2008 Menage a Trois White

Menage A Trois Wine - WhiteThis Menage a Trois White is a well crafted blend of Chardonnay, Moscato and Chenin Blanc. It is a lighter, playful and delicious wine that suggests all sorts of games. It is great in hot weather on the beach, or on an autumn Florida evening that feels like perfection.

It is not a deep wine to read poetry to, but rather a wine to play. A subtle sweetness delights even those who prefer dry wines because it is modest and dominated by the strength of the Chardonnay. The flavor is like a bouquet of fresh fruit with a lovely finish.

The wine is easy to drink and just tends to flow with pleasure. She reminds me of the natural beauty of California Sun. Grapes on gentle hill sides and and dreams fulfilled by moonlit nights. For each grape takes on the feelings of the culture where it is grown. Her spirit reflects upon the soil she calls her home.

The wine is bottled at Folie A Deux Winery in Napa Valley, California.  In browsing the winery’s website, I came across a wine fact sheet that explains the wine making process on their 2008 Menage a Trois White:

Each variety is individually harvested, gently crushed and cold-fermented in small stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness and character and retain the juicy fruit aromas. The Chardonnay is rich and firm. The Muscat is wild and exotic. The Chenin is soft and supportive. Together they make the perfect threesome.

Posted in Wine Reviews Tagged , , , , |

Myth and Esoterica… The Progress Energy Gallery Hosts Myth, Mystery and Religion


Natalie and I will be taking part in The Progress Energy Gallery’s newest exhibit, “Myth, Mystery and Religion.”  The exhibit will feature images inspired by spiritual and cultural tapestries, ritual, and religion throughout the ages of our shared human history. See what happens when artists attempt to interpret the divine and place that experience on canvas, in steel, or in clay.

The opening reception will be held on October 2nd, from 6 – 9 pm.

Natalie is creating some new pieces inspired by the last few photo shoots we have done that will be exhibited in the upcoming opening.  Its been quite a bit of fun how things are turning out.  Not too long ago, our friends and acquaintances we posing for Natalie to use as reference material for a pastel.  Recently, we started working with some talented models whom we met through Model Mayhem.  We eventually developed a work flow.  Two of her most recent paintings that will be in the exhibit are Nyx: Goddess of Night and Amaterasu along with some of her other work.  I was honored when she asked me to exhibit with her.  A couple of my photographs from the photo shoots are going to be exhibited to showcase the creative process.  Natalie is then able to take the images we get during the shoot and then use them as reference or an inspiration for a new piece of artwork.  Its very cool to see her work.

Natalie spends quite a bit of time preparing for the photo shoots.  She plans nearly every aspect, from set, to theme, and costume. Then we spend the day photographing reference shots that try to find the essence of the goddess Natalie wants to bring to life in her soft pastels.

This last photo shoot we worked with Mai Dang, a model we met through Model Mayhem.  Mai is a runway model who has quite a bit of experience in fashion modeling.  She was a joy and a pleasure with which to work.  Highly professional and very punctual.  We were impressed, from an artistic perspective, at her ability to take direction.  She was eager to get the shot just right.  She brought along costumes and spent time studying and reading up on the goddesses Natalie wanted to portray.  Everyone involved worked long hours.  Mai endured costume changes, and constant hair and makeup. She put her all into the shoot.  What an adventure!

During the shoot, our good friend George Tau serendipitously was able to attend.  Natalie  wanted to capture the essence of  a goddess in action so she decided to have Mai  in some poses with traditional weaponry, from swords and blades to staffs and spears.  George acted as our weapons consultant that day.  Mai was very eager to learn the proper poses and forms for each weapon and George provided his extensive martial arts training to create some very dramatic shots.  He was very creative with the poses, superimposing traditional goddess poses with weaponry and a sense of action.  George has is Black Sash in San Soo Kung Fu , a Krav Maga artist, and is also available for Tibetan Bowl Sound Therapy.

Micheal also acted again as the sun.  I love having him around for shoots, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to make for a successful shoot.  He is getting good at the lighting rigging.  We’ll probably have to get him some strobe lights and soft boxes soon to play with.

Also, we again had the services of the lovely Georgette Khaziran of Verdecia Salon.  She was incredible.  Not only did she do amazing work through four costume changes, several hair changes, and plenty of makeup changes, she stayed on set during photographing process to do constant touch ups and the make sure Mai was present as best as possible for the camera.

We had a great time with this last shoot and we absolutely pleased with how everything came out.  We are very grateful to all the people who worked so hard to make it happen and look forward to the next shoot.  I can’t believe its already time to start thinking about the next one…

Georgette Khaziran is available for appointments at Verdecia Salon in Citrus Park,

call 813-852-1509 to schedule an appointment.

George Tau is available for Tibetan Bowl Sound Therapy sessions, visit

http://www.tibetanbowltherapy.com to learn more.

Posted in Art Exhibits Tagged , , , |


AmaterasuMy current series of works are inspired by various goddesses.  With each goddess, I’m researching their mythology and symbolism.  Then I’m devising a list of photo shoot ideas to explore with local models and a talented team that includes my husband, Brian, who photographs the shoot.

For this most recent Asian Goddess shoot, we had the  talented and beautiful local runway model, Mai Dang. She brought a full suitcase of various traditional Asian outfits.  Prior to the shoot, I had a brainstorming session with our hair/make-up artist,  Georgette Khaziran of Verdecia Salon, who came up with a complete list of hair styles and make-up combinations that would complement each goddess.

We also had our two friends, Michael and George, on site that provided tech support.  In addition, George was able to put his martial arts training to work by demonstrating marital art poses and forms for the model during the weapon shots that ranged from holding swords of all sizes and lengths to daggers and even an axe!

For my first Asian goddess painting I decided to paint Amaterasu, who is known in Japanese mythology as a sun goddess and the most important Shinto deity.  Her full name is Amaterasu-o-mi-kami (天照大神) which means “glorious goddess who shines in the heavens.”

In this soft pastel painting, I illustrated some of her symbols including the rising sun disc, which is also shown on the Japanese Flag. The sword or blade represents might and honor.  I also incorporated Japanese Kanji characters which, when translated into English, reads as “The Goddess of Sun”.

The goddess Amaterasu called out to me because of her diverse character.  As a sun goddess, she oversees the Japanese fields of rice.  She was also known as an accomplished weaver of stunning satins, silks, and brocades.  And for those of you interested in reading more about the myths written about Amaterasu, you can find more information at Goddess Gift, a site dedicated to “celebrate, to nurture, and to share understandings of the goddess in every woman.”

Her inner strength is part of her beauty, and thus, I thought it appropriate to include this work in this week’s theme at Illustration Friday, “Strong”.

Posted in Paintings Tagged , , , , , , , |

Book Cover Image for "Discovering Words" by Julian Walker

Discovering Words by Julian WalkerRecently Natalie was contacted by a representative from Shire Publishing in regards to an image she photographed of her Magnetic Poetry Project that was posted on our Flickr account.  In the project, Natalie used a printable magnetic sheet that she could feed through our printer.  Inspired by a similar kit she found at a bookstore, Natalie wanted to create a kit that contained words that she wanted.  The idea was to design many little magnets with a single word printed on each one.  The fun part is then creating word arrangements by going through the pile of words, arranging them until they form sentences or even poetry.  You can get some really neat results and some rather serendipitous combinations by quickly and randomly pulling words from the pile.  In a previous post, Natalie describes the process of how she created the kit.

Long ago, she uploaded the image to our Flickr account and was recently approached to to use one of the images from the kit’s creation for the cover of a new book entitled “Discovering Words” by author Julian Walker, to be published by Shire Publishing.  Natalie, being the utmost and consummate perfectionist, decided to create a newer, and higher resolution image for the book.  The book is an exploration of etymology of the English language and the origins of common words.  With excellent communication from the publisher, she created a new version of her original image that showcased some of the words that are explored in the book.

Shire Publishing describes the title as a “treasury of word histories, showing the variety of ways the words we use have evolved. The book is arranged into subjects, within which a selection of words are traced back through the stages by which they came to be part of the English language, and through more recent changes over time in form and meaning.”

The book is currently available for pre-order via Amazon.com and also through Random House, and will be available October 9th, 2009.

You can also download a desktop wallpaper image of the original magnetic poetry design to decorate your workspace.

We’re looking forward to getting our own copy!

Posted in Art

Muskegon Farmer’s Market, Summer 2009… Beautiful produce, friendly people.

Natalie and I had the fortune to visit Michigan this summer and run around all over Muskegon.  Summer flowers were blooming everywhere.  Beautiful buds sprang forth on every hillside, driveway, and even on the side of the road.  Large, abundant flowers, heavily laden stalks of corn, and produce of all types were visible in fields simply by driving down a country road on the way to the next town or a trip down to the cool shores of Lake Michigan.  This time of year, Michigan was alive and thriving with vegetation of all sorts.

During our stay, Natalie’s mom and sister Sarah took us to the Farmer’s Market in Muskegon.  It was the middle of the week, so only half of the market was occupied, but we were simply floored at the variety and quality of the products available.  Corn was especially good.  I purchased a variety called “Peaches and Cream” which was an almost candy-sweet, juicy bi-color ear of buttery goodness.  We bought and ate plenty of goods during our stay.  The vendors and shoppers alike were friendly, smiling people.  Everyone seemed to be having a good time at the Farmer’s Market.  Not to mention, the best blueberries in the world were in season.

While there, the vendors were kind enough to allow me to snap picture after picture.  I tend to go a little nuts when we have the camera with us.  I took shot after shot of everything from crisp, brightly colored radishes to deeply hued and unusually shaped eggplants.  It was a culinarian’s dream come true.

The Muskegon Farmer’s Market can be found at 700 Yuba St., Muskegon, MI 49442. (Map and Directions)

The market is open May through December Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Make sure to visit the official site for information,  the special events calendar, and even a video about the market.

According to the market’s official site, “The Muskegon Farmer’s Market is a division of the City of Muskegon and is dedicated to showcasing the best in locally-grown foods, flowers, nursery stock, handicrafts and baked goods. The Market also hosts a giant Flea Market where everything imaginable is sold.”

If you ever find yourself anywhere near Muskegon, it is most certainly worth a drive.  A sea of flowers, piles and piles of the best produce Michigan has to offer, and dedicated vendors make this a must-visit for any cook or anyone that just happens to like to eat.

Posted in Adventures Tagged , , , , , |

The Goddess Freya


Freya is a Norse maiden goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, wealth, divination and magic.   Traditionally, she is captured in warrior poses with a Viking helmet  and her sword.  Other folklore imagery illustrates Freya in her cloak of bird wings.

For this soft pastel painting, I’ve captured her transformational fairy powers with dragonfly wings that create the wave effect of  northern lights when in flight.

To see more fairy inspired creations, check out this week’s Created Byhand Challenge.


Here is a photogtaph of the work in progress and the photographic reference Natalie was using to create Freya.  She said it was about 80% done at this point.  -Brian


Posted in Paintings Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Fairy Photo Shoot.

Nyx, Goddess of Night

Natalie’s latest painting of the goddess Nyx has just been completed.  Its fifth in the series so far, and probably my favorite one to date.  It is hypnotic and has a certain pleasing symmetry.  But that’s just me, and I am admittedly biased.

The painting is the result of what Natalie had called the “Fairy Photo shoot” which took place in May.  We had a few friends over and had an absolute blast.

The actual photo shoot planning started months before.  Natalie placed a casting call to models on Model Mayhem, a social networking site “Where professional models meet model photographers.” Natalie’s plan was to do a Fairy shoot and take images of models in whimsical dress  she will then use as a reference when creating the pastel itself.

Through Model Mayhem we electronically met model Jessika Napua Akana.  She and Nat exchanged a few emails and we decided to meet at Sacred Grounds coffee shop to discuss the shoot.  Jessika proved to be very professional and contributed plenty of great ideas and was a joy to work with.  We also met with our good friend Georgette Khaziran who is an absolutely exceptional hair and makeup artist.  After a few rounds of meeting and brainstorming, we chose a date and made it happen.  We had three models that day.  Natalie would also act as a model with Jessika and another one of our dear friends.  It was really a great collaborative effort.  Everyone was creative, inspired, and focused on making the shoot a success.

I pulled double duty.  I was photographer as well as chef. The day was going to be a long one, so I wanted to make sure we had all sorts of drinks and edibles.  I think I shot a few thousand shots that day, while Mikey and George, and another pal acted as grips.  In the following weeks we spent some time each night removing the blurries, the unfocused, and the somehow unusable pictures, we still were left with many hundreds of excellent photographs.

Sorting them, going through them, rating them, was a process that took time.  Natalie wanted to find the right shots and do something incredible.  After completing long and difficult task of sorting, she finally had a few chosen that she could use for pastel work.

Nyx is the first picture to come out of photoshoot.


Georgette Khaziran is available for appointments at Verdecia Salon in Citrus Park,

call 813-852-1509 to schedule an appointment.

Georgette did the hair and makeup for the three models.  She also did it twice for each model since we had a costume change.  She was amazing.  When she wasn’t in the changing room working on models, she was out on set with me touching up and arranging hair dynamically as the shoot wore on.  Absolutely incredible.  She ran about the set with a curling iron and makeup palette making sure the models were always presented in the best light possible.  And also, to drop a shameless plug, she is currently a stylist at Verdecia Salon which is next to Citrus Park Mall.  Call her for a cut or color, she does phenomenal  work. She has a wide range of services to make you look drop-dead gorgeous.

Special thanks to Michael, George, and all of our other friends that were a part of this shoot.  Can’t wait for the next one.

The following is a slideshow showing with a few sample images from that day.

If you’d like, you can also check out the full image gallery.

Posted in Photo Shoot Tagged , , , , , , |

Nyx, Goddess of the Night

Nyx, Goddess of Night

Nyx, Goddess of Night, is a soft pastel painting that I created today in my studio and submitted for Illustration Friday’s theme, Hollow:

“If night leaves anything undone in the working of destruction, day follows to accomplish it.” (Sophocles, Oedipus the King 196)

Night can leaving you feeling hollow in your soul, but you can transform it.  Listen to the muse.  Let her speak through your creations.

Nyx is a powerful goddess of the night whose dark light falls from the stars, and who influences not only the world of mankind but also the gods.  She inspires artists to create and the muses have been known to sing her praises.

Nyx is my fifth goddess soft pastel painting in my most recent series.  She is born out of Chaos and her offspring include Aether (atmosphere), Hemera (day), Momus (blame), Ponos (toil), Moros (fate), the twins Thanatos (death) and Hypnos (sleep), the Oneiroi (tribe of dreams), the Hesperides, the Keres and Fates, Nemesis, Apate (deception), Philotes (friendship), Geras (age), and strife. An interesting list indeed.

Here I have painted her as a young maiden, full of hope as she ponders worlds unknown.

Thanks go out to the model, Jessika Napua Akana, who posed for this painting, Georgette Khaziran, the hair and make-up artist, and my husband, Brian, who shot the reference photograph.

Posted in Paintings Tagged , , |

XZanthia’s Naked Foam Party [Part Deux]

A couple weeks ago, we went to go check out XZanthia’s Naked Foam Party at the Riverboat Resort.  It was my first time to check out a nudist resort, and I felt very comfortable.  The resort has a great energy to it, very warm and inviting.  We had such a great time that we decided to go check it out again this past Friday, June 12th, for the Naked Foam Party [Part Deux].  When we arrived, the festivities were in full swing with the Unit Shifters performing live on stage.  Known for being an extremely high-energy rock band, the Unit Shifters specialize in Psychedelic Grunge Rock.  Their style is similar to Beck and the White Stripes.

The entertainment at the resort wasn’t limited to just music that night.  Twisted Trystan also amazed us with his extreme sideshow performance art ranging from glass walking to fire breathing and even laying on a bed of nails!  Assisted by the lovely Kristen, Trystan started off his show by ripping a phone book with his bare hands.  Then he moved onto his glass walking routine, which did make me turn my head a couple times.  But even if I wasn’t watching, the mic was place in the glass so you could hear the shards of glass crunch and grind against his every move.  And if walking on the glass wasn’t feat enough, Trystan had his amazing assistant, Kristen, step directly upon his face as it laid in the glass.   Ouch!

This master of masochism didn’t limit his performance at just glass walking, he also laid upon a bed of nails and swallowed not one, but two swords!  Yes, this definitely wasn’t your average sideshow performance.   My favorite part of Trystan’s performance was the fire breathing.  It was simply beautiful to watch, and Brian was able to get quite a number of great shots as illustrated in the slideshow below.

Other festivities that night included the filming of a naked body painting music video.  It involved ten or so individuals completely naked under a black light with a bunch of body paint.  While it was quite an interesting performance, the owners of the resort requested no outside cameras so it was definitely an event that you had to be there to see it.

We also came across an artist that was painting bikinis directly on interested models.  One of the models even mentioned that she was able to carry on conversations with people at the party that didn’t realize that the bikini was painted on.

As the evening progressed, DJ Robert Vanwest got the groove going on with a mix of industrial, electro, and synthpop that was accompanied by the lovely go-go dancers, Zoe Vanwest and Caila.  Zoe even would occasionally take a break from dancing and put on her DJ hat to spice it up a bit.

Posted in Tampa Art Events Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Traveling Art bag


I started this pastel sketch last Friday at Nola Cafe while listening to all the entertainment for the night, and just had a few finishing touches that I did on Sunday at home with my pastel pencil.  So next time, I’m taking my traveling pastel bag so I have all the essential supplies to finish a piece:

  • Soft Pastels: I prefer the cheap ones made by Loew Cornell
  • Soft Pastel pencils: black ones are a must!
  • Fan Brush: helps brush away unwanted pastel dust (also good for correcting mistakes)
  • Sketchbooks: always bring more than one for anyone that wants to sketch with me
  • Canvas Rug: a huge piece of canvas with durable hard black plastic on the other side so I can sketch anywhere and clean up is a snap!
  • Baby Wipes: makes clean up easy and eliminates the need to go to the restroom to watch my hands
  • Fixative Spray: it’s what binds all the pastel dust together so it can be enjoyed for years to come

Now the inspiration for this piece came from this month’s theme, Dream, over on Creative Everyday, and Arty Girlz’s weekly challenge, Butterflies.  Both of which, always have great art challenges.  So go be inspired with the New Moon and create something…

Posted in Pastel Journal Tagged , , , |