Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Face It....You Caved!

In an effort to keep up with the times and to use the resources that are available to help market my shop, I opened a Facebook account today. I'm not really sure how it works and the whole thing makes me a little nervous. As soon as I started my account and signed in, Facebook called up a whole group of people (with photos) that I "might know". I knew a bunch of those people!

So does this mean that every time someone who has the same location, high school or college opens a Facebook account, my name will appear on their list of people they might know? Isn't that just a little freaky? So much for being anonymous!

I really do just want to find the best ways to market my art. I suppose this is growing pains for me. Learning to adjust to what's new out there. Embracing the fact that anyone, anywhere at anytime can find me, know who I am, know what I am doing and who I am with. Maybe I should just start living in a fishbowl too. :)

You know, it's posts like this and attitudes like this that make me think I'm turning into my Grandma! Yikes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Most Awesome Workshops

There is a woman on our Etsy Street Team named Lisa Bartlett who holds workshops at Orr Street Studios here in Columbia. She is a mixed media artist who does amazing art and is very generous in helping others promote their art.

In September, I took my first workshop with Lisa. It was mixed media 3-D collage class and it was the most fun I'd had in a very long time. When I walked in the door of Orr Street Studios there were tables and tables of hardware, magazines, papers, posters, photos, etc. Our "job" that day was to spend the next 6 hours, choosing whatever goodies we could find on those tables and turn them into works of art. I felt like I was at the ultimate yard sale (I love yard sales!). I could have anything I wanted because it was included in the price of the workshop!

I met some nice people and spent a relaxing day being creative. I ended up making one small piece and starting one large piece. Below is a photo of the small piece (the one I spent most of my time on).
Even though it's a very simple piece, I like it because it's the first thing I ever made in this 3-D medium. It also combines my love of "treasures" with art.

I took another workshop from Lisa last weekend. It was held at the same place and the same rules applied-have fun, relax and be creative (if only those were the rules for most other areas of my life)! I was able to make 3 pieces this time: two small and one large. I am still putting some finishing touches on the big piece and plan to try to sell it at an art show tmer. It is collage on a birch wood panel. I used a photo from a magazine and some beautiful Japanese papers. The butterfly came from an old "how to draw butterflies"-type book. I like the way this turned out and am excited to finish it. I already know what I'm going to do and have most of the components made, I just have to put it all together. I'll post another photo when I'm finished.

The second thing I made measures 5"x5" (approximately). I love bending wire and making all kinds of different shapes with it. I have a little box in my bead box, filled with wire creations I've made. A couple of years ago, I discovered how cool shapes look when they are done in thicker wire and hammered flat. The three shapes in this piece were made a year or more ago and I'm thrilled I was able to finally use them.

I glued beads on that I received for Christmas, the background is painted blue with some green tissue paper mod podged on. I think it's cute and it was easy and fun.

By the way, using tissue paper and mod podge together is wonderful! You can make the neatest things out of those two materials together. I've cut out shapes to form a collage picture, then after it's dry, outlined the image in black ink. I've also done just a background in tissue paper and glued decorative paper on top. If you haven't tried it, you should. I plan on incorporating more of it in my own work.

My final piece is a 7" x 7" pine wood plaque (like you can buy at any craft store and probably even Walmart). I glued torn scraps of Japanese paper to the background, painted the edges black, glued an earring (the face) onto a small piece of wood painted black and a domino on it.

I added the gold lines later with a paint pen because the black space needed something else. I like this piece but feel like it may not be that original. I will probably be selling this one as well.

Thanks for taking a look at my things. I love doing assembledge art. In fact, this may be what I was made to do. I really love collecting little trinkets, scraps of wood, paper and fabric. Now I can glue all that stuff onto boards or cigar boxes or whatever and I'll be making art. Woo hoo! It doesn't get much better than this! Of course, my husband may not be too happy with me justifying storing more "potential" craft projects in our house. Poor guy, he only thought he knew what he was getting into when he married me! :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Software

There was a time that I was pretty "up" on what was happening in the computer world. However, those days are over. The fact that I haven't worked for a computer company in over 15 years and I haven't worked outside my home for 6+ years, has put me a little behind the times. It's frustrating. I want to learn all the new stuff, but gee whiz, who has that kind of time? By the time I figure something out, "they" have already come up with something to replace my newly acquired skills.

I'm mentioning this because I have some new publishing software I got for Christmas. I bought it so that I could set up my own cards instead of having the printer do it. In theory, this will save me money, a lot of frustration and help me be in more control over what I'm having printed. It's just hard to find the time to get this figured out. I was able to set up some cards last night. Tomorrow I'll take them to the printer to see how they turn out. I'm crossing my fingers.

Tonight, I scanned one of my most recent drawings. Scanning is another thing I'm just figuring out. Nothing like computers to help a person feel dumber than a box of rocks!

Here it is:
This is colored pencil and ink on bristol paper. The original idea was drawn in my sketch book, then I copied it (freehand) and colored it. I'm not sure it will look good on a card, but will probably be good as a print.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Latest Finished Product

It may not be completely finished, but I'm posting it anyway. It's a drawing done in watercolor pencil and black ink on watercolor paper. I've spent about a week on it and like the way it turned out. I think I'll make some prints and cards from it and try to sell them in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Tiny Voice and the Flitter of Panic

Sometimes while I'm doing some chore, like dishes or laundry or driving a kid somewhere, I think about my little business. I wonder to myself what I should do next. What can I do to get some people to notice me and to get more traffic to my blog and Etsy shop? Should I promote more in the forums and on other blogs? Should I make more things to add to my shop?

Whenever I think I should make something new, there is a little flitter of panic. The tiniest little voice that says, "what if there is nothing left to make? What if you are all out of ideas and you couldn't put something new in your shop if your life depended on it?"

I hate that tiny voice. But instead of freaking out and calling the tiny voice all kinds of nasty names, I just say to myself (very calmly), "well, it's possible that could happen. Maybe I am out of ideas and all the creative energy is gone. I'll just have to wait and see I guess." Remaining calm, helps me not give "power" to the tiny voice.

The fact is, the past year has been the most productive (creatively speaking) time of my life. I have loved every minute of it. I love having new ideas, I love being able to put the ideas down on paper (or canvas) and I love that one idea can lead to another and another and another. Prior to this, I was really stuck. I called it being "creatively constipated". I wanted so badly to make something - anything but I was too afraid I would make a mistake or make something really bad. I just kept buying supplies and thinking about what I could make.

The best thing that has happened to the creative part of my brain, is that I've given myself permission to make bad stuff. Things that are ugly, or weird or stupid. So I don't have to worry about mistakes. I make them, then move on.

I like being in this place much better than the constipation thing. And if someday I do run out of ideas, I could probably make a bunch of money by selling all my supplies in a garage sale. Until then, I'm just going to make stuff and not let the tiny voice steal my joy!

Here are some paintings I've done that I don't think are posted anywhere else:

The flower picture is called (this is so clever) "Flowers in Blue Heart Vase" and the other is called "In Celebration".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Much Better

The photos I took last night turned out much better than the ones the night before. I'm glad. They aren't perfect, but I can still post them and that's all I want right now.

I have some random drawings floating around that I've worked on within the past few months, weeks, days. This one was in my sketchbook and is one of my favorites. I used my new Prismacolor colored pencils to color it. I love my colored pencils, they are so fun to work with.

I had planned to color this whole image in, but kind of like it the way it is. I don't have plans for it, just like to look at it.

I'm rambling tonight because I'm tired and need to go to sleep. I just wanted to stop in and say "hi!"

Until next time....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I Ain't No Photo-grapher!

I'm not sure why, but listing things in my Etsy shop always seems so incredibly overwhelming. Since I've convinced myself it's a hard thing to do, I tend to procrastinate - which is how I solve many of my life challenges (maybe I'll address that particular issue in another post...). And of course, procrastination rarely solves anything. In fact, most of the time it creates a whole other list of problems.

I have a pile of cards and magnets that I would love to sell. However, since I won't list them, I am the only one who knows I have them. They aren't doing me much good sitting around collecting dust in the Craft Cave. So last night, I made a light box, got my dad's fancy schmancy camera out (he loaned it to me months ago). I was so proud of myself. With every shot, the weight of procrastination became lighter and lighter, until I was finished. It was about 12:30 a.m. or so, but I decided to take a look at the 300+ photos I took. Here's just a sample:

You might be asking yourself "what's wrong with these photos?" well, nothing, if you like your photos to be YELLOW. Every picture, ALL 300+ of them are YELLOW! Man, I'm mad! I spent at least two hours trying to accomplish this task and all my photos look like poop!

Like any good Etsian, I took my frustration to the Forums:

Photo Rant

And the most wonderful thing happened: within 5 minutes I had at least 18 posts from people providing solutions. That is one of the many reasons I love Etsy. I can sit in my basement, in Columbia, Missouri in the middle of the night, send out a cry for help and people from all over the globe offer their support. It blows my mind.

Thanks to everyone who posted on the thread. I sure appreciate it. Now, I'm off to try to do my photos again. Since I'm armed with more wisdom than I had last night, I'm sure everything will turn out fine!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Robot Gathering

In March, my dad was in the hospital. While I was waiting for him to get out of surgery, I drew this picture. I love robots and I was pleased with how this turned out.

Normally, it's hard for me to come up with things that I consider halfway original. All I did here was think about some different shapes and made those shapes into heads and the robot bodies just followed.

I made this specifically for my son, but haven't given it to him. Since it's in my sketch book I'm not sure what to do with it. Do I recreate it on canvas? Do I print it and color it, do I just rip the page out and give it to him? Not sure yet.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's Like Riding a Bicycle Up a Hill

It occurred to me that having an Etsy shop is like riding a bicycle. In theory, I like bike riding, it's fun and I love the feeling of the wind blowing through my hair (I mostly wear a helmet now, but sometimes to be a rebel, I don't). I like how free it feels to be on a bike, peddling kind of fast and feeling like I'm part of nature. In a car, I'm all blocked off from fresh air and it's more like watching the scenery go by in a movie.

The reality of bike riding for me is that it hurts my rump, I'm not in good shape, so it hurts pretty much everything else too. (Please keep reading for the explanation of how Etsy is like bike riding... )

When I was dating my husband and living next door to him, he loved going for early morning bike rides before work. He wanted me to go with him and I did, but I made him pay for it. I whined about being up so early, about it being too hot and I only wanted to ride on flat roads. If we came anywhere near something that had any sort of incline, I would say: "that's not a hill is it?" So in that sense, bike riding for him was a pain in the rump too!

Somewhere along the line, I did encounter a hill that I had to ride up. I put my bike in the right gear ("the little circle") and peddled and peddled and peddled until I got to the top. And when I got to the top, I felt good about the accomplishment, but also felt like I was going to pass out 'cause I worked so stinkin' hard to get up the hill.

So this is the part that reminds me of having an Etsy shop (or anything I'm trying to do to sell art). It's a hill and I'm trying to ride to the top. I'm peddling, peddling, peddling, keeping my head down so I don't see how far I have left to go, but concentrating on what I'm doing now. I'm not telling myself it's too hard, too far, too long, I'm just peddling. And as I do, I can see some progress. As I blog, as I Twitter, as I post in the Forums, as I take new pictures, make new banners, write new descriptions, I can see some progress. I have more people following me on Twitter each day, more people viewing my blog and Etsy shop and I'm getting to be in contact with more people than I ever thought possible.

I have a long way to go and a lot of work left to do, but I can tell that some of my efforts are taking me in the right direction. Toward the top of the hill. Even though my rump hurts, I'm happy to be heading somewhere and meeting people along the way!