Monday, December 28, 2015

New Year, New Committment

About 8 years ago I decided to make my dream come true to become an artist. I don't know that it was a dream or just a necessity. Anyhow, I had to do it.  I realize how fortunate I am to be able to be an artist full time, especially as a single woman without additional support. Did I say fortunate....sometimes I am actually shocked and don't know how everything lined up for it to happen. So many things could have gone wrong - - - but they didn't.  I am so grateful to live in a country with the freedom to chase your dreams. I still believe in the American dream that you can make it happen....but I also know for every one of me there may be 5 others who keep trying and haven't "made it" YET. 

With that being said, just because we have the freedom to chase the dream does not mean that the dream will be free - ha ha.  I'm sure there are a number of ways I could have chosen to pursue my goal, but 8 years ago the only thing I knew to do was go to an art college and get a degree in studio art. This left me with close to $100,000 in student loan debt. Yikes is right.....I've tried not to think about it and just keep painting!

I am coming up on 4 years out of art school and I have been able to make a living selling my work. I started off living bare bones, renting rooms out of strangers houses for cheap rent. When I moved back to Oklahoma, I lived in a cheap 1 bedroom apartment that I painted out of for 2 years. This was not the bottom of the barrel, but I'm not going to lie and say that it wasn't a depressing place to live. I was so stressed out those first few months, terrified at the thought that I might have to get a job that would take me away from painting.  Still, the situation was not exactly leaving me dancing in the meadow with joy at the prospect of not being able to pay the rent one month. Whether it was hard work, skill, hustle, good fortune, destiny or a combination of all,  but thankfully that never happened.

Last year I was actually able to upgrade to a nicer place to live with a bigger studio (which is still the living room) and better light. I was even able to save some money as a safety net for the future. I was even able to go to a couple of workshops this year to try and improve my paintings again. I am thrilled to say the least with my progress and so grateful for the prosperity. 2015 was one of the happiest years of my life. But the debt is a $500+ a month burden (that's even income based payments) and I want to start chopping away at it so I can have a better future that might even include owning a home and studio!

My goal for 2016 is to chip away at that student loan debt! I have always done stretches of daily painting sketches, but this year my goal is to do one every single day.
  • A daily 60 minute sketch. 
  • They will cover all genres and different mediums over the course of the year. 
  • They will start at $50 on auction with free shipping in U.S.
  • I will post about them here every week and also keep you informed of my larger gallery work. 

They will be available for sale and my goal this year is to be able to apply $15,000 dollars to my student loans.

Here are some of my first daily sketches (getting a jumpstart on the new year!)
"Friendly Yellows" - 6"x6" - oil on panel - 60 minute sketch

Chinese Jar against Red - 6"x6" - oil on panel - 60 minute sketch

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"It's You Against You"

Some of you may know that I recently took a workshop with David Leffel and Sherrie McGraw last month in the very lovely Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It was  a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I was unbearably giddy at the sight of costumed models, a room full of people hungry to paint and waiting on bated breath for the words of wisdom that would come from the instructors. 

David Leffel always has these little sayings, what he calls mantras, and I would agree with the term mantra because they are meant to make you think - to get you to ponder....and if you do ponder and you let it, these innocent little mantras seep into your mind and take up residence carving pathways each day until you come to understand new layers of its meaning.

It's always so funny to me that one or two of these little sayings for our art zen master ;) will just keep creeping up all the time. It's as if the universe won't leave me alone about it! So lately it's "It's you against you" that is haunting me continuously.  Now mind you, when he said it to me, I was really frustrated at the time with my painting and I although I adore this sweet little man who just wanted to help, I was gritting my teeth thinking, "How bout it's me against you! Let's go! I've had it! I'm sick of this freaking painting!!!!! Aaaarrrggghhhh".  But of course I couldn't say that, I had to smile and pretend to not be on the verge of a major hissy fit, so that the great David Leffel would see how mature and open I am! Ha Ha.  Of course going to this class gave me, once again, a great renewed compassion for my students.

I don't know if anyone else out there is like me in that you get to this breaking point of frustration and you just want to scream, cry, punch something, or maybe Frisbee your drawing board across the beach and curse (obviously this is something I've done!) and certainly anyone who tries to give you kind words of wisdom at this moment is not welcome!!! Ha Ha. I don't care who they are. You are past the point of all reason my friend. Honestly when I threw my drawing board across the beach and boldly proclaimed that I was , "Sick of this shit! I give up!" , I felt such a huge relief from the frustration. I realized that I had forgotten that I was NOT alone when I looked over and saw my boyfriend smiling and I just started dying laughing. In fact it still makes me smile. So it's not all bad! Although the emotion is definitely unpleasant, sometimes the heat of conflict can bring healing and resolution.

However, here is the dangerous part....and that is getting so frustrated that you quit maybe for a day, two days, a week....or a year.  Steven Pressfield ( author of War of Art and Do the Work) refers to my above examples as RESISTANCE. 

I recently had yet another experience with good ole' resistance where I experienced the above torture in a portrait painting session. I was at the depths of despair, total frustration, ripping myself apart for feeling so irritated......and then not 1 hour later after I got the painting home I thought, "Hey, wow this isn't so fact I think this is the best portrait I have ever done!".  WOW!!! Yes I felt really OFF balance- to say the least.  In my opinion when you are having that much of an emotional roller coaster over a piece of artwork, it's just doesn't ring true.  When both emotions are on opposite ends of the spectrum like that, the real truth is somewhere in the middle. Both are FANTASIES. One is the " I'm a horrible artist and I never get any better" fantasy and the other is "this painting just made me an artistic genius" fantasy. Sweet but boring reality is waiting for you to join it somewhere in the middle.

So my sweet friends, if you too have struggled with these issues I encourage you to have patience with yourself.  Learning to paint is simply not glamorous. I'm sorry, it just isn't. Fulfilling-Yes. Glamorous-No. It's painting with patience every day....every day.....every day....did I say every day....oh yeah...every day. You build your legacy every day, one painting at a time. Sadly, we only tend to notice artists once they have been doing this for 10 or 20 solid years. We don't see their laborious toil and daily monotonous tending of their garden.  So when you are caught up the heat of frustration, take a deep breath and say "I don't like this, or this hurts."  It's a psychological trick to get out of your emotional reaction.  The moment and the pain (resistance) will pass and you will still be painting again in 10 minutes, an hour or tomorrow. 

Some of my recent paintings:

Copper, Oranges and French Blue - 24"x20" - oil on linen
Tea and Gold Pears - 11x14" -oil on panel - $1300

"Ode to a Pear" - 9x12" - oil on panel - $1100
Both above paintings are available at

Self portrait with Pearl Necklace - 6"x6" - oil on panel - $400

Friday, November 13, 2015


I am fortunate that at various shows and workshops I receive the compliment on how good my work is.  (In fact, I have become somewhat of a compliment junkie)  For some reason the last time I received this compliment I was struck immediately with the thought, "I have no excuse not to be good."  The reason being that it is simply common sense that the more you practice the better you get.  I mean weren't we all taught this as children? I can still hear the voice in my head from various adults as a child saying, "practice makes perfect".  So why, is it is so hard to accept it as an adult now? When I tell people, well I've been painting the equivalent of a full time job for 8 years so I better be pretty good, they look at me with disbelief.  I don't know every one's story and I know that a lot of the time we tend to idealize people into this rare ball of talent that we possibly cannot attain and will never be........that somehow they were just blessed with this and they were magically picked by fate to succeed. I am all for magic, mystery, fate and the unknown and I know we are all born with different abilities and talents that I think are predetermined by whatever cause you want to call it........but I also know is that if you spend over 16,000 hours (that's 40 hours a week for 8 years) working on a skillset, you are bound to get better! I'm sure you are familiar with the 10,000 hour mastery theory? Now, I would not call myself a master of course but I've put in 1 1/2 times that amount so I better be pretty darn good.

The problem I think often is that people are not putting in consistent chunks of time to get good at what they do.  You have to be honest with yourself. How many real hours are clocking in with painting?  Because that's where it counts.  Don't confuse artistic activities like straightening up the studio, ordering supplies, facebooking, looking at references, watching art tutorials, reading blogs, toning canvases (well I think you get the point) as CREATING ART!

And yeah, it sucks. I know it sucks.  I wish it came easier. I wish I could be spectacular without all the effort!  ;)  It's hard stepping up to that easel every day and painting. Sometimes it even feels like it gets harder and harder, but there is no way around it, I've got to actually CREATE in order to create.  So I think the 2 top qualities for an artist to develop are COURAGE and HONESTY. 

It takes courage for me to create and frankly half the time I trick myself into it by saying well I don't give a shit how this turns out, so I don't chicken out.  The second thing that is difficult is to be honest. I know when I need to try setting something up for the 10th time and I know when I didn't give it my all and when I was fearful or lazy in a painting, where I didn't take the risk. All of this courage and honesty is alone what will make the paintings better.  I wanted to share some thoughts on this because sometimes I think it's too easy to think that artists who put out a lot of work, or who seem so confident while they are painting don't experience fear. 

So I encourage you today to have the COURAGE to create.

Some of my favorite books related to this topic:

The Courage to Create by Rollo May :

War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:

Some paintings I've recently completed.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Food for Thought Friday

I thought I would share an experience I had in my last year at art school, 2011.  We had to submit artwork for our big senior exhibition. This was sort of seen as the culmination of all you learned....or didn't learn of the previous 4 years. So yeah, there was some pressure.  Beyond the fact that I knew none of the instructors were going to like my work regardless, I wanted to do my best. I also knew that this meant that time was running out and I would have to find a way to pay my bills after graduation. I hoped this would be by painting. So the pressure was really turned up. Although I had worked very hard for 3 years,   I started to get frustrated by the time that I was putting into 1 painting with failed results.

One day I was contemplating a solution to this problem. I asked myself, "How can I go through all the steps that go into finishing a painting faster?".  The answer at the time was by cutting the canvas size I could cut the painting time.  So I grabbed a 20x24" panel and roughly gridded out several small rectangles. 

At the time, I really thought my compositions were the major weakness so that was my focus.  Setting a timer of 2 hours- I would set up a still life, paint it and go to the next.  I didn't analyze each painting after they were completed. I just went to the next one.  After a couple of days of doing this, I had this whole panel of little still lifes.  I was really excited because I could see that after the repetition I was changing things up, getting more free, more creative,  thinking more in visual terms. 

There were 2 paintings in particular that I felt really had something.  So those 2 I decided to try on a larger panel.  I found that the paintings were far easier for me to complete after having done the study.  And when I added up the time I would have given to all the more blah compositions, I saved a good 80 hours! 

These two paintings turned out really well for my technical capabilities at the time and they both went on to be in shows and both won awards and sold.  So the 12 hours I invested in the studies saved me 80 hours of frustrating and painful painting and led to profitable pieces.  Now the rest of the mini studies had a charm all on there own and I wound up cutting them out of the panel and selling most of them....and some of course were Christmas gifts for friends and family.  I learned other things from this approach I took, but I will share that at another time.

I hope that you will listen to that voice inside of you that says, there's got to be a better way and I hope it is as successful for you.  (Or you can take this idea!)  Good Luck.

Panel with some of the paintings midway through, in 2011 (looks like there were 16 in all):


There were 2 that were most interesting to me and I enlarged them to 16"x20" and 24"x20"
Tangerines and Pewter - oil on panel - 2011

Metal, Glass and Onions -oil on panel - 2011

Friday, September 25, 2015

Food for Thought Friday


Who can put a price on a painting?  Well we have to do it, but sometimes the price can bring with it some psychological hang ups.

Have you ever had that feeling of let down when you get your 50% commission check for a painting and you feel like a deflated balloon. You think, "Wow. I should have gotten more for that painting." or vice versa, "Man I really got paid too much for that one. It was so easy."

THE PROBLEM is we can remember how much or how little time, effort and struggle we put into that painting and perhaps we are left feeling that the compensation is disproportionate to our efforts.  I know for myself there have been times that I have put in 2 days work on a miniature 6"x8" that I will receive $200 for and I put in the same amount of time for a 16"x20"  that will yield 5 times that amount.

HARD TRUTH:  People don't care about how long it took you, how hard you worked, the stumbling blocks, that it was a breakthrough painting for you or that you got up at 5:00 in the morning to paint that painting, yadda yadda yadda yadda. ( I know - ouch) There just wishing you would shut up.  What they care about is the RESULTS!  So it really doesn't matter how little or how long it took you, if they LOVE the painting they are going to buy it. Why do you want to put your story onto them? Why not leave them with anything else than pure love?

Sometimes your price tag on a painting can limit how much sincerity and effort you might put in. You may be working on a miniature and your thinking of that check that's going to come in for it....and you may pull back.  You might think it's not logical for me to put 4 more hours into this painting (even though it's not working yet), I'm going to make minimum wage at the rate this is going!  Ha Ha.  I'm speaking from personal experience here. 

Again, here's the HARD TRUTH:  You're not being paid by the hour, your being paid by the value that you are creating for others.

If you're like me and you are still trying to shed the old middle class, paid by the hour, money mentality you were trained to have and you want to step away from the large majority and aim for EXCELLENCE  then I have a little trick you can use to psych yourself out. Are you ready? Are you ready?  Are you sure your ready?  (Okay sorry, trying to insert a little drama into this) it is......PAINT UP!

PAINT UP- it means pretend like you are going to get paid double what you are going to be paid. I do it all the time and it really pushes me to dig deeper and put in all the time that is needed for that painting to be as excellent as it should be. (No not always - I'm not perfect....yet).  Because here is another HARD TRUTH (can you tell I like hard truths) - if you don't do this you will actually limit your future compensation, you will imprison yourself in a price tag.  So if you want to move up in your price tag, you've got to move up mentally and give the customer more VALUE then and only then will the opportunity come that you can actually receive more $$$ for what you have made. 

Now it's time to "Shut up and paint".

Here are two paintings that I put the same amount of time into (8-10hours) and both sold for very different price tags:

"Terracotta, Cotton and Corn" - 16"x20" -oil on linen - $2400

"Orange Pieces with White Blossom" - 6"x8" - oil on panel - $450

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Your Life's Work is the Reward

For about 4 years now, I have been showing and selling work.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I've been a bit of an overachiever in a lot of ways. I've always enjoyed recognition, getting better at something, impressing Mom with my good grades.....searching for love through performance.

I chose art as my path because I genuinely loved expressing myself in this format and the learning process.  However, once I got to art school I was surrounded by sooooo many others who were far better than I was  and others who I thought weren't better than me, but were getting those "undeserved" (chuckle) grades and adulations.  I started bouncing around going from seeking validation (through recognition) to constant comparison with others and how I measure up. Now in my mid 30s I am realizing that inferiority and superiority are symptoms of the same problem.  I simply want to be in love with what I am doing and proud that I did the very best I could, having integrity.

Every part of doing the work is the reward.  A ribbon is very nice and it says to me, "Hey, someone noticed." The painting on the wall is just a fraction of what I, and many others, do on a daily basis.  I will paint many, many paintings that will never be noticed that much.  That's okay. 

I was just talking with artist friends in Colorado and realized how much my life has changed since I became an artist.  Every single day I get an email or comment from someone saying I lifted their day, inspired them or motivated them to create. WOW. When I think of my life pre-art,  I am so thankful that for the last 8 years I have chosen to create every day.  It has changed me in so many ways.

Here are some books that have helped me along the way:

   * I know. Weird. But the story is all about aiming past the target and figuring out your "why" for doing something, which helps you cut through all the bullshit and do the work with integrity.

  * I had this book for a long time, but for whatever reason, it took me a number of years to really get into it.  Now it is indispensable. It makes me realize when I am feeling "resistance" and work through it.

"Chinese Lanterns and Pueblo Pottery" - 12"x24" - oil on linen
Evergreen Fine Art Gallery

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Here are the results from the next 3 painting locations.  I am doing the very best I can to study these scenes and paint them to the best of my ability.  I can't say that I "enjoy" it 100% of the time.  It's hot, it's sticky, I'm sweaty, I'm sunburned, I'm covered in mosquito get the picture and it's not pretty.  But I keep thinking about the legacy that's come before me. Every artist that has studied and practiced their craft so hard throughout the centuries has left me with a mandate to try harder. I think about Sorolla hauling his canvases down to the beach to paint from life. How Thomas Moran hiked up the sides of mountains and I laugh at myself. Modern life has led me to like comfort, but surprisingly that's not always rewarding!  Getting out of my comfort zone is not pleasant, but it is rewarding. The fun thing is, I become a different version of myself every time I complete one of these paintings.  That's pretty great.  So, I hope you will enjoy the results of my project.....and watch as I keep being uncomfortable! I am about halfway through my practice right now. Temperatures keep rising. We are getting more rain today and tomorrow which is halting me, but I am determined to see the 10 locations, 60 paintings through.  I hope you are enjoying the paintings and thank you for following the project.

Painting Spot #2 - Tree in North Pasture - Sunrise to Sunset- West Facing


Painting Spot #2 - Farm with Silo - Sunrise to Sunset- East Facing



Painting Spot #4 - Hay Field - Sunrise to Sunset- Northwest Facing