Why I've Been So Distant

Photo by Darrah Parker.

Because it's Father's Day, I have to honor the best Papa in the world I know:  my husband Hansel.  His love for Phoenix expands my heart by miles each and every day.  He's kind, caring, sensitive, creative, and fully committed to our family.  I couldn't be more blessed.

Today is also the Summer Solstice.  The longest day of sunshine of the year yes, but a very auspicious day for me as well, since on the Winter Solstice I took the last name Solera in honor of my own era of the Sun.  

I believe that what I bring to light today will truly shine for the weeks and months to come.

That's why tomorrow was suppose to be the big unveiling of a new Dirty Footprints Studio website that I and my dear designer Quinn have been working on.

So much love, attention, and intention has been pouring into this new website for months now, that it's taken us longer than expected.

I have to admit that with so much of my energy going towards building this new home for Dirty Footprints Studio, that I have very little left to write and share online as much as I would like to.  (Or even paint -- which really is starting to take its toll.)

Plus, this current website feels a bit like it does when you've already moved into a new home, but you still have loads of stuff that needs to be packed and moved out of the old one.  It's that transitional, kind-of-chaotic, uncomfortable but exciting place to be.

And well, our goal is to birth a new Dirty Footprints Studio into the world come mid July.  Not only will it be a whole new look and fresh feel to Dirty Footprints Studio, but it will be easier for you to access tons of resources to support your journey as an artist --- and most of all, I can't wait to throw myself into blogging again!! The ideas and things I want to share are oozing out of me!

With that said, please sign up for my Dirty Footprints Studio newsletter if you aren't already a subscriber.  There's going to be loads of fun and excitement happening once this baby is birth into the world this July and I don't want you to miss a thing!

Happy Solstice!

BIG BIG Hugs,
Connie




My Painted Guru Interview Is Live!!! (But Not For Long)



The lovely Bebe Butler has done such an incredible job at gathering so many heart centered artists together in her Painted Guru summit --- and I'm just so honored to be one of the contributors.

You can hear me chat with her about my own relationship to FEARLESS® Painting, art, magic, and life......but it's only up for a couple days so CLICK HERE and come listen in!

BIG BIG Hugs,
Connie

My Documented Life Project!



I am absolutely thrilled to be a contributor to The Documented Life Project hosted by the Art To The 5th girls!  Plus, when I found out that this month's theme is Travel Journaling my heart skipped a beat!

For my contribution I've put together two videos and a special little packet that you can download and keep by CLICKING HERE!

I hope that you leave here today feeling inspired and eager to hit the road and start journaling!

Also, feel free to use hashtag #DirtyFootprintsStudio when sharing your  travel journaling over on Instagram so I can be sure to take a peek!

Hit play on the videos below and enjoy!






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CLICK HERE to sign up for my newsletter!

40% OFF 21 SECRETS Spring & Fall 2014!



Yep! We're having a "FLASHBACK" SALE!!!  

21 SECRETS Spring 2014 & 21 SECRETS Fall 2014 are both on sale!

You can purchase each at $58 (regular price $98).  
Or grab the combo pack at $111 (regular $170).

CLICK HERE For Spring.  CLICK HERE For Fall.

Sale ends Monday night at 8:30pm PST / 11:30pm EST.  
Get 'em while they're hot!

Full Moon Offering



The framed photo is of a woman doing tree pose somewhere on the Pacific Coast of my beloved Costa Rica.  A dear friend gave it to me as a gift, years ago.  Truth be told, it usually sits near my altar, never on it.  But today, I dusted her off and gave her a home.  She's there as water energy -- letting go, letting go, letting go.

The painting is mine of course.  Obviously, she's fire.  She's focus.  Discipline.  Determination. But let me tell you -- she's softness all at the same time. Yes, softness, softness, softness.

That rattle you see in the front was made by my sweet friend Chris Zydel.  She takes front stage and invokes the energy of air and music and healing sound. She's there to remind me to listen, listen, listen.

Those bowls?  Well I made them out of self drying clay about a month or so ago.  They're not finished yet, and I'm not keen on the idea that they're made out of phony bologna clay.  But my hands needed something to sink into. My fingers longed for communion.  They now hold court, unfinished and raw.  Representing earth energy, yes.  But most of all as a prayer for empty space, space, space.

Flashbacks, Gurus, & Travel Journals



The truth is I have been so super duper busy lately!  This past Friday I just finished hosting my Painting The Feminine eCourse -- and it was so moving and inspiring as usual.  I've also been supporting my amazing women in my IGNITE program and working hard on creating a brand new, beautiful, I-can't-wait-till-you-see-it website with my beloved designer Quinn and the help of my dear friend Darrah who took so many great photos for it as well!

Anyways, I want to let you know about three exciting things happening that you'll definitely want to be a part of!

Here you go!


  
21 SECRETS 2014 Flashback Sale Starts Friday!

The inspiration found in 21 SECRETS is timeless.  These art journaling secrets are something you can come back to again and again as life moves forward and still discover new perspectives and hidden nuggets of creative wisdom every time you return.

So to help you renew your Summer art journaling this year, we're having a "Flashback" sale on 21 SECRETS Spring 2014 and 21 SECRETS Fall 2014 that starts this Friday, June 5th through Monday, June 8th! 

During these four days you can purchase the 21 SECRETS 2014 eBooks at 40% off.

Be sure to mark your calendar, you definitely won't want to miss this.





I'm Gettin' My Travel Journalin' On For The Documented Life Project!

On Saturday, June 6th I will be sharing my contribution for The Documented Life Project and it's a totally FREE offering of love!

This month's challenge is Travel Journaling and the ladies over at Art To The 5th asked me to dive into some Illustrative Art Journaling and share one of my favorite things to do -- art journaling on the go!

So be sure to hop, skip, and boogie woogie on over here this Saturday for a fun tutorial on how you can use your art journal while traveling.

Yep! Just in time for those summer vacation plans you have on the horizon!





Discover How Art Can Heal -- My First FREE Summit

I'm going to be honest.  I'm not a big fan of all those online summits you see rolling around.  Usually they feel more like high pressure marketing schemes than an actual gift of love, to me.

So when I've been invited to participate in the past I've always said no.  Until now.

Last year, as part of my 21 SECRETS Conversations series, I had the joy of interviewing Bebe Butler.  Bebe had me laughing and feeling inspired as she shared how she stalked her creative dreams!

A few months ago, when she invited me to participate in her Painted Guru summit I was a little apprehensive at first, but the more I learned about her vision and pure intentions behind creating this gathering, I decided to say yes.

I, among a circle of other generous, heart guided artists, we'll be chatting with Bebe around some special topics that are near and dear to my own heart, like:


  • How to discover your voice and feel authentic in your expression.
  • How to create intuitively and honestly to awaken freedom on the canvas and in life.
  • How to use life stories as well as imagery and symbols in your creations.


The Painted Guru Summit starts on June 11th and it won't even cost you a penny or a dime to subscribe.

Plus it's really easy peasy to sign up, simply CLICK CLICK CLICK! Done!

See you there!


To Her, Life Was A Dance






I teach for selfish reasons.  To be touched by hearts so bright.  To be taught by the journeys of brave seekers.

So in 2013, when I wrote Kimberly Davis saying what do I gotta do to make you come to my Total Alignment in Sedona this year?,  I asked because as her mentor every cell in my body knew she needed to be there, but mostly because her light was so pure I longed to be in her presence on such sacred land.    Kimberly had been my student for years already, taking every one of my FEARLESS® Painting eCourses.






Kimberly did come to Sedona.  She showed up on time wearing the cutest of sun dresses and my heart was enamored by the way she sat fidgeting nervously speaking about this pilgrimage she was on and what it meant to her to be there.

What an honor to sit with her in circle as she sang her heart out as the rain started to fall.  

What a gift to witness her soak in the morning sun as if it was the first time seeing light as we hiked silently across the red stone together. 

But what moved me to tears is when she threw off her shoes that Saturday and started painting with bare feet.  She danced across the paper. She jumped. She moved.  She landed tenderly inside her body once again, after being away so long.







Kimberly came to Sedona with a heavy heart, and it wasn't the paint or the vortexes or the sisters that were holding her softly or even me with my hand on her back -- it was her bravery that lead her back home to herself.  

It was the courage she always had to go deeper and deeper into the layers of life.  

To let go and surrender again and again. 

Kimberly poured paint on her toes and mambo'd like no one was looking!!  Because to her, life was a dance!





I wish I could find the words to tell you more.  About how big of an influence Kimberly was on me.  She came to Sedona to save herself, but in so many ways she saved me.

She taught me about bravery, resilience, and damn it what it means to have an open heart.

She saw life through the eyes of innocence and curiosity -- she was an embodiment of the FEARLESS® Painting Process.

She was generous with her wisdom and never greedy with her energy and gifts.  She was a teacher.  A guide.  An artist.  An author.  A heart centered business women.

A wise sage with a paintbrush and a sewing machine.





She was an oracle to me and many.

And as I drove home from my Sedona Total Alignment retreat in 2013 Kimberly texted me this photo below with the words: thank you, thank you.




Thank you Kimberly.

Thank you.

You will always be in my heart and I will always feel you near when my bare feet touch the earth I too love so dearly  in sweet Sedona.

May your journey be sweet dear friend.  May your heart truly be free.

May your body rest in peace and your spirit join the sunshine and the rain as they dance and play for eternity.

I love you.  Thanks for loving me.


Kimberly Davis passed away suddenly on Monday, May 11, 2015. 

She shined her bright light as one of the teachers in 21 SECRETS Fall 2014 with her workshop
Shine Your Light: Paint The Color Of Your Heart. 

You can also watch a beautiful 21 SECRETS Conversations with her HERE.

A Commemorative Online Painting Vigil is being held in her honor May 15 -17.  
Please CLICK HERE for more info.

I Love Making Alchemy Cards!!! (Who Would Have Guessed!?)




Last month I was absolutely thrilled to not only be a contributor in Mindy Tsonas's Inner Alchemy Circle eCourse -- but most of all to actually take the course myself! 

I had so much fun.






Seriously, painting these little babies became the highlight of my day!  And even though I didn't finish the whole deck that Mindy and her circle of amazing contributors invited us to do,  I became beyond inspired to start creating my own deck around Painting The Feminine!

I know! I know!!! EXCITING!!!!!

My goal is to release this Painting The Feminine deck in May 2016 when I launch the next session of the Painting The Feminine eCourse-- which, by the way started this week and is going AWESOME! 

Once again, the women that have answered the call to paint the Feminine with me are inspiring me  daily with their wisdom, courage, and creative insight!





But I also want to share that Mindy was incredible at hosting her Inner Alchemy Circle eCourse.  Every single day women were being inspired, posting their work, and supporting one another warmly. (Be sure to check out hashtag #IACWATERCOVEN on Instagram to see what I mean!)

I was so impressed on how powerfully and tenderly Mindy held space and led this creative journey.  I know I'll be signing up for the next one she offers!

But until then, you can check out Mindy's magic in 21 SECRETS Spring where she is teaching Inner Alchemy Pages: An exploration of paint and personal magic! Good stuff!

CLICK HERE to learn more!


21 SECRETS Conversations Is Taking A Slight Pause




I want you to know that 21 SECRETS Conversations is taking a slight pause.

Right now behind the scenes at Dirty Footprints Studio I'm working hard on creating both current and new offerings and even a brand new Dirty Footprints Studio website due to release on June 22nd that well,  my energy is being spread a little too thin!

To best serve you and the 21 SECRETS artists I support wholeheartedly, I'm scaling back for just a little while and plan to start up 21 SECRETS Conversations again this Summer.

I want you to know what a huge honor it is to bring this series to you each Wednesday and I look forward to sharing more stories of the artist journey with you soon!

Until then, CLICK HERE to visit the 21 SECRETS Conversations archive and don't forget you can also take one of my free online workshops listed HERE.

Most importantly, be sure to sign up for 21 SECRETS Conversations email announcements by CLICKING HERE!  Now you'll be the first to know when this series starts again.

Happy art journaling!

The Only Way I Know To Pray




Last year at this time I was unable to visit my most favorite, beloved part of Sedona because of a  recent 10 day forest fire that swept through much of this sacred land.

I was devastated and overwhelmed with sadness as we slowly drove the winded path north taking in all of the damage that sweet Sedona had endured due to someone's carelessness.  






For nights I literally couldn't sleep because my heart ached so bad.

I found this precious spot years before when Phoenix was just a baby.  I would strap him on my back and spend all day hiking through those tall pines.  It always felt like being home to me, and its no surprise that those hikes always lured Phoenix into the most sweetest of slumbers.






When Hali was here for our work retreat, I took her to my favorite spot worried that maybe it was still closed for visitors.  Truly lost forever.

To my great joy, it wasn't.





Yes, there was still much evidence left from the horror that swallowed so much of the wildlife and landscape last year.

But what moved me most was the new growth everywhere.




These sweet, tender tree trunks were reaching for new life.

Their bark cloaked in velvet.  Soft, luxurious, promising.

And it was so apparent that each tiny leaf was breathing in hope.




It's possible.  It's possible. 

Is the mantra I kept whispering.

It's possible to recover.  To be reborn.  To seek redemption from other's sins.  To let go of everything you once knew -- to welcome in the new like a royal best friend.

It's possible.  It's possible. 




So I got down on my knees and I prayed the only way I know how.

Whispering again and again...

It's possible.  It's possible.  It's possible. 

Watch My FREE Painting The Feminine Spreecast!



This past Monday I hosted a FREE Painting The Feminine Spreecast where we spent an hour painting and chatting around surrendering.  Many of you were unable to attend live so I'm excited to share the recording here with you!

My Painting The Feminine eCourse starts on Monday, May 4th! This will be the only time I offer Painting The Feminine this year, so grab your art journal and claim your space! I'd love to have you!

CLICK HERE for more info on Painting The Feminine!



21 SECRETS Conversations With Nat Kalbach




21 SECRETS Conversations is a weekly interview series where I ask one of my 21 SECRETS teachers every Wednesday:


What has your journey as an artist been like?


From art school graduates to self trained sensations, to tender newbies --- each artist has an inspiring story to share that is filled with joy, challenges, and a creative spirit that keeps on flowing!

You can view past 21 SECRETS Conversations by CLICKING HERE.

Plus, be sure to CLICK HERE to receive 21 SECRETS Conversations email announcements directly in your inbox each Wednesday!

Now today our special guest is Nat Kalbach...





Nat Kalbach is a self-taught mixed media artist living in Jersey City, NJ.

For Nat creating art is a dialogue between my skills and the supplies I use. It is not so much a battle as an ongoing attempt to work out the connections between ideas and techniques.

Nat believes that everyone can be creative. Since 2006 she taught workshops in Europe, Canada, the U.S., Australia, Israel, Malaysia and online. She share what I know about tools, supplies and techniques, with the goal of helping each student unlock his/her personal creativity.

Nat's artwork is licensed through StencilGirl Products and Stampendous. Her work has been featured on the packaging for Liquitex Acrylic Painting Sets sold at Michaels art and craft stores. Since September 2014 she is a sponsored artist/brand ambassador for Liquitex. She is also a product development consultant to several art and craft supply manufacturers.


You can visit Nat online HERE and take her workshop The Story Within a Story in 21 SECRETS Spring that's on sale now with instant access!  


Come join the Conversation!

How Jealousy Helped Pave The Way To My Success




Last week I had the privilege of hosting a work retreat with Hali Karla -- my beloved Creative Director of 21 SECRETS.

She flew in from her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina and we spent three days "working" together in beautiful Sedona, Arizona and one here in my hometown of Phoenix.

I'm not being sarcastic by the quotation marks, I just know that on the outside our form of working might look a bit more like fun.  But why would we do it any other way?




Hali and I spent our time art journaling, hiking, eating delicious nutritious food,  creating land art and laughing our assess off --- all while weaving in deep and meaningful conversations about our work together with 21 SECRETS and individually as artists.




In 2010, when I hosted my very first 21 SECRETS, I had absolutely no idea what-so-ever that it would grow into the program that it is now.

To be fully honest, I was just interested in seeing if I could pull it off.




In 2009 I created a series here at Dirty Footprints Studio called 30 Days 30 Journals where I interviewed a different art journaler each day for thirty days.  To my surprise it was warmly embraced!

Thousands of people visited the interviews each day and when the series was finished I asked the 30 participants if they would be interested in sharing one of their art journaling secrets in a collaborative workshop.

Twenty of them enthusiastically agreed.

So I threw myself into the mix as well and 21 SECRETS was born.




As an artist I love to try and do many different things.  I've been like this all my life and my professional resume is proof.

So it's not surprising that in 2013 I came to a crossroads where I was feeling pulled to move in new directions but not sure if I should let go of 21 SECRETS.

For months I struggled with this.  At times I found myself just saying "fuck it" and thinking I should just quit hosting 21 SECRETS altogether.  But then in those moments I'd always receive a swarm of emails from beautiful creative hearts expressing how much 21 SECRETS had impacted their lives.

I knew it was the Universe speaking to me, so I became patient and waited for guidance.




Guidance did come, in the form of envy actually.

Shortly after graduating from my IGNITE program, Hali spoke to me about a workshop she was planning called Spectrum.  When she explained the concept and the artists she wished to gather together my heart grew jealous.

At first I tried to convince her that Spectrum should be a part of 21 SECRETS in some way.  I thought her idea was absolutely brilliant, and well, my ego wanted to be a part of it too!

But after great reflection both of us agreed that it didn't feel right, so Hali went on to create her first session of Spectrum on her own (which I was so joyfully a contributor in!).

Though, what my jealousy showed me is how in alignment Hali and I were in our vision and mission to gather creatives together.  I proudly witnessed her create and launch her own successful workshop based on her passion to help people embrace a holistic creative practice.  And one day, as I was hiking, it came to me -- ask Hali to be your Creative Director is what I heard so clearly, as if someone was actually whispering it in my ear.




Until that moment there only seemed to be two definite choices:

  1. Keep trucking along with 21 SECRETS and feeling overwhelmed and creatively stifled. 
  2. Quit doing 21 SECRETS altogether and embrace more space to explore new ideas.

Maybe because I'm an over-achiever / type A personality / Capricorn, it never occurred to me that I could open things up creatively by inviting in support.

Seriously, bringing in help never crossed my mind till that moment on the mountain, and from then on, there was no looking back.

When Hali said yes I was over the moon excited and terrified all at the same time.  That's how I knew I made the right decision.

At first it felt like handing over my baby to a babysitter for the first time.  I was checking in on her every couple minutes -- but than, I softened.  I trusted.  I kept reminding myself that it takes a village to raise a child.  And that's what was happening -- 21 SECRETS was growing up, and I as an artist was growing as well.


Top journal: Hali Karla. Bottom journal: Connie Solera.


When we arrived at the hotel in Sedona the man at the desk asked what we had planned -- I said we were having a work retreat -- "a week of strategic planning" to be exact.

But the truth is, I don't work that way and I never will.

Instead Hali and I discussed ways we could deepen 21 SECRETS and most of all how we could create a supportive sisterhood between the work she does and I do individually.

That's what feels the most juicy and the most in alignment with our shared values of collaboration, creativity, and generosity.

But you see, I share this story with you as an alternative to all the formulas, strategies and expensive advice on building a successful brand / business / life that exist on the internet.  Once in awhile I'll take a peek at what the business gurus are saying on creating a "dream team" or "making seven figures" and all I am left with is a bloated sense of urgency and an unhealthy need to control.

I find that my unwavering success comes from my commitment to listening deeply and honoring my gifts as an artist and the gifts of those that I am blessed to work with.

Yes, it's basically that simple.

Though I won't lie,  at times it can mean surrendering to your own humanness -- embracing your own insecurities as your greatest teacher -- and opening your heart to others shining brighter than you.

It may not be the most glamourous path to success, but so far I find it the most fulfilling, and I am forever grateful for my guides, such as my relationship with Hali, that has helped pave the way.
  

10 Things I Learned From Baring My Soul




Just recently I  shined a big ol' flood light on my soul by sharing an intimate glimpse into my art journals from the past 20+ years.  I called this 10 day series Take A Peek and it was quite a trip down memory lane!  A couple times I was actually moved to tears from the  surprises tucked away that I completely forgot about.

Even though I endured a bit of a vulnerability hang-over from baring my soul in front of thousands of strangers, I'm still glad I did it.

During those ten days I received so many emails and comments from creative hearts expressing how Take A Peek was inspiring them to get back to art journaling.  That alone was worth it to me.

Though, I decided to sit down and write in my studio journal about what I learned by revisiting these old friends -- my dear art journals.

Here's the ten whoppers I realized...

________________________________


1.  I have had a creative practice my entire life and it's filled with gaps, long hiatuses, and abandoned pages -- and that's totally ok.  I'm an artist, not a machine.


2.  Great things happen when you just stick to it.  Gosh, there is such a huge difference in skill and style as my art journals progress through the years.  I'm so grateful that I've stuck with this practice for over 20 years!


3.  I'm a series girl!  In Take A Peek you'll get a glimpse of my Painting The Feminine series, my Grey series, my Healing Journal series, my Oil Pastel series, and many more.  I love to take an idea or concept and explore the hell out of it!


4.  Experimenting is mandatory as an artist.  I'll be honest, I was cringing my whole way through episode 2 because that journal is like a mad scientist got her hands on it! I'm all over the place in trying different things out.  But  in retrospect I can see how necessary experimenting was/is in my development as an artist.


5.  Part of being an artist is just having to make ugly ass shit.  (Sorry, there's no sweeter way to put it.)


6.  Art journaling for me is all about moving energy and expressing myself in the moment.  I like to keep my supplies and even my techniques simple and direct so the essence of me can flow! flow! flow!


7.  As vulnerable as I felt sharing an intimate peek into my personal art journals, there was something very cathartic about doing so as well.  I was able to bring light and much needed closure to an era of my life I feel.  Thank you to those who bared witness.


8.  Without even trying, we tell the story of our lives when we art journal.  This moved me the most when I looked back at my journals.  There are so many pages I can remember exactly where I was -- what I was feeling -- and why I created that page.


9.  Our mark is sacred.  It doesn't matter if it's pretty or the worst thing you ever did -- those marks you make on paper are sacred.  They are your younger selves whispering "I'm here.  I'm still by your side."


10.  Art journals are living entities.  They have Souls all of their own.  I'm not being metaphoric when I call them my old friends.


21 SECRETS Conversations with Päivi Eerola




21 SECRETS Conversations is a weekly interview series where I ask one of my 21 SECRETS teachers every Wednesday:


What has your journey as an artist been like?



From art school graduates to self trained sensations, to tender newbies --- each artist has an inspiring story to share that is filled with joy, challenges, and a creative spirit that keeps on flowing!

You can view past 21 SECRETS Conversations by CLICKING HERE.

Plus, be sure to CLICK HERE to receive 21 SECRETS Conversations email announcements directly in your inbox each Wednesday!


Now today our special guest is Päivi Eerola...




Päivi is a designer and artist from Finland. She gets her inspiration from the rich history of textiles and fine art. For her, paper is like fabric, pens like thread and the nature of Scandinavia like the wonderland of colors. With the background in industrial design, Päivi teaches simple ways to express and imitate complicated things. With her help, you can fly to the world of your imagination!

You can visit Päivi online HERE and take her workshop Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper in 21 SECRETS Spring 2015 now on sale with instant access to all 21 workshops!

Come join our conversation!



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