Farewell to the Forge

Farewell to the Forge


“You’ll have to use your imagination,” she said.

“I can do that,” I replied. “I’m an artist.”

The coordinator, Jackie Boos, unfolded the vision of what this place called Artisan Forge Studios, would become. I thought the vision was compelling. And so after some thought and prayer, I signed on as a renter at the beginning of 2016.

It’s amazing that just a little over two years ago, I moved my art business from my home into this diesel truck service center-turned high scale art gallery.



It didn’t take long for the building to transform into one of Eau Claire’s best places to go to see local fine art. With it, I met a lot of fantastic artists, built some great relationships, sold artwork, and even started teaching classes.




I had no idea that I would be able to teach until I came to Artisan Forge Studios. Other artists–sculptors and welders–were teaching, and someone asked if I would teach a class.




“I’ll give it a try,” I said.

I had such a good time, I decided to do more.

Artisan Forge changed a lot in two years–starting with just a handful of artists and growing to include more than 40 of the area’s best talent. My art business grew as well. I gained more clients, built relationships with local artists and collectors, and art students. I had the chance to share my art–and my faith as a Christian–with hundreds since I’ve been there, in person, and in some public speaking engagements.




And even though I’ve enjoyed being at “the Forge,” I decided to bid farewell.





It started with this…

Toward the end of last year, my wife and I were discussing our goal of moving out of the city and buying a home in the country (in the Eau Claire area.)  She has always been a country girl. I’m more of a city slicker. But after many years of being in town, I long for the open vistas of nature, and I especially want my children to enjoy that as well.

And it would be a perfect place to set up a studio.


Eleva Hills2.jpg


We were pre-approved for a home purchase, but we still have some debts to pay off. So, to trim some expenses, the idea of cutting out studio rent seemed like a plausible idea. I still have a spare room in my home that’s not being used. So, it would be possible to move back in.

But to leave the Forge was nearly unthinkable. How could I leave the place when things were going so well?




“Why don’t you just pray about it?” my wife suggested.

Seemed like a good idea. It never hurts to pray.

I had just as many reasons to stay than I did to go. Maybe even more reasons to stay, depending on how you spin the “pros and cons” plate. But I figured, “Let’s see what God has to say about it.”

When I pray for God’s direction, I almost always have a Bible in front of me. He speaks to me out of that book. It’s amazing. The Bible itself says…

“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” (Psalm 119:133)

At the middle of November, after going to church, I asked God, “Do you want me to leave Artisan Forge?”

I opened up my Bible and started reading. Immediately, this passage jumped out at me. In fact, I think it was the first page I opened to.

“Leave, leave, go out from there!…” (Isaiah 52:11)

Hmm. Interesting. Could it be, Lord, that you want me to actually leave?

I thought about it, but I wasn’t sure. I prayed again a few more times, and I saw glimpses of verses that seemed to say the same thing: “Go.” But I still wanted more assurance. This was a big decision.




“I believe God will make it clear to you if you seek Him diligently,” my mother-in-law (the one who encouraged me to do art full time) advised me.

Made my choice. Stamped it.

Finally, it was the end of November. I needed to find out for sure if it was God’s will for me to leave Artisan Forge Studios, so I could give them adequate notice, and maybe be out by the end of the year.

I had to make a decision. I dropped to my knees in the studio, and opened up my Bible. And quickly, my eyes landed on Romans 15:23…

“But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you.”

It wasn’t just the verse itself that spoke to me, but the feeling I got when I read it. I felt peace. It was like God was saying to me, “You’ve served here faithfully. Now your time here is done.”

OK, Lord. I don’t want you to have to hit me over the head with this. I’m making my decision. I’m leaving. I’ll give them notice today.

That was two months ago. Christmas brought in a lot of commissions, so I figured I’d wait until the hoopla was over to really begin taking down my studio and setting up again in my home. During the packing up process, I have to say I second-guessed my decision more than just a few times.

Man, this is crazy. I’m going backwards. I left my house to come here as an artist. And now I’m going back?




But then I thought: Going back to the place you came from can also be forward progress too.

Didn’t the Israelites go back to the Promised Land after being in Egypt for 400 years? Didn’t the Jews go back to their homeland after being in Babylon for 70 years? And didn’t Jesus return back home after being on earth for 33 years?

I made my decision. I’m not looking back. I’m walking by faith and not by sight. To me, it’s more important to follow God’s leading than to have it all figured out.

And so, I am saying “farewell to Artisan Forge.” I’m leaving on good terms and plan on keeping in touch with the wonderful people there, but right now the future is wide open to many possibilities.

Wherever God leads me.

I’ll walk by faith.

I can’t see what lies ahead of me.




That’s okay. I can use my imagination.


Be blessed and I’ll be in touch,



Share Your Thoughts!

If you have any comments or questions about what I wrote, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links on the side or below. Thank you!


"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!

Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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  1. You know Matt, you can always go back to Artesian when finances allow; that time will come also. I’m sure God will continue to guide you as he always does!

    • Matt Philleo

      True. I may go back, if God so directs. I will be keeping some of my artwork there, and staying in touch with them. But for now, my home base will be back home! Thanks for your comment, Pam! Hope you and Bob are well.

  2. Moving to the country sounds brilliant to me! I too live in the city but find the countryside to be very calming and I’m sure your art will flourish there, “no distractions”.
    Embrace the move with joy mate.

    • Matt Philleo

      I appreciate that, Paul! I am looking forward to being in the country. Maybe it will affect my art. No, I’m sure it will, in a good way!

  3. I’m sure our God is moving you along.
    Continue with your brand of Christian fellowship to sty on the path.
    If luck were a thing I would wish it for you!

  4. It was really good to read this post of yours, Matt. When we have to make a decision it should be done over “time” and after listening to the wisdom of “many counselors.” You have done that. You have also put your foot out toward the new goal as you see it. That is good too. Even if you have made an honest mistake, Jesus says he is the God of light AND darkness. Looking up to Him you can not make a wrong move. With all best wishes from Canada.

    • Matt Philleo

      Thanks, Lynn. I think it is good to follow the Lord, or at least what we truly believe to be His leading, rather than go by what seems to be convenient or the most reasonable choice. Sometimes reasonable will line up with God, and sometimes not. But we can’t see God, and most of us don’t hear an audible voice from Him, but we DO have His word, the Holy Spirit, the church, and providence. We have to make our choices lined up with those factors. I’m almost all moved out now. I’m looking forward to the possibilities of this year! I’ll always treasure your visit here to Eau Claire. Keep in touch!

  5. Matt – I wish you the best on your new path. I know God has put you on it & good things will come from it. I see beautiful vista in your future. Blessings to you & your family.

    • Matt Philleo

      Thank you, Peg. Blessings to you and yours!

  6. Previous commenters have said it all superbly. Even in dark and doubtful moments, walking in God’s light is always the right path.

  7. God has good things in store for you! A studio in country sounds wonderful as well. There’s always the studio tours you can get connected to which is something fun. I was very inspired by your sincere faith that day my friend and I talked with you in your AF studio! I look forward to hearing more of your unfolding story and what God is doing through your talent and your faith. Gods blessings!!!

    • Matt Philleo

      Thank you, Therese. I am looking forward to what the Lord has for me. I am actually a part of the Falling Leaves Art Studio Tour in Augusta and have been for the past several years. I’ve been exhibiting at a friends house. And I will be visiting AFS too and being a part of it as much as possible. May the Lord bless you richly through all His grace in Jesus Christ, in painting and in life!

  8. I am so impressed with your faith and strength in following GODS directions in your life
    and work. Your paintings inspire me to try harder in my paintingsI love your painting
    of your children in particular. Matt, thank you for your encourgement and teaching.

    • Matt Philleo

      Thank you so much, Harry! I have some more ideas for paintings of children that I look forward to sharing. May God bless you richly in your paintings as we all work together to display His glory with our talents!

  9. Hello, I am a 69 year old Grandmother/Mum in England, U.K. and have ‘dabbled’ in painting for the last few years. I have just been reading your blog and found it so uplifting and inspirational.
    I know your decision to leave the Forge will only lead you on to an even brighter path. I start every day, winter or summer, at the beach with my dog, having a coffee while looking and listening to the sea. Doesn’t get much better than that. I’m so happy to have found your site and will be checking in on a regular basis. I think your work is amazing. Sending you love and light.

    • Matt Philleo

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Sandra. I am looking forward to what the future holds, and in sharing more art and ideas with you! Be blessed in your painting and beach walking adventures!


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