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Finding a Cadence

With the last two years feeling like a giant time to reflect on ones life and reason for being, we all had some time for introspection. With more time at home things became more simplified in some ways and in other ways more complex depending on your circumstances. The one thing I heard over and over again is that artists had more time to create. Another common consensus among many artists was that the alone time did not seem so strange. We love our time to fiddle! This was the case for me, though being home with my family 24/7 also conflicted with studio time, it was a little bit of a catch twenty-two. What I gained from the last two years was the opportunity to stop and reflect on what I am creating and why.

Feeling the pressures of working as a professional artist can be all consuming. Most professional artists work a lot, I know I did before becoming a mother. The constant grind keeps artists spinning in a never ending cycle of creating and producing. This is not a bad thing. Being consistent with studio time and productivity is vital to having momentum behind ones work. However, I always felt like I was only as good as my latest painting. With the age of social media being an additional pressure to us, artist are not allotted the time to reflect on their work like they once were. One of the things I have always loved most about being an artist is the time spent honing a craft or working on an important project for an extended period of time before presenting it to the to the world.

As I continued in my artistic journey and I began growing my career I quickly learned that there is a specific rhythm in which we strive in our work and process, not just in the balance but also in the pace at which we create. In a recent interview with Southwest Art Magazine I found myself talking about this and how at this point in my career I am taking a moment to reflect on my past work and be thoughtful about where I would like my future work to take me. Early on in my career I would feel rushed to deliver my work to my first gallery. Of course this left me little time to reflect on my paintings and to change or alter them if need be. At this time my mentor, Daniel Sprick, would caution me not to move so fast, that I needed to set the work aside in order for me to see if the piece was truly finished. This was an act of patience for me to execute but when I did, I never regretted it. Fast forward to today I am craving that time and I am finding myself wanting to take that time but not feeling like the world is allowing it. The world moves at a much more rapid pace which can force us to feel like we must keep up. But if we are not setting our own pace, knowing what is the most productive speed for ourselves then we really just end up spinning our wheels going nowhere.

Being an artist who has also taught art for 15 years I have had the wonderful insight into how to teach my craft by bridging concepts and principles in ways that are relatable to many people. So this got me thinking, about the word Cadence! How do we know what to set our cadence at? I believe there is a time for speed and a time to work more methodically. One of my favorite books called “The Art of Learning” by Joshua Waitzkin touches on this idea. That sometimes intense and rapid learning or training followed by a succession of rest and reflection can actually lead to exponential growth. I thought this was so fascinating especially considering that he teaches this method to a wide variety of people doing a range of disciplines. Both are important to growing and learning but when outside forces dictate our speed rather than being in touch with our own cadence, our ability to progress can get derailed. There are so many distractions these days it can be easy to get off track.

Why I am I writing about this? The recent article sparked some thoughts of my own, reflecting on my beginnings and where I am now, has given me some clarity on the importance of creating a painting practice that supports growth in my work. My upcoming class this January will focus on these concepts giving students a sort of template for how to set their own cadence, how to identify their own weaknesses and how to work more effectively that can help them grow and and not sit stagnant in their art. To learn more about this class and other classes that I will be teaching please visit my teaching page on my website.


Painting with Momentum is a class I will be teaching this fall. It was created to help students find a rhythm in learning to paint through quick studies and sketches. Building skills through mass and repetition can from a solid foundation in painting and assist in creating a thoughtful painting practice that accelerates the learning process. To learn more about this class go to the teaching section on my website or click here!

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Gypsy James
Gypsy James
Nov 23, 2021

I absolutely love your use of color and shadow in your work. The roses look so real and I am impressed with the depth of your art. Your paintings seem to tell a story whole unto themselves. Looking forward to seeing more of your work. Blessings

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