Thursday, April 21, 2022

Blaire's Brother is getting married. An Upcycle for Remembrance.

It might have been after my buddy Melissa sang my praises on social media but I was contacted by someone who wanted to do something special to remember her father.
Blaire's brother was getting married and Blaire wanted him to have a memento of their late father on his wedding day. So she sent me some of her father's ties and we concocted a plan!
After picking them apart I came up with a pattern that I like that I thought would work will together.
Stitched them up...
And came up with a pocket square for him to walk down the aisle with!
Proper in the front-
A little wacky on the back!
Then I googled "how to fold a pocket square!
Here are three of my favorite ways to fold it!

 Thank you Blaire for trusting me with your family heirlooms.

May your dad's memory always be a blessing.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Returning To The Lakes

It is quite a compliment when someone you know personally commissions work from you.
I am tickled I will get to visit this painting this weekend while on a journey north. 
Thought you might like to see some of the process shots for this piece.
This is one of two pieces I did for a couple's home in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
She wanted it to be reminiscent of the lakes around their home without looking like 
"stereotypical beach art". 
(Note: this photo is at my house, before delivery.)

I love using vintage ephemera in my work. This Rachel Carson book was a great candidate. 
This thrift shop treasure had a broken back and soiled pages so I didn't feel the least bit guilty about cutting it into pieces!

Carson's prose is lovely, as are the pen & ink style drawing used to illustrate sea and shore life. 
I selected pages and passaged that pertained to the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware watershed and set them aside.

While you don't need Art to Match Your Couch, it IS nice to have coordinating hues in a room if you are looking to continue the calm d├ęcor and feel of the existing space. 
One way to do that is to take all the colors in the room and use them in the background of a piece. 
My intention was that they should peek through the finished piece and speak to the other elements in the room.
This can sound easier than it actually is. 
The photo above is three and four layers deep!

I then thought about how to add the paper. 
I settled on shapes that echoed the leaves of the neighborhood tree lined lakes. 
Others have mentioned they see schools of fish or wave patterns in this step. 
I love how art is open to multiple interpretations!

Many layers of paint and glazes later I blocked in houses in the neighborhood. 
This added a small jolt of familiarity to the abstract and provided a smile to the homeowners because they know exactly what part of the lake this represents.

Here is the finished piece. 
Outwardly simple but full of layers, effort, depth, and meaning.
I feel it is symbolic of our relationship with our "happy places" in this world 
and how we need to be good stewards of them.
I would like to think Rachel Carson would approve.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Guess who is coming to visit?

It has been such a blessing to have friends and family vaccinated, and feeling good enough to travel!

 My family and I just invested in some new beds for the extra bedrooms. (The recently graduated kid is wondering why we did not upgrade until he left with a bed but is enjoying the new accomodations.)
There are a few things you can do to make your guest room comfortable for your long awaited guests.
We have a sign in our guest room with the wifi password and a reminder where the extra blankets, towels and toiletries are.
While I confess one of the dressers is full of household misc., the other dresser is completely empty so our guests can unpack and not live out of a suitcase. 
We also have a comfy chair, a lamp and a small table in case someone needs an impromptu office set up.
Something that is somewhat unique to our house is a step to hop up into this extra tall country pine bed!
We have layered linens, added extension cords for chargers, sorted blinds to block out the sun, found a luggage rack, upgraded our overhead fan, fluffed both feather & foam pillows, stacked up a plethora of reading materials and are grateful for renovated bathroom. 

I will confess some of these additions came about when one of us had to sleep in the guest room post surgery and realized what was lacking.

So if you wonder if your guest room is good enough for your sainted mother in law or your particular friend, try spending the weekend in the room yourself. 

Then you will be sure your house feels like a home and your guests will feel like family.

Friday, October 8, 2021

It's that time of year again! Pet Portraits for the Holidays

What do you buy for the person who has everything, including an awesome pet relationship?
A pet portrait of course!

Enjoy these examples. You can find out all of the details to order by clicking this link.

 For more examples and how to order, click here! Be in touch with any questions!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Time, ten states, and thinking about the future.

This past week was the six month anniversary of my father passing away. 

Like so many others that have lost loved ones during this pandemic (though mercifully not from covid in our case) milestones, anniversaries, memorials, and celebrations all seem to be changed forever.

This clashing really came home to me this week as my husband Bob and I returned from a mask and sanitizer laden car trip to New England and back that we dubbed the #stifelandcapratenstatesojourn .

In the ten short days (that felt like ten years because I don't leave the house much during covid as I am a chubby asthmatic with a heart issue) we saw loved ones and laughed and talked and ate and ate and ate.

We also heard of babies being born, covid infections, confirmations of wedding dates that have been postponed multiple times, covid hospitalizations,  retirements, new homes, cancer diagnoses, new jobs and covid deaths. All in a week. Talk about the proverbial circle of life.

One of the things I miss most about closing our retail store is the seemingly mundane interations of hearing about peoples daily lives. As Stifel & Capra was a "go-to" store when people were buying a gift they would inevitable tell us about the occasion they were celebrating. It was always so good to share my clients' joys and sorrows.

Talking about this with a writer friend who is starting a coaching career made me think how I miss these interactions. Without a monthly schedule of events to write about I had let both my newsletter and my ever so sporatic blog posts drop. Then when the pandemic hit I felt trivial. 

No one needed my goods when they were battling for their lives.  No one needed my sunset photos when the sun rises and sets on all of us.

I did not take into consideration that I have never sold what was considered essential to living, only things that are essential to me for a Good Life. 

Talking with Coach Michelle made me remember how much I enjoyed interacting and sharing with people about their lives and what I was up to as a creative. I needed to find a way to get back to that interaction. Social media can be grand but it is not always personal.

Normally at this point I would talk about turning over a new leaf but if you have read this blog at all you know I have attempted to do that in the past on a regular basis. Sharing goals make you accountable after all, right?

I have realized that for me the opposite is true. 

Whether it is self sabotage or something even weirder that "public goal thing" does not work for me. So I will begin again and see whether you can detect a pattern. 

Let me know if and when you spot it. 

Thanks for reading,

Wishing you health and happiness,


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"Close to Nature's Heart" - a celebration of mountains CALL TO ART

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, 
once in awhile and climb a mountain 
or spend a week in the woods. 
Wash your spirit clean." 

This quote by John Muir sings to us as we sit in quarantine from the Corona virus. Some areas have started to open up, other to shelter again.  We want to remind people of the joy and serenity of the mountains in this difficult time.

The Morgan Arts Council
The Ice House in Berkeley Springs WV is hosting 
"Close to Nature's Heart"
a celebration of mountains

September 18th to November 8, 2020

This show will exhibit the beauty, calm, joy and majesty of the mountains. 
All 2D and 3D art will be considered.  
The gallery is family friendly so keep it G or PG rated please.
The Ice House is in charming tourist town so think about pieces that can fit in someone's suitcase or be mailed.

Eligibility You must be 18 years of age to enter. There is no fee to enter.

Sales and Commissions  The Morgan Arts Council Ice House Gallery will retain a 30% (20% for Co-op members) commission on any works sold during the show. Credit card purchases require an additional 3.5% fee. Checks will be issued to individual artists within two weeks of the closing of the show.

Juror  Theresa Wells Stifel of Stifel and Capra is the curator for this event

Calendar Timeline
Work must be submitted online between July 8th and August 10th.
Entries submitted by July 15th will be considered for print promotional materials.
Final notifications sent out August 15
Artwork must be mailed or shipped by September 8th.

Show participants are advised bin pieces and cards are a possibility. Please advise of you have appropriate pieces.

For consideration, please send an email with
Your name, phone number, titles,sizes and prices of works along with
3 images with title and artist name in an unzipped jpeg file (example Naturesheart.TheresaStifel.jpeg)


Friday, June 12, 2020

The Bubble Conundrum - I Can't Breathe

I often feel like I live in a bubble. 
Self employed, working alone, still feeling new to the area. 
A feeling exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
I appreciate that self quarantining is a privilege.  
As a survivor of multiple viral pneumonia bouts, I have known the inability to traverse a room because I couldn't get enough oxygen in my lungs to propel me to walk.
So I have a healthy respect, nay fear, of contracting the virus. 
So I stay home. Stay in my bubble. 
I want to breathe.
These bubbles were painted on top of a covered up failed painting. In frustration I added "I can't breathe".

Adding "I can't breathe" again obscured the original message but did not stand out.
I am ridiculed by some for staying put most days.
My mental response is "you do you, but don't come visit me please".
Recognizing that people you care about don't respect your beliefs is a conundrum. Upon further reflection though I realize it not so much I need a shared belief system with my loved ones. 
After all, I have friends that don't share my religious beliefs, or parenting methods, or dietary regimes and that is of little consequence to me. 
I have realized what is important to me is that good, old fashioned word, morals.
Morals defined as not society's ethics, but that internal conviction of right and wrong.
In the past, I have tried to express myself without offending others. 
Don't rock the boat. Be nice. Keep the peace. 
That bubble has burst as I watch the world shatter.
Writing "I can't breathe" in loud red paint however is instantly legible and obscures further what is underneath.
"I can't breathe." George Floyd cried as his breath was stolen from him. The nation watched, stunned.
Most are horrified. Others can't seem to understand the collective outrage. I watch the commentary. So divisive. So US vs. THEM. So hateful. 

"There is no corona virus because I don't know anyone personally who is sick." 
"There is no racism because I am not mean to people that don't look like me." 
It's all a hoax or a scam or a plot or a conspiracy so they proffer.  
Everyone seemingly in their own bubble. 
I don't understand.  What is the thought process of people so willing to ignore others truths because it doesn't fit in with their experience? Why do I care if I offend them?

Covering the messages with bubbles obscures the words.
My sister said to me yesterday "Just because I need to lose a few pounds doesn't mean there is no need for food banks".  Being over six feet tall means I myself can't walk into the average mall in America and buy a pair of pants or shoes that fit. Does that mean I don't exist?  
Silly examples but they follow the same logic. 
Such fragile reasoning. 
Fragile as a bubble.
Staying in your bubble keeps you from being exposed to The Other.
I sit here and worry about friends stricken by the corona virus. 
I sit here and fret about sick friends I can't visit, relatives I haven't seen since lock down began. Graduations and wedding postponed, life on hold. I worry most about my children 
and the world I have brought them into. 
A world where a man can't go for a jog without being shot.
I sit here with my own truths and my lack of knowledge about the causes of such hate and systemic oppression in the world. It's overwhelming. 
I find this hard to do alone. I tend to find truth in relationships. 
Whether friend, colleague, neighbor, or relative all relationships take time and community. 
I am deprived of this community right now. 
The occasional Zoom call, while helpful, is not replacing old relationships and it is certainly not helping find new ones to help me get out of my bubble of ignorance.
I pray for this pandemic to end.
I pray for this hate to end.
Popping these bubbles expose you to others experiences.
So I read.
 I listen.
 I reach out. 
 For George.
 For those suffering injustice. 
I try to understand.
I try to breathe.

"The Bubble Conundrum" 36x48 by Theresa Wells Stifel
I am finding Rachel Cargle's Do The Work Course a helpful place to begin to learn to see with new eyes. Especially Day 4. Taking Implicit Bias surveys from Harvard were eye opening.

If you have a favorite read, let me know. 
Thanks for reading these words.