and just like that…. cvp

sometimes you get to a crossroads in your life when you know in your gut that you have to make bold moves, take big steps, into the scary unknown…. do things that maybe terrify you. you have to just trust your gut, go with your intuition, let the universe guide you, because, well, as they say, it’s later than you think.

this is actually the second time in a year that i’ve made such a big decision. to invest in myself. to keep propelling myself forward instead of allowing myself to stagnate, flounder. to take a chance, bet on myself. to keep going. persist.

last fall i took the big scary leap of taking louise fletcher‘s 12-week find your joy online art class… and though it was challenging, it was totally worth it. i learned a lot, i pushed myself, i took risks and was vulnerable, sharing my progress as the weeks went on via my instagram account. i didn’t come out of it some kind of artistic genius with an instant art career but i definitely made progress and (re)learned some valuable and necessary art theory principles and applied them to abstract painting. and i certainly found joy.

i also learned i do better with some structure and instruction; it helps me feel more connected to what i’m doing and forces me to show up in the studio every day. and i really like having a community of artists around the world going through the same things i am, so we can share our wins and frustrations. i learn a lot from other artists, and also how my challenges and disappointments are not unique to me.

well last week i took another free 5 day class, this one from art2life‘s nicholas wilton, who i’ve taken courses from before. (i’ve taken two previous free classes and paid for spark, a 3-week class.) this freebie was the marketing instrument for his 12 week online course called cvpcreative visionary program. you might recall i really wanted to take it last year (it’s only offered once a year in the spring) but the price seemed undoable and this was before i took find your joy so i also wasn’t sure i was really ready for such an intensive art exploration. i applied for a scholarship nonetheless but did not get one. i was disappointed and moved on but then when find your joy came around in september, i jumped in since it was considerably cheaper.

so this year, the 5 day art2life freebie reminded me what drew me to nick and art2life to begin with. there’s an infectious energy and positivity – one could say woo-woo-ness – to his instruction methods and the community he’s built around art2life. i really respond to it, get energized and inspired by it. so though what was being taught last week was pretty much all info i’d heard from nick before, i tuned in every day and painted along and tried to soak up that energy. and i knew the sales pitch for cvp was coming and i still really wanted to take it but initially thought since i hadn’t yet paid off the last class (though i will by the end of this month) and hadn’t made as much progress as i’d hoped in terms of making art that i can sell, that maybe i shouldn’t sign up for cvp. maybe i should just wait til next year.

on the last day of the freebie, they open enrollment for cvp and i saw that the price was pretty much the same as it was last year; it hadn’t gone up, which was refreshing. part of the sales pitch is they show you a little preview of what it looks like inside the portal where the lessons take place and… i dunno, i saw that and realized, hey, i can do this. i did find your joy and cvp is basically the same format, just more intense. i got a lot out of fyj. i made 80+ pieces of art in 12 weeks! i know how these programs work and though my next three months have some blips in them – overnight pet sits, a beloved coming in town and staying with me, jazzfest, etc. – everything is recorded and i can work around these things. i’ve learned how to make art in 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there. i can do this. and besides, you have the materials for a whole year. (i still have the find your joy materials until september!)

the live call on friday when enrollment opened lasted for several hours and i stayed til the end. but i didn’t even need all that time. it was like the universe was guiding my hand and before i knew it, i’d signed up! it just feels like the right time for me, to keep my momentum going. to keep building on what i’ve learned and keep pushing myself.

so i did it. i just fucking did it. and you know what? it felt great! i had the slightest tinge of second thoughts about the financial investment but then remembered they have a 30 day money back guarantee, no questions asked, so i have that much time to figure out if i’ve made a huge mistake and get my money (credit) back. but i really feel like this is the time for me to do this. i need to keep my creative momentum going to see if there’s really any there there. if after this class i still feel lost and like i don’t know what i’m doing, well then maybe i’ll just stop pushing myself so much and definitely stop spending money on classes. but i really feel like i do so much better when i’m taking a class, and i love the way these classes are set up with online communities where you can interact with all the other students from around the world. you post your art, you get feedback from them, you get feedback from the coaches involved in the class, you get any of your questions answered, you see other people’s art that ranges from beginner to accomplished professional – it’s great, especially for introverts like me who don’t really want to go take in-person classes. at least not yet.

so there you have it. i’m taking cvp this year! it’s the preeminent online art course – nick is the OG of online art gurus. there were over 100,000 people taking the free class! so far there are around 1000 signed up for cvp. (enrollment is open through wednesday of this week, i think, so maybe there will be a few hundred more by the time it closes.) if you are someone who spends any time looking at art on instagram, you will have seen artists who’ve been through this program, who started there or who went through it almost as a rite of passage. many artists take it every year to keep refining their craft. (you get a 75% discount as an alum of the program.) it’s akin to taking a college level course all crammed into 12 weeks. it’s a LOT of information. a lot of exercises. a lot of inner work. we’ll work in both a journal/sketchbook as well as on 12″x12″ wood panels. this is intensive. i know i’m going to get behind but i’ll do my best to hang in there and at least show up for all the live content, even if i have to go back through the whole thing once it’s over.

i know some of you will think i’ve lost my mind, that i’m making bad choices, that i’m getting myself further in debt. maybe i am. but i’ve had this dream since i was young that i wanted to be an artist, i wanted to make my living and my life making art. and in many ways i have done the latter – i’ve made a lot of art and craft over the years, however inconsistently – and i’ve even done the former for spurts of time. but not in a way that i could sustain myself and my practice, and not always in ways that i felt deeply connected to. that’s the goal. i’m not getting any younger and i won’t be able to walk dogs for forever – my body is already having a hard time with it and i’m burnt out emotionally with the work. i have no partner or children to take care of me, no savings or retirement money coming to me other than a very small social security which will not be enough to live on, so right now, this is the best idea i’ve got – to focus on my art, hone my craft, and start making money from it, make it a business that will hopefully bring me more income than i currently make walking dogs, so i can pay off my debts and ease into a “retirement” that looks like making and selling art until i die. if i can pull that off, i might actually live longer. and be happier.

but mostly, i really want to feel connected to what i’m creating again. i want to feel less haphazard about my process, gain more clarity about what direction i want to go in with abstract painting. i want to make some work i’m really proud of, and get to a place where that comes more easily.

so. i’ll be posting on my instagram as the weeks go on and i’ll be trying to find ways to raise money to pay this class off. if you want to support me, i still have a studio full of art from the class last fall, from the past few years, and from even before that – i’d love to get some of this stuff out of here and make a few dollars from any of it. let me know if you wanna come over and look around. or if you’re not local, keep an eye on my etsy shop – i’ll keep adding to it as i have time. (there’s also a ko-fi button on this page for direct donations.) maybe i’ll try to come up with some new sticker and t-shirt ideas to fundraise. who knows.

and if you’re someone who’s been with me on this journey over the years – thank you for always supporting me, financially, emotionally, and otherwise. i hope i’ve brought some joy to your life with stuff i’ve made and i look forward to continuing to do so with even bigger and better art. and if nothing else, i hope my quest, my ongoing artistic journey, my chasing of my dream however inconsistent, i hope it inspires you to keep after your own dreams… before it’s too late. we only have so much time in this realm and the clock is always ticking. do the thing… now, while you can. so you have no regrets.

jump and the net will appear – that’s what i’m doing. it’s scary… but also exhilarating!

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.

here’s to finding my joy!

i just posted about this on my art instagram page but figured it was worth blogging about as well. i’ve been working this past week on a free taster course (yes, yet another one) this time from artist louise fletcher, who is this lovely british woman and brilliant painter who is about my age and only recently in the past several years became an art teacher and successful artist and now teaches this yearly online art course about (re)discovering your joy in painting (or whatever medium you create with). i have thrown financial caution to the wind and signed up for the full course.

if you’ve been following my art insta or reading this blog then you know i’ve been listening to louise’s podcast art juice (which she does with artist alice sheridan) for quite a while now and i joined louise’s monthly art subscription group called your art tribe about six months ago. louise offers so much free content on you tube and via art tribe there are monthly masterclasses on various topics and techniques, art challenges, studio tours from members of the group, and there is a very lively facebook group specifically for members. it’s been well worth the monthly subscription charge and being an art tribe member got me a good discount on the 12 week find your joy course, which made it easier to take the plunge.

my biggest issue with my art is that i’m too much in my head about it and i psyche myself out a lot, i think. i can’t get out of my own way. which, frankly, has often been my problem in life in general. and a lot of what louise’s course is about is mindset and just remembering what it was like as a child to play with abandon with paint, to learn how to keep that free-ness and suspend self-judgement and not allow that negative voice in your head to limit you. and that is exactly what i need.

as many of you know, i’ve been a maker and creator of various kinds of art and craft and design for most of my adult life, having finally in college come to the epiphany that i didn’t need to be innately gifted with artistic talent (by societal standards) to be an artist. i will forever be grateful to my art professor marilyn murphy for that and for setting me on what would be my lifelong journey as an artist.

i’ve had varying levels of success with different things i’ve done. i’ve sold a LOT of work over my lifetime and have had a lot of people support me, for which i am so grateful. but in the past few years i’ve felt like i came to somewhat of an impass and though i’ve kept painting and making art off and on, trying new techniques and styles, i haven’t been satisfied with any of them and haven’t really felt like i’ve had anything worth saying with my art. hell, most of the time i don’t even finish what i start working on. it’s been an endless process of trying new things, starting pieces but not finishing very many of them or not being completely happy with what i do finish. and frankly, most of the time, not really knowing what it is i’m trying to accomplish or say with my art.

so i have decided it’s time for some help. i’ve done so many free online classes over the past few years with various instructors and while i’ve learned a lot in fits and spurts, i need a deep dive. when i did the paid spark course from art2life last year, i thought that’s what i’d be doing but it wasn’t deep enough for me apparently and i couldn’t afford the more expensive CVP class that went deeper following spark. so i’ve been puttering along. when louise’s free taster course came up, i knew i needed to do it to see whether i thought her longer course would do me any good. i didn’t go into it thinking i would take the longer class. but, after just the first exercise, i was ready to sign up! no hemming and hawing this time, no worrying about how i will pay for it (i mean, i am worried but i didn’t let it stop me). i just signed up and i’ll figure out how to pay for it in due time.

i’m still trying to complete the exercises from the 8 day free class as i was dog sitting last week and wasn’t able to spend time in the studio as i normally do. but i should have time in the next few days to finish that up and get to the pre-work for the paid class, which officially starts on the 18th. so stay tuned as i’m sure i will keep posting about it either here or on my art insta as the 12 weeks progress.

and as i mentioned in the insta post, if you feel moved to support me on this journey, there’s a ko-fi button on this page or feel free to just use venmo or paypal. i’ve already taken the financial plunge so it’s not dependent on people supporting me but i know i have folks in my life who like to support my creative journey so if that’s you, i will humbly accept any financial support anyone wants to offer.

here’s to doing scary things! whew!

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!