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Loosen Up, Activate The Canvas
& Breathe Life Into Your Paintings

Get started. Release your inner artist in this exciting abstract painting course

Featured As One Of The Best Online Art Courses Every Year Since 2019 by –>>



Step-by-step 5 Module online course where you’ll take your art into new, astonishing directions by cultivating your ability to experiment deeply.


Join our fabulous private Facebook Community where the excitement happens: the exchange of ideas, inspiration, encouragement and friendships flourish in this wondrous, dynamic community of artists.

Get Started On Your Abstract Painting Journey!

Activate The Canvas With Intuitive Mark Making

I’m so excited to invite you to Activating The Canvas!

This is a self-directed, independent study abstract painting course where you’ll explore and experiment deeply with your own personal lexicon and gestural expression and mark making.

You’ll learn to trust and grant yourself radical permission to paint with experimentation, exploration, and aliveness.

  • Explore your inner landscape that affects your art and life
  • Loosen up, play and fuel your creative fire
  • Take your art into new, astonishing directions by cultivating your ability to experiment
  • Accelerate your progress as an abstract artist
  • Develop confidence as an abstract artist

Abstract Art Workshop Nancy Hillis

When you Enroll in the Course:

• You’ll receive The Artist’s Journey Workbook to begin exploring your inner landscape. Threaded throughout the course, you’ll continue exploring your big ‘Why’ for creating as well as your interior narrative and mindset so that you become aware of these deeper influences that affect your art.

• You’ll receive access to all 5 modules containing all lessons, reflections, lectures, video demonstrations, actionable steps and guided painting challenges to further develop your art

• You’ll receive ‘The Artist’s Journey Vision Board so you can track your progress as well as your inner landscape.

• You’ll explore and experience the one inner transformation that is essential for creating your deepest, most meaningful work.

• You’ll learn the secret ‘Holy Grail’ that successful, prolific artists develop.


I loved Activating The Canvas. It directly addressed some techniques I wanted to learn… layering, veils. I love the encouragement to keep working and producing works of art and the push to use any and all tools that help express what you feel and the suggestion to stop overthinking and judging.

Nancy Hillis’ work has re-ignited my passion for art. I especially like the references to Carl Jung and the important role the unconscious mind plays in self-discovery and acts of self-expression. She inspires artists to keep working…to move beyond criticism and judgement!

Audrey Sharon Taylor-Wood

Activating The Canvas Alumnus, Artist’s Journey® Book Reader

Hey there, I'm Nancy

I'm an abstract artist, bestselling & award winning author of The Artist's Journey® and The Adjacent Possible® books as well as a Stanford educated psychiatrist.

I’ve been an artist and existential psychiatrist for over 20 years and I'm passionate about creativity, aliveness, and living your most meaningful life.

I've been an abstract painter for decades. Several years ago I created a television program "Creativity & Consciousness" where I interviewed artists on their creative process. I learned that artists in every genre grapple with fear and self-doubt and that the interior landscape affects everything!

I believe that abstract painting is a powerful way of getting at meaning and that art is a mirror that reflects our livesthe canvas reflects back our feelings, moods, interior states, and life.

I've guided thousands of artists in creating their deepest, most alive and meaningful work, and I would love to be your guide, too!

What You’ll Learn In The Modules

In the very first Module you’ll delve deeply into your inner landscape, your mindset, your big Why of creating…’ll explore the inner transformation that makes all the difference in your painting as well as how to develop a robust studio practice of experimentation.


It gets even better…


Not only will you get guidance on potent and transformative inner work and committed studio practice, you’ll also get a deep understanding of the importance of risk taking, exploration, play and experimentation in evolving your work as an artist.

As artists we’re not interested in sitting still. We don’t want to keep repeating what’s worked before. We want to discover new things, we want to be astonished by what emerges.

I’ll teach you how to get started and keep going in your studio practice. You’ll learn how to loosen up, activate the canvas and experiment. In this course you’ll receive 5 Modules all immediately available.

Module 1: Welcome To Activating The Canvas

  • Lessons on Why Your Why Matters will lead you into video demonstrations revealing that you have your own personal lexicon, you own gestural signature and expression that is immediate, intuitive and unique.
  • Video demonstrations of the power of exploratory studies in developing and strengthening your work will be explored in this first module.
  • You’ll further work with the concepts of Simplicity & Constraint and learn that within constraints are an infinity of possibilities for your art.
  • You’ll experiment with The Expressive Vocabulary Of Mark Making and explore the unlimited possibilities of your own expression.

Module 2: The Expressive Vocabulary Of Mark Making

  • You’ll reflect upon mark making.
  • You’ll learn about the power of gestural mark making for expressing feeling.
  • You’ll learn ways to expand your expressive vocabulary of mark making and how to incorporate the concepts of simplicity, constraint & predominance into your work.

Module 3: Cultivate An Attitude Of Experimentation

  • You’ll reflect upon your experience of experimentation.
  • You’ll learn the value and potency of employing an experimental mindset in your art making and studio practice.
  • You’ll experiment with automatic drawing and be challenged to continue creating exploratory studies and experimental works.

Module 4: Activate The Canvas

  • You’ll reflect upon activating the canvas.
  • You’ll learn how to work with flux, veiling and covering.
  • You’ll explore flux and building up the surface of your painting. 

Module 5: Putting It All Together

  • You’ll reflect upon your ongoing Artist’s Journey.
  • You’ll explore the concept of stepping into the unknown as you paint.
  • You’ll learn how to create visual contrast and how to intuitively compose as you paint.

If I back a few years when I got anxious when I would start painting on a white canvas, I have also been a “perfectionist” which has not facilitated my creation. But since I found Nancy among all the thousands of other art teachers, my life has changed not only on the artistic level but on so many levels.

I feel more whole as a human being, life has become more exciting and I have become more responsive to the invisible in life.

The feeling when I first loved what I painted was incredibly strong and because it was genuine and rooted within myself. Sure, there is still often a struggle during each painting, but then I hear Nancy’s voice that it is precisely in the “ugly paintings” something new is emerging. HOW EXCITING IS THIS?

I don’t know how to express in words the gratitude I feel. A more humble, responsive and generous educator than Nancy cannot be found.

Elisabeth Malmgren

Studio Journey™, Activating The Canvas, Experiment with Color Alumnus

What You’ll Achieve

What will you complete by the end of the course?

  • A personal Artist’s Journey Vision Board to explore your ongoing intentions, goals, understandings, insights
  • A personal art journal where you’ll experiment deeply
  • Many painting ‘starts’
  • Hundreds of painting ‘maquettes’ (studies/exploratory studies)

What skills will you master?

  • Setting painting goals and intentions and refining them
  • Trusting yourself as you seach and find your way in your art
  • Express what you love…express YOU
  • Develop your own personal, confident vocabulary of mark making and imagery
  • Develop your 15 minute daily studio practice
  • Creating visually exciting paintings of high contrast
  • And much, much more!

What results will you have if you take this course? 

  • Paint with expressive wonder and aliveness by learning to trust yourself.
  • Free up and awaken your playfulness, experimentation, and risk taking in your work.

What will you learn?

  • The one inner transformation that makes all the difference on your artist’s journey
  • The secret ‘Holy Grail’ of prolific, successful artists: (it’s a triple threat) 
  • Many Ways of Starting An Abstract Painting 
  • Common Composition Problems and How To Fix Them  
  • How To Create Visual Excitement With Contrast
  • And much more!

Nancy’s courses have been a fabulous investment in learning new skills and valuing my own ideas and impulses.

I resigned my teaching job and decided to “double down” with the program and Nancy as painting guide during the transitional time.

I keep returning to the videos and then painting daily and the discovery process (finding something from a blank nothing) is a positive lift. Symbolic of what we’re going to need to do in the future? Absolutely.

In daily painting and painting over, I’m practicing more than the studio concepts which means the skills can be applied in more than the studio.

I didn’t know what my life could be with daily art in it. Thank you Thank You THANK YOU to Nancy!

Kristy Evans

Studio Journey™ & Activating the Canvas Alumnus

Saying Yes to your artist’s journey is akin to embarking on a dangerous expedition into the unknown.

You yearn for aliveness and meaning and find yourself answering the call of your desire to create your deepest work. The moment you decide to start…you’re immediately plunged into the unknown and you face the perils of creating…and yet you persist anyway because your desire to create is greater than your fear.

One of the most important things for any artist to learn is to trust yourself so that you can allow yourself to take risks, explore and experiment.

Experimentation is at the heart of what being an artist is about. We’re not here to replicate others work…we’re here to express ourselves…our own voice, vision and truth.

We must trust ourselves

Trusting yourself to find your way as you create and to show yourself and the world what you love.

You can free yourself up to move past fears and self doubt in your painting process and awaken experimentation, playfulness, and risk taking in your work.

Begin your own journey of exploration and experimentation.

I am very excited about Nancy's book, The Artist’s Journey. Having started on her course I have been reading the book and I can verify that she knows the artist’s mind through and through.

Dawn Lim

Activating The Canvas™ Alumnus, The Artist's Journey® Book Reader

What happens when you’re in your studio facing the blank canvas?

How do you create raw, immediate and astonishing paintings?

What’s the secret to powerful, alive paintings that experienced professional artists know but that eludes you?

The secret is that your inner landscape transforms your work

As an existential psychiatrist, abstract artist, and creator of ‘Creativity and Consciousness’ television program, I learned that there’s one thing that matters more than anything else in your art and that is trusting yourself. To paint freely with expressive aliveness, authenticity, and experimentation…you need one thing above all else.

Self Trust

I’m on a mission to guide artists to believe in and trust themselves. I want you to be freed up to experiment, explore, play, take big risks, search and find your way in your painting practice.

In essence, I want you to be able to express YOU

What if on your artist’s journey you found out how to loosen up and actually love going into your studio and painting? What if you uncovered one of the secrets of successful, prolific painters? What if you discovered one thing that will transform your painting practice? How will you learn this?

the most important transformation of all is an inner one.

Imagine feeling freed up to explore and experiment!

Invest in Activating the Canvas!

Straight up? I like it a lot. Without getting too deep into the weeds: a while ago I bought a Kindle and with that read “The Artists Journey: Bold Strokes to Spark Creativity.” That lead me to the website and some other things including a conversation with Bruce. While I have never before thought about painting abstracts, I decided to give it a try. Turns out Activating the Canvas is just right for me and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to get started in creating abstract works.

Jim Oliver

Activating The Canvas Alumnus, Artist’s Journey® Book Reader, Color Secrets of the Pros Workbook

You’re not alone!

I can help! I’ve been there too! 

For years, I painted figures and landscapes that were beautiful, technically excellent and got into solo shows and galleries, but eventually this experience felt predictable and uninspiring to me.

Frankly, I felt bored.

I wanted magic!

I wanted aliveness and wonder. I wanted surprise. I wanted to not know what was going to happen. I was done with playing it safe. I wanted to take radical risks!


I wanted to fall in love with painting again

Nancy & Jane Teaching Art Class

And I did.

I started experimenting, exploring and risking. I painted like I was on fire! I was a unstoppable

I learned that only through continued exploration will you make your own discoveries…that you must be willing to answer the call and step into the unknown…that there a few secrets to creating art that’s alive and full of wonder and mystery…and that…

the most important transformation of all is an inner one.

I’ve learned many things on my artist’s journey over the years and I’ve refined it down to a few core concepts that make the difference in creating art that’s personal, meaningful, and pulsating with life versus art that is predictable, generic, and boring. 

I want to teach you what it takes to create wondrous paintings that are personal, meaningful, and alive.

I want to show you how to make paintings that you love.

In this independent, self directed course that you’ll have access to online.

Who’s this course not a good fit for?

It’s not a good fit, if

  •  You want a formula for how to paint like someone else
  •  You don’t want to experiment with your art
  •  You don’t want to explore new territory in your work
  •  You want to play it safe and paint beautiful, predictable, formulaic paintings  
  •  You’re satisfied with the status quo in regards to your art

If you’re thinking …

I don’t know if I can invest in my art. I know. I’ve been there. Some of the best decisions I’ve ever made were investing in courses that accelerated my painting skills and moved me further along my painting journey.

There’s no way I’d be in the place I am today if I hadn’t. And, when I invested in my art, it increased my motivation to work hard and develop my studio practice. 

In this course, I’ve concentrated the material down to one big idea, one concept that will transform your experience of painting…and that is trusting yourself so you can experiment in your art. 

The good news is that you can go over and over the material as much as you like. 

7-Day Money Back Guarantee!

There is no risk. The only risk is not doing the work you’re here to do. I’m confident you’re going to love the course, just like the artists in our community. But if you’re not happy with the course, please email my team within 7 days of joining, and we’ll issue you a prompt and courteous refund. 

Begin Activating The Canvas NOW!

This course will get you started creating abstract paintings. Learn how to loosen up, activate the canvas, and breathe life into your creations. Get inspired to go into your studio and paint!

My dream is that you answer ‘Yes’ to the call of your longing to free yourself up. I want you to create the life you are meant to live. I want you to learn to trust yourself so that you can explore and experiment freely in your art and paint with the aliveness that’s in YOU.

Activating The Canvas is about experimenting, exploring, and astonishing yourself.

It’s about living the creative life of your dreams, the one you are meant to live.

It’s about finally trusting yourself.

Claim your spot in Activating The Canvas. It all begins NOW!

Will you answer YES to your desire to paint with freedom and playfulness? If so, simply click the button below to check out with a secure shopping cart. Once you’ve made your payment, you’ll be redirected to register for the course. You’ll choose a username and password and you’ll receive log in information via email. You’ll have immediate access to the course.


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7 Day Money-Back Guarantee

I’m confident you’re going to love the material, just like the artists in our community. But if you’re not happy for any reason at all, please email my team within 7 days of joining, and we’ll issue you a prompt and courteous refund. No questions asked!

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Here’s what just a few of my students say about the course

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I have finished the course Activating the Canvas. It was a gift from two of my daughters for my 70th birthday. I have been involved in art my entire life. I majored in Interior Design in college and had my own business for 25 years. I also have taught various art mediums over the years.

Since retirement, I have taken up stained glass and renewed my love of watercolors. I found the course very interesting. It definitely forced me to examine my motives and reasons for my artistic endeavors.

What I discovered is that I can’t not create. It is part of who I am. Also, I found some new artistic freedom while doing the exercises. They opened my eyes to new ways of expressing myself.

I am sure I will revisit the exercises again. Thanks for sharing your approaches and ideas. It was enlightening, interesting, and helpful.

Ashleyn Stroud

Activating The Canvas Alumnus

Loosen Up, Activate The Canvas
& Breathe Life Into Your Paintings

Take your art somewhere new. Develop your own lexicon of mark making & create exciting art.

Activating the Canvas Featured As One of the Top Online Art Courses 5 Years Running by –>>

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