Me, Too


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Watching the #MeToo thread on Facebook and Twitter the last couple days has been heartbreaking. The details of my own sexual harassment and assault aren’t really important. They’re very much like what so many other women and girls have experienced on a regular basis. My own experiences could have been so much worse, and they aren’t what’s heartbreaking here.

What I find really heartbreaking is how many women I know who’ve been assaulted and, many years later, are still too scared or ashamed to simply post two little words, “Me, too.” As bad as the massive trending thread looked, it’s actually worse. And even in the midst of the bravery of so many women standing up and demanding to be counted, our society still hasn’t given all of us enough of a feeling of safety for everyone to do so. It’s not a failing of the women for not feeling safe enough to post the truth, but of the rest of us who haven’t provided that safe place –  a place like, oh, you know, the world.

For all of those women and girls who are grieving silently, I want you to know that you are, in fact, heard. If you never feel okay telling anyone, that’s alright. But I hope you eventually find someone who you can trust to believe you, embrace you, and help you understand that you don’t need to be ashamed and you are not at fault – someone who will help you forgive yourself even though you are not the one who needs forgiveness. I hope you rise, my dear.

Me, too

Prints and other merchandise with this painting on it can be found here and here.


It’s a Christmas Miracle


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It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s Christmas now, right? Or a Halloween miracle? I’m not really sure. I’m unemployed, so I’ve lost all sense of time. After several months of trying to find a space to open a high-end tattoo studio, we are officially under contract!!!!! It’s been a long, strange trip, and it’s not over yet, but we’re farther along than we’ve been thus far. Let me back up a bit and explain.

We’re opening a tattoo studio. But maybe you figured that out from the first paragraph? I’ll be training to do permanent make-up, scar camouflage, and other para-medical tattooing (like giving women areolae following reconstructive surgery post-mastectomy, and giving people eyebrows after they lose them to chemo), as well as traditional tattooing. While I’ll be doing pretty much any kind of tattoo people ask for, my goal is to focus on transformational tattooing, helping people document life transitions. I’m super excited, because it means learning a new medium, and it’ll hopefully mean that I’ll be doing something meaningful for my customers. We’ll have a couple other artists there, too, that I’ll be learning under, and between all of us, we should be able to handle just about any style requested.

But first, we had to find a space. If you’ll recall, we had to close our paint and sip studio because our new landlord decided to double our rent when we tried to renew our lease. We really didn’t want to go through that again, and we’d already run into an issue with trying to lease a space for the tattoo studio and getting rejected because tattoo studios, are apparently, portals to hell. So we decided to buy a space.

We fell in love with one in Cary, NC, and put in an offer. The seller agreed to the terms, then emailed that he was un-agreeing. Apparently that’s a thing? So that fell through. We licked our wounds and resumed the hunt. We found two spaces in a plaza in Wake Forest, NC, one of which was going to auction. So we decided to bid on that space but given the issues we’d run into regarding plaza’s not wanting a tattoo studio, we sent out a letter explaining our vision so that the other owners would know we weren’t opening something seedy. But the other business owners really didn’t want us in there. Not only are tattoo studios portals to hell, but our clients are actual minions of the devil. Here’s a quote from one of the nastygrams we received:

“As property owners and fellow professionals, we have all worked to maintain the professional atmosphere of our buildings. In our opinion, the placement of a tattoo parlor at this location is wholly inappropriate and will diminish the reputation and image which we have sought to cultivate. In addition, it will bring a clientele into the area that will not enhance our reputation, and in our opinion, damage our  financial investment.

The commingling of the typical tattoo parlor clientele with business professionals, patients of medical providers, individuals and families seeking counseling services, and many others does not create a welcoming or professional atmosphere.
This situation certainly will not attract desirable owners or tenants in the future.
The letter sent by Attorney Herman is manipulative and disingenuous in that it commands those who object to remain silent and only those in agreement with their plan to speak up.

In addition, the letter from you, the proposed owners of the tattoo parlor, seeks to mislead and whitewash the true nature of this type of business. Despite the carefully chosen wording, this is not an upscale spa regardless of the reasoning behind the tattooing.”

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I was sorely tempted, after that one, to send a newsletter out to my 10,000 person email list letting them know that, if they have tattoos, their money isn’t wanted by any of the medical providers, counselors, or other businesses in that plaza. But no, I’m taking the higher ground.

While, legally, they couldn’t stop us from moving in, but we decided not to bid because we didn’t want to walk into so much negativity. The same day we made that decision, the owner of the original space we’d wanted in Cary reached out to our real estate agent and said he’d resolved the things he’d gotten stuck on before, and would like to revisit our offer. So we sent over another offer (that’d he’d agreed to on the phone and via email), which he promptly refused to sign again. So we modified and tried again. And again, he turned it down. The whole thing was getting kind of ridiculous, and everyone was getting pretty pissy with each other, but S and I sat down and talked it out and we decided to compromise one last time. And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, the seller finally signed. So now we have to go through inspections and the other due diligence stuff.

Jeez, I feel like such a grownup. Cross your fingers and elbows and toes and knees and eyes that the rest goes smoothly and I can stop feeling like I could vomit any second and maybe not actually become the alcoholic this whole thing has tempted me to be. Thank goodness I had the cats to snuggle away the stress.


Thingsies I Want To Wear


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Y’all. There are women who make matching outfits for themselves and their kids. There are kids who make matching outfits for themselves and their dolls. And then there’s me. I want to dress like my paintings all the time. Allsies. For my birthday, I splurged and got one of my paintings printed onto a dress. I’d been coveting this thing for months. I’m a serious coveter. If there was a gold medal in coveting clothes that look like your paintings, I’d win that shit. Here is me, in my painting.

Thousand Goodbyes Dress.jpg

Where’d Emily go? Can’t find her. Oh wait, there she is, blending in with her painting!!

I even wore my art to an art opening that celebrated last year’s grant winners from the United Arts Council. Because I’m cool like that. And then I stood next to one of my paintings holding my book that I won the grant for. And every time someone complimented me on my dress, I opened up my book to this painting and awkwardly showed them how “awesome” I am. Because, again, I’m cool like that. And also because I’m totally terrified in situations like that and forget that I know how to speak English (not the best thing when you supposedly wrote a book in English).

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Who’s obsessed with elephants? I swear, it’s not me.

Luckily (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), there are sites for such obsessions as putting your artwork on all sorts of merchandis-y crap (I’ve already shared several examples of my art on swag with you here and here). And probably support groups. And I discovered a new site. And now I want all the thingsies. There’s just one sliiiiiight glitch. I don’t have all the monies. But if I did, holy shit. I’d dress only in my own artwork. Fuck LuLaRoe. This is LuLaEm.

I’m totally addicted to VIDA design now. A few examples of the schtuffs that I want:


And yes, I’m just getting started. Now that I’ve discovered this site, I can’t stop. I can’t actually buy any of the things I’m making, but a girl can dream. Someday, when I’m rich and hopefully not too famous (a girl does like to be able to run to the grocery store without getting all dolled up for the paparazzi), I will match every painting I’ve ever made. Yaaaaaaaaasssssss, bitchez. You can check in and see what’s included in my collection so far on VIDA here.

Now, quick! Buy all my thingsies and make me jealous (and rich so I can buy them myself)!



Apple Twist


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I gave up for a bit on another lemon painting I’ve been working on. It was trying to kill me. It was pouring lemon juice on my wounds. So I switched over to painting an apple. And I loooooove this one. It’s the apple of my eye.

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Apple Twist 12″ x 12″ oil on board

This particular apple became the feature ingredient in apple pancakes later that day. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nothing says fall like apple pancakes.

Original is available for sale here. Prints and swag and lovely schtuffs and thingsies here and here.

Cassie Bustamante’s Review


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This whole real estate thing is still madness, but I’ve had some time to paint and will hopefully be posting a new painting soon. Distraction is good right now, between the stress of daily life and the trauma we’re feeling as a nation following the shooting in Vegas. If any of you are in need of a little distraction, too, here are some book reviews Cassie Bustamante posted, including one of my book, Fractured Memories. And while you’re there, look around the rest of her blog. She’s got great decorating ideas and a project gallery.

Know a caregiver, or someone with dementia, or someone who knows someone with dementia, or someone who knows someone who knows someone else who’s a caregiver? Or heck, do you know a person? Well, you should tell them about my book, Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love, Too. Part memoir and part coffee table art book, I recount my family’s heartbreaking and hilarious journey through my father’s dementia. Available to purchase here (this is my favorite way if you live in the U.S.), here or here if you’d rather get the eBook than a print copy, and here (especially if you want a hard cover copy).

Book cover 1

Don’t Let Your Lemons Get In A Twist


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Whoooooo, it has been a week, y’all. A serious week. I got my lazy ass in gear and worked out on Monday (by which I mean that I did zumba with no music with my friend in her living room), and then looked at some commercial real estate. I had lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in almost a year, and then looked at more commercial real estate on Tuesday. Wednesday, I drove over to a little nothing town in the middle on NC to test-ride a couple horses with my mom (who is looking to buy for herself), then she and S and I spent the night in Winston-Salem, my old stomping grounds. Who’s a giant ball of pain now? This girl!!! But it was totally worth it because I haven’t gotten to horseback ride in about 6 years, and, assuming the horse passes the vet check, we found my mom a new buddy. On Thursday, we went to a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, then visited my paintings on the Wake Forest University campus, had a little lunch, and came back home. And then spent the rest of the evening discussing a game plan regarding the commercial real estate we looked at on Tuesday. Really, we’ve been doing pretty much nothing but discussing real estate for the last month or so. And I am worn out. This brain? It’s actually just a matzo ball by now. Or maybe a dumpling. Either way, it’s soft and soupy and not much of a thinker. I needed a break.

So I spent the day painting, then napping, then painting, then napping, then painting some more. Turns out, painting actually requires thought, damnit. Who knew? It’s exhausting. But I was able to listen to podcasts while I painted and finally not think about real estate for a minute and a half. Ahhhhhhhhh. And now, I present the fruits of my labor:

Lemon Twist I

Lemon Twist I 5″ x 5″ oil on canvas

Get it?!! Fruits of my labor? Admit it, you kinda sorta secretly liked that pun, didn’t you? Anyway, this is actually one of 2 lemon paintings I worked on today. Hopefully the other, which is significantly larger, will be done in the next week or so. If you like this one, you can buy it on my website at or get prints or other fun thingsies here and here.

And one more thing: today would have been my parents’ anniversary. They need to come up with a way of acknowledging occasions like this, when it’s no longer happy. Saying “Happy Anniversary,” seems inappropriate now that my dad is dead, but I still want to let my mom know that I’m thinking of her, and them, and marking this day in some way. So maybe we need to come up with a phrase like, “Marking Anniversary,” or “Acknowledging Anniversary,” or “Nostalgic Anniversary,” or “I Really Love You And Know This Day Might Be Hard But I’m Still Kinda Sorta Celebrating Your Marriage.” Or something. So Mom, when you read this, pick which ever of those phrases you like best. Love you.

Low Hanging Apple


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Remember how I had a dream that I did a series of paintings and called them “Low Hanging Fruit” and then, instead of being a normal human, I got up and sketched several? Well, here’s the second one, fresh off the easel.

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Low Hanging Apple 6″ x 6″ oil on board 


The original is for sale here, and you can get prints and things here.

Some Things Don’t Change


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So, um, yeah. I turned *cough* 40 today. Yeah. Not sure how I feel about that. But then, I realize not much has changed since my first birthday. Sure, I’m a little less blonde,  and my hair’s a little longer. I weigh a little more. But my math skills are probably comparable. My dexterity is slightly better when it comes to painting, but not when it comes to just about anything else. My taste in alcohol has become moderately more refined. But some things really don’t change. I mean, cake is still cake:

Emilys first birthday cake schmeer

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Okay, so my photoshop skills may need some work (photoshop didn’t exist when I was born!!!), but frosting still reigns supreme. Yes, that is real frosting and yes, it was delicious. Thank you, Frosting, for 40 wonderful years. Here’s to 40 more.

Trumpet in Red


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I finally managed to organize my studio enough to paint again. It still has a ways to go as I try to find places to store all the crap I brought home when we closed the paint and sip studio, but at least there’s enough table top/easel space to do a little arting. And since it’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I’d make today’s post about “arrrrrrrrrrrt.” You’re welcome for that.

I’ve been working on this painting for over a year, and by “working on this painting,” I mostly mean it’s been glaring at me accusingly for long stretches of time while I avoid making eye contact with it. It’s the largest piece I’ve done that is this detailed (and at 16″ x 20″ it’s not even that big, but still), and it was not a happy process for me. Too many straight lines and confusing reflections. Too much thinking required. But I finally took a couple days and powered through and finished the asshole. And now we’re besties. It’s been sitting happily on my easel for a couple days drying and cooing at me and telling me how grateful it is that I finished it.

Trumpet in Red_compressed

Trumpet in Red 16″ x 20″ oil on board 

But all that cooing is starting to get on my nerves ever so slightly. So maybe someone should buy it, like, right now. You can do so here. You can also get prints and other fun stuff here and here.