Baseball in the Everglades/Strange Days 

For those of you who don't know, I work at an insurance company (breaking news, I know). I was recently promoted (more breaking news... not!), and I really, really, really like my job (woo hoo!). Who would have guessed... Julie + insurance = happiness?

One of the perks of my job is that word got out that paint and I have received several commissioned jobs from various Markel employees. The above painting, is probably one of my more meaningful painting as of late. Why you ask? Well, there are 2 reasons.

First, this is the painting that got me really excited about painting again. I am very pleased with it and it was definitely a challenge. I didn't know how I would do at painting the everglades. As I glance up, I can answer: pretty flippin' well.

Second, this painting was commissioned by the president of my branch, and she has ordered 8 more paintings (holla!). This equals more money for immediately, which could not be more needed as I have decided that I am moving out of my parents house in 3 weeks. I've decided the place too, despite having not seen it yet, and I'm so set on it, I've already started packing. This better not fall through...

Anyway, I digress... The second meaningful part continues. Not only has it led to 8 more paintings, it has allowed me to network with the president of my branch, and she is a very cool lady. I now have one more person I like that I work with, but I can further make my mark on my company. She knows me and by knowing me, knows how much I like the company, my future aspirations of moving up, and knows I have a strong work ethic. Pretty cool stuff.

As I am writing this, I am sitting at a counter in the kitchen of Quincy University's Friary (which I just got mayorship of on Foursquare. I'm mayor of the home of God's advocate, can you say the same?) Many of my friends do know my reason for being out here (he's currently playing cards with my sister Martha, thus my typing now). My great Uncle J.J. is a priest who lives and works at Quincy University in Illinois, and he is dying. His doctor's have given him 2-3 months to live, so I am trying to make the most of any time I have left. Yesterday he and I had a few moments to spend alone. We discussed a lot of things, one of those being that I was sad he would not be the one to marry me. We talked about my relationship with Ryan and then he came to say that he had never seen me so happy. Something as simple as this article and him saying this and being here, I agree. I have never been happier in my life and I am grateful for every day. I hope I can always hold on to this feeling, because I can honestly say that every day I am grateful for my friends, my family, my boyfriend, my job, my hobbies, being alive and just everything. I am especially grateful to be here right now, spending time with my uncle.

To end on a happier note, and at my cousin Jennifer's insistence, I want to share a moment that we had this morning, and all surrounds a movie that Jennifer and I found in the Friary last night. Everyone here pretty much goes to bed around 8/9. For us, who stay up a bit later, this is boring. So last night we went to the TV room and tried to find a movie. The Priests' and Brothers' collection is a strange one: Existence, Saw, a copy of The Green Mile and Ali which have not been opened, the entire Golden Girls collection, The Shawshank Redemption and last, and most importantly, Strange Days starring Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, and Juliette Lewis. Jennifer and I decided this seemed like a semi-decent cast and after reading the back covered, we decided, why not? If it was bad we would turn it off after 5 minutes.

We watched 20 minutes of this film. In those 20 minutes of film, this movie was nothing but sex, violence, and drugs, and it was terrible! Why did we watch 20 minutes you ask? WE COULDN'T TURN IT OFF! The entire 20 minutes we were just ripping on this film, and it was hilarious. Why was this in the Friary? Why was this one of the opened films? How many times had they watch this? Why did Juliette Lewis get naked for this film? Why did she roller blade in her underwear? Why did her character roll topless over to this sink and splash water on herself seductively? Is this a move men like? Why was this movie made? As reviewed on IMDB, was the statement that there were "at least five climactic scenes toward the end, which must break some kind of record" true? You can see the many moral and life changing questions we were confronted with. Ellis chimed in with many a hilarious comment, stating that if he was friends with any of this actors, he would continually invite them to hang out to watch Strange Days, saying it was his favorite movie. We postulated that the people involved in the film must regret this and have started a campaign to retract and destroy all copies of this film, naturally overlooking Quincy University's Friary, because seriously, why did they have this film?

This morning, Jennifer brought this up to JJ. We had to know why they owned this film. JJ pleaded with us not let anyone know of this blight against the Friary's name. Amidst laughter, he charged me, as Mayor of the Friary to keep the PR up and not let this leak out. But as Mayor of the Friary, I can not be derelict in my duty and not inform the world of this horrible movie.

All in all it was delightful morning of laughter shared with our family, with our Uncle JJ. and one of the memories that, if I were Ralph Fiennes, would use that weird drug S.Q.U.I.D to recall later.

In closing, I'm pleased with painting and, why was Strange Days in the Friary?



Adventure Time!

 8 by 16 Inches, 2011. ADVENTURE TIME can be purchase from my account - PURCHASE HERE.

I've been trying to finish this painting for at least 6 months. Last week, I was on vacation and planned to do nothing with my time. Just sit on the couch and veg. I had been so tapped out with painting, having consistent commission jobs since March that I just needed to walk away from painting. It wasn't fun anymore. I felt as though I left one job to come home to another. I was so against painting for a while, that I haven't done write ups on any of them, and the one write up I did was completely half-assed and I couldn't have cared less. It is most likely full of grammatical and spelling errors, and I just didn't care to re-read it.

Being on vacation and on break from painting for a while was great. There was no pressure to complete a single painting by a certain day. Apparently that was all it took. My desire to paint returned almost immediately. I finished a painting for Ryan that I have been working on for at least 8 months (the Mets logo). Then I started a new painting. And then I sat down and finished the long awaited (possibly be me only) Adventure Time! painting pictured above. It helped that the painting I had finished, Florida Gators, kind of rocked and can be checked out HERE.

I am ready to get back to painting. I have 8 more commission paintings in line. And several owed paintings that I would like to start on. However, I need to approach these differently this time. I have a job. I have a life. Priorities change and events you can not count on pop up. The enjoyment that I get from painting, I refuse to ever compromise that again by not giving myself the time I need to complete a painting. I want to always want to paint. It was a scary couple months. I really was not enjoying it anymore. Luckily my last commission painting, which I will do a write up on shortly, kind of brought it back. I'm ready to move forward and to find new inspiration and motivation. 

I also plan on doing more Adventure Time paintings, cause this one kind of rocked. And I do love Marceline the Vampire Queen!



In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle










Yet another of my Markel commissioned painting. These paintings were for my co-worker Melissa who is currently my #1 customer by a long shot. After these 4 paintings her total commission number is at 12 paintings. She has been a huge supporter of me over my carreer at Markel. When she wants her child's room decorated she thinks of me. She appreciates a part of me that is so important and she helps to foster it by continuing to commission jobs from me. As I said, very cool. I like that I can have these relationships with people. That we can touch each others lives' in small and different, but highly profound ways. 

I'm not really in a writing mood at all today, but wanted to get this up. These paintings I did based on this label for Cocalo Baby Nali Jungle Removal Wall Appliques. I think I may have found my niche - children's painting.

Got kids? I can't paint them something!


Art + Facebook = A Marriage of Convenience (P.S. Riley is the cutest kid ever)

I hate facebook. I am just not a fan anymore. First it was the snow and everyone's comments. You're trapped in you house and can't survive without the government plowing your street, I get it. Just wait till technology fails and you have no where to complain. See how that goes for you. Second, everyone feels like it is their forum to spout out their belief, regardless of how ignorant or how much no one cares. Third, I'm just over it. I seriously ponder de-activating on a regular basis, but one thing holds me back: ART.

I can't deny it, this world is all about networking and facebook is great for that. I have received several art commissions from facebook. Like my most recent painting:

Riley, 2011 
It all stemmed from the engagement painting for Brooke and John. As I do after completing a painting, I post a blog about it, showing off the painting, telling the story about it, and any thoughts I feel are relevant and worth sharing at the moment. Whether you agree is of no importance. This was no different with Brooke and John, and to ensure that people actually see that there is an update to my site, I posted it to my profile on facebook. Not sure how it got to my future client as I am not friends with her on facebook, but it did, and I couldn't be happier.
Riley, so you can agree on her cuteness.I was sitting at work on day when I got a phone call. It was the mother of my old co-worker and film co-star Kristine. She had seen the post through somewhere, which is awesome that apparently I am advertising and accessible to people other than my very carefully selected facebook friends (Not! I have no idea who several of my friends are. You could send me a request and I would assume I met you somewhere and just say yes - unless you are a creeper, then I will detect it and delete you!).

Anyway, I was asked by Kristine's mother Doreen to come over for lunch and discuss a painting for her granddaughter Riley. I went and was immediately dropped into a childhood world of Wonderpets, Yo Gabba Gabba and Elmo. It was a cool project. My artwork and style really caters to paintings for children's rooms. I also learned I can paint Guinea Pigs, really fraking well.
I had a secret spy at the party too, my friend Lisa, who knew about the painting and reported to me about Riley's reaction to the painting. She said upon opening it, Riley, the cutest little 2 year old (look to you left and nod your head in agreement), looked at it and just said "Wow". I think that says it all right now. I nailed it.
It was a fun project. Although I don't see Kris as much as I used to when we worked together every day in the good old Markel fileroom (or as much as I would like to for that matter) it was nice to be able to be involved in something that was going to be a part of her daughter's life. And it was nice to be involved in something that would mean something to her. She's a wonderful person and she has a wonderful family and it's just amazing to be able to be a part of that.
That's really what I love about art so much. Through a gift that was given to my the universe, my own determination, God, or sheer luck of my genetic makeup (thanks mom and dad!), I am able to be a part of other people's lives in a really profound way. I am able to give them something that makes them happy, and I hope, makes them smile every time they look at it. That is what I feel art does. It brightens the world we live in. I feel so blessed that this is a gift I have been given and am glad I am able to share it with my friends and their families.

In sumation: Art = Good, Facebook = a necessary evil. I will now post this to Facebook.


A Bridal Gift for Brooke and Jon

Recently, at work I was sitting at my desk doing awesome insurance-like things when my boss came over. I figured it was something to do with the recent "SME" work I've been doing (that's Subject Matter Expert to you. Booyah!) I was on the phone at the moment discussing something very important with my favorite collegue Kevin from Dallas. I politely told him to hold for one moment and lowered the phone to see what Fern wanted. She told me I could finish the conversation and then give her a ring. When I called her I was delightfully surprised to be invited into her office as she wanted to discuss something not work-related - a painting from me for her daughter Brooke's Bridal Shower.

Now one of the cool things about Fern is not only does she know who Romero Britto is, but she OWNS a Romero Britto. Seriously, like a real one. When I was asked to photograph Brooke and her fiancee's engagement party back in August, I got to see it. To say the least, it was beautiful and I am totally lime green Jell-o. One day. One day I will own one too. Who knows, maybe I'll get to meet him and we could trade paintings!

Anyway, back on track, Fern wanted a Romero Britto inspired painting as the gift from the bridal party to the bride. I instantly accepted and got to work finding the Romero Britto piece to use as inspiration. A little bit of googling later I found the piece and I got my sketch.

Once I had the sketch it was time to start with the painting. I have learned from all the other myriads of Britto paintings that the key is, start with the people and work your way out.

What I forgot was that I tend to HATE the paintings until I get the black lining in. Last week on Saturday, I had a mini-melt down about how terrible it was coming out and how Fern wouldn't like it. From there, the painting just turned more and more stressful. I wasn't liking the colors of the background - where the aqua was I had breght green and the whole top was dark blue. The heart looked incomplete and I didn't know how to fill in all of the background - I didn't have the wings added yet so there was a lot of dead space in the background. The painting was just turning into a stress mess. Not only was I doing this for my boss, but she is a fellow Romero Britto aficionado and I was cutting it close to the deadline. Not good at all.

I didn't make the progress I needed last weekend. That meant the entire next week, I needed to spend literally EVERY moment not at work painting. Working out? Don't think so. Going to dinner at Oliver Garden with Ryan? Not so much. Game night with Matt Siciliano? Nope. On top of the non-progress I made, I didn't even know how to proceed and now I was getting stress headaches.

Then Monday, I had a breakthrough. I remembered another Romero Britto design I liked that was on the bag I got when I bought something at Britto Central in Miami. I hopped on google again and typed in "Romero Britto hearts". I found the following image and the rest of the painting materialized in my head:










From there I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday holed up in my room marathoning season 1 of Friday Night Lights as Ryan sat next to me and kept me company. Friday I brought it in to Fern. I couldn't have been more excited. Giving the painting to the client is always my favorite part. It is the payoff for all the hard work I put into it. First, I've never had a client who hasn't loved the end result, and second, I get money.

This painting has definitely made it to my favorite painting list. I think it is a perfect representation of happiness, love and the vibrancy of life. It's so amazing to be able to do something that I love and that brings light into and becomes part of someone else's life forever.

Best wishes to Brooke and Jon <3