Sunday, January 1, 2012

Acknowledge & Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Happy New Year 2012! Did you meet your artistic goals for 2011? Every year I like to go through this exercise from Alyson Stanfield's blog:

Acknowledge & Celebrate Your Accomplishments

The end of the year is often accompanied by a tinge of regret. Maybe you didn’t stick to your New Year’s Resolution or accomplish all of your goals.

I’ll bet you did more than you think.

Take time to write down all you accomplished.

This is a ritual I’ve implemented for a number of years and shared it with newsletter subscribers each December. People who do this exercise are happy they took the time. Most are amazed by all they got done.

Get a pen and paper or open up a document on your computer and start counting your feats. I’ll be working on mine during the afternoon of December 22 if you care to join me at that time.

Here are some prompts to get you started on your business accomplishments, but customize it to make it your list. Add you personal accomplishments as well.

In 2011 . . .

How many people did you add to your mailing list?
How many Twitter followers or Facebook fans did you gain?
Whom did you mentor or help out?
What organizations were you involved with?
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?

Marketing & Business
Where did you exhibit or sell your art?
How did you promote your art?
What did you do to enhance your online presence?
How many blog posts or articles did you write? How many did you write for other blogs or publications?
When did you ask for help or hire someone?
What new marketing material did you develop and use?
What did you try that was completely new?
How did you increase your income?

Education & Exploration
What new art events, galleries, cities, and museums did you visit?
What resources did you discover?
What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
How did you improve your studio habits?
What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend or teach?
What technological skills did you learn or improve?
What did you try that was uncomfortable but helped you grow?

What grants did you apply for?
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
What articles were written about your work?
Who shared or featured your art?
Where did you exhibit or retail your art?
Where did you save a wad of money?
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2011?

What worthy cause did you support?
How did you enhance your office or studio environment?

It’s easy to feel down about what didn’t get done. Instead of falling into that abyss, celebrate your accomplishments. You deserve the praise.

What 2011 accomplishment are you most proud of? Brag! Tell us about it and how you’re celebrating on the Art Biz Blog.

As for me: Goals that I met this year were adding more teaching jobs to my calendar. I set a range of income I'd like to make from doing so. Happy to say, I hit the top of the range! I woefully missed my goal on sales of jewelry, but only did 2 shows this year. I entered a local art show on my goal list and won first prize for one of my precious metal jewelry (PMC) pendants. I also showed that piece in an art gallery show I had not been in before. I never seem to have a problem finding training opportiunities. This year I attended a class with Cynthia Eid at Metalwerx in Boston, learning corrugating & forming of copper and Argentium sterling silver. I took Level 3 PMC certification with popular jewelry making author Irina Meich.

Let us know what goals you accomplished in 2011!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great New Free e-book Available!

It has been a while since I last posted. I haven't forgotten about you all. Today I got a free e-book from Mark McGuiness, whose blog "Lateral Action" I subscribe to, as well as co-author Marelisa Fábrega. He has lots of great advice on motivation and creativity. This book is entitled "20 Creative Blocks and How to Get Through Them". Perusing the Table of Contents I see chapters about some of my own personal blocks: Chapter 2: "Fear of Getting It Wrong", Chapter 4 "Creativity vs. Cash", Chapter 6 "The Inner Critic", Chapter 13 "Information Overload" and several more! The link for this free e-book is

I also encourage you to sign up for his free 26 week course "Creative Pathfinders". It contains lots of free invaluable information to guide you to success as a creative individual:

I don't make any money recommending this - just a satisfied blog reader wanting to share this valuable resource with the rest of you. Let us know if it helps you!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


On the first day of my Spanish class in junior high school the teacher asked us to pick Spanish names to be used in class instead of our regular names. Our text book contained a list of Spanish names and their interpretations in English. I skimmed over the list and saw nothing that inspired me – until I got to Esperanza – which meant HOPE. That was going to be MY name, because at that point in my life, hope for the future was all I had. For, you see I was a victim of bullying during my school years. I still to this day don’t know why, but I accept the fact that it happened and that it will always be a part of the history of my life. There comes a time, however, when you need to stop being the victim and take back control of your life.

One of the exercises in Week Four of The Artist’s Way is to write a letter to yourself at eight years of age, giving yourself advice. This is what I wrote,

“Lynn, you are going to go through some very tough times while you are growing up. It may seem like years and years before you break free from this emotional abuse. But it WILL happen after you graduate from high school. Persevere and have hope for a better future. Dream big dreams. Don’t lose your confidence and self-esteem, though this may seem inevitable. You are a VERY SPECIAL PERSON and no one can take that away from you. Don’t lose the spirit, imagination, and spontaneity that you now have.”

If someone – anyone - had said this to me during those years, it may have made them easier to bear, but all I had was hope.

The second part of the exercise asks you to write a letter to yourself at eighty. What would you tell yourself? What interests would you pursue? What dreams would you encourage? To me, this seemed to be a very hopeful exercise, because we were talking about my future. And I had control over that. If I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to do during this time period, all I could blame is myself. Here is what I wrote,

“Keep creating your jewelry, your watercolors, and playing the piano you so longed to have when you were a child. Don’t let distractions or anxieties prevent you from pursuing these things. This will be your legacy. Don’t say “shoulda woulda coulda” when you get to be eighty. Just do it! Keep learning new things. Make friends that will be there to support you in your declining days. Travel the world. Capture it in art. Share this with others. Love each person you meet, no matter what. Live life fully one day at a time. Take nothing for granted."

What letters would YOU write to yourself at eight and eighty?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SYNCHRONICITY – Desire, ask, believe, receive!

“A connecting principle

Linked to the invisible

Almost imperceptible

Something inexpressible

Science insusceptible

Logic so inflexible

Causally connectible

Yet nothing is invincible

If you act, as you think

The missing link


(The Police, Sting 1983)

Synchronicity is officially defined as: A coincidence of events that seem related. But is it coincidence or answered prayer? It depends on your opinion of things spiritual. I truly believe that there is something or someone out there that brings these things to pass. It happens to me quite frequently nowadays.

Here’s my simple definition: Everything works together.

Some other quotes mentioned by Julia Cameron in chapter three of “The Artists’ Way”:

“A thousand unseen helping hands.” - Joseph Campbell

“A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have believed come his way.” - W.H. Murray , explorer

“Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, Begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Goethe

The last quote has a special meaning to me. My husband bought a pendant to inspire me that had a tree pierced out of a small square of metal layered over another piece of metal that had Goethe’s quote inscribed in teeny tiny little letters on it.

Some of The Artists Way workbook exercises involve recording synchronistic events in your life. It’s amazing once you begin writing them down, how you see they all start to fit together to help make your dream or goals come to pass.

Here is a great example for me: A few years ago, I attended an “Art & Community” meeting at a local art gallery. My special interest was art for senior citizens. My mom, who will be 89 in couple of weeks, used to take classes all the time through the senior center. When my Dad became ill and had to be taken care of at home for 10 years, she could no longer take them. After he passed away, she did not resume taking classes. When I asked why, she noted that the classes often got cancelled due to lack of enrollment. Before going into this meeting I had determined that I wanted to teach jewelry making to senior citizens. I wanted to get a discussion going on having more art classes for seniors in our city.

Now here’s the interesting part. There were 2 ladies sitting next to me. I thought one looked VERY familiar. Part way into the meeting, this lady brought up the topic of art for seniors. My ears perked up! After the meeting, I approached these ladies and struck up a conversation about how I, too, shared their interests. I also mentioned that I thought I might know one of them. I asked her name. She told me who she was. Turned out she was my department manager from the early 1980’s when I was working my way through college (the first time) at Kohl’s Department Store! In our discussion, I remember telling her that she told me something that I will never forget. She said I was a hard worker. She was now the Dean of Business & Industry at the technical college I had just received my jewelry repair and fabrication degree from! ( I wish I could say I had done so well over the last 25-30 years, but that’s what happens when you change careers 3 times…) Now get this! The lady she was with was the person who coordinates the classes for seniors through the tech school! Well, you can better believe I then took the opportunity to put a pitch in for teaching a jewelry making class, which they had never offered before. So anyway… a few months later I ended up getting a teaching job and a very important source of income from this synchronous meeting. I love when things happen like this.

I used to say stuff like this never happened to me. I guess that’s because I never expected it to. You have to believe that these little “miracles” will happen and be ready and waiting for them when they show up. And for goodness’ sake, TAKE the gifts and be thankful for them. Do NOT give them back.

What about you? Do you have any interesting stories about synchronicity to share?

Source: More lyrics:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Enjoy the Process

In a perfect example of synchronicity, I recently had the privilege of watching Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India conduct the opening ceremonies and initial chalk drawing of a sand mandala. I didn't really know that much about mandalas before that, other than that they were works of art with some spiritual meaning behind them. I was aware you could take classes to learn how to make your own, but I never really investigated it. Intrigued as I am by new things, different cultures, and various interpretations of personal spirituality, I was drawn to this event hosted a few weeks ago by one of our local technical colleges.

For those of you who are not familiar with sand mandalas, they are intricate colored sand "paintings" that take hours or even days to create. After they are finished, the sands are swept up by the Buddhist monks and placed in an urn. Some of that sand is given to those watching the closing ceremony and the rest is released into a nearby water body. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing. There are a number of videos on You Tube showing this process, including this one of the same Tibetan monks that I saw at Fox Valley Technical College. (photos courtesy of FVTC)

Going back to Chapter 2 of The Artist Way, I pondered what I would write my blog entry about. This chapter didn't speak to me as much as many of the others (I've read ahead!) and I struggled to find a good theme. However, after re-browsing the chapter I noticed that I had made a mark next to one paragraph, "You will learn to enjoy the process of being a creative channel and to surrender your need to control the result. You will discover the joy of practicing your creativity. The process, not the product, will become the final result." The Tibetan monk sand mandala immediately popped into my mind. Mandalas are a PERFECT example of this principle. The Tibetan monks have had to train their minds to concentrate on and to enjoy the process of making their artistic masterpieces, because as soon as they are completed, they are destroyed. This is meant to symbolically represent the impermanence of life.

How many of us are so goal-oriented that we fail to enjoy the process of learning and creating?We want to be perfect artists immediately. We expect our first attempts to be masterpieces. Maybe we shouldn't place unrealistic expectations on our finished products. Goodness knows many of us are so paralyzed by the prospect of the finished product and what is going to become of it that we never even start it in the first place. We need to learn to play, to experiment, to practice and to appreciate the moment, and not focus on the goal line. Do you think these Tibetan monks will look back and say their life was wasted because all they did was make art with no permanence? I think not. We can learn a lot from them.

More about synchronicity in a future post...

****For those of you who make jewelry, here's a really cool demonstration by Camille Sharon on how to make a wire mandala that can be manipulated into different forms.*****

Friday, November 12, 2010

Are you an "Artist?"

"One of our chief needs as creative beings is support", writes Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way. Are you an artist that never got the encouragement necessary to pursue your dream? That's what happened to me. I didn't realize that I had the makings of an artist until I got into graphic design and marketing in high school. I won numerous awards for my advertising layout and design, winning 1st place in the state DECA competition, and was the first student in my high school to earn a trip to Nationals in Miami. I thought my future was made, so I enrolled in college to earn a B.A. in Marketing & Management with a Minor in Graphic Communication (art). When I graduated, I was going to get a job as an Account Executive in an advertising agency.

Or so I thought. The perfect storm of negative people/situations smacked me right in the face (or should I say, infiltrated my mind). In the Artist's Way, Julia encourages people to write about these negative influences, or "Monsters" and turn the negatives into positives.

In my case, it was my college graphics art teacher. She said to me at one critique, "Your drawings have a child-like quality " (meaning they looked like they were drawn by a 6 year old). Gee, thanks. Add to that we had a very talented artist in that class that did make my work look like it was done by a child. No matter what grades I got in my other art classes (mostly A's to my surprise, since I really still didn't think I was an artist), that negative comment really stuck with me, as did my personal comparison against "Joe" the REAL artist.

Graduating in the midst of the recession of the mid-1980's was another negative blow to my art career. Every job outlook I looked at for Advertising Execs stated how highly competitive the hiring situation was. I would be competing for jobs against REAL artists. I didn't have a chance. Due to the bad economy, I couldn't even get a graphics job in the local copy shop without any work experience. Eventually I ended up in retail management and other career pursuits and gave up completely on creating art.

It was 20 long years before I considered being an artist again. But in the meantime, I was a shadow artist. I would watch TV commercials or look at art in galleries and say, "I could do better than that!" "How did they get a job in some prestigious ad agency, only to turn out those boring, non-creative commercials?" Even worse, some company was paying that ad agency for those crappy commercials and passing the costs on to me, the consumer! It was a double insult.

Eventually, the anger turned into action. I went back to art. I started taking lessons and workshops to build up my skills. I recently ran into several positive and supportive people, who encourage my painting and jewelry making endeavors. I no longer want to be an ad exec, just an artist who makes attractive art that other people can enjoy and possibly purchase.

Who were some of the people who discouraged your growth as an artist? Write about it and mentally rid yourself of those "monsters" so you can focus on creating art NOW. Sharing your stories with other artists can help others in the same boat, so please leave a comment and become a part of this support network.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"The Artist's Way" - Come Journey Along With Me

A good friend of mine, who is also a wonderful watercolorist, recently recommended this book by Julia Cameron. I had asked her if she could mentor me in my budding watercolor career and this book was her first suggestion. WOW. This book has immensely helped me already and I've only had it a week. It is a twelve week program designed to jump start or restart your creativity. You can learn more about it at The Artist's Way website. Someone on their forum suggested blogging about your journey, and I thought, what a perfect fit for my Artist Motivation Blog! I hope you will join with me in going through this process and let me and others know how your creativity has benefitted from this experience.

The Artist's Way is not new, it was first published in 1992, but at the time I was a newlywed and had strayed away from any artistic pursuits. It was not until 2003 that I began to feel the creative urge to paint again (and in 2006 to start making jewelry). So to those that have been artists a long time this may be nothing new. But a lot of people like me are just discovering this treasure now.

She suggests 2 main ways to get your creative juices flowing: morning pages and artist's dates. Since she is a writer, her focus is on writing or journaling every day. I easily did my morning pages last Monday and said to myself, "writing is NOT my problem", gaining skills in drawing and painting is my roadblock. So instead of morning pages, I will be doodling and drawing whatever comes to mind. The creative ideas I come up with will then be present on paper for later reference instead of filed away in my brain never to be retrieved again. Anyone who is an artist knows it takes PRACTICE to be really good at something (see my post titled Practice, Practice, Practice from July 7, 2009). The artist dates will be no problem for me, as I do them already. I love to go to museums and view artwork, I like experiencing new things and trying out new skills. But maybe these "dates" will be something new for you, and I want to be the first one to encourage you to start "dating" again.

I will begin posting weekly blogs in conjunction with the chapters of the book starting in early November. I know this is a busy time of year, but I encourage you to pick up the book and join me on the journey. It would be great to have some artist friends to compare notes with. The paperback book can be purchased on for less than $12. I bought the workbook to go with it, so I'd have some place to record my activities and experiments, and to get my free shipping from Amazon. I actually bought the Complete Artist's Way which is a very nice hardcover book that also includes two of her other books, Walking in this World, and Finding Water, and it costs less than $20, and is printed in the USA!

FYI: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning these books or for providing links to Amazon. This is purely for my creative benefit and yours.

So get your books and I'll see you in November!


As promised, here is the finished pendant. The photo does not do it justice. The irridescent patina on the fine silver is so colorful- pinks and golds and blues. One of the eyes changed color from orange to gold when I fired it in the kiln. What are you gonna do? :^) Sometimes things are out of your control despite your best efforts.