Thursday, December 31, 2015

ReCap of 2015 - WHEW!

So another year is ending and in a few short hours we will be welcoming 2016.  Personally and professionally speaking, this past year has been a splendid one, overall.

Personally I've had to face some health challenges this year, but overall nothing too serious.  Every day I'm starting to feel better, and I'm making some big dietary changes in the coming year to ensure these challenges continue to improve.  I'm currently reading a fascinating book called "The China Study" by Dr. T. Collin Campbell - and let me tell you, some of the information is chilling.  I'm looking forward to growing more of my own food this year, and am planning a huge vegetable and herb garden in my backyard.  My grandparents were farmers and always said "eat from the earth and stay away from processed foods."  I may be a bit late getting into to the game, but you can now officially count me in as a player!  

I also resurrected a couple of friendships and let go of a few relationships that were no longer thriving.  Like gardens, friendships and relationships sometimes need to be weeded in order to let the "good stuff" grow.

On the art front, I sold scores of paintings over the year - so many I lost count.  In fact, I sold 53 paintings in four (4) hours at my "Pay What You Think It's Worth" sale that I held in July, 2015.  You can read more details about that here.

Besides selling lots of art, I made a lot of art!  In January, 2015 I participated in another Leslie Saeta's "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge and pulled out my dusty box of oil paints for the event.  Here's a collage of the paintings I made:

January, 2015 "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge - oil paints on canvas and wood panels

Then in April, 2015, I took the plunge and joined a "100 Artworks Challenge" sponsored by Kellee Wynne Conrad.  Here's a collage of 30 of the 100 paintings I made for that event.  The theme was "Abstract Vessels in Neutrals/Limited Palette"and inspired by Giorgio Morandi.
30 of the 100 paintings I created for the "100 Artworks Challenge" - mixed media on paper using a limited palette

September, 2015 was downright hectic.  After coming down off the "high" of selling a ton of art at the "Pay What You Think It's Worth" show, I started preparing my home studio for the 2015 Sac Open Studios event.  The event takes place over 2 weekends - and my studio is open on the second weekend.  I love this because it gives me a chance to get out on the first weekend and see some amazing art and meet so many fabulous artists!  I also had one of my paintings displayed at Verge Center for the Arts  and donated the piece for their annual auction, where it sold for over-asking price.

In addition to doing the Open Studio show in September, I participated in yet another "30 Paintings in 30 Days" - this time focusing on small abstract seascapes on paper.  Nearly every single one of them are sold, and I think I've found a new favorite subject. 
September, 2015 "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge - abstract seascapes in mixed media on paper
Surprisingly, big sellers for me were small works on paper, mounted in white mats and sealed in cellophane envelopes.  Apparently making small, affordable art (all priced under $95) that can easily slip into a standard-sized frame is a good idea!  I had always struggled with painting small works on paper because my mind got wrapped up in the finishing details (frames).  After deciding to forego purchasing tons of frames and doing it all myself, I now create the paintings and let the collectors do the framing themselves.  Win/win!

In January, 2014 I gave up the studio at ArtHouse on R to work from my home studio and focus on marketing my work.  That year, my art was accepted into two new galleries - both of which have since closed.  This was the final straw for me, since I had been selling with galleries for many years (since 1999 with my glass art and 2005 with my paintings).  I loved all of my gallery owners and did fairly well selling my art through their venues, but recognize it's a very difficult business to thrive in (in part due to high rents; employee costs; taxes; marketing; utilities; insurance and more).  I've been in countless galleries since 1999, and each and every single one of them have closed due to economics.  I know a lot of artists have horror stories about working with galleries, but I'm happy to report I only had one issue and it was ultimately  resolved to both parties satisfaction. 

I don't have a crystal ball, but my gut tells me more bricks and mortar galleries will be closing rather than opening in the coming years.  I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket by relying on a gallery to generate my income, and with my looming questions about the future of showing my work in galleries, this past year I decided it was time to begin marketing on-line (again).  I used to market my work on-line very successfully up until 2009 when I decided to share a studio with another artist friend at ArtHouse on R.  I was  trying to "do it all" while working full time and trying to work at the studio.  Needless to say the on-line market dried up quickly and a few of the sites disappeared entirely.  

In January of this year, I took a hard look at where I've been (galleries and on-line) and where I wanted to be (a successful, self-supporting full-time artist).  In addition to the foregoing, here are a few of the things I've done to market my art this past year:

  • Re-designed my Facebook Fan Page that you can LIKE and follow here:
  • In March I resurrected my neglected monthly "Coming Abstractions" newsletter - sign up here
  • In April I signed up with Fine Art America  where you can buy images of some of my art in paper and metal prints, pillows, shower curtains, phone covers & more - check it out here
  • In May, 2015 I opened a shop on the juried ArtFinder site - see my store here:  
  • In September, 2015 I was selected to launch a store on the new Amazon Marketplace which is supposed to challenge ETSY-we'll see.  Here's my Amazon Shop where I've listed a few seascapes.
  • This past week I opened a shop on Saatchi Art - see it here
  • I began teaching classes in my home studio and will be setting up a new schedule shortly.  Classes will include:  fused glass ornaments; fused glass garden art; fused glass wind chimes; basic abstract painting; mixed media collage; assemblage art; and more.  You can find a schedule of those classes on my Creative Soul Revival website here.  Or follow my CSR Facebook Fan Page here:   
On January 1, 2016 I will begin my sixth "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge with the Leslie Saeta group, and am happy to report there will be nearly a dozen other artists in the Sacramento area participating with me.  I'll be uploading my daily paintings to this blog and listing them for sale in my on-line stores.  My new series will be called "Reflections."  I'm redoing old paintings and turning them into a new series of abstracts.  It's part of my "using what I already have" resolution for the coming year.

Next year I'm planning to be even more focused on creating a thriving art business, and I look forward to having you follow the journey if you're interested - particularly if you're another artist or want to start making and selling your own art.  I'm happy to freely share my failures and successes, and hope you'll ask lots of questions and share your own experiences.

Cheers to wrapping up a successful 2015 filled with mostly positive and successful memories, and I wish each and every one of you a creative and prosperous New Year! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holidays Gone Bad

"Searching....." - 5" x 5" mixed media on paper - $65 mounted in 10" x 8" mat
For many, the Holidays are filled with traditions, happy times and lots of cheer.  Spending time with friends and family make these weeks a memorable season for young and old alike.

However, for countless others, the Holidays are a dreaded time of year, filled with loneliness, misgivings and dark thoughts.  Some people attribute these emotions to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), blaming the condition on shorter days and winter weather conditions.  But sometimes it's just the way someone is wired or ones memories of past events that cause these people to wish for a fast-forward button through the Holiday season. Sometimes life as we know it just got an atomic bomb dropped on top of it and the world we've been living in is going to change forever. 

And then again, sometimes it's because someone receives some really shitty news that blows their mind beyond imagination.

Last week, two of my friends were hit with gut-wrenching, life-changing, devastating news.  One friend was diagnosed with inoperable Stage IV cancer and given 12-18 months to live. My other friend was told she has a very rare and deadly blood disease and is at the Mayo Clinic right now trying to figure out what treatment options she has, if any. 

Bloody F-ing Hell.  Obviously, both of my friends are completely and thoroughly gutted at the news and their families, friends and my Self are numb.  What does a person say when this something like this happens?  I'm simply at a loss for words.  And for someone who used to write a weekly newspaper column for 12 years, I think it's just wrong that I just can't come up with the words to express my sorrow and pain for my friends; for their families and loved ones; for me; and for each and everyone affected by this horrendous news. 

I stopped writing professionally in 2000 and have struggled with my written words since then.  I never used to have a problem penning a quick missive about my thoughts, feelings or emotions, and was always succinct even though sometimes verbose.  People counted on me to write the "right thing" no matter what the occasion. 

But something shifted for me after 2000.  I can't put my finger on what or where or why, but the words no longer flow.  It's as if my Muse has left the building and been replaced with another Muse who creates visually vs. through the written word. 

So I'm stuck being a visual,  "bottom-line" type of gal.  It's how I've survived these past 15 years and it has given me a reputation for being blunt and sometimes uncaring.  It's like someone gave me an injection of truth serum and it's one of those 24/7/365 types of drugs.  I'm sure some people would pay big bucks for this "condition" but I am kind of embarrassed by it.  I developed a potty mouth.  I continually drop the "F" bomb instead of "using my words."  And I've paid a big price for being this way, and I'm not proud of it. 

So two weeks ago when I heard about my first friend (a beyond beautiful woman inside and out), I cried.  And I swore.  I hadn't cried in years, but this really hit me.  I swore even more and used the "F" word with so many phrases I blew the alliteration record off the charts.

Without getting too specific, here's the scoop on my one friend:  she's not even 50 - has a 6-year old son and a 27-year old daughter and a wonderful husband.  She's beautiful and she's smart and she's truly good - not catty or mean or hateful but kind, generous and caring.  How can something like cancer even get to her? 

And my other friend?  Another beautiful, compassionate Soul who counsels and helps other people day in and day out.  She has a wonderful family; lovely grandchildren and a quiet, Zen-like life. For awhile, she had been having some problems with her feet, and then nearly 1.5 years later, she finds out the cause is a very rare and possibly deadly blood disease?  Mon Dieu - the questions that must be running through her mind.....

So many questions, and so few answers.  Lots of questions and tons of waiting.  The waiting is what kills you......I know we all know people in this situation and I'm not whining or looking for sympathy.  I am however, asking the questions I think each and every single one of us ask when we hear this type of news, whether it be directed towards another family member; friend or even ourselves.....and those questions include:


I know a lot of people whose lives were derailed these past two weeks and it makes me emotional just thinking about it.  And this time instead of swearing, I think I just need to start saying lots of prayers and remain positive and upbeat, knowing life has a way of sometimes kicking our asses and making us stand up to pay attention. 

And trust me - I'm fully aware.  Sorry for the downer post - all of the social media posts are sharing adorable "Merry Christmas" photos and sentiments, but all I can think right  now is "Wow.  Merry Christmas."  I'm just not feeling it and quite frankly, it is what is is.

So instead, I'm painting.  And the painting above is what I made while thinking about this beyond crappy situation.  The words are there - and so is the house floating down the river......  It shows someone's world being dropped on its side and floating downstream.....and I'm praying with all my strength and might that the house(s) float downstream; right themselves (heal) and live a long and happy life ever after. 

Still - I want to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday and if you're experiencing anything like this, just know my heart aches for you too and my prayers and thoughts will be with you and your families.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Handmade Ornament Swap

Earlier this month, my talented beading friend Karen Williams hosted a "Handmade Ornament Swap" and I  jumped on board.  I was paired with an incredibly talented beader and chain maille artist,  Tanya Goodwin from Kansas.  We quickly connected and exchanged information, then I went to my studio to see what I could make.

I'm in awe of what "true beaders" create and am in love with their intricate designs.  However, I know my skill and patience level are shall we say, lacking?  Knowing my limitations, I set out to make a fused glass/lamp-worked bead design that might delight my partner.

Here's what Tanya sent me - and I have to tell you I was gobsmacked when I opened the package that came in the mail.

Chain Maille Christmas Tree pendant/ornament made with tiny green rubber rings and teeny anodized aluminum jump rings with a pendant holder and sweet gold star added - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!

After I drooled a bit over the beautiful Christmas tree pendant (currently being used as an ornament),  I noticed there was another little package in the box, waiting to be opened. 

One side of the beautiful beaded flower/star beaded ornament

The other side of the beautiful beaded flower/star beaded ornament

Inside was an exquisite two sided flower/star ornament made with the tiniest beads ever in the exact oceany colors that I have in my living and dining rooms.  This ornament has amazing texture and dimension, and is going to be staying in my living room year-round.  It's simply beautiful and perfect in every way, and I'm beyond thrilled.  Thank you Tanya - you rock!!!

So this was what I sent Tanya - a 3.5" x 3.5" square glass ornament/window catcher made of fused glass with a "hangy-dangy" made with torched glass/lamp worked beads.

My humble offering - a fused glass ornament/sun catcher

3.5" x 3.5" square fused glass with dichroic "goobers" and noodles in shape of a Peace sign

Lamp worked beads with copper findings - "hangy-dangy" attached to bottom of Peace symbol

What a fun ornament swap and once again I was blessed to have been paired with yet another wonderfully generous and talented partner.  This was the first ornament exchange I've ever done and I'm grateful to Karen for hosting the challenge and for letting me participate (Karen and I "met" years ago when we were each other's partner for a Bead Soup exchange).  Merry Christmas to Tanya and Karen and their families, and to all of you too - I hope your Holidays are filled with lots of peace, love and joy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New Seascapes in Oils

Last Friday I dropped off 9 new paintings for my show at FE Gallery which opens 12-12-15.  I don't know about any of you, but I get so nervous about showing new work in a gallery.  I fret about the small details, making sure everything is properly varnished, signed and finished "just right" then writing an inventory list; determining pricing; photographing each piece and loading everything into the car - it's a lot of work!!  Honestly - sometimes I think painting the new paintings is the easiest part of preparing for a show.

After I delivered the work (the gallery owner loved it, thank God!) I came home and made a cup of tea.  I sat down to drink the tea and basically planned on rewarding myself by being a couch potato for the rest of the day, but instead I was energized and inspired to pull out my oil paints.

I grabbed some old Masonite panels I had lying around and quickly painted 13 backgrounds in oil paint.  Over the next few days I added some more details and here's three of the finished paintings.
"Stormy Waves" - 5" x 7" oil on masonite - SOLD

"A Rocky Cove" - 5" x 5" oil on masonite - SOLD

"Tropical Waves" - 5" x 7" oil on masonite - $70

"Stormy Waves" sold to a dear friend who was visiting over the weekend, but the other two seascapes are available for purchase on my Artfinder Store (along with other paintings).  I'm looking forward to finishing the other panels before Christmas, then am taking a week off to prepare for my upcoming "Reflections" series I'll be doing for the "30 Paintings in 30 Days" challenge that starts January 1, 2016.

I'm on a mission to add larger works to my collection and working with more designers and art consultants in the new year.  I love making the small paintings and they do sell well, but I miss moving and dancing around while I paint the larger pieces.  I know somewhere there's a happy medium for this prolific artist!