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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grocery Bag Backgrounds

 In my never ending quest to come up with interesting backgrounds, I came across this technique and thought you might like it too.  It's super easy and I love the look. 

I started with birch wood panels but this technique works on paper as well.  Spray your surface with water and apply ink.  This could be a work of art in itself.  Love these colors!  Allow the ink to dry completely. I spray a sealer over the top just to make sure the ink does not reactivate when I add paint to the top.

Next, spray your dried ink with water and add any color fluid acrylic paint to cover the entire board.  Then take your shopping bags and lay them on top of the acrylic paint.  The more you crumple up the bags, the better.  Allow to dry completely.  Remove the bags and voila!

Beautiful backgrounds for your art.  I wish I had come up with this technique on my own but I learned it in an online class from Catherine Scanlon who uses this technique on mixed media paper.  She uses this technique and makes it the focal point.  I like it as a background that I can collage on top of.

Thanks for reading and if you use this technique I would love to see what you come up with.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Color Schemes From Home Decor

I was a little surprised the other day when I posted this picture of art I had sold at an art market.

What was surprising was that most of my backgrounds were yellow, blue, or green.  What?  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of mixing it up, but there it was in full-on color - yellow, blue and green.  At about the same time I was having background insecurities, I was cleaning out my bookshelf and came across this little gem.

A home decor magazine featuring color schemes.  I little light bulb flickered.  Maybe I could use some of these color schemes as inspiration for my backgrounds.  This is what I came up with.  Not perfect matches, but a nice change of pace.

And one wild and crazy background just for fun.

Stay tuned.  More colorful backgrounds coming soon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Inspiration - Straight From The Jar

What I truly love about my life is that I get to create on almost a daily basis.  I have a studio table with all my supplies and the recent addition of a little jar of inspiration that was given to me as a gift from my arty sister from another mister, Kathy Ericksen.  Everyday when I step up to my table I see her heart-felt gift and I pull out a little inspiration bomb.

Kathy had the brilliant idea of collecting creativity quotes throughout the year, and when it came time for holiday gifts, she filled mason jars with her collected quotes and voila - inspiration in a jar!

When you think about it you could make these little jars of happiness for your Valentine with love quotes, for your school age children with quotes about hard work and determination (I know what I'm doing today), your comic friend with a jar full of jokes, as a wedding gift with quotes about relationships, etc.

I picked out the three quotes that were speaking the loudest to me this weekend.  Here they are - in no particular order.  Enjoy and have a great week!

*Are you willing to give up who you are today for what you can become?  ~Gwen Fox

* The advise I like to give to 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 just show up & get to work.  If you wait around for the clouds to part & 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. ~Chuck Close

*As you start this week, may you find a nugget of courage to do the hard thing your heart is aching to do.  May you find enough freedom to do something brave and risky, something that taps the gift you were given but haven't yet fully and outwardly exercised.
We are all artists in some way, whether our media is watercolor, keyboard, food, camera, numbers, or diapers.... ~Tsh Oxenreider

 Artwork by Kathy Ericksen - https://www.facebook.com/kathy.ericksen.beautitreasures?ref=br_tf

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Paper Painters - Don't Throw Your Paint (Money) Down The Drain

If any of you ever use paint for your art projects I'm sure you can relate to the feeling you get when you go to clean out your brushes and you see all of your beautiful, expensive, paint pigment, come gushing off your brush into your water that you later pour down your drain.  Especially that first wash, when your water is nice and clean and you see it turn Manganese Blue or Phthalo Green.  I hate that!! 

I use painted paper in my artwork; so, I decided to put the paint that was still in my brush/sponge to good use. I made up this little box that sits on my studio table.

In the box is all the papers I normally paint for the collages I make - deli paper, a cookbook, an old dictionary, sheet music, an atlas, a ledger, and art papers/scrapbook papers.  

Now, when I am working on the background for a piece and I have paint in my brush, I don't wash my brush right away.  I reach over and pull a piece of paper out of my paper box and lay down a base coat with the left over paint in my brush.  If I am using a sponge, I can grab a stamp or a stencil and put down some texture onto another piece of paper. If I am using markers or oil pastels or ink, I can take a few minutes and add to my papers that already have some paint and texture on them. 

Not only am I saving money, I am saving the time I used to use to paint paper.  Win - Win!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

This Way Up

On my way home from vacation last week I found a dandy article in the Southwest Airlines magazine that sits in the seat back pocket.  You can find inspiration in the oddest places.  This little article was only half a page long, but it is so appropriate for the New Year that I thought I would share it with you. My word for the year is BRAVE.  Maybe that is why I liked this read.  Enjoy :)

THIS WAY UP by Scott Steinberg

If you want to climb the ladder, put yourself in opportunities way.  We all know someone whose career is charmed.  It's no accident.  Luck (the place where opportunity meets preparation) is hard work.  Successful people actively put themselves in the cross hairs of fortune.  Simply put, they're courageous.  Instead of waiting for opportunities to appear, they seek them out.  They continually strive to gain new talents, training, and experience. 

A courageous lifestyle is one in which you know where you are going and you have a plan to get there.  When you see an opportunity, seize it.  When you spot a problem, fix it. And when you want something, ask for it.  Ask yourself: What do I need to do right now to get to where I want to be later?  Being brave in business and in life means taking that first step - and then taking more steps, one after another, until you've arrived at your destination.

Happy New Year!!