The #1 Most Important Lesson I Ever Learned About Art — and It Might Shock You


Different interpretations of the same view

Great artists are created, not born. Art is not a magical fairy dust bestowed on just a few. It’s the product of discipline and commitment and showing up every day. With the exception of the .0001% of the population that truly is born with extraordinary savant-like skill, the rest of us, as the great Chuck Close said, just have to show up and get to work.


This is how you learn to be a great painter. It’s also how you learn to be a great anything, whether it be in sports, a musical instrument, cooking — anything you learn to master is the result of a lot of hours and hours of practice. A lifetime, in many cases. So being outcome-driven really isn’t the point. If I had to wait a lifetime to be satisfied with my work, the long journey might not be worth it. It’s a battle, everyday, but my commitment is to the process. It kind of has to be, don’t you think?

On his deathbed, at age 91, Picasso said, “… and I was finally starting to figure this painting thing out.” While Picasso was an exceptionally gifted artist from a very young age, he makes the very important point. We paint to teach ourselves how to paint. If we had it all figured out, we wouldn’t have to show up every morning to paint. And therein lies the joy. The joy of art is about the process. If I had to suffer through the making of every painting just to be pleased with something at the end I might be missing the point and the joy. Art, as is so often the case, is a metaphor for life: Be in the moment, and the rest takes care of itself.


Whether you are an art maker or an art appreciator, I hope these glimpses inside the process are helpful. The best part about blogging is hearing from you; as always, we love to hear from you in the comments. Keep the discussion going! Every day, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram, where I love hearing from you and communicating. Hope to see you there!


A Fall Guide to Leelanau


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We are really lucky this year. The fall colors are lasting, and as I type, on Oct. 23, color has not quite reached peek in a Leelanau. This is rare, and I think you should take advantage of it and book your trip north. There is still time. Today I heard we are at 70% color; my eye agrees. So good news, people: still lots of fall goodness to be had.  Here’s my must-do fall list for Leelanau.

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I’m always influenced by my latest projects, and having just finished Project 24, a series where I painted on location at all 24 (26, by the time I finished) wineries in the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. And I just launched a project with the Leelanau Conservancy to paint their protected lands. (A side note: On the Conservancy’s website is a book you can not leave home without, “The Trails of M22: 40 of the Most Beautiful Paths along Michigan’s Most Beautiful Highway.” My copy is dog-eared and very loved after its first season.”
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Fall goodness off of M-22

That being said, here’s how I’d spend a perfect day in Leelanau:
I’d get up early and head down Bohemian Road towards Bohemian Beach. About halfway down the road, you will see swamp lands on both sides of the road, where the cold mornings create some amazing fog and mist. Teamed with fall colors, it’s spectacular.
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Moon rise over the swamplands on Bohemian Road

After you snap your photos, head on down to the beach for a stroll in the magical morning light. Take note of the pine trees lining the shore. They are very expressive and always bring a smile to my face.
You’ll be hungry now, and stoping at Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor is how I like to start my days. It’s an experience and by no means a secret. It will be your new favorite dive that’s not really a dive at all.
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Then I’d head down M22 to Clay Cliffs for a hike. The lookout point over Lake Michigan is a breath catcher, and  the view over Lake Leelanau in fall is not to be missed. Enjoy!  I’m excited for you just thinking about it.
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The view of Lake Leelanau from Clay Cliffs

Now that you’re done hiking, you’ve earned a treat: It’s time to hit a few vineyards, many of which serve small plates along with their delicious libations. I’m not biased: They are all wonderful. A few with views that will show off fall colors include L.Mawby and 45 North; both of these vistas are protected by the Leelanau Conservancy. A few others where you can sip and enjoy the  fall color parade are Rove Estate, Black Star Farms and Blustone Vineyards. There are plenty more — just check a few out, and next time you’re up, a few more. They all have maps with all of the wineries listed. They are ALL worth the visit (just not in one day, ha).

Fall goodness at L. Mawby

The sun is setting earlier these days, but it’s no less extraordinary. Head over to Van’s Beach in Leland to watch the sunset and finish off your day with a meal to remember. You know the saying “October skies”? You’ll see why. But bundle up, it gets cold on Lake Michigan this time of year.
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Dinner time? This is foodie country, so you can’t really go wrong. Since you’re in Leland, the Riverside Inn is always exceptional, but there is so much good food in Leelanau — I recommend them all!
Now, have fun editing up those amazing photos, and patting yourself on the back for throwing caution to the wind and spending the day in Pure Leelanau! Cheers!
As always, I love hearing from you. I hope you’ll post your favorite things to do in the fall in the comments. And to see many more photos, art and adventure, follow me on Instagram and Facebook.