I can hardly even say the word--how can I be it? (My lesson in being a badass.)

A year ago, my husband and I did a road trip of Washington state. That week’s trip changed my life in ways that I’m still coming to understand. In addition to fueling inspiration for many of my abstract and landscape paintings in the past year, the trip took me to a little independent bookstore in Winthrop, Washington, where two brightly colored books stood out on the shelf to me. I tend to be drawn to a good book cover like a magpie to something shiny, so I picked them up.

Shiny Books!

Thus began my journey with Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money. If you haven’t read her books, Jen is all about getting out of your comfort zone and going for whatever it is you really love in life.

I’ve read similar books—even done a lot of workshops with that theme—but there was something about Jen’s wit and irreverence that really spoke to this 50-year old. I had been doing a lot of the same things my whole life—dreaming of being an artist full-time and yet not doing that. Jen’s books were a key part of what inspired me to take The Leap into my life as a full-time artist that begins in just a few weeks.

My Boubella BADASS (yes, that's the word!) Tee Shirt

As an ode to Jen and the impact of her work on my life, I bought my BADASS tee from Boubella, a start up clothing and lifestyle company co-led by a dear friend, Amanda Bouza. For me, it was one thing to read a book that said badass on the cover—it was another thing entirely to wear a tee that said BADASS outside of the house.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

See, I don’t think of myself as a badass. The word makes me feel really uncomfortable (it's even hard for me to say!). It says 'bad' and even has a cuss in it. And I don’t, for example, ride motorcycles, or go skydiving, or surf. I’m just a middle-class, middle-aged lady who wants to paint things that bring people joy, coach artists to be successful in their art business, and make sure everyone has a chance at a decent life.

But one of the things I have realized in all this is that to do those things, to make those things happen, I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to grow my confidence and practice getting uncomfortable to make those things happen.

Being a Badass at the Market (well, sort of)

So I gave myself a challenge to wear my new Boubella BADASS tee to the market. It was so interesting to see what happened. I’m used to being sort of invisible at the grocery store, but when I wore the Boubella BADASS tee—people moved out of my way, looked at me and nodded, or stopped before stepping in front of me. It was kind of magical.

And while I don’t see myself riding motorcycles or skydiving any time soon—maybe surfing?—I can, in the meantime, keep wearing my Boubella BADASS tee and keep practicing getting a little out of my comfort zone so I can make some good happen in the world.

And as always, remember to look for joy. I promise it is there.

 

That’s me. Trying to be casual, taking a selfie in the veggie aisle with my BADASS tee.

That’s me. Trying to be casual, taking a selfie in the veggie aisle with my BADASS tee.

I am taking The Leap to be a full time artist!

I am taking The Leap to be a full time artist!
That’s right, as of Thursday, September 19, I will be a full time artist!

I’m taking The Leap.
A leap of faith. A leap of daring. A crazy leap. A brave leap. A courageous leap. A leap for joy.

How did this come about?
About 20+ years ago, I was doing some research and reflection to figure out my ideal job. The answer that kept coming back was: Artist.
Spoiler alert: There’s no clear career path for a fine artist.

So, I made a pledge to become a full time artist in 20 years and have been working on that—building my skills and finding my voice and style—while pursuing a career in communications. I became a certified facilitator, training designer, and learned how to coach performance management, write, edit video, and more. I was juried into scores of shows, painted hundreds of paintings, had multiple solo and group art shows, earned a certificate in graphic design and my MFA in Visual Arts. I also divorced, happily remarried, and moved to the West Coast.

Bringing Joy
And here in Seattle is where it’s all come together. One evening, I asked my friends on Facebook—What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? And that’s when all the years of work and training came together.
I was meant to create art that brings joy to people’s lives.

With this Mission, I Thee Paint
Over the past two years, this mission has become profound and urgent. We are in dark and chaotic times. It’s become clear to me that the forces of darkness and chaos want us isolated and in despair.
The only antidote is joy, because with joy comes resilience and connection.
In the past year, my Joy mission has expanded to include supporting artists in reaching their business goals through one on one coaching, webinars, Artist’s Way workshops, and mastermind group facilitation—bringing together my training, certifications, and passion for helping others.
I did all of this—growing my art and artist coaching business—while I was working full-time.

Deciding to Leap
Recently, it became clear to me that it was time to make The Leap and follow my passion.
Art changes lives and makes the world better. It brings meaning to our lives. It connects us as people. I believe deeply in the power of art to make things better and that’s why I am fully committing my life’s work to art and coaching artists.

Thank you
I want to close with a profound thank you to you my followers, my subscribers, and my collectors. YOU have helped make this dream come true through your support and investment in my work.

I am here to bring you joy and look forward to doing that for decades to come.

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The Artist's Way and "Our Fragile Earth"

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is one of the most powerful books ever written. Essentially, it’s a workbook of exercises you can do to recover your creative spirit and follows a 12 week model, which doesn’t sound overly powerful UNTIL you start going through the exercises each week.

When I was a kid, I loved using workbooks at school, so when I heard about Cameron’s workbook about 20+ years ago, I was immediately drawn in.

One of her best tools is Morning Pages. These are three pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing every morning. It’s not so much writing as taking dictation for whatever the brain wants to share in those early morning hours. Cameron encourages asking the pages what you like/don’t like, what you want more of/less of and to listen to what the pages have to say back. It’s a fascinating process.

This painting, “Our Fragile Earth,” was a breakthrough in process for me. Each morning, I used my morning pages to listen for instructions. I listened and I wrote. I asked what do I do next and wrote out what I heard back. Later, in the studio, I would paint as the pages had instructed. When i got stuck, the next morning I would ask the pages what to do next. The pages always had an answer.

The pages always have an answer.

You can see the 48”x48” painting “Our Fragile Earth” at the Women Painters of Washington Gallery in the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle (it’s up through late September).

If are in Seattle this fall and you’d like to do The Artist’s Way, check out my upcoming workshop at Studio Life. First workshop is Monday, August 19, 2019—register by August 12 for a special early registration price of $395. The workshop includes snacks, email support, a bonus orientation week, and a special dinner that I host for participants.

PS — Here is what one participant said about the spring Artist’s Way Workshop:

“I rediscovered my passions and interests in a supportive environment in The Artist’s Way workshop at StudioLife. As I worked through the course with Sarah and a small group this spring, things holding me back fell away. Immovable boulders became pebbles, and faded dreams bubbled up into active projects. The commitment to each week’s exercises - in and out of class - created a rewarding, positive feedback loop. The daily and weekly practices in The Artist’s Way are now fully incorporated in my life and I’m not looking back.”

Register today on the Studio Life website.

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Failure, Resilience, and the Women Painters of Washington

I’ve got some exciting news! I’ve been juried into the Women Painters of Washington!! This prestigious group has a rigorous selection process and I really pushed my work as a painter to get in. I am in the “Blue” show hanging now at the Women Painters of Washington Gallery in the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle (it’s up through late September 2019). Please stop by the show (and take a selfie!)

There’s a little back story here too…I had submitted to join this group last year and got through the first round but not the second. I asked for feedback and they said I needed to work on my design and composition—a punch in the gut after 20 years of painting and an MFA.

I took a breath and regrouped and then started wishing for/manifesting some sort of art program or workshop or SOMETHING that would refresh me on the elements of composition and mixing colors in acrylics and improving my ability to critique my own work—without having to do a bunch of rando weekend art retreats. I wanted to go deeper in MY style, not someone else’s.

Fortunately for me artist Amira D. Rahim was listening to that wish I put out in the universe and created Better Than Art School. It was a big and humbling leap to take but dammit if that wasn’t one of the best decisions of my art career. If you’re interested in learning more about Amira’s breakthrough 8-week online program, check out the Better Than Art School webinar. Amira’s teaching helped me get the refresh I needed and to find my way deep into my own painting point of view.

It’s been an upward and magical climb since the disappointment of that rejection. It’s worth it to face the hard stuff and keep persevering. Joy hard won can sometimes be the best joy. Have you ever faced rejection and turned it around? I’d love to hear about it—tell me about it in the comments below.

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Greek Orange Grove

“Greek Orange Grove” was inspired by a college trip to Crete. I was lucky enough to be studying abroad in England my junior year.

After growing up in the States, I wanted to spend a year in my home country to have my own experiences of English life. So with some friends, I took a break to Crete for spring break. It was an incredible trip filled with sunshine, crystal clear water, the freshest of food, and, one one occasion, the skinniest of dips.

On an afternoon walk, we came across a little traffic circle that had orange trees growing on it. They were at peak ripeness and we couldn’t resist trying them. I have never before or since had an orange THAT GOOD.

We were mid way through enjoying the sweetness when suddenly we looked around and realized we were in the middle of a private orange orchard! We screamed and ran back down the road, the taste of orange still honeyed and the pang is guilt growing.

Decades later, I memorialized that magical misdeed in this 36”x36” acrylic painting on gallery-wrapped canvas. The edges are painted with the front of the painting so you don’t need to frame it. The painting is valued at $3500 USD and that includes US shipping, and some special gifts from me! Add to your collection


Greek Orange Grove.jpg

Wenatchee River Valley

The Wenatchee River Valley is a beautiful place. My husband and I stopped for a hike there earlier this summer on our way to Leavenworth for a friend’s wedding.

The smell of the cedar permeates the air. The sky was bluer than blue and the river moved steadily reminding us that we are small parts of this resilient yet fragile Earth.

Days like that remind me why I moved to Washington state. It truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world. We are on sacred ground here and I am grateful for it.

What’s your favorite place to go—the one that connects you to something larger, more ethereal about life and our world?

Click here to add Wenatchee River Valley to your collection. It measures 6”x12” and is in gallery-wrapped canvas.

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Bringing Joy to Queens

I don’t know if there a a better feeling than seeing my art in its new home bringing joy to my collectors. This little gem—Queens | City Joy—was inspired by Doug and his daughter Abbee who moved to Queens a few months ago and are loving city life.

Doug and Abbee are amazing humans and I am so honored that they decided to add Joy to their art collection.

They put it by the door as a reminder to look for joy every time they go out in the world—which I just love. Original art adds richness and brings a spark to your life.

Thank you so much Doug and Abbee! I am so grateful!

Doug and his daughter Abbee with a bit of Queens Joy!

Doug and his daughter Abbee with a bit of Queens Joy!

Want more joy, creativity, and fun in your life? I can help!

Well it’s been ages since I’ve but rest assured, I’m still working away in the studio, still making Joy. I’ve added new paintings to my website so you can see some of my latest works over there. In addition to painting, I’ve got some news on what I’m doing to create more Joy in the world through my coaching and creative practice--and how I can help you add more creativity and fun to your life!

Shows
Two shows are coming up—both in Seattle and it would mean so much to see you at both or either of them! These shows are centered around Joy--the luscious, vibrant colors you've come to expect, strengthened after a year of painting every day in 2018.
Saturday, April 13 at Locust Cider in Ballard, Seattle (near where the Ballard Market takes place). This show will be the debut of my City Joy series! I'll be there from 6-9 pm. Come see what happens when Joy meet maps of Seattle, Ballard, London, Boston, and more. (PS--The Cider at Locust Cider is the best I've ever had--just one more reason to stop by!) Details

Saturday, May 11 at Classic Consignment in Ballard, Seattle. I am SO EXCITED to have been invited to show again in the beautiful gallery in Classic Consignment in Ballard, Seattle. This show will feature the latest works from my What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? series—including a many new pieces! I'll be there from 6-9 pm and it will be a super fun opening--would love to see you!! Details
Teaching
Have you wondered how I paint Joy? Would you like to learn...while also sipping a delightful cocktail or mocktail? Then sign up for my Canvas and Cocktails: Cherry Blossom Edition class at Studio Life in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Perfect for couples looking for a fun date night or a get together with your friends or coworkers, this one evening class will give you the supplies and training you need to create your own Joy—Cherry Blossom style! (And because you are reading my blog, register with the secret code BLOSSOM to get a 5% discount!) At the end of the class, you will have enjoyed a new cocktail or mocktail and will leave with your painting, step by step handouts—plus a stash of art supplies so you can keep practicing at home! Spaces are filling up--register today! Class is $105 (before the discount) and takes place Thursday, April 18, from 7-9 pm! Register
Coaching and The Artist's Way Workshop
I have had the great joy to coach more artists on building their practice, their business, and their confidence—through one on one and group Mastermind coaching. This is my heart’s work and I love empowering artists to grow their creative self-expression and business! If you are an artist and curious about online/virtual coaching, please let me know. My individual spots are filled until summer, but I still have one or two spaces in my Advanced and Intermediate Mastermind Groups that meet online weekly. The groups are really affordable ($200 a month) compared to most professional Mastermind groups and include a host of additional benefits. To find out more, send a reply message for details.

If you are in Seattle, clear your calendar on Monday evenings and join my 12 Week Artist's Way Workshop at Studio Life in Ravenna, Seattle! Julia Cameron's book changed my life forever and I am thrilled to bring her wisdom into the room to help us navigate what it means and how to live life more creatively! As a professional, trained facilitator who knows first hand what it's like to be an artist, or wanting to be an artist, I am pleased to offer this workshop $425 (includes a copy of Cameron's book, refreshments at the weekly workshop, and a professional facilitated community of fellow creatives). There are just a few spots left and the 12-week workshop begins Monday, April 15. Don't miss out! Register today!

And if you're not in Seattle, that's ok. I'm working on a Virtual Artist's Way Workshop for later this year. Message me if you want to be part of that group!

City Joy | Boston 20"x24” Acrylic painting on gallery-wrapped canvas, wired and ready to hang in your home or office. $975. Price includes shipping. Add to your collection.

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Stage Fright, or What Eminem Taught Me about Fighting The Nanas

A few weeks ago I opened my sixth of seven solo art shows in the past 18 months. You would think with that many openings that it gets easier, that I improve my process, that I am—if nothing else—less nervous about it.

But you would be wrong.

The week before I was so stressed. Working late hours to get ready, trying to get through my to do lists. Trying to remember the things I remembered and forgot to write down. My breath tends to be shallow. I’m nervous. Shaky. Intellectually, I know I will be fine—but my physical self is on high alert. It’s hard to unwind. Harder to sleep.

So I’m in that space and I’m driving late one evening. My phone is plugged in and randomly going through all my songs, which ends up with unusual juxtapositions like the Kelly Willis and Black Eyed Peas and Christmas Songs and Kendrick Lamar and Mozart. And then it landed.

Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

I turn it up. All the way up. The truck thumps as I drive through the dark and rainy night.

“Look
If you had
One shot
And one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it or just
Let it slip?”

He asks me. He is speaking to me. This show is a great opportunity. It’s a popular shop. My work will be up for at least a month—not just a one night art walk. It was the opportunity. But then his words come back. The reality sinks in. Yes, this opportunity and all of a sudden

“His palms are sweaty—
Knees weak—
Arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already—Mom’s spaghetti—
He’s nervous
But on the surface
He looks calm and ready
To drop bombs
But he keeps on forgetting what
He wrote down
The whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth
But the words won’t come out
He choking how
Everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out
Time’s up
Over blau.”

That’s me. That’s me with a Case of The Nanas. Getting ready to walk into a gallery. To meet other artists. To give a talk. The Nanas. It’s stage fright. It’s the most brilliant text I’ve read about stage fright. The lived experience of it. They way the mind can go blank as your body fails you, betrays you. The pressure overrides your mind. Few artists talk about it outside the performing arts. So many visual artists are introverts, which is partly why this medium has such an appeal. It’s a place for us to hide, to restore, to refresh with just the rhythm of the brush on the canvas, the feeling of joy that comes from seeing a work of art emerge from the layers of self expression.

Don’t get me wrong. I know Eminem is misogynist AF but this song. This song is incredible. It gave me a way out. A way to fight the stage fright. He told me exactly what I needed to do.

“You better
Lose yourself, in the music, the moment,
You own it
You better never
Let it go.
You only get one shot,
Do not miss your chance to blow
’Cause opportunity comes once in a lifetime
You better
Lose yourself
In the music
The moment,
You only get one shot,
Do not
Miss your chance
To blow
Cause opportunity comes once in a life time
You better
You can do anything you set our mind to, man [sic]”

The answer was right there. I needed to lose myself in the music, the moment. To get out of my head, out of my body, and into the zone—connect beyond myself—where the music is. And in that moment “Lose Yourself” became my walk up song.

What’s a walk up song? In professional baseball, there’s a tradition of batters getting a song played each time they walk up to bat. It helps set the mind, shake off nerves, gets them pumped, and ready to connect the bat to the ball. It was just the technique I needed.

Now when I feel the Nanas approaching, I put on my headset and turn up the volume and lose myself. Works like a charm.

 

“Lose Yourself” is written by Jeff Bass, Luis Resto, Marshall Mathers

 

 

See—this is why the walk up song works. Get lost in the music and then I’m ready for the show! Thanks to Classic Consignment in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle for the show opportunity.

See—this is why the walk up song works. Get lost in the music and then I’m ready for the show! Thanks to Classic Consignment in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle for the show opportunity.

Andrew Wyeth, My Painter Grandfather

I went to the #AndrewWyeth exhibit @seattleartmuseum a few days ago and had an epiphany that brought me to tears. Oh yeah. That’s right. Crying. In the museum. While others were milling around. And I was taken aback at my response…until it came to me. 

Wyeth is my Painter Grandfather!

Stay with me a bit and I’ll explain what I mean.                                                      

The term “woman painter” is a strange and often pejorative one in the male-dominated art world. It doesn’t make any sense when you really think about it. Why should my identity as a cis female in any way change the value or regard for my artwork. Art is art. Why does my gender matter? The term always left me feeling less than, like I had no right to be part of the art world—this place that called to me so profoundly.

So back to me in the museum. Crying in front of Wyeth’s early watercolors. Early in my return to painting two decades ago, I studied with Ted Betts in Virginia @theartleague. Ted was a brilliant mentor—kind and generous in his teaching. He painted in the tradition of Wyeth—often using those muted palettes, highly detailed hardscapes and landscapes. Ted passed away about 10 years ago and I miss him so much. He was such a force for good, kindness, and compassion in the world. From Ted I learnt how to mix colors, create light effects, choose paint and brushes, paint details, to know when a piece was ready and when a piece was still a work in progress, and over the course of the years I studied with him, I began my foray into working abstractly.

At the Seattle Art Museum last week, my epiphany was that for me, as an artist, Ted is my Painter Father.

Ted helped me grow my happy accidents into intention. He taught me so much and, most of all, he was respectful of me, my work and my aspirations. He was encouraging. He built my confidence after many others had torn it down. Standing in front of Wyeth’s watercolors, I pieced together that if Ted was my Painter Father, then Wyeth was my Painter Grandfather. Suddenly I went from orphan Woman Painter to painting royalty. Through painting, I had a direct connection to this artist. This was my Painter Patrilineage. On exhibit in the Seattle Art Muesum. I was uplifted and overwhelmed. 

And I cried with joy, grief, and relief.

So if you haven’t been yet, I recommend you go. For more information go to: Seattle Art Museum Exhibitions.

 

Oh yeah. That's me. Crying at the Andrew Wyeth exhibit.

Oh yeah. That's me. Crying at the Andrew Wyeth exhibit.

Green purple dark blue

The works in "What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?" are inspired by suggestions from people in my life and those who follow me on social media. I ask for inspiration and in return I paint images designed to refresh and restore. The works are small and prices for collecting multiples. Comment below and let me know what three colors bring you joy!

What 3 colors bring #joy? One person said green purple dark blue.

This 5"x7" piece is 95.00 (includes mat and shipping). PayPal accepted. Comment "WANT" to purchase or comment "MORE" to commission your own 3-color work and I'll message you.

"We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil."--Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven

Green purple dark blue. Acrylic on paper 5"x7" 95.00 (matted and shipped) 

Green purple dark blue. Acrylic on paper 5"x7" 95.00 (matted and shipped) 

New in the store: MT. RAINIER

After weeks of previewing my work in progress on social media, I'm pleased to announce that Mt. Rainier is complete and available in the store!

Mt. Rainier has a power and vibration like no other I've known before. When I first visited Seattle in 2012, I found the mountain (actually a volcano, but we'll stick with mountain for this story) kept popping up when I least expected it. Almost every time, I screamed or startled when I saw it on the horizon. I couldn't decide if it terrified or thrilled me. A believer in signs, I had no idea how to read this one: what did it portend? I decided in the end that it foretold a great adventure--a decision I made just as we made the decision to move to Seattle. Every sunny day in Seattle, I see the mountain and it brings me joy. This painting portrays the emotional impact of this beautiful mountain.

April Challenge!

I'm getting ready for a solo show in May. I have 25 paintings but I need to paint at least 75 What 3 Colors Bring You Joy paintings to get to an even 100! And I NEED YOUR HELP WITH INSPIRATION!! Please post what 3 colors bring you joy in the comments below. Share with your friends and ask them to post too. Thank you!! #aprilchallenge #75paintings #💯

Yellow pink red 5" x 7" Acrylic on paper (c) 2017. 95.00 USD matted and shipped in US. 

Yellow pink red 5" x 7" Acrylic on paper (c) 2017. 95.00 USD matted and shipped in US.