.

Underglazed bibs

 Step two is the under glazing.  In this photo you can see the first layer of color being applied.  On the left are some extra pieces I am trying out.  When finished, the stripes on these pieces should be rich and glossy.  In the second photo you see two bib pendants with a simple black under glaze. This is because I will get all the color and richness after these have been fired and the regular glazes are applied. I can’t wait to see how they come out.  I’m excited about the middle ones. The third photo shows a few small pendants and a floral bib I am creating with color.  I am going to add a whole second wave of colors when these get fired and glazed a second time which will hopefully make them very rich as well.

I hope this blog brings to light all the different steps involved in the pottery process.  It takes hours and hours of time. So the next time you are at an artisan show or gallery, do not wince at the price. It probably should be more!

 Here is another thing to think about.  The next time you are at Target, Walmart or any other place you can find a $5 dollar dish or bowl consider who made it. How much time did it take?  What are they getting paid? Is it worth it to Americans or third world countries that we pay what we pay?

I think about it daily.  When will American artisans and third world artisans all be paid what they are worth?  Humans are humans no matter where they are born. A bowl should be worth what a bowl is considered worth no matter where it is made….

Messed up politics….money to be made…. These are tough problems to overcome – really tough. I guess eventually globalization will level the playing field.

On that depressing note. Hubby is making French onion soup for supper. I better go choose just the right bowl!


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