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