Finding a SolutionApr 08, 2023
My studio is overflowing with unfinished projects, the beginnings of new projects and dozens of paintings calling out for attention. Spring is finally adding lovely colour and texture to my yard and the surrounding forests and fields. The garden is prepped and ready for new seeds to begin my collection of dye plants. Forty-three glass jars are filled with lake pigments waiting to be ground and mulled into watercolour paint. The birds call to me through the window like sirens trying to lure me aware from my laptop as I struggle over another problem with a software update.
A flashback returns me to a day long ago when the car in front of me struck a young boy on a motorcycle. I experienced a time warp as his body slowly rose in the air and tumbled over the hood of the car. That afternoon I gave my two week notice and left the only corporate job I've ever had. I was making great money making someone else's dream come true at the expense of my own. I hadn't painted in months. I was so stressed I had to listen to whale sounds at night to get to sleep. What if my day ended as the young boy's day ended ... and I was living someone else's life rather than my own?
I'm at a very different crossroads now, but it feels quite similar in that my time is not being spent in the way I want to spend it. I have more to learn, to explore, to express and I don't want to spend any more time learning the ins and outs of how to create a successful business online. It is sapping me dry! And ... as soon as I finally figure things out, it changes.
I fell into an odd sort of dream state last night. When I awoke at 2 am, I felt as if I'd been at an all-night meeting with myself, being grilled by my inner artist and encouraged by the child I once was, the child who danced through the woods full of optimism and created woodland sculptures from fallen limbs and rocks. I woke up with an absurd idea, an idea that I think will work.
Two days ago I toyed with the idea of taking down my website and canceling the multitude of apps I have to help me run my art business. I felt a rush of relief at the thought that I could wake up in the morning and stumble into my studio, paint all day and not even open the door of my office. Or, I could pack a lunch, grab my paint gear and head out the backdoor for an all-day paint/hike. And ... I could do that every day if I wanted to. What a delicious thought!
However, the truth is that I love teaching. I love watching other artists' lightbulbs go off and their artwork improve. I like cheering them on and encouraging them to experiment and be bold. And I love the occasional letter or email I receive from someone who wants to let me know that they see the world quite differently after working with me and they are loving what they see. So, how do I get the best of both worlds and not have to get a part-time job at McDonalds?
At 2:30 am I got out of bed and started on the plan that had been created during the all night meeting with myself. I created The Artist's Journey, a monthly subscription for access to ALL of my courses, including the courses that have been on Skillshare. There are currently about two dozen courses uploaded for The Artist's Journey. When I'm finished uploading all of the current online courses (many from my Skillshare site) there will be over fifty. The beginning of my woes was last autumn when Skillshare changed the way they pay the teachers and closed a great number of our online classes. I'm not the only one who is more than displeased with the changes they made.
A few of my website courses will also have a Stand-Alone online workshop that will be offered once a year or once every two years. These courses will be extended versions of the original courses. They will have extra projects and more live zoom group sessions as well as one-to-one live zoom sessions. they will each be limited to a class size of ten artists.
This plan, I believe, is sustainable. I can continue to share what I've learned over the years at a ridiculously reasonable cost to artists who want to take online courses without being locked into a specific time frame. I'll still be able to give more personal attention during the month that I offer a stand-alone course. Best of all, I can keep my office time limited to one day a week and be free once again to wander, to garden and to paint. My heart already feels lighter.
I would love to know your thoughts about this new plan. I do hope it works for you because I'm doing it anyway. It works for me. I don't want to find myself flying through the air over the hood of a stranger's car praying that I don't die on a day when I'm not living my own life.
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