How to stop fooling yourself as an artist and sell some art.

depressed woman

As an artist, you put a ton of effort into your work. If you’re a painter, you might be in a vacuum (our cozy little vacuum because we like it there). Eventually, though, we have to emerge into daylight and put our art out there. Is your art selling or not? 

I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years prior to being an artist. I and my husband ran a company that made it through the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression. Made it through and thrived. On top of that, I’ve consumed a huge amount of data, my peeps. Eventually, the best ideas rise to the top. Here are a couple…

oil painting of a hand with a black background
‘Hand Me a Brick’

I’ve been working on my project Extraordinary People – Construction for several weeks now  (see my first oil painting above). I was talking about it with my husband, and JP says, ‘But who’s going to buy your art?’ Frankly, it pissed me off. Wasn’t he listening? Didn’t he get it?

I was doing my job, and he had to toss in something as practical as ‘Who’s buying this?’

I have hopes. I hope people will ‘get it’. I hope it will resonate, but do I KNOW? No.

I had planned on creating a group of work 10-15 pieces, perhaps, and then putting it out there for the world to see. (Ok, the world after Instagram). LOL.

Thing is, do I want to dedicate the next several months to this 1 project only to find that it DOESN’T hit people between the eyeballs?

That’s what art has to do, after all. Art must hit us on the gut level, or it doesn’t sell. It might be abstract art where the form and color are amazing, so someone grabs it. It might be realism in oils which is where I’m at. Whatever it is – it must hit us emotionally.

Visual arts are like music.

rock musician playing electric guitar
Photo by Hector Bermudez on Unsplash

We like it because we have an emotional reaction to it. It brings back memories. It makes us think of certain people or times in our lives. It makes us excited because it’s just so ‘HUGE and PINK’. It makes us feel secure or powerful or attractive.

When I listen to ‘Sandman’ by Metallica, it’s like that. The guitar riff plugs in, and I can feel it in my chest, *pounding*.

So, if I’m going to keep working on this project, and I don’t want to spend the next 6 months working on it only to find that it doesn’t even make a ripple, what do I do?

I have to put it out there now.


I have to get the art that I’ve already done out there as soon as humanely possible, to see what people think. To see if it sells.

If it doesn’t, I will have saved myself a TON of time and effort, and I can take that time and put it to a different project. Because I’ve got a lot of things that I’m passionate about.

This concept is not mine. Bullets then cannonballs is from Jim Collins a highly respected business author who wrote the book Good to Great.

The idea is that if we have a limited amount of gunpowder (life, effort, energy, or money), and there’s a ship coming (success, perhaps?), we could load all of our gunpowder into the cannon and give it a go — only to probably miss. Gunpowder gone.


We could load up a rifle with a bullet. Sight it in, and shoot. Adjust. Shoot again. Adjust. Shoot again, until finally we hear ‘Ping!’ as we hit the mark. THEN, we can load the cannonball.

I was talking to an artist the other day who let an art show dictate her entire summer. She worked her butt off! She was told the show would be ‘amazing’ that ‘thousands of people would be there to buy her art’. Then they told her what they wanted her to paint.

When she got to the show, it was a flop. Hundreds of people, maybe. She barely sold anything.

depressed woman
Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

It wasn’t just that she spent the entire summer painting what other people told her to paint. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t paid for any of her efforts. It was also that she could have spent that time on something that DID pay. She’s not rich. She’s got everyday worries like the rest of us, and probably fantastic ideas, too, but she let someone else take the reins for a bit, and now … now she’s got a lot of art that didn’t sell.

Some of this comes with experience. I get it. I’m not going to know everything ahead of time. I’m not going to be ‘mistake free’. (but, that’s why we fire bullets, first, right?)


Here’s the other side — don’t let fear dictate it for you. She is out there working it!

We have to embrace the mistakes.


If I’m too afraid to make mistakes, I’ll never take a chance on myself.

If I can’t make a mess, then I won’t go anywhere.

If I’m firing bullets, though, I can work on something for a month or so, then FIRE THAT BULLET! Put it out there and see if you’re close to your target. Find some way to get feedback that’s more than just your Uncle Joe and best friend Sue.

Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. It’s about working your butt off. It’s about working harder, lasting longer, and getting more work done than the next guy. It’s not about sticking our heads in the sand or telling ourselves that we’re artists, not business people. If it’s not a business, is it a hobby?

I think she learned a valuable lesson from this. I learned, too. Wow, it’s cool to have a big company get excited about your art. It’s cool to have others join the parade with you. BUT – we must keep hold of the reins. We have to know if the idea is viable or not.

What’s in it for them? Are they pumping you up for their own benefit because they want to make a sale or have a bigger show? Are they just excited, so you’re both jumping up and down? In the end, YOU are the business person. YOU are the artist. Wouldn’t you rather fall down on your own efforts than to fall down because someone else was throwing ideas around?

Read a ton. Listen to other business owners. Learn as much as you can.

But at the end of the day, it’s YOUR deal.

Fire some bullets first, so you can adjust your aim.

Be brave! Go out there and make a mess. Not screwing up? You’re not trying hard enough. It’s that simple.

If you’re a successful artist, I would love to know how you found your market. What was the ‘Aha’ moment when you realized your niche? Comment here or jump on my Contact Me page to drop a note to my desk.



…It’s Wednesday.

Heidi Schreiner looking nervous and biting her fingernails

I feel like I’m on an episode of Days of Our Lives. ‘Will the photographs be approved, so Heidi can paint?’ ‘What will she do next?’ *DUN dun dun!* Stay tuned for the next episode of Ravenheart Studio!!


Ok, so the drama is not ALL that, but I am SO stoked! Today I got the YES from above!! (not from God, but the Powers That Be at the Major Construction Company).

*Woo Hoo!!*

I’m doing the Macarena right now in my office chair.

All I need now is for the gents IN the photos to give me the go ahead to paint them.

YES, I have plans for other paintings, BUT – you should SEE the pictures! They are SO awesome.

(Apparently when I’m excited I TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!)

What was captured in those photos was the camaraderie at a job site. You see what people can accomplish if they work together. The connection. It’s unique to those photos (for now), and they’ve inspired another part of my current project, ‘Extraordinary People – Construction’.

Yesterday, I finished my first painting called ‘Hand me a brick.’ Oh, my grits and gravy, it’s awesome. Yes, it took me a TON of time, but it is so worth it. It shows my husband’s hand.

oil painting of a hand with a black background
‘Hand Me a Brick’


My husband JP has worked all his life in construction, and for many years he built some of the most beautiful brick paver patios the Chippewa Valley has ever seen. Consequently, he ‘palms bricks’ meaning that he picks up those bad boys with one hand.

Do not try this at home!

Several years ago, we were building our own brick patio, so I was helping. I thought to myself, ‘Self, it would probably be very good for your hands to have your strength built up with these pavers.’

I picked up a brick with one hand. Wow, heavy. Picked up another. After a little while, I realized that I’d best pick up the rest with 2 hands like normal people. Now, total, I had picked up less than 10 bricks. Less than 10, mind you, because I could feel how heavy they were. Even the little ones that we call ‘Twinkies’ are over 6# a piece.

The next day, I was in agony. My hand was cramping, and I wondered if I’d actually torn something without knowing it.

*I have made a horrible mistake!*

No, I will never have muscle like that in my hands. Never again will I try to palm bricks, and I don’t recommend it to anyone else, either. Yikes! I got through that day, but it taught me a lesson. Stick to painting!

My major hurdle is done – I have a verbal ‘go ahead’ for the pics for the next stage of my paintings.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Ravenheart Studio!!





Extraordinary People, Construction

For those of you lovely peeps following my Instagram, you know that I boldly go where I have never gone before! INTO construction offices! Actually, I’ve been to tons of construction offices, BUT not as an artist.


My current art series is about the everyday extraordinary people we have in construction. Here’s the situation:

Sometimes after watching too much TV (NEVAH!) I get the inkling that perhaps the celebs are just SO special — MORE special. Ditto politicians, etc. Not true! Every one of us has amazingness. We all need a reminder of that.

We need to remember that everyone has their story, their heartbreak, their struggles, their uniqueness, their way of blessing others. Every person has extraordinary value. We need to remember that — especially in the day to day.

SO, I’ve decided that because I and my husband have both been involved in the construction industry for years and years that I would start there – showing the amazing everyday people in construction. (I feel like Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs & Project Jump Start— without the dirty part.) In the following video (at 5:50, Mike Rowe says, ‘You’ve got to make work cool again.’ Amen!)

Plus, isn’t it fascinating?

It’s jaw-dropping — watching people weld or run a crane or make sense of the complex HVAC or electrical systems. It’s why little kids always want to sit in the backhoe. It’s why I seem to be collecting pictures of welders.



I tricked myself into doing it. I already had some great paintings planned with the help of my husband. (first one is getting ready for varnish!) AND ALSO – Eau Claire has some amazing construction projects going on right now. Confluence Project, the new tennis courts at Carson Park, the new Fleet Farm (& more).

I was thinking to myself, ‘Self, if you had NO fear, what would you do?’ Cue dreaming about waltzing right into a major project and asking them if I could take pictures.

Jiminy Crickets, Batman!

Yes, I did it. Of course, I had to trick myself. I started out thinking that, ‘Wow – the sun is out and it would make for some great shots of a construction site.’

*nail biting*

‘Hmm. Let’s just go to my dream construction site and … see what they’re doing.’

I drove to the site telling myself all the way that I would just ‘see what they’re doing’. (Can you hear my mantra?)

When I got there, they were locking up for the day. Before I knew it, I was scrambling out of my car and boldly strolling up to the gents who were locking up and ‘Hey! I’m just in time!’ boldly asking them where I go to talk to the person in charge.

*tiny fearful person has now been gagged*

Long story short, I asked a Major Guy in a Major Construction Company if I could take pics, and he said ‘yes’!

I got the tour. Took a bazillion photos.

I realized that my cell camera SUCKS!! (Bah, I need a good camera, but that is another day.)

Went back because they offered to let me look at their photos to use.

*happy dance*

The last time I stopped (pre-Thanksgiving holiday) I dropped off the Model Release forms (aaargh! WHY?!!) that would let me paint the people in the pictures and the Copyright Release form (!@*#&* legal stuff!)  that would allow me to paint and sell a painting from their photos.

Why the drama? Well, because I have NO idea how they will respond. They could be just as cool and realize that at the very least they will be getting awesome marketing and attention. OR, their little Fear Monger could get in there and say something like, ‘Hey, you don’t know this crazy person. She could be ba-a-a-a-a-a-ad.’

Either way, I will not hold it against them. Fear is a tricky thing. So are legal bits. They’ve been awesomely cool and gracious and patient. That’s why I gave them peanut butter cookies (NOT because I’m buttering up hard-working folks to get what I want). 😉 Though a little butter never hurt.

AND, I am determined to congratulate myself for ASKING. Because pushing back your own personal Fear Monger is important. It’s either that or they take over your world.

I find out this Wednesday if they will say ‘yes’ to ART and ‘No!’ to Fear.

And so I wait.


Veteran’s Day — Emotional Art

My husband is a veteran. He still deals with his memories – good and bad – of his time in service. If you have served or know of someone who served, you know what I mean.

It becomes a seal on who you are.

My husband JP is on the armored personnel carrier (APC) behind the gun.

I, personally, have no idea of the depth of horror that our service members may go through during their time of duty. I don’t understand what it’s like to endure that kind of shock – I just know that it IS a shock and one that reverberates for a lifetime.

There are no words.

In this lifetime, there are sometimes no words for our pain or our sense of camaraderie or honor. My uncle served in Vietnam, and it changed him. I never heard him talk about it, and my cousins said that he rarely did. He received a Purple Heart.

As artists, learning how to communicate the emotions that we have is critical. Art is emotional. Art can also ease pain from some of what we endure in life. I am not an Art Therapist, but one of the things that I love about art is the emotional connection that we can have when something reaches out to us.

What if you want to look into professional art therapy?

Amy Hahn, an Art Therapist in Eau Claire, WI said “It’s a better “bang for your buck” than just talking about therapy because art creation activates the entire brain, like fireworks going off in your head.” (See full article at Chippewa Valley

Whether you are a veteran or not, each of us has moments and memories. Each of us has pain and happiness and things that fascinate us. Last night my husband was watching a TV show where they showed a group of military helicopters approaching through the sky – and it triggered some good memories for him. Visceral.

Collect art that moves you like that. Paint art that moves you like that. Delve into your own experience…and perhaps find a bit of healing or rejoicing.

My husband with his 2 grandmas.

If you are a veteran, thank you for your service. Your pain cannot be wiped away. The sense of unity cannot be translated completely. Sometimes, though, a tiny piece of it can be shared, and in the sharing something new can grow.

Fearless Art — Lying in the Sun


Yesterday, I took my dog to the vet. He’s got some old age problems happening that he’s never dealt with before. He gets sick to his stomach now if he gets stressed or eats greasy food. (Sheesh, sounds a little like me.) 


While I was waiting — feeling stressed because my dog was sick, I looked outside and saw a dog and a person on the grass. The dog was lying down and the person was stroking his head. The dog wasn’t running and jumping or doing much of anything.

I realized at once that this dog was dying on the grass in the sunshine. He, for whatever reason, was being euthanized right there.

I am not a crying person, but my eyes welled up. I thought about how before too long, my own dog will be lying in the sunshine. I’m not ready. My dog is a part of our family and has been for 13 years. He’s a sweet-natured, fuzzy guy who is always ready to go along — no matter where you are going. His teddy bear face looks into mine every day. He trusts me.

I thought, for one weird moment, that I could give my dog to someone else, so I wouldn’t have to go through seeing him die. But I wouldn’t do that. It would break his heart — and mine. Despite my fear of watching him age and die, I have to be stronger than that. Bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway.

Art, fearless art, is about putting yourself out there — vulnerable. Every art piece that I’ve done has my own contribution in it. Your art is a part of you. If you collect art, it’s because something in that piece resonated with you.

Can you create art without being gutzy and fearless? Yes, I think you can, but you won’t find that special awesomeness that is truly you — and you will know it.

Don’t wait. Don’t let your fear of the unknown, of the criticism or the risk — don’t let it stop you from trying. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Because one day, it will be.

God says ‘perfect love casts out all fear’. I used to think that perfect love had to come from me, but it doesn’t. It can’t. It’s God. He helps me each day to vanquish fear.

I wouldn’t trade this brand of fearlessness just so I can avoid the pain of others not understanding my art. As much as I can, I am moving forward as brave as I can be today. Putting myself and my art out there.

When my time comes, I want to know that I did my best. I’m trying to live a life that means something. Cherishing relationships, forgetting fear.

I’ve put off publishing this post for 2 weeks. It’s tough to put this out there. It’s vital for each of us to measure the days, though. Make each one count.

Will I ALWAYS push past the fear? No. Are you kidding me? LOL. BUT — I am striving each day to be more fearless than the day before.

Street Art & Mural Artists — Go Big or Go Home

Street artists and mural artists express creativity and many times opinion. (Check Banksy who hit the world stage in a big way.)

I’m inspired by these artists’ ability to capture in one image what many of us are feeling and thinking. Art should  challenge us … and not in a ‘hey, I can paint naked people’ kind of way.

*errr plz no*

Art can sometimes speak in a flash about topics like poverty, music, collaboration, beauty and tons more.


Thank you for slamming it out there.

Perhaps it’s the general gutsiness of painting in large strokes that means you have to throw everything out there. Those of us struggling with our inner voice and straining against ‘do I paint this or that’ may have a hard time putting not only our art, but out opinions out there for the world to see.

If you put it all out there, what would you say?

But wait! There’s more!

Artisan Forge is hosting the Uptown Art Jam October 21st, 2017 in Eau Claire, WI, bringing some kickin’ mural artists to live demo their work.

You heard me.

Among the artists will be Few and Far Women. (click the link to see some gorgeous art)

So, what do you do with all of this awesomeness? Be inspired, yes, but do something with it! Explore new colors, express new thoughts,…

grab a can of spray paint.




Artist David Knowlton! SQUEE!

I am a FANGIRL of David Knowlton!

So, I and my man were downtown Eau Claire. JP says, ‘Let’s take a walk over here,’ so we walk down a side road off Barstow and find the art gallery 200 Main. Yay! Love art. We walk in.

BAM! Batman!


The paintings on the wall I saw over a year ago at the Eau Claire Public Library. I was a HUGE fan then. Here they are AGAIN! 

I’m gaga over these babies, so I just stand there for a couple of minutes.

David Knowlton can make a barn look like a cathedral. His forms take on a beauty disconnected from the utilitarian use. I never thought I would be so enthralled with barns.

Part of it is the graphic quality with his intuitive use of shadows. He also intensifies the colors, adding texture and shimmering rainbows of halo effect to show off the shapes. (You can’t see the halo effect in these photos because it’s a small shimmer of color band around the forms. Check David Knowlton’s website for a better look.)

Look below at how he pushes the boundary by shoving the barn off to the right — much farther than the ‘art rules’ would allow. It reminds me of when you stand on the edge of  a field and see long rows of beans or corn — long horizons. LOVE!


Meanwhile, I overhear a couple of guys talking behind me and something occurs to me, so I turn around and say…

‘Are YOU the artist?’

‘Yes.’ (I am meeting David Knowlton!!)

Up until this point, I was a reasonable adult. 


(I think I said, OMG several times. More gushing.)

‘I love your work! I saw it at the EC Public Library!’

‘Um, wasn’t that like a year ago?’

‘Yes.’ I think this is when he realized that I’m a real fan and not *just* a crazy person.

Then I took a pic with my new BFF. *Squee!*


Best part of my day. My husband is now known as the Artist Whisperer. LOL.

To top it off, David and I went to coffee a couple of weeks later. I grilled him on his expertise and experience and what was going on. The fact that he is just a great guy, too, makes it all wonderful. 

David Knowlton’s advice to artists — do a LOT of art. It’s the best way to grow. (I am paraphrasing, but he said that was by  far the best thing he got during his college years.)


David starts his barns with photographs. Then, he does several small sketches — think 3″ x 4″ size. When he’s happy with the general layout, he has it blown up to full size at a copy shop. *shortcuts!*

He takes the copy of his sketch home and transfers it to canvas with carbon paper. Yes, you can still get this at OfficeMax. He sprays it with a fixative. When that’s dry, he paints it with oils.

I have tried his technique of sketching small first, and it works great. You develop your composition faster. It’s honed because you cannot think of tiny details when your sketch is so small.

When you truck over to David Knowlton’s website, check out ‘White Gothic’ and ‘Buffalo County’. They’re 2 of my faves.

Every artist has their own viewpoint. Their own way of looking at things. David Knowlton transforms barns into cathedrals.







Artist Patricia Hawkenson — Woot!

So, as any well-connected artist will do, I was attending an art show last week. Before the evening was over, I had a close-up encounter with Patricia Hawkenson. Woot!

Drove down to Artisan Forge, and the big overhead doors were wide open to the work areas. Bright yellow lights cascaded down onto tables of items and folks milling around.

There was a food truck, so I raced inside to avoid temptation.

I took my time, savoring the art as I looked around to see what would interest me. Painters, sculptors, — they even had someone playing guitar. I like seeing what others are creating, but after a bit, I wanted to see what was going on in their new addition, so I took a stroll.

Around the corner and up the stairs…only to find some friends of mine from Chippewa Falls!

Lounging about on ultra-hip furniture and ‘chocolate drunk’, …

Amy Burke Lepper from One of a Kind Design and Marnie Keilholz from House Blend were there with Roy Rico of Rico Quality Homes.

My peeps!

OF COURSE, I had to sit and chat. One of a Kind and House Blend are opening a design studio at Artisan Forge. Shazam, Batman! Any folks who find it a trial to drive to Chippewa (it’s not far, really) can make an appointment to find them in Eau Claire.

SO, we’re chatting it up, people are strolling in and out looking at their studio and clutching at chocolate from the large dish on the table, when I look up to see someone I recognize from about 12 years ago…

Long story short, I worked with this man who is married to one of the local artists, Patricia Hawkenson.

How cool is that?!

I said adieu to my design friends, and went to check out Patricia’s work.


The photo is a little blurry, but just look at her work! This was done with fine line markers and watercolor. There is just something about this piece that I love. The colors are beautiful.

It has a storybook feel.

Right down to how the details are thought out, but not overworked — just playful. Nicely done!

So you should know that Patricia is making a splash in town with her coloring book Color Eau Claire. I asked her about it and even had a sneak peak at the event. She’s done a great job showcasing our city, so if you see her book, take a look.

One more shot of another of Patricia Hawkenson’s artwork…


Please excuse my bad photography and…

appreciate her art.

I don’t know what this one is called, but I find it enchanting. LOVE the little clock on there as well as the fairy tale feel. I just noticed there seems to be a large raven in this one, too…


I’m on the left, Patricia is on the right. Burn this image into your brain, so you can do some artist spotting later on. 😉

Patricia Hawkenson is an artist that I (and the rest of the Chippewa Valley) will see more and more of over the next few years — I just know it.

They were shutting down the event before I left. Basically, they had to kick my butt out of there. So, YES, I had a good time. What’s not to love?

If you see Patricia Hawkenson (or any of my other artsy peeps), say ‘hi’.


Artistic Genius — Myths and Legends

Myth #1: Artists are born, not made.

(not true, I say!)

Since when does this apply to anything? Does a carpenter just ‘know’ how to measure, use tools, and build houses?

Myth #2: The Great Artists went to extremes.

Da Vinci painted 16 hours a day and sweated great drops of blood to be the very best of his generation.


It does take a lot of practice to be able to draw what you see, but you don’t have to give up your entire life to be great. Just keep going. Draw every day at every opportunity. Make a mess. Break stuff. (you realize I’m talking to myself, too?)

Someone has said that when you start drawing, your taste is a  lot higher than your ability. That’s true. You just have to stick with it long enough for your ability to catch up a bit.

Ok, another myth…

Myth #3: Your paintings must spring fully-formed from your brain to the canvas.

…or you’re not a ‘real’ artist. Wrong, baby!

I and many others struggle with the burning desire to create something amazing artistically, but these myths will hold you back. Don’t believe them!

For years I thought I wasn’t a ‘real’ artist because I sometimes need to look at things to do a great drawing of them. Seriously? And how many of us could sketch a portrait without anything to look at? Will it even look like the person when you’re done? (no)

‘Real’ artists (even Italian Renaissance artists) used tools and techniques to produce amazing art. Things like…

Camera Obscura

Have you watched the movie Tim’s Vermeer?

The New York Times review by Mahnola Dargis makes Tim out to be a scoffer — one who doesn’t understand that there’s a whole lot more to art than putting paint on a canvas.  (YES! There is a lot more to art than the mechanics of it) There’s another whole aspect to this, though…

Using tools to create art is GOOD! OK!, and even AWESOME!

Every artist at some point has tried to tell herself that if you used ‘X’, you’re not a real artist. Bunkums! and Bologna!

To me, Tim’s Vermeer tells me quite plainly that if I wanted to use a tool to create art, DO IT! Whether it’s a camera obscura, a lightbox, or a drafting board — they are just tools.

Yes, New York Times — there is a lot more to art than the tools you use. Subject, composition, framing, unity, style…. a lot more.

I spoke with a friend the other week who produced a beautiful piece on her wall. She took a photograph of her husband, cropped it, printed it in black and white and selectively colored sections of it with colored pencils.

She was concerned that this wasn’t ‘real art’. She had disqualified herself!

This isn’t right! She decided everything every step of the way. The composition, style, materials, colors — all of it.

If you’re an artist, let this be your encouragement for the day…don’t hold yourself back. If you love to create beautiful things (or even strange and wonderful things), just do it. Make a mess. Don’t hold back.

Pursue your passion.

Visiting Bilhenry Walker, the Sculptor

When you find someone that is passionate about their art, it shows. This past summer, I took a stroll through an event at Artisan Forge and had a conversation with Bilhenry Walker. His sculpture was on display along with some furniture.


You’re right — that sculpture that I am oh, so casually leaning on is his sculpture. Oops. Too casual.

Actually, I don’t know  if Bilhenry would object too much. The sculpture is on a personal scale, and it’s metal — rugged. Meant to be seen up close and personal.

For all it’s pointy bits, I could see this sculpture in a garden providing counterpoint to the flowers and shrubs.  It would work wherever you have a personal scale — so in a downtown with sidewalks all around, a small corporate entry, or even a large residential indoor space. What a fun find!

Thank you, Bilhenry Walker!