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Dropped the Ball

What brought me here today:

I should say, “What brought me here today on a Wednesday“. This happens a few times a year. I somehow miss posting on my regular blog posting days. For some reason, I thought that yesterday was Monday. I can’t figure out how I did that either. How could I forget what day it was? It’s there on the top of every page of my daily journal!

But I did forget what day it was. And I hadn’t written a draft of a post for Tuesday either. So here I am. I’ll keep this post short and to the point.

Creating and preparing:

I’m up to my butt in getting everything ready for the Holiday Pop-up Sale on the 27th. All of the work and planning I’m doing could explain why didn’t have a firm grip on exactly what day it was yesterday. I’m making head-way with the new pieces that I will be offering customers too. In fact, that’s kind of where my brain is right now. The mantra is “Must keep creating. Must keep creating. Must keep creating.

Interview:

Yesterday, I was interviewed by West Side Grows Together regarding my participation in the Holiday Small Business Pop-up. The interview went well. Or at least I think so. The young woman who was conducting the interview was sweet, smart and incredibly personable. It felt more like a chat with a new friend than an interview.

Why so tired yesterday then?

I spent the entire day working on pieces for the sale. Then my husband and I walked over to a cafe near Trolley Square for the interview. The interview took some time. Berin hung out in the same cafe, having a coffee and doing some work. Then we went for some supper. And then we went to the grocery store.

We purchased several heavy items. Mostly for our Thanksgiving dinner. Including a turkey. Then we packed-up the groceries and headed back to our house. What we hadn’t thought about was that it was dark when we were walking home. Many of the sidewalks are uneven due to tree roots pushing up the concrete. It made for some slower than usual walking for the both of us.

I also realized why we see the public service type ads on the bus instructing people to use a flashlight at night when they’re walking. I’m klutzy enough when the walking is dry and flat! We didn’t have a flashlight. So we kept to the best lighted streets. Which meant that we walked more than if it’d been light outside still.

So, now what?

Well, I’m going to obey my mantra of “Must keep working” and get back to attaching the strings to a lot of little handmade holiday ornaments!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

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Lists

What brought me here today:

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’m participating in a holiday pop-up sale on November 27th. It’s been at least eight years since I’ve sold any of my artwork at an in-person venue. The vast majority of my sales are via my online shop. My online shop came about because of the pandemic. I had indended to use my website to be a place to display my artwork, and to market my teaching of art workshops. Teaching in-person art workshops could not be taught safely at the time though. Selling my artwork then became the primary motive for my online presence.

Selling my artwork in person is full of all kinds of potential mental and emotional snares for me. The internet allows me a degree of personal anonymity that I’ve come to appreciate. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’m not incredibly keen on how I look from a physical standpoint. I feel as though my unappealing physical appearance might make people less likely to purchase my artwork.

That all being said, I’m still looking forward to the holiday pop-up sale. There is the potential to participate in additional pop-up sales at Books & Bagels during the holiday season. The limited amount of time for each Saturday sale is also short enough that I won’t get overwhelmed mentally or emotionally. I’m also looking forward to meeting other makers and creators as well. In this context, my extroverted side usually takes over. This usually helps me gain control of any mental or emotional stressors.

Prior experiences:

One of the ways that my husband and I made money for our move to Finland was through arts and craft shows. It was one way that we could make some money that could just go directly into our savings account. Almost all of the sales I’ve participated in were conducted at (then) local public school gynmasiums on the weekends. Two were quite large too. The table fees were pricier for multiple days. But the trade-off was a larger profit.

There was also an opportunity for art teachers who were practising artists to sell their artwork at the annual art teacher’s conference. I think I was the most nervous and the most comfortable about these once-a-year sales. Nervous in that I was showing my artwork to other artists as well as my fellow art teachers. And comfortable in that I had my close art teacher colleagues there as moral support.

One of the ways that I paid for my travel expences to go to the art teacher conference was through the profits from the sale of my artwork. There was also a nice little bit of profit on top of that as well. My friend Cinamon was such an amazing help to me during these sales! I’m just rubbish when it comes to creating attractive displays of my own work. This is one of Cinamon’s many amazing talents. She just made everything look so beatiful! And she was a great sales woman too!

Emergency:

I had so much artwork to sell at my last art teacher’s conference! My gallbladder had other plans though. While I was under-going emergency surgery about two miles away, Cinamon set-up and sold my artwork for me. Cinamon made sure that everyone attending the conference knew that this was the last time I would be at the conference. She made it a YOLO kind of event! The profits were excellent from that sale. And it was all because of Cinamon!

Prep work:

I do a lot of prep work prior to the day(s) of an arts and crafts show, or pop-up event. The actual day of the sale itself is one of the least eventful days. This is one of those events that could be illustrated by an iceberg. With the day of the sale being what everyone else sees above the water. And everything else I write about in this post being the enormous portion below the water. So, how do I start planing for an arts and craft show, or holiday pop-up sale? Read on!

1: Lists

I start by making a list. Actually, I start by making a lot of different lists. A list of the items I want to include in the sale. Plus lists of things like, displays, signage, business cards, petty cash, new point-of-sale card reader, bags, packaging, travel, set-up, tear-down, table coverings, table displays, etc. This is one of those instances when my natural inclinations toward having multiple contingency plans (i.e., Plans A-ZZZ) is definite asset. I’m already looking for some of the aforementioned items when were out running errands. The Dollar Store is going to a life-saver for some of these items.

There will be some services that I will need to purchase. Like business cards. We don’t have a printer yet, so I’ll need to go somewhere to have it done. I checked at the local library to see if I could print them there from a digital file. I can, but the problem is that I can’t use my own cardstock. So an email went out this morning to a local printer who has advertised that it can do small run copy work from digital files.

And, I go as far as to make lists of what I could wear so that I will look as nice as I possibly can.  I don’t want the people at a sale to not come and take a look at my artwork because they think I, or my display look unattactive in some way. I know that I’m trying to create an experience of myself and my artwork for any person, or potential customer looking over my artwork.

2: Accomplishing tasks on lists

The lists have to be divided into different sets of tasks. Some tasks are relatively easy. Buy table. That was easy. I’ve already checked it off one list. But then I have to think about the table covering and the displays. The table covering could be something that I simply purchase. But the displays are going to require designing. And in the case of the upcoming pop-up sale, constrution as well.

I know that I could easily purchase collapsible displays online. I’ve actually looked at some. The problem is that I didn’t find anything that suits my artwork. So, I’m going to build them myself using corrugated cardboard. I had created some displays using a Mr. Printable design that you can find here. There’s a super-cute little house too that I think I might try as well. The cardboard that I saved from all the boxes I broke down will be used to create new displays. These are quick builds. One day to get the structure together. Decorating them doesn’t take long either.

There are other tasks that will take much more time. I have decided to create new small pieces expecially for this pop-up sale. This requires me to hunt down the correct patterns. Choose the colours. Decide on exactly how many to create. And if needed, purchase additional materials to create them. I was just going over one of these lists this morning, making adjustments. Why? Because I need to be as realistic as possible with regard to my ability to create any given number of new pieces to sell.

3: Keeping in contact

I cannot stress to you how important it is to maintain an open and frequent dialogue with the people coordinating the sale, pop-up, or event! The minute that email or text plongs on my phone or lap top, I’m answering it. This helps the coordinator keep as up to date as possible. This makes any kind of holiday pop-up sale run so much more smoothly for all of the participants.

Yesterday, I received an email asking if I would like to submit pictures or video of my work that could be used to advertise the pop-up sale. I asked some questions about sizes and formatting and received a quick answer from the coordinator. The photos I chose will be sent to them today or tomorrow. For me, there’s some great free-advertising as a working artist. People who don’t know what my artwork is like get to see it. Heck! They may even buy it! The venue gets to show what kind of art items will be at the pop-up. It’s a win-win all the way around!

4: Moolah

Yuck. Now it’s time to talk about pricing of items for this pop-up sale. I am completely, and most horrifically bad at pricing my artwork. My husband tells me that I under-value my artwork. There’s a part of me that wishes I could comfortably price my artwork higher. I’ll get there someday. If business were to pick-up to the point that I was having difficulty keeping up with demand, higher prices would be in order I think.

I try to balance out the prices of my artwork at sales. There are a few higher-priced items. Many more items in the middle of the price spectrum. And juuust enough of the lowest price-pointed items to balance it all out. The logic being that there may be a few people who are willing to spend more on a single item, with many more able to purchase items at the middle price-point. Then there are the lowest priced items that are much more easily affordable for everyone at the sale.

I’m a bit nervous about using a new point-of-sale card scanner as well. It’s the kind that is attached to a cell phone. I’ve seen them used by small businesses here and in Europe. Giving potential customers different options to pay for my work is something that will benefit my small business. There are a few more things I need to set up on the point-of-sale card scanner website. Then it’ll be ready to go!

So now what?

There have been people in my past who’ve told me that I would “make a mint” selling my artwork. And that “selling online is easy“. None of these people were working artists. Nor had they set-up and maintained a website or online shop.  I have some experience under my belt running a website and selling my work online now. Enough experience to say that it is most assuredly not easy by any stretch of the imagination. And it has yet to make me a tonne of money.

I can say the same about getting ready for selling my artwork in person; it’s not easy, and won’t make me a lot of money. But, it does offer me a lot of benefits. I’m as much in control as possible over a great deal my little part of the pop-up sale. This control tamps-down a lot of my mental and emotional fretting a great deal. The success or failure of my performance is not measured solely in dollars and cents.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Marketing is Hard

Marketing is…:

Marketing my artwork has never been a strength of mine. I think that there are two reasons for that. The first among them being, in order to market my artwork, I need to call attention to myself. This would mean that people would actually look at me. Putting myself in this sort of position goes against the grain mentally and emotionally speaking. Secondly, asking for attention from people then means that I would have to talk about my artwork to people that I don’t know.

Both of the aforementioned reasons make marketing my artwork difficult for me. I’m either painfully slow at it, or I just don’t do it out of insane amounts of personal (and professional) fear. For my business to become more successful, I need to figure this out. I’m not as bad as I once was, but I’m not where I want or need to be at all.

Head scratching:

Knowing where the trap is — that’s the first step in evading it.” Thanks Duke Leto Atreides. That’s really great advice. And quite handy to keep in mind. However, it’s a lot easier said than actually done. Especially when it comes to mental or emotional traps.

That being said, I know the roots of my personal and professional feelings of inadequacy. I’m the poster child for imposter syndrome. Part of the reason that I know where all those mental traps are is precisely because I do spend so much time examining them, through creating my artwork. So I know who I am. I know my traps (or buttons, if you like). And the very artwork that I want to market is the product of this hard-won knowledge.

All of this makes me sound like an absolute mess, doesn’t it?! Actually, it’s not as bad as one might think. Knowing myself does have a mitigating effect on my fears regarding the marketing of my artwork.

Exhibiting my artwork:

I have been so fortunate in having two venues offer me the opportunity to exhibit my artwork during the past year. I’ve been looking online for additional places in which I might be able to exhibit my work. Exhibits are a good marketing tool for me. It allows me to show my artwork to a greater number of people who may not already be aware of me or my artwork.

Yesterday evening, I sat down to look online for exhibit opportunities. The pandemic has put a bit of a damper on art shows and fairs. I did find a few that seemed interesting. But I was disappointed to discover that many that I was interested in, or felt that my artwork would be a good fit, had restrictions on materials. Paper mâché and plaster works were not accepted. Crud. I did manage to find two that my artwork is still eligible for.

Cost of exhibiting:

Those who are not full or part time practicing artists, artisans or crafts people, might not know that entering artwork into juried art shows can be an expensive proposition. One of the art show applications I downloaded has a very reasonable 20€ application fee. I can afford that. One of the other shows that I had to rule out, had a 250€ application fee. These fees are just to get your artwork looked at, to see if it MIGHT be in the show.

If you’re work is selected, then you have to get the artwork to the venue. This can also be incredibly costly, especially for three-dimensional artwork like mine. One of the art shows that I had to rule out mandated a specific type of parcel shipment, with return shipping already paid for. They also wanted a certain amount of insurance added to the parcel shipment. And charged a fee for pedestal rental and set-up and take-down fees. For me to apply for entry, ship (to and from), rent a pedestal, pay for the set-up and take-down fee would have cost me around 2000€.

And there was no guarantee that the artwork would itself sell. Or that merely exhibiting my artwork at this venue would result in sales of my other pieces of art.

And then…depression set in:

I’m not an idiot. I know that art shows charge money for exhibiting specific art shows, or works by a specific artist. The venue has to be able to make some money too. After all, there is no guarantee that the artwork being shown will actually sell enough so that the venue will get a sizable enough cut to may the rent on the space, or keep the lights on, or heck, even pay their staff!

It’s just a depressing fact. I can’t change how exhibiting art works. All that this means is that at the present, I cannot go about showing my artwork and marketing myself and work in an already well established manner. This doesn’t mean that I won’t still be trying to avoid my own mental and emotional traps either.

It’s a trap:

My husband and I were talking about creating our own means of employment a few days ago. Neither one of us wants to return to working for someone else. We’ve both grown accustomed to having creative autonomy over our means earning monetary compensation. This kind of autonomy is equal parts fantastic and terrifying at the same time for me.

What struck me about the conversation I was having with my husband was that there are people who would prefer to be employed by something or someone other than themselves. I totally and completely understand that. Knowing that you have a place to be, a job to perform, and a guaranteed paycheck is a great comfort. Your basic needs are covered. There is comfort in that. A lot of comfort.

But…there is also the problems that arise when the pay isn’t enough to cover those basic needs. And then there are people who you know aren’t as smart as they think they are trying to tell you how to do your job. When they have never performed your specific job. Ever. There is the monotony of doing the same thing over and over again. Day in and day out. The trade off is that you have a place to be, a thing to do, and a steady paycheck. After a while, at least for me, the trade-offs are not enough.

Machete:

I know what I’m about, son.” Well said, Ron. Knowing who I am is a step in the right direction regarding my future marketing adventures. For now, there are well-worn paths like the expensive juried art shows, that are simply not an option for me. I need more affordable options. Free would be a good price to start. This means that I have to cut my own pathways. Hence the title of this section.

Since last night, I’ve been turning over some ideas in my mind as to how I find potential free to low-cost venues to exhibit my artwork. One of them is incredibly easy. Ask people. Yeah. I know. This seems like a total no-brainer, doesn’t it?! But remember, I have a network traps that I have to get around before I can arrive at a potential solution to some of my marketing woes. Asking people doesn’t mean I’m going to get any kind of useful information either.*

So, now what:

Well, I have some emails to write. There is not guarantee that any of my inquires will result in any kind of low to no-cost exhibit or gallery spaces being located. Asking for help is sometimes a difficult thing for me to do. I  don’t want to appear to be desperate. Because we all know, that is not a good look on anyone! There’s also a part of me thinks that at my age, I should already have all of this stuff figured out. I should know what I’m doing…more than half of the time.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday.

*This clip is from the movie Gone with the Wind. The movie is paints an incredibly favourable view of the enslavement of black people within the US before and after the United States Civil War 1861-1865. I assure you, it was an abhorrent, despicable institution that remains a deep scar in the American consciousness. The movie was made in the late 1930’s and one several Academy Awards. Most notably Hattie McDaniel one a best supporting actress award for the role of Mammy. The role of Pork was played by Oscar Polk, whose acting career was cut much too short in 1949. It’s Oscar Polk that is shown in the ‘Askin’ ain’t gettin'” gif.

 

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Exhibition Art for Sale!

My art exhibit in the Käytävä Galleria at Matara in January generated an increase in the interest in my larger pieces of artwork. And by generated interest, I mean, I sold some of my artwork! It was an instance in which the ‘happy dance’ was done in the privacy of my own living room. Well away from anyone I might blind with my Elaine Benes-like dance moves!

It’s different for a reason:

I’ve added four of the pieces of artwork that I showed at Käytävä Galleria to my shop. These pieces differ a great deal from the artwork that I have in my shop currently. A big reason for this is because the artwork that I created required that it be hung on a wall, and not displayed in a case or behind glass.

Each of these pieces of art have metal hanging hardware so that they can easily be placed upon a vertical surface. Well out of reach of a little person or pet that might find them an irresistible attraction. Adults who may want to touch the artwork are something that will simply have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

New art:

I’ve added y Tragedia, Point of Conception, Sister Bougainvillea and Blue Doll #10 to the shop. Click on their names and it will take you directly to their page in the shop! There has also been additional video added for each piece in my Instagram Highlights. I’ve had to abbreviate the names a little bit though! Some of the titles I chose were a bit verbose I suppose.

If you have any questions regarding these four pieces of artwork, or any of the artwork that I have for sale in my shop, please feel free to contact me!

Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday!

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Challenges Not Anticipated by the Artist

Hello everyone! I’ve been absent from my regular Friday blog posts for a little while haven’t I? There are some extremely good reasons for this. ‘Busy’ doesn’t come close to describing it. However, my brain is still tired and my thoughts a tad on the mushy-side. So please bear with me as I attempt to explain my short absence.

Work, work, work:

December 2020 and these first two weeks of January 2021 turned into some kind of ‘perfect storm’ of many, many important deadlines and events for myself and my husband. Some of them were the regular holiday-related events. Others were a bit more complicated. Involving a lot of paperwork and scheduling. Oh! And I forgot that I decided to run a sale at my website shop.

I had begun the physical work or creating several entirely new pieces for an art exhibit at the Käytävä Galleria at Matara here in Jyväskylä in October 2020. By December, I was working non-stop at finishing the artwork for the show. Working on them occupied all of my time. It’s all I did from the time by rear-end hit my desk chair in the morning, until my husband told me it was time for bed.

It needs to be noted that I could not have completed the artwork for the exhibit without the tireless mental and physical support of my husband. He absolutely did yeoman’s duty in getting his own work (business, creative and the running of the household) done. In addition to the additional paperwork. AND taking care of me while I created artwork!

Then he went and helped me hang the exhibit! Damn. I knew I married the right man.

Art exhibit:

The artwork I created for Käytävä Galleria at Matara will be on exhibit until 5 February 2021. All of the pieces are for sale except for two. I plan on adding the pieces to my online shop the week after I take the exhibit down in February. The two pieces that are not for sale are ones that I feel additional work completed before I could offer them for sale.

I will be returning to Matara on Monday 18 January to complete a few repairs to a piece that was damaged slightly in transport. Pictures and videos of my artwork will be added to my Instagram and my website, so that those who are unable to see the exhibit in person.

Important lessons:

First, let me say, DAMN. Creating a body of new artwork for an art exhibit is hard work! I’m no stranger to creating pieces of artwork for exhibits either. I

specifically decided to create all new pieces of artwork for this exhibit. Initially because any artwork displayed needed to be hung on the wall. This alone would have been enough of a creative challenge. But there were additional challenges that I had no readily been aware of.

There were two major differences in the way in which I found myself thinking and physically working on the artwork. #1) I was creating an entirely new body of artwork from scratch. #2) I am the only artist being shown in the exhibit.

Clearly there were going to be some lessons to be learned. Important lessons that will potentially aide me in the creation of additional artwork for subsequent art exhibits in my future.

Let’s look at #1:

Being  a solo art exhibit, there was a great sense of freedom and control. I could create whatever I wanted! Creating entirely new pieces of artwork would be fantastic! Ideas that I had been putting off, or pushing to the side could be explored. New materials and techniques could be utilized too. Whoo-hoo! Cool! Let’s get started!

One of the largest challenges for me from the beginning of the physical art creation was the fact that I was working on multiple large pieces at the same time. Over the past few years, I’d unconsciously continued utilizing one of the parameters of the Creative Experiment: Do not start a piece of artwork until the one you are working on is completed.

This became problematic, as each of the pieces of art I was working on for the exhibit needed to be worked on simultaneously. I managed to work on several pieces at the same time during some of the initial stages of construction. Mostly during the cardboard, newsprint and glue portions of creation.

Endless juggling:

As time wore on, and I was working on more details for each individual piece. I was having a harder and harder time putting one piece down to work on one of the other pieces. My mind would become so wrapped-up in working on a single piece of artwork, that I would spend too much time working on it. While leaving the other pieces alone.

To combat this, I created a graph with a section for each piece of artwork. The graph detailed the specific work that needed to be completed for each individual piece until it was finished. This did help quite a bit. But I think how I used the graph requires some finer tuning to be more effective for me as a creative.

I plan on working on these challenges while creating the artwork for an art exhibit that is a little less than a year in the future. The different challenges that I experienced creating my most recent artwork and readying it for exhibition will no doubt be of help!

And now, #2:

Showing my artwork in a solo exhibit is something I’ve only done once in the past. That was at the Jyväskylä Kaupuniginkirjasto (translation: city library). That exhibit contained pieces that I’d spent the better part of two years creating. The fact that it was only my work displayed was new to me.

Prior to the exhibit at the library, I’d only participated in art shows in which I was one of many artists showing their artwork. One of the more comforting emotional aspects of a group show is that you’re not alone. There are other artists there showing their work. You don’t have to shoulder the success or failure of a group art exhibit alone.

While my husband was helping me hang my work yesterday, all I could think about was how panicked I felt about showing my artwork. It went beyond “Will people like my artwork?” and on to “What if my artwork falls off the walls?” and then further on to “What if people purposefully damage my artwork?” and then finally, “What if people who dislike my artwork then start telling other people how much they think my artwork sucks?!

It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t create artwork on a regular basis. But taking my artwork and hanging it up on a wall and letting other people look at it can be an emotionally terrifying experience. When I say that there are parts of me across town hanging on a wall for people to look at and judge. I’m not kidding around. It makes me feel very vulnerable. And at a loss of control.

Closer examination:

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for any length of time, you know that the challenges of detailed above will be more closely examined over the coming weeks. Coping strategies will be formulated and practiced so that I won’t feel at the mercy of my emotional and physical responses.

Methods of planning out my physical art creation and work will also be implemented. In fact, I was outlining what I wanted to start working on earlier this afternoon. I spent a half an hour running them by my husband before I took a much needed nap under layers of warm, toasty blankets while I watched more snow fall outside the window.

So now what?

Well, I have a lot to do! There is now the time to start implementing some changes I want to make in how I create my artwork. In addition, there are things that I have been pushing back that I can now start outlining and working on. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything pans out muself.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

 

 

 

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Spinning Plates

Outright panic:

The past week has been a blur of work for me. There are so many things to do and not nearly enough time in which to do it. Or at least sometimes so I think. Most of the time, those thoughts come to me as I’m trying to go to sleep. I’m seized with a momentary thunder bolt of cold, stomach-twisting panic. Usually something along the lines of “OH GOD! I WILL NEVER GET THIS ALL DONE BY 11 JANUARY!

After the panic wains, I drift off to sleep thinking about what I plan on doing the next day.

Terribly dull:

Where I am at in the creation of this artwork for Matara is exceedingly un-exciting, all told. Today, I’m finishing up the last of the paint work on a few pieces. Most of the work that I’ve been doing for the past four or five days is the application of sealant to each of the painted pieces.

Dozens and dozens of coats of sealant are applied to my painted pieces. It’s not exciting work at all. Well, not exciting for me until I get past say about five coats. Then the surface starts looking the way that I want it too. It’s strange. There is no specific number of coats of sealant. It’s done when I know it’s done.

Paint, repeat (x3 to 5):

The past week has contained a lot of painting. Painting for me is much more challenging during the long stretches of darkness in Central Finland. My general rule is that I do not mix any new paint colors once the sun goes down. The greater part of one day (around four hours of decent light) was devoted to simply mixing paint!

Once the paint was mixed, I did a few swatches on the pieces to be painted. I had to remix the pinks I used for the doll I’m calling Pink Paddle Cake doll twice. It may sound strange, but I wanted to get a pink that was close to the shade of the pink Necco wafer candies.

The doll I call #10 and another doll that is simply being called the organic one, have been painted as well. The paint was applied in a similar way on both of them. The first layer is an abstract application of four shades of paint (blue for one doll, and violets for the other). Once that layer was dry, sponges were used to add more visual interest and texture to the surface of the piece. The final layer was applied using either aluminum foil, a foam fruit wrapper or bubble wrap.

Antlers or horns:

I never know what to call them. Are they horns? They are kind of antler-ish too I think. I have no idea. I use wood that I find outside near our home. It’s almost impossible for me to come home without some interesting looking stick to add to my collection of art materials.

#10 and the organic doll both have antler-horns. #10 has three and organic doll has two. These pieces don’t get a coat of gesso, just a coat or two of white. Then the color I want them to be. They do get sealant as well. But nowhere near the number of coats that the dolls get.

Full plate:

I’m still creating for my Go Marielle account on Instagram. A new post each day, as well as a longer story on Wednesday. Every work day begins with creating the Go Marielle Advent Calendar posts that I’ve been posting this month. All of my other online/social media work is done in the morning too. Two to three hours is spent on this every morning.

I feel as though I’m failing though. I keep a close eye on my traffic on my website and online store. As well as my numbers of views, likes, followers, etc., on Instagram. My numbers are just not good. In many areas, they are falling. I’m still not using hashtags for Instagram after my shadow ban. I’ve begun using Instagram Stories more. I make sure that I post every single day on my personal Instagram account as well.

Aaaand my numbers keep falling. I try not to let it get to me. What I’m creating right now does not make for terrifically exciting pictorial posts. I’ve not been able to update my shop offerings because I’m working on artwork for an upcoming art show. It is inevitable that some plates are going to crash to the floor while I’m trying to keep them all spinning.

The world is going through a lot right now. My numbers stink right now. I’ll get through it. One foot in front of the other.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

 

 

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50th Trip

One day seems to blend a bit into the next one during this part of the year in central Finland. Sunrise was at 9:22 and sunset was at 14.54 today. We’ve had six years to get used to it. That doesn’t mean that I have to necessarily like it though. The fairy lights, coupled with lovely candles make things cozy. But it doesn’t always help to distinguish the day from the night time.

Daytime, night time, it really doesn’t matter a whole lot to me right now. At any given point of the day or night, I’m usually planted at my desk working on art for the upcoming exhibit in January.

Finalized dates, etc.:

The dates for my exhibit at Matara have been finalized. My artwork will be hung on 11 January and come down on 5 February 2021.

There are all kinds of things that I need to sort out and finish prior to getting to the point in which the work is actually up and on the walls. This time around, I will be taking a taxi instead of riding the bus with my artwork. While I love the busses here, my work did suffer some damage in getting it to a prior show when I took the bus.

I still have no real idea of what I want to call the exhibit either. It will come to me at some point. But as of right now, I just have no flippin’ idea.

Work of the past week:

I’ve spent the greater part of the past week working on a doll I’m calling #10. And finishing up some doll housed sized furniture for my Go Marielle series.

#10 is at the point in which I’m adding layer after layer after layer of gesso to the surfaces of the piece. The head and torso are one piece. The legs are two separate pieces. And the legs are ten small cylinders, about the size of large, American-style Jet Puffed marshmallows. Every one of these pieces gets coated with gesso several dozen times over.

In addition to the gesso work, I’ve also been working on some carved wood antler/horn like elements for #10 and another doll for the show, who at present is nameless. At best I am an amateur at wood carving. The wood I use is what I find laying around outside on the ground.

#10 has some additional wooden elements, inside the square opening in her torso. She also is getting some wooden finger-like appendages on the ends of her marshmallow cylinder arms. You can take a look at the pictures here.

Miniature furniture:

During the times in which I found myself waiting for the gesso on #10 to dry, I began painting the bedroom furniture for my Go Marielle series. I’ve been wanting to create a bedroom set for Marielle for quite a while. The furniture was started when I was waiting for gesso to dry on two other dolls.

All of the furniture that I’ve finished has been painted and sealed. You can see what it looked like prior to painting here. I still need to create a mattress and pillow for the bed. And I have an idea of some nifty little draperies for the bed that I got from Bentley House Minis. I’ve been enjoying her videos so much over the past few months. Especially the cardboard house and furniture.

Seriously. Ara is amazing. The Adams Family doll house she made is just insanely cool!

ANYWAY…

I’ll be working on a bedroom set for Marielle while I’m still working away on the pieces of art for the exhibit at Matara.

What’s with the title of this post?

It’s my birthday today.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

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Goodbye November

Where I am right now:

There was no regular Friday blog post last week. Part of that was due to being mentally a day behind. Another part of that was from being so focused on the artwork I was creating. As I sit perched on the beginning of December, I foresee many instances of forgetfulness like this one.

There are thirty one days left for me to complete the new body of artwork that will be exhibited at Matara in January. All of my attention needs to be focused on finishing the ten pieces of artwork. There’s also a lot of peripheral work to do as well. Signage needs to be written. An artist statement. The artwork also needs to be kitted-out correctly so it can be hung on a wall. Oh, and lots of “Please Do Not Touch” signs to be made.

There’s more to do. But right now. My brain is a little glob of newsprint and glue.

Why I blog:

The two blog post a week that I post are mostly done for myself. It’s a place to put my thoughts about whatever is running rough-shod through them. It’s nice to know that some people do read my blog. And maybe even enjoy it a little. Although sometimes, I think it’s in more a rubber-necking kind of way! Ha! “Look at that crazed woman! She’s so messed-up!”

Writing and posting twice a week during the month of December is just not do-able for me. Looking at everything else I have on my plate, letting go of one of the blog posts a week would allow me a little breathing room. Changing the remaining blog post into an update on the progress I’m making in the creation of the artwork for Matara seems logical to me.

So, for the month of December 2020, I will only post on Fridays. And those blog posts will be an update on my artwork creation and preparations for the January 2021 Matara art exhibit.

What I’m working on right now:

I know it’s not Friday, but I’ll give an update anyway. Currently, I’m working on a doll I’m calling #10. She’s come together quite quickly. I’m already at the point in which I’m adding several layers of newsprint and glue. I would like to be painting her white by tomorrow evening. And have her gessoed and prepped for a finished surface by the end of the week.

Unlike many of my other dolls, she ‘came together’ in the oddest way. I made her legs first. I used an Erittäin Hieno Suomalainen shampoo and conditioner bottles. We’ve used their shampoo and conditioner since moving here. The blueberry is the one we use. It smells wonderful!

There was a little question in my mind that the newsprint and glue might not adhere to the plastic bottle the way I would need it to. Creating the legs first made sense. If it worked, I could continue. If it didn’t, I’d have to come up with something else.

You can take a look at my progress in my Instagram.

So what now?

Well, right now, I have to get back to work. There is so much artwork to make. So many things to write. Insane amounts of things to do. As you can see, I do not take the offer of showing my artwork to the public lightly!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again on Friday…and several Fridays after that.

 

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Two Art Exhibits

Exhibiting my artwork:

2021 is going to be a busy year for me.

Not long after I had announced that I would be taking a short break from blogging, something unexpected happened. I was contacted by the Suomen Käsityön Museo regarding my artwork. More specifically, I was asked if I would like to exhibit my artwork in a window gallery that the museum has.

It took me a few minutes to mentally digest the invitation offered to me by the museum. Part of me thought that perhaps I was reading it incorrectly. Another part of me thought that I was sent the invitation by mistake. But it was a real, sincere invitation to exhibit my artwork! Cool!

So, long story somewhat longer, I will be exhibiting my artwork in the window gallery of the Suomen Käsityön Museo in Jyväskylä during December 2021 until February 2022. I know that it seems like a long time off in the future. But from where I see it, it’s right around the corner!

Matara exhibit:

Part of what I think is incredibly cool about the Suomen Käsityön Museo exhibit, is that it is at the end of 2021. I am exhibiting my artwork at Matara in January 2021. My year begins and ends with me exhibiting my artwork! Honestly, part of me is a little scared by both of these exhibits. It’s kind of a ‘put-up or shut-up’ set of circumstances for me as a working artist.

Communicating my ideas:

I have been working steadily over the past few months on the new pieces of artwork that I will be exhibiting at Matara in January. What I’ve discovered that creating a cohesive body of artwork is a much different experience than creating a single, stand-alone piece of artwork.

The Creative Experiment was one in which I worked on one piece until it was finished. Once finished, I started another. No piece of artwork was left unfinished. And no new piece of artwork was started until the previous one had been completely finished. This experiment had many different goals. But focusing on one piece of artwork at a time became increasingly important as the experiment progressed.

A different point of view:

When I sat down and started planning the pieces that I wanted to create for the Matara exhibit, I couldn’t just think about one piece of artwork at a time. A theme needed to be chosen and woven through all of the artwork that was to be created. The theme could vary in the degree to which it applied to each individual piece of art. But it needed to be present.

There was also the interesting creative challenge of creating new pieces of artwork that would be displayed on a vertical surface to consider. How would the themes I had chosen to with translate well in a vertical format? Would the themes be apparent to the viewer?

A big question for me was; what if the themes began to change as I worked on the individual pieces of art? This is an extremely frequent occurrence for me while I’m creating my artwork. Could the changes of theme in individual pieces of art alter the entire exhibit?

Organization:

To make sure that I wasn’t overwhelming myself with the endless possibilities of ‘what if’ questions, I needed to give myself a mental structure to adhere to. Something that wasn’t too confining. That could change according to my individual creative mental requirements.

A book format seemed logical to me. The exhibit is a story. The theme is the subject of the exhibit. Each piece of artwork is a chapter in the story. Additional themes and ideas can be woven in to each individual piece of artwork. A beginning and end of the exhibition are required as well. Even if that ‘ending’ requires a sequel.

Once I had decided on the book metaphor, I just needed to adjust where I wanted to put pieces of artwork in the exhibit. There’s also been some tweaking to each piece of artwork here and there. This was done to make sure that my artwork was accurately telling the story I needed it to tell.

Nothing is set in stone:

The aforementioned mental (and creative) organizational methodology may seem a little rigid. But I don’t see it that way. Changes in how I work creatively are always, always, always on the table for me.  Nothing is ever set or carved in stone for me!

There are parts of my personality that are super-flexible and this helps me to evaluate what working methods are beneficial, and which ones that aren’t. If the book metaphor ceases to give me the creative results and mental security that I need, then I’ll change it.

So, now what?

I will continue working on the pieces that I will be exhibiting at Matara in January 2021. As well as formulating new ideas and exploring new themes, materials and techniques for pieces that I will exhibit in December 2021-February 2022. Along the way, I will continue creating Go Marielle stories and posts. And creating and adding new items for sale in my online shop. And then there are the weekly blog posts…and Patreon that I want to get started.

Yeah. I have plenty to keep me busy.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Monday,

 

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New Body of Work

Why create new artwork?

I have an upcoming art show taking place during the month of January 2021. It seems like a long way off in the future, but it’s much sooner that it seems. Creating new artwork specifically for an art show of my own is an amazing multi-level opportunity for me. On one hand, I get to make new and different artwork. And that’s always a good thing! On another hand, it’s good for publicity for myself as a working artist.

It’s just a jump to the left.

The biggest challenge of the gallery space I will be showing my work in is that the artwork all must be hung on the wall. There are no pedestals or cases for three-dimensional artwork. Everything I display must be able to hang on a vertical wall. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I do enjoy an artistic challenge. The learning potential for me as an artist is something I couldn’t pass up once my brain started chewing on it.

The challenge of creating and displaying work vertically also dove-tailed nicely into some ideas that I had been mulling over for quite a while.  In the physical world, display/storage space within my own flat is at a premium. Some of my artwork has begun going up onto the walls as a result. I’ve not been completely pleased with my results though. New methods will need to be devised

Part of that dove-tailing I mentioned, is also thematic for me in the creative sense. The concept of how we ‘store’ and ‘manage’ those intangible portions of our human experience. Where do those memories reside? How do some remain while others drift away into the ether? What effects do these memories, ideas, beliefs have on our present day existence? Do we need to have a place to put these things?

How I create artwork:

The Creative Experiment series of dolls fundamentally changed how I go about creating my artwork. Until just a few weeks ago, I was still unintentionally following one of the original parameters of the experiment; working on a piece until it was finished before starting the next piece. Even when working on the larger Play Set dolls (paper maché) I was still adhering to this parameter.

This method of working just wasn’t going to be efficient for the creation of this new body of artwork. This being said, I felt as though if I began working on several pieces at the same time, that the quality of the artwork would suffer. Suffer mostly because I wasn’t being completely present in the moment when working on an individual piece. I would lose the meaning of what I was creating in the attempt to make more artwork faster.

One bite at a time:

At first, I was a little confused as to exactly how I was going to create the new artwork for the show. The methods I’d employed during the Creative Experiment have served me very well, creatively speaking. But in creating the artwork for this show, I do not have the luxury of spending a month or more on a single piece.

As I went through my drawings and writings over the past few months, distinct themes began to emerge. The themes began to tell a story. I began to see each separate piece of artwork being a chapter of that story. The thematic structure I’ve begun to create has given me something to ‘hang’ the created artwork on.

When I approach each separate piece of artwork as a small part of a larger whole, my brain settles down. I become less anxious. I feel confident that I can work on multiple pieces simultaneously now. This is taking more planning on my part. I’ve outlined six new large pieces that I will create. These pieces will be using papier maché techniques. I’m also integrating a lot of the smaller dolls that I’ve creating as well.

Work has already begun:

Most of the pieces that I’ve been working on that are specifically for the art show are smaller, sewn components. The six small (12 cm) geometric form headed dolls are for a piece that will be in the show. The skeleton doll (30 cm), as well as another doll (30 cm) are also intended for the art show.

I’ve also been collecting a lot of the free materials I use in my artwork as well. Lidl is always a great source of card and carton board. I stumbled-upon a treasure trove of newspaper a month of so ago, and came home with a backpack overflowing with it! With autumn here in Finland, I can also venture outside for natural elements like wood and stone as well.

So now what?

I guess I would say, stay tuned. Because as always, I will be taking a ton of pictures of my artwork as it progresses to share with you!

 

Links:

How to Eat a Whale, Shel Silverstiein

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!; Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)