Got Cabin Fever? No Creative Mojo? Try Frictionless Crafting!

Hi friends! As I write this it’s snowing and already we have about 6 new inches of snow atop what we already had. It’s pretty, I’ll give it that but come March I am pretty stick of cold weather and being stuck inside. Short day and cold temps can have you feeling tired and unmotivated. In today’s video I’ll try to help you overcome it!

It occurred to me that many times when I was lazing on the couch watching TV that I would much rather be creating. Instead I might scroll through my phone hoping to be inspired or start the next episode of a show I am watching. Why am I spending my doing these passive activities when I really want to go make something. The reason is simple. These actions are frictionless.

To start a new project I need to leave the room, think of an idea of what to make, gather supplies, clear a space to work, make the thing and then clean up afterward. It can seem much more appealing to stay put and keep scrolling but you can engineer your crafty time to be more frictionless. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and yes, even YouTube have engineered their platforms to be easy to use and consume more and more. The good news is that you can apply this trick to your crafting!

Overcoming our own blahs…

Complaint: I’m too tired to get off the couch and start a project.

Solution: Keep a portable project kit next to the couch. It can be a knit/crochet project, stamped images and coloring tools, a small set of watercolors or watercolor pencils and a waterbrush and sketchbook or even a subscription box if you have any. That what you can create and not miss an episode of Friends!

Complaint: I don’t know what to make!

Solution: The next time you are scrolling Instagram and a project looks fun stop and go to your supply closet and see if you have the stuff to make it, pull those supplies and save the inspiration photo for reference. Then your workspace will be set up when you have the time to create.
Tip: A great time to pull materials is when you have a 15 minute gap of time like you are preheating an oven or waiting to put laundry in the dryer. Use those “too small to do anything” scraps of time.

Complaint: I hate looking at the white canvas, I don’t know where to start.

Solution: Find a photo of something you want to paint and draw (or trace) it on your canvas. It will be more fun when you return to it if the drawing is done and your materials are laid out.

Basically you are removing as much friction between you and starting that project. You can do it! Think about how easy it is to go on amazon and order craft supplies. It’s frictionless. *Tip, I remove my payment info from my account so if I want to order I have to go find my credit card, see it works both ways LOL! I hope this video inspires you to create today and til next time happy crafting!

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Look what I found when doing my taxes!

Hi friends! I was preparing all of my paperwork to send to my accountant the other day and came across a rather long receipt from a craft store! I couldn’t believe the amount of items on that slip and then I looked at the date. It was a month before I started my big declutter based on the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up two years ago. After recovering from the shock I had a good laugh and thought I’d share the mindset change I have experienced over the past 2 years.

Hey, we all change, make mistakes, learn and grow. I still get the twitch to buy new things and sometimes they are great and sometimes they are a bummer but I make sure I am going to actually use or try out the products I allow into my life. I also think I am better at predicting the amount of supplies I can use up in a reasonable time now than I usd to be. That said I have certain “price points” in my head that if I see a staple supple (like Arches watercolor paper for instance) drop below the cheapest price I have ever paid ($2.50 a 22×30 #140 sheet) I will stock up knowing that I will eventually use it if I have room in my long-term storage file. I do have that limit because it is not a good deal if it is more than I can maintain and it ends up getting damaged.

It is a struggle for me because on one hand I love having a variety of supplies on hand but on the other hand I like a clean space and I get overwhelmed by too many choices. I also think everyone’s “overwhelm vs inspire” point if different, I used to thrive in the mess  but now it paralyzes me. Some people are better at keeping more plates (or supplies) spinning at once and that’s OK too. Don’t feel like you need to get rid of your things if you enjoy them but also don’t feel like you must keep them if they were a mistake to buy. You already paid for that mistake once, don’t keep paying for it. I am not a minimalist. I think that’s why I like Mari Kondo’s book so much, there was no recommend amount of things. If you like it, if it “sparks joy” you keep it. For me focusing on what to keep helped. I know some of you are really sick about hearing about the Konmari method, with the new Netfilx show and everyone either jumping on the bandwagon or rebelling against it so it can be a drag. You do you. I only want you to be creative and enjoy your art & craft time.

Don’t feel bad that you have supplies, use them and find the joy in creativity! Happy crafting!

My #1 Art Tip!

Hi friends!  Want to improve your art? The way is simple, I’ll explain in today’s video!

So the next time you feel like you are afraid that you will ruin a painting go for it anyway. You succeed or you learn! Don’t get stuck in a rut. Art is here to bring you joy and growth is the way to happiness and the way to avoid burnout in your hobby.

Just a reminder, if you feel like you want some help along the way with feedback on your current art projects check out Critique Club. I give personalized feedback on your paintings and you get two real-time tutorials per month in the group. Click here to learn more or sign up!

Happy crafting!

Thoughts on Keeping Cards…

 

Hi friends! I like making cards. I see it as a positive hobby where the fruits of your labor can be enjoyed twice: You get enjoyment making it and then you get joy sending it and another person get’s joy receiving it. I guess that’s 3 times! Many of us have expectations for our cards beyond those 3 joys and that’s what I am talking about today. BTW if you ever get a card from me you have my blessing to discard it whenever you like;)

Don’t let your {or others) expectations dim your light or tarnish your hobby. Make and send cards because that’s why you bought the supplies to begin with and til next time happy crafting!

Have you ever got sick of your hobby?

Hi friends! I apologise for not having a sketchbook Sunday for you today. We celebrate Christmas and we are hosting Christmas Eve this year and traveling on Christmas Day so we have a lot of prep to do today. In addition to store-bought gifts I have been working on secret handmade things as well so even though I am creating like crazy I can’t share the results yet;) This video was made in response too an epiphany while I was working on my yearly scrapbook calendar I make for my parents each year. I used to scrapbook all the time and I really enjoyed it. As I was fighting with my printer that decided to no longer accept heavyweight photo paper and searching the far corners of my computer and phone (my kids phones and facebook friends photos) for enough 2018 photos to fill the 12 page calendar scrapbook I longed for the day when we had one device that took pictures and then we picked up the stack of photos, such as they were, at the photo lab. There wasn’t the endless amount of options for taking photos, editing, enlarging, and printing. What we had was “good enough” and it was certainly a lot more efficient and fun!

As I was working on selecting, resizing and editing my photos I was listening to a “best products” of 2018 video and they were talking about a new tool that was just the same as another tool we all have and have been using for years but it had a different grip and color so it was so worth adding to out hoard and it hit me! This is what has been bugging me about cardmaking!

  • The same tools and products rebranded as “new”
  • Super specific “life changing” tools and supplies that do only 1 thing (non-versatile) that you need to store, find and remember what you bought it for. These items take up space and take longer to find and use than any time they are theoretically supposed to save.
  • Constant churn of supply releases. New stamps released every month only to be discontinued the next moth so people feel like you need to get it while you can. I reminds me of fast fashion. Rubber stamps are designed to pretty much last forever but many people (myself included) have stamps that have only been used once and some that have never met an ink pad!
  • Slightly different versions of the same thing such as nesting frame dies with stitching, double stitching, wavy stitching, (stitching holes) changes up year upon year so you never quite feel “on trend” and the collector aspect of the hobby makes you feel like you should add each new version to your stash. There is also “full set syndrome” where you feel the need to own every color in a product line or every peice of a collection.

The #1 thing that annoys me though is the planned obsolescence of items that can theoretically last forever. If I buy a stamp (I really like stamps!) and use it on a project to share with you and then you can’t find it because it has been discontinued you might get upset with me that you can’t find it so I feel bad using the older stuff but on the other hand I like the stuff I already have more than many of the new things and I also think you can substitute images and supplies for what you have and prefer, otherwise all our cards will look the same and what fun is that?  I will discuss that and more in today’s video.

What do you think? Have you been feeling the same thing? I have to admit I also felt a bit horrified that I could be contributing to this feeling in others by reviewing products and in my tutorials. If I have made you feel overwhelmed instead of inspired I apologise. Please know that the work you make is enough. You are enough. Sometimes I feel that companies market on the premise that you are missing out and who you are and what you have is not good enough but let me set the record straight. You are enough. No stamp, die or watercolor set will make you a better artist. It is within you and anyone who makes you doubt that is wrong. Hobbies are meant to enjoy, art is there to inspire and taking part in these activities should foster a sense of growth and challenge yourself to improve and gain mastery and satisfaction. Shopping and collecting can be fun, no doubt, and as makers we see the potential in everything. In an age where it is so easy to add to our stash we must be vigilant to make sure it does not subtract from out creativity. Did any of this make sense to you? Maybe I am the only one who has had these feelings lately and if so it’s probably good because I don’t want others to be overwhelmed but if you were feeling like this I hope it helped. Happy crafting!

Can Reviews Really Be Unbiased?

Hi friends! I was listening to a TED talk a couple of months ago and the presenter was talking about how food can taste better when we are on vacation or having a good time. He said you can order the same food or take home a bottle of wine that you enjoyed on vacation but it just doesn’t taste as good as it did when you first tried it. It seems that the mood we are in when we are trying something for the first time can heavily influence how good we perceive it to be. I think we can perceive art supplies to be good or poor depending on our mood as well. That is just one of the ways we can be biased in our product reviews. I will go more into that as well as other ways product reviews might be biased in today’s video!

So we discussed unintentional bias as well as intentional bias or I should say a conflict of interest but there’s more…

Another reason that I didn’t mention in the video is the rise and popularity of hate/rant videos. Honestly it didn’t even cross my mind when I recorded this because I don’t think it’s fun or funny to destroy someone’s business for clicks, views and entertainment but unfortunately many on YouTube do. Titles like “I hate these paints” or “this product’s is a rip-off” or “I got scammed”  get lots of views. Often I see reviewers try a product knowing full well that they are not going to like it just so they can rant and rave about it or they try a complex product for the first time on camera and get frustrated and deem the product worthless. I read comments like “I’m so glad I didn’t spend the money on that!” or “I was going to buy that but not now” and if the product truly is bad that’s fine but more often than not the reviewer has not taken the time to learn about it. These “salty” reviews are so popular and I don’t think the youtubers making them think about the consequences of their actions. I think honesty is the best policy and if there are problems with a product let people know but only after making sure you are using it correctly.

There have been times where I have had a company ask me to try a product and see what I think and when I noticed a problem with it they changed the product and improved it. If I was to rant online about what I didn’t like a fledgling company could go under and we would never see how a good idea could flourish into a great one.

Unfortunately honesty and integrity doesn’t always get the views. It’s not as fun to listen to facts as it is to see someone get all wound up. This makes me sad. On the bright side there are still many talented artists on YouTube that do very unbiased reviews: Steve from The Mind of Watercolor, Marty from Owings Art, Denise from In Liquid Color, Teoh from Parka Blogs and so many more! I say this because I want to be sure you can ascertain whether a reviewer has been serious about testing a product and reviewing it or has a different agenda. The rise of the “drama channel” has infiltrated the art world and lots of people enjoy those videos. Just think about facts vs entertainment. I try to do both but not at the expense of the education and information I am trying to convey.  Nobody can be completely unbiased when we all have preferences and opinions as well as fluctuating moods when trying out products but we can avoid being willfully misleading. I love to watch reviews, I love learning about new products and seeing if what I have already is similar to the new thing on the market. I actually look for reviews on products I own to get excited about using them again!

Why do you watch reviews?  Information, entertainment or both? I think as long as you take them with a grain of salt and maybe look at the past reviews of a person before trusting them completely (so many drama-rant channels) you can figure out what’s what. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

No time for art?

Hi friends! The other day I got an interesting comment on a video and it was food for thought. I discuss it in today’s video!

If I waited for the perfect time to create…

  • I wouldn’t have a blog.
  • I would never have uploaded a YouTube video, much less have 1900+ videos in my archive.
  • I wouldn’t have volunteered to teach art in schools.
  • I wouldn’t have been published in art and painting magazines.
  • I wouldn’t have illustrated two children’s books.
  • I wouldn’t be making my living as an artist.

I would be unhappy, anxious, and full of regret. While all of my projects may not be perfect the time spend making them enriches my life and hopefully others. It is a crazy proud feeling to see work that someone has done from one of your tutorials. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that you inspired someone else to take action and create something. There is no perfect time for art, in fact often if I get a whole day to create what I want I a struggle with “analysis paralysis” because I have too many options on what I can do. If I only have 30 minutes I jump in and pick something. Fun fact: That’s what I start my drawing course with 30 second timed sketches-no time to worry about perfect!

If I worried about having enough time to do everything perfectly I wouldn’t exercise, clean, volunteer, have friends over or make art. I don’t want to live like that, do you? …are you?

You can get so much done if you abandon perfect and take back those scraps of time and spend them intentionally.

And while we are at it let’s stop comparing our art with other people’s art (or judging other peoples art because when you point the finger you have 3 pointing back at you.) We can be inspired by scrolling through social media and looking at the lovely things others have created and that’s great but if you find yourself feeling bad or jealous and down on yourself because you haven’t made anything in a while (ot because their craft room is prettier than yours) it’s time for a break. I get it though, it’s easy to pick up your phone and scroll when you are not feeling like you have enough time to get anything done, but before you know it 20 minutes is gone in a flash and you have nothing to show for it. It seems like we have less time because it is so easily snatched away from us without us realizing it. We need to take back those scraps of time! I remember back when if you wanted to be social and share art you packed up your supplies in a rolling tote and met at a local scrapbook store and created together. All of out supplies fit in one bag and we got so much more done! How about a little more social and a lot less media?

I didn’t intend to go on a rant today and I don’t want to take up any more of your precious time my dear friends:) Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and let me know what you are going to work on the next time you have 20 minutes. I bet you have some good ideas! I want to wrap this up saying that you should spend YOUR time however you want, it’s yours. Be intentional because you only get one chance on this crazy planet so make it a good one! Have a great night and til next time happy crafting!

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