Long before I had my Airstream, over thirty years ago I was sitting in Powderhorn Park at In The Heart Of The Beast’s May Day Parade. The Twin Cities are known for their puppet theater artists, especially Powderhorn Park. Thousands of folks would flock in from all over. For me it was a birthday tradition. The first weekend in May I’d get a fabulous cake from Wuolett’s Bakery, invite friends to park at my house and help me eat cake and then walk down to the park for the parade. It was one particular May Day Parade where events would unfold that would have quite the impact on me. I didn’t know it then but I would be introduced to the first of my Fab Five. I would begin on a journey, learning the importance of the people we meet along the road.
Portfolio page for Artwork By ElisaMG is here in Word Press. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tiny_adventures_of_elisamg/
Fab Five….. in chronological order…..
It was at a May Day Parade, where an elderly man in worn out coveralls appeared on the horizon, just a tiny speck among thousands. For some reason I noticed him. He was bee lining it directly towards me. It took a bit for him to reach me, but when he finally arrived, he looked me in the eyes and very matter of factly asked “Are you an artist?” You think this would be a simple question, I mean I did have a Visual Arts BA and a minor in communications so I should have been able to articulate some sort of coherant answer. Yet I still didn’t claim my Artist self, and would go on for years ignoring it, or bringing creativity into every job I did, but not allowing myself to really dream and play. However, in that moment, I sat up tall and straight and confident, looked him in the eyes and said “Why yes! I am.” To which he quickly responded “Well then you need to read “The Artist’s Way.” After which he turned on his heels and left the crowd and park as quickly as he had entered. Well, of course I immediately went out and bought the book!
For a little fun reading on Puppet Artistry in the Twin Cities, check this out…. https://www.twincities.com/2015/04/29/in-the-twin-cities-a-special-puppet-love/
Check out Julia’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/juliacameronlive/
Years later after one copy of the book was eaten by my Great Dane, another sat collecting dust on the shelf, and I had been in and out of several Artist Way groups both live and online from Minneapolis to LA, I finally had the opportunity to meet Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way. I had the honor of spending a whole weekend with her at an intensified day in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the first of its kind ever, Gathering Of The Creatives. This is where I jumped all in and seriously start creating. Julia’s lessons and workshop helped me to see past my perfectionism and overthinking, to put into practice some daily practices, like the Artist’s Date and Morning Pages, which on the surface seemed simple but in all seriousness proufoundly changed me for the better. The things she taught me became a sort of prayer and meditation practice for me, and magic started to happen. So Julia is one of my first “Fab Five”. Thank you Julia!
I should preface this to say there were so many who influenced, inspired, encouraged me along the way including, my mother who is also a painter and instilled in me a love for the arts at a very young age, my friends who pushed me to sell my art, strangers who were moved by my works and I knew were not just being nice because they knew me, jobs that were an uncomfortable fit but necessary to build the strength in me to move on, bad match boyfriends who I never married and thus always had “A Room Of My Own”, and a Pandemic leaving me completely isolated that gave me the gift of time to reflect on what was really important to me and allowed me to commit to myself and my art. Of course their is my friend Traci who markets wines for a vineyard using social media and encouraged me from the beginning to use all of the media tools available to get myself out there. All of you who follow me and read my writing also count in the group that goes way beyond the Fab Five. But this post is dedicated to my “Fab Five”.
Flora Bowley, out of the Pacific Northwest, is next on my list. If there ever was an artist that I have met who truly is a giving soul, not attached to ego at all, and truly gifted, it is Flora, an all around beautiful person. I journeyed through many of Flora’s classes, learning the process of Intuitive Painting and so much more. Intuitive Painting is freeing. You take all thoughts out of your head and just center yourself present in the moment. You let go of control, you set aside any pre-conceived notions of what you want to paint. You might set some intentions ahead of time. Flora taught us the importance of creating space for our practice. We learned to create an invironment that called us to creativity. She taught us how to feel what we were creating, how to play and dance and have fun with it. She even shared her own painting playlists, which I love to listen to while I paint. Flora taught us to enjoy our creations but not get attached, as in life joy comes to us and goes making room for new joys. She encouraged us if we were copying her style and coached us to find our own styles. During the pandemic she has been one of my lifelines as she reinvented herself and held virtual conferences where we could meet artists around the world and spend time in the virutal studio together sharing, being vulnerable about our process and our techniques, where we get stuck, where we see ourselves going, and we could gain feedback, and grow. Flora’s books and classes were well worth the investment. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, consider joining one of Flora’s classes! I know you will find it to be a real treat! Taking courses, as well as attending the creativity conference were investments in myself. Thank you Flora!
My Fab Five person number three is Sandy Garcia, a Folk Artist out of Claremont California. Sandy like the others has a huge, giving heart and a playful creative brain, backed by incredible talent. She loves community and found a way to build that among artists. I owe it to all of my Fab Five, and especially Sandy for all of the artist friends I have made along the way. I first met Sandy at a workshop in downtown Pomona California at this wonderful little coffe shop/used book store/ community gathering space. Two teachers who were going to buy a house, instead created this wonderful space to escape to for play and creativity. Sandy taught us some of her techniques and methods for making bold bright art influenced by Mexican Folk Art. We were painting La Virgen De Guadalupe. I went on to enjoy many more painting days with Sandy and her artist friends. She taught me to let go of being judgemental, to experiment with different colors, to embrace the imperfect and let go of perfectionism. She opened her home for many workshops where I collected ideas on all of the different mediums one can make art on, and held sessions at her friends’ local vineyard at the base of the mountains. I’m not going to lie, the wine and cheese were pretty darn good too. At every workshop I met new folks, grew my art network and got to improve my painting skills, play and have fun. If you are in the Southern California area, I highly. encourage you to find Sandy and see what opportunities she might have, or check out her art. I know you will love it! Sandy, also helped all of us through the pandemic. When folks lost loved ones or were struggling with something she rallied us all to send art to that particular individual. She promoted other artists and their creations and shows, and she hosted several online art shows, keeping us creating and connecting in a time when we were so isolated and alone and connection was so desperately needed. Thank you Sandy!
Check out Sandy’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pintalos/
My next Fab Five is Loree Harrell, from the Troutdale Art Center, along with all of the other artists there who welcomed me as a guest artist with open arms. When my trailer landed in Troutdale, I thought I had died and gone to heaven as I walked out of either end of the park to find art galleries and The Troutdale Art Center. How could it be that I would be gifted with so many resources and opportunities all around me. Of course I snooped through everyone’s websites and I was really taken by Loree’s work so I took a risk and reached out. Airstream travels teaches you without a risk there is no adventure! I reached out to her on facebook and she welcomed me right in to the Troutdale arts community. Loree was encouraging. She took me in as a guest artist, and being around her I learn something new everyday. I’ll get a new tip on running my business, or marketing my work, or creating just by being around her and watching her work. She then invited me to showing my art at the Troutdale First Fridays Art Walk this summer right in front of her studio. She shared her tent and gear I woudl need to do that and helped me make connections to apply and participate in the upcoming jurried Fall Festival.
There are still so many places here for me to explore in Portland and thanks to Loree, I’ve just begun discovering the opportunities here in Troutdale. Loree Harrell is incredibly giving, thoughtful, creative and smart. Recently retired, she brings years of successful hotel management experience and work ethic into her work as an artist. I’ve learned to be a successful artist you not only have to make art that people like, but you have to run the business, sell the work, market yourself, present things in a professional way, participate in community events and fairs, figure out the ins and outs of packaging and shipping, engage with people and make it fun. Little details count! Tags describing your work, how you wire your paintings and hang them, community resources such as where you make your prints, how you store your quality photos are all important. She gives great attention to detail on making folks feel special. Watching her I see that the long hours fine tuning and organizing what one does really pays off. She also makes her art accessible to all. She showed me how she gets her art onto purses, shoes and other merchandise. She even creates earings with tiny prints of her art.
Check her out. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loreeharrellart/ https://www.loreeharrell.com/ as well as the other artists at TAC…. https://www.instagram.com/troutdaleartcenter/ http://www.troutdaleartcenter.com/
Then there is the fabulous Sasha Loriene! Founder of Black Girls Who Paint, Sasha inspires me by her seemingly endless energy and passion for her work as an artist and an artist who supports other artists. I don’t know about the rest of you but my college classes never had anyone who looked like me in the Art History books painting or doing creative endeavors. I know this had a lot to do with why I had so much doubt about myself and think, wow, what if I had jumped in at twenty. So, when I came across Sasha, a Black female artist, on Instagram I was thrilled! I was thrilled! Sasha reminded me the importance of giving back to the community, going all in, having a vision and goals, and keeping balance between the business and simply enjoying the fun of creating. Yes, the business, because I now have an LLC. I’m official! Anyhow, Sasha created BGWP for the very reason I mentioned. She wanted Black women and girls to know there is space for us in the art world. She wanted to share the expertise she was learning from the New York galleries she had worked with and to connect artists to opportunities around the world. Although she will say she is bad at technology, she definitely upped my game in the world of technology. I went to workshops, met gallery owners and learned how to talk to press. I grew my collectors (those who buy original art as an investmeent, gaining value over the years), and I grew my artist connections. I made weekly calander commitments to show up to events online and push past insecurities, fears and self doubt and participate, and be a part of. We just finished the “Feminity Defined” online art show taking a look at non-traditional images representing the feminine. I was thrilled Sasha gave me the opportunity in an online forum to be one of five featured artists in a preshow with gallery owners, art administrators and the press for an audience. She helped me fine tune my skills in talking about my art in front of big and influential strangers. Sasha has thrown international opportunities our way and ways to connect live with other Black female artists across the country on a regular basis. She also reminds us to embrace, nurture, cheer on young Black girls aspiring to be artists. Sasha is so inspirational. I look forward to working with her and the BGWP team on whatever opportunities they invite us to down the road. Also, I encourage you too, to connect BIPOC girls who are interested in the arts with Sasha’s resources, as there are often opportunities and scholarships for them. Thank you Sasha!
Thinking back on the Gathering of the Creatives, everything I got there has stayed with me. Everyone I met at the Creativity Conference, I still am connected to, influenced and moved by. One big take away was that we are all creative. We are just not encouraged to put it to practice. Also that if we all engaged our creativity we really could heal this world and make it a better place. I truly believe that and at a time of feeling isolated and disconnected as well as having a deep dispair over our state in the world, this was a little light of hope. So if any of this inspires you, don’t hesitate, get out your paints, or camera or join that improv team or whatever medium lights your fire. And a huge shout out and thank you to my Fab Five!
Some themes in my Fab Five… I met every one of them because of social media. Yes, for all of you social media skeptics, real connection on social media can lead to great friendships, colleagues, community and opportunities. Living my trailer life as allowed me to move about and expand on those opportunities. Building up those around you and having a giving heart is key to success. I support other artists so I buy Julia’s books, Flora’s classes, Sandy’s workshops and Loree’s artwork. What ever one’s dreams are, finding like minded people, sharing your gifts and supporting each other is so rewarding. It’s the same in my trailer travels, and everywhere else, the more we support each other, lift each other up, share our gifts the greater this adventure called life becomes! So cheers to my Fab Five and the hundreds of others who have influenced my travels!
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