Artist’s Statement and Gallery


I paint because I love color and texture, I love mixing and making color and texture, and all the other media I’d tried before left me wanting.  You hear people say that quilters paint with fabric, or that stitchers paint with thread, but I personally never felt that I could make that happen.  And I do not have the patience for finishing work. Everything  I did – embroidery, knitting, crocheting, quilting — was limited by patterns, by rules, and by my own lack of adherence to those rules, or by my lack of skill, and as mentioned above, patience.  My cross-stitch never would have won a prize at the county fair, let’s just say, not once they saw the back of the work!

Paint.  A childhood love.  When I returned to painting at age 40, I felt all the remaining loose pieces and parts of me click into place.  The best part was that when after I’d spent a year playing with watercolors, focusing on loose florals and dreamy landscapes, I dipped a toe in acrylics.  I’ve never looked back.  At that point, I was really and truly home.  One of my early acrylic works, Channeling Claude, below, is a good illustration of my love of texture and layering.

channeling claude (blakesley)

Claude is one of eight 8” x 8” square canvases created during a weekend retreat with the Palouse Women Artists.  We displayed the paintings during Art Walk in Moscow, Idaho, in 2013.  This one was actually stolen from the restaurant where we were displaying, which at the time crushed me and made me mad, because I lost out on the $60 I was owed, but I’ve come to realize in time that having the piece stolen was a compliment.  It is of course possible that someone damaged it or something else happened.  But I like to think it’s out there with someone who loved it very much but didn’t have the money.

One of my favorite paintings is another early one, Standing Tall (2013), a 5” x 7” canvas board, done in my favorite color scheme of magenta, teal and yellow ochre.

standing tall (blakesley)

As I gained confidence, I began working on larger canvases and also discovered a name for what I was doing: abstract expressionism.

Ghost of a Chance (2015)


Slow Burn (2016)

slow burn

On the Fence (2014)

on the fence

I was hungry for something more.  Longing for something more.  Wanting to paint, wanting to teach, but not just teaching mixed media and crafty classes.  Wanting something more meaningful than paint-n-sip’s. Not willing to go back to school for both the required psychology and art degrees in order to pursue art therapy as a career.

When I found out about Intentional Creativity, I was intrigued, and I am grateful that I was part of the 2017 cohort.  Among the many things I learned and gained came the skills and confidence to branch out into bringing the face into my artwork.

I was definitely one of those “I can’t draw a face” people.  Early on in my art journey, I was taking classes with a couple of regional artists every chance I had, not just painting, but also drawing, charcoal, travel sketching, anything they taught.  I was obsessed with trying out every kind of pencil, brush, paper, marker to learn to draw and paint flowers, trees, plants, buildings, landscapes. While on a business trip, I used some free time to go to a Dick Blick store and among the treasures I found were a package of blank ATCs.  What on earth are Artist Trading Cards?  Having collected baseball cards back in the day, I was intrigued.  Back at the hotel that night, I googled and was amazed.  Getting involved with the ATC community was wonderful; I’ve learned so many mixed media techniques and met many people who have become life-long friends. But the reason I bring it up now is its connection to drawing faces.  I ended up in a card swap once where I didn’t realize that I would have to draw the themes chosen by the others in my group, and I found myself stuck with the task of creating a mermaid card.  I tried to do her face so many times, but it just looked awful.  I finally drew her from behind, giving her lush long hair and sparkly scales.  But no visible face.  It’s been years, but I should try to figure out who that went to and redo the card now, post Color of Woman training!

The experiences painting within the Intentional Creativity world also broadened my techniques.  Having been an exclusive heavy body paint user, making the switch to fluid acrylics was done with initial apprehension but the results have been amazing.  Learning new techniques, using new brushes, and embracing the glaze were all  crucial steps in my development as a painter, but the emergence of not only the faces but also the symbolism has been extremely meaningful to me as an artist.

Post-Color of Woman, I was drawn back to abstract expressionism and began exploring true intuitive painting, immersing myself into the works of Michele Cassou.  During that time, I created some of my most favorite paintings ever, on sheets of mixed media paper with tempera paint.

As life ebbs and flows, a temporary move that involved my easels going into storage lasted longer than anticipated.  During those few years, I returned to embroidery and learned to weave.  Now that I have room to paint, I find myself focusing on smaller pieces, mainly art journaling.  What I really love now is seeing the patterns and similarities emerge in my work, even as I explore different tools and techniques and imagine various mixed media approaches I may dive into.  Nevertheless, above all, art – all creativity — is life.


During the Color of Woman/Intentional Creativity teacher training, we paint a series of five paintings – Legend, Muse, Talisman, Alchemist (I did two of these, one through the course videos and one on-site at Terra Sophia), and Visionary.  Here are my ladies.


Blueberry Blackbird Studio  — original studio page

Paintings for Moscow ArtWalk, 2013

Abstract Expressionism, 2013

Abstract Expressionism, 2014

Abstract Expressionism, 2015

Be Square and 30-30-30 paintings, 2013-2016