Artistry in Action 2017- Summary, Homework & Notes- Class #3 4/10/17

Hello all,

Thanks for a very interesting class today.  Here are the class notes, starting with what we covered and followed by the homework assigned today.


We started the class with an amazing video referred by Robert.

Then each person paired up with a partner to talk about setting a personal artistic goal to accomplish in the next 10 weeks.  Everyone wrote these down.  The assignment is to check in with each other about the goals 1x per week.  It can be  before or after class. I noted that the things to remember when setting goals are: figuring out the next steps to accoplishing them, determining how you will know if you succeeded.  And how you will measure your progress?

We had a brief discussion about networking.  I made the the proposal that it might be better to think about the process as “starting conversations.”  There are many ways this can happen.  You can pose a question to a group (such as on Facebook) and see what responses come back.  Or you can go to a place where conversations will be happening and take part.

We talked about Mindset. I talked about the many ways a fixed mindset can hide out.  We talked about the 4 steps to incorporating a growth mindset and the homework in this area.

I handed out the PDF Evaluating Your Skills. 

I asked students to continue working on the assignment where you list the skills used in your art.  Expand these by dividing them into the following 4 areas:

  • What are your Primary Artistic Skills?

  • What are your Secondary Artistic skills?

  • What are  your Non-artistic skills- artistic, physical, cognitive, specialized and business-oriented?

  • What Unique skills do you have?

Here also is a link to the excerpt I referred to today from the “Making Your Life As An Artist” book that we are reading about leading with your mission.

HOMEWORK  (Refer to Master homework list for all homework assignments).  Here are the things we talked about today.

1. Mindset followup assignments:

A: This week identify 1 fixed mindset thought. Apply the 4-step exercise for changing fixed mindset thoughts that we looked at in Astrid Baumgardner’s post. Be prepared to discuss in class.– Due Monday, April 17

B: As a followup to last week’s assignment to make a list of tasks/skills required in your art and rate your current level of those skills 1-10.  Take one of the areas where your level is below what you would like.  Do some journaling about how you might apply the growth mindset to improve your level of this skill. Be prepared to discuss in class – Due Monday, April 17

3. Evaluating your Skills Assignment

Read the “The Savvy Musician” handout about the entrepreneurial mindset that I passed out in class.

Evaluating Your Skills

Expand the list of skills you have have already begun into the following 4 areas:

  • What are your Primary Artistic Skills?
  • What are your Secondary Artistic skills?
  • What are  your Non-artistic skills- artistic, physical, cognitive, specialized and business-oriented?
  • What Unique skills do you have?

4. Prepare your Elevator Speech– Describe what is important about your art in 60 seconds or less.  Lead with your mission. Write it down. We’ll practice delivering it on Monday – Due Monday April 17

Can you state in simple terms  the core principles of your art?  What is it about? What do you do? Can you touch on “the Universals”  These are the larger answers to the question “why do we do what we do? The universals help us and others to see what our art has in common and what it has to offer to the lives of people very different from ourselves.  Can you make this part of your elevator speech?

5. “Survey the Field” Exercise – Look up 6-8 individuals who do what you aspire to do.  Start a list that includes their names, brief description of their work and the professional affiliations.  Be as specific as you can to your particular goals and/or your mission.  Just because someone practiced the same art form you do doesn’t mean they embody the goals you aspire to reach.

Submit assignment by email by Friday, April 21th,  Bring print out to class for discussion- Due Monday, April 24



Excerpts from “Making Your Life As an Artist” by Andrew Simonet

Here are 3 excerpts from Making Your Life As An Artist” that relate to our in-class discussion of the role of art in our culture, and making your Elevator speech.


Our Role in the Culture

Artists are the only people who contribute new knowledge to the cultural realm. Others can refine, popularize, or synthesize our research, but we discover new cultural information.

That is a sacred responsibility.

We live in a time when we are inundated by images: pictures, language, videos, stories, music, bodies.

99% of those images are made for one reason: to get you to buy something. We artists are responsible for that tiny sliver of images that can be made for every other possible reason: cultural, spiritual, political, emotional.

In an age of image overload, this is a sacred responsibility.

Our Role as opposed to the Effect of our Work

“One more thing: our role as artists is different from the effects we have on the world.
Artists have a lot of effects on the world: our work impacts education, citizenship, multiculturalism, urban renewal. But those are effects of our role; they are not the role.
Our role is to ask rigorous and reckless cultural questions, do our research, and share the results. When we do our role well, all kinds of other things happen. We invigorate cities. We spark important, difficult conversations. We educate. We inspire other fields. But if you evaluate (and fund) the arts based on those effects, you quickly distort the sector.

An analogy: addiction programs in a mosque or church or synagogue can be hugely successful. But what we if funded these places of worship based on their ability to treat addiction? What if we resourced them based on the effect (addiction recovery) instead of the role (center of spiritual life)? First, you’d get some pretty weird churches and mosques, bending over backwards to prove they were curing addiction. And, eventually, they’d lose effectiveness. The effect (addiction recovery) would diminish as their role (place of worship) was neglected.

Effects are great. But our role is more important.”

Leading with your Mission

“Your Mission
Every artist has a mission, a purpose bigger than yourself, a generosity. No one gets into this work for the money or status. Not for long, anyway. Artists begin with something to give to the world.
It may be a way of seeing or listening.
It may be pushing embodiment or questioning Big Cultural Narratives.

When we lead with our mission, more people connect with us.
And it makes us more powerful and more fulfilled.”

CIVILIAN: “What do you do?”
ARTIST: “I make postmodern dances for the stage.”


CIVILIAN: “What do you do?”
ARTIST: “I’m interested in what is happening to our bodies in this age of digital devices. Are we connecting or disconnecting?”
CIVILIAN: “That’s so interesting because I was just…”
CIVILIAN: “What do you do?”
ARTIST: “I make large-scale figurative paintings and installations, often site-specific.”
CIVILIAN: “. . .”


CIVILIAN: “What do you do?”
ARTIST: “I’m looking at all of the stuff we own, the things that fill up our homes. Where does it all come from? Does it keep us safe? Does it overwhelm us?”
CIVILIAN: “Yeah, I was just telling my friend the other day that . . .”

-Andrew Simonet from “Making Your Life as an Artist

Artistry in Action 2017- Summary, Homework & Notes- Class #2 4/5/17

Hello all,

Thanks for a very wide-ranging class on Wednesday.  I feel like we got the term off to a good start. Below is a summary of our class discussion. The homework that was introduced in this class, and whiteboard photos from the class.  See you all next week.



We started off the class talking a bit about the role of volunteer boards in the arts.  I mentioned that boards are one of the key component of all non-profit (and many for-profit) enterprises. The role of the board is to govern, administer, fundraise and support the organization.  Boards are a great way to see the inner workings of your field.  They need a range of talents to function well. You don’t have to have prior experience.   You don’t have to have a lot of money, just an interest and willingness to be involved.  (See whiteboard photo)

I gave the class 2 questions to reflect on for the coming week. These are ideas that we will talk about in next week’s classes.  One addition to the homework found below is the following short assignment.

Take at least one of these items and post your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post

  1. What conditions/environment/attitudes do you need to set up for you to do your best work?

  2. What is an audacious choice you could make that would forward your work?

I shared a bit about my audacious choice to trek a piano into the Elliott State Forest.  If you are interested you can hear more about it on this Think Out Loud Broadcast.  I’m in the final 15 minutes.

Next class we will spend some time discussing the blog posts. I gave you to read this week. If you haven’t already read them, I encourage you to do so. I’ve started taking a look at your responses and am enjoying the different perspectives people are offering on the questions. These posts bring up central questions we grapple with.  How we approach them will affect how we perceive opportunities surrounding us to bring our art into the world.   I encourage us to examine these issues from different sides.  To try on different decisions, and talk to others in order to help us see flexibly and think non-dogmatically will help us in pursuing our path.

We divided into groups of 3 or 4 and had small group discussions on the following questions:

  • What are your expectations for your future in the arts?
  • What is the role of Art in your life?
  • What are the myths about art and artists in your field?

Some of the class responses are in the Whiteboard photo below

For the remainder of class i talked about some of the long term homework assignments.

Details and due dates for these assignments be found on the Homework Masterlist page

  • I introduced the concept of Mindsets.  Many have found these ideas around mindsets as transformative.  I think it is particularly impactful for artists, as we were often subjected to the fixed mindset growing up, and can benefit greatly from employing growth mindset thinking.

HOMEWORK- Please check the homework page on the blog for the definitive list of all homework for the term.

  1. Read the following 2 blog posts about Mindset

Basic information about mindsets

4 steps to achieve the growth mindset

A. Write a one paragraph summary of the Fixed & Growth Mindset – Due Monday, April 10

      B. Take a week and notice your thoughts.  Where do Fixed mindset thoughts come up?  Keep   a log and bring it in for group discussion in class- Due Wednesday, April 12
2. Start a log or journal- as is suggested in Steal like an Artist, Not graded. but you can share what you want to – Goal is to write in it every day
3. Make a list of tasks/skills required in your art. These can be intrinsic to the job, but also supportive. ie taking auditions for a classical musician, managing skills for a bandleader. Rate your current level of those skills 1-10. How can you apply the growth mindset to improve?  – Due Monday, April 10
4. Write your own obituary exercise.- Due by email, Friday, April 29
5. Life Goals Notebook/Life plan back to front.  Stage 1 Outline – Due Weds. April 19


Check the Reading Assignments for the term to see what upcoming readings are due.  Order “The War of Art” & Living & Sustaining A Creative Life from Amazon. Everything else can be downloaded from the blog page.

Artistry in Action 2017- Summary, Homework & Notes- Class #1 4/3/17

Hello All

Nice to meet you all in class today.  I’m very excited about this exploration this term.

This email/post is an example of what you can expect to get from me after most of the classes.  It includes notes & comments from class discussion, homework that was assigned that day, photos of the board notes from the class.


Class #1 4/3/17


  • I went over the syllabus & the blog.  Here is a link to the syllabus

  • I went over the required reading for the course. Here is a link to the required reading list where you can download or find purchasing information

  • Everyone gave their name, degree, described their artistic practice and one thing that is going well about it.
  • I talked about my attendance policy–Please let me know in advance of class if you are going to miss that class session.
  • I mentioned that I like to start each class with some art. So bring examples or links to things that have inspired you recently or that you would like to share with the group.


  1. Respond to the following 2 questions to me via email by Friday, April 7.  My email is

1. Regarding your connection to your art: Where are you solid? What are you clear about now- about your process, about what you know you want to do, about what you’ve mastered?

2. “What is one big challenge to you doing your art?”  Do you have an Achilles heel? Something you are afraid might hold you back or that you know you have to overcome?  For me it is modal comping in my left hand.  I overheard someone say ‘I’m a jack-of-all-trades, haven’t mastered any of them.”  This is the kind of reflection I’m looking for.

2.  Read the  weekly blog posts found at the link below by next class.  Respond to one of them in the comment section of the blog page.  Due Wednesday, April 5

3. The following are the first required reading for the class.  We will be discussing these in class on the dates they are due.  To download or get links to purchasing the texts go to

Artistry in Action  2017 Reading Assignments for the Term

1. Read “The War of Art” at least pg 1-40 Due Monday April 17

2. Read “Economies of Life” -Chapter 3  (PDF on the Class Readings pg)  Due Wednesday, April 19

3. Read “Making Your Life as an Artist” (PDF on the Class Readings pg)  Due Monday April 24


A in A Board Photo-Class 1

Artistry in Action 2017 Class #1- The Week’s Blog Posts & Articles

Here are the Week 1 blog items. Please read or watch by next Class Weds April 5. Most should open up in a new page. Return to this page and post a comment on at least one item in the comments section below


Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment-

Define your goal (your final destination) – then contact someone who’s there, and ask how to get there.


“What if you can’t Get Paid for doing your art?”

“Beware of turning Hobbies into Jobs”

“Arts majors jump ahead of tech grads in landing jobs”

What can you really do with a degree in the arts?

AMANDA PALMER/“Nothing for Money”

AUDIENCE  “Why should they come?”


How Are You Thinking?

An thought-provoking (no pun intended) meme passed on my one of my students that contrasts between the product of a fixed mindset (immature thinking) and the thinking that the growth mindset engenders (mature thinking)   How are you thinking? FullSizeRenderMeme

Additional Links of related Interest

This was submitted by Danielle.
Writer bell hooks reading from her book, Art on my Mind, Visual Politics. 

Women Artists: The Creative Process

This was submitted by Carolyn

This is an article from a magazine called Modern Luxury that featured articles that span the gamut of the art world in the Bay Area from economics to art schools to recent tech world influences on the art community.  It basically breaks down the finances of eight working artists in the Bay Area and briefly discusses some of their work, their pitfulls and pinnacles, etc. It really just lays it all out there, which I think is extremely relevant to the way you’ve had us break down and categorize potential finances.

This video was submitted by Andrew. It touches on the community subject we’ve been talking about in class.

Oregon Arts Commission ABC Guidelines & Funded grants

Below are the guidelines for Oregon Arts Commission Arts Build Community (ABC) grants.   Review these guidelines and then look at the 2-3 sentence description of successfully funded grant projects which are in the PDF’s linked below.  You can choose any of the years listed.

Be prepared to talk in class about why you think they were funded, (or questions about why they might have been funded) based on these guidelines.

Purpose of the Arts Build Communities Grants
Arts Build Communities grants support the arts in local communities and the involvement of the arts and artists in community development. The grants recognize the expanding role that arts organizations play in the broader, cultural, social, educational and economic areas of community life. Support is provided to arts and other community-based organizations to form alliances and partnerships to strengthen communities through projects that connect the arts with local issues and opportunities.

Projects from communities that are underserved by arts services will receive priority for funding. Underserved communities include communities whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Successful community arts projects connect with broader community development issues and goals. The most competitive Arts Build Communities grant projects illustrate the connection between artists, local arts resources, and community development.

Solid arts and community development projects reflect local partnerships, local impact, and careful project management. While projects may access resources outside the community, this program’s emphasis is on building local capacity to strengthen the arts in a community. The ABC Grant program is broader than an arts project grant program. It is committed to fostering partnerships and strengthening the arts in communities across the state.
Projects must support the integration of the arts and artists with community goals and may include new initiatives, new program development, or the expansion of an existing arts and community development project.

This program will not support the construction, purchase, or renovation of facilities. However, pre-development, design fees and community planning activities are eligible for support.

Links to PDF’S of funded grants

ABC FY15 Guidelines

ABC FY14 Guidelines


Legos & You.Inc. from “Lessons from a Streetwise Professor”

These are paraphrases of two articles from a great book on Music Entrepreneurship from one of my former professors  Ramon Ricker.  They are equally applicable to entrepreneurship in any artistic field.


You know what they are, little interlocking pieces of plastic that can be combined in an infinite number of ways.  With Legos you can make things like buildings or vehicles.  If you don’t like what you make, you can continually try to improve it by rearranging the pieces; or you can take your creation apart and construct something else.  In [art] and in life, the knowledge and skills, both musical and non-musical, which you have acquired thus far are like Legos.  You put them together to create and build a career.  You build “you.”

Of course there are many [artists] whose Lego kit is almost a duplicate of yours.  Your job is to find some pieces that are unique and special.  And just as your first attempt at constructing something with Legos may be insipid. oddly shaped and not very creative, your first attempt with your music career may be similar.  You may find that you are missing some blocks, but through self-study or with a mentor or a teacher you will be able to find what you need.

The point is that if you have [artistic]  talent, and if you have worked hard to develop it, you have the building blocks necessary to create a career.  The first step is to be [artistically] and technically solid [at your craft].  Add to that some entrepreneurial savvy and you’re on you’re your way.

You, Inc.

Professional are, in effect ,a small business, offering goods and services just as any small business would.  Imaging a newly minted clarinetist from a top music school.  She may be a fine player, but what does that clarinetist really offer the marketplace?  Who will pay for what she can do?  Importantly, for the clarinetist, will it provide enough money on which to live?

Our clarinetist’s product is playing music on the clarinet, but what style of music––orchestra, chamber, klezmer, Dixieland, jazz?  If the only product she can offer is soprano clarinet (B-flat and A) and she only plays the classical and orchestral repertoire, she better be the best in the world, or at least on the way to becoming the best in the world. This type of musician is equivalent to a boutique store––offering very high quality goods but with limited selections and sharply focused on one thing.  Over time, to remain relevant, our clarinetist must expand by continually adding to her repertoire––putting more clarinet product on the shelves.  This keeps her challenged and familiar with recently composed music.  And just as a Chevrolet comes out with a new model of the same vehicle each year, our clarinetist needs to keep her core product in top shape and continually improving as she revisits previously performed pieces, making them better and better. If she wants to diversify and offer more products, she might add the smaller E-flat clarinet or the larger bass clarinet.  This creates more possible income channels for her. But as she adds these product lines the quality must be kept at an undisputedly high level.  She has to really command these instruments and not just dabble in them.

Let’s say our clarinetist has added these other instruments to her product line and things are going well.  She’s getting some work playing chamber music and is getting some calls to sub in the local orchestra.  How does she expand her store?  That depends on her background and interests.  Maybe she plays in a woodwind trio or quintet.  If she has the talent for and interest in composing and arranging she could write for her ensemble. If the music is well received, there may be a publishing avenue for her to follow.  If she is handy and dexterous she may do some minor instrument repair work.  But whatever additional products she pursues to make herself more attractive to the buying public, it is crucial for her to maintain the high quality of project that she is becoming known for.

So you see, building a career as a professional is like stocking a store with products.  None of us wants a dingy, musty store that just sells beer and cigarettes.  We want our store to sparkle, to exude quality and to be a place where the customer can get the finest there is.  As our clarinetist stocks her store, she begins to establish a reputation.  Marketing peopled say she is creating a brand.

Thought for the Day: “Sing in your own Voice”- Hugh McLeod

This quote is from cartoonist Hugh Mcleod from his book “Ignore Everybody.”

Picasso was a terrible colorist. Turner couldn’t paint human beings worth a damn. Saul Steinberg’s formal drafting skills were appalling. TS Eliot had a full-time day job. Henry Miller was a wildly uneven writer. Bob Dylan can’t sing or play guitar.

But that didn’t stop them, right?

So I guess the next question is, “Why not?”

I have no idea. Why should it?