How Color Creates Light

How Color Creates Light

“Marsh, Sunset”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

“Marsh, Sunset”, oil, 5 x 7″, © Mary Bentz Gilkerson

In the picture, color creates the light. – Hans Hofmann

Creating light is about knowing how to use color.

So a student asked me about how to capture the light of a hazy day. Here’s what I told her

Look at the colors you see. Paint the value and color masses you see and you can capture any type of light.

Are there guidelines you can learn? Sure thing.

And I teach those guides to different times of day, year, and weather inside of my courses, Composition Color & Light, and Catch the Light. I talk about how those things affect the color and value masses.

But at its heart, creating light is about knowing how to use color.

Want to know more about mastering color? Click here to read more.

The foundation of painting is understanding color: hue, value, intensity, and temperature.

  • Color creates light
  • Color creates emotion

Drop a line in the comments if you’re fascinated by how color creates light.


Keep learning…

One of the greatest master artists, J.M.W. Turner, is commonly known as the “painter of light” and his works were an important source of inspiration for Claude Monet and other early impressionist painters. Read more on Turner here and see a video of some of his most well known works here…I’m sure you’ll quickly see why he earned his nickname!

Are you an artist who’s found yourself chasing after the light instead of catching it? You’ll want to check out my episode on How to Catch the Light vs Chasing It.

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.

How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

Ever been afraid to paint. Afraid to make a bad painting so you just don’t. Been frozen and the voice in your head stuck on a loop.

Who do you think you are?

Nobody is going to want to see this.

Your painting is dull.

Your paintings don’t mean anything.

Whether you’re there right now, or you’ve ever been there… and most of us… this is for you.

We’re getting prepped for another great ART+WORK+LIVING 5 Day Painting Challenge!

It’s one of my favorite events that we put on. Seeing the building confidence and speed that the group achieved over just five days is inspiring.

One of the real challenges to the Challenge is learning to let go of perfectionism, which is really just fear of failure wearing a different coat.

​​And by Day #2 that challenge usually crops up for lots of people…

But the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is that the people who face that head on and let go, as hard as it is, make the most progress.

I shot this video to coach these folks over the half way point.

Fear of failure and perfectionism are two of the biggest road blocks we can face as artists, whether you’re doing a painting challenge or just facing a blank canvas in the studio.

If you’d like to find out more about the challenge, go to


Hey there, Mary Gilkerson here and we’re going to be talking today about the importance of failing in creating rituals and habits and building that daily painting habit. I know that sounds like, a, weird, crazy title, but it really is critically important that you begin to allow yourself to embrace failure.

[00:00:31] I want you to think about. How you can begin to embrace failure and allow yourself to not necessarily always be perfect. So let’s dive into that a little bit deeper. One of the things that made me think about doing this topic today, were some of the comments that people have made about their own paintings over in the free Facebook group, over on ART+WORK+LIVING.

[00:01:01] And I’ve noticed students doing that back when I was teaching at the college and in my online courses now, that we’re our own worst enemies at times. We expect our paintings to always be perfect. We don’t ever want to do something that we feel is a little bit less than that is not as good as what we are perceiving in our minds is the ideal outcome.

[00:01:32] So over and over again, we’ll cut ourselves down a bit and we’ll talk about how something is not working way before we ever look at what is working. So I want to challenge y’all on that. I want you to not do that to yourself. I want you to think about when you post your painting. Looking for what’s working way before you look for what’s not working.

[00:02:01] It’s why we have what we call the critique sandwich on the Facebook group and in my courses that when you are delivering a critique, we are going to be able to process that better. If it’s delivered in the form of a sandwich with a positive comment here, that’s reflecting on something that’s working really well, areas for improvement with another positive comment below.

And what happens to our brain when we sandwich it that way is that we’re able to take in that criticism in a productive way. What’s the first thing we do when we get criticism otherwise? We steel ourselves, tense up and become defensive.

[00:02:51] That’s not productive. So always remember the best way to deliver criticism is to use that critique sandwich. And we need to do it with ourselves more than with anybody else. So that’s my first point is to be kinder to yourself, realize that what you think is a failure right now is probably not. You need to look at it again later and to apply the critique sandwich to yourself, as well as to others.

[00:03:21] Then I also want to remind you that if you don’t try, you’ll never improve. And when you’re trying, you’re not always gonna be perfect. You’re not always going to be succeeding. So I want you to remember you’re a whole lot more likely to succeed if you try a lot.

[00:03:42] One of my painting professors, way back in graduate school, (Hey Philip, if you’re listening), told us that we would be a whole lot more likely to make 50 great paintings in a year. If we made a hundred paintings and threw 50 away, best advice I ever got in school. So you’re a whole lot more likely to make successful paintings.

[00:04:07] If you make twice as many paintings as you think you need to succeed. Think about making a lot of paintings so that you have more likelihood of being successful. If you’re not ever failing, if you’re not ever making a bad painting, you are not ever going to make improvement. It’s that fear of taking the step out into the unknown and looking foolish that stops us from trying. And I want you to try. So if you forming that daily painting habit , you’re more likely to be able to survive failure.

Sure, you’re going to have some paintings that don’t work, that you need to go back in on that you want to go back in and on that are bugging you, but you are whole lot more likely to have paintings, at least a few of those paintings work out super well. Say you have 10 days that you’re going to paint consistently. If you make 10 paintings in 10 days, chances are at least five of those are going to be pretty strong paintings. And the other five are going to have some things about them that works super well, that you can apply to the next page.

[00:05:22] Don’t expect them all to be good. Don’t beat yourself up. When that happens, paint more often do whatever it is that you’re trying to learn, how to do more often and you’ll increase the likelihood of success. Keep those things in mind, as you move forward. Allow yourself to fail.

When I was teaching a gen ed course at the college , the course was all about developing the habit of set setting goals for yourself, life skill habits, and making plans, doing strategic planning. And those ideas are all well and good. But if you don’t learn how to step out and risk failure, all the strategic plans in the world and not going to help you. I started asking them at the beginning of every week at the beginning of the class, tell me what you failed at last week.

[00:06:15] And the people who failed at something got applauded really heavily because when you failed at something, it means you’ve stepped out and tried something new or you’ve attempted something that was difficult and challenging. Now, the last point I want to make is that failure is almost never really failure.

[00:06:38] The way that we tend to conceive of it in our culture. We think of failure as the inability to get something done as a negative, as the culmination of an aborted activity, something that is just not working out. So I want you to totally reframe failure in your mind that failure is not an aboard of activity that didn’t succeed.

[00:07:06] Failure is just your first attempt. Remember that repeat after me, failure is just your first attempt. It might be your second attempt. It might even be your third, but if you keep attempting. You will improve repetition over time leads to improvement. Reframe that totally in your mind and think about trying more new things, losing the fear of failure, painting without fear, because you know, they don’t all have to be perfect.

[00:07:46] You don’t even have to show them to anybody if they’re not perfect. And really beginning to look for what’s working before you look for, what’s not working,

[00:07:56] so what did you fail at last week? Because that’s the only way to get you to the point where you’re comfortable with failure, where failure is not a bad word and something that you want to hide away in a closet, and nobody sees it. I want you to feel free to post your failed air quote paintings in the Facebook group.

[00:08:18] Don’t be afraid to post something that’s not working. Know that you’re going to get constructive criticism for what’s not working and that’s the only way to improve and to get some feedback. A new set of eyes really helps. The other thing to do with that is to remember when you’re working on a painting and you’re really close to it, you’re not going to be able to evaluate it super objectively.

So if you’ve been working on it hard and you’ve struggled with some things, you’re going to be better off evaluating it in 24 hours. Get some distance from it so that you can look at things objectively. Years ago, I was struggling with a painting here in the studio and I left at the end of the day thinking it was absolutely the worst painting I’d ever done in my life.

[00:09:11] Totally hated it. Was so discouraged that the next day, when I went into painting class with my beginning painting students, I told them that. They just had free reign that day, that they needed to understand that nothing they could do would be as bad as the painting that I had done the day before that I wanted them to feel free, to experiment that I’d really made a godawful painting in the studio that afternoon.

[00:09:42] When I got into the studio to work and had a chance to have had some distance from the painting, had a chance to sit down and look at it. Get into that creative mood notice it really wasn’t very much wrong with the painting. And in fact, when I gave myself a little reflection time, I was able to see exactly what I needed to do to finish the painting.

[00:10:03] And I finished it and became one of my favorite paintings. You’ve got to have a little critical distance when you’re evaluating things. Keep that in mind.

[00:10:13] I want you to go out there and fail at something. Whether it’s failing at a new recipe, failing at a new activity or not doing it perfectly, just think about it as being, not doing it perfectly, but I want you to try something new.

[00:10:29] Maybe try a new medium, a new material, a new sys, a new brush, a new knife, try something new, get out of your comfort zone in some way. So when you’re reframing the failure question, think of it is getting out of your comfort zone. You want to make sure you get out of your comfort zone. That is all for now.

[00:10:52] Thank you all for joining me here today. And I want you to have a wonderful day. Happy painting everybody. Bye-bye for now.

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Oil Painting Safety: Tips for Making Your Studio More Healthy

Oil Painting Safety: Tips for Making Your Studio More Healthy

You can give solvents the boot and still be able to clean your brushes. 

​​As we move into 2021, wouldn’t it be great to create an even safer work space?

In this episode I answered all your questions about making your studio practice safer in the months ahead.

As an artist who helps artists create thriving studios and the best online art practices, safety is also a big concern. I have such strong feelings about solvent free painting. Reason being two of my painting professors lost their lives way too soon because of the toxic effects of what they used in their studios. This caught my attention and it became one of my research areas as an academic.

I found that earlier painters lived long, healthy, and productive lives. So what was creating this level of toxicity for contemporary artists? A lot of it boils down to one common thread of solvents and their use beginning in the late 19th, early 20th, century. They were developed as cleaning products to begin with. Yet, a lot of artists are using them on a regular daily basis in spaces that are not designed to have toxic materials used inside them. 

Here’s the problem with solvents: 

They go airborne very quickly and they have different levels at which they will become combustible. They also have different levels at which they will sit at about nose height in the studio. However the biggest problem is that solvents are toxic to your body and when you breathe them in it causes long-term respiratory problems. So, I started researching what would make oil painting less toxic. As it turned out, if you take solvent out and you substitute less toxic pigments, oil painting is pretty much the least toxic material out there that you can paint with.  

Now, if you do use solvents, you have to have really good ventilation with air purifying systems so you don’t breathe that stuff in. What happens when you breathe in those solvents is the solvent occupies space that oxygen would be occupying in your brain, that’s why you get lightheaded. But, if you’re insistent on using solvent, then I would recommend that you use turpentine and here’s why. It stinks. It’s a distinctive odor. When it builds up to a level where you shouldn’t be using it anymore you will know because you’ll be able to smell it. The big problem with odorless mineral spirit based thinners and products is that you can’t smell them. So they build up to unsafe levels fairly quickly without you being aware of it. That’s why I don’t think they’re a good idea to use at all, there’s just no need for it.



What you can do instead is clean with an organic, artist’s grade, natural oil. Walnut oil or Linseed oil are always great cleaning tool options. Just make sure you get a good artist’s grade oil that way you don’t end up harming your paintings. But, if you want to save a little money you can use food grade oils to clean with, but just make sure you wash them sufficiently afterwards. I clean my brushes with walnut oil in a silicoil jar. Silicoil jars have a coil in the jar and I pull the brush back and forth across that coil, that releases the pigment into the walnut oil. Then I can just wipe the brush with paper towels and wash it with a bar of ivory soap. You can actually have an open container with walnut oil and rest your brushes in it, come back the next day, wipe the oil off and start painting again. You’re not endangering yourself, others, or your paintings.

Linseed oil is also a great substitute for many solvents, you just don’t want to leave it uncovered because linseed oil can catch on fire spontaneously. You can absolutely use it to clean while you paint, but just remember to put the lid back on it so it doesn’t have a chance to get exposed to oxygen for too long. You also need to take all of those oily waste rags or paper towels outside and dispose of them everyday so they don’t catch fire. I keep a grocery bag on my easel for my paper towels that I throw away outside at the end of each day.

Another substitute you can use is Oil of Spike Lavender. It’s what artists like Michelangelo used, that was the “solvent” of their time. If you can get the true oil of spike lavender now, and it’s expensive, but you can, you can use that to dilute your paint and clean your brushes. It’s hard to find the actual stuff, there’s some companies out there that have it on the market, but it’s actually a chemical substitute for it, and I’m not sure how safe that is or how close to solvent it is.

You can also use Murphy Oil, which is a linseed oil based soap, just make sure you rinse it out of your brushes well. A great thing about Murphy Oil is that enough of it will remove any dried paint, whether it’s acrylic or oil based, from your brushes. I use it to rejuvenate or recondition my brushes when I need to or when I’ve been really hard on them. 

Master’s Brush Cleaner is also a safe product to use, it’s a linseed oil based cleaner. It can actually recondition them in the same way Murphy Oil does. Master’s Brush Cleaner is basically Murphy Oil hardened into a cake. You can save money however by using Murphy Oil instead. 

So those are the first two things I would recommend to make your studio more green, safe, and healthy. Get rid of the solvent, you don’t need it, and use oil to clean your brushes. 

Now, let’s take a look at a few products that many people suggest using that aren’t the best idea… 

First up, baby oil. Do not use baby oil. Here’s why, baby oil stays in your brush, it’s there residually… and that means that it’s going to be in your brush when you go to paint. You don’t want baby oil mixing with your oil paint as you’re working.

Additionally, Dawn dishwashing detergent is also a big no. Keep in mind, brushes are made of hair, even synthetic ones. Would you wash your hair with dawn dish soap? No. It’s not a good habit and your brushes won’t last as long, instead use ivory soap. It’s much more gentle and will make your brushes last longer.

Gamsol is an odorless spirit, I do not use it in the house because you can’t tell how much of it is building up and you don’t want to have that occupying your brain cells instead of oxygen. While I appreciate all of the work Gamblin has done on developing it and reassuring how safe they feel it is, Gamsol is still a solvent, so I would suggest that you not use it. I would only use it outside. Gamblin has made a really wonderful medium called solvent free medium and solvent free gel. It’s a liquid and a gel and it’ll help paint dry just a little bit quicker, but I would use that instead if you want to use a medium while you paint. 

Liquin and galkyd are alkyd mediums. Any of those alkyd mediums have a little bit of solvent in them. They have more solvent in them than the gamblin solvent free. You cannot travel with galkyd or liquin in your carry on because of the solvent in them. I have hesitations about using alkyd products, so I would avoid them. 

Terpenoid has solvent in it too, so I wouldn’t use it. If you have something that you want to clean, like a palette or a brush handle, there’s something called Citrusolve. It’s an organic citrus cleaner that you can buy at grocery stores, they also sell it in some art supply stores. I use that to clean my palette off if I’ve got stuff stuck on there. But again, it’s non-toxic, it’s not a solvent that’s going to harm you. 

So let’s recap:

Supplies that are safe and nontoxic alternatives to use in the studio:

Supplies that are toxic or will cause damage to your painting supplies:

  • Solvents
  • Odorless mineral spirit based solvents
  • Turpentine 
  • Baby oil
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • Gamsol
  • Liquin 
  • Galkyd
  • Terpenoid 

Cleaning supplies however aren’t the only toxic materials you have to worry about when it comes to painting. 

When people tell you oil painting is dangerous, they’re talking mostly about the solvent, not the paint itself. Oil paint is not inherently toxic as long as you’re using non-toxic pigments. Here’s what I mean by that… 

The pigments that are the most toxic are the heavy metals. That means things like cadmiums, the cobalts, anything that has nickel in it, any of those metallic sounding names, lead, you don’t want to be using those. Yes, they’re small amounts. Yes, you’d have to eat your paint for it to really hurt you. But guess what? A lot of you are eating your paint without really realizing it…

Have you ever stuck the end of your paintbrush in your mouth as you’re sitting back and examining what you’ve painted? Well any paint that’s been on your hands transfers to the brush handle, and now to your mouth. If you pick up food with paint on your hands, you are now ingesting that paint. When you paint overtime, all of that stuff builds up in your body and it is cancer inducing. Be super careful about how you handle your paint. I don’t use gloves when I’m painting, but I’m also not using heavy metals in my studio. So being aware of the materials you’re working with and developing good habits around how you handle your tools is super important.

You’re wondering… what pigments are toxic and how do I substitute them? Let’s dive a little deeper into that…

Cadmium red, while a fantastic color, is a toxic pigment. Naphthol red medium is a really close substitute, it looks very similar. Pyrrole red is almost an identical pigment and is actually an improvement from cadmium. Cadmium is opaque and you cannot get a clear warm red with it. However, pyrrole red can, it’s transparent. It’s very strong as a pigment, so you can actually use less paint and get a better result. There are pyrrole reds in every paint line that I know of. It wont say pyrrole red, but if you look on the pigment list on the back of the label you’ll be able to find it. Cadmium orange is another toxic pigment. This one can also be substituted with a pyrrole orange.

Now let’s take a look at blues. Cobalt, manganese, and cerulean blue to be exact. These pure pigments are toxic, however there are paints that have hue in their name and have substitutes that are non-toxic or cheaper, these are safe to use. But, you can mix the hue colors by using phthalo blue and ultramarine blue, which are safe pigments to be working with. Cobalt hue is just ultramarine blue and phthalo blue mixed. Cerulean blue is just phthalo blue and white. So the hues are really just convenience colors. If you’re using the original cobalt, manganese, or cerulean blues, they are toxic heavy metals. Eliminate those things and you’ll be golden. 

Another one that is toxic, that a lot of people use, is cadmium yellow. There are substitutes that are actually better colors, like hansa yellow, to be working with. I use indian yellow, which has the same pigment that is in hansa yellow. You can use indian yellow and white to make any shade or tint of yellow there is, including the equivalent of cadmium yellow. 

Lastly there’s lead white. Gamblin makes a substitute called lead white replacement that I love. That’s the main white I use. 

There are other options out there and I hope this gives you just a taste of what you can do with getting rid of those toxic pigments. 

If you’re using the double primary palette, which I strongly recommend, I have a  great list of substitute paints in my blog, Why You Should Use the Double Primary Palette. Every pigment color on this list is non-toxic and safe to use. 

A question I’ve gotten before is if water soluble oils are toxic. No, they are not inherently toxic. As long as you’re using pigments that are not toxic, water soluble oils are safe. I’m just personally not a fan of water soluble oils, the consistency is that of pudding and it doesn’t work well for painting thickly with a palette knife. But, they are not going to hurt you.

Now, let’s talk a bit about safe studio practices for acrylic painting. 

While you can’t use oils for cleaning up acrylic paint, you can still use the silicoil jar to clean up with acrylic paint. Just use water instead of oil. The silicoil jar will still pull most of the pigment off as you run it across the coil. That way after the pigment settles to the bottom of the jar you can pour the water off and then dispose of that sludge at your area’s hazardous waste dump, because they can dispose of it in a way that’s not harming the environment. This also solves a concern that a lot of people have when they’re working with acrylic paint… the idea of sending toxic elements down into the water table.

A big problem I have with acrylics as far as sustainability goes, and the environment goes, is sending all that plastic down the drain. When you rinse your brushes out in the sink, you’re sending plastics down your pipes. If it sits for any length of time, those plastics dry out. So, you can actually clog your own drain by washing brushes in the sink. If you clean them first in a silicoil jar you’re going to have less of it go down the drain. But, you’re also sending those plastics into the water sewage and water treatment systems and contributing to the increase of plastics in our environment. I think the less plastic we send into the environment the better. So that’s my problem with acrylics. 

Another problem with acrylics is that most acrylic paint has formaldehyde in it. The formaldehyde is in there to prevent mold from growing on the paint as it sits in storage. I can smell it and I started having a slight allergic reaction when I was really young, so I became really aware. I could tell when they were in the studio. I don’t use them often as a result, if I do use them, I’ve got to have really good ventilation. So for me one of the problems with acrylics is that they all have stuff in them that gives off formaldehyde gasses, and I find that problematic for a whole lot of different reasons. So, make sure you’ve got good ventilation when using acrylic paint. 

You’re probably thinking… what about watercolors? 

The only real issues you’ll have with watercolor is, again, the pigments. Same for gouache. They’re not inherently toxic, you’re not sending plastics down the drain, and you’re not disposing of things that are not biodegradable. Oils, watercolor, gouache… Those are all biodegradable. And as long as you’re using non-toxic pigments, you’re not hurting the environment.

A difficult medium to find a safe practice for is cold wax and encaustic painting. 

I know a lot of people love cold wax, and I love the way it looks. It’s a great final finish on an oil painting, because it gives it an even sheen and it’s fairly easy to apply. But, it’s got a ton of solvent in it. So, if you use cold wax, you’re going to have to be super careful about having really good ventilation because it’s full of solvent.

And as far as a safe way to use encaustics, here’s what makes encaustics so toxic. It’s got solvent in it, and if you’re using toxic pigments, it gets heated up. So, part of the problem with encaustics is everything is done hot. When it heats up, it releases solvents into the air. If you’re using pigments that have toxic elements in them, it releases those toxic elements into the air. So, encaustics produce fumes that are deadly. I personally think the only safe way to do encaustics is to do them outside, or if you have a garage you could use them there with the garage door open. I know people who have created elaborate ventilation systems in their studios in order to be able to use them, I wouldn’t do that. I just know too many people who had really bad health problems from doing that. So, as much as I love the way they look, I don’t think it’s worth it. I just don’t think there is a way to make encaustics safe other than working outside. 

Lastly I wanna touch on soft pastels and studio safety surrounding them. 

I am a huge lover of soft pastels, I love how rich the colors are. If you’re going to use soft pastels, it’s critical that you wear a mask. And not just a dust mask, you need to wear a respirator. I have two respirators I use in the studio when I’m doing soft pastels, and I look like Darth Vader. You’ll look weird, but you’re safe. What really sold me on wearing a respirator was changing the filters. When you change them and you see all of the pastel dust in those filters, you’ll never work in pastels without a respirator on again. With pastels, it is more important that you’re using non-toxic pigments than it is with any other medium. This is because everything you’re working with in pastels is going airborne. So if you’re using cobalts, you’re breathing in cobalt. Same with using cadmiums or nickel, you’re breathing it all in. It’s going directly into your system and it doesn’t leave. Remember those substitutes we talked about, there are great substitutes for pastels out there as well, but get non-toxic pigments. I actually don’t do pastels that much anymore, as much as I love them, because they are literally the most dangerous medium there is. Everyone using pastels, please start using a respirator if you aren’t already and remove those toxic pigments from your boxes. 

You might be thinking does that go for oil pastels as well? No. Oil pastels don’t create dust, they’re bound already with oil, so it’s not sending anything airborne. Oil pastels are as safe as oil paints, as long as you’re not using toxic pigments. 

However, you do still want to wear a respirator when working with charcoal. Charcoal will create and send dust airborne and you don’t want to breath that in. So, anything that creates dust, wear a respirator.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re working in oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, gouache, whatever the medium is. 

You need to pay attention to what pigments you’re using, what supplies you are using and how you clean your painting supplies, and always put your safety first when it comes to your studio practice. Keep all of the things we’ve discussed in mind next time you go to buy painting supplies and let’s all work towards safer, more eco-friendly, and non-toxic studio practices. 


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Why Sharing Your Art Matters Even More in 2021

Why Sharing Your Art Matters Even More in 2021

Join me as we chat about leadership and why your art matters even more in 2021. 

This is the recording from the webinar that I did on January 8, 2021. Coming the day after the attack on the Capital, I widened the angle of my original topic, “3 Steps to Get Your Art in Front of More People in 2021” to talk about the impact your art makes, why it’s important to paint now, and why your audience needs your painting now. 

Then we discuss three steps you can take to grow that audience and create an impact.


[00:00:01]First off, welcome.

[00:00:03] And thank you for joining me here this afternoon. Thank you for being part of the artwork, living community, because if you’re here, that means that you are either on my email list or you are a frequent visitor to my website and knew that I had a webinar scheduled for today. First off. I’ll just want to say how much I appreciate you and appreciate your being part of the community.

[00:00:30] And one of the things about being in a community is that when stuff happens. Communities need to come together. So I have a whole different day planning afternoon planned for what we were going to do this afternoon in talking about art, our art, and getting it in front of an audience. And I’m still going to cover that because I know there are people who made time to be here, but I also want to talk a lot about why it’s important to still make art.

[00:01:04] So for those who are not in the us, we had a great tragic day yesterday here. We had violence erupt on the grounds of the Capitol. And that is as traumatic for all of us in the U S is not 11 was. And I want to acknowledge that right out the Gates. Yeah, I know Susie. It affects Canada too. It affects everybody.

[00:01:31] It’s a catastrophic moment. And that means that we can’t just go on business as usual. And I can’t just talk and blindly pretend like yesterday didn’t happen. So like I said, I’m still going to talk about audience, but I want to talk first. About why it’s still important to make art. And it’s still important to share art, even when things feel chaotic and 2020.

[00:02:00] So really chaotic year, I think 2021 is going to settle down. So if I could make predictions about 2021 is I do think that the world is going to be less chaotic. I do think things will settle down. But we are still going through some ups and downs and some chaos. And I think if we ignore that that’s being horribly naive, but the flip side to that yes.

[00:02:28] That I know. And I’m hearing from a lot of artists, both in the free Facebook group and via email that they are so unsettled that they feel like they can’t paint. And that there’s no reason for them to paint and that there’s no reason for them to share their art. I just read ,  an email from someone ,  that really does break my heart.

[00:02:50] She feels like there’s no reason for her to try to sell her artwork now because too much bad stuff has been happening in the world. And I want to say right off the bat, The world needs your art. The world needs your art now more than it ever has before. However you want to deliver it out into the world, whether you want to make it be the thing that is how you’re earning a living, or you just simply want to share it for impact.

[00:03:25] The world needs you because art is an antidote to chaos. And if ever there was a time we need that antidote to chaos it’s now.

So now is absolutely the time to be sharing your work. You don’t have to be asking for a sale to share your work, but you do need to share it. It will benefit not just the people who are seeing it.

[00:03:59] It’ll benefit you because one of the surest ways to navigate through chaos is to stay connected to the things that matter the most to you. And I know that your art matters to you, and I want you to understand and believe that your art matters to other people. And that simply seeing your painting, even if it’s of something that you don’t think matters, I’m promising it matters to somebody out there.

[00:04:33] It’s going to lift them up during a time when they’re feeling love. It’s going to lift them up during a time when they need to focus on something else, it’s going to lift them up and give them a pause, a space. To not be swept up in the chaos. So I think it’s super important for people to realize just how important it is to create it doesn’t mean that you have to become a professional artist.

[00:05:07] It does that mean you have to be marketing your work. It doesn’t mean that you have to be promoting yourself out there now. Please keep creating. Please keep painting. And know that this too shall pass and we can be part of the agency of helping all of us move through this. So don’t let your paintbrush down.

[00:05:34] We can paint the world back together again. We can pay our way through it, but you can’t stop painting. You have to pick your paints back up, you have to pick your brushes back up and we have to keep moving on. We have to keep sharing our work with the world. It is more important now, and it’s more important today than it was last week.

[00:06:00] And it’s more important today than it was last year. So I want you to know that your work matters. And it matters on a very, very deep level to the community that you’re a part of, even if that community is only three or four people. I actually don’t think it’s just three or four people. Our world is much smaller now and they used to talk about six degrees of separation.

[00:06:29] And I think it’s down to really about three degrees of separation worldwide now because of the internet. So you have a huge audience out there that you may not even be aware of. And every time you share one of your paintings, a piece of art out into the world, you are sending it out to transform other people.

[00:06:54] Don’t shut that off. Don’t lock it away and don’t lean into despair. Now’s not the time where you’re going to get through this and we are going to be okay, but we have to keep sharing our work. Super, super important. So I want you to understand that, and I want you to know that you may never know the person who sees your painting and is impacted by it.

[00:07:25] Sometimes those things happen in a way that somebody sees something and it’s never shared with everyone else. You may not ever hear. You may hear what impact it has. But if you hide it away, then you’re hiding it from somebody who needs to see it. So I want you all to promise me that you’re not going to put your paint brush down and you’re not going to stop sharing your work and that you are going to focus on sharing the creativity that you’ve got inside with the rest of the world, because I firmly believe that’s the responsibility.

[00:08:08] You don’t have to make money from it. That’s completely up to you. It’s not bad if you decide that’s what you want to do, but you do have a responsibility to sh to the world to share your creativity in whatever way, whatever form that it takes. There are people out there who need to hear from you.

So your audience already exists.

[00:08:31] It’s out there. And they’re listening to you and they’re paying attention. So now’s the time to stand up and now it’s time to share. So it is absolutely crucial that you do yeah, Josephine says thanks for the affirmation that we have to keep going with our art. It’s really true. And it is critical right now.

[00:08:52] I know a lot of people. May ask themselves the question, how, why does my painting matter? When there, there are people who have lost their jobs, people who are sick, people who are struggling with lots and lots of horrendous things.

The reason is because what you share has the potential to give them that little tiny piece that they need to keep going.

It’s that important? Really important yet. Nancy says, painting puts me in my happy place. Absolutely true. And that in and of itself is enough reason to be painting. Because if you lift yourself up by going to pay, then you are even nevermind the painting part. You’re sharing that uplifted self.

[00:09:52] With everybody else who’s around you. So that is the important message that I want to get across today. Absolutely important. Pamela, yes. Thank you for sharing that. And she says, I agree that as an artist, we have a responsibility to share our visions with the world. It’s crucial that you do that. It really is.

[00:10:13] Nobody else has the voice that you have. That’s why it’s so important. Each one of us is unique. And I see people all the time thinking a lot of people thinking that they’re, there’s so many other artists out there, what does my work matter? Or how could I possibly compete with these people? Who’ve been painting longer than I have knew, or who had more education that I have, or who have whatever else it is that you feel like is blocking your ability to make it and to share your work.

[00:10:45] They don’t have you, they don’t have the thing that makes you and there are people out there who need to hear from the person you are with the things that matter to you. So I was talking to a coaching client about a week and a half ago, and we were talking about what it is that matters to her, that she shares with the world.

[00:11:10] And. It really comes down to real simple things. What do you care about, what are you passionate about? What are the most important things to you? What are your values? Now? Values is an overused word, but it’s important for a reason. What are the things that you care about tremendously? And it’s not just painting.

[00:11:37] It’s also other things it could be like for me, one of the things I’m passionate about, passionate about the landscape, not just painting it, but I’m passionate about preserving it, caring for it, caring for the creatures that live on it. That’s part of the passion that I share with my audience. No people didn’t need to hear that and need to hear it from the way that I say it in my paintings, same is true for you.

[00:12:06] And there’s an audience out there for whatever the things are that are most important to you. Don’t try to be somebody else be you. And when you’re you and you share your uniqueness with the world, you’re going to find that audience. Greg, thank you for sharing that. Greg says, this is quite emotional.

[00:12:26] I didn’t realize I’d buried a lot of these feelings. That is one of the reasons I came on today. I thought about canceling the webinar, but I don’t think that’s right either, but I do think we have to talk about the things that are important. And then PNS says, what are the best ways? What’s the best way to share that depends on you.

[00:12:49] Now the things that I had listed that I want to talk about, wanted to talk about today. I’m still going to talk about, cause I think they’re still important. And oddly enough, they do really apply to what we’re talking about. One is community. I think that after the year that we had last year, Community is more important than it ever has been before.

[00:13:15] People have been isolated from their communities physically, and we’ve turned to online communities as a way to maintain that sense of connection. So one of the ways that you can share one of the routes is to look for communities. Around the things that you value around the things that you care about and share your work with them, not to promote it.

[00:13:44] So I’m not talking about going into Facebook groups and going, here’s my painting by my painting that don’t do that. They’ll kick you out. But if you are going into a Facebook group, that is about the things that you value the most, and you share your work in an authentic and honest way. It’s going to give value to that community.

[00:14:06] You’re going to be sharing your uniqueness with that community. So community is super important. And right now a lot of that is online. So think about where you can find those communities. You can find them on Pinterest. You can find them on Twitter. You can find them on any social platform. We think about Facebook groups first, but they are certainly not in the only plus you can create your own community.

[00:14:37] So if there’s something you feel passionate about, start a Facebook group about it, great place to share your work. So build community. Build authentic community. One form of community is an email list. So an email list is a way to share your work with them authentically, but also share that sense of community shared joint experience, allow people in, in a more personal way.

[00:15:12] That’s the second thing that I think is even more important in 2021. So I think in back up a second, I promise it’s going to be a little more rambling today than I would have intended because I do want to touch on more points than, or touch on a little bit different way based on what’s been happening.

[00:15:31] But I think community is crucial and it’s part of our obligation as artists. Is to be a part of a community it’s to be in community. And I know a lot of us tend to be very a little bit shy, a little bit introverted and be more comfortable letting our art D talking instead of us do the talking too.

[00:16:01] And I want to challenge all of y’all to not do that as much.

Don’t hide away. Start talking about why your art’s important to you.

That’s one of the most attractive things that there is out there for your audience is to share why it’s important to you and share it. Honestly. So I know that y’all have heard the word authentic before in terms of marketing, if you followed any kind of marketing stuff at all, and it’s another one of those words that gets overused and it becomes a little meaningless when people throw it out there all the time.

[00:16:36] So I’d substitute the word, honestly. Instead you don’t try to be somebody else. One of the biggest downfalls that I see artists. Trap themselves in is trying to be what they think the market in quotation marks once, which means trying to make art for the market. And that just does not work. You have to make art that speaks to those values, whatever those are.

[00:17:10] And when your values are in alignment with the values of the audience. That’s when the exchange of art and audience happens, even if it’s not a monetary exchange, that’s the important connection. And that’s the community.

So you build community when you share your work with people who share your values, and it’s part of the responsibility that we have as creatives to do that.

[00:17:43] So it doesn’t mean you need to go out and, and rush to find that audience, but just start sharing and the audience will gather around you. So my number one suggestion for the ways to share your work and to be part of the solution and not part of the problem is to. Be in community to share your work in a community, to be part of building community, to be able to be part of building connection, because we really, really need that right now.

[00:18:18] That’s how we walk stuff back and get to a point where we’re all talking again. So be in community, let your artwork be part of that. And don’t overthink what it is that you need to paint. Paint, what matters to you? The rest of that will follow it. So paint, what matters to you, share it with people who share your values and then you’ll create community number two.

[00:18:48] The second thing that I think is super important and more important in 2021 is that people need personal contact. What do I mean by that? Because certainly in the time of COVID that doesn’t mean running out and standing on the street corner and giving everybody a hug. That’s probably not a great idea, but what it does mean is that instead of trying to speak to an anonymous audience, that’s out there, that’s kind of faceless.

[00:19:26] That you want to begin to build personal one-to-one connection. You want to begin to build conversations with an audience with your community. So number one, start building community. Number two is to develop that personal contact. That’s how you’re going to impact people’s lives right now. That’s how you’re going to begin to build relationship.

[00:19:54] People don’t want anonymous connections and automation. They want conversation with a person, a real person. So be the real person and respond to people. Answer questions. Like I said, I know we’re introverts, but this is not a time for hiding behind her introversion. What are the beauties of online?

[00:20:17] Which is where we are right now for the most part is that it’s the perfect space for us introverts. We don’t have to put on fancy clothes and go to an opening and actually talk one-to-one with all those people in there. We can talk one-to-one through the computer screen. In a way that may feel a little bit less intimidating to you, but the more you begin to talk to people, the more impact you will have and the sharing of your work that you do one-to-one will have a tremendous impact.

[00:20:56] One that you may not even realize at the time. I know of plenty of artists who’ve shared with me stories about. What’s happened when they’ve shared their work with someone and the impact that it’s had. I’m thinking about an, a friend of mine that is a painter who shared her work with someone and it reminded him so much of someone who had lost that he wanted to buy the painting.

[00:21:22] And then when he passed away, it became a family airline because it reminded the family of how much that thing had mattered to him. Your work has impact when you build that relationship and that connection, you literally are helping to save the world. And I know that sounds Pollyanna-ish, but it’s true.

[00:21:44] We saved the world one person at a time. Back when I was still teaching full-time at the college I taught for almost 30 years. I did teach for 30 years, but I taught one course in particular for almost 30 years. And it was the senior exhibition course. And as part of that course, my students had to develop a body of work, a plan for a body of work, and they had to talk about, had to talk about the concept behind it.

[00:22:16] And one of the things that happens to 21 year olds 22 year olds, when they’re asked to come up with a concept for their work is that they are young, they’re idealistic, and they want to save the world. And so they want to create artwork. That’s going to save the world and they would talk about how their work was intended to end world hunger.

[00:22:38] Their work was intended to end homelessness there, where it was intended to fill in the blank. And all of those are absolutely wonderful goals, but as single artwork is probably not going to accomplish that huge big goal for humanity. But what it does do is impact one person that impacts another person and then impacts another person.

[00:23:06] And once those students realized that they didn’t have to say the whole world at one time, it was tremendously freeing. So I would talk to them about not trying to solve the whole big problem, but how can you solve a problem? How can you address something you think is an issue? How can you speak to what is important to your values in a one-to-one conversation?

[00:23:33] Think of your paintings as being a one-to-one conversation. So they are sharing one-to-one. With your viewer, they become the enemy Erie between you here and your viewer here that you may never meet, but your artwork meets in the middle. And it’s the contact point for that conversation. So I want you to think about your paintings as being a one-to-one conversation.

[00:24:00] You’re going to build community and you’re going to create conversations. And yes, you will make a difference when you do that. It’s not based on your skill level. It’s not based on your style. It’s not based on your medium it’s based on you and the conversation that you have with the world.

The third thing, the third part of that, the third thing that really is super important is to remember that one of the things that has happened is that people are, for the most part in their homes, a lot of people are working from home so that the internet gives you a chance to share directly into someone else’s home that you’ve never met. There are hundreds of different ways that you can approach delivering your work to the people that need to see it.

[00:25:07] And you don’t need to be everywhere. You need to be in the places that feel like the most normal and honest ways for you to share your work. So sometimes people ask me, well, should I be on Facebook or Instagram? Should I be on Twitter or Pinterest? And the answer is maybe the answer is what platform feels most normal for you.

[00:25:35] What platform is your audience on? And then what you need to do is to show up consistently. Now’s not the time to put your brush down and hide. Now is the time to stand up and share your paintings with the audience that’s out there, share your artwork, even if it’s not painting whatever your art form is, your creativity.

[00:26:00] So that means that figure out which platform is the one that is most natural for you to enter somebody else’s home space on. Think about where people are when they are looking at your work online, they are in their homes. So pad those personal conversations with them create a sense of community. And I promise you’ll be making a difference.

[00:26:30] You’ll be making a huge difference. So let’s see what other questions we have here in the group.

[00:26:38] Yeah, Stefan said the question is always, when we look for excuses or opportunities, there are plenty of opportunities out there. And I think that, as I said before that now more than ever people need to see it. So as soon as the. Kind of the secret sauce in there is that when you show up and when you share your work on a consistent basis, then it is not necessary for you to become salesy.

[00:27:09] You don’t have to do that. You never have to cross that line into making conversations that feel uncomfortable. You can share your work. And if you’re showing up for your audience that you’ve created through building community, then you don’t have to become a salesy person. You can simply share your work and sales will tend to follow.

[00:27:34] If that is your desire to do, but you’ll definitely have an impact with your work when you do that. Now, uh, thank you. It says your community building work is as important as the technical knowledge you share. Thank you. You’re welcome. Creating community is a big, important thing. To me. Connection is one of my values and I think it’s super important and I don’t want people to get feel like they’d have to fall off track.

[00:28:00] In a lot of ways because of what’s going on. So decide on an Avenue for yourself to create community, decide, and commit to building those conversations. Having those one-on-one personal connections with people, commit to the fact that you’re going into other people’s homes with your work. Through the internet, pick that platform and show up in some way every day.

[00:28:30] It doesn’t mean you have to make a long, deep thought out post that dives in great depth and detail into the motivations behind your artwork every single day on Instagram. That’s not what I mean. It can be as simple as the beginning as showing up. And posting an image of your painting and talking about it or showing up and sharing a video of the twice that you like to paint or the process that you go through when you’re for pain.

[00:29:02] So there are all kinds of things that you can share. And he says often stop myself from painting because I think I have nothing to say, but you’ve reminded me that appreciation of nature and beauty of design and form are sufficient values to express. They sure are. And again, people need to see those nails.

[00:29:19] So what your the part of your art that matters could be as simple as beautiful color. That isn’t enough. It doesn’t have to be something that is a big picture, huge solution to an issue. Josephine says I’m lucky to have local art community. That’s fantastic. So Canvara area visual arts. In County Galway Ireland.

[00:29:49] Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet face to face, but we did have a 40 minute like drawing club, a regular with regular exhibitions by members. That’s awesome. Yeah. And she said, we just share our work on the WhatsApp group and Instagram page. That’s a great way to do it. So one of the things that you can do right now, And I know that Stefan, I think it was you that had a question that you yield email to me about whether there’s a market in sharing your work with other artists, whether other artists to collect art and the answer to that is yes.

[00:30:23] So one thing you might want to do right now is form a community. Like the one that Josephine is talking about an art community, where you share our ideas with other artists. Yeah, not necessarily what the goal of selling your work to those other artists, but simply with the goal of building a community of artists, then you might group together and share names and market to people that members of that group know.

[00:30:56] So you can absolutely share resources that way. And that’s a way to build community, but Stefan, yes. Artists do collect art. I collect art and I know a lot of artists that collect art, I would say probably 20% of my collectors are other artists. So it’s entirely possible to do that. I would not advocate that you think of artists as being your only target market.

[00:31:29] But I think they can definitely be part of your target market, but think about the people that share the same values that you share around your work. All of those things were important. Talked a lot about values and talked a lot about community. And I’ve talked to a lot about that personal contact at one-on-one and when all three of those things are in alignment, then you’ll have an audience.

[00:31:55] And once you build an audience, then you can figure out how you want to have impact, whether that’s through creating profit for yourself, creating profit for others, or simply transforming lives through the sharing of the work. It’s completely up to you. Garrett says, I tell him all dog, this, that all the time, if he is not part of the solution, he’s part of the problem.

[00:32:20] Absolutely. Yeah. There’s not really an in-between. I totally agree with that. So Jada says this isn’t there. Oh, there’s no dumb question. Let me stop first right there and say that I’ve taught. All of my adult life. And in all of my years of teaching, I’ve gotten a stupid question one time, literally once.

[00:32:46] And there’s no such thing as a stupid question there really isn’t. So ask any questions that you want to ask right now? So there’s no way, no problem with doing that. So Jada says, do you have an online community where your students followers share their work? And if so, had I become a member of that? I shared it.

[00:33:07] I have a free Facebook grid and I will give you the link to that. In just a second, I’m pulling it up in my browser so that I can pop the link here into Okay. Chat role. So that group is not for selling, but it is for sharing ideas and getting feedback and critiques. So we don’t allow selling in there, but you absolutely are welcome to join and share your work and get critiques from fellow members.

[00:33:43] So Sujata put the link right down here at, in the chat role. Okay. And hopefully you can see that right down there. It should take you straight to Facebook. And there’s some questions. We have rules in the Facebook group around sharing and kindness and all those other sorts of things I think were important as part of community.

[00:34:06] And as soon as you answer those questions, say yes, that you agree to the rules, then you’re automatically in. Yeah. Let’s see. And says, please address the question about hashtags. Let me scroll back up and see if I see an earlier question about hashtags, or if you just have a general question about hashtags and yet Josephine I’m so glad I sent you an email just a few minutes before we got online live, just being just joined my course this week.

[00:34:43] And I want to see if you have a specific question around hashtags. And if you do drop that in here, if not, I’ll give you my general overview here. Cool. I don’t see anything. Oh, here it is. Sylvia says, how do I know which what hashtags I should use when I’m on social media to generate community? So the hashtags hashtags are just searched tacks.

[00:35:20] Think of them as words that people use to search for things. So when you know, what are your most important values? The things you value the most. Those are your first search tags. So if you look at the tags, the hashtags that I use, one of them is landscape. That’s one of my big values and it’s on there because I want other people who find the landscape to be important.

[00:35:51] To find me through that landscape painting is another hashtag. So start with the things that are most important to you, the values that are most important to you, then look at hashtags that other successful artists are using in the same niche that you’re in. And you have to test those to see if they’re going to work for you.

[00:36:16] You won’t know whether they’ll work for you and your audience until you’ve. You’ve run them a little bit. You can only use 30 hashtags at a time. And I put them into the first comment that way they don’t get the caption all stuffed full of the little hashtag beyond son every now and then I’ll put a hashtag into the caption on Facebook and Instagram, if it fits in the context of the caption, otherwise.

[00:36:48] I only put them on Instagram in the first comment. So that’s the best way to get started. You can also include things like location, where you are location. If you’re a realist painter location of the subject that you’re painting, because that’s going to draw in community. So that’s where I would get started.

[00:37:13] Look at the values that you want to share, look at the location that you were in and your subjects in. And then look at the hashtags that people are just ahead of you are using in your niche and test them out. You can see in the analytics and we get a sway here.

[00:37:36] You can see in the analytics, which ones are getting the most reach. Which ones are bringing the most people to your Instagram’s account. And those are the ones you want to keep on using ones that people aren’t responding to, those the ones you want to let go of. So it’s something you build up over time.

[00:37:56] Don’t use the same ones all the time, shift them, so that they’re appropriate. So let me know if that answers your question, Sylvia. It was a great and. Let’s say, I think that was the other big one that just pain says. Yeah. Josephine said I’ve had some great feedback, critique and constructive suggestions from sharing on some different Facebook groups for artists, including the artwork, living grid.

[00:38:29] I’m glad that you’re enjoying that one, but yeah. I think that artists groups on Facebook can serve. Tremendously right now to provide community that sense of shared experience that we have as creatives. So find a group that’s feels like it’s right for you. People have different needs and critique, and you want to make sure that the one that you’re joining and sharing in is going to be the right fit for you.

[00:38:56]Stefan, you mentioned one of my mentors, somebody whose work, I adore Seth Goden. So one of the first online courses I took was from Seth Gooden back in, I think it was 2013, 2014, but yes, he is precisely, right. Stefan rhe, Seth Godin says, figure out what you stand for. It is the heart of your work. And it’s, I’ve said it in multiple different ways and multiple different times, both on my blog and my emails and in my webinars.

[00:39:32] You need to know your, why, your, why, or your values what’s important to you? Why don’t you stand for what is stuff you’re not willing to let go of? What is stuff that is non-negotiable that you’re not going to let go of. That’s what you stand for. And there’s an audience out there that shares those values that needs to see your work.

[00:39:59] It’s super important. To share that. And I would highly recommend any books by Seth Goden. If you’re looking at how to find a tribe and an audience and how to share your work with the world, he just wrote one. That came out three months, two months ago, I think on, about sharing your art. And he’s talking about art in a big, broad sense in the sense of anybody who’s creative and he considers business and marketing creative as well as I do.

[00:40:37]But yes, the practice. Thank you, Stefan. Yeah, it is an awesome book and it is precisely written for us. It is an excellent book. I think I have my copywriter over here on the side. So yes, highly recommend that book. There are that. I can’t think of any book he’s ever done that doesn’t apply. And a lot of my ideas around creating an audience and growing an audience, go straight back to what I’ve learned from him.

[00:41:06] One of the things that impressed me about Seth Goden years ago was that he doesn’t do it as much anymore, but because he’s, his audience is just too huge. He responded. To his audience. So if you really were struck by something that he wrote and you wrote back to him, he would write back to you. And I wrote to him one time and he wrote back to me, he responded to questions in his courses in a one-on-one way as very well known is he is.

[00:41:45] And I think that’s one reason. So many of us like me and Stefan are super drawn to him because he builds community. So I’ll type that again, down here. Nancy it’s Seth Godin, G O D I N. It’s in the chat role. It’s Seth Godin and the name of the book is the practice. It’s about what goes into being a creative and being committed to your work.

[00:42:19] It’s not about how to sell your work. It’s about how to share your work with the world, with the people who need to see it. So highly recommend that book. It’s a great one. Let me see if there’s anybody else who has a question or comment that they want to make. I think I have caught. The questions that were in the grid, but I want to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

[00:42:47] That was important. I got the one about the hashtags. So just to reiterate the things that are important right now, more than ever, your art matters, your work matters. And please still keep painting. Don’t put the brush down. Okay. The more that you pick the brush up, the more that you’ll be able to paint. I know that chaos can be a block to creativity, but it’s also painting is the way through that.

[00:43:21] So paint. Paint and share your work. Think about how you can help to create community. Think about the communities that already exist, that you can share your work with. And you find those communities through knowing your values, knowing what’s important to you. Don’t try to share your work with a community that doesn’t share the same values because it’ll fall flat.

[00:43:48] Absolutely fall flat. Remember that making a one-to-one personal connection is more important than ever right now. And that you want to find the platform that you feel comfortable on, that your audience is also using. Yeah, that’s part of that community so that you can begin to build a community. You can begin to have those one-on-one conversations.

[00:44:15] There’s no right or wrong social media platform to be using. It needs to be the one that you’re actually going to show up on. So there’s no point in saying I’m going to use Instagram. If you hate Instagram or I’m going to use Facebook, if you hate Facebook, use the one you love, but also make sure that your audience is on there.

[00:44:36] So look for people who share those same values. Nancy, I’m glad that makes sense. Cool beings. Heather says she just joined artwork living this afternoon. Are you? Couldn’t go to a great with chats. Hmm. I’m not sure what you mean, Heather artwork living. You just share the grid for a minute because it’s just a Facebook group. So we don’t have separate chats in there.

[00:45:11] So that may be what you’re asking about, but we don’t have separate chats in there because we can’t monitor them. The grant is huge. That’s one of the pluses. It’s also one of the minuses. Sometimes the free group is big. My courses don’t, aren’t filled with as many people as that. I like to split things up.

[00:45:31] So I’m a little bit more personal, but the free group has. 15,000 people in there. So we can’t monitor individual chat rings or chats inside the free groups. So that’s why you can’t do a chat in there, but you can absolutely have a conversation by posting and asking a question and then answering comments in feed, and you’ll see people do that.

[00:46:00]And talking about ideas. Within the Facebook group. So it’s absolutely fine to do that. Does that answer your question? I think it did, but I’m not sure. So Heather, let me know if that answers the question that you put into the chat role,

[00:46:19] if not elaborate a little bit more and I’ll be happy to answer that. So one of the things I would like to know is. How many of you feel like you really know? What are the things that matter to you the most? What are the values that you hold dearest? What are the things that you feel like are in your non-negotiables?

[00:46:43] If anybody is ready, I would like to, I was willing to share what are some of the things that matter to you most type those into the chat role, share one thing, one value that is most important to you. So Corrine says her Fe. Absolutely. That’s true for a lot of people. Greg says expressing something of my soul.

[00:47:05] So that sounds like spirituality is important to you. Those are really big issues, the exact abuse. And I think that you want to hold on to those as you’re sharing things, Nancy says my truth. Absolutely. And your truth is your values. Jane says, learning the journey. Yeah, I think education learning, always being a A constant learner is an important value.

[00:47:33] Cheryl says expression and art. Mary Jane says multi, Oh, it’s going fast here. Multi-ethnicity equality for all. Yeah. Building bridges is what NELA says. I think that’s a great one, Noah. Stefan says, make it look effortlessly done, set Stefan. Is that something you want to do in your art or is it a value?

[00:47:54] Something that’s a deep core feeling. So you want to Make it feel effortless, make it feel easy. Ease would be a great core value. So Jada says honesty with self that’s. A great one. Barb says sharing a sense of hope and love. Yeah. Kay says stay positive. And the fragility of life. Absolutely. Just being seen as being true to myself.

[00:48:23] Love of nature. Experimentation. Yeah, that’s a great one. Paula Sylvia says sharing the beauty and landscapes for those who can’t get out in nature. That’s a fabulous value. So when you think about what’s important and what values are you just look back through that list of values that people just shared.

[00:48:44] All of those things are things that other people will share as well. And all of those are things that you can find communities around. So all of those are also things that can help change people’s lives. All of those are things that can help you be something that is part of making a difference. So homework for everyone.

[00:49:16] Like I said, I’m not going in the exact direction I’d planned to go on today’s webinar. In other words, I’m not going to start outlining other stuff in programs. I want to talk about what your next steps are. What can you do next? Take a little time with yourself. Fix a cup of tea, a cup of your favorite coffee and make a note.

[00:49:43] This is what you, this is what I mean. Paula, I want you to think about what are the things that you value the most, make a list of four or five different things. Then one place to start, even if it’s not where you want to create a community is to do a search for groups on Facebook around that value.

[00:50:10] Search for things that are connected to that value communities that already exist. And that’s a way to get started. Paula says I’m stuck on finding communities. Do you mean by using hashtags? Here I’ll show you Paula really quick. That’s a great question. So let me share my screen here for a minute, and I’m going to go back to Facebook.

[00:50:35] So if I want to find communities on Facebook, around things that are really important to me, one of the things that’s important to me is the physical landscape and preserving that landscape. And so I could tie it in conservation and it’s going to give me a list of things that relate to conservation.

[00:51:06] And to start with, it’s going to get me a list because I haven’t asked for specifics yet, it’s going to get me a list of posts on Facebook, people on Facebook, photos, videos. Marketplace not going there. Pages, places, groups, and events. Well, if you’re looking for community, one of the places to start is groups.

[00:51:30] So look for groups. Okay. So I’m looking for conservation, not conservatory. Conservatory is somebody who is, who. Fix his paintings that are broken. I’m looking for people interested in nature. Well, this group nature, forest and wildlife conservation looks like a grid that would have some people who share the same values.

[00:51:55] I have wildlife conservation, environmental issues looks like a group that might have some things that people who are interested in, the things that I care about. So I would go and join asked to join the group. That’s one, I’m not a part of. So I’m going to ask to join that group and

[00:52:20] it’s going to all this, all of them are going to ask questions and you want to answer those questions. So I’m going to actually do that while we are on. Okay.

[00:52:49] Okay, and agree to the group rules. And we have the same kind of questions in our grid. And. Always pay attention. See, most groups are going to send out promotions and spam. That’s why I said you can’t go in there and said, buy my art. That’s not what you’re there for. You’re there to build community.

[00:53:09] The people coming to find your art will happen naturally, but you’re looking for community right now. So that’s one way is to search on Facebook. You were asking about hashtags. That is absolutely a way to find pages, accounts on Instagram that are applicable. So if I go to Instagram and I type in, in the search and you can use hashtag and type in, in the search title, or you can just.

[00:53:52] Search by keyword. It’s going to give you accounts that have that keyword in the title. So you’re liable to get better results by having a hashtag in there.

[00:54:10] And it’s going to give you all the posts that have hashtags. That deal with landscape. And you can look to see if there are images that you connect with. That seemed to be part of what you might be interested in. So I live on the coast near the coast, and that’s something that’s important to me. I might click on the ones that have to do with that and follow some of those people.

[00:54:38] That’s another way to create or find community. You can also. Use the hashtag like I did in conservation

[00:54:53] and you’ll see all sorts of different possibilities, wildlife conservation, Marine conservation, ocean conservation, conservation education. And I’m going to go to that for a minute and see what I see.

[00:55:11] Yeah. And then again, look for images that you connect with and see if you see groups that are people that align with what you’re interested in. But that’s a way to begin to find community is absolutely through either search hashtags and Instagram. Or Pinterest, it works on Pinterest too, or through groups on Facebook and pretty says this webinar be available to be later.

[00:55:45] Yes, it will. It’s being recorded. Absolutely. And you can share it with friends later. So you’re going to get a link to the replay after the fact. And I’m fine with your sharing that with friends. Absolutely. Like I said, this is just going to be an educational webinar because of what we’re going through right now.

[00:56:06]Yeah. Make it look visually organic and juicy. Any posts that you share? Yes, absolutely. Make it look like that. So I think I’ve caught all the questions, but I want to remind everybody. Look at community. Remember your arts importance, still paint pick up that brush. Yes. There’s an audience out there for you and they need to hear from you now more than ever.

[00:56:33] So share your work in social media platforms that feel in alignment with what you do remember to have absolutely honest, authentic conversations with your audience. Remember, you have a responsibility to share and you don’t have to save the world all big picture. At one time. Every time you have a connection with another person you’re saving the world, you’re saving it one person at a time.

[00:57:03] So happy painting everyone, stay safe. Now that we’re going to be fun and we will paint the world back together. Again, talk to you again soon. Bye bye for now.

[00:57:19] Yeah.

Join my free ART+WORK+LIVING Facebook group and get involved in our community of artists of all mediums, styles, and stages. This space provides a reflective and supportive space for all artists, including you! 

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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.

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