Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I worked the Treasures of the Gypsy booth at the Houston Quilt Festival for four days. The next week painted like crazy to prepare two banners to be paw printed at a PetFest in Old Town Spring (north of Houston where I live). Then spent this past weekend at the PetFest getting people to stamp paw prints on them. I was surprised how many were willing to put their own dogs' paw prints on the things. Had to keep talking them, and sometimes their dogs, out of it. Told 'em we didn't want to get into the mess of washing the paint off their feet.

Really lucked out with the weather. It rained furiously Thursday and Friday, making the paint dry sooooo slowly. Sat and Sun were gorgeous! Monday it poured all cotton-pickin' day from dawn deep into the night! Nearly 3 inches!

But now I have posted my new dolls on Etsy. There are two Politico Truth Bottles - Obama and Hillary - and the two dolls I did for the Quilt Festival. I don't yet understand how to navigate through Etsy but you can find my shop by selecting Sellers in the first box and typing pepperhume (no space) in the search box.

More later about the Gypsy Frog and Mistress of the Owl.

Obama is great fun to caricature, I will do him again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old dolls

Now that the new administration is getting settled in at the White House, I've begun doing my caricature bottle dolls. The OB and Hillary first, of course. What a team!

I call my bottle dolls Truth Bottles. The idea is that the head shows the public face/persona that the person shows to the world. The truth of what they really are or think is revealed by what is inside the bottle.

I offer political figures in caricature to emphasize their public image. The new owner of the bottle has the option of putting things inside that represent what they think that personage really is thinking.

My first Truth Bottle was a plump balding guy with a serenely bland smile. The title was "Oh No, I'm Fine." His bottle, however, was filled "up to here" with cord and rope all tied up in knots. For political figures, I just do head and collar.

During the Bush admin, I did a six-pack of Dubya and his people. Much fun. One collector ended up with the whole group. For the Obama admin, I'm having to wait until we get acquainted with his people so I can get a sense of their public personalities. That's what caricature is all about. Stay tuned.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Tim and Jean

Last Sunday my brother celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary. Despite all the jokes about what a saint he married, we are all proud of their success. That includes two children grown and married who are throwing a bash tomorrow afternoon to honor their parents. It figures that they have requested canned goods for their church pantry in lieu of gifts.

I still want to do something a little extra to celebrate this landmark in time. I think embarrassing my brother on the international Internet should do the trick. I recently ran across this photo of him taken by our late father one night while Mom and I were gone to a movie. Dad was an amateur photographer and did all his own dark room work. So here's the baby brother who actually grew up into a responsible citizen. Go figure.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TADOA Gallery Show Opens

Sheesh! It's taken me a full week to announce the opening of our show at an honest-to-grandma art gallery... 43 art dolls by 17 artist members of TAODA - Texas Assoc. of Original Doll Artists. The gallery is in Somerville, about 60 miles NW of downtown Houston, near a popular lake in the touristy hill country. Ought to be lots of summer vacation traffic through there.

Since most art galleries are long on wall space and short on pedestals, we required at least two of the three entries allowed each artist to be wall-mounted dolls. We called the challenge "Out of the Box" but the gallery calls the show "Go Figure."

Nobody should be surprised at the variety of solutions to that challenge in the show, considering the range of styles of dollmakers in the group. The show as a whole is a seminar on what constitutes an art doll. Somebody asked me who juried the show. I was proud to say nobody did. Every doll entered was there, and every one of them deserved to be.

My pal Joyce Patterson took these photos of me with my dolls. They put Nimue in the window so you can see her from behind as well and her translucence really shows up. Don't worry, no direct sunlight, there's a deep awning over the sidewalk. Who'da thought deep red walls would actually enhance art rather than distract from it? Then add a black and white tiled floor set on the diagonal! The room is gorgeous empty!

We were thrilled that 8 members of Central Texas Art Doll Sculptors (CTADS) drove down from Austin to attend our opening. I expect we will have to go back to Somerville in a few months for the opening of a show of theirs. That's two Texas galleries we've sold on art dolls. Onward and upward!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Robert Genn's Twice Weekly Letter

The "letter" in the title is a sort of blog written by successful Canadian artist Robert Genn. I call it a sort of blog but you don't have to go to a blog site to read it, it comes to you twice a week as email. He has a team of helpers who collect quotes and pithy stuff and do the tech for him. But still, I don't know how the man gets all the painting and traveling done that he does and gets this letter thingie out twice a week as well!

While it is directed mainly to painters, there's always plenty there for artists of any stripe...and even non-artists. Like in the latest edition, there's a quote from Margaret Wente that needs to be posted at every school in the nation!

"People thought that kids who felt good about themselves would get higher grades. They don't. They only feel entitled to get them." Read that last sentence again!

Genn adds another quote: "Self-esteem," says cognitive psychologist Martin Seligman, "cannot be directly injected. It needs to result from doing well, from being warranted."


If you're interested in getting on Robert Genn's mailing list - FREE - go to the site www.painterskeys.com/ - you can read his letters and responses by members. It's cool.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just got back from the birthday party. PrisCilla made a hit with the nephew! Before he got her out of the gift bag, he grinned and asked me if this was the mother. I told him no, it was a little sister...it is much smaller than Ctrl Alt Delete! He pulled her out and started studying her to identify the parts I had used. Said he had just the spot to hang her in his office. Bet she gets there tomorrow. Score one for our side!

Now I gotta get another article up for associatedcontent.com. They published my Ten Tips for Arthritic Fingers this week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


My nephew supplied a dead PC case and parts for Ctrl Alt Delete, so I've whipped up a little sister for CAD to give to nephew for his birthday. Sshhh. Don't tell him, the party is tomorrow.

PrisCilla is 18" tall plus hair. She can hang on the wall or pose on his computer. She could also be rigged to become a marionette.

Okay, so her arms aren't the same length. She's a PC.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Here's my other wall doll for "Out of the Box" - This fellow is Thinkin' Outside the Box. I used to have him lounging in a shoebox lid. Now he hangs on the wall against a disk covered with working drawings. Yes, his body is a box. I love his feet.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My doll club has been trying to break into the art gallery world. We do one of a kind art dolls, which we really should call mixed media sculpture. One gallery loved our portfolio, but turned us down because they do wall-hung art and have no pedestals.

So we put together a portfolio of wall-hung dolls! We call the collection "Out of the Box." One of my entries is "Ctrl Alt Delete" for whom I've been collecting parts for some time. He is rigged to be converted into a marionette. Like so many of my dolls, he's hard to photograph. The large pin connector below his eyes is supposed to be his nose. His mouth is the wide green thing below that. His ears are little speakers, one round, one rectangular. His feet are mice. I need to get some closeups.

When I can find some black braided fishing line, I'm going to spring him from the case and rig him up as a marionette.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Am I the last person in the world to notice this or are my two cats weird? I just discovered that not only do they NOT like their fresh water cold, they like it decidedly WARM!

Monday, February 23, 2009

DCWORX.COM is up and running

Hubby-person/partner has been slaving away at getting the web site up for our Hand Print Banners project. It ain't quite art yet, still a little rough around the edges, but it's UP!!!

Hand Print Banners is something we've been doing for most of the new century. (Now, that's fun to say!) It's a bit of a small voice crying in the wilderness, but that's how great ideas usually start, and I think this is a great one. And it's all HIS idea, I'm just the charge artist on it. He is the most creative idea machine I've ever known. But he can't draw for beans! Which is just as well, otherwise what would he need me for?

Please visit www.dcworx.com and click on the Project button below the D of DCWORX to go to the Hand Print Banner section. Let me know what you think. Does it make sense? Do you see what we're trying to do? We will be adding more and fine-tuning - got a misnamed graphic missing and a stray thingie in the middle of the PUBLIC ART EVENTS section. Got a ton of pictures, but we have to be careful to avoid anyone being recognizable, especially kids.

Then, it's on to the other pages, like his RiverGlass and the ePub pages. Why have I only got three hands? I could get so much more done.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An artist friend once said, "What I want to do, for ME, has eluded me."

Boy, did that resonate for me! For 35 years, I did "art to order" by designing theatre costumes and scenery on assignment. People would ask what show I would really want to do and I had no idea! Still don’t.

It does get hard to hear your own drummer in the clammor of making a living. You have too long attended to outside influences to follow the advice, “Just let yourself go.” Yeah, sure. You're in the habit of ignoring what it is you love and what speaks to you. Of course, you know what you're supposed to do, but the question is really how to do it.

Many years ago Shelley Berman said something that rang a bell for me. I will have to paraphrase very roughly but the gist was that when he was caught dozing or staring into space, he would say he wasn't sleeping, he was creating. It's actually true for me.

I do my best thinking in that lovely place between being awake and sleep. In the dark, head under a pillow so there's no visual input available, I wander around in my mind. I sculpt, or draw, or paint in my head. Or I will "see" something already finished. If I go to sleep thinking about something, I can pick the thread right up when I awaken....which happens several times in the night for this old girl. I also prefer soaking in a tub to showering and have learned to doze into that place there. Especially if I have a few candles burning instead of any electric lights.

Music helps, too, but it must be something that I don't know the words to. Classical or jazz, or what they call on NPR music from the hearts of space - Philip Glass type stuff. It is essential to be in non-verbal mode.

I long ago learned that I dare not put pencil to paper until I can see an image fairly clear in my head, which I must close my eyes to see. If I start sketching too soon, what the pencil does seduces me and I lose the image in my head.

There's a strong element of right brain orientation here. When what you want is WAAAAAY off to the right, over several hills and across untold distance, that definitely calls for a Philip Glass soundtrack.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Take heart, everybody in northern climes above the equator, Spring IS on the way. Here in Houston, my azaleas, narcissis and redbud have all begun to bloom. And bindweed rules!

I'm working against the clock on a doll that has to be photographed on Saturday. The theme is "Out of the Box" so I'm doing Pandora. Due to the diaphanous nature of Greek costume, she has to be a full body sculpt - cold porcelain over papier mache over a wire armature. The more I work in c.p., the more I like it! This is a homemade air dry clay whose only fault is a tendency to crack as it dries because it shrinks. Not really much of a problem, tho, because it can be patched absolutely seamlessly with more clay after it dries. You just work it in stages. Modeling also can be built up in stages. And I can get such a nice smooth finish!

As I sculpt, I marvel at how differently we use our hands in different activities. I am irrevocably left-handed. I draw, paint, write, sew, wield a kitchen knife all with my left hand - although that last one distressed my grandmother so much she would leave the room.

However, I shoot and operate a mouse or trackball with my right. Both of these resulted from practical considerations. My left eye doesn't focus so Dad wisely pointed out that since it already felt unfamiliar in my hands, I should learn to shoot right-handed.

I remembered this when it got to be so much bother to switch the mouse back and forth on the computer I shared with the right-handed husband. Now I'm very skillful at computer drawing and stuff with the right hand, can't do a lick with the left.

Sculpting I do totally ambidextrously, often using both thumbs simultaneously to achieve the necessary symmetry.

I have come to realize that being left-handed in a right-handed world is no handicap at all, but an advantage. Ha!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This dumb new law commonly called CPSIA is a serious threat to all who make and sell handmade, one-of-a-kind, and other small operations of that sort. I have reprinted below the letter about it by the folks at ETSY. They invited everyone to participate in a BLOG-IN today and spread the word. So here 'tis.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/?p=1322

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123189645948879745.html

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Pepper here again. So, what to do? Another dollmaker says:

Everyone should contact their legislators and representatives through out the year. You can find your state and federal representatives and ways to contact them via: http://www.congress.org/

They need to know the thoughts of the people they represent, otherwise they have nothing to go on when voting, drawing up or creating new bills, and laws. Do not forget your local people either, that is where it all starts and stems from.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I recently did 7 acrylic paintings for a pediatric doctor's office. They were all scenes from fairy tales and rather large. Hansel and Gretl is 25x36" - the smallest one, Three Little Pigs, is 18x24".

I hand lettered a bit of text on each one to assure identification of the story. H&G is my favorite.

Before I got the job, I did one of the Pied Piper as a sample. They loved it, but considering what happens to children at the end, decided not to use it. Luckily, the doctors liked the handmade quality of my lettering. (I HATE lettering! Why do I do these things to myself?)

We did all love the little mice observing the scene from atop the stone wall, so I included the pair in every painting. I made them both violet in all the rest of the paintings. The doctors got a kick out of spotting them in each painting. I figured the kid patients would like that, too.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Greetings, Mortals.

Okay, here I am, joining the world of blogging. And as I tend to be both long-winded and philosophical, good luck! I warn you now, I will talk about art, art and more art. Fortunately, I have a rather broad definition of art so maybe I won't dig too narrow a rut.

But maybe you want to know who I am. Or not, in which case goodbye.

Still here? Hello!

I am an artist. This should make everything else about me make sense. I wish it did. I deal in pictures and words. Do not trust me with numbers. I think pictorially, in three, sometimes four, dimensions. I have had to learn to use words to interpret myself. In this sense I have been preparing to write all my life.

Although I consider myself an Oklahoman, I will admit to being born in Independence, the same town in southeast Kansas as the great playwright, William Inge. I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and Coffeyville, Kansas, both near the state line. With its short and glamorous Indian Territory history, I find greater cachet in saying I'm from Oklahoma.

I fell in love with books at a very early age. Someone loaned me a series of children’s books called Book Trails. I can still see several of the wonderful illustrations quite vividly in my mind. I believe the influence of those books made me the artist I became. Thanks to ebay, I now own a full set in the very same edition I cherished as a child.

While still in high school I discovered theatre. After seeing a play in the local community theatre, I won a role in the next one. During rehearsals I found myself fascinated by the development of the scenery. I apprenticed myself to the set designer on the next play and knew that this was where I belonged. Some artists work in clay, some in oil paint - theatre design was obviously the medium for me. I earned a BFA in Theatre Design from the University of Kansas and - 21 years later - an MFA in Scenery Design from the University of Oklahoma. I was a costume designer for most of those intervening years in Chicago. I have designed costumes and/or scenery professionally for hundreds of plays in Chicago, New York, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, Maine, Rhode Island... Along the way, I was an assistant professor and taught costuming and makeup at several universities.

Once retired from theatre, I took up art doll making and writing, mostly short stories and essays, some of which have been published. I found my fellow writers in the Woodlands Writers Guild (The Woodlands, Texas) not only lacked my knowledge of historical clothing, few knew how to find it. Having long been aware that costume histories were notoriously sparse on twentieth century clothing, I now realized such books were equally short to nonexistent on verbal description. My critique group challenged me to do something about it. I am currently shopping for a publisher for the result, Dressing America in the 20th Century.

Reading continues to be my addictive hobby. Otherwise, I’ve been supremely lucky to get paid to do things other people do as hobbies. Thanks to a music teacher uncle I am also addicted to classical music. I adore the verbal/conversational dynamics of music. Some day I shall write a story that exactly matches the dynamics of Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand.