watercolor marriage support

When I showed Phil my latest watercolor painting, finally complete, his response came first from his raised eyebrows, and then from his sour mouth. “Well, I wouldn’t spend your days doing it is all I’m saying.” The subtext for those playing along at home reads: don’t quit your day job, not that you have one. When I retell this story to him, “You realize this was your response when I showed you my work, oh supportive one,” he doesn’t deny saying as much, though he tweaks details.

“I didn’t say it when you first showed it to me, for starters.” Why can’t you just apologize and admit that it was insensitive? Would you ever want anyone to say anything like this to one of our kids? Please don’t answer this, because I fear what your answer will even be. “I said it was very good.” Just not something I should be doing because it’s not “productive?” Because I’m not “good enough?” He puts on headphones refusing to discuss it any further.

I haven’t painted with watercolors in years and decided I wanted to pick them up again because they make me giddy. I am an artist and storyteller, and who knows what techniques I can learn, what experiences will add to and inform my next project or experience. Play, follow your bliss. Do what brings you joy and doors will open. Painting—actually, colors and creating and drawing more than painting—brings me joy, genuine joy. So, why would he say that?

Let me play along and pretend that I know why. Because, he might defend, this painting gets in the way of more productive activity, like writing, or anything that could actually contribute to this family as a whole, anything that could contribute to making HIS LIFE easier. I could take out the garbage, for example. Or stop “creating piles” for him to move everywhere.

I only paint on weekends and at night, but why do I need to make excuses and justifications for when and how and why I paint? I’m painting and creating and leaving a mark on this world. Why must he judge it harshly and say such things?

Remember that the creative artist should be nurtured and encouraged, treated kindly, not harshly. Otherwise, you risk shaming her into silence, into a creative block of fear. I would know. I can treat her just as harshly. But I want to befriend and stand up for her, and to tell you to please stop behaving as if you’re a lump of excrement whenever I’m excited about something.

Be kind to yourself, and continue to create, even in the face of those who see your days, and how you choose to spend them, as a waste of time. And continue to paint and play.


Materials Used (contains affiliate links):

Winsor & Newton Professional Water Color Tube Paints in the following colors (do NOT use Cotman brand):
Winsor Lemon
Burnt Sienna
Alizarin Crimson
Opera Rose
Quinacridone Red
Permanent Carmine
Quinacridone Magenta
Transparent Orange
Olive Green
Permanent Sap Green
Cobalt Violet
Payne’s Grey
Davy’s Gray

HOLBEIN Bright Violet

YARKA ST. PETERSBURG ARTISTS’ WATERCOLOURS Yellow Ochre (This set is very reasonably priced and the quality is excellent)

Martin Mijello 33-well air-tight Water Color Palette

I do my mixing on a regular porcelain dinner plate because porcelain is best for seeing how colors will blend and look before they touch paper, whereas with plastic palettes the colors bead up, and you cannot see. Also, porcelain doesn’t stain.

Let me know if you want me to do a post on brushes. I use an assortment of Kolinsky, Red Sable, Synthetic, Blends, and have been experimenting with different brands and shapes based on what I’ve read on different botanical chat boards from Raphael to Isabey to Rekab and Escoda.

By The Book
Anna Mason’s The Modern Flower Painter is where I found the source photo and instructions for the techniques used in this Dahlia watercolor painting. Anna’s method is to first paint the highlights, then the darkest parts of the image, always painting from a photograph, rather than from still life. Many artists say this isn’t “real art,” but Anna Knights (AKA Anna Mason) has won the RHS Gold Medal (The Royal Horticultural Society), which is a very high honor.

Another book I love, which doesn’t use watercolor and instead uses color pencil is by another RHS Gold Medal Winner, Ann Swan: Botanical Portraits with Colored Pencils.



  1. Baby girl. The whole time I was reading this piece I was thinking ‘Where’s the book?’. It was honest and beautiful, but that didn’t take away from the ‘Where’s the book?’ The two I have are more dog eared than a copy of 50 Shades in a Catholic high school. And if you tell me you want to be an artist in another medium, I’m here for you. And if I’ve missed the answer, my bad. Other than that there’s only, ‘Where’s my book then?’

    1. Author

      I haven’t been working on the book. I haven’t pretended to be working on the book. I haven’t said, oh yeah, I’m cranking it out. I’ve been on again off again with the next book. I’ve been unfocused, unclear, uncertain. I haven’t been sure or steady. It hasn’t been fear or creative block, I don’t think. I think it has been many things. Things might translate to “excuses.”

      – Hormones and motivation are excuses, valid excuses, but excuses. Reasons.

      -Stalled plot, a sagging middle, a lack of direction, stale wisdom, cliche, questioning if what I have to say is “enough,” if this story is WORTHY of the page– lacking self-esteem in the material itself, not in the telling of it, not in the writing but in the messaging.

      – Kids, to-do lists, a husband who bitches about clutter, after school activities, homework, exercise
      – Failure to establish a routine that includes exercise, keeping an orderly home, being home for the kids at the ready for homework, and all the ramp up required to delve into writing (once I get going, I DO NOT WANT TO STOP… I WANT TO GO FOR DAYS WITHOUT INTERRUPTION, WHICH IS WHAT I DID WITH MY OTHER BOOKS). I don’t do well with the whole, stop start stop routine. I just don’t. I need four days straight in pajamas, no internet access, no people, just writing. Sloth. Then, I send to friends, they comment, I re-write. It takes so long to get into it, that once I’m there, in it, I don’t want to leave. To stop and start is torture.

      1. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful response. I hear you on the need for flow. My husband is a writer and now that we’ve started a family he will leave the country for three-four weeks to get a solid draft done. I don’t want to get into how things might be different for men/women but *whoops* I kinda just did.

        Well, it sounds like you’re doing the right thing, going with exploration at this time and place. Seems like a nuturing thing to do. I’ve liked over the years seeing you lean into different creative endeavours. It would be awesome to have your partner’s unconditional support with it but I hope you don’t need it.

        That second paragraph sounds like a bucket o resistence to me! I can’t believe it would be the case for someone that writes as consistently and well as you.

        If you can work it out bookwise, I can wait.

      2. This is exactly how I am too. Interruptions disrupt that sense of flow which is so essential for creativity.

      3. You called it. Kids KILL creativity. That and really bad hemorrhoids. But how about Kids: taking them to school, picking them up from school, taking them to their bullshit activities, helping them do their homework, cooking them dinner, helping them do their homework some more, getting them ready for bed — and now add hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids so vicious and large that you can’t sit to write, or paint, or exist. Hemorrhoids that can substitute as a Hippity-Hop, that have Goodyear contacting your for an endorsement deal (with Infotron). Game over.

      4. hi,
        yes. writing is super hard. i like that you’re honest with yourself and seem at peace with your process.

        i think your painting is lovely. watercolor is super hard. especially to get those colors so bright (and not muddy them up).
        your husband’s comment would’ve bugged/hurt me, too.

        now to get serious:

        could you please post one of your skin care product reco’s? i love the hair tutorials. but now i need to know how to moisturize/anti-age my under eyes and the rest.


        p.s. keep on keepin’ on.

  2. I feel like there’s something escapist in your pursuits, be they “idea boards” or shopping or photography or watercoloring. There is a distinct element of “I am too busy being creative to be in the real world right now. Look how pretty and other my world is, and if you love me you should just let me BE in it.”

    I think what you are picking up on from Phil is that if you love him et al, you need to live in their world and only visit yours, not live in yours and feel bitter resentment when you feel them tugging you from theirs. Is his wording clumsy? Potentially, yes. But I think nitpicking his words and pulling them apart is another form of escapism, this time from the underlying message.

    I think you’re very talented, in many directions, and I feel kindly toward you, young lady. :) But I think deep down you are driven by fear — of the ordinary, of the mundane, of the world you think the rest of us settle for — and do everything in your power to ignore it rather than face it.

    There’s beauty here, too, Stephanie. And a family that loves you. And a husband who married you because he wanted to hold you to him forever, not because he wanted to hurt you. But he cannot connect to you in any meaningful way when you are constantly turned away from him, running away.

    Take from this what you want, but know that I wish you and your sweet family all the best.

    1. How can you blame her for running away from her husband & trying to escape through painting, makeup, beautiful parties, perfect laundry rooms? Those are all things she does because a) she’s gifted in the decorative arts & b) her partner is not a good man. He is not a true champion. He is hurtful & selfish & chauvinistic. I’d be doing far worse than “escaping” if I was in her shoes. Blaming the victim here a little, I think.

  3. Your painting is really good. I dabble in illustration / painting and I couldn’t do something that realistic. I also sometimes wish I could take a vacation from life and go to art school full time. Sounds like a vacation from life is what you might need to get your next book done … but I wouldn’t worry about that too much if I were you. It will come.

  4. I deeply miss your former content, and loved your books. As a reader, it is a little confusing to have followed you from your single days/book writing/Hollywood pilots and all of the success, to reading that you are a Girl Scout Troop leader who is painting with watercolor, without a reckoning to your former life as a writer/socialite of sorts. I am not saying one is better than the other (though I greatly preferred the previous content in terms of honesty and aspirational qualities) — but it truly feels like two totally different people. I’d love to understand more about your journey – I assume there was one? And I wonder if Phil is also a little confused by your evolution — despite being a passenger on the ride, and it is somehow coming out in a passive aggressive manner. Hope you don’t mind the feedback, and you surely don’t owe your readers anything, but this has sure been a headscratcher for me (so much so that I keep coming back to see if the blog has reverted back to its original energy).

  5. I just wanted to say that I think it’s great to have something that makes you giddy. What a great description! There’s a lot of stuff we do out of obligation, or to make money, or because it’s somewhat enjoyable, but there’s not a lot that makes us giddy. So I think it’s really to be prized if you have something like that. I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time, and the gratification that it brings carries over into the rest of your life and the lives of people around you.

  6. Wow, that painting is simply beautiful! I have recently started watercolor again as well and am having great fun with it. You clearly have talent and there’s nothing better than a craft that makes us feel giddy and authentic and competent, so keep up the good work! And you could always set up an etsy account and sell future works if there’s a nagging need to “contribute,” but I have found that it feels like more of a chore to paint if there’s an expected outcome for it. I think it’s awesome that you’re painting and came to the comments expecting an outpouring of support and accolades. I’ve been a reader of your website and books for years and years (over a decade? wow) and I look forward to seeing more watercolors in the future.

  7. Phil’s comment sounds like one my ex-husband would have made. Did make. Repeatedly. Little digs and jabs to keep you off balance, teasing you away from your passions.

    I swore I’d never live it again – actually was fairly sure I’d be alone forever because I was that unwilling to go back to it.

    Astonishingly, now with lovah, I have found bliss. We are meticulously careful to be tender with each other, and hold each others talents and interests carefully. Maybe we don’t have passion for the same things (alloy wheels v. whatever else kind of wheels do not fascinate me, but neither do the darling miniature daffodils that I gushed over profusely the other day to him). However we make a concerted effort to show interest, be kind, support and exude love. It takes a lot of work, but it is so worth it.

    Yes, sometimes when you’ve got the perfect zinger, it’s fun to poke holes in the ones you love. But seriously – who wins? No one. You just have a deflated partner.

    1. I think there is a difference between supporting an interest and fishing for a compliment.

      I agree totally that partners should support each other’s interests. But I think Phil can support Stephanie without putting her down; and Stephanie can graciously accept that support even if it isn’t a raving review.

      When it comes to creative personalities, often other people feel like they are tip toeing around them in the sense that praise has to be given in a specific way. Stephanie admitted to this herself in her post.

      Phil can change his attitude for the better; but Stephanie can also adjust her expectations as well.

    2. Yeah, yep. And that’s of the infamous four horsemen of the marital apocalypse, where what seems like simple behaviors are poisonous: http://www.couplestherapyinc.com/gottman-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypse/

      (No affiliation, I just lived it.)

      I almost fell off my chair at the beauty of that watercolor. Are you KIDDING, you painted that? For a side hobby, I run a booth at craft fairs sometimes and your work is incredible, you could totally sell that if you wanted. I’d also like to point out that being creative just for the sake of creativity helps with overall thinking and innovation. Managers had us watch this Ted Talk at work recently because they want an innovative staff: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_kelley_how_to_build_your_creative_confidence?language=en

      Hubby should be supportive. It’s also not okay to just shut a conversation down before one party feels finished, although he might be doing that because he the intensity of the convo is too much.

      Really loved your post and your art. Have you ever considered selling on imagekind or zazzle or such? (You can email me if you want to talk further – again, not affiliated with any of those sites but have tried them.)

      1. ps. I bought a special keyboard cover to “protect” my keyboard and it’s made everything kindof sticky and I forgot to proof after editing. Apologies for the typos.

  8. Your painting is beautiful, and you clearly have talent.

    But I squirmed in my seat a little when I read your description of how an artist, or creative person, wants to be treated. Forgive me for using this word, but I can’t think of another: coddled. It seems like you want your support from Phil to come in very specific ways that he does not genuinely feel. If he lied of exaggerated about his feelings, I suspect you would say he was not being authentic.

    I have several friends and family who are very creative, some in the performing arts and others in visual art. And I have been on the other side, on Phils side, of this conversation. It is not fun. If you are not an editor or critic, they don’t want your opinion. They want your praise. And more often then not, if the praise is not delivered in the exact right manner, it is worse then no praise at all. In some ways, it is a situation where you set people up to fail because your needs are so specific.

    If you love painting, paint. But don’t paint for validation from Phil or anybody else.

    1. A person can still be supportive even if the art is not personally to their taste. Seriously. You find something positive to say. You can even say “well I am not a flower person but you did a great job blending the colors” or “it really pops off the page.” That’s no excuse for insensitivity.

      1. Agreed that there is something positive to say. But here is the question: would that satisfy Stephanie? And is it really a positive comment if Phil has to think about it and craft it just so?

        I think it is wonderful when people have creative pursuits. But I think it is unfair when they seek support in very specific ways from other people. Other people have opinions, and those opinions are not necessarily wrong just because it’s not what your want to hear.

        A good rule of thumb is to not solicit opinions unless you can handle hearing a negative opinion.

        1. Author

          I agree 100% that you shouldn’t ask the question if you’re not prepared for the answer. HOWEVER, there is such a thing as decent delivery. You can deliver your honest message humanely. There’s a difference between, “I wasn’t moved by this particular passage. Nothing in the writing stirred anything in me. I didn’t connect with it.” And, “This is just bad writing. It’s awful.” One of them is actually constructive on some level. “Nothing in the writing” is still harsh but honest. Hey if there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there. No coddling. Fine. Again, this critic isn’t the first one I’d go to unless I needed help. That’s the thing… I usually seek Phil’s opinion when I need help, not praise! I already felt proud and happy (giddy in fact), and I simply wanted him to rejoice in my, my joy! But he was mister bummer summer. Mister killjoy. Mister, “don’t quit your day job.” WTF?! WHY?! Why rain on my parade? I was proud and happy. I wasn’t asking him to critique my painting! I was just all, ooh, isn’t it fun and pretty. I’m happy.

          I didn’t let it kill my spirit. I cleared my palette and began my next, parrot tulips.

  9. sometimes i think you need to jettison your husband and readers. PEOPLE CHANGE. yeesh. this is spoken as someone who is also a published author with a lucrative hollywood deal that is now over, and part of my past. maybe ill do this again, probably i won’t. i get the SAME. SHIT. if it’s so easy, folks, go ahead and try it! GOOD LUCK!

    1. Okay, simmer down. From a readers perspective Stephanie has never written a post that says “I’m no Longer Writing or Working Outside the home, here’s why” so it’s rational for her readers to think she is writing or working on something.

      I’ve been reading for years and Stephanie used to drop MAYJAH humblebrags about her trips to LA and people who just loved, loved, loved her work and wanted to make movies and tv out of it. Then when that didn’t pan out (which one can only assume) she went radio silent on that particular topic. How are we to know what’s up without asking? We aren’t mind readers, though from this post it seems as if Stephanie would like some people to be (her husband).

      Another point on the writing front, in some recent posts (recent can be the past year or two) she has mentioned maybe teaching a creative writing class or doing things of that sort to jump start the writing. So again, follow up questions are not completely out of the norm. You seem like a every frustrated former writer. And maybe Stephanie is one, too. But Lordy you two have different ways of dealing with it. You seem extremely bitter. Stephanie retreats to other pursuits.

      But I do wonder what she is doing. And I think, based on the nature of this blog, mostly in it’s former glory, it’s fair game to ask. I don’t care how many meetings there are, being a girl scout troop leader is not a job that takes up a full “work week” for lack of a better phrase. We know Phil took over your father’s business. I assume the book money is gone. The kids are at school for most of their waking hours. So you watercolor, meal-plan, and make vision boards? You think about maybe writing? You buy makeup online. You stress about hormones. I mean, I would respect you so much more if you were just honest about what you did. You always struck me as lazy in things you really didn’t want to do. And since the inspiration for writing hasn’t been there, you seem to not want to do much else but curate lists of movies.

      Maybe retrain yourself how to write. I’m sorry you don’t get to just pump out the books at your leisure like you used to, but when life continues on (we have kids, we get married, we have sick relatives, etc.) most grownups change the way they do things, change their schedules to continue getting things done. But not Stephanie. Maybe force yourself to write from noon-4 everyday. Or 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Or get a part time job from noon-4. I’m pretty sure having children and being dealt the hand of a thrown off schedule didn’t hinder all female writers who had them.

      Gillian Flynn wrote gone girl before and during her child’s infancy, Jennifer Weiner has had 2 children and still manages to find time to write, A.M. Homes wrote before and after her child, Emily Giffin has 3 kids and still manages to publish a book every 24 months. I’m not saying you have to write. But stop using lack of inspiration and not having your particular perfect set of circumstances as an excuse. You sound like a spoiled princess. I’d respect you more if you just said, “I don’t wanna. I’m too lazy to be on that strict or tight a schedule. I’d rather do what I’m doing. I’m getting older and I just don’t want to dedicate the kind of time to writing that I would need to write something good. I like waking up late, or having the time to meal plan, or paint when I want to.” Your life doesn’t seem any better or worse than it was 15 years ago (holy crap, I’ve been reading nearly that long), but you seem less willing to admit that this simple life is what you do now and that’s ok. And I use simple, not in a derogatory way. To me it’s amazing to watch your twins grow, to be able to stay home, even as they get older and more independent, to have the kind of disposable time you do. But you haven’t embraced it like you did the hungry 20-something who loved being featured in Marie Claire in stilettos, and in the NY Times.

      1. Author

        It comes down to knowing what your dream is, knowing what it is you WANT TO DO. I don’t know what that is. Before, undoubtedly, my dream was to be an author and to be a mother. I had a fire under my ass because it was my deepest desire to be a published author, to be a writer. I knew it in my bones. Then I accomplished that dream. Bliss, truly. I adore being a mother, and I sop it up. I know they won’t live in this house forever. I know we remember our childhoods, and in part, I’m helping to create theirs, so I see it as a very full job. It’s certainly not wholly on me–I’m not a psycho about it, but I can see the beauty of it, the time limit and perspective of it when you pull back life’s lens.

        I didn’t just write a TV Pilot. I wrote a TV treatment for NBC (which is an outline of an entire episode, scene by scene), which they bought). Then, I had to write an entire different TV Pilot for ABC (which they bought), that was a script, line for line dialogue, after I pitched an approved outline to the studio, then to the Network. And it near killed me, because I got sick during the whole process, and pilot season is something else, with a ton of competing shows, and re-writes at the last minute, up all night, making last minute changes. It went from a show about a girl moving on after divorce, to a WORK PLACE SITCOM! (Because that’s what the decision maker at the time was looking for most). That’s Hollywood. So, the week before the script was due, I was writing a brand new script, with new characters, some of whom weren’t in my book, and it all took place in an advertising agency in California, not New York! Wow. I learned a lot, and learned how much I adored writing books, not scripts!

        Then I pitched another show idea to the networks, and I got really close, but no. Rejected. I’ve kept in touch with many of the executives to whom I pitched, and I even receive emails from some of them from time to time asking if I have anything new. Which is totally flattering and validating. I know I have great ideas and that I’m important and funny and all the things we all are if we give ourselves permission to feel it. So it’s not fear, I don’t think, at play. And I don’t think it’s my being lazy. I really don’t. I think maybe I need to reveal a dream, or maybe just write this book and be done with it? I don’t know. Maybe I need to sit down with a life coach. Because I don’t know what my dream is anymore. I don’t know what I want. I don’t make vision boards anymore because they’re blank! I don’t know what I want… which is why I’m stuck. I don’t know where to aim!

        The truth is that I can very easily look at watercolor Gold Medal winning botanical artists and say, Yeah, that could be me. Meh.
        I see NY Times Best-selling authors on tour. Meh.
        Screenwriters giving acceptance speeches for an Oscar. Way too much work for me, no desire. All that “EXTERNAL CONFLICT.” Though I adore Neil Simon.

        To add some clarity, I haven’t ever submitted my next book proposal, which is what it would take to get my next book published. That’s all it would take to get the ball rolling again in that arena. My manager and agent have made it clear that they’re ready and waiting as soon as I’m ready. I haven’t done so because of the reasons I listed in my previous comment. I need to know there’s depth in the material. I refuse to publish something just for the sake of it. There must be a reason, a necessity, an insistence from deep inside, something worthy of being said! A DRIVE! A dream! In my previous books I had strong messages and stories to tell, a fire that had to be put out. This isn’t the case of a woman who has tried and given up. I keep returning to the material anew, searching for the message, the deeper meaning, and seeing if it has teeth and if it can draw blood and get me to move or cry. I won’t pursue a book unless it makes me feel deeply.

        1. This is raw. This is honest. And you are not the only one who feels this way, believe you me.

          I get that you are a girl who needs a purpose. I am, too. I was blessed to find my place in student-direct volunteer work in an urban, Title I middle school. (I like a challenge, hahaha.) I felt invigorated by the work I did and so threw myself into it. Doing so was like a jumpstart for all the other meh-y areas of my life, and now I volunteer in that same school one day a week and the other four days I work in a position I love. Part-time, while the kids are in school, because that is my reality.

          I don’t know where you will find your bliss, but I know that when you do, you will be incredible. In the meantime, THIS writing, this honesty, is wonderful and resonates I think with many.

          Best wishes.

      2. i’m not the least bit bitter about what’s happened to me. i am as lucky as anyone could be but as a realist i can’t expect it again, nor do i care. it’s others who care, who understand absolutely nothing about hollywood or publisher. i do indeed get tired of people assuming i should do the same thing i already did (which was literally a once in a lifetime thing) when other activities that seems less sexy, ones that are completely fulfilling to me, are somehow “not enough.” the whiff of schadenfreude towards stephanie is pretty strong here even as you dress it up with dollops of praise.

  10. Your painting is lovely, and you dot deserve to be diminished by anyone, especially your husband. Shame on him.

    Please, please go listen to “Waltz (Better than Fine)” by Fiona Apple.

    “No, I don’t believe in the wasting of time — but I don’t believe that I’m wasting mine.”

  11. I think it’s really good. I’m not an art critic or art scholar so I don’t know how it ranks in the art world of talent but the first thing I thought was- wow, that’s really good. If I saw it as a print somewhere on or a canvas I would consider it for my bedroom.

    But none of that is the point. This is a familiar theme, different subject. Just you and Phil being on different pages. If you’re cool with his non hair petting, seemingly ever (at least publicly), that’s cool. Everyone has their needs and expectations and it’s up to you to decide what you need. The thing is- to be really happy, you then need to readjust your expectations of his reactions. He not a stroker. Not to you. He’s not going to be. So showing him isn’t going to get the reaction you’re looking for- the writing is on the wall before its on your blog.

    I loved your books. But not everyone who writes two successful books has it in them for a third. Some write 20. Maybe that’s just not your passion at this time. But that has to be ok. Maybe you need to make a decision that you’re tabling writing a book indefinitely and he has to be part of that discussion. Because basically, at this time, he doesn’t get you and & you’re feeling un-gotten. I just felt sad reading this. You could’ve just taken to the bed and done nothing. You’re still being creative- just in a different way. I’d much rather have a spouse who still felt alive enough to create than just took out the garbage in a timely fashion.

  12. A few thoughts that I’ll just summarize. 1. Watercolor is difficult. Your watercolor work is very good. You could sell it. 2. When did raising kids become non-productive work? I hate that old thinking. Are there financial pressures that require your contribution? 3. For many writers, me included, writing a book is not like going to an office, where we can sit down every day and “be productive.” No book before its time. 4. Phil could have said many things that were nicer, such as “wow, i couldn’t do something that realistic on a bet.” “It must feel good to be doing art again.” 5.Phil is pretty passive aggressive about this, making a pronouncement and then refusing to discuss further. 6. It feels like some info is missing. I am certain there are things we don’t know and frankly, I don’t want to know that stuff. I feel like you were hurt, you had to ‘vent,’ you did, you need some validation, you got it, and now it’s time to move on, either with therapist or Phil Not readers. Keep us out of this kind of highly personal relationship stuff. None of us knows what we’re talking about.

  13. I disagree with Kimberly; I don’t think Stephanie wants or needs to be coddled, I think she has enough confidence in her creative abilities that she could have handled constructive criticism. I think her only mistake was in thinking Phil would provide that. There has never been anything constructive about his criticisms. Stephanie, I suggest you ask someone else next time you’re looking for feedback on one of your creative endeavors.

    In the bigger picture, I’ve felt for quite a while that Stephanie’s main love language is affirmations, and she married someone who will never provide that. The anecdote in this post is a prime example.

    For what it’s worth, I think the watercolor is very, very good.

    1. Thank you, GP. I don’t think I want or need to be coddled either. And, I think I’ve proven as much over the years by digesting criticism on this blog over the years, knowing when it’s valid, knowing when it might hurt but might serve me to pay attention to it, and also knowing when it doesn’t serve me, when it actually doesn’t apply, when it speaks more to the writer of the comment than it does to me or what I’ve written.

      I have learned over the years to do the same with Phil. The fact is that I do value his opinion (oh, how I wish I didn’t, but he IS very smart, and he does offer a very fresh perspective, seeing things so differently than I), so I feel very proud of myself that I’ve finally learned to listen to Phil’s feedback and not take his forceful opinions (always presented as FACT) as gospel. I take what he has to say into consideration. I weigh it. Praise from Phil, by the way, doesn’t feel “all the better” than from someone who is always easy to please. I don’t much care if I please him or not. I don’t ever aim to please him. I’m giddy, and I hope that he can share in it, and I can get irritated when he refuses to share in it.

      I won’t ask him for his opinion unless I’m ready to take it. If I feel too fragile or unsure about my work, I wouldn’t dare open myself up to the wrath of Phil’s criticism.

  14. I love your painting and would encourage you to continue regardless of the feedback you got from your husband. You are CREATING. That’s enough. That’s more than most people do.

    My most favorite gifts from my father and my children are the paintings they have painted for me. They are what I would grab should my house catch fire. Those paintings are a part of them, a window into their souls.

  15. This is beautiful. It has brought aesthetic pleasure, the process was creative and It has reacquainted you with a favorite pastime. Joy times three. This is success.

  16. That is a watercolor? Wow – I’m so impressed. Creating and being creative gives life a spark, I think. I feel most alive when I’m engaged in the creative process. Your photography was always so wonderful and I’m glad to see you doing something that feeds your creative spark.

  17. What bothers me here is Stephanie complaining and asking anonymous strangers to take her side against her husband in a blog post. That’s a serious breach of loyalty, if you ask me. Of course you argue. You’re married. Just don’t open the doors for strangers’ opinions into your relationsship, no matter how wrong you may think he is and how right you think you are. It’s immature and it will backfire.

  18. I get where Stephanie is coming from. When you are a talented and creative person in so many areas, it’s really hard to zero in on something that you truly feel passionate about. Enough to say, “I’m going to do this for the rest of my life/career”…enough to light that fire to get and keep you going.

    I used to and still do feel very jealous of people who go into careers or one singular passion in life and that’s what they do, that’s what they identify, and they do it well. But what do you do when you have so many interests and talents and have to potential to do well at them all?

    It’s not being unfocused or lazy, it’s refusing to settle. It’s also incredibly frustrating.

  19. God he is emotionally abusive Stephanie. Why you have not left this man is beyond me. You deserve better & so do your kids. Your painting is professional quality. Would you be interested in illustrating children’s books?

  20. That is a STUNNING painting.
    I would hang it on my wall.

    And next time he makes a comment, just say “I’d like to see you try.” then just walk away and ignore him.

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