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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How to Move Slowly & Mindfully Through Sadness

My goal this week is to cruise, slowly and mindfully, through a state of anxious and depressive dis-ease. 


I don’t feel that great.  Life has been challenging.  It’s one of those weeks where tears flow easily and at inconvenient times.  I am sitting in it.  I am not frantically looking for escape.  I want clarity.  If the brain tornado must spin, maybe I can make it spin slower, just slow enough so I can actually see what’s happening.

I feel bad sometimes that I end up talking to you, more often than not, about how crappy I feel.  I feel like I’m bitching and moaning and complaining with no end.  I try very hard to stay positive.  I attempt nearly every day to do the things that I know will make me feel better.


Anxiety and depression are my default.


I don’t choose to be like this…or do I?  That is the mind fuck that goes through me every time I get depressed.  Is depression comfortable for me in some way?  Like a warm blanket wrapped around my shoulders that closes me off from the rest of the world?  I don’t want to think that could be true but I actually don’t know any other way of being, so perhaps it is.  Anxiety and depression are my default.

If this is my nature, what can I actually do about it?  If this is how my brain works, is there a solution?  Or just ever-changing coping mechanisms as I choose to focus on one anxiety and depression buzz word or another. “Strategies” is what I refer to them as. 

“Strategy” is defined as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim”.  I adapt different strategies in my life to achieve a peaceful mind.  I meditate, exercise, eat well, surf, write, make art, recite gratitude lists and “I will” statements, and talk to my anxiety like it’s a person, all in an effort to find calm. 

It doesn’t always work.  Sometimes there are things happening outside myself that are completely out of my control that make it very hard.  I feel it would be easier if it were just entirely up to me, but there is a whole world out there constantly throwing situations my way that are unpleasant.  I am not an island.


What I have to remember is that same world is also throwing a vast amount of beauty my way as well.


What I have to remember is that same world is also throwing a vast amount of beauty my way as well.  That for all the bullshit that brings me to my knees, there is kindness, love, and chocolate.  I didn’t remember that until writing this, right now (which is why writing is so powerful for me).

I was hoping to have like 30 paintings finished to offer to you in March.  Yeah right.  The issue is that I’m attempting to make paintings that feel like a deep inhale and exhale.  Relaxing.  Calming.  That feeling will not make it through to the painting if I am panicking to meet an unrealistic deadline. 

The first painting of the series is coming along painstakingly slow.  While I’m doing it, I’ll feel myself speed up, wanting it to be further along than it is.  I have to take a deep breath and remember that slow is the key to these paintings.  I’m now hoping to have them finished by May.


One thing that does make me feel better is knowing that I’m not alone.


One thing that does make me feel better is knowing that I’m not alone.  That you are here with me.  Whenever you tell me that my writing or painting resonates with you because you know the struggle, it makes me feel better.

I’m glad that we are open to receiving the imperfect message that mental health issues deliver.  If nothing else, maybe it brings us together.  If you know the struggle, you know that it comes with a hefty side of loneliness so that’s pretty dang powerful.  I’m grateful for you.

I’m going to put away the computer today and get straight into the studio.  I’m going to put positive music on, and my studio tiara, and try to rock out the rest of this first painting…in a slow and mindful way, of course.  I’m excited to share it with you and I hope that the paintings bring across a feeling of calm.  It may be forced calm, which seems like an oxymoron but sometimes that’s the best I can do. 

Do you know this feeling?  I’m so sorry if you do.  Perhaps a bombardment of joy will help.  In the comments, tell me something good.  Something that makes you feel better when the struggle is real. 

Hopefully next week I’ll feel better and be able to lift you up.  Right now, I need some lifting so thanks for anything you can give.  Much love. 



Up top is a detail of the first “Breathe” painting.  Creating this painting is like an active meditation.  I hope when it’s done, that is the feeling delivered to you. 


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 Slowing Down Helps Me Accomplish More

For me, one of the easiest paths to anxiety is to try to do more more more, faster faster faster.  Slow it down, Girl.

Have you ever noticed that the more anxious you get, the faster everything seems to be moving?  This past week, I had to surrender.  To my to do list, to my own expectations, to the pressure that I put on myself, to the feeling that everything needs to be done RIGHT NOW. 

I had been working on a painting that wasn’t coming along well.  I was attempting to create the first in the series of “breathe paintings” that I told you about last week.  What was coming out was the prickliest looking “breath” I have ever seen.  It was pointy, sharp, not at all the feeling of inhale and exhale that I had hoped to create. 

I realized that my state of mind at the time was abrupt, self-critical, and racing like it was running around on fire.  How could I possibly create paintings that felt like releasing a deep breath if I myself felt frantic?

I wanted to rip it up and start over, but I had spent hours on this painting already. Shouldn’t I stick it out and see where it went?  I have a goal of when I want this series done by…I’d be losing time if I were to abandon what I had already begun.

I stared and stared at this painting.  I tried hard to talk myself into what it was becoming.  Then, I decided to wipe it clean.  I had already applied a good bit of paper onto the canvas so I wet a bunch of paper towels and laid them on top of the paper so they would gently become loose, and I removed everything I had done.


Back to a blank slate.


I immediately felt myself exhale.  “On the right path already,” I thought.  Then I began to apply paper again.  I felt myself slow, my actions almost in slow motion.  Pick up the paper, dip it in the adhesive, fold it carefully, and apply it to the canvas.  Over and over I did this. 

Occasionally, I felt myself start moving faster, that deadline creeping into my brain.  I took a breath, picked up a piece of paper and slowly continued, watching my pace as I went on.  A funny thing happened…my shoulders relaxed & my breath became deeper and more intentional. 

A few hours passed in this way and when I stepped back, ahhhhh there it was.  The deep breath that I was looking for was beginning to appear on the canvas.  No more prickly, pointy paper.  It was now smooth, calm, and flowing. 

I worked in that way for the next two days.  This morning, I woke with energy for the first time in weeks.  My first thought when my eyes opened wasn’t, “Oh God I can’t wait to go to sleep tonight.”  Instead, I woke excited to continue on with my painting... 

…which, as it turns out, I won’t be getting to today due to three appointments spread out over the day, and an early Yoga and dinner date with my Mom.  But it’s ok.  A shift has happened. 


A funny thing happened…my shoulders relaxed & my breath became deeper and more intentional.


I worked for a nutritionist and herbalist for nearly a decade.  During presentations, he would talk about the different types of energy and why sea turtles live so long.  Now, I’m sure I’m going to get this wrong, as I am not a healthcare professional or a scientist, but basically, we are either spending energy or building energy.  Sleep is our time for building.  Waking hours are when we spend.

Where do sea turtles fit in?  Well, he said that the reason sea turtles live so long is because they move so darn slow. They aren’t in a hurry ever, like at all. They spend waaaaaaay less energy when they are awake than we do and don’t have to work so hard during sleep to build energy back up and thus live to be two million years old or whatever.

I found myself thinking about this as I slowly worked on my painting and also today while running around from appointment to appointment. I reminded myself a couple of times to take it slow.  


When I am running anxious, I have a Mean Boss in my head telling me that I need to do more and I need to do it faster


I find, when I am running anxious, I have a Mean Boss in my head telling me that I need to do more and I need to do it faster.  I should already have accomplished more than I have.  I should be much further along than I am.  

That will make my insides feel like they are vibrating and I begin to move faster in an effort to get more done.  This is what I refer to as “chicken with my head cut off” syndrome (see also "tornado brain", "hamster wheel mind" and "running around as if on fire mode").  It feels frantic and panicky and most of the time, leads to exhaustion, miscommunications and me taking everything personally. 

But here’s the deal…it will never be enough.  I will never please Mean Boss.  I will never accomplish what Mean Boss thinks I should have done.  I will always not be doing enough.  I will always not be doing it fast enough, or good enough.  Mean boss is a real fucker. 

The thing is that if I listen to Mean Boss, and start moving faster, I and my work suffer.  I am not able to create my “breathe” painting and instead create a pointy, sharp painting because that is how I am feeling on the inside.

The answer?  Slow down.  Be mindful of every action.  Don’t think about the deadline.  Instead, think about how this little blue piece of paper looks next to the lighter shade of paper that I placed it next to.  Think about the curved line that I am creating with straight edges. Inhale.  Exhale.  I am breathing. 

Today, I find I’m reminding myself to simply slow the pace down.  I’m realizing that when I spin out into “go mode”, it actually feeds the anxiety. Instead of feeling accomplished, I feel even more like a failure.  It’s because I am trying to satisfy Mean Boss, who will never ever be satisfied.  


The answer?  Slow down.  Be mindful of every action. 


I have clarity on this today.  Tomorrow, I may not.  It is the ebb and flow of peace and anxiety.  I feel, as I’m settling into middle age, that the anxiety is getting worse.  Is it because there is more to do?  Maybe.  But deep down, I feel it is fear of running out of time to get all the things done. If I figure out how to fire Mean Boss, who will never be satisfied, will I then I solve the issue of never ending deadlines, and ever growing criticisms?  

My desire right now is to be that sea turtle.  To feel ok about my productivity, even if I am not running on full throttle 100% of the time.  To tell myself that I do enough.  I am enough.  I will accomplish enough...and to quote Stuart Smalley, "Gosh darn it, people like me".  Simple, yes?  Someone needs to get Mean Boss the memo.

Have you ever noticed the power in slowing down?  In the comments, tell me about one time that you helped yourself by simply taking things slower. 


The photo at top is a detail from the beginning of my first Breathe painting.  I have a ways to go, but already I'm finding it soothing.


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.

Being Kind to Yourself This New Year: Three Ways to Ease into 2020

After transitioning from blissed at the beach to stressed to the max in 3.5 seconds, I've turned my new year's intentions into anti-anxiety strategies.


Happy New Year Everyone!  I’m sitting at my desk after 2.5 days of catching up on correspondence and getting organized for 2020.  I’m going to get into the art studio this afternoon for the first time in about a month and I’m sooooo excited to get my hands dirty! 

I have been thinking for a long time now about a series of paintings that focus on horses and ocean waves.  In Greek mythology, Poseidon gifted the earth horses.  They were born of the sea and when you see waves break, those are horses rearing up from the surf.

In my mind, I’ve been thinking, “2020 is the year for this project.  I must find somewhere to volunteer with horses since I don’t know much about them.  I must start researching their anatomy and I want to know more about how they are therapeutic for people suffering from PTSD and emotional disorders.  I have to do this.  I have to that….” and now the hamster in my brain has begun its first 2020 run on the wheel.

As soon as I started thinking seriously about this project, I became completely overwhelmed.  To me, that means that it may not be time yet.  Maybe in a month or two.  Or maybe I just need not to be thinking about big projects while I’m still in the getting organized process of my January.  Which leads me to question, how I can already feel crazy when it is only the 9th day of the damn year?

We got back from our vacay this past Friday.  The weekend was fine.  I organized the house, took down Christmas, and got the studio cleaned up from the holiday madness.  I cooked food and watched football.  It was nice.

Then, Sunday night, I awoke in the middle of the night, the hamster in full sprint.  My brain was going crazy.  I found myself worrying about revenue plans, art projects, my family’s needs, if the boy scouts were ever going to come and pick up my Christmas tree from the curb...  I didn’t sleep much after that.  I practiced my breathing exercises and finally got another hour or so in. 

Monday, I was a bit of a mess.  I felt completely stressed out.  I had an appointment with my therapist and asked how it could be possible that while at the beach the week before, I was fine.  I get back home, and within three days, I’m in nervous breakdown land.  I mean, WTF for realz?

Just like that, I had slipped right back into worry and overwhelm.  Happy new year. 


My intention for 2020 is to stay positive, keep moving, and don’t be attached to outcomes.


My intention for 2020 is to stay positive, keep moving, and don’t be attached to outcomes.  Since Monday, I have found myself repeating this over and over and practicing my breathing.  I began to think about the horses, and frankly, they stress me out.

FYI – I’m terrified of horses. I have always been scared of them and they know it.  Every horse I’ve ever ridden, with the exception of one, has taken off with me on it.  They know I’m scared and thus, that they are in charge.  But I digress… Back to the breath.

Within 48 hours I have made a decision.  Yes, I will work towards the horse/wave project this year, but I don’t have to start RIGHT NOW.  I mean, jeez girl, calm down already. 

In my head, I had to have the project done like next week and of course all the marketing and sales work that go along with introducing a new series should have already been mapped out, and I don’t have my revenue plan for 2020 done yet, nor do I have my social media content thought out, and I already had to abandon a collaboration that I was supposed to have my part completed for and I had to back out, and I feel terrible for that, and I hope that person isn’t mad at me and…now I have entered the tornado…

Just breathe.  I am inhaling. I am exhaling.  Repeat. 

Today, I feel a bit more stable.  Maybe because my to do list isn’t two full pages long anymore.  Maybe it’s because I have decided to do a few “breathe” paintings instead of diving head first into the horses.  Maybe it’s simply because I actually slept last night from 11:00pm straight until 5:30am without waking up.

I will admit that on Monday, I went from “anxious” to “entering the panic zone” because I simply felt like a failure.  I thought, “Really? Even merely thinking of getting back to work and life is enough to send me off the cliff?”  It doesn’t seem fair, and sometimes I feel shame because I feel like I should be able to hold it together better. 

My therapist had to remind me that I am quite a capable person.  I had to remind myself that it’s ok to take re-entry slow.  So that’s where I’m at today.  My new year’s intentions have become strategies to easing in to 2020: 


Be positive – This will pass and I will get back into my routine. 

Keep going – Today a few more things have been checked off the to do list and I’ll make art this afternoon. 

Don’t be attached to outcomes – I wanted to work on horse/wave paintings, but it simply isn’t the time so I’m going to work on something else that doesn’t stress me out.


There.  That’s not so bad, is it? 

Did you get back to work from the holidays and is having or had trouble settling back in?  I’d love to know I’m not alone in this.  In the comments below, let me know your post-holiday experience.  I mean, does anyone out there actually feel rested after the holidays?

Just in case you need to hear it, it’s ok to take it slow.  Put one foot in front of the other until you find the pace that works for you.  I’m going to go take a walk before studio time.  Time to get outside again and let Mother Nature calm me.  Peace.


The photo above is my first 2020 action in the art studio.  I'm beginning a "breathe" painting, starting with painting paper in an abstract ocean scape sort of way.  From here I'll cut the paper and create a pattern on a darkly painted canvas.  I feel more relaxed already.


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.

Setting New Year’s Intentions Instead of Resolutions

I’m going to surf into the New Year with intention.

Do you ever feel like your blasted with joy this time of year?  It’s literally one of the most stressful times of year, and all I see are advertisements showing people smiling while shopping, laughing at parties, and turning out flawless table settings and meals.  Is anyone’s holiday reality like that?  Anyone?  Anyone? 

I always want to start the new year bright eyed and bushy tailed, with confidence exuding from my pours and optimism oozing from my eye balls.  AND I always find that come New Year’s Eve, I’m so stinkin’ tired from the holiday, that all I want to do is sleep.  I mean, who wants to start 2020 in a coma. 

I’m in a tentative place right now. I feel as though I’ve been laying the ground work for a successful New Year and I feel solid in the work I’ve been doing both on my business and in my personal life. At the same time, there are many reasons why I’m scared.

I’m scared because it’s my daughter’s last months living at home before she graduations high school and heads to college.  I’m worried because the business decisions I made this year have caused me to head into 2020 without much cash in my business savings account.  And if I zoom out, I’m plain frightened of failure.  That my art isn’t good enough and that I could be doing things differently at home.

What if I’m doing it all wrong??? 


Now, nothing sparks my anxiety like endless to do lists and shopping trips.  The grocery store is already one of my top triggers for anxiety, just on an average day.  This time of year, the shopping seems endless.  Holiday gifts, Christmas cards, post office, grocery stores, preparations for travel, post office again, now the kids need gifts for teachers and friends, aw crap I need host gifts for the parties I’ve been invited to, last trip to the post office (Gad willing), and the icing on the holiday shopping cake, COSTCO.

It’s amazing to me that we’re all not totally crazy by the time New Year’s comes.  Maybe we are.  Maybe we’re super good at hiding it...

For the past two years that we have stayed out West for the holidays, my Hubbie and I have bagged any New Year’s celebrations and have taken off to the coast to surf for New Year’s.  Is it because I don’t like going out New Year’s Eve?  Yes and no.  Historically, New Year’s was always a night that I looked forward to…but historically I was younger, and drinking.  A lot has changed.

It has been calming to hear not fireworks, but waves crashing and gulls singing. 


The last couple of New Year’s Eves at the coast have been quiet, restful, and mindful.  Being in the ocean for New Year’s has made me feel strong heading into the new calendar and cleaned me of the holiday stress.  It has been nice not to see all the street trash that is created by New Year’s celebrations.  It has been calming to hear not fireworks, but waves crashing and gulls singing. 

I am both excited and scared about 2020.  My daughter will be a college student and I will officially become an empty nester.  My business will be in its third year. The first piece of art I create in 2020 will be my 234th piece of art I’ve created while in business.  It will be my tenth anniversary of becoming a surfer.  My Hubbie and I will celebrate 15 years of life together. 

The truth is that it is coming, whether I’m ready or not.  I’m not…but hey…these days, I don’t feel ready for tomorrow.  The holiday uproar has created shaky ground.  The funny thing is I love Christmas…but I don’t love preparing for Christmas. 

Hopefully I’ll be literally surfing into the new year, but what if the conditions aren’t good and that isn’t in the plan?  I may spend New Year’s Eve at the Buddhist Temple. Meditating and participating in ceremonials meant to bring peace into our 2020. 


 Let’s create our future. 


2020 is coming.  My fear will not delay it.  As I write this, every inch of my being just wants to be back in bed.  I have two more days to push myself through before I get a work break and then another six days before I can begin to emotionally prepare myself for a new beginning.

I have never thought about New Year’s with this amount of intention.  Hopefully that will cause a ripple that will lead the way to a peaceful trip around the sun.  Fear be damned!  Peace be accepted!

That all being said, this will be my last blog post of 2019 and tomorrow (Friday) will be the last day of my holiday sale.  As of Friday evening, I will be on holiday vacation.  I will focus on my family and friends…and myself.  I will spend the days setting the intention for how I want my 2020 to unfold.  And then I’ll let it all go.  Hopefully to float away in the ocean to the land of intentions, where my seed will plant itself and my life will grow to new heights.  

And the fear?  It’s still there.  It doesn’t go away.  I believe that I can live alongside it, talking to it as if it were my sister and reminding it that while I know it will remain with me in 2020, that it doesn’t get to be in the driver’s seat.  That seat is reserved for peace. 

It’s time.  In the comments, tell me your intention for 2020.  Let’s set it together here and now.  Say it out loud.  Say it again.  Let’s create our future. 


Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.  I’ll see you in 2020.  XO





The painting at top is called The Line, 8x8, Acrylic on Canvas, $160 and is a reminder to surf the waves of life.  Make it yours 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.

Bringing it Back to Joy….Damn it

When the holiday chaos turns me into a grinch, I have creativity to show me the joy.


Ohmyfuckinggad!  I just spent like two hours doing gift research and it’s official: The holidays do NOT make me grumpy.  Shopping makes me grumpy.

I am not a shopper.  I really never have been.  I have been letting the same woman at the same boutique in my hometown of New Orleans dress me since I was 16.  16, y’all!!!!  I walk in and say, “Jennifer, I need jeans, tanks, and t-shirts that don’t look like t-shirts.” She disappears and brings me things that I love in my size.  The end.  

I joke that I will always have to visit home because otherwise, I’ll never have any new clothes. It’s true…I haven’t been in a year and I forgot to get tanks the last time I was there and now I have one tank that I wear every day.  Gross…but true…

My point is that it isn’t the actual holiday that overwhelms me.  It’s the massive expenditure and the time suck that shopping takes that stresses me out.  

We are all so friggin’ busy.  Between the three party invitations that I received just yesterday, I realize that my schedule is getting quite full and I have to be careful.  I cannot afford to take on too much and spread myself too thin.  I know where that will lead: exhaustion, anxiety, and me not wanting to leave my bed. 

Back to joy!!!!  I opened my online holiday sale to the public yesterday.  It has been nice for me to look back at the art that I created for this sale.  It is all art that breathes optimism, love, laughter, and joy, all feelings that I experienced creating this work, and definitely a feeling that I want to bring into 2020. 


I don’t want to start 2020 being more tired than the dead.


I don’t want to start 2020 being more tired than the dead.  I want to feel invigorated and alive!  Positive and hopeful!  I want to begin in a head space that says, “YES to life!” rather than, “Aw fuck, really?” 

After my husband decided THIS MORNING that tonight, we should take a family photo for our holiday cards, I was most def in an, “Aw fuck, really?” mindset.  Shouldn’t we have done that about a damn month ago?

But then I had to get on the computer and open my online holiday sale to the public.  I, once again, had a chance to take a look at the art work.  Heart Flowers for love, Love Clubs for laughter, Surfboards for joy, and A Lovely Mess for Optimism.  *Deep exhale.  Right…that’s what it’s all about. 


The intention I want for my life is expressed through my creativity.


I love this work. I love my life.  I love my family who supports me being an emotionally challenged artist.  And I love you!  YOU!  Who is on this crazy, beautiful, artventure with me and reminds me that I’m not alone. YOU!  The one who has read this bah humbug tirade of a blog post all the way to the end! YOU!  Who while reading this thought to yourself, “Oh Thank the Lawd, it’s not just me!” 

No, it’s not.  For every person out there wearing bells and reindeer antlers, singing, “Falalalala,” there are also those of us in fetal position, rocking back and forth in the corner, wearing a nasty and yellowing tank top saying, “Fufufufufuck,” as well. 

How’s your attitude today?  In the comments, tell me one holiday "jolly" that made you want to stick hot pokers in your eyes.  Today, the Salvation Army bell was this close to going up Santa’s you know what. 

All I can say is thank goodness for art.  It’s as if the intention I want for my life is expressed through my creativity.  Even though my mind may default to the negative, my creative side is always there saying, “Or, it could be like this…”   

Alright.  Enough of the tirade.  Time for joy.  It’s studio time. 



Shop my Joyful Art for the Holidays Collection by CLICKING HERE.


The paintings at top is Seagull Prism, 8x10, Acrylic & Paper on Canvas and comes in a natural wood floater frame.  Make this little surfboard and a large dose of joy your own, 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.

Tiara is my Super Power: The Strange Ways I Stay Calm

I’m standing on the corner of Stay Calm and Freak Out trying to decide which way I’m going to go. 


I know which way I’d like to go and I’m attempting to remind myself that I always feel like this before a show.  So, you know what that means…

…It’s full on TIARA TIME! 


Oh yeah.  I was standing in my studio right after kid #1 came in sick, and a half-hour later, kid #2 came in panicked and crying, and I thought to myself, “when did life get so chaotic?”  Then I saw the sparkling tiara sitting on my shelf.  I don’t know what it is, but that tiara makes me feel like a gad damn Wonder Woman.  I wore it the rest of my day and at the dinner table.  I have to love my family for not even mentioning it. 

Today, I’ve got to be in go mode.  I have to get the house ready to be cleaned, go to Trader Joes for cookies and cider, Office Depot for a new receipt book, get the Christmas decorations out of the garage (omg I hope the box is easy to find), and start transforming my house into a gallery. Oh!  And I’ve got to write this blog post.   (Thanks for helping me suss out today’s to do list.)  

Did I mention that I’m fighting off a migraine, whatever illness the kids have brought in, and haven’t felt so tired since having a baby? 

This is how tired I’ve been:  I went to the ocean over the weekend.  I surfed Friday and had a blast.  Saturday morning, I woke up to find a cold and windy beach but still, it was totally surfable.  I watched my hubbie and his BFF paddle out...and promptly fell asleep in the van.  Like the dead.  

Hubbie woke me when they got out.  I said hello, and fell asleep again.  We left the beach and went to BFF’s house where we ate and I passed out on the sofa.  Hubbie woke me and moved me back into the van where I slept until 8:00am the next morning.  Sunday, we took at redwood hike, which was lovely, and then headed home where I was in bed by 9:00pm.  I guess I needed the rest.

It’s been an exhausting couple of months.  Some of the most physically and emotionally exhausting since giving birth.  Before a show, I traditionally get crazy nervous anyway, but now, I’m heading into the show already feeling somewhat compromised.  I just keep telling my body to pretty please hold off on getting sick until Sunday evening.  

I am reminding myself that my holiday sale is filled with art all about joy, love, and laughter.  Plus, I’ve decided to display my series called, A Lovely Mess, which I have not shown locally.  A Lovely Mess is a visual description of the chaos of life, and the beauty that hides within, if we’re willing to look for it.

A good reminder.

I am so blessed in this life.  I am surrounded by natural beauty and amazing people.  I have a home, a car, too many clothes, and access to art, music, and the ocean.  I love playing records and paint-dancing in the studio.  I love surfing.  I have a beautiful family, and the added bonus that we all like each other a whole lot (well…most of the time…they are teenagers after all…).  


There are people in this world with real problems…like no access to clean water problems…and here I am whining about being nervous before a dang art show. 


I know that my feelings of anxiety are valid and deserve attention, but today, as I stand on the corner of Stay Calm and Freak Out, I find myself feeling guilty about feeling anxious.  There are people in this world with real problems…like no access to clean water problems…and here I am whining about being nervous before a dang art show. 

My feelings are real and should not be dismissed but I have to wonder, when did I get so self-centered?  Is it the culture that we’ve been raised in?  We live in an incredible land of privilege.  My guess is that even some people who live on welfare have it pretty decent when compared to a lot of the world.  And yet, I would also guess that we are one of the most stressed out societies on the planet.


I wish this holiday, beyond all else, that I could just flip a switch and make the anxiety disappear.


I wish this holiday, beyond all else, that I could just flip a switch and make the anxiety disappear.  I often think about the old crusty surfer that I met on the beach one day who, with a twinkle in his eye, told me that, “stress is optional”.  It doesn’t feel optional.  How does that happen?  How do I get there?  Teach me, Oh Crusty One.

So, great…now I’m feeling anxious over feeling anxious.  Dang, the hamster is running early this morning.  But I have hope.  I have hope because right when I wrote the sentence about the hamster, I pictured it in my mind, aimlessly running in the wheel, but this time, the hamster in my head has a fucking tiara on. 

My wish this holiday season is that everyone can drop a little joy into their stress filled days.  That when our families start getting under our skin, we can picture them wearing tutus and tiaras.  When traffic, shopping, wrapping and unwrapping makes us think of pollution, waste and debris, we can also see the sparkle of the season and remember how freaking lucky we are to be born here, and not Syria.    

That the dark side of life is only one side, and we can choose to focus on the light and joyous side, and simultaneously live in a way that doesn’t feed the dark.  What a gift that would be. 

Do you ever have guilt about feeling anxious or stressed?  In the comments below, I’d love to hear one way you could shift that perspective.    

And look, I know I’m a silly human.  I mean, who the hell puts on a tiara when they’re feeling stressed to the max.  Apparently, I do…and guess what…it’s all good.


Marigny Goodyear Art Tiara Therapy


The photo at top is one of my little relief surfboard paintings I've created, for the holidays.  They simply represent joy, positivity, optimism.  This one is Psychedelic Sea Stars, 8"x10", Acrylic on Canvas, Framed $280.  


CLICK HERE to learn more and join the waitlist to get early access to my online holiday pop up sale.  Give a one-of-a-kind gift of love, laughter and joy and receive a FREE GIFT FROM ME when you order.


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.