a photo of my studio table with flowers and Open Studios catalogI survived my first Open Studios and the launch of my art studio!  As with all big dreams, this one pushed my limits.  There were tremendous highs and disappointing lows. There was massive lessons to learn, boundaries to push through and comfort zones to crush.  It’s taken me a month to really step back, process, understand what there was to learn and restore some semblance of balance to my life. 

I believe there are times in your life when you have to choose to dig deep and do whatever it takes to accomplish a big, hairy, audacious goal.  These are the times when you grow and learn what you are truly made of, what you are able to accomplish with grit, tenacity and brute strength and, ultimately, what is most important in your life (if you are paying attention).  It is character-building, painful, exhilarating, exhausting, rewarding and a rite of passage from which there is no turning back. 

a painted canvas board in pink colors that is printed with the statement "She believed she could, so she did"

One of life’s truths

Once you’ve declared your big dream, publicly shared it, acted on it and accomplished it, you can’t go back to the person you were before you set the dream in motion. There is a metamorphosis that takes place, a soulful growing, that prevents you from turning back the hands of time and accepting your pre-dream existence.  You’ve experienced the elixir of life and there is no option but to go back for more.  You can be sure I’ll be sharing more about this in future posts.  But for now…. Back to my experience of Open Studios.

One of the top comments I received from my visitors was about their experience of the energy that radiated from my studio that they could feel and tap into it. This was worth the price of admission for me – it was the very intention I put into creating my studio and here are my first guests sharing their sense of it. They were comfortable immediately engaging in conversations and sharing personal and heartfelt stories. Tears appeared in guest’s eyes on more than one occasion as they shared intimate stories of discovered love, unfolding dreams, daring to take a chance on life and beckoning life purpose.

One of the biggest compliments I received was from a guest who was on a “Sunshine Sabbatical” as she dared quit one long term job to explore what she truly wants to do with her life. She told me she checked out my website (from the listing in the Open Studios catalog) and knew she had to meet me and experience me and my art. We connected instantly and I know we started a friendship.

a guest at Joan Jakel's studio for Open Studios Napa Valley

My Sunshine Sabbatical friend

Another gentleman told me about how he “stumbled” into his crazy successful business decades ago and then fell in love with the love of his life, much later in life. His eyes welled up with tears as he spoke of his love for her.

One lady, with her 90 year old mom, shared her hiking photos with me as she was figuring out her Samsung phone. They were fabulous photos!

I answered countless questions about my art, my process and my tools.

Guests at Joan Jakel's art studio at Open Studios

Guests are filled with questions – I have answers!

We set up a “mini studio” outside my studio and talent flocked to it! I met young budding artists (grade school, middle school and high school) who shared their art with me which led to my decision to dedicate some wall space to young up-and-coming artists to share their gifts with the community.

A budding young artist painting a picture

A budding young artist

a photo of a young girl and a man painting

A budding artist and her muse

a young girl holding a canvas she painted at my studio

Another budding artist in action

I shared my vision to create regular community events at my studio to engage the community and bring people together – everyone wanted in.  The guests of all ages enjoyed an adult-size version of Jinga and a personalized corn hole game to kick off some fun.  Lorna Barker made the corn hole games and artist Kyle Martin of Kustom Paint & Pinstriping created the custom design for the studio.  I don’t know who was more excited – the guests or me!

a young boy playing Jinga

Jinga loved by the young

a young lady playing jinga

And Jinga loved by the young-at-heart

guests playing corn hole at the open studios event

Napa Police Officer Keri Sedgley enjoying a game of corn hole with the community

Joan Jakel Art Studio Personalized Corn Hole Games

Joan Jakel Art Studio Personalized Corn Hole Games

I met a lady who practices the art of falconry and she shared photos of her falcons and hawks. She also helps rescue and re-habilitate these majestic birds. This serendipitous meeting was even more special since I’ve been doing a nightly guided meditation where I select a bird and I’ve regularly, and for no known reason, been selecting a falcon. I suspect she and her falcon will be a guest at one of my first community gatherings.

After a lengthy conversation with a couple about their experience of intentionally living the life of their dreams, they bought two pieces of art (canvas boards), one for each of their daughters. Then they shared stories and insights about each daughter so I could write a message to each of them on the back of the canvas – they were physically and emotionally moved at what I could capture and share based on their descriptions.

It was an incredible treat that so many local culinary and wine artisans showed up to share their expertise with the crowd. A huge thanks goes out to Lorna Barker for corralling all the greatness.  Ohm Coffee Roasters served up the best latte in town while we listened to the smooth sounds of Rob Sherman and enjoyed his amazing guitars that he displayed in the art studio.  

A photo of Robert Sherman and Joan Jakel at Joan's art studio

Enjoying art and music with Rob at my studio

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ and Taqueria Rosita donated a feast for our service personnel, as did:


Culinary delights from Sonoma from Scratch

Culinary delights from Sonoma from Scratch

a photo of Samantha (founder of Sonoma by Scratch) and her proud parents

It’s always a treat to have supportive parents – Samantha (founder of Sonoma by Scratch) and her proud parents


a photo of the Sac's Hot Dog vendor with Joan Jakel

Thrilled to have Sac’s Tasty Hot Dogs donated for our guests!

a photo of the vendor Smokey's Old Skool BBQ standing by a table covered with their food

Smokey’s Old Skool BBQ was in the house!

Peju Winery braved the heat and Herta Peju personally poured their wines for guests

Peju Winery braved the heat and Herta Peju personally poured their wines for guests

Multiple artists stopped by to visit me, which is an entirely different level of excitement for me. These are people I’ve looked up to and admired and here they were in my studio viewing my art!

Napa Artist Sunshine Moeschler and hubby, Jeff - both of whom I ADORE!

I absolutely adore Napa Artist Sunshine Moeschler and hubby, Jeff!!

Joan Jakel and Napa Artist Sue Bennett

Another of my favorite Napa Artists – Sue Bennett

It was an extra delight to showcase the amazing photography talents of artist John Gompertz as he was a guest artist at my studio.  His black and white photography, showcasing his hero’s journey through New Mexico, is riveting and was a huge hit with guests.

photo of Photographer John Gompertz

Photographer John Gompertz

Despite the 100 degree heat over the two weekends (to which I owe a HUGE THANK YOU to my incredible friend Roi Holster who lent me his portable air conditioner and BIG tent for our vendors), the community showed up and celebrated local organizations and the love of inspiration, giving back and art. Wine Country Animal Lovers showed up in full force and we had dogs and cats available for adoption – they were so adorable!

Cute Kittens for adoption

Can I come home with you?

a photo of a dog for adoption

Who wouldn’t want this cutie?!

And a cause near and dear to my heart, Operation: With Love from Home was in full force collecting donations to send in care packages to our troops:

a booth for Operation: With Love From Home

Donations were being accepted for Operation: With Love From Home

One of the goals of the launch of my studio was to say “Thanks!” to the local service personnel.  We invited the Napa Police department and they showed up in full force to visit with the public.  We had a canine officer on patrol who found time to swing by and answer questions.  Napa Police Captain Jennifer Gonzalez showed up in full dress blues and it was her day off.  She spent a couple of hours visiting with the public, checking out the studio and engaging the community.  Given the generous food donations, we treated them while they treated us!

Officer Moore with his 4 legged partner

Napa Officer Moore with his 4 legged partner

a photo of joan, a neighbor and a napa police officer at her studio during Open Studios

Napa Police Officer Keri Sedgley visiting with guests and answering questions at the studio

Everyone wanted to talk about purpose, living into it, helping others live into it, keeping inspiration in front of them and living a life that matters. It was extraordinary and normal, all at the same time. This is the life that matters to me and the essence I create in my surroundings, my art and my tribe. It is a new beginning and a powerful extension. Here’s to allowing the magic to continue to unfold.

a photo of my Believe Collage that has inspiring words and statements and is painted with bold jewel toned colors








Joan Jakel

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