I Gave Myself a Break

Hi there. How are you?

Me? I'm much better.

I very much appreciate all of the support and encouragement I received after my previous post.

My slump didn't last long. I did one very simple thing to get me out of it.

I gave myself a break.

Since January, my primary goal has been to design a new line of wholesale goods (cards, prints, calendars, tea towels, etc.) that I can pitch to retailers. I set out to make 10 new cards featuring my current abstract pen drawings as well as designing 2 new calendars and some new tea towels. 

For a while, I made really great progress towards that goal. Despite the fact that I have been steadily designing new products since then, I'm still not done and haven't even begun to lay out a new catalog. There never seems to be enough time.

Or maybe my heart wasn't really in it.

After my vacation meltdown, I decided to put wholesale aside (at least for a time).

I also put aside my sketchbook and went for a big 12" x 18" format. I picked up my trusty Bic and went to work. (Yep, even after all my searching and experimenting with other pen brands, Bics are still my most favorite.)

After struggling in my sketchbook, I decided to go big and start a 12" x 18" drawing with my trusty Bic pen.

After struggling in my sketchbook, I decided to go big and start a 12" x 18" drawing with my trusty Bic pen.

Pretty quickly, the work started to flow.

I had so much fun working on this drawing that I even recorded a short video of the process. Unlike the others, this one is in real time, so you can really see my technique.

Working large helped too.

There was more room to experiment and move. I was back in my happy art place, making work I was pleased with. It doesn't look forced, but instead free and flowing. This I where I want to be.

After fleshing out the composition with green, I added in some black to enhance the depth. At this point, it's just about complete.

After fleshing out the composition with green, I added in some black to enhance the depth. At this point, it's just about complete.

I want to be making original work, not a stationery line.

When I dream of my future as an artist, I see work in galleries, not at the National Stationery Show. I started working towards a wholesale line when my success selling work at art fairs started waning. I've seen other people be very successful with wholesale home goods and thought that might be the way to go for me as well. Unfortunately, I've never been completely satisfied with the cards/pillows/etc that I was making.

I still don't know how I'm going to do sell and market my original work.

All I do know is that I am enjoying the process of making again.

I'm going to think less and draw more, and see what comes of it for a time. My tentative goal is to make and frame enough new work to hang a solo exhibition at a local space. (Or maybe even in our house!)

I appreciate you following along in my journey.

Ciao.

 

How Drawing on Vacation led to a Vacation from Drawing

Hi there. How are you? 

I just arrived home from vacation again. (It's been a pretty awesome spring!) This time, we were in South Carolina, staying just steps from the beach.

The beach for me, is inspiring and relaxing. There's a sense of calm that I feel there like no where else. And usually, spending time at the beach leads to some good art making.

The beach for me, is inspiring and relaxing. There's a sense of calm that I feel there like no where else. And usually, spending time at the beach leads to some good art making.

The beach for me, is inspiring and relaxing.

There's a sense of calm that I feel there like no where else. And usually, spending time at the beach leads to some good art making.

Drawings made in spring 2016 while vacationing at the beach.

Drawings made in spring 2016 while vacationing at the beach.

I was prolific at the beach last year.

Last year, while staying at this very same place, I woke up every morning and went right to my sketchbook. I made a drawing a day. They just seemed to flow out of me. I was relaxed and in the zone, and it showed in my work.

As our beach trip approached this year, I was looking forward to some serious sketchbook time.  I'd been in sort of a slump in the past few weeks, so I was hoping some beach time would get me out of it.

This year, vacation drawing felt like work.

My attempts at drawing while at the beach this year were less successful than last year. 

My attempts at drawing while at the beach this year were less successful than last year. 

I started the top half of this drawing before I left for the beach.

I was excited about where it was headed and thought I was on the path to something cool. I continued work on it while on vacation, and ugh. The part I added didn't really match what was going on at the top. I thought about trudging on, but I didn't see anything good coming from it.

So, I decided to start over.

Instead of continuing on with my first drawing, I decided to start over. Again the results were lackluster.

Instead of continuing on with my first drawing, I decided to start over. Again the results were lackluster.

I really wanted to make this color scheme work (it's one of my faves) so started a new drawing with a similar motif. Again, I just couldn't make myself finish it. As I look at this now, I could probably salvage this one, but I'm not sure I want to.

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I started over yet again.

This time, I gave up on the green/pink color scheme and just started drawing. As I've said time and time again, I do my best work when I'm relaxed and just go with the flow. I tried to do that here, until the drawing started to look like a face and I couldn't look at it any more.

A drawing I made while on vacation. This one was going somewhere...To bad my darn pen ran out of ink.

A drawing I made while on vacation. This one was going somewhere...To bad my darn pen ran out of ink.

Using my trusty blue Bic, I attempted one more drawing.

This one was going smoothly. I was feeling confident and drawing felt easy. I was on my way to regaining my drawing mojo.

Then, my pen ran out of ink.

I wanted to keep going, so I switched to the maroon. The Pentel maroon didn't go on as smoothly or feel as good in my hand as the Bic did. On top of that, it kept "throwing up" blobs of ink. Of course, that got me frustrated and I started to lose my mojo. In my eyes, this one started to look overworked, so I decided to leave it as is.

Just like the Cubs at the moment, I'm off my game.

I'm not enjoying the process and it all seems forced. I've got no confidence. I feel so much pressure.

That pressure is killing the work.

I put a ton of pressure on myself to succeed. I feel pressure to keep up this blog, to regularly post on social media, to make new products that people will want to buy, and to sell the ones I already have. I feel a constant need to perform, and for what? Likes, comments, and follows? There certainly hasn't been much financial gain in the work I've poured myself into this year. 

How am I going to make this artist business thing work?

I have no solid direction, I don't know what to do next, and I don't see a clear path to success. I'm frustrated and sad. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and wasting my time. I feel guilty for not pulling my weight in this family financially.

I share this all with you not because I want your pity, but because it feels good to me to get it all out. I know you're supposed to "fake it till you make it" and maybe I'll regret this post in the future, but for now, I just wanted to let you into how I am feeling.

I've been here before.

It must be a spring thing. (I wrote about my spring frustrations in both 2016 and 2015.) I know I can get myself out of this hole. I'll just take some time and some thought.

Instead of letting this need to succeed eat me alive, I'm going to take a step back and access.

Don't worry, I'll keep you in the loop.

Ciao.

Vacation Inspired Art

Hi there. How are you?

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We recently returned home from a lovely 10-day vacation.

Traveling to Tampa, Florida, Matt (my husband) and I embarked on a 5-day cruise with a group of old friends. We witnessed the beach wedding of our friends while docked in Key West. (Matt served as officiant!) From there we headed to Cozumel, and back to Tampa.

After the cruise, we drove down to Naples, Florida and spent a few relaxing days visiting Matt's parents in their winter home.

Ten days of sun, sea, and leisure does wonders for my psyche.

In the words of my Dad, "It didn't suck."

My vacation drawing was influenced by the tropical color palette of my travels.

My vacation drawing was influenced by the tropical color palette of my travels.

Our tropical travels inspired this drawing.

My sketchbook comes with me everywhere I go, especially on vacation. Though this trip was packed with activity, I did manage to get in a little drawing time. I drew out by the pool on cruise days and in the Schooner bar when we had our pre-dinner cocktails. If I don't get in a little drawing most days, I just don't feel right.

As you can see, the tropical colors of my travels inspired the "bird of paradise" color scheme. I had intended to use this drawing as the backdrop for a new card design, but I haven't decided how to use it yet. (Thoughts?)

My vacation drawing is available as a print. Click through to purchase.

My vacation drawing is available as a print. Click through to purchase.

My vacation drawing is available as a new 8" x 10" print.

Here's the print, shown mocked up in a frame. Doesn't it look sharp? This print, along with several others is now available for sale on my website. These vibrant, abstract prints are sure to give a little pop of personality and color to your space.

That's all for now. I've gotta get busy making! Ciao.

Meet my New Friends the Pentels

Hi there. How are you?

I'm a sucker for a good pen and when I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. For years I've had a serious relationship with Bic ballpoints and black Pilot pens.

When I made the decision to draw in color,  I stuck with what I knew and bought Bics. (Read more about that HERE.) I like those Bics, but I knew there was more out there for me.  I was feeling stifled by the limited color range that Bic had to offer.

So, I went looking for new friends.

I experimented with Staedlter and PaperMate InkJoy ballpoints, but was disappointed with both.

I experimented with Staedlter and PaperMate InkJoy ballpoints, but was disappointed with both.

First I Met Staedtler and InkJoy.

I met Staedlter and PaperMate InkJoy at the big box office supply store.  I was charmed by Staedtler's ten color set and reputation as a quality art supply brand. InkJoy's branding and their claim to be ultra smooth got me interested.  Both had a chance to be my new bestie, but the spark faded quickly.

I didn't like the way the Staedtler pens felt going on the paper. It took a lot of muscle to get a dark, saturated color. Next, I hung out with the InkJoys. The colors were vibrant and for a time the the ink flowed just as smoothly as advertised.  After just one drawing (seen above) the orange seemed to seize up and I had to apply a lot more pressure to get it to flow. Could I really have used up a whole pen with one drawing?

Maybe I was wrong to stray from Bics?

Meet my new friends, the Pentel RSVP ballpoints.  Their smooth, vibrant ink is fab for drawing.

Meet my new friends, the Pentel RSVP ballpoints.  Their smooth, vibrant ink is fab for drawing.

Then, I had a chance encounter with Pentel.

While checking out the stationery section at Big Lots one day, I came across a set of 4 Pentel R.S.V.P pens. I don't think I've ever bought a Pentel pen before. They seemed lowbrow to me. (I'm an art supply snob.) But, at less than $1.00 a pen, they were a cheap date, so I decided to give them a shot. So glad I did!

Pentel RSVP and Bic Cristal pens were used in this abstract sketchbook spread.

Pentel RSVP and Bic Cristal pens were used in this abstract sketchbook spread.

The Pentels have a nice, vibrant color, go on smooth, and are less apt to "throw up" as the Bics will sometimes do. (You know those little mini explosions of ink that ballpoints have a tendency to make? That's what I'm talking about.)

I also appreciate that they're retractable.......I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to cap a pen and gotten ink all over the place.

I used Pentel RSVP ballpoint pens in this 3-color sketchbook spread.

I used Pentel RSVP ballpoint pens in this 3-color sketchbook spread.

I've got a wider circle of friends.

I'm pleased with this new friendship and I'm excited to pursue it further. (I'm going to order more Pentels in additional colors today.)

Just because I've got a new friend, doesn't mean I'm giving up on my Bic besties. They produce the darkest darks and are more opaque than Pentels. I like to think that I've just expanded my circle of friends, which will hopefully result in more colorful, more successful drawings!

That's all for this week. I've got drawings to make. Ciao!

Sketchbook Drawings Become Greeting Cards

Hi there. How are you?

Most of my studio time lately has been spent on the computer, turning my very popular multi-color ballpoint pen drawings into saleable objects. I'm in the process of designing a set of greeting cards that utilize these drawings as backdrops.

Here's how I do it:

This ballpoint sketchbook drawing became the backdrop for a greeting card.

This ballpoint sketchbook drawing became the backdrop for a greeting card.

Step One: Scanning

I scanned this drawing into the computer. In Photoshop, I took out a couple of stray lines and adjusted the color so that it would print as close to the original drawing as possible.

I made a few different versions of this card before I got something I liked.

I made a few different versions of this card before I got something I liked.

Step Two: Adding Text

After cropping the background image to proper card size, I imported the file into Illustrator, where I added in the text. As you can see, I went through a few iterations before I got something I liked.

Step 3: Printing

This is the first time that I've printed cards "full bleed" (image goes right to the edge). I'm printing on an upgraded 92# cotton paper, which gives the card a more luxurious look and feel.  There's been a learning curve to get the colors to print as I'd like, but after much trial and error, I'm getting prints I'm pleased with on this new paper.

I've made 7 cards so far.

I've still got more cards in the works, but I wanted to share with you what I've made so far.

There are cards for happy occasions......

This modern, abstract Congratulations and Thank You are a stylish addition to your stationery stash.

This modern, abstract Congratulations and Thank You are a stylish addition to your stationery stash.

And cards for more somber ones....

Send your sympathy or well wishes with elegance and grace. The abstract ballpoint pen drawings are sure to bring a little comfort to someone going through a rough time.

Send your sympathy or well wishes with elegance and grace. The abstract ballpoint pen drawings are sure to bring a little comfort to someone going through a rough time.

And cards for Mom and Dad!

I'm particularly pleased with my Father's Day and Mother's Day cards.

I'm particularly pleased with my Father's Day and Mother's Day cards.

I'm excited about this collection and where it's heading. 

I'm planning on adding cards for graduation, for the holidays, a valentine, and a simple "hello."

For what occasions do you purchase and send cards?

What type of card would you like to see me add to my collection? Do tell!

I am looking forward to adding this card line to my wholesale collection, so I can pitch these to shops around the country! Until then, you can find them in my online shop, at 6Pence in downtown Carbondale, and at the Homestead Collective (inside Packrats) in Downtown Cobden, and also in my Etsy shop.

That's all folks. Until next week. Ciao!