I knew I wanted to elevate my art practice, but I wasn’t sure what I needed… I had been looking at learning how to improve my website, or should I take an Instagram course? Instead I joined Nicholas Wilton’s CVP (Creative Visionary Programme) in March 2016 the first time he ran it. Why?
In my heart I knew what I wanted. I wanted to really spend my time on making my art better. The best it could be.
I had been reading and enjoying Nicholas’ weekly emails and something made me feel this would be a Good Move.
This programme has truly transformed the way I work and many of you have been asking about it, so here’s my honest review of CVP to help you decide if it’s the right thing for you, your life and your art. For two years in 2019 and 2020 I was a coach on the program so I know it well and have seen from the inside the results it brings for people.
What exactly is CVP?
CVP is a three-month programme that’s all about making your art stronger and unique to you. It’s not a join-and-watch-in-isolation course (although you can do it that way if you prefer!) There is a huge amount of personal interaction. You will be working alongside the other members (artists at all levels) on your own paintings and will be able to upload your work as it develops, see paintings adjusted so you can really see the principles in action. It’s run by Californian artist Nicholas Wilton, and a strong support team of other practising artists.
(Beforehand you can join the FREE Art2Life workshop for a small taster to introduce you to some key ideas to improve your art.)
In 2023 this starts on 13th February and you can sign up HERE now.
Across 10 modules, CVP helps artists get clear on their own path – what really sets you alight – and moves on to the six Art2Life principles of Design, Value, Colour, Texture, Risk and Soul and finally Launch. This program provides a solid foundation to build a sustainable, enjoyable art practice and create a significant shift in your work. It’s not a business course – it’s about making the core of your art practice enjoyable and rewarding. It’s this sense of ease and exploration which felt such a release for me.
My 100% Honest Review of CVP
CVP came just at the right stage for me. I knew my work could be better, I just wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get it there. Working on my own perhaps made me more hesitant – it was easier to feel my way slowly in small steps and CVP gave me the approval that it was really OK to dive into what I really wanted to create. More importantly, it showed me just how to do that.
My feelings changed from frustration to excitement as I started working with a wider sense of freedom and exploration. When I enrolled in early 2016, I had a website and a small following. Since then I’ve seen my work take off. Other people seem more drawn to it (and importantly now I have more understanding of why) and perhaps my confidence has grown so that taking steps towards bringing it to a wider audience feels easier. Honestly, I feel sick if I think about not having taken the program…
So do you have to be a professional artist?
No – we are all creatives together and this course will include artists at all levels. Wherever you are on that journey (and wherever you want to take it) you will find these principles will help.
If you are just beginning, then having this understanding will take you forwards in larger leaps than figuring it out by yourself. The information is presented in easily understandable short chunks, with clear demonstrations and a practical way to put the ideas into practice and see the work reviewed.
If you are more experienced, this is an opportunity to refresh and invigorate your art. If your art is authentic and in alignment with what inspires you, it becomes more desirable and much easier to share with others and sell. The course helps clarify your artistic expression and reignite your creativity and excitement. It has given me a way to review and ‘crit’ my own work against a hierarchy of principles I decide to be important. That means I rarely get stuck, and waste less time – very precious when I’m working within a busy family life.
Is it for you? Well, it depends…
How CVP works
The Art2Life CVP Program is a twelve week program, plus one rest week in the middle. You access the lessons each week with videos you can watch anytime and anywhere. Each week there are 7-10 short videos (about 2 hours total) plus time needed to do the exercises / continue your panels (about 2.5 hours) And however much time time you choose to spend within the group discussing what you are learning.
Every week there is a group call with Nicholas (about 1.5hrs) which you can join live to ask questions, or submit them in advance. These are recorded so you can watch them later. There will also be an extra coaching session during the week by the Art2Life team coaches which give extra support. You will probably find others asking the same questions – and seeing their problems resolved is often and easier way to ‘see’ how you can learn from the same issue.
This content needs to be heard and then re-heard, in some cases multiple times. If you really want to shift your art, it only can be accomplished by fully understanding the areas in art making that you were never taught.
It’s very practical – you learn as you create a series of paintings during the course. This practice is something you may be familiar with as a way of working, or something you later keep within your own process, but it’s designed to teach you by experience so you fully learn the content. You can then apply this understanding to your own process – whatever that is for you.
NOTE: In 2022 CVP was redesigned to give an even better experience. I didn’t take part that year, but now in 2023 I’m re-doing CVP for the first time – as a student again – and I’m excited to be part of it again!
Who I think CVP is perfect for
CVP is perfect if you have the feeling you need something ‘more’ in your art. Maybe you’ve been working the same way for a while and you want to explore a new direction. Maybe you know you can make it better, but you’re not sure what to try or you don’t know where to push it – and where to relax.
If you are frustrated with your own progress, or want to learn with others. This is unlike anything I’ve ever taken. I didn’t quite believe it could work online – but it does because of the commitment of the team behind it. There is a depth of understanding and a genuine desire to help which really comes across.
Who I think CVP is not for
It’s not for you if you are wedded to your way of working and are not prepared to experiment in order to learn. There is a degree of trust involved – I remember wondering quite where it was all going to lead and feeling frustrated at times that it didn’t seem to be ‘coming together’. Like any new learning it can take time to integrate. You will have the support of the community.
I don’t paint abstracts – is it for me?
Nicholas’ work is abstract (but it hasn’t always been) and many, but not all, people taking part are here to explore that. But many of the examples in the weekly teaching calls are representational so you can see the principles at work. There will be plenty of people working this way too.
Whatever your style, the principles still apply. The practical element may feel a little unusual. But be prepared; this may bring a radical change – or show you the small differences which can really elevate your work.
What CVP won’t give you…
Clearly I’m a big fan of CVP as it had a huge impact on my own art practice, but this is not a step-by-step tutorial to make paintings that sell.
A fulfilling art practice (and career if you want that) takes time. It takes a lot of YOU, which is why it’s so helpful to have input and support from others who just ‘get’ exactly what you are talking about!
It’s not a business course. It won’t teach you the nuts and bolts of building your website, but I have found that the principles of what makes us attracted to things, knowing your own vision and understanding how things are viewed together has helped me with everything from how my Instagram feed looks to being bolder in my choices about my home and even travel ambitions. Weird, I know.
Frequently Asked Questions about CVP
Here are some questions you may still have. If you don’t see yours or are still wondering about your unique situation, feel free to email me (email@example.com) – or we can arrange a time to talk.
When does enrolment open?
The 2023 program will be open in late February, but first….
You get to join a free taster workshop HERE
How much is it? Is it expensive?
CVP is $2397 if paid in full. There is one time payment and extended payment options available.
Is that expensive? Compared to what? Only you can decide that. Considering the breadth of the program and how this can impact your work for years going forward, I think it’s great value. It did feel like a big investment (ok, huge) for me; but it made me up my game and I thought about how I could cover the cost with painting sales… I’m so glad I joined, but if you do and then decide it’s not for you – there is a 30 day guarantee.
What materials will I need?
You will need 12×12” wooden ply panels to work on and acrylic paint. A full list is supplied, but much of it you will already have to hand. This size is chosen so that you can cover the space on multiple pieces relatively quickly. The faster and more frequent the changes on your art, the faster and more efficient you will understand this new learning.
Do I have to work in acrylics?
The program suggests you work in acrylics. There is a reason for this – the speed of drying and ability to work in layers with both opaque and translucent paint keeps you moving and learning quickly. Nick’s larger paintings are in oils and the principles apply to all mediums, although some of the shared practical processes (primarily in the texture section) are more applicable to acrylics.
Working in watercolour or collage in my sketchbook has been helped by taking these principles on board – knowing what information I want to record or what will be most helpful or most of interest. It’s a way to filter all the visual knowledge you have. Even if you don’t want acrylic to be your main medium you will find these exercises will inform your main one.
Should I take this or get my website ready first?
Sharing your work with others (and helping others) is a key part of what Nicholas teaches. But having great work you are confident about is the first cornerstone of any of the more “business-like” elements of your work.
But I already know the theory of art – what will I gain from this?
I thought I knew colour theory too. But sometimes hearing things presented in a different way, means they really sink in. This isn’t dry theory, but a practical study which leads you through these principles. The Risk and Soul elements may not be as visibly strong, but it’s the combination of the whole approach which really make this quite unique and will bring you such a signifiant shift.
Many people say they learnt more on this program than years at art school.
I’m too busy – I’m not sure I have time
One of the first teaching modules in the program is about mindset – how to make your practice a relief from a busy life, not an additional burden. For the first 2-3 weeks there is very little painting – an intentional gentle start as we lay the foundations. If you can allow 2-3 hours a week for painting that will be enough (although I admit I was just a little obsessed and probably spent longer!) Many people take the programme alongside a full time job.
During any long program most people have other family or work commitments, or holiday plans during the program (I missed 10 days right at the start) – you can catch up at anytime and go at your own pace. You will have access to the portal for a full year. Much of the content is also supplied as audio which you can download and listen while you are driving or working.
Can I join later this year instead?
The program only runs once a year – the next chance will be in spring 2024. Just think where your art could be by then!
Phew! I hope that helps…. If you want to ask more you can ask in the comments below which may help others, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or we can find a time to talk
Thank you x
I had a friend just complete this and couldn’t say enough!! She loved the program. Will there be a payment plan for those 12 weeks? And when does 2021 class start ?Exciting
Hi Susan, the 2021 class is just completed – it will run again likely in February 2022
Hi! Your comments on CVP were most helpful. Are you having buddy group for 2021 and are you having people sign up through you rather directly? I couldn’t quite tell. Many thanks-
Hi Ally – yes – there is a page in the menu – FOR ARTISTS with all the details on. x
Hi Alice, I just hope you remember me – we met a good few years ago at Judit Morgan’s and then once I visited you just before you were preparing for your first exhibition (I think it was within the Artists at home or something similar community…) Then I kind of disapeared….. I came accross Nick’s Art2Life free 3 days course by chance and I truly enjoyed it, it made me work a lot this week. And I really enjoyed it. Your name poped up several times as someone he refers to as a success story so I am here now reading your review on CVP as I am considering signing up for the course. I mostly paint figurative and in oils (but would love to free this up and get towards some non-figurative, more expressive direction). Like the book by Joyn Seed – Disrupted realism……
Actually I don’t think, I need too much, just a little encouragement. Or I just wanted to get in touch and let you know about me… Also whether will you teach this year? Will you have the little group you mentioned above? And whether you get any comission if I book through you? Anita x
I am seriously considering taking part in CVP 2021 and would be very happy to be a part of your smaller group as mentioned above. I did FYJ this year and it was a very large group. It did feel quite daunting at first but I eased into it better than expected especially being fairly new to this. Louise’s grounding guidance probably had a lot to do with it. Also recently completed SPARK with Nicholas Wilton and I loved it. Also a very large group but a completely different vibe which felt right for me. I do think the idea of also having a small group as well as the larger community would be very helpful. Thanks.
Hi Belinda, It’s a great program. I won’t be coaching within it for 2021 and we haven’t worked out our “support bonus” yet, but yes a smaller group alongside has helped people in the past so do check back as anything we do will be for people who join via our special ‘Art Juice’ link.
Hello, I’m curious how many people are in the CVP course at one time.
It’s grown, with over 1000 people in 2020. But it’s an extensive programme with lessons and live support. There may be some changes for 2021, I won’t be coaching again as I wish to concentrate on my own work and support, but do check back nearer the time if you have any questions and I’m happy to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Was wondering if Nicholas works a lot with acrylics and how the course is taught mostly in acrylics when it seems like most of Nicholas’ work is done with oil. Even though the concepts extended to both mediums, I am curious to what extent some techniques (especially layering and drips) may be limited by the use of acrylic vs oil. Would love to hear / talk more about that if you have a moment. All the best!
Hi Henry, Yes Nick’s larger paintings are done using oil, but he uses acrylics for the smaller pieces he does – which is what the practical elements of the programme are based around as an easier way to work through the principles. It’s not so much about techniques (although some shared will be more applicable to acrylic) but about really getting an understanding of how you can use some key elements to direct the impact your work has. Acrylic is a great vehicle for this because it dries and allows you to re-visit, but the ideas translate through to other mediums too.
Hi Alice, I have just finished Louise’s free taster Find your Joy. i can’t tell you how much i got out of it, fantastic.
I feel so stupid now because a few years ago i signed up for Nicholas’s free course, but i didn’t think it was anything i wanted , how stupid can one be.
I think i have missed out on something really special.
i can’t afford any of these paid courses, so to take advantage of free courses is fantastic .
i came to art late in life, only once i retired and i love it.
There are some wonderful things now available, so do take advantage of them!
Hi Alice, I’ve just enrolled in the 2020 CVP via your link and look forward to connecting with you and others during the program, and in your smaller group. It’s a significant investment in AUD and I’ll make the most of it. I enljoyed watching the video of you talking about your experience and becoming a mentor… so I looked you up.
Hi Jenny, I’m glad you found these things helpful in your decision. Yes, it is significant – and that’s partly why we all work so hard and you will see why when you are inside 🙂 xx
I am not sure any online course is worth 2,320.00 dollars. This particular course costs 2k but he charges around 350.00 to borrow from him for six months. He is a single inventor of this concept. The experience was way hyped out about his amazing ability to change artists. Too much bravado for my taste and most pedigree artists would seriously agree. The courses value is 50.00 on YouTube. And the fact you do not own this serious long winded content for 2,350.00 makes Me feel like a damn idiot for taking the Visionary Course.
Hi Valerie, I’m sorry you had this experience of the programme. As I mention, I agree it’s a serious consideration and that includes how you choose to pay for it. There is a 30 day refund period if you feel you don’t wish to continue. The considerable feedback from course participants who complete the programme show that most artists who take it feel the content is of huge value (over 95% believed the program was organized and effective and would recommend the program to a friend, over 90% felt it was priced fairly or good value) and I certainly wouldn’t share it if I hadn’t seen the changes it brought for people. You have access to all the materials, lessons, downloads and call recordings for a full year as there is a lot to watch and many people like to review as they continue to work on their own pieces throughout the following year at their own pace.
Hi Alice! I just found this! Sorry I didn’t know about the referral. It wasn’t that you referred it, its just that during one of your comments to a fellow artist on your website, you mentioned it. Then, it popped up on my Facebook page. probably because I had joined your facebook page. As you know, CVP2019 is in the last week, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have found it! My life and art have transformed and I can’t wait to continue! You were a fabulous coach and I liked your knowledge and strength of delivery!
I’m just glad you were part of it this year. You’ve really made the most of it and will continue too as well. It’s been a treat to watch. x
I’m considering this for 2020, but I hesitate because I paint in oils. I’ve used watercolour and acrylics but prefer oils I’m also hesitant about the price! If you have a minute would you glance at my Instagram site and see if you think I should do it!! ArtKDuffy. I’ll definitely give this a lot of thought. Thank you Karen x
I can’t decide for you… you have plenty of time to think before 2020 and will have a chance to see more about what it involves. The teaching is done using acrylic, just because of the drying time, but the ideas apply to all art.