Big projects are the things that get me excited about waking up each day! I always have a crazy new idea rolling around inside of me that has to take a life of its own and grows into every thought, conversation, and then takes some physical form. The real secret is that these projects are never satisfied unless they include the whole world...or at least my world! Family, friends, and every stranger I meet. So if you are reading this, more than likely, you have witnessed one of my projects!
Orchid Stories is the largest project I have ever done, and it grew out of the need for a Creative Reboot in myself when my friend, Stephanie, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. What do you do when you have a huge catalyst enter your life? I asked one question repeatedly, “What can I do?” Each time I would ask, and an idea would come and I would act on that idea. This is how Orchid Stories was born.
Sharing my Orchid Story and hearing others share theirs has changed me in ways I never would have imagined. Orchid Stories Volume 1 was released in April 2019 and includes beautiful stories of hope and love from 23 people and includes Stephanie’s Orchid Story. The stories are 26 of my Bella Rotta Orchid Portraits that I painted. The stories and paintings that are included in this very first volume of Orchid Stories have brought me so much hope and love.
We all need more hope and love. My dream is that Orchid Stories becomes a global movement because I believe that when we share our stories, we come alive. It is as if our lives only exist when we share them. Are you ready to share your story? Orchid Stories volume 2 is coming alive as I partner with a 50-year-old orchid nursery in rural Connecticut. Oh, how I love a great adventure!
Every day is filled with creation for me. My Bella Rotta technique is physically demanding, and I need to create more than my body will allow physically. That looks like studio hours of around 10:30am-5:30pm and extra creative other adventures happening before and after that.
My favorite non-studio creative time is at 4 am. I love the quiet and darkness of early morning. I stay as quiet as I can so I don’t even wake up my dog, Georgie. This early morning creative time started when my kids were little and the magic has stuck with me even though my kids are all grown up. I light some candles and I write, read and meditate while everything is still around me is still. Some of my best creative ideas have come from this early morning ritual.
When I arrive at the studio, I have a definite routine that gets my painting time to come to life. I NEVER clean up the studio before I leave at night so the first thing I do is clean up. I turn on my music and start scraping my bucket lid pallets clean and get them ready for fresh paint. I get my rolling tables that I paint on cleared off and set up the next painting that is waiting for me. I have a big screen tv that I plug my phone into and pull up the image that is my inspiration for the painting and start moving colors around. Everything around me is intentionally designed for full immersion of color. The clothes I wear, the floor, the walls and even the ceiling are waiting for flying paint. Everything is safe for me to get paint on. My studio is my sanctuary, a safe place to paint and create without holding back at any level.
I always pack a lunch and have extra “energy” tunafish at the studio. So many times, I am immersed so deeply in my painting I forget to eat until I feel sick. It is at these times that, just like orange juice helps with a diabetic, tuna juice helps me in the studio giving me just the pickup I need to keep painting without taking a huge break.
When I get home after my studio time, I take time with my husband and we do all the family fun stuff. Many times after dinner, I want to play on a Co-Creation sketch or starting a new video or writing for Volume 2 of Orchid Stories. I’m always creating!
My formal education is in Animal Sciences. I grew up on a dairy farm and wanted to become a lobbyist for the dairy industry. Agriculture was all I knew until my husband introduced me to art for the first time at age 22, when he took me to Italy. That exposure to art was like going home to my soul. My ancestors are from Italy. My husband lived in Italy. Going to Italy on that first trip awakened art in me at a genetic level.
My studio is my playground and my schoolroom. Art education is an everyday event for me as I study this beautiful world. I have a primal need to translate what I see through my Bella Rotta (“Beautifully Imperfect”) philosophy. Bella Rotta released me from a prison of perfection. My deepest desire is that others will be released from that same prison and live Beautiful As Is.
I believe that we are all born artists, that we are all creators. Our mediums, our language of art is however as unique as we each are. Sadly, however, the world criticizes our practice of our art and to protect this precious gift; we stop sharing it with the world and eventually stop creating our art all together. This even happened to me. I was the most miserable in my life when I was not creating. It almost killed me-- not creating, not being an artist.
I feel blessed that I have been able to take my passions and create a lifestyle around the things I love. I am an adventurer. To feel completely satisfied in life, I need to go on adventures regularly. I think I get this from my dad. He always wants to see what’s on the other side of the mountain or around the next corner. I am the same way. My Sprinter Van has become my adventure friend and seems to be game for all my crazy adventures.