The Focused Finisher
by Rebecca Slaton

“Don’t turn this car around.”

I am working on 3 scaffold stacks and slowly turning into a puddle at the ceiling line when I first notice the motion. Flap…Flap…Flap. At first, I think I’ve left on a ceiling fan which will disturb my peripheral vision and balance.  But it goes away when I stop troweling.  It’s the underside of my own arm.  Whoa! And there it is. I am 52, and after a decade, where I thought I would be physically working less, I’m putting in 8-10 hour hard project days. My clients are more demanding and price conscience.  Old world is so done and talking about a faux finish is like wearing Mom Jeans or a Members Only Jacket.  The latest designer I worked with is almost younger then my favorite trowel.

How did I get here, and more importantly, how do I move on?  The struggle is real….

But you know what I’m talking about. I know a lot of Mimi’s, Gigi’s and Papa’s back on the ladder.  How many of you are juggling aging or sick family members, grandkids, retirements, lay-offs, your own health, market shifts or general burn-out? These are the kind of challenges that make you wonder-what am I doing?

The thing is, you can’t give up. Besides the financials, you’re in a creative business for a reason. Remember that job you hated and left to start doing this? It’s still there but with less pay and worse benefits. I’ve tried just getting through each day. This is called avoidance, and it’s a slow spiral into perpetual crabbiness.  Or you can try wallowing in self-pity and feeling helpless.  Believe me-Facebook sympathy only goes so far before you lose friends and alienate allies.   So what do you do to become unstuck?

Well, I’m here to share with you in future columns how I plan to keep going.  The things I’m learning to help me navigate this brave, new creative world while hopefully reconciling the life I have with the one I want.   

We will look at:

  • The changing market and what it means
  • How to adapt but still be yourself
  • Finding resources to help
  • What success means without “having it all”
  • Creating a nurturing community
  • Finding your separate peace

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to look for them. And I want to hear what you think and have you join the conversation. Please email me at if you have a topic about moving ahead you would like to share or discuss.  As a kid, I remember fighting with my siblings in the car. My dad would look in the rear view mirror and say “If you can’t get your s*** together, I’m turning this car around right now.”  Let’s just say, it’s time to keep driving straight ahead. 

Social Media Tips & Tricks
by Regina Garay

Hello! I'm happy to e-meet everyone, and look forward to sharing a few social media tips for artists. We are going to start off with Pinterest, the site that is usually one of the top 3 referring sites to any website. One of the aspects that breaks my heart is seeing a gorgeous decorative painting project, clicking the link, and it goes to...nothing. Sob! This is a missed opportunity to send someone to your site, and it's so easy to add your website link to your pins, even if you didn't pin it from your website! How to do this? I'm glad you asked.

Once you upload your image (or save it from Facebook, Instagram, etc.), open your pin and click this button:

Click image to enlarge

Then, fill in your website here:

Click image to enlarge

Hit save and once that is done, double check your pin by clicking the link. Does it take you to your website? 

Happiness! Two things to note: 

1) Please only add your website to your work; 

2) Write your descriptions in third person, with keyword rich copy, the name of your studio, and your location. 

When someone repins that gorgeous project of yours, they will be likely to keep this info intact - and you want that info everywhere!

I hope this helps - see you online!

Swallowing Fear
by Aaron Wade Bailey

I feel, if I'm going to write this, I need to be honest. You all scare me.

I spent twenty years performing live onstage at every major theme park and cruise ship, singing, dancing, doing stunts...but writing an introductory article to thousands of artists who are well-educated, experienced, and talented? 

Way more frightening.

If you are reading this newsletter, you are a complete badass. You care about what you do, and you already have something in you that many people don't. Passion.

I have admittedly procrastinated, waffled, and generally put off writing this. As much as I want to be the young, cutting edge of what we decorative artists do, and I tell my beautiful wife on a daily basis that I want to be the Bob Ross of decorative art, the thought of actually doing it is positively terrifying.

And that's why I have to.

And that's why you do what you do, too.

I just had to rent a boom lift so I could paint a 30 foot mural, 30 feet in the air, and it terrified me. The fact that my mother, who is a 60ish year-old woman (sorry mom), was right there with me, made it even scarier. I'm sure many of you have done way worse.

But swallowing fear is what we do.

And the fear is easier to swallow, because the industry is on an upswing, and I feel, for the first time in years, that I can actually make a career out of this. That's why I'm writing this.

We, decorative artists, all need to stand together and get excited about what the future holds.

Leonardo da Vinci was a badass. You know how many paintings he actually finished and is credited as having completed?


I'm not saying I'm LDV. He was ridiculous. That guy also did a lot of other stuff, obviously, but my point is this: get excited about what you do, spread the word, and be proud. You are an artist. 

You are a rockstar. You are cool. You are a badass.

Have you championed a decorative art, philanthropic work?  Or a project that benefits a community?

IDAL wants to spotlight heart-felt projects created by our members in the “Heart of Faux” column in the national American Painting Contractor magazine. In these articles, we talk about you, your business, your project, and who benefitted from your generosity.

This is a great way to get some well-earned publicity for yourself and your charity. You can even link from your website directly to the online version of the article. 

Interested? Contact: Katie Fitzgerald,

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