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!

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!

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!