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 didn’t want to focus on being a web designer – 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.
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.)
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 1.5 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 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.
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 (and mine – see below!)
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 2021 program is now closed.
CVP will next open in early2022
How much is it? Is it expensive?
CVP is $1997 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 2022. Just think where your art could be by then!
Will I get a bonus when I enrol in CVP?
I’m not only a CVP graduate, but I’m also a program affiliate. That means I receive a referral commission if you enrol through my link at no extra cost for you. This helps us keep producing the Art Juice podcast year-round which I know many of you enjoy so please consider joining using the link here. I will also be setting up a buddy group alongside – we have run this in previous years and a smaller cohort of supporters has proven to be a huge benefit to past participants.
Those who took the program in 2020 through me found this a valuable extra resource. I have made some ongoing friendships through this program which continue to sustain me and I want the same to be true for you too.
PS. There are also some bonus sections within the course. It would be a shame to spoil the surprise, but one in particular was invaluable – something you just NEVER get to see.
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