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.  

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!

You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon 

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.

Leave a comment:

Other articles:

Why I Won't Let the Fear of Failure Hold Me Back

Fear of sharks seems reasonable but it's a fear of failing as a West Coast abstract artist that really terrifies me.

Thank you to Tiny Buddha for publishing yet another of my essays.  I have really had to redefine my relationship with fear.  Well...first of all, I had to figure out what it was that I was so scared of all the time.  I lived my life terrified of disappointing those around me, that I wasn't good enough, that I didn't do enough... The negative self talk could continue for hours.

Then I figure it out that all of these terrors stemmed from one place: Fear of Failure.

Notice how I capitalized "Failure"...I didn't do that on purpose and I could have fixed it. However, I realize that is just another way that shows how much power I give to that word so I'm going to let that be.  Failure.  FAILURE.  FAILURE!! It's really just a word.  

I don't know where this fear came from and frankly, I don't care.  I'm just sick of it and so I'm learning to change my thinking.  Check out the full blog post on Tiny Buddha by clicking here.  

And let me know your thoughts.  Do you allow your insecurities to hold you back? If not, what do you do to get past them?  

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!
You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon.
 

6 Questions I Ask Myself to Determine if I'm Doing My "Best"

 "Just do your best", is something we say so readily.  But how do I know if I'm doing my "best".  These 6 questions will tell me.

Greetings from Hell…or Southern Oregon…whichever name you prefer.  We have been, once again, inundated with smoke due to all of the wild fires in Oregon and California.  This is year number 3 of thick smoke and limited outdoor activities, which I understand, is not that long.  I know folks down in California that have had their actual county burn for a 5th year in a row, so I don’t want to bitch too long about it all…we have it pretty good comparatively.

Marigny Goodyear Art Wild Fire SeasonGreeting from Hell. Usually, there is a beautiful mountain view behind me. 

In fact, I’ve been pretty proud of myself in that I’ve managed to retain a positive frame of mind during Mother Nature’s imposed house arrest.  I have gotten out to surf a few times and when it’s clear(ish) in the mornings I get to take my walk.  However, with my kiddo starting school soon and Summer coming to a close, it’s time to get back to a full work schedule.  All of my big Summer travel is done and although I know I’ll sneak off to the coast when I can, I’m really looking forward to getting back to work. 

To be honest, I feel as though my work got pretty interrupted in the Fall of last year when I registered for an intense education program with the goal of getting savvier when it comes to growing my art business.  I knew I would have to divert my energy and so I let go of writing 2 blog posts per month and being quite so prolific in the studio.  I was well aware that with the extra work from the program, I would be spread quite thin, so I chose not to fight it and to just do my "best". 

That program ended recently and so I can get back to some of the things that I really miss, such as writing my blog.  Over the past week or so, I’ve gotten myself almost caught up with my day to day and I keep just telling myself that the work will get done if I just continue to do my "best".

“Do your best” is something that I say to myself and my daughter pretty often.  Recently, however, I have found that even though my intention is to “do my best”, I usually feel as though I should be doing more than I am, that I should have more accomplished than I do and that I should be somewhere further along by now in my business.  Don’t ask me to define where I think I should be…I can’t.  It is an arbitrary finish line that I understand I will never, ever reach.  I will never think I’m doing enough therefore, I can only do my "best" and try to be kind to myself in the process, right?

Marigny Goodyear Art Lobster Roll
Summer travel may be a distraction...but I did get to eat this most incredible lobster roll...so there's that.  

I really want to stop “shoulding” all over myself, but my analytical side has a very challenging time figuring out when I’ve done my “best”.  The problem I’m having is that my “best” also seems arbitrary.  I am, and have always been, extremely hard on myself.  I have definitely improved on the negative self-talk and I have more trust than ever in my art and my business abilities.  That being said, I’m also an artist with a business degree and the numbers and spreadsheets part of myself would really like a way to measure if my “best” has been met each and every month. 

So here, in as dorky a way as possible, I have come up with my own questionnaire in an effort to gauge what I have to do in order to do my “best”, not only in my art and my art biz, but in my life in general because hello…there is more to life than work and for me, balance is key.  I’ll record my own answers as I go:

  1. In no particular order, list the things in life that are most important to me, my well-being, the well-being of my business and the well-being of my family (because let’s face it, if Mama ain’t happy, aint NOBODY happy).

    Answer:
    Creating art, creating growth within my business, writing, exercise, surfing, being outside, cooking healthy sit down dinners for my family, spending time with family and friends, being useful within my community (including family, friends, surf and art communities).

 

  1. Last month, did I do all of the above in some form or another?

    Answer:
      In July, I had a lot of travel on my menu and so the amount of art and writing created did not happen in the abundance that I would like to see. I did, however, make some art sales, had an art show and received great press both locally and regionally.  I got a good amount of exercise in the form of surfing, yoga, walking and dancing.  I have actually been quite good about cooking all of the food in the fridge (no vegetable left behind!) and sitting down to eat with the fam when we’re all home.  I had excellent time with family and friends at High Sierra Music Festival, surfing, and during a trip to the North East.  Hubbie and I got away for 3 days of surfing, the music festival, and a date night.  Community wise, I did my own beach clean ups when I took my beach walks (there is always trash to pick up), I took my daughter to visit colleges and I helped her create a resume so she can find a part time job. 

 

  1. What did I do more than enough of and not enough of?

    Answer: 
    I hung out with my friends way more than I normally do. I didn’t do nearly enough writing or create enough art.

 

  1. Were there any extraordinary circumstances that hindered me from accomplishing all the things?

    Answer: 
    Yes and no. There was a lot of travel and so access to my art studio was limited. That being said, I could have sketched and written more on the road.

 

  1. Did I do my best?

    Answer:
      On everything but creating art and writing but I’m gonna go ahead and cut myself some slack as creating art outside of my studio can be challenging for me and I did manage to make some new art when I was home. Also, I tried some experimental writing during my flight and was writing once a week on my Patreon page, which has been serving as my diary, so even thought I didn’t add to my blog, all is not lost.

 

  1. What will I improve upon this month?

    Answer:
      I’m already doing it! Now that my education program is done, I want to get back to posting blogs twice a month (thus this mid-month blog post) and getting more done in the studio. Also, I know that getting outside will be difficult with all the smoke in our valley, so I will make sure to do my morning Yoga and meditation, take my morning walks when possible and get to the coast when I can. 

 

Ok…so I have to be honest...I embarked on writing this blog post totally accepting of the fact that I was going to realize that during the month of July, I didn’t nearly do my best.  But now that my best isn’t quite so arbitrary, now that I have defined what my best is for me, I see now that I did a pretty damn good job. 

It is also informative to me that at the beginning, I was already putting myself down.  I had already made the decision that I didn’t do my best in July.  I wonder how many million times I’ve given myself hard time about not doing my best when it’s just plain not true.   Well, now I have 6 questions that will take care of any future confusion for me, or for any of you who might know the negative self-talk struggle. 

 Marigny Goodyear Art Ocean Sculpture
Check it out!  I made a pretty cool sculpture in July.  It's not done yet, but I'm getting there!

We all have the ability to put ourselves down.  Some of us do it much more than others.  If you struggle with knowing if you’re doing you best, I’d love for you to try out my questions and see for yourself if you are, and if you’re not, where you can improve.  It’s not a win/fail determination.  For me, I know it’s just a matter of seeing it written down, in black and white, and making adjustments where I can.  

Or you may be like my daughter, who when I asked if she ever has trouble figuring out what her “best” is, she looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No. I just try my hardest.”  Ah to be blessed with a mind that doesn’t over complicate things. 

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!

You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Faith in the Pacific Ocean

The Ocean teaches me how to be present and trust my gut.

Thank you to StillGotStoke.com for publishing my essay, Faith Found in 50 Degree Water.  The ocean continues to teach me many lessons about faith in my path, trusting my instincts and how to let go.  These lessons seep into my work as an artist, my parenting style and my relationships.  I am so grateful to have been introduced to surfing.  I think, in many ways, it saved me.  Amen!  

CLICK HERE to read the essay.  

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!

You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon.
 

I'm Bringing Simple Back

Being a West coast abstract artist means that, by default, I'm also a small business owner... But I'm not sure the same business rules apply to me as an artist.

So, the past couple of weeks have been…um…interesting.  I worked super hard at the end of last year to have a revenue and marketing plan in place for all of 2018 so that my year was planned out to the T.  How very responsible and business owner-y of me, yes?  Well…I think I’m throwing the majority of it out.

I have been a sponge when it comes to learning about growing my business.  I have taken more courses than I can count and worked with 2 separate business coaches since 2015.  The amount of information that has gone into my brain is stifling…literally.  Half the time, I feel like I can’t move.  I am the kind of person that given direction, I will take that ball and run with it until I reach my goal, or my legs buckle from underneath me.  Last week, they buckled.

I simply cannot keep up.  My drive to be a successful abstract artist, writer and business owner has brought me to the brink.  And I want to be clear here…it’s not the mission or the art that has led to here.  It’s my drive.  My never ending want for more.  My belief of, “By doing X, Y & Z, I will get A, B & C” just isn’t really panning out.  Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of all the suggestions that I have been given in order to grow my business.

  • Create art for all price levels
  • Write a blog to create content for my website
  • Submit guest blogs to places where my “ideal clients” hand out
  • Submit articles to magazines
  • Approach pod casts for interview possibilities
  • Email 3 people a day, 2 strangers a week and send specific articles via email or better yet, snail mail, to 1 person per week
  • Join Instagram (I won’t list all of the different ways I’ve been directed to use IG)
  • Join Facebook business
  • Run Facebook ads and promotions
  • Create a mailing list and send out emails often and consistently
  • Send out surveys to my mailing list
  • Participate in different Facebook groups
  • Create a Patreon page
  • Repurpose my art for art prints and products (I won’t list all of the different products that have been suggested…there are too many)
  • Create a webinar for people struggling with anxiety and depression
  • Create an “Excel for Artists” webinar
  • Create a private Facebook group for my fans
  • Collaborate with other artists
  • Do art shows
  • Do pop up shops
  • Do holiday sales (Christmas, Mother’s Day, Earth Day, etc…)
  • Be sending press releases to media regularly

 

And like I said, that’s merely a sampling.  I have a very hard time not taking every suggestion I get seriously (with the exception of “excel for artists” as I’d rather put hot pokers in my eyes that try to teach artists to be organized).  If you’ve been following me for a few years, you’ll know that I’ve tried the majority of this list.  I’ve at least dipped my toes in each and every one. 

You know what it’s gotten me?  Exhaustion, disappointment and SI joint issues from sitting at the desk. 

Marigny Goodyear Art Surfing
More of this please...

Plus, I feel like I’m further away from my art.  I was told last Fall that at the phase of business I’m in, I should be spending 80% of my time on marketing and 20% on creating art.  I’m just not sure that I can sustain that.  In fact, I know I can’t.  The complexities of trying to weave all of these things into my day to day has hurt my productivity rather than helped it.

 Here’s a statistic that I’m not too happy with:  In 2017, I created 54 paintings (wow!).  If we broke that down by months that would mean by the end of April 2017, I had completed 18 paintings.  This year, I’ve done about half that, so far.  Now, I’m aware that I didn’t do all 54 of those paintings evenly divided over the months.  I know that I did 20 small ones in the months leading up to the holidays. Regardless, I’m not painting nearly as much as I want to be.

Marigny Goodyear Art in the studio
And more of this...

I kind of freaked out on my business association Facebook page last week.  Here’s an excerpt from that freak out: “I want to make art, sell art and surf. It's a little frustrating that in order to do that, I have to become all of these other things. Patreon, pop up sales, webinars, conference calls, blog writing...jeez...can't I just paint? I spend 6 hours a day with this stuff and 2 in the studio. I freak out every now and then from this pace and have to run to the coast to hide from it all.” 

To my surprise, do you know what my business coach’s response was?  “I want to make art, sell art and surf.  This is exactly what you should do, no questions asked. Your business needs to reflect this Vision in its Mission, and you need to shave off everything that is not in alignment with this.”  Amen. Hallelujah. Queue standing ovation here.

True to self, now that I have a person of authority in my life telling me that I should do what I want to, I now feel I have permission to do so.  (Sorry Mom…apparently, I had to pay someone to tell me what you’ve been telling me for a while now.)

So, more art.  Of all kinds.  No more: “In order to brand myself, I need to stick to a square canvas only using this one technique”, or “I have to only paint one theme or subject”, or “I can’t stray from my established prices”, on and on, etc…  I’m actually working on some small paintings right now and I’m not using paper in them…OMG! Imagine!

Marigny Goodyear art in the office
And less of this...

As an artist, I think I should be experimenting all the time.  That’s what will keep my work interesting and my passion ignited.  And as a person, I just need the ocean.  I’m so much happier when I’m surfing regularly.  I know that I need to give my business attention, but I’ve been attending the fuck out of it for a few years now and I haven’t necessarily seen the rewards for focusing on the business side of things.  Don’t get me wrong, there has been some growth, and I've learned a lot, but not enough to justify sustaining this cray cray pace.  

I’m pulling back.  Re-assessing.  Simplifying.  Remembering my passions and why they should ALWAYS be the focus. I want to be doing the things that spark my soul more and the things that turn me into a puddle on the floor less.  More art.  More surfing.  Less computer time.  Less bitching.  Word.

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!

You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon.
 

An Artist’s Search for Self: Dude, where’s my Ikigai?

The adventure of becoming a West Coast Abstract Artist, has led me closer to finding my Ikigai, and  I have definitely found what I DON'T want to do.  

I have just returned from 9 days on the beach.  My body is strong and relaxed and my soul is full…and I’m terrified.  Yesterday I was confident and feeling that I was in the right place at the right time doing the right things.  Now that I’m back at work, I’m scared that I will deplete all of the amazing energy that surfing for 9 days in a row, going for long hikes in the red woods and spending time with my loved ones has given me. 

Well, not this time, negative voice!  I have seen a few things pretty clearly over the past couple of weeks and I’m definitely aware of what I DO NOT want to see happen.  My predictability is finally in the forefront of my brain which means I'm getting to know myself better.  I do not plan on being surprised by my negative thinking habits and the confusion that it can cause so here, in no particular order, are some changes that are going to be implemented immediately: 

I am NOT, in any way shape or form, allowing my passions to turn into something I dread by marketing them to death.

I have made huge headway in the realm of marketing.  Ok….maybe not in the way that I thought I would but headway regardless. I have been taking course upon course and absorbing every bit of marketing info that I could get my hands on.  It’s been great, but guess what:  I’m done with that for now.  I can’t take any more info about ideal clients, email campaigns, revenue streams and goals…I’m just overwhelmed by it all and frankly, I fear that worrying about all of this stuff has taken me away from the part of this journey that I’m actually passionate about, painting and writing.  I dread sitting at my desk because of the lists of marketing tasks on my plate.  It’s time to simplify.  Because if I don’t, I’m going to hate this journey super fast and I really don’t want that to happen. 

Marigny Goodyear abstract artist essay writerWriting has become a path to better understanding my Ikigai

People resonate with my writing more than my painting.

Not something I would have ever foreseen…but it’s ok.  I like to write.  I didn’t know that I liked it.  All I do is write about what I know which happens to be struggles with anxiety, depression, the feeling that I will never truly be happy and how my art and being in nature helps me out.  Through writing about it, I understand it SO MUCH BETTER.  Through understanding, I have been able to make some serious habit changes that help me from being perpetually pulled towards negative thinking and I have helped myself enormously. 

And guess what I found out in the process? A lot of people have the same problem.  So many in fact, that when I write about it, people contact me from all over the world.  No lie.  I hope that eventually my writing will lead people to my painting but I’m also open to writing being a larger part of this adventure if that’s what is meant to be.  

I don’t want to manufacture new goods into an already “over saturated with stuff” world.  I want to create original works of art.

One thing I have learned in the first quarter of this year is that I don’t like the way manufacturing new products makes me feel.  I did my first pop up shop in March.   Many of you bought tote or beach bags, throw pillows and canvas prints and I thank you all dearly, from the bottom of my heart for purchasing.  I wish I could say I was going to proceed with the other 3 pop up shops I had slated for 2018…but I’m not gonna.  It felt really weird to try and create some awareness around the state of our oceans and coastal health, and simultaneously be creating new goods. 

Sure, they were made in America, but there was a lot of polyester involved, and I’m sure toxic dyes, etc.  If I ever create art products again, they will have to be 100% eco-friendly.  Plus, that pop up shop took way too much time and energy away from my art and I began feeling disconnected from my own adventure.  It’s not for me. 

Marigny Goodyear Art Creating Joyful Adventure on Patreon

However, I love Patreon and will continue to grow my inner art community there.

I launched Patreon only a few weeks before the pop up shop and then the shop kind of took over everything and so I didn’t really promote it all that well.  I still managed to gain 12 Patrons on Patreon and I have really enjoyed updating them weekly, and doing my monthly recap video.  It feels like an online diary and much more intimate than the Book of Face or Instragram.  The 12 people I’m talking to care enough to give me money every month in order to be part of my inner art journey.  That’s powerful! 

The road in front of me will show me which way I should go…and this road is pointing me to art, surf and adventure. 

When I’m driving on the highway, I have 2 choices, keep going straight, or take an exit.  I cannot get off the highway where there is not a road in front of me.  (I mean, I guess I could but it would be super bumpy and there is a likelihood that there would be expensive repairs involved.)  Why make things hard when there is an exit just up ahead?  I have recently received funding from a Patron that I have decided will be put towards my dream of the MKPG Art Trailer.  I really did think it was just a dream until this funding came along. 

I have just over 2 years until my daughter will go off to college.  During that time, I am going to build a mobile art studio/gallery to tow behind our surf van.  We will go where the surf takes us and I will be able to continue painting and writing essays and will get a vending license to sell art on the road.  You know when you pull up to a beach, and you see that guy or girl with jewelry out on a blanket and everything they own in a back pack next to them and you think, “how on earth do they make that work”?  I want to be that wackadoodle person (albeit with an vanpartment and mobile art studio in lieu of beach blanket).

Marigny Goodyear art surf adventure pacific northwest
All I ask for is pure joy. I think that's what the Universe wants for us all anyway.

Creative living as an artist and writer makes me unbelievably happy...and simultaneously terrified.

Truth is I’ve always been that wackadoodle person who desperately wanted to be “normal”.  Instead of embracing the creative parts of myself, I always ran from it as if it were some sort of super strain disease.  I’ve realized that creative living is actually the only type of living that makes me happy, but it also happens to be terrifying.  Instead of embracing my true nature, I’ve allowed that fear to steer me off my path thinking it would be the easier way.  Guess what?   Not easy, and there have had to be many repairs made in the forms of sobriety, therapy and a deep look inward.  I have realized that by not just simply being who I was born to be, I actually complicated my life into a pretty big cluster.

We may think that the choices we make are safe but unless they are congruent with our true essence, those “safe” decisions can sink the ship.  In Japanese, the word Ikigai means “a reason for being”.  Finding one's Ikigai can sometimes take a lengthy search of self but once found and followed, life becomes satisfying and has meaning.  We must always be in alignment with our callings or be actively looking for them.  After a long search, I have found that mine is art, surfing and adventuring and so, going forward,  that is what I shall think about when making every decision. 

Have you found your Ikigai? Please share in the comments below.  I’d love to hear about what gets you out of bed in the morning.  XO

The painting at top is Herons 2  8x10 Acrylic, Paper, Graphite and Crayon on canvas (Gold floater frame included)

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!

You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon

How Giving Feeds the Soul (even if it's inconvenient at times)

Illness, death and injury can be seen as HUGE diversions from the things we should be doing and can create resentment.  I suggest that perhaps being of service when our family, friends and community needs us does more good than harm.  Service feeds the soul.

Happy March everyone!  Can you believe that it is already the third month of the year?! It has been a crazy couple of months for me.  I’ve implemented Patreon into my art business in order to build a private community around art and personal development (click here for more info) and today marks the opening of my very first 30 Day Pop Up Sale on my website where I’m offering limited edition art prints, tote and beach bags and throw pillows.  March’s theme is taken from my Pelicans painting. 

I was hoping to have awesome photos to share with you from the last Surfrider Foundation beach cleanup and in reflection, write a blog about being of service.  However, life has not cooperated with me and my best laid plans for the beginning of 2018 have not happened quiet the way I thought they would.  Normally, that would have pissed me off royally.

In truth, I can’t believe that I have launched both my Patreon community and my first quarterly Pop Up Sale on time.  The first week of this year, I worked hard and focused.  I made these two new programs my priorty…but then I got sick.  I was laid up for a week.  Not much I can do about getting sick, so I took the week to focus on my health.

The next week I was ready to dive in again!  Full steam ahead!  And then I got a call from one of my oldest and dearest friends.  Her mom had passed very suddenly and unexpectedly.  So, I was on a plane to New Orleans to help in any way I could.  I was there for about a week.

When I got home, I was ready to rock and roll!  I worked for about 3 weeks, hard and fast to make up for lost time…and then my daughter got the flu.  I kid you not, I have never seen her so miserable.  She was sick and out of school with fever for a full week. 

To those of you who may say “Hey that last one isn’t a problem!  You work from home!” you either don’t have children or you’ve never had to take care of a sick one.  I was either cooking, cleaning, running a bath, disinfecting, doing laundry, rubbing her head, dishing out medicine and fending off the junk myself (because I’m not going down this time!), and trying to work in between all of these tasks.  I became completely behind and missed the beach clean-up because of the flu.  It’s no one’s fault.  It’s just life. 

The day she was well enough to leave the house, I woke with a crick in my neck that hurt so bad, my mobility was effected.  My husband had to help me do things like put my hair in a ponytail and trying to get a hoody on made me weep.  So, painting was out….and I had a commission due to a client by the end of February. 

Interruptions, distractions, emergencies are all things that can divert our routines.  Instead of becoming frustrated, perhaps we can look at these things as a way to give back.

Marigny Goodyear Art air travel protectionFresh off the Flu and onto the plane to New Orleans. I would have never chosen to travel that close to being sick, but wachyou gonna do?

 

In my past life, all of this would have blindsided me and my work flow so badly that I immediately would have gotten frustrated and inevitably, contentious feelings would have grown towards all of these people and problems that were stopping me from doing what I wanted to be doing.  Resentments y’all…no fun at all. 

That was the old Marigny.

The new Marigny celebrated her 5th alcohol free year on February 28th.  Yup, yesterday was my sober "birth" day. 

When I first was in recovery for alcoholism, I had to shed my old belief system 100%.  And while that topic is large enough to have its very own blog post, one of most important things I had to admit to myself is that my thinking came, in general, from a very selfish place.  I did a lot for others, but always with the expectation of getting something in return and when I didn’t get it, I would get really angry.  I was, of course, oblivious to this selfishness and when I figured it out, I was shocked and truly disappointed in myself.  

I discovered that a solution to this problem is to be of service to others.  At first, I tried to cram in ways to volunteer into my already packed and over scheduled life.  Recovery takes a lot of time and effort and sometimes it all felt very overwhelming.

But I realized something…being of service doesn’t always have to be applied to the food bank or the SPCA.  Although I have tried to involve myself more in my local Surfrider chapter because I’m passionate about surfing and my love for the ocean,  I realize that the most important people to be in service to are my family and friends.

These are the people in my life who have stood by me during my volatile times, the aftermath of those times and my journey to sobriety, my depressed states and my daily anti-anxiety rituals.  Why shouldn’t these be the people that I willingly and happily give my time and energy to?

Being of service takes me out of myself.  By helping those who are in need, I contribute to a larger part of life...the part that doesn't revolve around me.

Spiritually, I believe that there is nothing else that feeds the soul like being of service.  It takes me out of myself in a way that nothing else does.  As any and all activities that are good for me, service work never really sounds like that much fun.  I don’t mean to sound like an asshole or anything, but do you think that cleaning up trash or taking care of a miserable and grumpy teenager sounds enjoyable?  What about going to the aid of a mourning family?  Good times these are not.

But when I go to the clean ups and see all of the people that care for our beach, the “chore” becomes a bonding experience and ultimately brings me closer to my community and to the Ocean.  

After my kiddo’s fifth day of fever and third meltdown over not being able to hang out with friends on the long President’s Day weekend, I thought I would lose it.  I was looking at the painting that is due by the end of the month and felt panic rising, but then she looked at me and said, “Thanks for taking care of me, Mom.  I love you.”

When I went to see my friend’s father, who had just lost his wife, he just grabbed me and hugged me and thanked me so much for being there for him and especially for his daughter during such a terrible time.  

I realized that I sacrificed my work and plans for her, for him, for my people…because I’m a person and people contribute and take care of their villages when it’s their turn to do so. That’s what I choose and I can feel proud that I’m doing what a good person does and I’m doing it without pitching a fit because I know that in the long run, taking care of my people is good for my soul.  

Marigny Goodyear mixed media abstract art studio longhornsI swear to God my art table looked exactly like this for about 2 weeks.  It is a dern miracle that the longhorns commission was done on time.

Did my daughter take me for dinner to thank me for my “lost” week or treat me to a spa day because my body hurt after all the care taking?  Nope.  What I got in return is love from her and the comfort of knowing that she is cared for. 

The old me would have been fuming inside from all the inconveniences.  The 5-year alcohol free me is just happy to be able to be home with my daughter to be her nurse, rent movies and make food that she may or may not eat.  The sober me didn’t even think twice before jumping on a plane to help my friend.  And the community minded me didn’t cry about not being there for the cleanup (and, let’s be honest, to surf afterwards). 

And guess what…all of my work got done on time anyway.  If I would have had a fit, it would have been out of a projection of fear.  Fear that the shit wasn’t going to get done and that I was going to be a failure.  That was my old mind set.   Instead, I just shrugged and said, “Not much can be done about the flu, or death, or a crick in my neck.  It is what it is.”

I’m really excited about Patreon and my Pop Up Sale and about the next beach cleanup, but in the end, I am content knowing that I can parent without having severe FOMO (fear of missing out).  I can be here for my family because I want to be, not because I feel obligated to. 

I must admit that it makes me a little sad to think that’s how my brain use to work.  I felt like my family was holding me back from whatever the hell I thought I should be doing.  Now I know that it’s my family that lifts me up and it’s my community that holds me and makes me feel part of something.  

I don’t normally like to give advice, but here’s 2 cents from a sober drunk.  When you feel really bad about yourself, when life just sucks and you want to crawl in a hole, do something for someone else.  Spend an entire day dedicated to your child’s interests.  Grab a coffee with your Mom.  Make a surprise romantic dinner for your spouse.  Show love, Y’all.  I want my road to be paved with love, not money or number of paintings created.  Love.  It’s really all that matters and indeed, all we need.

And FYI - a percentage of the profits from my 2018 Pop Up Sales will go to Surfrider Foundation for ocean clean up and coastal health awareness.  There are always ways to give.  So go do it.

The painting at top is Stampede 36x36 and was commissioned by Taqueria Picaro in Ashland, OR. (And I completed it on time.)

Join my mailing list and be in the KNow!
You can also become a part of my art community by joining me on Patreon