Art – My “Sanctuary”

Sanctuary, Acrylic, 24×24

I have been doing acrylic studies on paper for over two months now. Rarely on canvas. Today, I chose one of those studies to enlarge onto a canvas. Keep in mind, abstracts are very difficult if not impossible to replicate stroke for stroke. Rather, I was recreating areas and colors. If I were to place the study and the canvas sided by side, you could see the similarity.


As my title indicated, Art is my “Sanctuary.” More specifically, painting is my “Sanctuary.” In 2006 suffering from depression after my poor health knocked me out of commission, my younger son encouraged me to paint to ward it off. I hadn’t painted for over thirty years. Painting became my saving grace… my lifeline… my “Sanctuary.” Today, it remains just that. My favorite quote is by Cecile B. DeMille, “Creativity is a drug I cannot live without.” If I don’t paint everyday, I become depressed.


Not only is my “Sanctuary” an emotional support, but I have created a sanctuary in my home where I can retreat and share my soul.


Recently, I have been sharing my soul through the written word (duh, you’re reading some of it, and I hope you follow my blog, “Studio Scoop”). Creating with words is now just as important to me as painting… my “Sanctuary.”



I Am An Artist – My Artist Statement

6 Tips for Writing an Artist Statement

There! I said it all in the title, “I Am An Artist.”


See, I painted “The Devil’s in the Detail Playing Tenor Sax,” Acrylic, 40×30.  Therefore, I am an Artist.

That’s my Artist Statement. I wish this short statement would suffice. Unfortunately, writing more than a short statement is a more daunting and arduous task.

So much of who-we-are is wrapped up in what-we-do. The “Artist-label” denotes what I am, but does not indicate what I do, how I do it, and why I do it. Hence the “Artist’s Statement.” According to a Wikipedia article, “writing artists’ statements is a comparatively recent phenomenon beginning in the 1990s.” The same article states that an artist statement serves as a “a vital link of communication between you [the artist], and the rest of the world.” Well, it should.

The question becomes, “why is it so daunting and arduous to write a dynamic artist’s statement?” Like other artists, I would rather be in the studio creating more art. Typically, artists are not writers or even conversationalists. As an artist, I communicate through non-objective compositions on canvas. Furthermore, I am a loner, spending most of my time in the studio without communicating to others. Through my Artist Statement, I need to answer the following questions

  1. What do I do?
  2. How do I do it?
  3. Why do I do it?
  4. What do I want viewers to understand about my work?

Did I answer these questions in the latest version of my artist statement?

I paint emotion.  In my process, I take an idea from life experiences and respond to that idea as I build each painting layer by layer.  I am surmounting the negativities of those experiences and responding to each previous layer with a new one.  Marc Chagall stated it best, “Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else.” [This paragraph answers the “what.”]

I do not wait for inspiration, I paint.  I know the act of painting, itself, will motivate me to be creative.  I prefer vibrant, saturated colors that I blend on the canvas creating a multitude of effects.  I paint with acrylics, house paint, spray paint, oil paint, ink, pastels, collage, transfers, sand, cement, and anything that will adhere to the canvas.  When I engage with my surface, I brush on the paint, scrape it off, knife it on, sand it off, and so much more. [This paragraph answers the “how.”] 

 Finally, I choose a title that compliments the theme of the painting and that is ambiguous.  I want viewers to have their own experience with the painting. [These final sentences answer the “why” and the “take-away for viewers.”]

I encourage you to reread my statement without reading the words in the brackets.

6 Tips for writing your own artist’s statement:

  1. Approach the task of writing with a positive attitude, otherwise you will be defeated before you start
  2. Avoid ArtSpeak, get to the point – avoid jargon, use a conversational style in the first person
  3. Your statement is not static – keep your audience in mind
  4. Take frequent breaks
  5. Have someone, other than a family member, read and edit
  6. Revise, Revise, Revise

I don’t care who you are, my short Artist Statement is: “I Am an Artist!

Hiding Under the Desk to Paint

My resume includes thirteen years as a choir and band teacher at a public high school. Can you believe after thirteen years, my highest annual salary was $13,000?  Poverty level.  Obviously this was several years ago and times have changed for the better, or have they?

It was during this time that I began painting with oils… wasn’t aware of other mediums. On my salary, affordable housing for my family and I was a mobile home. As you can imagine, an art studio was out of the question. When passion takes over, however, there is always a way.

I made do. I had a tabletop easel that I squeezed under a desk. I sat on the floor with my legs crossed and painted from photographs and magazines. My favorite subject was clown paintings. To this day, I still have three of those paintings. Each of my three kids have laid claim to one of them. I enjoyed clipping black and white photos from magazines and newspapers and imagined the colors for those clowns and their costumes. Additionally, I created still life paintings and gave them as gifts.

When I left teaching, I chose a different career path as a manager with a large transportation company. Having sacrificed my need to be creative and the stress of corporate demands may have contributed to failing health and I suffered two strokes and two heart attacks. I survived but lifestyle changes I made caused major depression. It was actually a blessing as my younger son encouraged me to once again take up painting. I did. I now consider myself a professional artist and I no longer have to “paint under the desk.”