Business of Art - Style and Substance

Before last year I had always looked to memories of my grandparent's beloved National Geography magazines with their hyper-realistic images as proof of the fact that, "I can't draw." This was even though I saw and acknowledged and appreciated and maybe even loved other's work that was anything but photorealistic.


Which is why a nugget from my Intro to Studio Art class was so valuable. This was not a class about art technique. It's point was not to teach a student "how to draw/ paint/ sculpt" but to simply allow the student opportunities to draw and paint and sculpt. 

I went into the class wanting to "learn how" so I was frustrated that I was in the "Art for Dummies" class. Yep. That's what I called it in my head. Because I say really rude things in my head. All the time. 

Anyway, I stayed in this particular class at the urging of my friend MJ... and because the other class didn't work with my babysitter's availability. 

It was during one of the first classes that the instructor answered a question that I hadn't heard. It was one of those situations that you tune in only because of realize that the answer applies to you. Looking back, I assume the other student asked, "I want to do x but I don't know if that will work. What do you think? Will it work?"

The instructor, who requested that we address him as "Teacher" began by telling the student that he didn't possess the answer to that question. He explained that it was the decision of the artist.  

He went on to explain that as long as everything is similar and cohesive and intentional then that is the artist's "style" and as such the artist can do whatever it is that she deems appropriate. 

And it seems simple. The same judgey voice that called the class "Art for Dummies" answered Teacher's reply with a very sharp, "Thanks. For nothing. Not a helpful answer. " 

But me, the quiet real me who was sitting in the class with one earbud in listening to Sylvan Esso, she started nodding her at and saying, "Of course."

It was the thing the gave me permission to say, "I don't draw photo realistic images. That's okay. That's not my style."

That day- I didn't immediately have a style. Today, as I write this post I'm still working on honing my style. But tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that, I will be able to look back on that day as the day I started to claim my title of artist. 

A Year of Wine : Wishing You a "Not That Bad" 2017

I have a project in mind.

In this project, I document different parts of the upcoming year by illustrating the wine and tasting notes associated with it.

I have no clue how this project will work. (How often? Which wines? Which occasions?)

But sometimes you have to shift out of "park" and trust that your destination will find you. 

Here's January.

Photoshop Magic : How to Delete a Scanned Paper Background

Over on Instagram, I was recently asked how I "got the paper to come out so white in this photo". The lady thought that I had posted a picture that I had taken of my sketchbook. I explained to her that I was actaully doing some photoshop magic I had learned via Skillshare

But the conversation got me to thinking about how this is one teeny tiny part of Photoshop that I've learned in the last three months that has helped me tremendously in how I and others see my work. I'd love to be able to share this one "trick" of Photoshop to help you.

1. Scan illustrated image in at 600 DPI. {This is generally way too big for the things I want to do with it but "better safe than sorry" is my general art/technology motto.}

2. Open the scan in Photoshop.

3. Duplicate the background layer. 

4. Name the bottom layer "just in case" and then turn it off, i.e. click the eye icon so it's not visible.
Name the top layer "working" and make sure this layer is selected during the next steps.


5. Select the magic wand tool.
Check that the tolerance is set to 20.

6. Click a portion of the image that is paper. This should cause the paper around your illustration to be selected.

Press the delete button. {If the "just in case" layer is off, this should leave a white and grey background around your illustration.}

7. Create a new layer.

8. With the new layer selected, click the "new layer button".
When given an option, select "solid color".
When asked to choose the color, select "#000000".
Click "ok".

9. Pull this layer below your illustration. This will cause the "galaxy spots" to appear {the white paper texture that the magic wand tool missed}.

10. Select the illustration layer and then use the eraser tool to erase the spots and any other non-illustration part of the scan.

11. Turn off {make invisible} the black fill layer.

12. Use the marquee tool to select the image.

13. Copy and paste the selection to a new file.


14. Do a happy dance. Share on social media / in the mail / at your favorite retail store as your heart desires. 


Paige is an artist who has just recently taken a deep dive into learning Photoshop on Skillshare so that she can become a better illustrator. <<< this link will allow you to do the same on Skillshare for 3 months and 99 cents. 

Check it out.

Note to Self : Love, My Word for 2017

The past few years

I've chosen a word to guide my year.

Focus. Growth. Fearless. Abundance. 
All attributes that I wanted to embrace in the year ahead. 

This year nothing was coming to me. 
And I wasn't looking forward to 2017. The divisiveness and anger and lack of community of this past year has bruised my heart a bit and has left my inner introvert wanting to take my family and close friends and hide away a bit.

Effective? Probably not.

That's why, when I saw this limited edition print of Lisa Congdon, I immediately knew I had to have it.


You see, my family plays a lot of cards.

A game {or 12} of Spades has been the way we've passed many many hours of hot sticky humid evenings in East Texas or crisp cold afternoons after a winter holiday in Southern Arkansas.
Playing cards is a place for bantering smack talk, friendly strategy, and a chance to listen to your dad's stories... again. It's a place to learn from people who have been doing life for a lot longer than you and a way show your uncle that you know what you're doing. It is, at the end of the day, a game with no lasting consequences other than drawing you closer to people.


The point of a card game is love. 

So that's what I'm doing in 2017: Focusing on love.

Learning and doing and playing and reading with my son. Spending purposeful time with my husband. Having conversations with people I don't agree with. Making a point to hang out with my friends who I do agree with. Giving myself the space and time and grace I would give to others, thereby loving myself.

The point of this life game is love.

Side note: I took away my model's pacifier. He checked out the awesome art he was being asked to hold and then he decided to run away.


ps. Another way I'm showing love this year? Buying art from some of my favorite artists. I will be showing it here as it makes it way to my home in the Ozarks. 

Business of Art : Why I Blog

Over on my LinkedIn profile, I describe myself as a storyteller. 

I blame it on my dad.
He's the person I remember every holiday, every church get-together, every family reunion sitting around a table drinking a glass of sweet tea and telling his stories.

Stories about he and his three younger brothers moved from East Texas to Portland and the scary old man who lived across the street who they charmed with their southern accents. Stories about how he played high school football defense {on the practice team} against Earl Campbell (who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1977). Stories about how when he first met my maternal grandfather, the older man was sitting on the front porch cleaning his gun. Stories about how, in the absence of my mom and grandmother, he and my grandfather took me to vaccinate cows when I was a toddler and the ridiculous amount of cow manure that ended up all over my tiny blonde toddler body.

As I grew up, I began "starring in" stories that I remembered living through.
Very slowly, I realized that these weren't epic tales of grand adventure. Instead they were everyday happenings that had some sort of sweet or silly ending. He would take an event that happened over two weeks and condense it down to its essence in a 20 minute dialogue that would keep the listeners listening... even if they, like my mother and soon, my brother and I, had heard the story multiple times before.

It's through his stories that I know my dad.

And that's why I blog: to share my stories. Because I think knowing people's' stories is the first step to knowing and through knowing someone. 


Paige Meredith Ray is a storyteller who grew up on a small cattle farm in southern Arkansas, 30 miles away from the Texas state line. She enjoys the occasional glass of sweet tea, but none of that syrup stuff that could mascarade as cough medicine.

Personal Challenge : 100 Illustrations in 100 Days

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you know that I have made the goal of illustrating 100 objects on my kitchen in 100 days (thanks to The Finders which I talked about in this post). I'm calling this project #myillustratedkitchen.

As I type this I am waiting on day three to dry, when I press "publish" I hope to be going strong on day six. As this is my second year to do this, and my third attempt at a 100 day project, I had some "hacks" that I've learned that I wanted to share with you in case you're in the middle of your own personal challenge.

Don't worry about social media

I purposely set this as a goal of this project from the very beginning. The mental pressure of "go make 100 illustrations" is mega intense, at least for me. The addition of "it has to be good enough for the entire world to see via social media!!" is just a bit too much for me. 

To tackle this I post my initial sketch with a totally unedited photo to The Finders FB group as soon as I'm finished. That looks something like this:

Photo Jan 02, 10 38 02 AM.jpg

This immediate posting (to a private group of people who are there to encourage one another) allows me to say, "Goal accomplished!!" which takes the mental weight off. 

From there, I can paint, line, scan and digitize at whatever pace my day (or week or month) calls for. The finished piece of the illustration above looked like this:


work inside the box

When I made the illustration at the top of the page, I didn't have any parameters in mind. Which made this process insanely intimidating- The fact that I could draw 100 ANYTHINGS... Well, my mind basically exploded with all the possibilities... in a bad way.

Which is why I put the constraints around myself and said, "I will only draw things that are physically in my kitchen." This served another two goals:

1. I'm really wanting to do more editorial food illustrations and confining myself to the kitchen allows for me to focus in that space.

2. I'm lazy and forgetful. As in-The less work I have to do outside of drawing and painting, the more likely it will be accomplished. By constricting my scope of objects to that I already have in my house, I am less likely to put it off. I also have to think less about it (no additional items to the grocery list please!); less thinking, more doing.

Make a Plan

The lazy Saturday of December 31 I literally stood in my kitchen and listed out the first ten things I wanted to illustrate and put each object on the calendar on its corresponding day. Will I continue to do this every week? Probably not. But it was another really good example of taking the thinking out of things so I could more easily do the thing that needs doing.

have a bigger goal in mind

This is a bit more philosophical but I think it's important. If you have this crazybig goal looming I think it should "matter". One of my big goals of 2017 is to be published in a national food or home magazine; while this project doesn't directly relate to exactly how that will be accomplished, I know that every day I work on this project I am honing my illustration style and building my portfolio. Those things matter to me and makes it easier to make this a priority.

Have any other suggestions?
Catch me over on Instagram and let me know.


Paige Meredith Ray is an artist and illustrator residing in the Ozark hills. Her word of 2017 is : LOVE. She figures she will need as much love as possible to make it through this next year in one piece.