The Fine Art of Preparation

This is a special update for my Art Patrons who may be wondering what is on my mind. Being a good planner is a great skill for artists. Since I had a long stint as a CEO of a small company, I am glad to have this skill in my tool box.

My upcoming solo show will be at the museum at PALCCO in Guadalajara in February 2022. Although I still have 15 months, I know that this time will go by quickly and I want to be sure that I finish all the work planned for the show. You can read more about this show in one of my blogs: Part-1:Break A Leg

Sandra and I met this week to discuss what pieces we want to make for the show and created a calendar  to see how we should prioritize this work. It was a little overwhelming.  But it’s better to put it all down on paper and face reality rather than live with free floating anxiety! 

Our projects fell into 3 categories:


Wall pieces


Our Planning Wall Chart

One thing that became immediately clear is that we need to start on some of the sculpture projects right now, which will pull us away from the wall work we are currently doing. For example, we plan to do a much larger installation of the Broken installation. This will require producing a large edition of new plates, bowls and cups

Full image of Broken Installation
Detail Image of Broken Installation

I am behind on drawing the images that we will need for these and need to carve out drawing time over the next 2 months. Our goal is to have drafts of all the new ceramics by early January. We work with a family owned factory, El Palomar, in Tlaquepaque and there is an artist on their team, Patricia, who hand draws each of our ceramic items. (see video below)

Personally, I hate working under pressure. This schedule will allow me to start drawing again in a relaxed way. Sandra can begin to develop the new designs once I feed her the drawings. And we should have a set of work to give to Palomar the first week of January. Our guess is that they will be working on our project for the next 4 – 5 months. This way, everyone gets the lead time they need and we will have all the components of the installation months in advance of the exhibition.

Once we have this project underway, we can turn our attention to other sculptures on our checklist. I’ll be telling you more about them in the coming weeks.

Welcome to the Flock! A warm welcome to my new Art Patrons

Welcome to the Flock! A warm welcome to my new Art Patrons

One of the things I love about being an artist is that we transform bits and pieces of nothing into something beautiful and meaningful. It’s the ultimate recycling project.

Thanks to your help, I can now lean into my work in a new and more confident way. I want to tell you more about my process so that you have a view into my mind and thinking. 

There are so many invisible parts to having an art career. Unless you are an artist yourself, you may not even be aware of all of these moving parts. Let me tell you about some of them that you will be funding.


I am blessed to have a terrific team of women working with me most days. Sandra is my full-time assistant. She’s my left hand gal and handles so many details it makes my head spin. Just to give you an idea, she develops graphics for our silk screens and orders the screens from Guadalajara. She keeps the production studio stocked with silk screen supplies, mixes the colors for the other helpers and quality controls their work. Sandra works on grants and exhibition proposals, especially ones in Spanish! Sandra’s Photoshop skills have been invaluable in developing my line of merchandise. That’s just a snapshot.

Alicia and her daughter-in-law Samantha are local women work in the production studio 5 mornings a week. They do silk screening, cutting and gluing feathers to pieces and keep the studio clean and organized. They live in a large extended family who are all grateful that these hard-working women have steady jobs.

Leni is the newest member of our team. She works remotely from Vera Cruz where she lives with her family who were deported from the US. She is a Millennial who knows social media like the back of her hand.

Tyler handles our websites and social media. When I decided not to work with Patreon or the other existing platforms due to ethical concerns, she stepped forward and said that we could create a Patron campaign on my own website. That you are reading this is a testimony to her hard and clever work.

We also work with two local sewers, Eunice and Esperanza, who sew our pages of printing. Although I do some of the sewing, I can’t keep up with all of it. And by now you know how much I like to support women in the community.

We also work with some great guys on specific projects. Dana is a local sculptor, landscape designer and hairdresser (give him all the credit for my hairstyle!).  He builds the forms for my sculptures that are eventually covered with feathers. 

Francisco is the manager of a huge foundry north of Guadalajara. His team built and shipped the crates to Australia and Oaxaca for the Biennales. 

When we get closer to the museum shows in Guadalajara and San Diego, we will need to build crates for all of the work. Some of your contributions are going into a savings account to accumulate for this extremely expensive undertaking.

I have just introduced you to 7 dedicated people who work hard to produce and exhibit my work. Needless to say, I couldn’t do it without them. And I couldn’t sustain these jobs without your support.


Art Supplies

In order to make work of this scale I need a lot of supplies. Chief among them are the silk screen supplies. We are constantly producing pages of recycled plastic bags that are printed with images of endangered birds and endangered languages. Producing these pages requires inks, solvents, silk screens, adhesives, backings, pins (thousands of pins!) staples, foamcore and miscellaneous supplies. When I’m building sculptures, I also need Styrofoam, bubble wrap, iron, paper and glue. For my floor installations, I order hundreds of hand-painted ceramic plates from a local family-owned factory in Tlaquepaque. Periodically, I need to build or purchase additional studio furniture like my standing work table on wheels.

Behind the Scenes

Then there are all the invisible things that an artist needs. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Let’s start with the website. The site needs to be hosted and projects often require additional plugins so that we can create better images and functionality. This Patron campaign required its own special plugin so that you could easily Join the Flock!

Although I do not attend all my exhibition openings, some of them are important and require flying to various cities around the US and Mexico. Last month Sandra and I flew to Oaxaca to deliver a piece to the Contemporary Art Museum and met various curators and artists. I am a member of several professional organizations like the Surface Design Association and attend conferences at least once a year where I exhibit work, see other exhibitions, meet curators and spend time with colleagues.

Artists require promotional materials. I produce business cards and catalogs. Last year I was fortunate to have my work featured on the cover of a magazine. Since I know that these editions sell out, I purchased 20 magazines so that I could use them for proposals to museums and galleries. 

I’m sure I have forgotten to mention other studio expenses like bookkeeping and accounting, but this will give you an idea about where the money flows. None of it goes into my pocket unless I sell a piece of artwork. When that happens I need to pay the venue 30 – 50% of the price as per the contract. 

With your help, I will be making more and larger work that will command more attention and hopefully open more doors to sales and commissions. Despite Covid and so much turbulence in the world, I remain hopeful that art matters. As a Patron, you understand the power of art to heal, inspire, calm and inform. Thank you for helping me press forward.

One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up”! 

Thank you! 


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TIME MANAGEMENT: Thoughts for the Self Employed

TIME MANAGEMENT: Thoughts for the Self Employed

Managing time is a never-ending effort for every artist that I know. We are constantly recalibrating the demand from the studio with the rest of our lives.

Folks who are not self-employed often envy our ability to choose and craft our schedules. However, in my experience, self-employment puts an extra strain on planning because all the structure of our lives comes from within. And in some ways, I am a tougher boss than any I ever had! 

Let me take you into my head so that you can hear all the voices calling me and how I attempt to create harmony out of that chaos!

I am in my late 60s and many of my friends are already retired. They call to invite me to lunch and I have become accustomed to saying “I don’t do lunch.” My first challenge is simply creating as many full work days as possible. 

Taking a break in the middle of the day really interrupts my thinking and flow. I prefer to schedule social time at the very beginning of the day and mostly after work or on weekends.

Work you may ask? I thought art was fun! Don’t get me wrong. With your support, I am SO grateful to be able to dedicate my life to my art…at last! I waited a long time for this chapter in my life. But for me, making art is an all-consuming activity. It requires tremendous attention to detail, lots of thinking and planning, physical demand, interaction with my team and sometimes, glorious hours of being in the flow.

Since I am building sculpture now and working so large, I find that being in great shape is more important than ever. Finding time to exercise is a challenge for most people. For me doing exercise first thing in the morning ensures that I get it done. I enjoy yoga, bike riding, weight lifting, calisthenics and swimming. Sometimes I watch a video while I exercise and sometimes I listen to a podcast. When I am bike-riding I love to listen to the Great Women Artists podcast with Katy Hessel from the UK and hear in-depth interviews with or about women artists around the world that focus on their art not their marriages and appearance!

This may surprise you but thinking about food dominates my thoughts throughout the day. I eat about 5 small meals a day. That seems to keep my blood sugar steady and maintain my energy. Since I like to eat dinner with Christian and since I do most of the cooking, I often start something for dinner at breakfast. Then at lunch, I’ll prep something else. By the time 6pm rolls around, I have half of the dinner made or prepped and can easily get it served by 7pm. On nights that I need to work late, Christian steps in and makes something great on the grill.

Then there’s the challenge of the rest of life! Doctor appointments, banking and shopping are big interruptions and most of these activities are during the work day. I try to schedule physical therapy at the very beginning or end of the day. If I can’t avoid going out during the day, I might schedule other errands that never get done on the same day and just get all things interruptions out of the way.


If you are in a relationship like I am, making time for each other is another big challenge. I try to eat as many meals as possible with Christian. At breakfast, we often share our goals for the day and make our lists. If we eat lunch together, it’s a nice time to check in about how our day is going. Sometimes deadlines mean I need to work at night but mostly I try to end my work day by dinner time so that we can hang out. Work often drags into the weekend for both of us but we try to plan some special time together. That might mean a motorcycle ride or seeing friends (outside and distanced of course).

Life in the studio has its own demands. I employ a team of women, some of whom work on site and some who work remotely. Sometimes the social media team needs a Zoom meeting to plan outreach. The two part-time studio assistants need input about screen-printing and other projects they work on at the studio. Sandra, my full-time assistant and I have planning meetings several times a week to set priorities for both of us and make sure that deadlines are met.


Deadlines you may ask? Yep, there’s lots of those. Some are external and some are internally imposed. If I am in an exhibition, in the weeks leading up to it, I often need to submit documentation, paperwork and information for signage. We apply for grants and shows throughout the year, so our calendar is dotted with these deadlines. And right now I am preparing for my first solo museum show. Somehow, I need to create enough large scale work to fill this museum! The exhibition was delayed a year due to Covid and I’m frankly glad to have the extra time. We have a monthly timeline mapped out with goals for when pieces should be complete so that I can keep up the pace of production and ensure that I’ll have enough work by February 2022. 16 months to go!!

Everyone has heard the saying that art is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The amount of time an artist needs to dedicate to administrative work (applications, social media, blogging, ordering supplies, planning, studio visits, etc) is sometimes depressing. However, it is necessary to having an art career. 


The most glorious days are the ones when the assistants have gone home, Sandra is working on a project at her home office, and I find myself alone and working in the studio. Sometimes I am so thrilled to be pinning feathers to the wall and thinking about my piece that I don’t even listen to music, preferring the background of birds and wind. 

On these days, I enjoy the precious hours of making art and being in the creative flow. I am filled with gratitude and feel that my time and vision are completely in alignment. My hope is that you also have hours of similar pleasure each week as well doing something that you love.


PS – If you are an Art Aficionado or an Art Lover, you can schedule a free consultation with me  to discuss anything related to your art and career. I welcome talking about time management, so feel free to put that on the agenda!

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What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were younger?

What advice do you wish you had gotten when you were younger?

Art is Important!

I’m trying to imagine a younger artist sitting in front of me and what I would tell her. For starters, I would tell her that making art is important. Most of the people in your life will think it’s frivolous but it’s not. Looking at art and considering its meaning has changed me and changed how I see the world. I have learned things I didn’t know. I have had spiritual moments of awakening. Art is powerful and that is why there have always been artists throughout history. We are the stewards of ‘seeing what is going on’ and putting our version of that out into the world. 

You need Support

It’s critical to surround yourself with people who understand and support your drive to make and create. They do not have to be artists themselves, although many of them will be. Other artists (and by this I mean every kind of creator) REALLY get it. They understand that making things and seeing the world through the lens of creativity is key to who you are. They will celebrate you, encourage you, lead you towards this life and eagerly share it with you. 

Most of us have some level of self doubt. This is normal, especially in a culture or family that doesn’t understand how important art is to you. There’s no room here for jealousy, criticism, sniping. Cut out people like this immediately.

Find people who will help you figure out how to make an art centered life. This could be a mentor, a support group, a dear friend. Creating this life is not easy unless you are blessed with a lot of financial resources. For most people, we need to figure out how to support ourselves and also make time for our art. And maybe we also need to figure out how to be in a relationship and have a family. There’s a lot of moving parts here.

There’s also no set formula. Every artist needs to figure out how to work these elements and each life will have a different set of solutions. And trust me, this is an ever-changing conversation that you will have with yourself because life is also ever-changing. 

Finding the Balance

How you balance having a family as a younger artist means making certain decisions that fall away when you are older. Having aging parents can also impact your art-centered life. Throughout all of life’s stages, you will continue recalibrating how to continue making art central. This realignment never ends but like art itself, it always evolves. 

There may be years where you can make less art because you need to make more money or spend more time with your family. This does not take away from your identity of being an artist. It just may be necessary to keep things going. And sometimes you don’t have the perspective to see that you ARE moving forward. This is where having friends, especially older friends, comes in handy. They have already walked this road and can assure you that your time will come. 

When I was a young mother, I was desperate to have two art days a week. Sometimes those days were only 4 hours in the studio. But those 4 hours sustained me and I never gave up on myself. Now I can work full-time. Your time will come! So never, never give up on yourself or your dream. Your circle of supporters will help you keep that dream alive with you. 


Let’s talk about money. You won’t find a lot of people who are comfortable with discussing this with you. But we live in a world that requires money for overhead and enjoying a balanced life. There’s really no way around this. How you crack that nut is entirely up to you, your skills, and your personality.  

The reality is that very few artists earn a living from their art. Even if they are fantastic artists. It doesn’t mean that you won’t, but it’s unlikely. I know hundreds of artists and almost none of them are self-supporting. If you are clever and social media savvy, you may be able to figure out how to support yourself from a Patronage program like Patreon. The conflict that most artists come up against is making money from more commercial avenues vs. making the art that they envision that may not be commercially viable. 

Some artists will be fine with pursuing a commercial avenue. I know a photographer who was happy to do corporate photography just to keep his hand on his camera. I tried doing textile design for many years but I was deeply frustrated and unhappy. Some friends didn’t understand this. They would say “How wonderful that you are earning a living from your art!” In reality I was chained to someone else’s creative vision and spent my days making their (in many cases atrocious) ideas come to fruition. I really didn’t have the stomach for this and eventually turned to a non-art related form of income. That way, when I did have studio time I felt fresh and eager to work.

That’s what I mean about each person finding their own way. It’s perfectly fine to make a living as a barista, a lawyer, a teacher or a nurse if that avenue allows you a way to continue creating your unique art. Like trying different media, you will also need to try different solutions to solving the challenge of making a living.

Visibility and Voice

At some point in your career, you may feel pulled towards showing your work, playing your music and sharing your writing with a larger audience. It’s hard to know when you are ready for this. Sometimes opportunities present themselves and that is a signal that it’s time. Maybe visibility won’t be important to you. But for many of us, getting feedback and affirmation, and maybe money for sharing your creativity becomes a gravitational force. 

The danger here is that where you show, etc may alter what you are doing. The challenge is staying true to your vision and not letting the visibility (gallery, editor, etc) steer you away from your version of creativity. 

So don’t rush into this stage. Get solid with who you are creatively. Find your distinct voice. Identify your message, your content, what it is that you want to say. Solid, but not rigid. 

Sharing your work should enhance your career and sense of self. I’ll talk more specifically about gallery life in another blog/video/vlog. However, the point is to be solid enough not to be swayed by current trends or other people’s opinions. Think hard about what you want from visibility. Be specific.

Art Centered Living

In closing, let me once again reaffirm that living an art-centered life is desirable and for most creatives, necessary. Be creative in all the ways that living this life demands. Keep your eye on other people who have figured it out and draw them into your conversation and evolution. Being an artist is sacred, it’s a privilege, it’s a responsibility, it’s fun and honestly, most of us don’t have a choice! Keep the flame alive and in the center of your being. You can do this!

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