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The Artist's Journey: Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  150 ratings  ·  28 reviews
It's later than you think.

You don’t want to come to your final moments regretting your un-lived dreams. You’ve got paintings inside you waiting to be expressed. 

You know that, while you could keep repeating what’s worked before in your art, this is a kind of soul death.

You want to experiment, take risks and explore a deeper self expression.

You want to

Kindle Edition
Published January 27th 2019 by The Artist's Journey
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Linda Martin
No how-to, no art photos... just psychology type advice for artists from a SF Bay Area artist and psychiatrist. Interesting! I found this book to be often vague in a scholarly way, with enough practical advice to make it worth reading for anyone who wants some insight into the life of art making.

The author's experience delves into literature and philosophy and comes up with a mix of ideas that pertain to artistry, such as the most important concept of all: trusting oneself. The goal is the journ
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Artist's Journey, Bold Strokes To Spark Creativity, by Nancy Hillis, is a guide for the artists who need some help to find their way in the field of art. It tackles self-doubt, fears, negative inner voices and other things that stifle budding artists as well as old pros. It provides practical exercises for improving your art, as well as some inner improvement tools. Links that lead to videos also supplement the material presented.
First of all I’d like to help the reader determine if this boo
Gerry Darlington
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How to be an artist.

Wow! It is truly inspiring and it encapsulates everything you need to take your own artist's journey. Thoroughly engaging. Nancy pulls you in, leaving you knowing you must take this journey to become yourself and all you are capable of. Most of all, it grants you permission to be your best, be yourself and live your own life on your own path. Amazing.

Although the book focuses on abstract art, for me, the lessons learned are applicable to any form of artistic or creative expre
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring book for anyone

This book is transformative. Written with depth and understanding it provides a way for anyone to take the journey to true self expression. Highly recommend
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A practical and inspiring call to create original, astonishing work. Highly recommend.
Book cover with original painting by the author

(You can view the chapters and blurb here, as well as find out about the author.)

Nancy Hillis has produced something rare in the cacophony of reads available for contemporary artists and creatives: an intelligent, practical and inspiring call to create original, astonishing work that will connect.

The first thing you see is a mesmerising field of marks and an oh so divine
Angela Howell
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s finally here! I follow Nancy on Instagram and was so excited to receive my copy of “The Artist’s Journey.” I sat down to immediately begin devouring it and as I began to read, I felt equal parts, terror and relief.

Terror because I have a feeling I’m about to do a deep dive into a new part of art-making. And relief, because I want to go deeper and can tell she gets the resistance and is the person to help take me there. She gets all of it, the process and the avoidance of the process. It’s l
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Ms Hillis truly gets her point across with this nice short book in the manner of Steven Pressfield’s books, however, it is a good book that could have been a great one. I feel it is a missed opportunity. The obviously erudite author limits herself to presenting good quotes about glazed over ideas that could have been explored further and more deeply. There were moments I was truly inspired being familiar with the thinkers/artists/authors quoted, but the possibilities are lost to those ...more
Alison Lilly
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Considering the educational background of the author, this book was surprisingly anti-intellectual and at times downright hostile to the idea that studying technique and developing your skills in your chosen medium can be as fulfilling and exciting as “looking inward“ to “find your true self.”

One of those books that constantly asserts that everything you need to know already lies within, while secretly hoping the reader doesn’t ever stop to wonder why they should even bother reading the book the
Judith Favia
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Only Useful for Abstract Painting

While there are several “experiences” that may be generally applicable, the author is really only talking to artists who paint abstracts. Although she begins by addressing the journey of all artists (writers, videographers, etc), nothing in this book is even slightly applicable outside two-dimensional media. As a book artist, this was very disappointing - as if she could not widen her vision to make her points applicable to other art forms.
Also she spends an enor
Aug 10, 2019 added it

First I'll say what I liked: I liked the writing style of this book. I liked how she described things and how she spoke of different subjects related to the personal experience of art. Her words were motivational and they inspired me to want to try new things with my art. She also made me think about other aspects in my life and in general I guess she gave a lot of food for thought basically. I rated 4/5 because the title and description is somewhat misleading in that this
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Insightful read with excellent, helpful, instructive advice on how to get unstuck and out of a fear-based rut.

Also, I found this description hilarious: "It’s daunting—like going into a chi-chi restaurant in San Francisco without sufficient funds, hoping to pay for the meal with a pearl found in the oyster you ordered." There were moments of brilliance in the book.

One thing though. I find the description of the book on this goodreads page misleading. I think the description here of the Artist's J
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read this book as part of a bookclub associated with Angela Fehr's Heart Led Landscape painting class. I found the book to be alright, and for some people I am sure it will be inspirational and just what they need to move forward on their artistic journey.

For myself, I would have benefited equally from going to read some of Mary Oliver's poetry once again. I should offer the disclaimer that I worked for over forty years in the field of psychotherapy, so the references she mentions about resear
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is by a psychiatrist, writing about art. It is interesting a lot of the things that she says in terms of trusting yourself and the process echo what I have learned in one of my art classes. It is a good book if you are looking for reinforcing the idea of being able to create. A relatively short book with links to her videos. I don’t know yet if those are free or paid, as I haven’t checked those out yet.
Patsy Parker
Aug 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Wow, this is the worst book I've ever read that tries to get others inspired to creative art intuitively! Her videos are even worse. I have done a little bit of abstract art, but I honestly like to still think and go slower, not throw scribbles and marks haphazardly onto paper or canvas.

But if that is your thing, maybe what she does will work for you. Good luck!
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
So this book does have some value. I found the discussion about fear and trying to be brave to create. So advice on how to do that,was pretty good. Having said that I,felt the abstract art she was speaking about did not interest me at all. Along with her stories along the way didn't help. It's a quick read found my self scanning when the stories came up.
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
SW Berry
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written book by a terrific teacher. I've had the pleasure of studying with Nancy Hillis. Her classes encouraged me to trust myself, to play and experiment. This book is one I'll keep close and read over and over again. It's a great reminder to keep showing up, regardless of fears.
Christine Maleport
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Art therapy

I enjoyed the insight of working abstractly. I will be trying these exercises. I was looking for a book on art therapy as I’ve been thinking about per suing it lately. I’ll have to keep looking, but this book I’m sure compliments art as therapy.
LaTrecia Raffety
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and truly inspiring

I soaked up this book from page one, and wrote many passages down in my journal. The videos going through Nancy's process of making art are worth watching repeatedly. Very much recommended book for creatives.
Jennifer Sills-mcclellan

I expected art practices in a workshop format. What I read was a lot of inspiring quotes and psychiatric references. Still, I am impressed. This was an interesting read. I won't be applying any of it to my paintings. Nevertheless, I did write down some memorable quotes.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
interesting approach

interesting approach but kind of felt like all the other advice I've been given. a little more Zen and literary tan the others, but the same basic tenants.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book for someone stuck, that needs help finding their artistic path.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Step into the uncertainty of your artistic voice and feel the pieces of you that only you can.
Great book about painting - moving to abstract painting - I also watch Nancy Hillis' videos.
Jul 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I wish there were charts and sidebars to make the book easier to use.
diane and john jarvis
Dec 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Don,t bother!

Repetitious, pretentious psycho babble! The same lessons and advice are offered in every chapter. None of which are particularly useful. Buy something else instead!
Margaret M Knepper
Jun 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Be brave. Take those bold strokes. Did not do the videos with the book. Just did a quick read.
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not much depth. Even though this book deals with a topic I’m deeply interested in, I found this rather boring. Skimmed the last half.
Susan  zinschlag
rated it it was amazing
Apr 02, 2020
Nicholas Kidd
rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2019
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Nancy Hillis, MD lives in Santa Cruz, California. She's an abstract artist, author, existential psychiatrist and founder of The Artist's Journey courses, workshops and presentations. Do you want a free training on the #1 Secret To Creating Paintings You Love and 4 Traps That Get In The Way? Go here:

Nancy blogs about the inner landscape of artists at

News & Interviews

Are you having a difficult time reading these days? If so, you're not alone. Since the pandemic began, I've found it harder to concentrate on...
39 likes · 13 comments
“For an artist, the minute you become comfortable is the minute you’re no longer searching for your truth.” 2 likes
“Confronting your fears requires being willing to take risks and let go. If you’re not throwing away some of your work, you’re not evolving as an artist.” 1 likes
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