i made it to week 9 of cvp!

we are in the homestretch now in the online art course i’m taking (cvp), in the middle of week 9 (out of 12). since i last posted here, we’ve covered a lot of color theory – color value, harmony, temperature, saturation, compliments, etc. – and had a week on texture. there was a “rest” week in there too, where we didn’t have any assignments and were supposed to either rest or use the time to get caught up. i did a little of both.

i wouldn’t say i’m entirely caught up with the course but i’ve muddled my way through it. i’ve watched all the lesson videos, done most of the lesson exercises, watched all the zoom coaching calls and done the exercises from those. i’ve even watched most of the bonus videos in the portal and gone through all the “helpful hints” pdfs – the written supplements to what we are taught in the lesson videos and coaching calls.

and i’ve done a pretty good job of painting in my journal regularly, not always daily but most days. i also began in my art journal, when we started the class, a daily gratitude practice, writing it down. and that i have done every single day since i started cvp. it’s how i start my day each morning while i’m drinking my coffee and/or eating my breakfast and i do really think it’s helped shift how i feel and start my days.

my first cvp journal is now full (the one on the left) so i’m starting a 2nd journal!

but what has fallen through the cracks is all the actual weekly assignment boards – usually for each week/principle we are supposed to paint 1-3 boards to integrate that knowledge into our painting practice. i did ok for the early weeks when we were working in black and white on value and contrast but once color was introduced, i got a little overwhelmed. i haven’t really “finished” any of those and some weeks i maybe only started one board instead of 2 or 3.

but it’s ok – i’ll go back to them. i’ve wanted to just keep moving along so i could keep up with the pace of the class and the live calls. but this also means i haven’t been participating as much in the social media/community portion of the class, at least for the last few weeks, since i haven’t had as much to share. (we have a class-specific social media forum on a platform/app called circle, so the course could be moved off of facebook. this is where we are supposed to be posting what we paint, sharing with the other students, offering feedback to each other, etc.) i’ve tried to keep posting on my instagram feed, mostly stuff from my art journal, and have found a handful of other cvp students on insta and we interact. but it’s not the same as participating on circle where all 3000+ of the cvp students are.

oh well. i think i’m doing pretty good considering i have a full time job and there’s been a lot going on to distract me, i.e. jazzfest. (you’d have to have no job/be retired and have no distractions for 12 weeks i think to have the time to do everything to completion in the weekly timeframes. it’s really a lot of information, which is why we have access to the materials/videos/portal for an entire year, so we can go back through whatever we missed.)

anyways, here we are in week 9 and for the rest of the weeks, we will be working on our final series of paintings. this week we are to start them, give them a first and maybe second pass. just get something going. play. experiment. we don’t need to know where it’s going or have a plan. so i jumped in and did so, on monday. i have 3 boards and a throwaway board (the one furthest away on the table in the pic below) that all have a first pass on them and they don’t even look awful! i actually kinda like some parts of what i have going on them!

(i’ve now done a second pass that i didn’t take a photo of, but this is where i started.)

last night i began a 7 day overnight pet sit for a geriatric dog and cat, so i won’t be at my house a lot and therefore won’t get to spend a lot of time in my studio for the next week. but this class has taught me that all i need is 20-30 minutes at a time… so maybe i’ll be able to keep working on these a little. and even if i can’t, i have at least done what i was supposed to do for week 9, and the sit ends on tuesday so i’ll still have time in week 10 to do the next step.

so yeah, that’s what’s going on. this week’s lessons have all been about process, understanding what the art2life/nick wilton process is for making intuitive abstract art. it may not end up being the best process for me or any one individual taking the class, but i am hoping it can be mine… at least for abstract work. i hope i’m absorbing it, because it’s all about being present, paying attention to what you like, what lights you up, gives you energy, makes you feel alive, and then infusing that into your work. and if i’m to be honest, i’ve spent much of my 40s and 50s not feeling very alive. on auto pilot. shut down. checked out. and my inability to make art that i like, that feels like me, has been the result. sure, i’ve had a few blips in there of inspiration, of connection, of feeling that flow of the universe… but it has been fleeting.

so the whole reason i took this class is because i knew it was more than just an art class. it’s kind of an art class mixed with a self-help/self-discovery woo-woo group experience, perfect for my midlife crisis. it’s teaching me how to use my art practice for self discovery, to find the me that’s been buried, while i still have time to explore and enjoy it. and when i do, the art i make will be an artifact of that journey.

i’ll leave you with this quote from this week’s lessons on process: “try to look at your art practice as a journey of healing and a way to stay present.” yes indeed.

stay tuned to see where my final series of paintings go!

heading into week 6 of CVP…

it’s been a whirlwind so far. keeping up with this class is harder than the last one i took because there are more weekly live zoom coaching calls and much more video content. it’s a lot to physically get through and even more to really digest.

the image above is just a little montage of some of the work i’ve done so far in the class. (you can see continuing updates and more explanation on my art instagram feed.) unlike FYJ where we worked on watercolor paper, in CVP we are working both in an art journal (a modified bullet journal where we take notes as well as paint) and on 12″x12″ birch plywood panels. painting on wood (prepped with gloss medium to seal and then primed with 2 coats of gesso) is really different than painting on watercolor paper with 1 coat of gesso, in terms of how the paint acts. plus we aren’t doing as many multiples as we did in FYJ where we worked on six pieces at a time (from one big sheet of paper taped off); for most weekly CVP assignments, we’ll be working on 2-3 boards at a time (front and back) as well as doing various smaller exercises and a daily art practice in our journal. it feels like a very different process and my results feel really different. not better or worse, just different.

you may be wondering why in the world i’ve chosen to spend so much time and money taking another online art class that is basically going over much of the same material as the last one. well, first of all, i feel like i need to really master the basics. i didn’t go to art school and so have always felt like i missed out on basic art education. i did go to a liberal arts college (almost 40 years ago!) that had some art studio courses as part of an art history major and i took as many of them that i could, but they were for the most part intro level and i don’t recall any of them really teaching me basic art theory principles. we were kind of just given supply lists and basic assignments and told to go create. we did group critiques and got some feedback from our instructors, but i never really felt like i was learning how to make my art better. i also spent a LOT of time comparing myself to the more “talented” students and feeling like an imposter, which was not conducive to me really exploring my creativity fully.

we definitely did not go as in-depth on anything the way FYJ and CVP have done. and we certainly did NOT cover “mindset,” which has been invaluable. in CVP, in terms of the lessons covering an art principle (i.e. value, design, color value, etc.) we are shown art historical examples as well as contemporary art examples on coaching call presentations, plus given examples from the work of our 9 coaches who lead those calls as well as live demos. there are also 7 teachers, and 3 guest artists as well as 10 CVP ambassadors (alumni of the program who monitor the various online forums and answer questions)… not to mention the 1500 CVP alums who are taking the class again, who are all contributing. there’s a lot of collective knowledge in the community of the course and the general vibe of the community is so open and helpful and encouraging. every day i get to see a wide variety of art being made, from super beginner to acclaimed professional and everything in between. there’s also a lot of modeling going on as to what different stages of an art career can look like, different paths one can take as an artist to grow your art practice and make a living (or not), etc.

second, taking FYJ and now CVP – as well as all the little free classes i’ve been taking for the past few years – has really helped me establish an honest-to-goddess art practice, which is something i never really had before. yes, i’ve been an artist in various mediums and styles off and on for my entire adult life, but it was just that – off and on. inconsistent. when inspiration struck… which sometimes was not very frequently. at times i went YEARS without making anything. or i would have a productive spurt and then would be frustrated to not have any new ideas for months. i did a lot of staring at blank canvases/sketchbook pages. but now i have learned to show up every single day for at least 5 minutes. (yes there have been days i haven’t painted at all, due to life circumstances. it happens. but for the most part, i show up most days in some way.) i don’t wait for inspiration to strike – i show up so that i’m already there in the studio working when it does. and i’ve learned i can nudge inspiration along by just doing.

however, the main reason i am taking CVP is that it is teaching me – and i am slowly absorbing – how to critique and edit my own work. how not to look for outside validation or feedback but how to think in a way that allows me to apply the art principles we are learning so that i always know how to critique myself, how to proceed, advance, get unstuck, and make my work better. that is really the end goal because that is the key, to me, to being a working artist.

i think i’m still a ways away from that but i can feel myself getting better, that some things are becoming more intuitive. and that i am learning to just keep going when i start feeling stuck or unhappy with how my creating is going. and if i can really get to the place where i can successfully do that with each painting i start – then it will all be worth however much money i’ve paid. because i’ve spent the better part of the past decade bashing my head against the wall in frustration, starting a million paintings with a lot of energy and excitement, only to get to a certain point and lose steam, not know where to go next, or worse yet, completely ruin whatever i had started because of bad decisions made when i didn’t know what to do. and i’ve relied way too much on the validation of friends and collectors, which often is at odds with my own opinion.

so yeah, that’s why i made the decision to do it. and so far, i’m loving it despite it being fairly overwhelming. i look forward to getting through the rest of the art principles and on to our own series of paintings that we work on for the last few weeks of the course. i can’t wait to see what i come up with!

how’d it get to be november already?

sigh. the last time i wrote here it was the end of september, i was in the 2nd week of the find your joy course and loving it, and i was looking forward to my vacation to new mexico mid october.

well it’s a month and a half later now. the find your joy class is finishing up week 8 (of 12) though i’ve only just today managed to finish week 5. (week 7 was an integration week for folks to catch up so i’m 2 lessons behind at this point.) and i took my vacation, which was glorious and if you follow me on my personal instagram or my personal facebook, you’ve seen all my photos… i had so much fun with my dear friend dix and was gobsmacked by the beauty of the region.

but… i returned already fighting off some kinda crud (allergies? altitude? airplanes and airports?) and then had a very intense week of work and an ill-advised if fun weekend of social activity which sped up my illness and landed me really REALLY sick for the past two weeks with severe bronchitis. like sicker than i can remember being as an adult outside of hospital stays. two urgent care visits and two courses of antibiotics later (well i’m still in the middle of the second course), and i am starting to feel better. but i worked sicker than i should have for several days – it was miserable. i am grateful to feel like i’m coming out the other side now but also overwhelmed by how much money it cost me to be sick (urgent care visits, prescriptions, over the counter drugs, ordering out cuz i was too sick to cook, canceled walks, turned down petsits, and several weeks of missed time in the studio) and how far behind i feel.

thankfully i don’t have any work this weekend so i trying to get caught up while also resting. i finally did some vacuuming today and i hope to do laundry tomorrow. i did lesson 5 in FYJ today and posted my results on my art IG and played around with some other stuff in the studio, generally relaxing and not exerting myself too much. tomorrow i hope to tackle lesson 6 and maybe do the dishes. baby steps.

so i don’t have a lot to share here about art cuz i haven’t done a lot in the past month and a half. however… i am considering joining in on a midcity art studio stroll that’s being planned for saturday december 9th from 12-6pm, so i guess that’s what i can talk about. i haven’t done any art markets or pop-ups in years and years and i actually think the last time i did one was also at my house during the holidays. the last time i did it, i was still living just in the back of the house, so i really had no choice but to do it in the backyard; i had folks come down the alley along the side of the house to enter. if i end up doing it this time, i do have a front porch now and a living room and office that i could use to display stuff, but it would require me to really clean up before then to allow folks into my house. so i might just do it like last time, around back, since the studio opens up to the backyard. we’ll see. i have some pet work scheduled that day so i have to figure out if i really think i can do both.

if i do decide to do it, i will have a mix of old leftovers from the crafty and t-shirt printing days plus newer paintings from the past few years of dabbling in abstract work.

i’ll keep you posted if i do end up doing it.

that’s all i got. til next time! and happy thanksgiving!

week 2 FYJ class

i am having a good time with the find your joy course. we are only in week 2 but i have managed to keep up with assignments and weekly calls and journal entries so far. (we are encouraged to keep a studio journal about what we are learning in this class and are given weekly journal prompts about our coursework.) i am trying very hard to not get ahead of myself, not overthink where this class is leading me, and just trying to be open-hearted and -minded about everything louise is teaching.

(even though we’re only in week 2 i feel it’s a major accomplishment to be keeping up, as last week i was overnight dogsitting and my cat got diagnosed with throat cancer and i’m volunteering for a political campaign delivering yard signs which has gotten quite busy as the election is very soon, in addition to just my normal daily work schedule, so i’ve had a lot going on. so yes, i am patting myself on the back a bit for keeping up and showing up and doing the work.)

last week – the first week – our assignment was to paint to music. pick a song or piece of music and just paint to it, only in the time it takes to play it once. and then to go back and do a second piece where you spend more time with the same song, as much time as you want/need. and to notice the difference between the two pieces you made and how you felt making them. i chose lucinda williams’ “joy,” and an earthy color palette that felt like it fit her and the song. below are my two pieces – the 4 minute version on the left, the longer one on the right.

i learned that i was more pleased with my output with the first piece that i only spent 4 minutes on. it was more spontaneous, more free, had more energy, felt more real. the second piece ended up with more structure, as i couldn’t ignore those impulses when given more time. i didn’t hate the second piece but it didn’t feel as alive as the first to me. (we aren’t supposed to be attached to outcomes or trying to create specific compositions or results, but it’s hard not to have a feeling about it after it’s done.)

this week, our assignment is similar to one we did in the free taster course which preceded the paid course. it’s all about mark-making, experimenting with various media and tools to make as many different kinds of marks on a page as we can. aside from various sizes of paint brushes, scrapers, palette knives and color shapers, i also played with a silicone basting brush from the kitchen, a glass window squeegee, a square notch tool (usually used with grout), a plastic comb, and a cardboard toilet paper roll to make interesting marks (among other things), as well as added regular pencil, colored pencil, oil pastels, and various sized acrylic markers to the acrylic paint as media. there was no time limit on this, just an open-ended exploratory playtime to learn what kinds of marks we enjoy making.

it’s amazing how much better it looks when you take the tape off! if you zoom in on each one separately as it’s own piece, some of them are kinda cool. i like seeing all the layers and marks but it all feels way too busy to me. but again, trying not to be attached to outcomes. i think i did the assignment as it was meant to be done and i learned i like to make marks with all kinds of things!

the second part of the assignment was to choose the marks and methods we liked the most and use those to do a second piece. (and by “piece,” we are using 30×22” sheets of heavy duty watercolor paper with gesso on them, taped off into 6 squares.) i considered just continuing on top of the first assignment sheet but then decided to start fresh on a new one.

i retained mostly the same color palette – we were to use black, white, and one red (i chose alizarin crimson), one blue (cobalt blue) and one yellow (i switched from lemon yellow that i used on the first one to naples yellow this time, which altered all the colors i mixed and i think made for a more subdued look). i feel like the 2nd piece looks a lot like the first even though i used far fewer tools to make marks. but still i used a lot. and i treated each of the squares as their own piece, instead of thinking of the whole piece of paper as one piece, as some folks did.

regardless i think i learned that i enjoy using weird tools to make marks and i should be incorporating them more into what i do. i particularly enjoy using small swaths of pattern stencils as well as well as the small square notch tool, for scraping lines into wet paint.

you can follow along with what i’m doing each week on my instagram, as i’m more likely to keep updating regularly there than i am here. but i like writing here about it too as you never know what could happen with instagram.

i’m looking forward to having a weekend with no work on my schedule, which doesn’t happen very often. i had some sits scheduled but they all ended up canceling. i scheduled my covid/flu vaxes for late this afternoon though so i might be spending the day tomorrow in bed, as the covid boosters usually wipe me out the next day. but i guess we’ll see. i’m happy to not have any responsibilities other than taking care of myself and my poor sick cat.

follow up…

just a quick follow up to my last post to present my final piece from the 5 days to jawdropping art program that i mentioned. it took me two weeks because my work schedule had me out of sorts (and out of the studio), but i finished it! and even framed it, which i never do. (it’s hard enough for me to even feel like a piece is finished; i never get to the point of thinking about framing.)

quick explanation: the first day prompt was to journal all our fears about our art/art making and then make a physical embodiment of that. so the piece i made to start out with was much bigger than this, on bristol board (paper), and basically used up all the leftover paint on my palette from the last thing i was working on. i scribbled a lot with pencil and oil pastels but it was basically just a big jumbled angsty mess that was pretty garish. and i wrote out a lot of my fears, the negative crap i tell myself about my art and process, onto it. the next few days prompts asked us to use various kinds of alchemy to transform our piece – i won’t go into all the details but for me, i ended up tearing my piece up and removing all the bits that had all my fears and negative talk on them, and then reassembled the piece without those into a smaller piece. in order to do this i had to affix it to cardboard. i had masked off the edges originally so that helped me when reassembling. i then outlined in white all the places where the pieces came together, so you could see how it had been put back together. each day we were to do something else to keep transforming it; none of my subsequent days were as dramatic as tearing it up and reassembling it, but i did make changes each day and finally ended up with this, which i am happy with and will make me remember a lot of the internal work that i did through the week. i even miraculously found a frame in my house that was the exact perfect size for the final piece, so now it will hang in my studio to remind me of this experience.

though i am clearly someone who is receptive to these art class sales pitches, in the end i have decided not to join jessica serran’s keep your ass in the studio program, the 4 month deep dive. i thought long and hard about it and even crunched numbers in my budget, trying to figure out ways to afford it. i could have thrown it on a credit card and hoped like hell i could figure out a way to make back the money, that the course would result in me getting back in gear and being prolific making finished pieces i could sell for higher prices than i usually do. (i do know my pricing is ridiculously low and i intend to change that going forward.)

i think when i finally got a peak inside her program, which she offered today on a live zoom call as it’s the last day to register, i had the realization that while i liked the 5 day challenge and all the internal work and journaling and i do think it was productive for me, i don’t know that i can maintain my interest in that level of introspection for 4 months. and if it took me 2 weeks to do 5 days of prompts because of my work schedule, knowing what my next few months look like and that work always ramps up during the holidays in november and december… i just know i can’t commit and i don’t want to commit to something that is ultimately just going to add to my stress level and make me feel bad because i don’t have the time to devote to it. i don’t doubt i could get something out of it but it is not the right timing and maybe even not the right program for me.

there’s another free teaser course coming up at the beginning of september that i want to do though i have no intention of going on to pay for the longer course that follows it, for many of the same reasons i mentioned above. but it’s a chance to try out another artist’s style and have an excuse to be in the studio more. i’ll be dogsitting that week so it might end up being on a one-week delay for me, but most of these things give you a little bit of time afterwards with the materials to finish if you weren’t able to keep up, so i will be hopeful.

i am also setting the intention that in between dog sits and busy periods with my job, i will do more painting and i will finish some things and have stuff to sell this year during the holidays. i’ve let the holiday selling season slip by too many years in a row and i intend to partake this year, even if it’s just a handful of small paintings or another studio clear-out of old work, or both. maybe this is the year i finally plunk down the money on a really good printer so i can make nice prints of my work to sell. a lot of artists make a good income selling modestly priced prints, which also serves to make the originals more unique and valuable. i need to do the research on that but that might be a better use of my money-that-i-don’t-have than paying for an art course.

i guess we’ll see. hopefully i can maintain and build upon this bit of momentum i’ve had and keep going. that is my intention. i’ll keep you updated!

my week in art

i haven’t had much to report artwise for a while, but this past week had some activity that i want to share.

this week i did two things i want to celebrate myself for: the first was that i entered a few pieces into the art2life international online juried art exhibition. yes, at the very last minute, literally, but i did it. an online art show might not sound like a big deal but actually following through and entering anything in any show is a big deal for me. i’ve had several shows this year i’ve wanted to submit to that have come and gone, mostly cuz i didn’t feel like i had anything that was “finished” that i felt good enough about. well this time i just said fuck it and i entered some pieces anyways. i’ve been part of the art2life world for more than a year now and i just missed out on entering it last year so i figured, why not? it was $40 to enter up to 3 pieces; sadly i couldn’t settle on a third and get it photographed in time so i only sent in 2. (serves me right for waiting til the last minute.) but dammit i did it. (pat on my own back.) i certainly don’t expect to win anything (there are cash prizes and it is juried by a gallerist from NYC) but who knows what might come from it. maybe nothing but it was a baby step and i took it. so yay.

these are the two pieces i chose to enter. i’ve posted both on my instagram before but haven’t put either up for sale. at the time i made them, i wasn’t really sure i liked either and wasn’t sure they were done. but they’ve been sitting in my studio for several months now and when i scanned the room for recent work, they just jumped out at me.

untitled blue – acrylic on canvas board (10×10″)
releasing guilt – mixed media on bristol board (14×17″)

the second thing is that i did yet another free taster online course from another online art guru that has a longer expensive class. this one was called 5 days to jaw dropping art. jessica serran who is based in prague is the artist/coach and she takes you through a lot of self-examination of your fears around why you aren’t making the art you know you want to/can. it’s kind of more art therapy than art instruction – there’s a lot of journaling involved – but the prompts were interesting and thought-provoking. i tuned in live all 5 days but have only managed to complete the first 2 days of exercises; thankfully i have more time with the replays and a partially completed piece so i guess we’ll see what happens. but when i signed up for it i wasn’t even sure i had the time to tune in every day cuz this has been a busy work week. so i’m patting myself on the back for watching the lives and trying to engage and wanting to follow through. hopefully i can get through the rest of the week’s exercises this weekend when i have more time.

where my jaw dropping art piece stands now – acrylic on bristol board that’s been torn up and glued back together onto a piece of cardboard (14×18”)

i like taking these free teaser courses because, well, they are free. but also because each artist-teacher has a different approach and conveys some different – and many of the same – nuggets about making art, having an art practice, overcoming your inner critic, developing a style, and creating an art business. i guess i keep hoping that if i hear these things enough they will sink in and i will make some progress. today was the last day of this one and as they all are, the day’s live was mostly focused on selling the paid program. hers is a 4 month deep dive with a step by step plan and regular coaching calls and some bonuses for those who sign up early. it’s around $2k for those 4 months and she has a bunch of payment plans. (i’ll add that none of them are as good as paying the full amount up front using paypal credit which gives you 6 months interest free to pay it off, which is how i did the art2life spark program last fall.)

i also keep hoping that one of these teachers will resonate enough with me to want to really invest the money that i don’t have to try one of these longer programs, to see if it would help me break through whatever my blocks are to build my art business back up. i liked nick wilton (art2life) enough to do the short (and cheaper, around $500) 3 week spark class, and i did feel at the time like it helped and gave me some momentum. i learned a few things but mostly it kept me in the studio every day with exercises that helped loosen me up and get the creative juices flowing. you’ll probably remember i applied for a scholarship to his CVP program, the longer 3 month course that cost around $2400, but i was not selected. and i just couldn’t justify that amount of money at the time when my pet biz was really slow and i was barely making ends meet.

i’m in a little different place right now financially – despite my dogwalking schedule thinning, my petsitting schedule has been in overdrive for the past many months so i’ve banked some savings – but $2k for jessica’s 4 month keep your ass in the studio program still feels hard to commit to – especially when the pet biz is so busy. and until i go back and watch the replays of the last few days’ lives and finish the exercises, i won’t know if i feel like i really resonate with her style. so i guess we’ll see after this weekend. but i’m still really glad i managed to do what i’ve done with the free 5-day class.

ok, so i guess that means it was “good” week in the studio? i dunno. it was definitely better than it has been recently. i’ll take that as a win. hope y’all had a good week and happy weekend!