LIVE AN ARTFUL LIFE ARCHIVE was founded by artists and past gallery owners Tom and Linda Neel as a digital source for inspiration, education, motivation, and wellness content for artists, artisans and art enthusiasts. While that website has been retired, its articles from guest contributors are archived below.
Looking for more Live An Artful Life content? Tom Neel's articles and blog posts have been integrated into other sections of this website.

Characters Tell Their Own Stories

| Elaine Weiner-Reed

Creatives live creatively. Artist Elaine Weiner-Reed draws parallels between her art and other facets of her life. She notes that the lives of creative people tend to reflect their style and originality in many ways – from how they entertain or cook a meal, to how they teach their children, put together a work outfit, manage a project, or decorate their homes. In this article, Elaine connects her painting to her writing – specifically now that she has begun her latest adventure – novel-writing. Read more to discover what Elaine means when she says that her characters sometimes take control to tell their own stories in their own unique way – whether on paper or on canvas!

You Are What You Eat

| Matt Bednarsky

I once heard an interview with living legend slide guitarist Derek Trucks (seriously, he’s relatively young, but this cat’s guitar work will ripple out for years to come) where he spoke about how careful he is with what he listens to. He wanted to take in particular music through his ear canals, music that would have a beneficial effect on him. He has a vision for the music he makes, and wants to contribute to, and not subtract from or taint, that vision via the art he absorbs.

Wanted: Committed Artist To Develop Serious Mindset, Part 4

| Amy Hutto

Participating in the Artist Community, Shows, and Competitions

In my previous three articles emphasis has been on the basic principles of becoming a professional artist through focused development of artistic vision, organizational business practices, creating an online presence, and choosing appropriate sales platforms to meet your goals. All of these critical aspects of being a professional artist are ongoing and will evolve with you as you navigate the ever-changing art world. One of the best ways I’ve found to stay up on current trends and to avoid the potential of becoming isolated in my practice is to participate in artist communities; from the local grass-roots organizations to long-established national associations, as well as art shows, exhibits, and competitions.

Breathing “Live” Into Art

| Matt Bednarsky

Art is at an interesting stage these days.

While creative expression continues to flourish, we have unparalleled, on-demand access to nearly any work we want. Watch on Netflix a timeless film at 2 PM on a Thursday. Browse the revered paintings of the 19th century through a few clicks of a mousepad. Stream pioneering jazz followed by today’s pop hits followed by 70s disco all on a device that fits in your pocket.

The Pros and Cons of "Likes"

| Elaine Weiner-Reed

As independent professional artists, we often have to wear many hats that might or might not suit our personalities or backgrounds. Marketing, sales, public speaking, website maintenance, etc. In this article, Artist Elaine Weiner-Reed discusses some hazards she has experienced and observed in the domain of marketing on social media platforms. She confides that she is still learning and trying to determine the right balance of marketing online as it suits her own philosophy and goals. She cautions us to stay alert to the pitfalls so as not to lose our way or our artistic voice. She questions: How much is too much of a potentially good thing? How real is this virtual world? Keep reading to learn more…

Breaking Down Genres

| Matt Bednarsky

For whatever reason, the human brain likes boxes. We love to be able to categorize things for the sake of comparison and contrast, to simplify our understanding of the vast diversity of what’s out there.

Cooperative Art Galleries: Collaboration and Camaraderie

| Diane Helentjaris

For the overly civilized, things get a tad desolate at the midpoint of the hour-long drive between Winchester and Leesburg. Don’t get me wrong. The drive includes some of Virginia’s most gorgeous and history-imbued scenery. Near Berryville, giant sycamores zigzag in a vale, tracing the path of a narrow creek.

Wanted: Committed Artist To Develop Serious Mindset, Part 3

| Amy Hutto

Getting Your Art “Out There”

In the previous two articles on establishing yourself as a professional artist, I’ve covered some of the initial basics you’ll need to take care of and now it’s time to shift the focus to the nitty-gritty. You’ve got a stock of art, your business name, tax id, and are working on a regular schedule, and of course, you’ve got good quality photos of your art.

When in Doubt, Start

| Matt Bednarsky

I recently had a conversation with a young fellow who became particularly intrigued when I told him I’m a Singer/Songwriter. He is relatively recently removed from college, and in a job he tolerates that pays the bills, but ultimately, his joy would be to write for a living.

Treasure From Trash - The World of Upcycling Artists

| Diane Helentjaris

Leaving his life-long Cleveland roots was just too much to ask. Facing a job-mandated move, Mark Langan abandoned his two-decades-long career in transportation.

You Never Know What's Around The Corner

| Elaine Weiner-Reed

August 2019 was an interesting month for this artist. It was a month of personal challenges besides it being my birthday month. That alone is usually enough to make me want to run away, but this year had something special in store for me.

Wanted: Committed Artist To Develop Serious Mindset, Part 2

| Amy Hutto

Establishing a Game Plan

In my previous article, “Wanted: Serious Artist With a Serious Mindset” (please read if you haven’t already) I discussed some important things to consider when moving from a hobbyist (for this series hobbyist refers to someone who creates art and sells occasionally-not referring to skill level) to full-on professional artist (note I said full-on, not full-time because there’s quite a difference).

The Evolution of the Receiver

| Matt Bednarsky

You’re standing next to a friend, observing the exact same painting. To you, it’s obvious. Seeing how the trees dance in delight of a torrential downpour, this work of art clearly shows the painter’s affinity for and comfort with thunderstorms and nature.

Wanted: Committed Artist To Develop Serious Mindset

| Amy Hutto

Qualifications: great multi-tasker; organized, dedicated, creative, skilled, average to above-average accounting abilities, able to maintain inventory, packing and shipping aficionado, with ongoing ability to meet multiple deadlines. Willing to be rejected, criticized, endure money droughts, and paint-stained clothing. Sense of humor a must. Qualifications changes; ongoing…

The Most Important Music

| Matt Bednarsky

Pretty brash title, right? What could possibly qualify as “the most important music”? Mozart? Beethoven? The Beatles? Gregorian Chants?


Art Quilts: Giving Voice to Artists

| Diane Helentjaris

“Intuition,” shares Mary Ramsey Keasler. “If I think it looks good, it’s good…I do this because I love to do this.” Marisela Rumberg explains: “I’m bad at following the rules. I like to break them and see what happens…I like to do things my way.”

Color Me Happy

| Amy Hutto

Color is one of the most exciting aspects of painting; be it grays, black and white, or in-your-face big, bold, pure pigments. It can also be one of the most challenging, often vexing, conundrums of life in the studio.

The Artful Walk

| Matt Bednarsky

In general, I’m not a fan of the term “Writer’s Block”. Art can be a seasonal thing. Maybe it’s been raining for months, and creating has been a fluid and easy process. Or maybe you’ve been in a dry spell for a while now, and inspiration seems harder to come by.

Finding Your Voice

| Amy Hutto

Recently I had the opportunity to once again explore life as an artist on vacation. (See my article “An Artist Goes on Vacation”; parts one and two, here on Live An Artful Life). I managed to paint a few small abstracts and a landscape that I feel particularly proud of.

You Are Creative

| Matt Bednarsky

There are novelists, painters, poets, knitters, composers, drawers, sculptors, filmmakers, choreographers…which one are you?

Nope. I shall not take the answer “I’m not creative” as an answer. Uh uh.

Experience Art Differently

| Elaine Weiner-Reed

Artist Elaine Weiner-Reed wants her art to be a starting point for dialogue, community-building, and creative collaboration. Elaine believes that through dialogue and interdisciplinary collaboration, the arts come alive and people connect - often in inspiring ways. In that vein, she invites others to imagine more and tap their own muse, asking what they see or feel in her work. How would someone write the stories she painted?

While You're Young

| Matt Bednarsky

I’m grateful to have lived thus far what many might characterize as an uncouth life. This different life is marked by two components.

First, the life of an independent singer/songwriter; I define my career, my routing, my time, and my structure in the context of one of my passions. It suits me well, but I sacrifice the stability and safety of a traditional place in the working world.

Bill van Gilder and the Life of a Mentor

| Diane Helentjaris

Dusk had fallen in Leesburg. Virginia. Night air, neither too hot nor too cold, wafted through the propped door of the Clay and Metal Loft. Bill van Gilder was kicking off his weekend pottery workshop with a warm-up PowerPoint. Lifetime learners sipped wine and nibbled cheese, listening raptly. Now, van Gilder can PowerPoint and social media as well as any Millennial, even though he's been making pots since before there was an internet.

Dealing With The Default

| Matt Bednarsky

Imagine strolling through your local bookstore (if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where those still exist) and stumbling upon the self-help section. You quickly peruse what’s before you, and you see titles like “The Power of Negative Thinking”, “How a Little Bit of Cynicism Goes a Long a Way”, and “Ease Up on the Self-Esteem”.

Inspiration Creation

| Amy Hutto

Inspiration is one of those elusive, fleeting sparks that we as artists attempt to capture. Like a butterfly that lights upon our finger; it is often a flutter, a flit and then we watch as our inspiration floats away, wishing it had stayed a little longer.

The Muse and the Shovel

| Matt Bednarsky

Ah, inspiration.

You can be strolling on the sidewalk, minding your own business, when it unexpectedly comes up and knocks you upside the head.

What's Trending in the Art World

| Amy Hutto

As creatives, it is absolutely critical that we stay true to ourselves and not hop from trend to trend. That being said, it is also critical that we lift our heads up from our work and take a look at the art world around us and see what is trending in order to stay relevant.

Writing to Embrace a Rich Heritage

| Diane Helentjaris

“Within the span of a few months, I was demoted from a leader – to a follower – by a tiny baby boy with large lungs.” With these words, writer Patty Apostolides describes her transformation from a scientist and musician to a stay-at-home mother. Her son ignored her work at the Cleveland Clinic experimenting on cancer cells.

Live an Artful Life Contributors

Tom Neel
Tom Neel: Founder, Editor, Writer, Artist, Photographer.

Founder, Editor, Writer, Artist, Photographer.

Learn more about Tom throughout this website.

Linda Neel
Linda Neel: Founder, Associate Editor, Artist, Graphic Design

Founder, Associate Editor, Artist, Graphic Design

Born in Denver, Colorado, educated in IT management, Linda Neel actually grew up with two absolute loves - textiles and horses. Early on, her passion for textiles was a passionate hobby and horses a way of life. So much so, that her love of breeding and dressage would bring her to Virginia in 1984. Ready for the new spin on life, she also opened Leesburg Virginia's first art gallery, Leesburg Gallery of Art. The gallery became well known for its fine art, fine art reproductions, and distinctive museum quality framing.

In 1990, Linda and artist husband, Tom Neel, accepted a unique opportunity to join the management team of fine art publisher, The Greenwich Workshop, in Connecticut. For four years they represented some of the nation's top artists, before returning to Virginia. In that time, Linda had also chosen to leave her life of horses behind. Another new beginning.

Her unquenchable thirst for textiles became an unstoppable creative journey of workshops and experimentation, but finding her love of dye and silk, as a true medium, was the game changer. First, her colorful contemporary silk scarves became a hit with clients, while also exhibiting and acquiring awards at textile shows around the country. Linda's knowledge of textiles as an artistic medium is vast, which allowed her to achieve her ultimate goal of creating fine art. Linda's art and scarves can be viewed at her website,

Leaving the last years of her IT career behind in 2008, another new beginning was opening Live An Artful Life Gallery in 2009 with her husband - artist Tom Neel. It was located about an hour west of Washington, D.C. ironically in Virginia's horse country, the gallery's specialty was fine art and fine artisan pieces made in American. Live An Artful Life has created friendships with both artists and customers that have deepened Linda's understanding and enjoyment for those seeking an artful lifestyle.

Linda Hendrickson
Linda Hendrickson: Artist, Art Teacher, and Wildlife Lover

Artist, Art Teacher,
and Wildlife Lover

Linda Hendrickson's degrees, a BFA from the University of Arizona and a ME from Idaho State University, have helped open the doors to many opportunities such as teaching art to Junior High students.  She says, "Art has always been a way for me to express the joy I have in my surroundings.  Always curious and ever exploring, I remember drawing or crafting in answer to "what to do" during Minnesota winters while growing up".  For more than 20 years she was able to design projects in paper, wood, textiles--cross stitch, quilts, toys for craft book publishers. However, since taking a workshop more than a dozen years ago, her passion has been acrylic painting.  She describes her style as "whimsical impressionism".  Linda loves to paint pet portraits, animals of all sorts and "Topsy Turvy" landscapes. Often experimenting with mixed media, her works are colorful, full of texture and "happy accidents". See Linda's artwork at Studio4Linda, Instagram: @studio4linda FB: LindaHendricksonartist, Pinterest: Studio4Lind

Amy Hutto
Amy Hutto: Artist, Writer

Artist, Writer

Amy Hutto is a working artist, freelance writer, and former art educator of 23 years. Originally from Texas, she has lived in Colorado and now resides in New York. Amy enjoys spending long days in her studio, a family and friends-filled kitchen, and exploring the countryside with her newly retired husband.  Of her art and writing, she says, “It is exciting to create something that never existed before, from a blank canvas and tubes of paint; to convey ideas, emotions, and feelings without having to speak; it makes me happy, and I want to share that with others. With writing, I’m painting a picture with words, words that I hope will inspire, educate, commiserate and like my art communicates the significance of "Living an Artful Life.” See Amy’s art at West End Gallery-Corning, NY; The Leigh Gallery-Chicago, IL; and Aspen and Evergreen Gallery-Estes Park, CO. She can also be found on her website at, On Instagram @ajhutto66, and on Facebook

Elaine Weiner-Reed
Elaine Weiner-Reed: Artist, Writer

Artist, Writer

Elaine Weiner-Reed (EWR) is an award-winning, internationally known Artist. Bilingual in French, Weiner-Reed currently resides in Maryland, where she has lived and worked for over 38 years as a professional artist and writer. Recently retired from a tandem 37-year career with the Government, she engages as a creative mentor and research associate with professionals at Johns Hopkins University Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, among others. Her mind and heart are always fully engaged, and her art and life has been and always will be steeped in meaning and filled with purpose, creativity, hope, gratitude, insight, intuition, and sincerity. Known for her Uncommon Vision and often referred to as an Abstract Expressionist Artist and painter of people, Weiner-Reed finds inspiration in life, nature, and everyday encounters and experiences. In addition to painting, sculpting, and mounting solo exhibitions, she is currently working on revising several children's books she drafted over 20 years ago.

Born a twin, Elaine Weiner-Reed strove to resist her generation’s predetermined rules and boundaries to distinguish herself and create her own unique identity. Her search for identity and originality sharpened her mind and forged an intuitive, free soul that fiercely guards and nourishes her art. Her artwork focuses on unraveling the complexity and mystery of human emotion, behavior, and relationships, featuring the individual within or outside of a group dynamic. Her art is an outgrowth of her fascination with relationships and with trying to understand them. It is the exploration of human dynamics and their full and colorful spectrum of emotions and mystery. A caring student of human nature, Weiner-Reed recognizes that all relationships are complex. No two are ever the same. She is insatiably curious and that intellectual curiosity drives her desire to understand the story behind a situation or relationship. Everything she sees and experiences feeds into her art, as she continually hones and revises her perceptions. She takes insomnia and life's adventure where it leads her.  To view Elaine's artwork please go to her website, FB WeinerReed, Twitter ElaineWeinerArt, Instagram ewrartist, Pinterest weinerart, LinkedIn elaine-weiner-reed, YouTube Elaine Weiner-Reed, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Diane Helentjaris
Diane Helentjaris: Writer, Photographer

Writer, Photographer

Diane Helentjaris is a freelance writer and photographer. Her love of the written word and visual image began early – she was the little girl with her nose constantly in a book as well as the one with the plastic Girl Scout camera. But she also loved science. Off to Michigan State for college from rural Ohio, she began her studies in Studio Art. Untrained, she grew frustrated with her lack of drawing technique, switched to Humanities and went on to become a clinical and public health physician. During her years as a physician, she continued with her photography, exhibiting both regionally and nationally. Observation skills, a genuine interest in people’s stories, and clear communication are critical to the practice of clinical medicine; good writing is the coin of the realm for public health administrators. Since leaving medicine, Diane has combined these in her freelance writing and photography. She is (of course) working on a book. Diane lives with her family in Leesburg, Virginia. To view Diane's artwork please go to her website, FB DianeHelentjaris, Twitter @Helentjaris

Steve Loya
Steve Loya: Art Teacher, Artist, Writer

Art Teacher, Artist, Writer

Steve Loya is a true believer in the power of art and creativity and makes every effort to explore this in his own life. His work is motivated by a strong desire to communicate and express visually something beyond words or spoken language, however serious or playful his approach and subject matter may be. His work has been exhibited in solo exhibits, juried and group shows, galleries, and small businesses throughout the Northern Virginia region, DC, NV, PA, MD, NY as well as in Japan, Greece, and the UK. His work has also been featured and published in a handful of physical and online artist publications and books during the past decade. You can find more of Steve's work on his web page, at

Matt Bednarsky
Matt Bednarsky: Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer

Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer

Singer/Songwriter Matt Bednarsky’s music blends pop/rock, folk, jazz, and blues and is characterized by poignant, thoughtful lyrics and soothing yet powerful vocals. The CT-born, NYC-carved, and Nashville-based musician has an expansive internet presence, with over 2.8 million cumulative views on YouTube, and has three full-length studio albums, “A Bigger Picture” (2014), “Two” (2015), and “Luminescence” (2017). He’s opened for British legend Joan Armatrading on multiple occasions, was named a 2015 Artist of the Year by Concerts In Your Home, and has played for audiences in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.

You can find out more about Matt at  FB  iTunes and Spotify search "Matt Bednarsky”

Kim Tapper
Kim Tapper: Associate Director/Life Coach, ACC, CPCC

Associate Director/Life Coach, ACC, CPCC

With over 20 years as a teacher, director, choreographer, life coach, and mentor, Kim Tapper is credentialed as an ACC through the International Coach Federation, CPCC (Coach Training Institute), as a Life Strategies Coach (Spencer Institute), and holds a BA in Dance Movement Therapy from Goucher College.

As the co-Artistic Director of the Crossroads Dance Project, Kim choreographed over 20 musical theater productions which received multiple nominations from the Metro DC Dance awards.

Today, as Associate Director of "A Place To Be" in Middleburg, VA., Kim coaches individuals to reach their personal goals. She believes in the power of the arts as a strong coaching tool and specializes in working with people with medical challenges, family counseling, and women from ages 13-adult focusing on self-esteem issues and building confidence. At INOVA Loudoun Hospital's Oncology Department, Kim leads "Life Beyond Diagnosis" coaching workshops and has been a guest speaker and teacher for Life With Cancer.

In 2013 she published "A Place to Be: Behind the Label", a book of poetry inspired by the clients at APTB and illustrated by one of her teenage clients.  Her book can be purchased on Amazon.


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