Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Room of the week

Now that's commitment!
 Beautiful, ancient commitment to decor. Notice how the mirror and landscape painting are separate but integral to the plasterwork. Clearly, the notion of "changing things up" was not considered necessary. 
Luckily, the colors and furnishings are divine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 things I wish I had known on day one of being a business owner

I have always created but it was more recently that my art sales warranted a " for real" business setup and I wish I had known these things beforehand. Its not that I was so naive that I had never heard these things, but rather the lesson learned by choosing to heed the words or not heed them and then deal with the consequences is something different.
Having figured out these things makes me wonder what I will wish I knew about business 5 and 10 years from now.

1. Boundaries. Boundaries are so difficult for a non-confrontational person like me but so very necessary.
Last year, there was a minor upset when we told a family member not to come and stay for a few days. We were so very busy and the thoughts of remaking a bed and cooking just about put me over the edge. I am glad we were firm about that. 
That was my first lesson on setting boundaries. Working from home does not mean that you are available for other things even though others may think that you are.

2. Bookkeeping. Oh how I wish that sort of thing had been easier for me. It was something that I over complicated in my mind and found frustrating and even tear-producing. I now have a simple paper form that I complete each month. I am tech-savvy enough to do something else but find comfort in having things on paper. If I had a nickel for the number of people that recommended an accounting program...
My lesson here was: do what works for you and you business. It is such an important thing that a business owner know their monthly sales, expenses and profit margin and I always do by using the method that is a good fit for me.

3. Details affect your image. Thankfully it took me a very short period of time to be horrified at the thought of packaging my artwork in a leftover makeshift cardboard box for shipping. Its a small thing but a customer who spends hundreds on a handmade item deserves a new box that is packed up in a tidy professional way. This philosophy comes up in many ways like using the best quality materials I can afford at my price point and responding even the smallest questions in a timely, respectful and friendly manner.

4. Building relationships is key.  I am the artist so I do everything, right? Wrong.Yep, my husband builds wood crates for the biggies so I need to be nice to him but I need more help than that. I have a relationship with the owner and employees of my local UPS store that is invaluable to me. I could use another shipper but I value the relationship enough to stick with them. Artist friends are great to bounce ideas off of and a small art supply store is my best source for custom stretcher bars. Everything I do would be drastically more difficult without these cultivated relationships.

5. Ride the dips. Seth Godin devoted an entire book to knowing when to quit.  A dip can make you feel like quitting. A dip is a lull in business, creativity, or both and it is scary as hell. Like the biggest rollercoaster ever scary. I found that dips are good. In my case, a creative dip allowed my subconscious time to do problem solving about creativity. It ended in a series of "Eureka" moments and it was only in hindsight that I saw that thing I viewed as a slump was rather a regrouping of energy.
 My daughter at age four said it best while painting one evening, "I am a real artist because I never give up."
In business, things are not always linear, rarely exactly as you expected and mostly tougher than you thought it would be but the rewards are immeasurable and I never want to do anything else.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial day

Have a wonderful Memorial Day and please remember why we observe this day.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chintz vs. Toile takedown!

Do you cringe at the large expanses of toile? 
Is toile too '90s French country for you?
I have to admit that I was once a toile-aholic. I loved french country style decor.

Actually in France
These days I am inclined to avoid toile and think of it mostly as something best seen in France.
But, oh how I loved my toile!
Chintz, long regarded as granny fabric or *gasp* shabby chic has always been a source of warm fuzzy feelings for me. My British great-grandmother transformed her living room every year in the Spring with Chintz curtains and slipcovers on everything. There was nothing shabby about it. The glorious cabbage roses on glazed cotton made for a cheerful yet elegant space.

Chintz is big right now and I am thrilled.

I particularly love the way designers are keeping it from being too sweet and girly but fresh and modern.

 Are you rooting for Chintz or Toile?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Room of the week

I am so glad to get back to my weekly Wednesday feature, room of the week. So here are my two cents.

I am not big on monochromatic decor but I do like serene bedrooms so I understand these choices although I find this a bit one note. The thing I am intrigued with is the enormous art above the bed. I love the statement it makes in a way that does not interrupt the calm of the space.
If I did not have a high four poster with a headboard that leaves about three feet between it and the ceiling, I would be stretching a huge canvas for my room instead of typing this.
So...who wants a huge painting in their room? Raise your hand!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

About a painting

"Prayed for" oil and charcoal on linen by Kerry Steele
Sometimes I like to "cleanse my palette"  (pun intended) with a figural painting. Last week I did just that and my results or rather the response was surprising to me.
I looked for photos with an interesting pose to sketch  and then paint as I reimagined it and came across this...

I only wanted the figure and pose for this as opposed to painting the same thing as in the photo.
My surprise was the number of people on my personal Facebook page and my art Facebook page that liked and commented on the painting. It was far more than usual and I can't help but wonder what aspect of the painting so moved people to tell me how much they liked it.
I will continue with these figural pieces but abstracts will continue to be my main focus. Which do you prefer?

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Monday, May 19, 2014


Small, tucked away reading nooks hold great appeal to so many as an fantasy escape spot that can actually be attained.
I picked a few favorites and it just happens that many look good for napping too.

Note the cation on the pillow "The Roost"

Some seem suited for daydreaming too.

Do you have a reading nook?

Monday, May 12, 2014

New artwork and other thoughts

Bramble 2 second in a pair
My Mother's day is being spent leisurely unwinding from the big birthday shindig we had on Saturday that fell closely on the heels of the One Room Challenge link up.
I feel like the train has just pulled away from Crazytown and is headed back to Normalville.
Prom was also Saturday and my 17 year-old whisked in and out in her dress in the space of 5 minutes while my house was jammed with party guests. So much for that special moment.
At this moment my studio is barely accessible from all of the paintings in the works or completed. Good problem to have in my opinion.

Bramble 1 first of a pair
I finished a pair of 24 x 30 canvases entitled "Bramble" that are meant to go together but also stand on their own.

Rapunzel 48 x 60 oil on canvas
"Rapunzel"  is a 48 x 60 oil on canvas and was more of a challenge than smaller canvases because it is hard to back far enough away to see the composition and color balance while painting. It goes more like:choose area to paint, paint, pray that it looks right, back up 6 feet to see if it looks right, correct if necessary, repeat.
It also presents challenges to photograph but I am happy enough with it to have it on my mantel.

The party was for my daughter's 5th birthday.
We basically rent a bounce house for the kids and throw a party for the adults with fancy food. Its always a big hit. It is also an incredible amount of work and little got done in advance this time. As I hit "publish" for the ORC, I was surrounded by a sea of "Frozen" themed party supplies.

This little darling is growing up too fast. We are having a family trip to the zoo today to celebrate.
See you all back in Normalville!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

ORC-Whew! Its done!

As always, many thanks to Linda of Calling it Home for dreaming this baby up.
Are you all exhausted too?
If you need to catchup here are the previous weeks.
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
 Week 5
Let's take a look at my plan for my 17 year-old daughter's room and the results.

I had the bed, curtains and loveseat beforehand.
The girl likes chevron so I indulged.

I ordered a Lucite chair (from a company I won't recommend) and the blue and white chevron rug was a last minute Homegoods find.

The accessories in the room were the most fun for me. We both love elephants and the brass one was a thrifting score.
I found this vintage magazine rack at a local thrift and hit it with some gold spray paint to tie it in with some other accessories and hold all of my old her records.

I actually had the table in my basement. It was a side-of-the-road broken find that I repaired and lovingly refinished years ago. I took a deep breath and just started painting it white before I could reconsider.

I use my children's rooms as art hanging spots for my paintings until they sell so we can enjoy the paintings for a while.

That painting is from my new series and my daughter likes things to be color coordinated  and I think this works with her color scheme without totally matching.

The lamp on her nightstand was thrifted and I wrapped nearly all of the books in fun wrapping paper.

The pillows and throw on the loveseat make me want to steal them.
I found these blue and white porcelain balls at a discount store and I may have to buy some for myself.

 I hung her watercolors that are for sale in her Etsy shop with bulldog clips and they serve as inspiration as she works.

A print from The Pink Pagoda and a small abstract of mine work nicely together.
The rainbow was painted by her little sister and hangs with my favorite of all of her elephant paintings. I might just have to snap that up myself.

I learned a lot from this ORC. The main thing is that I never want to redo a a room with a resident slob. Every photo you have seen involved me moving clutter and clothes out of my way and putting things back to the way they were just a few hours earlier.
 We love the Parsons desk and ghost chair andI am really happy with the John Robshaw pillowcover I ordered and my recovered storage cubes.

Are going to spend the next few hours perusing all of the other fabulous ORC linker's rooms, like me?

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