Book Review: Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Oh. My. God. I stumbled across this book accidentally while waiting for my Lyft ride at a FedEx in San Diego, California. It’s called Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. The title was very catchy and it definitely caught my attention. I didn’t end up getting it on loan at the library until a few months later but it was definitely worth the wait.

From the moment the audiobook started playing in the introduction section, it made me shiver with delight and excitement. I wanted to learn more about what Jeff Goins had to say. His initial story about Michelangelo and debunking the myth of the romanticized view of the starving artist had my full attention. I was only listening to a few paragraphs of the introduction and then had the itching desire to just BUY the book and keep it in my arsenal of business and art marketing tools. Yep, the hook was that good.

While I don’t want to give it all away, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights that made me keen on reading this entire book. In Real Artists Don’t Starve, Goins discussed the 12 Rules of the New Rennaissance, which is what ultimately got me to listen in a little closer than other books I have come across on how to make it as an artist in our contemporary world. And yes, I am ecstatic to go through some of my favorites with you today! Here’s a preview of the list:


1. The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you must become one.

I must admit that I have fallen into the trap of the former mindset. This idea we have about gifts or talents can be initially comforting, but at the same time, a very common pitfall. Too often, I’ve thought, well, art is in my blood and DNA, maybe that’s why I’m good? Most days, that is enough, but when there are times when I struggle with self-doubt and criticism with my artwork, I become crippled and stuck. Practice makes us better, and it ultimately leads to our self-discovery and new ideas. Now, I don’t wait for inspiration to strike me before creating a painting. Instead, I now just pick up a brush as scheduled on my daily calendar and paint away.

2. The Starving Artist strives to be original. The Thriving Artist steals from his influences.

I remember an art instructor in college telling me and my classmates that in art, everything has already been done and nothing is completely new. Everything. I was completely mortified! How was I going to stand apart from my peers, and better yet, my predecessors in the art world? Do you actually mean to say that ideas I have about painting with only one brushstroke and calling it art have already been done??? (*edit: I looked this up and yes, it has. See James Nares) Hearing this statement by Goins was thought-provoking and also very freeing. I don’t have to feel pressured to create something entirely unheard of to be recognized as an esteemed artist worthy of attention. I can turn to my inspirations and influences to create something multi-faceted, intriguing, and meaningful. I love this!

10. The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns his work.

Yes, yes, a thousand times Y – E – S! Reading this statement gave me so much validation on my stance about selling my original paintings. Friends and patrons have constantly asked me if I am selling my original artworks, and yes, to a certain degree I am. However, I tend to keep most of my originals (at this time) because I am creating a body of work that will be important to make a collection. I’m not simply hoarding my works to myself because I can’t let go of them. I am preparing for a future endeavor that will be greater than my wildest dreams imaginable. When I set goals, I go big, but with the SMART acronym in mind–specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. And looking back at my track record and notebooks filled with yearly goals since 2013, I’ve been pretty good at keeping myself in check and following through! And finding the right patron who appreciates my work and my background as an artist/doctor has always been worth the wait.

11. The Starving Artist masters one craft. The Thriving Artist masters many.

So much this–this is me in a nutshell! I don’t believe I have ADHD, but sometimes, I do wonder whenever my creative brain just wants to do all the things all at once. Then I realize, nope, it’s just my anxiety. 😛 All that aside, I do enjoy learning for life and that goes along with art-making as well. I love picking up new art materials from the art store and figuring out how to incorporate them into my current art process. For instance, I recently learned woodburning, making digital illustrations, and creating custom templates/webpages/business cards as a freelance artist! I not only enjoy learning about how to do them, but also make an effort to learn how to do them well. Thanks to my endless blogging, tinkering on-and-off with websites and Adobe Creative Suite addiction, I can easily explore these other paths of art-making and creative processes and relate them back to my work.

12. The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art.

Alright, as a recovering starving graduate student in the past 6 years, I have been programmed to scrimp and save for tomorrow like I’ll always be in student debt or there’s not gonna be any jobs forever. Since I became a part of the real world and working class, my idea of money has somewhat stayed the same. But you know what? Goins has a darn good point and his view on how money fits into the thriving artist’s life has changed my views on this dramatically. So much so that I have decided that this is my new mantra for 2018 and on–make money to make more art. I am fortunate to be employed and receiving a steady income while I fulfill my artistic goals on the side. This allows me the stability and ease of mind to freely make artwork without the nagging pressure of selling or producing work in order to eat, afford gas for my car, or pay my mortgage. I now see the value in seeing money, not as an endgame and ultimate reason to make art, but as a tool or resource that allows me to keep making art. By thinking about money as a means to create more art, it not only fuels your work but allows you to think bigger and better each time around. Money is ephemeral, much as we’d like it not to be so, and since it comes and goes, we should stop chasing it like those waterfalls. Instead, chase ideas, new techniques, color palettes, learn from new influences and let the creativity flow. Humans are social beings by nature, and the more you exude a deep, sincere interest in your art-making and share it with the world, the more you gain others’ interest (and also hopefully their greenbacks).


Overall, I appreciated all the examples of contemporary artists/entrepreneurs Goins provided throughout the book, such as Jay Z, Dr. Dre, Michael Jackson, and so on. The material was very approachable and an easy read. Each chapter was more motivating than the last, and I found myself taking notes and asking myself some questions about how each thought applied to my art-making and business plan. So, if you are at all interested in Goins’ book Real Artists Don’t Starve and his take on how to make it as a thriving artist in today’s world, this is definitely the book for you!


Artists Supporting New Artists!

Enjoyed this post or my art? Click below to support me and my art-making adventure. 

If you are an artist or an artist-in-the-making, it truly helps me when you use any of my links to get your art materials and other goodies. I’ve personally selected my favorite places to shop for the best quality & affordable art materials and want to share them with you. That’s why I always shop at Blick Art Materials and Amazon for my art supply needs.

Brand NEW

Happy new year, everyone! 2018 is off to a nice, easy start for me, and I hope that it is the same for you, too.

Adobe Spark-26

I am in awe of how incredibly eventful the past year has been for me. It’s been a wild hayride getting to start my own art business and straight up getting to the finish line with my licensure for clinical psychology. I am ready for what is due to me, from all the years of hard work, troubles, tears, and growth. I’ve got lots of mini side projects to come, so be sure to subscribe to my blog and my mailing list for the latest updates.

I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if it weren’t for the unwavering support of some outstanding human beings. If you have ever supported an artist and bought their work, you are a rock star.


To celebrate these individuals, I decided to send my art patrons some holiday goodies in the mail. The response has been a giant wave of hugs! I am so full of love from you guys! Thank you, thank you! I just want to create more for all of you and make this world a brighter place filled with mindful art.

If you haven’t already gotten yours, head on over to my website and subscribe to get a FREE art calendar each month. That’s right, EACH MONTH! Print it big, small, as many times as you please. I think the best things in life are free, why not create more to love?


Artists Supporting New Artists!

Enjoyed this post or my art? Click below to support me and my art-making adventure.

If you are an an artist or an artist-in-the-making, it truly helps me when you use any of my links to buy your art materials and other goodies. I’ve personally selected my favorite places to shop for the best quality & affordable art materials and want to share them with you. That’s why I always shop at Blick Art Materials and Amazon for my art supply needs.

Get 20% off Blick orders of $79 or more, plus $35 free shipping! Use code CELM. Offer expires midnight (CST), Saturday, January 6th, 2018. Exclusions apply.


Art Commissions Explained

The holidays are just around the corner! What are you getting your loved ones? Are you all maxed out on new ideas and things to get someone who already seems to have everything and anything their heart desires? If only we can give the people we love aspirational hopes and wishes, such as peace, unity, and hope. Well, I’m not saying that I can actually deliver on those things…(I’m not Santa, last time I checked? And does Santa even fulfill these sorts of wishes??) but I’ve got something close to it!

Instead of buying nifty sale goods that will be used maybe once, or purchasing the next great mobile phone and only to be replaced by another the following season, why not give your loved ones something that is unique, from the heart, and something they will cherish for years to come?

And that’s where I can help! Art commissions are by far my favorite part of being a creative artist! 🙂 It gives me the wonderful opportunity to work alongside YOU and help you create a one-of-a-kind artwork that is timeless and meaningful that will NEVER go out of style. As an abstract painter and a licensed clinical psychologist, I specialize in painting about feelings, fond memories, and personal life experiences–things that are difficult to express in words alone or any ready-made object. The good, the bad, the ugly–I’ve seen and heard it all! I’m here to listen and ready to put your vision on canvas.

Interested in an art commission but too shy to ask? To shed some light on my process, this is what I need from you:

  1. Price range for art commission
  2. Proposed size
  3. Material (e.g., acrylic on canvas; watercolor on paper; etc.)
  4. Theme or idea for painting
And that’s basically it! I’d love to collaborate with you on your ideal artwork.  Get in touch with me and reserve a spot on my waitlist! Looking forward to working with you soon!

Otonarashiku Naru

Hi all! ♥️

I recently completed an art commission for a dear friend and I must say it is definitely one of my all-time favorites. This latest piece is titled Otonarashiku Naru–meaning “becoming like an adult” in Japanese. He wanted me to document in 2-dimensional color and imagery a pivotal timepoint in his life that has marked his tremendous personal growth. I was so excited to get started with this project that I had taken countless notes on what he envisioned it to be like. I’m glad to have been able to learn so much about my friend’s experience and be the one to help see it told on canvas.

The painting’s color palette was dominated by shades of cobalt blue, cobalt teal, cerulean blue, cadmium oranges, burnt sienna, and burnt umber. The brush strokes were all fully intentional and organically placed in moments all over the canvas. The effect of swift, steady sweeps created by the mixture of wet and dry brushwork gave the image a depth that could only be made with patience and time.

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But for this art piece to make more sense to viewers who are better in learning via multi-modal capacities, it would be worth noting that the artwork was further guided and inspired by the beloved quote below from Haruki Murakami:

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.

-Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

As you can see, there is a lot of emotion, movement, and force applied to this piece. The twists, turns, and crashes continuously propel the viewer to shift their glance from one corner of the painting to another, creating the effect of an inner conflict. The colors–although appearing to be complementary, are caught in a dynamic dance that appears to be struggling to wash away the grit and grime, hoping to gain control.


Otonarashiku Naru (2017). 30″x30″, Acrylic on canvas

This. I cannot reiterate enough how honored I am to have had the opportunity to learn about the most difficult time in a person’s life. I get asked tons why I pursued clinical psychology if all I really wanted to do was paint or do art. And to each and every one of them, I have always said, that my passion and interests in art and psychology go hand-in-hand. I love learning about people, what makes them unique, and who they are today because of their experiences. I love art and the ability to convey something ineffable (ie., feelings) in a way that transcends all spoken languages. My passions fuel each other and create a synergistic effect that is always renewed and continuously perfected over the years. I guess I just wanted to say that I am grateful to be able to be able to do both. ❤

So with that, if you or anyone you know is interested in some mindful, abstract expressionist artwork, let me know! I would love to work with you within your budget range, no matter how big or small. When it all comes down to it, my ultimate goal is to create artwork for others that is purposeful and cherished.

Design with Mindful Intention

When most people look at paintings, the immediate thing that usually happens is that they try to figure it out and make sense of it.

What is it?

What am I looking at?

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This is especially true for abstract art. In my observations and growing understanding of this very human characteristic, I’ve taken this notion and incorporated it into my art-making process.

When I paint, I begin from a place of mindful intention and awareness. I paint what speaks to me from within and go on an adventure with my paint and brush.

And then it hit me.

What if my paintings embraced this phenomenon of making people stop, think, and observe?

In itself, this is a practice of mindfulness. This is meditation. Mindful art is a great way to infuse your busy, daily life with a conscious reminder to stop, think, and observe.

Mindful art is a wonderful way to beautify your surroundings in an intentional and purposeful manner. Mindful art is key to helping our minds reconnect with our surroundings and come back to the present moment.


With that, I’m thinking of new ways to create a movement of mindful art. If you’ve got any great ideas, I’d love to hear from you! Send me your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂



Back to basics

I’ve put away my palette knives after two whole years of using them primarily to make lines, cuts, and texture on my paintings. I never knew I’d love using knives (of all things!) to express myself on canvas. It was pretty fun until I just got tired of the angst and grime in my work. But now, I’ve figured out a way to use it in moderation and as a complement to my methodology. While my paintings will hopefully never have to be as dark as it used to be, I’m able to employ what I’ve learned to my advantage and add layers of depth to my work.

Here’s some early research and trial for a new art commission I am working on.

This week, I was so excited to finally spend a whole day painting at my new art studio at The Compound Gallery in Oakland!

Not quite done yet but will be tackling it further this coming week. Looking to add more shades of brown and tone down the oranges. Thoughts?


New art project

Canvas stretching! Not what I had in mind but oh, well. I guess this means I should go back to reading for now. I inadvertently bought the wrong size canvas cloth for my new art project, which was super annoying! I rarely go elsewhere for my materials and usually go to Blick Art for my art stuff, but I was under a time crunch and thought, meh, what the hell? An art store is an art store. BIG MISTAKE. So I drove out to the nearest other art store to purchase the cloth and guess what? It was the wrong size and to my dismay, when I asked the staff member a question, she said, “Oh, I don’t know anything about stretching canvases” right after she handed me the cloth. O.o I should have known to trust my spidey senses then and there.

Never again!

I’m happy to say that I later went to Blick Art to get what I needed. And I’m so so glad I did–I just wish that there was one closer to me.

Check out the awesome stretcher bars I bought:



Luckily, YOU don’t have to deal with what I just did. Blick Art is currently having a huge sale and as a Blick Art affiliate, I’ve got you. Click any of the links below to get your offer:



❤ happy art making!