Serendipity, Generosity and the Business of Creativity

IMG_2111Lately, on my long commute to and from work, I have been listening to the NPR podcast, “How I built This” hosted by Guy Roz about how entrepreneurs and visionaries built their companies.  Some of the more fascinating stories include  interviews with Eileen Fischer, Stoneyfeld, Edible Arrangements and Instagram.  What stands out as a common  theme is the serendipitous nature of their success. Yes, hard work, smarts and a vision played an important part.  But, often there was a person(s) or defining moment that helped them in ways not understood at the time.  Like how the founder of Edible Arrangements, Tariq Farid, had a part time job as a young kid at a flower shop and the owner taught him how to run a business. How Instagram’s inventor, Kevin Systrom, was inspired by his girlfriend to make high quality photo sharing the key strategy for the platform.

So it is with my art practice and building of my own business.  What started as a simple workshop in the beautiful hills of New Hampshire with artist/teacher (Squam Art Workshop with Kellie Day) has led me to open my own studio, JuJu Art Studios, develop my art and begin teaching workshops of my own. I am also blessed to have several friends and artists who gently (some not so gently) prod me to keep going and improve. And how the kindness of practical strangers have helped in ways neither of us realize.  From inspiration to a little tip or encouragement, it only becomes clear looking back that these were transformative moments.

It is that time of year where the exhaustion of holiday shopping and general chaos drives us to the breaking point.  But, it can also be a time to assess how we are living and how we can breathe a little bit of generosity into our lives.  I don’t have it all figured out and am confounded by my own limitations and flaws but there are times when the clouds part enough to see clearly. Being open to both giving and receiving benevolence can change us, moment by little moment. What we do and say matters. Let serendipity and generosity reign.

Collage @ JuJu Art Salon

What does the idea of collage conjure up for you?  For me, it rekindles the feelings of being ten years old, cutting and pasting and moving shapes around on paper. Remember those sticky plastic figures and shapes?


I always have a collage practice going on the side, in-between other projects.  I find it is a way to open up in ways that brushes and paint alone cannot.  Shapes, line, form and composition.


This Saturday, March 11th, 1-3pm, the first JuJu Art Salon session takes place at my studio in Whiting Mills.  The theme is collage –  an informal discussion and time for exploration. You don’t have to bring anything but if you feel inclined….  bring some materials, samples of your work, ideas, questions.  This is a time to share, discuss and maybe collaborate. Think about collage artists that inspire you.  This is not a formal workshop or training.  $20 suggested donation.  Studio #509, Whiting Mills, Winsted, CT.

No need to RSVP but if you know you are coming, please send me an email at


The art of the internet – curated, trolling recommendations


I spend A LOT (okay, too much) time on the internet to feed my endless, creative hunger.  It is the best way I know, besides in person, to find what captures my attention and imagination, and “meet” other creatives from all over the world.  What a fabulous world we live in that we can stumble across an inspiring artist that we might not otherwise ever have known.

So, following are some of my current favorites online, in no particular order, many their own curations.  Check them out and be inspired.  Have any of your own favorites? Please share in the comments below.

Artists & Studios

Orly Avineri – …the real deal.  I attended her workshop in New Mexico last year and am forever enamored.
Jane Davies Studios –  (search for her on YouTube for demonstrations, she also offers lots of workshops in the U.S.)
Flora Bowley – Bloom True: one of the first online classes I ever took!
Erin Faith Allen – major feels for this deep, real, raw artist with amazing workshops both online and in person
Deborah Velasquez – a dear friend and tremendous talent
Doing the Work of Your Life – I’m going to this workshop in August!
Aimone Art Services – Going in August!
Nancy Hill Studios
Judith Kruger – huge talent and amazing coach
Jessica Torrant – my cousin and an amazing artist
Chris Cozen
Suzan Scott
Sue Berg – this.woman.

Curated Facebook Feeds

Robyn Gordon – just follow, don’t hesitate! a fabulous curated Facebook feed
Abstract Art Sonoma – curated Facebook art page
EMe Muskan ouvre les cahiers – high quality Facebook art curated feed
Painters talking Painting – fantastic interviews and artist profiles

My own curations and feeds….

Follow my Pinterest Art Board
Follow my Pinterest Collage Board
JuJu Art Studios on Instagram
JuJu Art Studios on Facebook

Body Tracing, Art, Teenagers and lots and lots of Giggles

My daughter just turned 14.  What what what?  I was thrilled when she asked to have a party at JuJu Art Studios….just a few days before her party. Okay, then.  I scrambled. What could I do with 8 thirteen/fourteen  years old that would 1)be fun 2)be creative 3)not embarrass her and 4)not require a ton of supplies.


I was so focused on the logistics of the party and figuring out how to make it fun, I was wholly unprepared by the outpouring of creativity that gushed forth so effortlessly.


They just did the project without a lot of fuss, giggles abounding.  No big deal. No Angst.  Unlike us adults, they weren’t stuck on….well, whatever.  They were just hanging out with friends and throwing paint around.

How I wish I could harness that energy in my own work. I love working with teenagers!





Lessons in freedom, expression and blessings

It has been quite a Fall and early Winter, both personally and artistically.  I’ve been blessed with two shows, one at the Underground Gallery in Collinsville, CT featuring my Gloucester series.  And, more recently, a solo show at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, displaying my most recent works on paper (through December 8th). Read a review of the show by Priscilla Newcomb.  And if that isn’t enough, I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by the magnificently talented Judith Kruger who has pushed me to take my work to the next level.

Sometimes life is upended and hits your core. An election cycle so diabolical and unnerving. Then, in an instant, life circumstances change. We are confused and humbled. The lessons are real. Take time for your family and friends. Everything is mutable. I have witnessed incredible grace and courage the last few weeks through community, friends and family. Life is indeed a beautiful and terrifying mystery.

And art imitates life in a very real way for me.  I express through painting that which I cannot  communicate any other way.  I look forward to getting into the studio again soon and splashing around my emotions, feelings and ideas on canvas.

May we keep love and kindness in our heart through this holiday season, and always.

Sacred, Ritual, Ancient

Just having returned from an art retreat in the high desert of New Mexico (“Call of the Wild Soul” – Ghost Ranch), I’ve been thinking a lot about ritual, what is sacred and the impermanence of life.  I really felt a part of the land and a part of something ancient and  connected to the symbols we use to communicate.

Symbols through hieroglyphics, our own cultural symbols, most recognized as $. I remembered a necklace my step-mother bought on our trip to Ireland a few years ago that signified friendship in an ancient Irish language.  We bought it hastily during last minute shopping.  I retrieved it from my top drawer the other day and am intrigued by its use and history.  It was in a box with a label Ogham.

Ogham is an ancient Irish alphabet, dating back to the 3rd or 4th century A.D. It was used on stone as markers for land ownership and memorializing the dead.




In my own art, I am drawn to lines, marks and scratches so this alphabet intrigues me.  Expect to see Ogham in future pieces!



Joseph Campbell

There are some people who leave an impression on you so deep, that you never forget the lessons they taught. Joseph Campbell was one of those people.  The “Power of Myth” helped me understand religion and how our stories give us a sense of place, of belonging. He taught me that we must follow our bliss. Having grown up in a fairly atheist, transient household I had no basis for understanding faith and religion.  But, I was curious (and am still to this day).  His philosophy that religious teachings are metaphors for living made sense to me.  It came during a time in my life in my 20’s of deep spiritual longing.  He is a “hero to me’.

Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living. When you begin to see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know where they were going to be.  If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else”. – Joseph Campbell

Space of your own -- Joseph Campbell

Learn more about him here.

Who and what has helped you through difficult times or has provided deep spiritual guidance?