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


  1. What a great goal. Good luck Kelli! Make it happen.

  2. Thank you so much Jackie and Adam for your support!

  3. That took a great deal of courage and honesty to write. Both of those qualities are exemplified in your work and which make it so fabulous...thank you for sharing your story. It really makes me think about my well as the one yet to be written as I dive further into my art.

  4. This is really inspiring Kelli, thank you for sharing!

  5. Although I don't qualify to be in your drawing because I'm your mother, I wanted to say in public forum how very proud of you that I am. Determination to become a better artist daily drives your goal to becoming the reality that you will have. I use to tell you kids as you were growing up, "Can't never did do nothing". Believing in yourself with confidence will bring you success. Love you and am so very proud of you.~♡♡♡

  6. Good for you! Very inspiring Kelli. Looking forward to reading your blog.

  7. Hi Kelli:

    Inspiring post. (I found you via FB Professional Fine Artists group of Sandy-Askey Adams).

    I'm one of those out there still trying. I won't repeat the story here, but you can read up more of my story if you want on my blog.

    The reality is that no one is going to turn you into a professional artist without struggle, effort, practice, and so many other things. For some of us (me perhaps), it may never happen.

    but it will DEFINITELY NOT happen if you don't keep putting one foot forward and continue to TRY. I know Yoda likes to day: Do or Do not. There is no try. but it's not that black and white.

    We have to believe in our selves, be deliberate in our intentions, our practice, our studies, our efforts. We have to give out best, or else we're just reducing our chances for success.

    I've been married to a wife for 21 years. She likes a house, and all the stuff that goes along with it. That costs a lot of money.

    If it were me alone, I'd figure out how to get an AirStream and a small truck, or perhaps a smaller older RV, and just hit the road. There are so many God inspired places to visit and paint.

    I think the older I get, the more I come to accept that there's meaning in the trying, the painting, and it's not all about the measure of sales as a measure of personal success. Yes, it's great to make some sales, and I sure wish I was making more.

    But I think of the people I've made happy with my paintings, using my skills and talents to showcase the beauty of God's world, and that is priceless to me.

    Keep on moving forward! 2016 is a new blank canvas to make another attempt at a life masterpiece!



    1. I am so glad that it spoke to you Bob and I wish you much success and joyful work in 2016!

  8. PS. Love pressfield. His Gates of Fire is simply awesome!

    Didn't know about The War of Art. Have to check that one out. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Do you know you are a very smart person? In my experince, all good artists are very intelligent. I have seen something special in you, that you may not fully appreciate. But you have success written all over you. BEST OF LUCK!

    1. Thank you so much Faisal! You are a smart cookie yourself. Would love to have you in a class again. Keep up the joyful work!

    2. Welcome. Talking about classes. What are you offering this year. Do you have schedules available?


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