Thursday, January 28, 2016

One Piece - Several Options - Making Your Art Work For You

 This little guy was a landmark piece for me.  It was one of the first collages that I made where I finally felt like I had "found" my happy art place, and it was one of the first originals that I sold.  That could have been the end of the story for that piece of work. 

I am so thankful I had the where-with-all to photograph this piece with a decent camera.  When you are a newbie to the art scene, you might not want to lay down the investment it takes to professionally scan a piece; but, at the very least, you can capture that image with a photo.  I encourage you to photograph ALL your work - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Here's why!!

With that one photograph I have allowed that original piece of art to work for me (produce income) over and over again through prints, cards, and licensing.

Prints - If you would like to make your work more affordable to the general population, I highly recommend prints.  I didn't even take a traditional approach to prints - no giclees, no high end copies with archival ink, no fancy printing paper.  My prints are photographs! WTF? You sell photo reproductions as your prints?  Yes, I do.  And I have not heard anyone complain when they hand over the cash. 

I'm not knocking a giclee.  I LOVE buying the best I can, but I usually have $20 in my purse (the price of my 8 X 10 print) and I usually don't have $80 in my purse (the price of a giclee print).  I have made peace with myself about this whole photo print thing. 

Cards - With a little cropping and some text you can turn your original into a greeting card.  I buy 5X7 blank card bundles at Hobby Lobby and print 4X6 photos of my artwork to make cards.  A little double sided tape and a cellophane sleeve does the trick.  This card sells out at every show I do.

Finally, with a little bravery and a short, sweet, email, I sent out a few images to a few greeting card companies and guess what?  I have my first licensing deal. Tree-Free Greetings picked up nine of my images for production. One of the images was this same little bird.
And it all started with one photograph.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Valentine Step by Step

With Valentine's Day approaching at break-neck speed (less than a month away - what happened to January?) I created a little home decor and documented the process.  Here is a quick step-by-step.

1. To begin, I laid down some neutral patterned paper in strips - 6 strips total.  Paint over the paper with zinc white in a random fashion leaving some of the texture uncovered.

2.  Using the edge of an old credit card, scrape on a bright, cheery color to cover about half of the textured paper.  I used Phthalo Turquoise - yummy!  Next, add some spirals with pearl white ink using the dropper in the ink bottle.  Random visual interest is always a plus!

3.  I laid in some gold painted deli paper that I tore in tiny strips to bring a third color into the background.

4. Get BOLD.  I was a little nervous to add black to a Valentine, but bold is good!  These black circles are torn by hand and placed on the outer edges of the board.

5. My stash of red painted papers.  I had just painted a batch of red papers with a lot of gold texture. I picked those papers out of the pile for the Valentine.  I like the way the gold paint gives the papers a luminous feel. 

6. Collage the heart by tearing and placing your red papers one piece at a time.  The more pieces you have, the more detailed your heart will look.
Collage Details
7.  I considered adding a black outline to the heart in a "Scribbly" style.  Instead of going straight in to the piece, I placed some wax paper over the piece and "auditioned" the scribble.  Final decision - NO!

8. Paint the sides of your panel with the same color you used in the credit card scrape. 

9.  Add white paper strips to the sides of the panel as well as a small black paper accent.  The strips don't have to be the same size.  I like the random look of the torn edges.

Add a bit of whimsy with a mirrored drawer pull on the top of your board.

Sit back and enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Do You Believe?

I recently read that what stops most people from pursuing a goal/dream/project usually doesn't have anything to do with ability, talent, where-with-all, or desire.  The thing that stops people in their tracks is that three pound piece of matter between your ears and the "perception" it holds. Perception used correctly, can be unstoppable. Don't even try to talk it down or reason with perception.  Perception has a mission, and nothing you say or do can stop it. What is hard work, is saying and doing things that will turn your perception into belief.

While the old saying, "If you can believe it, you can achieve it" may sound like a big pile of hooey to you, it is a scientifically proven fact that belief is key as far as your brain is concerned.  I'm not talking about that itty-bitty belief system you might carry around in your head that says, "Well, I am kind-a-sort-of an artist." You must REALLY believe - slap you in the face believe - proceed as if success is inevitable believe - I am artist, hear me roar believe!

Great! you say.  How do I do that?  If you are not naturally inclined to say and do things that bring out your alter-ego Wonder Woman self (and what woman is good at that) you might need a little placebo.

Placebos have been used in the medical community for decades.  People are told they will receive a desired result if they just take a certain pill.  Is it a miracle drug?  No.  It's a fake.  But your brain doesn't know that.  In scientific testing, the person receiving the placebo doesn't even know.  You and your brain has been deceived - big time! - and the results can be miraculous.

As an artist, I am very visual.  You probably are too, right?  What has worked for me in the believing process is to keep belief triggers right in front of me all the time.  I have inspirational quotes written on my work table, I have vision boards on Pinterest, I have my goals right in front of my computer so I that I can see them clearly everyday, I have a mantra that I repeat every night before I go to bed.  I have put my brain on a one-way belief highway; and, I am loving the results.

You can do it too.  It takes a little practice and a little patience - or in some cases it may take a lot of practice and a LOT of patience, but you can do it.  Try it.  Don't give your brain any options. Believe it.  Achieve it!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It's Easy As 1 - 2 - 3

Some business leaders suggest that you should only have three priorities at any given time.  WTH?  How is that even possible.  I've read it more than once in books and I have seen it on the Internet.  It must be true if it's on the Internet, right?  They say if you have more than three priorities, you don't really have any priorities.  You have a "to do" list.

The principle surrounding the three priority theory is that it will make you focus with laser precision on what is really important in your life.  It will also act as a guild line for whether you can say "yes" or "no" to opportunities that arise.  I have to admit, it is quite effective.

One of my priorities for the second half of this year is to develop my own art "style".  O.M.G. I sometimes think it would have taken less time to learn how to become a brain surgeon.  What do you need to develop your own art style?  Time.  Lots and lots and lots of time. Malcolm Gladwell puts a figure to the number of hours it takes to "master" a skill set in his book, Outliers. The magic number of hours is 10,000.  Wow!  Thanks, Malcolm for figuring that out. This is where having a laser focus comes into play.

If you strive to become an outlier or if you would like more time - and who doesn't need more time - your priority system is a must.  Let's put it to the test.  Can you organize the community garage sale?  Will that take any time away from my priority?  Probably several week's worth, right?  The answer is "no".  Would you like to make $60,000 a year working from home doing date entry? Tempting, but no.  Can you be on the school board, be head of the PTA and organize the school fundraiser?  Hell, no. Can you watch my cat?  Do you have time to make a costume for me? Don't you want in on the ground floor of ......?  No, no and no.

Here is a positive way to look at saying no.  It leaves the door open to say yes.  Do you want to go to an art retreat with me?  Yes!  So much better than, "No. I have a garage sale to organize."  Do you want to go to the park and sketch?  Absolutely.  Can I hire you to teach a class - make a commission for me - consult on an art project?  I love your style. YES!!!!

If setting only three priorities makes you uncomfortable, I have great news.  The priorities you set today don't have to be your priorities forever.  They will always be in flux.  They may change every six months, every week or even daily. As long as they are aligned with what is true to you, they will serve their purpose.  It's not easy, but it's worth it.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened On Way To Rejection

Boots by Tanner Mark
I just got wait-listed for the third time for an art show that is on my bucket-list.  It's on my bucket-list because the competition to be accepted in to this show is fierce and my goal is to be invited to  participate BEFORE I DIE!!

I could have hung my head, cried a tear, secretly plotted to slash the tires of the jurors....but instead I thought to myself,  "YES!" and I threw in a few fist pumps for good measure.  The funny thing about rejection is that if you are tenacious enough, it brings you closer to your goals. Let me explain.

My husband has been in sales his entire professional life.  He is a natural, an ace, a don't quit until they have signed on the dotted line kind of guy.  He hears "NO" a lot, but what he taught me is that hearing "NO" brings him that much closer to a "YES".  He knows this because he has had experience playing the numbers.

Rejection is a numbers game.  In sales and in art, you will be rejected most of the time.  Let's say 24 times out of 25.  But what happens when you get to lucky number 25?  You get a "YES".  So, if you think about rejection in terms of numbers, you will realize that every no is bringing you that much closer to your yes. 

So celebrate the rejection!  Do a little happy dance.  You are getting closer.  Stay in the game and don't slash any tires - that's against the law.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

8 X 10:00 - A Daily Practice To Reach Your Goals

45 years.  That's how long I had been on the planet when I decided I wanted to be an artist.  Better late than never - as the saying goes.  As a late bloomer, I have had a bit of a feeling that I needed to "hurry" to catch up to the talented souls who had  figured it out early in life.  How do you accomplish big dreams when you feel like you missed the starting gun?  Eight small steps at a time.

How do you reach the top of a mountain?  (That's code-speak for your goals)  You take one step at a time.  In my case though, I thought maybe I should take eight steps at a time - or eight small actions everyday to move me toward my goals.  I came up with a strategy.  I would complete eight actions every weekday by 10:00 a.m. to bring me closer to the top of the mountain.  That's 10:00 A.M. in the morning.  That lasted about two weeks.  A slight adjustment to the plan - a 12 hour adjustment, to be exact - worked much better for me.  The new strategy would be to complete eight actions every weekday by 10:00 P.M. in the evening.  MUCH better!

So began my 8 X 10:00 practice.  I kept a journal of entries to keep me accountable and it is working out pretty well.  I know every morning when I wake up that at least eight task need to be accomplished that have to do with art.  They don't have to be monumental task. They can be as easy as writing a thank you note to a buyer, or writing a blog post, or sending out images to a greeting card company. Let's do the math.  Eight actions X  five days a week = 40 small steps. That's 2,080 steps in a year.  Do you think that could change your life?

Now, when I feel myself wanting to watch another episode of Law and Order or I want to peruse Facebook for half an hour, I can look at my daily list and see how many things still need to be accomplished.  Sorry Olivia Benson, your crime solving will have to wait.  I'm busy climbing a mountain.

I think this 8 X 10:00 strategy could work for a lot of goals that don't have anything to do with art.  Maybe you could apply it to becoming more fit or to building a better marriage.  It might come in handy for your kids to use to get through a tough project.  Or you could use it to be a happier you.  There is greatness inside you!!  Even if you start late, you can find it. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Place To Start

I'm sure my artist friends can relate to the intimidation of a blank, white, canvas.  You might have a bundle of ideas in your head, but how do you START to get these ideas out of your head and onto the canvas?

I have taken several workshops where the answer to this question has been simply revealed.  You just BEGIN.  You don't need a bolt of inspiration or a sign from heaven above - you just begin.  Sometimes beginnings are completely covered up by the end product, but think of the beginning as a warm-up.  Some idle little something that tells your brain - "Oh, you want to be creative today.  Let me see what I can come up with for you."

How do you begin?  You can make an art journal page, collage paper onto your canvas, write your favorite quotes, make some marks, or draw a picture on your canvas, like I did here.

These are five 11" X 14" wood panels all lined up in a row.  One big doodle later and my brain went into action.   

 I worked on the background with the panels together at first and then laid out five hummingbirds on the same looooong branch.  I'm not sure the long branch really works but the birds are sweet when they are separated. Completed panels below.  Can you see the doodle peeking through here and there?  It gives your work depth and there is a little secret hiding in the background that you can share with others - or maybe you decide it will be a secret between only you and your work.

 Here is a close up - so many tiny little pieces of paper

Here is a quote from artist, Chuck Close about beginnings.  I have used it before because I think it rings true for everyone who is intimidated by a blank canvas.

 "The advise I like to give young artist, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration.  Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us show up and get to work.  If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work.  All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.  Things occur to you."

If you have a way you like to begin a project, I would love to hear about it.