7 Most Valuable Lessons of 2014

7 Most Valuable Lessons of 2014

7 Most Valuable Lessons of 2014 - Rebecca Latham

It seems like 2014 just began. Now in a matter of hours we are all about to say our farewells and welcome the coming year.  Not surprising, since I know many others do it as well, I usually spend a few weeks reflecting as things wind down – a yearly review if you will.  So here is an abbreviated version for those it may interest.  All best wishes to you in 2015.

1. Having Brave Moments

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a bold or brave person, to be honest.  I just do what I do and I have fun along the way.  ..but I do have some go go go that I was born with and can’t get rid of for better or worse – that leads to some brave moments and a lot of calculated throwing of spaghetti. (For the worse, you can ask my mother about the joys of trying to keep track of my younger self)

“Be bold. Be deliberate in what you choose, for your choices become your creations.” – Jeff Boss

I’ve pushed myself to do a number of things this past year that were uncomfortable (caused by a build up of tension that has to explode in some direction).   Venturing outside of my comfort zone is a good thing – it means finding new ways to grow.  Overall I’ve been pleased with the results of it – from starting stacks of 75 new paintings at a time to art ventures.

2.Don’t Be Afraid To Trim Supporters

Everyone needs supporters and fans, no arguments there. (Yes, I don’t care who you are, you have fans.)  When you create and decide a clear path where you want to take your work, you have to be ok with doing a little trimming of supporters or fans – alienating a few difficult people in order to create more, better, and bolder work that makes your truest supporters love you that much more.

Art that is boldly you is the only art worth making.  Bland art – the sort that is made to be pleasing to everyone – truly pushes no boundaries and becomes stagnant to the artist.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I like pushing my own boundaries to see what I am capable of.

You, the artist, get to decide where your work is going and who you want it to appeal to.   Some people will like it, some won’t.  In the end, I’m okay with that.

3. Perfectionism is Overrated, Let it Go.

I’m never totally pleased with my work. (..and sometimes my opinion on that topic is more extreme than that)  The painting on my drafting table never matches the vision of it that I had in my mind that I had wanted to create.  After several to many reworking sessions on it, and a few time-outs so it or I can cool off, I accept it for the painting it became and focus on the next one.  As maddening as it may be, sometimes the painting just has other plans.

4. Be with Those You Like and Want to be Like

Working with and/or for very good people is a highlight of being an artistpreneur. I haven’t always been blessed to do so, but slowly I’ve been able to focus on adjusting that arrangement.  For me it’s the most inspiring and uplifting part of painting apart from being in the field.  The value of it materializes when working long hours day after day for weeks on end.  It matters.  ..and I thank them all.

“You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

5. Everything Should Persistently Improve

I want to learn something from each painting I make or project I complete that makes me better in the next one. I always, always want to be a little better today than I was yesterday.  Never be satisfied.  As an artist and business owner, I’m always on the lookout for incremental ways to improve both.  Just because it’s not broken doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fixed – because even good things can be made better.

6. Time is Money is Health

There’s only so much time in the day, and sadly it’s never enough to get everything accomplished. My to-do list app looks like a novel in fiction at the moment. I like staying busy, but a few times this year I teetered on the edge of pushing myself too far with self imposed deadlines and work to be done, stumbling into a bit of burnout.  This may never be something I can completely master in balance, but keeping it monitored seems to be helpful – making wise decisions in choosing priorities and the behaviors involved in executing those priorities.

7. Ask

There is nothing like clarity.  Asking is the best way to get it, since the unsolicited sort isn’t usually the constructive answer to the specific questions you’d hoped for. (from whether the shade of mud I chose was nice or ugly to if I would be considered certifiable for a concept or 2 I had..)  So supporters, colleagues, people I know in other fields.. all have helped to contribute to the light leading my way on the rugged art-making path.  I thank you for that.

Throwing Paint and Playing with Glass

Throwing Paint and Playing with Glass

Rebecca and Bonnie Latham at the Kelley Galleries Open House in Hudson

A while back, this spring, I asked what all of my supporters surfing the social networks were interested in when hearing from an artist.  Overall, it seems that more than anything it’s to stand in my shoes for a bit.  (..and get into my head)



So, to begin seeing what I can do about that, this month I’ve become a Google Glass Explorer.

For those who might not have heard of it, Glass is a wearable mobile device in beta testing that captures video, still shots, and connects online by pairing with your phone.  ..being controlled by gestures, voice command, or touch.

I’m still getting the hang of it, but hopefully it will allow me to easily share with all of you a little bit of what I see, do, and experience so you can be there with me.

(Since many have already asked, the prism glass-like piece over my eye doesn’t act like a high powered magnification lens.  Rather, it shows a small transparent card-like screen to control the device, share to the web, etc.)


The first public use of Glass for me was this past Saturday for the Kelley Galleries Hudson Open House where I filmed myself painting a great horned owl (Samantha) from the Minnesota Raptor Center in 3 hours.  ..many short clips showing progress that will be combined shortly.

And lastly.. A photo gallery of the event/auction:

Painting and Eye Strain

Painting and Eye Strain


Being that I chose the visual arts as a career, I have been lucky to have 20/20 vision, especially considering l had risks of being blind from complications when was born. Needless to say I’d have had to find another line of work.

This Spring in the thick of deadline season, however, I’ve been having issues with burning, scratchy, sore (and often bloodshot) eyes, sometimes with a headache thrown in, making it difficult to work.   Being in this field, it’s somewhat expected.  But I was finding that I was having to consistently stop several hours earlier than usual.  With eyedrops not providing much relief, I went in for a check to see what might be going wrong.  (And pretty much expecting serious problems.)

I mentioned the the long hours of painting (12-15+ hr days) I tend to go on with. Oddly enough, the technician in the showroom, a little surprised, asked if I do that voluntary. I replied “I’m an artist, it’s what I do”.

I’m not sure I satisfied the curiosity, but after an exam I was awarded a prescription for reading glasses for the eye strain and apparently all is fine other than hitting the limit of what my eyes want to do. (So now I’m sporting a nice chunky Clark Kent pair of spectacles in the studio.  The cat isn’t sure what to think.)

Do you Listen to Music?

Do you Listen to Music?

paint and coffee

Eduard L. mentioned that he was curious about inspiration.  (If) While doing the painting are you listening to a certain music or if you want to be in a silent area, etc?

That’s a good question.

I have always listened to something.  Earlier on, I liked Classical (non vocal) music or film scores.  Later it was a mix of that and Jazz (also non vocal).

Lately, as of the past few years, I have been either listening to nonfiction audio books or podcasts.  I like to learn new things while I’m occupied with the motor skills of brush strokes.  Because really, a million brush strokes on a board can get monotonous.

In the past, around five-ish years ago I guess, I would listen to language courses ( French, German, Dutch, Italian, Mandarin).  These, though nice, seemed to interfere with painting a bit, and unless I found myself painting a more simple piece or in the right mindset, I found that it didn’t help the flow at all and I tended to zone out the audio entirely to focus on the painting.  I do throw those in sometimes now, but not as often.

Aside from that, I go back to my original musical themes – classical piano, cello, maybe some smooth or swing jazz are weapons of choice.  ..and of course holiday jingles for Christmas (and July when you’re dreaming of a snowflake or two.. ;) ).

Have a question like this?  Send me an email with this form and it I will consider it for a future post.

New Blogging

Thanks for stopping by my new domain.  This is a second site for me.  My first, on my family’s site Latham Studios ( lathamstudios.com/rebecca ) where I’ve been posting since 2004, is still going to be my main location on the web so no worries there.  I will still be posting all of my paintings, new releases, information on related exhibits/events/products/etc there for that.

I started this one primarily because I wanted a place online where I could post a little more freely (plus I have this domain that I should probably use).  Basically I know that if I share 5 posts in a row about baby raptors, or a lecture I attended, or anything else that I happen to find interesting, I might annoy those that are subscribing on Latham Studios who are really only interested in the strictly art side of things.  …and I respect that and don’t want to crowd your time with things that may not interest you.  So this will be kind of like how I post on my personal facebook and and facebook page right now.

If you do want to hear about random things I am doing, then welcome!  I’m glad you’re here.  I’ll try not to be too repetitive on both locations so those that like can subscribe to both if they like. :)