the end of cvp… and onto the academy!

this is not really a review or even wrap-up of the 12-week online class cvp (creative visionary program) but rather it is just my now what? kinda post. i think it’s gonna take me a while to be able to really assess how i feel about the overall program and how i did with it, because i’m still doing it. i got behind, skipped over a few assignments here and there, and have not finished my final series… so i still have a ways to go. life got in the way – well really, work got in the way, mostly. my pet biz has been really busy and i’ve had an uncharacteristic amount of overnight sitting, which i don’t really like doing but which is financially very lucrative so sometimes i say yes. but when i do it, i’m not really living at my house and therefore not able to spend time in my studio cuz i’m being paid to spend my time with clients’ pets. hopefully july will allow me to get back into my home studio groove. but all this is to say, i’ll do another post at a later date about how i feel about the class and my progress.

a few shots from my art instagram (@artbymagsdotcom) from the past few weeks

but yeah, cvp is over. last week was the last week of classes and the wrap-up call was this past tuesday. i have access to the materials until march of next year though, so i can go back over anything i haven’t finished or feel i need more work on. i haven’t really done that so much with the last class i took, find your joy, which i lose access to in august right before she offers her free class and the 2024 version of find your joy. but i don’t really feel i want to anymore. i think i’d rather keep the momentum i have going with art2life and cvp. like i feel like i’ve found my community that i vibe with. i tried fletcher’s community art tribe for a some months before i took find your joy and while i appreciate all that it offered (masterclasses in all kinds of things, group challenges, members’ studio tours, etc – just tons of content plus a facebook group), it seemed mostly based in the uk and europe and i just never felt quite like it fit me. art2life is based in california and while there are people from all over the world involved in all the art2life courses, for whatever reasons i just feel more at home in this community.

there is also a membership-type community with art2life like fletcher’s art tribe – it’s called the academy. but it’s only available to those who have gone through cvp, which somewhat limits the membership. (i think they said there’s about 1800 in it currently.) it’s sort of the next step, and a way to reinforce what we learned in cvp and also keep in touch with the coaches and community. and unlike cvp, where we did not get any one-on-one feedback other from the other cvp students – we are taught how to critique ourselves – in the academy you can get feedback from coaches on weekly calls. there’s also another perk called the studio (which can be done separately for a lower fee if you don’t want to be in the academy) where you basically can dial in to a 24/7 available zoom to paint with other artists, which i think is pretty cool. painting is a very solitary endeavor and it can get lonely; not everyone can afford a studio in a space with a lot of other artists, and not everyone lives in a city or area where there is a thriving artist community. so this offers a way to connect to and grow a community of other artists who are working with your same vocabulary about art, because we’ve all taken cvp.) nick wilton himself – the art guru at the helm of art2life – even makes appearances in the studio painting for hours on end with others.

i wasn’t initially thinking i’d sign up for the academy because i feel like i still have so much work to do to “finish” cvp but i went ahead and signed up today for at least one month and if i feel like it’s just too much or i won’t really use it or i’d just rather wait til next year, i can cancel within 30 days and get my money back. i mean, i do really love the idea of it and look forward to checking it out to see if i think it will help me stay focused, stay on track, and keep painting. but i also haven’t made much of a dent in the cost of cvp which i put on my paypal credit hoping to pay it off within 6 months to avoid financing charges – it’s due at the end of september. so adding another monthly art charge on top of all that i need to come up with to pay off cvp… well, it doesn’t seem smart. but hey, i didn’t know how i was gonna pay off find your joy either and i managed to do it without any financing fees. so maybe i’ll pull it off.

i just need to get painting, need to actually finish some things that i can put up for sale. because i did recently sell an abstract piece i made in 2023 on etsy. it was one of my favorite pieces i’ve ever made in an abstract style and i even submitted it last year to the art2life online art show. (it was not selected. but that just goes to prove that rejection from a juried show is not an indication of a piece’s worth.) so i know there is an audience out there for my abstract work. i just need to fight through the resistance i’m experiencing to actually finish.

hopefully july and august will be a bit kinder schedule-wise to my art endeavors. it’s such a hard balance, wanting to scale back the pet biz so i have more time for art but also needing the pet biz to not just pay my bills but also fund my art endeavors. but the pet biz takes me away (literally) from my art endeavors. this is the struggle i’ve been in for the past decade or so with my art, but i’m closer than i’ve ever been to figuring it out and i feel better armed with art knowledge than i’ve ever been. i just need to buckle down.

so that’s where i’m at right now. i will at some future point go into much greater detail about the cvp program itself and my experience with it, and now that i’ve signed up, i can also tell you more about the academy after i’ve experienced it for some time. but for now, i’m just trying to get through the rest of june and my heavy petsitting schedule. and hopefully get back to painting!

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!

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!

making art my business

hi everyone. now that mardi gras has come and gone, it’s time to get back to the business of making art, and working on the actual business of my art.

to that end, i just finished a free online class from jessica serran who is an artist and coach who does various online courses throughout the year. i took another of her free offerings last summer called “5 days to jaw dropping art” and i felt it was pretty helpful and i made a piece of art that i still love. so when this one popped up in my feeds, i decided to sign up. i can use all the help i can get! and, well, i love free!

this one was called “artists on the rise: a 5-day deep dive to discover what it takes to create your epic art career.” (yes, her class titles are a bit wordy.) the class actually goes for about 3 weeks if you include the pre-class exercises and the post-class sales pitches for the paid course. like most of these online art courses, it centers around a facebook group where everyone who signs up can interact with jessica (the coach), the artist support team (artists who have taken the class already and help manage the facebook group), and each other. each day of the challenge you post your responses there as a sort of accountability, but also cuz there’s a prize giveaway at the end as motivation if you complete everything. sadly, i did not win any of the prizes. lol

but a lot of what jessica teaches is really great, especially if you are someone who has struggled to figure out how to turn your love of art and art making into a business that can support you. not everyone has this goal, and i only half the time think i do, which is probably why i haven’t ever really achieved it. i’ve never fully committed. i came the closest when i was a crafter and in the new orleans craft mafia, in those years post katrina when all that insurance money was flowing and folks were really wanting to support each other and rep new orleans as it rebuilt. i had become burnt out on my music journalism and DJ career even before katrina, so focusing on making things was both fun and therapeutic in that high-stress time. though i made a good deal of money during that time selling my wares, most of it was eaten up by “commuting” back and forth between louisville, ky and new orleans for three years, and a few years after i moved back home to new orleans, my personal life fell apart and i had to kind of abandon my creative stuff in favor of trying to build my pet business into something that could sustain me. (my ex-partner had been supporting me; i had no “real” job at the time.) the pet biz obviously worked out, for which i’m grateful; but now all these years later as time keeps on a ticking and i grow older, i feel like i’m running out of time to find out if i really could be an artist full time. (i’m also feeling very burnt out on the pet biz and my body is less able to keep up with the physical rigors of the job, which i fear will only get worse as i age.)

sometimes i feel so certain that it’s the dream i’ve had all my life, since college, when i first fell in love with painting and printmaking and photography. and sometimes i honestly feel like i would be happier if i didn’t have this urge, this compulsion, to create things and try to express myself AND SELL THESE THINGS. that maybe i should just keep my art to myself, for my personal self growth, and not complicate things by trying to sell stuff. i mean that’s kind of what i did for the past decade or so anyways; when i started the pet biz, i went several years without creating a damned thing, just working all the time and building my pet biz up and enjoying having a steady income. and then slowly over time, the urge to create kept nagging at me, so i started to make stuff again. and then cuz i can’t stop myself, i started posting online about what i was making. and people were encouraging and said they liked it and offered money, and boom, suddenly i’m back in the game of making stuff and selling it. but it’s been sporadic, and as a business, my art biz hasn’t made a profit in a really long time.

so for the past few years as i’ve ramped up my art practice again to be something more consistent, i’ve felt like i wanted to try to make the art biz turn a profit. and then i get caught up again in the dream of it being my life, my sole job, which is appealing since i’m so so burnt out on the pet biz now at the 14 year mark. but trying to make a living doing nothing but art is not easy. many people fail at it. and many successful artists still have their day jobs to pay the bills. cuz being “successful” as an artist doesn’t always translate to consistent sales.

all of this led me to be interested in jessica’s free class. on the first of the five days, she challenges you to come up with what your throughline is with your art – regardless of medium or discipline or subject. why do you do this and what is it that comes through in everything you make? figuring out what that is can then help you when writing an artist bio/statement and so the challenge is basically to do that, write a future-you artist statement. this exercise was really hard for me and i still feel like i need to go back and really figure that one out.

the second day was all about money, examining our relationship with money in our past and what we want it to be in our future. the exercise was to set some future-you money goals and then reverse-engineer how to do it, i.e. i wanna make x amount of money a year selling my art, so how many pieces of art do i need to sell at x amount to achieve that? and she pushes us to realize selling fewer larger pieces is easier than selling a ton of smaller pieces or prints, and that we are most likely undercharging for what we make. that we need to let go of the starving artist mentality and replace it with the well-resourced artist, making good money for our creations. that one just felt like fantasizing, frankly – i still see no real way for that to happen anytime soon. like maybe after 10 years of being super successful, but not now. because my friends and supporters are used to my prices being accessible/low, and i feel that bumping them up a lot would alienate a lot of the folks who’ve been with me for a long time on this journey. but i do also see that i can’t make a business plan out of selling $50 original paintings. so i’m going to try to be better about charging rates for my original work that are more fair to me, while not being outrageous either.

the third day was a challenge to reach out to previous buyers of our work and ask them why they bought it, what do they like about it, what does it do for them? i reached out to a few people; one replied. another friend volunteered when they saw my post on IG. we were supposed to have three but i never got any more responses so i just had the two. but they were both great. and honestly, i already know the answer to those questions for most people who buy my work, because they tell me all the time. my work brings them joy, makes them smile/happy, and the works that have words/messages on them serve as reminders to themselves or affirmations. no one said this but i’d venture to say some things i’ve created also help give buyers a sense of community or self-expression. these are all wonderful things to know that my work does for people – it’s really all i’ve ever hoped to do with what i make. make a connection, spread some joy and happiness or offer a message or an affirmation, channeling the light of the universe. it’s simple and kinda hokey but it’s true. (these things are basically my throughline in all the work i’ve done since my 20s.) but the point of this exercise is that these things that my art does for others, it’s worth something, has a value, that i should be charging for accordingly.

the fourth day we took an inventory of all the unsold artwork in our studios, gave them new prices (the higher, you-are-worth-it numbers), and totaled it up. mine came to about $8K which was low compared to most in the class but i didn’t get through all the paper pieces i made in the FYJ class and in the past year or two. (and i probably didn’t adjust the prices high enough.) and then the second part of the challenge is to list 33 ways you can start selling all that work TODAY. things that would take less than 10 minutes to do. i thought it would be hard to come up with 33 but once i got going it was pretty easy, as most of it was listing things in various places online. but the first was listing it all on etsy and then the others would be listing the etsy shop in a million places. there were other things, like starting a mailing list and posting online to get signups, which you may have seen me do last week. (there’s also a signup form on this page to the right.) now nothing guarantees if i list everything for sale that it will sell, but the concept is that action/movement invites the universe to support you, and you certainly aren’t going to sell any of it as it just sits in your studio gathering dust. so i am going to spend the listing fees to list as much as i can in the coming weeks as i have time. listing fees are for 4 months on etsy and i figure that should be enough time to see if it’s worth giving etsy another shot. (i do eventually want to have an ecommerce store on my own website but that will take much longer to figure out; etsy was the easy and fast option.)

on the last day of the 5 day class, the “inspired action” we were to take was to do 3 things from the list we came up with the day before, and then to note how it felt and what, if any, response there was. for me, i did make a signup form/link to my future art newsletter and posted it out to facebook, instagram and twitter… and the response was that a few people signed up. (now a week later, about 20 of my actual friends signed up but a bunch of random strangers and possibly bots did too so now i have more than 100 on my email list, which was my goal to have before i write an actual newsletter. i want to get a few things listed on etsy before i write the newsletter though, so that’s the homework for this weekend.) so that action felt good to do and great to get a response to.

the second action i wanted to take was to list 3 things on etsy, which i have started to do but since i have neglected my etsy shop for so long i realized it is outdated, so requires me going in and overhauling my profile and settings. also etsy is a lot more glitchy than it used to be so it’s certainly taken me more time than 10 minutes to get even one thing listed. but i will keep at it this weekend.

and the third thing was to check in with a few folks who’d expressed interest in some paintings i’d posted on instagram a while back, which i haven’t yet done but i will do so this weekend.

all of these are/were good exercises to do, and i will keep going over them as i move on. i took notes throughout the class on my ipad so i printed them out and pasted them into my studio journal so i’d have an easy reference to look back at.

i actually thought long and hard about whether to try to find a way to pay for jessica’s coaching program. the total amount ($11k for 12 months) is overwhelming and even the monthly payments of $1k/month felt ridiculous for me, as that’s more than i pay in rent each month. and as i am right now, i barely make ends meet paying my bills. i could charge one or two months on credit cards in hopes that working her program and buckling down could net me the money to cover it, but once i got a look at what her workbooks look like, the pace of work contained in the course month by month, i just realized i’m not ready to commit to something like that, especially considering my day job and all that i already have planned for the next several months. and i’m just not there yet with my current art work, like i am still just in the playing-with-paint phase of all this abstract stuff and i like being here, i don’t want to be rushed because i have to figure out how to sell it.

i’m sure what she does is great for people who are ready for it, who want a coach and a step-by-step program to advance their careers. it’s like a bootcamp for artists. or i guess in entrepreneurial terms, it’s an accelerator program. but i’m just not there yet and i have to trust my instincts. i’m not sure i’ll ever get to a place of wanting a program like that, but i’ll stay on her mailing list and keep it on the back burner and see where i am in a year. i’m grateful for the kick in the ass that the free 5 day challenge gave me and feel like that will keep me busy for a while as i continue to paint.

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.