Summer Retreat nuggets

“The ABC’s of Success:
Attitude, Belief and Commitment.”
~Valerie Beck

One perk of the Women’s Innovation Network is rubbing elbows with Chicago’s chocolate expert, Valerie Beck. As the founder of Chicago Chocolate Tours, she ensured that WIN’s 2012 Summer Retreat was sweetened at all times.

We were even given a private Geneva Chocolate Tour, which certainly is one of my favorites.

“Dedicate yourself to listen twice as much as you speak.”
~ Donna Smith-Bellinger, Integrity Marketing Workshop

We also listened to inspirational speakers who gave us tips on how to better our own businesses.

“If you took the fear and money out of it,
what would you do, what would you be,
what would you bring to the party?”
~ Donna Smith-Bellinger, Integrity Marketing Workshop

During the Greening your Business Workshop, Shari Rajish of Peaceful Parlour introduced to sugarcane paper, wax sandwich wraps, bamboo sporks, and other green items.

“You can live in style and comfort
without sacrificing the green lifestyle.”
~ Shari Rajish

She recommends using glass jars and bottles over plastic for both human and earth longevity. Shari shared the following links with us to further research greening our business and our lives: Rebinder; Power2Switch;; green e-mail; Environmental Working Group.

“Once you become aware it becomes a snowball effect,
you can’t unlearn it.”  
~ Shari Rajish

One key nugget was to not have ‘green guilt’: if we are forced to drive to our work, we should not feel guilty about not biking there. We can only do what our circumstances allow, but with awareness, we can be better stewards of the earth one small change at a time. Shari herself made gradual changes, without throwing things out ‘just to throw them out,’ but instead using them to the end of their life cycle/usability.

“There’s progress, not perfection.” 
~ Shari Rajish

The Peaceful Parlour was also a Chocolate Tour stop.

Our cupcake supplier The Sugar Path presented more sweetness at Galena Wine Cellars.

We also sampled wine, including my first taste of Rhubarb wine.

And we bumped into sweetness again at the farmers market the next morning.

Pie with heart, so cute!


I’m in charge of my attitude, nobody else is.”
~ Valerie Beck, Tips for Confident Networking

Preservation Bread and Wine had the best ganache tart, and became a lunch stop the next day as well

Our dinners at Atwaters Restaurant  and Fiora’s were well-documented.

“If you don’t meet a goal it doesn’t matter,
because you learned from that process.”

~Donna Smith-Bellinger, Integrity Marketing Workshop

Graham’s 318 offered a chilled hot Cocoa which was a lovely refreshment on a hot day.

The retreat was capped with a fancy high tea at Atwater’s Restaurant, after which we all left for home with new tips to implement, ideas to ponder, inspiration to guide us, and a deepened support network. We’ll be checking in with each other on October 2, when the Women’s Innovation Networks hosts a Creativity for Business Day at Lillstreet and MySpa.

 “You are the best you in the world.”
~ Valerie Beck

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.


“You can’t hide from Life.
Life is here for you to live to the fullest.
Take your courage in your hands and move out into Life.
Ask for what you want.
Believe that you deserve it, and then allow Life to give it to you.

Be sure that you’re willing to receive.
Life can’t give to you if your hands are closed.

Open your mind, open your heart, and open your arms.
Life loves you and only wants to give you the best.” 
~ Positive Thoughts blog

The past two years I’ve worked very hard at focusing on the positive over the negative. I’ve come to a point of acceptance and contentment, a place in which I no longer run “what ifs” through my head, but accept that everything in my life happened for a reason and that I am exactly where I need to be at this point in time, and all prior experiences (good or bad) were guideposts and stepping stones to this place.

I like where I am at. I continue to strive to learn more, to keep moving forward, to evolve and be a better person making a positive contribution to the world.

Yet as I surround myself with positive experiences and positive people, envy has cropped up enough to where I have to take notice of it. Passing comments of “I envy your life;” “I live vicariously through you;” “You’d better appreciate how lucky you are;” poke at me as I interact with people. It’s not so much what they say but the tone: “How dare you live a better life than me?”

I get that the grass is always greener elsewhere. Few people see or know about the drama in my life because I choose not to share that on a public web page. While I focus on the happy, there is a fair amount of sad in my life, too. Everyone struggles. Everyone worries and has anxiety about something. I have been bullied, coerced, manipulated, ridiculed and unappreciated numerous times.

Discipline and following rules were mantras throughout my life. Since high school I’ve consistently been employed and studied full time to graduate with honors. I’ve teetered on the edge of workaholism many times. There’s been heartache and heartbreak I’ve worked through and am working through. “Ieder huisje draagt zijn kruisje”-a Dutch saying meaning that each home has a cross to bear.

It took me 30+ years to realize that I am allowed to pursue my dreams, that it is OK to slow down a bit and focus on what I want as opposed to what my employer wants or what society tells me I should want. That it is OK to not have a traditional life path and especially that it is OK to be single and independent.

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
~ Michel de Montaigne (found on a friend’s Facebook wall)

Mothers envy the freedom I have of not having children. But I didn’t choose not to have a family. For whatever reason, the love of my life didn’t cross my path (yet), and therefore the childhood dream of having a family remains just that—a young girl’s fantasy.

I see new and not-so-new moms juggle between the needs of their family and their own desires. I get that it is hard work, difficult, time-consuming and self-sacrificing to be a mom. Being a spouse also requires compromise and consideration at times. I very much appreciate not having to be responsible for other people as I plan (or don’t plan) my days, meals, activities.

The reason I am debt free (aside from a mortgage) is because I disciplined myself to make those student and car loan payments every month, no matter what. Bills were often a priority over food, clothing, and impulse buys. My education was an investment in me, and I sought to pay that off as soon as possible. I don’t carry over credit card balances to the next month. The investments that serve as my safety net now are still reserved for a retirement fund, rather than something I use to live on now. I’ve learned the hard way that others don’t have that discipline.

While pictures of me browsing designer stores and high-end boutiques during social activities do float about, it doesn’t mean I purchase there (though it is fun to think about it). I still feel frivolous when I buy myself something nice, even when I can afford it.

My home and its furnishings were also a careful investment. None of that happened overnight, nor was it handed to me. IKEA pieces slowly were replaced with sturdier furniture that will last for years. I am slowly building up a personal art gallery, but framing the pieces is something I am saving for. I could “charge it and hang it,” but I actually enjoy perusing Pinterest for framing ideas and giving the art works time to acclimate and converse with each other.

Yes, I have traveled a lot the past few months and I have enjoyed each trip to the hilt. I have reveled in the blessings each of these journeys brought me. The luxurious (and semi-luxurious) accommodations, the abundance of wonderful food and sweets, the beauty of the locale, the wealth of information and training provided, but mostly the fellowship with old and new friends.

These journeys have been saved for and paid in full by me. They’ve been weighed against other options, and carefully budgeted. I’ve been on trips that came with obligations and strings attached and therefore could not be enjoyed as much (even though in hindsight I realize I should have done so anyway). I’ve also gone many years without traveling anywhere because I didn’t have or couldn’t justify the funds.

So sure, you can live vicariously through me and wish you were there and be happy on my behalf. But don’t let envy consume you. I am just as human as you are, and my lifestyle now is the result of a lot of hard work, much discipline, and the intentional and unintentional exclusion of other options.

Be happy where you are, and find the blessings in your life. Your life is just as fabulous and wonderful, and it is entirely yours!

“What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”  

Finessing Financing (Summer Retreat)

One of the most honest and popular workshops at the WIN Summer Retreat was Finessing Financing.

After all, most entrepreneurs start a new business out of necessity, generally not because they have extra money laying around. Alison Clemens of Clemens Enterprises, Inc. and Fernanda Hopkins of KBBC, LLC shared tips on how to finance our businesses, including one’s own cash, lines of credit, home equity loans and fundraising.

KBBC LLC provides organizational development and management consulting firm to structure and manage your organizational systems. Clemens Enterprises, Inc. provides mailing services since 1996 and is expanding to Virtual Assistant services, e-Blasts, Facebook posting and additional services to promote one’s business. Both businesses were self-funded as startups, one with a severance package and another from an inheritance.

Fernanda cautioned us to be realistic when starting out, and only invest the bare minimum in your equipment and business resources until you have a viable operation. “Budget and forecast is key.  Only invest in the necessities of what you need to run your business for the first year. Then do a realistic assessment of how you came in on your budget and your forecast,” Fernanda said.

“I’ve had to become a better steward
of what resources I have. …
How can I streamline further?”
~ Fernanda Hopkins

Alison echoes that minimizing overhead costs, and having realistic financial expectations is key to staying in business.“I’m still glad I always worked out of my home,” Alison said.

Alison emphasized that a diverse client base is key to recession-proofing one’s business. “I would diversify more from the start,” she said. “Have different types of businesses (as clients) so hat you’re not reliant on one niche market.”

“Have different price points: 
high, medium and low.”
~ Fernanda Hopkins

Fernanda said varying pricing models are another form of diversification. “Initially I told myself I would only work for a certain hourly rate,” Fernanda said. “Then reality set in and I said, not everybody can pay me (that rate), so I took on small project work.”

Neither had made use of the new crowdfunding tools such as Kickstarter. Fernanda cautioned that any fund-raising can come with strings attached: “Be clear that when you ask people to invest in you that you can provide to their expectations, especially in a  service business.”

“If you want to grow your business,
if you have money, invest in a CD
and use it as collateral against
a line of business credit
to establish your credit history.”
~ Alison Clemens

Alison was approached by a bank about a line of credit at the peak of her business, but management changes created a flux sometimes. Keeping communication lines open at all times is crucial.

Alison recommends comparing rates and fees when shopping for credit and banks. Using equity and asking for fee waivers can do wonders.

“It is a competitive world.
There is financing especially if you are growing.”
Alison Clemens

Fernanda agrees that communicating and being personable is key to a good banking relationship: “I treat my banker just like my WIN sisters, you have to know them and build friendships. Chicago is a city of patronage, you have to know the people or you won’t stay in business.”

Both insist that good bookkeeping is a habit to implement from the start. Keep personal and business finances separated and ensure you have a good accountant and business lawyer to rely on when you incorporate.

“Be a good steward over whatever you have.”
~ Fernanda Hopkins

Fernanda advises that using an intern over a paid subcontractor can save  funds. Several Chicago business schools require that students complete a number of practice hours, which is a win-win opportunity for both the student and the business.

Meanwhile, Alison recommends assessing the value of one’s own time over the expertise of someone else: “If you can make more money using someone, then use someone.”

Alison’s business was extremely profitable in 2007, but since the recession has had to let staff go and lost a significant number of clients. Her advice during this period of reassessment is to: “be positive, things will get better over time.”

Fernanda is encouraged that since incorporating in 2005, her income has increased every year.

“Even if you’re moving forward by an inch,
you’re still moving forward.”
~ Fernanda Hopkins

You can tap into additional creative business ideas on October 2 during the Women’s Innovation Network’s Creativity for Business day.

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.

Top Tech Tips (Summer Retreat)

As Summer has blown by, I finally sat down to review and process all the notes from the Women’s Innovation Network’s Summer Retreat in Geneva, IL. We’re already anticipating our next big event, Creativity for Business Day during Crain’s Small Business Week. To learn more about this all-day event on October 2, 2012, click here.

“The Internet is a different neighborhood.
Don’t think of it as a TV or a machine,
it is a whole other community.”
~ Erica Thomas

Erica Thomas of provided technology tips to the Ladies of WIN at the Geneva Summer Retreat.

1. Have a social networking presence

Erica first introduced us to, a new online community she is about to launch. Of course her first tip was to reserve our spot!

“Technology is crucial now more than ever. 
You need a total online image.
We CAN do these things, market and promote ourselves for free.”

2. Create outposts all over the web

With Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, message boards, chat rooms, and numerous other outlets, we can find a place to spread the word about our business and position ourselves as experts.

Erica mentioned that message boards are often overlooked, but asking or responding to questions in your niche can create a following and awareness of your business. One way to find a board is to think of a question a customer might ask and enter that into a search engine.

“The more you have your image online
the more you franchise your  own business promotion.”

Key is to use each option as a tool that works for you. If LinkedIn isn’t useful, try Twitter. If Twitter is overwhelming, look at another online tool.

“Go where you are comfortable. Find your fit and go there.”

3. Video is extremely important

YouTube video is the top online promotional tool right now. Since it is owned by Google the search engine optimization happens overnight; the key is to properly use your description box, titles and tag your video. Regular Search Engine Optimization via a web site can take up to 6 weeks to be indexed.

You don’t have to appear in the video if you are camera shy; you can use images with a voice-over. Take photos and develop an art library for your business. Make a video, and then keep pushing more videos out. A few WIN members offer video services.

4. Have a technology expert for your business

Knowing a technology expert can help you with easy computer maintenance that you might otherwise pay a lot of money for. It also helps you to discuss new software and hardware upgrades and establish what is truly necessary for you. They also have an inkling on whether a new coding language or gadget is here to stay.

“Keep aware of trends but ignore fads.”

5. Be consistent in your online presence and stick to it

Decide on a posting schedule that works for you, but make sure you adhere to that schedule. If you go without posting for a long period people can forget you. With consistency, they’ll remember to look for your post a certain time of the week.

“If they’re not looking for you, you can get lost in the crowd.”

Since the workshop I’ve added a laptop fan to my technology investments, and am in talks with Erica to improve my web presence. I haven’t thought much about the video part yet, but it’s in the back of my head now. You can peruse additional social media tips in this post.

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.

upcoming art shows

Fresh on the heels of exploring a fun art show, I am pleased to announce my upcoming exhibits.

From September 20 through October 25, Migrant Danaus will be at Dick Blick Evanston’s 12×12 Fall Show. Last year’s show prompted me to enter exhibits, so it is nice to mark the anniversary of that milestone with another entry. What a fun journey it has been.

The opening reception is Thursday, September 20, 2012 from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1755 Maple Avenue, Church Street Plaza, Evanston, IL 60201. View my collages on Etsy.

FUSEDChicago is participating in Chicago Artists Month with The Buzz, an exhibit at Gallery 303 at the Zhou B Art Center, 1029 West 35th Street, Chicago. This show will host a lot of my friends’ work, as well as my Malachites, throughout October. The opening reception will be held October 19, from 7 p.m. onward. Mark your calendars for an encaustic weekend as techniques will be showcased the afternoons of October 20 and 21. I’ll share a who’s who as the date approaches.

The map I created in Shawna Moore’s workshop, now called Superior, will hang at Community Cartography, Kinzie Corridor Art Gallery from October 5 through November 23, with opening night on October 5.

Sassy Aphrodite will grace a wall of the Uptown Art Center in their Sacred show from October 20 through December 20.

Oh, and my Idea leuconoe triptych found a permanent home at the office of Final Draft Business Support Services, Inc., which makes me very happy.

Marked by Myth Opening

Rory Coyne’s Marked by Myth show opening was a big bustling party.

Playful animal masks were distributed right by the wine station, how convenient!

I had brought mine of course.

Rory had made these fabulous masks out of paper clay, of which a few are available for sale.

Lots of people were milling about discussing art, modeling and the intriguing imagery in the paintings.

Painting students and practitioners marveled at his technique.

I was happy to see the “Dragon man” with a face, three, actually!

“No Tucker Here” by Rory Coyne, Oil on Linen 78″ x x 66″
He was the backdrop of numerous photos.

We also peeked into the studios of resident artists, including Christina Villa, Lauren Levato, Cesar Conde and Rory’s magical place of creation.

As I perused the gallery, a dialogue between the pieces became more prevalent, with certain animals repeated in different paintings, as well as the interactivity of the subjects’ gazes toward other paintings.

It was like landing in the middle of a storybook and getting a feel for the different characters.

I haven’t yet learned the full story behind Rory’s work, but eventually I’ll learn more about the tales behind these wonderful beings.

If you are interested in Rory’s art work, contact him via his web site or his Facebook page.

The show is open through Friday, October 5 at FM* Gallery, at 310 N. Peoria, Chicago, IL 60607 (located near blue line Grand stop or green/pink line Morgan stop).

You can also inquire about sketches, and contact him for his book special.

Visiting a Sweet Beginnings Apiary

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower.
~ Isaac Watts, Against Idleness

This week the Ladies of WIN were given an apiary tour at Sweet Beginnings, since our Candy Gala helped raise enough funds for a hive.

Bees have been documented as early as 13,000 BC (on rock paintings), and beekeeping was cultivated in several early cultures, including Greece and Egypt, with accounts in 1800 to 1700 BC by Roman writers Virgil, Gaius Julius Hyginus, Varro and Columella. You can read more about its history here.

General Manager and second head beekeeper Kelvin Greenwood provided a tour of the North Lawndale Employment Network’s location.

The North Lawndale Employment Network provides assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals. Their U-Turn Permitted program offers four weeks of workforce-readiness training, including interview skills, resume and cover letter development, job placement assistance, job retention support, and one week of anger management. The center offers a computer lab at which program participants can commence the job search.

We peeked in on an interview preparation workshop, in which job seekers were taught how their behavior is assessed within 10 seconds of the interview and what nonverbal cues they need to be aware of to make a positive impression.

The center also has income support specialists who provides credit repair, budget management and financial management assistance. Since the U-Turn Permitted program is so successful, the center is also offering U-Turn Permitted Express, a three-day program for chronically unemployed people who have not been incarcerated. “Express” is offered every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month.

Those who graduate the U-Turn program are eligible to apply for work at Sweet Beginnings. At Sweet Beginnings, the trainee is then put on subsidized employment for 90 days, after which they become eligible for non-subsidized employment.

Kelvin himself is a boomerang who worked at Sweet Beginnings about four years ago, then left for employment elsewhere, but recently returned to Sweet Beginnings as a team leader. One U-Turn graduate saved up for 2 years when he gained employment, and was able to start his own livery service business.

“We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs,
or a bee makes honey,
or a vine bears grapes season after season
without thinking of the grapes it has borne.”
Marcus Aurelius

At Sweet Beginnings, founded in 2004, employees are introduced to inventory management, quality control, sales, marketing, and all aspects of creating the Beelove line.

Per their web site, “Sweet Beginnings is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network and offers full-time transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment in a green industry – the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey.

Sweet Beginnings workers care for the bees and hives, harvest honey, make beeline® products, package and ship products, track inventory, fill product orders, and sell at retail outlets and special events.

These training and work experience modalities transfer to market positions in manufacturing, food service, distribution, warehousing, hospitality, customer service, and more. The recidivism rate for former Sweet Beginnings employees is below 4%, compared to the national average of 65% and the Illinois average of 55%.”

The program has earned numerous awards and local recognition.


There are 19 hives at Lawndale site, 20 hives at Cook County Jail-transitional program, 7 at Wilbur Wright College and 50 hives at O’Hare Airport. They hope to establish another apiary at the Tinley Park wetlands, which would accommodate 200 hives and a designated flower source space.

We didn’t get into the specifics of beehive structures, but being the nerd (or is it geek?) I am I looked it up online and found this cool diagram.

The four to five tiers at the Sweet Beginnings apiary generate 100 pounds of honey. Of this, 50% is harvested to be used for Beelove, and 50% is left for the bees to overwinter with. Each colony consists of 20,000 to 30,000 bees. The colony–or hive–has one queen. 60 percent of the bee population includes female worker bees, and 40 percent are male drones. The workers gather pollen and store honey, and can live between 2 to 6 months. The drones mate with the queen and then die. The queen produces 2,000 to 3,000 eggs a day.

The social structure of bees is the stuff of a drama series. Kelvin said there have been queen fights to the death to determine who would rule a hive. Generally, a new queen leaves, taking a swarm with her, to colonize elsewhere. As I learned more at home, I found this account of bees and honey as tactical tools in warfare.

Now lest you think of bees as mean stinging machines, be aware that they generally only attack when provoked, such as having their hives threatened. Swarms are more docile, as this blog explains:

“A swarm may contain from 1,500 to 30,000 bees including,
workers, drones, and a queen.
Swarming is an instinctive part of the annual life cycle
of a honey bee colony.
It provides a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself. …
The cohesiveness of the swarm is due to their attraction
to a pheromone produced by the queen. …
A honey bee swarm
has neither young nor food stores
and will not exhibit defensive behavior unless unduly provoked.

If you spot a swarm near your home you can get it removed by experts, who will likely give it a new hive to colonize.

We left the apiary to enter the kitchen, where the honey extraction takes place. Around October, harvest season begins, and the frames with honeycombs are removed from the hive. The frames are decapped, and placed in the extractor, which is spun to extract the honey by centrifugal force.

The honey is caught in buckets, which then are processed into the Beelove product line. The products include natural honey (of course!) as well as natural skin and body care products.

My favorite was the spa basket, which includes body cream, hand and foot butter balm, lip balm, scrub and raw honey. I look forward to investing in this when my other bath products are used up.

The shelves also included body lotion, shower gel and soap. In addition to honey, ingredients include shea butter, avocado oil and silk protein.

The Beelove line is available in 18 midwest area Whole Foods stores and will also be available in multiple stores at Chicago O’Hare and Midway Airports. The Ritz-Carlton is also in talks to carry amenity size products. You can shop for the Beelove skin care products online as well.

I’m so glad we got to learn more about this valuable organization, which provides us ladies with wonderful natural products to beautify ourselves, while providing a new life to people who genuinely want to contribute to the world in spite of their past history. Each person I’ve met who is associated with Sweet Beginnings has been gregarious, courteous and passionate about their work.

As Brenda Palms Barber mentioned during the History Month panel, these people have overcome so much stigma and already ‘served their time’. Coming from a ‘squeaky-clean’ background, interacting with this organization has been a growth experience for me and my prejudices, and I’ll happily consume honey on a regular basis to support Sweet Beginnings in the future.

“There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true,
do at least suggest a nobler and
finer relation to nature than we know.
The keeping of bees, for instance.”
Henry David Thoreau

If you’re interested in beekeeping, there is a plethora of links with advice out there, a sampling of which is below.

I look forward to researching the creators of my beeswax further, now that my head is buzzing with information.

“Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge.
We are perpetually on the way thither,
being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

ADDENDUM: As of March 10, 2013, I no longer support the WIN Board and its actions. However, I do support small business, women-owned businesses, and the gracious hosts of past WIN events.

Masquerade time!

I’m looking forward to Rory Coyne’s opening, “Marked by Myth” on Friday. I had the privilege of seeing one of Rory’s oil paintings evolve layer by layer as I took his fiancee’s drawing class, and am excited to see ‘the Dragon man’ (my name) in completed form.

art work copyright Rory Coyne

Reading Rory’s announcement (click for the full scoop) was a vocabulary lesson for me. Therianthropic means “combining the form of an animal with that of a man,” which is a perfect descriptor of the paintings Rory creates.

I don’t know anything about the “contemporary allegorical realist movement” but I look forward to learning more about that during the opening (and will report back). To me it suffices that he is very talented and his work is creative and cool (and the Dutch connection is a plus).

Rory’s event invitation promises a masquerade, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to make my very own mask. I knew butterflies would be a perfect template, so I googled ‘butterfly mask’ and came upon this lovely link with three templates to choose from.

I turned on the Phantom of the Opera to get in the mood:

My first attempt felt blah.

So I used a gift card at Michaels to go shopping and pick out more sparkle.

I like the shimmer of my papers and glitter felt.

Then I cut out the mask outlines, and had some fun ‘sizing’ them. You do need to make sure the standard templates fit your face.

Cutting out eyes evenly was a challenge, and I had to make sure I could see out of them.

I had picked out glittery butterflies from Jolee’s Boutique to embellish the mask with, and put the three layers together.

Since I wear glasses, I used a wire stem and embellished it with a glitter flower as the mask-holder. The wire stem and flower stem were combined with floral tape, and then I hot-glued the stem to the mask.

The Marked by Myth opening is from 6 to 10 p.m. at FM*GALLERY, located at 310 N. Peoria, Chicago, IL 60607 (near blue line Grand stop or green/pink line Morgan stop). Valet parking is available opening night. The exhibit continues through Friday October 5.

Ten percent of the exhibition earnings will benefit the Marwen Organization, to give back to the Chicago art community. If you can’t make it to the show, don’t despair. Rory also has a book available on Blurb, so you can peruse his paintings in your home.

I’ll show you the full look after the party.

Dancing Wings for Sale on Etsy

I’ve just re-listed my Dancing Wings collage on Etsy. This was such fun to make.

photo and art work copyright Maike's Marvels

I discovered Holly Berry House stamps at the last consumer Craft & Hobby Association Show in 2010. On-site I watched ladies make boutonnieres and was intrigued by the layering. You basically get 6 stamps in one! She is very generous and allows stamp owners to sell their creations, but of course the stamp design itself is copyrighted.

So at home I played with various iterations, and created the set above. I picked complementary colors and stamped the papers.

Then I cut out the outlines, making each piece a smaller version of the one before (the stamps come with instruction sheets).

photo and art creation copyright Maike's Marvels

Next were the background layers, inspired by butterfly words.

Last Christmas I was commissioned to make custom pairs with the favorite colors of two special young ladies.

While visiting family, it was a fun craft project with another girl.

The color combinations are endless, so if you’re interested in a custom piece, let me know.


“… if you’re applying to
the People Who Officially Curate And Publish Things

they have many, many, many, many submissions to wade through and
they can’t always fall in love with your stuff.  It has to be good enough,
it has to fill a niche or a need they have, they have to have a spot for it,
it has to fit in somehow with total package of things they have planned
for this issue or festival program but be different enough to stand out,
they have to like it enough to want to put their own time into it,
they have to see a market for it.
It’s subjective and not fair.”
~ Captain Awkward

Rejection stings. I want to rejoice with my friends who did make it into the show, but I am bummed at the same time to not be part of that show. I know it’s a game of odds and I know it’s about cohesiveness for the curators, but when you are all excited about a piece of work, get professional photos taken, think about the artist statement to go with it, it is a setback to get a 2-line form letter that says “YOU DON’T FIT IN.”

I already went through that in school people! Not just in elementary school, but in middle school, high school and in college, across countries, with accents and somehow never clicking with a clique.

It’s funny how in spite of all the pep-talks on individualism and following your heart, there is still that spot that wants to be part of a group, that wants to be ‘accepted,’ or at least ‘acceptable’.

I say it would be nice to just draw for fun,
but to me, part of the art is having somebody look at it.
That finishes the drawing.
~ Mary Engelbreit 

Sure, it is nice to make art for pleasure, and I love the communal experience of taking a workshop and oohing and aahing over everyone else’s talent. But I still want to have my work recognized, too.

The self-curated (meaning just submitting gets you a spot) shows are a pleasure to be part of. I like putting my work out there and supporting a new gallery or studio. If it wasn’t for getting into those earlier this year I wouldn’t even be sending in the juried submissions.

“… it seems to me that a good work of art might offer
a sort of double-happiness.

Standing in front of a fine painting, you might thrill
to the colors on the canvas,

or marvel at the artist’s brushwork.
And later, if the work is good, you’ll remember the painting
in terms of its message, the particular chord struck by its imagery,
and, perhaps, how it subtly shifted your point of view.”
~ Jessica Kerwin Jenkins

But, like Captain Awkward above says, and most of us know, having one’s work rejected/not included stings every time. It stings to be set aside in any situation, no matter if there is an opportunity to try again next time. Art is no different from dating, from job promotions, from group projects, from party invitations. When we dedicate ourselves to something, we don’t want to hear, “sorry, but your efforts don’t mean anything you didn’t make the cut.”

So I will put in another round of submissions, and get my hopes up again. With each rejection slip I am eliminating another ‘what if,’ and improving my own submission process along the way. If submitting art work is a game of odds, I will at some point skew the ratio between juried acceptance and rejection the other way.

“Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily.
Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It’s no use. I can’t go on.
If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too.
Keep believing and keep on keeping on.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale