Painting Week #2

In my last post, I told you all about ACEO’s and my little miniature artworks.

Today, I won’t keep your attention for quite so long and I’ll just let you get to where you want to be: looking at the artwork.

This is one of my early space ACEO’s:

Ice Castle
2.5″ x 3.5″ acrylic on Bristol Board
©2014 Dawn Blair

This is an early nebula ACEO:

Space 2014-1
2.5 x 3.5 Acrylic on bristol board
Dawn Blair ©2014

Oh, here’s a fun one. This is one of my Evening Trees.

Evening Tree #5
3.5″ x 2.5″ acrylic on Bristol Board
©2008 Dawn Blair

And here’s a newer nebula ACEO.

Nebula 2020-7
2.5″ x 3.5″ acrylic on Bristol Board
©2020 Dawn Blair
Click here for link to Etsy.
Click here for Zibbet link.

I’m enjoying this look back. Maybe next week we’ll do another and look back at some of my Twilight Trees – I did over 100 ACEO’s in the Twilight Trees series.

Until next time.

Painting Week #1

I’m declaring this a painting week for my blog. You’ll still get your free fiction on Friday, but the first two posts of the week I’d like to be for a couple of my recent ACEO paintings.

ACEO, for those of you who don’t know, stands for Artist Cards Editions and Originals. They measure 2.5″ x 3.5″ – the size of a baseball trading card. Many people collect ACEO’s as a means of getting original art by artists whose work they enjoy, but may not have a place to put larger works of art or the funds to buy the bigger pieces.

I’ve been painting ACEO’s since 2006. In my catalogue of images, I have 343 ACEO’s completed, but I do have some more that I haven’t finished logging yet, so the number is probably closer to 350. This doesn’t even count the miniature paintings I’ve done as bookmarks — this is just the traditional ACEO sizes.

I don’t do prints of my ACEO’s. I know many artists who do, but I’ve chosen to keep my small work like this as all originals. Now, for my larger art, I do provide that in the ACEO size, but there are no reproductions of these little artworks.

Well, that’s a bit about my ACEO’s, so let’s take a look at some. Here’s a newer one freshly listed on Etsy and Zibbet.

Magical Landscape 2020-4
3.5″x 2.5″ acrylic on Bristol board
© 2020 Dawn Blair
Find it here on Etsy. Or click here to get it on Zibbet.

Here’s one from the past:

Lantern #2015-14
2.5″x 3.5″ on Bristol Board
Dawn Blair ©2015

And another:

Forest 2014-51
3.5″ x 2.5″ oil on canvas
©2014 Dawn Blair

Stay tuned this week for some more ACEO images!

Into the enchanted forest

I am often asked if Brightening is still available for sale. No, it is not. Sorry. It was sold many years ago, but you can still get prints by clicking the link above.

The next question I get asked is if I could paint another one.

Not likely. I find it very hard to copy my own work. It never works out well and usually ends up in frustration. Not that I don’t have “sister pieces” and “spin-offs” of my work occasionally, but it’s not something I usually do on purpose.

Let’s face it, I often paint like I write — clueless, in the dark, and with no idea of the outcome. It really is a bad habit, especially with painting. I keep hoping that some day I will actually come to a point where I can plan a painting. For the moment, don’t ask me how to do that because I have no bloody idea and not for lack of searching for an answer that works for me. Oh, there’s people who will talk about composition and thumbnails and such like that. There’s Mikki Senkarik whose work I follow because she walks through the whole painting process and has great tips, but I just can’t. It feels like plotting to me and I’m afraid that it would ruin the energy of the piece. David Limrite told me earlier this year that I just needed to start treating my canvas like my sketchbook and he is right. While he and his partner, Jordan, were able to get me painting more, I just have yet to actually sit down at a canvas and start scribbling like I do in my sketchbook.

I admit that I have frustrations that I don’t have with my writing (any more). If I look back, then yes I can see similarities with what I use to go through with my writing. I know it’s part of reaching a new level of mastery and that these steps must be gone through. I know this!

I frustrate myself, feeling myself getting older and not getting any closer to the things I desire in this life.

Photo by Pixabay on

How long must the old dog lie on the nail before the pain gets so intense that it moves? I ask myself this question often.

Okay, well this is going down a rabbit hole I didn’t expect. But maybe it is part of my walk into the enchanted forest. I can’t let the magic help me if I don’t tell the spell what I want it to perform.

Interesting. I often ask people what story my paintings tell them, but I haven’t done this sort of exploration for myself.

While I will leave myself to think on that, let’s found back to the original intent of this post.

As I was saying before my diatribe, because of how I paint, it makes each one unique. One has finally been produced that is similar to to Brightening.

It is called, “Enchanted Forest.”

I know, you’re shocked.

Enchanted Forest
8″x10″ acrylic on canvas board
© 2020 Dawn Blair

I love the little mudslide across the path. A great little obstacle to encounter. I think some dwarf was mining and chucking all the dirt up in a mound. With the area so lush, it must get a lot of rain. That made the mud slide down.

If you want to own this piece for yourself, you can get it now on Etsy. Warning though: once it’s sold, it’s gone.

I am

I am a builder.

I am an architect.

I am a wizard.

I create.

Last week I ran afoul with my own thoughts. I despise nothing more than those depressing creative moods that drag me down like plough stuck in the mud. I have learned that for me there is only one solution: sleep.

But when the first night of sleep didn’t help. I’d gone to bed early, but didn’t sleep well. I spiraled into an even worse mood: an angry, depressed creative mood. It seriously didn’t help that the Universe seemed to want me in that exact state and was doing everything it could to keep me there.

The second night of sleep was better. I actually slept, probably because I hadn’t slept correctly the night before. Afterwards, I felt somewhat better, no longer stuck in the mud, but not quite pulling along like I should.

I asked the Universe what I needed now and it quickly replied with “The Freelancery, of course.” I headed over to Walt Kania’s blog. Now, I love Walt’s blog posts, but he doesn’t write nearly enough of them for me. I want more. But, I also understand that he’s got his freelancing going on and so I’m glad that he puts out his words of wisdom as he can for the rest of us.

Fortunately for me, he had put out a post since my last visit. And, just as the Universe had promised, it was exactly what I needed. In this post, he talks about the difference between an entrepreneur and a freelancer. At first, I was all ready to disagree and yell that a freelancer had to be an entrepreneur and understand that they were a business for themselves. But as I read Walt’s blog, I understood his point. And I saw that I most definitely ended up in the freelance side of things.

But as I read on and I got to his line, “…a freelancer says “I built this,”…” something inside me snapped as if two pieces were clicking into place together. Immediately I discarded the remnants of the funk plaguing me.

I am a builder. I build books, paintings, audiobooks, comics, photographs, and whatever else suits me at a given moment.

I am an architect. I see structures of plots, of systems, of storylines, of compositions all in my mind’s eye.

I am a wizard. I bring forth that which was not there into our world as if by magic using the tools I have.

I create. I make something from nothing, giving form and substance to the things I build.

I write this in order to remind myself should I ever forget. Maybe along the way, someone else needs to hear these thoughts so as to bring his or her own mind back together.

Maybe it will help, along with some sleep.


I came across a great blog by Eric Maisel this week, and one I find myself guilty of: Where will you find the time to paint?


Whenever someone asks me how I do all that I, I always reply with, “Choices.” That’s exactly what it is. And exactly what that blog post points to but never actually hits that nail on the head. He asks, “Does your art truly matter to you?” and then alludes that if it does (and it might not), that you need to “make time” for you will never “find time.” All true. However, there is a step missing.

If your art matters to you, is it a priority? It is a choice you have to make.

Here’s a reality: you can either make art, or you can agonize about not making it.

Do or do not, there is no try.

See, there are some times that making art wouldn’t be a priority. Health might be an example. If you really need to lose weight (okay, and we’re not talking about a little bit of weight here, I’m talking about significant weight), then your health comes first. You can’t make art if you’re dead. If this is the case, health has to be the priority. But is there something else you can cut out that isn’t a priority, like sitting on the couch for 2 hours watching TV? TV, news, etc., not a priority. I feel like I’m digressing.

Quit watching those painting videos and go paint.

Sometimes other things in life do need to take priority. I find that during these times, I don’t agonize about not painting. It’s not even on my radar. Same with writing.

But when I do start wishing I “had more time” to write or paint, then that should be a clear flag to me that I am making other things a priority when maybe they shouldn’t be. But I have to make the choice to go sit down at my desk or at my easel. I have to make doing the work important by my own choice.

As he says in the blog, you have to motivate yourself to crawl through your resistance. I am guilty of not doing that lately.

In a recent class I was taking, the instructor spoke about blocking out time on your calendar for things that need to be done. For some reason, I have always found this very discouraging. My artistic child hates to be told to do things at a certain time. But I am more than my artistic child. I am the owner of four businesses now. I have a full time job. I need to be responsible. So here I am crawling around in my own head about how to make more time to work on one of those businesses that my artistic child is the ruler of – the business where it my job to create value from my thoughts and ideas and feed them into my other businesses.

Now, not everyone desires to make money from their art. Some just want to do it. To me, my creativity doesn’t feel complete until it is released into the world for a viewer to see and react. But if you are doing it for the pure joy and you can’t make the time to do it, then something else is bringing you joy. Release the art and let it influence you as the muse sees fit. My photography is like that.

Eric Maisel’s blog made me realize that I haven’t been very good in taking my own words of advice about how far you can go in just doing a task for 15 minutes a day. And that is what has gotten under my skin. He’s right and I know it. There has been no try, only do not.

Time to sit down and rethink my priorities I guess. No, I know that I can’t give up my painting. I know that I only feel complete when I’m doing it all. So I guess I must make time. My artistic child must learn to control her playtime when it is scheduled. Then I have to have the priorities strong enough to not want to go off and do something else that might need to be done.

The frustration, the resistance, the hatred of staying firm to one’s decisions is real.

Now, back to losing weight. I’ve been sitting for far too long in this block of time I’m made to write my blogs for this week. I must now turn to my Cubii Jr. and get a few more steps in.


I recently had the seal go out on my toilet. I have known that it was going and been ignoring it probably for far too long. Now it was just done.

So, I set about replacing the seal and the toilet.

Most people probably would have just called a plumber to come and do this. However, I am too stubborn and naively stupid to do that. My brother has always been one to take things apart to see how they worked and I am apparently a late-bloomer in that department. But I have taught myself a many good things by just jumping in and swimming around. That’s how I’ve learned to use Excel, Power Query, and PowerBI. That’s how I’ve built databases. I’ve used this method to change faucets, and now a toilet. I even started my self-publishing and art careers by just seeing what would happen.

As a result, many people have told me that they admire my courage or marvel in all the varied skills I have.

While I am grateful for all the skills I have learned for they have all served me well, I have never seen myself as doing something that someone else couldn’t do if they wished. In fact, if anything, I have seen myself as learning everything not only the hard way, but backwards as well.

Remember, I did say naively stupid.

It always seems like I then have to stop with this intermediate knowledge that I gained in this ill-mannered fashion and go back and get the beginning, foundational knowledge. Yeah, those first important steps to keep the whole thing from crumbling. I think I would have been better off if my dad hadn’t just told me that my forts were amazing because they stood up while lacking a foundation and had actually taken me to a construction site to explain what exactly a foundation was. Foundations?!?! I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t know why it mattered if my forts remained standing anyway. Didn’t make sense to me. Of course, I don’t think either my dad or I understood just what a visual learner I was at that time.

But there does seem to be some element which I do possess that others lack, something that makes me even attempt feats that others shirk away from.


Behind this courage is a willingness to try. And a willingness to fail. Followed by the curiosity to get back up again and try again. But if you can’t even get over the initial fears, you won’t open yourself up to the attempt to begin with. And we all have the ability to do that because we learn how to walk. We learn how to talk. The instinctual actions of a baby all give way at some point to a need to learn something new. I believe our current school system tempers a willingness to try out of us with their incessant need to have the correct answers on the first try. Failure is not allowed. Trying it again, swimming around in the information to see how to use it, and other handling of the information just fed to us in school is not encouraged or allowed. It’s all about being able to pass the standardized test.

OK, I probably need to stop there. We need the initial knowledge that school gives us, but I still feel like there has to be a better way. And I can say this. I was a good student and got decent grades. I graduated as Valedictorian. But it has taken me 30 years of my life to actually understand HOW to use the knowledge I’d been told to learn. And to figure out how life worked. I wish I could say that I did a better job of teaching my children, but it was only when I saw my oldest struggling and learning that he had learning disabilities which forced us to discover how he learns the best that I really did any self-reflection into this. And I could see what needed to be corrected for my family. I changed my course and tried to assure that life lessons were taught in regards to applicable situations.

I learned a lot from it. I pressed myself into more self-development. I knew I had a lot to unlearn and recondition.

I know that’s a long way of going about writing this blog, but 2020 has been a year of personal growth for me. I decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to do shows due to COVID, I would put my time into learning new skills and molding myself into a better person.

When I looked back, I saw that I had already come a significant distance. I already knew quite a bit about changing the person I was. I even found that I liked motivating others to make the decision to change themselves. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. But when they do and you see the pride rising in them from the changes they see in themselves, it’s a wondrous thing.

Even know as I write this though, I am finding it tough. I am trying to summon the courage to explain. I’ve let a new bubble expand in my life. I’ve started to write nonfiction. I always imagined that if I wrote nonfiction, it would be about writing (the only thing in this world I actually feel knowledgeable about and sometimes even that is doubtful!) . Alas, no, my nonfiction will be about personal development. (I’ve heard it said that psychologists themselves usually need the most mental help, and priests need the most spiritual help, so what does that say about me? Yes, probably that I am still a baking cookie as Buffy put it!) At least, that is where I am starting. Who knows what will happen from there.

Yes, I’m scared to undertake this journey. It might fail. It seems like one more thing on my already full plate. Yet, I do feel compelled to go in this direction. Not that any of the others are going to stop. I still want to write fiction, paint, and narrate, but I have to somehow incorporate the nonfiction as well. My soul seeks the expansion. Yet that doesn’t help overcome the fear. Fear of being judged, of being ridiculed, of falling on my face.

So once again, I just jump in and swim. At least I already understand writing and publishing in this day and age. Finally, for once, I might not totally be naively stupid.

Sketchbook ramblings

Sometimes I like to go back through my sketchbook. I find interesting things.

Here’s a partially inked picture of *shock* Steigan. I use to draw him more than anything else. Not so much these days, but every now and then he pops up.

You can see that it’s over 2 years old.

More interesting is that on the next page, I found this statement that I wrote:

His eyes are older,

Yet they still mock me.

Temptation leave me be.

I am an idiot.

His eyes still haunt.

My heart grows none the wiser.

Just have to say, “Say what?” I found this to be a completely odd statement in my journal. Who the heck was I talking about? Was it just words that popped into my head? I have lines that do that sometimes, but I generally write them down in an idea file, not in my sketchbook. This makes me think I was actually referring to someone. Besides, words like “I am an idiot” don’t usually fill the snippets that land in my head; that also feels more like me talking in my head.

Since this was also dated around 2017 and there is absolutely no clue as to what I was thinking about on that day, I guess this will fall off into the mysteries of mankind. The world will never know what adventure I was on that day which led me to write these words.

Oh, and it’s more proof that I am no poet. But I do enjoy it when my past self leaves my future self some tantalizing mysteries.


Just a quick note to let you know that my ladybug painting is now available on Zibbet.

7″ x 5″
acrylic on canvas
©2019 Dawn Blair

I have always loved ladybugs. I remember going out on the ranch when I was younger and looking for ladybugs. I’d talk to them, or rescue them if I found them in an area where it might be dangerous for them (they were down too low and the irrigation water was coming, they were in a patch of grass about to be invaded by swimmers coming in to set up for the swim meet, etc.). They use to come and land on me all the time; they still do, but not as frequently because I’m not outside as much. It was actually because one landed on me, sparking my memories, that I decided there would be ladybugs in this picture.

I suspect we’ll be seeing more ladybug pictures in the future. For now, I have started here.

A tree dreams

Once again, I’m going to start with the last picture of the prior painting blog. This is where I was at when I started “fixing” the nebula. I almost stopped here, but I felt like the colors were too soft now.


Black needed added in.


I knew I needed to make the color more dramatic. It just felt too soft and everything blended without a draw for the eyes. So I intensified the hues with another layer. If you look carefully at the next picture, you can also see the splattering of stars.


Time for the final stars and highlights on several of them. There are 7 glittering stars in that sky created by the dreams of a tree.


Come see the original today at the Jerome Music Booster craft show from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Happy adventuring!

The nebula develops

Honestly, I never expected the nebula to give the problems that it did. I thought I had this.

Yeah, right.

Okay, here is the last picture from the last blog so you can recall what it looked like.


Here I blended the colors together. Oh, and I also added the sparkles to the tree which I wanted.


So I thought it was all well at this point. I just needed to add in some dark spots.


That was when I realized I had a mess. Giving the top a moment to dry, I filled in the ground beneath the tree. I wasn’t certain that I even wanted ground, but after I got it in, I decided that it had been the right thing to do.


I had the thought at this point that I wanted the nebula to reflect the colors of the tree. I went back to some reference pictures of nebulae and tried to decide what I wanted to do. Here’s what came about:


I’m going to leave this blog here for now. I’ll post the final on Saturday. As I will be out at the Jerome Music Booster craft show from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can come see the real deal there.

Until then, happy adventuring.