Category Archives: business

Why Teach?

Class assignment

Class assignment

So you have a particular skill set.  Maybe you know something  about computers, knitting, music, writing or as in my case painting. Why should you consider passing on some of those skills to others? Here is what I discovered while teaching an oil painting class recently.

Planning a class forced me to think about why I do the things I do when I’m painting. I’m an intuitive learner, but that doesn’t work when teaching. It would not help my students to tell them to feel their way to a beautiful painting. It forced me to become conscious of every detail of my process.  Knowing why I do things has made me a better painter.

Your mother, father, teacher and any adult you came in contact with as a child encouraged you to share.  It’s still a good idea to share. Sharing your knowledge and skills with others broadens your world and enriches your life.

The last day of our class many of my students made a point of  letting me know how much they enjoyed the class and learned. One of my students became so passionate about painting she reported that she painted all the time now. She doesn’t cook, clean or do any of the things she used to do. I’m hoping her family doesn’t come after me. Another student told me with tears in her eyes that her mother was an artist and taught her to paint years ago. But since her mother passed away she hadn’t been able to pick up a brush at all because it made her so sad. This class was the first time she held a brush in years. She was so happy to be able to paint again. Then she thanked me.  You never know how sharing your expertise will change another persons life.

Teaching hones the skills you already possess. It enriches your life to share. And best of all, you can have a part in improving someone else’s life.

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5 Ways to Blow the Block

up against the wall

up against the wall

Every creative person experiences  dry seasons from time to time. The sooner you can get out of the desert, the sooner you can start your next masterpiece.  But what can you do to shake things up and start the juices flowing again? The following are some of the ways that I blow the artist block blues.

1. Learn something new. Take a class.  The wonders of the internet have made education very affordable. Nobody is cheaper than yours truly, but I will happily pay for a reasonably priced online art class. I’ve taken a number of classes online from Ken and Johannes Vloothuis through Wetcanvas.com . They are beyond reasonable and  informative. I always come away with wonderful nuggets of artistic wisdom to put into practice. If you can take an ‘in person’ class so much the better.

piles of tiles

piles of tiles

2. Try a new medium.  If you are a painter you could get some clay and try your hand at molding or sculpting. If you work predominantly with oil paints then give watercolor , encaustics, acrylic, scratch board or pastels a try. The unfamiliararity of a new medium can release your pent up creativity.

art show

art show

3. Visit a museum or go to an art show. Find out what other artists are doing. Look at the work of some old masters as well as some new cutting edge artists. Are there techniques you see that you can incorporate in your work?

4. Spend time with other creative folks. Art groups and writers groups are invaluable sources of creative inspiration and support. Find a group and get involved.

5. Try teaching a class. Every time I teach a class I learn a lot myself. It forces me to examine why I do the things I do and to pay closer attention to my processes.

These five practices for finding your creative sea legs again work for me. What works for you? I’d love to hear how you blow the artist block blues.

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Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

This year has brought a lot of newness to our lives.  My family and I find ourselves in a new town and of course a new home. We weren’t necessarily looking for change, but now that it has come we are very happy.  This is my new studio. Don’t you love that big window?

new studio

new studio

I have new plans to begin plein aire painting.  Our new location is near the ocean so I expect my work to reflect that fact. heron

This guy posed for me today. I’ll be back to paint this area on a day the sun makes an appearance. There is much exploration and local roaming to be done. As we continue to unpack boxes and become better organized the roaming will commence. I believe it’s true what they say. Change is good.

May all of your changes will be good changes.

 

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6 Parts of a Successful Art Biz

This was going to be the year that I finally got my art business act together.  I was going to successfully divide my time between record keeping, blogging, keeping in touch with clients, posting on social media sites, and attending and participating in shows while still carving out time to create new work. Those were and are my goals. This is what actually happened.

I began 2012 by attending business planning webinars. I read and studied a multitude of art business books. I joined a dynamic group of artists who also wanted to up their game business wise. I even began to implement some of the practices I was learning. Go me! Then my husband and I decided to move from our home of 25 years to a town about 65 miles away. All of my good intentions are being put on hold till the new year. But even with this disruption of my business make-over I believe I have made some progress.

While not the queen of social media, I am getting better at posting more consistently. Facebook makes me mutter and wonder if there is any such thing as privacy anymore, but I continue to grudgingly use it. I like the challenge of short messages on Twitter, but feel lost in the crowd. Google plus is something I want to use more, but alas I must confess that I don’t really understand it yet.

I started using a cataloging program called The Artwork Archive and I love it. It could be my best new decision for this year. I can print out consignment sheets with all the pertinent information including a thumbnail of each painting. I still have some older works to upload, but have made it a habit to immediately add new work as soon as it is completed. For this I am enthusiastically patting myself on the back.

I’ve always been a receipt saver, but I haven’t delved into quicken books or any book keeping software yet. I’m very old school on this point so I’ll work on that for 2013. In a blink it will be tax time and once again time to repent for my haphazard record keeping.

My newsletters are going out more regularly and I have made more of an effort to add new email addresses. It can be challenging to come up with fresh and interesting material every month. My goal here is to make my newsletter something people look forward to getting. So if you are on my subscriber list and this just makes you laugh, I’m open to topic suggestions! I expect December’s letter to say something like, “I’m moving at Christmas time! Ackkkk! See you next month when I hopefully will be more coherent”.

In order for me to participate in shows the way I would like to I need a bigger car. Well, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, so I need to find more indoor venues. Which means getting my hermit like self out there in my new town and meet people. Maybe I can schedule an open house for the first part of the year to this end. No promises, but it is an idea I’m kicking around.

So that covers my successes, failures and postponements for 2012. I read a quote recently that said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans”. Never a truer word was said.  What goals have you reached this year? What are your goals for next year? I’d love to hear about them.

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How to Paint a Ceiling Mural Without Breaking Your Neck

How to Paint a Ceiling Mural Without Breaking Your Neck.

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My Right Brain Explosion

Over the past ten days or so I’ve been tuning  in to  a right brain business tele-summit hosted by Jennifer Lee of Artizan Coaching.  Some of the interviews were a bit hippy dippy, new age in nature, others were more practical. While I consider myself a right brain creative thinker, I’m not fluent in the language used by many self described spiritual folks. The minute certain terms are bandied about (ie. centering, the universe, and connecting with your inner source etc) my eyes glaze over and all I hear is Charlie Brown’s teacher – “Whaaa wha wha whaaa”.  In spite of that some truths have managed to penetrate my consciousness.   I have come away with a life changing paradigm shift.

Generosity and giving were running themes in many of the interviews. I do understand generosity and giving. They are principles that I have been taught since childhood and continue to grow in as an adult and christian. This is where the shift happened. I have always given out of my earnings so this wasn’t a new concept. My old way of doing business was that I sell something and give a percentage of that sale to a charity. But what if I think of my business as a means to give. By putting the giving first my whole perspective is flipped. I want to be able to give a certain amount to some of my favorite charitable organizations using my art work to fund my giving. So then it occurred to me that if I increase my giving percentage from ten to twenty percent my impact is doubled and I can really begin to give away significant amounts. Now I’m excited about my business making a contribution to more than just my personal bank account. Tell me what you think about this way of doing business. Maybe it isn’t an earth shattering revelation for you, but for me it’s truly life changing.  Thanks Jennifer.

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