Friday, January 29, 2010

Getting a Little Help from the Family

OK - this is all about a cute photo of our new kitten as she helped me with listing my 2009 prints for sale - good kitty! My kitties don't usually see my artwork (over at the studio), and found this wicker basket full of prints rather interesting. My biggest problem was keeping them from eating the basket! Thanks for allowing this little indulgence of cuteness!

Look for my PRINT SALE here: MY ETSY STORE

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Art of Donations... Where to Draw the Line?

Like many artists, I frequently am asked to donate to a variety of causes - usually in the form of charity auctions to support wildlife groups, art groups, schools and more. Most of the time the causes are fairly local, and always worthy. At some point, however, I have to draw the line. I will almost always contribute to a show where a % goes back to the artist, as at least these shows are acknowledging the fact that local artists aren't typically on the high end of the income scale and could stand to at least recoup the costs of supplies. Some may argue that the mere fact that your name is getting out there and being promoted thru their event is worth its weight in gold (or canvas, as the case may be), but after 10, 15, 20 or so requests, you can only use so much good (and sometimes mediocre) advertising. I have my 2 or 3 pet charities, of course. The ones to which I always like donating, and sometimes attending, and sometimes buying. And I always feel good about donating to them. I won't, however, donate anymore to requests that I get at shows. It's too hard to verify the charity while I'm there, and the reality is I'm at shows to sell my work. It's especially hard to receive those requests if you are at a show that isn't going well too.

As I was thinking this over for the new year, a NEW thought came to me. This may be the year that I approach the charities that I especially want to support. The thought came to me as I was volunteering my time at a local grade school, watching students participate in a running program. As I'm watching them make their laps, and get their cards punched, and seeing all these smiling, determined faces I realized it would make such a great painting! And as I was thinking on the design of the painting I realized that what I really wanted to do was donate the painting to raise money for this running program. It is completely not the type of event I would usually donate to, as there is no official donation program for this event. But I knew this is where my "painting to be" needed to go. And how fun for a program to get unexpected, unasked money with which they can grow in ways they may not have realized.

So... tired of those many requests? How about seeking out your own way to donate instead? It may bring you closer to the charity, your community, and will feel great. Happy giving!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sourcing Supplies - The Many Hats of Small Business Owners

Now, as much as I would like to say that this is a frustration unique to artists (who don't have hired help), I'm sure many small business owners fall into the same category - the all-in-one worker bee. When I talk to people not familiar with the odd lifestyle that is the working artist, they often have images of all my days spent painting and creating in a beautiful sky-lit studio with an easel, a palette and paint brushes my only tools. Like any other small business, however, it requires the completion of many other little (and big) tasks every week. Especially when you are dealing with a control freak (such as myself).

One of my least favorite duties of the small business owner (me) is the sourcing of new supplies. I can spend hours, days, and weeks, looking for the right product, the right company, and the right price. My latest agonizing turn at this task was during a search for quality eco-friendly paper in an 80 lb cover weight in the proper size (or easily trimmable with little waste to the proper size) for printing my art cards. I found it impossible to find a pre-cut and scored size A6 card that was both 80 lb AND eco-friendly and finally decided I'll have to cut and score my own (once I do, I will also sell the blank card material separately as a supply to others with this quandary who don't have the volume to switch to cases of larger size paper). Although I'm not at the point where I can buy a pallet load (as was the minimum order from some suppliers), I can buy cases of paper. Another part of the problem was my indecision of how big the paper could be for me to easily manage. Would I print them first (on a new printer - another sourcing nightmare I'm currently working on) and then trim them, or would I trim the paper and then print on my current (smaller) printer. It seemed everyone had 65 lb. I don't like 65 lb. It feels like a cheap Walmart card at that weight. I wanted 80 lb. I wanted FSC 100% recycled. I wanted an environmentally responsible company. I wanted product made in the USA. I found some great papers, but in the end the company that I came back to was one I have used many times in the past - Neenah Paper. Their ENVIRONMENT PAPERS are a great collection of eco-friendly products and I've never had a problem with their paper products in the past. I hope to be cutting open my new case of paper soon and begin using their paper (and envelopes) for all my art cards and card sets!

NOW - back to printer sourcing!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Annual Reincarnation of Spring

Sometimes a painting needs a little face-lift! Something about the sky in this piece had been bothering me. So, when I finally unframed it in order to get a scan of the image (something that my lovely patrons have asked me to do repeatedly!) I decided to re-paint the sky, removing some of the darker lines that had dominated it. I am so happy with the results, and hope you will be too! Look for this original to be available for auction at the SNOHOMISH ARTS COUNCIL H'ARTS charity in February!

Otherwise - prints are NOW AVAILABLE online
at my IMAGEKIND.com store

Monday, January 11, 2010

Finally - Room to Create AND more!

Booth Space INSIDE my Studio - a work in progress!

Now that the new year has a few days under its belt, I feel like I'm starting to settle into a groove and actually finding myself with some free time (gasp!) Part of the new-found freedom has a lot to do with the space I am currently using for my studio. I actually have room to set-up my 10x10 show booth (booth space, above, in progress as I figure out how and where I want to display everything) AND paint AND produce cards and prints AND enjoy a kitchen space too! Granted, it's an absolute disaster area at the moment and I still spend the first bit of my day doing a little cleaning and organizing before I get going, it's still much more room than I've had since starting my artist life. I still have to do the business side of things from home (with my hi-speed internet must-have), but it's actually working out well to split up those 2 sides of being a self-employed, self-motivated artist.

My routine currently is to head over to the studio first thing (with a travel mug full of coffee!) and work on various paintings in progress. I'm actually allowing myself a full 3-4 hours of straight-up painting time, which I used to do either in the middle of the night or in bits and pieces throughout the day (unless I was plein air painting on site somewhere, and then I just make a day of it!) Afterwards I head back home for lunch and an afternoon of the business side of things (ordering supplies, uploading images, filling out the myriad of show applications, responding to emails, and yes, even the dreaded bookkeeping). Then, time allowing, I may go back to the studio to scan images, pack orders, print cards... or then again, I may just stay home and finish the laundry (I admit it!)

I look forward to showing off some of my latest work soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Preparing for a New Year!

"Orange Poppies"
Private Collection

As I consider the direction of my artwork for those most thoughtful, inventive, and productive months of my year (January - March), I also look back to how my art has progressed over the last few years - which made me think as I was perusing my binder of artwork past - how many paintings & drawings have I created and catalogued in here? (Now, admittedly, I was not the best record keeper in the beginning when I was just pursuing an interest in my spare time, thinking it was another creative phase that would pass. Therefore, I only have complete inventory records of my finished artwork from 2007 forward.) I am happy to report, however, that today after creating over 400 finished paintings and drawings in the last 3 years, I am still going strong as a full time artist and looking forward to exploring many new ideas and techniques in 2010!

What else is on my agenda this month?

  1. Reviewing my desired 2010 show calendar, putting all deadlines and dates on my calendar
  2. Updating my website to be more interactive with my blog and other online communities
  3. Uploading my latest images to my online printshop: Imagekind.com
  4. Working on a supply list, including sourcing a new printer (yea!) as well as toner for my old printer
  5. Organizing my new (temporary) studio space in order to have an open studio - I'll be looking for a permanent studio space in downtown Corvallis in April when my lease is up - yea again!
  6. Preparing for the Bellevue Home Show
  7. Restocking inventory after a busy 2009! Thanks to you I'm OUT of cards and prints!

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