What does Thriving Mean?

What does Thriving Mean?

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So I thought it best I should probably give a more detailed picture on what I think thriving means. Now your thriving, and my thriving are going to look very different. To each their own. Neither is better or worse, we’re all just trying to make our own joy out there.

Some of these are inspired by thing’s Ive heard on some of the other podcast’s I listen to, the actual list part of this is connected to the 100 Things by Sebastian Terry. So far I’ve only been able to think of 47 things that I really want to do in my life…. but I’ll make additions to this list as I go.

Ok So 2 things, while this is written as a list - dominated by items that dont/wont be done by the time I’m 30, I want to mention that Thriving is a feeling. It’s about feeling full in life. You aren’t bogged down with the kinds of worry around money or living situations. I’m not saying it means you’re life is perfect by any means, or that you’ve done all you have set out to do but Thriving means feeling alive. It still mean’s hustling for what you want, but not having to slog through the trenches of money issues means that hustle might be more of a run.

If you listed to episode 3, you probably heard me ask Sarah “What do you want your thirties to feel like?” Now you can replace thirties with - forties, or twenties, or 2019, or life in general. My list is like a half specific time half non specific.

Anyway - yeah so  - what do you want them to feel like? What do you enjoy right now that you want to expand on? Or is there something that has been bugging you that you’d like to address. Try and come up with three things.

For me - thats Secure, Inspired, Connected

If your interested in hearing more about my list you can listen to the podcast episode I did on it. here



Both in Money terms, and in who i am

Security - like for me the number one feeling I want to get rid of is worry connected to money. And so as you’ll notice with my goals like alot has to do with getting rid of debt and saving. I’m so tired of living paycheck to paycheck - and I mean that literally. Like having less than $30 to get you through more than a week.  And I’ll name like scarcity feels different to everyone - which is particularly connected to your socio economic status - but If I’m being real - about 80% of the people I know have no idea what living below the poverty line looks or feels like. Me and my mom call it “living skinny”. But the other side of security for me is this sense of “I know who I am” and the part i really want to pay attetion to is “I know what I want” I want my thirties to feel secure in their purpose. Like I’m not changing my plans for the future every week. But that my 30s are secure in the general direction of feeling secure - possibly even settled.



Inspired - I mean this in relation to my art, Like I am coming to terms with the fact that I like having about 3-5 projects going on at once. Like Ive got 2 main ones - The first is a series of Paintings based on my dads photos. The second is a much slower project in that right now I only have sketches and one painting that I started - its about like the desirability of trans masculinity - about coming to terms with what it means to be sexual or intimate as a trans man attracted to men - and coming to love the skin I’m in and this unconventional masculine body. Yeah so two very big - or what I envision being long term projects. But I have big goals about things I want to happen with my art in my 30s. In like new media to explore - like photography - getting into shows and just feeling that ignition around making and creating without burning out, like remembering to pace myself and not put a whole lot of pressure on myself about deadlines, like If I end up being ready for that deadline ok, great, if not, there are other shows and there is always next year - this is about sustaining my drive to make long term - I’ll know when it’s time to apply to a solo show. Until then, just make at my own pace - and under my own standards of what is or isnt good.



Connected - Maybe this is the neglected Social Aquarius in me but my 20s were like really isolated- like the further into my 20s i have gotten the less people I have around me, in terms of friends/support. It really was like 2015 when I last lived near my friends. So obviously I need to work on making more connections to people who are physically near me. I’d also like to not like just disappear from doing family things either, if that makes sense.  - ive got some big ideas about what to add to my list in terms of that priority. Like going to gallery shows and literally taking myself out to different places around the city and just experience things. Sign up for artists stuff in the area. I also want to feel more connected in a spiritual way, like taking a yoga class or a meditation something. I also have this really strong urge to go see a medium. I cant really put my finger on that one, Maybe A future episode.

By February 3rd, 2020:

  • ZERO Credit Card Debt

  • Paid off my car loan

  • Quit Cigarettes - last Cig on Wednesday October 17th, 2018

  • New Job - Finance 9-5, Nov 12, 2018.

  • 10 Oil Paintings finished

On February 3rd, 2020

  • I will be in Florence, Italy.

At some point in my Life I am going to do these things:

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Places I want to see

  • Italy - Florence, Rome, Venice

  • Athens, Greece

  • Paris

  • Berlin

  • London

  • Moscow & St. Petersburg

  • Ireland & Scotland

  • Amsterdam

  • Copenhagen

  • Egpyt

  • Tokyo

  • Bejing

  • Brazil - particularly the amazon river

  • Aztec Pyramids

  • Cape Town, S. Africa

  • Iceland

  • Alaska - but really every 50 state

  • The great Sequoia trees in N. Cali

  • Yosemite & Yellowstone

  • Antarctica and South Georgia

  • National Geographic Photo Trip

  • Artist Retreats

Things I wanna do:

  • Go on an artist retreat - be that painting or photography

  • Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant

  • Publish 100 Podcast Episodes

  • Give a commencement address

  • Own my own apartment/home/studio

  • Go camping in a place with ZERO cell Service for a week

  • Pay off my Student Loans

  • Be on NPR

  • Sell a painting for $10,000

  • Have a SOLO Art Show… in NYC

  • Go Ice Fishing

  • Run a Marathon - or maybe a half - or maybe bike - this is more about doing a race and training.

  • Grow a tree

  • Publish a book

  • Go to Burning Man

  • Go or be in the Venice Biennale, the Miami Basel Show or Frieze Art Fair (really all three)

  • Exhibit in the Rittenhouse Show & The Other Art Fair

  • Get into the AWS Annual

  • Participate in the Annual National Portrait Gallery Exhibition Show.

  • Move to Brooklyn

  • get my cards read (tarot) or see a medium

I’ll update this as I go along, adding things or marking things off from the list!

Last updated: Nov 2018

About My Supplies

Ok, so this took much longer than I expected. Apparently I have a lot to say, or its probably more that I just have quite a bit of supplies.

So for this I’m going to focus on my main stuff – aka the watercolor and pen paintings.


300lb kilimanjaro is my #1 choice

There are a lot of options when it comes to paper. I find that people tend to find a brand they feel good about and then stick with it. I’m no different. In reality there are 2 main choices when it comes to watercolor paper, Hot or Cold Press? And what weight.

9 times out of 10, I choose cold press. I find it just looks more like watercolor paper. It’s a little more textured and most certainly holds more water. I only really chose Hot Press when I know it’s mostly going to be about line work and will have very limited color. After testing quite a bit, hot press doesn’t really hold up to layering paint.

The second big choice is weight. There are two 140lb or 300lb. For me, if a painting is bigger than 8x10inches, I go for 300lb. I work in layers, like a lot of layers. And because of that I need a really durable paper. I cant have my paper get scrubby after 2 or 3 layers because often times I’ll layer 4-8 different times. So 300lb holds up better.

There are 2 brands that I gravitate towards – Arches and Kilimanjaro. Arches has a bit more texture to it. So most times I go for Kilimanjaro.

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Pencils, Pens and Ink:

I think this has a lot to do with the fact I went to architecture school but I exclusively use Alvin’s draftmatic pencils. If a painting isn’t going to use any pen then I opt for the .3mm one (yellow).


When I’m using pen I use microns – which is like an industry staple. I’ve tried a whole lot, and the reality is that I need 10000% waterproof because who wants a bleeding pen?? And truth be told if I’m going to pen a drawing it happens before the watercolor because I hate the fuzzy lines that happens when you do it post watercolor.


If I want something that has a bit more of a variation to it than the microns, I’ll use my LAMY fountain pen or my speedball quill. Both use Liquitex acrylic ink because again once it dries, its dry and not going anywhere.


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Escoda is where it's at

So around October of 2017, I decided it was time I invested in some top notch brushes. And I have pretty much using them exclusively ever since.

I got two sets of Escoda brushes. The Versatil set is synthetic, and the Reserva is Sable hair. I LOVE these brushes. The reserva set are my only ‘real’ hair brushes, and holy smokes do they hold a lot of water.

I have a ton of other brushes, that I occasionally use (below) but truth be told, Ive barely touched them since getting the escoda sets.


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My advice: get Porcelain


So I have a lot of tins, my travel set is in an American Journey tin, my master set is a converted pencil gift set that I just used double-sided tape to keep the pans in place.

But the real jewel of this section is my flower palettes. They’re made of porcelain and that matters. See for a long time, like most students I got a cheap plastic mixing tray, the problem though was if the paint sat on there too long, the plastic would stain and I could never get it back to white.

Porcelain is different, I can walk away – for days even – and just add water to my mixes that have dried and keep using them. Or I can just run it under hot water, rub it a bit with a brush, and all the color comes off and Im back to a clean fresh palette. These are like $7 on amazon for the small one, but you could easily just go to a homegoods or bed bath and beyond and get a porcelain plate.



holy S#%t i have to say about paint

Ok, so the biggest section of this whole thing… the paint.

I’ve accumulated quite a bit of paint over the last 10 years. 119 tubes to be exact – that is if you don’t count the student grade paints. I know it’s a lot. Some of them were part of ArtSnacks when I was getting that, and others were experiments with different brands.

So there are 7 brands I have in my collection: M. Graham, Daniel Smith, Qor, American Journey, Holbien, and Winsor Newton (pro and Cottman) 

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And I prefer them in that order.

And there are many reasons as to why - but that is a different (long) blog post. In short - Graham is so pigment heavy, I often pick up too much and they rewet like a dream. Qor rewets better than Daniel Smith, but I like that DS doesn’t use a synthetic binder. And to be frank, WN's quality has seriously declined in the last 10 years, like at this point I won't buy another tube from them.

Like I mentioned before I have a huge studio master palette of 119 colors but here is the condensed version of my travel palette.

Top L to R : MG Azo Yellow, MG Azo Orange, MG Pyrrol Red, MG Perm. Alizarin Crimson, MG Dox. Purple, DS Mayan Dark Blue, Qor Pthalo Blue, MG Ultra Marine, DS Prussian Green, MG Pthalo Green   Bottom L to R : MG Sap Green, DS Perelyne, Qor Green Gold, MG Nickle Quinacridone Gold, MG Burnt Sienna, MG Terra Rosa, DS Sepia, MG Titanium White, WN Lamp Black

Top L to R: MG Azo Yellow, MG Azo Orange, MG Pyrrol Red, MG Perm. Alizarin Crimson, MG Dox. Purple, DS Mayan Dark Blue, Qor Pthalo Blue, MG Ultra Marine, DS Prussian Green, MG Pthalo Green

Bottom L to R: MG Sap Green, DS Perelyne, Qor Green Gold, MG Nickle Quinacridone Gold, MG Burnt Sienna, MG Terra Rosa, DS Sepia, MG Titanium White, WN Lamp Black

So if you’re looking to upgrade your paints and don’t want to spend a fortune – those 19 colors are my suggestion.

I primarily paint from my master palette since I work in my studio most often. And just to be clear - I didn't buy all these at one time. Its an accumulation of 10 years of painting. 

Anyway let me know if you have any questions! I’m more than happy to help you find your favorite paper or brush or paints.

Most of the products listed here can be found on this Amazon List, except for Kilimanjaro paper that’s only sold at Cheapjoes.com

April/May 2018 Update

Oh goodness, so I meant to start regularly updating this section of this site in January, but well, life. Anyway, lots happening at the moment, I just wrapped up a show in New Hope PA as part of the New Hope Artist League. And now I'm working on a bunch of pieces - 13 in total - for the upcoming annual show application season. 

These are the shows that I'm currently planning on applying to: Long Beach Works on Paper, PA WCS Annual Show, National WCS Annual Show, Allied Artist of America Annual Show, WC West Annual, Philadelphia Works on Paper Annual Show. The first deadline is May 5th, and the last is July 15.

So if I end up applying to all those I'll have hit my goal of 2018 of applying to 15 shows. I don't think I'll apply to so many next year, maybe just the annuals of the organisations that I belong to. Though I really want to apply to Rittenhouse next year.

With that though, I do have some other things in the works, commissions, guest writing on a art blog, etc. I also have a couple of drafts ready for this that I'll be publishing over the next few months, stuff like info on the supplies I use and all that jazz. 

Anyway I've got lots of painting to get to, so so long for now!