Last week I did something that I very rarely do which was to take a vacation. I was coming up on an important birthday (I’m sure you can guess which number I hit) and I wanted to do something very special to celebrate. For years I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about California but I’ve always made up excuses why we couldn’t travel there. Then I realized I was being an idiot as the real reason was because I am terrified to fly.
Trying to describe this phobia to other people who don’t have it is difficult. I come from a family of flyers- my brother is even an airline captain. I’ve flown quite a bit- especially when I was younger as my parents suffer from wanderlust, and I’m familiar with the experience of it. I know the stats and how safe it is, but it doesn’t matter. The second I see the airport and all the planes and the people, my body lurches into a state of panic. I just see fire balls in the sky and want to cry. I’ve never flown with John and although he knew about my fear, he couldn’t believe how deep and menacing it was until he experienced it first hand.
Even before we boarded the plane I went through the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief. There was actually a sixth stage which was blind panic, which I favoured but I also spent a lot of time in denial and depression with the occasional comatose stage of acceptance. I had two solid vodka tonics in me which helped dull these sensations but it wasn’t enough. We boarded the plane and the nice flight attendant gave me another vodka tonic which I chugged back in front of him (much to his horror) before he declared that I belonged in a frat house. The journey itself was fine until we hit turbulence over Utah. It came out of nowhere and it was startling. People screamed- I was one of them and likely the loudest, then I cried and shook for a while. After that, I found myself under the suspicious eye of the flight attendant as I was probably labeled ‘high risk’ or some other term they use for unpredictable drunk artists. John was good- he did his best to console and calm me and he even let me tear the skin off his hand to help distract myself.
However, it was all worth it. California was breathtaking in spite of the drought. We spent some time at Mr. C’s in Beverly Hills before going up the coast to the Biltmore in Montecito and Santa Barbara where I couldn’t get over the ocean views and gorgeous architecture. We went back to Los Angeles and stayed at the magical Chateau Marmont in one of their garden cottages that we nicknamed ‘The Mildred Pierce’ as it was authentically out of the 1940’s and was very special.
The trip back was significantly easier, mostly thanks to the harrowing taxi ride from West Hollywood to LAX in a record breaking 17 minutes. After that, I was more than happy to take my chances with the airplane.
Hello everyone! I’m back and the sale is on! The prices listed in the shop are the full prices so in order to get the 25% discount you have to enter JUMPSTART in the coupon code box at checkout! Sale ends October 8th at 11pm.
All Hallows’ Eve, Hell’s Kitchen, New York. 1989. 11″x14″, oil on canvas. For sale on etsy.
Alternatively, this painting could be called ‘Awkward Halloween Costumes From the 1980s’.
Halloween is the time of year where I wish I had children so I could dress them up in ridiculously cumbersome Halloween costumes- the kind that would make them exhausted after only a block of trick-or-treating. The cuteness factor would be through the roof though and they would feel better about themselves for having earned that candy. My protestant roots are showing aren’t they?
At The Ursula Academy For The Supernaturally Gifted, Veronica Golighty excelled in Haiku, astronomy, and mathematics. She also enjoyed mid-eighteenth century butterfly paintings, and she had recently perfected the delicate art of levitation. Oil on canvas, 16″x20″. Sold.
Another student at the unusual Ursula Academy. There may be more….we’ll see. By the way, I did re-watch ‘The Fury’ and was just as terrified as I was when I first saw it back in the 80’s. Especially the end. I can’t even talk about it.
It really is the naked man that makes this piece complete. It was a tough decision though, keeping his swim trunks off. John and I got into a terrible fight about it the other night while we ate our dinner. He felt that the naked man was gratuitous and obvious and would detract from the grandeur of the hotel, but I felt that it added a needed tension to the piece. Plus, I argued that it is European. John really couldn’t argue with that, but just as we were resolving that dispute, he muttered under his breath that the bell boy was borrowing a little heavily from Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’. Smack! I tried to counter that statement by telling him that I haven’t even seen the film yet. When you live in a one horse town with one movie theatre that is still showing ‘Spaceballs’, you quickly get behind on current cinematic offerings.
The truth is that I painted my ultimate dream hotel. This is a place that greets guests with a synchronized swimming show, serves fine French cuisine in the hotel restaurant, and encourages you to jump out of your window afterwards for a refreshing evening swim in the temperate lake.
Julie Blue’s Marvelous New Swim Cap, oil on canvas, 10″x12″. Sold.
I don’t really know what to say about this piece, but I will point out that there is a frog in her marvelous swim cap. I will also state that I’m delirious today because this is the first day that I was able to wear shoes outside. I was so excited about this that I called them ‘non-boots’ to the sales lady where I buy my canvases from. She replied by saying ‘You mean, shoes?’ It has been so long, that I had forgotten the name for them….and that is a sad thing.
Miss Moon Was A Dog Governess. Lesson Nineteen: Be A Good Sport. Life Is More Fun When You Get Your Hair Wet. Oil on canvas, 11″x14″. Sold.
I think there is some subtext to this painting. At first glance, it appears that Miss Moon is conveying this particular lesson to the three fancy dogs standing on the boat with her. However, if you look closer….and I mean much closer, you can see Miss Moon’s eyes are staring directly at Mr. Bitters. He is properly attired for swimming (minus bow-tie) and he is actually ‘on’ the water, but he is not exactly in it- is he? I think he’s hoping that Miss Moon will consider this to be close enough, but we know it isn’t. Also, notice how he is always wearing orange and red? I suspect this is a reference Miss Moon’s lovely red hair.
We’ve stumbled upon that special time of year again! I’ve put the shop on ‘vacation’ until this Friday to prepare for our Black Friday Sale. The prices listed are NOT the sale prices. In order to get the 20% off, you have to enter ‘BLACKFRIDAY’ (all one word) in the coupon code box at the etsy checkout. Every year there is confusion with this- some people type it into the comment box rather than the coupon code box. I try my best to keep an eye on all orders and make sure that they all have the discount, but I can miss some depending on how busy it is so it’s best to enter the code correctly. Also, remember that we are located in Canada so if you are looking to do some Christmas shopping this is the best time to do it so that you will receive your order before Christmas.
The 20% off sale begins on Friday at 9am and runs until Monday at 11pm. It applies to everything in the shop!
I’ve been wanting to post about this for some time but with things being rather hectic for the past few months, it has been really put on the back burner, or perhaps even worse, buried in the bottom of my closet- a terrible terrain where certain things disappear and are rarely, if ever, seen again.
Last year I began working on a book. It started off as the book for my ‘Black Walnut Manor’ series but morphed quickly into something else entirely- as things often do with me …. I start off painting a duck and it turns into a woman pirate with three strokes of a brush. I think the book is best described as illustrated fiction- possibly magical realism, and to be truthful, it likely has no place in the publishing world. It is not for children- although, possibly suitable for twelve and up and it contains almost as many pictures as text, but it is not a graphic novel- so it would occupy a funny place in the adult book market- that is if one even exists. Do adults read picture books?
The story is told through a series of vignettes and character profiles that all interconnect. It is whimsical, a little dark, and according to those who have read it, humorous as well. Perhaps it is more a piece of visual art than a book. Whatever it may be, I have really enjoyed working on it and I hope to return to working on it soon. In fact, this random post is likely a kick in my own pants to get myself to finish it, so that I can reveal more about it aside from the one character, ‘Elaina Of The Everglades’ who I will only say, possesses certain magical gifts.
My apologies for those who have been waiting patiently for new original work to appear. My time is really divided right now- but I’m hoping to have a still life completed in the next day or two. Something spring-like and cheery.
This month I had big plans to hibernate. The kind of hibernation that calls for unflattering pajama pants, cups of hot chocolate laced with brandy, a hefty stack of magazines, and more than just a few sugar cookies. For reasons that I don’t even want to mention as they are so painfully obvious, this December has turned out to be a very somber one and perhaps the urge to hibernate may not have been such a bad idea. Yet, as the month unfolded, these great plans for escape vanished as Christmas orders kept coming in and my social calendar unexpectedly filled up. Finally the other night just as John and I put our feet up after shipping out what appeared to be the last big batch of Christmas orders, John came up with the clever idea to watch ‘The Red Shoes’. I know, it’s a strange suggestion coming from a man, but his taste in film seems to run the gamut from classics like ‘The Red Shoes’ to ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night’- which fortunately I’ve been spared from watching.
The strange truth is that I have never seen ‘The Red Shoes’. It always eluded me until John purchased the Criterion Collection copy of the film a short time ago. I knew that I would love it if I ever got the chance to see it as I’ve gleaned enough from film stills and quick excerpts to know that it was a film for me. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a stunning film with a very unsettling undercurrent. A true fairytale. You are never unaware that something dark and shadowy hovers around the pretty edges of the story but doesn’t really present itself until the end. It’s a very painterly film as well. Not just with the set design (how I love to see painted sets) but with the colours throughout the movie- vivid reds, pastel pinks and icy blues. And I can tell you, Moira Shearer’s fantastic hairstyle has already made an appearance in a painting that I’m working on. It felt so good to feel the tingle of inspiration again.
It’s clear that this holiday season will not be a joyous one for many people but I hope everyone finds a little room for escapism whether it be through spending time with family and friends, or simply reading a great book or watching a spectacular film. Cups of hot chocolate laced with brandy wouldn’t hurt either.
I know that several readers were very interested and concerned with my copyright infringement situation and so I thought I would give an update. As most of you can imagine the past few weeks have been bizarre. Most of my time has been spent talking with lawyers, talking with retailers and distributors, and talking with many people who have been reporting the copies of my work. There were actually six images of mine that were copied as you can see in the visual (my originals are on the left, knock offs on the right). And believe it or not, there are even knock offs of the original knock offs.
I have discovered the main source. They have come from a factory in China that specializes in reproducing artwork for mass distribution- much of which is hand painted which I won’t even comment on at this point. For a short while I was naively optimistic that I would be able to put an end to it as several emails were exchanged between myself and the factory producing the work, but that hope has pretty much faded. The fact is that these factories in China are under no obligation to respect the copyright ownership that our western laws protect- even though their actions place any retailer or distributor selling their products at risk.
And so what will happen next is what I’m trying to work through. I have been fortunate and much to my surprise, received a great deal of free legal help and I’ve learned more than what I ever thought I would need to know about intellectual property theft. Some people have asked why this isn’t a criminal investigation- myself included, and it likely can be turned into one if the copies continue to be made and continue to appear in the western market.
So why are they appearing in North American stores (not to mention UK/Europe and Australia) especially when everyone involved- from the manufacturer to the distributor to the retailer are actually liable. Why are they taking the risk? I would expect that the little independent shops are simply unaware of where the products are made and what lurks behind it all, but the bigger chain stores who know the manufacturers, for them it likely comes down to volume and profit. You simply can’t buy 300 large hand painted images for a $35 a pop in North America these days.
I was very grateful for all of the emails and helpful suggestions as well as legal advice. But I should mention that not everyone was sympathetic to my problem. These comments were not published on my blog. One person told me to drop it because it’s a part of the job. Just like how a police person could get shot on the job, I should expect to be copied. Which is true, but does that mean I shouldn’t investigate it and try to stop it? Another, much more disturbing and more personal sounding comment came through within a few hours of my first post about the infringement. This person told me to just ‘Let It Happen’ (a phrase that my husband and I have adopted as a sort of perverse mantra) and that I was just angry because someone else was making money off my art and I wasn’t- followed by a few other ugly remarks. Yes, well- of course I’m upset about that. It’s illegal. Also, I do sell reproductions of my work and license my images and it’s insane to think that I’m competing with cheaper versions of my own work. It’s damaging to my business and I’m a very small business- almost a micro business. However, we managed to find out that the comment was sent through a phony hotmail address, but was delivered from a mobile account that just happened to be registered in the same name as one of the directors heading up one of the companies that had been publishing and distributing the knock offs overseas.
And so as you can imagine, I can’t ‘drop it’. If I did, I would expect that the copies will simply multiply and more images will be stolen. I am still in the stage of locating the various retail establishments where these items are being sold. If you happen to spot one of them, please send me an email (anonymous if you wish) and a snapshot of the item in the store is very helpful too. My only real recourse is through the retail stores and distributors that are selling the items. If they stop buying them, the manufacturer will stop making them.
It’s that time of year again! I must say for a while there I wasn’t certain if we were actually going to have our sale this year but I figured why not let chaos reign. Of course, now that I have said that, it will probably be a very quiet event.
So here are the details: We are having a BLACKFRIDAY sale in the shop. It starts at 9am EST on Friday November 23 and will go through until Monday November 26 at 10pm EST. The prices that you will see in the shop are NOT our sale prices. In order to get the 20% discount off your order, you have to enter: BLACKFRIDAY at the checkout (in the little coupon code box) and the 20% will be deducted off your order.
PLEASE NOTE: The code is all one word and ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. I’m really not shouting here- just trying to be very clear. Last year there were a few issues with customers using the code correctly. Some would put BLACKFRIDAY in the comments box to me, some would send me a separate email with the code. Not sure what was exactly going on there. At one point I felt a little like a private club that had a secret password. So, remember it’s a coupon code that is applied at checkout. I would love to say that we will try and refund everyone who doesn’t use the code properly, but if this sale is anything like last year’s sale, there isn’t much time to check each order carefully for the code and so it’s best to use it at the checkout to guarantee the discount.
Part of the reason why we have this sale is to get a jump on Christmas. We are in Canada, and so this is the best time to order your prints so that they will arrive safely in time for Christmas. As of December 1st we recommend Christmas orders go out expedited rather than our usual small parcel air method which means an additional $9 of shipping slapped on top of the regular shipping cost for orders shipping to the USA. If you are overseas, well, I don’t want to say the price of shipping in time for the holidays….it might scare you.
It is now day three after my discovery that several of my images have been copied, mass produced and sold to various large retailers in North America and the UK. I’m still in a state of shock and I haven’t slept more than three hours since this nightmare began. I’ve been getting many emails from people reporting the various places where they have spotted these knock offs- some people even had assumed that I had created lower level versions of my own work to mass distribute. I even drove out to one of the stores today and purchased the knock off version of my ‘Dancers‘ painting with my own money and took a picture of myself with it as I don’t know what else to do.
So far we have had some cooperation from a couple of the retailers that were carrying the copies and they appear to have been unaware of what they were carrying. Product has been removed from their websites and stores and will be destroyed we have been assured. But the distribution of my images is much more widespread than I could have imagined and there are still no answers and no clear route as to how to handle it. The actual manufacturers of the product are in the Far East- likely China but we are not being told who exactly is behind it. I want to know and I feel I have a right to know who has been manufacturing my work and selling it to distributors and likely making a tidy profit off of it. It’s not me. I haven’t seen a penny and I likely will never get any compensation for this. If anything I will likely have to pay a lawyer at some point to try and get some answers.
I feel as if someone has broken into my home and stolen from me but I can’t call the police- can I? Who protects artists and writers whose intellectual property has been taken from them that don’t have the financial resources to investigate it? But most importantly, how can I stop it? For all I know these people are continuing to manufacture copies of my work and sell them to a whole new batch of retailers and the whole nightmare will continue on.
Just an update to the current copyright infringement issues that I am having. I am currently working with those involved in this issue to come to a resolution which will have to remain private. The infringement is widespread- spanning from the UK to North America so far and involve a number of my images. We are now working on locating the actual manufacturers of the knock offs of my work. One of the images that we are trying to gather information on is an image titled ‘Bridesmaids’ that is a knock off of my Christmas Belles painting. If anyone has any further information as to where they have spotted it, please contact me through my email.
I’m sleep deprived. Seriously seriously big time sleep deprived and the only thing that I can compare it to is the pain and exhaustion on Mia’s Farrow’s face as she carries Satan’s baby in her belly. It started at the beginning of the month when John came down with what I think was whooping cough. He was vaccinated for it when I forced him to go get a physical and strangely enough he became really sick two days later. Possibly it was a coincidence? He’ll never go back to the doctor that’s for certain Then, last week Finnegan decided to start waking up at 2am to throw up. This has persisted now for over a week and almost every night. He’s fine during the day- completely normal but at night he’s agitated and sick. We’re in the process right now of figuring out what the problem is- could be gastritis, could be something more serious, or could just be some freaky little psychological pattern he’s got himself into. Strangely enough the night that Hurricane Sandy blew through he slept the entire night- peacefully, in spite of the house shaking and tree branches pelting the windows. He’s so weird.
And so because of massive sleep deprivation I’m functioning at a solid 30%. I can walk, talk (with some slurring), blink and dress myself but that’s about it. Creativity doesn’t live here anymore. I hope it returns soon.
Now let this be a lesson to everyone: If you drink a glass or two of Chardonnay in the afternoon, you could end up like me. This was a dare on my husband’s part- okay, I asked him if he would dare me and so he said that he ‘dared me’ and before you could say ‘Ice Cream!’, I was elbowing some kids away from the plywood ice cream cone and crouching down to have my picture taken. Then he dared me to put it on my blog and that is exactly what I did. I respond to dares you see.
Oh, that’s also my real hand by the way just in case you weren’t quite certain.