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Creativity Takes Courage

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse.

Yes it does. And if not courage in a lion roar kind of way, a gentle consistent showing up no matter what kind of way. Do some paintings feel slow or hard or above my learning curve? You bet. But when there is joy in the activity, the courage shows up and walks beside me and shows infinite patience in the messy middle temper tamtrum stage of art. (Nod your head, painters, you’ve been there.)

I would not consider myself an exceptionally courageous person in life pursuits. I push my own limits….comfortably. I’m not an adrenaline junkie or speed freak, I never liked downhill skiing much because of the speed, trees I was likely to run into and fear of…trees and speed.  I tend to play it more cautious but there is something about painting and art and most creative pursuits that makes me say, WTF, why not. What do I have to lose? What if Matisse never painted those crazy colors because it was not in vogue at the time. He knew. He knew he had to muster the courage and paint irreverent goldfish and pink art studios and portraits that he was told were “garish”. But he did it anyway. And well….Matisse.

Creativity does take courage. And a sense of humor. And perseverance. And good snacks. I’m sure Matisse would agree. He was French, after all.

Thank you, Henri Matisse, for the brilliant and simple reminder. xo

“Creativity Takes Courage” 24×30″ oil on gallery canvas. For inquiries, please email

 

 

Bonjour (and April in Paris)

What is it about Paris? Other than everything…for most everybody…?  For me it represents history, architecture, culture, the arts, the dedication to a life lived in the small beautiful details. The people watching. The air, the color, the river, the romance, the food, the coffee, the fashion, the freedom. I’m not alone.

It’s been many years since I’ve been and even conjuring up the last visit, I can find an endless well of inspiration. The muse is generous in this city. Paris appears to have been built to help writers, artists, musicians to pause and create. I’ve captured or remembered photos and memories in Paris that have inspired paintings years later.  No detail is too small. The packaging. The storefronts. The parks. The museums and galleries. The bateau mouches, the perfect olive green outdoor park chair at the Jardin de Luxembourg. Les croques monsieurs!!!

I’m thinking about all of this because next April 4-10 2020 I am giddy thrilled (je suis ravi!!!) to share that I am part of a week long Parisian Artist’s Life workshop in collaboration with the incredible team at Deep Travel Workshops

I have often teased the owners of Deep Travel that I want to go on their kind of trip! Their adventures are culinary, literary, artistic, creative, organized, fun and include those special details like discovering that perfect art supply shop or that buttery croissant or that quiet cafe or….the perfect light to spend hours sketching and painting in the park. Sign me up.

We will be exploring, capturing photographic moments, savoring the cafe life and painting what inspires us. We’ll use postcards, sketchbooks and canvas, no experience necessary, just the love of Paris. This will be about the art of feeling, seeing and creating. Have you ever dreamed of painting a Parisian postcard and sending it home? Moi aussi.

More details more blog posts more photos more paintings more inspirations as the months unfold. I am dreaming of Sennelier on Quai Voltaire already….

Merci Christina and Anna of Deep Travel Workshops for creating this workshop. It will be merveilleux!

A bientot. xo

P.S. Click here for questions, inquiries and details about this trip and all their adventurous offerings.

 

Oil v. Acrylic Part II

Hello from Atlanta, GA! I’m in the swing of trade show season but wanted to follow up on my painting experiment.

First and most satisfying result: I finished the 30 paintings! No small feat when life happens, days turn into a few days into a weekend into…oh shoot, it’s Christmas! But I stuck with it, did not complete in my optimistic 30 days but did finish. High five to finishing! There’s power in seeing something through that you enjoy (I have to add “that you enjoy” because I’mall for walking away from a meh project.)

Unexpected fun results: I sold many of them!  I wasn’t sure if I would sell them when I started and people inquired so….they are for sale.

Secondly, it lead me to participate in the Southern Oregon Plein Air Festival hosted by Central Art Supply. It was a lovely unexpected challenging fun delightful experience that challenged all of my comfort zones but I did it anyway and so grateful for the experience. Note to self: you really do get results and/or growth when you challenge what you think you can do! Oh yeah, that lesson. Even more surprising and fun, I received Honorable Mention for one of my paintings I submitted! What!!???? Yup.

Third, I re-remembered that everything I want to get better at takes practice. Running, tennis (don’t get me started!), cooking, writing…it’s repetitive. 30 paintings certainly doesn’t catapult me into capital OP Oil Painter but it started taking the fear and worry out of it.

I could write a Top 10 list of the results and observations of acrylics v. oils but this writer/painter/greeting card purveyor has to put on another hat today and pop over to Atlanta AmericasMart and represent Carpe Diem Papers!

Ciao for now! xo

 

Paint Brushes

Let’s talk tools of the trade. I’m looking at my supplies more closely recently–oils v. acrylics, canvas v. masonite board or panels, “everyday” brushes v. investment brushes, spray varnish v. gloss medium…and on.

I changed up my brushes a few months ago. The whole truth is that my aunt in Victoria was taking a painting class and her instructor recommended a collection of go-to higher quality brushes but would last a long time and make a big difference. Hmmm. I’m of the school that the “everyday” workhorse brushes are just fine, especially for a painter like me who is fairly rough on them…forgetful to wash, leaves out, etc…I asked my aunt what she thought after switching over herself and she thought they made a big difference…so that was all the suggestion I needed. Off to the candy store I went.  I have 6 total–so nothing crazy but one each of my most used sizes. Three are Princeton and three are Aquatec and they seem about equal quality to me and they were in the same price range. I’ve also heard that Trekell sells terrific brushes–haven’t tried yet but know that I know they matter….I’m on their website.

Verdict? Totally, completely 100% worth it using fewer brushes that are better quality. They feel different. They are holding their shape. I’m cleaning them more frequently. My paintings feel better. And…they’re so pretty!!!!

“Paintbrushes in Harney Tin” 8×10″ SOLD

Oil v. Acrylic

Somewhere between now and March 3rd (which is when Madame Blog here tells me I last posted) I have been slowly, quietly, nervously experimenting with a new medium: oil paints. I decided to conduct a 30 day challenge for myself: 30 paintings in 30ish days. I didn’t quite make it, I think I got to 26 or 27, life came knocking. But that’s ok. Close enough to be happy with my experiment and being as unscientific as they come, these lab results work for me.

My self imposed rules: 30 paintings on the exact same size panel. A 6×8″ masonite board. That seemed small enough to complete but big enough to get a feel for the oils. Above is #1-15. I kept the oil paint selection simple. I used Gamblin Colors upon the recommendation of…everyone I asked. I’m sure there are equally wonderful oils out there but this was what I used. I think I started with 6-8 colors on the first week then treated myself to a few more “fancy flavors”. But really, a small selection compared to the acrylic collection I have. The other “rule” was that I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. For a medium, I used Gamsol and Galkyd, that’s it. Kept it simple so I could get it done.

Results in and….I love oils. Love love love oils. I also love acrylics but for more mechanical reasons–dry time, ease, affordability. I’m not 100% sure because this is new still but I feel like I’m moving into oils more permanently. I type that oh so reluctantly with my fingers barely punching the keys. Eek. What if I change my mind? What if…

What did I love about oils? Color, texture, creaminess, saturation….in a word: buttery-ness. Oils are butter. And I found that they do on their own what I’ve been trying to achieve with acrylics…a looseness and impressionistic feel that is so natural.

I started in oils when I first started painting in Sausalito, CA. I met with a local artist and painted in her studio, usually Sunday afternoons. She was an oil painter so….I was an oil painter. When I moved to Ashland, my mentor used acrylics and the combination of the vibrancy of her artwork, the high quality of acrylics now and (very!!!!) fast dry time, I happily switched over. Learning to paint when you are waiting a week for something to dry is not for the patience challenged.

So here I am at a little painting crossroads. I’ve done several on large canvases so I’m committed to practicing on larger canvases but full disclosure, still feel a trepidation. Why? I’m not really sure. Learning curve, out of my comfort zone, new things, new supplies, it’s harder, messier, more technique driven…ok, maybe I do know.

Sharing the journey live from the studio. Will post the 2nd collection asap.

These are for sale if any strike your fancy. They are $75 + $5 shipping. Please email if you have any questions.

(L-R is #1-15. 3, 6, 8, 14 and 15 are SOLD.)

 

Pretty in Pink

This post if proof that role of artist-business-blogger-marketer-shipper-packer-traveler-sales is one role too many. If I had remembered and was organized enough, I would have posted this BEFORE the Pretty in Pink Art Reception…not a day and a half AFTER. Ooops. (Event on Friday night was lovely, it was pink, there was cake, wine, lots of wonderful people, an actual peachy-pink sunset casting a golden glow over the evening.)

The show is up all of March and April at Weisinger Winery in Ashland, OR. It’s a beautiful winery and tasting room if you haven’t been there…a little slice of Sonoma North. They serve some great cheese and charcuterie plates if you want to make an afternoon of it. Recommend!

That’s it. There are 26 paintings up. A good assortment of fancy parlors, some florals, a little selection of baked treats (painted not real) and seascapes (with a dash of pink).

Sorry for the late post. But my encouraging corporate motto of “oh well, keep going” suggests that it’s always better late than never and perfectionism is the enemy of progress. Here’s to progress! Come see some cheerful paintings, have a glass of wine, look at the gorgeous view and eat some cheese and crackers.

Sounds like a good Sunday to me!xo

Treasure Hunt

I go slow out of the January gate. In a way. My work travel schedule for trade shows is demanding in January and rarely changes so I mentally prep for being on the road. Which is not slow at all. It’s taxis and airports and booths and people and running, literally and figuratively. Which means all those more quiet still goal setting lists, books and exercise routines go out the window and who’s kidding who, all forgotten by February. I don’t beat myself up about this anymore. It’s my schedule. I go slow with goals.

I try to paint for fun during this time. Well, I guess I always paint with an element of fun. I should say, I try to paint with no purpose during this time. Whatever delights or inspires or seems silly but needs to be captured. Items on my desk. A piece of cake. A funny pet. A box of chocolates, a flower stem. Anything to keep the practice flowing.

Over the holidays I found a perfect $20 hotel silver coffee pot in a thrift store. The joy of those simple finds!  Add one iconic perfume bottle and my favorite chocolatier, Louis Sherry, I’ve got the ingredients for an impromptu still life. Add stripes and a floral pattern and I’m feeling it, the paint brush is loose, I’m in the zone, not worrying about the outcome. These kinds of paintings are so important to me. Will they sell? Maybe, maybe not. Are they part of a series? Nope. Are they for a customer? Nope. I love the accidental red streaks that made it into the cream stripe. If it was for a project or customer or show would I be ok with that? Would I be striving for it to be more exact? Probably. And it might not have some of it’s fun looseness because of it. Yes, I’m over analyzing a little painting but the reminder is for me, for fellow artists, to remember the fun part of art, the loose, just because process of it that ultimately produces the joy factor that makes art sing.

This little guy, a 10×10″ is hanging on my wall behind my easel, probably going to someone I know who will especially appreciate the subject matter, but in the meantime, just happy and stripy and a reminder to show up and work. Or play. xo

“Still Life Treasures” 10×10″

Sailing into the New Year

Wait! It’s January and business as usual already! That peaceful dreamy holiday respite is long gone and it is work mode. (Ok, I have amnesia, holidays are rarely peaceful and dreamy.)

Show season has officially started and I’m Atlanta bound to exhibit Carpe Diem Papers at Atlanta AmericasMart. This is the time of year I’m in taxis, ubers, airports, shuttles, escalators, elevators and on foot running from gate to gate. The glamour of it all!!

This is the less adorable side of small business and exhibiting your wares  But it’s also the critical part of keeping a small business thriving and travel woes aside, it is the heart of the business. People, customers, trade show friends, connections, old and new, face to face contact, a hello, a hug, all of it. It’s what keeps me going, it’s what keeps most of my entrepreneurial friends going. And I enjoy it! I love my customers, I love who I work with and it’s a funny summer camp-esque reunion with my trade show family.

So here I go, setting sail, proverbially, into the show season optimistic, handfuls of vitamin C and excited to start the year!

xoxo

P.S. If you’re in Atlanta, I’m in High Design, Building 2, Floor 1, Booth 429 (exhibiting with friends elizabethW)

Happy New Year! xo

Hello, 2019! xo

I really love the first day of the new year. So brand new, fresh as clean sheets on a newly made bed. Usually I take time to write goals, lists, reflect on the good, the bad, the ugly, how to improve, how to audit and adjust the course of life or business based on the past year.  But these past few weeks with holidays, painting projects, cooking, baking, guests and general holiday busy-ness have flown by in such a stream of confetti, I didn’t do any of that.

Instead of buying the new book on how to do or be something better/stronger/smarter/faster/skinnier, I have this: a new daily planner and a pen.

That’s all I’m feeling this year. Keeping it simple. I have a tendency to get bogged down or influenced by the latest shiny person extolling the benefits of whatever: fitness, nutrition, online marketing, sales, spirituality, you name it. All with benefits, no doubt. And I’ve learned a lot over the years by writing those lists, checking it twice. And I’ll probably continue to be a writer and ponderer of goals and aspirations but I learned a valuable lesson last year and I’m going to carry it over into 2019.

I was very present for the art and customers already in my life. I welcome and adore new customers, of course, but I found so much value and really did my best work when I was collaborating with people I love and people who love me. No struggle or striving. Just showing up, working very hard, delivering the best I could and staying true to my promises. There was a lot of mutual commitment this year and I loved it. It’s where my river flows for sure. It thrills me to know my customers are happy. That boomerang makes me want to work harder and smarter. It’s a full circle art & love festival over here in the greeting card/painting biz. When you’re happy, I’m happy and repeat. I am incredibly thankful I have this new-ish career that I love. That’s my equivalent of a goal setting reflection list this year: gratitude. Staying thankful that I get to do this, that I work and collaborate with the kindness, smartest, funniest people around and have the nicest customers ever! 2019, more of that please.

Cheers and Happy New Year! xo

(And I’m not setting a goal on how to lose 20 lbs by next week but feel free to share if you know how.)

Asking for Help: Part 1 Our Pack

Hey, guess what took me 40+ years to learn? It’s ok to ask for help. Help comes in all varieties, the serious kind, life transitions, relationships, family, career and health. Those are the biggins and somehow it seems easier or more acceptable to reach out during those times. For me, it’s the not so dire kind of help but critical nonetheless to small business owners/independent artists that can stop me up for days, weeks. Ok fine, years.  The I don’t know how to format these files or I just need to talk this through or how do you set up Fedex or operate Mailchimp or order small batch print runs or create your own website or or or. The ‘what do you do” factor and can you help me to do it too friend? I’m very fortunate to have an assortment of friends like these, all of them sagey guru no nonsense let’s get this shit DONE kind of friends. All of them very knowledgable in their own creative field: books, painting, wholesale operations, retail buying, publishing, workshops, professionally baking and graphic design. To start!

I suppose if you were to ask them, they would categorize me as that friend too and as that friend, I LOVE to help people, problem solve and find creative solutions. So with that in mind, I must remember that if I love to help, probably maybe these fabulous friends like to reach out a hand too?

I’m writing a book. More accurately, the book is written. There are more chapters than book space but what there isn’t, is organization of said book into some kind of publishable document. And the time has come. The 2018 clock is ticking and somewhere in several journals and day planners I’ve scrawled ransom note style in black Sharpie I WILL FINISH PUBLISH BOOK NO MATTER WHAT WHATEVER IT TAKES. FOR SURE. NO EXCUSES.

Yeah. Well that’s great in January. Now it’s November and I’m taking this hostage letter seriously because our goals don’t go away. They just get more irritating when you don’t complete them. And this isn’t a brand new fresh goal. It’s been lingering for so long that I either need to cut the rope and let this ship sail away or set down an anchor and really do the work to get it in the world. I write, I paint, I want these two to go together. I always have, long before an illustrated book was even a thing.  I’m going to give it a try.

Enter help. I’ve invested time and money in the following: online writing course, several excellent writing podcasts that I regularly listen to, endless books on writing/creative life (because I have also discovered that you can insert the word “painting, drawing, cooking, running, anything” into these creative missives and they all apply), a writing check-in buddy. And that’s all wonderful and useful. But I need the next step and that’s where I’m stuck and where I need help and where I’m realizing that what is easy for one person, paralyzes the next.

Thank god for the friend village!!

One of these friends is coming over this afternoon for tea, cake and work. I’ve got out the good china and the yummy snacks. We must be fortified and visually inspired as we do the work. And what is the work? It’s taking all the pages, the chapters, the images and sorting them into some coherent order of a manuscript. It’s culling the chapters and blog posts and lying them flat on my dining room table and taking a birds eye view of what’s on the menu and compiling them into one document so said document is closer to uploading to one of the many self publishing platforms available. Do you think I can do that alone? Apparently not. So I have asked for help and it’s on the way and I’m brimming with relief, gratitude and possibility.

Even if it’s not “done” today, that’s ok. I’m further along.

PS. And why does a fur person dog collage accompany this post? Not entirely sure. Maybe these loving quirky creatures represent our family and friends who we can reach out to for their expertise, humor and joy. They’re the ones who cheer us on, give us the straight talk, eat our cake, reach back for help and high five the power of two power hour coffee dates. We’ve found our pack. xo

“Les Chiens” 20×24″ SOLD