Tag Archives: artwork

Why You Should Study Art


Youth, they say, is wasted on the young. Not always, of course, but the older I get, the more I understand the sentiment. In part, your youth is spent resenting the requirements of school. I, for one, was 27 before I truly enjoyed learning for the first time. I went back to college then, partly to explore the curiosity about learning that was suddenly bubbling up inside me. The feeling of anticipation, sitting on the edge of my seat as my professors would unveil the techniques of art or the stories of art history, is burned in my memory like an old master’s etching.


The view from my window at La Casa Berti

And so,  I find myself at 43, still on the edge of my seat, still, and even more so, ready to learn.

There are times when I feel so completely disappointed that we get but one life to learn all of the many joys there are in this world. So one must make choices: Do I want to learn a little about a lot, or a lot, about a little?

To a certain extent, each of us makes our compromises in our learning to something in between those two extremes. If you’re really lucky, you’ll learn a lot about something, but keep with you an endless curiosity about everything.

This is where I find myself. At a place in my life that is fully dedicated to art. The unfolding and excavation of all things art. From history to technique — yes, please, sign me up!

With my great need to learn more, I started looking for a place to go, and I landed back in Florence.  Florence, Italy, is the most beautiful blending of so many areas of interest. Somewhere around the mid part of the fifteenth century the Renaissance bloomed. “Renaissance” literally means rebirth, a rebirth of knowledge and learning.  And Florence was the epicenter of this return to the exploration Ancient Greek and Roman ways — philosophy, art and curiosity.

In ancient Greece and Rome art, science, math, and philosophy were being mixed together, each one helping the other to flourish and grow.  In  ancient art we can see this in the use of perspective, scale, and humanism.  Then during the middle ages- for a thousand years it was lost.  During those dark days there was a mass regression.  It wasn’t until the Renaissance that we began to return to what had already been discovered,  and math, science & philosophy joined with art once again.

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Atmosphere of the setting sun on a cloudy night — it was really quite extraordinary.

Now, my thirst for learning has pulled me to this place where some of the greatest artists once worked.  Returning to structure and methods that have been proven over time. Step by step, those before us in the history of art have figured out how it can be done. Sometimes, as artists, our egos can stop us from pursuing the work of past masters, and in those moments we need to learn to step away from it.  A time comes when we need to surrender ourselves to the teachers from our pasts, in order to find our own way, just a bit easier. It is the circle of learning: structure, exploration, reflection.

What holds us back from learning, from pursuing what we love? I am here to tell you that there are steps you can take along a well traveled path to begin your explorations.  Will you take that path?

Will you expose yourself to something new?

Will you boldly go forth and make art?


Inside the Casa Berti Studio

I hope the answer is yes–if only to learn to see the world from a deeper more meaningful place.  I hope you will come along with me to learn just a bit more about the ways in which artists see the world. How beautiful the world can be when it is seen with profound and sometimes excruciating detail.

As always the best conversations happen on Facebook and Instagram. Have you been following this latest trip and if so what have you learned? Or what trips have you taken that helped to you to learn and grow? Trips where you physically left home or simply took a journey of the mind … I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Art Mimics Life



Can you tell I’m hiding out on the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan? Here is Clay Cliffs, a Leelanau Conservancy-protected land. 18 x 18 oil painting

The most fascinating thing about art history is the context.

Artists respond to current events. The Renaissance literally means “rebirth”; artists were responding to the Dark Ages, saying “no more” and looking towards enlightenment. And so it goes throughout the history of art: Impressionists were responding to years of constraint in art. The invention of tube paint and the camera gave a newfound freedom to get outside and paint plein air, leaving literal interpretation to the camera. With such freedom, they made bolder, freer art. The establishment hated it. The Post Impressionist took that even further.


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is another treasure of Michigan, and a favorite resting place. 18 x 18 oil painting

In America right now, current events are blowing up all over every day. Movements are forming and the “unprecedented” is happening everyday. So how are artists responding? I don’t know quite yet. I only know that they are, and they will.

I am wrestling with this issue almost daily in the studio. I don’t know how to respond with art. Almost a decade ago, I made a choice to keep art as my happy place, to make art that brings about a smile. To make art that celebrates the landscapes I love so deeply. And to save the issues that matter most to me for writing and personal exploration. I have long been an activist, a philanthropist, championing for children’s rights for a quality education in Ethiopia. Equality and justice matter deeply to me. Now this struggle is on my own front door … that is more complex to share than boarding a plane to Ethiopia. When it came to Ethiopia, I choose to celebrate the beauty and dignity of the culture in my art. That was what was truest to my heart. It remains truest to my heart to keep art a riotous, joyous celebration.


More Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park goodness. Here, the view overlooks the Glen Lakes. 18 x 18 oil painting

I’ve heard it said, “Leave it to the artist to explain the why.” I cannot explain to you the why, or tell you why life is simultaneously hard and unfair and beautiful and resilient. But I can share with you the struggle: You’re not alone, and neither am I. And I can tell you that this American struggle is deeply on my mind; as a private citizen, I am extremely active and engaged, and I think we are all called upon right now to be so. Even if it’s just putting more kindness into the world — do that!

As for my art, for now I rest, steady in the knowledge that the mere act of making art is enough. The celebration of art is a rebellion. And I promise you this, I will keep making and celebrating art at the top of my lungs, though the words of Nina Simone haunt me: “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”

What do you think? As always I love when you join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll see you there!


The skies over Lake Michigan are as glorious as the shore, and never overlooked by my artist’s eye. 14 x 14 oil painting