Artist in Progress

detail peach sorbet peonies
Peach Sorbet Peonies, detail, 24X24, oil


Where do words go that were meant to be said, but were never spoken? A dear friend, a young woman who came to all my shows, who helped me put up art fair tents in heat and take them down in rain, who visited our home and whose love of laughter and passion for pug rescue intermingled with my own, died in her sleep on Monday night. All the phone calls I didn’t make, all the times we did not get together because of busy work lives, are haunting me now. Last night I dreamed I was standing at the foot of a ladder and she was at the top. As she reached upward, I cried out to her. She smiled down and said, Don’t be sad, everything is going to be alright.

When I first became a full-time artist, I fantasized about free time: Time to paint, time to spend with friends, time to create. But it’s hard to walk away from a job you absolutely love. Weekdays and weekends merge together into a calendar that is always full. An art business is different from making widgets or counting numbers in a corporate office. Making art, painting and teaching, is about people. It’s about connecting with others on a personal level. More than anything else, it’s about caring. I’ve been the recipient of so many caring gestures, kind notes, and time and love from others on this journey. Measuring all I’ve been given, I’m overwhelmed at the size of the thank you that I owe.

When I first began teaching, the one thing I wanted to do, was provide a way for those on fixed incomes to be able to take art classes. Many who paint are retirees, and have to be careful with budgeting, travel, and time. Thanks to my team, Jude, Rachel and Joel, we launched one of the first monthly online oil painting classes. The Joyful Brush has been a dream come true for me, allowing students to get high quality lessons without a large financial commitment up front. Artists from around the world have joined me on this journey, and have formed fast friendships with one another over shared interests and a love for art. For the members of The Joyful Brush, for my flower family, my heart is full of thanks.

But I have more dreams to come. What else I can do for artists, what can I create that will make their journeys more joyful and that will erase the barriers that stand between them and their desire to paint and to learn. I’ll be sharing new ideas with you in the coming year. In the meantime, I’m enjoying your suggestions for enrichment and recharging – fabulous writers such as Maria Shriver and others who uplift are endless sources of fuel and inspiration.

My biggest fear has been a feeling that I am falling behind, that there is so much I want to do, I will never catch up. But I realized this week, I am an artist in progress. I’m not an opus or a masterpiece or a master anything. I’m a simple work in progress, and it’s the art journey, not the finished product, that is the source of joy. I’m learning to slow down just a bit, to breathe, to pick up the phone and call dear friends again, and to connect with those who share their hearts and their love of art.

How can I thank you properly for a year of dreams come true? Have you found a beautiful solution for giving thanks, or for refueling your busy art life? I would love to hear from you. Even if you have nothing to add except to let me know how you are doing, it is always such a gift to hear from you. May your holidays be filled with happiness, and with beautiful memories.


avery christmas
Avery in her holiday sweater


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Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


  1. Nancy, I’m terribly saddened to hear of your friend. What tough news. I think we all have had times in life when God commanded a stop, and after pitching a major temper tantrum have realized that it’s about breathing time. Time to appreciate what we have. At each stop, my world of wishful conquests has reduced. I find contentment in smaller things. I realize how people are treasures and how blessed I am to have them in my life. The desire for a rich full life never goes away, but it does change.

    • Thank you Martha, I appreciate that. People really are the true treasures in life, you are a wise (and talented) lady! 🙂 x

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your friend. It seems as we get older, we start losing friends and family members more frequently than when we were younger. It does make you stop and pause, to reflect on our lives and realize how fragile life really is. If the intention of these losses are to wake us up to this reality, it certainly has worked for me… I send more cards, say I love you often, and thank God for the internet, which keeps us all connected! God bless, Nancy. You are in the right place, and may God watch over you and your family. I am one of those people you have helped become a better artist. I think your friend would have smiled at all these comments because she knows she was a part of your life! 🙂 Lots of love to you, Carlos, and the Puggies! xo

    • Such beautiful insights Rose, thank you for sharing that. I sure hope we are in the right place, I know that when I take time to breathe, it does feel that way. 🙂

  3. So sorry for your loss. And once again thank you for your words of wisdom and your insightful perspective as an artist. I retired so I would have more time to paint and found myself so busy I worry I won’t get it all done, or learn how to take my art to the next level because I am so busy teaching and painting for classes. Thinking of myself as an artist in process does help to put it all in perspective. Thank you. Happy holidays to you and your family. Give the puggies a squeeze from me.

  4. While drinking my coffee this morning I read your sad news and I am sorry for the loss of your friend. Yesterday, was my wedding anniversary of twelve years to my sweetheart John. We had both lost our spouses to cancer and met thru a common friend. Death is so final and we make sure we enjoy each day and are so grateful we have found each other…each day is a present. I had always wanted to oil paint and now when I paint it also brings such joy into my life and I learn something new constantly, which I love. The problem for me was that I was accumulating “some” paintings although I had given lots to my family and friends and had never sold any. I had an opportunity to donate to some very worthy fund raising events in the area and so I did. Framed and ready to go I was thrilled that funds could be raised and someone would be able to enjoy my art. I look at what I paint as giving back. Thank you Nancy for giving so much happiness to so many. for the “puppies”.

    • Barbara that is a wonderful way to give back – isn’t that cool that your art will give others joy, and also raise funds for a worthy cause! PS – I just hugged the puggies for you – 🙂

  5. So sorry to hear of the loss of your friend, and the feelings of regret you feel.

    It may be hard at times to fit in all the things that bring you joy… you just have to have faith in yourself that you are making decisions and choices that your heart and soul and inner self point you towards and dont look back. You are living the life you love – embrace it! Remember what your friend said:
    “Don’t be sad, everything is going to be alright.” Hugs ~ Mary

  6. Nancy I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. And as a fellow artist, yes- I understand the ‘work in progress’. I wonder if I’ll have the years to accomplish all the things I’d like to?! Blessings to you my painter friend.

  7. Nancy, I am so sorry that you lost your dear friend. Your insightful words hit home for me too. For some reason, I commented to some of my friends, that it is hard to celebrate when others have recently heard some bad health news or have lost dear ones. I, too, seem seem to be running and never get to where I want to in my goals, painting, and just life. I am finishing my last class in Brilliant Italy tonight. I am in several of your classes, and trying to get it all done and SATISFIED with my work is so hard for me. Work in Progress certainly applies to me. Your blogs are so rewarding; your quality lessons are loved by your students; and your creativity inspires all of us. . Before I start painting tonight, however, I am going to make a few calls and send a few emails. Thanks for reminding us of what is important. Happy Thanksgiving week-end.

    • Lynnda I know how busy you are, but I also know how well organized you are! Your words made me think, I wish we had just one day of the week always set aside as “reach out to friends” day! xoxo

  8. Hi Nancy,
    Your friend sounded like she enjoyed giving of herself. And enjoyed her friendship with you.
    And while dreaming of her she gave you a lasting and loving gift…..she’ll be alright.
    To everything there is a season.

  9. It was with a tear in my eye I read your message. Yes, I dealt with lots of crazy struggles the last few years but this year has gave me a sense of calmness(some of the time). I too like to share my gift with my friends either with my art or art therapy- a group paint . I try to treasure that love too, and worry I miss someone. My motto is “everythings gonna be alright”- always playing that tune in my head-. My sympathy at the loss of your friend- ….
    As the cold weather keeps me inside I look forward to catching up on all my classes I have delayed thru the warmer weather.

    • Lisa an art therapy group painting session sounds wonderful! I think you’re exactly right about letting song lyrics comfort you. Thank you for the kind words, and the sympathy. xo

  10. Hi Nancy. I really feel grateful for your candid blog entry. I’m sad to hear of your friend passing so suddenly. One of the things I do to keep myself in a grateful state of mind is to love my dogs. They are so trusting and grateful themselves, believing I will take the best care of them I know how. I know you are no stranger to that. Another is to not give up on my painting. Every week I decide, again, to give up painting. And every week I take a breath and try again. Thank you Nancy. Thank you !!!

  11. Sometimes life is just so beautiful, there is so much to be grateful for… like the kindness and love your friend gave you. I’ve pondered the generosity and thoughtfulness of friends I’ve met along my art journey… it’s humbling. If I think about it too much I’ll cry all day! My dear friend Joy had a triple bypass Tuesday, she is recovering and everything is going well. Your story reminded me of Joy, she was always there to help me set up for classes and clean up after. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a kind and loyal friend but I am so grateful. She moved to Florida last year so we don’t get to see each other too often but in my heart we are still close.

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