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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Californicus and the results of a 22 hour drive

Californicus: a native species to California

It's funny.
Sometimes you have to leave a place to realize just how much you love that place. Certain landscapes imprint themselves in the lines of your palm, they become tied up in your locks and branded on your skin in a thousand tiny moles. In my very marrow resides the grit of California and in my blood flows the current of the Golden State. Whenever I cross the state line my heart gives a little flutter and jolt and something deep in my gut recognizes that land as home.
I have the heart of a redwood
I sing the song of the raven


Weeks ago as I slid wet brushes over canvas while nodding my head to the beat, working tirelessly to finish preparations for "Venation," I spent a long day in contemplation. I was terribly distracted from my work, and completely wrapped up in a job offer that had landed on my desk of my BC. I hosted a debate in my studio, conversing with all my painted creatures, asking their opinions and trying my hardest to remain impartial (but that was never possible). As I debated I worked on one particular piece, studying an assortment of images of jackrabbits. And then I saw it. The images I had gathered, for no other reason than technical research, were carefully labeled with the genus rather than the common name.

And they were all "Califonicus." Native Californians. As their ancestors were, as they were born and raised.


Fast forward to this last week's trip to California:

We've made a very official decision, BC and I. We've decided to open the next chapter of our lives, to move forward, to move on. To move South, to California. And soon. We have four short weeks to pack and tidy up business and ready ourselves for the move and soak up as much Seattleness (and Morris-ness) as we can.

I intend to eat a lot this month. There are far too many fabulous restaurants still on our list.

We'll be moving to a small town in Northern California (just North of Eureka if you know the area). We've already found a home with a huge backyard (hello my new garden), plenty of studio space (natural light is my best friend), and a less-than-five-minute-drive to the beach (be still my salt water heart). Like you may have guessed, it's been a busy week. I've been living off the adrenaline thrill of moving home.

I think I'll cry when I cross that borderland, just for the sheer knowledge that it feels so right. I've loved Washington deeply, I've adored it's mountain ranges full of thick trees and cities full of cherry blossoms. It will always be dear to my heart, I will always treasure these last years.

But the time is now.

California, here I come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Train Stop Lovin' Part Two

With Spring the fog breaks,
The misty remains fall to the earth
Smote by the palest sunlight
The tracks become clear,
The path is no longer blurred by questions.

Long straights pointing South
(I knew it all along as I strode these Northern hills)
But suddenly the curve is upon me.
The redwoods beckon
And I have given my answer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Train Stop Lovin'

I feel like life has been moving at express train speed.
I've so much to say, to share, to show but those wheel just keep on turning.

Thank God for grabbing tall, dark and handsome you plant a big one on in a train yard, eh?

At any rate, we're hitting the road in just a few hours for another whirlwind blitz to Northern California and back. I'm well stocked with raw veggies, my crochet hook and about 15 balls o' yarn (just WAIT till you see the yarny lust I've been struck with) and a slew of long talks BC and I need to chew over slowly. Like I said, so much to say...

I miss you.

But I'll be back next week.

Carry on little steam engine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I supposed you'd like a winner, huh?

Sometime after the stroke of midnight, I sat myself down for a little blog count and a visit to the random number generator site. I numbered out every post, every tweet, every lovely little comment you left me. I let my finger hover for a few seconds over the "generate" button while I thought quietly, may this painting go to the person who most needs her, most connects with her, then with a quick click I had the wining number right there on my screen. Not yet the name I'd be writing across the package within which "Come Spring" would travel to her new owner with great flourish (I hadn't yet checked the winning number with the winning person), not yet the person I'd get to announce today as the winner, but just a random little number.

Truth be told it was kinda anti-climatic.

The number just pops up. That's all.

And I can't do that to you.

I like to get my kicks.

I went with my randomly generated number without question (who am I to get in the way of fate) and I'm THRILLED to announce a winner. And then I got really excited and picked two more random numbers because, well, shoot, we all like prizes and I figured there were two more sassy lasses out there who needed some UmberDove lovin'.

But when I told Thai who won, he wanted to play announcer, and I really couldn't argue because I have raised two quite self-entitled kitty boys with whom I share a rather codependent relationship. So I made him a cape which he proudly wore for his photoshoot.

Miss Little Jeans,
I'll be bundling up and shipping out "Come Spring" with loads of love and bubble wrap just for you!

To my next two randomly generated ladies,
Trista Anodei
I would love to send you each a print of your choosing from my little shop, so drop me an email at
letting me know what print you would like and what address you would like me to ship it to and I'll chop right to it!

To EVERYONE who commented and shared the love in this last week,
I appreciate you each so much it makes my heart give a little flutter and my toes give a little tingle every time I think of you.
You really are the best.
I mean it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Holy Mother of Post-tivities!

Well I'm back on my computer after it decided quite testily that it needed to visit the Apple Doctor. It's amazing how long 30 hours sans computer can be (and really, a bit too revealing of my computer addiction). That said,


You friendlies are amazing! I've been blown away reading all your comments (and visiting blogs, facebook pages and the like) and would love to respond to every single one of you!
But for now, know that I appreciate you so and my heart will be warmed while I get all domestic goddess around the house in anticipation of my parents arrival (in just a few short hours).

And if you haven't yet entered the giveaway, what are you waiting for?!?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bring it on Spring, I'm ready for my GIVEAWAY!


As much as I know you love listening to me chatter on about silly matters regarding the state of the lichen in my backyard and the afternoon light on the ridge causing the most beautiful sunflare, or my cocktail of choice last night at 5:00pm (pomegranate liquor, straight up) , or what tune I've had stuck in my head for days now to BC's bane (Chances by Jill Barber, I'm done with you now. Thanks for the good times. Now go and please do not leave Sweet Home Alabama in your wake AGAIN) I'll try to spare you the details and cut to the chase.

We've got a giveaway on our hands here, and I mean to deliver.

"But cool your heels" I hear you say, "We need proper Introductions first!"


This, my friends, is "Come Spring." Oh I know a GRIP of you out there are dealing with snowdrifts to the knees but here in the Pacific Northwest we're experiencing a Faux Spring. I return home from my runs and lay flat on my back in the grass, allow the still-chill wind to dance over me while I soak up the watery rays of sun and the heady scent of soil slowly warming. The birds are simply beside themselves, chattering on about their good luck and rich prospects. This faux Spring still manages to bring a bounty, and if nothing else, a little renewed hope.

Come Spring
Oil on Canvas 4" x 4"

- On To The Details of how "Come Spring" could come and live with YOU -

I had a long talk with the boys and they agreed to let me use a random number generator to determine the winner, so please leave a separate comment for each of the checkpoints below (it's just like more raffle tickets and who doesn't like a whole fistful of bright red raffle tickets?)

1. Just leave me a regular-o comment, say cheers or howdy-hey, or what's crackin' or... yeah, whatever's on your mind. = 1 red raffle ticket!

2. Leave a comment if you follow my blog (there's a button somewhere over here on the right side). = 1 red raffle ticket!

3. Become a Facebook fan of UmberDove (again, there is a terribly conveniently located button just to the right - I do like to make life easy for you). = 1 red raffle ticket!

4. If you proudly sport an UmberDove item - or several - woo! (be it purchased from my UmberDoveStudios.Etsy shop OR my UmberDove.Etsy shop) leave me a comment (because I appreciate you so!). = 1 red raffle ticket

5. For everywhere you post news of this giveaway with a link to my blog, be it on your own blog, your facebook, your twitter, wherever your webular steps lead, leave me a comment with a link to your post. = 1 red raffle ticket PER post

And there you go, so many amazing ways to earn yourselves fistfuls of red raffle tickets! But remember to post up a comment for each way you spread the UmberDove love. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm PST on Wednesday February 17th and I'll be declaring a winner on Thursday February 18th so get crackin'!

Best of the Best Luck to You!

Credit where credit is due: I must say I've been so inspired by the rampant generosity of some bloggy friends of late - it really must be that Spring is in the air - and I just want to say thank you to YOU, Miss for the idea for this format. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Charmingly Contrary and the Big Secret

Do you know those birds, the ones get away with unmentionable amounts of sass while we coo and awe? The ones who blink and trill then turn tail-feather with an inappropriate flash of white, stealing the seed right out of our fingertips, without so much as a please or thank you? Troublesome little bits, but we let them get away with murder just because they're so flippin' adorable?

Yep those ones.

You know you've fallen prey to their wily ways, and given a second chance, will fall just as hard again.

The thing is, they know that too.

"Charmingly Contrary" 4" x 4"

When I first decided to immortalize Miss Contrary, little did I realize just how much she would live up to her name. I swooned too quickly over her wide dark eyes and flirty cheeks but that little ball of feathers, she has a mind of her own.

It started off during the first round of photography. All the little smallies lined up, gussied and primped for their glamor shots, posing just so (with energy now, turn a little to the left, and smile... perfect!). But Miss Contrary was in a mood for mischief. She gave a little puff and left a downey feather stuck right in the center of her painting. She stretched up and caught the light of glare in her eye right as the camera snapped. She refused to stay put and bounded out into the sunshine to tease the little critters who call the rhododendrom their home. I should have been irritated with her but she was just so darn charming I forgot all about it.

She behaved quite well all through the tedious day of installation at the gallery, and positively shined during the opening (as all saucy creatures who know the levels of their charm do). The following day as I compiled everyone's portraits, tidying them up and slipping them into lovely little albums I realized that I didn't hold a single decent image of Miss Contrary. I had to make a whole photography trip into town just for that one bitty chickadee.

Sassy little bird.

But you know what?
I wouldn't have her any other way.

In completely unrelated in any way to the story of "Charmingly Contrary"I DO have some news for you. TOMORROW, Wednesday, marks the start of the biggest UmberDove blog contest to date so don't let your computer mouses slack!

It's so good.

I want to tell you RIGHT NOW!

But my lips are sealed.

**** Second Side Note: In case you were wondering about the state of large sunglasses and me, I assure you it has NOTHING to do with coolness, but rather an eyesight condition that I refer to as "blind as a rat in the sun." I'm a bit of a vampire, loving my gray skies and fog for the simple reason that I can SEE in them. Ah well. Maybe I do have something in common with that whole Twighlight deal. ****

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Opening

This is exactly how I felt last night.

And maybe a little of this too.

Both images, photo credit: Mme. Bookling

Venation officially opened last night, and Seattle's art-lovingest types braved the drizzle and tromped out into the slick city streets for the First Thursday Art Walk.

Shiny and Fabulous. (photo credit: Mme. Bookling)

Menfolk, BC and The Saint, holding down the fort, toasting with Scotch.
(photo credit: Mme. Bookling)

One of my favorite art appreciators of the evening.
(photo credit: Mme. Bookling)

The turnout was amazing (and humbling), the response overwhelming, and by the end of the night my cheeks were sore from my perma-grin. But more than anything else, the connections that I was able experience with those who came in to see the work was exhilarating. Watching people read, really read, the individual painting poetry then look, really look, at the artwork is astounding. And then to speak with them, to hear what they see and feel, to explain my own inspiration and influences, to know that the work touches them in some way,
I really just don't have the words.
It's amazing.
But "amazing" still seems to fall short.

But the truth is, I feel incredibly blessed.
And unendingly thankful.
And ridiculously gleeful.

Pre-opening, pre-party, in the quiet, everything just so.

The wall o' smallies.

And Best Mmes to boot.
(photo credit: Mme. Bookling)

To all of you well-wishers and love-senders: I received it ALL and wish (and WISH) that each of you could have been here last night.

I really do.

To see the individual works in the show...

I'm off to do absolutely nothing for at least a whole day
and You
and you
and you
- Umber

p.s. If you happened to be the lovely one who knows something about "T-shirts, and Haiti, and Kerin Rose" - you know who you are - I want you to know that you COMPLETELY made my day. Thank you. From the widest part of my heart.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

... and so the great wall of smallies was begun.

more to come tomorrow...