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Side Gigs, We Don’t All Work For Amazon

Bartender, Tutor, Coffee Shop, Theater Usher, Gallery Work, Substitute Teaching, Mary Kay,….are all jobs I have thought about doing or done as a side gig. And when I’m feeling confident, I find my Artist Self!

Why? I carry that guilty messaging. I should not be retired this young….. we are supposed to work hard. You are not supposed to enjoy life. I carry that nervous messaging…. But my work isn’t as good as …. fill in the name of any other artist I love. But you can’t make a living at being an artist. But if I was really successful I’d have as much stuff and money as other people and I’d fly around the world vacationing and have no worries in life.

On the contrary….in retirement, I love the quiet moment. I love getting so present I notice the timid little coyote hiding down in the blackberry bushes scrounging for some snacks. I love meeting all of the new people along the way. And I love exploring coffee shops and art galleries. I love taking on an attitude of abundance, celebrating all of the artists around me as well as myself. I love throwing out the word should and finally learning to let go of comparing myself to others. I love the levels of self acceptance that I layer on myself with each painting.

It turns out that side gigs are kind of fun too. I enjoy the puzzle of figuring out each new city I travel to… how to get around. Working for the theater, I got good at finding the best parking. I find it fun disovering fantastic restaurants to go back to, understanding the difference between the Max, the Street Cars, the Tri Met, and which roads I can drive on, and when to stay clear of the tracks here in Portland, how to short cut through town and dart across the river and home without hopping on a freeway. Picking up a side gig forces me to do a little more of that kind of exploration and get to know an area a little more intimately.

In working for the theater I also learned how humbling it can be to experience the world from different points of view. There is something to taking on service jobs where you are low on the totem pole and you are all wearing the same polyester uniform, with the goal of making people happy, and making sure they have a wonderful magical experience. It made me notice all of the invisible people I see everyday, who stretch pennies to feed their families while making my life something special. There is no “executive” in their title, they don’t make six figures and drive a BMW. They likely take public transport and don’t have the luxury of avoiding the homeless and the mentally ill who tend to stay warm on public transit. And they don’t complain about their lot in life. Working here, I’m surrounded by happy people.

I also love the fredom of putting in some time with an arts organization, around other arts lovers but knowing if I get too freaked out by wherever we are in the cycle of mask/no mask mandates, I have the option to go back to very simple, very safe living in my trailer and outdoor spaces.

When bartending I’m not going to lie, I loved having a tip job, because I’m good at getting tips. I loved being there for people. Bar folk come and want to share their stories, connect, be heard, be seen. I thought I went there to mix drinks and realized I was really handing out some love and a listening ear. Plus others were just plain fun, laughing, joking, getting me out from behind the bar to do kareokee with them. And I realized that mixing drinks is quite the art form in itself. Yes… always an artist in everything I do.

With Mary Kay I learned a ton about business and marketing and I also learned what not to do. Knowing I could jump back in and substitute, give back, help out the Portland teachers on the one hand, felt good, and on the other hand when I really thought about it, it validated my journey that has taken me away from that. There is so much that needs to change in the way we treat our education professionals. It would take more than a blog to get into all of that. Helping out at the camp store made me appreciate that I had had the opportunity in my union job to find ways to continue standing up for the smaller voices in our world.

Taking on a variety of jobs has given me a sense of security, and reassurance. I knew I had that thing to fall back on just in case nobody liked my art. It also taught me to open my eyes and be inspired by others around me, really see people and their beauty and save it for future paintings. It taught me to let go and do a leap of faith and that my efforts in my art will pay off. Every action payoffs somewhere down the road. We can’t always see it in the moment. It’s like a well planned trip, or a journey downa a quiet river in the woods…. things never go the way we plan, but they end up just they way they were supposed to and it is better than anything in our wildest imaginations.

Living tiny isn’t just about the space and the amount of things I have. It’s about the space I let my ego take up, the amount of importance I put on myself allowing others to be less important and become invisible. It’s about trusting in something bigger than self, something that tells us to live with the rule of abundance. There is enough of everything for everyone on this planet. Nobody needs to go without. As soon as I think I might not make it as an artist, I am thinking from a place that forgets abundance exists. If everyone went tiny, there’d be a lot of room and resources for everyone, and maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t end up fighting about things anymore.

While writing this blog, my father passed. In rereading what I wrote, a lot of the lessons are lessons I alswo learned from the way he lived his life. It feels a bit disingenus when writing a blog if I didn’t mention major life events like his passing, but it’s still hard to even let myself think about it. So I’ll just say that for now. Maybe one day I’ll write a blog about him and how he fits into this journey I’m on. If you hop on over to my portfolio page, you will see I have dedicated my paintings this year to processing the grief I am going through. I love you daddy and miss you terribly!

Thank you again for following my sporatic, inconsistant ramblings and writings. I appreciate you more than you know. Feel free to share this with your friends and check out my art too!

Savings & Sanity My Mobile RV Guy

The Sandy River meets the Columbia River not far from here. We explored imagining Lewis and Clark exploring this very spot back in the day.

This entry is not jazzy or pretty and I’m not going to post maintenance pictures of falling cupboards and a leaky water inlet. Instead I’ll tell you how using a mobile rv guy saved me thousands and hiking and creating art kept me sane through some of the stresses of Fulltime RV Life. I’ll share photos of my gorgeous views that I have enjoyed since sitting still for the last several months problem solving and some of my artwork I have had the good fortune to create and sell while sitting still. So in other words…. you may enjoy the photos and captions more than the actual blog. Just a heads up. ūüėČ

Whimsical Dreamer, Love Letters In Paint series, 24 x 24 Acrylic on Canvas

The combination of the fixes my trailer needed and the dishonesty of the two major dealerships I had dealt with (Los Angeles and Portland Airstream) left me feeling quite paralyzed as everything happened one right after the other and I am not a techie mechanical type person. When I had a house, I could do the basics and I’ve learned a few of the basics on my Airstream over time. Like a house there are lots of things that break down, and systems to understand. Unlike a house it is all different than a house so it’s like learning a new language. You know how they say a little knowledge is dangerous. I felt like there was so much I could mess up. I was feeling a bit defeated and didn’t want to take my trailer over the mountains to a better shop in the winter when I would have to deal with chains and ice. I’ll tell you a little about the doom and gloom that hung over me, but if you want to skip to the last paragraphs which are much more cheery… there I will share what I learned… now that I finally found resolution.

Bridal Veil along the Columbia River Gorge is a lovely day hike. There is a bit of a climb so I took it slow.

The Ohio Airstream guy, who will remain nameless, was great and really tried the best he could to help me over the phone but couldn’t. I ressigned myself to down and basic “camping” in my trailer through the winter as one of my issues was a leak and I didn’t want to run water through it and have the leak area freeze and get worse. In other words, no running water, everything was hauling in jugs. Some people I discovered do that anyway to avoid freeze issues. It was not too bad since there were park showers. I found some answers in all of the usual online places but everything seemed to challenging. I did not feel sure that I could do them. Even getting to my water pump (one of the things that wasn’t working) was a challenge as Airstream basically told me I wouldn’t be able to reach it the way I needed to because of the year it was built and how it was placed under my closet. I figured I would tear the inside of my closet out and figure out how to rebuild it when warmer weather came. Airstream thought they would have to take the black tank down to figure out where the leak was unless we could figure out if it was the water inlet (where the hose meets the trailer on the outside.) But the way they told me to check was looking for water leaks inside back in and behind the closet that was covering everything. That was kind of like a house. In a house you get a leak, then you follow the water marks, typically in the attic to where it actually comes into the roof. I also found a You Tube video on what kind of water inlet piece to get and where to get it. But I still did not feel confident in putting everything back together.

Then there was the recall with the falling down cabinets. LA said they didn’t need fixing and then sent in to headquarters for reimbursement. Portland said they fixed it. They didn’t. They never sent in for reimbursement. It looked exactly the same and the ohio people confirmed Portland did nothing. I was planning a trip in warmer weather to a dealer with a better reputation but dreading it with gas prices going up and 10 mpg towing. I had started thinking of hiring someone who does vintage remodeling and having them help me build something under the cupboards that would hold them up, since the original design of floating cabinets made of pressboard and held up with a couple of screws was a poor design.

Today I can happily say everything is fixed and it didn’t cost me thousands. Along this journey I learned, there are many ways to live in my Airstream. If something doesn’t work I can make due until I have the ability to take care of it. I learned how helpful the Airstream folks in the Ohio Headquarters are, even over the phone. I also learned even though its a brand new Airstream, it’s ok to eventually treat it like a vintage and redesign some of the interior. Most of the new Airstreams are not built like the old ones. The old ones had cabinets actually made of wood instead of press board that falls apart and laminate the peels off in desert weather. The designs back in the day were smarter and more suited to trailers rolling down the road rather than trying to look glamorous with things like cabinets that float from the ceiling.

Successfully climbing mountains and hiking trails gives one a new sense of umph when it comes to standing up to big corporations. Plus it’s just simply breathtaking. It allowed me to get real quiet, contemplate what is important and go for it. “Into The Quiet” 100 Small Paintings. 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) Acrylic on watercolor paper $240

I learned to get more assertive with mechanics as well as opinionated people who seem to just accept poor workmanship as “that’s the way trailers are”. That’s not the way Airstream trailers used to be. The name Airstream had a quality reputation attached to it and therefore held its reslae value. Airstream is living on that reputation of quality. The old trailers were quality and you knew you got what you paid for. If Airstream is now pumping out massive numbers of trailers for profit and forgoing quality, it is ok to point that out, speak up and demand better. During this time I saw Airstream put out a letter actually saying they were cutting down on production so they could go back to focusing on quality. They are a big business with big money so that is no little deal to share a letter like that. It makes me think our voices are not going unheard. We are not just whining.

I have made lots of new friends here in Oregon and across the world who love trailer life. That sisterhood has provided an important network of support for all of us as we venture through the ups and downs of living this lifestyle. I mirrored that sisterhood in my art life which has also helped catapult my art to the next level. “Sandy And Friends” Femininity Defined series 30 x 30 Acrylic on Canvas

I also learned that several things that I need to maintain on my Airstream are generic to all RV’s. When I got my trailer it was implanted in my head that only AIrstream folks could work on an Airstream. In some cases that is an expensive myth. Granted there are certain things I would only have Airstream people do because it is true that if you aren’t familiar with Airstreams and how to work on them you can damage them. But, my issues… the water pump, the water intake leak (which is what it turned out to be) and the falling kitchen cabinets, were all fixed by a well recommended local mobile rv guy. We didn’t need to tear out the closet or drop the black tank for a grand to figure out where the leak was. The inlet on the outside of the trailer had four simple screws to unscrew. After that there was a seal so we pried the inlet off of the trailer and pulled it out a little. We got the water going and put a paper towel under it and sure enough there was the leak.

The town of Troutdale was a hop, skip and a jump away. It is quite the artist destination, which for me was like waking up in fairyland. I got to explore being an artist in shows and galleries which has been a real treat. “The Town” 100 Small Paintings series 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) Acrylic on water color paper $240

The pump, the mobile rv guy could reach. Turns out it was clogged. The light bulbs went on in my head. Everyone on the Colorado River was always clearing out the faucets of the gunk that came up with the water there. So of course, my system would be clogged. It’s clear and ready to go.

Long hikes through the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts when the pandemic first broke out, gave me an appreciation for how isolated and thus safe I was and gave me time to reflect on my life. “Inner Silence” Acrylic on water color paper 9″x9″ (archival mat 12″x12″) $240

As for the cupboards, with two of us, I was able to push them up and my mobile rv guy was able to add several screws through the cuboard to hold them up. We just had to figure out where the real support was. I may still put an elbow support under the cupboard next to the stove vent but for now they are up, and they are staying up. I have running water, everything is fixed and a big load has been lifted. I’m feeling light and ready to hit the road. Although with 10mpg and a tank that today costs $170 to fill and rising….my next adventure will be another Truck Trip I’ll be heading back to the Canadian Rockies and going off the beaten path to explore some tent camping.

Oregon is gorgeous wherever you go.

Truck Tripping: My Latest Escape

My intent in writing about my travels is not to freak people out about all of the “what ifs” and negative stuff. That said, I do have times with more anxiety than others. Some of what I’ve been through in months of Airstream travel includes out driving tornados, near misses with grapefruit sized hail, flooded over highways in the midwest, eighty mile an hour winds, three feet of snow and the need for chains in mountain passes, chasing bears at midnight, flying microwaves and falling cupboards while going sixty down the road, expensive fixes on broken handles not covered in wrranties. I’ve dealt with homelessness while the shop has my rig, fighting to get warranty approved fixes completed and losing, recalls that were paid for but never done, and more direct lies from Airstream repair shops. This is just naming a few things briefly. Yes in life things wear out, however when something is still fairly new, one doesn’t expect to have to deal with piles and piles of horse manure. So I find my advocacy skills useful, I have worked on my patience and I have tackled the anxiety all of this brings by enjoying a new kind of adventure for myself. Airstream Headquarters is helping right the wrongs that have happened so in time things will get fixed and all of my horror stories have made for good just that fun stories.

As for my new adventure, I have learned to enjoy what I call Truck Tripping. Even though my trailer is a symbol for a life of freedom, a life where one can just get up and go. Because I live in it fulltime it does start to feel no different than a sticks and bricks house in some ways. There is a lot to just getting up and going when one lives fulltime in the trailer. When the trailer needed fixing I had to think about where I would stay and my first Truck Trip began. I started out at Edgefield McMenimins in Troutdale, 75 beautifully landscaped acres of walking paths filled with wineries, breweries, restauraunts and a hotel, as well as a spa, soaking pools, a golf course, gardens, a movie theater, and glass blowing house. Here are just a few shots from my stay at Edgefield.

Edgefield McMenamins Gardens are absolutely lovely!

The service was top notch. The bars were delightful and the drinks even better! Everywhere one looked there was something to treat the senses.

It kind of defeats the purpose of saving money on warranty work if I were to stay in a hotel the entire time my rig was in the shop. So, off I went using the time to catch up with relatives. It had been two years since my maiden towing adventure where I rolled my trailer up to visit my aunt and uncle in Manson Washington off of Lake Chelan. The drive up the Columbia River and through the forests in the mountains was such a treat.

The best part was feeling so light. It was just me and the truck. I didn’t have to lock down all of my personal items inside of the trailer for fear they would become flying torpedos. I left my outside chairs and plants right where they were. I didn’t have to determine ahead of time whether or not I could get in and out of an upcoming gas station stop. I could easily stop at vista points and take in the views. And I had no worries about whether the trailer was following safely behind. Driving in general was much more relaxed. I’ve started following more Van Life folks as I can see the appeal!

Looking out across vineyards and apple orchards with 360 degrees of valleys around the house helped me forget all previous anxiety.

Auntie’s garden was beautiful and she made delicious dessert with figs from her fig trees.

It really was a delight to be able to just pick up and go in the truck and not have to worry about leaving the silver home behind. My neighbors watered my container garden, but in all honesty planting a container garden I let go of any outcomes. Whatever grows is a delight.

The views were gorgeous. Smoke from Eastern Washington was sad.

Driving back down the Columbia to pick up my rig was a bit more nervewracking. There was no way to tell where the smoke was coming from, but that didn’t stop me from yet one more truck trip.

Off I went, leaving my trailer at my base camp in Portland Metro. I headed out to meet the girls from my book club in Fort Bragg and do an in person delivery of one of my paintings I love. Being able to bring my. painting in person to it’s forever home and not have to maneuver Highway one with a trailer was a treat. I actually got to see some of the coast and Redwood scenery along the way. Not that trailering along Hwy 1 can’t be done, It’s just for me. It was much more relaxing driving the highway dropped off into the ocean and left only a single lane to alternating passing on…. without my home dragging behind.

When I started my trailer life I was asked about how I prefered going fulltime. The movie Nomadland definitely is good commentary on one way we live. However, there are so many other ways we live this life as fulltimers. And I have discovered that I really enjoy base camping in an area for an extended period, making new friends and building community, and taking smaller day trips or truck camping.

Thanks for sticking with me as I catch you up on my last year. Thanks for your follow!

Flying Microwaves & Falling Cupboards

Flying microwaves, falling cupboards, leaking water lines, expensive door handle fixes and I need new tires is what the title of this blog really should say. I haven’t written for four whole months because none of that sounded very sexy or fun. In reality, it all served its purpose. The universe was telling me to sit still.

Rolling down the road in my Airstream has taught me to be open to the possibilities. I have really been fortunate to see a lot of the western  and midwestern states and quite a path through Canada in my travels. I hope to travel across the south and all around the eastern states eventually. But for now, I am still in awe of landing in Troutdale, Oregon. It feels like home.

There is a lot of inspiration for my work right outside of the trailer.

I think Oregon is the most beautiful part of the country. I hesitate to tell you as I don’t want everyone to come here. Haaaahaahaaa. Those who know me know most of this story. I walked out of my new parking situation and found a lovely little town that seriously looked like a Hallmark Movie set! I actually am not a fan of those movies, but the sets always amaze me with their picket fences and perfection. And as we know from the last few years of life, reality is not a picture of perfection.  I sat down at a lovely little outdoor coffee shop and enjoyed a view where they actually were filming a movie. I guess a lot of filming happens here. There were three different coffee shops to choose from within a few blocks, a sushi joint, a couple of pubs, a delicious pizza bar, yummy Chinese food and a dentist, chiropractor and all of the other things one looks for when you get somewhere new. But best of all there were art galleries! Notice I said galleries‚Ķ plural!

The Sandy River RV Park is a real gem. It’s affordable, beautiful, and run by folks who really care about the park, and the community.

 

Then walking from my parking in other directions¬† I found so many breathtaking, beautiful places to walk, as well as the Troutdale Art Center. Staying open to making a base camp here, staying seasonally, and sitting still has allowed me to really connect with the community as well as delve into being an artist. If everything in life had been swell… not sure I would have slowed down. I am thrilled to announce that I am now a regular artist at the Troutdale Art Center and have established Artwork By ElisaMG LLC.¬† I’m grateful for the warm welcome from all of the artists there and encourage you all to come for a visit.¬†

I also am thrilled to share I am the featured artist at Nalu Kava Lounge Tea House in North Portland. Nalu Kava is a wonderful place to go for some Kava, which is known to have amazing properties that reduce stress and increase joy. I also found my way into a live book club there, which I’m excited to say I look forward to after only being able to meet on zoom for the last couple of years. The book is “Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach, which Ironically¬† starts out with a diary entry about a charachter who lets go of clinging to safety and trusts the river currents to take them on an adventure. Kind of like Airstream life….. I have found in letting go of (or trying to let go of) controlling the outcomes, I will bump along and hit a few rocks in the current, but ultimately I will be lifted up and float down stream experiencing things far beyond my wildest imagination.¬†

I still think I’m dreaming where I live a life that I get to paint and people like my work and want it. I’m totally honored that anybody still follows my silly little blog that is not regular, doesn’t tell you much technical about this life and is really all about me. And I’m thrilled that I get to find forever homes for my art in your homes.

I will try to not wait four months for the next share! (When I wrote this it was four months…. in reality I think it’s been more like seven. See I promised if you followed you would not get bombarded with tons of email. lol) Thanks for the follow!

My Fab Five – Inspiration On The Road

Long before I had my Airstream, over thirty years ago I was sitting in Powderhorn Park at In The Heart Of The Beast’s May Day Parade. The Twin Cities are known for their puppet theater artists, especially Powderhorn Park. Thousands of folks would flock in from all over. For me it was a birthday tradition. The first weekend in May I’d get a fabulous cake from Wuolett’s Bakery, invite friends to park at my house and help me eat cake and then walk down to the park for the parade. It was one particular May Day Parade where events would unfold that would have quite the impact on me. I didn’t know it then but I would be introduced to the first of my Fab Five. I would begin on a journey, learning the importance of the people we meet along the road.

Portfolio page for Artwork By ElisaMG is here in Word Press. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tiny_adventures_of_elisamg/

Fab Five….. in chronological order…..

It was at a May Day Parade, where an elderly man in worn out coveralls appeared on the horizon, just a tiny speck among thousands. For some reason I noticed him. He was bee lining it directly towards me. It took a bit for him to reach me, but when he finally arrived, he looked me in the eyes and very matter of factly asked “Are you an artist?” You think this would be a simple question, I mean I did have a Visual Arts BA and a minor in communications so I should have been able to articulate some sort of coherant answer. Yet I still didn’t claim my Artist self, and would go on for years ignoring it, or bringing creativity into every job I did, but not allowing myself to really dream and play. However, in that moment, I sat up tall and straight and confident, looked him in the eyes and said “Why yes! I am.” To which he quickly responded “Well then you need to read “The Artist’s Way.” After which he turned on his heels and left the crowd and park as quickly as he had entered. Well, of course I immediately went out and bought the book!

For a little fun reading on Puppet Artistry in the Twin Cities, check this out…. https://www.twincities.com/2015/04/29/in-the-twin-cities-a-special-puppet-love/

Check out Julia’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/juliacameronlive/

Years later after one copy of the book was eaten by my Great Dane, another sat collecting dust on the shelf, and I had been in and out of several Artist Way groups both live and online from Minneapolis to LA, I finally had the opportunity to meet Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way. I had the honor of spending a whole weekend with her at an intensified day in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the first of its kind ever, Gathering Of The Creatives. This is where I jumped all in and seriously start creating. Julia’s lessons and workshop helped me to see past my perfectionism and overthinking, to put into practice some daily practices, like the Artist’s Date and Morning Pages, which on the surface seemed simple but in all seriousness proufoundly changed me for the better. The things she taught me became a sort of prayer and meditation practice for me, and magic started to happen. So Julia is one of my first “Fab Five”. Thank you Julia!

I should preface this to say there were so many who influenced, inspired, encouraged me along the way including, my mother who is also a painter and instilled in me a love for the arts at a very young age, my friends who pushed me to sell my art, strangers who were moved by my works and I knew were not just being nice because they knew me, jobs that were an uncomfortable fit but necessary to build the strength in me to move on, bad match boyfriends who I never married and thus always had “A Room Of My Own”, and a Pandemic leaving me completely isolated that gave me the gift of time to reflect on what was really important to me and allowed me to commit to myself and my art. Of course their is my friend Traci who markets wines for a vineyard using social media and encouraged me from the beginning to use all of the media tools available to get myself out there. All of you who follow me and read my writing also count in the group that goes way beyond the Fab Five. But this post is dedicated to my “Fab Five”.

Follow Flora on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/florabowley/ Check out all Flora has to offer at: https://florabowley.com/

Flora Bowley, out of the Pacific Northwest, is next on my list. If there ever was an artist that I have met who truly is a giving soul, not attached to ego at all, and truly gifted, it is Flora, an all around beautiful person. I journeyed through many of Flora’s classes, learning the process of Intuitive Painting and so much more. Intuitive Painting is freeing. You take all thoughts out of your head and just center yourself present in the moment. You let go of control, you set aside any pre-conceived notions of what you want to paint. You might set some intentions ahead of time. Flora taught us the importance of creating space for our practice. We learned to create an invironment that called us to creativity. She taught us how to feel what we were creating, how to play and dance and have fun with it. She even shared her own painting playlists, which I love to listen to while I paint. Flora taught us to enjoy our creations but not get attached, as in life joy comes to us and goes making room for new joys. She encouraged us if we were copying her style and coached us to find our own styles. During the pandemic she has been one of my lifelines as she reinvented herself and held virtual conferences where we could meet artists around the world and spend time in the virutal studio together sharing, being vulnerable about our process and our techniques, where we get stuck, where we see ourselves going, and we could gain feedback, and grow. Flora’s books and classes were well worth the investment. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, consider joining one of Flora’s classes! I know you will find it to be a real treat! Taking courses, as well as attending the creativity conference were investments in myself. Thank you Flora!

My Fab Five person number three is Sandy Garcia, a Folk Artist out of Claremont California. Sandy like the others has a huge, giving heart and a playful creative brain, backed by incredible talent. She loves community and found a way to build that among artists. I owe it to all of my Fab Five, and especially Sandy for all of the artist friends I have made along the way. I first met Sandy at a workshop in downtown Pomona California at this wonderful little coffe shop/used book store/ community gathering space. Two teachers who were going to buy a house, instead created this wonderful space to escape to for play and creativity. Sandy taught us some of her techniques and methods for making bold bright art influenced by Mexican Folk Art. We were painting La Virgen De Guadalupe. I went on to enjoy many more painting days with Sandy and her artist friends. She taught me to let go of being judgemental, to experiment with different colors, to embrace the imperfect and let go of perfectionism. She opened her home for many workshops where I collected ideas on all of the different mediums one can make art on, and held sessions at her friends’ local vineyard at the base of the mountains. I’m not going to lie, the wine and cheese were pretty darn good too. At every workshop I met new folks, grew my art network and got to improve my painting skills, play and have fun. If you are in the Southern California area, I highly. encourage you to find Sandy and see what opportunities she might have, or check out her art. I know you will love it! Sandy, also helped all of us through the pandemic. When folks lost loved ones or were struggling with something she rallied us all to send art to that particular individual. She promoted other artists and their creations and shows, and she hosted several online art shows, keeping us creating and connecting in a time when we were so isolated and alone and connection was so desperately needed. Thank you Sandy!

Check out Sandy’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pintalos/

My next Fab Five is Loree Harrell, from the Troutdale Art Center, along with all of the other artists there who welcomed me as a guest artist with open arms. When my trailer landed in Troutdale, I thought I had died and gone to heaven as I walked out of either end of the park to find art galleries and The Troutdale Art Center. How could it be that I would be gifted with so many resources and opportunities all around me. Of course I snooped through everyone’s websites and I was really taken by Loree’s work so I took a risk and reached out. Airstream travels teaches you without a risk there is no adventure! I reached out to her on facebook and she welcomed me right in to the Troutdale arts community. Loree was encouraging. She took me in as a guest artist, and being around her I learn something new everyday. I’ll get a new tip on running my business, or marketing my work, or creating just by being around her and watching her work. She then invited me to showing my art at the Troutdale First Fridays Art Walk this summer right in front of her studio. She shared her tent and gear I woudl need to do that and helped me make connections to apply and participate in the upcoming jurried Fall Festival.

There are still so many places here for me to explore in Portland and thanks to Loree, I’ve just begun discovering the opportunities here in Troutdale. Loree Harrell is incredibly giving, thoughtful, creative and smart. Recently retired, she brings years of successful hotel management experience and work ethic into her work as an artist. I’ve learned to be a successful artist you not only have to make art that people like, but you have to run the business, sell the work, market yourself, present things in a professional way, participate in community events and fairs, figure out the ins and outs of packaging and shipping, engage with people and make it fun. Little details count! Tags describing your work, how you wire your paintings and hang them, community resources such as where you make your prints, how you store your quality photos are all important. She gives great attention to detail on making folks feel special. Watching her I see that the long hours fine tuning and organizing what one does really pays off. She also makes her art accessible to all. She showed me how she gets her art onto purses, shoes and other merchandise. She even creates earings with tiny prints of her art.

Check her out. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loreeharrellart/ https://www.loreeharrell.com/ as well as the other artists at TAC…. https://www.instagram.com/troutdaleartcenter/ http://www.troutdaleartcenter.com/

Then there is the fabulous Sasha Loriene! Founder of Black Girls Who Paint, Sasha inspires me by her seemingly endless energy and passion for her work as an artist and an artist who supports other artists. I don’t know about the rest of you but my college classes never had anyone who looked like me in the Art History books painting or doing creative endeavors. I know this had a lot to do with why I had so much doubt about myself and think, wow, what if I had jumped in at twenty. So, when I came across Sasha, a Black female artist, on Instagram I was thrilled! I was thrilled! Sasha reminded me the importance of giving back to the community, going all in, having a vision and goals, and keeping balance between the business and simply enjoying the fun of creating. Yes, the business, because I now have an LLC. I’m official! Anyhow, Sasha created BGWP for the very reason I mentioned. She wanted Black women and girls to know there is space for us in the art world. She wanted to share the expertise she was learning from the New York galleries she had worked with and to connect artists to opportunities around the world. Although she will say she is bad at technology, she definitely upped my game in the world of technology. I went to workshops, met gallery owners and learned how to talk to press. I grew my collectors (those who buy original art as an investmeent, gaining value over the years), and I grew my artist connections. I made weekly calander commitments to show up to events online and push past insecurities, fears and self doubt and participate, and be a part of. We just finished the “Feminity Defined” online art show taking a look at non-traditional images representing the feminine. I was thrilled Sasha gave me the opportunity in an online forum to be one of five featured artists in a preshow with gallery owners, art administrators and the press for an audience. She helped me fine tune my skills in talking about my art in front of big and influential strangers. Sasha has thrown international opportunities our way and ways to connect live with other Black female artists across the country on a regular basis. She also reminds us to embrace, nurture, cheer on young Black girls aspiring to be artists. Sasha is so inspirational. I look forward to working with her and the BGWP team on whatever opportunities they invite us to down the road. Also, I encourage you too, to connect BIPOC girls who are interested in the arts with Sasha’s resources, as there are often opportunities and scholarships for them. Thank you Sasha!

Check out Sasha’s work: Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sashaloriene/ https://www.instagram.com/mahyuestudios/ https://www.instagram.com/blackgirlswhopaint/

Thinking back on the Gathering of the Creatives, everything I got there has stayed with me. Everyone I met at the Creativity Conference, I still am connected to, influenced and moved by. One big take away was that we are all creative. We are just not encouraged to put it to practice. Also that if we all engaged our creativity we really could heal this world and make it a better place. I truly believe that and at a time of feeling isolated and disconnected as well as having a deep dispair over our state in the world, this was a little light of hope. So if any of this inspires you, don’t hesitate, get out your paints, or camera or join that improv team or whatever medium lights your fire. And a huge shout out and thank you to my Fab Five!

Some themes in my Fab Five… I met every one of them because of social media. Yes, for all of you social media skeptics, real connection on social media can lead to great friendships, colleagues, community and opportunities. Living my trailer life as allowed me to move about and expand on those opportunities. Building up those around you and having a giving heart is key to success. I support other artists so I buy Julia’s books, Flora’s classes, Sandy’s workshops and Loree’s artwork. What ever one’s dreams are, finding like minded people, sharing your gifts and supporting each other is so rewarding. It’s the same in my trailer travels, and everywhere else, the more we support each other, lift each other up, share our gifts the greater this adventure called life becomes! So cheers to my Fab Five and the hundreds of others who have influenced my travels!

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