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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

Blog Detour

Hi friends!
My blog has moved to a brighter happier website home with more windows and a place to sit down a while. Come on over! And because Google and blogger and other technical Wizard of Oz things, I can’t seem to remove this one. 
See you over in the new digs.

Fancy Cake

I adore life’s simple fancy pleasures.  Great coffee, perfect pastries, new art supplies. If you’re looking for an uplifting creative afternoon that combine all three, come join us for the next Poets & Painters at Pennington Farms in the Applegate.

Poets & Painters Workshop is a very fun quarterly workshop with Rogue Valley writer Anna Elkins and myself. Writing, painting, cake and community, what could be better?

Come join us, bring a friend, a sister, your mum, your painting pal, it’s very fun.  And satisfying–you will leave with a finished painting!

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Pennington Farms Bakery in the Applegate (about an hour from Ashland)
ALL supplies included, just bring yourself.

To register, please email Anna at [email protected]

Hope to see you there!

“Fancy Cake” 8×10″ available at elizabethW Carmel $225
Email [email protected]

Poets & Painters & Cakes!

Hello, Southern Oregon friends!
This soggy January day seemed a good time to think of something sweet on the near horizon & so…Mindy Carpenter & I are happy to announce another

 Poets & Painters workshop at Pennington Farms

…this time featuring their decadent cakes! At our last workshop at Pennington’s, we spied some swanky cakes beneath glass cloches & decided that we wanted to paint (& eat!) them, too.
Here’s one of Mindy’s delightful cake paintings:

In addition to your spacious painting time, I will give you an easy prompt for crafting a poem inspired by the confections. Zero pressure! And you do not have to read anything aloud. This workshop is more like a “playshop”; it’s all about having fun 🙂
So grab a friend (or a Valentine!) and come play with us:
When: Saturday, February 10 from 11-3 pm
Where: Pennington Farms | 11341 Williams Highway | Grants Pass, OR 97527
Cost: $95 per person (includes all painting & writing supplies, coffee, & plenty of cake! Savory treats will be available for purchase)
Register: Email me at [email protected], let me know how many people you’re bringing, & I’ll send you payment info.
You’ll leave the workshop with a finished 8″ x 10″ painting, a poem & a satisfied sweet tooth 😉
Space is limited, so register soon!
PS: If you’re looking for an original Valentine’s gift, you can create one during the workshop…or give the workshop itself as a gift!
anna elkins
art word spirit

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

You know that magical sliver of time after New Year’s where it seems like exercise, creativity, weight loss, financial and wellness goals are not only possible, but they are bright and shiny beacons you can’t wait to swim across frigid water to? Me neither.

I know I have experienced it, the writing down of goals, the crisp new day planner, the unused white soles of my sneakers. I have used this time wisely before. I remember that includes a sense of anticipation for the upcoming year and a knowing that this is “your best year yet”! Words like badass, ninja, rockstar and equally hideous cliches are thrown around in every well-meaning spam email I receive. I call bullshit. This might be my best year ever (please God, I’ll take it!) but today, this past week, the first of 2018, this magical sliver that I used to love so much, has me in bed with a crap cold/flu and post-apocolyptic travel fatigue (worst, and I mean WORST trip back from Canada. Delta. Bad. Very bad.) And work to do. And another plane to get on this week. I might abuse my own no cliche rule. No rest for the wicked?

So you want to know what I’m doing while the parking lot at the YMCA is full to capacity and Ashland citizens are turning green from all their healthy juicing? I am systemically eating a box of See’s Candy from bed. And other nourishing things like pizza and toast but mostly the See’s. I am so tired. Perhaps tired from the sugar, you healthy shiny people suggest? You’re probably right! But today, these past few days, my body says lay the hell down and don’t get up.

I’ve received dozens of newsletters from 12:01am January 1st on how to be better, feel better, look better, spend better, dress better, meditate better ,write better and not care what people think better. And I’ve deleted them all. I just can’t. I can’t be better this week. I had a rockstar, ninja, kickass time on my vacation up in Canada and now, this first week of 2018, my body needs to rest. I declare the first inspirational week of the year some other week in January. Or maybe February at this rate. It will come. I will get up. The chocolate will turn into an apple, the running shoes will get dirty.

Happy New Year. Wherever you are in your Best Year Yet journey. If this is a debbie downer, please delete. Or file under How to Sloth Better or How to Chuck Half Eaten Candies Back in the Box with No Guilt. I haven’t seen that newsletter yet. I might be on to something. Here’s to us, the tired ones, the one who got a cold, the flu, who work from home, who answer emails on vacation and aren’t always influenced by the calendar and how we’re supposed to rocket out of the previous year blasting into the next. I’ll see you at the gym next month. xo

P.S. Yes, big picture, I’m ok. I enjoy writing when I’m grumpy. And the not getting out of bed part lends itself to blogging. xo
PPS. Nuts & Chews.