Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Whale Watching

I love this bridge. I love this view. I love this painting. Not because its so great but it makes me happy. It has an off kilter imperfection, my "style", as it were. I think I'm ok with that now. It's a funny thing to have a style that is more known for it's childlike appeal but them's the breaks and I just show up for this gig and what comes out is pretty much out of my control. I do know that the more I show up, the more the style evolves but it's a huge relief to just be. This is who I am. I've tried emulating and incorporating other styles, techniques, still do, will continue to do so, it's what an artist does to stretch and learn. But at the end of the day, there is a heartbeat and footprint that is recognizable to individual artists and I'm good with that, wobbly bridge chords and all. I never seem to get where I need to go in a straight line anyway. xo

Friday, February 19, 2016


"Do anything but let it produce joy." Walt Whitman.

Thank you, Mr. Whitman for pretty much summing up in one short and sweet sentence, the gist of everything I believe, promote, write about and try to live by. (And, I'm sure he would have added, please show up for the joy producing moments.) More and more, as I grow my little company and connect with customers, fellow artists and my peers, I realize that doing my thing, my anything, is always motivated by producing joy. And joy is contagious. Making soup. Baking banana bread. Writing a handwritten thank you note. Reading great books. Mailing catalogues with samples. Painting boots and bridges and bouquets. Meeting a friend for coffee. I try, not always successfully, but I sincerely try every day to produce something with joy.

Today, it's yellow boots. With polka dots and hydrangeas. No reason, it makes me happy. The behind the behind scenes is this. I was in class, off track, painting something I thought I should paint, in fact, can't remember what the subject was but it was "off". I know when something is off when it's a struggle, not a good, I'm figuring it out as I go kind of struggle, but a this isn't my voice kind of struggle, put the brush down and reassess. I did. And I realized that the subject wasn't making me happy. I found an image that did. And it was joyful and easy and flowed right out of me with no purpose whatsoever but somehow shiny yellow boots with hydrangeas popping out of them was just the fix for a rainy February day. Sometimes its that ephemeral. A feeling, a thought, a wisp of inspiration and rather than question, just follow. After approximately hundreds of paintings, thousands of books and a jillion conversations on creativity, I have found this. The river of inspiration is generally flowing in the joy direction. xo

"Yellow Hunters" 11x14" available at ElizabethW Carmel. Email kelly@elizabethw.com for information.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Red Royal

Guilty pleasure: I love reading about writing. I suppose you could equate that with watching a DVD workout from the comfort of your couch. (Oh come, you've done it!) But still, information and insight on the craft of writing, the procrastination, the resistance, the love and the glory of it all, I find all of it so very fascinating. Some of my favourites, anything by Anne Lamott, anything by Natalie Goldberg, anything by Steven Pressfield. Also in the notable, re-reads are Annie Dillard, Dani Shapiro and Stephen King on the art of writing.

I think what I love so much about these books is the humanness of their struggles. Not one writer claims that they woke up with words bubbling out of them just ready for the typewriter, laptop, pad of yellow paper. They all fight it. Like crazy. Each and every one of them crawls to the keyboard, has a variety of ways to stay there from egg timers to muses to praying to ultimatums. Many lose these bets to laundry and pets. But they do it again. And again after that. And that is what thrills me. Even these famous writers, these successful published people, still, have bad hair days. The overwhelming consistent piece of wisdom that comes up is my all time favorite creativity topic: show up. They show up. They write books in 15 minutes a day. They go to workshops and close the door to the world for two weeks. They get up at 5 in the morning. You name it, they are just people with lives, pots of coffee, kids to drive to school and spin classes they know they should go to. Ok, some of these people are Stephen King, but even Stephen King wasn't always Stephen King! He slogged. He showed up. He wrote non-stop and didn't  worry about where it would be published. He did it for the love it and after enough days of showing up, he had a manuscript. Manuscripts. Plural. I don't need to explain how his story ends.

So here I am. Little old unknown writer-painter-creative girl, blogging into thin air and trying so hard to show up. 15 minutes at a time. One painting at a time. One blog post at a time. It's all been said before, right? But not my me. And not by you. So write. Write in private, write for your friends, write a letter, write an email, write a list, write a post. Write your world. xo

Monday, February 8, 2016

French Press

I met a new friend, a fellow artist-writer-creative-human-being-doing-her-thing today for coffee. She gets that street cred moniker because as we started talking, comparing our lives, our daily-ness, it came to me that part of what makes an artist isn't always what he or she is producing but how we are LIVING. The living is what makes the art. The boring victories like getting to the post office to mail orders AND write, the sweet moments we can have coffee in the afternoon because we're up at 5am painting or emailing or meditating or cleaning the house, the roller coaster of financial worries that are omniscient yet don't dissuade us from joining the 9-5 schedule. All of it is thrilling and messy and, hit me so profoundly today, impossible to explain if you're not stringing half a dozen projects together and hoping that once sewed they will make a quilt of sorts. I sat in awe and respect listening to this fellow artist talk of art shows, printing promo postcards, workshops, travel, writing groups and all sorts of delightful creativity in action activities. She is walking her walk. This is the good stuff. This is the gas in the car, the joyful action steps that allow artists, myself included, to do the things we love to do. Action. Baby steps. Micromovements. The emails to potential customers. The dozen bad poems so you can have one good one. The 100 paintings so you can have 20 to print into cards. The year long out reach to cafes and wineries and galleries for nothing but no, thanks, and then a miraculous yes when you least expect it. All of it, mysterious except for the charge of energy that we agreed goes through everything we do. Faith. And a sense of humor. Faith that somehow all those wacky breadcrumbs are actually placed in exactly the perfect spot. And a sense of humor, that in this town, those breadcrumbs better be gluten-free.

"French Press" 18x24" available at ElizabethW Carmel 831.626.3892

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Garden Party

I can feel spring around the corner today. Which means it's quite possible it will snow next week. Spring where I live is fickle. Warm and blue skies on a Saturday, ominous skies and snow clouds on Sunday. We call it Fring. False Spring. But I'll take it. I'll take those now and again spring like days where I pick off my dead geranium leaves, open the window a crack, and turn down the heat. I complain about winter a little, okay a lot, but I secretly like the changing of seasons here in Ashland, Oregon. There is a definitive schedule every 3-4 months, just like a calendar's photos. White in winter. pastel in spring, yellow and green in summer and orange and red in the autumn. It's literally that clockwork with a few of these February false alarms like today.

It's early still, just the first few days of February, but the days are longer. It no longer feels like night at 4:30 in the afternoon. There are buds on my trees and patches of green growth on the azalea bushes. My paints and paintings are also infused with pastels and florals and green goodness. I hadn't planned on painting this particular still life but that's what happens when art imitates life and you show up to what's around you. Painting and writing becomes a form of osmosis. You'll know where I am if I start waxing poetic and painting landscapes of palm dreams, white sand and surf boards…until then. xo

Friday, February 5, 2016

Le Jardin

Enough about life philosophy and chocolate and showing up and when the going gets tough the tough get….ugh…enough already! How about pretty things on a rusty table? Ok. Yes, that's the topic today. Lovely things arranged together that make me happy. That is enough today.

This piece was composed in a painting class last week where our wonderful teacher had a still life on a table as an option for students to paint. What I love about her class is the option element. One table, a variety of flowers in vases, fruit in bowls and a tablecloth artfully draped over the edges and not one of us completed anything remotely close to each other or the objects we were painting. That is true art to me. There is a comfort and nurturing spirit with this group of women, a built in no compete clause, where everyone wins just by showing up. We cheer each other on. We respect the silence. We gab. We eat. We listen to music. We do not criticize. Ever. It is a lesson I can learn myself. I can be as nice to to me as this group of women is to each other. We are lovely things arranged together and that makes me very happy. xo

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bridge Mix

I love Bridge Mix. It is the perfect combination of chocolate and chew and surprise crunch and always comes in a cute box or cellophane bag and makes me feel like a little girl playing grown up. It's that special occasion chocolate treat I can rarely resist if I'm in a chocolate shop or See's or anywhere old fashioned that specializes in old school treats. My family makes fun of me that it is still my favorite, haven't we moved on to salted caramel…everything? Nope. I'm stuck in a  joyful time warp on this one and not going anywhere.

That's what I love about this painting. It feels like a snapshot in time. A moment with a friend, a vintage vase, a blue milk glass dish of bridge mix, a cappuccino to share. There is that phrase. Write what you know. It applies to art too. Paint what you know. I paint my history. My snapshots of funny moments with my parents, sweet memories of my childhood, lessons learned from my grandparents and aesthetics borrowed from my hometown. I am learning this with every piece I create. That candy dish is straight out of my Nana Mary's kitchen cupboard, right beside her hard boiled egg cups. Did I think I would paint this the last time I saw this dish? No. It is part of my visual map, my personal encyclopedia of images that is part of my soul that we all carry with us every day. I choose it, or the vase or the cups, it varies painting by painting, because it makes me happy. That's all it requires. I feel good painting it, I smile, I am connected to something bigger than me, and I know I showed up to my gift that day. Simple. Now if I could remember that feeling a little more consistently….

Painting a still life is a joyful experience for me. Especially when I have a very loose road map (flowers? food? object?), it tells me what wants to be included. I am often asked "do you plan your paintings?" Yes and no. I might have a vague theme or direction or photo I have found that gives me a general GPS direction but once the car is pointed on the highway, it has a mind of its own! My job, if I can, is to listen to the whispers for bridge mix, even when they seem banal and make me think, really, you have to have a cellophane bag of candy on this table? I really do. And I really can't paint it otherwise. It's as if someone something else in me has taken over and as long as I've got my foot on the gas, it will invisibly steer the car. (I think they're making something like that in Silicon Valley as we speak.)

Yesterday, I write about the meaning of life, the ups and downs of creative entrepreneurship and the angsty hand wringing of the "artiste". Today, I write about chocolate. Showing up for both. xo

"Bridge Mix" 18x24" Available at ElizabethW Carmel 1.831.626.3892

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


I look at this painting, think about why I chose it to post, re-read a couple of posts and thought, honestly, sigh. I guess sigh isn't a thought exactly but the feeling was, really? Here again? Two steps forward, one step back, two leaps forward, one trip fall down on banana peel pray you don't injure yourself because you don't have insurance right now but damn it, I AM GETTING UP AND POSTING!!! Or something less melodramatic because this is just a blog post after all. In fact, as I type these words I know suddenly what this post is called, what it's about, what I'm supposed to write, not for readers but for me and that is this: acceptance. I am in an ongoing process of accepting that I am a start stop start again artist creative entrepreneur and the road is windier than a drive to Stinson Beach from Mill Valley. 

I often fall in the trap of looking at other people's progress, the quality of their work, their exposure, their innate business savvy, their….green grass. And I know, my grass is also a lovely shade of different green. I  am in the process of accepting that. I accept that I'm pretty good at some things running a small business. I stay calm, I have a sense of humor when shit hits the fan (unless the letters IRS are involved), I paint with enthusiasm and don't get too hung up on if it's "good", I am reliable and kind. I'm not so good, however, at business details, things involving cheques, numbers, spreadsheets, any information at all that would benefit from Excel, technical learning curves and sticking to a blog or marketing schedule. Some days it's all too much. I am trying to accept that.

On the flip side, "Artist Studio", above painting, is why I need to keep going. It is joy. It represents the other side of beating myself up. The side I'm half way decent at. It represents what it looks like to keep going, to keep your foot on the gas no matter what. This painting is a bunch of things that are new to me. It's bigger, it's a different subject matter, it's literally a blank page to create anything you want, it's not for anyone but my own painting pleasure and it was SO MUCH FUN to paint and that is why I am doing this. This business, this life, this teeter tottery self-employed roller coaster. Because every time I push myself a little farther or in a different direction artistically, it pays off down the road when I least expect it.  And it will! Because it has! I have the faith. Ultimately, I do this because of the art, the act of creating, the love of making something from scratch and expressing my heart. 

I am accepting that what lights me up is brighter and more important than all the so-called "failures" that I insist at muddling along with.  It's ok for now to be half-assed in accounting and business. And tech. Ok and also consistent blog posts. I’m busy getting messy on my green grass.

"Artist Studio" 36 x 36" Available at ElizabethW Carmel 831.626.3892