Category Archives: Creativity and Fun

Fun events encourage and inspire creativity in all other areas of the artist’s life and work.

On vacation

Here we are again at Leetes Island, Guilford, CT. Nothing much has changed and that’s the way we like it. We get all the change we need in New York City. We’re here to relax, toodle around, browse the bookstore, swim, eat and refresh ourselves. Crossword puzzles, reading and sketching and enjoying the birds at low tide are what occupy us. Dennis is a pro at jigsaw puzzles.

Dennis is a puzzle pro

Dennis is a problem pro

We  love the sun porch which faces the water.

Sun Porch at the cottage

Sun Porch at the cottage

Dervishes sketch

Dervishes sketch

They landed via balloons

They landed via balloons

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

I went shopping at Joann’s and got the materials to make a small,doll. Part of an ongoing story game that my sister Pat and I keep spinning out via text messages are 150 miniature dervishes who now live in our living room in the village. Fifty of them hid in my suitcase and are here on the island with us, They landed one day via balloons and have been living with us ever since I have always enjoyed making up stories and characters and since I have been declared certifiablly sane there is no reason to stop. That is why I am making a dervish doll. here’s my sketch.

tiny and constantly,spinning

tiny and constantly,spinning

He will be around three or four inches high which is suitable for a,miniature dervish.

These are the materials I picked out. Joann’s is a mucho fun crafting store. And here is my doll as it progresses. Being connected to my imagination on an everyday basis is not only fun , but helps me keep my sanity and sense of wonder and humor. After a while the characters we create come alive and take on their own personalities. that’s the fun and fascination. When the dervishes popped out of my suitcase it was indeed a surprise.


Filed under Creativity and Fun, Dervishes, Dolls, vacations

What to do when the Show is over

There is a bit of a let down at the end of Surtex. Once more we are back in our studios alone.

I am presently working on a watercolor of a  Thanksgiving turkey. He is not as loose and free as I would like, but I think I am okay with what is coming out. Sometimes it takes a few days even a week to see something differently.

I found myself thinking while I  followed thru on design requests: What did I want to do next? Thinking and thinking didn’t help. So I began googling because you never know where you are going to end up. What I found was very much in synch with my thinking. If we tune in to ourselves we will find what we are seeking.

As my mind was going through its litany of “you should do this and you should do that”………I began to imagine and feel that what I wanted  was to free up and loosen up even more. And not just in terms of style, but to let my thinking and creative mind be more open to all sorts of possibilities. It’s not necessary, I realized, to box myself in to one style, one subject etc. The creative process is a discovery and a searching and that cannot happen in a box. It is an exciting process because when you give over to it you never quite know what is going to happen next. And you begin to develop a way of working that allows for this process.

So, I am going to do the paperwork, the follow thru and all the not so fun stuff. But I am going to look at art that inspires and begin to doodle and scribble.

Luli Sanchez

Luli Sanchez

I found a wonderful textile artist, Luli Sanchez whose work and sensibility I find very inspiring and exciting.

Kaffe Fassett designer

Kaffe Fassett designer

I also discovered a wonderful artist, textile designer, quilter, knitter named Kaffe Fassett . I read about his book , Dreaming in Color and ordered it right away.

Journal roses sketch

Journal roses sketch

Journal sketch Wish fairy doll

Journal sketch

I also got out ten of the  journals which I have been keeping for years. They include sketches, cartoons, ideas as well as recordings of events and feelings. Looking through these helped remind me of the creative person I am. I found, among many others, a drawing I did for a Wish Fairy doll I wanted to make and a lovely sketch of June roses.

Here’s one more thing. When I find myself feeling discouraged, feeling that nothing is going to come of the show and why am I doing this, I pull out my cognitive thinking book, Feeling Good by David Burns and find a chapter and exercise that relates to what I am thinking. In a very short time I am back on track again because I see that the self-defeating pattern will get no positive results. Have something you can turn to when your thoughts get gloomy.

And Stay happy.


Filed under Artists, Cognitive Thinking, Creativity and Fun, Surtex, Trade Show

Another break from Trade Shows; My new Floral Haiku Collection

Taking a brief break from Trade Show talk and showing off my new Floral Haiku watercolor collection.

Dennis' lovely logo

Dennis’ lovely logo

Working on changing my style

Working on changing my style

Months ago I wanted to change my style, not a lot, but enough to please me. I wanted to paint with my arm and shoulder more and less with my wrists.To generally loosen up the feel and look of my watercolors.

Considerable painting time went into playing and practicing to combine looks I liked and come up with a new look of my own.

Sumi e brushes

Sumi e brushes

types of Sumi-e brushes

types of Sumi-e brushes

At this time I discovered long forgotten Sumi e brushes in my very large collection of brushes. I watched some videos on Sumi  brush painting and learned how to use the brush. You have to hold it differently and usually have one color on the body of the brush and another darker on the tip. The brushes come to very fine points and are great for calligraphic lines and swirls. It takes a lot of practice to master the correct way to hold the brush and I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I’ll keep trying.

Sumi e painting

Sumi e painting

Renoir my favorite impressionist painter

Renoir my favorite impressionist painter

trendy floral designs in fashion

trendy floral designs in fashion



As usual I did a lot of googling and looking at art styles, poetry, and fashionable florals on fabric that I liked.

A lot of joy and excitement went into these paintings. Also a lot of frustration and sweat when I didn’t succeed. The rejects mounted. I’m tearing them into pieces and want to try using them for some watercolor collage designs.

 Peony andPoppies CollageThe first

Peony andPoppies Collage 

“Breezy”was the first painting completed.



Then came “Airy”

Hydrangea and Hollyhocks, Sort

Hydrangea and Hollyhocks, Soft

By painting number three, “Soft” my hand was picking up the new rhythm of my painting. Sometimes painting feels like playing music. The touch, movement and intensity or softness has to be just right and it all needs to flow. I guess that is “getting into the flow.” It’s a wonderful place to be!

Sunflower and Mum,Fresh

Sunflower and Mum,Fresh

And finally there came “Fresh”

Me in my painting hat

Me in my painting hat

I guess it wouldn’t be far fetched to say I’m happy.


Filed under Collection, Creativity and Fun, Flowers, Nature, Uncategorized

Taking a break-Our vacation on Leetes Island

We’ve been back from our vacation at Leetes Island in Guilford, CT. less than two weeks.

It’s nice to do this post as our lovely seaside days are starting to fade and the energy and spirit of New York are taking over.

Leetes Island, Guilford CT

Our cozy cabin

Each year at the start of September we rent the same cozy cottage on the water.

The Island stays the same from year to year

Nothing much changes on the island from year to year.  It is so completely different from New York City. A perfect place to unwind, and that is what we did.

Dennis worked on a difficult 1000 piece jig saw puzzle and read his history books. I googled a lot of course and kept a cartoon journal of daily events. Have I mentioned that I had been cartooning just for the fun of it for the last 10 years? It’s a cartoon journal of day to day events both real and imagined. The characters are, of course, fictitious, ahem.

One of these posts you’ll see the cartoons appearing.

Next week I’m going to the Comic Con convention in New york City and plan to meet up with my friends Shirley Susilo, Karen Chin and Christine Liu. They all worked in my studio as interns from Parsons School of Design and we have remained friends since. Shirley returned home to Jakarta, Indonesia and has become a well know cartoonist. Karen and Christine have staff jobs as art directors here in the city.

Our evening entertainment

Dennis and I  walked, listened to the Yankee games and ate a lot of great seafood. Friends and family came to visit, play scrabble and eat pizza in our vacation spot on the water.

We were lucky to see some of the most spectacular sunsets we’ve ever seen on the Island.

All the fresh fruit and vegies we could eat

And we ate lots of fresh fruit and berries from our local farm market, Bishops.

Margaret Egret

In the mornings and the evenings we watched the Egrets, the great blue heron, the cormorants and numerous other shore birds as they waded and hunted and caught their dinner – perhaps a small silvery fish or a tiny crab. One egret always appears alone. We named her Margaret and look for her every year. I think that the bird watching and other wildlife adventures are our most favorite parts of being there. Today I have been painting an egret for a new series of coastal painting collages that Dennis and I are working on. I’ll let you take a look in the next post.

Note: Manufacturers like to see the designs in groupings of two or four or more. This helps make them more saleable and consumers like to buy groupings. We’re doing four designs in this series.

Stormy Day on Leetes Island

The swimming is great there: salt water (the Long Island Sound) but no waves – not until the storm hit, that is, and the waves were splashing so high they reached our deck.

One of the five Island Hens

This year we had five lovely fat fluffy hens on the Island.

Theresa’s chicken spa


I bought a new watercolor journal and some really nice pointy sumi e chinese brushes but never got around to using them. I think that painting still felt a little too much like work. But now I am using my chinese brushes to work on my shore paintings. It takes a while to get used to them and the special way of holding them. I am learning to have a lot more respect for my watercolor brushes. They are very individual and specialized.

The end of the summer flowers

We said goodbye to the last of the summer flowers

First signs of fall

and we saw the beginnings of fall not only in the air, but at the farmers market.

New York was waiting for us when we came back.

My next post will  be the first in the series of Everything You Need to Know about Trade Shows. Stay tuned and hope you all had a great summer.


Filed under Creativity and Fun, Licensing, Nature, vacations

Atlanta part 2- An outline of everything you will need to know about trade shows

If you are going to walk a trade show – especially one as large as the Atlanta Gift Mart – there’s a lot you should know.

This post will give you an outline of what is important not only for the Atlanta show, but for any trade show you plan to attend. Then each successive post will cover one or two of the topics outlined here. Take it in small bites. There’s a lot of information to consider.

The first thing you should do, and yes do it now, is look at a schedule of shows for 2012 -0 2013.  Click on this link :trade show calendars, home decor and gifts.

Your primary goal is to find companies that you want to work with, so I will tell you about:

  1. What information  you need to make those decisions.
  2. How  you go about setting up appointments, and how and when you make your appointment calls.  How you keep track of your calls and responses. How to set up your schedule.  How you follow through after your calls to confirm an appointment. How to keep in touch. And most important of all how you enjoy and not dread the process. How you can keep a positive mind set.
  3. How and when to make your hotel and plane reservations. If you are watching your budget some tips on how and where to cut corners and when not to. If you are able take a few extra days to do some enjoyable sightseeing that will only add to the experience. Do set aside time for fun and enjoyment both at the show and socializing after or during the show.
 It’s important to have a plan for both your appointments and for walking the show. I will take you through a few of the manufacturers showrooms I visited and tell you why I chose these companies. I will also tell you what my goals were for now and for the future regarding all the companies I visited and met with at the show. I will also tell you:
  1. How to decide what you are looking for.
  2. Deciding what you goals are.
  3. How to approach a new company and make contact.  What questions you need to ask.  What you should expect at a meeting.
  4. How you should and want  to come across.
  5. How to establish a personal rapport that you can build on.
  6. How to be yourself and overcome anxiety.
  7. How to follow your instincts.
  8. How you should dress. I googled in many different ways to look at fashions for creative people. One of the helpful catch phrases was,”fashion for the artist “. Most of what I found was for women. But guys please do not feel left out. I’m still searching around for some good sites.

Catch phrases

One of my favorite parts of the research process is trend spotting. I will tell you how and where I look for present and future trends in the art licensing markets ; how to decide what other markets you should keep track of. Take photos everywhere and all the time. It’s fun and everything you see makes for great reference and inspiration. And google, google, google. Sometimes I google 10 times with different catch phrases to get what I am looking for.

 And when you come back to your studio exhilarated and excited, feeling inspired and full of energy…
  1. How and when  to do your follow thru.
  2. A good way to keep track of all the information you have gathered.
  3. How to use a gant chart and why it is so helpful.
  4. Asking yourself what new artwork do you want to do based on what you have seen and learned.

inspiration for new artwork

And don’t forget to congratulate and reward yourself for your effort and a for marketing job well done!

Your questions and comments on these outlined topics will be helpful.




Filed under Airlines, Art and Design, Atlanta, Creativity and Fun, Fashion for the Artist, Hotels, Licensing, Manufacturers, Trade shows, Trends

IN BETWEEN THE ATLANTA POSTS -The great cake baking caper

I did say at the start that among other things this blog would include events in our lives that impact on our work and creativity. Just what do we need to do to nurture that creativity? Inspiration can be drawn from many different  experiences.  Coincidentally, as I was thinking this I went to my friend Joana Miranda’s wonderful blog A Talent for Design, I found the idea of “make time to play” especially pertinent.

With fun on our minds and a significant birthday coming up for our tall, gray and handsome brother-in-law my sister Pat and I decided to bake the cake! I may add that this was the first time either of us had undertaken to decorate a birthday cake. We didn’t know what to expect except that this was an adventure. Explorers were we.


Sister Witches

We came up with the idea of dressing as witches to make this all much more fun. Our wonderful witch hats came from Cracker Barrel!

We hoped that by chanting spells such as Double Double Toil and Trouble, Cauldron boil and caldron bubble…….and singing songs such as Witchcraft we could entice our niece and two nephews into the  kitchen to have some fun with us.


The wrapping of the cake from Tales of the Crypt

One by one they appeared in the kitchen at first to watch and then to take part in our fun. We trimmed, iced and decorated. We cut out leaves and made the grapes.


The wrapping up of the cake to keep it fresh till the next day was its own ceremony. The cake was handled like gold.

Paper Tableware for Converting

The paper tableware  we used was one of my designs called Summer Berries.It was licensed to Creative Converting . In licensing as I mentioned every design can be licensed for many different kinds of products. This design was also recipe cards, memo pads and labels for The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Much  to our surprise when all was said and done everyone thought it was delicious  and gorgeous and oohed and aahed. Love went a long way in smoothing out the holes and bumps you might have noticed.

Moving forward we may even take a cake baking course either at the NY Cake and Baking Supplies. , or at a The Institute of Culinary Education.

Peony and Poppies from the Botanica collection

Botanica Lily collage

Back in my studio after the party I am finishing up my new floral designs. You may remember I wrote about them in the First Atlanta post. We put the finishing touches on them today. I am anticipating doing more in this collection including some coordinating designs.

Dennis has been hard at work also.

Pillow from the Everyday Dogs Collection

Every Day Dogs Design by Dennis

Christmas Dogs

The “Beware of the Dog’s” pillow is the start of Dennis’ new “Everyday Dogs” collection. A christmas version of this whimsical doggie design has also been licensed for fabric by Timeless Treasures. My next post will be Part 2 of the July Atlanta Show. I’ll showcase a few of the companies I met with in their showrooms and talk about setting appointments, scheduling, meeting and doing follow through.

As always remember that your comments are most welcome.


Filed under Art and Design, Cooking and Baking, Creativity and Fun, Licensing, Manufacturers

The Atlanta July Gift Show, Part One

After Surtex there were about three weeks to do the show follow-thru, get ourselves organized and think about new artwork. Most of our current clients are in the papergoods market, i.e. paper tableware, stationery, shopping bags and greeting cards. We have a few clients in the home decor area like EvergreenBurton and Burton and Robert Kaufman (fabrics).

At one of our meetings after the show we decided that  we wanted to expand into the gift and home decor market. There are several reasons why. One is to increase our client base. Two, to develop products in a new market area. And three, to stretch the inspiration for our creativity. New markets equals new ideas. And did I mention to increase income?

So, we decided that I should go to the big Atlanta July Gift show to scout out new companies.

In order to do this I researched companies that we had visited in Atlanta in January 2012. Then I spent my mornings for three weeks making phone calls to set up appointments for the show. I was in a happy creative frenzy creating new designs. I was warming up to do a loose fun watercolor style that was different than the way I had been working. I always forget that there is a learning curve with watercolor whenever you try a new style.

I got impatient and frustrated. It just wasn’t working out. I knew what I wanted to do but it wasn’t happening as fast as I would have liked. You cannot rush or force watercolor to do what you want. It’s a watery flowing medium and unless you flow with it nothing works.

Dennis, on the other hand, is a steady worker. He gets his ideas and  creative direction as he progresses on with a design. He knows that this is his process. I typically keep losing sight of my process. That’s my Aries nature. Always forgetting and running headfirst into that same wall. Experience and maturity have tempered it a bit. Whew!

The night before leaving I laid out my clothes for the trip, worked on a painting, and played with Maggie, our cat. I fell asleep around 2 am and got up at 5.

Bye bye Bus stop Cafe

Said goodbye to Dennis, the kitties and Greenwich Village.

Departure from La Guardia Airport

I love getting to the airport early enough to have time to stay relaxed about the check-in time. Shoes off, get patted down, explain away suspicious items like a nail file. The bonus is that I can browse the stores, read a paper and have my coffee and bagel before it is boarding time.

One Artist Aloft

Ah, finally on the plane. Cramped, no leg room, but nice people to chat with and my iPad to keep me amused.

My home away from home

I was lucky to get a reservation at the Days Inn. Everything else downtown was booked. I’ll give you a few tips about booking and when to do it in the next couple of posts. Stay tuned! The nicest surprise was finding that I was just down the hill from the Gift Mart.

Too tired to walk up the hill to the show Thursday afternoon I spent the time between naps strolling downtown Atlanta. It was a nice surprise to find that it was a pretty little city and not just a downtown business district.

Bridges everywhere connecting the three huge buildings

Friday morning I got up early and after a full breakfast (the kind I like) I headed up the hill with the crowds (mostly women buyers) to  America’s Mart. The Mart is actually three 18-story buildings with connecting bridges on different levels. For those who are not familiar with this show it’s main purpose is for the manufacturers to take orders from the retailers who walk the show and shop for their own gift shops.

It takes a bit of navigating and sometimes you just go in circles and get frustrated and feel like yelling “Let me Out of Here!”

Building 1 consists of showrooms for manufacturers of  bedding, rugs, furniture, lighting and more. More broadly it houses the home decor showrooms. Building 2  and its new wing 2W is where I spent most of my time. This is the Gift building and houses companies like the ones I will be featuring in my next two posts such as Enesco, Manual Woodworkers, Burton and Burton, Transpac, C & F and Evergreen Enterprises.

There are also are two sections that are fun and inspirational to walk through. They are the”Living Outdoor/Indoor Gardens (garden statues, furniture, art fountains, flags and wonderful food). The new Gourmet Food Section, in building 2 has cooking demos, books, kitchen products and food tastings. Yum! I made it to the Garden section and walked through with Lucinda who I’ll introduce a little further on.

And then there is  building 3.  I’d have to stay an extra day to walk through  some of the showrooms there, but it would be such a treat. Building 3 houses The Fashion Accessories and fine Jewelry Showrooms. It is known as the Apparel Mart. And some of the showrooms let you shop at wholesale price. Bring your credit card!

Friends at the Show

Chris Peterson and Peter Spader (Chris in the middle and Peter on the right) were my  art reps for around 9 years. Their agency is called C.P. Licensing, and they have been in this business for more than 20 years. About 10 years ago, Dennis and I branched off to be on our own. We’ve all remained friends. Chris and Peter and I met up for lunch each day and had a fun dinner, Margaritas and all, one evening. I learned a lot from them when they were our reps. It was great to do some of the show with them and continue to learn. They are both generous in sharing of themselves and their vast knowledge from years of being Licensing artist Agents. It is very important from my experience to spend a few years at least going it on your own before you sign up with a rep for a number of reasons. More on this also in the next several posts.
Lucinda Wei, a friend and talented designer, walked some of the show with me. I wanted to show her how I would approach  potential customers in their showrooms.


Yes I was really there.

Chris finally insisted on taking a photo of me just to prove to my readers that I was really at the Show. Well I was folks and I loved every minute of it.


My traditional welcome back home

I guess Roosevelt Bear missed me!

In the posts that follow this I will talk about the nuts and bolts of making calls for appointments. It’s important too to make calls for catching up on  both personal and business stuff and finding out what a company is looking for and what is the time period to submit these designs.  Then you need to organize all this information so it works for you! More on that in the next few posts. The calls and appointments are an important part of what you need to do when you want to start expanding into a new part of the licensing market. Or, to start out in the business.

I’ll also take you on a virtual tour of three large showrooms and walk you through a “Meeting”. For now I’ll tell you one very important thing I have learned: Networking is one of the most essential things you can do. And it’s fun and sociable. Keeps you out of the kind of trouble that can come if you become too isolated. And that trouble can be both personal and professional. I didn’t always like doing it, but the more you do the more comfortable you feel. You can make friends along the way with people you work with.

More to come about the Atlanta Show. Keep tuned and please send me your questions and comments.


Filed under Airlines, Art and Design, Atlanta, Creativity and Fun, Hotels, Kitchen and Food, Licensing, Manufacturers, Marketing, Trade Show, Uncategorized