Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Testing My Wings

After going to New York, I had this feeling that maybe there was more of the world I could go see. I also had plenty of worry about money and the future buzzing around in my head every day.

One morning, I was asking myself what I wanted to do. I was so sick of the worry thoughts that I just said to myself "I want to go to Europe and paint." I let that roll around in my head for awhile before I said it to Jeff. It felt good and so I told him what I was thinking. He said "great, where do you want to go?" I thought about France and Italy, maybe Norway and then I said Greece. I think because it is sunny and we had been having a lot of late snow and cold all the way into the first week of June and I was sick of it!

Jeff has great skills for planning trips and finding deals. He went online when we got home and found a great apartment on the Island of Rhodes that had a kitchen, laundry and an adorable little courtyard. I liked it right away. He took some time to compare it to others, but we didn't see anything as good. I knew it would deplete our savings, but we both felt good about it, so we bought airplane tickets and reserved the apartment for the whole month of October.

The plan is to go to scenic places early in the morning to get that great light. Take lots of pictures and sketches. Go back to the apartment and paint all day, then go out and play in the evenings. Hopefully we can get a nice painting portfolio started for both of us. We would also like to explore the idea of painting the same subject so that we get a "he saw, she saw" series of paintings happening.

Making a decision like that is scary, but it also has had the effect of giving me something positive to think about instead of all that worry. It feels like investing in my future instead of worrying about it!

Jeff's Corner: Out of the frying pan, into the Greece!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Learning To Fly

Tina at Times Square, New York © 2008 Jeff Welter
Tina at Times Square, NY
This spring I had the opportunity to go to New York city. My Talented Boss was having a show there and Jeff would be transporting and setting up the artwork. I could stay in the hotel with Jeff for four days, if I wanted to buy my own airline ticket. I would be flying by myself for the first time.

This probably seems like nothing, but twelve years ago I could barely get on an airplane. It wasn't the fear of crashing. I always believed in those statistics that it was safer to fly than drive. It was the claustrophobia, the not seeing out, that out of control feeling and fearing that some strange person would be coming apart emotionally. Oh, that would be me. I know I watched way too many of those "Airport" movies in the 70's.

For someone who has never had an anxiety attack, this probably seems ridiculous. Just imagine your heart pounding, hands shaking and mind racing with your worst fears for an hour or two. It's like a bad dream you can't wake up from. I would have avoided airplanes my whole life if I hadn't married a man who loves to travel and dreams of seeing the whole world. This was a stress on our relationship and I prayed that I would be able to change but I wasn't sure how.

Central Park, New York ©2008 Tina M Welter  Spring and baseball games in the park.
Central Park, NY
Looking back, I can see that this was a journey of changing patterns for me. Ten years ago, Jeff really wanted to go to Hawaii. I was terrified of that eight hour flight. I had a friend who was a hypnotherapist, and she felt she could help me. I learned from that experience that my huge fear was actually trying to protect me. I had to learn to judge between the really dangerous versus the perceived dangerous. This did help me. The next trip we planned to go to Hawaii again. Hurray! I can do this. Then 9-11 happened. We were scheduled to fly five days after the attack. I was crying before we got on the plane, but I did get on.

Last November, there was an art show in Chicago that my Talented Boss was participating in. I was able to fly with other employees but no Jeff. I had to learn then to have all my stuff together without relying on him so much. At least I still had people I knew and they understood my anxiety.

Rockefeller Plaza, New York ©2008 Tina M Welter  The iconic golden sculpture.
Rockefeller Plaza, NY
This brings me full circle to New York. The flight was delayed for two hours because of mechanical difficulties. That gave me a long time to think and worry. It was tough work keeping my mind in control. Eventually the flight got on the way, I made the next connection, and my luggage didn't get lost either.

What I learned is that I could have saved a lot of energy by not worrying so much. I got to see Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night" at the Museum of Modern Art as well as original Monet and Picasso paintings that I thought I would never see. Central Park was amazing and New York bagels are the best. I realized that there is so much in this world to see and enjoy if I don't let my fear stand in the way. It's helpful to look back and see how I was able, one step at a time, to accomplish something I never thought I could do. I hope to apply this concept to making a living with my artwork, which at this point seems just as terrifying as flying did twelve years ago. My seat is in an upright and locked position!

Jeff's Corner: "There's trouble in the cockpit!"
"The cockpit? What is it?"
"It's a little room at the front of the plane where the pilot sits. But that's not important right now..."
(Airplane, 1980. Some of us were influenced by different movies...)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stuck In The Worry Groove

"Hillside and Horses" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994 Tina M Welter  Landscape watercolor painting near Drummond, Montana
"Hillside and Horses" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994
This has been a rough week. I think I was born with a "worry gene" because it has been a favorite hobby of mine for years. I remember being a little kid of six and worrying about school and what I was wearing and who would say what to whom, etc. As part of the pattern changing experiment, I made a promise to myself this spring that I couldn't worry about the future or past, only about today. It seemed like the only way I could keep myself moving forward and not getting stuck in thinking about my job moving away this fall.

"Big Sky" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994 Tina M Welter  Watercolor landscape painting near Drummond, Montana
"Big Sky" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994
I had been doing quite well, the excitement of changing my life was keeping me going. But it seemed like this week the news just got to me. Oil prices going up, housing market stalled, banks closing, food prices increasing and I am going to go out there and make a living from my artwork? Am I nuts? It didn't help that our refrigerator stopped working and the roof started leaking! One of my favorite mental demons of years past perched grinning in my head telling me "who wants art when they can't afford a house or food?" The funny thing is that I had this same worry twenty years ago. I wish we had the economy of twenty years ago now!

"Trio" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994 Tina M Welter  Landscape watercolor painting of fall trees near Drummond, Montana
"Trio" 5"x 7" watercolor on paper, ©1994 Tina M Welter
The other promise I made to myself in May was that I was going to get up at 6:00 a.m. and paint everyday for an hour. Then I would exercise and then go to work. The plan was to do one small painting a week and by mid-July I would have about ten paintings. I have done a pretty good job of painting every morning, which is amazing since most of my life, no one would call me a morning person. The disappointing part is that I have only finished two paintings since May. Not being able to meet my expectations really took the wind out of my sails. Enter the Worry Monster. How are we going to pay the bills? We are going to starve!!! Hello familiar groove.

Two things helped knock me out of my mental rut. I happened to look in an old portfolio of watercolor landscapes I had made when we were living in Montana in 1994. At that time, I didn't think any of them were very good. I remember feeling that way then, but I was looking at at least four paintings that are just lovely to me now. How can a perception change so much? What is real? The other thing that helped was Jeff asking me if I really wanted to do anything else. No. I want to do this now. He also reminded me that history is full of ups and downs and the artists just do the best they can. If anyone else has any good kicking yourself out of the ruts stuff, let me know. It takes a lot of energy and mental gymnastics to stay out of them!

Jeff's Corner:
"Slow down, you movin' too fast
You gotta make the moment last
Just kickin' down the cobblestones
Lookin' for fun and
Feelin' groovy____________"
(Paul Simon, Fifty Ninth Street Bridge Song)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

But We Don't Have A Computer...

I mentioned in one of the past blogs how doing something everyday toward my goal of making art was a new mind set for me. Since I enjoyed submitting paintings to the miniature show so much, I decided to subscribe to Art Calendar to see if there were other shows I would be interested in. I have known about this magazine which lists shows, grants and fairs and festivals for at least ten years, but I never felt I was doing enough art to make it worth subscribing to.

The second issue I received was all about art and the internet. We had looked into selling art on Ebay about twelve years ago, but we didn't think it was worth the time to do since it didn't seem like the artists were making much money from the sales of their paintings. The other issue was that we didn't have a digital camera or a scanner to get our images online. Our top priority was building the house, so all extra cash went to that project.

There are all sorts of things about marketing art online now. One of the things they talked about was blogging and letting people know what you are doing and why you are doing it. I want to thank two artists Justin Clayton and Elise Tomlinson for their excellent advice about blogging and how to get started. I wouldn't be writing now without their help. You can find Justin's blog at where he posts an original beautiful painting everyday and sells them on e-bay. Elise Tomlinson talks about Alaska and posts her paintings. Google her site at Alaskanartistblog

Twelve years ago, I was juried into a co-op gallery, where a group of artists get together and share the costs for rent for the space and do all the work like sales and bookkeeping. It was a good experience for getting feedback on my artwork, but it was really frustrating on how few people actually saw the art. I only made enough sales to cover the cost of the rent and I left after a year and a half. What I like about the internet is the possibility that more than a bus load of people can get a chance to look at your artwork. There are artists making good money on Ebay now, such as Patty Baker and Vana Howell. They often paint two or three paintings a day to make it happen which is amazing. They also gave some good advice about how they have succeeded.

Of course all this interesting information made me want to get a computer and encouraged me that maybe there were some other ways to make a living with my art. Our last good computer had been ruined during a lightning strike and we have not had good luck replacing it. We had been using the computer at work for almost two years. Enter the Economic Stimulus Package. We bought the computer we were hoping for and more batteries to power it. Is the change in my thinking bringing things together? Is it just coincidence?

I posted last week my first oil painting in twenty years. I asked Jeff if he would like to post his first oil painting ever, if you don't count the paint by numbers he did as a kid. Jeff's passion is trains. I'll turn the blog over to him if he has anything to say.

Jeff's corner: It was awfully nice of Uncle Sam to help us out with our careers!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Who Says Oil and Water Don't Mix?

"On the Trail" 6"x 8"oil on canvas, ©2008 Tina M Welter   A red fox is following footprints in the snow.
"On the Trail" 6"x 8"oil on canvas, ©2008
Because of necessity, I taught myself how to paint with watercolors 20 years ago. After graduating from college, my husband and I moved about twelve times in eight years trying to find the right combination of work and place we wanted to live. During that time, packing around canvas and wet oil paints wasn't very practical. We did buy a used 1972 Prowler camping trailer in Alaska during one of our adventures and lived in it much of the time during those eight years. Needless to say,we were very short on storage space. They didn't build those RVs for long term living back in the 70's. I had loved painting with oils in college, but didn't do very well with the turpentine fumes then, so that was another reason to try another medium.

It took some time, but eventually my watercolors started to look good to me. I found that they were wonderful for painting flowers which is one of my favorite subjects. They were also great for painting birthday cards and small studies of landscapes. The things I didn't like were the framing with all that glass and mat cutting and the tendency for many watercolor pigments to fade.

A few years ago, we started to hear about these new oil paints that were water soluble which sounded great, but I wondered if they could really be that stable to paint with. Time seems to be proving that they are a wonderful new way to use oils. In the interest of changing my old "I can't do it" patterns and not having to cut another mat for one more painting, I decided to invest in a new set of the water-soluble oil paints. We bought the Holbein Duo brand because they were also using non-toxic pigments and their Medium to mix the paint with didn't give me a headache.

This was so exciting; new canvas, new paint, and certainly I would have no problem remembering how to work with oil paints! I should also mention that my Talented Boss had told me that her gallery was looking for someone who could paint wildlife. Since I was still feeling good about having my last paintings juried into the miniature show, I thought sure, I can give wildlife a try.

I decided I wanted to do a small 6"x8" painting of a red fox. Piece of cake, right? I do all my flower paintings from my own photos so there is no copyright problems. Finding images of a fox I could use was not easy. Especially one that had any decent lighting and color. I rented wildlife films and sketched and sketched. I ordered a book on drawing animals and sketched some more. I spent eight hours one Saturday and finally got a simple drawing I felt worked and didn't infringe on anyone's copyright. I was relieved to finally be to the painting part.

Good Grief! The underpainting was fine, but then it just seemed to go downhill from there. I wasn't used to paint that didn't dry immediately anymore and I kept making mud. Ugh! Thankfully, the water-soluble oils do dry in four or five days so that did help me. I spent more time studying my old oil painting books and trying to remember what used to work for me. Eventually, with several re-paintings, I got my little painting to a place where at least I didn't think it was horrible. Jeff told me to try something I know, like FLOWERS!... I finally agreed with him and put the fox away.

What I learned from this little adventure is that is good to stretch and try new things, but you can make yourself crazy and depressed if you try too many all at once. I should look into joining Overachievers Anonymous.

After doing three small oil paintings of flowers, I took out mister fox this week and finished the painting. Hurray for happy endings! I still think he looks a bit stiff, but hey, I can only get better and I'm ready to let this one go.

Jeff's corner: I came up with the title for this entry!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Changing The Patterns

"Waiting" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter #1 Pearl Series  Red roots reaching into the ground of ideas.

One of my favorite beliefs in creating great art is that you have to be inspired by a great vision and you also need large blocks of uninterrupted time. It also helps if you are living on the edge emotionally, physically and mentally. I always felt I was too sane to really do anything good and besides, who has the time when you have a regular job and a house to build? I did get a few things done occasionally. Mostly when I wanted to give a painting as a gift or make a great Christmas card. The result was that I only produced a few finished paintings a year.

"Opening" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter  #2 Pearl Series  Orange swirls of possibilities.

 Enter Mr. Eric Maisel with the belief busting idea that you must "make art in the midst of things." Even with bills to pay, you must show up regularly and work on your dream just like a regular job. Having a vision is good, but you have to work every day whether you are inspired or not. Actually not having your life in complete chaos is a good thing and don't expect everything you do to be brilliant. It's o.k. to create less than great art as long as you are consistent: eventually something will shine. It's just the law of averages. I liked that Maisel compared this idea to a fruit tree and how not all the fruit on the tree is going to be perfect.  
For someone obsessed with perfection, this was like getting a "get out of jail free" card.

"Closing" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter #3 Pearl Series  Yellow clamshell with pearl.

Obviously my first pattern I had to change was doing something regularly. I decided I could manage an hour or two on Sundays and that I was going to finish a project I had started at least five years ago. It was a series based on the cycle of creativity from Jeanne Carbonetti's book called "Making Pearls" The challenge of this for me was doing something that was strictly for my enjoyment. I know this may sound very odd to some people, but I have had another deeply held belief that nothing was worth doing unless it pleased someone else. I also wanted to address and change this pattern.

"Holding" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter  # 4 Pearl Series  Green dragon with white heart.

 I decided to do this mid-winter and my little studio is heated with a wood stove and separate from the main house. It was tempting to make excuses and I was surprised at the anxiety that going to work on something when I didn't have a clear idea what it was going to be gave me.  The paintings were supposed to express concepts, not an actual thing. Eventually with time, I realized how much I was enjoying myself and looked forward to those creative evenings. I did finally realize it was doing something worthwhile for me. I felt better about myself.

"Releasing" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M. Welter  Blue with white abstract flower.

Sometimes I had to battle the guilt of "not doing something worthwhile." With some deliberation, I've decided to post my seven "pearls" from the creativity series. They are so personal, yet I feel they are such an important step in this process I am trying to document.

 Jeff's Corner: Most of my change is in the ashtray of my truck.

Tina's Rebuttal: That is so bogus! He is all about change!

"Emptying" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter  Light purple and white.
"Sitting" 7"x 7" watercolor on paper, © 2008 Tina M Welter  #7 of Pearl Series Watercolor painting of inner landscape.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do Our Thoughts Affect Matter?

Do our thoughts make a difference in the actual physical world? Great question, and Lynne Mctaggart the author of "The Intention Experiment" decided she wanted to really find the answer to this question. I read this book this spring with my book club. As I read, I realized I was rather behind in the field of quantum physics and many of the latest experiments that have been taking place in the last 20 years. I have several books on changing your life through changing your thinking, and I do think they help, but I had never read one that was trying to prove it scientifically.

In Mctaggart's words: "This central idea, that consciousness affects matter, lies at the very heart of an irreconcilable difference between the world view offered by classical physics-the science of the big,visible world-and that of quantum physics: the science of the world's most diminutive components. That difference concerns the very nature of matter and the ways it can be influenced to change."

I have always been rather intimidated by the seemingly big and immovable world. It is a very different mindset to consider that the atoms that make up the physical world are "tiny clouds of probability." That the subatomic world is "not a solid and stable thing, but exists simply as a potential of any one of its future selves." That said, the whole rest of book is trying to determine what measurable effect we can have on that world, and what ways are most successful. I have to say, it made it seem more realistic to try some thought changes when there was some evidence to back it up that it might actually make a difference. I thought it would be very interesting to run my own experiment using my life as the lab and document the results as we go along, hence the name for this blog.

Lynne Mctaggart is offering for anyone who is interested in participating in a group Intention Experiment can go to their website at I like that there are people out there trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. Anyone can also post their own experiments and the results.

I know it sounds a bit hokey, but you should read the book and decide for yourself or just read what happens to us! Our basic intention is: "To support ourselves comfortably financially using our best talents in creatively satisfying ways." That is a mouthful, but you are supposed to be very specific. I hope that is specific enough!

Jeff's corner:I tawt I taw a puddy tat!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What I Learned From Art School

7" x 5" watercolor on paper, copyright Tina M. Welter 2008  Red roses watercolor painting
"Memory" 7"x 5" watercolor, © 2008 

 7"x 5" watercolor on paper, copyright 2008 Tina M. Welter  Watercolor painting of yellow mini-roses
"Cupid" 7"x 5" watercolor, © 2008
I am grateful that I learned a great deal about design and the elements that add to interesting art. Also, all the art history I learned has been helpful to me. What hasn't been so helpful is the belief that if your art isn't brilliant and cutting edge then there is no point in trying. I certainly didn't want to be mediocre, and I judged my fascination with painting light passing through flower petals to be just that. Expectation of brilliance is a real creativity killer, only I didn't know that twenty years ago.

I also learned that your art isn't worth anything unless someone else tells you it is. It never dawned on me that if it mattered to me, it was worth something. Eric Maisel in his book "Coaching the Artist Within" said it beautifully: "If you don't really think that you, your ideas, or your work matter, you won't have the motivational juice to create." That is the key I had been missing for so long. So much of the focus at school was how to make great art, which is good, but very little on how to keep being an artist and survive in the world once you leave art school. Frankly, I don't think they knew what to tell us. Good luck! Hopefully you will be able to pay the bills!

There is something about creating that feeds the soul and when that isn't recognized and respected, it manifests itself in negative ways. For me that was depression and sometimes anger at not doing what I felt I was supposed to be doing, but it didn't matter to anyone if there was another piece of art in the world or not, and it certainly wasn't brilliant, so why do it? So the argument circle went on and on in my head for years, until I finally read Eric's book and decided that I would matter.

This January my Talented Boss told me about an art show at a local museum that she had been invited to and told she could invite other artists she knew to submit artwork to be juried into the show. This was January 16th and the deadline was February 10th. I usually would have said there is no way I could have some new work ready in time. This time I said give me the information. It was a miniatures show, nothing bigger than 8x10, frame included, so that was good. I had to do some creative things with time, but I made the deadline with two paintings to submit. Much to my surprise and delight I was juried in; both paintings were accepted. Going to the show was such fun. I had been to many beautiful shows for my Talented Boss, and I took pride in what we had accomplished, but this was something different for me. I found myself wanting more.

My two paintings didn't sell. I didn't care. This deciding to matter thing was good. I am posting photos of the paintings without the frames. They are both watercolors of roses.

Jeff's Corner: It doesn't even matter if your "dumb ol' husband" tells you it's great...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

No Electricity Bills

Our off-grid house we built ourselves, © 2010 Tina M Welter
Our house
Early on in our marriage, my husband Jeff had a dream of building our home and making it an energy efficient passive solar house. We moved around about thirteen times for the first eight years of our marriage following jobs and looking for that right piece of land to build our dream home on.

Twelve years ago, we found a place in the mountains with trees, water, and only forest service land behind us. Perfect. We started with having to cut a road and build a small bridge before we could even get to living on our piece of property.

We have been slowly building as time and finances would permit and just moved into the house the fall of 2007. It still isn't finished. We still haul water and use a outhouse, but the view is everything we wanted. We have solar panels for all our electricity. It is a small system, so a few cloudy days can make using the computer difficult. Even with the inconveniences, we love our place and would rather be here than anywhere else.

After a lot of discussion about moving with the great job, we asked ourselves what was our original vision. It wasn't living in an apartment in a city, even though that does have it's advantages. We are actually living the way we first imagined, although I did envision plumbing! We just need a way to make money that can pay the bills and not kill the soul. In the small town that we live near, there are not a lot of options.

We have achieved half of the dream by building the house, now we would like to make it complete by earning our living as artists.

Jeff's Corner: At least she has closets...