I am strong November 19 2020
It's almost been a year since my life changed overnight. My son recently took this picture as part of an assignment for photography class. "Portraits" and I was his muse. (poor kid). When I saw this photo I saw a person that is strong. If this entire year of cancer, chemo, covid, the death of my sister has taught me anything is that I AM STRONG. Resilient. Remember you are stronger than you think.
Hair after cancer treatment October 29 2020
For those following my cancer journey.... I HAVE HAIR!!! No breasts, but that's okay. My energy is coming back. I feel almost normal again. My treatment ends in February 2021 for HER2+ stage III breast cancer. People have asked when do you celebrate finishing cancer treatment? I have been celebrating every single step. The first four hard chemo. DONE. The end of 12 weeks of taxol. YAY, hair will grow! Even the day I had a bilateral mastectomy. I celebrate that I can raise my arms above my head. I celebrate tasting food again. I celebrate the sun on my face. I celebrate my breath and my purpose on this earth.
How the healing came into being August 24 2020
My personal cancer marathon July 22 2020
For those of that are following my cancer journey.... I'm kicking ass!
This month I had a total mastectomy with no reconstruction. I'm healing well and getting use to my new body. My pathology came back and showed NO SIGNS OF CANCER! My journey will continue with radiation and seven months of IV immune therapy. My heart is lighter and making art fills my soul.
What does chemotherapy feels like? April 17 2020
Today marks the halfway of my chemotherapy! YAY! What does chemo feel like, I get that question a lot. It’s different for everyone. For me it feels like having the stomach flu for months. First you have a port surgically inside your chest. It’s a metal circle device that has three bumps on it and a tube that runs up your neck to your main vein. Nurses feel for the bumps and use it to insert the Heparin needle that will administer the chemotherapy. I numb it beforehand because I swear the needle is the size of a bicycle tire pump. Once that’s set up. I receive saline and premeds which help with the immediate effects of the drugs - anti-nausea, Benadryl, steroids and Pepcid. The strong chemo drugs are the hardest on you body. One drug that is called the red devil was the worst. It requires a nurse to suit up, wear double gloves. They hand push the drug over 20 minutes. It instantly makes me feels queasy and I feel like fainting. Most chemo takes about an hour per med and a long break between to monitor effects. After a day of treatment I’m wiped out. The day after treatment is the best probably because the steroids which also makes it hard to sleep. For the next week my eyes weep and are unclear making it hard to read or paint. My fingernails have a lovely orange color. I have to swish with salt/baking soda 4-5 times a day to prevent mouth sores. My taste is completely gone. Nausea is fairly constant. If you had bad morning sickness when you were pregnant, chemo could be worse. I was lucky just to have middle of the road nausea, no vomiting. Day five after treatment was the worse. FATIGUE. I never really knew what that would feel like. My mind and body would hit a wall and would just lay my head on my desk. At times like this I wanted to give up. Seriously hard. I learned to just give in and go sleep for three hours or more. All the drugs they give you to counteract the chemo creates constipation. TMI. A part of chemo I hated. Now it’s swung the other direction with the new therapy. Sigh. Weekly blood tests to make sure my body can handle another round of therapy. During one of the chemo drugs I have to wear ice gloves and boots for a couple of hours to prevent neuropathy. It’s worth it, but so dang cold! Overall side effects that will last forever is early menopause, isn’t enough to have cancer and chemo? The heart takes a beating. My initial heart scan was 75% and has dropped to 61%. There is new research that shows that the heart can repair and strengthen after chemo, I am hopeful. The vital organs also take a hit. After treatment I drink gallons of water to flush my system. They don’t want the chemicals sitting too long in the body. Then there are the mental challenges. Sitting in a full room of people like me fighting for their life, all ages young adults to people in their 90s. Knowing that I will live with cancer the rest of my life. Associating treatment day with ginger tea, I now hate that tea. Smelling rubbing alcohol makes my chest tight with anxiety. Seeing red urine (chemo coming out) makes my stomach nauseous. Seeing my baldness and aging overnight in the mirror. Seeing my family sad and concerned. Worried about my immune system-my white and red blood counts have drop dramatically. Getting tired easily. Thankfully, I never had chemo brain (foggy). I pray and am thankful for the nurses and the life saving medicines. Thankful for all you my support tribe. Thankful for each day.
Blink of an eye February 04 2020
This part of my blog in very personal. My hope is that in sharing my journey that I will hopefully inspire someone else that is going through this difficult time in their life.
Here's my story: I was diagnosed with breast cancer HER+ stage 3 in January 2020.
November 2019: Routine mammogram was all good - clear.
December 2019: I detected a lump. Schedule an ultrasound. Biopsy. Wait.
This was around Christmas so everything seemed to be in slow motion. I saw at least five different doctors leading up to the results. It was a sunny day, the doctor called and told me that it was positive for cancer. I hung up the phone. Tears. My boys circled me with hugs. In the blink of an eye my life changed. The thoughts that run through your head are dark, are so completely sad. I can't really tell you how to climb out of such a place. But, perhaps you have to go there. Mourn. You have to feel these feelings to finally accept your new reality. Which I didn't even know the diagnoses yet. Maybe I only had a year to live. One of the darkest times in my life.
Over the next three weeks I had a breast MRI, lungs x-ray, PET scan, brain MRI, heart ultrasound, portacath (the port where the chemo goes) surgery and a colonoscopy. YES. IT. WAS. HARD. But every scan and test came back negative for any cancer!! A answer to many, many prayers and positive energy.
I've started my treatment or cocktail as I like to fancy it up. I will receive four weeks (every other week) of hard chemo and then 12 weeks of targeted treatment towards this type of breast cancer. That will take me until May. At that point surgery will be the next step and radiation. IT'S A LOT. But after sitting with this for a few weeks. The only way I see is FORWARD. I'm surrounding myself with family and friends. Finding the light in every single day. Reaching out to the most amazing women that have been in the trenches, they share their story and I am able to see hope and a brighter future.
the making of paper cranes November 25 2019
This one was no exception.
The making of the Button Boxes cover October 31 2019
Buttons have always been a part of my life. My gran was a huge collector and connoisseur of buttons. She had jars and jars, sorted by color on a shelf. Special buttons had important boxes and labels. Books that told the history of buttons crowded her shelves. So it was a perfect fit when author Temple Kinyon asked if I would design her next book cover. The photo above is a small selection of buttons from my gran's collection. They were my inspiration for the book cover.
The start of button painting. Outside in the heat of the end of summer. Each button was painted and then collaged together digitally.
Star Forest - the making of a painting June 03 2019
Waves told her story - the making of this painting April 22 2019
Then the rough underpainting. This part always looks so unfinished. It's easy to get discouraged. But after a few years of painting, it all turns out fine. Just lots of layers and continuing on.
word & image project September 18 2018
The Hoffman Center for the Arts features 12 writers and 12 artists to be part of their Word & Image project. I'm honored to be selected as an artist in this exhibit. My amazing partner is Brittney Corrigan. She is the author of the poetry collections Navigation and 40 Weeks. Her poems have appeared widely in journals, and she is poetry editor for Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum. Brittney lives in Portland, Oregon. https://brittneycorrigan.com/
Below is her poem that I selected to make my art response.
for Tammie Jo Shults, and the rest of us
When all the wide world is unhinged—
not just the weather with its conniption
of extremes, but also the cracking open
of our species, the dark fringes scrabbling
their way to light—that’s when we most
need the pilot, the levelheaded timbre
of her voice through the crisp altitude
of air. It’s not just 149 souls on that plane
as it tilts and plummets. It’s all of us
reaching up for the oxygen masks, all
of us trying to pull one another back in.
We need how she navigates us through
the turbulence of fear, how she calmly
corrects to our destination, how she asks
for everything we’ll need. We are single
engine and gaping, but we’re not blazing
yet. The pilot, she soothes, and we are
bracing. We trust her while we descend,
this voice not angelic or steel, no, she’s
just human. But she’s carrying all of us,
the blue smudged to a blur, despair
now clanking wildly at our ears.
We are peeled open and falling, but she
is what we need. A clear, sane winging
back to earth. No, not all of us. But most
of us. The gravity of our hearts plunging
for what we’ve lost. Gripping onto
each other, remembering what’s worth
saving as the mess of us lands.
The exhibit will take place at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita, Oregon during the month of October 2018.
The making of a coloring book May 04 2018
This project has been in the works for YEARS! Seriously. I spent the good part of a year just thinking about doing it. Should I do it? Maybe not. Maybe. So I asked my boys and it was a resounding YES! I got myself in gear and started the daunting task of creating a coloring book. 40 pages was my goal. Each day I tried to complete or at least get one page started. I would sketch in pencil, then use a black micron pen to ink it. Then scan and clean it up. A LOT OF WORK and DOUBT. Then I found an app Procreate. That you can use on a iPad and use a digital pencil. This worked like a dream!!! I was able to draw directly on the screen and go straight to into adobe illustrator. For those tech savvy people, I was able to create line art as a vector. A huge time savings. When I was almost done I thought it was quite a waste of backside of the coloring page. That's when I had an ah-ha moment. When you are coloring your mind can wander. Why not have a journal prompt opposite of the coloring page?! I absolutely love something that has a dual propose. This made it all come together. I did it! One day at a time, one doubt at a time. I hope you really enjoy the book! Colorhappy!!!
Proof of book, big day!
Shipment of the completed book. YES!!
I did it! One day at a time, one doubt at a time.
Go buy the happy book!
Crows and a tribute to friendship March 06 2018
The past three months I've been working on three commissions.
All of them celebrate friendship and turning 50.
This is a glimpse behind the first one.
The first layer is a collage of little bits of old paper.
Then the sketch of the crows on stumps. The sky is rough.
The next part is adding a flannel wing on of each birds.
A nod to the friendship of the commission.
I love painting the black of the crows. They are starting to come alive!
Time for the details. Wings, feathers, sand, logs and sea grass.
The finished piece.
Three crows basking in soft light of sunset.
What a year! January 31 2018
So much art was made this past year.
A glimpse at the top nine pieces from the year.
Ink on rocks, jars of spring flowers to my own art show. Yay!
Following along on instagram
Painting a tree with a friend September 27 2017
sketch to painting - butterfly girl June 21 2017
teapot filled with flowers April 27 2017
This is how it all began.
I started this really as a little mind-therapy.
meditational and healing.
Slowly. I drew a teapot and filled it with flowers.
The more I worked the lighter I felt.
Butterflies were a must.
Click here to see it closer.
Old canning jars filled with spring flowers January 30 2017
This is the beginning sketches.
Then I use a gel medium (golden) to paste down the paper onto the wood panel,
which is 20x16. Big!
I sketch the from the tracing paper onto the panel with Saral paper.
It act like carbon paper and transfers the image.
I paint the background a white.
Then I start with the flowers and stems first.
The next step is the mason jars. I did a little test. The jar on the left was painted white first, then color. The jar on the right was painted with color only. I decide on the left jar. Just so the color would pop and I could leave a white highlight on the jars too.
painting in progress.
The final art. Spring flowers in old jars.
This piece is dedicated to my sweet gran.
local & fresh October 05 2016
I'm honored and humbled
by the beautiful words
written by Shelle Lenssen
about my artwork in the
Go Idaho magazine.
Check below for the full article.
photo credit: Shelle Lenssen
Bee Friends and breathing August 31 2016
What do bees and breathing have to do with each other?
Let me explain.
This is the start of a painting that I recently completed. It's called Bee Friends.
First, I sketch on a piece of tracing paper my bees. The faces were an afterthought. But I think that it adds so much to the piece.
Next, I prepare the background of my canvas.
I found a page in a very old dictionary about how to type on a typewriter.
I loved the round key graphics and thought it would be the perfect place for my bees.
Bees are busy.
Typewriters have that click-clack busy sound too.
The final results. I painted the bees on white mixed-media paper
and then cut them out. The wings are from some old pocket calendar.
I painted the background and then used a gel medium to adhere the bees.
A little more paint. Done.
I find that if I breathe into the process of creating. It goes smoothly and is fun too!
Recently I had the chance to do some downhill biking in Colorado.
Descending from 12,000 to 9000 ft. At first if was terrifying.
The mountain is very steep, difficult tiny trails, at a very fast speed.
I told myself to breathe into the berms (sharp turns).
This is where I would get uptight and almost loose it.
Once I started to breathe into the turns.
I relaxed and it was FUN!
Scary but oh so fun.
Next time you see some honey bees, take a moment to just watch them.
Breathe into the beauty, mystery of it all.
Next time you start a project that seems over your head.
Breathe. Breathe into the turns.
You'll be amazed what you can do!
We did it!
The middle part is icky June 29 2016
I'm walking along the ocean, the weather is stormy, cold and dark. The tide is high and threatens to wash us out to sea. I'm tired and just want to be inside with a warm cup of tea. My husband say, "Let's just go a bit further." I grumble under my breathe. If I was a kid, I would have stomped my feet in protest.
We continued on when I saw it. At first I thought it was a light bulb or glass jar. I called, "Mine!", knowing my competition might see it first. Sure enough, it was a glass float!!! Amazingly, it's been floating around for the past 70 years waiting for ME.
The next day I thought about the moments right before the big FIND. I was so the Negative-Nelly. I wondered how many times in the past, I told myself to give-up when it got tough? I wondered how many opportunities that I missed because I didn't keep going? It's hard when the middle-part is icky and we feel like throwing our hands in the air. When I'm working on a new piece of art, the first part is exciting and new. Then comes that middle part, is this really going to work? [self-doubt]. I want to believe this is when BIG MOMENTS happen. This is when we are pushed in a new direction and another exciting horizon is waiting.
The story behind the book January 19 2016
With any journey there is always a story.
Almost two years ago, I was selling my artwork
at the local Moscow Farmer's Market.
Many eager people said I should illustrate a children's book.
And after hearing it so many times, I thought, maybe.
Then one day a woman saw my artwork at the market
that stopped her in her tracks and brought her to tears.
She went home and ordered a print of She Believed.
A few weeks later that same woman approached me
at the Farmer's Market and told me her story.
I said yes.
This is where it all began.
That woman, Karen Griffith, would become my author
and I would become her illustrator.
The match was made.
Before starting this project I had no idea how hard it would be.
All the little details:
the flow of the book
oh, the characters must always look similar from page to page (eek!)
research on butterflies, foxes, and hedgehogs
how do I make a tree getting tucked into bed?
what font? that took a while to nail down
How did it begin?
Each page was a work of art in itself. I started with little sketches.
Developed my characters. How would they look doing each thing?
I started with large canvas boards to accommodate the entire spread.
The main characters were painted on mixed media white paper.
Then cut out. The backgrounds are comprised of little bits of old papers and paint.
I used a matte medium to glue it all down.
There were days that I doubted it all. Could I really pull this off?
That's what they call the middle part. The unsure, I'm crazy part. The messy part.
With any project, there is a start, middle and a end.
You have to go through the middle part to get to the end.
Once the art was complete. I scanned each one and cleaned them up.
Then started the process of laying out the pages on the computer.
Thankful for my graphic design chops, this part was easy.
We had many people proof the first few rounds.
I'm sure there are a few little things that are not perfect.
But that's okay. There is beauty in imperfection.
We were on the fence about how to publish. Find a publisher or self-publish.
This is a whole other story.
In the end we self-published.
Almost two years in the making and a lot of work,
our book is out in the world!
camp create recap September 14 2015
This summer I held four weeks of Camp Create.
An art class for children. I learned so much about teaching.
And so much about myself.
Here are a just a few snapshots of the classes. We had a lot of fun!
Above: Drawing warm-ups, that always seems to end in laughter.
Bowls made out of paper.
puppets, of course.
Students that were up to any challenge.
The kids personalities were so varied, just like their art.
Art and children.
Most surprising project. The kids loved learning to crochet!! We all sat around crocheting and telling stories.
are you on the right path May 08 2015
the start of the book February 03 2015
the making of a ferris wheel October 23 2014
This was the inspiration and the beginning behind the Ferris wheel painting, "go around again"
my art out in the world! September 17 2014
The city of Moscow had a contest to dress up the utility boxes around town.
Yup, mine are on the corner of HWY 8 (Pullman Road) and Line Street,
just by the University of Idaho Recreation Center.
I love seeing them, and always give them a wave as I drive by.
This little chicken with a padlock beak was not planned.
It makes me laugh and I love how it turned out!
They are Going Places!
the sweet gathering May 15 2014
Otherwise you spend a lot of time doing a ton of detail work.
what happens before a painting is done? March 13 2014
The next few photos is of the progress of my Star Keeper painting.
I find it fascinating to see how it all works together!
The idea is loose and a start.
Somehow the tree was first. My first mistake, do the background first!
A little background, roughly put in. Note to self: do the background to the best of your skill, first.
Paint pieces of paper for the leaves, tree trunk and grass. Fun and easy.
Started putting in cut pieces of paper to make the tree. I loved this part!
This sketch was done at another time. When came time to decide what would go along with the tree... these two decided they would be perfect.
Cut out of old papers, next step is to make them come alive.
They are looking good, cute and perfect for this colorful tree.
Now to work on that background....
Remember that background that wasn't perfect to start with?
We'll I went and painting around each little leaf, which took forever and was SO worth it!
It turned out great!
Want to own your own Star Keeper print?
what is your word? January 17 2014
That is my word for 2014.
found hearts November 19 2013
Part of my daily noticing is finding hearts. It's magical, try it!
make a driftwood mirror October 10 2013
I started with a cheap mirror base that I picked up at a discount store. Popped out the mirror. Next have a good stash of driftwood. I love medium size sticks, from straight to curvy. I left the mirror base black, but you could paint it white. Next I used small nails with heads. The job would be easier if you had a nail gun.... next time.
Then just start nailing them to the mirror base. You may need to use a few nails in each piece.
First round of driftwood. Then go back and find the perfect pieces to do another layer, just to cover the black background.
All done! Put the mirror back in and since it already had a picture hanger it went straight on the wall. Another fun idea, would be to spray paint the wood all one color, striking white or bold pink.
I love the little piece of driftwood on the left that has a bit of green and white paint.
a circus painting September 27 2013
simple inspiration idea May 10 2013
The above photo took all of 15 minutes and all items where found in my house.
making art from the heart March 27 2013
making a tree painting February 11 2013
creative retreat! January 10 2013
creative class December 03 2012
The kind you don't want to end.