by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist
What does it mean to thrive? For professional artist, Liz Lautrup, she's thriving as an artist by doing the following:
• planning for success
• being paid to be an artist
• inspiring others through her art and actions
• surrounding herself with a supportive art community
• building her art business
Although Liz has always had lots of ideas and creativity brewing in her, she sometimes lacked the ability to focus and was unsure of her next steps. Being goal-driven in her artistic endeavors did not always come naturally and there was fear involved too.
As a client with ArtCoaching for You, Liz has been exhibiting her art in a professional gallery, making sales to collectors and businesses and feeling much more confident as an artist. Way to go Liz!
We are fortunate because Liz is allowing us to publish questions she answered in an interview with us. We hope this will inspire you to move forward with your own art career. Thanks Liz!
ArtCoaching for You: Tell us about your art.
Liz: With nature as my inspiration, I create dreamy, organic, abstract paintings using various tools to apply paint, pigments and paper. My paintings are done in an iterative manner rather than planned-out and they are open to the interpretation of the viewer. A tool I use most often is a wooden straight edge to create lines that have personality. I also use it to move paint and water around the canvas. It's wonderful bringing beautiful and totally unique art to galleries, homes and businesses.
ArtCoaching for You: How has your artwork developed in the last few years?
Liz: In the last few years, I have begun to work larger and more consistently and have been experimenting with black and white. I now belong to a very professional gallery, which has challenged me to create and display more professional art. Most recently, figures, human and animal, have begun walking into my artwork, which I'm very excited about.
ArtCoaching for You: Why did you decide to work with ArtCoaching for You?
Liz: I knew deep down that none of us makes it alone and also that working one-one-one with someone with experience was going to help me most. When I met Kathy through a mutual friend/client of hers, I knew that I wanted to work with her on a regular basis.
ArtCoaching for You: What is it like working with an art career coach?
Liz: Our meetings are jam-packed with progress. Sometimes, I am really amazed by how much we can cover. I usually "meet" with Kathy by phone so that I don't have to spend time traveling. In our meetings, we celebrate work well-done and look towards the future - what are short and long-term goals and what steps need to be taken to reach them.
Having someone with experience to guide me on the next steps and executing them has given me much more confidence. I'm making progress and heading in the right direction. I've also had some of my fears alleviated.
ArtCoaching for You: What have you most enjoyed about Art Coaching for You's process?
• Working one-on-one with someone with real experience
• Kathy's contagious positivity, humor and cheer
• Creating to do lists that keep me on track with my goals
• Kathy's ability to understand my timing and priorities as a parent as well as an artist
• Kathy's ability to help me overcome my shy side and get my artwork out into the world.
ArtCoaching for You: Where can we view your artwork Liz?
Liz: My website www.lizlautrup.com, SYNC Gallery in Denver, and my home studio (call for a private showing).
Deep Dive, Liz Lautrup
My advice for artists who would like to prosper? Be confident in who you are and what your artwork is about. If you're stuck, don't hesitate to get the help you need. Make collaborations with other artists. -Liz Lautrup
Check out ArtCoaching for You for a more detailed description of how we work with artists.
Our Inner Boss is our Inner Critic—which can be even more more internally harsh than any outward criticism that comes our way as artists. That Inner Boss can assign us impossible tasks, berate us for failing to do things according to its rules, and never give us credit for all the efforts we have put into our creative expression. While I have written on this topic in many ways so far, here’s a new angle for you in this blog, with the help of a friend and fellow faculty member at the Therapeutic Writing Institute, Carolyn Koehnline.
Carolyn Koehnline, M.A., is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, clutter specialist, journal instructor, and workshop leader, with a private practice in Bellingham, WA.
She is the author of Confronting Your Clutter, an outstanding and highly approachable book on how to clear physical and emotional clutter from our lives. She also offers an online, coached, self-paced class called A Gentle Approach to Clearing Clutter. and works with people by phone and Skype.
One of the incredibly helpful things that Carolyn teaches us, is how to provide guidance for our Inner Boss, as a way of reframing our relationship with that part of ourselves that can undermine our creative expression. As you read her suggestions below, think about how you might apply them to your creative life:
Instructions for my Inner Boss
-Be very specific about what the task is.
Don’t trivialize or discount the work you are asking me to do.
Be realistic about the time it will require.
-Give me a reasonable schedule.
Be clear about when I’m working and when I’m free.
Build in breaks.
-Break down the job into bite-sized pieces.
Otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed and feel defeated.
-Express your appreciation frequently for all my hard work, outloud if possible.
Rewarding me with treats would be helpful too.
Assume that if you provide me with the proper tools, inspiration and support, I will do a good job.
Don’t demand perfection. Only ask me to do my best.
As you can see, this conversational tactic empowers us to be in a reasonable self-empowering relationship with our Inner Boss, and to negotiate with it, rather than having it run the show—and our creativity. In fact, it addresses many behaviors that are helpful to us as artists—giving ourselves permission, lowering unreasonable expectations, addressing challenges such as anxiety, procrastination, and perfectionism.
Whether we are needing to tidy up our studio spaces to make room for more creative expression or learn how to work with our Inner Boss, Carolyn’s work is invaluable to us all.
Check out her free online Confronting Clutter newsletter which comes out once a month. Each issue explores a different aspect of her gentle approach to clutter clearing.
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
by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist
One way to grow as an artist is creating a habit to create. A habit is something you do on a regular basis and without thinking much about it. It becomes such a part of your routine that it becomes who you are.
Here are five really great benefits you'll receive if you create a habit to create:
1. Your artistic skills will improve. Habits give you the opportunity to practice again and again.
2. The tone of your artistic life will be set. Habits set foundations for you life.
3. You will eliminate wasted time. By following a routine, you will free up time that would otherwise be spent on planning and preparation. Your routine predetermines your schedule, therefore allowing you to use your time more efficiently.
4. Procrastination will be reduced. When something becomes routine (aka habit) the chances of your procrastinating are reduced.
5. Self confidence will naturally be built. When you stick to a habit you develop a sense of great satisfaction. This in turn inspires and fuels you to keep moving forward.
Each of us are different in what we want and need as artists. Therefore each of our creative habits will take on a unique shape. What does your habit to create look like?
We have all undoubtedly heard about the Nine Muses—the sources of inspiration used by the Greeks to invoke artistic expression. And indeed, the concept of the Muse has been used throughout time to acknowledge that there is something Other out there than our wee little selves that invites us to create in courageous, unique ways.
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that Inspiration as a Muse, is a vital thing to attend to—that it, in fact, is always looking for a human to receive its gift— and that if we ignore it when it comes knocking at our door, it will find someone else who is more interested in responding to its call. Mind you, it’s perfectly okay to to respond, but if we do, we open the doors to Mystery and Aliveness.
In his lovely poem about answering the Muse’s call, William Stafford gives us an idea of what it is like to meet..and accept the invitation of one’s Muse.
When I Met My Muse
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.
Take a look at how some famous writers invoked the Muse (from Judy Reeves’ book A Writer’s Book of Days: Be prepared to have a chuckle or two!
“The poet Friedrich von Schiller used to keep rotten apples under the lid of his desk, open it, inhale deeply, and compose…
“Balzac drank fifty cups of coffee in a day…
“Willa Cather read the Bible…
“Samuel Taylor Coleridge indulged in two grains of opium before working…
“It’s said that Edgar Allen Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder…
“T.S. Eliot preferred writing when he had a head cold.” (p. 35)
So how do you invoke your Muse? How do you nurture yourself in ways that allow you to vitally attend to your create life? What would it feel like for you invite in the gift of inspiration so that “every glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation”?
How can we help inspire your creative process? Contact us at
ArtCoachingforyou.com to find out!
At times, an artist will be asked if they will create something specific to the needs of an art collector. A professional artist will make sure that a written agreement is involved.
Written agreements, otherwise known as contracts, ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the commission. Here are a few things that should be included:
1. the date the project will start
2. the date the project will be completed
3. what will be created with details
4. when payment is due and how it will be accepted
These are the most important details that should be included in the agreement. There are other things that should be included but these are the biggies. Feel silly giving an art collector an agreement to look over? Don't feel this way. You want to appear as a professional and this is one way that you can do this.
Be sure that the agreement works to the benefit of both of you. If the other party would like to pay in three installments rather than two, can you make this happen for them? If they were hoping to have the project completed two weeks earlier than you planned will they accept a rush charge?
Remember, this is just business. If you and the collector can't come to an agreement then move on. Other business is sure to come your way.
Need help drawing up an agreement? I'm here to help. Feel free to contact me through the ArtCoaching for You website www.artcoachingforyou.com .
“We are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buried strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. “The hunt to uncover those jewels—that’s creative living.“The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one."
--Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
We can all use reminders from time to time about how to refuel our creative lives to find that buried treasure that Liz Gilbert describes in her wonderful book, Big Magic. Here are a couple of ways to do that!
First, commit to your creative path
Committing to being an artist involves finding your path to an art-filled life. Following this path requires reason, flexibility, tenacity, and sometimes sacrifice. It is about learning to see life through a creative lens, to ask the really important questions that might have no immediate answers, to learn to live with a degree of uncertainty and forego comfort in order to try something new.
This path is best maintained when art is in balance with the other aspects of our lives. Finding balance is an ongoing process and requires us to organize our time wisely and to say no to activities and relationships that do not feed our creativity. Cultivating this balance allows us to juggle wonder with practicality, to sacrifice ease on behalf of curiosity and experimentation, and to open ourselves to the world in a way that fuels our creative gifts.
Second, focus on what will nurture and feed your creativity
Nurturing your creativity is essential to living a life that is attuned to artistic expression. If you gather the right tools to do that, you will notice a difference in how you bring your creative energy to the world. Begin by pursuing interests that energize you, and experiment with creative materials. Establish a space where you can dedicate time and energy to your creativity—a place to foster inspiration, a place where you can avoid distractions and work on finding meaning in your creative voice. Allow your process to unfold and evolve, rather than trying to force it to look a certain way. Learn how to avoid negative self-talk, comparison to others, to critical voices, procrastination, and perfectionism.
Stay tuned for more next month!
Want to jump-start your art carer and creative life? Go to ArtCoachingforyou.com to connect with us!
“Pure creativity is magnificent expressly because it is the opposite of everything else in life that’s essential or inescapable… Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting…[and] arguably useless. All it does is make me want to play.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic 128)
Organize your time and energy so that you do not suffer from burn out and can stay brilliantly creative. To do this, develop strategies that allow you to alternate demanding work with enjoyable work, schedule breaks for yourself throughout the day, and plan a designated starting and finishing time to your creative work day. Allow yourself to work one small step at a time, returning to the process again and again, so that it can evolve and grow.
Manage Your Time
Would you like to feel as though you have more control and balance in your life? You can learn to manage your time skillfully by blocking out predictable and regular chunks in each day to work in your studio. If you prioritize this as an essential activity, it can be easier not to succumb to all the "shoulds" that we feel we must accomplish in a day, and you can create more efficiently, learn faster and have more time to play.
Do you feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again and are expecting different results? If you feel stuck, are unhappy or bored with your art or art business, try new creative techniques. For example, experiment with a different medium. You will be surprised at the new ideas that come pouring forth which you can apply to your "usual" medium. Research your competitors, and learn what they are doing that is giving them a competitive advantage. To learn how to examine and scrutinize others' ideas, without comparing yourself to them can inspire you to build upon your own unique creative expression.
Want to jump-start your art carer and creative life? Go to ArtCoachingforyou.com to connect with us!
We are not alone in our creative ventures. Yet, one of the things that creative people can get stuck in is a kind of isolation. We often find ourselves working away in our studios, not benefitting from the potential resources that can help support us in so many ways. Yet that support can come through our Creative Cohorts—though they may not always be in plain sight.
For the past month or so, I have been taking an exciting course called “The Right Brain Business Plan: A Creative Visual Map for Success” developed by the founder of Artisan Coaching, Jennifer Lee. The course is facilitated by Susan Stott Miller from Lighted Path Coaching. Susan is a psychotherapist, a life coach, creative coach and artist—a multi-passionate person, who has skillfully figured out how to offer her many extraordinary talents to the world to support creative people in getting their work out into the world.
So who are your Creative Cohorts and how can they help you enliven and bring your creative expression to the world? According to Jennifer and Susan, they can be….
• Your Inner Circle of Advisors—for emotional support, encouragement, ideas, accountability, and brainstorming
• Your Nurture Huddle—a safe, collaborative gathering of peers who mutually encourage and inspire each other
• Your Mentors—people with experience who can show you the ropes
• Strategic Alliances—alliances or partnerships that mutually benefit both parties, but remain as separate businesses
• Your Hired Team—an art career coach (like Kathy!), a creativity coach (like Cyncie!), accountants, bookkeepers, web developers, administrative assistants, etc.
As you read through this list, what Creative Cohorts do you think you might want to invite in to empower your creative process?
And guess what? Kathy and Cyncie are ready and waiting to be your Creative Cohorts in whatever way you might need! Contact us at artcoachingforyou.com to start the process.
I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes, till I touch the sky
Take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And break away
The above are lyrics from a song written for the Foundation for a Better Life. How very profound. Can you find a deep meaning for yourself in these lyrics? Perhaps it isn't until you actually spread your wings that you realize that you can fly much farther than originally imagined.
It takes courage to break away from the "norm" that we are used to. Everyone that has done so is glad that they did. Professional artist Candace French gives this advice for artists who would like to succeed in the art world: "The art world holds infinite possibilities. So I encourage you to...
• Be clear on what you want and how you define success.
• Continue to experiment with new ways of expressing your creativity while remaining true to yourself.
• Focus on relationships and trust how they emerge and evolve in support of you, your art and your art business."
Candace is an artist that has grounded herself, understands her desire to succeed, and is willing to move beyond her comfort zone. And boy oh boy, aren't we the lucky ones! Candace has allowed us a little more insight into what makes her tick with the following interview.
Candace French-Field of Dreams
ArtCoaching for You: What type of artist are you?
Candace: I am a professional Mixed Media Artist who blends colors, textures and light. Inspired by my life experiences, my paintings involve many layers of concealing, revealing and enhancing. Each piece is an adventure into the unknown.
ArtCoaching for You: Have you always been this type of artist?
Candace: Initially, I painted in acrylics with a brush. As I played more and took an even greater intuitive approach through experimenting, I became familiar with the different types of art materials available. Acrylics very quickly expanded into texture, gels and other mixed media. The palette knife became my favorite tool. I love using it to move texture around on the canvas to create special effects that draw the viewer into my artwork.
ArtCoaching for You: Tell us about your art world?
Candace: My art world is filled with many diverse activities. When I am not creating in my studio or teaching publicaly or privately, I am meeting with a gallery owner or a collector, completing submissions for special exhibits, or keeping in touch with my community through my newsletter and social media. There is so much that happens behind the scenes, it’s difficult to capture it all here.
ArtCoaching for You: Where can we view your artwork or take a workshop from you?
Candace: You can view my artwork on my web site at www.candacefrench.com, Framed Image and Rox Arts Gallery in Denver, Colorado and my home studio (call for a private showing).
My workshops are offered regularly through the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, Curtis Art and Humanities Center in Greenwood Village and at Arapahoe Community College. I am also teaching at the annual Art Makers Denver event this September here in Denver.
ArtCoaching for You: Tell us a bit about your teaching method?
Candace: My teaching method is very engaging and inspiring. The most important thing for me is to “meet the artist where they are”. This is key because I attract art students who range from very little, if any, experience to professional artists who want to loosen up or expand their Artistic Voice and experience working with acrylics and mixed media.
ArtCoaching for You: What has been your most touching or amazing moment you’ve experienced as an artist?
Candace: One of the most touching moments I have experienced is what I call the “Look of Love”. It’s the look I notice when I unveil a commission to a collector or see one of my students gazing at a work of art they just completed. It’s breathtaking for me as well as for them!
Candace French - Untitled
ArtCoaching for You: Why did you decide to work with ArtCoaching for You?
Candace: Kathy and Cyncie offer incredible depth of experience and professionalism through their coaching. When I took a marketing workshop that they offered, I could feel every cell in my body saying “This is what’s next!” Soon after, I started coaching with Kathy. The experience was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun. What I appreciated most was knowing that whatever questions or challenges I brought to Kathy, she was always there for me. Through her coaching, I was confident that each step I was taking was in alignment with my vision and goals.
ArtCoaching for You: What have you gained by working with ArtCoaching for You?
Candace: Coaching with Kathy was so much more than I anticipated. Initially, I was focused on learning how to approach galleries. That quickly expanded into Kathy guiding me through branding and marketing strategies. The biggest result was creating a stronger foundation for my art business. If you look at my art business now, you will see how I have expanded my workshop offerings, added a gallery, continue working artists one on one in private sessions and have a stronger rhythm and flow to creating artwork. Most of all, my confidence has grown in my art and art business.
A million times, thank you for imparting your wonderful wisdom Candace. You have definitely spread your wings and moved forward with your artistic career. We are so grateful for the experiences and knowledge you've shared with us in this interview. These beneficial insights are exactly what are readers need.
Have you spread your wings? If so, what does it feel like? Would love to hear from you.
If you need to shift your creative expression to incorporate short bursts of fun and fulfilling ways to bring beautiful images to life through simple methods, Zentangle might be just the thing to try during the summer months ahead…and beyond.
Developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, Zentangle is a mindful method that can bring peace and relaxation to both the creative process and our lives in general. It requires no pre-planning or artistic “talent,” and there is no “right” way to do it.
Here are some of the benefits of a Zentangle practice from the website, zentangle.com. In short, Zentangle can help you…
• Expand your imagination
• Trust your creativity
• Increase your awareness
• Respond confidently to the unexpected
• Discover the fun and healing in creative expression
• Enter a vibrant and supportive world-wide community
• And perhaps most importantly . . . Have fun!
I began doing Zentangle a few years ago and find it incredibly centering, pleasing, and relaxing to do. With just a few simple materials, and some easy instruction, you can slip into a daily routine that is wonderfully satisfying and can fulfill your creative desire.
Check out some of these resources!
First, a couple of online links:
And then some good books:
Joy of Zentangle: Drawing Your Way to Increased Creativity, Focus, and Well-Being (Design Originals) Instructions for 101 Tangle Patterns from CZTs Suzanne McNeill, Sandy Steen Bartholomew, More by Marie Browning CZT and Suzanne McNeill CZT
We can make your creative practice fun and easy too, so if you’d like to bring your creative output into full bloom, contact Cyncie and Kathy at artcoachingforyou.com
There’s a lot to consider if you want to become a known and successful artist. First of all, the artist defines what this means to them and it involves one if not all three of the following:
1. Achieving artistic excellence
2. Financial gain or stability
3. Others knowing who you are as an artist and believing you are a success
There are many ways to become known as a success. Here’s are a few tips:
· Know how to talk and write about your art so that it can be understood by artists and non-artists alike
· Know where to show your artwork so that you attract your targeted market
· Know how to present your artwork so that it appeals to potential collectors
· Develop your own style of art that is recognizable
· Develop a recognizable brand for your art business
· Share your art and art story with others – consistently.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many more ways to become known as a successful artist. What is important for an artist to realize is that each of finds our own way to success. No two paths to artistic success will be the same. Do you know what yours may look like?
Kathy Beekman is an experienced art career coach and a successful professional artist. Want to know how she can help you? www.artcoachingforyou.com
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert describes the strange mixture of hard work and wonder that is the foundation of the creative process:
“Most of my writing life consists of nothing more than unglamorous disciplined labor. I sit at my desk and I work like a farmer and that’s how it gets done. Most of the time it’s not fairy dust in the least. But sometimes it is fairy dust. Sometimes when I’m in the midst of writing, I feel like I’m suddenly walking on one of those moving sidewalks that you find in a big airport terminal…I can feel myself being gently propelled by some exterior force. Something is carrying me along; something powerful and generous, and that something is decidedly not me.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
As creatives, I think we all know what this is about.
• An inspirational idea enters the picture
• We can be struck by the mystery of it all
• We may begin to explore how to render it—how to make it come palpably into the physical world.
• We begin. We might be alternatively enlivened, puzzled, exasperated, curious, frustrated, enthralled by our creative efforts.
• Somewhere along the way, we reach a point of 1) knowing we are finished; 2) knowing we will never be finished; 3) knowing it is completely wonderful…or horrible; 4) or maybe even becoming comfortable with the process of uncertainty, and entering into a state where we willingly link hands and hearts with the ultimately elusive and wondrous state of Deep Knowing.
Are you familiar with these stages?
If you are, then you certainly recognize that the creative dance involves a mixture of hard work and fairy dust. Strange partners indeed!
For instance…I had been working and working on a final painting for an upcoming show at SYNC Gallery. It was, to say the least, quite disappointing. True to form, the chorus of critical voices inside of me reached a crescendo of negative voices about my capacity as an artist, including “heartening” messages like “You might as well give up because you will never amount to anything as an artist anyway.”
So, in a fit of desperation, I took the painting upstairs to photograph it and set it down in a patch of sunlight by some plants while I got my camera. When I returned to the painting, my heart started beating fast. The shadows of the plants on the painting cast a lovely, intricate pattern over the canvas. Hey, I thought, here’s an idea. What if I painted those shadows on top of the pools of color that were so “disappointing”?
So I did…and it worked—I think. Behold. Fairy dust.
I bet you have experienced something similar—that mixture of fairy dust and hard work that is so much part of the creative process. If so, I’d would love to hear about what happened—your experience, your wisdom. If you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with this information, I will include your anecdote in my next blog.
So here’s to the work that creates magic in our creative lives! May we use both these tools with trust, wonder and wisdom!
Needing support with the work and wonder of your art carer and creative life? Go to ArtCoachingforyou.com to connect with us!
Sometimes, sometimes, you just need a poem to nurture your creative spirit. So here’s a special one just for you from one of my favorite poets—William Stafford.
You and Art
Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.
Year after year fits over your face--
when there was youth, your talent
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;
and you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.
© William Stafford, from You Must Revise Your Life
And then it’s always good to write to the gifts offered to us from poetry, to connect them with our creative lives. So try any of these ideas out, using whatever writing forms you might like. Trust the pen, in the same way that you trust your creativity. We write, we create, to remember what we remember.
1) How does your creative expression reflect any of the following?
-your exact errors making music that nobody hears
-your straying feet finding the great dance, walking alone
-living in a world where stumbling always leads home
2) How has your creativity changed as you have matured? And what do you think it means to find our way by touch, like moss redeeming stone?
3) What does it mean for an artist to discover music before it makes sound? To follow canyons deep into mountains and to listen there to the stillness, to the sound of new flakes of snow?
What did you learn about the connections between Stafford’s poem and your creative process? If you send your thoughts to me, I’ll include them in our next newsletter.
And Kathy and I are always ready to help You and Your Art. Contact us at artcoachingforyou.com, and we’ll help you begin that next stage in the process!
Every now and then it is a good idea to have your artwork critiqued. No matter how well you create, there is always room for improvement and a second set of eyes can be helpful. A critique of your artwork should not be scary. Remember, that you are not your artwork. It is the artwork that is being evaluated, not you. Critiques are designed to result in a better product, which is what your artwork is, and help you grow as an artist.
Who should you ask to critique your artwork?
• has an art background
• can be kind and honest at the same time
• will offer practical suggestions for improvement
• has a strong understanding of artistic principles
• can discuss successes and weaknesses withing the artwork
• will use appropriate art language
• understands and appreciates art
Art criticism should never be derogatory. If you feel that a critique of your art has been negative or derogatory, find another person willing to offer you a critique. A critique of your art should be constructive and help you develop into a better artist.
Do you look forward to critiques of your artwork? Have you had a bad critique experience? Would love to hear your story.
When we find ourselves feeling listless, dull, and purposeless, with everything shaded in muddy colors and no bright spark to kindle our enthusiasm for life, it’s time to return to the center of ourselves and call upon our creative natures to reclaim a sense of direction and vitality. In this way, creativity can be a profound medicine.
In her wonderful book, Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity, Julia Cameron talks about creativity as a kind of medicine that can provide meaningful affirmation for our lives. She says this:
“Practicing our creativity is healing. Not because we are sick but because we are essentially well. As we express our intrinsic nature, which is beautiful and specific, particular and original, we experience a healing transformation less in ourselves than in our relationship to the world. We are not at fault. We are not powerless. We are very large, and in expressing this truth, healing occurs. What is healed is the rift between our spiritual stature and our mistaken perception of ourselves as flawed.
“Creativity is medicine. It is not dangerous or egotistical. It is life-affirming and essential. The more we use it, the more steadily and readily and easily we use it. The more we ground it and regularly access it, the better off we are. The ‘healthier’ we are. Humor and acceptance enter the picture. Far more than self-scrutiny and self-correction, self-expression may be the key to a much more synthesized and and effective sense of self.”
-Julia Cameron, Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity (p. 58)
So how do we get from that listless place to making art as medicine? Here are some ideas:
1. Tune into whatever inspires you as you move through your day—an image, a color, a quote—whatever resonates within you to kindle that creative spark.
2. Consider the materials you might like to work with. Sometimes changing them up a bit will be just the thing you need to do to get going.
3. Carve out time to work during the course of a day—maybe even small increments. Schedule this into your calendar, just as you would for any errands, or lunch with a friend.
….And then share with us what happens!
Kathy and I are always here, ready to empower your creative career and process at artcoachingforyou.com. Let us know what we can do!
Power words are words that are used to trigger a psychological or emotional response. They are so persuasive the a reader can't resist being influenced by them. Smart business persons use power words to influence the action of their market. Here are some examples:
How then can you an artist use these words? You can use them in the subject line of an email to ensure more open rates, in the title of your blog, within your website content or a letter of intent, when selling your artwork, and pretty much anywhere you will be marketing your artwork. These power words are powerful. They are the quickest and easiest ways to grab a persons attention in a positive way.
By the way, I have a wonderful secret I would like to share with you. The word "inspire" is the top word one should embody in their business.
Would you like more valuable information on how to grow your art business? We are artists helping artists. Feel free to contact us through our website www.artcoachingforyou.com
1. Create a Vision Board:
A Vision Board is a visual plan for what you want to accomplish in your creative life and all that you would like to manifest around it. You can assemble it in any number of ways, using a white board, poster board, an accordion book, a box, large index cards, collage images, drawings, paint, markers, sticky tabs—whatever works for you to create a visual of your intentions and goals. The very act of creating something that is a visual commitment toward what you want to achieve can help you determine how you can do that. Take a look at this website for some great guidance: https://www.bloggersgetsocial.com/vision-board/
2. Use S.M.A.R.T goals to develop action steps that will be in support of your vision. Here’s what that acronym looks like:
Specific: If you identify specific things you want to accomplish, you are more likely to hold to those goals. For instance, instead of saying “I’ll get my portfolio together,” say, “In the next three months I will write my artist statement, my bio, and my resumé and book a session with Kathy Beekman to critique them.” Specific goals help you know if you’ve reached your target or not.
Measurable: Make your steps quantifiable in terms of numbers, duration, frequency, or percentage to support the specific goals you are intending to achieve. Examples: I will complete two paintings in the next month for my January show…or I will work in my studio three times this week for at least an hour to finish my next piece.
Achievable: Is your goal attainable? Do you have the right resources to make it happen in terms of time, money, and support? Your goals should provide a bit of a challenge in terms of stretching you, but they should not frustrate you to the point where you give up before you even start.
Resonant: The closer your goals are aligned with your heartfelt vision and values, the more likely you are to achieve them. If they feel like “have-to’s” or burdens, you are probably going to avoid doing them.
Time-Bound: Set deadlines or dates for your goals. If you don’t meet those deadlines, you can always make realistic adjustments or reprioritize, if needed.
Of course, there is more to learn about each of these strategies, but they are good, solid tools for making concrete progress toward bringing your creative life to solid ground. So give them a try….
…and, of course, we are always here to support you in bringing your creative life to fruition, so let us know how we can do that!
It’s one thing to decide that you are going to matter as an artist and to determine how you will make meaning through the art you put into the world. But what strategies might you implement to manifest that vision? Here are a couple of ideas:
What would your life look like if you found or achieved more success as an artist? Do you know and understand what it takes to advance? One important characteristic of a successful artist is their having a positive attitude. Without this, other characteristics such as patience, persistence, sense of purpose... will easily fall by the wayside.
The artist's talent is not the top indicator of their success and happiness. Rather, it is their attitude. According to The Business Dictionary, “Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges….” What does this mean? Your “positive” attitude will help you better cope with life’s daily affairs. A challenge will not be so difficult to take on if you have an optimistic outlook.
Focus on these tips so that you can develop a more positive attitude:
1. Keep an open mind that a change in your life could be considered the key to transforming your life for the better.
2. Unleash your potential by thinking big. Thinking small only limits possibilities. If you think big you will find that you will achieve more in life than you ever imagined.
3. Understand that unexpected changes in your creative life are part of the process. Use each change as a learning tool, make the best of it and move on.
What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Recently, my friend and colleague, Carolyn Koehnline, contacted me about an exciting new book she was publishing--Clearing Clutter As a Sacred Act.
I have had the good fortune to connect with Carolyn at the Therapeutic Writing Institute, where we are both faculty members. I have also read her previous book, Confronting Your Clutter, and also used her coaching skills to help me clean out my own messy spaces.
Since so many creatives deal with the issue of decluttering their work space, I asked Carolyn if she would be willing to be interviewed about her book, which is scheduled to be published in December.
Here is Part 1 of that interview. I’ll publish the second part in the first week in December, where you will also be able to find out more info about her how you can pre-order her book!
Can you tell us a little about who you are and your business as a
I’m trained as a psychotherapist and have had a private practice in Bellingham, WA for twenty-five years. But back when I was in graduate school, I had a housecleaning business which helped me see the daily challenges people were having that might not typically get discussed in the therapist’s office—the various types of clutter people were struggling with. I became interested in the symbolic meanings we attach to physical objects and spaces.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of writing, teaching, and coaching to support addressing the internal clutter that comes up when you’re encountering clutter in your home, head, heart and schedule and when you’re feeling blocked with a creative endeavor. I’m also a Certified Journal Therapist and I find that brief, focused writing processes are especially helpful to incorporate along the way because they allow you to check in with inner wisdom and access self-compassion as needed.
Now that I’m sixty, and not taking on new therapy clients, I’m growing my coaching business: Gentle Approach Coaching. I coach by phone and in my office and teach online and face-to-face classes. My emphasis is on helping you notice when you’re clinging to something that limits you, and to support you in releasing it so you can make room for what matters.
Why did you name your most recent book, Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act?
When you are going through the belongings you’ve accumulated over the years and deciding what to keep and what to let go, it brings up deep questions: If I let go of this will I be okay? Will I still be me? What do I need? What is enough? Can I make peace with past chapters of my life? What is important for this chapter of my life? How do I deal with the fact that I’m not going to live forever?
Often people say to themselves, It’s just stuff. I should be able to get rid of it. But if something is difficult for you to release, it’s often because you’re overwhelmed, or unclear, or because the object holds meanings for you.
When I talk about clearing clutter as a “sacred,” act, I am saying that when the process gets overwhelming, it helps to approach it with reverence and intention. You can dedicate your clutter clearing to something or someone that matters to you. You can incorporate little gestures of self-compassion. You can pause when you get stuck and use expressive writing or art to get more clarity. You can invoke unseen help. You can use simple rituals to release objects that are emotionally loaded. Saying an intentional goodbye to objects related to a past life chapter, role, or stance, can help you be more present and allow space for what’s emerging in your life.
It sounds like there’s lots of ways you can apply the information in the book to our lives, both from a practical as well as from a soulful aspect.
To me the practical and the soulful are not separate. Sometimes you can just dive in and make efficient progress as you go through boxes. But there are places in this process where you’ll get stopped. It can be challenging to encounter evidence of past decisions, traumas, and losses. It can be hard to face the fact that you’re not the same size you used to be. It can be challenging to find evidence of multiple false starts with a creative project or to confront the reality that you’re not quite sure what your life is about now. In Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act my intention is to give fresh perspectives, helpful guidance, and many different pathways to try at those moments when the process gets difficult.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which I will publish in about another week, where Carolyn describes why her book might be especially appealing to artists and writers! In the meantime, here's her info:
Ta da! Here’s Part 2 of the interview with Carolyn Koehnline, talking about her new book, Clearing Clutter As a Sacred Act, starting with her description of her original artwork, included in her book. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom to pre-order her book!
I decided to include twenty-one of my paintings in the book because they express what I can’t express in words. They speak a soul language that communicates at a different level. I didn’t want this book to look like other clutter-clearing or organizing books. No woman with a clipboard getting things shipshape. No brooms. I wanted to evoke a deeper sense of what this process could be about for you. I also included poems that bring in humor and compassion. And I provide lots of ways to access your own inner knowing about how to proceed. I find that people carry within them a lot of brilliance about what will help them move forward. My job is to help them access that brilliance.
Why might this be an especially helpful book for artists?
This book invites the artist in you to be an active part of the clutter clearing process. Throughout the book I am providing ways to access your imagination and to use it as a powerful support. Clutter clearing can seem tedious, overwhelming, and endless, and can stir up challenging emotions. I share everything I know to help you make it meaningful and engaging. I am looking to spark your curiosity. I give you guidance and structures, and right alongside that, I invite you to adapt them, make them your own, and find what will work in your world. For example, I may suggest writing a letter to the props that were part of a career you gave up. You may push against that but notice an inspiration pops in nudging you to assemble a few tiny objects to make a shrine inside an Altoid mint tin, honoring what that career meant to you. I would trust that inspiration because it came from you. It’s likely that if you followed your inner guidance about that it would allow you to let go of many larger physical things and also bring more into your present, unfolding life.
Throughout the book I’m investigating the dance between chaos and order, freedom and structure. I’m exploring the challenge of bringing in just enough structure together with adventurous exploration and creative imagination. I believe this is familiar territory for artists.
Artists will also likely be interested in the parts of the book that suggest ways that emotionally loaded objects can be springboards for creative projects.
What might some of those creative projects look like?
Art projects could include creating something from an object or a collection of objects—a quilt from old ties or t-shirts, a shadowbox of items related to a deceased loved one, or a beautiful hatbox that is transformed into a container for design ideas. You could also create poems, stories, photographs, or a series of paintings inspired by the most evocative objects you encounter.
I know that you also offer personal coaching for people, because I’ve taken your self-paced online class and found that to be extremely helpful. Can you tell us more about those offerings?
Thanks for asking. The self-paced class you mentioned is called A Gentle Approach to Clearing Clutter. It includes sixteen online lessons a person can work through at their own pace, sending me questions and reflections along the way and getting personal responses from me. It includes readings, recordings, and suggested writing prompts and practices designed to help you find your best clutter clearing approach. It’s especially helpful for facing off with pockets of clutter you’ve been avoiding. It’s designed to take one to two months.
When I coach individuals in my office or by phone, I have a simple mission. I’m interested in helping clients come into better relationship with their living spaces, their belongings, their time, themselves, and any projects or dreams that are trying to emerge. I usually have coaching sessions twice a month and include a detailed write-up of what we discussed and any suggested assignments.
I’m also open to coaching groups and to coaching people who are working their way through Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act and want some extra support.
Here’s the eagerly anticipated link to pre-order her book! A great gift for yourself or loved ones as the New Year rolls around!
And her contact information:
Carolyn Koehnline, LMHC
Psychotherapist, Journal Therapist and Coaching
Looking for a great support system for your New Year’s creative output? Then check out our ArtCoaching for You services at
by Kathy Beekman, Art Career Coach and Professional Artist
We all do it. We get excited about what the New Year might bring and look at it as a time to start anew. An opportunity to start with a clean slate or undergo a metamorphosis and transform into someone that is better than they were last year.
Sadly, most people can not stick to their resolutions for even a week and half don't last out the month. How many of us stick with the resolution? Twenty percent. How do they keep their resolutions?
First Secret: Be Reasonable
New Year's resolutions are rarely small adjustments that we make to our lifestyle. They are usually huge, like losing 50 pounds in 5 months or completing 20 sculptures in 20 weeks. Your resolution should be reasonable. Take the twenty sculptures in 20 weeks scenario. If you are realistic, you may be able to complete 12 if you take into account the roadblocks you may encounter such as getting sick, having to help a child with a school project, the needs of an aging parent, running out of materials, getting called out of town on business, not having inspiration, and a myriad of other things that can slow us down or stop us dead in our tracks.
Second Secret: Take Little Steps
Having a resolution where you will have a one person art show is great but can be overwhelming unless you can break it down into little steps. Write down all the things that you know need to happen for this art show to become a reality. Once you know what the show entails, you can have a reasonably good idea of how long it will take to accomplish all of the little steps. Map your steps out on a calendar. Breaking down the resolution into little steps allows you to move forward at a pace that is right for you. You are more likely to maintain or reach your resolution by moving steadily towards your goal.
Now it is your turn. What resolution are you looking forward to making and how do you plan to keep it?