Blogging blues – Blogging is hard but I have one idea -a school mural.

I have the blogging blues.  I am stuck!  Everywhere, absolutely everywhere I read, the literature says that I should blog regularly.  I am not a regular blogger simply because I have trouble finding topics to write about.  I would love suggestions if you read this. 

I went to a lecture/talk by Michelle Blanc who gave us some wonderful tips on social media updates that we should initiate.  http://www.michelleblanc.com   Mainly, she emphasized finding your niche and writing about that.  I am not sure I have a niche.  I love mixed media and know a lot of information about this but is that my niche?  

She also said that we should talk about our environment; what we see or do.  My latest is finishing a mural with a friend of mine, Karen Blanchet, https://karenblanchet.ca, at the Ecole Pere Lacombe School.  Thanks to Josee Lemire, the principal,  for the opportunity: https://pl.centrenord.ab.ca/ecole  We loved working with the children and helping them paint the mural.  Putting it together was a challenge.  Each of the little squares were painted by the students then we had to put them all together.  The steps actually went like this:

Pre work: We meet with the Principal and discuss the theme and the location of the mural.  Several meetings later, we set a budget that goes in for approval.  Once approved, we decide dates that will work for the school and for us.  There will be a time to prep the mural, a time to work with the students and teachers and a time to put together the mural.

1.We get the two pieces of plywood and put them on a frame.

2. We add some mural fabric on top of the mural without adhering it.

3. We draw out the mural – the school logo in this case.

4. We paint an undercoat of colour for the mural.

5. We cut the mural into 5 x 5 inch squares. This was long because we had to label each square. 

6. The students paint the pieces based on a theme decided on by the school. This takes a week.

7. We put all the pieces back together again!  This was a very interesting puzzle.  There are always glitches.  Keep that in mind. 

8. We gel the pieces on then gel the surface several times.

9. We varnish the mural 3 x. 

10. We seal the edges with silicone. 

11. We call the school for pick-up.

12.  The school sets up the mural and we attend the opening. 

My biggest blog blues issue is that I am not sure what people want to know.  I know a lot of technical information related to art, but is that what people want to know?  Do you want to know about the ins and outs of being an artist or ??????

Here is a new work of mine.  This is what I like to talk the most about- the work. Is that enough?

 

Marketing SOS – Christmas giveaway and sale

The Shack 19 8 xx 10 in. sm IMG_2625 Marketing is a chore to most visual artists.  I have made a resolution to beat this problem.  My first step is writing this blog and committing to the project.

Here is a quote from someone good at marketing (M. Hernandez); The perfect marketer is someone that loves challenges, thrives in uncertainty, can think outside the box, likes to take risks (calculated ones), has boat loads of resilience, patience and energy.

The question is ‘Can I do it?’.  Yes, because I want to get my work known and I want to send my  painting babies to ‘nice homes’ so I can create more.  I love being in the studio and time away is painful.  Marketing is part of the away time.  All the advice says to make a plan.  Break it down into manageable sections and do it!  My plan includes two or three marketing/sales events a year, applying for at least three shows a year and promoting my website more.

Step 1.   My first marketing plan

Marketing strategies say that you need to give in order to receive.  Since it is the giving season, I will be giving away what? That is the question.  I have an idea!  The title will be:  The twelve days of Christmas giveaway.   Since it is near xmas, I am going to do a seasonal sale and giveaway.For twelve days, I will give away something that I have created. Twelve days equals 12 items.

 I do not want to spend a lot on shipping away free products.  I have several online classes, so that is inexpensive to give away.  What else?  Prints.  If the prints can be put in an envelope, that is reasonable.  Cards also.  I have a large supply.  Ideas, ideas…..please come to me………Anyone reading this column, please let me know your ideas.  I could use some help.  

 

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Artists Teaching Art

Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect.  You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect.  Read more… Monet IMG_9160 small A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella  –  Painting in the style of Monet

Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.

When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.

These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.

I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.

I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.

I had a great group of students.  My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84.  There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art.  We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork.  Then, we go on from there.  Skills have no age.  

You can learn them at any time.  The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery.  You need to create without fear.  What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes.  The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences.  Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you.  What you create will always be unique.  What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.

This is what I have learned from my students.  They have taught me more than I can ever teach them.  Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others.  Remember this fact.

Below are some of my student’s projects.  I have permission from my students but I have kept the names off to protect their privacy.  Enjoy the variety and quality of this work.  I had a great class! IMG_1059 sm IMG_1060 sm IMG_1061sm IMG_1063sm IMG_1064sm IMG_1065sm IMG_1066 sm

Starting an Etsy shop

-Day at the mountains mixed media on paper $ IMG_9635 I decided to try online marketing. I have decided to open an Etsy shop. I chose Etsy because of the simplicity of the message. It is a shop and there is no pretence to anything else. My shop is not a gallery with hidden messages that you can buy. It is simply a shop. I noticed that there are few painters in the Etsy collection of artists and I hope that is not a deterrent. Here is my plan: I will sell mostly small works and I will start by selling mostly works on paper. Once I get a handle on shipping and the details of selling, I may graduate to bigger items. I will wait and see how it goes first.My first works will be inexpensive and I will gradually work my way to regular pricing. The first people to go to my site will get deals, as they say.

Starting this journey is interesting.  I always hated painting small.  I found that I spent as much time on a small work as I did a bigger work (almost), so I avoided ‘small’.   Now, I am making myself paint small and after about 20 painting, you know, it is not so bad.  I have chosen to specialize in landscape….Alberta, Saskatchewan, BC…..  I have more photos than I want to own up to from our trips to the western provinces for our children’s sport activities.  I have started taking them out and working with them.  I discovered that I like skies; storm, sunsets, sunrises and wispy clouds. I learnt something about myself.