As a writer and artist, symbols are my daily companions. Symbols are powerful. New Year’s Eve is a special sort of time, when even those who may not look for symbols do so almost unconsciously. A new year is a new beginning. Whether we will it or not, at this place on the calendar change IS upon us. And so the power of the New Year’s resolution: we pause to reflect, to think ahead, to assess. What has been. What is to be. What shape we hope the coming year to take. Resolutions are wishes that we make upon ourselves. Whether we keep them or no. There is power here at the cusp of the year. So I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing, even more so than usual, and looking for a special symbol. A word can be a symbol. Words are my tools. I’m reaching for one of those.

Once upon a time (March 1850, actually) the sailing barque Ptarmigan was renamed HMS Resolute.  Its refitting included extra-strong timbers and a polar bear figurehead. (Note to self: what happened to this figurehead?)  This ship was one of those sent out as a relief vessel to find and succor the lost Franklin Expedition. Or at the very least, to discover what had happened to these men.

The Resolute was eventually trapped in ice. After a long winter, the ship was prepared as best as the crew were able, and then abandoned in her icy bed. Two years later, the ship was discovered, adrift, by an American captain. The Resolute was purchased by the US Congress, restored, and returned to England as a gift of goodwill. (It was also hoped by some that it would be used to search again for Franklin and his men, but this never happened … too much evidence existed that the men had perished.)

The Resolute served as part of the Royal Navy in local waters until being retired and broken up in 1879. Fans of Nic Cage (one of whom is resident in my house) know well what happened next to some of this wood: Queen Victoria had at least three desks made from the remains. One she gave as a gift to U. S. President Hayes, “as a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the RESOLUTE a gesture of international solidarity.”

This desk has been used by most of the U.S. presidents since, either in the Oval Office or a different study.

Symbols are powerful. This desk is, note above, a recognition of the courtesy and loving kindness of the United States. As a country, as a people, as individuals: we are flawed. But we can, and have, manifested courtesy and kindness.

Rather than making resolutions this year, I am adopting a word: RESOLUTE.

Oxford Dictionaries definition for RESOLUTE:   admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.

HMS Resolute did not succeed in its primary mission. But along the way, its crew rescued and provided shelter for another ship’s crew who had been stranded and on short rations for over a year. Abandoned itself, the Resolute remained upright and largely intact until it worked free, and then was recovered, claimed, and cared for. It made its way home, where it continued to serve; after its useful lifetime it remains still as testament to cooperation and kindness. There is much that is dark in our history as a nation, but this too is our legacy: generosity, outreach, compassion.

Each of us are facing any number of challenges this year. I don’t know yours, but I can see some of what lies ahead for us as a nation. And I most definitely see some of what awaits me personally in 2017. Some of it is going to be amazing. Some of it is going to be excruciatingly painful, because life has its path and its pattern and some things are unchangeable. There are opportunities here: to crack under the pressure, or to withstand, and continue. To become more.

I will celebrate the warmth in the world. I will celebrate, not because of conflicts, but in spite of them. I am purposeful, determined, and unwavering. I will do what is in my power and, when I can do no more, I will still stand. And I will stand FOR something.

I am resolute.



Have Yourself A Naughty Little Christmas!


This little entity showed up in my sketchbook, so I thought it might be time for a new coloring page! click on this link: merrylittlechristmascoloringpage, or Go visit the FREEBIE page for a downloadable merry little PDF! Print, color, use in your mixed media work, whatever! Share with your friends! And tag me in your social media as @moonsownsister; the Naughty Fairies and I love to see what you’ve been up to. (Don’t forget to get on the Naughty List … sign up for my very-infrequent newsletter, by checking Newsletter on the site tabs. Check “coloring” as an interest, I’ll let you know when I get the 2017 New Years fairy up!)

Creativity Intervention, part 1: Suzi Blu


Artwork copyright SuziBlu. Used with permission. Cool, huh?


It’s almost like there’s a script. I’ll be sitting in a public place sketching and someone will wander by, eye my sketchbook with interest and . . . longing. And then tell me about how they used to love drawing, or coloring, or painting, or some other creative endeavor. And how they realized they weren’t good enough, or were unworthy, or made to feel ashamed in some way for the simple act of picking up a pencil or crayon and letting themselves create.

Time for an intervention.

There’s more going on here than a lack of belief in someone’s creative ability. There’s a vulnerability around the SELF. You can feel it . . . grief and regret, a longing for that simple immersion into art. This is someone who used to find such a happiness in art. What happened here? Sometimes, if I ask, they’ll tell me the story. These stories hurt my heart.

Somewhere inside each of these folks the spirit of that happy little kid who was so excited to pick up the crayons is still there, missing the color, longing for the freedom. That little kid needs to be told that IT IS OKAY to make messy, fabulous, playful art. Or serious, expressive art. Whatever they need art to be.

So… how to reach that spirit?

Let’s start with mixed media maven Suzi Blu! Suzi believes that everyone has a right to be creative, and that your work doesn’t have to be revered by the establishment or displayed in a museum to have value. Your art is for YOU, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it. The value is in the making of it. If you get a pretty picture at the end, great! But the outcome is not essential. What is essential is your presence.

She teaches that your art journal is a safe space for you to explore and play.  I think I first saw her videos (*gasp* — Really, it’s been that long?) NINE years ago. (Youtube link to an early one here! I STILL sing the art journal club song from this video. It makes my husband look at me funny.) I used an sketchbook before that, and sometimes took art supplies with me when I took my son to the playground. But Suzi helped me stop judging my work so harshly. I started carrying an art journal with me nearly everywhere. And the confidence and practice, those two things made a huge difference in my daily art experience.

Seriously. Go watch a couple of those early videos.  (If you’re in a creative slump, it might help you.) Warning: you may not be able to start, once you’ve started.

It’s okay. I’ll wait for you here.

Since those first videos, Suzi has helped thousands of people hand the crayons back to their inner child. She teaches classes, “playshops,” and leads online groups. She’s not just teaching technique. She’s leading people through an experience of making art in a joyful, exploratory way. And along the way, she helps them find their belief in themselves.  As fun and free-thinking autonomous individuals. As creators of their own life’s paths. Suzi believes, and demonstrates, that art is not something you do, but rather a way of living.

There’s something about her approach that is especially appealing to women. Some guys like Suzi, too. But her message resonates particularly with women. So many of us are broken in the same ways. And art can help us heal. Suzi’s walked that particular path, and it’s a topic she revisits in her art and in her videos. Sometimes we may need a little guidance in how to start that healing journey. Suzi can help with that.

Whether she’s showing you how to make a messy, ecstatically freeform multi-layer background, demonstrating how to shade beautifully with colored pencils, or dancing around in a tiara with puppets while singing, Suzi’s real gift is helping you discover your authentic, creative self. And that’s all kinds of awesome.

Suzi’s Patreon page is a great place to find cool monthly classes, and an involved creative community to help the seeker. Suzi has led me to take my art in directions I may not have thought to try years ago, stretching my ability, and helping me learn to trust myself. It’s been a lot of fun. Check her out!

(Plus, her dog is Very Cute. Bonus.)




Tea and a Tale on a Tuesday: Fragment by Craig Russell

Bertie (R.A.) MacAvoy sent me a book to read, without telling me much of anything about it, or why I should read it.

But I trust her. So I read it: Fragment, by Canadian writer Craig Russell.

Well, I meant to read just a chapter or two. But I ended up reading the whole thing, compulsively. It’s a slender volume. The story, however, is a big one.

Sometimes what’s scary about a thriller is its plausibility. One of the things speculative fiction writers do best is tell the truth sideways.  And there’s a lot of truth here. Craig Russell’s near future ecological and political world are a little too easy to imagine as reality. It was a compelling, but uncomfortable read: I found myself reading faster as the story progressed, hoping there might be some way to avert disaster. Maybe something in the way of hope, that might be carried past the pages of the book and into the outer world. The hubris and political manipulation in Fragment: yes, there are real-world analogs. Seeing the potential outcome as spelled out in this novel? Dread inducing. But I couldn’t look away.

As a key part of the novel, Russell has created  a particularly compelling, and unexpected, major character. No spoilers here … but I’d have liked to see the book return to this character’s unique viewpoint more often.

This book would make a challenging summer movie. It might be difficult to get made in the current political situation. But there are some important messages here. And the visuals would be mesmerizing.

Cleaned Up for Company

cleanedupcoverpromo2forwebSome folks were requesting The Naughty Fairies Coloring Book, sans swearing. If you’d like to color without risking your job or the ire of the Dowager Duchess, I am happy to provide!

The Naughty Fairies Adult Coloring Book CLEANED UP FOR COMPANY is the same images from BAD WORDS AND WORSE ATTITUDES . . . just minus the “bad” words.

Click here to go to the Createspace store!

Click here to find Cleaned Up for Company on Amazon