Here’s My Top 3 most memorable experiences so far as an artist. What’s yours?

Kelli with diploma 2011

As I mentioned in the last blog, this month marks my 10 year anniversary as a full-time artist! I graduated from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts with a B.F.A. in May 2011! Woohoo! So this month I’m celebrating that. I’m still going strong and loving every minute of being an artist, teacher, and entrepreneur after ten years. 

So thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and my work all these years! You’ve made it possible for me to thrive as an artist. You’re so awesome! 

Being a self employed artist can come with many of it’s ups and downs, but in this blog I want to focus on the ups! Because I’ve had a lot of those over the years. 

So here’s my TOP 3 most memorable experiences so far as an artist: 

(Dang it was so hard to choose! There’s been so many.)

1. My artist residency in Bulgaria.

Yes, I went to Bulgaria! It was an unexpected series of events that led to this. When asked if I wanted to go I blurted out YES! Without even thinking and then I asked, “Where the hell is Bulgaria?”  

That was the start of a fun and crazy journey that I’ll never forget. It was my first trip ever to Europe and I was 32 years old. I took my darling Monte (my boyfriend) with me and we had quite the adventure there. We drank rakia and ate chocolate wafers with the locals in the grass on a 100 degree summer day. Monte almost got pierced in the butt by a cow horn. I got him a gaida freshly made mind you. So basically I had a goat killed that day without knowing it. Surprised I got that back in the country. We got lost many times driving and had to duck tape our side-view mirror. Finding the duck tape in a country with a Slavic language was a feat in and of itself. I didn’t shave for weeks and we slept on army cots. Plus we learned a lot about a post-communist country.

Monte’s encounter with a large cow while painting in Bulgarian village
Roses Over a Village Wall in Bulgaria 2011 – Archived Artist Collection

All in all, this experience is still definitely one of the most memorable! Notice I didn’t say it was the most favorite, happiest, or best experience.That’s not always what makes something memorable.

2. My first trip to Paris 

My first trip to Paris followed the Bulgaria residency. Talk about contrast! I immediately shaved my legs, pits, put on a bra and started dressing nicer instantly. I had a hard time reconciling the contrast between the two places because there was a certain natural and relaxed vibe to Bulgaria that I enjoyed.But Paris definitely won out! Why? Because Paris showed me why art was important. It showed me what we can do as human beings. It showed me what true beauty was. And that it comes from trying. It comes from doing your best, pushing yourself to be your best. I felt instantly the magical power that is being human. 

As humans we have thought, talent, skills, vision, passion that when combined lead us all to an elevated uplifted experience on this earth. Paris changed my life and deepened my commitment to my art. It’s still my very favorite place on earth. 

One of the first still life’s I ever sold in the student holiday art show. Cascading Carnations 2010 24×20”

3. The student holiday art sale 

Why is it the firsts always stand out to us as the most memorable? Well anyways this was the first time that I showed my artwork and that collectors bought it. It was a non-juried student-run art sale. The students had to hang their own art and work the opening of the show. It was my third year of art school and my confidence was still waning. But I decided I was going all in on this show. I framed up every painting I had that was reasonable. Put a price on them for the first time and hung them at the school gallery. I had little biography cards made up to give to collectors with my contact information on it too. I was shocked that other students didn’t do the same. 

The opening came and as I told you I was all in. So I signed up to work the whole opening night. I greeted every guest who walked through the door with emphatic joyful energy. Often I’d see their demeanor change immediately after I spoke to them. Enthusiasm and joy are contagious you know. It goes a long way when you’re able to lift someone up into an enthusiastic mood. That night my enthusiasm was unbridled and I sold so many of my paintings.

One of my first paintings ever sold. New England Clouds 8×10” 2010 

As soon as one would sell I’d pop another one I had up in its place before someone else could get my spot. 

That night was such a joy filled with celebration. More importantly it gave me confidence, hope, and faith that I could make it as a full time artist doing what I loved. Because I wasn’t even that good yet!

Boy it’s fun looking back on these memories and there’s so much more, but I didn’t want to overload you.

Now let’s hear it from YOU! What’s your most memorable moment when it comes to making or buying art? Share with me in the comments below please and thank you. 

P.S. My birthday is May 31st and this is my 10 year art anniversary! So to celebrate I’ll be having a killer sale with huge discounts. So if you haven’t already – Join my collector’s circle to win a FREE print of one of my paintings! I will be announcing the winner in next week’s newsletter. Click here to join:

Love in Light, Kelli

8 thoughts on “Here’s My Top 3 most memorable experiences so far as an artist. What’s yours?

  1. Dianne, thank you so much for sharing these special and heartfelt moments!! Each one is so beautiful and sentimental. I know your son and relatives feel all the love you put into creating something so special for them <3

  2. Thank you so much for sharing Phyllis!! That is HUGE!! congratulations on not only being proclaimed Best in Show but for putting it all out there regardless of the fear and uncertainty. It isn’t easy and I’m so proud of you, this is definitely a memorable celebration!

  3. As a commercial newspaper artist for department stores my most exciting event was winning a National award in the Public Service Newspaper Ad category for a Halloween notice to “Beware of Witches.” All in black and white: a witch on a broomstick with my original font used for the copy.
    The second happiest art for me is a pen and ink rendition of my husband’s country home that is hanging in our son’s house. Every photograph of his wife’s advancing pregnancies (2) includes that drawing. That drawing means so much to my son as his father is no longer with him.
    Third is really a collection of pen and ink (and two pencil) drawings of various scenes and figures from my family’s past that are in my and my relatives homes.
    (I love pen and ink drawings using Koh-I-Nor Rapidiograph and Faber-Castell TG pens since they both have so many different interchangeable nibs)!

  4. Kelli- how nice that you let us celebrate with you. It is indeed an occasion!!! My biggest memory and encouragement came when I was juried into a big show here in Montana in Great Falls. You know the show. I had just retired and just starting to show my art. So I felt very scared, vulnerable, and unsure that I was good enough to even show my art. Then I got “Best of Show” among 60 great artists. I really needed that and to be recognized was a pivotable moment for me. I have gotten other awards since but that was the most important to me as a person.

  5. Wow!!! Thank you so much for sharing Elaine, that is an INCREDIBLE adventure in Florence, I can see why it’s your most memorable 🙂 Feel free to share your painting from Florence in the VITAL facebook group in today’s question post. (Its under the Announcement tab for easy finding). I’d love to see it!

  6. Ok, here’s my most memorable moment. First to explain… Cut to 2017….
    I was asking by my son in law, Andy, as a matter of urgency, would I paint something for his friends wedding as being best man he’d forgotten to buy a wedding gift and had told them something “special” was on order but would take a while. I didn’t even own a paintbrush let alone had I ever painted anything! I was horrified, I said no, I can’t possibly etc, but he sent me 2 dreadful photos taken with his mobile.
    Anyway I went out bought all I thought I’d need, everything as cheap as I could find and turned to YouTube, books, free videos and after 6 months I had what I thought was a half decent painting. Looking back it would be going over the garden wall now.
    Then one evening in 2018, 9.00pm we got a phone call from Andy, “ look at your emails and follow the instructions“, it said “go in the kitchen and play “make someone happy” on the Sonos then open the next email’
    It said “Mum, you’re going to Florence, for a month, staying in a lovely hotel 2 minutes away from the Duomo.
    You’re going to be studying at the Leonardo da Vinci academy of art, studying portraiture.
    It’s all booked and paid for, hotel, food, flights etc, all you need is to get your materials and here’s the list.
    And the good news is I ( my daughter Amy) will be joining you for the first week so we can be sure you don’t get lost in Florence.” (No I’m not good with directions.)
    I couldn’t believe it, I’d never been away on my own before and the thought of studying there just terrified me.
    Well I needn’t have worried, it was an experience of a lifetime, I made lots of new friends (all the students were very young compared to me but actually they were such fun) and I learned a lot. I spent hours in the Uffizi gallery marvelling at the artwork, and just inhaled Florence like I could never have done on a day trip.
    Well, that was the start of my art journey, such an adventure, and discovering Kelli has been one of the best things I’ve done since then. Thanks Kelli.
    If I knew how to post a photo I’d share what I actually painted while I was there. 🤗

  7. Dearest Kelli, Indeed, you have much to celebrate this month. You have come a long way and have made a name and created a reputation for yourself in the art world. You have earned this by being true to your self, sharing so much of yourself with others, reaching beyond, branching out, challenging yourself at every opportunity. That is truly noteworthy, remarkable and an example to so many. Happy BFA 10 year anniversary and Happy Birthday. I’m proud to know you, to watch your on-going and well-deserved success, to follow your path ahead with Monti.
    Love and hugs,

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