Year-End Reflections

December 21, 2022

Photo by Robin S on Unsplash

Things I Learned In 2022 (Or A Loose Recap)

There are just a handful of days left in 2022. It feels like a good time to reflect on the year. My year in art was generally positive and represented moving forward for me. While there are some areas of growth, there were a few lessons learned.

2022 was a re-building year for me, as I got access to my studio space in early January after the landlord’s restoration of the building, following a horrible flood event caused by a September hurricane. (Read my blog post. ) In January-March, there was a good chunk of time spent outfitting my renewed space, gathering new supplies and settling in. That said, looking across the entire year, I was very productive and able to sell some work. Both of those are great blessings.

In no particular order, I am sharing what I learned and perhaps it will help you on your journey as well.

Shows/Open Studios/Craft Shows

I tested the waters in these areas and I learned that these events – whether a traditional art show, open studio event, or an arts and craft show – are all a lot of work, each in their own way.

The preparation took more time and thought than I’d imagined. Whether it’s a market where you must bring your own table, display, works, credit card machine/cash and signage, or whether it’s opening the doors of your own studio, there is planning and time needed for such activities as presenting your work properly, making and distributing marketing messages (print and online) and preparing for sales (credit card swiper, receipts, etc.) That’s all on top of finishing work, sealing it (if you do) and framing or wiring for hanging. Even deciding prices can take more time than you think! It’s not that I didn’t know these things would be required, it was more eye opening to actually experience how much time it all takes.

I also learned that research is needed before applying or entering anything . If it’s an art show, research can help determine if your work fits not just the requirements, but the “vibe” that the organization wants. This can be tough to do but worth digging into.

That said, I did sell my holiday paper products – handmade gift tags – and one customer followed up online and bought more. So that was positive.

I concluded that my artwork and what I need to charge for it really doesn’t fit into the “arts and crafts” space. People wanted to make small purchases, so I mostly sold paper items, but not larger artwork (eventhough I brought my most small pieces.)

I did get work shown in a couple of shows! In the upcoming year, I will apply to more “traditional” art shows, but after thoroughly researching. Sometimes the time required to fill our application forms, submit photos and so on is more work than it appears, so really knowing about the show and even the jurors would improve my chances! I did enjoy the Open Studios where folks come to my space, and I did also sell some work just by having people visit and browse.

Should one change their work to fit into a venue? You can come up with your own answer, but I would think it’s better to find the venue for you than change your medium or work.

Online Classes and Self-Taught Skills

As an art autodidact, I have done tons of learning outside formal education. I deeply believe that I am a person who never stops learning! This year, in addition to reading and watching video online, I took multiple online classes, both in art practice and in art business.

I believe that I benefitted from both types of class. I would say the overall experience of online classes this year was very beneficial, not only in the material presented – which was excellent – but in the inspiration that I got from them, to continue to work on my own, whether in my art practice or in the business side of art.

Also related, I taught myself some new techniques to provide content to social media – videos for reels, adding audio content to stories, etc. These became so important for the social media channels. This was positive, but I would give myself more time to learn new techniques before being up against a deadline.

On my website, I added blog posts and announcements, and I started and added to my online store. Using Square had some positives and some negatives. Looking ahead, I plan in 2023 to learn more about expanding my website and buffing up my online store. I guess my overall goal is giving myself more time to learn things and incorporate them into my online efforts.

100 Day Project

From mid-February to mid-May, I participated in The 100 Day Project. I even wrote a blog post about the lessons of that endeavor. (See my blog review. ) In short, the major takeaway was the benefit of doing something every day. While I have always been inconsistent with dedicating to “daily practices” of all types, the project really showed me the benefits of daily art practice!

I am not sure that I want to do this again, because it was quite a time commitment. But never say “never,” right?

Organizing Supplies/ Organizing Time

Supplies seem to be a blessing and a curse for artists. Sometimes they lead to inspiration, sometimes they lead to clutter! I worked on organizing and streamlining things – life, art supplies and schedules – this year.

Personally, I worked on stepping back from time comittments that crowded my schedule.

Organizing seems to be a never-ending goal, so I will be doing more of that in 2023!

I recently wrote about approaching art through the lens of Limits/Limitless. I plan to focus on how I can apply “Limitless” to my art practice. Stay tuned! I will share more on that.

Projects

I am working on a custom installation for a family member. I am excited about the idea I have for it. I also have larger canvases on deck to “work bigger.” Looking forward to stretching in this direction.

Happy Holidays and a Safe and Healthy New Year!

Virtual Open Studio

Green Cottage Studios’ Saturday, Dec. 10 Open Studio is going to be online!

There’s a lot of sickness spreading, so I have decided go online to be healthier. I hope it keeps everyone safe for their holiday celebrations. 

I will be adding new inventory to my online store. The new items will go live on Saturday, Dec. 10 at noon! A coupon code will be sent via email for newsletter subscribers so watch for that email. I can ship your purchase or we can arrange for pick up in Lambertville.

See most my recent newsletter and subscribe. (Subscribe before 6 AM EST Saturday.)

Published: December 8, 2022

Limits / Limitless

Limitless stars above in Poconos, Pa.
Photo credit: Richard Miller

This time of year, especially in the part of the U.S. where I reside, we are all reminded of the limited amount of sunshine we experience each day. Just about when you think it’s afternoon and you might have that 4 p.m. cup of tea, it’s suddenly looking like midnight outside the window.

I think we all have many friends who bemoan the early sunsets and the long night of winter. And there’s lots of other things in our lives that we bemoan, especially the limits – there is not enough time, energy or resources to accomplish what we want. Or there’s not enough peace in our lives or “me time” in our schedules. Chaos and busyness abound during the scramble to reach the end of the year.

In the arts community, folks are often quick to point out their limits, too.  “I didn’t have enough time before the show;” “I don’t like social media sharing;” “I don’t have enough capacity for that;” “I can’t take the class…don’t have time;” or that ugly one from the inner critic – “I don’t have enough talent.”

These things may be true – except the last that’s a false statement – but those that are truly creative and content are able to someway, somehow focus on what’s beyond the limits, maybe even to the point of limitless!

In 2011, there was a movie titled, “Limitless” (IMDB link) which starred Bradley Cooper. The protagonist swallowed a pill that took him from average, struggling fellow to super genius. He became “limitless.” Of course, that wasn’t the end of the story, but it makes one wonder about how one’s life can change, in this case through technology.

While we don’t have a pill like that, the feeling or perspective of being limitless – without end, limit, or boundary – is the mental approach that creatives need. The ones who are productive and content with their art and pushing the envelop seem to operate without boundaries (at least externally imposed ones.)

The “no rules,” “no plan plan,” or the “create without thinking” strategies are what fuels creativity. Restrictions, recipes and procedures all feel stifling and bounding to artistic types who want to grow and develop their own artistic voice. Flinging off boundaries and allowing one’s mind to wander, to daydream and ask “What if?” and “Why not?” are key ingredients to the limitless view point.

So this is my intention for this month and for the year ahead, to shift my vision to what is out there beyond the limits, to think about the limitless potential rather than the lacking or constraints of the season or the day. Follow me (social links above) and see what’s next!