It has been some time since I blogged with any consistency. My heart just hasn’t been into it. In fact, I find myself shutting off several forms of connection including Twitter and email. I just need a break.
During this period, I find myself thinking more about what I want to do as an artist and where I want to go with my business. I’ve traveled through a few careers (speech-language pathologist, technical writer) before turning to art and now I feel like I’m at another fork in the road.
The First Stirrings
Some of this started after taking an art doll workshop with Dayle Doroshow in 2007. Expressing my spirit through the creation of interesting characters sparked something inside and set me on a path to learn more. These inner rumblings also created much frustration for me when I had to return to making production artwork. I was realizing that production work wasn’t holding much meaning for me.
The world opened for me when I started participating in the Paradise City Arts Festival shows. I witnessed the impact my Spirit Messengers had on customers. How the faces and colors attracted their interest, drew them into my booth and made them laugh. My customer mailing list grew and so did the desire to make more Spirit Messengers.
Sometime during the early part of 2009 I picked up The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam. I began to work through the visual prompt questions. My answer to the following question caused me to stop: What does your deepest creative longing look like? What do you want to be doing more than anything else?
My answer: “to combine art and spirituality as a means to developing one’s independence and creativity and goal attainment. I just had a vision of a woman’s retreat center or gathering spot for art, creativity coaching, spirituality; all forms of expression and a means of attaining independence, gaining self-respect and respect from others.”
Sometime after those words appeared, I remember giving my vision a name. A name that encompassed all that I wanted to do with this idea.
Desire Grows Stronger
In July of 2009, I spent two weeks in southern France. (You can read about that here, here, and here and oh, one more, here.) It was a wonderful experience and when I came home I went through a period of depression and withdrawal. I longed to find the same experience, the same feelings here at home. But I couldn’t put my finger on what is was that was missing.
Shortly after coming home I accepted an offer for a free coaching session from Quinn McDonald. Through my conversation with Quinn, I learned that what I missed was the sense of community I experienced in France. I shared with her my a-ha moment with the visual journaling exercise and she guided me through more areas to think about with a set of exercises and more questions.
And then in August I attended a one day seminar on how to get my artwork into galleries. It was an informative session. Between what I learned from Quinn and this one day seminar, I was pumped and ready to move forward.
In the later part of the year, reality settles back in. I still need to make money with my art. I return to production work to fill some wholesale orders and meet the holiday needs at my local consignment stores. I participate in a few retail shows which leave me a little depressed. The economy is improving but very, very slowly. Overall, my expenses are greater than my income. And I know I’m not the only one in this situation.
I back burner the vision I had for teaching, coaching and potential retreats. It all seems silly. Who am I to say I can do that? What great experience do I have to do this? Do I really want to start back at the beginning?
But I can’t shake my deep desire to teach, to coach, and to host retreats.
Earlier this year I read The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended by Ainslie MacLeod. As I worked through the exercises in Ainslie’s book, I continued to find almost all my answers leading me to several things: creation, education/teaching, spirituality and connection. And I have a few weakness: difficulty making decisions and a failure to grasp opportunities.
Last year, I told myself I was going to take a year off from retail shows so I could focus on my art and other areas of interest. That didn’t quite happen as I did do one 3 day show this spring. Sales were slightly better but I’m still not covering my expenses.
But recently other opportunities and successes came my way:
- Artwork that I submitted for use in a book was accepted. My artwork will appear this fall in Four Word Self Help by Patti Digh.
- I was interviewed on a local cable access program, On the LAM: Literature, Art, & Music in Hudson & Beyond, where I talked about art and our local artisans guild
- I was given the opportunity to submit more artwork for another upcoming book to be released in the late fall, and
- I applied to participate in an art exhibit at a local art museum.
And I’ve decided to push ahead on my desire to start teaching and coaching. I can’t wait any longer.
To reinforce this decision, I start Jennifer Lee’s Right Brain Business Plan E-course on Monday, May 17. My focus is this new beginning; to teach, to coach, to host retreats.
I’m also writing class and workshop proposals and plan to offer classes this fall.
I’m clearing out old inventory to make way for new art.
I’m embarking on a new beginning.