Tools & Talismans is a series of vignette paintings that tell the stories of women through the tools they use in their work — and the talismans they keep close by, as muses, charms and reminders.

The series includes:

Writers – Healers – Artists – Thinkers – Photographers – Activists – Teachers – Designers – Visionaries – and many others

Some are well-known, and all are immensely interesting and creative women I wanted to know more about.  So . . .

I contacted them and asked:  What are the go-to items you need to produce your work and what are the things that help you in other, more ephemeral, palpable and motivational ways. I asked them to photograph the assorted objects and write a few words about their meaning and as the submissions started coming in, I began painting!

The result is a series-in-progress of 100 paintings with the participating women’s accompanying captions, essays, and thoughts, and some of my thoughts while painting.  A selection is available below {and if you're interested in seeing all of the finished pieces so far, visit the retrospective page here.}

With the start of this new year, I’m excited to be exploring ways to bring Tools & Talismans to a gallery, women’s center, library, university, or bookshelf near you!  If you would like to discuss an opportunity, please contact me!

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

  • I feel a bit like an archeologist on an expedition, except I’m not on a dig and the pieces I’m paintings aren’t hundreds or thousands of years old, they’re current and the people they belong to are still living, working and creating.
  • Phones are on the top of the list of most photographed tools.
  • Each collection of items is both revealing and mysterious, and bring up more questions: Why these particular things, and not others? How does the owner of these tools & talismans interact with their things when they're alone?
  • A few people’s pets are also tools {or talismans}.
  • My last step in each painting is painting the shadows in, and it’s at that point that each painting feels both serenely quiet and bubbling with conversation.

Join me on my blog {or on Instagram} every Wednesday where I'll share a new story and a new painting with you — I'd love you to join me on this journey.