Friday Wrap Up

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Pen & Ink

VintagePayphone_web_lowres

Here’s how I did with this week’s tasks:

  1. Add images of art in frames to current Etsy listings In progress. This is taking a long time.
  2. Print copies of latest listing to check quality They looked great! *Hint-hint*
  3. Change website portfolio to 3 columns for better visibility on mobile devices
  4. Move the ‘Shop’ page to end of website menu Changed my mind. Not going to do it.
  5. Figure out why the ‘Connect’ page loads slowly and fix it The image size was too large. FIXED IT!
  6. Add a photo to the ‘About’ page Still need to do this. But I need a good photo. And a haircut.
  7. Complete new ink drawing of phone See above. Soon to be in shop.
  8. Start new drawing (another typewriter?) I’ll do it soon. I took photos of vintage typewriters at Portland’s Grand Marketplace. They have pant loads of typewriters. 
  9. Write three blog posts
  10. Upload at least 4 new images to Instagram and Facebook

 

Good things that happened:

I’ve got a new commission to create an illustration/ t-shirt design for a general contractor. It’ll be a fun project. And it pays! Although, I’m still trying to figure out how to price this type of work. In spite of a vast number of internet articles on the subject, pricing still feels like a mystery.

I requested and was accepted to become a contributor for the Portland Urban Sketchers blog. And made my first post! Now I have to make a point of Urban Sketching at least once a month. This is a commitment I am very pleased to have made.

I met up last Thursday evening with a weekly drink & draw/craft group. It was fun and I will be going again. They were cool people who were not that hard to talk to- even for me. Well, the drinking helps.

Things I learned:

It’s not as hard to meet new people as I’ve always thought. Maybe it’s Portland, but maybe I’ve just never tried hard enough. Even introverts need some level of social interaction. And all the insecurities that come with being around “new people” are  nonsense. In a good mood, I’m willing to flush them all down the toilet forever.

 

+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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Watercolor Wednesay & Urban Sketching

Advice Requested, Ink & Watercolor, Subject of Thought, Urban Sketches

UnionStation_web_lowres

I love Urban Sketching. Whether with an official group or on my own, I love spending 2-3 hours out of my house drawing from life. I leave a place with a much more complete sense of it. Not only do I have the visual ‘snapshot’ I’ve captured on my page, but looking at the complete sketch conjures the whole experience: the day’s weather, music or radio shows I listened to while sketching, people I saw walking by, and conversations I overheard.

For example, with this sketch, I recall an episode of Car Talk and an OPB show discussing David Bowie’s death. Which makes me sad. And I remember that buses came and went while I sketched, blocking and freeing my view. A man walked by wearing official-looking clothes, who I thought might tell me I needed to pay for parking if I was going to sit there all day (but didn’t). Which makes me feel a little anxious. Bus drivers took cigarette breaks and a woman wearing a coat over a very short skirt ran through the rain looking very cold.

The everyday moments of life are not usually interesting enough for people to document. A group of women returning to their car after getting off a train isn’t unusual or funny or touching. It’s nothing. But it’s a moment in time like a million others. Each Urban Sketch contains these moments like an invisible catalogue.

 

+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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This Week’s Focus & Scheduling Time to Work

Advice Requested, Pen & Ink, Subject of Thought, Today's Focus

IMG_5508
This Week’s Focus:

Improve the overall appearance of my Etsy listings and make minor improvements to website.

Tasks:

  1. Add images of art in frames to current Etsy listings
  2. Print copies of latest listing to check quality
  3. Change website portfolio to 3 columns for better visibility on mobile devices
  4. Move the ‘Shop’ page to end of website menu
  5. Figure out why the ‘Connect’ page loads slowly and fix it
  6. Add a photo to the ‘About’ page
  7. Complete new ink drawing of phone
  8. Start new drawing (another typewriter?)
  9. Write three blog posts
  10. Upload at least 4 new images to Instagram and Facebook

Subject of Thought: Scheduling time to work

I get up every morning about 6:30 by one or both of my kids jumping on my head. It is then a flurry of food, clothes, crying, playing, crying, leaving for errands, more food, and more crying. About 1pm- a break! One boy naps, the other watches some tv on the iPad. I’ve got 1+ hour. Ok, 2hrs. 2.5. (I hate to admit how much tv my 4 year old watches, but, fine I’ll be honest. It’s mostly quality pbs kids…)  I eat lunch then do some of the items on my list. I can get a good chunk of computer work done at this time. Then, the napper wakes, and it’s another flurry of crying, food, and playing followed by the most stressful of flurries, which is dinner/bedtime. After that I can begin my artwork day. At around 7:30pm.

In my planner, I’ve written out my ideal schedule for each day:

  • 20 -30 minutes reviewing today’s plan and considering/ creating tomorrow’s plan
  • 1-2 hours making new art
  • 1-2 hours completing other tasks (mostly computer work)
  • Create a blog post each MWF

So, figure I get about 1.5 hrs of computer work done during nap/tv time. Then from 7:30 to 8, I plan, then from 8- 10 I can make art. This is do-able. Though, I admit, lately I find myself staying up until 12. And doing much more computer time than 2 hrs per day. In any case, the schedule seems reasonable and sustainable.

+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

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Organizing & Planning for Action

Advice Requested, Pen & Ink, Subject of Thought, Taking Charge, Today's Focus

I’ve had many failed attempts at keeping journals, but the journals with the longest successes have been fill-in types. To maximize my success here, my blog posts are going to be laid out like a fill-in journal with prompts. I’ll type in a statement of the week and day’s focus, followed by a list of current tasks, and a quick progress report. After I get the important facts laid out, I’ll go into a subject of thought. I will not guarantee relevance.

This layout reminds me of Bridget Jones’ diary… Except there will be no accounting of my weight, alcohol units consumed, or fags smoked. Definitely no romance. And less self-hating. I hope. But the important stats will be logged. So in that way, similar.

Here’s the first:

BrushesSquare

This Week’s Focus: Finalize website, restart blog and work on art

Today’s Focus: Write a blog post that explains what I am doing here

Tasks:

  1. Decide what I am doing here
  2. Decide how to organize these blog posts
  3. Write this blog post
  4. Upload something new to Instagram
  5. Work on a drawing of a vintage phone

Progress: 3 of 5 tasks complete.

Subject of Thought: Organizing & Planning for Action

I needed a tool for organizing goals and tasks in this endeavour. Something more robust than scribbled to-do lists on Steno pads. I searched the internet high and low for goal organizing apps, calendar apps, and planner apps. I even downloaded no less than 3 and spent a good 20 minutes each filling in all my plans, only to find them unusable and/or unfree. Then, I came across Passion Planner and realized all I really need is a good old-fashioned, very well-designed, physical weekly planner. Free downloads = radical.

After spending several hours with my new planner, I began looking at a book I checked out from the library: The Artist’s Guide: How to make a living doing what you love by Jackie Battenfield. It devotes a whole chapter to identifying goals and task planning. I’m quite pleased that I JUST did this. Pretty much exactly as she details it in her book. Sweet validation!

 

+Please feel free, feel requested, to use the comments section below if you have any advice or suggestions. Any advice is accepted. All suggestions will be considered.+

If you’d like to follow this blog, click the follow button revealed by the + below. 

 

 

A note of clarification.

Taking Charge, Vision

Ears_web

I should be clear. Getting to this point where I feel comfortable even admitting to myself that I am an artist and what I want is to do is make a living with art, took 33 years. Well, I suppose it was there long ago, but gradually got squashed. In fact it was just the other day that I finally said the words, “I want to be an illustrator,” to myself when considering what kind of work I should look for in the next year. It had been a foggy, amorphous idea floating around for so long. I didn’t want to utter it aloud for fear of the disappointment of it’s sure impossibility.  In Jackie Battenfield’s, The Artist’s Guide, How to make a living doing what you love, I read a quote from Morgan O’Hara:

Listen to what you are telling yourself. Accept who you are.

There are so many reasons to ignore ourselves and reject who we are. But it’s painful, a little bit, every day. We get attached to ideas of how much money we need to make, how we don’t have the right experience, how our personality should be, how much easier it could be if we just felt differently. We can decide to find happiness in our circumstances and choices, through acceptance. And we can also accept that we are happiest under certain conditions- then make choices to put ourselves there more often. Acceptance doesn’t mean happily sitting on a busy sidewalk watching everyone else go about their business. I’m aiming for active acceptance.

What am I talking about? I’m probably going to quit this too.

No, I’m not.

Strategery.

Art, Taking Charge, Vision

 

It’s real simple. Set goals, decide on tasks, do tasks, achieve goals.

I recently bought Lisa Congdon’s book, Art Inc. and read it cover to cover. I’ll say it was inspiring and informative and the reason I am writing this now. I read this in her book, and many other places too: You want to succeed? You must commit. Set goals, decide on tasks, carry them out, whittle big, scary goals down to do-able pieces of work. It’s logical and not particularly innovative, but making a plan can be a significant hurdle. Trying is hard and the fear of failure is paralyzing. If you don’t plan, you avoid taking the first step into the unknown. So, here goes the left foot…

Vision: Create a viable art career for myself.

Specific short-term goals:

  1. Create a website by end of January (done!)
  2. Enter local craft show by March
  3. Get showing of my art in local public place by April
  4. Make $250 in Etsy sales per month in March – May
  5. Get 3 freelance illustration jobs by September

A goal made it onto the list if it was SMART.

  • Specific – Identify the who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Measurable – Can you easily determine when it has been achieved?
  • Attainable- Is it possible?
  • Realistic – Can I do it, considering my other obligations?*
  • Timely – Set a due date.

I have so many tasks I won’t list them. Instead, I’ll address them as I go.

… right foot…

 

*At first, Attainable and Realistic seemed the same, but I think there’s an important distinction. Attainability addresses possibility. Many things are attainable: I could travel the world alone for the next 12 months. Realism factors in decisions you’ve already made: I am committed to being a decent, present parent to my two boys. Long term independent travel is not realistic for a mother of small kids.

New Year GOAL

Advice Requested, Ink & Watercolor
My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

My favorite watercolor tubes, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham, and a Van Gogh that is now all used up.

I think it all started last year when I decided to change my hair part.*  I went from right part to left part. This lead to examining all major components of my character because, obviously, if you can wear your part on the other side, the possibilities are endless. Then there were a few new Instagram followers (by strangers!), some Etsy sales, two illustration commissions. Nothing totally groundbreaking, but some encouragement. Then I applied for a job that I REALLY wanted and would have been great at. And did not even get an interview. Also, I must consider the ages of my kids, and the fact that I plan to buy a house soon, and money is sort of a necessity. The truth comes out: I need to get a job. Not today, but soon. It needs to pay well enough to cover child care, and I only have experience working in the construction industry. And I haven’t worked in 5 years. So, it’s not going to be easy.

New Year’s resolutions are doomed to failure, so it is my GOAL that between now and the day I need to go back to a full time job in construction, I’m going to make the best attempt I can at making money from art.

I’m relaunching this blog into a more complete website, with an emphasis on my portfolio. I’m going to use the blog portion of the site to detail my plans, track my progress, and keep myself accountable. It may be super boring. It may be wordy. But I’m going to keep it organized and there will be a drawing on every post. Because I NEVER look at blog posts without pictures. I usually never read the words at all, so if the rest of y’all are like me, I may be talking to a brick wall. But it should be fine. You’ll get a pretty picture, I’ll pour my soul out to the ether.

I usually don’t make these sort of proclamations because I know myself: I’m easily distracted and I have a short attention span. Unless I have a job to do. Then, I am committed and hardworking. This is it. Let no poor attitude stand in my way!

Stay tuned for more.

 

*Truly, it all started with Sketchbook Skool, which I have posted about a number of times. It was the single instigation behind my current daily habit of drawing and making art. Even if a career in art is never a reality for me, I owe them a debt of gratitude for showing me that taking time everyday to make something -for the sole reason of enjoying the process- is perfectly acceptable and, even more, will make for a better life.

Always read the asterisks. It’s where you find the truth.

Road Trip to the Central Coast

Pen & Ink, Sketches, Urban Sketches, Watercolor

Several weekends ago I ditched the kids with my husband and visited my friend in Grover Beach. I sketched on the drive down, sketched everywhere we went, and sketched on the way home. I filled 4 pages of my Goodbye California Sketchbook! And my friend still speaks to me, so I must’ve managed to sketch and interact with her at least enough to not completely piss her off. She’s a real sport.

On the way down I stopped in Chualar for the old PG & E Substation. It was windy and I was basically standing on the onramp to the freeway for the only possible vantage point. A CHP officer was pulled over nearby and I didn’t want to have to explain myself, so I drew fast and saved the watercolor for later. Next, I stopped in beautiful Gonzalez and battled the after school crowds for a parking spot with a view of the water tank. Next, I sketched the oil field just north of Paso at an inexplicably popular exit with no services and a view of, well, an oil field. The old Motel sign is in Paso Robles across Hwy 101 from Firestone Brewery. I wanted to sketch that too, but I was running out of daylight. And get this: I had to sketch the Soledad sign from an internet photo because THEY TOOK IT DOWN!!! Big mistake, Soledad. Despite it’s implications, the sign was all you had going for you. Hwy101page

In SLO, we wandered around downtown, sipping tea, second-hand smoking hobo cigarettes, and fake shopping. The Fremont Theatre was a must draw, as well as the Mission. BTW, I did my 4th grade mission project on Mission SLO, so I know pretty much everything about it. After all, I have built it out of sugar cubes. I’m not a Mason, or anything, but the art store, Law’s Hobby Shop, where I purchased all my college supplies, used to be in the building which houses Masonic Temple. Now its a Christian Bookstore or something lame. I had to draw the Indian statue out in front of the Cigar shop. When I was living there, some DB frat guys stole the original Indian and it was never seen again. I had always thought it had been returned, but as I was sketching, the owner came out and told me he replaced the stolen one. And then bolted it’s ass to the building. Then I sketched the mountain, which of course, is Bishop’s Peak. Which I have hiked to the top of no fewer than 25 times. Probably.

SLOpageweb

I didn’t finish my Cal Poly page- I still plan to include the Cal Poly Seal. But this page shows the Yosemite Hall dorm- is where I met my husband. Aww! Memories!! And some places where I learned.CalPolyweba

Finally, we drove to Morro Bay and sat atop a hill where I had a lovely view of both Morro Rock and the power plant towers. It was really quite lovely.MorroBayweb

 

 

Work to amuse yourself.

Art

Last Sunday, I had the good fortune to have a day on my own on one of those remarkable California January days where everyone wears shorts and acts like it’s July. Seriously, I saw a guy strip down to his undies and lay out to tan on the grass by Lake Merritt. Lake Merritt is in the middle of downtown Oakland! But dudes, it was hecka nice. The weather. Not his buns. Well… I tried not to stare.

I took BART over to Oakland, which, in itself is great for arting, because nearly all people on BART are either sleeping or looking at their phones. The few people who do notice I am drawing people seem to find it amusing. I think they are secretly wishing someone was drawing them.012515.003    012515.002

Once there, I wandered in the general direction of the Oakland Museum of California, which was my official destination. I crossed the street on 12th and happened to see a pretty decent view of the Tribune building. I’ve admired it from the freeway for years always thinking I’ll get down here someday and find a good spot to sketch it. And there it was! So I stopped and stood on the sidewalk and sketched the view while listening to the ranting sermon of a wackadoo who suggests that if women are allowed to speak at your church, YOU NEED TO FIND A NEW CHURCH! And some other stuff too vulgar to repeat on the internet. But he was all the way on the other side of the street, so it was cool. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

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Tribune Building from 12th Street.

Eventually I ended up at the museum. Looking around at the always inspiring artwork of Frida Kahlo, I saw a quote on the wall of the late David Gilhooly that I had to write down:  “After all, why does an artist work…” That’s how long I had my pen out before one of the ninja art guards came over to inform me that only pencils are allowed. Sigh. Luckily, I had a pencil. “…but to amuse himself,” I finished writing the quote. I hate getting in trouble. All flustered, I continued. I did a quick sketch of the view out the cafeteria window where I had an awesome Manchego and Niman Ranch ham panini. I considered getting out my watercolors, but feared more interaction with the museum police. I completed my museum tour in the natural history section and found a raven to sketch. In pencil.012515.006

By then, the weather was getting spectacular, so I walked to Lake Merritt. I sat in the pillowy grass and painted the Tribune sketch. I pondered what else needed sketching, and decided that my bag was far too heavy to keep walking. I headed back to BART and sketched more people on the way home. I love when just a few hours feels like a whole vacation.012515.004 012515.005

Sketchbook Skool is over. I’m sad.

Pen & Ink, Watercolor

The six weeks are up and my sketchbook is completely filled. I’ve never filled a sketchbook before and consider this a very satisfying accomplishment. This class was more fun than any art class I’ve taken in person and I’m pretty bummed I have to wait until October to start the next one. October?! Gah.

I got to the last page in my sketchbook- the very last- the page with the actual back cover. I wanted to try my hand at actually composing a sketchbook page with some thought, rather than my normal diving right in there with absolutely no plan. I decided to make 6 mini-drawings representing each of the lessons and try my best to make them look like they belong together. Unfortunately, the back cover makes the size of the page too large to fit in my always disappointing scanner, making it blurry. So, this is an also-but less-blurry, photo.

photo (2)

Everybody, just go out there and sign up for the next Sketchbook Skool right now. I did.

Ok, well, not really because you can’t yet, but I will.

P.S.
My 3-year-old saw the selfie and said, “Mom, is that you??” I proudly said, “Yes!” And then he said, “It doesn’t look like you.”

Huuuuhhh. To which I replied, “Well, it looked enough like me that you knew it was me, so there. And what do you know? You’re a kid.”