My easel broke.

Yes, my easel is broken. I guess it makes sense. It is the end of 2019 and exactly ten years ago I had written across the top of it in Sharpie this very year- 2019. You may remember that I wrote in a blog about how these numbers on my easel have acted as my talisman. Written in 2009 after going to the Portrait Society of America convention that year. I thought by writing that year down on my easel that it would give me 10 years to accomplish a bunch of my artistic goals. Many did not happen by this year, but I am ok to forgive myself. A lot has happened to me and much of it not planned. Life can get ya off track.

I am very aware this year of many of my friends are dealing with not what to wrap and decorate, but how to deal with loss and grief. Of how parents can be so very hurt by children that can’t be bothered to spend time with them and yet spend hours clicking that perfect selfie or play hours on a game and then turn around and demand this or that. Of how so many people are alone. This “most wonderful time of the year’ can be very painful even in the most tiny of ways. I know it.

My daughter showed me a story of an ad that was placed in Texas of a “grandma looking for a family.” She said she was alone and wanted to cook and bake with a family so she was willing to be a grandma to anyone. It broke my heart. I was then incredulous to see that most of the responses to her story were negative. That people were warning that she was looking to take advantage of a family. Wow. The writer that wrote the story found the woman and then realized that because of all of the negative feedback to her simple plea to not be alone that she is now hiding from the press and public and wants to be left alone.


As I write this I am busily working toward finishing a large commission for a local restaurant. It is pretty cool that a new place wants original art on the walls and I am grateful for this new challenge in oils. Once the place opens I will be free to post the paintings and what I have been up to for the last month, but until then I have to stay quiet about them. I can that say I am working on a very new surface with oils and that I have been enjoying it. I have found a way to combine my favorite things from my three favorite mediums. Transparent washes like in watercolor, broad strokes like in pastel, and lush, dense, layered passages in oil. Luckily I have a large drafting table to work on since I can’t use my easel. And as I work on it I have been alone for many hours. We artists are like that right? I have never met an artist that says that they create their best work in a workshop or amongst other people. We tend to be solitary creatures when it comes to our work. But when I surface for air I have company. Kids and family and friends and artists and cats and students and mentorees and neighbors and teachers… and so I am truly lucky. For being alone is great but it can also kill. It can kill our sense of worth and our dreams. It can create doubt and leave us pleading with the world for a family and a sense of place.

So here his my last bit of artistic advice for this year… When you do anything, Be deliberate. And then share it. Put down that mark with love and passion. Plan that new work. And then reach out to others about their new ideas.

I plan on living the next year with no regrets and sharing my work, my expertise and my love of art with others. I want to throw myself off a cliff artistically and know I will be ok no matter how I land because those around me will cushion the fall. I have set up another ten artists this year for the Pittsburgh Artist Guild that are willing to share their stories and their struggles with you. This group is a goal I set independently of those numbers on my easel and without even knowing I needed it in my life so I hope you can join us and know that you may be alone when you work, but are not alone in your quests.

I want to thank all of you for your support from this past year. It has been a new and exciting time in my life and my plate is full and I am well. As I look back on this year I can see I didn’t paint very much, but when I did, those pieces were full of intention and had more thought stewed into them than I have ever contemplated before. Creating wasn’t easy at times and I still feel like I am floundering after all these years, but then I know I am not alone in that either. This creative stuff is hard. And as I bid 2019 goodbye my goals that were linked to that number on my easel have changed. They were mostly selfish anyway– I wanna win this or that… I wanna… I wanna… But I have changed so I will forge new goals. (after my easel is fixed) The new year will bring new work and hopefully many new opportunities.

Thanks for supporting me by sending encouraging notes on my blogs, taking my classes, attending the Guild meetings or just saying hi. I am also grateful for those that I have mentored this past year since they have helped me to become more razor-sharp in my critiques and in my overall understanding of art and how to teach it. Plus, it has been rewarding to work with artists in Russia, South Africa, and Singapore along with many artists here in the US. So every time I flip open my computer I am not alone. Thanks.

For the holidays my kids and I are running away to the Caribbean to celebrate the holidays in a sunny place with palm trees and peeping frogs. (and lots and lots of rum). So I don’t have any wrapping paper or presents under the tree. I am not cooking any family dinners. I have hardly bought anything for anyone and I am going to keep it that way. I think I freaked out a bank teller the other day when she asked me if I was ready for the holidays. “Nope!” I said cheerily. “And I want to keep it that way.” Less is so much more now. Just my kids and me… and many, many friends. I realize not being alone is the greatest gift I have.

So I hope to see most of you soon. Please keep reaching out. Some days just a quick hi means so much more than you can know. And I will keep painting… and blogging and sharing and hanging with my peeps. This blog will be back in January. And be sure to be on the lookout for the one-year anniversary party of the Artist Guild on January 27th at 7pm. It is going to be a Birthday Party complete with cake and presents! Formal Birthday Party invitations will be sent out to all art groups in Pittsburgh so I hope you can attend!  We now have over 240 artists on our email list,  a “Caretaker” Committee with artists starting to talk about what we can do and what we can be in the future and we even have a few sponsors now along with 10 new speakers for the year.  Set the date on your calendar and find out what we will be up to next year.

Best wishes for very “Lemon Yellow” holidays!!!

Hope to see you in 2020.  LILY LILY!!
– Christine

Share this!