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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Comments (5):

Marigny on

Rebecca – Thank you so much for reading!

Rebecca Janes on

Hi great posts on Nicholas Wilton and the other ones also. thanks.

Marigny on

Judy – You are most welcome! Thanks for the comment. He is amazing and generous.

Jan – Thank you very much! Yes…I feel very lucky, indeed.

Judy Levit on

Marigny, this was a great interview. Thank you for making it available. I took Nick’s CVP online course and I am also so very happy that I found him! I have learned so much and love being a part of the continuing online community.

Jan Allsopp on

Great interview Marigny! I’m a NW fan too having done his CVP online course. I’d so love to do a workshop with him sometime. You are lucky to have such a good and generous teacher in your life. So nice that you’ve kept in touch.

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Quarantine Week Three: Why I’ve Abandoned My Home for My Van

Emotional Phases of the Pandemic (so far):
One – Preparation
Two – Positivity/Optimism
Three – The calm before the storm
Four – Irritability
Five – And now I live in my van

 

So, what’s everyone up to this week?  Are we still at peace with the situation or have we crossed over into Emotional Phase Four of isolating with my family, or as I’m referring to it, Phase “I thought I had my shit together but naw, I was just avoiding everything by cooking, cleaning, and freezing food, and now I clearly see that I’m approaching irritable at best and ‘everything you do is meant to hurt me’ at worst.”     

With Phase One, came preparation.  As a person who runs anxious, I was preparing on the early side, as I saw the doomsday scenario unfolding.  Three weeks ago, I had made copious trips to the grocery, cooked gumbo, Bolognese, veggie soup, and frozen mucho foodo.  We had TP, cleaning supplies, dried goods, frozen goods…we were good to go. 

When at Phase Two, I held my optimism dear.  I was turning towards art and creativity and wanting to inspire others to do the same.  I started an artists’ group on the Mighty Book of Face called “QuARTantine”, where we could all share the art we’re making at this time, which is now over 100 artists strong.  Yes, we may have to be in our homes, but the introvert within us was silently cheering, as we hunkered down to watch movies and make art. 

After preparation and optimism, came Phase Three, aka the calm before the storm.  I got into a “wipe down” routine with the kids.  Instead of "happy" hour, we have "wipey" hour (which doesn’t even pretend to sound as fun).  To their credit, the teens are being very helpful and not complaining about the extra chores around the house.

I made art, wrote, and tried to get comfortable with the quiet, and the mood swings that were (and still are) occurring in my house.  I slept, did laundry, made lists.  All-in-all, I felt like I was doing a lot of pacing around. 

Being a native New Orleanian, Phase Three can be compared to the laying low feeling of waiting for a hurricane to arrive, and also the community togetherness that we experience after one passes.  Not many cars on the road.  People out and walking around, waving to each other from porches and cars.  Everyone just hunkered down for the storm’s arrival, while simultaneously interacting as if it was already over. Tres weird. 

Here is where Phase Four is coming in.  The storm hasn’t arrived yet.  Either that, or I’m just not used to a quiet storm.  It’s as if the feeling of anticipation that comes right before a hurricane is just lingering around, teasing us. 

Well, I don’t much like being teased and so it makes sense that Phase Four is coming with a storm surge of irritability, and short fuse pressure system.  When, “Go fuck yourself,” becomes the response that wants to come out of your mouth for about 95% of situations, it’s probably time to reassess a few things.  

So that’s where I’m at today. I’m choosing to take a little bit of space.  Our van is coming in handy, and while the smell of surf wax is making me long for the waves, being in a space that is separate from everyone else feels like a dang spa day.  

 

We just have to find the comfort wherever it is right now. 

 

On a creative note, I was attempting to paint something “meaningful” during this time, but it wasn’t really working out…my brain just can’t really process it all yet, I think.  So, I lightened everything up by creating some coloring pages for you to print out and have fun with. 

The lightness of them is cheering me up immensely, and I have to admit, going back to working with only black and white is freeing.  Similar to the stay-at-home order, less options equal more simplicity, meaning less energy needs to be put towards decision making.  *Deep breath…We just have to find the comfort wherever it is right now. 

Expect to see more of these coloring pages, like this one at top, in the weeks to come.  I’ll be emailing them out to my Artventure community each week, as well.  (Click here to join and receive my coloring pages once a week via email.)

So, what phase of isolation are you in?  In the comments below, let me know, and tell me one action you’re taking to practice good self-care. 

Apparently, I’m at the beginning of Phase Five, which is Phase “I now live in a van down by the river, and I do it in the name of peace and sanity”.  Have a great week.  I’ll be chillin’ here:

Marigny Goodyear Art Van Life

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.  

How the Pandemic is Actually Calming My Anxiety the Fuck Down

When the shit has already hit the fan, there’s not much to worry about anymore.

 

I’d like to do a study.  How many people out there, who consider themselves to be content and calm individuals in their day-to-day life are freaking the fuck out right now?  Now, how many people who are anxious 95% of the regular time, are actually finding that their anxiety/depressive tendencies have lessened now that we are in uncharted waters?

Now, I don’t want to piss you or the internet off by seeming cold and/or insensitive, and that is certainly not my intention, but after these past ten days of isolation, I have actually been finding myself feeling less anxious and (I hate to even say it) but rather liberated.

I feel terrible even admitting this as I know that the coronavirus is causing illness and death all over the world. Please don’t take my words as me saying that I don’t find sadness, frustration, disappointment, anger, and helplessness within this situation.  I do.  Believe me. I feel ALL the feelings right now. 

But hear me out…I am one whose brain has a tornado of “what ifs” cycling at turbo speed most of my waking time.  Most of the “what ifs” have to do with myself, my business, my family, my insecurities, my shortcomings, etc.  I’m a worrier.  That’s what I do.  So, you would think that during a pandemic, I would be crazy with worry.  I’m not. 

 

Over the past week, I have been getting calmer and calmer.

 

Over the past week, as I’ve been getting calmer and calmer, and I have been thinking about why this is. Last Fall, I discussed that anxiety can be quite helpful in a crisis.  Part of the reason is because when things are in chaos externally, my brain that normally cannot focus on every option that is spinning inside tends to slow down (or maybe outside has sped up and less contrast makes a clearer vision...I'm not sure).  I can see all of the things that need to get done and act accordingly.

In this particular situation, that meant that I had the bulk of my grocery shopping done and I had weeks of frozen meals prepared about two weeks ago.  In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team.  This did not surprise me. 

What did surprise me is the feeling of freedom that has been creeping in, especially within the past 5 days or so.  It’s totally counter intuitive!!!  During a quarantine, I feel free?  I mean WTF is wrong with me?  I’m coming to the understanding that there is nothing wrong with me.  In fact, moments like these may be exactly what I was born for.

 

In a crisis, I am definitely someone you want on your logistics team.

 

Here is what I’ve discovered:  Prior to this new reality, I worried about everything.  I felt I was a failure in my day-to-day life, with few exceptions.  I was constantly battling a negative internal dialog that told me I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t do enough, and that I would never be “successful”…whatever the hell that means, or meant...

Most of what that horrible voice in my head did was compare me to others, and definitely tied money to success, which I never seemed to have enough of.  In that life, I always felt out of place.  I always felt that what I was doing what just a little bit “off”.  I questioned my ability to contribute to the world and I was filled with fear about EVERYTHING.  

I’m still scared, don’t get me wrong, but here in this new reality, everyone is scared.  No one is sure what this new reality means, how things will change, and what their roll might be within it.  Financial situations that were once solid are now unsure.  Job security is uncertain.  In fact, the only thing that seems certain is that we are in for one hell of a shift.  We just don’t know how big or to what extent that shift will manifest.

 

Here in this new reality, everyone is scared.  Everyone is unsure.  No one knows what will happen next.

 

Now, the rest of the world knows what it is like to live in my head.  I’m comfortable with terror, because I live in it most of the time.  I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it.  I can find solace in cooking a bunch of food because I am used to finding solace in the small things that I can control.  The rest, I just have to surrender to. 

As you know, I love to surf.  Part of the reason that I connect with surfing is because there is nothing like a wall of water barreling towards you to zap you into the present moment.  In the past, I have referred to surfing as “jet fueled mindfulness”. When I’m in the water, I don’t think about my day-to-day worries that spin in my head all day long.  All I know is that I have to take action in order to deal with the approaching wave.

That is why I feel comfortable in this new reality.  We are all in an ocean of unknowingness.  The one thing we seem to all agree on, is that there are more waves coming.  I have not been thinking about this Summer, or next Fall.  I have been thinking about today, and tomorrow.  Just as when I’m surfing, I am being forced to live in the moment.

 

I can relax in the chaos, because I have spent the past seven years learning to find the silver linings within it.

 

The whole world has slowed down.  We, for once, are all recognizing a global situation that effects all of our communities.  We don’t know what will happen next and in fact, I’m not sure that our monkey brains can even process thinking about it. 

We have reduced our need for control down to toilet paper, canned goods, and cleaning supplies.  I believe that's why there is panic shopping.  It's one thing that we can control.

I don’t feel alone or apart from everyone anymore.  I don’t feel like my actions are at all “off”.  I am certain in my abilities to plan forwardly, while living presently.  For instance, I foresee that having a veggie garden may be very helpful in the future, and I know that to get started, I need only pick where that garden will be placed and bring in some soil and get some seeds.  Step one, step two, step three…

The chronic worry in my brain that never turns off has quieted.  The anticipation feeling of butterflies in my tummy is gone.  It’s as if I was worrying for the entire world, and now the world has taken it over for me so I can be a source of strength and simply continue to DO.   Today on my walk, I actually thought to myself, “This...this right here may be what I have been waiting for.” 

Crazy, huh?  I hope I don’t sound like some ignorant, myopic, insensitive person.  It is definitely not my intention.  I do think that this situation is going to bring up conflicting feelings for everyone.  All I want to do in this moment, is honor them all. 

Does any of this make sense to you?  Has the pandemic created new feelings that maybe you’re unsure of?  In the comments below, tell me one of those feelings. 

I do feel deep in my heart of hearts, that we are going to be ok.  That our community separation and isolation will only serve to, oddly, bring us closer together.  That we will have a greater appreciation for each other and all of our talents, especially the ones that perhaps don’t get honored regularly enough. 

I’ve never in my life been happy about my spinning hamster wheel, endless ticker tape of thought, tornado brain.  Right now, I’m 100% grateful for myself, just as I am…and that may be a first. 

I am also aware that I need to cherish this moment as I'm sure my perspective will be marred eventually.  I'm also aware that I am blessed in this life to be able to have this perspective right now.  I'm going to hold onto as long as I can and accept when it changes into whatever it will be next.  Who knows?  Maybe it will stick around a while.  

 

The image at top is a detail from Derby Day, 12"x12", Mixed Media on Birch Board. 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure. 

 

 

 

 

  

Join the Great QuARTantine of 2020!

During these uncertain times, it is important to continue to express ourselves. Music, art, poems, essays, comedy, monologs...I want to see it all.  I've just begun a quARTantine.

 

Isn’t uncertainty fun? I’m sitting here at the computer, and I’m used to words flowing from my brain to my fingers with ease.  Today, I’m having trouble figuring out what to say. 

We are in uncharted territory.  On Saturday, the teenagers were still asking me about future plans and my response was, “We’ll see.  It’s day to day at this point.” Now I feel like it’s minute to minute.  We went from no gatherings of more than 250 people, down to 25 in four days.  

The feelings I’m having now can only be compared to the feelings that I had in the weeks/months after Hurricane Katrina when uncertainty was the biggest obstacle in our path.  Last Friday, when shit started getting real, I felt as though there were jolts of electricity in the sides of my belly.  It occurred to me that the only other time I’ve felt that was after the Big K.

 

We are in uncharted territory.  

 

I feel a bit lost, like I’m roaming in an unknown land.  I kind of wish our local government would just shut everything down.  Being ordered to stay home would make decision making much easier. 

All my zombie apocalypse grocery shopping and food cooking is done.  Today, I thought I would get a good work day in, but instead had to deal with a number of people I know freaking out.  In truth, I was probably combatting their freak outs with my own freak out, but hey, I’m trying. 

The hard truth is that we don’t know much.  We are faced with an unprecedented situation, much like we were when our city was filled with water.  At least then we could flee the city…

I keep thinking about myself, constantly talking about searching for the beauty within the chaos.  It’s so hard to think of a bright side or silver lining right now. People are sick and dying and I have trouble making light and I’ve been slowly but surely getting irritated with memes that are making fun of the situation (although that didn’t stop me from creating a pandemic playlist on Spotify). 

But in an effort to practice what I preach, here is a list of ten silver linings to quarantining, (yet I admit that this list is more applicable for an introvert than an extrovert). 

  1. No more awkward run ins with people I don’t want to talk to at the grocery.
  2. Much less grocery store errands in general.
  3. No more traffic.
  4. Dolphins have returned to the Venice Canals.
  5. China’s emissions are at zero.
  6. Our global footprint as a whole, will reduce.
  7. More time with the teenagers.
  8. I’ll finally be able to organize the garage.
  9. I won’t get behind in weeding my yard.
  10. Art is not cancelled

 

Being a New Orleans girl, I’m not surprised that my first instinct last week was to find solace in cooking lots of food. But with that done, I’ve decided that art is my answer.  I can’t control much of anything right now, but I did order a ton of canvases last month in preparation to make my “breathe” series. 

“Breath” is taking on a new meaning now, and the idea for these paintings has changed.  For one, I’m going to enlist my hubbie and the two teenagers to help.  I thought that having an ongoing art piece in the studio for anyone to contribute to at any time, would be a great way to pass some time at home.

My first concept, which we are going to start this afternoon, will be a collaboration aiming to give all in my household an outlet to express all the feelings they are having.  It will be an ongoing piece and I'll keep all of the art supplies out and easily available for anyone to jump in at anytime.

Aside from that, I’m going to go for long walks, meditate, practice Yoga, write, paint and I’m thinking that since we’ll all be in isolation, I’ll make some videos to send out to my community.  I can make this quarantine a quARTantine. 

I’d love it if you would join me. For those of you on Facebook, I have started a private group called “QuARTantine”.  This group is a place to share your art, craft, music, essays, poems, monologs, skits, etc. while we're under quarantine. It looks like we're going to be inside for a while. The good news is art is NOT cancelled.

 

Let's inspire each other during this time and stay in touch with our creative nature.  CLICK HERE to join the group.

 

If you’re not on Facebook, please email your art to me at Marigny@MarignyGoodyearArt.com and let me know if I may share it to the QuARTantine page.  

We may be having to isolate, but we are not alone.  Hang in there.  Stay well and be smart. We got this.

 

With love,
Marigny

 

The image at top is from my Control & Chaos series which will be offered for sale next week.  Marine Layer, 48"x48", Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  I know that times are tough, but I've decided to press on with my sale.  After all, this series is all about controlling what we can, and giving the rest to the Universe.

If you still have disposable income, please help me keep my doors open by purchasing some artBecome an Artventure VIP and get early access to the sale by CLICKING HERE.

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Looking Back Can Propel Me Forward

When I’m not sure what to do next, my personal history can act as a guide.

 

Happy Thursday to you!  I hope that you are staying sane, healthy, and happy. Lots of crazy things are happening in our world right now and self-care is paramount.  Since all of our near future travel plans have been derailed, it seems that now is a good time to hunker down at home and make lots of art.

One problem: art has been kind of hard for me to make recently.  In the past couple of months, I have written about having trouble gaining any sort of 2020 momentum.  There is no doubt to me now that I am in the midst of a greater transition than I initially thought.  I am having to remap how I work, my goals, and my need to keep control over the future.

 

I am the type of person who once implements a plan, has a hard time diverting from it.

 

I know that we don’t have much control over what happens to us in the future, however, I am the type of person who once implements a plan, has a hard time diverting from it. It’s like the channel gets burned in my brain and I do whatever I can to make that particular plan happen.

Well…simply put….my plan wasn’t working.  I have to be willing to surrender to the way things are happening, which is what I wrote about last week.  I feel amazing to have made that choice and in fact, a few things are already opening up to me in new ways.  All I had to do was make room for them in my stubborn brain.

One thing in particular that I’ve been struggling with is creating new art work.  I have completed one painting in 2020. Compared to the 92 pieces I made in 2019….well…I have a bit of work to do.  Problem is that I burnt myself out so bad at the end of last year, that I don’t feel particularly inclined to do anything specific artistically.  In fact, the idea of getting back into the studio feels pretty daunting, and that is super unusual for me and my art.

 

Art is a practice in meditation and it is extremely calming to me. 

 

I know that for me, being creative every day is a powerful tool.  It enables me to get into that space where thinking stops, time flies, and my inner most thoughts pour out of my fingers and into whatever creative project I’m working on.  Art is a practice in meditation and it is extremely calming to me. As you know, I tend to run on the anxious side…

When I first found the art program at my high school, I fell in love with drawing.  I used mostly pencil and loved the way the graphite looked on the paper.  Whenever I tried to add color, I was unhappy with how it changed the initial drawing. 

I have always been a collector of children’s books and especially the amazing visions of Chris Van Allsberg, most famously known for The Polar Express and Jumanji.  His illustrations are lush and vibrant and most of them are done in nothing but pencil. 

Seeing his success made me realize that there was nothing wrong with using only pencil.  I was hooked.  I would bring my sketch pad and some photos to my favorite coffee shop and draw for hours.  It was many of those drawings that got me into art school.

 

Marigny Goodyear Art Pencil DrawingMy first pencil drawing in a long while of my happy place, in progress.

 

Fast forward to now.  I’ve been walking in and out of my studio looking at my supplies, trying to find a glimmer of inspiration to no avail.  Then I saw my pencils.  I pulled up some of my favorite beach photos and began drawing one.  I haven’t done this in a long time and it feels like an old friend.

I’m at the point in my personal transition that I see a glimpse of a new routine developing.  Now that there is a work in progress on my art table that requires no preparation beyond picking up a pencil, I’ve been getting back into a creative groove.

 

By looking back to something that I once absolutely loved to do, I’m re-discovering some passion.


Now, I’m aware that my hands cramp up faster, my eye sight is not as good as it was when I was younger, and I may have to invest in one of those magnifying lights, but that’s ok.  I’m willing to adapt.  The important thing for me to remember is that by looking back to something that I once absolutely loved to do, I’m re-discovering some passion, which 2019 nearly took all of. 

We all know how it feels to be “stuck”.  Perhaps there is wisdom in looking backward in order to create new solutions to move us forward.  Does that make sense to you?  I’d love for you to tell me, in the comments below, about a time that you gain new insight from your past.  

I’ll share the finished drawing soon. In the meantime, above is a painting from my Control & Chaos series, which I’ll be offering at the end of the month.  Destroyer, 24"x24", Mixed Media on Panel.  It’s funny, I’ve always thought of the “control” being the centering part of this series, but now that I’ve surrendered, I’m seeing quite an amount of wisdom in the “chaos” part.  That may be where the pearls lie...

 

CLICK HERE to become an Artventure VIP and get early access to the Control & Chaos sale.

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure. 

How I Find Strength in Surrender

 

Sometimes the strongest decision we can make is to surrender and let the Universe take over.

 

Do you know how it feels to be derailed from your plans because...well...life happens?  For about three years now, I have been on a pretty singular track of painting, writing, and growing my art business.  I have made great strides, figured out lots of strategies that DON’T work, and a handful of things that do.  I have been working towards the goal of being a successful independent business owner, which has been a dream of mine since college.

Here I am, going about my day to day, working my butt off developing and implementing plans to grow my business. You know…just continuing on with the status quo. Then life decided that those plans, the ones that I have put my heart and soul into for years, may not be what I should be doing right now. Currently, it seems life has other plans for me.

Now, I’m not saying I’m giving up on my dreams.  Au contraire! I am still painting, writing my blog, and marketing and selling my art.  However, the pace I was going at is no longer realistic.  I can’t work as I have been with the extra monkey wrenches that have been thrown at me over the past six months.  It just ain’t happening.

What was happening is that I was trying to do it all, and working myself into an anxious, depressed, exhausted state, and that isn’t good for me or anyone around me.  I have been taking great care of myself over the past month or so in order to feel healthier, but also to shift my perspective on what I “should” be doing right now. 

 

Life is a series of chaotic situations stacked on top of each other, periodically broken up by moments of peace

 

Last Fall, as the craziness descended, I would get a twinge of angry butterflies in my stomach when I thought about my work.  The victim in me thought, “Why me?  Why am I the one getting derailed?”  My stubborn side dug its heals in and said, “I won’t let it happen! This is my work and it’s too important for my attention to be elsewhere!!!” Then I got tired.  So. Very. Tired.  And then I saw the truth.

It's simple: I am needed in other areas of my life right now.  Without starting a heated rampage about how this type of stuff always seems to fall on women, I will say that I have made peace with surrendering to the situation at hand.  Before, I considered surrender to be a decision made in weakness.  Now, surrendering feels like the strongest decision I could possibly make. 

The truth is that life is a series of chaotic situations stacked on top of each other, periodically broken up by moments of peace.  The sweet spot, I’m realizing, is to be able to find those moments of peace while the chaos is occurring.  The alternative is to be in the chaos and only see the chaos, but frankly, the idea of that makes my eyes feel tired. 

My ego clings to an idea of what I think I should be doing, should have accomplished, and should be working towards.  When in resistance, my ego is throwing a fit, wondering why the world is working against it all the time. 

My ego is inflexible, wants what it wants when it wants it, and loathes those that get in the way.  “Stay the course, no matter what!” is my ego’s mantra. And guess what? That also happens to be the easiest path to frustration and self-victimizing because life fucking happens to all of us, unscheduled, and at inconvenient times. 

 

Surrender is the path to freedom.

 

In times like these, surrender is the path to freedom.  Surrender will allow inward flexibility to develop. It will show me that all is not lost, no matter how big of a temper tantrum my ego throws. In fact, it allows me to see impossible situations through new eyes. 

If I allow surrender to guide me, I create space for new and endless paths to show themselves. We think of surrender as giving up when really surrender is peace in action. 

Now that I have consciously surrendered to my situation, I feel more at ease.  I feel open to the idea that perhaps this is actually the road I’m supposed to be on, and not so much a diversion.  What if where I was before was the diversion and now, like an omnipotent Siri, the Universe has now kindly rerouted me? 

My Hubbie asked me today what I wanted accomplish in the next ten years.  My response? “Whatever the Universe wants me to.”  I understand that could be a rather infuriating answer to some, but I am having trouble thinking about the next month.  Who knows what will be thrown our way in the next ten years… 

Crisis occurs at some point or another to all of us, and crisis doesn’t care about how full our calendars are, that we have vacations planned (hello Coronovirus travel restrictions), or that we had the next year of our lives mapped out (my 2020 revenue and marketing plans in their original forms have been thrown out the window at this point). I mean, the phrase, "shit happens", didn't come from nowhere.

 

It is what it is.

 

Over the years and multiple times, my oldest and dearest friend has said to me, “It is what it is.” It is up to us to either accept what we are given to work with, or continue to bang our heads against the wall as we sink our claws in to our best laid plans while refusing to adapt to our lives.  In a way, the peace is the chaos. 

A strong current is downright hellish when your swimming against it. But if you stop fighting towards that original destination and let the current carry you, you feel nothing but an effortless motion as you drift towards a mysterious place, possibly not on your original map. 

If it is truly all about the journey, not the destination, then it doesn’t matter where we end up.  It only matters how we feel while getting there.

Think back to a time in your life where you felt derailed.  How did it work out for you?  Were you able to settle into to the change or did you stick your original plan, come hell or high water?  In the comments below tell me the first reaction you have to the idea of letting it all go.

  

At top is from my Control & Chaos series.  The Bus, 48”x48”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  Sometimes the way out is to get on the bus, let someone else drive and stop thinking so much. For more info, and to get on the VIP waitlist for the Control & Chaos sale, click here.

 

 

I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure. 

Calling in Suffering: How We Invite our Pain to the Party

Pain, anxiety, and suffering are the teachers within our lives, but do we actually call them in so that we grow?

 

Anyone else having trouble reading the news, or going on your social media feeds?  Every time I take a look at my newsfeed, I feel a deep sense of despair.  6-year-olds being arrested, Coronavirus, environmental doom, and the circus that is our current election… It’s extremely hard for me to be bombarded with the chaos of the world and not feel effected by it on one level or another. 

I am a highly sensitive person.   You know, the kind that cries during sappy commercials, while listening to music in my car, or sitting on my surfboard in the ocean.  I am exceptionally emotional.  Both the beautiful and the ugly side of life can slay me.  I used to say to myself that I shouldn’t let life affect me so deeply, but it’s simply how I’m wired.  I can’t change my feelings.  I feel what I feel.

 

I am exceptionally emotional. 

 

In the past, that used to frustrate the hell out of me.  As I’ve gotten older, I realize that there are some benefits from being so emotional.  In parenting, I can sense my daughter’s moods easily.  In friendships, I’m hyper aware of when my friends need help.  My anxiety actually makes me great in a crisis.  I can take a look at the chaos in a situation and break it down into achievable parts. 

I am able to feel myself so genuinely, that I can channel those feelings into writing, or painting.  I also understand and appreciate art and music to a point of feeling absolute bliss or sorrow, merely by taking a look or a listen. Sometimes a deep blue sky will shake my heart with gratitude.  I can’t help it.

I was having tea with a friend today who believes that we call in every experience in our lives.  Every single one.  Even the traumatic and horrible ones that may involve other people’s hurtful actions.  I was skeptical and wanted to know more. 

 

The more we want to learn, the more challenges that we will inevitably face. 

 

In a nut shell (because this was not a short conversation) she said that in our lifetimes, we have a need and desire to attain a certain amount of growth and that it is the hard stuff in life that are the catalysts for that growth.  The more we want to learn, the more challenges that we will inevitably face. 

I find this view interesting. It would mean that I called in all of the chaos in my life.  That is a rather hard pill for me to swallow, but the more she explained, the more it made sense.  I do consider myself a seeker... 

She went so far as to say that we have, collectively, called in the world as it is today for our own evolution.  That there is purpose behind it all.  Even though I feel conflicted by the theory, I must admit that I found some comfort in it.  It gave meaning to pain and suffering. 

My sensitive nature makes it so I am not usually able to sit idly by without questioning or considering “why”.  I can’t usually feel pain and sweep it under the rug.  I want to know where it comes from.  I am constantly looking for what I can learn from it.  If I am not searching for answers, I am sitting in pain.  Knowledge is my way out. 

I have always been of the mindset that I must let go of the things that I can’t control.  What if the things I have perceived as not being within my control, I have actually called in? What if my sensitive nature is like a super power that grabs onto certain types of pain that, in the end, will lead me to my own development.  

I agree that I learn the most from the painful situations in my life (as opposed to when everything is peachy).  But can I possibly reframe my perspective on pain to this extent? Did I call in the asshole driving next to me yesterday that flipped me off twice?  Did I call in my past drinking problem?  How about my issues with anxiety?  Today, I have so many questions.

Does this make any sense to you?  In the comments, I’d love to know the first reaction you have to the idea that we could actually invite all the pain in our lives. 

There is no question in my mind that the pain in our lives creates growth.  But until today, I looked at it as random occurrences that I happen to run into.  Instead, perhaps it is our sensitive natures hard at work, ready to embrace our next teacher.  Can I embrace pain and welcome it into my life, having faith that I called it here? 

I have a feeling I’m going to be thinking about this for a while.  I’m also oddly looking forward to the next painful experience I have, simply to see if I can separate myself from it long enough to wonder what I needed so bad that I summoned it in the first place.  Shit…maybe by typing the last sentence, I have invited it.  Oh Lawd.  I’ll report back on that one soon.  

 

 

The photo above is Beautiful Entropy, 36”x36”, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas.  It is from my Control & Chaos series which I will be offering for sale at the end of March.  To get first dibs to the sale, sign up for the VIP Waitlist by CLICKING HERE.

 
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis, I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes.  To hear from me more regularly, join me on this Crazy, Beautiful Artventure.