No Vision – No Growth – Some Thoughts

If you are a newsletter subscriber of mine, you know that I start my monthly newsletters with some thoughts. Thoughts on creativity, making art, and being an artist – along with some other info about what is going on around here. Last month I shared the following. I hope you enjoy and you can sign up for my newsletter HERE for more of these :)

At the beginning of the year I chose the word “Vision” as my word to strive for in 2020. I chose the word because I was feeling a lack of vision for my work as an artist. For a long time my vision was “quit your job and become a full time artist”, then it was “make being a full time artist work”, “license designs”, and “write a book”… until I was just doing my work day in and out without a big vision.

The problem with that is: if you have no vision you cannot grow. So for the first 3 months of this year I tried searching really deep, writing each morning on where I saw myself going. While that was a good exercise in counting my blessings and getting ready for the day, it did not provide me with a clearer direction. Then the pandemic hit and everything that I felt about the future and the uncertainties of my art business was magnified. I thought, who needs a bigger vision – just be glad you have some work and shut up! And I just kept on going.

At the same time, as you may know, I joined a Roundtable with writers, actors and artists. We still meet once a week on zoom, talk about projects during this pandemic and hold each other accountable for the goals we set. We continue to share our work and give feedback and have recently decided to “perform” our arts to our family and friends via zoom, discussing the work with the audience afterwards. We also started collaborating: I sent some of my urban paintings to a writer in our group and he was inspired to write a monologue, which was then performed by one of the actors. We showed my paintings afterwards and talked about our collaboration with the audience.

I cannot even put into words how uplifting and amazing this collaborative work feels. Spending time with these storytellers has fed into my love for storytelling. I have always loved learning the stories behind the buildings in my paintings – especially since I am exploring the topic of gentrification. How deep could I go? I started to reach out to others and I connected with a city historian who was nice enough to let me come to his office (twice so far) – masked up and socially distanced – and let me go through his extensive archive. He showed me piles and piles of letters, photos, and scrapbooks dealing with the buildings, businesses and most importantly the people of this neighborhood. 

I am totally enthralled with this research right now. I want to reach out to the elderly members of this community and ask them about their life and the stories of the neighborhood. What was it like to live here as a child or young adult? How did it look? How did they experience the Urban Uprise of 1964? How do they feel about the changes in this city? I want to tell the story of the buildings not only from my standpoint, but also I want to connect them with the stories of the actual people that lived in or around the buildings.

How am I going to do that? I don*t know yet… I am still in my student modus – listening, researching, collecting and connecting the dots. But I feel I am one step closer to a new purpose and a new goal and a new vision for my business. And that my dear friends makes me so excited, I wanted to share it with you! I will keep you posted… but maybe you have an idea? I would love to hear :)

Comments (2)

  • Robin


    Nathalie, this sounds so cool!!! I’m excited for you and the path your vision seems to be taking you. I would like to introduce you to another artist in New Jersey. Her work is amazing. She is a dual citizen of the US and France and does quite a few collaborations. She did a project of portraits and interviewed each person before she painted them. I think she might give you some insights that could help you. Let me know if you would like me to make an introduction and I could check with her first.


  • Sue Clarke


    Oh, I am so excited for you…you could write a book (again)!
    It could have pics of the buildings, pics of your art work of the buildings, some of the history of the neighborhood and stories from the elderly and others!!!
    I love it already. The way you always talked about your Aunt on layouts and journal pages makes me think that you can do a fabulous job with this project! Keep us posted Nat.


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