Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The business side of art making


I am back to my blog after a prolonged absence. 
I held an Open Studio Event in my Back Yard Studio (photo above) for 6 hours October 5, 2019. Lots of people showed up (I invited them!) and some purchased art. Yay! This event taught me to get more serious about 'selling' my art. 

So...I've been spending a lot more time lately learning how to focus on the 'business' side of art making. I want to share what I've learned with you. 

Here's what my step-by-step process looked like:

First, I learned I needed to create an Inventory of all of the artwork I have made and everything I make in the future. I selected my most recent work completed in the last 2 years. Recommendations are to create a sequential numbering system for each painting. I choose 2000 as my starting value and wrote the ID# on the back of all finished pieces and Works in Progress (WIPs). I created a spreadsheet to help me track my art. It includes: a thumbnail photo of the finished work for each ID # with categories such as the year the work was completed, the dimensions and characteristics of the work, the sales price, the date of purchase with the name of the person/entity who bought it, and some notes. It was easy to set up and updates are easy when everything is tied to the unique ID#. I will use the ID# on my sales receipt to speed the inventory recording process.

Second, I learned from my tax accountant and a consultant at my local arts organization that, given my artist's goals, I should apply for a business license for an LLC. It was surprisingly easy after gathering information from my State's agency handling business regulations. I received my e-LLC license 2 days after I applied. If you don't know the benefits of an artist's LLC, check out this helpful web page to learn more. 

Third, I opened a bank account using proof of my LLC license and handing over cash to start the account with income from my Oct 5 Open Studio sales. It took a little time for all the paperwork; but, the process was easy with those two important pieces to get it started.

Fourth, I created a spreadsheet to monitor my income and expenses. My tax accountant gave me a sheet of allowable categories for the IRS and State tax forms. I am very talented using Excel spreadsheets; but, I started to see problems ahead when I looked a "potential annual income" against "real expenses." I am working on this issue now, will probably figure it out sooner or later, but, I doubt I'll ever post on this topic again on this blog. 

I hope this has been helpful to you.  Please comment on this posting if you have questions, suggestions or want to describe your own experience with setting up a licensed Artist's business.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Series Work

Hello, Everyone. I am not in the studio today; but, I do have photos of progress on my 12" x 12" panel series. I haven't found a thread to hold it all together as a concept or color or design. I'm still working on that but not too hard.

Of the 6 panels I started several weeks ago, I believe 3 or finished. I will give you a little tour of the process these three took by starting with one.

In this first image, I was laying out shapes of different sizes and establishing some high contrast areas. I was not thinking about content or color and my application of paint was loose using whatever was on my palette. I believe at this stage, I imagined mountains in the background far in the distance at the top.


The next photo shows the painting after I applied an all-over orange-red glaze. Very bright in the mid-value range.


With everything at mid- to very dark value, I needed to bring back some light areas and I decided to make those larger in size:


With this version, I started to see green water and I stopped seeing the mountains. The triangles became boats and I added color to the edge of the large cocoon on the right and found the boat theme clearly coming forward. So I turned it around and emphasized a dark lagoon. Still very dark-ish orange.


I began to paint in some very light areas with a yellow gold azo transparent acrylic with white tint. This helped quite a bit...yet it felt pretty garish to me for a few days as I tried to figure out what to do next.

Eventually, I toned down the chartreuse green to indicate a burnt-grass environment around a boat harbor. I added the text on the yellow area but want to tone down that obvious addition. So the last version is what I came up with and called it done.
It still looks a bit muddy in the yellow area as a mid-value; but I had to allow the orange to stand out as a focus color. The very light and pale yellow along the edges of two boats and the round 'things' I hope create the kind of contrasts that draw the viewer's eye around the painting.

I will keep working on these boat images because they keep appearing without my calling them forward. Still not a consistent theme with the 6 boards though.

Comments? Please jump into the conversation about the process.

Have a great week.

Friday, July 5, 2019

First week of retirement

Friday, July 5, 2019
Monday, July 1, 2019 was my first day of retirement...or, what I prefer to call it "My Artist's Career Path"...from academics to a creative journey. It was remarkable smooth from Sunday to Monday and through the rest of the week. It could I feel like I am in an old 'vacation/holiday' mode; but my head, heart, and body are not fooled. I am in my Back Yard Studio every day.

The space in my new studio is so vast, I find I am adjusting my 'stuff' every day as I learn how to use it. Here is the heart of the studio - my work area:



There is an 8' long butcher-block work bench along the wall to the left in the second photo. So far, I find that is a great place to do some quick, 5-minute paintings to warm up for the work you see on the large wall space in the top photo. Here are some examples of where I put these quick painting 'sketches', i.e., in printing paper-sampler notebooks, a guide book for research security compliance, an old calendar notebook. Great places to make small art so quickly that you can't even plan for it. Just use anything to paint and glue anywhere!

 Printing paper Sampler Book

An old calendar of Georgia O'Keefe paintings

Academic Research Compliance Guide Book

Another Paper Sampler

Fun, inexpensive PLAY BOOKS. Right? I use gauche, acrylic, collage papers...You name it. Try it!!

I am also working on a series of 7 paintings; yesterday I brought one of them to completion. I'll show you that one and talk more about the series in upcoming blogs. I just want to get the word out today that I am retired and working full time as an ARTIST. Thank you very much!  😻

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Challenge Update

March 17, 2019 Sunday

OK...I cannot do it anymore. As you might have guessed from my last posting for Day 13, it was the beginning of my unlucky days of exhaustion from sitting in front of a computer working on tiny cells of numbers and letters in a spreadsheet of rows and rows and rows and rows of information (aka ‘data’). By the time I finished that project (Tuesday, March 12, 2019), I was convinced that I had no creative energy left in me AND that I still had a lot of analysis work to do on the dataset I’d just ‘cleaned’ for analysis. Mind you, I don’t mind working with data for analysis purposes. It’s part of my job-for-pay. But I usually take my weekends and parts of every weekday IN MY STUDIO!! and I had not done that for what felt like too long. I should not have been afraid that it was gone but yesterday was the first time back and here is what turned out was also on my mind...

SNOW still on the ground and melting...an early sign of spring.
This first one (above) is watercolor and gaouch on a small piece of paper...just playing around with the colors of snow.  

This one is a revision of a painting I’ve been working on since before the data cleaning project. I covered the whole thing with white paint (acrylic) and scrubbed and scrapped it back to reveal the colors underneath. Stepping back, I saw that I was still in the grip of SNOW but the signs of spring were showing through. Hopeful and subtly bright signs. 

I’ll keep working on this visual essay on spring but the 100-Day Challenge is DONE!!! I don’t feel that I failed; I just needed to take my creativity back into painting. Thanks for checking in.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Challenge Day 13

February 28, 2019 Thursday

This is an odd posting because it is a screen shot of a tiny section of a data project I am working on for my job. It has consumed me over the last week and shows sign of continuing for at least another week if not longer. How does it relate to this challenge??


Process and reflection: You have to stretch your thinking about this project’s qualifications for the challenge theme “A Stitch in Time”. I had to do that when I felt resentment creeping in because the project is taking me longer than I anticipated. 
The work goal is, basically, to merge any duplicated entry for a single person in an alphabetical list of several thousand individuals so that the final list shows all activities engaged in since 2015 in one line of ‘code’ for each person. I visually scan the list, row by row (no, I could not find a consistent pattern in my trial work to create an automated procedure), until I find duplicate/multiple lines for a unique individual that I often must verify by looking at all the entries, that the entries belong to one person not two or more with the same name. I must transpose information from ‘extra’ lines of information my merging - I’m calling it ‘stitching’! - the ‘timed’ activity entries made for that individual that are recorded for activities between January 1, 2015 through January 31, 2019. All yellow highlighted lines in the art photo above are the results of stitching multiple lines; lines not highlighted had only one entry. I delete the extraneously lines for those with multiple entries after I verify that all of the additional information is stitched into the one line.
The resulting data set will be used for several purposes: (1) a complete historical record of individuals and their activities engaged in within a nationally-funded program that has provided services, resource, training, mentoring, etc. over the period noted above; (2) a list of individuals and their email addresses that allow evaluation follow-up to learn whether the program services made a difference in advancing the participants’ scientific careers for a diverse target audience; (3) an analysis dataset for examining the statical descriptions of those who participated and correlates that information with other data collected about their scientific output (discoveries, funding success, publications of their work, etc) to determine whether the program services gave them an advantage over others who did not receive the services. 

So...the project is worthy and will be valuable when I complete it. It hasn’t felt ‘artistic’ in the least ... until I started picturing it in my mind as a stitching process related to a specific period of time. Whew! I told you you’d have to stretch your thinking about this challenge. 

I promise I won’t bring my for-pay work into this blog again.

  


Monday, February 25, 2019

Challenge Day 12

February 24, 2019 Sunday

Project Photo Day 1

Project Photo Day 7

Process: I took a simple sewing needle and common white cotton thread and stitched three ripe, blueberries together for a string of Indigo ‘jewels’ (thanks, Janet J, for that visual suggestion :-) ). I placed the final object on a piece of pure white Sintra (PVC) and photographed it (without ever moving the layout) daily for seven days to add the element of Real Time.

Challenge Level: 0

Lessons Learned: The berries did not deteriorate the way I thought they would. Day 7 looked not that much different than day 1 and the project felt more like “performance”—I was waiting for the object to perform.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Challenge Day 11

February 23, 2019 Saturday



Process: I was getting ready to paint and noticed a piece of thin copper sheeting tacked to my studio wall. I suddenly decided I wanted to stitch into a sheet of the metal, then I thought of using wire to make the stitches, then that turned into a thought of selecting something from my found rusty metal objects stash, then I found a piece of black fine grit sandpaper. It fell together that quickly - 5 or 10 minutes of gathering the materials as my mind sped along. I stacked all the pieces together as you see in the photo, except I cropped out the larger copper sheet from the photo because it was not flat.
I used my metal awl to punch two holes through the sheets of metal and sandpaper after lining up the rusted wires to where I wanted to push them through. I studied the wire arrangement and made minor adjustment to show their best features. I took photos of the final artwork and chose the one that looked best—it’s all about the photos of our art work, isn’t it??

Challenge Level: 3

Lessons Learned: I learned not to give up on my ability to get spontaneous ideas even when I’d given up on today’s project and almost let myself ‘skip’ this day. TRUST myself.