Object Dar't

October 27, 2011

The Business of Art: Don't work harder, work smarter!

The "goods" - a variety of gift items

I've always had a little saying. "The point is to work smarter, not harder." I'm not afraid of hard work, in fact I think I have a damn good work ethic. But the point of my little adage is to remind myself to analyze the things I do to ensure that I see the maximum return on my investment of "time".
Traveling advertising!

So for instance, this past week I have been preparing inventory for 3 consecutive events that I have coming up. November and December are typically "gift buying" times and NOT "fine art buying" times. So if I'm to stay in the financial gains arena AND remain high profile, I've had to diversify by adapting my work into gifts. According to Wealthy Mind, I instinctively went with the trend of selling. Since these events are all within a week of each other, I know I won't have time to replenish the inventory which I'm to sell. Which means I've spent the last week kicking out a variety of small, time consuming products.
DARing Reflections - mirrors with my favorite quotes!

And you can't imagine how terribly this goes against my grain! Because this IS in fact working harder, not  smarter. There's a great quote book in the book You2  by Price Pritchett that illustrates the trap I'm in :

"I’m sitting in a quiet room at the Millcroft Inn, a peaceful little place hidden back among the pine trees about an hour out of Toronto.  It’s just past noon, late July, and I’m listening to the desperate sounds of a life-or-death struggle going on a few feet away. There’s a small fly burning out the last of its short life’s energies in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane.The whining wings tell the poignant story of the fly’s strategy—try harder. But it’s not working.

The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival.  Ironically, the struggle is part of the trap.  It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed at breaking through the glass.  Nevertheless, this little insect has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and determination. This fly is doomed.  It will die there on the window sill.

Across the room, ten steps away, the door is open.  Ten seconds of flying time and this small creature could reach the outside world it seeks.  With only a fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this self-imposed trap.  The breakthrough possibility is there.  It would be so easy. Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular route, and determined effort, offer the most promise for success?  What logic is there in continuing, until death, to seek a breakthrough with “more of the same”?

No doubt this approach makes sense to the fly.  Regrettably, it’s an idea that will kill.
“Trying harder” isn’t necessarily the solution to achieving more. It may not offer any real promise for getting what you want out of life.  Sometimes, in fact, it’s a big part of the problem. If you stake your hopes for a breakthrough on trying harder than ever, you may kill your chances for success."
Calendars - not terribly creative but a consumer FAV

And so with my product line, I have been getting hands-on manufacturing experience which is great experience for me in product development, all the while giving great thought to how I can solve the problem of achieving my goal (to have a product line in conjunction with my fine art) more efficiently. Unlike the fly - I don't enjoy banging my head against the glass over and over. So I have identified that SHOULD MY PRODUCT SALES BE HEALTHY this season (ya gotta do your market research) then the next step to avoid the trap: I'll have to outsource this function! Either I'll have to hire someone or look for a manufacturer. Because simply put, if I'm busy making products, I'm NOT busy making new art. If that continues then my business will soon run out of steam. My images ARE my business. So when I'm over this hump, I will be aggressively looking for that open door; ways to outsource my products so that I can get back to work and take my business to the next level.
A new spin on Family Photos

Try to apply this strategy in the things you do. It doesn't matter if it's related specifically to "business". It works on all levels and I find myself applying it to silly things like raking the yard and even grocery shopping. Because in the end - TIME IS MONEY! Resource Nation has a great list on Working Smarter. Give it a read.
I'm hoping these will be popular!

October 24, 2011

Billboards Along the Road of Life..

Life has an odd way of validating that you are on the right road. I think I've learned through my experience of evolving into an artist (and through HINDSIGHT!) that there is soooo much to the adage, "Go with the flow." The validations are part of that flow and seem like billboards telling you along the way, "yes, you were meant to be doing this. Now keep moving!"

I wish I'd understood this much sooner in my life. It probably would have saved me a lot of headaches. I remember when I was first starting up my own web design company back in the 90's. What a struggle. Which don't get me wrong - that's life. But in looking back, I recall now that there were no validations along the way. It was just endless struggle with little or no progress. I probably should have given up much sooner but I'm hard headed like that. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have done it at all. Because I understand now that no matter how hard you try or bust your bottom working for something - if it wasn't meant to be then it just won't happen. It's funny to me really of how many times life was trying to teach me this. I tried 3 times to become a nurse! LOL I'm not a nurse. I was never meant to be a nurse. And yet I wasted so much of my time, effort and life trying to force it. *shaking my head* 

The good news is that I "get it" now. Once I let go and just went with the flow, I wound up  here. Which is a very happy and satisfying place to be. And while there have been MANY validations in a short period of time, the most recent was jaw dropping. I received a letter from State Representative, Kimberly Ferguson which simply complimented me on my work and congratulated me on my success. It arrived in a very official looking envelope on State letterhead and she even laminated the article that ran on me in the Landmark. I'll be honest - I spent DAYS trying to figure that one out. Then I just accepted it for what it was - a beautiful billboard telling me that I'm on the right road and to keep on going. And so I shall!

A huge THANK YOU to Kimberly Ferguson for her kindness and the part she has played in being a billboard for me.

October 22, 2011

My Upcoming Exhibits

Below is my upcoming exhibit schedule through 2011. I hope to see you there!
Petersham Cultural Council 
Annual Art Show & Sale
November 4-6, 2011

Artists’ Opening Reception on
Friday, November 4th
7 to 9 pm
with wine and hors d’oeuvres
and music by
classical guitarist, Steve Rapson.

Art Ride Wachusett
Open Studio 
17 Thurston Hill Road

Rutland, MA 01543

Saturday, November 19, 2011 9am-5pm
Sunday, November 20, 2011 11am-4pm

Take the Ride! Have your 2011 Art Ride Passport (download here) stamped at each studio and be entered to win a basket LOADED with art from each artist!

 Holly Days
Friday November 25 from 1:00-7:00
Saturday November 26 from 9:00-6:00
Sunday November 27 from 9:00-1:00At The Princeton Center
18 Boylston Avenue
Princeton, MA
Holly Days 2011 is a fantastic and unique shopping experience with over 110 amazing artisans whose work will be available to purchase at this three day event. All my artwork and product-line will be available for purchase at Holly Days!
For more information, visit Holly Days website or view the Holly Days Facebook page.

October 20, 2011

UPDATE: Wild Ruby

© Wild Ruby Galleria, 2011

I'm happy to announce that Wild Ruby Galleria will be carrying my paintings and products! Wild Ruby is located at 969 Concord St (Rt 126) in Framingham, MA 01701 and it's totally my kind of store. 

The items are AMAZING! I'm honored to be a part

The moment you walk in, all the colors of the rainbow smack you in the face. Susan St. Laurent is the proprietor with GREAT taste and an artist herself. Look above the door and you will see her bright, beautiful paintings.

© Wild Ruby Galleria, 2011

I am working on my product line as we speak - making clocks, magnets, mini-prints and matted Limited Edition prints. I hope to be fully set up in the shop by November 1st - just in time for the holiday gift-giving season! Consider taking a trip to this wonderful shop and support the talented artisans she carries. Remember: buying local is investing in yourself - it keeps money circulating in YOUR local economy ensuring you have a job.  

I'm exploring transforming mats from drab white

October 19, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #10

10. Interface with Computer
automatic synchronization
This is really a no-brainer. You will have nothing but problems if you are functioning with incorrect or outdated information. If you lost your phone and everything was on it - you'd be (excuse my language here) SCREWED. And vice versa if your PC or MAC were wiped out. Backing up data nowadays is a must. And yet so few people do it - especially artists. Again, so many of the artists I meet are technologically illiterate. Not good. But something like an iPhone can facilitate the function of "backing up" effortlessly - removing the mental obstacle of not knowing what to do. Because it does it automatically when you plug your phone into your computer. And again, if you were to send out a communication from your phone - it should be going to the same people and contain the same information if you were to send it from your computer. Right? Well the automatic syncing ensure that this will always be the case. And if one of your pieces of equipment were to be wiped out - guess what? YOU HAVE BACKUP and can still function!

So I hope this series has been informative. I hope you understand now why I consider this silly little phone to be my "Atlas", carrying the weight of my world upon its shoulders. I couldn't live or function effectively without it. And I'm continually amazed at the new solutions this little piece of technology provides for my business and my life. Try to be open minded. Try to embrace an unknown - a technological challenge - like my friend Kathy Hebert. We recently met at the Mountainside Market and in our conversation, I told her about the benefits of this little device. I was so proud of her because not only did she embrace what the iPhone could do for her - she ran to it. She immediately went home and purchased one. Got herself set up with the credit card processor and the phone and away she went. I'm hoping she'll report back to me soon to let me know in what ways the iPhone has changed her life and business. Let's see ;)

October 18, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #9

9. Social Media on the Go

 It frustrates me how many artists are NOT computer savvy. Social Media is in my opinion the single most important business tool EVER. Yes i said EVER. It has in fact built my current career. A little over a year ago, I was just a SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mom) who was losing her mind in sea of domesticity. Facebook gave me the mental stimulation I needed and social connection I wasn't getting thanks to small children and nap times. I started doodling/painting and one day had the absolute balls to post it on my Facebook page. It snowballed from there. If you read all my Facebook posts for the past year and a half, you'd see the evolution which is nothing short of miraculous. What has taken other artists decades to do, it has taken me in less than 2 years! I don't credit this to myself because while I do believe my artwork is good - so isn't the work of a gazillion other artists!! The only difference between them and me is that I already had a working relationship with Facebook and it catapulted what I was doing across the masses. And in all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing at the time. It's only in hindsight that I can see what literally unfolded.

But once you start using social media, you can't stop. I'm not referring to the addictive qualities of Facebook and Twitter - I'm talking about the marketing aspect of the social applications. You must constantly post to keep yourself high profile. Which is where the iPhone app comes in! As previously stated, I don't have time to sit down at a PC and devote an hour or two to posting and marketing myself. The iPhone notifies me when something has been said and no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am able to respond. I take photos of events that I am at and post those photos with the happenings. I photograph my paintings in process and post those. I carry on conversations with my friends who are also potential customers. I mean the list is endless. And I can do it all while grocery shopping, taking the kids to the Doctor or while working an event. INVALUABLE! But don't take my word for it - there are a ton of sites out there that outline the business benefits of Social Media. PR Agency wrote a great outline. So did Site Pro News. Go read and find out more reasons why you can't afford NOT to Facebook or Tweet.

October 17, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #8

8. It's a Camera Too - and a GOOD one

A point-n-shoot with GREAT photos
 Again, don't think in linear fashion here. If you do, you won't really see the need for a camera on your phone. But again, this has really become invaluable to me. I don't have time to go out and photograph the places I want to paint. I just don't have that kind of time. My iPhone camera ensures that I don't miss inspiration when it hits. In my travels (and without fail) I pass through some beautiful spot and whip out my handy dandy phone to capture the moment. Almost every single painting I have done has been of a shot I took with my phone. I don't bother to go print them out full size - I have a docking station in my studio and use the tiny little photos as guidelines for my sketches. It makes my life sooooooooooooo much easier. And like i said - now that I have this - I don't miss a trick. And I don't have to "find the time" to go photograph the places that inspire me. When I get enough of them, I simply sync the phone to my PC and all my photos are downloaded to a folder which I access anytime I want. I've painted some scenes from my phone 6-8 months AFTER I took the photo! And the quality is nothing short of spectacular so if you are thinking it's just a dinky little camera - don't fool yourself. Apple gives a breakdown of the powerhouse contained in this nano-camera! In short, get rid of your point & shoot - you don't need it. You've got this.

October 15, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #7

 7. Mobile Banking & Remote Deposit
 Boy are you going to LOVE putting the frustrations of the OLD way of doing banking behind you. I don't sit in line at the bank anymore and I don't have to deal with making deposits when I receive checks from customers. I can check my balance, make transfers, receive all my credit card payments from customers and do all my manual deposits right from my phone in the comfort of my own home (or anywhere other than the bank!) 

Not all banks offer mobile deposits yet but it's coming. PC World ran an article back in 2009 talking about the mobile deposits. USA Today followed up this year. Read the articles and see how and why these things are going to change your life. The best part of mobile banking in my opinion is the ability to make check deposits using my iPhone camera. Take a photo of the front and back, upload to the app and VOILA! Life is beautiful isn't it? :D

October 14, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #6

6. It's a Traveling Billboard
My iPhone Skin

iPhone has a a ton of cottage industries built around it. One of the largest industries are the "Skins." People not only LOVE but need to have their phones look unique so they don't accidentally grab the wrong phone and in the event it is misplaced - well they know what to look for ;) As an artist, it's folly to NOT put your artwork on the outside of your iPhone. I have been asked continually where I got my iPhone cover. What a beautiful lead in for a potential sale! The response is of course, "I'm an artist. It's one of my paintings." And again, a conversation ensues. They find out about me as an artist, I show them my portfolio which is on my phone and I direct them to my website if they'd like to buy one OR I ask them if they'd like order one from me. Again - I couldn't buy that kind of direct marketing anywhere.  

October 13, 2011

A Letter from the Commonwealth

Official letters always look intimidating; not this one!
There is no denying the fact that when you are serving others (my goal is spreading happiness) freely and without expectation and you LOVE doing it - wondrous things happen. Mountains move, the heavens quake and lightening strikes. My life has been the perfect illustration of this universal law. And each time I've practiced my life from this perspective, I've seen epic growth as a person and movement in my life that is nothing short of astounding. Outward signs have always arrived like giant billboards which seem to say, "Yes! That's right!" Today was another of those days.

There was a gigantic official looking envelope in the mail today. I admit I had a moment of confusion. I wasn't expecting anything official. So imagine my surprise when I read the letter inside and realized it was simply an expression of thanks. State Representative Kim Ferguson was moved by my work and sent me a lovely letter telling me as much and wishing me continued success. Thank you, Ms. Ferguson! It was both humbling and validating to know that the work I do really reaches people. So much so that a busy person such as yourself would take time out to just simply send a letter of gratitude and support. I love that I was a bright spot for someone all the way up on Capital Hill! I hope I can continue and show a small thanks for all you do.


SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #45

5. Email from ANYWHERE
iPhone comes equipped with email app

Every time I mention this to people, they give me an excuse. I don't have time, blah blah. Listen, that is EXACTLY why this is important! None of us has extra time. LITERALLY. I don't have time to sit down at my PC for an hour and go through the glut of emails I received that day. The beauty of remote email means that throughout your day, you receive notification that you have an email. You read it, respond quickly and send it off - all while doing your grocery shopping or pumping gas or whatever. So while it may SOUND like remote email is just another thing you have to do - it's not. It's managing a major task in tiny increments throughout your day while doing the things life requires. You can't sit at your PC AND pump gas or do your grocery shopping. So who are you kidding? (hint: only yourself) Heck - you could even send out your newsletter from here while you were sitting in the school parking lot picking up your kids from after-school sports. 

October 12, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #4

4. It's More than just an Address book

Contacts can be shared with your PC or MAC
 One thing I keep hearing over and over is that effective and successful Artists cultivate their contact lists. That relationships with collectors is a MUST and that this is in large part accomplished through regular, consistent communication with folks on their mailing list. I have to admit that this is the last piece of my puzzle. I have not as yet started my newsletter. My plate is more than overflowing and I use Facebook as my means of communication for the moment. But I have a deadline for myself to get my "mailing list act" together. In preparation for this, I have been using my Address Book to capture email addresses of customers, their snail-mailing addresses, contact numbers AND personal information that I garner through conversation. All this information is vital in keeping my customers straight in my head because frankly - I have A.D.D. I'm lucky I find my way home at night never mind remember everyone I meet! My address books serves as a refresher.

In looking forward at the tasks I will need to accomplish, my Address Book is the foundation. The Address Book syncs with my computer so my phone and my PC communicate with each other and update address and information in BOTH places! That's critical in ensuring that communications are sent to all the same people whether I communicate from my phone or do it from my PC. Your Apple Place has a great tutorial on how to sync your contacts with your PC. It literally couldn't be any easier :) 

October 11, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #3

3. It Keeps You Uber-Organized

The iPhone Calendar
 This is a beautiful thing to behold for a scatter-brained artist. I note every appointment on my Calendar as expected but there's an added benefit to my Calendar use. I use it to structure my days and weeks with regard to my "work" schedule. Part of being a successful artist, is viewing what you do as a job. So each day is broken down for me into routine (with little alarms!) which tell me what I should be working on throughout my day.

A perfect example is today! Tuesday is an editorial day for my blog. I have committed to carving out the time on Tuesdays to post to my blog which is very much a marketing tool. My Calendar reminded me this morning so I can't forget or overlook it. Each calendar entry also has a note field where you can put in extra information regarding the event. For Hey Day, I put in all the details I was provided by the PAS as to set up, when, where, who to see, etc.

This has also proven invaluable because several times I've had appointments out of town where I didn't know where I was going and got lost. The address was there along with materials I needed to bring and the persons phone number. So a quick call to let them know I was a bit lost got me navigated in and ensured that my appointment was not a lost cause. Although the stock Calendar works wonderfully for me, there are other Calendars available through iTunes as apps. iPhoneness offers a breakdown and overview of some.

On Sundays, I give myself an overview of what my week looks like and since my phone is always with me - when I book appointments, I can see in an instant if I'm available. In a nutshell, it's a little DIY secretary. 

October 10, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #2

2. It's a Credit Card Machine!
There are a host of plug-in processors!

This is HUGE for the emerging artist! I mean HUGE! Do you hear me? HUGE, HUGE, HUGE! I can't count how many times over the past year that I've heard artists complain about lost sales at craft fairs, etc due to customers not carrying enough cash. The difference this makes is absolutely and unequivocally indisputable. The proof for me was my recent gig - a little tiny art function in Princeton called Hey Day. The entire event saw only 600 people - a fraction of which entered the barn to view the artwork. And yet I netted sales in 5 hours that surpassed my show which was up for 2 entire months!!!

The person signs with their fingertip!
 According to Merchant Juice, there are actually 38 Credit Card apps for the iPhone! There's no shortage of solutions here and it's got the traditional Credit Card merchants on the run.

Credit card processors for the phone are low-cost (or not cost) and so easy to use that even a monkey could do it. Receipts are sent by email (PERFECT for capturing folks for your mailing list) to both buyer and seller. Deposits are made directly to your bank account generally within 48 hours. Weekend sales will see a slight delay - usually posting on Tuesday. If you are an artist who is tired of starving, then you need to step it up and take your business seriously. You ARE a business and as such you need to have the ability to accept all forms of payment - not just cash. In addition, the professionalism factor here is epic. Customers considering your work (especially collectors) are looking at you with a critical eye. The more professional you appear, the more confidence the customer has in your abilities which translates into you being a more viable investment for them than the hobby artist at the next table! So what are you waiting for? Get your butt in gear - go get one of the merchant accounts and watch your sale increase exponentially!

October 9, 2011

SERIES: 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool #1

 It's funny - I didn't know a silly little thing like a smartphone would evolve into a vital piece of equipment for my business as an artist. I was always of the mindset that cell phones were pretentious and that people who owned them were horrifically obnoxious (talking on their phone in their car instead of driving or answering calls while speaking with me). And I only succumbed to having a cell phone because as my children got older, they stopped going everywhere with me and I needed a way to reach them. The joke is on me because truth be told - my business would not have survived never mind flourish without my iPhone. The uses and benefits are innumerable so I've decided to run a series of the Top 10 Reasons Why an iPhone is an Invaluable Business Tool for Artists.

1. It's a Traveling Portfolio
The camera stores images in a photo album

Bar none, this has been the most surprising benefit to me. Inevitably, wherever I go, someone mentions that I'm an artist. Which is ALWAYS followed by, "Oh really? What kind of art?" Now you know darn well that simply telling someone that you paint watercolors is not going to give them an accurate understanding of exactly what you do. My iPhone evolved into a solution to that problem. I had been taking photos of my work to share online and remembered that they were still on my phone. So I took it out and said, "This is what I paint." As the person scrolled through my portfolio, a great conversation ensued after which point, I directed them to my website and Facebook page.
quickly peruse your images to show

Seriously - I couldn't have bought that kind of direct marketing even if I'd wanted to. It was so effective that now my entire portfolio travels around with me wherever I go and I've used it innumerable times! See a demonstration here of what the photo album looks like.

October 2, 2011

5 MUST DO's for Artistic Success: little Hey Day as illustration (blogtoberfest 1)

Forrest Gump's Mom was right! Life really IS like a box of chocolates; you just never know what you're going to get. I could never have predicted that Hey Day, a little farm event held at the Mass Auduban's Wachusett Meadow in little inky, dinky Princeton, Mass would be such an AMAZING experience. Truth be told, life has continually defied logic since my entrance into the world of art. There are literally some days that I think I couldn't have written fiction stranger than reality! lol When I woke up and saw the cloudy skies, I was sure there would be virtually no foot traffic - we've all been told that selling is a numbers game. The more people that walk by your wares, the higher the chance you have of selling. Hey Day 2011 was proof-positive that THAT rule is a bunch of hooey.  In actuality, I made some earth-shattering connections which could potentially catapult my career, I sold my first original which was aggressively priced (definitely not a bargain piece from an emerging artist) and I had an epic day of sales. In fact, that one day netted me more than my two-month solo show. To say I was shell-shocked would be an understatement. How could 5 hours possibly out-perform two months?!?! And the whole drive home, I tried to wrap my brain around the reality. Why did it work out this way? How did that happen? What was fate and what part was action on my part? As a result, I began to think about the whole experience to break down the answers to these questions (so that I can do it AGAIN!) So for those of you who are waiting for their "Hey Day", here is the breakdown:

1. Preparation

All set up in the morning with a little help from Mini-Me!
 In spite of my fears, I forged ahead as if it would be the MOST successful event ever. And herein lies the awesome power of positive thinking. According to Henry Hartman, success happens when preparation meets opportunity. I'll be damned if I'm ever going to meet opportunity without being prepared. So I arrived early to clean off my table, set up the table display of prints and my work and got my iPhone all set to accept credit cards

The barn converted into a beautiful art gallery!

 2. Determination

And here's what I love about New Englanders; they just aren't going to let any crazy weather (short of a blizzard) keep them indoors. This is in large part because if they DID, they'd almost never get out. LOL People simply came out equipped with umbrella's, rain coats and their Wellies (including me!) . This is a great illustration of DETERMINATION because in short, nothing outside of yourself can really stop you - unless you let it.

3. Customer Service

Helping customers with prints

Putting down my first layers of color
While there were tons of activities (and Fall food galore), people came in from the fun to see all the artwork. Which again was a big surprise for me because generally when I go to fairs or events with my kids, I don't have the luxury of perusing things that interest me. And yet, these people did. It was my job to help them, make them HAPPY while they were with me, be interested in them and at the same time do a little bit of soft, market research. Taking time to find out from customers what they like because I intend on doing more of that. After all - my whole mission in my work is to spread happiness and there is no work without happy customers!

4. Professionalism 

Part of being an exhibitor at Hey Day, came with the responsibility of demonstrating. I had my studio set up and was working on my latest painting Brookfield Orchards. While the initial thought of painting in front of others seemed a bit corny, it actually turned out to be such a GREAT thing to do as an artist. It drew people in mentally! There were lots of questions about how I start a painting and the process that I go through. Which is not something I typically think of others being interested in but in reality - THEY ARE! And frankly, I connected with people as a result.

Engaging with customers!
5. Passion
I attribute this "MUST DO" as probably the singularly most important element on this list. If you are passionate about what you do, it shows. I remember my husband remarking once that something I cooked lacked my love and that it tasted like it. And it was true! It just didn't taste as good yet it was the same standard recipe I'd made 100 times before. Anything done or made with love, comes out so much better. And although most folks can't verbalize that, human beings have accute instincts. They sense when something is forced or trite or coming from a place of insincerity. And they roll right by it! So if you aren't doing what you absolutely love, you just shouldn't be doing it. There is no way for you to SUCCEED at what you don't love. You may eek by but you won't excel. So on this list, I'm referencing passion on a grand scale; think big picture. Passion ignites others on all levels. Passion inspires others; it inspires your customers, it inspires others to see you (seriously - you don't think you get there all by yourself do you?) succeed and it causes word to spread about you and what you do. Be passionate about what your art does or says to other human beings. Be passionate about helping others with no regard for what they will or can do for you. The universe takes care of all that so long as your intentions are pure and you come from a place of goodness.  

While I know everyone has heard about these things previously, I have to say I've met a LOT of fellow artists who just have no inherent sense in these matters. While there IS an element of luck (such as whether one of your customers is a gallery owner or not), most artists seem to just be waiting for some lucky break without sticking their necks out at all. Which is natural BUT the laws of life dictate that if you put nothing in, you get nothing out. Showing up just isn't enough!

Other Hey Day photos:

I'm a calendar girl!
The 2012 Massachusetts Audoban/Wachusett Meadow Calendar was sold at Hey Day. I'm "Miss June" ;)

The original works of art for the Calendar were displayed in all their glory. It's amazing how many talented artists there are out here in the country. Proof that genius doesn't just exist in the city!

September 30, 2011

Does a good artist have to be crazy?

It's with both sadness and relief that I say my latest painting is finished. I've been doing this long enough now that I recognize the pattern; that the creative process is very much like giving birth. First comes the idea or inspiration, then the gestational period which THANKFULLY is not 9 months long but the feeling is very much the same. During the initial design and sketching stage, I experience bouts of excitement, anticipation and soooo much "thinking" about what it will look like when it's done. I even catch myself fretting at times about whether I'll do this right and I most certainly feel swollen and expectant with this "thing" which will come from me.
Gestation: the sketching phase

Once painting begins, it's full blown labor. I don't know why but the process is joyful, consuming, a struggle and sometimes horrifically uncomfortable emotionally. And when this thing is done, I let out a huge sigh of relief because at last, it is behind me.

Which is when the roughest patch hits; postpartum depression! LOL Every single time that I have finished a painting, I have experienced a small postpartum let down. A feeling of "now what?" My mind and soul are exhausted and still with a bout of emptiness - which I don't enjoy! It's as if I emptied my cup and there it sits on the table just waiting to be filled again. In the early days, my solution for this was to go on the hunt. To fill my eyes and mind with as much stimulation as possible so that I connected enough things to form an inspiration. But I look back now and see that my paintings lacked meaning and content because they were forced. In the past few months, I've been working hard to just BE empty for a time. Because truthfully, the whole experience of being an artist and creating is consuming.

I recently saw Lust for Life, the movie of Vincent Van Gogh and I have to tell you that I really became worried. Creating art is an obsession and it leads the mind and heart into uncharted territory where there are no inherent checks and balances. The reality is that I could sit in my studio for 90 days straight without eating or drinking or seeing another human being. And many of the great artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, have brought themselves to the point of madness as a result of that consumption.

There are scads of sites out there dedicated to the Creative Madness complex. It has for centuries been the accepted notion that creativity and madness do in fact go hand-in-hand. "Deviant behavior, whether in the form of eccentricity or worse, is not only associated with persons of genius or high-level creativity, but it is frequently expected of them." (Rothenberg, 1990, p.149) I've worked hard in my life to overcome my A.D.H.D. and other weaknesses. So seeing the movie gave me great pause and served as a reminder that I should be vigilant about remaining healthy.
Thankfully, my life have been built in such a way that there are some checks and balances outside of myself - my children and friends who by default provide the "must do's" that take me away from the studio and force me to live - not just create. But most importantly, from my concern came the strategy of using that empty time to my benefit after a painting was finished. It is a natural void that provides me with down time away from being creative and I now use it to my benefit to emerge from creating. It's a time to come back to being centered and balanced again and it's a MUST DO. But it really poses a question to me: if I ignored those checks and balances, would I become a better artist? And if I make a commitment to staying mentally healthy, does this mean that I am holding back my artistic abilities? I wonder. But I won't wonder too long because truthfully, there's no way I'd sacrifice my life and happiness simply to be a great artist. Great artists seem to have sad, tortured stories and who wants to wind up as a made-for-TV movie? ;)  

September 24, 2011

The Unseen Side of Creativity

There are some days that I wonder how it is that you can be 40-whatever-years-old and still be learning major life lessons. Somewhere in my brain, I imagined that by this age, experience would have taught me well enough that I would have figured life out for the most part. Ironic that it would continually prove me wrong. :)

One of my first "steps" with not much being said.

I've only been painting for a year and a half now. In the very beginning, I painted BADLY. Most of my friends thought I suffered from low self-esteem but in reality, it was simple honesty. I just knew that I was in my infancy and was sure I could do so much better. The same way a toddler instinctively knows that they don't walk well but are compelled to keep doing it until they can run. But to be quite honest, I saw the task of painting well at only its face value: painting well. But there's been SOOOOO much more to it which frankly at my age - shocks me. The process of becoming an artist - someone who receives inspiration and then sets about to express that inspiration - has in fact pervaded almost every area of my life and personality.

More sure-footed with a single feeling expressed

In the beginning, I stupidly thought that I just "liked" drawing or painting the things that sprang from me. I had a few paintings which got the worry out of my brain but after that, it seemed that the inspiration was the liking part and I was simply putting that down on paper through line and color. The end result of creating something happy and loving was just a surprising perk. I have always believed that the happiness in my work was nothing more than a demonstration of my disposition; happy, optimistic and colorful. It has been through my last 3 paintings that I've had this NAGGING suspicion that something else was really going on. This last painting revealed to me that not only has something been going on, but it's profound.

The evolution I've gone through in becoming an artist has honed something. It is undefined, unseen and epicly exciting. I liken it to Sir Isaac Newton and his wacky gravity. The creative process is very much like that invisible force. It can't be described with words or even succinct thoughts - it can only be felt and experienced. And it's only through the experience of having an apple fall on your head that you come to "get it" on a visceral level. Which is great - I'm all for epiphanies. we've all had them before and will probably have them again. But once you have that epiphany, something strange happens without you even realizing it. On an instinctual or primordal level, you begin to play and practice with this invisible thing. You don't have a clue what you are doing. You don't know what it is, how it works and some days even though you question your own sanity about it - you definitely know you are doing something. And strangest of all, is that whatever you are doing - it completely circumvents your rational thinking mind. You are engaging in an exchange with something you can't see, touch or even name. I know it's wacko and no I didn't not just smoke crack. It's the truth. It is as real as gravity and engaging with it changes your life because suddenly the world is no longer flat. You know that if you sail your ship to the edge of the globe - you will not fall off as you once thought but instead will wind up somewhere new/exciting/fantastic. Suddenly all things are possible, which is a crazy, scary, exciting place to be!
There is whole "voice" here that is dialoguing!

And so, I'd like to encourage you to create. I can think of no greater acheivement in life than to open yourself up to the infinite possibilities that come from the creative process. Creativity is accessible to everyone and applicable to every human on the planet in the same way gravity applies to us all. It's there and it's working in your life in small ways but the true benefit comes from opening your life to it in big ways. It's simply a matter of being willing and committed to show up to "create" and allowing yourself to make complete garbage. Just remember the toddler learning to walk. :)

September 10, 2011

September 2nd "Name that Work" Contest Results!

©Denyse Dar, Serenity in Blue, 2011. 11x14 watercolor on 140lb Arches

WE HAVE A WINNER for the latest "NAME THAT WORK" contest. Thank you to everyone who participated!!! Your enthusiasm to participate in the creative process, makes what I do truly rewarding. I really get a kick out of the fact that my work makes others think and feel something good. There is no better purpose in life than "adding to others" so thank you all for adding back to me. I mean that sincerely. 

This particular painting sprang from my longing during a very busy summer to have a moment of calm. It is also representative of a goal I have; I intend to one day have a home on Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, where I can wake up early some dewy summer morning and steal a forbidden cup of coffee on the porch looking out at the ocean while my babies slumber. 

I used what is known as a analogous color palette restricting my choices to greens and blues. This task was a challenge for me because my natural instinct is to run like a maniac with a full rainbow of colors. In addition, I used a very tense composition (laid out in an X formation) which was in direct conflict with the subject which was intended to be peaceful. To compound my frustration, I was judicious in using my "doodle" elements (the curly cues etc) and instead used my paint to create form on the beach areas. That was really hard for me because my approach to my paintings is always what I call "a coloring book approach." I sketch, outline and then use the outline to lock in my forms. This painting felt very much like walking a tightrope and you can't imagine my relief when it was completed!

I just want to say that the submissions on this painting were incredible. I would have been pleased with every single one! I was sad that only one could be chosen. Here are the submissions I received through the fan page:

Janet Sarro-Gonzalez Drift Away
Lisa Mendez Boutotte Afternoon Shower
Robert Wohlrab Living on the Edge
Michael Boulay Peaceful Retreat..
Jennifer Baum "Solace"
Lori Guenoun Blue Highlands
Allison Asaro Serenity in Blue
JoAnne Pryce Bedard The Changing Tide

And the winner (drawn randomly) is Allison Asaro with "Serenity in Blue" which turns out to be a perfect fit for the painting! Congratulations Allison, you have won a print of any one of my paintings. You can view the entire catalog of my work here (http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/objectdar.html) to make your selection. Please contact me with your choice and I'll deliver it hand signed with my thanks!

whimsical paintings

August 27, 2011

Fall Class Schedule for Object Dar't Studios

Classes are starting up again! We are offering fall workshops in a variety of mediums/subjects for non-artisan adults and teens. No experience or artistic abilities required; just the desire and bravery to try! While more classes will be added, we are currently registering:

Mom-n-Me Masterpiece Workshop
A unique experience created to give mothers and their children (ages 5 and up) the opportunity for bonding time through art! Each MASTERPIECE will begin with one person starting the design and the other "adding to it" - passing it back and forth until completed - making it a true creative collaboration! Every person will go home with a beautiful and unusual masterpiece. So come join in for a fun experience filled with laughter, bonding and surprise.  Class price is per person. Must register 2 people. NOTE: $25 supply fee for all materials and supplies paid to instructor at the time of the workshop.

Circle Journal, ©Denyse Dar 2011
Circle Journal (Art Journaling "in the round") Workshop Series 
The idea of circle journals started a long time ago and have probably existed in some form for centuries. The best way to get a sense of the meaning for this type of journal is to think of it as a game of Round Robin - where everyone in the circle gets a turn to do an entry in your album! Each person decides on a theme for their journal and then it is passed to the next person for them to create an original work in your journal based on your theme. A variety of materials are used (the sky is the limit here!) including but not limited to scrap-booking papers, salvaged items and even original drawings & paintings! At the end, a unique journal is returned to you with some amazing creations and in the process, you will have forged some amazing new friendships! NOTE: this class meets for 4 consecutive Fridays in October. NOTE: $40 supply fee for journal and all materials for all 4 weeks - paid to instructor at the first workshop.

Mandala #2, ©Denyse Dar 2011
Mandalas: Meditative Art Workshop
The Mandala (Sanskrit for “circle” or “completion”) has a long history and is recognized for its deep spiritual meaning and representation of wholeness. One of the best ways to understand what Mandalas are about is to make your own. One of the most frequent objections is, "But I'm not an artist... I can't even draw a straight line." This is ideal, because the mandala is built on a circle, not a straight line! Besides, I'm going to help you along the way. When you reach your destination, you will have a representation of something meaningful and personal…a snapshot of you for a brief moment in time expressed through your mandala. $25 supply fee for all materials and handmade paper paid to instructor at the workshop.

Class Options

new england paintings