The artist formerly known as Mom

March 1st, 2009

My mother’s name was Artice. It was an unusual name, and it brought her unusual attention. Almost everyone thought, on first hearing, that her name was Artist. So she was an artist, and she was a mom. I am a mom, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that I am an Artist too.

A few months ago, the photographer Denise Andrade came up to my house and before she could knock at the front door I opened up a side door from the bedroom and hollered for her to come in. So she came in through the bedroom. I suspect that’s the way she comes in most places, through the hidden chamber, to the real you. She said something right off that she will not remember, but that I will not forget, since it is something that I would never in my right mind say about me. She said:

You have a cute figure.

I think that’s why she got pictures that looked like this. Like no one I’m used to seeing, but who must live around here off a side door to a hidden chamber.

Now I’m not supposed to be hidden. I make a point of being all up front and in your face. But even that pose, you know, that Zen pose can get stale and predictable. I’m so glad I didn’t fool Denise for one minute. She has an eye, you might say, that doesn’t sleep. That’s a big-time Zen compliment, but I’ll leave it to you to find out what it means.

I asked Denise to come over because I wanted updated author photos. Because I want to be up front and in your face. Because the last ones were taken three years ago, and because a lot can happen in three years when you get to be my age. So then Denise went and made me look about 30 years younger.

A friend I haven’t seen or spoken too in 15 years saw one of Denise’s photos of me online and said, “Is Zen the secret of ageless beauty?” Zen is ageless beauty all right, but Denise is the secret.

So if you’re an artist, like a writer, and you need a stunning author photo for a book jacket or something, even if there is no book jacket in sight, especially if there is no book jacket in sight, you should go straightaway to Denise and invite her in through a side door. Sometimes you have to get a photo first, and then the book jacket shows up. I know. This one here is the photo my Dutch publisher chose. That’s right, Dutch as in the Netherlands as in Amsterdam, where Georgia and I are going, courtesy of my Dutch publisher, in April, to celebrate the Dutch translation of Momma Zen.


  1. I remember hearing about that photo shoot back then. These are beautiful pictures. Great author’s photos.

    Somehow, I feel like you’ve been away and are finally coming back.

    Comment by Rowena — March 1, 2009 @ 3:40 pm

  2. Lovely shots – big happy cheers for a dutch translation! Wow! Hooray for Dutch reading mamas!

    Comment by Alyssa — March 1, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  3. My sister’s name is Ardis. Everyone thought we said “artist” too. She is an artist as well. Denise certainly can capture one’s essence. Lucky.

    Comment by Puanani — March 1, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

  4. Happy Dutch Copy Day! How many languages are you up to now????

    Comment by Shawn — March 2, 2009 @ 2:03 am

  5. You are lovely in all the photos, but the last one of you and Georgia is stunning. It captures the mother-daughter connection in your eyes.

    Congrats on the Dutch translation! Very exciting!

    Comment by Kathryn — March 2, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  6. Denise is right, you have an adorable figure. You are forever young and it has nothing to do with any facials. Open heart, open mind, pure love. That’s the Karen Maezen Miller we all see. Thank you for sharing with us.

    I am so happy that you now get to share your wise words with Dutch Mamas. There’s a name for someone like you. Someone who creates beauty wherever she goes and leaves the world a better place: Miss Rumphius.

    Hugs, kisses and congratulations!

    Comment by Melissa Moore — March 2, 2009 @ 3:38 am

  7. You are coming to Holland! That is amazing. When are you coming exactly? Will you give a presentation about your book, that is open to the public?
    And may I suggest that you pay a little visit to The Hague, where I live :-).

    With kind regards,

    Els, Den Haag, Holland.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 2, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

  8. Congratulations on the translation!

    As a professional, I feel confident in saying that Denise did a lovely job 🙂 I wish I could photograph you…you’re really luminous.

    Comment by Lisa — March 2, 2009 @ 2:38 pm

  9. Els,
    I was hoping to hear from you. I will be arriving on April 6 and I have activities on the 7th and 8th but I don’t yet know what they are. I actually have family in Amsterdam so I will spend more time there. Contact me offline through the email address on my profile page and perhaps we will get lucky!


    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 2, 2009 @ 4:10 pm

  10. Oh Maezen,
    You just made me all weepy and confirmed why I love my job so much.

    Thank you for sharing your perspective of this precious day that I hold close to my heart.

    I will never forget you peeking outside of your bedroom and coming o me with your arms open wide. That hug as unforgettable.

    And you DO have such a cute figure. Is it appropriate to say you’re a hot Zen momma?

    ; )

    love you,

    Comment by Boho Girl — March 2, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  11. One talented photographer for one talented writer! A friend of mine lived in the Netherlands for a year — she loved the place and the people, and I bet you will, too.

    Comment by Judy Merrill-Smith — March 3, 2009 @ 1:09 am

  12. It’s in the eyes….

    Comment by Anna — March 3, 2009 @ 3:22 am

  13. So much to say, but for now I’ll just ask you to promise that you’ll visit the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, and bring your eyes that do not sleep.

    Comment by MojoMom — March 4, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  14. Congrats !!! I think those phots of you are all lovely – because you are a beautiful soul – as my great grandmother would say and you can’t hide that kind of beauty.

    Comment by Cat — March 4, 2009 @ 3:21 am

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