This is the text of my newsletter for October 2022 and I thought in case you have missed it or not signed up for it -I should post this important information regarding Creative JumpStart and more :)
Onward and Upward
Happy October! I hope you’re having a wonderful start to the month. September was good for me. I launched my new workshop, Artful Adventures with Henri Matisse, and I made a big decision, one that was very tough but definitely necessary.
With a very, very heavy heart, I have decided to go on a CJS hiatus for the time being. As you may know, every year since 2011, I am joined by some of my highly talented artist friends, and together we present a month-long workshop aimed at helping our attendees build a daily habit of doing something creative.
I have so much love for CJS and have worked super hard to give it life all these years. But right now, I feel as though I don’t have the capacity to commit 100% to CJS, as you deserve and as I have in past years. So I think it’s time to step back, rebuild my habit of creating daily , and think about how I can re-engineer the CJS experience.
It all started with an idea.
Eleven years ago, when I quit my job as a paralegal to become a full-time artist, I had no idea what a ride this would be. All I knew was that I wanted to make it work. Everything was fun. It was exciting, and I had a lot of ideas, one of which was Creative JumpStart.
I combined what I’m passionate about – collaboration, bringing people together to create something special – with what I wanted to make – an inspired and lively community of artists and students – and CJS was born.
I’d taught on other people’s online platforms and (naively) thought, “I have a bit of know-how; why not just host it on my little blog and see how it goes? Can’t be too hard, can it?”
I hosted the first Creative Jumpstart with 30 artists. There were thousands of sign-ups, and the whole thing was terrific, but it was a nightmare! I woke up to hundreds (and hundreds) of emails asking for a password. My blog couldn’t handle the traffic. And all of this was happening while I was at a Convention!
You can ask my wonderful friend Birgit Koopsen, with whom I roomed in California, how it felt to share a space with someone wide awake at 4 am, responding to emails, hitting the show floor to work after that, and then networking until later in the evening. LOL! Thanks, Birgit, for being such a support all those years!
As the years went on, I felt that to run CJS the way I envisioned, I would do some things differently. First, I wanted to make the experience less cumbersome for students, which meant building a classroom platform from scratch (there were no Teachables or Kajabis out then!). Second, I wanted to ensure enough value for the artists to participate (I.E., cold hard cash in addition to the visibility and relationship-building ), so I decided to charge for classes moving forward.
I invested in making CJS better each year after, and I loved it. Aside from part-time help from my excellent assistant Kim and my web designer, I did everything myself – content creation, marketing, website/classroom maintenance, community building, registration, and administrative duties – the list goes on! But collaborating with so many artists (many of whom were able to use CJS as a launchpad to host future workshops) and interacting with the students every day (and seeing their creations) made it all worthwhile.
And then came the pandemic. Given that so many of us artists had lost income from being unable to teach in-person workshops, I wanted to make sure that CJS remained a significant income booster for each of us and worked super hard to make it happen. And on a personal level, preparing for and managing CJS kept me sane during that tough time. Like all the years before, CJS21 was the highlight of my year.
Onward and upward.
But as life goes forward, seasons change, and I can say that this theme has definitely played out in my work and personal life this year.
While running CJS22 in January, we moved to our new home and began renovating. We also helped sick inlaws move into assisted living. On the work side, I implemented a new forum for CJS22 (which didn’t turn out as functional as planned), but I still had the best time checking in with everyone and viewing their unique creations.
I also took some time to create solo online workshops and to paint, which I realized I hadn’t painted regularly for the past two years (or even did much of my art journaling). I noticed how hard it’s been to carve out time away from the computer to do activities outside of the administrative computer things I’ve been doing for so long.
During these computer breaks, I had space to think about CJS and how it’s been functioning lately. Unfortunately, the truth is the cost of keeping CJS afloat has become more prohibitive. And it’s a bit of a catch-22 because to get more students and optimize the workshop experience, I have to invest more money and, in turn, charge more for the workshop. Then, of course, charging more for CJS means losing people we’ve had a long time who simply cannot pay more than its current price.
On top of the financial piece, running CJS as a primarily one-woman show for the past 11 years has had its trying moments, and honestly, I’m feeling burned out. I quit my paralegal job to become a full-time artist, and I’m craving the time to focus on that.
I don’t know how long this hiatus will be, but what I do know is that I am SO thankful for your tremendous support throughout our many Creative JumpStarts together. I’m grateful for your inspiration, spirit, and commitment to CJS, and I will always carry that with me!
Thank you for letting me share CJS with you all these years and for (hopefully) giving you a jumpstart in your creative journey!