Books are a Luxury

What 10 Books Have Improved Your Life?

Ex Libris

Books are one of life’s luxuries. Throughout history, literacy has always been associated with the aristocracy- the class of wealth, power and luxury. This is still true of our modern affluent society, though perhaps less obvious and even taken for granted. Nevertheless, reading is arguably the most readily available asset to bettering life. Reading is a luxury.

A while ago I was challenged by a friend on Facebook to list 10 books which have affected my life. This process took much thought, debate and narrowing down. It was not only an introspective exercise then, but it the idea has lingered with me each time I have picked up a book since. As an avid reader this has provided a plethora of opportunities to be aware of the information I’m consuming, not only in books but elsewhere.

Here is the list I posted on Facebook:

    1. The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ, because I know it’s true. This book is the word of god, just like the Bible.
      1. 5. The Holy Bible, KJV, because how can I claim to be Christian and not have the life of the Savior affect my own. And Tyndale’s translation is simply masterful, which I have come to appreciate more through my study of Latin and ancient Greek.
    2. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray Ph.D. because this book taught me about myself as much as about others. Just a note that I could add a whole slew of similar books, but I chose this one to represent them all. I would also include in this category the book: You Don’t Need to Slay My Dragons, Just Take Out the Trash, by Beverly Campbell, because this book added the spiritual element I felt was missing, to the Mars and Venus idea.
    3. Believing Christ, by Stephen E. Robinson, because this book brought to my attention the destructive side of my perfectionist tendencies and taught me to rely more fully on the grace of the Savior.
    4. How to Get Ideas, by Jack Foster, because this book opened my eyes to a new world of creativity. And I would add that this is another category where I have read other valuable books and essays with similar and compatible ideas. This one represents the lot.
    5. How to Make a Living As a Painter, by Kenneth Harris, because this book was so different from all the others I have read on the subject and it communicated to me what success ultimately means and that there’s not any one right (or wrong for that matter) way to do it.
    6. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare. This book was among my favorites as a child and remains so today. It is a gem. I have read it so many times. I own three copies- all in different states of wear.
    7. A Quiet Heart, by Patricia T. Holland. This book was a gift most timely given. An inspiration. It has become a precious reminder that daily communion with the Spirit of Christ is a vital part of a healthy soul.
    8. Sunset’s Western Garden Book, because let’s face it, my garden would be dead without it.
    9. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book 12 the Centauromachy, because this was the story which inspired me to tell a story of my own.
    10. The Twilight Series, by Stephanie Meyer. (Before you laugh, hear me out. This is not a team Edward or team Jacob thing.) I enjoyed the series and was entertained for the time it took to read it, but the true inspiration was the feeling that the story I want to tell is at least that good and if this could be successful, then I could too. So, a toast to the pursuit of dreams.

Ok, ok I sort of cheated with the 1.5, but the scriptures really do go hand in hand and I needed room for another book without having a number 11. This was difficult, believe me. (Well, difficult in terms of narrowing it down to 10, not in terms of knowing which books have impacted me.)

Are you a reader? What books have had the greatest impact on your life? Share in the comments.

Every Home Should Have Original Art

Why Every Home Should Have Original Art And How To Get It

Luxurious Living

Sure I may be biased as a fine artist, but I believe that every home should have original art. Why? Because original art is a luxury. And who doesn’t want their home to feel more luxurious?

There are two ways to get original art.

  1. You could buy it.
  2. Or you could make it.

The first option to having original art in your home: buy it.

You’re probably thinking that “original art is expensive! I don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a painting.” While expensive may be true of some original art, it is not true of all original art. If you think all original art is beyond your price range you probably haven’t shopped around far enough.

A high-end art gallery with hundreds of dollars of overhead isn’t the only place to buy art. There are art fairs all over the country (and likely the world) where artists (probably the starving ones) are selling their original work, searching for patrons of their creativity. Still think that’s out of your price range?

Try your local high school or community college. These institutions are filled with art students eager for their first clients. I know I was. And it wasn’t just about the money either. There was a sublime satisfaction in the plausibility that my work was “good enough” that someone actually wanted it enough to pay something for it. Students know they’re still learning their craft.

In addition to owning original art you’ll also be doing the artist an invaluable service not only by validating their efforts, but by giving them some practice in the real-world skill of selling and negotiating while working with you as a client. Because believe me, for any artist, negotiating prices for their work is the hardest part. And I would add that now, fifteen years later (not to mention that much more skilled at what I do) it is those first few clients who helped shape my career and who most qualify for special discounts and deals. Every artist would much more desire a patron than simply a one-time customer. When you demonstrate patronage you are more valuable as a customer and the working relationship moves beyond a simple transaction of money.

If you thought about it I’m sure you already know personally at least one artist whose work you admire. There is affordable original art out there.

The second option to having original art in your home: make it.

I know, I know, you’re thinking “that’s easy for you to say, you’re a painter.” But, as a painter, I can testify to the sense of fulfillment that comes from having my own art on display for the world to see. Well, any who enter my home that is. If in the very least it is a conversation piece with guests when you can say, “I painted that myself.” Still skeptical?

Enroll in a class. I can promise you as an art teacher with 15 years experience helping creative skeptics just like you, that with a little expert help from a teacher, you will be amazed at what you didn’t know you could do! Try it. You might even enjoy it.

I had a young student who sold his work of art within ten minutes of completing it at my studio. As a nine-year-old, “five dollars richer” made his day. And the buyer went home with a lovely piece of original art.

The thing about children and art is that children have no inhibitions to their creativity. Still struggling with the courage to pick up that brush? A child will do it without hesitation, and as a child you did too. Unleashing your inner artist is very much like freeing your inner child. Remember what it was like to be that child willing and able to try the new and exciting without fear of judgment or the stifling prospect of being “good enough.” A child will always tell you they’re a good artist. They have no doubt about it. Until they learn to doubt it.

Sponsor a child artist or better yet be creative together!

One final note about displaying art. No matter the quality of the work, the right frame can make or break the art. Yes I know, believe me, frames can be expensive too. But they don’t have to be. They do however have to compliment the work and not detract from it. Choose wisely. The simplest piece can look exquisite in the right frame, while the wrong frame can detract from the most beautiful painting. More on frames later.

No matter which of these methods you choose, having original art in your home will always add an element of luxury.

Do you have original art in your home? What significance does the work hold for you? Share in the comments.

Don’t Buy Luxury, Create it!

Luxurious Living

Contrary to popular belief, luxury in life need not be bought, it can be created. The truly luxurious things in life, seldom require money at all.

As an artist in the blogosphere, what is my message? Well, not surprisingly, my message is about creativity. The world needs more creativity. Why? Because creativity solves problems. Creativity enriches life. Creativity brings joy and satisfaction to both the creator and those with whom the creation is shared. And because a creative life is a luxurious life. (You can read my Artist Statement here.)

Let me explain. Most of the time luxury is associated with money. And perhaps there is some truth to that idea. But that is not what I’m talking about. Creativity makes life better. Creativity makes the ordinary extraordinary. Creativity makes the old new again. Creativity envisions, inspires, motivates and produces. But it doesn’t end there. That’s the magic of creativity. As the old adage says, creativity can never be used up because the more you use, the more you have. Creativity is the ultimate natural resource.

And here’s the secret: Everyone has their own limitless supply, a creative well which will never run dry. It is a well which can be drawn from endlessly, any time, anywhere. Perhaps your creative well is rusted from neglect. Luckily, the pump can always be primed.

  • My motto is “Live Luxuriously, Be Creative.”
  • My message is that luxury has little to do with money and everything to do with being creative.
  • My mission is to inspire and teach others to enrich their own lives by unleashing their creative powers.

Since you’re here on my website, you’ve undoubtedly seen my tagline: “Living Luxuriously as a Starving Artist.” I can attest to the fulfillment that comes with doing what you love, even if it’s not viewed as practical. It is certainly a luxury.

If you are creative like me, I have no doubt you have already experienced this, and you know that nothing gets the creative juices flowing faster than being inspired by someone else’s creativity. I look forward to connecting and collaborating.

If you are skeptic, let me prove it to you. I can promise you that once you open the creative flood gates, your life will never be the same again. I’m not necessarily saying it’s easy. Creativity is work. There’s an old saying: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. This is false. It is a subliminal message that work is a nasty, evil conspiracy that makes our lives miserable. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the sentiment meant by the message. Believe me, there are plenty of tasks that are not fun, that I just plain do not enjoy doing, but that are still a part of life. But that’s not what I’m talking about either. Work, the right king of work (and with the proper mindset I might add), can be richly rewarding, but it is still work with all the blood sweat and tears implied by the idea of work. However, creative work is a work that is fulfilling. It is a work that is never drudgery even when the immediate task at hand is unpleasant. Because when we live creatively we have a whole new mindset. Work becomes about accomplishing goals. Work is about creating something that didn’t exist before. It is about production. And that too is a luxurious way to live.

The new, the extraordinary, that which brings pleasure and fulfillment, all these are luxury. Where creativity is found in abundance, luxury inevitably follows. I’m excited to share more about how creativity can enrich life. Additionally I’ll share my own creative experiences, both successes and failures, in the hopes of getting your own creative juices flowing. Here’s to a luxuriously creative life!

What are the obstacles to creativity in your life? Share in the comments and let’s conquer them together.