Monday, September 8, 2014

Ms Sonia asks (round two)


Here's the finished piece from last time
Sauer-Beckmann Barn
15x30

Now down to business, because Ms Sonia asked:

"Where do I start?"

Good question. 
You start by creating. If you are a painter, then paint. Writer? Write. You get the picture. It is way too easy to get caught up in all the "busy work." Social media marketing, fluffing up your website, drawing up new business cards… all have their purposes, but the important thing is the art. The rest of that stuff can wait. 
So forget everything else and obsess over your work. (Heck ya! Right!?!) From what i hear, galleries and collectors want to see consistency. Find your niche and run with it. Always look for ways to improve your current work and know that your next piece will be better than the one you just finished. That's a good thing! 
I avoid Facebook and twitter like the plague because they are total and utter time wasters- but blogging is a different animal altogether…. or it can be. 

About five years ago (I think) I started this blog to keep track of my personal/artistic growth. I was in a very dark place and needed some direction. I loved flipping through the daily painters's posts and seeing the progress they made over a six month (plus or minus) period. Progress is always good. Back then, I made a point to post frequent pics so I could go back later and see what worked and what didn't and possibly pinpoint where things went south. (Thats a habit I should really work myself back into) Often times, I would be able to see things I needed to change in the photo that I had overlooked while staring at the painting in front of me.  
Knowing my online painting journal (this blog) was out there held me accountable. I HAD to paint as often as possible because I had to post a pic about what I had been doing. Motivation comes in all sorts of packages. 

And since you came to this blog and asked these questions on one of my posts, I know that you will get this- every time we advance personally, and we share what we have learned, we contribute to another person's well being. How awesome is that!?! I'm not saying that blogging about how lusciuos a particular brush stroke was today will end world hunger or anything, I am saying that every time we grow and we share our learning, others benefit because they can learn from our processes. We are all learners learning from the learned's learned  Haha! The great thing about a blog is that you aren't shoving your learning down some poor sod's throat- Its way easier to navigate to another page in the event of overwhelming boredom than to walk away from Aunt Mildred while she's in the middle of sharing every minute detail with you regarding doily construction. (Don't get me wrong, I love doilies. And tea cups. Old fashioned, delicate little tea cups that have long lost their set..... I digress.)

Back to the questions!

"How do I find places to show my work?"

Look for galleries that show work in a style like yours. If you do abstract sculpture, don't waste your time on a gallery who shows only paintings in traditional realism. I'm really big on paying attention to the vibe of a place. So if you find yourself in a sweet gallery where your paintings would fit right in, look and listen. Do you click with the salespeople? Do you like the atmosphere? I have noticed that the folks at Whistle Pik (I'll use them as an example because they rock) always have wonderful things to say about their artists. They are helpful and kind to every person that walks through their door, even those who obviously can't afford to buy (speaking from personal experience, here). 
That's what you look for in a gallery. A good heart! 

I didn't start in a gallery, so here is another option. Many many moons ago, my aunt suggested I give Etsy a try, and am so glad I did! I sold my work for next to nothing, but my confidence grew with each painting that flew out the door. Pieces were going all over the world. That was soooo exciting! I love Etsy because it caters to a rather eclectic group, and you can play with advertising, learn a bit on how to price your work, and really get a feel for what sells and what doesn't. Some folks like to go the Ebay route.. not my flavor, but hey- to each their own!


"To pay or not to pay...." that is the next question.

My personal opinion, pay only if its a percentage and the gallery works for that percentage. Which is really the norm. Some galleries charge an artist for wall space and then take a percentage of the sales as well. Places like that are taking advantage of artists, in my opinion. But if that's what it takes to get you rolling, then its a good thing! No experience is really a bad thing because we always benefit from it in some way or another.  
I do think it is important to have someone represent you, take care of the marketing and sales, keep track of, and keep up with collectors. Anything that frees the artist up to create is worth the money. 
If your spouse is a savvy business person whose main interest is promoting and selling your work, then you have a sweet deal going! 

Some folks sell a lot of work on their websites. (If you need a website, I use and highly recommend Fine Art Studios Online. Their customer service is amazing and their websites are affordable and easy to work with, even for the technologically impaired... like me) 
Personally, I like leaving the business end to the gallery. I like being able to paint, turn the painting in, and get a check when it sells. Lower stress levels keep the creative juices flowing. (I'll give that one two snaps in a circle!)

Aaaaaand getting back on track again..... you really need to know and trust your gallery/s. These are the people that are either talking you up to every possible buyer, or they are tucking your work on a shelf somewhere and have already forgotten your name. Building a relationship with your gallery is easy and fun if your personality meshes well with those of the gallery personnel. How do you build said relationship? Go to their openings even when they are showcasing someone else's work, show up for the art walks, pop in for a howdy-do when you have a chance, enjoy your time with those amazing people. They are worth it. 

Oh! Remember that trust goes both ways. 
Brian Grimm told me a while back to always remain loyal to your gallery/s. If a buyer comes to you wanting a piece, make sure any sales go through your gallery. Or if you have multiples, direct the buyer to the gallery that introduced them to your work. Galleries work hard to promote and sell your creations/name, so make sure they get their cut and it'll be a win/win situation. You can be the Wonder Twins- your powers combined will make you INVINCIBLE!!!!! ok, maybe not invincible, but it feels that way. 
Their time is valuable, show your appreciation with your loyalty and top it off with lots and lots of gratitude!
Some people like to try to go around the gallery and buy directly from the artist thinking they will get a better deal. Some artists are into that and sell their work online or on the side for less than their gallery's prices because the thought of a quick buck is very alluring. All that does is hurt the artist in the long run. Why should the gallery spend their money to promote an artist in that sort of situation? I wouldn't.  

A good gallery can MAKE your career. Treat them well. 

Finite!!!!! Summing up: the more you create, the more you grow, the more you grow, the higher your quality of work becomes. When the quality of your work is good enough, you WILL be picked up by a good gallery... Unless you are hiding in a closet somewhere or have some seriously self destructive patterns that don't allow you to advance. (Been there, done that, never again, thank you very much!) Life is way more fun when you allow yourself to be who you are and enjoy your being-ness. 

So go paint. Draw. Sculpt. Garden. Chase a cow.... Whatever floats your boat. 

Enjoy the creative process :)

Oh!!!!! And aim high. As Neale Donald Walsch put it in today's daily devotional: 
"Dreams are the container of the Soul...
So dream big, yes, because the bigger you dream
the more of God you let in!" 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ms Sonia asks: "How do I stay motivated when my hands are full?"


(Disclaimer!!!!! ---these are my personal experiences, opinions, and ramblings. You may or may not find them utterly useless. Either way, its all good.)
 

How do I stay motivated with a young child?



Boy oh boy, is that ever a tough question!
My answer:
"I dunno."   

I'm kidding! …sort of
About a month ago I would have answered that question with a lot of tears, a high-pitched maniacal laugh, and a big fat "YOU DONT!!!!!" 
But then hubby suggested we find a sitter we know and trust to take our highly energetic bundles of joy and entertain them for a few hours/days a week. Right now I am only utilizing one day a week but that one day makes all the difference in the world for me. I'm still not back to my productivity norm, but I'm getting there.
Progress is always good!

Little ones are a lot of work. And work (which includes art) is a lot of work. Being a wife, a cook, a boo-boo fixer, a personal assistant, a soccer mom, a scorpion killer, a maid, and every other bit that gets wrapped up into that SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) job title can really take a toll on your energy levels. It has taken me two children and almost seven years to finally catch on to this one most important universal super spectacular Truth…. are you ready for this?…. here it is:

You HAVE to take care of yourself.


There is a lot of fear and guilt wrapped up in parenthood (I'm not a good mom if I don't do this or that or if I let my children watch cartoons or eat hot dogs, yadda yadda yadda), but the truth is that our children are better off if we mommies are at our best.

We are better mothers, wives, friends, and artists when we are on the top of our game. That does not happen when we are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained, dried-up, shriveled little husks of the spectacular human beings we once were. Its an easy trap to fall into. We just have to find our way around all the personal and societal expectations of who we should be and what we should be able to accomplish. All too often I think I am supposed to give everything I have without taking the time to refuel. Then I find myself standing on a box in the yard, screaming to the universe "I CAN'T DO IT ALL!!!!!!"
The Universe already knows that. So does my husband (poor guy, haha!). But that's OK, it's therapy.

So here it is.  Take some time to hang with the girls every once in a while. Meditate. (Some form of daily meditation/prayer will benefit you, your art, and everyone around you, so I highly highly HIGHLY recommend taking it up if you haven't already). Pass baby off to dad and go to a movie or read a good book in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, go for a run, make a gluten-free raw vegan cashew cacao cheesecake then eat the whole thing by yourself…  ahem… or whatever helps you feel rejuvenated. Creativity requires energy. Sometimes that means exercise, sometimes that means a nap. That's on you.

Many women have caught on to the realities of "everything goes in cycles." Our monthly visit from Aunt Flo (sorry guys) is a prime example. Christiane Northrup, M.D. mentioned in one of her books (sorry, you'll have to find the reference on your own because I can't remember right now) that our creativity levels often ebb and flow with our menstrual cycle. Wild, eh? But I get it. I can almost pinpoint when I will have creative bursts so I try very hard not to freak out when I am in a slump. If that sounds like you, start paying attention to your own internal creativity clock and have everything set and ready to go for an artistic explosion when the time is ripe (but don't sit and wait for it). Better yet, have everything set and ready to go ALL the time so you can work at a second's notice. Even if you only have time for two brushstrokes, GREAT! That would be two more than you would have done if your projects and supplies were stuffed in the hall closet. My studio is still in the planning part of construction so I am currently working from home (when a SAHM morphs into WAHM). I carved a little space out of the kitchen/dining area and keep my supplies out and a canvas on the easel at all times. I would probably make one painting a year if I had to put everything away after every painting session.  I also have an inspiration book. I cut images of paintings I like from magazines and glue them in a book. Flipping through those pages or looking through books about William Merritt Chase or Edgar Payne or any other of my faces get my creative juices flowing faster than a shopping spree in an art supply store!

You really just have to find what works best for you.
If you are like me, you'll have to keep an open mind and allow yourself and your schedules to flex… a LOT!  -And use whatever you have available to keep the kiddos occupied.
Example: This morning I got about three hours of painting in (fist pump and can I get a woop-woop?) not consecutive, but pretty close. There were diaper breaks, snack breaks, cuddle breaks for kid and dog, and several puppy-has-to-go-outside-to-take-care-of-business breaks, but I got a lot done. I sketched the painting in yesterday and got it mostly mapped out in paint this morning. Tom and Jerry were in full force and Ruff (the puppy) supplied some good distraction for my little pant-less tractor wrangling' cowboy. I also have an Ikea children's easel set up in my work space. I covered the chalkboard side with chalk and gave Rowdy (my almost 2-yr-old) a container of water and some paint brushes. He paints often. When the water dries, the chalk is still there, just pushed around a bit. I haven't had to re-chalk the board yet. Woohoo!
Soren (age 6) has Legos, costumes, books, a good sized video library, and six fancy storage boxes filled with art and craft supplies to turn to for self guided entertainment. For itty bitty ones, I suggested investing in a nice baby carrier- Ergo classic is my own personal fave.  Painting with a papoose can be tricky at times, but hey- you gotta do what you gotta do.

Last but not least…… and this is so important that it's in bold type:

Motivation and inspiration are not something to wait around for.
You HAVE to make time for and demand an audience with your Muse. That means paint even if you don't feel like it. Draw when you can't paint. Take reference photos or look at art when you can't draw. Make yourself work even if it means you have to pull yourself off the floor after a full-on toddler-style "i don't want to" temper tantrum. There will be plenty of times when everything feels like an end-of-the-world struggle. But if you push through it, all that work will bring you to periods where the entire process flows without effort, when the painting paints itself into your best work yet and the experience is like a spiritual awakening that has you floating on cloud nine for what feels like an eternity.
Aaaaand then you find yourself in another struggle to mix paint and can't seem to get that green juuuuuust right. Frustrations and outside obligations set in and there's that whole cycle thing again.

Remember that struggle equals growth.
Think about those fabulous milestones our babies go through, and we are always proud of, and we celebrate and brag to everyone who will listen about our genius baby's progress.

Knowledge is like a stack, or pyramid, of children's building blocks. You can always tell when a baby has reached another milestone because they sort of backslide a little. Actions/movements are a bit clumsier than usual and baby is more frequently frustrated. (Check out the Wonder Weeks if you get a chance. They have a handy-dandy app for the mommies of young-uns out there)
When he hits a new milestone, Baby has, in a sense, added a new block of learning to his tower of knowledge and knocked the whole thing down in the process. Talk about frustrating! Now he has to put everything back in place. But once everything is back where it belongs and the new learning is assimilated, baby gets to experience that glorious feeling of accomplishment and things are easier for a while. Then another block is added to the structure, everything is knocked over, and the cycle begins again.
That, to me, is exactly like the creative learning cycle.

So. Next time you find yourself in an artistic slump, look for the cause. If you are feeling run down, take time for yourself. You'll thank you later.
If you are waiting for the urge to hit, force yourself to draw, paint, or whatever your form of creativity is. Just remember- it's all about the process. We are constantly growing, learning, changing, just like our little ones who will soon be independent little dare devils fighting bad guys in the back yard for hours at a time. 
It gets easier.
And I will promise you that- if you promise to remind me of the same thing next time I'm at my wit's end and about to implode. Hahaha!

Happy painting!


Here's what is on my easel:


WIP
12"x24"

I don't like the angle of the roof on the right side, so that will change, and there are some more dark spaces to block in, but I am happy with the progress so far.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Eureka!!!

Muahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!
Wahooooeeeee!!!!!
I got a nice little stretch of uninterrupted time to paint.

"How?" You might ask.

Great question!
I plopped my little guy into the Ergo baby carrier, did a little bit of house work until he fell asleep, then painted until he wet his diaper. Haha! (He does NOT like being wet.)

This is just a start and the photo was taken with my phone. Probably pretty grainy. But still! The last time I got that much done I had to ask family to come 45+ minutes out of their way to help. God bless them for coming, but I feel bad about asking people to do things I know are very inconvenient.

The painting:
Don't have a title for this one yet. Hubby, the boys, and I stopped at a farm on the way to Sisterdale a few weeks ago and got a load of wonderful reference photos. The landowners are wonderful people.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Finding balance

After having my second child I find myself having to learn how to balance mommy-hood and painting all over again (not that my mommy hood ever stopped after my first, its just so much easier to plop a five year old down with a bunch of legos while mommy paints than it is to do anything that requires two arms- or any amount of concentration- with an infant) I swear, the little guy has an alarm set to go off the minute I try to sneak in some work.
I have had my share of crying pity parties in the past few months, but in reality, I wouldn't change a thing. I love getting to spend so much time with my boys, even if it does interfere with my career for a short while. Children grow up so fast. It would be a shame not to enjoy the moment while it is there.
That said, it would also be a shame not to keep pushing on a career that has had such a great start! This is where the balancing act begins. I have been trying to figure out how to get enough time in the biggest blocks possible for painting and I think I may have found it. Tonight, I worked after everyone went to sleep. I used to work until three and four in the morning a few years ago. Starting to think late night painting is the way to go. I nap when baby naps anyway, so I will only be missing out on three or four hours of interrupted sleep at night.

Today I ruined a 24"x36" floral piece that has kind of been in the works for so long I can't remember when I started it. (There are a lot of things I don't remember these days.) No biggy. I had other, more promising reference photos lined up.

I got the other, more promising pieces sketched out tonight, all of which are hopefuls for the upcoming show at Whistle Pik Galleries in March. I'll post more about that soon...

Oh, and Happy New year, y'all!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fawn-Deux, W.I.P.

This should be interesting. Wildlife are not necessarily in my niche, but the colors and shapes were awesome, so I just have to paint this lovely little pair my husband and I came across a few months ago.

We shall see how it turns out.