Tag Archives: Alyson Stanfield

Top 10 Ways To Grow As An Artist

Work In Progress - Haida Gwaii

“The Portal :: Work In Progress – Gwaii Haanas Collection” ©2012 Janice Tanton. Oil on canvas. 72″x96″.

1. Ignore Every Single “Non-Artist” Authority.

Whether or not it’s your best gallery owner, jurors, grant authorities, your greatest collector, your mother, your spouse or your kids. Ultimately, you need to ignore what they say. Unless they are artists – ignore their opinion on the work. Good…or bad.

If they’re not creating, they’re not in the same zone you are regarding your growth as an artist. Be pure in your mission to create. You are the expert on you and you alone.

2. Eyes On The Prize :: Surround Yourself with Talent Better Than Your Own.

Take stock of your skills. With a critical eye, review where you are weak. Take workshops, study and apprentice with artists who are better than you are. Read art books, watch demo videos. Learn from them. If you enjoy an artist’s vision – tell them. Open up a dialogue and engage! If you’re a realist – check out American Painting Video Magazine which profiles some of the best contemporary realists.

3. Be Authentic and Transparent.

Put it all out there with confidence. If you don’t know something, admit it. If you do – share it. This requires a lot of bravery. Go for it. No one ever grew from being fearful. Let it go. You’ll still be standing tomorrow.

4. Create A Habit To Create.

Make stuff. Lots of it. If it’s not finished, who cares. Just make it. Surround yourself with a lot of work in progress. Have a dozen pieces on the go at once and commit to paint every day for 6-8 week periods or longer. Build it up until you are creating something every day.

5. Boot “Failure” and “Success” OFF the Island.

Ignore them. There is no place for failure or success in the life of the creative. In fact, there’s little space for quantitative measurement of either. There is only the act of creation – the process. Draw from everything you know, let it all go and make something new…without thinking. Don’t judge it – either way. There is no “good” or “bad”. There is just the thing you make.

6. Focus On The Process – Never The Outcome.

Enjoy every moment process in the creation of your work. From the second you wake and pour a coffee to head to the studio, you are creating. Consider that. Enjoy each step – don’t rush until you’re ready to go to the next step. Consider every action of “make” a beautiful, complete moment of creation in itself. Don’t think about the outcome. Just do.

7. Never Apologize.

Be pure in every statement of your work, from the action of the brushstroke to the articulation of the piece. Never “excuse”. If you are honest in your art-making in each step, you’ll learn, create and grow beyond your wildest dreams.

8. Get The Heck Out of Dodge!

Seriously – get out of town! Take a trip far away from your hometown and studio. Visit museums, art galleries and libraries. Find a culture completely different from your own and be curious. Ask questions – learn and challenge your own beliefs. Pick something so different from your “regular beat” that it scares you.

9. Share. Share. Share.

Share everything you know  – no matter what the topic – with everyone who will listen. You’ll learn, in return. Share your failures. Share surprise, success, your birthday, your family…share it all. It’s in sharing our stories, we discover our commonalities and our differences. This is the stuff “art” is made from!

10. Define Your Space. Raise Your Capital.

That means physical, emotional, social, psychological and financial space that will allow you to do 3 1-9. Set yourself up for success by having enough capital to totally commit yourself to your work in all these areas. If you’re looking for a helper, check out Alyson B. Stanfield. Lots of incredible art business advice and workshops here! Need help with your blog? Contact the amazing Kim Bruce. She just saved this blogpost for me!


Got any further ideas or resources? Remember #9 – Share, share share!


Folks Who Inspire:

Jerry Fresia – Authentic Impressionism
Alyson B. Stanfield – Artbizcoach.com
Kim Bruce – Artbiz.ca
Scott Waddell
Grand Central Academy
Jacob Collins
Bo Bartlett


Happy International Artist Day To You!…And a big fat Happy Birthday to Picasso & Me! Let’s Do Cake.

International Artist DayWho knew it? Today has been declared International Artist Day. A big thanks to Alyson Stanfield for posting on this and letting me know – I’ve been so busy painting at The Banff Centre in a residency, I didn’t even know it! There is something to be said about creative time…and something to be said about keeping your radar ears on. Today is the day we move all these fresh new paintings out of my studio in Banff and back into the Canmore studio for finishing touches. Boy, am I celebrating on so many levels!

"Foothills" ©Janice Tanton 2008. Oil on board. 8"x8"

“Foothills” ©Janice Tanton 2008. Oil on board. 8″x8″

Given that October 25th is Picasso‘s birthday….and also MY birthday, I’m sure next year, I’ll be a lot more prepared to party!

Guernica - Pablo Picasso

“Guernica” – Pablo Picasso. I remember the first time I saw this. It moved me and made me think.

9 Tips for Artists to Reduce the Time Spent On Social Media

I have a Tweet that has sparked a lot of discussion on Twitter :

“Show me an artist that’s on social media and I’ll show you an artist who’s not in the studio.”

Twitter LogoIf you’re like most artists I know who have done well at engaging in social media, you’re asking yourself the question, “How do I limit the time I spend there, and get back into the studio where I belong?” Many folks feel sucked in or bewildered at the scope and time it takes to research, develop and maintain a social media engagement strategy. Time is our most valuable commodity. It’s limited.

After a few months of working, learning and trying out some things on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, here are my practical tips for being in the studio AND engaged in social media at the same time. Poof. Magic.

purpose quote - Eleanor Roosevelt1) PURPOSE :: Know why you’re on social media.

Like any business or art exhibition, there is intent and a plan. Know WHY it is that you’re blogging, tweeting, face-booking or on LinkedIn. I have separate reasons for all, but am clear on the purpose of each one as it relates to me as a person, and how I use it for my arts practice. And NONE of them are for commercial sales. I love social media because it connects me to my colleagues, my friends and my family and to meet new folks who can offer a different perspective on life. It allows me to learn, to grow and to offer my own knowledge.

Facebook Logo2) SET A TIME ::  Get a calendar and USE it!

Purposefully schedule your social media time and stick to it. I use several electronic “assistants” to help me do this. I use iCal to set up times to work on blogposts, Twitter, etc. Things is a great project & task management tool for the Mac, and I use it to set tasks that I need to accomplish within the various social media platforms. Evernote is a huge helper and I use it to organize articles I want to read later and my own blogposts among many other things such as electronic financial receipt filing. I also use some add-ons that allow me to sketch ideas on my iPad and save them into Evernote for later use.

egg timer3) LIMIT YOURSELF :: Set a Timer!

Once you have determined when you’re going to engage in social media each day, week or month, actually SET A LENGTH OF TIME and stick with it. I use the Clock function on my iPhone and set the timer. When it goes off, I’m done! I wrap up the article or the time I’m on Twitter and get back into the studio. I do the same for almost every task in my office. Setting a timer allows you to forget about it, and know ahead that you’ve allotted the time and space for creativity, office work and social media.

Mad Men Secretarial Pool4) HIRE A CHEAP SECRETARY :: Use Social Media Programs

There are many efficiency programs on the market that get you organized to deal with your work on social media. I use several – Hootsuite and TweetAdder are the biggest ones. I like Hootsuite because I can quickly see in one glance, the various hashtag streams I’m following – who to respond to, what interests me and yes…you can post to several social media platforms from inside the client itself, although I don’t always recommend this. TweetAdder allows me to set up my Tweets ahead of time and to share what I know or have created with my Tweeps.

know thyself5) KNOW THYSELF :: Get some religion! Keep Your Best Creativity Time Sacred

I know that my most creative time is in the morning, and so I usually block 9 – 1 every day for studio work. By the time the late afternoon rolls around, I’m fried, kids are home and there are lots of family things to attend to….like dinner! When I need a break during the day, I’ll check in on Twitter and Facebook. Usually mid-morning, at lunch and then later in the evening when family chores are done.

Wordpress logo6) GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION :: Blogging IS creative work

I’ve set a creative goal for myself in the past year to write. I spend a lot of time at the easel thinking (and talking) to myself, and so getting those thoughts into writing has been a critical and creative goal. I set two major times a week to write. Not everything makes it into the blog, and perhaps some of it…shouldn’t make it into the blog, but just the act of considering it as creative time, I’ve given myself permission to do it. Erika Napoletano (@RedHeadWriting) wrote a great blog article on this. Read it.

Da Vinci - Battle7) ENGAGE IN THE BATTLE :: Be a player!

There’s really no point in engaging in social media unless you’re going to be social. I’m a self-diagnosed introvert, believe it or not. I really don’t like parties, crowds of folks and feel much more comfy in small groups. Relationships are important. Build them. Schedule your time to respond to Tweets and DO IT. Just don’t “set it and forget it”. It’s not about selling as some would have you believe. It’s how we interact with each other. Artists spend a lot of time alone…in solitary confinement, so to speak. Engage with others. Be open. Learn. You’ll be amazed at what is interesting and what folks are doing.

Just Say No 8) SAY NO! :: Set boundaries (and goals) – for yourself and others.

Once you’ve set your time to engage in social media and your time to be in the studio, respect that! Respect yourself and your creative process by honouring the time that you need to be in that space. Setting those kind of boundaries and saying “no”, not only to yourself, but kindly to others teaches you (and them) that this is important and why you are doing what you are doing. Tell your kids, colleagues and your family that this is time that you need to create or to be on social media. Explain to them why. Trust me – they’ll get it.

Gandhi Live and Learn9) LIVE & LEARN :: Stop talking and start listening!

I’ve seen amazing articles, blogs, ideas, photos, jokes, thoughts….all by “clicking through” on links in Facebook and Twitter. I’m not in this just to spout out what I think I might know. I’m here to learn and listen. Don’t just let it all pass you by. It might spark a thought, a new friend. Heaven knows we could all use a little more “friend” in our lives. I’ve met some very cool folks through Twitter and social media that I would have never met otherwise. Some I’ve even had coffee with and hosted at my studio. Y’all know who you are and I’m grateful for that in my life. WOW. Now THAT is the power of social media. Expanding your family, meeting new folks, caring about what happens in the world by being connected to others.

Isn’t that what art is all about?


Seth Godin: The first thing you do when you sit down to the computer

Alyson Stanfield: 5 Minute Social Media Tasks for the Week 

“I’d Rather Be In The Studio”…wouldn’t you?

Cover of Alyson B. Stanfield's Book, "I'd Rather Be In The Studio"

Who’s got the map?

Vision and goal-setting for my art career was at the top of my priority list when I retired as Program Manager at Aboriginal Leadership at The Banff Centre in late December, 2010.

I started by asking myself:

  • “Okay – you did it. You made the leap.
  • You GOT that wish that you’d “rather be in the studio.”
  • Now what are you going to do?

That has to be one of the biggest and most important challenges for any artist or organization. Even on a personal level, it’s quite something to really think about what you want from life, succinctly define it and take the action to get there. It’s another thing to get to the action of visioning, getting organized, planning it out and doing it.

I realized that I needed some help, guidance and support in this endeavour, despite my years of experience as an artist, entrepreneur and project/program manager. It’s totally another thing when you are the head of  your own organization, and I took the advice I had been giving out for years to others but was so bad at taking myself when it came down to it.

Get help.

Find a coach that you respect and who has more experience than you, to help you focus, move into action and achieve your vision. Find someone you can relate to. Now…where would I find such a generous coach who really understood me as an artist and what the specific challenges may be in a cultural industry in a bad economy? There are business coaches out there who are a dime a dozen, all peddling the same wares. WHO is focussed specifically on us creatives?

In December, I started scouring the art book and business sections of Chapters, Indigo and Amazon to find some useful resources and read up on the literature out there with the purpose of designing my own plan of action. After all, hanging out with some hefty academics after six years, you learn to do the lit review first!

Before  Santa even finished his last toy and got into his big red flying vehicle, I had a pile of shiny, freshly printed new books sitting on the coffee table in my studio. Merry Christmas to ME! I began to read, looking for that one Secret that would motivate me to successful action.

The “One True Ring” …and my Gandalf!

While some of the books were excellent, none of them stood high above the others and shone with the same practical advice and personal manner as “I’d Rather Be In The Studio”, by Alyson Stanfield.

From chapter to chapter, this no-nonsense approach, jam-packed with valuable tools for organization and business strategies were familiar and yet seemed personally tailored for my own art practice and style. This chick is up to date! She blogs voraciously and well on Art Biz Blog with even more tips and content than I could absorb in years and she is generous with

Alyson B. Stanfield

Alyson B. Stanfield - photo credit: Ellen Nelson

her advice, adored by her followers and “gets” the social media scene. You really feel that she is involved and personally driven to help you succeed as an artist.

I’d found my coach!….and then the hard work began.

Find out how I start the journey and set my own Big Hairy Audacious Art Goals for 2011 in an upcoming blogpost by subscribing to the Janice Tanton Blog.

P.S. – HOT OFF THE PRESS – Alyson’s first edition is completely sold out. However, she has an e-book version is you just can’t wait for that spanking new edition release in April 2011  for “I’d Rather Be In The Studio” (which include new chapters on social media!)

Thanks Alyson. I’m in your debt.