I collect people

Someone told me once that I “collect people”. She was referencing the fact that usually after she ends a job or moves onto a new chapter in her life, she rarely stays in touch with people from that period of her life. After a decade, she was still my friend and we see each on a regular basis.

I Would Give You a Rose Garden web

I thought about what she said and she’s right. I do collect people in a sense. Relationships mean a great deal to me. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in a small town where you became so close to everyone or I have always made people my family. Regardless, once you’re in my realm of friends, you’re probably there for good.

I sold a painting this week and was shocked and elated to see it was someone from 20 years ago. It made my heart happy that 20 years later he was still part of my life in a way even though we are no longer on the same path of our journey. They say building relationships matter when trying to run a business, but to me, relationships matter in building a life.

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Just Be You

For years I’ve been curious about the New York Art Expo. I’ve wondered if it’s something I might want to do. There’s a lot of publicity around it. About 35,000 people attend in a weekend and people come from all over. I decided this year I would go check it out.

As soon as I made the decision I also called an artist friend I met 11 years ago in Budapest at an art residency who now lives in NYC. She runs the Women’s International Artist’s Salon and is connected to many female artists in the New York region. To my surprise she asked if  would like to give an artist talk the weekend I was there because it just so happened to coincide with the monthly meeting.

I said yes without thinking about it. Then I got nervous. What am I going to talk about to a bunch of other artists? New York artists!? (As if geography made it different somehow).

I finally decided that I would just be me. I have never liked the pretentious side of art. I am just me. Kansas girl who loves the country, has big city dreams, and loves to travel, and painting keeps me sane.

My talk couldn’t have gone better. I spoke about how my art has evolved over the years into using texture in my paintings, and the transformational moment that pushed it in that direction.

I was approached after with hugs and some thanks. The moment someone told me that I inspired them, I knew why I was there. That is my biggest wish, to inspire others to shine their light and to just be themselves no matter how scary it might be sometimes.

I met so many amazing artists on this trip. I came back with lots of new ideas, inspiration for new paintings, marketing objectives, and lots of new creative friends. (I will share a video of my talk as soon as it is posted on YouTube).


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New York here I come

For several years I’ve been wondering about the New York Art Expo. It seems so shiny
i-love-ny-308460_960_720to a Kansas girl. Artists, galleries, New York…it can all be a little intimidating. Deep down, its some place I think I might want to show my work though. There’s a lot of potential there for opportunities.

I decided that I would invest in my art career and go check it out. I’m leaving this week to go to New York and check out the Expo. I’m hoping to come back with lots of ideas and a decision of whether or not it’s a fit for me.

In the meantime, I started contacting friends there. This in itself has led to a really cool opportunity! I will be giving an artist talk for the International Women’s Artists Salon on Saturday evening. It will be recorded so hopefully I’ll be able to share after its over.

I’m opening myself up to all possibilities and looking forward to a week out of my element.


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I got my first rejection letter!

I read somewhere that if you’re not getting rejections you’re not reaching far enough. This has stuck with me. Probably because I avoid doing anything that leads to rejection. After letting this resonate with me for awhile, I have decided that I need to reach further.


Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and tons of other creatives have shared that they have all received a huge amount of rejections.  For some reason I found some comfort in this. In fact, I decided to take it in stride. I’m look forward to the rejections. It’s par for the course and I’m not going to get anywhere playing it safe.

This week (even though it made me feel a little sick to my stomach) I contacted two artisan boutiques about selling my work. The next day I received my first rejection letter. Turns out, it didn’t sting nearly as bad as I thought it would. I was given the reasoning that they are not looking for new artists at this time. Maybe for the first time in my life I managed to not take it personal. Then the second letter came, and guess what? They love my stuff and want to set up a meeting!

Whoa! Something I’ve wanted to do for over two years but was too afraid to stick myself out there, and with one simple email I have a meeting.

Time to stick myself out there. Bring on the rejections (and some new ventures)!

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Sometimes you lose sight

I recently read the book “Year of Yes”. If you haven’t read it, seriously, go read it. I avoided it for a long time because I kept thinking, ‘I don’t need another book on how to to say Yes more. I say yes plenty’. This book surprised me quite a bit though.

It made me realize that I have made A LOT of excuses in my life. Painting keeps me sane. So I paint. But due to some contract work, I quit booking shows for fear I would be on the road.  I have been a little intimidated to apply for some other opportunities that have been sitting on my desk. I use excuses like, “I probably won’t be around to do them” and “this pays better”.

I realized I have used the contract job in a lot of areas in my life. Yes, it does require a lot of travel time. Turns out this year, I put all my eggs in one basket. I planned my entire life around a job that didn’t come to fruition.

Here’s what I’ve realized about myself this week. I no longer have a social life. I use to be quite social, but when you travel a lot, you are happy for any moment at home with your family. I have stopped leaving the house, being involved in social settings, and being active in my community. When I am home I’m painting alone in my studio or doing something with my son.

I have let myself go. Health wise, I am not at an optimal place. This one sort of snuck up on me. Again, I used the excuse of travel. It’s hard to eat healthy when you travel (though it can be done with a little effort). It’s hard to have a routine, therefore I don’t work out. I use to hike a lot, but Kansas winter halted that.

This week trying to do pretend Ninja Warrior on a course my son and I set up on playground I realized just how bad it had gotten. I finished the course, but found myself really struggling to climb and throw my legs over top bars, do monkey bars, etc. That was my wake up moment. When did this get so damned hard?

And insert book, “Year of Yes”. I’ve been busy making excuses. So this week I decided to stop. I sold 2 paintings this week because I got my ass in gear and started painting and marketing. I am approaching 4 galleries this week. I also signed up for a mud run challenge with my son and said yes when asked if I wanted to join a sand volleyball team. Seriously, exercise and social activity? Who am I right now?

So expect to see lots more art. I have inspiration oozing out of me and it’s time to focus. No more excuses. I have been handed the time to run with my art and to take care of me. What excuses are you making?

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Flowers that Never Die

When my son was a toddler, he use to talk people into buying me Rose Heart webflowers on his behalf because he knew that I loved them. When he was about 3 he became sad when I explained he couldn’t keep touching the flower petals because it made them die faster. He was so upset that they died. I told him I would paint flowers so they never die.

Since then, my flowers have evolved. I’ve been on a mission for over a year to figure out how to create textured flowers using only acrylic paint. After much trial and error, I finally have figured it out. I’ve been making paintings with my new textured flowers.

Loe grows here.jpgIf you’re looking for flowers that never die for Valentine’s Day or just to say ‘I love you, consider a flower painting. You can see a selection of the new paintings here.

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Flowers and Cows

I paint textured landscapes and flowers, and I paint cows. I love both subject matters in very different ways. I’ve decided that for marketing purposes I need to separate the two.

As a result, all of my landscapes and flowers will still be found on my website www.StrokeofRed.comPresent original. I have started a new website dedicated to just my cows and barnyard babies, www.HappyCowPaintings.com.

My hope is to simplify my marketing efforts and let clients and potential clients see the work they’re looking for without sorting through what they aren’t looking for.

Please take a look at my new site and let me know what you think.

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