The Portrait Project - Baby Girl


I know I've said it a million times on this blog and social media, but I am so grateful for the amazing submissions that have been submitted to The Portrait Project! Seriously, the best! Although I'm still less than ten paintings into this project (50 is my goal with no due date!), I am just beyond thrilled with how it is coming together. I feel like I get to know each beautiful soul that I am painting, and that's a remarkable thing. 

Sometimes I am able to finish one of these paintings in a span over a couple of days with long hours,  while others take rent on my easel for the entire week it seems! This beautiful baby girl was one of those week-long residence! And I have been pretty happy about it! Noooo complaining here. I planned to have her up on my blog over the weekend, but we seemed to need a bit more time together. I don't know her personally, but I just know she's an amazing little person because she has been a blast to paint! I think there are a few things I still want to change, but I just wanted to share first. 

Below are photos I took during my process, hopefully in the future I can take more and share.  

I will be taking submissions for The Portrait Project until #50! If you haven't already read the guide to submitting or don't know how to submit, click here

- See more detail shots in extended post -

Inspiration Gatherings No. 1


The truth is that ideas for projects aren't pulled out of thin air. For me, inspiration comes from the normal day to day of course, but I have to do a bit of inspiration gathering, too. Here I will share some things I have gathered lately. These seem to be heavily art influenced, but that isn't always the case when I go "gathering." Sometimes it's a leaf I find on my front porch in the dead of winter (true story,) or another completely obscure scenario.  I hope to post more of my gatherings in future posts and let you get a sense for what inspires me, so keep an eye out. I'd love to hear what you're gathering, too, feel free to share in comments or use #InspirationGatherings on social media. For now, read on and enjoy!

- Mary Cassatt -

In addition to making art, I've always loved simply looking at art. When I'm feeling uninspired to paint I look at good art until the spark comes back to me.  This painting by the beautiful Mary Cassatt was one of those "sparklers." The real goodness of this painting is seen when you can see it close up. Click the image to see it larger, and watch her brushwork come to life! An additional viewing pleasure is to look through this online collection of Mary's work. I think some of her lesser-known works are some of her best!

- The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp -

I love to read. I'll dive into a good book just to let my imagination run somewhere fabulous. It's not always a book with a thick storyline that I love to read though, sometimes even a great blog post will spark something in me. Since graduating college I've been intrigued about the topic of . . . "advice"? Maybe it's that I'm no longer in the presence of many other wonderful artists who were giving out good advice like candy on Halloween, but I read this book just before graduation and the thoughts have really stuck with me still. It's a great read for any creative. Also, this post from Muddy Colors is also one I've been thinking over a lot. I'm not quite ready to elaborate though. What do you think?

-Breanna Rose Wallpaper and My Custom Folder Icons -

If I were to give out medals to the places I spend most of my working hours, my easel would come in first, and my laptop second. Aside from the normal business upkeep like emails, invoices, etc. I spend a lot of time sorting through photos to paint and planning out compositions in photoshop. I'm also blogging (yay!) and doing some other freelance design workIt can be a lot of time staring at a screen, so I like to make it clean, organized, and beautiful. I think when your workspace is clean, inspiration can more easily walk through the front door. (Continue reading below image.)

Currently, I have this wallpaper from Breanna Rose! Don't you just love that?! "Make It Happen!" I only discovered this girl after finding the wallpaper, and I'm already pouring over her blog and work. Go browse around her blog--you'll definitely be inspired! She has lots of other desktop wallpaper that she posts occasionally, along with many other things, and it's all wonderful! 

In addition to Breanna Rose's incredible desktop wallpaper, I customized my folders! Inspired by Kate Spade of course, because who isn't inspired by her, too? ;) It's fairly simple, to change your folder icons on a Mac, read this article. You can create your own .png images on Photoshop and convert them to the correct file type using this website, or download my gold stripe/ Kate Spade inspired folders here. 

The Portrait Project: Morgan


Alright, friends! This portrait is about 98% done, but as we all know, the last 2% is always the hardest. So, in the meantime, while I spend the last few grueling hours with that last 2%, I wanted to share this portrait. I really shouldn't be sharing it yet, and it's been cloudy here in Chicago today so I haven't even been able to capture the portrait in great, sparkly lighting. It needs that touch of sun sparkle. Alas, I am sharing because I just think this girl is the neatest! We're kindred spirits. I know it. She's a beautiful artist, too. Check out her Facebook page by clicking here. (But really, check back in a few days if you want to see the finish and a better shot of it.)

Morgan and I met because of her great networking skills on Instagram--aka she reached out to me and was wonderful, delightful, and everything nice. After a few months (or more than a few!) of being cyber friends, she SHOWED UP AT MY ART SHOW! I was stoked to meet her. She was just as sweet and fun as I imagined. Then I moved. :( But,we keep in touch, and despite me being halfway across the country, I just know our friendship is going to be a good one for years. P.s. She has the cutest cat. So that is the cherry on top.

--If you would like to see all the posts from The Portrait Project click here!
--To submit your portrait read this, there's still plenty of time!
--In other unrelated news, here are gift guides for the beginning artist. Give the gift of being an artist!

The Portrait Project: Ames - Baby Boy


You guys... This baby!!! Is he to die for or what?! He has been so fun to paint. Babies are so delicate! This little baby boy was especially wonderful to paint. When the submission came to my inbox and I first saw it, it was just one of those simple moments where I knew it would be a great painting and that he needed to be painted. Candy for the artist's eyes! I sent the confirmation email off to his mom one night to let her know I would be starting on it, but after hitting send, I was too excited to wait until the next day to start--so I pulled out the paint just then and got to work. I woke up early the next morning, a gorgeous sun-drenched morning, and painted late into the afternoon to finish him. It was just a great painting session all around. My kind of energizer. ;)

I have some amazing submissions from The Portrait Project! Thank you!!!! Thank you for submitting!!! Keep them coming! I will be taking submissions until December 2nd! If you haven't already read the guide to submitting or don't know how to submit, click here

My Favorite Quotes About Creativity and Motivation


Last night I was thinking about this upcoming Thanksgiving. Alex and I are going to be in California with my family which is always wonderful. I have at least a hundred old, old paintings of mine down in my studio there at my parent's house, and I was in particular thinking about those painting last night. I'm excited to see them all again. They're just full of nostalgia and sentiment, and I'm just that kind of person that enjoys that sort of thing.

I started to laugh at the memory of some of those old paintings though. For example, "Cake Face" is a portrait I worked on for days, and as the name suggests, after so many layers of paint, poor technique (I was 12 years old) and a severely neglected photo reference, the portrait began to look more like a frosted cake than a portrait. Actually it's kind of terrifying.

Another painting there is a rooster in a loft part of a barn. Let's call it "Fan of Feathers." I had some photo reference, but I got very carried away with the roosters tail feathers that after a few days of work and one night painting very early into the morning the rooster's tail feathers made him look more like a white, majestic peacock sitting on a throne of golden strings than a rooster sitting on hay. Those tail feathers are full of pastel colors! And I'm pretty sure they take up more than 3/4 of the canvas. YIKES. 

The real juice of this story is that as I was thinking about those old paintings I felt really grateful for every painting I've had the blessing of painting. And I really do consider each one a blessing. Of course, I've had my number of successful and unsuccessful, but I know that without having painted those crazy cake face portraits (because you know it's not just the one I mentioned earlier) and without the paintings that ended up in the trash that I'll never see again (including one from last month,) I wouldn't be able to pick up the brush again today and be confident in decisions I make while painting and I wouldn't be on the road to becoming the artist that I want to be.  

I feel grateful that I haven't looked at all the unsuccessful paintings I've done and taken to heart that, "wow, I really cannot paint!" because I have said that at times--but I just haven't taken it to heart. I just keep trying. And maybe that makes me crazy, but Van Gogh was pretty crazy too ;) and he said, "If you hear a voice inside you that says 'you cannot paint' then by all means paint!" 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk Happiness, Your Heritage brought me to tears the first time I heard it. I was thinking about this last night too. Those first words, if I watch the Mormon Message adapted from his talk, still give me chills regardless of having watched it at least a dozen times: "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul... Everyone can create." But I especially love the part where he says "remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. . . your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination." To me I read this as a sure knowledge that Heavenly Father is on our side!! He's made us. We are meant to create! And no matter what it is you create (for me it's my paintings, but maybe for you it's as simple as creating a smile on another face by cheering them up) we are fully capable.

My last thought on this: I had a quote on my studio wall for years. It was transferred on a piece of wood in black and white with an image of brushes in the background. It read, "the art is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work." How true is that? We all are given gifts and talents in some way or another (refer to Elder Uchtdorf's talk,) but those gifts are nothing unless we put the work into them to develop them and use them. I think this is another reason that I feel so grateful for every painting I've been blessed to paint; it's because in that collection of both successes and failures lay a ledger of work and effort that I can look back on and be motivated by. And isn't the simplest form of motivation a blessing in itself, too? 

Thanks for reading my thoughts, as scattered as they may be. I would love to hear your thoughts on these quotes. What do they mean to you? Feel free to comment below.

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