My New Old Art Studio

My New Old Art Studio

Moving back into your old studio is like seeing a long lost friend after a hiatus. At the end of January, I moved out of Artisan Forge Studios, convinced it was God’s will for me to leave.




It wasn’t easy. It was hard to move out of the place where I created art for two years, met some amazing people, and started teaching art classes, both in person and online.

Like any move, you pack up the things you don’t need as much, and then keep the things you do, so you can keep living and working. My paints, brushes, and palette were the last things to go.


Setting Up Again

Then there was the process of setting up again in my house–in my vacant upstairs room. Well, almost vacant. We had a few things stored there. Some bins of clothing and other odds and ends. Those got moved into the basement. And that made room for the plethora of items from my studio.

I had seven large plastic strong boxes, and three or four cardboard boxes filled with art supplies, canvases, drawing paper, paints, books, and…stuff. Because the room is pretty small, it made going through it challenging. Everything needed to have a home.




I have to admit, when everything was in disarray, and things were taking longer than I had hoped to set up—I wanted to give up more than a few times.

Why did you move out of Artisan Forge? This is crazy!

But I kept telling myself, “I followed God’s will for me, and this will all work out.” I prayed for God to help me keep my head straight.

But I still had a lot of stuff–and not a lot of storage space.

What to do?

More shelving! I noticed that I had a lot of wasted vertical space in my stairwell. From the bottom of the stairs to the top of the ceiling, there was about 12′ of space. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to get some shelves in there?

But how would I access them? A ladder? No, that would be too risky, trying to reach and brings things down. I needed a platform.

So, I went off to Menards, bought some lumber and built a platform. One side of the stairwell already had a ledge that could support weight. So I built one on the other side to match–fastened with some very long, beefy screws.




When not in use, the platform can lean against the wall, held by the rail and hooks.




And then, it can lay down flat when I need something from the shelf.

Problem solved!




Of course, my kids realized we now had a new floor in our house, so they had to get in on the action and check it out. (I tested it first!)




The next step was to put in the shelves.






And of course, fill them up with stuff.



Home (Studio) Improvement

I made a couple improvements from the last time I was working in this room. Originally, the room had no door. The doorway is only 24″ wide, so not too many doors can fit a space like that. But I need to make sure the room is assoundproof as possible, so when I record an online class, there’s not any sounds of children yelling or the blender grinding, or whatever else goes on in a house.

It doesn’t hurt to cut down on energy costs while trying to heat up the room either.

Here is the door I quickly built from plywood and backed with styrofoam insulation.

The outside…


And the inside. I have yet to paint it.



That can wait.



Lighting it Up

My budget for supplies has increased since last time as the Lord has blessed my business, so I bought some extra clamp lamps that I attached to the heavy welded lamp structure built by Dean Glenzer, an metal sculpturist from Artisan Forge Studios. And then I filled the sockets with 100 watt equivalent LED bulbs–nine of them.


It’s almost as bright as a football stadium when they’re all lit up! Which is just how I like it. You can’t paint any better than what you can see. We artists need good lighting to produce good art.

Getting it Together

After getting my lights up, my drafting table, paint cart and easel back in place, I decided to move my computer from the downstairs floor to the upstairs. That way, I can record an online course, edit the video, and upload it all from the same area. Which in theory, should save me a lot of time.

I can’t tell you how many times I recorded a video at my studio (back in Artisan Forge) and then wanted to edit it later in the evening on my computer at home–only to find out I left my memory card at the studio!

Just another trip, that’s all.

But no more.

So I moved my computer up. That wasn’t so hard. Next, I called the cable guy to come out and hook up a new jack for internet service. But it wouldn’t be that easy. He said that that it would cost a lot more than what was quoted over the phone to fish a cable through two floors from the basement.




“How about if I just bought some RG-6 cable and ran it from the downstairs to the upstairs? Would it work?”

“It would work,” he said. “But if we came out to your house for anything, we didn’t do it.”

So, that’s what I did. I could have gone out to Best Buy or Walmart to get the cable, but I felt like visiting an old friend.

Indianhead Electronics Supply in Eau Claire is a quaint little store that sells television parts and cables from a time before I was born. It’s like going into a historical museum: transistors, cathode ray tube pieces, antennas, bulbs, and all kinds of crazy things adorned the peg-board shelves.




I first met the owner, a nice older lady by the name of Judith, a few years ago when I needed to buy an old part for an antenna, so I could get free digital TV. At the time, some people were trying to steal the business away from her, and I prayed with her. She kept the business, and we stayed in touch.

I lumbered down the old stairs. Her dog greeted me racously, and we caught up.

“Do you have some RG-6 cable?” I asked.

“In the back,” she said. She got out this ancient cast iron machine that looked like a sausage grinder meets garden hose reel, and started spooling cable.

I thought I would just walk in and buy a 25′ foot cable, in a nice package. You know, like you do at Best Buy. But no.

She wound up the cable, cut it, and then gave me some metal connectors for the ends.

“I’ve never spliced coax cable before,” I said.

“Oh, it’s easy. You just cut it and crimp the ends on. Use your mystery machine and it will show you how.”

Mystery machine?

“I don’t use a cellphone or anything like that,” she added.

I shrugged. “Well, I can look up how to do it on YouTube, I guess.”

Is there anything you can’t learn how to do on YouTube? (Pretty soon, we’ll be able to say that about D-Tube and D-Live)




Would it work? I hooked one end up to the cable downstairs, and then ran it up.




I hooked it up to the modem, and then plugged in my router for wi-fi. It took a call to the cable company for them to change a setting on the modem, but everything was go!




I have direct internet in my studio now!

Finally, with everything set up, I’m feeling great. I got back to my commissions in full this week, and finished a drawing. More on that later.




I am really looking forward to increased art production, now that everything is set up: to serve my clients with commissions, my students with art tutorials and courses, and my collectors with new fine art.

Thank you for your encouragement along this journey!

All the best,


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!
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!


New Painting in Progress: “Come as Children”

New Painting in Progress: “Come as Children”

Here is a new painting in progress–a 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas. This will be a book cover for a compilation of Charles Spurgeon’s devotionals for children, called “Come Ye Children.” Based off this photo I took of my two children when we were hiking in northern Wisconsin.

Reference Photo


In Progress Painting

I start off very faint, just blocking in the colors with glazes. I mix about 90% clear acrylic medium to about 10% paint and just block in the composition, suggesting where the future colors will go. Here is my palette…


Normally, I use burnt sienna, but to challenge myself and also to enhance the color harmony within the painting, I omitted it.




Video Demonstration


The first layers consisted of raw sienna, yellow ochre, phthalo blue and indian yellow for the background, and then for the posts: raw umber dark, ultramarine blue and napthol crimson. I blocked in the blue jeans with phthalo blue, and my daughter’s pants with napthol crimson.

I’ll be posting more on this and show you the process of how the painting develops.

Have a blessed day,



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!


[Light Arises in the Darkness] Chapter 2, Part 1: Acknowledging Your Suffering

[Light Arises in the Darkness] Chapter 2, Part 1: Acknowledging Your Suffering

Acknowledging your suffering is the first step to being healed of the pain. It’s amazing, though, how often we want to skip this step. That’s what I’m going to talk about in today’s post…

In my last post, I shared with you the last part of the first chapter for my book I’m currently writing, Light Arises in the Darkness: How to Go Through Suffering and Experience Incredible Joy.

Again, I plan on making this a full-length printed book with illustrations, and I want to share it here with you first.



“Faith to Rise” 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas by Matt Philleo


In the previous post, we discussed “What is the Purpose of Suffering?”Today, I’m going to talk about why it is so important to acknowledge your suffering, and how that can pave the way for you to “stop the bleeding” and experience a true sense of peace and joy. I’m not talking about a cliche phrase on a greeting card. I’m talking about something real and something deep.

Something lasting. Even if this kind of peace and joy dissipates, you’ll have a well that you can always run to and refill.



I invite you to become a part of my Reader’s Review Group and I’ll let you know whenever I have a new section on the book written. Also, you will receive a discount on the actual book when it’s published. Click here and Join today!

Light Arises in the Darkness

How to Go Through Suffering and Experience Incredible Joy

Copyright 2017 by Matt Philleo. All rights reserved.

(To help you navigate through the book. I’ll be including links below to various posts…)



  1. Why is there Suffering
    Part 1
    Part 2
  2. Acknowledging Your Suffering
  3. Suffering Caused by Financial Problems
  4. Suffering Caused by Health Problems
  5. Suffering Caused by Loss Problems
  6. Suffering Caused by Relationship Problems
  7. Suffering Caused by Internal Problems
  8. Seeking the Lord in Your Suffering
  9. Responding to His Presence and Encouragement
  10. Becoming an Encourager

“”The disappointment has come – not because God desires to hurt you or make you miserable or to demoralize you or ruin your life or keep you from ever knowing happiness. He wants you to be perfect and complete in every aspect, lacking nothing. It’s not the easy times that make you more like Jesus, but the hard times.”- Kay Arthur


“How are you doing, brother?”

“Great. God bless you, good to see you!”

For churchgoers this is often the usual Sunday morning dialogue. Around the water cooler at work, the dialogue is similar, minus the religious expressions. However, at church, it’s actually worse, because we know we are supposed to be joyful, and so we become masters at faking it.

We erect a wall of solidarity around us when inside we are falling apart. Somehow, we are afraid of being vulnerable with others. We think nobody wants to hear our “sob story,” so instead we pretend things aren’t that bad. Or if we are struggling with a secret sin, a hidden addiction, we don’t want others to know how much we’re struggling. We don’t want ourselves to know how much we’re struggling!


So, on goes the mask, and the charade continues.

Now I am not saying that we should complain and gripe about every little thing. You and I both know people like that. They’re no fun to be around. But when we are going through real suffering, we should be able to open up to those who know us the best and should judge us the least.

The inner dialogue is where it all starts. It’s like this: things in your life start to unravel. Like a loose thread hanging off your clothes, you pull on it, thinking you can handle it. It’s no big deal. It grows longer. You’ve made it worse. But in your haste you try harder, and soon you tear a hole in your clothes, when all you needed to do was stop, recognize there’s a problem, and get the right tool (in this case, a scissors) and accurately cut it off.

Burying your head in the sand, pretending the suffering isn’t there or, on the hand, believing it’s something you can handle, only makes things worse.


When you’re going through suffering, meditate in it, don’t medicate it.


A friend of mine, an old classmate from high school, who has went through intense trials in her life–dealing with miscarriages and severe illness in her family–says this:

“I have nothing. The world says that you have strength in you, to pull out that strength, there is a hero in us. It is not true. That just causes depression, because we can’t muster up this strength that doesn’t exist. We have nothing inside of us that will fill the emptiness or have the power to change us. Not until we ask Jesus in.

“That’s why so many are hurting and feel like they fail. Even people with money and power, and ones that have met great goals and exceeded others’ expectations, have ended their life. The only strength we have is in HIM. And when we remain In HIM and he IN US we can do anything. There is nothing that is impossible. So it becomes a place where I lay myself down and say Lord, fill me up!”

Well said.

In recognizing the suffering for what it is, there is also the ability to discover the root cause of the suffering. It may be sinful behavior in us. It may be an external problem that we can find the wisdom to deal with by seeking God.




But again, we have to recognize we have a problem. Any honest doctor wouldn’t think of writing a prescription without first making an accurate diagnosis. Likewise, the patient wouldn’t think of running to to the hospital unless she realized her health was in jeopardy. Ignoring the symptoms of her disorder could prove fatal.

What if a doctor prescribed a blood-thinning medication to a hemophiliac, who was complaining of chest pains, but really was just suffering from heartburn?

In this case, neither the patient nor the doctor ignored the symptoms, but they failed to accurately diagnose them and to take into account the real source of discomfort. If this person had a severe cut, the incorrect prescription could cause him his life. Many today are going through severe trials and are trying to find relief in a myriad of places–psychoanalytical counseling sessions, drugs, substance abuse, self-improvement seminars, etc. They are not getting to the root of the problem.




When you’re going through suffering, meditate in it, don’t medicate it.

Don’t try to dull the pain by focusing on other things that are more pleasant, filling your life with busyness, or going to other sources to find relief. The pain has a purpose. If you didn’t have a toothache, you wouldn’t go to the dentist. You could dull the paint down with some morphine, but you would end up losing your tooth.

So, the pain is meant to take you somewhere.




That’s it for today. Thanks for reading! In the next post, we’ll continue in this chapter and discuss the idea of “Where will you go?” when you acknowledge your suffering and you’re looking for a cure.

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 at the very bottom of the page! 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 at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

I invite you to become a part of my Reader’s Review Group and I’ll let you know whenever I have a new section on the book written. Also, you will receive a discount on the actual book when it’s published. Join today!
Original Painting of a Now-Non-Existent Building

Original Painting of a Now-Non-Existent Building


Here is a painting I did of a building in my town that is now no longer there.

I title this “The Original Upland,” (24″ x 30″, acrylic on hardboard) because it used to be the home of Upland Distributing, Inc. a vacuum and filtration sales and service company where I used to work years ago, as a traveling service technician.



The Original Upland_1a_sm.jpg



While I worked there I built up a relationship with my boss, the owner.

Since I knew the building was slated to be demolished soon, and the owner would have to move his business into another building after being there for nearly 20 years, I thought a painting would be an encouragement to him. It would help keep the memories alive.

It was something I felt God wanted me to do to bless him, and I waited for a while, but when I knew that demolition was imminent, I got out my camera and took some pictures.



Upland 012.jpg



Upland 019.jpg



Maybe I’m a newbie at camera lenses, or I just tried to do the best I could with my small digital camera, but backed up by the buildings on the other side of the street, I couldn’t get the angle I wanted for image.

So I took a few images and “frankensteined” them together on Photoshop, using the warp and perspective tool to change the angle of the building to match the photos seamed together.

Never mind the cut-up-half floating car! That won’t be in the actual painting!




With this layout, I now had an image to paint! Here’s the step-by-step process…



Step 1: The Sketch

I made this very simple–just some lines, using a projector and a ruler to double check the angles. A projector can really distort your image, so you’ll always have to double check using your proportional skills and a ruler for straight lines!

After getting the sketch done, it was time to fill in with paint. I use acrylic mixed with matte medium to thin it out and make glazes. Everything starts out very light.

I used these colors:
Raw umber dark
Burnt sienna
Alizarine crimson
Phthalo blue
Raw sienna
Yellow ochre
Indian yellow
Titanium white
Ivory black


Step 2: The Underpainting

In this step I block in the initial color of the building. The goal is to create a lot of contrast right away and make the orangish-brick colored building stand out against the pale white background of the snow and sky. Using burnt sienna and raw sienna with a heavy amount of clear acrylic medium to dilute it, I fill in the areas rapidly with a 1″ flat brush.

It’s the perfect size: large enough to cover the area quickly, but small enough to “cut in” around windows and trim. Sounds like house painting!


Step 3: Defining the Darkest Values

Unless you get a sense for the darkest values within a picture, you’ll never know how dark to go with the medium and light values. So in this step, I darken in the window ornamentation, and the molding on the top of the building. I use a mixture of blue and brown, and I don’t want it to be too dark.


Because I’m trying to create the look of snow falling. You’ll notice as you look outside on a snowy day (I did on my drive to the studio) that when fine snow flakes are in the air, you don’t see just a lot of white specks. But the colors on everything–especially objects in the distance are muted.

Did you notice something? Or rather something that’s missing? I took out the vehicle that I originally had in front of the building. I decided that I wanted to show more of the details of the large glass windows, and that vehicle was getting in the way.

But to make the composition more interesting, as you’ll see, I add in a snow-covered fire hydrant. It also reiterates the reddish color of the building.



Step 4: Enriching the Colors

This is where it gets fun. All the colors get enriched. I add several layers of burnt sienna and raw sienna to the building, making some areas darker than others. I want to create the look of old brick that is maybe a little dirty in some spots, and catches the light a little bit in areas that are angled towards the sky.

Also, I really add in some details to the Mona Lisa image on the building. That’s a trademark of several buildings in downtown Eau Claire. But in this case, the image has faded after several years, so I paint it with bluish colors, just as I see in my reference photo.


The Original Upland_1a_sm.jpg

Step 5: The Final Touches

Now the painting is very close to being done. But the final effects really enhance the overall presentation. I add in a lot of snowflakes of various sizes to create that three-dimensional look of some being closer to your line of vision than others.

Next, I make it look as if there’s Christmas decorations on the business’ front window. And last but not least, the details of the 2-Hour Parking sign. That was a very important detail to include, because the business owner recalls how he had to move his vehicle several times to avoid getting a ticket.

All part of the memories!

Finally, just to add some charm: a bicycle, again covered by snow. We have people in our city that bike year-round. I should know. I’m one of them! I made the bike facing towards the painting, intentionally to lead your eye back into the composition.

Now, here are a few detail images so you can see it a bit closer up.





When the painting was done, I gave this to my old boss as a gift, which he now proudly hangs in his new office!

I figured I’d share this painting with you since we are still in the gift giving season. And also in much of the world, that charming season of fresh white snow covering the old memories of the year gone by, symbolically cleansing and preparing a way for the bright promises of a new year!

Be blessed,



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!
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