Posts tagged #MONTANA ARTIST

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.



On this day 13 years ago, It was a Monday, and Crow Fair had wrapped up. Recently back from his big weekend, and anxious to hit the ground running for the work week, the hubbs wrestled with the idea of making time to drive the 50 miles to Billings to come meet me.


Thanks to the coaxing of my Aunt Christine, he agreed to meet her niece.


We met for a beer at the Rex, went on to enjoy shuffleboard at the Rainbow, and wrapped up the evening sitting at the end of a beautiful tapas table he had only just built for the newly relocated Walkers Grille.


I'll never forget how he reached out to grab my hand as we walked down Montana Ave. or how he complimented my feet. You may laugh, but it meant the world, as I've always felt insecure about my long and skinny size 10s.


We went on to enjoy 2 more dates, out of the 4 days I was in Billings. The final day he ate dinner at my grandmother's house, I met his parents, saw the space we now live, and went on a horseback ride. On that final date I knew he was "the one". I had never had a  feeling of surety come over me like that.



While our path can sometimes feel bold and exciting, and sometimes take us down a side street that feels scary and uncertain, I still know that feeling was right. Just because a person knows that it is right does not make it easy. It's been quite a journey, and I often daydream about what we will go on to accomplish in the next 13 years together...One day at a time.


Cheers to you Troy Evans for giving me freedom to achieve my dreams, thank you for all of the forgiveness you extend without condition.

I am grateful for you. ❤️


Artwork: Michael Blessing

I love this piece Michael! I am reminded everyday how blessed I was to have a life changing encounter there. Thank you for making it. ❤️