My Artwork, My Dream, and My Fears

I have a question for you. What’s the one thing you really want to do, but you’re letting fear hold you back? And I’m talking specifically about the fear of what others might think. The fear of criticism.

For me, it has to do with creating and selling my artwork.

To be quite honest, I even feel stupid saying that. My artwork. I feel like I should be calling it “my craft projects” instead, because I’m not a real artist, right? I can’t be. I didn’t go to school to learn about art. I don’t have a fancy degree in fine art. I didn’t learn about composition and colors and famous artists and art history and such in college. (I was too busy learning about Freud and Jung and Skinner and Pavlov.) And I’ve had people tell me right here on my blog that there’s no way I can consider myself an artist since I didn’t do those things.

So when people like me call themselves “artists,” there are always those people who will balk at it and say things like, “Oh my gosh, can you believe SHE thinks she’s an artist? She has no formal training! Can you believe that SHE thinks her so-called artwork is good enough to sell? And for those prices? Who does she think she is?”

I suppose those people intimidate me. But why? Why do those few voices and their potential criticism ring so much louder in my ears than the very real voices (or typed comments) from very real people who ask me on a regular basis, “Kristi, do you sell your artwork? And if so, where can I buy it?”

I don’t know why I let fear hold me back. Why do any of us let fear of potential criticism from others hold us back from what we really want to do?

After all, my mom wasn’t formally trained as an artist. She is totally self-taught. And yet, there’s no way you can convince me that her lack of formal training makes her any less of an artist than those who have degrees in art. As a young girl, I remember other women (and a few men) coming to our house and spending hours in my mom’s studio learning from her during her weekly painting classes. I remember going to art shows where she would have a booth and sell her gorgeous paintings.

She wasn’t formally trained, but she is, without a doubt, an artist. And I would dare anyone to tell me otherwise. (You can click here to see some of her artwork.)

And plus, artists come in so many varieties. There are painters, and sculptors, and mixed media artists, and graffiti artists, and performance artists, and so much more. Add to that the fact that art is so subjective, and who’s to say who’s an artist and who’s not?

My first real attempt at artwork, from 2011

For me, part of the challenge was learning what I personally liked. Having grown up with an amazingly gifted artist for a mom, and one who painted very realistic and detailed paintings, that became the standard for “art” in my mind. But as I got older, I realized that my own personal taste in art was vastly different from my mom’s.

When Matt and I lived in the condo, I started playing around with some very different styles of paintings — paintings that were more modern and abstract. I found that rather than trying to paint something that looked like something in nature, instead I enjoyed abstracts with lots of color and movement. My first attempts aren’t ones that I’d want in my house today, but they helped steer me towards what I really like.

Abstract triptych that I made for the condo

And as I played around more, I soon realized that some of my favorite artwork included mixed media, specifically a combination of various paint colors and layered textural items.

Iridescent “fish scale” artwork that I made for the condo

My favorite piece to date is the pinwheel that I have above my mantel in the living room. I stare at it several times a day, and just love the color and texture it adds.

Pinwheel artwork in my living room

I do still like to do nature paintings, but now I’ve learned that my own preference is for them to be more colorful, fanciful, and whimsical and less realistic and detailed.

Paintings I did for the breakfast room

So my own favorite type of artwork to look at and to have in my house is mixed media, generally with paints and one shape repeated over and over (often in layers) for lots of color and texture. I’m about to start a piece that will hopefully end up in my music room that consists of 6,400 small wood pieces. Yikes! I must be crazy! 😀 But it’s a vision I’ve had in my head for weeks, and I can’t stop obsessing about it until I actually try it. It’ll probably take me a month to finish.

But the paintings I get asked about the most (by people wanting to purchase them) are the ones in my entryway.

Acrylic paintings in my entryway

I think there are a lot of people out there like me who don’t necessarily want a painting of a tree, or a landscape, or a seascape, but who just love color and movement, and possibly the hint of something, like an ocean wave, or a cloudy sky, without actually being pictures of those things.

At the beginning of the year, I said one of my goals for this year was to create more art. So far, I’ve done one piece — the pinwheel. That’s it in four-and-a-half months. And that’s not good. While getting my studio finished and getting my exterior projects finished are definitely important things, I’m the type of person who gets re-energized by creative, artistic projects. Without those, I start to lose all motivation.

So this needs to become a bigger part of my life. And I really want to stop putting people off who ask me, “Kristi, do you sell your artwork?” So far, my standard answer has been, “Well, I don’t right now, but I might possibly in the future!” I need to put my fear aside and make the future now. So for those of you who have asked me that question, the answer from this point forward will be “yes.” I have no idea how to go about it, but I’ll figure it out soon. And I probably won’t sell anything I’ve made for my own house (originals or prints), but I will probably do very similar things in the future.

So I’ll circle back around to you. What’s the thing you’re wanting to do but fear (especially fear of criticism) is holding you back?

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes ever.

The majority of the time, the people who are the harshest critics are creative cowards. They are bystanders on the sidelines of life who risk nothing and create nothing.” –Marie Forleo

Let’s not let those people’s voices be louder in our heads than the voices from those who are cheering for us. Starting today, I’m saying “no” to the fear of criticism. Join me!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 10:43 am

    A very capable inlaw of mine got thru an engineering degree program with scholarships, abstract art she made, and the occasional loan (just ma and dad). If you have an audience, especially those that are willing to pay a fair price for your time & work, why not try it out as a supplement to your income? I believe you have enough of a head to gauge how well it’ll work. If you are concerned you are not an artist, because you have no “classical” training you are holding yourself back.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Laura Laskey
    May 10, 2018 at 11:14 am

    My very favorite painting of your Mom’s is the 1977 landscape that you used in a few different places. I have always thought it was beautiful!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Beautiful post! I think you’re both an artist and a crafts-woman! Too often in life we let other people’s words crawl in to our heads. It’s weird how we give these people power over our thoughts and even our actions. Forget them! I never believed that an artist needed formal training to be considered an artist. So stop letting those people and their malicious words hinder you any further. “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cheryl Young
    May 10, 2018 at 11:24 am

    I feel that an “artist” is so by talent not by education. The way a person sees and creates and is able to then translate that into a body of work and have it be successful. That is an artist.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Art is so subjective. I understand, there are those who have studied art and maybe have a deeper understanding of art than the average person, but it doesn’t make them an artist. My youngest studied art and still doesn’t consider herself an artist. I have considered her an artist since she was 9. LOL I think we are our own worst enemy when it comes to insecurity about things we are passionate about. I love to bake, I do not consider myself a pastry chef but there are those who ask where I studied, because they love my treats…..and then there are those who contend unless you studied professionally, you can not call yourself a pastry chef. Titles, in my opinion, are unnecessary. Do what you love. Sell your artwork and know, not everyone is your customer. We all have different ideas and appreciate different things. Your artwork is awesome. You are an artist!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Yes! I’ve been hoping you might sell pieces someday. You are an artist. I love your art and I’m planning to be a customer!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Do you know the Darius Rucker song that says, ” when was the last time you did something for the first time” ? When you ask people that question, many have a hard time coming up with an answer. I applaud you for all the creative things you do. I love reading your blog and being inspired. Yes, you are an artist!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Art is only art if an observer appreciates it and is only valued at what a consumer will pay. Training is definitely an advantage to those who are fortunate to have it but it does not define whether they are an artist Or not. I’ve seen work from trained artist that to me was a waste of canvas. It is all relative to individual taste. So be brave and put yourself out there. Not everyone is going to like your work but many will.
    As for your question what are you afraid of ? Basically the same thing as you . I am in the creative world too and I get so many request for commission work but I am afraid to step out of my comfort zone. I find the majority of creative people are insecure about their on ability because it is second nature to them . We think because we can do this thing so easily anybody can. What makes me think I am special enough that someone would pay me for my art work.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kathy from Tennessee
      May 10, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Yes, yes, yes and yes. I wholeheartedly agree with CLHays

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Only you decide if you are an artist by creating art. Others decide if you will be a successful, self-supporting artist or a starving one.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Kristi, Never doubt that you are gifted. God has passed your mothers creative talent on to you. Carry on my friend ! The world always tells us we need that degree behind us. God doesn’t care about the degree, He cares about what’s in the heart. I can see He has been preparing the way for that beautiful “Art Studio”, not craft room. perfect lighting, perfect space.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Bravo! Bravo!!!!!

    In my opinion, Kristi, you are an artist and your home has been your canvas.

    Looking forward to seeing you flesh this out.

    And thanks for the nudge to get past my own stinkin’ thinkin’! Self limiting thoughts are USELESS!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Debbie Elliott
    May 10, 2018 at 11:40 am

    I’m dismayed that someone would make that kind of comment to you. I think it’s hurtful and so unnecessary. You have so much talent in such a vast array of ways, that you have earned the right to call yourself an artist however, I think of you as Wonder Woman.

    Do people who put their art in art shows, art festivals, etc. all have formal training? Doubtful!
    Do musicians making an insane amount of money call themselves musicians? Of course they do!

    Believe in yourself, because we all do. That’s why we continue to follow you.

    Keep your chin up, paint brushes out, and go for it!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Agree. Kristi – You should call yourself Wonder Woman since you can do it all.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Kristi please do consider yourself an artist! If you still have that painting you did in 2011 and want to sell it please please let me know! It reminds me so much of my happy place, the Oregon coast, that I would love to put it in my home. Just looking at it on your blog made me feel at peace and I could certainly use more peace in my life!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Kristi- My aunt was a celebrated artist who was listed in Who’s Who in American Artists. She even had an exhibit in the Louvre years back. She was a self taught realist who dabbled in surreal art as well. Her paintings, especially her portraits, were exquisite. She won numerous awards in art competitions including our state official Christmas card design. Why should your “credentials” matter. It’s your creativity that counts. I would think if people buy your artwork then you ARE an artist.
    I am an antique reproduction doll artist. A fellow doll maker whom I admire makes dolls that are so well done they can’t be discerned from the antiques she is reproducing. She has no “credentials” either, she is a former ER nurse who decided to pursue her dream and make dolls her profession, and her dolls sell for thousands of dollars apiece.
    Credentials are nice but they can’t buy talent where none exists. Your paintings are lovely. Follow your heart and follow your dreams. We always fail when we refuse to try.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

    Art is a very personal thing….you either like something or you don’t. There is nothing that says you have to go to school to become an artist…you either have talent or you don’t. I have NO art talent, whatsoever, therefore, going to the best art school available is NOT going to make me an artist, it would be a total waste of money. Just because I have no talent doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate good artwork when I see it…and girl, you have talent.
    I say if someone wants to commission you to your artwork, you should accept it. They obviously think it is worth paying for.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Well, I have never considered an “artist” as someone who only has formal training/education. Actually, to me it’s quite the opposite. I feel being an artist is a God given talent with no formal training needed. Training/education may enhance it, but without the God given part it will never be.

    What would I like to do but fear holds me back? Start a blog, write a book and maybe sell jewelry online. It’s not only fear that holds me back, it’s the what would I write about, could I possibly make a book interesting enough anyone would want it read it? Things like that….I guess that’s fear in a sense. I love to write (for myself) i.e. journaling.

    Also, the one thing that does stop me every time from “putting myself out there” is privacy. I am hesitant about it, always. I do like that you blog but yet don’t put yourself on there much at all. Even wandered about doing things under a different name etc, but that doesn’t seem real. I follow all kinds of blogs that have never had an issue. My husband is law enforcement so that’s what holds me back from blogging and putting my/our name out there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Theresa P
    May 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

    I have more than one friend who has returned to painting and art in their 40’s. I think there’s something about your 40’s where you start to be who you really are. You have so much creative energy that I say go for it!

    Also, don’t forget about the artwork that you made to go over your fireplace when you planned on the living room being a dining room! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Kansas
    May 10, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Check out dailypaintworks.com where you can sell your paintings. Also read Miss Mustard Seed blog about doing more artwork. I was amazed when I saw how much her paintings were selling for. She considers herself a beginner. If you have talent, you have talent. And YOU do. Give it a whirl, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I’m curious to know how much she sells her paintings for. They’re all sold, so the price doesn’t show anymore. Do you remember how much they were?

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Rebecca Neustel
        May 21, 2018 at 3:33 pm

        There’s one still life of an apple, oil on canvas board, 7″x5″, starting bid $35.00. The bid ends May 23rd.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Here’s a link to a friend of mine’s website (he, by the way, is considered by many to be the #1 landscape artist in the UK). You might find how he got started an interesting read.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      Val, thanks for adding this link. I love his artwork. There is an American artist that has a similar style and I am privileged to own a piece of his work which was a wonderful gift from someone dear to me.
      His name is Greg Gustafson and he is a plein air painter of landscapes, although I call them skyscapes, of the Mississippi Delta country of the south. I was raised in this area of the country, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and when I saw his paintings they took me back home and touched my heart. That’s what art should do, evoke emotions. It should make you smile, feel sentimental, laugh, or even bring a feeling of melancholy.

      I hope Kristi will gain from confidence by reading his story. If someone loves your work and would like to own it then, as far as I am concerned, you are an artist. I’m convinced that artists “see” things differently than the rest of us. No training will ever give me that kind of eye not matter how much I long to have it. Remember that there has never been an artist that everyone loved, no matter who they were or how much they were acclaimed they were.

      Kristi, I am also one who loves the paintings in your entry as well as the piece over your mantel. So, give it a go, gal and don’t look back.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Kristi, you are most definitely an artist! I do not have any formal culinary training (other than my mother was a “home economics” teacher and taught me all she could convince me to learn, and I took a couple of cake decorating classes), but I do consider myself a professional cake artist and that has been my occupation for the last several years. Though I majored in Marketing in college, I did take art classes as electives, and I have also taken classes with other artists since. I consider myself a “creative” type–an artist! I dabble in a lot of different mediums. You are and artist too–Sell your artwork!!! It’s a God-given talent that you have been blessed with and you should share!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Amy K
    May 10, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    This is so interesting!

    I strongly believe we are artists when we create – paintings, music, literature, gardening, a decorative vignette, other.

    For me, I’m afraid of calling myself an artist because doing so – to me -implies that I think highly of the results of my artistic efforts. “Artist” = “good quality”. (Whatever that is!) and, like you, I’m aftaid my results won’t meet other people’s standard of “artist.”

    But – who are they? I totally agree with the quote – those who are most “noisy” with negativity are the same ones who don’t participate.

    My thought is whether or not you put your work out into the marketplace really only leads to “commercial” feedback. The work will sell, or it won’t. Neither result defines you as an artist.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Of all the things I think formal education prepares you for, being an artist has never been one of them. You are an artist or you’re not. Studying at history and theory doesn’t make you an artist, studying music doesn’t make you a musician. It’s something in your spirit.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    I have a fancy art degree. I am NOT an artist because of that degree. I am an artist because I love to be creative, learn and try new things and expressing my creativity involves art supplies and that love will never stop. My creativity is what balances my life and sanity.

    I do not earn my living making art and selling it. Doesn’t make me any less of an artist. (although some people are very elitist and snooty as to what regards being an artist) To them- I say PPPPBbbbbttttt!!!!

    My favorite medium is actually polymer clay. But until more recently no one took you serious if you say you are a polymer clay artist. Why? Because they automatically think of it as a children’s craft. Lemme tell ya- there is so much more to polymer clay than the stuff kids do with it! The lingering disdain for this medium is real. Won’t ever stop me though. I create for me- if others like it- good for them. If they don’t.. I don’t really care. AND…because of my love for this medium. I have met some of the most talented, innovative and creative people ever… and they probably haven’t had a structured art class since elementary.

    I won’t deny that internal dialogue that validates calling ourselves artists is sometimes a struggle.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Kristi, please don’t let the negative voices shut you down. There are many “mediums” in being an artist. You dear girl, are an artist!! Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise! I’ve seen art work by “college educated” artists that to me look like trash. It is ALL in the eye of the beholder. Keep on keeping on. I learned this in my jewelry making 😉 I love making jewelry, but I’m not “formally” trained in it. People either like it or they don’t. I don’t sweat the small things 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    CB MacDuff
    May 10, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I’m a “photographer” and I use the word subjectively because I’m also self taught and graduated from film to digital. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have a camera in my hands since the age of 16 (I’m now 53), but when people tell me I should be selling my shots, I just don’t have the confidence to go along with their suggestion.
    I’m a pretty decent shot, and now how to capture the moment, but I’m still my own biggest critic. I’m good enough to totally HATE hearing somebody say, “Wow, great shot…you must have a REALLY good camera!”. It’s not the camera that SEES the shot or composition, it’s not the camera that figures out how to edit in SMALL ways to KEEP the original shot that you were inspired to take!
    Getting out of our own heads is probably the BIGGEST issues! I like making folks smile, so while I may never “sell” my pictures, I do make many of them gifts that are cherished!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ann Rourke
    May 10, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    This post hit home with me. I started painting without any training. Of course my biggest cheerleader was my husband. He took a piece to work to brag about me (unbeknownst to me) and it was well recieved. So I started painting for an up coming craft fair. I also posted some pictures on Facebook and wouldn’t you know the very first comment was, “These aren’t very good..so and so down the street does it so much better.” My heart ripped out by ONE negative comment. But I pushed on and went to the craft fair and sold $2000 worth of items! I still feel silly calling myself an artist.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sandra Keller
    May 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    I am an artist, self taught. Majored in art in college. Have taught art for 18 years and still going. You my friend ARE an artist. I meet people who like you feel that it’s to presumptuous to consider themselves an artist. Let go of your doubt! You have so many God given talents. Thank Him and be proud He gave them to you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    My younger brother went to HS with a man who is now a well-known artist, I’m talking oils that command thousands and are sold in galleries. When Tom was 15 years old he was making insane money painting “van art” (Frazetta was very popular). He did go to “art school”, did a stint as a commercial artist (his work is still on the cereal box), and worked at Disney. All those “qualifications” didn’t make him an artist…he was born as one…as were you Kristi.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    You are truly an artist! The artistic paintings and ‘crafty art’ you create are amazing and you should definitely sell your work. It’s a struggle I have with myself. I make cards and paper art but don’t really feel like I’m artistic with no training or experience but the cards and gifts I make from paper, seem to make people happy. Still not sure what I do is art but I am content with liking what I create and the creative process and isn’t that what counts?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      May 10, 2018 at 1:33 pm

      I too made cards and love anything to do with paper arts. When I picked up paint brushes I was hooked but it took a wonderful, patient teacher to coax out the talent in me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Kristi, here’s the thing, my art teacher took a few classes at an art college dropped out and went on to do the most gorgeous portrait work and just about anything else she put her mind to. In fact if you Google “Lima Company Memorial” you’ll find her story and what she did after age 40. After she left town I searched in vain for another teacher (I’ve switched to watercolor) and not having found one I’m relying on wonderful websites like Watercolor Beginners and Enthusiasts and found Mr. Steve Everest who has no formal training and when you look at his paintings you will be gobsmacked!!


    Some people like Mr. Everest, Anita, and you Kristi, are born with a talent—- the talent to create art. Now, you can hone that talent in school with different styles, muses, whatever you wanna call it, and maybe you’ll get better or simply go in a different direction, but in my opinion you’re an artist period.
    So yes you have to face your fear, put your stuff out there and see what happens. Even if you work in the interior design business not everyone is going to like what you do; trust me I have a friend who is schooled in interior design and her customers give her fits all the time!
    I really do hope you’ll dip your toes into this new adventure pool, enjoy making your art and make other people happy by doing it ❤️❤️🎨🎨

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    May 10, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    I don’t believe an artist needs a degree or even training. There are many talented people who were not “formally” trained, that do incredible things! I’ve seen other bloggers who have realized the potential of selling their works from just having admirers in the comments. They paint, write books and many other avenues of making money. Just look at Ana White, Ree Drummond and so many others! Go for it if it’s calling you! As for how to do it, maybe an Etsy shop?
    I had been encouraged to sew drapery in my younger days, but was afraid I would devote that energy and time and have the work rejected or criticized, so I never did it. Instead, I worked for a company that made custom items, and I was the person who wrote up their order. Saw first hand the ones who were not happy, but it was usually a person who had no idea how the process worked. Nope, don’t need that kind of grief! I’m one of those who found it easier to be an underling than a boss.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    I am a “crafty, creative-type” person. I painted 3 abstracts for above our basement sofa, first time ever doing this. My son shows them to everyone, he’s so proud of them! They are NOTHING like the works you have produced, yours are so superior. You ARE an artist, and please get that into your head! If you’ve watched Antiques Roadshow, there are tons of self-taught artists whose works command a fortune – please keep doing your artwork and DO sell them!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Go for it. My husband and I have made a career following our creative muse despite significant push back by those who would dismiss us or who feel threatened that we might take part of their pie from them. It is none of your business what other artists say about you – good or bad. The only one you are in competition with is yourself. You have a definite style and vision that is very appealing. You can succeed at anything you set your mind to.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    you really gave me a lot to mull over here! I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person who does DIY related objects which are nice but not in the same league as the artwork of several of my (male!) friends. But why should my results (I’m really not up to calling them art) be less than theirs only because they are not paintings but mixed media or sewn objects? I guess I will have to think about this some time and perhaps come to a different view on what I create… thanks for the input!
    And concerning you, I’ve never thought about you being no artist – everything you do is art, be it a stunning solution for a small space like your hallway, your wonderful bird and flowers wall paintings or indeed all the “proper” paintings and decorative items you’ve presented to us so far. It’s high time you should consider yourself an artist !!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marilyn Canaday
    May 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    I started painting 3 years ago at the age of 63. My husband died 8 years ago and I was so lost. I had always wanted to paint, but with kids, a job & life, I never took the time. So finally I tried it. I have painted 75 pictures in 3 years. I love it. It brings me joy and peace of mind. I have not had one lesson. I look at pictures, nature, whatever I like and then paint. I desperately needed something to bring me joy. I encourage everyone to try something you have always wanted to do!

    Kristi I love your paintings! Your blog brings such joy to my life too! Thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I like to have this up on my large monitor…and just roll my mouse up and down on that photo of your pinwheel. It gives the optical illusion of it rotating in the picture. I’ve been rolling my mouse for five minutes now! I think my coworker is going to catch on that I was goofing off!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Here’s the link to an article on a 4 year old artist, selling his work for thousands. He didn’t go to school either and yet he’s amazing! No one can define beauty for the world. It is individual. As everyone else above says, you are an artist and a creator of beauty. I enjoyed reading your blog today because I struggle with the same thoughts about myself. I will work at being as brave as you!


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Why not take a continuing ed art class at a college or jr college? For sure buy some books and read up on basics of composition and design. I’m an artist. I don’t have a degree though I do have training and learned the basics. There are just a few rules and the rules don’t exist so that you can be judged, the rules exist to understand and make composition that is pleasant to the eye/brain. (you wouldn’t plumb or do electrical work without learning a few rules) And, these 7 principles and 7 elements are important whether you are doing representational art as well as abstract art. Nothing says you can’t pick it up on your own, just do it. The only other thing I was taught that I feel is important is that if you are selling your artwork you should use professional quality art products and not student grade, craft paint & modge-podge, or house paint which are cheaper quality and/or non-archival (fine for playing-not for selling). If you were purchasing an art piece you would appreciate knowing that you were paying for quality and thoughtful composition and construction from beginning to end. Then, the more you paint, the better you get, so paint, paint, paint.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    This reminds me of an episode of the Super Soul Sunday podcast with Brene Brown where she said something along the lines of “If you’re not in the arena getting your butt kicked too, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

    It was in reference to a much longer quote that she credits with changing her life about how the loudest and harshest critics are often the people on the sidelines who can’t or won’t do the very thing they are criticizing someone else for trying, doing, failing at, etc.

    Anyway, it really stuck with me. When I get unsolicited feedback or criticism from someone, I first determine if they’re even “in the arena” or if they’re just standing on the sidelines telling the doers how it should be done. If it’s the latter, I do my best to just ignore it and move on.

    As someone who LITERALLY can barely draw stick figures, I am always in awe of your talent, creativity, and artistic capabilities. If people want to buy your work, I say give the people what they want! 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    You are in my head! Theses are the same voices i argue with regularly! I’m currently chewing on this; if I have been given a gift, but I do not celebrate that gif and all of its possibilities, then am I choosing to dishonor that gift?! Thanks for speaking to this!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Oregon
    May 10, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    You are an amazing artist!! Do not let anyone tell you any different. A fancy art degree does not make you an artist. Any formal training does not make you an artist, simply being able to create art makes you an artist. Creating art is a gift. Some people can be taught, but the great majority of great artist were born with their talent. Many people with art degrees cannot produce art, it is strange to think of that, but it’s true. You definately have a gift for art, you are so creative and your artwork is beautiful. I would love to be able to buy some of your paintings.

    I had an extraordinary thing happen to me. I was never artistically inclined, I couldn’t draw a circle and stick figures were about the extent of my drawing skills. Well I had a stroke and comlefely recovered. One day a friend of mine, who is an artist, asked me to come and paint with her, I laughed at her but she convinced me to try. Well, it seemed something in my brain happened when I had my stroke and I began to sketch and paint things I never thought possible. I prefer painting flowers and landscapes. It blew me away.

    Anyway, Kristy, pursue creating art and selling it if that’s what you want to do. Please don’t let fear or naysayers stop you. Trust me, you will have no problem selling your beautiful art.

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    Mary O.
    May 10, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Very timely post for me. I recently found this blog while researching DIY abstract art. I am tired of searching and searching for art that appeals to me and have come to think that producing art should not be limited to “artists”. I want to experience the joy of creating my own art. I do have some fear of how it will be viewed, even by my own inner critic. Your post is appreciated.

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    May 10, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    You are an artist of many things. Please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. I am standing in line to buy some of your creations, if I can afford it that is. I have asked and encouraged you. Looking forward to seeing everything you create. Go for it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Perhaps those people who find it necessary to judge should Google self-taught artists.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ilene Richardson
    May 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    You are an artist, no doubt you have earned the ability to call yourself an artist through your creativity. Kristi, you are so incredibly creative, it’s amazes me. You don’t need a degree to call yourself an artist, it’s not a licensed profession with requirements, so feel free to proudly claim you’re an artist, because you surely are. Creativity comes in different abilities and when you learn by going to art school/college, you gain insight to guide your creativity and you learn how to see the world through a painter’s eye, or a sculptor’s eye, and so on. You are an artist as much as I am, and decades ago I earned a degree from The Maryland Institue College Of Art in Baltimore, MD. I have knowledge about light, shadow, form, composition, techniques known to specialities such a printmaking and painting/drawing/portraiture, etc. Four years of immersion in art college makes me more educated, but still, you and I are equally artists and proudly we will claim this title because of our creativity. Thank you for all you have done, shared with us and continue to do so. Ilene

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    May 10, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Oh goodness, girl! You. Be. An. Artist! Who cares about all these degrees! I’m a Christian and know that Christ really is all that matters! All those degrees and awards mean absolutely nothing in heaven! Jesus means everything!! And besides, an artist is just someone who creates art! You do that and have been given a gift. Share it when you can!

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    May 10, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Well, I did have training as an artist and I definitely say you are an Artist. Please don’t listen to naysayers.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 7:12 pm


    a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.
    synonyms: creator · originator · designer · producer · fine artist · old master · begetter
    a person who practices any of the various creative arts, such as a sculptor, novelist, poet, or filmmaker.

    And surely you’ve heard of Grandma Moses 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I studied, fine art, anthropology, archaeology, and fashion. You are an artist, anyone who says you are not, is full of themselves, and means they are truly insecure with their own talent.

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    May 10, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    I was going to say”two words: graffiti artists,” but I see that you did mention them in your post. The majority of real graffiti artists do NOT have fine arts educations, and in fact started as ‘street artists’ which IMHO is just a nice way of saying ‘criminal vandalism.’ It was only in relatively recent years that some of their vandalism started to be seen as having artistic merit, and quite a lot of it IS genuine art, and though not usually of my taste some of it is beautifully breathtaking.

    And again, IMHO, you are FAR more talented artistically than not only graffiti artists, but artists like Mark Rothko who studied at Yale and Parsons Design school and who is most well known for painting large canvases with square or rectangular blocks of color. His paintings sells for millions of dollars these days and a lot of folks in the art world have loads of flowery words they express after much deep thought on what his art ‘represents,’ but in reality to me his stuff looks like a grade school child painted it. And he had a fine arts education, but to me his art is very underwhelming.

    I’ve known several people who have BFA degrees and never used them to create ANY art after college, but are they supposed to be considered artists because they have an art education and a degree? What about my friend’s husband, who could boil water but couldn’t really master toast and just decided one day he wanted to cook like a chef and now makes the most amazing, 5-star quality meals you’d get in the finest restaurant, and has no education in food science or cookery — this is the same guy who decided one day he wanted to paint a picture from his scuba vacation, went out and got a really large canvas and some acrylic paints that set him on his journey of creating the most stunning large format ocean and underwater scenes? This man is a true artist and has mastered fine cookery and fine art painting with no education whatsoever in either (he’s a stock broker!) and he’s not even really self-taught — he’s more like a savant who just literally decided one day to do food and/or art, then put a pan on the stove top and a brush to canvas and started producing masterpieces.

    The beauty of art is so subjective and very much in the eye of the beholder. There are so many self-taught artists out there who IMHO do much more beautiful work than artists with fine arts degrees who routinely sell their work. I personally like Cindy Austen, and Christie Repasy (who tried to teach painting to me, it didn’t stick!) both of whom are self-taught artists who sell their beautiful work.

    Don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you you aren’t an artist. You are an artist in so many ways. Makes me wonder if they have eyes to see what you’ve with your condo and now your home, including the artwork you’ve done! You should definitely create and sell your work, and you don’t even have to sell originals — the two artists I mentioned above sell giclees of their work.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kay Riggleman
    May 10, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    In my book anyone who creates a thing of beauty, whether it’s a painting, a garden or a special dinner, is an artist. My mother made my wedding dress. It was beautiful! She crocheted like a pro. People loved her gifts. Not an artist? She definitely was. Don’t let others tell you differently.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Like so many things I don’t think the definition of “art” is specific. Are you an artist when you look at a diminished shell of a house imagining it as a grown up lovely modern home? Are you an artist when you take rough wood and interpret it into a well crafted pillar or piece of trim? Are you an artist when you can define flow of space from constricted to fluid and engaging? Are you an artist when you can envision fabric synergistically pulling a room together? In my mind I’m an artist when I put on an outfit and folks say “you always look so put together!” And even if no one pays a dime for any of the above you’re an artist.
    Folks are always jamming things in little boxes, YOU don’t fit in a box. None of us do. Go for it Kristi!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    My parents are both artists, trained and educated, although their current media with which they have success is not the media they trained in (my father trained as a painter, he now is a photographer; my mother in drawing and is now a pastel painter). The surprise you feel when someone values your work does not diminish for having that education. And while I do think that there are probably some innate traits that artistic people have (visual imagination, hand eye coordination, good understanding of spatial relationships, tones, and colors) nothing can replace a point of view, experimentation, and practice! This is a long way of saying to ignore the naysayers!!!

    I am facing a fear with my own craft right now…not of rejection which is fine, but rather the opposite that would necessitate scaling up in a big way. In many ways I feel and am a beginner woodworker. On the other hand, I really love what I produce. So there ya go.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 10, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Dear Kristi,
    So many of the great recording artists of the last century were self-taught – among them were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Dolly Parton, Glenn Miller…I could go on. Some didn’t know one note from another. They just sang/played what was in their hearts. It was their God-given gift.

    You have that same kind of talent and it can’t be learned by giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to an institution of “higher learning”. Please keep doing what you do. You are magnificent!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cheryl Smith-Bell
    May 10, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Being an artist, and a perfectionist, the very real fear of failing to live up to my own high standards, is very often what freezes me up.
    You are an artist and perfectionist in all that you do. That makes the pressure really tough, most of the time. But you know with your building things, you may not always get it right the first time, but you still push on. Something I need to learn to do, too! It is and will always be a learning curve, and With practice it all gets easier and better!
    I love your poured art, and although I am a realistic animal portrait artist, I would love to do something freeing like what you have created with the pours. I thing about using them as backgrounds for some of my animals. And I need to just kick my own butt about ten times to get me started. I know there will be a learning curve, but I, being me, want the very first one to be great, and that will not happen, I know, so there is where I get stuck! I have a very hard time, not being in control of the paint!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 11, 2018 at 12:47 am

    Yes, please! I totally agree. You do beautiful work and beautiful work is beautiful work and no one cares if it is self taught talent or with degrees up the yahoo. You rock at everything you do.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sharon H
    May 11, 2018 at 7:37 am

    We all grow up learning the most basic definitions of certain words, and therein lies a problem. The English language especially, has a myriad of definitions for a single word. We are left to our own, usually limited experiences, to create and form images on the subject and then to define these things within the parameters of which we know. Unfortunately, most people have a very limited scope of exposure on the subject as to what makes something “art” and consequently the parameters are narrow. And then there are those who feel confident they “know” what art is or isn’t, and believe they are qualified to set their opinions in stone, again with quite narrow parameters. These people are quite often referred to as “snobs”. And as with most “snobs”, they need to get over themselves. Don’t let another person’s definition define YOU. You are continually redefining Kristi, and who she is, what she does and why she does things the way she does. It’s a personal journey in so many ways, and when the product of that journey speaks to another’s heart and soul, it becomes a thing of beauty, and therefore valuable to that other person. After all, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ruth Anne
    May 11, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Clementine Hunter. https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/clementine-hunter

    Grandma Moses. https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/grandma-moses-anna-mary-robertson-moses

    Follow your heart. Against all odds they did. Who knows where it might lead.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Bravo! Anyone who creates is an artist. Internet trolls are the worst. I continue to be amazed at your abilities and vision. Please continue to share with us!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

    OMG KRISTIE, that first painting is AMAZING..!! You are a women of many talents..!! I WOULD LOVE TO BE YOU….!!!!!!!
    I would like to learn how to work with wood. My biggest critic is myself. Plus I would want to keep everything..LOL Maybe one day..!!
    Can’t wait to see your next project..!!
    I’m so glad I found your blog a few years ago..!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristine Porter
    May 11, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Live your Colorful Artistic Life to the fullest … and don’t let tiny typed letters get into your head!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chelle Ellis
    May 11, 2018 at 8:56 am

    A formal education in fine art would include hordes of challenging opinions to help you find your style. If criticism can be fine tuned and not a generalized insult, it can help you grow into an artist who finds themselves. Once achieved ed, it is yours alone and no one can copy it anymore than pale reproduction. Art is a way of communicating and only you know what you have to say.

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    May 11, 2018 at 10:07 am

    From the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Artist – one who professes and practices an imaginative art; obsolete : one skilled or versed in learned arts. I think you’re very artistic and talented in many ways and I like a lot of your art pieces, especially “Fish Scale” and your entry triptych.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dana Lee
    May 11, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I am an elementary art teacher with a fine arts degree and I oil paint for myself everyday. I STILL fight those feelings of not thinking that something I have made is good enough to sell! Just this year, I have started selling my work on Etsy and posting to Instagram in a professional capacity. The amount of support that I have gained from other artist on Instagram is wonderful and a real confidence booster. In my experience, the hardest part about selling has been gaining an audience. With your blog getting the number of dedicated readers that it does, I would think that you already have that issue covered! I would do it! The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t sell. For myself, I figure that I am going to paint even if no one likes it! I may as well see if someone will purchase my work so that the habit is self supporting. 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kathy Sturgeon
    May 11, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Kristi, first let me say “Of course you are an artist”! Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

    I was an elementary art teacher for over 18 year’s. No formal art training nor a degree in art. I just loved art and wanted to share that love with kids. I loved sharing that many famous artists had little or no formal training ( Henri Rousseau, Grandma Moses, Maud Lewis, and Vincent Van Gogh for example. Well, Van Gogh did study for a while in Paris, but he quit soon after.) it’s funny to observe that, the younger the kids, the more they thought of themselves as artists. The older they get, the more hesitant they become to produce art. Ugg! Fifth graders! Like pulling teeth to get them started on projects.

    I retired a year and a half ago, thinking that now I would have time to paint. Sadly, that hasn’t happened. We relocated to the Hill Country, a little over an hour from you actually. I found your blog quite by accident, and have been faithfully following you since! You are a Renaissance woman if there was ever one! You can do it all! Build, sew, create art, and re-wire! You are definitely up for any challenge.

    I’m probably close to your mom’s age. I took oil painting lessons in the 70’s also, and did lots of Texas landscapes, too. I quit when our children came along.

    My greatest desire is to get back to painting/making art. It’s silly, my greatest fans have always been my family, so why should I be afraid to paint again? But I am. I’m afraid I won’t be able to paint as good as I used to. I know so much more about composition and art now, that it takes some of the fun away when creating! Stupid, huh?

    You are an encouragement and inspiration to so many. Please keep up your blog posts. I look forward to them each week because they inspire me to get creative and get going! Be fearless! You can do whatever you dream! We all can.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elaine Ness
    May 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    I think that reading even one person’s criticism of you got our collective dander up. How absurd and undeserved that was. Push that memory right out of your head now and disassociate your heart from the feeling it may have engendered. I will add my vote of confidence to all these well-thought-out comments in proclaiming you are an amazing artist.

    I can’t resist adding my personal experience. First, decades ago, I took a bunch of kids to a Seattle art gallery. Rounding one corner we saw a huge canvas. The painted piece consisted of a blue rectangle with an orange circle inside of it. The label listed the exorbitant price of $3K. A precocious six year old
    broke the respectful silence and piped up with, “Gee, I could do that!”

    Later, in the early 70’s, I had an itch to learn decorative painting so I took some classes at a craft store. The teacher was a fine artist with credentials earned in Europe. She took the job because she needed the money. I lasted 6 weeks because she smoked while she taught and the proximity of it nearly did me in. By that time I was off and running on my own. I used to buy some wood plaques from a man and wife who convinced me to leave a finished piece so they could show customers since they liked what I did. Within a few weeks, I got a phone call from a woman who asked me to teach her to paint. What, me teach? Well, no. Then another call came. Again, I declined. The second woman called again and asked if she could pay me to just watch me paint. My husband said, “Honey, go for it. Teach what you know.” So, I did. I had an art studio for seven years. Loved every minute.

    One of my students wanted to learn rosemaling. She was of Norwegian background. That kind of work is all about brush control so she came to learn that first. Oil paints. From the moment the woman picked up a brush she made beautiful things. Her far-away sister disparaged her efforts (as she had always done, no matter what the endeavor.) She made snide comments that hurt, But, over many months my student came into her own. Big sis could wound no more. (Yep, sis had deep-seated problems of her own, as you probably surmised.)

    My girl knew she was an artist.

    In time, she had learned what she came for. We had a long goodbye hug after her last class. Bittersweet, really. More than a year later, she reconnected and invited me to lunch at her home—a hundred-year-old house she had inherited. After a greeting, she silently ushered me into her dining room, which had a full wall of cabinets and ceiling beams. I stood there in shock. Her perfectly executed rosemaling on the cabinets took my breath away. I was never more proud of anyone.

    As for me, I moved to canvas painting in oils, sold a lot of my work, won some contests in juried shows, and treasured the joy of it all. Now, I also work with colored pencils here in Ecuador. More bliss.

    Kristi, your creative juices are flowing like a rushing river. Rest assured, (I do wonder if you ever sleep 😴) your vision will pull you toward masterful work to come as you go to town in that new studio and continue to make art. That’s what artists like you do! Hugs.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kate Hollingsworth
    May 11, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Kristi don’t let a formal education get in the way of your creativity! Boldly strive toward your goals, giving zero f*cks about what the naysayers think! xx

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 12, 2018 at 6:23 am

    An artist is one who creates art. You are an artist. Training is not required. Just the action of creation. Love what you do.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol Willis-Holden
    May 13, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I think you shouldn’t confuse people with degrees in the arts with true artists. They are definitely NOT the same. Not to say someone who has studied the arts can’t be an artist, but for me, a true artist is someone like you, or your mom, who feel something deep inside and translate it to music, dance, or, in your case, painting/decorating. Now, THAT’S art! Not everyone will see it or even appreciate it, but someone out there will be touched by it and I believe that’s what real art does. It connects people who otherwise might have no other connection. You don’t strike me as the kind of person who lets fear dominate her life. You already know who you are. Just go for it!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I would absolutely call you an artist. You take things and make them into something beautiful that can be appreciated. Whether you are using your home as a canvas or using an actual canvas. So don’t underestimate yourself or shy away from the title, “artist”. You can totally rock that title in my book!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Kristi, you ARE an artist! Your entire home is a piece of art you have poured your heart and soul into.

    And if we’re talking practical pieces, you’ve completed two this year … your scalloped mirror counts!

    I live in Portland, OR which is home to hundreds of artists with no formal training.

    They say one negative comment can erase a hundred positives. Good for you for deciding not to let the negative voices influence you any longer.

    And remember that the critics will always be around and fight to make their voices heard, but there’s another Voice that will overpower them all! And those of us who follow your blog and want to buy your art are proof that you are an artist and we want to encourage you to continue creating.


  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa E
    May 15, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Kind of sad how we all have, at one time, allowed other’s ignorant remarks to get in our head. I want you to liken artists to musicians. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, many are not professioinally trained, yet are talented, accomplished, giving concerts and selling records and yet no one would even question it. You are so gifted. You do you and I for one will be cheering you on.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 18, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    You’re a true renaissance woman and a gifted artist! Your whole house is a work of art in one form or another and your “DIY Crafts” are high end and classy and very artisitc!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    May 22, 2018 at 8:54 am

    You’d better use every single gift and talent the good Lord gave you. Forget the haters. Check out @helloallisonart on instagram. I think she’s been painting a year and isn’t formally trained. A gift is a gift and it doesn’t always require an extensive education. Now if you wanted to be a doctor with no formal training I’d be like, no boo boo. Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    October 28, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    I needed this post! Thank you!