My Experience with a Renowned Painter -Part 1

In October 2014, for the first time since college, I made a major investment in my growth as an artist:

I attended my very first ever artist workshop!


Me with Renowned Painter David Gray

Me, with world renowned Portrait Artist David Gray!



Artist workshops are like mini college courses on a particular subject, usually taught by an experienced artist.

I chose to go to a portrait workshop to up my game before the launch of the “family portrait” side of my art business.

After stumbling upon this video, I knew who I wanted to learn from:



David teaches advanced portrait workshops all over the United States as well as Europe.

The closest workshop that wasn’t already booked solid was in Langley, Washington… I reserved my spot and bought my plane tickets right away :)

What I experienced in this little town, looking back now, was very profound…


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I’m going away for awhile…

I’ve been on a little break from my blog lately… not exactly by choice, but that’s another story… which I would love to share with you via email :)




My goal has always been one blog post a week, and I even promised it on my “about” page!

Truth is, all my posts up to this point take me 5+ hours over 7 days to research, write, edit, format, find a picture, make links, make some posts about it on Linked-in and Facebook and Google Plus…


To keep up with this blogging schedule I had to devote an hour every morning to it, usually 5-6am.

I kept it up for a good 6 months before I dropped the ball, fell off the horse, veered off the track… choose your metaphor 😉

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Remember, Heal and Hope

On 9-11-2011, I was given the honor of participating in the 10th anniversary remembrance of 9-11 on our own Capitol Steps in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Our local writer and advocate for the arts, Michael Shay, wrote a nice post about the day and the challenge that lay before me…

That’s me with my daughter Jayne, receiving artifacts from various churches and organizations in town to create the Interfaith Peace Sculpture :)


The attacks on my country in 2001 are still crystal clear in my mind. I was a senior in High School when it happened.

I woke early that morning in California and turned on the news. One of the trade center buildings had smoke billowing out of it but the reporters did not know what was going on… suddenly I watched live as the second plane hit.

It looked like something out of a movie. It was unbelievable.

At school that day, every classroom had the news on. We prayed, had moments of silence and held one another as we cried for the nearly 3,000 lives lost that terrible day.

On the 10th anniversary, the Cheyenne Interfaith Council wanted to promote peace and asked me to help in an artistic way.


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Artist Sasha Jawed on Being the Art

It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to Artist Sasha Jawed, a Pakistani painter and writer. She is writing for me this week as my first guest poster!

My post about “Nudity in Art” inspired her to share her experience with you today. Enjoy!



Enjoying a Green Tea Latte :)

He gave me a robe, led me into the classroom, took me to a corner where there were curtains I could undress behind, and handed me a book full of poses.
“In case you need some ideas,” he said.

Then he told me he would be back, I could take my time. I closed the curtains and began to flip through the book.

My hands were shaking and my armpits were sweating and I was hoping that no one would notice but then my heart hiccuped.

They were going to draw me, to look at me. They were going to notice everything, every insecurity I harbored about my appearance.

Why was I doing this? Why was I showing anyone what I tried so hard to conceal?

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The Trials of my First Zombification

Are you a zombie fan? You can’t ignore the awesome resurgence of zombies in our popular culture today. I’m loving it!

Dang it feels good to be a zombie!

Dang it feels good to be a zombie!


Every year in September, the Capitol City of Wyoming gets overrun with zombies for Cheyenne ZombieFest!

I donated a certificate for a free “zombification” the second year to help raise money for our local Little Theater.

I thought to myself, “I can paint someone as a zombie, totally!”

Yikes! I was in for a challenging treat…


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If You Are an Artist – You Are Your Brand

Artists are in an interesting spot. Ideally, we want to create from our hearts, but to do so for a living, we must build a personal brand based on, well, ourselves.

YOU are your BRAND

YOU are your BRAND

We all have a personal brand whether we know it or not. Everyday you advertise yourself to the world online. 
The World!!!
Your brand delivers your first impression to people who don’t know you, online and in person.
Like my friend Cory Huff says,
Depending on your profession, your personal brand may not be that important, but let me challenge you: your brand is very important no matter what you do.
For artists, the personal brand is paramount.
(If this whole “branding thing” is new to you or you would like a primer, click on Cory’s quote for a little intro to discovering your personal brand)
For this post, I’m sharing 3 things to keep in mind as you discover, create or build your personal brand, “mostly” online:
1. Keep your “brand” consistent
2. Stay authentic
3. The first 10 seconds are the most important

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Bouncing Back from Burnout

Restarting can be very difficult, especially after burning out. 


This was me... a little less hairy though ;)

This was me… a little less hairy though ;)

Have you ever ran until your body gave up?

The first 5 months of 2014 were my most productive in years thanks mostly to help from friends and family.
Even my children kept me going :) At least every other week, Jayne would encourage me, “Daddy, you should go paint. Spend some time in your studio.” I love that little girl!
Here are a few things I did:
-I built my website (with css expertise from Artist Mohala Johnson)
-I managed to crank out a blog post almost every week (with the editing prowess of Artist Sasha Jawed)
-I paid off a few debts (with the encouragement and example of my dear friends Adam and Sara Fansler, and Dave Ramsey)
-I took a leap and incorporated my non-profit, The Battered Bride Project (Nannette Alaniz is helping make this dream a reality)
-I finally created an LLC for my art business (with expert advice from my rockstar CPA, Roxanne Ostland)
I’m not bragging, I’m sharing this with you because in June I crashed and burned. I wrote about the 3 R’s because I really needed to get back on the horse, but it ended up being tougher than I thought.

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Get Back on Track Like a Pirate

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”  –Walter Elliott


Like a pirate

Like a pirate


Remember when you were learning to walk? Likely not, but it’s very likely you stumbled, fell, got hurt… but you kept trying until one day you were running!


When did you first learn to give up?


If you had so much tenacity as a baby then you still have it today, and now you have the ability to analyze everything with your intellect… oh, maybe that’s what gets in the way sometimes 😛


Recently I got burned out and it took me some time to realize it. I couldn’t figure out why all my motivation was gone… why I couldn’t get up in the mornings; couldn’t write, couldn’t paint… my creativity and tenacity were depleted.


I gave out a big “Arrrrrr” like a pirate and remembered a simple strategy I’ve used for some time now:


The 3 R’s

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Want to Improve? Be Your Own Worst Critic

Constant and never-ending improvement is a principle that will keep you moving forward in all aspects of your life.

DSC_10155 (2)

I have said before that I’m never satisfied with my work, because I always see room for improvement. This is a curse I picked up in art school.


Whenever I decide a painting is “close” to finished, I will scrutinize and critique it to death. I imagine my teachers and fellow students pointing out things like:


“The skin tone here is a little on the orange side. You could have added a little more alizarin crimson to make it more realistic.”


“The spacing between the left nostril and upper lip is off by about a centimeter.”


“Your background color choice could have created a more pleasing contrast with your focal point, but instead it dulls the whole painting.”


I create dozens of these statements while I’m painting. Without even thinking about it, I’m asking myself, “How can I make this better? How can I improve this?”


This process I go through helps me tremendously. With every painting I do, I am noting and improving my skill, and so can you!

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Is Nudity in Art just Porn?

Viewing a naked human body can be a very emotional experience.

Does Adam's Penis offend you?

You may have bad memories of nudity from your childhood, or maybe you were taught that our bodies are vessels for evil sexual desires.

Whatever your history or thoughts on nudity, art can change it for the better.

The human form has inspired artists for centuries, and its beauty is appreciated as a structure.

Sex is an optional topic when it comes to nudity in art, but as I’ve experienced first hand, it can still make people downright angry.

Read on to learn why I believe the naked human body is the most divine representation of purity imaginable.

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