Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wisdom from Lesley Riley

I first heard of Lesley Riley through an article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. She was shown working on an art project on her bed--her only studio at the time. When I met her later at Art and Soul in Virginia in 2009, I found her to be warm and friendly, as well as a talented artist and artistic encourager. I finally made the connection as we talked, exclaiming, "Oh, you're the bed lady!" Her working in such a small area was inspiring to me, as at that time I didn't have a real studio either.

Lesley has moved on to a larger studio now, and has an amazing business called Artist Success. I took a class from Leslie called 'Navigating Your Dreams" a little over a year ago--I owe my North Light book to that class!

Here's an article Leslie wrote recently on the subject of studios and art making.

Lesley making art on her bed-studio
No Studio Required

Second only to lack of time, the biggest thing most artists and would-be artists say is keeping them from their art is a lack of space to create. Well I say RUBBISH. That's just an excuse.

I am fully qualified to lay down the law on this issue because every single piece of art, including artwork for my own four books, contributions to countless other books, art for too many magazine articles to count, arts for shows and exhibits, class projects, class samples, over 1000 Fragments, personal and gift art - all of it was created in my bedroom ON MY BED.

But I must confess. for way too many years (more than I will admit to) I used the same excuse. My house and life were full of kids and my husband's home office. A space of my own? Ha! I was lucky to have a moment of my own.

I clearly remember sitting on my bed back in 1994 recognizing that the longing for something more that I was harboring was my art, my creativity. I had set it all aside to grow a family and build a business with my husband. There was a huge hole in my heart. A definite feeling of emptiness. I had no space on the outside, and yet there was this huge gaping space on the inside that needed filling.

So I began.

I created where I was, in the only space I had, which turned out to be my empty-by-day bed. The urge to create was great. The need to appease the longing led me to take-over the only space I could bed. (And yes, I had to clean it off each night.)

The rest is history, or at least my personal art journey history.

And now, after 18 years, I am moving on to Chapter 2. Come August I will have my very own studio space. It's a room I know I deserve. I've earned it. Will I become a better artist, a more prolific artist? There are no guarantees. A studio will not grant me magical powers. It will not affect my talent or make me a better artist. It will not give me the discipline necessary to show up every day to do the work (and yes, art is work - fun work - but work nonetheless.)

This nice, big 20' x 22' empty room that I will be able to turn into my Studio, with a capital S, will be nothing without ME. It is not the studio that makes me the artist. It is the production of art. I could throw several examples at you of great work and great artists that have been created working in next-to-nothing spaces. (Mother of seven, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin and Project Runway Season 4 winner, Christian Soriano, come to mind.)

Art and artists are created by creating. No space, tool, degree, technique, book, talent or wish will make you an artist. And that's the good news. It's a level playing field. All you need to do is create. Create where you are with what you have right now. And then do it again tomorrow, and the next day and each next day you come upon.

Show up and do the work. You never know what might show up as a result.

No studio required.

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit

Where's Lesley?

October 3 - 6, 2012
Art & Soul, Portland, OR
2 Classes + Limited 1/2 hour coaching & consultation sessions.

October 25 - 28, 2012
The Red Thread Retreat, Knoxville, MD
The October 2012 retreat is sold out!

November 1 - 3, 2012
Moderating 2 panels:
  • Getting Out of Your Own Way - Stories from Those Who Have Taken the Leap 
  • Making It My Own - How to Find Your Unique Style
Registration opens soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Birthday Hunting and Gathering Report

Today I celebrated my birthday with my partner, my son, and daughter in law. After we met for brunch, my partner and I headed to SCRAP where I found the following haul.

 The coolest item was Modern Mystic magazine from 1939. I found some great rubber stamps, old typewriter bond paper for creating those vintage-looking letters for collage, National Geographics for citra solv paintings,
Distress Ink, washed lamb's wool for mixed media, embellishments, and more. That's the kind of birthday present I like to give myself!

I also received these lovely flowers from my family. And the sun was out in Portland!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pictures from "Wabi-Sabi Wax" at Art and Soul

I spent a second wonderful waxy day with students at Art and Soul Retreat in Las Vegas. Here come a lot of pictures! The students were so bold--all off them took my advice to experiment and work on several pieces at once. What great results! Isn't it amazing how different everyone's are?



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Art and Soul Las Vegas--Wonderful!

Yesterday I returned from a delightful time at Art and Soul Retreat, Las Vegas. Our hotel was in Henderson, just outside of the city. I had never been to Las Vegas before, except for the airport. Amid all the casinos and swimming pools at our hotel, there were we artists ignoring the glitz and creating our own beauty.

I taught two classes, both encaustic. Today I'm showing you what my amazing students created in "Mind Your Own Beeswax." None of these students had used encaustic before but they took to it like bees to flowers. I got so excited to see what they came up with--all different and all wonderful.

More pictures tomorrow.