Behind the Sketchbook

Lana Miller Caywood

In this interview we meet Lana Miller Caywood who is an artist and maker from the USA.  She talks of how her work has evolved from large to small, from realism to abstract and from watercolour to collage to her current medium, oils.

Lana also talks of how she is motivated by the process rather than the final product and how it felt to be asked to hold a 20 year retrospective of her work.

Click to read the interview
About You

How did you get into art and making?

My grandmother was very creative. As a young woman she studied painting. She turned to the practical arts of sewing and knitting to meet the needs of her family. She was the first creative influence in my life. I enjoyed art in school and went on to earn degrees in art education.
Behind the Sketchbook
About Your Art

What art do you like to make?

This is a difficult question. Over my 40 year art career I’ve done large format watercolors, collage and oil paintings

What materials do you use?

I’m currently using oils on wood panels

How would you describe yourself?

I describe myself as an artist and maker. I am an artist who paints and a maker of clothes, quilts and knitted items.
Behind the Sketchbook

What or who inspires and influences your work?

My favorite museum to visit is the Nelson Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. I’m inspired by the brushwork of John Singer Sargent, the layering of color of Richard Diebenkorn, the shapes and lines of Henri Matisse.

How have you and your work changed over time?

My work has gone from large to small format, realism to abstract and back to a looser realism, from watercolors to collage to oils. My years of teaching lead me to become more motivated by process than final product.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

Fortunately, I can’t claim illness as an excuse but I own the others listed*

*listed examples were: lack of time, lack of money, illness, creative block, self belief, technical ability.

Your Achievements

What has been your biggest achievement/s so far? No matter how big or small?

I was asked by an art professor who had once been a student of mine to hold a twenty year retrospective of my work at the university where she taught.

How did it feel to experience this achievement?

I was very pleased to show my work but especially honored to be asked to exhibit by a former student.
Behind the Sketchbook

What difficulties, doubts or fears did you face and how did you overcome them?

I struggled with the marketing and business end of art because I simply don’t like it. I’m trying to motivate myself to do online sales using one of the many websites designed for selling art.

What or who has helped you in your journey?

My husband has been patient and supportive of my work for more than 40 years. I’ve had teachers and friends who have also been supportive over the years.

If someone could wave a magic wand and make amazing things happen for you, what would be your dream?

My dream would be a mobile studio aka camper trailer so I could travel and paint.

What is your biggest piece of advice for other artists?

Enjoy the process of making art and learn from every piece you create.

Selling & Marketing

Lots of emphasis is placed on artists finding their own unique ‘style’ & having a refined portfolio, what are your thoughts on this and how have you found yours?

I don’t think I have found my own unique style. This comes from working and experimenting with vast array of media required for teaching art to children. I never had a graduate program in art that forced me to focus on one style or media.

How do you find the business side of being an artist?

I hate it and it is my downfall. I avoid seriously marketing my work simply because I hate all the record keeping required for operating a business in the USA.
Behind the Sketchbook

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your art and finding people to buy?

Participating in art fairs and exhibiting my work locally.

Who or what helps with the business side?

I have a son that is very encouraging about online sales. I just need to follow his advice.

How did you make the transition to part/full time artist?

When we moved to my husband’s job I refused to do anything other than art to make money. At that time I did art fairs. I later returned to teaching art because the pay was better and came with benefits. Now that I’m retired I’m back to painting more but not working too hard at sales. That needs to change since the paintings are piling up.

What’s the biggest thing you have learnt from being an artist?

If making art is not a passion and something a person loves doing its no different than any other job. Making art is essential to my well being.

If you would like to see more of Lana’s work please follow this link:


united artspace the hub