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The Art of Thinking Differently

Please read my January 2023 Newsletter Here:

A frame says a lot about a piece of art. We form judgment immediately. An artwork encased in an ornate golden frame with its title on a little plaque underneath informs us that this is a museum-worthy piece, regardless of what’s on the canvas. There are hundreds of stories about unframed masterpieces by famous artists selling for pennies in thrift shops and yard sales. Or fakes being sold to museums when properly mounted and framed.

The right frame complements the aesthetic of our paintings in a way that adds glamour to our artwork. When displaying our artwork the frame matters - color, finish, craftsmanship, decorations, dings, scrapes, and scratches all speak volumes of how highly we regard our art.

Many competitions, galleries, and shows will even send artwork back if the frame has any imperfections. Since judges and viewers form opinions within the first three seconds of looking at your display, the right frame will help to hold their attention a few seconds longer.

I have a painting I purchased for $25 in a consignment shop that’s been hanging in a back bedroom in my house for about 8 years. I’ve always hated the shiny white frame which did nothing to complement the beautiful green leaves and flowers.

The other day I decided that this painting might look good over my bed if I changed the frame. It’s a huge artwork so rather than buy a new frame for it, I laid it on a table and repainted the frame myself.

When I finished I had a whole new appreciation for the art. The darker, textured frame makes the colors warmer and more inviting. I was curious and decided to investigate the artist (Amanda Richardson) and discovered that nothing in this work was painted, it was done by hand dying, cutting, and collaging tiny bits of silk into a highly detailed image of a garden.

Similar works by this artist sell for about $7,500!

Reframing this artwork made me think about what else I might be undervaluing because of its packaging. Where else might I have framed my thinking too early?

A frame around your thinking determines the behaviors you are permitted in any particular situation.

Reframing is changing your interpretation of a situation. So, if I believe that I can never become a “real” artist then I will give up early. I will not produce bad work and persevere throughout the learning process. Reframing my belief that I am unworthy into a belief that I am on the right path and I have work to do to grow gives me more energy to engage with this difficult challenge.

Byron Katie says “it is the mind’s job to be right” and as protection, we naturally focus on the negative, worst-case scenario. She created a series of four questions that she calls “The Work to help us reframe limiting thoughts and beliefs.

The questions are:

  1. Is it true?

  2. Can you absolutely know it's true?

  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?

  4. Who would you be without the thought?

To regularly practice reframing takes a concerted effort, but one that allows for tremendous rewards. As you consider the way you feel when you believe your thoughts notice how your inner perspective and emotions change as you reframe them.

When we reframe the way we think…it can change the course of our lives.

A frame is a window that does not actually show the outside world. Anything you see through your frame is actually a reflection of what is going on within you.

Seeing yourself as a victim in a world too damaged, too hopeless, too poor, etc. can be reframed by reversing the thought from the problem to the benefit or goal you seek.

My teacher keeps correcting me, so I must be a lousy student’ can become ‘Wow, great! she probably sees a lot of good things in me because she gives me so much attention!’

“Why is this happening to me” can be reframed as “What is this circumstance here to teach me?” As we shift our thinking about each situation, notice the change in emotional tone and the meaning that we give to our life circumstances.

When my kids were small I was advised to reframe my requests of them from the negative to the positive. “Don’t spill” lands differently than “please carry this carefully”. It took a really long time before this shift in thinking felt natural. By pausing to reflect on the behavior I hoped to elicit from my children and my students, I found there were many times it was actually better to say nothing at all. Imagine how empowered you might have felt being told to “color slowly and carefully”, versus the resentment “don’t color outside the lines” engenders.

You can reframe your artist’s block from stuckness into an opportunity for more research, reflection, and learning. The downtime can become a waypoint for gathering energy and renewing focus before resuming your progress toward your ultimate goals.

By making the ordinary seem absurd humor can be used to reframe your feelings and your perspective on your progress. Consider the classic campaign reframe by the then 72-year-old Ronald Reagan “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

Or the Japanese art of Kintsugi which reframes broken cups and pots into something even more precious and valuable. Each crack in a broken cup is mended with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy, Kintsugi reframes breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Having permission to re-frame my thinking at any time is enlivening to me and a common artistic practice. I often look at my framed artwork and ask myself “what if…” What if I made the background darker? What if I added another tree? The fact that my art is framed and hanging on the wall does not mean I am done reframing my thinking. This is usually followed by taking my art out of the frame, again and again, to re-work it when I know what to do next.

I had a teacher who once told me to never throw out my old artwork. He said it was important to keep it so I can become aware of how much I’ve learned since I created it. What seemed impossible to see a few years ago is obvious when I look back at my artwork now.

As we step into a fresh new year, pause to think about your framing.

Look at your artwork and notice if you are displaying it to its full advantage.

Reflect on your thoughts and beliefs. Consider if any of them might benefit from examination using Byron Katie’s four questions.

As 2023 unfolds look for opportunities to reframe your experiences from “why me?” to “what is this here to teach me?” and “how can I change my thinking about this?”.

Reframing is not a denial that the challenge we have been dealt is a difficult one. Even though our circumstances may be fraught with hardship, we can learn to trust the cycles of life.

Our life comes in cycles of planting the seeds of expansion, growing them, harvesting them, followed by dissatisfaction/destruction/decay to ready the soil for new seeds, and then resting before the start of the next expansion cycle.

Through an understanding and trust of this transformative process, we can reframe periods of decline, whether they last for minutes or months, into preparation for new periods of vibrancy.

Reframing our lives in this way, we are less likely to be possessed by ongoing moods of pessimism, hopelessness, or resentment. Our prevailing attitude becomes one that is more optimistic and excited about what is coming next.

My wish for you in this coming year is that you flourish and grow in exciting new ways. That joy becomes your constant companion.

I am always here to help in reframing your beliefs about your artistic talents and abilities. I am honored to assist you in finding more satisfaction, more fun, and more connection through your art.

I would very much appreciate your help in locating venues to host my new three-day watercolor workshop "Painting Joy".

Please reach out to me, I welcome the opportunity for connection, collaboration, and conversation.

With Light and Delight,


Do you think it's better to give than receive?

“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.” -Rumi

Read my December Newsletter Here:

December is the month for giving and receiving gifts. I hope you have the opportunity to give and receive many gifts this holiday season.

Merriam Websters says "a gift is the unconditional bestowal of something of value for no payment. It is also a talent, endowment, aptitude, or inclination".

At birth, you were gifted with certain abilities and strengths that are yours alone. Have you considered your gifts recently? Could you make a list of them?

Do you experience synesthesia around color or music? Does your body move through space with grace and ease? Do faces light up when you walk into a room? Are you someone who can repurpose castoffs into an enviable style? Are you tuned into the thoughts and feelings of others? Can you make a meal from just 4 ingredients? Or a sickly plant bloom?

Accepting Your Gifts:

When I think of my friends and family their gifts are apparent to me - Many of them have a gift for making abundant gardens and welcoming homes. My niece’s gift for poetry astounds me, my mom effortlessly models elegance for me, my sister keeps her head and sense of humor in the midst of chaos and makes over-the-top florals and ruffles enticing, or there’s my dad and brother who are legendary for fixing broken stuff and turning blocks of wood and nails into beautiful and useful things.

My own gifts seem to be more elusive, at least to me. I have a gift for creating community and a gift for planning, drawing figures comes easily to me, I can explain difficult concepts in a way that’s easy for my students to understand and I think I have a gift for being a mom. Perhaps because my gifts are things that are easy for me I do not value them as much as the skills I worked so hard to develop.

What are your special gifts? What have you received through grace alone? Were you given beautiful eyes? A strong and healthy body? A sense of rhythm? A connection with animals?

Your unique gifts were given to you with love from your creator. You have the freedom to choose whether to accept the gifts or refuse them.

Do you judge your gifts and find them unworthy? Do you hold them back and suppress them because others judged them unworthy in your past? Did you discard them or give your power to someone else? Are you afraid of the power of your gifts? Do you fear becoming the person your gifts are asking you to be?

The Cycle of Increase:

Giving and receiving are different aspects of the same vibrational flow of the energy of abundance.

Giving is only one-half of the law of increase. Receiving is the other half. Giving opens the way for more receiving.

Receiving well blesses the giver. Receiving without gratitude takes away the pleasure of the giver. When you refuse a gift you block the flow of abundance in your life and in the life of the giver.

As a recovering people-pleaser, I am much more comfortable giving than receiving.

I really don’t like receiving gifts and often feel there is a hidden transaction fee, a judgment, or that nothing is really “free”. I have trouble asking for help when I need it and I have the belief that I should never be a burden to others.

When I offer my help to others I am being genuine and I truly want others to take me up on my offers. My gifts to others are carefully selected and prepared love offerings that demonstrate my ability to recognize and acknowledge the unique individuality of my family and friends.

When people turn down my offerings and my help, it activates my feelings of unworthiness - maybe they don’t trust me, I’m not good enough, brushed off.

When I say “no thanks” to others who are offering to help me, perhaps I sending these same messages to them without even realizing it!

Giving Well:

Giving and Receiving have so much context from my childhood; they probably do for you too. My self-worth is wrapped up in the story of what I earned, what I deserve, and what it's OK to ask for.

Shifting my mindset from worrying about burdening others to creating the wonderful flow of giving and receiving, you and I can choose to allow others to care for us, to “have our backs,” and we can honor others by trusting them to help us out.

If every gift is an act of love giving to someone is passing your love to them. The more I give to those I love, the more love I feel in my heart.

On days when I am not feeling loving towards others, giving more abundantly to them opens my heart again. These are my tenets for healthy giving:

  • A gift is the unconditional bestowal of something of value for no payment.

  • It must be given from a place of love.

  • It must be given without expecting anything in return.

  • A gift with strings attached is not a gift. It is a power transaction.

Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Giving and Receiving are the two loops of the infinity symbol. They are Yin and Yang. The act of giving cannot be complete with its receiving opposite.

There has to be a balancing flow of Giving and Receiving. Energy flows out when we give freely and energy flows into our lives as we receive gratefully. Giving and receiving keeps the abundance vibration of the universe circulating throughout our lives.

If every gift is love, then gratefully receiving that gift is accepting the offering of love.

Courage is needed to break through old mindsets and open yourself up enough to let that love pour freely into you.

Receiving Well:

When you give to someone and they fully receive your gift, both of you are validated and blessed.

However, when you give to someone who is unable or unwilling to receive your gift then a debt is created. If the other person cannot receive with gratitude or happiness and instead feels powerless or guilty anger and resentment will build.

The giver feels bad because his/her love has grown and is not being reciprocated. In this case, giving more only makes things worse because the circle is closed.

The same with those who give to you only to entice you into doing something you would not do otherwise. True giving is always based on love. If someone is giving with strings attached, they are engaging in a power transaction, not a gift - be aware of the distinction.

When we learn to receive and enter the cycle of increase, giving takes on a whole new meaning... Receiving becomes Giving... and Giving becomes Receiving.

Develop your Receiving muscles and loosen the grip of old habits and vulnerabilities with these practices.

  1. Accept all good things that are offered to you with gratitude. If someone wants to give you a gift, recognition, or pay the bill in a restaurant do not decline.

  2. If you receive something you don’t like or don’t need, pass it on to someone else who will use or enjoy it. Do not block the flow in the giver’s life.

  3. Accept sincere compliments - let the giver do his/her part... and acknowledge the part of yourself receiving the compliment.

  4. Practice Gratitude - Count your blessings every day – make it a daily routine and feel the energy of receiving your blessings.

  5. Allow yourself to be YOU - accept yourself with all the strengths and weaknesses you may have. No need to pretend to be perfect, showing only your 'greatness' – be authentic.

  6. Stop complaining – When we complain we are saying we’re not happy with what we are receiving. We are not grateful and don't appreciate the given.

Giving Gifts:

Whatever it is you wish to have more of in your life, causing another to have it first will bring it to you in abundance.

Giving is a circulation of increase and not just an outflow, whatever you give you will receive enough to allow yourself to grow and give even more. If you allow it, what you receive will come back to you in unexpected and unimagined ways.

Give to people who inspire you, help you, nourish you, and love you. The abundance loop expands when you give to those people and things that bring you the most joy.

That way your gift can be combined and transformed into something even better and given away again.

Nature's Gifts:

We are stewards of the gifts of our planet and have a responsibility to keep her resources circulating endlessly. Every day our earth provides us with the gift of food and abundance for our shelter and beauty for our enjoyment, air to breathe, and companionship only a short arm’s length away. Like Rumi’s sun, life is ever-giving of itself, we must receive, utilize and extend her gifts.

Have You Received Your Gifts?

Circling back to the gifts you were given at birth - have you received your gifts?

Are you grateful for your beautiful eyes, your elegant hands, your infectious laugh, and your ability to connect with others? Do you appreciate and accept even the uncomfortable aspects of your personality?

Have you fully acknowledged how special and unique you really are? Or, are you closing yourself off from the flow of joy and abundance by limiting or denying your special gifts and talents?

I can help you to receive, claim and develop your artistic gifts. Please reach out to me if you'd like to explore your artistic talents and inclinations in more depth. I welcome the conversation. I’m always looking for new connections and collaborations.

With Light and Delight,


Are you a copycat?

November is a month to celebrate being YOUnique. Enjoy my newsletter and ask yourself how your art can dig deeper into your own truth and personal expression. Follow the link below for the newsletter : -)

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