Chicken or Rooster – which one are you?

It’s ok to be chicken, or is it? Yes, I do have chickens, no I am not obsessed with them. But my blog today is about a workshop and a rooster. 

Hopefully, I’ve made you curious!

I admit to being chicken hearted when it comes to workshops, training sessions, classes and the like. In general, learning something new with people I don’t really know that well, can be a nerve wracking experience, but I am getting better at taking a deep breath and signing up. 

Still, it feels like jumping off a cliff. The closer the time gets for the workshop, the easier it is for me to lose my nerve; so thank heaven for “deposits”. A deposit just makes it a lot more difficult to get out of the workshop. I need nerves of steel and a deposit seems like a commitment to me; it keeps me from backing out. So I took a deep breath and signed up for a Lisa Whitener pallet knife class. What a joy it turned out to be! 

chicken or rooster

Workshops can be, but not always, pressure filled, inconvenient and uncomfortable because you and I know that everyone is making mental comparisons, or is it just me that does that? 

So WHY do I take them? Simply because I learn a lot. 

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”–Unknown I want to grow! Deep down I know everyone does, no one wants to stagnate. A pond with no circulation gets a lot of algae.  

We need the weeds to grow a beautiful garden. Gardens are messy and require work. Workshops are messy and they require work, but it moves my skill to a higher level, challenges me, allows me to see different approaches.

Fortunately for me, Lisa is all about fun, all about Florida and is the opposite of an “art instructor snob”. She was refreshingly helpful, down to earth and gave a lot of great demos. You can see some of her work below and here.

chicken or rooster

We had a great group of lovely ladies, some who finished several paintings, here they are holding up their favorite from the class:

chicken or rooster

I chose to do a rooster with a knife (that’s pallet knife), after all rooster are courageous aren’t they?chicken or rooster

Lisa and the other friendly folks last Saturday reaffirmed that it’s worth the risk, learning something new. We are advised in 2 Timothy 1:7 that the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. 


Oh, btw, here is my “pallet painted” rooster from the workshop:

chicken or rooster

Let me know what you think about workshops, training sessions, pallet painting and if you got a bit of encouragement learning something new lately.


Show me your fake books….

And I’ll show you my fake art…..ok, so I don’t have any fake books on my bookshelves, and I’m guessing most of you don’t either. But how many of us have “fake” art hanging on our walls? We’re not talking about art your kids made or that tasteful collage of family photos. I’m talking about that print you own – you know the one, it’s your favorite painting, it hangs in a museum and so you bought the print and it now hangs in your home. I’m not embarrassed to save I have several of those in my home – and they’ve been the inspiration for many a blog post. Here’s the rub though, while those prints are nice, the reason I like them is not because of any aesthetic beauty they contain in themselves. It’s because they remind me of an amazing work of art, a museum worthy work of art. They are not actual art, so in that sense, they are fake.

I’m also fortunate enough to own two pieces of original art in my home. One, my husband and I picked up years ago while on a wine-tasting vacation. show me your fake booksI don’t know the artist or even the painting’s name. I do know that when I look at it, I’m reminded of a host of memories we’ve made over trips to wineries together. When others see it, they know a little something about us. 

We also own a piece of Laura’s art. show me your fake booksIn this case, the piece reminds me of her and my friendship with her. When I look at it, I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity I have to work with her and the gift that she shares through her art. On a more artistic note, the painting makes me think – where is that church building? Is it Spain? Is it Italy? I like to imagine it in either place. I can let my imagination run a bit wild as I gaze at the scene. There is a depth to that painting that is absent in my prints.

In a previous post, I remarked (with my tongue firmly in cheek) that you should not own or display any artwork if you wanted to raise an art-less child. That point got me to thinking about what is displayed in my own home, and then later I read a post a friend of mine had shared on Facebook that further got me to thinking. Do we value owning original art?

I know, my immediate response it “art is too expensive, I could never afford any.” I will grant that that objection may be true for most of us, if we’re talking about a Monet or Picasso or a Warhol. But what about that little art shop downtown? You know the one you always walk past, maybe you’ve even stopped in a few times. Or that booth at the craft fair you went to – the one where you saw all those amazing paintings of you local scenery. Why don’t we buy them? We don’t buy fake books, we stock our shelves with the real thing.

Fake Art vs. Real Art

What is the value to filling our walls with the real thing over fake art? I could easily do another list post on that, as there are many reasons why I am becoming convinced that real art is worth it.For this post, I’ll just limit myself to a few.

First having something handmade in our home brings a depth, a warmth, a “homey”ness that mass manufactured goods and prints simply cannot. Original art is by definition handmade – someone had to actual put brush or pen or pencil to canvas or paper. Someone had to sculpt clay or metal or wood into that object. And in so doing, their art then brings that craft into your home and sets the mood, the tone for your space in a deeply personal way. 

Secondly, displaying original artwork in our homes affords us a unique opportunity of personal self-expression. Why that piece? Why that artist? There is always a reason. If we’re going to take the time to select a piece of art, and invest the money in purchasing it, that decision will not be random or haphazard. The final result will be an expression of who you are, the things you enjoy, the person you are.

Third, having original art in your home stimulates conversation, imagination and creativity. Visitors in your home will undoubtedly ask about the work, or you can ask their thoughts on it. You can spark some rather interesting discussions as people talk about what they like (or don’t like) about the art. Original art can push us to use our imaginations, to think outside of the normal mundaneness of our daily lives. Our brains need to be active. Having the creations of others around us inspires us to be creative in our own ways. When our space is less sterile, so are we.

What about you?

I want to encourage you to linger a bit longer the next time you wander past that art shop or that booth at the craft fair. Or stop by the gallery and store here on our website. Yes, original art can be expensive. But I do think it’s worth it. What do you think? What other reasons might you add to the list of the benefits of owning original art? Do you currently have any in your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.

The project pile or the trash heap?

Let’s face it, some days are better than other days; some projects roll out smoothly and others don’t.

But I’m one of those persistent types, I keep at it, which is good, because determination over talent can often carry the day. But other times, like with this painting “Pepper Harvest” I learned an equally important lesson.

project or trash
© Laura Gabel, “Pepper Harvest”, soft pastel, 14 x 16. Private collection

Have you ever felt like you wanted to take a hammer to it, burn it, stomp on it, just get rid of it? That’s the way I felt about this still life.

We are often tempted to scrap, dump, throw away a project that doesn’t seem to be going our way; it’s grinding and hard and no matter what you try, it doesn’t work. 

Artists are notorious for condemning their own work. Fortunately I’m a thrifty artist, and paint, pastel, canvas, and paper are costly, so I scrub a lot of projects away in the sink. 

This time however, I just put the pepper painting away. Yes, I removed it from my sight, I set it aside. As a matter of fact, I forgot all about it.

Then I found this old project again one day when looking for something else. I decided to just use it as a “practice piece” but as I started painting, to my surprise it seemed easy…hmmm. I wondered why? Was it:

  • Time? Perhaps I had strengthened my skills during the interim.
  • Distance? Perhaps I just needed a different perspective on it.
  • Desire? Perhaps I just really didn’t want to paint these peppers at that time.
  • Break time for the mind? Over-thinking or pushing too hard can often have a negative effect.
  • Purpose? As I practiced on it, I became more excited by it because I knew that I could make a special someone happy with it!

We can’t always take an extended breather, sometimes there are deadlines. But going on to do something different even for a day or two can sometimes make big a difference!

It’s really a life long skill to enjoy, acknowledge, and give thanks to God for those times when all seems to be working well and smoothly. It’s also good to remember that every situation is an opportunity to learn. There is wisdom in knowing when to rest and wisdom in knowing when to persist. Luckily scripture tells us we can seek wisdom (James 1:5) and God is happy to oblige!

Take a minute and tell me about a stalled project you’ve encountered and what you’ve learned from it. Or maybe you’re still stuck and we can help you get a fresh perspective.

9 Ways to Raise an Art-less Child

Recently, I was listening to a podcast with Anthony Esolen, the author of Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child. While I have not read the book (my husband has informed me that it is on our bookshelf), it has generated a plethora of reviews, critiques, responses and agreement that have certainly piqued my interest.

Then I got to thinking about what else suffers as we notice the collective shrinking of our imagination. Is a love of and appreciation for art next in line for extinction? 

So, in my own nod to Esolen, here is my non-exhaustive list on how to raise an art-less child:

  1. Schedule every moment for the children in your life, at home and at school. We would not want our children to have free, unstructured time. They might accidentally create something, or even worse, might find that they LIKE to create. That will not do. art-less child
  2. Ensure that your home, office, school space is a “mess free” zone. We     can’t have any residuals of the creative process lying around cluttering things up. Neat and tidy, tidy and neat. Remember, cleanliness is next to godliness.
  3. In fact, you really should just eliminate any type of crafting or art supplies altogether. If they have no tools, they can’t create make a mess. art-less child
  4. On the off chance that children gain access to art supplies and actually make something, do not display it. Instead, it’s probably best to point out the deficiencies of their work lest they be encouraged to continue along these lines.
  5. To be fair then, you really shouldn’t display any art in your home, school, or office. No sense in playing favorites – no child’s art, no art from anyone. 
  6. There’s no need to stop just at the home, school, or office. It’s best not to take your children to any museums. Those places are really too stuffy, too quiet, and not really appropriate for children. Besides, since you’ve eliminated free time, there’s no opportunity to go to museums anyway. art-less child
  7. It’s probably best then to not encourage your children to read very much.  They might stumble on dangerous works such as this book or this child
  8. Instead of exposing them to good books, be sure then to substitute technology and banal programming. Just to be safe, avoid any shows or games where they could be creative; you want mind-numbing, not mind-enriching, so take no chances. 
  9. Do not expose them to or point out ANY beauty in nature. Goodness, if you’ve managed to keep them away from human-created beauty, don’t slip and let them appreciate God-created beauty. art-less child 

If you are able to adhere to these nine guidelines, you should be successful at killing any love for or joy in art and beauty in your own child and those of others you love. 🙂

art-less child

Just in case one of our wonderful readers has not picked up the tongue-in-cheek nature of this post and is scrambling to send my poor children a box of art goodies (don’t let me stop you…), the pictures in this post are my own children, the books listed in #7 are well-worn due to being read so many times in our home, we frequently visit natural parks and museums, I cannot store all their art supplies, and we have numerous works of art hanging in our home (Laura’s art, famous art, and my children’s art).