I am once again taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means that for the month of April I will be blogging each day. However, not all my blog posts will be on this blog. I have a few different blogs, and I will alternate between them. So you can expect a post on this particular blog every three days.
Here are the three blogs I will be posting on during this challenge.
I have one blog that is primarily about my efforts to lose weight and get healthier, but I also post personal, daily life things there from time to time. My Health and Personal blog can be found thriceblessed-lessofme.blogspot.com/
In other news, during the last ultimate blog challenge, I ran a contest giving away a print of Starry Night Over Seattle, there was a winner to that contest! The blogger who goes by the name of vidyatiru won this contest, but needs to give me information on where to ship the print.
A while back, I posted details about my well laid blogging plans, how I would follow a schedule and blog regularly from here on out. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans… they go awry.
Bumps in the road.
So, my well laid plans for blogging hit some bumps in the road a few weeks back. First, I experienced a few days without internet access, and after that, I was caught in a procrastination loop, finally I was delayed even more from blogging because of a wonderful blessing to my family.
So first, the internet problem. I have absolutely no idea what caused it, but I was without internet at my house for several days just after my last blog post. When it finally started working again, I found myself caught in that procrastination loop.
What is a procrastination loop, you ask?
Its when you know that you really should something you dread before you do something else that is optional, but that you want to do. So you tell yourself you will not do that optional thing until you do the dreaded thing, but then you procrastinating the dreaded thing, and therefore don’t get either thing done. For me the loop I was caught in revolved around taxes.
For a business owner in Washington state, there are two different major categories of tax to be concerned with. The first is the excise taxes for businesses. This is a catchall phrase that encompasses the sales tax you collect from people when your business sells things at retail, plus the use taxes that are levied against out of state sales, plus the business and occupations taxes that are collected by your state and some counties. After the excise taxes, comes the income tax, which is the same income tax that everyone pays, the only difference for business owners is that we can deduct business expenses from our income total, which of course is only fair, since if I spend $50 manufacturing something, and then sell it for $70, I shouldn’t have to pay income tax on $70, but only on my profit of $20.
The procrastination loop I spent time spinning around in was my excise taxes for business. I knew I needed to get those forms filed, but I was dragging my feet on all of the calculations I needed to do. The forms should have been in my January 30th, but circumstances I couldn’t change had delayed them until after that date. That meant I was already going to be fined 9%, the next deadline was February 28th, after which the penalty jumped to 19%. I told myself that I shouldn’t spend time blogging until after I completed the forms, but kept on putting off the paperwork. The deadline I was now facing was February 28th, so obviously I did NOTHING until February 28th, and then spent several hours that day online and on the phone with the department of revenue completing my online forms.
Finally the forms were done, and my family could file the income tax forms next. Those were done within days, since we actually pay someone to prepare those for us.
Then the waiting..
So, by March 2nd, I really was free to go ahead and blog, but I was out of the habit, not only that, but I was very distracted by waiting for a blessing I knew would come any day. That blessing was my first grandson, who, like my tax forms, was due on February 28th.
Each day the whole family waited, expecting a call that it was time, and each day as we went to bed we were still waiting.
The Blessing on its Way
Finally, of March 6th, early in the morning the call came. I went to my daughter’s house to pick up my granddaughter, so that my daughter and son in law could focus on getting my daughter through early labor at home, without having to worry about taking care of their first child.
My grandson was on his way, but there were more bumps in road also.
My daughter’s labor was pretty normal at first, though it was a bit inconsistent. Her contractions weren’t following a regular pattern, so they stayed home timing them and waiting.
Then around 1:30 in the afternoon, her water broke so they headed to the hospital. After her water broke labor got very intense very fast, she was contracting with barely a break in between, and the contractions were very strong.
As soon as they got to hospital, the doctors realized that baby wasn’t handling these intense contractions well. My daughter was dilated to a 6 when she arrived, and had managed to progress almost to an eight, but still not enough to start pushing. Yet with every contraction the baby’s heart beat dropped drastically. The doctors felt that if they waited, the baby not might survive. So they took my daughter in for an emergency c-section. I arrived at the hospital just in enough time to see my daughter rushed by on a gurney. Now, the hospital we were at normally leaves a woman in the same room for the entire labor and delivery, so the fact that they were moving her was an obvious sign of trouble, but at that time I didn’t know what the trouble was, I did deduce that she was probably having a c-section, but didn’t get confirmation on that until my son-in-law came by all gowned up. I asked him what was up and he gave a quick summary before rushing off.
The Blessing Arrives.
A few minutes later, the baby was out, and thankfully was fine. The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his shoulder, and was both holding him back, keeping him from descending and pushing against the cervix, and at the same time the cord was being pinched between the baby’s shoulder and the pelvic bones with every contraction. Later the doctor confirmed that without a c-section a live birth wouldn’t have happened.
I am so thankful that we live in a day and age where the medical technology exists that can avert such tragedy. Because of the access we had to medical care, my daughter and my grandson are both healthy and doing great. Because we have access to this kind of medicine, what could have been a disaster turned into a minor bump in the road to great blessing.
I am so thankful.
You might remember me telling about a painting that I reclaimed from my chiropractor’s office because I felt it wasn’t being displayed satisfactorily. While I put it there in the hopes that someone waiting for massage or adjustment might see it and decide to buy it, it was never hung in a very visible place. The place it was displayed was only being seen by people on their way for x-rays, which at a chiropractor’s office is usually only for your first visit. Well, I reclaimed the painting and put it up in the studio where everyone who came in could see it, and it finally sold. Only it didn’t sell as a result of being seen in the studio. It sold from my etsy shop to a collector in California.
This was great encouragement for me, because while I’ve sold prints and T-shirts, cards, and hand painted glassware. It has been a while since I sold an original painting, and it was making me wonder if it was ever going to happen again.
I just packaged this painting last night and got in the mail today, it should be arriving at its new home next week sometime.
Next, a Plan
Log it, track it, write it down and add it up.
So, in my last post I shared about how I didn’t keep track of financials as they happened, and it is causing much delay in filing my business taxes. Well, I am not making the same mistake in 2017, I am keeping a running ledger, so I will always know at a glance what shape I am in financially.
While I don’t plan to make up for previous years’ losses, I don’t want losses in 2017. So, unless the expense is unavoidable, like a bill that is due and can’t be delayed, I will not spend money on my art, or classes, or studio, unless I am in the black. I have a pretty good start to 2017 already, January I came out $25 in the black, and now with a sale in February I am looking to probably ending February in the black too, by at least as much as January, so the two will accumulate to being at least $50 in the black for the year so far.
Now of course if I am in the middle of a painting and need a certain color of paint I’ll probably buy it regardless of financials, but a lot of my spending in 2016 were not things I needed right then, a lot of it was because this store or that one was having a great deal on canvases or paints that would likely come in handy later. Since I didn’t really know I was operating in the red, I went ahead and bought things that I didn’t even really need for a project right then.
Well no more. From now on if it is discretionary it will only be purchased if my art business is in the black by enough to cover it. My goal for 2017 is to at least come out even financially in my art business. Now, that might not seem like much of a financial plan, but its a start. Sure it would be great to turn a nice profit, but I love doing art, and if all it does is pay for itself, I will be pretty satisfied.
One good thing about all the supplies I purchased in 2016, I have plenty stashed up to start 2017 without spending much. Yes, there may be an occasion here or there where I need something specific, but for the most part I have enough supplies to do almost any art project I might want to do. If I buy anything at all in the coming year it would likely be paints as I run out. I have canvases everywhere. I might have to buy more of the economy canvases for my classes at some point, but not right away, and as for the canvases for my personal use, I have more than I think I could possibly use in one year.
So, I don’t think curtailing my spending is going to curtail my creating of art at all.
I’m late filing my business taxes this year. Why? Because I saved all the figuring until the end of the year. I saved receipts to track expenses, but didn’t add them up month to month. That means I had to get them all added up in the month of January, with my husband’s help I managed.
The Department of Revenue wants a lot of detail.
Then there was income, some sales through etsy, some through the co-op, some independently, some parties/classes through the studio, some independently. Etsy keeps a good record for me, the co-op told me how much I made through them, but didn’t divide it into sales and classes, which I need to know apparently. The wonderful bookkeeper for the co-op is looking into it for me, and soon I’ll know what I need to know. You see, every painting I make and sale has to be reported as “manufactured goods”, every sale I make through etsy or independently has to be reported as “retail sales”, every sale I make through another entity such as a consignment shop or co-op, my share of that income gets reported as “wholesale”. On top of that I need to know which of the sales I made myself apart from the co-op were made locally or out of state, through etsy.
This isn’t for income taxes, this is to pay the sales tax on the items I sold at retail in state, and the Business and Occupations tax, and the out of state sales have to kept track of separately in order to not be charged sales tax on them. Income taxes will be another monster to tackle down the road, but getting the report on taxable income from this first business filing is necessary in order to file my income taxes.
A Ledger would have let me know what I could afford.
Another thing that keeping track as I go would have told me is that I was spending too much. I thought maybe I had actually shown a profit this year, but I didn’t. I spent far too much on supplies. Now, a lot of those supplies are still usable this year, so maybe next time around I’ll see a profit… but if I started keeping track month to month, I could try to make sure that there was a balance happening, and curtail spending when a profit wasn’t likely.
So that is my tip for this Tuesday, keep a ledger as you go!
The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won’t Disappear
This is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve managed to blog on this site every day during the challenge. I’ve taken part in this challenge before, but I think this is the first time I actually wrote a post every single day, and in the past I’ve had a tendency to vanish once it was done, to stop blogging, or do so only sporadically. I am not going to let that happen this time. I have a plan.
I’ve been reading a lot about how to get more visibility to your blog, and believe it or not, from what I’ve read, it is good to give each post a day or two to sit, and gather more views and comments before posting again, this also gives the blogger a chance to enjoy reading and commenting on other blogs. However, it should only be a day or two, or at most three days between posts, longer than that and people assume you’ve dropped off the planet.
I also have three blogs that I would like to maintain, though I actually do have more blogs, the time for posting on some of those blogs is past. I no longer have really young children, so the “mommy blog” I used to keep is pretty much over, other blogs I just didn’t care for the hosting site or whatever, but currently I have three that I really would like to maintain. My Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog, My Devotional Blog, and My Art Blog (the one you are reading).
I decided that the ideal way for me to blog would be come up with a schedule for each blog, so that I am not trying to post on all three every day. The Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog needs to have at least one post every week, on the day that I weigh myself, which is Monday, so while it is okay for me to post more often if I want, I scheduled that blog for every Monday. I decided to take Sunday off of blogging, though I might do some planning and blog reading that day. So with Sunday and Monday off the table for the other two blogs, that left me five days each week to write the other two blogs. I decided to alternate, so one week the art blog would be Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and the Devotional Blog would be Wednesday and Friday, and then the next week they switch, so that the Art Blog is Wednesday and Friday, and the Devotional Blog Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I put all of this information into my bullet journal calendar pages for the month of February. After February is done I’ll evaluate and see if I need to make adjustments. The devotional blog may be difficult to post on that often, because I have to prepare and study quite a bit for each post, so if it proves too much I might end up picking one day a week to post on that and post on my Weight Loss and lifestyle blog more often.
I also have an Etsy schedule.
Along with all of this blogging information, my work schedule, doctors appointments, birthday’s, etc. my bullet journal has my etsy posting schedule for February, which is basically a list of dates that nothing auto renews, so if I have new listings to post, I should do it on those days. And I do have new things to post! A lot of them. I will need to really get busy creating those listings, each one needs several photographs, plus key words selected, and a matching listing on this website needs to be made as well, so each listing ends up taking 1-2 hours to create.
Ultimate Blog Challenge Results
I thought I’d also show the results as far as my site stats go, for this Ultimate Blog Challenge.
In addition to those charts, I can say that during the challenge I’ve had an average of 1.92 comments per day, not counting my own replies.
The Ultimate Blog Challenge is almost over, just today and tomorrow left. Today’s suggestion was to talk about how we stayed determined and motivated. For me, as far as the challenge goes, knowing that I haven’t missed a day keeps me motivated to keep that record. However, there are other areas that I have to stay motivated for as well. Such as to continue putting my art out there, hoping that someone will like it enough to purchase it.
Its easy to get discouraged.
It is easy to get discouraged as an artist, especially when you offer to give your work away and no one takes you up on it, such as happened with my give away drawing this past month. Its pretty tempting to be discouraged, kind of like Marlin was in Disney’s Finding Nemo, becoming a “Mr. Grumpy Gills”.
Truth is, even though no one wanted that print, I know that people have wanted it in the past and have even paid full price plus shipping for it. So rather than get discouraged about not being able to give my art away this month, I’m looking ahead now, and I’ll try to think of a good February give away that people might be more responsive to. I have to…
Just keep swimming
Sometimes I feel very motivated to continue putting my art out there. Other times I don’t feel it all. The key though to staying motivated for me is to just keep moving forward no matter how I feel. Like my favorite little Disney fish Dory, sometimes you have to just keep swimming even when you don’t feel like it, and eventually the feeling with return.
That’s all I really have for today. What do you do to stay motivated?
If I’m painting an abstract or whimsical impression of a subject, I might night need a reference at all. However, if I am wanting to even approach realism, I need some kind of reference to look at. In an ideal world, I would have real life references of everything I wanted to paint, so that I could actually look at the real item and always draw or paint from life.
Photographs are petty good references too.
The real world though, is far from ideal, and reality doesn’t always allow me easy access to subjects such as the Eiffel Tower, or a live bald eagle, or a lion. In the case of the animals, even if I did have access to a live specimen of every species on the planet, they wouldn’t be likely to strike a pose and sit still for me while I drew or painted them. This is where a photograph can really be an asset. Photographs exist of almost every subject on the planet, and even some off the planet. Even fantastical creatures of myth and science fictions are based on real world creatures. Photographs don’t move, you can zoom in to see details, you can convert them to black and white, boost the contrast, or darken the shadows in order to see the values and shading better. Photographs can really be invaluable, and an artist doesn’t necessarily copy the whole photograph either, an artist might paint a landscape from life, but put in a deer or other animal from a photograph, only using the photograph to reference the correct proportions, makings, and colors of the animal.
Photographs are not always available for use.
The main drawback of photographs is that they are often works of art in themselves, and as such are automatically protected by copyright. You see, an artist or photographer doesn’t have to do anything to own the copyright to their work, they own that copyright automatically. In order to not own the copyright, the photographer or artist has to take action to release the copyright they automatically own. As an artist, I respect other artists and their work, and don’t wish to violate their rights to their work. I also don’t want any legal trouble that would come from using a photograph illegally. Many artists use photo references all the time and don’t worry about copyright because they figure that in making it into a painting or drawing they are transforming the original into something new, and there is no way a court would hold them guilty. Courts though have been very inconsistent with rulings regarding copyright, sometimes coming after someone for something that simply vaguely resembled another artists work, and other times allowing people to blatantly steal other people’s photos off of Instagram, apply a little editing, and call it their own artwork. Who is to say how a court would rule if someone decided to sue a painter for using their photograph? I don’t think it is worth the risk though.
Some photographers are very generous though.
Thankfully, there are some photographers out there who are generous with their photos. They actually take the steps necessary to give permission, in advance, to whoever wants to use their photographs. Sometimes they will put some conditions, such as saying that you can’t use the photo in a stand alone basis (you can just make prints on canvas or paper and sell the photo exactly as is), some say that you need to give attribution, which basically means to give them credit. There are all different levels of license and release available, from no attribution and no restrictions at all, up to only being able to use a photo for non-commercial use and only if you also share your version under the same license. Some of the licenses allow you to then change the license type on your adaptation, and others require that you share alike. For more information about the various levels of license, check out the Creative Commons Licenses. Of course the best licenses for other creatives are the ones that are completely released, without condition, otherwise known as released to the public domain. Because a painter can use them for a reference, and still claim copyright to his painting, or a book publisher can use the photo in a book and still copyright the book.
So where do you find these public domain photos?
There are several sites where you can find Public Domain photos. Wikimedia has a lot, but they also have a lot that are not public domain, so make sure to check out the licenses attached to each one. Morguefile.com is a photo sharing site where you usually are only asked to give attribution for a photo. The best site I’ve found so far though is Pixabay, with hundreds of thousands of images you can use however you want, for free. The only caution I have to give about Pixabay is that whenever you search a subject, the first row of photos will say, “Sponsored images”, those are not free, they are stock photos being advertised for sale, the free images come below the sponsored ones. When you click on a free image, it will open up and show you different free download options, from original high resolution, to website friendly, lower resolution, smaller file size, and various increments in between. Download what you need and then you can post it, publish it, transform it, paint from it, to your heart’s content.
And we aren’t talking poor quality photos that photographers just couldn’t use for anything else either. Some are great, artistic quality images. Some are drawings, some are vectors. All of the photos used in this blog post came from Pixabay.
If you’re an are artist you have probably wondered before about joining an artist co-op. Why would you want to join? Is it worth the membership fee? What would you gain from membership? As an artist, I can attest that belonging to an artist co-op offers many perks, and I thought that today I’d list some of them.
Increased Opportunity to Sell
Most co-ops have galleries exclusively for member’s work. Even those that don’t have an actual gallery will usually have opportunities to share the cost a booth at art shows. Most emerging artists have difficulty coming up with the $100-$200 per day a booth at an art show costs, especially considering that there is no guarantee of selling anything, and splitting that cost with even one or two other artists can really help. in addition, co-ops will often have deals with local restaurants and other businesses to display work for sale, and lets face it, they are more open to someone coming to them with an official sounding name like “South End Artist League Co-op”, than they are to an individual coming in and saying, “Hey, I paint pictures, I was wondering if you’d allow me to display my work here.”
Many artists have a tendency to be reclusive, its usually not because they dislike people though, more often than not its because they get wrapped up in their work, which is usually not something that needs to involve others. There’s also the fact that many artists feel that they don’t quite fit with the typical crowd. Artists and other creatives have brains that are wired differently, some would say we are right brain dominant, and we sometimes find it difficult to interact with the more left-brained majority. (Incidentally, the degree of this varies from person to person, I tend to be very global in those right brain vs left brain tests, with only a slight leaning to the right, and I still have a lot of trouble relating to extremely left brained individuals). Whether its left brain vs. right bright brain, or whether its just that non-creatives don’t share the same interests, it is really refreshing to get together with others who fully understand the statement, “Yes, I was hungry, but I forgot about eating because I was trying to finish this drawing.” Only another artist doesn’t raise an eyebrow if they hear you saying you don’t know how you are going to pay rent this month, while simultaneously handing the cashier at the art supply store your debit card to pay for your $70+ order of paints and canvases. Its also nice to get together with people who understand how excited you are over trying a painting medium you never tried before.
If nothing else, a co-op makes us get out of our houses and private studios, and get together with others on occasion.
Learning from other Artists
Some artists have gone to art school and tried a lot of different techniques and mediums as part of their course of study, but a lot of artists are mostly self-taught. These artists might have taken a few High School level art classes, and a workshop or class here and there, but that’s it. Other than those things they have learned through books, YouTube videos, and trial and error. Regardless of whether an artist has a MFA, BFA, or is self taught, most will acknowledge that most of their learning comes from practice, practice, practice. Most will also acknowledge that they don’t know it all, and often learn new things just from being around other artists. The artist with a degree in design might know a lot about how to compose an art work perfectly, but not really know much at all about how to paint with actual paints, as opposed to computer programs, on the other hand, a painter might be very skillful in handling the actual medium of paint, but may need to learn some tricks on composition and color use, and might really want to learn how do digital art. Both can teach each other, and both may learn something about passion and excitement from the brand new, completely untaught artist.
The artist who usually paints in acrylic might really benefit from working side by side with the mixed media artist or the watercolor painter. etc. The point is that by belonging to a co-op, and interacting socially with other artists, we have that chance to learn something new, or to be reminded of things we might not have utilized since a long ago college course.
Learning from other people.
Okay, this kind of goes with the one above, but its not just art we learn from each other. We might learn about effective ways to greet potential customers, what our tax requirements are, best methods of bookkeeping, what we can legally deduct from our income, and how to protect our work from copyright infringement. The list could go on.
The Opportunity to Pool Resources
Bulk orders of art supplies, splitting rent on a studio, sharing booth fees at art shows, purchasing a high end printer for giclee prints, all things that it might be difficult for one person to do alone, but are feasible when done as group and sharing the cost. Even running the gallery, if an artist tried to open their own studio/gallery combination, that artist would have to be there all the time during open hours, or hire help. A co-op can divide those hours up among all members, rather than paying employees to keep the gallery open.
A Place to Teach
I enjoy teaching painting classes, some artists like teaching drawing, some really like teaching kids, a co-op studio offers a place to that.
Those are the benefits of belonging to a co-op studio/gallery, like the one I belong to. Of course there are drawbacks too, but I’ll address those in a different post.
Making art takes supplies, and making high quality, lasting art takes high quality supplies. Those supplies cost money, so buying from the place that gives the best deal is a really good idea. Today I decided to post a short list of my favorite supply sites.
Dick Blick Art Supplies — Honestly, if Blick doesn’t carry it, it probably doesn’t exist. Canvas, paint, mediums, paper, frames, pencils, pastels, the list goes on and on. They carry both the artist quality supplies needed to complete lasting works, and the less costly student supplies I use for my classes. For my painting classes, I can’t beat their price on canvas in bulk, and the Blickrylic paints beat the student quality paints I can buy locally at Michael’s for both price and quality.
WholesaleArtsFrames.com — this is also a good site to buy canvas in bulk, they also offer fairly good prices on some frames.
Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff — LIke Blick’s, this site has a wide variety of both student quality and artist quality supplies.
Finerworks — my go to site for archival quality giclee prints, though soon I will not be ordering prints online at all anymore, since the co-op I am part of has purchased an awesome giclee quality printer, and now just need to finish setting it up and getting it color calibrated.
Short Run Posters — this is a good source for poster quality prints. You know, when someone wants a 16×20 print of your work but doesn’t WANT to pay the $40-$50 it would cost for an archival giclee on paper… its nice to be able to offer them a poster quality print for $15 or less. What makes them great is that unlike other print shops, they don’t make you purchase thousands of the same image to give you a bulk price. You can order 1 each of 10 or 15 different images, and get a good low price, which means when you go to resell the posters, you don’t have to charge as much to make a profit.
Vistaprint — I don’t use vista print for art prints, but for business cards and greeting cards, they often offer really good deals.
So there you have it, those are my top choices for online sites for art and printing supplies. Of course sometimes the convenience of walking into a store and getting what you need right away is great, and for that I usually go to Micheal’s.