Routine Inspection & Maintenance

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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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Friday Wrap Up

Accountability Review, Advice Requested, Art, Pen & Ink

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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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This Week’s Focus & Scheduling Time to Work

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

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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.

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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:

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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!

 

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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.

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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

 

 

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.

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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.”

 

Sketchbook Skool #5

Pen & Ink

Class #5 is taught by Andrea Joseph. Her work is truly amazing. She uses cheap-as-practically-free ballpoint pens to do everything! Well, not everything, she says, but many of her really fantastic pieces are 100% ballpoint. This seemed impressive when I was just looking at her artwork, but after attempting it myself, I have an even stronger appreciation. Ballpoints smudge, skip and blob. They’re a dang mess. But, they do build up so nicely from very very light to very dark, allowing for a great range in value which can, in the right hands (Andrea’s) look realistic at times and like illustrative gold at others.

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First, I gave this a go with a pen my hubs stole from work. We have here an assortment of blue things I sloshed out of my un-drained bathtub. I was skeptical that a ball point could work, but after hours and hours and hours, this is the result.

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Next, we practiced writing. Not my strong suit, as I usually blast through any text with one of my three distinct and equally unattractive natural handwritings. It’s usually a block text attributable to my college architecture classes. This takes far longer than my usual writing, but I’ll admit, it’s fun. I almost did a quote from Snoop Doggy Dogg, but I wasn’t sure how to spell out D-O-G-G.

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Finally, I did a collection drawing. As I love drawing tools, and happen to have quite a collection (despite my being a renter and not having actually done any woodwork for quite some time), I chose some hand carving tools. I decided on adding watercolor here, because I like color and didn’t want to try to copy Andrea’s style too much (I use her first name like we’re best-ies). I think this may have been more to my liking in all pen, but who knows?