tell your cat I said “psssst”


I am really digging the pet portraits, especially when I know how much a friend loved their little furry Murray. This is Sam. Sam was a hairy beast and I love that for him. I also love that for the extra textures I could try out on this rug hooking.

The base is monks cloth rug hooked with wool fabric worms and yarn. When he first started out, I was convinced I was making a chipmunk. My mantra was “trust the process” the whole way through.

Then I was ready to whip stitch the edges with this beautiful yarn from Hound & Hound Farm in Winthrop, ME.

But I wanted to add the texture of this hairy hairy cat so that it really looked like Sam. First I added some whisker holeswith some French knots (I don’t know either of those terms but I’m assuming those are the words) then I used the frayed leftover bits of monks cloth from my edges (reuse EVERYTHING) to tie in some loose whiskers! Man, this cat had the best whiskers!!!

I bet they tickled mommy real good

Finally, I needle felted loose washed wool on to the ears and trimmed them to his hairy ear perfection.

Stabbing does not feel good so I pretended I was petting him.

I love using so many skills and textures in one small piece. It makes me feel pretty whole in what I’ve learned and I know that his mommy loves fiber and would appreciate the effort.

Sometimes, it’s a long process

I started this painting about 2 years ago and just don’t get into my studio too often for many reasons including chronic pain, it’s super cold/hot in there, and there’s too much on my mind to commit the time. But when I do I truly love the process. When I get some capital to spend, I’ll renovate the studio space and make it a year-round useable space but right now… yeah.

Anyway, I really loved how this painting was going and I take photos at the end of my studio sessions so that I can look at the painting and critique it outside of said cold/hot space. So in the year since I worked on this, I just KNEW I had to straighten some lines out! So my latest session was painting over the shadowed areas of the porch and draw in some better line guides to use going forward. Also added to the left window and siding to bring those areas to better completion. Still working hard on it…when I feel like it.

My little buddy, Sammy, is always in the studio with me.

I rarely ever used photo references for paintings and actually thought pretty badly of that process. But now I understand it fully and utilize it often. I like capturing moments in time, just how light moves through a composition at a certain time. You were lucky to be there to experience it. And, as you’ve read, I don’t paint that quickly. So I’ve been relying on my photography as the reference step, and then really standing at the scene in the moment and thinking about it as a painting. Painting it as fast as I wish I could in my brain. But that’s only for me to see, so I need the photograph to help me remember the details when I’m in the studio. I don’t sketch that often, either, but this particular piece I drew out quite a few times to get the feeling of the movement of those shadows. Like there’s characters in the scene.

on the palette table
on the butchers rack table

And I moved the piece to several different surfaces to work on it and get straighter lines, better light, etc. This last pic I really loved how the actual shadows in the studio cast onto the shadows in the painting. It’s the little things.

Not great lighting in this photo but my reference for critiquing for the next studio session. There are graphite lines that are going to help me straighten out that door and those posts. I think it’s on the right path and that feels like a good point to end and to start.

I wish I was a daily painter, but there’s a lot to be juggled.

DIY tutorial: COVID protective barriers


Brian and I made two light-weight plexiglass barrier shields for COVID-safe Girl Scout cookie booths! They cost about $30 each in materials at this size. 

The idea is that they are freestanding but they can also be clamped to the table for wind. They are 28×30 plexi with a 3” opening to slide their cookie orders through — I’m calling that the “Covid Cookie Connector”. 

Material list (makes two barriers):

*2 pieces 28×30” plexi (~$19 each)

*one 8 foot length aluminum angle 1/16 x 3/4 (from hardware store sheet metal section) (~$11)

*machine combo screw/nut round #6 32 x 3/8” (10 per screen: 1 box of 100 ~$5)

*drill with a corresponding drill bit for selected screws; optional reamer bit 

*phillips head screwdriver


*measuring tape



*scrap wood for drilling block

*safety goggles, duh

sheet metal section
This is what the sheet metal section looks like.

Step 1: 

Take your 8 foot length of aluminum and measure & mark four (4) 16″ lengths and four (4) 8″ lengths. Use your hacksaw to cut these marked lengths.  

Remember, this is making two barriers. If you’re only making one barrier, use a 4′ length to start and cut half the amount of pieces. This is full customizable to any size or amount needed — Play around and have fun!


Step 2: 

We’re going to start drilling holes for feet — for the left side, put the end of one 16″ length perpendicular to the center of one 8″ length. *Keep in mind that you want the foot (8″) to have its L angle facing like a proper L for this side.  The interior upright 16″ length should have one side touching the interior outer edge of the foot and its other side furthest away from you. With these sandwiched together on the side and on top of your scrap wood, drill a hole in the center of their meeting point.  Attach screw from the outside and nut on interior.

Repeat MIRROR IMAGE orientation with to create the right side. 


Step 3: 

We’re going to start drilling holes through the side uprights to hold the plexi on. We wanted to have a pass-through opening on the bottom that would fit a box of Girl Scout cookies so we gave a 3″ clearance.

From the bottom of both 16″ uprights, on the L angle furthest from you, measure 3″ upwards and mark with a line, continue to measure up every 3″ with a dot in the center of the aluminum. Repeat on the right side aluminum.  

Peel protective film from left and right side of plexi, front & back. Put wood blocks under each metal side, then lay your plexiglass flat on top of marked legs, with the bottom edge sitting on the line drawn towards the bottom.  You will now drill through the plexiglass and the aluminum at the same time- hold tightly and drill, using a reamer to give yourself a cleaner hole.

Insert screws from the customer-facing edge (easier to do when you hang it over the edge of your table and screw from the floor upwards) and your nuts on the interior side that you drilled from.

Repeat on other side.

You’re done! Just peel the rest of the protective film off and you’re ready to use it!


I added green painter’s tape to the edges to make it more visible and a clear indicator that your girls are taking precautions.  Have them decorate it with your troop number, sales pitches, and cookie images!

If you know of local Auburn/Mechanic Falls/Poland/Minot Maine businesses that would like to host us for a drive thru COVID-safe Girl Scout cookie booth in April, please let us know! Or if you’d like a virtual party for your business, let us know! We do contactless drop off throughout the local area.

Tutorial: Stick & Paper Bow and Arrow Craft for Kids

Easy Supply List & FUN Stick and Paper Bows and Arrows for Kids

I recently started volunteering as a leader for Girl Scouts of Maine and I have the best group of Daisy girls! It’s been really fun to hear about what they want to learn & discover in their girl-led adventure! I thought this would be a good chance to revive my blog and share these activities & crafts because I know I search non-stop online for ideas of my own.

So our new troop was only able to meet a handful of times in-person before COVID-19 hit and we were all staying safe at home.  I knew immediately that I wanted to offer the girls a sense of normalcy by continuing our meetings with their new friends. What it truly did was provide ME with a sense of normalcy and I’ll forever be grateful for that!

Our Goal List of things to explore

So at one of our Zoom meetings, I asked the girls what they would like to learn about and focus on for future meetings so that I could line up some activities.  I wrote their ideas on post-it notes and stuck them behind me on my window during the meeting and they’ve remained there so I can keep working towards their goals.  The absolute #1 to-do on their list was ARCHERY! Oh, they were so excited and really wanted to accomplish archery.  I know that it is always a very popular activity and that it’s hard to work towards that goal since they are Daisies and are not allowed to do this activity for safety reasons (in our council it is Brownies and up). 

So, I brainstormed and found all sorts of great instructions on making fake (aka “safe”) bows and arrows out of craft supplies like Popsicle sticks and even recyclables and pool noodles.  My bigger challenge was finding one that could be made from materials they might already have at home since going out during COVID-19 was not an option. Plus, I wanted to make sure it was easy enough to be able to make together virtually. So—- stick and paper bow and arrows!

Each girl was able to pull together some form of these supplies

So simple material-wise. I emailed the following list of materials to have on hand for our meeting:

  • (1) 12 inch & (2) 6 inch sticks from your yard -the longer one should be slightly bendable
  • yarn or string
  • construction paper or paper
  • tape
  • craft/real feathers or pine thistle
  • scissors

We started with a safety lesson.  Even though these are sticks and paper, there still are safety precautions that I wanted them to know about archery in general and sending any type of projectile in the air, no matter what it’s made of.  I found some great guidelines here and taught them the basics before we started our craft because once a bow and arrow is made– THEY WANT TO START USING IT! Lol I told them that after we are done making it, we would review the rules one more time -why? Yes, they already knew that answer! Like I said, they’s an awesome group of girls!

The parents were available to help the girls with assembly and this is what we did:

Take your large stick and about 20″ of string or yarn. Tie one end of the string to one end of the stick, leaving about an inch of the stick exposed and a short tail of the string hanging. Then wrap the string around the stick in that same spot a few times.
Tie off with the tail of the string and knot twice.
Extend the rest of the string to the other end of the stick and tie in a new knot while slightly bending the stick and holding tension against the string. This can get a little tricky but there isn’t really a wrong way to do it. As long as there is some tension, their bow will work. Make sure knots are placed on the same curved side of the stick.
Place your knot, wrap extra string around a few more times and knot twice again.
Ta-da! You now have a bow! We took some time to decorate our bows with washi or painter’s tape, paint, etc and then tied or taped our feathers and other decorations to the bottom of the stick for fun.
Now, take your smaller stick- we’re going to make an arrow. Bonus points if you can find a stick with one end branched out like this! It makes for a super-dooper nock on your arrow. If they do not have this, please ask their parents to use a scissor or knife to cut a small notch at one end of the stick. This is what will sit in the string of the bow and help the arrow propel.
Now take a piece of paper and cut out two triangle shapes. The girls had some tricks of their own to make two triangles the same size with one cut. I folded over a piece of heavy stock paper, drew a line from the the original corner (now on the bottom of the flap) to the fold. Then cut along that line.
That will give you a triangle with one folded side, this will help attach your arrow but isn’t necessary. If you have two seperate pieces then just tape them to the front point of your arrow branch.
If you did use this method, then open up your arrowhead fold and place the stick at the point…
…and then tape it down on the inside of the arrowhead.
Fold flap down to join triangles with the stick sandwiched and taped in place and then tape on both open edges. — you now have an attached arrowhead that’s pointy but not too sharp!
Take that nocked side of your arrow and attach the feathers and/or thistles to the end with tape. This is called the fletching and gives the arrow aerodynamics. It will fly without it but the fletching will help it go further. They can decorate their arrow shafts with tape and paint, too.
NOW YOU ARE DONE!! My girls each made two arrows and one bow so continue to make one more arrow if you’d like.
After reviewing the safety and whistle rules again, I then took a camp whistle and used it to signal looking around us for safety and nocking our arrow, then firing our arrows, then retrieving them safely.  It was SO.MUCH.FUN! They were giggling and having a great time learning how to take a shot. And they really do work! Mine went about 9 feet without trying too hard.  We shot them randomly a few times and then we drew targets on paper/whiteboards and tried out our aim.
I highly recommend doing this virtually and when we’re back in-person.  It was so much fun and all from materials easily found in our backyards and with minimal normal craft supplies. And best of all, we were able to accomplish their #1 girl-led goal! GO TEAM!

About Me

I was born & raised on Long Island, New York. In 2000, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Boston University. I now live in Auburn, Maine with my husband, Brian, our doodles Sammy & Nelly, and my twin sister, Joy.

I love to talk about materials & process so feel free to write a comment / ask a question.

Visit my website at

Need to contact me? jamieribisi {at}

Getting Through Working Through

 I like to think that paintings don’t have to be done when you think they’re done (and certainly not when you want them to be done). This painting started last summer and I thought that it ended last summer but when I took it out recently, I knew it needed more.

…Going back to last summer, I started painting this at home and gave the underpainting some bright yellows and lots of graphite drawing. It went along with me to a 3-day art show with my friends where we were all working on pieces in progress throughout the long weekend.

At the point above, I felt like it was done. But it was nagging at me that it really wasn’t finished. My friends kept telling me it was done, STOP. But I wasn’t sure. I decided that I should let it dry and then decide, took it home and, a few days later, thought. Yep, that’s good enough. Damn it, I should never think good enough is good enough. But it kept getting nice reactions from people, especially other artists, and I thought it might be ok. But when I took it out again to prep for the “Working Through” exhibit, I just couldn’t leave it. I finally saw what I wanted to do to it and that was to simplify the colors and layer the drawing more.

“Getting Through”, Oil and Graphite on board, 18″ x 18″

So I took some more paint and some more scraping and graphite to it and I’m happy I did. The new tones of blue, the less black area, and a different use of the yellow. The yellow is still there and, even though it’s just peeking through, I think it has more impact in its subtlety.

And who knows– maybe if it sticks around I’ll paint it again. Only time will tell!

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 – June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

Working Through -Artist Statement

Working Through  |  Jamie Ribisi-Braley
Solo Exhibit
Monkitree | April 4 – June 7, 2014

In my studio there are always at least two paintings going at the same time as well as some small oil sketches on paper or tiny canvases. I’ve never really liked to sketch- preferring, instead, to let the immediacy and searching show in the final painting. But I’m finding that these small pieces are helping me to work out the color schemes, composition, and movement while remaining finished pieces in their own right. At times, these sketches are actually made after I’ve already finished the larger painting – in a way it’s still working through the process.

And that is really the theme of this body of work: Working through it. Not giving up. Most artists can attest to the nagging feeling of giving it all up. Of feeling beat. Wanting to pack up the brushes. But this goes a bit further. As I’m working through the process, I’m also working through chronic pain that makes it difficult to be in the studio as much as I need to be. Namely, migraines dampen my studio practice and interfere with life in general. Working on these abstract pieces, full of turmoil and quick paced lines of repetitive mark making, is a way for me to work around the pain and let it all hang out.

The painting process is almost wishful thinking of how I want my health to be- having the authority to take something I don’t like and just paint over it. Whether it’s from layer to layer, reinventing the color and composition, or taking a previously finished painting and completely painting over it. Start fresh, take control, and have more energy. Searching for the point when it all feels better.

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 – June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

A Study in Green

Spoiler alert

I’m going to go a little out of order here because I have a lot to say and a lot that I’m working on. So I’m just going to post about each thing as it pops into my mind. That’s just how I roll right now.

For my solo exhibit, Working Through at Monkitree, I’ve been making new paintings and also reinventing some old paintings by completely painting over them. It’s quite liberating and I highly recommend it! It all ties in with my artist statement and I’ll get to that in the next post.

I dug through my cabinets of old paintings (yes, cabinets) and found four that I just wasn’t feeling the love for anymore. Here they are in all of their non-glory:

Now, let’s focus on the one on the bottom left. That was called “Green Apples” and I painted it a few years ago for a group show at Monkitree. It seemed fitting to start with that one since I feel I owe it to the gallery to make a nice painting out of that one.

Green Crapples– I mean, Apples

At the time I painted it, I sort of liked it and thought it might grow on me. It didn’t.

The original painting was casein & wax pastels on paper mounted on board. So I immediately thought of using some cadmium green sketching oil paint and my oil sticks on top of it. The color choice was a reminder to me of what was underneath. Moving forward is important but remembering how you got there is key.

first new layer

After covering it completely, I started drawing into it with my oil bars.

starting some marks
Then I kept drawing and painting, drawing and painting, and I guess I got caught up in the moment (that is the best part, isn’t it?) because I didn’t take any more photos of the steps in between. Well, like I said, how you get there is key…but enjoying the ride is the goal.


When I look at this I think about piles. Piles of crap: worry, exhaustion, feeling like a pile. In thinking of a new title, one that is nicer than Piles of Crap (but that would be fun, too) and references the old title, I think I’m settling on Compost Pile. It’s gritty enough. It’s also about how you can take a pile of crap and turn it into something useful.

Come see my first solo exhibit Working Through at Monkitree, 263 Water St, Gardiner, Maine
Opening Reception: Friday, April 4, 2014  5:30-9pm
Exhibit runs April 4 – June 7, 2014
Facebook Event page here

Lightning Stage

Stage 6: Lightning Phase

Really liking the lines in the previous stage, I decided to focus on that section. Boy, was that torturous. I didn’t have the right motivation to even be in the studio and my head just wasn’t working but I kept painting and rubbed the oil sticks all over that damn canvas.

After much frustration, I’m okay with where it’s going, just not totally where it’s at.

I do love the colors in the top left section and hope to bring some more of that to the upper portion as well as more contrast and drawing. It’s not anywhere near what I was thinking it would be but I have to remember to stop thinking and just work.