My First Juried Art Competition

My intention was to paint three small paintings to 
enter the competition. On the day that a friend and I planned to enter our pieces, my three companion paintings sat unfinished on my table. I had to tell my friend I was looking forward to going but I wouldn’t be entering anything in the competition. She responded with, “Don’t you have any original framed art that you could enter?”

It so happened I had one framed original watercolor hanging in my kitchen. The painting was never entered in a show so it qualified. Thanks to my friend’s suggestion I received second place for my “Sweet Pears in Crystal.”


My First Juried Art Show

 Another source of inspiration for a painting is a poem. The theme for the show was to create a piece that was inspired by a poem written by one of six Georgian poets. The poem I chose was “Fire Eater” by Clela Reed. Clela wrote the poem while in the Peace Corps in Romania. Her words painted pictures in my mind. In the first mental image, I could feel her sadness, a cold dreary day, and how much she was missing home. In the second picture, she described a path she would walk upon returning home.

Fire Eater
Poem by Clela Reed

Hollowed out from winter,
steeped in gray and grayer,
I’m hungry for the sun.

I would be an eater of the flames,
tilt my face toward the sky,
lift a long, long handled spoon
and scoop the orange and yellow
into bites of light I’d swallow
until I began to shine!

Then all would know
what I’ve been dipping into.

I’d trail behind me
comet trails of summer glow,
and even walking in the snow’
marigolds and buttercups
would blossom in my path.

And I would feast with such delight,
quick in famished greed
that scattered light-crumbs
from my mouth would feed
the pecking weary birds
and lift them into spring.





I am happy to say the original painting found a new home. Giclees are available in your choice of size.

Where do You Find Inspiration for Your Paintings?
Part 3

The last of my three favorite commercial projects was painted at The Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. This project would be a departure from the type of floral subjects done in Part 1 and Part 2.

While working in my studio in Colorado I receive a phone call from Tag Galyean, an architect/designer based in Virginia. He asks if I was interested in painting a resort in Arizona. How can I say no to that?

The first area is the original wood plank floor in the lobby.  American Indian motifs from tribes of that geographic locale seem appropriate. The area is over 20 feet wide and will require a repeat pattern. I decided
to design and cut stencils for the motifs to expedite the painting process.


It’s early morning the day before I begin the second phase of the project. The urge to take a drive through the desert is beckoning. The  
glowing sun is rising above the horizon. To my delight, the desert has many plants in bloom and it’s a sight to behold.

As I drive, the ideas for the historic fireplace begin to fill my mind. The fireplace was also in the lobby. An eleven-foot wide adobe fireplace painted a rich earthy mocha brown. The five-foot-wide arched opening seems to be calling for  flowering cactus with a few desert critters as elements of surprise.




It seems I am not missing the extraordinary moments  after being home many more hours than at any time in my life. For now, I prefer the gentle hums of beauty that are so plentiful in nature. The dreams that are already in my days, and my heart exist in every moment … when I pay attention.

Adding to my dream of creating another cutting bed will hopefully be coming to fruition soon. Forty bulbs and eight rhizomes are planted. Three white Knockout Rose bushes flank the end of the screened porch. I anticipate the rewards being subtly life-changing as I soon pick a bouquet of homegrown flowers and snip herbs from pots for home cooked meals.

Paying attention to plants as they grow emphasizes the passing of seasons, the weather, and the idiosyncrasies of nature. A few annuals and some bearded iris rhizomes occupy space around a moss-covered stump left behind after a sixty-foot-tall tree needed to be removed. We never know when Mother Nature will throw us a curve. I had a good tussle with her after a hail storm last June. She commands a lot of respect and I know I will never control her.2021-4Shrimp.jpg

This little treasure was placed in a large pot on top of the moss-covered stump. The only description on the tag was Shrimp Plant, something I had never encountered while scouring nurseries.

Framed art has occupied my time for nearly a year now. The creative process itself is a time of wonder. Not knowing for sure what the finished piece will end up being is in
itself an encouragement to finish.

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I have begun a mural in my master bedroom. Being busy with framed art I haven’t felt a rush to finish it until the first signs of Spring
appeared. The idea of my bed in 2021-4Agapanthus-sample.jpgthe center of the room no longer makes me giggle at the disarray. I am wanting my space back.

This painting on my sketch pad is one of many tiny blooms on top of a stem of an agapanthus. Below are photos of my forever flowers in progress. The photos that I took of my little garden in bloom last year were the inspiration for the mural.




28 comments to My First Juried Art Competition

  • Mickey

    Re: My First Juried Competition

    Joan M.
    Date: Wed, May 5, 2021 8:38 am
    To: Mickey Baxter-Spade

    I loved your newsletter. You are such a joy to be around. I love being your neighbor.


  • Mickey

    Good morning, Joan, that is the nicest email I could read first thing in the morning. I feel the same about you being my neighbor. It was fun to see all of your beautiful flowers, too. Thank you for reading my newsletter.


  • Mickey

    Re: My First Juried Competition

    Martha M
    Date: Wed, May 5, 2021 9:18 am

    To: Mickey Baxter-Spade

    It is a beautiful piece! Congratulations on your win!


  • Mickey

    Good morning, Martha! 

    Thank you for your lovely comment and thanks for reading my newsletter. Hope we get to chat again soon.


  • Mickey

    Re: My First Juried Competition


    Date: Wed, May 5, 2021 9:27 am

    To: Mickey Baxter-Spade

    Dear Mickey,
    Once again, these paintings are beautiful! I am positive that God directs your every brush stroke! He has chosen you to convey His creations to the world.

    In these days of uncertainty and the pandemic, we as humans need to see that God is still in control.

    Rest in God’s Peace,

  • Mickey

    Good morning Susie,

    You have a wonderful way of encouraging me to continue my work. No doubt in my mind that I am only a conduit for God. I’ve known that for years and one thing that made me understand it is that at 24-years-old I figured out that when I don’t paint, I get depressed. One little completed painting fixes the issue. Of course, eating healthy to maintain energy is vital in that equation.

    I always appreciate you taking the time to comment. I hope all is well with you. Mickey

  • Mary Cronin

    Dear Mickey
    You know I love your artwork. It is so easy to gaze at them and loose yourself. We are so blessed to know you and have you in our lives. Being around you is always a wonderful experience

  • Mickey

    Oh Mary, your words are comforting and humbling. I am honored to be your friend. I truly appreciate your friendship and your
    support of my work.

    Big hugs, Mickey

  • david norman borden

    Read every word. Sounds like there is a lot of inner peace. Think of you ofen. Dave

  • Mickey

    Thanks, Dave, for reading every word of my newsletter. 🙂 I think inner peace doesn’t just happen as we get older we have to pursue it and make the changes in our lives so there is room for it.

    You’ve been popping into my head lately, too. It must be time for a chat. Mickey

  • Mickey

    from: Kate H
    to: Mickey Baxter-Spade
    date: May 6, 2021, 2:25 PM
    subject: Re: My First Juried Art Competition

    Kathleen Hamilton
    May 6, 2021, 2:25 PM (1 day ago)


    ​Oh my goodness Mickey…
    Your Newsletters are SO interesting (and inspiring)…I have read this one several times!
    Reflecting your love of art and nature so beautifully…
    Congratulations on your prize for “Sweet Pears in Crystal…”
    And, having lived in Arizona, your “flowering cactus” brought a smile and a few tears,
    remembering the months of March and April when the desert would “come alive” with color!
    And yes, Mother Nature has a mind of her own! The “idiosyncrasies of nature…”
    Cela Reed’s poem, “Fire Eater…” written with such imagination and feeling…
    “Scooping the orange and yellow from the sky into bites of light I’d swallow, until I begin to shine!”
    Another quote for my collection!
    “Forever Flowers in progress” in your master bedroom…SO beautiful!
    Mickey, thank you for including me in your Newsletter mailing list!
    Blessings and smiles and wishes for continued good health and joy in your life!
    Just imagine all the lives you have touched over the years with your creativity and beauty…
    What a living legacy!

  • Mickey

    Hello, again Ole friend,

    You write the most beautiful things, thank you so much. I, too, have read and reread your beautiful words. I’m keeping this for those days I begin to forget how special life really is. It will again bring a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. Yours is a special friendship. Thank you for being you.


  • Mickey

    from: DeAnne D
    to: Mickey Baxter-Spade
    date: May 5, 2021, 4:00 PM
    subject: Re: My First Juried Art Competition

    Hi Mickey,

    Oh boy! art competition! Sounds great and you have fabulous entries. I do appreciate the FireEater both the inspiration and the result. Your hidden gem is the Sweet Pears in Crystal Bowl. Oh, just hanging around on the kitchen wall! Ha! It may be your best ever, in my eyes. The lacework and especially the light in and through the crystal bowl, just exquisite!!

    Your bedroom mural looks unique. Is the entire wall dark (black?) Your delicate handling of Agapanthus on the dark background is ‘sweet sophistication’. You can quote me!

    Spring is undeniably coming to CS. . Unnamed flowering trees are dazzling in white, pink, and yellow. Even the elm trees can no longer restrain their tiny buds.

    So good to hear from you. Your newsletter brings so much light and joy into my life. Thank you so much!
    I love you,

  • Mickey

    HI De, oh I just love your comments. By all means, I intend to quote you on the ‘sweet sophistication,’ love it!  My master bedroom walls are charcoal with white trim and white recessed ceiling, master bath has charcoal walls as well.

    I so appreciate you saying my newsletter brings ‘light and joy to your life.’ I miss so much about Colorado Springs, the year-round beauty with splendid changes of seasons. There are few places like it. I have to say I miss my friends even more, of course, you included.

    Love you bunches!

  • Mickey

    From: Cathy T
    Date: Thu, May 06, 2021 7:54 pm

    To: Blog_–_Mickey_Baxter-Spade

    So beautiful. I enjoyed it all

  • Mickey

    Ohhh, thanks so much, sweetie!

    Big hugs coming your way

  • Mickey

    From: Barbara W
    Date: Wed, May 05, 2021 9:52 am

    To: Blog_–_Mickey_Baxter-Spade

    I loved being brought into memories + current happy painting.
    Think your bedroom touched me most.

    Wonderful, wonder filled life you are having.

    Love & hugs, B

  • Mickey

    Hi Barbara, thank you so much for reading and leaving comments about my newsletter. Of course, you would like the master bedroom, the wall color makes the painting pop. Thanks for suggesting the color! It made choosing what to paint much easier. I never tire of it.

    Love you bunches!

  • Mickey

    From: Ann C
    Date: Wed, May 05, 2021 8:18 am

    To: Blog – Mickey Baxter-Spade

    So enjoyed your article, it was as if we were together again. xxxann

  • Mickey

    Hi Ann, I’m so happy you enjoyed the newsletter. I’m moving my studio to my home. I would love it if you two would stop by, again!

    Take care, Mickey

  • suzanne m metcalf

    Mickey, you are so talented and such a beautiful person. I love your paintings.

  • Mickey

    From: Linda W
    Date: May 5, 2021 5:34 PM

    subject: Re: My First Juried Art Competition

    Mickey, you are as talented with words as you are in your art! I enjoy your newsletters so much, and your artwork is beautiful❤️

  • Mickey

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you so much. It brings me so much joy to read your response to my newsletter and work. I appreciate your support of my art. Looking forward to seeing you soon.


  • Mickey

    Re: Mickey’s Artistic Voyage

    Barbara W
    Date: Sat, May 08, 2021 12:02 pm
    To: Blog_–_Mickey_Baxter-Spade

    I love hearing my influence has left lasting joy to someone’s life.

    Your mural subject is so peaceful ——
    your artistic talent makes it richly, deeply genuine.
    You are so gifted.

    Saturday hugs flying your way,


  • Mickey

    You are so welcome, Barbara. Where would this world be without the generosity of others. You’re the best!


  • Mickey

    M H M
    May 9, 2021, 8:53 AM (6 days ago)

    Subject: Re: My First Juried Competition

    to Mickey

    So good to hear from you and see your still magnificent talent at work.
    I hear peace in your words too. It shows in your art too!
    God bless you always! MH

  • Mickey

    Hi MH!

    So nice to hear from you, too. Thank you for the lovely comment. I think peace comes with age and learning how to be quiet and listen. I am so in love with the sounds, colors, and scents of nature that the wooded area behind my little cottage blesses me with each day. Being closer to family doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

    Take care, I think of you often,  Mickey

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