Ep 13 Featured Image Podcast

How Breakthroughs Occur – Marjorie Thompson – Ep 13  

January 19, 2022


What does it look like to have a creative breakthrough? How do we get to the next level in our art-making? The artist’s journey can be a long one. It can feel uneven and effortful, especially in the beginning. After coaching thousands of artists I’ve noticed that breakthroughs tend to happen when someone’s art starts to look like them and becomes truly connected to their inspiration. 

I met Marjorie Thompson as a part of the Creative Visionary Program I ran in 2020. Her art improved considerably but recently I noticed something else. It took an even bigger dramatic shift into breakthrough territory. I had to chat with her about it. Has she noticed the change?  How did she achieve this? My hope is that as you listen to our conversation, you might begin to understand a little more about breakthroughs and how they occur. They are waiting in the wings for all of us.  

Listen if you are interested in…

  • Diving into Marjorie’s background and the impact of growing up in her father’s art studio [3:35]
  • How Marjorie captures the feeling of nature in her artwork [8:30]
  • Breaking out of “creative famines” and Marjorie’s journey through the art world [13:58]
  • Exploring Marjorie’s creative process and how she creates balance in her paintings [18:22]
  • Identifying the creative struggle and how to maintain momentum [26:12]
  • How Marjorie keeps her creative fire stoked and the logistics of her art-making [31:44] 

A good mix of the two

I love connecting with fellow artists. However, I especially love connecting with artists who have such a similar background to my own. Like me, Marjorie grew up in the pacific Northwest with an artist for a father. She was surrounded by the immense beauty of both art and nature from day one. It’s no wonder she’s chosen the path that she has. But what I loved most about this portion of our conversation was how connected we both feel to our fathers through our art-making. We both described our art as “a good mix of the two” referring to our styles as both uniquely our own and beautifully filled with pieces of the men who helped raise us. 

Marjorie fondly recalled her father allowing her to mix his color palettes or paint the corners of his finished works, helping her to feel included in the creative process. It wasn’t long before she was painting canvases all by herself. How amazing is that our upbringing can have such a positive impact on our art? I wouldn’t trade my childhood for the world and I’m sure she wouldn’t either.

Beauty in the balance

Art transcends when it finds the balance between a place and a feeling. And I’d argue that many artists are great at the former and struggle with the latter. You can be technically proficient at creating scenes with your art, but it’s nailing the expression of a feeling that takes you to the next level. This is exactly the threshold I believe Marjorie Thompson has crossed with her latest work. She’s managed to create a sense of surroundedness in her paintings that makes you feel as though you are a part of it. I feel like I am able to “know” a place without ever having been there. And no one has! Because while her art seems like she’s working from a photograph, she’s simply drawing from her wealth of experiences to invoke a more universal one in those enjoying what she creates.

Beyond the feeling, what she really nails is the balance. Her art is both abstract and grounded in realism. Not physical realism because she’s painting imaginary places, but emotional realism. She perfectly captures the essence of the nature she surrounds herself with daily. For more on how Marjorie brings her art to life, listen to this episode!

You can either think of the studio as a place of creativity or a place of conflict

When you’re going through a “creative famine” as Marjorie put it so well, it becomes easy to associate the studio with feelings of frustration or even conflict. We’ve all spent hours staring at a blank canvas as though it is actively taunting us like a school bully. I’ve noticed that I’m able to overcome this obstacle by tapping into a feeling of creative possibility. We have to embrace each moment as if it were the exact moment of our breakthrough. Because for all we know, it could be. 

Hope is a major component of making art! It’s like playing the lottery: people do it because deep down they believe that they could actually win. If we maintain that same sense of belief and wonder in our art-making then we won’t stop “playing the numbers” and taking chances with the possibilities of our own creativity. The odds are also a lot better when you bet on yourself. 

Connect with Marjorie Thompson

Connect with Nicholas Wilton


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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.

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