How to Build a Sky


Dear Artist,

Perhaps it’s the same for you: when preparing for a show, the cohesion of it – the idea – often begins with a title. Over some weeks, I let a vibe of what I want to create as an aesthetic experience bubble up from my subconscious. If this feeling can remain unfettered by outside influences, the title will attempt to grasp a moment in time – that moment being a point on a path. To put it better, I want it to place a cairn on the path on the journey of my heart. Recently, a truck came to my house to pick up new paintings for an exhibition that will open in New York on September 8. By the time you read this, I will be tucked into a remote mountain col in British Columbia. There, under the dome of late summer, I will try to understand the meaning of my title, “How to Build a Sky.”

How to Build a Sky, 2022 Acrylic on canvas 79.5 x 109.5 inches, installed by Sara Genn (b.1972)

How to Build a Sky, 2022
Acrylic on canvas
79.5 x 109.5 inches, installed
by Sara Genn (b.1972)

When my Dad was writing these letters, he would often mention that I should join him in his joyful, altruistic and ultra-stimulating endeavour. “I am not a senior artist,” I protested. “I’m still trying to figure this all out. I do not feel that I have much to offer.” “Oh, yes you do,” he said. I can hear him as clearly as if he were perched next to me on some lichen-speckled plateau, our brushes wet. It wasn’t until he was diagnosed with a fatal disease that I found the courage to soften to his push. He had been so often right about so many things. What I already understood was that there would be much to learn from a broader inquiry into creativity, and to apply that inquiry to a writing practice in its service. It would make me a better artist and human. What I had yet to learn was how much I would be humbled and enriched by committing myself to this creative community and learning from the collective experiences and concerns of others.

After nine years of republishing my Dad’s letters and writing to you every week, this summer, something inside has begun to percolate: a feeling of wanting to make a kind of creative space for an as-yet-unknown contemplation. In painting, we know it as “paucity,” – that space or break in visual information that is as essential to the picture as any stroke. “It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things,” wrote Georgia O’Keeffe. I remember long ago, reading in a back issue of Writer’s Digest that in every great story arc, something must die in order for something else to be born.

j6kBVe9sMy intuition tells me that it is time to reappraise my own horizon. To leap towards it, even. I feel a tug, a call to make space for a mystery. I feel a change coming in my personal weather. In the infinite promise of art, it is time to evolve – to discover new ways to connect and deepen – with others, and with myself. I hope that my leap into this new space, without you each week, may also make space for you, and for your creative discoveries. “Making your unknown known is the important thing,” said Georgia, “and keeping the unknown always beyond you — catching — crystalizing your simpler clearer vision of life… that you must always keep working to grasp.”



PS: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” (Richard Bach)

“It’s my wish that I can help creative people think of new ways to be creative – to get more joy and understanding from their own unique processes.” (Robert Genn)

Meet Me at Our Spot, 2021 Acrylic on canvas 73.5 x 109.5 inches by Sara Genn

Meet Me at Our Spot, 2021
Acrylic on canvas
73.5 x 109.5 inches
by Sara Genn

Esoterica: It is with my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you that I have decided to say goodbye, for now, to you and to writing these letters. This will be my last one. I will also no longer republish my Dad’s letters on Tuesdays. The comfort and encouragement, witnessing and personal sharing that you have so generously offered us and this community are permanently etched into my soul and creative existence. On behalf of both of us, I will borrow from my Dad and say, “thank- you for your friendship.”

I will keep The Painter’s Keys website live as an archive. I will retire the mailing list. If you have a Premium Artist Listing, I will leave it here as legacy. If you would like me to remove it at any time, just email me.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anaïs Nin)

“With every gust of wind, the butterfly changes its place on the willow.” (Matsuo Basho)

Sara and Robert at Hambleton Galleries, Kelowna, BC, 2013 Stew Turcotte photo

Sara and Robert at Hambleton Galleries, Kelowna, BC, 2013.
Stew Turcotte photo.

“Art is a course in personal development that has no reliable diploma and no known end. The pursuit of art instructs in beauty as well as ugliness, fantasy as well as common sense. Art levels souls and baffles brains. Art softens pain because it is pain. Art gives joy because it is joy.” (Robert Genn)






    • Hello Sara
      Thank you for including me in your letter sending. I always enjoyed linking up with your dad and meeting you. And thanks for the info on art. It keeps me hoping to get back into it after many years of being focussed on book authoring and publishing. All to do with boating of course. And I really enjoyed seeing that classic boat your dad had.
      Best wishes to you.
      Peter Vassilopoulos.

      • Thank you, Sara, for all the courage and wisdom you have shared. It has meant a lot to me, and I have many quotes from you and your dad copied out to go back to. This last letter has been one of your most beautiful. I support you in saying goodbye and moving on because it feels necessary to you. May the longtime sun shine upon you in your journey.

  1. Thank you for keeping this going for as long as you have, Sara. It’s been a beautiful tribute to your dad and a wonderful site for artists to find meaningful discussions.
    Best wishes in your creative journey.

  2. Rebecca Skelton on

    Your continued letters have been helpful and interesting. I understand your stopping, just know that you will be missed and are appreciated.

  3. Ronda Villines on

    Dear Sara Genn
    Oh dear! – did I interpret your words correctly? Is this truly the last letter? I want to express how much I looked forward to receiving these letters via email. I am a secondary public school Art teacher in the US & these letters have given me sustenance during my school year for which I have been so very grateful. Sorry to see this practice of letter writing end – I have gained so much personally as an artist & read your inspirational words often during my lunch breaks while sitting at my desk & catching my breath from the morning classes – reading them gave me momentum to carry on for my afternoon students. Thank you!

  4. Elizabeth Peter on

    Dear Sara,
    You have enriched my approach to the creative process immensely. Thank you for taking up your father’s mission and making it your own.
    I make baskets and will be teaching meditation. Both these efforts, a creative effort.
    Thank you for your insight. Enjoy your further unfolding.

    • My heart aches.
      Your dad was incredibly inspiring, and I cried when I first heard of his illness… and I really sobbed when he died. His letters… and then yours… have been the “uppers” in my weeks.
      Your dad, of course, would never have stopped writing, but it was a mission deep in his soul. *You* have carried his torch for a long time, and I “get” that it’s time for you to move on and find your own torch to carry. I wish you the best, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping your dad’s legacy alive.

  5. Oh Sara, I will so miss your inspiring letters, and this way you chose to say good-bye was inspiring in itself. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us and keeping your dad alive through this archive. Wishing you the best of all things going forward.

  6. Laura gardiner on

    Thank you Sara, for keeping the letters going as long as you have. I have enjoyed them immensely, and I will miss both you, and your dad.
    I wish you well in your future endeavours.

    • Oh goodness Sara
      I wondered if I had misunderstood.. but no- you have decided it’s time to leave/ move on.
      I have so enjoyed your thoughts and elegant writings and the sheer effort of connecting with all of us in the tradition established by your father
      What will happen to painters keys ? Can ‘ we’ somehow keep things going
      Bye bye and all the best and continue with your elegant peaceful and very beautiful paintings

    • Sara,
      Thank you, and Bon Voyage on your flight.
      I have much appreciated finding your father’s work during a visit to BC a few months after our daughter died, and have been more impressed and touched and inspired by his writings and yours. So much heart and wisdom shared by both of you. With deepest gratitude, Susann Cate Lynn

  7. Your father, and then you, have both been sherpas on my artistic path. The rebuild of our island home is almost complete. Fry’s Fish Camp was blown away in Dorian. My art studio which was down the hill survived, and my husband was able to move a number of my original paintings to the studio during the eye of that hurricane. I’ve renamed our home “The Dreamway” as it embodies that state of mind that I have been striving for since your father first introduced me to that concept in his little green book. All the best to you, Sara. Keep it up. Kim

  8. Thank you Sara for committing to help keep your Dad’s wonderful legacy alive all these years. I will certainly miss the weekly pearls of wisdom, which have helped me so much on my personal art journey. Now I need to bravely work out how to build my own sky.

  9. Stew Turcotte on

    There are no words to quantify the inspiration and friendship that this long series of letters has provided me and so many others. It has made me aware of how wide the cosmos and how much there is to learn. This will leave a hole in our day but as nature abhors a vacuum, something else will come along. We will keep watch to see what you do in the future. Love and peace.

  10. Wow .. that is sad news for us .. your letters always inspired and reminded me of the real reasons I make art .. And you are a fabulous writer !! a poetic yet direct style .. with a unique and honest view point always …thank you for the breath of fresh air and sharing your soul with us all those letters .. good journey .. ! I like many of your fans will be cheering you on and looking forward to see what the muses will inspire in such a multi-faceted and multi-talented artist as yourself .. thank you and best wishes !

  11. Elizabeth Sue Mahy on

    A deep thank you to you and your family for you contribution to all of us with your writings. I have forwarded many of them over the years for different reasons. I also have printed many and will have them. I am glad I did that.
    The shimmer on your first piece here was deceptive, until I realized that it was one of your stylized paintings, I had thought that it was a three paneled plexiglass piece. I like the white one as well. Very sophisticated. Best of luck with the show in New York.

  12. Helen Stephenson on

    I’m so grateful for these letters and wish you well, where ever life takes you. I had started rereading your Dad’s early letters and will continue. Thanks for keeping Painters Keys up.
    Helen, New Brunswick, Canada.

  13. Thank you, Sara. What a gift you have given to us all. Your ability to put into words the creative soul is deeply appreciated, and as beautiful and moving as any seeable thing. Your words have given energy to images of our own, your turbine sending waves whose destination you, generous Sara, cannot see.

  14. Thank you Sara. As many have expressed, I too will miss these letters. I continue to refer to my copy of The Letters and feel blessed to have a copy. You have contributed to your father’s legacy in such a wonderful way. Wishing you all the best!

    • Carolyn Fourie on

      Change is the one sure thing in life. So sorry going; but with many thanks and all good wishes for your future.

  15. Oh, dear, Sara, I will miss your beautiful, inspiring letters! I am very grateful to you and your dad for sharing your insights and wisdom and paintings! May the blue sky open you to new horizons! Thank you, Sara!

  16. Adieus Dear Sara,

    I am sad to see you leave, but when it time, it is time, so good for you.

    May All in your Future enfold as it should.

    I beg of you to forgive me, for I have taken you for granted, as I did your father ( much as we tend to do with those people who are and should be most important in our our lives). I will miss the morning highlight in my email inbox.

    For many years I have saved the letters, (and his publication), to review and get to when more time, but of course Time is never enough to read an appreciate each shared pearl of wisdom for us ‘ creative types.’ Happy to know the Legacy Website remains open — a wonderful lasting gift.

    Thank you for everything.

  17. Dear Sara,

    Thank you for modeling the courage to let go. Your letters, as well as those of your dad, have served as a well of deep inspiration and reflection for me and so many others. I will miss them even as I trust the intuitive wisdom of your choice. Enjoy the free space for new creations to unfold!


    P.S. I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the opportunities you created for me to advertise the art retreats I’ve given in Mexico over the years. The postings on your site filled my retreats and swelled my email list, making it possible to connect with a number of artists in Canada. I know firsthand how Painters Keys has affected uncounted lives over the years. What a remarkable thing! Thank you!

  18. Could there be a chance of your appearing at Painters Lodge if or when they start up
    the wonderful “Painters at Painters’ sessions again? That is where this Genn dependency
    began many years ago. Merci et bon voyage, Sara.

  19. Pauline A Conn on

    This makes me sad. I will miss you and this space, where I have been now for many many years. Good luck and happy creating! Thank you for what you’ve done here.

  20. I am so sad to hear this. AND I understand. I wish you well as you explore further afield. May you experience joy and delight and wonder daily just as you have made so many of us feel the same. Thank you for the gifts you have shared with us. It’s been so enriching for me on my artistic journey.

  21. Thank you for continuing to publish this newsletter for all these years Sara.

    All the best in whatever comes next for you.

  22. Oh Sara! You have indeed caught me by surprise. I truly do understand your decision and yet it is unexpected. I wish you all the best with your new horizons and to all in this community I have shared these twice weekly art letters and comments. May our futures be filled with more than we think is creatively possible. Take good care and all the best from a small rural island on the southwest coast of Canada. Terrill :)

  23. OMG…reading your beautiful post, i knew that goodbye was coming. :- (

    Thank you thank you thank you for years of inspiration and thought-provoking writing.

    I know we all wish you the very best, and will continue to dip into the website and your own postings about your own career (I *love* your sky paintings.)

    Much love and success to you, Sara,

    Joan I.

  24. Jeff Heintzman on

    Add my deepest gratitude to this long list. I am indebted to you and your father and will miss these letters hard

  25. I’m sorry to hear it. I’ve really enjoyed this column. All of the issues you address — how to grow as an artist, develop a style, change over time — interest me as I try to find my way as a painter after 17 years of trying! Thanks!

  26. I cannot say how much your letters have meant to me. I am 85years old. Your letters have been my life line for many years. A humble thank you for your goodness.

  27. Dear Sarah, I have enjoyed reading these letters over the years and am grateful to all that you and your dad put into them. It is a hard decision to give ourselves permission to make space to allow room to evolve, experiment and experience. All the best to you! You have created a world of cheerleaders walking this path with you.

  28. Thanks for keeping this going as long as you have. Your Dad would thank you for all you have done and I think I speak for everyone when I say, I have really appreciated your letters.
    I will miss you!

  29. You are fabulous in every way, I’m forever grateful for you, your letters, your inspiration. Thank you Sara.

  30. Edith G Hicks on

    I am sad to see you go, but all good things do come to an end. Love you Sara my the rest of your journey be blessed and thank you for the work you have done!

  31. Thanks so much Sara, your sincere thoughts and inspiration will be missed.
    The sky is the limit so go for it. Cheers, Lynda

  32. The best to you as you continue your creative journey. I’ve enjoyed both your Dad’s and your words of inspiration . I feel rather sad as I have been taking from you both for so long and haven’t given back.. it will be my mission to work more at my art and stay inspired by your knowledge. Thank you so much. Patricia

  33. Marina Joyce on

    Thank you Sara! I will miss your voice and POV.

    May the road rise up to meet you.

    May the wind be always at your back.

    May the sun shine warm upon your face;

    the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

    may God hold you in the palm of Her hand.

    —Irish Blessing

  34. Thank you Sara for all the beautiful letters and reposts of your Father’s letters. Like many, I understand you wanting to pursue other artistic endeavours. I wish you much success! You will be missed by many. Again thank you!

  35. Peggy Fischbeck on

    Your words and those of your father have been inspiration – to me and to my fellow artists with whom I frequently share the articles. There was often a sense of relief when we recognized we all shared common struggles, a sense of discovery when a phrase, a sentence or a complete article opened our eyes to a new way of looking. Understanding that growth often takes place in a time of introspection or isolation, we are excited for you. Much like saying goodbye to a good friend who is moving, we are happy for you and all the new things you will discover, but we know that we will miss these frequent discussions.

  36. Thank you Sarah!

    Your writing, like your father’s before you, has always inspired me to become a better artist. You will be dearly missed. Yet endings are a part of life. I look forward to seeing where your new beginnings take you!

    Enjoy your journey!


  37. “Knowing” you and your dad has been a treasured gift. Thank you for your years of dedication to all of us. Your generous heart and lovely writing will be sorely missed. May the next chapter in your book of life be everything you hope it will be. Fly away dear butterfly.

  38. Elizabeth Shattuck on

    The happiest of trails to you! Onward, pilgrim! And thank you for all you have done for us! I am so grateful to know “painters keys”, to have been introduced to your father’s letters, and your offerings and insights as well. I’ve learned a lot from his wisdom and your reflections. Blessings to you! Elizabeth

  39. My best wishes to you as you continue on your adventure! Thank you for all the time and caring you have given to us. I will have to figure out how to get myself to the website regularly, for I know there are so many posts that I haven’t read yet. Have fun! – Betty

  40. Your writings have inspired me to continue on the mysterious path of unknown discoveries. I find they were like getting a phone call each week from a friendly counselor. Your words inspire, reflect and plunge one into looking deeper into the creative abyss. One must move on and become our own independent guide as you so often advised. Each of us has our own peculiar or destined path to follow. May yours continue to grow and flourish. Thanks for the guidelines and wishing you years and years of success and happiness in all your endeavors.

  41. Best wishes to you in the future as you start your new explorations! Thank you so much for writing and sharing your thoughts and your fathers for all these years.

  42. Catherine Farrar on

    I came late to your letters and missed your father altogether but rereading some of his posts and eagerly opening the new ones from you became a weekly highlight. You’ve kept the excitement going for me and addressed our common issues intelligently and engagingly. I love the illustrations and quotes you chose and I’m very sorry to see you go. My best to you in your new spaces.


  43. Sara, I don’t have the words to express my sense of loss right now. But your words and those of your Dad’s raised your newsletters to an exalted standard of prose, both with your creative vocabularies and turns of phrases, not least of all a wickedly funny sense of humor and dry wit. I don’t know of any other art newsletter where art history was made alive and current for today’s living. Sara, best wishes to you and your successful art career–may they both soar!

  44. I will so miss the letters from you Dad as well as from you. I have enjoyed them and learned from them for many years. I wish you happiness and joy and success on you quest and your journey .

  45. Good luck, Sara. It was a pleasure knowing your dad and it has been a pleasure to see you continue his legacy. I look forward to the day that you publish a book. :)

  46. Thank you for these wonderful years of art inspiration. Your Dad was right — you did have something to say! And I have been one of many beneficiaries. Best wishes to you wherever you heart takes you.

  47. You, Sara, and your Dad, Robert, gave me such a boost as I started this artistic journey with its spirals, twists and turns. I am forever grateful for the wise words these posts gave all of us!

  48. Thank You Sara!!
    For all of the spirits that you shared of your own ways and those of your father’s!
    It is with great joy and appreciation that I wish you the brightest and zippy adventures as you continue onward!

    Much Love to you and all!

  49. Joan Lippman on

    Oh dear friend, we will miss your weekly meanderings in our home…such delight always! We love you…appreciate you…respect you with all our hearts! And, when we hopefully get back to LOH next month, we shall walk in your footsteps and smile thinking of our times there with you and your dad. Sending you and Peter warm hugs and happiness wishes always!

  50. Shirley Sarens on

    Thanks for all of the enjoyment and insight you brought to us. This is your season to fly …. Wishing you wonderful wings. ..

  51. Oh Sara!
    I wish you well on your journey! I hope you will continue to share your gifts with your fellow creative community. You have so honored your Fathers’ legacy. I miss him and his joy and wisdom. I am grateful for his books of letters and paintings. I am grateful for small but important, amount of time I was able to spend with him and you.
    Thank you for your words, your music ,and glorious paintings . They will continue to be an inspiration for me.
    Sending you off with love and gratitude!

  52. I’m truly sad to hear this. Your newsletter has been inspirational and one of the few emails I really read every single time. You don’t realize how many people you have inspired with your emails. Thanks so much for everything you have done to inspire others.

  53. A sad day for me – but thanks so much Sara for your lovely efforts and keeping you dad’s insights coming. Best wishes on your new journey!

  54. I am so sorry to see this end. These letters have journeyed with me throughout my artist journey and provided endless encouragement and support. I’m not quite sure how I’ll to without them.

    Thank you for continuing your father’s legacy which is so needed in this artistic world, and I hope you find your way back here again.

  55. Yes, I will miss your letters – and your dad’s. In both there was an understanding of art as a whole, not just the esoteric comments about how to paint, but the principles and feelings behind taking practice and making it your own. And I will never forget your understanding about how some of us older artists just now hitting our stride are, in fact, dealing with the hand that we were dealt through life and surviving/thriving anyway. Gave me courage in some dark times, and recognition in the lighter ones.

  56. Sara, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and continuing yours Dad’s legacy. I’ve looked forward to your letters each week and have learned much. Your newsletter had been excellently written, filled with on target observations and wisdom. I will miss hearing from you weekly and wish you the very best in your future pursuits. The precious gift you and Robert have generously given these years is priceless.

  57. Thank you so much for the wisdom in words and imagery you have shared. I have been enriched as an artist and a person by your beautiful thoughts- and the hard work and time I have not seen but know this endeavor has cost you. And thank you for keeping it as an archive. I only became acquainted with Painters Keys within the last year and must now make myself a weekly appointment to find all the wisdom I have yet to discover from the archive. I will miss you but I expect we shall all see a wonderful future for you.

  58. Dearest Sara,

    Thank you from the depths of my soul heart for your devotion, dedication and commitment to your dad, art and all of us artists. You will be missed dearly! I applaud you for your courage all these years, especially sharing the passage and stories of your beloved mother and father, and for you embracing mystery as your next journey. Huzzah!

    So grateful for everything. And for keeping the archives of all the letters!

    Much love to you. ❤️

  59. Dear Sara,
    You and your dad have brightened my days and taught me many things over the years. I will miss you both, but I THANK YOU! for your collective wisdom. I understand your need to go, now, and fulfill your own life’s dreams! Much success to you and may we see more of you in the future.

  60. Dear Sara,
    This is very sad news and also inspirational at the same time. I have been reading and learning from these letters for many years, always looked forward to them, and discussed them with friends. I was devastated when I read Roberts letter announcing his horrible news, and I miss him. I will miss you. Thank you and Robert for offering such a positive force for many years to so many artists. I wish you best of luck, success, and happiness in your new endeavors.

  61. I have known that this moment had to come, Sara. I wish you all best on your voyage. And that whatever it takes you will succeed as I know you will. Thank you for the weeks, months and years of insite and pleasure.
    My very best wishes,
    Charlie Spratt

  62. I am filled with gratitude to you for reposting your father’s letters and for adding your own, so beautifully written. I will miss them dearly but respect your decision and wish you well. I want to lament like the green monster at the end of Juste pour Rire….It’s overrrrrrr!!

  63. Thank you Sara for your positive, productive contribution, success is knowing that your contribution is what helps others this is only truly live.
    Life is not accumulation, it is about contribution. Stephen Covey


    Dear Sara,

    I’m sad to know that this is the last letter. But I understand. Thank you so much for everything. Thanks for sharing with us not only your dad’s letters and his work but also a part of your life. It’s been an oasis of wisdom and inspiration, of love and beauty. I wish you the best.

  65. Kenneth Kant on

    Thanks for bringing your father and you to us. You have made it a good and thoughtful experience for us. No question that you will be missed each week. I hope your new endeavor will be successful in every way imaginable. Paint on!

  66. Katy Ann Davidson on

    Thank you , dear Sara, for all the ‘love’ letters to art you have shared over the years. Wishing you a beautiful blossoming ahead. Katyann x

  67. Awww, end of an Era… I thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing your Dads legacy in this form for as long as you have. I was just reflecting on the time I first started to feel empowered enough to call myself an artist, in great part to receiving my first ever art newsletter from your Dad in my newly acquired email box.
    A lot has transpired since then, and in the same leaps and bounds, so has my appreciation for you and this community.
    Good luck in all your future endeavors, Big hugs hugs, Jeanine Brown

  68. Sara, thank you for sharing your and your father’s insights on life/art over all these years. I may be one of your earliest subscribers and will surely miss them. They’ve been guideposts along my path from a previous hiker no doubt on a more professional path. Nevertheless, I did watch out for the monotonous shapes ahead, and by all means avoided the dead colors around the bend, as well as the alligator cliff and meatball rocks. Thank you also for letting go when you needed to, and for moving on to find your own path. These nay be the hardest lessons to learn. Wishing you fulfillment and joy in your work and in your life as well. With gratitude,

  69. I found The Painters Keys just a few months ago, and I will sorely miss reading it twice a week. I’m very grateful for the wisdom and personality you’ve shared with readers, and that I have been able to mull over and process for myself. The best of everything to you in art and life. Many thanks.

  70. Thank you, these letters have been an emotional art lifeline for me for years now…. a mentor in the vast internet that has been grounding and instructive. Best of luck on your new shift- and thank you for so eloquently letting us know of this new chapter.


  71. Thank you for your letters and for republishing those of your father, an artist and human being who was tremendously inspiring. Best of luck in your future life. While exploration does not always result in finite discovery, it is rare that along the way, no excitement of learning and enrichment of life experience is not encountered.

  72. As you can see, there are many of us who have enjoyed your writings and appreciated your continued emails. Thank you for enlightening us. Best wishes as you go forward. You will be missed.

  73. I am excited for you. I know that you will build the most amazing sky and you will fill it with new treasures – of light and love and artistic brilliance . Perhaps one day I will be asking you to sign a new book – one written by you and overflowing with your art and your art discoveries . Perhaps there will be some of your own letters in that book – ones that filled these pages and inspired us all. Wishing you every success in all of your future endeavours .

  74. Lisa Harrison on

    Godspeed, dear Sara, and God bless you. Thank you for carrying on your fathers legacy for so many years. I have enjoyed all the insights and antidotes. I’m grieving the loss of Genn camaraderie already. Change is upon us all. May we go forth into our future with thoughtfulness and care, as you are.

  75. I am sad to see this is your last letter, but I am also excited for your new adventures. May your wings carry you to wonderful places and may you find your answers to building a sky. Thank you for all the years of wisdom and for your father for the years before that. Love the pictures of the two of you. Xo

  76. Thank you so much for the time and effort you have poured out on this website. It has blessed me immensely and there are no words adequate to my gratitude.

  77. Forever Grateful to you, your dad, these letters and artist community. The painter’s keys have opened the door to creativity for me and so many.
    The sky’s the limit? Not when you are an artist. May there be no limit in building your sky Sara.
    Happy journeys and contemplations ahead! ❤️❤️❤️

  78. Diane McCarten on

    Thank you so much for all that you and your late Dad have shared over the years through Painters Keys.
    Wishing you all the best with your show in September and always. Thanks again Sara.

  79. Dear Sara:
    After reading the volume of replies to your announcement and the declarations of thanks and expressions of loss resulting from it, there really is not much left for me to say. However, I would like you to know that ever since my friend, Marilyn Lightstone, recommended your dad’s newsletter to me, over 20 years ago, I have paid that gift forward to my students and friends whenever the content was meaningful and relevant.
    Both you and your father have created springboards for thinking and doing that are invaluable. Making the decision to leave something you love behind has to have been a difficult one. We may all perceive that we are experiencing a loss, but we need to reflect on how much we have gained. We can all, including you, build on the experiences we have shared through your and your father’s reflections and wish you well in your quest to fulfill your own dreams.

  80. Sheilah Wilcynski on

    Dear Sara,
    All good things must end, but still I am greatly saddened to know there won’t be a letter from you waiting in my inbox each week. You have inspired and informed me in so many ways, as your Dad did before you. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world, and blessings on you as you venture out in new directions . You will be greatly missed. Wishing you love and joy wherever you may go, in everything you do.

  81. Valerie Wallace on

    Thank you Sara, your and your father’s letters have been so inspirational. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors.

  82. I liked that you said, “for now”, in your context:  “… I have decided to say goodbye, for now, to you and to writing these letters.”
           I looked up and read the lyrics of Andrew Gold’s song that was
    used as the theme for the tv series, the Golden Girls.  It could be the background music playing for today’s comments.
    Here’s your verse:
    No need to think or say, the end, 
    For when we meet above your sky, 
    I’ll repeat, “You deserved your high,
    That space to dream and so to fly!”
    And once again, add with a grin, 
    Thank you, for being a friend.”

  83. Janice Hanson on

    Oh Sara

    I am feeling the same sorrow I felt when learning of your father’s illness. I have printed out so many of your and your father’s letters for my “reference” files, as well as purchasing the books of your father’s letters. They have all been so inspiring.. I hope you will keep this website going so that we can reread what has been published. You have been amazing in keeping this journey going for us all.

    All my best wishes for you and your art…Janice

  84. The sentiments of those who have commented echo from my heart and soul as well. Many thanks Sara -i’m excited for you and wish you all the best.

  85. John Ippolito on

    I will sorely miss two reliably enriching highlights each and every week. And thank you for keeping the archives available…..
    Enjoy the journey

  86. Carlene Fullerton on

    Dear Sara,
    I am so sorry not to have these letter appear in my inbox. I love both your and your dad’s letters. They inspired me.
    But, I do understand why you have to do other things…I , my self, am on a journey to understand my dear love’s death and what needs to be done. Plus I am also not sure how much time I have left myself. Wishing you the best always.
    Sending support from St. Louis, MO.

  87. Evan Williams on

    Thanks Sara. I deeply appreciate all the ideas, insight and inspiration that you and your Dad have generously shared with this community over the years. Such a gift. With much admiration and respect from New Zealand.

  88. Dearest Sara thank you for continuing on with your dads letterscsll these years since his passing I’m still saddened by his passing as other Have lived him through these letters. I will really miss you and you words. You are an amazing young women and I hope to still see your posting and art through media somehow
    Enjoy your peaceful time in BC If you ever come back to keliwna please email me us live to have a coffee visit with you
    Your friend
    Elizabeth Christie.

  89. Ruth Rutledge on

    I will miss these weekly writings from you and from your dad. You have given me always something to think about and often I have shared it with friends.. I wish you heaps of good wishes for a very bright future!

  90. glenda adkinson on

    Your inspiration continues beyond. Grateful for your sharing, your perspectives, your regularity, etc. I ventured to a Houston gallery to see your s work “up close.” Thanks for being on my journey! The FORCE is with you!

  91. Dear Sara
    I’ve never posted before but felt on your last post I should express my thanks for all you and your Dad contributed. Often you have solved problems that loomed large or shared common journeys along the art path. When your Dad passed away I felt what a terrible loss. I especially loved your email about your Mum and her life and how close you were and it reminded me so much of my own Mum and the grief felt losing her. Thankyou Sara and I wish you long life and every happiness and success on your own art journey.

  92. A confession: I have not opened your email for months, probably over a year. This morn, I happened to open this one and find it is the last. Oh my. I am sorry for myself I have been amiss. But happy for you, Sara, that life is changing, that you are moving away from this big commitment. Your dad’s letters, his book, will be always a treasure near at hand. He was something, so good, so generous. His words and thoughts live on.

  93. “It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things,” wrote Georgia O’Keeffe.

    You and your Dad have been with every step of the way in my creative practice, especially in teaching. Thank you.

  94. Peggy Gaizauskas on

    Sara, peace to you. Thank you for the time out of your life that you have given to artists. I miss your father, and now I will miss you.. In your last letter to us you have left a happy blue sky over all of the artists of the world.

  95. Thank-you.. thank-you dear Sara….. so much gratitude to you and to your Dad!! I’ve deeply appreciated these letters over time…food for the soul…. may you soar in the great sky of your life and your Art!!

    The Flute of Interior Time

    The Flute of interior time is played
    Whether we hear it or not
    What we mean by love is
    it’s sound coming in
    When love reaches the farthest
    edge of excess, it reaches a wisdom
    And the fragrance of that
    It penetrates our thick bodies,
    It goes through walls-
    Its network of notes has a
    Structure as if a million suns
    were arranged inside.
    This tune has truth in it
    Where else have you heard a
    Sound like this?


  96. Thank you Sara, for the incredible amount of effort you have devoted to continuing publishing your Dad’s letters and writing your own beautiful contributions. Good luck for your future endeavours!

  97. Thank you to you and your father for this gift of inspiration and deep thoughts over these many years. You picked up his thread and carried it so beautifully. You are an artist AND a gifted writer and thinker, just as he was, but in your own way. Bravo to you for seeking your own path now and choosing to move forward. We appreciate that you are leaving the archive behind for us to treasure and go back to. I applaud your decision to end this journey, and wish you the most wonderful future in whatever sparks your creative life.

  98. Best wishes on your creative journey. And thank you for helping me with mine. I feel your dad would be/is so proud of you. You are wise to make space for your creative expansion. One door closes and another opens. How can we follow you on your creative journey? Perhaps a post from you now and then? Stay well and open.

  99. Oh my goodness me, I’m sad but so understand your need to move on. I have always marveled on how you have come up with such meaningful substance week and week, like you father before you. You have both been such wonderful companions on the creative journey through The Painter’s Keys, and so very, very generous to us all. I, too, shall miss you but will visit the archives often to get my fix, as every essay provides a fresh gem with each new reading.
    Be well, soar high, go deep. You are loved.

  100. Dear Sara: Thanks so much for your legacy. It was great to follow your art adventure as well as your dad’s. Both of you will be missed.

    All the best with your show,

  101. Sara, this is sad news for so many of us who have read Painter’s Keys over the years. But I totally understand the need for you to move on. I have marveled at your ability to share your wonderful weekly letters with us. You gave selflessly as your father did and then you shared him with us again. I have followed you both over the years and I will sorely miss your insight and wisdom. But I am so grateful that we can access these letters through your achives. All the best to you Sara.

  102. Sara, wishing you the best in the next chapter of your artistic journey. Thank you for the time you gave to writing and sending your letters on Fridays and resending your father’s letters on Tuesdays all these years.–Laura

  103. Rennie, White Rock, BC on

    Sara, big thanks to your Dad, and to you! for keeping the words and letters flowing. They have been much appreciated throughout these years.

    I applaud you for this decision to put the time into self and wish you the very best as you forge on into your future.
    You will be missed in my inbox

  104. Darrell Joan Tomkins on

    Thank you, Sara, for the years you have given to carrying on the wonderful letters from Robert and yourself. Many are printed out as inspirations the hang on my easel. I so appreciate that you will keep Painters Keys website with the archive of all the letters. I will miss receiving them.

  105. Lesley Brereton on

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have given us. I have had so many a-ha moments reading yours and your father’s beautifully crafted words over the years and have marvelled on a weekly basis how you are able to put into words things that seem so complex and give them such clarity! And not only that, but to always come up with an interesting topic to write about. What a talent you are on so many levels. I am feeling a great sense of loss and have shed a few tears at your news but I really do wish you all the very best and I hope you will continue to write as well as paint. Love and gratitude from Cheshire, UK

  106. Awe Sara, I’m like everyone else here saying nooooooooo. I get it, though, these letters never had a “ just wing it “ vibe. You put so much into keeping your dads legacy alive, along with broadening your own. Your writing is exceptional, as is your art I hate good byes. I will check the lands of WWW to see how you are doing. In this new world of connectivity we don’t have to say good bye. Best of luck and joy to you, and always THANK YOU!!!

  107. Sara, thank you also for your friendship. You and your dad have been a treasured inspiration, best wishes for your future. “Yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream. Let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing” (Kahlil Gibran)

  108. Sara,

    I will miss your letters very much. I have
    Recommended them to so many people
    and they have enjoyed too.

    Thank you for the inspirations.

  109. Sheri Deibert on

    I have learned, grown and progressed with these inspiring letters. I will miss them. Joy to you in your next stage of discovery! Sheri

  110. My best wishes to you Sara, as your journey changes and moves toward new discoveries that await. It has been a delight to get to know you through these letters that you’ve continued to write and distribute. They’ve been filled with kindness, curiosity, clarity and gentleness. Thank you for keeping your father’s legacy alive and for modeling what it is to follow your inner guidance and passion! Again, best wishes with gratefulness that our paths crossed–for the short time they have.

  111. I’m so sad to hear that you’re moving on, Sara, but wish you all the very best for continued success. Reading about your decision reminds me of some of the sentiments you expressed in your letter “How to get to Ullapool” which was one my favourites of yours. I was someone who “discovered” your father’s letters relatively late, less than a year before he wrote “The Bomb” to tell his readers of his diagnosis. That letter brought me to tears. I feel I’ve learned so much from you both, not only about art but about life…and for that I am grateful. Thank you.

  112. So often I received your words, or those rekindled of your Dad, that arrived at the most perfect time so that they resonated with me deeply. Thank you, Sara for your commitment. I have a signed copy of your Dad’s book of letters and it is one of my most treasured possessions. Suzanna, New South Wales, Australia.

  113. Sara … I add my voice to the very many . I read your dad’s blogs for many years, and was very sad to learn of his passing, and was very grateful to have you take up the rains, and do such an incredible job. Now it seems as I must be saddened again as you leave us. Thank you so much for all your time and effort. May your next journey be full of blessings.

  114. Now you know I did read these newsletters to the bitter end. That’s where I read this was the last one. Thank you for sharing your gems of wisdom. Wishing you both endless new adventures. Judy

  115. I really enjoy your letters, and your dad’s, if this is really the last one, I will truly miss them, hope I am misunderstanding this last latter… wish you the best in your new journey…

  116. Jan Morrison on

    Oh Phooey! Why’d you have to go and do that! I love your letters and being deprived of them is a terrible ask. Sure I know “everything has a beginning, middle and end etc…” but I need you!
    Well go on then. I gotta long without ya before I met ya. I’ll get along without ya now.
    But really? Do you hafta?
    Be well, be happy, be safe, live with ease.
    Big love

  117. Reita Walker Miller on

    Thank you for all you’ve given to each of us through your writing and your reflections on your father’s writing. Best wishes on all your new endeavors. You will be missed!
    Reita Miller
    Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

  118. I am crying now but the tears are for all the wonderful truths and insights that I have come to depend on…all the reminders and the minders and the little blossoms of wisdom that –as you and her dad always said –can bubble up from one’s subconscious. We will miss these pearls and we will miss the very human touch of both you and your dad’s spirits.
    We are truly grateful!!!!

    • Oh Sara … a friend introduced me to your father’s letters years ago and they became a part of my life. Then, you continued to not only post past letters but added your own voice. You have been like a dear friend and I will miss you. I have also been awed by your writing and the sharing of your exploration of this world of painting and art. I live on a little mountain in North Carolina and mostly work alone … your “voice” has given me a confidant and companion on this journey of discovery and expression. Thank you so very much for adding to my life.

  119. Hi Sara,

    Of course, I’m saddened that I won’t be hearing from you again, but, at the same time, I understand the need to move on from time to time and try something new. It is a brave move and I hope it works out for you.

    A thread that exists in everything you write is your love for your mother and father, and the things you did together. I’ve always believed that family bonding sets us on a good path to get started in life.

    I received, as a gift, a copy of Robert’s LETTERS book. That was many years ago and, although I took my time to get through it, I did finish. The closed book shows a myriad of those non-destructive page markers for sentences and paragraphs in his writing that hit home for me.

    All the best in your new adventure. I trust the art you create in your new adventure will appear somewhere where I can find it.

    Jack Blair

  120. Joan Polishook on

    Dear Sara,
    Indeed you shall be missed but news doors surely will be opened as you proceed on your newest adventure. It has been a wonderful experience all these years sharing art news, and so much valuable, inspiring and helpful information in your’s and your Dad’s letters. Thank you and good luck. May you find fulfilling sunny days and world of happiness under Blue Skies.
    Joan Polishook, Fine Artist

  121. Many blessings to you as you head towards new horizons <3 Thank you to you and your father for this deep well of wisdom, understanding, caring and spiritual nourishment we’ve been able to draw on for so long. You will both be cherished and missed!

  122. Dear Sara,

    Just as your father’s words have been, and still are, an inspiration, so are you; just as your father’s words live on, so do yours, as well as those who’ve responded over the years. Thank you for taking on this journey, both to honor your father and to explore/find yourself – you have done so in a way that has benefited so many on the same journey, myself included. Your words and exploration have been a gift. Lest I forget, though your mother was much in the background, I am certain that she, too, is a significant piece of the blueprint that is the essence of you. Again, thank you.

    I am so pleased that you can take this next step. I’m in my early 70’s and finding myself doing much the same – not an easy choice, necessarily, but necessary – one which I welcome (though with some trepidation, to be honest) for the sense of possibilities, both for myself and, by extension, for my work.

    I will be following you, and vicariously enjoying and celebrating your growth as a unique, gifted woman and artist. You will succeed.


  123. Dear Sara, Thank you for your devotion to this community. Your letters, and your father’s, have shown us a deeper thought path to follow when creating and viewing art. Now, the universe is calling you. Follow your heart and fly! We smile through our tears as we watch you take wing. Namaste, Diane DuBois Mullaly
    P.S. – Thank you for maintaining The Painters Keys web site. An essential resource.

  124. Luisa Wohlgroth on

    Dear Sara, Thank you so much for all your wonderful letters, I’ve read each one, week by week, but never joined in because I don’t know how to send you copies of my pictures…and I wanted to for such a long time. Now it’s too late, but I still want to thank you for all the inspiration, for introducing me to your fabulous father and your family and to your work. I’m sorry that I never took part myself, but still, I want to tell you that you enriched my life enormously and that I will miss your two letters each week.
    All the best on your journey and thank you so much once again!
    with love and admiration, Luisa

  125. Sara, as soon as I read the second sentence in your first paragraph, I knew how this letter would end. Like thousands of others, I will miss you and your wisdom like stink!!!! At the same time, when it is time for change, the soul will know it. And yours did and does. To have known you and your Father and to have met your Mother have been enormous gifts. Thank-you, dear ones. Best of luck in the days ahead. May our lives cross again in the future.

    In Light & Love,


  126. I am astonished and saddened! I always looked forward to this column of the best writing on art. The articles have deepened me. I have so much respect for you and your Father. It pains me greatly to say good bye.

    Best Wishes,
    Feel free to change your mind anytime!
    Love, Maureen Sharkey

  127. That you continued your Father’s legacy through these letters was a pleasant surprise – there were times it must have been difficult for you. Wishing you freedom, weightlessness and creative blossoming as you transition into this new page of your journey. Thanks. It’s been lovely.

  128. Dear Sara,
    Please know that for several years I have paused while checking through my email messages, exited my world and enjoyed the change of pace, thinking about the ideas you’ve sent from your father and you. I have read all of them with pleasure. Thank you so much for providing these gems for so many for such a long time. You will both be missed.
    Most sincerely,
    Wendy Prest

  129. Thank you Sara for being an inspiration to artists and daughters everywhere. I wish you all the peace, joy and success in the world. I will miss you!

  130. HI, I read this letter too late….. I have missed your weekly letters and wondered where they were. I understand now and will, for myself and for those that have not discovered them, miss them deeply. Fare well in your endeavours. Hopefully one day we will cross paths again. Both you and your dad’s writings have meant an immeasurable amount to me. Thank you, Eric Suchman

  131. Dear Sara, It took me a while to catch up — and I too was wondering where your letters were. I have been reading, enjoying, learning from, and thinking about them for about 22 years now — and sharing your dad’s thoughts with my students, too. I do understand your needing to move on, and I’m so glad you’re leaving this up as an archive. It is a treasure house that I come back to, again and again. I will miss seeing them in my in-box, but I will keep coming back to them. Thank you very much! I so appreciate the wisdom you both have shared here.

  132. Please have a change of heart and send out something from time to time to inspire us. If not weekly, how about once a month? I am reluctant to let you go Sara, you continued your Dad’s legacy so beautifully. You will be sorely missed. Wishing you happiness as you follow your heart in ART. Big hugs, Tina Bos

  133. Oh so many thank you notes. You are loved you are inspirational and you did so much for me. A happy life ahead for you.

  134. Oh… I am so sorry to hear this! I was an infrequent reader, but every time that I read your posts, it made me feel so good. It eased my yearning as a semi or would-be artist. You just made me feel good and not so alone. You will be sorely missed as the previous comments attest. Hope that your endeavours bring you as much comfort as you have given us. Take care.
    Jane Hannah

  135. So sorry to see this ending. Your father’s legacy was helped by your commitment of 9 years of dedication to these letters. Carry on, enjoy life and know that you have contributed much to an artist who needed to read your words for the camaraderie and enrichment that you generously provided. Thank you so much!

  136. Brenda Gail Pon on

    So here it is, the New Year and I am cleaning out my emails and realized that I had not read your last one from the summer. As with most things, this blog as both a gift and a curse. It reminds me of my growth as an artist and how much there is to still learn. I am thanking you for keeping up the blog for as long as it felt right and for moving on with your life when that felt right. It reminds me that nothing is static, life is a never ending flow, beautiful isn’t it.

    So I wish all good things for you, it would be nice to hear from you once in a while. I have been reading this blog for so long, you feel like family.

    Happy New Year.


    Sara our friend.
    We have come to know you & Robert through your wonderful passages. I have gone from student to tutor over 20 years & I have always suggested my students link up with this site. The smart ones have, the others are still wondering. Thank you for being an important part of my art journey. Wishing you all the best from here in Australia. Bruce Griffiths

  138. Dear Sara- DITTO X 100 to everything said about you and your Dad. Thank you for touching our artistic souls so deeply. You have now inspired me to spread my wings and retire from teaching oil painting, at last, to do my own thing in this last passage of my life.
    See you in the wild blue yonder of sky and heaven.
    Love is all there is.

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Featured Artist

My Life “HAS BEEN FULL OF JOY !   …..   I believe the ability handed down to me through my family’s genes have blessed me with the gift of happiness as well as a talent that I have used continuously…. since my first memories ….. that of being able to draw almost anything I have set my mind to;  whether it was out of my inner conscience (includes lots of sketching & erasing) …..I call it practice !  Or from photos.   I have drawn anything and everything.
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