It’s Showtime!

It’s that time of year again… Last week’s Covered Bridge Festival was the official kick-off of my 2018 show season. My fall schedule is already packed, including two shows coming up in the next week.

First up – this weekend I’ll be at the Mt. Lebanon Artists’ Market, a wonderful upscale arts festival, on Saturday and Sunday, September 22nd and 23rd. The Artists’ Market takes place in the Mt. Lebanon Business District at Washington Rd. and Academy Ave. I may even bring an original or two for sale!

Then on Thursday night (September 27th) from 7 to 9 pm, I will be part of Perfect Palette, a very special charity art show at Houlihan’s in the Galleria.

I’ll be joining nine other Pittsburgh artists (including Bob Hayes, Vince Ornato, Maria DeSimone Prascak, and more!) for a meet and greet with our artwork available for purchase. It’s all for a good cause – the event will benefit the O’Backpack Children’s Foundation, an organization that helps abused and neglected children in Allegheny and surrounding counties.

Complementary light snacks will be provided, with glasses of white wine available for $5. Call (412) 379-4811 to reserve your spot.

There are many more places where you can find me this fall! Keep an eye out for each week’s email, where I’ll announce the shows as they get closer.

Every year I work hard to finish with new paintings and giftware that will be fun and collectible for my customers, and this year is no exception. I am finishing up these new pieces, and they’ll start showing up at the booth this fall… along with many pieces in my inventory you may not have seen yet!

Don’t forget – when you see me at shows, I’ll be delighted to personally sign each piece for you. On some of the gifts, I can even dedicate it to the recipient!

This time of year is truly my favorite because I can escape from my studio for a little while and hang out with all of you. I hope this year I can help you check off some important gifts from your Holiday List… one person at a time!

One last thing…

I’m planning a new, unique event – a kind of event I’ve never done before – for the weekend of October 26th through 28th. It will take place right here in my home studio! More details to come… 

In the meantime, will I see you this week? I sure hope so!

P.S. – “Dear Santa” is now available for sale on my website!

“Dear Santa”

I have a title!!!! After much thought and collaboration with Tom and close friends, I settled on something short and sweet, but one that says it all – “Dear Santa.” Tom also proposed the subtitle “Letters from a Child’s Heart,” but we decided to keep it simple.

As I promised last week, I want to show you some of the things I’ve included in the painting that have a special meaning or symbolism for me.

As I was designing the painting, my first thoughts were that I wanted a living-room setting. Santa liked the idea of looking directly at the viewer while holding a glass of milk. (Personally, I think he just wanted to drink the milk and eat the cookies. Why not? He’s Santa!) I started out picturing him holding his leather-bound “Naughty and Nice” Book, but I changed my mind. I had been wanting to incorporate something related to artwork and letters from children, so I decided to exchange the Naughty and Nice Book for a bag full of letters written by children from around the world.

I loved the idea of including a kitten in the painting. At first I thought it would be fun to have the kitty climbing down from the top of the chair to read over Santa’s shoulder. Instead, I decided to highlight one of the letters Santa received from a little girl and to share it with you, so I put the kitty up front with the letter in plain sight. I named the kitty “Noel” because my favorite childhood decoration was a set of shiny ceramic letters that spelled out NOEL.

I also decided to paint a fire in the fireplace so there would be a soft glow of light reflecting off different elements in the room. It was easy to paint the mantel and the fireplace –  they’re still decorated from last Christmas!

As you know, I always make sure my family is represented in my paintings. My father’s Santa ornament is making its fifth appearance on the Christmas tree in the “Jolly Old Elf” series, and the pink doll in the painting once belonged to my mom.

Tom and I also visited his childhood home and climbed the stairs to the attic to bring home his old fire truck and aeroplane, as well as his father’s childhood train to include in the painting. If you look closely at the train, you may notice the characters 4-AAA under the window. This is a secret message – “For Aria, Abigail and Autumn” – dedicating the painting to my granddaughters.

You may also notice that the letter was signed by Aria herself. It wasn’t easy to get her signature – after all, she just turned 2.  She really is just as sweet as that letter, if I may say so myself!

Finally, the doggie pull toy was donated by one of my readers. I love when my supporters get involved in my work, and it means the world to me.

As you can see, I put a lot of personal symbols into “Dear Santa,” and it’s a very meaningful painting for me. I hope you will enjoy it as well.

By the time you’re reading this, “Dear Santa” should be available on my website under Prints for Sale at 

You can also see it in person this weekend at the Washington County Covered Bridge Festival. I will be there Saturday and Sunday. Just cross the Ebenezer Bridge and make a right. I will be along the walking path. I hope to see you there!

A Chill in the Air?

Is it cold in here, or is it just me?

Even with all the 90-degree days this week, I’m feeling a chill in the air… maybe it’s just wishful thinking.
Or maybe it’s because my mind has been on the North Pole lately as I put the finishing touches on my latest Santa painting.

Try to picture the scene…

After a busy afternoon making toys in his workshop at the North Pole, Santa takes a well-deserved break. This is his favorite time of day, and he settles into his favorite chair by the glowing fire and enjoys a late afternoon snack of milk and Christmas cookies that Mrs. Claus has thoughtfully already put out for him.

Next to his chair is an overflowing bag full of letters mailed to him from young boys and girls from every country around the world. While Santa kicks back and reads a few letters, his kitty, Noel, is happy to share some time with him. She enjoys helping him with his work, and she knows that if she does a good job, there will be some milk left over for her!

What Noel will soon bring to Santa’s attention is the selfless letter from a little girl named Aria from Pittsburgh, PA, who writes:

“Dear Santa, I hope that all the people in the world find someone special to be with this Merry Christmas. Love, Aria”

For me, it’s sentiments like these that make the Christmas season so magical.

I’m still not finished with the painting and it doesn’t even have a title yet… but I am getting there! I’m putting on the final touches, and soon it will be available in plenty of time for the holiday season. If you would like to own a print of this finished piece, please contact me, and I’ll put you on the waiting list.

(Sometimes my paintings start with a title and develop from there, while some of them don’t have a title until I’m finished with them. I wonder why?)

This latest Santa painting says so much about me – sometimes I think maybe even too much! I’ll tell you more details about the painting in the next few weeks.

P.S. – You can see my upcoming shows on my calendar at The Ebenezer Covered Bridge Festival and Mt. Lebanon Artists’ Market are the first out of the gate this month – I hope to see you there!

Is There an Artist Gene?

Aria turned 2 years old this week! We celebrated by taking her back to one of her favorite places – the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. It’s one of the best indoor educational playgrounds I know.

Not surprisingly, her favorite part is the area with the easels and paints. (Obviously the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree!) It was very entertaining to watch her at work. She threw her whole self into it… including painting her hands and her face with all of the colors!  If there is such a thing, it looks like Aria has inherited the Artist Gene from Grandma!

While I’ve been hard at work on my new Santa painting, I’m reminded that the holidays will be upon us before we know it. Summer is almost at an end, and the Fall art show season is just around the corner.

The Night Markets in Market Square have been a good warm-up to get me in the groove for the fall season, and I’m getting a feel for what to expect with the upcoming shows.

My first big show this fall will be in mid-September at the Washington County Covered Bridge Festival. I will be at the Ebenezer Bridge on Saturday and Sunday, September 15th and 16th.

There’s a convenient and easy way to check out where you can find me this fall – Just visit the calendar on my website. Simply click on any date where you see activity, and you’ll see the details for any of my shows or events on that day.

I’m looking forward to a really busy festival season this year! I’m especially excited about seeing old friends, making new ones, and helping you pick out the perfect gifts for your friends and family.

Have a great week!

PS – I love this picture of the twins holding hands and wanted to share it with you. Speaking of genetics… you can’t see it here, but it looks like Abigail may keep her blue eyes, while Autumn will have brown eyes like her big sister Aria.

Stepping Out at the Night Market

It’s been quite a busy and eventful week with some really great moments. First of all, I want to send out a big “Thank You” to everyone who visited my booth at last Saturday’s Night Market in Market Square.

If you haven’t yet visited the Night Market, you don’t know what you’re missing!

For me, after a long summer of being wrapped up in family matters, I was happy to be out in public again, meeting people and talking about art.

It felt wonderful to finally be stepping out… but I wasn’t the only one! The twins made their first public appearance at the Night Market on Saturday, which was a fun surprise for Tom and me. Santa (perhaps traveling incognito on a pre-holiday scouting mission?) also surprised us with a pre-season visit! We were really excited to get our first photo of the season with him.

This Saturday, August 25th, I’ll be back again at the Night Market in Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh, from 5 to 10 pm. I hope to have some exciting new gift items to show you that I’m introducing for the 2018 Holiday Season. I will also have progress photos of the new Santa painting to show any of you who stop by my booth. All you have to do is ask!

As summer heads into the home stretch, I hope you have a chance to get out and enjoy it… and perhaps come and see me at one of my shows.

For those of you who live outside the Pittsburgh area, I really enjoy your emails. I hope one day I have the opportunity to meet you! If you happen to find yourself visiting Pittsburgh, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Perhaps we can even find a way to meet in person.

Have a wonderful week, and may our paths cross someday soon!

Back in the Saddle Again!

Finally (with plenty of encouragement from friends and family), I’m painting again!

As you can see, I have been working on Santa’s hands – one holds a glass of milk, while the other holds letters from children all over the world. I feel as if these hands tell the whole story of the developing painting.

I wanted to show you these small sections of the painting so you can see the great detail that goes into it.

As you may already know, the medium I work in is soft pastel chalks. Everything I paint is in chalk. It’s not like the blackboard chalk you might be thinking of – pastel chalks have the same pigment as oil paints but with a dry binder instead of oil. This is why my pastels look like oil paintings!

Each hand took me over three hours to paint. I may be a slow painter, but I believe this makes sure the finished product is the best it can be. As I get closer to the finish line, I’ll go back over each part of it and add more detail as I orchestrate all the elements of the final painting.

So far I don’t have a title for it, but ideas are coming to me as I paint. Any thoughts?

I also wanted to let you know I’ll be introducing some new gift ideas for the Fall and Holiday Season. They’re not on my website yet, but you can be one of the first to see them if you visit me at the Night Market in Market Square. I’ll be there tomorrow (August 18th) and next Saturday (August 25th) from 5 to 10 pm. Stop by and see what’s new for the holidays!

One last thing… what kind of Grandma would I be if I didn’t share a Twins’ update with you this week? They do a lot of sleeping, and sometimes it feels like I hardly ever get a chance to see them with their eyes open! But they’re growing and making lots of progress, and they’ve been pretty easy on their mom so far. Big sister Aria loves hugging them and blessing them with a kiss.

Have a great week… and don’t forget to come see me at the Night Market!

Homecoming Day!

The twins are home!!!

Life is finally starting to settle down a bit since the girls came home on Tuesday. They still seem so tiny, but they’re steadily gaining weight. Autumn is almost 6 pounds now, and Abigail is not far behind her.

Here are two of my favorite pictures from Homecoming Day… Abigail in the car seat looking like she’s waving and Autumn just looking beautiful. (You’ll have to forgive me for being a proud grandma!)

Today Tom and I took Aria to her new favorite place, The Children’s Museum! Here she is, showing Bop Bop the finer points of road construction…

Last week, I put it out there that I was behind on my work and worried about the twins. I was overwhelmed with your responses, and I’ll admit some of them even brought me to tears. Your kindness is much appreciated. Your thoughts, prayers, and love in the last month have helped us more than you can imagine, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now that the twins are home, things are starting to settle down as we get used to the “new normal,” but it is still a big adjustment. Though I’m back to working on my new Santa, I still haven’t been able to devote full time to painting. Maybe next week I can get more focused!

We’re currently in the Dog Days of summer, but of course I’m looking ahead to my lineup of shows in the coming fall season. My calendar is definitely shaping up as I receive my acceptance letters in the mail. I’m also getting my new products in and photographed for my website – you’ll be able to see them there sometime in the next few weeks. I believe it is going to be an exceptional year (maybe because I’m so darn happy?).

I look forward to seeing all of you and helping you in your gift decision-making. Please let me know if you have any special occasions coming up where I can be of assistance… and remember, it’s not too early to start shopping for the holidays!

Have a great week! And again, thank you!

Your Painter of Memories

“Your Painter of Memories” has been my tag line for as long as I can remember.

Way back when I was just getting started as an artist, it was all about how I could help preserve your memories by creating a portrait of your special someone. Then as I started painting Pittsburgh landmarks like Kaufmann’s clock and Kennywood Park, it began to describe sharing memories of happy times spent with family and friends.

Now my “Jolly Old Elf” series of Santa paintings evokes a different set of cherished memories of the holiday season with imagination and warm nostalgic feelings of childhood wonder.

Obviously, painting is my passion, but sometimes circumstances require putting it on the back burner.

At least my new painting of Santa’s Snowy Friends is off to a wonderful start. I’m so glad I got it done before this crazy (yet wonderful) turn of events.

For the last few weeks, it’s been impossible to just sit down in my quiet studio and paint. Alyssa’s twins, Abigail and Autumn, have entered our lives six weeks early, and big sister Aria has needed a lot of grandparent time. Painting, unfortunately, has been at the bottom of the to-do list these days.

Completing the sketch for this year’s big Jolly Old Elf painting has stretched out into a few weeks instead of the few days that it usually takes.

Progress has been slow, trying to schedule creative time between hospital visits, caring for Aria, and helping out as much as we can. I’ve also been trying to fit in a little time here and there to hang out with my husband on our “Porchville” vacation (Pittsburghese for a vacation where you stay home and do chores).

Oh well… as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

Here’s what I have so far – I really hope you like it!

I recently transferred the sketch to museum-quality art board, and I’ve started to add a little color so I can get a feel for it. It’s a little hard to see the detail in the sketch, but I would love to know what you think of it. I don’t have a title yet, and the design is still changing and evolving. The actual painting part will be on hold until I’m satisfied with it.

I’ve had this subject in mind ever since I first imagined the Jolly Old Elf series, and I’m really excited to be bringing it to life at last.

In this painting, Santa is at his North Pole headquarters, sitting by a glowing fireplace with a snack of milk and cookies while he reads his latest fan mail. His favorite tree is decorated, illuminating the room with a soft glow of its own. Christmas Eve is just a few months away, so the room is filling up with gifts for all the boys and girls. With his beloved kitty at his feet, he reads a letter from a very special little girl.

It says:

Dear Santa,
I hope that all
of the people in
the world find
someone special
to be with this Merry

I hope to have it ready before the fall show season. Wish me luck!

Enjoy your week…

Twice as Nice – Welcome, Autumn and Abigail!

As you know, Tom and I have been eagerly awaiting the birth of our twin granddaughters, originally expected sometime in August.

However, as time passed, our daughter developed more and more complications in her pregnancy. Alyssa was admitted to the hospital, and for the last week and a half, we’ve been in crisis mode as we prayed for our daughter’s life and the lives of her twins. The situation changed minute by minute, with the actions being taken based on the precarious state of her health and the babies’ well-being.

Finally, the decision was made to deliver the babies at 34 weeks and 2 days because the stress level was so high, and Alyssa was encountering more and more setbacks. At that point, the risks of prematurity for the babies were outweighed by the threat to Alyssa’s health.

So with blessings from above, our daughter gave birth to beautiful twin girls on Monday night. (Things have been so topsy-turvy that I’ve lost track of time and had to think a moment about when it happened!) Even though the girls are fraternal twins, I believe as of right now that they really look alike! What are your thoughts?

Big Sister Aria with Mommy

The upside to spending the last couple of weeks hanging around in hospitals is that I’ve had plenty of time to think about some new gift items I will be introducing for the coming holiday season. I don’t have photos of them yet, but there will be a new tray set, a bookmark, and several new ornaments.

Because these are all handmade, they will take about a month to be ready, and there will be a limit on what I can reorder for the holidays. Just a heads-up because once they’re released, if you like them, you may want to order early for the gift-giving season. (This is true for all the full color metal pieces.)

You’ll find them all under Collectibles at

Have a great week, and may your blessings be as great as mine.

We Have a Winner!

Well, I’m back from vacation, and what a vacation it was!

We avoided the touristy parts – no Zoo, no Sea World – and other than splurging on a few movies and restaurants, Tom and I did just about every free thing there was to do in San Diego. Much of our time was spent just enjoying the ocean, the boardwalk, and the bay.

We walked, we talked, we people-watched, and we especially loved watching the seals and sea lions! Balboa Park (shown in the photo above) was our favorite place to hang out. The part I liked best was listening to talented musicians play a huge pipe organ in an amphitheater right off the square.

What we discovered about San Diego is that the folks who live there are an eclectic bunch who really enjoy life and expressing themselves. Whether they were walking their dogs along the beach (it seems like everyone in San Diego has a dog!), riding bikes or scooters, or walking on tightropes between two trees, every person we met was happy to stop and talk.

We have a winner!

Now for the big announcement you’ve been waiting for…What did I paint in the snow globe that Santa is lovingly holding in his hands?

(Drum roll, please…)

The correct answer is:  A Snowman
(actually, a snowman family)

…And the winner of the contest is Sandy Wilkins!

(Believe it or not, Sandy was the only one who correctly guessed the answer! I’ll be contacting her later today to arrange delivery of her print.)

I had an amazing number of responses, and I’m sorry I couldn’t answer every one. There were so many great ideas that maybe next time I’ll ask what should I paint instead of what did I paint!

I dropped a clue in one of my earlier emails that the snow globe contains something I had never painted before.  Over the last several years in the Market Square Holiday Chalet, I’ve met quite a few people who are snowman fans and collectors who asked if I would consider putting a snowman in one of my Santa paintings.

When I began planning this year’s Jolly Old Elf series, the very first thing I thought of was how I could include a snowman in one of them. I knew I wanted it to be more than just your average snowman, and I wanted it to be fun and friendly.

I decided to paint a snowman family to represent the special connection between Santa and our families as well as the bond shared between family members, especially in the holiday season.

At Christmas time, snowmen have been known to come alive, and Santa is part of the magic that makes it happen. The true miracle of snowpeople is not a magic hat that makes them come to life, but families and friends working together in harmony to create the snow masterpieces for all to enjoy!  It is the love put into these snow creations that brings them to life in our dreams at Christmas and in childhood memories for years to come…

So before the rest of the world sees it, here’s Santa’s Snowy Friends:

Thank you all for your participation in this contest. It was so much fun to read all your ideas!

The prints are already available on my website under Prints for Sale, “Jolly Old Elf” series. Click here to check it out! 

Have a great week and a great Fourth of July!