Happy Birthday, Patricia. I hope this year takes you to new heights!

I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my friend, fellow artist and blogger, Patricia van Essche! Patricia is one of those unique people who has a special gift for befriending, advising and nurturing the people in her life - whether that be her family, friends, colleagues or neighbors. She is a woman who manages to somehow keep a million things going at the same time, all the while keeping tabs on those important to her. I hope this day will bring you many special moments, some pampering and at least a fractional realization of how much you are loved and appreciated by those whose lives you touch.


Not just for babies anymore.....

These are my favorite!

My latest find, babytears. I have been loooking for this plant forever and just found one at my local nursery. I popped it into an IKEA pot and it loves my bathroom!

My friend PVE tagged me over a week ago to participate in a little blogging game and I am just now getting to it. Sorry for my tardiness, Patricia!
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
4. Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave them a comment so they know they've been tagged.

This one was easy because there are all sorts of trivial, boring and unspectacular things about me. So, here goes:
1) I am a germaphobe and carry antibacterial wipes with me everwhere.
2) I love iced lattes
3) Someone once told me I brush my teeth like a German - not sure what they meant by that, BUT I think about it almost every time I brush my teeth.
4) I wish I lived in a place where I didn't need a car (car= money pit).
5) I love checking things off my to-do list.
6) I have a thing for plants, especially house plants.

Since I am so late at this, I think everyone I know has already been tagged within the past week, so I will spare them the trouble of having to figure out a way to politely decline. LOL. Have a great Monday everyone!


Today I want to introduce you to another wonderful artist/designer, business owner and blogging friend, Marnie Ruane. I first became acquainted with Marnie's great designs through my friend PVE. Getting to know her a little has been a delight! Marnie has indulged my inquisitive nature with a little info. on herself and what makes Marnie tick!

Marnie and her daughter, Isabel

Marnie's desk and a photo with her husband.

Can you tell us a little about your background and home life?
Married for almost 20 years to a wonderful, yet unpredictable guy, dh, as he is sometimes referred to in my posts, (dear hubby). We are opposite in so many ways, yet it works. We have a terrific daughter, Isabel, who I mention on the blog periodically, 16 years old and quite independent and our dear dog named Libby, pictured on the blog next to me, "the mound of black fluff". She is a poodle - smart and active who thinks she is a "big" dog.
I was born in Boston and lived there until I was 25. Then I took a leap and moved to New York City where I stayed for 12 years. Branching out to NYC wasn't enough, so I took a year off from work, and went to London to study art history when I was 29. One of the best years of my life. Upon the arrival of our daughter we settled in Connecticut.

One of Marnie's great frame designs
What are your favorite foods?
Soft-shelled crabs (my husband makes them for me on every birthday) and ice cream cones - especially pistachio (but it must be white and not green) with chocolate jimmies (that's what we call sprinkles in Boston), second choice, plain vanilla with jimmies.
Three words to describe you? Passionate, Practical and Pollyanna!

Marnie has a terrific shop on Etsy - this is her Etsy store banner, I love it, don't you?!

Another of her colorful and preppy designs in classic madras patchwork.
Any favorite colors?
Celadon green and bird's egg blue. I collect all sorts of objects in celadon green: fire king mixing bowls, vases, wastebasket, tins, a tea cosy, aprons, etc. I also love the pink/red family of colors.
What did you aspire to in your youth?
When I was quite young I wanted to be a 1st grade teacher but that did not last long...I love art history... and thought a position at one of the auction houses would be great. Working for a company like Colefax and Fowler would be great too!
How do you get inspired?
My inspiration comes from reading and looking at everything around me - just keeping my eyes open, ears open and mind open - color, ideas, daydreaming.

Marnie's blog header created by our mutual friend, Patricia van Essche of PVE Designs.
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your success/well-being as a person and artist/business owner?
This question is really a two part - because creativity and business do not always go hand in hand...
Favorite things essential to my success/well being as an artist -
Organization of time and space; a place of my own, even if it is the studio in our extra long garage; happiness, peace and balance in my life.
Favorite things essential to my success/well being as a business -
Believing in myself, organization of time and space, hard work, setting goals, pushing the envelope. To use current lingo, stepping out of my comfort zone and my excel spread sheets.
A year ago I started working with SCORE, a national organization of retired individuals who are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs - it has been wonderful - they help me set targets, evaluate my business, and provide useful constructive advice, keeping me focused and consequently, energized.
What keeps you up at night? Risky ventures
Thanks to Marnie for taking the time to share more with us! You can check out her Etsy store and latest creations here .
Read her delightful blog as well.


Patricia's superior version of a thank-you note

Patricia van Essche - President of the "Artists' Support Network"!!

A gift package, van Essche style! What a gift for presentation!

One of the guys in my "break room"

The view at my recharge spot - not bad, eh?

My break lounge

You know, things have been really crazy here lately. I love my work, but it's also beyond amazing to get away for a couple of hours for a break and recharge. Nothing kills creativity like fatigue, and all it takes sometimes is just a short 2 hour break. When I do need a break, I head to one place in particular, a quiet local beach. Sitting there listening to the surf and soaking up a few rays is my way to relax and I feel so blessed to have such an incredible"breakroom"! Some of the guys there are a little pesky, especially when they come over to beg for food, but I just ignore them and they eventually fly off.

One of the drawbacks of being an artist is that you generally work alone, although that's also how I work best. It's imperative that you make time for social interaction and have a support base to keep you balanced and inspired. That is why it's been so wonderful, since I've been blogging, to meet some incredible people who share many of the same interests and challenges. One person in particular is Patricia van Essche. I am sure many of you have seen her work before and read about her on my blog, as well as many others. She is an amazing artist and one of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever met. I am excited that she is going to start her own blog very soon. Although we've never met yet in person, she has already been such a great friend to me. She has offered me some wonderful advice, sources, support and feedback. The other day, I got a wonderful package in the mail from her. The best part was that she took the time to send me the best thank-you card I've ever received, a hand rendered illustration that's not only adorable, but incredibly clever as well. There was also a charming little painting on wood of a crab. Very apropos for my location! Knowing I love anchovies, she was also thoughtful enough to include some Dutch fish spread her husband loves (she recently returned from a trip to Europe with her family, her in-laws live in Monaco). Her instructions made me laugh - "Eat this on toast with parsley, LOTS of parsley". I am guessing the parsley is to counteract the deathly toxic breath the fish spread probably gives you! LOL. It definitely put a big smile on my face. Thank you, Patricia! I will let you know how it goes when I open the can.....

My point is that, as the year begins to draw to a close, I am so thankful for all the friends I have met here. There's an endless list of people I could thank that includes many fellow bloggers, readers, and clients. Especially, Patricia van Essche, Courtney Barnes, Joni Webb, Ronda Carman and Holly Becker. Thanks for serving as such an inspiration and support network. There is a real "sisterhood" (and brotherhood, too) that's very real, despite the fact that there are many miles between all of us.


Just an invitation to all those readers in the NYC/Westchester County area - my talented artist friend, Patricia van Essche (of PVE Design), has secured a table at the Concord Road Elementary School Holiday Boutique. The sale will be at Concord Road Elementary School on Heatherdell Road in Ardsley, NY on Wednesday, November 28th. Hours are 4:30-9:30 P.M. Patricia will be selling her charming work and inexpensive holiday gifts, including some of my prints, greeting cards and notecards. Also, another friend of Patricia's, who sells unique recycled cashmere creations, will be represented at Patricia's booth. A portion of all proceeds will benefit the school, so if you live nearby, or know someone who does, you will be sure to find some great gifts there and support a great school at the same time. If you get a chance, stop by and meet the lovely, talented and gracious Patricia van Essche and support a great cause!


Patricia at work (can you believe she's a mother of 3?)

A beautifully colorful pattern designed by Patricia

One of Patricia's sketches for J. McLaughlin

A charming interior sketch by Patricia

Devoted mother Patricia pictured here with her 3 children.

Today I want to feature a profile on a friend and fellow artist, Patricia van Essche. Patricia is not only a very talented artist, in several mediums, but also a fascinating personality as well. She was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky in a very nurturing family of 7 children. She attended the highly touted University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Art and Architecture, where she was the recipient of "The Golden Brush Award". Following her education, she worked for 15 years in NYC as a designer and design director for Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne and Ralph Lauren. She now runs her own business, PVE Design, based in Westchester County, NY. She is married and has 3 wonderful children of her own now. She somehow manages to keep many plates spinning successfully at once. She balances her first priority as a dedicated wife and mother, with a successful career in illustration, design and decorative painting. She also sneaks in time for volunteer work, tennis, school activities and teaching at her church. Something tells me that growing up in a large family somehow helped prepare her for a life that is very full, if not challenging, at times. Patricia is a warm and giving lady who exudes class, style, talent and, most importantly, a very giving spirit. She was kind enough to take some time out of her crazy busy schedule to answer a few questions for me.

What is your earliest memory of being involved with the artistic process?
My earliest memory is what you might call "bittersweet". I entered a contest in elementary school and had to sketch a still life, which I did of a vase holding "bittersweet". I remember the intensity of trying to make it look very life-like. Well, the judges said that "it looked like a copy"! I was heartbroken, yet soon realized the importance of realizing one's "own" style. Perhaps my quest for making something real taught me a valuable lesson: that we really have to see something from our own eyes and then interpret it into our own unique style.
I also think that artists are truly born with the gift to create, and finding the medium of your choice to master is a life-long quest. Listening to that "inner voice" and following its' guidance is also very important.
Which artists have inspired and influenced you the most?
That's a difficult question, because there are so many artists that I admire! They are somewhat of a mixed bag because I have always been fascinated with art and fashion. I love the work of John Singer Sargent and admire his famous painting, "Madame X" - love his use of light. Another is Coco Chanel for her brilliant design and style for fashion that still inspires artists and designers today. I also adore ultra modern art and would love a "Stella!" One day one of my twin sons came home from school and asked,"Mom, are we related to van Gogh?"
What do you find is your greatest challenge as an artist?
One of the greatest challenges is to dedicate yourself as an artist to art; by working at it, pursuing it with gusto as an athlete masters his sport or game. As an artist, one of the most difficult things to realize is that you are going to have hard days getting to know your style and also mastering it. I am taking an oil painting class and it is hard - sometimes I feel frustrated and then it all just starts to make sense. Painting in oil and doing the illustrations that I sell are related and yet completely different. The biggest challenge is that, as a working artist, art and ideas are not free. People think that just because you have "talent" that you can share it for free. Free has an audience for worthwhile causes, yet I work very hard to make a living at what I do. With that said, I have been extremely fortunate to do what I love and that is priceless!
Do you have a nickname?
I do. My sisters called me "Treeba" when I started to sprout long, tree legs. Also, when I was growing up in Kentucky, I was called "Trish". When I came to New York, I listed my name as "Patricia" in all of my interviews. This is my real name, the one I love and prefer, given me because I was born on St. Patrick's Day! I am one of 7 children and we all have long or double names. Imagine calling ALL of us for supper!
If you could go anywhere in the world on an all-expenses-paid trip, where would it be and what would you do?
I would go around the world on my own private jet, accompanied by my family. I would stop at every museum, feeding my passion for Art History! (I would also love to have a camera crew in tow, filming it all LIVE!)
If you could host a dinner for any 3 people from the past OR present, who would they be?
I guess I can't say" my 3 children", even though I really would! So, the people I would love to "break bread with" (I can't narrow it down to 3 !) are Mary Cassatt, Coco Chanel, Anna Wintour, Ghandi and Mother Theresa. How's that for a "power lunch"? Can I invite you, too? I promise to use my good stuff!! Linens, crystal, china and silver! I had better go plan "le menu"!!

You can read more about Patricia on her website: http://www.pvedesign.com/