Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for July, 2012


Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Tomorrow I’ll begin a new series– and I’m excited!

As you might remember, my last series was 100 stories. It was my favorite series, but then I think that everytime. Each series has something a little terrifying and a little wonderful about it. So with the next series I always try to keep the wonderful and eliminate the terrifying.

The wonderful from the last series was the story. I loved the story part of the painting. But after 100 stories, I felt like I’d been in the  past too long. That’s the funny thing about stories. They’re all about the past. And I’d rather be in the present.

See, my life is good. Maybe middle school was awful, but that’s long behind me. It’s my story, but it’s no longer mystory. And I’d rather tell my story. The story of now.

So my next 100 paintings will be stories of the present. They’ll be things that are happening now. Most of the time, the paintings will be paintings of something from that very day.

After three weeks of painted nails and beautiful scenery, I’m feeling rested and ready. I’ll see you tomorrow with a painting from today.


Friday, July 13th, 2012

Last Friday, I completed a series of 100 stories. I’ll be back on August 1 with a whole new series of 100, but I thought I’d catch you up on what’s happened since then.

Never has a week gone by so quickly. Last Friday I finished 100 stories, but I didn’t have time to celebrate because we were very busy preparing the Newmark Theater in Portland for 1000 guests.

People came from 25 countries and the energy was palpable. We were afraid for a few minutes that things were going to fall apart, but they came together perfectly. We actually pulled it off.

And it was amazing.

Monday, I was exhausted. I’d been running on about 5 hours of sleep each night, and running from 6am-11pm for the past three days. My sister Tera, who leads the media team for all things World Domination, and I went for a pedicure to soak our tired little feet.

When the lady asked, as she always does, if I wanted a manicure, my initial reaction was no. I can’t paint my nails because the oil paint bonds quickly to nail polish and it becomes impossible to clean.

But this time, I realized I’m on vacation. I’ll start painting again with a new series of stories on August 1, but until then, I’m going to have pretty nails.


Friday, July 6th, 2012

Today is story number 100. I’m going to celebrate this weekend by hosting a few people here in Portland. But I’ll be back next week to tell you what I’ve got up my sleeve for my next project. (Hint: more stories, different angle.)

A common theme in these 100 stories is my tendency to worry, then discovering that my fears are unfounded. And that’s true for this series as well.

I was worried that I’d run out of stories. But just today I thought about at least three stories that I’d still love to tell you.

Then I worried that you’d get tired of reading my stories. Instead, this series has been my most successful, especially when I look at email responses and replies from you.

But my main worry was about being seen. I was hesitant to put myself out there. I felt vulnerable and ashamed of so many of these stories.

And now, 100 stories later, I’m going to share a little tradition with you. At the end of every series, I’ve painted a self-portrait. I’ve drawn self-portraits on my birthday every year since I was 22, and finishing a series always feels like a milestone. I get better at painting, I conquer a little more doubtful resistance, and I want to acknowledge it.

I’ve never shared the self-portraits with anyone. Many times I even paint over them, because they’re more about the process of painting than the final result.

But since this series is all about letting myself be seen, it seems only right that you should share this process with me.

Thanks for sharing this space with me.


Friday, July 6th, 2012

Today’s story is 99 of 100. I’m winding down this series about my past and thinking more about what happens next. I’ll be looking forward to starting a new series in just a few weeks with you.

As I begin to empty my tubes of paint and look back on this series, I realize a lot of them have been about people who weren’t that encouraging. It’s easy to dwell on the bumps in the road, since that’s what makes a good story, but as I run out of paint, I want to end on a positive note.

In reality, most people are really encouraging. I’ve talked about a few important cheerleaders before, but today just seems like the day to mention them once more. So if you’ll allow me, I’m going to pretend that I’m accepting my Oscar for Best Painter to tell 100 stories.

I’d like to start by thanking my Aunt Judy, who was the first to appreciate my art work, my parents, my high school English teacher Mrs. Jacks, Barbara Miller, Jack Dempsey and all of my teachers in Seattle, especially Michael Friel, John Rizzotto and Gary Faigin. Bo Bartlett for inspiration and encouragement at a critical moment, Chris (always and always), and YOU.

You who have bought my paintings and my book, shared my stories and images with your friends, blogged about me, forwarded my emails and written in to tell me how much you love my work.

I’m grateful for you.

Thanks for being here through another 100 stories with me. I’ll be back tomorrow with a final story.

Limited Palette

Friday, July 6th, 2012
Today’s story is 98 of 100. I’m winding down this series about my past and thinking more about what happens next. I’m looking forward to starting a new series in just a few weeks with you.
Despite Suzanne’s lack of encouragement, I knew I was in the right place. I’d been working overseas, teaching in a small international school for the past four years. My art had been on the back burner, but I’d never stopped thinking about it.And some things worked. I had a moment of tears in my first class with Michael, too. But this time it was one of those moments where I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

It was the first day of class, and we started with a very simple still life setup. Just an apple turned on its side. Michael allowed us to choose our perspective and for some reason, the top of the apple called to me. Michael walked over, and said quietly, “That’s an ambitious perspective. Don’t be afraid to move if you need to simplify and start over.”

Then he walked us through a simple wipe-out technique. We covered our canvas in burnt umber paint, and used a paper towel to wipe away the lighter spots instead of trying to paint the darker spots with a brush. Then we used four colors to build the right tones and shades on top of that.

I remember the moment when my smears of paint stopped being smears of paint and became an apple. It was sudden and quick, kind of like those 3D images that start out as dots, but then coalesce in to a very clear image. Just like that, an apple appeared on my canvas. And I had put it there.

It’s still magic to me. Even years later, everytime a painting works, everytime my brush makes something that looks like it should. I’m still amazed.


Friday, July 6th, 2012
This is the final week of this series. Today’s story is number 97. I’ve figured out what’s next, but first I’m going to host a little conference and go on vacation– but I can’t wait to tell you about it! Stay tuned.

Before I made it to the atelier, I had to complete a year of prerequisites. Each term I took 12-15 hours of classes, and at least one of those classes was always with Suzanne.

Suzanne made me cry on my very first day in her class, and our relationship went downhill from there. And, just my luck, she was appointed as my adviser.

She was full of wisdom like, “That’s a cheaty way to paint.” Or “Your painting looks licky.” I was pretty sure by the tone of her voice that those weren’t compliments, but I kept going.

And honestly, she was right. Every painting I painted in her class was terrible. Maybe it was because she made me anxious, or maybe it was because I was new to figurative work. Either way, I’ve burned everything I every did in those classes.

But at the end of the year, when she reviewed my portfolio, she skipped right over the things that I’d done with her and looked at the paintings from other classes. And the first one on the pile was a sunset painting from my plein-air landscape class.

She held it out at arm’s length and I braced myself.

“Huh. Maybe you aren’t wasting our time here.”

Wha? Was that the glimmer of a compliment? Since she recommended me to advance to the atelier program, I guess she saw something she liked.

I have to say, I don’t think fondly of Suzanne really. In many ways, she’s like Mrs. Gattis in my memory. But perhaps my determination to prove her wrong made me a better painter.

38 hours.

Friday, July 6th, 2012

This is the final week of this series. Today’s story is the 96th story I’ve told you over the past few months, which means I’ve finished 596 daily paintings. I had a brilliant brainstorm this weekend about what happens next, though, so don’t worry. The paintings will continue. 

I thought it was only right to end this series with stories of how I became a painter. You already know that it’s something I had wanted to do for awhile, but it took someencouragement and a bit of fight.

Even then I wasn’t sure I could do it. I knew that I wanted to, but I kept comparing my work to people around me, and mine always fell short.

Until I painted my first palette. It was my first big assignment in the Still Life Atelier. I’d managed to complete all the prerequisites and get accepted to study in a place I’d dreamed of. I had my own little nook with my own easel, my own taboret, and my own still life setup. But there was nothing on it.

The assignment was Trompe L’Oeil and I was stumped. Every other student in the program had chosen their subject matter. All around me my studiomates had elaborately detailed bulletin boards and musical instruments hung on the wall behind their easels.

I wanted something colorful and fun. I wanted something that meant something to me. I was going to spend dozens of hours on this project and there was so much riding on what I chose, it had to be perfect.

In desperation, I hung the palette that I was working with up on the wall. It was perfect.

I loved every minute of those 38 hours working on that painting. Since then, I’ve made a little tradition of repainting that palette periodically. To remind myself of the magic in those tools, and to remind myself that the answer is usually right in front of you.

27, and then 0

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

I love hydrangeas. The flowers are beautiful, and I love the way they change in response to their environment. The acidity levels of the soil can cause the flowers to change color from year to year. It’s kind of awesome.

And that’s why I knew our house belonged to us. The first time we saw it, the hydrangeas out front were exploding with color.

So last summer I couldn’t wait. I kept looking out my studio window and counting the buds. By early July, there were 27 flowers. And they were gorgeous.

But then– disaster!! I came home one day to discover all the flowers were gone. Instead of blue mops of color, I was left with green leaves and nothing else.

My neighbor filled me in. Apparently, he was sitting on his balcony when he noticed a stranger with clippers cutting everyone’s blooms. When he realized what was happening, he called out and they ran. They jumped in to a florist’s van and drove away.

For the past year everything looked a little sad. But just last week, I noticed the first bloom appearing. Things are looking up.

And I’m going to keep a careful eye on them this year.

“Hydrangeas.” 6×6 Oil on Panel. $125