Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fear of Commitment

I've been right iffy about commitment lately. No, my husband has nothing to worry about. I'm just a bit afraid for my art career, though.

Maybe it is because there are so many choices and ideas that I find it hard to stick to a project. I have no problem with this when I am working on a commission. I just experience this problem when working for myself. My wheels are constantly spinning deciding whether to chase a new idea every day or engage myself in a large series.

I recently finished cutting and laying out a "one-off" piece. Purples and browns. A few scraps fell together as I was making an attempt to clean up. Perhaps I should make a smaller piece with the same colors. Perhaps I should make several. Perhaps I should do a series.

I love to look at the painting-a-day blogs. I have thought about doing something similar. Certainly not a quilt a day, but maybe a small quilt per week. Something I could fit in among other projects. Could I keep up with this? For a year? 52 little quilts? Is this too big of a bite to chew? Is it far more than just a big bite? Would it be as daunting as I think it could be? Should I just start and if I fail, I fail? What if I get bored? Could I then just change my colors? Alter the content a bit? Just stop and get to work on something else? Should I treat it as a big deal or no big thing?

Sometimes I find decision making difficult.

Two pieces have been cut and laid out. A third is in the process. Should I just put out the statement that I am going to do a quilt a week and put them on Etsy and just get started? So far, the theme is singing birds. My musical choices have been limited to singing women. I didn't mean to imply that women are birds, but, well, the implication is there anyway. Perching like a little bird. A little singing bird. And I am going to go with it.

In my CD player I have: Patsy Cline, Norah Jones, Freakwater, Astrud Gilberto, and Gillian Welch. I'm looking for a few new musical ideas. Earthy women, not ethereal women. Talented women with beautiful voices whom you could imagine singing a lullaby to a child. My collection is quite limited. I'm looking for a few ideas. Please send me links or any other info. about your favorite female singers and musicians.

The more help I get, the longer this series may be.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm It?!?

Finally, I have been tagged. My first time. I feel so inexperienced. Not like the other girls. So, Cathy Kleeman is the first to do it. I am selective (otherwise known as a bit lazy), and do not have a long list of bloggers that I can tag. It seems that the bloggers that I read have all been tagged lately. I will not tag anyone at this point in my fairly short blogging career. I do need to add to my list of bloggers, so the next time this happens, I will be good and ready. Some research of other bloggers needs to be done on my part. I will get around to it. It is a bit hectic right now with my daughter out of school for conferences and my husband in China for a week.

Anyway, I feel quite flattered that Cathy Kleeman would contact me. Her work is stunning.

So while I am slacking on the tagging part, I do ask that anyone who wishes to comment would tell me at least one thing about yourself. I would love to hear something from those readers who have not commented before (if, indeed, there are any).

Six random things about me:

1. I buy lots of children’s books – for myself. My most recent purchase, as of yesterday is Scaredy Squirrel.

2. I can’t cook. I really can’t. I’ve even had a difficult time making frozen corn. I have mastered boiling water.

3. I like to fondle everything in the school supplies aisle at Target. Clean notebooks, empty folders, and fresh pencils excite me.

4. I sniff books before I buy them. If it smells bad, I won’t buy it.

5. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I like a bit of paganism. I also will steal my daughter’s Tootsie Rolls. Yum. This year my daughter is going to be a tiger. For the first time she will not be a Princess. I will go dressed as a middle-aged mother.

6. My favorite food is lamb. I could have been a vegetarian had I never tasted it. And yes, I do feel guilty when I eat it.

So, bloggers and lurkers, tell me a bit about yourself.

I promise to do better next time.
I promise to post photos soon (my camera is in China with my hubby).
I promise to talk about making art one of these days.

And now it is time to turn off the children's programming and act like a mother. I think we are finally going to do a horse painting kit my daughter got for her birthday (back in February).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Record Lowe's

I can pretty much tolerate shopping. Sometimes I even enjoy it. I like those home decorating shops -- Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, etc. And when I am feeling very flush, I enjoy cruising for sweaters. But, otherwise, shopping is often an irritant. It is NEVER more irritating than when I have to enter a Lowe's. I assume there are Lowe's stores across the country, but if I need to explain -- BIG box hardware store. I cannot really call Lowe's a store. Nothing the size of the denounced planet Pluto could be called a store. Certainly not a "Shoppe."

Four out of the four last business days I have been to Lowe's. Heaven help me.

Last Wednesday, I went in for a couple extra copies of my bathroom paint sample to give to the contractors. I also decided to pick up some Velcro while I was there. Kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. I happened to ask a clerk while I was looking in aisle 39. Eighteen aisles later, with a dramatic flourish, he revealed the Velcro display. Mission accomplished? Not yet. We can no longer have PEOPLE manning the checkout stands. No, we gotta do it ourselves. All the clerks are needed to guide people among the 112 aisles and dramatically display their exploring skills when the needed product is located. I approached the do-it-yourself checkout with my usual trepidation. I had only one item to pay for, so no bag was necessary. However, I had the audacity to touch the proferred bag. The machine demanded I stand there until a clerk came to assist. No clerk came. I went to the next do-it-yourself checkout. This time I successfully pressed the button that stated no bag was necessary. My purchase totaled $7.30. I feed in a 20 dollar bill. What do you think came out for change. Seventy cents. The machine made a hideous noise, then the screen claimed that it had just returned 12 dollars to me. It did not. A clerk, seeing my facial color had changed, came to my rescue. She did not rescue my 12 dollars. Another clerk was summoned. Eight minutes later, my money was returned and I left the store, vowing to never again return.

It was Thursday morning when my sewing machine started making funny noises and chewing up thread. I had broken another needle, which I promptly replaced, and went on sewing. Didn't work very well. I cleaned the bobbin race, I rethreaded, I did a number of other things, to no avail. I did it all again. Removing the plate over the bobbin for the 6th time, I discovered that the last broken needle had caused a teeny bit of metal to stick out, giving the bobbin thread a place to catch. Well, I could fix this simply. I would look for a narrow metal file to remove this bit of metal. No file on the tool table. Would a fingernail file work? Don't have any. Should I go to the drugstore to get a nail file, only to return home and find out it wouldn't work? Best just to go on to Lowe's and get a metal file. After being guided throughout the store, files were located. A pack of five cost $17. Everybody needs a pack of oddly-shaped metals files, don't they? Well, I just might, so I bought 'em at a human-operated checkout. Got home too late in the afternoon to actually have time to use 'em.

On Friday morning, my contractor asked if the paint color had been selected. I proudly said yes, and held forth the paint chip. He did not take it from me. He stated that it would cost much more for him to take the time to go to Lowe's. One of those time and materials jobs. Well, I would just have to go to Lowe's and buy the paint myself. But what about that metal plate sewing machine issue. I would just take the plate with me, stop at the grocery store (had to do that anyway, lots of studio time being completed here, right), get a nail file, try it out in the car. Well, the simple nail file worked, so I got to return the $17 files. Paint purchased through a human-operated checkout.

On Monday, my contractor says he will be ready for the trim paint on Tuesday. I know we've got that. The hubby told me so. Spent all morning in my dusty, crusty, basement pulling out old paint cans, only to find out we've got no trim paint. Damn. After a few curses, I grab my keys and head out to Lowe's. Can't get there. Car won't start. Hey, there's another car in my garage. Out to Lowe's. Ask for white trim paint. Do I want the white or the ultra-white? I whimpered that I wasn't prepared to make that decision. The friendly clerk helped me and I paid my money to a human and staggered out to the car.

Thanks for putting up with this information. I know it wasn't rewarding for you. It wasn't rewarding for me. I am now going to go have a look at my "white" paint. I didn't go for ultra-white. Will I regret it? Such is life. I do wish I had purchased those nifty hooks I saw in Lowe's last Wednesday. I also have yet to pick out towel bars, too. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's Make a Deal

Bargains, Super Savings, Deals, Discounts -- do these belong in the art world? According to a group of friends, they do.

I have only participated in one art show, back in 2001. A lot of hard work and preparation were involved, and I'm talking just about the show itself, not about the job of creating the art. I have yet to do another show. I am thinking about it, though.

I do attend art shows and fairs. I love them. They are very entertaining and a great place to buy original art. The vast majority of artwork in my home has come from these shows. Most have come from our local show - the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. This is a rather upscale show consisting of approximately 325 artists. If you can't find something at this festival, there is most definitely something wrong with you.

I don't ever recall asking for a bargain. I've never asked the artist, "Hey, is this your best price". If I want it, and can afford it, I pay the artist and walk away happy. Many artists do offer a small discount if more than one item is purchased. Most will post this information in their booth.

I have been asked for bargains. Sometimes I have lowered my prices. I had an Ebay purchaser buy 7 items once. I gave a very small discount and free shipping. This buyer has purchased a few other items over the past couple of years. Recently, the buyer wanted one of my older pieces and requested a 20% discount. Since it was an older piece and since she has purchased 10 other pieces, I happily granted her request. I once did grant a requested discount on a commission. Four large pieces were required and a small discount (10%) was granted. That was a mistake on my part. A commission requires a great deal of extra time, supplies, and manual labor. I should have requested more money from them. Live and learn.

Recently, I was at a gathering with a few friends and we discussed craft shows. Some of these friends had been to our local show and purchased several items. Everyone in the room, except me, thought that a 10% discount should be granted no matter what. An even greater discount should be expected when several items are purchased. I politely disagreed, but my voice could not be heard over the dissent. Am I wrong?

Why should we expect artists to give an upfront discount? We don't go into Target and demand discounts. We don't haggle making online Gap purchases. Why should we do this to artists? I know this kind of bargaining exists at flea markets and yard sales, but isn't it insulting to equate an artist's work with a pile of used clothing, broken furniture, and questionable appliances? Would a person interested in buying a piece of art walk away when learning they can't get a discount?

My undisclosed (mental) policy is:

I give a shipping discount for purchasing more than one item through my Website, Ebay, or Etsy.

I will give repeat customers discounts, although not every time.

I will no longer give discounts on commissioned work.

If I were to do an art show, I would give a small discount on multiple purchases, perhaps 5%.

If someone demands a discount for a single piece of work, I will call them the pig they are and turn my back. Ha Ha. This is where I need some assistance.

Has anyone out there participated in an art show? What do you do if a discount is requested?

Monday, October 6, 2008

I, Anchovy

After catching up on my art-related reading as a result of not being able to create in my studio, I have come to a realization. I have read about approaching galleries in SAQA Journal, I have studied the biographies of those profiled in American Craft, and I understand now what I am.

I am an Anchovy. A fish among fish. A really small fish.

And I think I am o.k. with that. I don't think there is any other choice. I must accept that I am a little fish. Then with lots of work, perhaps I can become a bigger fish. Maybe a Bass or a Trout. I do not want to be a Flounder.

In an article in the Fall 2008 SAQA Journal, three gallery owners were interviewed about artist/gallery relationships. The owners made it quite clear that this relationship excluded selling in any other venues, except perhaps juried shows, other than galleries. I'm not saying that I disagree with this. For those well into their art careers, this is definitely the way to go. I know this is not the way for me to go at this point.

I have spent a great deal of time researching galleries for the past several years. I have acquired a bit of mistrust of galleries, as many have not returned portfolios even when I have included postage-paid return envelopes. These are galleries at which I felt my artwork would fit in. Smaller galleries. Maybe they were not as professional as they should have been. Maybe I was not as professional as I should have been. While I will continue to do research on galleries, it will be on a smaller scale and, for now, for information gathering only (and enjoyment of couse).

I have had a good deal of luck in the past few years selling on Ebay. My website has brought me several commissions, and I am going to get more involved in selling on Etsy. These are things that gallery owners do not want their artists to do. It is working for me now, and I will do my best to have it work even better for me. This will be where I do my swimming for the time being.

I am going to continue working on smaller pieces and working in small series. I am going to enjoy creating and swimming in my little pool. Hopefully, when the pool has become too small, I will be able to realize this and find deeper waters.

In the meantime, I will visit as many galleries as possible and enjoy looking at the beautiful work of the big fish.

Besides, an Anchovy is a small fish with a lot of flavor.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

New Wreckage

Ah, the wonderful world of renovation. I suppose, from a great distance, this room doesn't look so bad. Yes, I am frequently thankful that I have indoor plumbing. I enjoyed explaining to my daughter that people used to have to go into a little building in the backyard and take care of business. And at night, to avoid the cold and wild animals, you could pull out your bed pan and take care of business. She is not impressed with the old days.

One day, we will look at these photos and talk of our old days. We'll say, "Hey, remember when we had to go downstairs in the cold and use the shower so the upstairs shower wouldn't rain down into the office. Remember when we had to lovely ant traps stuck to everything. Remember when we couldn't use the exhaust fan because those birds lived in it. Remember when chunks of rotten wood would fall off of the wall near the tub."

So some fellows came yesterday and starting ripping our personal world apart. I never realized how important my bathroom, nasty as it was, was to my daily life.

So far, only a couple of surprises have been found. Some "lovely" tiles appeared behind the shower surround. An extra half day will be spend chiseling them off. We were discussing what was remaining behind to the burly men who were removing items. Only the toilet and radiator (after cleaning and painting) are returning. One man mentioned that some items could be saved. I overheard the head guy saying, "No way, its all sh*t." How true.

The countdown begins with a two week time frame. The plumber, who had been here for 20 minutes informed us that many of the plumbing items had not been delivered. We called the bathroom place only to leave a message. I have a sinking feeling that these things have not been ordered. The plumber had nothing left to do here, so now he is gone. Good heavens. That could definitely add to the time frame. Meanwhile, my new tub sits out on the front lawn. I do hope it gets to move inside before the weekend. The local college students will no doubt use it as some sort of receptacle late at night.

Anyway, I am thankful to have another toilet in the house.

I am looking forward to having a shower that works, a tub that drains (not just leaks), a faucet that does not shoot water into my eyes, a fan that has no critters in it, no mold, a shower door that opens and closes, a window that opens and stays open, a floor without rust stains, a ceiling without a hole, a house not filled with burly men, etc.

I somehow find it difficult to be creative today. I will stay close to the computer. Check out Etsy, keep up with emails, create some new business cards, and other computer things I normally avoid.

New photos soon!