i paint i write

Live boldly, laugh and make art

Don’t make your children give hugs

You are holding your toddler in your arms as you walk to the front door. The doorbell has just rung, and you open it to let your parents in. They have just driven hours through snowdrifts to see you and they want to hold their grandchild. But your child has tightened her grip on your arm […]

Burnt peas, self-worth and being kind to yourself

I burnt the peas again. I burnt them three times this morning. The first two times, they were just a little burnt. I dumped the peas out of the pan and tried again. The last time, I burnt the bottom of the pan black. I ate my sardines with no peas. I am worthless. I […]

Dear Grandmother in the store at Target today

Dear Grandmother in the store at Target today, I heard you say to your grandson in the dish soap aisle, “Stop asking me questions.” You were irritated. I could tell by the expression on your face and the tone of your voice. I walked past you. A few minutes later we were in another aisle […]

How to approach the creation of art: transform and exaggerate reality

When Dorothy walked out of her church at eleven a.m. on November 21st, 1982, on Crescent Road at 1st Street North East in Calgary, Alberta, she might have been surprised to see five identical black and white photographs of mice lined up against the Calgary skyline. The mice, five feet eight inches tall, part of […]

How deadlines help sew bridesmaid dresses and publish books

The night before my friend Michelle’s wedding, May 15th, 1981, I was going to sew on the sleeves and hem my bridesmaid dress. However, I forgot that I had to attend the bridal dinner the night before the wedding, and then I got home really late. I could just wake up early and sew on […]

The greatest gift you can ever give

Today my husband and I have been married for twenty-six years. The greatest gift he has ever given me is not the all-clad frying pan I accidently left at the campground. It is not the diamond ring he proposed with, or the pitchfork I asked for on our fifteenth anniversary.   He gave me the […]

Dog diarrhea, speed and comparing

Martha had diarrhea on the carpet in the living room. We didn’t know she wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t bark to be let out. We found the mess in the morning. Life is what happens when you are working on something else. Ripping out the carpet and putting in a new floor was not on […]

Cindy saved me a seat at the table – she died four days ago

I wanted to go the women’s breakfast. But I didn’t have anyone to sit with. Too many church dinners and women’s breakfasts in my past where I went to sit down and someone said, “This seat is saved.” But it wasn’t saved for me. Everyone already had a friend. There was no room at the […]

You don’t need permission to create or make a life-size cat

For the last three years, I wanted to illustrate a story my cat, Pooh Hodges, wrote about how to become a cat. But I wasn’t sure what a drawing of a guy wearing tighty whities would look like. I hesitated for three years. Because, well, I was worried someone might not like my illustrations.   “Don’t think about […]

Be like Vincent Van Gogh and don’t listen to the critics

The book Lust For Life, a biographical novel about Vincent Van Gogh, is 488 pages. I am on page 312. Vincent has just moved to Paris and is living with his brother Theo. On page 312 he is looking at a painting by Georges Seurat, in Seurat’s studio. Van Gogh hasn’t cut off his ear yet, or shot […]