2018, I hardly knew you!

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already. That makes sense considering I slept through the first 8 months.

To date, besides a few measly paintings for 30 in 30 back in January, I have not completed one painting this year. It’s so easy to beat myself up about that, but the sacrifice has been worth it. I know, you’re demanding to know how I think anything could possibly justify not finishing paintings for almost an entire year. Let me tell ya, it’s not an easy thing to find the silver lining in, that’s for sure.

However, if the long-term benefits of this year are that I can paint more in the future, I’ll gladly sacrifice 2018 to the art gods.

I have spent 20 years asking medical doctors why I’m so tired all the time. They would give me a thyroid test here and a blood work up there, only to tell me everything was fine and send me on my overly dramatic and attention seeking way. Or so they seemed to think. I’ve since discovered even when things haven’t been okay, I was not made aware, but that’s another story for learning to get all your test results for yourself.  It also never helped that most of the people in my life would just tell me I was lazy. It turned out this was usually because they were trying to make me do more than my fair share of the work, but that’s neither here nor there. I, too, would tell myself I was just lazy, even though I knew better. I knew, when I had energy I did things even if I didn’t like doing them. Even though I knew I had accomplished more than most people I knew.

It was so easy to just agree that I must be lazy.

I finally found out at the end of last year I have Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder. This causes me to have a lot of anxiety and become worn out/irritable from things most people can filter out. It took two months after my occupational therapist made an off-hand comment that I was uncomfortable all the time for me to realize what I felt all the time was uncomfortable. I thought that feeling was normal.  Until about August I was sleeping all the time. When I managed to do something, like an artventure, it would wipe me out for the rest of the week. I’ve since learned a ton of life hacks that work for me and my energy is slowly returning to normal (for me) and hopefully better than ever.

My life already looks so much different than it did a year ago. It’s hard to make sure I go slow enough to maintain, let alone continue the progress. I want to go full steam ahead. Luckily, being paranoid of returning to the exhausted shell I was is a good reminder to just relax. I don’t need to be perfect right now because I’m already better than I was. Not only do I still do the morning pages, but I finally found a morning routine I love. I’ve attempted a routine so many times in the past, never finding one that stuck. Yet, here I am, with a two-hour routine I do more often than not and feel really out of sorts on days I don’t. I am hoping to build it into a full, daily routine, but considering earlier this year I’d have to go back to sleep after my morning pages, 2 hours is awesome. I don’t even nap at all any more, unless I have a cold.

I still have a ways to go, but it’s easy to feel grateful for even the smallest victories right now.

I’ve also been lucky in that I’ve been surrounded by supportive people this year and have health insurance which covers many resources I’ve needed. It’s been a tough, but I have never felt luckier or more blessed. I’ve still had my moments of depression and feeling hopeless, but it’s hard to stay that way when I’ve also felt contentment for the first time in my life. I know that this year was to clear the rubble and start building a better foundation for the future. That’s exciting.

In August, I judged an art show and since September I’ve taught two classes of home school kids on Fridays and I have a workshop in Holland scheduled for the beginning of April. I went to Arkansas again and I had my art in a gallery in October/November. The Alliance Français De St. Louis has invited me to hang my work in their building in January. There might even be an MFA program in my future.

I may have slept all year, but the universe has definitely been working on my behalf, putting opportunities in front of me that I have just had to find the energy to show up for. To be fair, that took everything I had, but the universe never called me lazy or accused me of making it do more than it’s share.


I have long held a belief about how to learn art. I feel like it’s an obvious belief and I know many of my artist friends feel the same so it’s not revolutionary, yet, many art schools seem to miss it entirely.

Technical skill is super freaking important. Concept is also super freaking important, but I’m am of the firm belief that if you are only taught concept, you will end up frustrated and angry because you won’t be able to produce any of your amazing concepts. I purposely chose a technical based college for my BFA because I am a giant nerd, but also because I wanted to create my ideas. I realized that MFAs were probably better spent on concept because by then I’d have a base of skill I could continue to build while I focused on my concepts.

Today, I grabbed my copy of  The Art Spirit by Robert Henri, flipped it open, and I kid you not, my eyes fell on this passage:

“When you, body and soul, wish to make a certain expression and cannot be distracted from this one desire, then you will be able to make a great use of whatever technical knowledge you have. You will have clairvoyance, you will see uses of the technique you already have, and you will invent more.”

Granted, the previous owner of said book had circled it, but that only furthers my point. Yes, at the end Henri says you will invent more technique, but why wouldn’t you want ALL the tools you could have to start with? If you’re building a cabinet do you really want to waste time inventing a freaking hammer? No. It’s already been invented. Take advantage of the guy’s work who came up with the concept of that freaking hammer.  You’re just making it harder on yourself if you don’t focus on the technical skills. It’s the same with anything. If you learn to play music, you start with the scales because that allows you to play everything else.

The reason it feels serendipitous that I opened straight to that circled passage is because I had a unique opportunity yesterday to ask students who started their art school learning concept and then at the end, they lucked out and got two amazing teachers who feel technical skill is super freaking important.

I’ve been filling in as a model for their life drawing classes for three weeks now and I even had the chance to critique their work from other classes. I decided to ask their thoughts on my theory yesterday even though, after watching and listening and discussing their work with them, I had a feeling I would only hear my thoughts confirmed.

I asked, essentially, what they felt about concept only learning vs technical skill since they had both in their undergrad training. I got the most heartbreaking answers. These baby artists said things like, now that they have had technical training, they felt like they could actually be artists. They said they were thinking of transferring before these teachers came and they felt like they didn’t get anything from their education up to that point.  They were just frustrated and angry and they blamed themselves. They internalized an insufficient education and it made them feel like they didn’t have access to this part of themselves.

It wasn’t their fault. Their school was setting them up for failure. Taking their money and just kicking them out the door. I did break it to them that even my school felt like that and I knew my teachers were amazing and I was learning what I needed to learn to at least create art.

It makes me sad these young women thought they were the problem. I also believe if we only concept is taught and then we send the students out into the art world, they won’t appreciate technical skill and we end up with the contemporary art world we have today.  Not that all contemporary art is bad. I happen to adore some of it.

These students are lucky though. They have two great teachers and their level of technical skill and how fast they have improved is impressive AF. They now have a conceptual base to draw from as well as the beginnings of the technical skills to realize their ideas. It’s nice to have ideas, but if you don’t have the skill to realize them, you’re just going to be angry and frustrated.  These students know what they have in these teachers and now feel like they can be artists. Those teachers gave them something invaluable. They showed them they were artists all along.

*sniff* I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Studio, Sweet Studio

I am already back in Illinois and I’m starting to move into my temporary studio for the rest of the year or so. The weather has been much warmer and I’m changing a few things with the ol’ art biz. I didn’t want to wait to start if the weather was as nice as it usually is in Florida at this time of year.

The changes aren’t really exciting for anyone but me so I’ll spare you the boring stuff.

I moved the essentials in the room this morning and am sitting here, with just a cat for company, I’m really happy. Silence. No dogs. Although, I will usually have at least one dog with me when I’m here, at least I can get away when I need to. Actually, two dogs if you count my brother’s adorable shih tzu. It’s his cat too. Speaking of which, he has decided to ruin my peaceful focus and step all over my keyboard, as cats are want to do.

Who could stay mad at that ferocious hunter though? That’s Smokey and he’s a sweetie. I say as I take ALL the Benadryl.

Studio shot to the left. There’s always a few books in the essentials.  And everyone needs a picture of their boyfriend on their desk. Mine just happens to be on a metal lunch pail and is a beloved video game hero from my childhood. I won’t judge your relationships, you don’t judge mine. He also holds all my paints for the time being.

And studio to the right. Of course, I had to put up the painting my very lovely and generous friend Cindi gave to me when we did the Art On The Creeks show in October.

My brother is fixing up his house so everything is bare bones and I probably won’t do much decorating. I’m easy to please. Quiet.With a window. Boom.

A very nice perk is I can ride my bike, Cleetus, to the studio every day. I missed riding her when I hurt my back last summer. I can actually ride her all over town so I’m getting rid of my car completely and getting myself some exercise every day. Ponchos will be my friend.

One change I am really excited about is data free internet! You know what I’m going to do? At least once a week, maybe every day, I’m going to do live painting on my Facebook business page. You can come and hang out with me and watch me paint in real time, ask me questions, just chat, or lurk if you prefer to lurk.

(I really love having a little kitten curled up next to my computer while I blog.)


Just a corkboard and a giant calendar and I should be all set for my first week in an actual studio again.

What A Year!

I think we are all ready for this year to be over. Aren’t we always though?

I want to take the last day of the year to reflect on everything I accomplished in 2016. A lot of people do these types of posts and I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I forget all the ways I succeed and can focus on all the things I wish I had accomplished.  So here’s a brief run down of what I did this year:

  1.  41 paintings. Yeah, I did. That’s at least double what I’ve ever done in a year. I am so proud of this accomplishment while still wanting to smash this record in 2017.
  2. I published a short ebook. I did most of the heavy work in 2015, but didn’t hit publish until January 2016. That’s kinda cool.
  3. I was accepted into 2 art fairs and participated in my first one in 7 years. And made an awesome friend in the process.
  4. I had a show at Nudge Cafe.
  5. I hired an art coach and made improvements on various small areas of my business, including but not limited to, adding almost 100 new organic followers to my instagram account and more than double the number of people on my email list.
  6. I was a finalist in the Art Muse contest twice this year.
  7. I went to New Mexico, Montana, and Wyoming. Okay, that one isn’t art related, but it was fun.

Now I have a goal list for 2017 already, but I’m keeping it close to my chest for the time being. Once I tell people I lose interest so I’ll just share them as I go.

Basic Color Theory: Part 2 Complementary Colors

So, now you know your primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Now, it gets good.

Complementary Colors

Oooooh yeah.

This is why the color wheel is not arbitrary. Other than the fact that every color leads to another and it shows you which colors make the other colors, but whatev.

Here’s that color wheel again:


Color Wheel


Say you love yellow. You love it more than any color. I don’t love yellow, but you do. You want yellow to pop out of your painting and shine like it has never shown before.

You have a couple options for this, but they all involve its complementary color.  So where is that? It’s directly opposite yellow on the color wheel.  Violet.  If you put yellow and violet right next to each other, they create tension. Your eyes won’t know where to look so they “vibrate” between the two.

I know, you probably don’t want your eyes to vibrate, or maybe you do, that’s okay too, but let’s say you don’t. You really just want this yellow to stand out. You’d use more violet.  The more violet you use around the yellow the more your eye will have to look at the yellow. It won’t have a choice.

That’s not really mixing paint though, it’s just laying it side by side or around the yellow. If your yellow is too bright, standing out too much, you can gray it out with a bit of violet added to the paint and vice versa.

This is actually how you would get a completely neutral color. Mixing equal parts of each complementary color.  If you wanted a black, you could mix all three primaries. More on this later.

This painting, which I did a few years ago, is a great example of complementary color scheme:

Old Man On Bench, 12" x 24", watercolor on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2009

Old Man On Bench, 12″ x 24″, watercolor on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2009

I have blue in there, but as you can see, the painting is mostly shades of green with just a pop of red to draw your eye to the focal point.

My favorite complementary colors are orange and blue. Then yellow and violet, and finally red and green. If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments.


Want more? Here’s part 1 or check out the books below. Purchasing them from this link supports my site.

Affiliate Link:

Basic Color Theory: Part 1

What’s the big deal about color theory? Thank God, somebody finally asked me. I’ll tell you.

Color Wheel


That right there is a color wheel.  It shows your Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors.  When I picture a color wheel, my reds are to the left and blues to the right, but as long as they are in the right order, you’re golden.

The order?


That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Why are they in this order? Well, you could really start anywhere, say with yellow and  it would be: YGBIVRO, but that’s not as easy to remember.

Why these colors?  There’s actually a reason. Let’s start with the primary colors:


Red, Yellow, Blue

They are the primary colors because they are first. Nothing can make these colors. These colors can make everything. I’m not even kidding. Okay, they can’t make white, but everything else. Boom. These are your A-Team.  The only team.


Orange, Green, Violet

Secondary. If you pick any 2 of the primary colors and mix them in completely equal parts, you will get one of these colors. Super easy. Orange: red and yellow. Green: blue and yellow. Violet: red and blue.

What about Indigo?

Ya know what? F*** indigo. No, just kidding. I’m not even sure why they kept it with the pigment colors, except it was just easier to leave it. I’d actually research this for an answer, but if you ask any questions about ROY G BIV on the internet people get real dumb. They try to act like they are super smart and anyone who uses ROY G BIV is an idiot, but they are usually answering the wrong questions. They answer questions they wished you’d asked so they look smart. They also don’t truly understand the topic at hand because they are just parroting what they read elsewhere. No one mixing paints cares about their answers. Don’t ask the internet about ROY G BIV. Trust me. Ya’ll need to stop asking Reddit about those ROY G  BIV.


So, tertiary:

Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Yellow-

Orange, Red-Orange, Blue-Violet, Red-Violet

These colors are made up from mixing one primary and one secondary so you have more of one primary than the other.  If you want blue-green, you’d use 2 parts blue to one part yellow. Bam! Blue-green.

You just keep going from there. If you want a blue-blue-green, you’d add 3 parts blue to 1 yellow. But that’s not a tertiary color any more. It’s quaternary, but no one likes saying that word so it’s just blue-blue-green. Mmmmkay?

Where’s Purple?

There is no purple. Look at me. Violet is your purple now.

I’ll let that sink in before I really blow your mind.
Want more? I’ll have part 2 next week or check out the books below. Buying from this link supports my site.

Affiliate Link:


The Story Behind Thank You:

Thank You, watercolor on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2010

Thank You, watercolor on paper, ©ElishaDasenbrock2010

This is one of my favorite paintings I have done.

I went to Thailand, a place I’d been wanting to see for years.  In Thailand, when they say thank you, they place their hands in prayer position and bow slightly.

I kid you not, I went on a 3-hour boat tour.

It was really amazing. The food was delicious, the sites were thought-provoking. Rich butted up next to extreme poverty. The people were the best of all. They kept handing things to us and insisting we try this or that dish. It was peaceful and exciting all at the same time. They wanted us to love their country as much as they did.

We stopped at one of the Wats, or temples, and I noticed this adorable little girl. When I told her how cute she was, of course, she said thank you.  I saw the painting right then. I was more of a realistic painter at the time and had no idea how I could use the colors I saw, but I had to have the image. I asked her mother if I could take a photo and luckily, she didn’t think I was a creeper.

It took about a year before I found a book called Color Choices by Stephen Quiller which helped me learn how to use bright colors instead of true to life colors.

I love that painting and see the growth I accomplished every time I look at it. It is also the start of painting everyday situations which I think connect us all together. Yes, she could be saying thank you. She could be praying. She could be doing both. It is all about your personal interpretation.

I painted her arms a pale color because I wanted her body to resemble the stone of the statues in the Thai culture and religion, but I wanted her face and hands to show the life of the little girl she was that day.

This is also the first painting I did with a limited, airy background.


The Birth Of A Legend…

Or, why I started blogging. Ya know, whichever.

I love blogs in general. I love seeing a glimpse into people’s lives and knowing I’m not alone. I love reading how they react to the bad in life and celebrate the good. I tend to get in the grumpy, “I hate people,” mode, but blogs help bring me back to all the things I love about people. You don’t see their bad driving or poor customer service skills, you see their struggles with depression or the progress with their pregnancy. Yes. I really love mommy blogs. I am more attatched to complete stranger’s kids than I am to the idea of my own, theoretical, children.

Now, why did I start blogging or more to the point, an art blog? Why am I revamping it and lining up 104 posts for you?

My first art blog was on blogger. I started it right after I began art school. I had a personal blog and it was a natural progression.  I wanted to document my progress. I wanted to show the whole world what I was doing. I’ll get embarassing and admit, I wanted people to care about seeing my progress as much as I wanted to make that progression. That’s why I have all of those old posts still available.  There’s also a part of me that truly believes one day all these posts will be valuable insight for my biographers.  You have your delusions about fitting into those old jeans again and I have mine. Ok. (Just kidding, you are totalling going to rock those again and they will probably even be too big. Also, you look great the way you are, so don’t even worry about the size of your jeans. You’re more than a number on a tag.)

The next blog I hosted myself when I graduated and felt like I was really coming into the world as an artist. I don’t have any of those posts, because long story short, GoDaddy let an unauthorized person change my account without contacting me and wanted $300 to restore my site. Oh well.  No great loss to anyone but me and frankly, I don’t remember any of it enough to miss it.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what I want my legacy to be and this blog is definitely part of that.  I want to document my life as an artist. I want people to see that even if I never make it Kardashian rich, I have a life worth living.

I still want to document my progress.

I want to show you work I’m doing now and give you the opportunity to buy my work when it connects to you. How cool is that? To be able to connect to people through my work and they can get to know me and see how it was created too? I want to get to know people who like my work, which means you,  because that means we have something in common and we would probably like each other. I like connecting with people who like the same things I do. It’s fun. Even if that is the only thing we have in common.  I’m really an introvert, but I’m also so guilty of talking people’s ear off once we have a connection. My art and subsequently my art blog, is a way to make that connection faster.

I want to entertain people and have my voice heard. I think that’s pretty basic. I want to motivate you and inspire you and help you see, if you haven’t already, life is to be lived and that comes in all shapes and sizes. We can actually achieve our dreams and this blog will one day be proof that I did just that. I created my life and lived it on my own terms.  If you have figured that out, I want to be support for the days when it sucks and you feel like your not getting anywhere and you’ve taken two steps back.  Living against the grain is legit hard. We need to stick together. I got you, boo.

Now, why the revamp?

I’ll be real honest. I think my blog is boring. In the past, I’ve felt I need to be professional. This is my image and people’s first impression of me and I want to impress these people. You. I want to impress you. I want you to see me as funny and talented and worth buying from. I want you to like me and have my art in your home. That’s a very vulnerable position to be in. I’m not good at vulnerability. Especially in public. I’m shy and quiet with new people and my feelings are mine.  But I also love being who I am and authentic and real and flawed.

You see my dilemma. No one wants to be on a perpetual job interview or at a “meet the parents” dinner every day. I let my nerves get the better of me more often than not. A few times I’ve gotten comfortable and laid things out there, but mostly, I stay quiet or “professional.” Snore.

No one wants a “professional” artist. Yes, we need professional business practices, but no one wants an artist in a suit. Artists are who everyone else lives vicariously through. We are the people who dared to buck the system.  Or maybe that’s just me. I’m passionate and I need my blog to reflect that.  I get loud when I have an opinion and I get sassy.

You are forewarned. We have entered that part of the relationship where you won’t be able to get me to shut up and you long for the quiet girl you met long ago. What happened to her? I shoved her out of the RV and took off, that’s what happened.

I’mma Let The Poor Artist Myth Finish, But…

It’s wrong.

Yes, some of the best artists ever  were poor artists and died penniless, but can we just stop?

Do you know why these people died penniless? They weren’t appreciated. People didn’t recognize genius when it was right in front of them. How could they? That’s part of why it’s genius. No one else can see it without a lot of help. Geniuses are light years ahead of everyone else and as a species of habit and comfort, they have to pull the rest of us, kicking and screaming, into the future.

You and I only know about these destitute artists because they were so brilliant their ideas and works outlasted everyone else generations over.

Or they died penniless because they lived in terrible times or probably didn’t save money when they were in favor. Kind of like star atheletes of today, yet, we value them.

I mean, look at what happened to some of these people.  Here and here. Almost none of those people died poor because their art wasn’t good or didn’t sell. They had real problems.  Wars destroyed their economy or they spent every dime defending themselves for the “crime” of being gay. Come on.  They could have just been bad with money, but that would be true with any career they had.

You don’t hear about the artists who have been paid brilliantly while the greats have withered in despair. But we’ll get to artists’ emotional states in another post, mmkay.

For every Manet who didn’t treat his syphilis (surprisingly, that’s pretty common among those randy painters), there were others you never heard of who made buckets of money. The Kinkade of yesteryear, if you will.  In 500 years, no one will remember Kinkade, but we’ve all seen his mall kiosks.  I mean, I just spelled his name two different ways and neither were correct. If it wasn’t for Google, we’d have already forgotten. Just saying.

It doesn’t help that when you google “most successful artists of all time,” the art and impact is what is tallied and not the income they made when they were alive. That’s absurdly counterinuitive. Should we care about making a difference or making money?

Even when they’ve died penniless though, many have lived a life full of riches and surrounded by royalty. I’m a bit okay with living it up while I’m alive and not having anything to take with me.

So now that have covered that, let’s get into why today is the best time to be an artist.

Every. Single. Thing. You looked at today had an artist involved in the making.

No joke.

You know how we have advertisements shoved in our faces 24/7? Artists helped create those. Storyboard artists help with conceptualizing commercials and tv shows. Websites? Artists, or graphic designers as they are commonly called, created that.  TV shows? Storyboard artists.

Can we have a moment of silence for the artists who create every single form of entertainment we all take for granted every day of our lives? Or how about the artists who create art to hand on the walls of those fictional homes on your favorite show? The costume designers. The make-up artists. The writers. Game developers.

They all fight for our pleasure. They all create for our consumption.

Interior designers, bakers. Your phone had to have someone design the look of it. That’s an artist.

Y’all. We’re everywhere.

We have untold opportunities for careers.

Are we all going to be the next Da Vinci? No. If the last 500 years have anything to say, none of us will be.

We can make a living though.

Please stop taking us for granted and telling artists their jobs are literally worthless. We help make this world worth looking at.

If you buy fine art from artists you know, you’ll help us all. If you buy mass produced prints from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, yes, an artist gets paid a percentage, but your friend who is busting their butt to get off the ground suffers. There will always be people who buy those prints. You won’t always know the artist when you can afford their work.

Can you imagine being the person who bought the first few Picasso’s?

We don’t all want to be Da Vinci. Some of us just want to be appreciated while we are alive.

This Guy Spray Paints Flea Market Finds. You Won’t Believe What He Does Next!

Can we talk?

I mean, really talk?

You may know, if you look slightly to your right, I wrote a book on how to buy art. Part of that very short book is discussing ways on not getting ripped off.   Ask about materials, is there are guarantee, etc. I realized tonight, I need to expand on this topic.

There are so many “artists” out there who are just stealing other people’s work. The internet makes it easy. I’m not talking about seeing an image or a painting and reproducing it with some skill in order to sell it and pass it off as your own, original, idea. I’m talking about people flat out stealing another’s art and not even pretending it’s their own. Then, then, then, we have people paying gobs of money for something they KNOW isn’t an original work of art and takes no artistic talent to pull it off.

We have two intsagram “artists.” We have the guy who sells other people’s Instagram photos for more than my college tuition all because he adds a comment. Somehow a court said he was allowed to do this. I don’t know which law they were reading, but uh, there it is.

I don’t want to talk about him though.

I want to talk about the self-proclaimed “most famous artist.”

Let’s take a moment to collectively gag, mmmkay. I mean, not to be mean, but we all know, if you have to tell people you’re cool, you probably aren’t. Except, he is famous, kind of. He’s more famous now that I’m writing this because 5 more people know about him.

He takes original art work he buys from flea markets, adds some paint to them, then resells them for hundreds of dollars. Really. Like, so much dollars.

There are two problems with this, but first I want to say, I can’t really hate on him. He is doing something all artists should do. He thinks about what’s going to be popular and what will trend and how it will be received. Unfortunately, he’s missing the other half of the equation. Authenticity. Yet, people are spending $750 on one of his “paintings” instead of buying an actual, original work for $750. From an artist who uses the tears of her life’s failures instead of water to mix her paints…. I mean. That’s not me. What are you talking about? Can we focus, please?

That’s what I call getting ripped off. They are literally buying a marketing scheme. A brilliant one, but a marketing scheme none the less.

Here’s how copyright law works: If you take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own without permission, you’re stealing.

The laws are very tricky, but that’s really the basics.

This guy is buying a piece of work another artist did, adding a splash of paint, and calling it his own. Maybe he can get away with it by claiming he’s parodying the work, although I’d argue it is more satire, but I’m biased.

I don’t know.

The only thing I do know is the people who are buying it are not buying an original work of that artist. They are buying an original work of another artist, that he altered.

Personally, I’d tell them to go to the flea market, buy some spray paint, make their own. It’s nothing more than a Pinterest project.

Sure, it makes them smile and they are probably getting their money’s worth of smiles. However, I’m sure they could find an original work from another artist for the same price and be just as happy. They’d also support original visual artists instead of someone piggy backing on someone else’s hard work.

Aren’t we beat up enough? We’re all starving. No one takes us seriously. We can’t even get a degree without hearing about how dumb we are. We literally create the world around you, but, it seems, no one cares. Unless someone is stealing the work and adding one minor change. Then it’s all, “Take my money, artists are great.”

No respect, I tell ya.

Even if he says, well, they are junk and no one likes them. That’s why they are at the flea market. He’s improving them, for crying out loud. That’s not for him to decide. That’s for the original artist to decide.


Why doesn’t he just paint his own kitschy scenes and then “dip” them in paint? Oh, right. He can’t.

All that education and practice, that’s too hard. That takes too long.

So my open letter to all those people knowingly shelling out their cash to these thieves:

Don’t you get tired of buying fake crap? Not just fake art, but high-end clothes made in sweat shops. Fake food that doesn’t mold, even after years of exposure. Why encourage that in the art world?

You don’t have to buy my art, but please support an original artist and not a fraud.

6 Reasons Rothko Is Not A Joke.

Rothko, Picasso, Pollock.

Those poor guys. So misunderstood by the masses. I, and I’m sure you, have heard over and over how bad these artists are and a kid could do it, etc. Maybe even said it yourself. I know I hated Picasso. His figures were grotesque.

I saw a meme an artist created about his work versus a Rothko. Obviously, he was saying his work was more skilled than a Rothko and therefore, underrated.  The artist in question is very talented. Yet, it blows my mind he would not only compare himself to a Rothko, but find Rothko lacking.

No one can argue Morgan is anything but exceptionally talented, as well as patient beyond measure. However, the argument that his drawing is greater than a Rothko is, I’m going to say it so hold on, absurd.

I know. That was rough, but we got through it.

Let me explain my position. Just set the pitchforks in the corner for a minute.

  1. No one was doing what Rothko did when he was doing it. His work changed the game. People were doing abstract work, they were even doing blocks of color in their abstract. Rothko took the next step. He built on what was before him and created something new. He created the next step. He changed the field of abstract art forever.  That takes genius..

    , you actually need another reason?
  2.  He used color and color alone to express emotions. He expressed them so well people have broken down in tears at the sight of his work. I don’t know about anyone else, but I dream of making people cry moving people to tears with my art. To touch someone so deeply by mere color placement, genius..

    Well, aren’t you a greedy little minx.
  3. Rothko, as the other two artists I mentioned, absolutely cannot be appreciated from a picture online or in a book. Rothko wanted people to view his massive paintings from 18 inches so the work enveloped them. If you don’t see at least one in person, you will not get it. You may not get it even then, but at least, give it a fair chance.
  4. To add to my first reason, technical skill is taught. If someone does perfectly realistic drawings, the skill is impressive, but where is the art? Where is the style? What takes it to the next step? What engages people? I am constantly impressed by the skill and patience it takes to do realistic art. But, and this is a big but, I cannot lie, if you don’t take it to the next level, you cannot compare yourself to someone who changed the game.
  5.  Rothko’s work was controversial and has proven the test of time. He was a risk taker, changing and developing his work until he found his voice.  He grew as an artist and went beyond what people thought art should be. Yeah, “anyone could do it” now. Before he did it? Nope. No one thought to, no one was brave enough. Do I need to say it? Genius.
  6. Rothko is dead. There are no more to be created. Supply, meet demand.

So, in conclusion: he’s a genius, his work touches people’s souls, he’s dead. I guess that’s technically only 3 reasons.

What do you think? Is this enough? Am I wrong?



Why I Don’t Agree With “Inspiration Is For Amateurs.”

At least, not entirely.

I’ve been having this discussion since art school. Mostly with kids in art school who learned simply to parrot what sounded cool instead of considering what it actually meant.  After one such occasion, when a girl snobbishly used that quote to argue a point I had made, I replied:

Waiting to be inspired is for amateurs, being inspired is not.


You may ask what the difference is and I’ll tell you. If you are too cool to be inspired by the wonders of life, what good are you? Seriously? What good as a human, especially as an artist, are you? I hope I never lose my desire to be inspired. I’ve never understood those sad souls who go around too hip to be blown away by something or so tragically serious they can’t find joy in something decidedly unhip.

In that same class, the one with the snobby girl, the teacher tried telling us we all had to be pretentious to be artists. Gag me with a flipping spoon. He actually argued what the definition of pretentious was after I showed him the meaning. From Webster. The rest of the class seemed to buy it, but that’s another story.

It seems to be this kind of people who take the quote to mean what it doesn’t. Too serious. They read it as validation of their too coolness.

This quote came up a few days ago to argue against artist’s block. The person actually said it doesn’t exist. They used this article to back their claim. It’s a great article and to be fair, the quote is used as the headline. However, I believe artist block exists 100%.  One may never experience it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. One may use it as an excuse for being lazy, but that doesn’t mean another doesn’t actually experience the real thing.  I’m not the only one. As I mentioned before, Carol Marine wrote a whole chapter about it.  Yes, a daily habit helped her out of it, but that doesn’t mean she was lazy before.

That doesn’t mean she was waiting to be inspired. The article itself has the following quote as well:

“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you didn’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”

Again, what is the point of painting if I’m not inspired by things around me? Do you honestly believe Monet wasn’t inspired by the light on the hay stacks? I don’t wait to be inspired. I don’t sit around wringing my hands. I go after inspiration with a club. If I’m not inspired by my subject, I get inspired by the colors I use. Or the surface I paint on or the size I paint.

I’ve struggled with my relationship with art for years, but there is always something to love about it. That’s why I’ve fought so hard for it.

Daily habits are wonderful and they do help with artist’s block, but that doesn’t mean the block doesn’t exist.  That doesn’t mean depression or anxiety is not real, if that is stopping you from creating. It just means you have to find a way to work around it.  Any way that works for you is the b est way. I went to my  studio door every day for a year. I couldn’t walk through it because of the anxiety I experienced.  Earlier this year, I just couldn’t imagine still being an artist. But here I am.

I think this article proves block does exist and daily habits are one, great way to deal with it.

I can’t wait to find a daily habit that works for me. If there is one. I try new ones out all the time. Do you have one? What is it? Have you had artist’s block? Do you think it is fake?

What Not To Do When Dating An Artist:

Everyone has an opinion. We all know this. I’m either told I’ll never make it or people gush on a regular basis. There’s never an in between. No one says, “Meh, you’re okay.” or, “You can earn a moderate income doing that.” Although, I have gotten a couple, “You’re not my taste,” which is a polite way of saying, “Let’s not ever talk about this again.”

If I can be really honest though, I don’t care if someone thinks all artists are starving and that I’ll never make it. If I could have happily made it in any other profession, I would have. I have no choice but to try. That opinion is irrelevant. Not in a rude way, just in an I-have-an-itch-and-you-telling-me-I-will-starve-if-I-scratch-it-will-not-make-it-itch-less kind of  way.

After I decided to become a professional artist, that’s when things really became interesting. Before, almost everyone was supportive of the skill; after, not so much.

Suddenly it is a free-for-all and no one even has a clue about art or the art world.

I’ve had advice from everything to how I should work, what size I should paint, to what I should paint.

As if art isn’t extremely personal.

I want to preface the following story by saying, we all may put our foot in our mouths at one time or another. I just happened to be on the receiving end so I’m sharing a funny thing that happened, as a slight warning.

I knew this guy for a couple of months. Maybe two, but we didn’t speak often or long. We spent probably less than 20 hours in contact with one another, including dates. That’s less than half a work week. Think about how comfortable you feel with someone half-way through your first week at a job.

Before dinner one time, we walked by the gallery that represents me and I showed him, from the sidewalk, some of my art.

He was polite, but we didn’t really discuss any details. Weeks go by where we chat here and there and go on a couple more dates.

I get a text, “Why didn’t you tell me about your artwork?”

“What do you mean?” I replied, “I showed you my paintings at the gallery.”

“Your older stuff.”

“The ones you could see were my older stuff.”

“You should go back to that style. Go back to the basics.”

“I purposely chose to move away from that style.”

“Why? You shouldn’t. Go back to the basics.”

I give him a condensed list of reasons why I do what I do.  (Why would anyone stick with the basics? There’s no fun in that. I learned the rules so I could break them.)

“Well, you are now one of my favorite artists so you need to go back to the basics. You need to prove me right.”

Yes, really. Someone I barely knew actually told me not only how I should paint, disregarded my reasoning for painting my way, but also told me I needed to do it because he said so and he knew more about art than I do. Which, honestly, could be, but he definitely doesn’t know more about my art than I do, surely.

We didn’t speak again for a few weeks when I received a text asking if I paint horses.

“No,” I replied, “I really don’t like to paint horses.”

He kept on marching though. “I have a great idea, you should paint Derby horses and sell them. It will be HUGE! I’ll take the photos and you can keep all the money.”

Me: “…….”

I shortened this exchange for brevity.

I understand people want to be helpful. I know people are worried.

What I don’t know is, why on Earth people with no background in art try to immediately take over my career. He’s not the first and won’t be the last. I don’t want to commodify the subject of my art. Sure, I’ll make prints and merchandise with art I’ve created, but no, I will not create for the sole purpose of making money. If I wanted a get rich quick scheme, there are much easier ways to go about it. If I hate what I paint, I may as well work at any job. I’m not going to paint things with the idea of selling them to people who like those things. I’m going to paint what I care about and sell it to people who care about those things too.  The difference is subtle, but it’s there and it involves intent. Very important.

So, when you have someone in your life that is an artist, please don’t:

  • Tell them what they should paint to make a lot of money. Unless they ask. Perhaps, try helping them find ways to sell what they are already painting.
  • Tell them they won’t make any money. Ever.  You don’t know what you are talking about and you just look unsupportive. There are a lot of ways for artists to make money. They may never drive a fancy car, but they probably aren’t into that anyway if they chose fine art as a profession. If someone you care about has decided to become an artist and you really feel the urge to say this one, please look up professional artists and research. This is actually a legitimate career choice. You may change your mind and find great examples to use when they are having a rough time. Like when someone else, who definitely isn’t you because you would never, tells them they’ll starve.
  • Tell them you don’t get it. That usually comes across as dismissive. Ask questions. Ask them what they want to express or convey to the audience. Ask them their intent. Even if you still don’t “get it” you may learn more about them and their art. Worse case, you made them think more deeply about their art. You don’t need to get it, but if you want to get it, they will want to help you get it.
  • Tell them to paint in any other style. An artist’s style is very personal. It takes a long time to achieve and it is usually deliberate and constantly evolving. Art cannot move forward if all art is the same.
  • Tell them how often to paint. Yeah, a daily practice is best, but we all need down time. They may work better at night or in the morning. Even if it looks like I’m not doing anything, I could be working through an issue in my head that I can’t work out on the painting. You would think I’m just sitting around. What you think their art career should look like is not necessarily what it looks like. Especially if you have no experience being an artist.
  • If you knowingly date an artist, don’t expect them to magically not be an artist just because you are over the experience. Just go. It’s okay, they have their art. They will be fine. Shoot, your leaving may be the emotional spark they need to paint their most wonderful work yet. You kind of owe it to them anyway since you were just dating them because you thought it would be fun to date an artist.
  • If you can’t turn your criticism into something helpful, don’t say it. Critique is one thing, putting down someone you claim to care about, that’s different. I’d also like to add, sometimes, an artist has to go through some bad art to get to the good art. Especially if they are trying something new. People could not see where Picasso was going with his work until he got there. He may have known, but no one else could have. Just because you don’t like that stop in the journey, doesn’t mean it is their final destination.

More things you can do:

  • Ask them if they need help. If you have time and the inclination that is. Artists have to wear a lot of hats. They won’t be good at all the things they need to do. If you have expertise in one of those areas, by all means, offer to help with that. They may be feeling overwhelmed and need someone to help back envelopes.
  • Give them space. If they work from home, don’t text them midday and tell them to throw a load of wash in. Or yell down the stairs to toss it in the dryer. Would you make someone come home from work to do that? I’m not saying you can’t have a system or have a clean underwear emergency once in a while. I’m saying, don’t interrupt them with chores. It seems like you don’t take their work seriously and if an artist is in the flow, it is very frustrating to be pulled out of the elusive, beautiful experience. If I’m working from home, I’m more than happy to do chores while I’m waiting for paint to dry or puttering around while a thought works its way through my brain. I’m actually writing this at the laundromat. Just don’t expect me to drop everything for laundry, please. Dishes are not more important than my art. Ever. If you disagree, just go.
  • Reassure them when they are having one of those days where they feel their art is the worst thing on the planet.  Tell them which piece you love the most and why.  Tell them how much you enjoy watching them work or whatever feelings their work brings out in you.  It may not seem like it makes a difference immediately, but it does make a difference. It’s like yeast, you have to let it rise.