Tag Archives: success

Learn to Watercolor

17 Aug
Purple Iris -- original watercolor by Steve Henderson. Learn how to paint your own Purple Iris with Step by Step Art Success -- Watercolor.

Purple Iris — original watercolor by Steve Henderson. Learn how to paint your own Purple Iris with Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor.

The other day I was at the post office, sending out DVDs of Steve Henderson’s new digital workshop, Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor. When I mentioned what was in the padded envelopes to the postal associate, she exclaimed,

“I took a watercolor workshop YEARS ago, but I’ve never done anything since. I’ve still got the paints, the paper, the brushes, everything — but I haven’t known what to do. What is the website link?”

If you have always wanted to learn watercolor, or if you painted years ago and want to jump back in, or if you paint watercolor now and wish you could improve, Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor, is the resource for you. First in a series of digital workshops (Steve is now, in between working on his next Santa painting, developing a three-part series on How to Draw), Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor is available as a DVD or $19.95 and a download for $14.95 — just follow the link in Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor.

With a one-hour running time, Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor goes over the same material Steve teaches in his two-day workshops, and you can take as long as you wish to paint the two sample watercolors, Purple Iris and Lonesome Barn.

Below, enjoy the informational YouTube video about Step by Step Art Success — Watercolor. If the video isn’t working, this is the link — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GTB8fnrD0Q



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.

The Secret to Success

12 Apr

No one wants to be a failure, in their own eyes or that of others. For this reason, there is a preponderance of books, DVDs, and other teaching matter designed to teach us — be we artists, knitters, marathon runners, short order cooks, or gardeners — the secrets to successfully doing anything we have an interest in doing.

Producing a beautiful painting is less a matter of absorbing a series of secret techniques as it is grounding yourself in the basics, continuously learning, constantly experimenting, and painting, painting, painting.

Do you want to know the sure-fire methods to paint the perfect portrait? There’s a DVD for that.

How about marketing your work and getting into  any show you try for? There’s a book for that.

The fail-safe way of communicating with with any human being and  getting them to do whatever it is you want them to do?  DVD and book.

If there’s something that you want to learn how to do, not only is there a corresponding workshop, seminar, video product, book, class, or teacher, but too many of these resources promise to impart secrets that you didn’t know existed, and you obviously don’t have.

It reminds me  of the vitamin ads. Or the “You, Too, Can Be a Millionaire Using my Unique Techniques” books. The problem does not lie in the actual  imparting of information — after all, that’s why we buy books and attend workshops and watch DVDs — because we want to learn, and these resources, hopefully, have the information we need to do so.

The problem lies in a promise that is more than anyone can deliver:  the secret to success.

Seriously, if there were such a thing, how long do you think that it could be kept a secret?

And yet, we keep chasing after it, convinced that we alone are out of the loop, that we’re poor because we don’t follow techniques 1 through 6, that if we’re savvy enough to find the right resource then we’ll join the ranks of the elite.

Logic tells us, however, that if we’re going to run a triathlon and finish it, much less place anywhere, then we’re looking at months of disciplined training: working out, day after day, even when we don’t feel like it; eating right, to the point of saying no to cheesecake; running in the wind, bicycling uphill, swimming when it’s cold — continuously keeping at it and incrementally improving.

If there’s any secret to success, that’s it.

Related article:  The Secret to Successfully Marketing Your Work

A Tale of Two Teas

19 May

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her  freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.

Join me for a brief tale of tea, which I assure you ties together at the end with art as neatly as any decent romance novel winds to a happy conclusion:

While we think of tea as a quintessential British drink, in the 19th century, it almost went the way of the dodo bird because the only way to get it was through China.

When access to that country, and its tea plantations, was blocked, British growers imported Chinese tea seeds to India and tried to grow the plant there, without success.

Oddly enough, there was already a tea plant native to the area — the Assam “wild” plant — but people-in-the-know discounted its worth because it wasn’t a “proper” (read “Chinese”) tea plant. Plantation owners ripped out existing fields of wild Assam tea and replaced them with the Chinese variety.

Eventually, however, after a succession of failed Chinese tea plant harvests, some forward thinking growers hybridized the Chinese tea plant with the hardy Assam, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you drink a brisk black, malty, eye-opening breakfast blend, then you’re drinking some form of an Assam, which, not so oddly, thrives in its native habitat of India. Derivatives of this plant have been exported worldwide, with the result that what we think of as true English tea is grown not only in India, but Indonesia, throughout Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Now let’s think about art:

Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, artists have been convinced that the way to become well known and make a decent living off of their art is to be represented by a major art gallery (preferably in New York City), publicized in a well-known collector’s magazine, or be catapulted to the top of a contemporary Salon society.

Chinese tea.

But for thousands of artists, our access to China and its growing tea plantations is severely limited, and we find ourselves kicking around in the uplands of India, surrounded by wild Assam tea plants. They look like weeds.

And we plant Chinese tea plants on Indian soil: We seek major gallery representation, but those galleries are either 1) closing, 2) limiting new artists, 3) not selling much.

We search for the ethereal collector, but he is 1) demanding name recognition, 2) not buying much, 3) inaccessible to the individual artist.

We hope to be featured in a magazine, but 1) we have to buy a lot of ads to be noticed, 2) we’re one of thousands clamoring for attention, 3) we don’t have the necessary connections.

We enter national shows: 1) Entry  fees add up, and there are only so many slots for entries, 2) Even if the piece gets in, a minimal number will win and receive added recognition (do the math), 3) After shipping, packaging, insurance, and re-shipping, we generally get the piece back. Shows look good on a resume, but sales are nothing to be counted on.

This is brutal, but so were millions of acres of dying Chinese tea plants.

Notice, that in the success story of Assam tea, the Chinese variety was hybridized with the wild version, to create a stronger version of both.

So it can be in our lives as artists: I’m not saying to drop the gallery/art magazine/Salon route — I am saying to not depend upon it exclusively, because this is India, not China, and we live in the 21st century, not the 19th (although anyone who reads their art history quickly realizes that only a few artists succeeded through the traditional routes back then).


None, I’m afraid, because we’re messing around with the two plants ourselves.


They vary with each of us, but we all have esoteric skills and experiences that we can explore to our advantage, and we frequently discount them because they don’t look like they fit into our art marketing game plan.

Do you speak Albanian? Can you knit? Write? Cook? Manage three conversations simultaneously? Grow celery? Remember trivial facts? Parallel park? Do you read physics in your spare time? Are you good with hamsters?

Within your unique individuality is the map you need to travel the road you’re on, and as long as you’re flexible about your destination, you will eventually get somewhere. It just may not be China.

Try this:

1) If an opportunity comes your way, look at it thrice before discarding. As long as it’s legal, honest, and feasible, it’s worth trying.

2) Get really really good at what you do — make sure that the reason you’re not moving forward isn’t because your product falls short.

3) Don’t freak out. There’s only so much that can get done in a day, and we can’t all be experts at everything. Gravitate toward what feels right and natural, and explore its possibilities.

Don’t be afraid to walk a very narrow path. You have no idea where it will take you.
This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

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Tea by the Sea by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson


Making a Million is EZ! EZ! EZ! Yeah, Right.

11 May

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her  freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.

The Norwegian Artist is a brave man.

As I describe in The Multi-Tasking Norwegian, the man “reads” audio books while he paints, and in a move that I can only describe as audacious and bold, he chose one of those Baby, You Can Become a Millionaire in a Breathtakingly Short Time books by one of those authors who makes it to the seven digits by writing books about how to become a millionaire.

“I wanted to see if there was any substance in the content,” the Norwegian told me, when I shuddered.

Over the course of  the day, the Norwegian Artist updated us on what he was hearing, and, so you don’t have to plonk down $20 (the N.A. downloaded his copy from the library — all very legal, I assure you) and enrich these people even more than they are, here is a synopsis of what the Norwegian learned:

1) HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! I put this in all-caps to fully impart the energetic bounciness of the message. Now there’s nothing wrong with this snippet of common sense — far too many people stop their journey before they put the key in the ignition, convincing themselves that the car will never leave the driveway in the first place.

2) HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! I repeat this because the Millionaire did, so he must feel that it’s very important.


4) MOVE FORWARD INTENTIONALLY! I’m not sure about what is happening to the word “intention” these days.  We’re hearing it everyplace, as in, “We sense the need to be intentional in how we account ourselves in this business/ministry/arena/course/relationship.” A college class on Intentional Excellence promises to help students move — with intention — toward a fuller expression of their potential.  (I wonder if Making Millions! Billions! is the text?)

Let’s skip the next 8 chapters and get into the meat — assuming, of course, that this is not a vegan book. Oh, and I’ll drop the caps.  They’re irritating. The exclamation points stay:

5) Make Money in the Comfort of Your Home! This chapter waxed eloquent on the rat-cubicles of the modern office, the annoying boss, the lack of pay, the insecurity of position, the absence of any retirement plan. Noticeably missing was specific information on how to make money in the comfort of your home, in your jammies.

6) Do What You Want to Do, and Let Other People Do the Work for You! This man has a “staff,” kind of like cats do, none of whom, I suspect, is remotely close to being a millionaire. The chapter is a travel log on the various places the author goes and the fun things he does while his staff runs his business. What this business is, we still have no clue, since our Millionaire author apparently does not sell anything — paintings, socks for dogs, widgets — other than his message.

7) Actual Stores in Actual Buildings with Actual Inventory Are Losing Propositions Because No One Can Compete with the Mega Stores! I’ll tell that to our local toy store, yarn store, bookstore, artisan bakery, old fashioned department store, and candy shop — all of whom thrive under the hard work of their creative, energetic, non-millionaire owners. These people make decent, honest livings providing quality products to satisfied customers, and they deserve every penny of profit that they get.

8) Take Advantage of the Internet! Excuse me, but are you feeling condescended to? This chapter, chicken-fried soy steak, advises readers to Promote yourself! Blog! Do the social media thing! Link to other sites! Have them link back to you! My absolute favorite part about this chapter was the Millionaire’s advice on writing quality content: “If you can’t do it yourself, then hire some writer for minimal pay to do it for you. Or better yet, hire someone from overseas.”

Dang. While I wasn’t necessarily planning to become a millionaire as a writer, I did think that I would avoid Debtor’s Prison.

I don’t know how the Norwegian Artist skim reads an audio book, but he managed, and given the content of the book, he must have been running water-soaked brushes over and over the blank canvas as he listened.

He is now contentedly ensconced in a novel about a Polish orphan girl raised by a group of French nuns, while he is painting a still life of Kenyan curios. He says that he feels like a million bucks.
This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit: http://faso.com/art-marketing-newsletter

Chimu, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson


Facebook Reality Is a Myth

5 May

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her  freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.

I know someone whose father just died. Ten hours after it happened, she found herself in the grocery store, picking up food for the family.

“And how are you today?” the clerk asked.

“I’m fine,” she answered. (“My father just died,” she said to herself. “I’m not fine.”)

“Oh, good. Good. That’s quite a nice roast chicken. It smells delicious.”

“Yes it does,” she answered. (“It wasn’t unexpected, but it was sudden. I’m in shock.”)

“Add a salad and some bread, and you’ve got a meal!”

“The white wine will complete it.” (“Actually, I don’t feel like eating at all.”)

“Have a nice day!”

“You too.” (“Thank God that’s over.”)

I imagine that the clerk had no idea of the actual state of his customer’s mind or being, which isn’t surprising since the main clues available to him would have been the woman’s words, demeanor, and body language — all well under control.

Most of us who are grownups have learned that, when someone asks, “How are you?” the standard and acceptable response is “Fine, just fine,” since general acquaintances and daily contacts aren’t looking to hear about the perforated ulcer, the messy divorce, or the child on drugs.

Translate this into the art world, where chicken by-products come in the form of depressed art sales (or none at all), galleries closing, lack of inspiration, creditors knocking, canceled shows, rejection letters, dried-up publicity, and general discouragement.

Seriously, is this the kind of stuff that artists post on their website or Facebook page?

“No sales in three months, and a backlog of 48 paintings. Turned in my application to Burger Babe today!”

“Spent more on cookies and chocolate nuts for the reception than we’ll ever see in sales!”

“Wii came out with a new painting exercise game — have been at it for hours!”

One of my favorite comments was actually a real one, uttered in a moment of absolute honesty from the curator of a non-profit art association:

“I don’t know why we bother with insuring the work in this building. I mean, if we can’t sell it, how would the thieves do it?”

Okay, this all sounds bad, real bad, so before you get depressed, remind yourself that life has its ups and downs, and both bad things and good things happen, generally concurrently. The important thing is this: when things are good, people talk about them; when things are bad, people keep quiet.

Remind yourself of this, as you read about or attend other artists’ shows, look through other artists’ sites, glance at other artists’ hoots and Tweets and Facebook bleats.

Despair!” — such is the Facebook post of high school drama divas who precede it by “He loves me!” and follow by, “It’s complicated.” Professional artists, however, are not of this caliber, and they refrain from cataloging every emotion in the public sector.

Whether the times are bad or good, they post their new paintings, provide information about upcoming shows, report on recent publicity, showcase their artwork in a positive light and encourage communication and dialogue. They look like what they are: adult businesspeople who conduct themselves with propriety and maturity in the public marketplace; their actual affairs are personal, shared with only a few close friends or family members, probably not you or me.

Tired-of-Being-Youngest, our youngest progeny, offers these words of advice about Facebook, but they can be interpolated to a broader spectrum of all human interaction, be it face to face or social media, written or spoken, direct or indirect:

“It’s not like you post anything personal on Facebook, and only a few people really get into splattering their lives and their feelings there. I usually block them.

“You post news — what you’re doing, where you’re going, what book you just read, the movie you’ve seen. You keep things positive, because you’re updating people, and they want information, not drama.”

Let me summarize this: Do Not Covet.

In the same way that we do not look at the neighbor’s car, dog, house, job, spouse or waist measurement and compare it to our own — wish it were our own — we do not look at other artists’ information, guesstimate how they are doing, and slink to a dark corner where we uncontrollably weep.

Good times and bad will be had for all. We all walk our own path. It is easier to do so when we keep our eyes on the road in front of us, and don’t let them wander in every direction but forward.
This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit: http://faso.com/art-marketing-newsletter

Forgetting to Turn off Your Car Lights Is Not the Only Way to Drain Your Battery

28 Apr

by Carolyn Henderson

This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her  freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.

 If you are old enough, or drive an old enough car, it is  likely that you have at one time left the lights blazing away while you devoted an entire winter afternoon to browsing happily through a yarn shop.

Okay, so maybe not a yarn shop. But I’m focusing on the “leaving your lights on for a long time in the middle of arctic winter” part.  By the time you return — animated, energized, laden with packages — your battery’s dead.

So much for animated and energized.

 Under the right — or rather, wrong — conditions, batteries drain quickly, and what can happen in your car can happen to you as well, if you permit people with the wrong way of looking at things to wield too much influence in your life.

 I call them battery drainers — friends, relatives, colleagues, enemies, acquaintances, strangers on the street — in whom you confide your plans and aspirations about being an artist, and who in return deplete the life force from your soul, leaving you feeling listless, without hope, defeated, and scared.

 They’re not always obvious about this —  “Are you kidding? What a stupid idea!” — and actually, most of the time they are, wittingly but generally unwittingly, more subtle, oftentimes expressing a sense of concern and caring that makes your knees hurt and you’re not sure just why.

 There’s such a recession going on now,” one will sigh. “Many established artists are finding that they need to get second or third jobs — I heard of one who was pumping gas.”

 “So sad.”

 Others feel a need to point out to you the painfully obvious, as if, for some reason, you had never thought of it before:

 “So few artists make it to the top you know,” this with a sage nod. “You’re not planning to quit your day job or anything?”


 “How wonderful that you won first place in that national show! Of course, you have to realize that this won’t necessarily make you. Lots of people have won prestigious awards and they haven’t fulfilled their desire to be full time artists.”

 I’m sorry — I’m missing something here. Does one of the sub-definitions of “artist” include terms like “naive,” “irresponsible,” “childish,” and “delusional”?

 Years ago, we sold our house in town and moved our family flock to a renovated barn in the middle of untamed land. Our plans were to build a modified timber frame home, which we would pay for as we went along, and pay off the land as well — this, all on one modest income and one whacking quantity of sweat equity.

 We told very few people of our long term plans, and, indeed, many secretly thought that we had totally lost it — but after all, what can you expect of a Norwegian Artist and a Polish Writer? Those poor children of theirs . . . and why did they have so many?

 There was one acquaintance in particular with whom we avoided sharing the . . .  particulars, namely because he made Eeyore look like an optimist. Only when the house was fait accompli and we were all settled in did we mention what we had done:

 That was really risky,” he said, shaking his head and pursing his lips. “You know, if your house isn’t up to code, you’ll never be able to resell it.”

 What is it with these people?

 Through the years, some of the things we have NOT shared with certain people include bicycling to South America, homeschooling the kids, birthing the aforementioned kids at home (with a midwife, okay?), and, most recently, making our livings as an artist (Norwegian) and a writer (Polish).

 As far as the particulars of our business plan, only the Norwegian Artist and I know what we’re up to, and the only other people privy to the details are our progeny, who, having been born and raised with us, share some genetic DNA thing and internalize the concepts of working hard, plugging away, keeping your hopes up, trying new venues and avenues, picking yourself up when you fall down, and celebrating every single little step forward — the girls prefer cake, the boys go for exotic fruit.

 For those out there who think we haven’t thought of this, we do tap into other people’s expertise and experience; we read; we ask questions; we research — we just don’t spill our souls onto the sidewalk where they can be pierced by stiletto heels and ground into the pavement by boots.

 By all means, find your confidantes and confide in them. It is good to have companions close by, walking alongside of you.

 But choose them carefully.
This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by FASO Artist Websites,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit: http://faso.com/art-marketing-newsletter