Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Swamped By Sentimental Email Clutter

My name is Amy and I have a problem.

I am a collector of sentimental emails and I am swamped by sentimental email clutter.

And you?

This realization hit me yesterday when I looked at the number of emails in my inboxes (yes, I have multiple inboxes.) As I started to whack away at some of the email clutter and moved some things to one of many folders, I asked myself, “Self, are you REALLY EVER going to go back and look for that email?”

For a moment all I heard were crickets. The silence of guilt.

Then I snapped back, “No, probably not, but I MIGHT listen to that audio recording again.”

Yeah, right.

It seems in our digital age, we moved our clutter from the desk top to the, um, desktop, if you know what I mean. Where we used to collect newspaper articles and shove them into scrapbooks or binders, now we’re right or left clicking and moving electronic stuff into folders.

I’ve set up “rules” for certain emails to direct them into specific folders. Then I rarely go back and check that folder and stuff simply accumulates.

I’ve unsubscribed from some newsletters, only to join others in their place.

Buy something, get put on their mailing list, unless you un-check that request. (Tricky aren’t they. You’re automatically signed up unless YOU tell us otherwise.)

Mark an email as “unread” so you can go back and read it later. Only later turns out to be weeks or months, instead of hours or days, because that email has slipped down the queue.

Go on vacation and the email insanity multiplies exponentially it seems.

Where does the madness end?

Seriously. How do you manage your email clutter?


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Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


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2012 Word of the Year: Reflect

In my last post, I wrote a review of my 2011 word of the year.  I had a hard time deciding on the “right” word in 2011. This time, my word for the year came to me before 2011 ended. I sat down for a little meditation and poof, there it was. I literally saw it written in front of me.

And that word is….

Reflect

Reflect? Huh? Could this really be the correct word? Where did that even come from?

When I finished meditating I had to look up the word reflect in the dictionary because the only definitions that came to mind were something shiny that reflects, like a mirror, or to look back (in reflection).

Reflect: (verb)- to throw or bend back (light, for example) from a surface. to form an image of (an object); mirror. to manifest as a result of one’s actions.

There it was, the third statement in the definition:

To manifest as a result of one’s actions.

Oh yes, this seemed like a very good word.  A verb. A doing word. Now I understood why this word came to me.

I immediately pulled out an index card, wrote the word reflect on one side and the definition on the other side of the index card and put the card on my desk where I’ll see it every day. I want to make sure I see the word all the time.

The more I think about this word, the more I realize that it serves as a reminder that I need to take action in order to get things done. Writing down goals is all fine and dandy, but if I don’t act on those goals by taking the small steps or big leaps, the only thing I’m going to manifest is good ideas with nothing to show for it.

It also reminds me to get clear about what I want to do. That part about “manifesting as a result of one’s actions” is a little intimidating. The flip side of that could be “be careful what you ask for.” However, this word may help me get over some of my fears in tackling new projects.

Manifesting Begins

Much like last year at this time, an action I took late in 2011 manifested itself this week. Last month I submitted some pictures of my art for possible inclusion in a newsletter. This week, I received word that my Fire Spirit Messenger was the featured artwork in Jennifer Hofman’s Inspired Home Office newsletter. (The newsletter is only available to subscribers. However Jen’s site & blog are great so give it a visit and maybe you’ll sign up for her newsletter too.)

Fire Spirit Messenger, Amy A. Crawley

What a great way to start off the New Year!

Moving Forward

This month I’m focusing on the business side of being an artist. I’m taking an online web design class, I need to order business cards, and I’m creating a video for marketing my Polymer Clay Bootcamp 1 Workshop. I also have some ideas bouncing around in my head for future artwork. It is also time to look at those goals I put together in the last quarter, reflect on where I’m going, and start taking action.

What word did you choose to guide you though the year?


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2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


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Sketching: Making It A Practice

Well, it didn’t take too long before I faced potential boredom with my sketching. In the days after returning from France, I looked around my house and thought “what is so interesting here that I’d want to sketch it?”

There-in lies the rub. It isn’t so much a matter of what looks interesting to sketch, it is a matter of making it a practice no matter what the subject matter. If the only reason I sketch is because the subject is interesting, I would’ve quit long ago. (And, in fact, I did quit sketching, several times in the past.)

This is when I had the bright idea to use themes or topics as my basis for sketching. Deciding on a theme or topic is a challenge in itself, however, it seems to be working for now.

The “What Do I Want To Sketch?” Phase

Glass Vases

Pear

Remote

Meals

Sunday breakfast

Salad

Breakfast bowl

Place setting

Cloth Napkin

Flowers

Sunflower

Globe Thistle

Did you know that Globe Thistle are made up of multiple tiny five petal flowers, like tiny stars? One of my favorite flowers and I never looked so closely at them until I tried to draw one.

Bee Balm

Another favorite flower whose petals sparked an idea in my head for an art doll.

Until my next post,

A bientot.

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