In Episode 29... "I want to explore more paths as a working artist. Should I teach art?" - Mindy McClendon

Mindy McClendon is an abstract, intuitive artist from Florida. She is at an exciting place in her business where she feels like she's getting there, she's getting a foothold in the art world, and she's starting to build momentum. Mindy’s dream is to own and operate an art empire.

Now that she is in a good place with her business, Mindy is looking to explore more paths as a working artist. She is interested in trying out other avenues of income, such as teaching in-person classes and running online painting courses.

Mindy loves talking to people about her art, connecting with them, and developing relationships, so teaching classes is a natural progression for her.

In this episode, I guide Mindy through the process of turning her interests into her reality. There's plenty to take away from this episode, so be sure to listen in!

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • The thing you’re the most scared to do is often the thing you’re going to love doing the most. (00:06:10)
  • When teaching art classes, make it easy for the vendor to make it happen. (00:11:39)
  • Decide how you want to teach the class. (00:16:43)
  • Document the details of your teaching experience to use for marketing future classes. (00:23:00)
  • Take purposeful steps toward your goal. (00:26:32)

Resources and links mentioned:

  • Connect with Mindy on Instagram @‌mindysmithmcclendon
  • Shop Mindy's beautiful selection of artwork on her website, ww.MindyMcClendon.com
  • Want to be a podcast guest for Season 3 of Intuitive Art Sales? If you're interested in finding out more about being a guest: Fill out an application here OR email me your questions at jessica@theartistmarket.co
  • For information on working with Jessica, send your questions/thoughts to jessica@theartistmarket.co

Learn more about selling your art:

  • For more practical and energetic strategies to create consistent income and life balance, follow Jessica on Instagram @artistmarketco
  • Would you like to know where to spend your time in order to create consistent sales, without letting it take over your life? Awesome! Grab your free training, "The Artist's Day" here: https://theartistmarket.co/ 
  •  Sign up for the 7- day FREE trial of my Consistent Income for Artists program here.

Read the Transcript for this episode

Jessica Craddock: I'm here with my lovely friend and we're gonna call her past client, Mindy McLendon. We've worked together a couple times in various different formats. She is an abstract, intuitive artist from Florida, and she is at an exciting place in her business where she feels like she's getting there. She's getting that foothold in the art world, and she's starting to build momentum.

Isn't that cool? So Mindy, hi. I'm so glad you're here.

Mindy McClendon: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me here.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah, I'm excited. This is gonna be fun. So Mindy, let's just jump right in. Let's start with the vision. Where are we aiming toward?

What is the future version of your life that we wanna create? Tell me a little bit about that. Paint a picture for me.

Mindy McClendon: Well, I think when I first decided I wanted to be an artist full-time, I had this vision in my head that I would be in the studio from morning till night, just painting and painting and painting.

And my days would be filled with that kind of thing. And now I realize that there's so much more to being an artist and while I do love the painting part of it, like that's the meat of it all. That's why I do it. I'm starting to recognize how much more there is to yeah, promoting yourself and marketing yourself and getting yourself out there and making connections with people and how much fun that could be.

 So with that being said, my vision has changed. I am doing the painting in the studio for hours on end, but then I'm also recognizing how much more I need to focus on the outside. Outside of the studio, I get hung up on that kind of stuff, but I would like to not only make money off the paintings that I create, but I'd like to make money in other avenues as well.

And so I'm considering all those different options that are popping up and wondering which ones I should go for.

Jessica Craddock: Okay. Well, let's back up a couple steps. First of all, What are the avenues that are popping up that feel the most exciting for you?

Mindy McClendon: There are all kinds of things like I'm curious about NFTs and how they work.

And I've been exploring those. I've also talked to a couple people. I've got a gallery that hangs my work and they have a studio in the gallery and they've inquired about teaching classes for the artists that are there. So I've considered teaching classes, which also segues into online courses if that's something I would be interested in.

See, I don't even know if I would or not, but those kinds of things are interesting to me.

Jessica Craddock: Okay, so we've got NFTs, galleries and maybe courses, classes and licensing. You said earlier that you've kind of learned that there's this whole other side to having an art business, and I

I love to say and will say again if, if you don't want to have an art business, you could still be an artist. That is okay. But in your application you wrote, I wanna have and operate an art empire, so I'm gonna take you out of that category and throw that out the window. That's not a thing. If you want an art empire, it is not just the painting that you love.

So tell me a little bit more about when you said, I've learned I have to make connections. I have to do this, I have to do that. What are the things that you like doing? What gives you the most energy? What? What do you wanna do more of that you have experienced thus far, as far as getting your work out there?

Mindy McClendon: I think interacting with people face to face has been a lot of fun for me, and I get a lot out of that, even if there's not a sale. Mm-hmm. I get a lot out of that, of talking about my work or even talking with an artist about their work. You know, back and forth. and people that are interested in the process of it. That's very rewarding to have it speak to someone in a way that they want to know more about it.

Jessica Craddock: So talking.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: Did you ever think that you would like talking to people about your art?

Mindy McClendon: Well, yes, but I've been very scared in the past to do it. I haven't done it enough to where I felt comfortable. I hadn't in the past mm-hmm. And so it was scary because I felt so vulnerable about it, and I was scared to put myself out there. But now that I'm not so scared about that, it's a lot of fun.

Jessica Craddock: Can we side note here for a second, and I know that a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of artists feel the same way that you just described that scare, that vulnerable. What did you do to switch that? How did you get over that fear to where it became a thing you just said was your favorite thing to do to market your art as opposed to before.

Mindy McClendon: I just did it. I just did it.

And I'll be honest, I wouldn't have ever done it without your encouragement and without your suggestions because, I feel like just doing it lessened the fear. And the more I did it, the more comfortable I became doing it. And maybe that's why I was so scared to do it because I loved it so much.

Jessica Craddock: Hmm huh. I have this theory and it's proven itself right lots of times. So maybe it's not a theory anymore, but I'm still gonna call it a theory. That the thing you're the most scared to do is the thing that you're going to be the best at and love doing the most. Because I've seen it over and over and over with clients is the thing that they're really scared of.

If I can help them jump in, even though they're scared of it, and conquer that fear, it ends up being like the thing that lights them up about their marketing. So just let that be a little ray of hope and sunshine if you're scared to do something. Okay, so what you just described to me was, I love doing face-to-face.

I love talking about my work. I love talking about their work. I love talking about the whole process. And before that you said, well, there's all these different ways that I might like to go, NFTs, galleries, courses and classes and licensing. And this is not necessarily like an end all be all, but I'm just looking at the next step for the thing that you want towards that art empire.

And what aligns really well face-to-face, talking about my work, talking about the process is actually the classes.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: You get to talk to people. You get to talk about your work. If they're making work, you get to talk about their work with them, and you get to talk about the process. That fulfills all four things.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: How does that feel for you?

Mindy McClendon: Kind of exciting.

Jessica Craddock: Can I also point out what you said about the classes, I don't even know if I wanna do that. I mean, that seems like, oh, maybe, but it's a, Hmm. That tells me, and I wouldn't always say this, but in this case, I feel like there might be a little bit of fear there because it's a thing that you might really, really love doing.

Mindy McClendon: I see where you're going with this.

Jessica Craddock: I know , you know me too well at this point,

Mindy McClendon: And I think you might be right.

Jessica Craddock: So if, if classes might be the next North Star moment for you, and you said someone had already approached you about doing a class.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Craddock: Tell me more about that. Tell me more about this class situation.

Mindy McClendon: It's the gallery where I have my paintings now. They have a studio in the back and it's mostly for throwing clay and pottery, but they also offer classes there. And this, the artists that are represented at the gallery are often the ones that are teaching the classes.

 Pam is the lady's name, and she's asked me before if I was interested. And I guess I've just kind of, oh, maybe I'll think about it, or, oh yeah, that would be fun. But never actually pursued it and said, yeah, let's talk more about it.

Jessica Craddock: So right now we're at kind of a, I know she would let me, but I have kind of blown her off in the past situation.

Mindy McClendon: Yes. And I've kind of, I've reached out to her since and, and said, I'm interested in doing classes. And she said, well, we're full till March. This was back in January. And I said, well, I'm interested in getting on the schedule for March. So, and she said, I'll email you and this, that, and the other.

And we've talked a couple times since about other things, but I kind of dropped the ball. I haven't heard from her about getting on the schedule in March, so.

Jessica Craddock: Gotcha.

So the easiest next step to make this a reality would be what?

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: You tell me.

Mindy McClendon: To call Pam or email her and touch base with her again.

I know she's busy.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah, sure. A lot of people worry about bothering people, and I understand that. It's a real fear. Mm-hmm. However, I am a busy person, and I very much appreciate when people reach out to remind me of things or to check back in or to say, Hey, haven't heard from you about this.

What do you think? Because otherwise I might not get to it. It might just end up so far down my to-do list or my email that it's gone.

Mindy McClendon: I agree.

Jessica Craddock: It's not coming back.

Mindy McClendon: We all need reminders. We all need a little help.

Jessica Craddock: Even my mom who doesn't have a job, who no longer has children or a parent to take care of, like her life is insanely busy. She had been waiting for years for it to slow down and she got the opportunity and nothing slowed down.. So like, that's just how we live life now. Go, go, go, go, go. Yeah. Fill it up with stuff.

And I'm not saying that's good or bad or we could go get into that another day, but my point is let's reach back out. She may have a process already because she schedules these out in advance already. So she's been doing this for a while, so she may have a process to take you through. Tell me what the class is gonna be about. Here's what we pay. Well, it might just be really outlined like that.

Jessica Craddock: What I was about to say is more like, let's talk to her about what the gallery wants to get out of the classes, what you want to get out of the classes, how it can be a great exchange for both of you and if it's paid and like, all those things. But my gut probably says that's all taken care of, so it doesn't really matter if we ask about that stuff.

I think what I would say is, you said Pam.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm. Yes.

Jessica Craddock: Hey, Pam. I talked to my art business coach, and I decided classes are really aligned with the direction that I would like to go next. And I'd love to get on the schedule. I know we talked about it before, but life happens. And we all get busy. What is the next step?

How can I help? How can I contribute? What do you need from me? Make it as simple as possible for her to help you make that thing a reality.

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Okay.

Jessica Craddock: Once she responds to that, I might still ask, what is the point of the gallery putting on these classes? What are they hoping to get out of this so I can help in the most? Hm. So I can do my part as much as possible.

Mindy McClendon: Got it.

Jessica Craddock: So if they're looking for that artist to bring in their people, maybe then that's where you're like, oh, great.

I know a couple of people I can reach out to and make invitations for this class and let them know that I'll be teaching it. If it's that they are just wanting people to get to know you as an artist. Would you like me to put together like a five or 10 minute presentation at the beginning before I get to teaching in the classes?

Like, what do you need from me so that I can serve you in the best way possible?

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: Because you also said relationships, and relationships are a two-way street. So we're not just asking from them or giving to them, not that I think you would just take, take, take. That's not you. But like how can we very purposefully give back whenever we're asking?

Mindy McClendon: Yes.

Jessica Craddock: Okay. What's next? We gotta get you on the schedule. What is the purpose of this class for you? If you could tell me what you want to get from it, what would that be?

Mindy McClendon: How to teach a class. To get over that hump of teaching a class. I think it would be nice to be able to take those classes to my own studio.

Jessica Craddock: For sure.

So that is your main goal is to learn how to teach a class with someone else's people.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah. And become comfortable doing it.

Jessica Craddock: Mm-hmm.

And you know that you can do that by Nike-ing it? Just do it.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: Because that's worked for you in the past.

 Do they do like an ongoing series of classes with each artist or is it just a one-off?

Mindy McClendon: It's just a one-off. There's some artists that are very seasoned with teaching classes, so they teach acrylic pours classes. And a lot of them, I did talk with Pam kind of about the classes generally, and she said a lot of them,

you're not getting artists that are coming in to take classes. You're just getting people off the street that are looking for an artistic experience. Or they're looking for a team building thing, or sip and wine, sip and paint or whatever.

Jessica Craddock: Right.

Mindy McClendon: So it was nice to get a feel for what the artists are dealing with, and some of them are for pottery. Some of them are for jewelry making. Some of them are for collaging.

And I've looked online and looked at all the other classes and what they're charging, how many people are in the class, and that kind of thing. And it looks like it's kind of open-ended. I could do it however I wanted to.

Yeah. So the next thing to figure out might actually be what are you going to teach?

Because your artwork is gorgeous, but it's got lots of layers and time and involvement. So, do you know what you would bring? Like what? What would you want to teach? Don't know.

Right. That's what I would have to come up with also, like, not the curriculum, but you know, kind of like you said, what do I want to teach?

And Pam had some suggestions. She said a lot of the work on teaching a class is before the class. Like a lot of the artists will bring in canvases that already have the background on them, and then they trace out the shape and tell the people very explicit instructions on how to finish it off.

So would I be getting a whole lot of artistic talk back and forth? I don't know. I might just be, she said a lot of it is very basic. Dip your brush and water in between changing colors, that kind of thing.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah.

Mindy McClendon: But I do think it would still be in an art forum, I guess, and I would still be meeting people and talking about my art.

Jessica Craddock: So would you want to have like, like the paint and sit model where you have one painting that they copy? Or because you earlier defined yourself as an abstract, intuitive artist, maybe you want to teach the intuition side of it with some mark making. I don't know. I just pulled up your Instagram.

It's @MindySmithMcLendon, if anyone's curious.

I think the thing that I love the most about yours is how there's so many layers to it, and I feel like you want to give them some representation of that. 

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Craddock: But what would be a way that, actually let me back up. Gut response. Do you want them all to be the same, or do you want them all to come up with some version of what you do?

Mindy McClendon: Totally different. I want them to be totally different.

Jessica Craddock: Okay. Yeah. Great. So what if, what if you created an underpainting, like she was saying, but it's the same underpainting, essentially, no matter how many people would come. Let's say 10 panels.

Mindy McClendon: Uh huh.

Jessica Craddock: And then you guide them through your process of making decisions. And teach them how to take portions out with white, and how to use the pencils too. I don't know. What would you say?

Mindy McClendon: I almost wonder if it would work better if I break it up into two classes. Like first class, everybody, let's just practice making marks and making a color palette, and then they put a layer down. And then the next time they come in, then we add more because there are so many layers.

Jessica Craddock: Yeah

Mindy McClendon: I would have to kinda simplify it quite a bit, but it's almost like two classes would be ideal.

Jessica Craddock: If they're beginners, I feel like even creating a color palette might just blow their mind because that's a whole semester in itself. So what if you have the color palette, you have the underpainting, and you have 10 different pencils that they can all choose from that are the same, that will go with that.

So they don't have to worry about the colors matching no matter what they do, the colors are going to match. But you teach them how you decide where you think things should go intuitively. How would you describe, like, describe that to me. If I were in your class, and I know that this is right off the cuff, but we're here. So let's just do it.

And I'm looking at, you have a vertical kind of greenish blue painting, and there's some things floating around at the bottom. It's mostly greens and purples and yellows, and then the white radiates out into the blue on the top. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Mindy McClendon: I think so, yeah. Yeah. It's called a new light.

Jessica Craddock: I should have just said that.

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Yes, yes.

Jessica Craddock: Okay, so we've got this painting, A New Light, let's say the hard lines weren't there. We just had the white kind of a white to blue ombre effect in the background. How would you help guide me to make choices? What would you say? How do you do it?

Mindy McClendon: Well, I first take the underpainting that I've worked and put layers upon layers.

Those are really the, the canvas is covered with all of that, and it looks like a total mess. You can't focus on anything. There's just too much to see. But there's always some spots in that painting or in that mess that look really pretty, that look really cool. So I highlight those by masking out the places around them.

And then once I put one layer of mask down, I'll look at that and think, well, what looks really cool in this? And then I decide that I'm gonna highlight that spot by masking out around it until I get something that's substantial and looks like an actual ball of thought.

Jessica Craddock: So what if the class is on masking to find the interesting pieces, the interesting parts in the piece?

Like I feel like if, if it had to be one class, and I don't know that it does. But if it had to be one class, and you came in with a mess for them to find the interesting pieces. And here's how you mask it, and here's the color palette. Ready, go. Here's how I make my decisions. I feel like that would be a great class, and everybody would come up with their own interpretation.

It couldn't really get screwed up because they've already got something great to look at, and they've already got great colors.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: And that simplifies the whole thing. What do you think?

Mindy McClendon: And it would be so cool to see how everyone, everyone's turned out radically different and still in the same class, but coming up with something completely different.


Jessica Craddock: Yeah. You could even have them, if you had extra time or people were waiting for things to dry, like stand up and talk about why they chose this or why they chose that to help encourage each other through the process. So you're teaching them to talk about their work and masking.

Mindy McClendon: Will you come to the class?

Jessica Craddock: I would love to. I really would. That's so fun. I'm actually, just for a little small group of friends, I'm teaching an art, not teaching, I am hosting an art night at my house on Friday.

Mindy McClendon: Oh my gosh, that sounds like so much fun.

Jessica Craddock: I thought so.

Okay. So let's see. So we've got reaching out to her. We've got kind of a class outline. What else do you need in order to make this a reality?

I don't think you need anything else. I think it's just like ready, go time, but I do wanna throw something else out there to think about.

Mindy McClendon: Okay.

Jessica Craddock: I want you to start making a working document in Google, or wherever. I don't care where it is. Essentially, you write out what the class is, a description of it, what they are going to get out of it, and then like the process you're going to take them through.

Because what you want to do is you want to learn how to teach and bring this back to your own studio to benefit your art business, as opposed to just getting paid to be a teacher, which is what I assume they're gonna do.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: In doing so, you're starting to create a process of what it might look like. And that doesn't mean that every class you now teach has to look like this.

If you can start with one and build on it and make it really good and you have that class in your repertoire. You can pull it out whenever you want, and you've got everything you need to describe it to market it.

As you are hosting this class, you can write down the questions that people have so you know to address those before they're even asked In the future. You can write down things that people say about it, like it felt like this. This was my favorite part. I really loved doing this. I didn't even know I could do that.

So almost as a testimonial slash how they describe it. So you're probably not gonna go out in the future and say, I'm teaching a masking class where you're going to learn how to find the interesting things in a piece. You're going to learn how they describe. And you're gonna take their words to then promote it.

Mindy McClendon: Okay.

Jessica Craddock: So this is just kinda a living document that you can use to bring back and get better and better and better.

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Okay.

 And then after having done it, I'll have the Google doc with all of my data, but I'll also have done it. So the fear of the unknown won't be looming over me as much.

Jessica Craddock: And you can take pictures during it, put all that in the document. So you're just creating an archive of the class.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Craddock: I do the same thing with classes that I teach for other people's groups. I have a folder where I have different classes that I've taught, the description of them, the bullet points that they get from them, and like my notes that go with it, and a link to a landing page I created around that class.

So it's super helpful so I don't have to create from scratch all the time. Yeah. I can go back and be like, I've got something great for you. Here you go. Done.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah. You've created your own custom personal template really.

Jessica Craddock: Mm. Exactly. And this is just idea number one. So you might do this and they say, I loved this other thing.

I loved making the marks. I loved mixing the color. I loved whatever that is. You could take that to become your next class.

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: Also, as you were talking about what you do and teaching your class and making connections with all these people, asking them if they want to connect, whether it's on your Instagram, on your email list, wherever it is, so you can have them as part of your crew now.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: So that's step one. Teach the class.

And I know that is a far cry from the Art Empire. But that's how we get to Art Empire is by step one over and over and over and over, but also paying attention to stop for a second and align to where we want to go, so that the steps we are taking aren't just random.

They're very purposeful and methodical and here's where I'm going. How do I take my first step toward that? So looking at today, looking at the future where you want it to be, going that direction.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that's where your help has come in. So it's been vital for me to have someone help me go in that direction. Instead, I tend to get so hyper focused on one little detail and obsess over that.

Meanwhile, everything else is still going on around, and I'm not even paying attention to all that. So it's nice to have a little help .

Jessica Craddock: Big picture.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah, big picture.

Jessica Craddock: So you almost have to out-of-body experience it for a second. Get outta my head. Where do I, what do I want?

Where do I want to go?

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: It's not, maybe it's not that easy for everyone. Those two happen to be in my strengths, so it's easier for me to help pull that out for you. But I think that it's a learnable skill as well. I think it's something that you can learn to do if you see it over and over and

over and over.

Mindy McClendon: Well, thank God because you've had to tell me over and over and over again before it sinks into my head. But when I first started this journey, I really, I looked at, so just as an example, I looked at Instagram as, if I'm gonna be an artist online, I need to have, Instagram has to be tricked out.

Like it's got to be a certain way. But Instagram is just a tool to use in the whole mix with everything else, and it took me a long time to see it that way.

Jessica Craddock: I feel like that's my mission in life. All these different teachers, myself included, are telling you to do different things.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Craddock: And it's not that any one person is right or wrong. Does that align with what you want to be doing?

Mindy McClendon: Yeah.

Jessica Craddock: So being able to filter through is this in line with what's giving me the most results, with what's making me the happiest with where I want to go. And if it does, then great.

Listen to that person, and if it doesn't, oh well, next person. There's always going to be someone else.

Mindy McClendon: Yeah. But it's also important to know what that is, to know what it is that you want.

Jessica Craddock: Yes. Taking a minute to step back and look at that.

Mindy McClendon: Mm-hmm.

Jessica Craddock: Okay. Well, Mindy, this was the most fun conversation. I loved it. I already told people how to find your Instagram. Is there anywhere else where you would like them to go?

Mindy McClendon: You can find me on my website at www.mindymclendon.com. 

Jessica Craddock: Perfect.

Mindy McClendon: Thank you for having me. It's been a lot of fun.

Jessica Craddock: Thank you for being here. I super appreciate you taking the time.

Thanks for

Mindy McClendon: your insights too. I'm gonna keep you posted on my class.

Jessica Craddock: Please do. And if there's any way for someone to attend virtually, I would love to come.

Mindy McClendon: Okay. Okay. I'll keep you posted on that too.

Jessica Craddock: Okay. Sounds good. 

More about Intuitive Art Sales

This is the show where I, Jessica Craddock, am going to teach you how to source your art marketing from within. You're going to practice claiming that authentic art business that you want and leaning into the most natural way for you to get there. You're going to learn to get connected to your intuition, your confidence and your community, so that you can sell your art consistently while holding strong boundaries on your work life balance.

Seasons 1 & 2 are full of interviews with your peers. In these episodes, I explore what each artist wants and give them the next steps to get there. You can take their struggles and their challenges and learn how to navigate your own and create actionable steps towards creating more art sales, more consistently at higher prices than you've ever sold before.

You can find all the episodes here.

About the Author

Jessica Craddock

I mentor intuitive visual artists who are sick of one-size-fits all formulas sell more work, more consistently, at higher prices — with better work/life balance. My clients regularly make 3x more in art sales within a year.

Using my signature Consistent Income method, we’ll push you over the precipice of some really amazing growth so you can become the creator of your next chapter.

My secret sauce is that we focus on not just the "doing", but also the "being". Affirmations, trusting yourself, knowing when to go slow and when to go fast, practicing getting out of your comfort zone and making room for the feelings that go with that... all this is equally as important as the action steps.

For once, you'll be ahead of the game and understand what's right for you.

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