Art and Writing 2008 – 2017

Poppy of Mine • Acrylics • 30″ x 40″

I was at the Denver Art Museum years ago, after the new Hamilton building—which houses the museum’s modern art—opened. One of the exhibits described an artist who had 500 large sheets of paper delivered to his studio every day. Using a marker, he made 500 drawings a day as a warm-up to his time in the studio. I wish I could remember the name of the artist.

The best way to become a better artist is to create a lot of art.

While this concept is not new, many artists have not embraced it, and I’m one of them. I do more on some years and less on others.

I retired in late 2008. That year, I created four paintings. Since then, this has been my annual output of paintings:

  • 2008 – 4
  • 2009 – 2
  • 2010 – 7
  • 2011 – 32
  • 2012 – 21
  • 2013 – 18
  • 2014 – 12
  • 2015 – 3
  • 2016 – 3

I haven’t spent much time in my studio since the end of 2015. There are several reasons for this. First of all, our daughter had our first grandchild, an awe-inspiring little one named Hunter in April 2016. I’d rather spend time with him than just about anything else.

Then, we moved (after 22 years) to a smaller home in October 2016. Once we were half settled, and I had unpacked and arranged my new art studio, we decided we didn’t like the house enough to stay there. So in February 2017, I packed up the studio again so we could put the house on the market. It sold in two days. Then we started the process of finding a house to buy.

After five weeks of looking at every possible house, we decided to stay where we were. The problem is that in Denver, at least, there are many, many buyers, but not very many houses on the market. With our requirements and budgetary restrictions, we couldn’t find anything even though we looked at 45 houses.

So, to recap . . . in August 2016, I packed up my studio. In October 2016, I unpacked it and got it all set up. In February 2017, I packed it all up again to declutter the house and get it ready to put on the market. Now, in April, I am in the process of unpacking it again and setting it all up – and doing so in half the amount of space I had at our old house.

I dedicated 2016 to my writing, which didn’t leave me much time for painting. I wrote four books last year. Three of them are e-books available to download from Amazon onto any mobile device. I want to try to get the fourth one published by a traditional publishing house but I need to edit it one more time (which is edit number 6) before sending it to agents.

If you’d like to read more about the books I write, the book reviews I written, when I’m giving away free books or write the occasional blog post, you can find it all on my writing website,

Among my books is “Stop Dieting Forever: A natural, healthy way to lose weight” that explains how I stopped dieting and lost 100 pounds without surgery, special eating restrictions, etc.

“Unjustly Accused,” is the true story of a man and a few friends from work who decided to go to the Dominican Republic for a four-day weekend. It sounded like a good idea, until he and a friend were falsely arrested on drug trafficking charges, convicted and sentenced to one-to-three years in Najayo, a notorious Dominican Republic prison. This novel explores the insurmountable odds he faced and the daring escape he planned and executed.

“How to pack for a 3-week vacation with only a carry-on” is based on a personal experience when my husband and I went to Italy for three weeks and only took one carry-on each. Traveling with a carry-on was a great experience and I’ll never pack a large suitcase again!

That you for visiting my art site!

Susan L Stewart

Murphy’s Oil Soap: An indispensable product

Murphy’s Oil Soap

As you know, if acrylic paint dries on anything, it is impossible to remove. How many of your favorite brushes have you thrown out because they didn’t get cleaned in time or well enough and now the bristles are hard and stuck together? Enter Murphy’s Oil Soap.

You can buy Murphy’s Oil Soap in a concentrated form or diluted in a spray bottle. You need to use the concentrated formula. If your paintbrushes are hard and stiff, place them in a container filled with Murphy’s Oil Soap to just past the dried paint. Depending on how bad the brushes are, I have had to soak them from as little as an hour and up to several days or more. No matter how long it takes, I have always been able to save a brush from dried on acrylic paint.

Once the brushes are clean again, you need to make sure to rinse the soap out thoroughly. This can take quite a lot of rinsing. When you think they’re clean, wipe them on a clean paper towel to make sure there is no more paint coming off. This process might have to be repeated.

I have noticed after cleaning some of my larger, more expensive, brushes that the next day they feel limber and soft again, but they have an “oily” residue. That’s left over Murpy’s Oil Soap. When that happens, I put them in a jar of water just over the top of the ferrule, and let them soak overnight. The next day, swish the brush around in the water and see if the water is clear or milky. I’ve had to do this many times, especially with large wash brushes. The brushes aren’t really clean until the water stays clear.

Art supplies are expensive enough without throwing away a $30 wash brush because you forgot to clean it. Murphy’s Oil Soap makes keeping art costs down even easier.

And then there are those days when the unthinkable happens: acrylic paint ends up on your regular, non-paint, clothes. Have you experienced that stomach-dropping situation?

Each evening, right before I go to bed, I pop into the studio to take a look at the painting I had been working on that day. One night I saw a problem that just needed a little paint to fix. I rolled up the sleeves of my nightgown, took out a little paint and made the correction. The next morning I found a small smear of paint where I had leaned over to get a brush.

This was one of my favorite nightgowns and I was upset. Rather than throw it in with the rags, I decided to try some Murphy’s on it. I poured straight Murphy’s Oil Soap on both sides of the paint, lightly scrubbed it in with an old toothbrush and set it aside for 24 hours. When I washed the soap out using a toothbrush, sure enough, the paint came out!

My husband accidently dripped Dioxizine Purple on the rug when he was taking the trash out. I used a toothbrush to part the fibers and cover each one with Murphy’s. I put a paper towel on top of the stain so no one would walk on it, waited 24 hours and almost all of it came off. I repeated the process a second time and all of the paint came out.

There are so many supplies and equipment needed for an acrylic studio and Murphy’s Oil Soap should be at the top of your list!

Happy painting,

Susan L Stewart