do Artists just want to have fun?! a psa.

I was on my way to Kauai and on the plane next to me was a husband and wife–both engineers. It came up that my husband, Mark, is an anesthesiology resident. That very much impressed them as all her kids are also in the medical field.

The lady asked me what I did for work. I said boldly, "I'm an artist!".

She says, “Oh. So he gets to work really hard and you just get to *hand flip* have fun?” 

Oh, I so wish I had a better response. I was just taken extremely off guard. I felt ashamed so I reverted back to what I always say when I want to sound “accomplished” or to be taken more seriously.

“Oh..erm...well...I am also a graphic designer! That’s my real job.” 

“Oh” she says, “That’s nice. My cousin does that - brochures and pamphlets and those sorts of things?”

Yes. Sure. Pamphlets and things…

Clearly ANYTHING in the creative field has been deemed less than and therefore, only for slackers.

She went back to her crossword and I reflected on everything that just happened.

Hey world. We have got to stop thinking that when someone says they are an artist they are doing it in the name of FUN. I do not do art for FUN. It is my job, calling and vocation. Do I sometimes have fun in my job? Yes! And I hope to God you do too at times in your job.

I am pursuing this work because I believe my art matters to the world. It is a vehicle for me to visually communicate my deepest self with the connections I see in the world around me. To offer a space for vulnerability, to process grief, to challenge societal norms and structures and to connect with my creator.

We need art…so we need artists.

Please do not demean this field of work because it doesn’t fit into the typical structure of what you think is a “good” or “accomplished” job.

Please do not think artists do this work because we want to goof off and pursue the easy life.

Please do not worry about your artist friends and loved ones because they don’t make as much money as you. Trust me, we are the most resourceful types on the planet. We figure it out. This is hard work. It is soul work. And it is GOOD work.

I am so lucky to be at a place in my career where I am so sure of what I’m doing. I am so grateful to have a spouse, a family, and friends who are 150% in support of me. Many people do not have that kind of support. We need to all do a better job of valuing artists and supporting the arts in our communities. It is truly what makes the world more vibrant, more colorful, and a more human, spiritual place to live.

Now back to my new friend... She was sitting in the window seat, my coveted seat where I take all my aerial photos for my work, and she didn’t open the window one time. It was in that flight over that I was reminded yet again of the importance of what I do. As an artist and within my work specifically, I get to open those eyes of those who wish to not see how that window. I get to encourage people to look down at the world below them and around them as a beautiful work of art. As a necessary part of our human flourishing. Because as we all know to be true: 

“The EARTH without ART is just EH.” 

So let’s get to it, artists. Take yourself and your work seriously. It matters.

And lest we forget…we are in this together so let’s keep building each other up, not by competition but collaboration.

Inspiration behind each "Let Them Illuminate the Lands" Painting

When my sister, Julia, passed away suddenly 4 years ago, I found myself spending a lot of time in airplanes crossing the country to see my family. From 40,000 feet above, anxiety, fear and grief became less consuming. From this perspective, the contrast between the natural and human-made landscapes sparked wonder and curiosity.

With my feet were firmly planted back on the ground, I started paying more attention to everyday beauty. I witnessed the tension existing between native, alien, and invasive plants in urban spaces.  From trees that sprout like weeds between buildings, to ancient cactuses on road sides, to majestic palms – each plant has a story and a place in the world.

These shifting perspectives, between the grandiose and the mundane, find their way into my paintings. Beginning with a photograph snapped from the window seat of the plane, the scene, however dynamic, serves as a backdrop to the foliage found in the area. From there, I create layers using different mediums and bold colors to depict the diverse elements of each landscape - from tiny roads and buildings to large-scale flora - pushing and pulling the focus for the viewer.

Just like the plants, each painting has a story. They are seasons within my own journey of healing, a journey I now get to share with others. I hope to share these perspectives, offering a different way to view where you live, where you travel and how you engage with both the natural and urban structures that surround us.

Below are the inspiration photographs behind each piece. To explain the personal story behind each painting, I wrote poetry for each one that you can read in this post.


Aerial view of somewhere over Texas

Aerial view of somewhere over Texas

A tree from my backyard in San Antonio, TX

A tree from my backyard in San Antonio, TX


Aerial view of Mexico City

Aerial view of Mexico City

Cactus from Mexico

Cactus from Mexico


Aerial view of New York

Aerial view of New York

Fig Tree

Fig Tree


405 freeway in Irvine / Costa Mesa

405 freeway in Irvine / Costa Mesa

Fan Palms

Fan Palms


Docks of New Jersey and San Diego

Docks of New Jersey and San Diego

Strange tree from the San Diego Botanical Building

Strange tree from the San Diego Botanical Building


Composite of different landscapes

Composite of different landscapes

Plants of Kauai & San Diego

Plants of Kauai & San Diego


Aerial view of Vacation Island & Mission Bay in San Diego

Aerial view of Vacation Island & Mission Bay in San Diego

My front porch view of fire plants, jacaranda tree and yellow flower tree in San Diego

My front porch view of fire plants, jacaranda tree and yellow flower tree in San Diego

Poems for "Let Them Illuminate the Lands"

A favorite part of the “Let Them Illuminate the Lands” reception was how people engaged with the work.⁣⁣⠀

I created little booklets to accompany the viewer as they walk around the room. They are filled with poems along with the location of the aerial view and plant specifics for each piece. They point to the very personal side of this work – dealing with the loss of my sister, the grief and the healing I encountered while flying back and forth to see my family. ⁣⁣⁣⠀
They are listed from the first to the last painting in the series to see my process/progress. ⁣⁣⁣⠀
I even got to read these poems allowed in the space! Intimidating, very vulnerable, but of course, healing. ⁣

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Let Them Illuminate the Lands: Reception night

It’s been a week and a half since my show and I’m still trying to process it all. In fact, following the show, I immediately went on a farm vacation with the Paulick family. We got to rest, disconnect, connect, feed horses and one squirly goat named Jasper. It was much needed and a great way to soak in all the feels from the week before.⁣⁣⁣⠀
Everyone is asking me how I'm doing, how I felt about the show. Well, the art show reception was one of my favorite evenings ever. Of all time. ⁣⁣⁣Going into the evening I had fears of having a vulnerability hangover the next day. And while that was still a tad bit present, the overwhelming feeling was GRATITUDE. I couldn't have asked for a better time.⁣⁣⁣⠀
I was blown away by everyone’s presence, how they engaged with the work and with me and each other. The food and wine people brought, the beer Mark made, the stunning, surprise floral arrangements by Anne Grob, the twinkle lights outside and one heck of a curator, Alyssa, made the evening pure magic. It was an all-time great experience to see all the paintings together and share stories and poems about each one in one of my few spontaneous artist talks. ⁣⁣⁣⠀
I think Mark said it best when he said, "If you really want to know Molly - tonight is the night". I put it ALL out there. Thank you for receiving what I had to share and say. It was very healing and filled me to the brim with joy.⁣⁣⁣⠀
I’ll post more details from the show and the installation soon. But, for now…A HUGE, GIANT, ENORMOUS THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who came and showed your support and purchased paintings (!!!) and prints. And thank you to everyone from afar who sent me their good wishes! These words barely express my gratitude. 

Select photos of reception below! For a full gallery, click here - A lot of friend shots are in that folder.

Inspired by: Anne-Sophie Tchiegg

I’m loving this French artist, Anne-Sophie Tchiegg: Inspired by her colors, abstract landscapes and plant life, full color field of vision, bold brushwork, intricate line work.

Her colors remind me of the impressionist period painters - a bit old world, bold, rich, and muted. There’s nostalgia and whimsy in her work that I so desire in my own work. I pulled some of my favorite colors out of her paintings and lo and behold…this first set of colors is the exact same as this post. go figure! I guess I have a color palette I’m drawn towards.


We keep dancing through the dark

Yesterday was Julia’s would be 33rd birthday, October 25th.


For those that don’t know, my sister Julia was killed in a drunk driving accident July 7th, 2015.

She had a tattoo on her foot of the Robyn lyrics “I keep dancing on my own”. A mantra she chose to live by after she pulled through some really tough years in her life. 

Naturally, after Julia died we all (25 of us) got “I keep dancing” tattooed on our bodies somewhere. Since she died, Robyn’s music has been a solace for us and a reminder to keep dancing even though our bodies and souls feel so tired from yet another year without Julia.


The ink we all wear together reminds us that we did (and will continue to) dance out of darkness.


Dancing through pain doesn’t mean ignoring it or slapping on a joy bandaid. The very act of dancing requires putting everything out in the open, being vulnerable, and acknowledging every part of you that hurts as well celebrating the very act of being alive. Julia taught us this…and so did Robyn.


Today, October 26th, Robyn came out with her long awaited album, Honey.

The date coinciding with Julia’s birthday is not lost on us.

Robyn’s album comes out after 8 years of a deep, dark period in her own life. More on this here. 

Her album and the tracks “Missing U”, “Because it’s in the music” (lyrics below) and “Honey” especially reflect on what it means to dance out of darkness. And for those of us who know exactly what that feels like, this album seems to be written just for us and will no doubt usher in a new phase of our own healing.


Happy album release day, Robyn. We can’t express how much you and your music mean to us. Thank you for giving us music we can dance to, feel to and heal to.

Happy birthday Jules. we’’ll keep dancing for ya…and for us.

We know you’re right alongside us, donning your sassy grin and booty shake.

Because in dancing, “the residue” of you is still so sweet.

On Home & Harvest

In September, another piece of mine was accepted into the “Home and Harvest” show at the Ashton Gallery.

And you know what!? I’m very proud of myself! I can say that, right??


But for realsies, I thought the show’s theme highlighted what I’ve been learning about lately: how to truly rest, embrace stillness, hibernate when needed, be patient in the regrowth, how to harvest the ripe fruit in my life - literally (looking at you heirloom tom toms)  and spiritually.

The title of my piece, “Holding the Universe Together” is pulled from a line out of a novel by J.D. Salinger, A Girl I Knew:

She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.

It sang to me because the piece is both carnal and ethereal. There’s calm but also a lot going on in the layers and scratching. It’s dark but there’s beauty. There’s movement but areas of rest.


I’ll be frank with you though: I did not expect to even enter this show, let alone get accepted. After all, I’m just learning about this new abstract style! When my teacher Kate thought it was a strong piece, I just decided to enter. It was as simple as that!

It made me realize I’ve often thought *too* much about entering shows.

Basically, if what I’m working on is not the most brilliantly beautiful piece I’ve ever created and there’s not this deep dark concept behind it, I just don’t feel comfortable showing it anywhere. However, at Art on 30th , they encourage all their artists to enter shows as it’s just a part of the rhythm of being an artist. They explain that it’s good to put ourselves out there as it helps us create more work. I couldn’t agree more and now I’m actually living out their advice.


I really loved my painting, but was it the best thing I’ve ever done? Probably not because that is incredibly suggestive! It was a different style to what I consider “my style” (see this post). But, as an artist, I get to smash those invisible barriers that hold me back from trying new things. Hurrah!

I invited my friends to come along, but I feared the questioning looks and thoughts of “I like her other stuff better”. In all honesty, some of my friends were confused by the piece as abstract doesn’t speak to them like representational art does. Others loved it. You know what’s even better? All those reactions don’t actually even matter in the end.

My job as an artist isn’t to please every single person or to perform for people. What sad, pathetic and limited art that would be!! What mattered that night was providing a space for people to show up, appreciating all kinds of art and having conversations about it. I was able to explain how I created this piece, what the process was like, why I chose this color pallete and then some. That was a real highlight for me.


What a joy it was (especially in this day and age where a majority of the art we see happens over a screen) that the art show gave us all something to talk about and react to IRL!! What spoke to us? What do we like? What don’t we like? What’s this painting about? How does this make us feel? Art is so much about community, conversation, beauty, sadness, and the complexity of being human. And for that reason, I’ll keep putting myself out there.

I’m grateful for art, in the of simplest ways. To create it, to show it, to talk about it. I love celebrating the creativity in one another. This show’s opening was a way for my friends to celebrate with me! My friend Carly - one of the biggest celebrators I know - bought a confetti popper which I think captures the night - and my painting - fairly well.

And yes, my outfits continue to match my paintings serendipitously. 🤷‍♀️ That’s another story for another time.

An ode to learning a new style

Every Tuesday since July, Ive been taking an abstract art class at Art on 30th. I’ve been loving it, but I would be lying if I didn’t mention how extremely humbling it has been to learn a new method to painting.

Art on 30th teaches abstract art and if you’ve ever ventured into creating your own abstract art, you can imagine how difficult it would be to teach. However, they do a fabulous job and the owner Kate is God’s gift to the arts community in San Diego.

The first class I took was Beginner Abstract Expressionism. It’s all about putting shapes of paint on a canvas, layering, taking away paint, adding more paint, making textures, making wild marks, using expressive brushwork, glazing, using fluid matte medium, laying down bold colors, and creating rest areas.

This is NOT how I was taught how to paint. Even now as a designer, I see how my designer mind influences the way I painted before this class began. I’ve always started out with a basic plan, a sketch and then fill in the details. Occasionally I’ll come up with some expressive brushwork but that’s only after I’ve meticulously cut out satellite images, layered it onto my photographs and got a general composition down. (See this post on my process).

In the beginner class, we did what any artist learning a new style does: get inspired by artists you enjoy and copy their work. This helps the artist to focus on technique & composition. It helps to see how people pair colors together and how they layer. It’s basically like being a detective or simply using training wheels. I really liked the examples I chose and was pretty surprised by how they were made.

By Artist Heather Day

By Artist Heather Day

My copy and interpretation

My copy and interpretation

I really enjoyed the “copying” process as one of my strengths as an artist is color mixing and copying in general. That’s actually how I learned to paint in Junior High. However, I knew the challenge would be once I was coming up with my own marks, colors and composition.

Now that i’m in the intermediate class, I’ve felt tension with wanting to incorporate representational imagery into my abstract paintings…trying to blend this new approach to art making with one i’ve done my entire life. I’ve come up against some rigid habits in my creative process that are fighting against the free flowing wild child I’ve been learning to release. She’s crying out but I need rules! concept! structure! ah!

I’ve painted and repainted paintings…mostly because I have learned through this entire process to not fear the outcome, to embrace failure. To simply, keep painting and never give up. Keep adding more layers and see how each layer adds depth to the next. However, I find frustration to be near at hand and haven’t learned when to just..stop.

These paintings below? Ya…they are all painted over with white paint. LOL.


Basically, I’m learning how to die to the pride of my style I’ve been focusing on for the past 3ish years. I know that might sound dramatic, but I have grown so comfortable with it. Almost stagnant because it’s what the “masses” enjoy. I’m not saying I’m abandoning it, but I am saying that I won’t be the same artist when I’m done with these classes. A new portal has opened up for me - one of freedom and free flowing paint. The act of painting itself has brought new levels of joy to me I’ve been missing for so long.

So do I consider the paintings above to be failures? I guess so. Am I bummed about that? If this were me before these class began, I would have said hell yes and probably quit it all together. But now, I liken these failures to being just another step in my creative process.

I love that I’m able to be in a place of unleashed creativity and allowing failure to happen. In our Instagram obsessed culture, we see all these incredible artists and designers and think we are not living up to our potential and we want to be good like yesterday. What we don’t see are all of their own failures and years of practice. Because I’m not on Instagram anymore (not saying it’s bad), I see life in a much slower way. It’s just little by little that we build our portfolio of work and it’s not going to be “instant” like it may seem sometimes online. Like Thomas Edison says: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” I’m still learning, growing. stretching and allowing myself to not being very “good” at this right now.

What a lesson in life itself.

What I'm reading - Fall 2018

Here’s a list of books I’m reading / read / enjoying as of September 2018. As I read and finish the books I’ve enjoyed the most, I’ll keep updating and posting them.

What I’m reading always has something to do with the art I create - it is always a fabulous resource for inspiration obvi. I love making visual connections through someone else’s concept or story. art on art on art.

My hope for listing them on here is to help me keep track of them all and overtime, hopefully see some themes in my work.

And it’s really a way for me to remember what I enjoyed from the library!



Currently reading:


From Sketch to Show!


I thought it would be fun to show you the progression of a piece entitled “Relish” that was accepted into the group show “Creamsicle” at Art on 30th! 

I alway enjoy when an artist shares their whole process - from inspiration to final piece so here’s my attempt at showing you my process.

Below is the finished piece, Relish!


The first step to this painting was the inspiration, And sometimes inspiration strikes right outside my front door! This is one of my favorite views and is the first sign of summer! The purple jacaranda tree, the bright yellow flowers, the orange yellow green vibrant fire sticks and the bright blue sky. I love the entire field of vision and when you put your eyes out of focus, you just see globs of color. 

the “Creamsicle” show theme was all about artwork that celebrates summer and/or uses the color cream so what better way for me to commemorate the first sign of summer than with a painting that captures it!


Once I knew I wanted to capture this view somehow in a painting, I thought about what kind of aerial views would work well and also celebrate San Diego summer. I snapped a picture of pacific beach / mission bay from the airplane a while back that I’ve always wanted to use for its land formations and waterways. I knew it would be the perfect backdrop.


The next step I took was to narrow in on my color palette and composition. I set my sketchbook up outside and simply looked at the colors in my front yard. Then proceeded to paint the colors I found in the “wild” and liked how the colors came together. 


Ready to go with my new idea, I printed up the saturated, black and white photo at Staples. I pasted the photo onto my previously constructed wood panel with modge podge and gel medium. I bought a “San Diego from Above” book from my local used books store, Blue Stocking. I decided to use the ocean images - I loved all the different colors of blue.


And now for some paint color! Most of my paintings, I start with blue. It's soothing, calming and I feel like I can breathe just a bit before launching into the larger composition. It acts as the life source of my paintings like water is to our bodies, plants and natural landscapes. 


After I painted the blue, I laid out the composition with the plant-life I decided to paint. Then I proceeded to pull in the landscape and this is where it got really fun! This part was all about playing with color, composition and perspective. As much fun as this part of the painting process is, it can also be extremely frustrating when it just doesn't feel right and I risk overworking my painting. It's all a part of the painting dance.  I think I'm growing in letting the process just happen verses get frustrated when I'm frustrated. 

After the ups and downs, I always find a flow and can see the finished result then I just go for it until the end. People always ask me if I really know when it’s done. My painting teacher has a good rule for that. She says “When the painting sings to me, that’s when I know I’m done.” To a slightly abstract feeler like myself - that makes perfect sense. To someone else that might not be the answer they really want to hear. Oh well!


Once I feel like the painting is complete and it’s fully “singing”, I finish off all the little details that make it gallery ready. I ended up painting the sides of my panel white, and taped the sides so I could make the edges crisp and professional. This is where the super detailed side of my comes out - very different from when I'm free flowing and painting big bold strokes!


And here it is hung up at the show! I really loved how it looked with the entire show. All the other paintings were beautiful and so summery!

The show itself was so fun. I had a lot of my community here in San Diego show up as well as my sister and mom. There was pizza, wine, popsicle cookies and other yummy treats. I got to meet some other artists and felt so happy to be in that space. I'm excited for more events here!

Oh and I also matched my painting 🤪.


Overall an incredible evening and it's fun to see the whole process from start to finish!