UALR 6×6 Event

It all started when…

Emily Wood Facebook messaged me – “Interested in donating to the UALR 6×6 event?” – or something like that.

Six by Six Invitation

All pieces entered are 6×6 inches – hence the “6×6” title. I decided that prints would be the best way to go, so I tore some paper and mixed some ink (pewter, red, and white). I did test prints first to make sure the cropped images were strong compositions.

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This was a happy accident from rolling out the red ink.

Once everything was printed, I stopped by Hobby Lobby on the way home from work the next day and got the pieces matted – which felt like a complete rip off at $5 per mat! They didn’t even let me keep the matboard scraps they cut from. Yikes was I mad about that.

“The Dancer”

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“The Lady and the Musician”

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“Dinner Guests” (which is its actual size)

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I put the Paper Opera stamp on the back and signed the print.

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M and I went to the UALR 6×6 event and had a nice time! It was a silent auction – where all of the pieces are placed on the tables and people walk around and bid on them.

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I was happy because all of my pieces got bids.

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At the end of the event, there were speeches and thank you’s and lots of clapping.



Art for an Anniversary

M and I have been going to the Mary’s Homegroup with Grace Church since 2011. Doug and Sue Mary work with Family Life and so their specialty is marriage studies. They have been great to M and I and have invested their time and prayers in the lives of the couples under their leadership. The Mary’s have been supportive of my art, even coming to my University of Arkansas at Little Rock Master of Arts exhibition in December 2012.


They have been supportive of my mission trip to Romania in June 2014.

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I fact, they have us in their home every two weeks providing dinner and a space to spiritually grow.

Their 40th anniversary was this year on July 18th and I wanted to do something that would be special for them. I asked them to send me a picture of their wedding day.

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I started working on a painting for them.

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Once finished, M and I went to their house to deliver their anniversary painting.

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Happy Anniversary Doug and Sue Mary! Thanks for all you do for your community.



Artist Studio Series: Stephen

Stephen Cefalo is a well-known artist in Little Rock. Last year he was voted best artist by readers of the Arkansas Times. He is often seen at the Arkansas Arts Center, at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Department of Art, and in the North Little Rock Argenta art community. I have also seen him and his family a few times at Whole Foods.

Stephen is starting a school in Argenta. He teaches private classes at his studio in North Little Rock on Wednesdays. You can contact Stephen at for details or call at 501-231-9959.

I met Stephen in an open figure drawing class he hosted at UALR.

Stephen Cefalo Studio – Stephen writes about his studio below.

“My studio is nestled behind the library in the back of our new home in Indian Hills, North Little Rock.”


“It overlooks a flower garden. I come here not only to work, but to think and to relax.”


“We are blessed to have this beautiful north-lit space. The light is better, the view is gorgeous, and even the air feels nicer out here. It is an incredibly peaceful and inspiring place to work in.”


“Yes we are terribly pleased with our new place.”


You can visit Stephen’s website at

Listening Party Experience

This is a “selfie” on one of the happiest days.


I went to a fancy listening party downtown in the 300 Third Tower. The listening party was in the party room and the view of downtown Little Rock was really nice.

300Building downtown view

The listening party was for the KUAR Arts & Letters, “Searching for Latini” episode. UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson came to the event and even gave a short speech of his support for this project.

So, what does any of this have to do with me, and why do I look so happy in the selfie?

In December last year, The Damsels in Distress were hired to create music for a new program on KUAR called Arts & Letters. We wrote the opening theme music – also used for the radio spots – based from “Corey’s Song.”


The first show, “Ethics Bowl” aired in January. It was about what “ethics” are and played a sample Ethics Bowl.

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Credit

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

On one hand, we wanted the music to emphasize the experience of a game show -poppy, fast, bright, upbeat, but also with an edge (for the feel of competitiveness). We also wanted to put a serious tone for the idea and debate of “ethics.”

Here’s how it works.

As composers, we get a phone call. In the call, there is a title and description of the coming show. The discussion extends to what sort of music that specific show needs in terms of how many songs, length of songs, the general “feel” or “mood” of the show. This call is followed up with an email of the script. We (The Damsels in Distress) each read through the script and then together, we brainstorm general ideas – kind of like story boarding, but with music.  We grab our instruments and go to separate rooms and write.


We come back together and do a rough recording of what we wrote. We write off of each others initial song, and create a “sketch” – which is a more detailed recording with many different parts we can mute/unmute. Once we get the detailed sketch we like, we record on our more professional gear.


This does not all happen in one day! This process takes weeks. Once we have recorded and are satisfied, we email the files. From here, we may need to rewrite or rerecord songs based on what the producer wants. The show airs, and we get a check in the mail.

So, back to the Listening Party.

At the Listening Party everyone that worked on the show ate delicious Thai food catered by Chang’s and listened to “Searching for Latini” live. It was super exciting – much like an actor’s cast party when the production is completed. It was also the first time a lot of us got to meet each other because so much of the show is done through phone conversation, email, and separate recording sessions.

“Searching for Latini”  is about Brunetto Latini, the teacher of Dante and the first translator of Aristotle and Cicero into a vernacular language. We wanted the music to sound Italian/Italian Renaissance for this show.

Listen to Searching for Latini here!

Credit Parlor Press

Credit Parlor Press

Listen to the songs we wrote for “Searching for Latini” here.


Hanging Art with Ephraim

When the wall is bare, and you have lovely and thought provoking  art. Why not hang your lovely and thought provoking art piece in this bare wall space?

This WAS the bare wall.


The following post is about my friend Ephraim McNair hanging lovely and though provoking art.

Ephraim is a graphic and collage artist who worked in a gallery for a stint. He worked in the exhibitions offices of University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and his alma mater, Western Michigan University. At UALR he enjoyed helping Nathan Larson manage and install pieces from the permanent collection in offices across campus. At Western, his favorite job was lighting exhibits from 30′ up on the air on the scissor lift.

We met through his wife Marita, whom I worked with at UALR. He initially hung the lovely and thought provoking art piece  “Orthodoxy” by artist Curt Bozif, in our home office.


“Orthodoxy” by Curt Bozif

This was when my art studio took over the entire front room.


Once we moved my studio, we wanted to move  “Orthodoxy” as well – so it wouldn’t get any paint splatters on it. Ephraim so graciously worked with us again – by hanging “Orthodoxy” as well as wrote for Paper Opera about this experience. The following is by Ephraim McNair:

Art hanging, June 1, 2014

The piece of art is 48″ tall x 96″ wide x 4“ deep canvas on masonite. It is solidly built, with vertical bracing on the back reinforcing the masonite, and perimeter framing to which the canvas is attached.

There are many ways this piece could be hung but the artist did not attach any wires or D rings to the back. Instead of installing our own, we took advantage of the structural soundness of the piece and hung it on some vertical rails mounted to the wall.


I brought a pretty basic tool box with me for the installation. Here is what we ended up using:
Drill bits
3″ drywall screws
Power drill with 2-headed apex (a phillips and slotted head on the same bit, these are super useful)
Tape measure
36″ Level
Stud finder
Masking tape

The first thing to do was determine position. We knew it should go behind the couch but how high above it? Micah took a seat and we measured a comfortable distance above his head from the floor. To that measurement we added the height of the painting, extended the tape measure and held it against the wall.

Waaay too high. From the ceiling there was only a few inches to where the top of the painting would be. While it made room to sit on the couch comfortably, the resulting proportion above and below the piece would have been rather unbalanced. Instead we opted to set the piece about level with the top of the piano and put enough room between the couch and art so sitters wouldn’t feel like they should lean their head on the painting.

There was a good deal more measuring that went on which informed the final decision but I won’t bore you with the details. Personally, I rather enjoy examining a space numerically before working it and discovering spatial relationships.

Once we knew where we wanted the painting, I got out the stud finder and ran some masking tape along the width of the area where the painting would end up. The tape provides a surface for the stud finder to run on without marring the paint as well as a medium for marking the location of found studs.

After we found the studs, we prepared the rails for installation. Micah drilled pilot holes several inches from both ends and drilled in the screws so that the points of each were just poking through. The rails are 1-by-2’s and in order to maximize support for the depth of the painting, we put the screws in so the 2″ length would be perpendicular to the wall. Then we marked one L(eft), the other R(ight) and indicated which end we intended to use as the top.

Once the rails were prepped we marked the location of the top of the rails on the wall at our chosen support studs. This is the most important step in regards to the levelness of the painting; “Measure once cut twice” definitely applies here.

Calculating the location of the top of the rails was very straightforward. We simply measured the height of the (p)iano, added to that the (h)eight of the painting and then removed 1″ from the total for the width of the wood forming the painting’s structure. This can be expressed with the equation p + h – 1″ = measure for top of rail.

L.K. and Micah’s carpet is the comfortable squishy residential kind so I measured from the top of the toe board, which wasn’t that high, to eliminate any variance in rug density. On the wall, I penciled a T with the top bar at the measure, and, after re-measuring both marks, asked for the level.

Holding the level and the rail together, we put the top of the rail at the top of the T and plumbed the rail before pushing the screw points into the the wall. We circled the resulting marks and drilled pilot holes at those points.

At one of the marks the drill went right into the wall with no resistance after the first quarter inch of drywall. A clear indication that we had missed the stud! We checked the stud position and adjusted our rail, re-measured and re-marked its top, plumbed it and then tried again. Resistance all the way through! We had hit the stud.

With the pilot holes drilled, we screwed the rails to the wall,  lifted the painting into place and stepped back to admire our handiwork. Since we were confident in the position of our rails we didn’t even bother checking that the painting was level.

With the painting up, the finishing touches revolved around organizing the room and justifying it to established focal points and the wonderful painting which had finally found its home.


“It makes a certain kind of sense to put the largest painting in ones collection in the largest room of the house,” Micah said.