Jess Greene is an encaustic artist and science teacher. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, two dogs and a studio full of creative materials at the base of a mountain. She loves travel, hiking, and rock climbing and is very excited to have launched Seek Your Course.


1) Firstly, huge congratulations on the launch of “Seek Your Course”. How does it feel to see your dreams and plans become reality?
To be poetic, it feels like walking through a waterfall. I’ve most been working on it while also doing my day job (teaching 8th grade!) so it has been almost surreal and definitely disorienting at times to work hard at two very different jobs and switch gears back and forth. It has been exhausting. Now that the school year is over it felt so good and right to pour myself into finishing Seek Your Course. The whole process has been beautiful, revitalizing and hard…like any good work should I think.

2). For those who are not yet familiar with SYC, can you tell us why this is so important to our creative community right now?
Our creative community never fails to inspire me. It is a blissful feeling to wake up each morning and know I can be inspired with a few clicks of my mouse. But while being so wonderful it has also grown and continues to grow. Why wouldn’t it? What started out as innocent musings, following creative intuition, and dreaming some wild dreams has now a home-grown jungle of creative voices and opportunities. Its beauty partly comes from being so organic and unplanned, but now there are no clear paths or maps to navigate the creative online world. And so I built Seek Your Course! It has been one hell of a ride trying to get all the wonderfully organic bits to fit into some semblance of a framework, but I did it! And it will constantly evolve we need it to.

3) How was this idea born?
I was lying in bed home from school quite sick in early January when I realized that three new ecourses had been announced and I had completely missed them. I was frustrated and then I got really excited as the idea for Seek Your Course rushed in and took hold of my brain. When I told my parents about my idea they both were really excited and it was their enthusiasm and instance that I was the one to make this happen that really pushed me forward. My parents are ideas people and I do tend to take after them.

4) What were the main milestones with seeing this fabulous idea emerge?
Initially, after my parents and husband spurred me on, there were three emails I sent out and the three supportive responses I got were the sign I needed to move forward with SYC. I wrote to Beth Nicholls, who I had met this past fall, and she responded with an offer to mentor me through the process. I wrote to Dan Bertch, a student at UMass Amherst, who said he would build the web application for the experience of doing it. And I wrote to Cheryl Burke, a friend and graphic designer, who agreed to help me choose colors and come up with a suitable layout.

Once these fabulous three emails pushed me forward, it was a series of in-person and Skype meetings that slowly put the pieces together. As I said above it was quite a task to take everyone’s own way of teaching/hosting/organizing learning opportunities and create a framework that would make sense to everyone. Our creative jungle was also quite difficult to explain to those helping me who were not involved in it themselves. This is another reason why Beth Nicholls was so helpful; she is part of it and could tell me what she would be looking for in a site like this. So I bushwhacked through and when I finally thought I had something to show for it I announced it and the response was overwhelmingly positive! The emails and comments I got were so supportive and mirrored my excitement. Even despite confusion and all the tweaking still going on, I have an overwhelming wave of excitement and support to carry me through the last month. Telling people ended up being the fun part because no longer could I wonder if all the work was for nothing and no one would use the site. It was real and it was indeed something people wanted!

5) It was also so great to have you join my first ever “Big Dreams, Small Wonders” e-course this past January. How did working through this e-course help you make this dream happen in 2011?
Your course was another one of those signs that this was to be my 2011 big dream! I learned so much in the course (like we now regularly drink champagne to celebrate the successes in life!), but most importantly to the project it gave me a framework to organize my goals and steps to the goals.

6) For others who have an idea they want to make happen. What are the top 3 things you have learnt about moving an idea forward to launch?

  1. You need friends and support. I knew I could do it when I got support from the family and the three emails I originally sent out when it was just an idea. And support was important. It can be a lonely road. Beth Nicholls was a fantastic mentor through it and had awesome ideas and advice for every part of the process and business.
  2. Set goals with timelines and stay organized. This project took me in a lot of different directions and organizing my information and deadline was key!
  3. Know your community/market and know what you can handle. I knew from the moment I had the idea that this was a good idea and a real need. That was crucial. I knew I had some design, business, and web skills but I also knew that I would need help. So I found help and capitalized on my strengths.

7) What are some of your own favourite retreats and classes you have taken so far?
Well, first I need to mention Squam Art Workshops. This retreat is the reason I started painting, how I met this amazing art community, and why this project was so important to me. It is just fabulous.

As far as ecourses go, I loved Mati McDonough and Lisa Congdon’s Get Your Paint On class, mainly because I have no training in paint and they covered the basics nicely with good doses of inspiration. Beth Nicholl’s Do What You Love ecourse really got me thinking in depth about myself, my fears, by goals, and what was important to me. Good stuff while starting a creative business. I also loved Unraveling with Susannah Conway. It was inspiring in a user-friendly way and the community developed was priceless. And, of course, your lovely ecourse kicked off the work on Seek Your Course and got me to drink more champagne! What more can I say?

And finally:

8) What is your DREAM:

for your creative life?
I am an encaustic painter and it is my dream full-time painter, while part-time facilitating others to follow their artistic dreams. Right now I am raising support for an artist residency in Spain where I hope to spend a month painting.

for your business?
My main dream is that the creative arts community will be strengthened and more able to promote itself and spread the word about the opportunities available. I want those involved in pursuing a creative life to be able to know what is going on in the community and enter into a conversation about creative learning. Most people I talk to are not aware of the online arts community and I am hoping that Seek Your Course makes it easier to introduce people to the opportunities available.

9) What INSPIRES you?
All the wonderful artists and creative people who blog, write, photograph and simply radiate inspiration all day long. And the light just before sunset that makes everything glow!

10) What are some of the things you like to CREATE?
I love wax. It is highly addictive stuff. I started painting in encaustics a couple years ago and found my medium. I just love how it can be paint and a sculptural, texture medium at the same time. I also love any kind of design and I love organizing information…which I why I enjoyed creating this site so much.

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