Life as I know It

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San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"An Enormous Suitcase full of Magic"


"It's like you're around with this enormous suitcase full of magic and you are never allowed to open it because the rules say that the things in that suitcase are not worthy of artistic consideration.

Worlds, childhood memories, pretend, fantasy, archaeology–all that. And so, until I could open that suitcase, I didn't really have anything to work with. It was like trying to paint with your hands tied behind your back."

Melissa Zink

Melissa Zink was a New Mexico artists who thought of artists as "miners and explorers," which is so true. Her work was fantastic. I enjoyed some of it in galleries and some at the Museum of Art in Albuquerque. Her words about the "enormous magical suitcase" were printed on a small card that hung near her creation.

Hello dear friends,

I am home in California and have worn myself to a frazzle working in the garden (what joy!). Topping beds, spreading manure, planting, watering, fertilizing, and just plain enjoying the beauty, the butterflies, and the birds...oh, and a troupe of new baby alligator lizards. Fabulous!

Jeff is helping me weed and top all the beds with mulch and straw (not hay). Next week I'll plant chard, broccoli, cabbage, and lots of herbs. This little birdbath belonged to my Gramma Nonie Clarke. I treasure it as do the Hermit thrushes who visit late in the afternoon

My grands visited, tugged rainbow carrots out of a tin washtub and declared, "Ummm, these are candy." They harvested tomatoes, thyme, guavas, and Pink Lady apples. They sat around our candlelit table and shared an "unbirthday" surprise party with their Grandpa Jeff, and they filled our home with laughter and the simple discoveries of childhood. Hurrah!

This is really a post about creativity. I always love to visit artists in their studios and see if they live their lives creatively, not only in their works, but in all aspects of life.

Fat pieces of chalk are kept nearby for those fleeting moments of inspiration.

Recently we got a peek into the home of two creative people. Their kitchen was my favorite place. Let me share their very un-kitcheny great wall of art. All it took was a can of blackboard paint, some fat, colorful chalks, and creativity. I have one small wall in the kids' room that I could use. I think they'd love it.

Nobody can walk by without stopping to enjoy (or add to) this dynamic wall. Love the calendar.

A rainbow zebra

A close-up

The "Great Wall" of Damariscotta, Maine

This is a short one, but I have so much happening here it is a wonder that I could sit down and do this today. The garden calls...


P.S. Bird lovers come visit the new blog posting on Lowe's Creative Ideas. I'd love to hear from you.


Aunt Jenny said...

How fun that you are back home in Calif. I sure wish I could visit CAlif this fall.
I have so much garden work to catch up on now..putting things to bed for winter is a big deal here. I miss planting my sweet peas in January!! (here I am lucky to get them planted in april!!
I love the chalk walls. My daycare kids and I go out front nearly every day and I let them go wild drawing all over the front stretches from my front door to the mailbox. I would love to take it out and put in something more old fashioned but they get such joy from it that I never will. We got 3D chalk the other day and they had such a time looking through the funny glasses at their creations. When the rain washes them away it is time for a whole new batch. That is one thing I really miss in winter. I do have a big chalk board on an easel in the playroom that gets used more in fun to see what they come up with. Maybe one of them will be an artist someday like you!
Have a great week!

Pat said...

Welcome home! Betting it is hard to know where you want to be first - though the garden would call the loudest!

That chalkboard wall is incredible - it seems to fill the entire room with life - and what a spontaneous conversation starter for visitors!

Happy Planting!!

Farm Girl said...

Welcome back!! I am so glad you are back now that we are having one of the prettiest Octobers I ever remember. I bet you have been busy.
I like all that you said about creativity. It has always been my goal as a mother and now a grand mother that there was always time to be creative. I love when my grands come over and they always want to draw with chalk.
I just wanted to say hello.

Terra said...

What a wildly creative blackboard wall. When you wrote "Damariscotta" I remembered I want to ask you if you read Van Reid's book "Cornelia Underwood" set in Maine ca. 1896. Damariscotta figures in it. I love that book and I know you live in Maine part of each year.

Kay G. said...

Dear Sharon,
Welcome back home to California!
Love the look of those carrots. Do they taste as good as they look?
Great kitchen wall of your friends!
What a great idea! Going now to your Loew's blog, you know I love the birds!

Annelies said...

Welcome home....and I now understand your heart tug between coasts. We just got home from a glorious New England trip with much of our time in Maine. How blessed you are to live it two such lovely places.

Anonymous said...

wow you are busy, I think its great your grandkids love carrots they call them candy.Thats chalk board wall is really something,, I think I would love that.I have been painting for a long time but I'm slowing down as I'm losing my sight from a head injury,, a chalk board would enable me to work on a more casual way,, I love it and I think I will do this,, thankyou for the idea,,

Anonymous said...

Up here in the north I have prepared the garden for winter now :-) After several nights with frost not even the grass grows any longer, but I did find some dandelions in bloom yesterday :-)

I like that wall! No good place for me to have one in my small cottage though.

Have a great day!

Pondside said...

It's nice to know you're safely back on this side of the continent. I'm sure you'll be busy for a good while, as you settle back into life and get things sorted out. Have fun!

Darla said...

Welcome back to California, sounds as if you are already enjoying it. Glad your grands have a bit time and wow! that wall is quite impressive.

Cristy said...

I loved your post today. I blogged about this, too, and linked to your post. You can see it at

Susan said...

Welcome back to the West Coast! My garden is calling, but the rain makes it very hard to enjoy it :(!
The "chalkboard wall" brought back the memory of Kelly painting one in the kitchen for Ari to enjoy. Of course, when I visited we had fun drawing together. I love to inspire new artists and break down the walls to creativity when I teach adults.
I bet your grands are happy to have you home! XOXO

Glynis Peters said...

What a fun idea, a chalkboard wall!

Love the fact your grandchildren love the fresh veggies and liken them to candy. :D

Vicki Boster said...

Hi Sharon- it must feel SO good to be able to "play in the dirt" at your west coast home- and such a sense of fulfillment to step back and see what you've accomplished. All those wonderful veggies and new baby lizards-- such fun. I did not realize that your grandchildren were so close to you there-- oh you are going to have a wonderful winter stay!!

Your artist friend has an incredible home- love that blackboard wall!! That is ingenuous- I too love to see where artists live- it is so interesting to see how their creative artistry is carved into their everyday lives.

I view you as one of those amazingly gifted people---your homes and gardens are SO an extension of who you are--

Welcome home--

Sharon Lovejoy said...

LOVE the personal e-mails I have received about this posting. Creativity sure evokes thoughts from many.

Now, make me a promise, please!

If you do a chalk wall I would love you to share a photo of it.

Thanks a zillion-the garden calls, or SHOUTS for my attention AND it is Jeff's birthday today so we must celebrate.



Kay G. said...

Happy Birthday to Jeff!

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

You always make me smile and I feel as though I am right there with you...

kj said...

hello sharon! welcome home. i can't believe you are in your yard and garden already. (while i sit in the porch looking out the window and typing words into sentences into stories) :^)

i've thought about a chalkboard for the inside of my outside fence. why not?! but i don't think i could manage to be as whimsicallya artistic as your friends'

i'm glad to got to experience a good bit of autumn before you left maine. it's been pretty damn nice around these parts.

my big plan is next year at the pumpkin judging i am going to just stand there and smile at you.


Michelle said...

What a creative chalkboard! I adore the way it just takes over the wall.

Carol said...

Oh Sharon . . . how lovely for you to be back in your warm and sunny California home! I do envy you!! I love the chalk board idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Got to do that for my guests. ;>)

Thea said...

i've been wanting to do one! enjoy your garden!

Short Poems said...

Beautiful blog and great it!

take care


Isn't it interesting that with all the schools going to white boards that the good ole fashioned chalkboard is making a comeback? This is a wonderful illustration of creativity! Thanks for sharing, Sharon. Don't overdo it in the garden. :)

RURAL said...

Inspiration is a wonderful thing, and that wall, is sooo inspiring.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Lili said...

Oh gosh Sharon, it must be so much fun to be back there digging in the dirt! I love the idea of growing those rainbow carrots in a tub, I'm imagining it was one of those wonderful galvanzed ones too. Sure hope Jeff had a great birthday and had some yummy cake to's essential you know! Thanks for the creative pics, I'm all over that blackboard wall idea, I LOVE 'em! Unfortunately Henri says his knotty pine has to stay :( Take care my friend and I'm off to check out your newest Lowes post! xoxo ~Lili

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Wow, what an amazing blackboard, what an inspiration, thank you as always Sharon,

Love Sarah XxX

kj said...

hello, i'm back again soley because it's so nice to be here.


jerilanders said...

It IS always interesting to visit other artists homes, usually I am so pleased and fascinated. However,I once visited an artist friends house and was very surprised that her home lacked any of the creativity that was in her art.. I found it perplexing.It was somber and dull.. weird. Well, there is nothing somber about THAT kitchen. HURRAH!

Folkways Note Book said...

How creative is that -- a blackboard wall -- hmm -- where can I use this idea. -- barbara

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Jeri, Oh I would be SO DISAPPOINTED if one of my favorite artists turned out to be uncreative in the studio or homefront. Yikes, that is like opening the pages of a beautiful book and finding a blank.

Folkways, YOU HAVE ROOM. Try it inside a closet door for beginners. I love it.



Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Just blew back in after being in the Windy City! Got my prize in the mail on my return. Never thought dry shade was a place I could plant! Yikes! Will have a doors post one of these days for you. Of course, our front door had issues and is sitting on its side in the garage! Will have to be finished after Halloween! Bye for now! You are surrounded by very creative people, including the grands. How fun! xxoo Nancy

Cher' Shots said...

Great post ~ Love the chalkboard wall. It reminded me of the huge blackboard my in-laws had in thier upstairs hallway. When we would go to visit them it kept my children buzy with creativity for hours on end.
'hugs from afar'

Pam said...

So, you bugged outta the Northeast just in time to miss the snow? Lucky you - gardening! Only a few more months and I can do that too! The chalkboard reminds me of one my grandmother had in her kitchen for us to leave pictures on. It was not as large as the one you show, but what fun!
Enjoy all that play time in the dirt.

Betty said...

You sound excited to be back in your California garden:) Don't know how you find time to do all that you do!
That 'Art Wall' is very impressive!

suzanne said...

Dear Sharon

I have loved reading through your blog this morning before the children wake..Thank you for your Birthday wishes for Olivia. Your new blog photograph is oh too sweet. I just love Robins. He looks just like mine. I have so many darting around my garden at the moment. Most of them cherping as their babies leave the can almost hear their panic as they guide their babies around the garden. My garden at present is a jewelry box of color. My hollyhox's are just starting to bloom and my fox gloves are standing proud. My sunflowers are small and Ilook forward to their greeting in December.

So lovely to visit you here
Lots of love

Sharon Lovejoy said...

My dear Suzanne,

Isn't it amazing that you are in South Africa reading this posting and that we can "drop in" on each other whenever we have a moment? I love that about blogging...we become a part of the fabric of so many new lives.

Thanks for dropping by...I can't wait to hear about your summer as it approaches...your sunflowers in bloom, mine cut and feeding the goldfinches.



Sharon said...

LOVE the chalkboard wall! What a great idea! I am not especially artistic, but my grands would love the opportunity to draw anytime they visit instead of only when the weather is nice and they can draw on the driveway.

Denise said...

Can you be the same Sharon Lovejoy that lives in Cambria that likes to dog sit?Last year a Sharon Lovejoy near Cambria CA. dog sat for us while we visited the castle at Christmas.Wouldn't that be odd that I would happen to come across her while browsing blogs.HA!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Denise,

Nope, I'm not the same...but I lived in Cambria for many, many years. Didn't know there was another Lovejoy nearby. Perhaps we are related since our family isn't large.

I work full time writing and live in San Luis Obispo now.

And when not writing? GARDENING, caring for my grands, living in Maine, or cooking...


Susan said...

I just got home on Friday and have a lot of catching up to do. My little King comes on December 21st and I feel times creeping up so fast. I need something positive to look forward to with all the negative I've dealt with.
Happy Holidays dear friend...have a wonderful time with your beautiful family. XOXO