Ep 12 Featured Image Podcast

The Artist’s Gift – Nicholas Wilton – Ep 12

January 12, 2022


One of the many gifts that artists possess is a unique sensitivity to the world around us. We feel…EVERYTHING. If the lighting is off, we know. If the volume is too loud, we know. If a live band’s tempo is slightly dragging you can almost guarantee that every musician in the audience is losing their collective mind. But we also feel deeper things. Like when an opportunity is presenting itself or when someone might be dishonest. And while feeling everything so deeply and so constantly may seem like a burden to some, the story of how I learned to embrace this part of myself is one I will never forget.

Join me, as I share the story of a chance college encounter that changed my life. This meeting allowed me to recognize that my sensitivity is what enables me to be an artist in the first place. However, my paradigm shift didn’t happen because I met a person. I owe it all to a wild baby crow.

 Listen if you are interested in…

  • The wilderness of UC Santa Barbara [3:31]
  • A chance encounter [4:42] 
  • Becoming a bird parent [6:39]
  • The Summer of Joe [9:07]
  • A Sausalito adventure [12:06]
  • Reflecting on the lessons Joe taught me [21:35]

Birds of a feather

My first year at UC Santa Barbara was an odd time in my life. I suppose most people go through an awkward college phase, but mine felt especially so. Sure, I got in, but my grades didn’t help with the growing feeling that I snuck in through the backdoor and that someone was going to expose me at any moment. I felt disconnected yet acutely aware of everything going on around me. I couldn’t stop noticing things. Especially the feeling that I didn’t fit in socially or artistically. I was in the wilderness. Ironically, it was what I found in an actual wilderness that helped me out of the one in my mind. 

I don’t know why I saw this poor, helpless, flightless baby crow sputtering on the forest floor. Out of all the things I could have noticed, he just stuck out. Yet it was this seemingly insignificant moment that brought a huge change to my life.

An unexpected bond

Becoming a bird parent was not a part of my five-year plan, but there I was, mothering a baby crow. Joe the Crow, to be exact. He depended on me for everything. Food. Shelter. Socialization. We were each other’s worlds those first few months. I wasn’t even allowed to have pets in my apartment, yet I felt distinctly responsible for Joe’s well-being. No one understood my obsession with this bird, especially my dad. And when I brought him home for the summer, those feelings only intensified. 

Joe soon began to spread his wings of sorts. He would hang out in the tree outside my window or fly to the neighbors to enjoy the fresh strawberries that children gave him. But he was always a high-pitched whistle away, speeding back to me from whatever adventure he had found. And while my dad STILL didn’t understand our unexpected bond, he soon would. Listen to this episode to hear the amazing story of our Sausalito boat trip!

Create the space to be present 

Reflecting on 2021 has caused me to think about what worked…and what didn’t. While it was a year filled with wonderful things like creativity workshops, art shows, and launching this podcast…I found myself incredibly over-extended in the final few months. The biggest downside to a claustrophobic schedule is that it prevents us from having enough space to be PRESENT. To really notice those seemingly insignificant moments that inform our journey and shape our lives and art. Like finding Joe in the forest.

I used to wish I could shut my brain off and not feel so much all the time. But I’ve come to realize that this is the artist’s gift. To notice. To feel. To connect with the world on a deeper level. And it’s that connection that allows us to create beautiful works of art that help others connect as well. The best, most extraordinary things that have happened to me are the things that just HAPPEN. I couldn’t have planned them. I just said yes to the moment. My goal for 2022 is to have enough space in my life to say yes to all the moments I couldn’t have planned for. Will you join me?

Connect with Nicholas Wilton


Subscribe to Art2Life on
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts

Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

new image for vlog sidebar