be the artist you are

Marian ParsonsArtistic Endeavors47 Comments

At the end of my post on Friday I shared, “I feel like I’m finding my legs a bit as an artist…trying to embrace the artist I am, not what I wish I was (if that makes sense.)”

Well, it did make sense to several of you and I’ve been thinking about that statement and your responses a lot.

I’m realizing how much I limit myself when, instead of working developing my artistic voice, I focus on other artists I admire and how my work isn’t like theirs and it probably will never be.

I love browsing the works of artists to find inspiration, ideas, and to learn from them, but I constantly have to fight the natural tendency to compare my work to theirs and to allow their talent to discourage me.


If I can’t paint/draw/create like her/him, I shouldn’t even bother.  


First off, I’ve been watching some tutorials on watercolors and pastels.  In a recent video, the instructor pointed out the fact that art is a learned skill.  Yes, some people have a natural knack for it, but it’s a discipline.  You have to practice in order to grow and improve.

I’ve actually said these very words when teaching a photography workshop, but for some reason, I needed to hear it from someone else.

Second, as with all creative endeavors, we bring our unique selves to our work.  It’s not supposed to be the same.

So, I’m going to work on that… being the artist I am.

I want to encourage you to do the same.  Be the designer/decorator/photographer/writer/maker/creative that you are.

It was so prevalent in my thoughts that I painted a little reminder to put in the studio…


…and I decided to make it available to those who are encouraged by it.

Here is the printable… (click on the image to open it in a larger format in a new tab and then download/print from there.



Now that I am thick in my “art phase”, I felt a calling to try pastels.  I have honestly always had an aversion to pastels for the sole reason that they made a total mess of my art box when I was a kid.  And I was not a kid who liked messy, smudgy things, so I picked them out and threw them away.

Recently, though, I’ve seen some amazing work with pastels and I wanted to give it a try.  I stopped by an art store and picked up a inexpensive set of soft pastels.  I like starting out with supplies that are not very expensive, so I make sure I like the medium and it’s worth the splurge on better supplies.


After watching some tutorials, I worked on a simple sky/landscape scene and I am so excited at this whole new medium to play with!


I showed Jeff my first attempt and he said I should buy some nicer pastels, so I ordered some and will let you know how they are.  I have a lot to learn about blending colors and, well, just about everything else on working with pastels, but I’m looking forward to the journey.


Some of you have asked about buying prints or originals of my work and it just makes my heart sing that you’re even asking!  It’s like when I first started painting furniture and I could hardly believe it when a piece sold.  People complimenting your work is one thing, but when they spend good money to buy it, that is quite another.

I just need to figure out all of the ropes of making prints and decide what the best route is for my work.


And, honestly, I could use a little more time to practice…

be the artist you are

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47 Comments on “be the artist you are”

  1. Your post has perfect timing for me! I love my lettering until I see others work that I pin or save for inspiration and then the comparison starts. I will remember your painting and start being the artist I am meant to be !

  2. I love your sky/landscape scene. I hope you make prints of it to sell. You are crazy talented. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I hope to meet you someday.

  3. Isn’t it amazing what happens when we allow ourselves to just be and have fun! You will eventually be aware of “your style” with painting just as it has become obvious in your other endeavors.

  4. I love the clouds! I’m so happy for you that you have found this new passion to further life’s journey. Keep putting yourself out there… look where it has taken you so far!

  5. One of things I have struggled with, that I’m sure many do, is I’m too old to try to start some new stuff. Which is a total lie. But I buy into it. The fact that so much of what you do isn’t something you developed through teen years and went into as a profession intentionally, but rather stumbled on it, REALLY encourages me!!! Thanks so much for sharing so much of yourself so people like me can get their brave on. 🙂

  6. I would LOVE to post your print in my art class for my students! The link says the print is protected? do I need a smug mug account? Been following you for years!! Thanks Marion!

    1. Looks like a smug mug account is necessary . . . but what does that involve? Any fee for subscription? Wondering . . . .

  7. I am so happy for you that you are discovering and developing these God-given gifts. Keep being brave!

  8. Please do pursue your artistic side. I love seeing your painted furniture but this art seems to bring out the REAL you. And I don’t even know you, so it must be pretty powerful.
    I truly enjoy your blog and all that you do, but the painting and sketching takes everything up to a whole other level.
    I hope you can figure out how to market your art. I have never purchased from a blog but I would break that rule for one of your watercolors.
    Best to you! a follower in Connecticut

  9. Beautiful work, Marian, you are a woman of many talents. Do you feel, in a way, that you have “come full circle,” as you did start out painting designs on walls?

  10. Thanks for writing this post. You clearly communicated everything I was trying to say yesterday 🙂 I want to download your watercolor, but apparently I need a smugmug account to do so…

    I know someone who could guide you as far as printing your watercolors – I’ll send you the information by email.

  11. Gorgeous clouds! I hate using pastels for the reason you mentioned, the mess and the feeling on ones skin. But you have put them to good use.

  12. Seriously, is there NOTHING that you can’t do well? Anything? Just one little tiny thing? You just start doing watercolor and your very first painting is gorgeous and it only gets better from there. Your first pastel drawing – beautiful. I’ve recently started doing watercolors as well, and believe me, I would not want to show too many people. You are my hero!

  13. Marian, i love this, and can use this print in my office/craft room. I to always feel the signs i am now painting and selling are not good enough, even though i have sold some to strangers! Strangers that couldn’t decided which one they liked best, what a great feeling. Hopefully you get that print up and working so we can print it. ; )

  14. I have always been an artist first. For the last 7 year it has taken me into creating black reborn dolls instead of 2d fine art but like you I am in a new season in life. New home in a month, redecorating my taste in home decor has shifted dramatically as have my artistic goals. I am now feeling a pull more and more each day to get back into fine arts and work less on dolls but I too compare myself and abilities a lot which for me leave me doing nothing but dreaming and never putting pen to paper. I have to stop that. This post sunk in with me and I am going to try to be the artist I am and not expect to come out swinging as Degas on my first piece I attempt in really 10 years since art college.

  15. Hi Marian,
    Was looking thru some past posts and when I saw Sebastian on his new dog bed my heart almost stopped! Don”t know how or where you got him, but has anyone ever told you he could be an English Shepherd? The reason I ask is because he looks so much like the dog my family had when I was a kid, “Blackie”. She was dumped off near our house and we adopted her. We always assumed she was a “mutt”, but after researching several years ago I am convinced she was an English Shepherd and we never knew what a jewel we had. She was the best dog we ever had. The history of the English Shepherd is very interesting. They came from England with the early settlers of this country. They were considered a farm dog and as the settlers moved west they took the dogs with them. Living in Gettysburg as you do, with so much history associated with it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sebastian has a very interesting pedigree! At any rate, he’s becoming quite the celebrity and we’re glad you’ve given him a proper dog bed (smile). Seriously, though, it’s very interesting to look up the history of the English Shepherd and I wish we had known all those years ago what a treasure we had.

    1. OK, just read the September post about getting Sebastian, sounds just like how our Blackie fit into our family after being a stray. You guys have an awesome dog and I still think he may have some English Shepherd in him, but regardless, he is special.

  16. Hi Marian, Thanks so much for the free download. The very awesome thing you will find about oil pastels especially as a mom and a busy person, doing many things that may pull you away from your art, is that you can work and blend the color like oils or acrylics, for that matter, but you do not have to worry about the paint drying out before you can get back to what you are working on. You just put the pastels back in the box and they are good until the next time. No wasted paint- and as you know paint and art supplies are not cheap! One caveat is that kids will think they are crayons, and they are like crayola on steroids as far as getting a stain out. They may really test your new stain resistant couch, so warn the fellas… Also- usually NOT non-toxic, because they often contain the elements in their name (cadmium, etc). Such a brilliant picture, though! Love the blue sky!


  18. Clouds are always a favorite of my mine when I do art, clouds and fabric.:) That shadowing is so dramatic. Your clouds are perfection, my dear! So happy for you as you grow and enjoy the path God has given you.

  19. I can so readily identify with all you are feeling about your art. I took up painting with acrylics a few years ago. Now at 62, I still enjoy a weekly painting class and am about to create two large framed canvases for my living room. This is a big step for me to put my art on display for all to critique but I am sure that in creating it I will experience a journey filled with growth, doubt, satisfaction and frustration. Your art is lovely and I very much enjoy reading about your journey and the process!

  20. I can totally relate to your feeling about pastels being messy! That’s why I used to work in acrylics and silk dyes instead of charcoal or pastels even though I was very good with charcoal in college. Can’t stand the mess! 🙂

    Judging by your first attempt at this new medium, I think it will pretty soon become “your thing” though… That landscape is VERY good!

    I still have to remember to “be the artist I am” with my wire wrapped jewelry instead of constantly bemoaning the fact that I can’t have a torch and the whole metalsmithing bunch of equipment where I live right now. Gotta “bloom where I am planted!”

  21. Marion, from what I can see you have already developed your own style as an artist and, I think a really good one at that.

    Have a good day, and thank-you for encouraging us with your creativirty.


  22. Soft pastels are my preferred art medium that I find easy in achieving the vision in my mind with little or no help although watching different artists on YouTube never fails to inspire me. Here is a charcoal/pastel /Photoshop piece I did a while back.
    see link below to picture on my Etsy shop GhosTales

    For someone like me who loves all forms of Art ,I was brought up in the mindset that if I couldn’t draw/paint like a master there was no reason to study the subject. I could never make a living from it especially if I lacked talent. But I loved it and I had a passion for it and those were two of the key ingredients into becoming in effect an artist but I didn’t know that then.

    The desire to create is to us all and we begin by imitating art and then with time and practice we bloom into an original.
    All those early years I had lost precious time to study art until one day when the Internet was barely new and I was so much older than before, I landed on an artist’s channel on YouTube; Suzi Blu, an artist and teacher from New Jersey who gave me the confidence and guided me into finding my inner talent. Through her tutorials, I painted some lovely pieces and some awful pieces that I quickly threw out, later down the road regretting the act. Some advice on original artwork, think many times over before throwing that awful artwork into the fire pit : ) Some of those awful pieces I luckily took photographs of before their demise and incorporated them into Photoshop creating some wonderful artworks.

    Those first days I started painting; I was inspired and dissuaded all at the same time. I found I needed the inspiration but seeing the gorgeous artwork of other artists dissolved my focus on the artwork in front of me, eventually I realized what was most important to becoming my own artist was to utilize what my soul envisioned and create it whatever way I could achieve it i.e. In Pastels, Oils, Acrylics, Photoshop etc.
    Each piece of artwork begged for a special medium to be created in and I had found my muse in creating art. Art is always evolving and there will always be better artists than myself. Art is the imitation of life and life is the imitation of art.
    We all borrow from every venue in life be it art, music, literature, movies, recipes, architecture…. etc, etc, etc but in the end, we make it our own…. Original.

    I am notorious for collecting pictures, testing different mediums and they all contribute to the creation of an art piece. Now, as for selling my work, I’m afraid I haven’t discovered the best way as yet , but I’m working on it. Maybe if you find a good way please let me know.

    Thanks for the encouraging post, Mariam and enjoy those gorgeous pastel colors.

  23. You are doing some amazing things. I love your attitude of self-criticism, then re-thinking what you’ve accomplished from where you started…and then, trying something new and challenging. I like your husband’s support. How valuable is that? Keep up the good work! You’re doing great!

  24. You are a talented photographer, to make prints, take some photos of your work. Crop them on Adobe Photoshop and enhance as much as you desire. Save to a thumb drive and take this to your local print maker. He or she will load them onto their computer and print onto watercolor paper. My printmaker can print several across very wide paper and cut them.

    Keep up the good work.

  25. It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. Pablo Picasso.

  26. As a watercolor artist I have enjoyed watching your process of getting to know the medium and steadily improving with practice. I was really impressed when I saw this pastel landscape you did! I hope you will do more pastels in addition to watercolor. You are very talented in both mediums.

  27. You are truly talented! I’m always amazed at how well and how quickly you seem to pick up a new skill.

  28. God has blessed you with all of your wonderful gifts, many of our gift come so easily and others are so much more work to master. Marian you are so wise to recognise that you love others work but one day we all will see the star that you are nurturing “Glow” so brightly and you will look back on this beginning and wonder why there was any doubt at all.


  29. **Those CLOUDS!** Sigh! I live in dirty, stinky, polluted Los Angeles, and we don’t usually get a sky that looks like that. i would love a wide, narrow (sort of like the Victorian era yard-long prints) print of those clouds to hang over my bed! Your landscape is beautiful!

  30. A quote I saw somewhere- “be yourself, because everyone else is taken” rings so true. Seems like we all struggle with this in some way. Your art is so you and the joy of the artist is revealed!

  31. I suspect you tell your boys to do the best job they can with everything they do! Not only as artists,but as humans…lets be the best we can be! I

  32. Hi Marian, I’m not sure if this is a true story of not but it might give you confidence “)

    The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”

  33. Beautiful, just beautiful! I agree with the “is there anything you cannot do?”. Thank you for the encouragement! I love art but fight with being too “imperfect” and not good enough. This message was balm to my soul. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I encourage my friends but do not encourage myself. Enjoy the journey!!

  34. I applaud Jeff for suggesting “nicer pastels.” I a firm believer in using the very best supplies, equipment, ingredients, fabrics, you can reasonably afford when first trying a new creative adventure. The “best” cost more for a reason and the quality of the art material can make or break the quality of the completed “product.” Think of it this way…..if a novice painter asked me what paint I’d suggest she use for her first furniture painting project, I would always name brands I considered the very best….including Miss Mustard Seed. That being said, your artwork is beautiful to behold and I’m sure causing many would be artist a big itch to give it a try. Thank you. You may enjoy seeing

  35. Marian, you are a natural! Art is in your DNA, and it is good! God has gifted you with a talent that few can boast……so I know you will take it seriously, and eventually God will lead you to the place that He envisions for you. How very blessed you are! I love your blog and all that it projects. Keep up the good work in all things!

  36. I love your message, but I disagree with you about the materials.

    I believe you should always buy the best materials you can afford, because the way they work changes dramatically depending on substrate, tools and etc. In watercolour for instance, the weight of the paper makes a HUGE difference in how the paint flows; similarly, if you are using inexpensive paints that have are grainy, when you switch to better paints, you have to totally relearn how to use watercolour. The same goes for brushes – a squirrel mop it totally different than an acrylic one of the same size. Buy the best you can.

    Speaking of pastels, that pastel paper is really expensive isn’t it!?! Woah. 🙂

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