Art should never be painful torture or likened to walking headfirst, eyes closed into an ocotillo. It should be as easy as pie – simple and distilled through a joyful expression of the self. In a perfect world, creativity and productivity get married and have children that grow swiftly into perfect works of art. As reality would have it however, the world is filled with imperfection and nothing quite falls into place as we may have planned. But don’t let that discourage you. Because art still should be as easy as pie and sometimes we just have to work harder at making it taste just right.


I’ve had some pressure placed on me lately. Perhaps you know the feeling? Of course I’m not talking about stone upon stone at a Salem witch trial, but sometimes it sure can feel like that. It’s not always deadlines and roadblocks that infect us with the silent bully called stress. Life, misunderstandings, superiority complexes and even a botched order can take the steam out of our creative drive. What do you do though, when it’s the people around you - your colleagues, friends, associates, workers, employers, superiors, and or minions? How do we change that sour pudding into sweet frosting that inspires us to create?


There are no simple answers to the upsets of our daily functions as artists. Each story shares its own unique perspective that is dowsed in personal experience. The only commonality is that negativity in whatever form it rears its ridiculous head will undoubtedly lay waste to your motivation and enthusiasm. I’ve seen it be enough to completely deflate the will of the most powerful artists while inflating the egos of the perpetrators. One thing I do know is... the human ego is fragile in every form, no matter how hard we try to not allow the ego to control us.


So how do we stop this needless suffering?


We accept life, the self and let go of the ego. We look inside ourselves and accept responsibility for our actions defeats and shortcomings. We decide that we won’t provide fodder to the starving wolves that feed upon our failures. We stand strong and decide that we will do the best we can. We express ourselves through our art by taking the deleterious words, actions and deeds around us and simply ignore them. D you know that story about “which one you feed will be the one that wins”? Fill your life with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion and you will find that creating art can be as easy as pie.


So when life burdens you and affects your art: stop, breath and let go of thought.  And if all else fails, eat some homemade pie. (It couldn’t hurt).


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, teacher, marketing director and free thinker experiencing life in one of the most inspiring and picturesque places on earth with his fabulous wife and children.

I’ve had an eventful and spectacular past few weeks/months. You may have even noticed this due to the tumbleweeds and dust blowing around this blog. The fact is, I’ve been busy designing catalogs, ads and posters for the Arts Center while getting extra creative before my wedding this past weekend. Which brings me to the title of this blog – It’s a Wonderful Life


I’ve spent a lot of time discussing the beauty of Sedona and the remarkable inspiration we find here. We all know that the natural surrounding environment is conducive to creative genius by default. The fact however, is that there’s beauty in everything - everywhere you look. Creativity shouldn’t be restricted to fantastical scenery or the emotional state of our imaginative moods. Beauty also doesn’t have to be anything pristine or perfect. I find beauty in the natural decay of a cactus along a trail. I can see miraculous inspiration within emotional upheavals that motivate us to express ourselves contrarily. The world is full of creative possibilities and inspiration – we just have to be open to accept it.


There is contrast in every corner of our lives. The dark and the light as they say, play a prominent role in everything we do. Our inventiveness shouldn’t’ be limited to just simple aesthetic pleasure. Our art should make a statement about who or what we experience throughout life. Sometimes art isn’t pretty (I’ve heard that a thousand times), but does it have to be? Is it supposed to be? Art is an expression of the soul and sometimes the soul is jam-packed with darkness. Our life experiences aren’t sugarcoated; therefore we shouldn’t sugarcoat our art (unless you’re a pastry chef of course).


The definition of art has been debated for centuries (no, seriously, it has – look it up), but for most it’s subjective. In a nutshell, art in its oldest Latin form roughly translates to “skill” or “craft.” The word art can describe several things but it’s our own unique expression that defines it most perfectly. For most of us, art is an “expression” of who we are at the moment of its creation. We skillfully transform the materials of this world to share our inner soul with the world. The truth is, art is not always “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects…” as the Encyclopedia Britannica suggests. Sometimes art is simply an experience.


Life is beautiful. It’s filled with joy, hate, laughter, tears, and love. We gain; we lose and find poverty residing next to abundance wherever we look. There is no good or evil, there is only experience. There are ideals and wishes, splattered with reality and hope. Our nature is questionable at times and valiant at others. Regardless of the rights or wrongs you see in this world, the natural wonder of it all is truly beautiful. Within this beauty we are able to define ourselves and allow others to experience our expressions by way of our art.


My point behind all this is very simple. It’s a wonderful life. Enjoy it, create in it, play in it and find happiness in all that you do. Allow all of life (the good and the bad alike) to help shape the world around you. Accept that not everything will always turn out as perfect as my wedding did and life will be as easy as pie. Remember to: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

sac_blogThere’s no doubt whatsoever, that Sedona is a beautiful place. Four million people visit Sedona each year to bask in the magnificence of the red rocks and spectacular high desert surroundings. For some, this beauty translates into a spiritual experience, while others find the tranquility a perfect escape from their busy urban lives. No matter what the reason for visiting Sedona (or living here), we all seem to want to capture it, bottle it up, and take it home. This can take form in plein air paintings, purchasing local art, or photographing it with your smartphone, tablet or DSLR.


Of course you don’t have to be a professional photographer these days, lugging equipment to your favorite spot on the trail, to capture the beauty of Sedona. This is a fantastic technological age, where practically everyone carries a camera in his or her pocket. Our smartphones entice us to explore new worlds and steal precious moments in time. As our droids and iPhones get smarter and smarter, we can take high quality images anywhere anytime. Plus, there’s no shortage of things to photograph in Sedona! And there’s no better time than the present to get out there and start.


This week the Sedona Arts Center is hosting “Sedona PhotoFest 2012” June 7 -10. So if you’re a photo enthusiast, amateur photographer or just like to snap pictures, this is your week. Thursday kicks off over six free events and almost all the workshops sold out! In fact, the only workshop with space available is Guy Tal’s “Creativity in Photography” workshop. Guy Tal is a photographer and author who believes that the practice of photography as a creative pursuit has the ability to transform and enrich your life. And I have to completely agree.


I’m one of those artist-types that feel the need to be creative on a daily basis. When I’m not writing, designing, drawing or painting, you can bet you will find me photographing something. I intend to leave no stone unturned as I create a photographic diary of my life and experiences with my family and friends. This poses a few challenges for me to overcome, such as disk space, printing and organizing. But it’s all worth it, because in the end, I have a clear and perfect ‘picture’ of the best times of my life.


So when you are on your trail or sipping a cup of Joe, be creative and capture a second or two. Just take a look at the photograph I took with my semi-smartphone. I was hiking a trail with my family when an opportunity caught my eye in the form of a fluttering little creature. I bound up to the top of a hill and took advantage of the moment. There are endless opportunities for you to take a little piece of Sedona home with you. Whether you live here or are just staying for a while… capture and share your time in beautiful Sedona.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? It also flies when you’re working on hard deadlines, major projects and when you’re just trying to catch up with life. I’ve been spending the last few weeks doing exactly that (deadlines; projects; life). When I thought it was never going to end, it was over and I realized that it felt like it had just begun. In that time I was able to complete an auction, update a website, design an entire magazine that went to print just moments ago, but I was not able to get this blog written.


Until now.

 We’ve all been there, at creative crossroads, challenged by life’s particular mysteries and objectives. I often find myself wishing I could do more while actually doing more. I want to write, draw, travel and explore the universe, but it seems that life has its way of deciding that there really isn’t time for all of that. So I found myself completing the catalog while reminding myself every day to write this blog before I finished it. But as we travel along the arrow of time, entropy gets the best of us and the world piles on more and more.


The catalog’s finished.

 I would tell you it gets easier, but that depends on how you decide to spend your time. No matter how much you may want to give yourself free time to create beautiful masterpieces that can be admired by the masses… time may not be willing to give itself up freely to you. Which gets us to thinking about time. Isn’t it subjective? What is time?


Time to me is how long it takes to finish a project; how long I have to spend with my children and the woman I love; what I have left when I’m finished; what I have to start with and what I plan to take with me when it’s all over. I can never truly have time, take time, give time or be in time. Time has me. Time has me rushing to the end of my days, quickly trying to voice my opinions, share my dreams and create joy in the precious lives around me.


Where did this blog go?

 What was I getting at? Oh yes, time. It sure flies. Don’t let time pass you by they say. But most importantly, don’t let time dictate what you can or cannot do. Time will never run out. Time will be around for at least another 5 billion years or so on this planet… but it will continue on elsewhere. In which time, you can complete your art projects, masterpieces and art blogs. Don’t be afraid to be late. It’s never too late. (Did I say that already?)


I’ll write more, sketch more and complete more paintings of nebulae. But if I have another catalog to create… I may just be late.


Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Art can be recycled, replaced, redesigned, and transform into innumerable forms by the artists who create them. Those same remarkable works of art can then find their way into a home, business, gallery, or square. And sometimes, those very same pieces will take journeys unlike any we ourselves may venture on in our lifetimes. We’ve heard that every work of art has a story behind it, but we often overlook the tale of the art’s voyage from artist, to collector, to storage, to rediscovery. Art has the incredible ability to change minds, hearts, and hands - simply by existing.


I myself have created works of art that have been concealed, transformed, digitized, manipulated, mashed, smashed, and even trashed. However, I’ve also produced art that has traveled across the globe, into the earth, and found its way high in the sky. Are you an art collector? Are you on the endless journey to enrich your life with beautiful creations once envisioned by some of the most intriguing minds? Where did you find your most prized collection? Where do you look for your treasures? How far would you go to procure the manifestation of someone else’s dreams?


This month marks that time of year when Sedona Arts Center collects, catalogs, and assigns lot numbers to those spectacular works of art that journey from one place to the next. This year, mystery is the name of the game for some pieces that were hidden away in private collections. Take for instance a certain Tiepolo that appears to have traveled across the country over the past three decades or more. The piece bears a striking resemblance to an authentic sketch on display in museums by masters, however the authenticity is questionable, or unknown at this time. Is this a hidden treasure? Can this be a lost work similar to a Picasso that was acquired a few years back at a garage sale for $2?


There is a secret life to art that remains lost in some cases, and rarely explored in others. A simple sketch that was once displayed in a long forgotten gallery in New York may have toured the globe for decades longer than we will ever know. Imagine the ghosts that are married to its expedition through time. Was this art party to secret plots and elegant rendezvous; or did it slip quietly through the years in silence, hidden in a damp dirt basement? Now that it has found its way to the auction block, what will it know next? What story could it tell in the years to come?


The art in our lives not only tell us stories of life; they experience existence with us. Our souls are collected and delivered through every sculpture and painting we pass along through time. Art has meaning and interpretations that are known to the admirer that can also be shared, transferred, and passed on to the next bearer. We are merely couriers, passing along history while stroking our egos and our imaginations.


Take the time to explore the art in your life. Journey with your collections and find the mystery behind every piece you hold close to your heart. Allow yourself to fall deeply in love with a painting, or madly enraged by a photograph. Let your expressions be known by the art, as if it were alive, breathing, listening, and feeling every ounce of you. You never know where that art will turn up, or who’s story it will become a part of next. But for now, know your art and the secret life that your art knows.


You can collect a piece of art that’s traveled near and far on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at the Sedona Fine Art Auction (SFAA). Over 25 Live Auction pieces and more than 80 Silent Auction works are searching for homes in this fund-raising benefit for the Arts Center. The SFAA benefits the educational programming and ongoing mission throughout the year at Northern Arizona’s oldest nonprofit Arts Institution. This prestigious auction will feature works from Arizona’s finest artists and award winning plein air artists from across the country. All auction items will be on display starting Wednesday, May 2nd through 5th from 10am – 5pm prior to the close of the Silent Auction at 3:30pm Saturday, May 5th. The exciting Live Auction begins at 4pm on Saturday May 5th at the Sedona Arts Center, 15 Art Barn Rd, Uptown Sedona. You can preview the art online at or call 928.282.3809 for more information. The Auction is Free to the Public.

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

Have you ever noticed that art sometimes mutates right before our very eyes? We’ve seen art recycled, replaced, redesigned and transformed into countless forms. From sculptures that come alive, to drawings that become digital animations our art can be anything we want it to be. I, for instance, have had a dream that transformed into a short story, which evolved into a novel that is comfortably resting as a screenplay. But there’s no telling where it will go next… a feature film? A series? The sky isn’t even the limit for some of these as we contemplate exploring new worlds in the not-to-distant future.

 I find it hard to sometimes either complete a particular work (such as a nebula painting in my kitchen that very slowly finds new stars and gas clouds appear over the course of two months now), or to be happy with the final form my art has taken. As a person, I am always evolving my process, thoughts and views to better suit the world I find myself in – so naturally, my art has to grow with me. If it doesn’t, then it’s lost in a pile of rubbish or tossed into a warm winter fire (which isn’t a bad transformation for some art). But it’s important for me to always recognize the various spaces my art can occupy. This is what helps me grow as an artist and a person.

 Too often I see artists stuck in one genre or style, aiming to please a select crowd in order to survive. Many times this happens simply to avoid being a ‘starving artist’ and to fill a particular void. For me, however, it’s a stagnation that leads to an early artist’s demise. I need variety and change to allow my creative wings to unfold. If my creations don’t come in thirty different flavors and colors, then it just doesn’t make the cut for me. But these are just the details. But life is in the details, isn’t it? We are all subject to them in one form or another and they have been reinvented a thousand times, a hundred thousand times before evolving into their perfect ends.

 My point to all of this is a suggestion: explore variety and change. If you have a great idea, then don’t let it get stuck in one form. Imagine the endless options that your dream can take. See your vision through some of these changes and allow it to evolve into its endless forms. There’s no telling what you may stumble upon in your journey. My art has been drenched in spirituality, mystery, fantasy, science and folly. What will you express through your art?

 Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.