by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

Artists make art.  Successful artists will also network.  Networking isn’t just about who you know but who knows you.  It’s a super powerful marketing tactic that will help you succeed.  A smart business person knows that they need to make connections and build long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

 

Developing personal relationships enables you to stand out in the crowd.  You’ll end up standing out amongst all of the junk mail and advertising clutter, for example, because of the personal connections you have made.  Above all else, people pay attention to and enjoy doing business with those that they like and trust.  They even enjoy helping you succeed.



Connecting with people is great but then you must continually cultivate the relationships in order for networking to truly help you succeed.  Here are a few reasons why you should network:

Establish contacts
Develop resources
Get new ideas
Find inspiration
Get referrals
Make yourself visible
Hone your elevator speech
Generate new opportunities
Make new friends
 
So as an artist, should you network? You don’t have to but you should if you would like your artistic career to be a successful one.  A good network is really just a circle of helpful friends.

 

“Our art is always communicating, and we need to be conscious of what its message is.”

 

—John Daido Loori, The Zen of Creativity

As part of the continuing discussion of how Zen philosophy can enrich our artistic life,  I want to share John Daido’s concept of the Jeweled Mirror—the importance of listening to feedback about our art, in order to understand how others see our work.

I had an outstanding professor once—Charles Moone, who was head of the art department at UCD.   One of the very valuable things he taught me was that our art has a story to tell.  He said that it was important to pay attention to that story, and then when we had learned what we needed to, the art would be ready to move on to the next person, to tell them the story they needed to hear.

Allow me to share an experience I had about this concept.

One afternoon, when I was sitting for my show at my gallery in Denver, a gentleman and his wife came in.  They wandered slowly from piece to piece, discussing their impressions quietly.  They stopped in front of a canvas that I had entitled “Winter of Listening” after David Whyte’s beautiful poem.   The gentleman said, “I can see a jazz musician in this!”  I walked over to him and started to explain what had inspired the work—the feelings invoked by a quiet scene of a winter forest—but he said, “No.  I am a jazz musician.  I see someone playing a saxophone in this painting.”

Once again, I was humbled by the lesson of the Jeweled Mirror—that our art has a message to offer that may be perceived individually by the person who is seeing what they need to see.  This creative feedback is invaluable if we are to allow the work itself to speak to the viewer.

Have you had the experience of the Jeweled Mirror—where someone sees something different in your art than you had intended?  If so, what was that like for you?

 

by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

Many artists try to grow their business or overcome problems by putting in more hours and working harder. Crazy, right? A better way to grow is to know when it’s time to make changes and find solutions that will move you forward. 

Pastel Painting by Karen Spotts, www.karenspotts.com

Many artists try to grow their business or overcome problems by putting in more hours and working harder. Crazy, right? A better way to grow is to know when it’s time to make changes and find solutions that will move you forward. 

The need for change can happen at any time and for any reason.  Here are three (of many) indicators that it's time for change:​

1. Your income is slowly and continually dropping.  We all experience slower periods throughout the year, however, if you are on a continual downward spiral, it is a good idea to re-evaluate what you are doing and pinpoint the cause for drop in sales.

2. Other artists (competitors) you didn't think twice about are surpassing you. When other artists are selling like crazy, obtaining great gallery representation, and are suddenly getting more recognition than you are, you best regroup.  Research what it is that your competition is doing better.  Perhaps using their tactics while putting your own spin on them will help your business turn around.

3. Past and potential art collectors do not contact you.  If you haven't kept in contact with your collectors then you are out of sight and therefore out of mind.   Think about reconnecting with collectors and all of the ways you can entice new ones.

Now What?  ​
Find the right solutions.  It's time to formulate a solid plan.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you make the appropriate changes:

  • What are the number one needs/wants of my collectors?

  • Why is my business experiencing slow growth and/or declining sales?

  • Can I make needed changes with my current resources?

 There are also many types of people such as your customers and mentors who you can ask to help you find solutions to your business problems.  Do you have problems with your art business and don't know where to begin?  Feel free to contact us at ArtCoaching for You.  We are here to help.

 

You scratch your head and look at the painting you’ve just done.  It isn’t working.  Maybe too much blue?  Or the shapes aren’t quite right.  Oh dear.  Looks like the last one, and the last one, and the one before that.  Gone is the pizazz.  The joyous recognition that something Has Happened.  Why bother? you say.  This proves I’m not good enough.  Maybe I should quit altogether.

Tell me now.  Hasn’t everyone experienced something similar to this at one point or another?  

The truth is that we all can get bogged down from time to time in our creative expression.  Sometimes all we need to do is to shift things a bit to revive our spirits. 

So here are some ways you can do that!

1) Try something new
If you have been painting for awhile, consider doing something different.   How about doing something three-dimensional—like basket-weaving or working with a bit of clay? Or take a class in something entirely new. Sometimes just manipulating new and different materials or working with a different perspective can free up constrictions about what creativity is supposed to look like.

2) Let yourself play
Giving ourselves permission to create without any restrictions can bring our Inner Child out of the corner.  That’s what coloring books are for!  Or Zentangles.  Or knitting with colorful, bright materials.  Sometimes even a trip to the local art store can provide us with a basket-full of wonderful new art materials to experiment with.

3) Take yourself out on artist dates…
…either with friends or by yourself.  How long has it been since you visited a show at the museum?  Or some galleries with exciting new work that can inspire your imagination.  Or taken a new class.  Anything that can evoke our curiosity is also potential fuel for the imagination to get fired up…again.

4) Give yourself time to rest
Seriously!  Our busy, busy lives rob us of our vitality.  Between personal and professional responsibilities and the seemingly never-ending negative drain of the news, we get depleted.  Going to work in our studios is the last thing we want to do.  And besides, artists need solitude.  They need quiet time, where they are just attending to the the natural world and taking it all in.  It’s called Hushing and Holding, Finding Still Point, Seeing with the Whole Body and Mind. The secret is that we are always creating, even if we think we aren’t. 

All these practices are important to cultivate, to nourish our creative spirits.  The good thing is that, creativity doesn’t have to look like one thing.

And, maybe you are just needing a little nudge, a little support with your art career or creative process.  That’s where we can help.  And we’d love to do that!  So feel free to contact us at ArtCoaching for You.

 

Guest post by Jessica Loving-Campos

Jessica and her husband Chris own (in)spire graphics. ArtCoaching for You is so very happy to be collaborating with them.

We all have that all important albeit exhausting juggle and struggle: it’s the balancing act of our art and our art business. And sometimes it can be a little tricky to switch between these two modes. For many of us, the art making realm is where we tend to live. It’s creative, challenging, rewarding and fueled by passion and necessity. It comes from our center. This can easily take all of our time. And in falling into this, we tend to ignore the important business side. Putting energy into this aspect of your business — the business of art — will help you better connect with potential collectors, galleries and important opportunities. 

Let’s talk business about your, well, business. And naturally, the best place to start is your brand.What is it? What does it say about you?

It’s hard to conjure up just how important a visual identity is. As artists, though, I think we all get it. It’s immensely important and a simple image — well, it can convey so much. Our brains house countless records of little icons; it’s known that a child too young to read can still understand the meaning of a rather lengthy list of logos they are confronted with. This points to the simple fact that this visual identifying system is profound and lasting. A nicely designed graphic will fuse your art business’ principles with a functional and visually interesting icon. And in using this — and  — using it often, you will develop snap recognition and a reputation without ever saying a word. It’s that powerful. You want it to be something unique, targeted and specific to your artwork. Having a professionally developed logo will serve as a supportive marketing element; it will offer your potential collectors a glimpse into what you do as an artist. 

How might you use it? A logo should accompany all of your marketing pieces. Postcards, business cards and websites. It will show the world that you’re professional; that you have a well articulated brand.

Take a step back. How are you presenting yourself to potential collectors and gallery owners? Does your marketing material adhere to a specific theme, or rather, branded aesthetic? Do you have a logo that accompanies your printed materials and is emblazoned on your website? If not, consider this notion of a brand. It’s a great place to start.  

Like what our guest blogger has offered you? Check out www.inspiregraphics.net for more great information.

 

Many artists are familiar with the fear of failure.  We might ask ourselves what does failure look like in our creative lives?  

  • Fear of not having our paintings turn out “right”? 

  • Of not being able to capture the essential essence of what it is that we may be seeing or feeling?

  • Of not being able to master a medium?

  • Of not having our work accepted by others, or being rejected by galleries or not selling our work in a show?  

 

Do any of these strike home?

While fear of failure is a perfectly normal fear, a normal anxiety, it’s essential to learn how to come to grips with it so that we don’t end up getting blocked or stalled in our creative process.  And since it is such a common thing to experience, if we realize that is part of our creative process, we can learn how to say hello to the nagging little voices inside that love to terrify us, but then also to say goodbye to them too.

While we probably think of failure as something that is unsavory, we can also learn from it.  I’ve just stumbled onto an address that J.K. Rowling gave as the 2008 Commencement speech to Harvard University, on “The Benefits of Failure.”  It is a compelling address, in which she brings to home her own profound failures and what she learned from them.  Here are some highlights of what she has to say:

—“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.  So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

—“Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea then how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.”

—“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

— “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

—“Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

—“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.”

(You can read the speech in its entirety here).
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/06/text-of-j-k-rowling-speech/

If J.K. Rowling can fess up to the sense of failure she has experienced in her life, she also give us permission to examine our own beliefs about that fear…and perhaps shift them in a way that we no longer see them as burdensome, but possibly hold many gifts in store, waiting for us to discover.

That’s where we can help.  And we’d love to do that!  To jump start your art career or creative expression, contact us at ArtCoaching for You 

 

by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

Neptunian, by Jessica Loving, mixed media on canvas, 48" x 48"

When I first meet with ArtCoaching for You clients, the first topic many  want to address is quitting their day job to make and sell their artwork.
Once finding myself in this same situation, I knew what I wanted and developed a plan to become a full time professional artist. 

The most important first step towards becoming a full time artist is to make art! Make lots of it.  You’ll not only become better at what you do but all of the inventory will come in handy when you approach your market.

Before quitting your job, you should set aside a nest egg that you can use until your art business becomes self-sustaining. You can also take the route I did and wean yourself away from “the job” until it is no longer needed as a source of income.

Thirdly, begin displaying your art in places that make it look fantastic.  Places where art buyers and art sellers (aka galleries, art consultants etc.) will see it. These places may at first be home studio shows and non-juried shows, or local businesses.  These venues are all great places to exhibit in order to begin getting name recognition. 

Next you need to convince art buyers just how serious you are about your art business.  It is now time to produce evidence of this.  Apply to major juried art exhibits, get your artwork reviewed by a publication, approach galleries and have them represent you on a full time basis, work with art consultants, license your artwork, become an art instructor in the medium you have mastered, have a yearly one person exhibit of your art, and so on. Bottom line is to grow your resume.  Collectors and art dealers love to see this!  

What steps do you need to take so that you can start your art career?  Need a few personalized tips to get you started?   We are here for you.   Feel free to contact us through our website www.artcoachingforyou.com

 

We are currently vacationing in New Mexico, staying at a VRBO in lovely El Rito, situated conveniently between the beautiful hot springs, Ojo Caliente, and Abiquiu, which is just south of Ghost Ranch.  Everything is springing into new life: the birds are singing their lovely courting songs, the cottonwoods are budding out and getting greener every day, the fruit trees are glorious. The light and land fills me with a combination of peace and possibility and vitality.  This is a place where I get to just Be.  A place where I can give myself permission to rest and set aside all the duties, obligations, shoulds and have-to’s and duties.  It’s a place where I can look out over the fields to the distant mountains and nurture my creative spirit.

We all need these places and times to restore ourselves. People often think that they have to be Doing something all the time in order to create—you know, like going to the studio every day and churning out another painting.  But as I have discussed in many past blogs, there is ample evidence that creatives need solitude.  Quiet time to find the Still Point.  Time to Hush and Hold.  Time in to take things in and observe and let Wonder unravel itself.  Time to feed our Deep Desire to Create.

The Green-Tailed Towhee over there on the juniper raises its glorious little head, opens its beak, and trills gratitude toward the morning sun, the green pastures beyond, the sound of rushing water from the swollen rivers everywhere.  Across the fields, a farmer in a cowboy hat walks under the greening cottonwoods and purple willows.  He’s carrying a shovel on his shoulder—probably for digging out debris that has clogged the irrigation ditches.  My beautiful dog Brighty lies snoozing in the sun at my feet.  It’s time to be Happy.  Time to take in life and just hang out. 

*****
So…if you feel ready to let yourself be nurtured in your creative process, contact us at artcoachingforyou.com

 

by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

So much of the business we do today is done digitally and slightly impersonal.  Having a business card at the ready is a personal way to make a connection and a lasting impression.  Here are five mistakes to avoid when making business cards for your art business.

1. The design is inconsistent with your brand.  Does your business card reflect the look and feel of your brand.  If your website and product (your art) have a certain look, your card should reflect this.  Branding should be consistent.  Do you have a logo or use certain colors?  These should be present on your business card which, by the way, is a marketing tool.

2. There is too much information included.  Just like with your art, it is important to have
space on the card where the eye can rest.  Including all of your contact information, more than a few images of your artwork and other information is only going to overwhelm the viewer.  Keep the information you give to a minimum.  Besides, the card is a means for the receiver to obtain more information by going to your website for example.

3. Printed on poor quality paper.  You do not have to have your cards printed on the thickest paper stock available.  However, a paper that does not feel strong is going to reflect upon your brand.  You want people to feel that they are going to get "quality" product and service from you.  Impress with "quality" paper stock.

Remember, your business card is a tangible representation of your business.  Hand them out to everyone!  They are meant to be circulated so that you can bring more traffic to your website, art festivals, and gallery shows resulting in more sales.  Carry them with you and give them away. Always

 

Our friend, Albert is right!  Creativity is an intelligence unique unto itself, that gets to play…if we can just learn how to maintain its Well-Being.

I have just attended an exciting week-long workshop called “Your Brain on Ink” about the power we have to shape our minds toward positive intention and action through the writing process.  Led by the brilliant Kathleen Adams and Deborah Ross, who co-authored the book of the same name, one of the central concepts of the workshop focused on The Four Keys to Well-Being, developed by Dr. Richard Davidson from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, who asserts that “well-being is a skill that can be practiced and strengthened.”  Dr. Davidson’s Four Keys to Well-Being include Resilience, Outlook, Attention, and Generosity.

I believe that these same Keys can be applied to the creative process, and that if we become conscious of them and actively work to strengthen them, they can empower enduring change in how we tend to our creative work in the world.

Let’s look briefly at how each of them might apply to our creative expression.

Resilience: If we are going to create, it’s essential to develop flexibility about how we see our work and how we put it out into the world.  We all know that Stuff Happens in life: we can get derailed, distracted, discouraged, overwhelmed  We might question why we are even creating, much less the meaning we intend to bring into the world.  If we can develop resiliency, then we can get back to the heart of the process that inspired us in the first place.

Outlook: Cultivating positive attitude is essential in the making of our art.  If we go toward the process by maximizing the potential that comes through and outlook built on curiosity and exploration, we can shift the way we view the territory of creative endeavor.

Attention: Attention Management is an essential part of the focus that we need to cultivate as artists.  If we constantly succumb to the shoulds and musts of life, then those distractions can keep us from attending to the here and now…to the wonder of our world, and the things that inspire us to create.

Generosity: Since our artistic expression is a gift that has been given to us, it is essential that we learn to be kind to ourselves, by doing things like shifting unreasonable expectations and learning how to manage negative self-talk, perfectionism, procrastination, and fear.

It is so very important for us to realize that we have the power to nurture our deep creative desire by tending to each of these aspects of our well-being.  Stay tuned for more to come on these topics in future blogs!

In the meantime, visit us at artcoachingforyou.com to find out more about how we can help you with your art career and creative process.

 

by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

As professional artists we are very concerned about selling our art.  This is after all how we survive isn't it?  Being a successful artist is much more than selling.  When looking at the bigger picture we need to consider what it feels like to be the collector or appreciator of our art.  This is where brand loyalty comes into play.  

In order for a customer, aka collector, to want to collect from you again, it's important that you lead that customer into a relationship with your brand.  As with any relationship you can't expect the relationship to be one sided.  It just won't last.  Your brand, therefore, will want to give back some love of its own.

Lucky for you, customer appreciation can take many forms.  There are many ways to show customers that you care about them and it doesn't need to be expensive. Here's a list to get those wheels of yours spinning:
 

  • hand written letters

  • freebies

  • prenotification of artwork releases

  • private event

  • share their stories

  • birthday specials

  • go to them

  • relax your return policy

  • give to a charitable foundation

  • send a gift card just because


Remember, in order to brand yourself, you need to keep it personal to your art business.  There are so many ways to say thank you.  What's yours?

 

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.”

—Steven Pressfield

The same thing happens every year.  I have a show at SYNC Gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District.  First Friday attracts an astonishing number of people—sometimes 1,000 people will come through to look at the art.  Sometimes the gallery is packed so tightly, you simply cannot move.  The great thing is watching people come in and react to your art.  Of course, there are people who may not like what you do, and that’s okay.  But the extraordinary thing is that a great number of people will have a reaction that is close to awe and wonder.  They will stand back and look at your work for a long time with excitement or bliss or enchantment, and they will begin to talk with their friends, waving their arms around, moving in close to the paintings to see the texture and color and detail, moving back to get a sense of the whole.  And then they want to talk about it.

The whole thing makes me want to jump for joy, to laugh, to wiggle with delight.  Because, you see, I realize in those moments, that after painting in relative isolation for a year, dealing with doubt and uncertainty and the Unknown throughout the whole process, that what I have done has lifted those people up in a way that I had not anticipated.  It has meant something to them.  It has given them a gift.  And that, in and of itself, is a huge gift to me.

As many artists will agree, it is a scary thing to show your art.  Why?  Because it is like putting your heart out there in a very tangible way.  People can trample all over that vulnerable expression so completely that it can make you want to stop painting and showing your work entirely, to never experience that level of rejection again.  Indeed, many of the artists I work with struggle with the specter of Rejection.  The thing that we all have to learn is to detach from whatever reactions people have toward our art…and to know that however they respond is not really about us.​

That’s why it is utterly thrilling to engage in conversation with people about the process of making art, to answer questions about what inspired the work, to find out what they love to create, what their dream is.

As Steven Pressfield says in his perfect quote above, “[Our art] is a gift to the world and every being in it.” It’s sublime to experience that.

Visit us at artcoachingforyou.com to find out more about how we can help you with your art career and creative process.

 

Guest post by Marianne Mitchell

Marianne owns Artist Mastery Guide. ArtCoaching for You is thrilled to be collaborating with her.

 

“I am at a point in life where I can devote time and energy to making art, which is both exciting and terrifying!  Where to begin? What is my voice?”

 

“I have been taking lots of art classes but have yet to develop a coherent style.”

 

“I realized that I had all this marketing knowledge without the confidence in my work to promote it effectively.”

 

 

These are comments I often hear from people when talking about honoring their artistic soul, and wanting to be a “successful” artist.

 

The foundation for building an artistic practice, whether it be “just to make art” or to be “commercially successful” is having a deep understanding of your artistic voice while possessing the technical tools of composition, color and mastery of medium(s) to convey your unique expression. Marketing efforts are most effective when you can confidently engage people through authentic passion and conviction in your work.

 

 

OWN your core expression.

Knowing what you want to express and why you want to express this vision is crucial to making any form of art connect emotionally and intellectually both for you, and for others who experience your work.

 

I don’t know where I get inspiration from it just comes out as I paint.

 

A totally valid statement!  And, searching for and ultimately articulating what you want to express yields a sense of confidence about your work that is rooted in this awareness. Once you know what you are trying to convey decisions about composition, color and medium choice(s) become clear, leading to the creation of much more compelling work.

 

 

FOCUS on conveying your voice through craft.

How you manifest your core expression - artistic voice –relies upon your ability to employ the technical aspects of composition, color and mastery of medium(s). These are the grammatical tools that give form to what you want to express.

 

By mastering these tools, knowing when your piece is finished and what it is about, you can confidently participate in conversations generated by your work and promote it with intelligent, authentic enthusiasm.

 

 

ENGAGE the world with your art.

There are artists who create for their own pure enjoyment. There are artists who create with a specific message in mind to share with the world, and everything in between.  Knowing what you want to express and how to manifest that expression leads to…

 

How do I want to show up in the world with my art?

 

Engaging people with your work and enacting a strategic marketing plan is much easier when you know what you want to express and why, and how to employ the technical tools to best communicate your unique voice. 

 

Like what our guest blogger has offered you?  Check out www.artistmasteryguide.com for more information.

 

As artists, we are all uncomfortably familiar with the negative self-talk that we hear within our heads.  This kind of chatter can be debilitating to the point where it can block or stall us in our creative expression.  “What do you think you are doing?”  “This is horrible!”  “How can you possibly consider showing that work to anyone?”  “Let’s face it, you’re not good enough, and you never will be.”

 

Sound familiar?  The good thing is that we are not alone in experiencing this.  In fact, it is a normal occurrence for people who are taking any kind of risk to be assailed by critical self-talk and irrational belief systems that we have probably carried around for a long time.  The question is what can we do about it?

 

I see lots of advice out there about how we should tell the Inner Critic to either shut up or get out of Dodge.  I disagree.  In fact, I think there is another strategy that can work well and yield surprising results—and that is to figure out how to be in relationship in a kind way with that part of our selves.

 

As I have undoubtedly mentioned before, the Inner Critic is an archetypal defense system that we have inherited from our ancestors who always had to be on the lookout for sabertooth tigers.  The part of our brain that is designed to help us survive also makes us hyper-vigilant—always on the look-out for what might harm us.  So the Inner Critic becomes the voice that ironically berates us most harshly for taking potential risks that might harm us….in order to protect us from hurting ourselves further if we actually followed through with those risky choices.

 

In that way, the Inner Critic is our steadfast Protector.  In therapy language, it is also a Part of the Self.  It works 24/7 to make sure we are safe and not going to make choices that will hurt us.  Given that, why would we want to tell it to shut up or to leave the room?  That’s just not being kind to a part of our Self that has been tirelessly devoted to taking care of us for forever.

 

This doesn’t mean we have to endure negative self-talk or to allow it to freeze us in our creative process.  In fact, there are lots of fun and effective strategies for working with the Inner Critic to turn it into our ally.  Really fun!

 

So…if you feel ready to make good relationship with that Inner Critic, contact us at artcoachingforyou.com

 

One of the things that artists often have trouble with is acknowledging what they do that actually works.  We more often get caught up in negative self-talk and critical analysis about what we should do, what we haven’t done, how we have failed, that we will never be any good…etc., etc., and so forth.

 

 

In the end, that doesn’t empower us.  What empowers us as creatives is nurturing our good, brave spirits by cultivating positive awareness about what we have accomplished , what we offer to the world as a legitimate gift.  And yet, it can be so utterly refreshing to acknowledge the positive stuff.   It’s almost a head-slapper—when we sit down for five minutes and list all the things we can give ourselves credit for, it can feel so good that we say, “Why haven’t I done this before?  Why?  Why?”

 

 

When I was training with Jill Badonsky to become a certified Kaizen Muse creativity coach, this was a regular assignment for us.  In fact, Jill provided us with a sweet little Reminder Journal that we could carry with us everywhere and use to record positive inspirational quotes, compliments, things that made us feel happy, and, of course, our regular credit reports.  You’ll see a picture of mine at the top of this blog.

 

 

This is going to be really simple.  Your assignment is to take out a piece of paper or perhaps your journal, grab a cool drink, go sit yourself down in a nice place for a few minutes, and list all the things you can think of that you have done either recently or in the past, that you can give yourself credit for.  If your friendly Inner Critic steps in and says, “Wait a minute!  Look at all you haven’t done, or all the ways you’ve messed up!” thank them kindly and suggest they go sit on the beach somewhere.

 

 

So go ahead—I dare you.  See what you can come up with that you can give yourself credit for.  See how it has the potential to nurture your creative spirit.

 

 

…and if you’d like more friendly support like this, contact us at ArtCoachingforyou.com to get on board with your art career or creative expression.

 

by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist

Figuring out how to reach your art career goals can be daunting and overwhelming to say the least.  ArtCoaching for You might be the smartest investment you could make in your artistic life.

 

At first, Sue knew she wanted to better her painting methods and so reached out to Kathy for some quality private painting lessons.  She became good, real good at painting.  Then she began entering juried art shows.  She thought she was doing all she needed and then came to an understanding that there was so much more she could be doing with her artwork.

Sue became an ArtCoaching for You client and Kathy got to know her artwork and preferences real well. Her art business is now thriving.  Way to go Sue! She exhibits in art festivals, galleries, alternative spaces, has home shows, maintains a killer website, has become a prolific painter, has a greeting card line, and a collector base which continues to grow.

 

You are a professional artist.  Tell us about this.

Sue:  It has been a process, moving from ‘weekend’ artist to professional artist… it has taken commitment, time, marketing and working with someone like Kathy to help guide me along the way.  She had insight and perspective I needed at the time.  And it was fun!

 

What was your art life like before working with ArtCoaching for You?

Sue:  I had no idea what I was doing with my art!  I needed direction and constructive comments.

 

Why did you decide to work with ArtCoaching for You?

Sue:  I was ready to start pursuing galleries, festivals, and art shows, and I needed guidance in how to do that.  Kathy and I worked on marketing and social media together, and soon, those things came about.  It was exciting! 

 

What have you enjoyed most about ArtCoaching for You’s process?

Sue:  The accountability that I have with Kathy has been invaluable.  Each time we meet we go over things I’ve accomplished, and what needs more work in the upcoming months.  I’ve also enjoyed getting to know Kathy and her great sense of humor!  She always makes me smile!

 

What is it like working with an art career coach?

Sue:  I’ve loved being a part of a process where you can actually see your art change and improve, and where you can see others enjoy it as well.

 

Do you have any advice for artists that would like to prosper?

Sue:  Make the commitment financially to pursue coaching- in the big picture, it will be so worth it!

 

Where can we view your artwork?

Sue:  Outnumbered Gallery, 5654 S. Prince, Littleton, Co, 80120, Summer Art Market at the Art Students Leauge of Denver in June and www.sueshehan.com

The success of ArtCoaching for You is built on creating a dynamic relationship between coaches and clients during low pressure meetings.  Make growing your artistic life a priority.  Get in touch at www.artcoachingforyou.com.

 

We are witnessing incredibly difficult things happening in the world right now, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless and despairing.  Most of my clients bring their legitimate concerns to sessions, asking important questions like “What can I possibly do right now?” and “How can I use my creativity to address what is going on?”

 

 

I am asking the same questions myself, and while I can easily admit that I don’t know the answers, I find that if I open myself to accessing the quiet space of wisdom inside, I can find something that will resonate within that can nurture my creative spirit and provide a little path through the dark forest toward the light that lies in the clearing beyond—on behalf of both myself and others.

 

 

Mary Oliver’s exquisite poem below offers an illustration of the spaciousness that is possible if we can learn open to Just Listening, and to obey the mysterious wisdom that come from Hushing and Holding.

 

“Just a minute,” said a voice…

 

Just a minute,” said a voice in the weeds.

So I stood still

in the day’s exquisite early morning light

and so I didn’t crush with my great feet

any small or unusual thing just happening to pass by

where I was passing by

on my way to the blueberry fields,

and maybe it was the toad

and maybe it was the June beetle

and maybe it was the pink and tender worm

who does his work without limbs or eyes

and does it well

or maybe it was the walking stick, still frail

and walking humbly by, looking for a tree,

or maybe, like Blake’s wondrous meeting, it was

the elves, carrying one of their own

on a rose-petal coffin away, away

into the deep grasses. After awhile

the quaintest voice said, “Thank you.” And then there was silence.

For the rest, I would keep you wondering.

 

© Mary Oliver

 

So I practiced doing that very thing this morning, sitting in the strange sunlight, made all hazy by the many fires that are burning.  My beautiful golden retriever plunked down beside me, protecting us from errant bees.  We were very quiet together, watching birds flitter and soar around us.  After a good time of breathing and asking intentional questions, I arrived at some answers.  Draw this, said the Kind Voice, and send good prayers for safety and well-being and lovingkindness in the world as you do it.

 

It may not sound like much, but it was a beginning.  “Thank you,” I said.  And then there was silence.  For the rest, I would keep you wondering.

 

That’s what our creativity has the power to do.  If we create with intentionality,   it can be a way for us all to lean into each other so we can manifest what we are called to do in the world.  

 

We’d love to provide you with whatever support you might need to empower your creative expression and your art career. Please contact us at ArtCoachingforyou.com

 

If you have been in the arts for awhile, you are undoubtedly familiar with criticism.  Comments made by all sorts of people—those you might know and those you don’t—can either fill us with deep satisfaction or bring us to our knees.  The important thing for all of us, is to learn to hold those critical comments in perspective, and to not let them stop or influence our creative expression.  Easier said than done….right?

 

Here’s what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say about this subject:

 

“Recognizing that people's reactions don't belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you've created, terrific. If people ignore what you've created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you've created, don't sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you've created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest - as politely as you possibly can - that they go make their own f***g art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.” 

 

Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

 

If Liz’s quote has made you laugh, that’s good.  If you have gotten her central message—that no-one has the right to denigrate your creative efforts—that’s even better.  After all, if you have chosen to bring your creative gifts to the world, you are honoring a sacred Calling. 

It takes courage and holding to a core truth to be creative.  

 

And no one says that better than David Whyte…

 

...There is only one life

you can call your own

and a thousand others

you can call by any name you want.

 

Hold to the truth you make

every day with your own body,

don't turn your face away.

 

Hold to your own truth

at the center of the image

you were born with.

 

Those who do not understand

their destiny will never understand

the friends they have made

nor the work they have chosen

 

nor the one life that waits

beyond all the others....

 

~ David Whyte

 

In the next few blogs, I am going to be addressing the many faces of criticism and how to respond to it in a healthy way. 

 

In the meantime, please feel free to share your experiences with criticism of your art and how you dealt with it!

 

****

 

And we’d love to provide you with whatever support you might need to empower your creative expression and your art career.  You can contact us at ArtCoachingforyou.com

 
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