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...
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year! (Ok, so it is technically halfway through January already, but happy new year nonetheless!) I hope you had a lovely holiday season and that 2015 has treated you well so far.
This blogging thing is a little rusty for me, but it's something I'd like to re-commit to this year. It's on a list of things, in fact, that will help me refocus my life/career on making and living ART. It's not as if I haven't been doing that for the last ten years, but this year I'm taking on a new approach. A more active engagement in what my goals and dreams are rather than a passive "play it as it goes" approach (which admittedly is kind of how I've "rolled" for a while).
There are a couple of ground rules that I'm trying to live by right now that also apply to how I am working/plan on working this year. Work with what you've got, pay attention to your thoughts/feelings as well as what's working and what's not, and, if possible, eliminate any anxiety triggers that are unnecessary.
"Work with what you've got" unfolds in many ways. First of all, I'm trying to once and for all eliminate the mindset of waiting to have/feel/be/do ___ in order to have/feel/be/do ___. Fill in the blanks as you choose. That way of thinking has been prevalent my whole life and I'm finally realizing the truth that if you wait forever to have everything fit "just so" to be truly happy and content, you are missing your life as it is unfolding right now. Therefore, you are missing the opportunity to be happy right now. In the face of that, I'm trying to be more appreciative of the uniqueness of every moment unfolding as it will. I'm also trying to think/be more resourceful when it comes to every aspect of my life - from home repair to cooking to my business.
Paying attention to what I do, what I consume, and how it all feels is another way that I'm working on being happier and more productive. If there's something unnecessary that I do in my day to day that gives me stress or anxiety and there's a way to simply not do it/consume it/etc anymore? Well, then, what are you waiting for!?
Speaking of, there is one more mantra that's been really weighing on me... at first in a nagging, unsettling way, and now in a more positive, encouraging way, and that is, (to repeat)... WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? When, exactly, is an appropriate time to ask yourself the very important question, "What do I want?"? What year does "someday" fall in? If not now, then when? How wonderful it feels to embrace something right in the moment and deal with it right then. I'm learning this in such simple, small ways so far, but the idea of its reach is quite exciting... and still very new.
Now that I've expressed all of that, who really knows how this year will actually unfold? I know that I could make the grandest plans and life could take a sharp turn at any point, laughing at all of my foolish "preparation". At the same time, I also don't want to be the loose little seed floating in the wind, carried away without any will or say of my own. Finding a balance, as always, is key.
Autumn's Approach - Acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas - SOLD
Tangled Up in Blue - Acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas - SOLD
Saying goodbye to summer isn't ever easy for me but alas, time moves on and so must I. These two paintings were a couple of new works post my Cape Cod series that sold to a local collector. She happens to be super awesome and I love her enthusiasm about art and artists. Honestly, it's needle in the haystack people like her that keep me painting. (THANK YOU! You know who you are!)
I have been loving the delicate brushwork of circles, white in particular, and even bought a new brush to fully accommodate this look. That brush is the star of all of these paintings. I have since changed ever so much in what I want to create and so this particular brush, and its marks, may not be seen again for a little bit. Or not. You never know!
There is something that happens to you when you spend even just a couple of days by the ocean. That magic something happened to me this past June when my husband and I went on an anniversary trip to the Cape (where we married and honeymooned 8 years ago).
During this wonderful trip (now 3 months ago) I experienced a sense of peace that I really can't say I've ever experienced before. With some reflection, I now understand why.
1. We camped.
The media/entertainment/news-feed of our modern society can become not only addicting and something to obsess about, but also alter who we really are. It was so great to get away from technology - the television, the internet, our online businesses and who left a review for one of Rob's books on Amazon and who favorited one of my Etsy listings. Being in nature and connecting with nature's rhythm was so very good for the soul. #mediablackout
2. We were on the freaking Cape.
Not only does it hold a bounty of good memories and heart strung connections for us personally, the flexed arm of New England is everything that a laid back traveler could want. There's room for every kind of New Englander to get their taste of the Atlantic - from the super wealthy (hello Kennedys?) to your average Joe and Josephine getting clam strips from a roadside stand. Life is good on the Cape. Whoever you are you can make it work... and thensome. #tartarsauce
3. The beach has magical powers.
This is where I feel for my landlocked friends. If you've never been to "the beach", than you really do not know what you are missing. The ocean is the best anti-whatever-ails-you antidote that I've ever experienced naturally. People come to the shore to veg and let it all hang out. You could say that in the outer Cape, that is more true than other many other oceanside locations internationally. (he he - #nudists!)
Tide Pool Reflections 3 - Acrylic 12" x 12" canvas, SOLD
It was our last day on the Cape and we were at a bay side beach. The tide went out for as far as the eye could see, but in between here and there were many tide-pools - from knee deep to just barely covering the top of your feet. As any normal person connected to their inner child would do, I skipped my feet in the water, watching the beautiful patterns of swirls and circles of light dancing on the surface of the water before me.
And that was the beginning of a series.
Serenity by the Sea - Acrylic and oil pastel on 18" x 24" canvas, SOLD
This series was yes, about the reflections of light on water, and New England earthy sand vs the salty sea BUT it was also about transcending petty problems and just living in the moment. It gave me the idea that hey maybe I could feel this way - this zenned out, happy and fullfilled way, any time I wanted. And wasn't that radical.