Independent Artist, Independent Space, Independent Family

I am an independent artist. And I do many things to make a living in the arts. I paint commissions. I write. I freelance as a photographer. I make theatre. I sing. I create websites for other creatives. I edit the work of other writers. And I work full time as the Operations Director for StateraArts, an incredible nonprofit dedicated to gender equity in the arts. All of these things are connected. Each informs the other.

I love doing this work and I’m really skilled at it.

Because I work independent of a large corporation or institution, I have to create my own workspace. I work a 40-50 hour week just like the next guy, so I need a flexible space where I can paint, write, attend video meetings, design, hop online, edit photos, read, and ship artwork.

I have a 120 square foot shed that serves as my studio and meets all of my work needs. My morning commute is about 28 seconds from my backdoor to the door of my studio. A home studio works best for me as I am also the mother of two children under age 12. My youngest is a stroke survivor living with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy. He requires a lot of attention. My partner, Jack, is 100% an equal partner and his total involvement in all things domestic means that I can work as a professional artist and support my family. This life doesn’t happen without my partner. But the beauty of working independently in my back yard means that I can hop back into family life at a moments notice.

How can I afford to work as an independent artist? First, my family and I moved out of the city to a remote part of the country where the cost of living is low. Second, my partner and I live on tight budget. (Artists are not widely known for this, but the majority of us make our money go a long way. For more on this topic, check out this great video and also this video about living simply by my friend and independent artist Gwenn Seemel.)

Other cost saving habits: We cook rather than eating out. We keep our grocery bill low by trading locally with farmers for organic produce, eggs, and grass-fed meat. We are also frugal when it comes to travel, entertainment, and clothing. Our low income means that we make use of low-cost, state-run health plans.

But I don’t see these cost-saving behaviors as limiting. Being a professional independent artist means that my family is also independent. We are living outside of the box and making the most of our time together. And I place a very high value on that independence. In this way, independent artists like me and many others are mirroring back to our audience a fresh and invigorating way to live, think, interact, and connect.

When you support independent artists, you are supporting independent thinking. When you donate to independent artists, you are saying that you believe in freedom of thought and freedom of choice. When you buy artwork from local and independent artists, you are affirming your own ability to live out loud and lean into your own authenticity.

The people who have supported my work by either buying my art and prints, attending productions of plays that I write, sharing my work on social media, or patronizing my career via Patreon are forever lodged in my heart. My patrons are my life blood and they inspire me to keep moving forward - to continue creating new pathways for thought and connection. I wouldn’t be able to exist as an independent artist with an independent space and an independent family without them. I am so grateful for my patrons.

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This week, I’ll be sending summer art care packages to my patrons via Patreon. If you’d like to get in on the action and join this tight knit community of supporters, click HERE. Make a monthly pledge and become a part of the family!

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Summer Wedding Commission

This spring, I was asked to create a wedding portrait for a wonderful young couple. Their first date was at Cedar Breaks in Southern Utah and my client wanted that landscape emblazoned in the background with her and her husband in the foreground. This was a first for me and I’m so grateful that this beautiful couple trusted me with such an important marker of their nuptials. Now that they’re married, I can share it with you!

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Above: The finished piece is painted with acrylic on 18 x 18 inch stretched canvas.

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Above: Detail of the couple.

Below: This is what my pieces look like midway through the painting process. I always have a very free first and second layer of paint before I sketch out the subject. Most of my detail work starts with a line drawing in black high flow acrylic paint.

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Artist Feature | Susanna Bauer

Oh friends! I’ve just discovered the work of Susanna Bauer and must share! I gasped when I saw the image directly below - the delicacy, the decay and the mending, the loss and the preservation - all happening in a single natural object knit together with such even-handed skill and patience. I hope you love her work as much as I do.

Her work reminds me of a few lines from the poetry of Joy Harjo, newly named U.S. Poet Laureate:

“It's possible to understand the world from studying a leaf. You can comprehend the laws of aerodynamics, mathematics, poetry and biology through the complex beauty of such a perfect structure. It's also possible to travel the whole globe and learn nothing.” ― Joy Harjo

Susanna Bauer’s Artist Statement:
I work with found natural objects. Leaves, stones, pieces of wood…ephemeral things, easily overlooked. And I use crochet; sometimes as embellishment, but mostly in a more unconventional way as a means of sculpture and construction. There is a fine balance in my work between fragility and strength; literally, when it comes to pulling a fine thread through a brittle leaf or thin dry piece of wood, but also in a wider context - the tenderness and tension in human connections, the transient yet enduring beauty of nature that can be found in the smallest detail, vulnerability and resilience that could be transferred to nature as a whole or the stories of individual beings.

Website: www.susannabauer.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/susanna_bauer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/susannabauerart

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Heading to the Hamptons to Teach a Workshop!

Hello friends! It’s been a long hiatus from this blog. I’ve been spending lots of time with family. But I’ve also been leaning heavily into my work at StateraArts, a nonprofit dedicated to gender parity in the arts. I serve as their Operations Director and I love the work!

In the past five months, I’ve been a part of some incredible collaborations. The StateraArts team is a force of nature and I’m so grateful to be part of a joyful grassroots movement taking positive action to bring women into full and equal participation in the arts and beyond. If you’re interested, you can read all about it: Statera Mentorship, Support Women Artists Now Day, Statera’s National Conference in NYC, the Statera Resource Directory, partnering with the Parent Artist Advocacy League, and more!

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My next big adventure will be a trip to NYC and the East Hamptons to be a part of Andromeda’s Sisters, a three day gathering for arts activists hosted by The Neo-Political Cowgirls. NPC has invited me, as a part of StateraArts, to lead a creative workshop and panel on the final day of the gathering. Andromeda’s Sisters is a three-day gathering of advocacy, networking, play readings, and arts. Speakers and artists include Tamara Tunie (Law & Order), Catharine Curtin (Stranger Things), Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents), Laura Gomez (Orange is the New Black), and Ellen Dolan (Guiding Light), Joy Behar (The View), and Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm) among others).

For tickets, please visit www.npcowgirls.org/andromedas-sisters-2019. Or you can also buy a ticket to attend only the final day HERE.

My first solo art show in Oregon!

I have a new show and you're invited. For the entire month of February, Royal Artisan Gallery in Baker City, OR is featuring my new series entitled Snake River Women.  

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Please join us for an artist reception:
Friday, February 1st
5:30pm to 8:30pm
1912 Main Street
Baker City, OR 97814


Thank you, friends, for following my work and supporting independent artists! For more information, click HERE to read my most recent newsletter.


And in case you missed these previous videos:

Take a tour of my Oregon studio:
www.vimeo.com/285596883

Watch me create a painting start to finish: 
www.vimeo.com/211139337

I talk about creating original art for Choice Hotels:
www.vimeo.com/242642384

House Portraits | Holiday Gifts

Now that the holidays are over and these house portraits have been delivered and gifted, I can share them with you! I love painting other people’s homes. I consider my house portraits to be little painted love letters. These homes shelter the hopes and dreams of the inhabitants and my goal in rendering them is to honor those dreams. Here are some of my latest pieces.

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Wintering Heart

I love winter here. The cold forces you to contemplate, to deeply consider what you actually have energy for. There are no easy moments in winter. The fire burns only because you thought ahead, sawed it into rounds just the right size for your fire box, split it, hauled it, and sheltered it from the elements so that it would stay dry. The car starts only because you babied it, let it warm up for a while, and shoveled a path out of the snowy bank that drifted in overnight. You have food on the table only because you planned ahead, drove an hour to the nearest town for groceries or grew it yourself in the heat of the summer months. So its not easy. You must decide where you want to dedicate your energy.

And yet, there is ease. Out here in the wilds of Eastern Oregon, I never expected the pace of winter to be so wonderful. So silent. So comforting. So meditative. Winter compresses life’s flow and asks that you come face to face with yourself. Winter asks that you remember who you are when the “busy” stops and the “have tos” fade. Winter says “stop and look around. Take time and keep your weight over your steady feet”.

This week as the Solstice passes and the light returns to Pacific Northwest, I give thanks for the darkness. I give thanks for the creeks as they ice over, thanks for the howling Coyotes prowling the foothills, thanks for the feisty birds elbowing each other at the edge of my neighbor’s bird feeder, thanks for the hearth that heats the bones of my home, and I give thanks for all the silence that surrounds me. And on this Christmas Eve, I give thanks for you.

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Winter in Wonderland

Winter Solstice is here. A time to retreat hearth-side and take stock of the year. Our family has just celebrated our first year in our new home. The house was built in 1925 and has seen many many winters. But we are still new here. Winter is teaching us how to depend upon each other, how to listen deeply, and how to stay on our feet when we hit the ice. I hope that you and your families have a beautiful Christmas holiday. And for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, I hope that you find peace and joy in the winter solstice. The light is returning!

Here are some photos from in and around my home this week:

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The La Maison Boheme 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

The La Maison Boheme Holiday gift guide is here! I’m doing things a little differently this year. I’ve dedicated the 2018 gift list to homesteaders and rural folks! Why? Because I’m living in a remote and woodsy part of Eastern Oregon now and my focus has shifted. Here are my top ten gifts for the people in your life who live rurally and have lots of contact with nature and the changing seasons.

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ONE

Phoebe Wahl’s fabulous moon calendar for 2019. Its always so wonderful to know what moon cycle you’re in! You can purchase one HERE.

TWO

For your rural friend braving the ice and sleet this time of year, there is nothing better (or safer on the ice) than a pair of Yak Trax. Seriously. These are life savers when you’ve got to work outside on the ice. They’re available from all sorts of sources - just do a quick internet search for Yak Trax and lots of purchase options will pop up.

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THREE

Whether they’re making a home brewed ale or brewing Kombucha, your homesteading friend will love a set of clean fresh brew bottles! Purchase them HERE.

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FOUR

For your gardening friends, they love these sweet seed savers envelopes from the Taproot Magazine shop. Purchase them HERE.

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FIVE

A dear friend of mine gave me this Excalibur Electric Food Dehydrator this year and it is a fabulous addition to my kitchen. This summer I dried pears, apples, peaches, and apricots. You can get one HERE.

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SIX

Wendel Berry’s “The Mad Farmer Poems” is a beautiful collection of poetry, perfect for the homesteader who needs a little fireside reading material for the long, icy winter ahead.

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SEVEN

I bought this wood ring for myself last winter and I just love it. Its beautiful to look at and holds a lot of wood. We’ve got it on our front porch under the awning so on cold mornings we can bring wood right into the house without slogging through the snow to our wood shed. Buy is HERE.

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EIGHT

This linen apron is so beautiful that I’d wear it on the town. (Of course my town is a tiny one-street wonder, consisting of one-grocery, one-bank, and 280 citizens. So maybe no one would find it all that strange if I wore it on the town). You can get this apron HERE at Not Perfect Linen.

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NINE

Folks who are living off the land usually don’t make their own chocolate. Tomatoes and organic greens are pretty easy to come by, but if you’re living above the equator, cacao beans are a bit tougher to grow. My sister-in-law bought this Classic Hot Chocolate for me last Christmas and it has since been my family’s absolute favorite. This chocolate isn’t powdered. It’s shaved. We like to sprinkle it on top of coffee drinks and ice cream as well!

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TEN

You all know that I'm an incense lover. And I am always on the hunt for warm, woodsy, earthy scents. This scent is one of my old favorites. It's a beautiful blend and it's the right price for gift giving. And personally, I think its perfect regardless of gender. It's called Woodstock from the West Third Brand Modern Apothecary. It has classic incense notes of sandalwood, patchouli, cedar, coumarin, musk, benzoin, olibanum with hints of vanilla. Its a dreamy, heady, perfect winter scent. Find it HERE.

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Giving Thanks

Oh dear readers! I have been away from the blog for SO long. I’ll tell you why in another post, but I had to dip in to say hello and a very happy Thanksgiving holiday to you and yours. I hope today brings nourishment, community, and peace to your world.

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Love Language, 10 x 20 inch acrylic on canvas.

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Storytelling and Coalition Building - Statera's National Conference is HERE!

Goodness, its been a while since I posted. There is a very good reason, though! I am the Creative Director for Statera, a non-profit dedicated to gender equity in the arts, and we are hosting a HUGE conference in Milwaukee this weekend. And as you might guess, I have been a busy girl.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the Statera Foundation National Conference, you can head over to our WEBSITE and check it out! We have an astonishing line up of speakers as well and two incredible performances. I’ll be back after the 9th of October to resume usual art and design content. But until then, I’m off to smash the patriarchy through storytelling and coalition building with other artists! Wish me luck!

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Singing at Pine Fest

Here in Halfway, OR we have an annual music festival called Pine Fest. Its a two-day celebration in September featuring music from all over the region. In between the big acts, local musicians take the stage for short 20 minute sets. My husband and I joined our neighbor, Curt, for a 6 song set that included some Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty, Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and The Beatles.

It was a blast playing with my partner for our sweet little community. The audience was very appreciative and said all sorts of nice things afterwards, which made me feel like a million bucks. The takeaway from this whole weekend is that my partner and I want to keep playing together - just for fun. Just for us.

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Late Summer Snap Shots

Summer is ending here in the Pacific Northwest and the early hints of Autumn are tapping at the window. Cooler mornings, yellow-tipped trees, corn and peaches everywhere I look. And the telltale sign that summer is over? My kiddos are back in school. If I could write an ode to free mornings without kids, I would.

My kitchen is overflowing with amazing local, organic produce. We are swimming in goodness - mostly gifts of food from neighbors and friends. And because of this bounty, everything in my kitchen seems to be in a state of light decay, screaming "Do something with me right now!!"

I have spent hours upon hours in the kitchen this month canning and freezing food for the winter. And you know what? I love it! I get downright giddy when I see all those beautiful jars of peach butter and apple and pear sauces tucked away in my basement cold storage. My freezer is full of pitted apricots, cherries, peaches, and more. I'm so grateful. 

Today I walked around my home with a camera. I wanted to capture a few snapshots of our house when it is not perfectly tidy but rather when it's in a state of use. This is when I find my home to be most beautiful - pillows squished beneath the weight of resting bodies, countertops covered with projects, tea jars sitting in the sun. Today, I give gratitude for a full pantry, the changing season, and the home that shelters my dreams. 

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What is inspiring you lately?

I've been finding all sorts of inspiration in the most unlikely places this month. I've included a bevy of images below, all of which have been cut out, or saved in my inspiration file. What will I use them for? I'm not sure. They may make their way into my writing, onto a painting, or into a conversation. What is inspiring YOU lately? I want to hear all about it. (Leave a comment!)

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THIS  dining room.

THIS dining room.

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THIS  kitchen

THIS kitchen

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This painting by  Hester Berry

This painting by Hester Berry

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Video Tour of the New Studio

I created a video tour of my new art studio for my supporters on Patreon, but I thought I'd share it with you today as well! This space has been months in the making. And while there is more to do (trim work, painting the floor, etc.) I am all moved in! 

This studio truly has everything I need. The best part is that it completely adheres to the manner in which I work. I think, as women especially, we are taught to take up as little space as possible - and to have a room of my own encourages me to spread out, get messy, experiment, work multilaterally, and take up space!

I hope you enjoy the tour. And if you're interested in supporting my work in a more structured way, I encourage you to visit me at Patreon. A small monthly pledge connects you to the art-making process in a visceral way. If you are moved by my work and want to participate in its creation, then consider this your invitation. I'd love for you to join me.  

Featured Artist | Hillery Lay

I had the pleasure of viewing some of Hillery Lay's paintings in person last month during The Little Big Show in Baker City. Hillery is an artist based in Eastern Oregon (my new home) who describes her work as 'contemporary rural painting'. The collage-like, pop-art, color-block quality of her work is so unique. Her colors are always bright - neon even - with washes of gold uniting the heart of each piece. I'm riveted. 

Hillery Lay uses her art to engage in a really beautiful dialogue with her surroundings and with the ups and downs of events that affect her immediate natural environment. I can't wait to see what she makes next! 

Want to know more? Take a look at her BLOG and follow her on INSTAGRAM.

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Harvest is Here

One of the beautiful aspects of moving to a rural place without restaurants, drive-thru coffee joints, and convenience stores is that we have to make all our own food. And now that its harvest season in our valley, I'm up to my ears in fruits and vegetables. I have been madly drying, canning, freezing and baking my way through the month. 

I'm a big apple butter fan, so when I came home with 40 pounds of peaches this past week, I looked into creating peach butter. Good Gawd! It's my new favorite. I've canned 24 pints of peach butter since the first of August using this recipe. I omitted the sugar because these peaches are so lovely, they need to be preserved as is. We can always add sugar later if we like. But I love the pure, slightly tart taste of the butter sans sugar. 

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The other thing about living so far from a good grocery store is that I cannot get a wide variety of breads. So, I've whole-heartedly thrown myself into the world of baking bread from scratch. My neighbor gave me a beautiful sourdough starter to work with. And another friend gave me the Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Brown. This morning I made a Whole Wheat Sourdough Round using the Tassajara Bread Book. Isn't she a beauty? And it was so tasty!

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