Popular Section: Insight

Confidence (Part 1 of 5) – 3 Ways to Heat Up Your “Studio Confidence”

The comments you left on my last post about confidence made me realize this is a subject begging for more.

So let’s shake it out.

Let’s take each of the five points I made, last week, and expand in as many directions as we can in a 5-part series. (Well, if you count last week that would be 6 parts ;-) but who’s counting?)

And, I’m going to need your help for this. I’ll be able to nail down a few ideas, but it’s you, out there in the studio day after day, who can tell me what I can’t even imagine.

Here’s what I’m looking for, from you

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5 Cool Ways to Wear Confidence in Public

For an artist to be able to climb what often feels like a very steep career mountain, confidence is your essential ingredient.

And by that I mean bone-real confidence; not the pumped-up kind, where we’re skating over a surface of insecurity and fear, and so we’re pumping ourselves up to keep from falling over a cliff.

I’m talking about the kind of confidence that’s based on what decades of academic research have shown: that it is not compliments—it is not people telling you how good your art is—it is your level of competence that is the bedrock  of your confidence.

Here are 5 cool ways to increase your art-career competence, which will automatically increase your confidence. (And if I’ve left any out, go right ahead and add it in the comments!)

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“Three Words” by smARTist Speaker, Barney Davey

Blogger extraordinaire, Chris Brogan, talked about how he concentrates on creating THREE WORDS that sum up all that he will focus on for the coming year. His ideas, as expected, are thoughtful and practical. You can read them on the link above.

Brogan uses this Three Words in lieu of New Year’s Resolutions. I loved the idea, never having found resolutions to be more than wishful thinking and broken promises. So, I took up the challenge of creating three words that will help…

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To Word Or Not

The next Blue Stocking Art Salon chat is coming up tomorrow and I thought I’d share another section from our first one in Nov.

It’s so rare that we take time to consider the more esoteric side of making art. But without that, how dry

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Staying Safe, Staying Hidden

It’s very late, even for me. 4am.

The clocks have swirled backwards an hour as daylight savings kicks in (saving what, I’ve always wondered…) and I think, what if I’m living an hour of my life forward (or backward), and how does that change my personal infinity timeline? Is the parallel me hanging out there…

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The New Professional: Part 2 of 3

Some visual fine artists are bewitched by the creative process. Everywhere they turn the creative muse is egging them on: a painting here, some pottery there, maybe today it’s jewelry.

Other artists feel an urge to say something; it may be all visual or have a layer of language, but the message hums throughout.

Some artists have a strong need for beauty over message, for others it’s message over beauty. And some find a creative groove where pattern and color and repetition become a visual drum beat.

And it’s all good. And it’s all fine, until…

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Dreaming Big Works!

Usually, the stream of emails pouring into my inbox, after the 7 days of the  smARTist Telesummit is over, comes from my amazing artist participants.

After four years of doing this, it never fails to humble me, and make me eternally grateful, that the work I’ve chosen is spinning out to light inspirational fires for those artists who are passionate and committed enough to join me, the speakers (leading authorities on different aspects of an artist’s career), and their fellow artists (the smARTist Telesummit Forum is a lively, artist-to-artist exchange of tips, tricks, and heartfelt, smart suggestions from a wealth of collective experience).

What never occurred to me, was that…

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The #1 Sneaky Lie That Attracts Overwhelm (and what to do about it…)

About a month ago, I held a very special “Artists Only Spa Day” with the maven of Creative-Clarity-Wins-Over-Chaos, Jennifer Hofmann of Inspired Home Office.

I think we were both a bit stunned when over 50 artists signed up. Yikes! Chaos on the loose in studio after studio…

And now that Fall has fallen into all of our laps, I thought this a perfect time to use the crisp autumn energy to open up a path of clarity through all the overwhelm – real or mythical – with a guest post from Jennifer herself.

The #1 Sneaky Lie That Attracts Overwhelm (and what to do about it…)

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I Am An Artist – Really?

Years ago I became aware of how many times, upon meeting me for the first time, someone would ask, “Are you an artist?”

Now, let me be clear. I don’t flaunt orange hair and nose piercings. I don’t even wear flamboyant, artsy clothes. (Pretty, yes. Sometimes beautiful, yes. Just not what I would call “artsy,” which conjures up, in my mind, gorgeous handmade yummies.) And I certainly don’t turn up in torn jeans with paint all over them.

Nevertheless, that question – Are you an artist? – seems to travel everywhere I do. And it always makes me…

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On The Road Again

Hawaii the First Time

Hawaii the First Time

This has been a shake-up, wake-up year for me, your normally stay-at-home-in-my-Internet-Ivory-Tower kinda gal. Oh, sure, I might wander up to Maine, or down to New York City – once in a while. But 4 trips in 4 months that all started with getting on a plane?

In the first place, I’m an introvert – which means I’m pretty darn happy toddling around in my own space, frolicking with the fairies and elves of my endless Idea Machine. It’s why I prefer being online and on the phone to, say, a keynote address where my body is in front of a bunch of other bodies – being alone keeps the external stimulation to a minimum so I can access, and cough up ideas like the smARTist Telesummit, or write books like Writing The Artist Statement.

However, something dramatically changed at…

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It’s Going To Get A Lot More Personal

Post Note – Up Front: Because this post highlights the incomparable Molly Gordon, one of the best Self-Employment coaches ever, I wanted to make something very clear right away. Molly has been a strong supporter and keynote speaker the minute the gates opened at my annual smARTist Telesummit. Her work is based on solid and smart practices for how to be self-employed that includes multi-levels of self-awareness.

Now…let’s get personal…

Way back in 2007 I made a critical mistake in judgment that has affected my business practices ever since – I listened.

Don’t get me wrong. I consider listening one of the finer skills in life. I like listening, especially to you—my merry band of artists.

You tell me what’s working, how a smARTip helping you, what you want me to cover at the next Telesummit, sometimes a thank you for featuring your art here on the blog. Listening is a smARTist way of life.

In this case, however, I listened to the wrong information. Worse yet, I constructed the information to fit an emotional agenda that has been pointing me away from who I really am – and what I most desire to share. It’s like I’ve been dancing with the reflection of my deepest truth via smARTist, my coaching, my tweeting, my embrace of this wild and precious life.

The Back Story

Right after my first 2007 smARTist Telesummit, when I was most vulnerable as a start-up art career resource, one of the participants sent me a long, thoughtful email telling me much value he’d found in the conference, but how offended, as a Christian, he was to what he called Molly Gordon’s New Age (not a positive term) approach to her presentation The 3 Inescapable Laws of Selling Art.

He wrote a credible, rationale for how many artists I would unintentionally exclude from important art career information if I continued to invite the Molly Gordons of our world (like there’s more than one?).

What Happened Next

His email was a home run as soon as I read: exclude. I knew all about being excluded (shy, only child in 12 different grade schools by the sixth grade) and that was the last thing I was ever going to do!

On the other hand, I love Molly. Love, love, love everything she does and stands for: authentic promotion. Come on! What could be more important for artists, whose ongoing mission is the very essence of authenticity, than to know that authenticity could also be true for the essence of their career path?

I was caught, as they say, between a rock and a hard place.

I didn’t want to exclude my Christian artists. I didn’t want to exclude Molly. So I did the next best thing: I excluded myself.

Bad idea

It’s always a bad idea to exclude yourself because you show up as only that reflection of self I mentioned earlier.

It’s also bad for business.

When you are not showing up as yourself, there’s no way to find your tribe or for your tribe to find you. Or, they get a glimpse of you and stick around hoping for more – but not forever.

So Here’s The More

I have made it very clear, in my opening smARTist Telesummit remarks each year, that I believe we do our best work when we are clear about, and intentionally cultivate understanding, of two domains: the internal landscape of self, and the external world we live in.

What I have not said openly is that my work, and the work I bring my artists, is based on my very personal understanding of the whole human: mind, body, psyche and soul.

From now on, I pledge

… to address each of these levels directly. No more dancing with my reflection. If I have something to say that is spiritually based, is a little New Agey and this feels offensive, or doesn’t resonate, there’s that cute little “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of all my emails. Go ahead, hit it.

Or you can come here and speak up on the blog. Respectful disagreement is always welcome because difference is the chili and cinnamon of our lives. Yum.

And for the rest of you who have seen me peek around the corner, hang on. It’s going to get a lot more personal around here.


Filling Up Your Tank of Rejection

In my last post, “Looking Under the Hood of Rejection,” I didn’t tell you the truth. I didn’t exactly lie or hedge either. It just took a few days for more truth to bubble up.

It also took a rather lengthy session with my coach (yup, I have a coach!) for me to walk around the rational, smart victim story I so cleverly painted in that last post, to the other side where I could see, with blinding clarity, a deeper truth patiently waiting for me. And, in the spirit of integral theory, this more recent truth does not cancel out my earlier truth; it enfolds it, and I get to move on.

I offer this next layer of truth to you, my merry band of artists, because I know that rejection is a key dynamic in many of your lives. And that some of you even bend your lives out of shape to avoid what seems, at first glance, to be a low blow, a terrible thing, a strike to your vulnerable artist heart.

But what if filling up your tank of rejection was the best thing that could happen to you?

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Looking Under The Hood of Rejection

thumbnail-1.aspxEvery Tuesday night for the past year and a half, I’ve been part of an Authentic Movement group. This is a creative practice that I’ve been doing on and off for the past 25 years and it, quite simply, keeps me sane.

That all ended last week when the group (5 lovely women whom I dearly like, one and all), sent me an email, which kindly and lovingly, kicked me out of the group.


Besides engaging my not-so-kind Inner Perfectionist (always standing ready to give me a sound scolding when I screw up), it simply hurt to be rejected. My stomach caved in and I could feel tears welling up on the back waters of my heart.

We’ve all been there and it’s never…

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Does Human Integrity Matter in Art?

I just read a fascinating article in the NY Times about Budd Schulberg, a writer with a stunning career of screen credits, the most famous being the classic, On The Waterfront (Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint).

During the Joseph McCarthy era of Communist witch hunting, Schulberg named names of his colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee, and to his dying day defended his behavior. Good people lost jobs, lost reputations. He literally destroyed families because of his testimony.

The question posed in this article is simple: Do we boycott good, even great art because the artist’s behavior falls below our standards of a “good” person?

I know Picasso was famous for being difficult, but did he destroy people’s lives?

I have a personal connection to this idea coming from my childhood days with…

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Business, Bread, & Bitters

I’ve been talking to a lot of artists lately in a series of strategy sessions, and I’m watching a pattern replicate itself like an out-of-control virus.

I’ve come to call it the Business Bitters–that mouth puckering contrast to the sweet taste of creative flow.

The story is simple and timeless: artist paints or sculpts or weaves or throws or composes, experiencing a kind of…

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