Tag Archives: artist

2015 – A New Year, New Outlook and New Works


"The Harvest" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“The Harvest” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

It’s been a long couple of years battling breast cancer, but I’m now feeling like I’m finally back on the horse. 2015 is looking like a brand new horizon and to ring in the new year, I’ve been back in the studio almost working full time. It’s a great feeling to finally have some control back in my arm and painting hand, and I have more paintings in my head than I could possibly paint in four lifetimes. I suppose that is what I love so much about  painting – it never gets old for me, and I’m always stretching, learning something new and finding that daily meditative space that only the canvas can offer.

I wish for you, a wonderful and fresh new outlook for this upcoming year, filled with beautiful artwork, good health, and happy days. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop now.

"Metamorphosis" ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36"x48"

“Metamorphosis” ©2015 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 36″x48″

Standing up for what you believe in.

Donna Kennedy Glans

Donna Kennedy Glans

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, 2014 was a lucky day for Alberta – mostly for the Calgary-Varsity constituents who have Donna Kennedy-Glans, as their MLA. Donna has resigned her position as Assoc. Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy and her membership in the PC Caucus. Here is her statement:

“It is with great regret but also great optimism and hope that I announce that I am resigning my position as Associate Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy and my membership in the PC Caucus today.

I moved to Calgary 30 years ago and I’ve been blessed to live in this incredible province ever since. My husband and I raised three sons here, I was a senior manager in large oil and gas companies, and helped found a nonprofit that brings hope to women, girls, and youth in Alberta and around the world.

As a lawyer, I have long been fascinated with ethical behaviour in large organizations, including co-authoring a book on how companies can act with integrity. So when it came time to enter public life, I was excited about the opportunities this afforded to put my passions into practice in another critically important Alberta institution, the Alberta Progressive Conservative party.

I’ve always been an active supporter of the Progressive Conservative party as its core values represented my own desire for a balance between careful management of our finances with strong support for the next generation and social nets for our most at risk. In 2012, I was very happy to carry the PC party’s banner to win back Calgary Varsity. I was excited about the dream of government in Alberta we talked about in that election including:
· A government unafraid to make the difficult decisions that we need to make today to ensure long term prosperity for our children;
· A more transparent and more open government willing to hear all voices; and
· A government free of entitlement.
Since being elected, however, and particularly since joining Cabinet, I am increasingly convinced that elements of this 43-year old government are simply unable to make the changes needed to achieve that dream of a better Alberta.
So what happens now? I still believe in public service and in politics. I still believe in that dream. I’ll stay in my seat, sitting as an Independent, because, I believe, I can better serve my constituents this way.

It’s time to make politics in Alberta better.

Donna Kennedy-Glans
MLA, Calgary Varsity”

WOWSER! Now that’s leadership and a beautiful display of ethics in a politically charged poutine-mess! It’s a return to the idea of true democracy, and I believe that is something we should all celebrate with aplomb. Going against the current is never easy, but sometimes required. I sure wish I would hear something like this from every politician. I’ve not been much of a believer in the party system for some time, hoping that a true democratic system would someday emerge. Thank you, Donna….for standing up.

As artists, we are free to express ourselves in most countries in the world. Never take for granted, this ability to do so. It is integral to the well-being of our society. The next time you take up a brush, an instrument, a pen… be reminded of how you can cross over and step boldly into the fray. It’s not just a painting, a song….a book or story. It’s the way to be, it’s the foretelling of how it is…how the future could be. Show the world what you’ve got so everyone can benefit from your bravery, dear artist.

And Donna….thank you for being an artist.


Top 10 Ways To Grow As An Artist

Work In Progress - Haida Gwaii

“The Portal :: Work In Progress – Gwaii Haanas Collection” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 72″x96″.

1. Ignore Every Single “Non-Artist” Authority.

Whether or not it’s your best gallery owner, jurors, grant authorities, your greatest collector, your mother, your spouse or your kids. Ultimately, you need to ignore what they say. Unless they are artists – ignore their opinion on the work. Good…or bad.

If they’re not creating, they’re not in the same zone you are regarding your growth as an artist. Be pure in your mission to create. You are the expert on you and you alone.

2. Eyes On The Prize :: Surround Yourself with Talent Better Than Your Own.

Take stock of your skills. With a critical eye, review where you are weak. Take workshops, study and apprentice with artists who are better than you are. Read art books, watch demo videos. Learn from them. If you enjoy an artist’s vision – tell them. Open up a dialogue and engage! If you’re a realist – check out American Painting Video Magazine which profiles some of the best contemporary realists.

3. Be Authentic and Transparent.

Put it all out there with confidence. If you don’t know something, admit it. If you do – share it. This requires a lot of bravery. Go for it. No one ever grew from being fearful. Let it go. You’ll still be standing tomorrow.

4. Create A Habit To Create.

Make stuff. Lots of it. If it’s not finished, who cares. Just make it. Surround yourself with a lot of work in progress. Have a dozen pieces on the go at once and commit to paint every day for 6-8 week periods or longer. Build it up until you are creating something every day.

5. Boot “Failure” and “Success” OFF the Island.

Ignore them. There is no place for failure or success in the life of the creative. In fact, there’s little space for quantitative measurement of either. There is only the act of creation – the process. Draw from everything you know, let it all go and make something new…without thinking. Don’t judge it – either way. There is no “good” or “bad”. There is just the thing you make.

6. Focus On The Process – Never The Outcome.

Enjoy every moment process in the creation of your work. From the second you wake and pour a coffee to head to the studio, you are creating. Consider that. Enjoy each step – don’t rush until you’re ready to go to the next step. Consider every action of “make” a beautiful, complete moment of creation in itself. Don’t think about the outcome. Just do.

7. Never Apologize.

Be pure in every statement of your work, from the action of the brushstroke to the articulation of the piece. Never “excuse”. If you are honest in your art-making in each step, you’ll learn, create and grow beyond your wildest dreams.

8. Get The Heck Out of Dodge!

Seriously – get out of town! Take a trip far away from your hometown and studio. Visit museums, art galleries and libraries. Find a culture completely different from your own and be curious. Ask questions – learn and challenge your own beliefs. Pick something so different from your “regular beat” that it scares you.

9. Share. Share. Share.

Share everything you know  – no matter what the topic – with everyone who will listen. You’ll learn, in return. Share your failures. Share surprise, success, your birthday, your family…share it all. It’s in sharing our stories, we discover our commonalities and our differences. This is the stuff “art” is made from!

10. Define Your Space. Raise Your Capital.

That means physical, emotional, social, psychological and financial space that will allow you to do 3 1-9. Set yourself up for success by having enough capital to totally commit yourself to your work in all these areas. If you’re looking for a helper, check out Alyson B. Stanfield. Lots of incredible art business advice and workshops here! Need help with your blog? Contact the amazing Kim Bruce. She just saved this blogpost for me!


Got any further ideas or resources? Remember #9 – Share, share share!


Folks Who Inspire:

Jerry Fresia – Authentic Impressionism
Alyson B. Stanfield – Artbizcoach.com
Kim Bruce – Artbiz.ca
Scott Waddell
Grand Central Academy
Jacob Collins
Bo Bartlett


9 Urban Legends About Artists

"No ReZervations Required" - Under the Three Sisters ©2012 Janice Tanton. Installation.

"No ReZervations Required" - Under the Three Sisters ©2012 Janice Tanton. Installation.

We are all flakey.

We are all messy.

We can’t keep books.

We are bad at business.

We are never on time.

We are unorganized.

We are happy about donating our artwork for “exposure”.

We expect grants for our projects.

We need galleries, managers, social media, and publishers.


I’m a myth-buster. Are you?

Poor Artist….Rich Artist….Which one are you?

Bad things happen to good (and bad) people all the time. Things they don’t ask for….things they don’t deserve. Sometimes they are horrible, unspeakable and unthinkable things.

Ophelia - by Millais

"Ophelia" by Millais

If this sounds like you….the way I see it?… you’ve got a few choices on how you deal:

  1. HELL: Throw yourself a hell of a pity party for one.
  2. PURGATORY: Do nothing. Make like Hamlet & watch your loved ones float down the river like Ophelia. (almost the equivalent of The Pity Party but ultimately involving others.)
  3. HEAVEN: Count your blessings, be grateful and celebrate the good things…like being an artist.

Rich, Richer, Richest

If I had a buck for every time I heard an artist whine and complain about something, I’d be a rich woman…AND…I’d still be an artist, but richer.

If I had a buck for every time I heard an artist say something inspirational, create something that moved me or made me think, I’d be a richer woman…AND…I’d still be an artist, but really, really rich.

I am an Artist….with a capital “A”.

I am rich…but it doesn’t have a damned thing to do with money.


Oh…that’s RICH!

Midas and Bacchus - Nicholas Poussin

"Midas and Bacchus" - Nicholas Poussin



10 Stupid Ways & 10 Meaningful Ways To Measure Success As An Artist

10 Stupid Ways To Measure Success As An Artist

Big Fish, Small Bowl - How To Measure Success

1) The number of paintings we completed.

2) The dollar amount or number of grants we received.

3) The number of galleries that represent or exhibit our work.

4) The number of people who visited our website or blog.

5) The number of Twitter followers we have.

6) The number of Facebook “likes” or “friends” we have.

7) The dollar figure in sales we made over the year.

8) The total number of people that visited our exhibition or that showed up for an opening.

9) The number of collectors we have added to our database.

10) The number of speaking engagements and artist’s talks we give.

11) Our Klout score.

12) The bottom line profit.

13) The number of students you teach.

I’d count everything above as  stupid things that many use to gauge success and mark movement in an upward trend, year over year. I have to admit, it was weird last night (New Year’s Eve) to see an email come out from WordPress as to the stats for this blog, which started in February 2011. Even weirder was an email that came out not five minutes after that from several artist friends who published their stats on a blogpost, counting them like badges of honour. Really? Weird.

Don’t get me wrong – I know my stats, and they’re quite impressive. I started thinking about it, wondering if those stats REALLY mattered to me in a success framework, and if I was the weird one…..The answer on the stats is HELL NO. And on the weird thing? … I’m quite comfortable in my weirdness.

Taking stock at the end of a year, I hearken back to what matters to me as a Full Time Human Being. Here are my metrics for measuring success. I mark myself on a scale of 1-10 for each item.

10 Meaningful Ways To Measure Success for Artists


Janice Tanton's Red Coffee Cup

My lovin' cup 'o' java.

1) Am I in good physical health and did I take care of myself?

2) Am I in good mental health and did I take care of myself?

2) Are those I love dearly in good health, and did I do everything I could to take care of them?

3) Do we have enough money to pay for the things that we need, but not necessarily want?

4) Did I pass along what I know to others, freely and fairly?

5) Did I learn something new?

6) Did I take sufficient time to create works that are meaningful to me?

7) Did I take a step outside of my comfort zone each day and risk failure?

8) Did I speak up and defend my values without fear?

9) Did I lift someone’s heart by the work that I did, and make a meaningful change in their life?

10) Did I love myself enough to do the best in all the above?


(I suppose I’d really feel successful if I could figure out how to get rid of those smiley faces on the #8’s for WordPress, and how to make this font smaller in Pagelines. I’ll get back to you on that.)


The Bean Counter

After one bean...there's just another bean...

YOU are the only one who can answer what success means for you. I’d challenge you to think about that and design your own yearly success measurement…and then celebrate the heck out of it!

For 2011, I’ll share this metric with you. I gave myself a 78/100 with some serious room for improvement in several of the categories.

And if you want to know what the metrics would be for the first list? Honestly….I care so little about them, that I’d have to go and look them all up….and I’d much rather be with my family or in my studio.

Cheers and the best of what you want in your success for 2012.


Here are some excellent resources and posts on the topic of artist success:

5 Common Traits of Successful Artists – Lori McNee

12 Artist Resolutions to Steal for 2012 – Alyson Stanfield


5 Good Reasons To Quit Your Day Job and Be A Full Time Artist

celebration fireworksSolstice 2011 – HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!! One year in the studio!


One year ago, December 21st, 2010 marked the end of my work in an office and a return to the studio after a 10 year hiatus from full time studio work.


One year later, do I have any regrets? Hell no…except maybe for what’s on my Hell List. Metaphorically, moving out of the dark and into the light with the change of seasons has made a huge difference to our family. There is a right time to make the move to studio work, and that time is always….NOW! Quit making excuses and BE an artist! Get out of that job, away from that oppressing boss of yours and get your fanny in gear.

Of course I had months of angst, deciding to make the move from a secure, bill-paying position at a wonderful arts institution where I was with people that I loved, respected and considered family. Of course I had lots of questions about whether I was making the right decision….was I a good enough artist? Did I have the right stuff to make the leap and pour my heart and soul into my work once again? Did I have the energy to do it? Would it be good for the family? Would I be thrown out on the street, a starving artist?

In the end, the right answer was, it was good for me….and that was really all that mattered.

Do I have any regrets?

Only one….that I left the studio 10 years ago in the first place.

"Undercurrents" by Janice Tanton. ©2011 Oil painting on belgian linen. 40x72.

"Undercurrents" ©2011 Janice Tanton. Oil on linen. 40x72.


5 Good Reasons To Quit Your Day Job and Be a Full Time Artist

1) You will be creating. Human beings create. Be who you are – a human being.

2) You get to use your brain. You show others how to use theirs.

3) You connect dots for human beings. You make things visible that are otherwise unseen or unmentionable. You make a difference, change the way people see things, and say things that need to be said in unique and profound ways. It’s the ultimate form of free speech and expression.

4) You get up when you want, work when you want, play when you want and create what you want.

5) You can make a difference, change the way people see things, and say things that need to be said, sometimes in unique and interesting ways.


Here’s another great post by Fiona Mackrell and some other great reasons for being an artist!

Boo Yah…what she said!!!

The Artist’s Kitchen : 5 Top Priorities for Life’s Studio

Housework RULES

I'm thinking...housework DOES rule, especially where home-made meals come in.

Time is the most valuable commodity that we possess as human beings. As such, it’s so important to be efficient and maximize that time so that we have time for (yes, in order of importance) :

1) Health

2) Family

3) Relationships

4) Ourselves

5) Art

These are what I consider to be my most important priorities, and when making choices and decisions, these are the filters that I use to determine what stays or gos in my day to day life. Folks often ask me how I manage to do so much, and I answer – it’s because I learned it from my mother, and I try to follow her example.

One of the most important things I learned is to prepare traditional, old-fashioned meals from scratch as often as I can, and to teach my kids how to do the same.

Swanson TV dinnerIn the late sixties and seventies, my mom was one of those rare women who worked and had a family. With three children, she attended every school thingy we had, baked for the bake sale, worked as a nurse and managed to not only make delicious home-cooked meals each night for us, but have lunch ready too! (Those were the olden days when folks had enough foresight to build schools close enough to communities that kids could walk to, and go home for lunch each day. Also the old days when the only choice for pre-packaged meals were the novelty “Swanson TV Dinners” – a few years before “Tang” and the walk on the moon.) BTW…I miss my Mom. She lives 2000 miles away and we don’t get to spend enough time together. That sucks.

When I think about it, some of the best life-learnings I ever had, came from walking back and forth to school with friends and rival enemies four times a day. Lunch was just the catalyst, and dinner was the gathering spot at the end of the day. Everyone felt sorry for the kids that had to eat lunch at the school out of a brown bag or their father’s hand-me-down metal lunchpail.

The Life Studio

Buffy and Jody - A Family Affair

A Family Affair

I try to make the kitchen a studio that acts as that same life catalyst forty years later for my family and my work. Not only do meals set the tone for the day, but they get all that “stuff” done and out of the way so that I can create, which literally feeds the cycle all over again. It’s healthier. They usually involve the family helping out – choosing, making, prepping, etc. They carve out some time together not only in the making, but in the appreciation, the “sit down”, the relationship building and the love that underpins it all.

I have a few favourite recipes that are a hit, and I’d like to share them with you in hopes that your kitchen can become an artful extension of your Life Studio.


Ham & Egg Pie

Ham and Egg Pie

Homemade Ham and Egg Pie

Before there was quiche….there was Ham & Egg Pie.
Efficiency hint: I often get a larger ham so we have leftovers to make Ham & Egg Pie. Much tastier than just grinding up store-bought cooked ham.

One double crust pie crust
3 cups of ground ham
1 onion (ground with ham)
6 eggs (beaten)
3/4 cup whole milk
5 thinly sliced new potatoes
Salt and pepper
Perfect Pie Crust:
Follow the recipe on Crisco vegetable oil package, but substitute one tablespoon of cold vinegar for the ice cold water. (If you can’t get Crisco in your area, let me know. I’ll post the pastry recipe here.)


1) Make the pastry, roll out and put half of the recipe in the bottom of the pie plate.

pie pastry and rolling pin






2) Grind the ham and onion together. Place in the pie plate.
ground ham and onion





3) Beat the eggs and milk together. Pour half of the mixture over the ham & onion.

Ham and egg pie mixture






4) Arrange the sliced potatoes over top of the ham & onion mixture.

potatoes on ham and egg pie






5) Pour the remainder of the egg mixture over the potatoes.

6) Salt and pepper the top of the potatoes.

7) Top the potatoes with the second pie crust. Poke the pie crust with a knife to vent.

uncooked pie






8) Bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. Turn down oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes. Test with a knife to see if the potatoes are done…and it’s done!

ham and egg pie on a plate

mmmm…..Slice and serve. Worchestershire sauce or home made chili sauce make an excellent accompaniment, with asparagus or broccoli.




4 Kind Steps To Green Your Packaging When Shipping Your Artwork

Pile of Old Clothes AKA Art Packaging

Green it! Recycle it! Use it!

1) Use old, discarded clothes instead of bubble-wrap or styrofoam peanuts, etc. (ICK for the environment either way you look at it.)

2) If you don’t have any, go to your local Thrift Store and get a box. Sometimes, there are even old blankets or comforters people have discarded. Explain to them what you are doing (they may even give you a discount).

3) Create a small tag/note to include in the purchase to your collectors and explain to them what you have done and why.

4) Specifically ask your collectors to take your “recycled clothing packaging” to a Thrift Store near them, donate it and spread the word.


Simple. Effective.  Human.
….and kind on so many levels.