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Blue Rhino (O.M.G. I love painting!)

Blue Rhino (O.M.G. I love painting!)

Have you ever loved something, and then not done it for a while, and then forgotten how much you love it?

I LOVE painting. I love love love it. I love the feel of the brush on the canvas. I love mixing different colors. I love having something in my head and recreating it for the world to see. I love how nothing else bothers me when I am painting. I am not worried about papers, grades, school or relationships. I am only worried about making something beautiful. I love how when I paint, I have this dumb smile on my face for hours at a time while I dab away at the canvas.

But for some stupid reason, I forgot how much I freaking love painting. I mean, I knew I liked it. But I forgot its therapeutic effects. I guess I forget the good stuff because sometimes paintings don’t come out the way I see them in mind’s eye or something.

Anyway. I had forgotten about the joy of painting. Hadn’t painted in over a year. And then I was crazy stressed out, dealing with a bunch of stuff that still makes my blood boil just to think about. Though I probably didn’t actually have the hours to spare to sit down and create, I did it anyway.

Oh. My. God. It was awesome. It was better than I remembered. I mean, how could I possibly forget that high that I get just from putting color on canvas, just from mixing colors, just from painting myself a new friend?

Well, I hope I don’t forget again. I have been painting a little more now – not as much as I would like. But enough to take my mind off things. Enough to create beautiful new pictures. And enough so that I don’t forget the magic of creating. I know it sounds corny and cheesy, but whatevs. Deal with it.

Without further ado, here is my latest creation:



Yep. It’s a blue rhinoceros. (It is really hard to spell “rhinoceros,” BTW.)

It’s 16″x12″ (I think). Acrylic.

It’s hanging in our apartment above the stereo and looks great. However, I only took the one pic. I spent all my time painting and baking bread, so I had less time for photography.

I hope you like him. I love him. And Rhino serves as a reminder to never stop doing things that I love.

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever forgotten how much you like something and then you rediscover it and your mind is blown?

Rhino love,


PS. This post is for Julia, who encouraged me to sit down and paint, and who was my rock this last semester.

A Bathroom Redo

A Bathroom Redo

This post took me months to finalize. I did the work over Labor Day weekend (in September), and now you finally get to enjoy. I kept thinking that I would take more and better pictures, but I should know better by now, right?


Not to brag or anything, but I have the best boyfriend in the whole freaking world. I could list a hundred reasons why he is the best boyfriend in the whole world, but that would be annoying. Suffice to say, he’s pretty great. So I wanted to do something special for his birthday. Therefore, I decided to redo his bathroom. He lives in a super old building that has not been very well-maintained, so most undertakings are pretty daunting.

The inspiration for the color combinations came from The Little Green Notebook. The bathroom featured on her blog is almost exactly the same layout/style as my boyfriend’s bathroom. And Jenny has a great eye.

Here are some before pics. Yeesh.

Before 1.

Before 2. Drab.

Before 3. Ugly steam pipes that burn the holy hell out of you. Poorly painted door.

As you can see from the before pictures, this bathroom was in desperate need of a redo. He lives in city housing, so on the few occasions when they do repaint or repair things, they do it rather poorly. For example, in the bathroom, instead of using a proper primer, the contractor had painted latex paint over an oil based semi-gloss. Because this is NOT the best way to paint over semi-gloss oil paint, the latex paint on top was literally peeling off in sheets (see “Before 4” picture below).

Before 4. Cracks in the plaster paint, from when I had taken down some weird shelving ages ago. The latex paint coat that was most recent was no longer adhering to the semi-gloss oil (lead?) paint that was below it.

I was worried about trying to remove all the latex paint, because given the age of the building I suspected the oil based paint below the latex was lead, so I could not sand it down or scrape it. This presented a problem, obviously.  To repaint, I would need a surface that would take paint, and semi-gloss oil paint does not take paint well without sanding.

So here is what I did:

1. I peeled off as much of the peeling latex paint as I could, without sanding or scraping to avoid releasing lead paint dust.

2. I patched holes with spackle and sanded the spackle smooth once dried (being careful not to sand the surrounding suspected-lead-based paint).

Spackle the cracks – I used one that was pink when wet and dried to white so you know it’s been enough time.

3. I wiped down the walls to remove all spackle dust so that everything was clean.

4. I primed the WHOLE bathroom with oil-based Kilz primer. This stuff is AMAZING. It sticks to almost anything, and in a bathroom is great because it can paint right over mold or mildew (which fortunately wasn’t a problem in this bathroom). Just don’t use an expensive brush because after painting with oil paint, it’s often just easier to throw away the brush.

Sapphire Blue walls. They are a little darker than shown here. The art in the top frame is not staying – the piece I ordered for that frame had not arrived yet. 

5. I painted above the chair rail with Behr Sapphire Sparkle in satin. I would have preferred to use eggshell, but in a bathroom you want at least a satin because it’s more water-repellant.

6. I painted below the chair rail and the trim in ultra white semi-gloss (not sure which color exactly but it was whatever I had laying around).

Jute wrapped pipe.

7. I wrapped the heating pipes (or at least started to, I need to finish this) with jute rope. I will post more information on how to do this later. I have burned myself on these pipes more times than I care to admit. (See picture above).

8. I added manly accessories – wooden and brass frames, thick stripe shower curtains, bicycle art.

So much better, right?

The shower curtain is from West Elm.

The frames are from TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. The darling clip art pictures are from She has tons of free vintage printable clip art. I love that octopus print.

The basket is from TJ Maxx, and I spray painted it gold so it matched better. I also hung brass towel hooks on the back of the door. Many towel hooks is an important thing!

I use Zep mold and mildew cleaner to clean the white tile grout until it was mostly white. This took a while and I ruined one of my favorite pairs of pants because Zep contains a fair amount of bleach. (The picture below is a before – I don’t have an after picture).

Dirty “before” tile. I forgot to take the picture of the after, but it’s much much better.

Boyfriend loved it. I love it. It still needs some work, but it’s a vast improvement and makes the place feel so much homier.

I screwed these pretty glass drawer pulls into the bamboo over-the-toilet thing so that we could hang hand towels from them.

This bathroom is small and really hard to photograph. If I get my life together, I may post better pictures. If I don’t get my life together (the more likely of the two options), you will just have to use your imagination and trust me that the transformation is awesome.

One more final before and after comparison:

Before 2. Drab.

So much better, right?



Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Klimt – Up Close and Personal

Gustav Klimt was kinda awesome. And the Klimt exhibit currently at the Leopold Museum, Klimt – Up Close and Personal, in Vienna is also kinda awesome.

The courtyard at Museumsquartier, where the Leopold is located. The bright colorful things are benches/chairs/tables for people to sit and enjoy the scene.

The Leopold

Stormy weather, but still an undeniably beautiful public space.

Not only does the Leopold have some of Klimt’s most incredible paintings, but the curators managed to track down hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of post cards that Klimt scribbled, sometimes as many as ten per day, to his dear friend, Emilie. Most of his postcards are about the weather, or what he ate for a dinner, or just a few thoughts that popped into his head. They are essentially the pre- and during-WWII equivalent of text messages, and were a wonderful glimpse into thoughts running through Klimt’s head.

Letter that Klimt wrote to his life-long friend, Emilie. I love his fascinating sketches and wonderfully eccentric handwriting. I makes me want to resume the lost of art of postcard-text messaging.

Death and Life

Lake Attersee (My Favorite – it’s Even More Brilliant in Person)

Der Goldene Ritter

The Big Poplar II

Klimt was a man who painted without an underlying motive, without pushing some major theory. He often said he was more interested in painting beautiful things than conveying some bigger thematic meaning. He also had many cats, which wandered freely through his studio. Rumor has it that he told his students that cat paw prints and occasional urine on his sketches were not a problem – they were really improvements. It was unclear if he was joking or not, and despite hygiene problems, I love this lighthearted approach to painting beautiful things.

Gustav Klimt and a Cat, that may or may not have improved upon his sketches. He is also wearing one of those long Chinese-style robes, and nothing else…

Though he mocked his art, Klimt was a successful painter during his lifetime, and received large sums for his paintings.

During the summer, Klimt only wore long Chinese-style dressing gowns, with nothing underneath. Secret-revealing time: That is BY FAR the best way to paint. In the buff, or semi-buff. If I had a long Chinese-style dressing gown, I would wear it to paint too.

Klimt was one of the founders of the Secession movement, a group of influential painters trying to break out of more conventional art molds. This (below) is a lovely poster for the group, that I believe was drawn by Klimt, but right now I cannot really remember.

I have so much more to tell, because I was incredibly moved by this exhibit. There is also more awesome stuff that was on exhibit at the Leopold Museum, but I think I will share that with you later.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I want to finish by saying that I was never moved by Klimt before – the most famous works that everyone knew didn’t really speak to me – but this exhibit left me screaming to get out my paints, dying to put his techniques on canvas. If you haven’t been to see it yet, and have a chance, I highly recommend it. And I recommend wearing long gowns commando-style.

Lieben and painting,


Paint Yourself a Friend

Paint Yourself a Friend

I swear, it’s not like I am short on friends.

I throw dinner parties and go dancing and go with friends to estate sales.

But I do live alone. No roommates. And very sadly, I have no pets (but that’s a topic for another day).

I live only with weird things I collect at thrift stores and garage sales. And things I paint.

I recently painted myself a little owl friend. I told you I would do it and I have.

She doesn’t have a name. I think it’s better that way. I cannot name all three owls in my apartment. That would be weird. And I don’t want to drive away my real friends by spending too much time with my newly acquired/created owl friends.

So I just wish them a little hello when I come in. And they monitor the stair at night.

If you live alone, and even if you don’t, you might consider painting yourself a new friend.



Party Party Party (With Internet Friends)

No Minimalist Here


The Shabby Nest

French Country Cottage

Common Ground

Happy Hour Projects

Tatertots and Jello

Funky Junk Interiors

Be Different, Act Normal

The Tablescaper

Copy of An Edward Hopper Painting

Copy of An Edward Hopper Painting

In my first painting class in Berkeley, one of the assignments was to copy a famous painting, but to make it bi-chromatic (meaning, only use two colors, and various shades of black/white). I have a major art crush on Edward Hopper.

Here is the original: Chop Suey, 32″ x 38″, oil on canvas.

Chop Suey, Original by Edward Hopper

Here is my bi-chromatic copy: Acrylic on canvas (I was still afraid of oil paints at the time), I think 20″ x 24″ (? not certain ?):

Copy of Chop Suey in Orange and Blue.

I wish I had taken the photograph of the copy with better lighting and a better camera (I am always lamenting this, and for that I apologize. One day, I am going to take awesome photos and then you’ll see… you’ll see what things actually look like in person instead of some blurry facsimile of what I see in person. I would go back and retake this photo now, but I took it a few years ago, and now the painting is at my parents house…etc…). Anyway, this was one of my first paintings with acrylic. I know it’s not perfect, but I am really proud of the way that I captured the light on the jacket hanging above the woman’s head. Nonetheless, looking at the comparison right now makes me feel like a novice (which I was when I painted this), which is why people are blogging about Hopper and I am the only person blogging about me, I guess.

There are still a bunch of areas that I painted too literally. This is one of my biggest painting mistakes – I always want to go in with this tiny little brush and I get too uptight. I lose sight of the forest for all the trees. Sometimes, when I am feeling super disciplined, I won’t let myself use the small brushes – only the big ones – so that way I can focus on the feeling instead of on the minute details that end up taking away from the feeling.

Has anyone ever actually eaten chop suey? I feel like it’s one of those things we always talk about, but never actually try? Huh.

Bi-chromatically yours,


You Rock, Rock! (or, Jacob’s Ladder)

You Rock, Rock! (or, Jacob’s Ladder)

So, when I was deciding on whether to go to law school or to pursue a masters in fine arts focusing on painting, I came up with a masters thesis with my dear friend, Sara.

Maybe we are both a little too obsessed with the movie, I Heart Huckabees, but we both thought that a whole art show on the theme of “You Rock, Rock,” would be epic. Here is the poem from Huckabees that inspired it all:

Nobody sits like this rock sits

You rock, rock

The rock just sits, and is

You show us how to just sit there,

and that’s what we need

If you don’t get it, then I don’t know what to tell you. It speaks to me on SO many levels, including the ironic, tongue-in-cheek level to the super-serious OMG-that-is-so-deep level. Whatevs. Don’t judge.

Anywho… back to the point of this tale: I was going to do a series of paintings about rocks. Rocks in all different cultures, different religions, throughout history. Think about it: David used a rock to slay Goliath; the Rock of Gibraltar; the Dome of the Rock; extinction of dinosaurs from a meteor (aka really big rock); the Black Stone (rock in the Kaaba in Mecca); Jesus’s water from a stone; and then even more modern stuff like the expression “rock and roll.”  The list goes ON and ON. Just like rocks do. There was tons of material. Man, was I going to be famous, or what!?!? Right!?!? Or at least I was going to have ridiculously cool artists studio where I created my masterpieces and wear funky jewelry and not bathe regularly.

However, I ultimately chose law school over art school. But, I never gave up on the “You Rock, Rock” painting themes. So I painted Jacob’s Ladder:

Jacob's Ladder, 4' x 5', Acrylic on Canvas

For those of you not familiar with the story, Jacob, the prophet, is wandering in the desert, after the whole thing with his jerky brother Esau, and lays down to sleep. He uses a rock for a pillow. That night he has this crazy dream that there is a ladder or stair running up to heaven and angels are traversing the ladder/stair. At the top is G-d. And G-d tells Jacob that he will be prosperous and multiple and G-d will be with him…yadda yadda yadda… (I am really not religious so much as I am spiritual, but my Sunday school training taught me not to spell out G-d with the full letters and I cannot break the habit). And then Jacob named the place “Bethel” which literally means House of G-d.

Read the rest of this entry

Ru Paul is Awesome

Ru Paul is Awesome

I did this dyptic series during senior year of college – is it possible that this was almost 5 years ago? Yeesh, I am getting old.

Ru Paul is just awesome. I wanted to capture Ru Paul as a man and as woman. I like how the Ru Paul as a woman painting came out much better than Ru Paul as a man. There were always things in the man painting that I wanted to go back and fix, but doing the woman painting was so much more fun that I never got around to it.

Ru Paul 1, 4'x5', Acrylic on Canvas

And here is Ru Paul as a man – not nearly as good or exciting. But I think the way I paint is heavily influenced by the subject matter, so it makes sense that this painting is more uptight than the previous painting, I guess:

Ru Paul 2, 4'x5', Acrylic on Canvas

And some close ups from the Ru Paul Woman painting:

And check out those awesome legs:

The legs are definitely my favorite part of the painting. Ru Paul has AMAZING legs.

Ahh, this painting makes me want to watch “But, I’m a Cheerleader.” Ru Paul is awesome in that film:

Love it. And love you for reading this! Thanks!

– Rachel