Do you struggle with self doubt too?

I don’t have a lot of self confidence — never have. When I was younger, I loved to draw just for sake of drawing. I don’t remember being worried about whether or not my drawings were any good but just how much I enjoyed creating them. As I grew older, this (and many parts of the rest of my life) turned into a competition....and that’s partly on me and partly on the outside world. It’s easy to compare my work to others’ and see how mine doesn’t measure up to theirs, and this has been confirmed on several occasions where I entered art contests and exhibits only to get the dreaded rejection letter from the expert. Couple that with a perfectionist personality who never feels like I’m quite good enough and you have a recipe for failure mentality.

All of these thoughts were swimming in my head as the day approached for me to paint live at an event. Could I present a good painting? Could I complete it in a few hours? Could I handle the watchful eyes and comments? How would I handle the amount (if any) it brought in the auction?

I know in the grand scheme of life these are small things, but for me last Friday they were kinda big and new and scary. 

I had a realization a few months ago that me making art was more than just learning to paint better and sell more and all the things that go into having a successful art business. I realized God was using me and my art in ways for His glory that I’m still trying to figure out. My relationship with Him has grown a lot the past couple of years so it’s natural for me to include Him in all things pertaining to my art as well as the rest of my life. One of the ways I include Him is by praying, which I did a lot Friday,  and asked others to pray for me as well.

As I was telling some folks how I would like for them to pray, I said something God put on my heart and it helped me tremendously. I asked God to help me not equate my worth to how little or how much the painting went for. It would be so easy for me to think I was a complete failure if the painting did poorly and brought little to no money. But I realized something else: I would have thought in some ways I was the real deal and pretty awesome if it sold for a lot. But in that prayer request was the truth:   My worth in God’s eyes has absolutely nothing to do with what people think of my paintings — whether they think they are amazing or if they walk by them and never give them a second look.

God does not equate my worth with what I do. He loves me for me.

That prayer sank into me and I could feel true peace from God. And when the live event and auction were over, I can see how God’s hand was on me in everything that happened that night relating to me and the painting. 

I shared this pretty vulnerable story about myself because I bet I am not the only one who struggles with self doubt and feelings of low self worth. I hope my story reminds you of your true self worth in Christ if you are a Christian. And if you are not, I’d love to share what my faith means to me with you.

Ephesians 2:10

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Painting a little differently

My latest horse painting is a departure of the way I have painted in the past with multiple, bright colors, lots of brush strokes, and the thickness of paint with the palette knife. I don’t know why the way I painted this horse changed. I wasn’t looking for it to change. But maybe it changed because of my return to the love of drawing horses and wanting to create something a little different than all the other things.

I experimented a little with another painting a few days ago — the painting of the face of the black horse. I like how it turned out: the way the paint was thinned and how the thinning of the paint gave the painting values (lights and darks). I LOVE good values in a painting.

When I painted that black horse, it reminded me a little of my underpaintings, or first layers of my finished oil paintings. I love underpaintings. That is where I establish my lights and darks. If the underpainting values don’t read correctly as far as light and shadow, then when the color comes in on top, the painting won’t look quite right.

Many times when I’m painting the underpainting I have stopped and appreciated what I see that no one else will ever see because I will paint another layer on top and cover it all up.

Which brings me to the way I painted this Blue horse. I painted the horse in one color (well, two — a mixture of Prussian Blue and Payne’s Gray). I left the paint at full strength for the places I wanted dark and I thinned out the paint (and even used paper towels dipped in thinner to wipe off color) for the places I wanted light. I wanted to see if I could take one color and make it work for the whole animal. And I did. I love the way it turned out.

If you have any questions about my process or have done something like this yourself, I would love for you to share it with me.

I wonder what color horse I will paint next…..

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Rediscovering a childhood love

It took a trip back to Kentucky and a visit to the Kentucky Horse Park to remind me of a long lost love…

Horses.

When I was little, from as early as I can remember drawing, I remember drawing horses. Part of this could have been the fault of my older sister Susan who lived and breathed and rode and drew horses. But I loved them on my own, always looking for them in pastures, tv shows, horses races (on tv) and books. My favorite stories were always ones with horses, from C. W. Anderson’s Blaze series to Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books. And I loved when I made a new friend and discovered she loved horses too.

I drew them and drew them and drew them. And when I took oil painting lessons in the 5th grade at the Sherwood Rec Center and finally got to pick out the subject matter I wanted to paint, it was the Black Stallion from Farley’s book.

I lived and breathed horses and even though I didn’t have one, that didn’t keep me from imagining I did. I pretended to ride around on my imaginary horse and we had amazing adventures together. When I was in the 7th or 8th grade, my parents made my dream come true and they purchased a beautiful half Arabian/half Quarter Horse mare named Tyka for me. I loved her so much. I rode her, brushed her, played with her, and even got to enjoy the sweet little 3/4 Arab filly she had. 

Not long after that, as I was getting well into my teenage years, my interests began changing and I had less time for my sweet horses. My parents sold the little filly to a hippotherapy place in Sherwood (these were not as common back then) and sold Tyka to some folks north of town. I missed my horses, but I was developing other interests.

Life came along. I grew up. Went to college. Got married. Had children. These are all beautiful and wonderful things in the story that is my life. With all of this busyness going on, I completely forgot about horses and forgot about art.

When I started painting again (seriously), I had the privilege of spending some time with Laurie Justus Pace. I loved her artwork because she painted with a palette knife (which was so cool to me) AND she painted horses! I remember her telling me at one point (and actually on more than one occasion) that I needed to find my “thing” that I painted and was known for. For some reason I got it in my head that because she painted horses, that was her thing and couldn’t be my thing. She never said that to me. That was just a voice in my head telling me a lie.

So I have painted things I love: dogs and cats, hearts, lighthouses, landscapes, and doors. I truly love these things or I never would have painted them. But it always felt like something was missing — like it wasn’t really me.

And then I went to the Kentucky Horse Park July 24, 2019. And that changed everything.

It reawakened that love for horses I had so long ago. I guess I thought that horse-lover part of me was no longer there, but it absolutely is. And it’s exciting and hopeful. I wondered if I could even draw a horse anymore because I haven’t in probably at least 35 years, but I picked up my pencil and after a few tries, there it was….and maybe even better than before because I know a little more about composition, values, proportion, etc. 

It’s like it all came back. And I am incredibly excited about it.