Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Holidays!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah. Thank you for following my blog through the year. I wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Florence, Italy, anyone?

I've been kind of freaking out. I have made the commitment to teach 2 workshops in Europe this coming year. In fear that I've overcommitted myself, and that neither class would make, I've been paralyzed. But I'm beginning to think this is really going to happen.

In May, 2015, I am going to teach in Italy. The class is not full yet, but the spaces are filling. The 5 day class is limited to 10 students. We'll spend 13 days in a private villa in the Santa Croce section of Florence. We'll have 3 apartments so we will be 4 per apartment. Cafes and shops are right outside and it's only a 10 minute walk to the Accademia D'ARTE, where our class will be held. Check out the school:

This trip is being orchestrated by Debra and Ivano Zamperla, both talented artists, who have hosted several of my workshops in their home town, Ann Arbor, MI. Ivano is from Italy, and he knows his home well, so we'll be in good hands.

Here's Debra's description of what to expect when we're not working in the studio:
"We'll go to the medieval city of Siena because of the contrast with Florence. We'll tour the Duomo (other side of the river which isn't very touristy, but has the artisan shops and visit the artisans themselves with a demo of Luigi doing his gilding). We will go to the hilltown of Fiesole just above Florence (20 min bus) for it's fantastic view of Florence.

We will visit the Uffizi Museum (2-hour tour with a fantastic tour guide) followed by a 1-hour tour of the Medici's secret passageway from the Palazzo Vecchio (seat of govt) to their home in the Palazzo Pitti across the Arno. The passageway is lined with self-portraits of artists. We also visit the Accademia (which houses the original David and is not to be missed - it takes your breath away! One of the participants last year burst into tears at the sight of him. We'll have our fantastic tour guide Alexandra for this, too
On a separate day we visit the gallery and home of the Medici (Pitti Palace). In Siena we will visit various museums, also with our guide. Most of all - the Duomo there. 

We are trying to leave a little free time because one of the nicest things about being in Florence is strolling around. You need time to do it."

I've avoided writing about this because I couldn't get myself to believe it would actually happen. But I'm starting to believe it. This will be a wonderful trip. I'd better go out and get some Pimmsleur Language CD's for my car.

To get more details of the trip, go to:
To secure a place in my class or to be on her email list, contact Debra at

And I'll be returning in late August to teach at La Bonne Etoile, in Fontaine-Fourches, France. I'm so looking forward to seeing Kippy and Jerome again. It's like a second home to me now. I'll give you a chance to digest this post before I talk about that one.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm honored to have several paintings in this Fine Art Auction of over 180 paintings by Southeastern Impressionists, Plein Air and Contemporary Abstract artists.
Presented by The Lighthouse Auction Company in connection with Sumpter Gallery, there will be reception Friday, 10/24 at 7 pm in Madison, GA. Join us and see all the paintings on display. Then join us at the auction, which begins Saturday, 10/25 at 2:00 p.m. and will run through completion. You can also participate in the auction online. For auction info contact Dianne Lewis at
To view a catalog of the paintings (my work starts on page 98), visit
Lighthouse Auctions, 1410 Atlanta Hwy, Madison, GA, 30650

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Two Pizza Boxes.

A message to my Wednesday morning class: There were 2 small pizza boxes on my dining room table when I arrived home.

The rest of the story for the rest of you:
I live in southwest Atlanta, an area that not too long ago was notoriously crime-ridden; it's not the most desirable area of town today. But the neglected Craftsmen bungalows, generations-old shrubbery and huge beautiful trees suggest what the neighborhoods used to be way back when, and could be again.

This past Tuesday evening, after having been gone all day, I went to my mail box. There was a young African American girl passing by; she looked 16. She asked me if she could use my phone. She saw me hesitate and said she needed to call her mother; she couldn't get into their house down the street. I went into my house and returned with my iphone. I waited as she made several attempts to contact her mother. She left a message, handed the phone back to me and thanked me.

As I sat watching TV four hours later, around 10:00 p.m., I had a knock on my front door. There she was, asking to borrow my phone again. It was dark and cold, and she was shivering in her tank top. "Have you been waiting for your mother all this time?" I asked, astonished. She nodded yes. I let her into my house, let her make her phone calls, made her a cup of hot tea and some biscuits, and said she could wait here until her mother finally got home. Mother, of course, never got home and never returned the phone calls. She tried calling several other people and got the same results.

While we were waiting for someone to help out, I plied her with questions, as I always did with my own daughters' friends. Was she in school? No. How many siblings does she have? Her daddy has 14 kids, she lives at home with her mom and 3 other kids, the youngest is 5. Does she work? No, she hopes to go to college. What does she want to do? She wants to produce music. Does she play any instruments? No.

I let her use my computer in hopes she could contact someone with Facebook or email. She found more success there. Her brother told her she could come to his house five miles away. My GPS gave me directions, I dropped her off, and just a few blocs from my house my phone rang. "Can you come get me?" I didn't ask any questions, turned around and picked her up. "They didn't want me there," she said.

By this time it was 11:30. I needed to go to sleep; I teach a morning class on Wednesdays and had to be out of the house by 8:30 to face Atlanta rush hour traffic. "Why don't you spend the night here. Your mom should be home tomorrow morning and you can get home then." I gave her a toothbrush, towels and a night gown. She asked to use the laundry to wash her underwear. While she was showering I got onto my computer to check my email and found that her Facebook page was open. I read her messages, same as I did my own kids' diaries, to find out what's going on.  "I got kicked out," she told one boy. "I don't know what to do. I be dead tomorrow."

The next morning I woke her, "Teneyh, I don't feel comfortable with you being here while I'm gone today. " I gave her a jacket, enough money to get some food for a couple of days and catch the train to a friend's house. "If you still don't have anywhere to be tonight, you can come back." I let her use my phone again. No success. "Do you have anywhere to go?" She shook her head no.

I know at this point many would call me foolish and I understand. But I let her stay. I would be home by 2:00. "Nobody is allowed in the house," I told her. I left for my class.

During class I was distracted and anxious. Then I received a phone call from my next door neighbor. She and the lady across the street were concerned because they saw a man at my house. They knocked on my door, saw her sitting watching TV, and asked when she answered the door, "Where's Margaret? Is there a man in the house?" "Margaret's teaching her class, and the man was delivering pizza," she responded. Of course this only validated my anxiety. "There had better be pizza boxes there when I get home," I told my morning class.

As soon as my class ended I sped across town to see exactly how foolish I had been. I rushed around the house: my diamond tennis bracelet was where I left it, dangling around the neck of a vase on the mantle. My gun was safely hidden where I left it. There were, much to my shame, two small pizza boxes on the dining room table. And she greeted me with a hand-scrawled address on a sheet of paper. "I have someplace to go," she said. She gathered her pizza boxes and her crumpled remainder of money, and we headed to Riverdale, about 20 minutes south of Atlanta. Without looking at me she got out of the car, muttered thanks, went into the house with her friend, who never acknowledged me.

I left depressed. What did I just hand this girl over to? She has no job. She has no skills. She has no parents. She has no support. She does not drive. I doubt she has a high school education. She won't produce music. What, I wondered, are we producing from our high schools? For the first time I could see that the most practical thing for a girl like that to do would be to have babies and go onto welfare. I myself saw no other alternative unless there were some intervention.

I got back home and found that she had made the bed. I wanted to cry.


This picture has nothing to do with the above, of course. And hopefully it'll make todays post not so depressing. It's one of the first pieces I'm happy with from my Tuesday painting class. I'm taking a mentoring class from Jim Richards (probably close to my daughter's age), and I think I'm really finally learning to paint.

Monday, October 6, 2014

If you're seriously considering purchasing some original art, Allison Sprock Fine Art is hosting a preview party, launching a satellite gallery in an intimate home setting in Atlanta, off Collier Road. Two evenings, Wednesday, October 22 and Thursday, October 23.

RSVP at or 404.245.7668 if you're interested in going. I'll be there on the 23rd.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


It was hard to shine in my family. I was surrounded by 5 intelligent, talented, funny, high-achieving siblings. I always felt inadequate (still do). But one thing made me more special than any of them: my godmother was Rosemary Murphy. Rosemary was my mother's best friend at Manhattanville College. Mom went on to marry my Dad, have a station wagon load of children, and leave New York to make a home in Atlanta. Rosemary went on to to perform in 15 Broadway productions, in film and on TV (Eleanor and Franklin, To Kill a Mockingbird, Julia, Walking Tall, to name a few).

I was 8 years old when we left New York, but I remember visiting her cluttered, book-filled apartment on the upper east side. I'm sure if I could see it now I'd be fascinated by the photographs, art and show posters, but back then I was just enthralled with her little dachshund, the dressing-room lights on her vanity, and the black eye masks she wore when she slept. She was the most glamourous thing I had ever seen.

She would visit us occasionally in Atlanta. I was never so proud as I was when we could show her off. She was larger than life, tall in her mink coat, a booming voice. She definitely did not look like she was from around this part of the world.

Rosemary died this past July after a stellar 60 year career. This September, her friends and family held a memorial for her at Sardi's, the celebrated restaurant in the Theater District of Manhattan, where hundreds of show-business celebrities' caricatures adorn its walls. Rosemary's is among them. My sister Catherine and I were observers, on the outside looking in at another world of actors from previous generations. We didn't recognize anybody, but knew they were names many would. Actors, agents, friends, family--a community rich in history and stories I'll never know.

Thank you, Rosemary. We were always so proud of you. I hope you and mom are best friends again now.

See more of Rosemary here:
Rosemary's IMDb:
And here:
Rosemary's Wikipedia:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Not so trivial maybe...

I admit it. I read the Bible. And I love reading it. There's not another book that feeds my soul like this one. I was reading Ezekiel this morning and came to the line that said "Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing." I had 2 fig trees in my back yard ('had' because I inadvertently murdered one last year; I am still grieving over it and thinking I ought to be charged with a crime), so I did some google searching to see what modern thought was about fig tree leaves. What I found is pretty gosh durn amazing:
I'm going to go pick some fig leaves, dry them and save them for my morning tea. Couldn't hurt, could it?

I also came upon the benefits of olive tree leaves, none of which I happen to have in my back yard, but I was fascinated by the benefits of those leaves too. I'm wondering about pear leaves now, which I do have in my yard. Back to google now...

Just thought it was cool information to share.

As for the pastels here, they're hanging tonight at Sue Stewart Fine Art in Charleston, SC, where there is a First Friday Gallery Hop. If you're in the area, drop in please. Although I had planned on being there tonight, a nasty cold has set me back and I dare not share these germs. I know exactly where I got it--on my plane ride home from New York recently. The girl to the right of me sniffled and wiped her nose continually through the trip, and the guy on my left coughed. The whole time. I knew, just knew I'd be paying for that within days. And I did. Still am. Thus, the search for healing leaves today.

Sue Stewart Gallery

12 State Street, Charleston, SC  29401

Monday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

ANNIE IN A KIMONO, click to bid

The garden is wasting away. It's time to pull up the dried-up tomato plants, pull more weeds from the flower beds, purchase carloads of mulch and put my garden to bed for the winter. Usually at this time of year I'm sad to see the growing season come to an end but this year I'm actually relieved. I'm afraid I'm overwhelmed by the garden and house. I won't feel so divided now as I climb a borrowed ladder and clean, sand and paint my house's exterior (I'll hire someone to do the really high areas), sand and paint my front porch floor a glossy gray, and get my house shiny and sparkly for the winter. I am enjoying it, no matter how much work it is.

"Annie in a Kimono" is an Atlanta model; all the figurative painters in the area love Annie. And I do too. This is a 5x7 pastel up for auction. Click on the title above, or the picture if I did this correctly, to view the auction.

Monday, September 1, 2014


I was right. I've been challenged again by someone else to do something else. Can't do it. Can't allow myself to be obliged to so many people. Sorry.

And I forgot to say 3 more things I am grateful for on the second day. So here they are a day or two late:
1. I'm grateful for a garden, good black soil and the proliferation of seeds I am now accumulating.
2. I'm grateful for good neighbors (who make an incredible hot pepper jelly from the peppers growing outside my kitchen window--I served it on brie yesterday when I had some recently single high school friends over--it was a big hit).
3. I'm grateful for my kitty Molly, who has become an amusing little companion and bed partner, even though she's lately gotten into the habit of crying to go out the back door only to cry to come in the front door only to cry to go out the back door only to cry to come in the front door only to...

This pastel is another 5x7 up for auction. Click on the title to see the auction. Bidding begins at $100. Good luck if you're bidding.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


Wish I could remember where this was. I can remember the day vividly, just not where. When you visit two, sometimes 3 places in a day it gets very confusing. But of course, it was a cloudless warm June day and everyone was celebrating a brilliant day in France.

"Somewhere in France" is a 5x7 pastel available at auction. Click the title above to visit the auction.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


The Caretaker is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord up for auction. Click on title to see the auction.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Oh no! My sister has challenged me. My daughter has challenged me. I think I'm going to go into hiding. Turn off my phone and computer.

My sister Emily challenged me to do the ice bucket thing. I know it's a worthy cause and it's an excellent fund raising campaign. But as soon as she started her sentence I knew where it was going. "No! Please!" I interrupted her. I'll just donate the money, just please don't make me put myself up on facebook. Thankfully she respected that and went on to all the other sisters in my family.

Now, like I was beginning to suspect, other challenges are coming. For some reason this challenging thing is starting to make me uncomfortable. I don't like feeling coerced.

My daughter challenged me to post 3 things for which I am grateful, for 3 days, after she was challenged to do it. Because I love my daughter, I'll do it, but I won't challenge anyone else. It ends here with me. But I'm dealing with that guilt that comes with not continuing a chain letter.

My waking thoughts every morning are gratitude. I am overwhelmed at waking to be in my own beautiful little house, and I say a prayer of thanks for that daily (1). I am grateful for my healthy beautiful daughters (2) and my best friends: my faithful sisters and brother (3).

 Here's another 5x7 pastel at auction. I'm putting a few more up today. I challenge you to go to the auction and bid on it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I'm putting a few more pieces up on ebay. I guess you might have guessed that whenever the checking account starts looking a little scary, I hustle up to the studio to crank out a few little pieces. Sometimes I create some really sweet pieces that way.

I used to work in graphic design, and I found I thrived on deadlines. The deadlines motivated me when I moved into fine art too. A show in 3 weeks? I could work like crazy and produce some really good work (and some not so good).

You may have seen this imagery before, or something similar; I'm going through my old photos. This is my oldest daughter Anna and her baby Victor at the beach on Tybee Island. It was his first day at the beach. He was slathered with sunscreen. He was almost impossible to hold when the water hit him; he's slip out of her arms,

Victor is 10 now. They still live down in Savannah. He was stung by a Portuguese Man o' War last week. Look that up on google images. YUK! Actually, I'll spare you the time searching for it. Here it is.

A Day at the Beach is an unframed 5x7 pastel on PastelBord. Click the title above to see the auction.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Four pieces finished, framed, packaged and waiting for a FedEx pick-up tomorrow morning, to be delivered to Stewart Fine Art in Charleston, SC. The gallery participates in a First Friday gallery hop, and Sue Stewart has invited me to hang with the artists in her gallery. September 5 is the day. I'm hoping to send more work for October 3.
Stewart Fine Art
12 State Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Friday, September 5
Friday, October 3

Go, if you're in the area.

It's been quiet here since my return from France. I've spent the time trying to clean up the garden (again), getting my house in order, building shelves everywhere in the house and cranking out some new work in the studio. Things will get busy again in October, when I'm to get back on the road to teach in Cleveland, New Orleans and Dallas.

Several weeks ago I had this unexplained burst of energy, which lasted for days. I found myself waking at 3 or 4 a.m. Wide awake. So I figured, why don't I be productive with this time, instead of fighting to get back to sleep like I usually do.

I had been wanting shelves installed in a little room I use as an office. The ceilings are 12 feet high. All my stuff has been stacked on the floor or crammed into files, leaving 2/3 of the room wasted--all that space above me. I had gone to Lowes, had some 1x12's cut to 84", the width of my room, and then I just stressed about it because the walls are plaster; I've already put some frightening holes in my walls (hidden by pictures now) in other parts of the house trying to find studs. I sort of hoped some man with carpentry skills might just appear in my life, but realizing it wouldn't be wise for me to just wait for him, I decided I should give it another try.

I got out of bed and googled 'find studs behind plaster' and did what everybody advised: start at a corner, keep drilling holes until you find a stud, then measure 16" from that. I did it, I found the studs, standing on my desk at 4 a.m. So I proceeded to use my level and measuring tape and found all the studs every 16" across the room, all the way up to the ceiling, allowing for the shelves to be 13" apart. I stained my boards and tried drilling screws through my reinforced metal brackets (which I had spray painted the day before because Lowes didn't have any black ones) into the studs, but they wouldn't penetrate the wood. I was stripping the heads of all the screws. I googled "can't drill screws into studs in 1920 house." Try square screws, someone advised. Try star screws, someone advised. Whatever those were. The consensus was that philips head screws wouldn't work with old dense wood. When Lowes opened that morning, I was there purchasing both kinds of screws and the bits for them.

I know this is going on and on. But just wait. I finally got the job done by the afternoon--all my shelves stained and screwed into the wall, secured onto the brackets with screws--the star screws. Square screws didn't work. I'm learning. I organized the shelves with books and baskets and all the stuff that was all over the floor. I wrote about it on Facebook.

My friend Vicky messaged me that day: "Margaret, are you still on steroids?"

When cleaning out my garden the week or so earlier, I was pulling 20 year old poison ivy from the english ivy which was taking over my yard. LOTS OF IT. I filled 4 construction bags full of only poison ivy. I was relatively careful, work gloves  and plastic bags, knowing however that I'd probably have some reaction, but I've always handled that fine. Three days later I was swollen, gouging my arms scratching, and it lasted for days with no sign of decreasing. I finally went to an emergency clinic, got a shot of prednisone, prescriptions for 10 days of prednisone and itching relief.

If prednisone does that, I want more. I started painting the exterior of my house the next day.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I've just been notified that my two pastels, "Taxi" and "Ann Braiding Her Hair" have been selected as finalists in the Landscape and Portrait/Figurative categories of The Artist's Magazine 31st Annual Art Competition, which will be published in December 2014. Thank you, Artist's Magazine, for the honor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


"A Table for Two in Isle sur Sorgue" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, and is available at auction. Click on title above to see auction. Bidding begins at $100. Thanks for looking.

Monday, July 28, 2014


If you are standing at the perimeter wall in Gordes and look out across the valley, you'll see this house perched at the top of another mountain. What a gorgeous place to live.
"Just Outside of Gordes" is a 7x5 pastel on PastelBord. Bidding begins at $100. Click the title above to see the auction.

"Gordes," SOLD

Gordes is a spectacular walled village, perched on the crest of the high Plateau de Vaucluse in southeast France. Its beige stone buildings are built into the cliffs. Dating back to Roman days, It overlooks the fields, forests and small villages in the mountainous region of Provence. We climbed its winding roads and could see for miles in every direction. Here is one of the roads on the perimeter of the city on a cloudless June afternoon.
"Gordes" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, at auction on ebay. Click on the title above to go to auction.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"A Brilliant Day in Cassis," SOLD

Never thought I'd be able to boast that I've swum in the Mediterranean, but I can now. Frigid at first, but within moments you're perfectly comfortable. So salty that you can stay afloat without any effort; you could fall asleep floating on the gentle waves. But the sand--or what would normally be sand--is rocks. Very uncomfortable on the bare feet. It makes you almost not want to get out of the water. I hope I never forget that day though. Just beautiful.

"A Brilliant Day in Cassis" is a 7x5 pastel on PastelBord, available at auction. Click on the title above to see the auction. Bidding begins at $100. Thanks!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"Lavender Fields," SOLD

I'm working on a series of small studies of French scenes. This one is from Provence. On our last day in Provence this June we searched for lavender fields, so easy to find from great distances, not so easy to get to. Winding hilly roads made our search a challenge. But we found some.

"Lavender Fields" is a 5x7 pastel on PastelBord, available at auction on ebay. Click on the title above or the link below to go to auction. Bidding begins at $100.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Back to work.

Been recovering here, from a month in France and the loss of George. My garden is keeping me occupied. I've been pulling weeds and filling my jeep with mulch, 10 bags at a time, so far 4 trips. It keeps me busy. I keep expecting George to show up though.

I've also been painting in my studio, thanks to Mike and George, who finished my ceiling and installed my air conditioner while I was gone. It's comfortable now, and lately I've spent hours up there, forgetting about the time, loving the tactile feeling of paint smearing on a canvas. I close my eyes and see beautiful brushstrokes intermingling with surprising color combinations.

I've been taking a painting class from Jim Richards an Atlanta artist; he's probably my daughter's age. But he can teach me what I need to learn -- that expressive painterly stroke. Here's one piece I worked on in class that I'm pleased with. Normally I hate my oils, but I'm thinking I'll be happily working soon.

"Red Ribbon" is an 11x14 oil on canvas.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I arrived home from France early Tuesday evening, pulling my heavy luggage from the train station a few blocks away, to a beautifully manicured yard and 18 inch zucchinis in the backyard garden. George, my across-the-street neighbor had mowed and trimmed my yard to perfection, like he always does. And the zucchinis were real, from the garden he had planted weeks before I left for France (unlike the not-real ones--see
All he ever wants is a thank-you. I give him more when I can. But I'm told I won't be able to thank him until he returns from his 4th of July camping trip. He had recently rekindled a relationship with his high school sweetheart; they were in the north Georgia mountains. They were going to look at houses up there on Monday.

George died in his sleep Friday night. 54 years old. I won't be able to thank him for everything he has done for me in the short time I've known him.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday. Our last day in Provence

We had a leisurely morning but wanted to have one more experience before we took our 6 hour trip back to Fountain-Fourches tomorrow morning. After lunch in a sweet little restaurant a few blocks away from our gite, we drove to Gordes, classified as one of France's most beautiful villages. The site dates back to the Neolithic era. Its Rennaissance chateau was rebuilt on the site of a 12th century fortress.
We did the usual...climbed stone stairs through twisting narrow streets under vaulted passageways, slipping into boutiques. We did visit a church however, surprisingly the only one on this trip. It was unusually decorated with vivid hand-painted patterns on every possible space, with seemingly no attempt to coordinate color or pattern, like someone went nuts with wallpaper. It was an unexpected surprise.
Our last expedition: find a lavender field for Alice. We found one after winding around the mountains for a half hour, piled out of the car and took some selfies, and piled back into the car with Jerome, our ever patient guide. Our experience is finished. Tonight we pack our bags. Tomorrow we head back to Kippy's and Jerome's.
Saturday: What should have been a 6 hour drive turned into a 9 hour drive, thanks to bumper-to-bumper traffic through the entire city of Lyon. But we're back at La Bonne Etoile and are happy it's all coming to an end.
Sunday: Alice and Kate fly home to the USA. I will leave Tuesday and will be ever so glad to be back in my own home, seeing my beautiful daughters and grandson Victor, my sisters, my kitty Molly (who won't know who I am), my garden (which will be as angry with me as my kitty will be), my neighbors (who have kept an eye on things while I've been gone), and anybody else who might care that I'm home.