I am now blogging at www.jaimehebert.com/blog

I am now blogging at http://www.jaimehebert.com/blog

Hi, everyone!

I have decided to start blogging at my Squarespace website blog instead of trying to continue here while also blogging over there. I will keep this blog open because I do feel like I have some good stuff here. If you are interested in continuing to read my stuff, please hop on over to my blog on my website: http://www.jaimehebert.com/blog.

All of my new content will now be posted there.

Thank you so much for reading and interacting here and I hope to see you in my new space!


Eleven years ago.

Eleven years of days, hours, minutes; some blinking fast like a firefly I can’t catch, some crawling with a glacier’s pace. Eleven years ago, I was given a gift, the greatest, hardest gift. Eleven years now of guidance, growing, learning, changing, crying, praising, heartbreak and happiness. Eleven years ago, a piece of my heart was taken from within me, and placed in the outside world.

I named her Sophie. And though she had that piece of me within her, she became herself, an individual who is independent and fierce. And though she has always been exactly who she is (to me), as she approaches eleven, she struggles to find her place in this big, amazing world. And, as part of my heart, it is my job to help her navigate that path, although I fail regularly and spectacularly. Some days I barely make it to the end, wondering how anyone ever saw fit to place me in charge of another human being. But we’ve made it this far, these eleven years, all the while learning about life, love, heartbreak, and happiness together.

Have you ever laid in the dark of night with your child curled into the crook of your arm? You’re wide awake with a racing mind as she twitches and settles, falling asleep in the safest place she can imagine. Soon, over her even breathing, you are left to watch the terrifying thoughts of night race by, wondering how you will ever be able to lead your tiny human safely from childhood to adulthood, protecting her from the harms of this world, teaching her right from wrong, helping her navigate learning, and friends, and technology, and kindness and decency, and individuality, when you are unsure in any given moment whether you yourself fully understand those things.

Eleven years now, I have thought, and searched for answers, and prayed and cried, and laughed, and felt my heart expand in ways I never could have imagined. It seems impossible that much time has passed since the day I first held my daughter, feeling terrified and elated, refusing to put her in the bassinet and instead letting her fall asleep on my chest, until finally the nurse gently convinced me to let her take Sophie for a few hours so I could sleep.

Sophie's Birth Day

Year One took us from the uncertainty of how to care for a newborn without breaking her, hurting her, or coddling her, through Sophie standing on her own, on her first birthday, ready to step away already and do things her own way.

Eleven years is a gift many don’t get.

I often tell Sophie, in the moments when we are alone, just her and I, don’t forget someday when a memory pops up of us seeing a hawk standing on the ground; or us screaming, upside down, on the biggest, fastest roller coaster we could find; or seeing a rainbow that ends right above our house, that we are the only two people alive that share this memory. It’s an amazing and terrifying thought.

Year Three, and Sophie seems to remember many things, yet I don’t even know how she could. She remembers begging her Daddy not to leave, crying, and feeling like it must be her fault because he left anyway. She remembers watching Hachi with me on the couch, and how we had to pause the movie for ten minutes because we were crying so hard we couldn’t watch it. Crying for the dog who mourned his master, and crying for us because our lives had so drastically changed. She remembers the Orange Juice Incident, as she calls it, which was just Sophie throwing a huge tantrum at bedtime, and me doing the best I could to deal with it.

Sophie With Apple

Eleven years and I have laid awake more nights than I can count, racked with worry and tears, wondering, Am I doing this right? Am I making the right decisions? Will she be okay?

Year Seven, and everything changes again. I meet someone new, someone who has the potential to be that male influence she so desperately seeks out, because despite my efforts, I can never be both Mom and Dad to her no matter how hard I tried. But with new comes change, and this year revealed more to me about how broken we both had been. For much of this year things felt bleak and hopeless, that I had failed and I was submerged, barely above water, dealing with as much change for myself as she was with new routines, personalities, new family members, and opportunities.

Eleven years is a long time to figure things out, but that is a fallacy because you can’t figure it all out when things keep changing. You just hang on and hope for the best and keep getting up every day to face it all again. Some days I am so proud I can’t even speak it. Other days I am so disappointed and crushed I wonder if I will be able to carry on. This child, my child, has been given to me for these eleven years, but she is not mine. She is herself and I have to let her fail even when it slowly kills me inside. I have to stand behind her with my arms outstretched when the very people she trusted and depended on let her fall.

Sophie & Me

I will catch my Sophie, even when I won’t buy her excuses. I will back her, even if her words cut into me. I will defend her when nobody else will, and I will stand up in the ways I feel are right, even when nobody else agrees with me. I will love her unconditionally when she trips, when she hurts, when she’s lost, and when she’s angry.

I was told, recently, by a person who used to matter greatly to me, that I will never be the parent this person was. It was meant to be an insult, but I took it as a compliment. I will never be the kind of person who abandons my child, disappoints her, changes on her, or leaves her to cry herself to sleep at night wondering why she’s not good enough for me. I will never insult her, put her down, make her feel less than. I will expect her to act right, show respect, take responsibility for her words and actions. I will refuse to put up with any bullshit from her, and will teach her to not take any bullshit from the people around her, even the ones who are supposed to care. I will never make her feel like she has to change herself for me to accept her.

Year eleven, and I tell her, my baby, my big girl, “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you have to hide who you are.” So many times, she’s been asked to act a certain way, be a certain way, say this, don’t say this. Now my job, once again, is shifting so I can help her navigate this rocky path, as I have learned the hard lessons hard way and am better equipped to help her.

“What if I don’t know how to be who I am, Mom?” she asks. “If I make this choice, or that choice, the choices that make me different, will it change how you see me?”

Sophie B&W


When you were two, when you’re eleven, when you’re twenty, never, Sophie, will you change in my eyes. Because to me, you’ll always and forever be my perfectly imperfect child, the piece of my heart that is fiercer than me, more independent than me, smart, beautiful, talented, funny, frustrating, walking around in this world, blazing the path I was too afraid to blaze. No matter what age, what birthday, I will be able to look at your face and see the brilliant individual person you are and the tiny fierce baby you were and know that they are the very same person, and I will love your faults, and your fears, and your accomplishments and your failures equally.

For eleven years, my heart has had a body and a name, and it’s taken form in the world and I’ve been allowed to watch, and to teach, and to love this piece of my heart named Sophie, and even though it’s supposed to be her birthday, it’s the best gift I’ve ever been given.



On Persistence and honeybees

Two stories from our weekend in Branson, MO.

Saturday Night

Luke and I ate a so-so dinner on Saturday night at the Grand Country Buffet in Branson, MO. We only picked it because: buffet. Luke liked a large selection, and I knew I could find something for me. But unlike Furr’s, which we were used to, the food seemed tired and oily. It was passable. Luke rated it a 6 out of 10. I liked the dinner roll. It was like eating a buttery pillow. But I wanted a better dessert than what they had there (soft serve and old cookies), so I suggested Cakes & Cream on Route 76 for ice cream. I looked up their website on my iPhone while we finished eating dinner, showing Luke that it served sugar free items that he could eat.

The ice cream shop was supposed to resemble a 1950’s diner, with lots of chrome and neon. We both bravely passed up the funnel cakes for plain ice cream. With sugar free butter pecan in a cup for him and a mint chocolate chip cone for me, we left the restaurant and headed up the steep parking lot to the motorcycle. The lot sloped down from Route 76 to the restaurant, forcing everyone’s parked vehicles to look like they were in a glacially slow landslide. The motorcycle was parked at the top, next to a curb and a small grass hill climbing to meet the sidewalk, making a fairly comfy seat. Here we had a view of the restaurant directly below us, a mini golf course to the right that kept playing a tinkly “You’ve Won!” tune, and a Mexican restaurant to the left that for some reason smelled of grilled steak. The sun was still setting so the sky glowed peach. It was warm enough for us to eat ice cream in our sweatshirts without chill.

A red Impala pulled up to the curb next to the restaurant’s patio. I watched a lady climb out of the driver’s seat while a heavyset older woman struggled to exit uphill from the passenger side. As I was paying attention to her plight, the driver’s side lady and a well-dressed young man in his late teens were unloading a large black case from the trunk.

“Wonder what’s going on there?” I said.

We watched for several minutes like an audience watching a mime. The young man put on a tie to go with his button down white dress shirt and black dress pants, fiddling to get it just right and pressing his black hair into place several times. He chatted with the two women from the car as they stood on the outdoor patio. I took them to be his mother and grandmother.

I was curious the longer I watched. Clearly we were watching a performer set up, and Luke and I agreed to stay. I had questions: What would he perform? Would he be any good?

The young man unrolled a long orange extension cord and dragged it around to the outside of the patio area to plug it in, clearly having done this here before. The big black case held an amp, and he removed an electric guitar from a guitar case that had been lying on the ground behind a table. He set up a small folding table and placed his phone on it, hooking up a silver microphone while his mother fussed over the arrangement of a large plastic tip jar.

After a mic check, he pressed play on his phone. He sang the vocals and played guitar himself, while his phone provided the backup music. We heard “Maybe Baby” and “That’ll Be the Day,” by Buddy Holly, “Bye, Bye Love,” by the Everly Brothers, and “Runaway,” by Del Shannon. It made sense, early 50’s rock-n-roll played at a retro 50’s diner.

He was a decent guitar player and he had a fairly good singing voice, but that’s not what impressed me. There are a thousand other kids his age with better singing voices or a more technically perfect style, but I guarantee they are not performing on a Friday night. This kid had to work his butt off to pursue a dream of singing.

How many places had he called that turned him down? How many hours had he practiced those songs? How many performances had he done for friends and family, or just for exposure or experience?

This kid had something many other “better” singers didn’t have: persistence.

It had taken him time, work, and effort to get here on this Friday night. We took a short video of his performance to show our kids and dropped a $20 into his jar, because we admired and respected his commitment to his dream and what it took for him to get up there and sing.

Later, Luke and I agreed that we preferred that small performance more than any of the professional shows we had discussed attending in Branson. The young man wasn’t a paid professional, or well-known, he was just a kid pursuing his dream the old fashioned way. To me, it sounded like success.

Sunday morning.

We just made it to Starvin Marvin’s for the breakfast buffet. I paid our bill after we ate. An older lady, her short auburn hair and glasses on a chain saying more librarian than restaurant manager, inquired about our trip. I told her we had come to Branson from Arkansas for a weekend getaway. She said she noticed our helmets and my tightly braided hair and mentioned that her husband and herself were frequent bikers. My braid reminded her of a funny story about her daughter, who braided her long thick hair when she rode bike with her husband, the lady’s son-in-law. She said her daughter rode with the son-in-law once and got a bee stuck in her braid, which then proceeded to sting her neck.

The lady said, “Now she swore it stung her 3-4 times, and I had to tell her, no you know a bee can only sting once and it loses its stinger.”

The daughter said, “Well it hurt a lot! It felt like 3-4 stings.”

The lady said the kicker here was that the son-in-law was following behind a bee transport truck, which was clearly leaking some of its cargo, but that he was not a confident rider yet and was trapped in the lane, behind the truck, in busy Washington, DC, with his wife repeatedly punching him in the shoulder because she was getting stung.

I laughed at her story and joking agreed to tell Luke to steer clear of suspicious cargo trucks. As Luke and I walked to our own bike, I started telling him the story until the lady emerged from the restaurant with a pair of sunglasses, asking if they were ours. Luke had left them sitting on the table. Luke thanked her for bringing them out, and I joked that he would have been pretty mad if we drove off without them, considering we were about to be riding for 3 hours and he had just bought them yesterday.

Before the lady turned to go back inside, she leaned over to Luke and said, “Be sure you stay away from any bee trucks!”

She then got to retell her story a little for Luke, who jokingly replied, “And how long after this was the divorce?”

“Oh, no, they didn’t divorce. My daughter passed away seven years ago.”


Luke commented that this must have been a favorite story of theirs when she was alive.

“Oh, yes!”

The lady seemed delighted at the chance to talk about her daughter, Celeste. She and her husband had lived in Annapolis, MD, in an old Victorian they were restoring. She worked for the FBI and the son-in-law was a retired Marine who joined the CIA.

Now life was different, but the son-in-law was trying. He’d dated several women since his wife’s death, the lady told us. None of the relationships went anywhere. He even proposed once, but when he mentioned taking his fiancé to see his other mother, she balked and said, “I am not going to visit HER mother.”

He proceeded to politely ask for the ring back and told her to get her things and get out of his house.

When he told her his tale of woe, Celeste’s mother told him, “When you meet the one, none of that will matter. But . . . whatever you do, make sure you let her pick somewhere else to live. A house, a condo, a tent! Don’t move her into that house.”

She paused.

“Don’t do that to the next girl you love, because Celeste’s ghost lives in every room of that house.”

We parted ways after that, agreeing that life is weird, and funny, and heartbreaking. I never learned that lady’s name, but Celeste’s story stuck with me as we rode out of Branson (with no bees in sight).

I thought about the small glimpse into another life, the truth and the heartbreak of it. Sometimes, no matter how you try to move past them, your ghosts do haunt every room. You just have to accept them and keep on living anyway.


New Skull Painting #1

New Skull Painting #1, “Black Betty.” Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 12×12.


I say “new” but I actually started this 4 painting series before I did my 50 Skulls in 50 Days Project. But it wasn’t finished by any means, so it seemed a logical place to go after I finished my 50 paintings and was feeling a little (ok, fine, super) lost. I completed this one about a week ago, which for some reason I wanted to name Black Betty. I was actually planning to scan and upload it right away but my scan and stitch program wasn’t cooperating and I didn’t have enough time to teach myself to do it in Photoshop! So I just gave up and took a photo with my phone. Sometimes, good enough is good enough, right? There are three more of this series in the works! I will post as I complete them.


I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! And, yes, if you are wondering, that is a metal octopus wearing a hat in her hair. And, no, I have no idea why…I just liked it!



My boxer, Diesel

My boxer, Diesel

I have a story for you to go along with that photo I took above, about my dog, Diesel, a terrifying nightmare, and my belief in a dog’s ability to sense things in other people that we can’t.

A few months back, I was dealing with some major stress and anxiety. Most of the time, it didn’t affect my sleep. I’m a pretty good sleeper with only a rare night of insomnia. What I do have, sometimes, are nightmares with some weird sleep paralysis thing that happens. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it scares the shit out of me.

Imagine having a really intense nightmare. Mine usually involve a strange blend of real life people or events with lots of Twilight Zone style/serial killer elements to them. Now, imagine waking up in the middle of that nightmare to your dark bedroom and being convinced that nightmare is still happening right in the bedroom and you CAN’T MOVE.

At all. Your mind is telling you to, but you are locked in place. Your eyes can move, but of course it’s dark and you are still sort of seeing what was in your nightmare and aren’t even really sure if you are asleep, awake, or in some horror alternate reality that you’ll never escape from.

To say it’s terrifying is an understatement.

The nightmare I was having a few months ago involved someone breaking into my house at night when we were sleeping. When I woke up, paralyzed, I was convinced the intruder from my nightmare was in the bedroom and I couldn’t escape. Couldn’t shout, couldn’t wake Luke, nothing, and all I could think in my dream was, please don’t let him go upstairs, the kids are all upstairs . . . I lay there for what felt like hours, my heart exploding in my chest, my arms and legs seized with terror and adrenaline, but feeling like I was made of stone.

It was at this point that my brain finally woke up enough to send me a rational thought: There’s no way an intruder would make it into the house without Diesel going apeshit. That thought broke through the grip this nightmare had on me and suddenly, I could move, I could breathe, and my bedroom was my bedroom again. Chair, mirror, light from outside, Luke breathing beside me. I felt completely at ease and safe, thanks to the furry sentry that slept in her crate in the dining room. If anyone came into the house unexpectedly, especially at night, she would raise a sound and fury like the worst Hell Hound you could encounter.

My boxer Diesel came to us through a Craigslist ad in 2012. A lady was getting rid of her because she was pregnant, and we were looking for her because we have kids. Now, I know and most of our close friends and family know that Diesel is the biggest pussycat you’ll ever meet. But if someone she doesn’t know comes through the front door, they better hope we put her in her crate because she will bark and growl and carry on like her final supper just arrived. To this day, she will bark and growl at a knock on the door, a vehicle driving on the stones of the driveway, or a new person at the door. I usually have to explain to mail people, strangers at the door, etc., that my dog will bark and sound scary, but she’s crated so don’t worry. I get slightly annoyed sometimes when she starts her dramatic watchdog routine, but ever since that nightmare I had, I react differently. I tell her, “Good girl. Now go Home.” (Home is what we call her crate).

Diesel watching for bad guys

Diesel watching for bad guys

There’s another thing I discovered about Diesel, just a few weeks after we brought her home. We were in the backyard and a family acquaintance dropped by. He came around the side of the house and into the backyard, and Diesel went nuts. She was on her feet instantly and if I hadn’t grabbed her collar and snapped the leash on, I think she was planning to attack.

There are certain people that Diesel just doesn’t like. If a new person comes around, she will raise holy hell the first few times but when she warms up to them, all is good. Some people she has never warmed up to. The people (I can think of three) are male, and do not have any qualities that I can think of that would make my dog hate them. But . . . she’s consistent. Every time they come around, she freaks out. But with all the other people we see, she is cool.

I trust my dog’s judgement. There’s something about these particular people that she is wary of. It doesn’t mean we will stop associating with them. We end up crating her while they visit because she can’t be out around them for all the growling and pacing she does. But I’m not going to apologize to anyone for my dog’s instincts, either. She must have a pretty good reason for acting the way she does, something I may never know about those particular people.

Two of the things about Diesel that some may consider bad traits (dramatically barking any time a person arrives at the house and her hatred of a select few people) I actually consider to be her best traits. She is fiercely protective of her house and her family. She has put herself between one of the kids and a person who she either doesn’t like or is playing around with the kids on many occasions. She protects her people, and she takes it seriously. She’s more loyal than many people who I thought I could trust. I know I will never wake up one day to learn my dog has betrayed me, but that’s happened with many people in my life, people who were supposed to care for and protect me.

I’ve felt a strange calm and safety about my dog protecting me ever since waking up from that dream. If that nightmare were to happen, would it save us? Having her there barking her fool head off and sounding like we have a crated Demon Spawn in our dining room?

I can’t know that. But I do know if anything happened, Diesel would do everything she could to warn us.

Good dog.

White ink on black paper drawing "<3 Boxer"

White ink on black paper drawing

“Dogs don’t hesitate. They stand by our side, no matter the odds, the reason, the depth of cold. If we step into the blackest of nights, they step with us, and sometimes—-most of the time—they take the first step. And no matter their size—from the smallest to the largest—they’ll do what needs to be done to safeguard their human companion—their friend—even if it means giving their life. They don’t weight odds, or ask any questions. Dogs are selfless.” David Weiskircher

Do you think dogs can sense things about people that we can’t? I know many dogs can sense medical issues, but it seems they also have fairly accurate judgements about peoples’ character, too. If you have a “watchdog” type dog, does it make you feel safer?



Skull Paintings Days 1-25

Skull Paintings Days 1-25

Skull Paintings Days 26-50

Skull Paintings Days 26-50

In January of 2016 I came up with a weird idea. We (Luke & I) had just come from our first court date in our ongoing custody case. We had, not surprisingly, just received the (incredibly detailed, pages-long) bill from Luke’s lawyer. Since basically nothing had been accomplished in the court proceedings (objection . . . objection . . . you get it), they had gone ahead and scheduled 2 MORE full days in court.

Can you imagine the lawyer bill from that?

Not to mention that at the same time, I was dealing with my own separate family legal issue, plus both Luke and I were working, taking care of our family, and trying valiantly to remain positive and relatively normal for our kids’ sake and our sanity.



Financial pressure.

One day, as I was racking my brain for an idea for a way to help ease some of the burden on us (part time job, yard sale, selling my soul), the artist in me had a thought. “I know! Why don’t I create an art project in the midst of all this turmoil that will put added daily pressure on me to complete paintings, something I have not been able to do consistently for my entire adult life?”

Uhh, let’s try this again. What I meant to type was, “that will help me break through my long standing creative block and hopefully help us in some way with our finances.”

I have struggled against my creative side for many years. To boil it down to the simplest explanation, I longed to be an artist and writer but have fought battles against my own insecurity (you’re not good enough to be an artist) and other people’s (admittedly mostly perceived) expectations of me (You can’t be an artist. It is a neat little hobby, though).

I think, looking back on everything now, that the final piece that sent me over the edge, or to be incredibly cliche: the straw that broke that camel’s back, was when I found out that my writing, art, and social media was being turned in to the opposing side’s lawyer and I was subpoenaed by the opposing side’s lawyer. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together to equal, “This is horseshit! They want to use me against . . . well, me!” What the hell?

So in a big old, “Screw you, I’ll show them,” move, my creative muse finally had enough and kicked me in the shins to get my attention. If they wanted to take my art and creativity and use it against me, let’s give them something good to use!

After that initial fury, the idea came into my brain almost completely formed. I counted the days from that date until our next scheduled court date. It came out to roughly 50 days, with a few extra in there to get the project set up. I decided I would paint 50 paintings in 50 days. They would have to be small, because my project rules (that I had just literally made up) were that I had to complete the painting by the end of the day, in order to scan it, post it to my blog, and put it on my socials (Instagram, FB, Twitter and Tumblr). I had read many times that in order to do an artist series, you must have a few criteria that each painting must meet, some constraints that would encourage creativity but also help with focus, so here’s what I came up with:

  1. Each painting had to feature a skull, which led me to start referring to the project as 50 Skulls in 50 days. I chose a skull because I love anything skull-themed, and it seemed that the lawyer was particularly interested in my “artistic” skull fascination to use against me.
  2. Each painting would be 6 inches by 6 inches.
  3. Each painting would be completed and posted by midnight each day of the 50 days.

Once I had my project defined, I went to the art supply store to get my canvases. They had 4 packs of the 6×6 size, and they were on clearance so I bought every one they had. I ended up going home with a total of 32 small canvases. This was it, no turning back now.

Ok, I may have picked up a few more things besides canvas...

Ok, I may have picked up a few more things besides canvas…

I had created a little sketch in my sketchbook of a female skull figure, and since I had (imaginary) time pressure on myself, I decided to go ahead and choose her for my painting subject. Day 1 was completed and posted on February 1, 2016. I named it Skull Lady & the Curtain.

First Skull Sketch

First Skull Sketch

My art desk. This is where I made all 50 paintings

My art desk. This is where I made all 50 paintings

After that, I sat at my desk and completed a skull painting every day for the 50 days, just like I said I would. Every painting was completed and posted by midnight. Pinterest became my new BFF. I found so many ideas and inspiration by searching through Pinterest, I probably could have done 100 paintings or more. I varied my style, my techniques and my materials, but I stuck with my original “rules.” Once I created my skull, I also made some rules for her and stuck with these consistently throughout the project:

  1. She has long black hair
  2. She has green eyes.
  3. Her “bone color” is a mix of metallic blue, parchment and white paint.
  4. She has only bone, so any of her exposed areas would have to be skeleton.
  5. She is vaguely old fashioned, so most of her clothing is from the 1800’s to early 1900’s.

As the 50 days progressed, life didn’t stop. I had just as much to do as before. But I found something strange happening: Mostly, I spent my working hours looking forward to getting home so I could sit down at my desk and create a new painting. I couldn’t wait to look for ideas, rummage through my materials, and start picking out my colors and collage items. Some days I used straight paint, but some days I used paper, dried flowers or insects, metal pieces, gel, ink, glitter, stencils, and anything else that sparked my creativity.

50 days went by in a rush. At times, it seemed my family’s life revolved around “Jaime painting in her office.” The kids would hang out on the steps beside my desk or at the computer desk. Luke would sit on the floor and watch shows on his tablet. I created a Pandora station that I played while I painted and I became slightly obsessed with the songs Pandora was sending my way. If you’re interested, it’s “Prayer in C (Robin Shulz Remix)” radio, with music by Robin Shulz, Halsey, Milky Chance, Lana del Ray, X Ambassadors & Glass Animals, to name a few. Sitting down painting was the highlight of each day. When I reached the end of the painting, (and sometimes I wanted to fuss over portions of each one but I had to firmly tell myself, “That’ll do, pig, that’ll do, because you have to finish this before midnight”), I made sure it was dry (enough) to scan, then I cropped it, adjusted the color, saved the jpeg, uploaded it to the blog, Instagrammed that shit, and sent it to the other socials, and then clicked off my lamp, ticking another day off my list.

There was only one day I messed up, and it was because I had decided to load my painting up with a bunch of heavy gel and metal pieces and the dang thing wasn’t able to dry enough for me to put on the next layers of paint. So I ended up taking a photo of it with my phone, half finished, and sharing the fail instead of the finished piece. The next day, I finished that painting along with the daily one I had scheduled.

Before I could even believe it, I was at day 50. In my office, above my computer desk, I had hung up every painting except day 18, which I had sold and mailed out. I found as the days progressed, so did my paintings. I was surprised that I loved all of the paintings, but by the time I reached day 50, my paintings were better executed and more sophisticated than they were in the beginning.

Day 1 Painting

Day 1 Painting

This Is Where We Say Goodbye

Day 50 Painting

After I posted my last painting, there was the obvious feeling of “I did it!” I was really proud of myself. However, an unexpected feeling crept up on me and it shocked the hell out of me. I was . . . sad. Like saying goodbye to a friend who is moving sad, or leaving a job, or letting go of something you’ve been holding on to. I was still proud, and kind of relieved, but mostly sad to see this project end.

I hadn’t expected that.

Now, it’s been several days since the end of my 50 Skulls in 50 Days/Skulls for Macy & AJ Project. This is the part where I have to do two things:

  1. Decide what to do next.
  2. Decide how to keep this project moving.

It’s obvious that I need to keep painting. But it’s also obvious that I need to keep promoting my project so I can find these paintings some new homes. I’m very new at this part of it so, like the rest of this project, I will learn it as I go along.

I do also think I will do some minor tweaks on a few of the paintings. One, my “Vintage Skull Lady” I love…but to me her neck looks like a scorpion tail and it throws off the whole painting for me. I will repaint the neck so it more accurately represents a spine, not a creature from Beetlejuice. Another painting that I felt had an obvious flaw was Day 7, Skull Lady & Candelabra. My proportion is way off, so my skull figure came out very cartoonish. I won’t be happy with that one until I fix that.

Vintage Skull Lady

Vintage Skull Lady: Weird neck

Skull Lady & Candelabra

Skull Lady & Candelabra: Cartoon proportions!

I learned 3 surprising things from doing this project, and I will pass those along here, for those of you who would consider doing a project or tackling a task that seems huge or scary:

  1. I absolutely loved every minute of doing this. I looked forward to it like it was chocolate coated chocolate that I got to eat every day. This was so unexpected to me, because while I have always felt a need to create, more often than not it was an immense struggle. I don’t know if I can pinpoint exactly why this worked when so many times before I had failed, but I think it is the combination of a public deadline plus a loose set of rules to follow. This made the previous hurdle of sitting there wondering “what to paint,” completely disappear. Instead, I sat down every day with the question of, “What is my skull doing today?” and I was off tracking that answer down.
  2. They’re all right, you guys. Those “experts” who say things happen when you attempt to do something big and bold and scary. Things happen! Those experts are experts for a reason, and every time they have written, spoke, podcasted, or YouTubed that advice, what they were really saying was, “If it scares the shit out of you, do it! Do it right now!” Completely, totally, 100% correct, they were. Me before this project: Complete a painting every day? Hahaha, ha ha. Really, that’s hilarious! Me after this project: 50 paintings completed in 50 days? Done. Check mark applied. It’s exactly as Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic, which I read just a few months ago: Fear is allowed to come along for the ride, but fear is not allowed to touch the radio.
  3. Sometimes when you create something using your heart and soul, it’s really hard to see it end. You can always tell when you’ve gotten to the end of something you HAD to do, because you’re thinking, “Thank God THAT’s over.” But when it’s something you were really excited about and enjoyed and are proud of, the end almost feels like a major letdown! And that’s why people move on to the next project. Let yourself feel that sadness or the unmoored drift, but don’t wallow in it. Get to work creating your next great thing. That’s what I’ll be doing.


This Is Where We Say Goodbye

This Is Where We Say Goodbye

I made it! 50 skull paintings in 50 days!

If you’re wondering what this daily painting thing is all about, you can check out Day 1 where I explain why I’m doing this project. To purchase a daily skull painting, leave a comment or email me at: jaimeleigh@cox.net. You can also visit my Etsy store. Each painting is 6×6 acrylic on canvas. Completed paintings are sealed, varnished, signed and numbered on the back with my hashtag #skullsformacyandaj. Each painting is $50 plus $7 shipping, payable through PayPal. I carefully package each painting and ship through the USPS. Questions or comments about purchasing, just let me know!

If you want to read more about our story regarding the custody case, here’s a link to our GoFundMe page (click the button).

And, as always, I would love to hear any comments! Thanks for stopping by and I will see you tomorrow!


Geisha Skull Lady

Geisha Skull Lady

Just one day left until 50! I said I would paint 50 skull paintings in 50 days, and believe it or not, I did it!

If you’re wondering what this daily painting thing is all about, you can check out Day 1 where I explain why I’m doing this project. To purchase a daily skull painting, leave a comment or email me at: jaimeleigh@cox.net. You can also visit my Etsy store. Each painting is 6×6 acrylic on canvas. Completed paintings are sealed, varnished, signed and numbered on the back with my hashtag #skullsformacyandaj. Each painting is $50 plus $7 shipping, payable through PayPal. I carefully package each painting and ship through the USPS. Questions or comments about purchasing, just let me know!

If you want to read more about our story regarding the custody case, here’s a link to our GoFundMe page (click the button).

And, as always, I would love to hear any comments! Thanks for stopping by and I will see you tomorrow!


Skull Lady Blue

Skull Lady Blue

If you’re wondering what this daily painting thing is all about, you can check out Day 1 where I explain why I’m doing this project. To purchase a daily skull painting, leave a comment or email me at: jaimeleigh@cox.net. You can also visit my Etsy store. Each painting is 6×6 acrylic on canvas. Completed paintings are sealed, varnished, signed and numbered on the back with my hashtag #skullsformacyandaj. Each painting is $50 plus $7 shipping, payable through PayPal. I carefully package each painting and ship through the USPS. Questions or comments about purchasing, just let me know!

If you want to read more about our story regarding the custody case, here’s a link to our GoFundMe page (click the button).

And, as always, I would love to hear any comments! Thanks for stopping by and I will see you tomorrow!


Regency Skull Lady

Regency Skull Lady

If you’re wondering what this daily painting thing is all about, you can check out Day 1 where I explain why I’m doing this project. To purchase a daily skull painting, leave a comment or email me at: jaimeleigh@cox.net. You can also visit my Etsy store. Each painting is 6×6 acrylic on canvas. Completed paintings are sealed, varnished, signed and numbered on the back with my hashtag #skullsformacyandaj. Each painting is $50 plus $7 shipping, payable through PayPal. I carefully package each painting and ship through the USPS. Questions or comments about purchasing, just let me know!

If you want to read more about our story regarding the custody case, here’s a link to our GoFundMe page (click the button).

And, as always, I would love to hear any comments! Thanks for stopping by and I will see you tomorrow!