That statement has been sort of reoccurring for me for the past several years and my reason this time is the same as in previous disappearances … I suffered a personal tragedy. This time my mother passed away somewhat unexpectedly.
For the past 2 years she had slowly becoming more lost. Her short term memory faded until at the end it was pretty much nonexistent. We managed to keep her in her home until the end with a lot of effort from a lot of people. So this past year I was spending much of my emotional and physical energies with her and my blogging suffered,
While I could have blogged about it, the truth is I just didn’t much want to. I really didn’t feel like in general I had all that much to say. It was sheer force of will that kept me working, and to be honest throwing myself into my business is a coping mechanism to boot. But no … no desire to share the experience and emotions.
Perhaps it was because things were just sort of one thing after another. Marital struggles followed by divorce, my financial future resting on my ability to learn computer technical proficiency, the death of my beloved horse and now mom.
To be clear I’m not now nor ever much was depressed. Saddened and grieved yes, depressed no.
So anyway to get you all up to speed.
The gallery is flourishing, Etsy seems to have a hit a sales stride, art airs so far this year are just fine (no woohoo moments, but also no wondering why the sales gods have forsaken me) and I’m working on a painting. Another cow of course because the first cow exhibition is a mere few weeks away. (New cow painting progress photos to follow soon.)
And barring anymore catastrophes I should be back to blogging far more regularly.
I had big plans to work on this today, but got caught up in making etsy listings. It’s hard top strike a balance between making art and marketing it.
Not gonna say what it is, but I would think it should be kinda easy to guess. This is a cropped detail only a fraction of the entire piece but since all the rest was untouched suede this is all you get for today.
So you’d think having been a professional picture framer for like 25 years, I’d be able to know almost magically what frame looks best on my own artwork. Not always so. Or at least my opinion can be swayed.
Here’s an example. Daisy, my sweet little yellow heifer, the first of all the cows for the exhibit this September was sitting in my back room with 2 different samples dangling off the corners. One orange one tangerine yellow. I favored the yellow but most people who ambled into my framing room (in fact all who weighed in liked the orange) so despite personally preferring the yellow, orange is what I got.
Now I know it doesn’t look it but the frame was actually quite expensive, even at cost. It was a deal where my supplier had to special order it from their supplier. So once I got it, I immediately regretted it but couldn’t bring myself to essentially just toss away a pricey frame. I thought … “Meh, I’ll get used to it and eventually it won’t matter.”
Over a year later it still bugged me. But rather than spending big bucks all over again getting the same frame in yellow, another frame line became available which I love. It has ripples running through it which add some whimsy and I’ve actually used this frame in different colors on a couple of my other “Happy Heifers.” So I ordered it.
A Story To Illustrate My Point
One thing I’ve learned is that what I like (regarding my own art or framing) is not necessarily the best choice for everyone. In fact last year at an art festival I had a customer (who currently has an original of mine) looking at another original piece, went into hysterics over the hideousness of the frame. So she had me try to cover the frame because she just couldn’t get past her overly vocal revulsion, in order to visualize it without. This went on for 15 minutes or more with a packed booth of other people wanting to buy. Finally she left, to my great relief. The next customer in line said “Just so you know, I love that frame and think it makes the painting.”
So there ya go.
You get to weigh in
None the less I am curious, since everyone who offered an opinion at the gallery went orange, I’d like to know what you all think. Just so you know it won’t change anything but I am a glutton for market research and information.
My goal was to reach 100 items by the end of last year but … well that didn’t happen. It’s harder than you think. Or perhaps I should say it was harder than I thought. I opened my Etsy store in 2008 and sold an item or two but found that Ebay was a veritable feeding frenzy of sales, so I went that way.
But by the Fall of last year, when squidoo went belly up and I lost the hefty revenue stream that came from them, I began to once again explore online options. So I took my SEO skills I learned from Squidoo and began listing on Etsy again. I sold a print within 4 days and that was just enough motivation to keep me going.
So why didn’t I do the Ebay thing again you ask?
Good question you. Well for multiple reasons.
Making quality listings takes time. Fast and furious sales are awesome but it means I would spend many more hours creating listings than I wanted to. When I did ebay I sold around 1K in 6 weeks but it was kinda a full time job. And I have a full time job selling my art already so…
Etsy listings last much longer 4 months as opposed to a week or so of ebay.
Etsy listing are much cheaper only .20 cents per plus a small % when an item sells.
Etsy doesn’t have the bargain basement rummage sale mentality that ebay does. I can sell my art for what it’s worth. I do offer special pricings on some of my listings but mostly that’s because they are different from my website in one way or the other.
I am averaging a sale or two a week at the moment. That’s with minimal game playing (meaning team interactions for promoting within etsy.) I would guess ebay would make me more, but I like the stress free environment as well as the more artisan like setting.
Never Heard Of Etsy?
I’m not surprised though it’s far more common knowledge now than when I opened my doors in 2008. But I am pretty sure etsy is about to become more of a household name as it’s going public. I think this will be both good and bad for the site. But my hope is, more awareness equals more sales. We shall see.
Etsy is a peer-to-peer e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items under Etsy’s new guidelines.
Future Goals For Etsy
Short term: Bring 1-2 sales a week to 1-2 a day. 150 items in shop.
Long Term: 10+ sales a day. I have organized my product so the shipping end is easy. Either in a tube or flat rate envelope with the exception of a couple of framed items. I am pretty confident that I can do 10 sales a day without it interfering with the time needed to run the gallery etc. I think the max amount of items I can foresee handling in my etsy shop would be 200-250. But I won’t know until I get there.
Luna – Barn Owl Painting 10×13 inches water soluble mixed media on suede
Truth In Life And Art
So I created this piece back when my horse was sick and dying. I got it to about 80% completion and then just woke up one day, looked at it and thought “This is crap.” Now being the wise woman that I am I realized my bad attitude probably had more to do with life circumstances than the artwork, so I tucked it away so I wouldn’t have to look at it. And moved on.
You know when I think about it, that sort of my entire philosophy with life. Evaluate the effort I used and decide whether it’s worth more energy or time. If not, toss it away so I can freely move on. BUT if I’m a little unsure. well I bury it somewhere so I can, if not forget it, at least not have to face it daily. (Bet you weren’t prepared for a Psych 101 class with this post huh?)
Fast forward several months and I’m happily chugging along on Lulu and this little owl painting pops into my head complete in my minds eye. After a day or so I dig it out, ponder it’s crap capacity as well as my belief that I can “fix” it. Deciding it was worth a go I plant my butt in the chair for 3 hours and bring her to this. Now I don’t know that I think it’s a great painting, but I think she is “good enough.” I can never truly judge when I’m working on a piece if it’s good art. Usually it’s not too important. (I know not very artist like of me to say it. But right now my growth as an artist is based on creating a volume of work and learning the lessons that come with that experience so …)
She is not “done” as this sort of piece is packed with a ton of minutia and details I can pick at and tweak forever. She’s very close though and I’ll live with her awhile. Probably tweaking a little here and there. I do believe it was worth salvaging. And I think for what it is, I am happy with it.
Struggling With Softness
Soft is not something I do well. I’m not entirely sure if my medium of choice doesn’t play a big part in it, but I also really love mark making. (The aforementioned Lulu is a good example of my mark making euphoria.) When doing realistic furry critters (as opposed to my representational colorist critters) I can tone down the mark making and still make a pretty good stab at soft looking animal fur. But “downy bird feather soft” is a whole other thing. In the end what I did with this piece to get more softness in it was take a wet Q-tip and lift out areas of line. Once dry, soft scrub in color in broader strokes.
So You Wanna Know What Else I Struggle With?
Water. And yes I have apiece that is almost entirely water on my short list of future paintings because I love failure,I am a masochistic,I believe struggle makes me a better artist like to challenge myself like that.
Wanted to add special thanks to Debra Major for allowing me to use your lovely photo for inspiration.
I’ve a ways to go but really 3 or 4 more hours aught to finish her up. I’m not sure if I’m like the fringy ear thing, but that’s how she was in the photo. After all my last cow painting of Rosy had fringy ears. I may change that to a more normal hairy ear.
You wanna know a secret?
Lulu is a Black Baldy. Or at least that’s what I’m saying. Lulu is in fact Rosy just a few moments before she turned her head and gave me the googly eyes that I painted in that portrait. I guess I like the whimsy of her expressive face to paint her twice.
I am a working artist living in a small rural town in Iowa. I own Wild Faces Gallery & Frame where I spend a great deal of my time in order to keep my critters in kibble and hay. This blog is is a place for me to showcase my artwork, my business and the wanderings of my mind.