Tag Archives: Big Magic


I got accepted into a international art show at a museum, two art quilts into a regional art show and I won “best of show” at a National Small Works display at a local gallery.

Two Definitions of  “success ”
1. the accomplishment of an aim or purpose (internal reward)
As an artist I am driven by internal rewards. Much of my studio time is spent creating for long hours on a project that may never be shared with  an audience.  Currently I am working on a portfolio that includes vintage family portraits . This series allows me expand my skills and to explore some very complicated relationships.  Making these quilts is an opportunity for intellectual growth and personal healing. Creating this series is it’s own reward no matter if anything I make gets shown or sold.

Small Works

Winner of a National Show at my my local gallery

2.the attainment of popularity or profit (external reward)
As member of several arts organizations and my local gallery I have many opportunities to get the external rewards. When I am included in local (Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery), regional ( Above and Beyond at the Lakewood Cultural Center) and national displays of art quilts (Diaspora at the National Textile Museum) I gain a larger audience. In the future, this may translate into income from sales, lectures or teaching.

At my local gallery there numerous opportunities to sell.  I am in the process of creating small gift items that quickly produced and can be sold at reasonable prices. My blog, web gallery, facebook and other forms of social media; are my virtual gallery. My work and my voice can be shared to a worldwide 21st century marketplace.

If the attributes of success are popularity (getting into shows), profit (selling or winning cash awards and accomplishing personal goals; than I am a “success” …………this week.

What about the day, months and years I spend
not being a “success”?

I wrote about Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic” in a recent post. The book describes the author’s perspective on living as a fully committed creative person. In the book Elizabeth recalls making a contract with herself as a teenager to be writer, to fully commit herself to the writing and not to “success”.   She argues that as artists we should be fully open to magic of inspiration. Inspiration is the idea that floats into an artist’s head cannot be denied. According to Gilbert, a committed artist fearlessly pursues ideas.


An artist life is a  cycle: Create, Evaluate Move On.
It’s the moving on that often trips me up.

It is much easier to use external rewards to set your artistic direction. If you get into a show or sell a particular image over and over again the world is letting you know you (your work) is liked. Who doesn’t like to be popular? Be aware: There is danger in this logic.

No matter how well liked something is, a true test of value is being authentic. Is your creation you? You at this moment in time? You sending out a message to the world or speaking to yourself? Be true to yourself and trust your vision.

“I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious. Authenticity has a that never fails.” quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s’ “Big Magic”

until next time……..




Letting Curiosity Guide You



This quote by “Eat Pray Love”author Elizabeth Gilbert  caught my eye on Twitter’s#MotivationMonday.

I have read two of Gilbert’s books (Eat Pray Love and The Last American Man) and I have seen her speak. She has a very engaging personality with a unique perspective on how to live a creative life. In her latest book “Big Magic” about living creatively without fear, she some asks some very big questions about letting curiosity not fear be your life’s compass.

 “The central question upon which all creative living hinges:
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

Babyboom I have never felt fully comfortable with the well planned upwardly mobile life. When I first left college I worked in a corporate environment. It was the days of shoulder pads and business attire like Diane Keaton’s character in  “Baby Boom”. I moved up rapidly into a management position  and then I imploded. I quickly got a second corporate job. Within a month of getting that job my mother had a car accident, she died and then that company let me go because I had been gone for 3 weeks. This was a clear sign for me to change directions.

I returned home after my mother’s funeral determined to live a life that was not focused on money and mobility. At the time my daughter was turning one. We had beautiful little home in Florida and I had some inheritance and a year of income from unemployment insurance. I decided to return to school and get a teaching certificate in art education.

Well intentioned lectures from the education professors, guidance counselors and friends  urged me to major (or at least minor) in elementary education because I would never get a “steady job” in art. The income would be far less than I was used to and the rewards were limited.
Follow Your Passion

Many years latter I retired from that unsteady job very glad that I had not opted to stick out a life didn’t inspire me.

After learning I was selling my house a few short weeks after I stopped teaching; many friends suggested I was making a mistake moving away from my social and artistic connections. Even I questioned the sanity of my radical changes .  After more than a year I am sure my decision was good one. I moved more than a  physical location.  Mentally I live more fully in a life focused on creativity.

The upside of radical change is that you don’t know all the implications. Your dream has to be reimagined many times over until the transition is complete.  Because exploration and experimentation are required processes of adjustment; one becomes used to the idea of living without stability for a period of time. Thankfully I have become far less attached to routine. Change Quote

You have to let go of the old to make room for the new. I put less energy into projects that involve other people and more energy into self reflection. Time spent in organized blocks was keeping me from spending time working in depth so I drastically reduced scheduled commitments. Every pattern, assumption and every “requirement” is up for grabs.

Until next time……..