Historical Family Portrait, a recent commission

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I had the absolute pleasure of reproducing this family portrait, an ancient black and white photo, in oil on canvas! This one was especially a challenge since the old photo I had for a reference was very faded. It was printed on a postcard! Missing was an exact date and I had to imagine who took the photo, what the circumstances were, and how it ended up printed on this now aged and stained postcard stock.

I invented some of the detail after researching other antique photos from around the same time period, but didn’t want to add too much detail and alter the images and personality of the people in the photo. I also added some color, but sparingly, as I wanted to reproduce the feeling of this old faded photograph.

Carefully studying the form and gesture of each person, I worked to capture them as accurately as I could, and to represent the beauty and dignity each person displayed. The photo looks as if it was a sunny day as their faces are slightly shadowed, probably on a Sunday before or after church, everyone dressed in their best. I loved how the younger boys look as if they were growing out of their suit jackets, while the oldest boy was proudly growing into his. I couldn’t tell what the woman on the far left was holding; I imagined that she may have picked some wildflowers on her way.

I wanted to show the weathered texture of the building they’re standing in front of, not sure if it was a house or a barn. I imagined how warm the earth felt beneath their bare feet and how proud and fancy the young girls felt with crisp white bows in their hair.

As I worked, and carefully studied the photograph for weeks, I fell in love with each one, but especially the matriarch, the woman seated in the center with the rest of the family lovingly arranged around her. Her beauty inspired me to do a separate study of her. She’s amazing!

Here are some of the wonderful photos that inspired me when I researched.


Yes, I will pay back my student loans…someday. In the meantime, I paint!

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In process kewpie sitting in vintage cabinet
In process oil on canvas

Someone recently told me that “Students who take out excessive loans, enjoy their college years, and don’t work during that time earn less sympathy.” As if college is just a big carefree party for free loaders!

Everyone deserves an education! For years I didn’t go to college because I didn’t think I could afford it, always struggling in low paying jobs kept me distracted and thinking I couldn’t go to school at the same time.

For 10 years I drove past our college and saw the warm lights shining out of the tall windows of the library and just knew in my gut that I wanted to be there! Finally when my boys got a bit older I felt like I had the time and energy to tackle college. My desire to grow and learn outweighed my fear and idea that I was not worthy of education. I walked in and found out I could get a degree in only four years and that there were grants and loans available for me to do that! I registered and started classes that evening! I felt like I was “home.”

I learned things I would never have learned if I let myself stay stuck in one dead-end job after another. My self knowledge and confidence grew. I found a way to do the things I’ve always wanted to do! I met amazing people – students and professors – who are still in my life today.

When my fiancé died from suicide ten years ago and I was unable to function in a 9 to 5 (nearly paralyzed by PTSD, depression, and anxiety) it was school that kept me going. I found out I could increase the amount I was borrowing in order to pay my bills while I finished up that last year of school. And that’s what I did. Meanwhile, government grants were eliminated and tuition rates rose every year.

Then after graduation, knowing full well all along that I would be paying my loans back and fulfilling my obligation, I got the first bill. My monthly payment was over $650! Who can afford that! Even if I had landed a job utilizing one of my degrees immediately after graduation, wouldn’t be able to afford a monthly payment that high. When I applied for income based repayment it went down to like $39 a month.

I know lots of other people in this same situation. For most, college is not a four year party, a free ride, or enjoyable most of the time; it’s very hard work and a major accomplishment. However, I don’t expect sympathy from people who have never gone to college, or invested in their education, or even try to understand the people who do.

Troll at the salon. Oil on canvas.
The Sandbox. Oil on canvas

#educationextortion #studentdebt #everyonedeserveseducation #educationisnotaprivilege #shamedforwantingmore

Back At It

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Finally getting back into the studio on a more regular basis and it feels great! Now that I have a job that doesn’t suck the life out of me, completely in line with my beliefs, helping to fight the good fight, I have more mental and physical energy to paint! Yay!

Paintings usually evolve over time. This one I started quite a while ago, set it aside to finish up some commissioned paintings, and now I’m back to it. Here are some in-process shots of this Troll having the time of his life in the sandbox…

Any suggestions on what to call this one?

Decided to change the bulldozer to a sand pail

…then decided on a different sand pail.

Almost done….

It’s ON! Ray’s hiking the PCT!

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It’s officially happening! Ray is hiking the PCT – that’s the Pacific Crest Trail. That’s 2,650 miles walking up and down mountains, through forests, deserts, sun, rain, snow… all with everything he needs to eat, sleep…live on his back. For five months! It’s a dream come true! …by the way, for any of you who don’t know, Ray is my boyfriend – Ray Knirs.

After months of thinking, planning, dreaming, researching, collecting gear, one failed attempt to get a permit… his permit was finally approved and a start date was set! March 14th!

Ray has almost everything he needs now except a few pieces of gear, food, etc. (see list below) but he’s still working on one major thing – piece of mind, knowing he’ll have enough cash to fund this endeavor.

He’s working to make all this happen on his own of course, too stubborn to ask for help or sponsors, so I’m reaching out. I’m doing this “secretly.” I don’t think he’ll see this blog post, but if he does he’ll just have to figure out how to accept help from the people who love him.

To help Ray make it from Mexico to Canada on the PCT this Spring, contact me! My email is

I’m HQ – I’ll be shipping him resupply boxes along the way and tracking his progress and giving y’all updates on where he is and how he’s doing along the way. I’m even planning to fly out there (probably in Oregon or Washington) to hike with him for a week.

Here’s what Ray still needs, as of right this minute, till he figures out he needs something else:

  • rain poncho
  • sealskin socks
  • polyester base layer tights
  • more freeze-dried and dehydrated foods
  • CASH for his plane ticket back, shipping resupply boxes, resupplies, a few motel stays (He’ll have to take a shower once in a while – Ha!) and maybe cash to bribe for rides into town to resupply.

You can paypal me at or Venmo me or send a check…whatever is easiest for you. Thank you!

#pacificcresttrail #pct #thruhike #hiking #thehikingpotter #thewanderings2022 #potterbyray

Bad photos of good paintings

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…are better than good photos of bad paintings. Been playing with photoshop to clean up some images of paintings that have gone to good homes and thinking about what I’m gonna paint next.

Started a new job this week as admin support for the Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program at a local university that’s just down the street from my house. I’m so excited to have more time to paint! And also to see just how unabashedly feminist I can be!

And sometimes your studio looks like this

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Currently, my studio is full of hiking gear and I’ve been distracted and busy hiking and helping Boyfriend plan a major hiking excursion that is quickly drawing nearer…

But I have taken some time to show my work at the Open Air Gallery at the Corner and I’m planning my next paintings which will include more sock monkey adventures, of course. Stay tuned…

Yup, all things are connected

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Sometimes I’m reminded of how all things are connected, of how things that are right for you are drawn to you, what you need at any given time…it comes.

Lately, I’ve been working feverishly in my yard – creating new beds, planting new shrubs and flowers, spreading mulch, creating walkways with step stones. And while I’ve been working I’ve been feeling like I’m not accomplishing anything since I’m not in the studio painting. Ridiculous, I know.

Then I realized that this is my cycle. Every Spring when it starts to get warmer out, I get the urge to get outside and plant stuff, and ready my yard for hanging out in the summer. And it’s been gorgeous out! I’ve been able to be outside while the azaleas and dogwoods bloom and everything gets lush and greener.

And in doing all this compulsive digging, I feel as if I’m really getting to know this little patch of earth that I call my own. So far, I’ve unearthed an old metal toy car and two marbles; I’m sure there’s more goodies hidden just under the grass.

And then I come across this article in Brain Pickins about Derek Jarman and his gardening and how this creative gardening process helped him accept his fate, deal with his grief and it was beautiful and I completely identified with his efforts, his process in his garden… Here’s a link to the article:

And all things are connected. I might be working something out, even if I’m not conscious of exactly what it is. Or maybe I’m simply enjoying the hard work, the joy of getting my hands dirty, the time I have now to go wild and do each project that comes into my mind while I’m waiting for my next job, next opportunity. And soon I’ll feel the urge to get back in the studio. (Especially now that the garden I’ve planted looks perfect from my studio window!)

Sock Monkey Adventures Now in Prints!

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Two of my sock monkey paintings are now available in 11×14 matted prints. Just $29 plus shipping will get you one of these for your very own!

They’re available through my etsy but if you contact me directly at I can give you this discounted price.

Add a sock monkey adventure to your life!

A Walk in The Park – 11×14 matted digital print
Not the Last Picture Show – 11×14 matted digital print

Have you ever noticed a theme in your work that you didn’t see before?

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In mine? Furniture!

The Sculptor’s Shirt
Miss Kitty and the Not So Cheerful Cherub
Lucky Doll
Self-Portrait with Sock Monkey

Sketches, Studies, and Sock Monkeys

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I’ve been teaching my drawing classes, in-person and online, and my demo drawings have become a catalyst for my own work.

Here’s a study in preparation of the next Sock Money Adventure painting…

Stay tuned for further progress.