Painting with Children


I once read an article that stated (to paraphrase), “every preschool child can dance, sing and paint. It’s only later in life that our inner critic takes over.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “I can’t sing,” I’d be a wealthy woman. Of course, it didn’t help when, years ago, I was placed in the front row at the sorority sing and told, “Move your mouth. Don’t sing.”  Ouch!

My granddaughter, Elise is four (four and a half, thank you!) and she believes she can do it all. She may never come in first on The Voice, but she sings all the time. It’s never occurred to her that there is a rating scale. She believes she’s terrific. She’s also a terrific dancer—just ask her. Never mind that half her dance troop fell down on stage at their last recital. She’s quick to point out that she remained standing. The fallen rose to their feet amid tremendous applause, and every child wore a radiant smile. After all, they got the biggest hand of the afternoon.

Elise is also an accomplished artist—of this she is certain. She once drew a picture of herself as a baby inside her mother’s stomach and asserted, “I’m really good at drawing me inside mommy’s tummy.”  When we are painting together, she frequently announces, “This will be a masterpiece.” Once, when she drew a few pictures at my house, I asked her, “Do you want to take them home or hang them here.” She gave me a steely stare and replied, “Hang them at the gallery.” She was referring to the Cloverdale Art Gallery where I am a resident artist. She visits there with her parents from time to time. I need to know when they’re planning a visit so I can tape those pictures to the wall.

IMG_2247 Continue reading


Being Grumpy—The Story That Can Never Be Published

Recently, I entered a fan fiction writing contest. Being new to the genre, I told a familiar story from a different viewpoint, instead of telling a completely different story using a familiar literary character.  I did not win the contest, but my writers critique group loved the story and advised, “You should submit it somewhere.” There was only one problem. I had written the story of Snow White using Grumpy’s voice. The story of Snow White is public domain, the names Disney created for the seven dwarves are not. I have two choices—risk bringing down the long legal arm of the Disney Company, or rename the dwarves. As a parody, it seemed weaker with unfamiliar names. Hoping to retain the original names, I looked for a possible legal loophole. In doing so, I learned that a pantomime version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which hit the stage at UK’s Albert Hall in 2008, used different names to avoid copyright infringement. There was one exception— Sneezy was allowed to keep his name  because Disney failed to copyright it. However, the producers weren’t taking any chances. The other dwarves were renamed Goody, Loopy, Lazy, Growler, Noisy and Shabby.

In 2012, the TV series, Once Upon a Time, used Disney’s names for the dwarves, seemingly without legal repercussions.  I wondered, “Was a precedent set?” Unfortunately, for me, the answer is “no.” Once Upon A Time debuted on ABC, a Disney company.

Still hopeful, I researched “Legal Issues with Fan Fiction” on the internet. I found that fan fiction is not an infringement if it constitutes fair use of the underlying copyrighted work, but fair use is a grey area. Works of fiction are more likely to constitute fair use if they are “transformative” with respect to the original work, if they are non-commercial, if they appropriate relatively little of the original work, and/or they do not tend to detract from the potential market for or value of the original work.

In publishing my story on a blog with very limited readership (at this time), my usage is non-commercial. It certainly will not detract from the potential market for or value of the original work. So, am I safe?

Unsure, I located Disney’s legal department on-line, the one that deals with copyright issues. I filled out all the information required (which included the story and its intended usage) and submitted it. I expected a definitive answer—yes or no. Instead, I received a polite letter advising me to see a copyright lawyer. I asked a lawyer friend of mine why Disney’s legal department put me through all the bureaucratic paperwork without giving me a definitive answer. He replied that they didn’t want to risk setting a precedent. Paying hundreds of dollars to determine if I can post the story on my not-for-profit, personal blog isn’t a good use of my money. So, with no intention to defraud and a burning desire to share my story, I am posting it here with new names.

Originally titled “Being Grumpy,” the new title is “Being Grouchy.” Monikers for the other dwarves are now Brainy, Dippy, Burpee, Cheerful and Shy. Sneezy retains his moniker. If you mentally substitute mentally Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy and Bashful, who could blame you? 😜

  Being Grouchy

I admit I was not in favor of asking her to stay. My brothers outvoted me. She was always singing, and those damn birds were always flying around the cottage, tweeting along, leaving their droppings everywhere. If she hadn’t been such a good housekeeper, I never would have put up with it. Women!

I never did set much store by women. My mother died when I was six, and we all did fine without her—my brothers, my father and I. Oh, Dippy tears up whenever one of us mentions her. Don’t understand why. He was only a baby when she died. He doesn’t remember her at all, although he’s the one who killed her—him and Brainy. Twins. Complicated birth. She died. They lived.

Some folks wonder why none of us ever married—seven grown men living together in a cottage in the woods. If it seems a little odd, think about it. Our names should give you a clue.

Shy turns an alarming shade of red if he even thinks about a girl.

Sneezy’s allergies get in the way. Imagine him closing in for a first kiss and, “Achooo,” he blows the poor girl across the porch. “

Snoozey can’t stay awake long enough to close the deal. Oh, he’s OK in the mine as long as we keep him upright, swinging a pick or hammer. The rest of the time we can’t take him anywhere. He snores.

The twins aren’t exactly chick magnets either. When they were born, I figure there wasn’t enough of everything to split two ways. Brainy got all the smarts. When he’s not working, he’s got his nose buried in a book. Dippy is all heart but, truth be told, his head seems a bit small for the rest of him. He gets lost a lot. We have to watch him.

That leaves Cheerful and me. I already told you, I got no use for women. As for Cheerful, he’ll go along with anything, including living in a little house with six other guys. Sometimes I just want to wipe that smile off his face. No one should be that happy all the time. But, overall, we’ve always gotten along just fine. Then, she shows up and turns everything tipsy-topsy.

One of us always builds a fire when we get home. There’s never smoke in the daytime. So, when I saw smoke pouring out of the chimney, I thought our place was on fire. Then, “Dang!” when I opened the door, someone had cleaned the whole house. I haven’t seen my best pipe since. Later, when I asked “you-know-who” about it, she acted all innocent, but she was always harping on how smoking is bad for you. I know she hid it. Danged if she didn’t! When I tried to find out where it was, she just smiled and shrugged and started singing about her prince. I seez to myself, “You can sing all you want, but your prince is never going to find you way out here.”

Anyway, after the smoke, and the cleaning, there was that smell—someone left food simmering on the hearth. Who was cooking in my kitchen? I always cook the dinner. Of course, I didn’t know, then, that it was her that lit the fire, and hid my pipe, and did the cooking—not yet. But someone was mucking around in my house and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. Naturally, Cheerful was delighted with all the changes; didn’t even care who did it. Everybody blathered about how nice everything looked, and how great dinner smelled.

I let them have it. “We’ve got an intruder and all you can think about is dinner. Suppose this is bad magic. Suppose the evil queen is behind this. Maybe she wants the gold from our mine.”

That shut everybody up. Poor Dippy’s knees were knocking.

“Let’s go upstairs,” seez I, “and see what mischief is going on up there.”

Tip-toeing up the stairs, we huddled together at the top. Our beds stood in a line, their covers neatly tucked, except for mine. Someone was in it—Snow White! Dang, she was pretty.

It must have been a shock for her, waking up to see seven men, faces blackened from working in the mine, hovering around her bed.  I have to give her credit; she didn’t bat an eyelash.

  “Oh, hello! Why it’s seven little men. I thought, from the size of everything, that children lived here.”

I found her comment to be incredibly insensitive, but there were my brothers, beaming at her. Shy was the color of a fire hydrant.

Of course, we heard the whole heartrending story: evil queen, murderous huntsman, frenzied flight through the dark forest, trees ripping at her clothes—a very dramatic rendition. They should make a movie.

My brothers lapped it up like a bunch of starving kittens. She had them wrapped around her little finger, but not me. “Women is trouble,” I warned. Nobody listened.

“My goodness, I’ve slept so long, it must be dinner time. The table is set, and food is ready, but you really must wash up before you eat. Why look at you; you’re all dirty!”

First, I’m “little,” then I’m “dirty.” She really knew how to hurt a guy. I had a mind to skip dinner and show her. Sitting in a corner, arms crossed, I glared at everyone. I was making a point, although nobody seemed to notice. It was my stomach that finally did me in; it began to growl. Only one way to shut it up. I washed.

Later that night, Snow White slept in my bed again while I ended up sleeping with Cheerful. I knew he was the only one who wouldn’t mind.

I finally made Snow White her own bed. No big deal. I just wanted my own bed back. That’s all. But she had to make a big thing out of it.

“Oh, Grouchy, thank you. It’s beautiful!”

She actually tried to kiss my forehead. Women!

Things settled into a routine. Sneezy kept sneezing. The fact that Snow White kept bringing in all those dang flowers didn’t help. Shy blushed every time Snow White looked in his direction. Brainy read on and on. Snoozy took his usual nap before bedtime. Dippy followed Snow White around the house like a puppy.  Cheerful was his usual annoying self, and I grumbled a bit less than usual. Snow White kept the house spotless, while the smell of cakes and pies filled the air.

We all thought Snow White would be safe with us. We didn’t know about the queen’s magic mirror. Still, it was rumored that the queen practiced witchcraft. Brainy advised Snow White to be cautious.

“My dear, the world is a dark place. Lock the door when we are gone and don’t open it to anyone until we return.”

She promised, but I never placed no store in a woman’s promise. You all know what happened—thanks to that infernal mirror, the Queen found her.


“Even the mightiest finally fall,

            Snow White’s still fairest of them all.

            She dwells within a forest glen,

            the guest of seven little men.”


            There was a terrible storm on that fateful day.  It intensified as we neared home. I was looking toward our warm cottage, anxious to dry myself before the fire. It was then that I saw it—a shape, dark and tattered like some devilish bird of prey—racing away from our house.

“The queen,” I screamed over the wind. “It must be the queen in disguise. After her—before she gets away!”

We gave chase, picks and shovels in the air as the wind and rain intensified. She lost her way in the storm and found herself cornered on a precipice high above the raging river. Looking more hag-like than queenly, she turned toward us to reveal a face turned green by envy. Then, raising her wand in a final act of vengeance, she called down the wrath of heaven itself. Heaven answered. A lightning bolt hit the wand and it, and she, exploded—gone in an instant.

I was the one who found Snow White. She lay crumpled on the floor, her skin as pale as her name. Just beyond her fingertips was the apple, perfect except for one small bite. It had been enough.

I was the one who laid Snow White upon her bed, the bed I made for her, while my brothers knelt and prayed to no avail. She was gone.

Days passed. Still, she looked as fresh as a rose just plucked from the garden. We could not bear to put her in the ground. She was too beautiful. And, so, we fashioned a coffin out of glass and placed her in the clearing just beyond our home—a home that, despite seven little men, suddenly seemed empty.

News spread throughout the kingdom of the beautiful maiden, changeless in the sleep of death. Many came to pay tribute. After all, she had been a princess.  It was not surprising that, eventually, a prince actually came. Despite my dire prediction, one had found her after all. He was young and handsome, and he gazed at her with terrible longing.

“She is so lovely. I cannot bear to leave her side. Let me carry Snow White to my kingdom. My life is forfeit to her beauty. I shall treasure her as long as I live.”

“Sire, here she lived, and here she died, and here she shall remain with those who loved her in life.” (Brainy always had a way with words.)

“Then grant me one kiss before I leave, one kiss to remember always.”

We all nodded our consent, even me. Emboldened, the Prince opened the coffin and bestowed a kiss on lips, slightly parted, as if they had been waiting for just such a moment. He kissed her tenderly, stood slowly, backed away reluctantly.

I saw it all—the kiss, the faint rise of her chest, the flush of color in her cheeks. I had never been a believer in all that “love’s first kiss” baloney. I was wrong. Snow White lives!

We knew Snow White was never meant to spend her life in a cottage in the woods with seven dwarves. A princess deserves a prince. Still, we were sad to see her go—yes, even me. Before she left, she thanked us all, kissing each upon the head with a promise to visit in the spring. I was last in line. When she came to me, she knelt down and whispered, “In the end, you who found it hard to love, loved the hardest.” She held me a moment before she kissed me.

Dang, I turned pinker than a peony. Women!


My Artist Date with Myself

There was a time when my inner critic accosted me daily with taunts of not being good enough, creative enough, etc., etc. Enter Julia Cameron to the rescue with her book, The Artist’s Way. I joined an artist empowerment group and we diligently read her book, completed the exercises and consistently used her basic tools for recovery—morning pages and the artist’s date. Together, they work like this: “It is a two-step, directional process: out and then in. Doing your morning pages, you are sending—notifying yourself and the universe of your dreams, dissatisfactions, hopes. Doing your artist date, you are receiving—opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”

So, what exactly is an artist date? It’s not dinner and a movie with a fellow artist. It’s a few hours set aside each week to take your inner child/artist on a date to someplace that gets your creative juices flowing. It might be a museum. It might, also, be a trip to the beach or an exploration of local junk shops. It is a solo excursion—only you and your inner artist.

While I have recently reintroduced morning pages into my schedule, I hadn’t consciously recommitted to the artist date. Then, miraculously, I found myself on one today, and it really did get my creative juices flowing. You learn a lot on your artist dates—what you like, what you don’t like. You also find artistic inspiration in likely, and highly unlikely locations.

This morning, I went to the Redwood Writers Academy workshop at the Flamingo Hotel in
Santa Rosa—PR for Authors: It’s Not Just Free Advertising. Now, I’m not sure that part of my day counts as an artist date. I did arrive alone, but there were other people in attendance, and it was interactive at times. However, I left with some great ideas and a renewed desire to get my “stuff” out there. I’m a writer/artist/teacher, so I’ve got a lot of “stuff.”

As I left, I saw someone from the workshop pick up a copy of Valley of the Moon Magazine in the hotel lobby. I followed suit. Wow! How did I not know about this magazine? I sat in my car in the hotel parking lot and read it from front to back. But what really caught my eye was the cover art. The illustration was one of the best dog portraits I’ve ever seen. Inside the magazine was an article on the artist, John Sumner. Check out his website. I did. It reminded me that the most important thing in any portrait—animal or human—is not being photo perfect, but in catching some quintessential inner quality of the subject. That’s a good thing to remember. I thought about that, today, when I received some good news. One of my paintings was accepted for the upcoming Animalia show at the Healdsburg Art Center. I had submitted several. The one I thought was most masterful in terms of execution was not accepted. It was my whimsical orangutan that won their hearts, just as John Sumner’s dog won mine.

My artist date was now in full swing. There was a commercial venue in the hotel’s main ballroom.  I decided to walk through. It was a cornucopia of products: clothing, jewelry, housewares, technology, publishers and more. Nothing really captivated me until I reached the back of the hall. There was the most enchanting array of birdbaths and garden art made out of old plates and cups and sundry other objects from estate sales and thrift shops.  Glass shimmered under the lights, drawing people in. I bought a birdbath. In my excitement, I exited with the prized birdbath, but without my notes from the workshop or my magazine. After driving all the way home, I realized what I had done. Now, you may think I was upset, but the truth is, I’m glad it happened. On my way back to the hotel, I decided that I wanted to feature Billie’s Garden Art on my blog. Her pieces are unique and her prices, ranging from $25 to $40, are more than reasonable. I took a few photos of Billie’s work (with her permission). I’m posting them here because her work delights me. Billie sells through art fairs and from her Santa Rosa studio. See Billie’s Garden Art on Facebook. Give her a call at 707-303-6867 or email Billie at 

Today was a very good day. I retrieved my notes. I now have an artful addition to my yard that will, hopefully, please the birds as much as it pleases me. I was inspired by a painter of dogs and cats. I networked with a fellow writer at the workshop who, like me, is interested in publishing stories about special needs children. I also have a reasonable “to do” list in regard to advertising my work, plus a list of helpful resources. It all inspired me to write this blog.  Remember, when considering an artist date—creativity is contagious.



Reflections On Turning A Year Older

Given the topic, this poem of mine seemed to be a fitting opening…

      The seeker within

     yearns for enlightenment;

     longs to soldier on

     and see the face of God.

     Reverse is not an option,

    but if it were,

     I might tarry a bit…

     postpone my appointment

     with the infinite

     to deck myself in finery once again,

     drink champagne from crystal flutes,

     share slick and salty tastes

     with handsome men who call me “Sugar.”

     I would reclaim taut skin, firm arms and thighs.

     Truck drivers could leer and whistle.

     This time I would simply laugh,

     glad to be back again, young and juicy.

     I would not sell my soul to make it so,

     but I would think on it.

I celebrated my birthday last week. I don’t feel a year older. In fact, I don’t feel old at all, but since I qualify for senior discounts, I am—in the minds of many—old. Vanity being what it is
(or denial), I never ask for the senior discount. It’s rarely offered, When it is, I’m miffed. Hey, if I want it, I’ll ask. I know—crazy!

On the bright side, I am feeling very “loved up.” Over the course of three days I received congratulatory phone calls,  birthday cards, and ecards. I’ve been feted at two lunches and a dinner. A gorgeous bouquet of roses still resides in my living room—the gift of a good friend. I  spent quality time with my youngest son over a cocktail at a local bistro. Having one-on-one time with him is a rare treat. Later, my daughter-in-law prepared us a wonderful meal. The cherry on top—my granddaughter. She called on my birthday to sing a truly rousing version of Happy Birthday to You. Four is a wonderful age. Maybe every age is wonderful, in some way, as long as you have your health. I am grateful for mine.

Being celebrated on my birthday is great. Nevertheless, once one reaches a certain age, intimations of mortality begin to creep in. I have so much I still want to do. I ask myself, “Do I have enough time to do it all?” The answer is, “Probably not.” I will always have one more item on my “to do” list. I’m thinking that’s probably a good thing. Engagement with the things we love keeps us young at heart.

My grandmother lived to be one-hundred. Shortly before that momentous birthday I asked her, “Nana, what’s it like to live to be one-hundred?”

“Well, I’ll tell you,” she replied, “it’s kind of like living on death row.”

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that, but I understood. You never know when they’re coming for you. However, isn’t that true at any age? Nana did, however, have a more upbeat follow-up. ”I’m grateful for the extra time I’ve had to read and do my writing.”

My grandmother was an avid reading and an aspiring writer. I have notebooks full of her poems, a few yellowing newspaper pages containing a prize-winning Christmas story, and several magazines containing her published stories. I’m sure Nana’s passion for writing helped fuel mine.

Last night, over dinner with friends, we got into a discussion about ghosts (believe or not), psychic phenomena, and what becomes of the soul after death. Light dinner conversation! While postulating that reincarnation was a lot fairer than “you’ve got one shot at getting it right,” I was rebuffed with the statement that,  “Life is not fair, and humans build a lot of constructs to make them feel more important than they really are”—a sobering viewpoint. After discussing quantum physics, energy beings, karma and more, we were left with no definitive answers and, roughly, the same viewpoints we arrived with—from my agnostic friend  who believes in little, to my psychic friend who believes in almost everything. I tend to lean in the latter direction. I remain open to possibilities. I am like the man who decided to believe in angels because he knew that was the only way he would ever have a chance of seeing one.

We posed a lot of interesting questions over that dinner. I’m OK not having conclusive answers. Here’s what I do know: I am aging. One day I will die. I am here now. I am blessed in so many ways. Carpe diem! Happy birthday!



Setting Intentions vs. Resolutions

Three days into the new year, I woke up contemplating the difference between making resolutions versus setting intentions. Intuitively, I felt there was a difference between the two. Making a resolution seemed harsher, somehow—a set-up for failure. After all, I just read that the success rate for resolutions is only 8%. A 92% failure rate is bound to generate a lot of guilt and self-loathing. Setting an intention seemed like a gentler route, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. So, I typed in “Intention vs. Resolution” on old Google, and quickly learned that I am not the first person to explore the topic. There are a slew of excellent articles asserting that setting intentions is a gentler, more successful route to reaching one’s goals. After reading three or four, I decided there was no need for me to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I invite you to check out the following articles, all of which make compelling arguments regarding the power of intention.

If you took the time to explore any of these sites, you are probably ready to join me in setting a new year’s intention or two. Before you do, give it some thought. Rest with it. Meditate on it. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?”

One of the most common (and least successful) resolutions involves losing weight. Instead of resolving to lose ten pounds, set an intention to live a healthier life style. Think about what that means to you. For example, making healthier food choices or finding time to incorporate regular walking into your schedule.

Intentions simply ask that we go through our day, hour-by-hour, being as mindful, conscious, aware and awake as we are able to be in any given moment.

Here are my intentions for 2019…

 • I intend to live a kinder, more compassionate life. Reminding myself of this intention every day, I am guided to treat everyone I meet with kindness and respect.

• I intend to nurture my creativity. By setting aside time to write and paint I find joy in the creative process, and in sharing my creativity with others.

 I’m not aware of my highest intentions in every moment. So, I’ve posted mine in my home as gentle reminders. The first intention is posted on my back door. It’s a reminder, every time I leave the house, to spread more joy through kindness.

Since I’ve identified television as my greatest “time-suck,” I’ve posted my intention to be more creative right next to my TV screen, a reminder that my time might be better spent elsewhere.

What are your intentions for the new year? Comments?


Just picked up my email and received a message from the de Young and Legion of Honor museums titled New Year’s Resolution: See More Art. That’s one resolution I’m happy to support. Check out what’s happening at both museums in the new year. Set an intention to support the arts in 2019: visual arts, literature, music, dance, theater.

 “The arts are what makes life worth living. You’ve got food, you’ve got shelter, yeah. But the things that make you laugh, make you cry, make you connect—make you love— are communicated through the arts. They aren’t extras.” —Barack Obama


The Art of the Nonprofit

Supporting the Arts in Sonoma County…

Years ago I promised myself,”Someday I will move to an artist community.” One morning I sat up in bed and asked myself, “Where would I go that offered more opportunities and support for artists than the place where I already lived?” My answer was, “Nowhere!”  Sonoma County, California, is a mecca for local artists.

Sonoma County offers a wide array of private galleries catering to a variety of tastes, styles and mediums, as well as a number of artist co-ops. But, today, I am putting my spotlight on the regional non-profits supporting the arts:

Sebastopol Center for the Arts

“Enriching Lives Through the Arts”

Sebastopol Center for the Arts is a dynamic community arts organization committed to cultivating creativity and inspiration.  For over 30 years, SCA has been a destination for artists and arts enthusiasts. Its award winning programs provide ways to experience and explore culture through diverse forms of creative expression.

Since its inception in 1988, Sebastopol Center for the Arts has grown to be one of the most vibrant arts organizations in Sonoma County as well as Northern California.  Dedicated to offering high quality arts programming for all, it serves as a platform for local, regional, national and international artists, musicians, filmmakers and writers.  Visit the Members Show 2018—now through January 4, 2019. While you’re there, look for my mixed media piece, VerKlimpt.  Visit on-line at

Santa Rosa Arts Center

Formerly Chroma Gallery

Since its inception in 2014, Chroma Gallery, located at 312 South A Street, has sponsored art shows, live music concerts, benefits, classes and much more. It became a hub for the South of A (SOFA) arts district, as well as a community art center, providing artists of many experience levels the opportunity to exhibit their work in a formal gallery setting

In 2018, Chroma Gallery transitioned to the Santa Rosa Arts Center, an arts and education institution with exhibits, classes, musical performances and events. Art shows and classes will utilize the gallery and backyard areas at 312. SRAC is partnering with other spaces and venues in Santa Rosa for classes, workshops and special events. On display now—Small Works, through January 19. Zebra lovers, look for my two entries, Calm and Up Close and Personal. For hours and further information go to

Cloverdale Arts Alliance Gallery

“To Promote the Arts In Sonoma County”

The Cloverdale Arts Alliance (CAA) has enriched the communities of Northern Sonoma by providing year round events, classes, and exhibits for fourteen years.  From Discovering Art to THE Jazz Club to the Gallery, Music Workshops to Friday Night Live, CAA has always sought to bring a full range of artistic experiences to our community.

The Gallery is operated by local artists as a Cloverdale Arts Alliance program. A wide variety of original artwork is offered by the resident artists and invited guests. For the past three years I have been fortunate to be one of the Gallery’s resident artists. Approximately six changing exhibitions a year feature new art. Next New Art Exhibition Opens January 19.To see a virtual tour of the gallery, click here. For further information and hours of operation go to

Healdsburg Center for the Arts

“Creating, Inspiring, and Promoting the Arts”


In 2010 Plaza Arts became Healdsburg Center for the Arts (HCA) and has gradually expanded the programs to include a gift area of artisan made work; growing the education program to include a mentoring program for artists, ongoing art instruction, after school programs and a six week Summer Art Camp; and expanding the exhibitions with a nationwide call for artists for one exhibit a year. One of the most popular exhibitions is the Young Artist Show, featuring works from ten area elementary schools, as well as the HCA youth education program.  In 2016, over 410 young people had their art on display for the month long exhibit. The Annual 2019 Members Exhibit— January 5 through 27. For further information go to

The Occidental Center for the Arts

“Teach and Entertain Through Art”

The Occidental Center for the Arts provides diverse, high-quality arts and cultural events to western Sonoma County and the communities beyond. Housed in a newly remodeled performing venue with superb acoustics and an adjacent exhibition gallery, the OCA works to enrich the lives of local residents through diverse cultural performances, exhibitions, events and arts education that inspire, teach, and entertain. With up to six shows a year, it provides local artists the opportunity to showcase their work to the community with themes ranging from figure drawing to botanical appreciation to ocean themes, just to name a few. The current juried, all media exhibit runs November 24, 2018 through January 13, 2019.  http://www.occidentalcenterforthearts.or

For a list of Sonoma County galleries and a current event calendar visit:


Don’t Write Alone—Join a Support Group

In Sonoma County and the North Bay I recommend Redwood Writers

I’ve come out of blog hibernation to extol the benefits of joining a writer’s support group. Writing is a solitary occupation. The world of publishing is a formidable citadel—few scale its walls without assistance. Since joining Redwood Writers Club, I have found that assistance and so much more. With 300+ members, it is the largest branch of the California Writers Club, founded by Jack London and friends in 1909. Early honorary members included Jack London, George Sterling, John Muir, Joaquin Miller, and the first California poet laureate, Ina Coolbrith.

Whether you are a published author or have always wanted to write,                               there’s a place for you at Redwood Writers.

“Writers helping writers” is the club motto.

Our members are poets, journalists, essayists, technical writers, and creators of genre and literary fiction, as well as editors, booksellers and others involved in related fields. We have joined together based on the common goal of educating ourselves in the craft and art of writing, and to learn the realities of getting our work published.

I’ve been a member of Redwood Writers for about three years. During that time my work has been published in the California Writers Club Literary Review, appeared in four anthologies, and won two honorable mentions in writing contests. Had I not joined the Club, none of that would have happened. More importantly, I have formed friendships with people with whom I share similar interests and passions. I’ve been mentored by fabulous coaches, editors and supportive comrades.

Sometimes people explain, “I’m interested in joining the club at a later date, but I don’t want to do it until I’ve refined my story. It’s personal. I want to do it myself.”

This is what I want to tell everyone who thinks he or she can write the great American novel (or the perfect children’s book) totally alone—“You probably can’t. If you doubt me, look at the acknowledgements at the end of most books. The author had some form of support. Seek it out. That’s my advice. If you can’t find a club or critique group in your area, consider starting one yourself. But if you live in the North Bay, you’re in luck. A wonderfully supportive club is already in place.”

Perhaps the greatest gift in joining Redwood Writers Club has been my critique group. These women have become my friends and my trusted allies. They are always honest, and they are always kind. That’s a powerful combination. I am a better writer because of them.

Here’s another opportunity to hone your writing skills…sign up for Redwood Writers 2018 Conference, Pen to Published

Sign up while early bird pricing is in effect. Not a member? If you join now, you’ll save money on the conference…

The 2017 renewal period to become a member is over, but you are welcome to join at the HALF-YEAR DISCOUNT rate. If you do, you will be able to sign up for early bird conference pricing at member rates. You’ll have a club membership and be registered for Pen to Published at less than the conference cost for non-members.

 Example:  Half year membership – $42.50/Early Bird Conference fee for members – $95.00          • Non-member conference fee – $150   • Join now and save $12.50

Early Bird pricing ends February 16th. At that time, regular pricing becomes $135 for members and $175 for non-members. Register today!

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