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Archive for October, 2015

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I am pushing myself a bit to create more and also giving myself permission to work on my art. I do tend to work on what pays the bills now over what pays the bills later. This means quite often my personal creative time gets set aside. What’s crazy about this is my images make up the bulk of my income so it is at least equally important to keep producing new and different works. So as of this week I give myself permission to work on my own art on Saturday and Sunday. Of course I can do so also during the week, but even when things get busy and deadlines need to be met, I will give myself the gift of the weekend.

So I am now quite often drawing out potential pieces while working on one or (gasp) sometime two at a time. This is new for me. I usually focus all of my intention on one painting at a time. So it feels good to stretch a little.

Which leads me to this bizarre looking critter. The board is about 12×16 though it’ll get cropped some to probably 10×14 inches. I plan to do a set of three and am working mostly on this but have begun the second as well and the sketch for number three being refined.

Leaving it a mystery as to what it is. Any guesses?

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Big Red is not done … despite the fact that I signed it. I need to tweak the background and some of the feathers only have the base wash done. But I’m gonna set him aside for a bit and move on. The gallery work has been streaming in so time to shift focus for a bit. The colors are a bit blown out, particularly in his comb. I think I should have tried taking the photo in a shadier spot but you get the idea. It’s about a 13 1/2 x 18 piece but I am seriously considering cropping it some. See cropped version below. What do ya’ll think?

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Funny How The Universe Works Some times

A few days after making the decision to do this little scheme of mine I was contacted by someone looking to license my work …

specifically farms animals …

specifically several of the animals on my short list including a rooster and pig (which I have drawn out) and an alpaca which just that day I’d selected a photo of an alpaca to do.

I find the timing fascinating.

95% Never Manifest

Now I’m certainly not counting my chickens before they hatch as it were (Geez … how many bad chicken puns do you think I can some up with) but the timing suggests I may be on to a good idea. Sort of the Universe’s way of saying “Yes, follow this idea.”

I am contacted weekly by people who look like they could be a potential money maker. We may exchange multiple emails, talk for weeks hashing out details, they are all excited and say they’re ready to progress and then … never hear from them again.

After an appropriate amount of time I may contact them asking if they plan to mover forward or if they no longer want to, well that’s okay, just let me know.

… (crickets) …

So if this licensing deal comes to fruition I will certainly let ya’ll know.

The Art Of Licensing

I have been asked many time to talk about licensing but never have. Partly because I don’t consider myself all that knowledgeable and partly because I have yet to find it hugely financially rewarding. But I’m going to make at least one blog post on the subject. It’s high time I get back to sharing real information on what it’s like being an artist.

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Updated: Once again my poll seems to have gone missing. I’ve tried uploading again but it still isn’t showing. So here’s hoping the problem will resolve itself. I apologize if you came to vote and it’s gone. Dang it!

 

It’s been pretty quiet around here lately on my blog so launching a poll right now may not be the best timing, but since this is something I’m pondering right now regarding my own work … well … the timing is right for that. So here it goes …

Over the past decade or so I usually get asked multiple times a year (particularly when I’m doing an art fair) by various art centers and galleries if I’d like to exhibit with them. Up until recently I’ve always said no. My reason being

  • I don’t want to create a body of work I can’t sell for a year or longer. Sell now over sell later.
  • I sell my work easily enough at art fairs, most of the time I don’t have enough left over. Let alone for a themed exhibit.
  • I was doubtful it would be profitable.
  • Gallery folk quite often just aren’t “my tribe.”

But as you know I did begin accepting exhibition opportunities albeit turning them to themed group showings. I figured it wasn’t something I’d explored much, and since my art is my livelihood it seemed stubborn of me to assume it just wasn’t a venue in which I could make money. And thus “cowgirls” and now “Down On The Farm” were born.

I’d guess I’ve spent around $1500 on Cowgirls so far for framing.(and that’s cost since I have a frame shop)  Now it’s not like that money is lost. Truthfully any art I create I frame, but again … it’s money spent with no potential return on until the exhibit is over. There are other costs like the time and gas it takes for installation, receptions and tear down after the event which also need to be looked at.

In the end the “Cowgirls” show has been profitable but only because I’ve been selling prints and note cards of the new art at my usual venues. The two exhibits thus far have produced gas money at best. It doesn’t mean I’m quitting the idea. 2 exhibitions does not an informed decision make and that’s why I thought I’d ask you all.

BTW: The results of my last  poll were quite interesting. In the end it was almost a 50/50 split between the orange frame and the yellow frame with a handful of comments suggesting other color like green. Judging by my prints sales of that image with matting … yellow way out sells orange and green. In fact the only time I sell a different color is when the yellow is sold out. There was a total of 54 votes with 51.85% yellow and 48.15% for orange.

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BigRedWIP3-1000Get it? Hatching … rooster. Ah,(sighs) I crack my self up. Ooh .. I did it again.

I have an artist friend, (Leonard Olson who makes all sort of wonderful and whimsical things from wood including this) who when the wind is blowing in the right direction, pops in the gallery from time to time to chat about marketing. After getting comfy on the couch he usually begins with a twinkle in his eye, occasionally rubbing his hands together and says “You wanna hear my latest scheme?” 

So Here’s My Latest Scheme

I’m stealing Leonard’s schtick and calling this latest inspiration a “scheme.” I plan to bundle one idea into multiple marketable plans of action. I am seriously considering having a booth as a vendor at the Iowa State Fair this coming year. It’s expensive and the days are gruelling (something like 7am-10ish at night for 10 days) Add on driving an hour each way well … if I’m gonna do it, I need to commit to it fully. It needs a big financial payoff for the amount of money and physical energy I’ll be putting in it.

My plan … more farm animals. I need to expand my offerings, Lord knows I’ve got the cows but I need chickens, pigs, goats and sheep… alpacas? I don’t plan to dress down my booth. It will be much like it is at art fairs with original work and such but I will come heavy with smaller items like small prints, cards and magnets. The plan is to make sets of like 3 or 4 images of chickens, pigs, horses etc. that I can bundle and market as print sets not to mention boxed card sets. The cowgirl card sets were very popular this year so why not take something that works and expand.

Expanding this idea’s marketing potential

Etsy is cracking right along but if I ever plan to have it be a real money maker for me I need more images. I have over 200 listings right now but like anything I do online I know to increase income means to increase quantity. More images plus more variety of critters is all good. My original goal was 250 listing by end of year. After that I’ll work toward 500 then 800.

Lastly I do have a solo show booked for October of 2016 and maybe instead of rolling it over to my group showing of “Cowgirls” I will keep this one to myself. I can take all this farm critter collection and make it a themed exhibition who’s working title is “Down On The Farm” which I love but has been used so many times for so many things it would be good to shoot for something a little more clever and original. But until that happens DOTF it is.

So All This Brings Me To “Big Red”

“Big Red” is the first of my chicken/rooster series. My intention is to do a very similar color story as that of “Young Tess.” And since this post has gotten rather shockingly long and most people today have the attention span of a gnat, I’ll go into more detail later.

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BigRedWIP3Detail

So normally I post the very beginnings of a piece and most of the time that shot makes it pretty obvious what the critter is going to be. Today though, I am posting an area that I love but sadly will be worked over because my critter is more than half way done and the style is far more representational. I do love the looseness of this. Maybe someday I’ll be able to use this look as part of a whole or the whole style of a piece. Even after all these years working with my chosen medium occasionally I’m surprised when a bit of magic happens. This is an extreme close up but when viewed on the whole it’s rather glorious looking. Yeah, you’ll just have to take my word on that.

Any guesses as to what I’m working on today?

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HolidayDeerWIP8-800
I know right? Everybody got used to me blogging like twice a month. But my busy season is done and the creative juices are flowing, so I’m going with. Be aware I may drop off the radar from time to time because I’m fickle like that.

But for now …

I couldn’t stand that background being so far off so I hurried up and finished it, then profiled it and made prints and note cards. This is what the background was supposed to look like.

I do have two different sized prints available at my Etsy store. Notecards will be posted just as soon as I take a picture for the listing.

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear


I had a lot of time to kill at my last art event because I went down a day early to check out the gallery space for an upcoming show. This meant a lot of time just sitting around the hotel. So I decided to hit the local book store and see if anything appealed. I do tend to read … correction … buy, quite a few books on creativity. I’m not sure why. Sometimes they inspire me, mostly though they are a bit boring. Sort of regurgitating the same ideas in different voices. But I enjoy Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Super Soul Sunday programming and she recently interviewed Elizabeth Gilbert and talked a little about this book.

I’d like to say that she was so inspirational and I just had to run out and get it, but no. I was however … just a tiny bit … intrigued.

So I stood in the book store holding this book, pondering purchasing yet another book that I may or may not end up reading. I held this book in one hand and “Furiously Happy” by Jenny Lawson* in the other. I went back and forth on it but in the end this is the one I walked out with.

Turns out I enjoyed much of it. I thought Gilbert really hit it on the nose with her no nonsense approach to what it is to live the creative life. I talk with a lot of aspiring artists and by that I mean those who want to take their hobby into a profession. But so many truly don’t understand what it takes, and how much you really have to want it. You have to love what you do so much that you’ll continue to do it no matter what. No matter if you work three jobs and can only create an hour a day and that hour is at 5 am.

She speaks of the paradox of being a creative. You need to believe your work is the most important thing yet know in the end it is not really important. It is absolutely meaningless and yet deeply meaningful at the same time. I mean lets face it my latest cow painting isn’t going to change the world, it’s not even going to change my life, but I must honor the creative spirit and endeavor to work on it as if it is of utmost importance and deserving of all of my efforts.

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all … Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.”

She also talks about creativity as if it is a magical thing or spirit with it’s own agenda to make manifest its inspiration and that you need to build a relationship with, be open to and share a dialogue with. If you ignore this creative spirit it will take it’s inspiration elsewhere. Now that doesn’t mean that another creative inspiration won’t come your way but it’s up to you to act on it.

She speaks quite a bit about fear, which seems to be common theme in so many art books. Not something I personally struggle with when it come to the creativity end of thing but I got fears a plenty when it comes to paying my bills. There’s something about just trusting year after year that I will sell enough of my work to make it rewarding both financially and emotionally that is an act of courage for me. But if you do have fears regarding your art this book will go in deep with you and give you whatever permissions you think you might need to move forward.

“…if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting. and that would be a pity because life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.”

In the end it’s kind of a no nonsense guide and somewhat realistic look at living the life of creativity. I like that she doesn’t celebrate artists as particularly special, it’s simply something we have chosen to do. The magic happens when you connect to the universe (or God or the angels or your higher self. Whatever you prefer to call it …) and manifest an idea into reality.

Of the many books I’ve read on living the creative life, this has definitely been one of the most interesting, honest and enjoyable.

  • Jenny Lawson is one of my all time favorite bloggers who’s blog I’ve been reading for as long as I’ve been blogging. So for say 8 years now … She is a sensational writer and a New York Times Best Seller. She’s funny and real and tells it like it is no matter how crazy or painful. You can check her out here at The Bloggess

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