Skip to main content

Thomas Neel's Blog

Scroll through the archives or a choose a topic for a filtered list of past posts.

Finding Yourself Once More

| Thomas Neel
34 years ago in 1986, I had already spent well over a decade building an automotive career which was vast in scope. It seemed as if I had spent most waking moments thinking about or working on something that had to do with cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Adapting and Getting Creative

| Thomas Neel
I can remember back to September 11th, 2001, having Good Morning America on and witnessing the live coverage of airliners hitting the World Trade Center. It was very late in the broadcast when they switched to live cameras aimed at the building and the aftermath of the first plane hitting.

When Life Offers You Purpose

| Thomas Neel
Linda and I have an artist friend named Nancy Bishop. Nancy has led a very full life, which includes over 40 years as a master potter, though she also successfully dabbled in painting as well.

The Power of Love

| Thomas Neel
Today Linda and I celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. I don’t share this just to make an announcement. I really do so because ours is the story of Live An Artful Life, which actually dates back to the late 80’s when a much younger new artist (me), walked into a much younger gallery owner’s gallery in Leesburg, Virginia.

Music to Our Ears

| Thomas Neel
I’m a guitar player. Well, actually I’m kind of a hack that has been at it for 55 years. But I’ve owned a lot of guitars and it’s likely no surprise that having to stay at home a lot these days has offered ample time to improve my skills, and it’s worked. I’m playing every day now.

Forming Creative Balance

| Thomas Neel
Creative types can be prone to imbalance. There’s nothing scientific about this statement, I’ve just hung around enough artists to know many can be thrown by disruption or are unable to create unless things are just right. For many working people you just have to muscle on through it. But for artists, it can bring thinking and things to a standstill.

When Your Creative Skill Comes in Handy

| Thomas Neel
It finally happened, the need for homemade masks! My, my, it’s a brave new world. But here we are, looking like a couple of bank robbers! Still, it seemed the right thing to do for the short term and it allowed Linda to put her sewing talent to good use.

Sourcing a Source of Inspiration

| Thomas Neel
I was going through my thousands of cataloged reference photos I have on hand. To be honest, I was looking for a few things and purging a bit while doing so. But then I found myself immersed in my own light I had captured through years of photography.

Oh Brother... and Sister-in-Law

| Thomas Neel
My brother Dave picked a great time to retire. At the end of 2019, he said bye, bye to a 45-year career in trade of staying home, relaxing and then this!!!!!!!! Oh brother, is his timing interesting.

Hopefully Your Artfulness is Coming in Handy

| Thomas Neel
For those of you who kindly read my blog posts, I want you to know that I will not enjoy getting off to a start on this one and you know why.

Practice Is The Only Way To Accomplish Your Creative Goal

| Thomas Neel
As much as I’ve written about creativity, I think I’ve likely written less about this topic than I should have. Practice is that love-hate relationship we have with any skill we plan on tackling.

Studio Life Part 2

| Thomas Neel

As I was saying last week. Trying to count back through my studio spaces since my career began, I count to now six including “our” latest one. Of them all, only one was actually purpose-built to be my studio.

Studio Life Part 1

| Thomas Neel
As luck would have it, in my thirty-plus years of being an artist, acting as an artist liaison for the fine art publisher, The Greenwich Workshop, as a gallery owner, and doing the many stories I’ve done on artists for Live An Artful Life and my newspaper column - The Artist’s Perspective, I have had the great pleasure to have visited hundreds of artist’s studio across the country and even some in Europe.

Strum Away

| Thomas Neel
For those of you who read along on a regular basis, I greatly appreciate it. Over the years you’ve heard me endlessly talk about Live An Artful Life and usually through my escapades as a working artist and writer. This time will be a little different.

Redefining Creative Success

| Thomas Neel
I have been thinking about the reality of things. Having written positive messages to creative types for so long, I have also had to come to grips with something.

Don’t Dream Without Acting On Your Dreams!

| Thomas Neel

We all have dreams. So why do some dreams come true and others remain as, well, just dreams? I think part of it is due to how we think of dreams. For too many, dreams are built out of fairy-tails, never meant to really come true.

When Creative Decisions Are Also Financial Ones - Part Three

| Thomas Neel

Loving work or not, it is a bit of a race with an endless finish line. As with any product, (which if you sell it-art is a product), making art that is sellable is important. In many cases, it drives your creativity. Yes, this is where some feel that business interrupts creative purity. I would somewhat agree, but not to the point of wanting to starve myself.

When Creative Decisions Are Also Financial Ones - Part Two

| Thomas Neel
In part one of this three-part blog post, I spoke about my love of creativity, how it became part of me from a very young age and then how creativity and a business acumen became key to the success and happiness of my art career. Additionally, I strongly made the case for the need for all creative types who plan on using their creativity for their livelihood, to become not only more business savvy but that they outright need to do so for their survival.

When Creative Decisions Are Also Financial Ones - Part One

| Thomas Neel

I love creativity. I really mean that. It runs in my veins like an unbridled horse, wild and free. When I was very young a pencil or a crayon was just as much fun as toys tapping into a boy’s youthful imagination as any to be found. As I grew I used them and words to therapeutically help as best they could with my parents' divorce.

Imagine This

| Thomas Neel

In 1968 my Aunt Dottie, quite uncharacteristically, took a thirteen-year-old me to see Stanley Kubrick’s nerve twisting science fiction film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, at the Uptown Theater on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C.

A New Day, A New Year, A New Decade!

| Thomas Neel
Creativity. The very nature of the word comes in making something from nothing more than an idea. Originality. It is the essence of something new. So listen, I have an idea.

Decorate Your Life

| Thomas Neel

I can remember as a young boy growing up in the 50s and 60s, my brother and I being schooled by my very artful mother with her lessons on decorating our Christmas tree. She was dutifully precise in her approach. Nothing about decorating was to be done willy-nilly, or at break-neck speed.

Deck The Halls With Youthful Exuberance

| Thomas Neel
Where age brings us wisdom, the youthful brings us energy. As someone who is in his 60s, I think sometimes youthful energy epitomizes wisdom and how best to live an artful life! When you’re young, your responsibilities haven’t jaded your attitude toward keeping life fun. It’s a lesson we all need to not just practice; it’s one we should endear ourselves to. Enthusiasm comes from a place of joy, and it is empowering. Stress, what stress? Enthusiasm is a stress crusher!

Time Passing Is A Bit Like Flying

| Thomas Neel

Where did the year go? No, wait a minute, where did the decade go?

Time is each and every one of our’s most important resources. It is precious, and while we still find time to waste it, we certainly blow through plenty of it working.

Loyalty Is Often a Matter of Good Business

| Thomas Neel
Last week I was contacted by a very good corporate client. To be honest, I wasn’t completely surprised, but a little part of me was. It’s the part of me that is always reinforced by what doing good business continues to bring and there’s a big lesson to share here.

Have a Happy and Artful Thanksgiving!

| Thomas Neel
Have you considered that this Thanksgiving is the last of this decade? My, my, my, where does the time go? It seems it was just yesterday when we partied like it was 1999. 2000 came, the computers didn’t meltdown, a decade flew by, 2010 came and went, and here we are knocking on the door of 2020!!!!

Thanksgiving Is Not About a Meal, It’s About Gratitude

| Thomas Neel

Here it comes! For many, it’s the busiest most stressful time of the year. Thanksgiving has, in many cases, been more about stuffing ourselves in preparation for Black Friday! It’s like the kickoff to Christmas which is barely still about Christ. Time to reboot friends!

Brotherly Love

| Thomas Neel
As the holidays sneak up on us, thoughts of family come to mind. As we first celebrate Thanksgiving, I am thankful for so very much, but particularly having a sibling, my brother Dave. There’s virtually no one who has known me longer or better than my brother.

Don’t Just Stop and Smell the Roses

| Thomas Neel

Stop and smell the roses or even a flower from a weed. The beauty that surrounds you, offers the vitality that you need. Chapter 4 from my book - Live An Artful Life, is titled, The Beauty Creativity Brings. We are surrounded by all sorts of things. There’s just no shortage of visual stimulation, but all of it is certainly not healthy for us, or a positive influence.

It Takes A Village

| Thomas Neel
The creation of art is often a very solitary endeavor. As artists we find ourselves making all of the decisions from conception through to completion. Sometimes this singlehanded-ness approach continues right on through with the promotion of yourself, the marketing of the art you’ve just created and even with its hopeful sale. Sure, collaboration is possible, but many go it completely alone.

Creative Hibernation

| Thomas Neel
I’ve been an artist “painter” for 31 years now. Frankly, it’s a long time to do anything, but year by year, decade by decade, time chipped away a lengthy career. On and off, really all my life, I’ve also been a writer.

In Search Of Autumn

| Thomas Neel

This week Linda and I went in search of Autumn. New to the convenience of reaching North Carolina’s High Country, and elevations higher than the Old Dominion, we headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway to lap up the sights between mile-post 335 and 382, at the Folk Art Center on the outskirts of Asheville.

Being Carefree

| Thomas Neel

In Chapter 8 “Overcoming Obstacles” from my book Live An Artful Life, I say, Children are carefree. If you look at the basic definition of the word carefree, it pretty much says it all; free from anxiety and responsibility. I then go on to say that I like to think of being carefree as not being controlled by anxiety and responsibility.

Your Imagination is the Key to Unlocking Yourself Mentally

| Thomas Neel

I go on to say, And being creative will never let you see four blank walls for long. This is straight from my book, Live An Artful Life, Chapter 14 - Ageless Artistry. It is estimated that 10,000 people per day retire.

Remember To Say Thank You

| Thomas Neel

You deserve the life,
An artful life can bring.
Filled to the brim with gratitude,
And surrounded by creative things!
         This poem is an excerpt from the book
       "Live An Artful Life - The Art of Living Artfully"

You May be An Artist - Even If You Don’t Think You Live Up To The Title

| Thomas Neel
Linda and I recently met with a plant nursery owner about purchasing and further landscaping our property. I consider landscaping and levels of gardening or garden design, as a form of artistry, because it does take a developed skill, originality, use of color, texture, placement, and light. But there’s a spin to this story I’ll share in a moment.

Reflection and Surfaces

| Thomas Neel

I was sitting at our kitchen island finishing dinner and found myself gazing at two tomatoes sitting on the black granite kitchen counter. Their mirror-like reflection was offering up two pairs! Not pears! Pairs! With every Live An Artful Life principle, it’s not just seeing, but the depth of seeing that really counts.

New Studio, New Creativity Launching Pad

| Thomas Neel

As some of you know, Linda and I have purchased a home in North Carolina. It’s just trying something different that was the root cause of it all. In doing so, this home, with its large bonus room over the garage, offered a new studio space that is quite different from our home in Virginia.

Live An Artful Life Review

| Thomas Neel

Writing a book is one of the hardest and easiest things I’ve ever done. Easy only because of my love of writing and no shortage of experiences to share. But hardest because it’s no sprint, it’s a marathon.

Art, Taste and You

| Thomas Neel

In the world of art, there is a funny little word that pops up from time to time. That word is taste. Art itself is amazingly vast as we all know. The variations of creativity are seemingly endless. But, we all do not like the same things because we all have different taste.

Inspire Yourself

| Thomas Neel

Creativity really does begin with inspiration. But the inspiration doesn't necessarily have to come directly from others or externally. If you feed your mind generously, it will, in turn, provide your soul with creative hunger.

Going For It

| Thomas Neel

I’m a bit of a hyper-creative type, meaning if I’m not creating something in one medium or way, I’m definitely am in another. Most know me as a painter, but to be completely honest my dear readers, I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a while.

Finding Your Medium

| Thomas Neel

I get asked about what medium I use a fair amount. Now, before I share the answer I give, I would like to share that most often I know that the person doing the asking is just asking to ask, as they know little to nothing about paint.

The Passing of a Friend

| Thomas Neel

I’ve often said that creativity is my friend. There’s been plenty of days when it has spoken to me or I to it in the most useful ways. There have been days when I’ve leaned on it or it on me to make something happen, something out of nothing. I have painted or been in the height of creativity through the worst and best of economic times, and times of great sorrow and happiness.

State of Mind

| Thomas Neel

Linda and I have been spending time here in North Carolina which has a rich arts and artisan history, and one need not go far in any direction to find the state’s artistic influences.

A Musician's Life

| Thomas Neel

I have a good friend I’ve known for years who did well in life as a business person and entrepreneur. As his early retirement neared he jumped deeply back into his college love of jazz and playing the trumpet. He did not fool around, he devoted himself to becoming a full-time musician although the need for money wasn’t there as it would be for most musicians.

Back In The Saddle

| Thomas Neel

Well, though summer is only halfway through, it seems my summer blog break is over. The keyboard has fallen under my digits and I’m here to pass along my thoughts. Let’s begin with the fact that after some 31 years of regularly holding an artist’s paintbrush for a living, I have not picked one up for that reason for over a month, but a commission will begin before too long. Most important though is I never really, at least for income purposes, ever have to again.

Summer Break

| Thomas Neel

There will be a bit of a re-boot going on around here soon. Linda and I have purchased a home in Denver, North Carolina just outside of the city of Charlotte. North Carolina is a powerfully artful place and I can’t wait to bring you new juice from both there and here, as I go back and forth as my artistic aspirations swell.


| Thomas Neel

I recently had a speaking engagement for Franklin Parks Art Center’s opening reception of their show titled Monochromatic. There I told the story of visiting the National Gallery of Art’s 10th Anniversary of the East Building and their exhibition - Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture: Selections for the Tenth Anniversary of the East Building.

Speaking Wednesday at Franklin Park Arts Center

I’m looking forward to my speaking engagement and book signing at Franklin Park Arts Center as part of their opening reception for “Monochromatic.” Franklin Park Art Center is located at 36441 Blueridge View Lane, Purcellville, VA 20132.

Have You Read Live An Artful Life?

For about the last decade I have been writing a column I created for The Middleburg Eccentric newspaper. Month after month, year after year I’ve passed along my creative thoughts and opinions and I’m so appreciative of those of you who let me know that you read it regularly.

Coming up on five years ago Linda and I started Live An Artful Life Magazine, which developed into more of a web-mag, but my digits hitting the keys didn’t care. I found it to be a place to expand on my thoughts past the space limitations of my newspaper column.

Creativity and Wellness

Chapter 2 in my new book Live An Artful Life is tilted, Lifestyle, Happiness, and Wellness. This chapter comes quickly in the book because of its overall importance to the process of living artfully. I begin this chapter with Life can be mundane if you allow it to be.  The good thing is it doesn’t have to be.  It just takes one simple change to truly live artfully, and that’s being carefree.

Spinning Plates

When I was a boy a real treat was watching the Ed Sullivan Show. For those too young to remember, Ed Sullivan had a very popular variety show. The closest thing we have to variety shows today would be something like America’s Got Talent. But during the 1950s and 60s, and even into the 70s, variety shows were very popular. One by one, Ed Sullivan would introduce his next act by saying, “And now ladies and gentleman…” and the next act would appear.

Book Cover Art is Real Art

| Thomas Neel

In my thirty plus years of being a fine artist and creative consultant, I have covered a lot of creative ground, but for some reason, none felt so important or even high pressured as working on a book cover.

Where Do You Fit Into the World of Art?

There’s a creative puzzle in play across the world. All kinds of puzzle pieces scattered all about, all trying to fit in. It’s a puzzle of color, a puzzle of texture, a puzzle of multi-race and culture, gender and age.

Painting is Like Cooking

When inquisitive beginners ask me about painting, I tell them its a bit like cooking. You have equipment like a stove, (your easel), tools like pots and pans, (think brushes and palette), you have ingredients, (your paints), a recipe, (realism, abstract, etc.) and then there is you, (the chef).

Woo-Hoo! I'm Having A Book Signing!

After writing a couple hundred published articles, a poem and painting book, plus my book The Land Beneath My Feet five years ago, and this weekly blog, I can share that my digits have been quite connected to my keyboard. But piggybacking on all of this has been my new book, LIVE AN ARTFUL LIFE - The Art of Living Artfully.

Creativity is Good for a Lot More Than Making Art

Creativity is such a useful part of our human make up. I’m convinced that other species use creativity to live and survive. But what truly makes us as humans different is that we take creativity to the point of making art, which at the root of the matter, is just another form of communication.

A week of Cool!

Who doesn’t like cool? Not me, I love cool. Cool is especially artful and I’m artful, so I like cool. There’s of course, all kinds of cool, like a big occasion cool, or even a nostalgia type cool. This week brought me both of those cools and a few more!

How Weather Affects Creativity

The world is obsessed with weather. It is deeply rooted in us and for good reason - survival. Clearly, times in the past, when our world and food supply was less connected, bad weather could mean starvation. Crops could be wiped out or conditions leading to brutal winters, floods, and damaging winds, could be the end of us. To some degree, this is still true today, but far less so.

Live An Artful Life - The Book!

I have successfully authored my second or actually third book. My first book “Paintings with Poetry” when completed, presented itself as more of a booklet than a real book. But it was a beginning and I wrote every word. It was though “The Land Beneath My Feet” which celebrated 25 of my now over 30 years as an artist, that really first like my first book, because I had to tell my story. Still, the majority of its pages were dedicated to photos of my paintings. This meant I was not overwhelmed with textual volume.

Clean Up, Clean Out!

Life is funny, sometimes you move about, sometimes you get nailed down. We purchased our home in 1993, just over 25 years ago. I never thought I would follow in my grandmother’s footsteps by being in one place for so long, but it’s happened. Twenty five years has slipped away in one place.

Transformation Station

Do you have a plan for 2019? You know, a forward-thinking plan that capitalizes on the good things which may have happened in 2018, or a plan which recognizes a need to do something different to achieve your goals and make 2019 success? What is your success story anyway?

Hnappian or Nafzen, either way, it means nap!

I mentioned in an earlier blog post about our cat Revlon being diagnosed with diabetes. The net result of her prescribed medication is improved health and altered sleep patterns for Linda and me. Insulin injections 12 hours apart, basically 7 am and 7 pm and middle of the night feedings mean the rooster’s call is less welcome.

It's a New Year!

We wish you creativity, inspiration, wellness and happiness in 2019!



Topics For Discussion

As we set ourselves up for a new year, I was thinking it would be a good idea for me to offer this blog as a place for me to answer any questions you might have. Be it art or the arts, the business of art, inspiration or whatever.

Live An Artful Life, The Book

With each week we go a little farther with the competition of my book Live An Artful Life. This week has been mostly about the cover design. A not so easy a task, I’ll tell ya that! They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in that light, a book cover is worth every word you’ve written.

Merry Christmas

I’ve been thinking about those two words. Merry Christmas. Cheerful festivity. Jesus Christ’s Birthday. Meeting of family and friends. A celebration. There’s also the gift-giving part, which these days seems way more important to us than the birth of Christ.

When Life Brings You Change, You Should Consider Accepting It

I’m not sure how you accept change, but I think we all have to encounter it from time to time. Sometimes it’s a small change or series of changes, and other times change can be life-altering. It’s the life-altering kind that can get a hold of your brain and twist it into knots because we as humans are pretty good with settling in. Getting comfortable is at least a little of what we do and who we are.

Tough Week on The Kitty Front

Linda and I have had our share of pets over the years, (dogs, cats, and horses), but we are down to our last kitty.  Her sister left us about a year ago and it seems her genetics have paved the way. The point being, there’s been a lot on our plate with respect to our pets health and it most certainly takes its toll on all facets of life.

Business Before Pleasure

As artists, we love to create and we derive a lot of pleasure from doing so. For many, this is all we care about, which is fine. But if your desire or intent is to make money from your art, even as a part-time thing, but certainly as a living, then it should be business before pleasure.

Why My Youthful Passion For Cars is So Relevant Today

When I was young I loved cars. I loved reading about them. I loved hearing their engines and seeing their designs. I loved watching them race on programs like ABC’s Wide World of Sports and I loved going to races with my father.

Pulled In All Directions and All of Them Are Good!

2018 has been a milestone year for me as an artist. I’ve now been successfully selling my paintings for over 30 years. Three decades is a long time to do anything, but creatively it’s a long time to soldier on through changing economies, political unrest, and an ever-changing art business.

It's Good to Visit Another Neighborhood Now and Then

| Thomas Neel

Linda and I have been thinking about our future. This includes alternative places to spend part or even all of our years. This is not about liking one place over another, but rather having a fresh outlook on life.


I saw a play a week ago. It was fun. All of the actors were entertaining. Oh, and all happen to have disabilities. Despite their disabilities, all mustered up some real - ability.

Writing a Book

I’ve been working on a book, or maybe I should say, the book has been working on me. Writing comes easy to me, that part hasn’t really been a problem, though I know it is for some, which is why often one book can take a lifetime.

Live Music is Alive. Live Performance is Too!

| Thomas Neel

We live in an amazing artistic world. There are millions of humans who devote themselves to creativity and presenting that creativity to others. Just imagine for a moment a world with no art or artists. Honestly, I can’t imagine it.

Special Projects

In my life as a working painter, oh how special projects have served me. Yes, I have happily painted and sold many gallery paintings and commissions. But the special project end of my business has placed a nice bow on the box that has been my gift in receiving a long artistic career.

Art and The Aging

Now 63 years of age, I can recall the first time I took a seniors discount. It was for a lifetime park pass which I use to visit Skyline Drive National Park in Virginia. After years, no decades visiting the park with my annual pass, I was honestly quite happy about being able to purchase a forever pass at the age of 62. Did that officially make me old? Well, I hope not, but it did give me a sense of my aging.

Pondering 30 Years and What's Next

Thirty years is a long time to do anything, but I’ve been selling my artwork for 30 years. Sometimes it seems amazing. Many ask how long I’ve been painting and I have always gone straight to the years I’ve been selling my paintings, not just painting.

Cooley Gallery

A funny thing happened on the way to the show. Back in July, Linda and I visited Leesburg, Virginia for the town’s First Friday festivities. It was a mob scene, with crowds of visitors, live music everywhere, impossible parking and much to see.

Time Away

Last Friday I left on my motorcycle for a three-day adventure with a few old friends. Along with time spent with them during lunches and dinners, this was a time for me to become one with my motorcycle, and in the process it allowed me to become one with myself and the environment I was in.

Where's The Light, What's The Color? Part Two

The Value of Things

With last week’s post, I was mentioning hue and value (color and dark and light) being a couple of things I think beginning painters struggle a bit with. So last week I touched on hue or color first and if you missed it, I would recommend reading it first here. This week I’m going into value or the dark and light of things.

Where's The Light, What's The Color?

Linda and I took part in judging an art show today. I usually judge one or two a year and while subjectiveness does come into play in the process, there is a skill to think about here.

Taking On A Challenge

This past week I finished my book “Live An Artful Life”, which will be self-published and available later this year.  I will admit it was a challenge for both Linda and me, as anyone who has written anything knows, there are words and then there’s keeping track of all of those words.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction, or Can I?

What do; The Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, Adele – “Skyfall”, Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll”, U2 – “40”, Beyoncé – “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, Queen and David Bowie – “Under Pressure”, and many others have in common? 

Feeling Better Through Art

I ask myself this question. What if there were an international day of creativity? One in which every person, young and old, able and disabled, happy, sad, every race, religion, gender, and position in life, everyone, was asked, told or otherwise made to feel it should be done, created art?

Shows and Your Plans To Do Them

If you are an artist, art shows and exhibits are likely on your radar screen. Shows are in many cases, an essential part of the exposure, sales and awards garnered by you and your art.

Balancing Your Creative Behavior

This topic has been a red-hot potato for me as of late. 30 years ago I started my painting career and there’s a lot that went on to get me to this point in that career.

Happy Independence Day!

The Fourth of July is one of the most artful days of the year. Just think about it, nothing is more freeing to your mind or soul than creativity. Making whatever you want while expressing yourself as you please. Complete independence! Then there’s a patriotic palette of red, white and blue, along with all of those festive and colorful firework displays!

Celebrate this Independence Day with the luxury of knowing you live in a country with protected artful rights! Not everyone can say that, but all of them can appreciate it!  God bless America! Live An Artful Life! Tom

7 Reasons - Painting For Charity

Charity is a good thing and it’s hard to imagine if you are making your way through the art world as an artist, you are bound to be asked to donate your art.

So, Is Your Art a Hobby or a Living?

A hobby or a living? Is this the place where lines get crossed? Something that begins with fun, passively generates a little income, then results in a carefree career?

Is There Greatness Among Us?

Those of us who think in terms of fine art may only think of greatness in the masters of bygone days. Those who make up the history of art and possibly much of the art which inspired us to become artists ourselves. We possibly may think of greatness in a teacher we are planning on taking a workshop from or alike.

How Important Is Art Today?

If Americans were to be given a life survey, maybe one much like a political pole, or one with a number of life questions rated 1 to 100, where do you think the importance of art or the arts would land on the list? Would they choose it over anything that had to do with food, shelter or any facet of survival?

Handmade and A World of Manufactured Goods

In a world filled to the brim with goods manufactured on an assembly line, it’s nice to know there are people like us making things by hand. As time goes on though, I even think almost all of the things still done by hand on an assembly line will year by year become more and more automated.

An Art Legacy

| Thomas Neel

What do you think will happen to your art when you’re gone? Have you given it any thought? Now mind you, I am both speaking of art you have purchased and/or own, as well as art you yourself may have created. It’s something I think few of us prepare for. 

Sometimes You're The Tick, Sometimes You're The Dog

An old friend of mine once told me, sometimes you’re the tick, sometimes you’re the dog.  A wealthy person, you couldn’t imagine him ever being the tick, but it’s how life in business goes. 

Have You Tried Singing?

| Thomas Neel

Sometimes we miss the way we should be creatively expressing ourselves. We rack our brains, painting when we should be sculpting, acting when we should be directing, playing an instrument when we should be singing!

Having Birds in The Bush - is worth two in the hand!

The old saying goes; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It’s a simple statement of actual possession, versus more nearby. It is a bit flawed though, especially when it comes to friends.

What's Your Wheelhouse?

As a working artist, are you all over the place or are you a specialist?  Will you attempt anything in a jack of all trades approach, or do you have a wheelhouse?


| Thomas Neel

This week’s blog post is about inspiration. As artists and artful life seekers, we need inspiration.

Creative Hot Spot

| Thomas Neel

The place that feeds your soul.

This week I’m going to talk about something pretty important to creative types. 

Dreams Are The Parallel You

I know we all have hopes and dreams. Sometimes these hopes and dreams can be thought of as a parallel you, there, walking beside you after having made your hopes and dreams a reality.

The Deterioration of Art

This is not the kind of thing I like to make as a headline, but the world of art is going through challenging times. I think artists everywhere are seeing the shuttering of art galleries.

Reaching For The Sky

When we begin our creativity there are those overwhelming factors that can bring the house down before the foundation is even built.

Your Artful Life Taking Root

You feel it? It’s your imagination in action. It’s inspiration stimulating the inner creative you, and ideas taking root.

Doodling is for the Brain

When I meet creative wannabes, who tell me they have wanted to draw or paint, or even get back to it, but they’re having a hard time, I tell them all the same thing, doddle. There I am, at an art event or even a social evening and someone is either knowing or finding out I’m an artist, the conversation takes a familiar turn.  In front of me becomes someone who admits they’re craving to be artistic, but no clue how to begin.

Breaking With Tradition

Tradition, the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. This description is courtesy of Google. So let me share a thought. Sometimes I dislike tradition, especially when it comes to art. 

Elon Musk

| Thomas Neel

I recently read an article, which I’m sharing with you here, by Kyle Chayka with  Chayka’s article; Elon Musk made history launching a car into space. Did he make art too?, explores Musk’s recent Space X launch, which was not only a technological wonder but became an artistic one too!

Working With Celebrities

| Thomas Neel
As one might imagine, in thirty years of painting commissions for clients, a few might be what we would call - celebrities. All of my clients are important to me, and all have certainly been important and/or notable to someone. But a celebrity is usually one who has a constant audience. They walk into a room with an almost pre announced presence. One where most know who they are and their name, while they might not know anyone’s name. Weird isn’t it?

Working From Photos

In today’s world of painters, certainly tools are an important part of the job. We can also look at tools as technology. Now many artists, especially those that deem themselves as purists, hate the word technology. They think of its use as cheating. Yet many wouldn’t think it was wrong to use a ruler to make a straight line, and whether you like it or not, a ruler is absolutely a simple form of technology. So is a pen, pencil and easer for that matter. They, like most technology, all use science and invention to make a task easier, or more efficient and often more precise.

Are You Having Fun With Creativity?

I used to spend time on the racetrack, cars and motorcycles that is, and it’s known to the experienced, that the inexperienced need to be reminded to breathe. All the going fast and heavy concentration can be so overwhelming that newcomers literally end up holding their breath. They forget to breathe. So, guess what, often they forget to have fun too! They do go hand and hand. Being so focused, and yes, fearful of making a mistake, breathing and having fun become directly affected.

Make Your Point, Your Focal Point

I could make this particular blog post very short or very long, but I’m going to keep it to the point!  Art is simply a form of creative expression.

Creativity - Decisions and Adjustments

Art begins with a vision, but it’s a whole bunch of tiny decisions that make it a reality. If you paint paintings, or dance or sculpt or write, or even act, the completed work is always the process and results of hundreds of small decisions, movements or words. It is their collective being which creates a whole. In a sense, one small change in any one of those decisions is the creation of a new piece of art.

When Frustration Calls

| Thomas Neel

Every artist will find times of frustration. It goes with our world as much as the bliss of being lost in creation. Those times when time itself seems to stand still and we awake from the process of being engrossed in that which we love, and yet the hands on the clock did move, a lot.

There’s Only One Reason To Raise Your Prices

Because you can! Not because you should. Your market dictates your prices, not you. So what do I mean by - because you can? It means because you can and your art will still sell. Not just because you feel like it. You may feel like buying a new car too, and maybe you can technically obtain it through financing. But that doesn’t mean you should, or that you can really afford it, does it?

What Do You Do With Your Ideas?

Ideas are precious and they can also be fleeting. They can come at any moment, and be gone in the next. They can offer the most wonderful opportunity or become an opportunity wasted or lost. An artist without ideas becomes at best a renderer, not a true creator, so not grabbing and tightly holding an idea can be paralyzing.

Learn To Listen To Your Clients

After a career of painting for others, there are just so many lessons I could offer in the service of offering commissions. None though, is as important as listening. When you step into your studio to paint, the simple truth is that while you may have been wonderfully inspired, it is truthfully only you that you are listening to. You are the driving force of creation. You are calling the shots and you have to live with the results.

Plant Your Seeds

A person, no actually more than one person has told me, it must be great to paint paintings for a living. I usually end up saying, yes, I’m blessed to paint paintings, but I have to actually sell them for a living. Blessed is the understatement here, because for some reason my ability to paint paintings is actually fairly equally proportioned with my ability to sell them.

Thank You Creativity

This will be one of the easiest blog posts ever. I’m am so very thankful for good health, thankful for my wife Linda and my family. I’m thankful for faith and wonderful relationships. But trust me, I am very, very thankful for my creative abilities.

Let The Things You Make, Make You!

One of the things I love most about being an artist is that the very nature of the word means I make things. Artists make art. We make music, we make dance, we make drama and we make stories. Many beginners or even emerging artists may not truly think of themselves this way, as a maker of not only things, but thought provoking things of originality and ingenuity, and human spirit.

Trying another Medium

No matter how you found your way to creativity or as likely, how it found its way to you, you have found your creative voice. You are speaking your language, but have you thought much about being multi lingual? Have you allowed yourself to experiment?

The Currency of Meeting People

| Live An Artful Life

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a currency with the faces of every living person on each bill, and just by having that bill you could meet that person? Meeting people is one of the greatest forms of wealth, period. It’s one of the reasons why a person like Oprah, as an example, is to me really so wealthy beyond their dreams and bank account.

Creative Time Of Day

Many artists find that there is a time of day when they are hyper sensitive to ideas and a free flowing mind. For me it’s the morning, just as I’m waking, but still lying in bed. My wife would tell you that I’m an idea guy, always coming up with new things. But first thing in the morning for some reason is the best time of all.

You Make Things

It is not as easy to look inside your mind as it is to look at your hands. The two have a great connection though. Look at them, your hands, front and back. Look at every finger and thumb, at every line and callus. Look at your hands that make things by way of skillful touch, grasp and feel.

What Do You Write On Your Artwork?

So, your artwork is completed, and it’s time to sign it, what else should you write on your artwork? Well first, let’s talk about why you should even sign your artwork! Art is not only a creative thing, it’s a original creative property. You own the rights to this creation and certainly there is no better way in beginning your proof than signing it or making your mark.

Wellness Through Creativity

We all care about health, particularly our health, and some certainly more than others. I have been fortunate to be healthy, but my parents weren’t so lucky. My father had a gene related ailment and both he and my mother were smokers. In the end their wellness failed them. Hidden message here - don’t smoke.

Purging Your Studio

We artists can be like little squirrels trying to hide nuts for the winter. We put things here, we puts things there, we basically put stuff everywhere! It is as if we grow stuff in the way of odd stretcher bars, left over frames, photos, notes and sketches. Between the tools of the trade and the keeping of keeping on, we can be overrun by our own creative selves.

Jump Start! FIVE Inspirational Things You Can Do Today!


Juices not flowing? Need some creative stimulation, ideas and thoughts? Okay, here are 5 things that may put some perk in your percolator!

Signs Of Inspiration Are Everywhere

Look around you creatives, inspiration is everywhere! From the vibrant seasonal colors of spring and fall, to the varied greens of summer or countless earthy desert hues. Nature delivers and not just color, but sounds of the wind, water, birds and all kinds of man made things. Decades of architecture ascend, trees and mountains rise, sunrises and sunsets blaze the sky, as do the bluest blues and clouds of every shape.

Pricing Your Artwork

Possibly the hardest thing an artist will do is find a proper value to put on their artwork, and here in lies a big part of the problem. Most often they begin placing the value solely on the product and not themselves. Listen, I’m going to come right out and tell you, this is a BIG topic, one I plan on more properly covering in my upcoming podcast, but let me try for now to offer a good perspective.

Delivering, Hanging or Placing Your Art

 Delivering, hanging or placing your art in a client’s home or office can offer a wonderful opportunity to get to know your client better and to visualize their art needs, but do not forget that you are providing a service and you better do a good job of it. If there is one thing that has allowed my art business to grow, it is without question providing the service of free delivery and hanging my art. As an artist, it takes me to a whole new level.

Accepting That You Are An Artist!

We artists can be an interesting bunch can’t we? Filled with our quirks and characteristics. One such characteristic can be just defining ourselves as artists in the first place. For some there’s intimidation in the title. That, I’m not worthy, I haven’t earned it, a fear of putting the cart before the horse. Some of this comes from seeing the amazing work of masters throughout history, placed by society in that lofty place they hold in art history.

When Is It Time To Sell Your Work?

Okay, so you have been creating artwork or taking lessons for a year or so and you’re thinking you might like to sell your work.  Is it time?  Boy, this can be a hard question to answer.  I’ve found that sometimes new artists attempt or even successfully sell their work too early and here’s why.  Yes, you may be a protégé, gifted beyond belief, but for the most part you still haven’t likely found yourself, or found your feet in all of this.  Just because you are making art, even art you and your friends like, doesn’t mean it’s time.  

Communicating With Your Galleries

Often artists find gallery representation without even knowing what a gallery's real responsibility is in this relationship.You know your responsibility is to create artwork and get it to them, and it’s easy to assume that their responsibility is to sell it. Frankly, the gallery’s roll is one of representation, which means to show, market and sell your work. That would mean advertise it, promote it through social media, have shows to invite their clients to meet you and see your work.

H2O Oil Paint

They say oil and water don’t mix. Well, it turns out they were a tad wrong about that theory. Over 20 years ago, two very successful artists I knew and represented, largely worked in detail using acrylic paint,. Both over the course of a year made a switch to MAX water soluble oils by Grumbacher.

The Carrot and The Stick

 Are you the old mule, mindlessly pulling the cart in an effort to get the carrot dangling in front of you, while also stepping it up to avoid the sting of that stick at your rear? A friend who published a popular financial newsletter years ago once told me while discussing why people read his newsletter, that people are motivated by two things, greed and fear.

Book Club, Why Not Art Club?

What’s the point of a book being part of a book club anyway. There’s a book, you read it, and then get together with like minded people and discuss it. Hey, that’s a great idea! So, let me ask how many of you have traveled to far away cities, and in the process of doing so you have visited an art museum? I suspect, many of you have. So, there inside are treasures from the art world, all with a story to tell.

Sense of Place

Sometimes creativity comes from a strong sense of place, a good foundation for which you can build on. I happen to be a landscape painter and so my sense of place is ever present in my work. But what is a sense of place? For me it’s a place where ...

Your Studio Is A Launching Pad For Creative Flight!

What makes an artist an artist? Creativity right? Creativity is a bit like hurling a rocket into space. It requires fuel - inspiration, imagination, ideas. It requires energy or something to light the fuel - your burning desire. It requires a trajectory and target - your style, subject matter, narrative. It also needs space - a place for it to be in the universe when it leaves the ground.

The three "I"s of Creativity - Inspiration, Imagination, Ideas

Ever hear of creative juices?  Well, if you don’t have these three things in your creative cupboard, it will be hard to get those juices flowing!  Let’s face it, what makes an artist an artist is action and the action isn’t just a willy nilly movement, it is deliberate movement that gets things done, and done in a way that allows you to reach your goals. 

Is The Sacrifice Worth It?

It was for me. But if you plan to paint what you want, or play the music you want to play or do anything creatively that doesn’t have the typical 9 to 5 paycheck type opportunities - choosing what I’ll call a fine art path, is not an easy one, usually. It is why many also choose to keep their day job, which in many cases can also somewhat resemble or relate to the path they truly desire.

Is your Inventory . . . Selection or Saturation?

From time to time I hear stories of working artists having hundreds of pieces of art on hand from a proliferation of creation.  Can you produce too much art?  It’s not really talked about much.  I can only say this, what seems to be the ever march to learn and love one’s craft, may also work against you in the goal of selling.

Being Commissioned is Providing a Service

I’ve been selling my paintings for 29 years now, and of those 29 years, for over two decades worth I have offered commissions as a service to my clients. I use the word service, because I want you to make no mistake, that is what being commissioned is and customer service is what it is all about.

Whistle While You Work

A cheerful tune of our youth that reminds us to be happy in our endeavors, but if your whistle doesn’t work, there’s always music, podcasts, audiobooks and more to enthusiastically fill your ears with a motivational pick me up.

Do You Watch Sunrises, Sunsets, Both or Neither?

There’s are few things as powerful a jump start for you day as watching the sun rise and fill your surroundings with the energy of light. It is as unmistakable a call to action to get going and make most of your day, as you can have.

There's Nothing Quite Like a Spring Bloom

People often talk about the season of Spring as a rebirth.  Well, yes it is.  But it’s also a magical lesson in color. 

29 Years And Just Getting Started

Saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, is like saying you could have never taught that dog in the first place. Life does work that way. We don’t learn everything we know while we are young. We do, however form a lot of habits. Some good, some bad and habits are often hard to change, especially the bad ones. But life is yours. What you do with it, what you make of it and what you learn when is up to you.