Sunday, September 19, 2010

My New Arrival

Well i said that i'd never have another baby, but i couldn't help myself!
After giving birth (really , it was like going thru labor!) to my shop, StymiepieStudios last year, it took so much work i couldn't imagine having another one.
I filled the shop full of handpainted items, but it was always hungry..always wanted more. I taught it to walk and talk in the forums and told the whole world via social media about my wonderful "child" and how fast she was growing up.But that heart tug started last year.."wouldn't it be nice to have another child, a little different from this one?maybe a "print shop" this time?" and the next thing i knew i was pregnant with ideas!! so full that i could barely get them from my head to the paper fast enough!! and last week, "RockandRollHart" was born!! Beautiful art prints and healthy rock caricatures and full of life!!
I felt a little guilty at first..Stymie was an only child and was used to getting all of my attention..but Rock is still little and sleeps most of the time..there's only been one sale, so i can still give Stymie extra time when i manage to sneak away from whatever caricature or print i'm wrapped up in.
Like most full time moms, i'm tired but happy!! And there's more than enough room on my heart for both of my "children". So come over and visit!! I love to show them off!! Have you seen my latest pictures?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


here i limbo.

for the last two months, as my oldest son's wedding approached, everything was put on hold til"after the wedding". it was great to push all the annoying daily life things aside..bills(LOL!), appointments, murals, extra work. my brain felt so full, i almost wished i could empty it like the cache file on the computer. by the way, have you ever noticed you remember the lyrics to almost every song you've ever heard? it's all just stuck there. ready to be retrieved as soon as you hear those first few notes..but what about the songs you don't like that much? you can't just empty your brain of medium liked lyrics or trivia about sea turtles or lindsay lohan..anyway, back to the point.

i was already dealing with a pinched nerve in my back and hoping i'd be well enough to dance at the wedding, when we suddenly had to make a place in our home for my 92 year old father. he was living in florida , alone ,and just couldn't do it anymore. so we turned my studio into his bedroom and began the process of learning how to live with a very proud, stubborn man who had lived on his terms and now had lost all control over his life and choices. now we were four weeks away from the wedding and trying to make plans to include my dad , which made us very happy, but made him very unhappy. two hour drive to the jersey shore? nope, he didn't wanna do it! rehearsel dinner after the church? nope, he wasn't gonna do it! wedding and reception in 93 degrees? nope he was never gonna do it! it took us a while but we realized that we had a 4 year old toddler on our hands and started to think of interesting ways to get him to agree..we used a little guilt "josh and paula would be crushed if you weren't there", reward "you get your own room at the hotel and if you meet a hot woman , you can bring her to your room". and reverse physchology" we won't make you do anything that you don't want to"..i never had to resort to the last choice which was.."listen old man. my kid is getting married and you're going , so man up and get your boney butt in the car"

we started the process of helping him adjust to our home,get our clothes and shoes and making centerpieces and placecards ( oh yeah,,didn't i tell you?) and then, i lost my job.

it's funny how much you learn about yourself when everything seems to fall apart and you feel like you have no way to stop the free fall that you find yourself in. i learned that i could manage, i could survive, and that the man that i live with, paul, is the one true constant in my life. he is calm when i'm screaming and weeping. he is wise when i think there are no solutions to the latest crisis, he makes me laugh when i'm scared to death..and helps me thru the firestorm.

so i sit here watching my oldest son put a ring on the hand of this incredible girl he's chosen to spend his life with, and i dance with him to "your mother should know" at the reception, getting a stiff neck as i try to look up at him, this beautiful man that i carried in my arms 28 years ago, and i watch my younger son, his best man, speak of him with humor and eloquence and so much love, and i think of my late husband , so sad that he can't share this unspeakable joy , and paul sits at my side, and i'm so happy that i can share this moment with someone that i adore who loves me..and for the first time that i can remember in my life, i am totally in the moment, and it's exquisite, better than a dream, better than anything you can imagine. my son got married, and i didn't cry. i was too happy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

strange days indeed

i have had a job since i was 16 years old.

i started out babysitting, summer counsler-ing, face painting , and then entered the working world when i was 19. i was lucky to always have a job in the art field, except for the short time at the video store when my kids were little and my husband was back at school to become a teacher (i screwed up the register so bad that i was banned from taking money..but famous people came in all the fave customer was andy warhol...really!), and the job at the american red cross, calling 125 people a day, begging them to give blood..sort of like a televampire.

eleven years ago, right after my husband pete passed away unexpectedly, i got a job at a retail baby store, handpainting gift items and furniture..i loved that job at first. it saved me at a time when i would have curled up into a fetal position to avoid the pain and loss. my kids were both leaving for college and i was alone for the first time in almost 18 years. it was important to belong somewhere and be good at something and i poured my heart into building up the business ..people would call up and ask for the "pig lady"..(because i painted piggy banks..come on , behave).and for many years, things were peaceful in my little kingdom.all of us there felt like we were part of a family, we shared each other's happiness and saddness. i made money for the company, the company was happy.

and then things changed...the company was purchased by a bigger company and satan's daughter became the manager. suddenly "corporate" became the important word.. satan's daughter and her evil henchman, "wonky" made it clear that saying "good morning" or asking how someone's weekend had been, was stealing time from the more chit chat, no more celebrating birthday's no more caring about each other.

i don't know if you've ever worked in a retail is the equivilant of hell ..cranky, irritable people that have no other outlet see the poor fools in their blue/black/red shirts/khaki/black pants (pick one combo) and take their anger and frustration out on them.."are you an idiot?" "are you deaf" "get me the manager". and my personal favorite "i'm calling corporate"..ring out at the cash registers across the world, as people try to hold on to jobs that they don't really want.

and so, a few weeks ago, satan's daughter and her boss "toupee". called me in and told me that they were closing the art service and letting me go....and my reaction amazed me...i was thrilled and excited and scared to death, but so ready to go.

wednesday was my last day of work at a nine to five job...and even tho i had promised my friends that when i left, i would burn that blue shirt in the parking was more fun to take it off and throw it in the garbage, along with the khaki pants and unhappiness they symbolized.

and now i work for myself and i like my boss a lot! she's really nice and i can have coffee whenever i want at my desk, and sing along to the radio, and even though the hours are longer and the financial situation is shaky, i wouldn't change this for the world. i can wear any color shirt i want.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time is on my side..yes it is

every year at this time, i get all philisophical and introspective..most people make resolutions on new years eve..not me..i do it on my birthday.
most of the time, no matter how reasonable i try to be in my expectations, i fall short of the goals. but this past year was wonderful. my goal was to create original art for my online shop..i did the first piece on my birthday last year, and then i couldn't stop drawing. i think i've been more creative at this moment in my life than at any other time..amazing.

it's funny how you don't realize the passage of time..a day, an hour, 30 years, and it always seems like yesterday. my oldest son , josh who is 28, is getting married this summer...but i feel like it was just last year that i went to woodstock with my friends . i have a theory that you kind of get stuck in a particular age in your head and for your whole life, that's how you see yourself, mentally. i don't mean that you act that just feel that age, and for me, that's a good thing. i got "stuck " at 25..when i look in the mirror..i see a leslie that's funky and slightly wild and who enjoys her life with the enthusiasm of a 25 year old about to conquer the world. in spite of the challenges and sadness that i've faced, i still get up every day excited about the possibilities ahead of me. when i was 25, i was insecure and unsure of hair was" too curly", i was" too short," i wasn't a "good enough artist", ..i could go on for ever..BUT as i started to experience life and started to see myself thru other's people 's eyes, i began to accept myself and here i am. today as i sit here, i feel strong and positive, and beautiful and tall enough.

every day, every birthday brings a new chance to get where we need to be, to achieve our goals , to feel good.. and so, i wish a happy birthday to everyone.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Going to great lengths

I love doing murals. You're faced with this enormous blank wall, kinda like a giant piece of paper and you get to draw on it! And you don't get yelled at (like i did when i was little!LOL!) AND you get paid for it!! But the best part is the reaction when i finish..if i'm lucky (and thankfully , that's usually the case) I manage to "see " what my client "sees" in their mind, and i transform the room into the place that they dreamt of.

Sometimes, a client doesn't have the space or budget for a mural..or they don't intend to stay in their apartment or home very long, so they aren't willing to make that investment, but they want to make their child's nursery or new room special. That's when i suggest a custom canvas. Canvases can be any size..from 3 ,small,themed 8 x 10' a lion, giraffe and elephant to match the bedding..or a rectangular 4 foot by 8 foot with a name and custom design like princess or sports fanatic (Yankees? Red Sox?..Yankees AND Red SOX? haha, you say? don't laugh!! i did that recently for a couple that had me do one of each for both sides of the room, with logos, bat, ball, jersey ,glove and hats..then i suggested that they start saving for their son's therapist..LOL!!)
Last summer i was commissioned by a lovely couple to do an enormus canvas with an animal jungle theme, and the child's name.."Ryan" with snakes and parrots intertwined on it..and it was fantastic!! They lived in NYC and coz i'm just sooo nice, i offered to bring it to their home on the east side when it was complete. I drove over the bridge, seat dancing to my tunes and as i got on the FDR, i noticed that my thermostat was in the red zone..and i started to panic!! i remembered that if you turn up the heat in your car, the car might not overheat and stop, so, in 85 degrees, i turned my heat on and all the way up, and opened both of my windows, all the way down..and the drivers side window fell out of the track and out of the car!! I'm in traffic that's moving kinda fast and i can't stop and i'm screaming and driving and i look out of my rear view and i see cars swerving around this window (if you've ever been on any highway in NYC, you know, you can't stop..they'll just run you down!) so i keep going and i have the heat on, and i have REALLY curly hair and i have ALOT of REALLY curly hair and between the open window and the heat on in the car, when i got to this couple's aprtment, i looked like an insane person (well, more than i usually do..). The doorman kind of insisted that he'd get one of them to come down, rather than have me go up. And they did, and took the painting and oohed and aahhed over it and moved away from me very quickly and went inside.
Going home back over the bridge was kind of interesting riding thru a wind tunnel..i swear that i felt the G force..maybe that's why people say i don't look my age..hmmm...
If you decide on a canvas, just let me know..i'd love to paint one for you. But i probably won't deliver it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the gifts in our lives

Most of my posts lately are about creating and being an artist .
But today i've been lucky enough to have an experience that reminded me that there are things and people in your life that have such a profound effect on you , that you have to acknowledge them.
We take so much of the bad news and sorrow in life as commonplace, that the good things seem to fade into the background. When someone acts simply out of the kindness and good in their nature, it should be celebrated and told to everyone that will listen!
I had an experience like that today. Someone who has not known me very long and has never met me personally , treated me with such generosity and love today that it was extraordinary .She didn't do it for the thanks or the "karma".She said that she'd been so blessed that she wanted to be able to share her good fortune.And it moved me to tears..and it made me realize that we don't know how lucky we are or how the people we know care about us, want us to be happy, want to help and make a difference in our lives.
I won't spoil her gesture by using her name here..that's not how she meant it. But i will promise that when i am similarly blessed and have an opportunity to impact someone's life simply by acting on a good impulse, i will do it without hesitation, in her good name. And my hope is , that everyone that reads this will do something for someone else, simply for the joy of it. Here's to my angel.. you know who you are and i thank you with all of my heart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Decorating your kid's's child's play!

So you read the title and you're thinking "yeah , sure..if it's so easy..YOU do it!"

well, actually, i do....I've been painting murals in kids' rooms for a long, long time..since dinosaurs roamed the earth! And i handpaint all kinds of accessories for kids' rooms as well as creating art prints for trust me..i've got you covered!
The main thing to remember is that your child's room is a fluid, everchanging reflection of who she /he is becoming. They have very distinct likes and favorites just like we do..although i can't imagine anyone of us wanting "barney" on the wall.

When most parents start out decorating the nursery, they usually coordinate EVERYTHING around the bedding set, not realizing that in about 18-36 months, they've got to upgrade to a big kid bed and real sheets..and that's when it gets weird! Your little one has become fixated on Elmo, or Dora or Disney Princesses or (insert character here)! And just as quickly as they love that special "someone", it changes again! I usually advise parents that want a "Winnie the Pooh"mural or "Diego " or "Shrek 3" to consider how quickly their child will outgrow's usually better to choose a theme that little tootsie can grow sports , or flowers or pick a color scheme that you love and change the theme every few years by changing the items in the room (quick plug for my shop..piggy banks, frames, growth charts, bookends...ok, ok.

Yes, i've done elaborate, expensive Disney murals and themes from "Dr.Suess" to "Star Wars" ..but cars and trucks, transportation, ballet, planets,even the beach tend to have more longevity and will give you creative pleasure each time you make a change to accomodate your maturing child.
In all probability, if you take your time figuring out how you want to decorate the room, you'll get some mileage out of your theme befiore your toddler turns into a pre puberty goth - loving baby teen that paints the wall black and won't let you in the room ( it's probably for the best).
No matter which direction you choose, have some fun and imagine who your child will be..and remember who you were when you were little..what did you want to be when you grew up?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why i draw and draw and draw......

I cannot have a piece of paper near me if i have a pen or pencil in my hand.
The need to cover that blank surface overwhelms me , like the need for chocolate or coffee or (insert your drug of choice here).
Amazingly, there's always something in my head that needs to come from my hand onto that beautiful, clean, waiting empty space.
This illustration is an example. I hadn't even thought about summer, hot dogs, laughing dogs, or chubby little kids eating too many apples, but there was the paper and zoom!! began.
I'm embarassed to tell you that "the Andy Griffith" show theme was on tv and the next thing i knew, there was an apple pie on the window sill (yeah, Aunt Bea's voice and kids' laughing = 4th of July) and a kid with his shirt up over his belly and a laughing dog and the other kids just miraculously appeared to join him,so that he wouldn't be alone.
I created this print just a short time ago, but so many people pre-ordered it that i decided to list it on Etsy and Artfire so that more people could enjoy it. I guess that it evokes a time that triggers good memories in people..a safer, gentler time when you could be goofy with your friends and smell an apple pie cooling on a window sill.
I'm just grateful that my art reaches an emotional place in people, cause it comes from an emotional place in me.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

slumping into the sunset

when you're in a slump, it ain't fun.

you're in a constant state of pissiness which leads to negativity, which leads to reading comix under the covers with a flashlight , watching movies that you've seen 8 or 9 times and eating way too many sweet and salty foods. somehow, it's comforting watching "silence of the lambs"over and over (yeah, this slump is getting to me clarisse.. i think i need some fava beans and a nice chianti..)

on friday, i made up my mind that i would create a new piece of art this weekend. i have a folder filled with half sketched ideas, new characters, fully realized illustrations, all patiently waiting for their turn to come to life...and here it is sunday and the folder is just where it was last week..waiting. sometimes the only way to be creative is to take a break from creating.

i'll allow myself another night of chips, both potato and chocolate..and another round of "romancing the stone" or "goodfellas"..and tomorrow..well scarlett, "fiddledeedee!i'll break this slump, or die trying"...cue music from "gone with the wind" as i stand on a hill with my 16 inch waist, skirt blowing in the wind....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

feeling like spring

i love the way this day feels. every year, there's one day when you know that winter is over. yeah, it might snow again, and it's raining like mad outside, BUT!! winter is over.

i always wonder why i live in the northeast, coz i hate the cold so much , but it's where my family started out...i grew up in brooklyn and spent a long time in new york was great being a teenager and then being in my 20's in the late 60's (i know, you might think i'm old now, but in my head and my heart i'll always be 25). my friends and i used to take the bmt subway line to the village and hang out near the cafe wha and bleeker street. bob dylan bummed cigarettes off me and we used to sit outside with the lovin spoonful, listening to new songs, new sounds. the early concert at the fillmore turned into the late concert on the nights when the grateful dead played and i saw led zeppelin and janis joplin in their first concerts in new york..and those nights, hangin out, walking around like we owned the world, it felt like know those nights when the air is real still, and you can smell the leaves starting to bloom on the trees and the stars are in a sky so clear , you can count them.
it feels like that today..the promise of a beautiful day, a new season, new surprises...maybe tonight, i'll put on some music and bring the past to the present and dance with my man under the stars. peace

Friday, February 26, 2010


well...i'm stunned that i've been away from these pages since november.. i'm overwhelmed by guilt..feeling like a really bad could i abandon my blog, barely a year old? just leave it to sit, alone , unattended, unloved, like a baby bird waiting for it's mother to come back?

there are no excuses..i've been working hard , building my business on and off etsy, and the holidays brought a great deal of work, for which i'm very grateful..but this blog is special to me..a creative outlet for ideas and hopes and dreams. my blog doesn't judge me.. it waits , patiently,always welcoming, just lets me be who i am..impulsive, imaginative, slightly crazy and always, always trying to be a better person.

and so, blog, i am sorry for leaving you for so long . i will try to treat you with the respect and love you deserve in this relationship. i promise to fill you with interesting thoughts and witty observations, and feed and water you. because i need you and i've missed you. please take me back, love leslie