He Ain’t Heavy

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[“He Ain’t Heavy” 8x10, available tonight at the #135show!]  When my baby, Owen, was eight months old, I found out I was pregnant with another boy. I started my family with twin girls, so I just laughed at the Irish twin boys that would now be just 16 months apart (you get the family that comes to you, right?). When Dallin was born he spent the first ten days in the NICU, which meant none of his siblings met him until we finally brought him home from the hospital. Owen, a baby himself, couldn’t talk yet but he climbed up right next to me on the couch and held out his arms and made the grabbing sign with his fist. It was clear he wanted to hold his brother. Feeling fragile about this tiny NICU baby I was only first holding myself, I gently laid him in Owen’s lap, keeping my own hands under him. Owen wasn’t having it. He put his chubby baby arms around Dallin’s body, batted my hands away, and lifted his brothers’ cheek right up next to him. He pulled him into this sweet hug and I can almost imagine the, “Where have you BEEN?? I’ve been waiting for you to get here!!” I burst into tears at the sight of obvious love from this baby big brother. It’s been four years now, and I’ve been amazed to see it continue. Owen looks out for Dallin in all the ways, carrying his heavy bucket of crayons, helping find his shoes, getting to the show he wants on TV. And sometimes I hear them tell each other, “You’re my best brother” and I melt right into a puddle. Brothers 💙💚

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Studio Tour

Here's a guest post I wrote for the Salt & Honey blog: https://www.saltandhoneymarket.com/blog/. Come see my booth there Dec 5-16!

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Hi! My name is Stephanie Hock and I'm an acrylic, impressionist painter. When I started painting, we were living in my parents' basement and I only had a little corner of the family room that was mine. I had three tiny children with one on the way, and they got into my stuff constantly. But I kept creating and learned a lot and now four years later, I'm happy to have my own studio with a door (that locks!). It's right next to the playroom, so I can still listen to those little mischief makers, but it's become such a happy place where I love to be and love to create. 

Here are a few of my favorite things in my studio (in no particular order):

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My favorite brushes come all the way to my Utah studio from England! There's a great company there called Rosemary Brushes (https://www.rosemaryandco.com/) and I'm convinced they make the best brushes on the market. They hold paint so well and are surprisingly affordable for being so great. The company is wonderful to work with and it's like Christmas to open up their brown paper packages. My current favorite are the Evergreen Long Flats, but I really think you can't go wrong. 

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I buy all my paints from a company in LA called NovaColor Paints (http://novacolorpaint.com/). You can get big tubs of paint that are so high quality (with really good pigment) for once again, really good prices. They ship fast and my tubs last forever. Another artist who also uses these paints recommended putting them in honey jars so they're easier to squeeze out while you're working (since they come in tubs not tubes). I bought mine from a company called Better Bee (https://www.betterbee.com/less-than-3lbs/csb1-16oz-clear-skep-bottle.asp) and got high flo spouts. I snipped the tips with scissors and just put the lids back on and then they stay fresh forever, but are easy to remove and squeeze out as I'm working. Plus I love the look of all these lined up on my shelf. 

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I paint with a limited palette, only using a couple versions of the primary colors and then I mix all my secondary colors and other colors from there. I made myself this cheat sheet on a piece of masonite board so I could remember certain color combinations when I want a really vibrant green or a really muted green, etc. The best book I ever read about color mixing was called, "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" by Michael Wilcox (https://smile.amazon.com/Blue-Yellow-Dont-Make-Green/dp/0935603395/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510092199&sr=8-1&keywords=blue+and+yellow+don%27t+make+green). If you have ever wondered why your purples come out more browns, this is the book for you! It was so insightful to pay attention to which way each primary color "leans" and then mix the two that will give me the result I want. 

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So, I use the honey jars to store the paints, but I work from a palette that's actually an egg tupperware (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rubbermaid-Durable-Egg-Keeper/16408620). Since acrylics dry so fast, this keeps me from wasting too much paint from day to day. I squeeze a little amount into each crevice, pull from that on my flat palette as I mix colors, then spritz the whole tupperware with a spray bottle of water I keep in my studio and put the lid on at the end of the day and the paints are still wet and ready to use the next day. 

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My studio has really low ceilings and for the longest time I couldn't find a good easel that worked in my studio. Most easels have a center mast that goes up as you adjust the height of your canvas. I finally found a great H-frame easel called the Carolina Easel from Jerry's Artarama (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/easels/studio-easels/h-frame-easels/carolina-studio-easel). The center mast can go up and down, but you can adjust the top and bottom grips independent of the easel height. I have two and use them constantly. They can go low enough that I can sit and paint if I'd rather not stand and they're sturdy as I work. I love them. 

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I went to a thrift store once and bought someone's old computer desk chair. It's become one of my favorite things in my studio! It makes such a difference to be comfortable when I work long hours on projects. I like that it's adjustable and rolls as I sit at my table or need supplies on the other side of the studio. 

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I bought a flat file at Ikea (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40196241/) to store all my sketch books, drawings and papers. It fits nicely under one of my tables and keeps all my nice paper flat and clean ready for drawing and painting on. The stickers on the drawers labeling them are Avery Removable All-Purpose Labels (https://www.walmart.com/ip/Avery-R-Removable-ID-Labels-Handwrite-Only-1-2-x-3-4-labels-2-7-8-x-4-1-16-sheets-White-Removable-25-up-21-sheets-525-PK/17163682) and they're the best for labeling things and not leaving a sticky residue. I use them for vendor numbers for markets (that I might not want to leave on my product forever) or price tags or all kinds of things. They peel right off and don't hurt the item at all. 

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I'm an avid reader and especially love reading art books. I saved my art history textbooks from college and have loved adding to my collection in the several years since. I'm grateful for how many masters before me have been willing to share their wisdom and how much that's influenced my art. I also subscribe to art magazines and like seeing what's going on in the broader art world outside of just my city or state. One of the first books I read was "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and that helped me work through my artists blocks and get creating. I mentioned "Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green" and how helpful that's been for color mixing. "Daily Painting" by Carol Marine had so many good tips in it, I especially liked thinking about how to use grays or grayed out colors to my advantage. "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon is a classic. "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert was another transformative book for opening yourself to the magic the universe is offering to help push forward your work. I just finished "Painting What You Want to See" by Charles Reid and I appreciate how much it made me think about value. I'm currently reading "You Are a Badass at Making Money" (pardon the language) by Jen Sincero and am loving it! So much good wisdom in all these pages that has helped my career. I'm always excited for the next recommendation and what I can learn from it. 

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I think my studio was the previous owner's sewing room. I love the idea of creating in a space that's been the place of someone else's ideas and creative energy. I like the button wallpaper she left me. But I really love the pegboard she had on one wall. It keeps tools in easy reach for me and keeps my work spaces clean and organized to have things hanging. I also keep a list on my wall of all the shows I'm doing for the year and I add commissions and charity donations and other things to the list as I go. I have all this information on my computer (I like Google sheets cause I can get it from my phone or computer), but it's nice to see it on the wall while I'm working and not have to look things up all the time. It keeps me on track. A smart artist I know said he always sets his own deadlines around the real deadlines and tries to have everything done at least a month before it's actually due. I think that's so smart and I'm still working on getting myself there. Also, this isn't part of my studio, but I use a program called FileMaker to keep track of all my paintings and it has become my best friend. It's so easy to search for things and get all the information (title, price, where it is now, when it was painted, story behind it, who bought it, what shows it's been in, etc). I mark where things are going and can print labels for everything really easily without having to retype each individual label. I know I'm the rebel of the art world to actually be super organized about my information and geek out about mail-merging, but there it is. If you find yourself interested in knowing more about this, it's probably a conversation for a one-on-one email, feel free to message me! 

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I keep lots of things in my studio just purely because they inspire me. I made a big board as part of a college art project. Once the project was over and disassembled, I turned it into my inspiration board and started putting up anything that inspired me, famous art in postcard form, quotes I liked, messages to myself, drawings my kids have made. It's been with me for twelve years now and been a rotating source of inspiration. I always want my studio to be a place I WANT to be, so keeping things here that bring me joy when I look at them is a good part of that. I have a globe to remind me of the places I want to travel. A mountain to remind me of the place I call home. A jar of seashells my daughters and I have collected on many different shores. Bottles from my grandma's house next to bottles I collected on a college trip to Mexico.... I've always thought buying art is like falling in love, and having objects that bring you joy is born from the same place. We should want to look around our space and love it. 

Thanks for visiting my studio! You can see more of my work on my website: https://www.stephaniehock.com/ or come check out my booth at the Salt & Honey Market December 5-16 at the Gateway Mall!

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Like a Child Submits to His Father

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One day I was walking with my children home from school and they spotted their dad coming toward us. They ran to him, threw their arms out and couldn’t wait to hug him. It’s DAD! We LOVE him!! He could tell them to jump off the roof and he’d catch them and they’d do it in a heartbeat because they trust him so completely. He tells them things and they believe him. But he’s earned that trust by loving and taking care of them consistently every day of their lives. He’s dependable. He helps them grow. They know he’s there for them. It made me think about my relationship with God. What would my life be like if I trusted Him as completely as my children trust their father? ••• This painting, “Like A Child Submits to His Father” is part of an auction to help give scholarships to LDS artists, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it! You can bid on it here: http://visionofthearts.org/auction.html 

Zions Bank Show

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[“Neighborhood Play Day” 36x36, sold] I had so much fun last night at the @zionsbank Art Show! It is so much fun to talk to so many nice art lovers all night, this is by far one of my favorite parties of the year. I came home and my mouth was sore from smiling so big all night. Thank you to everyone that came and to Zions Bank for hosting such a wonderful event! #zionsbank #zionsbankartshow

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Stronger Than She Knows

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[“Stronger Than She Knows” 6x6, available at the #135show Nov. 11] I’m channeling this sweet little snow girl today. Look at how she’s hefting up that tube that’s as big as she is!  There are things on my plate that feel big and overwhelming right now, but I believe we’re often stronger than we know and when we channel that inner strength, we can lift the heavy things. 💪🏻💛

Highland Boys

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One of my favorite parts of being a painter is being an accomplice in people’s surprise gifts for their loved ones. It is such an honor to paint people’s families and memories that can live long after the moment is over. This project was for a fantastic family getting ready to say goodbye to their son for two years while he goes on a church mission. My husband actually taught the son in high school and we felt thrilled to be included in such a special moment for them. The mother was understandably emotional about letting her son go, but said she was going to hang this on the wall and have this piece of him to enjoy when she felt sad. I love my job. ❤️❤️ 

Thursday

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I got my hair cut this morning, shorter than I like but then it can grow into my favorite length (and then some) before cutting it again. Sometimes I think of my life in terms of the spaces between haircuts. The spaces between Thursday grocery trips. The spaces between Thanksgivings. My husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage yesterday and it feels like a blink and an eternity at the same time. The sun goes up and down, I fill up and run out of gas, and yet when I step into my studio all of that seems to disappear. I think only of making something beautiful and hope that wherever it ends up, it let’s other people pause in all of their tasks and breathe in beauty too. 

Original art

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I bought this little painting from my friend @loraleefineart last week. I put it on my nightstand. It’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night and I can’t describe how much its beauty fills my soul. Whatever other stresses or negative things are on my mind, they pause when I look at great art and I come back to life a little bit better. The power of original art 🙌🏻.