Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Affirming an Art Career

As part of my journey to becoming a full-time artist, I decided it was time to remind myself about the principals of positive thinking and affirmations. I have been so worried these past two months about the logistics of making money from my art and supporting myself that I started having anxiety attacks, which then made it extremely difficult for me to create any art. As you probably remember, my New Year's Resolution was to create an ACEO a day. This was supposed to help me get over my slumps when I had them because at least I would be creating art EVERY DAY. It has worked and I am enjoying the drawings that I am making, but I needed a little more this time in order to get me back in the studio painting.

I have always been a believer of the "laws of attraction" and saying affirmations which, basically, relies on positive thinking and making statements about the things that you want/need. If you think it, really believe, and affirm it, you can make things happen. Sound pretty simplistic and hard to believe, huh? But it makes sense. Haven't you ever noticed that when you feel good and are thinking positive, good things happen? And when you are negative and feel down, nothing seems to go right? Well these past two months I have been thinking that I was crazy to quit my job and that I would never be able to pay my bills. I also started to question whether I would have enough inspiration to paint everyday. I was filled with fear and negative thoughts and through this whole time, I didn't paint and made no efforts to promote my career, thus making my fears come true. Trying to keep positive and trust that you are doing the right thing is hard, especially when you are filled with fear, as I was. I knew I was in a mental funk and needed help getting out of it.

Many years ago, a dear friend gave me "Ordering From the Cosmic Kitchen- The Essential Guide to Powerful, Nourishing Affirmations" by Patricia J. Crane, PhD. It's one of those books that I can (and have) read again and again, when I need a little mental shove into positive thinking. I started reading it again and here are some important points that I have found:

1. You need to decide what you want. For me, I want a full-filling art career that enables me to paint full-time, pay all of my bills, have enough money for fun and for savings. I want to have an endless supply of inspiration.

2. Make your affirmations positive, present tense, and personal. My favorite affirmations are "I am constantly inspired to paint. My paintings are appreciated. My paintings are in demand. I open my arms to prosperity."

3. Include words that convey positive, energetic feelings. Say your affirmations as if they are already happening and FEEL as if they are happening. Mine, for example, would be " It feels wonderful to have so many people really loving my work. I love that my work is selling so well and is in high demand."

I already feel better about my career decision and have been in the studio many times since re-reading this book. I finished one painting (which is posted with this entry) and am working on a second that I really like. I'm starting to get really excited about all of the possibilities that will come my way.

Image: "Swimmers 1" 24" x 24", 2010, pre-wax stage.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Taking Care of Business...

Now that I am going to go full-time creating art, there were a few things that I had to set up in order to do this. Basic things, like getting a business account at my bank and applying for a credit card for business purchases only, were some of the things that I did today. I know they are basic, mundane things, but I have to say that I am pretty excited that I did this. This small, yet significant, step somehow makes it more real for me that I am on my way to doing this professionally. Okay, I have been painting professionally for a few years now, but now it's official. Having the long, business checks with my name at the top means that I am I am more legitimate...at least in my head.

I also set up an eBay account and have started to sell my ACEOs there. They have been selling, even though at a really cheap price. This is okay for now because I figure that it is getting my name out there and people are becoming familiar with my work and name. It is also enabling me to acquire stars from feedback. The more stars you have, the more people trust you as a seller. Once people are more familiar with my work and I've gained their trust, I will start selling small works, under 16 inches, there and see how they do.

After spending way too much time "surfing" eBay while I should be grading papers, I have found that some artists are doing really well there. I saw one artist who had bids for his ACEOs reach the $75 mark! Others were going for around $24, which is pretty damn good considering that these paintings are 2.5" x 3.5". Now I don't think my larger paintings will do well there, but I think my sketches and smaller pieces could garner a pretty good income for me, and, once again, get my name out there. It's all about name recognition!

Image: "Day at the Lake", 30" x 30" oil and encaustic on panel.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

225˚ F Encaustic Encounter

Last year, I, along with many other fine encaustic artist across the United States, was asked to participate in a group show at the Turchin Center for Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. The show was titled 225˚F Encaustic Encounter and I showed 7 of my "nature" paintings. The show is on display from November 4th to February 6th, 2010. Here are some installation views of the show, courtesy of photographer Troy Tuttle. If you happen to be in North Carolina, be sure to stop by and see some great art!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The ACEO experiment

It is day 7 of the ACEO experiment. For those of you who haven't read my previous post, I decided to make one ACEO a day for 365 days starting January 1st, 2010. ACEO stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals. They are collectible little pieces of art that are always two and one-half inches by three and one-half inches, which is the size of a standard sports trading card. I decided on the size because this seemed less intimidating than a larger format. I figured making a piece of art the size of a trading card was definitely doable and would achieve my goal of making art every day for the year 2010.

So far I have made 6 graphite drawings (today's, day 7, has yet to be made) that were then covered in wax at a later date (I don't have my wax materials and tools at home so I had to wait until I was in my studio). The actual drawings are done on the day that my art piece is "due" which is by midnight at the end of each day so that I could still fill my daily requirement. I usually make these drawing after dinner while I am sitting with my sweetie watching TV. I find that, for me, this time is relaxing and conducive to drawing. Plus, I like the background noise of the television while I work. It also makes me feel less guilty about rotting my brain for three hours a day on senseless, yet entertaining, programming. After 6 days, I have to say that I am really enjoying this! I am practicing my drawing skills and can already see that I am getting better at it. These pieces don't take very long and when I'm done I often find myself wanting to make another. I haven't decided if I'm going to allow myself to make more than one a day. I don't want this to take over my regular art making and I can see myself using these extra ones as an excuse to miss a day of making one later on.

Do I forsee any problems? Uh, Yeah. I'm wondering how this will work on days that I am traveling and away from home. I'm thinking it will be easy enough to bring supplies, like a pencil and the ACEO paper, but will I be motivated to draw when I want to be out having fun? I am going to Southern California for the upcoming three day weekend (which also happens to be my birthday and 1 year anniversary weekend) so I guess I will soon know how that turns out.

I also haven't listed these on ebay or Etsy yet. Although I have sold two already just by showing them to some friends who wanted to see what I was working on, I read in Jack White's article "Making it on eBay" (Dec/ Jan issue of Art Calendar) that colorful artwork attracts attention. Oils sell the best, while black and white pencil drawings sell the worse. So far I have been doing nothing but graphite drawings and covering them in wax. I'm not sure how much attention these will attract from people who don't know my work. I may go with color later and do some encaustic pattern pieces that I've been wanting to experiment with...which is another good thing about ACEOs. You can experiment freely with these without feeling like you are wasting a lot of materials. But for the work I have done so far, I'm not sure how the public will respond to them. I guess I should just post them and find out.

The other problem I see with these is trying to keep up with posting them on eBay and Etsy. Taking photos, writing descriptions, keeping track of inventory, sales, shipping, etc...It's a lot of work! I may have to quit my day job sooner if this takes off or get an assistant. Hehehe, wouldn't that be nice!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An Art Piece a Day Keeps the Blues Away...

I am starting to get extremely nervous about the fact that I will not have a steady income come June 2010, when the school year ends. One would think that this would get me working in double time but instead it has paralyzed me. In the past two weeks I have managed to get into the studio twice and I didn't stay very long. At first I thought I was just not feeling inspired to paint, that if I did my usual things that would usually inspired me (see previous blog post for the complete list), I would get right back on that art horse and get busy. Then I started to get that tingly feeling in my gut when I started to think about painting full-time and trying to make a living out of it. The nauseous feeling started to take hold and I became paralyzed with fear, which meant no artwork being produced, which lead to more anxiety, which lead to no artwork being produced, then more anxiety...I'm sure you get the picture. It was a bad cycle that I could see myself drowning in.

So what did I decide to do? Did I wallow in my misery and beg my principal to let me have my job back? NO! (And don't think I haven't thought about it more than once, too!) I decided to take a more proactive approach. I have set a goal of doing an ACEO a day for the year 2010.

What is an ACEO, you may ask? Well, it stands for "Art Cards Editions and Originals". They are original pieces of work that are 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" in size. Think art trading cards and you'll get the idea. Here's my thinking...I have a TON of antique photos that I have either already used in paintings or aren't clear/interesting/large enough for me to replicate in a painting. I wasn't sure what I could do with them so I was thinking that I could do ACEO collages and drawings with them. Just simple, quick pieces art pieces using these photographs and anythings else I could find. This would help me in two ways.

1. I would be making a piece of art EVERYDAY, no matter what. This would help keep the "Oh my god I quit my job and will be homeless/starving soon and the fear is paralyzing me so I can't paint" blues away. As long as I did something, even if it wasn't a large painting, I would keep my creative juices flowing which usually keeps the anxiety away.

2. Etsy and Ebay both have a pretty good market for selling ACEOs. While I won't be making a ton of money per piece (think between $1- $20), I will be making something which will, once again, keep the anxiety about starving and being homeless away. I read an article on Art Calendar where a couple made a pretty good living off of selling artwork (mostly ACEOs) on Ebay. If they can do it, why can't I? Right? Right!

I figured these small pieces won't take too much time to create so it won't get in the way of my other paintings. If it can bring in an income, no matter how small, AND keep me from freaking out, AND keep me creating, then how can this be bad? Now, the question is...Can I do 365 ACEOs? Not all of the pieces will be purchase worthy, but visit my etsy store to see what I have done http://www.etsy.com/shop/jhinaalvarado or check out Ebay to see what I post. I should be posting them by the end of this week. I haven't figured out how I'm going to distribute the pieces between Etsy and Ebay yet, but once I do, I will post that information here. (You can always check my Etsy store for pieces that I have on sale. I tend to place the older pieces from my inventory there for SUPER cheap prices!)