Monday means it's time to write THIS post . . .

Tote that barge!  
Lift that bale!

The brain work is over and the heavy lifting has begun. 
Time to load up the truck and hit the road.

Destination:  Baltimore 
ETA:  Wednesday afternoon 

The American Craft Council Show runs February 24-27.  My own particular party will be in booth 1123.  And here are a few of the characters I've invited to attend (aka: NEW WORK!)

-- my apologies in advance for my own reflection in these quick photos --

The Sun Laughs in Bluebirds, 26 x 26", Susan M. Hinckley 2011

Vocabulary Lesson #847, 20 x 20", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

The Hand of Fate Cannot Deal Happiness, 26 x 30", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

Thought, 18 x 18", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011


Mind Your Step, 24 x 24", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

Mother Nature Tries Asking Nicely, 18 x 24, Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

Vocabulary Lesson #468, 18 x 22", Susan M. Hinckley 2011

(And one other big new piece that I cannot 
post pictures of pending publication of a book . . .)

There will also be about 20 other pieces on display --


provided we arrive in one piece
and the lights turn on when we flip the switch
and the snow has been cleared so we can get out of the driveway in the first place . . .

A day of worry is more exhausting 
than a week of work.

-- John Lubbock

I'm not sure whether that's true or not, but two days of driving is at least as exhausting as work and worry, and when you add all three together . . . well, when you get to my booth if I'm "resting my eyes," just tap me on the shoulder and I'll be happy to offer you a personal tour and a piece of chocolate.  And my undying gratitude for your kindness in stopping by, of course.  I hope to see some friendly faces!

And if the closest you're going to get to Baltimore is
The Small Works Show Report,

come back for that when I return, March 2.
(Until then, stop by Happy Thought 
for a -- well -- a happy thought.

  'Til then -- ta ta!



Oh . . . will there EVER be a new post 
on Small Works?!!

There, there, Dear . . . it's not THAT dire, is it?

{Please -- stop crying!  You're upsetting the dog.}

(But it IS a valid question.)

 Clearly, the work MUST be done, even if some of life's niceties suffer a bit.  

But after the show prep, will there be anyone still hanging around to care?

Both science and experience point to the fact that, eventually, Susan will be ready for her show and will return to doing things like interacting with the rest of the world.

When this hypothesis has been proven, 
rest assured you'll be the FIRST to know.

 (Whether the readers will forgive her and return, 
only time will tell.)

So please stand by . . . and
have yourselves a
Happy Weekend! 



Happy Valentine's Day to you, 
dear Readers! 

I hope someone has already packed up some pink sugar cookies, 
sealed them with a kiss, 

and delivered them to your door.   No?! 

Then I hope the postman delivers the ones 
I sent to Hannah's door in Virginia 
before Valentine's Day is just a memory.

 I've already received a Valentine 
from my sweetheart today. . . 

He always draws a special card for me (in his signature sketchy style) 
and I adore them. 

If you haven't showered, or been showered with, valentines today, take heart --  
there's still time for Cupid to take aim!

Here's a valentine idea from my beloved  1960's
Betty Crocker's Boys and Girls Cookbook --

A heart shaped cake! 

This illustration for "mother" is just a suggestion, of course, 
and in no way constitutes a hint to my children . . .

While I don't believe I ever actually baked the heart shaped cake, I do know I dreamed of it many times as a young girl, poring over this favorite cookbook on Saturday afternoons wondering what I could make or do.

And if someone's willing to bake it (even though I'm too busy painting frames) we could make it a real party, adding the suggested Silhouette Sandwiches, Celery Curls, and Cocoa Continental with Pink Whipped Cream!

We can set a lovely spring-pink table, and have the kind of Valentine's tea party Cupid himself would attend if he wasn't so busy flying around wreaking havoc on people's hearts.

What do you think?

I'll be in the kitchen working. Just knock on the door and I'll gladly let you in and take a break so we can have a few festivities together.  (Or if you don't want to interrupt my work, you can just leave a few goodies on my doorstep and I'll gratefully break my diet so I can sample your sweets . . .)

You can run away if you want to -- 
that's the way we used to do it 
when we were kids, after all, 
but don't think you're getting away with anything. 

I'll know 
it was 

(best wishes to one and all for a love-ly Valentine's Day!)


"On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog." -- Peter Steiner

Well we've successfully rotated our way around 
to Friday once again . . .

 I'm almost afraid to look at the calendar these days . . .

hard as it may be to believe.  The dieting part of me thought Friday would NEVER come (my cheat day) but the deadline part of me wishes it were still Monday afternoon.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I didn't have any dog pieces left for my booth in Baltimore (that's because everybody loves dog pieces) so at the risk of creating something less than REAL art I decided  I'd better do something about it (that's because everybody loves dogs). 

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; 
hence the constant popularity of dogs.

-- Aldous Huxley

Luckily, I have a large backlog of doggy drawings and ideas, not to mention 85 pounds of constant inspiration wagging furiously around the studio, knocking-askew and shedding-all-over and covering with well-meaning-drool everything in his path.

I've also been wanting to add another piece to my Vocabulary Lessons series, so I was delighted when I was able to mesh the two objectives in one piece:

Vocabulary Lesson No. 847, 7.5 x 8.5", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

And I'm done in time to take it to my photographer tomorrow!  This means all the sewing for Baltimore is finished, and we now move into the furious painting, framing, and swearing phases of preparation (we've already started the insomnia phase -- about six days ago). 

One only needs to hang around the dog park  for a few minutes to realize that dogs are by nature the very definition of idiosyncrasy, each unique and bursting with enthusiasm and eccentric personality.

This particular dog  also appears to be uncharacteristically concerned with his looks.  As James Gorman said, "A dog's idea of personal grooming is to roll on a dead fish."  Truer words were never spoken.  That's why I thought a well-dressed dog was the perfect illustration for this particular vocabulary word.

Although for some reason in this quick (read: poorly lit)  photo he appears to have eyelashes, I assure you that he is not a cross-dressing dog (which might offend my more sensitive readers) -- he's not quite THAT idiosyncratic.

I traded my ubiquitous black-and-white dog for a chocolate lab in my dear Cooper's honor, although why he deserves any honor today is beyond me.  Just this morning I chased him across the yard and through a thigh-high snowbank in my nice pants and SHOES because he saw something interesting in the park across the street and decided it was probably time for a little exploratory walk.


I of course yelled at him, emptied the snow out of my shoes and then immediately gave him a nice cookie and a pat on the head.

Will he never learn? 

But that's part of the beauty of dogs --
they're so EASY to make happy, you can't really resist doing it.

Now let's hope there's a 
chocolate lab AND art lover out there 
who's looking to adopt. 

(Despite his mischievous grin, I assure you #847 is VERY well-behaved 
and SMART -- he has, after all, a large vocabulary for a dog.)

Happy Weekend!



Draw Wars . . . the prequel.

Here's a preamble of sorts to yesterday's post 
(I only came across it last night):

I'd never thought of adding labels 
to explain my drawings . . . 
would they help?

Something like, "This is a lady.  Her head is a teapot.  Her arms are really long.  Because she's a teapot.  Get it?  I have absolutely no idea why she's pukey green."

Hmmm -- I don't know . . . only more confusing?! 
(Maybe I'd better just keep working on learning to draw.) 

Hope you're 
well on your way 
to a terrific Tuesday!




Luckily the temperature  stuck a cautious, icy toe above the 30 degree mark over the weekend, just in time for some work in the garage building frames.  That means framing week can't be far behind, and consequently the kitchen will be closing soon.  Anyone wanting to eat anything at my house had better get at it, because once the paint and polka dots start flying, it's hard to find a counter to cook on. And I get a little GRUMPY if I think there's a chance someone might get a splash or a crumb anywhere near my precious frames.

Art rules in the kitchen 
during framing week.

You've been warned.

In other news . . . some of you may remember from previous posts that I have an enormous hole in my artsy self where my drawing mechanism is supposed to be.

*I've just never been able to do it.  

My husband draws very well, as do each of my three daughters, and it seems to come so naturally to each of them, but it's magic to me.  The pencil never makes the lines where I'd like them -- there just seems to be a disconnect between my eyes and my fingers.

I can, quite literally, cut a much better line than I can draw. And I can subtract from a line to get what I want much better than I can apply one to paper in the first place.  My drawings have so much correction fluid on them that there's hardly any exposed paper by the time I'm finished. I'd rather do laundry than draw. Strong words.

But I've always known the day would come that I was either going to have to stop masquerading as an artist or learn to get comfortable with my drawing (dis)ability.  So I decided to take a crack at this book, which Santa was kind enough to supply at my request:

My daughters oohed and aahed on Christmas morning as they thumbed through it . . . 
I just felt my palms start to sweat.  

It's actually a really delightful book,  and in a serendipitous twist I noticed on my email this morning a link to a blog chat with the author, Carla Sonheim, which you can also enjoy by clicking here.

Once I really started looking, I noticed that by lesson number 4 she was suggesting a trip to the zoo with a sketch book, and I immediately felt out of my league again.  Take a sketchbook?!  In public?!  To draw animals?!  By merely looking at them?  Ha.

Luckily I have a daughter with a drawing degree who is also a master educator.  Why had it never occurred to me to turn to her before?  I mean, since she spends a lot of her life teaching people how to draw?  It's a valid question. 

The moment I discovered Maira Kalman's blog, I knew that I wanted to create something similar -- a blog with once-a-month posts that I could write and illustrate with a variety of things, but mostly with my drawings.  And I knew I was going to need to acquire some skills. I also knew I was a long way from feeling like toting a sketchpad to the zoo for practice.  So I sought help from the expert.

I've only had two 2-hr. lessons so far, 
but I'm really enjoying it!  

 One of the results of Lesson #1.  We'll just call it "Still Life with Toilet Paper."

One of the results of Lesson #2. 
It's the product of looking at a spiky plant through this viewfinder:

It's HARD.  My brain hurts.
But my daughter assures me I'm a natural, and I can tell she's going to be a great teacher.

I guess there's no problem with the way I see, I just lack the mechanics of how to translate what I see to paper.  And that can be learned.

I hope.  Or so everyone assures me.  Now I'm just wandering around dissecting everything I see and figuring out where I would begin to put the lines on paper.

Hooray . . .
I've finally taken the first step!

I'm going to need a lot of practice, which won't really be able to happen until after Baltimore, but with the help of a patient teacher, I may be able to realize my ultimate bloggy goal someday.

And when I do, I hope you'll pop in for a monthly visit.  
And not to laugh at my drawings . . . (except in a good way) 

How about you  -- 
is there something you've always wanted to do 
but have been putting off for one reason (fear) or another (fear)

Why not figure out a way to make it happen?
Because if I can pick up a pencil, 

anything is possible.

Think it over. . . 



Finished Friday.

With our thoughts, we make the world.

-- Buddha

Thought, 6.5 x 6.5", Susan M. Hinckley, 2011

Thought is free.


All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try to think them again.

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The ancestor of every action is a thought.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.

-- Abraham Lincoln

Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.

-- Henry David Thoreau

The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money.

-- Thomas Jefferson

The soul is dyed by the thoughts.

-- Marcus Aurelius

All thought is a feat of association; having what's in front of you bring up something in your mind that you almost didn't know you knew.

-- Robert Frost

Sending warm thoughts your way 
for a wonderful weekend!



"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us." -- Samuel Smiles (Scottish author)

Now that January is but a gray, icy blip 
in our rear-view mirror, 
it must be time to turn our faces 
toward sunnier futures!

The first thing I can't help but point out is that it's actually much better to be in Minnesota today than in most of the rest of the country.  (And that's a true February rarity.)

Don't knock the weather; 9/10 of people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in awhile.

-- Kin Hubbard


Wherever you are today, 
I hope you're safe and warm 
and making the most of the particular gift 
Mother Nature has placed 
outside your window 
for your enjoyment.

Here in MN, of course, we don't cotton too much to ol' Phil's prognostications -- we know, for instance, that regardless of what his shadow does, our shovels are going to keep doing their thing for another good six weeks at least.  

So I looked in my breakfast bowl of Alpha Bits instead to see if I could find ANY harbinger of spring there, and try as I might, I couldn't come up with a single spring-related word. The whole bowl seemed to be full of only "B" and "R", which can only spell "brrrrr".

Honest to goodness, the closest I could come is this:

Which I can only connect to spring because we were just discussing last night that our mortgage interest rate is due to reset in April and we should have already gotten busy refinancing.

To shorten winter, 
borrow some money due in spring.

-- W. J. Vogel

Not a terribly hopeful sign, I know.

So then I decided to reach into my Polka-dot Chinese Take-out Box o' Wit and Wisdom (home of my fortune cookie fortune collection) to see what I could come up with.

And the first thing I pulled out was this:

Tempting advice.  
But of course I immediately went back for another draw.  Next up was this:

Hmmm -- not bad. Could that mean shorts and sandals?  

Perhaps one more draw . . . and so lastly, this:

Aha!  I'm on the right track after all!  In fact, I was just thinking that the sunshine streaming in across my back as I type this felt a little stronger than last week . . . . dare I say . . . even warm?  (Okay, I'm also sitting directly beneath the heating vent as the furnace pumps away, but let's all walk on the sunny side of the street today, shall we?)

And now, I'd really like some Chinese food . . .
but perhaps first we should re-write the earlier quote:

To shorten winter, 
try to diet your way into your black pants 
by the end of February . . .

Rats. I've already indulged in Alpha Bits. 
Okay, point taken. 

(er . . . rear-view mirror day!)

ps. Come back tomorrow when I'll be running exactly the same post --
plus I'll see if I can get Sonny and Cher to sing "I've Got You, Babe".

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