Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Enlightenment, Part 3

A few interesting discoveries throughout the summer….(personal – feel free to skip)

I am not a religious person, especially when it comes to organized religion of any kind. I may enjoy sitting in a mass for a Holy Day, but that’s more of a sense of comfort than strict belief. I do consider myself spiritual. I had students ask me if I were Christian, and I would answer that I’m human, that I believe there is good in all the world’s religions, and I like to accept those tenets that are good for mankind. My middle school students were not able to handle that answer, but my high schoolers cold grasp what I was saying.

Over the years, the more I read of history the more I got pissed off at religion. Once we realize the Crusades for what they really were – an attack on anything not Christian – we begin to be appalled at the damage Most religions have done. The Inquisition was an vile, horrific attempt to protect the men of the Catholic Church and enforce a way of life that brooked no questioning of any kind. The Troubles in Ireland, the Palestinian question – religion has become politics and politics is now religion. What happened to loving thy neighbor, regardless?

I have been putting my local public library to very good use these days. Since we did our last downsizing, the remaining books are our favoriate, and our art books. It is rare that I buy a book any more…except for what goes on my Kindle. I love standing is a section of the library and just seeing what hits my eye. Two visits ago I discovered a book called Joshua, with a flap that talked about a carpenter who was changing his community. The reviews in the front were excellent – our library puts a sheet for you to score so you have a sense of how people thought about the book. This review was a 10 and said “If only society could be like this.” Based on that recommendation, I picked it up. I finished it that night.

This is an unpretentious story with an extremely [powerful message. Would we recognize Jesus if he walked among us today? It’s written by Neil Girozone, a retired priest (yes, I had my period in the past where I read everything Father Andrew Greeley wrote.) You are lulled into believing Joshua, who has definite ideas on God and His love for His children. Joshua has some stunning conversations – and monologues – about organized religion and how this is NOT what God had in mind for His children. The questioning comes through when the local religious denominations begin to feel threatened by their congregations believing and caring for Joshua. Eventually the case goes all the way to the Pope.

The characters are wonderful – you can see the Biblical parallels, and I for one have met a lot of Catholic priests similar to those in the book. I have been mulling on this since I finished the book. Next trip I picked up Joshua and the Children – his story from the children he teaches to love each other in the midst of a community torn about by religious strife. One can’t help but note the parallels to today’s society – and the book was written in 1985. You can see the conclusion coming, with all the parallels, but this book leaves its promise of success in the mission of the children, whose lives are forever changed.

So all that has gotten me thinking of my place in life right now, in such a tumultuous time. How can I make a difference? Obviously one way is to be kind, listen to those I don’t agree with, enjoy the lives of people I come into contact with. Along with that, I took a master class with Neale Donald Walsch through Mindvalley (Mindvalley.com). This was – dare I say it – life changing. I have a burning desire to read all the Conversations with God books, but none of them are available in my local library, and right now they are too much in the bookstore, even for the Kindle version. Through the master class, Walsch talks about what he calls HEB – highly evolved beings – and he began to describe who and what they are and how we might move along on the evolutionary line to become more evolved. While the class was short, he was able to go through two of the exercises in his 4th book – becoming others and passing each day not for yourself but to make a difference for someone else.

The next day was a day we had several doctor appointments and tests, and as I tried processing his ideas, I realized how far away I am from any kind of HEB – he said himself humanity is only on the two-yard line in evolution and we have a huge way to go. He made me a believer. I was so negative, so impatient, and not recognizing the human being in front of me. This from working at being much more positive in my life. Evidently I am positive when it comes to just me but not when I am am around others. At least I know in my latter decades of teaching I was definitely better at working with my students and their fragile souls…now I have to extend that to all I come into contact with. That was quite the lesson.

Now I am reading (while I wait for Conversations with God) When Everything Changes, Change Everything by Walsch. This is timely, since hubby has open heart surgery in less than two weeks, and life will definitely be changing in both the short and long term. First change – don’t go it alone. I tend to keep to myself and not involve a lot of people in my life, even wen they are good friends. I have come to see that as a result of having to protect myself emotionally while growing up. But I have let a lot of folks know about the surgery, and I realize I can – and will -0 ask for help along the 12-weeks of recovery.

In a nutshell, this is more of the Enlightenment journey since this summer. It doesn’t even include all the science I have been reading – more on that in another post.

Summer and Fall of Enlightenment – Part 2

A lot of new authors this summer – keeping the public library very busy! I think I am done with romance writers for a while – too much new and interesting stuff I am discovering! I do need some new sci fy to keep me busy. But first, Noah Gordon – a new author to me. Started with Shaman – great historical picture of medicine in the 1800’s as well as in-depth looks at life in Indian country, biases/prejudices about native Americans and Jews, Civil War and medicine. Long involved stories, well written, and really great description. This main character had so many dimensions, and a love and dedication to everything involving medicine, even when it meant being a war surgeon on the front lines of the Civil War. The story revolved around the father and son, and you could see the influence of one on the other.

This is the kind of historical fiction I love – broad, sweeping, involved, accurate….all great attributes, and you are very sorry to see it end…another trip to the library for the next book by him. It reminds me of a lot of the historical fiction I read in the 60s and 70s ‘- long historic family stories, great characters, but his later books are so much better in terms of depth of character and involvement. So yeah, it will be hard to go back to basic romance. (D0n’t want to forget to mention Five Smooth Stones from the 60’s – LOVED that book.)

Gordon’s second book was The Physician – absolutely amazing – medicine in the 11th century, with a very detailed look at Jewish life, medieval England, travels to the Middle East, and the role of Islam in teaching medicine. Thoroughly researched, fascinating picture of Jewish and Islamic life entwined, the early study of medicine, and the classical study involved to become a “hakkim” – physician – at the time. I was left at the end of the book thinking about the amazing life this main character led, all he had learned, and he ends up content doctoring in a small herding village in the wilds of Scotland for the rest of his life, as a practicing Christian, after years of immersion masquerading as a Jew. The conflict between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is well-developed, and yet Islam seemed to be the more forgiving of the religions to difference.

I still am processing how I felt/feel about his leaving all the knowledge and learning behind as he retires to Scotland – it kind of coincides with how I feel about not teaching any more. I’m retired, but I still feel like I have much to contribute. When I have the learning that Rob Cole had, how could I leave it for the rest of my life? After this I read The Last Jew about Jewish life in Spain during the Inquisition. Some of the same thoughts- such a revelation about Jewish life, the Inquisition, and the horrid excesses and cruelty of the Inquisition and the Catholic Church. I am once again appalled at the excesses and intractability of organized religion, which has led to some more of my readings in other ares – for other blog posts.Now I am reading what turns out to be his first book from 1965 called The Rabbi.  Not nearly with the complexity of his later books, but still a good character study.

I am jealous at his ability to write such descriptive phrases – so I set myself a task to see something each day and try to describe it – which I do and it seems so “straight-forward” and bland (as did Hemingway) , but then I try and turn it into a simile or metaphor just to play around with the words…interesting how quickly I seem to go for a cliche – so something for me to work on. Love me my word play!

 

…and in looking for these, I discovered a third Cole book in a trilogy – Matters of Choice – need to get back to the library!

Organizing for Marketing

This image is from my time with adult coloring books last year – trying out colors, experimenting. I love symmetry, but then I also like something a little unusual….which is where I am right now as I approach a new project. I really need to develop  more sources for passive income. I’m taking a free class right now from Convertkit on Product Creation – great ideas, and after two weeks of reading the information (a daily lesson), I decided to start at the beginning and develop a series of products that are useful to others. Hence, Organizing for Marketing.

The title is going through some revisions – still not catchy enough for me. But I already have all this content – in an iBook that isn’t selling  – and yes, I really haven’t done much to market it in the three years it’s been available (or is it four? Funny how time stretches out when you’re not teaching….).

So this is my first brainstorming at trying to make sense of what I want in this ebook product. I am very good at marketing and creating and organizing, so it makes sense to focus right there. When I reviewed the book last night, there is enough information to make it into three or four smaller ebooks and develop a continuous stream of ideas and techniques for people.

The first key is targeting my market. I work in fiber and textiles – pretty much a niche market when looking at the art world, although we are slowly making progress into mainstream. Thus I want to focus this on those of us who do art that is generally out of the mainstream. What can we do to get our work looked at, sold, appreciated?

Here’s my accountability checklist for this coming week, ending Tuesday, May 16, with my initial thoughts:

  • Determine revised structure of the ebook. I need to break up the information in the original book into smaller segments for action, and increase the information included in each of the segments.
  • Determine my ideal customer for this book. Who is my audience…artists without a lot of money to spend on marketing, artists with unique products, artists who have issues getting organized and accomplishing tasks.
  • Write two additional blogs this week – what questions do you want answered in a marketing book for those of us working in a niche market, and how would this be different from all the other marketing books out there? I need to make sure I start getting feedback from folks to help direct my work.
  • Evaluate ebook publishing sources and ease of use. CreateSpace seems mostly for print; research it more fully. Kindle seems easy and quick to do. IBooks seems too limiting, although I do have experience with that platform.
  • Plan for a “bonus” for people who buy this ebook. Already thinking about many of the blog posts I’ve already done in my Top Ten series. I think these could be manipulated into a bonus, once links are checked, and focus determined. Happened to just think about expanding ideas for Top Ten for other Bonus offerings.
  • Keep playing with title ideas. Suggestions certainly welcome! Organize, marketing, niche products…….
  • Determine launch date for the ebook – probably beginning of August.

Feel free to give me ideas and help keep me accountable to this project! You can be in the book with your website and product for helping out.

ORIGINAL BOOK

Ready, set, go – give me feedback!

Back Again….Hopefully Longer….

Holiday2011C

It’s been an interesting year. Two years ago this time, I looked at my blog and was 200 posts away from 1000. I thought no problem, I can do that easily. Well, I am still about 185 posts away from 1000. Life really has gotten in the way, with illness, depression, and a sense of disequilibrium. It has taken a while to determine what paths I will be following.

It is also ironic that while I haven’t written many blog posts, I have written 110,000 words in a novel. This has been ongoing since August of 2013. I am nearing the end of what looks to be volume one of a trilogy. It is my way of processing political events in this country and trying to deal with how this country is changing. It has meant some interesting research (what is the saying about a true friend? One who will clean out your browser history after you die?). I’ve delved into some pretty terrible things on human trafficking, read lots of government reports, and overall tried to get up to speed on policy that I haven’t spent much time caring about in the past. It will be interesting to see if I can find a publisher….in the meantime, I have started a webpage for the book: http://the-secession-wars.webnode.com/. This is very much a work in progress, and I want to include writing tips as I finish up the novel.

I’m doing a lot of quilting. I’ve been slowly moving away from the marbling business, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. We still enjoy marbling, but the business end of it is tedious. I have lots of projects using the fabrics I have, but not the energy to do anything. I have been quilting other projects, and I have four commissions for quilts lined up: for a good friend, for a new baby,
for my yoga instructor, and for my great niece. I made the commitment to myself that when each of my eight great nieces and nephews turn 13, I will gift them a quilt. Gracie is the oldest, and she turns 13 this August. I want to have the quilt finished for when we move back east and stop to see them on the way. I found a great fleece in her favorite color for the backing, so that’s in the queue.

I’ve also taken up sketching again, through a couple of Craftsy classes. I did some sketching on the road this summer, but I want to make this a regular habit. Pen and ink has always been my medium (and charcoal, too), which is probably why I took to zentangles so quickly.

I have joined a weekly writing group to make my writing more of a regular practice. We meet for two hours and just write – a brief statement of intentions from each person in the group, and then it is total silence for writing. It’s been great, and I think it will get me back to blogging on a regular basis.

So this is a quick catch-up, more so for myself, as I look back on what has happened over the last years.

Till next time…..

8-0-1….801 Posts – Oh My!

Wow. I have written 800 blog posts since I started some years ago…..January of 2007. I figured I’d keep the blog just for posting with the Photoshop class I was taking, but I’ve come to really enjoy writing and reflecting. Like a diary, which I could never seem to do when I was younger. But now I can look back, see how my art has grown, reflect on different pieces. It is amusing to see some of the very beginning Photoshop pieces:I was pretty thrilled with that first attempt….little did I know what I still needed to learn about layers!

This next taught me a lot about luminescence, even though I didn’t know it at the time!

I really liked the examples I first posted some 6 years ago. I look at tyhem now and see that part of why I liked them was that they really showed some of the principles of design. I just didn’t know it at the time.

I’ve also been able to document a lot of our marbling through the web page, and I do need to do more of that, since we are building our audience significantly. That said, here’s a look at just one of the pieces we turned out on Tuesday this week.

Putting the layers of paint on the carrageenan size:

Starting the pattern with our personally-made “high tech” tools:

The nonpareil pattern – a very traditional pattern created after about four previous steps:

Looking at the pattern from the back side, after the fabric (on orange Kona cotton) had been laid on the size:

Here it is from the front:

It’s been a good week!

Top Ten Tuesday – NEW Blogs!

Well, over the last two weeks, as I have been getting more heavily into marketing, I’;ve discovered a BUNCH of great new blogs. So here goes:

More Design Please – great ideas! I’m seeing some great ideas – would love to do some serious purchasing…..Love these lasercut lamps!

 Another blog called Observatory Mansions – an ongoing discovery of all that is visual yet more than just visual (from the site) –

Ball Droppings – hours of fun, and be sure to have the sound on! The picture does not do it justice!

Mood music at your fingertips….StereoMood – just a small piece of moods!

From StumbleUpon I found this interesting article  Amazingly Creative Drawing vs. Photography. My art taecher friends tell me this is similar to a drawing exercise they have students do in finishing a photography. In a class with Lyric Kinard, we needed to extend the color on a postcard – very interesting attention to details!

Loads of tutorials and DIY projects at Craft Gossip:

Another cool DIY blog – 20 Awesome Do It Yourself Projects

25 Spectacular Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen – I think I’ve seen two on this list, but the Netflix queue is going to be filling up. Interesting plots……The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is one I’ve seen – A.MA.ZING. movie…..

Some pretty amazing paper sculpture – here’s Calvin’s Behance site.

While Banned Books Week has ended, I’m getting caught up with Letters of Note, and this is a marvelous letter by Pat Conroy concerning the banning of two of his books. Well stated, quite eloquent. If you don’t like a book, then don’t read it, but stay away from telling me what I can read myself.

Have a great week – let me know cool stuff that you find on line!

Bogged Down…..

Okay, I have 15 minutes before I have a solid three hours of uninterrupted time before I leave to go tutoring. There are so many things to do right now, and I feel like I am desperately running short of time to complete a major project. So I need to process this in writing – which I have found over the last few years (since I’ve been keeping the blog) that this really helps.

Deadline is February 13 for a major art quilt. Last night I actually said, “Well, maybe I won’t finish it for this show.” Bah! BIG BAH!! I can’t do that, because it has kept me in the past from a lot of opportunities. I need to quilt during the day, as the light is so much better. And I really don’t have that much more quilting to do….break to email my second mom about bringing the shredded money with her tonight to dinner so I can begin to do the lichens….

So where was I? I also need to get a newsletter done ASAP. I missed ALL of last year, and it is a major goal for this year, especially since we have had a lot of new followers. But reality is I can do that at night on the computer when all is quiet.

We have a big Etsy order to go out, and I finished up what I need to do there. I can see I’m getting bogged down with my “brain dump” from Sunday, doing lots of little things, when I’m avoiding the really big, DO ME NOW, piece.

So, I’ve done my yoga, dinner is ready for tonight, tutoring is set to go for this afternoon, it’s 11:oo, and I am going to go sew…..my goal is to finish the actual quilting this afternoon and perhaps start the blocking.

How do you handle times when you get bogged down? I could use some great insights and ideas……

Later, y’all.

Top Ten Tuesday

Lots of catching up to do on blogs, having been gone for 5 days – some really interesting stuff this week.

From JPG Magazine, the best of the color red. Their photo challenges are not to be missed for the outstanding photography.

Hanging Bell - Qing Yang

From our friends the federal government comes a list of interesting blogs:

Copyright Matters: Digitization and Public Access

Recent Posts

And lots more….

This guy is so cool – Paul Nosa and solar-powered sewing….you just have to see this newest:

A great tutorial on making this octagonal block,,,,, from The Modern Quilt Guild. Looks like fun!

This next is just interesting to me, as someone (and who hasn’t) purchased Franklin Mint stuff. “There’s No Accounting for Taste.”

Yeah, I kinda barfed at the plates, too.

 From The Best Article Every Day – paper sculptures. I LOVE paper sculptures!

From Dale Anne Potter comes two interesting links, Art and Artists – free documentaries.

And oh….art on Docu-Watch – too many good choices!

Photoshop Friday – It’s 600 TIme!

Wow, I’ve written 60o blog posts! This from someone who could never keep a diary. I guess I just didn’t have the technology waaaayyyy back when. I have new work for this Photoshop Friday, but I thought it would be fun to view some of the first posts.

My first entry:

I finally did it! I set up a blog so I can write about our marbling and related art thoughts. I’ll be posting photos of the new Photoshop class I am starting. Be kind – I am learning how to take criticism!! This has been something I have been meaning to do as a way of recording process and product, and at the same time motivate me to do more fiber work. And…I can tell my students I am finally “almost” as technologically savvy as they are! (January 26, 2007…..)

I probably wasn’t convinced this would go beyond the Photoshop classes I was starting at the time. You can see my very first Photoshop drawing here. I have since changed blogging platforms, and I don’t have my backup close at hand, so the link will have to do.

Today my work is based either on photographic images I have taken or some of the marbled fabrics we have created. The piece I’m working on today is from fabric. Hubby was downloading pictures for ebay this week, and I saw this picture of fabric from a distance, and I said, hmmmm……

So here’s the original fabric.

Then I started working with some shapes from each section of the fabric.

Then I felt I needed to change the background for more ocntrast.

I’m not sure this background color is going to stay…I have also been playing around with gradients, and I think one of those might work.

Yup, definitely like this one the best.

 

Comments? What do you think? What else does it need?

 

Top Ten Tuesday

To start us off this week comes a post from Dumb Little Man on productivity – stating that multi-tasking is a myth. I tend to agree, now that I’m older and can’t do what I used to….Number 6? Exercising regularly…….

Tips for pricing your goods – a series of articles from Handmadeology.

Another “shoot-out” from JPG magazine – some really gorgeous eye candy.

Fairy Chimneys by Aileen G

A new blog I discovered – Delete Apathy – with photos of Hurricane Irene.

“Delete Apathy is a venue for creative people to change the political climate of environmental and social policy. We hope to form a pattern for activism in your backyard. Delete Apathy is our signature for various events and includes choreographed dances, musical compositions, and other fine arts, planned for major universities and institutions.”

I drove Highway 12 on the Outer Banks for many years. Just one of the places I’ve been or have friends.

Highway 12, The Outer Banks

For zentangle lovers, some of you may have struggled with Paradox. I did, until I started being slower, more deliberate, and turned my tile more often. Well, from CZT Margaret Bremner comes a wonderful tutorial on Paradox.

From Joan Beiriger’s blog comes a post on licensing for calendars…something that has been on my mind as I organize my various collections.

And along with this is Joan’s article with a list of over 50 US art licensing agencies. Some great info here.

A little bit of fun with this video – could you see the pranks you could play??

From the OMG file and Cool Hunting – they always spotlight really cool gadgets and new products. Can you find the one that prompted me to go OMG?

And from Kate Harper Designs comes a cool video on typography – extremely interesting, as is everything on her blog.

Send me your cool stuff – it’s amazing what’s out there, and let’s share what we find.

 

Monday Marketing – Social Media Revisited

After nearly three months of work to get Marble-T Design in shape for some serious expansion, I have been thinking about the role of social media, since that has been a big focus. I’ve also been thinking about the market pieces in place now and how they are working.

Biggest help of all so far has been getting up and operating on Linked In. I completed my profile with two basic pieces: the art and my interest in doing private tutoring, with the emphasis on the art business. Even more so has been the group aspect of Linked In. I’ve joined a couple of discussion groups and met some great folks. Art Business, Art Marketing, Manhattan Arts International, and TAFA have been incredibly productive. Advice, people viewing and commenting on the art, increase in “Likes” on the fan page as a result of round robin visiting – lots more people know about our marbling.

Twitter – can’t seem to develop this one to the extent I probably should. I do tweet interesting articles, retweet others’ information, but I am lucky to get a half hour each day to read recent tweets. I do know that taking advantage of the Tweet aspect of listing items on Etsy has led to a lot more views, as well as some sales. That’s a plus, but I can’t seem to devote the time – at this point – to being a major presence in TwitterWorld. I use Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets, but I got really frustrated when it wasn’t posting tweets for the TAFA fund raiser. That’s on my long-term list of things to do, because frankly, it’s not a priority right now.

Facebook has been great – of recent interest has been the 7th grade picture of my class in elementary school – lots of interesting comments there! But in terms of business, the Fan page has been much more active, with an increase in “Likes,” and I am trying to post something every day. With the integrating features, my blog automatically gets posted, as well as Etsy items, and I try to get an Ebay item up at least once a week. I can tell from the stats on Ebay that the traffic increases each time I post. And…sales have been up.

Responding. This is the key. You just can’t read this stuff without letting people know you’re out there, enjoying/responding to what they’ve posted. And that takes time. But it has to be done, and done in a meaningful manner. When I first started blogging (some 528 posts ago), I was thrilled the few times a comment came in, but I never acknowledged it.You must do that, and you must have something sincere to say. I love doing this now – it is so gratifying that someone visits, and I want to respond to that.

Ebay – business is increasing, and we can see that because we are marbling more often.

Etsy – slowly starting to build. The key has been finding the niche market for Etsy, which is some of our more expensive marbled fabrics, not the big art pieces. I do think with the right marketing I can sell some of the small marbled art pieces, if I keep things under fifty dollars.

Blog – back to almost every day, and traffic is increasing significantly. I’m finally taking the advice of some other bloggers and having at least one day a week for what’s on sale from Marble-T Design. I do enjoy writing, and I enjoy visiting other blogs. I’ve expanded additional pages on the blog, from art blogs to visit to resources available. I still have more that I want to add.

These have been the Big Three that are in place and are working. Each week I am nurturing them along.

Website – we need to add more items (we used to have close to 14 items available for sale), and we need to increase the traffic/sales to the site. I need to update some of the art work, and I have done some rewriting of copy within the site.

Cafe Press – well, not so much, but I am advertising something each week. It’s been interesting to see the Cafe Press ads online – every time I see one, one of the items is usually our gecko tote bag.

Marketing materials – new business cards with all the social media information on them, thanks to Vista Print freebies. Plus, new postcards as thank-you’s for customers, encouraging them to sign up for our newsletter and win free fabric.

BUT – absolutely the BEST thing in all of this is that hubby and I are finally able to work together each day with our art, creating and having fun together all the while.

 

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

100 Day Challenge – Season 1

Monday was the 100th day of Season 1 in the Cocreating Our Reality Challenge to practice the Law of Attraction and Abundance and bring more into your life. It has been a pretty amazing 100 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have been more than converted to positive thinking and goal-setting for what we would like to attract into our lives.

I started by setting some goals. I really gave some thought to these, as I tend to blow off this part of an exercise. What I have realized as these 100 days went by is that I dreamed too small. I am now thinking about a new set of goals for these next 100 days and Season 2, and I want to think bigger – I WILL think bigger.

The goals for the first season:

Order storage and redesign the apartment for better creativity and “flowing” work space; well, I redesigned the studio and spent money to buy better storage. The difference is amazing – more productivity, better sense of energy flow through the space, everything has its place, and I am more productive. In fact, I have an organized marketing notebook that seems to be working to guide me through what I want to accomplish.

Break 200 pounds by August 8; hasn’t happened. I have spent more time working on being positive about my body image and what I really want to accomplish with this goal. I am trying to be positive. I have spent over half my life overweight, and I am not expecting miracles, but I know healthwise this has to happen. So I need to get rid of the negativity in that last sentence and expect miracles. I KNOW I can do this.

Dream/think regularly about money coming to me; this took a while for me to work on. I am not used to thinking about money coming to me all the time. Usually it’s about how I need to have enough money to pay the bills. This is a major mental change. And there is money in the bank, the bills are paid, and two trips are planned. That Law of Abundance check only took one month for me to see how it works. I am hooked on those checks. I also am learning to recognize when my thinking is somewhat pessimistic about money, and I am trying to change that vibration.

Set up tutoring goals; I updated my Linked In profile to reflect the tutoring, and I have had business cards made, as well as asked for some recommendations for my skills from Linked In. I have been putting off a brochure, primarily because school is just now starting. I have realized that I am not at all enthused about either substitute teaching or even tutoring because it would take away from my time on my other pursuits. Definitely no subbing in the future for me, but I need to rethink the tutoring.

Plan my life after teaching (retirement); this is working very well. I have had to change my sleep schedule since I don’t need so much sleep, which has been challenging. I am marketing, sewing, designed, taking art classes, reading – all the things I said I wanted to do.

Get back to blogging on a regular basis;  I’m doing this pretty successfully on this blog, not so much with the art blog and the weight loss blog. But the focus for all of this is to build the art business to help support retirement (which seems to be happening), so I am focusing on this blog. The numbers have grown from just over 500 in June to over 800 for the last 30 days. Definite progress.

Make conscious plans and activities to work for peace. This has to become a priority for the next 100 days. I haven’t done anything this season, but I have been thinking about what I want to do. Now I have to implement the plans.

NEXT SEASON’S CHALLENGE GOALS, starting Monday, August 15 and ending November 19:

Break 200 pounds.

Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans.

Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt.

Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center.

Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on).

Take three tutoring clients in mathematics.

Update Art from the Heart website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings.

Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined.

Complete the first three action plans in I’d Rather Be In the Studio by Alyson Stanfield.

Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals.

Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four.

And so it goes……

 

 

 

Monday Marketing – Creating a Schedule

It’s Monday again….and it seems like all I did was read, look at emails, and set up buttons and the like. This is the “time-sucker.” So my goal for this blog post is to try and identify what needs to be done each week for marketing and set up a kind of calendar to work with.

This is what I’m dealing with: Ebay, Etsy, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Cafe Press, Zazzle, newsletters, a website, lynda.com, flickr, and a blog. I am trying to avoid doing all of this every day, because nothing else seems to get done. I’m brainstorming as I write, with the hope that by the time this post is done, I will have a plan.

Ebay: hubby handles almost all of this, including postal trips. But…if we are going to increase sales, we need more product, and I would like to help with the actual marbling. So…..marbling weekly. I do need to update the About Me page…..

Etsy: the bulk of the organization is done. But…I need to be adding product on a regular basis, which means I need to keep making things. It would be nice to have one new product up each week, if not more often. One of the goals this week is to add some of the major artwork (even though I don’t expect to sell it on Etsy, it is more exposure) on the site, as the pictures are redone. I want to continue with the circles marketing, which, if I have enough products, could be done every day – 15 minutes for this. Plus, I need to keep working…….

LinkedIn: profile is done, and I have registered for several groups for business. I have found already difficulty in keeping up with reading emails each day from the groups and have already deleted one group. This week I will determine which groups look to be the most advantageous. I also need to complete the setting up of a profile of artwork.

Facebook: I read this several times a day. I have a fan page which needs serious work, as well as Art From The Heart, which is to support healing art after the Tucson shootings in January. I have added FB buttons to my blog and this week to my website. I have read the Terms and looked at all the privacy settings. I also went through the photo stream stuff for FB and fixed photos for both the personal and fan page. I need to really think through what is going to happen with the Fan Page.

Twitter: I am finishing a class from lynda.com on using Facebook and Twitter for business, and I highly recommend the site. For #25 you can choose different trainings all available for a month at your schedule. I picked up all kinds of little tips, most of which have already been implemented. But….and this is a BIG but….the time for tweets and what to tweet. By syncing a lot of the programs, my blog appears on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, my tweets appear in a couple of places. I don’t think I can go further with this – the tweet button is on the blog and soon to be on the website. This is one area that needs some serious scheduling. Since I use TweetDeck (which is free…), I can schedule and keep track of who’s following and what is getting retweeted. So…I’m going to use Sundays for scheduling business tweets for the week, and I will look through the twitter feed once a day to see if there’s some good stuff to retweet.

Cafe Press: I have a site, a free one, so I am limited as to the number of products I can put up. I haven’t looked at this in several months and it needs serious work. To have a store isn’t much money each month, and I could have a lot more products available, but the issue is marketing and driving people to the site. I have some great digital stuff already to go, and I need to start planning around the holidays, reading about marketing through Cafe Press, and so on.

Zazzle: Ditto for Cafe Press……both are not a high priority right now.

Newsletters: oy, it’s been months since a newsletter went out, and I have all these contacts where nothing is happening. I used Constant Contact last year for a few months, until I couldn’t keep up with the demands and school at the same time. I was happy with it, but disappointed that not many people actually read it. I need to go back to a newsletter and offerings at least once every three weeks, and more during the holiday seasons. I need to check out Mail Chimp, which is free, and I have heard people have good luck with it. I’ll try and make this a priority this week.

Website: Most of the changes to the website have been made by my wonderful web lady Suzan. I need to get a couple of buttons set up, and then do something about newsletters and contacts. I also have some pages to add on Digital Marbling (TN), and I need to evaluate “print on demand” for artwork. This is a “need to think about” topic…..

lynda.com: I have until Friday to finish my month of training. I still need to finish Twitter, and I want to get the html newsletter course done. I am not going to continue with Dreamweaver because it isn’t a priority.

Flickr: I have photos up, not all of them with copyrights, and there is a class on lynda.com if I have time. I’m not really sure what I want to do here….

And finally, my blog, Marbled Musings. I went a bunch of months with no new writing, and I’m at maybe three times a week. I need to get back to at least four times a week, and eventually every day. I have plenty to write about…and I need to stay up with my Google reader – as well as comment more on some of the posts. This is probably the biggest area for marketing that I have to schedule.

Weekly:

* Marbling fabric

* Work on Etsy products

* Sewing and other design

Mondays:

* Add Etsy product

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Monday Marketing

* Google reader and at least three comments

Tuesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Top Ten Tuesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Wednesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Work in progress Wednesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Thursday:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog – Thursday Thoughts

* Google reader and at least three comments

Fridays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Photoshop Friday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Saturdays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog posting on Specials

* Google reader and at least three comments

Sundays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Schedule Tweets for the week (i.e. Etsy, Ebay…)

* Blog Sunday Stories

* Google reader and at least three comments

Goals for next week:

* FINISH LYNDA.COM

*Update “About Me” page on Ebay

* Update Etsy products, especially note cards

* Evaluate how calendar is working

* See if buttons are added to the website

* Decisions on what will happen with the Facebook Fan page

* Long-term thoughts – what to do with CafePress and Zazzle

* Read and decide about Mail Chimp for a newsletter

* Spend some time thinking about what the website still needs….

Okay, I think I have a handle on this…we’ll see next week as I evaluate how the week goes. And…I’m taking some online classes!

Thoughts??

A Life-Changing Few Months

To say that it has been a while is an understatement. My last posts dealt with the Tucson shootings, and the aftermath for the community has been ongoing. Many in the community have been dealing with personal issues surrounding the events, from getting updates on Gabby Giffords and coping with the weird Arizona legislature to trying to understand our roles as humans working together.

For me, it has meant two months of a pretty severe depression, trying to cope with understanding so many of the historical aspects of this country coming in to play, trying to manage what the economy is doing to individuals, and getting ready to retire from a career of 40 years in education. I had to remove myself from almost everything extra in my life beyond the day-to-day coping within the classroom. I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of being sad. I didn’t even do a Fish Follies entry this year.

At Christmas we decided to move the retirement date to June of 2012. Hubby had some major health issues in January that will eventually lead to major surgery, and all I could think about was not having time together. His next CT scan will be in August, right when school starts again. That was probably the tipping point to look at retirement this May. I made the final decision the end of February to retire after working all the numbers with the retirement folks, and then a month ago applied for SSI.

Gotta tell ya, when I made the decision, it was like a weight had lifted. I started packing my classroom the next day – and it took the three months to get it all finished. Most of my math manipulatives, books, and supplies went to an organization called Treasures4Teachers – will be a nice tax deduction, and they were very grateful for all the goodies and posters.

In April, during spring break, we spent time with our friends up north who now have a place in Cornville, AZ, just south of Sedona right along Oak Creek. It is a gorgeous, restful spot. I was admiring all of my friend’s storage, and the conversation turned to the fact that maybe one of the problems getting back into the studio was the need to reorganize. Which got me thinking, and over the next month I started cleaning and organizing, and looking for new storage that would work. We’re about half-way through at this point, and the place looks great – and even better – feels great. Two more sets of shelves and we should be just about done. But I don’t think I’ll be waiting to get in there to sew.

So I’m recovering slowly from the depression, starting the rest of my life on my terms, planning on a nice run of happiness. And I’ll be back to blogging and creating and marbling and reading and writing and Photoshop and traveling and being with people and working for peace….

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