Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Checking-In

I’m finding this month to be busier than originally expected. That is a good thing because I am immersing myself in my studio. Unfortunately I am not keeping up with the blog as often as I would like. So here is a little update.

New Approach to Tracking Studio Time

In my post summarizing Chapter 2 of Standing at Water’s Edge, I mentioned how I often cringe at the word “productive.” The word carries a bit of baggage for me due to my previous job as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Anyways, I realized that my previous approach to keeping track of time in the studio was also a hindrance.

This week I gave up on keeping track of every little thing I did in the studio.  Instead, I track time on my daily priority and to-do list. It has simplified the process significantly. It means I keep my time and tasks all in one place (ah, simplicity.) And I feel less self-imposed pressure to look and be productive.

OldStudioTimeLog (1)

Old Studio Time Log

NewStudioTimeLog (1)

New Studio Time Log

With the new studio time log, everything is on one page; my appointments for the day/week, priorities for the day, and a to-do list. And if I’m really good, I’ll add habits to remember, such as exercising and drinking water, and non-habits, such as spending too much time on Twitter or mindless busyness.

Mind Map

Prior to making this change I also wrote out my first ever mind-map. I have a long term goal to have my fine art in 10 fine art galleries. Creating a mind-map gave me a tangible, visible map for all the tasks I need to work on to reach this goal. Mind-mapping is neat because you can drill down to the smallest task you can think of in order to reach a goal. And you can add and expand the mind-map as needed.

After creating this mind-map, I took small tasks from the larger goals and created my list of goals for the month. I also looked at my schedule this month and, working backwards from specific dates, wrote tasks to be completed on the calendar. This whole approach gave me a great feeling of clarity at the beginning of the month and decreased the feeling of overwhelm that can easily creep up on me.

Back Update

About three weeks ago I started physical therapy to heal my herniated discs. I also had an appointment with a neurosurgeon who reviewed my MRI results and concluded that I am not a candidate for back surgery now or in the near future. (Yipee!) The herniated discs are not very big. The disc between L4-5 is the primary problem child; however, physical therapy has made a significant improvement in my level of pain. In fact, I have very little pain these days. In about three weeks, I’ve gone from having leg pain and cramping that would start soon after walking to having no pain whether I walk 1/3 of a mile or 3 miles!

The physical therapist uses a technique called the McKenzie Technique which essentially teaches you how to control and understand your body and your pain. In my case, we worked on back bending movements first to strengthen the back and to get the disc to return to its normal position and then we worked on forward bending movements. It really has been awesome because I felt a noticeable improvement in about 3 days.

Book Update

With this busy schedule I’m a bit behind on my own reading. I finished Chapter 4 in Standing at Water’s Edge this morning and will post a summary early next week.


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Art Show Post-Mortem

Art Show Post-Mortem

I’m mostly recovered from the Paradise City Arts Festival show this weekend. As I’ve done in the past, I wanted to share my impressions with you.

First, thanks for all of your well-wishes for a good show. Your encouragement is always appreciated. And there is good news: attendance was up this past weekend as compared to the May show. Saturday and Sunday seemed much busier. Monday, however, seemed slower than in previous years. I guess two busy days plus one less busy day balances out.

Yes, people are buying. I observed more people paying with credit cards versus cash or check during this show. (In the spring the trend was the opposite.) However, I believe the recovery will be slow and gradual. Many people looked at my work, took a business card, and moved on. Sometimes all the talking in the world doesn’t result in a sale.

So I did something different this weekend. I listened. Really listened to what people were saying about my work. I asked them what drew them to my work. If they bought a piece, I asked them what they liked about it. It was an opportunity to learn about how my work impresses people. I know people like my work but I never delved deeper into why.

And what did people say? That my work “has a calming influence.” That my work is “very serene but there is laughter in there too” and that my work “has a healing quality.” Wow. I was honored to hear these statements. My plan is to use these comments for marketing my art work.

I also upgraded my booth design for this show.  In the past, I rented pipe and drape (either black, white, or gray) and used height adjustable tables, a pedestal, and a bar stand for my display surfaces. Here are some before pictures from earlier shows.

Booth Shot May 2008

Booth Shot May 2008

Booth Shot May 2009

Booth Shot May 2009

The old design tended to be a little cluttered and caused people to look down at my work instead of looking up even with pedestals at various heights on the table.

This year, I rented a pop-up wall display from Skyline Boston. These are the trade-show wall displays you may have seen at conventions. They are slightly curved with a heavy fabric wall covering. The rental package included shelves and lights. The cases which hold all the components converts into a desk/pedestal. Here is how my booth looked for this past weekend’s show.

New Booth Display Wall

New Booth Display Wall

Pedestal and Wall

Pedestal and Wall

Bar Stand & Wall

Bar Stand & Wall

The new display definitely made a difference. It allowed me to have most of my work at eye level. At eye level, people could see more detail and get close to my pieces. It also looked less cluttered. Less clutter means people have someplace to fix their gaze. The other thing I liked about this booth wall was the way it directed people into my booth. The slight curve in the wall allowed people to walk toward the center of my booth, turn to their right to see what I had on the center pedestal, and then follow the flow out of the booth.

Impressions

This show was an improvement over the May show. Attendance was up, people were paying with credit cards again, and my revenue was up. However, renting the pop-up wall did increase my expenses. I did cover the cost of the rental but did not cover all my costs. I think it may be some time before that happens. I have decided not to do the spring 2010 show partly due to the expense but primarily because I decided a few months ago to take a break from retail shows. My goals for 2010 are to focus on making my art, working on new sculptures, getting my fine art work into more galleries, and to start teaching and coaching.

Physical Therapy

As part of my healing for my herniated discs, I had a physical therapy evaluation on Wednesday. The plan is to have therapy 2x/week for strengthening. My first assignment is to do “press-ups” 10x every 2 hours. Press-ups are like cobra pose in yoga. I’m also tracking any pain I have during these exercises and at other times during the day. Next week I visit the neurosurgeon.

Standing at Water’s Edge

I’m a bit behind in my own reading of this book. I started Chapter 2 before heading off to Paradise City but did not take the book with me. I started reading again yesterday and will post the Chapter 2 a-ha’s and summary in a few days.