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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The Old Coat…

Last weekend I did a bit of sewing that I didn’t share. Honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to anyone by me but I thought I’d share the story as it might motivate you.

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Twenty years ago I was fairly fresh out of college and working in my chosen field of radio broadcasting making about $5.50 an hour, working odd overnight and early morning airshifts and the odd DJ gig at various bars and roller skating rinks. If it sounds glamorous let me assure you it was! I was being paid in fun and for a 21-year-old you really couldn’t ask for more. I needed a nice winter coat and it had to look smart because working in radio in the 90’s with deregulation and small stations being bought up by larger companies you never knew when you came in for work each day if you would have a job or if your station would have new owners and would have fired everyone. Hence I had to look good for my constant hobby of interviewing for new jobs. I went into TJ Maxx on a mission and found the most beautiful burgundy wool coat that was tailor-made for me it seemed. It was double-breasted, knee-length with a fabulous weight and the perfect color. It was also $60 so I thought long and hard about buying it as it was easily half of my take home pay that week. I bought it and never once regretted that purchase. I rarely carry a purse so my keys would rip holes in the pockets which I mended. I replaced buttons after they gave out from getting caught in the holes of my laundry baskets from my pre house owning trips to the laundromat and later getting caught in shopping carts lifting my kids for cart to car seat. That coat saw me through many adventures.

About 2 years ago I had to face facts, the pockets could no longer be mended and the lining was in tatters. Mending might not be able to cut it this time. Feeling fairly competent I bought a couple of yards of burgundy satin (for $8 at Mardens-a local discoutn fabric store) and a matching spool of thread and decided I would sew a new lining for my coat. Now, I am the type of person who needs to jump in and do a project the moment I get inspired because If I spend to long thinking about it or researching different ways to do it I get overwhelmed. I read too many tutorials, I asked to many proper sewists how they would do it and ultimately I did nothing.  The coat sat in my closet unworn while I grabbed lesser coats to wear outside. Because I felt fat and dumpy in my other coats I didn’t want to go out often in the cold. I didn’t pop into the library to grab a book and chat with the librarian when I was out, I didn’t feel good about myself in those coats so I would simply wait in the car to pick up my kids, heaven forbid if anyone saw me. All that wasted time, even if it was just a few minutes it was wasted.

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As you know over the past year I had held each of my possessions in my hand and asked if they “sparked joy” and my old red coat still made me happy yet I kept those other very “unsparky” coats because I needed something I could actually wear outside (and quite frankly if you are going to do any serious work or play outside in the snow you want a machine washable parka.) Because of undergoing the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I had fallen down the rabbit hole of other mindfulness and minimalism bloggers and last Saturday I happened to be reading an article about fast fashion. The article referenced a documentary on Netflix and I had a burst of motivation. I grabbed my sewing kit, beautiful coat and fabric and set to work on mending my coat as I watched the documentary. I started by cutting out the pockets and using them as templates to make new ones out of satin. I sewed them on my machine then hand stitched them in to my coat. I examined the lining which was the most overwhelming task and realized that most of the tears were on seams so I hand stitched the small awkward rips and machine sewed the rest. Turns out it was not as big of a project as I thought! By the end of the hour and a half documentary (which was not that great) I had a fully functional coat! I dug out my Dryell home dry cleaning kit that I haven’t used in over a decade and cleaned my coat (and I was super excited to see they still make Dryell! It is such a fantastic invention!) and it looked fabulous. I realized it had lost a button at some point but I had a matching one in my stash so I stitched that on and it was as good as new. Maybe better than new because the satin I made the pockets from was thicker and sturdier than the original. It also made me glad I didn’t rip out the lining because I think the satin might have been too stiff to work as a lining fabric. Here is my 22-year-old coat as good as new and still my favorite!

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The old saying goes: “They don’t make them like they used to…” and in this case I agree. I had tried on other coats over the years thinking that I could just replace my old beloved red wool coat but the coats I found felt cheap, flimsy and just didn’t feel right or make me feel the way I wanted to in them. I think we often try to buy something because we think it will rekindle the feeling we had when we bought a similar thing. That’s why fast fashion has such popularity, you can buy something new and cheap to replace something old and dull but the novelty soon wears off. I think that the amount of thought you put into a purchase is related to the enjoyment you will get out of it.

I have grown a lot over the past year of decluttering. Two years ago when I bought the fabric and spool of thread to take on this project I thought I was being smart and thrifty. Turns out I already had a spool of thread in the exact color I needed and I only really needed enough fabric to make pockets and not replace the entire lining. I could have done this repair with 1/4 yard of fabric at $1 vs the 2 yards of fabric plus spool of thread for $10. Also I would have actually done the project quickly because I would not have been hung up on what I thought I needed to do instead of what I really needed to do.  Still its way less wasteful and less expensive than buying a new coat of that quality which would cost about $200. I hope this post inspires you to tackle a task you have been meaning to do but overwhelmed by. Do what needs to be done and enjoy life now. It’s usually less work than you think it will be and always worth it because even if you mess up a project you learn something new! What are you going to do today? Let me know in the comments below and til next time happy crafting!

Get Unstuck!

Hi friends! Given the fact that we are on the internet right now there is a good chance we are procrastinating. I totally get putting off an unpleasant task but what about when we put off something that we love to do, like creating? Today we are going to talk about creative block, perfectionism, getting stuck and getting started so hopefully by the end of the video you will be ready to jump into your next creative project!

Did any of those points resonate with you? Let me know in the comments below and if you want to hear what John Cleese has to say about creativity you can watch his talk here. Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

Top 5 Reasons to do a Preliminary Sketch

Hi friends! I have been thinking a lot about creativity, artist block, perfectionism, procrastination and time management lately and I have a little trick that can overcome a lot of those stumbling blocks we face. It’s simply doing a quick practise sketch.

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I did this 10 minute color study before Fridays live show to make sure my colors were going to work for the mixes I wanted and also to make sure the paper I was using was OK. I was using some Winsor & Newton Artists Watercolor paper that is nearly 20 years old and it was just fine. This sketch allowed me to quickly get down some colors so that I would be prepared for the main painting.

Top 5 Reasons YOU Should do a Preliminary Sketch Too!

  1. You can test out your colors and materials to make sure they are in good working order and work well together.
  2. You can try out a composition (how your objects in the painting are arranged.)
  3. It allows you to paint quickly and freely without worrying about messing up the “good” project. It’s a great “warm up” to a day of painting!
  4. You can test out techniques you are unfamiliar with before attempting it on your final painting.
  5. If you are contemplating adding mixed media to your final painting you have a practise piece to try it on first.

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The odd thing is that I usually like the practice sketch better than the final painting and I think it is because of the free feeling I had when creating it. Knowing you are only going to spend 10 or 15 minutes on something let’s you create with abandon! I hope you give it a try and til next time happy crafting!

Don’t Wait for Perfect

Hi friends! As 2017 draws to a close and we all start thinking about what we want to accomplish in the new year I want to remind you that you can start something great at any time. You don’t have to wait for the beginning of a new year or even a new week to make positive changes and go after your goals.

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I often find myself in conversations with people where we end up talking about stuff we would like to do. It’s not long into these talks when I hear “As soon as I ______ then I will get to __________.”  Or “If only I could _________ then I would___________.” When the “as soons” and “If only’s” start to rear their ugly heads I know my friends are in trouble. As Soon and If Only are sneaky little devils. They enable us to put off the really great things we could do to improve our lives.  Here are some of their greatest hits:

  • As soon as the holidays are over I’ll start exercising and eating right.
  • If only I didn’t need this job I could follow my dreams of being a painter.
  • As soon as I can afford a top of the line computer I’ll open an ESTY shop.
  • There’s no point even trying unless I can do it perfectly.

Unless is As Soon and If Only’s awful cousin. When you see them trying to weasel their way into your plans kick them out. You don’t need that negativity. Here is how you handle those sneaky so-and-sos:

Instead of: “As soon as I learn the best way to sell my products online I’ll open and ETSY shop” Try this: “I’ll make and ETSY account, list my crafts and learn as I go!” OR “If only I had a fancy, expensive, nice camera I could make a YouTube video.” Try “I’ll make a video with my smart phone to get started, I can always get a fancy camera later if I like it!” OR “As soon as I save up a years income I’ll quit my job and start a business.” Try “I’ll build my business in the evenings while I am still working my 9-5! Who needs to binge watch Game of Thrones Anyway?”

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I am not trying to make anyone feel bad or guilt you into doing anything you don’t want to do. It’s awesome if you are perfectly happy with your life the way it is but if you’re not take action. Don’t try, DO! Life is seldom perfect. We are all on different paths and have been dealt different cards in life but you are the only person who can make the change you want in your life. That’s your job. Don’t let another year go by if there are things you want to improve. You are the only person who can do it and the perfect time is now.

The other troublemaker you need to watch out for is “Someday”

  • “Someday when I have the time…”
  • Someday when I have the money…”
  • “Someday when I don’t have to…”
  • “I’ll use this awesome thing I have been hoarding someday”

There are seven days in the week and not one of them is called “Someday.” Today is what we’ve got folks. Make it a good one!

What do YOU want to do in 2018? Let me know in the comments. Let’s cheer each other on. We got this! Happy crafting!

Are you stuck on the treadmill?

Hi friends! When we liken something to “the treadmill” it usually means unending drudgery but did you know our minds strive to keep us on an even balanced path, this is known as the hedonic treadmill and that is what we are going to chat about today in this weeks Konmari vlog! *If you are new here “Konmari” refers to the boom The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it was the book that helped me declutter my art room and my home by only keeping items that “Sparked Joy.” I highly recommend it:)

Today we are talking about hedonic adaptation, or the ability of your brains to seek out a balance after something good or bad happens to us. When I first completed the Konmari declutter in my craft room I felt fantastic! I had a cleaner more spacious room and I was on cloud 9! A month or so later I was feeling a sense of let down, I could not see that I had made a difference, I had gotten used to the “new normal” and I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything. I decided to do another round of Konmari…then I learned about the hedonic treadmill and it all made sense!

Here is the short video by TED explaining the Hedonic Treadmill.

Have you ever said things like:

  • “I’ll be so happy when I lose 25 pounds!”
  • “If only I could get that promotion my life would be perfect!”
  • “If I had a big house like her’s I’d surely be happy!”
  • “If my art was every published I’d be happy!”
  • “If I had “x” amount of dollars in the bank I would feel satisfied”

If you then hit one of those goals you might know what I mean. I thought if I ever got my work in a magazine then I would be satisfied, then it was when I get my own column I would be happy, then it was if I was hired to teach at a convention I’d be happy or hitting 100k YouTube subscribers. It turns out I am just as happy now as I was before. Now this might sound incredibly ungrateful and I do not mean it that way at all BUT I have found achieving a goal to be kind of a let down. I think that the work is the reward and pursuing and progress feels better than hitting an end goal. Think about it, remember when you were first learning a new skill whether it is knitting, painting or playing an instrument, think about the thrill of making something that resembled a scarf, picture or a song. Those little wins kept you going. As you begin to master a craft you need to make it more complicated and advanced and the thrill you get from each step higher is not as great as the first thrills you got from knitting row upon row of a wobbly-edged scarf. Finally you have mastered a skill and you are leveled out on the treadmill.

I think the way to maximise your happiness without falling prey to the treadmill is to set daily goals that will put you on a positive path while minimising the “let down” of goals. The other thing about goals is how disappointed you can feel if you don’t hit them, say if your goal is to lose 30lbs by Christmas and you east healthy and exercise every day and only lose 20 you will feel disappointed but if you said “I am going to walk 45 minutes a day, write down everything I eat and make healthy food choices until Christmas” and you look and see you lost 20lbs you would feel great for sticking to a plan and not feel bad because it wasn’t 30. Does that make sense? Make your daily actions reflect who you want future you to be.

How to swap goals for plans:

  • Instead of “I will learn to paint like DaVinci” Try “I will paint 1 hour a day for 3 months”
  • Instead of “I will lose 30lbs by Christmas” Try “I will do some form of exercise each day and eat reasonable portions of healthful food going forward”
  • Instead of “I will have my art published within 6 months” try “I will send out 10 submissions to craft magazines per month.”

Get the idea? And also thing learning new things help push us past the “leveling out” plateau we hit in all areas that we are trying to master. If you painting is at a standstill try collage, knitting or jewelry making. By switching gears you put your brain in that fertile learning space and a colorway or technique in another project might push you past the block you are facing in your main art form. That’s why cross training is so effective in fitness. Try art/craft cross training (I’d say it’s more fun too LOL!)

One more thing to try…I was listening to the Happiness podcast by Gretchen Rubin the other day and one of her viewers called in and suggested making a “Ta-Da!” list instead of a To-do list, at the end of the day (or week) write down everything you accomplished. That way when you are feeling overwhelmed like you haven’t done anything you can look back at your Ta-Da list and see that you really are killing it:) It is the same principle of taking before pics of your pre konmari home, when you have evidence of what you have achieved it helps pull you off the treadmill. You could also keep a blog and post what you make each week, seeing the work add up pays off!

I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment below and continue the conversation. Happy crafting!

Sharpen the Saw & The Difference Time, Good Paper and Reading can Make

Hi freinds! I hope you are having a pleasant weekend.  I took some time this morning to paint while listening to an audiobook, I started listening the The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. I thought since I am listening to the Peach keeper I might as well challenge myself and paint a peach in water color. My first attempt was a quick sketch in a lightweight watercolor journal (the Jane Davenport journal that I HAD to have but the more I use it the less I like the paper. I am not knocking it, it is great for mixed media but not as robust as I would like for straight watercolor.) Painting on paper I am not crazy about can be a positive and a negative. On the plus side it is fairly inexpensive and I can be free because I am not afraid of wasting it, heck, I’d love to use it up! I can paint til the cows come home and not give a care about using up my “precious” paper. On the downside the paper is flimsy, it tends to ripple, it can’t take much scrubbing and I really don’t want to put much time or effort onto anything in this book because I know if I come up with something really great the paper won’t handle me working on it with watercolor for that long. Because of this I don’t work on anything too serious in this book.

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That said, working out a design on “practice” paper or in a journal can make you realize if it’s something you want to dive deeper in. Did you know many “old masters” would use watercolor for their on location studies and then paint their “real” painting back in the studio with oils. In the above example the peach on the left is painted on a sample of 300lb CP (oh so precious) Stone Henge Aqua paper and the one on the right was done in my Jane Davenport mixed media journal. Both were done with Rembrandt watercolors, I will have a review on that paint later:) Because I knew what I wanted to achieve with this painting after I “played” in my journal I was able to confidently dedicate time and effort on a nice piece of paper. The sketch took about 20 minutes, the final painting took about 2 hours which was a pleasure to spend while I listed to my audiobook. I didn’t film it. When I was about halfway through I thought “Oh shucks, I should have turned on my video camera!” but then I realized that if I was taping this I would have taken safe routes and tried to paint this in the quickest amount of time and not try new things to stretch my skills. I would have fallen back on my tried and true techniques instead of pushing myself to discover something new. I needed to sharpen the saw.

Like I said I like to listen to audiobooks when I am working and not filming. Earlier this year when I was working on my latest children’s book illustration project (more on that later) I listened to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. He lists 7 habits that we should adopt to be more effective people and leaders:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, and Then to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

I am not going to get into the first 6 habits, you can read the book (it is a popular one and your local library should have it) but the 7th habit was one I had been neglecting and it was really starting to bother me. For the three years leading up to about last February I had posted a tutorial a day. I certainly had daily practice in my craft but when you are focused on producing something decent continuously you don’t take risks, you repeat the same things that you know will yield predictable result. Well, you know what? Predictability does not yield exciting art and I had felt stuck, like I plateaued. Meanwhile my house was a mess and I was stressed! I got my home under control with the Konmari method (the decluttering method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo) and I vowed to make progress in my art as well.

The “Sharpen the Saw” analogy goes something like this:

There are 2 woodcutters, the first one works non stop for a week cutting wood from sunrise to sunset. He looks over to the second woodcutter who seems to always be taking breaks and resting. At the end of the week the second woodcutter has three times the wood cut than the first woodcutter does. The first woodcutter says “How have you cut so much more wood than me? Every time I look over you are resting!” The second woodcutter replies “I was not resting, I was sharpening my saw.”

Deep huh? But so true, we spend our time running at top speed to keep up and not questioning the way we do things. Like the cleaning for instance, I would spend so much time trying to organize, dust and manage my junk and it did not occur to me to get rid of a bunch of stuff and you will have less you have to manage. If you feel like you are just repeating yourself in your art because you know how this will turn out and it is becoming repetitive why not take a risk and try something new? After all, precious or cheap, it’s just a piece of paper. Happy crafting:)

 

PS, I bet you can find most of the books I mentioned for free at your local library. Compensated affiliate links to amazon are provided in the post if you wish to own any of the books I mentioned.

 

 

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