Friday, November 20, 2015

November 28 is Small Business Saturday!

Here is a video celebrating my Autumn 2015 collection: Fall 2015 I hope it will inspire you to think small, not mall this holiday season.  Show your loved ones how much you care by buying unique, handmade gifts while investing in small businesses around your community.

Interested in viewing my full inventory of affordable, fine art?




Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Latest Video: Summer 2015

Now that summer is finally here I have been soaking up sunshine and inspiration.  Enjoy some of my latest, summer-inspired paintings!

Summer 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Learning to Play Well With Others-My Most Recent Commissioned Large Work

Like most artists I would describe myself as a “does not play well with others”.  I like my privacy in the studio (the idea of sharing studio space is unappealing) and I keep my creativity close to the vest.  So when Red Door Designworks approached me late last year to create artwork for a client in Cambridge, the initial discussions were around me doing a large 36x60” painting that would be showcased at the bottom of a staircase leading into the rumpus room they had recently designed.

The theme of the artwork was to be outdoor sports, specifically rock climbing.  I have never rock climbed myself but my many trips to the White Mountains have led me to observing climbers.  And my husband, Joe is an enthusiastic outdoorsman with a lot of rock climbing experience.
Red Door Designworks mentioned they had been considering just hanging an empty wood frame up on the wall and with the rock climbing theme in mind my mental wheels started turning.  I proposed-instead of a painting done on a 36x60” wood panel-I do something more sculptural based on the theme.  Thus the project began.

I first met with the client and spent time in the space, taking photographs of the room, noting the color palette and admiring the aesthetic.  The client and I agreed that something colorful yet not domineering was in order, with playful elements such as bright tones and an added urban or street art style. While visitors to the rumpus room would be met with the piece as they entered the space, its purpose was to serve as a complimentary factor to the design and décor.
My first thought was: This is going to be simple.  But when I started trying to get my ideas around the project I realized this was beyond my abilities.  Engineering a sculptural piece where paintings are “free-floating” on climbing rope within an open wood frame is not as straightforward as it sounds.  (Does it sound straightforward?) Preservation and structural integrity have to be determined.  Architecture and (gasp!) math is involved.  Fortunately my husband, a technical engineer and I decided to each come up with a rough mockup of how to construct the piece.  Overnight our individual ideas came to us.  While our concepts were similar, his was “cleaner” so we presented that concept to a technical engineer-turned carpenter, Frank Burns of Burns Design. I figured, with Joe and Frank being able to speak “the same language”, Frank was the right carpenter for the job.

Over the next few weeks meetings and mockups ensued, with the three of us tackling engineering issues as they arose.  Because much of the interior of the piece is open and solid climbing ropes are strung in the open space, so the frame itself needed to be lightweight yet solid.  Built incorrectly, the frame could twist or torque.

After we felt confident about the design it was time to buy the wood.  This is where the notions of aesthetic design came into play. When you are creating something that has various components you must ensure the eye will not be overwhelmed when taking in the piece as a whole.  While working on each separate part I had to consider the piece in its completion.  The harsh winter Boston experienced delayed Frank Burns and my trek to the lumberyard but finally we were able to spend a bitterly freezing morning sifting through reclaimed barn wood in an open warehouse.  As lovers of reclaimed wood the trip was like visiting an art museum, but we had to keep ourselves from being lured in by texture and color.  In fact, we searched for and found the opposite-two gorgeous planks of barn wood in a subtle silver sheen that-as I put it-whispered rather than screamed for attention.  A frame made of this wood would be the perfect backdrop to all the energy happening within.

After the frame was complete it was time to start painting.  Much like the considerations taken with constructing the frame I had to make sure the paintings enhanced the color palette of the rumpus room without competing.  And knowing climbing rope is generally in loud, garish tones I had to pull the reins and not get too carried away.  I brought the urban theme into the work by creating (based on standard rock climbing signs and stencils) a “street sign” of a rock climber.  And I married the texture of the reclaimed barn wood with the textural work I did on the street-art-styled Great Outdoors.  Both the rock climber and the mountain scene look simple but they were, like all my artwork, created over several hours using layers of materials.  Materials included: Graffiti markers, Oil pastels, Acrylic, Gouache, Pencil, Pastels, Graffiti Paints, Inks, Permanent Markers, with a shellac coating so guests to the rumpus room can touch the artwork without damaging it.

Finding the right rope-rope that matched the color palette of the room-was more challenging than expected.  Local climbing groups weren’t receptive to donating old rope and sport stores told me it was illegal for them to donate rope for my project.  I even called a local rope manufacturer with no luck.  So looking a bit odd with images of the rumpus room and the actual paintings in hand, I went around town visiting sporting goods stores to check out their rock climbing rope supply. 
And here is where my hands-on work ended and my project management resumed.  My husband, Joe and I designed the layout for the ropes using diagrams of the artwork.  He then created and inserted dowel rods in their proper places based on our design.  He strung up the rope and made the knots.  He then drilled holes in precisely the right positions for the rope to be knotted behind the paintings.  I painted in the holes and I painted along the edges of the back panels he had cut to encase the knots.  He then drilled the panels into the backs of the paintings.  This actually allows for the client to switch out the paintings in the future should he ever decide to do so.

And there we had it, after months of planning and orchestration: The finished piece.  My assistant, Michael and I dropped it off yesterday.  In this final image you can see us holding it up against the space where the piece will be hung.  The colors and textures of the piece invite the eye to bounce around the room, landing on complimentary colors and textures.  I can’t wait to see a photo of it actually hung on the wall!

I want to thank Red Door Designworks for inviting me to do this project.  Thanks to Frank Burns of Burns Design, Joe Koon and Michael O’Donnell for their help and patience.  And I especially want to thank customer, MG for trusting me to do this work for his home. 
In addition to selling my work at galleries, home & gift shops, and live events, you can view my inventory online @ &


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heart + Soul + Mind + Hands = Creative Career. Allowing Your Dreams to Become a Way to Make a Living.

I recently read Camille Pagila’s Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars. It is a compact walk through art history with Pagila selecting often overlooked works to present to the reader.  I highly recommend it.
One particular section of the Introduction resonated with me and so I want to share with you.

…with the heady proliferation of mediums available to artists, the genre of painting has lost its primacy and authority. Yet for five hundred years after the dawn of the Renaissance, the most complex and personally expressive works of art ever produced in the world were executed in paint…The decline of painting has cut aspiring artists off from their noblest lineage.
pages vii & viii

I have to admit it is easy for me to take for granted that I am a full-time professional artist, specifically a painter.  Painting is how I make my living. It is only in witnessing the reactions of others when I tell them what I do that I realize how unique my line of work is.  And to me that uniqueness is truly sad.
One of the most surprising aspects of life is the fact so much of who we become as adults was formed in early childhood.  By the time I was two I was drawing elaborate pictures on anything I could get my hands on.  I identified myself as an artist and am fortunate that my parents-though they were perplexed over where my artistic nature came from-did all they could to nurture my creativity.  However I was firmly told, particularly by my practical investment banker father, that one cannot make a living as an artist so I needed to figure out another career path.

How many of us have packed away our youthful dreams because they were characterized as “unrealistic” or “impractical”?  I am forever grateful that my high school art teacher, upon hearing I was not permitted to pursue a career in the arts, called my parents in for a private meeting to let them know I needed to go to art school.
Here I am a couple of decades past my life as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The years since have been filled with misfires, jumps and starts, and (to put a positive spin on it) “learning experiences”.  But it paid off: For the past decade I have been steadily building a company with a loyal fan base, steady productivity, decreasing overhead and at the heart of it all-the sheer joy of doing EXACTLY what I have dreamed of doing from the days when I first could dream.

Over five years ago I wanted to design a way I could help other artists find a shortcut to wiser investments of their time/money/energy on the journey to success.  The Focusing Series was born out of threefold mission-To offer year-round affordable professional development education for creative entrepreneurs, To create a personalized classroom experience that is tailored to the individual students’ needs, To help fellow artists focus their efforts so that they may reach success more efficiently . 

Each year, The Focusing Series team is made up of individuals who excel as solopreneurs/small business owners/creative entrepreneurs.  They are excited about having an opportunity to share their wisdom and experience in their respective fields.  Our workshop topics are selected and developed based on community feedback and what we perceive are the genuine needs of those who are trying to take their dreams to the next level.  And it should be mentioned that EVERYONE is invited to join in our workshops, from those who are content with keeping art as a side-project or hobby to those who aspire to make art their full-time career.  It is always beneficial to attend our workshops and we strive to cultivate a space where everyone is welcome and respected.

In addition to painting, I find working with artists through teaching and coaching a true blessing.  To help others discover ways to share their creativity with the world is a honor. To come alongside you and witness your progress is a great privilege.
And the results I witness are amazing!  Students report they see almost immediate change after attending our workshops.  Here’s a handful of examples:

I wanted to thank you again for the classes.  The information you gave was undeniably useful.  I have been thinking more consciously about what I do... everything from my studio time commitment to my "brand", and my choices are much more intentional now, plus I have better planning.  And this happened to be my most successful (Open Studios).... preparation, planning, and advertising (all of these thanks to you).  -MJ
A life changer.   -RF

You did an amazing job presenting so much material and making it accessible to artists. 
I have to share a little success story that was a direct and IMMEDIATE result of your How to Sell presentation. I occasionally hang art at my gym to liven up the place. This morning I hung a painting at 7:30 and spoke with a gentleman about my work as I hung it. I engaged with him with passion,confidence and respect for his process of looking at art. (after all it's a gym and not a gallery). So then I went and dropped my son off at preschool and returned to the gym to exercise at 8:30. To my delight, my painting had SOLD to the gentleman. 

So thank you! I will continue to work on the homework you gave us, but please know I deeply appreciate the insights you shared with us last night.   -CS

Excellent presentation, friendly, knowledgeable instructor with lots of helpful information.  -AW
Now let me say that I am not under any sort of delusion that The Focusing Series is the only professional development option out there for creative entrepreneurs.  There are plenty of other offerings, especially online.  But what I can say is we approach our program with a lot of love.  We are genuinely invested in your success, and beyond offering our workshops at affordable prices (workshops cost $15 per hour) we encourage you to book workshops at a date/time that best suits your schedule.  Private and semi-private workshops can be readily arranged during weekdays, weeknights or even weekends.  And we are happy to bring our workshops to your facility, artist co-op or association.  The Focusing Series has taught for The Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, Danforth Art Museum, The Eliot School, Jamaica Plain Arts Council, Arts Worcester, Fort Point and we are currently creating a workshop for Wax New England.

To view our 2015 Focusing Series catalog, click here.

To contact us about joining one of our workshops: or 617-955-3472
To find out the latest, visit our Facebook page.

Making a living at what you love to do should not be a rarity.  It is realistic and practical to allow yourself to pursue your dreams.  We are here to show you how we did it and how you can too!











Thursday, March 5, 2015

Insuring Your Art & Getting Your Art Ready for Galleries

The Focusing Series likes to offer workshops that are directly related to one another (For example, our January offerings: Getting Your Time, Space & Mind Ready to Create and So, You Want to Be An Entrepreneur. Both of those workshops can be booked privately or semi-privately at the date & time of your choosing. for more information.) so this month we present How to Properly Insure Your Business & Your Art with instructor, Chris Hawthorne and Get Ready for Galleries: Locate Your Success with instructor, Scott Cipolla.  If you are ready to share your work with fine art galleries, these workshops will provide the information you need.

How to Properly Insure Your Business & Your Art                   
Instructor: Chris Hawthorne
Monday, March 16 6:30-8:30pm    $30      (
Registration Deadline: 5pm Sunday, March 15)
Location: 1000 Centre Street, Suite 14 Jamaica Plain 02130

Professional artists have to know about proper insurance coverage for their business and their art.  Chris Hawthorne, an expert on the subject (he has sold insurance and written and lectured on the topic of insurance for years) is here to answer all your questions and present your options in a clear, concise lesson.  You can’t afford to be naïve about such a vital component of protecting your business and your creations.  Participants will gain full understanding of what types of insurance will best suit their particular needs.
Register by the deadline, or 617-955-3472. Or use Eventbrite to register.

Get Ready for Galleries :  Locate Your Success                             
Instructor: Scott Cipolla
Wednesday, March 25 6:30-8:30pm    $30   
(Registration Deadline: 5pm Tuesday, March 24)
The Eliot School 24 Eliot Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

 One of our most popular workshops, Scott covers how to find and approach galleries that would be the right fit for your work, how to create a professional, dynamic portfolio, and how to make your work-no matter what medium-ready for display.  Time will be designated to discuss the various exhibition opportunities each individual participant should explore based on his/her artwork.  Please bring 3-5 examples of your artwork. Can either be original works or images.   
Register by the deadline, or 617-955-3472.  Or use Eventbrite to register.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The 1st of the Focusing Series February Workshops-The Artist's Archive: How to Visually Document Your Portfolio

As an educator, Creative Coach and painter, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard variations of the following comments from fellow artists:

“I want to build an art career but I don’t know how to upload images online.”

“The photographs I take of my art always come out so terrible.”

“I paid a professional photographer to take pictures of my artwork, but I have absolutely no idea what to do next with the disc he gave me.”

No matter where you are as an artist and regardless of what you want to do with your art, having visually appealing photographs that accurately present your artwork is a must.  At the very least, these photos document your artistic growth and development.  In the past, The Focusing Series hosted a workshop on how to create the best images of your work using a light box.  This year, in order to better serve our artist community, we have designed a two-day workshop that will take participants step by step through the entire process of creating a portfolio of your work. 
Professional photographer, Gretjen Helene has taught at other institutions such as the Griffin Museum of Photography and she is excited about working with students over the weekend of February 14-15.  The workshop is five hours total (1-3:30pm both days) and will cover how to select the best settings on your camera for photographing your art, how to take great photos both indoors and outdoors, how to transfer your images from your camera into your computer, and then how to improve and organize those images through enhancement, labeling, tagging, culling and managing your files so that future use is easy.

Having organized files of visually appealing images lets you readily create new opportunities for sharing and selling your art.  Students need to bring a laptop and camera to both Saturday and Sunday.

Registration ends at 5pm Wednesday, February 11.  To find out more or join in: or 617-955-3472.  Students must be fully enrolled by the registration deadline in order to participate. The workshop will be hosted at the Eliot School in Jamaica Plain, MA.

We hope you will join us for this workshop or other offerings throughout 2015. To view this year’s Focusing Series catalog, click here.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Introducing The 2015 Focusing Series Team & Workshops!

It's hard to believe the Focusing Series is starting it's fourth year of offering year-round professional development workshops for artists, solopreneurs and small business owners.  I can't begin to express how rewarding it is to work with eager students who want to take their dreams to the next level.  As the Director of the Focusing Series, my goal every year is to offer new workshops and add new instructors to our team, and this year is no exception.  Every one of our instructors is a successful small business owner wanting to share insight into his or her respective field of expertise.

I would like to introduce you to this year's team and this year's catalog.  We are hitting the ground running with two new workshops this month: Getting Your Time, Space & Mind Ready to Create with instructors, Julie Boyer and Anna Koon (me!) on Sunday January 18 from 2-4pm, and So, You Want to be An Entrepreneur with Anna Koon (me, again!) on Monday, January 26 from 6:30-9pm.  The deadline for registration for our first workshop is 5pm Thursday, January 15 and the deadline for registration for the second workshop is 5pm Sunday, January 25.  I have provided our Eventbrite links for registration above (simply click on the workshop title) but you can also sign up by contacting us: or 617-955-3472. 

We look forward to working with you this year!  -The Focusing Series

Meet Our Team:
Julie Boyer: An Organizing Coach who empowers people to use the proper tools to make life work for them, Julie is informed by her artist background (she earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) to help clients embrace organizing as a creative tool.  Julie is also a graduate of Foundation Training and a Certificate Candidate at The Coach Approach for Organizers.  She apprenticed under Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out and Time Management from the Inside Out, and has worked for Julie Morgenstern Enterprises.  Her business is The Organizing Project, based out of Roslindale.

Scott Cipolla: Since 2004 Scott has served as Director of Alternate Currents, a platform developed to bring together contemporary artists from Boston’s diverse neighborhoods and represent them as a whole; encouraging networking and communication between these talented groups through promotional events and curated exhibitions. Since receiving her BFA in painting from Boston University, she has employed her talent for design and marketing through websites, printed materials and event planning. A former gallery owner, Scott has assisted the museums of Harvard University in event planning and arranging educational lectures.  She also works as a freelance artist and organization consultant for small businesses and solopreneurs.

Chris Hawthorne:  Since 1994 Chris has provided integrated and comprehensive insurance coverage and risk management techniques to suit the needs of an array of clients.  He is a published writer and a celebrated speaker, which includes providing education for artists on how to be properly insured.  His expertise in insurance will help everyone interested in protecting their creative ventures. 

Gretjen Helene:  Gretjen serves the photographic needs of businesses and individuals in New England, around the country and on occasion throughout the world. Her mission is to consult for and create the best quality visual materials for all proposed projects. Gretjen holds a BA in Fine Art Photography from the Art Institute of Boston where she subsequently taught for three years. She was the founding director and producer for the publication and gallery showcase ‘Taking In” wherein juried photography comprises a feature of the best work produced annually at The Art Institute of Boston.  Gretjen retired from teaching in 2008 to focus on personal work. She has completed showcases of her photography, installation and poetry work in Alaska, New York and around the Boston area. 

Anne S. Katzeff   A designer and educator, Anne is well-versed in html, CSS and content-management systems.  Word Press is a particular specialty.  She has over 20 years of experience as a print designer with a focus in web design for the past six years.  Anne is the founder and creative director of ASK Design.  She is also a pastel artist and a committee member of the Belmont Gallery of Art.

Anna Koon: In addition to her career as a full-time painter, Anna is a board member and educator for the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.  She is the Director of the Focusing Series and has developed workshops for the Arts & Business Council of Greater Boston, the Danforth Museum and Arts Worcester.  Through Creative Coaching Anna has offered principled guidance and practical assistance to artists and entrepreneurs for over a decade.  Anna also supports her community in her work as a small business consultant.  She has a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, with additional studies at The Atlanta College of Art, and the Photography School of France.