How I Ended Up At Art School

Before I was in high school I didn’t even realize art was a career. I don’t even know if I knew anything about the masters. I’m sure I heard of them, I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, after all, but I don’t know if I realized that was their actual job.

I hit high school thinking I would take all the hard classes and let my nerd flag fly.  Luckily, we had to take a quarter of art and my teacher wanted me to sign up for his full class the next year.

An adult telling me I was good at something and wanting me to take their class???? Call me Sonic the Hedgehog because I zoomed my way into that art class.

I decided I wanted to be an artist. I even had the two schools picked out, the American Academy of Art or THE Art Institute of Chicago.

I started taking some outside classes and worked really hard on a portfolio. I went to college day and waited in line for at least an hour and a half with my Grandma and my high school boyfriend to hear what the Gods at THE Art Institute had to say.

They literally just told me I needed better paper and I should get it from Dick Blick. I did get it from Dick Blick. I thought their silence on my work just meant it was so bad they couldn’t find anything nice to say about it. Frankly, that still could have been the case. I haven’t seen any of the drawings since then.  Crushed, I thought, that’s it. There’s no way I can be an artist now.

I left thinking I would just do something else and I tried a few things out. Little did I know rejection is just the first step to awesome.

Fast forward to when I was 23. I did a drawing and showed my co-worker. She was so excited she wanted to sell prints on the Magnificent Mile. That boosted my confidence and we happened to talk with temps from an ad agency every day. I talked it over with one and he explained the differences between THE Art Institute and the Academy and I made my decision pretty much right there. I went and looked at the Institute just to make sure, but I’d already known, if I was going to art school, it was the Academy.

After a quick interview, I was accepted. Although, I didn’t know it until after orientation when they called to ask why I wasn’t there. I’d moved and my acceptance letter was never forwarded. Thanks, Chicago Postal System.

The rest is history. Or at least another blog post. If it wasn’t for my co-worker’s support and excitement and a chance job which put me in contact with artists, I may never have gone to art school.

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.


Few And Far Between

That will be my posting style for the foreseeable future. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m working on a very big project, literally and figuratively. You can read more about it on my Patreon site. I’m working on uploading a video there are well.

Below is a WIP of the first painting in a series on domestic violence. So, trigger warning.

There are two main reasons I am not posting about this work on my website. First, I recognize most people who come to my page do not want to see images of domestic violence. They want to see funny animals or poorly drawn comics, or things about the RV.  Second, I want to unveil this work as one large show because I feel it will have the most impact. That being said, I am showing the work on Patreon and once I have shown the work publicly, I will post each Patreon post here as a blog post. At least that is my plan.

If you would like to support this project, please go to my Patreon page.


Sarah Elisha Dasenbrock 2015

Sarah WIP, 4′ x 3′, watercolor on claybord, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Latest Watercolor Paintings

Here are most of the paintings I completed over July and August. I have a few left to edit.  The paintings for sale are all $125 and can be collected through The Bowery Art Gallery.  They have a few other paintings too, although they sell fast, so hurry. Christmas is coming.


TheresAlwaysOne “There’s Always One,” watercolor on claybord, 5″ x 7″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Part of my Animals Taking Selfies series.



“Gary,” watercolor on claybord, 14″ x 11″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Private Collection.



“Apalach Palm Trees 3,” watercolor on claybord, 7″ x 5″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.


“Big Bird,” watercolor on claybord, 7″ x 5″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Or what I like to call, “You don’t exactly look the same as you did in highschool, either, Susan.” Part of my Disappointed Animal Series.
For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.

Side Eye

“Side-Eye,” watercolor on claybord, 5″ x 7″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Part of my Disappointed Animals series. This giraffe knows you’re lying, but will let you finish.
For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.


“Stop And Smell The Flowers,” watercolor on claybord, 5″ x 7″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015
For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.


MariesEagle“Marie’s Eagle,” watercolor on claybord, 5″ x 7″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Part of my Disappointed Animals series.
For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.




“How’s My Hair?” watercolor on claybord, 7″ x 5″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Part of my Animals Taking Selfies series. I didn’t want to say anything, but it’s a mess, Darryl.
For  sale at The Bowery Art Gallery .



“Mmhmm,” watercolor on claybord, 7″ x 5″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

Part of my Disappointed Animal series. This giraffe looks down her nose at you and wants you to stop wasting her time, Karen. She’s sassy like that.
For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.


“Fennec Fox,” watercolor on claybord, 5″ x 7″, ©ElishaDasenbrock2015

For sale at The Bowery Art Gallery.

30 Paintings In 30 Days?

For January, I painted 19 paintings. Whew. Only 2 were completely awful, in my opinion.

It was exhausting and I look forward to beating that record the next time the challenge comes around.

A couple things I learned:

  • It is really difficult to find something to paint after the 10th painting so stock up on images. I will spend the next few months taking photos every day so I’m prepared for next time.
  • A bad painting really isn’t anything to be scared of, in fact, you’ll probably have much fewer truly awful paintings than you would ever imagine.

I would love to show you my final paintings, but my new  card reader has already turned traitor and is in the trash. It appears I need to either send my camera a USB repair or buy several card readers to have on hand. This is on the heels of my laptop charger biting the dust.

Oh well, sometimes I just take after Gunnar and break everything I touch.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you can see some cell phone pictures of the paintings.

A New Year, A New Home

I am extremely excited to announce I am now a member of The Bowery Gallery in Apalachicola, Florida.

Although, I am sadden to split with Cafe Con Leche, as they are so wonderful and supportive and in my experience really great to work with. They also sold two of my paintings over the last year, which was fantastic and exactly what I needed.  I’ll still continue to get my coffee there most days, as well as some really delicious food and daydream about their coffee and food when I’m not in Apalach. Unfortunately, and understandably, they couldn’t display my larger pieces so I felt my art would be better suited in a gallery setting for now. I do hope to work something out in the future because I really loved having my work there. I really can’t say enough nice things about the café. I’d be there day and night if they were open that often. I actually find myself disappointed most days when I realize it is past closing time and the opportunity to hang out there has gone for the day.

As for The Bowery,  I also seem to fail to run out of good things to say about this place.

Last February, I believe, I was in Sopchoppy, Florida. I stayed at a hunter camp that had some permanent residents. They were nice enough, but the kids were unruly. I had another neighbor that left a very bright light on all night long. It shone in my window, right through the Gayfield Design curtains we’d brought, at the time. All that to say, the first place I boondocked, my first real adventure was a total bust. I was grumpy one night and decided I was just going to do what one who lives in a house one wheels does in this situation. Drive away.

I had heard about this wonderful, RV friendly, artsy town. Sounded too good to be true……but what if it was true?

(Side note, those 3 little words, “but what if…” are probably my life’s motto. But what if it does work, But what if it is possible, but what if I can do it? SMH, they get me into more trouble and more wonder than any other 3 words I’ve ever uttered.)

I decided, to heck with it. I wanted a good breakfast and I was gonna get it, even if I had to drive over an hour to find it.  So to Apalach I went.

The worst that could happen was I’d spend a few hours and off I’d go on my merry little way.

But like it I did.

I first went to Caroline’s for breakfast and I was not disappointed. An adventure healing view with some ridiculously good bacon. MMMMM bacon.

After that I made my way over to the public parking, thinking I’d camp there for the night if I liked it. I started walking. I found myself in a small art gallery, not The Bowery, I’m getting there.  A very nice woman and I chatted for awhile and I believe she sent me to The Bowery. Somehow I ended up there next. I met David and Ginny and I was instantly charmed. Within just a few minutes of that meeting I knew I didn’t want to leave.  They told about the delicious food at The Pig’s deli, (that would be The Piggly Wiggly) and the part of town I would call my home for several weeks.  It was the first and so far only, gallery I could see myself being a part of.

I didn’t have any of my larger pieces, nor did I think I would have the out put a gallery would require so I only half heartedly followed up with the prospect of joining. I did, however, continue visiting the gallery and through serendipity met another artist represented by the gallery who really encouraged me to join.

I was also lucky enough to find Cafe Con Leche and start a great partnership with them.

And that brings us to 2015 and a new home for my art. I’m looking forward to seeing what this new partnership brings.

This Is An Art Blog, You Say?

Well, then I better add some art.

pilot plane

The Pilot, watercolor on claybord, ©Elisha Dasenbrock 2014

Private Collection

I finished The Pilot a few months back. I can’t remember the type of plane, but it is from WWII.  Here it is framed and ready for its home. I can’t remember the exact dimensions so I thought I would leave the surrounding area for scale.

I have not even watched the videos for the sketchbook class since week 2. I believe I can view them at any time, forever, though. I have done a few sketches since the start though. While I have some from the second week, I want to show you  my baby animal sketches. That’s really all I want to draw right now.  I have used the internet for other things and haven’t really had the data to watch a bunch of videos, even if I felt like it. I’m going to try to get at least one week’s worth in soon though.  All sketches ©Elisha Dasenbrock 2014

babygiraffeBaby Giraffe

babyseal Baby Seal and Sleeping Gunnar

I did these two while I waited for my niece and her new love interest. They were running late. Gunnar was so tired he didn’t even wake up when Beasley started barking at the car pulling up. He waited until the niece was almost in the RV. Some fierce warrior.


 Baby Pig

I love a good piglet. Who doesn’t? That’s a cold person.

Painter’s Block

I still haven’t touched the elephants and the owl. I keep them on my scanner at work, hoping to figure out what to do next if I stare at them long enough.


Today, I brought in the giraffes and hummingbird to show a consultant to the company.

I sat the paintings on my scanner as well. I am hoping for one of two things:


  1. By seeing all four paintings together, maybe I can see how to get the unfinished two on the same level as the finished two. 
  2. Get motivation to finish the latest two from the finished two.


Painter's Block

It may be working.


I have been working on these two paintings for a little while now. I’m not very happy with either one.


Elephants, paint, ©ElishaDasenbrock2013



The Elephants are just a little dull for me, but every time I work on it it seems to get more dull.  I stopped working on them, hoping time would convince me to finish. A couple of weeks later I started The Owl.



owl, paint, ©ElishaDasenbrock2013


The Owl is much brighter, but again, the more I work on it the less happy I am. I used pen and ink on the drawing. I wish I hadn’t.  I may go back to The Elephants later this week.




Giraffes 5″ X 7″ Watercolor on Claybord 2013 $100.00                       

I have moved on to smaller paintings for the moment. Mostly for mental reasons. I wanted to feel like I was actually accomplishing something. The smaller sizes also allow me to experiment and fail without investing a lot of time. If I like something I can add it to a bigger painting later.

I also want a few pieces of more affordable work.  These are also a part of the larger project I was alluding to in my welcome post.  Wink, wink.

I really love Claybord. It makes me very happy.  This piece will be on available for purchase soon.




Commission – Tara

I know what you are thinking. “Elisha, there’s not a lot of art on your art blog.”


I have actually finished 3 paintings this year so far and I have a few in progress. Unfortunately, I’m having issues with my camera connecting to my computer so really good photos are hard to come by.

However, I did a commission a few weeks ago and the only picture I have of the final image is on my cell phone.  I thought I could at least share that one with you.

CommissionTara 5″ X 7″ Watercolor On Paper – 2013