Artist moms are generally more permissive than most moms. Making a mess is not such a big deal. Children have access to art supplies. They paint. They make things with food items. They make noodle necklaces or marshmallow people then are allowed to eat them even their fingers are dirty. They are allowed to pour red and yellow Cool Aid together so that they not only find out that red and yellow make orange but they can drink the result too.
Being an artist, I had access to all kinds of supplies that they could play with. These supplies were not allowed in their homes usually. I allowed them to glue and paint. When my children were little, my children’s friends loved coming over to our house. Their moms often viewed what I did with the children with horror.
We had field trips to the creek to find plants or sticks that we glued onto paper. We hunted in the garden for gluing material too. I set up a table outside where they could paint papers to their hearts content. The whole deck was full of colors after. In the evening I just washed off the deck with the hose and all the evidence of mess was gone.
Artistic moms inspire:
Art is related to science. There is a lot of ‘let’s see what will happen when….’ activities. This is a safe way to experiment and practice fine motor skills too.
Now my children are grown up but when their friends come over, they talk of the fun they had doing these artistic activities. A memory was created and hopefully when they have their own children, they will allow them to have fun with art supplies
The best advice that I can give is that you should find your ‘niche’. Find a spot you excel at and become an expert. Become the ‘go-to person’ in your area. No matter, if you love art, you will drawn to it and keep going back to it whenever you can. You will be drawn to artistic endeavours over and over again until you get the hint and make it your career. This is a prediction….
Another way to promote your art….Wear your artwork.
Wearing your artwork is now possible thanks to sites that take your designs and put them on t-shirts, leggings, computer covers, blankets and even shower curtains. This is a good way to advertise your artwork.
There are other ways to publicize your work. You can look for companies that will make prints of your work. They can be a good way for people to buy your work when they cannot afford the ‘real’ painting. The price point is much lower and your average person can afford a print more easily than an original work.
There are also sites where you can set up a website and sell your prints. Look for Society 6 or Fine art America. You can put up to 25 prints online for free that people can make prints from if they wish and if they know about it.
With these sites, you need to create your own publicity to send people there. They claim that they will promote your work, but keep in mind that there are thousands of artists doing the same thing. They will promote to the best of their ability. You need to help them.
They will also promote people that have more work on their site and that also have a website there… This is normal business procedure. The more popular site will get the most attention. There are a few things you may have to consider before you choose.
Do you want to be in that particular pool of artists? Can you shine in that group? Is this the site that is really for you? What can the site do for you? Can you do something that is different that will make you shine in that pool of artists? Think about all those questions.
If you like creating patterns and designs, there are companies that are looking for artists that can create designs for them for fabrics. These fabrics can be for furniture, curtains or dresses. Companies like: https://designyourfabric.ca/?redirect=true let you create your own designs and sell it too on their sites. This is similar to the Redbubble site for t-shirts.
This article is to give you different ideas on how to earn income from your artwork. Look carefully at your work and see if it matches what the company is creating. Often artists think that offering them something different will make them stand out but this does not work.
The companies are looking for something that is in their ‘line’ or style. They want something like what they have but different. Study the companies before making your offer.
That is good advice for anyone approaching art galleries too but that is a topic for another time.
Sometimes, people resist commitment. Are you resisting? Even in minor ways like waiting to the last minute or making your goals smaller and smaller. Reasons vary. Did you make your goals too ambitious? If lack of time is a factor, break down the project into segments.
Sometimes, the odds of achieving the goals seem overwhelming. There is a way to trick yourself into actually doing something for yourself and your goals. Here is what you do:
1. Make a list of what you want to change or creative element that you want to add to your life.
2. Break down each goal into small parts. The parts should be small enough that you can do each step in 5–10 minutes.
3. Pick only one goal (of the list you made). Rewrite the goal and the list of steps on a separate sheet of paper. Use bullet points.
4. What is the first step in the goal? Can you do this today?
Here is an example of one of my own goals from long ago.
Goal: To make myself a space in the house where I could paint in watercolours. Just to put the moment in context, we had just moved to a new city and the house was full of boxes that needed to be unpacked. I had two small children (a needy 3 year old and a six year old that was bored because there were no friends to be had).
I worked on the house every day but I really wanted my own space in this new house. I also wanted time to paint again. I had just started again before we moved. Moving had put everything on hold. I had a doctor to find for the kids. A school to find for my eldest. A play group for my youngest. The box with their clothes got lost in the move so clothes to buy. No food in the fridge and dirty floors from the movers bringing the boxes because it had rained the day we arrived. It just doesn’t rain, it pours….
I arranged the children’s rooms first so they would have a place to sleep and play. I arranged the living room furniture and kitchen furniture. Where could I set up a space for me? For the first time, we had a family room and a living room. This was a bigger house than we had before. We only had enough furniture for the family room. This left the living room empty and free.
My eldest kept doing gymnastics in the big space that looked like a gym so I decided that we didn’t need living room furniture yet. I set up a small table in the far corner of the living room and separated it with a standing screen that hid (more or less) the table from view. At least the children did not pay attention to it since they could not see the table with interesting things on it.
My first step was to set up the table for my painting. Period. That’s all. I unpacked boxes again. The next day I found my box of supplies. I did not open it –just placed it next to the table. I unpacked boxes again and looked up doctors. After about 15 calls, I found one that would take patients. The next day, I found my references (this is in the days of printed photo references) and placed them in the spot. I unpacked again.
I am sure that you get the picture now. Now the rest is up to you….. Ready, set, go!
Taking time off is as important as working. That is what all the literature research says. I did not believe this in my early days. I kept working when I had two minutes here and five minutes there. I ended up getting work done this way, but I could not find the main goal in my minutes. I could make work; in this case, paintings. They were good and they sold but I felt like I was missing something. I could never find time to make the one year or five year plan. I wanted to have a main purpose to this creating that I loved to do. The purpose or main goal to my work did not exist. I did not have the time for it.
One day, the kids were at the pool with friends, my husband was away and there I was, sitting with nothing to do. The laundry was done. Supper was in the crock pot. There was no precedent for this in my life and I did not know what to do with myself. I could have rushed to my painting table but for some reason, I did not. I sat there. I started thinking about my artwork and what I loved about it. What I did not love about it. What did I want to do with it? I had a gallery that liked it. I was selling. My friends loved it. My husband put up with it. I had a lot of good elements going. But and this was a big BUT, I was not happy. Creating the product gave me joy but I wanted more. I wanted a longterm purpose.
So, sitting there, I picked up a piece of paper and a pencil. I wrote down what I thought would be the best longterm goals. I came up with creating awareness about art and creating the best product that nobody could resist. Then I stopped. This sounded like something I was doing for others. What did art do for me? Why did I like it?
I loved creating something out of a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a bit of paint. It was a bit like magic. I found it hard to believe that this magic came out of me. The creating also made me feel good. I did want that. What could I keep doing that would make me happy and provide something more to society. What did I want to provide? I was stumped here. I sat there and thought.
My list grew but I kept rejecting everything almost as I wrote it down. I did learn that brainstorming meant writing down absolutely everything that came to my head so I kept writing down. I was still writing down items when my kids came home. I had to stop. I knew that I was not done so I grabbed another piece of paper and tucked it in with my ideas. I had to keep writing.
Several days later, I was still writing down ideas in my minutes that I had to myself. I even volunteered to babysit some kids I found badly behaved in my babysitting coop because I wanted more time off. Their mom agreed to trade with me eagerly because no one liked babysitting her kids. They turned out to be well behaved because when they first came into the house, I told them the house rules.
I had learned this trick to babysitting from my mom when she had come to visit once and I had some of the kid’s friends over. They started not listening when they realized that the two adults were busy having a chat.
She stopped all the playing, sat them on the sofa and sternly told them the house rules in THIS house, right now and forever. The consequences of bad behaviour were included. I adopted this technique in my repertoire and it has worked ever since.
The time came for my children to go to her house. I took out my list and scanned it. None of the ideas of why I was doing art spoke to me. I did not know what to do. Did I need to stop doing art? My gut said no. Persevere! I started adding to my list. By the time the kids came home, I had decided.
In my art career, I had done portraits, still life, animals, landscape and designed logos. I liked it all up to a point. I could do portraits if I put my mind to it but I did not love it. The same was true of still life. I liked the arrangement of shapes to create a pleasing effect but again, up to a point. What I did really like was landscape.
There were all sorts of reasons not to pick landscape. Landscape was ‘out’ in the contemporary art world. Issues like abuse, poverty or politics were in. Again, I did not love ‘issues’. They just made me sad that the world was out of sorts. I loved texture, colour and light. I could find all of that in landscape. Landscape had enough variety to keep me interested. I could do different themes; trees, water, skies or even erosion.
Those were all the good reasons to say yes to landscape. What I needed to do now is decide how I wanted to treat the theme but that would have to wait for another long thinking moment in time. I felt happy. I had decided my purpose.
The kids came home and life started again. I wonder now what would have happened if I had not had that period of time to think about my work. Would I have gone on creating without a goal? This period of time changed my art life.
To come back to the beginning, take the time to think about your work. What do you really like doing. You have a limited amount of time, if you are a working parent and you need to use it wisely. I found out later that this moment of ‘aha’ is called flow. Wikepedia says:
Flow — the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task — is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the king of flow. He wrote several books on the topic and I strongly recommend them. Flow is what happens when you create and when you get those wonderful ideas. Look at these videos:
These videos will help you learn how to enhance your creative side and be even more productive.
Sharing your love of art can occur in different ways. You can talk about your artwork to others. Start with the people around you. Your family. When you start tasks, they suggest that you start with your toughest challenge first. This idea comes from a book called ‘Eat that frog -21 ways to stop procrastinating’. (https://www.amazon.ca/Eat-That-Frog-Great-Procrastinating/dp/1576754227)
If you do your hardest task first, the rest is a breeze. I find family and friends the hardest task because they do not see you as the dedicated artist you are. You are ‘the wife’, ‘the mom’, ‘the friend that helps them out in time of need’ , or ‘the go-to person for help’. An artist has many hats and the artist hat is often invisible to our closest and dearest. They need our other skills. However, teaching them to love art as you do is the first task you need to put on your list.
One way is to stop to look at art and ask them their opinion is one way. Stop and look at a public sculpture, for example, and ask questions like: Is that a good spot for that sculpture? Don’t ask what do you think of that sculpture because you will only get a pat answer like hate it or love it. Ask about a different way to look at the artwork. Is that the right material for that artwork? Is there a colour that would work better? Have them look at it differently.
Show your family and friends your artwork. Don’t say ‘What do you think?’. You will be disappointed. Ask questions like is the ‘peony’ or ‘pear’ in the right place? Or the right colour? If you paint landscape, ask about the texture of the tree. I am willing to bet that most of them have never looked at the texture of a tree before. The next time they see a tree, they will notice. Then they will compare it to the tree in your painting.
Starting to teach your audience to look is the best way of creating an audience. Teach them to see what you see. The average person rarely takes the time to see the beauty of clouds or the colour of a pear. Surprizingly, there is very little information about how to see. As artists, we naturally notice details and how different details are put together but not so for the average person, I discovered. This is a talent that is learned when we become interested in artist work. One photographer discusses how he goes about seeing what is around him in this article: http://www.creativesgo.com/art_of_seeing.html
Visual literacy is not valued in our everyday life. By literacy, I mean, looking at what is around us and really seeing it. One book: The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson, focuses on the psychology of the aesthetic experience and on the perception and understanding of art, suggesting ways to raise levels of visual literacy and enhance artistic enjoyment.
Both these authors insist that we need to teach people how to see and be more creative in order to have a better work force, one that can creatively solve problems because they are able to see multiple sides to a problem.
The greater the creative side in people, the better they solve problems. Wouldn’t that be wonderful in everyday life. People would not get upset or angry, they would just think ‘How do I solve this problem?’ and go about doing it. I must admit that the theory is wonderful and would love to see it at work.
Visual literacy teaches people to analyze problems and see, understand, think, create and communicate graphically. In order to do all, the student must always carefully observe. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_literacy) tells us that looking at films is a good way to increase visual literacy according to Martin Scorsese.
This involves exploring how ideas and emotions are expressed and the use of lighting to create an emotional or physiological point. He explains how there is a need for children to understand these concepts.
Visual literacy is a growing field. Being able to ‘read’ media, interpret it or even analyze it is growing as a skill. What are people saying when they use a certain kind of font when writing text in an advertisement or what they are saying with colour combinations is important. Without the visual literacy, we are being manipulated by what we see. This is all the more reason for you to start teaching others about art.
When people are able to see what is in front of them, they will better see your own artwork. Starting small, so to speak, with your own family and friends will create a link between all of you that will grow. Won’t it be fun when someone in your family starts actually seeing the sunset everyday and actually notices. Or, if they start looking at posters and say, ‘That could be done better.’ There is a whole world out there that you and only you can change.
I hope this article helps you. Writing about it helped me learn that I have slacked off doing the visual training in my own circle….. time to get at it.
I came across some points that are bound to help any artist. If you are just starting out or have been working at art a while, these are great points to ponder.
Focus on a special subject. Choose something that you can do for a long time. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything else. It means that you show your specialty but once in while, you work on a second subject. That topic is your ‘relaxing’ moment. You may or may not show later when you are more adept at it or have enough for a series. Again, the choice is yours. You can have it as a fun moment or a series that you are working towards in the future.
One artist I know solved her dual interests by showing her flowers in one city and her figures in a different city far from the first city. Overall, you do need to become an expert in one area. Make your speciality stronger by saying no to anything not in your line. An artist that did this well is Robert Bateman. He worked on animals with a mostly abstract background most of his career.
2. Step away when you are stumped, the answer will come. Go for a walk. All artists get blocked once in a while. Each artist needs to develop their own rituals that will help them break out of their slump. Many artists, including Claude Monet, Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Bateman choose nature as their way to relax when they are stumped. They spent and spend long periods of time outdoors. Other artists go dancing, go swimming or go to concerts. Find the element that helps you and go for it!
3. Be consistent in one element related to your topic or style. Let’s say that you work with the same three colors all the time but after a while, you are totally done with those colors. Don’t drop all three colors. Drop one and add ONE different one. Your audience will notice the change but the colors will still be typically yours. If you still want to change it up, get your audience used to your one new color then and only then change a second color. An artist that has done this well is Kandinsky. Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting one of the first recognized purely abstract works. For more information about him, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassily_Kandinsky
Adapt your subject when you tire of it. If you painted trees for years but now you need a change, look at something related to trees. Maybe you will do only foliage or the trunk of the tree with what is at its base as the seasons change. Make a gradual change towards something different. An artist that did this well is Mondrian. Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, after 1906 Piet Mondrian, was a Dutch painter and theoretician who is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He painted his abstractions with a few colours at first then gradually changed colours and linear elements.
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.
September Newsletter and invitation to my September show.
Time flies and a lot has happened since the last newsletter.
First, let me invite you to my show at the CAVA Gallery
on Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427
The opening night is the best time to visit the gallery. There are snacks and you can talk to the artists. It is a fun time.
I have spent a lot of time in my studio creating for the show coming up. The theme is skies. I love the abstract quality of the colours in the sky and that is what attracted me to this topic. The skies I saw in India last year started me looking at skies here in Alberta. I started seeing colours in the sky that I did not realize were there. One colour leaked into other colours until there was a blanket of multiple colours. I did get carried away with the variety and how they changed every second.
Looking at them, my first thought is that I have become traditional again. I usually like creating abstract work. However, if you focus on the skies, the abstract is there.
Every summer I try something different. This summer, I decided to build a sculpture/sign for the front of our house. My brother built me the form then I filled it with river/lake rock and cement. I put the step by step process on Facebook, if you want to know how it is done. People will now be able to find our house easily. None of the neighbours have a sign like this one. This was a fun project.
Shows: The above painting was accepted into ‘Painting on the Edge’ a show with the Federation of Canadian artists in Vancouver. Yahoo! Made me really happy.
A second exciting event happened. I got into the ‘Works on Paper show with the VAAA in Edmonton. This show will be in Edmonton and Calgary. Please check the VAAA web site for dates. Above is one of the three paintings in the show.
Summer has gone quickly and my studio time limited due to family events but I have taken some great photos that will see me through the winter. We will soon be travelling and I will tell you all about that in the next newsletter.
Up the hill. Graphite, watercolour and collage on paper. VAAA works on paper show.
Have a great day and come see me at my CAVA opening. Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427
I had to add this to my blog! It is about messiness and creativity. I am known to be messy and cannot seem to ever get a handle on ‘it’. So, this article seems to be made for me.
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” -Albert Einstein
Creative thinking is any kind of thinking outside of the lines of conventional reasoning. It’s a loosely defined term to say the very least. For me, if I cannot see the art materials or artwork, it does not exist….I need to see what is there and what my options are for that moment of creation.
Einstein, clearly a creative man, had no problem with a cluttered desk. He wasn’t alone either. Mark Twain attributed his imaginative characteristics to his cluttered work space. Steve Jobs, the massively successful inventor of numerous Apple products also had a messy desk. According to Vohs, it likely contributed to all of their geniuses.
But what does all that mean for you? Should you just trash your desk and house and call it good? Probably not. Messiness isn’t necessarily disorder. Simply let your things end up where they go.
I am repeatedly surprised at what I retain after a trip. I tend to sample the new foods and talk about them repeatedly to my friends. After a trip to Mexico, I came back with pure chocolate from Oaxaca and made hot chocolate for my friends and family when I got back. We were in the middle of winter and it was perfect then.
My long term memories have left with impressions of what I saw and then I go to the easel and paint away. For the last few years, I have painted scenes of the weather. I am far from being a traditional painter but my trips lead the way to landscapes. These are not your run-of-the-mill landscapes but impressions of my experience there.
The skies have been a big influence as has the weather. My journey to the Himalayas in August is doing the same thing to me. I am painting skies again. This is as much a surprise to me as the next person. I have a tendency to abstract and rarely paint landscapes (usually). I will have to figure this one out……Maybe, you can help?
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