If you are wondering who won the Life Book 2017 GIVEAWAY, I’ve announced that over here.

Hello, Sweet Artsy Tribe!

I have a couple of great questions to cover in today’s dispatch, so let’s dig in!

First, a stencil care question!

Hi, Effy!

I’m watching the opening ceremonies decorating FFII journal & have a question about scrubbing the gesso off through a stencil. My gesso always dries too fast, tries to permanently adhere the stencil. How can I keep it workable for longer?
Thanks and <3


Hi, Caroline!

I’m going to confess. I don’t worry about stuff adhering to my stencils because I have a secret weapon that I discovered in my Facebook feed a bazillion years ago: Murphy’s Oil Soap.

I let my stencils get pretty manky, because LAZY and also BUSY, so once in a while, when I’m doing a deep clean in my studio, I’ll grab my stencils, stick them in a butcher’s try (or dish pan), cover them in hot water and add a cap full of Murphy’s Oil Soap. I will also toss my brushes in there, too.

About an hour later (or however long it takes me to finish my deep clean), I’ll dump the whole thing in the bathtub, and rinse every off. All the paint, and other mediums, just slides right off the stencils, leaving them pretty much like new.

If you really want to keep your gesso workable for longer, however, you could mix it with a little bit of acrylic glazing liquid (Golden). This will retard the drying time BUT for me, it defeats the purpose of using thin layers of gesso in this manner. What I want is for that layer to dry as quickly as possible so I can get on with the business of glazing over the stenciled design, and then make doodles out of it. I have little patience for letting things dry, so retarding drying time would cause me some annoyance. I’d honestly rather clean my stencils once in a while rather than worry about cleaning as I go.

I hope this helps!


 On Imposter Syndrome

Hi Effy!

I know you’ve spoken a couple of times about Imposter syndrome – and I love those posts! I have them bookmarked and read them quite often.

I’m wondering if you can talk a bit about when you started teaching – since you came to art with no background in it. How did it feel, at that point, to teach? How did you move past the fear (of being “found out”, of being unsure if what you were teaching was “original” – or am I being presumptuous here? These are some things I’m grappling with…I was wondering if you ever felt the same way and maybe have some thoughts on it?) and do it anyway?


“How did it feel at that point, to teach?”

Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

I had a background, however, in sharing my enthusiasm for things that mattered to me, and that enthusiasm was my portal into teaching. The best teachers are not necessarily experts. They are necessarily *excited*. I had that in spades.I also had ways of meeting myself on the page that had come out of a 20 plus year creative writing habit. That wasn’t anything anyone else bestowed upon me. I built that myself, and I translated that into an art journaling practice, and *that* is what I taught.

None of my classes have been technique based, or even skills based. I focus on what I know, and what I know best is how to help people meet themselves on the page. THAT is my jam. That is my niche. That is my best thing, so that’s what I offer.

I’m always careful to credit whomever I learned a thing from when it comes to the art stuff, because I am now, and will always be a student of this creative modality. The ‘meeting ourselves on the page’ stuff, though? I developed that myself, so I feel absolutely qualified to share that without apology or fear of being an imposter.

You don’t have to be an expert to begin.

My very first ‘permission slip’ came in the form of something Jen Lemen said in an e-course I was taking about dreaming big (no longer being offered, alas). She said the words “You don’t have to be an expert to begin” and boom. Permission granted!

That doesn’t mean that the imposter syndrome went away. I am still grappling with it in a big way, especially in the areas of ‘running a business’ (who the fuck do I think I am?), and being a teacher (what?). Yowza. What a struggle.

In 2014, I shelled out thousands to learn how to run the business *I was already running* because I felt like an imposter as an entrepreneur. Needless to say, I picked up a few things, but I kept on doing things the way I’d’ always done them. Last year, I shelled out thousands of dollars for a program that promised to teach me how to be *what I already am* – a teacher – and for about nine months, I struggled with extreme doubt that swung wildly from “I’m not good enough, and I need this” to “I am good enough, and I don’t need this.”

I don’t need it. I can already do the thing I was trying to learn to do, only I do it *my way*, and my way *is good enough*. It’s a new discovery, and I’m sure I’ll waffle, but I’m getting there.

I have finally accepted, though, that I *am* an artist.

I need struggle no more with accepting that. I do art. Daily. That makes me an artist. I take care of quantity by showing up and working as prolifically as I can, and I let time & practice take care of quality, because I trust that the more I work, the better I’ll get. I *am* an artist. Whether I’m a ‘good’ artist or not is none of my business.

I think imposter syndrome and good-enoughness is a constant struggle, though, because here’s I thing I know for sure: I will always be right here, with my current set of skills, and there will always be a ‘there’ to strive toward. We are never complete. Our skills can always improve. We can always become better at the thing we are presently doing, so there is always that shiny THERE out there, and we will always have this gap between here and there.

The trick, I think, is to recognize that our ‘here’ was once that shiny someday when. We have arrived. Every moment. We are arriving. We are the thing we are trying to become *already*.

You are your own authority.

If I were you, I’d keep reminding yourself that you are already the thing you are trying to become, and simply *do the work*. Sketch the things. Paint the paintings. Make the art. Write the content. Send the newsletter. You don’t have to be ‘over there, where you have mastered everything’ to do that. You are already here, now, where you have something to share, and excitement about sharing it.

I hope that helped!

See you next Tuesday.




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