Self Develop Shop Blog Post

My inner critic has a loud, booming voice.  Sometimes it can drown everything else out. 

Thankfully I have identified my Critic and have learned how to manage her so that she doesn't control my decisions and how I feel about myself. 

I want to thank selfdevelopshop.com for publishing my article titled When Feelings are Fiction - 5 Ways to Know if I'm Telling Myself the Truth.  

Please share or comment if this resonates with you.  If the response from this tells me anything, it's that I am not the only one feeling this way.  We must learn to be kinder to ourselves.  

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In Search of New Art Ideas: 3 Ways I Collect Inspiration

As an abstract artist, the most common question I receive is "Where do you get your ideas?" Having giving this much thought, I realize that the answer is all around, and inside me.

I am preparing for my third show of the Summer and boy, my soul is tired.  I was so excited at the response that I received when looking for places to exhibit my work.  It wasn’t expected and so when three different places offered me shows for June, July and August, I knew that I was in for a busy Summer.

I have been working consistently and was able to have completely new paintings for each show.  Making the art isn’t hard for me.  I don’t really have to wait for inspiration to come.  I have a schedule that I’m on the computer the first half of the day doing marketing and admin, and I’m in the studio the second half making abstract art and for the most part, I’ve stuck to it with ease.  

The most common question that I’ve gotten is “where do you get your ideas?” and it’s a bit of a tough one to answer.  My first instinct is to respond that the ideas happen in the moment as I practice abstract expressionism, which by definition, is spontaneous.  But after answering the question for the 15th time, I’m realizing that I may be becoming less spontaneous and more thoughtful as time goes on.

Sometimes the most simple shape can have the most meaningful impact in my abstract paintings.

Paper_Airplane Cut Out Abstract ArtOne of many paper airplane cut outs for my kiddo's birthday gift.

My daughter is turning 16 this month (holy crap) and she asked for a new painting for her room, which we are going to paint and make over for her birthday.  When I was beginning her painting, I thought about objects and images that she likes, and a sharp yet light paper airplane shape stuck out to me.  And so, I began Nora’s painting with paper cut outs of 16 dark paper airplanes and 16 light ones (she is amazingly balanced for an almost 16-year-old). 

The painting came out fantastic. (I'll share it with you all after her birthday.) It was the first time that I used an actual “thing” for my paper cut out instead just a repeating shape like a circle, diamond or hexagon.  It was whimsical and fun without being immature and it managed to retain sophistication.  And upon completion, my brain was immediately flooded with images from my own childhood growing up in New Orleans and the swamps of Louisiana.

Inspiration may come from many different places but images from my childhood in Louisiana are allowing me to create more meaningful pieces. 

Pelican In Flight Paper Cut Out for Abstract PaintingOne of many different pelicans cut for the first of my Louisiana series. (See finished painting at top.)

I settled on pelicans for a second experiment and began a painting using the same process that I used for Nora’s paper airplanes.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  I have sketches now for a Louisiana series that has images of shrimp, hurricanes, fishing hooks, fleur de lis, snowballs…  There are a lot of ideas and this is how I plan on spending my Autumn.  I’m can’t wait to dive in. 

This series is more personal and I’m finding that it is reminding me of some of my old artistic inspirations that I got from children’s book illustrations.  I can’t wait to see how the series turns out.  In sketching these images, I began to realize that even in the paintings that seemingly come out of nowhere, just as these Louisiana images came to mind and I was able to observe and collect them into my sketch book, I have been collecting ideas for my abstracts in similar ways all along.

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Art Shrimp Paper Cut Out"Shrimp Again?!" A common dinner time complaint from me as a "spoiled by fresh gulf seafood" kid. #2 in my Louisiana series.

Want new creative ideas for your abstract art?  Just look around.  Observation is an important tool.

So, when I’m interested in finding inspiration, here is my tip to myself:  Be Observant.  I mean this in a few different ways:

  1. Observe what gives me a “charge”. I took Nora to see Taylor Swift in 2015 and at one point during the show, her dancers had huge paper airplanes on sticks and they were flying them over the crowd.  Visually, it was right up my alley.  It was playful, whimsical, surreal and a little magical.  I felt a fire of amazement begin to burn in my chest at the visual impact that these simple paper airplanes had on the audience.  Nora felt it too…we still talk about how amazing it was thus, the paper airplane painting.

 

  1. Observe recurring images in my head. Ever since I was a kid, I loved to watch the pelicans sore over the bayou.  When I learned to surf as an adult, I was so excited to see them surf the air currents over the waves.  I didn’t know they could do that as we didn’t have waves like that in the bayous.  After beginning my pelican painting, I realized that I have a ton of these simple images in my head.  They are all special to me and I believe that connection can be seen in the painting.  It is more personal.

 

  1. Observe all the time. One night I was out to dinner and the server brought over our silverware rolled up in napkins.  The napkin rolls were secured with strips of paper about an inch or so thick and were covered in an intriguing prism like purple and blue pattern.  I took everyone’s little piece of paper from their napkin rolls home and included them in a painting.  I also have taken candy wrappers and foils, wrapping paper, cocktail napkins in pretty prints…  Art supplies are everywhere. I’m in the habit of being on constant look out for them.

Prism Napkin Ring Scrap Paper Unbelievably cool paper used as napkins rings at a local restaurant. 

It took about 2 years for this habit to develop.  But now, I have to carry a little sketch book with me at all times as when I see inspiration in my head (or on my dinner table) I know that I have to catch it quick or it may be forgotten.  Last night I thought of another great New Orleans image and this morning it’s gone.  I was lazy and didn’t make a note of it and there it goes.  Out into the ethers.  I hope I remember it later. 

So, if you’re wondering where I begin, the answer is that I simply look around both externally and internally for those little nuggets.  Who knew a simple paper airplane or a silhouette of a pelican in flight could be inspiration for a painting? A better question is why wouldn't it be?  Thankfully there are an infinite amount of ideas flying around and all I have to is pluck them and put it in my pocket, or in my sketchbook.  It’s just that simple. 

How and/or where do you find inspiration?  Please tell me in the comments below.  Thanks for your input!  Please share this post if it resonates with you.

Photo at top is the first from my Louisiana series.  Pelicans 36X36 Paper, Acrylic and Graphite on Canvas.  

How I Move Past Defeat & Rejection

For this West Coast abstract artist, dealing with rejection is just part of putting myself and my art out into the world. 

In the past week, I have received 2 rejection emails for articles I wrote, very little response to a social media challenge that I’ve been working 2 months on, and an art show that yielded no sales. Oy…all of that sure doesn’t feel too good on the old confidence level.    

If you know me, you know that I have a very healthy work ethic.  I’m a goal oriented doer.  I have the ability to get more tasks done in one day than most and this didn’t change for me, as it does for some, when I started working for myself at home.

So, when I received a flurry of rejection this past week, the work horse side of my ego took a supreme hit.  “What the hell?!  I’ve been working my ass off! Doing ALL THE THINGS that I’m supposed to do to grow my business. Why isn’t this working?”

Being a professional abstract artist means consistently putting one foot in front of the other, but sometimes a rest is in order.

 

I received advice from my artist group and my mother (who is a novelist) that it might be time to take a little rest.  This is not my instinct.  My default to “failure” is to work harder.  But this advice, mixed with exhaustion and a touch of sadness, led me to take a few days off.

bacon blue cheese burger comfort_foodSometimes I just need some good ole comfort food to take the sting off of rejection.


After two days of loafing around, one cheeseburger with tater tots, a carton of chocolate-chocolate chip ice cream and more episodes of “The Good Wife” than I care to admit to, I was ready to get back to work with a renewed sense of optimism.  That makes rejection recovery sound pretty simple but I have to note a few things about dealing with “failure”:

By doing the following, I am able to renew my creative energy and confidence and get back to making abstract paintings.

 

  1. Shift your perspective, Woman. I need to stop using the word “failure”.  These periods of time when more people are saying “no” than “yes” are not total defeats.  I’m new at what I’m doing.  The fact that I’ve only been at this 6 months and have had multiple acceptances (2 shows under my belt and another in August, articles published, press from local media…) and multiple rejections mean one thing:  I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, which is putting myself out there and which also means I’m going to hear the word “no" often…but I also have heard “yes” plenty of times too. 

 

  1. Chill Out, Lady. My Mom told me that early in her career, she and another writer friend of hers decided that when rejection hit particularly hard, they deserved at least one day of feeling sorry for themselves and room to mope.  I’m a sensitive artist.  Sometimes ignoring negative feelings is not effective for me to move on.  I have to honor the crap-ass feeling.  Usually this happens when I’m more tired than I realize anyway and rest and relaxation is exactly the remedy.

 

  1. Get back on the damn horse, Artist. This week I continued work on a botanical and nature inspired series that I’m doing for my August show.  The style of abstract painting is different than what I have been doing and the change was refreshing.  I’m also deciding that it might be time for a strategy change in my marketing and PR efforts.  I still haven’t found all of my audience and after six months of my current tactics, it’s probably time to move on to new ones. 

That doesn’t mean I’ve failed!  It means that I’m making progress.  I know more now than I knew last year and I will learn even more in another 6 months. 

I am a sensitive artist by nature.  Sometimes exhaustion, frustration and sadness just have to be honored in order to move forward.

By now, you’re probably all familiar with the old WWII British motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”  I’ve seen many satires of this poster all done in red and white with the crown at top that say things like: “Run Around and Freak Out” and “I am Latina!  I Cannot Keep Calm!”  I often thought there should be one for artists that says “Keep Painting and Cry Often” (maybe with a cheeseburger on top instead of a crown). 

All joking aside, sometimes the emotional release is necessary for continuance.  So is rest.  And the funny thing is that once I cried, ate junk food, slept and binge watched Alicia Florrick, I was able to be calm and carry on.  Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to glimpse defeat in order for the fire of persistence to start burning again.

Marigny_Goodyear_Art Pelicans Flight in BayouRest and relaxation allows me to take flight once again.

And so, I shall close with a silly poem as #4 on my list should be “don’t take myself so damn seriously”:

This isn’t happening overnight. 
Rest is needed to take flight. 
Sometimes ice cream is the thing
to making art work fresh again.

Onward. 

The details seen in this blog post are from my painting "Pelicans, 36x36, Paper, Acrylic, Graphite and Crayon on Canvas".  

What's the Most Important Tool in My Art Studio?

As a professional West Coast abstract artist, I have many tools in my studio.  But the most important tool I have is a willingness to experiment.

Put me in the middle of an art supply store and for an instant, I am a six-year-old in a world of wonder.  I see possibility in just about every product offered and my fingers will literally start to buzz.  It’s a visceral feeling. 

I feel incredible inspiration just walking through the aisles and what I’m thinking is: “just hold onto this feeling until I’m back in the studio”.  This doesn’t just happen in the art store, but also browsing interesting products online such as stencil cutters, gold leaf kits and different shapes of paper punches.  I could easily spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on all of these products and in fact, I have. (See unopened stencil cutter on bottom shelf).  

However, time and time again, when I think about the most important and most regularly used tool in my arsenal, it’s not something physical.  Rather, it’s the flexibility of my creative mind AKA a willingness to experiment.  Without this tool, my art would be pretty monotonous and boring.

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Mixed Media Painting Work In ProgressI started this series the same way I always do.  By painting the canvas and then papering with different shaped cut paper.

Not becoming attached to my abstract art is the first step to experimentation. 

Early on in my abstract art experiment, my mentor told me not to allow anything to become too precious.  This was something that I was quite familiar with as a lot of my pencil drawings and illustrations were so detailed, that I wouldn’t even allow my hand to rest on the page for fear that the graphite would smear.  I was so high strung and bound up about a lot of my life when I got back into art, and I didn’t want that feeling to override the rest, so I began drawing with my left hand.

By doing this, and without even knowing it, I had learned the lesson about not keeping my art too precious.  I was yearning for freedom in many places in my life where the need for control had become overwhelming.  In art, I found a safe place to practice this freedom without there being any consequences.  Nothing mattered.  I could literally piss on my art and no one was going to tell me that it was wrong.  (Although it’s not the most original idea as Andy Warhol did that back in the 70’s.) 

Marigny Goodyear West Coast Abstract Artist Painting Work in ProgressI wanted to try something new so I taped all 6 of the little canvases together and painted the next coat as if they were one painting.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about just doing anything when it comes to art; about changing it up when stuck.  The essence of this strategy is not being afraid to “ruin” anything.  I used to get so attached to my art.  Not so much anymore.  There have been pieces here and there that I have kept but for the most part, once I have a good photo, I’m happy to separate with it to a good home.  

Without experimentation, I would pretty much be making different iterations of the same piece over and over.  B-O-R-I-N-G!  I would rather experiment and find the next really cool technique, even if it means painting over what I just spent 3 days working on.  What’s the worst that can happen?  I end up painting over the entire thing and start from scratch.  Musician and song writer Allen Toussaint lost nearly his entire body of work and his beloved Steinway in Hurricane Katrina.  Do you know what his reaction was?  Something along the lines of: “That’s ok…I'll get another piano and I’ll just write more.”  YES!!!!  No fear.  No attachment.  Just continuing creativity. 

Marigny Goodyear West Coast Abstract Artist Paintings Work in ProgressThat day, my Mom gave me a little round tin that had all of these cute tiny cookie cutters in all different shapes.  Inspiration ensued.

The only abstract art rule I follow is that there are NO RULES.

I once overheard an artist at her exhibition talking to a patron about the workshops that she teaches.  She said, “I tell my students that they absolutely CAN’T use paint right out of the tube.  They HAVE TO mix it and make it their own.”  I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit on any statement about art that has the words “can’t”, “have to” and “shouldn’t” and also any sort of art “rule”.  There is no such thing.   As a person that used to live a pretty high risk life, art is a safe haven for me in that THERE ARE NO RULES.  There are no “bad” color combinations.  There is no governing board of artist laws.  The coolest thing about being an artist is the absolute freedom to experiment.

Marigny Goodyear West Coast Abstract Artist Painting EstivalEstival #4, 8x10, Paper, Acrylic & Graphite on Canvas. Even that dark blue bubble like shape was due to experimenting with new "tools"... like the lid of the tin.

So, if you’re stuck on what your next move should be, or if you know the piece isn’t finished but you’re scared to ruin what’s already there, go and paint something bold over whatever it is your stuck on and that’s too precious to change!  Use the paint right out of the tube!  Put black next to blue and while you’re at it, wear a belt that doesn’t match your shoes and white after Labor Day!  Let your freak flag fly and express yourself any damn way you please.  And if anyone ever tells you that something about your art is “wrong”, first swallow the urge to tell them to go f*ck themselves.  Instead, simply smile and say that “wrong” is in the eye of the beholder.  

All you fearful artists out there, repeat after me: “THERE ARE NO RULES IN ART THEREFORE MY ART CAN NOT BE RUINED!”  

I'd love to hear about how you experiment.  Feel free to comment below!

 The painting at top is Estival #2, 8x10, Paper, Acrylic & Graphite on Canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny Buddha Blog Post

I'm a West Coast Abstract Artist who struggles with anxiety and negative thinking.

Thankfully I'm not alone.  I wanted to thank Tiny Buddha for including my article,  "My Proactive 8-Part Plan For Beating Anxiety and Negativity".   

The response to this has been overwhelming.  Thank you all for commenting, sending messages, emails, etc.  I am truly humbled.

Artist Benefits from Job Hopping

The path to becoming a professional West Coast abstract artist was there all along.  I just didn’t see it until it all came full circle and I had a change of perspective on the day job.

I have been an artist by trade for approximately 4 months.  Prior to that I had worked as an Executive Assistant for a husband and wife team who ran both for profit and non-profit companies.  I was their right-hand woman for over 8 years and it was hard to say goodbye, but I was finally ready to take the leap to follow my passion.   They’ve gotten unexpectedly slammed busy, so I’ve been doing a little work for them this week and as I was working on their schedules this morning, I started thinking about all of the different jobs that I’ve had.

High Tech Ergonomic Office Equipment
My studio office. Only the best high tech ergonomic office equipment for this artist.

At one point, I described my resume as looking like it belonged to a crazy person.  I’ve been a Yoga teacher, a stock broker, an advertising sales exec, a restaurant worker (front of house and cooking), an education programs coordinator…I could go on and on.  But now that I’m having to jump back into a supportive admin roll (albeit temporarily) it’s really got me thinking about how all of those different jobs support me on my path to becoming a career artist. 

So, I thought I’d reflect on the many careers of Marigny Goodyear and explain what each one has taught me and how that’s applicable to my life as an artist.  For all those artists out there who are still dragging themselves out of bed each day to get to the day job: it is serving you beyond a pay check.

Feeling like I was seen as a quitter because I was a serial career changer was tough on my confidence, but actually each job was a learning experience that lead back to one thing…life and work as an abstract artist. 

The Hospitality Industry – “How may I be of service?”

I worked in fine dining restaurants, caterers, event planners and 5 star hotels cooking, serving, and managing and I loved it.  It was hard working and hard playing life style.  In those fast pace environments, I learned A LOT.  So much in fact, that I feel the need to use bullets:

  • How to anticipate the needs of others and give them what they need before they ask
  • Attention to detail and how to be efficient in my movements.
  • How to work on my own and also in a team.
  • The importance of forward thinking. What do I need to do today to better serve me tomorrow?
  • How to multi-task (for better or for worse) and to be prepared and organized (you’d better know where everything is at all times when you’re moving 100 miles per hour).
  • And the most important take-away: The value of good customer service. That includes doing what I say I’m going to do in a timely manner, following up even when I think it’s not necessary, taking the words “I assume” out of my vocabulary and showing gratitude…even when you’d rather give the customer a good eye poke.  

 

Having a baby was what ultimately made me leave the restaurant industry.  The hours were hard and I realized that once my daughter started school, I would never see her, so when a friend of a friend offered me sales job at a magazine, I jumped at the opportunity to become a… 

…Advertising Executive – “We don’t take no for an answer!”

Oy…my least favorite job.  I always took no for an answer.  When my boss would call me on it, I’d say “but they said no….what I’m I supposed to do?”  Great sales person, right?  I assumed that I just sucked at sales but really what was going on is that I didn’t feel genuine in the importance of what I was trying to sell.  I learned about dealing with clients and the necessity of follow up, follow through, organization and meeting deadlines. But what I ultimately learned from this experience is that unless I am passionate about what I am selling, sales are a waste of time for me. 

To be honest, the whole thing just stressed me out and so I decided to take a hobby and make it my job and I quit to become…

…A Yoga Instructor – “Let’s get our Om on, Y’all!”

I loved Yoga.  I did it all of the time and so when my teacher suggested that I become a teacher, I jumped at the opportunity.  I went to a month-long teacher training course in the Bahamas (because WHY NOT?) and started teaching immediately when I got home.  Private clients trickled in and I was gaining a little following at a few Yoga studios but really what I was gaining was a massive amount of debt. 

Yoga along the Mississippi New OrleansNora and I practicing Yoga along the Mississippi River

In the few years that I taught Yoga I learned how business can grow if you stick with it although I didn’t have the time or money saved to stick with it very long.  I also learned the importance of breathing.  This is where my meditation practice began and hear me when I say that I would be a crazy person without my daily meditation practice. 

I still do Yoga sometimes but not like I used to as I also learned that sometimes taking something I love and making it a job can beat the love for it right out of me.  I ended up taking another part-time job with a very successful money manager, organizing receipts in order to figure out how much money his wife had spent on their new house renovation.  That led me to become a…

…Junior Stock Broker - “$$$$$$$$$$$”

I learned how to talk to a different type of clientele…one with money.  I also learned how to make a mean spreadsheet, a tool that I use frequently and may one day make an art project out of.  I learned about stocks, bonds, money markets, mutual funds, basic analysis and became a licensed stock and bond broker.  Ok…so I admit that a lot of that stuff oozed right on out my ears when I quit, but basic finance will always be with me and I will never forget learning the importance of nurturing your clients….again…back to good customer service.  Sending birthday cards, holiday gifts, email updates, whatever it takes to make them feel special and attended to.  It’s mandatory. 

Artists use spreadsheets tooArtists use spreadsheets too...at least this one does.  I would be lost without my spreadsheets.

I was on my way to getting an additional license to sell insurance and I actually would have stayed longer in the finance industry but two life changing things happened within 6 months of each other:  I fell in love and hurricane Katrina (aka The Storm) hit New Orleans.  My job moved from New Orleans to Birmingham, Alabama.  I stayed for 9 months but when my now husband proposed to me, I chose love over the career and moved back to Post Katrina New Orleans where I had trouble finding work.  A good friend of mine’s father took pity and hired me to…

…Organize financials to be used in divorce litigation

I worked at his CPA firm for about a year and I learned that I NEVER wanted to get a divorce…But being as far away from the arts as this job brought me and wanting to support New Orleans artists who were struggling after The Storm led me to open my own business and, in a way, back to the arts.

B-native.com…”Buy New Orleans Art Y’all!”

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Art

My logo for (now closed)b-native.  An online art market for New Orleans artists.

My first business venture.  B-native was a web site where NOLA artists could have a platform to sell their art online since New Orleans tourism was suddenly non-existent. It was a juried online art market that I kept alive for 5 years.  It was quite the experience and labor of love.  Here I learned to be careful about going into business with friends and if you do, get it in writing.  Not having a formal partnership agreement from the get go was the ultimate demise of my little on-line gallery.  The other thing I learned is that the marketing I learned in college changed super-fast with the introduction of social media and SEO.  I was in over my head and didn’t have a clue as to how to get the world to pay attention to b-native.  I gave it up after 5-years. 

Marigny Goodyear West Coast Abstract ArtistThis is what this artist looks like after spending a few hours learning about marketing and PR.  Ouch...it hurts.

Then my childhood best friend moved back home to New Orleans and hired me to work with her as an…

Education Programs Coordinator - “Party planning with lots of presentations and no booze.”

Here my hospitality education was applied in a different way but those lessons about attention to detail, follow up, customer service…it’s all really the same thing.  I also learned that I’m a terrible proof reader.  Again, this only lasted about a year because we upped and moved to Oregon where I became…

…Executive Assistant - “I do it ALL”

I did…I did it all.  I loved my bosses and the people I worked with.  I stayed with them over 8 years which was a record for me, by far.  I learned how to change hats quickly and as needed (even if it’s not on my schedule) and how to juggle the demands of two different people who have two different sets of needs. When I began working for them, they didn’t even own a filing cabinet.  I built their organization and scheduling systems, helped with fund raising, planned events, I even got to travel a bit.  Here I became an organizational master.  I kept myself, and them, on task and knowing what’s coming up next, without question.  I was really good at it and I enjoyed it until it just wasn’t challenging anymore.

While I was with them, I started doing art on the side and 4 years later, I left to pursue art as my career.  When I started painting and experiencing the joy and remembering how important art is in my life, I got a bit sad.  I thought “Wow, I’ve really wasted a lot of time.”  But now, that I’m actually pursuing art as a business, I realize that all of these different roles that I’ve taken on over time have allowed me to come full circle back to art. 

In this world of endless information choices, it is hard to see that we are on a path.  For me, all of the day jobs were a road to abstract art. 

We live in a time when the 40-year career at one company and retiring with a pension is pretty much dead.  Being bombarded by so much information and options, it is really hard to focus on what we are “meant” to do.  I believe that all of us have that thing that we are blessed with and meant to share with the world. 

The challenge is to see beyond the pay check, the obligations, the Joneses… What is our gift to give and how can all the different experiences in life allow us to grow that gift into a career? I am an artist.  I am also a business woman with an organizational mind.  Two things I grew up thinking couldn’t possibly work together in one brain.  But here I am. 

So, now that I’m done updating my financial spreadsheet and my marketing tasks for the day, I’m heading into the studio where my structured brain can release into a creative space. I’m realizing that all of my different talents can be applied not just to my art, but to my art business.   They actually complement each other quite well.  All of it wasn’t a waste of time at all.  In fact, it was necessity in order to pursue my passion.

If you experience day-job frustration, I urge you to make a list of all the things that you’ve learned at each jobby-job, and write how they can benefit you and your passion.  It may shift your thinking.  I’d love to see what you write.  Hit reply and let me know, or answer in the comments below and if you know someone who is frustrated by the time their day job takes from their passion, please share this with them.   Onward!

The painting at top is Animator, 36x36 Paper, Acrylic, Graphite & Crayon on Canvas. Please forgive the lack of images in this blog post....apparently I didn't take photos of any place that I work prior to becoming an artist.