Is it Time to Quit?

Hi there. How are you? 

It's been almost nine years since I entered my current "Mixed Media Period." It was the summer of 2006, and I spent part of it living in Portland, Oregon. I had a lot of time on my hands and I was itching to make. I brought my watercolors, but never used them. Instead, I started cutting up the Domino magazines I was reading.

Here are some of the first pieces I made:

After that summer, I was hooked. It was a flurry of magazines, glue and Micron pens. And it was all about flowers. All fast, loose and gestural. I loved what I was doing and was making every chance I got.  

Then I made this chair.

It was a one-of piece I did for a friend. The image ended up in a brochure for a local gallery walk. People called the gallery wanting more chairs. So one chair turned in to years of chairs.


Enter the ball point pen.

My technique changed, but my primary subject did not. I still enjoyed illustrating chairs, and people were buying. So, I kept making. 

Then it was birds.

Matt (my husband) is a bird lover and encouraged me to try illustrating his feathered friends. Despite the fact that I didn't particularly care for birds HATED birds, I drew some. People loved them, so I continued. (After drawing birds for 2 years now, I will admit that I have more of an affection for birds than I used to. I think they're pretty darn cute now. I just don't want to touch them.)

There were abstracts too.

Throughout the whole 9-year creative phase, I've always made abstract work and drawn abstractly in my sketchbook.  I've made abstract collages, all about shape and color.

I've made abstract line drawings, all about form and movement. 

9 years is a long time to work without a plan.

I've flitted from one subject to the next, one show/event/fair/project to the next without much forethought. I've delved into wholesale, Etsy, a new website, new products, more art fairs, less art fairs. I never took the time to make a solid plan. There was never time. I wanted to make art, I wanted people to buy it, and I wanted art to be my main gig. I've had some successes, lots of failure, and I've learned a lot. But right now, I'm feeling burnt out and uninspired. I'm not confident about my current work and feel like I'm just going through the motions.

It's time for a break.

I'm not quitting art. I promise! I just need time to regroup, think, and plan. I won't be making any more mixed-media pieces for a time. Instead, I'm going to polish up that new website I started working 6 months ago, continue to blog, and do a lot of thinking. You'll still be able find and purchase my existing work on Etsy, at Dayshift and Bricolage, or directly from me. (If you've been wanting to purchase an original piece from me, now is the time! Get in touch!)

But I will be back. 

When I reemerge from this break, I'll have new, exciting, and most likely, very different work to show you. I promise to keep in touch and share my insight along the way.

Now it's your turn to talk. 

How did you know it was time to quit or take a break? In your work? In your life? In your education? I'd love to hear from you! 

Until next time. Ta-ta.

Can Rejection Bring Growth?

Hi there. How are you?
I had quite a disappointment this weekend. I received the word that my applications to three different July art fairs were rejected. That means I've got a large hole in my summer schedule. I have to admit, I was upset. Rejection hurts.

Luckily, after just a little bit of pouting, I changed up my mindset.
My parents were in town this weekend and we brought them to this great high end gift store at a local winery.  Walking through the store seeing all of the pretty reminded me of one of my 2014 goals..... I want to build a wholesale business and have my goods at gift stores just like this.  I know my work would fit in well at this type of gift store and I have the means necessary to produce some very unique salable goods.

At my day job, we specialize in printing on fabric. I've been wanting to make pillows out of my bird illustrations for some time now,  and I can do that at work!  We also have a UV printer so that I could utilize to create nifty digital art prints of my work directly on cradled hardboard. I think these items would go over smashingly with retailers.

There is indeed a silver lining to this art fair rejection.  
I often complain about not having time to pursue my artistic goals.....Now I have it! This is a good thing! Having time this summer without shows will give me time to work on some other aspects of my business I've been wanting to tackle. I can get that new website up and running. I can work on product development and pursue wholesale accounts. Yes! Art fairs have been so hit or miss for me in the last few years. Having other avenues in which to distribute and sell my work is a good thing.

All of the snaps I've included here feature vegetable seedlings we have started in our window sill for our summer garden. All this new life is inspiring and seems apropos for this blog about my growing and changing business.

Stay tuned friends. I am excited for the future! Ta-Ta for now.

My Show Was a Bust. Now What?

I spent the past weekend at an art fair in Paducah, Kentucky.  My parents drove 6 hours down to assist me.  It was 3 hot days...I mean hot 90 degree days!

On the first day, I sold one original work, one print and one set of cards. It was a short day, only 5 hours, so I was OK about my lack of sales.  I still had the whole weekend ahead of me. Day 2 was heartbreaking. In the first 7 hours, I sold just one ten dollar print....Even though I know I shouldn't, it's hard to not take that personally, especially when the ceramicist next to me was selling. The jeweler too. I had a little more success on Day 3 of the fair, but in the end, after booth fees, gas and other expenses were accounted for, I lost money on the weekend.

I know my lackluster sales have little to do with my skill as an artist. I've done enough shows to know that there are always ups and downs.  The turnout at the festival was weak. Heat surely kept people at home. My booth was at a dead end, and I feel like I often got missed. People in general were not buying much. Many of the other artists I talked to said sales were few and far between for them as well.


On the positive side, I did get plenty of positive feedback, sold an original that I completed just a few days before the show (guess I'm on the right track with my current work!), made some good contacts and have a possible commission.  Matt and I also made fast friends of the improv troupe that were our neighbors at the fair, and we hope to hang with them again sometime in the future. I got to spend the weekend with my parents, who were great sports during the long, hot hours of the show. I really couldn't have managed setting up without them on Friday! (Matt had to work.)

So yes, some good did come from this show, but still I can't say this bust doesn't get to me.  I wonder if I should be making something more functional. (The jewelers and ceramicists reported much higher sales and also took 5 of the 7 show awards.) Is it fiscally worth it for me to do shows? (Yes, I know this is just one show, but I do think this way.) Matt wants me to upholster chairs in the fashion that I create them in my art...Should I try?

I don't foresee myself ever becoming a jeweler or ceramicist and without some instruction, I don't have the skills for upholstery at this point. My passion is for "art", so that is where I will remain. I'm not going to give up, but I will think twice about doing this particular show again and guess I just have to keep on trying.

So creative types, how do you get yourself going again after a setback? How do you build up your confidence again? 

In the meantime, do patronize my Etsy shoppe. I will be posting new prints, cards and orignals shortly.

Ta-Ta for now.