Foiled Again.

Moonstone beach cambria

I mean, gorgeous, right…how could you not be at peace here?
That’s what you’re thinking, right? A day away…in Cambria! Lucky. Best place in the world to quiet the noise and just BE.

Well……….see what happened was….

Everything didn’t quite go as planned. Picture this: waking up to the lovely ocean breeze, enjoying a slow morning in bed with the fireplace on and freshly delivered *complimentary* breakfast pastries, fruits and coffee. Writing, reading…basically the scene looked like this:

Personal retreat, art, painting

Idyllic, right? Exactly. This is going to be the best day ever!

So I throw on my sweatshirt, pour myself a glass of my favorite bubbly and stroll across the street to the cliffs where I plan to just sit and enjoy the view…and of course, “BE.” First sip….yum! But, man, it’s kinda chilly. Brrr…shivering a bit. Oh well, I think, I’ll just bundle up a bit more after this glass.

A couple slowly walks by on the boardwalk, huddled together underneath a shared jacket. I look up and smile at them when all of sudden, from my frigid little fingers, slips the glass of sparkling rose. The ENTIRE glass spills onto my lap. Like, completely. I’m drenched. Awesome! Great start to this “peaceful” getaway. Ugh.

So, first, you’re welcome for the little insight into my self-care trip. And second, I share this because It’s pretty funny, now (less funny then…as I was freezing and ashamedly walking back to my room with sparkling rose dripping down my legs and into my sandals), how perfect this was.

This elusive “peace” and “serenity” that I was hoping to find by going somewhere else–somewhere away from my normal everyday life–wasn’t there. I was shocked (it’s okay if you’re laughing. I’ll try not to take it personally).

My bubbly mishap is a great reminder that it’s not about where we are. Plans can go awry in even the most enchanting of places. Sure, it’s nice to get away, but it’s equally as important, critical even, that we are able to find peace in our everyday lives. Here and now…right where we are.

I have a hunch that the peace and the help we crave is actually somewhere deep within us–not somewhere else. Maybe we already have everything we need right here–within our grasp.

If we can quiet ourselves long enough and breathe, remembering we are here for a reason, remembering that we’re not alone and remembering that someone or something much bigger than us is in control. And keep breathing. Ten deep breaths, I’m told.

I really do think breathing helps this process. Breathing requires that we slow down and it connects our racing minds to our physical being. This awareness that we are alive and functioning really allows us to shift our anxious thoughts to the present moment. It allows us to shift from fear to gratitude. And I’m pretty sure a grateful heart is a peaceful heart.

Speaking of gratefulness, I’d like you to know that I’m extremely grateful for you! My biggest take-away from this self-care trip was that I really love what I do. I was actually really looking forward to coming home and getting back on the journey. So thank you!

Thank you for your courage and for sharing your creative space with me. I believe that creative space is a sacred space. It is incredibly vulnerable and I feel honored to be able to dive in there with you.

I’ve learned more from you than you will ever know!

Love + Art,

Posted in activity, art, beach, beginnings, breathe, cambria, gratefulness, Life of an Artist, Painting, perseverance, Ramblings, Real Stuff, relax, self-care, stress, take a break, thankful

Labor Day Weekend!!

I mean…who doesn’t love a THREE DAY WEEKEND?!

Holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July are some of my favorites. You know why? Because there’s just not a lot of pressure surrounding them. These holidays share most of the same benefits that Christmas and New Year’s Eve offer, without all of the stress. No gifts to exchange, no familial obligations to worry about and no grandiose expectations to live up to.

Labor Day, the Fourth of July, and other “lesser” holidays involve the gathering of friends and family to break bread and enjoy each other and the fruits of our labor. I hope you have some fun plans to look forward to this weekend and are building in time to relax as well.

Because let’s NOT labor over Labor Day Weekend….let’s take it easy and enjoy the BBQs and summer fun.

Next week we can dive in head first and start dreaming about pumpkin spice lattes, but this weekend, let’s celebrate and be thankful for what all of our hard work allows us to enjoy.

I’m looking forward to spending time with friends, painting at a new location (Koehler Winery!), attending my first ever polo match and taking evening strolls with friends to soak up the remnants of these beautiful summer nights.

I hope you’ve got something fun planned, and if you don’t yet–join us at Koehler this Saturday!

Have a great holiday weekend, friends.

PS…here’s some great shots from last weekends events!

Things to do in santa barbara, painting, beach activities

Painting in the Vineyard, santa ynez valley, santa barbara, things to do in wine country



Posted in activity, art, beach, beginnings, breathe, Buellton, creativity, Creativity is health, culture, events, gratefulness, holidays, labor day, Life of an Artist, Los Olivos, Painting, Past Events, Ramblings, Real Stuff, relax, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Ynez Valley, self-care, Solvang, stress, take a break, thankful, Things to do, Vineyard, wine tasting, wine tasting events, winery

The Art of Self-Care

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“In a busy society where we are told to do more, achieve more, and be more. Often times we forget to really look at who we are and what makes us uniquely us. Self-care is the idea of slowing down and giving mindful attention to what you need. Everyone has different needs and nobody can answer this question for you. We often look to others, compare our lives, consult with Google or fall prey to advertisements that are waiting to tell us what we need. In doing so, with good intentions, we neglect ourselves. Too often we are listening to everybody but ourselves. Self-care is the practice of taking care of yourself (mind, body and soul) and listening to what your unique needs are so that you can live a fulfilling and balanced life.”
-Michelle Bobich Psy.D.

I’m by no means here to tell you what you need, but I would LOVE to encourage you to consult yourself and discover what it is that truly feeds your soul.

I spent most of last year learning to be a friend to myself. To love myself first and figure out what I loved and needed. I know that may sound TERRIBLY selfish, but in reality, none of us can love others well if we don’t know how to love ourselves. Lucille Ball said it best “Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this life.” Or…if you don’t trust her, what about Eleanor Brown? “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the OVERFLOW. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

You know what I learned during that year? I learned that I love art. That it needed to be a part of my life or else I felt like my soul was slowly dying. Well, hooray! Now it oozes out of me…hopefully in an artistic sort of way 😉

I’m not sure what self-care looks like for you, but I’ll just throw out a couple questions to get the creative juices flowing. Is it a glass of wine and your favorite TV show at the end of the day? Is it a weekly yoga class? What about a bubble bath? (I always think it is a bubble bath–but it turns out they’re rather boring to me…so, next!) Is it saying “no” when you are stretched to the max? Or is it curling up with a good book in your favorite chair for a few solid hours? Maybe it’s eating well or getting enough sleep? What about cooking a meal for loved ones? Or painting?! Maybe it’s painting, like me–getting lost in the creative process. Whatever it is–I want to encourage you to practice it. It’s perhaps the best investment you can make in yourself, but it really is a practice. It’s not easy and it feels rather uncomfortable at times, but I’ve got a hunch that “uncomfortablility” is a pretty wise teacher (I know that’s not a word, but you get it, right?).

For me, this week, it’s giving myself a day away–without an agenda, without a plan. A wise friend of mine gently reminded me that I’m not going to figure it all out in a day (like I was planning)–so I probably shouldn’t try. Maybe I should just go and BE. Bam.

She was right. It is time for an intervention–some radical self-care. Just for a day…in a new place…go and just BE.

If a friend of yours desperately needed a break, you’d tell her to go take a break, right? She needs it. She’ll be refreshed and more productive as a result. Well…I’m trying to be my own good friend. So, here I come, Cambria! I’m looking forward to some yummy Thai food, ocean strolls and room service. At least for a night 😉

What can you do this week to care for yourself? To be a friend to yourself.

Hugs, Love + Art,
The Gypsies

Posted in activity, art, beginnings, breathe, Buellton, creativity, Creativity is health, culture, events, gratefulness, Inspirational Quotes, Life of an Artist, Los Olivos, Painting, Past Events, perseverance, Ramblings, Real Stuff, relax, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Ynez Valley, self-care, Solvang, stress, take a break, thankful, Things to do, Vineyard

Sketching, Crawling, Painting, Sipping.

Chelsea Ward

Have you ever done a pub crawl? Well, this was so much better! This past Sunday, a merry group of folks took to the streets of Los Olivos to sip Valley wines and learn watercolor and sketching. Starting at Zinke Wine Co, our guests lounged in comfy chairs and painted scenes of the Zinke building. One renegade painter planted herself on the sidewalk across from Sides Hardware, and kindly asked tourists to move their freshly parked car in order to not obscure her view!  (applause!)

Things to do in Solvang restaurant los olivos santa ynez santa barbara

Chelsea Ward, our awesome new teacher led the crew through some basic techniques and helped each person capture the quaintness. After Zinke, the group sauntered to the park and sketched the General Store and iconic flagpole in the town’s center. And, not to leave a gorgeous day without a little more wine, our final destination, Dreamcote, served up lovely vino to guests, plus a new release of hard cider. Yum!

This was a first for Gypsy Studios (but certainly not last!). Thanks to all our wonderful guests and thanks to Zinke Wine Co and Dreamcote for hosting!.

Stay tuned for another Watercolor Sketch Crawl coming soon. All the wine in the world couldn’t keep us away! (well….on second thought….ha! JK)

Things to do in Los Olivos Santa Ynez Solvang Wine Tasting painting art

Art lessons santa ynez valley los olivos things to do


Posted in activity, art, breathe, Buellton, creativity, Creativity is health, culture, events, gratefulness, Life of an Artist, Los Olivos, Painting, Past Events, Ramblings, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang, Things to do, watercolor

Change is good!


It has taken me just over 47 years to be able to utter this phrase without grimacing in the “I’m saying this because I know this is what you’re supposed to say as a mature adult faced with a huge transition” way. The truth is, change IS good. It’s also packed with complication, mixed feelings, a moment or day (or two) of panic, excitement and a host of other emotions and thoughts. This is a big basket of processing which is not to be taken lightly. At least not for me.
Once, not long ago, I was faced with leaving a company where I had worked for nearly 22 years.You can only imagine the level of anxious, free-falling feeling as 22 years of structure, that familiar path to the coffee pot, my parking space, friends, working dynamics and other notions of security were suddenly gone. I say “notions” because that is what they are….these are nothing short of false beliefs. Nothing is secure or forever. Now, you might be saying “thanks a lot for the pick-me-up, Heidi (eye-roll)”, but I think this is a good reality to embrace.

We will always strive to grasp at things, people, jobs, homes, our corner coffee shop to keep us safe…that’s our human nature. We want to be known, have familiarity, feel connected to things that are predictable. ALL GOOD THINGS. However, if we are not open to change from time to time, we are also setting ourselves up to miss out on new things we can learn about ourselves, about the world, about others. And, we’re setting ourselves up to sustain more damage from the change that is inevitably going to present itself at some point in our lives.

You know how they always talk about car accidents and the people who were relaxed (drunk or asleep usually) sustain the fewest injuries. Those that cringe, tense up, and brace against the impact are the most injured. Sorry if this is a bit of a weird example, but it’s kind of like that with change….only with totally conscious and sober people. If you brace yourself against it, you’ll most likely have a tougher time adapting and seeing the change for its positive aspects. Stay loose and the rug that just got pulled out from under you will leave a shiny new floor upon which to stand. Or that opportunity that causes the fear jitters to start can become the next best, richest experience of your life.

Nothing in this world is secure or forever. And that’s a good thing.

Love and Art,

*Heidi Riehl has been an absolute GODSEND over the last few months and it is with heavy hearts that we say good-bye for now. She will be setting out on a new adventure and we will miss her terribly, but wish her all the best as she explores what’s next!

Posted in beginnings

Capturing Beauty

Painting in the Vineyard, Creativity

What is it about this deep desire to not only observe the beauty around us, but to actually capture it?

Humans are the only creatures on earth who have the ability to notice the space around them, and render an opinion of whether it is beautiful…or ugly…or menacing….or mysterious…or glorious.

And, we FEEL it. Our souls, emotions and minds react to it. We say it’s a good day for a fire, tea and a book when clouds are brooding and the air smells of rain. We respond to blue skies and warm sunshine with a feeling of hopefulness, of being more alive. And, then….we want to hold on to it. From the beginning of time, people have used art to capture stories, images of beauty, pain, nature, love. It seems that it’s part of the human condition.

We pull our cars over to snap a photo of that perfect sunset. We take photos of our food! Our souls rejoice when we view it and share it with others. Artists render themselves obsessed with the bounty of things to paint or sketch or shoot. So many views….so many different times of day…the lighting is changing with every second that passes…that tree, the way it sets up against that particular hill…that tiny sprig of grass…the way those shadows are moving along the fields as the clouds skim by…it must be captured!

What a gift we have been given. Capturing and expressing the beauty around us is in our hard-wiring. We are designed for this symbiotic flow of creation showing off to us, and we, in turn marvel at its extraordinary display.

No two moments are the same. And there’s just something mysteriously sacred and powerfully purposeful in chasing those moments down and making them eternal.

Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, wine tasting, painting in the vineyard

Posted in creativity

Why You Should Paint….Even if You Can’t

Painting in the Vineyard, art and wine, art classes, Santa YnezI’ve always been a perfectionist.
Not in the crazy obsessive color-labeling things way, but in the deep soul way where that dark cave of wolves, Frankenstein and other nightmare characters from my childhood tell me I’m not good enough. From my memories somewhere in middle school, I began holding a performance bar for myself that was nothing short of stratospheric My parents were wonderful people by the way… in case you are now percolating about what in the world could have happened to cause this intense self-consciousness. I was always just a very sensitive child. Born with an extra set of feelers, and apparently a propensity for achieving perfection.

Perhaps you can relate. Before my hyper-awareness to this mysterious judging panel watching my every move, I was a five year old. I drew with abandon, anything I could dream up, using every color imaginable (with a large emphasis on pink and purple I’m pretty sure). I would run to my parents, “look at what I made!” So proud of what I had created. I rode my bike, and fell, and got up and tried again.

This is how we start out, without inhibitions. And then things happen and we learn to listen to our own standards of what is good or bad, or criticism from others begins to dictate what risks we take, and what value we put on our talents. We begin to put an insane amount of value on whether our efforts are stellar and impress others, rather than on whether we are changed and moved by our experiences.

All in all, I think we’re missing the point of trying something new. When you were a five-year-old you had to learn and practice. Now that we’re adults we seem to believe that by virtue of the years we’ve put under our proverbial belts, we should be able to deliver perfection the first time we do anything new. And this anxiety often deters us from making good on that inkling to pick up a paint brush, take a dance class, surf or join the work soft-ball league.

Don’t let that voice win. Doing something new, trying something for the first time is not really about the outcome. It’s about the process of allowing yourself to be challenged, to be vulnerable and to discover parts of you you didn’t know yet existed.

So, get out there and paint,or write or cook or whatever might be a new learning experience because perfection isn’t the point.

Enjoying life is.

Email us and tell us about what you’re doing to learn, grow and try something new. We’d love to hear your stories. Shoot ’em

Posted in breathe, Creativity is health, Painting

Making Friends with Perseverance

Perseverance, Santa Ynez

Five reasons why you should keep on keepin’ on
Are you one of those people who loves a challenge? Do you live to endure a ka-jillion miles of running and cheer at the end of a race? Do you relish in the long-term glory of a goal set waaaay long ago? If you are, you could probably write this article better than me. But, since you’re unavailable because you’re off climbing a mountain or something, I’ll talk to us regular folks about why it’s good to make friends with Perseverance.

1 THINGS will change…or YOU will
I’ve found that, faced with something that requires an enormous amount of pressing on, that if I’m open to staying the course, things will change and evolve. The place you are in right this second is not forever. Either the circumstances themselves shift to something new, or if we are open to it, our attitude changes, our perspective shifts, and our expectations adjust. Persevering allows for that metamorphosis to take place.

2 There is almost always something around the next corner
It’s easy to feel like this is the end. That the one thing we wanted so badly that we didn’t get…well, it’s just the end of everything. That the thing that we’ve been working through for-e-ver is never going to end. But, guess what? You aren’t stuck. There is hope because there is almost always something around the corner that right now is completely obscured from your view. We have to exercise our awareness and gratitude skills to appreciate that the “something” may be a simple shift, not a lightning bolt or a winning lottery ticket, but something to be grateful for nonetheless.

3 You learn stuff
Hey! We learn from challenging times that require us to keep going. If we give up, we miss out on lessons that help us embrace life with all of its ups, downs, joys and sorrows. We miss those moments of enlightenment that improve our relationships, hone our weaknesses into strengths, bolster our faith and enrich how we do life if we exit the journey too soon. If you’re going to learn, however, it’s important to check your stubbornness at the door, and release your resentment of the challenge you find yourself facing. Only then can you be open to learning, to hearing from others, to adjusting how you think about things.

4 Accomplishing something difficult feels good
Trust me, I’m the last person these days to bounce out of bed at 5:30am to go for a run. But, man, when I do (or did) and made it the four miles around my neighborhood without going into cardiac arrest, I was pretty proud of myself. With shoulders back, and head held high I had a different perspective and confidence in myself and in what I could accomplish that day. Challenges are called that for a reason. Persevering through to finish a mind-bending task or long-term goal (picture graduation, training for a marathon, saving to buy a house) is one of the most satisfying and grounding feelings we humans can have!

5 You build resilience for the next time
Practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect….but the more we commit to persevering through challenging situations, the more we know we can! I have a good friend who helped me navigate through hard times with this little tool. When I was feeling at the “end”, totally stuck and certain that things would never be different, she would tell me to take until 8am the next day to feel bad about it, and then be done and move on. Now this is a challenge in and of itself. However, the concept applies. It’s not that we ignore our reactions to the challenges and dismiss the difficulty with a nice Stepford Wife smile and crazy eyes (you know what I’m talking about). It’s that we feel it and then regroup. And, the more we exercise this mental muscle, the more equipped we will be to push through the next challenge that comes our way.

BONUS TIP: Don’t beat yourself up if it’s hard to make friends with Perseverance
In our American, success-and-achievement-is-everything culture, it’s easy to think we should all just be able to take on anything and with enough self-help and tips like those above, we’ll rise above it all. Sometimes, it takes a lot longer than til “8am the next morning” to suffer and wrestle with the depth of some hardships. Sometimes a really long time. And, sometimes we need others to do the persevering with us or for us. Be gentle with yourself. Tackle the Perseverance friendship at your own speed–it is your journey after all.

And finally….
While applicable to life in general, it is interesting to see perseverance at play as we lead people through our art classes. Some of you can relate as you have lived it! Faced with the challenge of a blank canvas and limited or no previous painting experience, painters must engage that perseverance muscle to push through, trusting that it will get better, knowing that while right now the canvas shows a picture that is terribly incomplete, it will change and become something really beautiful.

Posted in art, beginnings, breathe, gratefulness, perseverance

Slow Down

Rose--Debbie Johnson
Artist: Debbie Johnson
When was the last time you stopped to smell the roses?

Like, really? Not just said to yourself, yah more people should do that as you walk into a wall, texting that oh so important message about whatever. But, actually came to a full STOP in front of a gorgeous rose blossom and buried your nose into the intoxicating petals and considered how amazing this flower is? The color, the design, the fragrance.

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t even stop long enough in our busy culture to notice much of anything, let alone bring our racing minds back from eight weeks into the future to only knowing right now. To be so present that we can in fact, STOP to smell roses or those amazing citrus blossoms that are all over right now, or that oh so delicious cup of morning coffee, and really appreciate and be grateful for these simple gifts.

Experiment a little today. Take a minute or two to calm your mind, take a deep breath, enjoy the beauty around you, be present. Be thankful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a gorgeous sunset calling my name.

Posted in art, breathe, creativity, culture, gratefulness, Life of an Artist, Ramblings, Real Stuff, stress, texting, thankful, Vineyard

Feeling Stuck?

When faced with big life decisions, it is natural to feel stuck, or paralyzed.

Dr. Cloud said “Don’t wait until you can get it all done to do something. Just do a little bit. Get started. Take one step.” Love this advice…but how do you do it?

How do you get started? How do we begin to make a big life decision if there are a thousand potentially good/right directions you could go? If you’re like me, you like all the things and often wonder how to you choose just one? Whether it is a career decision, a relationship decision or something entirely different, the amount of options we have in this country (while a blessing) can sometimes become paralyzing.

If options are limitless…if the world is your oyster, chances are, you have no idea what to do. Chances are you feel stuck.

The thing is, with only a few exceptions, those life-altering decisions will more than likely consist of hundreds of little choices—not one huge, life-changing decision. One little choice at a time is how big changes are born. One step in a new direction is really all it takes. And then another, and another, until before you know it—you’re headed down a new road.

But how do you get started? How do you make that first choice or take that first step?

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but one thing I’ve learned through the creative process is that I have to CREATE limitations to get unstuck. I know that might sound counter-intuitive, but we all need limitations, especially to be creative and step into new beginnings.

So the first step is to define your limitations.

For example, if you would like to live close to your family—that is a limitation when you are job searching. You can think of it like a filter. Filter out everything that doesn’t fall into that category and see how much simpler your decisions become.

If you don’t have any set limitations—make some up. It might sound a little unusual, perhaps, but I’ve learned to give myself limitations. If I have trouble knowing what to paint or how to begin, I will only allow myself to use 3 colors. That one little limitation is all it takes to help me get started.

So, my advice would be, clear your workspace (or mind) and set a limitation or two. It may be a natural limitation—like your abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Or it might be desires. Things like: proximity to family, future financial goals, career goals, family goals, relationship goals etc.

When you de-clutter your workspace or when you offer yourself less to work with entirely, creativity is at its best! Think about those fantastic outfits you’ve put together when working with the last remaining items in your closet before laundry day, or those incredible fix-it jobs you’ve done when you don’t have your set of tools with you. Ingenuity and creativity can flourish when we don’t have all the resources we think we need. So why not de-clutter a bit?

Perhaps it’s as simple as saying: What can I do TODAY (today is a limitation) that will get me one step closer to my goal? Even if it is a tiny simple thing—one step may be all you need to get you on track again.

Happy de-cluttering!

Posted in beginnings, Inspirational Quotes, Life of an Artist, Painting, Ramblings, Real Stuff