Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for November, 2013

987: Magic Hour

Friday, November 29th, 2013

You know that time of day when the light seems to glow? Just before the sun sets and the day ends? I love that moment. Everything is golden, but only for a moment.

I think that’s where we are with this project. It’s almost the end, but not quite. I still have a few more paintings before the sun fully sets, but we’re definitely nearing twilight.

It’s Magic Hour.

photo (64) photo (65)

986: Bright

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
It’s officially and properly here.

I have some friends that put up their tree on November 1, but I still hold off on holiday decorating until the day after Thanksgiving.

This year Chris and I will be away for most of December, so we’re waiting to get our tree until we return. But I still hung my wreath on the door this weekend.

It’s bright and merry. Just like this time of year.

That isn’t always the case. Some years December is bleak and cold– and then I feel guilty that it’s not as merry and bright as it should be.

Eventually I left that little bit of guilt behind and somehow since then December has been full of happy. Maybe it’s because I ignore the idea that my feelings need to conform to expectations. If you’re less than thrilled about this holiday for whatever reason, just know that I understand completely.

However, I’m hoping your holiday is full of merry and bright. No matter what you expect.

photo (63) photo (62)

985: Gray

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

All month I’ve read Facebook statuses about gratitude and Thanksgiving.

This week, there have also been a lot of posts about shouldsand shouldn’ts. With stores opening earlier every year in the U.S. after the holiday, everyone has an opinion.

“You shouldn’t shop on Thanksgiving!”
“You should boycott stores that open early!”
“You should consider people who are alone on the holiday or hourly workers who miss those wages!”

The world is full of shoulds and shouldn’ts. The thing is, it’s very rarely so simple. Even in the case of stores open or not, there are many variations of gray and so many different perspectives.

What’s best for you may not be what’s best for someone else. And I guess I’m hoping we can focus more on gratitude and leave the judgment out of the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you.

photo 2 (26) photo 1 (26)

984: Ink

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

My studio table is covered in tiny little bottles of ink. It’s so much fun. I’ve always loved ink.

My favorite pen is a fountain pen that I’ve converted the ink cartridges to orange. I love it so much.

Using ink has become one of the most fascinating parts of this project. I love the way the ink changes when I apply heat to the wax.

But as I started painting yesterday, I noticed the shapes of the bottles. They were really pretty. So instead of painting with the ink, I decided to make the ink the subject of the painting.


photo 1 (24)

984: Canyons

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

A few years ago, I went to the Grand Canyon. Maybe it’s because it was crowded and hot, but I was disappointed. I’d seen it from the air, and expected it to be much more impressive from the ground. Chris and I renamed it the “Decent Canyon” instead.

A few weeks ago, when I was flying back from North Carolina I took a few pictures from the plane. It was late afternoon and we were flying over the deserts of the West, and the shadows fell so beautifully. I got to thinking about expectations, and how something can look so different depending on your perspective.

The past few years have looked decent from the ground. When I’m in each project, I can see all sorts of ways I could improve it. I see all the ways I’ve gone wrong or let someone down.

But when I look back with a wider view, it actually seems pretty Grand. Four years ago, I couldn’t even call myself an artist. Now I’m ready to tackle a very large, very public project. After it’s finished, I’ll stand on a stage and talk about it in front of 700 people.

Every painting, every email, every day of work these past four years have prepared me for this. It’s going to be a grand adventure. No matter how I look at it.

photo 1 (23) photo 2 (23)

982: Stretch

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

We’re in the final stretch here. Since several of you have written in with questions about what happens next I thought I’d take some time to explain my plan for the next few weeks.

As you see, we only have 18 paintings left.

But I’m not quite ready to end yet, so I’m going to make this transition slowly.

First, I’m going to do something that I haven’t done in four years. I’m going to take Thanksgiving off. Next week, you’ll get a painting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but then Thursday and Friday I’m going to focus on celebrating and spending time with awesome people.

After that, I’ll be back for another week of painting during the first week of December.

That will bring us to the final ten. And I want to do this right.

Chris and I are going to be traveling during December, and usually I paint a few paintings ahead so that we stay on schedule. This time, I want to be fully present for those last ten paintings, so I’ll send you a couple of snippets of other things I’m working on while we’re away and when we return then I’ll throw myself in to those final ten paintings with enthusiasm and focus.

My last painting of this project will appear in your inbox on January 1, 2014.

We’ll talk more about what happens after that later, but for now I just want to enjoy this final stretch.

photo 1 (22) photo 2 (22)

981: Priority

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Almost everyone who hears about this project says something like, “Wow, I could never do that. You must be really organized and disciplined.”


Definitely not.

In fact, it’s 10:30pm and I’m just getting around to typing this up. I finished the painting earlier, and I knew what I wanted to say, but then I taught all afternoon. Once my last student left for the day, I finally made myself some dinner and worked on a commission that is on a tight deadline.

Suddenly I looked up and it was very late, but I hadn’t even started writing. Organized and disciplined I am not.

But I know you’re going to be reading this tomorrow morning no matter how long this takes me tonight, or what else needs to be done. Because this is my priority.

I feel like this is an important part of the mystery to explain. As I end, I really want anyone to know that they can do something like this too. It’s not that I have any special skills– I just stuck with it.

photo 1 (21) photo 2 (21)

980: Seasonal

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Last week, I announced what was happening in the next season of my work. I have to admit, I’m feeling a little uncertain and nervous. This season has been a really good one.

Many years (and seasons) ago, I was feeling pretty useless and unfruitful. I was working in a mall, driving a Toyota Corolla and not really accomplishing anything with my life. I was also sixty pounds overweight. Everything seemed pointless.

But someone very wise pointed out that it was just a season. Trees aren’t expected to bear fruit every season, and if trees are held to such a low standard then maybe I could give myself a little more grace, too.

Sometimes I try to be evergreen, but even evergreen trees are constantly letting go of things they don’t need. And they only produce pine cones. I try to remind myself that it’s okay to have a fallow season now and then, if that’s what you need.

Allow yourself to go through each season and enjoy them all.

photo 1 (20) photo 2 (20)


This is the opposite side of my painting panel– yesterday as I was getting ready to paint, I decided to experiment. I really like the shadow box effect.

979: Connection

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

I know I say this a lot, but it really is true. Hearing from all of you on the other side of this screen really is one of my favorite parts of the project.

I especially love knowing that my work has somehow inspired your creativity, too. It’s so awesome to find out about the work other people are doing in the world.

Diana and Tom have been readers and encouragers of these daily paintings since very early days– and they’ve made suggestions and encouraged me all along the way. Diana is the author of several books, including a children’s book called The Cat Who Came For Tacos– which is the best book title ever.

Diana’s most recent book, A Dog’s Best Friend came out earlier this month. I read it over the weekend and it made me smile. Maybe you’re needing a smile today too.

Margarita is another reader and encourager. She writes for PsychCentral and asked me and other creatives a few questions about Creativity and Play recently. You can read the results of our exchange here.

photo 1 (19) photo 2 (19)

978: Postcards

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Yesterday I was talking to someone about this project and she described it in a way that I had never considered before.

She said that she thinks of these images and stories as postcards that arrive in her inbox everyday.

For four years, I’ve attempted to describe this project in one sentence and failed miserably every time. If I describe it simply as a daily painting project, I don’t fully capture how important the words are to the work. But it’s really not a simple email of stories either.

It’s a postcard.

I wish I had thought of that four years ago. Heck, I wish I had thought of that at all. It’s really smart. I’m grateful.

Here’s the other side of today’s postcard.

photo 1 (18) photo 2 (18)