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!