Master Series Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts


The outside wall of my workspace for the week at ACA  (Casey Matthews)

Earlier this year, I attended an artist residency for a week at the beginning of February.  I almost don’t want to share the info with you, because I want to be able to attend again next year and apparently it was super hard to be accepted.  But I will just have to roll the dice and leave it up to the universe – perhaps other artists need more help than I do?  Anyway, the retreat was a  Master Series Residency with Steve Aimone, located at the beautiful Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, which is known for hosting some of the most prominent artist-in-residence programs in the country.  I don’t know Steve on a personal level, but as a teacher, he is such a gentle soul, incredibly intelligent/knowledgable about art, and knows how to ask you the right questions in order to get you thinking about your own work, and encourage the creative juices to flow.  He specifically knows how to relate to and communicate with women on a level that most men do not. I would not describe myself as overly sensitive and/or easily offended – however most artist can be, and this nurturing environment and approach was recognized, and appreciated.  This was my first “continuing education” workshop of sorts since leaving college – and thanks to Steve the transition was an easy and humbling experience.


I was so excited to be there that I’m pretty sure I did not even sleep 30 minutes the first night (and I looked like death the rest of the week because of it).  I also experienced a brief wave of sadness (the weird kind of sadness, because you realize you are so thankful and happy) –  as it occurred to me that I was so starved for creative companionship, advice, and connection.  I feel so creatively isolated on this small island – and it was so incredibly refreshing to be around these like-minded individuals (only abstract artists) who were so serious about becoming better artists and honing their craft. Everyone was excited to learn new things about technique, problem solving, new materials, and about themselves through their art.

There were all levels of artists represented at the residency, and it was cool to be able to openly observe everyone while they worked, how they set up their work space, incorporate such different/creative materials, resolved problems, and learn how everyone approaches their personal creative process.  Artists are such diverse creatures, and it was invigorating to listen and engage in ideas while learning and evolving myself.  Most artists, like myself, (or at least the artist I admire) are more PROCESS oriented: Connected and immersed in the process making of the work as a “system” that is  open-ended, curious, problem-solving, exploratory, innovative, individual, invested, and connected  – as opposed to (final) PRODUCT oriented.  Most artists at the retreat seemed to carefully plan or premeditate their intent with the work, or series, while I tend to approach things more intuitively and see where things take me.  This sounds odd (because most people wish they could approach art making like I do) – but I wanted to try and get away from that unplanned “intuitive” behavior that I have always relied on, in order to place limitations on myself, and attempt to create work with more of an objective, underlying grid, and goal.  Or at least balance the intuition and intention.  It was a challenge to constantly re-shift my focus on creating a successful push/pull, instead of the loose, organic circular moment I tend to gravitate toward.  I wanted to get out of my comfort zone – which is what keeps things interesting for me. (I don’t know if any of this makes sense.)  I swear I learned more about myself and creating art than I did in my 7-8 years of college.  In fact I’m not sure what I learned in college (if anything.)

It was such a luxury to be able to paint 12-14 hours a day, have all my meals taken care of, and not worry about the distractions of daily life.  The overall result were these very ‘quiet’ paintings.  Even more muted, with texture, and editing than I normally do/use –  and I love how peaceful they seem. Several of these took me awhile to resolve while considering all of the layers and shapes that were floating and sliding around, all the negative space makes me feel mysterious and sterile, yet complete (if that makes any sense.) They are not too crazy “out there” – or at first glance even appear all that different from my current work, however, the underlying structure, rules, and intention I was striving for have already become a catalyst for my new work in progress (photos come).

Lindys Wall

Casey Matthews   – Finished, framed and hung on a brick wall (four – 40×30’s).



Casey Matthews “Caledonia” (72×48)

Anyway, I’m anxious to see how all this hard work pays off in the studio in the next few months/year.  I am my own worst critic.  I came home feeling invigorated, yet like all my old art was absolute crap, that I never knew thing about art, and wanted to paint over all the work in my studio.  I am especially anxious to tackle all the unfinished “stinkers” that I have lurking around the studio – haunting me.  I am trying to not view them as unfinished failures, but as challenges.  I need to edit more, and continue to work through the layers instead of losing all hope when something is not instantly coming together.  I also need to abandon the notion that work is ever really finished – but just cast off during important moments.

“To finish a picture? What nonsense!  To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul!”    -Picasso

I am spoiled in the fact that things/creativity normally come fairly easily to me.  But I also know that I get bored with things that I feel like I have really conquered/accomplished – and that is when a shift in the work usually occurs for me.  It is my (new) intention to incorporate more areas of discomfort or discord – to engage the viewer more – both in a good and bad way. Even if something irritates you that is better than being glossed over as a “purdy picture that matches the sofa.”  I don’t really want to create such safe, pretty, obviously feminine art – but work that has more dimension and soul.  We will see if I can do these things.

Now that I have been back tackling the “ghosts” of unfinished work, I do miss the connection with other artists, but this “alone time” has forced me to explore this new phase of growth in my process on my own terms.  I have been spring cleaning in a sense, and already revisiting old work.  Here are a few “problem children” that had been sitting around the studio and I have taken the time to (mostly) resolve after coming home.  Either I am just tired of working on them, or they have become some of my favorites – none the less, they have been released from the nest:



Casey Matthews   “Valor of Pallor”    (30×40)



Casey Matthews “Third Eye” (30×30)



Casey Matthews “Proximity to the Ocean” (40×30)


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Clarity and Perspective

I have learned a tremendous amount about life this past year. Some in business, some in personal. (You will be given the opportunity to view some lovely new work while to are reading my preach long drawn out revelations)

Casey Matthews "Don't Arouse Suspicion" 30x24x3 (2016)

Casey Matthews            “Don’t Arouse Suspicion”            30x24x3            (2016)

I’m not normally a competitive person, however these past few years have been so good to me – I am in a competition with myself to push ahead even further this year.   Artists don’t really talk about money much – so I have no idea where I fall among my peers, but my main goal is to keep creating (what I consider) good quality work that I am proud of – and still hope I still get paid.  I realize I’m not cutting edge, or solving the world problems.  Art is considered a luxury item, and most of my work is considered more “decorative” which some frown upon – but I don’t care.  I’m having a blast, and I’m thankful for every second of it. I love it when people tell me my work makes them happy, brightens a space, or they frequently discover new things in my work…

Casey Matthews "Overactive Imagination" 30x24x3 (2016)

Casey Matthews              “Overactive Imagination”              30x24x3               (2016)

Shedding negativity is so amaze-balls!  Last year I ended a few professional relationships with people who are toxic, stagnant, negative, and holding me back.  I don’t like it when people repeatedly waste my time, are late, or no-shows, avoid me, repeatedly don’t return email or phone calls.  I don’t like it when people are unprofessional, constantly ask for discounts, are dishonest about prices, sales,  where my art is (or isn’t,) and/or where my money is.   I was starting to feel like a gangsta in a shakedown.  Why can’t people just be mature, honest individuals?  It is sooo much easier to be a person of integrity – you don’t have to keep up with as much stuff (lies).  So – after I ended said “toxic” relationships with energy vampires  –  a HUGE weight was lifted off me and I felt this awe-inspiring surge enter my creative being.   (Perhaps I was channeling my dead Mother?) So when I do find people to work with that are highly respectful, thankful, and professional; who are willing to invest time and money in me, and believe in me – I cherish those relationships. Unfortunately the learning lesson can be long and painful dirt road before you find the gold.

I had someone give me some valuable clarity:   That all of your galleries will want you to be successful and succeed.  The more accomplishments, and exposure you gain, adds to your overall popularity and credibility – and everyone wins across the board.   If you have a gallery that is very competitive, trash talkin, greedy, pushy, passive aggressive, and/or territorial – those are red flags and you should consider other places/people/organizations that with nurture your career and stick with you for the long haul.

Casey Matthews "Put Your Game Face On" 24x24x3 (2016)

Casey Matthews             “Put Your Game Face On”              24x24x3               (2016)

I have had several people/artists reach out to me asking advice about galleries, and business advice.  For some reason I must give off this vibe that I’ve got it all under control, have a factory going in my studio,  and know everything about the art business  – but I’m not sure where that comes from.  Most of the time I feel that I’m just winging it. My strength is that I not afraid to do anything, ask any questions, ask about opportunities, and jump in and get my hands dirty. I don’t wait around for things to happen to me – I try to make them happen; yet I still try to remain humble and accommodating. It’s a weird combination.  I realize that things will not be handed to me without patience and hard work – success has to be earned, and relationships are cultivated.  You can be the best artist out there, but if nobody knows who you are – it does not really count.

I have learned the importance of having artist friends – and the need to ask questions.  Ask questions about potential galleries, art contacts, experiences, supplies, workshops, retreats, grants, etc.  Don’t just assume the grass it always greener in the gallery over the fence.  Don’t assume things about galleries (or artists) because so and so artist that you respect shows there.  Don’t assume that an artist will not share information with you (maybe they will, maybe they won’t.) Ask questions!  I have found most artists are very open and generous with their information, as long as you are thankful and respectful of their time.

Casey Matthews "Power Surge" 40x40 (2015)

Casey Matthews                      “Power Surge”                       40×40                      (2015)

Thanks to social media, I am able to observe and interact with many creative people who I would not normally meet.  I live in such a small town with very few professional artists to bounce ideas off of; so it is nice to learn how other people work, how they live their lives creatively, and with such intent.  I have been trying come out of my crusty, barbwire shell and be a little more friendly and less shy about my life.    But social media also angers me a tad because I see so many artists that can’t seem to find their own style and that they tend to copy what they deem is successful – or rather – become “heavily influenced by others.” I have not really noticed others copying me per se – but I may be too self-absorbed to see this or even care. Copy cats are sad and annoying, and the galleries that represent them are even more disappointing.

I have learned to remain fluid.  Over the course of the past year I have been looking for a new studio space.  I have been where I am for over 12 years and have outgrown the space; I really need something larger.  I have learned not to get too attached to any one place or idea.  Am I going to buy the house behind me for studio space, a condo across the street, a different condo across the street, a warehouse, rent a new space, rent a storage space and secretly work there at night, become an investor in a new warehouse/artist collective, build a studio, build a new house with a large studio, etc? Seriously, the direction changes weekly as I am dealing with flaky sellers, indecisive people or shady parties.   My point is – I’m just going to put it out in the universe and see what happens, and not become too inflexible.  Sure, the thought of cleaning and moving out of my studio that I have had for over a decade seems daunting.  Moving and confronting my crap belongings is my least favorite activity in the universe…. I just need to remain fluid and open to new ideas.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       I’m sure I’m going to piss off some people here but  – but one of my biggest pet peeves when people (artists) declare things.  Such as, “I am no longer taking commissions – indefinitely“, “I am permanently dropping out of the gallery circuit in order to self-represent myself”, “I am no longer using traditional art supplies,  and am strictly going digital from now on”, “I am exclusively represented by such and such gallery,” “I have found my niche, and I am going to exclusively paint dogs/pets.”  I’m not exaggerating – I literally see/read or hear such statements all the time from people.  Why? Why I ask? Why must people get so excited about their trivial change to declare such things, and with such definite adjectives ?  Why can’t they just privately go about their business, and when they eventually change their mind later (and they always do) they won’t look like such an idiot douche bag?  Social media has given us such a narcissistic platform that people think others actually give a rats-poo about their every waking moment (maybe people do care, who knows?   I don’t – I’m too busy)    Am I personally so afraid of commitment, that I hate such permanent statements?  Maybe I am constantly playing the devils advocate to believe in anything with such conviction? I’m just trying to be a realist.   I’m not that old – but I have been in the art business long enough to know that there are certain ebbs and flows with politics and/or the economy that directly affect art sales, the housing market, and businesses/galleries going under.  I think artists need to float along and constantly search for new opportunities and collaborations when other doors close.  If we declare such permanent statements (only to retract later) and/or  be come so comfortable in the status quo , it seems closed-minded to new opportunities that may present themselves down the road.  Just my two cents – take it for what it is worth.

“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Bruce Barton


So, on a lighter note – I’m off to an artist retreat for a week.  I’m sofa king excited!  Aside from one small (two-hour) printmaking class – I have not really taken any “continuing education” classes outside of college.  This will be the first time that I will be working around other like-minded individuals for an extended period of time.  I hope to create some juicy new work, and meet some cool people! I feel like I’m going to camp – I’ve been preparing/packing for weeks!

Casey Matthews "Don't Count Your Chickens Before they Hatch) 48x60 (2016)

Casey Matthews  “Don’t Count Your Chickens Before they Hatch”  48×60  (2016)


Casey Matthews "You Hit the Nail on the Head" 48x60 (2016)

Casey Matthews            “You Hit the Nail on the Head”             48×60            (2016)


Filed under Artist Ramblings, New Work

Discounting Artwork

Many years ago, I use work part-time at a boutique art gallery/gift store. When I started working there I asked the owner what to do if any of her friends came in and wanted a discount (because someone did) And her response is something that has remained with me to this day, and some of the best business advice I ever received:  “I do not give discounts, it devalues my time and work, and MY TRUE FRIENDS will not ask for a discount.”

I know people ask for discounts.  It is not uncommon and happens.  Somehow artists get grouped in the same bargain arena of a third world street vendor, hustling garage sale merchandise, in a mold infested antique mall. “It never hurts to ask” is what some people think.  And depending on if the artist is really struggling to pay the bills, they may take you up on the offer.  But shame on you for taking advantage of the vulnerability of a poor artist – it’s just rude!  Don’t be a douche.  I mean, would you ask your dentist for a discount?


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Happy Holidays to You & Yours

holiday card plain

Thank you so much for helping to make 2015 my most successful year as a professional artist. I’m am so grateful that I’m able to wake up every day and create art!  I look forward to your continued love and support – and wish you all the best for a fantastic New Year!



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Everything has already been done…

Sit & Spin

Casey Matthews    “Sit & Spin”    (32″ Round)

One of the interesting things about having a public art studio is that I get to meet all sorts of people I would not normally interact with.  By nature, I am a bit shy with people I don’t know, so this can be a difficult platform. The past 13 years of maintaining an open studio has helped me come out of my shell as I search for  words to articulate my process, and create a balanced studio practice.  I often surprise myself and learn new things about myself as I describe the work to others.         Many years ago an elderly gentleman came into my studio and looked around at my work, completely flabbergasted – at both my prices and my style of work. (which is fine – you don’t have to like all art)  He asked what else I did – meaning: “You could not possibly make a living creating this crap – what other kind of job do you have?” But I ignored his implication, and laughed.  I superficially replied “…I make lots of messes, walk my dogs, and like to drive really fast.”     On the other end of the spectrum, I also meet people that completely freak out, gush over my work, and the fact that they actually get to meet me. Those people are the best!

I had someone come in my studio the other day and looked around – although a bit out of obligation (she was already up there looking in the other art studios) She was older retiree and a novice painter herself.  She prefers to paint lovely pastoral scenes in France, and local marsh scenes plein-air.   She looked curiously at a particular painting, then asked what my inspiration was.  I rattled off my stock answer… “I am very process driven, and I rely on mood, color, energy…”  I find this intuitive process more rewarding,  challenging, and full of endless possibilities –  rather than trying to recreate a particular subject matter on my terms…    I continued, “My work is non-objective and the titles are drawn from a running diary of words or phrases that I have written down over the years while reading or listening to an audio book, movie, music, current events/news, etc.  The painting is meaningless nonsense and it is paired with a title of equivalent absurdity.”   She then started rattling off more questions in an attempt to “understand” (for lack of a better word)   “Well, no – what artists are you inspired by?” I thought about it for a minute, then reverted back to my 20 year-old college self – stating “I guess I always admired the Abstract Expressionists  – they left the most imprint on me – because they were so energetic, intuitive, and process oriented – like Willem DeKooning, Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell and Philip Guston (early work).  And while we are at it – I love Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, and Lee Krasner…The color of Henri Matisse, and humor of Norman Rockwell (I use to stare at his work for hours as a kid). And as far as contemporary artists go – I just drool over anything Cecily Brown does,  She is a real painters painter.  She is about my age, lives in NYC, and cranks out multiple paintings at once in her huge Union Square studio.  As far as I’m concerned – she a complete rock-star making it in the art world.”

“But your work does not look like any of those artists – I just don’t get it…”

I was a bit taken back by that comment.  My 40 year-old self does not aspire to paint like other people.  I realize I did not really invent what I do, and I don’t think I’m extremely special – but when I’m in the studio, it is just me and the surface. I’m drawn to the ambiguity of abstraction, and outright contradiction. I just try to create honest work that I am proud of, and keeps me out of trouble.  I am constantly learning and experimenting.   (Sometimes I am thankful that I live in my little creative vacuum and not surrounded by to many artists – so that their work does not creep into my subconscious.)  While it is nice to sell my work and is my ultimate objective – going to work is something I do out of an innate desire to stay grounded to the universe, and maintain mental balance.     I don’t really look to other artists (past or current) for my inspiration like I did when I was a young impressionable college student trying to find my style.  I mean, thanks to social media – we have enough copy-cat artists to contend with.  But they don’t fool anyone.  They just make me feel sad for them as they can’t seem to find their own voice.

I realize “everything has been done” but does that mean we should give up on ourselves and continue to copy or draw inspiration from the past (or present for that matter?) Or is this person just an idiot? I’m hoping it is the latter.  I’m a jaded bitter bitch about some most things – but I want to think there is still hope for the art world.


On a different note – I just finished new batch of art.  Check out what is left on my website HERE

Here are a few of my favorites:

trio 2

Casey Matthews (2-36×24)


Casey Matthews (2-30×24)


Casey Matthews   “Power Surge”   (40×40)



Filed under Artist Ramblings, New Work, Uncategorized

Small Paintings on Paper at Stellers Gallery

Stellers Gallery in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL has a bunch of my small paper paintings – just in time for the holidays.  These reasonably priced paintings are exclusively offered from Stellers Gallery – and are all the paper pieces I have remaining.  So go for it – treat yo self! Prices range from $225-$310, and they are happy to ship your purchase!  Pick out your favorite one before they are all gone.  Contact info HERE

Casey Matthews  . Small Paper Paintings  .  Stellers Gallery

Casey Matthews . Small Paper Paintings . Stellers Gallery

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Donating Artwork

da raffle2

Casey Matthews “Containment Issues” (30×30) 2015


I recently donated THIS original painting to The Douglas Anderson Theater Department Boosters.  Douglas Anderson is an artsy magnet school (like FAME!) in Jacksonville, Florida.  The arts in schools enrich all human endeavors by bridging differences among people and teaching creative and critical thinking skills.  Apparently, these days, PE and band are considered electives in most public schools.  (No wonder the drop-out rate is so high!)  So if you like this painting and/or want to support art in schools (like I do!) this painting can be yours for only $1!  This painting is being raffled off instead put in their silent auction in an attempt to get more attention (and raise more money) outside of North East Florida.  You can buy a raffle ticket HERE, you can buy as many or a few as you like, and if you are not local it will be shipped to you free of charge – so go for it!


I have had the best year of my career, and it has been amazing to be able to give back to a few worthwhile causes that are important to me.  Each year, I am inundated with requests to donate work for all sorts of causes/organizations, and unfortunately this year I have had to tell more people “no” than ever.  A few years ago, I decided that I really needed to have a clear mission/objective when donating artwork, and if the organization did not fall in a certain category – it was an easy “no” (which is easier said than done.) I have been put in an awkward situation (more than once) and could not articulate reasons why I did not think it was a good idea for to give a piece of work (not that I even need any) and I ended up fumbling my words and sounding like a complete ass-hole.  I now only donate to causes that are close to my heart, and/or are local – and I also put a monetary cap on the donations.  Once that is met, I’m done.  When I do donate something it is usually a new-ish painting that is representative of my current style. I normally donate work that is a decent size:  24×24 – 36×36, which is essentially $1000-$2000+ in value.  Why do I do that? I don’t know – I guess because my reputation is important to me (even if I do complain) – but if I give you some tiny painting then you won’t really make any money for your organization – and if I give you some older work, the painting might not sell, that would be fairly humiliating (no good deed goes unpunished.)  If I care enough to donate something I go all out.  More often than not, the people who are exposed to my work at these auctions – it is the only time they will ever see my work. Part of me wants to leave a good impression, while the other part of me realizes that it should not matter – because even if they proclaim to LOVE me/my work, they never seem to visit my studio, even for the casual monthly Art Walks.  Art auctions have bidders that are preconditioned to pay less than the fair market value  – and that does not do me any favors (or the galleries that represent me;) selling my work for much less than retail cheapens my business, and devalues my product.   Some people claim that “your donation, will be good exposure,” and “so many high-end collectors will be there” or “its a great form of advertising,” as it is displayed at their event; an event that you do not even get invited to.  Some people can even be so pushy or insulting when you say no – and those are the douche bags that ruin it for everyone.

So the purpose of this little vent is to help educate a little, so you know the philosophy behind donating artwork.  I have found that most artists are fairly generous, especially if you woo them throughout the year and let them how appreciative you are. Most artists love to have their ego stroked, and will respond to praise, year-long support, and thanks.  Remember, they are basically getting nothing from this – so try to sweeten the pot a little. If you ever want to request a donation from an artist, here are some suggestions to manipulate the situation to your benefit:

  1. Write your local State Representative and request a change in the current tax laws regarding donated artwork. Contrary to what most organizations believe, artists are not entitled to deduct a fair market value of the artwork they create and in turn donate. Most people who solicit art donations are unaware of this. Ask your friends, family members, and other people on the donation committee to do the same.  People have been trying to get these laws changed for years.  It is in your best interest to get them amended, so you will get more donations.
  2. Take the artist to lunch or coffee before you pick up the artwork. Artists like free stuff/food.  Pretend you are taking them on a date and you want to have sex later.  Except the “sex” is a $2000 painting.
  3. Take the time to explain your organization and cause.  Believe it or not, some private schools constantly ask for donations, but never really even state what the auction proceeds are specifically used for.  I mean, you are privately funded, can’t you just raise tuition to cover your needs?  Be specific.
  4. After your event, please provide the artist with an official thank you letter recognizing the art donation, the current market value, as well as the name of the purchaser, and final offering. Believe it or not, this is rarely given to the artist – if at all.  Artists like to know who their patrons are, so they can add them to their mailing list.
  5. Visit the artist in the studio or at an art opening at least once during the year to show support.  You will not be forced to buy anything – I promise. You can even help promote the artists events on social media throughout the year.  If you are nice and supportive to the artist, they will be nice to you in the long run.
  6.  Offer a free ticket(s) to your event, and be consistent about it.  Don’t offer tickets to your fancy gala a few years, then quit. You will quit getting art.
  7. Offer to split the proceeds with the artist. Or let the artist set the minimum bid and whatever the final offering is above that, you can keep.
  8. Publicly recognize the artist as a benefactor or patron throughout the year.
  9. Advertise or publicize the donated artwork on your website or social media prior to the auction, in order to garner support and attention.
  10. Consider asking for a donation in the spring or summer, even if your benefit is in the fall or winter.  Don’t ask too close to tax time, but don’t ask too late in the year when everyone else does.
  11. Don’t ask every year.  Artists can’t possibly donate to all the people/organizations that ask every year, and it is painful to have to say no all the time.  Space out your requests.

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