6 Southwest Animals "Desert Dwellers" Paintings by Julie Rustad
Roadrunner, Scorpion, Diamondback, Kangaroo Rat, Ornate Box Turtle, and Northern Mockingbird by Julie Rustad

“Design Without Computers”… Not only was it my first blog post, but it was the start to making a huge change in my life! Although I have always loved to draw and paint, I wasn’t making it a priority. Instead I was designing and creating using my computer. I let my commercial work dictate what kind of art I was creating. Don’t get me wrong – that’s how I made money, but I was really craving something more.

In September 2011, I decided to get more “hands on” with my art. I thought that if I had a blog – it would make me accountable. At first I began posting about a few DIY projects, an illustrated book for my son, but then I fell effortlessly into painting again. OH – HOW I MISSED PAINTING!

I created the goal, “To paint 26 animals in 31 days!” A LITTLE INSANE, but it helped direct my creative energy. I created a list of southwest animals in alphabetical order and started with Anna’s Hummingbird. Having a plan like this made it easy to get started immediately when I had the chance. Whether my son was taking a nap or my husband was watching him – all I had to do was refer to my list to see which animal I would be painting next.

It also helped that I made my painting supplies easily accessible. I used to think that it was a lot of work to get set up, but now I have a box for my acrylic paints, my canvas, and paintbrushes right on the shelf above my desk.

While I paint I listen to podcasts. My favorite one is “Artists Helping Artists” because it provides so much valuable information to Fine Artists, especially newbies like me. The hosts, Leslie and Dreama, are enjoyable to listen to and I find myself using their tips and advice quite often. I feel super productive because I am learning, but also expressing myself by painting at the same time.

Throughout my painting process, I snap photos with my phone. I thought this would be a way to provide a step by step visual. Then I import these into WordPress.

Once a painting is complete, I write the blog post. I try to keep it simple, with lots of the pics that I took.  Then I post it — and then…..look forward to getting feedback! Here’s an example of my step by step posts.

In the past, I had written in my journal, “I need to paint more”….but just writing that, didn’t make it a reality. Although I had the best intentions of painting more often – it wasn’t until I started this blog that it came true! I really like the community feeling from blogging. I share my art and document my process and in return learn about other blogger’s talents, triumphs, and stories. It’s like having a virtual support group.

At this moment, I’ve completed 21 southwest animal paintings with only 5 more to go! I plan to continue to paint for the rest of my life. I am so happy!

To top off all of this love for painting — I have some really fun shows coming up. I am participating in a neighborhood art show in March with two other artists. Here’s the flyer I designed.

3 Artist Show in Tucson featuring Julie Rustad, Jack Busy and Kay Parks

Then in April, I will be the guest artist at the Madaras Gallery in Tucson. This is such an honor, I am so excited!!!! (I will be posting more details on this – so stay tuned.)

I couldn’t have imagined participating in these exciting events 6 months ago. My life has really changed…and I feel like blogging was the catalyst!

Has blogging changed your life too? Please share your story!

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