Monthly Archives: January 2014

Wow! Creative Process, Part 3

Wow-Logo-Black-BackEveryday since last time, I have glanced at my laptop wondering when I might get a chance to check in with my dear blog readers.

As many of you know, we have moved our gallery into Santa Fe downtown, and we are in the process of reinventing it – top to bottom.

The name is Wow! and our new sign heads this post.

In a wonderful example of collaboration in creative process, I designed the logo, and Mark added one small thing that had SO MUCH value. He suggested that we make the dot on the exclamation point red.

Not only does this add POP, the red dot is the universal symbol of “SOLD” in the gallery business, so it is a good omen too. Even if you think you are a design know-it-all (my bad), it is always good to consider input from others. You don’t have to take the advice, but if you don’t at least consider it, you might miss out on a game-changer.

The gallery business is all about location and, incredibly, we figured out the other day that this is our ELEVENTH location since 1993. The first was on the ocean on the San Francisco Peninsula, and the other TEN have all been in Santa Fe. Once, we had three locations at the same time.

This is the best location ever and will likely be the last one.

We will not open until Feb 1 and this is the longest time I have ever taken to create a gallery space – especially since the space required ZERO build-out. The building had just been gutted and remodeled, and our space, which is the only retail space in that building, was beautifully decked out to be a coffee shop with an urban/metro feel. No counters or anything – just some very interesting details.

Several thousand people, it seems, have asked us when we will open, and I have had to say I don’t know.

How can you know when a creative project of this magnitude will be good enough to be considered ready for prime time?

And this has brought me back once again, to thinking about creative process and SLOW art.

The world at large, and our nagging inner fishwives in particular, keep cracking that “when will it be done” whip.

Like kids on a driving vacation: “Are we there yet?”

It takes A LOT of fortitude for an artist to “stand her ground” and demand the time it takes to do a thing right.

Especially since many of us are brought up with the idea that art is not a worthwhile use of time in the first place.

In my new found passion – kiln fired glass, if you hurry, you hurt yourself. And, as I have mentioned, each firing takes the better part of a day.

This has been a wonderful lesson for me, and even though paints, pencils, and crayons won’t cut or burn you (probably), no art should be created in a rush or under pressure.

If you only have 10 minutes a day to work on artwork, then devote as many days as it takes.

If you HAVE TO have something finished by a specific date (like for holiday gifts, for example), don’t procrastinate. Start early so you can enjoy the process.

That process is where all the fun is.


Only THREE days left to save $15 each on Sketch Journal One and Two.

As of February 1, they will return to normal tuition of $65.

Here is the Sketch Journal One description page (and a FREE lesson can be had by clicking the link in the menu bar of this blog):

And here is the Shopping Cart Link where you can find the Sale on both:

Sketch Journal Two picks right up where we left off and continues along the easy drawing and painting adventure.

I will be back to share before and after gallery photos with you and show you some of our amazing artists as soon as I find another minute.

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Creative Process, Part 2

leafdrawingWhenever I create, I watch myself carefully to note the steps I take.

This practice comes from being a life-long teacher. How can you explain how to do something if you aren’t keeping track of the steps?

I am always trying to improve my teaching by making it more and more simple and easy to understand, so I have come up with several methods of art instruction over the years, and my newest is most closely aligned with how creative process actually works.

I was sketching and painting Wildflowers last Summer – meandering from one thing to another along the creative path of that, when it struck me that this very thing I was doing, was the best way for someone to learn to draw and paint.

I learned long ago, in the process of teaching PhotoShop, that it is a more effective thing to learn what is necessary to the task at hand, and put it to use immediately – than to learn “all about” each part of a process and then try to store that knowledge for when you actually need it in the future.

That last sentence was very wordy, but I think you know what I mean.

So, while sketching my Wildflowers, I was thinking how much fun it would be to teach drawing like that – just meandering from one thing to another, and asking the students to just follow along – step-by-step.

In the process of drawing and painting one thing, you may learn a little bit about perspective, a little bit about shading, a little bit about watercolor and color usage – but not EVERYTHING about all those things.

Just enough to get that flower done nicely.

Of this was my Sketch Journal One Workshop born. It  was a great success, and is now a self-paced WHENEVER workshop.

On February 15, I will launch Sketch Journal Two to continue the journey.

It will pick up from where we left off and continue with 15 more lessons over a 30 day period.

My biggest challenge has been to explain to you how fun and effective these workshops are – without actually showing you.

Seeing is believing after all.

So, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, I am sharing an actual, complete lesson from the Sketch Journal One workshop – FREE for everyone.

I chose a lesson which demonstrates how easy it is to draw an ordinary thing, and how many little pieces of art knowledge you pick up in the process. Of course, some of the knowledge was presented in the lessons preceding this one, but you will be able to follow along just fine.

AND to sweeten the pie even more, I have put the workshop on Special for the rest of January – $15 off the $65 tuition!

To make this  more fair to students who already took Sketch Journal One at full tuition, I am extending the same discount on Sketch Journal Two if you register during January.

That discount is in the Shopping Cart here:

AND anybody feeling that they will probably want to take both workshops, can purchase both during January for the reduced tuition.

Without further ado, here is Lesson 10 from Sketch Journal One. I hope you have a lot of fun with it:

If you want to learn to draw and paint – particularly for the sake of your art journal, this is the workshop for you. If you know how to draw and paint, but want new idea starters, tips, and incentive, this workshop is for you also.

Sketch Journal One, Drawing and Painting for the Art Journal and Sketchbook.



Creative Process, Part 1


I read blogs more than I read anything else these days.

I would never have thought that would happen, because I don’t have time to poke my nose into other people’s lives, and in the beginning, blogs did not have much content.

But now, there are many blogs that are content-full and make me think, make me smile, and make me feel creatively inspired.

And I want this blog to be like that.

I think it already is, to be honest, but I want to take this further in 2014, and enrich the experience for you – and thus, for me as well.

In that vein, I am going to spend a few posts exploring creative process because it is a fascinating concept, and is quite present in the atmosphere of late.

Art Is a Journey . . .

I know that sentence has become a cliché through overuse, but that does not make it less true.

Art IS a journey, and creative process defines the paths we take while on that journey.

People say a lot of stuff to me (most of it good, thank heavens), but two things have been said so often that they stand out . . .

1. Where do you get your ideas? (I always say “the shower” but there is more to it than that.)

2. How do you do what you do? I wish I could follow you around for a day! (First of all, you would get all lost because even I don’t know where I’m going, but I could tell you a little bit about how I do what I do, and I will.)

Ideas are THINKING, and making art is DOING,

THINK and DO. Remember those books in early grade school? They had the right idea.

You may notice that often, when you are DOING some art, you are interrupted by THINKING of new ideas that may be related – or may not seem to be related at the time.

You are interrupted because we cannot actually multi-task, so your brain switches channels momentarily.

ASIDE: Want proof that we can’t multi-task?

Sit in a chair with a magazine or something similar in your lap. Raise your right foot off the floor. Rotate your foot in a clockwise direction.

While doing that, write a number 6 with your finger on the magazine.

Your foot will change direction because drawing a six means moving in a counter-clockwise direction, and your brain switches channels there.

Try this and try it with other people. I have run into only two folks who can do it (with GREAT effort), and I don’t know which planet they are from, but most people realize they can’t actually think and do two things at once.

SO – back to creative process.

When your brain leaves the task at hand to offer a new idea, it is making connections in new directions.

SEEING these connections and FOLLOWING the directions they suggest, is at the heart of creativity.

I will be sharing many examples of this process, and by the time I am finished, all of you will recognize it in your own journey. And embrace it – because it is good for you.

Today, I will start with a simple example.


I love rainbow colors and always have. I think most people do.

As an artist, I spend a lot of time looking at and appreciating art.

And it inspires me.

The next THOUGHT, common to all creatives, is “I would like to DO something like that.”

Here comes the copying/stealing/plagiarizing ugly subject, and yes, I know about the book, and will be talking about that later.

The truth is that great artists have always copied other artists.

If they are true artists, they do that to learn, and if they are true artists, you would never know the copy is a copy – because of creative process.

By the time they have finished a piece, they have followed the suggestions and directions of their own creative muses, to the point that they have created an entirely new thing.

And so it goes.

Follow me, if you please, along this path . . .

One of my first fused glass projects was this set of coasters, which you have already seen . . .

ravencoasters2I REALLY love rainbow colors against black and a lot of my graphic design over the years has demonstrated that.

So, when I saw this plate on Pinterest, I really liked it, and wanted to DO something similar . . .


The process is pretty basic, and it’s a very generic design which could not be copyrighted by the maker, but a funny thing happened on the way to DOING my “copy”.

(This plate can be found at the Glass Haus. by the way)

DO: I got out my black and colored glass and cut the black rectangle.

THINK: I would like colored squares better than the bars used in the original plate, so . . .

DO: I cut a square each of bright red, yellow, green, and blue, to . . .

THINK: line up along the plate with some space between them.

Already, we’re different, but watch what happens then . . .

DO: I measure things and find that the four squares will not fit the length of the plate because I have cut them too big.

THINK: Bummer – I wanted all four colors on the plate.

THINK: Then, I was “interrupted” in my pouting by the idea of cutting each square corner to corner both ways, and switching the parts so each square had all four colors.

DO: I cut them and arrange three of the composite squares on the plate. Three of them WILL fit. I pick up the piece and head for the kiln. The glass squares slide so they are all catty-wompus.


BIG THINK: I am transported suddenly to my childhood and my favorite toy  - and probably the beginning of my love for bright colors and art making . . .

colorforms04Dang! That little girl even looks like me! Do you remember Colorforms?

colorformsartOMG – I even remember how they smelled (that plastic off-gassing again, no doubt). This is not my masterpiece but I made many like this, I’m sure.

Quite a few years ago, the Museum of Modern Art reissued the “original” set and I bought it for $35 (crazy, huh?) just to have it. Unbelievably, I was able to find it in the closet. You can still get your own set on Amazon . . .

Original Colorforms

DO: I ran back out into the studio with the Colorforms set.

THINK: YES! A series of glass pieces based on Colorform designs.

At the beginning of this post (so very long ago), you saw the first two pieces in the series. here they are again . . .


Here is the inspiration plate again . . .


See what I mean about creative process?

Is my plate a “copy”? Absolutely not. (The shape doesn’t count, by the way. These are done on standard glass slumping molds, and you cut the glass to fit them.)

Is this a new idea? Yes, because nobody has done Colorforms in glass.

However, this “new” idea is made up of all the parts that came before – all the way from my childhood (which is a LONG way) to my seeing that plate on Pinterest last week, and all contributing factors between.

This was a long and winding path, and just one part of my artistic “journey”, but it only happened because I was tuned in enough to follow the switchbacks and recognize the connections my brain was making in its creative process.

I hope I haven’t bored you quite yet, because I have a lot more to say on this subject – AND I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Just Sitting Around Reflecting . . .

oldgreenchair2“Just Sitting Around Reflecting” © Jessica Wesolek 2013

It’s my favorite holiday again.

I LOVE new beginnings, although old endings are often pretty complicated.

Last night, around seven, we finally closed the door on our empty gallery space here in Eldorado. We are exhausted to the point of numbness.

Much of our display furniture is now at the new downtown space, and artists will be bringing us beautiful works to fill it.

Because the new gallery will only offer handmade, the local animal shelter resale shop has been greatly gifted with a ton of new merchandise from the old one. I love their name : “Look What the Cat Dragged In”.

Mark’s truck and my new van are full of the things that nobody knew what to do with at the last moment, but we will figure all that out.

I loved all your name suggestions for my van, by the way – thank you!

I decided on “Van Go Blue”. Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters, of course, and blue is my favorite color. But an added bit is that my Alma Mater is the University of Michigan, whose rallying cry is “Go Blue”.

We have already taken our first road trip together.

On Friday, I knew if I did not take a break from all this, I would go nuts. I also had two free hotel nights earned from frequent stays at Comfort Inns, and they would expire on December 31.

So, off to Durango, Colorado, to visit my sister-friend, Valerie, in her beautiful gallery (Earthen Vessel). We always inspire each other, and this time was no exception. In just two days, I got re-energized.

I also learned that as much as you think you know, there is always something very important that you don’t know. And you don’t even know you don’t know it!

I had a road service incident because the new van would not start. I thought the battery had somehow run down. Maybe I left the map light on overnight or something?

But the Roadside Assistance Hero said the battery was fully charged. “Try starting it again,” he said, and when I did, he said “Do you have your foot on the accelerator?”

I have had my foot on the accelerator since I was 16 (in more ways than one!).

“Yes,” I said. “Is that a problem?’

Who knew that since about 20 years ago, you don’t touch the accelerator when starting the engine?

EVERYBODY but me, it seems.

I got away with it before, but this vehicle is a lot more sensitive, I guess.

All’s well that ends well, and you learn something everyday.

2013 Was a Very Weird Year . . .

I don’t want to revisit the trials and tribulations, but I am very happy to welcome 2014, and look forward to a very GOOD year.

I am surprised by how many people are glad to see 2013 in the rear view mirror. Did you have a good year?

I loved the Santa Fe Journaling Retreat more than I can even express, and I like that all the rough spots in 2013 had happy endings.

I also will mark 2013 as the year I discovered glass as an art medium, a fact which will change my life in some significant and exciting ways.

But otherwise, I’m glad to say good-bye.

Where Did All This STUFF Come From?

Of course, the gallery move has brought this home, and also, trying to make room in the studio for the new kiln and glass supplies.

Even cleaning out the old van to trade it in for the new.

How in the world did I let this much STUFF pile up around me?

It’s unbelievable.

Even my website has become crowded and disorganized while I wasn’t looking.

So, 2014, for me, is “The Year of the PURGE”.

That’s at the top of . . .

My Resolutions List:

Get Rid of Stuff and SIMPLIFY.

Be MINDFUL in everything I do, and don’t let my moments go unnoticed or unappreciated.

MORE blogging.

SLOW art. Slow art is so beneficial that I may start a movement.

Like Slow Food, every aspect of slow art becomes more special, more rewarding, more pleasurable, and more digestible when you take your time doing it.

Be GRATEFUL – and EXPRESS that gratitude. Even saying out load to yourself that you are thankful for your blessings, makes you more aware that you have those blessings, and therefore, makes you appreciate life so much more.

And, acting on that last one, I want to THANK all of you for your company, your kindness and cleverness, your thoughtful comments, and for sticking around and being friends for all these years.

I do APPRECIATE you, and I hope that your 2014 will be your most creative and BEST year ever.

Happy, Happy New Year!