A “Stable Environment” Tutorial

I’m sorry, but my internet went down yesterday and it took them til late last night to get it back up and running, so the blog post is late…

A Stable Environment Graphite Drawing

My latest piece of art work is of a horse in a stable. I thought the title I gave this piece “Stable Environment” was perfect considering the last few weeks of dealing with a situation in my life and career as an Artist. You can read about it here and here if you are so inclined. But enough of that! In this blog post I would like to share with you some of my tips, tricks and techniques that I used to do this Realism drawing of a horse and a stable. So let’s get started!

The Lay-In

Before I do any drawing in realism I make sure that I do an accurate lay-in (or initial sketch of the subject). This is so important if you want your finished piece to be accurate. You will have a much more difficult or nearly impossible time getting a realistic finished piece if your lay-in is not well done.

If you are a beginner, feel free to use a light box, or trace the image for accuracy. If you are a skilled artist and want to produce realism more quickly you too can utilize a light box or trace your image. Don’t fall victim to the “that’s cheating” mentality when it comes to using tools to help you. There is no such thing as cheating in Art unless you are just stealing someone else’s work and claiming it as your own, which is also stealing. If you love to just draw your image in free-hand that’s great. I use both methods depending on mood and time. Below is a picture of my lay-in for “Stable Environment” and as you can see I draw as much detail as possible to make sure my proportions and perspective is correct before I start on any details.

Step 1


“Stable Environment” Lay-In

To do my lay-in I usually select an HB or a B graphite pencil. This way I can much more easily erase any lines I don’t want or need. I use Blick Studio graphite pencils. They have a nice range of leads and they are of good quality at a reasonable price.

After I do the lay-in I then use a kneadable eraser and pounce it on the lines to lighten them. You will find a kneadable eraser a wonderful tool for other techniques as well.

Step 2

The next step is to start on the details. I usually will start in the upper left corner or the eye of the subject depending on what I am drawing. Here I started on the wood grain to be sure I could get it to look as much like real wood as I possibly could.

I started with a 2H graphite pencil to lightly work in the grain of the wood. Then I used an HB over the top of the 2H pencil. After I was happy with the value I took a cotton swab and blended.  This left the grain marks and gave a lighter value on the rest of the area. Then in some areas I would work over the grain marks again and deepen values on the board where it was needed. I worked on one board at a time this way.

Once I was happy with the way the wood grain was looking I moved on to the horses eye and the darkest values on the face. I tend to want to get the darkest values in so that I can gauge the rest of the piece accordingly. To work in realism it is a must to get your values correct. By this I mean your lights, darks and mid-tones. Now this does not mean that if you have a reference photo that is too dark or the lights are to harsh that you can’t change them. But it does mean that if you change one value, the others have to follow suit. Realism is all about adding dimension and detail to your piece and making it look believable. Having a good quality reference is also very important; you can only draw the detail that you can see.

Step 3

Drawing Supplies.jpg

Drawing Supplies

Still paying close attention to my reference photo, I use the appropriate pencil (I have a range of pencils from 6H-6B and a carbon pencil for the blacks) to work in my lights and darks and blend out with the cotton swab where it’s needed. To lighten an area such as the reflection on the metal hinges or the glint in the eye, I use the kneadable eraser or the narrow eraser on a mechanical pencil.


Here are some pictures of my progress as I worked on this piece getting in the details including the nails in the wood, hinges, the tree to the right with the leaves, the texture of the wood, tree trunk, metal hinges and so on.

Step 4

After working in all of the stable and horse I worked in the tree and leaves on the far right. For my final work I checked my values to be sure I was happy with them an touched up any areas I felt needed more detail such as darkening shadows and gaps in the wood boards, etc. Then of course adding the copyright mark and name to my final piece.


“Stable Environment”

 I work on Strathmore paper or Canson Paper most of the time. This piece was done on Strathmore paper. The finished piece is 8″x10″ but I worked on 11″x14″ paper. This allows me to have more matting and framing options. I can easily cut away any excess paper to fit a smaller frame but I have the option to use a larger one.

Was This Tutorial Helpful

So tell me what you think! Do you need more details? Was this tutorial helpful? Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below or contact me if you would like any more information.

Do you like to work in realism? If so, what are some of your tips, tricks and techniques? Let’s help each other grow in our knowledge and skill and support each other as Artists!

This piece is available for purchase. Just click here for more information.


Joining Your Local Art Community

The Local Art Community

Do you have a local art community close to you? If so, I highly suggest getting involved! Yes, there may be rumors about this or that and you may think the local gallery is not “your thing” but it is a great place to meet fellow Artists from all mediums and skill levels. Don’t listen to the rumors. Get involved and see for yourself the things you can learn and the people you will meet.

I joined our local art gallery not too long ago and decided to be a volunteer there once a week. Because of my membership I have been able to bring some of my art pieces in to sell and also some of my jewelry pieces. I don’t have huge expectations that I am going to make a living selling from the gallery but the exposure has been very good.

While working at the gallery I get to meet people interested in art. When I introduce myself some people actually say, “Are you the Artist that did the cat and horses, oh and the rooster?” It is so nice to have your name associated with your art.


Three of the art pieces for sale, on display at the gallery

A Wonderful Evening

Just last evening was a private reception at the gallery for the Small Works Exhibit. I didn’t have time to enter this show but I did receive an invitation to the private reception. I was excited with anticipation of meeting some of my fellow local Artists and being able to hear an Art Exhibit Judge do his thing.

My husband came as my guest (of course) and we had just an amazing time. I learned so much from the Judge of the show. He was very informative sharing with us the reasons behind his choices for awards. He also brought a piece that he had done (a still life painting) and shared it with us. I learned so much from him and from some of the questions posed by fellow Artists.

Later in the Evening

After the awards were given out we had a chance to mingle and look again at all of the art pieces that were entered. It was wonderful to hear what fellow Artists had to say about certain pieces. There were so many wonderful works to look at.

Especially interesting to many of us was the paintings of a young man from Toledo, Ohio. Not only were they interesting still life pieces the size of his work was absolutely astonishing! He had entered four pieces, each being 1 inch by 1 inch! Yes, you read that right, they were one inch square! The detail was impeccable! My hubby and I went over to take a closer look and to see which one of his pieces placed in the show.

A Closer Look

Meanwhile another couple were looking at the same pieces and so we struck up a conversation with them. I knew who they were since they both are well-known in the local art community and very talented in their own right. As we were talking about the pieces and questioning how on earth he could paint such detail so small the young man came up and gave us each a sterling silver magnifying glass to look closely at his paintings.

mag glassWow, the detail when seen through the magnifying glass was just stupendous! I asked if he worked under a magnifying glass and he said, “No, that’s usually not necessary for me.” So I asked him why he chose to work so small. “I want to break into the art world as a career. As you know it is a very competitive business. So I thought, well I am going to do something no one else is doing, he explained. He really wants to make a living with his art and found a niche for himself!

Back to the “Other Couple”

Gallery inside

A shot of the our local Gallery

My husband (Jim) and I continued conversing with the couple standing with us and looking at these tiny works of art. Eventually, the gentleman says to me, “So what do you do, are you a painter too?” So, I was able to tell him a bit about my work and my Jim told him that I had a few pieces in the store (of the gallery). Later on, the gentleman (his name is also Jim, so as to not totally confuse you I will call him gentleman) says to me, “Well let’s go take a look at your work!”

Of course I obliged, and walked with him to the back of the gallery to the little store area we have there and showed him the pieces (pictured above). He turns to me and says, “I was just talking to someone and she was telling me about this piece, its amazing, look at those eyes!” He was pointing at my colored pencil piece titled Jasper, which is a rendering of a cat I had. He said, “How do you do that?” Inside I was thinking the same about his work. We had a wonderful exchange of techniques, mediums and how he made a living doing his art. He then stepped back a bit and told my husband, “You can just feel the fur from back here (referring to Jasper).”

So the two Jims’ struck up a conversation and they both had so much in common. Both from the north, both were in the car business for years; they are even the same age, lol!

Artists Unite

I was able to converse with Jane, his wife and we shared also some commonality. She does beautiful work as a weaver of pine needle baskets. She has won several awards for her work as well as her husband. We ended the night exchanging cards and received an invite to come out to their home to play croquet. If you only knew how long it has been since I played croquet! I used to adore that game.

We also had the pleasure to meet some other art enthusiasts, Artists, and gallery committee members. We were also able to speak to a man that we met when we visited this area looking for a home to purchase. He remembered us as well and we were able to get reacquainted with him. He is an Artist and business owner with a beautiful Art Gallery and eatery. The atmosphere is lovely with art all around including on the tables! And the food is wonderful. Jim and I had a wonderful time and are excited to get to know our art community even better. We will be visiting our local theatre next! They are having a free movie night soon and have some wonderful live performances there.

Get Involved!

Gallery outsideSo, if you too are longing to get into the art world, and possibly even make a living at it, I highly suggest getting involved in you local community,  its businesses and your local art community!

You will strike up friendships, you will learn new things, you will surround yourself with positive energy, you will be encouraged and you will be inspired!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I am determined to surround myself with uplifting, positive, like-minded people who inspire me, and I strongly suggest you do the same if your goal is also to be a Professional Artist! I truly believe all things happen for a reason. We get off our destiny path and sometimes it take something ugly to get us back on track.

What is Your Inspiring Story?

Do you have an inspiring story you would like to share? I would love it if you would! Share with the art community the things you have endured, learned, or have done along the way in your journey to become an Artist! Let’s build this art world my motivating others, sharing our struggles and our triumphs. Let’s be an encouragement to others and support the arts!

Leave your comments below and don’t forget to check out my other blog posts, my social media sites and click that follow button to show your support!

In my next blog I will be sharing with you lovely readers my latest piece “Stable Environment” and some tips and tricks I use in my work, so stay tuned! ‘Til next time… Enjoy your journey!


Art, Relationships & Stress

Stress Blocks Creativity

Have you ever been in a stressful situation or in a relationship that was stressful and draining? Well, I definitely have. Some relationships can cause stress even if they are “working.” People that are always causing drama, always negative, always talking down others are causing stress whether you are aware of it or not. It is really hard to be a positive, creative person when you are around a very negative miserable person. Some people thrive on drama. I on the other hand cannot stand drama!

Stress is not just the way you feel when you’re upset. It is the physiological response of stress that we need to be concerned about! You may have heard that stress can kill you; it is actually true. Chronic or consistent stress (i.e. toxic relationships) causes many damaging effects to the body such as:

  • Stress 1headache/migraine
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • rapid heart rate
  • hormone imbalance
  • insomnia
  • digestive issues
  • weight gain
  • heart disease

You may be thinking, “What does this have to do with art?” Let me explain. One of the hormones effected by stress and causing hormone imbalance is Cortisol. Cortisol is raised significantly when a body is under stress. Cortisol in its proper amount is needed by the body, but too much may actually be deadly! Not only does it cause belly fat, it causes many systems in the body to go haywire if the stress is consistent or long-term. Cortisol, like adrenaline causes the “non-essential” functions to nearly shutdown, such as the digestive system, reproductive system and the right-brain activities such as creativity! This cortisol overload also reduces the immune response, messes with mood, motivation and fear. These functions are not considered essential in the fight or flight response to danger/stress.

Stress Effects Your Art Career In Spades

My last blog post was about a stressful situation with a relationship that was becoming exceedingly toxic over time culminating in a situation that completely ended the relationship. I ended the relationship because of what this person did to me but also because it was becoming toxic to my health!Stress 2

When this happened I struggled to do anything, let alone my artwork. I forced myself to work on something and it was, in my opinion an epic failure. I came to the conclusion that I need to get some fresh air, exercise and go back to eating healthy again. All of these things, along with distancing myself from the cause of the stress, is enabling me to slowly but surely getting my art mojo back!

Are You Struggling to Be Creative?

If you are struggling to be creative, to find inspiration and to just sit down in your studio/art space to work, maybe you too are having a problem with stress! If so here are some things you can do to help your body and your mind to be productive again.

Stress Relief this Way

  • Pinpoint your stressors.
  • Do what you can to remove/change or distance yourself from it
  • Get regular sleep – go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning (the body loves a schedule)
  • Eat healthy! Drink water! Eat a diet rich in fresh whole foods. Eat at the same times each day.
  • Get some exercise and fresh air. Go outside! (This is a struggle for me as I am an indoor person)
  • Count your blessings each day. Write them down (if need be) so you can look back at them when necessary.
  • Look at artists’ work that inspires you. Watch YouTube videos that inspire you. Walk through your local art galleries for inspiration. Read blog posts that inspire you!
  • Clean your space – clutter can cause depression and ruin creativity

Beware of “Adult Onset BFF Syndrome”

“I have coined a new syndrome called ADULT ONSET BFF SYNDROME. It can be deadly so be forewarned. I have found that one of the biggest culprits in blocking ones motivation, inspiration and lifetime goals is the BFF.” Don’t get me wrong there is nothing bad about having friends. But as an adult the BFF kind can completely derail you. Just the idea of the competition of friends is disturbing to me. It is a contest I don’t care to be in at all.

Relationships are a wonderful thing if they are wonderful relationships. We are relational beings. But think about it, BFF stands for Best Friends Forever… Forever? What does forever mean these days? It certainly has a different meaning in this context. This word “Forever” does not add any loyalty to friendships. It is just a new trendy word that really means nothing. In my case I find people who label me a BFF is pretty much a way of saying they are comparing my “worth” to others they are friends with. It is a way of saying,  “I have much more to gain from you than others on my friends list.”

As an adult, this is just a bit too immature and self-serving to me. I don’t want to become someone’s hobby! I don’t want to be someone’s everything. I have my own hobbies, and I do not want to be so needed that I can’t be myself! I want friends to know me and to understand me, and be okay with it when I want to be alone or I don’t want to always be with them. I want my friends to understand that I don’t use the phone. I won’t call you. I hate talking on the phone because it is just unnerving to me. I will text you, I will see you, but small talk just drives me crazy.

Healthy Relationships are Good

FriendsMy husband and I have a wonderful relationship that way. I am not his hobby and he is not mine. We are okay with doing things alone and we love to do things together. But he also knows me and understands me and does not take my alone time as some personal thing against him. As a more introverted person, I need my time alone! I like the silence. That is when I am most creative. True friends know that and understand it.

The stress of always worrying about others’ feelings above your own can be a very stressful and draining thing. So my suggestion is to keep things in balance. Don’t let others dictate or control your time and priorities. In the end you’re the one loosing yourself bit by bit. Many Creatives are introverted people. They like being alone in their thoughts and creative adventures. This doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire for relationships. It means they need relationships that work.

Keep in mind that real friends understand you and one misunderstanding does not make them bring you down, and gossip about you. So choose friends wisely. Be your own keeper and don’t allow relationships steal your joy.

It Takes Hard Work and Dedication

Telling SecretsBeing an Artist is Hard work and it takes plenty of alone time hours to be successful. If it is your dream to be a successful Artist, having friends that understand your determination and support you in it, is a must. If they don’t, they will cause you needless stress, and pain. And when they don’t get what they want from you they can turn on you with a vengeance. Remember high-school? This just causes STRESS! Unneeded, unnecessary, undo stress. Long-term stress is never good for your health and it is a real detriment to your success as a Creative.



Haters Gonna Hate

Inspiration from a Fellow Artist When Needed

I recently watched a video from a fellow artist and a YouTuber named Cedar Lee. This video was an inspiration to me after having had a devastating blow this week by someone that called me a “friend.” This friend writes a blog and an editorial in our local newspaper. He told me (while at his home) that his next blog was going to be about me called “Honorable Mention.” At that point I didn’t really think much about it.


Danger! Toxic Dump Ahead!

On Wednesday (a few days later) I see a post of his blog on my Facebook page. So I read it. Needless to say it is not at all what I was expecting from a “friend.” It was mean, hurtful, slanderous, spiteful and he took a blog post that I wrote completely out of context. He humiliated me publicly for entering my art work in the Ouatchita Expressions Art Show as being self-centered, completely obsessed with competition (using Psychology Today as proof text) and wanting to be better than everyone else and that competition is what is wrong with the world today. Needless to say he is no longer a “friend” of mine.

Art is Real Work

Cedar Lee’s video Art Is Real Work! …thoughts by Cedar Lee was such a breath of fresh air at a time that I needed it most. I highly recommend anyone that has been attacked for just doing what they love to do  (which is virtually anyone that is a doer) to watch that video.

I’m not going to go into the ugliness of what this person wrote about me. (I refuse to advertise his blog for him.) He has since taken down the scathing blog post. The sad thing is the newspaper article is in print and cannot be taken back. But what I really want to focus on in this blog is how to overcome and move on from a devastating blow, a rude comment, a friend or family member saying nasty things about your hopes and dreams of being a Professional Artist.

Artists Are Not My Competitors

“Fellow Artists are not my competitors, they are my allies, my friends, my mentors, my supporters. We do not compete against each other, we compete against ourselves. We are in search for other Artists that inspire us to do better, to learn new techniques and mediums! We look to talented Artists as someone to aspire to, not to compete with.”

 I stated in my blog (that was taken completely out of context) the intention I had for entering a juried show was to see where I stood professionally. To see what my fellow artists see; to see where I need to improve and what level my art at this point. I wanted a professional evaluation of my art!

From this Day Forward

That being said, I choose to not live someone else’s life, listening to their disapproval of me or my fulfilling of lifelong dreams. I refuse to allow their life’s dogmas control me or dissuade me from my goals. I choose not to allow toxic people to try to poison me.

One very important thing I will always keep in mind as an Artist is this:

“If you don’t get that I am an Artist and what that means to me you are not my audience… and that’s okay.”

What I do choose to do is to limit or eliminate time spent with negative people, the self proclaimed victims in life, the people that zap your energy and drain you. Instead I choose to surround myself with energetic people, the doers, the positive people, the people that fill you with positive energy just by being in their presence. I choose to surround myself with people that have a joy for living that is infectious, that are creative and are not intimidated by those striving for the same.

Some Quotes to Inspire You on This Artistic Journey

Here are a few quotes I found from Steve Jobs that I hope inspire you as much as they inspire me.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. Of you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

“Being the richest man i the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs

In Conclusion

Don’t let people with nefarious intent derail you from your goals. Don’t allow toxic relationships dictate your destiny. Know when it is time to dust off your feet and leave behind those who’s only goal is to hold you back. It is hard to think that you may have to sever relationships especially when they may be friends. But remember, true friends lift you up, support your and don’t tear you down. Yes, these decisions may be difficult, but they are your only way to move forward in your journey to become the best you can be at what you love to do most .


“Surround yourself with beauty; with people that reflect your goals in life.”                       Image used by permission James Holdeman – Photographer

Remember,  Artists bring beauty into the world, they lift the spirits, they create beauty where there is none, they inspire others and with out art this world would be a much darker, sadder, place. There would be no design, music, sculptures, paintings, architecture, poetry, photography, beauty… a very grey world it would be.


So You Want to be an Artist – Cont’d

Recap of Last Week

Last week I shared with you that being an Artist is not something that just happens to you, but takes hard work and dedication (Last week’s post). I mentioned that in this weeks blog I would give you some steps to take to help you become what you would like to be. I will be talking about an Art career but many of these steps can be used in any number of career paths and decision-making strategies. So Let’s get started!

Step 1

The obvious first step in my plan is to MAKE THE DECISION. Yes, it is obvious but this is a step that many people miss. We tend to get an idea, and instantly start planning without ever really making a solid decision that, “This is what I want to do;” and so we struggle, and eventually just quit altogether. If you are anything like me, once I make a decision to do something; a real – from the heart decision, I give it my all! So – step 1: Make a decision that you want to become a Professional Artist.

Step 2

After you have searched your heart and mind and have come to the decision that this is what you truly want in life and that you are willing to work long and hard for it, it is time to do step 2: Make a Plan.

PlanningThis is crucial to any endeavor… You must no what you are going to do to meet your goals and how you are going to do it. The goal to be an Artist is a very large goal with many facets. The plan has to be solid, doable and what you are willing to do to achieve success. The first step in planning is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! I see so many people putting themselves out there as Artists that are just not ready! You must have a level of skill that looks professional!

This doesn’t mean you have to do everything perfect but you don’t want to put out there work that is amateurish if you want to be taken seriously. So Practice each and every day and build you skill level. I can’t tell you how important this is! Find a medium you are comfortable with (I highly suggest you start with drawing), learn it well, experiment with techniques and become very accurate in your drawings.

Drawing is a foundation to most mediums and if your drawing is off in any way (the foundation of your piece) then the whole thing is going to be off. Become good at accuracy in figure drawing, perspective, etc. I good habit is to practice a different part of the body each day or week and rotate them until you are proficient and that your drawings are accurate and “believable” as they say in realism. You may not want to be a portrait or figure Artist but you have to be able to build you skill well enough to do so with proficiency. You need to be able to draw what you see and learn to see what you are looking at.

Planning is working out a schedule, honing your craft, deciding how to sell your work, how to have your work seen by others, promoting yourself, planning financial strategies and goal, setting a schedule for them and then doing it every day, day in and day out.

Step 3

HoningAfter you have honed your skills and can do accurate drawings now is the time to “Build a Body of Work” to show to the public. This shouldn’t be just a random selection of pieces that you have done. This should be well thought out and have a theme of some sort that ties all of your pieces together. For instance the theme could be landscapes, portraits, abstract, florals, animals, etc.

Pick a theme in the direction of your goals. This of course doesn’t mean you can never do anything else but that would be a different body of work. You will want about 10-20 pieces of your best work. These should be the pieces you are very happy with and willing to share with galleries, strangers, friends, family or anyone else that would like to see your work.

Step 4

Getting your name out there these days is not as easy as some make it out to be. I highly suggest you have a website or blog (both is ideal) but it is not that simple. Just because you are on the web does not mean you will be seen! If people don’t know that you are there you will be lost in a myriad of other websites. You have to have a plan to get traffic to the website.

One way to do this is to have a Facebook page for your business. This is still no guarantee but it is a start. Advertise on this page that you have a website and ask people to check it out. Also setup an Instagram, Twitter, or Tumbler account/s and post your work, works in progress, pics of your studio, etc. YouTube is another outlet that can be utilized. I feel that all of these strategies are great but I also believe you need to be known in your own community. This is often overlooked. This leads us to step 5.

Step 5

communityCommunity is important to all of us, local community I mean. Yes, we all may have an online art community but I’m talking about being known as an Artist in the town or city you live in.

Does your neighbor know you are an artist? Does your local gallery know you or even know of you? How about your church family or your club or your local restaurant? Do they know you as an Artist?! I think they should.

Why?, because they will talk about you, they will promote you, they will support you. All you have to do is be nice, friendly, helpful and available. So get out there!

Step 6

Now I am going to share a step with you that I haven’t seen talked about much at all in becoming an Artist; and that is BEING ETHICAL! I hear so many horror stories of “artists” stealing other people’s work, stealing other peoples photography, stealing identities, etc for their “art” and this is just not right! If you want to be known for being unethical, than this is the way to do it!

StealingTake your own reference photos, get permission to use others photos. Do NOT copy other artists work and pass it off as your own. Do not steal photos of artwork and post it claiming it is your own. Not only are these things unethical, it will give you a reputation that will keep you from ever truly succeeding.

Yes, you may “get away with it” for a while but you will be called out someday and you will be ruined. I know of 2 instances where people have done this and believe me, they are no longer trusted. They are cast out of the art community because of it. They have ruined any chance they have to be trusted in any setting. One of which, had a copy of someones work they did thrown out of an art exhibit! This is NOT how to make friends and influence people! Be ethical…

Step 7

Work hard and don’t give up! Just keep doing excellent work, sharing it in many different platforms (and don’t forget locally), study, learn and keep on moving forward. This industry is not as simple as just being a good artist. There are many artists in this world that are not getting recognition for their work, and sad to say there are some that are getting recognition because they are better marketers and not the best at their craft. Don’t let this discourage you.

Having a successful art career does not mean you need to be nationally renowned. It means that you are doing what you love and being able to make a living at it. Don’t let others dissuade you from your goals because they want to put you or your art in a proverbial “box.” You decide what your career looks like not someone else.success.jpg

“Keep moving forward, letting nothing stop you and you will be what you set out to be. Be honest with yourself and others and you will also be trusted by your community – local and online.”
Barbara Holdeman

So You Want to Be an Artist

Natural Talent

I have had several people say things to me like, “I can’t even draw stick people!” Or, “You have such a natural talent for art!” But are either of these statements true? Well, yes and no. Yes, some people can’t even draw stick people and yes some people have a bit of “natural talent” but that is only half the story…

Stick Figure

One of the main reasons some people can’t draw a simple stick person is because they really have no interest to draw. It’s not because the lack some innate ability, it’s purely because they have never tried very hard. Art is like any other thing we do in life. No one has come out of the womb with a paintbrush in hand or as a virtuoso in any art form!

I do agree that some people may have a natural ability, but this only means that something they enjoy doing came a bit easier to them than others. It’s perfectly normal to like what you feel you are good at. But you won’t every be great at something unless you put lots of time and effort into honing your skills.

Some may say Liberace was a gifted pianist and had a “special gift” of music. But did Liberace just know how to play the piano without ever having a lesson? No; his father was  musician and he wanted desperately for his children to be musicians and pass on the legacy. He was sat in front of a piano at age 4! He was able to memorize difficult pieces by age 7. He was trained to be a virtuoso, it did not come with to him without painstaking practice.

To Do Anything Well Takes Work

Piano PracticeVisual arts are no exception to the rule. It take a lot of practice and a lot of determination to be an Artist. It does not just happen to someone, it take a lot of work! It is frustrating at times when it is assumed that you don’t have to put in time, dedication, blood, sweat and tears into your craft. It makes it sound like you didn’t work for it; it just happened to you. This is just not true. Any artist that is being honest with you will tell you it take hard work and dedication to be at a skillful level.

Yes, it is true that Creatives may be more “right brained” than the CPA that does their taxes but this certainly does not mean that a CPA can’t be artistic and a Artist can’t be a CPA. Both are learned skills. Some do better than others at a certain career because of their desire to be that certain something.

Do You Want to Be an Artist?

Artist at EaselDo you really want to be an Artist … really? If so, than get to work. Talent and skill is not going to fall in your lap; it takes hard work. If you want to be an Artist you have to make time, you  have to practice, you have to learn, you have to sacrifice. You can’t spend your free time watching Netflix and playing video games. You may have to sacrifice going out to dinner every-other night and use that money to buy art supplies. You need quality art supplies, which are expensive if you want your work to look professional, cheap supplies is not going to cut it.

I don’t mean to sound so harsh here, but believe me, if you want something bad enough you will do what it takes to get it. If you want to learn to draw stick people then take time each day to sit down and draw. Your stick people will eventually become more realistic and someday you will be doing portraits.

James Dean

My second ever human portrait  – “James Dean”. 

Stay Tuned

Next weeks blog will give you some steps, and hopefully some inspiration to start your art journey. I will give you some realistic goals, practice ideas, and a list of supplies to get you started.  So don’t forget to follow me on all my social media sites and come back next week where I will continue this blog post. I hope to encourage you to really think about what you want and give you some practical ways of achieving it.

‘Til next time!

The Journey Continues

Small Steps on the Right Path

Wow, what a busy and exciting week I have had! Just this past week I celebrated yet another birthday. Many may not feel that a birthday is an exciting thing or any kind of accomplishment. If you think about it, each day is an accomplishment. You may just be one step closer to a goal or you may have learned a valuable lesson. But each day is an accomplishment nonetheless.

Aging – Not for the Weak

Getting older has its challenges; that’s for certain. Many people have preconceived notions about you because of your age. If your “such and such age” you should look like this, dress like that and behave in a certain appropriate manner. Have you ever been told by someone to “Act your age” and wonder what that would even look like? Well, I think age is a relative thing. Some may feel old early on and some may never really feel old at all. I say, “Act the way you feel, and enjoy life at any age. It is never too late to live your dream.

My Exciting Birthday Week

Yes, I said birthday week; not day, but week! I have a friend that celebrates the whole week and I know others that celebrate the whole month. So, from now on I am just going to celebrate Life and every year, my birthday week! No more moaning and groaning about getting older, just enjoying the journey.

My birthday week started by me entering an Art Exhibition. This was my very first time and it was overwhelming, exciting, stressful and scary all at once. I have never entered an art competition before as an adult! I never felt ready, or good enough to go up against “real artists” before. But I soon learned through this process that many artistic people feel that very same way. I think that most of us are harder on our work than others are. We never feel that we are quite ready yet. But I took the plunge and it was a great experience.

Ouachita Expressions Art Exhibition

The art exhibition was a juried show that is held each year at a local Gallery where I live. I was able to enter 3 pieces of art. It was hard to choose, since I have never done this before and had no idea what the local people enjoy when it comes to art. So I selected a piece I did a few years ago and 2 recent pieces I did; all three portraits. Of course I was hoping to win. There would be no reason to enter if I didn’t have a hope in placing. So Tuesday Morning I went down town to the gallery, joined as a member and entered my  work into the exhibit. The Curator seemed excited about my entries.

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Waiting for the Call

After entering and talking with the Curator a bit I was feeling more comfortable and confident in my decision to enter. She told me that the entries would be hung on Wednesday and the Judge would come in Thursday morning. She then said she would make the phone calls to those who placed in the competition. I thought to myself, “Thursday will be a stressful day!” And boy was it!

I knew that the Gallery was open from 10am to 3pm and so if I had not heard from her within that time I didn’t place. I was trying not to think about it and just continue working on my current piece. I kept looking at the time and at about 2pm I thought, “Well, I must not have placed at all.”

“A journey is not linear but multi-directional, with lots of curves, trails, some wrong turns, beautiful sites and some great views.”

Mixed Emotions

I was kind of feeling down and thought, how do I improve my work if I don’t know where to start? How do I ever really know where I am at as far as being an Artist? I was trying to just concentrate on my work. My husband came in and asked if I had heard anything yet and I quietly said, “No, nothing yet.” So he left for a bit and at 2:16pm my phone rang! It was the gallery! I quick answered and heard on the other end, “Hello Barbara, this is Julie, I just wanted to let you know that “Hershey” placed Honorable Mention in the show, congratulations!”

First, you must know that I am a bit of an overachiever… I was happy for the call, but yet a bit bummed by that fact that I was in, well… 4th place. My husband came home once again and asked if I had heard anything. I said, yes and told him what Julie said. His response was, “You sound completely underwhelmed. Why don’t you go down there and see what your competition was.”


“Now way! I’m not going down there. How embarrassing would that be! I’ll see the competition on Saturday at the Awards Reception.” Jim (my husband) is a bit tenacious. He looked and me and said, “Well, I’m going down there,” and turned around and left. When he came back home he told me that I should really be happy with placing. The judge did a very good job and gave each piece a score based on 5 criteria. My pieces were scored at 19 points for “Hershey,” 18 points for “Golden Years” and 16 points for “Newlyweds.” The First place piece in my category received 21 points, second place was 20 points and third was 19 points (we have no idea why my piece was placed as Honorable Mention vs the other that received the same score). There were only 2 points between my highest score and the 1st Place winner!

The Curator told Jim that it is quite an accomplishment to place at all; let alone be a completely “unknown” in the local art community. So I feel so much better now about where I placed. And as a bonus the judge made a comment on each and every piece so I was given an understanding of the scores I was given.

So, this was a great experience for me. Many of my friends came out to the reception to support me and I thank every single one of them! I also thank my husband Jim for all of his support and encouragement. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.♥

I will definitely enter more work as the opportunity presents itself!