Tag Archives: newsletter

What Fried Dandelions Have to Do with Improving Your Art

10 May

From the Start Your Week with Steve Newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Steve Says:

“Today my 18-year-old son wanted to make fried dandelions for lunch, a suggestion that initially didn’t meet with much excitement.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.


“But he’s a determined sort, and like the Little Red Hen he picked the flowers, dipped them in egg and breading, and fried them in butter. Oddly, they weren’t bad, although the egg, breading, and butter definitely helped.

“And, he told us, now that he’s done it, he has no desire to repeat the experiment, but he’s glad that he went through with it. ‘I would always have wondered,’ he commented.

“Good point.

“How many times do we want to try something but don’t, because it sounds odd — like fried dandelions — or our announcement is met with a total lack of enthusiasm and support?

“So we don’t. But we always wonder what it would have been like if we had.

“Why not stop wondering and just do it? At worst, we’ll have inedible flowers, but the compost pile won’t mind.

“At best, we’ll have a unique dish to share at the next family celebration.

“And in between, we’ve got a good story to share.

“The more we do, the more we try, the more we experiment, the more we dream — the more interesting we, and the lives we live, are.” 

What is it about trying new things that is so difficult for us?

Standing behind the easel, paintbrush in hand, who but we will know that we chose a different color for that brushstroke, or a different brush, or a different way of wielding it?

Go on -- jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection -- original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Go on — jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection — original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Too often we look at each potential painting as so precious that we don’t want to “ruin” it by doing something different or new, but the risk of this is smaller than the reality of falling into a rut.

Sometimes, we can jolt ourselves out of this rut by saying to ourselves, “Just for the next 15 minutes, I’m going to think about this differently, and I’m going to try something that I’m not sure will work or not.”

And, of course, the more regularly and often that we paint, the easier it is to experiment, because we tell ourselves, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll toss it to the side and start over. Or I’ll keep slathering paint and see what happens.”

Ultimately, what this costs you is some time, a canvas, and some paint — a small price to pay for the potential to make mighty steps forward.

We Do This Every Year. Why?

10 Dec

“I don’t even read newspapers, and yet, around this time of year every year, I am aware of the number of articles written about the frenetic, fast-paced shopping and social frenzy of getting through the ‘holiday season.’

“It never sounds like much of a holiday to me, and I ask myself,


When our cup, or basket, is running over, that’s supposed to be a good thing. Brimming Over by Steve Henderson.

“Why do we do this to ourselves — Every. Single. Year?

“As we launch into a month that has sacred and secular observances for many, I encourage you to make these celebrations your own, focusing on the meaning and the joy of each, foregoing the mania and the chaos that those newspaper articles, ironically, promote.

“I wish you, and all of us, a true season of Joy.”

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly online newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

So what does this have to do with art — creating it or enjoying it?

A lot, actually, because it has to do with our perception of what is true, and what is not, based upon the external influences that push themselves into our lives, in this case, newspaper articles.

Around this time of year, article after article, blog after blog, offer 10 tips, or 7 tips, or the 3 ultimate tips, for avoiding holiday stress, hammering in the message with such force and strength that we never stop to ask ourselves: “Are my holidays stressed? And if they’re not, should they be? Is there something wrong with me?”

Most of the time, we don’t stop long enough to ask ourselves these basic questions, simply internalizing, without thinking about it, the message of the day, to the point that we unconsciously murmur in agreement when someone says, “Oh, those holidays! They’re stressful.”

If it’s not the holidays, then it’s something else — like what constitutes good art, or what we “should” be hanging up in our homes, or what “collectors” value, or what colors work and which don’t, or whether abstract is a higher form of artistic expression on the evolutionary scale or not — article after article, written by expert after expert, or worse yet, advertisement after advertisement, carefully crafted by marketing strategists, hammers in the message until it becomes a part of our inner being, and colors our actual judgment of the situation.

Stop. Breathe. Free yourself to ask the basic questions — who is going to get inside your head and scold your for independent thought?

And enjoy the holidays, by the way.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone: Why, Exactly?

31 Aug

“When someone tells you to ‘get out of your comfort zone,’ wait for it. It’s highly likely that they’re subtly or not-so-subtly nudging you into doing something that they know you don’t want to do, but they need done.” 

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter from Steve Henderson Fine Art, designed to jump start your week with flair.

We really owe seminar speakers a lot: they are the ones who come up with these tiresome platitudes that we battle on a daily basis.

Dancer by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why are random people so concerned about my comfort zone, and whether or not I’m in it?”

And, “Just where is it that they want me to go?”

In the real world, there is a difference between a rut and a path, the former being a place where dirty water settles and gets your feet all wet, the latter being a directional aid in getting you where you want to go. All too frequently, we muddy the two, helped, no doubt, by people around us who point out that we seem too “comfortable” doing things the way we do, and perhaps we should step off our clear path onto the one they are suggesting.

But there is a reason we feel comfortable doing what we do: it fits us. It makes sense. It’s relatively easy because it meshes with the way we think, believe, and process information. It’s only when we’re afraid, timid, reluctant, huddled in the ditch against the breeze that we’re actually in a rut, and generally, we can figure this out without someone pointing it out to us.

Go ahead: do what you do best, and do it in the way that makes sense to you. Challenge yourself, try something new, shake up your routine — but do it because you want to do it, not because someone scolds you into thinking that you should.

You Don’t Have to be a Genius to be Amazing

24 Aug

“Why are we so impressed by prodigies and geniuses? It’s easy to do well at something that comes easily to you. The people I admire are the ones who achieve mastery of their skill by investing a tremendous amount of time, diligence, practice, failure, hard work, and persistence.
There is a genius inside all of us waiting to emerge.”

From Start Your Week with Steve — the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art, designed to help you jump start your work week on a positive note.

There’s no short cut to hard work. Even Einstein, whom most of us would acknowledge as a genius in some areas (apparently, for real life stuff, he depended upon regular, ordinary people like family members),  would acknowledge that success in anything involves a lot of time, perseverance  determination, imagination, grit, and plain old fashioned stubbornness. A mule may be an ass, but it does make its point.

The good news about this is that — while we may not be blessed with prodigy-level accomplishments — we have all been given the same 24 hours in each day, and how we choose to use those hours — after work, commute, meal preparation, family obligations, it does go on — is up to us.

How good we get at anything depends hugely upon how much of this time and effort we put into it — learning the basics, practicing what we’ve learned, building upon that practice, moving forward in our abilities, admitting that we don’t know everything, curbing our arrogance and cultivating a sense of humility.

Obviously, this also means that we must make choices — increasing painting time comes at the expense of decreasing time elsewhere. It is best that the time from elsewhere is not taken from the people who mean the most to us — our children, our spouses, our family. Time spent there is well invested, and pays off in what comes to our canvas from the depths of our soul. But there are other things — we all can identify them — that steal an hour here, and evening there — and while they may be beneficial, they may not be necessary right now.

You don’t have to be a genius to be amazing. You just have to be willing to work hard.


26 Jul

What is success? Be honest with yourself.

Do you truly believe that a successful person is defined by the car he drives, the title after her name, or their number of Twitter followers?

Life is bigger, wider, deeper than what you can fit into a shoebox.

Walk onto that beach with confidence, knowing that you are a success.

— This week’s quote by Steve Henderson in Start Your Week with Steve, a free weekly e-mail newsletter to help people start Monday off on the right foot, or just to start it at all. Join us, and invite your co-workers, friends, and family.