Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for December, 2013

995: Stage

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013


Five paintings left! Thanks for being here with me for this.


Before I get out the index cards, I spend a few days journaling and sketching about my hopes for the year. I think through what I already have planned for the year and what I want to do.I always choose a word as my guiding point for the year. This year, I’ve chosen the word Stage.

I’ll be on stage a few times this year. And my TEDx project will of course be a stage installation, but my theme of the year is about something more.


a point, period, or step in a process or development.
a section of a journey or race.
a raised floor or platform, typically in a theater, on which actors, entertainers, or speakers perform.
in geology, a range of strata corresponding to an age in time or a a period of time marked by a characteristic climate.
present a performance of (a play or other show).
organize and participate in (a public event).
cause (something dramatic or unexpected) to happen.
from the Old French “estage” meaning dwelling or home.One key point: Stages require Actors, and in 2014, I plan to ACT.

For me 2014 is the year of the Stage– and the curtain opens tonight.

Are you ready?
photo (85) photo (84)

994: Steps

Monday, December 30th, 2013


Whew! Last week was a little rough over here. But I’m once again vertical and I’m back with a new painting. Only six left! Thanks for being here with me for this.


I spent most of the weekend finishing up my goals for 2014.Chris and I go on vacation together to plan and review for the year, and I generally leave with a clear idea of what I want for the year ahead. However, I’ve learned that I really need to be back in front of my desk with a pile of blank index cards to properly plan my next steps.

First, I start by clarifying each role– there are eight total and they’re things like artist, teacher, creative learner, family member, and friend.

Then I write a statement about each one that encompasses my hopes and aspirations for the year. I try to be pretty specific. So for example, my Creative Learner role is one that takes up a lot of space in my planning. My goal for that role is:

In 2014, I’ll fulfill my creative learning goals by taking a pottery class, completing another alphabet recipe project, finishing my colorwork sweater, getting my purple belt in TaeKwonDo, hosting six parties, typing 250 journal pages, giving three talks on stage, and attending three workshops.

From there, I pull out the index cards and make a card for each of those goals. Then I think through what the finished result would be and work my way back through every single tiny step to get there. Each goal becomes a project, and each project has dozens of steps.

Finally, once that’s done for every role, goal, and project. I work my way through the cards and create a giant to-do list of first steps. That way I know exactly where to start to begin the year well.

The hardest part of anything for me is knowing where to begin, and once I make that to-do list and break it down in to tiny tiny steps it all becomes much more manageable.

Baby steps will get you far.

photo (61) photo (83)

A Pause for Coughing

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Still seven left! I’ll explain below.

You know how radio announcers have a cough button that momentarily mutes the broadcast, but then allows them to continue as normal? Let’s pretend I have one too, okay?

Over here, our Christmas was filled with orange juice and acetaminophen, because we both have bronchitis. Since hot wax gives off fumes that aren’t too good for breathing, I’m taking a pause today.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a painting I made today from the couch. It’s from a photo I took last week in the Caribbean. Yay for clouds and for iPad painting!

photo (82)

993: Bright

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
Only seven left! Thanks for being here with me for this.


Merry and bright.

Hope your holidays are awesome. (See you tomorrow!)

photo (80) photo (81)

992: Bloom

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013
And now we’re down to eight. Thanks for being here with me for this.

Today is Christmas Eve, and I hope you’re busy with family and all sorts of merriment. So I’m going to keep this short.

Over the past four years, this project has allowed me to bloom in ways I never expected. And that’s the best gift of all. The gift of myself.

Hope your holidays are awesome. (See you tomorrow!)

photo (78) photo (79)

991: Allow

Monday, December 23rd, 2013
Helloooo! I’ve missed you!

I’m back from a glorious vacation filled with bright blue skies and deep blue seas and fluffy white clouds. As you can see, it influenced my painting today. But the big news is that there are only nine paintings left! Thanks for being here with me for this.


One of the hardest parts of painting for me is allowing the work to progress. It doesn’t matter what medium I use, or what I’m working on, I find myself occasionally stuck.

Sometimes I’ll create something early in the work that looks amazing. Maybe it’s the quality of a line in the charcoal sketch of an oil painting, or maybe it’s the way two colors blend in the early stage of a watercolor, but something will happen on a canvas that makes my heart flutter.

And then I have a hard time letting it go. Because eventually, in order to make the painting better, I have to cover the thing that I love. I can’t leave a white space and a patch of charcoal, or just a single thin layer of color. Part of the magic of my work is building the different stages in to one whole and complete piece.

That’s what happened yesterday. The first layer of encaustic is certain to be buried under dozens of other layers of wax, but it was so beautiful. The wax feathered out so prettily and created these delicate lines that sang to me.

I hesitated for a long time about painting on top of it. I didn’t want to let it go, but I had to trust that something better was going to happen as the work developed.

Once I committed to allowing the work to take shape, I realized that the feeling I was experiencing over the painting is similar to the way I feel about this project. It’s a beautiful project, and so many parts of it work for me.

But it’s still early, and I have to allow the work to develop. So I’m going to let this layer go in a couple of weeks and start adding more work to this foundation.

I’m going to allow myself to progress.

photo (76) photo (77)


Friday, December 13th, 2013

This week has been full of naps, sunscreen and goal setting.

Can one of you remind me that I should take vacations more often?

I’ve also been playing a bit with a new medium. I’ve lovedPaper by 53 for a while now, but the digital brush I bought atMuse Art and Design has made it even more fun. I’ve still been “painting” everyday, but this method doesn’t take up any space in my carry-on.

And anything that helps with light packing makes me happy.

photo (74)


This week has been full of naps, sunscreen and goal setting.

Can one of you remind me that I should take vacations more often?

I’ve also been playing a bit with a new medium. I’ve lovedPaper by 53 for a while now, but the digital brush I bought atMuse Art and Design has made it even more fun. I’ve still been “painting” everyday, but this method doesn’t take up any space in my carry-on.

And anything that helps with light packing makes me happy.

990: Weight

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

First, a few housekeeping notes and a little bit of random.

One, ten paintings to go! Whoa.

Two, a reminder that today’s painting will the last for a couple of weeks. I’m taking a vacation! I’m planning to send out a note or two while I’m away, because I think I’ll miss you too much otherwise, and we’ll return to the normal painting schedule on Monday, December 23.

Three, something exciting is happening in the Spring. In between working on the huge installation I’m creating forTEDxCUPortland, I’ll also be making magic happen with a new event! The team that creates WDS is embarking on a new trail! It’s called Pioneer Nation, and it’s going to be awesome. Read about it here. I’d love to see you there!


And now– the painting!

Pigment is one of the most interesting things about creating art to me. The chemistry involved in creating color is fascinating. And the way different colors interact with one another is mesmerizing. One of my students was experimenting with watercolor yesterday and kept getting frustrated by the way the yellow crept into other colors.

Once I explained the differences in weights of the pigments, she totally got it and started having fun. So when I went out to paint later, I decided to try the same experiments in wax.

With several layers, some of the pigments sink into the wax just like ink does. The trick is timing. The wax has to be just hot enough, but if you leave the flame on too long, the pigments sink in to the wax and become dull.

I learned that if I see the colors begin to move, then I have to remove the torch immediately– otherwise it gets too hot and begins to sink. It required a bit of patience before I got it right, but once I figured it out, I had just as much fun as my student did with her watercolor.
photo (71) photo (72)

989: Momentum

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

At the end of every TaeKwonDo lesson, we face our instructor and recite the five tenets. They are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit.

Every time I recite them I can’t help but think about how glad I am that the five tenets aren’t things like jumping, kicking, board-breaking or even knowing my left foot from my right. Because those are the parts of TaeKwonDo that are hard for me.

But this week, I was watching a beginner learn some of the basic moves while I waited to start my lesson, and I realized that those moves come naturally to me now as a blue belt. Of course, I’m learning jumping techniques and they’re really hard for me, but the black belts assure me it will come naturally soon, too.

That’s the marvelous thing about progress. Gradually, with tiny bits of momentum, you can make big changes.

Though I doubt I’ll ever learn my left from my right.

photo (70)

988: Puddles

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Sometimes it’s fun to make a mess without worrying about the consequences. Like puddle-jumping. Yes, your shoes get muddy and your pants usually need to go straight into the washer, but you were probably already soaked, so you might as well have some fun with it.

Sometimes that’s what painting is like. The canvas is filled with color and it’s looking a little messy, so instead of freaking out and running for safety, I decide to puddle jump. Maybe I add a color that wouldn’t normally belong, or take a risk that I wouldn’t normally take.

Just like puddle jumping, that’s when it gets fun.

photo (67) photo (68)