Friday Wrap Up

Advice Requested, Art, Pencil, Watercolor
OrangeBranch_web_lowres

Orange Branch, pencil and watercolor on bristol, 11 in x 14 in

I finished this painting! It may not look like it, but this took many hours. I think 3 or four nights of 2-3 hours each. I always mean to- but never ever remember to- keep track of how many actual hours it takes to make anything. But I’m guessing 10ish hours here? That seems ridiculously high. On the plus side, shading is somewhat mindless/meditative. And I like how it turned out. That’s always a nice after spending a boatload of time on something!

I’m planning to continue with this theme. Pencil drawing with a watercolor element. I can imagine many different subjects for which this this could work well. Including my favorite subject, architecture. And portraits, too. But my productivity is sure to go down the toilette with this method. I’ll have to do unrelated 10-minute mini drawings every morning just to keep my Instagram feed fed.

 

Good things that happened this week:

I dragged myself out of the house last night and went to Craft Night. I had a real hankering for putting on my couch pants and watching Murder She Wrote all night but I decided to ignore myself and risk uncomfortable conversation for the possible benefit of normal social interaction. I’m glad I did, because it was fun and I left one of my paintings to be hung at Craft Night’s current show at Bar Carlo. I’ve never had anything in a show before. No big deal, but fun. I put up my Royal Typewriter from a couple weeks back. It’s in there with a whole bunch of terrific stuff from the others.

 

+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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Routine Inspection & Maintenance

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Ink & Watercolor, Pen & Ink

SingerOil001

Each month, my planner ends with a number of questions to help recognize achievements, identify challenges, and assess progress. The idea being, that regular introspection will help keep us from veering too far down a path that won’t lead to our goal. The activity of writing this down, rather than leaving it to shower thoughts and disjointed moments of quiet, makes it much more useful. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes it truly is hard to find time to think.

Here is one question from the planner:

Assess your priorities. Are you happy with how you spent your time? If not, what steps can you take next month to adjust them?

I spent a lot of time on the computer this month. Revamping this website, cleaning up my Etsy shop, scanning, posting, etc. It was a lot of screen time. Once I’m on the computer, I find it very easy to get off track, be underproductive and completely forget about the task I set out to accomplish. This month, much of the computer use was necessary, but in the future, I will need to figure out a way to prevent myself from getting lost in unnecessary details and mindless time sucks (Instagram, Facebook…). It’s true for everyone, but especially with small kids around: There is no time to waste. I need to do a better job of noticing when I’m wasting time and just stop.

More importantly, I need to focus on making art next month. I can’t enter a craft fair or ask for wall space in a cafe if I don’t have anything to show! I need to create a body of work that is cohesive. My flitting nature makes this very hard. I get an idea I like, make one, two or three, and then I’ve totally lost interest. How do people stay interested in one subject/medium/style? I need to give that some thought.

 

 

 

Friday Wrap Up

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Ink & Watercolor, Pen & Ink

IMG_5675

Good things that happened:

A very cool stranger from Etsy bought a custom home portrait from me this week. I started it, nearly finished it, and I very much like how it’s turning out.

I have been searching for the right paper for a long, long time. Well, an alternate to the right paper, which is Stillman & Birn Zeta. But I can’t seem to be able to buy S&B Zeta in any other form than a sketchbook, so I’ve been experimenting. Finally, this week, I discovered that Bristol vellum is, in fact, an acceptable option! I had always thought it couldn’t take water, and it won’t take as much as S&B, but it works well most of the time. I used Bristol vellum for this new house portrait and it looks super fantastico.

A check arrived for my last commission job- with a bonus. Booyay!

I got the last 6-pack of Vinter Varmer from Sellwood’s Laurelwood Brewery before they sold out for the season. And it was on sale for $5.95!! A bit off topic, but so magical it must be shared. Magical, except for the loading-my-kids-in-the-van-for-a-4pm-beer-run part. I’m a good mother. I’m a good mother.

 

Things I learned:

Sometimes I make something fast and loose and when I’m done I think, “eh.” I share it anyway and get a crazy response. People love it.  Other times, I work for hours on something, feel great about it, and people silently, “eh” about it. I’m not sure if this means:

1. it’s all subjective so don’t worry about it too much, or

2. people don’t know what they’re talking about almost all of the time, or

3. I should stop trying because trying often leads to bOring! and not trying often leads to awesome.

Mystery. Looks like I didn’t actually learn anything here.

 

 

+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

Advice Requested, Art, Pen & Ink, Today's Focus

BWHouse_websq_lowres

This Week’s Focus:

Continue updating Etsy listings and complete commission illustration.

Tasks:

  1. Finish commission watercolor and digital file
  2. Add images of art in frames to current Etsy listings
  3. Edit Etsy listing descriptions
  4. Fix all Etsy tags
  5. Take photo of product packaging for Etsy listings
  6. Make new stickers for orders
  7. Add links between Etsy listings
  8. Take and add photos to the Etsy About page
  9. Add a photo to my website About page
  10. Start new ink drawing
  11. Write three blog posts
  12. Upload at least 4 new images to Instagram and Facebook

I’ve been reading the Etsy Seller’s Handbook articles and I’ve realized that the tags for almost all my listings are completely wrong. That anyone has ever found a single one of my items is a sheer miracle. I suppose it helps that I have a few items that are obscure enough that no one else has one. So, when someone searched for “Cholula,” for example, mine is the only one that came up. But I need to fix the rest of them STAT.

There is a lot to do this week. And the kids are both sick, so there’s a reasonable chance I’ll be sick any minute. I’m not counting on this week being very productive. On the other hand, there is a lot more TV watching when these boys are too sick to play.

 

+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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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.+

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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.