Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas! Yes, I can also say Happy Holidays, but since I celebrate Christmas, I send this greeting in the spirit it is meant for me. Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward All Men, and I know that you will take it that way.

Its been a good year for the Ross family, no, not without its bumps and growing pains, but a very good year, and for this I am grateful.


Bob and I have enjoyed some great trips together in the US Southwest, I've painted, expanded another business, and we've seen our son Bryan married to Emily, the woman he loves dearly, and the mother of our beautiful grandson Rory. No, I have not painted as much as I'd like, but I painted, and am busily making plans for an even more productive year in 2015.  To all my collectors, both new and old, thank you so much for your support.  Meanwhile, it is my greatest wish that you enjoy the spirit of the season with those you love, be they family or friends, and that we all flourish and prosper as never before in the coming New Year.
With my very best,  Michele



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Welcome to the Holidays!


Is it really Halloween already? Boy did that happened fast!
Thanksgiving in 4 weeks and then the race to Christmas. 
Its not too early to think about your Holiday shopping and who on your list is an art lover, maybe even you!
I would love to see you purchase some original pieces. However, I also want to point out the great value deals you can get on FineArtAmerica.com. With the mat and framing choices its very easy to create a nice finished piece. Pictured here are some framing and mat options, but you should go and take a look and play with the options yourself.  Its 
easy, just head over to my gallery and have some fun with it. Click on one one of the images, then choose "framed" print and try out the several mat and frame options there to see how they can make the print really pop out! Have fun. 

Oh, and if you'd really rather have an original, check out my Etsy Shop, or drop me a line.  - Michele



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In Defense of HallowThanksChristmas ©2014

My HallowThanksChristmas Hat

Have you been in a store lately? I was in the grocery store last week-end to pick up some supplies.  The Halloween items were already on sale for 50% off, and the Christmas stuff was huddled on shelves as if waiting in line, clamoring for their turn.
 
I see people making snide comments about this early Holiday Marketing. “Wait, we haven’t even had Halloween!” or “What happened to Thanksgiving?”  

On Facebook, I’ve seen posts that are crusading against it. The slogan is , IN SUPPORT OF FAMILY,  I PLEDGE TO NOT SHOP ON THANKSGIVING. Another one simply says, JUST SAY NO TO SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING, and then, IF I'M SHOPPING, SOMEONE ELSE IS WORKING.

There is even an entire page on Facebook devoted to this crusade. It has over 70,000 fans, or what Facebook calls, likes.  On it people are leaving warning posts to not shop at Sears, Kmart, Walmart, and others because these places all open early on Thanksgiving Day for this annual shopping marathon.

Well my goodness, maybe some people are happy to be working and getting holiday pay for doing so.!

And maybe someone else is happy to have the time to shop on a day when their own work is closed.

Costco, one of the largest US retailers is not open on  “Black Friday”, the Day after Thanksgiving,  in support of this crusade. Do you know why it’s called Black Friday?

It’s called Black Friday because that is the day in the year when most retailers are no longer “in the red”, but go “in the black”. That means  they make a profit for the first time in the year. Amazing isn’t it? The year is nearly over and they just start to make a profit.

Personally, I like when the stores start filling with Holiday D├ęcor. I don’t even mind the snowmen and reindeer in line behind the pumpkins and turkeys.  It sort of gets me in the Holiday Spirit and reminds me that the Holidays are near at hand.  I like it even better when the online ads begin.

I don’t go into stores on the Holidays. I prefer to spend them with family and friends.  I did do it once. I was young and foolish.  I went to Toys R Us in search of a Star Wars ewok for my son.  After diving headlong through a crazed group of parents to reach my prize, I lost it to another mother who grabbed it out of my hands and then smacked me in the face with it. I decided not to participate in that kind of Holiday Spirit again.

I do however shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  I do it peacefully and comfortably at my laptop computer. I spend time talking with family or friends to find out how they are and decipher what they might need or want from these conversations.  Then I go on Amazon, Ebay, or Store websites and find it. You can find out so much more about many items online. The amount of information and customer feedback is incredible.  I also make a Christmas list of things I’d like and share it with family. So simple, no stress, and the choices are endless.

I especially like things being delivered to my home. In the old days, you called up the grocer and he’d deliver the items to your house.  Or, he’d have it ready and waiting for you to pick up.  Milk and Dairy were delivered most days. Word of mouth was the advertising then.  Mrs. Jones would let it be known when the Christmas Candies and Calendars could be ordered.  Your neighbor would tell you when the dairy had the new cheese ready, or that the butcher could now take orders for Christmas turkeys.

Today, thanks to the internet, we have even more options and word of mouth.  I can order supplies or gifts on Amazon and they are delivered in two days at no charge. I can share an item with someone in another state or country to see if it is exactly what they are looking for.  I can order a piece of art directly from the artist, or music directly from the musician, or send a gift card for someone to pick out exactly what they want. I can ship a painting to Italy for a Christmas present on behalf of someone who would never have known me except for the internet.

As an online retailer, I’m very, very fond of the holidays. People can ask me questions about my products and it gets emailed to my phone. I can answer them in my pajamas too and no one’s the wiser.  I can also process dozens of orders in a day without even lifting a finger because Amazon does all the work for me.  I can do it while sleeping, while eating, while painting, while…….oh, never mind, we won’t go there.

I love marketing and sales.  It’s courageous, creative, fun and very lucrative.
So, what’s wrong with all this over the holidays?  We all need or want various goods and services. Those who sell goods or services need to make them known and get them into the hands of customers. The engine of an economy is production and exchange, and without marketing, advertising and sales it wouldn’t get anywhere.  I say bring it on!, the more the merrier.

Don’t be afraid of a little holiday spirit.  
Have some fun and don’t be so serious!

And, let’s all have a very Happy HallowThanksChristmas!


© 2014 Michele Ross

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Southwest Wanderings: 300 More Miles for a Penny!


Okay, I admit it, my car is far from new, but I like my car a lot. During our trip through Northern Arizona last weekend, we were all set to go again on Monday morning when we were surprised by a dead car. I mean flat line, no life, no beeps, no lights, nothing at all.

We had just replaced this battery two weeks earlier, so we found that pretty odd. The desert eats batteries about every year so its something one needs to stay on top of.

Well, my husband and companion wanderer is one of those MacGyver types. After getting a jump (yep we always carry cables) from fellow travelers, he confronted things under the hood and found that the....okay you guys, this is in layman's terms, this is a gal who does not know cars writing this!......  He found that the connection to the battery post was loose and would not close all the way. I was dismayed as I thought we'd need to high tail it back home and give up this last leg of the trip out to the Vermilion Cliffs and Marble Canyon. In fact I suggested we do so and not risk the car going dead again. 

Stalling in the middle of the desert, miles from any service is not my idea of a hot date ! (yes, that pun was intended)
Well  Bob said, "Nope, we'll handle it, just give me a minute and I need to find a couple of tools." So, after a good breakfast and borrowing a few things from the local gas station, Bob set to work. After a bit of banging under the hood he came and asked me for a penny.

I said, "A penny?"  He said, "Yes, a penny.  My wife wants to see the Vermilion Cliffs, and I just need a penny to get you there."
God love him!

He added, "I just need to close that connection (thingy)  with something conductive (?) that will hold through the rest of the trip until we get home and I can fix it properly." (My hero!)

I handed him a penny, and more pounding and banging ensued........

 Now, I need to add that Bob is an electrician and mechanic who worked years in manufacturing, fixing heavy equipment and programming production lines as a process control engineer.  Like I said, he's awfully handy to have around for various reasons. So don't any of you go trying this if you don't know what you're doing, okay? Yes, the engine was running while he was banging on things and fixing the "thingy", and that always makes me a bit nervous. After a bit, Bob said, "Okay, good to go!"

 As you can see in the pictures, the penny is wedged into the "thingy" and closed the electrical connection to keep the battery charged as we drove.

So that is how a penny bought me an extra day's drive, to the Vermilion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, back to the Kaibab Plateau, a stop at Pipe Springs National Monument, and a 4 hour drive back home to Vegas. Over 300 extra miles. A very good deal, but honestly, it's that husband of mine who is priceless!

Here are some more of the views that penny bought me...

Marble Canyon and the Colorado River

Boulders that have fallen from the cliffs

Rock Dwellings

More fallen boulders

The Vermilion Cliffs (Kaibab Plateau in the distance)

View North of the Kaibab into Utah

Pipe Springs National Monument
Lee's Ferry Lodge
Inside the castle at Pipe Springs National Monument







Saturday, August 2, 2014

Southwest Wanderings: Vermilion Cliffs & Navajo Bridge


The Vermilion Cliffs in late morning light (looking west)
After 2 days on the Kaibab Plateau, we decided to get up early and take some extra time to head further east on Hwy 89A to see the famed Vermilion Cliffs and Marble Canyon. As we were ready to go, we discovered that the car wouldn't start, thanks to jumper cables, my personal MacGyver,  and a penny,  we got going again..... but more on that later.
As an artist I've heard this name for decades but had yet to see them for myself. They have been painted countless times by expert and famous artists. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is located in north central Arizona just below the Utah border. It is basically another plateau, which south west facing edge is made up of bright vermilion red cliffs that really glow in the sun. The northern part of the Kaibab Plateau is just west of the Vermilion Cliffs plateau. As we approached them from Kaibab with the sun in our eyes, they were fairly dull, then as we rounded the curve to where the sun hit them, they turned brilliant red and stretched for miles. It had just rained that night and all the little stream beds were muddy with moisture.  To the south of the cliffs lay countless miles of  sage filled desert We then continued on toward the famed  Marble Canyon and Navajo Bridge.
Vermilion Cliffs, center section
As we rounded the bend and turned north toward Marble Canyon and the Navajo Bridge at Lee's Ferry, the cliffs turned more gold  and copper than red. They were brilliant in the morning sunlight and the green sage was a pleasant contrast. This is an area full of pioneer history. The Navajo Bridge at Marble Canyon is one of the only bridges that crosses the Colorado River, and is actually jointly part of Grand Canyon Park and the Navajo Nation. There are 2 bridges, the older one is now a walking bridge, and the newer one is the one you drive across. From the walking bridge you can look down into the gorge at the Colorado River, which was bright green in contrast to the surrounding rocks. Lees Ferry is just up stream from this bridge, and is the point where early explorers launched boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. It is also where modern day Grand Canyon rafting trips launch.
Cliffs above Lee's Ferry
Colorado River from Navajo Bridge
Navajo Bridge, newer
The Navajo Bridges
As I walked out on the bridge, it swayed and bounced with the many footsteps of the visitors. The ends of these suspension bridges are anchored into the canyon walls, so the bounce is a natural part of how they work.  
There are just no colors quite like those of the US South West. Originally an ocean person (and of course I'll always remain so), the desert has grown on me. The expanses of space, the bare bones of the land exposed for all to see, the sweeping views, the mountains like alpine islands in a dry sea, and the ever dramatic weather are stealing my heart, bit by bit. Time to dip my brushes again.....- Michele
To see more pictures from this part of the trip, check my flickr album. 

Southwest Wanderings:The Magical Kaibab Plateau


Rain along the Arizona Strip near Colorado City

Sunset  on the Kaibab Plateau
The Kaibab Plateau is better known as the place that makes the North Rim of the Grand Canyon possible. It is basically a high elevation alpine plateau ending at the grand canyon.  I have long wanted to visit the North Rim, which is only open in the summer season. Finally, we made it last week-end.

We headed out about 9 AM on Saturday. 2 hours from Vegas to St. George, Utah, then turn south at Hurricane UT, through Colorado City AZ and across the western part of what's called the Arizona Strip to Fredonia AZ and south to the Kaibab Plateau to Jacob Lake and checking in at the very friendly Jacob Lake Inn. We arrived at the Inn about 2 PM, mostly because we take stops for pictures and to just soak the scenery in. As we drove across the Arizona strip to Fredonia, there was a lot of thunderstorm activity that was just beautiful to watch. Of course catching a shot with lightning was elusive but I did get a few. Pictures can only whisper of these vast places. The smell of the desert sage in the rain, and the incredible immensity of the views. Then there are the multiple climate and ecosystems, the ever changing skies etc, etc. .....wow

After having lunch at the Jacob Lake Inn and checking into our room. We headed south down the plateau to the North Rim visitor center and Lodge. The entire drive is a view of beautiful alpine meadows, forests of ponderosa pines, spruce, aspens, the local herds of bison and grazing mule deer. Wildflowers were abundant in the meadows and the roadsides and the clouds made for constantly changing light. The road also takes you through large burned areas from the 2006 fire, which are filled with young aspen trees that seem to be aggressively taking over those areas from the pines.
Flowers at Jacob Lake Inn
Kaibab Meadows

After rising out of the high desert, it was wonderful to be surrounded by this alpine scenery being constantly refreshed by the summer monsoon rains. Once we arrived at the lodge and had been wowed by the view in the sun room, we did what most people do there. Found a seat on one of the two viewing terraces, put our feet up on the balustrade, sipped a drink and munched on sandwiches from the lodge deli. We relaxed while chatting with people from multiple states and countries. Then waited for the sunset to hit the canyon. The North Rim is not crowded, even during the short tourist season, and the lodge has a very intimate, relaxed and friendly atmosphere which envelopes everyone. Children played games in the sun room and a park ranger answered questions from small groups of people on the east terrace, while others soaked up the fading rays of the sun on the west terrace. We did not hike out to Bright Angel Viewpoint, which is a short hike from the lodge, but many did. The next day (Sunday) we drove the Walhalla Plateau.

View from the east terrace of the Lodge
The Walhalla Plateau, also part of the North Rim park, is a peninsula protruding south off the greater Kaibab Plateau. If you go to the North Rim, give yourself 4-6 hours (depending on how much you hike) to explore this plateau and all its viewpoints. These are some of the highest elevations in the park, the most distant sweeping views and the most lush forests and woodlands. Old growth forests with huge thick aspen trees were surrounded by dense alpine ferns and mountain laurel. Wildflowers, fed by the summer rains (it rained on us several times on this road) filled the roadsides. Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint in GC Park was the first stop. The viewpoint is 8,803 ft elevation. It was a bit hazy when we arrived about 9:30 AM and the vistas are to the north east across the canyon out to the Navajo lands and the Painted Desert. The Vermilion Cliffs are to the distant north.
View North from Point Imperial
View from Vista Encantada
Our second vista point on the Walhalla plateau was Vista Encantata. Elevation is 8,480 ft (2585m), and from here we could look back north to Point Imperial where we had just been. Again, sweeping views north and east across the canyon to the Navajo Nation lands beyond.
Our 3rd stop on the Walhalla Plateau drive was Roosevelt Point. Again, looking across this eastern part of the Grand Canyon to the Navajo Lands and the Painted Desert beyond. Teddy Roosevelt hunted and explored this area extensively and he was the president who initiated setting aside the GC as a National Monument which then became a National Park 10 years later. Also, a major geological fault line can be seen across the canyon from this point if you know where to look. We found it using binoculars.
View from Roosevelt Point

View to Angels Window














The scenic road on the Walhalla Plateau ends at Cape Royal and the final viewpoint is on top of Angel's Window.  Angels's window is an opening in the promontory. We did not hike out on top of that final viewpoint. Partly because of my fear of extreme sheer heights and partly because we were getting tired after many hours of tramping around in the sun above 8,000 feet. The vegetation at Cape Royal is quite different, and drier. Mostly cliffrose, mountain junipers and even some cacti. We enjoyed Angel's Window from the viewpoint near the trail head. Then as it started to rain a bit, we turned around and headed back down the Walhalla road to the North Rim Lodge and Dinner with a view.
Wildflowers along the road

After leaving the Walhalla Plateau, we arrived back at the North Rim Lodge. We had made window seat  dinner reservations the evening before, and the only time was early, for 4:30. That was perfect as we were absolutely starving at this point!! Also, since storms were moving fast into the area, we didn't want to drive back up to Jacob Lake in the dark. Before dinner, we waited on the east terrace once again, chatting with folks from all over and watching the big thunder clouds moving our direction from across the canyon. With good binoculars you can just make out the South Rim and Grand Canyon Village 10 miles away across the Canyon. Once seated, we had one of the best views in the dining room. Dinner was surprisingly affordable, less than many restaurants, and the food was very good. While we ate, we watched the "Show" of a summer storm move across and up the canyon and invited our neighboring diners to come to our window to take pictures. There was plenty of thunder and lightning, and one 12 year old from Tennessee (who was more proficient with his Iphone than I) caught 6 great shots of lightning from the storm. After dinner, we took one final stroll out on the terraces and then said goodbye to this marvelous "big hole". We then headed back up the road to Jacob Lake, lightning, thunder, and rain for much of the drive.
Sunset through the burned forest

Watching the storm at dinner
Now I'm back in the studio, sketching out paintings from this wonderful trip. I highly recommend a visit to the Kaibab and the North Rim, its a wonderful place with such varied beauty!
If you'd like to see more pictures from this trip, find me on flickr. - Michele




Friday, May 23, 2014

WHY I LOVE VETERANS, an Ode to all Warriors - for Memorial Day

The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC

Note: I wrote this in 2009 and it received national syndication. I'm sharing it again - my feelings haven't changed. Read the whole thing and let me know your thoughts.  © 2009-2015 Michele A Ross

"I was thinking early this morning about this and actually got a little emotional.

First of all, I'm married to a veteran. My husband Bob was in the US Navy for 7 years during Vietnam, and was there during the evacuation of Saigon. And I'm also the daughter of one. My father was a career Army Officer in the US Army and a veteran of 3 wars, WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam.

Even if I don't agree with all the circumstances of each of these wars, there's something wonderful about someone who will hold a post and put himself or herself in harm's way to protect their group. Someone who will stand there and hold the line and say "I'm going to follow orders and get the job done for my god and my country- my group and my beliefs!" There's something above the crowd about doing that-.

When I was a child in Hawaii, we were stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. One of my most poignant memories of that era was looking at the drill field covered in coffins and knowing those boxes were filled with men who had died for their country and that their bodies were on their way back to families who are grief stricken and in pain. That was the 60's and there were a lot of conflicting viewpoints about that mess over in southeast Asia. Yes, there was a lot of waste in that endeavor, but that was never any reason to dishonor those who did their job, held their posts correctly and held the line for the rest of us.

I know just a very little about what my husband and my father went through. My father spent time behind enemy lines in China and Korea and he was in Hanoi during negotiations. My husband Bob was there at the evacuation of Saigon. I can't pretend to know what emotions they felt in such environments nor what nonsense they had to weed through and put up with from both the enemy as well as lousy commanders, unethical comrades and being asked to do things that I'm sure pushed them violently up against the wall of their own integrity. I'm sure there are things that have plagued them both from time to time and still......, there's something about a guy (or girl) who is willing to take up arms, stand a post, and hold a line for their group because right or wrong at times its still their group....... I just know that while I was playing on the beaches at Waikiki, Waianae, and the North Shore, there were others who were elsewhere in the jungles of Viet Nam trying to get that job done against incredible odds from all sides. And as Memorial Day, and my childhood memories testify, many, many were lost in those efforts. Many, many warriors lost. Yes, I've walked through Arlington National Cemetery, and seen the full ship salutes to the USS Arizona- and I dare you to do so without shedding at least one tear.

War is not the answer and I've always known that- however, what would I do to defend my group, my home and my country? What would you do? We can't handle lack of accord and understanding when the communications have become bullets and missiles, however in the right context I don't think I'd personally hesitate to use such means. Yes, I'd take up arms and hold a post if necessary..

We still need our warriors, and in today's times, we must all step up to the line. Today's greatest and most urgent battles are for our own personal freedoms, our minds, our self-determinism, our bodies, our religions and the state of our immortal being. The battlefields are sometimes intentionally confused and hidden behind big media's disinformation, big Pharma, Big Chemical, unethical legislation and leaders, and destructive technologies who run a constant campaign to make us think they are there to help and that their particular brand of bullets aren't really bullets at all. They are lying through their teeth! The corpses from those campaigns are hidden behind advertising, legislation and propaganda campaigns- but like those coffins on the fields at Schofield Barracks Hawaii, they are there and they are just as real.

So, on this day I honor ALL the fallen warriors, those who have fought and died, and those who have served and lost a part of themselves in the effort whether it be in body, mind or spirit.

I also honor all the warriors still in there slugging on in today's battlefields both physical, mental, social, spiritual and ethical. Those who ARE holding a post, taking a stand, holding the line and forging ahead for their group, their beliefs, and their integrity against incredible opposition and suppression.

Today, I also ask myself and you too- What kind of warrior am I? What post am I holding?- what post are you? What do I stand for?, what do you? What arms am I taking up for the survival of my group, my beliefs, my spirit, my religion, my honor and my integrity? And in fact for ALL of humanity?

As the old saying goes- "The man who won't take a stand, stands for nothing".

I love true warriors!  
Our own neck is only as precious as our fellow group member's is.

My husband as a young sailor

Find your cause

Take a stand

Hold a post

Be constantly vigilant

Hold the line
My father during WWII

Push ahead for a better world no matter the odds.

Be a warrior on your chosen battlefield and don't let the line be broken under any circumstances.

And on Memorial Day,  honor all those who have served in battle, their chosen ones or not, and who held their post, did their job and have fallen before us.

Thank you veterans of all wars! Personally, I thank you very much!" 


 - Michele Ross -"Mikala"      P.S., Miss you Dad
Presented to us by family friend Max Cerna, USArmy-active service



Fire Breaks Out at the Glasgow School of Art | In the Air: Art News & Gossip | ARTINFO.com

Very, very heartbreaking!

Fire Breaks Out at the Glasgow School of Art | In the Air: Art News & Gossip | ARTINFO.com

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Message to My Fellow Artists on, Why I Love Artists


By Michele  Ross ©2009-2014

I am in love with my fellow artists, every one of you.

No matter your chosen medium, crafters in paint, light, sound, words, stone, wood, metal..all, you are near and dear to my heart, and I thank you for your continued enrichment of my life. I really do. A day without art for me is a day most barren and desolate, not just as a creator of art, but as a receiver of the art of others.

You are a most courageous lot, daring to be there and communicate. Did you know that is the worst crime in the universe?, daring to just be there and communicate?

Yet you continue to improve and apply your skill and send your messages out like spacecraft into the void seeking exploration and destination, not always knowing what and where that will be. Bravo!

Courageous? Absolutely! - like Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.” So don’t you dare lose your nerve, don’t you dare! Stumble perhaps, but get up again, continue.

You are extremely important, even vital! When a culture fades, who and what is remembered and who shapes the thoughts and ideas of the new? Art and artists. What do we know and remember most of history and ancient cultures? The products of artists! The words, sculpture, paintings, music, crafts, and ideas created with such skill, beauty and impact. The images of a culture are those created by artists, and artists dream the dreams that science runs hard to catch up to and make a reality.

History has tried to make you crazy or just seem crazy and unimportant because you haven’t always agreed with “the norm” but choose instead to forge new territory, or because the products of your vision and labor don’t seem to be “necessary” to the living of life.

That is a lie. You are necessary, and you are some of the most valuable beings on the planet as far as I am concerned. Art has brought hope to and seen many individuals through the toughest of times. Some individuals are threatened by artists because you have the power to influence ideas, vision, direction, and inspire and capture men’s souls. Artists and art can completely alter lives for better, or worse- you choose. Really, what those who try to make less of you are trying to do is enslave you knowing you wield such power- hoping they will somehow get that power for their own (usually not good) use.

You are also ambassadors from one culture to another which is a very powerful thing indeed. You and your art can cut right through the barriers of customs, language, religion, and location and appeal directly to the essence of one being to another.

But perhaps you already know this, but in case you don’t…

Yes, you are very powerful, so never disparage your own power. You have the power to make someone ecstatic or plummet them into despair. You make people smile, laugh, weep, hope, and believe in their own power and worth faster than any other group I know. You command people’s attention and emotions and take them to places they never dreamed of or thought possible! I know you do for me.

So lift each other up and don’t invalidate yourselves. There’s enough invalidation available out there already should we choose to listen and agree to it. Creating art can be a solitary activity, alone in our studios facing the next blank canvas, or sitting at the piano wrestling with notes, or facing a blank page and trying to create just the right impact with your words, origination can be an awfully lonely, solitary activity and must to a large part remain so at that stage. Art is about making our own, individual communication after all. Even a director is there to coordinate the individual efforts of the actors to result in one overall single communication.

However, in making our art known, and our community known, I believe we can be even more powerful as a group, or working in groups, and thus I work to find ways to enhance and broaden that aspect of our lives because I do believe in the incredible value of art and artists to all of mankind.

Meanwhile dear artist, know this:

I see you or hear you and know that you are there.

I see or hear your work and I appreciate what you do.

You and your work are very worthwhile to me and I am honored to know you and call you friend and fellow artist.

You greatly enhance, and enrich my life, and I am grateful to you for that.

Please continue....

Michele "Mikala" Ross



Saturday, May 10, 2014

MOTHER'S DAY LUNCH AT THE HALEKULANI


Mom, as always, feeding the doves in the 1960's
When I was a girl in Hawaii, mom always got to choose where to go to lunch for Mother's Day, and she often chose the Halekulani or The Willows . Halekulani, that wonderful bastion of old Waikiki grace and grandeur was definitely a favorite.   The name means "House Befitting Heaven" and that was the perfect name for it. Of course 


terrace at the Hale in the '60s
we'd usually have lunch at the water in on the Coral Terrace as it was relaxed and more kid friendly. This lovely space with it's huge twisted kiawe trees and open seating next to the waves holds many fond memories for me. 


White Plumerias- Watercolor  by Michele Ross
 Entering the front of the Halekulani was a bit intimidating.  Quiet and serene, smelling        strongly of old Hawaiian      history, it seemed like a huge  temple to this young girl. I was  always in awe of the place, but  once out into the dappled  sunshine for lunch, it was again  all relaxed Aloha spirit. I've  never been back to the Hale since I was a kid and would love to go back for lunch, have a toast to mom, and feed the doves my leftovers as she did every single time. "They're counting on us" she'd say. "We have enough to share."  
Miss you Mom, Aloha Nui Loa!......Happy Mother's Day!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another print SOLD! on Fineartamerica.com

Another print SOLD! on Fineartamerica.com

This is definitely one of my most popular prints, I guess you can't go wrong with white plumeria- it's definitely a favorite of mine. The original painting has long since been sold but it's so great to be able to keep on "sharing" this piece as prints.  Mahalo to the lucky buyer!



The Art of The Selfie (for fun, business, and shameless selfie promotion)

The Art of The Selfie (for fun, business, and shameless selfie promotion)



Great Article!

Friday, May 2, 2014

MY REFLECTIONS ON 37 YEARS OF MARRIAGE-or LIFE AS ART

Our Wedding Day in 1977
Left: Our Wedding Day May 1, 1977
Note: I published this as a Facebook note and was avalanched with responses. I thought maybe I should share it more broadly, so here you go!

May 1st 2014 was our 37th wedding anniversary.

My goodness, has it been that long? We chose May 1st because it is Lei Day in Hawaii and brought fond memories of my childhood there. I thought when we hit 25 that was really something, and of course by today’s standards, it was! So here we are 12 years later at #37. Wow. We feel blessed and proud to have gotten here.So how does one manage to hit such a milestone? I’m trying to figure it out myself! It really does not feel like 37 years at all. I know one thing’s for sure, its an adventure and it’s work. Here are my musings on a few things that have worked for us… if anyone cares to listen to an old married lady.

1. WE DECIDED.
We started out as hippies and rebels. Our wedding was not a traditional American wedding. In fact it was a Hindu ceremony. Non-traditional though it was, we’ve always felt we made a promise to each other. We made a firm decision back then that stuck, and we continue to decide to keep it. We took responsibility for one another and decided to see it through. There have been many, many times each of us wanted to change our minds. Many times we thought “Oh hell! That was dumb!”, but we’ve always changed it back. Have we made all each other’s dreams come true? Oh, hell no! But we’ve made many of them come true, and we continue to work together on new ones all the time. Now if my husband had turned out to be a drug dealer or an ax murderer I would have had no qualms in making a change, but thankfully he was no such thing. One cannot expect a good crop if one is constantly wandering to new fields. We planted our seeds and saw to the crops we had sown, then worked new fields together. Everyone has their own decisions to make, but that is what we decided.


2. WE’RE VERY GOOD FRIENDS & WE CULTIVATE OUR FRIENDSHIP.
We agree on enough things to make it work. We don’t agree on everything. There have been times when we actually freaked people out because we’d have a roaring argument about some difference of opinion… politics, money, food etc. We're quite capable of having an impassioned debate. People didn’t always know that we simply did this from time to time and that we are quite capable of having a wild discussion of ideas and then dropping it and happily moving on to the next thing. We do like to spend time in each other’s company. We can drive for hours (and often do) and talk the whole time or simply say nothing for miles and miles. We can have it either way and be very comfortable and secure in each other’s presence. There are many little things that annoy us about the other all the time. So what! Those are small things most of the time. The bigger things we recognize and cherish. After many years together, it’s also quite cool to have a partner who knows your history because he’s been there for most of it. When I say “Do you remember that person…..?” He does, because he was there, and I do the same for him. There’s something wonderful about that, and the sharing of mutual long time friends as well.


3. WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN OUR INDIVIDUAL PASSIONS.
Bob has always, always validated and supported my love of and time put into the arts. Not once has he ever said it’s trivial, silly or criticized the area. I made a pact with him years ago on road trips. I said I want to be able to stop the car at any time if I want to photograph, sketch something, or take a side road for the hell of it just to explore. I had a father who would not even stop for bathroom stops and this was a big deal for me. This is just one of many examples of his constant encouragement and validation of what is important to me. In return, Bob’s passion for scuba diving, guns, certain political and humanitarian activities are whole-heartedly supported by me even if I don’t fully understand them at the time. We also allow one another the space to create our individual interests without requiring any input from the other. If I want to go do something that I know isn’t Bob’s thing, I go find someone to do it with or get quite comfortable being alone and vice versa. We don’t expect each other to be our entertainment all the time. There are also things that we do just because it will make the other happy even though it might not be our own thing. This is part of the give and take or “exchange” in the relationship.


4. WE LEARN NEW SKILLS AND DO MAINTENANCE AS NEEDED
For us, this has been counseling and training at our church when needed and airing any transgressions we had against one another or the relationship in a safe supportive environment. Long ago we agreed to make sure we made time to create space to completely and safely communicate anything at all to one another, and this was the best way to do it. This also gave us the experience, stability and training to do it for ourselves when needed. We did courses on communication, finance and other things together to give us stability and make sure we were on the same page. In addition, we made time to have dates even when we had no money. Coffee at McDonald's or picnics when that was all we could afford. Times when we give each other our full attention without any distraction from phones, children when they were little, television, computers etc. etc. It’s amazing what absolute full undivided attention can do for a relationship, and it doesn’t take much time as long as its full attention. People spend time and money to maintain their cars, their homes, their own bodies,their computers and gadgets and forget to run maintenance on their relationships, but it is so very important.

5. WE CIRCLE OUR WAGONS AND GUARD WHO IS ALLOWED INTO OUR INNER CIRCLE.
We don’t talk about our relationship challenges with others unless they are chosen advisers, or trusted family and friends that might be affected. Anytime we’ve violated that it has been destructive. There’s no reason to talk about our personal challenges with anyone who cannot actually help us, and certainly not with people who have no reality on us or our relationship or any experience and expertise to contribute.There are just a very few people that I would discuss my husband with in any meaningful way. Our laundry does not need to be aired and anytime that either of us have felt inclined to do so, or to complain about the other, it has always been because the person wanting to complain is actually the person who has done something wrong. Since we both know that truth, it makes it easy for us to find and fix what is happening. This advice rule especially applied to taking advice on marriage, children, or money.The first rule was never take advice from someone with a poor or non-existent personal track record in the area. I learned early not to take advice on rearing children from non-parents. No offense to my non-parent friends, it was just something we decided that has saved us much time and worked for us. Same for seeking advice on relationships from someone with a poor relationship record-it just didn’t make sense. It is also not cool to offer unsolicited advice to others either when they haven’t asked for it, we try not to do that. Even if the other might be wrong, we do not correct each other in public on important matters. This is one I had to learn, and my husband deserves medals for getting through my learning curve! It is still something I work on. Bottom line is,share only good news about your relationship with most people and keep your own counsel, and choose any trusted advisers or mentors very carefully. Anyone betraying our trust is handled individually, or dropped quietly. We guard each other’s backs and take disputes up privately. We try to broadcast only funny or good news about ourselves.

6. LAUGH & PLAY TOGETHER
We laugh a lot! Even in moments of stress. I laugh at his dumb jokes and he laughs when I burn dinner. I laugh when he forgets to take out the garbage and he laughs when I lose my glasses and has to find them for me. We laugh at ourselves and at each other’s foibles. We cultivate a sense of humor and don’t sweat the small stuff. We don’t cultivate any humor that is degrading or demeaning to one another. We create games to play with each other and have friendly competitions at times. We’re always encouraging each other to smile and laugh, one cannot have too much of that.


7. WE ALWAYS PUT EACH OTHER FIRST, EVEN BEFORE CHILDREN AND FAMILY.
I used to tell our boys, “Your Dad comes first because he was here first. Without him, there would be no you in the family. As long as he and I put each other first then we have the strength together to put the two of you 2nd.” This may not work for everyone, but it worked well for us. We had more to give them as a united couple. We also knew one day our kids would be grown, and it would be, God willing, back to just the two of us. In addition, neither of us put our families (parents and siblings) before the other. That way we’ve been able to have the support of the other in relating to our families. Bob’s support through the deaths of each of my parents for example was absolute and vice versa. Personally I think that came from the strength of our commitment to one another and without that basic agreement things can get a little weird. It’s the same with our grown children, they are not in competition with my husband, which allows us together to make them a priority. I also expect each of my sons to make their own partners their first priority, and we encourage them to do so.We have awesome sons and though we cannot take all the credit, I think the above helped.


8. WE PUT PEOPLE AND TIME TOGETHER BEFORE THINGS.
I always told Bob “I’m a less homes, more gardens & travels kind of girl.” I only need enough home to create a home base from which to operate and leave my things. This might be because I’m a military brat who moved a lot. I have plenty of nice “things” and I love my home filled with family heirlooms and memories, but I’d rather collect experiences than things. Before we had kids I was a clean freak. I drove Bob nuts when anything was out of place. Well that doesn’t work so well with children, and I soon learned that spending time with husband and kids was more important than a spotless home. The dishes can wait until toddlers are in bed, guests leave, or you’ve had that glass of wine on the porch with your mate. We also made it more important to DO things together than to have the newest furniture or gadgets. I’d much rather spend money on a trip to Hawaii or Colorado than have a new sofa or floor, and fortunately he would too. I don’t remember all my sofa’s nearly as fondly as I do time spent traveling together as a family or couple. It’s the same with going out to eat. Though we’ve enjoyed many meals at many fine restaurants, I’d rather spend the money on a couple of tanks of gas and pack a picnic to eat on a mountain trail or sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.Fortunately he feels the same way. Flowers? Absolutely, but this lady prefers a living plant I can stick in the ground! Adventures? Yes! We’ve had many big ones, in many countries, but it’s the weekly and monthly ones that keep us going. Time and experiences together are the most precious.

9. WE CULTIVATE GOOD MANNERS WITH EACH OTHER.
We say please and thank you. We say hello when we get home, good morning when we wake up, goodnight when we go to bed, and good by when we leave. We acknowledge each other. There are very few meals Bob hasn’t thanked me for, and there are very few chores I haven’t thanked him for. It sets the tone of mutual validation and appreciation and makes daily life so much more pleasant.

10. TIPS FOR THE LADIES:
I’m not a man, so these are merely the observations of a woman with a husband and two grown sons. Take it or leave it as you will.
A. It has been my observation that men don’t generally like unsolicited advice. I learned this the hard way. As wives and moms we’re so involved in solving everyone’s problems all the time that it becomes a habit to tell everyone what to do! since I've been a manager or executive most of my working life, this was especially hard to learn it does not work at home. I had to learn to remove from my vocabulary the words “I think what you should do is…..” and learn to ask instead “What do you think you should do?” or, “Do you need or want anything from me on this?” I actually practiced it in front of a mirror for awhile. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or you have the answer, that is simply not the point. It has no value unless they asked for it.

B. Conversely, I let my partner know when I DON’T want him to solve my problem but simply want to be listened to. Men usually feel compelled to solve things for us even when that’s not what we want. Well at least my men do. They don’t know when I just want to be heard and acknowledged if I don’t tell them.We gals talk an awful lot and I know for me, part of my working something out has to do with being able to talk to someone who will just listen. I had to learn to clue Bob into this, so now I let him know when I just want him to listen and let me know I’ve been heard but not try to solve something for me. He also now knows to ask first.

SUMMARY:
I feel truly blessed to have such a long time loyal friend and mate in Bob. People who see how different we often are on the surface don’t usually understand what our relationship is really about, and that’s also fine with us. How could others know the real agonies and ecstasies we've been through together or the death-beds we've nursed each other back from? There were times over the years when we had “friends” advise us to split up. It’s funny but that advice usually came from people with no experience or a poor relationship record. That policy about who we take advice from on certain subjects has come in very handy over the years. Could things have been different? I’m sure they could have. Did we each give things up to be with and remain with one another? Absolutely. One thing neither of us has had to give up though is our own personal integrity or core values and that is a vital thing to consider in any relationship, personal or otherwise.

In the last year, we have had several friends who have lost their long-time partners. My heart goes out to them. The loss of some of these friends has left a gap in our mutual histories and lives. My husband is 9 years older than me, so I pray we still have many years together, we count each day and week as precious and try not to get too serious about it all.

Everyone is different so I cannot tell people how to get to this milestone nor can I presume that others want to. I can only share a little of our journey and what has worked for us. I can tell you that its quite lovely to have an old friend and lover by my side after all these years, one who knows me so very well, does the best he can, and whom I can count on for the important things. That is quite a nice thing.

Thank you my love for being such a grand and steady partner and friend!

Michele

Note: Bob read this nodding and smiling :) I would never publish this if there was something he didn't agree with, even though I AM the loudmouth in this partnership!!
Below: This year's anniversary roses- some will end up in paintings to be sure.



Left, we still laugh a lot!


Michele Ross is a businesswoman and artist living with her husband in Las Vegas, Nevada.