Burst my bubble

So I’m in that dreamy, creative state; full of distracted, half-formed ideas and good intentions when I walk into my local art supply store to buy everything I need to create my next project. I’ve been dreaming of painting on a large canvas an abstract landscape that’s been living in my head for weeks. I’m stopped short by this:

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And suddenly all my desire to paint that dreamscape has been knocked out of me, like hitting a mass-produced faux brick wall. I just look at this stack of 20 identical “Art for your wall!” canvases and feel like, what is the point of my spending the time and energy on creating something that a factory can produce in minutes for pennies? It’s not that they aren’t nice to look at, and, somewhere along the way, an artist was probably involved in their creation, but it really sucks the wind out of your sails, you know?
As long as I can pretend that what I create is special, it’s very fulfilling to be a painter, but then when I’m nearly smacked in the face with a reminder that, no, it’s not special, factories around the world have figured out how to do it by reducing the creation of a work of art to a consistently reproducible formula of color balance and just the right shapes…
I almost didn’t buy the supplies I needed, it really deflated me that much. But then I did, and so I will paint. And so on. First lesson of the year 2015: I am not a special snowflake. Next post will be more cheerful, promise!

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Back to Basics

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I’ve had to take a micro step back for a bit from working on my art business, because I think with all of the business I’m losing sight of the art! I made a list of goals for myself at the beginning of the summer, and even though I’m nearing the end of that list, I’m still feeling like I’m not getting any closer to my overall goal of being a career artist. I remember feeling similarly at the the end of last summer. It’s as though I was thirsty  and decided to dig a hole to reach a spring of water. I keep digging and digging, trying different approaches,and different tools, all the while thinking that if I don’t find any water, how can I justify all this digging?

I guess what I mean to say is that I’m a bit worn out! Maybe it’s the marathon of trying to get things done with the boys home from school, or maybe it’s the guilt of trying to get things done with the boys home from school, or maybe its a little of both. Or maybe… it was the list itself. It did strike me that, of all the items on my list of things to accomplish for my business this summer, 99% of them were in the digital realm… Digital photography and editing, listing products, set up and maintenance of social media, Etsy teams, treasury building, and blog posts (*ahem*).

Very little art has gone into my art business this summer! It’s time for me to take that deep breath, just as I did at the end of last summer, and ask myself:

Why am I doing this? Answer: Because I love to paint.

So why aren’t you painting? Answer: Because I can’t paint if I don’t have the justification of it being my career.

Response: Baloney. Go paint.

A peek into my studio- please come right in!

I’m SO excited to share something with you that I have been working on for some time! I have just added a video to my blog’s about page that shows how I paint my miniatures in oils. It is my first time-lapse video, and I’m really happy with it! If only you could have seen the crazy set up I had rigged to get my camera recording at the right angle… I’m sharing it here in this post as well, so you can view it if you want to see how my miniature portraits are done! Of course, I didn’t come up with the idea until I had already done some work on it, so its not totally start to finish, but I wanted to do the time-lapse of this portrait, because I knew I would also be able to introduce you to the portrait’s subject at the end of the video! Enjoy!

Money = ? Deep Thoughts provoked by that darned (awesome) Tara Swiger

I have been absolutely Podcast- obsessed recently… It’s my guilty pleasure-way of “working” on my business even when I can’t physically be working on it. (driving, laundry folding, dish washing, all podcast time!)

If you are looking for a good listen and have an interest in entrepeneurship, my top 5 favorites for business advice are 1. Andreea Ayer’s Launch Grow Joy show, 2. Brilliant Business Moms with Sarak Korhnak and Beth Anne Schwamberger, 3. After The Jump with Grace Bonney, 4. Dave Conrey’s Fresh Rag Show, and 5. Explore your Enthusiasm with Tara Swiger.

If you are not familiar with Tara Swiger, she is an expert at craft marketing, and a small business coach who leads online courses for women (and men) who are trying to create a path for their handmade businesses. In a recent podcast episode she made reference to assigning a dollar amount earned as a potential goal (or “destination”, as she puts it) as a way of further defining one’s path on their map to success. For example, a person looking to earn six figures with their business might have a map that includes working with manufacturers, liscensing agents, and wholesale accounts, as opposed to the person who wants to earn vacation money might have a path that includes art shows and postcard mailings. No amount is “wrong”, just a personal decision. She also talked about defining what that money in your dollar amount you decided on represented- for the vacation money earner, was it Family? Contribution? For others who wanted to earn a larger salary to quit their day job, was it representative of Freedom? To the person who wants to be able to send their child to camp each year, was the money representative of Parenthood? By giving the money meaning, it would give your map more definition. Of course, I started turning the wheels about that question for myself.

I won’t tell you exactly what my weekly dollar amount “destination” is, but I will tell you that it took this podcast to realize it’s significance. I’ve always had a ballpark idea of what I’d like to make per week as an artist, and I actually had to laugh at myself when I realized that it is almost exactly what I used to make when I had a full time job WAAAY back before I had children and before I worked for my husband building his business. That was almost 10 years ago! I guess my subconscious doesn’t adjust for inflation. The truth is, the amount doesn’t really matter. My husband is, and probably always will be, the breadwinner in our house, and he’s darn good at it. I’m not  really contributing any money earned toward anything specific for our family, so the question was; what did that amount in my head represent?

It was none of those things I listed above in Tara Swiger’s examples, freedom, family, contribution… it was something even more personal to me. To me, that amount represents respect. Earning a salary like I used to before becoming a stay at home mom is, in my mind, the final answer to those akward “So, do you work, or do you just stay at home?” moments that I never became comfortable with in these past 8 years . Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have done it any differently, and I’m not in the least bit interested in landing a 9-5. I’m still at home, but I’ll confess that I’ve been coveting for years now the change in status from stay-at-home, to work-at-home mom. That’s not something that is easy for a SAHM to admit- there is always this strange ballet between Mothers who earn money and those who don’t, fear of judgement, yet unable not to judge themselves. Notice I don’t say those who work and those who don’t- that word “work” has alway been at the center of my discomfort. Is work without a paycheck not as respectable in society as a whole? I’m admiting to you now, that when it comes to my own judgement of no one else but myself,  I fear it isn’t. So that is where my number came from, and I’m not sure if it’s healthy or not- you can let me know in the comments! Sorry for the deep thoughts- back to back podcasts will do that to you…

Using social media without being a big Fakey McFakerton

My 5 year old made me this puppet- don't you love the eyebrows?

My 5 year old made me this puppet- don’t you love the eyebrows?

As an artist who is just starting out with getting her work out there, and hoping to become successful, I’m always looking for the ways in which I can give my business the best start possible. I like the notion that successful handmade market businesses are the ones that allow their own, authentic voice to shine through. Not only in the products they make, but also in all aspects of marketing. Don’t make things you wouldn’t buy, or give to a friend. Don’t use branding that doesn’t represent you. I don’t mean to say that I wouldn’t stretch my boundaries and try new things even if it is uncomfortable, I mean that I should listen to myself when trying to find the right fit, and really examine whether or not it allows me to use my authentic voice. My head is so saturated with social media right now, I was finding myself clenching my teeth every time I thought about it… not healthy! Here’s the thing- online businesses require online marketing, and for many people that’s waaay outside their comfort zone, present company included.

Facebook and I are not friends. (If you are reading this post via my Facebook page, I’m totally not talking about you) Yet, it is so hard for me to pinpoint the reason why. I’m testing out as much of the social media options as I can, and some are a better fit than others. I don’t use my personal Facebook page, only the business, but my husband’s page is always open, so I shamelessly scroll through it. I think what really ruins it for me are those people who find it perfectly within the realm of social normalcy to post the most horrible pictures from the OTHER side of the internet you know what I’m talking about stop looking confused.

So I’m all, scroll scroll

“Oh, Diana’s having a baby”

“Hey, looks like Jenn’s making vegan lasagna for dinner again”

Selfie

Selfie

OPEN HEAD WOUND.    

 

What. Is. Wrong. With. You.

 

Ok, ok… that never comes up on a business page, so it can’t really be the reason why I don’t click with Facebook. Continue reading