Instagram, Family, and Special Interest Paintings

I have been staying up WAY too late these nights. Mostly because of my darling son, but also because of my new social media love- instagram. Oh man, is it addicting! But honestly, one of the biggest things that I am really grateful for when it comes to instagram, has very little to do with pretty pictures. Ok, well actually it has a little something to do with it and I will get back to that.

Mostly, I am grateful that it has allowed me to reconnect with my aunt.

This is my Aunt Mary Anne…

Mary Anne or Mae West?

She did this Mae West Tribute show for a long time, and then did some vintage music shows for assisted living facilities where they would appreciate it the most. Which means that she was caring about these older people before they were in danger. Which to me, shows that she was ahead of an all different curve, you know basic humanity and compassion.

She is my father’s sister and the very same aunt I told you about at the beginning of quarantine when I was worried about who I was gonna lose to this sickness. In that post, I also told you about the grandmother that I did lose, shortly after I wrote that, actually. Which meant that when I saw my aunt posting her work outs on instagram it was like I had to see her. I didn’t want to miss my chance with her, like I did with my grandmother. In fact, there is this strange connection that whenever I see her picture, I think “grandma.” Not because she is old enough to be my grandmother, no. It’s just this impetus. It’s like the word “grandma” has become “don’t wait.” Don’t lose her too.

Now, I am not saying my Aunt is going anywhere. She’s incredibly healthy. She does these stair climbing marathons and is doing a virtual one to raise money for Leukemia, her team is called Stair Down Cancer. (Love a good pun.) I just really don’t want to waste anymore time with her.

And seeing her virtually is good enough during this crisis, like I said, despite being ridiculously healthy, she is older than my father. And my uncle, the writer, has MS, and is a quadriplegic. He also has a great blog about their adventures in a handicap accessible RV from a wheelchair perspective, called Wheelie Out There. I think that pun alone shows you how great he is. (Seriously, love a good pun.) But it also shows you that I want them to be safe in this uncertain time.

Picture courtesy of his blog, Wheelie Out There.

Sidenote- When I first met my Uncle John I believe he had a cane. Then a walker. Then a motorized scooter, and now a wheelchair. The interesting thing about that, is that none of my memories of his mobility aides are bad ones. Sure, I didn’t want that for him. But his presence has never been a sad or tragic one. When it was the walker, I remember him showing me the “grassy knoll” in Dallas as we looked over the fence where a “second shooter” might have been. When it was the motorized scooter, I remember him nearly plowing into a hissing goose outside his apartment, a war whoop of glee on the air. What I am saying is, despite his difficulties, which are enough to destroy most people, he has a tremendous spirit. He also skydives. So there’s that.

We’ve made plans to get together once they swing through my little town. And I’m pretty happy about it. Honestly, I’m just hoping I won’t burst into tears when I see them. Undiagnosed autism and other mental health issues can be so isolating. The best thing about getting diagnosed (and the proper medicine) has honestly been “coming out.” It allows you to get over yourself a bit and go after what matters to you. My family will always matter most to me. So it’s like a starting pistol has gone off, and I want to go see everyone. Too bad it happened during a quarantine. Nonetheless, I’m pretty pumped.

I’m also pumped about an idea my aunt gave me over instagram. I was posting some of my old paintings which included this teacup painting I did for an antique shop.

And she suggested that I create painting of rare teacups for collectors. And while I am not sure that I want to necessarily go the teacup route, because rare teacups are usually quite intricate, and would not really be my.. ahem…cup of tea, per se, I really loved the idea of painting a piece that a person might collect. Because you will often find that autistic people are collectors. This also made me think of the other unique special interests that people on the spectrum have. I think sometime in the future I would like to do a series based on such an idea, highlighting those special interests and elevating them into art.

Do you have a special interest that you would like a painting of?

But maybe, more than that, do you want to see your family more? It’s hard living with mental health issues, like I said before. And hopefully, once all this is done, and it’s safe to be with each other once again, maybe it doesn’t have to be so isolating.

Maybe it’s not too late.


The painting is by Salvador Dali. It’s inspired by Mae West, the real life actress my Aunt has made a career out of impersonating.

Finding Kyle and My influences

I have discovered another contemporary artist that I am just in love with. I am slightly embarrassed to say that it was while I was watching decorating shows on hulu at midnight. The show “Good Bones” reminds me so much of my mother and I as a team. Now, my mother and I did theatrical productions, not renovate houses, but it’s the same kind of energy.

Anyway, Kyle Ragsdale made an appearance when the mother-daughter duo were looking for some original art and came to visit his studio, and uh- I reversed the video THREE TIMES trying to catch not only his full name, but all the art in his studio. I wanted to see IT ALL.

But all they said was “Kyle” and I was like, do I just plug into Google “Kyle + Beautiful Art + Indianapolis”? But apparently, yeah, that was all I had to do, because I found him.

Folks. I am loving his work. But I also really enjoyed this moment on his website, where he listed his influences. This long list, with no explanation. And, sure, he listed artists like Gustav Klimt, Gary Hume, and Fiona Raye- but then he also added, golf, Scrabble, The Royal Tennenbaums, and Bjork. I LOVE that. Especially as an autistic person, who often relates and communicates to the rest of the world through references from movies and popular culture. (Think Abed from Community.)

So, I wanted to introduce you to Kyle, yes, but I also wanted to make a similar influences list, with no explanation either. Influences to my art, my writing, my life in general. So take it as you will… again, no particular order, other than my ADHD inattentive brain.

My Influences

  • Harry Potter
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Texture
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Tricia French
  • Lizzo
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • 1960’s pop art and fashion
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Paul McCartney
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Edward Hopper
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Pattern
  • Hannah Gadsby
  • Radiolab
  • Ira Glass
  • Justice/Responsibility
  • David Bowie
  • Penelope
  • Lady Gaga
  • Neurodiversity
  • Westerns
  • Star Trek
  • Puns
  • Compassion
  • Zombie/apocalyptic novels
  • Disney films
  • Carl Jung
  • Ironic covers of popular songs
  • Mary Blair
  • Margaret Atwood
  • My family
  • Ted Kooser
  • Mary Oliver
  • William Carlos Willams
  • Dolly Parton
  • Christopher Moore
  • Marvel Comics
  • Adam Driver
  • Sandy Powell
  • Emily McDowell
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Nolan Brothers
  • Franz Marc
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Jess Franks
  • Michael Carson
  • Anna Bond
  • Typography
  • Hurst Castle
  • Queer Eye
  • Inclusivity
  • Laughter
  • Warmth

And maybe… you? The people that I want to help. Always. You probably influence me the most.