I can hardly even say the word--how can I be it? (My lesson in being a badass.)

A year ago, my husband and I did a road trip of Washington state. That week’s trip changed my life in ways that I’m still coming to understand. In addition to fueling inspiration for many of my abstract and landscape paintings in the past year, the trip took me to a little independent bookstore in Winthrop, Washington, where two brightly colored books stood out on the shelf to me. I tend to be drawn to a good book cover like a magpie to something shiny, so I picked them up.

Shiny Books!

Thus began my journey with Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money. If you haven’t read her books, Jen is all about getting out of your comfort zone and going for whatever it is you really love in life.

I’ve read similar books—even done a lot of workshops with that theme—but there was something about Jen’s wit and irreverence that really spoke to this 50-year old. I had been doing a lot of the same things my whole life—dreaming of being an artist full-time and yet not doing that. Jen’s books were a key part of what inspired me to take The Leap into my life as a full-time artist that begins in just a few weeks.

My Boubella BADASS (yes, that's the word!) Tee Shirt

As an ode to Jen and the impact of her work on my life, I bought my BADASS tee from Boubella, a start up clothing and lifestyle company co-led by a dear friend, Amanda Bouza. For me, it was one thing to read a book that said badass on the cover—it was another thing entirely to wear a tee that said BADASS outside of the house.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

See, I don’t think of myself as a badass. The word makes me feel really uncomfortable (it's even hard for me to say!). It says 'bad' and even has a cuss in it. And I don’t, for example, ride motorcycles, or go skydiving, or surf. I’m just a middle-class, middle-aged lady who wants to paint things that bring people joy, coach artists to be successful in their art business, and make sure everyone has a chance at a decent life.

But one of the things I have realized in all this is that to do those things, to make those things happen, I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to grow my confidence and practice getting uncomfortable to make those things happen.

Being a Badass at the Market (well, sort of)

So I gave myself a challenge to wear my new Boubella BADASS tee to the market. It was so interesting to see what happened. I’m used to being sort of invisible at the grocery store, but when I wore the Boubella BADASS tee—people moved out of my way, looked at me and nodded, or stopped before stepping in front of me. It was kind of magical.

And while I don’t see myself riding motorcycles or skydiving any time soon—maybe surfing?—I can, in the meantime, keep wearing my Boubella BADASS tee and keep practicing getting a little out of my comfort zone so I can make some good happen in the world.

And as always, remember to look for joy. I promise it is there.

 

That’s me. Trying to be casual, taking a selfie in the veggie aisle with my BADASS tee.

That’s me. Trying to be casual, taking a selfie in the veggie aisle with my BADASS tee.

I am taking The Leap to be a full time artist!

I am taking The Leap to be a full time artist!
That’s right, as of Thursday, September 19, I will be a full time artist!

I’m taking The Leap.
A leap of faith. A leap of daring. A crazy leap. A brave leap. A courageous leap. A leap for joy.

How did this come about?
About 20+ years ago, I was doing some research and reflection to figure out my ideal job. The answer that kept coming back was: Artist.
Spoiler alert: There’s no clear career path for a fine artist.

So, I made a pledge to become a full time artist in 20 years and have been working on that—building my skills and finding my voice and style—while pursuing a career in communications. I became a certified facilitator, training designer, and learned how to coach performance management, write, edit video, and more. I was juried into scores of shows, painted hundreds of paintings, had multiple solo and group art shows, earned a certificate in graphic design and my MFA in Visual Arts. I also divorced, happily remarried, and moved to the West Coast.

Bringing Joy
And here in Seattle is where it’s all come together. One evening, I asked my friends on Facebook—What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? And that’s when all the years of work and training came together.
I was meant to create art that brings joy to people’s lives.

With this Mission, I Thee Paint
Over the past two years, this mission has become profound and urgent. We are in dark and chaotic times. It’s become clear to me that the forces of darkness and chaos want us isolated and in despair.
The only antidote is joy, because with joy comes resilience and connection.
In the past year, my Joy mission has expanded to include supporting artists in reaching their business goals through one on one coaching, webinars, Artist’s Way workshops, and mastermind group facilitation—bringing together my training, certifications, and passion for helping others.
I did all of this—growing my art and artist coaching business—while I was working full-time.

Deciding to Leap
Recently, it became clear to me that it was time to make The Leap and follow my passion.
Art changes lives and makes the world better. It brings meaning to our lives. It connects us as people. I believe deeply in the power of art to make things better and that’s why I am fully committing my life’s work to art and coaching artists.

Thank you
I want to close with a profound thank you to you my followers, my subscribers, and my collectors. YOU have helped make this dream come true through your support and investment in my work.

I am here to bring you joy and look forward to doing that for decades to come.

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The Artist's Way and "Our Fragile Earth"

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is one of the most powerful books ever written. Essentially, it’s a workbook of exercises you can do to recover your creative spirit and follows a 12 week model, which doesn’t sound overly powerful UNTIL you start going through the exercises each week.

When I was a kid, I loved using workbooks at school, so when I heard about Cameron’s workbook about 20+ years ago, I was immediately drawn in.

One of her best tools is Morning Pages. These are three pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing every morning. It’s not so much writing as taking dictation for whatever the brain wants to share in those early morning hours. Cameron encourages asking the pages what you like/don’t like, what you want more of/less of and to listen to what the pages have to say back. It’s a fascinating process.

This painting, “Our Fragile Earth,” was a breakthrough in process for me. Each morning, I used my morning pages to listen for instructions. I listened and I wrote. I asked what do I do next and wrote out what I heard back. Later, in the studio, I would paint as the pages had instructed. When i got stuck, the next morning I would ask the pages what to do next. The pages always had an answer.

The pages always have an answer.

You can see the 48”x48” painting “Our Fragile Earth” at the Women Painters of Washington Gallery in the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle (it’s up through late September).

If are in Seattle this fall and you’d like to do The Artist’s Way, check out my upcoming workshop at Studio Life. First workshop is Monday, August 19, 2019—register by August 12 for a special early registration price of $395. The workshop includes snacks, email support, a bonus orientation week, and a special dinner that I host for participants.

PS — Here is what one participant said about the spring Artist’s Way Workshop:

“I rediscovered my passions and interests in a supportive environment in The Artist’s Way workshop at StudioLife. As I worked through the course with Sarah and a small group this spring, things holding me back fell away. Immovable boulders became pebbles, and faded dreams bubbled up into active projects. The commitment to each week’s exercises - in and out of class - created a rewarding, positive feedback loop. The daily and weekly practices in The Artist’s Way are now fully incorporated in my life and I’m not looking back.”

Register today on the Studio Life website.

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Failure, Resilience, and the Women Painters of Washington

I’ve got some exciting news! I’ve been juried into the Women Painters of Washington!! This prestigious group has a rigorous selection process and I really pushed my work as a painter to get in. I am in the “Blue” show hanging now at the Women Painters of Washington Gallery in the Columbia Tower in downtown Seattle (it’s up through late September 2019). Please stop by the show (and take a selfie!)

There’s a little back story here too…I had submitted to join this group last year and got through the first round but not the second. I asked for feedback and they said I needed to work on my design and composition—a punch in the gut after 20 years of painting and an MFA.

I took a breath and regrouped and then started wishing for/manifesting some sort of art program or workshop or SOMETHING that would refresh me on the elements of composition and mixing colors in acrylics and improving my ability to critique my own work—without having to do a bunch of rando weekend art retreats. I wanted to go deeper in MY style, not someone else’s.

Fortunately for me artist Amira D. Rahim was listening to that wish I put out in the universe and created Better Than Art School. It was a big and humbling leap to take but dammit if that wasn’t one of the best decisions of my art career. If you’re interested in learning more about Amira’s breakthrough 8-week online program, check out the Better Than Art School webinar. Amira’s teaching helped me get the refresh I needed and to find my way deep into my own painting point of view.

It’s been an upward and magical climb since the disappointment of that rejection. It’s worth it to face the hard stuff and keep persevering. Joy hard won can sometimes be the best joy. Have you ever faced rejection and turned it around? I’d love to hear about it—tell me about it in the comments below.

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Fear or Excitement: Who Decides?

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"I'm so nervous about doing this."

I hear that a lot as an Artist Coach. In fact, I hear about it so much I wanted to write to you about it because we all have those moments in life when we feel scared of what's ahead or where we are at.

Excitement or Fear? A Tool

Over the years, I've picked up a tool that's really helped me when I'm nervous or fearful about doing something and I wanted to share it with you.

So here's the secret--fear and excitement feel roughly the same physically. Our breathing is more rapid, our heart might pound a little, our nerves feel nervy--I even have a weird metallic taste that comes up whether I'm really nervous or really excited.

What we do with that physical response can affect our perceived reality. When I feel those sensations, I’ve started doing a quick analysis of the situation. If it’s not life or death and if I’m not in actual danger, I’ve been saying to myself, I'm so excited about this!” Suddenly, instead of being subject of my fear, I am agent of my own adventure!

Agent of My Own Adventure

As agent of my own adventure, I’m making a choice to do this thing (whatever it is)—from open sea kayaking, to a sprint triathlon, to leading an artist’s workshop, to traveling by myself to visit my Mum and a dear art friend to see Hilma af Klint's breakthrough art show in New York City (where the photo up top was taken).

The tool--labeling the fear as excitement--gets me over the hump and out the door to my adventure. And oh the rewards of doing that--being able to stand in front of the world's first abstract artist, Hilma af Klint. Seeing porpoises swim 30 feet away as my nephew and I kayaked together. Being a part of my workshop participants' journey to increased self-expression. Even tiger paddling my way through the swim leg to PR in my bike leg and run respectably and not finish last in my first sprint triathlon. Taking that first step to see what I can do has meant having experiences that make my life richer, more fun, and more filled with joy.

So try it out. Next time you are feeling nervous about doing something and thinking about maybe not doing it, try saying to yourself "I'm so excited!" and take that next step.

Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear, but feeling the fear and doing it anyway. This tool is one you can use to help you take that first step.

Have a great day. And remember to look for joy. I promise it is there.

Joyfully,
Sarah
Sarah C.B. Guthrie, MFA
https://www.artistgu3.com/

Oh and here's a little Joy for you--"My heart flutters" 12"x12" Acrylic on paper. Click here for more information about the piece.

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Want more joy, creativity, and fun in your life? I can help!

Well it’s been ages since I’ve but rest assured, I’m still working away in the studio, still making Joy. I’ve added new paintings to my website so you can see some of my latest works over there. In addition to painting, I’ve got some news on what I’m doing to create more Joy in the world through my coaching and creative practice--and how I can help you add more creativity and fun to your life!

Shows
Two shows are coming up—both in Seattle and it would mean so much to see you at both or either of them! These shows are centered around Joy--the luscious, vibrant colors you've come to expect, strengthened after a year of painting every day in 2018.
Saturday, April 13 at Locust Cider in Ballard, Seattle (near where the Ballard Market takes place). This show will be the debut of my City Joy series! I'll be there from 6-9 pm. Come see what happens when Joy meet maps of Seattle, Ballard, London, Boston, and more. (PS--The Cider at Locust Cider is the best I've ever had--just one more reason to stop by!) Details

Saturday, May 11 at Classic Consignment in Ballard, Seattle. I am SO EXCITED to have been invited to show again in the beautiful gallery in Classic Consignment in Ballard, Seattle. This show will feature the latest works from my What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? series—including a many new pieces! I'll be there from 6-9 pm and it will be a super fun opening--would love to see you!! Details
Teaching
Have you wondered how I paint Joy? Would you like to learn...while also sipping a delightful cocktail or mocktail? Then sign up for my Canvas and Cocktails: Cherry Blossom Edition class at Studio Life in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Perfect for couples looking for a fun date night or a get together with your friends or coworkers, this one evening class will give you the supplies and training you need to create your own Joy—Cherry Blossom style! (And because you are reading my blog, register with the secret code BLOSSOM to get a 5% discount!) At the end of the class, you will have enjoyed a new cocktail or mocktail and will leave with your painting, step by step handouts—plus a stash of art supplies so you can keep practicing at home! Spaces are filling up--register today! Class is $105 (before the discount) and takes place Thursday, April 18, from 7-9 pm! Register
Coaching and The Artist's Way Workshop
I have had the great joy to coach more artists on building their practice, their business, and their confidence—through one on one and group Mastermind coaching. This is my heart’s work and I love empowering artists to grow their creative self-expression and business! If you are an artist and curious about online/virtual coaching, please let me know. My individual spots are filled until summer, but I still have one or two spaces in my Advanced and Intermediate Mastermind Groups that meet online weekly. The groups are really affordable ($200 a month) compared to most professional Mastermind groups and include a host of additional benefits. To find out more, send a reply message for details.

If you are in Seattle, clear your calendar on Monday evenings and join my 12 Week Artist's Way Workshop at Studio Life in Ravenna, Seattle! Julia Cameron's book changed my life forever and I am thrilled to bring her wisdom into the room to help us navigate what it means and how to live life more creatively! As a professional, trained facilitator who knows first hand what it's like to be an artist, or wanting to be an artist, I am pleased to offer this workshop $425 (includes a copy of Cameron's book, refreshments at the weekly workshop, and a professional facilitated community of fellow creatives). There are just a few spots left and the 12-week workshop begins Monday, April 15. Don't miss out! Register today!

And if you're not in Seattle, that's ok. I'm working on a Virtual Artist's Way Workshop for later this year. Message me if you want to be part of that group!

City Joy | Boston 20"x24” Acrylic painting on gallery-wrapped canvas, wired and ready to hang in your home or office. $975. Price includes shipping. Add to your collection.

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Uncertain | Voting

Since I have been eligible to vote, there have been maybe just two or three elections I haven’t voted in. I am a naturalized American citizen—I was born in England and we came to the U.S. when I was two years old.

My parents were politically active in England and used to go door to door, canvasing for their candidates. We lived in the States for fourteen years before they became citizens and could vote—so they instilled in me the urgency and importance of voting. Every. Single. Election. I vote in the big elections, in the local elections, in the mid term elections. Hell, I even overnight mailed in my absentee ballot from England, where I was studying my junior year of college. It was that important (and, yes, I had procrastinated that much).

In 2016, the people who could but did not vote decided the outcome. About 47% of registered voters in the U.S. didn’t vote. If they had voted, the outcome may have been different.

I have since 8 pm Pacific time on November 8, 2016—when Florida went red—had a rough, woolen blanket of anxiety wrapped around my solar plexus. It goes with me everywhere. It makes me feel vaguely nauseated every day. It can keep me from breathing deeply. For two years. Feeling like I need to puke and can’t breathe—for two years. It’s like a dull terror. What will happen. What will happen. What will happen. Can I breathe. Will I breathe. What will happen. What will happen.

And it’s the height of privilege that I’ve only had this blanket for two years. Millions world wide, and here in the U.S. have lived with this dull terror every day of their lives as subjects of systematized racism. Much of my work for the last two years has been to learn them how you go on. How you function when your blanket of anxiety is squeezing you, keeping you from breathing.

I’ve learned you take action—whatever action you can. You get out of your comfort zone. You stretch. You talk to others. Create community. Have real conversations about what matters. Check in on your gay, lesbian, trans, black, brown, Jewish, and marginalized friends. See how they are doing. You exercise. You breathe deep. You meditate. You find some way to express yourself creatively. You eat more vegetables and less sugar. But you keep taking action.

We need checks and balances back in our system—which means having at least the House of Representatives or Senate go blue—and right now I’m not sure we will get them. And if we don’t, it is very dark what comes next.

There it is. The blanket of anxiety wraps tighter the closer we get to next Tuesday, November 6. There are times, I’m not sure I can manage it. Manage the anxiety. The dull terror. I am new to this. By virtue of the accident the life and skin color I was born into, I am new to this.

We have seen the erosion of norms I had taken for granted as a white, middle-class, suburban child growing up in New England. I had taken for granted that the U.S. would always be a democracy. Taken for granted that, as a naturalized citizen, I would always be able vote. Taken for granted that, as a woman, I would always be able to vote. It was naïve. I know that now. There is nothing we can take for granted. All of it is at stake.

It is uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo

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Uncertain | Mory and the Raccoon

Before a week ago Wednesday, I was knew one thing: if anyone ever tried to attack me while I was walking my dog—a gorgeous, earnest, and funny Golden Retriever Chow Chow mix—he would overwhelm them. A sweet, playful, and cuddly Retriever indoors, Mory turns into a barking tornado outdoors. All sorts of things set him off—squirrels (natch), bunnies, crows, pigeons, cats, other dogs, kids with backpacks, kids on skateboards, bicycles, any form of public transit, trucks, and even babies in strollers. We rescued him as an adult dog, so my work with him has been to mitigate the torrent of barking as much as I can with Rocco and Roxie’s beef jerky treats.

At first his behavior exhausted me, but over time I came to understand this was his Chow Chow side and he was protecting me. As a petite woman, having a dog with guard dog instincts suddenly gave me more confidence. I felt really safe with him. While still sensible, I felt more comfortable about taking walks on my own, as long as I had Mory. I knew he would at least raise an alarm and give us a chance to fight back or get away if we were in peril.

And then we were attacked.

It was late in the day, almost 11 p.m., and we went out for our usual last quick walk of the day. We were just outside out our front door when Mory saw a raccoon in the cedar tree in our front yard. We’ve seen raccoons there before and never had a problem--he barks; they go up the tree; we go on our way. No problem.

This night, as usual, he started barking. “You tell him,” I said—not knowing. Not knowing how dangerous raccoons could be if they felt threatened. Not knowing until seconds before that there was an adult baby raccoon up in the tree and this was its mother who was going to protect it. And then in a flash I knew. The raccoon stopped, stared, adn then ran at Mory, attacking him viciously—biting and scratching. I was screaming, trying to pull Mory off the path and back into the house. The force of the attack pushed them into our driveway. Mory was screaming. I was screaming. And in that moment I noticed I was alone. No one was coming. We were alone.

I kept pulling and pulling, and screaming and screaming, trying to get us back into the house. I got us closer. And then I heard my a voice in my head say calmly, “Kick it.” I did. "Get off my Dog!" Again and again. I got the 40 lb. beast off of Mory. We ran to the porch and got part way up the stairs. The raccoon followed and kept attacking Mory’s feet and tail. Mory was screaming. I was screaming. We were alone. I kept pulling and pulling. Screaming and screaming. I unlocked the door. I pulled him in. I closed the door…on his foot. Mory screamed. The raccoon was still on his foot. Chewing his foot. Its nose was over the threshold. “Not in my house. Not in my house. It cannot come in my house,” another voice in my head said. I got a glancing kick at its head and it was enough. It startled, let go, I pulled Mory’s foot in and slammed the door.

We were safe. He had bites and scratches, but did not need stitches. His thick Chow Chow coat and his grit protected him. He protected me from getting bitten or scratched. I got him to safety. He protected me at his own peril. I made sure he and the house were safe.

But for both of us, the incident has left us uncertain. We are even more alert when we go out. I carry a bright flashlight and something I can throw. We don’t go on a morning walk until the sun rises. I don’t assume I am safe anymore. I am jumpy. Mory is jumpy. He is more reactive to the squirrels, bunnies, cats, and people on wheels and buses.

We are uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo #roccoandroxie

 

Mory in his cone, the day after we were attacked.

Mory in his cone, the day after we were attacked.

Turning Fiddy

I turned 50 this year. Well, I like to say I turned fiddy as that sounds much less AARPish than “FIFTY!!” I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means for me, for my family, for my peers.

I am proudly part of the cynical, sarcastic GenX generation. We were kids in the 70s and early 80s. On Amazon Prime/Netflix, my peers are Paige in The Americans and Lorelei Gilmore (the second one). I used to go to my friends’ houses by walking or riding my bike. Long distance phone calls cost a lot of money. There were maybe four TV stations. I rode the school bus and had no after school activities, other than occasional Girl Scout meetings. I was part of the first wave of “latch key” kids because my Mum began working full time when I was about ten or so.

I had access to a suburban U.S., middle class white girl’s generally typical childhood. With two notable exceptions:

  • I was (and am) an artist, and
  • I am an immigrant, now naturalized citizen.

I’m going to start writing more about turning 50 because for whatever somewhat random math reason, it’s a milestone number and that has an effect on how we approach the world. Well, at least for me it does. Maybe it’s just me? I’ll post here and on my blog. If you want to follow along look for #SarahFiddy

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New horizons in "What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?" (literally), Part I (from August 11, 2018)

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that watercolor landscapes have entered into the What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? series--although now that's called What 3 (Landscape) Colors Bring You Joy?

How did that happen?

The summer road trip my husband and I took was a great adventure for us and changed my paintings, at least for now. I’m still painting What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?—but now I’m playing with 3 color landscapes.

I love living in Seattle but hadn’t yet visited much of the rest of the state. Back in June, we decided rather last minute to go on a road trip around Washington state. The drive was gorgeous. If you haven’t been to Washington state, there are all sorts of climates to experience--from Alpines, like Switzerland, to temperate rain forests, to high deserts like New Mexico, forests, farms, canyons, and on and on. And it’s all beautiful.

As we drove past all these scenes, my desire to return to landscape painting grew. By the fourth day of trying (and failing) to paint the scenery with my Fluid Acrylics, I knew I had to make a change. To get the paintings to come out the way I wanted, to my surprise, I realized I needed to go back to my old friend—watercolors.

Okay, I'll pause there. More on that story in my next blog!

And remember, wherever you go this week, be sure to look for joy. It's there. I promise.

("You Matter," the painting below, is On Reserve.)

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Creating art vs. rendering (from July 31, 2018)

“Making art is not simply rendering.”
—Barbara Earl Thomas

I was lucky enough to hear Barbara Earl Thomas talk about the intersection of her work as a museum director and her process as an artist recently. There was so much that resonated for me, particularly this—that as an artist my job is not to render. Rendering is not making art.

What that meant to me is that my job is to bring myself, my own reality to what I am seeing, thinking, feeling, and or experiencing to what I create.

Photos and copying machines do a better job at rendering than I ever could. And replicating what is seen, for me, is not the point of what I do.

I want to communicate with you, to share with you.

And so I change the reality of what I see when I make art. I am doing the work, the labor of making something that never existed before, because until I made it—without me—it *cannot* exist.

I am curious about how what I make affects YOU—what do YOU see, what do YOU think, what do YOU feel—when you see my work? What does it evoke for you? I most want you to feel lighter, to feel joy, to have some respite. It may not always do that but that’s what I want...more joy for you.

I want to show you my process, so you can see the choices I made and how they differ from the source photo--and get some insight into the enormous number of decisions that goes into each work. I normally would shy from showing you the source, because what I painted is different. But a life without taking chances is far less interesting.

So here we go. On the left, the inspiration photos. Then, on the right, the paintings.

Take gentle care of yourself. Look for joy. I promise it is there.

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