I keep sitting down to write a blog post, and feel at a loss. I would love to have weekly posts, but I don't always know what to say. That usually means it's time for me to share with you an artist I like or a book I'm reading. Today I'll go with the former
I came across painter Betsy Walton on Instagram and love her juicy colors and organic shapes. (all images come from her website). Here are some pieces that I especially love.
So there's some of Betsy. I don't know much else about her, except that I believe she is near me in the Pacific Northwest.
One more thing I'll share before I go. I'm super excited because I just ordered some Christmas ornaments with my Holiday Alpaca on them! Every year I hope to have Christmas ornaments to sell, and this is the first year I"m doing it! Once they're in, I'll let you know!
It’s pouring down rain and I’m cooking some butternut squash soup in my Instapot. I lit my vanilla pumpkin candle, and I’m feeling nice and cozy. And my little dude is sleeping so I can actually appreciate these things.
I just love the change of seasons.
We got to enjoy walking in some fall leaves this morning before the rain began.
I don’t have much else to say today. What are some things you love about Fall?
I just want to take a moment to toot my own horn and say that August was by far the most profitable month for my Etsy shop.
I started the shop back in 2014 and pretty much had zero sales for that first year. My first sale from a stranger was on July 2015, and after that I had about one sale every few months or so. I would occasionally get motivated to make my shop nicer and more appealing, would work on it for a month or so, and then get discouraged and not touch it again for another few months.
Last spring something changed. I think part of it was that I learned about using mock-ups for my product photos, so my listings looked nicer and it was easier to create new listings. I also learned about drop-shipping, which meant I no longer had to have all my inventory on hand and could offer a greater variety of products at not extra cost to myself.
Slowly over the course of a few months I started to see my sales increase. I went from having one sale every few months to a few sales every month. Then to a few sales every week.
It's been so fun! Of course it gives me motivation to draw more. I'd like to say I'm just intrinsically inspired to create-and of course to an extinct that's true, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this--but seeing people like my work enough to spend money on it is really motivating.
In case you're wondering, here are a few of my best-selling products this summer.
In the future, I want to offer more downloadable art prints, as well as a new product type or two. I'm thinking stickers or maybe tea towels . . . Thanks to drop-shipping printers like Printed Mint the possibilities are endless. Plus I'm hoping to offer Christmas ornaments this holiday season.
(And I painted my nails red.)
So stay tuned!
As an artist, I of course love to see my son create. Ransom's not always super into it though. I try not to pressure him too much, because he doesn't have to be a mini me.
But toddlers are changing every day, and mine got really into painting with me recently. I thought I'd use this blog post to take a break from my regularly scheduled all-about-my-art and turn it to Ransom.
This is activity was pretty fun for me, because it was totally unplanned. We kinda played it by ear and let the process lead us along.
First, he decided he wanted to do some painting. Of course I was so excited about this, because like I said it's not always his first choice of activity. So I prepped a piece of paper and gave him some oil pastels and stickers while I got the paint ready.
Then I provided yellow and red paint. Limiting the colors keeps it from all just becoming brown. And then we got to discover that yellow and red make orange.
He was layering the paint on real thick, so we got out some cotton swabs to draw lines in the layers of paint. And we had to clean the swabs on something so we got out some extra paper.
And then we started using our fingers and hands. (and threw in some purple)
We ending up going through a lot of paper. Two year olds are not very concerned with finished products, but I wanted a few nice looking paintings out of this experience so I took away some of the papers when I liked how they were looking.
Here's one of the masterpieces, which I think I want to have framed.
The less frame worthy pieces I plan on cutting up for future collages. We attempted one the other day together. He wasn't as into it as the painting, but still enjoyed using the goopy glue.
All in all it was a super fun and inspiring activity for me, hopefully for him as well.
Because of it I got a book from the library called First Art for Toddlers and Two: Open Ended Art Experiences. It's hard for me to make it truly open ended. For instance, with the collage I felt like it needed more, but he had lost interest. For a few days I kept asking him to glue more things on or at least draw on it with some oil pastels. He eventually did, but I probably should have just let it be.
I'm excited to dive into the book though and create more with him.
I sometimes hear people refer to their art as their baby, or as a piece of themselves. I don't really think of it that way. Frankly, I don't think that is a very healthy or productive way to think of one's art.
I remember taking a studio class in college and struggling with a project. I just didn't like where it was going; I didn't feel proud of it. I don't remember now what the particular project was, but I remember walking away from the art building and making a conscious effort to leave those feelings behind. I recall telling myself that I am not my art. I am not my work. My sense of well being should not be tied to how well I think a project is going. So I left the object I was working on behind and moved onto my next class.
I've heard some artists say they don't want to post their art online -- either for sale or on social media -- because they are afraid someone will steal it. It happens pretty often and it does suck, but still . . . it's just one design. It hasn't happened to me, but I imagine if it did I would be bummed, and then move on. That's not reason enough to hide your art away. If you steal my art, I will just make more. It's not sacred and it's not my baby.
I've been thinking about this lately, this idea that my art is not my baby, that I don't have to take it all so seriously. Then I read the same idea in Gibert's Big Magic,
"Guys, please don't mistake your creative work for a human child, ok? This kind of thinking will only lead you to deep psychic pain . . . Your creative work is not your baby; if anything, you are its baby. Everything I have ever written has brought me into being. Every project has matured me in a different way."
If my art is a baby, it's more like a baby sea turtle rather than a human baby. I birth it, and then send it on its way. I hope it does well, but in the mean time I'm going to let it go and continue to make more.
I've been drawing a lot more flowers and plants lately, mainly due to an increase in requests for botanical tattoo designs. Such as this in-progress drawing ...
As an art teacher, I've always said that the best drawers are the best observers. The more you notice, the better you'll draw. Well, I am also finding the opposite to be true. The more plant life that I draw, the more that I notice. My eyes are being drawn to little buds and blossoms more than they have been before.
I went on a hike on Mt Hood with some friends a couple weeks ago and found myself almost as excited about the wildflowers we walked by as I was the view of the peak.
And now I'm noticing flowers all the time. I collect pictures of them on my walks and runs, and have an ongoing flower folder on my phone.
I think it would be fun to do a wildflower-of-Mt-Hood series. At some point... once I get past some commissioned projects and my never-ending state bird series . . . Oh yeah and my children's book and nautical coloring book . . . . I'm definitely not bored!
I first began selling my art in July of 2013. I was working full time as an elementary art teacher, doodling and sketching here and there when I had the time. I had shopped on a website called Society6 before, and I realized anybody could easily open up shop there and start selling products. It a print-on-demand (POD) model, where artists upload their designs, and then Society6 prints and ships said design on a plethora of products.
So I scanned some drawings and opened shop. Here are the first designs I posted that summer.
I still have affection for those drawings. And I still like them, actually, though my style has changed somewhat.
I've neglected my S6 shop this past year or so to focus on Etsy, but these past few weeks I've been giving it some love.
To compare and contrast ('cause that's always fun) here are a few of my newest designs.
(See what I mean about being obsessed with drawing animals now?)
It's just really fun to create, you know? And POD sites like Society6 make it easy to sell your work, though they are pretty saturated with great art and so it's also very easy to get lost in the crowd. Etsy is similar, though at least when you make a sale you know who the customer is and so it's easy to make a personal connection, and then hopefully build a relationship and have a repeat customer.
I'll close with something totally unrelated and precious. A snapshot from Ransom's first camping trip this past weekend.
I've had it on my "to-do" list for awhile to start offering custom pet portraits in my Etsy shop. To jump start that, I donated a commissioned pet portrait to my son's preschool silent auction this past spring. The family who bought it (proceeds went to the school) recently sent me pictures of their family dog and I got to drawing.
I feel really pleased with the result! And now that i have my first pet portrait down (aside from ones I've sketched for fun of my own pets), you can purchase your own pet portrait in my Etsy shop.
You know, I got on this animal drawing kick back in Spring of 2018. I participated in the 100 Day Challenge and drew an animal every day for 100 days, and I still haven't been able to stop!
A friend of our's is a retired firefighter and now an avid fisherman. He enjoyed seeing all of my bird drawings, and kept telling me I should draw a Chinook Salmon, which is a fish that is near and dear to the Pacific Northwest.
So he sent me a picture and I got to drawing. I'll tell the rest of the story mostly through pictures . . .
At this point I could have been done and had a perfectly fine salmon drawing, but I wasn't quite satisfied. It needed a little something extra. I felt inspired by this image that I found on Pinterest.
And landed with this.
I still can't decide if the interior swirls are pretty or just messy, I might work with them some more.... or maybe I don't need to decide. Maybe I just need to move on.
Or maybe the next step is to bring it onto my iPad and add some digital watercolor. I did that with my iguana this past weekend.
I do like salmon better now though, with the pattern added. It made it more mine.
I don't know how this happened, but I have become the type of person that reads like, five books at once. I used to always have one fiction and one non-fiction going, but that system has flown out the window the last couple of years. I'm currently in the midst of 5 books. Here they are in no particular order....
I blame the app GoodReads for this new habit of reading 4-5 books at a time. Since I can easily keep track of what I'm reading and how far I'm in a book with GoodReads, I feel comfortable being in the midst of a lot at once. And I also just decide not to be in a rush to finish.
But since this blog is supposed to be somewhat focused on art and not on literature, I thought I'd share some inspiration from Elizabeth's Gilbert book. I've mentioned it before, and I'm still s-l-o-w-l-y reading it. I really like this quote. It's kinda long, but so lovely....
"Making art does sometimes feel like you're holding a seance, or like you're calling out in the night for a wild animal on the prowl. What you're doing seems impossible and even silly, but then you hear the thunder of hooves, and some beautiful beast comes rushing into the glade, searching for you just as urgently as you have been searching for it.
So you must keep trying. you must keep calling out in those dark woods for your own Big Magic. You must search tirelessly and faithfully, hoping against hope to someday experience that divine collision of creative communion--either for the first time, or one more time.
Because when it all comes together, it's amazing. When it all comes together, the only thing you can do is bow down in gratitude, as if you have been granted an audience with the divine.
Because you have." -Gilbert
i love that! A lot of times spending time to create does feel silly and fruitless and like I'd be making better use of my limited free time by cleaning out my car or taking a shower. It's easy to forget those times when it does feel like magic, or to think that it won't ever feel like magic again.
But for now, I'm just going to keep showing up.
A place to share the process. A space to be honest about the triumphs and trials of my daily life as an artist and mama. Writing motivates and refreshes me.