Tag: west coast artist

How I Know it’s Time to Stop Asking for Advice

As a West Coast abstract artist, I am, by default, also a small business owner.  Even when my gut is telling me the answers, I find that I yearn for outside approval before making decisions regarding my business.  It's time to stop.

I am a well-supported individual.  I always have been.  I have the love and support from a team of people who want nothing else than to see me succeed.  I have always felt this support, especially from my parents, my entire life.  They supported me when I wanted to go to art school, switched majors to business, became a yoga teacher, a stock broker, when we decided to move 2500 miles away…  I am a well-loved person.  I am so grateful.

But now that I'm 8 months in since I quitting my day job to focus on my art, I am asking myself the question “Am I listening to too many voices?”.  Feeling so supported is a wonderful thing, but I wonder, does it change the way I listen to myself?  The past couple of weeks I have felt a bit stuck.  Like, in every way.  It has been difficult to make decisions and therefore, my forward momentum has been like moving through molasses. 

Now, I am fully aware that my idea of “productive” is probably way beyond a normal level of productivity.  My Mom and I were joking the other day that the reason that I didn’t cry when I was born, but instead lifted myself up with my arms to get a good look around, was because I was trying to figure out where to start multitasking.  I have always been a “doer”. 

For the past twenty years or so, I have had jobs where my checklist was clear and straight forward and I spent my days with a great sense of satisfaction as I moved from one task to the next, checking the items off my list.  Five years ago, I brought my art practice and business development into my routine and every day I checked off items.  Make art, check.  Build a website, check.  Set up Instagram and Facebook business, check.  Incorporate mailing list and send eblasts, check.  Write blog, check.  Attend business webinars, check.  Setting everything up was not hard for me.  It was just another to do list.

Marigny Goodyear Art Visual Meditation Paintings Work In ProgressI made a decision to make smaller pieces in order to create a lower price point rather than reproductions because it felt right for me, despite advise from loved ones saying otherwise.

But then I quit my day job to work on my art business full time.  Suddenly, the check list items became more ambiguous.  Like, Revise Bio and Artist Statement…ok, with what changes?  Grow social media following…sounds good…how?  Start working on different series of art work…uh…won’t I confuse what I’ve already done?

Then there is my support team.  They are awesome and each bring something different to the table in the ways of life and career experiences.  But what happens when I try to talk things through with the people who are closest to me and they don’t say what I hope to hear?  Or suggestions are made that are simply not in line with the business model that I’ve been investing in.  Do I go and change everything around based on their advice? 

I’d like to focus on a fragment from the above paragraph: “…and they don’t say what I hope to hear”.  Basically, by admitting that I’m hoping for certain advice to come out of their mouths, I am acknowledging that I already know what I think the answer is and I am just simply passing it by another to reinforce what I have already decided.  When the opinion is different, it just confuses and frustrates me.  

I think I’m at a point in this process where I know what is best for my art and business.  The problem is that I have always had such an amazing and enthusiastic cheer squad, that I have become habitually reliant on passing things by my support team.  It’s almost like it’s not real until I talk to one of them about it, whatever the “it” might be. 

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Art Visual Meditation Paintings Work in ProgressEven at this point in my process, just finishing the under paintings, this choice felt right for me

It is because I’m scared.  I’m scared of making the wrong choices.  Of spending my time and focus on the wrong items.  Of failing.  Of letting them all down. 

Maybe, in a way, I feel the need to pass every little detail by them because it takes some of the burden away.  If they give me advice, and it turns out to be the wrong choice, then part of the responsibility is taken off of me and put on them.  Just typing that makes me feel like a coward. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling as though maybe I need to keep things a little bit closer.  Maybe I need to proceed with actions based on the instincts within me.  For example, I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for “entry level art” and the idea of reproductions keeps coming up from one of my support team.  The problem is that I have wanted to build a business making only originals.  The idea of creating cheaper reproductions is not attractive to me.  I can’t finish the paintings the way I want.  I can’t wrap the paint around the sides of the canvas.  I can’t hand sign the back.  It’s just not the ideal model for me.

I’m not throwing the idea completely under the bus, but I know that I need to try to build my ideal business and right now, I’m not sure I want to invest the time and energy it would take to get high quality photos taken of the pieces for reproduction.  To research all the different print on demand companies.  To test each one by ordering the reproductions…and on and on…

I would rather invest that time in creating small originals.  And so that is what I’ve been doing all week.  Now, I will say that I did have an hour-long conversation with my Mom (the Head of my Cheer Squad) about this that enabled me to make this final decision.  She asked good questions and at the end of it, I had clarity.   So, I’m not saying that should become an island.

Marigny Goodyear Art Abstract Mixed Media Visual Meditation PaintingsI am so glad that I put energy into this project.  Not only do I have a new series of work in the form of visual meditation paintings, but I also have a great price point for the holidays and for "introductory level" art.   

What I do think is that when it comes to my art and business, that my instincts are usually correct and that I need to learn to trust them more.  Because of that, I think it may be time to talk less and act more.  I need to trust my artistic voice and my business gut.  

It’s difficult because in the past, I haven’t always made the best decisions.  But in looking back, most of those decisions were based on what I thought other people would want me to do.  As Polonius says “To thine own self be true.”  How can I be true to myself when I am constantly reaching outward for approval?  It’s a bad habit.

Going forward, I am going to only ask about things that I have actual confusion about.  Not things that I know the answer to and I’m just hoping that someone else will agree with me so I’m sure it’s right. I already knew the solution.  What I risk is confusing what is already clear, and that is just a waste of valuable time. 

 Marigny Goodyear Abstract Mixed Media Art Seagulls Work in ProgressIf I wouldn't have made the decision to do this, I wouldn't have my Seagulls painting.  (Detail of Seagulls can be seen at top of this blog post.)

I am my own CEO, CFO, Creative Director, Marketing Manager, PR Executive and Board of Directors.  I also have an Advisory Council.  Not every decision must be passed by them.  They are there for support and guidance, when needed. 

It’s intimidating being my own boss.  If I fail, I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.  But failure is just an outcome of being ballsy enough to try, so what’s the big deal?  Faith in my own abilities is a muscle that I need to exercise.  I have a feeling it’s one of those things that will get easier and easier the more I do it.  So today, I begin.

The detail at top is Seagulls 36x36 Acryllic and Paper on Canvas.  

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How I Know It's Time to Blow Up My Routine

As a self employed West Coast Abstract Artist who works from home, routine is oh so important to keep me moving forward.  But how do I know if the routine needs adjusting?  

On September 1st, I wrote a blog on how important my routine is to me and how I was excited to get back to it after a Summer of distractions.  Now, I’m going to take all of that back.  It is time to BLOW UP MY ROUTINE.

I have always been a goal oriented rule follower.  I created my routine and as a rule, I’m going to stick with it until my goal is met.  But what happens if my goals aren’t attained.  Then what do I do?  Well…after having a panic attack (and a carton of ice cream), I think it may be time to re-assess. 

 Marigny Goodyear Art Sea Gulls in ProgressHere is my Sea Gulls Painting in progress.  This is the point in my process when it's time to "blow it up".

Last month I read you off my routine schedule and how it keeps me on track.  That’s true.  But what happens when I realize that the routine I’ve been adhering to isn’t creating the returns that I had hoped? I’ve been working the same routine for 6 months.  Now in the long term, that’s nothing but in the faster paced world of social media, that’s quite a chunk of time. 

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks.  I blamed it all on my routine being screwed up.  But here’s the deal…after trying to get back to the routine, I realize that it’s not working.  My eblasts aren’t getting engagement, the links aren’t getting clicked on and the social media isn’t growing as quickly as I’d like it to. 

So, what’s the fix here?  Time to try something new.  

I’ve been focusing on multiple platforms and I’m going to reduce it to one.  Not that I won’t maintain the others, but I’m going to narrow my focus for a moment and see what it yields.  I won’t get into the technical specifics as it’s more boring than watching paint dry.  The point is that I have to start looking at marketing like I look at my painting process.

Marigny Goodyear Art Work in ProgressWoah...a scary step, indeed.  But a necessary one in order to move forward.

When I’m painting, and something isn’t going the way I want it to, I change it.  I take a “when in doubt, do” attitude and I experiment away.  Now, with marketing, it’s a bit different as I have to have a period of time to examine and so changes can’t be quite so reckless.  However, I think 6 months of a steady marketing routine is time enough to decide if this is working, or not.

The answer when applied to my current marketing strategies is “or not”.  My social media growth is slow, my email list growth is non-existent and the website visitors are not beating my online door down. After careful analysis, lots of research and the implementation of some marketing help, I start anew.  Let’s see what the next 6 months are going to bring.  

It’s time to shake things up and see where they land this time around.  *deep breath…and here I go.

 

The painting at top is Paper Airplanes 22"x28" Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  A gift for my daughter on her 16th birthday.

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Summer is Over - Time to Get Back to Routine

Being a self-employed West Coast abstract artist is a dream come true but staying on task and moving forward means being consistent and disciplined with my routine.

School is back in session.  Amen.  Hallelujah Brothers and Sisters.  For those of you who have children, you definitely know the struggle of keeping a routine during the Summertime.  If you have children and work from home, you REALLY know this struggle.  And if you happen to be a parent, who works from home and is easily distracted by outdoor adventure and activities…well…you get it…

I think all-in-all I’ve been pretty good about keeping forward momentum this Summer.  At the same time, I’ve also been trying to get in a decent amount of ocean time, relaxation and fun.  Now that Summer is in its twilight and school has started, I’m really excited to get back to my work routine.

Marigny Goodyear Art Summertime PlayingIt's hard to work when there is fun to be had and meadows of flowers to run through...  Photo by Jayden Becker.

Routine: noun - A regular course of procedure without which I aimlessly walk in circles pretending to be productive...and then go surfing.

 

Last blog post I talked about one of the most asked questions I get as an West Coast abstract artist: “Where do your ideas come from?”  Today, I’d like to talk about the second most asked question I get: “How do you stay on track working from home?”  This is, apparently, a common struggle for anyone who doesn’t have to punch anyone else’s clock but their own.  Unfortunately for the question askers, I cannot totally relate to this struggle because as long as I have a good routine in place, it isn’t hard for me at all to stay on task.

However, after being asked this question for the 80th time, I have been giving it more thought, and I realize that I do have a few things consistently in play that help keep me accountable to my routine.  Here are a few of the strategies I utilize to keep me on track.

  1. Social Media is my Boss. I post to social media every day.  Almost without fail.  In order to be able to post new content every day, I have to make new content.  Meaning, I have to be actively creating abstract art in the studio.  If I haven’t gotten in the studio and made a healthy amount of progress throughout the week, I have nothing to share with my followers.  I do keep a back log of images that can be used in a pinch in case of illness or a surf report that cannot be ignored, but for the most part, I try to stay productive. 

 

  1. Calendar it out! I keep an electronic calendar that I put my weekly tasks on. Monday is blog writing day. Tuesdays, I collect website/social media analytics to make sure I’m going in the right direction.  Wednesday and Thursdays, I reach out to media and influencers and check out education webinars.  Friday I schedule social media for the week.  Blog posts go live on the first and the fifteenth, work in progress/studio sneak peaks are eblasted the second week of the month and new available work for sale email is sent the third week.  And yes, I’m aware I missed most of these for August…dern ocean kept calling me back for more!  It’s Summer for Pete’s sake…we’ve all got to give ourselves a break every now and again…

 

  1. Progress in the studio yields more progress in the studio. Huh?  Well what I mean is that the more art I create, the more I want to create, the easier it is to get started and move from task to task.  The comments and likes I get on social media motivate me to share the next steps.  The more I’m working, the more ideas I get, the more techniques I discover and the more excited I am about working.

Marigny Goodyear Art Catching the SunI mean come on!  Summer goofing is hard to pass up!  
Photo by Jayden Becker

Having a routine leads to progress.  Progress equals growth.  Growth makes me excited and excitement creates a desire to work more. 

That being said, I’m SO very glad that school is back in session because the degenerate surfer in me was starting to more and more choose the surf over the work.  And while I am in full support of engaging in the activities that keep me inspired (as surfing does), I’m also aware that mid-August thoughts of renting the house out and living in the surf van are not the healthiest for my work ethic.  

So, it’s time to pull back the reigns, turn up the hustle and get back to a proper pace.  Here’s to the new school year, more progress, growth and excitement. Let’s rock and roll.  I'll try not to get too terribly distracted by the pretty flowers.

Marigny Goodyear Art Flower GirlPhoto by the lovely and amazing Jayden Becker

Photo at top is Shrimp 36x36 Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  #2 in my Louisiana inspired series.

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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".  
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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.
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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.

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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.
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How to Shake the Doldrums

When sitting on the sofa, eating crappy food and feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t improve your mood, it’s time to take a different approach to attitude adjusting.

I have just come off a week-long gloom binge. I wasn’t feeling well at all.  My work wasn’t satisfying, my home life irritated me, exercise was an unattainable motivation and food…well…if it wasn’t made from sugar or high levels of sodium, I wasn’t interested.  

As a sensitive and moody artist who is prone to anxiety and depression, it can be hard at times to pull myself from the depths of my own head.  Once I’m there, the darkness can wrap around me like a blanket which, oddly enough, can feel rather comforting.  Instead of craving things that would improve the situation, I hunker down, binge on television, cry in the shower, eat ice cream for dinner and procrastinate doing anything that could possibly be good for me.  It affects my productivity in EVERYTHING.

Last week, while in the midst of a down-swing, I continued working on a painting and although I worked on it every day, I didn’t make much progress. That is kind of indicative of how my mood affects my day-to-day.  When I’m in a negative head space, everything seems to take longer and my actions don’t seem as productive as I know they can be.  It’s like everything is done in vain which depresses me even more…OH THE DRAMA OF IT ALL!

Marigny Goodyear Abstract PaintingIt seemed like every "big" change I made to this painting made no difference at all.

 

On Friday, after my 12th biscotti, 7th grilled cheese sandwich and 4th failed attempt to get to the gym, I had to do something.  I chose to take the same attitude towards my day-to-day that I take when I’m stuck on a painting.  JUST DO ANYTHING.  Seriously.  The more different, the better.  

Just as in abstract painting, contrast can also be the solution to depressive moods. Trying something opposite to instinct can help.

I decided to approve my teenage daughter’s proposed 8-person sleepover.  I know what you’re thinking: “WTF?!  You’re fighting the doldrums by inviting a slew of crazed teenagers over?!”  Yes, that’s exactly what I did.  To justify this decision to my melancholia, I told myself that I would now have the weekend to finish cracking out on crappy food, as that is what the human teenager consumes at a sleepover. 

What I was hoping is that all of these fresh faced, energetic, silly-as-hell children running around my house would totally obliterate the misery problem at hand.  You try being stuck in a funk on a Saturday night when girls are being dragged across the floor laughing hysterically, sporadic dance parties are popping up on your front lawn and THIS is standing in your kitchen:

Pig Onsie Gangster in my Kitchen

The point is that it got me out of my spin cycle.  I woke up in my van Sunday morning (yes, I gave up the comfort of my house to the juveniles for the night) and joyfully cooked pancakes and scrambled eggs for a mess of youngsters. I found it amusing (instead of frustrating) when an iphone was found under one of our cars, when I realized that two entire jars of pickles were eaten by one 90-pound girl (ew) and when I was repeatedly asked for something to eat while I was in the middle of cooking a meal. 

As it turns out, my Mother was right…it really is important to get outside and play on a beautiful day.

That afternoon, I got outside for the first time in a week and gardened (another one of those activities that is so hard for me to start, yet feels so good when finished).  Monday, I woke up and rocked that painting, continuing on in a completely different direction from where I started.  I had been painting in a pretty dark pallet so I took a light blue and painted over about 85% of my painting.  

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Painting Work In ProgressWhen in doubt, just do anything.

After a brief panic attack, (and another biscotti) I took the canvas outside and started sanding the paint down.  Layers of texture and color slowly emerged through the light blue, creating a dreamy, twisted, complicated junglescape.  Out emerged something I never could have planned or imagined and it was beautiful.

When I needed a break from that, I got on my bike and hauled ass on the bike path for about an hour.  In that time, I was able to release most of the remaining dark cloud that I had been dragging around.  It was really hard to pay attention to the blahs when I chose to engage with the outdoors for a minute.  It’s Spring, Moody Artist!  For Pete’s sake, go outside and play! 

Today is Tuesday and I still feel my bad mood hiding out and waiting for an opening to creep back in.  But instead of engaging with it, I’ve decided to write about the ridiculousness of it all.  After lunch, I will incorporate some darks back into this painting and then I’m going mountain biking. 

Marigny Goodyear Abstract Painting Detail Blue MusicDetail of the painting after working a dark blue back in.  Sometimes you just have to keep doing the opposite thing until you land where it all comes together.

The only constant mood is the changing one 

We all go through ups and downs.  If I’ve learned anything in my 40 years being human, it’s that there is no such thing as an endless good or bad mood.  They are all temporary and part of a much bigger picture.  It’s where we choose to focus that’s important.  I’m always amazed when a once huge problem doesn’t seem quite so big when I don’t stop and stare at it.  I mean, it’s Spring in Southern Oregon…I’d much rather stop and stare at the wild flowers. 

Sometimes, it seems such an easier choice to curl up on the sofa and continue on with the pity party but right now I have to take the 180 degree turn that will get the spark back into my eyes and the motivation back into my hands.  If I choose to remain stuck in my mood, that’s all I’ll be…stuck.  Just like with my painting, I have to take action and I can’t wait to think of the “perfect” solution.  Just shake it up!  Throw caution to the wind, paint onto the canvas, and when in doubt, and if it’s available to you, laugh with a bunch of goofy kids (I hear puppies work too).

Goofy selfies with a 4-year-oldIt's impossible to be stuck in the doldrums when there are goofy selfies to be taken with adorable 4-year-olds.
 

When you feel stagnation set in, what do you do to get unstuck? Let me know in the comments below.  Goodness knows I need all the strategies that I can get!

Painting at top is Blue Music, 36x36, Paper, Acrylic and Watercolor Crayon on Canvas

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Artist Profile: Nicholas Wilton - Building Communities of Creatives One Workshop at a Time

Being a career west coast abstract artist would not be possible without the help of talented teachers.

When I first started this journey of becoming a professional artist, I was running solely on emotion and old, ignored art supplies.  I didn’t have a goal.  I didn’t know that this would be my career.  I was merely trying to express feelings of remorse, anger and agitation that were alarmingly amplified when I decided to quit drinking.  No longer comforted by simply burying these discomforts under the weight of alcohol, I unearthed them and then needed a tool for dealing with the difficulties that bubbled up.  

I had leftover paint, paper and some brushes and so I started.  I had never done abstract painting before, but sobriety was just about all my brain could handle.  Thinking about realistic details of a still life, or…let’s be honest here…trying to do anything with any specificity at all was really difficult.  I just began to move my brush-holding hand and abstracts are what sprung from my fingertips.  And it saved me.  

Finding art again was an unexpected gift given to me by my willingness to let go of old coping mechanisms and being open to getting to know myself.  Self-awareness had never been my strong suit.  So, discovering that I am an artist was amazing and at the same time, a “well duh” moment.  I knew it all along, I just ignored it because I didn’t think it was practical road to travel.

Guidance from an established west coast abstract artist and teacher was the inspiration I didn't know I needed.

Nicholas Wilton West Coast Abstract Mixed Media Artist
Nicholas Wilton is a Sausalito, CA based abstract artist and teacher whose workshop I attended flipped me into action.  I have been painting consistently since.

 

A year into my self-administered art therapy adventure, a good friend suggested that I take an Art 2 Life workshop taught by Sausalito, CA based abstract artist, Nicholas Wilton.  After briefly checking out his website, I was immediately attracted to Nick’s art.  His use of shape, repeated pattern, movement and vibrant colors widened my eyes and motivated me to learn more.  I signed up and drove to California for 5 days of art making.  It was the best thing that I have ever done for my art, my confidence and my career. 

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life Workshop Westerbeke RanchDay #1 of Nicholas Wilton's Art 2 Life Workshop at Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma. 

Nick taught his 6 art principles which included color, harmony, value and design.  Many of these had been introduced to me in my long abandoned fine arts schooling but not thought of since, and they were important reminders, but his 6th principle was the most important and influencing….Soul.  Heeding soul was not taught in art world academia and wasn’t that what I was really working on?  Cleansing, listening, being receptive and responding to my soul?  Without knowing it, Nick was reiterating what I had been learning over the past year…to thine own self be true. 

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life WorkshopDay #4: My works in progress at Nick's Art 2 Life Workshop.  The finished version of the one in the right corner is at the top of this blog post.

Nick also believes in the importance of having a community to lean on as well as contribute to.  Over the past couple of years, he has continued to be a huge support and inspiration to me through his art, blogs, video lessons and willingness to make time for students like me.  He recently made himself available for a 15-minute interview so that I may share some of his wisdom with you. 

If you are an artist needing direction, I highly recommend his workshops and if you can’t afford those, just sign up for his blog "The Artlife".  He often sends out videos discussing his work, process and problem solving.  Read on for our conversation about his influences, challenges and maneuvering through the business of art. 

A 15 minute interview with west coast abstract artist, Nicholas Wilton.

MG: You seem to be a master of creating patterns without making the painting have a “wallpaper” feel.  Is that something that you have to work for or does it come naturally? 

NW: People always say to make exciting design, you have to have a variety of sizes and shapes and things, and you can, for sure…but you can also [work within] a pattern.  If the pattern is repeating, that can be somewhat monotonous because when we look at one part of the picture, the same kind of feeling occurs in another part of the picture, so that’s the recipe for sort of boring somebody.

Nicholas Wilton Color-Field-1 Abstract Painting Mixed Media ArtNicholas Wilton, Color Field One, 36x40, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

But if you can offer differences within that context, that can become really interesting.  So, for example, maybe the pattern repeats, but the color is different on different parts of the pattern. Then that becomes noticeable and interesting.  Or maybe the texture is different.  (Pointing to the painting above.) That painting looks like little chips of color [in rows].  That’s not a very particularly exciting pattern because the pattern isn’t really anything…just a bunch of colors…but I’m talking about colors and the conversation about color.  All of the sizes are the same and they are in a line but I’m really paying attention and offering the viewer something that’s different.  There are contrasts that happen to be in the [different] colors.  Patterns can be wallpaper like but when you change things within that, then it becomes exciting.

MG: The first artist you studied with was a stained-glass artist Ludwig Schaffrath.  How did working with glass influence how you paint now?  What was the biggest lesson that you learned from him as a new artist that you carry with you today?

NW: Well I entered into it more as a craft.  I liked making things, so I was learning how to make stained glass.  The thing about stained glass is that [you start with] incredible pieces of glass.  Some are translucent.  Some are transparent. There’s glass from Germany that’s really beautiful. What you learn pretty quickly is that maybe it’s the materials that are so amazing. 

Let’s say you pull out this amazing piece of glass that you love. It’s so beautiful just on its own. Then you cut it up and you make a flower out of it... So, I became interested in the questions of why do I keep taking this amazing material and turning it into pictures that happens to be made out of stained glass, but really weren’t very good?  When you think about a picture of a stained-glass flower, it’s kind of bric-a-brac. It can be kind of cheesy.  So, I started to look around at different artists that were doing work as good as the materials.  

Nicholas Wilton Art 2 Life Workshop Work TableAn Art 2 Life Workshop table.  The raw materials are just as important as the finished product

 

Ludwig Schaffrath was making these incredible modern day monastery windows…very contemporary and very much in alignment with the glass. I was seduced by the materials because of the caliber of the finished product.  The materials were so good that it upped my game to get better at designing and using it. What I learned from this gentleman when I was 15, is that the only thing you can really do is something personal and unique.  If you want to copy reality, that’s fine but you have to do it in a way that’s personal. He was the first one to press that idea that I still teach today and try to do in my own work.

MG: I recall you saying in a workshop that you can try to make your art look like another artists’ but it’s never going to.  It’s always going to look like you. 

NW: Yeah.  We can try on different ways of working.  I can copy an artist for a day and try to make my art look like theirs but you won’t stay there very long because it’s not very interesting because they’ve already done it.  But it is important for you to pull out and discover the reason why you were attracted to their work.  You might love Mark Rothko but you don’t want to be Mark Rothko.  You just want to understand the way he’s using color because that’s what you love.  I wouldn’t want to do a Mark Rothko painting because he already did them all.  People learn that eventually and they move on. 

Nicholas Wilton Bone-Yard Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Bone Yard, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery (I LOVE this one.)

MG: What is the most challenging part of being an artist at a professional level?

NW: I think there are three parts: 1. Isolation 2. Not having all of the information to do this…it takes time to have all of the information, how to paint, what to do when you get stuck, all of that technical stuff and then 3. Having the right place to do it.   I couldn’t make these paintings in a small room anymore.  I had to move to a bigger space and it was scary.  I had to pay more, I wasn’t sure I could do it… Having a practice that works…that’s something you have to learn.  They don’t teach that.  Having a good community and a solid art practice or approach and just the basic information.  That is what I teach in my online courses and workshops.  If you can give that to people, that does it…. especially the community part.

Nicholas Wilton Millwork Abstract Painting Mixed Media ArtNicholas Wilton, Millwork, 60x60, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG:  So creating a community of artists that you see regularly and having people that you talk with often…

NW:  Yeah and even connected on a Facebook group or whatever.  I’m really interested in creating community…that’s why I’m talking to you right now. We are staying connected.  We might not have talked for a long time but we’re connected and I just believe that’s a path that allows me or anybody to do this rather unusual activity and pull it off successfully. 

MG: You teach workshops as well as painting.  Do you enjoy one more than the other? Do you feel that teaching and painting complement each other?  How? 

NW: They work in conjunction.  I don’t think I could teach if I wasn’t doing the practice.  I have my own personal practice and then I’m helping people develop theirs.  I do these Sunday blog posts and those are done completely spontaneously.  I’m painting and then I learn something new or I’m getting new perspective and I just share that with people. Certainly, the teaching is derived from the painting. And teaching clarifies my own practice.  The best I ever paint is after 7 days of teaching a workshop.  I go home and I can pretty much guarantee that I’m painting more confidently and probably a little bit differently than I was before I left.  So, it’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned.  It works for me.

Also, you can’t forget that by teaching I’m getting inspired by all of these other people.  When I see your painting and what you’re doing…you’re painting larger now…I get that juice from you.  There’s been an exchange because we’ve worked together a little and I see what you’re doing and it’s bigger and it’s “wow!” and that fires me up and my day is just a little bit better and I use that energy to go do this challenge (pointing around the studio). 

Nicholas Wilton Pin-Point Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Pin Point, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG: You had a gift line business adventure at one time.  How did you feel when that opportunity came along and why did you ultimately decide that it wasn’t for you? 

NW: I created the opportunity in a way because I was tired of doing illustrations…you get paid for one and then do another one and another one and another one… I would make some really good art but it would just disappear so I thought “how can I make some of this art stay around?” and the idea of putting it on products, gifts specifically, like trays, boxes and tote bags, came along and I worked with some friends and we created a company. 

What happened though was that the momentum, the need, the desire to sell, that directed the company, of course…that’s the whole point…to make money.  But my direction was partly that, but to also make the best possible work I could.  And at one point, one of our biggest sellers were basically little tiny cheap reproductions of paintings that you could get at Walmart or Bed Bath and Beyond for like $5. I saw my own personal work [reproduced] but I was uncomfortable because I’m also a fine artist and I had done a lot of work to keep my work at a premium, to keep the prices high, to make it prestigious, because it is. It’s what I do.  It’s really important.  But I saw that this was cannibalizing that and I didn’t like that.  It didn’t feel good to me.  And when something doesn’t feel good to me, regardless of the money, I know from art, from my life, you don’t do continue doing that.  You do something else. There are alternatives.

Nicholas Wilton Blue-Storm Abstract Art Mixed Media PaintingNicholas Wilton, Blue Storm, 12x12, Mixed Media on Panel, Caldwell Snyder Gallery

MG: Spring is almost here.  Seeing as nature is such a big influence for you, do you notice that your paintings and pallet choices change when the seasons change? 

NW: Yeah.  I think so. My studio isn’t heated and I’m warmer now, which is half the problem.  I get so damn cold in here because these ceilings are so high so I’m bundled up in the Winter and it’s just a hard road for a few months.  Also, I think Spring is more of an opening and unfolding and Winter is a closing more.  There is an ease to it and a looseness and more color.  I think there tends to be, over the course of an artist’s career, to go from control to more and more loose and more and more exploration and an opening or broadening and I think that relates to seasons as well.

MG: What piece of advice would you give a young artist starting out and does that advice change if someone is starting out as a young artist vs. an older artist? 

NW: I just think it’s important to realize that each person, old, young, whatever, whoever, if they’re interested in doing this and if they can pay attention to what they love, and really focus on that and look within themselves, that’s really the path to making personal, authentic, sellable, desirable work that you love.  That’s the path and that’s available and they have everything they need they just may need some guidance.  Everybody’s unique and everybody can therefore make unique and personal work.  They just have to pay attention to themselves.

Learn more about Nicholas Wilton on his website.

The painting at top by me is "Original Bubble" 12x12 Acrylic, Paper and Graphite on Birch Board and was one of the pieces I created while attending Nicholas Wilton's Art 2 Life Workshop in 2014.  

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