Saturday, May 16, 2015

Back To School... Sort of, Part 1

One of my best friends has been a lifelong learner, taking tons of classes through the years on a variety of subjects ever since we met in college. If you put them all together she could probably have degrees in at least six subjects, but that hasn’t been her priority. I love that about her and respect it tremendously. Meanwhile, I always felt wildly different about education. I was all about getting in and out of college in four years flat – get my degree and I’m outta there. (Purely coincidentally, the class of 2015 graduated today from my alma mater, UNH – congrats fellow Wildcats!) 
But ever since I’ve really focused in on my art making career, I’ve been open to the idea of re-educating myself on my own terms (which basically translates to free and when I feel like it). Fortunately, there’s no lack of free resources online – from podcasts to Ted Talks and more – wonderful insights from the minds and experiences of successful artists, business owners and self help enthusiasts. Topics explored include, but are not limited to…
How to manifest your greatest dreams. 
How to figure out what those dreams are in the first place.
How so-and-so became a successful artist.
How to best market your art.
Since I came to this conclusion that I need to embrace education as part of my journey towards the career of my hopes and dreams, I’ve been almost manic in my consumption. I thought since my audience tends to be other artists, I’d share a little of what I’m learning here on my blog. I have to say though, if you aren’t an artist by trade, this information tends to apply across the board in all matters of life, so read on – I think you’ll dig this stuff too.
Pause for an art break…
 My latest custom painting commission 
Reflections 2, Acrylic on 40" x 40" canvas
The first thing I’d like to talk about is this idea of GOING OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
It’s something I’m getting from almost any and all of these interviews and discussions, “You have to go outside your comfort zone.”
Full disclosure: Any time I’ve ever heard that in the past, my gut reaction has always been as follows…
I don't want to. I’m an adult, and therefore I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.
The end.
What, am I supposed to jump out of a plane to gain a deeper appreciation for life? Please. No way, not in a million years. I like comfort. I like knowing what makes me comfortable and I like remaining comfortable. (I’m also a Taurus, that’s sort of our "thing".) Besides, life throws enough curve balls all on its own to actually want to seek out more things/situations/experiences to unsettle me. Why would I do that? It just never made any sense to me.
But I think I was missing one key point to all of this.
FIRST you must figure out what you really, really want and THEN you must be willing to go out of your comfort zone to attain whatever that is. It isn’t about nonsensical risk taking - duh! (Why did I think it was?) No one will be waiting for me with a million dollars on land if I jump out of a plane (PS even then I wouldn’t do it). It’s about being very aware of what it is that you want and then open minded about the path of achieving and actualizing your dreams and goals, not letting any fears stand in your way or limit how far you can go.
So, in the business of making and selling art, maybe this means “putting yourself out there” on social media platforms or making connections with local galleries, or maybe it's getting started on a big (albeit intimidating) concept/project/series. In general life terms, it can mean opening yourself up to failure if you try something new, facing some of your biggest fears and doubts on the road to love, or challenging your ability to communicate in order to strengthen an existing relationship.
It just never clicked until recently, but now I get it, and in a way, it’s almost scarier than the concept of jumping out of a plane because these particular challenges are now unavoidable and necessary if I want to achieve my goals. But what better encouragement is there to do them than a. to prove to yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to, even stuff that scares you and b. to get yourself closer to living the life you’ve always wanted to live! In one of the many Ted Talks I listened to the other day, someone said this line that I had to write down so I’d remember it…
Success is the freedom to do whatever you want to do.
That may sound like pure hopeful rubbish, but let me tell you, after listening to one successful person after another, it is absolutely true and possible.
The trick, if there is one, is simple. You have to be willing to work extremely hard and take risks boldly and with conviction, and that includes going out of your comfort zone. And that’s a challenge my comfort loving self is willing to take... firmly on land, thank you very much.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite educators thus far…
Lisa Congdon - She's everywhere right now... for good reason. Check her out. 
Alyson Stanfield aka The Art Biz Coach - I've only barely scratched the surface of this excellent artist resource, including tons of free podcasts
Kesha Bruce - I've been following Kesha for years now, she's fantastic!
Elle Luna - I just love her attitude and spirit! This essay in particular is a must read, "The Crossroads of Should and Must".

I know I'm missing some new favs here, follow me on facebook and twitter where I am most likely to share my latest great finds! 

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