Thursday, December 31, 2015

Achieving the Impossible!

Taking a deep breath and reminding myself to just do my best:

Not too late if anyone else wants to join the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. Visit Leslie Saeta's blog for all the deets.

They say growth comes from stepping outside our comfort zone. This coming month ought to see me grow by leaps and bounds!

Happy Painting,


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thanks For Lighting a Firecracker Under Me!

Before I get buried in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, I'd like to thank the artist that inspired me to stick my neck out and join this challenge: 

Carol McIntyre

You can find Carol's website Here, and her Facebook site Here. 

Carol shares many free tips (she is also an art teacher) on her blog Here. If you love color and would like to learn more, Carol REALLY knows color, and offers a video course called Acrylic Color Mixing Made Easy. 

During the last 3//30 Challenge, I followed along as Carol participated in the challenge, and was so taken by her delightful paintings, that I robbed my piggy bank and bought one I had fallen in love with. 

Here it is hanging my studio, the beautiful painting in the upper left corner. It is titled "Tools of Joy".

(can click on pic to enlarge to see
Carol's painting in upper left corner)

I've been wanting to do this Challenge for awhile now, but allowed others to talk me out of it by reminding me of all the reasons why I wouldn't be able to do it. I let that rob me of belief in myself. But no more! :-)

Thank you, Carol, for lighting a fire under me, and giving me the inspiration to try this Challenge!

Happy painting,


Monday, December 28, 2015

It's Almost Bunny Time!

Wow! This is a screenshot of the map for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, showing where all the participants live. 

We now have a little over 700 artists from all around this world. Can't wait to see what they all paint (and it's not too late to join up!)

Each day I plan to post a photo on Facebook of my painting "in progress". Later,  I'll post my 4x4 inch completed mini-art painting on my Facebook page and then also here on my blog. 

And guess what?? 

They will all be for sale! Each little painting will come with it's own FREE wooden mini display easel. So be sure to tune in on January 1st 2016 for all the details.

30 paintings in 30 days for $30 

All the little 4" x 4" acrylic paintings will be $30 each,
including a FREE wooden mini display easel and
FREE shipping in the US
(other locations please email me for 
shipping charges at

Since they are being sold on a first come first served basis, anyone interested can email me at with any questions, and I can send you a Paypal invoice if you'd like one for your very own (you don't need a Paypal account). 

This is going to be exciting... I sure hope I can keep up!

Happy painting,


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days--coming soon!

Well, I've gone an dun it!

Half of me is sooo excited, since I've been wanting to do this quite awhile.

The other half (probably the sane half) is wondering what in the world am I thinking?!

Well, this quote from Roald Dahl will explain it:

"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. 
If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. 
Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it 
and above all become passionate about it. 
Lukewarm is no good."

There will NEVER be the "perfect" time. There will always be something going on that will tempt me to say "maybe later".  But all we have is Now. Today. It's a gift, and I don't want to waste it. 

My theme for the 30/30 Challenge is: Bunnies! 

Detail from Rabbit Dreams
by Retta Stephenson

Yes, rabbits, cottontails, bunnyrabbits, hares. We had bunnies when I was a kid, and after I was married we raised rabbits awhile. I adore bunbuns!

With so much heartache in the news these days, I wanted to do a series of images that were uplifting, happy, encouraging. Words like tender, gentle, joyful and kind came to mind.

Close up from Rabbit Dreams
by Retta Stephenson

It starts on January 1st, 2016. 

Stay tuned for more details!

Happy painting,


PS:  If you are an artist and so inclined, you can join the Challenge, too. Visit Leslies blog for the info.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

One Simple Way to Stand Out from the Crowd

Experts tell us that to be successful at anything we need to stand out from the crowd. 

But... how??

The short answer: BE DIFFERENT

Umpteen years ago I taught a class on illustration to high schoolers. On the first day of class I put up a huge poster with just one image smack in the middle of it: an ugly hairy fly! 

At the bottom in tiny print: First rule of advertising: Get their attention!

That's the memory that was triggered as I listened to an interview by Antrese Wood on the  Savvy Painter Podcast. She was talking with Errol Gerson, long time teacher of entrepreneurship, business and leadership skills for artists and designers. (Link to that Podcast Here)

He was sharing ideas on how to succeed by standing out from the crowd. 

One topic I found riveting was his ideas on how to answer the question: And what do YOU do? 

Mr Gerson tells the story of once meeting a lady and asking her "And what do you do?".

She replied: "I'm a Photographer."

He yawned in her face.

She was insulted and became very angry!

He explained to her his ideas about getting peoples attention. She calmed down, and he went on to teach her how to capture imagination and interest with a more intriguing answer, one that would help her stand out from the crowd.

He teaches that we each need our own unique answer to "What do you do?".

Such as:

I reveal the invisible.
I capture the invisible in paint.
I use color to transform people.
I create smiles.
I write dreams.
I spin straw into gold.
I point to mysteries.
I take people to other worlds.
I time travel.

After listening to this fascinating interview with Teacher Gerson, I'll never again just say "I'm a painter", or "I'm an artist."

(Detail from Time Our Companion.
Cards, prints & more HERE)

The Errol Gerson Challenge

1. Imagine you have just met someone and they ask: "What do you do?"

2. This is not an elevator pitch. Think about why you create and what effect it gives your audience. 

3. Use your imagination and power to connect. How can you answer that question in such a way that the person you are talking to wants to know more?

This idea is applicable to ALL expressions of creativity: painters, writers, dancers, photographers, crafters, quilters, singers, etc etc.

My new answer: I reveal the invisible (and hope they want to know more, ha ha).

 So... how would YOU answer that question: What do you do??

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

A New Free Quote Poster for ya!

And here she be, feel free to snag a copy:

(don't forget to click on the pic to get the largest size before saving)

Thanks for visiting today!


Friday, September 04, 2015

Flashback Friday: Nite Owl Nugget time

I like this one because it reminds me of a favorite quote from theology professor Abraham Joshua Heschel:

"When I was young, I admired clever people. 
Now that I am old, I admire kind people."

Here, then, is the short post from February 2006:

(can click to enlarge)

I had fun drawing the wooden frame around this illustration...was just in the mood for a "different" border.

 photo bluecats.gif

Happy reminiscing,


Monday, August 24, 2015

Living A Beautiful Life At Any Age

Over the years I've received a variety of interesting responses to both me and my art. I've been called naive, credulous or Pollyanna. I used to think that was a bad thing. Now... I'm not so sure 'bout that!

I've been told I'm not cutting edge, and that my art was not edgy enough to be relevant today. Hmmmm...

It's taken me a long to time know what it is I want to "say".

And that is, in a nutshell: 

Carpe Diem! 
Seize the day. Life is short. 

Live it to the fullest each day, with Love and Joy.

Living Flamboyantly
by Retta Stephenson

There is a special essay written 92 years ago by Samuel Ullman that says it better than I ever could. I'll tell more about him another time. Suffice to say, he is special to me. 

Below is his essay. After you read it, you'll know why it's special to me, and why I want my art to be UPlifting. 

It may not be cutting edge or "cool", but it's what is in my heart: A zest to live a beautiful life, and to Love the best I know how.

by Samuel Ullman

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of 60 more than a boy of 20. Nobody grows old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether 60 or 16, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what's next and the joy of the game of living.  

In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at 20, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at 80.

 photo MultiDisneyBirdsOnBranch.gif

In our hearts, we are Forever Young,


Friday, August 14, 2015

Hey ya'll, it's Artists Appreciation Month!

Did you know that August is "Artists Appreciation Month"?? Me neither!

Well, alrighty then, I'm one of those... so count me in!

But I wouldn't BE one of those if I hadn't been influenced in my life by other creatives. This post will honor some that influenced me most.

(Long post, but like a comic book... mostly pictures, mwa ha ha ha!!)

My Artist Appreciation Month 
Thank-You-for-Influencing-My-Life List:

(Difficult to narrow down!! )
(Can click any images to enlarge)

For incredible skill and beauty both in painting and sculpture:

marble c.1513-1515

For color, design, and more color:

My Dining Room 1909

Almond Blossom 1890

For storytelling ability and beautiful illustrations:

Ecstasy 1929

 The Mermaid 1910

James Gurney, Imaginative Realism (I own these 3books!)

For imagination, whimsy and, of course, color:

Juggling Clown

Stilts & His Magic Rabbit

For bold and colorful art; he paints "the color of emotions":

But from a young age there was one that influenced me first and the most. 

The Master.
He captured my imagination...
He had an amazing ability to tell a visual story... 
He could touch hearts...
He portrayed goodness in life...
He used gentle humor or tenderness...

But most of all, his undeniable and under-appreciated skill in painting: 

I want to thank Patience Brewster for inviting me to join in posting about Artists Appreciation Month! I've thoroughly enjoyed revisiting old "friends" and seeing their paintings once again.

When I checked out Patience's art, oh my... talk about ADORABLE! And since I enjoyed it so much I thought I'd pass on the link for you. 

It's wonderful stuff, so here be ye the link to Patience Brewster.  Be sure to see their ornaments and check out my favorites, the Zebras named Zeke and Zelda! Too cute!

Happy Artist Appreciation Month!


Friday, July 17, 2015

How to Create a Product from Nuthin to Sumthin

Once in a while, you create an image your reeeaaallly like. 

"Jaguar Sunset"

A few years ago I painted a 3 foot tall cat statue for a charity auction. It was titled Little Cat's Four Season Fantasy. Each side featured the different seasons of the year.

It was the second one I painted, the previous statue having sold at auction for $1100. So of COURSE they nicely asked me to paint another! I was happy to help, since it was for C.A.T.S., Committed Alliance to Strays.

But since I donated it to charity - and seeing as how I loved some of the images on it - I decided to photograph them for my own collection. This fantasy setting of the jaguar swimming in a cool pool at sunset was one of my favorites. 

To put it into context, here is the completed
 3 ft tall statue from different angles:
(can click on any images to enlarge)

But how do I translate that into a product to offer collectors??

Here's what I did.

It all started with a nekkid statue:

Underpainting  getting started:

Giving him some spots:

Continuing around the jaguar:

All done:

So how does he look when you put his image onto products? I found a site that does "POD"  (print on demand) and I'm very happy with their quality. Here are some of the things they can do with my jaguar. I was so tickled when I saw these for the first time!

And here is how he looks on a throw pillow.

The newest to join the product line is this cute Tote bag

I think the metal prints are cool!

They even have smart phone case covers.

Naturally there are also greeting cards, framed prints, canvas prints,  and posters.

And there you have it. From blank white statue to all kinds of fun stuff to put your image on. 

I hope you found this interesting. I sure had fun seeing my little jaguar on all these items. If you have any questions about Fine Art America (FAA), the folks who do my printing, just give a holler in the comments and I'd be glad to share my experiences. 

Now, imagine something YOU created.  If you have paintings, images of your creative endeavors, or photographs that you'd like to have printed, I can wholeheartedly recommend FAA. You have your original, yes. But by creating "multiples" of your efforts, you can offer your art to more people in many more forms, including gift giving.

If you try FineArtAmerica, I'd love to hear how it went for you. :-)

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Free Quote Poster Day!

It's Word Wednesday again! Time for another free Quote Poster.

 A favorite author of mine is Ray Bradbury, and I find this quote from him very meaningful:

  (click to open for larger file to save, re-post or print)

Please feel free to save and use this poster if you like it, though I'd appreciate that you leave it in it's original form without alteration, other than sizing. Be sure to download and save it to your computer, not "hot link" to my blog by linking to the url. Thanks ever so much!

I hope you enjoy it! It's my gift to you.

Thanks for visiting today,