Nicole Chilton

Nicole Chilton is a multi-media abstract artist and writer living in Southwest Missouri. She works quickly and intuitively, capturing emotion rather than reality, and uses vivid color and floral motifs as inspiration. Her current project, The Dream Diary Project, explores dream interpretation through art journaling, and can soon be found in workbook format for all dreamers.

The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

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Art Journal Workshop

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Does a blank page intimidate you? Do you feel a sense of pride when you hold something hand-made, or finish writing your deepest darkest thoughts into a diary? How do you feel when you use up all the ink in a pen, or trace your fingers along the spines of well-loved books? Do you daydream about MAKING, but stress about your lack of time?

If any of these statements rang true for you, I invite you to participate in my first ever art journaling workshop on Thursday, December 14th at 6:30pm. I will help you determine your creative goals, and place a beautiful journal in your hands that you will then get to start filling immediately with prompts, pages, ideas, and inspiration. Where you go from there is up to you!

I hope you’ll join me! For more information, you can register HERE. The workshop is $50 and includes includes a bound journal, access to supplies and materials to get you set up, and take-home assignments for when your mind can’t decide what to put down on paper. Plus snacks. Because I love snacks.

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“With Practice, I think I could make a pretty good pie lattice.” Q&A with writer Elise Winn.

What do you get when you mix together sugar, spice, poetry and prose, a passion for creating, and whimsy?

Elise Winn, that’s what.

Elise is a talented multi-tasker, teaching college courses, putting on literary programming events, baking, writing, and dreaming. She is everything I would aspire to be. I hope you enjoy her interview!

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  • Name: Elise Winn Pollard
  • Current City: Woodland, CA
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? A vet or a marine biologist. At some point it hit me that something to do with writing or art might be a better match than something that would require many years of studying math and science (and keeping it together when animals die).
  • What are you now? I’m a writer, teacher, and co-director of a literary event series, Stories on Stage Davis (http://www.storiesonstagedavis.com).
  • How did you get to this point? So many people encouraged me to follow what I loved—my parents; every magical professor I worked with in college; my mentors at the University of California, Davis; my husband. I’m from a small town near Lake of the Ozarks (soon to be Ozark famous, I’m sure, though my experience of the Lake
    involved less money laundering and a lot more frozen custard—Randy’s turtles forever!), and when I moved to Springfield for college, I was surrounded by people making art and doing what they loved. I don’t know that I would’ve tried to build my life around words otherwise.
  • Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do? For now, yes—I’m a lecturer at UC Davis, where I teach creative writing to undergrads. I never know from year to year if there will be courses available to teach, but I’m enjoying it while I can. The introvert in me would also love to be paid to pet my cats, bake cookies, and write.
  • Current project(s): Figuring out what in the world to include in my first-ever creative nonfiction workshop syllabus, planning Stories on Stage Davis’ fifth season, and writing a novel. I’m so grateful to be able to focus on the novel for a solid chunk of time this fall—first as an artist-in- residence at I-Park in Connecticut, then at the Anderson Center in Minnesota.
  • What are you reading/listening to/watching/making: There are so many books I’m reading right now, stacks that correspond to either the writing or teaching sides of my brain—of course, these often overlap, so picture a Venn diagram: Jesse Ball’s Notes on My Dunce Cap; George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, the Translucent issue of Fairy Tale Review, Kate Zambreno’s Book of Mutter, and Jenny Zhang’s collection Sour Heart.
  • How do you express yourself creatively? Usually through writing and baking, switching from one to the other—my first week in Connecticut, I made a cherry pie. For the past few months, though, I’ve been trying to draw and paint more, to ignore
    the voice that says I’m not as “good” at those things, so why do them? I participated in the #100DayProject for the first time, painting a swatch each day to make a “story swatchbook,” inspired by Courtney Cerruti’s Colors of 2017 project.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? This question totally unearthed a memory of my going to the library reference section to look up celebrity addresses. The first fan letter I wrote was to author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, whose Alice series I loved. I think I got a signed brochure in return. Somewhere I also have “signed” photos from Richard Gere and Kermit the Frog, along with a letter from Gillian Anderson’s make-up artist on The X-Files, who wrote back to tell me the exact shade of lipstick Dana Scully wore on the show. (It looked
    terrible on me.)
  • Drink of choice? A pot of tea.
  • Who inspires you, and why? In other words, who would I send fan letters to now? I’d need lots of stamps. A very abridged list of people who are inspiring me to keep learning and making through their art: Lynda Barry—after reading Barry’s What It Is for maybe the fourth time, I committed to hand-writing/painting a daily agenda for my summer fiction workshop, and that practice ended up transforming my own writing process. George Saunders—this is a Saunders fan newsletter, right? He inspires me not only with his fiction, but also by the way he talks about how to be a better writer in the world, a better human in the world. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice is from George: Stay mystified. Also: Lucy Corin and Kate Bernheimer and Kevin Brockmeier and… I could on seemingly forever.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…): A wirebound mix-media sketchbook.
  • Something you have learned this year? With more practice, I think I could weave a pretty good pie lattice.
  • How can people find you? I check in from time to time at elisewinn.com & bakeclubworkshop.com. Also: @bakeclubworkshop on Facebook and Instagram.
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Take to heart these words from poet CAConrad’s (Soma)tic Manifesto: “It is absolutely necessary, right now, at this very moment, to embrace our creativity. No matter who you are, having a daily creative practice can expand your ability to better form the important questions we need to be asking ourselves about how to best change the destructive direction we are all headed. If you used to paint, paint again. If you used to write poems, start writing again. The potential magic of this world requires our participation.”

Thank you so much, Elise!

Do you dream?

I’m actually talking about literal movies-in-your-head-at-night dreams. What are they like? Do you remember them the next day? Head over to my Patreon page and answer my poll.

Today at work, while chatting with my co-worker, I had to stop and pause. Did I already tell her that thing I meant to tell her? It feels like I did. Or was it my dream?

With all the dream recording and dream enhancing I’ve been doing, my reality is starting to blur into what may or may not be true.

This should be interesting…

Heather Smith Jones

Do you remember the moment when you started a new project and had that a-ha moment, that “this is it, this is what I was born to do” feeling? For my sister Stephanie, it was the day she took her first quilting class. She has always been creatively driven, but it wasn’t until a structured class that she really could grow artistically. Quilting turned into a business for her, which developed into allowing her to focus on multiple mediums at a time. (You can see some of her work at The Lady in Thread or Hornickelhouse on Instagram.)

For me, that a-ha moment came while flipping through a book I checked out from the library, “Water, Paper, Paint,” by Heather Smith Jones. It arrived in my stack at the most necessary moment, when I was struggling with post-partum depression and transitioning into a functioning human with two babies, wondering how on earth I was going to be ME, when I felt the least like myself. The book’s projects are colorful, do-able, and the author made it sound effortless. It felt SO GOOD to pick up that paint brush again, after a 15-year hiatus.

And so today, I am SO EXCITED to share with you a spotlight of Heather Smith Jones!  I hope you are as inspired by her and her work as I have been.

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  • Name:  Heather Smith Jones
  • Current City: Lawrence, KS
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an artist. It was my main interest and strength.
  • What are you now?
    Currently, I am an artist working in a variety of media (watercolor, oil, acrylic, photography, printmaking) and part-time instructor in an arts-based preschool at our local arts center.
  • How did you get to this point?
    I think one thing leads to another. When I was in graduate school I had the idea, as it was sort of pumped into us at the time, that upon graduation I would teach on the college level. I did teach painting at university and then began substitute teaching within the public schools among a wide span of ages. While I was doing that a friend of mine told me about the position where I currently teach. I applied, interviewed and have been working with 3, 4, and 5 year olds since early 2004. Over the years, I have grown to truly enjoy working with young children in a creative environment more than I probably expected.
  • Are you paid doing what you love? If not, what would you like to be paid to do?
    I am paid doing what I love. Since I teach part time I am afforded studio time on other days. I work with galleries who promote and sell my work, sell in my own online shops, do freelance photography, have written a book and contributed to many others, and pick up additional projects from time to time. But, I think artists and (early childhood) educators could be better appreciated and paid more!
  • Current project(s):
    I maintain a few personal projects including a regular sketchbook practice, which I share frequently on my public art Instagram account. I also keep a daily photo and words journal titled “my story today”, where I combine a photo I take each day with written thoughts or prose. At the end of the year I intend to combine the entries into a book. These serial practices express my interest in accumulating specific details into a phenomenological event. Gathering ephemeral moments helps me to see development and patterns within the form of a visible anthology.
  • What pop culture are you consuming? (movies, books, podcasts, etc):
    I enjoy watching anything from PBS Masterpiece, including Endeavour, Poldark, and Grantchester. The most recent movie I attended in the theater was “A Quiet Passion” about Emily Dickinson; for no particular reason we don’t go to movies frequently. I like reading poetry, Wendell Berry, and think I have read all of the novels by Anthony Doerr. I just started listening to the “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” podcast and have always liked NPR’s “Hidden Brain”.
  • How do you express yourself creatively? Watercolor or any visual media, my sketchbook, writing, sometimes baking, arranging things in a space, I love arranging flowers and would like to take a class sometime.
  • Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? I don’t think I have?
  • Drink of choice? Right now I enjoy a nice cup of tea each morning, straight up english breakfast. When the weather gets cooler I pretty much drink tea all day long, though in the afternoon I switch to herbal or non-caff teas.
  • Who inspires you, and why? Well, I have to say young children inspire me, for all the obvious reasons. Their approach to the world is fresh, everything is a discovery. They are imaginative and make connections in ways that are surprising to adults. They don’t have rules for their creativity. When they make something they are immersed in process and experience rather than outcome and aren’t trying to make it look like what someone expects. It breaks my heart when I hear adults say they aren’t artistic, or creative, or can’t draw, or whatever else. I think we are intrinsically creative as children, yet somewhere along the way it is drilled out by external pressures, expectations, criticism, etc. Maybe some simply aren’t interested though, and that’s fine. But for those who are or were, and at some point were discouraged, that is sad to me. I love to hear stories from those who are rediscovering a creative voice in themselves and exploring art again. That too is inspiring. And when people email me that my book, Water Paper Paint, plays a role in that rediscovery, well that’s just the best.
  • Favorite tool to stay productive (for example, a set of watercolors, a specific planner or app, an exercise program…) I think for me this changes somewhat in practice over time but it comes down to a few constants: always having a watercolor palette and sketchbook ready; walking outdoors or yoga, some sort of regular exercise; and keeping a routine.
  • Something you have learned this year? I think I’m continually learning resilience, when I am pushed beyond what I thought I could handle and yet I am still here afterward, that kind of situation. Learning acceptance when things don’t turn out like I planned. To embrace the full spectrum of life, the disappointments and the hopes, the struggles and the mountain tops. To allow myself to feel it even when it’s happening all at once. To live within the tension.
  • How can people find you? People are welcome to follow my Instagram account @heathersmithjones, https://www.instagram.com/heathersmithjones/ where I post most frequently. My website is heathersmithjones.com Sometimes I post on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HeatherSmithJonesArt/
  • What can people do to make the world a better place? Hmmm, I guess what comes to mind is to find what you are good at and/or enjoying doing or find a way to enjoy what you are already doing. See that you have a place and are of value in that work. I think it’s a mindset, one that takes effort to see through your life or at times is harder than other. I remind myself and say, how can I do my best today or how can I help one person today in some way? (This can be hard when I’m grumpy, or stressed, or pressed for time.) Yet, it’s active, and I think with a kind of practice over time it becomes more spontaneous. For instance, I think simply smiling at others, or holding the door open for someone, or thanking people more often, making eye contact, little things like that help connect us and are moments of encouragement. It’s the little things that can feel big sometimes.

Thank you so much Heather!

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Dear Diary…

Ever since I was old enough to write, I have kept a diary or journal. And because of the extreme satisfaction I receive from completing a full notebook (or using all the ink in a pen), I have a hard time getting rid of them, although I probably should.

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{If I die unexpectedly, they are in a safe place and I have a few friends who know where to find them and to BURN THEM.}

A few years ago, I had some deep dark mental health issues, and thought that writing out my thoughts would be good therapy. Turns out, it was quite the opposite, and I stopped altogether. My hands ached to put pen down on paper and my brain churned wanting to puke out its thoughts, so earlier this year I decided to work on a new form of journaling: a visual diary. I already knew I wanted to make intentional creating a part of my daily habits, but I had no idea that starting my mornings off with art journaling would be so therapeutic.

With a new year quickly approaching, I’m eager to get my calendar set up for 2018’s journal. I learned so much this year, and I’m ready to share the process with you! So many of my friends have expressed concerns that they aren’t “artistic” or they could never do it. But trust me, it’s not true!! If you can scribble and if you have a few minutes of free time to tune in and zone out, I know you can be a successful “art journaler.”

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I have culled information and ideas from dozens of books about art journaling, and I think I found the perfect blend for my time commitment and goals. What works for me won’t work for everyone, but if you are interested in a workshop, I am in the works of compiling a few evenings of art journal goal setting and set-up.

Join me in December {date and time to be determined} for an evening of setting up your very own yearly journal. The workshop will cost about $50, and include a dynamic journal and supplies to get it set up and snazzy to your liking, plus inspirational prompts, brainstorming ideas, and, duh, snacks.

Check back soon for registration!

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Recent posts

  • Art Journal Workshop

  • “With Practice, I think I could make a pretty good pie lattice.” Q&A with writer Elise Winn.

  • Do you dream?

  • Heather Smith Jones

  • Dear Diary…

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