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A Tapestry of Color and Space

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I just started working on a diptych and have already put down a bunch of marks. While I’m pleased with what I have so far, the piece isn’t particularly harmonious – some colors and shapes are much more noticeable than others, and the overall effect is a bit disorienting.

Watch the video and discover how I solved this problem. Once you have, let me know how you adjust the compositions of your pieces – I would love to hear!

In gratitude, Nicholas

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The one thing you need.

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Maybe you haven’t been able to make your art for 6 months and now feel disconnected from it. Maybe the last painting or sculpture you made wasn’t as good as you imagined. Maybe your last show wasn’t as successful as you had hoped.

Even though these slightly disappointing events occurred in the past, they do, sometimes, have a way of bogging down the present. And if the present is affected then, of course, so is the future. It is so easy to let the not so rosy past bring us down. Why? How can we shift this mindset?

First we have to recognize that something is probably missing. It is the secret sauce needed to not only survive but to prosper. Not just in our art but also in our life.

It is the one essential gift that only we can give to ourselves. It comes from ourselves to ourselves.

It is the gift of Forgiveness.

So your imagined painting didn’t turn out as well as you thought. Forgive yourself. You tried something new and it belly flopped. Forgive yourself. You didn’t sell as many paintings as you desired? Forgive yourself.

Art making – pursuing the creative life is neither simple nor easy. It is a noble pursuit. It is about paying attention. It is about showing yourself to the world even when you might not feel ready.

So practice giving yourself forgiveness. Let go of the notion that your past challenge or difficulty is a reflection or predictor of what can become in the future. In fact those setbacks, those disappointments give you the experience, the feedback to better aim and achieve success in the future. The setbacks are merely adjustments on the way to success.

Every day is new. And so are you.

How do you not let the past affect your future?

Nicholas

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Start and Do Anything

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I recently started 2 new pieces and for a moment I had a bit of anxiety, trying to figure out where to begin! And then I remembered the secret to getting started.

Click on the image to watch the video and share your thoughts and comments. What is the first thing you do when you have a new piece?

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How to accomplish your dreams.

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Do you ever feel like you know what you want to accomplish but get overwhelmed in the process? I do. Whether I have given myself a goal of making a whole new series of paintings or dreaming of doing a workshop in Morocco. It doesn’t matter what the thing(s) is I am trying to accomplish, somewhere along the way my energy drops and I lose my way.

I recently was reminded of the solution to this problem by one of my artist friends and business mentor, Tom Miller, who recently facilitated an off site for the Art2life team.

It has to do with understanding the difference between thinking big, the mindset that allows you to come up with the big idea in the first place, and the smaller, more patient mindset of moving slowly, taking the small steps in order to accomplish your goals.

In the beginning when we set off dreaming and scheming that next big idea there is always excitement and passion. Finally we are identifying what we desire. It feels awesome. It is crucial we say what we want to do. Letting the cat out of the bag and setting an intention is the first step in accomplishing anything we desire.

However, once we start along the path to actually doing it, the luster and enthusiasm often diminishes. This is, I believe, because the mindset of thinking big is different from the mindset of accomplishment. In fact, they are opposite. This mindset of accomplishment is about moving slowly.

This second phase mindset is often one of patience, planning and small incremental steps. By its very nature it is just not as exciting. Imagining a series of 10 paintings all over 7 ft. tall is exciting. Cleaning out your garage or studio so you have more room to work is not. Adding to this problem is that there seems to be a million small steps, many of which feel mundane or tiresome, that all have to be taken in order for that dream to be realized.

What has been especially useful for me is to redefine these smaller steps, almost imbue them with more importance so I can stay on track. Here is what I do:

I create a roadmap. I write every step down I can think of that needs to be taken to arrive at my goal. I put them in order. These are like the stepping-stones to cross the river. It is relatively quick to do this and what you have at the end is a visual pathway with your goal at the end of it. There it is! All the steps leading to what you desire. This planning phase is exciting as it is so clearly connected to your desire. You are thinking big but also slow at the same time.

Even taking the first step moves you towards your goal. Not only can you see it, but also your progress is measurable which is super energizing. This is such a simple idea but it has made all the difference in the world for me. You might be in the weeds for a while but knowing where you are going by clearly seeing that star overhead makes all the difference in the world.

How do you accomplish what you desire? Please let the rest of us know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

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The Bold and the Subtle

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I was working on a painting today and was having a bit of difficultly figuring out where to go next…and then the solution hit me!

Click on the image to watch the video and let me know what you think – how do you get past potential roadblocks in your art?

Best, Nicholas

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Mindset Over Matter

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I just returned from a 3 day conference that focused on entrepreneurs and people starting small business. While there I had several realizations that are proving to be major game changers for my art practice, and now I’d like to share them with you.

Watch the video to see what I learned, and let me know what you think. What realizations or revelations have you had about your art practice?

Best, Nicholas

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How to bring back the joy in your art.

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How to bring back the joy in your art.It seems like wherever we are in our art making, we always want to be someplace better. Often, our art or our ability to make our art feels inadequate.

And it doesn’t feel so good. The real problem, however, is that this discontent sometimes never goes away. If we are not careful it can follow us around. It sits just out of sight with us in the studio when we are making our art and it even can follow us home if we let it.

Never feeling good enough is pervasive. Lots of people have this feeling.

It takes time to change this habitual way of thinking. But it is worth it if it even partially brings back the joy, and the ease of making your art again. If we can, then there exists the real possibility of bringing amazing, personal artwork into the world. This issue, this feeling of not being happy with where we are presently, needs some attention.

Here is how I like to reframe the narrative so that I can feel more content with where I am…

There is a very, very long road. It starts at the bottom of a valley and gradually winds its way up hills and then, eventually, it goes all the way to the very tip top of the mountain.

This pathway or road represents the entire creative journey you may take in your life. When you start exploring the possibility of making art you are in the very beginning. As one climbs this pathway the view becomes greater. The experience is heightened because it is more expansive in beauty and vistas the higher you go. You can see more and more. It can take years, decades, a lifetime even to climb this road.

The most fantastic thing is to be on the road. It doesn’t matter where you are on the road, only that you are on it. Some people are further up the road and others are further down the road. Your place on the road has more to do with time spent walking, not talent. Even though the road slowly gets better the further along the road you go, you don’t want to short change yourself by magically appearing someplace further up the road than where you are right now.

Each and every step forward is to be savored, because you will never get to move through this part of the road again. You get to do each part only once in your lifetime. You never get to go backwards. Only forward.

Here are just a few of the first steps possibly encountered along this path:

The first time you realize you can make art, the first time someone that matters loves what you have made, the first time it feels hard then incredibly easy, the first time you have a show or you give something you made away as a gift, the first time you teach someone something you have learned, the first time you get interviewed, your first solo show, and especially the unforgettable moment when for the first time, you know in your heart of hearts, that you are an artist

There are of course infinite steps you get to take but the most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to miss any of them.

The value of the next step you are about to take or discover is in part determined by the prior step.

So in this scenario, if you can imagine wherever you are on the road right now, then why would you feel you want to be anywhere else? The reason you are not at mile 50 is because you are only at mile 25. It has nothing to do with talent, lucky breaks, tailwinds, money etc.

What has helped me is to take all my dissatisfaction, my impatience and all the limiting negative thoughts about where I think I ought to be and re focus back to what I am making and where I am right now. Not surprisingly, this frees up a lot of energy, which now can be channeled back into your art.

So if you feel that sinking feeling of judgment or dissatisfaction creeping back in, take a breath and re look at what you are making right now. Take a chance, re commit to making it the best thing you have ever made so far. Savor this moment, this opportunity because it actually will never be here again in this certain way.

Do you sometimes feel dissatisfied too? What do you do about it?

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The Stages of Learning

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In my efforts to become a better teacher, I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading on how people learn. What I’ve discovered is that there are basically 4 stages of learning, each of which presents their own challenges and opportunities.

Which stage are you at? Watch the video and let me know!

Best, Nicholas

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Stay in the Driver’s Seat

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I’ve recently had a change in how I think about my work when it is not going as well as I want it to. This change has helped me regain control of my creative process and has made it so much easier to paint.

Take a moment to watch the video, and let me know how you stay in control of your work.

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Focus On Your Work, And The Rest Will Follow

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As artists, there are always distractions; maybe your work is not progressing how you would like it to, or perhaps your show didn’t go as well as you expected – what is important to remember is that in the end it all comes down to your work. As long as you are producing and developing your art practice, you will get to where you want to go.

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