Monthly Archives: November 2018


For the past 26 years, I have been a mentor to high school students. Some of these relationships came about through established organizations such as the Grand Marais Art Colony and Kinship Mentor North. Parents who homeschool their kids have also asked me to provide art education that they did not feel confident teaching.

I’ve mentored young musicians, artists and photographers… international students, kids in foster care… kids from all different backgrounds.

It is a wonderful feeling when I see these kids go on to pursue art degrees, or success in music careers.

They say I inspired them to become artists. Little did they know that I was inspired by them the whole time.

You do not need to go to art school to be an inspiration. Just tell your story however you choose to tell it. Your passion will make you stand out. Once you achieve a level of confidence, you will be a leader. You will not need validation from others, because you will only need approval from one person. Yourself.

I think the majority of people lack confidence. Not in their skill, but in themselves. Your confidence will draw others to you. They will want what you have, or want to spend time with you.

When I was in my 20’s, I wanted to paint dark, disturbing images. They were usually self portraits in black and white, often with blood red dripping from them. I thought I was being deep. They carried titles of resentment like Umbrage and Imbroglio. Those morphed into oil pastels like Screaming In Your Sky and The Great Train Robbery Of My Soul when I was in my early 30’s.

When I was 36, my daughter was born. When I picked up the paintbrush again, the paintings came out in bright colors.

That is when I began to have success as an artist. When I say success, I mean personal satisfaction and sales.

Not all of my paintings are happy or colorful, but they are about more than just scaring my mother.

My paintings are moments. They’re like visual journal entries that tell my reality. My intention is twofold. I want to tell my story, and I want to do it in a way that is compelling enough to make others want to tell their story, too.

As I have said, my daughter’s birth marked a significant change in my art. But the simplest life events find their way onto my canvas. When my hat fell off into the river, and I went under the overpass to retrieve it. Driving along highway 61 at dusk.

Whatever my brain is processing, will eventually come out one way or another.

No One But You

I think creativity is a response. Whether I am hurt, inspired, afraid or hopeful, I respond by acknowledging these feelings through images or the written word.

I don’t always see the finished product in my head before I start it. It is a process. Creativity is the way I sort through the feelings.

When I find a jumble of knotted cords in a drawer or closet, I don’t see the solution. I just find an end and start unraveling them. Before long, I have separate extension cords or useable headphones.

My brain feels like a jumble of tangled strings. My emotions feel overwhelming until I start to slowly untie them. I begin to see how they are connected.

When I paint, I just start somewhere and keep going until I’ve organized the paint in a way that makes sense to me.

Honestly, the thing I do to get into a creative mindset is to pick up a paintbrush, and dip it into a color.

The message I try to put into every painting is that this is my story. You can tell your story any way you want to. Just as your story is different from mine, your method of telling it will be different, too.

You can trust yourself, because you are the expert on being you.

No one else can express your thoughts and feelings. No one but you.


I believe I am a creative person because I create images and stories. I take my imagined scenarios and interpret them through paint or the written word. With the stroke of a paintbrush or tapping on a keyboard, I can make those invisible thoughts visible. As much as I would like to say that I’m not influenced by the views of other people, this is not really true. I know that I am creating for the public, so I want to inspire and entertain. Do I need everything to be perfect? No. Do I need everything to be beautiful? No.

The particular culture of the small town I live in is supportive. It seems to understand the role of artists here. Some of us are lucky enough to live here. Others flock to the area for festivals, and classes.

People don’t always understand my creative endeavors, but on some level, they understand me. I think they are sometimes surprised when I talk about my work, and that dialogue can make a lot of difference.

There is no one right answer to the meaning. I share my thoughts and my motivation, but I love it when someone sees something in my work that I was not aware of.

When viewing art or listening to music, we bring our whole life along with us. We see and hear everything through the filter of our accumulated experience. Original intent is what the artist did, but that is not the whole story. Not even close. Multiply that original viewpoint by the number of viewers who see it.

The ripples go out.

Maybe I am inspired by the work of another artist. I paint my impression of something about their work. Someone else may get an idea from what I’ve done, and so on. Our influence travels out from us, in ways we will never know. It laps against the shore far away, and may bring up treasures we never dreamed of.

Heart and Soul

My heart and soul are the software that runs my body. They animate my brain and my hands, which are just tools that my soul uses to leave a visible record that I was here. I’m often surprised by what comes out. By the color my eyes see, the heaviness or lightness of the paint stroke, the effect of many brush strokes in a composition.

My hand holds the brush only because the soul uses the brain to tell it to.

I’m not sure I could be completely random at all, unless I were to paint in complete darkness without seeing the paint I use or the canvas upon which I am painting.


Picasso said that The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

That’s a beautiful and poetic thought! To me, this quote expresses a byproduct of creating art. I often say that painting is meditative for me. I compare it to breathing and dreaming. It is centering and restorative. It washes the dust of daily life off my soul… but I don’t see that as the purpose.

For ME, the purpose of art is to communicate. I don’t mean here’s a picture of a tree, and it communicates what a tree looks like.

I believe art is how we communicate what it means to be a human being.

Words are a wonderful way to express, with great nuance, our experience of this fleeting time we have in our bodies. But the reader must understand the symbols we call letters, and the language that our sentences form in order for the message to be understood.

I can’t read hieroglyphics, but I can relate to the images created by ancient people.

The images I create have to speak for themselves. I won’t always be there to interpret the pictures.

The viewer must extrapolate the meaning, whether they are looking at an image of a tree, a fish in a tree, or a complete abstraction.

What I have seen and what I have felt are in the layers of paint. These experiences interface with the accumulated experiences of the viewer, and communication happens.

You might shrug and say So what? Or I don’t get it. Or you might say Me too!

Maybe the viewer is a fellow human, alive in my lifetime. Maybe someone will find something I have made 3,000 years from now. Or 20,000 years from now. Maybe an alien being will stumble across my art long after humans have disappeared. Maybe they will have eyes to see it.


Maybe they will see that I was a human, and that I felt like this.


A lot has changed in my life since my last blog entry!

I am no longer working nights. I’ve taken full time work during the day as a teacher at the YMCA!

My nursing license qualifies me to be the lead teacher in the infant room. What a wonderful thing!

This means I sleep during the night, and this has taken some getting used to!

I am fully licensed as a foster care provider, so my new work schedule allows me to have children in my care at home, too.

I look back on the last few years, and particularly the month of September, and realize that I was way too busy.

And I am not impressed by busy-ness.

I read an article today that suggested that instead of saying I’m too busy, we should just say it’s not a priority. That’s really the truth.

And it’s really uninteresting to hear someone talk about how busy they are.

We all fill 24 hours per day. We do. We fill it with whatever is a priority to us.

I work. I write. I paint. I socialize. I often do these things simultaneously. It doesn’t mean I’m busy. It means I am spending this time doing this thing. Alone, or with someone else.

Work is not time away from my life. It is how I spend part of my life.

How fortunate I am, to spend my working hours making a difference in someone else’s life.

When I nurture others, I nurture myself.

I am forming relationships with new little people who are just beginning to form their neural pathways and their trust of others.

Their mental filters will grow more and more complex over the years, but it is built on this framework which started developing in the womb, and will continue throughout their lives.

I don’t ever want to be too busy to listen to someone. To watch someone’s accomplishment. To answer a question. To play peek-a-boo.

I never want to be so busy that I say You are not a priority.