Partnering with People

Traditionally the role of artist has been a solo endeavor, and a lot of people probably imagine the artist stowed away in a room all by him or herself creating his or her art. But my experience as an artist is not and has never been that way. I began learning art in my father's studio which was always buzzing with activity of different people coming and going. Multiple artists worked in the same building, and I learned to associate that companionship with creating my art.

As a result, I am not a solitary artist. I work in tandem with my client's vision and the feedback I receive from them. We get to know each other in a way that gives each portrait I create an individuality that is as unique as the irises of my subjects'. No two are exactly alike.

While I handle the particulars of the lips, noses, and poses of my clients, I rely on a combination of partners who enable me to accomplish the goals I've chosen to undertake. Portraits, the portrait company that handles all of my contracts. Their collection of associates do the work of connecting me to clients, and orchestrate my contact with the darling individuals I eventually get to capture on my canvas. Their commitment to excellence and their consistent quality of service is why I've chosen to work with them exclusively.

With the network of women whose efforts keep me in the studio, I have enlisted the help of a small army of women at home who enable me to meet the needs of my family as well. Being a mother is full-time work, but I have found ways to make myself more available to my children that don't demand I give up my work at the easel. These women are like extra limbs that reach the places in my little world that I don't have to touch directly. They give me freedom to be responsible for what is essentially mine and cannot be outsourced.

At the end of the day, I go to sleep knowing that I have a lot to do, but I also have a lot of support. My goal is connection. Everyone I work with aids me along my way by bridging the gap between what I can and cannot do and be alone. And I am grateful.

Wedding Day

Anyone who has helped plan a wedding knows all too well the tremendous amount of time, money, and attention that can be spent creating the perfect moment surrounding the union of two people in love. But, in that moment, all of the hubbub fades to the background, and the happy couple simply stands in front of their friends and family to pronounce their commitment to one another. They call attention to the best and beautiful in the other, and everyone present, whether one friend or a thousand, witness a miracle.

My wedding was a small, intimate affair including only my closest friends and family. In the photo above you can see the entirety of everyone in attendance. I wanted this photo to capture the feeling of that special day for Tyler and I, and that is what I hope to capture in every live painting I create. Whether it's the mood of the music and dancing during the reception, or awe and essence of the ceremony.

In addition to me capturing the movement of the event, my presence and action in doing so has the bonus benefit of heightening the spirit of celebration. It's not me, personally; I just happen to be the one there. Nevertheless, a live painting presents something personal and completely unique for the wedding party and guests. At this once-in-a-lifetime event, a piece of artwork is created for the onlookers that will be forever a reminder of the wedding day, and the beginning of two individual's new life together.

I travel all around the country to paint weddings, and starting this year I am interested in working with local florists and wedding vendors to help make that special day more doable. Bud Floral, on Signal Mountain, is the floral provider I will be coordinating with in Chattanooga. Working with both of us provides a discount when you book us both for an event. I love working with florists, whose creations are so prominent in my paintings. Contact me at I look forward to the events I will capture with oils in 2017 and beyond.

Pretty in Pink!

A friend of mine was recently and suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. That news is never something you are prepared to hear. Cancer is just a vague, impersonal sickness - until it touches someone familiar to you. Then it becomes real. A real threat to health, hope, and happiness. Yet it is also a call to celebrate the life of those fighting cancer and fight alongside them in whatever ways we can.

As a portrait artist, I aim to use my talent and skill to add to the lives of those around me. One of my favorite places to share my work is painting at charity events and donating those paintings to be auctioned off for their cause. I want to honor the events that I attend by capturing the spirit in which they are organized. I love watching the movement and energy in the room and transforming a blank canvas through that lens with my oils. The finished work then brings to mind the memories we made during those moments together.

The next event I will be live painting is the 7th Annual Pink! Event to be held on January 28th, which benefits the MaryEllen Locher Breast Cancer Center at Memorial Hospital, here in my hometown of Chattanooga. I'm proud to attend, support, and contribute to this foundation. Last year's live painting was a wonderful success, and I'm excited to break out my many shades of pink paint for a second time!  I encourage you to attend this marvelous event with me and support this important work being done for women fighting breast cancer.

Letting Go of the New Year

If 2016 were a square knot, then 2017 is a slip knot. Last year I had a goal of letting go of stuff. The stuff that filled the space around me. The stuff that might have some use in the future. The stuff that was semi sentimental or had the potential to be. But I couldn't let go of a thing. Instead of releasing the stuff, I held it and it piled uselessly around me.

Then something strange happened over the end of 2016 and the advent of the new year. Suddenly, the things, the stuff I was holding onto has begun to loosen its grip. I feel an ease in allowing it all to flow through my grasp and permit it to exit my life. Upon reflection of this realization, I've concluded that it has something to do with no longer feeling as afraid of the future or the past. I'm not trying to hold the control of what may happen or what has happened, and am now accepting what will be, will be.

I'm greeting this year with the lightness of anticipation. I'm feeling the space opening up as the stuff leaves my life. I'm experiencing liberation from needing to hold onto things that unnecessarily anchor me in the past. The wise ancient saying, that there is a season for everything, feels particularly true in 2017. For me, letting go of things has seemed to be more a matter of time, than a matter of will.

Time and things are linked, and perhaps that's why we often hold onto things - as if things are the same as time. I hope as you begin this new year, you too can let go of the things that have piled around you, patiently wait until you can let them go, or ask someone you trust to help you say goodbye to the things that hold you in some place other than this new year.

Part 2: Outer Space, Inner Space

Life is full. Too full for writing sometimes, but knowing there are certain times for certain things is what give us space to live.

This week in my little world, my eldest daughter had an "Outer Space" themed birthday party. She was so excited to paint all the planets on paper lanterns and tell me about their order as we hung them from our ceiling. How can one miniature person know so much about something so vast and seemingly out of reach? I feel small every time I think about outer space, but those thoughts help ground me to my tiny universe.

In our surrounding expansive and intimate universes, you can find me doodling in the margins. I've always doodled in the margins. Throughout my whole school career I used the space around my worksheets. It gave me room to play creativity. I still daily practice using the area around my work to be my creative outlet, and permit my intuition to be my guide.

My natural tendency is to fill the margins of my life with flurries of activity at all times. Over the past few years, I have learned to value allowing the margins to be left empty, giving me moments to breathe and dream. I've learned to wander, letting my attention  pass from my plants - both inside and out - to my children, to the new location for an old piece of art, to my future and who I want to become. When I give myself those bits of time that are free from an agenda, I am more myself.

When it comes to creating portraits, my clients take center stage. They are the stars that fill the galaxy in my universe. I have the opportunity to bring each one of their glorious faces into focus on my canvas and present my perspective to their dear ones. All the while I leave an aperture around my composition for my clients to fill with their own creative vision.

Large world, little world, moving back and forth between the two - the acknowledgment of both (and the spaces in between) allow me to have the experiences I want in life.

part 1: Making Space

In art our focus is nearly always on the subject of the piece. The whole point is that we are looking at the important part of the work. By contrast the space around it serves only to emphasize the creative expression. As a self-employed portrait artist, my job and my life come into close contact on a daily basis. Sometimes it is a trick to decide what is the important part. In my work I focus on my clients and their portraits. In my life I prioritize my family and friends, as well as activities that nourish my soul. Striking a balance between these equally demanding aspects of my life is a constant process. Making space for my people and my portrats sounds simpler than it is in practice, but when I do, I definitely reap the benefits.

In this process “rest” is the key concept. To me “rest” isn’t just lying idly in bed, escaping responsibility and ignoring the claims placed on me by my roles in life. Instead, rest is making space to just be. That means not stuffing my schedule to overflowing. It means leaving time in my week to play with my kids, go on a date with my husband, or visit with friends. It means planning when I will be at my easel or on a trip, and balancing that with time spent at home. All the while my focus is not on the space that is left around the structure, but without it, I would not be able to focus on all the different faces that are mine to care for.