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Honoring 2018 – Finding my “voice”

It is hard to believe that this time last year, I had just ended a 12 year corporate career, and was stepping joyfully into my new life as a full time artist.

I didn’t realize then that 2018 would be focused on figuring out what kind of art I really wanted to create, and how to successfully navigate my new found freedom.

Here are the highlights of an eye-opening, joy-filled and sometimes confusing year.

  • Explored all the mediums and subjects that I had always wanted to try, but never the had time while working full time. I started with painting flowers, and quickly moved to pears, abstracts, landscapes, portraits, and new mixed media techniques. I played with acrylics, oils, soft pastels, oil pastels, gouche, water color pencils and watersoluble crayons. In total, I took 11 workshops with some amazing artists (including Ivy Newport, Donna Downey, Devon Walz, Bob Burridge, and Lale Mille to name a few), both in person and on-line, adding something from each to my evolving artistic voice. Here are a few of the many happy experiments that captivated my attention this year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Participated in a bi-weekly mastermind group with 3 other creatives, organized by Daphne Cohn of The Creativity Habit podcast. This group helped me become clearer about my art goals, kept me accountable, and led to me reading…
  • … the “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, where I realized that until I knew what I most loved to create, and how that translated into my unique artistic voice, the time I spent marketing my art would be wasted. So I let go of the business of art (including my bi-weekly newsletter and blog), and focused on the happy experiments you see above. I was searching for what gave me the most joy when I was in the process of creating it.  The result?  Read on…
  • During a “Story Session” with Daphne Cohn, where I described my life journey for the purpose of clarifying what I wanted from my art career, I had a major aha moment.  I realized that although I loved taking workshops to expand my art skills (resulting in pear, abstract and flower paintings), the experience of creating these subjects left me cold and uninspired.  When I talked about what it felt like to create a collage, however, my heart exploded with joy and I saw deep meaning in what I was creating.  Suddenly, I knew that I had come full circle,  back to where my journey with art started 25 years ago, and I once again claimed collage as my medium of choice.  No more painting pears or flowers, unless they were part of a collage and told a meaningful story. Below are two of the collages I created after this life changing realization… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 3D collage “Guidance Surrounds Me” (below) was accepted into Artfields, a week long arts competition in Lake City, SC celebrating Southeast artists. My husband and I spent a weekend exploring the art of the 400 artists accepted into this extraordinary exhibit, where the entire town is turned into an art gallery, and participants vote using their phones for their favorite art.

 

 

  • Tweaked my daily routine over and over again, searching for the perfect balance between structure and freedom. This is still a work in progress, but now I’m questioning whether I want a schedule at all, even though maintaining a daily routine while working full time helped me to successfully integrate art into my traveling day gig, and create a ton of art in hotel rooms. Stay tuned for how I resolve this inner conflict – the subject of an upcoming blog post.
  • Renovated my entire studio (along with other parts of the house) after a BIG tree hit my roof when a tornado ripped through the back yard – a very unusual occurrence in my neck of the woods.  This “gift” gave me the opportunity to create my dream studio, complete with skylights, casement windows and gray pergo floors, mostly paid for by insurance.  Thank you Universe!  Below is a glimpse into some of the changes. To see the rest, check out my Instagram Story Highlights under “New Studio“.

 

  • Moved out of my home for 3 months while the roof was repaired, setting up a temporary art studio in my neighbors basement, and living in the rest of their house too (they were in Canada for the summer).
  • Radically changed my diet while participating in Kris Carr‘s 21 day vegan challenge for the purpose of improving my health and preventing my annual fall/winter respiratory illness.  Result? I discovered that I actually love eating vegan (now my diet 85% of the time), as does my meat and potatoes husband, and I healed my 2-year old ear ache. However, I STILL got several respiratory illnesses this past fall and winter, each lasting for weeks at a time. In 2019, I’m determined to finally heal the respiratory illnesses as well.
  • Started kickboxing with 9Round as a new form of exercise, and to my surprise, I absolutely love it.  My husband teases that I’m going to beat people up when I’m headed to the gym, but my gloves ONLY make contact with punching bags.  Hard to believe that I actually wear these gloves.

 

  • Vacationed in Newport, Rhode Island in August using a ton of travel points left over from my traveling day gig. Although my husband I and enjoyed exploring this gorgeous historic city, it was WAY too cold for this Southerner.  We only hit the beach one day out of 7, and wore sweatshirts the rest of the time.  Brrr….

 

 

 

 

  • Continued to document EVERY penny I spent for the third year, insuring that my full time artist lifestyle is sustainable for the next 40 years!
  • Enjoyed at least one in-person girlfriend date, plus phone dates with my two besties (they live 2-12 hours from me) each week.  Strengthening my female community was one of my primary goals during the first year of full time art as these relationships had often took a back burner as I traveled for my day gig.
  • Traveled to only 12 cities for my former day-gig (instead of 30+ in 2017), certifying people to use the MBTI personality tool. I switched from full time employee in 2017 to part-time contractor in 2018, and now work just enough to pay the bills, a total of 60 days – easy peasy! This very limited work schedule gives me 40 weeks a year to create art full time. The class picture below is of my group in Atlanta this past December – I fell in love with everyone of these precious souls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, in the tradition started by Kelly Rae Roberts, I want to finalize my honoring to 2018 by reflecting on a few profound questions.

What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2018?

What did you create? What promises did you keep to yourself?  What brave choices did you make? What are you proud of?

  • I want to honor that I kept my commitment to let go of my art biz until I was clear about WHAT I wanted to create and sell.
  • I want to honor that after a ton of experimentation, I came full circle to what I most want to create, collage painting.  It feels amazing to come back to where this journey started 25 years ago, and to see my favorite art form in a whole new way.
  • I am proud that I took the time to clarify and expand my artistic voice, rather than just continuing to create what I knew how to do.
  • I want to honor that I changed my diet and started kickboxing in order to heal my body.
What is there to grieve about 2018?

What was disappointing?  What was scary? What was hard?

  • I had so many dreams of what my life would be like as a full time artist, and I realized early in 2018 that I needed to let these go.  I imagined that I would be creating and selling a new collection of art every couple months, when in reality, I didn’t complete even one. It was hard to let go of my expectations in order to fully explore what I REALLY wanted to create. There were many months when I wasn’t sure if I would ever find my “voice”, as I moved from one artistic experiment to the next.
What else do you need to say about 2018 to declare it complete?

The next step is to say it out loud, “I declare 2018 complete!” How do you feel?

  • 2018 was not what I expected, and much better than I imagined.  I let go of my full time art fantasies, and stepped bravely into unknown territory as I clarified my artistic voice and message. This was the first glorious year of my dream come true, and this story is thankfully just beginning.

I declare 2018 joyfully complete.  I am ready to step into all the miracles that await to manifest in 2019!

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Honoring 2018 – Finding my “voice””

  1. Wow, Now that WAS brave! Stepping back & putting a pause on your Art Business when most people send out NON STOP emails & blogs. You did the hard internal work. Bet the payoff will be extraordinary.

    • Beth,
      What a kind and loving thing to say. I truly appreciate your support of the unusual path I have chosen. Thank you for being part of my evolving story.
      Love, Cat

  2. Catherine, I’m honoured to now be one of your collectors. As you know, you’ve been a wonderful teacher and an inspiration to me over the last year; your interview with Steph Crowder being a pivotal highlight. I hope we remain connected for many years to come. xx

    • Peter,
      I cherish your friendship and am so honored that you are now a collector. You are also an inspiration and teacher for me. As they say, birds of a feather flock together. No doubt that we will be connected for many years, as both of our passion projects grow and flourish.
      Hugs, Catherine

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