great egret, casein on panel, Kelly Leahy radding

Of Air & Water, great egret, casein on Ampersand Aquabord Panel, 8″ x 8″, 2016

The beauty and benefits of an artist/art career coach relationship…

We all need a helping hand sometimes but we also need to give ourselves permission to seek out and accept that helping hand.

A little over a year ago, I enrolled in Gwenda Joyce’s Art Ambassador “YES!” program. I had been working hard at my art with some successes but without a solid idea of where I wanted to go with my career beyond the vague goal of ‘gallery representation’. I was at a crossroads of who I wanted to be as an artist. Becoming more and more frustrated with my own inability to nail down ‘just what it was’ I was searching for both creatively and career-wise. My online presence was solid, but not going anywhere; I had a website, a moderate presence on social media but no plan in place to fully take advantage of what my online presence could do for me. To put it mildly, I was stuck.

The Rainbow Boys – watercolor on vellum from 2014. I began a creative search to capture more of the essence of my subjects rather than just a faithful rendering.

Searching for Creativity

I found Gwenda when I signed up for a free creative marketing seminar called The Thriving Artist Summit in January 2015. It was collection of talks by creatives, mentors and art professionals.

Gwenda’s pro tip was “The artist’s dilemma of having to do everything yourself to make your art, build your audience, market your art and sell it is overwhelming. Get help and support. You don’t have to do this alone.”

Her words really resonated with me, so it was perfect timing when I began to receive emails about Gwenda’s “YES!” program. I answered a resounding “YES” to every question she asked, but I worried about the cost of the program. I finally asked myself am I serious about being an artist and making my art? Do I need a better plan to organize and get my art to more people and markets? The answer to both questions was of course, “YES”. So I gave myself permission to ask for help and Gwenda was that helping hand. I considered it an investment in myself and my business. I made a promise to myself to seriously commit to sticking with it and divided the payments to fit into my budget. And I have not looked back as I have moved forward in leaps and bounds that far outweigh the cost of the program!

The “YES!” program gave me a solid foundation to plan out my art business.  From the creative directions I was taking my art, to very specific practical exercises for my art marketing. Each person’s needs are different and I applaud Gwenda for being so adept at finding out what those individual needs are.

Looking Inside Myself

Gwenda was able to make me dig deep and confront the reasons I was seemingly stuck and not moving forward. She is very skilled at recognizing difficult issues and coming up with a game plan to solve them. The “YES!” program gave me ideas and insights to apply to my own marketing goals and even though they are some of the hardest things for me to stick to, we continue to discuss ways to fit them to my schedule and my personality. I also love that we brainstorm ideas together. Tossing around ideas with someone who understands a creative mind and the art business is refreshing and invaluable as we tend to be so isolated in our studios.

Kelly Leahy Radding, Great Blue Heron, casein

On Being Still – casein on paper, 30″ x 22″, 2016

Unexpected Benefits!

A huge benefit for me is that Gwenda holds me gently accountable to the goals I set for myself. The fact that we discuss monthly goals to achieve by our next check-in has been extremely helpful for me. I used to have a lot of ‘I need to get that done sometime soon’ tasks but never seemed to get to them. Now my monthly goal goes on my sticker board by my table where I see it everyday. I schedule in the time to work on it. A great incentive to actually get it done is knowing that I will be discussing my progress with Gwenda in a month! In the past year I have consistently completed tasks and goals that are part of my master plan. Becoming more organized has allowed my creativity to expand in some very exciting directions. I have had successes and opportunities come my way this past year that I believe, with Gwenda’s help, have a lot to do with finally allowing myself to believe it when I say “I am an artist”.

Kelly Leahy Radding, red fox, silverpoint, casein

Betwixt & Between, casein, watercolor, gouache & silverpoint on handmade paper, 2016

I now have a wonderful advocate, friend and mentor walking my creative path with me. Thank you Gwenda for your steady and sturdy helping hand.

Tiny Dancer, female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, casein on panel, Kelly Leahy Radding

Tiny Dancer, female Ruby-throated Hummingbird, casein on panel, 5″ x 7″, 2016