One Thing Studying Art Has Taught Me — and How That Can Help You


There are no shortcuts to learning; you have to put in the time. Photo courtesy of Art Escapes Italy — a fantastic place to learn.

Reflecting on time set aside for learning, the one thing I can say is that there are no shortcuts. To make great art, one has to simply put in the time to learn. No one would ever sit down at a piano and expect to know how to play it, having never learned the scales. That’s the key to anything: “learn the scales” and practice. So where to begin if painting is what you desire to do?  Videos, books and classes.

My mentors all have fabulous videos available from their websites and YouTube. I have found Robert Burridge in particular to be a gracious and giving teacher. His videos are fantastic and he sends out a mini video to his mailing list every Monday. Sign up at
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See below for details on how to paint with me in Northern Michigan this month!

Sterling Edwards is a master watercolorist and has wonderful videos and a very helpful book available on his website:
The most helpful books I’ve found are:
 • “Alla Prima II Everything I Know About Painting and More”
• “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting”
• “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp
That should get you started! Now, I’d like to invite you to come study with me as well. I’ll be teaching two classes this month in Traverse City for TC Uncorked. Click here for the info.
Hope to see you there!

In ‘plein’ sight



‘Tis the season — for plein air painting, that is!

Spring and fall are the best seasons to get outside and be with nature. I can hardly believe all the change in Michigan since I’ve been away. The trees are in bloom; everything is green. Plants are bursting through the ground and filling up the space that winter vacated.


In Italy, I learned to focus on shapes, remembering to squint down and look through your eyelashes at the landscape. Not to get bogged down in the details. And to play with the subtleties of color. I can’t wait to take that information and play with it in the field.


Coming back from a learning retreat always gives you this extra burst of energy in your work. The best part of plein air painting is the being outside part: listening to the birds, really looking at nature. But sometimes you have to build up the suspense inside yourself. Life’s just that way. You are in one place, focusing really hard on one thing, and then something else comes up and you want to focus on that.


I’m headed away again midweek, this time with my husband. We are going to a conference where he will be presenting something he’s been working really hard on, and I can’t wait to support him and spend time with him. It’s all about balance in the end. So for now, the art will have to wait; it’s time to be a wife, and I’m looking forward to it.

As always the best conversations happen over on Facebook and Instagram. I love hearing from you and learning what you’re focused on right now or what you’re learning — come tell me about it! I’ll look forward to seeing you there!