Posts tagged #Coila Evans

Painting a client’s memory: “MEMORIES OF BUTTE”

Last night on the Grammys it was said, ...”music helps tell our stories...”.  I agree, and it is a good way to lead in to this piece: “MEMORIES OF BUTTE”

The song that first fueled this piece (for me) was “Old Timer” by Willie Nelson.

“You fell in love

Back in the day
Can't forget her face
Can't remember her name
She was a beauty
A shining star

Just when you weren't looking she broke your heart.”

I remember the first time I heard this song, standing at the easel, imagining the lyrics to Nelson’s song  paralleling the memory impressed upon me by my client. I felt connected to it, as I painted this ginger haired siren, envisioning her as love lost.  That - I may never be sure of, as I do not know the story in its entirety. But he has mentioned  on many occasions he’s been waiting 40 years for this piece.  As the commission  evolved from the photo shoot, to compositional drawings, to the colour study, and finally, the painting itself; I continued to learn small bits of information that inspired this long awaited piece.  The song he offered part way through to mark that moment in his history was “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. What an interesting light that shed for me!

  “She's been lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream

And she don't always say what she really means“.

I listened closely to the ruminative tone in my client’s voice. His brief sentences, were honest. I often chuckled at his candor, and was warmed by his sincerity as important details revealed the components that shaped the narrative of the painting.  Aside from the flowers in the foreground, every detail in this sparsely composed painting was requested. They are significant to the story shared from the  youthful adventures that have been kept private these 40 years.  The entire piece proved to come together effortlessly. However, nearing the end of completion,  I found myself committed more-so to the feeling the painting could invoke, rather than the accuracy of the source image or original muse. During these final weeks, and even after final approval given, the subject’s face morphed countless times. The hair that eventually draped across her shoulder, left  a strand delicately resting on her forearm. I purposely edited out any jewelry, as they felt distracting. Her hair had grown in length and volume from the earlier drafts. Her gaze shifted from a suggestive “come hither”, to subtly  alluring, and charmingly engaged. Her mouth softened from a pouty perse, and the corner of her mouth slightly turned to a playful, side grin, complimenting the smile I strove to imply with her eyes. Much of this piece was made from combined source photos, and my own recollections of inanimate objects. Of course there are many details that made this commission special and so much fun for me to do. Those, I shall keep to myself, respecting the privacy of my patron. While delivering the painting, he asked if it is hard for me to let go of works when they are finished. The answer is “Yes”. It can be difficult for me to let go of my work. Painting is like sending my own diary out into the world for people to see. It can feel vulnerable. Every mark made with the brush - my voice. 

Truth: I loved painting this piece. I loved the journey it took me on. I will miss the whirlwind of the way the commission came to be,  the way our communication developed, the generous freedom granted for making decisions, and this colourful person I had the great chance to get to know.

I will always hold close the memory of his genuine exclamations, “Coila, she’s beautiful!” and “I’ve been waiting forty years for this!”.  What a gift to be asked to tell someone’s story through paint.

When taking a commission, I often ask about the type of music my clients listen to...a favourite song that marks the moment in time I’m attempting to paint; helping me connect to my subject. I agree, music helps to tell our stories. It helps me tell others’ stories. There are many songs that take me to significant moments in my own life.  I like to refer to these moments as the “soundtrack to my life”, and Willie Nelson’s “Old Timer” is added to mine.

How about you? What’s yours?

“MEMORIES OF BUTTE” 27”x36” oil on custom Artefex linen panel 


The Power of Art - We Didn't Start The Fire

Friday night we met friends out for an hour or two. Short evening. We stopped in to hear people sing karaoke. We sang "We didn't start the fire" by Billy Joel. Not my idea - hubbs. 


As I was singing. A terrible singer mind you. Yes, I'm one of those! But there were back up singers for the melody, so I'm hoping it saved the audience a bit. As we were just going through the motions, be bopping the words out...I could really start sensing the importance of the words and how relevant they are...I've loved this song since I was a kid! I knew it was politically charged. I knew part of the history, but never really looked up any of the history behind the lyrics. Only recently did I learn who the Rosenbergs were. Thanks to 60 minutes.


Of course, the older I get, the more I learn, etc.


With this election and watching the debates, I've been working to figure out who is the best candidate for me. Trying to focus on the issues that are important to me, while looking at what is best for the country as a whole. I do not feel proud to cast a vote for either of these people.


As I read these words aloud, I could feel this innate sense of anger well up..I wasn't merely saying the words, I began to feel them, and by the end of the song when it reads, " I can't take it anymore!"

I yelled it out followed by solid profanity!!

It felt good to get it out! 


I do not feel especially proud that I yelled in public over a microphone. That people were subjected to my rant. But I did.  And maybe I yelled what everyone is thinking or feeling. I did not begin my evening with frustration and feeling disgruntled. In fact I had a terrific day!

But it was obviously in there, as it came rolling off of my tongue like a freight train without brakes. 


I'm left feeling surprised Billy Joel's song didn't have more angst to it. I'm wondering if his producers reigned him in. Those words are so powerful. I feel surprised he wasn't screaming at the top of his lungs during recording. Or maybe he does when he performs. Or perhaps he saves that for himself...when he's in the throes of writing or singing in his own privacy.


This madness! 


This manipulation! 


Testing our values, and logic, and putting us in boxes with labels that would have each of us with different views or opinions turn  on the other like rabid animals. Trying to make us feel inept, bad, corrupt, you know this list goes on. Even urging us to feel the end of the world is surely imminent come November 9th. 


Really?!?! Yes! It's coming all right...maybe tomorrow, or the next day, or 109 years from now. 


Until then I shall continue following the path I'm on. Continue to make a daily effort toward gratitude. I can only hope one day I can make art so powerful it can affect generations to come.


Finally, I'll be more mindful about  singing politically charged songs during election season - ha!







Courage gaining - A slightly edited text to my cousin

So, I think I keep sending you these things (out of love and encouragement)...because I need it too.

I want to's the likely next step in my business. I think of good ideas, titles, etc. But.I.Just.Will.Not.Do.It!!

So weird!

But, I'm gonna try. I must. I'm stepping out on a precipice of faith. Scaling back my massage business by 90% give or take a little. I have no choice if I want to make the gallery work. If I want to make my art give them a fighting chance. The gallery needs it. I need it.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking maybe I'm actually blogging to you. In this moment. Maybe this is how it starts - No need for complexity.

It feels scary, and naked, and vulnerable.

No wifi at home. Because. I'm not supposed to be working from home. This work is meant to occur at the gallery. Ironically, I'm standing in my bathroom (standing. not sitting. Freshly washed hands of course). Meanwhile my nacho dinner (most recent obsession) is getting cold in the microwave. Ha!

Let me know if you would like to navigate these waters together. I hear its good to have someone that can help hold a person accountable in these cases. Ha. Ha.

Dear audience, thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for following my work.   There is more to come in these coming months, as I am very excited about a project that I'll be working on this winter. I sense it is very important, and am grateful for the opportunity to document modern day history.

Please continue to follow as I strive to make the transition from a part time business that I very much love, to another business that I love even more. Artist. Gallerist.

Warm regards, Coila

#LoveWhatYouDo #DoWhatYouLove #Grateful


The Art of Seeing.

The Art of Seeing.

Could it be comparable to the art of stopping?

Perhaps the art of finishing?


Recently, I have been devouring podcasts on art and on business.

I enjoy both as they feed both sides of my brain. A person cannot have one without the other, no?

The artist must create. Create. Their. Very. Best. Work.

The artist must also know how to sell their work.

Sell directly to patrons, OR to a gallery.

As it turns out, I am both artist and gallerist. Responsible for the sales of my artists, for myself and my husband.


But, back to the art of seeing.


I have been listening to this podcast with Quang Ho:

Quang Ho is one of the artists I am most fascinated by. He talks on the art of seeing and what that means. I've listened to this podcast 3, maybe 4 times, in the hopes of gleaning insight to help my work evolve.

The latest and perhaps most important information I have replayed countless times is the bit about light and shadow, and Rembrandt. How the science of light and shadow in 7 steps is so profoundly simple an 8 year old could understand. As I listened  over and over to these steps - I painted. I painted a wonderful start on a self portrait I am working on to meet a deadline.  As I painted, my focus was on letting the value of colour turn the form, creating a more 3 dimensional shape.

I felt so happy with Sunday's  outcome, Monday I completely dove in to painting while listening to Phil Collins Easy Lover and Groovy Kind of if his musical mastery coupled with nostalgia would help me complete this new work. Without too much time passing, I ruined it. I erased, repainted, erased, repainted, and erased and repainted one more time before I picked up a new canvas to lay down a wash of color to tone the back ground. You see, I was painting without any intention...other than from the feeling of spontaneity as the notes of the music echoed through the studio.


I decided that I was having too much fun listening to music, and immediately went back to "studying" via podcast. 


The ability to study a subject, and paint what I see without force, is undeniably the most difficult thing I have tried to achieve. The portrait and the figure (in my opinion) are the most difficult subject to pursue, as the human eye can detect a flaw in one quick second...even if they are not able to pinpoint the flaw, the human eye knows something is off.


While I am certain I will always be on the quest of "seeing", it is plain as day I was well on my way to making the self portrait muddy and over worked. 


Monday's  lesson: know when to start so I can know when to stop. 

                AKA: painting with intention.




After a long conversation Sunday night with veteran artist, Neil Jussila, from Billings, MT, I have finally decided to blog. While his work is completely opposite of mine, I greatly admire his work. He recommended the benefits of journaling...he told me himself he is half way through his 73rd year. Who am I to question such sound advice. After all, this is a practice that has proven to stand the test of time. Without journaling we may not have ever known Anne Frank.


Thank you for reading. Thank you for following my work.


Cheers from ⭕️⬆️, MT.

Coila Evans

Artist. Proprietress.