Anybody remember Myers-Briggs?   Here’s an internet version of the personality test that’s quick and user-friendly.    It’s fun, take it!  What’s your type?

Me:  INFJ.  Same every time.

Apparently, less than 1% of the population tests out as INFJ.  It’s described as a unique combination of idealism and decisiveness: creativity and imagination can be directed towards a specific goal. This helps INFJs realize their dreams and make a lasting positive impact.  Good to hear!

Likely careers: artist, lawyer.  Haha.  Maybe they do have me pegged.

Well, I need to get my goal-oriented INFJ self off the computer and into the studio.  Have a great day everybody!

I’d like to speak with the person in charge of, um, scheduling?

In case you were out there wondering about The Great Blog Famine of 2013, let’s just say that I have been busy.

As it turns out, six shows in a row in six different states in one spring is a lot.  So is spending three weeks in July hoofing it up to Ann Arbor, then out to Denver and back.  And the 24 days from Atlanta to Lexington, Bend, and Sausalito was the mother of all road trips.  It took 6,744 miles, about $1,800 in gas, and the rest of summer.  Factor in some time for painting, and I have been busy.  REALLY.  Busy.

Not that that is any excuse.  Plenty of folks juggle busy lives and hectic show schedules and still crank out regular, witty posts.  One artist in particular  continually impresses me with her ability to keep current about a dozen blogs, facebook pages, and newsletters.  Kicking it up a notch this summer, Kathrine added an extra blog recounting the travels and travails of meandering across the country in a 32′ RV with three people, a lot of art, and a pug named Mitzi.   It’s hilarious.  KAC also wears snazzy outfits to shows.  She’s a machine.


You’d think that with all the time riding in a van this year, MY blog would be current, too. But roadtripping requires a surprising amount of mental energy, and not just to keep it between the ditches.  I travel with another artist, and we split the driving.  I take the early shift while she caffeinates, and she drives during the day while I wear my lawyer hat at the other j-o-b.*  Then we switch drivers again as many times as we need to until we get where we’re going.

For this last trip I downloaded 5 books to my kindle, packed a stack of magazines, updated the Pandora and NPR apps, and Daphne borrrowed an entire row of books on tape from the library.  In 24 days I think we listened to a little NPR in the morning, almost no music, and I didn’t touch the kindle or magazines.  We half-listened to one book on tape.  Maybe we would have listened to more books on tape had they been interesting, or maybe not.**  Such diversions require extra mental energy, and there’s not much to spare after a long day in the Beast.

That’s okay, though, because one of my favorite parts of doing art shows is simply the getting there.  I like the fun destinations, shows, and catching up with friends, too.   But the in-between has its own magic.  I love watching the landscape unfold from palm trees to conifers and mountains to rolling pastures, corn fields, deserts, red rocks, more mountains, and coastine.   So I tend to just enjoy, snap a few photos, and stop off here and there at interesting places to break up the drive.  It’s SO great to experience the country this way.  Busy or not, I wouldn’t change this lifestyle for the world.

It may not happen today, but I will include some photos from the road in the next entry.   A few shots did make it to Instagram, so feel free to follow along there (carstensenart) if that’s your thing.

And that’s the story of The Great Blog Famine of 2013.    Stay tuned, as I have spoken with the *ahem* scheduling department, and I’m sure I will be SO much better at blogging next year!!

* Can I get a shout out for the AMAZING guys I work with who allow me to work remotely so that I can pursue both my passion and my profession?!   I am one lucky girl to have their support.

** Daphne usually just checks out the first armload she sees, so her books-on-tape success rate is about 2%.

Ides (Idle?) of March

A friend recently posted something about her plans to “make March my in like a lion, out like a lamb bitch.”  That pretty much sums up my goal for March, although around here it tends to be more in like a lamb, out like a lion.  The year starts off slowly, just a couple of shows to get back in the saddle after ample winter down time by the fire.  By April, art show season is in full swing, and it’s not uncommon to be in six states in as many weeks.  March, if well-spent, involves booking hotels, paying for booths, delivering to galleries, ordering frames, updating the website, and making some serious headway on paintings.  Working in oils is a time-intensive process, and the spring lineup doesn’t leave the kind of studio time necessary to create entire bodies of work between shows.  So in March I try to paint the first several layers on a bunch of canvases, hoping to have works in all stages of completion dry and ready to finish between events.  It’s a month for getting ahead so you don’t quickly fall behind.

Of course, there’s dangerously little on the art calendar in March, and the weather in Florida tends to be gorgeous.  It is easy to get lost in BBQs and beach days and brunch outside and sewing adorable lobster fabric into spring dresses and enjoying good books and margaritas by the pool.  And tacos.  I have developed a recent obsession with buffalo chicken tacos.  Procrastination lurks in every corner and taqueria this time of year.  I also wear a couple of other hats with their own to-do lists, so there is no shortage of ways to divide my time and attention.  It takes some serious focus to get it all done and find time for the fun stuff, too.  Halfway through, I’m not sure I’ve made March my bitch.  But the to-do list is well underway, some great paintings are in the making, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic spring.

Michael P. Silver Purchase Award

I joke that my dad gets more excited about these ribbons than I do, but my happy dance tells otherwise.  I was SO thrilled to receive the Michael P. Silver Purchase Award at Gasparilla Festival of Arts.  It was the highlight of many great moments this weekend while exhibiting in my hometown.   Thank you, Tampa.



When they bombed Hiroshima

“When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini-supernova, so every living animal, human or plant that received direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash.

And what was left of the city soon followed. The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder.

When I was born, my mom says I looked around the whole hospital room with a stare that said, “This? I’ve done this before.” She says I have old eyes.

When my Grandpa Genji died, I was only five years old, but I took my mom by the hand and told her, “Don’t worry, he’ll come back as a baby.”

And yet, for someone who’s apparently done this already, I still haven’t figured anything out yet.

My knees still buckle every time I get on a stage. My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth.

But in Hiroshima, some people were wiped clean away, leaving only a wristwatch or a diary page. So no matter that I have inhibitions to fill all my pockets, I keep trying, hoping that one day I’ll write a poem I can be proud to let sit in a museum exhibit as the only proof I existed.

My parents named me Sarah, which is a biblical name. In the original story God told Sarah she could do something impossible and she laughed, because the first Sarah, she didn’t know what to do with impossible.

And me? Well, neither do I, but I see the impossible every day. Impossible is trying to connect in this world, trying to hold onto others while things are blowing up around you, knowing that while you’re speaking, they aren’t just waiting for their turn to talk — they hear you. They feel exactly what you feel at the same time that you feel it. It’s what I strive for every time I open my mouth — that impossible connection.

There’s this piece of wall in Hiroshima that was completely burnt black by the radiation. But on the front step, a person who was sitting there blocked the rays from hitting the stone. The only thing left now is a permanent shadow of positive light. After the A bomb, specialists said it would take 75 years for the radiation damaged soil of Hiroshima City to ever grow anything again. But that spring, there were new buds popping up from the earth.

When I meet you, in that moment, I’m no longer a part of your future. I start quickly becoming part of your past. But in that instant, I get to share your present. And you, you get to share mine. And that is the greatest present of all.

So if you tell me I can do the impossible, I’ll probably laugh at you. I don’t know if I can change the world yet, because I don’t know that much about it — and I don’t know that much about reincarnation either, but if you make me laugh hard enough, sometimes I forget what century I’m in.

This isn’t my first time here. This isn’t my last time here. These aren’t the last words I’ll share.

But just in case, I’m trying my hardest to get it right this time around.”

-Sarah Kay

Good Things

Just a quick blog, barely worth a read, except that it is all about good things.

The season’s first art show brought some fun surprises.  I shared the road with a peacock in Coconut Grove.  That was a first for me.  The photos don’t capture his full-feathered glory, but he was a beauty.


peacock 2

An entirely different kind of blue, I won first place in painting at the Beaux Arts Festival in Coral Gables.  It was the cherry on an otherwise perfect weekend.

beaux arts

And speaking of cherries, I have been invited to exhibit at the 2013 Cherry Creek Arts Festival.  This is the holy grail of art shows — the best in the country — and needless to say I am SO excited.  Catch me doing backflips all the way to Denver this July.

Hello 2013, and keep the good things coming!


Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.