Category Archives: skeletons

My first art show with the Skellies was skeltacular!


Best reason to explain to your mom why you’re buying skeleton art:

“You’re dead a lot longer than you’re alive, so you may as well have fun with it.”

Best reaction to working out creative issues with skeletons:

“I am a practicing psychologist, my dear, and I have to tell you, I’ve been coming to the Shrimp Festival for years. I’ve seen mermaids, turtles, seascapes and octopi, but I have never seen dead people dancing on the beach before. Congratulations. Your art is unique.”

Best reason to have a huge canvas print of two skeletons on a motorcycle at the front of the booth:


Reaction to Bone to be Wild at the Shrimp Festival.

Best use of noodles in a booth (even if it didn’t rain)


Steve inserting swim noodles in the corners in case of rain, which we didn’t get, but better safe than sorry!

Skelly lovers are the best!

I sold a ton of cards, some prints and one new painting (thank you, Doug!). I met so many nice people, who bought my skellies for gifts and for fun and for giggles. It was a glorious two days. Hard work, but so worth it. Thank you for coming out to the Shrimp Festival. Thanks for buying my art. Thank you for all the compliments and the smiles and the laughter. You all made my weekend.


Productive day at the Attic

I am really enjoying the longer shifts (11am-6pm) fewer times per month there. I get at least two Saturdays off a month with the new schedule, so that’s great, plus I have more time to put a painting together while I’m working.

Yesterday I got most of the way through this little pin up skelly girl that will be part of the Skeleton Crew I’m bringing to Amelia Island Shrimp Festival this year, April 28-May1, 2016. I’m excited to have new art to show, and I have been busy planning on just how to offer it. I want to have 5-7 original paintings for sale (pin-up, seiner, shoveler, sorter, captain, ship with crew, cook, zombie shrimp), matted and framed prints of each painting that I will take orders for to ship after the show, and one print that I’ll give away at the end of the show. I may also offer cards of each painting, but I’m still deciding about that. It’s nice to have different price points but printing the inventory is a pain, since I do it myself, and it may also keep people from buying the prints instead, which is what I want to sell the most of.

This girl still needs a little more tweaking as well a title, though. I was thinking about “You’re the shrimp in my grits,” or something like that. Any ideas? Put them in the comments!


Shrimp Festival developments

I paid the booth fee

So I guess that means I’m going to go. I’ve been waffling about whether or not this festival is a good idea or not. For one thing, Steve and I are trying to sell our house here in Florida so we can move back to Michigan. My life feels kind of higgledy piggledy and it’s hard to keep piling on. For another thing, I don’t have a tent to sell anything out of. And I don’t have any skeletons that are shrimp festival like.

But what the heck? If I really tried, I could find an excuse not to do anything ever again. I’m good at it. So what if I tried to find reasons to do this festival? What then?

Then I’d say, hey, my house has never been cleaner than it is right now so it’s a perfect time to get to work on a new skeleton series. I always feel more energetic when I’m organized. And I can probably borrow someone’s tent. Worst case scenario, I’ll rent one. It’s only money.

So I started doing some research on shrimpers and shrimp boats. I watched Forrest Gump. And I’ve been thinking pretty hard about what I could do to get people to want to buy skeletons, plus I’ve got some good marketing strategies that I’ve read recently that’ll help.

Shrimper ideas

Shrimper ideas

Tomorrow I’m going to get a little more finished with them. I’m thinking five or six shrimpers and one shrimp boat. Then I’m going to offer the originals at the festival and take orders for prints. I’ll have something to give away in exchange for contact information, maybe a girly shrimper skelly or something like that. Something fun and that’s not available to purchase in my booth.

Today, on Facebook, a friend asked me if I was fixated on death. I told him, No, they make me laugh. This shrimper series is a perfect example. It makes me grin to think of making shrimp boat workers decked out in rubber boots and gloves, holding their tools of the trade, and grinning from ear to ear. That’s what skeletons do. They’re always smiling, always having a good time. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with people like that?




The Kiss

This one is going to be great!

That is, I hope it’s going to be great. I love Gustav Klimt’s paintings and all the beautiful gilding on them. A friend suggested I do a skelly painting based on The Kiss and I thought, why not? It’s iconic, it’s romantic, it’s gold!

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, subject of my next Skelly painting!

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, subject of my next Skelly painting! This image courtesy Wikipedia.

For this piece, I ordered some gator board. If I’m going to put gold leaf on this, it’s got to be on a pretty stiff ground. Paper is so flexible I’m afraid the gold would flake off. So here you can see I’ve started with black gator board. (I buy it at Uline, in case you were wondering.)

The gesture drawing on black gator board.

The gesture drawing on 18×18″ black gator board.

The gesture drawing on black gator board, detail

The gesture drawing on black gator board, detail

I love this piece already because of the patterns in the ground and on the clothing. I love the brush strokes in the background. I’ll start with the bones first, then work on the green ground with all the flowers, put in all the clothing details that are in color, then last, but not least, I’ll put the gold in. I have some gold leafing supplies, plus gold paint, plus gold metallic markers, so I ought to be all set.

I am probably too excited about this, but whatever! I’m just going to let it wash over me while I work. Stay tuned.


Skelly Show Wrap-Up

shrine dedicated to Salvador Dali

My Dali shrine that I set up for my show October 30, 2015. The flowers are from my yard. Would you believe it? One of the names for it is Marigold Tree!

Well, I’m happy to report that my show at The Red Sable through October 2015 was a great success!

I sold two paintings (one even before the show opened! Thank you, Laurel!) and lots of prints and cards. I had more people sign up for my newsletter, Bone Appetit. The Artist Reception/Day of the Dead festival on October 30 was wonderful, too. There weren’t a ton of people that night but the ones that showed were over the moon about a Day of the Dead Festival in St. Augustine, and so I think that next year’s will be bigger and better than ever.

I don’t think I emphasized the fund raising part of the evening enough, but in fact, between booth fees and sales, we made a substantial contribution to a family’s fundraising efforts on behalf of their two kids who have leukemia, and I’m really proud of that.

Melissa, owner of The Red Sable, said I did the most sales of any other artist she’s featured at the store and she’d like me back next October, so hurray! Since Steve and I are planning to be back in Michigan by then, this will call for a long camping trip to Florida in October, but hey, I’m up for it!

I’ve already started thinking of new skellies to have ready for next year and next year’s Day of the Dead Festival in St. Augustine is in my iCal. I hope to see you there, too.

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Getting ready for my party on Friday

Skeletonized Dali

Skeletonized Dali

I found a portrait of Salvador Dali on Wikipedia and skeletonized it so I’d have something for my shrine on Friday during the Day of the Dead Festival and Artist Reception at the Red Sable.

Since Salvador was the inspiration behind the original Skelly Dancers, I added the very first one I ever painted in the background and then I painted in skeleton features over his face in blue and added some hearts, because I love his mustache and his devil-may-care attitude. He was a fantastic painter, a real craftsman.

I’ve been to the Dali Museum over in St. Petersburg, Florida. I especially love the large paintings they have. Very wonderful.

So I made a shrine for him. I added candles and some bone sprinkles around the picture frame and I’ll have some pretty yellow sunflowers in a vase. You’ve got to have yellow and this is as close as I can get to marigolds. I wouldn’t mind being haunted by Dali’s ghost. I bet he’d have some good advice for me about painting skeletons and throwing parties.

I’m off today to get some boxes of wine. A red box and a white box. That should just about cover it. And I have to practice my own sugar skull makeup some time before Friday. Half face? Full face? Happy? Scary? What shall it be?

Plus, I wonder who will win the custom sugar skull portrait? Last I checked, there were quite a few names in the box… I’ll be pulling someone’s name out the pile on Friday. Might it be yours?


Digitized sugary goodness


This is the digital file, directly from my computer.

Here you can see the original line drawing and a test print.

Today’s sugar skull girl is digital.

I began with a line drawing from my sketchbook, scanned it, imported it to Adobe Illustrator, traced it, then filled her with frosting colors, added a pattern behind her and voila! Sugar skull deliciousness!

I’m going to frame her up and bring her to the Starving Artist gallery in St. Augustine, Florida in time for this weekend.

It’s fun to do art this way. It satisfies my craving for a smooth line drawing and it lets me adjust the sizes and colors with a mouse click. I can make her fit into any size frame that I have handy. Because I’m adding final touches, like the shading on her bones and glitter on her dress, each print will be a little bit different.

I love her bright colors and I love that she’s dancing. She makes me happy!


Here I’ve changed her colors and printed her out in three different sizes.


Isn’t she sweet?


Closing in on done

The Skelly Dance, WIP

The Skelly Dance, WIP

Do you ever get to a point in a project when you just want to be finished? That’s where I am right now. But I know it’s not finished yet. So I’m going to set it aside for a while and figure out what’s bothering me about it and really be done when I say I’m done. I’m close, but there are still lots of parts of this that I’m not happy about. If I didn’t think I could fix them, I’d quit right now. But I can do this.

So you’ll be seeing this one again, but it might take a little while. Some things come clear after you let go of them for a bit. This feels like that sort of project.

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The Skelly Dance, work in progress

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The Skelly Dance, work in progress

The Dance by Henri Matisse

The Dance by Henri Matisse

I have begun another in the Old (Dead) Masters series. This is based on Henri Matisse’s The Dance, which is another classic work that I love.

I think what I like best about this painting is the dancing, of course. I also love how their arms make a heart shape. I love the colors, red against cool blue and green. I love that they’re naked. It’s interesting that once I make them into skeletons, there won’t be any way to tell what sex they are.

I did another version of this back when I was in college, but this is the first time I’m tackling it with skeletons. It’s also the largest pastel I’ve ever done. Matisse’s work was around a hundred inches tall by a hundred fifty inches wide. Mine will be 20 x 30″, only a fifth of the size of his. I think about how much canvas he covered and it makes me want to paint really big, too. I swear, before the end of the year, I will find a way to make something enormous-sized. I want to use my whole body to draw.

I’m going for the same primitive feel for my skellies as Matisse used in his painting, so trying to limit the detail. It’s a lot of fun, as usual. Can skeletons ever not be fun?

Here’s some progress shots. More to come, so stay tuned!

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