Separating Art from Life

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I have a whole life that is separate from painting. I’m really fortunate to have my passion, art, be my livelihood but with this balance, it can be easy to feel like I am a one-note woman. I’m an artist – done. I create art. It earns me money. I use the money to buy more supplies. I create more art. Etc. It’s a romantic notion of satisfaction, but after that being my entire life for the past few years, it has become apparent to me that there must be more to life than the thing that earns you money, even if you love that thing.  

 So I’ve tried to create an entire life separate from my art. I got my dog, Daisy. She helps me remember to take care of myself, the creature, as well as myself, the brain. She reminds me about the importance of simple delineation between work and play. She also literally reminds me of the outside world every few hours when she wants to walk or play outside 

 And I’ve joined a metalsmithing class: I already feel proficient in painting, but it’s the first medium I tried. I wonder if trying to create art in other mediums will teach me anything about my potential.  

 Any readers have a hard time separating their life from their work and want to share some successful tips or tricks?  


Creating in Comfort

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I admire artists who deliberately make themselves uncomfortable in order to further push their artistry, to keep them from lounging, to encourage the continuous making of art. Jack White has always stood out to me as a great disruptor of artistic comfort: whether he’s keeping his petals just too far from his feet to comfortably reach with his guitar plugged in, playing in a bad with a notoriously elementary percussionist, or using equipment that Bob Dylan would have found archaic when recording his debut album – Jack has always reminded us that comfort can be the enemy of good art.  

 That said, I have a hard time standing for as many hours of the day that I spend painting. So I have a few different options. My floor station is a Moroccan pillow on a large white tarp, I can paint down here, do some outlining or rough drafts, and work on huge floor pieces. Having just one pillow upon which to perch my body keeps me balanced, slightly uncomfortable, and mentally alert. My desk option is a standing drafting desk where I work on detailing, on foot, crouching and stretching as needed. And finally, my outdoor option is in development. Check back!  

Image result for jack white struggle

 Any readers have any specific comfort-while-creating standards/rituals?  



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I also try to choose a soundtrack that suits the job at hand. The grandmother in the story of the last blog post was a jazz musician in a USO band, so I listened to a lot of era- and story-specific music while making that painting. I also spent some time with the Great Gatsby soundtrack (the Baz one) to bring in that little feeling, here and there, of faux glamour. That was one note the granddaughter had, she thought that her grandmother was authentically what her family saw and that the glamour captured in the photograph was cultivated. Hence, the faux glamour of the Gatsby era being relevant and helping me to stick with the right line of thought while completing the project.  

 Often when working with wedding photos, I’ll ask the commissioner for a playlist from the wedding or the first-dance song for the couple. For an anniversary, I’ll ask the couple if they have a song, what played at their wedding, and what they’re enjoying right now. For historic photos, I use the time and place of the photo to create a soundtrack.  

 Music is a really strong sense for me and my work, this also helps me to grow my record collection since I buy (at least) one record for each job. And when the Hadley Law Firm Mobile hired me to paint the whole practice for them to hang in their boardroom, I played Devo. I’m not sure why, but it definitely suited the piece!


Closet Job

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I’ve done a lot of really fun jobs – it turns out that a lot of the photographs people have that they want turned into oil paintings are beautiful fascinating photos with rich stories built in. I try to honor that when reimagining them as paintings. I also often ask the commissioner to bring me or show me where it will hang – I think when commissioning a painting, it’s ok to design them with their future home in mind. Whether this means incorporating some of the home design elements into the painting with color or texture or choosing a frame that suits the décor, I think it makes me more attentive to the details while completing the piece.   

I’ve done a lot of wedding photos, travel shots, and pets-as-royalty pieces. My favorite pieces have tended to be historical. A woman once brought me a black and white picture of a very cleverly dressed woman in 1943, perched atop a lookout point in Banff, wearing white kitten heels, a black dress, a white fur snug, and black sunglasses. She was impossibly polished and poised. The woman who brought me the picture was the granddaughter of the subject of the photograph and told me she didn’t know the woman at all as anything besides a grandmother. She was having the portrait painted to hang in her home as reminder that we are to people who- and whatever we reveal ourselves to be. We are more in control of how we are received than we often acknowledge.  The painting now hangs in the granddaughter’s closet, the last thing she sees as she leaves to take on the day – to be whomever she wants people to believe her to be. Image result for black and white banff woman



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This blog is really just serving as a space where people unfamiliar with or not comfortable using Instagram can view my work. I understand that not every potential customer is on social media and needs a way to view my work without having to open an account.  

 I don’t maintain this account as much as I maintain social media, but I update it once weekly to encourage visitors to keep visiting!  

 If you are uncomfortable with social media or email, I’d be happy to set up a time to have you come through the studio and look at some of my work. You can bring your ideas, see my work, and hopefully we can brainstorm something that will make you happy!



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You can check my Instagram for some of my work – it’s really just a free portfolio space. I have noticed that people really like seeing side-by-sides, those definitely get among the most likes. Just a simple picture of the picture beside a picture of the painting. People like a really quick swipe between one and the other. Maybe it’s all those magic eye pictures we spent time looking at as kids!  

 Another very popular type of post I make on Instagram is time lapse videos of the painting. There is something comforting about seeing 6 hours lapse in one minute. I also like to watch these backs to look for steps in my process that may be unique or fascinating. I’m somewhat of a narcissist about my work and spend a little time reviewing my own Instagram feed looking at what people like most.  

 This is why the CONTACT ME link includes a space for you to tell me where you found me and where you’d like to find me. Most people state that they found me via Instagram or a friend’s reference – a few people have told me they want me on Snapchat but I’m just not interested in pursuing a new medium until I get more people asking for it.  

 And, I actually really like all the social aspects of Instagram. I don’t often get lost in the weeds of a political debate, people seem to be really encouraging and generous on Instagram, and there’s limited actual options for any other kind of communication between users.


Solo Creator

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As I mentioned, one reason I prefer to work from photos is that I like to paint alone. I don’t really want a subject sitting while I paint them because I’ll be so distracted by the awkward situation that my work will suffer. I like to be able to take my time, walk away from it, have a meal, have a smoke, have a glass of wine, come back to it, think on it, work in the middle of the night, etc.  

I’m not a total loner but I am a work loner – and I live alone besides my dog Daisy. For this reason, I have a small studio apartment in the same building where my residence is, and I do my work in there. That it’s in the same building makes it really convenient but also separates the spaces so that I can truly have a work space and a life space.  

 The main difference between the spaces is my mentality and the number of distractions. My residence is of course full of modern distractions – computer, tv, music, stocked kitchen, etc. My work space is very bare. The kitchen only has coffee, there’s a projector so that I can project pictures I’m working on painting, and there’s a record player and some records. Beyond that, my altar includes one candle, one crystal quartz, and always a live bud bouquet.   

 It’s just comfortable, my brain works better in there. And I’m very selective about workspace visitors. And Daisy is not allowed in.


My Journey to *Artist*

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I knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to have a lifelong relationship with creating art. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an artist, an art dealer, a collector, or a museum curator, but I knew that in some way I would always work with art. My grandmother took me to an art museum in Minneapolis once as a child and I was entranced. Every piece moved me, every room changed me, every day thereafter included artistic pursuits.  

 I was fortunate to go to a school that encouraged art study and practice, I was able to pack my schedule with art and literature classes while taking math and science classes more as electives than honest courses of study. I had the privilege of two parents who paid close attention to my interests as I aged towards school and when it was time to enroll me, they found a nearby arts high school and were eager to see if it would pull anything out of me. 

 They gave up very early on me having any career in business or medicine!  

 I took an oil painting class that required us to have a seated subject for a portrait. I cheated because I didn’t like spending lots of time with my classmates. Instead of a seated subject, I painted a portrait of Lauryn Hill who had just released The Miseducation record and was having a big moment. She was pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in a sportswear vibe – it felt so untrue to this woman I loved and the record she had just given us.  

 I reimagined the portrait but in a way that felt more “Lauryn” to me.  

 While the teacher didn’t love my loose response to the actual assignment, she responded very positively to the painting. She encouraged me to keep working with oil painting, using whatever inspirations I could find. I painted a Fiona Apple, an Outkast, and a P.J. Harvey, among others. I would pick my favorite record, lock myself in a room with it, and paint the artist the way they sounded to me.  Image result for lauryn miseducation

 I guess I just…. never stopped doing this. I didn’t go to art school after graduating high school, I just kept painting. The more people who saw my work – which I sold at art shows, flea markets, and farmers markets – the more requests I started getting for commissioned portraits. I once did an entire wedding this way – I went to the wedding, took low-res photos, and provided them back to the couple six months later as oil paintings.