Wednesday, January 28, 2015

For Beginning Artists

Recently I was asked for a little post of advice on pursuing an art career. Let me first say that I consider myself an emerging artist. I have in no way crossed over to the promised land of living entirely off of art sales. With that said, my husband and I are making a living solely in the arts and I am lucky enough to know a lot of very successful artists who are making their way in some form or another. So I am privy to a certain amount of first and secondhand information that could potentially be of use to an individual who is just beginning their art career. Let me just start with five points today as I could bore the universe with a lengthy art post.

Let me give you a brief background on my education. I started out my college career on an art scholarship, but abandoned it for a history degree (long story). Later I went on to get a MA in art history. I have been working as an artist this entire time. My husband has pretty much an identical story. Currently he is working as an artist and museum director/curator. I am an artist and I teach art history for two colleges, online. I also teach art and art history in a variety of other formats. So now that you know a bit about me, let me share a few things that I know about being an artist, so far.

1) Know your style.
I think this is probably the most difficult advice to give/ receive. How does one know their own style? I think that for most people it comes from the place where you go when you are just creating, not when you are trying to do something. Perhaps you will be surprised by your style. I was, when I finally accepted what I do and how I do my thang (yep, thang). Identify the medium(s) that you work in, though don't be limited by that, because we are artists yo. Then start trying to get comfortable being the artist that you are, unlike any other artist. This is also an important sub-point---don't try to emulate other artists. You can certainly borrow/trade/be informed by other artists, but always do what you do best. If you try to be like someone else you will fail because a) they will do it better b) they are already filling that hole. So don't waste your time trying to be anything you aren't, embrace the weird and uncomfortable nature of your own style---it is already there waiting for you.

M Copeland Opening
2) Get to know other artists and people in the art world.
While you shouldn't try to copy another artist's style it is so very important to get to know other creatives in your community---even if your community is small or extended or even online. Just get to know others, see what they are doing, where they are doing it, why they do what they do. You'll learn stuff. You will make connections. You will be plugged into the art scene in your community and as those people get to know you and your work they may be willing to help you or at least share would be wise to do the same. I know the art world can be competitive, but I work diligently to ignore that side of things and it has served me well. I find that when I work to help artists instead of compete with them that we all win. I truly believe that there is room for all artists.

There are also many people to know in the art world who are not artists themselves. There are the art historians, art critics, collectors, art appreciators, gallery owners, museum professionals, educators. All of these people can teach you something about your field. 

3) Educate yourself constantly.
Read about the arts. Subscribe to magazines and journals. Visit museums and galleries and studios. Learn about what is going on in your state, community, country, the world, outer space, alternate realities, etc. Read about art history so you don't sound like a dumb-dumb who thinks they invented the wheel. You can never learn enough.

Kingdom Show 2014
4) Be involved.
Be involved in your community. This is something that came to Eric and I after a visit to Missoula many years back. We were so sad to be leaving Missoula after a really happy visit and returning to our Wyoming town, because we didn't know anybody in Wyoming and we didn't have an art community. While we drove back we realized that we were in our town for an extended period of time, no plans to leave, so we should start searching for the community we wanted within our Wyoming town. Wouldn't you know it, there was already a group of people dedicated to the arts. We were able to insert ourselves into this community and add to growth as we see that we are willing and able.

When we decided to dedicate ourselves to our community we made some amazing friendships, we found patrons, we found opportunity, we found support, we found purpose. I am constantly in awe of my community and endlessly thankful for the support and acceptance that they have given to my family.

5) Create your own opportunities.
I think so many artists sit around waiting to be discovered, but that does not happen.The sooner you realize that the more successful you will be as an artist. When Eric and I were living in Denver we were unhappy with the disconnected art scene there and we wanted to have a more personal experience. So we had a salon style show at an historic home in downtown Denver. Our friend lived in one apartment in this home and she got the other residents to clear out their spaces in order to accommodate a flash gallery. It was a great success and such fun to have a more personal experience.

Since moving to Wyoming we have found so many ways to create opportunities for ourselves. Of course we pursue shows, that is the obvious, but we find other ways as well. For instance, did you know that Eric just released a couple of skate board designs? Check them out here, they are for sale and make great wall art even if you don't skate. I teach tons of classes for extra income, but more than that to build community and get to know more creatives in my area. I am able to teach these classes because I have worked hard to become involved with my art community and now when I have an idea I can propose it or people will approach me to help with their ideas.

Ultimately becoming an artist has been about working all day every day. This isn't really a career, if you are an artist you already know that, I am guessing. You don't retire from being an artist, you just eventually die. Like any passion it needs to be cultivated; contrary to popular belief passion is not something inherent to an individual, but something pursued. Also, I doubt that there is really any way to claim success as an artist as there is always a new dream on the horizon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Break From Winter

Looks like we are enjoying a little break from winter, sorry East Coasters. The weather has been warm and pleasant. The snowy ruts in our road are nearly completely melted away. Yesterday afternoon I took the girls outside to play in the yard and it was magical. I cleaned up and did a little yard work while they stomped around in the snow and mud.




At one point the girls were beating the remaining snow drifts with sticks, almost as though they were beating winter away.


The dogs lounged in the  areas of the yard that weren't completely saturated by the snow melt.


It is that time of year where we have false starts to spring. Spring won't really arrive for some time yet, but I am itching to get back into the garden and enjoy meals on the back porch. For now I am content enough to just enjoy the gift of a random warm afternoon.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Elise's Gym Jam

Elise had her first dance class for the two year old kids, called Gym Jam. There was a sub for the first day so we don't really know what class will be like, but this week they focused on tumbling.

Elise dance class
Here is that sweet photo again as promised.

Elise was a little shy at first, but soon warmed up and was really excited to get out there and go for it, she is a brave girl.

Elise dance class

All of the mothers stayed with their children to help them keep their focus. There were about 6 kids with varying degrees of development.

Elise dance class

Elise dance class

Elise watched carefully as the teacher and any children before her tried a task and she was quick to pick things up. By the end of class she was somersaulting forwards and backwards, hopping, doing assisted head stands, walking the balance beam, and running an obstacle course. I felt a bit like a dog trainer, telling her to jump through the hoops and stuff, but she really had a blast.

Elise dance class

When Eric and Cordelia arrived near the end of class Elise really opened up, proud to show off for them. Her favorite part of the class was most definitely the balance beam. She really had remarkable balance (not from my genes) and kind of flew past the other kids who were really struggling. It was an absolutely sweet experience and I look forward to our next Thursday class.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Quote: An Art


To make living itself an art, that is the goal.
~Henry Miller

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Glory of the West

We just took a short trip to the motherland, Montana! Eric had work in Billings and we decided to make it a family affair. We took the short drive to Billings  after Elise's dance class on Thursday.

While the roads were all perfectly clear there is still plenty of snow. Our hotel room had a view of the pool, inviting.

We checked in and freshened up a bit, meaning we shook the crumbs out of the girls' coats and I put on some lipstick. Then we headed over to the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) for the art event that Eric had juried several months back. We knew several of the artists featured (not the ones he had chosen/juried) and it was great fun to be a bit anonymous in a museum. With Eric's high profile job he is fairly in demand at local events. 

The next morning we grabbed some breakfast and stopped by the mall, with the indoor play area.

Then we headed to my childhood hometown in Harlowton. A small town of about a thousand it has changed very little since we left. We visited a few of my old friends and met a special little baby, daughter of my friend Robin.

Our visit was short and sweet. A few quick visits and we headed back to Billings.

We ate dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant. Then it was back to the hotel and bed for the girls. Both girls have been fantastic travelers, but they were pretty tuckered out by bedtime.

Now we are up and running, headed back to Wyoming! Don't worry, we will travel safe and sanitary.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Phone Photo Friday: 1.23.15

Well hello there! How are you doing? Have you had a nice week? Ours has been jam packed! Let's review the highlights as recorded by my trusty sidekick, my phone.

Elise and Cordelia  like to play dress up by wearing raincoat and too big rain boots. They clomp around the house looking for places to take cover from imaginary downpours.

I taught a class on painting with acrylic ink last Saturday. 

No idea what is happening, but it sure is cute.



Cordelia, prepping for her first ballet class.

Look at that ballet grace.

Sunset, with no filter or color correcting. 

Elise working on some vegan jello.

Almost snuggling old and young cat.

Wednesday morning.

Cordelia's preschool took a trip to the Trail's Center. Elise was allowed to tag along and was mostly treated like a star by the other kids. She was left out of this wagon train ride and has mentioned it several times since. We may need to go back for a ride.

Cordelia was a proud sister! Yesterday she was telling Eric about how her good friend had been playing a lot with a boy and how she was a bit sad. Eric gave her some good fatherly advice about how it is good to have lots of friends. She replied,"Well at least I will always have one friend, Elise."

The staff at the Trail's Centet dressed Elise like a tiny pioneer. She was proud.

Just a random photo of our kitchen.

Elise had her first dance class yesterday, full report on Monday and you will see this photo again because it is the sweetest!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sharing Weakness

Last night I was writing back and forth with a friend about the subject of being vulnerable. I will spare you the details of our private conversation, but it left me thinking about the importance of sharing weakness.


We live in a strange society where we all try to do and be the best, to admit otherwise is almost like admitting failure. This is something I have long struggled with. Perhaps it stems from being a first born or maybe it is just my personality, but I have always had trouble letting myself begin. What I mean when I say that is that I never let myself be a beginner. I am getting better about this as I age, but it is still a challenge to just let myself be weak or terrible at something. Which is strange because if anything comes easily I pretty much abandon it as sort of, "Well, that's easy....moving on."


I see this in my daughters and I know that it is my job to show them that it is OK to be a beginner and not a master. There are so many missed opportunities when you won't let yourself be weak. When you see someone who is really good at something that is a great opportunity to learn, not an excuse to feel like a failure. I am constantly reminding myself of this fact and I am trying to turn my weaknesses into opportunity for growth.


Lately I have found myself in a position for sharing weakness and embracing opportunities to grow. I have been taking the advice, given to all artists, to "Say yes and then figure it out later." So I have been given a lot of crazy opportunities this year---interior design, logo design, event planning, etc. I have said yes to all of them and then I have been working it out on my own, but I would like to move beyond that on my own part and start looking to others.

Recently Eric had a meeting with an extremely talented and successful artist who gave him,and I by extension, some excellent career advice. We may never have learned this if Eric hadn't been willing to admit that he wanted to learn more.

So now I am ready, perhaps this is a delayed New Year's Resolution, and I want to share my weakness so that I may become stronger.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Vegan Recipe:Tagine

I was given a tagine by my brother and sister-in-law. While it was gorgeous I had never used one before. So I did a little research. Generally we think of a tagine as a Moroccan meal, but it is also the terracotta dish with the shallow base and the conical lid (don't worry you can make a tagine without the dish, stay with me people).  I assume most of you don't have a tagine so I have created recipe that allows you to enjoy the meal without the dish. Don't forget to serve with couscous!

vegan tagine

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c vegan chicken cut into bite sized pieces, seitan, or just add more veggies.
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
1 T cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp fine grind sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T vegan margarine
1/2 c dried apricots, quartered
1/4 c raisins
1  can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
*Optional 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1.Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the onion and cook for just a few minutes. Add the pepper, carrots, vegan chicken (or whatever you choose).
2. In a separate dish combine the broth, cornstarch, vingear, paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon and salt (Optional red pepper flakes if you like heat). Whisk briefly and then pour into the skillet.
3. Add the margarine, raisins and chickpeas.
4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the carrot is cooked through, about 20 minutes,
Serves 4

vegan tagine 
~Maria Rose

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Last night was fiiiiinally the first night of ballet for Cordelia. She received ballet lessons and clothes (including vegan ballet slippers) from my parents for Christmas. Since then she has requested a daily countdown and today was the big day. Of course the lessons were at the end of the day, so there was a lot of built up energy by the time we were ready to go. She put on her clothes, twirling them and practicing the ballet moves she has learned from friends. She asked, "Does this mean I am a real ballerina now?" 

On the drive over she was quiet, thinking. Elise tried to talk and play, but Cordelia was laser focused.

When we arrived she bravely walked in and began introducing herself to the other ballerinas. Like me she is extremely outgoing, Eric was uncomfortable just watching the socialization. Oh, and I should mention that the whole family came along as we all wanted to watch this first lesson. 

Class was called into session and they all started off in a circle before stretching, doing some barre work, then practicing their toe-heel walk.

Cordelia ballet

It was about this time that I started looking around at the other parents. We unexpectedly ran into a friend there, a nice surprise. There was a mix of people, but one family stood out. There was a burly man, covered in oil or grease. His son, maybe ten was also pretty grubby. I could easily spot his daughter who had a big smear of grease on her ballet tights and generally looked like she had been playing in a shop before she came. 

I loved that her father had clearly gone straight from work with the kids to make sure his girl got to ballet. I also noticed that his daughter stood a bit off from the other girls.

So I couldn't have been more proud when Cordelia held hands with her and tip toed along with the others. It isn't that she noticed the girl was a bit different, but rather that she didn't notice or didn't care. I love that about her, she looks right past the nonsense and sees the person for who they are.

Cordelia ballet

When her new friend fell behind because her too big ballet slippers were falling off, Cordelia stopped and waited so her friend wouldn't finish alone.

This girl is something else I tell you.

She had a great time and we spent the rest of the night talking about the experience, her teacher, what her teacher wore, etc.

Thursday is Elise's class, so prep for some more adorable photos.

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