Feeding an art journey

Feb 7, 2020

Fueled by wanting…

Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about my journey as an artist, particularly focusing on the last few years. I recently put together a little video to document my journey and quite frankly, when I saw all the work put together chronologically I was rather blown away. My work has changed so much! I have learned so much. I’ve done so much!

I changed my art in 2018. It’s all because I saw the free Art2Life Workshop videos. They changed me, they changed my art. Then my art changed me and when I took CVP, things changed again, my art, me, my perspectives, my confidence…

Years go, I went to art school followed by design school and I have to say that I have learned more in my studio about art and design than I did in those 5years of college and university. I think there are 2 reasons for this. 1. The pressure to perform was great in these schools. 2. I really wasn’t taught about making art or designing. We studied artists and designers and we made art and designed stuff, but we never actually talked about or got anywhere near what I have learned in the last 10 years working in my studio. 

In 2012 I was painting representational landscapes. Following that I focused on creating images of my dog Hunter who died just months after I set up my studio here in the Okanagan. 18 months later, I shifted to abstract. It was time to dig even deeper. 

I had no idea what I was doing but I bought piles of books and scoured the internet to teach myself how to paint abstracts. About a year after I began showing my work in a local winery, I stumbled upon Nick Wilton’s free Art2Life program. I was thrilled and relieved to find some solid, sound information about creating art. He was brilliant. I’d never met someone who shared information so generously. I watched and rewatched the free videos, eager for this information to soak in.

I was ready for something new. I’d been noticing how I was often trying to explain to myself and others why I painted abstracts with a horizon line. I had convinced myself that it was about loving the landscape and feeling hope from looking at a horizon. That might actually have been true but I was starting to feel suspicious that I was just playing it safe. I found a way to create an abstract painting and now I was stuck. That’s when I found Art2Life.

I remember telling an artist friend that I was onto something big and that my art was about to change. She didn’t seem terribly impressed nor curious at all. Some people don’t want you to change or advance. Never mind. I was going for it anyway! When the free Art2Life Workshop was over, I found out about CVP. I’d never heard of CVP before and now suddenly I had to make a decision. I felt stressed and rather sad. I hadn’t budgeted for a 3 month course,… I had a commitment to create a whole new series of paintings for the winery and another series for a group show later that year. 

Not taking CVP was tough. I knew taking it was the right next step for me and my art but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. When I take something on I am super committed. What I finally decided to do however, was commit to myself that I would work really hard with what I got from the free workshop and take CVP next year. I knew, a year would fly by, right?! It didn’t. It seemed to drag on forever!

Still, I tried to imagine what Nick might be teaching in CVP while I worked on my own with what I had from the free workshop. I dove into my work deeply, pushing myself, growing, struggling, changing. I reached out to artists I’d met who’d done CVP and joined facebook groups, all in an attempt to supplement the course I didn’t take.

Finally the time came. I could hardly wait to get started. I felt like a race horse that was standing behind the gate too long! I prepared myself mentally to let go of any expectations I’d developed over the year waiting. Let’s get this thing started!

The 12 wks were up before I knew it. What can I say? It was a fantastic experience. Chockablock full of nuggets, plenty of demos, coaching calls and support, and the part I appreciated the most,… the space to paint the way “I” want to paint. Don’t paint like him, or the coaches, paint like you! The penny is still dropping 9 months later. And I love that. I love how what I learned in CVP has been feeding me and filtering through my mind ever since day one of the course and each time I work in my studio more pieces to the puzzle fall into place. 

Doing CVP filled in so many gaps for me. Nick often says, that art school doesn't teach you what he teaches. And it’s true. It is so, so true. I have tools now that I go to when I get stuck. I have notes and guides that I refer to when I find myself painted into a corner. I’ve also seen how my decision making is more confident and I take bigger risks. All of this is just me being me more clearly. More fully. I’m very grateful that I took CVP and even more grateful that it actually exists. What a mess I’d still be in, trying to find my way around a canvas, though I’d kill myself trying. That’s what I do. I love a challenge. Now though, I really enjoy myself. Always. Even when things go sideways. Because I know how to get myself out of a pickle now.

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on large paintings again and I absolutely love it. I love the process. I’m making better work each day, taking more risks and feeling very excited about my art and where it will go next. I’m able to let go of parts in a painting I love, to get a getter painting from myself. I know what to do now. It’s truly a blessing to be an artist and I am thrilled to be on this journey and am so grateful to have taken a course that leaves me feeling quite happy and satisfied every day in my studio. 

PJC Studio Notes: