Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Jump right in.

I’ve been painting the little cards that I send off in batches of 5 to a nonprofit who distributes them to seniors in Michigan assisted living and nursing home residents, I get attached to almost every painting and it’s hard to put them into envelopes and mail them off. It’s kind of like they are my kids or something.

I need to start working on spring stuff again.

Before I mail them I like to just look at them, and I always take a picture before they go. I’m often surprised that I painted them, but other times it’s painfully clear that I did them, though most of the time I send them on anyway. I know how much it means to get a note in the mail, and most people won’t be offended if the artwork isn’t up to par.

Did these in January for Valentines. I think I did 10 of them.

Because, really, who decides what’s par anyway?

The nonprofit I make these for is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, and it sends cards all across the United States. I work with the Michigan chapter, because that’s where I live. But I know there’s a big chapter in Florida too, as well as smaller groups in the other states.

These just went to the seniors. Sometimes I do images a second time, so some of you might recognize something in here.

They take handmade cards that are donated by individuals and groups, and get them into the hands of people who could really use a smile. Check them out if you make cards and are looking for an outlet for your art. Your art doesn’t have to be watercolor. It can be anything at all, stamping, collage,pencil, anything that will make someone smile.

Still love to do birds.

But I really meant to blog about a tiny bit of branching out that I did. Something a little bigger than the greeting cards I’ve been painting since the pandemic began. This is a 5×7 piece, done from a reference photo I stole from a friend’s Facebook page a couple years ago.

I loved the color of her coat and boots and especially the hat.

I didn’t have enough confidence to try it back then, but I loved it when I saw the image on her page and thought it would make a really lovely painting. It’s her granddaughter, walking among the pines on one of their many adventures up north.

At the beginning of 2022 I began to think about trying to reproduce some version of the image. I always knew I’d mail it to my friend, regardless of how it turned out. It’s the thought that counts. Right?

Might even start to do some summer stuff. Even if there IS 5 inches of snow on the ground today.

But oh the pressure! To do something bigger, something specific to someone. And to do a person, even if it’s just the back of a person! All of those things made it very difficult to start.

These, done last fall, were much easier!

Why is it that we so often don’t want to start, in fear of failing. Of wasting a piece of paper and a little bit of paint? I did a practice painting in my sketch book and it wasn’t bad. So I took a deep breath and just began.

And I’m mostly pretty happy with it. Of course, like any piece, there are things I’d do differently, things I hope no one notices. But that’s true of any piece of art.

And in the end, it fulfilled a number of goals. One was to make my friend smile. Another was for me to try something different. And a third goal was to realize it’s just paper…dont worry, jump in!

From this past Christmas.

Today I encourage you all to take some time for yourself and jump into something you love to do. Or something you’ve always wondered if you’d love.

The experience will make you smile. Guaranteed.


Sending cards in new directions

Since this pandemic became overwhelming, way back in March, I’ve been painting little cards and mailing them off to people.

These were birthday cards.

It started as a little project to keep me occupied, and a way to send smiles to people who were stressed or homebound or lonely or all of those things. I planned on producing and mailing one little painting a day until we were through with all this virus stuff, which would certainly be, I thought, just a few months. At most.

Sympathy, birthday and happy retirement!

I was naïve.

Christmas kept me busy.

Now many many months have passed and I’ve mailed cards to almost everyone in my address book and then some. I stopped painting every day and I didn’t have a plan for what to do next.

The foot went to someone who broke his ankle, and the rose was sent in sympathy to someone who lost a sibling.

And then I happened across a Facebook friend’s post about getting recognition for her 1000th donation of a handmade card to a nonprofit group who in turns sends them to people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes. People who are stressed, homebound and lonely.

A Christmas card based on somebody’s holiday doormat. You know who you are.

The name of the group is Bring Smiles to Seniors and they have two offices, one right here in Michigan, just a few miles from where I live!

More last minute Christmas cards.

I emailed them and after a few messages back and forth I knew I had found a worthy group, people that would find good homes for my little paintings.

One of my favorites, a birthday card.

I’ve done my first group of 5 and sent those off. Now I’m working on my next group. I don’t feel pressure to paint every day, but when I feel like making a little picture I know I have a place to send it.

My first batch of 5 cards sent to make seniors smile.

I know the group is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, but it’s also making me smile. I guess that makes sense, I’m a senior too.

Christmas just kept going.

Some of you may see paintings here that look very much like paintings you’ve received from me. That’s because I’ve started doing some that I’ve done before, don’t look too closely, these might be better than the originals I sent you months ago!

Christmas was fun.

It’s true what they say. Practice does make perfect. Or, in my case, nearly perfect.

Some of these got mailed way after Christmas, but I hope people love them anyway.

There’s no real perfect in art, right? The artist always knows where something didn’t go as planned. Sometimes that makes a picture better, sometimes not so much. But either way, I hope those lonely seniors who get my next bits of art smile.

I think they will.

Moving on from the holidays now.


So about that spunky little bird

A few of you are wondering, still, what the story is about that spunky little bird you saw in a previous post.

He was a quick little painting to do, all wet paint on wet paint running together. I really liked him, and didn’t mail him off right away, though I did post him on Facebook saying something like “I think he’s ready to fly.” He got a lot of comments, naturally, as he is very very cute.

I considered keeping him, he made me smile so much, but he was created to fly off to a forever home so eventually I scrolled through my address book and chose a place for him to land.

His new mom is a member of my Truck Safety family. Her son and her ex-husband were killed when the car they were in was rear ended by a semi a few years ago. She’s using her unrelenting grief to work with the Truck Safety Coalition as we try to make safety a priority.

I thought of her because she’s spunky too. She’s not a very big person, but she’s so strong and eloquent and unafraid to make waves. She’s just the kind of spark we need and I so appreciate her.

So I wrote a note on the back of the painting saying he reminded me of her and mailed him off. A few days later I received a Facebook message from her, thanking me for the gift of her little bird and telling me this story:

She noticed ‘her’ bird on my Facebook post, and said, aloud, “Oh I want you little bird,” but she didn’t comment on the post. She figured I had made him for someone, and had already decided where he was going.

But she connected with him.

So she squealed when she opened the unexpected envelope and the little bird hopped out. Her husband wanted to know what was up…and she told him I had sent her the bird she’d wanted. He figured she had asked me if she could have him. But she hadn’t.

No, she never commented on him at all, I randomly picked her name out of all the names in my address book. I think this little bird was destined to find his forever home with this mom. I think he was meant to help her her with her unbearable sadness.

And I don’t believe it was a coincidence.

Do you?


Painting smiles, one day at a time.

I started making little paintings when the Covid craziness started, back in the middle of March. Originally I thought I was going to send a card to someone each day, in the hopes that it would make them smile amidst what felt like panic and fear. Then I realized I’d have to go to a store to buy cards. And they were expensive.

Nature in all it’s colorful forms

I don’t exactly remember the first time I googled ‘easy water color pictures,’ but there were a bunch of ideas. I started saving ideas into a folder, not anything specific for people, just little things I thought I could replicate. And I had some old, dried up watercolors on a pallet from years ago…and some paper somewhere in a bin in the basement.

So what the heck, I hand cut some rectangles the size that would fit into a small envelope and started out. I’d paint something and if it wasn’t too awful I think about who in my address book might like it. And then I’d send it off.

One a day, a little bit of a smile, sent through the post office, to someone who might be surprised and happy to get mail that wasn’t advertising or a bill.

A rustic little scene of a friend’s favorite beach in Maine.

Eventually I started looking for specific things for people I knew. A crane for someone who always has a family of cranes she watches each year. Musical instruments for musicians I know. A black cat for a friend that has three of them at home. Another black kitty for someone who’s black furbaby just died.

This little goldfinch just popped off the page and definitely made me smile.

I started watching youtube tutorials and trying to recreate the fun things I saw there. A lot of that is abstract, filled with doodles and color. Those are so fun, but harder to place in good homes.

I’m still doing this, though now I don’t mail one every day. It’s taking me longer to get them done, some of them are getting more complicated and have required more than one attempt.

Different kinds of art, something for everyone.

I haven’t shown you the failures yet.

Still, I’m plugging along. I posted on Facebook a week or more ago that I had completed a few, and now I have a list of people hoping to find smiles in their mailboxes someday. I’m working through the list…but I’m also just doing stuff for fun.

Remind me to tell you the story of this little bird.

My biggest challenges are those for people where I have a specific idea and I’m having trouble executing what’s in my head. Some of you may fall in this category. At this stage if you haven’t seen a smile it’s because I’m stuck on something that isn’t working and I’m still trying to figure it out.

Sometimes I get in my own way, you know?

These went to family in Norway, representing things we saw on our visit last year.

And, of course, if I don’t have your address, well, it’s hard to mail you a smile. I just sent some to our family in Norway, and I have one ready to go to Canada, but I’m not showing you that one because it hasn’t left yet and I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.

These were all so fun to do!

Anyway, this is a rambling post just to share with you all the fun stuff I’ve been doing. The pictures in this post are the latest pieces, done since my last post about all of this. I’ve sent 80 so far, but I’m definitely slowing down.

Guess this was my purple and blue period.

If you’ve received one of my smiles I hope it worked and you’re smiling still. If you haven’t, and you would like to, well, message me on FB or email me, and I’ll add you to the list.

Be patient though…you just never know when a smile will strike!

An osprey a day…no wait, that’s not how it goes…


Still mailing those smiles

It seems like I just wrote about the little water color paintings I’ve been doing and sending off each day. But when I look back I see it’s been a month, and in a month there’s been about 30 more little paintings.

Do you want to see some of them? I’ll be honest, I like looking at them, and sometimes it’s hard to mail them away.

But I hear back from most people that receive them, and so far the notes and paintings seem to be doing the job they were sent to do. They are making people smile.

Not every painting has been a success. There have been several failures, though sometimes I look at one of those and think maybe I can salvage it.

I think that especially on Sunday nights when I don’t have anything to mail on Monday. So far I haven’t missed a day and I don’t want to break my streak.

I’ve started doing something specific for people’s birthdays. I’ve even sent a few sympathy cards made from one of my paintings.

I have a few more ideas, but the momentum is slowing down. I planned on continuing this until life gets back to normal, but the reality is that normal is an unknown thing now and may always be.

In fact we may lose our entire summer to this stay at home order here in Michigan. Certainly there will be restrictions for the foreseeable future.

So maybe I’ll continue painting these. If you haven’t received one, please don’t be sad. It’s probably because I don’t have a mailing address for you. You’re welcome to send me an address and I’ll see what I can come up with!


It’s not about the art

Once a month a group of ladies (and sometimes men) get together and create a page in their art journals. The session is taught by Kim, a local artist, who plans the activity to help us learn different techniques while expressing a bit of who we are.

Kim’s work is beautiful, our work is stress relieving, peaceful, fun and not meant to be great art.

Started out with graduated colors to build a landscape background.

In fact the evenings aren’t about the art at all. Instead they provide camaraderie, funny stories, lots of laughs and usually cookies.

Last night we all worked on Kim’s vision of combining acrylic paint techniques with primitive dolls with a bit of ourselves.

Then we chalked in the image.

The dolls represented a bit of who we are, or were as kids or always wanted to be. The hair might be the way you wished yours was, the head might be your favorite pet, the colors muted or bright depending on your whim.

Then we blacked out everything but the image.

The final clue about who you are would be something put in the center of the dolls petticoat…but we ran out of time to do that last little bit. I’m thinking about putting musical notes on mine…or maybe just a Treble-clef.

Then we used pinstriping tape (from an auto parts store) to add stripes to her overcoat.

We’ll see if I get around to doing that. Even if I don’t, it was a really fun evening…and I got to play around with acrylic paints, so double fun.

Painted her coat red, then pulled up the tape.

What do you do to treat yourself once in awhile? You can’t beat sitting down with some paint and a bunch of laughing women.

Everybody’s lady is different. Just like we are.

Even if you don’t produce great art.

Having fun on a star filled evening with my primitive lady.


Looking for a different shade

So many choices.

We’ve decided to have the inside of our house painted. All of it. For the past decade (or two) we have been living with primer white because we can’t agree on a color.

I actually like white. We have a lot of very nice woodwork and with white walls the trim is the feature. On the other hand….white? Just white? Everywhere?

But color can be so scary.

I still want the trim to be the feature and everything I read says if you want to feature woodwork you should choose a color either a lot lighter or a lot darker than the wood. I know for sure I don’t want the paint to be really dark, so now I’m looking for the right shade of, well, white.

Did you know there are hundreds of whites?

So far I’ve narrowed it down to two options and frankly as I was painting each on a paper plate there doesn’t seem to be much difference between them. After I painted one coat of each I stood and stared down at the two plates. For a long time–until I realized I was literally watching paint dry.

There’s a difference between them. I think.

Then I came up out of the basement to discuss it with you. What do you think? Should I push myself out of my comfort zone and try something a little more daring than a shade of white? We already have green carpet and a beautiful multi colored stacked stone fireplace.

Grey beige or tan beige?

I don’t know if I can get too crazy.

And I haven’t even started to figure out the bedrooms, where, I think, we can do something besides off white.


You should just pick the one that matches me mama!