Gratitude Project

Gratitude Project for Artists

We need gratitude the mostΒ  when we’re faced with real challenges, because a gratitude habit helps us stay resilient even when times are hard.

But it might be a good idea to get into the habit before that happens – especially for those of us who didn’t learn it as a child, or who just get so caught up in the day-to-day business of life that we forget how grateful we are for so many things.

That’s why I decided to invite you all to join me in the Gratitude Project for Artists. And yes, the idea came to me because of a minor fall I had while taking a walk with my dogs, which just happened to coincide with a plethora of dismal news from around the world. The video explains it in detail, so be sure to watch.

Would you like to participate?

I think this could be a really worthwhile project. If nothing else, each participant will have a finished work of art that someone else would be very happy to receive as a gift during the holidays.

When you’re ready to submit your Gratitude Project, send me an email with images and plenty of description so my readers will know what type of gratitude your artwork is representing, and I’ll post it on my blog. You can find my email address here.

If you create a video of your work (or if the video itself is your Gratitude Project), you’ll need to let me know where to find it so I can post it on my blog. Send me a link to it in an email.

A lot of people only see my posts if they show up on YouTube, so I’ll be highlighting the submissions as I receive them on that site. too.

Important questions:

Tell me if you think this should be an ongoing project, or if there should be a specific deadline.

Do you think it would be best to include all the projects in a downloadable PDF, or would it be more exciting to see your work included in a real book? I can’t afford to send you a free book, of course, but if we did it on CreateSpace they shouldn’t be very expensive. Let me know in the comments below.


You may also like:

How I painted the Unicorn.Unicorn Pattern
Hyena Mask PatternHyena Mask Pattern
Life Sized Paper Mache Baby ElephantLife-Sized Baby Elephant


  • Jonni, what a great idea. I know I moan and groan about my various health problems, but I am so grateful that at 89, I am still able to do the things that give me pleasure, and that my daughter is my helper in many ways. It is because of her that I can use my limited “good” hours to do art and not housework. And when I read about the havoc that is being wrought in your country and others by hurricanes, earthquakes and wars, I am eternally grateful for where I live.

    I would love to take part in your project.

    • Hi Joyce. I’m glad you want to participate. I’m putting up a new video today that will explain how, and there will be a link to it at the top of the site, so we won’t have to go searching for the post. I’m also glad that you have such a nice daughter. πŸ™‚

  • I am with you girl but first of all let me tell you how grateful I am to have found you and all the bloggers and I would love to participate

    • Thanks, Janie! This internet machine is pretty cool, isn’t it? We could never do something like this without it. I’ll put up a new video in the morning with an actual plan so people can get started. It’s going to be fun!

  • Jonni, I think this is a great idea and would be honored to be a participant. I do a wide variety of art forms, from canvas to furniture upcycle to to whimsical pieces. My latest being this Halloween tray of witch’s potions with skull and snake crafted from paper clay. I do this primarily for fun. Much of my work is donated to different organizations for fundraisers.

    • Hi Carol. Did you show us your Halloween tray already? If you tried to add it to your comment, it didn’t work so the image is probably too big. Try again?

      I think donating art to charity organizations is a great idea. There’s an art auction for the Habitat for Humanity here, and I’ve had a lot of fun making things especially for them. Now that you’ve reminded me, I should get started on this year’s project!

  • Hey Jonni. I love the idea. Beautiful. I live here in Orlando, and less than two weeks ago I, my wife and our dog and cats we experiencing 100 mph winds. No damage to our house and in less than 48 hours we had our power by on. So I have no problem being grateful. Also the othe day I watched a film called The Pianist , about W?adys?aw Szpilman who survived the holocaust. What a triumph of the human spirit. I’m going to start thinking of a project ,hopefully I can come up with something. At the very least I’ll be able to see one of yours or the many talented artist in this community. Sorry this is been so long winded ? I would like to finish by say something I feel strongly about and I’m sure everyone here does also. I feel so grateful to have found your page and your passion for art and artist. Also your knowledge and sharing it. You’re amazing. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Allan. I don’t say it often enough, but this community that’s built up around this blog has been a real blessing for me, too. And I’m glad you like the idea. I think I received enough feedback (and my brain is no longer quite so fuzzy so I’m thinking more clearly) so I now have a plan. I’ll put up a new video today.

    • And I’m so glad the latest hurricane didn’t do too much damage where you live. It must have been frightening to watch those weather maps and see it heading in your direction, and then such a relief to find out you still have a house. Whew!

      (And we like long-winded comments. πŸ™‚ )

  • Fabulous !!! I definitely will participate with something that I create. Not sure if it will be 3 dimensional (cloth or paper) or mixed media on canvas. Although I have faced many challenges in the past and in recent months, I do have soooo much that I am grateful for having in my life. Yes, many Blessings. In answer to your questions — I think there should be a long range time limit/goal for completion of projects (more than a month, But less than 2). Also , yes to the idea of a printed book or assemblage of the submissions that could be used to raise money for people in need. Deciding on which charity/responsible organization and all the myriad details that would then become necessary for the project is rather mind boggling. Sorry, But I couldn’t help thinking of the possibilities. Anyway — I do love the idea and your concept. It is an honor to be included.
    Sincerely, Susan

    • Hi Susan, I’m glad you want to be involved. It’s growing much larger than I anticipated, so I’ll put up a new post today or tomorrow with the final “plan.”

  • You go woman…I like your idea Jonni. Just a thought that immediately popped in my mind for a gratitude project …. A book with 365 pages (too many you think?) with artwork that inspires taking a look at the multitude of opportunities we miss each day that would allow gratitude and thankfulness to fill our hearts.

    I agree, EVERY DAY we are hit with situations, those of us who pay attention, that conjures nothing but negativity… fear, anger, sadness, frustration, hatred, powerlessness…making it so easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by this bombardment.

    If the 365 page book is too much….your idea of a calendar is a great idea for the art project. Each of the 12 months could inspire us….with maybe a little note included by the artist of how this particular art project inspired them to focus on gratitude in their life.

    • I left off an idea for a 12 month calendar project. A deadline decided for submission to allow everyone here to vote for the 12 projects to be included in the calendar….with plenty of time to get it created and available before the 2018.

    • I do like the 365 page book, and the calendar is a great idea, too – but I’m not sure I’d have time to do the work needed to put it together. I’m right in the middle of writing another book at the moment (about my experiences buying and living in tiny houses), and I don’t have much spare time to devote to the gratitude project. We might need to have it be much more informal, perhaps just a series of guest posts instead of an actual book that requires editing and writing and designing and all that stuff. I know I brought up the idea of a book, but on reflection I’m just not sure I can afford to devote that much time to it. (I think maybe I should have thought it through a little better before bringing it up – my brain has been a little fuzzy this week.)

      • Quest posts is a very good idea.
        Fuzzy brain???? Another of those “gifts” of the golden years nobody told us about??? :{ The Tiny House book is a GREAT idea. Hope you include addressing how to sensibly quit stock piling every little thing that Might come in handy one day. I’ve often regretted buying a house and wish I had invested in a giant warehouse to live and work in. But I’ve come to the conclusion that even a warehouse would eventually not be big enough for me.
        I’m working on it….

        • Ah, yes – the stuff. And I know for a fact that your stuff will grow to fit whatever space you have to put it in. At least that happens to me. But when I get rid of half of the stuff, the only think I ever miss is a book or two that I gave away, and then want to read again.

          Have you read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? I giggled all the way through it because her ideas seemed so silly. But when I started trying some of her ideas, it turned out she was right! We really should surround ourselves by the things that make us feel joyful, and get rid of everything else.

          Although I must admit – I’m expecting the economy to crash again, so I do feel the need to hang on to some things. Garden tools, a pantry full of food, etc. So we can’t just throw everything out, can we? We really might need that little thing someday. πŸ˜‰

          • No, I haven’t read Kondo’s book but I picked up Don Aslett’s Clutter’s Last Stand. After a month I’ve gotten to page 11. . . not because it’s not good…and humorous, but because I’m reading 4 other books at the same time.

            I’m still “perfecting” my horse sculpture. Picked up a book about overcoming perfectionism…Dr. Leman’s, When Your Best Is Not Good Enough. I’m on page 22, after starting that one over a month ago…..

            Yes, I figure the economy is ready to crash…again. Thinking of picking up a chest freezer because I have my refrigerator’s little freeze packed so full, I have to be careful when I open the door. Time to start canning….get out that book, I’ve had for 3 or 4 months…instructing how to build a compost pile…so I can turn my entire yard into my grocery store….

            • I hoped to can a lot of tomatoes this year, but the blight got them. Again. Next year I’ll buy the right seeds. But yes, the signs for the economy are not good. When I moved here I signed up for the HUD alerts for foreclosed houses, hoping to get a good deal. I never unsubscribed, but for several years after the mini-recession in 2011 I didn’t hear from them. Now I get several emails a week, just from a few counties. So yes, grab a freezer, plant your garden. I’m thinking I may even need to get a roommate, if I can ever accept the idea of sharing the bathroom – to have someone else around to cover some of the bills. Just in case, you know. I like to feel prepared. (My daughter thinks that’s depressing talk, but I don’t. Things happen, so why not be ready for it?)

              Are you in a part of the country where you can grow things in the winter?

              (And I’m glad I’m not the only one with half-read book lying all over the house. πŸ™‚ )

  • I like the idea, when you know exactly what you want let me know and I will create something for this.

    • Great! I’ll put up a form sometime today, so people will be able to submit their photos or essays or whatever they make. It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing what people come up with.

  • Hi Jonni, (thanks for all your kind answers and jobs published, your work is awesome), this is Leticia from Spain. I just know you from days, and I can’t find your email. I have some questions. But first, I tried and made paper mache clay recipe, and it looks like yours, and made some little pieces just to try, it is really smooth, the problem is that doesn’t dry. Here it is really sunny for the moment, so I’m thinking probably the problem is the compound? (maybe I bought something alittle different…?)
    Do you have any suggestion for this?
    Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Leticia. How thickly did you apply the paper mache clay? If you put it over an armature and used a thin layer, less than 1/4″, it should be drying. If it isn’t you may be using a product that isn’t meant for filling the cracks between sheets of drywall. Does your product have the ingredients on the label?

      • Hi Jonni!!!

        My compound is made with a polimer acrylic base. It doesn’t specify the ingredients, it is a joint compund for cracks etc, but white colour and the projects I made that have more than one layer are still driying after a week, it is true the ones with a thin lawyer after 2 days are almost dry, but very flexible. I think maybe it is because of the acrylic base. ΒΏ?
        Thanks Jonni you are so kind and creative !!!!! : )

        • That could be the problem. Our drywall joint compound is made with a form of gypsum or calcium carbonate, not acrylic. Your product might work, though, if it has more time to dry. But it’s also possible that it will always stay flexible, since acrylic is a form of plastic.

  • Hi Jonni. I think this is a great idea. Something to think about. I feel a little intimidated because I am not an artist – I just like to try a lot of things, such as knitting, crocheting, making jewelry, playing with paper mache, and that makes me happy and is very soothing to me. I am older now, and as time passes I become more grateful. Sometimes I am glad nobody hears me, because in addition to being very grateful for my family and my little dog, I am even grateful for running water, for the ability to walk, to use my hands, to see and so many other things. That is why your post drew me in. I will be thinking about something to make to express gratitude. Thanks for the beautiful idea.

    • Hi Maria. We should all be grateful for running water and all those other things you mentioned, but we take them for granted until they’re gone. I do hope you’ll let us see your project when it’s done.

  • Hi Jonni, I actually think that would be a great idea. We all forget to be grateful from time to time until we see the earthly disasters, the mess with North Korea, illness, etc., etc. For myself, I love doing art projects, it makes me feel better and I can give it as a gift to someone to lift them, so “let’s do it”!!! Do you think there should be a time limit like 2 weeks, or 30 days and what do you think about 1 to 3 pieces of art? I personally would love to do a paper mache/clay doll or angel. Please let me know and thank you Jonni for who you are and what you do and share.

    • Hi Raynell. I’m glad you want to participate. I think this will be a very worthwhile project. A deadline might be a good incentive for encourage people to make something now instead of putting it off. I know how long I can put off ideas, if there’s no time frame. Does anyone else have a suggestion for this? Should it be a short project, or ongoing?

      And the number of pieces you create for the project is totally up to you. I can see that you already have some great ideas. I didn’t get much done today, but tomorrow I’ll put a note on the contact page so people will know how to send me their photos.

  • I absolutely think this would be a great idea! I would love to participate!! Perhaps you could make it into a book, and have part of the proceeds go to a charity that helps folks in need? There certainly seems to be a lot of them right about now…
    Thanks for all that you do! I hope your ankle feels much better Very soon!! Please keep us posted and I will go and dig through my supplies.
    Take care,
    Ann Thompson

    • Hi Ann. I’m not sure there will be any proceeds, actually. And since everyone will have their own favorite charity, I wonder if it would be easier for people to send their own checks to their favorite organization (if they actually want to) and then dedicate their gratitude project to that charity? Does that sound reasonable?

      I’m glad you want to participate. I’m sure you’re already thinking up your project, and I can’t wait to see it. I’ll read over everyone’s comments tomorrow and then put together a form that people can use to send their photos and any other info they want to include. I’ll definitely keep everyone posted!

  • Hi Jonni.
    Anything connected with helping everyone to raise up awareness towards important soul growing sounds great to me and I’d already have something in mind. It might take some time though so I’m kind of wanting to know if there’d be deadlines or … ?
    Thanks πŸ™‚

    • Hi Pedro. The deadline question came up in another comment, too. What do you think? Would you prefer to be pushed by a specific time limit, or would you prefer to just have us do it ongoing, with a link to a special section at the top of the site so we can always see the newest items that have come in? I’m open to any suggestions.

      And I think it’s fantastic that you want to play. I can’t wait to see what you make for the project.

      • I once thought about creating an international community for artists and art lovers which would be kind of talents show room and also a way of creating funds for artists that cant afford art material ( thought that there’s be a kind of … don’t know … clever people that would manage those issues, others would gather some interested people that would help with the fund raising, etc. But wouldn’t even where to start though…

        I think that with a deadline will be much better, I know for myself that when there’s none, I just get sloppy but also depends on the deadline, can’t be a week though (Portuguese people tend to do everything almost in the very last hours before deadlines though) but still … lol… Looking forward to new developments πŸ™‚

        • Hi Pedro. Maybe December 1st? Does that sound reasonable? As for your art group, it sounds like you’re talking about a private membership site run by a non-profit charity. The technology wouldn’t be difficult, but here in the States you’d need to apply for non-profit status (or pay income taxes on all donations, which would suck.) Then you’d need a director, and here in the States the people who run non-profit agencies make more money in a week than I make in a year. Maybe things are different in Portugal? And someone would have to come up with rules about how poor or how talented the clients need to be to be worthy of the program’s generosity…

          Since I won’t do anything that costs money (because I don’t have any) or that is stressful (because life’s too short) I think it might be more satisfying to just give a friend some art supplies if you happen to have what he needs. Or form a small local club where people bring in some materials they bought but never used, and you can all trade. Wouldn’t that be more fun?

          • Oh it would way way way more fun indeed if I’d know any. Can’t and wont complain as for this week I sold a doll and got a painting commission πŸ™‚
            1st of December is fine, its holiday here in fact as in 1640 Portugal regained its Independence from Spain after 60 years of spanish rule. Its called “Independence day” (no, no alien film) and couldnt be a better day as deadline!
            Thank you Jonni πŸ™‚

            • Congratulations! On both the sale and the commission.

              With Portugal’s Independence Day today, how is Portugal feeling about the mess in Catalonia? Are you taking sides?

            • Thanks πŸ™‚
              No, our historical independence day is on the 1st of December πŸ˜‰
              I’ve no idea of whats going on, as we dont have tv nd cant be bothered with blood, flood, hurricans, earthquakes and other miseries that ruins my faith on positivity, have my own issues to solve within, don’t need more input from “outside”, eh eh eh πŸ™‚

  • If we would concentrate on all the good, positive miracles in life, (just being alive is a miracle) the energy of the world would change. At present, the big news is always negative. And yes, negative things will always happen, but if we try to see something good in the negative, we diffuse it a bit. We need to be grateful for what we have and focus on all that’s positive in our lives. True happiness comes from within. The key is gratitude.

  • Hi Jonni, I love this idea. I do a variety of arts and the past few months ive worked on making Peace Poles, Garden Poles and painting mandalas on rocks. I follow Kirsten Uhrig ( she lives in your state ) and a group called Travelling Kindness Rocks. I often will collect rocks, paint bright colors on them and then put them in town for whoever needs it may have the rock. The poles I paint in vibrant colors with whatever comes to mind.
    Im grateful for being able to see and see color every day.
    Thanks Jonni, I love this idea !

  • I love the idea!! As a retired psychiatric home health nurse, so much of what I experienced with folks was feeling lack of purpose in life, depression and personal withdrawal into isolation and just “waiting to die” . Because creating art can be a form of service to others, just from expressing an emotion, form etc that triggers a response in others, ( I like to focus on upbeat stuff) and following such a theme as gratitude could be part of a kind of “de-stressor” in times of disaster to help with mental health. Anyway, I’m in. Th k you for who you are and what you do for so many of us. I’m grateful for YOU.

  • Hello Jonni, you are an inspiring lady – what a splendid idea!
    I jotted few notes while watching your video, intuitive missives, if you like, as they sprung to mind:-

    * Gratitude and Mindfulness – overlapping but different;
    * Meaning of Life – could be a working title for the Gratitude Project for Artists;
    * Dedicated space on your website or just a tab redirecting to a stand-alone (free) blog; Advertising space to raise funds?
    * Deadline – 12 months, perhaps;
    * Tutorials – yes, once all the material has been collated (stories, tutorials, photos, etc.);
    * Book – while not a competition, there would need to be a selection process once all submissions are in place;
    * Beneficiaries – a portion of any proceeds would need to be retained by you as you cannot possibly run it for free; if a charitable organisation is to benefit, which one? It would need to be one operating globally (e.g. Medecines Sans Frontieres – fantastic cause and non-political).

    PS: Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulphate) would be excellent as a soak for your ankle. Also Arnica (Homeopathic preparation internally and cream/ointment externally) to speed up healing.

    Best wishes for a fast recovery.

    • Hi Izabella. You’re right about the Epsom salt – I had some this spring but I used it in the recipe I used for garden fertilizer included the Epsom salt, so now I don’t have any. I’ll run to the store and get some.

      You have some great ideas. I hadn’t intended to do anything that would cost money, so I don’t think I’ll need donations or anything. A new tab at the top of the site is a great idea, though. I’ll need to take a bit more time to think about your other ideas.

  • What a lovely idea. I work in the insurance industry and have been astonished as I assist people going through tragic situations who, having lost everything, manage to focus not on loss but on being grateful for their lives, their friends, and their families. We need this sort of thing in our world and I’d say we need it quick.

  • I am game Jonni! An attitude of gratitude is essential to successfully navigate life! I did an exercise once and wrote down 5 things per day that I was grateful for. Some days it was hard to find 5 things but it helped you to have a more positive and grateful life.
    Now as for the specifics, I don’t think you need to post each as a tutorial as that might intimidate some people. I do like the PDF idea, or just a different tab like the daily sculptor page- the grateful artist page?
    Part of art is to be more inspirational to self and others so this is a good idea.
    Do not be so hard on yourself as we all “forget” sometimes, it is part of our human nature. What is important is how we proceed. Isn’t it funny how when we feel sorry for ourselves, there is always something that will put things back into perspective? Hope your ankle is better soon!

    • Hi Eileen. I agree that the tutorial idea isn’t quite right for this project, because the emphasis is on the message of the artwork, not how it was made. The special tab would be easy – when we start getting submissions I’ll add one.

      I like the list idea, too. It’s a great daily habit, and I must try that.

      But now I’m imagining a poster made up of things one was grateful for that month, all in different fonts and sizes and colors. It could be turned into a calendar, even. Or the list hand-drawn with colored permanent markers onto a colored canvas. Oooh – the list could why we’re grateful for one particular person (maybe grandma or grandpa?). Wouldn’t that be a nice present for them, if it was printed up and put in a cute frame?

      And thanks for your kind thoughts about my ankle. It’s turning pretty colors now, but I’m getting around just fine. I’ll be back to normal in a few days, I’m sure.

      • Jonni- did you have an x-ray done? I am afraid that if it is turning all sorts of colors, most likely it is broken! This is coming from a former orthopedic nurse. Colors ususlly mean some sort of fracture. I will not nag you though.
        Back to your gratitude project-a friend of mine is a mental health professional and she uses mandellas with her clients. They write something good about themselves in each space, then color it in, etc. You could do the same with the gratitude theme. Better than just a poster.

        • Eileen, thanks for worrying about me, but you really don’t need to. The colors are just the normal bruising one would expect when mistreating one’s foot like I did. The bruises are about all that’s left to remind me that I had an accident at all – except for the pretty scab on my nose. I’ll be able to take the dogs for a walk tomorrow, for which they will be grateful.

          The mandellas sound like a great idea. I volunteered at a women’s addiction center quite a few years ago, and all the ladies there liked coloring books to relieve their stress. I wonder if that’s similar, art therapy but without the guidance of a professional?

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