Random Art Education

Over the last year, I decided I was going to be focused on developing new art skills.  I like to draw, but I want to be better.  I like the idea of oil painting, but where do you even start?

FullSizeRender (1) I initially started by searching for Art schools/degrees/programs… and somehow, perhaps serendipitously, came upon this blog post titled Don’t go to art school. It was so important for me to read this.  I had always kicked myself for not going, feeling I had missed my chance, but reading what the writer had to say I discovered there were other (and more cost efficient!) avenues.

At that point I started trying to focus in on what skills I would like to learn and what style I really connected with.  I hadn’t figured that out and looking back I think I wanted Art School to propel me into a path up until that point.  Through the process of investigating what classes were out there I discovered there were places called ateliers that taught using the methods of the old masters.  From that point on, the whole Classical Realism movement hooked me in and really just fell in love with it.

I love the history and skill and beauty of it all. Bringing a slow, technical skill that’s end result is beautiful and real feels important in this increasingly fast toxic world.

Some of the places I have found that have been really helpful to me and my be helpful to you if you’re starting an artistic journey.

Sadie Valeri (online and in studio)

Sadie has an atelier in San Francisco and for some reason she wants to share her knowledge with us. Don’t ask why… just go with it and soak it in. I went to her studio once a week for about 6 months. She is the real deal and I am so happy I was able to learn from her! Eventually the long 1 hr drive to the city and 2 hr drive home took it’s toll and I decided to stop and find somewhere a bit closer to home.  I hope to get to workshops throughout the year with even more amazing painters/instructors. Also, I have plans to pick up on her online instruction.  You can check out Sadie’s FB class here.





NUMU is a local museum 10 minutes from my house and where I will now be taking classes! It sure makes a difference going from 3 hours of driving to 20 minutes! And I can fit it in with the kid’s school hours – big plus! If you are in San Jose area, check it out!
FullSizeRender (2)


Colossal did an advertisement post about Craftsy and it looked really interesting! So I thought I’d try it out with Oil Painting.  I have only really worked with drawing and watercolor and know NOTHING about oil. I have been working on the painting below using the info and process from The Oil Painter’s Handbook and Paint and Palette Essentials. It has been so fun! And I’m really happy with the amount of information I have received from an online class.
FullSizeRender (3)

The online courses are great, but I would recommend getting into an atelier to anyone wanting to pursue art.  It’s not like I’ve made a ton of new BFFs, but just being around other artists has done so much for me in continuing to be excited about art and the process of art.  To regularly be with people who want to learn and create so much they fit it into busy schedules is so inspiring!


I did it.

I have been part of the Sadie Valeri’s Online classes on FB (interested? go here) and it has been a really great way to get my feet wet in really trying to learn true techniques – not just playing around with materials like I’ve been doing with watercolor for years.  I started finding myself being frustrated at the speed of my progress and while I’m sure that’s part of the learning curve, I can also tell that I would be learning so much better/faster with hands-on instruction.

Josie-Texidor_EllipseExercise1 Josie-Texidor_OutlineExercises5 Josie-Texidor_OutlineExercises7


When the frustration set-in I just started avoiding my studio altogether. But stopping isn’t really an option because this artistic path is supposed to happen.  It is my density.


So you know what? Instead of being frustrated I realized it’s just time to make a shift.  My goal was always to get my feet in the atelier at some point and, hey, it seems there’s no time like the present.  So, the big news is…. I booked my first REAL IN-STUDIO class yesterday! It’s a One-Day Intro Drawing Class to kind of get a feel for the space and whether or not it’s a place I truly want to study. This is HUGE for me! :)

I could not be more excited and know it’s the right decision. It will come with it’s own challenges, like driving to the city as well as feeling nervous being a noobie surrounded by crazy talent.  But that’s also what I love about it – Driving to city! Surrounded by crazy talent!

I can’t wait and will let you know how it goes. :)

This entry was posted in art.

Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking (Book Highlights)

My highlights from:


Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned how to continue – or more precisely, have learned how to not quit.


What separates artists from ex-artists is that those who challenge their fears, continue; those who don’t, quit.


All that you do will inevitably be flavored with uncertainty – uncertainty about what you have to say, about whether the materials are right, about whether the piece should be long or short, indeed about whether you’ll ever be satisfied with anything you make.


The truth is that the piece of art which seems so profoundly right in its finished state may earlier have been only inches or seconds away from total collapse.


Artists get better by sharpening their skills or by acquiring new ones; they get better by learning to work, and by learning from their work.


So when you ask, “Then why doesn’t it come easily for me?” , the answer is probably, “Because making art is hard!”


…to require perfection is to invite paralysis.


You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do – away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.


…the seed for your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece.


Audence comes later.  The only pure communication is between you and your work.


When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets.  But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.

Let’s Uncover Mystery and Wonder

You know that feeling of life feeling too closed in? I have that lately. Life is GOOD, but it’s also like I’m in a straightjacket of checklists and to-do’s and appointments. Every thing is getting done, but… you know. That’s it. Yay?

I have this vision of unbinding my arms and REACHING as high as they can go, then slowly swinging them around, flapping, grabbing, hugging, shaking – just allowing my body to do anything and everything I have been unable to do while bound. And that stretch feels so good!

That’s what it’s like when I allow my mind time to stretch and wonder.  Some find a thrill in completing and checking off but, for artists, I believe magic happens when we wonder.

It is allowing a life-giving moment – a moment of stirring. Sitting with an idea before a creation takes shape. It is a spiritual practice shown by the ultimate Creator himself.

I think of God creating and moving and thinking…moving freely with excitement when ideas come to mind. I’m going to go out even further. I’m going to push this galaxy here and that star there. Yes, that was perfect. Then stop to pull himself back and consider how to finish up the details – the color and angles of a speck of sand. I’ll make it so it slides gracefully in the water, but becomes lodged and immovable with a ton of the same substance.

Today I’m allowing myself time to wonder about the bigness…

…and smallness of us all.


I’m wondering Just what kind of place are we really living in? When you really stop to think about it… where ARE we?! What IS this?

I’m wondering about Earth and the centuries upon centuries of life on this planet that we have not experienced, yet are somehow connected to – through our blood, dirt, water, dna.

I’m wondering if there will be a way to somehow put these thoughts onto canvas, but if not, that’s okay.

I’m just stretching and marveling in unabashed wonder and getting lost. I will sit here and stir the mystery.


Artful 2015

I ran into Craftsy on Colossal one day and now have a new favorite place on the internet! I love it when that happens!


You can learn just about anything there (woodworking, baking, weaving, photography, etc) but I am partial to the art classes, of course.  I am starting with a Sketchbook Course. A few years ago I used to sketch with a group Every Day Matters and I found it to be really helpful in keeping art in the forefront of my mind.  It also really helped develop some better drawing skills (which I’ve probably lost at this point)… just from daily repetition and training the eye. So I chose this class because of that and because I think it would be a great combination with my Sadie Valeri online class. I’ve mentioned that class before.  It’s been slow-going but that’s okay. It’s just what has been necessary, but I’m plugging away ever so slowly. :)


Dave will be working from home on Thursdays and we’re planning on locking me in the art room on those days so I can focus on her online course. The BIG goal is sometime before I’m 40 (so this year) I want to get into a real class in the downtown San Francisco atelier once a week. I keep talking about it, but I have to remind myself of the goal too, you know. 😉

I’ll be posting the pics to Instagram, if you want to follow along this year: Instagram


Here’s a creative 2015!

Why I Support Blood:Water Mission



Blood:Water Mission is an organization partnering with Africa to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises. Dave and I first heard about it years ago at a Jars of Clay concert.  We liked the approach they seemed to be taking, especially working WITH the people in Africa.  They weren’t coming in as Americans to “save” them or leave quick fixes that fall apart, but to understand the problems through the people who live there and work together to find solutions.  That impressed us and made us want to be part of something with that approach.

Shortly thereafter I heard Sara Groves spoke of her journey to Africa, too, and she told a story of how she walked with mothers for miles to get their children water. Only she was surprised when they finally arrived at the water source because it wasn’t fresh, clean water, as you’d expect… it was contaminated and disease-ridden.

Do I give my child water to keep them alive? Or do I give my child water and risk them dying from disease?

How in the world do you make that choice as a mother?

We had one child, at the time, and I really couldn’t wrap my mind around it.  I would do anything for him and that story just got in my head and wouldn’t let me go.

So, for me personally, I guess my support started as mom-to-mom.  I wanted to help these women give LIFE to their kids without worry.

And Blood:Water breaks the numbers down so easily ($1.oo gives 1 African water for 1 year) and makes the process of raising money fun, while at the same time making a serious difference… a difference in helping someone LIVE.

That is not a small thing. That is everything and exactly why I support Blood:Water Mission.


Art Class

It’s happening!

When we decided it was time for our family to move up to the SF Bay Area I started looking at Art Schools in the area. That is how I learned about Sadie Jernigan Valeri.  She is an amazing classically trained artist who owns an atelier in downtown San Francisco.  I’ve been ooo-ing and ahh-ing at the pictures she posts on FB and telling myself that once we get settled, I will sign up for a class(es).

I’ve also been trying to sign my kids up for therapies and schools and realizing I’m not going to have much time, even when the schoolyear comes. So an hour drive downtown all of a sudden seemed really, really unattainable.  That’s when a single tear rolled down my cheek.

But wait!  She then announced she will be starting an online study group starting in September.  So I signed up and the sun is shining again!





Online Study Group with Sadie Valeri


I’m so excited to start to dip my feet in!  Maybe when Violet is in school FT I will be able to get up to the real studio but for now I’m so excited for this guidance and opportunity!

relearning God



I am in a perpetual state of relearning God.


The God I once knew was frustrated, shocked, embarrassed, ashamed… of me & of others & the state of the world… all-powerful yet dependent on me/us somehow.


Get on your knees and thank the lord for loving your nasty self. You better stay on that narrow path or God will no longer be near.


That God is no longer my god. That reeks of human.


The God I am now beginning to understand is light and love & compassion when least deserved. Not because I BEG for mercy, but because when I say, “Man, I messed up.” he wants to move me closer to truth.  God doesn’t think I’m lovable despite myself; He loves me because… well, I think I’m still learning that part.  Why does God love me? Just because I’m me?


This Creator who has no form  (is light and air and energy) made galaxy upon galaxy in this vast everlasting cosmic universe and wants to excite, inspire and thrill my soul.  Why do we act like that is normal?  Why do we act like we understand something that is so beyond us?


God is light, love, mercy and God is fascinating.




more thoughts on faith

There was a huge implosion in the Christian world last week.  If you’re not aware of what happened and are interested, I would encourage you to go here and work your way backwards. Being a big fan of theirs, I follow Dan Haseltine and Jars of Clay on twitter and watched it all happen in realtime.  It wasn’t (and isn’t) pretty. I won’t rehash everything here, because it’s all out there and you can gather your own thoughts about it.

But I wanted to mention a couple things after witnessing the evangelical Christian response…

1. Being a minister/leader and having questions shouldn’t mean you’re leading people astray.

While reading some comments from Christian Fundamentals, I came across multiple people shaming Dan because as a leader he should not be questioning.  That by doing so it is leading people away from faith because “the stance” of the church isn’t bending.

But to not be able to question makes Christianity more of a cult than a faith.

I have had many “leaders” in my life who have everything figured out and have all of the “right” answers and know exactly how my life should look, feel and probably smell. But to live in robotic submission is not life and that is not being human.

The response I got from questioning is what made me walk away from the church in the first place.  Leaders who do not question or allow others to question = people who only want to control. To say you have all of the answers to all of life’s questions and never misinterpret and always understand scripture is just scary and delusional. I am incredibly thankful to those who admit to wrestling with ideas that this ever-changing world throws at us. It helps me lean in and listen.

2. Stop using scripture to speak for you.

Scripture is alive and god-breathed and a wonderful guide and comfort, but it is also a weapon used in conversation purely to shut people up.  And why? To be the winner? To be the rightest of the right?  I don’t get it. Oh my goodness, you should see the amount of scripture posted on the Jars of Clay FB page!

Here is an example that has probably happened:

Person 1: I like to eat boogers.

Person 2: Ezekiel 38:18-19 18“It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” declares the Lord GOD, “that My fury will mount up in My anger. 19“In My zeal and in My blazing wrath I declare that on that day there will surely be a great earthquake in the land of Israel.”

When I see this happen, I kind of want to scream.  or vomit. (Scromit?) Years ago when Dave and I were going through our emotionally painful experience of infertility (you can feel the grief in your bones, people) I had a personal experience with this on some message boards.  An article I had read on infertility had really spoken to me, so I went to thank the author and maybe talk to other women going through a similar journey.  What I found was a bunch of holier-than-thou Bible thumpers who I guarantee didn’t have any experience with infertility, but sure had A LOOOOOT of opinions about it.  They were reaming the author on stupid, irrelevant points that were in the article.  I posted some thoughts and my personal experience with infertility – to try to explain and give a view of  a person actually going through one of the hardest, gut-wrenching things a woman can go through.  I explained the grieving, the hoping, the praying, etc.

What I got back was if I was truly where God wanted me to be, I would be happy about my infertility, because Isaiah 54:1 clearly states,

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD.”

Really? REALLY?! When someone is at their lowest, is it really Godly to tell them they should be jumping for joy?  The pain of infertility was sin? Freaking screw you. I walked away feeling more alone than ever. And I bet that chick walked away patting herself on the back for using the Bible for correcting because, you know, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Stop hiding behind scripture (as amazing as it is!) and start being HUMAN for goodness sake.  God gave human beings a range of emotions to FEEL and amazing brains to THINK. The sooner the Christian world figures that out, the better.

3. Having faith doesn’t mean not having thoughts or questions.

To be alive is to question. To be alive is to have thoughts.



Watch video here.

I know the Christian world is in some sort of transitional stage right now and that gives me hope because it is opening in ways that make me engaged again.  But in the meantime the loudest, most aggressive and resistant to change or not change (ie thinking) are that way because they can sense the tide turning and are grasping for man-made control.


Anyway.  That’s it. Not sure how to wrap this up…. Just a few thoughts I had to get off my chest.

The End.