Thursday, November 17, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about discipline lately. I put myself on a gluten-free diet to see if it was the cause of tummy disruptions (it was not) and though I still am the owner of a noisy digestive system, I left the diet with a feeling of well being. I can now say I'm going to be self-disciplined and not eat gluten products for a set amount of time and I can follow through with that action. I've stumbled through life without making any New Year's resolutions and things have gone fine so far. But I see the reasons oh-so-clearly now why even a little self-discipline goes a long way.

Once you follow through with some little self-discipline you've set for yourself, you get this wonderful boost of confidence. It's like a little gateway has been opened to larger, bigger things you would like to do. It doesn't have to be a big thing to start you off either. I could tell myself that I'm not going to snack between lunch and dinner. And what a great feeling when I accomplish this little thing. That could lead to saying I'm not going to eat anything after dinner for a week. We're talking bigger resolutions here. No more ice cream at eight!  I mean, this could actually help get rid of those pesky muffin tops. Major good stuff could happen.

Things I really like to do like paint and power-walk are easy to do. I think the couple in my painting like walking every day too though not at a power-walk pace. It's the stuff we don't want to do or that we're afraid to do that cause most of us such grief. Just one little step first is my suggestion. Got a closet full of old clothes to go through? Make a tiny step and resolve to get rid of one item before next Sunday. Keep it doable and then do it. Good luck and may your gateway open up!

Self-discipline; noun
Discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement: Acquiring the habit of promptness requires self-discipline.
My show at Kaewyn Gallery closes on November 23rd. If you get a chance, please stop by. I also have paintings at the Kirkland Arts Center store at Parkplace mall in Kirkland and Gallery by the Bay in downtown Stanwood. The miniature show opens next at Kaewyn where I'll have half a dozen miniatures. And I'm starting with a new gallery down in Hood River called The Pines at the end of this month where the winery and the gallery mix it up.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Five Best Outings in Seattle

Seattle Center Fountain- #1 of Five Best Outings in Seattle
8x10" Original Oil Painting by Joanne Shellan
 1. The fountain at the Seattle Center is my top pick when it comes to naming the heart of Seattle. It's where people are drawn to gather in times of mourning and to celebrate when the sun comes out. You can't beat a fountain that is programed to perfom to music and where there are no signs telling you to keep out.
2. Pike Place Market is a close second. It's as honest as the day is long. Real people working long hours down there, no corporations allowed. Farmers, flowers growers, fish mongers and fish throwers, all together in one big happy. It always makes me happy to be down there.
3. The Arboretum is one of my favorite parks in Seattle. Views there just cannot be beat. You can look out on vast Lake Washington or in on lily-padded nooks and trails for canoes. It's a park that beats all others for sizable trees, calm  vistas and long walks.
4. Our friends and relations who come to visit Seattle always get a visit with the troll under the bridge in Freemont. It's too quirky to not show off. I mean, where else in the world does such a creature exist except in a back lot at Disney?
5. Archie McFees is my final destination for our Seattle Tour. Maybe we just have nutty friends but we always have a lot of fun showing off the place and feel quite satisfied about how our nickel and dimes were spent. A faux leather bacon belt and rubber chicken can't be found at any old store. I do miss the old location  on Stone Way though.
Email me your favorites. Surly two heads are better than one and a new and improved list can be made!
Your best outing in Bothell is Kaewyn Gallery where my show is currently up and thriving. November 5, Saturday from 1-4pm is Meet the Artist Day! Join me for nibbles, hot cider and art talk. The show is up through Nov. 23. And three of five best places are featured in paintings in the show!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Most Impotnat Thing Every Artist Needs to Do

The most important thing a creative person does is choose what to express. It matters less what style the writer uses or what color of paint the artist chooses. It matters less if the clay is sculpted in a rough or highly polished manner. The poet can use a pen or a computer. The playwright can be funny or serious. But before an artist makes any of those other decisions, the number one thing to consider is what they want to express. It may sound simple. Just say it, as Nike would have us do. But say what? Where do you look to decide what you want to say? Do we climb a mountain and look for it there? Do we study meditation to find it? These things can help but it's really about self-awareness. You need to start by knowing yourself and then looking inside to where you keep your deepest convictions and your dearest values and that's where you'll find something meaningful to convey.
My upcoming show at Kaewyn Gallery will feature paintings of places that vibrate within me. I have positive, loving feelings and real connections with these places and have painted them in a very Joanne sort of way. That is how I walk my walk. If I am true to myself and my art, those feelings should come right off the end of my paint brush and be pulled deep into each painting I create.
Nike may say it but we artists try really hard to just do it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tell the World

pIf you could tell the world about your job and clear up some of their misperceptions, what would you say? I recently read an *article about this very subject. Fascinating. A librarian said you really do need a Masters degree to do her work. It's WAY beyond shelving books.  I would tell the world that artists never get "there", they're always "going there". For me, that means that I'll never stop at a certain style of painting and stay with it forever. My work from two years ago may look the same to you as this week's painting of Pike Place Market but to me, it's very different. I see stronger, cleaner colors and more focus on design. Artists Evolve. They get better as they work at their craft. They're always on the road, never at the end of the road. Tell me...what do you want to tell the world about your job that no one seems to understand?
Come see my show next month, "Kernel of Truth" at Kaewyn Gallery in Bothell, Washington which opens October 14 and ends November 24. It's a look at the theme of perceptions. My views of Washington State will be different than your views. I want to explore that idea.
Go to my website to add your name to my mailing list if you would like to receive emails or postcards about my upcoming shows. Thanks!

*Lastly, I looked all over to find the link to the article and I cannot find it. It was under READ on the app Flipboard which I love to puruse on my iPad. Let me know if you run across it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Three Reasons Why You Should Pay $4 on a Cup of Joe

Three Reasons Why You Should Pay $4 for a Cup of Joe
              I know several people who can talk loudly for hours about how stupid it is to pay $4 for a cup of coffee. I listen. I mean, hey, people like to talk and they need an audience. But I also disagree with them and here are my reasons why.
1.       Connection- people are social beings. The more connections they make in a day, the better the day is. Meeting a friend for coffee where you get to sit outside over a cup of hot, lovely aroma filled drink with the luxury of face to face interaction with a friend is about as good as gets. Add some sun at a sidewalk cafĂ© and you are sitting on a gold mine!
2.       Caffeine- I think I read once that the industrial age began when people stopped drinking beer & grog all day and started drinking coffee. There is proof of health benefits and problems with caffeine depending on what you read and which way the wind is blowing that particular day.  Personally, I love caffeine and use it regularly to clear the dense fog from my brain and jump start new ideas.
3.       Continuity- People need structure in their days- some more, some less. Each of us takes on certain tasks or habits that we enjoy doing on a regular basis. Collectors have a purpose when meandering through second hand shops. Their search offers them some reason to be out and looking.  We coffee drinkers have a reason to go into town. We’re looking for a coffee shop with the right ambience and a friend.
If you're unswayed, no problem. I'm no debate club leader. Just a painter who dearly loves having coffee with her friends. Join me!
18 24" oil on board by Joanne Shellan, "Cafe Au Lait"
Save the Date! October 14, 2022- opening for Joanne Shellan at Kaewyn Gallery, Bothell, WA

Friday, June 24, 2011

Meandering Thoughts on Herding Cats

I’ve heard the phrase "herding cats" said with great exasperation when describing dealing with artists. I’m not sure we deserve the huge sighs of frustration any more than anyone else but one of things they might be upset about is that artists never stay on one path for long. Did you know that? They are constantly changing and trying new things. Okay, a few are stuck on autopilot and keep repeating what works but most artists are on a continual search for the best way to express themselves or an idea. They might switch mediums, like changing from watercolor to oils and once there, they might try abstracts and line drawings and adding pastels into the mix. And oh lookie what happens when I add a layer of wax to this! I wonder what it will look like if I carve away some of that paint with this razor…and so on. Its curiosity, it a penchant for looking for what hasn’t been done before, it’s letting go of fear and stepping into the unknown. If we are to be fearless with our art, we can then be fearless in our lives as human beings. No growth and maturation without stepping out onto some limbs!
It’s easier to feel comfortable in our world if we can compartmentalize some of the confusion around us. Fitting people and ideas into neat boxes helps keep things in order. But those darn artists keep wriggling out of their boxes and making their art into new shapes that don’t always fit! It can leads to sighs of exasperation but also new ideas and exciting visuals that titillate our brains.
Next time your local artist shows you yet another new experimental piece, keep your sigh under wraps and look carefully- you may be looking at the cutting edge of the next great art discovery.

"Meandering Thoughts", 33 x 24" oil painting on hardboard by Joanne Shellan

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tips for Keeping Creative Doors Open

           After giving the security guard my ID to check, I was let into the grand, brick house of the Washington State Governor, Christine Gregoire and her husband Mike, right in the heart of our Capitol in Olympia, Washington . It was an annual event where the Governor’s Mansion Foundation’s  welcomes an artist who will be showing his/her work for an entire year. They have a dozen paintings right in a small gallery right in the heart of the mansion on the main floor where the Gregorire’s entertain and the visiting public in allowed on Wednesdays for tours.

                The artist this year is ZZ Wei and he and his wife, Lin, who does all his interpreting for him, spent an hour entertaining about 150 of us with stories about his youth and telling tid-bits that help us see into the workings of a great artist’s mind. His show is absolutely stunning. His mostly large works in oil are full of strong shapes in colors that glow and compositions so good, they simply pull you into their world.
                I tried hard to stay as present as possible during the talk but knowing that I’m going to be up at that podium next year was turning my stomach all flip-floppy. My head was filled on the long drive home thinking about all would be expected of me in the next year as I prepare for my show next year at the Governor’s Mansion. I’m going down the list; the paintings need to be great, they should be large too, I need stay focused on paintings of local scenes, I’ll need to get some press, maybe try to get a magazine article about it and I really want to use the weight of this show to get into better galleries….WAIT A MINUTE! The longer the list gets, the more pressure I feel and the more pressure I feel, the tighter the door clamps shut on my creative juices. The creative juices about how to market the show do fine under pressure- but it must be a completely different section of my brain that decide what and how to paint. It’s the “heart” or intuitive brain section that absolutely cannot deal with this kind of pressure.
                So how to keep the painting part of the brain open to the world? For me, it means NOT thinking about it too much, shutting off logic and turning on tuning-in, keeping it playful, looking deep inside at what I want to paint—not what I should be painting and staying in touch with my emotional side. Making each painting a personal message about my emotional reaction to a scene is what I do best and I need to keep that first and foremost in my mind. 
To keep painter’s block far, far away, use the heart more and the brain less.
                Maybe I should get that tattooed on my forehead or something!

The painting featured in this blogspot was inspired by a walk last week through Mercer Slough in downtown Bellevue. What a gem of a park! It’s 16x20” oil on board, unnamed yet, and will retail for $550. for more of my work, resume, bio, list of gallery representatiion and show schedule

Monday, April 11, 2011

Be Vulnerable

I’m jazzed and bursting at the seams! Just came back from a three day workshop called Artfest. It’s held at Fort Warden in pretty Port Townsend. About 500 plus artists who practice all mediums come to take cool, edgy art classes from a talented bunch of teachers. Imagine if you gave yourself permission to go back to your childhood where you had no fears of how good or bad you were at anything. You simply tried all that came your way. You sang with unashamed joy as loud as you could because it felt good. You attacked kicking a ball and scribbled on paper with brash strokes of color. Well, we had a chance to experience our childhood this weekend and it was oh-so-joyful. I believe that everyone is hugely creative. As we age, we know what we’re better at and we stick to those things leaving behind the things we’re not so good at. Everyone gets uber specialized by their middle years. “I don’t do Spanish wines.” or “I’m too old to learn a musical instrument”. If you’re not singing when you’re 50, you’re sure as hell not likely to start now!

Now I didn’t step too far out of my comfort range because it was still in the arts, however, I did stretch. I am a realistic painter, a “fine” artist. So naturally, I took a class called Silly Drawing where you had to draw blind, draw with your left hand, create a 3-d bird out of wire, cover it with strips of material, then draw it again. Half the class had a fear of drawing and their drawings were the most interesting! In another class, we finger painted! Indeed, with our whole hands! We doodled on it with pencil and pastels and what we created had to come from inside ourselves. Whoa. That’s scary. What if there’s nothing in there to pull from?

The experience left me reeling. I see clearly now that it’s imperative for growth to push yourself into trying things beyond what you know. Try something outside your field of expertise. It’s a brain shake but in a good way. Become vulnerable and see what it gets you.
That's the key.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Avenue

Some Thoughts on Commitment

How committed should we be to a commitment? At what point can a commitment be broken? Is it sometimes necessary to make changes when the wind changes course? These are all questions we have to contend with everyday. If I told someone I will commit to go to their event and then another, even better event comes up, do I need to keep my commitment to that first person? You do. Have I broken that rule before? I have. What if we made plans several months ago to take my son on a college visit. When his team’s game schedule recently came out, we noticed that his team is playing a game that night. Should he stay with his college visit, his original plan? His coach decided for him; drop the college visit or don’t plan on playing in the game. In this painting, we see a couple moseying down the street together. If they are married, they are committed for life. Can you really commit to something or someone for life? Statistics tell us that half don’t stay the course.

Sometimes, it becomes irrational to “stay the course” though. Things change all the time and we need to be able to bend with these changes. It drives me nuts when the talking heads say, “the president said he’d do this and now he has not”. Well, look at the big picture. Why did he change his course? Did circumstances change? On the other hand, when someone says they’ll go to a concert with you, the tickets are bought, you’re waiting for them outside the door and they call to tell you they can’t make it….that’s enough to make you crazy…and you’ll probably keep your distance from this person when it comes to planning another event.

Think of three people who always do what they say they’re going to do. These are the people you can count on and you hold them dear to your heart. If they say they’ll be by at 3pm with the book, they will be there. Now think of three people who often let you down, the ones who are like water running through your hands. You just can’t nail them down! Now think of three people who are as rigid as boards. They said X and X always stands…no matter what. Yuck. Who wants to hang around someone like that? No discussion, it’s always X. That’s no fun at all either.

Where are you on the commitment scale?

First Avenue, Oil on board, 24x36”, Original by Joanne Shellan

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Looking in all the Right Places

People spend a lot of time looking. We spend a lot of time looking for the right school for our kid, the best heater for our house, the right medicine for our cold. All day long, we’re looking hard and making decisions that impact us. But I sometimes wonder if our heads are spent looking down too much, intent on getting where we’re going. What might we see if we stopped and looked up, opened up to the world and what it might bring? I have a friend who is an inspiration to me in this regard. She is open. You can see it on her face and in her relaxed manner. When you talk to her, she really listens. She has time to relax with you without looking at her watch. And because she is so open to the world, the world opens up to her. She is always meeting the most interesting people and having these incredible experiences through the people and experiences she creates. They seemingly fall into her lap but I know that it’s due to her way of taking time looking in all the right places.

This original oil painting is titled “Cannon Beach Beachcombers”, 11 ½ x 16”

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can you have it both ways?

Some days you feel overwhelmed with life. Your list of necessary tasks looks as big as an elephant. You hurry, you spill, the computer gives you problems, miscommunications happen, upsets follow and at the end of the day, you want to hide under the covers and never come out. Other days flow seamlessly like the tide over the sand. The mail brings good news, the deal goes through and the bread rises just right. But the two days need each other like water needs thirst. Where would light be without the darkness? I had to rub my sleeve in orange oil paint and drag it all over the house in order to appreciate that I have loving friends. The hard disk dying on my laptop gives me the opportunity to enjoy hot, homemade soup on a cold day. They seem unrelated but they are.

Twenty one more days until my show opens at Scott Milo Gallery in Anacortes. My task list keeps me focused and working with intention. My show, called Celebrations is about finding those sweet spots in life and remembering why life is good, even in the midst of the overwhelming bad stuff. Sitting on a bench in the sunshine in the winter and getting to wear red cowboy boots is one of those moments.

"Benchmark", 11x14" Oil on board

Celebrations, Joanne Shellan's show, opens at Scott Milo Gallery on February 4, Friday night, 6-9pm. Share some wine, appetizers and see me do a demonstration.
The show remains open until the end of February.
Joanne Shellan Fine Art