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

Become an arts patron today! Click here to help support the publication of The Dream Diary Project, a bedside journal to help dreamers unlock their hidden potential. Patrons receive exclusive behind-the-scenes looks, original content, and personalized dream interpretations.

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Goal Digger

It might seem intuitive to many, setting goals and achieving them. Make a list, check the task off, and you’re done, right?

Or so it would seem to me. But over the past few years, I’m finding that the tasks keep growing and growing, and I’m not getting any closer to my professional artistic goals. I’ve started feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, and that I’m doing everything wrong, or out of order.

Enter my BRILLIANT FRIEND ASHLEY, who has really helped put goal setting in a new light for me.

Over almond lattes, and maybe followed with pizza and wine, we talked professional goal setting. Ashley is a DIY blogger and influencer, and has taught herself, through real-life experience and trial and error, what most MBA students spend two years and thousands of dollars to learn.

The bulk of our conversation, surprisingly, *is* intuitive, but it takes some time and organization to figure it out. Ashley asked me to pinpoint what I love to do, and what I want out of it. In my case, I love to create, and I want to earn an income off of it. But with 20+ current projects on my table, I don’t even know where to start or finish. I stretch myself too thin, making a dollar here and a few dollars there, but not enough to justify the stress I put myself through. And isn’t creating supposed to be joyous?

Ashely has really helped me understand the need to focus, focus, focus, and work towards an ultimate goal. This new focus means only one thing: NEW OFFICE SUPPLIES!!!

I know I need a good notebook to collect all my thoughts in. Yes, a project management Excel sheet is probably better and more efficient, but I’m a pen-and-paper gal, and a notebook addict. So off to the store I go.


Ahhh, there is nothing so wonderful as a composition notebook. I love these Decomposition Books, and since I’m slowly turning into a witch, I fell hard for the astrology-themed one.

Before I started writing anything, I knew I needed to map out the following:

  1. Goals (no matter how lofty or unattainable they are, they are still goals to strive for)
  2. Current Projects (I’m overwhelmed by the projects I’m working on, and I was curious how many were goal-oriented)
  3. Projects that get me closer to reaching my goals

I also picked up a set of filing tabs, so that I could organize my notebook. (Have I mentioned how much I love office supplies?)

In my notebook, I tabbed Page 1, and wrote down on the top GOALS. I listed those goals, and then asked the question, “How do I obtain them?”

Even my most lofty goal has a plan now. “Have an off-site studio space” is now a multi-bulleted task list including “earn $10,000 a year for rent.” How do I earn that $10,000 in art sales? So then I list the projects that could potentially provide an income. And then I get more and more specific with each project.

And maybe, just maybe, I also color coordinate. Maybe. (I do. Because I love any excuse to buy new pens).

So, for example, “Publish a Book” is a way I can potentially reach multiple goals that I set.  The simple task (haha) of getting a book published, now looks like this:

  1. Publish the Dream Diary Project
    1. Write a propsoal.
      1. Intro
      2. Create a table of contents
      3. Provide Sample chapters
      4. Make 20 high-quality images
      5. market research
      6. why I am the person to write this book
      7. ancillary products
    2. Research publishing companies
    3. Research self-publishing options

And each one of those bulleted items has its own 30 points.

Get specific, toots.

I have spent about five hours so far organizing this notebook, dividing it by project, then by due dates, and then setting a deadline for ALL my current projects. Starting June 1st, I’ll be focusing on a whole new set of projects, with the hope that I can start reaching my professional artistic goals by the end of the year.

Do you have goals set for your side hustle or passion? Where do you find inspiration or motivation to reach them? Do you have any specific tools you use, or have you found a method that really helps you stay on task? I’d love to hear!

Good luck!

January Gratitude: Hygge

Every morning for the past few years, I’ve jotted a quick note of something I’m grateful for. It helps start the day on a positive note, and puts my mind somewhere cozier.

This year, I decided to focus each month with a theme. Get really specific. Inspired by one of my Christmas presents, “The Little Book of Hygge“, I decided to write down all things “cozy” (the definition of Hygge – pronounced hoog-a).


Being cozy is an enormous luxury, as I found out by these daily notes. Warm water, dry socks, and sweets aren’t something any human should take for granted, because not everyone is so fortunate to have these.

Hope you enjoy and find ways to embrace your good fortune of hygge!


#2 #14 #16 on the list – homemade, hand-whisked whipped cream on top of indulgent hot chocolate with coffee

  1. warm water
  2. coffee
  3. dry socks
  4. candlelight
  5. yoga blankets
  6. pashminas
  7. fireplaces that work
  8. rainy nights
  9. brisk walks
  10. grilled cheese
  11. kid snuggles
  12. reading by firelight
  13. book shopping
  14. SNOW DAYS!
  15. dinner with family, sitting around the fire
  16. slow cooking (making whipped cream by hand)
  17. easy chairs
  18. a warm house
  19. jazzy radio
  20. a drawer full of clean pj’s
  21. hugging my husband
  22. thunderstorms
  23. amber-scented incense
  25. well-loved scarves
  26. tarot by candlelight
  27. brunch with my daughter
  28. a clean bedroom
  29. misty mornings
  30. writing letters
  31. golden milk

{featured photo of the talented Ren’s writing spot}

Dream a little dream…


Every morning in January I wrote down a dream fragment. It makes no sense without context (and even if it had context, it’s a dream, so probably very little sense could be made…). These fragments become poetic and visual, and inspiration for future projects. I’m inviting you to take a peek into this hidden world of mine.

Included are a small sampling. To read more, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter!

“She gently unwrapped the mummy’s gauze, hoping to find hidden treasures.”

“I embraced the fact that I went the wrong direction, and decided to have some fun in London.”

“The raccoon laughed menacingly as he smashed the glass pane of my back door. He really wanted my coffee.”

“Sitting high out of view, I watched a girl try not to fall in love with a boy. Despite her best efforts, she fell.”

“Every time I laid down a card, my deck multiplied in size.”

“The only working microphone broke, and the audience pitched in to help fix it so the band could play again.”

“My face is not my own and I am aware of that.”

Familiar Stretches of Dream Highways

Throughout 2017, I have been exploring visual representation of my vivid dream world, one that I have only, until recently, done through writing. Some days the works are representational, literal illustrations of what occurred during a dream. Others, such as in this series, are more abstract, conveying movement, emotion, and that frustrating feeling of grasping at something just beyond reach.

The painting process is fast-paced and intuitive, letting the paint blend and mix, drip, and dry. I use traditional tools: acrylic paint, canvas, an expired driver’s license (to scrape paint across the canvas), and my fingertips. My choice of color tends to be an emotional choice, relying on bright colors and iridescent layers of white.

Throughout this artistic process, I am excited to see fragments of my dream world peek through. A few monster teeth poking out here. A snake slithering over there. The blurred edges of time and space, overlapped by unexpected symbols. It is an exciting and thrilling experience.

The pieces shown below are available for purchase. Contact me if interested. n dot chilton at gmail dot com.


“I knew I had been here before.” Acrylic & Mixed Media on wrapped canvas. 24″x24″ $250


“I was lost and in the middle of nowhere.” acrylic & mixed media on canvas. 15″x30″ $250


“Unbeknownst to me, I had Power.” Acrylic & Mixed Media on wrapped canvas. 30″x40″ $350


“The Sky turned all sorts of colors.” acrylic & mixed media on gallery-wrapped canvas. 24″x30″. $300

Meet Author Melanie Faith

What a treat to start out this new year with a Q&A from Melanie Faith. A prolific author and photographer, she also teaches and inspires. I hope you enjoy!


Current Location: Mercersburg, PA

What did you want to be when you were little? I wanted to be a writer. I also thought about teaching, which has also become my real-life vocation, in many different forms and with students of many ages via my freelance business and online classes.

What are you now? I am a writer, a teacher (I teach for Southern New Hampshire University’s MA in Creative Writing and tutor at a private high school), and a freelance instructor and manuscript editor/critiquer.

I’m also a photographer, auntie, and daydreamer.
How did you get to this point? Writing almost every day is the short answer.  On the more technical, day-in- day-out side: I have a BA in English with a concentration in professional writing as well as an MFA in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. I look at writing, photography, and publishing as a journey that is ever evolving, step-by- step, and which takes constant practice, curiosity, and engagement. (Plus, let’s not overlook: it’s a boatload of fun and personally fulfilling.) In 2000, I started submitting work three times a month for possible publication, a practice which I’ve upheld. When I started submitting, it was mostly poetry and short stories. Now my submissions include those genres along with essays, flash fiction and nonfiction, children’s books, articles about writing, and (very often) photography. I should also say: I got to this point with the support of my family, students, friends, and fellow writers as being a creative is largely a solitary endeavor but many people behind the scenes add crucial support and encouragement as I keep pursuing my artistic vision. It takes a village to raise children, as the saying goes, but I think it also takes a village to sustain the encouragement it takes to keep an artist chugging away year after year and breaking new ground after many rejection slips. It also helps to have a community when attempting the fine balance between public art and being an introverted, private person.

Current Projects:  I like a lot of variety, so I’m always cooking several projects at once. I’ve become the queen of the simultaneous submission packet, since it often takes months to receive responses from publishers, agents, and editors. After many years of wanting to put together a portfolio of my published writing and photography, just this month I worked with a web designer and finally launched a website of my work, so that’s pretty huge. { }

I look forward to updating and fleshing out the site with more samples and creative content as I go. In September, I’m teaching a new online class I created called Outlining Your Novel; I’m also promoting a set of 30 creative writing prompt cards I wrote and designed.

Oh, and I recently published a historical poetry book set in 1918, called This Passing Fever.

I have a Regency novella (a la Jane Austen) that will be published under a pseudonym by Uncial Press set to be released this fall, too. I’m also finishing edits on a book for writers, called In a Flash, which will be published next May by Vine Leaves Press. There are always new short stories, poems, and craft articles in there somewhere, too.

Right now, I’m writing a lot of how-to poetry articles during my free-writes that may just turn into a full-length manuscript.
What are you reading right now? Watching? Listening to? In the past three weeks, I’ve read: Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove (great recommendation from my awesome sister), A Fifty Year Silence: Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Letters from Skye, and (right now) Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide.

As I list these seemingly- random selections I see that three of the books have historical settings, three are autobiographies, and one is about teaching—patterns in much of my reading life lately. I like to read and write historical fiction (although I write modern tales, too).

Recently, I’ve been watching lots of Turner Classic Movies, The Travel Channel, and various documentaries on the History Channel and on Amazon Prime (I’m a documentary geek and find the making of almost anything interesting).

This week, I’ve rediscovered the Mavericks, a band I first listened to in high school when their What a Crying Shame album dropped. Lead singer Raul Malo’s voice is stunning and carries great emotional depth, rather like Roy Orbison; his cover of another artist’s “You’re Only Lonely” is lovely. I’ve also been revisiting (thanks to YouTube) Norah Jones’ plaintive “Come Away with Me,” which was big during my first year or two as a teacher. I guess you could gather from this that I sometimes favor songs of longing.
How do you express yourself creatively? Writing (poems, short stories, novels, articles), photography (still-life, nature, landscape, architecture, and people), teaching (my students range in ages from 14 to 80 and many of my high school students are international students. I love experiencing all of my students’ varying outlooks, life experiences, backgrounds, hopes and dreams), and sometimes writing snail-mail (especially to my darling nieces, who enjoy the colorful stickers and treat money I enclose as well).
Have you ever written a fan letter? If so, to whom? I’ve written several fan letters, to fellow writers, painters, photographers, and musicians. I’m an encourager by nature. Typing this reminds me that I should send more; having received a fan letter in 2013 that I still keep on my office door as encouragement, I know how a gentle nudge in the right direction can reenergize and make a difference.
Drink of choice? Tea. Last year, I discovered Bigelow’s Salted Caramel Tea, which is seasonal, and bought enough boxes to make it through until this summer when it appeared on shelves again. I have three favorite mugs that make my tea time complete: one with a Jane Austen writing quote that was a gift from my sister, one with teacher quotes that was a gift from my thoughtful mom recently, and a Snoopy mug that was a gift years ago from students.
Who inspires you (or what), and why? This list is almost endless. A small sampling: reading, writing, my nieces, my students, photography. Shots Magazine, a print black and- white photography magazine, often sparks inspiration for my photography and writing.

Favorite tools to stay productive?  The great thing about being a writer is that the tools can be as simple (paper, pen/pencil, notebook) or as fancy (laptop, printer, cellphone) as you want. The important thing is to bring heart and thought to develop a consistent writing practice to make sure enough work is in rotation while waiting to hear back, which is another reason why I work on several projects at once (which also keeps me from obsessing on what the editors’ responses will be). For photography it’s a bit more complex. I alternate between a Nikon D5000 and Sony SLT-A57. After 11 years with my trusty old Photoshop software, I just updated to the more-recent Photoshop Elements 15 this July (it’s my new toy). A visual artist friend of mine told me about the free Nik Collection that Google offers (that works in tandem with Photoshop) and I’ve loved playing with that, too.

I’m jonesing on the wet-plate tool at the moment; it creates this fascinating late-19th century feeling that makes even modern, digital photos appear murky and time-worn.
What is something you have learned this year? Schedule unscheduled time. It’s essential to renewing and nourishing art and artist alike. Sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s actually the most difficult thing to do. It’s vital to remember to plan for time to daydream, read magazines, watch movies or listen to music, and just be—after that refreshment, the creative ideas reappear and there’s energy to follow them in wonder.
What can people do to make the world a better place? Realize that everyone you meet is fighting numerous battles you can’t even see. Live and let live.

Recent posts

  • Goal Digger

  • January Gratitude: Hygge

  • Dream a little dream…

  • Familiar Stretches of Dream Highways

  • Meet Author Melanie Faith

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