Little Sister | Solo Show

24 paintings in 49 days…well 25 if you count the portrait I did for Art Lotto. I can hardly believe I somehow managed to finish everything on time, work a full time job, sleep, and even have a little fun along the way. I’m going to do my best to present a virtual show here, but you should really check it out in person during the month of August at the Blue Nile in Harrisonburg (the full show covers the entire restaurant including the stairwell and the downstairs, so for the whole experience, visit after 7pm when the downstairs is open). So many of these pieces have texture and dimension to them so a photograph just cannot capture it in the same way.

Little Sister | Show Description

This show was born of a fascination with sibling relationships and the realization that the vast majority of my close friends share the experience with me of being a little sister.

24 paintings

10 sets of siblings (1 set of 4 . . . 2 sets of 3 . . . 7 sets of 2)

The little sisters and their older siblings were asked to share a set of descriptive words with me about their sibling.  These words are shown in the word cloud; the larger the word, the more times it was used in descriptions.

Each sibling was also asked to share a few sentiments about their sibling, which are included beneath each image.

I am forever grateful to the lovely women and two men who participated in this project.

Obligatory Artist Bio

Rhoda hates writing artists bios.

After many years of swearing to skip town, she is happy to be living and working in Harrisonburg.

She is planning to build a house in Keezletown, including an art studio that is larger than a shoebox. She hopes this happens sooner rather than later before she paints herself into an artwork accidentally.

Rhoda loves using texture and found objects in her paintings and gladly accepts “trash” donations from friends. . .broken dishes, discarded Barbie dolls, 1,001 pharmaceutical lids, rusty children’s scissors, giant sheets of vellum . . .

Most recent acquisition – a full set of old windows to repurpose!

The Paintings


When I was younger I derisively referred to my older sister as “Mom #2.” Now I appreciate her caring and assistance, as do many others who know her.

– written by Gretchen

24 x 24 | acrylic, fabric on canvas | sold


Gretchen helps out anyone of her friends or family whenever is needed. I am very grateful for her presence and support at so many times in my life, now more than ever. She is my biggest supporter and most honest critic. I love her very much and am so proud to be her sister.

– written by Lynda

16 x 20 | acrylic, stone on canvas | sold


Of all the things I’ve ever shared with Lonny, the two I’m most grateful for are laughter and land. The laughter we’ve shared has filled my life – from my earliest childhood memories to hanging out earlier this evening. The land we share has given me the best neighbors I could ever want – even if it brings a funny new meaning to “big brother is watching you”.

– written by Jill

24 x 30 | acrylic, stone on canvas | $325


When we were kids: tomboy, easy-going, playmate, milkshake-on-her-face, soccer-playing, teal bedroom wall-living, sweatpant-wearing, lima bean-eating, sweet-smiling little sister.

And now: still easy-going, next door neighbor, ginger-eating, can’t-start-the-lawn-mower, slightly-sacrilegious, Simpsons-watching, best-aunt-ever little sister.

– written by Lonny

12 x 24 | acrylic, wood on canvas | sold


When we were kids Holly led our adventures building forts, creating forest trails, and putting on plays and circuses. She doesn’t think of herself as an instigator, but she’s the reason I’ve found myself swinging from a rope half-dressed as a clown (screaming) and pedaling around eastern China with a rag-tag but enthusiastic crew. Like most big sisters, she’s the beginning of a lot of exhilarating moments and laughter inducing memories.

– written by Amy

 24 x 24 | acrylic, fabric on canvas | sold


My little sister is practical and wild. She is responsibility peppered with idealistic fervor.

She carries conviction … anger sometimes … wanting us all closer to the way things should be.

She is never afraid to slow down and find her own way. She knows how to say no, or not like that, or how about this other thing?

She is deeply feeling, deeply thinking, witty and compassionate. She creates and cares … with a spirit stubborn and carefree.

– written by Holly

14 x 18 | mixed media on canvas | sold


Calling. Carefully listening, gently probing, subtly offering council. Planning a visit, driving for hours, cooking favorite treats, sending the leftovers. Letting a brilliant sparkle of anticipation glimmer through understated selfless strength.

– written by Krista

24 x 30 | acrylic, plaster, plastic on canvas | sold


Krista is my younger (and only) sister. We’ve experienced great joy and heartbreak together, which has kept us close through the years, even when distance and busy lives keep us apart. She is the favorite aunt to my son, and they love spending time together via Skype or when she comes to visit. Krista loves big-city living, and works hard making a difference in the lives of many kids as a top-notch bilingual speech therapist.

– written by Lisa

12 x 24 | mixed media on canvas | $130


Faithful. That’s a great word to describe my sister. She’s also resilient, easy to talk to, particularly with the “twin dar” that we have goin’ on, and, I definitely can’t leave out that she’s a pretzel fanatic. Seriously. This girl keeps them stashed at work, home, and in her car! I’m proud to call her my twin sister!

– written by Melissa

30 x 40 | acrylic, plaster on canvas | sold


My sister….

She inspires me. She encourages me. She loves me.

– written by Monica

20 x 20 | mixed media on canvas | $180


My sister and I work well together because we take turns being the black sheep in the family. She makes it easier for me to stand up to my mother, which is impossible to do. When we were little I thought we would never be friends, but now, even though we live very different lives I am proud to call her my friend!

– written by Amanda

20 x 20 | mixed media on canvas | sold


If my sister was a cartoon character, she’d be Scrappy-Doo. She’s way stronger than you think and afraid of nothing.

If my sister had to choose between being the ‘damsel-in-distress’ or the ‘knight-in-shining-armor,’ she’d pick the knight. She’d rather rescue than be rescued; protect than be protected. She’s one of the bravest and strongest people I know.

My sister has a smile that lights up the whole room.

– written by Heidi

 14 x 18 | mixed media on canvas | sold


Taylor rocks the free world! She is inspiring and optimistic. She is opinionated and fun to be with. We are the two ENFPs in our family and I think my personality more closely mirrors her’s than anyone else’s in the family. I love that she has not carved a traditional path in the world. Upon my graduation from college, she gave me the advice, “You know, you  have 10 years to basically do whatever you want with…go volunteer, travel, experience the world.” It was freeing…I felt liberated. I laugh more readily and harder with Taylor probably than anyone in the world–she is a freakin riot!

– written by Sandy

36 x 36 | mixed media on canvas | $585


vibrant, in motion, out-reaching

Choosing three short descriptions of my sister Sandy, I see that two of them use prepositions — words that show Sandy in relation to the people and things around her.

And this is how Sandy lives. She is in motion. She is out-reaching.

Sandy’s life radiates with her inter-connectedness — to her family, her husband’s and her friends’ families, to her community at home and to the various communities around the world where she’s lived.

She is someone both deeply rooted and constantly growing the branches of her connections. The joy she both gets and gives through these connections makes her as vibrant as a big, spring-green tree.

– written by Taylor

24 x 24 | acrylic, plaster on canvas | sold


tough as nails













single minded

role model

– written by Cindy

30 x 40 | acrylic, plaster on canvas | donated


Cindy is an amazing woman. Constant and steady like a heartbeat.

We have traveled together from the moment I got my drivers license. She’s been my friend since the day she was born. We’ve traveled from the beaches and mountains of NC to the Keys in Florida, and as far as Guatemala City.

I can always count on my sister. She has listened, and prayed for me through a heart wrenching separation and divorce. She came and stayed with me during my back surgery and then helped bring me home and never left my side. She rejoiced with me in my new marriage, and has been a constant friend and an amazing support for me.

– written by Linda

20 x 20 | mixed media on canvas | sold


My brother is the zen of a storm – all the intensity and fire of the most outrageous storm, stirring up chaos and challenging the status quo…yet in the midst of it he sees peace and ubuntu. He thrives in situations that make others tremble, mocks security and seeks to grab life by the horns and ride until there is no question that he has lived life to the fullest, and made an impact on everyone he meets.

– written by Ashley

36 x 36 | acrylic on canvas | $585


We trust your heart, because you care so deeply. You personify love and liberate those around you to live more extraordinarily. You are ubuntu. You are a life artist.

– written by Jared

16 x 20 | mixed media on canvas | sold

Mary Ellen.jpg

Mary Ellen

She is always focused, whether cleaning house, playing basketball, being a nurse & health educator or tackling the political world. A fearless and powerful problem solver, she takes action. She encourages her sisters to do likewise.

– written by Viola

Your presence in my life from the beginning, brought me the experience of safety, reliability, and constancy. I can’t help but wonder if those gifts to me provided the human foundation that allowed me to even begin a lifetime, experiential journey of faith and trust in a relationship with a steadfast and faithful God. Thank you.

– written by Berni

36 x 36 | acrylic, plaster on canvas | donated


Your openness to life, others, and me, challenged and saved me—literally. I have both envied it and respected it and been the recipient of it. Your door has always been open to me in my darkest and loneliest times. You also brought to me for many years, the first and only gifts of light, clarity, truth, and definitions to my own dark, murky reflections of my Self.  A gift that continues to bless me. Thank you.

– written by Berni

Communicates: with nature, with others, with God

Permeates: lives, spirit, literature

Hibernates: for refreshment, for summary

Octopus – Multiple tentacles receive input & then emit goodness into her environment in a continuous manner.

– written by Mary Ellen

16 x 20 | mixed media on canvas | sold


She created her own world amidst the chaos. Her huge imagination made for creative play times as kids. Her intelligence questions everything. She focuses on her inward journey through reflective journaling and letter writing, words flowing freely on paper. She embraces the mysteries of life.

– written by Viola

Restless, Creativity, Multicolor, Movement, Merriment

Escalator – The courage to explore the height of the unknown; the ability to descend & interpret the value of the basement.”

– written by Mary Ellen

14 x 18 | acrylic on canvas | sold


My big sister, who had a rebellious edge and a zest for drama, taught me a lot of lessons before her death at age 26.  Her honesty and insights were sometimes unnerving.  Her commitment to running and recovery were inspiring (She got me to run the Charlottesville ten-miler with her).  She once drove all the way to Michigan (from central OH) to pick me up from music camp so we could go to an Indigo Girls concert in Cleveland.  The sky let loose and we danced in the rain, the crowd losing all inhibition, the sense of freedom catching…

– written by Katelyn

Sara was my introduction to so many things in life, from harrowing car rides, to exploring nature, to Ani Difranco and Tori Amos. In my mind as a child, Sara could do no wrong and was capable of absolutely anything. As unpredictable as a spring thunderstorm, she was full of light, darkness, chaos, and the occasional rainbow. She inspired me to explore the world, to run, to enjoy life and recognize my many blessings. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, and through that process I learned so much about myself, my family, relationships, and the world. Sara left no life untouched and I have been forever changed by knowing her.

– written by Rhoda

30 x 40 | mixed media on canvas | $540


Katelyn is genuine and steadfast, my go-to person for a listening ear and a wide-open mind. Her support has been something I have been able to count on from day one, especially notable through some of the most trying times of my life. I envy and aspire to her ability to see and give grace to all angles of any given situation. Katelyn is one of the most purposeful people I have ever encountered, from the attention to what she puts into her body, to what she puts back out into the world. She cares deeply for others and is an incredible encourager, inspiring those around her to not only to continue doing what they do well, but also gently reminding them to engage in self-care. Katelyn is fully grounded light and air.

– written by Rhoda

24 x 30 | mixed media on canvas | sold


Rhoda walks too close to the cliff’s edge for my comfort.

SuperRhoda, as a past employer once dubbed her, gets things done.

She runs marathons.

To me she is “Rho,” little sister, peer, friend.

Growing up we weren’t allowed to get bored, so when chores were done we would hang out our bedroom window on our backs, scanning the sky for images in the clouds, talking all the while.

Rho is loyal and eager to help. Sometimes too eager.

Once (okay, actually twice!) she got up from the dinner table and walked all the way down the lane to get the mail, when all my mom had requested was the mayo (from the fridge).

She is hard not to love.

In my world, she is a solid, encouraging presence,

my color and design consultant, confidante,


– written by Katelyn

12 x 24 | acrylic, plaster on canvas | $130


It was such an honor to have everyone share so openly with me about their sibling relationships. A huge thank you to everyone who participated – your contributions were inspiring and insightful and absolutely crucial to pulling off this show.

Stay tuned for a post about Art Lotto!