Tuesday, December 30, 2014

That Elusive Bitch, Motivation...


...Can be hard to pin down.  

Especially when it's warm and cozy underneath the covers of my soft bed.  It's also cold and rainy and miserable outside.  Seems the deck is stacked against this day being productive.  At least, that's what I want to say and go back to bed.  

We both know that didn't happen.

I like to think that motivation and inspiration can overlap in certain cases, but it's still hard to grasp onto either.  Sometimes, it's like trying to grasp and hold onto water, only for it to slip through your fingers.  

Fickle beasties.  

That's why I've started keeping a tracker for my days.  As much as I hate organization in certain aspects, we all can agree that I certainly need a little more of that in my life.  Otherwise my attention span is torn to shreds by all of the different things I think about and could do.  That's probably why I have so many unfinished projects/ideas sitting around.  I have ADD.

Wait. 

It's more like my ADD has ADHD. 

Totally self-diagnosed, of course.  

I've started blocking out times during the day for different tasks, and if I happen to come across an idea or thought, I write it down instead and come back to it later.  I can already see my studio being inundated with sticky notes everywhere.

I've also started incorporating a little time each day for "practice time".  As much as I will probably hate it and not want to do it, I need to do it.  I won't improve my skills or gain new ones otherwise.  Plus, I want to put myself in a position where I have so many pieces, that I can curate my listings to only reflect my best work.  

When I was browsing the internet this morning looking for inspiration, I came across this quote by Pancho Segura that I thought was fitting:

"An hour of practice is worth five hours of foot-dragging."

Even though I'm sure he was referring to his love of tennis, I think this could be adapted for anyone because it's true in many cases.  

And sweet baby unicorns I so foot-drag.  It's ridiculous, really.  

I think that my New Years resolution is going to be somewhere along the lines of "be more focused".

Have you thought about yours?

In any case, have a fun and safe New Years!



OX

ANF



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Reflecting...

...On this crazy first year for my Shop today.



It's been a little bumpy, but ultimately amazing.  I've learned so much and I know that there is so much more I will learn in the coming years. 

When I started out, I made a business plan for myself, not knowing anything about running my own little online Art Shop.  It was definitely ambitious to say the least.  

I mean, I wrote down that my goal for the first 6 months of business, I wanted to sell 25 pieces.  At the 1 year mark the goal was 50.  

Wtf?

Although, I did achieve my goal of participating in 1 local art/craft festival. So that is a definite win.  

I sold 13 pieces this year.  I actually did the math three times because I didn't believe it.  

WOO!

I'm starting to think about my goals for the next year.  What do I want to do? Where to do I want to be, creatively?  It's a lot to process, but I firmly believe that if you don't set yourself up with periodic benchmarks to hit, you can't grow your business effectively, and I won't be able to grow creatively.  

Now that I have 1 year under my belt, I can take that information and create more realistic goals for 2015.  I'm super excited to find out what the new year holds and I've already got a few commissions lined up!

Guys, I even made my first shop supply order using shop funds instead of my own....I did a happy dance in my chair.

Seriously.

There was a lot of butt wiggling action going on here. 

Bottom line:

I'm so incredibly thankful for all of the support I have from family and friends and those that support small businesses like my own.  I'm fortunate to be able to do what I love in life and I hope I can spread the happiness one piece at a time. :)

Hope everyone has a great Holiday!!



XO

ANF



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The New Stuff...

I thought it would be fun to share my process with you as we build up to the launch day. 

No, I didn't wake up one day and have this big, bright light bulb above my head go off with the results of what I am currently producing.  

If that is how all successful ideas started, I would be chalk full of them and never ever sleep.  

I get plenty of sleep.  Probably too much according to some people in my life, but I resolve to stick to the story that I have a condition as told to me by a medical professional.  

Back to my story.  

So as I'm sure you are well aware, I started this whole gig creating these black and white illustrations on canvas.  If you didn't know, I started this whole gig creating these black and white illustrations on canvas. 

While I do enjoy the modern quality and stark contrasts my initial venture provided, I felt that I needed more.  

My shop needed more.   

I just wasn't sure what that more was.  If you are familiar with the art process, you know how unpredictable it can be.  If you don't, allow me to let you in on a little secret:  

Every idea that falls from an artists fingers is not always a masterpiece.  

You are either shocked by this revelation, or just rolled your eyes in exasperation, but stick with me. 

Perfectionism is a double edged sword in a lot of respects, and a common denominator in the artist equation.  While there are a few exceptions to the rule, even the simplest pieces you've gazed at took hours in the making.  (I did say there were a few exceptions)  It always starts with a glimmer of an idea and, usually, butt-loads of trial and error.

I toyed with the idea of adding color to some future black and white illustrations, but the results of my experiments were less than satisfactory, save for one.  

Plus I wanted some cheaper options for the craft fair that didn't bust the budge but were still one-of-a-kind artist originals. 

Enter the watercolor note cards that I previously featured.  That's where it started.  I wanted to create some quick one-off illustrations that were small and fun.  Then I thought maybe some bigger, less note card-ish pieces would be desirable as well if people liked my illustration style.  

Enter the "splash technique".  The first one I started, I was trying for a very watercolor kind of look that portrayed the fluid quality that watercolor possesses. 


The splatter effect was so fascinating to me, that I didn't want to lose that when I worked in the subject matter.  So my solution was to only work within the confines of the actual splatter created.  I enjoyed the whimsical, dreamy quality and wanted to try other subject matter to see if I could essentially recreate that effect. 

I enjoy the fact that every piece is different.  In the beginning I would just mix different colors in a random splatter on the watercolor paper.  Once dried I would create a subject matter depending on how the colors dried together.  It was exciting to take an act of chaos and turn it into composition.  

Basically, I loved the challenge.  Like playing on the hardest setting of a video game.  

There was still one little quirk that bothered me about the initial piece, though before it was done.  The perfectionist in me couldn't let it go.

With the note cards, it was just simple designs with an illustration, watercolor tints, and then a black micron pen to define the detail a little.

With creating the entire page in background colors first and working on the composition and subject matter later, I found that the colors ended up a bit more muted.  The color theorist side of my brain was like,

"Oh, you dumbass, its because the watercolor is opaque and mixes with the background colors."

The colors weren't as vibrant either unless I used less water.  The answer to my problem was sitting in front of me.  Why couldn't I use Copic Markers to add a little vibrancy and definition to the composition after the initial shading was completed in watercolor washes?

I guess my pieces would be considered more "mixed media" than just simple watercolors now.  I've also incorporated a little white charcoal pencil for certain highlights.  Once I added the marker definition, the difference was drastic.  My pieces looked more.  

And you know I was searching for that something more all along.  See for yourself:

Initial Background Splash and Watercolor wash for shading




That's it.  The whole shebang.   

My start was small and tentative with color incorporation.  Now I feel like the thing has morphed and gained a life of its own.  And hey, I'm working gradually into larger pieces which is cool.  Cuz, ya know, who doesn't want to challenge themselves to move past their own limitations? 

Only then can you truly grow.  

Man.  That shit should be on a fortune cookie....



XO 

ANF




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Time Flies...


...When you're pretty damn busy, amirite?

At least it is for me.


The last few weeks have been nuts.  I completed my first craft show, worked on some commissions, had a belated thanksgiving with family out of state and now I'm working towards getting ready for a week long vacation with the Hubs.

First world problems, guys, I know.

Let's be honest, though, I've never been very good at organization and time management.

For realssss.

The craft fair sort of put that in perspective a little bit for me.  It seems that I like to take the extreme of "being prepared" on things.  

"I don't have enough things to sell"

"I don't have the right table for a proper display"

"I don't know how a freakin' display is supposed to work, do you?"

"The booth fee is too expensive"

Those excuses and more would fall from my lips without preamble.  

NEWS FLASH

No one's ready for that shit.  You get out there, you sell things, and you learn from experience.  If you don't start, you won't have any experience. 

No experience, no learn.  

Simple. 

Don't let the fear talk you out of things.  Apparently that was what I was doing to myself.  With a little nudge big shove from Mike, I put myself out there.  I set a deadline for myself and created goals for some new ideas and you know what?  It was totally worth it.  I moved into a different medium and my experiments turned into commissions and a new line of pieces for my shop. 

I'm proud of myself and of my work.  

I'm working on the new listings for the shop currently.  Mike and I are doing a week vacation in the Caribbean next week, so hopefully I will have them completed and ready to go live upon our return Christmas week. 

Also, building a light box is super helpful for product photos.  Pinterest has several DIY tutorials for building your own, and I would recommend it to anyone who sells their crafts/art online.  Although I need to change the bulbs on the lamps I purchased.  Incidentally, they produce a yellowish glow that isn't exactly a desirable quality in a product photo.  

Once the new line is up and running in the shop, I will post an announcement, so stay tuned friends!



XO

ANF