Client Case Studies
I often tell artists to ask other artists before they embark on new ventures. If you’ve been thinking about coaching, but want some reassurance that A.C.T. coaching will serve you well, see what these clients have to say about their experiences.
Read on …
Lee McVey, Established Artist. (Pastel and Oils)
Client since 2002
A high school art teacher in New Jersey for 25 years, Lee was a mid-career artist when we began to work together just before her retirement. Lee creates “Landscapes that people feel they can walk right into” with pastels and oils. She had a strong signature style that appealed to her east coast audience and galleries who accepted her work. Lee is a perfectionist, methodical fact finder and cautious decision-maker.
Her initial charge to me was to help her make a significant life transition to realize her lifelong dream of living in New Mexico, without significant loss of income or exacerbation of ongoing health challenges. Her retirement income was adequate but not excessive and would require income from sales of her work to support her as a single earner.
We developed a plan for a gradual transition that allowed her to retain east coast clients and connections while she established herself in the Albuquerque art scene and recalibrated her art style to appeal to a local audience.
Next, I helped her establish a full time art business that went beyond selling original art. With a preference for introversion and modesty, she initially resisted my suggestions that she build on her art teaching experience to deliver workshops and do demonstrations of her work style in public to attract a new local audience.
Demand for her work and workshops grew and her exhibits in arts organizations and galleries expanded as her work gained local attention. A signature member of Pastel Society of America, Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, Pastel Society of New Mexico, Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod, and Sierra Pastel Society. Her pastels have since been featured in full-length articles in the magazines American Artist and International Artist. Lee's work is featured in the books The Jack Richeson Annual: The Plein Air New Mexico Year and How Did You Paint That? 100 Ways to Paint the Landscape. Lee has co-organized and co-curated the annual invitational landscape painting exhibit, Open Space: A View with Room, for Albuquerque's Open Space Visitor Center.
The next phase of our work was to achieve greater balance in her life so that her health and social life were not eclipsed by her art career, but enhanced instead. To do so required eliciting answers from Lee in areas that seemed hidden or unreachable and ensuring that Lee was comfortable even when we were delving into sensitive areas. She was a widowed at a young age but had always wanted another life partner relationship and we included that in our coaching work to balance her art, life and marketing. She has just moved into a new home with her fiancé, a relationship she thought might not be possible at her age. Her health was another high priority and has seen significant improvements, allowing her to participate in plein air workshops, manage and deliver her own workshops and continue to pursue opportunities to expand the exposure of her art to audiences beyond New Mexico.
“My involvement in A.C.T. is a commitment to and investment in my career and it's one I think is well worth it. I've never regretted the years I've been with the program.”
I am not long on written words (even though I can chatter on the phone or in person) but my answers are sincere. It is a pleasure to work with Aletta. I have always felt listened to with empathy, but Aletta is also able to guide me and dissuade me from limiting thoughts. She has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter and eliciting answers from me in areas that had seemed hidden or unreachable.
She certainly is a wealth of resources. I don't know how she keeps up with all the information and finding new ideas that she does. I doubt I would have wanted to go through this process with someone other than Aletta. I have always felt comfortable with her even when the maps were delving into sensitive areas. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Aletta as a coach for someone interested in making their life more rewarding and effective.” Lee McVey, www.leemcvey.com
Patrice Federspiel, Established Artist. (Watercolor)
Client since 2002
Born in Port Washington, WI, island artist Patrice A. Federspiel received a BS in Art Education at the University of Wisconsin/Madison, but didn’t begin her teaching or painting career until after she’d moved to Honolulu in 2000. Within six months she had met other artists and was selling paintings and prints on the Zoo Fence in Honolulu (a fifty-year old tradition). She is a contributor to Jack Canfield’s best selling series of Chicken Soup Books – this one for The Hawaiian Soul.
Her initial charge to me was to help her continue this significant life transition and support herself in one of the more expensive locations to live and where art serves the transient tourist trade. Patrice is adventurous, quick to take action and a spontaneous decision-maker. We developed a plan for a solid foundation of sales of originals and prints while she developed multiple sources of income to establish herself in the Hawai’i art scene and recalibrated her art style to appeal to a local audience described as “creating the essence of living aloha.” An important goal was to distinguish her work from the many artists who created tropical floral exclusively for the tourist market. Patrice absorbed the local culture and her work reflects deep cultural connections with local traditions.
At mid-career Patrice joined several art groups, finding a permanent home as a signature member, past president and trustee of the Hawai`i Watercolor Society. She has shown her paintings in numerous exhibits, often winning awards. Today, as an established artist her work can be found in many galleries on Oahu and online as well as licensed for reproductions and cards. She currently teaches watercolor classes privately and through the Honolulu Museum of Art.
The next phase of our work was to expand her business without sacrificing time to make art, and capitalize on her natural tendency to extroversion, along with superior communication skills in person and in writing. She was a co-leader of “Start Your Art Business” and mentored emerging artists with me. Based on her reputation and the caliber of her art, she was recently offered the ownership of a gallery in Oahu. Current projects include a series of illustrated books for children, an online training course for beginner artists on watercolor techniques.
“Coaching has helped me take many concrete steps forward in my art career. As a result of working through things together, I feel I have a partner in Aletta. I also have a better sense of where I might get stuck and a renewed sense of direction to keep me moving forward. The fact that I can review where I have come from and see better where I am going, keeps me focused.
I have a greater sense of clarity, purpose, and direction. This was the most comprehensive coaching program I have worked through and the results are long lasting. Having a visual picture, a map, of the process certainly helps me feel more grounded and keeps me focused on my path.
Together, Aletta and I decided on a two- to three-week time span between when I would receive a unit and we would discuss it. This was great because it allowed for variables that come up regularly in my art career.
Within one day of each coaching session, Aletta sent me a link to the recording of our conversation and then sent the next unit to me, giving me plenty of time to do the work before our next coaching session.
When I felt resistance, for example to creating my vision board, Aletta listened to my fears, discussed my resistance with me, shared some of her experiences creating her board, and rescheduled our time. Aletta’s flexibility gave me more time to complete the board before we discussed it. Her understanding and willingness to discuss my fears was very helpful to my process.
Finishing the vision board was a turning point for me in this process. I have felt myself more grounded in my business decisions. I feel I have a stronger sense of where I am and where I am headed.
I had a general idea of what I wanted, but found myself hesitant to write things down. I knew the time frame in which I wanted to attract things, and Aletta helped me decide what to write. Now I’m confident when I look at the map for my future, knowing this, or something better is coming to me. It feels like a good tool to use over and over again as I continue to move through my life’s challenges and reach for new goals.
My goals have become more specific. For example, this year I set a specific dollar amount that I want to gross for the year, and then broke it down to a monthly amount. The size of that number scared me when I first saw it, but I have been meeting my monthly goals and feel more confident as a result.” Patrice Federspiel, www.artofaloha.com
Karen Schmidt, Mid Career Artist. (Sculptor)
Los Angeles, CA
Client from 2011-2012
Born in Los Angeles, sculptor, Karen Schmidt, studied fine art and education at California State University Fullerton, and earned degrees in both disciplines. Beginning in 1996, she studied under Russian artist and sculptor Simon Kogan, which allowed her to acquire a foundation for understanding the classical approach to the human figure. In 1997, Karen was awarded her first commission, “Maasai Mother and Child,” and has since then worked primarily by way of commission. Some of her other achievements include receiving a Bene Award for “Mary & Elizabeth” in 2006, as well as having her piece “Ugandan Sisters” selected for the National Sculpture Society’s 72nd Annual Exhibition in New York, NY. Karen is a member of Christians in Visual Arts (CIVA), and the Association of Consultants for Liturgical Space (ACLS). Since 1996, Karen’s work has been selected and featured at a number of juried and invitational exhibitions nationwide.
Her initial charge to me was to help her curate her work and help her present a professional web site to market her work to secure profitable commissions from people of faith and liturgical organizations. She was mystified by art marketing – describing it as a big black monster - and wanted to generate an income rather than a deficit. Her pricing was under market and below the cost of producing bronzed works.
We began with creating a clear vision of an art career that would allow her to create sculptures that explore spiritual truth through simplicity and beauty through contemplation of biblical and contemporary themes. Next we developed clear business goals, guidelines and a process for negotiating the scope, scale, timelines and pricing guidelines for large commission projects requested by liturgical consultants and churches. She secured a project, which she initially thought she would create for barely the cost of production but instead was repriced at $97,000 to allow for profit to cover her time and talents. Subsequent proposals ranged to over $200,000. Now that we had created cash flow, she hired a business manager so that she could accept more commissions and enter and travel to prestigious shows like the Loveland Sculpture Invitational. We developed detailed marketing plans and designed communication vehicles like a newsletter and blog posts. As the commissions grew larger and more complex, she moved to a new studio, hired an intern and had specialized equipment built to sculpt at varying heights.