Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


Tuesday’s Business-Diminish the Fear

Well isn’t this just ducky.  We had a potential melt down in the financial markets almost two weeks ago, then a marathon session to create a bail-out or rescue plan.  And what happened?  The plan failed in the House.

Certainly this is something that is of concern to anybody whether you own a business or not.  I did let out an audible gasp when I saw the headline on the failed bill.

But isn’t it ironic how in a moment of fear, the universe can show you that fear can be overcome…or at least put into perspective.

In my last Tuesday’s Business post, I discussed fear; the internal fear that keeps us from moving forward. I mentioned that YTD sales are down and that I am not participating in the fall Paradise City Arts Festival.  Certainly that is enough to make me feel a little depressed and fearful.  And yes, I did gasp when I read the headlines online.

But I also felt a sense of calm and here is why.

In the midst of all this craziness, I read a post by Christine Kane on how to stop the recession in its tracks.  In her post Christine reminds us that we can consciously choose to participate in the bad news or not.  In other words, we can get wrapped up in the drama or we can take a deep breath and not fixate on it.

Okay, I get that.  So I limit my reading of online news coverage and watch any news programs with a neutral attitude.  I call it information gathering.  And then I keep doing what I’ve been doing in the studio.

I remembered a comment SARK made on a recent Craftcast interview with Alison Lee.  She reminded us that we cannot deny our emotions.  Because when we work through our emotions, a shift can happen on the other side.

Okay, I’ll let myself feel scared for a while, understanding that in the big picture there isn’t much I can do.  What I can do, however, is think about what I can do to move my business along.

I was moved by recommendations of Molly Gordon whose presentation I just listened to on the SmARTist Telesummit.  Molly’s presentation was on the money dramas we find ourselves involved in and how to work through these situations to get back to the present.  The basis of Molly’s recommendations come from Byron Katie’s “The Work.”

The Work consists of identifying a stressful thought, asking four questions and turning the thought around.  The four questions are:

  • Is it true?
  • Can you absolutely know it is true?
  • How do you react when you think that thought?
  • Who would you be without that thought?

The turnarounds are reversals or opposite answers of the one you gave to the original thought.  For more information on Byron Katie’s The Work, visit The Work.

Ironically, the example provided in Molly’s presentation on how to apply The Work dealt with how businesses fare in a recession.  The stressful thought was “it is going to be harder to make a living.”  I’m going to take this same thought and apply it to my own situation and Byron Katie’s four questions.

Finally, I had a motivating conversation with Dayle Doroshow.  We were talking about how these slow periods are a great time to experiment, to work in a different medium, or to create work in a format other than what we typically create (jewelry, sculpture, miniatures, large format.)  You never know what ideas may emerge during this period of experimenting.

And what has happened during these two weeks while working through the fear?  Two small local art show opportunities have been presented to me and I received a significant wholesale order.  For each one I am grateful.

I hope some of the ideas and recommendations I’ve shared will help you diminish any fear you may be feeling during these fragile times.  I expect that I/we will still have fears, but not ones that will stop me/us.

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Quotable Monday

The Dyer Dozen for Intention
12 Ideas for Connecting to Intention
Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention

•    Want more for others than you want for yourself.  Whatever it is you perceive to be missing from your life, want more of it for others.
•    Think from the end.  See yourself in the situation you want to be in.
•    Be an appreciator in your life.  Look for that which is valuable.
•    Stay in rapport with source energy.  Be in a state of harmony with source energy.
•    Understand resistance.  Every thought that is not from source energy is resistance.
•    Contemplate yourself surrounded by the conditions that you want to produce.
•    Understand the art of allowing.  Understanding means taking the path of least resistance.
•    Practice radical humility.  You are a divine source.
•    Be in a constant state of gratitude.
•    Do not resolve a problem by condemning it.
•    Play the match game.  Always ask yourself “Am I matched up with the field of intention?”
•    Meditate.


Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

All I ever wanted
Have to get away

(The Go-Go’s)

We are heading to Vermont for a few days of R&R.  Perhaps we’ll take in some early leaf-peeping.

Ah Vermont, home of Howard Dean, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, King Arthur Flour Company, Green Mountain Coffee, Simon Pearce Glass and Cabot Cheese.

And that is only the beginning.

See you sometime next week!


Words Fall As So Water Falls

The Bolton Artisans Guild’s theme challenge this year was “water.”

I first considered creating a spirit messenger and then decided to create something different from my usual line of work.  I knew I wanted to have words in my piece for the exhibit.  So I asked a few people to send me a list of words that they thought of when they heard/read the word “water” for incorporation in the piece.

At first I thought I’d create a piece that resembled rippling water with concentric circles spreading across the surface.  And then, while I was out on a walk, the idea came to me.  As I walked past a neighbors house, I heard water flowing and there it was…a small water fall.  Next thing I know, the idea popped into my head to have those words, the water words, flowing down a water fall.  Intrigued with the flow of rolling water, up, over, and down, I tried to capture that same movement through the use of water related words as they flow over the canvas: up, over, and down.

And thus, Words Fall As So Water Falls came into being.

As Water Falls So Words Fall

Words Fall As So Water Falls

To create this piece, I started with a pre-stretched canvas, created the “rolling” water, covered the canvas in brown paper bag, applied gesso and several coats of acrylic paint in water-like colors.

The water words were printed on tissue paper and applied over the rolling water.  Then this piece sat on my work table for a couple of days.  I knew this piece needed something else to complete it but I wasn’t sure what exactly.

And once again on another walk while contemplating this piece the idea for mosaic tiles popped into my head.  The tiles have images from Native American and Celtic cultures that represent water.  The Spanish moss, raffia, and sticks represent life found around water.


Tuesday’s Business-Fear

I’ve been thinking a bit about fear lately and not because we are in the throes of election season.  No this is internal fear.  The fear that keeps you from moving forward, from initiating a new project or following through on an idea.

I’ve been thinking about where this thought comes from and if it is really fear or lack of motivation or lack of passion or disinterest or overwhelm or a combination of all the above.

Whatever it may be, it really stinks when it affects your business.

From a revenue standpoint this year has not been as fruitful as last year.  Sales are off to a certain extent in both the consignment and wholesale arenas.  My spring retail show was a bright spot in that sales exceeded last year during the same time frame.  I have a couple more shows on the horizon this fall; small shows that I’m approaching without expectations.  But with little on the horizon, motivation has been difficult and goal setting feels empty.

One thing that I have learned is that I need structure to keep myself going.  Setting a daily schedule gives me some level of focus and keeps my mind, to a certain extent, off the fear concept.  I keep plugging along, making my wine bottle stoppers, business card cases, and perfume pens.  I tell myself how prepared I’ll be when a new wholesale order arrives or the consignment gallery inventory dwindles.

I’ve also been thinking about where the origins of this fear comes from.  Not so much in the present but from the past.  Did someone say something in passing in my childhood that lingers in the recesses of my mind?  Is it from a more recent adulthood experience that lurks around the corner looking for an opening in my psyche?

Or, as Yoda would say, am I doing too much thinking and not enough doing?

I think we all go through periods like this.  You wonder where the customers are.  You wonder if you made the wrong decision by pursuing this small business, in art no less.  And then you wonder what else you would do with yourself.

Sometime we are our own worst critics, our own worst enemies.  We put extrordinary pressure on ourselves.  One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to just let life be.  To wrestle away control and utter the words “It will be okay.”


Tuesday’s Business: When Your Art Goes Missing

I did not have a topic in mind for the Tuesday’s Business posting this week, which is why this is appearing on Wednesday and not Tuesday.  I was drawing a blank, as they say, on what to write.  Then I realized I should write on a topic that may not be discussed frequently but that probably happens to all of us at one time or another.  And in this case, it has recently happened to myself and a few of my fellow artists.  The topic is theft.

When we display our art work, whether at shows or in galleries, we do so knowing there is the risk that someone may steal or damage our work.  Shoplifting is one of the leading causes of retailer revenue loss.  One statistic states that retailers lose $35 million a day to shoplifting.  When you hear the term “loss leaders” or “shrinkage” in reference to retail, shoplifting is one of the aspects being referenced (employee theft, vendor fraud, and administrative error being the others.)

The loss of art work is something that I’ve come to accept as part of the hazards of displaying my work in consignment galleries.  Fortunately the frequency of art work being stolen has not been terribly high in the last couple of years.  I think I can count all of 2-3 pieces that have “grown legs and gone missing.”

Yet recently this seems to have changed.  Perhaps it is an anomaly; a reflection of the economic times.  However, when several people notice that items are missing during a one month period, the suspicion radar goes up.

So what can one do if you suspect a piece of your work may have gone missing?

First, check and double-check your inventory records for the items sent to a particular store.  And if you haven’t been keeping good inventory records beforehand, now is a good time to do so.  Art work placed in a consignment store is still your inventory until it is sold.

Second, when the consignment check arrives, check the sales record against your own inventory record.

Third, review your contract with the store for policies regarding missing or damaged work.

Fourth, discuss the situation with the store manager or owner.

The discussion is probably the hardest component.  You don’t want to present the situation in a manner that causes you or the manager to become defensive.  While you want to make the store aware of the situation (keeping in mind that this may not be the first time loss has happened), you don’t want to come off laying blame.  Can you present your concern in a manner that generates ideas for problem solving the situation.

And what might be some of the ideas generated?

Improved lighting, either within the store or over specific display areas.

Relocation of the items in concern to a locked display or area in better view of the store staff.

Improved packaging; are there ways to improve the packaging of your work so it is less likely to wander off. (I understand the packaging component can be tricky, especially if your work is meant to be touched.  Packaging and display location seem to go hand-in-hand here.)

The loss of a piece of art or damage to a piece of art is not an easy incident to accept.  I admit my first reaction is anger, then frustration and sadness.  Part of me does want to lay blame on the gallery.  Part of me puts the blame on myself.  Part of me wants to throw up my hands and pull my work out of the location immediately.

And then I realize my reactions, while expected and understandable, do not necessarily solve the problem.  Yes, I have lost a piece of work that I could’ve sold which means no money for me.  But it is not just my loss.  The store has also lost money.

And I try to think about the person who may have taken the items.  Statistics show that in many cases, people steal for the thrill of it.  Some do it only once.  Some do it with the intent of reselling the items so they’ll have money for food, to pay their bills, or support another habit.

In some sense we all lose something here.

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Quotable Monday

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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A New Blog is Born

This weekend I put together a new blog The Exercise Diaries.  The Exercise Diaries focuses on the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs and humor of exercise, as well as health, food, spirituality and fun.

Why exercise?  Well, I’m a bit of a reluctant exerciser.  The enthusiasm I once had for exercise in my younger years seems to have waned as I’ve gotten older.  Or perhaps it is those forms of exercise that once captured my attention no longer do.

Anyways, the idea for the new blog actually occurred during a cross training walk.  That is one benefit of exercise right there; clearing of the head and opening the mind to new ideas.  And like that, the new blog was born.

The Exercise Diaries is a collaborative blog.  Two guest writers have joined me in this effort.  Overtime I hope other writers will also join us as well.

So go check it out and tell us your thoughts on the Exercise Diaries.

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Tuesday’s Business-Press Releases

Last week, we discussed promoting yourself and presented various options for promoting oneself, including mailing lists, postcards, newsletters, web sites, blogs, and Flickr.  This week I’d like to focus on one form of promotion; the press release.

Press releases are great way to inexpensively get your name out in the public arena.  Inexpensive because there is typically no cost associated with submitting a press release to your local newspaper or community magazine.  And hard copy press releases are not your only option.  Press releases are now being posted online as well.

What is a Press Release

A press release is an announcement about you.  And what, you ask, could I possibly announce about myself? Consider these possibilities: nomination for an award, winning an award, donating to local causes, anything that ties into the local community or organization (example: a presentation at the library), debuting a new line of work, inspiration for your work and teaching.

Though show announcements are not technically considered press releases (they typically fall under the calendar/event announcement), you can tie the new line of work or inspiration to a show you’re participating in.

Rules of Thumb

According to Joan Stewart of Publicity Hound, the old rule of limiting your press release to one page is no longer the standard.  Joan advises that press releases can contain up to 500 words. The content of the press release contains what we all learned in English class: who, what, when, where, and how and maybe why.  Other considerations include:

  • who your key audience is and do you have more than one audience (which may mean multiple press releases)
  • what is your key message
  • what do you hope to accomplish with the release
  • what do I want to tell readers to do, and
  • do you want to obtain the reader’s contact information.

Parts of a Press Release

There are several parts to a press release:

  • Contact information-this is where you include your name, phone numbers, email address and web site; also your city/town and state if submitting to outside your local area
  • Headline or subject line-that is, the title of your press release.
  • Sub-head-a one sentence summary of the press release
  • Body-the content of your press release; remember the who, what, where, when, how, and maybe why information
  • Links if appropriate
  • Note to editors (optional)
  • Photos (optional)

Calendar Listings

Calendar listings follow a very simple format

  • Contact information
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Who
  • Cost (if applicable)
  • How (e.g. registration)

Where to Send It

Now that you’ve put together your press release, you might be wondering where to send it.  Here are some ideas:

  • local newspaper
  • regional newspaper
  • local art associations
  • show promoters
  • magazines
  • local galleries (especially those who have supported you)
  • customers

Don’t be disappointed if your press release does not appear in the local newspaper or magazine straight away.  I’ve experienced submitting a press release that did not get published immediately, but then received a request for an interview a month or two later.  On the other hand, I’ve submitted calendar event listings that have garnered interviews.  What is important is that you continue to promote yourself using all available and appropriate options.

Do you have a press release story you’d like to share?