As a professional artist and an exciting creativity facilitator Cheryl Jones Evans will ignite your exuberant, expressive creative self. She is a passionate well-seasoned leader with more than 28 years in all facets of the visual arts industry and 18 years of creativity facilitating. Cheryl holds a BA in Arts Management (UMASS) has been listed with Florida Department of Cultural Affairs as a presenter, the Creativity Coaching Association, the Florida Arts in Education Association, and the National Independent Artists Association. She served on the City of Casselberry Parks and Recreation Advisory Board as the Arts liaison and currently serves on the Leesburg Center for the Arts board as the director of Artistic Community Building. She actively facilitates The Central Florida Artist’s Way Group, has instructed classes at a small private college, conducts weekend creativity seminars, and regularly facilitates other spiritually based creative and art marketing classes with arts organizations all over the state of Florida.

Oh....and she actively, passionately, constantly CREATES!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Old Eccentric Artsy Broad is NOW Playing

I have come up with quite literally a ba-zillion things that compromise my creativity, but there is one that consistently buzzes around like an annoying summer house fly. It really has more to do with age and being reared in the genteel south that compromises how I feel about myself and my creativity. Raised in a small rural southern town in the fifties and sixties, there is a reoccurring movie that plays in my head about who and what a proper southern lady is.  

My poor parents made a valiant effort to bring me up as a refined respectable southern lady.
However, I have and continue to miserably fail  Respectable Southern Lady 101 lessons. 
I do not wear sweet summer southern belle dresses or pointy toed high heels. I prefer raggedy shorts and flip-flops that I get paint on and create in.

I do not have a beautiful southern manicured lawn because I can't seem to grow anything but weeds, however in my opinion, anything green that grows and requires mowing, IS a lawn! I do have a  blooming magnolia tree in my front yard, that should count for a few pathetic refined southern lady points.
I do not belong to any ladies do-good civic organizations, because I do not need to be a "lady" or organized to do good.

To this day, there continues to be a nagging refined respectable southern lady movie that plays over and over in my head, a constant and lousy reminder of my failure to attain that status.

It is about time for me to let go of the fear of falling short of the typical, elegant, refined respectable southern lady expectations and at last embrace and celebrate all that I am right now.

With all this being said, I am pleased to announce,
The Refined Respectable Southern Lady movie has been canceled.
The Old Eccentric Artsy Broad show is now playing!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Synchronicity Fairy

Synchronicity, a wonderful concept! Julia Cameron author of The Artist's Way introduces us to psychologist Carl Jung’s theory of synchronicity. It postulates that there is an underlying connection to the universe that manifests itself through meaningful coincidences. Some scientists are beginning to see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory, but personally...
I think it is the Synchronicity Fairy.

Somewhere along the way, I apparently grew up, lost the magic of make believe and replaced it with psychological theories grounded in quantum physics and fractal geometry. I have decided it is time to dump the scientific theories and revive my inner child’s imagination.

My inner child still holds Santa Claus as the supreme high holy synchronistic sovereign. Make a list of toys, and poof– he manifests them! The Easter bunny works pretty much the same way, he just does not get the press that Santa does. Of course part of the problem is that a basket of colored boiled eggs and chocolate is good, but cannot hold a candle to a Barbie Dream House or the blue Schwinn with a handle bar basket.

I think it is time to introduce you to my Synchronicity Fairy. She is a first cousin of the Tooth Fairy and they share many of the same characteristics. The Synchronicity Fairy is stealth, preferring not to be exposed by the retail industry and blatant commercialization, like Santa and the Bunny. The Tooth Fairy requires I loose a tooth before I get a quarter under my pillow. The Synchronicity Fairy expects me to loose my doubts, my ego, and all of my preconceived notions before she will bestow her gifts. The Tooth Fairy only works with my eyes closed because I already know what her gifts are. The Synchronicity Fairy prefers I keep my eyes wide open and pay close attention so I do not miss a thing; her gifts are different every time.

Yes indeed, I believe I have reconnected to my inner child!

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Pablo Picasso

mOnStEr Repellant!

I recall the very first time I read “The Artist’s Way” and got to the section on the enemy within. It had a huge impact on me. It was the first “self-help” book I had read, (and believe me, I have read a zillion of them) that had some relationship to my life.

The author, Julia Cameron records a list of core negative beliefs held by creatives and the bell in my head goes off like I am a game show winner, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding. Her list read like a grocery list.
Everyone will hate me-CHECK…
I can’t spell-CHECK…
I don’t have good enough ideas-BIG CHECK
and the list went on. It all hit home.

However…nothing hit home more than question # 3 in the back of chapter. Identify the monsters (people) that are responsible for your core negative beliefs. It was the first time I was given permission to acknowledge that there were people I loved and people I trusted that had done hurtful things that negatively influenced my creative adult life.

As I name them one by one, my monsters climb out from under the bed, they crack the closet door and tip-toe out. There they all stand in row, small and powerless. I am not saying that the years of self-destruction created by the fear they produced would immediately go away, but for the first time in my life, I felt like I had found a big spray can of monster repellant and I am not afraid to use it!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Shadow Artist.......Is that what I am?

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way describes a shadow artist as a creative that chooses a career that is close to the life they would like to have themselves, but are afraid to actually pursue themselves. YEE-OUCH that stings!

I should know, when it comes to shadow artist’s it is very possible that I am the queen! As a young woman I went to school and got a degree in interior design, in practice and the real world interior design was more about budget and installations than the opportunity to be creative. I became increasingly dissatisfied with my work and life!

The chance to manage and then own my own picture framing business brought me even closer to the art my soul was silently screaming to be near. I made certain I stayed very close to the energy of creativity by limiting my business to art galleries and artists, drawing even closer to my “tribe” but still afraid to acknowledge or God forbid give into it.

Years of unrealized dreams zapped my energy, joy and happiness, until finally this interesting book came along and called me a shadow artist, and gave me the tools to move forward into the life I was meant to have.

Woo-Hoo! 20 years (and counting) and not a day passes that I am not grateful beyond measure for the creative tools, the artistic support and the phenomenal creatives that "The Artist's Way" brings into my life!

Shadow Artist.......I don't think so! Not any more.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The “Unofficial” Artist’s Date?

Julia Cameron author of “The Artist’s Way” recommends we go on one artist date a week to “fill the well” of creativity.

Here are the official Artist Date rules:
1. Once a week, go somewhere “creative” that sparks your inspiration for a couple of hours.
2. It is better to go alone. You want to get in touch with your inner creative!
3. FUN. Find something that appeals to you and do it.

The Artist’s Date is all about giving yourself permission to PLAY.

The first time I read “The Artist’s Way” the official artist date concept. It sounded great, but I was working more than full time in my own (just about to make it) business, had 2 very active and hungry teenage sons, and a house that looked like someone had stirred it with a stick. This woman wants me to “go play”. “The Artist Way” tools that included this artist date idea and 20 minute daily morning pages writing (that I had originally balked at, also) were biting into my schedule, how was I going to manage all of this?

2 consecutive uninterrupted creative fun hours…are you kidding me???
I have responsibilities!

In my artist way experiences, the 2 hour artist date has been the most difficult idea to wrap my head and my time around.

Finally, I have succeeded in warping this original idea to fit my creativity but still get the desired results. If this (or any) creative concept does not resonate with you…break the rules, consider the desired outcomes, apply your creative thinking and make it your own!

The artist date lesson is, creativity!
The result is, inspiration!

The methods that get you to this are irrelevant. If the official artist date rules work for you, terrific. But if they don’t, do not give up on the artist date concept, bend the rules and make the artist date your own. However, I do believe there is 1 non-negotiable (and perhaps the most difficult) ingredient in the artist date formula.


You must make a commitment to you and your miraculous creativity for 2 hours, once a week!

Routines and responsibilities deplete natural internal creativity. Over time, we lose our creative spark. Life easily becomes stagnant, creativity creeps into a repetitive routine and being stuck in a rut becomes comfortable.

An artist’s date is any activity that breaks this cycle and provides inspiration, resources and ideas for the future.

So, here are my unofficial Artist Date non-rules:
1. An artist’s date is anything that reconnects you with your inner child and your inner creative.
2. An artist’s date helps you see the world as a beginner again-when you notice and experience everything to the fullest.
3. An artist’s date takes you away from your routine and puts you in touch with YOU.

Follow the official artist date rules or create your own unofficial artist date, just celebrate and keep artist dates a part of your creative life!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

First things First!!! The Trouble with Art Marketing....

Creatives come to me all of the time, desperate to tell me about or to learn a sure fire Art Marketing program! Most of the time I refuse to allow any destructive art marketing to become a part of the Artist’s Way, but occasionally it slips in, whether invited or not.

The most important quick lessons I can share about art marketing are:

#1...  If you attempt to market art and/or creativity like typical products and services you are almost certainly inviting failure into your life. Art and/or creativity is not a typical product or service. There are literally hundreds of programs, books, classes on the internet and other places that will gladly take your money and market or teach you how to market your own work. Please, please be aware that their primary job is to leverage your desperation to succeed as an artist into money in their pockets. Your success is not their goal, collecting your money is. They profit whether you do or not!

#2... Read, study, and consume marketing "experiences". Find techniques that “feel good” to you, your heart and your personality. You are the creative. Your passion is creating feelings and expressions. Following someone else’s marketing plan is similar to sealing your work in a brown paper bag, then paying someone else to cover your bag with their images and words to convey who you are or what you do? That information is already right there, you have already created it. No one is better or more qualified at expressing your passion than you!

#3... The most important art marketing tool you can possess is your creative ability to define your own success! You have the creative power to identify what success is to you. If you allow critics, someone else, society, bank accounts, material things to define your creative success, chances are you will never achieve it. The very first thing you have to do in YOUR marketing plan is to identify what success and happiness is to you!

Vincent van Gogh (according to historical accounts) took his own life because he saw himself as an artistic failure because his work did not generate money. Did he value his success based exclusively on money?

Thomas Kincaid (according to financial records) achieved incredible financial success. He was creatively stagnant and took his life with alcohol and valium. Did he value his success exclusively on creative originality?

First.....You must first identify what makes your heart sing....
that is your success!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The "Fixer"

A new monster has tip toed into my life! The “fixer” arrived this week! Apparently hidden way down inside of me, he beckons me to go back into time and fix the things I screwed up. He insists that fixing my past is going to make my present better.

I am working on a project for the Artists Way 2013 Summer exhibition “Deconstruction” and struggling! What seemed to be a easy topic to portray is turning out to be a more difficult subject than I had originally anticipated!

The assignment- Take apart a piece of work (preferably one of my own) then reconstruct it into a new image. Simple, right? Wrong! Why is this giving me such a hard time?  

This work requires I step backwards look at and study previous and perhaps “not so great” creative decisions.

An internal argument has erupted between the “fixer” fanatically working to take apart an old piece to correct my mistakes, and me that just needs to take that old work and make something new in spite of the mistakes.  

Much harder than I had originally thought, and I furiously beat back the “fixer”.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some things never change…..My interview with “Creative Café” August 27. 2007

Some things never change…..My interview with “Creative Café”  August 27. 2007
Cheryl Jones Evans creates her beautiful art through layered paper pastel drawings.
                                                                                          By Angela Folds, Franklin TN

“My work is a process of drawing in layers,” she explains. “The first layer is roughly drawn using just large blocks of color on 100% cotton rag paper.” She then soaks architectural vellum, a translucent stiff paper originally used to produce blue prints, in a rice or wheat starch. The wet vellum is then laid on top of the image, which often causes the image to blur or run. As it dries, the wet cotton papers shrink, which creates unique cracks and wrinkles in the image. “After it has dried I go back in with pastel pencil and begin bringing in detail. Often, it is the texture created by the layers that determine how the detail will develop.”
In addition to her award-winning masterpieces, Cheryl is committed to helping others explore and unlock the depths of their creative passions and abilities by facilitating “Artist’s Way Workshops” in the Central Florida area.
Based on Julia Cameron’s must-read book, “The Artist’s Way”, each thirteen-week seminar explores a variety of unique artistic exercises to help individuals intensify, expand and clarify their creative talents in a supportive group environment. Cheryl also leads a monthly gathering for creative individuals to share their stories.
What better person to spotlight here at the Creative Day Café than this gifted and benevolent artist?

How do you envision creativity?
Here is the short answer, I DON’T!
In my opinion, to envision creativity immediately puts restrictions on it. Restrictions could only serve to confine all of the miraculous possibilities, which I cannot even begin to conceive at this time. Not to mention, envisioning sounds suspiciously like work!

How do you see yourself in light of this picture of creativity?
Absolutely free and open to accept creative ideas without any preconceived notions about the outcome. It is an incredibly liberating way to view creativity, guaranteed to amaze and captivate anyone that experiences it!

Can you tell us a little bit about your creative journey?
I was the classic Artist’s Way textbook “Shadow Artist”! I functioned (and created an income) from picture framing. I won national awards, was highly sought after and had confined my business to art galleries and other artists. Somewhere in my heart I knew I was supposed to do more, but I was afraid. In 1997 dear friends of mine, and practicing artists, gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron with the inscription “May your creativity and humor continue to blossom in new and different ways. PS. Put your seatbelt on!”
I devoured the book, it was like Julia Cameron knew me and all of my fears. I applied her philosophies and teachings right away. The changes in my life, my work and mostly my creative spirit blossomed beyond my wildest imagination. And continue to do so every day! The universe works in mysterious and wonderful ways, doesn't it?

What is your favorite creative outlet?
I enjoy working with chalk pastel and have developed my own technique. I call it layered paper pastel. I start with a simple image on 100% cotton paper, then architectural vellum is soaked in wheat starch and laid on top of the drawing , the chalk blurs and runs. When it dries, the papers shrink and crack, and then I draw another layer, adding details. Works have between 3 and 5 layers of paper and image. This is the work I display at outdoor art festivals. I have fun with large abstract acrylic painting but...I love facilitating creativity workshops!

What inspires you?
Obviously, the philosophy of The Artist’s Way. For me, that means living in the now, laughing, loving, playing, drawing, traveling and inspiring others to become creatively fulfilled.

Where do you see your creative journey taking you in the future?
You know, that is a great question, but I honestly have no idea. I’ve learned that creativity leads me in ways that I least expect and that I have no choice, but to follow. Right now, I love facilitating creativity workshops, creating art and traveling the Eastern US art festival circuit to sell my work. I do not see how it could get any better than this; but, I am sure it will!

Do you have any creative dreams you could share?
Yes, I dream of a time that we can all appreciate the marvelous creative power that lives in each of us. I dream of a time when we place focus on creation instead of destruction. And I dream that there will be a time when we all realize that we are all here to create a happy life.

You lead “Artist’s Way” Workshops, can you explain that and how it impacts you and other artists?
I hope it impacts my fellow creatives positively, and I do get a lot wonderful feedback, but inevitably the participants are the ones that determine how it impacts the rest of their creative lives. I have been lead down this path. The facilitating seemed to be a by-product of my art. There is a part of me that knows one of the reasons I am here on this earth, is to inspire other creatives to create. The creatives I teach give me back as much inspiration (and sometimes more) than I could ever give them. Does it get any better than this?

You’ve said that "there is no higher form of communication with God than when an artist is creating!” How do you experience God and spirituality in your art?
I have, as well as most creatives, experienced this marvelous loss of time during the process of creating. We have no idea whether we have been “at it” 5 minutes or 5 hours. There is a loss of consciousness about our surroundings. During this experience the work miraculously flows through us without thought or effort. It is like our lives are suspended in time and space to allow the Creator to speak though our work. The art is the result of prayer – a prayer that does not ask anything, a prayer that simply, is the act of giving God control.

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both." James Michener

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

IT begins....

Celebrating the beginning another Artist’s Way Group and an excellent time to take a look back at the countless classes, workshops, summer Artist’s Way groups and remember all of the wonderful creatives I have had the privilege of getting to know. Every group has its own good vibrations, developing their own personality, each one of them completely different; each one of them has touched my heart in their own way and have contributed so much to my own creativity!

 I am so grateful!

As each new class gets ready to start, IT begins. I am scared to death, my heart pounds, I panic, I sweat, my throat is dry and my voice cracks! I wonder if they will notice. Every fear you can imagine is lurking just under my skin and my first inclination is to turn and run. The terror is overwhelming, but I know on the other side of the fear, there will be incredible creative experiences with new friends.

There is a new electricity and energy filling my heart. I am so excited and am certain that these good vibrations are just the beginning of one of the most exhilarating creative years of my life!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Am Not Going Crazy...I Am Going Sane!

I have a proud history of being called crazy in countless colorful ways.

I heard my children (under their breaths) after being disciplined say “She’s psycho!” My husband, on occasions exclaims, “Have you lost your mind?” There have been shoppers in my art festival tent that blatantly declare (out loud and in front of me) “Is she nuts? She wants how much for that picture?” And, from my students and creatives in class “She is berserk thinking I can do that!”

I have been referred to as McGoofy (the short version of one fry short of a happy meal), nutcase, bonkers, loony tunes, maniac, screw loose, loopy, whacko and a boatload of other colorful examples whose graphic vocabulary might get me thrown off my own blog site since I did not check adult content in the sign up box.

Embracing and trusting creativity feels like going insane at first. Breaking free of old conventional beliefs about creativity might bring on alternating emotional bouts of self-doubt then wild self-assurance or creative blocks then outrageous originality. These wild erratic thoughts look and feel like going insane but in reality, they indicate a marvelous artistic self-awareness and are one of the first magnificent symptoms of going sane.

Initially, we all have a difficult time understanding the difference between going crazy and going sane but it does not take long to realize that going sane requires creative courage, conviction and confidence.

So, I proudly announce to everyone that thinks otherwise, “I am not going crazy I am going sane!”

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This past week I was reminded of Julia Cameron’s observation, that as creatives we tend to look the gift horse directly in the mouth, then slap it on the rump and shoo it off!

Over the years I have devised an ingenious way of protecting my Artist’s Date activities from judgmental friends and family by calling them artistic research. Since the mere word RESEARCH typically brings up thoughts of high browed academia and hours of tedious study, most of them will drop that conversation immediately. No further explanation is expected from me and I am relieved of duty, no need in explaining how skipping stones at the local pond or playing with a big gooey blob of silly putty is necessary for my art.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I made a harrowing discovery. I have managed to fend off my own ACTUAL creating with that very same clever ruse. I recognized that I was researching and not creating. I had successfully convinced myself that preparing for and reading about creativity could make me more creative than actually doing it.

This coming week, I will…
#1 actively create
#2 confine my research to only REALLY fun stuff!
#3 and pray that none of my family or friends read this blog!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crazymaking Sainthood

Ah Crazymakers!
It truly is a shame that I am not paid for the number of crazymakers I attract; I would surely be a millionaire by now! Attracting crazymakers is just one of my under appreciated and unpaid abilities. I also hold world records for self-doubt and feeling sorry for myself, but I digress.

In Recovering a Sense of Identity, I am rudely reminded that there may be a slight possibility that I am the one inviting the crazymakers into my life. Could it possibly be that I have become so desperately artistically blocked that encouraging these frenzied whirling vortexes in my life has become a viable alternative to creating?
This is just twisted!
What is it about creating that scares me so much?

There are many answers to this question and none of them easy or short. However, as I start my creative recovery and begin to inspect my own creative habits (or lack there of) I discover one astonishing fact. I have found it easier to “fix” other people’s problems than it is to “fix” my own. Afraid of being labeled selfish, narcissistic and self absorbed, I assemble the crazymakers to sooth my greedy ego and elevate my personal status to self-sacrificing sainthood by solving their problems. I appease my creative guilt by being the virtuous untrained under qualified shrink.

This is my official notice-
I am giving up my chance for post mortem selfless saintly beatification and am picking up vibrant colors in search on my marvelous dynamic creative life. Is it possible I could serve others (and myself) best by being a little selfish and tapping into my own resourceful and unlimited creative power to become a creative role model?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sorting Through and Clearing Out. Have you SEEN my studio?

“Shifts in taste and perception frequently accompany shifts in identity.” In the Artist's Way I learned that as I continue to move closer to recovering my creative identity I may have feelings of weeding out, sorting through and discarding old belongings.

I am hoping this does not apply to the things in my studio!
My studio is my refuge and a very interesting place; it is also the pack rat palace of the world! I love collecting insignificant, unrelated, and interesting things. “You never know when you might need this” is my creed. Every fascinating tid-bit is a cache of marvelous memories or precious possibilities. Stacked on every shelf, corner and horizontal space are all of my extraneous treasures! Can you imagine how terrified I was at the mere prospect that I might have feelings of weeding out, sorting through and discarding any of them?

So, here’s a thought. How about if when then these marvelous feelings of creative clarity arrive, followed by the need to weed out, sort through or discard, I head straight for my husband’s closet!

Yes- I understand this is NOT what Artist's Way intended, but I am thinking it has some promise!

You Know What They Say About People That Talk to Themselves

You know what they say about people that talk to themselves so I always did my best to ignore the pessimistic thoughts that would arrive each time I considered moving forward with my creative career or thought about creating a piece of work that was a bit risky. Eventually my self-doubt took on a voice of its own, and I could hear it!

Who are you kidding, you are not good enough!
Who do you think you are?
Why would anyone want anything you made?
You do not have time for this.
You cannot afford this.
Have you cleaned the toilet, yet?
You cannot paint with those cheap brushes.
There are so many real artists out there that are so much better than you.

I was sure I was about to be handed a one-way ticket to the rubber room!

I cannot tell you how relieved I was when the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron mentioned this negative self-talk as perfectly normal for creatives and even gave it a name, “The Creative Censor.” All I could think of was Whew! I am not nuts! Although this acknowledgment was a huge personal relief, I was very disappointed that the only recommendation to resolve this ugly situation was to ignore it. Ignore it?

I accepted the well-meaning advice but soon discovered that ignoring the creative censor can quiet the self-doubt for a while, but it will not make it go away for good. The censor’s message of inadequacy that undermined my self-confidence in the beginning was now gaining strength. Each time I ignored the censor, the volume got louder and the small nagging voice was now a rampant screaming fear, paralyzing all of my creative efforts.

One day, out of sheer creative panic and desperation, I literally shouted back
“Stop it!”
“What the hell do you want?”
“Where did you come from?”
This ridiculous moment of befuddled bravado was the first time I talked back to the censor instead of surrendering to it or ignoring it. It was the beginning of the most significant and surprising dialog of self-discovery and healing.
Me: What do you (fear) want?
Censor: I want to protect you from other people not liking you or your work, I want to keep you safe, I want you to be secure.
Me: Where did you (fear) come from? 
Censor: From childhood teasing, Unsupported creative dreams, Occasional creative failures (we all have them).

The censor, with its fear messages was not the self-destructive monster I need to avoid at all costs. The censor is delivering lessons I need to learn. I cannot ignore them anymore, I have to listen and I have to engage in the dialog.
“Where is this fear coming from?”
“What is this fear trying to protect me from?”
“Is the fear real?”

We all have the choice ignoring the lesson of fear or thanking the censor for delivering the fear and the lessons that lead to creative strength and self-confidence. However, to fully access these lessons we need to engage in the dialog…
but you know what they say about people that talk to themselves.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Art Marketing AH-HA

I have just received an inordinate amount of press coverage from a recent exhibition, more than I have ever gotten, for which I am extremely, extremely grateful! But I have to tell you I can only attribute this to one thing, and it has been a heee-uge AH-HA moment.

First thing, you must know that I have not met, nor was I interviewed or contacted via phone or email by either one of the writers of the 2 recent stories. Neither one of them were at the opening! What I can tell you, is that I recognize “word for word” information that came from my post card. Yep, that was it! A generic 4 x 6 post card with my name and images on the front and 2 short paragraphs on the back. One paragraph was a very brief bio, the other was a quick explanation of the work and of course web site and contact info.

It seems that reporters really like short, to the point info they can pick up and walk away with!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Neil Gaiman-Life in the Arts

Neil Gaiman - Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

I could talk for weeks until I am blue in the face...
but I could not explain a life in the arts any better than this!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pay No Attention to the Woman Behind the Curtain

The other night among creative friends, we played an interesting card game. It was more than a game and I have heard people talk about these kinds of cards, but never really felt compelled to participate in that kind of “tarot” like fortune telling. As we went around the circle drawing cards and then reading and discussing the interpretation, I was absolutely astounded in how accurate the cards and the explanations seemed to be.

It was my turn, and I drew a right side up wolf. The interpretation was a teacher, a teacher? I thought that was interesting, but not so sure it was correct. The truth is I do something that looks like teaching, but I never saw it as that. For the most part I use Julia Cameron’s description of what I do, “facilitator”. Facilitator made so much more sense. I cannot teach anyone how to be creative, they already know . I gently and safely facilitate their journey to the path of their own creativity and happiness. I only help them see what is already there. For the most part I feel like once a year we all go on a journey to the Wizard of OZ, where at the end Dorothy finds out all she had to do was click her heels and speak out loud what she wanted. The power was within her all along.
Throughout the summer, new creatives will often compliment and thank me for what I do. Although I truly appreciate the accolades, my first reaction is like the exposed wizard in the movie hiding behind the curtain. We are both desperately manipulating levers, and buttons frantically searching for the magic combination that will produce a big “ta-da” moment in life, while sternly announcing, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

The wolf card says I am a teacher…
Julia Cameron calls it a facilitator;
I just call it a creative.
I have the same fears and am just as scared as everyone else in class. The only difference is I expose my fear and failures so others will see the grief and the joy of being an artist. When I fail, when I succeed, it will give others the courage to do the same,
I just do it out loud.


Pay no attention to the woman-teacher-facilitaror behind the curtain!
But watch the creative!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Day of POP UP PIANO painting!

Our first day of piano painting was very exciting!  By a stroke of luck and a heeee-uge gift from the universe, Larry (forever known to me as Larry the piano guy!)  knew where all of the hooks an hooeys were to take this baby grand piano totally apart.  That sure made the priming go really fast!  And...thank goodness for primer, the existing stain was fairly fresh and our primer turned pink!  So what we have now is a PINK baby grand piano!  Primed and ready for the first coat of white and out salute to Mondrian!  The perfect art that will portray how we are all united but wonderfully, creatively different!  and the QR codes will be the icing on the top!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

There Will Be NO Cooking!

When I turn on the TV there is at least one cooking show on every minute of every day on some channel and it is portrayed as a fun and fulfilling experience that can satisfy your need to be creative and keep the family well fed and healthy.

My response to this latest entertainment trend is BULL $#!+! Where is the cooking program for the “I Hate to Cook” people? Where is the station that promotes the 3 ingredients or less recipes?

This year I am not celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional way! I will indeed be giving thanks, but not by using every pot & pan in my tiny kitchen, cooking bad food all day, washing, soaking and scraping all night, then stuffing a refrigerator full of leftovers that will probably spoil before they are eaten and eventually be thrown out. And of course the worst part, the incredible guilt I feel because by the end of Thanksgiving Day I have truly hated the entire experience, and am anything but thankful.

This year I will be celebrating Thanksgiving with what ever family (or friends) are interested in spending time together, eating convenience foods and being grateful for all the blessings of this life.

There may be creative conversation, or funny stories, or painting, or parade and football watching.
But....there will be no cooking!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Last night’s Walking in This World group began leaning into an art marketing discussion. Typically I discourage any discussion about the scary “M” word and gently guide these discussions back into the spirituality of art and creativity, but this group seems to be especially interested in how marketing is impacting their ability to be creative, so we tip toed into the subject. This morning as I reflect on the marvelous insights they all shared I was reminded of what I feel is the first tenet of creating a living with art, defining “enough.”

Whether it is money or time, if you do not have a grasp on what is enough, how will you know when you have enough? Without that very first most important step, we can get caught up in what I perceive is one of western society’s biggest problems of struggling to have more (and more and more)! A clear definition of enough is a wonderful tool that can prevent the vicious circle of scarcity and “I am not good enough” from seeping into your thoughts.

Enough will be different for everyone, there is no single clear cut definition, it is a concept that each of us will need to cultivate as we begin considering our art marketing plan. Not too long ago, I was educated on just how different the enough definition can be for each of us. At an Atlanta art show, an hour before the show was due to open, I was twitting around my tent futzing with details, when our obviously missing tent neighbors roared up to their space in a van that looked like it may have been held together with spit and band aids. They literally chucked their tent and art on to the grass and madly began assembling. As they worked on the set up I could overhear their discussion about the desperate financial situation they were in. They had driven from Philadelphia and had broken down on the way to the show, they had spent all of their gas and hotel money on the mechanical van repairs, and without good sales this weekend they would not be able to get home or pay this months rent on their apartment. The couple was still setting up as the show officially opened, but the art show Gods were with them, and the judges did not make their rounds to our row until 2 hours later. I was amazed at how dedicated they were to their art and how much they risked just to be at this show. As we chatted with them during the day it was clear that they were very aware of their tenuous financial situation, and with a little rough math they came up with a number that represented exactly how much they needed make (to get home, and pay the rent) for this show to be successful. At the end of the day our tent neighbors were awarded a third place ribbon that carried with it a cash prize that was the exact amount they needed to get home and pay the rent. It was not first place or a huge amount of money, but for this terrific pair of artists it was enough to celebrate a very successful art show!

They specifically defined a realistic amount of enough and the Universe responded.
This was my first lesson in how important it is to define enough.

Without a clear definition of enough, how will I know if I am successful?

Without my own clear definition of enough, will I define my own creative success through other people’s eyes?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


why I automatically “filter” out the marvelous blessings I experience everyday

I find it interesting, but mostly frustrating…that regardless of what or how much I have, I find myself focusing on the negativity of not enough and wanting more.

Why do I automatically “filter” out the marvelous blessings I experience everyday?

I do not think about the clothes I have on unless something pinches or I am not comfortable in them. Gotcha! I bet you weren’t even aware of what you were wearing until I just mentioned it? When the clothes fit physically and are suitable for what I am doing, I become totally oblivious and subconsciously unaware of what I have on. That is until there is some irritation or I see another really cute outfit I think is better. Then without my conscious permission my brain automatically begins to focus on the negativity, discomfort, and/or lack. The same seems to happen with my art, health, family, home, car, yard, and on and on and on.

I involuntarily screen out all of the absolutely wonderful things that are around me, in me, or on me and actively seek out the negatives I need to change, fix, optimize or rearrange. The “why” I continually did this was driving me nuts! Well hang on, here comes a huge AH-HA moment! There may be an anatomical answer for some of this "gratitude-less-ness".
WHEW! It’s not all my fault!

At the base of the brain, we all have a little screening device called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). I am not a scientist or doctor, so bare with me. The RAS is a group of cells at the base of our brains that allow us to tune out background noise when we are reading, to not really see billboards while we are driving, and not hear normal neighborhood noise as we fall asleep. In other words, without our RAS, we would be overwhelmed with input, and unable to function beyond simply processing our own environment.

I had no idea what the Reticular Activating System (RAS) was much less that I could have any concious influence in controling it. This tid-bit of critical information was not part of any science 101 class, or found in any of the bazillion self help books I have invested in, or any doctor’s office I have ever been to. I, like most of us equate brain function with stomach function. In other words I can control what goes in, but once it was there, the innate bodily functions take over and I have no conscious control of how the food or information is processed. So it came as quite a surprise, when I found out that simply being aware of the things this curious little group of RAS brain cells is normally blocking from my awareness could be a big part of why it takes such a conscious effort to be grateful. Just as mothers hear the slightest “peep” from their babies over many other louder sounds, can I choose to hear more gratitude and inspiration by simply over riding my RAS and allowing the good “noise” to rise to my conscious level?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Good Vibrations

Celebrating the beginning of the lucky 13th year of creative facilitating is an excellent time to take a look back at the countless classes, workshops, summer Artist’s Way groups and remember all of the wonderful creatives I have had the privilege of getting to know. Every group has its own good vibrations, developing their own personality, each one of them completely different; each one of them has touched my heart in their own way and have contributed so much to my own creativity! I am so grateful!

As each new class gets ready to start, it begins. Every time I stand in front of a new class I am scared to death, my heart pounds and I ask myself why I am doing this! I panic, I sweat, my throat is dry and my voice cracks! I wonder if they notice. I want desperately to know what you are all thinking, do you like me, do you think I am nuts, will you trust me, are you laughing at me? Every fear you can imagine is lurking just under my skin and my first inclination is to turn and run. The terror is overwhelming!

The 2011 Artist’s Way Group will be extremely different, adding a completely new level of anxiety. So many things have changed and so have I. No classroom in the traditional sense, a new venture into the cyber world.

There is a new incredible electricity and energy filling my heart. I am so excited and am certain that these good vibrations are just the beginning of one of the most exhilarating creative summers of my life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I (and other artist friends of mine) declared 2011 the year of restoration! We made it through the emotional and economic storms of the last couple of years and are ready to reclaim our talents, self-esteem and confidence. It is indeed time to be restored!

However, I must confess that I am getting a bit greedy! I have decided that I do not want to simply be restored; I want to be fantastic! I have been through hell and back, I deserve so much more than to simply be restored. I have survived, grown and learned. I am worthy of so much more than mere restoration!

At the risk of sounding audacious, I am announcing to the universe, plain restoration is just not enough for me anymore.
I am expecting a new beginning!
I am expecting a RENAISSANCE!