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Author: Jeanetta Darley

Escaping Your Comfort Zone

Escaping the comfort zone is like getting up out of my warm bed on these cold mornings. The weather has been cold for a long time. Days of temperatures this low are not common here. I’ve realized doing things I don’t like or that aren’t fun is like that cold shock when my feet hit the tile floor in my bedroom.

On Wednesday I started two gouache and ink illustrations. Ultimately, I threw away said illustrations. Don’t worry. They weren’t working out. The paint, pencil, ink, and paper just weren’t interested in the careful guidance I was trying to impart. Unlike painting on a canvas there’s no gesso to the rescue to cover up all my mistakes and start over. I took this as a sign that I needed to give creating a rest and get after the much needed admin side of things. Often, the not so fun part but the most necessary.

Everything about my bed says, “Hey, it’s warm and comfy and safe here. You don’t need to get up.” So I bury myself deeper in quilts and blankets. Staying with what’s cozy and comfortable and known.

But eventually things need attention. Eventually you have to escape the comfort zone for some reason. But you have to learn to recognize the signs. Like that cup of coffee my husband brought me before he left for work. It is telling me…

1. I’m empty and you need more.
2. You should really go to the bathroom or we are going to have other issues.

All that to say staying with the familiar in my comfort zone isn’t going to move me forward. It’s not going to get artwork listed online or websites updated. It’s not even going to help me find new inspiration so that I can return to my first love of creating art. And it certainly isn’t going to get me another cup of coffee.

Escaping the comfort zone is like getting up out of my warm bed. It's like that cold shock when my feet hit the tile floor in my bedroom. Click To Tweet

For more information on this artwork “The Quilted Nest” please contact me. 3’x4′ acrylic on canvas.

Conway Christmas Tree Lighting & Sketch

Christmas lights are my favorite thing about all the craziness of the holiday season.  Twinkle lights make everything magical.  The warm glow illuminating against the dark night or hidden in the branches hypnotizes. So after a week of Thanksgiving vacation, Phoebe and I headed out to watch the downtown Conway Christmas tree lighting.

Watch the video the Conway Christmas tree lighting here

The Conway Christmas tree lighting was a perfect subject for my black sketch paper. If you have never tried it I highly encourage you to. I love how black and toned paper makes colored pencils pop! The colors are richer and it gives your illustration a higher level of contrast with a lot less effort. I want to try different subjects on this dark paper. Actually, I think a series of botanical illustrations would be nice. Maybe I’ll put that on my list for the spring.

conway christmas tree

We had a good time. We made bets on whether the whole tree would light up this year (that has been an issue in past years) and imagined a “Polar Express” scenario with Santa’s sleigh catching the tip of the tree.

She’s a senior this year and going out of town for college in the fall. I think I am finally realizing she wont be here everyday and these little moments won’t be so easy to have at a snap of the fingers.  I relish in the fact that my children are older and independent. Breathing a sigh of relief that I’m no longer chasing littles.  But the idea that one day they would leave has become very real and I don’t think I have prepared myself for that. We didn’t stay all that long. Since both of us are not the biggest fans of milling about in crowds. We grabbed a coffee (well actually I had chai and she got some frozen froofroo thing) and headed home.


Art Hack for Preserving Your Paint Palette

I love a good life hack and an art hack is even better. I made my own stay wet paint palette out of easy to find materials.

*This post is sponsored by Ziploc® brand products. All opinions are my own. #ZiplocHolidayUAI

One thing that I love about working in acrylic paints is that they dry fast. One thing that I hate about acrylic paints is, well, they dry fast. I know, I sound fickle but hear my reasoning. I love that I don’t have to wait for them to dry like oils do before I can move on to another layer. My creation is completed sooner. But I always hated the way they dried so fast on my palette especially if I had just mixed the perfect color.

Last year, I purchased a stay wet palette system with box, sponge liner, and palette paper from an online art store but it was huge! And expensive. My work area isn’t big and it was taking up room on my desk.  ore importantly I only ever used about half of the palette at a time. So here I was tired of wasting space and tired of wasting paint. There had to be something inexpensive and easy that would solve my problem.

I am always looking for ways to use objects other than their intended purpose. Sometimes I’ll roam the aisles of Walmart thinking up second lives or other uses for ordinary objects. And who would have ever thought you would find art life inspiration on the wraps and bags isles? But I did.

That day I brought home a variety of Ziploc® brand containers. Eventually settling on the Ziploc® brand Divided Rectangle. With one larger area and two smaller sections, these are traditionally used for keeping lunches together but I was imagining another use. This was going to become the savior of my paint, and ultimately my pocket book.

Using the sponge liner and paper palette from the original system, I cut it down to fit the larger section. The smaller sections make it easier for mixing, creating paint washes or even holding water for rinsing your brush. I can see how that would be useful if you decided to do a little plein air painting or if you wanted to keep craft time with the kids a little neater.

To watch me put my paint palette together check out my YouTube video!


• Ziploc® brand Divided Rectangle or your choice of Ziploc® brand container
• Thin sponge or other absorbent material
• Palette paper, wax paper, or parchment paper
• Scissors
• Water
• Spray bottle (optional)


1. Cut down the sponge to fit inside your Ziploc® brand container. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just want it to lay flat.
2. Cut the paper to cover the sponge.
3. Soak the sponge in water until it is completely saturated. You do not want it to drip or puddle in the container but you don’t want to wring it out completely.
4. Palette paper may require its own soaking instructions. Check the directions on the kind you have purchased. If you are using wax or parchment paper no soaking is required.
5. Sprinkle water or use the spray bottle to give the palette a good mist each time you go to close it up.
6. Now add your paints and get creative!

I keep a couple of these stacked on my desk. Some hold a specific color palette for a certain painting I am working on or one has everything thing I need to mix skin tones. You can organize them a variety of ways. But I am rather proud of my artist hack. It saved my paint, saved my money, and keeps me creating!

I’m using my new paint palette as I finish up the faces on these nutcracker portraits for some upcoming Christmas markets. I hope you will exercise some creative spirits this holiday season. What creative ideas are you cultivation?

Face to Face

Even though setting up a booth at an event is a lot of hard work.  I mean a lot!  It’s still one of my favorite things about selling my art.  It’s a space where I can create an environment for my creations to live and to be looked at even of its temporary.  I am no where near the point and time when I could maintain a permanent location or that I even want to do that.  But I love building and designing something that draws people into my space to look at my works.

Conway Artsfest – October 2017. This was the first time I was trying out my new display shelves and making my set up work around a single table. My motto is “pack it all in!”

And I love meeting everyone.  As a self employed artist that works from home, unless I make a point to get out of the house I may go all week long and not see anyone else but my family when they come home in the afternoon.  Many times I get so lost and or frustrated in the creation process that I wonder if what I am making connects with anyone.  And I have to admit, I love to hear people gush about my artwork.  When I send off wholesale orders, you can loose some of that feedback and connectivity with the people buying my art.

Conway Ecofest 2017. Fall took a vacation and we were right back in the middle of 90 degree weather! All the sweating.

October was chocked full of shows.  And my first three day show at that.  But everything went great.  I sold art. Even originals, which is always a happy dance occasion.  I made connections for commissions and just generally got my name and artwork out to those that didn’t know me before.

Vintage Market Days Little Rock – October 2017. There was wind and rain and cold weather on day 1. But my tent didn’t blow away and the rest of the show was bright and sunny!

It wasn’t without worry and trials.  There were winds, heat, and rain.  I actually left the key to my cash box in the truck my husband drove back home.  Sorry to the guy I had to run his card on for a $2.50 postcard.  Thankful that my son found the key and brought it back to me.  Thankful for kids who don’t mind sitting with me in the booth in exchange for getting to eat at their choice of food truck.  So even though there are hiccups and obstacles there’s lots of redeeming moments.

I hope to see you at the remaining events I have this year.

Do you enjoy markets and fairs?  Stop by and see me if you are near.


PS    I’d love for you to sign up for my newsletter.  I send it out about once a month.  There’s always a free download for those that subscribe and other bits about shop updates and events.  You can sign up by following this link!

Everyone Is Creative

It’s the middle of October and Inktober is upon us. And just like most things I had all these grand intentions of drawing and posting everyday because pen and ink is one of my favorite mediums. Inktober is a month long study using ink as your creative medium. Some use pens, some brushes, some colored inks and some in grayscale or even just good ole black ink. The only main rule is that you have to use ink. There are daily prompts that you can draw from for inspiration. Check the hashtag #Inktober2017 for drawings and illustrations on Instagram.

But y’all, October has been crazy busy! Busy good. Full of shows and commissions and other projects making a drawing a day just not possible. So I decided to do one project and base it around the idea of creativity.

I believe creativity is for everyone. Many times when I am sketching in public or working my booth at an art show, I hear people put down their creative abilities. They say “Oh I could never do that,” or “I’m just not good at being creative.” Or the one that I hate the most is “Well, you just make me never want to even try.” I know they think it’s a compliment but it’s quite possibly the worst thing you could say to me. The last thing I want people to walk away from my art feeling is that they never even want to try.

I’m 42 and I’ve been drawing since age two. After forty years I better be good at it. That’s the key to creativity. You have to work at it. You have to study and develop skills. Yes, I was probably born with a certain skill set that pushed me in a more creative direction. But my drawing abilities would never be where they are now if I hadn’t taken the time to learn about shape and form and value.

So many people seem unhappy and lost these days. I have to wonder if it’s because they have removed the act of creating from their lives. It’s almost as if the act of creativity was reserved just for the young or for the old. Kids get to be creative (although with the cut backs in art education that is in danger) because kids get to play and have fun. And people who have retired and aren’t working a nine to five get to take classes or spend time in these areas that foster creativity. But it’s those of us in the middle that flounder. We aren’t continually growing creative habits throughout our life spans and it’s leaving a hole.

I am big fan for making and doing things yourself. Way back before everything was mass produced and done for us, people had to be creative if they wanted things.

“We need a table to eat at!” Ok go chop down the tree, plane some boards and let’s make one.

“I need a blanket because it’s getting cold!” Ok let’s sew these scraps of fabric together. And you know what! We can arrange them in a pretty design because we like to look at pretty things.

You may say that all of these activities were done just out of necessity but there was still an act of creating. It grew out of a need for tangible things. Once you start to grow that ability inside you, inspiration follows. You’ll start getting ideas but perfection does not happen overnight. You have to work at it and pour time into it if it’s something you want to have in your life. And believe me you need it. It doesn’t just have to be painting or drawing. It can be music or cooking or sewing or knitting and crochet, weaving, woodworking, gardening, or dance!

Creating in any form is a holy process. Every human is creative. Every religion has a creation belief of some sort. We were all fashioned by the Great Creator. How can we believe that same ability doesn’t reside with us? Some people just haven’t found their process yet.

So I encourage you to get out there and be creative! If you are still nervous about starting a project why not just start with the simple act of coloring. And if you sign up for my newsletter you’ll get a free coloring page ready to inspire your creative endeavors.

I hope you find your creative process or at least start testing out which one feels best to you. And remember it’s a process so you have to give it longer than just one go. Let me know in the comments below how you’re going to exercise your creative spirit.

Financial Organization tips for feelance creatives

Homework and Finances

I have homework. I have recently started a weekly class that aims at helping artists be better organized in the business of art. Many times I feel very lost on this aspect of being a freelance artist. When you’re self employed you wear all the hats. And most of the time the hat of accountant seems way to big. Almost engulfing.  Like a little kid in their dad’s clothes.

So our homework was to describe our financial organization methods. My financial organizational methods are constantly evolving and changing. I keep what works and change what doesn’t. Currently I have found these simple tips that help keep all the important information in one place. Check out my newest YouTube video below for a description of what’s working at the moment.

The program and classes I am taking are through the Artist, INC organization. Their purpose is to help artist MAKE ART WORK. Being is artist is my job. It’s not a hobby. It’s what I studied in school. I’m ready for it to be my career.

If you are a freelance creative (artist, designer, writer, blogger) I think a lot of my tips are applicable to those fields and can help the accountant hat fit a bit better. If you have any tips that are working well for you share them with me!

Motivational thoughts from the coming of the fall season

This morning the air is crisp and cool and a crow was cawing on the hillside. It feels like fall is here. I hope it’s not just a short visit but a long settling in. My motivational thoughts start brewing when the weather changes.  All of the ideas start blooming when my flowers aren’t anymore.

fall pumpkins and leaves, motivational thought for fall

Soon there will be orange and yellow leaves drifting from the trees.  There will be fire pits burning and pumpkins for baking and sweaters and scarves to wrap around me.  I am really looking forward to the sweaters and scarves because my fall wardrobe is way better than my summer one.

There’s something about fall that seems just as inspiring as spring when it’s purpose is the exact opposite.  (Maybe even more so.)   In spring everything is new and coming to life.  In fall everything is dying but it never seems that way to me.  It’s more like the earth is trying to live simply for a while.  De-cluttering and making a bare bones or rather branches approach to the coming months.  Maybe my motivational thoughts are really telling me to get some of the clutter out of my house and life and make room for some new ideas.

October starts soon and I hope to participate in the Inktober challenge.  I do so love pen and ink!

pen and ink drawing of daisies on woodgrain by Jeanetta Darley ARTIST, motivational thoughts for art during fall
This is a pen and ink drawing of some daisies. You can watch the video of me drawing this here.

I have more events coming up this fall where you can catch me in person.  Check out my events page for more details.  I hope you will stop by for a chat.

Are you excited about fall too? How does nature inspire your motivational thoughts?

Check out my Etsy shop to purchase your own print of “The Fall Menagerie”