“Sacrifice”, a drawing of George Floyd, graphite on paper, by Jessica Libor 2020.
I’m very excited to announce the launch of a podcast, “The Inspired Painter with Jessica Libor”.
If you’re an artist who wants to create an amazing and fulfilling career and life, this podcast is for you! I’ll be sharing inspiration that has worked for me and art-world insights and tips. My goal for this podcast is to help you feel in control of your art career and empowered to be the best artist you can be.
The podcast will be available on Podbean, Apple and Spotify. I hope it brings you value!
With love, light and creativity,
artist advice, artist planning, artist vision, cal newport, contemporary realism, create your best 2020, deep work, goal setting, goal setting creatives, how to be an artist, how to plan your work as an artist, james clear, plan 2020 artist, planning
Hello my beautiful fellow creatives! I am so excited for this year. Are you excited? Isn’t it amazing that the future is in your hands, ready to be written?
I recently saw a post that said, “Your future lays before you like fresh fallen snow, take care the steps you take, for every step will show.” It’s SO true—every little thing we do in our life eventually compounds, and eventually the invisible will show itself, even if it is not obvious at first. The invisible work is so important, especially for us artists!
I am so grateful for everything that I was able to accomplish this year. I had a solo show which was very successful, in a beautiful gallery I was super proud of! I launched my first online course, began teaching as a college art professor, was featured in Beautiful Bizarre and other art publications, had my highest revenue year from my art so far, and fulfilled a lifelong dream of hiking in the redwoods! I made a painting about it too, as you can see below 🙂
“Solace,” oil and metal leaf on panel, by Jessica Libor (me!)
Although these things only take one sentence to write, they actually took months, and really years of action, to come to fruition.
For instance, my solo art exhibition took hundreds of hours to prepare. In the very un-glamorous privacy of my studio, I spent many late nights working away at details.
Each decision to work on my painting instead of go out with friends or watch Netflix, compounded the results of my exhibition. This is just one example of how I got the results I did this year.
The online course took months of writing, filming and preparation before it launched. Likewise, I would not have been able to get a job as a college art professor had I not gone through years of schooling and getting my Master of Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Although the hard work can seem grueling while you’re in it, eventually you WILL see the results of your efforts (or non-efforts!). And I don’t want you to think that I am bragging when I tell you this: it’s always an uphill battle for me to continually challenge myself and work on my long-term goals.
One book that really changed that this year was the book Deep Work by James Clear. This was actually a suggestion of Alessandra Maria, an artist I really respect who I actually interviewed on the blog earlier in the year. In Deep Work, the author talks about how distracted we are as a society, and generally as humans. He talks about the value of committing deeply to a task for a set amount of time, and entering the state of flow. When we get into deep work, that is when the really inspired artwork comes to fruition.
Below, one of my pieces from this year, “Fields of Gold,” oil and gold leaf on panel.
This year I initiated methods of working that were blocks of time dedicated only to my artmaking. I wasn’t allowed to look at my phone or computer, get a cup of tea, or call or text anyone.
I simply blocked off two hour sections of time and created intensely. And you know what? It was HARD. I struggled with it! Just like when you’re running an extra mile and your body protests because it isn’t used to it, my brain wasn’t used to such dedication (I know, it’s kind of embarrassing!)
I had the urge to go for a walk, check my email, text a friend, or otherwise distract myself from the pain of focus. Just like doing a math problem, my brain has to work extra hard when creating a realistic piece of art—getting the right values, colors and proportions. I could feel my brain stretching as I focused for these chunks of time.
Below, a brain-stretching artwork I finished, “The Butterflies,” oil and 23 karat gold leaf on panel.
Even though it was hard, the results I got this year were far and away beyond what I had gotten in previous years. I created some of my favorite pieces. I remember one particular day, I blocked off a few hours to create. I got into such a state of flow that I did not realize that 6 hours had passed. I did not stop until the piece was complete. I was shocked that I was able to finish a large, technically detailed piece in just 6 hours. It’s probably my favorite piece this year! And it’s a physical piece of evidence of what you can do when you compress time and get into that focused state of flow. You are able to accomplish far more than you could imagine!
Below, “Darling,” the piece I finished in 6 hours of super intense focus!
So as we step into the new year, ask yourself what you want to experience in your art career in the next 360 days, and even in the next decade, which is 3,600 days! Here are a few ideas with how to break that down. I have three steps for you that I believe will be helpful in casting your vision as you move into a new era of your artistic career.
I realize that when you’re trying to achieve new goals, old habits can be hard to overcome. That is because the brain is wired to seek pleasure, avoid pain, and be as efficient as possible. This is great when we are in the wilderness, avoiding wild animals and the cold (pain), looking for fruits and berries and somewhere soft and safe to lie down (seeking pleasure), and looking for the shortest way to get there (being as efficient as possible).
These hardwired instincts are actually really good because they have kept us alive as the human race for centuries. However, in the modern world, we have to be aware of our instincts and how they can hold us back. You see, in the modern world, and more particularly as a modern artist, avoiding pain could look like procrastinating on a project because of the effort it takes.
Seeking pleasure could look like watching Netflix to escape your reality or snacking on things that aren’t optimal for our health because of the short term pleasure.
And, seeking the most efficient way possible could look like trying to get success before you’ve put in the work and made artwork you’re actually proud of. You see, we are no longer running from bears and foraging for berries to survive (well, most of us, anyway!) but those instincts are still there.
And if we plan from our pre-frontal cortex, which is the smart part of our brain that allows us to plan, rationalize, and create, then we can overcome these basic instincts while still appreciating them and thanking them for keeping us alive! We can transcend our most basic state by identifying our goals and dreams and working to achieve them.
And what is art all about if not a transcendence beyond ourselves?
Another thing I like to think about as an artist is your duty. If you have decided to be an artist, then you have a duty to express your vision to the world. The world needs to see your creations and will be a better place because of it. It is your sacred duty to fulfill that job that only you can do.
One last thought is to create a vision board that includes images of your top 3 artistic goals for the year. That may include an image of the gallery you hope to show at, the kind of artwork you’d like to make, places you’d like to visit, and images and words that reflect who you’d like to be as you accomplish your top 5 goals. This can be helpful to keep motivation going as you do the hard work of the day to day grind of working on your goals! Especially as visual artists, we can be stimulated by visuals, and this can help us get in the mood to focus and remember why we are doing it in the first place.
Ok, I hope that this has been super helpful to you as you turn over the next decade and choose how you’d like to spend your next year! It’s my heart for you that you achieve your wildest dreams as an artist, and live a happy and fulfilled life along the way. I know that this is going to be your best year yet!
Lastly, I have a gift for you that I think will be extremely useful to you as you plan out your year. I’ve created a free Artistic Visioncasting worksheet, and mini-course, with everything you need to plan out your goals and dreams. There’s questions to prompt you, so you can break down your goals in an organized way. I created it specifically for this blog post so that you can get the most out of it! Just click the link below to download it.
Now go forth and create!
With light, love, and creativity,
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I am thrilled to announce that three small pieces of mine are showing at Gristle Gallery in New York.
These pieces are all inspired by myths and fairy tales. Each scene is 2.5″ x 3.5″ and is oil on arches paper mounted on cardboard, with accents of real 23 karat gold leaf. The first is “Forbidden Love,” a romantic interlude between a mermaid and fisherman.
The second is “Odette,” a stylized painting of the story made famous by the ballet, “Swan Lake.” Each day Odette turns into a swan.
The third is “Forest Royalty,” inspired by the rulers of the forest in some alternate universe.
Each piece is $100 and can be acquired by contacting Gristle Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Just finished up a calming session of candlelit yoga before heading back to the studio. Art can be so mental; you’re in your head so much thinking of compositions and colors and textures and ideas…once can’t forget you need a body to do the creative work, so yoga breaks are an essential! That being said, I’ve been working nonstop on a little mini holiday collection! It’s very inspired by night time and starlight on snow, winter pines and crescent moons. I will be releasing it on Black Friday with a timed discount to my email subscribers first before releasing it on social media. If you’d like to get the first look, click here and you’ll be on the list to get the special discount.
The picture above is what my complimentary gift wrapping looks like for the holidays! All orders that are handmade will arrive looking similar to this package 🙂 I’m obsessed with these wrappings…silver purples and icy blue satins, and shimmering tulle!
And now a little preview of my handmade ornaments…snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes…silver white winters that melt into springs, these are a few of my favorite things! The picture above is a sample as well as the video below (it’s fun to see it sparkle!) It’s been such a delight creating these unique ornaments, each one hand signed and painted by me. These are part of the Winter Starlight collection! Join my email list by clicking here to get access when they are released.
More from the Winter Starlight collection. Original one of a kind handmade paintings with accents of 23 karat gold. Drops exclusively to my email list on Black Friday with a sweet little deal…click here to be included.
And another gem below, from the Winter Starlight collection…”Blue Pines.” It was such fun sourcing these vintage frames and dreaming up scenes to fill them with!
This one is under glass, as it’s watercolor and pastel on paper. The Winter Starlight collection will be released on Black Friday to my email list and 10% of the sales will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the leading research hospitals in developing life saving cures for children with serious diseases. If you’d like to see the collection when it drops, click here to be included!
I am so excited to announce my solo exhibition hosted by the Da Vinci Art Alliance on September 4th, 2019.
There will be light bites and drinks provided. This event is free for all and open to the public! Registration is encouraged by clicking here.
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Dear readers, during the month of May I did a creative exercise; daily sketch works! Every day for 30 days, I created a new piece of art. During this period I experimented with soft tones in inks, watercolors, and gilding. Originally, I had planned to do a daily piece for 90 days. However, I found that the time and creative juices that it took to create a daily piece was being sapped away from the creative energy I needed to create my larger pieces for my solo show coming up. So, I capped it at 30 days–but will certainly look forward to doing this again!
Below are a few of my favorite pieces from this time. If you are interested in any of these pieces or would like a link to the full available collection, please email me at email@example.com.
Let’s talk about joy and happiness and how it relates to creativity and the artistic life. Often times the artist is always portrayed as tortured, struggling, incapable of a balanced life and swinging from one extreme to the next: wild inspiration to extreme depression and bouts of blocked creativity. Don’t fall for this image! While artists often have a more sensitive temperament that leads to our creative expression, we can pay attention to ways to keep our own mental health positive, which will ultimately lead to better quality of life and output. Many long term artists that I have studied lead very happy lives that included artistic fulfillment, personal happiness and comfortable living. These artists who seem to have long and rewarding careers (artists never retire, am I right?) have a balance of life that keeps them engaged and happy. Examples: John Singer Sargent, Beatrix Potter, Georgia O’Keefe, Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, Cecilia Beaux and many more. So what are some things you do to keep yourself happy and grounded on the roller coaster ride of being an artist? For me, a run or walk outside works wonders. Also, writing out my thoughts, and listening to uplifting audiobooks or music. Being grateful for the blessings I currently have in my life always lifts my spirits too. And, listening to my feelings, sleeping when I need to, seeing friends when I need to, and keeping the frame of mind that life needs to be lived. Then we can paint about it! Thoughts?
Stay joyfully creative!
This piece I finished today! “The Gardener,” oil on panel, 11″ x 14″. This portrait painted from life shows a woman surveying her handiwork over the landscape; there is pride and satisfaction in tending the vast gardens, but also a weariness with battling the endless cycles of nature. The romantic grisaille landscape provides a soft contrast to the strength of her features. This piece is being submitted today to the 14th Annual International Arc Salon. Wish me luck!
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It was an honor to paint this commission wedding portrait for a recent project. The finished piece is oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″. I started the piece before the wedding, and painted the bulk of it during the couple’s wedding reception at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was wonderful speaking to guests about my process and being a part of the couple’s wedding day! I feel honored to have added a joyous experience to the occasion by immortalizing the moment in a painting.
If you are interested in commissioning a painting, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details.