Beginning Again: My Sedona Story

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A few week ago, I escaped to Sedona to paint

 

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I just got back from a painting workshop in Sedona, Arizona, after barely making it there in the first place. As you may have read in my previous blog post, I almost talked myself out of going due to deadlines and work overload. Now, I’m shaking my head in disbelief—I can’t believe I almost denied myself this restorative experience! Thank goodness I changed my mind. Both the workshop and Sedona were beyond worthwhile.  

 

 

 

 

The workshop was not a technique-based class. I saw it as a space for me to experiment with new subject matter and to push myself outside my limits and beyond my comfort zone. I went in with a strategy: I decided to try to paint as if I’d never painted before. I told the facilitator that I deliberately “forgot” how to paint and I was happy about that. I decided to approach my work with new eyes, because I think we tend to work within self-imposed limitations—we all have stories we tell ourselves, like “I’m not good at figure painting” or “I’m not good at painting florals.” So I decided, “I don’t know anything, so I guess I kind of know everything!” I felt like I had that youthful naiveté we all have before anyone tells you you’re not good at something.

 

I actually produced a portrait painting for the first time in so long that it felt like my first time. I found myself painting faces and figures, which is so unlike my usual work! I found myself experiencing a sense of possibilities unfolding and confidence rising. I’m excited to explore more figures and florals in my work in the future. Painting in Sedona gave me permission to explore new subject matter in my work. I don’t think I would have tried those new areas if I hadn’t gone there.

 

I was also very prolific at this workshop! Being engulfed in that mountain landscape made me feel free. I felt that a huge weight was off my shoulders. I felt at peace and I was able to just play.

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With all of the painting I did, you’d think that I wouldn’t have had time to enjoy the town of Sedona, but I found time for that. I even had my aura color read (lavender, of course!). Sitting in the square and listening to the magical sounds of a Native American flute being played while I drank my coffee, staring at the incredible stars at night, and watching the light change over the colorful mountains all helped me decompress and recharge.

 

 I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting " Meditation on the Rocks "

I meditated on the rocks sitting at the base of Sedona's most photographed site "Cathedral Rock" and it inspired the title for my painting "Meditation on the Rocks"

How about you? Whether it’s in your artwork, your health, or your personal life, what self-imposed limits have you created? Have you pushed yourself beyond them, or are you thinking about it? Can you become a beginner again, even for a week? Give yourself permission and set yourself free!

P.S. Would you like to paint with me this month?

This trip gave life to my "Real, Raw Abstract Painting" live studio sessions. I traveled far and wide to get to Sedona and I realized not everyone can afford to drop what they're doing and travel cross-country. We have a lot of commitments and responsibilities, and so art workshops can truly be a bit of a luxury. I wanted to bring the workshop experience to you. We've had  artists from all over the world participate so far and I'd love for you to join me this month for the second session of learning, inspiration, and encouragement.

Click here >>> Join me in the second installment of "Real, Raw Abstract Painting - Live Studio Session" next week! 

P.P.S.  I share my Artist story further this month on the "Support is Sexy" podcast with Elayne Fluker. Enjoy!

Let's Talk About Self-Care in September

September deserves its own “before and after” photo. Before September, we are pretty relaxed, riding the summer vibe. By the end of September, we’re frazzled and frantic, crushed by the sudden amping-up of our schedule and our expectations. Those with kids in school are overwhelmed by the new school year’s adjustments. Every one of us also faces a big realization in September: the end of the year is a few weeks away. We take stock of our goals and resolutions and recommit ourselves to them. How many of you participated in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days project this September? I want to give a huge congratulations to anyone who successfully completed it—and a big hand to anyone who gave it a try!

 

I’m with you—I too faced the September stress mess this past month. As I reflect on it now, I see how critical my self-care practices were to getting me through it in one piece. I’d like to share some of them with you, and I’d love to hear about some of your self-care tips and routines in the comments.

I Deleted Facebook

Deleting Facebook from my phone was a productivity hack but it also had a positive impact on my mindset. I felt less distracted by constant notifications, which are so hard to ignore and even harder to not respond to in the moment—all pulling me away from my work and out of my flow. Interacting on Facebook became a mindful activity that I would accomplish when I sat down at my desk.

Rituals

My morning rituals have proven to be a powerful way to ground myself for the day:

  • Staying off my phone first thing in the morning and doing short meditation or journaling sessions instead. This is the best way to set my intentions for the day and get in touch with myself. The day starts with peace and not from a place of reactivity.

  • Some days I use Louise Hay’s wonderful book Mirror Work to guide me through self-love exercises or mirror work exercises.

  • I have also found that starting my day by diffusing essential oils makes a powerful difference in my frame of mind. My favorite type of oils are Doterra oils. Do any of you use oils? If so, I’d love to know how you use them and what your favorites are.

 

 

Investing in joy

As September wore on, I struggled with whether or not I could—or should—attend an art workshop in Sedona that I’m registered for that takes place the first week in October. If you follow me on Facebook or IG or both haha, you are aware that I even offered up my spot. I had a lot of thoughts of resistance, such as thinking that I was way too busy and that I didn’t need to guilt myself over skipping it. But after practicing some of my grounding rituals, I was able to realize that I’m not as overwhelmed as I was letting myself feel. I can give myself the gift and investment of this five-day workshop. This is an act of self-love.

The fact is, too, that I could always talk myself out of going to an art workshop: if things are busy, I could tell myself I can’t get away; if things are slower, I could convince myself that I need to stay home and hustle to pick things up. The bottom line is that I know that I deserve and need to be inspired and rejuvenated by these retreats. They are an investment in myself. Taking good care of myself and investing in myself have led to abundance and prosperity, so I need to keep up my end of the bargain.

Returning to San Miguel, Mexico

Speaking of art retreats—I attended a life-changing retreat with the remarkable Desha Peacock in San Miguel de Allende last winter. Her retreats for creative entrepreneurs sell out every year, and for good reason: phenomenal content and leadership in an inspiring setting (a beautiful mansion in a gorgeous artist town). Desha is an amazing and very present retreat leader, and I found this retreat very nourishing. It was a large investment, and I felt that it was worth it—and I am worth it. I am thrilled to be returning in Jan 28-Feb 3, 2018 to teach an art session as part of the retreat!  There are only two more spaces left. Would you like to come? Take a look at the link, and let’s meet in San Miguel!

I hope that the beginning of October finds you well. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and investing in yourself. You deserve it! I look forward to sharing my trip to Sedona with you, and to hearing about how you practiced self-care to get through September!

5 Reasons Why You Haven't Sold a Painting Online Yet

It's Saturday night, I'm sitting in my art studio in Oaxaca, Mexico creating new work and sending out orders to collectors while I get to travel the world.

A few years ago, this would have been a pipe dream. In college, art felt like a luxury and now, it's how I make my living. 

So how exactly doessss one transition from simply sharing your art online to actually selling it? I just gave a talk on the topic a few weeks ago and you can access the recording here. Here's a few reasons why you probably haven't sold a painting online yet:

  1. No one knows who you are.
    • Selling art online requires an audience. One of the first things people will do when you tell them you're an artist is Google "your name + art". If nothing comes up then it's problematic. Work on establishing a web presence early in the game and it will be much easier to reap the rewards when you're ready to ask for your first sale!
  2. You aren't blogging and documenting your journey.
    • I get it. You're a painter not a writer. Blogging is a lot of work, and nowadays with Instagram and other micro-blog platforms, blogging seems less and less important. But consider keeping up with a blog if for only two reasons: 1) It's a great way to get used to telling your story and building up momentum in your marketing campaigns, and 2) SEO, SEO, SEO. Blogging is one of the best ways to generate content on the web for free which ties into the first point. Try and blog monthly or weekly if you can't do it more than a few times a week.
  3. You're not using social media effectively.
    • I started offering trainings on Instagram for artists, because so many of us are simply clueless in terms of how to effectively use the platform. And not just Instagram, Facebook is still one of the best platforms to reach buyers and gain a following for your work. FACT: I got my very first sale online in a private Facebook group because I asked (more on that later). So don't sleep on Facebook! And get your Instagram game up :)
  4. You don't have a shop.
    • This almost feels like a no-brainer but the fact is, many artists are still afraid to go ahead and pull the trigger on their online shops. Would you run a store without a cash register? Then get a shop going on your website if you don't have it up already. And if you still don't have your own domain yet, Etsy is still a viable option to start collecting some coins. Make it easy for people to spend money with you. Trust me, it works.
  5. You haven't asked for the sale.
    • The last point I'll make today, but also the hardest. It's so difficult to translate online that you're not just painting for fun, that you're not just a hobby artist. One of the best ways to do this but also the scariest is to actually ASK "Would you like to purchase this painting? If so, email me or DM for purchasing details". Or better yet, put a price right next to your image along with the details and title. This is a subtle but crucial shift that puts you in a category of "professional artist (as in you are collecting money in exchange for your work)" and not just another hobbyist with a smart phone.

Access the recording for an in-depth look at how I transitioned from a hobby artist to a full-time professional artist in this recorded workshop. Bonuses available as well for additional support!

Paint on,

Amira xox

Fear & Being a Full-Time Artist

Fear.

A familiar frenemy for most of us. And an all-too-common companion in our studios, businesses, and lives. This blog post is a short opening on a topic that I've been discussing a lot lately.

Last night I did a talk with ModernThrive on selling art online and I decided to lead with the four letter word itself.

Why? 

Because I think if you can get comfortable with feeling fear, the fear of making an ugly painting, facing rejection, making mistakes, and occasionally failing, that will set you apart as a professional artist. Here's a short clip from the workshop:

 

While necessary at times, fear has no place in our art practices. When I'm working on a painting, I push myself to move past my comfort zone every time. It's so easy to get attached to paintings in the creation stage but I truly try and practice detachment until I am completely satisfied with the result. Basically, if it's good, I ruin it. I paint over it. I push on.

I ruin something good in order to get to something great. It's a scary process but it has paid off well for me artistically. And I believe it starts to trickle into other areas of our lives at well. 

As a small business owner, I make a lot of decisions. Most of which there's no clear right or wrong answer. It's mostly about seeing what works (or what doesn't) and then applying that insight into future choices. What works for one person's audience or clientele will not work for mine and I think it's important to keep that in mind when we're comparing ourselves to other artists and brands.

You can be successful and do it in a completely different way than other people in your same industry. 

And in many cases, you should. We should be willing to be a unicorn. Go out on a limb, and take the road less traveled. 

It can certainly pay off right away, but it will always pay off in the end if you're doing it for the right reasons.

How do you deal with fear in your studio? I would love to hear from you!

To create this post, I decided to partner up with @methodhome as part of their #fearnomess campaign. I've always enjoyed their soaps and with the many chemicals I use in my studio, it's nice to clean my hands with something people-friendly, animal-friendly, and non-toxic. Do you any of you love their products also?

Are You An Optimist?

That's a serious question.

I've been thinking about this lately. I don't think I've ever shared this publicly, but I used to be a very negative person. I was always seeing the glass half empty, always the "realist." But a few years ago, I faced one of my most difficult challenges in life yet, and on top of that I was away from my support system in a foreign country. If I stayed depressed and hopeless, I don't know where I would be today. So, I adopted this sink or swim mentality and went head-first into fulfilling my dream of being a full-time artist. What did I have to lose?

You know what's remarkable about when you have nothing to lose? You have everything to gain. I let go of being a perfectionist and realistic painter, and started creating high-vibe, uplifting abstract art to lift my own mood. I painted day in and day out using the most high-frequency colors I could find. And not only did it impact my personal levels of happiness, but art turned me into an optimist. Go figure.

I know this month may feel rough. Heck, 2016 put most of us through the ringer. You've lost the person closest to you. You moved homes and switched jobs. You've seen yourself grow in ways that you weren't even aware of. And you've seen your weakest points and realize how much personal work you have to do going forward.

Maybe you've just been consumed by the news and genuinely sad for the world. I spent a solid day a few weeks ago just crying in bed. Tear stained pillow and sheets is not a good look on a Tuesday. Trust me.

And then I got up. Because I had a painting that a new collector purchased from me all the way in Malaysia and I knew she was waiting for it.

(Above) A new figurative piece on my easel this month

I started to paint a bit. I started to share again. Because I don't "want" to be an optimist, I have to be. I must operate from a place of hope and faith even when I'm afraid. We all do.

As I sat on the floor painting last night, I felt truly blessed. I know that no matter what, I can choose to surround myself with beauty and hope each day. I can create something beautiful out of nothing. And I can connect with people all over the world because of art.

As you head into the week, I won't flood your inbox with Black Friday demands to buy NOW, now, now! Haha. If you have any questions how to collect an original piece of mine, I know you can ask me.

What's lighting me up lately? I'm putting together a gift guide this week to show all of the new art, accessories, and calendars that I'm so proud to share this year. You can expect that email probably in the next few days. I'm also preparing for my very first online painting course to help inspire others to create and share their gifts with the world in 2017.

And on Monday, I will be doing a big pop-up shop over on Instagram. There will be lots of new paintings and other things to shop for right from your cell phone. So come join me then.

Thank you all for being apart of this journey with me! I couldn't do this without YOUR support, so I am so fortunate for your presence. What's lighting you up lately?

Onward,

Amira