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Creatively Taking on the New Year in Just Two Steps


In the stillness of winter is the perfect time to go within and ask: What do I want? (Pictured here: Crystal River, oil painting)

First dream, then plan. That’s it.

These markers of time — end of year, anniversary, birthdays —  they are sacred times of reflection. Yes, of course, celebrate, raise your glass in “cheers,” but also — and maybe more importantly — it’s a time to go all in.

Making art will quickly teach you the importance of being still with yourself. The creative process makes you pull from places so deep inside you didn’t even know you had. It’s from that place inside that growth and goal setting comes from. So each year, as I grow a year older, celebrate another year of being in business and being married, and turn over the calendar to a new page, I find that the most sacred part of it all is taking the time to go within. Thinking about where the road has taken me and where I want it to go.

It starts with my journaling, just writing and writing until a theme or pattern emerges. Once the theme appears, it’s time to set goals around it, form actionable plans.

The next step is figuring out how to achieve that goal. For example, one goal I have is to play more in the studio, do more things outside of my everyday landscape painting. Drawing more and painting abstracts are both on the list. (Stay tuned: You can learn more about these two ying and yang in a upcoming blog.) Both are joys for me. So I can wish for it, or I can actually put in on the calendar. “On the calendar” is the only way anything gets done in my world. (How about you? Do you function the same way?) So in the new year, my iPhone will remind me, every Wednesday morning: It’s play time.

It’s at this time of year that I light a fire, get the candles burning, put Jose Gonzales on Pandora and write down all my desires, and set in motion plans for make them a reality.

As always, I love to hear from you. What do you do this time of year to grow your creativity and your life? Comment below. And join me on Facebook and Instagram where the conversation is always happening!


Wintertime view from Bohemian Road, just off of M22, on Leelanau Peninsula (oil painting)

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!