2016: A year in creative business part two


This is the second riveting instalment of my annual review. You can find part one here.

July

The Happy Artist Movement

I had a revelation on my sofa this month, which led to me writing the post entitled Becoming a happy artist. This was, and remains, my best and most meaningful post ever I think. It tells some of the story of how I got to this point in my life, and why I feel so strongly about the work I do here, and what that means for you. Judging by the comments alone, I’d say it struck a chord for many of us.

Website upgrades

I had thought I was about ready to revamp my website, and started looking for ideas and possible people to help with that. The work I was doing with Kyla, my business coach, was slowly cleaning up the website, clarifying my offers and how the site was used, to the point where I realised my site was just fine the way it is, for now. :)

Part of the clean up operation meant finally getting rid of the classroom setup for my ecourses. I was using a plug in called Wishlist Member, and I loathed it. I can’t tell you how many times I cried because of student issues with accessing the classrooms that were unnecessarily hard to resolve. It also bloated my site with hundreds of extra pages for each course lesson, making the back end a mess. I was longing for something simpler for all of us, and had been researching options {of which there is now a dizzying array} for months.

Finally, I opened an account with Teachery, an easy to use teaching platform, and decided to test it with a free course: Ten Days to Making Art You Love – my most popular free offering to date; over 1000 people have taken it! And it’s had some incredible feedback.

August

Unfinished Projects

On August 3rd, my 100 days of Seaside Art was up – not that that really meant much to me by this point as I’d rather let it fall by the wayside! I include this because there are a lot of challenges around these days, and with the best will in the world we don’t always finish what we set out to do. I know a lot of us feel bad about that, and I want to offer myself as an example of choosing not to, and the world not falling apart. ;)

In all honesty, I joined the challenge because of FOMO {Fear Of Missing Out}, which is never a good basis for starting anything. I was aware of that at the time, but wanted to have a go anyway, out of curiosity. I suspected I wouldn’t do 100 consecutive days, because that’s not how I do anything, and I was right. But I enjoyed what I did do and learned some new things, and I think that’s what counts.

Travel plans

This was also the month I booked a six week trip to Mexico and Florida, almost on a whim. My plans to road trip around New England were still not coming together, despite kind help from some US friends who live in the area. I threw out a question on Instagram asking for recommendations for winter sunshine, and when my friend Kelsey suggested Sayulita, the trip seemed almost to book itself, it happened so fast!

I have a theory that goes ‘when it’s right it happens quickly and easily’, and this was a classic example. It all fell into place with minimum effort from me, and was not just a wonderful and enriching experience, but signified a key turning point for me as I rediscovered my passion for travel.

September

A 7 day challenge

As a way of spreading the word about the upcoming launch of my newest course, Touchstone, I ran The 7 Day Challenge: Make a mini painting series this month. The premise was that many of us wish we made more consistent art, but many of us are also commitment-phobes who still want to play and dabble in All The Things! It’s a very common paradox. So I thought, well, we can all manage one week of pursuing a single idea, right?

And it was a huge success! Far more so than I imagined. Those who joined in really engaged with the whole concept, and many were delighted by what they’d created by the end of the week. There were lots of aha moments and discoveries about what we are actually capable of. I’m planning to run this one again, which for this particular commitment-phobe proves how good it was!

7 Days Challenge collage of participants' work

Some of the amazing work that came out of the challenge. Clockwise from top left: Jennifer Edwards, Ann Nemcosky, Sophie Kerdellant, Gina Axlund, Shalagh Hogan

 

My Spectrum workshop

This was the month my workshop for Hali Karla’s Spectrum series was released to those who signed up. If you purchased the workshops from a link on this website, thank you so much for supporting me and many other independent artists! And I hope you enjoyed the workshop. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out – my filming skills are slowly improving!

A few years ago the idea of collaborating was too nerve-wracking and felt too much like giving up control {wow I must’ve been fun to be around then!}. Now, having joined in with several, including 21 Secrets with Connie Solera, and the Color for Clarity  colouring book project with Kristal Norton, I absolutely love partnering up with other artists to create products that support you on your individual creative journey.

October

Touchstone’s First Outing

At last Touchstone was ready to rock, and thirty something brave people decided to jump in! It’s always nerve wracking opening registration for a course, but even more so when it’s the first time you’ve run it and you’ve no idea if it’s actually going to be helpful. The demons get loud at these times, but since they’re going to have a go anyway, I just carry on with them grumbling along beside me.

Thankfully it was a success! By which I mean it did seem to help the participants; there were several aha moments and a great deal of in depth interesting discussion. {If you’re an inward quester this course will be right up your street!}

Since not everyone can take courses at the times specified, I have since set it up so you can take it any time and go at your own pace. I plan to run the course ‘live’ {ie. between two set dates} once a year, probably in the autumn, but it’s available all year round {albeit without the dedicated Facebook group}.

Part of my demo project for the Touchstone course

Part of my demo project for the Touchstone course

The Big Trip

This was also the month I went to Mexico and Florida. The premise – apart from escaping at least part of the British winter – was to spend time working on a book idea that’s been hovering around for ages, and to see how feasible it would be to work and travel at the same time.

There was some writing done, but I discovered the book and I are not in the same place right now. However, I also learned that I can indeed work wherever there’s internet, outside of filming for courses and working on larger canvases. I loved keeping up my sketchbook while I was away, but did miss working larger.

I also realised that travel and workshops go together! I took two – one to make a macramé wall hanging, and one to learn encaustic art. The latter had been on my bucket list for years, so that was especially exciting. What was also interesting was considering whether I might actually be the one running the workshops at some point. For the past few years – and probably my whole life actually – the idea of running a workshop has been utterly anathema. And yet now it isn’t. So we’ll see where that goes.

This month I also started doing audio versions of longer posts, which has had some great feedback. It’s like my version of a podcast. :)

Making art in Florida

Making art at my Airbnb in Florida

November

Jet Lag and Creative Intensity

I came home mid November and found I needed a couple of weeks to get myself back into a home rhythm. I’d naively thought a week would do it, so that was a lesson learned for next time.

Once I was right side up again though, I found the creativity pouring out of me! I knew travel was good for my creativity, but this was crazy! In fact, as I write this post in December, I’m still in the thick of it.

Something about winter makes me want to hunker down and make things with my hands. I found myself buying courses in clay and plaster, and unexpectedly becoming obsessed with weaving. I bought myself a little loom {and then a bigger one!}, and have been weaving every night since. I am gathering so many I decided to put them in my Etsy shop, which I also updated with books and cards.

Your Creative Year

This was the third year I decided to make the creativity tracker I call ‘My Creative Year‘ – a kind of non-planner for artist and creatives like me who resist rigid planning but like some sense of where we’ve been and where we’d like to be going! At time of writing over 700 people have clicked the link to download it, so I guess there are quite a few of us! You can download your own copy free at the link above.

December

This month has so far been about weaving, painting, and conducting an experiment.

I decided to switch my Artist Inspired course to pay what you like pricing. At this time of year two things seem to be in short supply – money and time. And yet to me, this is a time when we most need to be taking some of that money and time for ourselves. I know that can feel selfish, but without filling our own wells we will have very little to offer loved ones when it’s time to be festive! And if you’re reading this blog, then one of your well filling activities is likely to be making art.

Artist Inspired, with its series of spaced out short lessons you can expand according to how much time you have, and because it’s now available at a price of your choosing, is my way of offering a means of filling your well within those two constraints. Quite a few people have already taken up the offer {yay!}, and have started sharing their joyfully made art in the Facebook group. You are of course welcome to join us too!

Artist Inspired course student work

Artist Inspired student work. L-R: Inspired by Matisse, from Ginny; Inspired by Klimt, from Jane; Inspired by Chagall, from Saskia

So here we are at the end of the year! Thank you for joining me for part of this meandering creative road we’re all walking, and I hope to see you again next year. I have a new course in the works {hint: it will involve a lot of charcoal!}, and plans to run both Abstractify and Touchstone on specific dates {TBC}. There will be challenges to join, I’ll be doing more travelling {starting with a painting course in Cornwall in January!}, and I’m intending to make more videos for you next year too.

Happy festive season to you, and may the year ahead be filled with creative joy!

 

Hello artist friend!

 

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