Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for March, 2012

18 Months.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The mango disaster isn’t the only time I’ve fallen, of course. In January 2007, I was running for a bus and twisted my ankle badly. (I blame the shoes.) Despite ice packs and rest, things didn’t improve, so eventually I went to the doctor. An x-ray didn’t show a break, so she prescribed physical therapy and sent me on my way.
I completed physical therapy, and went on with my life hoping that this was just a slow healing sprain. My friend Kiana convinced me to go hiking with her several times and I climbed mountains all over Western Washington, but my ankle still hurt.
Eighteen months later, I was still complaining about it, so Chris sent me back to the doctor. She decided to order an MRI this time, and surprise! They found that I had broken my ankle right at the place where the three bones meet inside the joint. Because I had walked (and hiked) on it for so long, I had worn away all the cartilage in my ankle. That’s why it hurt.
So my doctor ordered surgery and I spent the next six weeks on crutches. Now I think about all those hikes with Kiana and give myself extra credit, because I completed them with a broken ankle.

“Crutches.” 6×12 Oil on Panel $150.

986 meters.

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012


So I really loved tea and cookies, and my snack cupboard, but I’m not a fan of mango. Everyone is always a little surprised, because there were great huge mangoes in Africa and everyone else was thrilled.

But my klutzy tendencies ruined mangoes completely for me.
Our first year onboard, the school took an overnight field trip inland about 3 hours away. We went camping on the only mountain in Togo, and it was a terrific experience. Mostly. The first day our hosts decided to take us on a hike to the top of the mountain. Through the bush. As the only adult female, I was wearing a dress in consideration of local custom. We were walking through heavy foliage and mud, but trudging along beautifully, until we come to a big rock. Our very nimble guide jumped off the rock, the teenagers followed him in short order and that left me standing on the rock alone. I hesitated, then got down as low as possible and took the tiniest jump I could get away with.
And landed promptly in a pile of rotten mango that had fallen from a nearby tree.
It was a two hour walk back to our camp, followed by a bucket shower. But I smelled that mango for days. And I haven’t eaten one since.
Not even this one. I gave it to our neighbor, who was thrilled.
Then I lit a candle in my studio.

“Mango.” 4×4 Oil on Panel $110.

*By the way, Mt. Agou is the highest mountain in Togo at 986 meters.

3:30 every Monday

Friday, March 23rd, 2012
Oops! Yesterday’s link didn’t work for everyone, so let’s try this again. The book is out in the world today! I’d be thrilled if you could help spread the word. Here’s a (working) link to send to anyone you think needs a little more beauty in their life.
Living on the ship taught me the importance of rituals. Once a week, I’d have a cookie from my treasured stash, but never on Mondays. Every Monday we had a school staff meeting complete with tea and cookies.

Our school secretary, Beth, always came up with a way to make the meeting special. Sometimes we’d have ice cream, or she’d bake a cake, and she always set the table with pretty things. We had a few of these silver bowls floating around leftover from the glory days of elegant cruising. Beth used one to hold sugar for our tea.

A few weeks ago, I got an email offering me one of those silver bowls and couldn’t reply fast enough. My friend Warrie sent me a few mementos and pieces from the ship, and when the box arrived I felt like I was holding a bit of home. So of course, I made a cup of tea.

“Silver Bowl.” 6×6 Oil on Panel $130.


Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
First: The book is out in the world today! I’d be thrilled if you could help spread the word. Here’s a link to send to anyone you think needs a little more beauty in their life.

Now the story:

Each year, we spent 8-10 months in West Africa, then sailed to Europe to resupply the ship. I always took this chance to resupply my snack cupboard too.

After a year or two, I had a good system down. The best place to buy cereal was in the UK, but Germany had the best cookies and snacks.

I’d buy as many Knoppers or Hanuta as I could fit on the shelf and then I’d budget them out carefully. Usually that meant one per week.

Honestly, I rarely stuck to the budget. The last few weeks before returning to Europe were always a little light on chocolate. (And then there was the year that the freezer broke down and all the ice cream melted, but that’s a different story.)

A few weeks ago, my friend Annette handed me a treasure. It was a Hanuta bar that she brought back from her trip to Germany. Suddenly, I was right back on that ship again. Good memories.

“Stocking up.” 6×6 Oil on Panel $120.

1951 + Reminder

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

That ship that we lived on was an old Italian cruise ship. It was built in 1951 and filled with marvelous details and bits of beauty.

So much of it reminded me of “An Affair to Remember.” You could totally imagine Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant waltzing in one of the lounges.

One of my favorite details were these handblown Venetian glass lamps. They were so beautiful. Often I’d imagine drawing one when I was supposed to be paying attention during a meeting.

That ship is full of stories. A glamorous cruise ship during the golden age of travel, she sailed between Europe and Asia– even appearing in a Tintin comic– before she was abandoned when cruising went out of style. She was resurrected and became a hospital ship for another 30 years. She was finally retired in 2007, and all these details are lost. Except in memories.

“Details.” 6×12 Oil on Panel $130.


Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Leap in to new things.

I made this available to my email subscribers on Leap Day, but now I’m releasing this to the wide world!

Today’s the day. Starting right now, you can pre-order my newest creation.

Beauty Everywhere. (My book!)

I wanted to do something special to celebrate my 500th painting. And I wanted a way to bring the paintings and stories together in a new form– something that’s easy to share and enjoy. I’m excited about this chance to connect with you in a new way.

I’ll ship them out to you later this spring, but because this is a limited edition item, I wanted you to have the opportunity to reserve yours now.

Beauty Everywhere is a delightful collection. Measuring 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches, every page is printed in full color with a flip out easel back, so you can display it wherever you need a little more beauty in your life. Each one will be signed and numbered by me.

Many of these paintings have been sold and now live in other places around the world, so this is the only chance to see them in one place again. This collection contains one-hundred of the paintings and stories I’ve been sharing with you over the past two years. It’s a perfect way to bring beauty to your desk, cubicle, or kitchen counter.
I can’t help but imagine you flipping through the pages, finding a painting or story that speaks to you and propping up the easel back, so that it’s within your view as you prepare dinner, or plow through emails.
I’ve worked carefully with my dear friend Jen Lee on all the details of this creation and I’m really thrilled with the way it has taken shape. Jen’s wisdom and planning have really made this project happen, when I might have given up. She’s helped me with details that I didn’t even know I needed to worry about, including figuring out this ordering process.If you want a little more beauty in your day, just click below to order. It will take you to a shopping cart and a new page, where you can place your order. 

Once you order, and the books return from the printer later this spring, I’ll sign and number each of them–if it’s a gift, I can write a note for the recipient, too. Then I’ll ship them out with good wishes and Beauty Everywhere.


Monday, March 19th, 2012

Most of those 51 countries that I dreamed of in 2nd grade were seen by sea.

For nearly five years, Chris and I lived onboard a hospital ship based primarily in West Africa.  That ship shaped me as a person and an artist. It was amazing.

But it was also stressful. Working in intense conditions and sharing 12 washers and dryers with 400 other people made life complicated sometimes. And it was a little hard to find personal space. But I was lucky–just outside my classroom was a quiet area of aft deck that most people forgot about.

There was one particulary challenging school year while we were in Liberia. After a rough day, I’d go out and sit on deck to watch the waves. The mooring ropes would creak as the ship moved against the dock. It was always warm, and occasionally there was a very large jellyfish (I named him Norman) below in the water.

Even though that ship is long gone, sometimes when I’m having a rough day, I can put myself right back on that deck. And it’s a comfort.

“Solace.” 6×8 Oil on Panel $120.


Friday, March 16th, 2012

When I was in second grade, I got a globe for Christmas.


I spent hours on the floor of my bedroom spinning the globe, closing my eyes and putting my finger down wherever it stopped.

Then I’d look up the country in my World Book Encyclopedia (I was a total nerd) and decide if I wanted to visit when I grew up.

I made a list but never let it get longer than 10. Because who could imagine visiting more than 10 countries? I never thought it would happen.

It’s a good thing our lives turn out better than we imagined them in second grade, because I’ve been to 51 countries– which makes me feel very lucky, but still doesn’t seem like that many.

As I write this, on the bulletin board above my desk is a list of places I haven’t yet been, but still want to go. Chile, New Zealand, India, Russia, Italy and Antarctica. And these are all places I learned about from spinning that globe.

“Spin.” 12×12 Oil on Panel $360.


Thursday, March 15th, 2012

I have a confession.

In college, I delivered pizza for a very long six months. I learned a lot about food and life by knocking on doors with a large flat box in my hand.

But one of my favorite deliveries was always just down the street. About once a week, employees of a certain burger joint down the street would order a pizza, and when I delivered it, I got french fries as a tip.

It was a fair trade. They were sick of burgers and I was sick of pizza. Those were the days when the 99¢ value menu was expensive for me, so those fries were a big tip.

“Tips.” 8×6 Oil on Panel $140.


Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Jolyn is one of my favorite people. We were knitting together yesterday, and she told me the best story. We were talking about how I’ve never regretted being brave. She said that she had.

She was 8 and known in her family for not being very brave, when her family took a trip to the zoo. Her brother was making fun of her because she was afraid to feed the animals.

So she worked up her courage, bought a bag of food, and walked over to a giraffe. She held up her hands in trepidation and the giraffe took all the food in one big slurp. She looked up and was just feeling proud of herself, when the giraffe finished chewing and promptly spit right on to her face.

Oh dear.

“Regrets.” 8×8 Oil on Panel $180.