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!

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!