The value of doing something JUST for YOU

Painting is something I have done just for myself.

For no one else.

I’m struggling to think of many other activities where I’ve done that on a regular basis.

I expect you know just what it’s like to spend a lot of your time doing for others.

Partners, children, families. It’s in our nature (especially for us women!).

In fact I’m a little embarrassed to admit that the relationship with my ‘starter husband’ became really unbalanced.

By the time it ended, I was doing virtually all of the chores, had taken on responsibility for almost everything in the relationship and felt totally and utterly emotionally unsupported.

Without going into the ugly details, things had deteriorated so that I was regularly being put down verbally and my confidence had been really dented.

I struggled to admit this to myself (it would have meant admitting failure), so I couldn’t bring myself to end the relationship.

But then one memorable evening I discovered a secret phone and evidence of an affair.

Alongside the obvious feeling of betrayal, my overriding emotion was actually one of… relief. Finally I felt justified in leaving.

And just hours later I did leave. I moved back in with my parents.

I left everything.

Well almost.

As well as my husband, I left my home and all my possessions except for: Dexter the dog, my computer with my scanned artwork, my painting stuff and my clothes – in that order!

I also left my beloved garden and, for a while even my teenage stepson (I’m happy to report that we see each other regularly again now).

Despite the feelings of relief, there was also lots of pain and sadness of course. And I know this is something lots of people have been through and can relate to.

It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my life.

All the energy I had spent doing things for someone else felt like such a waste.

But it was an experience that helped me realise how little I really needed: my health, loving family and friends to support me.

And another thing I realised I still had, that was ‘mine’ and hadn’t been left behind, was my creativity. And specifically my painting.

Both the pleasure of doing it – which was a very helpful distraction through a horrible divorce (as it had been when I had had cancer a few years before).

And also the very real sense of achievement from looking back at the portfolio of all the paintings I had completed in the 5 years I’d been painting regularly.

So it was the thing I had done for myself that turned out to be such a huge source of comfort and joy in the face of loss.

Of course I’m not saying you should neglect your partner or your caring responsibilities. Giving to others is an important and rewarding part of life.

But I did want to share that developing a skill that you can lose yourself in and thoroughly enjoy, ISN’T totally frivolous.

And that keeping a digital portfolio (even if you give away or sell the actual paintings) can be seriously satisfying.

Painting is something that with regular time devoted to it, can be nurtured and developed over the long term in your life.

So that you come to treasure it as something that has helped shape you in positive ways and is truly YOURS.

It’s shouldn’t be dropped to the bottom of the to-do list, because you can’t experience that pleasure in the future unless you give it time in the here and now.

A big achievement really just comes from a series of small steps taken NOW.

So I’d love it if you’d get out your calendar and schedule in your next me-time painting sessions to do something for yourself.

It’s NOT a waste of time!

With love,

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  1. Anne on January 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Been there, done that, took the cats and not a lot else! And yes, the overwhelming feeling was relief! I also quite agree that developing a skill you can lose yourself in isn’t a waste of time – it’s therapy! When I get down to painting (which is still not often enough) it’s like a long meditation – my mind empties of everything except the painting and it’s lovely!

    • christine giantsos on December 9, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      Lol I would do the same….Take the cats and nothing else! They are the most important thing in my life! Love them <3

  2. Sara on January 5, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    What an amazing story, I had something really similar happen in my previous relationship. I was relieved to have a good reason to walk away. I am buried in kids and responsibilities everyday but you’re right, I need to make time for me. My husband is very supportive thankfully.

  3. Jan Hove on January 5, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story. I put away my brushes after high school to become “the responsible” person my parents encouraged. After a career, a child, failed marriages, and lots of adventures, I knew in my heart what was still missing. At 63, I bought myself watercolors, brushes and paper and have been painting now for two years. I’ve been taking your tutorials diligently since November, and had three wonderful Christmas presents for my sisters – the Owl and the hummingbirds! They are thrilled, as am I, for finally rediscovering my passion. Thank you for being there! All the best, Jan

  4. Jessica Koren on January 5, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I’m newly married, and already I can see how easy it can be to devote precious time to everything except my interests. It’s a strange trap to think that if we simply do everything for our partner, that it will bring us more love and appreciation. It seems that whenever I start being too perfect of a house-wife, it starts to cause a rift between him and I. Your message is very timely and I appreciate so much how you share yourself with your students.

    I have found that when I say “nope, I don’t want to make dinner tonight, or I’ll pass on watching a show with you tonight, I’m painting”- it is always received with acceptance and admiration. Doing what we want is really the way. I have committed to the idea that 2017 for me is about claiming ownership for all that I do and never choosing to do something in fear of what others might think. I wish you a very growth-filled year, you are such a gift!

  5. Louise-Michelle on January 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Your storie has a good end, I’m very happy for you.
    I want to thank you for that l etter and confidence and all your courses.
    Your paintings are marvelous ! Bravo !
    I should paint each week to improve my watercolor paintings.
    You give me motivation to paint more, in the beginning of 2017.
    It is a good goal to do things for me.
    Wish you peace, health and happiness.

  6. Sheri Chaffin on January 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I experienced something very similar to yours. In 2002 I lost my son, Justin, to suicide. The next year I started on my journey with watercolors. I can testify how healing painting is. In 2012 I left my husband of 36 years. It was a very controlling and emotionally abusive relationship. Again I let my painting help me through the pain and loss. Now I have this wonderful gift that I have just for myself. Thanks for your blog! Spot on.

  7. Grace Braun on January 5, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I’m happy for you! It sounds to me like your ex was a selfish guy and you were smart to leave. Best of luck to you and yours

  8. Karen on January 5, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Wow, I’m so sorry about all that has happened to you. You seemed to come through with flying colors. You would never know it from looking at you. Thank you for sharing that even though it was painful. I guess nobody escapes problems. Thank you for sharing and teaching your art with us all you are very talented and very sweet! I wish I could sign up for more classes with you but my husband just got laid off from his job.

  9. Derek Baker on January 5, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    A very touching and inspiring story. Not one I can really appreciate as I was married for fifty when suddenly my wife died. I have found two three things to immerse my self in and have “me “time”. Painting is obviously one. The other is of course children,grandchildren,and great grandchildren. For the record I met a very proud man at your stand at a recent exhibition, so I could tell alls well that ends well.

  10. Brenda Sedore on January 5, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Wow it was like you were telling my story! Except for the affair part. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made, especially as we’d been together for 20 years. But it was the best decision I ever made. I met my wonderful husband, Daryl soon after and I’ve blossomed with him. He helped me to focus not just on my children and others but to explore my creativity and the things that make me happy. I’ve never been so content and thankful for my life and I believe my art reflects that. I’m grateful to you and the school for helping me to realize the style of painting I am best at and that I enjoy so much. There’s a lot of art instruction on the internet but not much in this style. So I’m glad you followed your creativity as well.

  11. DjB on January 5, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Anna, Thank you for sharing this! One always thinks that successful people who create beautiful art must have everything going “sunshiny” in their lives. My husband died suddenly three years ago this month. I spent 42 years loving him, working with him at his business, raising our children and taking care of our large home. Finding myself a widow with horrendous bills and only a small life insurance policy I have had to leave all that I had and start a new life with the bare essentials. From the time I was a small child I always wanted to be an artist but for the most part put it off while I took care of more important things. I came upon your videos on YouTube and knew I needed to learn your style. It made me happy, it gave me hope. But I have been paying now for the monthly classes for many months but haven’t started even one painting even though I have invested in all of the supplies. Am I afraid? I am strong, I am determined, but I can’t seem to take this all important step of unleashing my creativity in a way that could eventually bring me some modest income. How did you do it? How do you start? (Please don’t say Just Start!) Are there others out there who need help going from a dead start to….up and running? I would appreciate your insight.

    • Jodi on May 12, 2017 at 2:18 am

      Sorry to hear of your challenges. I cannot imagine loosing a life partner after so many years. I am sure you have many many blessings of memories over the years. You can use these to inspire you. You are probably still grieving, so be gentle with yourself. Sometimes it is difficult to think of doing something new without him. But remember, he’d want you to be happy and enjoy yourself, and do something because you love to do it. Anna has a video I just watched on the 5 Blockers…sorry cannot recall exact title. Maybe you can relate to one of them and it can help you. I know that at one time or another I have faced all of them. Thankfully not all at the same time, but sometimes a couple at the same time. I wrote down her tips to remind me to move forward whether its personal walls, tears, or just the seemingly giant blank sheet of paper in front of me. Guess it would be good for both of us to remember, its calling us to make our signature of joy on the page.

  12. Melanie on January 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    This is quite lovely, and I thank you for sharing such a personal part of yourself. I can’t precisely relate (I’ve been married 23 years to a fantastic man), but I can relate in another manner. I have been a stay at mom for over 20 years, and my youngest is now almost finished with school; I quite suddenly find myself without a daily routine caring for others. It has been downright excruciating to discover who I am and what I am interested in without the tether of children. My identity has been so wrapped up in motherhood that I had no clue who I really was anymore. Thank the universe for watercolor! I found myself in swirling paint and color charts. My creativity hasn’t so much saved me, but unfolded me.

    Thank you for sharing this space with us, your creativity inspires our own.

  13. Mabel on January 5, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing this amazing story. 5 years ago, after my ex left me, I took up art at the ripe age of 51, and also yoga and meditation. . Never looked back since. Im now working full time, attending weekly watercolor class and teaching Zentangle on weekends. Life has never been better.

  14. Mary Barnett on January 5, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing, been there done that twice but I too met an amazing man who is the best. Sadly we are all guilty of putting everything in front of “our time”. Trying to pick up the brushes after a busy Christmas. Your paintings are so inspirational and keep me striving to do better .

  15. Judy Jackson on January 5, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    LOL Yes, I can identify… I took the kid and my art stuff.

    Felt a bit guilty (for want of a better word) about ‘wasting time’ doing my art so was always trying to think of ways to profit from it. Then one day a girlfriend got aggravated with me about it and said, “Judy, did you ever consider that maybe your artistic ability is a loving gift from God just for you and your pleasure alone?” Well, no, I hadn’t… but I do now.

    • Jackie on December 14, 2023 at 4:21 pm

      Anna’s message is so encouraging and inspirational but you have the one I’ve been wrestling with. What to do with all the watercolors I paint – many painted along with tutorials and some of my own creation. My husband says I should sell them somewhere to pay for all the stuff but at my age (83) and other limitations, that would be difficult. No one (except a couple of people) seems to express a desire for them even though some are quite nice. So they are piling up! So the message that it’s a gift from God for just me is helpful and so is the message that it’s therapy to keep my sanity and enjoy myself with peaceful meditation.

  16. john hovenstine on January 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you Anna for your frankness. My art is a big part of who I am, but lately the desire to create has slowed and it’s disturbing even though I have plenty of time now that we are empty nesters. Your from the heart blog made me realize if all I do is give my art away the important part of doing it is how I feel when creating it. Thanks so much and your work is amazing and has inspired me often.

  17. Viv on January 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I’m so lucky that I have a long and very happy marriage to Ryan, who is very supportive of things I want to do. It’s horrible when life throws the nasties at you and painting has a wonderful way of not allowing you to think of anything else, it is all-absorbing. Happy New Year Anna and to all of your followers.

  18. Lisa Hetrick on January 5, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    What a testimony of courage and honoring your creativity. Thank you for sharing! Your work is beautifully crafted and such a joy to see. Many blessings to you! I have enjoyed your emails, your website and the work you share with the world.

  19. Karen on January 5, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Hi DJB,
    So sorry to hear of your troubles, sometimes it is hard to step over that line toward things that make you happy. I’m not a professional so I can’t tell you how to fix your problems. All I can say is that picking up a pencil or fun marker started me on that road you’re looking for. Doodling brought out the fun I knew I was missing. Soon I was looking into classes locally. I met new friends and my painting life began. Don’t be afraid to fail. That’s called practice!

  20. Thao Le on January 5, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate that so much.
    Happy New Year to you Anna , you will have a whole new chapter of your life which will be brighter, happier as when we start a new painting, you are now gaining more experience !
    Peace and love will be with you .
    Thao .

  21. Sue on January 5, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    It’s funny isn’t it. At the time we think it is only something that happens to someone else, something in movies and books. Then when it really happens to you in real life you feel you have fallen into a big hole and you can’t find the ladder out. But you do, rung by rung until you have climbed above the bad times and are still climbing as you get your life back and more. i am so glad I found your art videos, it really does lift my spirits after suffering similarly. Thank you for sharing.

  22. Barb on January 5, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you for giving us insight to your life and your challenges, but also, the take away of taking care of yourself! I love your artwork and you teaching your skills to others!

  23. Lisa on January 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I am actually going through the part of “carving out time for myself” and learning that not only is it okay but necessary if Im going to sustain my relationship…
    I appreciate you telling us this and Im so happy you found “the one”. Happy new year to you and yours Anna! And thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of creativity and painting!

  24. Doris Woodruff on January 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I can vouch for that very last statement(the PS)! Anna’s husband is a jewel among men! I met him last year when they came to Sarasota Florida for the workshop in the gardens!! Helpful interested caring guy! I am so happy for you both! Thank you so much for sharing your soul ANNA not just your creativity!

  25. Lesley Roberts on January 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. My second husband was a lovely man, he was a farmer though and worked long hours so I took up art again in around 2004. I dabbled a bit, did an online portraiture class and for a short while did commissions in pet portraiture. Then life dealt another blow. My darling husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and very quickly over 2 or 3 months, he needed a wheelchair. I gave up my painting to care for him and our family. MND is a cruel and awful disease and I won’t go into details, but he died 16months after diagnosis in September 2015, our daughter was 20. After 2 or 3 months I took up painting again, just as a distraction to start with. A few months later I decided I would like to get back into it again properly and am trying to sell my art work on a part time basis. It is hard still to not feel guilty for painting, like it’s not a ‘proper’ job, but I know Chris would be encouraging me if he could.
    I guess it is never too late, even if it is a little harder when you are older and building confidence can be tough, but having Artists like you share your skills and advice, helps me feel I am not alone. Nothing will replace my husband, but painting has given me a purpose, a distraction and occasionally some money in the bank. Thank you.

  26. Lynn Embro on January 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Oh my goodness Anna! You are so right! I did not realize that you had gone through these things…horrible…but no wonder that you are the bright, cheerful, upbeat and talented person that you are! Your determination and life experience show through in the beauty of your work! So often true with artists…writers alike. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal part of yourself with us. The moment we share these thoughts…they evaporate somewhat. Also….it is amazing…how much support and comroderie these is among all of us. We love you!

  27. Tony Phillips on January 5, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Hi Anna I’m glad your now happy again
    quite agree my painting has helped me thru a lot of troubles
    when I’m painting it’s just total concentration

    get away from the troubles of life and paint I find it a must now can’t wait till I retire more painting lol

  28. Irina on January 5, 2017 at 5:24 pm


    It looks like the most of us has a similar story to share and with a stroke of luck we all came to the conclusion – I MUST have time for myself! I came to this conclusion several years after my divorce. I left my husband with my two sons and a cat. I was working mom and hardly remember when I did something for myself.
    Now I doing lots of things, which I never did before, but always want to try! I created my new garden in 2016, I joined Anne’s watercolor school and many more little things!
    Anna, thank you for sharing your experience with us.
    God bless you!

  29. Siti on January 5, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I only wish the best for you, Anna. You’re the first watercolor artist that gave me a courage to ‘pick up’ a brush and started watercolor again after all these years. Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement and you’re indeed a great teacher. Have a blessed 2017 to you and Phil! 🙂

  30. Jennifer on January 5, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    So sorry about your situation I hope 2017 will be a wonderful year for you. You are one world class talent. who was taken for granted by someone who should have supported you more. Its the case of the green eyed monster

  31. Anna Cuomo on January 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Happy New Year to you. Dear Anna, I really agree with your advices for all the painters. I love painting but during last year I spent a very little time devoting painting. Work, family and other duties occupied all the time and if there were some free time, I was so tired that I couldn’t do something really fine. So I was more and more unsatisfied, also because with a short time to dedicate, my results in painting were not fine. And it is obvious: every result in every field needs time and a constant devotion. So during these Christmas Holydays I spent a considerable time inspiring myself thanks to books, tutorials about drawing and painting and I exercited myself like never had happened during last year. I thank you for this motivational post and for all the resources you spend for us, books, video, posts, courses and so on.
    Thank you and have a great year! <3

  32. Joseph Sasso on January 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    After my divorce, I turned to painting /drawing age 50 and found that I’ve had this hidden talent all along and never knew. So you never know. Turn sour lemons into tasty lemonade!

  33. Cara on January 5, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I am so with you! I have a daughter with special needs, whom my husband and I adopted four years ago. Every single day is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting as we seek to help her heal from her early childhood trauma, and help her try and rise above her many challenges. But we love her and are in this for the long haul.

    Painting and drawing have taken a back seat for now because I cannot leave my art supplies or a work-in-progress out where it can be ruined. So, instead I am finding creative outlets through my other passions: knitting and gardening. Both can be tidily put away when not in use. Well, the tools can, I mean.

    Here’s the really sad truth: My daughter actually loves painting too but I cannot for some reason bring myself to get out my paints and do it alongside her. I think it is because painting is so personal to me, when I paint or draw, I sit entranced for hours at a time. I don’t know how to get past this so I can just sit and casually paint next to my daughter. Maybe it’s because it’s something I selfishly want just for me. I think the lightbulb just went on. Hhhm, I need to think on this one some more. Thanks for listening to me process out loud. Maybe this is the year when I need to get past this roadblock and sit and share this passion with my daughter. Thanks for inspiring these conversations, Anna.

  34. Laurie Worth on January 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have been through that as well..but my art beginning began at 55- after being a Mom since I was 17 and never ever doing anything for myself. I loved art as a child and teen- always drawing and pasteling. Having a baby at 17 in high school ended those dreams for the time. Almost 40 years later, as the last child left- I was encouraged by my youngest to try it. She bought me paper and pastels. I soon decided I wanted to try watercolors- and it has been great the last year or two learning. I still have trouble putting time aside- and your blog post – plus my New Years Resolution is to try and paint almost every day. I am signed up for your class on Craftsy and will be getting to that, as soon as I finish a drawing class I am taking. It is never too late!

  35. Sharon Loewe on January 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    It was as if I was reading the story of my own life. Back in 1968 I attended a technical high school and majored in commercial art. It covered all the major mediums. I then attended college and majored in fine arts. After four years I married, had two children and gave up painting to raise my family and take care of my home. The early 70’s began to change the world for women. I wanted to take cleanses in art and get back to what I loved, but my husband (an airline pilot) was against it. He said I should stay home no be ‘barefoot and pregnant’. After eight years of unfulfillment I divorced. I married the love of my life and found myself again. Painting is now a major part of each day. Thank you for your openness. And Happy New Year.

  36. Raymond Rorick on January 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I can’t say enough how much this helps me. It is so important stay motivated Thank you for the inspiration,Anna.

  37. Lesley Roberts on January 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you Anna

  38. Meeta Dani on January 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Hello Anna and everyone here!

    When someone shares some unhappy moments of their life with you, it means that person trust you and feels comfortable with you. Thanks Anna for sharing your story with us. And see what you did. You helped others to open up, to share their stories too. We feel comfortable with you as you try to be yourself always with us. We all have come across situations in life which were very difficult. But there are 2 solid facts related:

    1. Every difficult situation makes us stronger if we don’t give in as we learn a lot from it.
    2. There is an expiry date for each bad situation. Good days always follows bad days.

    Painting to me is like meditation. It is like I am offering prayer to God. It helps me to be myself. I have realised the power of painting now. No matter how the result is, one feels good that he/she has created something. A BIG sense of satisfaction you get when you paint.

    I love the atmosphere of this school so much. Thanks Anna, and thanks everyone here.

    Meeta Dani

  39. Kyunghee Johnson on January 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Anna, you made me cry this morning.:(
    but thank you for sharing your personal story.
    I’m a wife and a busy mom of two boys, always a lot to do around house.
    In fact I burned dinner on the stove last night because I was painting ‘succulent’! lol
    I have been painting for about two years before the repugnance and the kids comes and stopped painting for 15years. but I always have that desire inside of me that I love to paint!. so I was looking YouTube and found you on Craftsy and now online school.
    Im enjoying painting very much and one more thing that your “Anna’s Block-Busting Principles” said that Enjoying the process is MORE important than the final result. I often read that when I’m painting. 🙂

  40. O on January 5, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    My goodness Anna
    You captured a lot of emotions for me as I read your message today. I’m going through a relationship breakdown myself. It’s hard, with two young children involved and nearly 20 years of my life invested in a partnership. I lost a baby to stillbirth 14 years ago. Amid all of these tragic events, and discovering that I, too, gave away far too much of myself, it is art that has kept me breathing. I joined an art class not long after losing my baby boy and it was the only thing that I looked forward to each week; the only thing that kept me going. As the weeks and months went by, I felt slowly like I was being healed through the release of being creative – a passion I have felt for many years. I love painting even though I don’t give myself much time to do it. I was so happy to find your tutorials and I love your approach and your teaching. I feel connected to you and the people responding to your story, as I believe we have an empathy with each other, through creativity. So thank you for sharing your personal story. It deeply touched me and I got the supportive message. It is helping me through. Thank you. Thank you.

  41. Ellie on January 5, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Anna: I find myself in the same place as Debra…lost my hubby quite suddenly in May, at exactly the same time I signed up to take your courses, as a matter of fact! I was so excited, but got lost in grief and all the other things I had to do at the time. Kept thinking about just sitting down with my paints and getting moving, but the sad thing is I just lost the one person who has always encouraged me. So the door to my art room stayed closed. On Jan. 1 I signed up for another year, hoping that I can muster some motivation, so we’ll see how that goes!!

  42. Patricia on January 5, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    This was such a powerful testimony to what is really important.
    You have helped me to appreciate the study and production of “watercolor”. I am having a ball with your tutorials.
    Thank you for sharing your story it touched me deeply and gave me the motivation I needed for this New Year.
    You have lit a spark in me that was fading a bit. You are a blessing.

  43. Eunice Moss on January 5, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Anna you are a gem. Thank you for sharing. I’ve had similar challenges in my life when I was younger. I then lived alone for twenty years but happily married my husband Dan when I was fifty. At sixty I retired to spend more time with my lovely mum but she passed away the month before I finished work. It was devastating, but taking up art helped me get through. I wish my mum could see my paintings she would be tickled pink. I love the variety of subjects that you offer us. Thank you so much for all your hard work.

  44. Stephanie Hrabe on January 5, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Anna, thank you for the “It’s not a waste of time” message. The whole story is heartwarming, but that line means a lot to me. After my high school art teacher after ONE class told me I had no talent and tossed me from his class, I hung up everything art for 35 years. Now I struggle with a little guilt about treating myself to being myself and finally allowing this to flow.:)

  45. Mary Ann Russo on January 5, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    Oh my! And what a wonderful artist you are. My story is similar to yours. I do try to find time to paint. Thanks for sharing ❤

  46. Debbie on January 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    What a strong and powerful lady you have become. I discovered your painting tutorials online as I am dealing with a very life threatening disease. I have time off from work now to rest and try and get better. Your art lessons have helped me focus of the positive and be creative. Hours pass while I paint along with you and I hardly notice the pain. Thanks for sharing your story and I hope you will continue to inspire us all with your art.
    Debbie USA Tennessee

  47. Jennifer Willson on January 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    I’m so pleased that happier times are on the horizon for you, you have had a terrible time and it’s lovely to know that everything has turned around. I honestly don’t know how I would cope without my painting. My father passed away in April last year, and my mother is needing an incredible amount of time from me. Whenever I get me time, I shut myself away, and can get “lost ” totally in my art.
    Thank you for your fantastic teaching and giving me my sanity !!

  48. Carole Jurack on January 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Wow … all the above comments read like a soap opera. Sorry to say I have the same story to tell. But I have been married now for 44 years to a great man who is very supportive of everything I do or try to do. I have been painting/drawing for just a few years and took a year’s worth of your classes, Anna, and I know that the time was well spent and helped me to grow and try new things and new mediums in the subsequent years. So glad you have Phil and that you are back on track. Your work is stunning. I appreciate all your tips and blog posts and am enjoying myself immensely in the world of art and artists. Have a marvelous 2017.

  49. Ingrid Blackburn on January 5, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    I have a similar story – creativity completely stiffled due to being put down constantly – I gave up all the things that mattered to me. And once I too shed my starter husband (love how you put that), my life became full, blossomed and is filled with rays of sunlight. Okay – that sounds corny – but through all the hurt, saddness and anger – I too have my soul mate Michael (celebrating 10 years of marriage this Sunday) and life is better. I make time for the things I love – and even better – he encourages me to do so. This year I vow to paint more to get lost in it regularly.

  50. Kathy on January 5, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    We definitely all need “our time” – my husband passed unexpectedly just a little over a year ago.
    He was not particularly supportive of my art-but I had not realized until a few months later that what I was producing WAS appreciated by others!!!
    That began a period when I made more time for myself – and I truly feel that my work has improved far more than I ever expected!
    Sometimes we need that nudge from others to grow ourselves.

  51. Lilia on January 5, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Dear Anna you’ve been through so much! I’m so pleased you are experiencing your happily ever after now in your life and I’m sure there is so much more to come. We are all so happy you are painting and teaching and sharing with all of us.
    My husband and I just celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary, have 4 grown children who have all gone through separations and divorces. We’ve experienced much of the highs and lows of our own lives and theirs and our 7 grandchildren are nearly all raised as well and branching out on their own. I’ve a great many interests but quilting and painting have always been my staples. The art keeps me connected and close to many of them.
    I taught all my children to paint in oils and one of them and 2 grandchildren are enjoying watercolor together at present and it’s so fun to share with each other over the internet. I’m hoping they will be joining your school during this year as well. You have such a variety of subject matter to glean from. I’ve learned so much and hope to be learning more this year. I’ve been painting birds for gifts and hope to return to be trying some other subject matter and incorporate some of the photos in nature I enjoy taking while going on excursions with my husband. I’ve still several paintings to do in oil from my Mother & Child series I began last year. So this year will be packed with paintings! It puts a smile on my face just to think about it.
    Best wishes to you and all your students for 2017! I’m hoping it will truly be a happy new year for us all!

  52. Gloira Ayres on January 5, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Well done you!
    I ‘retired’ to Spain in November 2008. I took a job 2 days a week with a magazine. 2016 and I realized that the only day I did not have to go on the computer for work was a Saturday. I got to the point that I dreaded (perhaps a bit strong), but definitely felt a ‘down’ each day when I turned on my computer.
    After conversations with my husband, we decided that although the extra money was great, that we could survive OK without it. So I chucked the job and have now truly retired and have started to give myself time at least 3 days a week for painting. Some of it is landscapes and some of it your wonderful detail paintings. I only tried painting last year, so I have a long way to go.
    It is so good to have something to do which is mine and not for someone else. I know this sounds selfish, but it feels soooo good.

  53. France's Wortley on January 5, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you Anna for that blog. My situation has been different as I never married. However in my early thirties I realised that my recently retired parents needed help so I moved home again and worked part time so that I could help as my mother wasn’t strong. Then in 1988 she suffered a stroke which left her unable to read,write or do the art and craft things she had so enjoyed. My father and I cared for her for nine years. We had a couple of years when we did things and went places together but gradually he was less able and for the last four or so years he needed quite a lot of care. He was a few weeks short of 96 when he died at the end of 2012. I have painted on and off all my life but for quite a number of years more off than on. After I was left on my own I enrolled with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh for their diploma course in Botanical Illustration which I shall finish this year. It has been a struggle as I was not only dealing with losing Dad but being on my own and moving house in the middle of it all. I’m really only coming to terms with being able to do things just for me now after four years so your blog was very timely as I often still feel I shouldn’t put me first. Thank you.

  54. Marina on January 5, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your very difficult experience with us.
    I too left my husband of 7 years (9yrs total together), packed my bags, grabbed what I could and left. I felt trapped in the relationship, there was emotional abuse and neglect as well. Finally I just did it. I too moved in with my parents at first, and then with a girl friend who was also going though a divorce. We cried together, and supported each other through it. Both would get our creative outlets out and get immersed… I in painting and she in crocheting. Its incredibly therapeutic for sure!
    Now I am married for 3 years now to a truly wonderful man named Bryan, who could not be more supportive of me being creative, painting, etc. I do not feel like it is a waste of time or feel guilty taking time to paint – though I still do not have a ton of time to paint, since we have a very busy 2 year old. But he takes over and lets me go do my thing.
    So no, not everyone gets it “right” the first time. And I am so happy that you found the right person to share your life with, and you’re developing your art into something truly special that you share with all of us. Much love to you Anna!

  55. Beth McGale on January 5, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Such beautiful words, thank you. I have been married for 40 years and I am a ten year breast cancer survivor. I also just retired and now have all the time I want to dedicate to my art…. but I don’t…. I get angry at myself. I just keep thinking; I am 61 years old and have missed the boat, have I waited too long?? You are inspiring, as well as your art.

  56. Rosalind on January 5, 2017 at 7:52 pm


  57. Sharon on January 5, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. Getting that feeling of relief is a sure sign that you’ve done the right thing and will be a happier person
    I have learned to rely on that inner feeling of relief many times

  58. Pamela Beyger on January 5, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Hi Anna
    Glad you came out the other side stronger & happier than ever!! I feel t shows in your marvelous paintings & excellent teaching. I have a wonderful husband of 40 years who supports everything I do.
    I painted back about 20 years ago off & on and just recently over the last 2 years started painting again. Watercolour was new to me but you have made it an easy transition. As a 2 time cancer survivor once in my late 20’s & again last year your tutorials have given me comfort & a good way to pass the time. Getting lost in my artwork is very healing. I love my classmates & all their encouragement. Finding you by accident on the internet last February has become such a wonderful outlet. I look forward to your classes & thankyou for sharing your story with all of us. It’s very important to take time out for yourself, I learned that many years ago. Glad you have reinforced that thought

  59. Michelle on January 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    I can relate too … though my starter marriage lasted 23 years before I had the courage to leave it all behind. I took my clothes, my art and my guitar and built from the ground up again. Now art is an even bigger and more integral part of my life (he had tried alternately to push me to monetise it or suppress it depending what worked at the time) and I could not be happier. Thank you for sharing your story.

  60. Sarah on January 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Anna
    Your post is both brace and inspirational. I agree with everything you said , as I lived through a very similar marriage and divorce.
    Art is nurturing. Creativity is enriching. The process is an end in it’s self and the product a bonus.
    Thank you for all you do and share

  61. B. Juliane Leo on January 5, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    I can relate to the whole divorce issue, just got divorced a year ago..after 5 year separation.
    . But add to that – the undertaking of an ailing parent, a move across three states and total upheaval of my financial freedom, when my company had to close. That was 5 years ago…and I am only Now feeling like I’m making some headway.

    And….I’m now 65 years old… felt like my freedom cratered into a hole. What is getting me going now? ?? Seriously who would begin their life over again at 65 years old?!!!

    Well…truth is – I have no other choice. I could stay and give up every dream I ever had. Or bite the bullet and take another chance at life. I listened a video on YouTube by Tony Robbins for 2017 – and somehow what he said really hit home. I realized how much I settled into a toxic thinking of SETTLING my standards.

    So… IF you want to be inspired, Anna…. try changing a Life course at 65. This is exactly where I am now. I’m going to sell my mother’s house, and I don’t even know where I am going yet. But I am SURE I will know by the time this home sells. The alternative…is to stay in this stinking little hovel of a town…and play it safe. I NEVER PLAY IT SAFE! hahaha And it’s taking the risk that is where the real Living Begins!

    I don’t care if I ever have another relationship – but I do care about my precious Life!

    I have made My Vision Board – and believe what I aspire to will come true. 1. New Town 2. New Home 3. Have the healthiest body I ever had 4. Learn how to play Guitar (I used to sing for a living) and 5. Have a Home Painting Studio as I have always dreamed of having.

    I believe – When you are doing what you love…the Money will Follow! I’ve seen it work during my younger years…Now I will see it again no matter what age I am.

  62. Lynne on January 5, 2017 at 8:19 pm

    I hope you have a wonderful year ahead Anna.

  63. Ratna on January 5, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story,it’s so inspiring.My story is sad ,growing up in a happy family ,studying ,becoming a PhD,getting married,getting a prestigious job in University,raising a boy with the most supportive and loving husband .My cup was full. My life of 44 years was going full steam and we had dreams of even better future ahead when tragedy struck and my dear husband was killed.That changed everything, Now 8 years after that incident I have decided to quit teaching as my brain is too tired to teach Physics. My boy has graduated from Univ and working I took a very early retirement and am trying to immerse myself in watercolours.Not very talented but have been painting off and on through out my life.Truly now I have all the time to go through videos,learn and paint. I love your style of teaching,find you very pretty but never knew that beautiful,artistic people too have had to go through pain Godblessyouad best

  64. Jennie Kuzara on January 5, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Fortunate to have had my soulmate in my life since I was 13, I did take a circuitous route to artistic fulfillment. From my earliest years (age 5?) I intended to be an artist, but my mother said to be a teacher. I respected her opinion so I majored in math so as to teach math. After three years I knew I did not want to teach so I started a family. Then we uprooted our family and moved 800 miles so I could go to a different university and major in art. My newly assigned advisor said artists are a dime a dozen and, as a woman, I should major in accounting. I did and became an auditor, which I enjoyed for 15 years until a car accident left me unable to sit at a desk 50 hours a week. Thrust against my will into days of idleness, I dabbled in sewing, knitting, drawing and many other crafts. Then my husband discovered sculpting and both our lives changed. We both work in bronze and I have moved into drawing and painting, rediscovering old skills and passions. We are both in galleries and my life has circuitously come to what I “knew” it would when I was 5. And it is all about giving myself permission to spend my time doing this “frivelous” activity that feeds my soul. Thank you for sharing.

  65. Miriam on January 5, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing you story! It is inspiring to me in the place I’m in right now!

  66. Sheryl Kalutich on January 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing, its never easy but it does help the soul.
    I have been married 51 years and raised 3 children and worked, But i always made time for myself and never felt that was selfish…. even if it is a quick bath it was my time.
    I love my art and now retired i can just work away on it all the time, its relaxing and rewarding.
    So enjoyed your course even though i taught art i can always learn with every piece i do.
    Thanks again and i do hope everyone takes time for themselves doing whatever they love.

  67. Lesley Paul on January 5, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    After being happily retired at 50 and studying painting with a great friend for 5 years I became an accomplished oil painter! several years later I have had to go back to work for a while and have turned to watercolor for the immediate gratification because oil paintings take so much longer. With limited time I find watercolor fits into my life and schedule and still gives me that time to get zen in my life!

  68. Janet on January 5, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you, Anna (and everyone), for sharing your struggles and triumphs. With just the thread of watercolor connecting us, how marvelous to learn how much more we share. In so many ways, your stories are my story and my story is yours. There’s something I read in a magazine recently that I haven’t been able to shake. Particularly for women, why is that we work so hard to be sure not to disappoint those around us…we would never dream of not doing what is best for our children, our parents or our partner but we find it so difficult to do what is best for ourselves. At age 54, watercolor and Anna’s classes are the first thing I have ever done just for me. It’s exhilarating! And, happily, I have found endless support and encouragement from those around me — both at home and in this online community. Thank you

  69. Novella on January 5, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Anna, your timing is wonderful! I joined your online school a year ago and just loved it. Then my mom went to hospital in early March and I haven’t touched a brush since then. After a very long and difficult year, Mom was moved into a personal care home on Christmas Eve. I’m having a rare day at home with time to think “What next?” Your message of encouragement really underscored for me, how much I miss painting and that I ‘need’ to paint. Thanks!

  70. Marilou Scott on January 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing your talent and life Anna! I admire you even more. The past 5 years has been a whirlwind for me. It took almost losing everything ( fortunately I have the.most loving husband) before I came to the conclusion that only art help me deal with chronic illness and that I need to accept that I’m only ever happy when I have art. I made a living from my creativity for 11 years but when I closed my shop everything spiralled down (too many to tell). Thank you for your generosity. I feel validated with the conclusion that I should continue to do art everyday. Kia ora.

  71. Barb Kulas on January 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Wow Anna, I saw your post on my cell phone and thought “Oh my goodness what has happened?” After reading your experiences I was somewhat relived that you were speaking of the past. You seem so happy in your new studio and I know you are because you are living life from the art of your heart.

    Art is very personal. Your art is you. So it now makes sense to me that you would share a personal story with us just as you share your talent. Thank-you so very much. And Happy New Year!!!!!

  72. Debra Jenkinson on January 5, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I lost my soul mate just over two months ago so have really struggled to be motivated. We were married for 40 years ( together for 43) . Although I am still grieving I have found that drawing and painting is a great distraction and stop my brain from thinking too much. So for Debra who has struggled to be creative I would say find a local class of like minded people as it will help you to find your creative flair and artistic people will help to get rid of negative feelings and self doubt. Good luck to all of you. I hope to paint more and am thankful for all my arty friends that keep me going.

  73. Julie on January 5, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    I’m so happy that you found your forever love in painting. I know how devastating an affair can feel. Been there. It’s so true that when you find a joyful hobby, such as painting, it can distract you from worries. I see the happiness in the work that you do now. Thanks and keep on painting.

  74. Mary on January 5, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    Every time someone shares such a private piece of their life….others loose pieces of the blame, shame and guilt making space back in their lives for some joy and happiness…. self -esteem and confidence. Painting did that for me. I still look at my work and I still cannot believe what I have created. Thank you for sharing. My soul just got lifted.

  75. Anna Stewart on January 5, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    After a few medical problems all of which were caused by “stress” – stress of putting family first and catering to their needs and putting my needs at the end of the list – I decided that enough was enough. I now allocate every Sunday to my painting including the tutorials and my husband has bought himself a kayak and goes fishing – you would be amazed at the difference it has made – my paintings have improved and I have been lucky to win some prizes. I now need to allocate some time to learning about modern technology i.e. my new phone and Ipad. But for the first time in a long time I am at peace with-myself and totally hooked on painting – thanks Anna your tutorials are fantastic.

  76. Silvia Sunesen on January 5, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Anna
    Thank you for sharing such a deeply emotional and touching personal story
    What a wonderful artist and special woman you are
    Congratulations on your success
    It certainly hasn’t been easy. Life and art are a challenge
    I will definitely do the scheduling. A great New Years resolution
    God bless

  77. Charlotte Bullock on January 6, 2017 at 12:59 am

    Blessings and Love to you!! As my new husband said: been there, done that, got the T shirt!! I believe he made the ” starter husband” worth it all!! Enjoy you are in a huge club these days. A very special club for very special people.

  78. Sandra Bell on January 6, 2017 at 1:59 am

    Thank you for sharing…You are such an inspiration to me. May your creativity go from strength to strength..

  79. Deborah on January 6, 2017 at 2:50 am

    From the ages of 10 to 15 years old I spent 6-10 hours in my bedroom pencil or charcoal drawing, and/or painting my walls with Disney characters. Having a dysfunctional family life dropped me deeply into myself and art. At 15, I found distraction in most anything not part of my household so art was left behind, for 40 years! A 40-year life span spent moving as far away as possible from family, marrying a very bad man but surprisingly, raising a most wonderful daughter, all the while, struggling to find peace. Which included a whole lot of professional help. I met and married my best friend 2 years ago. He opened up a whole new world for me in many ways, and with that I found my love for making all kinds of art. A very overwhelming and fabulous undertaking with the plethora of electronic access to numerous art mediums, bloggers and classes. I’ve decided on watercolor but had no idea where to start accept I’ve been happily drawing and painting but know I need more formal art education. Therein starts the “better late than never” half of my story….

  80. Nancy B. Beasley on January 6, 2017 at 2:51 am

    Anna thank you for sharing such a private part of your life. We all carry “baggage” even those who lead high profile lives. I lost my husband four years ago after a seven year struggle with strokes, brain surgeries, seizures and being in and out of nursing homes. We were married for 47 years and he was my life. The first year I threw myself into volunteer work, the second I taught myself to quilt by hand and later that same year old friends brought me recipe cards I had drawn in pen and ink of vegetables and then painted for his mother forty odd years before. That rekindled my interest in painting.. I started out in pen and ink and then that led naturally into water color. My first pieces were pine cones and the lichen on tree bark similar to the work you posted recently in your school. After a 45 year absence I found myself painting any where from 4 to 6 hours a day and haven’t stopped since. My only regret is I waited so long to get back to it! I admire your work and am currently taking your classes on line and find myself approaching the greeting cards I paint in an entirely new light. I feel that painting is, expressing my self to others and through my work I reach out and hopefully brighten some one else’s day. Keep the inspirations coming!

  81. Tracey Bird on January 6, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Anna and being so open and honest. You are an inspiration to so many people. When I came across your website, it gave me the confidence I needed to get me painting and creating. I have always loved to paint but in the past I have put it off because I lacked the confidence and the time. Within the last year I actually started showing my art work to people other than my immediate family. I think your videos really inspire. Being a mother of four and working part time doesn’t leave a lot of time for me but I’ve made time and this has only made me a better mom and wife. It gives me, should I say, added joy. My grandma was an artist and I loved to hear stories of her adventures growing up and her passion for painting. I remember as a little girl she would have us sit for hours while she would do pastel portraits of us. She was extremely talented. She passed away at the age of 91 this past year but my hope is to carry on her creative side in my own family. Thank you for putting so much time and thought into what you do and for making it such a positive, encouraging place for others to feel good about posting their paintings. I’m so happy that you did find a great, supportive man!

  82. Sandra de on January 6, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Thank you Anna for your honesty and courage in telling your story. So pleased to hear you have found a soul mate and I am grateful you continued to pursue your brilliant artistic talent. Signing up for your tutorials has been one of the best things I did.. It has given me the skills and courage to take a leap of faith and paint. I have found the process to be so tranquil as I immerse myself in the moment and notice the detail in our beautiful world. I lost both my parents when I was relatively young but I am blessed with a loving husband and 2 great kids and I am so grateful for everyday that I have with them.

    Painting now has become a regular part of my life and a way for me to share something I enjoy with family, friends and with an online class of like minded people. Thanks also to everyone who have shared their stories it is always lovely to learn a little bit about each other.

  83. Meredith Childress on January 6, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Thanks, Anna, for sharing such a deeply personal part of your life. Your story helps us all to realize that we aren’t alone in this big old world in which we struggle along on bad days and question ourselves even on good ones. My husband died when I was 56 and I never dreamed I’d end up spending the next 20 years the way I did. But I’m encouraged to begin painting once more and to enjoy every day that is given to me. I love your paintings and I enjoy your spirit when you talk about them. Thank you for sharing your talent in pictures and words!

  84. Wendy on January 6, 2017 at 7:29 am

    My love of Sewing and watercolour painting has helped through all the rough tumbles life has sent to me. I totally agree with you whole heartedly.
    Your painting talent is immeasurable keep going

  85. Sue Wall on January 6, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Hi Anna.Thank you for sharing the disasters in your life.
    Thank goodness you mangaed to keep your dog,your painting and a relationship with your stepson
    This year has been very challenging for me.I have had three hospital stays to repair a botched operation that was done six years ago.
    I have not completed one of your beautiful works this year. However,I love what you do,
    and have achieved .All the very best for 2017.I hope you go on to inspire many.
    Kindest regards Sue Wall

  86. Navaz D'Cruz on January 6, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Thank you Anna for making yourself vulnerable in sharing your story. Interestingly the same thought spurred me to pick up my brushes after nearly 30 years! I am happily married for 25 years now. However as a wife and parent we can live our whole life serving the needs of others and loose ourselves in that.
    What struck me was once the nest empties, and work winds down, is there anything I do ,that I do just for me, my enjoyment? The answer was quite revealing!!! That’s when I decided to return to a lost love – painting.
    Your blog has come as a reminder again. I don’t need to wait to retire, or the children to leave home or worse still for tragedy to strike before I begin to invest in myself. Lets paint simply because I enjoy it!!!

  87. Debra Farrell on January 6, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Been there, worn the T shirt! For 20 years I I was in a similar situation and it was shere stubbornness on my part that made me stay in one of the most destructive relationships one can imagine. We started out with nothing and at the end of our relationship we (to the outside world) had made it.
    Huge Georgian house, swimming pool, snooker room, 2 acre garden that I worked in from sunrise to sunset, my garden was my therapy, together with my painting. My partner was a drinker and a nasty one. I did actually leave him 27 times but the promises of change always took me back. Then one day whilst reading his text messages to his flame of the moment I asked myself what it was I was fighting so hard to keep and I really couldn’t find an answer other than my determination not to be beaten. I packed that day, left with nothing but a bed, my paints and paper, a small TV and some sun loungers which my daughter and I used until I could find work as I previously worked with the man who had taken me for granted for so long. For anyone reading this who may feel trapped in a situation, it’s never too late to say enough is enough.
    I also had a happy ending Anna, I found my soul mate who takes care of me just as much as I take care of him. our children are Chihuahuas x 10! Thank you for sharing Anna xxx

  88. jeff on January 6, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Anna .. wow.. you are so awesome and such an inspiration. i am so glad i found you and i am painting it has been such a joy. and there are so many little lessons as well. especially something simple like buying paints that are good quality and performance.. thank you for you and thank you for sharing. xoxo jeffrey

  89. Wilma (Holland) on January 6, 2017 at 10:55 am

    Dear Anna, what an amazing story.
    How brave you are, sharing your personal story with your followers.
    Well done! you are an inspiration to many.
    Wishing you health and all the best for 2017

  90. Erika Hefer on January 6, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Thanx for being so honest – so encouraging to see that success isn’t for the perfect or select few. Being truly happy is staying true to yourself no matter what and not trying to fit other people’s mold or trying to please.

  91. Mary Caton on January 6, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Oh Anna I am so sorry to hear of all the troubles you have had, but saying that there is always a reason for these things happening, if not you would never have met your soulmate and you wouldn’t be as happy as you are today, I am so happy for you as you are an amazing artist

    Love to you

    Mary Caton

  92. Beth on January 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Well you certainly did have a rough time. I am so sorry. However, I am glad you have a new partner who appreciates you and encourages your creativity Anna. Keep the ball rolling……

  93. Cynthia L on January 6, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I have experienced similar times when I was miserable and turning to art work nurtured me and made me whole again. I discovered during those times that my ability see and achieve much better results with the art work had actually improved. I think it was because I have always been drawn to admiring the work of other artists such as yourself. Even when I was not working at it myself. I have spoken to other artists and they experienced similar results. Thank you so much, you have a very beautiful soul.

  94. Suzanne on January 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Thank you for your insight into your painting process and how making it a priority is crucial. I have a similar marital story to yours . My marriage lasted over twenty years and I ended up with chronic fatigue syndrome from the stress of a demanding, hypercritical partner. Thankfully, after leaving, I recovered from this.

    As a former graphic designer, I have now made painting central to my life.

    I admire your candor and it is inspiring to see how you have made your career central. Our creative purpose is the only thing we really have in life! People can come and go.

  95. June on January 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    You are very brave to share this with us, also all the other people sharing their problems as well. Two or three years ago my daughter was very seriously ill and we thought she would be handicapped all her life. Thankfully with good treatment she has pulled through the worst, but still have ongoing problems and has a peritonial shunt which causes problems and has trouble with her eyes and hands,but she is very plucky. I really never stop worrying about her, but I find the painting really helps me take my mind off things. I am very lucky though to have been happily married for 55 years and have a supportive husband. You are a very plucky lady as well. Thank you Anna for your wonderful tutorials and art they are a gift to us all. Best wishes for 2017.

  96. Kimberly on January 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Sharing such emotional and intimate details is so very hard. I am amazed even more by you now, sweet Anna…

    Hugs from Houston

  97. Elizabeth on January 6, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    At 57 I had to live with a man who refused to speak to me for 2 years nor was I allowed to eat anything from the fridge. I left with my clothes and had to leave my two precious cats and 3 Maltese terriors. I started to make greetings cards and I had a partime job. At 77 I am painting (as an amature) and I feel all your unhappiness. Your paintings are just beautiful and I am so glad you were able to get over such a miserable life. Much love

  98. Mary V on January 6, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your inspiring story! I think that is very brave. I was in a somewhat similar situation too. I was blessed to find my soulmate (even after age 45!) after an abusive first marriage as well. My wonderful husband is so supportive of the time I spend painting. My membership in your school was my Christmas present from him this year!
    Thank you so much for the way you work to generously share your talent.( Not all artists are like that!). I love your work, your wonderful, warm and effective teaching, and the friendly embrace of this great online community!

  99. Beth James on January 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Happy New Year Anna!
    You have the Right Attitude!
    I am sorry to hear you had to go through that experience.
    Art and painting is intrinsic and certainly helps block out negative experiences and negative people.

    I love Art!!!!

  100. Nancy Smith on January 6, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    You message is very similar to mine only I stuck it out for 32 years and 4 children later. I gave up my painting to concentrate on my husband and children. Once I left, like you, I started to get back into my water colours but my confidence was gone. I felt like I couldn’t do it, that as my husband would say “you’re just incomplete and selfish ” because I wanted to do something just for me. At 70 years old one would think I was in control. My painting is truly helping me to feel better about myself. However, I am still not comfortable sharing my work even though my family says it is good. I know I will someday. I love both your lessons and blogs.

  101. Linda Boylan on January 6, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    In a painting hole right now. My teacher and I have had a creative rift. I no longer have the confidence in my choices I did a year ago. I have a painting with a bare spot because I was not willing to say “I like it this way”. I probably will never finish it because now it is not my vision. Once you stop it is hard to pick up the brush again

  102. Mei Chu on January 7, 2017 at 1:34 am

    Hi Anna, I am Mei Chu from Msia, thank you so much for the effort to stay us connected in this Globe. Opened and saw ur email was a surprise for this New Year! I already started the engine to paint. Really happy that I found u coz I love your passions and systems=)

  103. Linda Ford on January 7, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Thanks for posting this and how you felt in a bad marriage. Your story sounds just like mine also. I have enjoyed painting for years. I can get totally into painting some part of a flower or animal and forget all the bad stuff that goes on in this world. I feel refreshed and really enjoy the compliments from friends.

  104. Gaylene on January 7, 2017 at 1:49 am

    Anna, thank you for sharing your story, which really relates to the tremendous healing power of nurturing our creativity. My own experience leading up to my second divorce was very similar, only I stuck it out far too long with two children. Throughout difficult times, my creative outlets were so necessary for retaining a sense of inner strength – something my ex or other unkind people or circumstances could not crush.You are so bright and cheerful and such a talented, thoughtful teacher that it really brightens my day when I am able to paint along with one of your tutorials. I do intend to take more time to paint just for me. (I can hardly wait for retirement in a year or two!) I am grateful for your online school boosting my confidence to explore watercolour painting for the joy of it, along with a community of like-minded creative people supporting one another with kindness, in a sometimes unkind world. Well done! Thank you!

  105. Elizabeth on January 7, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Anna, hw Brave…and after you worked through the difficult epos..there you were! I had been divorced from someone who was incredibly cruel and physically and mentally mean…I left with my very tiny children never to return. , Eventually my divorce went through and I walked away with the tiny children and some furniture. all my things that I created with were trash and missing. The first thing I sold was my bed so I could feed my children..this went on for sometime …finally things got better, but I missed painting…so, last year I joined your school …as I was beginning I was struck with problems with my eyes…But after all that…I have begun again..I survived, and just want to paint! Thank you… and thank you for reminding me That I can be my worst critic…and just PAINT!

  106. Wendy on January 7, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am self employed and care for an elderly somewhat frail husband. Have not painted for some time but last year I started a botanic art course which has been a life saver for me. Slowly gaining my confidence again and that little bit of ‘me’ time is so very welcome.

  107. Liz on January 7, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    I really appreciate you sharing your divorce experience. I forwarded it to one of my daughter’s who is struggling in her marriage. Your observations and insights as a result of your experience are valuable and helpful in my own endeavor to lead a more fulfilling life. Thank you.

  108. Raachel on January 7, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Anna,
    I have been there and done that, and left…however my situation is slightly different in that my second relationship has changed dramatically, I am now more of a friend and carer at 48. However your blog has made me realise that I do everything for everyone and then slump in front of the TV. We are moving home and so having read this I think its time for a change, and between work, a masters and running the house perhaps an hour a week painting may do me good. Thank you and happy new year to all.

  109. Nadira on January 7, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Hi Anna
    Thank you for being so frank about your trials. I’m going through a very bad time trying to get a settlement from my ex. But I find great solace in painting but there are days when the depression gets the better of me.
    I have three beautiful granddaughters who make life worth living.
    I was married 35 years and also like yourself had no emotional support, was mentally abused and other nasty things!
    Hoping this year will be the end of it all, it’s in the hands of the lawyers now.
    But I will be painting no matter what!!
    Thank you for your kind comments and I will join up once this is all over!!

  110. Catherine Zanetti on January 8, 2017 at 2:24 am

    WOW Anna, I wonder did you realise when taking the risk to be so vulnerable you would unleash such a flow of sharing of pain, of healing and of joy. You are nurturing a whole community of creatives through your sharing of your art and your life – Thank you.
    Though I have not posted online yet I’m loving your videos their clarity and attention to detail.
    Thanks for your generosity.
    Much appreciated

  111. Claralee Street on January 8, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    I like you “Starter Husband” phrase, mine was “Wasband”

    Happiest of New Years.

  112. Farah on January 8, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Dear Anna,

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I am so glad to join this school which gave us a chance to meet an amazing person like you. You are a really good teacher, artist and person. We love you, Anna! May the New Year be filled with Happiness for us all. (:


  113. Chandra Anantha on January 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Dear Anna

    I have taken up watercolour painting after my retirement. Inspiration came from friends and by looking at your website.
    Thanks for your New Year email wishes. I wish you Happy and Healthy New Year. Happy painting!
    Kind Regards

  114. Adrienne on January 8, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    And the best thing of all is discovering all the inner strength we have to survive emotional abuse – fantastic opportunity to then become the complete human being each of us is meant to be. My own experience is similar though I also took 3 children very many years ago. I look back now and appreciate life’s ups and downs as each achievement makes me a better person and I value all life’s lessons and the ones yet to learn! Wonderful you!

  115. Roxanne on January 9, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Dear Anna and everyone. I was amazed at the stories that were posted here. I felt the pain, I felt the sorrow and I felt the urge to find happiness in whatever you all want to pursue. I can say I felt like I was there with you. Although there is no need to post my feelings here as they are one in the same in some cases, I can only say how wonderful I feel when I see Anna’s paintings and to know that my inner creativity has been set afire. I wrote a little poem below to display my feelings about painting, whatever medium you use. Just know, God is with you and will give you the strength you need to move forward with the love you have to give. Trust me, I know.

    I do paint acrylics but have dabbled in watercolor recently and hope to pursue more courses with Anna to extend my talents. Painting is the inner part of self; and that, no one can take away.


    It can take you to places long, long ago;
    Bring you closer to loved ones you know;
    Make you alert and aware of your feelings.
    The reality is, it will help with your healings.

    Painting can be an art you never knew;
    Something so special from inside it grew;
    A way to reveal what your own heart can tell,
    So others can hear you from what you do well.

    Don’t ever lose the dreams that you create.
    Some paints and a canvas just may be your fate.
    Give of yourself by way of your brush
    And receive inner joy and a happiness rush.

    There may be good days and some may be bad.
    There may be times when you’re feeling real sad.
    Just know when painting it can all go away
    When yesterday’s feelings become a painting today.

    By Roxanne La Chance
    Copyright 1-8-2017

  116. Cherry Budiharja on January 9, 2017 at 12:42 am

    Thanks for being so open with your fellow students,I to have been in the same situation,left 2 years ago,took both my kids and start to paint again. I hope i could be as good as you but sometime its just so hard to get started and thinking i will never be as good as you are. Best wishes for you and your amazing career as a painter, i really look up to you and how you paint. I hope someday i could meet you in person and not take real painting classes with you.

  117. Sanie Key on January 9, 2017 at 3:21 am

    HI Anna, Good for you. Here’s what made a big difference for me: I have a disease called COPD. I am on oxygen 24 hours a day and right now am home bound due to the temperature in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho being too cold for me to breathe in when outside. I am physically slowed down while in the house even. So, I am very glad that I am an artist and the good Lord gave me such a talent. So I am a ” Happy Painter”. I have some commissions I am working on and some projects of my own, including some Botanical Illustrations. I please myself by eating properly an resting when I need to. I have learned how to ask for help when I need it. I have learned to focus on what I have and not worry about what I don’t have. I know my year is going to be good and I even plan on winning some competitions! Won’t that be fun! The Best to you this New Year!!! PS. Your artwork is phenominal! Sandie Key

  118. Ewa Turyn on January 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Dziękuję Ci Aniu za to szczere wyznanie! Jesteś utalentowana, piękna, młoda, mądra i silna – jeszcze dużo dobrego spotka Cię w życiu – tego Ci życzę w Nowym Roku. Ja zaczęłam malować po przejściu na emeryture (nigdy wczesniej tego nie robiłam!), a to akrylem, pastelami, akwarelami, nawet olejem. Chodziłam na różne kursy, ale ciągnęło mnie bardzo do malarstwa botanicznego, lecz nie wiedziałam, jak się do tego zabrać. Szukałam w internecie, zbierałam różne książki, ale dopiero Twoje tutoriale i ostatnia książka pokazały jak to malować. Wysłałam Ci na Twój adres mailowy moj ostatni obrazek – dzika róża, ale nie wiem czy doszło.
    Mam nadzieję, że tłumacz internetowy poprawnie przetłumaczy mój post z języka polskiego.
    Pozdrawiam serdecznie Ewa Turyn

  119. Yvonne Ward on January 10, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Hi Anna,
    My life went through a similar series of events as you did. After 23 years of marriage, my husband decided to go for greener pastures. One day after he got home late, he decided that married life was not for him. He wanted a divorce. At that time we had a young child, a boy of 5 years who recently staftred kindergarten. I was in shock and because I had a child to raise, I had to find the strength within me to keep going. Like you, I did eveything in our home, managed as best as I could. I persevered with the loving support of both of my parents. My mom told me to return to my painting and to try to sell my work. I was a full-time mother so I had to earn income. I discovered how much I enjoyed painting again. When my son napped I painted, read art books and magazines and bought art supplies. I did street fairs, and art fairs and even got to exhibit my works in three at galleries in new york. The peace I found kept me grounded and I managed to continue living. Painting brought me joy, security, peace, happiness and my love of beauty did wonders for my heart and soul. My exhubby and I over the years put the past behind us and although we are still divorced, he is a good father to our son. My son is now 23 years old, a college graduate and now a Master’s grad student. I forgave because painting again gave me a wonderful sense of purpose. I rediscovered myself and my talent for art. It gave me self-confidence, which was almost destroyed in my marriage. I grew into the kind of person I wanted to be. And I fell in love with beauty and nature and animals. My divorce gave me a gift…the gift of self. And I thank my mother who gave me her support and encouragement, both of which I did not receive from my husband. You have been such an inspiration to me as an artist. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve learned there is life after divorce…a new life!

  120. Lisa Huskey on January 10, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Thank you for sharing your story and your talent. When I retired I bought me some paints and started painting. I love it, it brings me joy and is so relaxing. I wish I had started painting earlier, but life gets in the way. My dad was a doctor and painted for relaxation. I think he would be proud that I have picked up the brushes.

  121. Kathy England on January 11, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Anna, Thanks for sharing this part of your personal story. I am a mother of 6 children, and grandmother of 7. For obvious reasons, even though I am by nature a very creative person, I have not often done things for myself. I have always admired watercolour paintings, and had this desire to learn the art. So here I am FINALLY at age 64 just now beginning my journey in watercolour; and SO excited and blessed to have YOU, Anna as a teacher, and my supportive husband. As busy as my life is, I have chosen to set aside Wednesdays as my painting day. So with that said, have a blessed day! Kathy England

  122. June Addicott on January 15, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Hi Anna,thank you for sharing something so personal,I appreciate all the work you put in, you certainly have helped me to focus, so that I can forget any negative issues in my life. Very best wishes for the future,keep up the fantastic website .June Addicott

  123. Amy on January 16, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I was so happy to read your post!
    I have had a very similar experience with my (ex) partner, and I had felt so sad and lost. But now, dedicating to my favorite activities, art and other creative work, I feel again myself!
    I share what you say, and want to thank you for your sharing your very parsonal stories that give me more and more strength! Thanks a lot!!

  124. Margaret on January 18, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I’ve debated whether to write about myself, 2016 has been a nightmare of a year having been diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma which had nothing to do with being in the sun, having to undergo 3 ops on the sole of my foot which left me hobbling around for 9 months, in the middle of all this I had a bad blood clot in my right eye which resulted in temporary loss of sight in that eye. I told the specialist I’d burst into tears if he told me that there was nothing he could do to restore my sight. He told me that was not necessary, as he fix the problem with laser treatment. You can imagine my relief. I am 72 years old, have been china painting for a long time, my china painting teacher who is a gifted artist showed me her work, I thought I’d give water colours a go, & which I must say my teacher encouraged me to try. I got your book from the library and then decided I’d join your school. I have been struggling as there is so much to learn right from mixing the paints as it’s very different to china painting. It was not long after I signed on for your school that everything around me fell to pieces, I thought I’d start 2017 on a better footing, but alas I am now battling a herniated disc, so am only able to paint for short periods. Of course at times I wonder at my hastiness to start water colours at my tender age, I’m battling on, it’s given me a challenge, lots of paper with half painted work, and when I think I can’t manage, I go back to china painting, so there is lots going on in my old age!

  125. Wendy Renee on January 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Hi Anna,
    It sounds like your ex is a malignant narcissus. I’ve been in a relationship with my share of these special demons. Lol Such people are self-absorbed to the point that they are emotionally, and in some cases, physically abusive. The world is teeming with them but they’re hard to spot because they can be so charming and friendly initially. That’s because they feed off your attention and will do anything to get it. Unfortunately, once they have it, they quickly become bored with having to be concerned with your needs. So they start neglecting you and seeking attention elsewhere (like an affair). But they hate to be alone so they’ll do the minimum to keep you around as a backup. Meanwhile, they discredit and punish you by continuing to be the sweet and charming person towards everyone else but you. In addition to making you yearn for their initial kindness, it also helps them gain friends & family support of any claims they’ve made that it’s your fault the relationship is having problems. Enough gloom & doom. I’m just glad you got out of that toxic relationship and found someone worthy of you.

  126. Julie Bird on March 20, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    I can thoroughly relate to your story here. I am now 60yrs old and only paint in phases. I have recently moved across the country for a new life, new town, new job etc.. I left all my family and friends behind. But I love my new job and flat. Painting has always been what I call one of my coping skills. I’m not good at it but have sold a few, gave some away. One I gave to a care home for their summer raffle and was so happy that an elderly lady got it who used to paint herself and she really appreciated it. So I am ready for a new phase of painting. Thank you for being so inspiring. Julie Bird.x

  127. Sonja on May 20, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    This is so very true! Painting and creating what I love and sharing it with everybody that is interested, even if I am not the best, has given a lot of meaning to my life. Thank you for sharing Anna.

  128. Neil on August 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Dear Anna, thank you for sharing and thank you for all the great art work you produce. I”m in the middle of trying to produce a great masterpiece and not getting any where. I”m not doing it for myself, I”m trying to impress my contemporaries. Now to try again.
    Love and best wishes , Neil.

    • Anna Mason on August 22, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Doing it for yourself is definitely key Neil – go for it!

  129. Rabea on September 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    I send my two exercises, pear and white flower, thank you very much.

  130. Rabea on September 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Botanical drawing is too delicate, did my best, I don’t have enough time, but I’ll do my homework.
    I translated each lesson, I even buy the book (modern painting of flower).
    (Peinture moderne de fleurs ).

  131. Debbie Thomas on September 23, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Dear Anna, I am sorry to hear of your woes but I am glad to hear of your happiness. I am also pleased that your painting has given you so much. I have been an oil painter for over 30years. I changed to watercolour because of many things and have found it very hardtop do. I am still learning how to use watercolours. Finding you site was the best thing that I could have done. I have done 5 paintings already. I can see the improvement already. Thankyou. As I have a husband with altzeimers it is good for me to find something that I can do at home and look after him at the same time. I am so looking forward to doing more tutorials. Thankyou again Anna. ps I have your book and I love it.

  132. CAROLINA `PORTABELLA GOMEZ on September 27, 2017 at 5:36 am

    Thank you for explain your story. You ´re right, it´s very important to have time for ourselves, to develope our creativity and passion.

  133. hillarytaylor on February 27, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing your amazing story, Anna! What a blessing these seemingly awful experiences can turn out to be. How wonderful that painting gave you joy and carried you through the challenges! And I love happy endings!

    I went through a similar experience and even with 2 kids I decided to devote some time to taking care of myself first – over the past 3 years I finished my Masters, and post-graduate diploma, went on a 6-month internship in Myanmar and landed a career I had thought was only attainable in my dreams. And of course I also took up a couple of hobbies, one of which is painting – and here I am, a much happier and more present parent, a supportive girlfriend for my soulmate 🙂 It’s true, you can’t pour from an empty cup!!

  134. Harriet Zwaskis on April 18, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Good for you, you saw when things weren’t working and I believe that even if he wasnt cheating, you would have left sooner or later. So glad you are happy now.

    I’ve been married 3 times, the last time being my sole mate and love of my life. We were together for 32 years, when he passed from cancer in 2010. He is always with me, but I have moved on and became more involved in painting.

    • Anna Mason on April 18, 2019 at 1:06 pm

      So sorry to hear of your loss Harriet but pleased you have coped so well and are painting lots now.

  135. Karen James on February 29, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    Your story is, in so many ways, similar to my own. It’s both reassuring and inspiring to read this. Thanks for sharing it.

  136. Lesley Bridges on January 12, 2023 at 11:29 pm

    Oh, Anna,
    I can’t get enough of hearing your stories. Right now, I am coming out of a difficult few months. I have a loved one with a significant mental illness and it has taken up a lot of my time. My New Year’s Resolution was to paint every day for at least ten minutes after the noon meal. So far, I am achieving it. Like you, I feel I am coming home to myself again. We are all benefitting because you came home to yourself. I like to think that I can do that for my loved ones in my own small way by painting again. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Anna!

  137. Lorna Riley on January 14, 2023 at 7:38 pm

    I’m so grateful that you shared your story Anna. Your paintings are pure perfection and gaspingly beautiful. Ironically they both GIVE me air while taking my breath away! I’ve learned in the short few months you helped me get started that it grounds me/us to something essential as humans. If cave people took time out from their busy hunting and gathering schedule to paint on cave walls, painting answers a fundamental need for creative self-expression. They took time for themselves.

    Thank you for letting us know that life has dished you its fair share of scar tissue. (Because your paintings are pure perfection, I imagined your life to be as well!) I try to paint or do something related to it every day. It’s my top priority and I feel “off” if I miss it. In my recent retirement, I have the wounds of a long stressful career and 25 years of dealing with unrelenting physical pain and fatigue. There is no cure for what I have–chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Painting has given me the meditative practice my body is demanding now. I will be eternally grateful to you.

  138. Gerrie on July 14, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    My husband became last year the diagnoses: beginning Alzheimer. He is 70 years old now…and I was a teacher for many years. Now I have to take care for him.
    I learned of my psychologist that I have to learn to accept this bic change in our lives. I did learn to take every day a moment for myself…and painting is for me the best way to relax and my husband must know that I need that to stay positive.
    I can tell you so much about this proces….but than I feel so much pain and negativity…so I have to relax now….going to my room to paint or to explore colors! thank you for your story????

  139. Anna Mason on July 18, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    Gerrie I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through with your husband. I do hope painting can be a respite for you where you can escape into the flow.

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