Amie de N fiber piece

I had the privilege of being the opening presenter at the Make.Art.Work series back in January. My topic, my specialty, was goal-setting. I got to be with the artists enrolled in the sessions held in Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford. I challenged them to come up with a pie-in-the-sky opportunity that would change their lives forever. We had dynamic interchanges and commitments to take the next right action in the direction of that dream.

amy + column

Amy de Neergaard with Sculpture

On Sunday I had the good fortune to run into two of the artists who had attended. One of them, Lisa Keskinen, was exhibiting her art at a gallery in Cornwall, CT. Among her pieces was a mock-up of a public art installation that she had ‘dreamed up’ during my session. I was beyond thrilled to hear that it was in progress.

Attending her show that morning was Amelia de Neergaard who filled me in on what’s been happening since she attended my class this winter. I asked her to write up what she’d been doing, and she kindly obliged. I believe her response will be inspiring and informative to anyone who ever gets stuck:

At your workshop, I made the goal to develop a website before March 1st, something I’ve been intending to do for a couple of years. Deciding which company to use–there are several that offer templates for art portfolio websites–was the first hurdle. Finding one that allowed you to customize it so it didn’t look like all the others was next. Checked out wordpress–lots of customizable variations but need to learn how to use it. Signed up for lynda.com. Sat for 2 hours just learning how to link the domain name to the website. There’s got to be an easier way, besides hiring someone to do it (cost is a factor, and as a former graphic designer, I want to learn how to do it myself).

In the meantime, out of a need to accomplish something more quickly, I decided to look at some of the artist residencies I was considering applying to. A deadline of March 1st was for the Haystack Open Studio Residency, a new, free program for artists who want to work on their own in beautiful studios overlooking the ocean in Deer Isle, Maine. I’d  been there several times in the past to take a workshop in a specific media, usually paper making or fiber-based sculpture. The “open studio” in the title means that you can explore different media and work in one or a variety of studios– printmaking, metals, ceramics, fiber or wood.

I knew that I thrive in this environment, having worked 12 hours a day in past years, energized by the challenge and inspiration of this community of artists. No menial chores, no distractions, and wonderful food served three times a day. I applied: uploaded images, references, statements, resume, etc–and three weeks later was informed that I was accepted!

Another perk was seeing that the list of selected artists included two highly accomplished artists whose work I have admired and had considered taking workshops with in the past.I’ve been reading your blog off and on for several years, and appreciate your words of wisdom. “Start from where you are” is my favorite and gave me permission to ignore the myriad inner voices that try to tear me down– “I’m not good enough, I’m too old, I don’t have time…”

Lately I have been applying for grants and shows more often, and succeeding, much to my surprise. I’ve been letting my passions carry me, and not letting my fears control me. This has been a gradual climbing out of a very “stuck” place. When I finally got unstuck and took action, well, things started moving forward. I am also realizing that I have to learn to set goals and recognize dreams. Too many years of relying on somebody else to make decisions and set goals, left me just going from task to task, and helping others fulfill their dreams.

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