#147 Wendy McWilliams: Intuitive Abstract Painter

Artist Wendy McWilliams creates one-of-a-kind abstract acrylic paintings that come from her intuition and emotion. She tells us how she was so determined to paint, no matter what her living circumstances. She now teaches classes in her home studio and is building a larger space so that in the future she can offer art retreats and invite other instructors to join her.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Wendy McWilliams

Wendy’s website is wendymcwilliams.com.

You can find her on Instagram @wendylmcwilliamsart

You can also find her on Pinterest.

You can also shop for prints at FineArt America.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. When Wendy was first learning to paint, she realized that if she just relaxed and didn’t try so hard to make it look like something, then her painting would flow and be much easier to make.
  2. Another thing she did when she was learning was she painted on paper rather than canvases. That allowed her to paint a lot and try many things in a very inexpensive way.
  3. By painting a lot, she was able to learn how the paint and brushes felt to her and what they could do.
  4. When Wendy was first starting out, she sold artwork through an Etsy site. When she was able to charge higher prices for her art, she left Etsy and sold through her website. Etsy can be a great place for prints and smaller canvases, but when your prices are high it will be better if you control all your sales and another party doesn’t take a big chunk like Etsy does.
  5. When Wendy made changes with what she was making, like going from smaller canvases to larger, she did it in little steps. This helped her ease into things.
  6. When Wendy ships canvases that are larger than 3 feet by 3 feet, she takes the canvas off of stretcher bars and rolls it up into a tube. Otherwise, the shipping would be exorbitant, especially if going overseas. Then the customer can go to their local frame shop and get it re-stretched back onto wood.
  7. When Wendy teaches classes, she emphasizes to her students that their artwork will never look like hers, nor should it. She’s teaching them techniques that they can use to develop their own style using the subjects and motifs that interest them.
  8. Wendy believes that Pinterest is a good place for artists to get their art seen. Designers and businesses look on Pinterest for things. She also feels that a lot of her Pinterest followers followed her over to Instagram.



#146 Heather Neiman: South Florida Mixed Media Artist

Fort Lauderdale artist Heather Neiman creates mixed media paintings that incorporate layers and papers and sometimes 3D objects. She recently moved into a new studio space in a thriving artist area and participates in the local art walks where she asks attendees to paint and collaborate right on her canvases. She’s preparing for an upcoming solo show that will also celebrate her birthday.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Heather Neiman

Heather’s website is heatherneimanart.com.

You can also find her on Instagram.

Heather found her studio space through Zero Empty Spaces in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Contact them if you’d like to know how their program works.

Heather was greatly inspired by the art of artist Tracy Verdugo. You can find information about her upcoming classes and her book at her website here.

There are a few art places in the Fort Lauderdale area that offer art walks. You can check them out here and see when they are doing their art walks again:


FAT Village

MASS District

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Heather takes photos of her paintings at all stages. At the end, then she has documentation of how the painting was made and how the story has developed.
  2. Heather invites others to add to her paintings. This is often done during art walks when people are visiting her studio. This allows her painting to evolve and tell a new story.
  3. When Heather includes papers on her artwork, sometimes they are very meaningful, like a page from a dictionary that used to be her Mother’s. Sometimes they can just be something that she’s included because she thinks it’s pretty. Don’t be afraid to use any kind of paper if you’re making mixed media art, because you may find that they add an energy from the original source.
  4. Painting on top of an image or paper makes the paper your own and will contribute to the story of your painting.
  5. Heather uses a matte medium when she’s putting down papers and a gel medium if it’s a little thicker paper like a magazine page.
  6. When she adheres heavier things, like keys or broken jewelry, she uses a stronger glue like a tacky glue or gorilla glue.
  7. Heather got her studio space through a group called Zero Empty Spaces. They work with landlords to convert empty storefronts into art studios. Look and see if your area has a program like this or maybe approach someone about using an empty space in your town.
  8. You can make art on anything. Heather found torso forms on Amazon and got three of them to paint and make mixed media art on.
  9. Heather finds art exhibit opportunities through local Calls to Artists. Search your town or county to see if they have organizations that regularly post Calls.
  10. Remember that Calls to Artists usually have a fee. Keep that in mind when deciding which exhibits you’d like to apply to.
  11. If you’ve heard of artwalks but never been, here’s what they’re all about. An area that has a lot of galleries will choose one night a month, like the first Saturday, or the third Friday, and all the galleries will stay open late so people can see them and walk through them. The artists will be present to answer questions and sell their art. There’s usually food and drinks available, maybe some food trucks, and usually music. These are a fun night out, and it’s a great way to meet other artists in your town.
  12. Don’t be afraid to approach galleries or other spaces about doing a solo show. It doesn’t hurt to ask. They may love for you to come and bring a show to them because they don’t know too many artists.

During this time in March, 2020 of self-quarantine, you may like to find some other podcasts about art. A few of the artists I’ve interviewed have their own podcasts. Here is a link to them:

Katrina Berg’s The Candy Colored Studio podcast.

Creatives get Real with Roben-Marie Smith and Sandi Keene

Caylee Grey and The Get Messy Podcast

Mitch Bowler and The Pencil Kings Podcast

The Laura Horn Art podcast

Danny Gregory’s podcast Shut Your Monkey

#145 Natalie Dadamio: Contemporary Abstract Artist

Artist Natalie Dadamio developed her art style and practice just within the last couple of years. She’s created a unique abstract style that incorporates mixed media with layers of papers and paint. She came to her art making as a journey toward her own growth and self-expression. She now helps others reach their full creativity.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Natalie Dadamio

Natalie’s website is nataliedadamio.com.

Her Instagram is @natalie.dadamio.art

Natalie enjoyed the book The Artist’s Way for helping her get into her creativity.

She talked about how she has enjoyed taking the 12-week online course Creative Visionary Program with Nicholas Wilton.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Natalie came to her art late in life and would like to point out that it doesn’t matter when you started making art if you’re loving making it right now.
  2. Two things in particular that Natalie has done to put creativity into her life have been the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and the online course The Creative Visionary Program with Nicholas Wilton. I’ll have links for both of those in the Show Notes of my website.
  3. Natalie doesn’t get bothered when she makes mistakes with her art. She feels that she always learns something when she works through the mistakes.
  4. When Natalie uses board as her substrate, she can use sanders to sand down through the layers of papers and paint. This allows her to reveal different portions of the layers underneath.
  5. When she uses book pages in her art, scraping through the layers allows words to come through, and it’s a nice surprise what is revealed.
  6. You have to get comfortable with failure, because if you’re not, then you’ll be too afraid to try something.
  7. Natalie enjoys ripping the papers that she uses in her mixed media art, because she feels there is beauty in its destruction.
  8. Natalie made 40 works of art in celebration of her 40th Milestones are great to celebrate by artmaking and creating a series. You are celebrating the passage of time, where you are with your art, and challenging yourself with a big project.
  9. You can still participate in a local art walk even if you don’t have a standalone studio. Natalie will be a part of her area’s Art Trail by sharing a studio space with another artist that weekend.
  10. Even bad emotions such as grief can be a gateway into making art. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the art will be sad, you’re just using those emotions to create.
  11. If you have a big change coming in your art style or your art business, you might want to update your website at the same time to signify all your changes.

#144 Michelle Sakhai: Abstract Artist Using Metal Leafing and Oils

New York-based artist Michelle Sakhai painted landscapes in oil for many years. She mostly created her paintings outside, in the method of plein aire painters. She started adding metal leafing to her paintings to show light, and before she knew it, the leafing had taken over her artwork. She now uses oils and leafing to make beautiful abstract expressionist art.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Michelle Sakhai

Michelle's book is available through her website.

Michelle’s website is michellesakhai.com.

Her Instagram is@michellesakhai. 

You can purchase her book Awakening here.

Here is a list of her current exhibitions.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. You can take inspiration from anywhere. It could be art from your childhood, inspiration from nature, or from a different style of art that you are interpreting. Keep your eyes and mind open to many possibilities.
  2. Don’t be afraid to change your art style if you are getting bored with it. Michelle did plein aire landscape painting for many years, but then gradually changed over to working with metal leafing and making abstract paintings. It’s easy to stick with the familiar but sometimes you just need to be brave enough for the challenge of something new.
  3. Allow your style to evolve over time. You’re not going to change your style completely overnight.
  4. Plein aire painting can be very exciting, because you’re constantly chasing the sunlight, and reacting to what the shadows are doing to your scene. Even what you hear and feel from the weather can effect what you’re painting. It can be a fast way to work, and Michelle generally worked on smaller canvases when she was painting outside.
  5. Michelle feels that the skills that you learn doing plein aire painting are a great foundation for other types of art. You’re just diving in, you’re learning to work quickly, you’re learning to react to the scene, and it’s great practice no matter what you end up doing.
  6. Michelle has painted a few series of works. Painting in a series will help you to develop your style, but it will also be attractive to others who are looking to show an artist’s work.
  7. When you are holding an opening for a new body of work, consider including more than just the artwork. When Michelle did an opening for her Arcana series, she did a workshop and a lecture about the pieces, and she had a tarot card reader.
  8. Residencies are great opportunities for artists to go and make art in a different setting. Michelle did an artist residency for the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and during that time she made art for the hotel. Residencies can be for art schools, cities or communities, parks, or just in unique locations. They’re a fun way to challenge yourself to do a new project.
  9. Don’t hesitate to apply to shows that are not in your state or country. Of course you can ship your art to the venue and you don’t need to be there. Michelle shipped her art to Qatar for an art festival, and she may go out for the opening but she didn’t have to be there in person for the take in day.

#143 Jenny Brown: Mixed Media Art Bringing the Future to Old Stories

Artist Jenny Brown lives in Providence, Rhode Island. She uses vintage papers in her art, bringing the future to old stories when she adds paint and ink to create something new. Her layered and detailed art is inspired by botanicals as well as celestial scenes. She’s shown her work in galleries and soon will be showing at a gallery in Brooklyn.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Jenny Brown

What We Found on the Moon
Celestial Sea Drop
Remapping the Multiverse
Collage Clippings
Flowering Beach Rocks
Marvelous Undergrowth
Celestial Roots and Branches
Jenny's studio

Jenny’s website is jennybrownart.com.

She also can be found with that same name on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

In April, 2020, she will have a solo show of her art at Collier West in Brooklyn. The show will be called Small Stories of Flowers on the Moon.

She also has artwork at the Candita Clayton Gallery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and at Lore Collection in Providence.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Jenny tries to start every day with a little drawing. That way, no matter what happens the rest of the day, at least she’s started it with some art.
  2. If you’re making art and you think you’ve messed it up, like you’ve spilled paint or ink, or you’ve made mud when mixing colors, look at that as a challenge to fix something. When you put it in a positive perspective, you’re more likely to keep going with the art and break through to the other side of something good.
  3. When using charcoal or pastels on your artwork, it’s a good idea to spray the final piece with a fixative. Otherwise, it’s not necessary. You can protect your art by just matting it and framing it under glass or acrylic.
  4. Jenny did a painting live in an Alex & Ani store. She pointed out that it was a great way to meet local people who have followed her on Instagram. Do the promotion ahead of time, and people who follow you will want to come and meet you in person. That also might help you if you’re nervous painting in front of people because you’ll know that familiar names will be coming to see you.
  5. Jenny finds art opportunities through open Calls, galleries, and publications. You can find these in local art magazines, through Instagram with specific hashtags, and on community and art event boards.
  6. We talked about how people can find you on the internet. It’s actually better to use your name rather than a different business name because after people meet you it will be easier to find you when they can remember your name.
  7. Don’t underestimate the power of Instagram. Galleries have found Jenny through seeing her work on Instagram. Try to create a feed that reflects your work and shows a lot of your artwork.


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