Wednesday, December 26, 2018

My Hand Paints

The first stop on my Grand Marais book tour! MY HAND PAINTS: Reading and book signing Tuesday, January 15, 2019... 7 pm at Wunderbar!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Do it

My definition of creativity is doing things in a new or unexpected way, to achieve the result you wanted. This could end up in a cure for HIV or cancer, to address an affordable housing crisis, or to tell your story through the written word or a visual medium.

We are all creative, whether we realize it or not. Every life is unique, so navigating that life takes some ingenuity, or creativity. Within this sea of creative beings, some consciously practice, or work at novelty with a purpose.

That purpose can be telling their story through art.

When I was young, I enjoyed drawing. It was one of the very few things I was told I was good at. Back then, I never could have imagined where my creative impulses would take me. Even when I was in my 20’s in art school, I hadn’t found my artistic voice. I had no confidence in myself. I was bogged down with expectation. There was no freedom to my expression. I lived in fear of doing it wrong. And so it was all wrong.

As far as my ambition, I suppose you could say that what I’m doing now is what I wished for in terms of expression back then.

I couldn’t know the specifics beforehand. That’s what I was developing.

There is an element of preplanning that goes into a work of art. You have to have something to say. You have to select your medium and tools. But art, like life, is improv.

It’s the inspiration that allows my brain and hand to transform the colors on the shelf into the finished canvas.

The paint holds surprises.

I’ve never worried about conforming to mainstream society. That might be a nice excursion for me. But I don’t see it happening. What is mainstream society? If I tried that, I would do it as a joke. I think that’s a good enough reason to try it.

I want to communicate through my visual art. And I want to inspire others to communicate their stories, as well.

If you have an urge to create something, my advice is to do it!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


For the past 26 years, I have been a mentor to high school students. Some of these relationships came about through established organizations such as the Grand Marais Art Colony and Kinship Mentor North. Parents who homeschool their kids have also asked me to provide art education that they did not feel confident teaching.

I’ve mentored young musicians, artists and photographers... international students, kids in foster care... kids from all different backgrounds.

It is a wonderful feeling when I see these kids go on to pursue art degrees, or success in music careers.

They say I inspired them to become artists. Little did they know that I was inspired by them the whole time.

You do not need to go to art school to be an inspiration. Just tell your story however you choose to tell it. Your passion will make you stand out. Once you achieve a level of confidence, you will be a leader. You will not need validation from others, because you will only need approval from one person. Yourself.

I think the majority of people lack confidence. Not in their skill, but in themselves. Your confidence will draw others to you. They will want what you have, or want to spend time with you.

When I was in my 20’s, I wanted to paint dark, disturbing images. They were usually self portraits in black and white, often with blood red dripping from them. I thought I was being deep. They carried titles of resentment like Umbrage and Imbroglio. Those morphed into oil pastels like Screaming In Your Sky and The Great Train Robbery Of My Soul when I was in my early 30’s.

When I was 36, my daughter was born. When I picked up the paintbrush again, the paintings came out in bright colors.

That is when I began to have success as an artist. When I say success, I mean personal satisfaction and sales.

Not all of my paintings are happy or colorful, but they are about more than just scaring my mother.

My paintings are moments. They’re like visual journal entries that tell my reality. My intention is twofold. I want to tell my story, and I want to do it in a way that is compelling enough to make others want to tell their story, too.

As I have said, my daughter’s birth marked a significant change in my art. But the simplest life events find their way onto my canvas. When my hat fell off into the river, and I went under the overpass to retrieve it. Driving along highway 61 at dusk.

Whatever my brain is processing, will eventually come out one way or another.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

No One But You

I think creativity is a response. Whether I am hurt, inspired, afraid or hopeful, I respond by acknowledging these feelings through images or the written word.

I don’t always see the finished product in my head before I start it. It is a process. Creativity is the way I sort through the feelings.

When I find a jumble of knotted cords in a drawer or closet, I don’t see the solution. I just find an end and start unraveling them. Before long, I have separate extension cords or useable headphones.

My brain feels like a jumble of tangled strings. My emotions feel overwhelming until I start to slowly untie them. I begin to see how they are connected.

When I paint, I just start somewhere and keep going until I’ve organized the paint in a way that makes sense to me.

Honestly, the thing I do to get into a creative mindset is to pick up a paintbrush, and dip it into a color.

The message I try to put into every painting is that this is my story. You can tell your story any way you want to. Just as your story is different from mine, your method of telling it will be different, too.

You can trust yourself, because you are the expert on being you.

No one else can express your thoughts and feelings. No one but you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


I believe I am a creative person because I create images and stories. I take my imagined scenarios and interpret them through paint or the written word. With the stroke of a paintbrush or tapping on a keyboard, I can make those invisible thoughts visible. As much as I would like to say that I’m not influenced by the views of other people, this is not really true. I know that I am creating for the public, so I want to inspire and entertain. Do I need everything to be perfect? No. Do I need everything to be beautiful? No.

The particular culture of the small town I live in is supportive. It seems to understand the role of artists here. Some of us are lucky enough to live here. Others flock to the area for festivals, and classes.

People don’t always understand my creative endeavors, but on some level, they understand me. I think they are sometimes surprised when I talk about my work, and that dialogue can make a lot of difference.

There is no one right answer to the meaning. I share my thoughts and my motivation, but I love it when someone sees something in my work that I was not aware of.

When viewing art or listening to music, we bring our whole life along with us. We see and hear everything through the filter of our accumulated experience. Original intent is what the artist did, but that is not the whole story. Not even close. Multiply that original viewpoint by the number of viewers who see it.

The ripples go out.

Maybe I am inspired by the work of another artist. I paint my impression of something about their work. Someone else may get an idea from what I’ve done, and so on. Our influence travels out from us, in ways we will never know. It laps against the shore far away, and may bring up treasures we never dreamed of.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Heart and Soul

My heart and soul are the software that runs my body. They animate my brain and my hands, which are just tools that my soul uses to leave a visible record that I was here. I’m often surprised by what comes out. By the color my eyes see, the heaviness or lightness of the paint stroke, the effect of many brush strokes in a composition.

My hand holds the brush only because the soul uses the brain to tell it to.

I’m not sure I could be completely random at all, unless I were to paint in complete darkness without seeing the paint I use or the canvas upon which I am painting.

All of a sudden I want to try this!