Monthly Archives: August 2013

Tubac Time and Flipping Coins


I ran away.

I have never understood the saying “same old . . .same old” when somebody asks you what’s up. Nothing in my life stays the same for even 24 hours.

This story is about dilemma and big life decisions and I think you will find it entertaining.

We are not happy with the performance of our gallery since the landlord moved a competitor in two doors away, and the restaurant next door failed and closed. This village is too small a market for one gift gallery, let alone two. Without a restaurant serving lunch in the courtyard, foot traffic is not good. Our lease ends December 31 and we would have to re-up for three years with a rent increase. We have to tell the landlord NOW, however, whether we plan to stay.

First big question – whether to re-sign or not.

So, we wandered into Santa Fe downtown one Sunday to look at what retail space might be available. We looked all afternoon and saw nothing suitable. We were walking back to the car and cut down a little side street one block off the Plaza, which I think is one of the prettiest streets downtown – tree shaded and all.

And right there was an adorable small gallery space – directly across the street from one of Santa Fe’s long time popular clothing boutiques, and next door to a trendy restaurant with a rooftop bar. The space was all brand new inside – tile and wood flooring, corrugated tin ceiling, all new lighting, rubbed plaster walls – the whole building had just been gutted and redone. I would call the look “urban rustic”.

I called and found the rent to be less than we would be paying out here, and the landlord is well liked by his tenants. But we couldn’t move until January because we can’t break our current lease.

Unbelievably, the landlord is willing to wait for us! And we can try it out with just a one year lease! This stuff is unheard of in Santa Fe.

At first, you may think this sounds like a no-brainer. But Mark has a 1957 Chevy in the garage that wants to be a car again, and he is discouraged with how business has been this year, and he basically wants to quit.

So, the second question – whether to retire or not. That is kind of a joke in my case because I would be “retiring” to just my full time online business.

But, for some crazy reason, I have been drawn to the gallery business for the last twenty years, and actually been in the business for thirteen of those years.

Next question – do I want to go on without Mark as a partner in the gallery?

And BIG question – what would it be like if I just concentrated on making and teaching art? Would I be a more relaxed version of me?

Is there such a thing?

We made one decision – neither of us wanted to continue the gallery where it is. That had obvious downsides that could be measured, and not much going for it except convenience.

But the rest of these questions were much more difficult – the choices had enough good and not much bad, but try as we might, we could not land on one thing or another.

At the point a couple weeks ago, when my eyes looked like pinwheels from sleeplessness, and my brain felt like it was trapped in a traffic circle without a clue which way to go, I called Vesta, one of my DFFL (Dear Friends For Life), and she said “Get out of there and come down here for awhile.”

So, I ran away . . . to wonderful Tubac, Arizona.

I started my drive listening to a podcast by Freakonomics radio. Freakonomics was a best selling book a few years back, in which a couple of economists interpret life and society – in terms of economics. I know that sounds as exciting as watching grass grow, but trust me, they are very entertaining.

The title of this episode was:

“Making Major Life Decisions by Flipping a Coin”

WTF? But I listened to the whole podcast anyway, because I certainly was trying to make some major decisions.

Freakonomics started a website where they invite people facing choices they can’t seem to make, to flip a coin (electronic flip) and go along with the result. The economists will follow up at 6 month intervals to see whether you did go along with the flip and how things turned out. They are hoping to study whether flipping a coin is as valid as other ways of making a decision. Here is the website:

I was driving, so I didn’t go to the website. I just pondered the podcast.

The next morning, I was sipping coffee on the veranda of the best B&B in Tubac (or maybe the world) with April, who owns the B&B (Tubac Country Inn), and who is fast becoming one of my DFFL.

I told her about my quandary. She listened well, she asked all the right questions, and then she saw how difficult the choices were.

“You may as well flip a coin,” she said.

I laughed and told her about the podcast.

I then proceeded to go inside my head and heart, sketched a lot, fell in love with a Red Bird of Paradise plant outside my room, spent lots of time in silence, and lots of time chatting with Vesta and April, and ate a bunch of Blood Orange Gelato.

By Sunday morning, I knew that I had gotten as far as I could without knowing what Mark had decided.

I had decided I did not want to continue the business without him as a partner.

I had also decided that I would be OK with the idea of having a lot more time and energy for my art and photography, and with letting go of all the work and stresses of a retail storefront.

So I called home and convinced my DH it was a time for a decision.

He said he really did not want to do it, but he knew I did, and he loves me, and so he would do it.

I said I really did want to do it, but knew he did not, and I love him, so I was willing to not do it.

There we sat on the horns of dilemma. Seconds passed . . .

And then he said . . .

wait for it . . .

“We may as well flip a coin.”

Silent shock on my part.

“I think that’s a good idea.” I said.

“Huh?” he said.

And I told him about the podcast.

So, he flipped a coin, I called Heads (which I always do), and we are going to try our gallery in Santa Fe for a year.

I think.

Unless something un-flips our coin.

I hope I haven’t bored you with this story, but if I have, I reward your patience by showing you the Red Bird of Paradise with whom I had the affair of the heart . . .

redbop1 redbop2

I’m back home now and a little more settled, so you should be hearing from me more often.

Would you trust a big decision to a coin toss? Have you ever done so? How did it turn out? I would love to know.




Perfect Art Journal/iPad Bag . . .


Here I go again – yet another way to schlep my art journaling stuff around.

I have 28 excited folks coming to my art journaling retreat in mid September and they will spend six days capturing Santa Fe in their journals. They will have to carry their stuff

It was surprising and exciting to me that almost all of them are bringing an iPad as well.

My iPad always goes along when a-journaling I go.

You remember all those pictures you’ve seen of painters in the field who are holding up a frame of some sort to isolate the part of the scene they want to capture?

Well, I use my iPad that way. I use it to take a photo of the scene and then I can crop it and enlarge it to get detailed information from the image, and choose what I want to draw.

So . . . this led to the need for a new way of carrying my journaling stuff. I don’t want to drop my iPad accidentally (been there, done that), and I often need my hands free to use my DSLR, which also comes along.

There is a wonderful artist up in Oregon who makes bags. She goes all out and sunprints her own fabric first – with original designs that I love, and then sews the bag. She lines the bag and pockets with some pretty fabric and attaches a strong, adjustable cross-body strap.

I sell her bags in my gallery and it occurred to me one day that one of them might make a perfect art journaling bag for me.

It did.

I promised to share with my retreat students and order one made for them if they wanted.

Then I thought about all of the rest of you and knew you would not want to be left out.

I will be placing a custom order on Monday for any bags you order. This is a one time event and you get your choice of bag color and design.

Let me show you the details . . .


This is the front of my bag and this is the Bird on a Branch design in Blue. It is approx 11.5″ x 9.5″ and closes with a zipper at the top. There is a zippered pocket on the front and an open pocket on the back – with a velcro closure you can use of needed. The adjustable cross-body strap is an inch wide.


The fabric lining is color-coordinated and the pockets are also lined.

baglinedpocket bagbackpocketlined

The back of the bag is black. The velcro closure is not on my bag because it was something I asked the artist to add after I had purchased mine and felt the need for some kind of closure for the back pocket.

The photo at the top of the post shows how my iPad (in its folio cover). my Stillman & Birn Beta hardcover journal, and my magnetic paint box (see this post) all fit in the the main compartment of the bag. Loaded this way, the bag weighs 3.7 lbs. The iPad is 2 lbs of that. The bag itself weighs almost nothing. Here’s the photo again . . .


I usually choose just one color medium to take along on each outing. It might be my set of water soluble markers that I paint with from a Sheer Heaven palette (see this post)


Or, my set of watercolor pencils – which I carry in a Global Art pencil case (24 pencil size).


This leather version is about $20 at Blick, but Global Art now makes some in colored canvas which are less than half that. Search Global Art Pencil Case.


The whole pencil case slides in the back pocket just fine.


When I take my water colors or markers instead of the pencil case, I just throw my water brush, pencil, Pitt Pen and eraser in the zipper pocket. Oh . . . and some paper towels too.


Just this week, I am taking orders for custom art journal bags in your choice of design and color. You choose your design and color in the Shopping Cart pull-down menus.

The cost per bag is $36, which is a screamin’ deal when you consider this is entirely artist handmade – even the fabric printing. (Note that natural dyes will do a little fading over time and use, but that adds to the “patina”).

You can have them shipped for $6, or if you are coming to the Retreat, I can hold them here for you.

Turnaround time will be 2-3 weeks from Monday. The por girl will be making them to order, remember.

Here are the color and design choices (any Design can be put on any color):

Bird On Branch (on Blue)


Tree of Life (on Adobe)


Fern (on green) This looks bad because a small photo was blown up.


Butterfly (on Purple)


Hummingbird (on Turquoise)


The Hummingbird design actually includes two smaller Dragonflies as well.

Here is the link to order:

Custom Made Art Journal Bag


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A Real Treat of Art and Music . . .


There is much I don’t share with you, but not because I don’t want to.

I just have a hard time being a BRIEF blogger. I always want to wait until I have a big story to tell – or a whole batch of small ones. By that time, many treasures have fallen by the wayside.

I came by this video by a circuitous route and was SO charmed that I have to share it with you – right now before it gets lost in my pile of things to share.

This is a music video by Irish singer, Lisa Hannigan, The song is Lille and it can be found on her album called Sea Sew (find it on iTunes).

As this haunting and beautiful song plays, Lisa turns the pages of an incredible two volume pop-up book which illustrates the story. The book was created by Maeve Clancy, another Irish artist.

You know how I love great music and great illustration. And I really loved the whole personality that came through as Lisa turned the pages.

The work put into this project is mind-blowing to put it mildly.

I was so charmed that I watched it three times!!

And then I went and bought the album.

Here is the video link

And here is Maeve Clancy’s site where you can see more of her creativity.


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