Friday, April 10, 2015

Studio Sale: Take Two

After selling some paintings in my last post, I'm ready to keep the deeply discounted sale paintings coming! Here's round two of work I'm eager to see leave the nest. 

All of these paintings were part of my Fresh Impressions series I created in 2011/2012. This collection was a first step in a direction that would lead me to the style I am painting in today. Though I am showing these works in a vertical orientation, you can choose to hang them going in whatever direction speaks to you.


 
 
"Morning Meditation" is acrylic on 24" x 36" canvas. My current price for that size is $690. I would be willing to part with it for $300 including shipping in the US. If you are outside the US and would like to purchase this, contact me with your country and I can get an exact shipping quote for you. 



"Four Seasons" is another Fresh Impressions painting, in acrylic on 18" x 24" canvas. My current price for 18x24's is $350. I could let it go for $120 including shipping in the US ($25 for international shipping).  



"Blizzard" is also acrylic on 18" x 24" canvas, and it could be yours for $120 including shipping in the US ($25 international shipping).



"Mystic Journey" is one of my favorites from the series. It is acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas. My price for 16x20's now is $250 but I could part with this one for $100 including shipping in the US ($25 international shipping). 



"Reckless Abandon" - Acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas, $90 including shipping in the US. ($25 international shipping).  

If you are interested in purchasing anything you see here I can set up a custom listing on Etsy or send a PayPal invoice to you directly, whichever you prefer. Contact me at jtorrant@aol.com or via my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaTorrant


 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Spring Prep - Studio Sale Take One

A test run template of a sliding table easel made with foam core boards and packing tape. I got a little excited about "my contraption" and shared more photos/descriptions on my Facebook page

As I prepare for another season painting outdoors, I'm eager to clean the slate both creatively and physically in my space. I want to be surrounded by current work - work that communicates and feeds off of each other. I want to see the same reflected in my Etsy shop as a cohesive whole, so the idea of promoting discounted work in a sale section no longer appeals to me. I figured sharing what I've got in a blog post would be an easy way to present older work I have available. Works that, for whatever reason, have yet to find their forever homes. 

If you are interested in anything I've shared here, send me an email at jtorrant@aol.com. (AOL... I know... so antiquated, right? What can I say, I still like being told that I've got mail from a familiar voice. That guy and I go way back.) 

Prices listed are evidence that I want these paintings to leave the nest! Payment can be arranged via a PayPal invoice or a custom listing on Etsy, whichever you prefer. So if you like something, let's talk! I'll do this on a first come first serve basis, so let me know sooner than later if you'd like something. 


These original mixed media prints were created from a hand carved rubber block I call "Cupid Missed". Each one was printed in black ink with watercolor washes on 6" x 9" watercolor paper. $10 for one or $25 for the set, $2.50 for shipping either way. 





"The Process" is an acrylic painting on 18" x 24" canvas. I painted it in 2010 and it definitely represents a particular era of my abstract painting. I'm willing to let it go for $100 including shipping worldwide. UPDATE: SOLD





"Awakening", created in 2010, represents yet another era of my abstract explorations - playing with texture medium. This piece is on 20" x 20" canvas and it has a great three dimensional quality that pictures just can't capture. I can say farewell to this piece for $100 as well (shipping included). 





"Sister Mountains" was created after returning from a wonderfully relaxing vacation in northern Vermont in 2013. It is acrylic on 24" x 24" canvas and I can part with it for $150 including shipping. UPDATE: SOLD


That's it for now, but there will certainly be more! Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Moving on to greener pastures...

My sketchbook with a series of designs for custom vegetable stamps, a few of my hand carved stamps, my favorite ink pads, tools of the trade, and test papers...

With a hint of trepidation and a whole lot of excitement, I am officially making the move away from my rubber stamp shop, Green Garden Stamps, and focusing entirely on my ART...

...for now? (More on that later.)

I opened my rubber stamp shop in 2010 after finding that I really enjoyed the medium and the ability to express another side of my creative aesthetic. Here's a collection of my favorite kinds of designs to carve - rustic, country, garden-inspired.


As the years progressed, I learned a lot operating this business. I also connected with tons of amazing people, businesses and organizations. Creating custom stamps was always such a pleasure. Here are some examples of my custom work.

Perhaps my favorite of all was connecting with the good people of Max's Love Project - http://maxloveproject.org/

Such a fun stamp carved for two great friends for their wedding.
 

At some point along the way, I saw an example of stamps being used to show meal selections at a wedding on escort cards. It was in a magazine or online somewhere, I can't recall. But it got me thinking and sketching... and I came up with this set of four designs. 


Each measures about 1" x 1", for beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian. They quickly became a hit. Soon I had people contacting me about other options - do you have a pig? Can I get a pepper instead? After compiling a list of custom requests, I expanded the product line to include more options.


I've been selling them in various numbered sets and they are by far my most popular product. These meal stamps have often paid for much needed winter oil deliveries, weekly groceries - you name it! I'm incredibly thankful for all of my customers, press and social media sharing - it's been an amazing ride.

So why quit when you have a successful business? 

That's the million dollar question isn't it?

The answer requires me to take a deep breath because it's rather personal, actually. To a degree that I'm not quite sure how much I want to reveal. But this time in my life right now is about taking greater risks, so here goes...

Toward the end of last year, my undiagnosed lifetime of depression and anxiety hit an all time high and I finally had to confront it and deal with it. I "talked" (spurts of words in between sobbing) with my doctor and acknowledging it to a medical professional alone felt incredibly healing - a huge weight lifted. It was the first step. And now I've been on medication for the last five months and it has dramatically changed my life for the better

(At this point I feel like adding some caveat like "hey I'm no expert" or "talk to your own medical professional" or something like that. It should be obvious that I'm speaking solely about what worked for me, right? Moving on...)

It isn't as if I haven't been aware of the existence of medication for such things. But I'm about to get real here - as an artist, I was seriously scared that whatever unknown spark made of rainbows and/or stardust that "made" me an artist would go away if I was medicated. THAT plus whatever quirks I felt made me "me" kept me away from what would end up being a godsend for much too long. But I'm not in the business of looking back right now - it's too potentially destructive. I am just happy and thankful that it has come into my life here and now. However, I feel like it's important for me to say that my fears were entirely unfounded and in fact, I feel like I've never been a better artist than right now.

Medication hasn't taken away my unique self. Instead, it has relieved a ton of distractions, road blocks, obsessions, paralyzing fear and doubt, and rabbit holes that prohibited me from being really present in the moment. I feel joy and peace sincerely now, and I mean that sincerely. It isn't "numb", it isn't "fake" (as I had feared).

I read somewhere that when a person lives with chronic depression and/or anxiety, it erodes/eliminates certain neural pathways that medication can "reconnect" in a way. That makes so much sense to me and speaks to that feeling that my states of inner calm/peace/joy now don't feel "phoney" - they feel entirely natural - clean and clear.

All that being said and revealed (YIKES!), I have found that the one thing that has changed is my carving ability. Perhaps that was the lone area in my life where my anxiety actually served me well? ;) Because without it, something feels different when I carve now. Honestly, I just don't care for it anymore. At least not as something I have to do all the time. I think it used to calm me down, and now that I don't need that as much, I'd just rather be doing other things. (Painting, hiking, reading, cooking, gardening, etc, etc.)

Also, arthritis runs rampant in my family and I'm starting to sense its creeping presence in my hands and wrists. If I let myself go there, this can scare me a lot, most especially thinking about my future painting (because painting is a passion I don't ever plan on retiring from). I'm already looking into compression braces and ways to work around this, but there is no question that carving stamps exacerbates the problem. If anyone has seen the movie Words and Pictures, you may recall Juliette Binoche's amazing performance as a painter coping with severe rheumatoid arthritis. She comes up with some very creative work-arounds that were quite inspiring. (PS I really recommend this movie!) Time will tell how much this will affect me, but considering how my grandfather was already greatly suffering with terrible arthritis by my age, and working a very hard job, I have no excuses to not do anything I want. He was body surfing well into older age. Tough stuff!

And finally... unfortunately Life once again brutally smacked me with this hard truth very recently... Life is short. Just how short is unknown. In the face of that, there is really only one question - what do I really want out of my life? It can all get really heavy (and heady) thinking about this stuff, but it's important work. Checking in every now and then to see how your day to day aligns with your "big picture" goals.

It's been ten years since I quit my job picture framing and jumping - mostly clueless - into being a self employed artist. For half of that time, stamps helped compliment my painting business and pay the bills and I'm so thankful for that. But I have come to the conclusion that it's time for me to move on and focus entirely on art. On top of everything else I just shared, it simply comes down to this...

MAKING LIVING BREATHING ART is ALL I want to do, and be, and surround myself with. That and being with the people (and animals) I love, and appreciating life, and simple pleasures/blessings, as much as possible.

That's it.

Carving stamps stopped feeling like "being an artist" a long time ago, and after carving well over 2500 of them, I'd say I'm more than ready to let it go! I've cleared out my shop of almost everything but my meal stamps and some simple leaf stamps. One more wedding season maybe? Or maybe they'll all be gone next week. I'm not entirely certain. ;)


 Hungarian stamp set. Floral folk art inspired by my grandmother. 
 

What I do know is that this aesthetic is still very much a part of who I am and a "wing", you could say, of my creative vision. That's why I'm not so sure that Green Garden Stamps is going away entirely. I'm thinking of changing the shop name to Green Garden Studios - or something like that - and changing focus. Perhaps more digital stamp collections... (all of my digital stamps will remain available). I'd really like to get a tablet to make my own digital clip art (I worked with a graphic designer who perfected scans of my stamped images for my current designs). It's on my wish list along with a new camera because I'm also thinking of adding digital download photography of gardens, nature, and the countryside. Some of my favorite things that keep consistent with the design aesthetic I created with the Green Garden brand.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/GreenGardenStamps?section_id=10494335&ref=shopsection_leftnav_5

There are lots of ideas brewing around for what this could evolve into, but for now, I'm putting it allll on the way, way back burner and embracing THIS instead:


Leo last year in front of my studio at the start of painting season, around this time of year.

PAINTING SEASON OUTSIDE! YAHOO!

Recent commission - Three 30" x 36" canvases for a Houston, TX orthodontics office. I'm loving this ombre style and have created a listing for custom paintings in all sizes in my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/226864925/custom-abstract-painting-colorful-ombre
  
In closing, this is all totally terrifying. Hahaha!! Putting my truth "out there" as well as boldly leaping into my greatest dreams, aspirations and desires as a painter. In a lot of ways my stamp shop was a crutch that took the pressure off of my paintings. It worked when I needed it to and I'm entirely thankful for it. Now I want more and it's sort of hmm... arrogant? to presume that I can even do it. At least that's what the nay saying voices in my head tell me, which I am learning to silence one by one and listen, instead, to a gentle and loving voice that encourages and says simply, "Go for it. What do you have to lose?". 

Many thanks to all of my Green Garden Stamps customers throughout the years and fellow shop owners that helped promote my shop! It's been a wonderful journey... :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Light In Flux

Light In Flux - Acrylic and oil pastel on 16" x 20" canvas

Late winter sun, blue shadows on snow and birch, resilient brown brush... 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Not enough hours in the day

http://www.zazzle.com/autumns_approach_abstract_circles_fall_colors_clock-256494798404800030

When a fellow artist friend visited me in my studio last summer, he asked, "What do you do in the winter?". My reply was something snarky and self deprecating. If I had to guess, "Hibernate and wallow" was the exact response. 

The truth is, there is never any lack of work to be done. When you sell online and promote yourself as a self representing artist, the list of new sites to update, new tricks of the trade, and the ever changing environment of selling/promoting online can keep you so busy you may consider cloning yourself (but I wouldn't advise it, watch Multiplicity if you don't believe me).

With that being said, I've got a list of things I've been up to that I'd like to share, and I could really gab about each one at length but I'll try and be as brief and succinct as possible because, you know, time is precious and all that. (ETA: Brevity is not my forte - see below).


Facebook - I think I figured out the best way to utilize my art page JUST as everything was about to change (exposure of posts has been limited as they are encouraging more paid posts, aka "boosts", from pages). If I had clued in about a year or so ago, who knows what it could have done for exposure/sales, but alas, it is what it is. We only have the now to work with, right?

That being said, I greatly increased the number of likes on my page by doing a few simple things. First of all, I made it a New Year's resolution to only give myself a little time in the morning and at night to look at my "regular" facebook feed - if any time at all. As anyone on facebook knows, it is so easy to discover you've just spent an hour looking at pictures, following links to stories to read, or watching videos that make you laugh. And hey, there's nothing wrong with that! But for me, it was an easy distraction through the day that took me away from my work. When you are your own boss, it's easy to let things like that slide but, again, there are only so many hours in the day. Cutting back on "regular" facebook time was also for my own mental well being. I began to realize how depressed it could make me or anxious/enraged depending on my mood (and what might be happening in the world at any given moment). 

Focusing on my art page, I began to like more pages as my art page, therefore giving me a feed that was nothing but art... what a refreshing change! Now I look at facebook and comment/like in a totally different way. Not as Jessica liking her friend's picture of a recently devoured dish of crème brûlée (as scrumptious as it may appear to be), but as Jessica "the artist" liking and sharing pictures of fellow artists from all over the world. This has led to making new connections with other creators and entering into dialogues about my favorite subject... ART!

Also - and this seems so simple, because it is - the more frequently you post, the more action you'll see happening on your page. That's pretty much the case with every site out there across the board. A "no duh" observation? Maybe. But hey, it took me long enough to catch on to the obvious, maybe it can help a reader or two as well.

My final note on this is that I am still always tempted to bounce back onto my regular facebook account to see what people are up to, some days more than others. But on the whole I have a new attitude about using facebook, and it means a lot more art time every day, which has been great.


Pinterest - I'll admit, I really didn't "get" Pinterest at first. My husband still doesn't and probably never will. (He's the first person to support and cheer me on in my work, but you should see his eyes glaze over when I excitedly show him a new board. Just. Doesn't. Get it.)

The way I look at Pinterest now, and have begun to see the whole world of presenting yourself online, is that it is a reflection of your unique aesthetic, interests and abilities. Yes, Pinterest is a great tool for promoting your own work, but if that's all you do there, you may not get many followers. Creating new boards that are AUTHENTICALLY interesting to you (more on that later) is where it is at. For me, I feel like I have different versions of myself that are side by side, just as real and "me" from one to the next. One version of myself would ideally live somewhere tropical by the sea, wearing flowing white dresses and turquoise jewelry, barefoot 24/7. Thus, Coastal Style and Coastal Home were created. Another version of me lives in a funky, artsy house wearing colorful fashion that screams "I'm an artiste!". I also could see myself in a chic NYC loft, or a country cottage with a kitchen garden outside, or a rustic, natural home in the woods. None of that may sound like it has much to do with art per say, but they each have a unique, true-to-me aesthetic. Most importantly, it's something that I get real enjoyment from, and so finding the time (and items to pin) to make these boards interesting is genuinely FUN for me.

As for art, well that's what 90% or so of what my pinning is about. I do pin my original work, reproductions, etc, but my Contemporary Art board of other artist's work gets a ton of action regularly and is my most popular board, not surprisingly. As with my other boards, I don't pin anything and everything that could possibly fit. I only pin images that I truly love and connect with. That makes my board something unique amongst the plethora of other boards out there about art, painting, abstract art, etc. because no one has exactly the same tastes as I do (Or you! Just think about that for a moment and begin to see the real value it has!)  I also enjoy pinning work of great artists in history that I admire, and images of where artists work.  

Once I shifted my perspective from "how can I use this to make me sales" to "how can I use this to present my unique perspective and aesthetic as an artist and a 'taste-maker'", everything changed. That's when the world of Pinterest really opened up for me and things took off from there. In the process, this genuine content sharing leads to views and possible sales for my own work, so, in a roundabout way, I've ended up accomplishing my original hope for the site - getting views and sales!  

Twitter - For a long time Twitter was simply the dumping ground for any content I shared online. Post a new pic on Tumblr or my facebook page? Off to Twitter it goes. I didn't pay attention to it, I didn't think of it as its own entity, I just let it fly. If someone followed me, I most likely followed back. I never spent any time there, so who cares who I add/follow? 

Well, I am in the midst of changing all that. First of all, the ability to upload pictures makes the experience of using Twitter SO much more enjoyable when it comes to following and sharing artist's work (let alone your own). It's all about a visual experience when it comes to sharing your artistic vision, so a bunch of images rather than verbal soundbites are much more interesting/engaging. Second of all, in the process of discovering new artists and interesting people to follow, I'm also unfollowing a lot that have no use for me. (That sounds harsh but clearly I mean me personally, not that they have no use at all... ok... you get it). By selectively choosing who to follow, it makes the experience of Twitter a lot more enjoyable and engaging. If I follow you, it's because I am genuinely interested in what you have to share and/or say rather than hoping to have an "I'll pat your back if you pat mine" relationship. I think the former has a lot more value ultimately. Which leads me to my final point about all of this social networking...


AUTHENTICITY

For a long time, I did whatever I could do to promote my work, get seen, get sales, etc. Sometimes it felt right, a lot of times it felt like desperate scrambling or clawing at any nibble of potential. I am so over that way of looking at my work and the world of social networking. I don't think it actually serves anyone to create or share something that isn't truly of interest to them. To boil it down... create what you want deep in your heart to create. Share what genuinely interests or excites you. Otherwise, what's the point? If you don't honestly care or feel passionate about something, why would anyone else? 

With that in mind, the next piece of this puzzle fits together and comes about rather effortlessly. 


SYNERGY

Maybe that's not exactly the right word for it, but what I'd like to convey here is the potential of utilizing interconnected content across many different platforms. (Whoa... that was a mouthful.) In simpler terms, and as an example, I could easily go on a pinning binge sharing unique artwork I discover one after another, being led down a rabbit hole of new boards to explore, and more and more art to gaze upon. Once I come up for air from that, I can go back and copy/paste the names of each new artist I've pinned on Facebook, adding their pages (if they have one) and in some cases, sharing an image I find particularly striking on their page. Or when I'm on Etsy, I look at my favorites now purely as curating. What would I genuinely wish to offer customers if I owned my own dream gift shop/gallery? Or how would I stage a fabulous beach home, or arrange a fashion spread in an niche catalog? Once again, I look at "favoriting" as another opportunity to reflect my aesthetic authentically. In the process of discovering artists/shops that strike my fancy, I can follow them on Facebook or Twitter and/or pin something I love. You see what I mean? It becomes a dance between these various sites, a "synergistic swirl" if you will, and when done organically and sincerely, it's actually quite a lot of fun as well as SERIOUSLY inspiring. There is no lack of value in that department.


-------------------

Now that I've shared all that, guess what? There is SO MUCH MORE WORK TO BE DONE! But as far as understanding and best utilizing these three sites - for now - I think I've got a pretty solid system worked out that is going to work for me. And really, that's the advice that I've give to anyone . Do this stuff if you actually like it, find a way to make it work uniquely and sincerely for you, and if you just don't enjoy it, no matter what, then don't do it! It's not worth your time. Speaking of... someone's got to cook dinner and that someone is me. 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Horizons

https://www.etsy.com/listing/218390350/original-abstract-landscape-painting
New Horizons - Acrylic and oil pastel on 16" x 20" canvas, 2015

This painting was my first of the new year. Though it is full of lots of vivid color, it was actually inspired by the winter palette I see here in New England. The cool tones of shadows on snow, and the warm tones of brush and leafless trees that catch the setting sunlight. 

The original painting is available in my Etsy shop, but you can also purchase prints and products on Society6.  

http://society6.com/product/new-horizons-4vr_pillow#25=193&18=126