Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Birds of a Feather BS

These lovely birds of a feather may not typically flock together but they certainly do in my studio.

One of my goals this year is to move away from my traditional cylindrical shaped bottle stoppers and introduce sculpted stoppers.  In doing this I address my deep desire to create more sculpted art and to have more fun in the studio. I also feel more aligned with my one year vision.

Each bird is hand sculpted which means each bird is unique as the message from my hands to the clay changes day to day.  Some days I work the clay harder.  Some days the body is more egg shaped. Some days the bird is chubby and on other days he is small.

This new trio of birds includes a crow, a bluebird, and a cardinal.  Each is available for purchase individually or in a set of three. A descriptive card on each bird’s symbolism is included.

The Crow

The Crow

In Native American culture, the crow is symbolic of being easy-going, romantic, soft-spoken, patient, and intuitive in relationships, idealistic and diplomatic.

The Bluebird

The Bluebird

The bluebird symbolizes happiness sought.  The origin of “Bluebird of Happiness” is from a 1909 play, “l’Oiseau bleu.”

The Cardinal

The Cardinal

The Cardinal represents passion, warmth, and vibrancy that is available to us.  The cardinal tells us to step into our natural confidence and to lead with grace and nobility.

Bird Trio

Bird Trio


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There’s a Word For It Wednesdays

There is no spelling test and you don’t have to use the word in a sentence…unless you want to.

Phrenology (fri-NAHL-uh-jee): the study of the shape of the skull to determine mental ability and character traits.
Phrenology was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries but is now a debunked science.

There’s a Word For It: A Grandiloquent Guide to Life
Charles Harrington Elster

icondollheadsantiquedweb


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Tuesday’s Business: Exercise Those Networking Muscles

The Money and Careers section of the Boston Globe ran an article recently on networking and compared it to exercise.  In other words, we all know that exercise is important for a healthy lifestyle and networking is important for a healthy career.  Here are the networking tips shared by Dave Sanford and how they can be applied to your art business

  1. Develop a targeted list: Put together a list of everyone you know and want to know.  Now is the time to put together your customer list as well as the list of galleries and stores you’d like to carry your work.
  2. Ask for introductions: Who do you want to meet that could help advance or support you in your art business?  Who in your existing network can help with these introductions? Part of networking is meeting influential people.
  3. Prepare multiple messages: Develop your “30-second elevator speech;” a consolidated statement about who you are, what you do, and what makes your art unique. Now, can you consolidate this statement into a five to ten second version that your networking contacts can use on your behalf?  Similarly, you may need different artist statements for different audiences.
  4. Attend events: Attend art events (exhibits, talks, etc.)  Join local art organizations and associations. Don’t forget state art organizations and associations. Get acquainted with those in local and state government and support arts initiatives.  The arts are often the first to get cut in down economic times.
  5. Use the power of online social networks: A lot has already been written on using online social networks.  Suffice to say that artists must continue to think outside the box and use a variety of networks to make contacts, promote our art, and offer support and advice.
  6. Overcome shyness: I know; easier said than done, especially if you’re an introvert like me.  Actually, one of the reasons I joined a local woman’s business network a few years ago was to help me become more comfortable with introducing myself to people.  Practicing your introduction beforehand is helpful.  When you find yourself in a room full of people, look for one person you can introduce yourself to and work from there.
  7. Set goals: Just as we set goals for our business, we need to include networking goals as part of our business.  Some examples include emailing x-number of new contacts a week, meeting with friends and new contacts once a month, attending art or networking events once a month, and sending email announcements or e-newsletters once a quarter.
  8. Networking is a two-way street: Effective networking relationships are reciprocal.  Sometimes you receive a lead or referral that may not match your needs but might be good for someone else.  Pass it along.  Remember it is nice to share.
  9. Be thankful and keep in touch: People are often best at networking when they need something.  However, the most effective networkers are those who continually find ways to keep in touch with their contacts.


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Routines and Habits

One topic in the Blast-off class that seems to resonate with everyone is developing routines and habits.  I agree with Alyson that there may not be much difference between a routine and a habit.  Create a habit and it becomes part of your routine.  At one time I pondered the difference between a ritual and a habit; even planned a blog post on it that never fully developed.  Now I wonder if I was confusing a routine with a ritual…though a ritual usually refers to a religious or spiritual or solemn ceremony.  A habit, on the other hand refers to a constant, often unconscious inclination to perform an act, acquired through its frequent repetition.  Applies to any activity so well established that it occurs without thought on the part of an individual.

Well, there is my problem “an activity so well-established that it occurs without thought on the part of an individual.”

Why is it some activities can become a habit and others don’t?  Brushing my teeth twice a day is a habit.  I just do it.  Spending time on art? Not always so easy or well-established.

Alyson shared the following quote from Dr. Stephanie A. Burns:

The most significant consequences of NOT making something a habit is that these activities would stand a good chance of not getting done, either because we forget about it or because, having remembered, we lack the ability to motivate ourselves at the time of the remembering to take the action.

One of the obstacles that can stand in the way of creating art is the business aspect of being an artist.  Some days you spend more time on the business than on the creation.  Get into the habit of doing the business aspect and it becomes hard to create.  On the flip side, if I ignore the business end and spend more time on creating, then it is harder to get back to the habit of doing business.

Argh!

Okay, Alyson and others do remind us that we can’t do it all.

So where to start?  First, I sat down and thought about all the things I do for my art and business; the habits I’ve already established.  Surprise, I actually do have some habits in place.

  • I have a designated folder for receipts and other papers related to expenses and income. One day each week I remove all the papers from this folder and enter the information into Quickbooks.
  • I have certain days for writing blog posts.  I try to post 3x/week.
  • I can usually devote 3 days a week to studio time though that time is sometimes split between making art and doing business.
  • I’ve learned to schedule outside activities in the afternoon when possible which leaves morning hours to art and business.
  • In the past I’ve tried to designate Tuesdays and Fridays as shipping days.

To take this one step further toward making a habit into a routine I’m dedicating certain hours to studio time.  Within those blocks of time I’m working on designating certain times to different marketing tasks.  I write all of this on my calendar (both the desk calendar and the online calendar.)

How is it going?  Well, it has only been a week and a hard one at that given the inauguration and a few days of being under-the-weather.  I remind myself that it won’t happen over night.  It has been pointed out that it takes 21-30 days to make something a habit.  I remind myself that I’ve probably never given myself that length of time to establish a habit.

Alyson asks us to remember our motives and reasons for doing what we’re doing and what we’re willing to commit to.  I’m making it a habit to remember this every day.

And as I write this I’ve had another a-ha moment.  Instead of splitting some days into art and business, I will devote one day to business/marketing, etc.  I’ll do this on Tuesdays because part of that day is already set aside for grocery shopping.  Sometimes it is easier to break away from the business aspect than the creating aspect.

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Recommended: Check out guest writer Keith Bond‘s blog post on making art a priority on Clint Watson’s Fine Art Views blog


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Tuesday’s Business: Blast-Off Class

Earlier this month I started working with Alyson Stanfield in her Blast Off class.  This class is designed to help artists develop a stronger foundation for their business through daily exercises (i.e. homework) and thought-provoking questions.  I worked with Alyson a few years ago when I led a group of local artists in an Art Salon.  In the Art Salon we used outlines provided by Alyson which helped us develop marketing plans for our businesses.

Thus far in the class we’ve discussed gratitude, visualizations, affirmations, blocks to progress, finances, and developing routines.  And that has just been the first 9 days!  (We take the weekends off to catch up on our homework.)

Since the beginning of the month and during the Blast Off class I’ve had three a-ha moments:

  • My packing and shipping process is time consuming and needs to be more efficient.  I wrote out each step in this process, discussed it with Eric, and brainstormed ideas for condensing or eliminating steps.
  • I hit upon an idea for renaming and repackaging a particular product.  I brainstormed with a fellow guild member and asked followers on my Twitter page for ideas which subsequently caused the “light bulb” to go off.  This really convinced me of the benefit of social networking.
  • After visiting with a vendor, another light-bulb went off in my head about a potential joint marketing idea; something that would benefit both of us.

Would any of this happened without the class?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that because I’m writing down monthly goals, writing down ideas that pop into my head, and being asked questions in the workshop, I’m taking the time to think, and to be more aware of my routines, and my surroundings.

One point that Alyson has made in the class is for us to consider our motives or reasons for why we do what we do in order to tackle tasks and goals.

How often do you do that?  Isn’t it more likely that we do what we do because that is what we’re supposed to do?  Perhaps we do what we do to meet someone’s expectation of us?  Or we stay busy all the time which must mean we’re motivated but what happens when we stop being busy?

As Alyson put it “Knowing why you want to accomplish certain things helps you prioritize and move forward” and “the things we usually put off are those that will have the biggest impact on our success.”

I faced that issue this weekend.  I’ve been putting off teaching myself to use Rapidweaver (web design tool) partly because the documentation isn’t very good and partly because I was used to using Frontpage on my former PC and the thought of learning something completely new was daunting.

Using Alyson’s suggestion, I had to ask myself: What is my motive for learning Rapidweaver? To create a brand new web site to promote my two lines of art.  What happens if I continue to put it off? I’m stuck maintaining an old web site that doesn’t represent the vision I have for my art and business.  So, again, what is my motive for learning Rapidweaver? To make a better web site that provides a better visual representation of my art.

I put my butt in the chair and started by reading the documentation out loud.  Bingo; the light bulb went off.  I gained a better understanding of how the documentation is laid out (general overview, then specific information…it still leaves a bit to be desired but now I can tolerate it.)  I learned Rapidweaver is relatively easy to use once I played around with it.  I learned the tool is easier to use than Frontpage (sorry PC folks.)  And, I have to admit, I started having fun with it and look forward to creating my new business web sites.

After taking an online workshop with Christine Kane, listening to various tele-seminars, and reading select coaching newsletters and books I’m noticing a core theme: dream, dream big, write it down, verbalize it, visualize it, get clear, set goals, take baby-steps as needed, and surround yourself with supportive people.  Alyson’s class continues to promote these themes and more.  Perhaps this message is being repeated enough for me to have faith that it really works.  Now to have faith in myself in seeing it through.


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Monday Reflection

Now, I say to you today my friends,
even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,

I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream
that one day this nation will rise up
and live out the true meaning of its creed:
- ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

-Martin Luther King, Jr
Speech at Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963


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When Life Puts You On A Wind-Hold

As happens periodically at ski mountains, the weather changes, the wind kicks up and you’re put on a wind hold.  Here at Sunday River we’ve been greeted by the incoming Alberta Clipper which is ushering in single digit and below zero temperatures and strong winds.  Up to 40mph winds are possible today.  And when that happens the mountain often institutes a wind hold.  Chair lifts stop running, especially at the higher elevations and you’re stuck trying to decide what to do with your day.

Most of the wind holds happened this morning before the trails were open so skiers weren’t stranded.  There was even a mention of the mountain possibly shutting down if the wind became too strong.  (Note: a wind hold does not mean they stop the lifts with people on them if the lift is already running. They won’t let anyone else on the chair, they get those on the chair off as quickly as possible, and then they shut down the chairlift.)

But the concept of a wind hold brought to mind those times when something comes up in life unexpectedly.  You’re moseying along with your plans to do A, B, C but nature has something else in mind.  Somewhere along the way life throws a gusty wind into your plans.  Now you have to decide to proceed into the headwind or accept the gust and create an alternate plan.

Sometimes when we move into the headwind, we find ourselves struggling the entire way.  Head down we go into the wind, we move slowly, one foot and then the other.  We might have to stop to catch our breath.  We mutter and ask “why the heck did I do this?”  “Why is this so hard?”  Sometimes the headwind pushes us back and we find ourselves right back where we started from.

If we accept the gust that blows in, we might be able to work with it.  Perhaps we alter our plans to accommodate the change and find ourselves gliding right along.  An alternative may present itself that ends up being better than our original plan.  We’re not struggling.  We’re not pushed back to where we started from.  We’re not exhausted from fighting the wind.  In fact, we might feel pretty darn good.

Back here at Sunday River a few lifts have opened on the lower slopes.  Eric reports that it is cold outside and the wind gusts have been worse.  I opted to stay inside where it is warm and cozy.  Tomorrow offers another opportunity.

How do you handle life when the winds of change kick up?

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