Do what you love and go on a fantastic journey.

This is post 10 in my 10 post blog series on using Beth Kempton’s PDF titled “Zen and the Art of Doing what you Love.”  The Steps and journal prompts are taken from her PDF. You can also join Beth’s Do What You Love e-course, which will help you with a step-by-step process in finding your true passion to get on a path to doing what you love!


Journal prompts: There isn’t a journal prompt in the pdf for #10.

But there are some suggestions to try such as, “Declare to your friends and family that you are choosing to do what you love, and put a plan in place to embark on your journey.”

Flying Fish painting

© Lindy Gaskill, “A Fantastic Journey”, 24″ x 30″, acrylic on wood

When I was young, like in high school, I thought that I would like to have a career in the arts. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a fine artist or a graphic artist. (You can read more about that in my Artist Journey Series on my blog.) I eventually chose the commercial art route and got a degree in Fine Art specializing in graphic design. Fortunately it also allowed me to do my fine art on the side as well.

I tell people I’ve had a dual career as a fine artist and a graphic artist. It’s been a good mix for me. And now as I get more into licensing my art, my graphic design background is even more helpful.

I feel very grateful I’m able to follow my passion in the arts and make a career of what I love.

I hope if you’re not doing what you love, that you will look into how you can change your life’s direction and connect with your true calling. Good luck and good thoughts to you!


Learning new approaches in my art

As I wrote earlier, I’m taking the super awesome painting e-course by Flora Bowley called Bloom True. But it’s not just about painting! It’s about intuition, meditation, playfulness, yoga, letting go, not judging, trusting the process, being open and a whole lot more!

I just love it!

I’m painting on 2 canvases (actually wood boards) for the class but then I have a bunch more pieces I’m working on too.  I’m incorporating what I’ve learned from the course with a mix of what I already know about painting. A lot of what Flora is teaching us incliudes things that I learned from Peggy Zehring a number of years ago but with a slightly different take. This e-course is just what I’ve needed to grow and further my path as an artist. I’m so grateful I signed up for the Bloom True e-course!

We’re using lots of different kinds of tools and brushes as well as our fingers and thick and fluid acrylic paint.


This is a large painting I started but since I took this photo it has changed. One starts with an undercoat of personal mark making.

Large painting

It transformed into this


and then this


Check back later for more of the progression on this piece.

It is so fun to play with paint and make different and unusual marks. Here are a few more I’ve started. They also have since been transformed since I took this photo.

Bloom True Paintings

Here’s some detail of early mark making.



Having fun with color is an artist’s dream! So I am really enjoying this!





Trust is a big part of this course. Because all the different mark making can feel chaotic and bring up different emotions, I have to trust that every mark I’m making is meant to be there and it’s all okay. It’s okay to cover up the different areas with new marks and experiment and try different things. There is no right or wrong and that is a good thing to remember as an artist.

Art is about creating and not about putting judgements on myself about whether I am doing it right. And that thought is very freeing. It allows me to just create and let the marks come from my intuition and feelings. Allowing the brush in my hand to stay loose and free flowing is something I need more practice on and I’m so enjoying this practice!

Check back later for more about my painting sessions.

Happy creating!

~ Lindy

The Journey Continues

I love the Brave Girls Club email from today.

Heresthetruth(Header art by the Brave Girl’s Club)

Dear Lovely Girl,

Are you suffering from destination frustration? It’s quite amazing that we often really really really let ourselves believe that ‘someday’ we will get ‘there’. Someday we will have it all figured out, someday we will have the perfect day, or the perfect body, or the perfect year, or the perfect family, or the perfect marriage. And then we hold on to that belief and we wait and wait and wait for the happiness it will bring, and work and work and work for it, making us blind to all of the things that are gifts in the every day.

The fact is, we never really do get ‘there’ and have it stay ‘there’ for any length of time without the same amount of work that it took to get ‘there’. The journey just continues until the day we die. This is why it’s so important to understand that it’s all about the journey. It’s about using your best china every day, and saying the words in your heart every day, and treating every day like it might be the last day and not waiting any more.

Because really, the only destination that we truly have control over is our mindset. And that can happen NOW. So why wait? THIS IS YOUR LIFE. TODAY. RIGHT NOW.

Make the most of it. See that you already are someONE wonderful even though you might have been tricked into thinking that it’s all about being on the way to someWHERE wonderful. 

You are there because you are you.

And you are so loved.

And what is my “there” that I’m trying to get to?

My painting style. Lately I’ve been frustrated with what I’m doing in my work. I want it to be something different but I’m not sure what I want it to be and I’ve been fussing over getting there. But this Brave Girl’s Club email reminds me to relax and enjoy the journey right now. That the shift I’m feeling will happen when it happens and I shouldn’t push it or worry about it or think there is something better than what I’m doing right now. It reminds me to be happy and stop worrying about having the perfect painting.

I think this shift in style I’m after will happen over time whether I want it to or not. It just will. If my mindset is that I want a change in style then it will most likely happen…slowly….it will. Things like this can’t be forced.

But it will only happen if I’m in the studio painting!

I’ve been trying to spend more time doing just that and less time doing other things like being on the computer! Although I love my computer and I admit to being quite the computer nerd, it does suck the time away from my studio time.

I have a bunch of projects under way that I’ve been working on. One of them is the Place::Twelve exhibit painting.

The theme of the show is How Bend’s Past Inspires the Present. The exhibit will showcase the work of 13 juried artists, with me being one of them. Twelve of the artists select a historic photo of Bend from the archives of the Des Chutes Historical Museum and create a work of art inspired from the photo.

The photo I chose is of Klondike Kate.

Kate Rockwell aka Klondike Kate
Kate Rockwell aka Klondike Kate

She was a Bend resident who was involved in the community back in the early 1900’s. She lived in Bend for 30 years! She volunteered her time and efforts to the hospital and the local fire department. She helped purchase Bend’s first fire truck.

My painting is a conceptual piece. It’s not supposed to be just a painting of Klondike Kate. This photo is to be inspiration for a painting about how Bend’s Past Inspires the Present. I’m painting a work that shows how one person can set the chain in motion to inspire others. It’s about women who give of their time and effort to the community. How one person can inspire another. My painting is titled “Women in Rhythm.”

I started with some sketches and then I made a preliminary painting before I started the final version. My preliminary painting is one I became very frustrated with because of that “style” thing….I wanted it to be different…and it wasn’t turning out the way I wanted. Then I started another painting and this one flowed. This one was more like it. This one I was feeling that shift. I’ll show you some pics after I do the final touches on it . So stay tuned.

So what is your “there” that you’ve been trying to get to and can you relate to the Brave Girl’s Club email too?

Happy journey to you.

Part 5: One Artist’s Journey 40-50 yrs old

This continues my 5 part series about my Artist Journey. Part 5 is between the years 2000-2010.

I took another inspiring Peggy Zehring Experimental Drawing and Painting Workshop in the San Juan Islands before moving to Portland in 1999. It was so awesome! 5 days of painting in the coolest place ever! I always get really jazzed after taking one of Peggy’s workshops!

My paintings from the class explored the light that you see/feel during each part of the day. There were 6 in this abstract “Light” series, 38″ x 40″, acrylic on canvas. “Sunset” and “Morning” are below. I would end up showing these paintings later in 2000 at the Talisman Gallery in Portland.

Sunset, Acrylic on Canvas
Sunset, Acrylic on Canvas
Morning, Acrylic on Canvas
Morning, Acrylic on Canvas

I moved to Portland just in time for Y2K. I had great expectations for the new year! I thought I would freelance doing graphic production work as I had in NYC and Seattle but it was a hard gig to break into! Everyone already had their freelancers lined up. I was a little bummed because it meant I would have to look for fulltime work! I did do some freelance for Wieden + Kennedy and a few others before I got a job at an ad agency in Beaverton. Working full time makes it hard to find time to paint! Although I did love my job.

But Art always prevails so I would paint in the evenings after work.

The first series I worked on in Portland were the “Purple Spirit Tree” paintings, I had started doing some small studies of the trees while I was in Seattle preparing to move. And then I worked on my whimsical “Chair” Series. These two series were about putting down roots. Planting myself on the ground and staying put. I was ready to settle down, buy a house, get married, stay in Portland for awhile and that is exactly what happened. It’s funny how once you get some of your lessons learned and you decide in your heart what you want, the Universe provides.

Purple Spirit Tree I
Purple Spirit Tree I
Tied to the Sky
Tied to the Sky

I continued painting my whimsical paintings. I also was going to school at Marylhurst University and taking Art Therapy courses. As I recall, I was getting spread pretty thin. Working full time, going to school part time and finding time to paint and have a relationship! Something had to go! I decided to give up the Art Therapy studies. It was okay though. I decided I could do volunteer work if I wanted to work with people doing art. What I really wanted was to paint! More time for painting makes me happy!

Whimsical Womb
Whimsical Womb

I answered a Call for Artists and started showing my work at the Talisman Gallery on Alberta Street. That was a great gallery for me, and I made some wonderful friendships there. It felt good to be showing my work again and settling into my new Portland life.

I loved Portland…except for one little bad thing that happened…someone stole one of my paintings! It was titled, “One Learned to Spin”. I was showing it in an exhibit near the gallery in a public area of a small shopping mall. And someone took it! So if you see it somewhere, it’s mine! My poor missing baby.

One Learned to Spin
One Learned to Spin

In 2002, I found out about painted floorcloths. The floorcloth below is one I made and donated to a Habitat For Humanity fundraiser. I made a bunch of them. My favorite was one I had under my dining room table for years till it wore out, otherwise I’d show it to you. I made all different sizes and designs on my floorcloths. You can learn more about floorcloths at Kathy Cooper’s Floorcloth website. Hers are really gorgeous and helped inspire me to create mine!

Acrylic on Canvas Floorcloth
“My Home” Acrylic on Canvas Floorcloth

In 2003, I married Peter Hanson and we moved to Bend where Peter had family. Life was good.


Susan Luckey Higdon, an artist putting together an Artist Collective in Bend, discovered my work hanging at an exhibit at the Sage Cafe. She invited me to start showing my work at the Tumalo Art Co. gallery. And that is what I started doing and I’m still showing there today.

I’m sad to say that Peter died from colon cancer in 2005. He was 45.

And here I would like to stop, and mention, the importance I feel in everyone getting checked for colon cancer! I’m a real advocate for early detection! Please go have that colonoscopy! Just do it because it could save your life! Peter had stage 4 cancer which means it had metastasized. It spread to his liver and lungs. Early detection is crucial to survival from this horrible disease! But that is another story.

Then I started working on my Door painting. It was a solid mahogany door. Peter had helped me finish it and prepare it for painting. I knew I wanted to paint a tree with birds on it. Pete and I had discussed what it would look like. He even made a sketch of what he thought I should paint. That makes me smile. His idea was different from mine. I began the painting and it evolved into a beautiful enchanted world. It sold to someone who lived back East.

The Door Painting "Step into Enchantment" hanging in it's new home.
“Step into Enchantment” hanging in it’s new home.

I painted more enchanted worlds with my Tulip series of paintings.

She Said Speak to me of Peace
She Said Speak to Me of Peace
She Said Reclaim the Treasure
She Said Reclaim the Treasure

And more whimsical worlds.

Nourished by the Mystery
Nourished by the Mystery

I’ve continued expanding my love of art and the creative process. I’ve won some awards and in 2007 was chosen as the Deschutes Brewery Jubelale artist. Getting this national exposure has been a great experience and I’m grateful for the publicity. My artwork for the Jubelale painting was inspired by the mountains and snow surrounding this area.

2007 Jubelale Painting by L. Gruger
2007 Jubelale Painting by L. Gruger
Jubelale Six Pack
Jubelale Six Pack

I started doing my bird paintings when we moved to Bend. In our yard, we have lots of birdhouses in trees and on the side of the garage, and I love putting bird feeders out in the fall and winter. In the summer, I hang hummingbird feeders off the back deck. I love watching the antics of these little creatures as they flit and flutter about.

He Felt The Light Go To His Heart
He Felt the Light Go to His Heart
One Lives in an Enchanted Garden
One Lives in an Enchanted Garden

The next series I worked on was my Native American Symbolic paintings. In 2006, I purchased a tipi. I’ve been interested in the Native American culture for as long as I can remember. My friend was sewing tipi’s for Nomadics, tipi makers near Sisters, Oregon. I went with her one day to deliver her sewn tipis. We spend about 45 minutes sitting in the most beautiful tipis that Nomadics had on their property. They were gorgeous inside. I felt like I was in a womb…so comforting and warm. It felt healing to my spirit. I bought one and had a tipi raising party for my birthday. I painted the outside of it with dancing horses and a protective warrior spirit.

Tipi in the trees.
Belle loves the tipi.
Belle loves the tipi.
Tipi at Sunset
Warrior Spirit on Tipi

And then came the paintings.

Wisdom Warrior
Wisdom Warrior
White Bird Knows
White Bird Knows
Proud Eagle
Proud Eagle

Greg-June09BWIn Oct. 2007 I met Greg. In Oct. of 2008 we traveled to Costa Rica for an inspiring adventure.

My sweet man and I decided we would go to Baja, Mexico in Nov. 2008 for 6 months for even more adventure! I quit my full-time job at an ad agency in Bend. We left in  Nov. 2008 and came home in May 2009. I know, this is the short version.

(You’ll have to look through my old blog for more about Baja life, art and photos.)

We had so much fun in Baja! And we hope to go back there in the near future.

Lindy in Baja Studio
Me in Baja Studio

In Baja, I was able to paint lots! I learned a lot too! I learned how to make art videos. I became very involved in the online world. I started this Blog, joined Twitter and Facebook and when I came home, I opened my Etsy Shop.

In Baja, I painted whimsical worlds and birds…and a few palm trees.

She Heard the Desert Calling
She Heard the Desert Calling
My Family Plays with Color
My Family Plays with Color

While in Baja, I started putting white dots into my paintings which to me represents connectivity and energy.

Singing a Fiesta Song
Singing a Fiesta Song

Today I’m working on more bird paintings and my Dream Garden series which I’m really loving. It feels very healing and spiritual to paint these images.

Meditation Garden
Meditation Garden
Living in the Light of Awakening Dreams
Living in the Light of Awakening Dreams
She Watched One Thread Blossom
She Watched One Thread Blossom

I did a recent small series of Metaphysical Landscapes which I enjoyed doing because they combine my whimsical worlds with the dot patterns and symbolic shapes which I love. I call them Mindscapes.

Mountain Song
Mountain Song

mindscapesAnd that pretty much takes me up to today. I hope this wasn’t too long to read. I had a lot to cover so it might sound a little dry. We all have a story to tell and I love reading other people’s stories and how they got to where they are. I hope you’ll share a bit of your story with me in the comments.

Part 4: One Artist’s Journey – 30-40 yrs old

This continues my 5 part series about my artist journey.

Part 4 is between the years 1989-1999. It will be a long post because a lot happened in that decade!

I’m glad I kept an art journal during this time because there were so many paintings and series that it would be difficult to keep track of the order if not for my writings. I had a hard time choosing which paintings I wanted to share. I took slides of all my work so I have quite a few to choose from.


Around the time I was creating art furniture (you can read about that in Part 3), I begun painting large acrylic cactus paintings which lasted through about 1991. They were very graphic looking with straight lines and shapes which is no surprise coming from a graphic design background.

I painted quite a few of these large paintings and did a few commissions. I had a love of the southwest and wanted to someday live near Santa Fe, New Mexico. That never happened but that comes later in the story.

This is what I wrote in my journal about creating the cactus paintings.

“I liked doing them but they seemed time consuming and costly with all the paint I used. The cactus and it’s triangle spikes I really love. The desert is a special, beautiful place.”

My 30’s were about figuring out what life was about. Most of my friends were getting married and having children. I hadn’t met the “one” yet. I knew I would meet him someday but I had to be patient. One of my painting series was titled, “What’s it all about? They were acrylic and collage and I often would paint the frame as well. The triangles and spirals were oil pastel on paper cut into shapes. I used these same triangle shapes in my art furniture.

"It's About Choice"
“It’s About Choice”
"It's About Peace"
“It’s About Peace”
"It's About Youth"
“It’s About Youth”

I had every intention of painting twelve in this series. I completed eight when one night I discovered a new way of painting.

“That night was incredibly exciting for me. I had a piece of wax paper with loads of paint on it. Mixed. It looked beautiful in itself. So I decided to use it. I scraped into it, I put the triangle shapes in it. Then pressed it onto a sheet of paper. I peeled it away to find a gorgeous painting but still with too much paint on it. So I pressed another sheet onto that sheet. Which absorbed more paint. I pulled it away to find an image very exciting and pleasing to me. I added swirls and cut outs to it. Then I did more.”

This was the start of a new series and the use of wax paper as a painting tool.

presspaintingThis technique started a new series where I would paint or draw into the paint on wax paper and then press it down and lift it back up to reveal a print that I would then manipulate with more paint or collage images.

printedmanI was making monoprints. As I look at them now, they look quite crude. But I remember my excitement and how I loved experimenting with my new printing method.

I did many paintings using this technique and I sold a few at the artist run gallery, Art/Not Terminal Gallery, where I started showing my work. It was my first venture into exhibiting. I loved the camaraderie of the gallery and meeting new people who liked to talk about art!

About this time I was introduced to Peggy Zehring when I took one of her art workshops at the community college. I would continue to take her workshops over the years and she was instrumental in teaching me experimental ways of drawing and painting. She was the first person to tell me that I had a “visual language” and that it was important for me to record my mark making.


TribalThen I started creating some paintings using whimsical black dancing figures. This is where my printing technique of black pattern started showing up in the backgrounds of my paintings. I was learning to create depth in my work.

I loved these earthy tribal characters. I liked the way the figures danced and did yoga and had their own magical world.

I’ve always thought maybe I would paint more of these paintings but I haven’t. Maybe I will again someday.



1993, Lindy showing her painting, "Around the Ancient Tower", at Art Not Terminal Gallery
1993 – Lindy showing her painting, “Around the Ancient Tower” at the Art/Not Terminal Gallery


It was around this time that I wanted to meet some more artists. So I started an Art Group in January of ’93. People came and went in the group but there were about six of us that met once a month for about 2 years. Part of our meeting time was spent experimenting with different media and then doing an art critique afterwards. I think this helped open me up to experimenting with my own art.

I begun painting abstracts. I made my first international sale, “Forward Motion” to a man in Germany. In 1994, I had my first solo show at Post Art in downtown Seattle.

"Forward Motion"
“Forward Motion”
Protected: Gathering the Spirits
Protected: Gathering the Spirits

I kept painting the abstracts but I tried adding collage to them. These I called my “White Series”.



In 1994 I started painting my Blue Mountain series. My painting style was beginning to form.

View For Two
View For Two
My House is as Big as the Moon

That same year I decided I wanted to travel to Europe. I was feeling a need to expand my world.

It took me about a year to save so I could do it but in May of 1995 I went to Europe for 3 months by myself. Backpacking and staying in youth hostels. I met and traveled with many wonderful people. It was an amazing experience and I can say it changed my life. It made me realize what a great big world we live in! I wanted to experience more of that when I got home. Adventure and travel!

I decided again I would save my money to be able to move to another city. I threw the names of 3 cities in a hat and chose New York City. The other cities being Albuquerque, NM…they had an art therapy program there I was interested in because I was thinking of changing my career, and San Diego, a city of sun and fun.

I knew New York was the right choice because I felt so good about it. I couldn’t see moving to New Mexico first because I would never want to leave. But I could see myself moving to New York City, getting tired of it and moving to New Mexico.

So I moved to New York City in December of 1996. I had visited it before and had some friends there so it felt right. Everything fell into place. I got an apartment and started freelancing 3 days a week as a graphic production artist for the same company I had worked for in Seattle. On my other days, I was painting.


My first New York pieces were rather dark. My color palette had changed. I thought I had to paint small because there was little room in my apartment. I began painting on 8″ x 10″ paper and small postcard sized pieces. Soon though I felt the cards calling out to each other and I started to put them together like pieces of a puzzle. I called this my “Whimsical World” Series.

Lyrical World
Lyrical World

I was able to get some art studio space on 14th Street and became involved with a group of artists called the 14th Street Painters. We all shared studio space run by Craig Killy. Craig put together annual exhibitions and open studio events which were very popular.

Lyrical World II
Lyrical World II

I continued working on my Whimsical Worlds series and also a Vessel series. It was during this time, that my painting style really developed. My colors became more vivid.

Life Vessel
Life Vessel
Touching the Spiral
Touching the Spiral

I had many fantastic experiences while living in New York City. But soon I knew it was time for me to leave.

"My Chair" - Purchase Award, School of Visual Arts in Manhattan
“My Chair” – Purchase Award, School of Visual Arts in Manhattan

While I was in NYC, I enrolled in an Art Therapy certificate program at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. I loved the program and was doing volunteer work with pregnant teenage girls making art. I thought I wanted to be an art therapist. I had been talking about becoming an art therapist for about 10 years so I was thrilled to actually be doing something about it.

But I missed the Northwest lifestyle. Hiking and camping and wearing hiking boots and fleece!

I knew of a Masters program in art therapy at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon so I decided to apply. It took a lot of work, taking psych prerequisites and doing volunteer work, but I was able to get into the program. So I moved to Portland, Oregon.

I was in New York City for 2-1/2 years. I made some life long friends who I cherish. I developed a style of painting that I use to this day. I was able to make a living as an artist in the Big Apple, show and sell my work there. I will be forever grateful for those experiences.

But while living there I missed being around “my people”. I missed my friends and family in Seattle. And where were the nature loving, mountain climbing, granola chewing, down to earth folk in New York City? I did meet a few, but they were not in large supply. So in the fall of 1999, I was happy to be moving to Portland, Oregon.

I’ll write more about Oregon living in Part 5 of my One Artist’s Journey series on Feb. 18th.




Part 3: One Artist’s Journey – 20-30 yrs old

This continues my 5 part series about my path as an artist. Part 3 is between the years 1979-1989.

In 1981, I graduated from college with a Bachelors in Fine Art from Washington State University. There was a professor in college who sat me down and made me decide if I wanted to take the academic Fine Art route or go the way of Commercial Art.

Me at 21.
Me at 21.

Thinking I needed a way to make a living, I chose the Graphic Design curriculum. So I had a lot of different basic art classes in college such as drawing, painting, printmaking, art history, photography and I had an emphasis in graphic design, so I mainly studied design and layout and advertising. I decided I could do my Fine Art on the side.

My 20’s were about moving out on my own, starting my career in the graphic arts and having fun. I was a bit of a hippie child, we called it being a granola head. I liked earthy stuff…art, music, being outdoors, hiking, camping, road tripping.

I was doing more graphics work in my personal time then fine art projects. I designed my dad’s wine label for his wine making and did the graphics for my mom’s political campaigns. I was working as a graphic production artist to support myself. My first full-time job out of college was as a paste-up artist (production artist) for a weekly newspaper in Seattle. After a couple of years doing that, I freelanced on my own and then wanting to build up my portfolio, I got a job for McCann-Erickson advertising agency as a production artist and soon after moved into the position of Production Art Manager. All along the way, I was doing my fine art and making paintings!

I enjoyed being a production artist because I got to use my hands to make stuff. Cutting and pasting and using an exacto blade to paste up ads, brochures, posters, mock-up packaging, you name it! I learned typesetting and the printing industry. I liked that I could leave my job at the office and spend my free time making art if I wanted to.

I experimented with different mediums. In 1987-88, I was experimenting with pastels. I remember doing some colorful interior scenes with furniture, sofas and chairs. But I didn’t like them much.


My journal says, “I didn’t like them at all… I cut them up in strips. I wove them. I made patterns from them. It was all experimental for me…as most of my art is…one idea feeding off another…then I dabbled in art furniture.”


My art furniture was painted with acrylic and I collaged pieces of paper with oil pastel colored on it. Then I would coat the entire piece with a varnish which would protect and seal it.

funiturestoolI liked the furniture and sold a number of pieces. I made multiple stools and I have one today in my art studio. I painted lots of different items, from mirrors, coat racks, chairs, lamps, to rocking horses but then I was onto something else.

It was during this time that I had a fondness for anything with a Southwest flavor. I started painting big acrylic cactus paintings which I did till about 1991.

I’ll show you the cactus paintings and my acrylic “What’s it all about” collage painting series in Part 4 of the One Artist’s Journey posts next Thursday.

If you’re interested in functional art furniture, I found a few links of some artists doing exactly that.

Hand painted furniture and other artistic creations by Reincarnations>

LaLoba Designs has some decorative handpainted furniture with a rustic southwest look>

Suzanne Fitch makes beautiful hand painted furniture>

Here’s some fun, funky art furniture I found>

An Etsy artist, Artwork by Jo has some unique things>

The Funky Art Guy has an Etsy Shop that has really fun colorful, whimsical pieces of art furniture>

Or this blog on two partners taking furniture and making it into functional pieces of art >



Part 2: One Artist’s Journey – 10-20 yrs old

Continuing my 5 part series on my Artist Journey…

13yrsBeach girl.

This is me at 13, I dug a big hole at the beach and put a great big log into it. I can’t remember now what I was building but I remember everyone was pretty supportive. I was pretty lucky growing up. Most of my creative endeavors had my family’s support.


Can you tell I grew up in the 70’s from these paintings? I loved creating art in junior high and high school. I graduated in 1977.

We had lots of art books around our house. The big coffee table kind. We would flip through them and see amazing art! I was impressed by all the great art masters. I liked colorful art. I liked the abstract and surreal art.

I mostly loved making fantasy art! I made my first set of greeting card designs when I was 19. I didn’t know how to market them back then though but a lot of my relatives bought them. Thank goodness for family.

Fantasy Greeting Card Designs
Fantasy Greeting Card Designs

I had a vivid imagination. I liked to think up characters and draw them. I used pen and ink, graphite pencil, watercolor, sometimes acrylics. Looks like I had a fascination with aliens.


LGG-Alien1-lowMaybe it was the stories I had heard about flying saucers and alien abductions. I remember there was talk about that back then. Maybe I was feeling a little alien myself as a teenager.

I also kept small sketch books and filled them up with line drawings. In fact, I had journals of all kinds.

I started my dream journal in 1977. I still have it! It’s a pretty big, thick, green notebook. I would record my dreams and sometimes try to interpret them with what I called my “day notes”, trying to see if I could tie what happened during the day with my dreams. I was trying to make sense of life. Isn’t that what one’s teens are all about? Figuring stuff out. It would be what spurred my interest in studying psychology and dream work when I got older.


I also was given my first “empty book” during this time. It was 1975. Inscribed on the front inside cover, my parents wrote, “This book of blank pages is given to our daughter….we know that her creativity will make it a thing of beauty and inspiration.” I thought it was a pretty cool idea. A book of blank pages, that I was going to fill up!


I’ve collected 6 of these books over the years. I filled them with writings, collected quotes and sayings, line drawings, cool song lyrics, collage, sketches, painting titles, anything that inspired me. I still have one going to this day. If you have a creative child, I totally recommend giving them an “empty” book.

In later years, I would start a “grateful” journal.  Sarah Ban Breathnach who wrote the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude says, “if you give thanks for five gifts every day, in two months you may not look at your life in the same way as you might now.”  I love the idea of transformation and being grateful. I like to take pause and remember what happened during my day that I am grateful for and give thanks!

I’m in love with this idea about nurturing the creative spirit. Finding ways to improve myself and also be inspired and create! I heard someone say though, they don’t like to be inspired because when that happens they’re distracted and not creating. They were saying, being inspired is overrated. When you’re too busy being inspired, you’re not creating. I disagree, for me, I love being inspired and I think I create best when I have books and photos and art around me that bring me joy and beauty and inspiration.

A great book about nurturing the creative spirit is Kelly Rae Roberts’ book Taking Flight, inspiration and techniques for giving your creative spirit wings. I love the stories and this book is the story of a creative artist who will inspire you, give techniques, inspiring quotes, pages for journaling, all to help your creative spirit soar!

I also started some larger sketchbook journals during my teens. You could call me a journal geek. Do you have a journal? What kind is it and what do you put into it?

I remember winning an award as a senior in high school for one of my paintings. A landscape of ocean dunes. I was thrilled to have my art acknowledged by more than my family and friends. I thought maybe I wanted to be an illustrator or maybe a graphic designer. I was sure I wanted to be some kind of an artist and go to college. And I did. I’ll write more about my college years and my twenties in Part 3 of my Artist Journey series.


Part 1: One Artist’s Journey – 0-10 yrs old

ed and audrey Gruger

These are my parents, Audrey and Ed Gruger. Before I can talk about my artist journey. I have to give thanks to them for bringing me into this world! I was born in Seattle in 1959, the youngest of three children. My parents have always encouraged my creativity and inspired me with their passion for the arts!


They were art collectors and had many pieces of art, especially abstract pieces, decorating our home. They were art lovers and often took us to art museums and galleries during family vacations.

I have to say my dad’s side of the family has more artists then my mom’s side.  Frederic Rodrigo Gruger (he signed his work F.R. Gruger) was the most recognized artist/illustrator and many of his illustrations were created for the Saturday Evening Post and other publications from 1898 to 1943.

I consider my Mom very creative. I remember her drawing pictures and painting when we lived in California for 3 years while my Dad was finishing his degree. My Dad was creative too but in different ways, like wine making and photography. They would read to us at night before we drifted off to sleep. Although not every night, since they would take turns with each child.

My early memories of creating art are from gradeschool. I remember drawing a giraffe in Kindergarten. But my parents gave us art supplies and I remember making things at home as well.


I would close myself in my bedroom, make something, then come out and with a sweep of the arm say, “see what I made”. There was always something to be made, a big white castle with leftover styrofoam, a cardboard house for frogs we found in the yard, a raggedy ann doll made from scrap material, a winter snowman.snowman

I drew people and animals and hung them on my bedroom door.  I was always encouraged to create and now looking back, I am so grateful for that!

Part 2 in this story will be next Thursday.

Do you have memories of making things as a child? Do you think your creativity was nurtured?

10 Things You Can Do To Nurture Your Child’s Creativity

1. Encourage your child to be expressive and to come up with their own ideas. Withhold judgement and let them talk. Let them dance, paint, make a fort out of the kitchen chairs and blankets, dress up their stuffed toys with doll clothes, make music with the pots and pans, put on a play with hats and old clothes as costumes

2. Encourage originality, if they want to use their toys to do something else with them, let them, don’t be critical!

3. Let your child tell you a story. Encourage them to make up imaginary characters and plots, have a puppet show or draw a cartoon strip

4. Encourage your child to enjoy the process. Put on music, spread out the paper and let them have free rein. Ask them to paint the music they hear or how they feel, emphasize the process and not the final product.

5. Let them use their hands, give them play dough to make things, legos to build things, crayons to draw with

6. Let them play dress up. As children we liked to dress up and pretend we were old women, wearing high heels and stuffing the front of our old lady dresses with pillows. Let them have a tea party and invite their favorite dolls and stuffed animals as guests.

7. Encourage simplicity. Let them make toys out of what you have on hand. Pans become drums, spoons can become an instrument, boxes become play houses, chairs and blankets become a fort

8. Go outside and take a nature walk. See how many flat, round rocks you can find, take them inside and let the kids paint rocks. Have a picnic and then lay back and watch the clouds. Ask them what animals they see in the cloud shapes.

9. Cook something simple together. Try different foods and/or combining different foods together. Marshmallow and peanut butter on toast for example.

10. Set an example. Let your children see you being silly, they will see that you are an imaginative, creative person and know that it is okay and valued.

To read Part 2 of my Artist’s Journey, go here>