Back to Work

Although summer is a time of relaxation for most, for me it's a time to get back to painting.   I was busy preparing for and taking finals in April and May and now I'm back in the studio getting ready for some summer shows.  It sometimes takes me a while to get back into the swing of things and I keep a quote posted in my studio for when I'm feeling unmotivated and uninspired. It certainly helps on those days when I'm staring at a blank canvas questioning my abilities as an artist.   Yesterday I just started painting with no expectation and actually got a good start on two pieces (below).  Happy summer!

The advice I like to give artists, or anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deception. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
— Chuck Close

He Talks Just Like I Do

My life lately has been filled with fundraisers.  As I wrote about in a past blog post, I am shy and introverted and these events are difficult for me.   So, though I would probably never say I look forward to these events, at times I do find myself relaxing and having fun or meeting someone unexpected and having an incredible conversation. This happened last week.  I arrived at the home of David and Andrea Matthiesen.  They were holding a fundraiser for Ann and it was one of three we had that week.  I walked in, feeling shy and nervous as usual but the first thing I noticed was the incredible art work in their lovely home.  I walked into the foyer and was immediately drawn to a beautiful piece.  It was then I met Andy who told me the piece was done by her 26 year old daughter Kate.   I remembered Ann telling me the Matthiesen's have a daughter who is an artist and was also born with a profound language-based learning disability and speaks and writes with difficulty.

Andy showed me around her home and I was just amazed at what I was seeing.  Kate is an impressive artist. I love her style, the colors she uses, and the emotion that comes through in each piece.  As Andy and I spoke, she told me how Kate's journey into art began and how far it's come in the last 5 years or so.  As an artist, I was impressed but I found myself even more interested and touched by her story because of my own nephew. Avyn is 4 years old and was born with a rare genetic disease called Rubinstein Taybi Syndrome.  No one knows what causes it.  It's been a difficult journey for my family.  He does not speak though he can clearly tell you (in his own way) what he wants and needs.  He is a happy, sweet, loving boy.  I love him more than I can clearly describe.  My sister and her husband are amazing parents and so very strong.  As his aunt, I only want him to be happy, taken care of and understood.  

Andy told me that Kate's art teacher once showed Kate a piece by artist Cy Twombly, upon seeing the Twombly piece, Kate remarked, “He talks just like I do.”  Sometimes the most difficult thing for people is communicating.  Imagine doing so with no speech.   Kate speaks through her art work.  I don't know what amazing talent Avyn has hidden inside of himself.  He loves music and somehow no matter what kind of music is playing, he is clapping his hands and moving his body to the beat.  All I know is that I will be there to support him, love him and help him in any way I can.  Andy said to me that she only wants people to understand that Kate is who she is; just like Avyn is who he is and you are who you are and I am who I am.  

We all need love and support and understanding, some more than others.  


I have linked to Kate's website below so you can learn more about her and her amazing work.

Leaving on a Jet Plane.

On Saturday, my parents, along with my brother, will board a plane to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit my baby sister, my brother-in-law and my beloved four year old nephew. It will be their first flight ever.  My parents both grew up very poor and although they were able to make a good, comfortable life for my brother, sister and me, we didn't go on many vacations that weren't within driving distance and we certainly never flew anywhere.  I didn't take my first flight until I was 22 years old.  

My dad turned 75 yesterday.  He is a wonderful, wonderful man.  I could not ask for a better father.  He is smart, kind, generous, very funny and I don't think he could love us kids anymore than he does. Although life for him growing up was tough, his father died when he was 13 and he had to quit school and work to help support the family, he has never let this dictate how he would live his life.  He is one of the most positive people I know, always finding a bright spot in the darkest corner.  

I called him yesterday to wish him a happy birthday and I asked him how he was feeling about his first flight. My mom is very nervous and keeps talking about just getting "knocked out" for the entire flight.  I'm not sure how she plans on accompishing this, as she does not drink or take any kinds of medications.  My dad on the other hand is excited.  Very excited.  He says he is "99.9%" excited and that he wants to be in the window seat the entire time.  He can't wait.  I could hear the excitement in his voice and it made me so happy. The man has led a simple life.  He loves him family, his truck and his home. He does not ask for much and his greatest happiness is knowing that we are happy and healthy.  

collage dad blog2.jpg

Part of my dad's excitement is getting to see his only grandson, Avyn Michael.  We all love my nephew more than words can describe, but he and my dad have a special bond.  They are best friends.  Look for one, and you'll find the other. Napping together, sitting outside on the porch, or just hanging out by the truck, if they are in the vicinitiy of each other, they will be together.  I know my dad can't wait to see him and no doubt my nephew will go running to his grandpa the minute he lays eyes on him.

Adding to the excitment factor, my sister and brother-in-law are due to have their second child on March 27th. It's a boy.  We are thrilled.  I am already in love with this tiny bundle that hasn't even been born yet. Baring any early arrivals, my parents should be in North Carolina for the birth.  My dad's first words when my sister told us she was pregant were, "it's going to be a lot of work!"  I know that now, he is just as excited (and less worried) as we are and can't wait to meet his second grandson.   

I love my family.  We've had our rough patches, like any other family, but I can honestly say our relationship has never been better or stronger. I will join them in North Carolina the first week of April and I can barely wait.  I love my nephew more than I thought was possible and I can't wait to meet my brand new baby nephew. I only hope big brother Avyn will agree to sharing his toys. Clearly, he barely has enough for himself.


Happy Valentine's Day

Two weeks ago, I became an Escapist.  I was one of five people chosen to be mentored by Houston artist John Palmer and his partner Ryan Lindsay. To say these two are incredible, giving human beings just isn't saying enough.  Although the program has just started and I've only attended one meeting, I already know this year is going to be incredible for my career and my life.  I've sold four paintings since I became an Escapist and although the financial aspect is great, it's more about the confidence this has given me. I feel like I am finally living my dream and doing the thing that feels closest to the person I was meant to be.  I can't wait to work with John, Ryan and my fellow Escapists. 

That being said, life is ever-changing.  We never really know what's around the corner and as much as we like to think we are in control, in many ways, we are not.  I think this is what makes life so incredibly amazing.  We make the mistake of not always appreciating all of the good things in our lives, we get lost in the day to day and sort of forget how great we really have it.  For me, when I look back to two years ago, I know that I was sort of lost.  Some major life changes had taken place and I wasn't exactly sure where I was going or how I was going to get there.  I knew there were things I wanted to do and I knew that the place I was in, was not where I wanted to stay, but I didn't know what steps to take to move forward.  

I don't know exactly when things started to turn around but I do know that there were people at every turn who pushed me, encouraged me, loved me and convinced my very stubborn self that I could do it.  I would not be where I am today without the support of my wonderful family and friends. Some days, that time two years ago seems like yesterday and other times, it seems like another lifetime entirely.  I am the happiest I've been in my life, I turn 38 in a few days (38!), I am in a wonderful, committed, amazing relationship with my partner Ann, I am growing my career as an artist, and life really seems open and full of endless possibilities.  I am happy.  

So on this Valentine's Day, I wish you the same, true happiness.





The Big Escapism Interview

Tomorrow is the big day.  At 1:30 p.m. I will log on to Skype and have my big interview for the Escapist Mentorship program.  The panelists are John Palmer, former Escapists and some of John's premier art collectors.

Four or five months ago when I decided to apply, I really had no expectations.  In my mind, hundreds were applying and I had a hard time believing I would stand out.  So I mailed my application on December 31st at 10:30am.  It was a Saturday, the post office was closing at noon and I had literally waited until the last minute to submit my artwork, essay and application.  I stood in line at the post office and said a silent prayer over my package, then I sort of put the whole thing out of my mind until I saw a few photos on Facebook.  I realized my application was there somewhere in Box A-G and freaked out a little.  And then last Friday at 2:14pm, I got the call. Actually, I missed the call because I was meeting with a client but when I checked the message an hour later, I got the best news I had had in some time.  It went a little something like this: "Hey Sonya, this is John Palmer....the jury for the Escapist Mentorship program did select your application for one of the finalists. Congratulations..."  I listened to it twice and then one more time.  I was at my studio by myself and I just could not believe it.  I almost started crying and then I called Ann and told her the good news.  I could hear myself saying the words, but was really just totally amazed and shocked.  

Being an artist can be hard, getting noticed, getting people to buy your work, finding places to show, etc., it can all be a bit overwhelming and there have been times when I've told myself that it just might not work out. This call last Friday reassured me that it's all worth it.  Even if I don't get chosen as one of the three Escapists for 2012, I know that I put myself out there and took a chance and that chance paid off.  I have a new found confidence in my work and myself as a person.  I resisted applying in the past out of fear but this year, my desire to be successful as an artist was bigger then my fear and look what happened!  

I encourage all of you out there to take a risk.  No matter what it is that you want, go for it.  I also encourage you all to send me good vibes tomorrow at 1:30!  Please and thank you.


Photo credit: John Palmer Art


Being Shy is No Fun.

I'm very shy.  I get nervous meeting new people, going to new places, trying new things. Really, having to do anything I've never done before sends me into a fit of anxiety.  I remember my first day of class at Glassell was nerve wracking.  I had resisted taking art classes for some time, and had my many reasons, but looking back, mostly it was just the idea of doing something new that made me extremely uncomfortable.  I remember my teacher teling us how we could do a critique each week, we would put up our work ON THE WALL and everyone would critique each other's work. This seemed, to me, like the worst thing ever.  And then came the whole having to do our assignment each week in class in front of other people. Gasp! I have always been very private and when it came to painting, I never shared the actual process with anyone.  I painted privately in the comfort of my own home.  I didn't let anyone see my work in process and even now, it's rare I let anyone see my work before it's totally finished. But times, they are a changing.  My life now is a bit different and getting out and meeting new people is becoming part of my normal life, it's hard, I don't like it, I get nervous, I sweat, I freak out and wonder how my hair looks, but I do it and somehow I live through it.  Sometimes I even have fun! This coming Saturday is Open Studios at my studio.  This means I put on my best face, try to look confident and comfortable and hopefully sell some art.  So, in honor of getting out there and fighting the shyness, I have attached a video of a painting I was commissioned to do.  Excuse the bad hair.  

As I mentioned above, this Saturday is Open Studios, so if you are free come on by.  It's from 2-5 p.m. and there will be wine and cheese.

Spring Street Studios, #222 (Top of the stairs)

1824 Spring Street, Houston 77007


New Year's Resolutions - One Day at a Time

Happy New Year!  

It's a good feeling, the new year.  A fresh start, new hope, promises for better things to come. It was a tough end of the year for my family, but thankfully, things are so much better now.  We have many reasons to be thankful.  I didn't even begin to think about New Year's resolutions until last night.  I regularly read a blog called Ben Does Life.  Check it out, it's fantastic, inspiring and funny.  Make sure you watch Ben's video I've linked below, it will get you off your butt like nothing else.  

His blog yesterday talked about setting small goals, "per month" resolutions, and I really liked that idea.  So...

Fitness is always at the top of the new year's list.  This year, it seems more important than ever to me. On top of an emergency heart surgery in the family, I found out I have high blood pressure.  There is no reason I should have it, my parents don't have it, I am not overweight and although my diet is not perfect, it's still relatively healthy.  I work out, I try and take care of myself, but still, my blood pressure is high.  High enough that my doctor put me on medication.  So, I will take my meds, but I also want to try and be as healthy as possible so that hopefully, I can go without taking the pills.  My friend Michelle stresses running and I don't like to run but I love the way it makes me feel AFTER I'm finished.  So I will run 27 miles by February 1st.  That's about 6 miles a week, or 3 miles twice a week, which for me is good.  I will plan to increase this number as the months go on. But slow and steady wins the race right?

So my January to February Resolutions start with:

1.Run 27 miles (plus other cardio, weight training and riding my sweet bike)

Resolutions 2 - 6 are art related.  I (on the very last day possible) applied for the John Palmer Escapist Mentor Program. John Palmer is a very successful local artist who has created a wonderful program to help artists promote their careers. Only three artists are chosen out of hundreds and although I hope that I am chosen, no matter what, I still have lots of work to do to really elevate my career as an artist, so the remaining resolutions are:

2.PAINT - at a minimium, 10 new paintings by February 1st.

3.Two blog posts this month (here is number 1!)

4.Two posts per week to Facebook (art or photography related)

5.Four tweets per week (art or photography related)

So there it is.  Resolutions, one day and month at a time.  I feel good about this, it feels manageable.  Good luck with your resolutions, and don't be too hard on yourself.  Old habits are hard to break and new ones are hard to form, the good ones anyway.  

 Happy 2012.  


Be Who You Were Meant to Be

I came across the following this week and I really liked it.  I'm not guilty of all 10 of these but there are a few that stick out for me.  Number 2 actually made me laugh, I have given up trying to make my family understand what I do or why.  Number 1 is the one I really need to work on, I think it's normal but I find myself looking at everyone's work while we paint in class and during open studios, I walk around and look in on everyone else. Sometimes for inspiration and sometimes to see how I compare.  So I'm working on it. 


Yesterday I spent 8 full hours in the studio.  Some days are frustrating and I really question myself, other days the creative juices are flowing and I lose all sense of time and end up covered in paint.  Yesterday had a little bit of both and it was wonderful. No matter what, ALL the time I know and feel that when I am painting, I am the me I was meant to be. 

Corn Poppy and Stretching

For class a few weeks ago, I had to paint a "Master" painting.  I learned two semesters ago in Drawing Fundamentals that I am HORRIBLE at drawing.  Perspective, shading, negative space, 6B pencils: none of these guys are my friends.  After a tour at the Museum of Fine Arts, I found just the painting I wanted to do.  Kees van Dongen's "Corn Poppy". It's a beautiful painting, but I was nervous.  So far my attempts at painting a bowl or vase, or plant have turned out just as bad as my drawings of these same items.  But, I started sketching out the painting and then I started painting the painting and it started to come together.  In the end, I was pretty proud of my work, so proud in fact, I started showing it off to everyone, which is pretty rare for me.  Change is good, I'm painting with oils rather than acrylic and though messier (I hate mess), the colors are vibrant and fluid and I am loving them.  I am still working out the whole still life thing, but I think I'm getting better and I feel myself stretching and stretching is good.  

Photos below of the REAL painting and then mine.  Excuse the poor quality in my photo.

The real thing. 


Winter Street & Spring Street Studios Annual Artist Exhibition


Please join me this weekend for the Annual Artist Exhibition taking place at both Winter Street and Spring Street Studios. There is a reception Saturday, October 1st from 5-9pm and Open Studios on Sunday, October 2nd from 1-5pm.


FREE admission and parking. Complimentary beverages and snacks.

My studio is located in the Spring Street Studios at 1824 Spring Street, second floor, studio 222!






Set Fire to the Rain

We were hanging out with our good friends Sunday night and I heard a song that I really liked.  I hit Shazam on my phone and found out it was Adele.  This morning, I remembered I had done this and I went to iTunes to download.  Within minutes I was listening to Set Fire to the Rain.  

Remember back in the day, you would hear a song on the radio and PRAY the DJ would tell you who was singing and then wait (for hours in my case) with your finger on the record button so you could record this track on a cassette tape!  I am pretty sure my cousin Jenny still has a pretty good collection of these.

I actually miss those days.

In art related news...class number three went well.  My still life almost looks like something resembling a pot.   Is it bad if someone says: "that's great! what is it?"