The path of a happy artist -

What does the path of a happy artist look like?

Although we’re all walking the artist path, and many of us go through similar ups and downs, each of us experiences it differently.

And knowing that other artists out there {*waves hands around vaguely*} feel the same in theory isn’t always much help.

Sometimes it’s good to hear the specifics from another artist about their unique practice and process, how they deal with the demons, and to have real life evidence that ‘it’s not just me’.

So today I’m sharing the story of Clare, one of the members of the Happy Artist Studio, who kindly agreed to share her experiences both as an artist and as a member.

It gives me the opportunity to share a new artist with you, and of course, if you’re considering joining us in the membership, it gives you an insight into what’s possible when you do!

Clare Stirzaker painting 1

What was the situation with your art before you joined the Happy Artist Studio? How did you feel about it? And about yourself as an artist?

I was feeling completely overwhelmed with possibilities.

There are so many options to choose from – substrates, materials, tools, courses etc.

I had spent the lockdowns reconnecting with my younger artist self, dabbling mainly with watercolour landscapes and florals, but was feeling more and more a pull towards abstract.

I was following lots of artists on Instagram and really enjoying seeing things that excited me but I was also allowing myself to be bombarded with ideas and I was struggling with how to filter or focus on something.

I had a strong urge to create, but also the company of demons saying – who do you think you are?, you’re not a proper artist, you have no training, you’re nearly a pensioner, why are you wasting time trying this stuff and spending money on too many supplies.

What did you want to change?

I wanted some help with how to feel more in control of my feelings about myself and my work.

I wanted to work out the WHY? and the WHAT?

I wanted to find focus and understand better how to move forward in a more structured and organised way.

Clare Stirzaker painting 2

What made you decide to join the Studio?

I had been following you for ages and had periodically delved on your websites.

There was something about you that spoke to me. You seemed more about helping people than churning out content.

I had been toying with the idea of joining a membership group for a while and then I saw your 21 day challenge at the beginning of 2023.

I took part and it convinced me that your community was the one for me!

Did you have any hesitations before joining? What were they?

Yes, spending the money on myself.

Joining any membership group seemed an extravagance ill-afforded and the Happy Artist Studio was a bit more expensive than other memberships that I was aware of; but in my gut I felt a good deal more aligned, in terms of values, with you than with other artists I was following.

I think by the end of the 21 Day Challenge, I had dipped my toe in the water and put my head above the parapet on Instagram; I’d started to make connections with a few others doing the challenge, and I felt ready to make a leap of faith and ‘join’ something that had the potential to help and stretch me in both a safe and challenging environment.

We (women) are good at looking after others, not so good at looking after ourselves, so, in what felt like a rash moment, I decided I was worth it!  I haven’t regretted it for an instant.

I was also hesitant about ‘joining in’. I’d describe myself as an extreme introvert. I am very self-contained and like to be alone a good deal.

I wondered how much I’d feel obligated to contribute to discussions and ask questions.

I think I must have been reassured by something I read in the communications you were sending out about the HAS, that any ‘joining in’ inside the HAS was entirely optional and many members don’t. This has proved to be true.

I contribute when I feel the urge and also go long periods without even signing in. And more to the point, I haven’t felt any pressure to do otherwise.

Clare Stirzaker painting 3

Was the Studio what you expected? If not, what was different?

Yes and no.

Yes, I had expected and hoped to get access to a library of courses and learning.

I was surprised and delighted by the variety and the fact that it is continually added to and enriched with monthly topics, Q&As and special projects like the Paper Summer which has been so absorbing.

No, with regard to The Way of the Happy Artist.

This aspect was deeper and wider than I could have imagined. It was so helpful to be encouraged to ‘Start Here’, and the cerebral nature of it was the grounding that I needed my attention drawing to.

What would you say is the biggest benefit you’ve received as a result of being a member?

The biggest benefit to me, which may seem insignificant perhaps, is summed up by the word ‘permission’.

I had felt a sense of being ‘lesser’ as an artist and with regard to my work. I am in the fortunate position of not needing to sell my work to eat and have a roof over my head so in the first instance, I am the primary audience for my work.

Despite the fact that I wouldn’t want it any other way, this had somehow evolved to be a hindrance rather than a help to me.

Following The Way of the Happy Artist and other Happy Artist Studio content, in which I find Tara’s approach so relatable, gently encouraging and humane, is enabling me to be kinder to myself and to be less strict about when, how and what I do.

This is allowing me to feel more validated, giving me the freedom to create slowly, mindfully and adopt a more relaxed attitude with myself.

Clare Stirzaker painting 4

What has changed in terms of your art and/or how you feel about it now? And about yourself as an artist?

My art has become more connected to, and derived from, my ‘soul’ for want of a better word. (Actually I like the word soul!)

Working through the worksheets in The Way of the Happy Artist helped me to drill down asking layered ‘Whys’ about myself and my work.

I feel I’ve resurfaced with clearer visions and more self-compassion. I’m in a better relationship with my artist self.

I’m more inclined to allow myself time-out when I’m lacking the hours, inspiration or energy for working.

I worry less that my creative spirit will not return.

I’m finding my way more slowly, letting ideas incubate naturally rather than forcing them, and I’m more willing to experiment with subject-matter and materials without judgement.

All this is bringing me to a more peaceful place sheltered from all the externals in this life.

Clare Stirzaker painting 5

What would you say to someone who was on the fence about joining?

Don’t hesitate. There’s a world and a wealth of opportunity awaiting you and you deserve it.

Your creative spirit needs to be nurtured just as your mind and body need to be taken care of.

In here you will be heard, challenged and supported at a pace that is entirely determined by you. Refuge for the soul.

How would you describe the Happy Artist Studio in your own words?

A warm, safe environment in which to grow and become infinitely more self-aware as an artist (and as a person), with as much or as little company, sharing of ideas and constructive exchange as you desire.

The content is well organised, magnificently fulsome and aesthetically presented. Tara’s experience and wisdom, coupled with her gentle approach feels quite unique.

Clare Stirzaker artist

Find Clare online:

Instagram:  @clare_stirzaker_art

Etsy shop:  Declare Art



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