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Art Remains the Greatest Thing Ever :: by Lisa M. Pace

For as long as I can remember art has been a part of my life. The earliest arty recollection I have is around the age of three years old. I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mom painting a ceramic squirrel pencil holder and thought it was the greatest thing ever! During my grade school years the first thing I looked for on my school supply list were “Crayons” getting a new box of crayons and seeing all of them lined up so perfectly in the box was pure delight. My love of glitter and precision cutting was discovered in first grade as I sat at my desk cutting, gluing and glittering a gingerbread ornament. As I sat at my desk art took me to a place of calmness where all my worries and anxieties melted away. I became calm and focused as I created.

Growing up art brought my family together. My mom is a fabulous artist. She sketches still life images and loves to paint landscape scenes, lighthouses and the ocean. My dad is a woodcarver and carves wildlife and sea life as well as abstract sculptures. I would create bedtime stories by drawing hippos “Henry & Henrietta” for my younger sister of 8 years that took her on a little fairytale journey each night.

I honestly cannot remember not having some kind of art project going on in our house growing up. I feel since there were so many mediums being used in the house it’s the reason I love to create with so many different mediums as well. I saw so many growing up by watching my parents that I truly have a love for all kinds of art. It is not uncommon for me to have several different projects going on at once… embroidery, plaster, resin, paper etc.

I started playing with paper in 2005 when I wanted to create a mini album for my daughters 17th birthday. After this, one thing lead to another, magazine publications, Design Teams, Martha Stewart Master Scrapbooker , Memory Makers Master and in 2008 my first book deal with F+W Media. Art has given me many wonderful opportunities, has allowed me to travel to fabulous places around the world and make lifetime friends. Art remains to be the greatest thing ever just as it was when I was three. It continues to bring me joy, and a sense of calm.

Discover Lisa Pace here.


And the Day Came by Tracie Hanson


As an artist, I’m a very late bloomer.  I’m nearly 53 and have been painting for a scant four years.  All my life however, I’ve surrounded myself with artists.  I’ve even chosen parallel careers to art making.  I was what author Julia Cameron, in her book “The Artist’s Way”, would label a shadow artist.  You see, my desire to create was so deeply buried, I honestly had no consciousness of it.


Yes, I’d always been “creative”.   I knew how to make my home look pretty.   Many of my friends would ask my help with their homes too.  I earned high marks on college papers and could pen a wacky party invite.    


During the late 80‘s to mid 90’s, I co-owned a fine art gallery with my Mom, a multi-talented painter, musician and interior designer.  During those gallery years, I relished any time with artists.  I often placed local ads seeking their consigned art.  These led to my favorite days - when artists would arrive in trucks bursting with beautiful paintings, colorful ceramics and other wares.  I loved climbing inside to sort through the treasure!  


My passion for art was so great, my Mom and I began hosting a weekly show on local talk radio.  From inside our gallery, we broadcast hour long chats with artists about the creative lifestyle and their art.  I was intrigued by their process and “bohemian” ways, but I never thought to pick up a paintbrush myself.  My life was about work, paying rent, caring for my dogs and squeezing in a social life, you know?  It simply never occurred to me.


After several years, we sold our gallery and I moved on to new adventures.  For many years, I worked in L.A.‘s highly competitive television advertising field.  I was in sales however, not on the creative side.  There, my closest friends were the producers, writers and marketing gurus.  More rubbing elbows with creatives while I pushed pencils and computer keys . . .


About 10 years ago, I married my boss.  (Gasp.)  We knew that we didn’t want to live and work  together, so my amazing husband gifted me the freedom to “pursue my passions”.  This sudden opportunity sent me into a tail spin!  Having no clarity on what my passions actually were, I fumbled and drifted.  I tried out new “careers” and directions for several years.  Each time I was disappointed and unenthused.  It became clear I was only doing what I thought I “should” - namely bringing home a paycheck.  I drove my poor husband insane with constant self analysis, guilt and angst.  Gawd, he’s such a gem!


Even though no new direction hit the mark, I began to notice things about myself.  First, my lifelong love affair with journaling was changing.   Along with my stream of conscious words, I began adding collaged images to the page - and sometimes even doodles and sketches.  I have no recollection of how or when that began.  Also, with the time now to read solely for pleasure, I found myself drawn to books about artists, their lives and the creative process.  I was amassing quite a library.


My creative path unfolded dramatically when Sabrina Ward Harrison hosted a nearby workshop.  I spotted an ad for the class just a day before it would begin.  I was stunned to learn there was one space left.  The next day, I walked into a hushed room filled with the most amazing women artists.  I never felt so terrified, or so absolutely certain I was in the right place! 


Filled with inspiration, I began the search for other art classes.  I discovered a world of internet based workshops.  Who knew?  I quickly joined an intense 6 month online painting mentorship with artist Shiloh Sophia McCloud.  In this class, I painted my very first canvas!  Working on that first painting, I felt such clarity and purpose.  I now wholeheartedly believed I was an artist - a new artist, but one with potential.


Before completing the class, I took another leap.  I asked my Mom, a lifelong painter, to share a studio!  I knew she needed the space, and I needed to explore my newfound heart’s calling.   Synchronicity confirmed I was on track when 2 days later I located a space for us ten minutes from my home.   The rental met every criteria on our list - things like a large rolling metal door, a short term lease and a super safe area (it’s across the street from the police and fire departments).  Within one week, we had our warehouse studio. 


The morning we drove to our new landlord’s office, I couldn’t believe what I was doing.  I signed the lease with a shaky, but certain hand.  My life had changed so quickly . . . I’d begun calling myself an artist, painting on canvas and renting an art studio within a four month period of time!   It may seem as if the epiphany was sudden, but as I write, I’m aware of the long journey to that point.  Signing the lease was more than a monetary transaction - much more than a contract . . . it was my written commitment to following my heart and making art more than a hobby. 


That was nearly four years ago - it’s early in what I hope will be a lifelong artistic adventure.  Today, I continue art journaling, painting very large canvases and leasing the same warehouse studio.  I have easy days and crazy making days alike.  But the joy that comes from a committed daily practice and creative exploration is addictive.  I know I will never stop!


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud 

was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

 - Anais Nin


To learn more about Tracie, visit


Art Saved Me From Myself • by Tara Wilson

Tara WilsonNo One Told Me I Could Be an Artist
Growing up, no one told me I could be an artist. Being that my parents were both highly educated professionals, I was given a very narrow definition of success. Doctor, lawyer, or business-banker were a few of the appropriate choices. All I knew was that I loved fashion and art. Because I lacked the ambition I thought I should have, I felt less than. Living in fear of being a disappointment, I went off to business school. I learned to conform and set career goals. Seeking refuge in the fine arts building, art saved me, but it was temporary.

Professionally, my life has been a bit of a winding road. I have always been drawn to art whether as an observer or a participant. I was thrilled when we were able to choose electives in school. I could choose art! I knew I had to grow up to do something serious but at least I could choose art along the way. Every elective slot was filled with time in the fine arts building.

That building became my sanctuary as I earned my Bachelors in Business Administration. I played in clay and paints and got messy. My new friends were all fine arts majors so time in the studio was the happiest place I had ever known. We laughed, complained about the “stupid” assignments we were given, and built our portfolios. I knew no one would see mine, but it was fun seeing a body of work come together. I could express myself and my vision without disappointing anyone. There was very little right or wrong in the fine arts building. I had never known that freedom.

At the end of my senior year at Campbell University, I had enough fine art credits to be an art major. And for just one day I was. It was a great day … almost. In the senior level classes, you assembled your entire body of work for a grade. We all left our work and after grading, one student was chosen to exhibit their work in the fine arts building. Without knowing I was a business major, they chose me. I was shocked, happy, and sad all at once. I felt as if I had somehow betrayed my friends that were real artists; after all I was just a business major taking art classes.

The day after I graduated, I went to the fine arts building to collect my pieces. It was all gone. The security guard said it had already been picked up. Inside I was devastated. He saw it on my face and asked if I wanted to report it to campus police. I said no and went home to finish packing. I was moving back to California to start my job as a store manager with a large big-box retailer. It was a huge opportunity for a kid right out of college. I walked away from that building thinking my art time was over and now it was time for business.

Overwhelmed & Lost
Fast forward past my first marriage, the birth of my daughter, and a return to school earning both my law degree and a Masters degree. I practiced law as an assistant district attorney with a heavy trial calendar full of murders, rapes, and drug charges. There was no time for art, but I did not notice because I never thought about art.

I left the district attorney’s office to marry the love of my life. Now I had my own law practice doing small business start-ups. My daughter was getting older, and I was the taxi, tutor, and all things mom. Still no art for me. I still had no idea I could have grown up to be an artist.

A few years later, the economy tanked, and no one was starting a small business. My workload evaporated. I had way too much free time. I was unhappy. I was used to being in demand. I equated being fully employed with a good professional job to success. I was no longer a success. So who the hell was I? Over-educated and basically unemployed summed it up nicely. By now, my daughter was in high school and had little use for her mom. She was a tough teenager, and it overwhelmed me, a person that was never overwhelmed. I felt empty and lost, but I soldiered on.

Just the Right Earrings
So how did I finally become an artist and the person I wanted to be? It all started with needing just the right earrings for a ball gown to wear to an event. I shopped and could not find a thing that worked. Then it occurred to me that I made earrings all the time as a kid. I headed to the local bead store and purchased all the supplies for me to make the perfect earrings. It was fun, and it reminded me how happy making something made me. I had shoved the joy of creating so far into the recesses of my mind it barely existed.

As I explored the new world of jewelry making, styles had changed a bit in 20 plus years, I discovered so many techniques and mediums I wanted to experience. I really wanted to learn to solder, but I was scared. This was a new emotion for me. I think in the past there had been no time to get scared of something. Somehow I convinced my sweet husband to take this soldering class with a bunch of girls at the bead store. He was really good at it, which was a little annoying. I spent many happy hours at my kitchen table practicing until I could make the solder flow just like I wanted it to. I was feeling less empty.

A friend suggested I sell my work, and I, of course, said she was crazy. Then on a trip to Walmart a fellow shopper bought the necklace I was wearing off my neck. She gave me fifty bucks for this silly soldered pendant necklace. Still, I thought it was a fluke.

My First Art Show
I blame Glitterfest for what came next! I attended a mixed-media art show to support a friend that made beautiful art dolls. I was not prepared for what was in that room. As I walked into the show, the chandeliers sparkled and danced dripping light all over the one- of-a-kind creations on display. I was so overwhelmed I had to go sit down and have a Diet Coke. As I wandered the show admiring the work of each artist, I felt joy, a kind I had forgotten.

Glitterfest was a juried show, which meant that all the applicants had to submit photos of their work and have them reviewed by judges to be accepted for the show. Being a crazy person, I decided I would apply for the next Glitterfest. First, I had to make and photograph something to submit. When I was accepted for the show, I panicked. I was filled with self-doubt. Would anyone buy the jewelry I was making?

Over the next few months, I made jewelry 15 hours a day. My hands hurt, and I was having a ball. Then I needed to set up my vendor table. It looked so boring with just the jewelry. I added vintage props and then began making small art pieces to fill the table and create a look. At the show, I sold darn near every piece of jewelry I had made and the little art pieces too.

I am happy in a way I did not know was possible. I now create full-time, and I love playing in my studio and all the hard work it takes to do a show or actually sell a piece of art. Part of finding my happiness required me to redefine success. I now feel like a success when I have achieved the goals I set for myself. I have learned to ignore the gentle and not-so-gentle inquiries from friends and family regarding my plans for getting a job. Some will never understand choosing to be artist as a career.

To learn more about Tara Wilson, visit


Art Saves • by Ray Hemachandra

Ray HemachandraLearning to Value Art
Art was a constant value in my home growing up. My family lived in the suburbs of New York. We'd go into Manhattan - "the City" - constantly and to the seemingly countless museums and exhibits. Long Island, where we lived, had its own share of little museums and sculpture lawns, too, and other forms of beauty: the Clark Botanic Garden and the Old Westbury Gardens were favorite spots, as well as the beach and the Atlantic Ocean itself.

The culture-fied activity reflected my mother's value system. As a boy I was pulled along, for the most part; I'd rather have been playing ball in the backyards and the street, reading comic books, and watching the Yankees, Knicks, Islanders, and Jets on TV.

But that immersion in culture as a value stuck, perfectly reflecting my mother's best hopes, intentions, and manipulations. Somehow those competing value systems became complementary in my adult life. And now I impress it all on my own son.

My Mother
My mother was Rita Hemachandra. Toward the beginning and end of her life - when she was a little girl and then in remission after and before breast cancer (after her first bout and before the cancer recurred and overwhelmed), as she neared her death - she preferred to be called Hope. She was an artist, as well as a kindergarten teacher.

She especially loved to paint and to draw. She tried different mediums, because she enjoyed experimenting. Watercolors were her favorite, though. She'd take class after class, year after year, and paint portraits and flowers, birds and the beach, Central Park and eggs.

She had artist friends, too. I remember posing for days for one of those friends painting an oil portrait of me, standing obediently in place when all I wanted to be doing was running outside.

I did this in exchange for candy bars.

It wasn't actually optional, but in fact I always have been willing to work for candy bars.

The Hope Hemachandra reference and refreshed remembrance come from recently seeing a painting by my mother - one I'd never seen before - at an elderly family friend's home. The friend, my Aunt Mary, lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. My son Nicholas and I live in Asheville, N.C., and we visited her last month. I was completely surprised to see art I recognized as by my mother's hand.

I observed more closely: The painting of sunflowers was dated 1996, two years before her death, and she signed it "Hope." And I then remembered: she and her sister, my Aunt Hattie - Hattie and Rita Warmbrand - had renamed one another Faith and Hope as children growing up in Manhattan in the 1930s. And my mother clung fervently to hope - to the name of it and to the idea of it, to art and her guitar and the beach and the garden and to life itself - in her final years.

An Eye & A Talent for Art
Alas, I inherited my mother's love of art but not her talent for it. In my defense, I draw most excellent stick figures. But that's about the extent of it.

Occasionally, though, I'll exhibit greater ambition and play. I'll take a drawing- on-the-right-side-of-the-brain-type class and enjoy making a fool of myself - not entirely dissimilarly to the time I took a swing-dancing class with a friend and enjoyed stumbling along and occasionally falling over. I've taken a stained-glass class and was actually very pleased with the pretty sunset I created - curves were particularly hard to cut well - and equally pleased that after a few months of class, against even greater odds, I had all my fingers.

Lacking a hand for such things, even with fingers still intact, I nonetheless developed an eye for them. And so I've partnered with incredible artist-authors and graphic designers in my work life, as I've published magazines and art and craft how-to and gallery books, and in my personal life, as all of the most important women I've been with in my life have been artists.

Finding Art Where I Can
Right now I lack that both professionally and personally, so I find art where I can: in the nature surrounding my son and me in the Blue Ridge Mountains where we live in Asheville, North Carolina, which happens to be an area rich in artistic personalities; in photography, its own important art form and one to which I bring a little more talent, perhaps; and in my son, my most precious expression of always evolving artistic vision, albeit mostly his.

It's silly to make such generalizations, but I'll go ahead and be silly talking about the artists I worked with during my six years at Lark Books and three leading the Lark Jewelry & Beading imprint: They are simply awesome. They are kind and loyal, and I'm honored to have so many friendships that continue now that I've moved on professionally. I learned so much in creating books with them, books designed to teach and inspire.

Artists form passionate communities, as well, and I'm truly enriched by continuing to participate in several of them. The Internet connects people in transformative ways; I'm literate in the concerns about it but let's acknowledge, too, that some of these ways are wonderful.

So, at the end of the day, all these phases of my life come together. My son goes to bed, and I glance at the artwork on the walls and shelves around me. There are paintings and drawings by my mother (flowers and portraits), my ex-wife (angels, buddhas, and roses) and her uncle (mountains) and her late mother (an orange), my Uncle Bill (dogs), a close friend (hard to describe what she paints and creates, really), and, yes, even Nicholas (by and of his own hand) on the wall right now. There's additional fine art, too, and prints and posters representing stages and aspects of what I treasure and keep with me, the things and people and places I've loved: a publicity poster for a book by my grandfather, Max Warmbrand, a well-known naturopath; a Tami Boyce print from a friend's gallery in which the giant robot and the dinosaur take a break from their battle to sit on the hill and look for shapes in the clouds - a duck, a heart - as the city burns; a Meg Smith landscape collage; a William Welsh poster for the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago from the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. Oh, and there are photos, too: some of my own of people, nature, and events, and even more of those sports figures I grew up watching and their fellows who came before and after: photos signed by baseball players from Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle to Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter; a hockey puck signed by Mike Bossy; a jersey signed by Willis Reed. And there's a bird flameworked by Shane Fero for his chapter in my book The Penland Book of Glass; there, original calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh; and there, a beautiful mask crafted for me by a former colleague and friend at a magazine.

And the top shelf on my living-room bookcase is filled with many of the books I published, signed by the artists who made them happen.

The stuff of my life is the art of my life.

Art saves, yes: art and children at play and love and joy and family and friendship. These are all the reasons why we're here.

To learn more about Ray Hemachandra, visit


Leap of Faith • by Andrea Singarella

Andrea Singarella Seeing Beauty Uniquely
As a child, I saw things through a set of wondrous young eyes that appreciated history, sentiment, and beauty even before I knew what those words meant. People sometimes referred to me as an “old soul,” and still do. As a young girl, I gathered and saved every old photo, beaded rosary, and vintage bauble I could get my little hands on. Sleepovers at Grandma’s house meant hours spent digging through her jewelry boxes and dresser drawers, often leaving with a bag full of treasures. I remember coming home and taking the jewelry apart, categorizing all of my new beads in fancy plastic containers and creating something new from these cast-off baubles. This was just something I did without much thought, except the thought that doing so made me a happy little girl!

After high school, I set off for college and decided to major in Fashion Merchandising. Upon graduating from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, I worked as a buyer for Barneys New York. It was during this time in wonderful New York City that I truly learned the power of aesthetic and personal style, and began to develop a deeper love for art, history, and creative expression. My time in New York shaped me in a powerful way and gave me a confidence and understanding that I had never had before. I realized that we each see beauty in our own unique way, and express it just as uniquely.

Opening Up to the Possibilities
After a few years of working and loving life in New York, I decided to leave the corporate scene. My husband took a job overseas and we spent a year living in Eastern Europe, traveling and getting lost in the excitement of living abroad. This adventure further fueled my creative spirit and sent ideas swirling through my head! My jewelry-making hobby remained a constant throughout these years, and I always enjoyed tinkering with my supplies when I had the time. Upon moving back to the U.S., the most important vocation of my life soon began: raising our three children. While I happily focused my energy on my young family, I lost focus of my creative passions at the same time. It was my husband who encouraged me to dig deep to find the fire that was still smoldering in my soul. I began making jewelry once again, took a huge leap of faith, and opened a small web boutique when I was pregnant with my second son. Truthfully, my husband believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time, and convinced me that I would succeed. This leap of faith turned into a huge blessing.

Looking back, I can now see that this is the path God has led me down since childhood. It was all a part of His plan, and I just needed to open myself up to the possibilities and have faith in Him and in myself. Easy to say, but not always so easy to do!

Always Burning Bright
Today I still feel blessed everyday to be a stay-at-home mom, and though I am always juggling and balancing my art with my family time, I think I’ve finally found a groove that works for me. I go through dry spells every so often, but my little shop is usually stocked with at least a few pieces of jewelry, and occasionally I have a big chunk of time where the creativity just flows. Through the years, my personal style has evolved but a few elements have always remained: my love of soft pastel hues, old rhinestones, tarnished religious relics, and pearls with patina. I have been inspired by so many artists and jewelry designers on this journey, and it is my greatest wish as an artist that the pieces I design and create will bless and inspire someone else in a small way. We can all learn something from one another, share ideas with each other, and inspire others. Ultimately, though, creativity has to start in and flow from one’s own heart. If you have faith, that fire will always burn bright.

To learn more about Andrea Singarella, visit


Experiencing the World Through Art • by Shelley Overholt

Shelley Overholt Sharing Ideas & Arts
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest curate Jenny’s blog this week. I want to begin the first few days boasting about all the talented women in Oklahoma. We actually are all really good friends. There are so many creative gals around here that it keeps our heads spinning. We are always sharing our ideas and arts with one another. This is how Art Saves me! I love being part of this awesome group.

I felt like I was in my “baby cave” for so long while I was a stay-at-home mom, raising kids that I had back to back. When I met all these gals and started to create with them, it opened a whole new world to me.

Collecting Art Experiences
I don’t have a particular art that I am especially good at or love the most. I just love to spend time with the girls, and I would say that I like to collect art experiences. My friend says that she would describe me as someone who uses art to experience the world. I try not to stress myself out when a project doesn’t work. I just say, “You are making art, not performing a kidney transplant!” I think everyone has an artist inside of them that they need to give the opportunity to shine. I hope you take the time to experience art, don’t be critical of yourself, and let art save you through the process.

To learn more about Shelley Overholt, visit


Art Saves • by Joana Carvalho

Joana Carvalho Carrying the Weight of Artist
Never in my life I thought I could paint. What changed? Me.

I’ve always been interested in arts, some way or another, but being an Artist … that title carried a lot of weight in my mind. Artists were cool, original, a little bit crazy, and dressed in an “artsy” way. Not me at all! Plus, the first rule to paint—I thought at the time—was to be able to draw. And I couldn’t draw. So I couldn’t paint.

Not Abiding By the Rules
So I went to college and majored in Graphic Design—the closest thing to art I could find. And it was great; I loved it. But even during college I suffered from fear of not being good enough. My boyfriend (who is my husband today) was (is! ) a tremendous artist and could (can!) draw like crazy, so I was always a little embarrassed to show him my stuff.

It wasn’t until many years and two kids later that I heard of mixed-media, and that alone started to change my perspective of how art was “supposed” to be. Art and “supposed to” don’t go together. Art is the very essence of self- expression and freedom, and that doesn’t have to abide by any rules.

Letting Go of What Other People Think
Yes, I can mix techniques and materials. Yes, I can paint something that is not a landscape. Yes, I can use my hands. Yes, I can paint.

The most important thing, in my opinion, is to enjoy what you’re doing at the time you’re doing it. Let go of the outcome, let go of what other people will think. If you like it—I promise you—somebody else will too.

To learn more about Joana Carvalho, visit


Connecting Creativity & Healing • by Liz Lamoreux

Liz Lamoreux Feeling the Magic
About seven years ago, I was painting on a big canvas for the first time. I was standing at the dining room table mixing acrylic paint and deeply noticing the joy I felt mixing new colors and using a huge brush to get them onto that canvas. Closing my eyes, I can hear myself giggling out loud and then singing along to The Weepies while wearing my headphones not worrying about anything and just having fun.

It was magic.

And I felt like the little girl inside me was playing for the first time in a long, long time.

As the pieces of the painting came together, I found myself running to my then home office (where I had a little creative corner) to grab this or that to add to my painting. After about an hour of this, I realized the painting was really about my grandmother who had died the previous year.

An image of hummingbirds calling for her spirit came to me. I imagined them singing the song she had been waiting to hear for her entire life. Tears fell as I added a hummingbird and words to the canvas. But I kept singing. And most importantly, I kept feeling the magic.

Telling Our Stories
This was the first time I connected creativity and my own healing in such a tangible way. The act of playing with paint and feeling like a little girl again created space for a level of joy I hadn't felt since before my grandmother's death.

As the paint dried that night, I took a few minutes to close my eyes and breathe. Knowing I had just touched magic or rather spirit, love, and magic had just touched me. I needed this few minutes of breathing it in to steady myself and create even more space for the healing to take root.

I think of the creative journey as one of expanding and contracting. We play and dance in the joy of creating, and then we synthesize what we’ve experienced in our bodies, minds, and hearts while we rest and reground.

Through it all we heal as we tell our stories.

To learn more about Liz Lamoreux, visit


The Force Calling Me Forward • by Jess Greene

Jess Greene Art is the force calling me, always forward, through my fears to growth and life.

Leading to Good
Several years back I was introduced to a couple artist and crafter blogs. I had always been a dedicated DIY-er and maker in many forms so I found the blogs to be little windows into the lives of people I knew I already loved and connected with. From blogs I learned about art workshops and soon went to my first art retreat.

And I was terrified.

I went to my first art retreat and knew no one. I didn’t think I could draw or paint. I certainly didn’t call myself an artist. But I knew deep in my soul that I had to go, that I was meant to be there, and that working through my fear was going to lead to something good.

And it did.

Moving Through Fears
And it set a trend. My journey as a person and an artist can be seen as cycles of moving through fears with a deep sense of knowing that all the hard work will bring about tremendous growth. I started painting, started a creative network, quit my day job, completed an artist residency, started teaching painting, drove around the country for three months, and now am going back to a full-time job. Each step feels terrifying just like each honest, raw painting I paint is terrifying.

Taking the Risk
Art is about putting yourself out there. Expressing yourself and then putting it out there for others to see. It is always terrifying to some degree, but oh so fruitful too.

Put yourself out there. Take the risk. Show up and know that after every fear there is more strength then you could imagine.

To learn more about Jess Greene, visit and


Art Saves Me Every Day • by Stephenie Hamen

Stephenie Hamen Never Good Enough
I am about as Type A as a person can be. I was born this way. It has plagued me and tortured me my entire life. Nothing is ever good enough in my mind. Nothing. I am beyond incredibly hard on myself. I was driven to get straight A’s in school, to make every team I tried out for (and start every game), to sit first chair in the band as a flutist, and to graduate at the top of my class. I was to go to college, then to grad school, and then be the best in my chosen profession.

And I did it. All of it.

And I was miserable. I ended up in a job that was emotionally, and subsequently physically, killing me. I was in a deep depression, losing weight at an alarming rate (granted, I was model thin but it is hard to enjoy it when you spend half your day sick as a dog, worrying about how to get out of that situation), and not being a very good wife, mother, teacher, daughter, or friend.

I was not a good version of me.

The Happiest Version of Myself
Growing up I had a strong passion for art. I used to go through paper pads, paint, brushes, crayons, and pencils like they were water. My dad is an amazing woodsmith and he would let me hang out, test out the tools, and help out where I could. I remember being at my grandma and grandpa’s house and she had this bag of old wrapping paper and ribbons. It was like candy to me. With a pair of scissors I would sit back, curl ribbons, and just be. When I got older I would sketch, write poetry, and make “stuff.” Then one day I put it away. It was time to get serious. Time to make the grades, the team, the chair. There was not time for art in my life—at least not formally. And, what kind of career could I possibly have in art anyway? That’s not a real job— it is a hobby. A way to pass the time. Nothing more, nothing less. It was not something for me to focus on—it wasn’t part of my Type A plan, which meant it wasn’t part of me.

I was wrong.

It is the only part of me that is true. It is the only part of me that is real. It is the only part of me that allows me to be the happiest version of myself.

My Creative Path
I am now on what I would call my creative path. It has taken me 5 years, a job and city change, and a lot of meditation, prayer, and luck to be where I am now. And, believe me, I still have a lonnnnggggg way to go. Every single day I am trying and learning new things, but the one thing that I know, deep down in the pit of my heart, is that art is what keeps me going each and every day. It is what makes me smile after a rough day. It is what fills my heart with joy. It has made me a better, happier, and more-in-touch mommy to my boys. It has made me a much better version of myself.

It saves me—every single day.

I am Stephenie Hamen—Creative. Foodie. Master Gardener. Blogger. Mother.

To learn more about Stephenie Hamen, visit


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