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.