That’s the one word that sums up my 2017. It was a year of new starts.  I had spontaneously written this in my journal back in 2015 when I was going through my personal stuff…

“The forest always returns after a wildfire. Slowly. Reliably. Think of it as a cleansing, a purging of the dead and no longer useful. It is all consuming, devastating, but within the ash is the impetus of renewal. The same is true within your soul.

Sometimes the only way to clear the path for true understanding is to endure the act of burning the old, dead weight. It’s not pretty nor enjoyable, and you avoid it for as long as you can. You find yourself dropping the lit match onto the dry, parched ground. You have a second of panic, thinking “what have I done?” It catches, and before you know it you are consumed. The only thing to do now is to let it burn and take with it all of the false truths to which you have been holding onto so tightly.

In the place of what used to be is the possibility of a fresh start. A clear view over the hills and valleys emerge, waiting to be fertilized and give birth to new growth. You have the opportunity to fill them with the purest, heartiest, and most beautiful trees, flowers, and grasses. You now have the chance to cultivate a deeper, truer you.”

I am by no means a writer but I think this metaphor sums up what the last couple of years have been for me. I can now see the young sprouts of new wildflowers popping their heads out of the ground and a few trees have begun to provide fruit, (metaphorically, of course.)  I’ve put a lot of work into my business this year hoping to re-establish what I once had. I am really trying to exercise patience and allow the universe to give me what It knows I can take.

I have had great blessings this year, especially with my new studio. I have my dad to thank for that. I am sad to leave the West End of Ellicott City, though. When I first moved in, back in 2012, I had left my old studio in my small dank basement . My studio on Main Street changed my life because I finally felt like I had arrived as a professional artist. It brought me into the Old Ellicott City fold, enabled me to host classes, and create bigger projects. I remember when I was getting the space ready for my open house that December, everyone pitched in. My mom was really excited for me and so eager to help so I had her wrap rope around the railing. She complained, (a little,) but was just so happy to be part of it, she was incredibly proud of me. I am happy to see my friend Gretchen move in and take over the space for her roasting operations for Bean Hollow. I will miss the community I was part of that once thrived there, but I am over the moon excited to have a home studio again, where my commute is literally 50 feet from my back door.

2017 has also been a year of re-focusing on myself in a personal way. I’ve been going to Crossfit since February and have changed my diet and feel so much healthier. I took myself on a solo trip this past spring to New Mexico for some exploring (both inside and out,) and this past fall attended a retreat in Scottsdale focusing on shifting mindsets. I started selling my jewelry, had my first solo art show and was accepted into my first juried show. I also learned how to sing and play my bass at the same time (still practicing that one.) I have a wonderful man in my life, and a few good friends so my 40th trip around the sun was pretty good.

With my 41st birthday creeping up on me tomorrow, I find myself thinking a lot about what next year will bring. So far, 2018 looks to be promising, I have a trip booked with a group of artists to Marrakesh in March, and a couple good projects in the works and I’ve signed up to compete in a Savage race for “fun.” I just have to keep a positive mindset and know that the universe will provide what I need when I need it. It always does.

I hope your 2017 was a good year, thanks for letting me share mine with you. I wish for you a beautiful holiday and an abundant and healthy New Year.


More Sugarbugs!

Chesapeake Pediatric Dental Group asked me to paint 8 more murals for their new office in Abingdon. CPDG has superkid heroes that teach children the importance of healthy teeth. They are always on the lookout for the destructive Sugarbugs. Here are a few images of the rooms I completed with the help of my friend and artist Mary Landavere. As before, we painted the murals on canvas and installed them on site. Shelly Wilkins of Walls, Etc. always does an impeccable job.

Pushing Paint in the Studio


Shelly Working Her Magic


In Progress

The finished rooms:

Art Howard County 2017 – Juried Exhibition

UPDATE: My piece “Wood and Lace” received “Honorable Mention!”

I’m so excited!! I was accepted into my first juried art show, “Art Howard County 2017” juried by Thomas Engleman, Gallery Director and Professor of Visual Arts, Howard Community College. All three of my submissions were accepted and are for sale. Contact me for more information: or 410-707-9246

“Rust & Dust”, “”Wood & Lace”, and “Around Back”, all for sale.

The show takes place at the Howard County Center for the Arts and is put on by the Howard County Arts Council. The show runs from November 3-December 15th, 2017. The reception (which I will sadly miss) is November 10th, 6-8pm. (8510 High Ridge Rd, Ellicott City, MD 21043, 410-313-ARTS)

A little teaser of the other works in the show. So much talent in Howard County!

Be sure to take some time and check out the incredible works on display and support your local art scene!

Past, Present, and Future: Pete Pappas & Sons Corporate Mural

Lenehan Studios, decorative painting, faux painting, murals, trompe l’oeil, ceiling mural, children’s mural, wall art, custom art, faux, Baltimore, Ellicott city, woodgraining, marbling, plaster, painting, artist, local, Dee Lenehan, cabinetry painting, furniture painting

Earlier this summer I completed a large scale mural depicting the family business Pete Pappas and Sons in Jessup MD.

I was asked to show the history of the company from the first packing warehouse founded by their great grandfather in 1942 who immigrated from Greece to Washington D.C. Also shown is the current facility and in the center are the three generations of Pappas family owners. The two figures in the center are passing a crate of tomatoes, symbolizing the passing of the company’s leadership from father to son.

The mural was completed on canvas in the studio and installed on site by Shelly Wilkins of Walls Etc. Learn more about how we create murals on canvas.

I love creating meaningful work and get such a joy out of bringing client’s idea to life. Do you have a space that could use a special work of art?

Following Georgia O’Keeffe; my trip to New Mexico

Lenehan Studios, decorative painting, faux painting, murals, trompe l’oeil, ceiling mural, children’s mural, wall art, custom art, faux, Baltimore, Ellicott city, woodgraining, marbling, plaster, painting, artist, local, Dee Lenehan, cabinetry painting, furniture painting

This past winter I decided to take myself on a trip to New Mexico, a place I had never stepped foot. I was searching for a workshop of sorts and stumbled across a Georgia O’Keeffe retreat hosted by the Ghost Ranch. I decided to sign up and spend the week and a half following the retreat driving across the state.

The workshop was hosted at Casa Del Sol in a restricted part of the ranch. O’Keeffe’s iconic ranch house is located along the drive. We took day trips to painting locations, walking where she walked to see what she was inspired by. An assistant by the name of Margaret Wood came to talk with us one evening about what it was like to work for Mrs. O’Keeffe. She wrote a cook book which includes many of her recipes. Before this trip I appreciated O’Keeffe as an artist but now I really admire her spirit of independence and grit especially in an era that most women were constrained to traditional female roles. Most of the days it snowed but there were occasional breaks in the weather where we could see Padernal across the valley. We used the time to sketch and paint whatever inspired us.

I then traveled south to Santa Fe where I had an appointment at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum to see her personal notes, color chips, and sketches. No photos were allowed. Seeing these artifacts really created a sense of intimacy. I really enjoyed seeing how she worked. After, I wandered around the city exploring and met some great artists. Took a couple day trips, one to Madrid to visit Harvey Shugarman’s chocolate shop, and another to Taos.

Then I was off to Silver City to explore the Gila National Forest, visit artist studios, and meet more amazing people. I fell in love with New Mexico and hope to return again soon.

Things Are Looking Up…

So lots of good things have been happening in my little world in the past few months and I wanted to tell you about some of it…

First of all, THANK YOU to all of the folks who came to my show “Still Standing” hosted by Pure Wine Cafe and presented by HorseSpirit Arts Gallery in Ellicott City. What a thrill it was to be able to share with you my work and see all of my pieces hung together in one space. If you followed me in the process of creating my solo show, “Still Standing,” you know how the last two years have been for me and the struggles I have overcome to make this happen.

This show, for me, was really a dream come true. Looking back at the work created, the opening reception, the love I received, I am overflowing with joy. I am grateful to have so many people in my life that love me and support my work. I never really considered myself a “fine artist,” and never thought I would have the need for true self expression. I now have a desire to continue down this path and see what I can do with it. Perhaps I will enter into some juried exhibitions, and maybe approach some galleries in the region. I will also have prints of the works that were on display in my new eCommerce shop! You can also click “Shop” in the menu bar above. And both “Retired” and “Moved on are on display and available for purchase at HorseSpirit Arts Gallery. If you are interested in the other paintings that were in the show please contact me. Thank you to those of you who bought pieces!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I am planning to create some new works, having been inspired by my recent two-week solo trip to New Mexico this past April. I’ll be sharing that in a following post. I am in love with the west, and there was so much inspiration for me that I know I’ll be back.

Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu NM

In addition, I have also begun to sell my jewelry. I’ve never considered it before but a close friend kept encouraging me and so I finally decided to go for it. Again, it’s in my new eCommerce shop.   And if you are local, you can see some of my pieces in person at my friend Kelly’s new shop “Made on Main” on Main Street Ellicott City (of course!)

Amber Cabochon

Speaking of jewelry, I have been ruminating on the idea of working that into my fine art. I am not really sure how yet, but thought I would put it out there and see what comes back to me in the form of inspiration. I just took a workshop at the Baltimore Jewelry Center with Robert Ebendorf, who happens to live in Santa Fe! More on that to come.

There are a few other things that are happening but I am not ready to share yet. They are big and exciting and scary and thrilling and I can’t wait until they’re more materialized so that I can tell you all about them!

So please keep in touch and find me on Instagram and Facebook.

Sign up for our newsletter and receive a FREE ART TIP!



The Show Must Go On



I am incredibly excited to announce that my first solo show, “Still Standing,” is on! As some of you may know, my show was scheduled to open in September of last year at Perspectives Gallery on Main Street in Ellicott City. However, due to the flood, the show had to be postponed. In retrospect I feel that it was a blessing because I was rushing to get work completed and really wasn’t enjoying the process of creating. With a little luck and a lot of hard work by many folks, I am excited to announce that my show is happening! “Still Standing” is presented by HorseSpirit Arts Gallery and be hosted at  Pure Wine Cafe in Ellicott City. I couldn’t be more grateful for the help of Robin Holliday of HorseSpirit Arts Gallery and PJ Strain of Pure Wine Cafe for working with me to make this happen.

The details:

Still Standing
Deanne Marie Lenehan
Presented by HorseSpirit Arts Gallery and Hosted by Pure Wine Cafe
March 13, 2017-May 28, 2017
Opening Reception March 13th 6-9pm

And its apropos that the show will be opening in March since that is my mother’s birthday month. This show is dedicated to her because it was with her encouragement that I began this journey of self expression. I’ve also decided to change my business name (again) and feel that this is a great time to make that change. So please make a note that Cunningham Studios will now be known as Lenehan Studios. New look, same great taste 😉

I hope many of you can make it to the opening. I’m so thrilled to share my personal work with you.

DC Design House

This year I am privileged to say that I contributed to the fabulous room, “Chic Retreat” by  Barbara Brown Interiors at the DC Design House.


“The 9th annual D.C. Design House opens to the public October 1, 2016. Each year, one local home has every single room redesigned by local interior designers and architects.

Located at 2509 Foxhall Road, NW, this year’s house is a whopping 11,242 square feet, and most recently served as a temporary house for the French ambassador while his real home was under construction. The home has five floors, seven bedrooms, three kitchens, eight full bathrooms, an infinity pool, a wine cellar and sauna.

All furnishings and accessories in the house are for sale — and so is the home itself, which is listed for a cool $10.8 million, according to the Design House website.

Proceeds from this month-long event benefit Children’s National Health System. The house closes Oct. 30.” -NBC4

Barbara Brown Interiors designed the “Chic Retreat” which is on the top floor.  A lady’s study/retreat/reading room has been expertly curated with chinoiserie inspired accessories, custom designed and built furniture, and features soothing colors and textures, but not without the occasional surprise.  I was asked to create chinoiserie monochromatic vignettes on the walls as well as verre eglomise surfaces for both the writing desk and built in cabinet top.

Desk designed by Barbara Brown, built and painted by Summerhill Cabinets, and top by Cunningham Studios
Desk top before installation. Verre Eglomise (reverse painted and gilded glass)
A little Chinoiserie lantern in a tree
A little Chinoiserie bridge
Bookcase designed by Barbara Brown, built and painted by Summerhill Cabinets, and gilded by Cunningham Studios

Unveiling of Ellicott City Mural

One of the flood damaged prints recovered from the studio.


Facebook Live Feed

Earlier this month I was honored to unveil my painting of Ellicott City donated to the Howard County Government.  My dear friends from high school, Theo Schlossnagle and Lisa Marini Schlossnagle donated the funds to purchase the mural which went to the Ellicott City Partnership for their Flood Relief Fund.  Fatimah Waseem wrote an excellent article detailing the event.

With the sale of the prints and the original mural, Cunningham Studios was able to raise $6500.00 toward the Flood Relief fund! Thank you!!





I wanted to update everyone about our situation in Ellicott City. My little town, where my studio is, experienced the worst flooding since hurricane Agnes in 1972. Two people lost their lives and the town in uninhabitable. Many folks lost not just businesses, but livelihoods, memories, keepsakes, and lifetimes of hard work and memories. But worst of all, two people were swept away that night.  Most of the buildings will have to be condemned.  The waters ripped away whole sidewalks, part of the street, cars were swept through culverts from a half mile up the road where they popped out at the other end of town.  6 inches fell within two hours.  One of the reading stations on the river went from 65 CFS (cubic feet per second of water) to over 21,000 CFS!!

This is from my friend Cindy’s second floor apartment looking out onto main street, Sweet Elizabeth Jane is across the street.
My friend Wendy lives across the street up at the West End near my studio. The Tiber runs under her front yard. The Red Honda Element gets swept down through the culvert and comes out in lot D, almost a 1/4 mile down stream.

This video was taken by my friend Sara Arditti who owns a gallery on Main Street, Still Life Fine Arts and Custom Framing:

For a bit of background, Ellicott City was built in a quaint and picturesque valley that some remark as reminding them of a little European town. It was founded back in the early 1700’s by the Ellicott Brothers as a mill town, attracted by the Patapsco River. On a normal summer day the rivers are no bigger than creeks. Its simply in the background while folks enjoy shopping and dining, smelling honeysuckle growing over the rocks, watching live music in the courtyard or catching up with friends at the local watering hole. But when it rains, the floodplain drains into these branches which run through Main Street, under buildings and roadways, daylighting here and there, until it flows into the Patapsco. And when it pours, everyone who knows the town keeps eyes on the water. I am ever grateful for our community. We are a tight group and we look out for one another. We rally when someone is in need, we celebrate the good things, and commiserate the bad. But when things get epic, we are unstoppable.

Just the night before the flood we were carefree. My friends Josh, Brian, and Cecilia.
My townie misfits. Wendy, Michele, Colin, and Kate, having fun during the clean up.

Many people have asked how to help. There are a few ways. One is to check with the Ellicott City Partnership at There you will currently find what is needed and where to donate.

Here are some more links for help and donations:

Help Ellicott City

Food And Drink Fundraisers

Volunteer Sign Up

On a personal level, my studio suffered some major flooding. I first became aware of the situation because of the commUNITY facebook page where I started seeing friends’ posts about the flash flood. I didnt think at first that my studio would be affected, but then I saw a post by a friend who is also a neighbor showing her front yard. The river that normally runs under her front yard WAS her front yard. I panicked thinking that my studio which is further upstream, and sits directly ABOVE the Tiber, may have sustained some damage. It did flood back in 2011 when Tropical Storm Isabelle came through but luckily I hadn’t moved in yet. I drove over hand had to sneak in the back way because all of the medical and emergency personnel had the road blocked. I walked up and around behind the hill then down to my shop. I noticed the black top had shifted and buckled and my neighbor across the street’s car was sitting nearly on her front porch. I said a prayer then opened my door.

I took this shot after pulling my paintings out if the water and laying them on the tables to dry.


The smell of paint hit me first, then I put on my phone flashlight and my heart sank. Paintings were floating, chairs were upside down, and as I walked down and in further I saw papers were all over the place, cans, bottles, equipment; all floating in a sea of brown, muddy, smelly water.  I quickly began grabbing my paintings, the ones that were for my show “Still Standing” and placed them on tables, I then walked around surveying the rest of my space, I was dumbfounded. No one predicted this!! I could do nothing more than go home and try to sleep before returning in the morning to face the most awful clean up I could imagine.







At the same time as I was discovering my studio, I found out later that friends were trapped in apartments by rising waters and cars blocking entrances. Howard County Fire and Rescue had to evacuate residents and visitors stranded by the torrent. I realized quickly that I was one of the relatively lucky ones. Two people were swept away and perished in the Patapsco, only to be found miles down the river.

The remnants of the Red Honda Element


My friends Kate and Aaron rent this house, their basement walls were ripped away.

We have been washing out and sorting through the contents of my studio to see what I have left. My insurance does not cover flood so I will have to rebuild from my own pockets. I did start a Go Fund Me page to help with repurchasing materials and covering bills while I’m out of commission.

Taken by my friend Wendy Appleby who came with her husband to help clean up.

And to top it off, yesterday I sliced my hand open carrying a flat file out to be sprayed off. I tripped on my own feet (not an uncommon thing) and I didn’t want to drop and potentially dent the drawer so it slid off my hand and onto the ground. Thank goodness for the EMT that was driving up the road in a gator, he wrapped me up and then dad took me to All Care for 8 stitches. Thank goodness it missed the tendon, but it was still pretty deep. Almost to the bone.


I am so thankful to live in such a loving and strong town. So many friends and neighbors came by to see if I was ok. Its devastating when something like this happens but its beautiful to witness how we rally around one another.

My landlord helping me out by hosing out my studio. Its nice to have landlords that own heavy equipment!

Here are some more photos taken by my friend Joe Pulone and Chris Winslow. Others were taken by 1304 Photography

The first responders were amazing, they came in and began helping people stuck in buildings, high in trees, and trapped in cars. Friends were rescued through second floor windows, some even having to punch through walls, others crawling out from under cars that blocked their doors. The clean up will continue for months and my hope is that people will continue to offer help and support long after the mud and debris has been cleared.