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Norwegian Musings and Polish Thoughts

Ocean Breeze at Joss & Main Wall Art: The Masters Event

Ocean Breeze and Bold Innocence, both of which capture a sense of freedom, joy, color and life, are featured at this week's Wall Art: The Masters Event at Joss and Main, through February 6, 2015.

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Christmas Cards at Give Write Cards Support Make a Wish Foundation

All 12 of Steve's Santa Christmas Paintings are available as Christmas Cards at Give Write Cards, an innovative print on demand company from which purchasers select a card digitally, customize it with their message, and arrange to have it sent through the mail to their recipients.


As an added bonus, a portion of the purchase price of each card is donated to a charity, with the primary charity at this time being the Make a Wish Foundation. The company encourages charities, and individuals, to contact them about adding groups to their list.


Boxed sets of cards are available to be sent to the purchaser directly, and most of Steve's images are available in sets of 4-6, as well as variety packs of several different images.


Steve is pleased and proud to be part of Give Write, sending Christmas cheer to others in multiple ways!


To visit Steve's page at Give Write, please click here.

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Christmas Gift Idea -- Money Saving Book

No matter what time of year it is, Christmas is coming, and it's always good to have gift ideas in the back of one's mind, or wrapped and in the closet. At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we want to be part of your holidays, all year round, with original artwork, signed limited edition prints, open edition prints, books, artist teaching resources, and posters -- we do our best to span the price ranges so that art can be a part of your life.


Let's start out this week with the concept of spending money -- wisely -- and for that we recommend Carolyn's book, Live Happily on Less. This is not one of your standard, "Make a Million in Two Weeks" rags, nor will it scold you into living like a prince on $100 a week. Live Happily on Less is a friendly, engaging guide on how to customize your resources to your life.


We all work different jobs, make different amounts of money, and choose to spend that money in different ways, so a resource that demands we conform to living a certain way is not a resource that works for us -- and yet, that's what so many of those "Make a Million" books do. The limited information they actually offer -- beyond, "Reach out and GRAB Life!" and other feel-good platitudes that really offer nothing of actual pertinence -- frequently asks us to be someone we are not, to make decisions that do not seem right to us.


Live Happily on Less is a series of short, easy to read essays that explore life in our modern economy, and how we can fit our own lives into it. Steve and Carolyn raised a family of six on one modest income; they own their house, mortgage free, as well as their land; they paid cash for their car; and they have no creditors. You, too, can take the resources you have been given and use them to the best of your ability, in a way that fits the way you think and live.


So before we even start the Christmas shopping season, let's tackle the money issue, and with Live Happily on Less, maybe it won't be such a big issue after all. Available as a paperback, digital e-book, and for borrowing through Amazon Prime.

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Who Are We and Why Can You Trust Ordering from Us?

Recently I received an e-mail from a person wanting to purchase a product from Steve Henderson Fine Art --


"I don't want to give you my credit card number," the client wrote, "because I've never ordered from you before and I don't know you."


Fair enough. There are a lot of businesses out there, and one must be wise to ensure that you're working with a real one. To that end, let me answer some questions you may have (I would):


1) First and foremost, we use PayPal as our payment method, and this means that we do NOT see your credit card number, or any sensitive and personal financial information. That's the beauty of PayPal -- as a third party operator, it stores this information and processes the transaction, maintaining your privacy. As a merchant, all we see is your name and mailing address (so that we can mail you the product), and your e-mail address, so that we can contact you.


2) While you are more than welcome to send us a check, and we do accept this method, it's really quicker, faster, and safer to use PayPal.


3) Who are we, anyway? Steve is an independent artist who sells directly through his website, which means that our prices are lower than if you purchased the work through a gallery, because we do not have to tack on the gallery commission charge. For more on this, please read Our Prices on this site. Steve shows and sells his work internationally, as original paintings, signed limited edition prints, licensed open edition prints, inspirational posters, books, and artist DVDs and downloads. A former commercial illustrator, Steve has exhibited in numerous prestigious shows, and he has served as a judge and juror in various art exhibitions. You can learn more about Steve in the About the Artist section of the website.


4) Why can you trust us? We are Christians, and while that word is bandied about loosely these days, we do live in accordance with what Christ wants us to be. Integrity, honesty, openness -- we run our business by these words. We have been paying members of Fine Art Studio Online (which provides our website) since 2008, and I, Carolyn, am a columnist for FASO's Fine Art Views. I am also a writer for  BeliefNet with a blog called Commonsense Christianity.  My blog, This Woman Writes, has been a part of Forum Communication System's since 2011.


Steve is licensed through Art Licensing, Vermont, one of the leading commercial licensing companies in the world. He works with Wenaha Gallery of Dayton, WA, which sells originals and prints nationwide. He maintains excellent relationships with regional art associations such as The Larson Gallery of Yakima, WA; The Clymer Art Museum of Ellensburg, WA; the Western Art Association of Ellensburg, WA; The Valley Art Guild of Clarkston, WA; The Salmon River Art Guild of Riggins, ID; the Allied Arts Association of Richland, WA; The Wallowa Valley Arts Organization of Joseph, OR; and the Arts Alliance of Sandpoint, ID. We will willingly put you in touch with contact persons at any of these organizations to secure you a testimonial as to the integrity of Steve Henderson Fine Art.


5) We answer each and every website client contact and e-mail we receive, Monday-Friday. If there is a question about your order or a product, we will answer it; if there is an issue, we will solve it; if you want a purchase plan for a larger sale, we will set one up -- interest free. When you contact us, you reach a real person (generally Carolyn) and you are never shuffled off to an overseas calling center and bandied about.


So, this is who we are, and this is why you can trust ordering from us. Questions? You're always welcome to write or use the Contact page on the website.

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Watercolor Workshop DVD -- Affordable and fun

Steve's Digital Watercolor Workshop -- based upon the Purple Iris original watercolor painting -- nears completion and will be available for sale shortly on the Steve Henderson Fine Art website.


There are a lot of people out there who want to learn to paint, period, or who want to improve what they are already doing, and Steve's first Digital Watercolor Workshop covers the basics, and beyond, step by step in a friendly, easy-to-use format that you can follow along right on your computer or television screen.


After years of doing workshops for private and community organizations, Steve is pulling together people's main challenges and questions into a veritable workshop in a DVD case, and at the conclusion of the tutorial, students will have a Purple Iris of their own -- uniquely theirs -- and additional skill and ability with the watercolor process.


If you subscribe to our newsletter, Start Your Week with Steve, you will be one of the first to learn when the Digital Watercolor Workshop is available.

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Financial Health

Financial health and saving money are on everyone's mind these days, and This Woman Writes, the lifestyle blog by the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art, Carolyn Henderson, has a Financial Health page with a list of the latest articles on money, saving money, and living well with whatever resources you have been given.


Carolyn's financial articles appear Fridays at This Woman Writes, and she updates the Financial Health page every week.


If you are a homeschooler, or know someone who is, Carolyn also posts a Homeschooling page at This Woman Writes. Carolyn's homeschooling articles are a new feature at the site and appear on Thursdays, drawing upon her 20-plus years successfully schooling four children at home.

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Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts

Steve loves the mountains, and May 29-June 2 he'll be deep within the Wallowa Moutains of Oregon, judging the 31st annual Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts.


More than 90 Northwest artists have entered 214 two- and three-dimensional art pieces in various media -- oil, acrylic, mixed, watercolor, wood, bronze, fabric -- and Steve will spend Thursday reviewing and judging the work.


Friday, May 31, Steve will speak in the afternoon at the Joseph Community Center, where the show is held, concerning the work and how he chose the pieces receiving awards. Saturday, June 1, Steve will talk about his own art journey, and how he approaches what he does.


In the in between times, Steve plans to grab camera and wife Carolyn and hike. Although he doesn't fully realize this, Carolyn has plans to spend several hours in the local quilt shop, Cattle Country Quilts, planning her next full-sized quilt.

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Western Art Association Auction


Ellensburg, WA is a quaint little town, complete with brick sidewalks and the requisite number of superb restaurants. It is also home to the Western Art Association, which for the last 41 years has been holding a national art auction in the middle of May.


This year, the 41st annual Western Art Association Auction takes place at the Kittitas County Fairgrounds, just below the giant water tower that everyone likes to write their names on, in Ellensburg. The event runs May 17-19, Friday through Sunday, and Steve Henderson Fine Art has four paintings in the auction -- Stonework, Ladycamp, and the two miniature studies of Eyrie and Spirit of the Canyon.


Drop in, drop by, make a bid, walk through the streets of Ellensburg and enjoy the small town friendly atmosphere where a suprising number of people wear cowboy hats and boots, and look like they belong in them.

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What Is the Difference between an Open Edition and Limited Edition Print?

Wall art comes in all shapes, sizes, formats, and editions -- from an original painting to a print to a poster to a greeting card, and the prices vary accordingly.

In the world of prints, there are many factors, but one of the major differences lies between an open edition and limited edition print.

These Gifts Are Better Than Toys -- original sold; signed limited edition print available on our website; open edition prints at iCanvasART and

A limited edition print is so named because its run -- the number of these prints that are created and sold -- is limited to a specific number, say, 200. Each run is determined by size and any other qualifying factors; for instance, you can have a limited edition run of an image in a 12 x 15 size on paper, another run of 16 x 20 on paper, a third run of 12 x 15 on canvas, and so on. If you purchase the 5th print sold in the 12 x 15 on paper run, then somewhere on the print will be written (generally in pencil, since this is difficult to forge) 5/200, which indicates that your print is the 5th piece out of a total of 200 to be created in this particular run.


The print may or may not be signed by the artist, and if so, will be of increased value. It also may or may not include a Certificate of Authenticity, a piece of paper or form that lists out the run size, the number of your print in the run, and information on inks and paper, and the date that the print was created.


Sometimes, but not always, limited edition prints are created with archival quality inks on archival quality substrate -- paper or canvas -- and if so, the artist or company selling the print will make sure to inform you of this, since these archival quality materials ensure a superior product that will last a much longer time than a print created with non-archival quality materials. Do not assume that, just because a print is described as limited edition, that it is archival quality.


A limited edition print that is signed, archival quality, and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity will likely cost more than an open edition print (but significantly less than the original painting), simply because it has been in more direct contact with the artist.


An open edition print has no limit on its run, and frequently, it can be created in the thousands, tens of thousands, or more. It also costs less, and you will find it in box stores or on large Internet shopping conglomerate sites. There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with an open edition print, as it is a very affordable means of getting art on people's walls. Open edition prints can be printed on paper or canvas, and the quality of the substrate depends upon the manufacturer creating the print.

Figurative II by Steve Henderson, is available as an open edition print through Great Big Canvas, iCanvasART, Amazon.comLight in the Box,, and other online retailers.

So, which to buy? It is up to the individual consumer. Prints of some artist's work may be available only through the artist himself, and if you like his work, then this is the option to consider. Other artists -- like Steve Henderson at Steve Henderson Fine Art -- offer  signed limited edition prints through the website, but also make their work available as open edition prints in the commercial market.


Prints -- limited or open edition, archival quality or not, signed or unsigned -- enable people of varying budgets and economic lifestyles to enjoy fine art.

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How to Buy a Painting Directly from the Artist

Buying art directly from the artist isn't such an unusual thing. In these days of galleries and exhibitions and professional art organizations and non-profit art cooperatives, we've been trained into thinking that we can't deal with, talk to, or see the artist directly, but really, this is one of the best ways to purchase art.


Why? First and foremost, when an artist doesn't need to compensate for a gallery commission, he doesn't need to raise his prices to adjust for it. That's definitely a winning factor for the purchaser.


Just as importantly, the purchaser learns more about the painting and the painter, adding even more interest to the artwork.


Now when you live in the same town, or near to, the artist in question, you can frequently call to make a studio visit, and thereby view the artwork in person. When you live across the country, or even on another continent, this is more difficult, but as we purchase more and more items over the Internet, buying art online opens up wider vistas of possibilities for our walls.


At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we encourage people to look through the website and enjoy the images of Steve's various works. On each page, an artwork will be identified by its medium (oil, watercolor), size of the painting itself -- unframed -- in inches, whether or not it is framed, price, and availability. When a client finds a piece in which he or she is interested, we encourage them to read about Our Prices, which gives an overview of why Steve's works are priced the way they are.


Anyone who has looked for original fine art quickly learns that artwork has no hard or fast rule for how it is priced, and some really dreadful work out there is priced very, very high. Our Prices seeks to demystify some of this process, and further you along in your art purchasing education. Fine art, skillfully executed, is the result of an artist's passion and expertise, and producing a beautiful painting takes time and ability.


Once a potential client finds an artwork in which he or she is interested, the next step is to contact the artist. We have a Contact form on our site -- it's easy to fill out, and if a form isn't your thing, we provide a direct e-mail to Carolyn, the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art ( We also chat with clients over the phone or via Skype, and this communication process is designed to answer clients' questions and provide more information about the artwork and how it will fit into the space that the client has designed for it.


Do not be shy about this communication process -- purchasing art is, indeed, a process, and an artist's happiest clients are those who have had all their questions answered and feel confident about the artwork they are purchasing -- they know its colors and subject matter, and how those elements will fit into the environment they have set up for it; they measure out its size on the wall to get an idea of how it will hang there; they are conversant with the artist and know more about the painting they are looking at; they are comfortable with the final price and have worked out with the artist a means of paying for it (we frequently set up no-interest payment plans).


Of course, hitting the PayPal Buy Now button is always an option, and many people who purchase signed, limited edition prints and posters do so with the same confidence that they download an e-book, but always, the option to contact the artist and get those questions answered is a valid one.


Don't be shy.

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Buying Fine Art Directly from the Artist

I don't know about you, but ten years ago I had difficulty buying anything but a book over the Internet. I mean, what if I bought socks and they didn't fit? (This problem was solved when I started knitting my own socks.) Or shoes? 



And then I started buying things. I started with tea -- I found a reputable tea dealer (Upton Tea, for those of you who are interested), and was ecstatic to find that their product -- in addition to being something I couldn't find locally -- was superb, and their customer service was unparalleled.


From tea we went to all sorts of products, and now, a significant amount of our monthly purchases are made through the Internet.


So what about fine art? Can you successfully purchase it over the Internet?


Given that we sell Steve's paintings over the Internet, I would say, "Yes, definitely, depending from whom you are purchasing." In the same way that I was ecstatic over my tea purveyor's selection, quality, and customer service, we at Steve Henderson Fine Art take seriously these same elements: 


1) We have a wide selection of artwork, in various prices, from which to choose. From originals to limited edition prints to posters, we span the price range and meet any budget.


2) The quality of Steve's work -- both of the actual artwork and the materials upon which it rests -- is superb.


3) We stand behind everything we sell, from a PDF Article Booklet to an original painting.


4) We work as closely with our clients as they wish -- each and every purchase made through the Buy Now Button is inidividually acknowledged, and clients are given detailed information as to when and how their product will be shipped. Many of our clients who purchase originals or limited edition prints communicate with us back and forth via e-mail or phone (and we now have the option to Skype), and we ensure that their questions are answered to their satisfaction -- before, during, and after the sale.


5) For those people who wonder, "Who are you, anyway? How do I know it's safe to buy through the individual artist as opposed to a 'real' gallery?" we willingly provide business and character references. You will not offend us by asking.


As you will see by reading Our Prices, one of the best things about buying directly from the artist -- at least this artist -- is that you do not pay the extra price to cover the gallery's commission, which is frequently 50 percent of the painting's sale price. Buying direct, in this case, really does save money.


Please feel free to contact us anytime at

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Promenading in My Honda Fit

I love my Honda Fit. And while that may seem to have nothing to do with art, actually, it does.


You see, I drive my Honda Fit, everywhere, and in the process of its being used, it gets dusty, the tires see some wear, the interior windows next to where the Toddler sits get coated with whatever sticky stuff she's got on her hands and smears onto the glass. (I know. I don't want to know much more than that, either.)


Honestly, if I kept my Honda Fit inside the garage and never drove it for, say, 10 years, it would look exactly the way it did the day I bought it, and I could resell it -- maybe at a profit -- because it would be such a great investment!


But you know, people don't buy cars to keep as investments. They buy them to drive in them, and when it's the right car, like my cute, sassy, blazing barbecue orange Honda Fit, they enjoy the process.


If more people thought about art this way, more people would own, and enjoy paintings. But all of a sudden, when people look at a painting, they go into this "I Must Make a Profit on This Investment Mode" -- even if what they're looking at is a limited edition print for $80. Somehow, they tell themselves, if they purchase this, they need to be able to resell it, ten years down the road, for $200, because that's what you do with art -- you buy it as an investment. 


What a sad, limited world view, one that keeps people from renovating their aesthetic lives and their home's walls. The best reason to buy art is because you like it, because when you see the painting or the print it makes you happy, because you want it, because -- like my Honda Fit -- it's smart, sassy, sophisticated, and fun -- in short, that painting is You.


Enjoy driving your car -- it's a marvel of technology. Drink the wine that you like -- red, white, blush -- because only you have your unique palate. And buy art because you like it. Any other reason is less than the best.

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Eyrie -- In Top 50 for Artist & Illustrator's Artist of the Year

In addition to being accepted to the 2012 Paint the Parks Exhibition, Eyrie is now one of 50 Fabulous Final entries for Artist & Illustrator Magazine's Artist of the Year competition. Chosen from a record 4,000 entries by a panel of esteemed jurors, Eyrie is now up for popular vote.


We would certainly appreciate yours. 


You can vote for Eyrie by following this link -- 


and scrolling down to the tenth painting, Eyrie, and clicking "vote now" under Steve's name.


Please consider passing on this link to your friends, family, and colleagues via word of mouth, Facebook, Google Plus, Linked In, Pinterest, and other social media sites you enjoy. On Twitter, if you incorporate


@aandimagazine #AOTY

into your Tweet, then Artists and Illustrators will retweet it to their followers. (The link takes your readers to the voting page).


A sample Tweet would look like this:


Steve Henderson has been shortlisted for Artist of the Year! Vote for Eyrie @aandimagazine #AOTY


Please feel free to copy and paste the above sentence into your Tweet. Voting closes October 23.


Thank you!

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Being Human and All That

"You know, it's not a sin to make mistakes, fail to succeed on the first (or 45th) try, or generally show that we're imperfect. The unspoken strictures that some businesses/churches/schools/establishments place upon their members/employees make following the 10 Commandments look pretty darn easy."

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Materials aren't free and time is precious -- that being said, if more artists would worry less about creating the perfect painting and more about experimenting and getting better at what they do, then they would sooner reach a consistency of quality and create paintings with which they are delighted, time after time.

But if you skip that stage -- that practicing and trying and saying, "Oh, what the heck; if I don't like it, I'm out a little paint, the canvas, some time -- but I've gained in experience and wisdom" -- then you'll find that you're so worried about perfection, that you never achieve it.

There are enough people in our lives expecting unrealistic things of us, that we don't have to be one of them. Falling down isn't failure. Trying and not getting it quite right isn't tragedy. Doing something completely different, just because, isn't a waste of time.


Go for it. Grab a different brush. Use a color you usually avoid. Shake around your subject matter. Play with your paint and see where it takes you on the next step of your journey.

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Your Comfort Zone -- Why Do You Need to Get out of It?

"When someone tells you to 'get out of your comfort zone,' wait for it. It's highly likely that they're subtly or not-so-subtly nudging you into doing something that they know you don't want to do, but they need done." 

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter from Steve Henderson Fine Art, designed to jump start your week with flair.

We really owe seminar speakers a lot: they are the ones who come up with these tiresome platitudes that we battle on a daily basis.


Have you ever asked yourself, "Why are random people so concerned about my comfort zone, and whether or not I'm in it?"


And, "Just where is it that they want me to go?"


In the real world, there is a difference between a rut and a path, the former being a place where dirty water settles and gets your feet all wet, the latter being a directional aid in getting you where you want to go. All too frequently, we muddy the two, helped, no doubt, by people around us who point out that we seem too "comfortable" doing things the way we do, and perhaps we should step off our clear path onto the one they are suggesting.


But there is a reason we feel comfortable doing what we do: it fits us. It makes sense. It's relatively easy because it meshes with the way we think, believe, and process information. It's only when we're afraid, timid, reluctant, huddled in the ditch against the breeze that we're actually in a rut, and generally, we can figure this out without someone pointing it out to us.


Go ahead: do what you do best, and do it in the way that makes sense to you. Challenge yourself, try something new, shake up your routine -- but do it because you want to do it, not because someone scolds you into thinking that you should.



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October -- Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction Entry

Accepted to the 17th Annual Richard Schmid Fine Art Auction in Fort Collins, CO, September 2, 2012. Online bidding is available through this link --

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"Frustration isn't always such a bad thing. It's a sign that you're trying something new, different, or outside your level of familiarity, and in working your way through it (and you will) you conquer this challenge and move on to the next one."

-- From Start Your Week with Steve free weekly e-mail newsletter


One of the most satisfying things I do is teaching another person how to knit. And every time I do so, I conclude the lesson with this encouragement:


"You've just learned. While knitting is fairly simple, consisting of basically two stitches -- a knit stitch and a purl stitch -- until you practice, and do it over and over and over, you will not get good.


"And in the process of practicing, and learning how to be good, you will find that you forget some things, or that your knitting looks uneven, or that you drop stitches and you don't know how to get back. And you will get frustrated.


"Not only is this normal, but this is good, and if you're not getting frustrated, then you're probably not pushing yourself beyond your existing skill.


"You are not stupid. You are not unusual. You are not weird. You are normal.


"You are above normal when you accept the challenge, fight it, and win.


"Now -- go and knit."


This same advice applies in anything you do, including and especially including artwork such as painting or sculpture. You won't get better if you don't do it a lot; and if you do it a lot, you can expect to get frustrated.


So, go get frustrated.




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Life Is a Gift -- Kindle Book

Launching the Ordinary Life Is Beautiful Series, Life Is a Gift features 30 short, upbeat essays by Carolyn Henderson, manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Steve's paintings illustrate each story. For $2.99, it makes a great gift for yourself and all of the special people in your life.


The link will take you to Amazon Books, where you  may read the first few chapters of the book for free. Compatible on Kindle, IPad, and IPod. If you do not have any of these devices, you may download an app through Amazon to view the book on your computer.



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The Most Important Question to Ask When You Buy Fine Art

There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before you purchase a piece of fine art -- whether it is an original or a limited edition print -- but the most important one is one that people frequently overlook:


"Do I like it?"

"Do I Like It?" Ultimately, that is the question that carries the most weight, and it is the question that only you can answer. Reflection by Steve Henderson

It's so easy to get overwhelmed by questions that do or do not matter, such as,


"What would an art critic say?"


"Is it considered good?"


"Will it rise in value?"


While these questions may matter if you are a "collector" and wish to purchase the piece to put away in the vaults for a future day when you speculate that it will be worth 100 times what you paid for it; or if you are concerned with what other people will say when they walk in your house and see it, they really get in the way when you're out to put something on your wall that you like, that makes you smile every time you walk in the room, that gives you pleasure because it touches some part of your inner being that only you know about.


If you're worried about the price and aren't sure whether it's "worth" it, then talk to the gallery owner or, if you can, the artist himself, and ask about the piece. Recognize that a fine artist is as skilled in his profession as a neurologist is in hers, and one of the reason the piece you're looking at strikes so deep within in you is because the artist made it so.


Then, after you have purchased the piece, put it in a place of honor and joy in your house where you can encounter it again and again, discovering something new every time you meet.

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Do You Want It? Then Buy It.

Those of you who know my alter-ego, Middle Aged Plague, will have read about my recent purchase of a Kindle (I Am (amazon) Woman: Hear Me Roar!


"What an exciting life this woman leads."

She's gorgeous, she'll look great on the wall, and she's available in everything from the original to a print to a note card.

I know.


An ostentatiously ordinary person with personal tastes in which I indulge now and then,  I live as intimately with our household budget as I do with the Norwegian Artist (although I am far, far more enamored of the Norwegian). I'm sure that the word "budget" is not an unfamiliar one in your household.


Which is the point: While I do not indiscriminately spend -- my usual shopping experience involving cheese, canned tomatoes, and butter, sometimes more exciting items like flip flops, printer ink, and stamps -- I do save up for those completely and totally "I want this! I want this!" items, and when the jar is full I dump the coins into an envelope, transfer the funds to the bank, and buy whatever it is I've had my eye on.


Guilt free.


Generally, "I want this!" items are not ones you eat, repair the house with, stuff into bathroom cabinets, or put into the dog's bowl, which makes them difficult to justify because you don't really "need" them, but in a way you do, because they feed that happy little person inside of you who couldn't sleep for weeks before your birthday, or who skipped with joy over a pair of new, wildly outrageous shoes.


Basic brown serviceable shoes that fit right are all your feet really need. (I remember discussions along this topic with my mother when I was a child.) But they're so much less than what you want.


And is it so very bad to admit that you want something that you don't really need? We buy things we don't really need all the time, but because they're part of our everyday purchases, we don't agonize about it:


You don't really need the latte. You could have coffee at home. Better yet, water fulfills your hydration requirements.


Take out pizza? Make it yourself. Actually, whole wheat toast, a banana, and apple juice would probably fulfill the same nutritional needs. Better yet, oatmeal with raisins. It's cheaper.


That's a cute blouse; it looks good on you. But a serviceable, well-constructed t-shirt will last longer and clothe you adequately for less.

The original fills the wall -- 32 x 48 -- the small print is just right for that area above the table in the foyer -- the note card will brighten someone's day, especially with your handwritten message inside.


If you follow this level of extreme practicality to, well, its extreme, then life becomes dull indeed -- kind of like all math and science classes in the semester schedule and no art, no music, no drama, no history, no literature -- just a bunch of numbers and formulas. While it is undoubtedly practical and budget friendly, such economic austerity of the soul eventually takes its toll, and like the dieter who denies himself anything that smacks of a cookie,  you break down one day and binge -- on cheesecake, on cake, on ice cream, on doughnuts.


It would have been so much easier to build the cookie into the diet plan.


So go ahead -- plan for the fun things -- like fine art, which, from us -- because we know what budgets are -- you can get as originals, prints, even note cards, representing a variety of sizes and price ranges. We even set up interest-free payment plans, because we believe that art belongs in the homes of real people, not limited to art museums.


Do you want it?


Then buy it.


All of the work that you see through this site is painted by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Because we believe that real art belongs in the homes of real people with real incomes, we offer Steve's artwork, in addition to its original form, as signed, limited edition prints, miniatures, and note cards for a reachable price. For those of you who want a print but don't know how to frame it, we will do so for you for a nominal extra cost. Contact Us with your questions and we'll work with you to get fine art into your home.


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Do I Have to Be a Full Time Artist to Be a Real Artist?

Given what we’ve discussed in the last two articles, The Question That Never Goes Away and Another Question That Never Goes Away   – you probably have a pretty good idea of what the answer to this one will be, but let’s talk about it.

Time invested in doing well at what you do is the critical factor in achieving success. Sophie and Rose by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

For some reason, people have the idea that if an individual does something part-time, or if he doesn't make a killing on doing it, then he's not really whatever it is that he's doing. By this definition, the volunteer firefighters in many rural communities who put their lives on the line protecting people and property aren’t really firefighters.


Or substitute teachers – what would school systems do without these people? – aren’t really teachers.


Our nuclear physicist – who works part-time because of family obligations – isn’t a real nuclear physicist.


Bit absurd, isn’t it?


But it’s understandable, since an artist doesn’t depend upon a degree, certification, title, or job description to be an artist. He can have those things, or not; and having them doesn’t ensure that he is an artist.


Artists make art.


They don’t talk about making art; they don’t emote about making art; they don’t wax eloquent about making art – people who do that, and stop there, are artistes not artists.


True artists do spend a lot of time creating – the Norwegian Artist paints, others sculpt, work with wood, brass, clay, and beyond the visual arts we have dancers, writers, actors, if I miss one please don’t yell at me, but what they have in common is that they create new things from whatever materials they have on hand, and they’re pretty serious about doing it well and consistently.


A number of these people, who have day jobs on the side, actually do work full time at being artists -- in addition to working full or part-time elsewhere. The goal of many is to drop that day job and exchange it for full time in the studio, and many of them manage this, but those who don't, or those who are in the process of getting there, are by no means not artists. It's time invested, not money made, that is a stronger determination of a person's commitment to being an artist.

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Another Question That NEVER Goes Away

“Am I a Real Artist?”


This question is slightly different from last week’s question, in which nuclear physicists and non-nuclear physicists ask if they are artists – the edition of the word “real” adds new dimension, along the lines of the Velveteen Rabbit.

You are correct in noticing that these are not rabbits. They are, however, stuffing themselves, so there is a connection, of sorts. Deer Above Dixie by Steve Henderson.

Have you read that children’s story by Margery Williams? It’s a great one – a sawdust-stuffed rabbit toy is literally loved to pieces by his little boy owner, but agonizes because he’s not really real – he’s just a stuffed toy, until one day, after the family has thrown him out because he was contaminated during the little boy’s bout with scarlet fever, the Nursery Magic Fairy turns him into a real bunny – one with workable legs andwarm skin and the ability to breathe.


So what is it going to take to turn you into a real artist?


Will it be selling a piece of your art for a certain price, or just selling a piece, period, to someone other than a friend or relative?


Will it be being accepted into a gallery in Scottsdale, AZ or Savannah, GA?


How about winning a prize at a major exhibition, or being accepted into an exhibition in the first place?


You know what it took for the Velveteen Rabbit? Being loved enough, and manhandled enough, and played with enough, and needed and wanted enough to be real. Actually, even when he was still filled with sawdust and didn’t look like a real bunny, he was – deep inside, where it matters.

If you love your art, manhandle your paint brush, play with color, and need and want to create and get better and deeper than what you create – then you, my friend, are a real artist.


Whether or not there’s still sawdust spilling out of you.

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The question that NEVER goes away

“Am I an Artist?”


I can’t help but wonder how many nuclear physicists get up out of bed each morning and ask themselves whether they are nuclear physicists.

If it looks like a goose, honks like a goose, and nips like a goose, it's probably a goose. Geese on the Snake by Steve Henderson

Granted, if one is a nuclear physicist, one has concrete evidence of the fact – education, background, job title, and hours of working each day with whatever it is that nuclear physicists work with – but an artist has a few concrete pieces of evidence as well:


Paint; canvas; brushes; paper; pencils; clay; some sort of easel, palette, or workspace – all of which are jumbled together somehow to create a painting, sculpture, piece of jewelry, or some other product that others look at and call “art.”


So it would only make sense to call the person who made it an “artist.”


Ah, but nothing in life is simple, and many people – some of whom are nuclear physicists – work at a day job and do art on the side, in the evenings, on the weekends, in place of eating lunch – and while what they produce looks like a painting or a sculpture or a piece of jewelry, they torture themselves by asking all the time,


“Am I an artist?”


“Am I a real artist?”


Some people ask themselves this so much that they stop producing whatever artwork they have been producing, until they can get an answer to the question.


But to some extent, does it really matter?


And whose definition of “artist” are you using anyway?


This is what I recommend: go ahead, keep asking yourself the question if you insist, but don’t stop creating whatever it is that you create, and don’t let the question fill your mind and crowd out ideas for your next piece of work.


Your next piece of Art work, that is.

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Treating Yourself in Today's Economy

"Do people still buy fine art in this economy?"


My mother, ever the practical woman who lived through the Depression and successfully raised five kids to adulthood, always has good questions.

Available as an original, print, or miniature study, The Pataha is an example of fine art that meets the needs of various budgets.

The answer is, "yes," but as in everything in this ever-changing, never-got-your-finger-on-it economy, they do it differently.


Ten years ago, when house prices were literally and unsustainably going through the roof, people purchased art, as they purchased many things, as an impulse item. Today's buyer, however -- especially collectors who live real-people lives with mortgages and angst at the gas pump -- looks at the art several times, oftentimes contacting the artist directly via e-mail, phone, or in person to discuss the work itself, as well as the price, payment information, and payment plans, if available.


The result is that, when the collector takes home the painting, he or she feels good about the purchase, because it was made with an eye to the budget. It's actually a better, more sustainable, and less stressful way of treating oneself.


Artists, as well, are finessing their products to the need of the marketplace, many offering fine art, archival prints of their paintings, some for the price of a bottle of good wine or a family evening at the movie theater. The difference is, once the wine is gone or the movie is over, the money is gone; but with the print, the art stays, becoming a part of the buyer's daily life.


At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we are committed to getting real art into the lives and homes of real people, and for this reason we welcome hearing from you who are interested in Steve's work. If you've never contacted an artist before, don't be shy or feel that this is something "real collectors" don't do. Increasingly, collectors across the board are finding that direct contact with the artist, before and after purchasing the work, enhances their appreciation of their collection.


Good questions always deserved to be asked, and they deserve good answers. You can reach us through our Contact Form on the Steve Henderson Fine Art Gallery website.

We also offer a complete line of Signed, Limited Edition Prints, starting at $55, and regularly offer Workshops for those pursuing their painting path.


These are not easy days in which to live -- there is much uncertainty. There is, however, also much beauty in the world around us, and a painting -- be it original or a print -- captures that beauty and allows us to lose ourselves in it, over and over, any time of the day or night.

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The Secret to Success

No one wants to be a failure, in their own eyes or that of others. For this reason, there is a preponderance of books, DVDs, and other teaching matter designed to teach us -- be we artists, knitters, marathon runners, short order cooks, or gardeners -- the secrets to successfully doing anything we have an interest in doing.

Producing a beautiful painting is less a matter of absorbing a series of secret techniques as it is grounding yourself in the basics, continuously learning, constantly experimenting, and painting, painting, painting.

Do you want to know the sure-fire methods to paint the perfect portrait? There's a DVD for that.


How about marketing your work and getting into  any show you try for? There's a book for that.

The fail-safe way of communicating with with any human being and  getting them to do whatever it is you want them to do?  DVD and book.


If there's something that you want to learn how to do, not only is there a corresponding workshop, seminar, video product, book, class, or teacher, but too many of these resources promise to impart secrets that you didn't know existed, and you obviously don't have.


It reminds me  of the vitamin ads. Or the "You, Too, Can Be a Millionaire Using my Unique Techniques" books. The problem does not lie in the actual  imparting of information -- after all, that's why we buy books and attend workshops and watch DVDs -- because we want to learn, and these resources, hopefully, have the information we need to do so.


The problem lies in a promise that is more than anyone can deliver:  the secret to success.


Seriously, if there were such a thing, how long do you think that it could be kept a secret?


And yet, we keep chasing after it, convinced that we alone are out of the loop, that we're poor because we don't follow techniques 1 through 6, that if we're savvy enough to find the right resource then we'll join the ranks of the elite.


Logic tells us, however, that if we're going to run a triathlon and finish it, much less place anywhere, then we're looking at months of disciplined training: working out, day after day, even when we don't feel like it; eating right, to the point of saying no to cheesecake; running in the wind, bicycling uphill, swimming when it's cold -- continuously keeping at it and incrementally improving.


If there's any secret to success, that's it.

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"Feelings" Isn't Just a Song That We All Wish We Could Forget

When I want to watch the Norwegian Artist cringe, I hum the 1974 Morris Albert song, "Feelings," which, if you haven't heard it, goes something like this:


"Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings. Wo-wo-wo feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings. Wo-wo-wo feeeeel you .  . . again . . . in my arms."

Paintings are emotional things, because they draw forth from the very depths of our being. Creating them takes two types of feelings: definition one and definition two. Catching the Breeze by Steve Henderosn

Believe me, once you've heard it, you never feel the same about feelings again.


Feelings are funny things, and if you are over the age of two, you've probably internalized the advice that you shouldn't make decisions based upon them. While this is good advice, it doesn't take into account that there are two wildly divergent meanings for feelings, and too often,we confuse the two:


Feelings, definition one: our emotions. Artists are familiar with this definition, not only because societal wisdom asserts that they are a tangled mass of uncontrolled emotional angst, but also because they do seek -- through their skill, discipline, and thought, to imbue both raw and controlled emotion into their work.


Feelings, definition two: our visceral gut reaction -- call it instinct -- based upon the compendium of our background, experience, analytical ability, and intelligence.


Definition two, which is not what Morris was crooning about, is the one we want to pay more attention to, but frequently do not, because we confuse it with definition one.


Think of it, how many times have you found yourself in a situation and thought, "Something about this doesn't feel right"?

And your next thought is probably, "But I shouldn't make decisions based upon my emotions."


Let's add a third thought: You're not making a decision based upon your emotions. You're making a decision upon that visceral internal voice -- the one that subconsciously collects information from your past and your present and gives you distinctive, sometimes urgent, advice about what you're planning to do with your future.


There is nothing wrong, and quite a bit right, about listening to this inner voice. It will guide you in everything from the next subject matter of your painting to whether or not you really want to sign that contract with the art museum, and one of the worst things that we can do is ignore it because we're afraid that we are being led forward by our ever-changing emotions as opposed to the extreme inner sanctum of our intellectual voice.


We need both kinds of feelings, in our control, to move forward as artists and artist businesspeople.


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Is Art a Luxury?

Let's talk about this term, luxury, first.


A luxury is something that you don't really need, and by that definition, lots of things fall into this category.


We need shelter; we need protection from the elements; we need food; we need water; we need air.


That being said, the shelter could be a hovel, and as long as it keeps us warm and dry, then anything more is a luxury.


Food? What we need is enough to sustain life -- rice and beans should do the trick, but most of us prefer to go beyond that. Technically, the steak, potatoes and spinach salad, along with the chocolate pie for dessert, that you ate last week is a major, major luxury.


Do you see where I'm going here?


Anything that goes beyond what we truly need to sustain life can be defined as a luxury.


You need a car to get to work; fine. It doesn't have to be a Cadillac, but if it makes you happy when it is, and if you can afford it, why not?


You need a phone to do your job; it doesn't have to be cute and small and smarter than you are, but if it makes you happy when it is, and you can afford it, why not?


You need clothes because you don't live in a nudist colony; they don't have to be form fitting and flattering, but if it makes you happy when it is, and you can afford it, why not?


You want something on your wall that makes you smile and feel happy every time you look at it. That's a painting. You don't eat it, wear it, or live inside it, so it's technically a luxury, but if it makes you happy and you can afford it, why not?

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Steve Henderson the Baseball Player and Steve Henderson the Artist

I had no idea there was a Steve Henderson the baseball player until after we launched our art website years ago and I Googled the Norwegian Artist's name, Steve Henderson. Naturally, since we had been online for, oh, say a week or two by that time, the baseball player came up first.


"Who is this man?" I thought. "Does he paint, too?"

Men, rocks, and rivers -- an intriguing combination. Where the River Bends, available as an original and limited edition print, by Steve Henderson, the artist.

As time went by and the Norwegian Artist participated in shows and joined societies and sold paintings and was represented by galleries and showed up in articles, the artist Steve Henderson, the real one from my perspective, began to clamber his way up the search engine pages, and I hadn't given a thought to the baseball guy until we, the Norwegian and I, were walking by a river and the Norwegian picked up a rock and threw it across to the other side (do all men do this? what is it about rocks that impels the average man to pick them up and throw them?)


"I should have been a baseball player," he said with a grin.


"Actually, you sort of are," I replied.


Perhaps the other Steve Henderson, the baseball one, found himself on top of a ladder one day, swathing the living room wall with broad brushstrokes when he turned to his wife (is he married? I don't know), and said,


"I should have been a painter."


"You aren't," she would have replied. "There is only one Steve Henderson, the painter, the Norwegian Artist."

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Should You Take a Workshop?

I deliberately entitled this post using a word that I have eliminated from my vocabulary: Should.


Too often we do things not because they are right for our particular situation, or because we are grown ups and can use the words “want to” without sounding like recalcitrant toddlers, but because we have this vague idea that others – who know more than we do – expect certain behavior.

Workshops are great little animals; my own Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, regularly teaches them, and his students, depending upon why they are there and how they approach the opportunity, move forward in widely divergent fashions.


Some people are serial workshop takers, collecting the names of their numerous instructors like knitters stash yarn. Others are there for the first time, glancing covertly at everyone else’s brushes and paint tubes and specialized plastic art boxes and convincing themselves that they are the only ones there who know absolutely nothing.


The best students, and the ones who leave most satisfied, are confident enough in themselves to realize that everyone does things differently, but humble enough to recognize that there is much good in trying something new. These students are here, not because they feel they ought to be, but because they want to be – they listen with an open mind, ask pointed questions, absorb the answers given to not only their own questions, but to the questions of others, and use the limited workshop time to its full advantage.


They’re taking the workshop because they like the instructor’s work and want to hear more about how he/she accomplishes it.


Should you take a workshop?


Misleading question.


Do you want to?

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Licking the Dog's Nose

A friend mentioned to me that someone challenged her to read, within one year, a particularly long and demanding book.




“I didn’t really want to do it,” she confessed. “But the man challenging me is knowledgeable and he was insistent, so I did.”


My first thought was, “Why?” which goes to show why I don’t play well in groups, followed by, “That’s as reasonable as children accepting a dare – to lick the dog’s nose, say – simply because someone confronted them and told them to do so.”


Within art circles, people challenge themselves to do all sorts of odd things – like paint the same tree, every day for three months -- simply because someone who wrote a book did so and instructed readers to do the same.




I mean, do you really want to paint the same tree, 90 days in succession? With the limited time that you have to pursue painting, is this what you want to do?


If the answer is no with the caveat, “But he’s knowledgeable and he’s insistent that this is how I will grow as an artist,” then reconsider licking the dog’s nose.


The idea of regularly painting over the course of 90 days, so that you can get gently ensconce yourself into the habit of doing so, isn’t such a bad one, and maybe that is one of the things the author is trying to teach. But you can accomplish this by announcing to your people in the room, “For the next 90 days, I will be in the studio from 6 to 8 p.m., painting.”


And then go paint. What you want. How you want. One work every day, or seven days for one work. The very act of doing it regularly (it’s okay to miss a day; don’t get weird) will propel you to the next level, on your terms.


Dare you.

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What is the difference between an Original and a Print?

The obvious answer to this question is that an original painting is one of a kind, and when you purchase an original, you purchase the only one in existence.

A print, which can be done on all sorts of papers, using all types of inks and employing different kinds of printers, is a multiple of an original, and when you buy a print, you are buying one of many – an unlimited many, in the case of what is called an unlimited run; or a specific one of many, as in a limited edition run of 50 prints, which means that only 50 prints of a particular painting, in a particular size and on a particular paper or canvas, are created before the artist removes the printed work – again in a particular size on a particular subsurface – from circulation.

Many people like knowing that they own the only one of a particular painting, and they are willing to pay the price to the artist for this privilege. Other people, however, wish to collect fine art on their walls, but they do not have the budget to pay for an original. For these collectors, a print is an affordable way to enjoy the unique work of a particular artist.

Because the artist does not need to invest hours and hours of painting time into creating each print, he is able to offer the item at a lower price, while at the same time providing the collector with access to his, the artist’s work.

At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we sell original oil and watercolor paintings, limited edition prints on archival paper and stretched canvas, and miniatures and studies, so that we can provide our collectors with a variety of sizes and price ranges from which to choose. Within this spectrum of variety, what remains consistent is the quality of the work – both its artistic excellence as well as the superiority of the materials on which it is painted or reproduced.

Next week: What does "Archival Quality" mean and why is this important?

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The Experts Aren't Always Worth Listening To


When the Norwegian Artist studied art at the university, his professors urged him and all the rest of the students to "find your style, find your subject matter, and stick with that one thing. You need to be known for a certain size of work, a specific color palette, and one kind of subject matter."


When you're 23 and your professors are in their 50s, it doesn't occur to you to ask back,


"But you don't actually show or sell your work yourself. What makes you think that this way of thinking works?"


When Steve became an illustrator, in order to put food on the family table, he quickly discovered that the ability to create wildly divergent subject matter in multiple color palettes embracing a spectrum of styles was not only an advantage to him as an artist -- a great learning curve for increasing your skills -- but also a requirement of the job. Twenty years of this enabled him to do a lot of experimentation and move forward in his understanding of various media and style.


As a fine artist, he enjoys painting representationalism with an impressionistic flair, but he does not insist that every painting be approached, or handled the same way: only thick paint, or only glazing, or only deep shadows, or only strong contrast -- the subject matter, the size of the work, the mood of the piece dictate the other elements involved in bringing the scene that his artist's eyes see to completion on canvas.


"Artists artificially limit themselves by this outdated -- and probably never valid -- notion that they must be 'known' for a specific style or subject matter," Steve says. "They're not selling flash drives. And come to think of it, even flash drives are coming out in different forms -- I saw one shaped like a bird that looked like a toy that a child would get in a fast food meal."


In the back of his mind, Steve has a half-dozen paintings ready to paint when he finishes the one he is presently painting, and the queue includes figurative, seascape, landscape, still life, with the final result being one of these, or none at all but something completely different, the choice being made, basically, by what he feels like doing.


"If an artist does not feel free to experiment," Steve says, "how will he ever grow? How will he ever discover a technique that brings about an effect he has been searching for? Artists are humans, not machines, and the very nature of humans is that we explore, dare, push limits, and create."

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What Is a Study? How Is It Different from a Miniature?


A study is a preliminary work, generally quite small, that an artist paints before embarking on the larger project, with the idea of testing out the subject matter, coloration, and composition to make sure that everything works together smoothly and well. Different artists do studies for different reasons, but Steve's major purpose is to create an informal color map, ensuring that the colors that work on the small scale stay true when he paints the larger piece.


"It is easy," he says, "to overwork your colors, blending and overblending until you have mud, and the study lays out the piece's palette in condensed form. If the colors work on the small scale, they'll work on the large scale, and I use the study as a reference to keep me true to the visual impact that I initially established."


Not all artists do studies, but when you find one who does, you have an opportunity to own an original oil painting for a very affordable price. Because the pieces are generally smaller (well under 144 square inches) and more loosely painted, the price reflects this; and the more relaxed style mimics that of many plein aire pieces.


Because many studies are small, they are also classified as miniatures, but not all miniatures are studies. Some artists specialize in smaller works of intricate detail, sometimes to the point of using a magnifiying class so that they can focus on what they are doing, and employing a thin brush of no more than a few bristles. In this case, although the piece is small, its very intricacy demands a higher price.


Steve has created a separate category for studies on his website -- Miniatures and Studies -- in the Original Paintings section -- and like all of his studio works, studies and miniatures are available for secure purchase through PayPal (even for those who do not have a PayPal account) by hitting the Buy Now button.


Works that are not in the studio because they are at a gallery or show are available by following the link provided, and, as always, we work individually with clients who contact us at


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Insecurity -- Looking around never makes it better


One time, when the Norwegian Artist was teaching a beginning watercolor workshop, one of the students looked about and said, "I must be the only true beginner in here. Look at everyone else -- they all have so many paintbrushes and so much paint!"


It's interesting the different conclusions we come to based upon the same observations.


When the Norwegian Artist -- who has one, very expensive watercolor brush that he uses pretty much exclusively -- sees brand new plastic carriers filled with a plethora of lightly used paint tubes and a bouquet of brushes and other tools, he thinks,


"I wonder how much they actually paint versus the time they spend organizing and arranging their materials?"


More than one of the Norwegian Artist's students, and frequently a number of them in the same class, approach him privately and apologize for being the only true beginner in the class, and his response is a variation on the theme:


"It doesn't matter where you're starting from, it matters that you're going someplace."


And interestingly, many of the people who are self-conscious about being the only beginner, once they drop the fear of that (whether or not it is true) wind up learning a tremendous amount and progressing far on their journey as artists, simply because they know that they have much to learn and they're willing to set about doing so.


Because we're all human, we all have our moments of insecurity, but looking around and comparing our situation (which we know quite well) to our impression of other people's situation (about which we know very little) unnecessarily compounds the problem, and indeed, can actually block us from our goal of progressing beyond the present.


Workshops and classes are great opportunities to learn, and if you find one that fits your needs and learning style, go for it with enthusiasm and abandon, unhindered by comparison with the other students in the room. After all, when you're looking about, you're not looking ahead.

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Where is that Muse Person?

We know some artists who rarely paint because, deep down, they are afraid that they will run out of ideas. So they find any reason, any reason at all, to do anything but paint -- clean the garage, renovate the upstairs bathroom, shampoo the dog.


"I am waiting for the Muse to inspire me," they say.



One wonders perhaps if the Muse is getting bored for lack of anything to do. Oddly enough, the more we do something, the less we have to think about what we'll do next; it is when we are in the midst of working on a series of projects that more ideas come to our mind, not when we're cleaning out the garage (think of it -- as you're stacking and labeling the boxes, isn't your next thought along the lines of, "Better get the lawn mower winterized, and after that, the kitchen faucet's been dripping," as opposed to, "Boxes . . . that angular shape reminds me of granite rocks tumbling over the surface of a hillside. I must paint!")


Some of those who do manage to get out of the garage and paint find themselves dabbing at the same work for weeks at a time, in ten-minute increments now and then -- Dab dab. Dab. Dab dab dab. The blues mix with the greens and bleed into the reds until everything looks brown.


When the Norwegian Artist was in college, professors and fellow students alike put down the concept of "prostituting themselves" as artists by working at a 40-hour-a-week job as an illustrator or a graphic artist -- "This isn't pure art," they asserted -- and yet Steve has found that his 20 years in the business world, as both a professional illustrator and a graphic artist -- have trained him to be a better fine artist:


"Art directors don't want to hear that the assignment isn't ready because the Muse wasn't with me," he said. Day after day, year after year, he trained himself to work on good days and bad,  putting forth top effort into every piece, until his default became not waiting for the Muse, but starting the project without her.

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An Unusual Way of Getting Your Art into a Museum

Recently in Poland, my homeland that I've never actually been in, a young art student chose to forgo standard procedure and covertly hung one of his paintings in a major Warsaw gallery.


“I decided that I will not wait 30 or 40 years for my works to appear at a place like this,” Sobiepan told reporters. “I want to benefit from them in the here and now.”


So do we all, son.


While I smile at his effrontery -- and wonder at how he smuggled a painting in, past the guard, and managed to pound a nail up there without anyone noticing -- I am also consternated that such an attitude reaps its own reward: while the museum took down the painting from its briefly stolen space, they re-hung it in their cafe. And the artist is reaping attention and benefits because of what he did -- not because of what he paints.


"Someone will buy it just because of the story behind it," the Norwegian Artist said at the breakfast table this morning. "His career is made, not based upon his skill as a painter, but because of his nerve." (Actually, the N.A. used another term that rhymes with "halls" or "stalls.")


It is eminently understandable the young man's frustration at getting through to museum officials, gallery personnel, magazine editors, professional art organizations -- any group sets up its criteria, and after awhile, that criteria can get in the way of its original intention: to seek and showcase fine art, whether it is done by an established name or by a struggling, emerging artist.


Realistically, some good art gets shown, but so does bad art, simply because once the artist has broken the barrier and made his name, he could paint old Playboy calendars from the mechanic's back room with compost-derived paint and get it hung, showcased, admired and sold.


So the young man decided to take a short cut.


But in the same way most of us have learned to be wary of Uncle Rob's famous short cut that shaves 30 miles off the trip, our common sense tells us that anything worth having is worth working for. If the old guard doesn't work -- if the museums close their ears and the major art organizations pick the same old things over and over for their prize winners and the galleries sniff that they're full and the magazines print a new article about the same artist three issues in succession -- then find a different road.


Not only will it not be a short cut, it will probably be longer, and since it isn't very well used, it won't be as easy to follow, but it will get you to a different destination, with different scenery along the way.





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New Year's Resolutions That We Can Keep


I'm not big into New Year's Resolutions.


I know, lots of people say that, but I actually mean it. I don't deliberately make promises -- to myself or others -- that I can't keep.


That being said, there's no reason why we can't pursue improving ourselves -- all through the year -- and if an arbitrary date spurs us into trying to make  positive changes in our lives, then Happy New Year, everyone.


The key thing about successfully making changes, however, is reality, something distinctly missing from our brains after four weeks of too much chocolate, alcohol, drearily depressing office parties and too little exercise, sleep, and time with a good book. Too often, when we set our goals, we set up unrealistic ones -- not because they're too big, but because achieving them is beyond our control.


Like this favorite:


"I'm going to lose ten pounds."




By eating better? By exercising more? Even if you succeed at this, you may or may not lose ten pounds, because what you drop in fat you may gain in muscle. Ultimately, you cannot control whether you lose those ten pounds, but you can control what you do in your plan to get there: you can eat better. You can exercise more. And by doing so, you may lose ten pounds.


So let's put this into the life of the artist, (who may, or may not, incidentally, want to lose ten pounds):


"I'm going to improve my sales this year!"




By advertising more? By participating in more shows? By attending every artist's reception in a 35-mile radius and hobnobbing with the gallery staff (easy on the truffles and cookies, by the way, or you may gain ten pounds)?


These latter three are actions that you can control, and they may or may not result in increased sales, which you ultimately can't control.


I think our fascination with New Year's resolutions arises from a sense of discontent with where we are, and the perception (accurate sometimes, inaccurate others) that our dissatisfaction with our lot stems from some lack, some failure on our part. So, at the end of an old year and the beginning of a next, we list out all the things we want to change so that, by this time next year, we'll be stronger, better, faster, richer.


But improving ourselves is a lifelong process, and the ultimate gain in who we are is the result of deepseated changes at the core of our being: it's not that we're thinner, or more popular, or wealthier, or the possessor of two thousand Facebook followers, it's that we're kinder and more patient, smiling more and frowning less, thanking the person who bags our groceries, offering the benefit of the doubt to the idiot who just cut us off in traffic, listening to a child's loooooooooonnnnnnnng convoluted story of last night's dream when we really want to check our e-mail.


Those slow, deepseated changes -- which arise through little decisions we make as we move through the day -- through time transform us into different, better people who approach our art each day in a different, better way.


The changes may or may not result in better sales and a slimmer physique, but better sales and a slimmer physique, regardless of what we think, do not make us happier people. Being better people, deeper, more genuine people who are solid to the core, is a solid step toward finding what we're looking for.


Happy New Year, Everyone!

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The Art -- Not the Artist -- in All of Us


It is popular to say -- so that no one feels bad -- "We are all artists!"


But we're not, really, any more than that we are all physicists, or all machinists, or all five star chefs. Art, like any profession, requires discipline, study, aptitude, perseverence, and work, and I've delved into this more deeply in We Are Not All Artists, (Epoch Times, June 13, 2011).


But not to despair -- while there may not be an artist within each of us, there is art, and each one of us is an individual, created work of beauty that may or may not look attractive to the world outside. It all depends, really, with what we do with the inside of ourselves.


When an artist paints or sculpts a subject, he spends time looking at the subject, studying it, with the goal of translating the essence of that subject to the canvas or the clay. The more successfully the artist 1) figures out the subject and 2) tranlslates it to artistic form, the more successful the finished piece.


Ironically, the more an artist concentrates on a "message" or "statement," the less pleasing the finished project, because too much of the artist and his opinions and beliefs and prejudices, as opposed to the essence of what he is painting or sculpting, comes through. In another twist of irony, when the artist successfully focuses on the subject, the artist, in his own essence, successfully emerges as well. His message makes it, almost in spite of himself.


So it is with the art inside of us. When we focus on others -- the people in our lives, both good and bad, with their problems and dreams and joys and sorrow -- we create brushstrokes and color in our own souls that make us into better people, happier people, more content, at peace, and stable.


And yet, when we pursue happiness as our primary goal, we are like the artist who propounds his message, his thoughts, his opinions and shoves them into the painting or sculpture -- the more we actively seek to be happy, the less so that we are. The more we seek the happiness of others, the more we find it in ourselves.


In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, the main character, Alice, finds that, in order to get where she really wants to go, she has to head in the opposite direction, because when she beelines toward her objective, she constantly finds herself back where she started.


We live in a Looking Glass world, a beautiful place with terrible imperfections, a reflection of a better place not marred by those imperfections. Like Alice, in order to get where we want to go, we must sometimes do the opposite of what makes sense, because much of what makes sense to us is based upon on desire to take care of ourselves, our needs, our wants, our desires.


These can be met, but only if, like the artist, we focus outside ourselves and on the subjects in our lives.

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Open for Business


You'd think that with an artist in permanent residence, there would be ample paintings for the walls, even if we do get to enjoy them only until they're sold. But the Norwegian Artist, like many artists, enjoys collecting the works of colleagues, especially those whom we get to know personally, or, e-personally.


To this end, I was at a gallery last week and was just at the point of purchasing a miniature by a talented watercolorist. But I decided to go to lunch first and finalize the purchase in my mind. (This is another great reason for artists to purchase art -- you begin to understand the mindset of a purchaser and see that you, too, do not lightly and impulsively undertake the additions to your collection.)


"How long are you open?" I asked the gallery associate.


"Three p.m.," he answered.


So off I went for Thai red curry beef and coconut ice cream with black bean sauce (this latter is oddly tasty, not remotely resembling refried beans over ice cubes). At 2:40 I was back -- to a closed gallery.


While apparently, according to a second associate, it had been a slow day, this really isn't a good reason to close up shop 20 minutes, or even five minutes, early. In our little town, we have a bakery that is successful through no efforts of its own, since it regularly runs out of popular items, employs baristas who cannot make the same two coffee orders resemble one another, and indiscriminately closes early when things feel slow and everyone just feels like wandering on home.


Do not try this in your own business.


Maybe you're like us, with a studio open by appointment and with much of your communication done via e-mail, phone, and the website -- in this case, while your day doesn't necessarily run from 8 to 5, you also don't have to be on board 24/7. You just have to be on top of things enough to respond well within a business day to an inquiring client or gallery. While I may send an inquiry out at 11 p.m. on a Friday, I sure don't expect a response until Monday or Tuesday, and most people are of the same level of reasonability.


But if you do have regular, posted hours, will you please keep them?


Regarding that watercolor, I still want it, and it's not the artist's fault that the place closed early. I will, however, let him know, so that he can let his gallery know, and hopefully, I can enjoy a green chicken curry this time, polished off by more coconut ice cream and black bean sauce, with a final dessert of that gorgeous little watercolor.

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How Do Artists Price Their Paintings?

Great question.


As you may suspect if you have looked at a lot of art, there is no centralized standard by which paintings are priced. If clothing were sized the way artwork is priced, you could be a size 2 and weigh 550 pounds.


But paintings, in a way, are like cars, and often their price is based upon the name and perceived status of the artist (the more well known the artist, the higher the price). The high price does not necessarily denote the quality of the painting so much as the demand for the artist's work, namely because people deem it "collectible" and plan to sell it, at a later date, for more than they bought it for.


A Realtor relative encapsulated it thus:


"Something is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it."


That being said, if you are out to buy art because you like it on your walls, and not because you see it as a financial investment, then you can find reasonably priced, well done prices for something that fits into your budget. These works are done by what we call "emerging" or "mid-range" artists -- people who can be quite good at what they do, but who do not yet have the publicity name value that escalates the price upward.


Many of these painters achieve their retail price by comparing their works with other painters of similar style and career level. Generally, the smaller the painting, the lower the price, but even a miniature work will command a higher price if it incorporates detail that required extra time on the part of the painter.


Keep in mind that many artists offer their work framed, and a decent frame costs money. If the artist is selling the piece through the gallery, they owe the selling party a commission, often between 30 and 60 percent, and the artist's take has to pay for that frame and any shipping costs of getting the work to the gallery.


And although all paintings require time and material on the part of the artist, not all paintings sell, or at least not the moment they leave the easel, so artists build this risk factor into the price of their paintings.


Do not expect to pay $50 or $100 for a well done original painting, because no artist can make a serious living selling his work for this price. Think about your dentist -- as much as you would like to walk out of that office owing $10, what would you think of the man or woman's professional abilities if that is what they charged after all of their education and experience?


If you like an artist's work but are unsure about the price, feel free to write him or her and open up a conversation. Some may rebuff you, but others will not, and it seriously never hurts to ask. And remember this: while on your end, you do not want to feel cheated, on the artist's end, he/she does not want to haggle and bargain simply because the client has the idea that this is a flea market and wants to get the piece for a super great deal way lower than retail price.



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