On April 18, 2010 I found an art coach.  In a book I've been reading called "How To Get Started Selling Your Art" (surefire methods and expert advise lead you to sales of your art) by Carole Katchen I read on page 24 that every artist needs a mentor, or someone who knows the art business that has time to help you make good decisions about selling your art.  My first assignments from my art coach, Paula Swenson, was to create a physical embodiment of my muse, keep a list of what I am feeling when I am in a good mood, and what I am feeling when I am in a bad mood, and to take a few minutes each day to think about how I want my career as an artist to be and to visualize that in my mind in terms of things I might buy to use in my studio, how many hours a day I would work, and where my work would be sold.  I was given two weeks to complete these tasks, and I have a few days until they are due.  At first I struggled with being able to create a physical embodiment of my muse, because I conceptualize my muse as something that can not be captured.  It is always in movement.  It speaks to me in dreams.  I might be out for a stroll, and I will see something that grabs my attention.  It could be the way someone is dressed, an old car or beat up truck, but whatever it is I will have a rush of ideas that I will have to jot down in my sketch book so I can use it later or I will forget exactly what it was that inspired me by the time I get back to my studio.  My muse is a creative spirit that needs me to paint and be creative in order for it to live.  If I stop painting, then it's gone, and I won't know when it will visit me again.  That's when Paula decided to give me another assignment.  Yesterday I started painting in water color for 15 minutes a day.  I have to paint something even if I'm not inspired at all.  I just go through the motions of dipping my brush in a color and seeing what it looks like on Bristol board.  The key is to" focus on PROCESS not PRODUCT" Paula says.  Here are some quick 15 minute water color paintings I have done from this exercise:

I really like blue, so I started with the background and made this blue cavern filled with Gothic arch like structures.  I also like role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, so I wanted there to be a heroic character ready to take on any challenge in its path. The hero holds a shield that has a special design that I made up many years ago I call "The Shield of Confidence."  The eye on the mountain is a symbol for higher awareness of self and others.  There are two levels of awareness, and each level opposes the other.  The dark self, or the yin self according to eastern philosophy refers to my muse.  It is the self that is dormant or sleeping within, not yet realized, untapped potential energy waiting to manifest up to the conscious self; the light self or the yang.  Having this symbol on the hero's shield is a reminder to him not to get too involved with one form of awareness, and to try to understand both levels of awareness as a whole. 
As the hero pursues his destiny he faces two elements: The cat that represents his friends and all those who are supportive of his goals in life, and the dragon, which is representative of negative forces weather they be non believers in the hero, or physical obstacles that the hero will have to decide how to maneuver around.
Each time I paint for 15 minutes, I set a timer, but when the timer goes off, I can't always stop immediately.  I might be in the middle of a brush stroke, or finishing up an area of detail.  The timer tells me it's time to wrap things up.  I finish what I have going, and bring it to a conclusion.

Today I was eating breakfast with my family, and our cat, Stripes, a brown tabby/Siamese one year old cat decided to smell the flowers that sit on our dining room table.  I was inspired by that, and I didn't know what else to paint at the time, so I painted Stripes smelling the flowers.  I really like Stripes and his sister Lady Lite.  She is mostly Siamese and is the same age as Stripes.  Lady Lite doesn't allow people to hold her for long, but when she wants attention she will bump her head against your ankle, and rub her butt against your legs.  Animals are great for finding inspiration.  I think I could paint a whole series of acrylic paintings that feature cats, and you know what?  I just might!
I really like this exercise of painting for 15 minutes a day no matter how I'm feeling.  I always feel really good and happy after I've painted.  I think it's good to get into the habit of painting every day, and I think that's what is going to help me evolve in my career as a professional artist.