Episode 63-Optimize your mindset for success as an artist with Kyle Ma (Part 2)

Welcome back.

In today's episode, I got to speak to oil painting phenom Kyle Ma. Kyle's work is truly a feast for the eyes, whether the subject is figurative, floral, landscape, or cityscape. His sensitivity to light and color temperature belie the fact that he's only 21 years old.

I can't wait to see what this guy's going to do next. He's amazing. And he's such a genuine, gracious person, a quality carbon life form. Like you.

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.



yle Ma was born in the year 2000 and developed a love of nature during his childhood. He was drawn to art at an early age and says that painting allows him to express his viewpoint of our world. In 2010, Kyle moved with his family to Austin, Texas where he continues to pursue his love and affection for art. He enjoys painting En Plein air since it allows him to be immersed in the landscape during the progress of creating.

Currently, Kyle is also pursuing his passion for science by studying Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. Kyle believes it reinforces the idea of making careful observations and seeking to understand these observations, a skill Kyle feels is extremely important in art. Kyle’s work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the country and has received several awards including the gold medal in the 30th annual Oil Painters of America National Show. Additionally, Kyle is a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of America, and a member of Salmagundi Club.

"Painting, to me, is an extremely passionate experience. I paint as much as I can, and hope that I can communicate with the viewer what I saw and how I felt each time that I pick up a brush."

I want to wish each of you a happy, healthy, and blessed holiday season, whatever that looks like for you.

As I hit publish on this episode, it is Christmas Eve, and I'm wishing my fellow Christians a very merry Christmas.

To all of my listeners, I wish you a fantastic New Year in 2022. May you and your loved ones be healthy and have your best year yet.

Now, you may or may not have noticed that this is the first episode I've published since Thanksgiving. While I would like to have produced one two weeks ago, it was not possible without putting other deadlines in jeopardy.

I'm not bringing this up as an excuse. I'm bringing it up because it brings up an important point for those of my listeners determined to make their art their living.

As my listener, you probably know that I'm all about achieving the dream of living as a fine artist to whatever degree you want that to be.

Now, if you aren't looking to become a full-time fine artist or you're already there, you can check out for the next minutes, but if you're an aspiring full-time fine artist, come back to me.

For most of us who aren't there yet, our obstacles are often time and/or money.

If money isn't an issue for you, you can probably re-arrange your time fairly easily to do what it is that you want to do.

And that is awesome. I am in no way vilifying money here. Money is not evil. Money gives you choices and choices are freedom.

Besides, broke people can't help anybody.

Now, for many of us on the journey to becoming full-time fine artists, it's necessary to continue to bring in a salary as we transition.

This means continually assessing where you're spending your time and how much you can adjust your obligations to make room for your art.

To be full-time fine artists, we must hold space to create. Physical space, time space, and energy space - we can't wear ourselves to exhaustion and just give up sleeping to reach our goal.

The good news is, the roadmap doesn't have to look the same for everybody. There are many routes to freeing up your time to create. You might teach, you may find yourself a more flexible side-gig, and you might start building avenues of passive income for additional financial support.

You'll notice I didn't say "job." a moment ago, I said "side-gig," and that was on purpose.

You know I'm all about the mindset. It's crucial to achieving big goals. You can only grind through obstacles to a point without risking exhaustion. It's better to play the long game and gradually adjust your time and energy spend to make room for your art.

Whatever you currently do for financial support, if it's not your art but you wish it were, I encourage you to re-label your "J-O-B" your side gig.

Even if you're still doing it full time. You don't have to call it a side-gig when you're at work, but re-labeling it in your mind and your heart will help you see it and believe it as temporary.

I have a side gig. I'm right there in transition with you. I've assessed where I'm at and where I want to be. I've laid out a roadmap that works with my obligations to get me there.

And I'm making steady progress toward painting full time. For now, part of my map includes working a few days a week for clients of my marketing firm. And I love it. I may eventually give it up altogether, or I may just cut back. I haven't decided yet, but the key word here is decide.

Whatever you do, it's important to be intentional. Figure out what your ideal life looks like and set the boundaries you need to get there.

My transition thus far has required open, empathetic communication with my spouse who wasn't born with the entrepreneurial gene. He is very supportive of my goals, but when one of my clients offered me a full-time position for great pay and I politely said, "no thanks," he needed to know why. And that's okay.

I told him I am willing to bring in enough to make the budget, but my long-term plan does not involve being an employee. I need my time to be my own, even when I'm deciding to use working for a client to make the budget. And it's worth noting that at first, I had to train myself to stop calling my main client "my boss." Every time I slipped, I'd stop and correct myself.

So I'm going to say flexibility is probably the most important ingredient for a side-gig when you're set on making time for your art. Your side-gig doesn't have to be art-related, it just has to be flexible AND pay enough that you can make your budget without having to work so many hours you can't create. You may even find you prefer an unrelated side-gig that is relatively stress-free to let your brain flop around in a different puddle until you return to your creative pursuits.

For now, most of my client work is spent writing. Didn't see that coming, but I enjoy it, my client's happy, and it's honing another skill. It works.

Many of you also know my roadmap includes the creation of a digital course that's been two years in the making. It's taken longer than I'd planned, but of course, we don't live in a vacuum. There was/is COVID, there were client changes, there was brain and heart surgery. There was a move, there were family members to care for.

Today, I'm happy to say I'm wrapping up the final touches and uploading it as my beta testers try it out. As a masterclass on portraiture, I created it to help anyone looking to improve their painting skills and make the leap into portraiture, if desired.

In addition to a portrait demonstration comprised of over 2-dozen videos, I've included modules on the fundamentals of design, composition, perspective, color theory, determining skin tones and undertones.

And I kick it all off with an 8-lesson module on confidence, because you know I'm all about mindset.

So that's what I've been up to this month. Keeping side-gig happy while keeping family happy while wrapping up course content and, of course, recording podcast interviews. I've got some great conversations coming up for you.

So don't worry the podcast isn't going anywhere.

In fact, when I wrap up the final touches on this course for it's February 21st launch, I'm looking forward to going back to a regular bi-weekly schedule.

So I'm sharing all of this so you know that sometimes when working toward a big goal, you may have to accept that you can't accomplish everything you would if the goal weren't part of the mix. I'm really tired, but I'm not willing to work myself to exhaustion.

And that's the difference.

If I decide  I need to work a 16-hour day, I adjust somewhere else. That may look like skipping a workout to sleep in, or getting to bed earlier the next night. Only you know where you can adjust to stretch for goals, just don't leave your self-care on the side of the road in the process. Go as fast as you can and as slow as you have to.

Okay, stepping off the soap box.

As always, let me know your thoughts. And if you love the podcast, please leave a review on apple podcasts. The more stars we collect, the easier it is for me to bring fantastic people on the show for you.

As always, contact me any time and let me know what you think of this interview at caroline@passionatepainterpodcast.com

Until next time... Go make something.