Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RATTLE THAT CAGE ~ Merry F!*@ Christmas!

I know the title of this seems a little scary, but I promise you I am probably the most sappy hearted Christmas lover you have ever met!  Yes, I cry over every tender hearted word, song, gift.  In all honesty it is because I am so grateful for all of the love in my life and every opportunity I have ever been given.  However, I also know this is the time of year when most of us are contemplating what all we have done in the past year and what on earth we might want to do in the coming year.

For some reason us human beings are particularly good at building our own CAGES and then we are gifted with an incredible self pity and the ability to BLAME anyone and every circumstance for that cage so that we have an excuse to stay in it. The bars on our cage are made from various things, to name a few here: Procrastination, Fear, Low Self Esteem, Laziness and ROUTINE.  Sadly, the reason why many actually have low self esteem is because they are giving into procrastination, laziness and fear. They go hand in hand.  When you know in your mind's eye the person you really BELIEVE you are capable of being, but yet you are not progressing towards that....guess what the result is?  Yep, you guessed it depression and low self esteem. It's time to MAKE THAT BELIEF YOUR REALITY!

For many of us it seems the only time we are JOLTED, literally, into change is by some outside circumstance or crisis that wakes us up: i.e. a break up, divorce, loss of a job.  And for most of us we might work towards change for a little while, but then go right back to where we were before. Why is it sooooo hard to change? 

Well, I think #1, it's because our brains are so accustomed to our ROUTINE. 

Most of us tend to do the same things day in and day out and not really changing much. I think this actually becomes more the truth when you become a little COMFORTABLE....like that nice soft warm bed on a winters morning. You don't want to get out of it because you will be uncomfortable and cold- ha ha. Viscous cycle isn't it? You set a goal, you achieve it, you feel good about it, then you settle into it, relax and then boom all of the sudden your feeling sullen.  Why?  Because we always have to feel like we are growing (at least I do). It's kind of the difference between a beautiful rushing river and a stagnate swamp....and trust me the swamp....stinks. We are like the seasons, we have to go through a planting, a harvest, bountiful  indulgence, rest, hibernation and then planting again.

So I challenge you today to RATTLE THAT CAGE!!!!!  Do something different today to change up the way you see the world, the way you see yourself.  It could be anything from taking a walk, to signing up for those guitar or art lessons you keep talking about. DO IT NOW, NOW!  Do you know you only have 5 SECONDS to actually take action before the romance starts to fade. It's called DIMINISHING INTENT!

The #2 reason it is so hard to change (in my opinion) is lack of discipline.  NEWSFLASH!! You're not going to FEEL like doing it.  I don't like doing the dishes or laundry, never have, but my parents made me do it.....and well I don't like to smell stinking dishes and stinking laundry. So guess what, I DO IT.  Now the hard thing is when you have let yourself slip on your discipline, that muscle becomes weak and you have to start somewhere to build it back up.  This is where the APPLE A DAY philosophy can come in handy.

  First, find out what it is you need to work on. Could be your not eating as healthy as you would like. Start with eating AN APPLE A DAY! Perhaps, you need to work on your drawing but are always avoiding it. Start with ONE DRAWING A DAY!  Perhaps, you want to keep your home more in order. Start with, MAKING THE BED EVERY DAY! as soon as you wake up. 

 Set a time limit, like 10 minutes a day on drawing, 10 minutes a day entering those dreaded receipts into your budget.  Now here's the rub, most of us feel so PATHETIC  just doing a simple little task and we don't see how it can make much difference...and we also know that after a few days even doing this little task will prove hard. (ahh, ahh ahh- be careful here because your brain is full of bullshit and just trying to trick you to go back to the routine) But, I PROMISE YOU, you will feel sooooo much better if you do and you will build MOMENTUM that will lead to more positive changes in your life.  You will have more self esteem because you followed through and your discipline muscle will start to grow, which will in turn make you more excited about change and RATTLING your own cage at will.

And on a lighter note, ha ha ha, here are some cute little paintings I did for Christmas. These really got me into the Christmas mood and boy was it great just doing something for pure fun!  I think it's good to balance your really serious study with some lighthearted doodling fun.  Hope you enjoy.


MERRY CHRISTMAS & A Happy New Year! 

 Remember to visit my website: www.kellifolsom.com to view more paintings or to sign up for emails on classes.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stew is Good for You

Mmmmm...this makes me hungry.  Okay, okay, I'm not talking about stew for your body. I'm talking about stew for your mind, your creativity.  Just as the right ingredients and the right amount of time  are needed to make a good stew, the same is true for a good artist.  Have you ever had that one painting that just seemed to happen magically and it possessed a certain something that all the other work you did that week, month or even year did not?

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying: "Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration." 

I would say also that probably 10% of what you create is really outstanding from the rest of the 90%. Disappointed?  Well, sorry to break the bad(?) news to you....but that's the way it is. For every painting you see hung nicely on a gallery wall or entered into a show, there are 9 more that just weren't as spectacular.  But if you accept that this may be the nature of reality, then you can look forward to doing those 9 paintings/drawings to get to that 1. The book Art and Fear (which I recommend) gives a fine example on this. Basically, they took a group of college pottery students and split them in half. The one half  were told they would be graded on the perfection of one pot, the second half were told they would be graded on how many pots they created.  In the end, it was the second half that had created some of the most beautiful pots more so than the first half who were concentrated on perfecting the one. 

Now in the beginning,  that gap between 1 & 10 is far more noticeable.  You may think everything looks like total shite and one looks a much better than shite! At least this is how it was for me in art school, especially the first year. The good news: as you progress and you continue to make these shite paintings.... painting after painting, tear after tear, broken paintbrush after broken paintbrush, you pass what I call "the dud stage".  At this point for me, after 7 years of painting after painting it's not that any one painting is really shite anymore. They are all reasonably good, but the stakes keep getting raised. What may have been my best painting 2 years ago, I now see how I could improve upon it or how much I have progressed since then....but overall there is a quality present that should hold up now matter how much you progress technically.

Here are examples of some of my BEST work from the END of the 1st year and I think even into the middle of my 2nd year. (I couldn't actually find any photos of beginning of 1st year)

This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace to extract the silver from the dross. This testing purifies the gold by boiling the scum away.- Rumi

My stew started with art school which really turned the heat on and made me BOIL!  The painful fast chopping up of drawing, painting, sculpting, critiquing, grading, rejection...CHOP CHOP CHOP. I felt like I had been through art boot camp after the first semester and I felt like a big lump of tenderized meat- overly sensitive & sore!  Like someone just beat the shit out of me so I could soak up all the flavors in the stew.   The next 3 years was really an intensive boiling that included a lot of bad art making,  self doubt, constant comparison, persistent attempts, successes and failures.  In the end, I came out  ready to simmer for the long haul.  I had finally gotten to the point where I could make work that was reasonably good....acceptable with small raw glimmers of my own voice/spirit in it.

Works from my 4th year:

The technical leaps in the beginning will most likely be very noticeable, you feel like you're improving at a rapid rate. In this case from year 1 to year 4...then another hard stage comes when the technical improvement seems to level off or you hit a plateau. This can be very frustrating and takes a lot of patient working and acceptance of the slower fine-tuning and maturity.

I would say if you are starting your quest to become an artist, this initial intense learning period is a must if you really want to be successful.  I'm not saying you have to go to an art school, there is definitely pros and cons to that.  I am saying you have to force yourself (which is why art school is handy because you feel forced externally to show up) to make a commitment and also to get outside instruction/mentorship as much as possible.  You are only going to get back what you put in.  So if you are doing 1 workshop a year and painting 10 hours a week, I feel it is going to be a much slower development. Of course, if this is all you can do then it's all you can do. There are so many options available: books, dvds, online courses, getting critiques by email from artists.

  So often, however I feel people have unrealistic expectations and don't really understand the work it takes to do this. Perfect Segway to yet another Edison quote:

 “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

I have been working for about 7 years now from my first entry into art school and I am just now getting to the point where I feel I'm starting to understand some things. However, I know that I'm really just beginning and I look forward to the next 60 years of honing my craft (as you can see I'm highly optimistic....I plan to be painting when I'm 95!)


I wanted to give you a list of (a few) books in my library that were  my staples in the early days and some I still go to on a regular basis:

  • Art & Fear: Observations of the Perils & Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles
  • Toxic Criticism: Eric Maisel
  • Mastery: Robert Greene
  • An Artist Teaches: David Leffel
  • Problem Solving for Oil Painters: Gregg Kreutz
  • Oil Painting Secrets from a Master: Cateura (David Leffel)
  • Harold Speed: Practice & Science of Drawing; Oil Painting Techniques & Materials

Wednesday, September 24, 2014



"Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." - W. Clement Stone

So many times I find myself fluctuating between I can do it and I can't do it! Sometimes I can feel like a crazy person if I ride this roller coaster to much.  One thing I have learned over the last 7 years since starting this art journey is that I can't always believe my thoughts and emotions.

As Shakespeare said, " Our doubts are our traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt." I love how Michael Jordan put it, "Limits, like fear, is often an illusion".

It is amazing how many limitations we put on ourselves, sometimes even unconsciously. One day about a year ago, while sitting down contemplating and writing I realized that I was okay allowing myself to achieve a certain amount of success artistically, but that I really didn't believe I could be as great as The Greats.  It's just impossible, I hold these people up as gods, they had more this or more that than me, they were geniuses!  "I know myself, and I am certainly no genius" I thought.

 Even looking at some of the contemporary greats who come no where near (in my mind) to the old greats like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, PP Rubens, Rembrandt or Sargent, I realized that I was not even allowing my mind to contemplate that I could achieve that amount of success like David Leffel, George Carlson, Richard Schmid and numerous others.  I had unconsciously relegated myself to the mediocre, the lower tier. I am a D list artist, not an A list and unconsciously I was settling for that. After all, I thought, I am grateful to even be that because when I first started I knew nothing and was never the most talented in the classroom.

 Perhaps, I had grown so accustomed to mediocrity in my life- okay with accomplishing a little bit, but never really the best.  I was always scared of being the best.  I didn't want the spotlight on me, but I wanted to be better than the majority of my peers.  There were several instances I can remember when that spotlight was put on me, that I would somehow back out, pretend to be sick, and pull back on how hard I would try so that the person who chose me would doubt their decision and give the position to someone else.

So you can imagine the madness that many of us put ourselves through, "Oh I want to be inspiring and achieve so much and give so much to the world!....Oh wait, I'm not good enough. Who am I?  I can't be like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Einstein or Benjamin Franklin."  Just think, though, all that time you are wasting doubting, in self pity, not trying you could have already been 10 steps closer to your dream.

I think this quote by Marianne Williamson illustrates it perfectly, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. "

You do matter!  You are not ordinary! 

I don't know why art matters, but I know it does.  I have already seen over the last few years how I do matter. My work, my sincerity does matter and it has affected others in ways that I cannot understand.

I believe our biggest obstacle to overcome is ourselves, OUR SELF IMAGE. (I suggest reading the poem Equipment by Edgar Guest)

George Carlson

Our second biggest obstacle is to take DAILY ACTION in the direction of our goals and dreams.
This is the hard part. It's HARD. Once you get momentum going though, your confidence, zeal and dedication will grow. The main thing is to be CONSISTENT. Even if you can only practice for 20 minutes, do that every day. Trust me, it will become addictive. The goal seems so far beyond us at times, but you must always plan and take action first.  What you are doing now to achieve your goal may adapt and change over the years, but you must begin somewhere.  It is way to easy to talk about what you want to do and SO much harder to actually do it!  None of us really admire people who take the path of least resistance and do the easiest things. No, we admire those who fought, struggled, disciplined themselves and worked every day on their craft to perfection. No effective change would ever take place without these people.

My action:
5 days a week I paint or draw. No matter what other duties I have to do (shipping paintings,photographing, marketing,etc.)  I try and spend at least 50% of my 8 hour day doing this.
1 day a week I teach (some weeks I teach more)
1 day a week I take off for rest
David Leffel
Every day I: 
  • Sit in silence, meditate for at least 15 minutes before working.
  • Study others work
  • Visualize myself being great!  I find this very helpful.  I really try to envision myself living my greatest adventures, painting my greatest masterpieces, loving my greatest love.
  • Contemplate my character.  I think, If I died today would I be the person I wanted to be. (I know weird) Was I loving to others? Did I give back more than I got? Did I try my best?
  • Try to do all things with the same attention and sincerity, even if it's folding the laundry. I realize now that how you do one thing is how you do everything. So I take even the most mundane tasks more seriously now and try and approach them with excellence and full attention.
  • I am far from perfect and to contemplate being so can be overwhelming, so I always think to myself how can I do just 1% better today than yesterday.
  • Don't Rush.
"Be faithful in the small things because it is in them that your strength lies." -Mother Teresa

Kelli Folsom

Monday, September 8, 2014

2014 Show Paintings

Wow, so much has happened since I have last written a post. Yikes! Well I wrapped up the sunrises in June and had a successful showing of them at my gallery here in Oklahoma City.  There were only a few remaining on the walls afterwards. I have to say that I was shocked by the welcome they received as well as my other landscapes that I had ventured to do during that time. 
Since then, the weather of course became unbearably hot which forced me back indoors to work on still life again.  I must say that I actually enjoy being an artist that can change what I am working on as the seasons change too, it seems like a very natural process. 
I've also enjoyed having my work this summer in some pretty great shows like Oil Painters of America's National & Western Regional Exhibition, Salon International, The Laumeister Fine Art Competition, Hudson River Valley Art Association which is coming up this month at the Salmagundi Club  and last but not least the American Women Artists show where my painting, "Little Red" actually received an Award of Excellence from American Art Collector.

 There is so much I could talk about since I am so backed up, so I will start with these paintings and shows.  It sort of seems like tooting your own horn, but I think it's important that we pay attention to the rewards of hard work since when you're doing the work it seems as though no one will ever see it! That's really what counts is doing the work when no one else is looking, liking, commenting, buying, awarding, etc. 
"Salt Glazed Jugs, Apples and Onions", 18"x18", oil on panel
Oil Painters of America Western Regional
This is one of the painting that I completed after seeing the Sorolla Exhibit in Dallas this late winter. I have to say if you have not seen it, you must! It will knock your socks off.  I was blown away by his capacity, grit, strength, rock solid drawing foundation and phenomenal use of color. You could just tell this man LOVED to paint.  I left that show totally invigorated but also feeling like, "Man! get real- we are such whiney-babies!" This artist kicks all of our asses, I can only hope to have an ounce of his passion. So this was my western-style Sorolla inspired chiaroscuro still life.  I was also looking at a lot of Fechin at the time and Cyrsus Afsary's still lifes were an influence too. Again two other artists who can just (fill in obscenity here) paint!

"Farmhouse Eggs & Crockery" - 14"x14" - oil on panel
Oil Painters of America National - Bennington Center for the Arts
Will be included in upcoming Small Works, Great Wonders Exhibition at The National Cowboy Museum here in OKC.
I started this one as a set up in a class I was teaching (almost a year ago) and enjoyed it so much I set it up when I got back to the studio to finish it.  This was one that just came together for me with relative ease and I remember just feeling like I had such clarity on how I wanted the light to flow through the space.

"Brass on White" - 18"x18" - oil on panel
Exhibited at Salon International at the Greenhouse Gallery in San Antonio, TX and to be exhibited at the Salmagundi Club this month in the Hudson River Valley National Exhibition
As you can see I was in a square stage for a while!!!!! From about January to May of this year I did a 5"x7" still life every morning right after I got up and had a cup of coffee, usually around 6 - 6:30 a.m. I felt I was kind of stuck at the time, not painting much during the holidays and I guess you could say it was a new years resolution sort of thing.  I thought what better way to start the day than with a small study.  I am a firm believer in doing lots of small studies and doing a large quantity of them. They've always informed my work, I feel freer and able to try out ideas that I wouldn't normally, color combos, and paint experimentation.  The first time I did this was my last year at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in 2011. I did 20 small studies and two of the last ones I did I turned into larger pieces and both went on to get into larger shows and win awards. So for me it's been sort of a proven method of getting through the 90% mediocre to the 10% inspired. This painting developed from one of these studies.  I was just struck by the simplicity of the set up and it had a certain something that I found interesting.

"Ginger and Lanterns" - 12"x16" oil on linen 
Laumeister Fine Art Competition    
I guess you could say, here I  went back to my "roots" on this one with my influences of David Leffel and Greg Kreutz- which are always there.  I am always amazed at how David, especially, can take such simple subject matter and turn it into something magical and mystically beautiful.  There is such a deep intimacy to his work that always moves me.  I have been studying David's work, books, DVDs for the last 7 years and I have always responded to his philosophy of art making. He gave me a very helpful critique on the painting above, Brass on White.  Because I chose to go to get a degree in art and spent...well borrowed....way too much money to do so, I could not afford to take a workshop with him. I am hoping this will be the year. Until then, if you haven't checked out their Bright Light Fine Art Guild Library- you are missing out! And it's very generously priced at $50 for the year for probably 2 dozen online videos.

"Little Red" - 12"x16" - oil on linen
American Women Artists- Award of Excellence from American Art Collector.
This is a post- Sorolla- born again- painting- ha ha.  However, I have to say that I was actually trying with all my might to set up another arrangement and it just wasn't working. I was so frustrated and this had been going on for a couple of hours. It's moments like that you think, Oh my God why am I even bothering- why can't I do this?!!?? and obscenities later....I look up at the top shelf and here was all of these discards that I put up there. Eureka! Some unseen grace had arranged this (with very minimal tweaking). The light on it was so amazing, I couldn't get the paint out fast enough and was terrified I wouldn't be able to "see" it anymore.  These moments are rare. I worked on it the first day and while I thought it was a good painting, I knew it wasn't what it could be.  So the next day, terrified, I turned it upside down and started attacking the background with a different color and laying the paint on thick with  a palette knife. At the end of the day I was so glad that I took the risk and then could accept it as the best I could do at that time. I don't always do this, but I do feel as an artist you have to be somewhat brutal with yourself-because nobody is going to stand over you and tell you how to do it better. And every time you don't push yourself further, someone else is and your left behind in mediocrity. We all think we have a certain threshold, but if we are honest we can push just on inch further that day.
Thank you for reading and I hope it was of some use to you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

30 Sunrises in 30 Days



This has been a great week of sunrise paintings & life.  I have been incredibly overwhelmed by the support and gratitude that I have received from making these little guys.  I feel like I have been learning so much in many areas from doing these paintings.
 I really cannot believe how the time is flying....although I am not perfect and have had some mornings when it was really tough to get up and out there.  I've tried to not think of the end of the 30 days, that just seemed like a do-able commitment for me.  Enough to push me, give me a consistent practice but not overwhelm me and make me feel like a failure.  However, I do plan to celebrate on day 30 with a mimosa!!! 
 I don't think I will ever live the same way again after doing this. It has really opened me up and I have found renewed interest and beauty in all things and people.  I have found myself becoming more and more inquisitive, experimental and accepting.  I think the death of us artists is when we think we've got it all figured out....or when we get comfortable. 

Sunrise #14
Here is a short video of the painting of Sunrise #14: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152447855167458&set=vb.507132457&type=2&theater


Sunrise #15

Sunrise #16

Sunrise #17

Sunrise #18

Sunrise #19

Sunrise #20
Frequently Asked Questions: 
  • What time do you have to get up?  Sunrise is about 6:25 a.m. so between 5:30 - 6 a.m.
  • Where do you paint?  I live in an apartment on the edge of OKC so I drive about 10-20 minutes outside of the city to find some rural farm/ranch lands to paint. Usually the sunrise is much prettier out there too.
  • How long does it take you to do these?  The 5x7's  take me about 30-45 minutes. The 8x10's or double 5x7 like above about an hour or 1hr15min.
  • Do you touch them up once you get home?  Noooo
  • What materials do you use?  I use Speedball Gessoboards (cheap), Windsor & Newton oils, Maroger, Synthetic Flats & palette knife
  • Do you paint in your car?  Why yes, yes I do. Sometimes not.  My Sienna Pochade allows me to paint anywhere. I have had police officers and garbage men stop to ask me if I am broke down. They just look confused when I tell them I'm painting.
  • What colors do you use?  Right now I'm playing with Windsor lemon, quinacridone magenta, ultramarine, brown oxide and payne's grey.  Generally 3 primaries, a warm earth and a grayish color.
  • What are you planning to do with all of these? Well there was really no plan in the beginning....maybe that's bad business on my side.  Some of these have found homes already.  I may try painting a few of my favorites larger to see if I can expand on the initial sketch. Some have suggested I make a little book with all of them and the rumi poetry....so that's an idea.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

30 Sunrises in 30 Days

In Search of Essence:

My experience this week with my sunrise paintings has been quite joy filled and enlightening. It is a strange feeling when you are doing something, yet you are so thankful to be doing it that you are really not aware that you are doing it.  "Say what?"  Kelli you need to stop inhaling so many paint fumes! 

 I'll leave the expression of this idea to Nietzsche, 
"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude." 

This is where it should begin my friends. Believe me when I tell you that the whole world will open up to you, you will see everything as if for the first time, you will paint as if you have never painted before. Whatever complacency I was feeling, whatever I was taking for granted over the last few months is gone. It has reinvigorated my whole life and everything has become new again. This feels soooo good that I don't even care what the painting looks like when it's complete.  I don't care who likes it, who buys it, what it gets me. The reward is in the experience for me.  FREEDOM!!!  (I know I will become unbearable to be around now- ha ha)

Having gone to art school, I too, have had the fundamentals hammered home: judging values, color mixing, color theory, composition, etc.  And of course we have to understand the tools in which we need to communicate visually and I am grateful for the skill set I have been able to develop over the last 6 years.  However, I feel that sometimes the ART can get lost if this is all you are focusing on.  The Magic can get lost somewhere in the shuffle...at least it has happened to me time and time again.  So I believe #1 priority even if your just doing a sketch is Essence. 

Essence:  the attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity. Or the is-ness of something.

I noticed this week when I would go out to paint these sunsets, knowing that I had very little time before things would change that I would just observe- soak up the scene- for a few minutes, ignoring the anxious feeling of time passing and the possibility for it to change and never come back.  I realized that I was just being open and trying to feel what I was seeing. Rather than just busting out the paints and going for it in a mad dash, I needed to get the feeling and have it clear what it was that I wanted to capture.  Is it slow, calm and peaceful? Is it fleeting, swooshing, and bold?  Is it heavenly illumination?  Now how do I communicate that with the color, values, brushstrokes?  Below are my attempts at capturing the essence from this week. 

Thank you so much for reading, looking, encouraging and supporting me.

Have a great-essence filled- week!
Kelli Folsom

Sunrise #7

Sunrise #8
Sunrise #9

Sunrise #10

Photo of the glorious scene!

My Sienna Pochade :) I love it! 

Sunrise #11

Sunrise #12
Sunrise #13
*** On the technical side of things, I have learned a lot about grays this week and how they can help the saturated colors look much more brilliant.  My favorite gray mixes are burnt umber/ultramarine/magenta/white.  If you want the yellow to stand out more, make it a de-saturated violet gray. Orange is your bright, a blue-gray will work nicely.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

30 Sunrises in 30 Days

A couple of weeks ago I discoved that  I would make it to the balcony of my apartment coffee in hand to see an amazing sky, birds chirping and a nice cool spring breeze blowing on my skin. No one quite up yet in this sprawl yet congested city and I realized this is really an important moment and I am missing it. At the same time I kept talking about getting up and painting the sun rising behind this Greek Orthodox Temple (pictured in the previous blog) that I drive by almost everyday....you know how that goes, talking about doing something and never actually doing it.  So the two ideas mingled and I finally did it and you know what....it was great!!!  What refreshing peace and joy came over me actually witnessing this event with only the birds to keep me company and I get to experience it by doing my favorite thing- painting.  I felt like I had been given nature's greatest gifts and it's free if I will only get out of bed and witness it.  

So I am doing this challenge for myself, 30 sunrises in 30 days - nothing forced, no ulterior motives.....just inner peace, feeling good, gratitude that fills my heart for the rest of the day, light and expanded.  Whatever comes from this practice comes, I have no expectations...just open to receive every morning.  I just show up and push some paint around trying to capture the beautiful moment before me.

This poem from Rumi serendipitously showed up the day before I did the first sunrise painting.  "The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep" 

I will blogging about my experiences with the practice here once a week.  I hope they are of some use and inspiration to you.  Please feel free to comment, share or purchase :) 

All the Best, Kelli Folsom


Sunrise 1


I found this spot driving around on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. Usually what determines my spot is how late did I get up and how much time do I have left before the sun starts peeking over the horizon.  Sometimes, I will get shots of the actual location like this one.  Palette: Cad Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue, Cad Scarlet, Raw Umber & Flemish White.

Sunrise 1
Oil on Panel


Sunrise 2

Here is the second sunrise completed. This one was a little baby one as I had to go teach a class later on that morning.  The sky was particularly amazing and so I wanted to focus mostly on capturing that and just suggest the large shapes of the ground plane.  Palette:  Cad Lemon, Cad Red Light, Prussian Blue, Black, Flemish White.
Sunrise 2
Oil on Panel

Sunrise 3

So, this is not a sunrise and technically I'm not counting it- ha ha.  When I got to the spot, while getting my things out of the car I looked to the west and well the colors were so much more interesting so I wound up painting this .... moon set instead of a sunrise.  The nuance of color in the scene was so spectacular I couldn't help but paint it instead. Palette:  Cad yellow light, Cad scarlet, alizarin crimson, ultramarine, raw umber, Flemish white.
9" x 12"
Oil on Panel


Sunrise 4

Mostly clouds on this morning, but with the most vivid bursts of yellow-orange light you've ever seen.  I love the backlighting of this jumbling mass of brush and tree in front of the sky.  I think I will try this scene another morning as I think there is more to discover here.  Palette: Cad yellow light, cad scarlet, Windsor blue, burnt umber, Flemish white.
Sunrise 4
9"x 12"
Oil on Panel


Sunrise 5 & 6


 These are my favorite's so far!  The sky was so great this morning and so was this rural farmland I found to pull over at.  I actually painted the second one first. I was in such a frenzy to try to capture all of the great colors and movement in the sky before it went away. I loved the moment when the sun peeked from behind that cloud in an intense yellow orange- So beautiful.  So this was the same scene and after analyzing my first composition and how the sky had mellowed a little bit as the sun rose higher, I decided to skootch the bigger trees over to the right and simplify the ground plane. I love the activity of the bottom painting, but also the quieter approach of the top.  Palette: Cad yellow light, cad scarlet, Windsor blue, burnt umber, Flemish white.

Sunrises 5 & 6
Oil on Panel


Speedball Gessoboard
Synthetic Flats- the biggest sizes I can use
Windsor & Newton Paints ( I generally always use a limited primary palette with an umber or black and white)
Medium: Old Masters Maroger
Sienna Pochade 
Viva, Trash bag & Folgers Coffee :)

You can visit my website www.kellifolsom.com to view gallery work or to sign up for updates about classes & workshops.