Paint Yourself Happy!!

By: Sandy Booth

Sometimes I go to the studio to work on something specific. And sometimes I struggle with finding inspiration or purpose for making art.

Last week I found myself really struggling to create anything that satisfied me. I put acrylic paint on paper, I dripped ink on Yupo, I got out some collage materials and absolutely nothing was working! The colors were all wrong, my mind was scattered and I was just not connecting to anything.

So when I get frustrated I sometimes give myself a little pep talk. I told myself that I needed to paint myself happy. Sounds crazy, I know, but it works.

So, I looked through my paints and just randomly picked some of my favorite colors. I grabbed a gesso board and a pencil. I drew some big sweeping shapes, just to feel the space on the board. From those shapes I decided to choose the colors that seemed best for each space. Pretty soon I was in my happy place! I played with color and shape with no preconceived expectations. I just painted. It was heaven.

As you see the resulting piece is bright and cheerful with a balance of small details in the white highlights.

As in art, so is life. When you’re having a bad day - just paint yourself happy!!


Taking Care of Business!!

By Susan Stubbins

July 5th Art Walk was so much fun at The Art Loft. Kristi Somers was there with her ceramics. Her beautiful pottery will be on display until the end of the month.  We are open weekday afternoons. (I was able to get some early Christmas shopping done).

We are also here until 6:30 on Wednesday to support the Farmers Market held on 4th Street, also a good time shop and visit.

I want to thank Mr. Joe who brought two added guitarist and a following of people to hear great music.

August First Friday will be along the river for the 11th annual Y-Bridge Arts Festival. It is hard for me to believe it has been 11 years.

I’m working on the awards again this year. RoseMary Ludt has helped as co-chair, Becky Joseph and Nikki Slack have also pitched in. Anne Cornell, The Artistic Director of the Pomerene Center for the Arts in Coshocton, is our judge.

Friday night August 2, awards include:

The Best of Show: sponsored by Muskingum County Community Foundation.

First Place: Sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Ann Parker.

Second Place: Sponsored by Mike Nelson Frames and Flames.

Third Place: Sponsor ArtCoz, The Artist Colony of Zanesville.

Thee Honorable Mentions Sponsored by ArtCoz.

Saturday the People’s Choice Sponsored by Zanesville Pottery and Carol Castor in memory of Carol Spragg and the Linda Regula Community Artist Award sponsored by ArtCoz will be announced.

I won’t have a booth this year but will definitely be around the Welcome Tent on Friday.

The Zanesville Museum of Art has an amazing lineup of art activities for children.

Hope to see you at the a Festival. You can get all of the info HERE

The Art of Collaboration By Susan Nash

I was recently approached by fellow artist Cathy White to collaborate on a piece of artwork. We discovered that we both love and admire Frieda Kahlo, so that would be the topic.  She sent me a photo of what she would be working from…an old photo of Frieda.


I said, “Sure!” We discussed a few rules and she got started. Cathy painted a lovely image of Frieda on canvas in beautiful sepia tones and delivered it to me. 


I decided that I would add color and flowers, buttons, beads and hand stitching and make her into an icon-type figure. 


I thought it might be fun to share some “Steps for Collaboration” with all of you, should you decide to jump into the game.
  1. Decide on a project

  2. Talk about rules, or guidelines. Agree on what to do with the piece after it is complete. Perhaps, agree ahead of time who will keep it, or will you sell it, and decide on a price.   So, Cathy and I agreed that, “anything goes”. If we sold the piece we would split the money evenly….you get the idea? The point here is that it is important to not have an attachment to your work, or a vision for its outcome, which leads to the next step:

  3. Trust the process/give up control.  Be willing to “allow”. Be open to possibility. Giving up control won’t work unless you believe in the talent and vision of the artist you are co-creating with. It gave me the freedom and confidence to experiment and play.

  4. Embrace surprise…..again, if you don’t have control and let go of a vision for the piece, you will probably be delighted with the results. Embrace it.

  5. Most importantly: HAVE FUN! It may wind up not being an amazing work of art, but look at what you learned and felt along the way. 

Making art can be lonely, but collaborating with another artist is not only fun, but forces you to push yourself creatively…maybe even helping you to get out of a rut. Try it and HAVE FUN!


Cool Tools

By: Sandy Booth

As a mixed media artist I utilize some unusual tools in my work. I am always looking at interesting shapes, unusual textures and unexpected color combinations to create with. Anything I can do to keep things different and interesting is where I want to be.

Some of the tools I love to use are everyday items used in unintended ways. 

~ A jar lid covered in wet paint can be a great stamp.

~ Plastic wrap placed over wet paint creates interesting texture.

~ Make-up sponges are good for smudging paint around.

~ Q-Tips dipped in alcohol remove unwanted ink smears.

~ Drywall spackle can be used to create an old plaster surface.

~ Crushed eggshells give a vintage patina to a surface.

~ BOOK PAGES! I can never get enough book pages. I use them on most of my collage work, but also in my intuitive work.

~ Old credit cards are paint scrapers and perfect for lines through paint or ink.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding ways to create beautiful, expressive art. You can make art from virtually anything!


Create something everyday.

Benefits of Getting Away

By Linda Graham

I was blessed with the opportunity over the last two weeks to travel with my husband, Bob.  We traveled to the state of Washington, a destination that we had never before experienced.

To leave behind responsibilities, routines, unplug and break up stress is so cleansing and liberating. The requirements of new sleeping and eating schedules were just two ways of changing our at home routines. Traveling to these new places was an exercise for our minds as we had to navigate unfamiliar roads, trails, and cities. And, exercise for our bodies was had through hiking forests, long beach walks, and "hoofing" it many miles in the city.

My words and pictures are inadequate to describe the diverse beauty that Washington has to offer.  Rain, sunshine, fog, and snow met us as we traveled the road up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  We were in awe at the forest trail that leads to Cape Flattery, the northern most point in the continental United States. This trail led us to awesome, rocky, views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The roaring sound of rushing water met us on our hike to Sol Duc Falls and Marymere Falls.   Moss covered trees on our Hall of Mosses hike through The Hoh Rainforest looked like mysterious characters from a movie that Disney could have created.  Eagles, huge boulders with evergreen trees inhabiting their tops, enormous bleached driftwood, and brilliantly colored sea life were along the Rialto and Ruby beaches. Fragrant lavender fields caused us a side trip to the city of Sequim. And lastly, our trip ended in Seattle, a city of diversity, great seafood, and for me a two day art class! Stay tuned for a showing of some art using the new technique I studied while in Seattle!!! 

With renewed minds and spirits we returned home.  And I leave you with a borrowed quote that nicely sums up my feelings, "No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his own, familiar pillow." - Lin Yutang 

Enjoy a few of my many pictures of our great northwestern adventure.

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Finding Inspiration at the Grocery Store

By Susan J Stubbins

My husband’s hobby is cooking. So on a recent trip to Columbus he packed an empty cooler in the back of the car and and we stopped at Whole Foods. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning with a few shoppers wandering the aisles.  What was different were a large number of shoppers with giant carts shopping for Amazon. They were taking pictures and referring to lists on their phones. At the exit they were sealing packages with labels to move to the purchases to the next destination. 
While my husband shopped for dinner I took some pictures of my own. 


Guest Artist Todd Arnold

We are thrilled to feature the amazing work of artist Todd Arnold for this upcoming June First Friday. Come to the studio June 7th from 5-8 to check out more of his artwork. Continue reading to learn a little bit more about Todd.

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Todd Arnold was born and raised in Zanesville, Ohio and currently resides in Granville, Ohio while teaching Visual Arts in the Dublin City School District. A graduate of Ohio University’s School of Art+Design, he mainly focuses on the human figure and objects around us. His paintings show how specific moments in time shape our experiences. 

Our experiences in life are what defines us and makes us who we are. Having artwork representing those deeply personal experiences hanging on your wall is a perfect way to have a constant reminder of those memories.

Todd varies his artwork between acrylic or oil paint on canvas or panel. You can follow his art on Instagram at HERE

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Inspiration, Affirmation and Art

By Susan Nash

I recently spent 3 days hiking the Appalachian Trail, in 4 different states with 10 other women, all members of The Forever Young Adventurers Facebook group. These ladies range in age from 62 to 71, and come from various backgrounds. Some are related to each other (sisters, even), some are classmates, neighbors, cancer survivors and some are brand new friends. But, no matter the variety, they came together as one big support group laughing, sharing, encouraging and watching out for each other, making sure no one was left behind.


Hiking the grueling Appalachian Trail is a big deal in and of itself, but doing it with a group of women was extremely affirming and inspirational. There was Debbie, whose hair was just barely growing back in after her chemo treatments…and MaryAnn, who deals daily with severe back pain and wore pain patches the entire hike. The inspiration I got from them was endless. The fact that we all tackled the challenges of the rocky, mountainous trail fearlessly as a group was affirming….WE DID IT!!


What does all this have to do with art, you ask? Art comes from life…as I said in an earlier post, we are inspired by….basically what we are inspired by….but more than that, we are inspired by what we love, or what makes our heart and soul sing. These ladies inspired me to keep hiking and climbing up and crawling down, even when I thought I was done. They made me laugh out loud. They are an affirmation that life is good and worth “going for the gusto”. Plus, did I mention how beautiful those rugged mountain trails were? Inspiration, affirmation and art all come together in that place where you are following the whispers of your heart. Do you agree? Be on the lookout for some newly inspired art.


Having Patience!

By Linda Graham

When I started creating art, I felt pressured to produce a piece that I felt was worthy for others to see or perhaps purchase. I wanted everyone to love it and I wanted the piece to be completed in one sitting!

Now I need to share with you that the pressure I felt was all self induced. Yep, have to do it right and do it right the first time!  Boy, did I have a lot to learn. Talk about "creating"!!!  Creating frustration was what I was creating and let me share… a frustrated artist is not a good thing! 

I have come a long way with the expectations that I have for myself. Sure I want my artwork to have a pleasing outcome, but guess what, it’s not going to happen every time I sit down at my art table. I've learned that I may not be satisfied with what I'm working on for a few days and even a few weeks. (And that's not fun!). I have learned that I need to walk away from some of my pieces for a while and return to them with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

Sometimes I just add a little to a piece of work a little at a time. One of my pieces has been evolving over about six months and I still don't feel that it is quite right. Do you know what? I may just paint over it and start anew. If you could see the backs of some of my framed alcohol ink pictures one would find where I had a "do over" experience. I can sum all of this up in one word...are you ready? PATIENCE!!!  Yep, something that I am learning more about and am practicing. 


The Creative Process – Rule Follower vs Rebel

By Sandy Booth

Sometimes the creative process can be frustrating. Have you ever put your heart and soul into a project with all of the best intentions and positive feelings for it to be exactly as you had in your minds eye, and then realize it wasn’t as simple as it seemed?

Most of my art is intuitive in style. Which simply means I start with a color scheme, theme or texture that I love and build layer upon layer of those elements on my substrate. As I work I notice patterns and themes begin to emerge. Each layer informs the next and eventually my painting comes to life. Intuitive art is a bit rebellious in that there are no rules or parameters. It is a process of evolving. Not only the art, but the artist.

Example of intuitive art.

Example of intuitive art.

Occasionally I like to plan out my work. I sketch an outline or work on a specific color palette. I study the rules of perspective and scale. I use a color wheel and follow the rules of design. This method stretches me a bit in that it takes a little more patience and time.

Example of planned art

Example of planned art

Both of these approaches can result in beautiful art. And both can be very frustrating getting there. But as my teachers have always stressed in any class I have taken, It’s the process that counts. Enjoy the process. Paint and create with abandon! It’s the fun of creating that is important, not the end result.

Create something every day.

Art Takes a Lifetime To Create

By~Susan Nash

A question I get asked often is:

"How long did it take you to make that?"

The simple answer would be that I like to work on several projects at the same time, each in a different stage, so I can bounce back and forth between them, as inspiration strikes. This makes it more difficult to put any sort of "timing" on it, and each project is different. So, in general, I say, I have been working off and on (a particular piece) for a month or so. 

 BUT, the truer, deeper answer is has taken a lifetime. Everything along my path... all of my collective experiences go into the making of a piece. There are all of the hours spent trying out a new technique... or the time in 8th grade home economics class that I ripped out and re-sewed a zipper into a dress 7 times...or the hours I spend in the woods and fields....every class I've ever taken....the music I listen to....the food I enjoy....I think you get the idea?

We are inspired by... well....what we are inspired by! We absorb it and spit it back out in the form of our creativity, with our own spin on it. The hours or minutes spent creating are what is necessary for something to come to fruition, but it's all that background history that gives it spark and that "Susan Nash" style.  So, indeed, a lifetime goes into the making of each you agree?

With my finished piece.

With my finished piece.

Middle stages of finishing

Middle stages of finishing




Finding Inspiration in Tara Funk Grim

By: Linda Graham

Can I just say that I LOVE bright colors! Because of that love, one of my favorite artists is Tara Funk Grim.  Tara is a mixed media and acrylic painting artist. I first saw Tara's artwork at an exhibit in Naples, Florida. I was immediately attracted to her intuitive, brightly colored paintings.  A year after my first encounter with Tara's work, I was fortunate enough to participate in a two day workshop that she led. 

Was I intimidated?  Sure was.  However, after a short period of time  I was able to lighten up and overcome my insecurities. I settled in to begin my mixed media creation.

I had the privilege and pleasure this past February to observe Tara's artwork at several locations while I was in Florida. Below is a picture of the two of us as we shared a moment at the Bonita Springs National Art Festival and one of my pictures inspired by Tara.  Thanks Tara for encouraging me and being an inspiration as I embrace my art adventure!


Lessons and Sketches

By: Susan J. Stubbins

It’s easy to learn something new when you hang out with Susan Nash. This very common plant is a teasel and is considered an invasive species. The plant reminds me of thistles in Scotland.


This little sketch was done wile sitting on the porch of a cabin at The Wilds with Sandy, Linda and Susan. Hints of red, yellow and green were starting to emerge in the trees. Birds were everywhere and a muskrat was swimming in the lake keeping us entertained.


Guest Artist Jeff Shackelford

We are excited to have this talented artist joining our studio for the Art Walk this coming Friday April 5th from 5-8. Continue reading to learn all about what makes Jeff so amazing.


Jeff Shackelford was born an artist. “I knew this was something I

wanted to do since I was five years old.” Many local business people

recognized his incredible talent early on in his life, providing him with many

opportunities growing up. A few of those opportunities where painting and

creating the bicentennial theme for John Adornetto of Maria Adornettos, a

wall mural in Secrest Auditorium and painting wall graphics around the

swimming pool at Burr Oak. In fact, there is still a painting of Jeff’s

(completed in the early 80’s) displayed on the outside wall of the Sunshine

Shop on Putnam Ave.

In 1986 he began his outdoor advertising career, working for Barnes

Advertising as their “sign painter”. He painted signs from 4’x8’ in size to

15’x85’. He painted many different designs for a variety of clients, including

a portrait of Emmet Smith for an advertisement for Larry Wade Ltd.

As technology progressed, the sign painting opportunities diminished,

leaving him without a creative outlet. It wasn’t until the summer of 2010

that he began to try his hand at oils. Most of Jeff’s early pieces were of

landscapes and seascapes, demonstrating his unique ability to capture

depth and lighting.

Today, he is drawn to scenes of New Orleans and other

streetscapes which allows him to try new techniques and styles.

Now retired from Barnes Advertising, he focuses his time on his four

passions… his wife Maryjane, golfing, painting and entertaining his six cats!

Sketchbook Journals Tips by Susan Nash

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I’ve been keeping some sort of journal for as long as I can remember. Right now I keep nature journals and sketchbook journals.

My sketchbook journal is a place where I can play fearlessly. I collect quotes and sayings; I cut out images I find inspirational and glue them within; I take notes, make lists and try out new techniques. It’s a safe place to capture new ideas and expand on them.  It goes everywhere with me, along with my zipper bag full of Sharpie markers.

One of the best things I’ve discovered about keeping sketchbook journals is that they contain a wealth of inspiration and ideas. Whenever I am feeling “stuck”, I pull out my old journals and become re-inspired.

I really like the Canson brand XL Mixed Media sketchbook because it is spiral bound and will lay flat. It has a hard cardboard cover that you can paint over and make it “your own”.  I also prefer mixed media or watercolor paper because they will hold up to my markers and paints.

Lately, I have been making my own journals using recycled cereal boxes and water color paper.

Think about your sketchbook as a dream incubator…a place where you can be as crazy and creative as you want to be or it can be a quiet contemplative retreat. Either way, I think you will find you won’t want to be without one!

Watch for an upcoming class on this very topic.

~Susan Nash~


Women Can Still Be Little Girls

Wise words from our Linda Graham!

Being a woman, we find ourselves having many tasks and responsibilities from working at home, working outside the home, raising children, nurturing our marriage...the list can be endless.  We are worn out and our minds can be frazzled.  

As I have aged, I now realize the importance of time for ourselves. Time to rest, to regroup and to just play.

 Play is defined as: to exercise or employ ones self in diversion, activity, or recreation.  Often times we may feel guilty if we take time to "play" because heaven knows there are many other things that need taken care of. I find myself experiencing this same mindset when I am creating art. So often I tell myself, "You need to be working on a piece to be framed and displayed for sale."  But, it can be so much fun to just sit down with no goal in mind and just experiment and play with various art tools and mediums. Often, I find it difficult to just "let go" or "play" and be free to just let the art happen on its own.

I really need to spend more time at play. I think we all do. So women, find the little girl inside of you and play. Give yourself permission to play!  That's right, PERMISSION TO PLAY! 


The Art Loft Goes on a Field Trip


Hi, Susan Stubbins blogging today.

The other artist’s at The Art Loft and myself have talked many times about places to go for workshops, retreats and classes. It finally occurred to us we have a perfect place for an artist retreat right here in Muskingum County, The Wilds.

Fate seemed to be on our side when dr. Jan Ramer, a VETERINARIAN and director of the Wilds happened to visit the Art Loft on a First Friday art walk and loved our ideas and offered to show us around.

Although it is just in the brainstorming phase, the artist retreat at the wilds is in the works!

Watch this space for more information!!


Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Sandy Booth has a super important life lesson in today’s blog that we all need to hear and face EVERY SINGLE DAY!

“I love to learn. I love to experiment with a variety of art mediums. Honestly, it scares me to go to classes and workshops and to learn new things! Doesn’t that sound crazy?!?! This fear of not being good enough or the idea of everyone is a better artist than me is paralyzing. For goodness sake, how can you grow if you don’t face your fears?

Learning watercolor painting has been a challenge for me. It was the first medium I experimented with when I began my art journey. Even though I loved the beautiful washes of color and the transparency of the paint I could never get results that satisfied me.

So when the Zanesville Museum of Art offered a beginner watercolor class this winter, I choked down my fear and signed up. The class was full of both first timers and experienced painters and I learned so much. I learned lots of watercolor tips and techniques, but I also learned once again, that fear is a liar. Fear keeps you from your full potential. Fear is what keeps you in your comfort zone.

So if fear is holding you back from something your heart is telling you to pursue, feel the fear and go do it anyway, you won’t regret it!”



March Art Walk

It is that time of the month again for the Zanesville Downtown First Friday Art Walk. Every month we try really hard to find special guests to come hang out in the studio and this month is no exception. When you come to our studio during the First Friday Art Walk we want you to get a lot of bang for you buck (or your time) and having other local businesses is always so exciting.

Without further ado let’s get in to our special guests for this month.


Misty Johnson


Misty Johnson is a Zanesville, Ohio ceramic artist who discovered her love of clay while pursuing her degree in art education at Kent State University. After graduating with a minor in studio art with a concentration in ceramics, Johnson served as the Potter-in-Residence at the National Ceramic Museum and Heritage Center, now the Clay Center of Ohio, where she gave tours, taught pottery wheel classes, and gave pottery wheel demonstrations both on-site and at local art festivals.

Johnson now creates her wheel thrown pottery out of her small home studio and continues to give pottery wheel demonstrations at local schools and libraries as part of her position as the education coordinator at the Zanesville Museum of Art. Johnson’s body of work consists of a wide variety of vases, bowls, and both decorative and functional dishes. She loves experimenting with new shapes, textures, and glaze combinations to make each piece a one-of-a-kind work of art.



Mister Joe Music

Made up of Roger Touvell and Paul Mainini, Mister Joe Music plays original music as well as covers and describes their music as

“A little folk, blues, jazz and rock.”

The Zanesville, Ohio based duo can often be found playing light, entertaining music at breweries, wineries and event spaces across the region. We are so excited to have them returning to the studio!


Urban Comforts eatery

Our neighbors Urban Comforts , described as a local eatery providing home cooked, upscale comfort food and custom made cocktails, will be putting out 4 different tastes(apps) of things they currently have on the menu.

  • Mini crab cakes topped with avocado, asiago and hearts of palm

  • Mini southern burger sliders with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes and apple wood smoked bacon

  • seared ahi tuna wontons with napa cabbage and Asian Zing

  • Crispy eggplant involtini stuffed with ricotta and herbs tipped with marinara

As you can see, we have some pretty amazing local people coming this Friday from 5-8. Grab your girlfriends, your significant other or whomever you can grab and come on out!!!

Inspiration from Florida

Maybe we should call this month of blogs our “artists on vacation” series.  We will all be back in the studio creating new pieces soon, but for now we get to take another peek in to what inspires one of our artists while traveling.  

Linda Graham has been in Florida recently and other then finding inspiration from other local artists she had this to say;


“Bright blue skies and sunshine help to stimulate my creative "juices”. It's fun to experience nature and connect what you see to words and art. Two of my fun inspirations are pictured here with my own captions.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!”


"Just stickin' my head in to say, Hello!"


“Be the odd one out and follow your own path."

“In addition to watching the antics of the birds in the neighborhood, I have enjoyed the beautiful flora that nature has provided. I find it inspiring to paint my interpretation of the flowers. Below are just a few the things I have been working on and one of the flowers that inspired them. Even if you are not on a vacation there are so many beautiful things everywhere.  I hope you find inspiration in your everyday life as well! “


There you have it, another one of our artists that is finding inspiration outside and all around them. Stay tuned to see what else we are creating in the studio next month.

Don’t forget our March First Friday Art Walk is coming up on March 1st from 5-8. There will be several amazing guests in house that you will not want to miss! We hope you will mark it down in your schedule now and see you next week.