Practice Makes Peace with Imperfect

Okeeffe Country 8 min. finger painting.

O’Keeffe Country 8 min. finger painting.

When you do something over and over again – daily, weekly, monthly and the year, you tend to get pretty creative about the rules. Standards mean about as much as a cold bubble bath.

Perfectionism, at least my 2nd grade version of it was a pain when cranking out a painting in a New Mexico lightening/hailstorm, no electricity or matches. I was stubbornly determined to prove that no matter what I had claim on at least 30 minutes of my day to paint. In this case I remembered that I had purchased some matches that day in the bookstore because they had a cool etching on the cover.

I lit a candle, calmed the bunnies and finger painted what I remembered of an image of O’Keeffe country in a magazine. I posted by iPhone before midnight and slept peacefully. I didn’t really know what it looked like until the next day online. I remember working fast and feeling nervous. Electricity in the air, the unfamiliar earth trembling, my elderly rabbits freaked. It seemed a bit silly at the time to hold fast to such stubbornness. As I look back I feel a bit thrilled and romanced by the aliveness of the moment.

As I look back now on the project of painting daily as a whole, I realize practice gave me creative license to rewrite my relationship to perfectionism — to make peace with it by practicing awkwardness daily. Perfection, it turns out has a lot of room for redefinition.



Brawling Night Cats


Cat – acrylic on yupo

I have several processes in the works that are “oh so fun” – a series of animal collage murals, 7 small stack books for foodie and bunny lovers (3 nearly done), the paperback version of The Art of Daily Cultivation + agent hunting. As well as 2 new websites, one for creativity coaching/blogging + fun muse-like tools for my coaching clients, and this site is going through some massive reconstruction for a new store launch.

So, here’s the thing. Life keeps slowing down the kid who wants to stomp in puddles and get on with it. This past week, the inhibitors larger than usual: bunny at death’s door + vet madness, a new bed that made me feel hit by a truck, waking up at 2 a.m. for several nights to screaming cats fighting and not going back to sleep, and design clients / creative director pressures in crunch week at work. I wanted a virtual lobotomy every hour — and a hug a minute. ; D

I found art during this time to be the thing — that beautiful daily apex between the life I own and the life I serve — that instantly relieved stress. Sometimes for just 5 or 10 minutes. But it calmed and restored without fail. Tickled again for this daily practice that continues to give (no matter what).

Elephant Mural in Progress

Laughing Elephant Mural in Progress

Next? An introduction between passion and patience is in order. I did want to be introducing all kinds of new goodies by the end of Sept. to you. But the end of October is more like it as the day job lightens and the night cats get slept through with the promise of the right mattress (soon). Patience! Now there’s a concept. I just want to play with my new toy—renewed passion through daily practice.

Thank you for your patience as well. And support as I’ve posted cakes on Facebook. ; D

Summer Salmon & Really Good Wine



I’m just here today to remind you that cooking outside with loved ones, friends and well behaved furry ones is a really lovely thing right about now. If you have my book The Art of Daily Cultivation, this beautiful recipe from Shauna Prince is on page 110. And if you don’t have the book, you now have one of the best parts of the book. See, I don’t consider myself a foodie, but I am wise enough to have talented, festive foodie friends. Thank you Shauna and Daniel!

BBQ’d salmon with lemon, capers, and dill

Ingredients – serves 8

2 whole fillets of salmon (skin on or skin off, ideally wild, around 2 ½ pounds each fillet)

4 medium lemons – two sliced in rounds (with skin on), one juiced, one sliced in wedges for garnish

1½ oz butter

1/2 of a medium white or brown onion, cut in thin slices or wedges

3 tablespoons of white wine (optional)

1½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of fresh dill – chopped. Plus sprigs for garnish

1 – 2 tablespoons of capers (to your taste)

Salt (approx. ¼ tsp Kosher salt)

Freshly ground pepper (approx. ¼ tsp)

1½  tablespoons of olive oil

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Creative Space Design #3 :: Setting up to sit down


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This is a short essay that offers some ideas for carving out your creative space. To clarify the vision, claim the space and give it some visual props. Enjoy. This is the last article of this series. But there will be a new series coming soon.

* This is part 3/3 essay series on “Designing Your Creative Space.”

Part 1: Conditions of Genius

Part 2: Self Knowledge to Decor

Part 3: Setting Up to Sit Down




“Love a Chicken” Acrylic on 3 ft x 3 ft canvas

I’m a big chicken when it comes to marketing my work. If you came to me to market your work — help you identify what is special about it and it’s potential market influence, I’d be all over it. In fact, you would be bringing me a box of chocolate because then I could escape the excruciating work of turning that focus on myself.

I think it’s both more complex and more straight forward than fear alone. It’s personality and other annoying tendencies. For example, as an artist I like the freedom to explore various subject matter, form and technique. The idea of the traditional artist statement where I hot iron what type of artist I am makes me want to poke out my right eye. In a conversation with Ronnie Walter “License to Draw” she had an important insight. She said, you need to show them how to see your body of work. Packaging and demonstration is important to having the type of success you want. I agree. We are educating our marketers and business collaborators. And that’s an extension of the creative work.

Einstein said that a problem can’t be solved within the consciousness it was created. Maybe marketing can’t be solved by the mind that created the work of art. We are in a business culture where artists, writers, inventors, filmmakers are doing their own marketing and raising the money to get their products into the world. Bah, humbug… let the experts do what they do best. I still have the romantic idea I will find the perfect agent.

Perhaps it’s managing the anxiety of exposure, success, disappointment, vulnerability. The comforting thing is to keep creating. And I waddle my chicken butt up to the studio often for the comfort of color and good music.

However, since the 365 project — with books and new products coming out soon, it’s growth time. So I’ve taken out the word “marketing” in exchange for success partners. Agents, galleries, publishers don’t mind making money from my works, why should I mind chatting with them? And I am. And I’m even facing the word challenges of nailing the artist statement. Sometimes our minds make giant leaps into the task of marketing. It’s baby steps for this chicken. Baby steps…

Now where’s my chocolate?

Creative Space Design, Part 2 — Zorba & Buddha

ZORBA & BUDDHA: Self knowledge to Decor.

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This one will take you back to Greece with me, when… in a squabble with my boyfriend I accidentally ended up in a room with a very interesting woman who helped me learn something out about my true nature. This revolutionized my approach to designing a more truthful creative space. When you have that, well… it’s really difficult not to be on fire in every aspect of your life.

* This is part 2 of a 3 part essay series on “Designing Your Creative Space.”

Part 1: Conditions of Genius

Part 2: Self Knowledge to Decor

Part 3: It’s a surprise.

Alison Gresik Interview: Hours for Art

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Alison Gresik did such a fine job with this interview. I wanted to share. And if you can’t read this… here are some of her tweets:

“Things grew out of the creative practice that balanced fears & exhaustion.” @niyachristine on 365 Paintings project 

“How about some Russian Caravan tea with real cream and gobs of honey?” How @niyachristine coaxes herself to paint ~ 

“I was mostly managing my days vs. building my dreams.” @niyachristine on the genesis of her 365 Paintings project.