Inspired by…

We’ve all got them: people in our lives, whether physically close or Internet distant, who motivate and inspire us to move forward. Mentors, “sign posts”, influencers, teachers, parents – whoever they are, they make a difference in our lives.

As you embrace your creative path, you will find different people are attracted to you (I don’t mean physically like tapping into a dating pool…), and some, who you have known for a while, slip away out of your circle.

I live in a small community. I like to think this community has an extra large proportion of artists. I have yet to find one artist who jealously guards their market, work, talent and skills…just the opposite. People are willing to open their studios and share techniques, and above all, encourage others to pursue their art. Why? Because there is a trust that everyone is unique and the work we produce will be, well, unique.

One year into exploring my Artists’ Journey, I quit my full-time job. Scary, but definitely the right move at the right time. It was a commitment I made to myself to be who I am, not what the nine-to-five work was making me into. By opening up my daytimes, my calendar was remarkably free, and so I could take immediate advantage of an incredible artist coming to town for a public speaking event followed by a weekend workshop.

Drew Burnham (please do click on his name and take a moment to look through his amazing art, then come back) helped open the door for me to realize I could fit into the artist community. His event, and taking part in the workshop, allowed me to explore being in a room with artists whose work I had seen around town, but most of whom I had not yet met. I could hide behind the “I am brand new to this, just a beginner” moniker and so the pressure was off to produce anything really worth looking at. I made connections at that workshop and realized how all artists, no matter how much I admire their work, are human – just like you, just like me.

Laura Bay, acrylic on canvas, painted during the Drew Burnham workshop

So, the reason for this post is to encourage you to take a look at your own community. What type of art are you interested in or already creating? Whether that is visual art, music, performance, there will be somebody in your area who is already pursuing something similar. And, take a look at your immediate contacts…are any more interested in you and what you are doing now or are any less interested? Have some dropped off your radar?

There will be more posts about my own inspiring people, but hopefully this is enough for one day. Be kind to those who do not understand your art, accept that for some this creative path is not a journey they wish to take with you, and that new people will come into your life who are your mentors, sign posts, teachers, etc. etc. This is just a beautiful journey…

By way of introduction

Six years ago I was working full time as an editor for our local newspaper. Editing is like detective work, and I have always enjoyed helping words shine. However, there was something missing.

My birthday was coming up and I had the urge to spend some money on painting supplies. This urge was not all that new. I had taken some beginner courses using oils and acrylics seven years before, but my life was in a different place then and what I produced artistically didn’t thrill me. It was time to try again.

I shopped Opus Online (our little town has few art supplies) and after lots of deliberation decided on Golden Open Acrylics. I bought many different colours. I then decided on deep-style canvas and bought various different sizes, and then settled on a set of brushes.

It was so exciting to receive the boxes full of possibilities delivered to my door and unpack them piece by piece. I squeezed small sausages of paint into a to-go container (which I still use for my palette) and my trusty easel came out of storage and I set it up in the garage. It was mid-spring. I opened the garage door and arranged a still-life display on the top of a knee-high tote, and stood there for maybe two hours, coming up with my first painting.

Sure, I didn’t know much and had a long way to go, and still do, but it was a start. By the end of it I had decided two things: first, I wanted to carry on painting, and second, the garage is a very cold place to use as a studio.

I moved upstairs and took over a corner of our dining room, and there I have stayed all these years. It’s warmer, I am surrounded by natural light, and I have the benefit of being part of my family household.

Within a year I quit my editing job. I had a grand plan: freelance editing, writing and art. I was, and am, lucky, too, to be financially supported by my husband because I am not sure I would suggest quitting a full time job on a whim to be the best move for most people.

Other than a feeling of immense guilt when I heard neighbours powering up their vehicles and heading off to work – perhaps I should be doing more and get back to the normality of a nine-to-five life – and a strange void at tax time when I’d calculate my negative amount of income, it was the right move for me. READ: this is not a get-rich-quick scheme!

I’ll write some more about what has transpired during these six years, but for now, that’s enough for this post. What I would like to hear is where you are at with the work world and your creative world and whether you have managed to meld the two into a deep passion for how you spend your waking hours?

An invitation

I have a white 22″ x 28″ canvas sitting on my easel to my left. It’s waiting for my imagination to determine what image it will hold. A blank canvas, a blank page, a blank anything, is a pause, holding space, for the spark of creativity to burn.

I am inviting you to climb on board the Artists’ Journey – plural because it is not just me, it is you and all other creatives who are opening up to those sparks – and share insights, motivations, resources, and mentors, that help you craft your creative spark into the eyes of tomorrow.

The day before yesterday, I installed hanging hardware on the back of two paintings, then moved them downstairs into the basement. I brought up my freshly gessoed blank canvas, which I had just sanded off, to take its place on the easel.

Yesterday, I cycled 20 kilometres to meet up with other artists at a local beach, to sit in the shade and sketch a scene. It’s the middle of spring and a cool wind still blows from the northwest. I sat, with cycle jacket zippered up, looking out at the sunny view from beneath a large cedar. Cycling home got me warm again.

And so it is, that six years after I bought myself some rather expensive Golden Open acrylic paints, I find myself wanting to share this journey. I tried to start that a few years ago with the birth of “Follow the Artist” newsletter. I managed three monthly episodes before that fell through the cracks. Here’s my second try.

I think the world is a better place when we all follow our own passions. If we can share the process along the way with a willing audience, all the better. For me, it is predominantly visual art, however, I am writing a novel, so putting words on a page to create a picture, as opposed to using a paintbrush, is just as thrilling.

Join me on this Artists’ Journey and together we will unpack the creative baggage we’ve been carrying around. Sign up to never miss a step.