First-Place Award Goes To, Tricia Hampo

The following post is contributed by Collective member, artist Tricia Hampo, First-Place award winner in the Collective’s 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit.

Tricia Hampo - Huron River Art Collective 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit First-Place Award winner.
Tricia Hampo, 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit First-Place Award winner.

My name is Tricia Hampo and I have been creating/crafting since I was able to hold a crayon in my hand.  I received a BFA in Graphic Design from The University of Michigan and a Teaching Certificate in Art from Eastern Michigan University. Of course, life gets busy and other things managed to take precedence to my creative endeavors from time to time.  I created glass beads and sold to jewelry designers for about 12 years until I felt I had exhausted that medium’s creative possibilities.  So, I picked up the paint brush for the first time in a very long time, about 6 years ago.  Since then I have been exploring many different mediums.  I often tell people I have art A.D.D.  I want to try everything. 

Award winning painting by Tricia Hampo
Destination Sunshine, 1st place award painting by Tricia Hampo

Currently my favorite medium is oil and cold wax medium.  I’ll also claim that I did not choose my current favorite subject matter, it chose me.  I don’t think I ever would have imagined I would paint portraits and figures to the extent that I do. 

I will tell you that I defeated my inner critic this time by being awarded first place in the Collective’s Fall 2021 show that is currently hanging at Mallets Creek Library in Ann Arbor.

I am honored and humbled as there are so many outstanding pieces of art in this show.  One of the Library’s employees commented on how nice it was to have art on the walls again.  I couldn’t agree more.  It looks beautiful and makes my heart happy. 

I often find myself looking at the walls in all the various offices I visit and thinking how much they need real ART on their walls, not just posters and product advertisements, but real art made from local artists.  After all, how much time do we find ourselves waiting with nothing to look at but our phones? 

Painting by Tricia Hampo
Painting by Tricia Hampo

Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from the screen and see some real art? 

To look at all those gorgeous brushstrokes and colors up close?

Wouldn’t it be nice to spend that time imagining what that artwork is saying to us and let it take us on a voyage of discovery? 

I’ve got to believe there are a lot of artists out there with some stunning art just sitting in the corners of their studios just waiting to be viewed and enjoyed. 
I, for one, can’t wait to see it!  

For a few years, I played with the idea of joining an artists guild. I held off joining for so long because I didn’t think I was good enough.  Aren’t we always our own worst critics!?!  I also thought I’d feel like an outsider, as I did not know anyone else in a guild.  However, that is also the reason I had for wanting to join a guild, so that I could meet, share and create with other artists of all levels and interests. 

Attitude, oil painting by Tricia Hampo
Attitude, oil painting by Tricia Hampo

I also had a number of paintings sitting around in my studio and my family would often ask me what I was going to do with them?  They would say, “you should at least share these with others,” or “perhaps you can make someone smile, contemplate or reflect” and “they certainly aren’t doing any good just sitting in your studio.” 

They were right, so I figured why not.  So, I joined the Huron River Art Collective.  As I searched their website for opportunities to get involved and benefits of being a member, I discovered the Exhibits pageHere was an opportunity to get my artwork out there for the public to see, perhaps smile, reflect and maybe even purchase for continued enjoyment.

Then, guess what? 
My inner critic immediately spoke up, “you’re not good enough to be in a show”,
“why would you want to spend money just to have someone reject your art?” 

Quickly, I decided to squash my inner critic and go for it.  As artists we have to have thick skin.  Art is very subjective. We have to know that we cannot always connect with everyone.   First and foremost my intent in creating is not necessarily for my viewer anyways, it begins with me.  My art begins with what I hope to accomplish, what I hope to communicate.  It is a way to express my thoughts, stories, feelings, hopes and dreams.  As a favorite quote of mine says, “Every ARTwork” is a voyage of discovery”, this is not only true for the artist, it is also true for the viewer.  

Find me on Instagram at @triciahampo_art
Facebook: Tricia Hampo Art

The Huron River Art Collective 2021 Fall Juried Exhibit is currently on display at the Malletts Creek branch of the Ann Arbor Library through December 3rd. The closing reception, with juror, Durwood Coffey, will be on the evening of December 3rd, 6:30p – 7:45p.

Do What Scares you Most!

The following post is contributed by Collective member, artist, Jill Stefani Wagner, PSA-MP IAPS/MC 

I have a confession to make.

For a good part of my life I was often terrified of new challenges and the possibility of failure. Whether in my advertising career or my new art life, I constantly struggled with the urge to turn down opportunities that were out of my comfort zone. 

The process in my brain would automatically go something like this:

“Absolutely not.”
“No way.”
“Not gonna happen.”

Bella Toscana, Pastel by artist Jill Stefani Wagner
Bella Toscana, Pastel by artist Jill Stefani Wagner

“It’s beyond my skill set.”
“That would be difficult.”
“Maybe in the future…”

“Well, others have done it.”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Maybe I could handle it…”

“No reason not to try.”
“I think I’ll go for it.”

“Ok, I got this.”

I went through every one of those steps when I was asked to be a creative director and then vice president of an advertising agency. When it was time to for me to leave that company, I thought there was no way I could start my own successful firm. Wrong. And 25 years later, when I pined to sell my ad agency and become a full-time artist, I tortured myself for months and months before I got the nerve to follow through.

As a newbie artist there was a long list of “I can’t do thats:”

Taking a workshop with a superstar instructor
Approaching galleries to represent my art
Demonstrating a painting in front of a crowd of people
Applying to national competitions
Painting at plein air festivals
Mounting a solo exhibit
Teaching my own workshops
Moving from pastel into oil painting
Becoming Faculty at the Plein Air Convention 
Appearing on “Eric Rhoads Live
And so on…

At the Point, pastel by artist Jill Stefani Wagner
At the Point, pastel by artist Jill Stefani Wagner

Somehow I handled all of those new challenges…without failing! Over time I have realized that doing what scares me most is the best, and probably ONLY way for me to improve. And I learned to accept the convoluted process I need to go through to finally say “YES!” to new opportunities. Almost every time I took a chance at doing something that seemed outside of my capabilities, good things happened. (Well, there was that one time that I held my very first workshop, painting outside, with a full case of shingles encroaching on my eye. But I digress… ) Mostly doing those scary things has been exciting and invigorating!

But… that’s not to imply that pushing my limits is easy. I still get nervous with each new adventure. Case in point: When Streamline Publications asked me to come to Texas to film some art instruction videos, I almost declined. Although I had directed shoots for corporate clients over the years, it was quite a different thing to consider being the one on camera. But I knew I had helpful information to share with pastel students, and making a video was the next logical step in my art career.

Ann Arbor Daze, oil painting by artist Jill Stefani Wagner
Ann Arbor Daze, oil painting
Taking the High Road, oil painting by artist Jill Stefani Wagner
Taking the High Road, oil painting by artist Jill Stefani Wagner

I went for it —and the whole experience was amazing. A supportive pre-production team, fantastic directors and cameramen, and superstar marketers helped create an environment that encouraged success. And after some of the fear dissipated, I actually enjoyed it!

Artist Jill Stefani Wagner with Streamline Video crew
Jill Stefani Wagner with Streamline Video crew

New challenges aren’t quite as frightening as you might envision. But you’ll never know until you try. So go ahead, step out of your comfort zone and take a chance. Get out there and do what scares you most!

5 Step Pastel Painting video featuring artist Jill Stefani Wagner by Streamline Video. Available for purchase.
5 Step Pastel Painting video featuring artist Jill Stefani Wagner by Streamline Video. Available for purchase.

(Never ordered a painting video online? Give it a shot!)

Jill Stefani Wagner’s artwork has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the country and is included in many corporate and private collections. 

Her paintings have been juried into the prestigious International Association of Pastel Societies Exhibits and she was recently honored with multiple awards by the Pastel Society of America and the Great Lakes Pastel Society. The Pastel Society of North Florida honored Jill with First Place and Exceptional Merit Awards. Pastel Journal Magazine has given her six Honorable Mentions in their Annual Pastel 100 Competitions. 

One of Jill’s paintings graces the cover of the November 2016 Plein Air Magazine and her work is often featured in their pages. Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine has highlighted her work as has Pastel Journal and the best-selling French magazine, Practique des Arts. In 2016, 2017 and 2019, and 2021, Wagner was invited as Pastel Faculty at the Plein Air Convention, and also enjoys teaching workshops and mentoring other artists.

She has been designated a Master Pastelist by the Pastel Society of America and Master Circle in the International Association of Pastel Societies, and also belongs to American Impressionist Society, Oil Painters of America, the Great Lakes Pastel Society and the Degas Pastel Society. Her work is represented by five fine art galleries in the Midwest.

Jill Stefani Wagner was born in Port Huron, Michigan, and received a B.F.A. from The University of Michigan School of Art. She owned an award-winning advertising firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before “seeing the light” and becoming a full-time artist. Visit her website

Artist Betsy Finn Talks About Community Exhibits

The following post is contributed by Collective member, artist and photographer, Betsy FinnBetsy is currently exhibiting at Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea on Liberty in Ann Arbor as part of the Collective’s Community Exhibits (formerly Non-Juried Exhibits).

For me, one of the perks of being a Huron River Art Collective member is the open invitation to participate in community exhibits.  Over the years, I’ve been able to hang my work in numerous exhibits that were organized by the Huron River Art Collective.  Some of the exhibits have been shared — I’ve hung my work alongside large scale graphite portraits, as well as small abstract acrylic pieces.  Besides just getting to display your work — you also get to connect with other members.  It’s building community on both fronts.  Plus, there’s always the possibility that a patron of the business might love your artwork and want it for their home!

Betsy Finn previously exhibiting with the Collective at Sweetwaters on Washington in Ann Arbor.

Some artists just sell the originals, while others list prices for both the original and prints of the art too.  It’s all personal.  A general guideline?  Make sure to list your contact information clearly — as any interested patrons will be contacting you directly.  Want to see what a solo art show looks like?  Here’s a virtual walkthrough of my most recent Huron River Art Collective show.  It’s up through November 6th, 2021, so feel free to stop by and enjoy it in person!  

This most recent exhibit is a solo show, hanging at Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea on Liberty (Ann Arbor, MI) features a variety of landscape/travel photographs, pastels, and paintings, and is available to view in person from 9/11/2021 to 11/6/2021.  Preparing for this show was fun, because I chose to mix several different media.  I planned out my art to hang in groupings — pastels on one wall, photographs on another, and a 3’x4’ acrylic painting for the feature wall that can be seen as you enter the coffeeshop.  

Betsy Finn's exhibit at Sweetwaters coffee and tea on Washington in Ann Arbor.
Betsy Finn exhibiting with the Collective at Sweetwaters on Liberty in Ann Arbor.
Betsy Finn has also exhibited at Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea in Dexter as part of the Huron River Art Collective Community Exhibits

Participating in a community exhibit might feel a little overwhelming at first.  How many pieces do you bring?  How to prepare the name cards?  What about the logistics of transporting your artwork?  But, once you get started, these questions will fall into place.  The Huron River Art Collective has coordinators for each of the ongoing exhibit locations.  These positions are filled by members who love helping artists hang their work!  Since each location is different, the coordinators will fill you in on what to do beforehand, so you are prepared.  Then, the day your show hangs, you (and any other artists) will meet with artwork in hand, ready to hang your work.  Chances are good you’ll also run into the artists from the previous exhibit, as they’ll have just finished taking down their work by the time you arrive.  It’s a cool networking opportunity!  

If you have questions about this benefit of being a member, you can get in touch with the coordinators for the specific locations, or just ask someone whose work has been on display!  After all, we’re a community of artists, and by helping each other, we’re all better for it.

Betsy Finn is an artist and photographer living in Dexter. She enjoys creating in several media, and her photographs have been accepted into international exhibitions.  To see more of Betsy’s work, visit
Members of the Huron River Art Collective are encouraged to submit guest blog posts for The Current. For details email