Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Art is a medium to teach business skills" COMMERCIAL ART CLASS New Offering by Melissa Klein

One thing about Skills Center classes is that if they don't have the enrollment, they don't happen - and I feel so strongly that I will be giving students the skills that they need to be successful in life. Especially since the Artist Entrepreneur Summer Boot Camp rocked and the students had a really positive response to it. Everyone felt energized by the work that they were doing. And, it was FUN!!

Click on this for a pdf of the flyer


New Class offered at North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center
by Melissa Klein

905 West 9th Street Port Angeles, Washington 98363

Classes start Tuesday, September 2nd, 2012

Mon-Fri    12:30pm-3:15pm 
Mon-Fri    3:30pm-6:15pm
Beginners Welcome!!!
Submit form to Skills Center to register:

"What I wished I learned in high school."
When I graduated from college with a fancy art degree, I had no idea of how to make a living at it. Over the years, I've learned slowly, through trial and error as well as through taking marketing and business courses.  One thing that kept coming back to me through all of this is - "Why didn't I learn this in college? I could have learned it in high school even!" And it would have been so much easier!  

Skills for the "Real World"
Art is an effective medium to learn business skills because it develops personal expression and self-awareness, once the art is completed, presenting it and selling it in the marketplace requires all of the same skills sets that any entrepreneur needs to run their business. I tell students - "If you can explain your painting, then you can totally rock any interview." Students who completed my art class at Lincoln High School for example, the Fish on the Fence program with the Feiro Marine Center  tended to be better at presenting themselves and more professional - a critical skill for navigating the workplace and the "real world." Job opportunities for young people, (fast food anyone?) are limited in this area, so having entrepreneurial skills and being able to start their own business for many people is their best shot at earning a living wage. And many businesses, Boeing for example are stressing how they want to have a workforce that is creative and proactive. Art is a process of creative problem-solving.

Time to Develop Professional Skills
Having this class offered through the Skills Center where the classes are longer (almost 3 hours) gives time for students to develop both their artistic skills and products as well as learn how to sell the work that they create and run their own businesses. They are given the time to really focus and hone their craft to a professional level and interact with  community members and professional artists.

Eligible Students
Students entering 10th grade to age 21 who have not yet earned a high school diploma.  Students will earn 1.5 credit for high school in a semester. 

Training for both sides of your brain:
For many years, I have taught a combination of Special Education, remedial reading/Language arts and special education math. What I noticed was that the students who made the most progress with me - whether they were in Special Education or in regular education, were the ones who had me for an academic course AND an art course. It was because they were getting both sides of their brain stimulated and it showed in their test scores.

To learn more
Ron Craig, who is the new director at the Skills Center and Melissa Klein will be promoting the program and the Skills Center offerings during registration at Port Angeles High School on Monday 8/24 & Tuesday 8/25 from 8am-2pm. The NOPSC offers many other classes including: Culinary Arts, Composites, Digital Media, Cosmetology and Natural Resources. Visit for more information.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Are You Following Directions or Creating Your Own Path?

"Heart Strings Attached" by Melissa Klein

(will be on exhibit at the Art Shack at the Juan de Fuca Festival)

Painted during a time when life was very…. complicated. I felt like I could feel the ground shifting daily as I was making positive changes, but also upsetting the status quo and "daring to disturb the universe."
$800 24" x 36" Shipping Available


My little sister volunteers at her son's elementary school. They teach art by showing the children the work of a famous painter, and then having the kids "create" work that imitates the style of that artist. I found this disturbing - because as both an artist and an educator, the creative process is a matter of discovering your own voice and discovering those unique qualities of personal expression. Those great artists are great because they were able to tap into a new way of seeing things that was different and opened up other people's eyes. While I think that it's a good idea for children to learn about art history and study the techniques that other artists used, by teaching children to imitate rather than to develop their own expression doesn't serve to develop their creativity. I'm NOT advocating just "letting them do their own thing and everything is just great." as a way of learning either - when I set up an art lesson there are specific skills sets to master and I want them to learn that process and be accurate within those guidelines. Then they can use those techniques in any way they choose. My high school art teacher Elaine Weinstone put it really well: "Is that distorted because you wanted it to be distorted or is that distorted because you didn't know how to draw it?" (True confessions, it was the latter - I hadn't mastered proportion.)

Another way that people learn art is to do the "follow the demonstration" example - i.e. "Here is how you make a landscape just like this and these are the steps. Follow the directions and you will wind up with something that looks just like it!" There's nothing particularly wrong with that - it makes people happy, gives them a goof-proof format to follow and gets them involved in art. I admire Bob Ross for making art accessible to a wider audience. However, it doesn't really teach them how to develop their own vision.

So... How do artists see things? What are they looking for? For me - some of the basics are: how colors interact, edges, hand/eye coordination, composition, optical illusion and personal symbolism. I developed the "Art Factory" as a way to demonstrate those concepts through having people interact with those elements in a way that is process rather than product oriented. The idea is to activate the right brain and engage in the creative process in a nonjudgmental, supportive atmosphere. Many businesses are discovering that by having their employees take art classes and using drawings they are finding solutions for previously unsolvable problems. It's cross training for the brain, and the benefit is to be able to see the world from a different perspective and find new opportunities for solutions. Betty Edwards, the author of "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" reported that her students saw the world in a clearer, more vivid way after taking art lessons.

The Art Factory is a series of workstations for visitors to explore these ideas through hands-on activities which will be supported by the fabulous "Team Art Factory" from Lincoln High School: Angel, Grace, Marcela, Brandy, Stephanie and Linda Chapman - who is a wonderful artist/ceramicist - Most of all - it's fun! We had a blast doing the "dry run" of the projects. Shout out to the team!!! You rock!!!

Here are a few tips on carving out your own creative path:

1. Know the rules. And then break them. Accept that there may be some fall-
out for disturbing the universe.

2. Don't look for approval or permission, you are not going to get it. It may be that by following the standard format, you made life very easy for some of the people around you, and they want you stay in that comfortable (for them) position... But was that what you wanted? My husband gave me this great advice when I was stressing about making some changes: "Don't worry about disappointing people who don't care about your best interest."

3. Your true friends will still love you, now you know who they are. Those who cannot accept the changes need to be let go with love and good will.

4. Be very kind to yourself. This is new territory - and you will make mistakes. Forgive those mistakes and work to do it better next time. The universe provides opportunities for another go-around.

5. Get an accountability partner. She/he don't have to be in your field, but they have to have a light in their eye and a fire in their belly. Look for them in unlikely packages. Reach out and stay connected. Last year, I was at a conference for artists to develop their business skills. I was at a presentation by Jackie Peterson who offered a book called "Better Smarter Richer" - I knew that even with all the best intentions, I was unlikely to actually read and do the activities in it and didn't want another dust collector on my shelf. There was another woman who seemed really interested in it as well, she was a complete stranger, a fabric artist, and seemed a bit daunting. I asked her if she wanted to do a book study together and do a chapter a week. She agreed. This evolved into a weekly check-in; an important routine that keeps me moving forward on my "to do" list and she has become one of my best friends. Now I have two accountability partners - another one from Christine Kane's Uplevel Gold program - and they have both had a huge positive impact on staying the course.

Hope to see you there - and whatever you do - enjoy the weather!

Best Wishes,

-Melissa • • PO Box 2272 Sequim WA 98382 • 360-809-0083

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm proud to announce the "Art Factory" workshop at the Juan de Fuca festival.  This workshop was developed as a way to introduce people to the artistic process which is different from the typical "How to make a _______ just like this!" Creativity is a process of solving problem and alternating between being the different roles of the creative process:  Explorer, Artist, Judge and Warrior (adopted from the "Whack on the Side of the Head" book by Roger Von Oech).  Understanding the creative process and how artists come up with creative solutions can be a key to finding solutions that were previously insurmountable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Question on Everyone's Lips: "What's Next?"

Anput Creates Herself

(on exhibit at Harbinger Winery)

Anput is the wife of Anubis, an Egyptian god who is associated with protection of the dead and embalming.  He determines the weight of the truth by weighing the heart of the dead.  Anput is his female aspect - some of her many titles are:  The Dark Mother, Lady of Magic, Lady of the Circle, Lady of the Light and The Dark, Lady of Truth, She who is Crowned with Stars, She Who Protects.

When I was making this painting, I felt very strongly that as a creation myth - and like all creation myths - there is sacrifice in order to become something greater.  The hunter rides the tiger, and the maiden watches a ghost - of herself? her future? Anput falls to the ocean out of the stars and becomes herself.

$800  18in. x 3ft. Shipping Available

Opening Reception  Seattle Art Institute
Weds 4/25 5-7pm

(See sidebar for more info)

I'm very excited to be included in this show - which features high school art teachers' works from the Seattle area - the title of it is "What Those Who Teach, Can Do"  Here is a quick snapshot of my work "Heartstrings Attached" - it's so new that I haven't had it professionally photographed yet. Hope you can make it - for those wonderful Seattleites who make it out to the Olympic Peninsula for my shows - finally something that is more convenient for you!  Here is a link on Flikr to all the works:

Port Angeles Fine Art Center &
Peninsula College
(See sidebar for more info)

It's an honor to be selected for this show - which was curated by Jake Senuik of the Port Angeles Fine Art Center and Michael Paul Miller of Peninsula College.  They selected 4 works, and have 2 on exhibit at each venue.  Living in a rural area, sometimes it's hard to appreciate the local talent - the "Yeah, but it's better in New York." syndrome.  It was eye-opening to realize how much cutting-edge work is happening right here now... besides, the scenery on the Olympic Peninsula is a-mazing!

Juan de Fuca Festival Art Factory Workshop
5/26 & 5/26 1-3pm
(See sidebar for more info)

I will be having a workshop at the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts.  The Juan de Fuca festival hosts many notable performers and artists - this year including  ALLEN STONE. The 24 year old son of a preacher man, the buzz surrounding rising young soul man Allen Stone seems almost off the charts.  Conan O’Brien exclaimed after a recent appearance, “Oh my God!  You are awesome.”  In a similar vein MTV noted, “Allow me to be blunt: Allen Stone has the best voice I’ve ever heard, and there’s no two ways about it.” A festival pass also gets you also in to the "Art Factory" 
The Art Factory: Challenges and inspires participants to look at creating art from the inside-out using secrets of visual perception, classic artist "exercises" and brain research as a way to engage people in the artistic process. Major companies have used some of these techniques to help their staff find break-through solutions to “unsolvable” problems. The Art Factory is a series of workstations and activities that are self-directed with the support of Melissa Klein & company to guide your journey. "Can't draw a straight-line" people are especially welcome.

The Question on Everyone's Lips:
"What's Next?"

The last couple of months it has felt like the many earthquakes have rocked my world.  It was like all of my "hoogly booglies" came out of the closet and were like "Gotcha!" Phrases swirled around in my head like: "Who do you think you are?" "See! You are never going to make it! Give up!" "How dare you think you can be an artist?"  "You will starve!"  At work, there was upheaval and tension between co-workers, at home, well, tensions as well.  I was run down from a heavy show schedule, and was too busy to promote the new work. Some of my close friends had/have serious health issues, I couldn't ride because one of my horses (April) was lame, and my office was a mess, taxes... and... and...   

And one question that came up in so many of my conversations with friends, family and casual acquaintances was:  "What's next?"  It seems like everyone is re-evaluating what is important and in the process of re-creating themselves.  "Anput Creates Herself" is a creation myth.  Most creation myths involve some sort of sacrifice - for example, Eve created out of Adam's rib.  It seems like many people are in a phase of sacrifice, but another way to look at it is is SHEDDING - letting go of what you don't want in your life, even if there is an element of loss (of income, of freedom, time) in order to create something greater.  These decisions are difficult, and often fraught with anxiety, but ultimately liberating.  

I admire my little sister - she lives with her husband and two small children in a smallish condo, and she manages to keep it a serene space.  Filled with lovely things, but also with room to play and live.  I asked her how she does it, and she replied: "I have never, ever regretted throwing out or getting rid of something - ever! Let it go!"  So I'm going through my house and clearing the clutter - and whenever I find myself waffling over something that I never use "...but... I spent so much on it!" or "...but maybe I'll need it someday." or "...I might lose that 20 pounds and these jeans will fit."  Then I find myself repeating the "Erica Mantra" of "I have never, ever regretting throwing out or getting rid of something." And out it goes - usually into one of the boxes that I have recently put around the house for donations.  I feel lighter, calmer and life is getting slowly simpler.

Here is a set of 5 questions to help guide you in "What's Next?"

• Are you making financial decisions out of desperation or because it is the direction that you want to go?

• If it is a desperation decision - (and yeah, I get that) how can you minimize it's impact on your life?  Are there short cuts that won't really make a difference in the quality?  Look for unconventional help in any and all places - as a teacher on a small staff that is stretched really thin, I recruit my students to help, it's good for them to get job skills, and worth the initial extra effort to train them.  I work with students with learning disabilities - and they make some of the best helpers.  Not a conventional choice, but a great one.  Recruit friends and family - and make it fun.  Actually it's surprising how fun it can be when you have a great team.  Thank them. Thank them. Thank them with cookies.

• The next time you are faced with a "desperation decision" - can you negotiate for something more in the direction that you want to go?  Have the phrase "Here's what I propose..." on your lips the next time a desperation decision presents itself.  You may be surprised.

• Are you paying too much for your mortgage?  What would your life be like if you were able to cut your mortgage in half?  Can you move into a smaller, cheaper place?  What would be different?  What would that look like AND be a place that you want to live?

• Pretend that you are making a very, very, very good income (for me this is $300,000 - and I am making nowhere near that amount; yet) - and start to make decisions from that vantage point - it can be as simple as deciding, "I don't think that I will agree to do that 'free event' in July because it's not worth my time, which at $300,000 a year is $208 an hour if I work a 30 hour work week and for the $10 in card sales that I might make IF I'm very lucky, it's not worth it."  And when you go to say "No" say "No, thank you." and don't explain it.  If that doesn't work, then say "No!" louder. Don't explain it.  And if that still doesn't work, then you may borrow horse poop from me to throw at them.

The ground under your feet will probably always shift, at some times more, and others less.  And while these changes bring their stresses, they also bring opportunity to shed what isn't working any more and re-create yourself.

Best Wishes,


Melissa Klein is a Sequim, Washington based artist and art teacher. She has shown in Philadelphia, Kauai and the Olympic Peninsula. Her artwork is featured in books, magazines, newsletters and murals. As an artist, she works in a variety of mediums, including a unique style of crackle-milk paint layered with mixed media that she created. She earned a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania (1990) and a Masters of Initial Teaching from Gonzaga University (2003). She currently teaches Commercial Art at Lincoln High School in Port Angeles. She has 2 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats and one husband.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Behind the Scenes Tour of "Every Stupid Holiday" & Make the "Un-Resolution"

I created a video which gives a behind the scenes tour of the Studio Bob show, and an over view of the gallery that... "New York artists would kill to have this space."  I've run into many people who have had such hectic lives over the holidays that they couldn't make it out to the show - and after hearing what some of you have been though - it's totally understandable, so here's a bonus video.  

"Every Stupid Holiday" Melissa Klein Solo Show Studio Bob

I'm really excited to announce a new line of small notebooks, $7 for those occasions of "Gaw.... I forgot..."  The notebooks are designed to fit nicely in a jeans pocket or purse and have a good-quality heavy-weight paper.  You can also use them to write notes and affirmations in them such as:  "Do not apologize for things that are not my fault - really."  or... "No blonde jokes around Dolly.  That's not OK."  or... "Don't blame farts on the dog.  They know..."

Kathy Charlton of Olympic Wine Cellars came out and collected "Passing Through" (She owns another original called "Curse of the Good Girl") and wrote a story about her experience.  It was great to have her perspective.

Passing Through by Melissa Klein 18"x24"

A remembrance for a friend who died very young. My cousin had written to me that  
“The veil between life and death is very thin.” 

It's comforting to realize that we are not so far from those who have departed.

Cards, prints, posters available

There's a phrase that I invented over the summer:  "I do not ask permission, explain or apologize to people who don't care about what's in my best interest." It came out of a conversation with my husband where I was worrying about disappointing people who wanted to put me in an unfair situation.  It's been surprisingly effective at quickly shutting down conversations with people who truly don't deserve an explanation or want to engage in a power struggle.  I usually just think it, and then stop and glare.  They back off.  I know that it contains too many "don'ts" to be considered a true affirmation, but it works.

So what not to do?

Don't give up.
Don't give in.
Don't accept lies for truth.
Don't feel guilty for standing up for what is right.
Don't chicken out.
Don't play it safe.
Don't play small.
Don't stop doing what feels right.
Don't be incongruent.
Don't support businesses that don't support the community or the environment.
Don't worry about disappointing people who don't care about the greater good.
Don't feel guilty about not fixing other people's frak-ups.  No change will happen if enabling is going on.
Don't confuse helping with enabling.
Don't stop trying.

Er... I should put "Don't stay up too late..." but it's 3am.  Bed time for Bonzo.

But DO... Have a very happy New Year!


Melissa Klein • PO Box 2272 Sequim WA 98382 • • 360-809-0083 •