Posts tagged #Coila Evans Blog

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 


In the New Year of 2018

In this new year of 2018, I am looking back on 2017 with gratitude, and looking forward with optimism while working to enjoy the moments as I figure process and concepts at the easel,  make and develop relationships, while continuing on this path mostly by faith. Sometimes I can hardly believe I get to do this. Artist.

In the very recent 2017 I feel so very grateful for the artworks sold, and works commissioned. It has been so much more than I could have imagined just 3 winters ago, as I set out to dive into making art by attending a 2 week painting intensive in NYC.  I will not list all works sold or commissioned. But I will say about the works commissioned: "I'm learning through painting portrait and special moments it is a great honour that patrons bestow upon an artist to create the likeness of a loved one." It is as great an honour to have works purchased for one's home. With that said, "I thank each and every person who has been, and is currently a part of this artistic journey!  I cannot do this work without the support of so many! Thank you for loving my work and giving it a home!!!"

I will finish with this letter drafted to 2018:

Dear 2018,   Thank you for starting the year off crisp and bright! Thank you for health and family and growth (personal and professional) in 2017! In this new year please bless me with focus and follow through. Bless me with health, and kindness and understanding even when I resist. Bless me with finding the silver linings on stormy days, and be tough when I need a kick to straighten me out...;)  Finally, please bless my work that it may bless others.  ~ Coila

Cheers to you all and a stellar 2018!!


To see regular art updates and art posts please follow the stories on my Instagram account, and/or facebook account. These links are provided at the bottom of this page. Thanks so much! ~ Coila

Official Print Release and Project Announcement

I am so very excited to make this announcement today!!!

This has been “A long time coming!” as they say, and I am very pleased to make you the first ones to know about the official print release of:
“Portrait of a Family Man”!!!!  

Not only am I excited these prints are finally available, but they are also going to help kick off a big project that has been in the works for a year now!!

Coila Evans - Mary's edit.jpg

"Portrait of a Family Man"     
High quality giclee' on acid free, archival paper.  Signed and numbered, limited edition of 100. The dimensions are the exact dimensions of the original piece of art, an approximate measurement of 11.5" x 9.5” not including the border with is approximately 1".

Short back story on the original piece:

Last Summer my husband gave me an idea to make portraits of the local coal miners referenced from historical photos. While the historical photos are still part of the plan; Troy’s idea sparked an even larger idea, and it began with a “call to the public" on Facebook, asking our local coal miners for images of themselves that I may have permission to use for a painting. Out of the several that sent images, Cody Kinn’s photo caught my eye. After months of painting, the study, followed by a finished piece on copper, and an interview with Cody and his young family, “Portrait of a Family Man” was born. As many of you know that piece was selected as a finalist, out of 1800-ish entries, for the 2016 members only Portrait Society of America competition. Of course, I was ecstatic with this amazing news. My work was being recognized by the Portrait Society of America!!!!!  In addition to this being a well received painting in a professional setting, the public has made many inquiries about the availability of prints for “Portrait of a Family Man”.
Great news my friends, my family, my patrons - You spoke, and I listened!

Bigger picture:

Developed from my husband’s original idea, there is now an entire project underway. I am very honoured to have permission granted to document the modern history of Signal Peak Energy, our local coal mine. When I called them with this idea, they graciously agreed.  My goal is to create a museum quality exhibit that will be shown on a local and state level. If all goes well, it will have the opportunity to travel beyond the borders of Montana . Before any of this is a possibility, however, the work must be made. Visiting the mine has been a fascinating process so far, and I am very excited to move forward with creating this body of work.   The number 40 (paintings) is continuously present in my mind. This expansive series, I envision, will be referenced from the combined 800+ photos and countless videos shot while underground.  To date a few studies have been made, and one piece is on the easel.   All of the paintings will be created on copper panels that are custom fabricated to my specifications. You may ask, “Why Copper?” Well, it turns out copper is a highly archival surface withstanding centuries of enjoyment without the cracking most often seen on stretched canvas or linen paintings…even Rembrandt painted on it. Besides the copper lending a luminous finish, the highly archival nature of copper influenced my choice for this age old material.


 The sale of these prints will supply me with the invaluable time and materials needed to get a solid start.
I am very committed to creating this work, and I am asking for your help to get it jump started.
Attached is a link to purchase a signed and numbered, limited edition print of 100for “Portrait of a Family Man”.

Thank you, thank you for all of your support!!!

I appreciate your patronage!!!

***I will be sure to keep you all updated on the progress of this epic project via blog and social media posts.
***Please Note:  The first order for these prints will be turned in on Monday, September 11, with a ship date currently estimated for Friday, September 15th.
Once this print sells out. There will be no more. First come, first served.


Best regards from ⭕️⬆️, MT.
119 Main ST.
Roundup, MT.


Growth - With One Eye

One of my favourite portraits is a self portrait of Pablo Picasso as a young man. Wether it was intentional or unfinished, he created a painting of  himself with only a single eye, and the other a bit smudged out. I had the opportunity of seeing it in person a couple of years ago at the MET. While it was small, it held so much strength.

Below is the second piece I have left, "unfinished", missing an eye. The first was a self portrait I did many years ago...I often wondered why I was attracted by something seemingly left undone.

Perhaps on a subconscious level, I like it because it symbolizes (for me) the human need for growth. We are all unfinished beings.  Or perhaps it means we like to keep something for ourselves, not giving society a full reveal - Guarding our hearts.

Today I decided it was time to place the final mark (my signature) on this 1 - ish year old piece painted from life at the Scottsdale Artists' School with artist Johanna Harmon. Her words of experience continue to echo through my thoughts as I paint. Thank you for helping me grow Johanna - you are an excellent artist and teacher! 


Pablo Picasso Self portait - hanging at the MET


Self portrait study 2009

Vintage family photo

In the last several months I have been receiving more portrait commissions. Yay! :) This particular commission is different than the usual commissions I am asked to do. This image is a detail shot of a work in progress, referenced from a 1920's vintage family photo. In those days it was not uncommon for photographers to use copper materials to produce an image, called a photogravure. Because the portrait was made in that time frame, in addition to it being highly archival, I have chosen to paint on copper.  (side note: I'm very grateful that my patron has absolute faith in my choice.)  I'm finding that painting on this surface changes my technique, keeping the paint smooth and forcing me to change the way I use my medium, as well as using different brushes.  Luckily, I watched a youtube video by Sadie Valeri demonstrating the use of her medium. medium. It was so very helpful, as this is definitely a learning curve for me. My goal in creating this piece is to provide smooth textures on the face(s) while incorporating my preferred, textured, brush strokes as I work out. 

I definitely love this process thus far, and hope to do many more commission works on copper in the future!

This piece has many more hours to go until it is finished. To see this and several other works in progress, be sure to follow me on Instagram, and Instagram stories.  Link/icon is at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions or would like to begin the process for your own commission, please contact me at:

Thanks, and have a beautiful day! :)    ~ Coila                                                                                       

Friendly reminder from 30 works in November

I was looking for an image this morning on my Instagram account, and came across this friendly reminder. Thought this should be on my blog.

This quote (below) from living legend, Howard Terpning, is one of the reasons I'm doing 30 small works in November. While each piece does not visually indicate I've "grown" or "learned more" or "pushed myself" as an artist. Each piece does represent a problem I'm trying to solve. Be it working to put down paint in a limited amount of time to become more efficient with my work, or seeking geometric shapes inside of light and shadow, capturing an expression and likeness on a small surface, telling a story, or simply creating form by referencing a piece of fruit. 
Keep your eye out for the piece that speaks to you most. Let me know if you would like to make arrangements for that piece, as many will be available for the Christmas Stroll on Saturday.

Thank you for following for the past 28 days. 
There are only 2 days that remain, but my efforts in learning will not cease. Cheers to 2 more days! 🎉

"I'll never stop learning. There's so much that I don't know. The day that a painter says he knows it all, that's the day he should hang up his brush. The greatest thing about painting is to trying to improve and learn. That's just about the best part." Howard Terpning. 
Western Art Collector, June 2016.

"Best Nine" from 2016

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.