Creative Living: What’s Your Creative Purpose

Creative Living: What’s Your Creative Purpose

Creative living is something innate. Every last one of us is born creative. Every. Last. One.

That creativity just takes different forms in different people. And multiple forms in most people.

In this episode, I’m covering three different ways that creative living can express itself. Which one is YOUR creative purpose right now?

In the episode:
01:03 –There has to be alignment between what you do and why you do it
02:00 –The main reason that people are painting or making sculpture or making any sort of creative endeavor is because it’s fun or it’s pleasurable, or it’s a passion
02:20 –The second one is profit and profit tends to be something that’s looked down on in the art world
03:00 –The third one is impact and impact is when an artist has a message they want to get out
03:51 –Artists go through those states, each one of those things, at different stages
4:47 –Which one is it for you? Is it pleasure? Is it profit or is it impact
5:10 – Questions from the audience


What I want to share with y’all this evening is talking about what kind of artist you are, what point you’re at on your art journey, and how it affects your work? Thinking about the fact that every time you pick up a brush or a knife, every time you step up to the easel, you’re consciously, or a lot of times unconsciously choosing where to spend your energy, where to spend your time, what to focus on and what to ignore, what to let go.

[00:00:34] These decisions affect the results that you get and more importantly, they impact how you feel about the results you get. So to say it a little bit differently, if you want to feel successful in making art or really anything else for that matter, because this is not just specific to art, you really need to know first, how you define success, what success means to you.

[00:01:03] There has to be alignment between what you do and why you do it. So there are three main drivers, three main kinds of drivers that I see for artists. Usually one stands out as being more important than the others. Those three are pleasure, profit and impact. There’s a little bit of all three motivating, most people that I know and talk to, but usually there’s one that stands out above all the others.

[00:01:38] There’s one thing that is the most important thing to an artist. That changes over time. It doesn’t have to stay the same forever when you’re usually starting out. The main reason that people are painting or making sculpture or making any sort of creative endeavor is because it makes them feel good.

[00:02:00] It’s fun or it’s pleasurable, or it’s a passion. It’s something that they are dreaming about and thinking about all the time. So it’s, or it can be entertainment, but it’s, it’s something that fulfills an emotional need. The second one is profit and profit tends to be something that’s looked down on in the art world.

[00:02:26] It’s a dirty little word and it shouldn’t be because there’s no reason why an artist shouldn’t make a living from what they love to do. So if making money at making art is what you want to do, go for it own. It don’t feel bad about it at all. Because if you do, if you feel you feel bad about it, if you denied that, that’s really what you want to do at that time and walk away from it.

[00:02:58] It’ll bite you in the butt. Because it will cut. It’s still there. You’re just denying it. So you’ve got to acknowledge what it is that you really want and then go for it. The third one is impact and impact is when an artist has a message they want to get out. The message is the most important thing, not the internal emotional driver, not the profit, but the message is having an impact on the world. It’s transforming people, whether it’s transforming the way they see things, the way they act or the way they do things. But art with a message. The artist is messenger means that they’re really trying to impact those that are around them.

[00:03:51] And artists go through those states, each one of those things, at different stages. So an a young artist might be purely interested in the passion of making art to begin with. Then think maybe I can make some money at this. Maybe I can even make a living here. Yes. And then the profit can become important.

[00:04:15] And then once they become. More stable in their business. The impact can become the thing that’s more important. But bottom line, you have to know which one it is for you right now, because if you don’t, you’re not going to and be able to feel that sense of completion that happens when you’re achieving or you’re in alignment with what you really want and need.

[00:04:47] So, which one is it for you? Is it pleasure? Is it profit or is it impact? Let me know right here in the comments, if that, if one of those strikes a chord, if one of those resonates with you, which one is it for you? Let me see if I can pull this for some reason, my comments are hidden here. I’m going to see if I can get them up over here on the other device. There we go. Now I can see them. Um, Oh good. We’ve got some great comments in here. Yeah. Diana says agree to all three, but pleasure is my number one. And if you know, that’s the main thing, then you want to orient what you’re doing and how you do it to make sure that you enjoy what you’re doing.

[00:05:40] So awesome. And Josephine says satisfaction, pleasure, and some profits so I can keep painting. Absolutely. I actually like to get my students to think about which percentage is the most important for you? Is it 50% pleasure? 25% profit, 25% impact. Or is it 90%, one and 10, the other, which one is it? Because once you know that, then you can figure out which path you need to take so that you can really optimize for that end result, because there are different kinds of challenges you run into depending on which type of motivator.

[00:06:25] It’s really driving it. So people who are really motivated by pleasure can get really frustrated when they don’t have the skills that let them paint with ease or let them sculpt with ease. When the skill stuff gets in the way, it’s not as much fun anymore. If you’re working towards impact, I mean, working towards profit, the challenges that can get in the way or not really knowing how to market and sell your work, that can be a huge challenge and a huge de-motivator.

[00:07:03] It can really get in the way, but just like the technical skills, it’s something that’s fixable. Something that you can learn about. And the last one impact if getting your message across, if delivering a message, if changing people is really what is driving you, if you don’t know how to create an engaged audience, How to find an audience of people that you’re trying to reach, then you’re talking to the wind and that’s extraordinarily frustrating.

[00:07:37] You have to have an audience in order to make an impact. And an audience is important for profit as well, but if you don’t know how to get that audience, then you’re not going to be able to achieve either one of those things. So super important to know which one of those three is the thing that’s going to drive you towards feeling successful.

[00:08:02] Then you can chart out your roadmap to get there. So let’s see who else has something that they’ve dropped here into the comments? Diana says, I am my own worst enemy. I may not think it’s good. And then someone else says, I am. I got to love this. That is not unusual at all. My gallerist has a, a thing. He says, artists are not always the best judges of their own work, that we don’t always see it with a degree of objectivity.

[00:08:33] Part of that is because we made it we’re too close to it. And we have high expectations for it. A rule that I really frequently cite is the 24 hour rule. And it means that. He can’t destroy the work until you’ve been away from it for 24 hours. So if you think it’s awful, step away, look away for at least 24 hours before you throw it in the trash.

[00:09:00] Because a lot of times it’s actually pretty darn good. It’s just that you’re too close to see it. And you’re stuck right in the messy middle where you can’t see what’s working. So be careful with that messy middle stage. Yeah. Pat says pleasure and profit. Awesome. I think that’s important. Dennis says all three, nothing wrong with that.

[00:09:27] And thinking about which proportion is super important. Y’all so keep thinking about which one’s important to you. And let me know how you’re thinking about getting there.

Which one is it for you? Is it pleasure? Is it profit or is it impact? Let me know right here in the comments.

And if you know of anybody who would be interested in today’s episode, please feel free to share them.

How to Find a Style

How to Find a Style

Finding a style as an artist can be a struggle. I want to share 3 tips, techniques and ideas on how to develop your own style! These are all things that have helped me as well as my students, so I hope they will help you too.

I want to share a message I got from Lisa P., a subscriber on my email list. She said, “My biggest challenge right now with my artwork is trying to find my style. I think I’m pretty good at drawing and painting, but I find my paintings to be boring. I want to love my work. I like it, but don’t love it.”

Any of y’all ever feel like that?

“I’m not sure if that can really be taught. I paint every day with the goal of someday loving what I practice, what I produce, I’m loving the process, but get frustrated at times.”

Hey there. I’m Mary Gilkerson. And today we’re going to be talking about finding a style as an artist.

It can be a real struggle. I know I’ve gone through that at one time or another. In fact, I don’t think any artists can honestly say they haven’t faced that struggle it one point in their career or in their practice.

So I want to share three tips in particular, three tips, techniques, or ideas about how to really develop your own style. These are things that have helped me as well as my students hope they’ll help you too.

The first thing to understand is you really don’t find your style. You create it.

Style doesn’t happen by you going out and making this search through the universe for where your style is. Like the children’s book titled, Are You My Mother? I’ve been reading that to my granddaughter lately.

And you know, the little bird goes around going, are you my mother? Are you my mother?

Well, we tend to do that as artists and it’s not super effective. Style happens by creating it. You create it. It finds you. You create it through the act of painting. So you’ve got to paint.

Painting creates style.

Style happens through the act of painting on a consistent basis. So let’s talk first about some of those things that can happen, things that you can do to create that style.

I’ve talked before about how to find more time to paint and developing that regular painting practice.

That’s the first thing to do.

If you paint on a consistent regular basis, your style can’t help but develop. You will be creating it.

Whether you’re spending 10 minutes a day, or two hours a day or five minutes a day, do something towards your painting practice. That’s the first, first very first thing that will make a difference.

Learn more about daily painting in these two episodes – 3 Signs That It’s Time To Start A Daily Painting Practice and Daily Painting: Why Start a Practice

I’ve also documented my experience with daily painting in these two episodes – Why Daily Painting and Painting Daily to Experience Place

The next thing to think about is to work in a series. Working in a series is one of the fastest ways to jump start creating your style.

First, let’s talk about what a series is. A series is any art that’s connected together by a theme or a subject or a color or a size.It is a body of art that when you look at it you know it was created by the same artist. There’s some sort of visual connection there.

There’s a huge benefit of working in a series…you start creating better art. Working on something consistently over time results in better artworks. 

The second benefit to painting in a series is you’ll come to understand your subject matter better. You’ll connect to your subject on a much deeper level. When you’re working with the same subject matter over and over again you build that deep connection and begin to relate to it in a consistent way.

That consistency thing comes up as a theme over and over when you’re looking at building a series and creating your style. 

The third benefit to painting in a series is it makes it easier for you to build and connect with your audience. When you create in a series you’ll be able to talk more clearly about the WHY of your art practice. Convey what makes you want to paint to your audience and you’ve started building a connection with them too. In Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED talk he says, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” 

Consider working consistently and painting in a series in order to create your style. 

And here’s the third tip. Write about your art as much as you paint. And by that, I mean, get a journal, use your sketch book, but jot down ideas as you’re painting, give yourself some reflective time as you paint.

I used to tell my students at the college that they needed to spend as much time sitting in a chair and looking at their paintings as they did painting their paintings. Because that reflective time helps you figure out where you’re going and what you’re doing. It helps you figure out why you’re doing it.

Don’t try to figure it out all ahead of time. It’s a process that you’ve got to participate in.

Let’s reflect on those three things.

1. Work consistently. Get in your creative space and do something each day.

2. Work in a series so that you can begin to create your style.

3. Reflect on your work because in that reflections, you’ll begin to see where the consistent threads are. 

Look for those consistent threats. I hope this has been helpful if it’s helped you then I hope you share it with an art  friend.

Happy painting everybody. Remember to stay resilient and paint on bye bye for now.

Magnetic Paintings Webinar

How to Use Value, Color, and Composition to Make Compelling Paintings

You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat.  You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.

Can You Sell Art on Social Media?

Can You Sell Art on Social Media?

Today’s question is on social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn: are any of these worth joining for selling art?

I’ve been collecting questions from my Facebook group and email list and this is one several folks had.

And the short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just posting a painting and naming a price.

In this episode I’m covering

  1. why you should start using social media to promote your art,
  2. how to decide which social media platform to use, and
  3. the single most important thing you can do to make it work.

Got a question??

In the episode:
01:39 – How to decide which social media platform to use
02:37 – Pick the platform where you’re comfortable and your perfect clients hang out
03:41 – What social media can do for you
04:36 – We are personal brands
05:17 – The second stage is engagement
6:46 – The last stage is called conversion
8:28 – The HOW
10:35 – Questions


I’ve been collecting questions from my Facebook group and from my email list lately for these little quick live videos. And the question that I’m going to be covering today is what about social media. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn: are any of these worth joining for selling art?

And the short answer is yes, but not in the way you may be thinking about it.

Hey, there. I’m Mary Gilkerson and I help artists create compelling paintings, sustainable thriving studio practices and online art businesses. So today, as I said, we’re going to be looking at social media hubs.

What do you do with them? Can you use them to sell art? The short answer is yes, all of those can be effective, but not necessarily in the way that most people think about it.

Most people think about social media as having the potential to make those direct art sales on. That’s not its most valuable use. It’s not really the best approach to it. So while you’re going to make some direct sales on social media, you’ll actually do much better. If you think about it as a place where, or as a way to rather.

Grow your audience and move people from not knowing who you are at all to having a little bit more familiarity with you gonna come back to that in just a minute. So the answer about which one to choose is two fault. They’re two different parts of it. You have to think about number one, you have to think about which one are you most comfortable with.

So there’s no magic answer about whether it should be Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, or even Twitter. The answer is which one are you going to actually pick up your phone and use? Because if everybody you hear about is making sales on Instagram and you hate Instagram, it ain’t going to work.

So which of the social media platforms is the one that you feel the most comfortable on that you’ll actually use. You’ll interact with, that you will do on a consistent basis. The second consideration, there is equally important. You need to know the one that your niche hangs out on. So you need to pick the platform.

That’s the intersection of those two things, where those two things overlap, the one you’re comfortable with and the one where your people, your perfect people hang out. Because if they’re not on that platform, it doesn’t make any sense, no matter how much he loved the platform for you to be on there. For example, I don’t think that Tik TOK is going to tend to be the place where most of our art collectors are going to be hanging out.

I could be wrong, but in fact, some I’d go out there and prove me wrong. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s there yet. So you may love Tik TOK, but it’s probably not where you’re going to be growing your perfect collectors. So think about that intersection of those two things, which one do you enjoy and love and actually participate in.

And where do your people hang out? Where’s your niche hanging out? Once you figured out which one, then I want you to think about what social media can do for you, why you actually should be using social media. And yes, I do think you should be using social media. It’s a huge component of what I teach my students to do, how I teach them to move from having no sales, no hub online.

No, no real web platform to having an engaged audience and launching their own small collections of art. You have to think about why, what social media going to do for you? Well, there are three stages of moving people from not having a clue who you are to their feeling, comfortable purchasing art from you online or anywhere else from that, for that matter.

So the first stage is called awareness and it’s really brand awareness because newsflash artists. Our personal brands. We are personal brands, just like musicians, big popular musicians are personal brands. So your name matters. People need to become familiar with you, not just your art or, but you, because they buy not just because of the work, but because of a relationship with the person who made the work.

o brand awareness. Realizing we’re a personal brand. That’s a huge one. And social media is one of the best ways to move people from not having a clue who you are to becoming aware that you’re an artist and this is the kind of stuff you make. The second stage is engagement. The second stage is relationship building.

This is something that all human beings crave. It’s something all human beings need. And it’s a crucial phase of the sales process. If you don’t build relationships, I guarantee you, you will not make any sales. You can make the most spectacular artwork that there is out there, but if you don’t build relationships, whether it’s with.

Clients collectors directly or with gallerist and have them sell your work. You’re not going to be able to make a living at this. You’re not going to be able to make even the money to cover your supplies. You’ve got to get good at relationship building doesn’t mean you need to go and meet every one of these people for coffee.

But if you begin to think about social media as a coffee shop, as a place to meet people and become familiar with them and then become familiar with you in a safe environment, it becomes a whole lot easier. And remember you can have the computer screen between you and them. You don’t actually have to go out and meet them in person.

So engagement, super crucial, crucial. It’s the second stage of that journey. So they go from not having a clue who you are to becoming familiar with who you are and what you do. And then beginning to actually build that relationship, but they’re still not ready to buy yet. That last stage. It’s called conversion and conversion is when people make a decision and that conversion can be small or it can be really large.

So an example of a small conversion would be when they join your email list, which is something all of you need to be building. And it’s a crucial part of being able to warm up that audience and build relationship so that small conversion could be. Inviting them to join your email list. Then the larger conversion, the one that we started talking about tonight is art sales.

That larger conversion is not going to happen until multiple smaller conversions have happened until people have gotten to feel comfortable with saying, yes, To the things that you’re asking them to do yes. To hang out on a Facebook live, where you talk about your work and answer questions. Yes to joining your email list.

Yes to sharing it with friends, all of those are little tiny conversions along the way that lead up to the point where people can feel comfortable enough to purchase the painting doesn’t mean you won’t ever get that one off. Person who never heard of you before and immediately buys a painting on Instagram directly can happen, but please don’t wait around for that.

It’s the exception rather than the rule. So those stages, again, awareness, engagement, and conversion, super, super important. Then the last part that I want to talk about tonight is the, how. And actually it’s the simplest part, the, how has to do with consistency and the importance of consistency, because the biggest problem I see most people have with using social media is they’re terribly inconsistent.

They don’t show up very often. They post maybe once a week or they forget to post for three weeks and then they come back in and post. For two days, then they disappear again for another two weeks that ain’t going to work. So I got some great advice. One time from a mentor, I took a marketing and sales course from Seth Godin about six years ago, something like that.

And I had a chance to ask him questions directly. So I asked that what would be one of the most effective ways to market and sell my artwork online. And he had a really simple answer. He said, show up for your audience in some way every day. You know, I tell people to paint every day. Well, you need to show up for your audience in some way every day too.

And that doesn’t mean you’re sending an email every day, but it does mean that you need to do something to touch your audience’s lives in some way every day. Because newsflash Seth was right. It works. You got to show up and if you show up, it doesn’t have to be that you’re making a long video or writing a long essay for your blog or having a complicated post on social media.

It can be super simple. If you follow Seth you’ll know that his, his emails are short. They’re like maybe 150 words. They’re really more like tweets. But he sends them every day or you can follow him on his blog every day, the same deal, but because he’s shown up every day for years and years, he’s following is huge and tremendous.

That could be you too, but you’ve got to be consistent. So I want to see if there are any questions over here in the question box. Hey Terry Gergen, it’s good to see you and Hey Reed and rise. Awesome. And a dealer, the dealer says I figured out five or is the best for me now. Fiverr is not really a social platform.

It’s a sales platform. So that’s a little bit different. So you do need to know what sales platform is best for you. Social media is that connecting platform. It’s social. So you probably are doing something too to get people, to look at Fiverr, Fiverr’s where you send them, but Fiverr’s a fantastic platform.

It’s a platform for illustrators and designers and people involved in any aspect of the online business. And Hey Deborah from Melbourne. And portrays. It’s good to see you too. So I had a great time chatting with y’all today. Let me know if you have any other comments in the chat role there in the chat role, in the comments section, and I’m happy to answer those.

Oh, thank you, artists. I’m glad that you find that good advice. That’s fantastic. yeah, it’s super easy. It’s actually way easier than most people think that complicate it too much. Remember that you want to move people along from awareness to engagement, to conversion and do it by showing up consistently.

Terry says, do you remember recommend anyone over the others? Like I said earlier, the one I recommend is the one that you enjoy and actually will show up in use. It’s not going to do any good for me to say. I really think Facebook is a super effective platform. If you detest Facebook and you’re not going to use it.

So it needs to be that the intersection again, of the one that you actually use and love. And the one that your niche will use in love. Now, the easy answer is Facebook because Facebook is the largest one of those platforms, but it doesn’t mean the others won’t work too. I know people who sell on Twitter using Twitter, using Instagram, using LinkedIn, Pinterest is the largest driver of traffic for me to my website.

It drives. Large volumes of traffic, way more than Facebook. others that you can think about using YouTube is another one. Pinterest and YouTube are a little bit different. They don’t have the same degree of social interaction, but they’ve begun to build it in there too. So all of those are possibilities.

So think about it, Terry, which one do you use the most? And which one do you enjoy using their ways to develop? Things that you enjoy about whatever platform you’re on, but which one’s the one that you really, really do have a passion for which one do you love? So if I had to say which one I enjoy interacting on the most, it would be Instagram and Facebook.

I don’t really do very much with Twitter for art. I use Twitter for other things, but Twitter’s not really the platform I enjoy for that. So Terry says, would you create a Facebook page to promote your art rather than you individually? again, you’re a personal brand, so it needs to have your name on there.

Don’t use a cute name. Cuteness is not going to sell your paintings. I would not call your Facebook page for your art, my fluffy little pony or my wild amazing Western views. Because it’s you as a personal brand that selling your work, that’s kind of, different from what some people recommend where they’re talking about social media marketing, but selling art.

It’s different than some other types of products. musicians, same deal. You want to create a personal. Brand for your Facebook page. So it would have your name and it would be a Facebook business page, not just your personal profile and yes, Terry you’re right. You can connect Instagram and Facebook together.

So you can kind of kill two birds with one stone. They are, it’s not the best long-term way to do it, but absolutely you can connect them up together. It works beautifully. I, I recommend students do that when they’re first starting out so that they don’t get too overwhelmed with trying to manage more than one platform at a time, really focus on one and really get that up and running rather than trying to be everywhere.

You cannot be all over the place everywhere at one time and do it well. Pick one, the one you enjoy and do it well. Mary Claire says, would you use Facebook for your art only? I’m not sure. Quite sure. What you mean, Mary Claire, do you mean, would you sell only your art on Facebook or do you mean use Facebook?

You shouldn’t use your personal profile. Okay. So there are ways to use your personal profile to promote your art, but you cannot sell your artwork on your personal profile. Facebook frowns on that, and it’s actually a violation of their terms of service. They can close your account down so you can share your paintings onto your personal profile.

You can even share a link to join your email list on your personal profile. But you can’t make direct sales on your personal profile. It’ll get you into a heap of big trouble. So I recommend that you create the business page and that you share to your personal profile. So there are all kind of other ways, strategies to use, that we can’t go into tonight.

They get a little bit more complex than that. But at the heart of that whichever platform you’re on, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, any of those or YouTube, you want to have a business account because you get other tools that you don’t have with a personal account. All of those platforms have business accounts.

Available they’re free. You don’t have to pay for them. You have to pay for advertising, but you don’t have to pay for the account and you can start it up and you can actually accomplish an awful lot just with organic traffic that you don’t pay for. But the key is to get started. So pick out the one that you really enjoy.

Start that business account and get it up and running the best time to have done. It was 10 years ago. The second best time to do it is today. Connie says, do you use FASA for your web and email platform? I don’t, but that is because I am a former web designer. So I’ve been designing websites has started back in the early nineties or whenever it was that the web really opened up, I was an early adopter.

So I’m a control freak on that. So I don’t use fast. So I actually have designed my own and coded my own site. So I use WordPress. And that is not what I recommend from a Stardust, because you don’t need to be spending your time on the back end. They’re so fast. Those are really good options. Squarespace’s a really good option too.

Munez, the way that you connect Instagram and Facebook is through either one of those business accounts in the settings. It’s you’re able to go in there and link the two together, and then you have the option when you post for it to go to both. So great question there. So yeah, there, there are all kinds of platforms out there that will allow you to easily create a website and fast.

So is one that’s just for artists, love that one and Squarespace is another one that’s beautiful and, has lots of wonderful templates. So those are the main two that I recommend don’t really recommend Weebly and Wix because they, they have some limitations to them that make them not the best platform to try to transition off of.

Great questions. That’s all for today. No, I would not use WordPress for your email list. That’s not going to be a good way to manage it. You’re liable to violate a whole bunch of laws around email lists.

What to do about an email list. Well, I’m going to make that the next question we cover. So tune in tomorrow, I’ll try to post a, an announcement about when I’ll go and do that, but, let’s talk about that in a separate, broadcast because email lists and platforms are a key, huge, huge topic.
So y’all have a great rest of the evening and I’ll look forward to talking with you again soon. Bye bye for now happy painting and paint on.

Which Coach, Mentor, or Program Is Right for You?

Which Coach, Mentor, or Program Is Right for You?

Having the right art mentor can fast track your success, no matter the stage you’re at in your art. Look for someone that’s gone before you and had success at the same goal. Then use these 3 steps to get the guidance and support you want in your art practice.

Mary also walks you through the programs she currently offers, what they cover and what you need to get the most out of each one.


Mini-Courses in Painting, Social Media Marketing, & Online Art Biz

The Art+Work+Living Community Membership

Composition, Color, & Light

The Painter’s Path

The Accelerator Small Group Coaching Mastermind Standard
6 Month Program
The Accelerator Small Group Coaching Mastermind Intensive
6 Month Program
from just
By application only
By application only
Private 1:1 coaching calls with Mary (monthly)
Value: $3,000
Private Weekly Members Face to Face Group Call with Mary
Value: $3000
(8 during the program)
Weekly Group Q&A/Critiques  with Mary for 1 year
Value: $3,500/year
Monthly Group Art Critique Call
Value: $1,500/year
Monthly Group Art Biz Q&A Call (Including recordings)
Value: $1,500/year
Instant Access to 52 Trainings (and counting) on How to Create Your Own Thriving Studio & Art Biz Practice
Value: $2,444
Instant Access to Community Groups
Value: $600/yr
Access to Bite-sized Topic Specific Training

Got a question??

In the episode:
00:25 – 3 steps to get the guidance and support you want in your art practice
00:44 – 1. Know yourself
02:01 – 2. Look at who’s out there
06:29 – 3. Research & Connect
09:23 – Create a filtering system to make sure it’s a good match
17:44 – A reader’s question about getting back into art making
18:10 – A look at Mary’s programs
18:30 – Bite-sized mini-courses
20:26 – The Art+Work+Living Community Membership
21:53 – Composition, Color, & Light Course to learn to maximize your paintings’ visual impact
22:39 – The Painter’s Path Course to create a thriving online art business
23:45 – The Accelerator small group coaching mastermind


Having a right art mentor can really fast track your progress towards your goals. No matter what stage you’re at in your art. I’m looking for someone that’s gone before you and had success at that same goal. That same thing you’re working towards. It’s one of the fastest ways to actually get there.

So we’re going to be talking today about three steps that you can take to get the guidance and support that you want in your art practice. Let’s dive on in.

The first step to really beginning to identify the right mentor, the right coach or program it’s to know yourself.

You’ve got to know what’s important to you right now. Not what was important six months ago, or what might be important in six months, but what’s important to you right now.

What are your short-term goals? What are your longterm goals?

What are you good at already? All of us have certain skills that we already have. We’re usually not very good at identifying what those are, but see if you can slow down and think about what it is that you’re already good at.

What do you need help with to move further, faster? You have to know what it is that you need, what’s missing.

Just as important as knowing what you’re already good at is knowing where the holes are, where the things are, so that you can find somebody else to plug in to give you that success that you’re looking for.

The second thing that’ll help you get there is to know who’s out there.

Look at who’s already out there. And you may remember that I said a video, not too long ago, you don’t even have to be talking about somebody who’s alive right now. It could be somebody from the past.

Your mentor doesn’t even have to know that they are your mentor. They’re all kind of different levels of mentorship. So you can learn a lot from somebody in the past who’s already achieved or who did achieve what it is that you’re trying to do, know who you want to be like, who do you admire?

And the thing that you’re trying to achieve, who’s already done it. Start making the lists. When you find people who’ve gotten a part of that thing that you’re trying to get to write their names down so that you can start creating a list. Third thing, and this is super important. I see so many people mess up on this.

One is not enough. You need to get multiple people to bounce ideas off of you don’t need just one mentor or coach. You need multiple ones, preferably two to four.

So for example, A couple of years ago, I was advising one of my students from composition color and light about what to do about taking her art further after she finished the course. And my advice to her was actually the same advice I gave, have been giving actually to all of my students. For years, you need two to four different instructors.

You should never study just with one person. You need to get a multiplicity of viewpoints. You need diversity in your education. That’s how you begin to form your own opinions. If all you do is study with one person, the tendency is to try to become a clone of that person. And that’s an important thing that you not do.

You want to be yourself. And the way to do that is to get input from a multiple range of sources and then hold on to what works for you and put away what does not, that’s how you sent the size, what you learn to become your own artist. It’s super important that you have enough voices giving you input.

The flip side to that is you don’t want to have so many that you’re overwhelmed by information that’s too contradictory. I’ve seen as, has everybody else who’s teaches, students who’ve gotten caught in the workshop loop. They’ve started taking workshop after workshop, after workshop, and they can’t develop their own style.

In fact, they can hardly paint because they’re so jammed up with conflicting stories about how to make art that they can’t decide what to do first.

You want to find a balance between not having enough different influences coming in and having too many, but it’s very, very important that you get at least two different voices that you’re listening to.

They can come from all kinds of sources. They don’t have to be people that you go sign up to be their mentee. It can be people from the past. Look at artists who’ve been successful in the past.

One of my favorites to look back at is Rosa Bonheur. She was a woman artist who was fabulously, fantastically successful in the 19th century in France. And I think of her as one of my mentors and one of my role models.

So you don’t even have to be able to talk to them. You just need to watch, look at what they did. How did they take steps to get where they are now or where they became successful on Rosa Bonner’s case? Look at the path that they took to get there, look at what might work for you and what you don’t really want to do.

You also want to think about step number three, which is to research and connect.

You need to look at who else is out there. I mentioned that a little bit before, but you also need to then figure out how to get in contact with, or connect to these people who are in front of you.

Who’ve already created a path. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just need to figure out which path is the right one for you. And then find somebody who’s already cleared that path. So you want to ask yourself how, who are these folks? And then you want to make a list, a target list of people that you’d like to connect with.

Again, keep it limited. You don’t want to connect with everybody in the world. You know, I I’ve done that before. I’ve had shiny object syndrome and bought way too many courses, and then not been able to implement all of them because. I’ve got too many courses in my portals and I don’t have time to do it all.

So make sure you’re being very targeted in the list that you’re creating, learn about them. You know, research them online. We’ve got the internet. Now people didn’t have that even 50 years ago in order to be able to research possibilities and the opportunities use the internet to research these artists.

Even if they’re from the past, you can find an awful lot out before you even come into direct communication with them. That you may never come in direct communication with them. One of my favorite ways to learn and be mentored is by listening to podcasts and YouTube interviews. One of my favorite artists who I definitely consider to be an influence it’s Wolf Kahn, and I love listening to Wolf Kahn, speak about landscape painting and about art and about what drove him to paint the way he did. And it’s all recorded. Even though he’s passed, it’s all recorded and it’s there for free on YouTube. I’ll go listen to him while I paint. So think about looking for where those folks are and we’re searching what’s out there, learn about them, then figure out how to make a connection.

That connection can come in the form of. Signing up for a free workshop, signing up for an online workshop, signing up for a course, signing up for something small to start with to see if there really is alignment. You don’t have to dive right into the deep end of an expensive program until you decide first.

That there’s a real good match there. Look at what free content they’ve already got that’s out there and see if some of that meets your needs first and whether or not you really want to dive in deeper with that person. So I have a filtering system that I use when I’m deciding, do I really need to buy this program or is it a shiny object and the squirrel because I’m easily distracted by them.

Everyone needs to filtering system.

Here are the things that I use to filter out. What’s a good fit and what’s not a good fit. What is a need and what is a no I want, or I really would like to buy. So, is it a small or a large goal? Is it something that is a little bite size thing or is it a big long-term goal?

For example, I have a, an occupation that I love doing that has nothing to do with the way I make my living or the profession that I’m in. I love to knit. And I have a friend who has a knitting program. So one of the questions I’ve asked myself lightly because I’m real tempted by everything she puts out there is how is that going to fit into my life?

What is it going to do for me? How does it move through this filtering system? So I’m going to use my friends knitting course. Knitting program. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m definitely going to buy one, some part of it because I do it for pleasure. Just like some people paint for pleasure. I knit for pleasure.

It’s meditatative. And it takes me out of myself and I don’t have to think about things. So I say, is it a small or a large goal? It’s a small goal. It’s not a huge big long-term goal in the sense of, uh, Big life goal, but it’s a life enhancing goal. Is it something I want day for just a short period of time?

Or is it something I want to do over a long period of time? Well, why it’s kind of a small thing in itself. It’s something I want to do pick back up again. I used to do it a lot, so it’s kind of more of a long-term thing. Is it a pressing need or our longterm desire. That’s where it’s a longterm desire. I don’t need to, to get back into knitting.

I don’t need to learn new knitting patterns in order to be able to feed myself or in order to be able to pay for the house. But knitting helps to feed the things that. Pay for my food and my housing. So doing something that’s in a different creative field really feeds my creativity and it keeps me from being a workaholic painting.

So it really does fulfill a need. It’s just not the need, that’s immediate within the business, but I can definitely justify it from the business standpoint. And from the artistic standpoint of it being a creative need. And it’s a, it’s a pleasure. It makes me a nice and being all of my family likes it when I’m a nicer human being.

Decide if it’s a pressing need in this case. It’s not, it’s a more long-term pleasure. Thing then how much time do I have? So do I want something that is an intensive, that’s like an eight or 12 week in depth program? Or do I want something that’s more like an ongoing membership where I can dive in for just a few minutes.

A day or, you know, an hour or so a week. Hm. Well, which one of those things do you think fits what I’ve described as where I want to place knitting into my world? I don’t want to make a sweater by the end of the week. I’d like to, but I’m not that good at it anymore. I have to get back into shape with it, but it is definitely something I want to fall back into my routine.

So I want that ongoing thing. So a membership sounds really good to me because it’s something I can pick up and put down. It’s not going to disappear in eight to 12 weeks. It’s something that I can hold on to and I can fit it in around my other activities. So how much time do I have? I have small blocks of time to do that.

Do I need personal access to a mentor or a coach to do that? In other words, do I need to have her on the phone or on a zoom call in order for me to be able to. Accomplish what I want to set out to do. Probably not right now. Although if I make a hash of making a sweater for my granddaughter, I might, but I am probably going to be fine with the recorded videos.

That’s going to be a really good fit for me and group zoom calls would be fantastic along with other people who are interested in some of the same kind of things. So I don’t need one to one interaction for that. Right now. I might at some point, but not right at the moment. Is this person in alignment with me?

Well, I know this person well enough to know. Oh, heck yes. She’s in alignment with me. She has many of the same values I do, and I know how she loves on her community. So she is a fantastic community leader. So that aspect of it is very attractive. I know that the people that she pulls into her membership are people like me.

And that’s important to me. It’s that community aspect of it that becomes an important factor as well. So I’m taking things all the way through that filtering system from, is it a small or a large goal? In other words, is it going to have a big impact on my creative career or is it going to have a smaller impact?

Is it a pressing need or is it something that’s more long-term is it something how much time do I have to devote to it? You know, I have small chunks or big chunks of time. Do I need personal access to the coach or do I just need the information or somewhere in between? Is this person in alignment with me?

Those are really, really important filters because not every program is a good fit.

So just a quick little recap of where we are so far, we’ve talked about three steps to get the guidance and support that you need to go forward in your art practice. And the first one was to know yourself, know where you are. What’s important to you, what your strengths are and where the holes are that you need plugged.

Number two, to look at who’s out there. Who do you want to be like? Who do you admire? Who do you want to follow along behind as your guide? Number three, have you researched yet or connected with some of those folks? So it’s know yourself, look at who’s out there and then research and connect take action.

We talked about creating a filter system for, to make sure for making sure that it’s a really good fit. That you need to have some criteria to judge by. And I shared the ones that I use for myself when I’m trying to identify. Whether or not a mentor is a good fit for me because yes, I still do use mentors and coaches.

So we talked about thinking about whether it’s a small or a large goal that you’ve got going, whether it’s a pressing need, something that you need to fix immediately, or whether it’s more longterm. Is it, how much time do you have, I mean, to, uh, devote to it? Is it something that you’re going to have to do in small amounts or is it something that you’re going to be able to concentrate some time on?

Is it something you need personal access to the person? Do you need to have some quality time with that person in order to move faster? Or do you just need the information? We talked about whether or not this person is in alignment with you, with you and your values, super important part. So they don’t want to talk about a little bit about the programs we have.

Mary’s programs: who are they for?

I recently got a question that’s actually what sparked this whole discussion. I got a question from one of my readers about how to get back into the swing of things as an artist, after being outside of the whole art world for a good while. She wants to get back into art making as well as making enough money to fund her art making.

She wants to fund her passion. She wants to make enough money to pay for materials and supplies and do workshops take workshops and things like that. A perfectly great goal. And so we talked about ways that she can go about doing that.

And there are some programs that I have for instance, that are predominantly designed for people who need that immediate information only in small chunks. That’s not really where she was at. Certainly a couple of those could help get her started and kick-started in the right direction.

Those programs, mini courses, are small bite-size chunks meant to be consumed in a short period of time.

Those are to fix things that you might have identified as small holes in your own art practice, your own online art biz. There’s no real personal contact with me on those.

We have one called The Online Art Biz Boot Camp which is a great fit for somebody experienced all of the galleries closing at the beginning of the pandemic, and didn’t have a website, didn’t have a way to begin to generate some income. It is a way to get a real fast jumpstart on that without having to invest a whole lot of time in getting all those other systems up and running.

Another mini course that we have is on palette knife painting. So that is for people who really have a clearly identified need. And they need to go for it right now. They don’t want to wait for a bigger course. So that might be something that is for you.

It’s important to ask yourself whether it’s a long-term need or short short-term need.

The Art+Work+Living Community Membership is a great fit for those with a nine to five job and only small chunks of time in a week in order to devote to growing their studio practice or growing their online art biz. That’s a paid membership, not the free Facebook group. Those are two different things. This is a paid membership that people can join on a monthly or annual basis that includes information, topics, and trainings around how to create that balanced, sustainable creative life.

There are trainings in three main areas: creating compelling artwork, creating a thriving mindset and creating that thriving studio business. We have a training released every month, a behind-the-scenes backstage pass trainings each month and two live Q&A calls, one for art biz questions and one for critique.

If the gap you’re trying to fill is making faster progress on a the long-term need, if you’ve got bigger chunks of time to devote to your learning, then there are two courses that are great fits depending on which direction you’re going in.

If you are looking to develop your painting more than Composition, Color, & Light is a great fit for you. Its main thrust is developing compelling magnetic paintings through using composition, value, color, and light to maximize your paintings’ visual impact.

It is a painting course only, and focuses primarily on oils and landscape painting. It’s also suitable for people working in acrylics or pastels or even watercolors, although the demos are in oil. So people need to be aware of that.

The other courses, for those who really want to develop their online art business and turn it into a thriving studio business. That’s The Painter’s Path, which opens just a few times a year. We’re going to be opening it up again in January, but have a wait list right now. It covers how to create a thriving online art business through launch your artwork to an engaged audience.

Its focus is on how to create the mindset to thrive, the artwork that’s compelling, the platform that is going to help you grow an audience (your website, email list and social media hub) and the systems to grow your audience and convert them into buyers.

Then if you need long-term help, have more pressing need and you really want to make change fast with much more access to me directly, I have a small group coaching mastermind called the Accelerator. It is by application only.

The range of programs go from the mini courses that cover everything from painting demos, to Instagram for Artists and the Online Art Biz Bootcamp as a short term, information only to a long-term membership that you can join on a month to month or annual basis, The Art+Work+Living Community Membership, the two courses, Composition, Color, & Light, and The Painter’s Path, depending on whether you need to work on those compelling paintings or work on the online art biz.

And then an ongoing mentorship, the Accelerator small group coaching mastermind program.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email. I’ll be happy to answer any of those that come my way.

And if you know of anybody who would be interested in any of these programs, please feel free to share them. I would really appreciate that.

How to Find Places to Paint Plein Air

How to Find Places to Paint Plein Air

I’m taking a viewer’s questions around the nuts and bolts of plein air painting, in particular HOW to find places to paint.

Here are some of her questions:

“What continues to befuddle me is the HOW’s of finding places to paint en plein air! – What do you do?

Do you go and ring doorbells and ask if you can paint someone’s view from on their property?

Do you need permission to paint in public parks?

What if you want to paint on a roadside? What are the legalities and safety concerns?

What about private roads and private drives and private communities (even if not gated)? Can a thoroughfare actually BE private, or is that just a put off?

I am running into a lot of that here on the coast of Connecticut, when I travel down to it. And it is very frustrating.

There are even discouraging signs at public boat launches that say that they are for launching and fishing ONLY!

Do they really mean to keep artists out?”

Do you have questions you’d like to have answered in an upcoming video? You can leave them in the comments below.

If you paint plein air, you might also enjoy these posts:

Which Plein Air Easel To Pick?

How To Make Plein Air Painting Less Stressful

Plein Air Painting: Putting Paint to Canvas

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