Let’s start at the very beginning


Whenever I ask myself “Where to start?” I think of the song from the Sound of Music.

“Let’s start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C”

She then goes on to explain the basics of singing.  After they get the basics,

“are only the tools we use to build a song.
Once you have these notes in your heads,
you can sing a million different tunes by mixing them up.”

Which is true of most things. Once you have learned the basics, you can mix them up and do most anything with them.

This blog is all about my journey to becoming an Artist, and  I started with the basics of art a long time ago.  This morning I found myself saying where to start, and realized that I need to better define my goal so I know where to start.  How will I know if I am on the right path if I am not sure where I am going. Do I want to teach art and creativity? Do I want to make a living by selling art? Do I want that art to be production pieces or do I want to be the type of artist who is hung in major museums?  All of these appeal to me, but if I want one of them to be the final goal, I need to chart a part to it that includes the other destinations on the way.  It is very similar to saying I want to be in the mountains.  When I say that I mean that I want to be in the Rocky Mountains, specifically in Colorado.  It is very different from being in the Swiss Alps or on Mount Fuji, just to name two other mountain destinations that would make me happy, but are not what I am envisioning.

My goal of being an artist is a bit like this start of a painting. It is a mono print that we created in a watercolor class that I am taking with Marie Flahive. Everyone looked at it and said, what a great tree line, you have a great start. I was a loss for what they were talking about.  They were all on the other side of the table and were looking at it upside down.   Once I had looked at it from their point of view I knew I was the one looking at it upside down, but even then, I know this painting could go any number of ways.  I putthis post in the business of Art, because as I been trying to pick up a new set of basic tools for a while, the tool set for being able to  make my income as an artist.  I have reached the point where I regularly get introduced as an artist, and not as a mother or paralegal.  This is a great feeling, but I know that I do not want to be the starving artist. This means I have a choice, stay where I am, doing what I do and hope that someone discovers me, or learn how to promote myself as an artist.Everything I have read starts with having a plan, and knowing your long-term goals.  This is both  traditional business books and books on how to make it as an artist.  The place to start then is “Where do I want to go?”

It is a good question. I need to take some time and listen for an answer to this question.  Where do you want to go with your Creative Journey?


The Week in Review, checking in on the challenge.

Creation is work, and I have been working hard this week creating more of the business end of things and less of the play. I wanted a day off. Today, I baked cookies.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”

I always wondered about this, if God was all powerful, Why would he need a day of rest? I discovered that the Hebrew word is closer to ceased rather than rest.  I let all that other work cease and I baked some wheat free oatmeal Scotties.

We are putting up our Christmas tree today, and that is always a time to reflect over creations from the years. I have the small clay Christmas tree that I made in Kindergarten, the Candy Cane horse that my Godmother made me.  Most of my most cherished Christmas things were made for me.  In today’s modern times, the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the season of extravagant giving and spending, the emphasis is on doing more, buying more, being the best and brightest. (take a drive around my neighbor hood at night if you think it isn’t about being the best and the brightest) And winning.  I had someone show the the Zuzu pet they bought at way over price as a “I won Christmas”.   I hope that his daughter loves that toy, but somehow it seems to miss the point.  This day of rest, creating cookies and memories has me ready for the new week.

Other than the business stuff, I can’t really show pictures of what I am making, because that would ruin the surprise.  There has been one collage that keeps demanding that I work on it . I was clearing the counter when I found a string of paper people that had been torn out of  a cast off piece of paper.  I asked my daughter if I could have it for my collage, as it just seemed like it belonged there.  I will add a picture as soon as the glue dries.


Building a Business

Untitled My last couple of posts have been sparse.  The lack of any immediate creative result to show left me a little less than inspired.

I feel caught in a conflicting set of expectations. In the business world there is an expectation that artists are a bit flaky, not practical and temperamental.  I can certainly list any number of artists who have created this image.  Yet at the same time, there is the starving artist expectation, that it is somehow important to suffer for your art.  I find that there is this subtle snobbery in the art world, the I create art for the sake of art and you just want to sell it.

Yes, I want to be able to sell my creations.  I am too fond of eating to be a starving artist.  This does not change the fact that I still create art for the sake of art, but that is not all I do.

Author Michael A. Stackpole, had a wonderful post on his blog  called What’s Next.  It touches on the “popular image of writers is that we’re urbane and live lives of leisure; but really we’re word-farmers.”    It rang very true, and clarified the stumbling block that I had come across.  Michael’s blog  is a must read for any aspiring writers, and is full of practical advise to anyone who is creating and marketing there work.

It dawned on me that I was spending a lot of time thinking about how to get people to make the jumps from by blog  to my online art gallery to where my work was actually for sale.   I have been participating in a number of discussions on the subject of  “Vertically Integrated Publishing.” The goal being to cut out the middleman to lower our prices to consumers while increasing our own profits.

Putting all these things together meant one thing.  It was time to add a shopping cart to my web presence.  I have been working on that, a process that has required me to learn more about creating web content and coding.  There are still a few kinks to be worked out,  so I do not have  a live link yet, but I will soon.  For now though, I am off to clear the driveway. The weather finally remembered that it is winter in New England.

A Balancing Act

I love journals and writing in them, so naturally they are a favorite thing for me to make as gift.  I love selecting the paper, the cover  and putting the book together.  It makes me smile that binding these journals is a perfect use for the warp ends that would otherwise be waste when you are weaving with linen.

At the art gallery, we have had a number of requests for journals with art work on the cover, so I made a small one.  Like many other handmade things, the materials are not the expensive part, it is the time that goes into them that is valuable.  As a result the cost of this journal is more than I would want to pay for a journal. I did some research and my price was on par with  most of the handmade journals.

The feedback so far is that lots of people pick it up, look at the price and  then set it back down, and then ask if we have any other journals.  I have been playing with the idea of having  a local printer do the labor for me.  They can print out the image and bind it in several different formats, all at a price that I would pay for a journal, but it no longer has the beauty of the hand bound binding and instead of a piece of original art on the cover, it is a print.  It is a balancing act, the balance between commercial and art.  Today’s art creative effort is for the test journal,  to see if I can achieve a balance that I am happy with.   I may have them bound with the background paper as the cover and then either cut the cover into a mat for a print, or attach a matted print.

Iris study Iris journal cover seamlessiris

I will be adding these seamless background textures to my flickr photo stream under a creative commons licence.

The Business Side of Art

There are times when creativity needs to take a more practical side. The press to get all the holiday announcements and fliers out meant that yesterday my creativity was limited to the Business side of Art.    I am very surprised by the number of Artists who sit back and take the view point of I created it, now they will come.  Or in terms of our Gallery, we built it they will come.

I am not an expert in this, but I do recognize that it is important that I promote my own work, myself and my gallery if I want them to suceed.  Connecting with other Artists, and organisations is an important part of that.

I am very happy to be working with Westfield’s Business Improvement District, I am also a part of Vallery Art Share. I am thrilled with the wonderful artists that I have come in contact with through Leah Piken Kolidas’ Art Every Day Month.  The Small Art Show that today’s art  is from supports Westfield Arts on the Green a 501(c) that promotes Arts, Artists and Performers in our local community.  This show is set up as a 50/50 silent auction with 50% going to the non profit and 50% going to the artist.

The art work will be shown in the gallery for the duration of the show, and if the artist provides a digital image, the work will also be shown on our website.  A win for both the Artist and the Non Profit.

I am always interested in where other artists have found inspiration, support and connections.   Who has supported and helped you?