Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Trying to Learn Something About Value…..

…that could also read “something OF value,” but I want to focus in on the issue of value and color in design….something I know I am really weak on. I’m choosing a couple of pics that I really like for design composition and playing around with Photoshop filters to see what they tell me about the composition. This is different from how I usually approach working with Photoshop….play around until I get something that says Wow. This time I’m looking at the elements of the picture and trying to see how they change and why I like – or don’t like – the design.

Here’s my first photo, taken in Jericho, Vermont two summers ago, at the Old Mill, which houses much of the history of hubby’s family.

I love everything about this picture: the greens, the mill red, the flowing water, the fact that I’ve got it composed in thirds. And you can’t see that right behind me is very busy Route 15. So what did I learn from this exercise?

Primarily I am much more aware of the basic lines in the composition. The lines don’t change, but the focal point does, depending on the filter or effect I used. There is one example that I would consider making up in cloth, as I find it intriguing, and I’ve never tried anything like that. The others are just interesting to analyze. Here goes:

I love black and white. After three weeks in Seattle this spring, I developed a whole new appreciation for shades of gray (no, not the book……). I want to take this photo and play around with a few sections of rock to see what I might be able to sketch.

This is the “sponge” filter, and it’s one I really like. Shadows and subtle colors really come out in this filter. Once again I am amazed at all the shades of green there are. There’s more shading in the mill, as opposed to the original, but the movement of the water is lost.

This is the “find edges” filter. Interesting to see where basic pieces of fabric would be. I think I can also see the dark, medium, and light of the photo.

Accented edges filter. More of a pattern to follow if I wanted to recreate this. I did a small cropping that I could see in a 12 x 12 piece. I’m liking the shadows.

This is the “patchwork” filter, and I could see making this up as a larger wall quilt. The filter allows you to make the squares larger or smaller, but I am really curious to see how this would work up in piecing. I need to print this out larger and use my little red rectangle and look at the values closer.

Well, I have managed to lose my original with all the filters listed on it, so c***.  What I like about this above photo is the additional shading that is present in the rocks, and in the red portion of the mill. Lots more texture, and I could see using some colored pencils to enhance the fabric pieces.

I believe this is a watercolor filter, and I like it. I can see looking for specific fabrics for this piece, rather than trying to do lots of little pieces togather. I could see just cutting pattern pieces and fusing them into place. I like the softness.

Palette knife, I think. I like the general clumps of color, and as I reflect on this, I could see making this into a small abstract. The image is still recognizable, and I like how you can see an actual pattern to follow in putting this together.

This is mosaic tiles, and I like the effect better than the patchwork photo above. I’d have to spend some time thinking about how to get the “grout” effect…..maybe a mottled gray color with texture in it as the background piece, and then the tiles cult at somewhat irregular edges so the grout shows through. I cropped a piece to see….

This is an inversion adjustment, and I like these because I always see something different when the colors are completely different. The yellow accents the shape of the edge of the mill in a way you don’t notice in the original photo. The rushing water doesn’t show up at all.

Forgot the adjustment, but the amount of purple really accents the amount of green in the original photo. And I like the way the shapes of the rocks are accented.

This is a red/yellow gradient, and I like playing around with gradients. Very other-worldly, but I don’t see taking this piece any further.

I saw some quilts a while back that were based on Joen Wolfrom’s color tool. People chose a color and then worked solely in the range of that color. Results were pretty dramatic. This is a color filter in a deep blue. I think I would print this out and take it fabric shopping and see just how well I could pick out various blues and other shades that have a blue cast to them.

That’s my first study, and I definitely need to do more of these. I feel like I have a better understanding of the composition of the original picture. Next up, my wrought iron photo….

Work in Progress Wednesday

Busy week! The commission piece (the triptych that wasn’t) is done, awaiting beading. As I was on the floor at yoga last Friday, I was looking at a very skinny part of the wall and thought, this would be perfect for a long piece. On Thursday night I had started the stitching on the lichen, and I absolutely loved the way they worked out, and I no longer wanted to cut the piece into three. This skinny wall section will be perfect. So over the weekend I steamed and blocked the piece, got the binding on and hand-stitched down. Love it! Took it to yoga on Monday to show her, and she is thrilled. The only thing needed at this point is some blue beads along the “stream” to add an additional color and bring the piece together. Formal pictures next week when the beading is done.

Also completed are two new fiber bowls for my gift baskets of marbled fabrics, set to go up in the Etsy store. We’re doing pictures later today so I can get the stuff up in the store. Wrapping clothesline with fabric is the absolutely perfect activity for watching television at night.

And…I am finally starting another major piece that has been brewing for a couple of months. I’ve had the backing since October, and the marbled fabric was done in September. I finally got the batting two weeks ago, and today I made the sandwich, chose thread, and started the quilting. It’s sort of a whole cloth, but not really. There’s no piecing at this point until this center medallion is done, and then I’ll just kind of see what happens. This seems to be the way I work….intuitively, guessing along the way, trial and error. Most of the time it works.

Here’s the first focus fabric….very “brain-looking,” and I’m approaching it as though these were dendrites in the brain. Doing a thread check –

– going for the one on the top, as I like the black section in the thread…looks like the nerve endings are skipping, which is the look I want. The lower thread will be in the bobbin.

I started the stitching, and then I took everything out – not happy with tension, and I wanted to analyze the pattern yet again.

This picture, when I saw it through the view screen of the camera, made me somewhat upset. I couldn’t see the discrimination of the black and the blue through my own eyes. I am having to look at it through a photo, so I know where I want to stitch. THis is the first time that I am aware of my eyes not being true to what I am seeing and want to do. Doesn’t make me happy…..

 

So I took my own advice from the Monday Marketing post to just get in there and do the work…I did, and I have a lot to show for it, with more to come.

 

Selling on Etsy……

So the Etsy shop was on hiatus while we went to Seattle and back. I’ve added lots of new fabrics in cotton and basically restocked the store. Now, we have had some movement within the store. Certainly more this past year than totally since I opened the shop. But I feel like there is so much more I can do. I need to get the links done to my TAFA (Textile and Fiber Arts list) profile, and just generally think about how I can market this. By the end of the month I expect to have silks and some other specialty fabrics in the shop.

Ebay has been great for small pieces of fabrics and remnant bags. In fact, remnants have been the big seller on eBay, so we’ll keep it that way. I will use Etsy for the specialty fabrics, and the fabrics that are more expensive. This is one of the ways I feel we can specialize, and at the same time differentiate product. I need to do some reading on getting an Etsy store to be productive, so that is one of my goals for the rest of this month. By the end of May I want to have a couple of pattern kits in the store, complete with fabric. I have two of the samples made, and I am ready to start writing the pattern, as well as complete the remaining two samples. That’s my May goal.

I have sold a couple of small quilts in the store, so I should think about increasing a few of those, especially around the holidays. Speaking of holidays, I have not been able to take advantage of buying for specific days…and Mother’s Day is coming up. I need to think about how to incorporate that.

All that said, here’s a look at the fabrics waiting for you and your projects, be they quilts, wearable art, or applique. Perfect for that creative person you know!!

 

 

Monday Marketing

 

 Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness…..and I could go on! What an amazing four days of art we just had….and we did quite a bit of marketing along the way. We just returend from Road 2 California – my first large quilt show since Market in 2003, and hubby’s first large quilt show. Two days of amazing quilts (photos to follow this week, after I get myself reoriented to basic life here….), plus a day at the Getty Museum – and coping with I-405….interesting experience there……

One of the best things I did in preparation for the show was bring three really great fat quarters with me, just in case someone was “interested” in seeing marbled fabric. One fat quarter went to the “quilt royalty” that was at the show, and one went to Susan Else, the guest artist – she will definitely have something different to use in her sculptures.

It was really helpful as we were looking at some of the cool tools to pull out the actual fabric and ask questions very specific to its use. This was particularly true at the Pellon booth, as we were talking we began to realize that if we are to take our fiber work to the next level, we need to seriously consider what is used in between the layers. We looked at embroidery machines, as I really would like to include some machine embroidery in the new pieces, and we had a fascinating discussion with the Brother people that could potentially lead to some licensing opportunities.

I collected a lot of business cards, as there was either a really interesting tool or embellishment I want to share. Hardly any book dealers, which is why I may need to consider Market this year or next. Speaking of books….I got home to about 300 emails, one of which was a request for photos to be in a book. That’s definitely a follow-through for this week. Renewed my Quilt Show membership so I can keep up with what’s happening in the field.

Interesting marketing observations. One company with really interesting hand-painted fabric doesn’t have a website. They only sell at shows. They don’t want to photograph fabric so people can see exactly what they are going to buy. I understand that; that’s precisely why there are some online venues that won’t take us, because they feel the need to photograph every piece of fabric. That’s why we sell on eBay and Etsy – what you see is what you get. We have a note on our ordering page on our website about why there aren’t pictures. We don’t get many orders off the website, but that’s okay, because we have other venues. No hand-marbled fabrics at the show, but there was a booth with commercial marbled fabric; nice line of fabric, much more subtle than what has been released by major companies in the last few years. Lots of quilts made up – using a stained glass approach – using the marbled fabric. Interesting to see.

Some booths had absolutely no information, beyond a business card with only an email. I tried making notes, but I figured there’s no way I’d be sharing that information. No web presence, and no pictures allowed to let people know what was available. Hopefully they make enough doing shows to make it worth their while. We couldn’t do that; the press of making fabric for our Seattle trip is enough.

It’s probably the most fun to put names and faces to cyber contacts and to ooh and aah at the gorgeous artwork. We went through the quilts twice, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and trying to find time to just enjoy the quality workmanship. I wouldnt have been able to take this amount of time had I not been retired…..

And after all that, as I was perusing and cleaning out emails, I stumbled across this older email that I hadn’t read, from resident web guru Suzan. I know there are more applications to marketing than meets the eye, but since we artists rely on our hands to make our art, this seems interesting food for thought. A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design.

Stay tuned – lots of pictures in the works!!!

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

Top Ten Tuesday

I found a bunch of new, interesting art sites this week, plus the Free Motion Quilting Challenge started – you can see the badge on the right side, and it’s not too late to sign up. I’m looking forward to practicing a new pattern each month.

A new blog – The Creativity Post – looks to be very interesting, and I love the stuff on brain research.

The Creativity Post is a non-profit web platform committed to sharing the very best content on creativity, in all of its forms: from scientific discovery to philosophical debate, from entrepreneurial ventures to educational reform, from artistic expression to technological innovation – in short, to all the varieties of the human experience that creativity brings to life.”

Here’s a screen shot of some of their most popular entries:

From DesignBoom comes a spray-painted-skate-boarded-swimming-pool-design, complete with video…..really cool!

From PSD FanExtra comes a tutorial on designing t-shirts. This is very step-by-step – I think even I could do it (but maybe with a dog instead….).

Another MAD Magazine countdown of great blog covers…..Jerry and Joe and their new gig….

If you love dogs….well, even if you don’t, this is an adorable video of two dogs in a “restaurant,” waiting to order…..

And…MAD Magazine’s #1 blog cover – has been my favorite since I first saw it. Boehner vs. Obama and the DEBT…….Think Harry Potter……

A new blog I discovered by an Australian quilter, Emma at Sampaguita Quilts, with her finished quilts for 2011 – some luscious ones for eye candy! I love this one –

Another new blog – 365 Project – amazing photography! This is their official Top 20 post.

And from Alyson Stanfield and the Art Biz Blog comes some interesting resolutions for the new year: 12 Artist Resolutions to Steal for 2012.

Love this one: RESOLVE to stop fiddle-farting around on the Internet or with the TV remote control and start dedicating myself 100% to my life’s work.

And finally, a selection of Happy New Year’s from The Best Article Every Day.

Let me know what you find that’s really cool!

Work in Progress – Continued….

Yesterday I started the “winter” quilt for the group of Seasons, and I made quite a bit of progress. It was an interesting day, as design decisions kept sneaking around as I was working. Now, a while ago I realized I had some “branch” left over from some silk flowers that I thought I could use on this piece. I got a bunch of pieces cut, and then I  realized that about 3 years ago I bought some snowflake glitter for just such a reason as this. And what follows is proof you need to be a little crazy to attempt mixed media….

After spreading some of the glitter on the quilt top itself, I liked it…and realized I had to do some massive clean-up of my “trial and error.” Then I wondered if I could coat the small branches with the snow glitter. Once I was able to finally get the glue bottle open, the fun began. I put part of the branch in the glue bottle, tried to shake off excess (not successful), and then dunk the branch in the bottle of glitter. Messy, and lots of snowflake glitter that would shed constantly.

Time for a new plan…dip the top part of the branch in the glue, and then using fingers, distribute the glue down the rest of the branch, and then roll the branch on the pile of glitter on the paper. Shake well and let dry. Clean off very sticky fingers, covered with glitter, and repeat….

I did about nine branches and worried about them drying and sticking to the mat board. I did about 8 small branches, and I love the effect….but I still have to figure out how to attach them. this is certainly a first for me. I’m not one to mix these different media together, and I can see why people get hooked on mixed media collage. In the meantime my idea to add a small piece of blue fabric before the binding changed – I ended up wrapping it to be the binding itself – a lot more subdued that way. I also did some stippling in the gray area – it gave it more texture and lightened the gray slightly.

After a lot of pondering, I took some of my beading processes to attach the branches to the top and bottom of the quilt. The reveal will be next Wednesday.

This last is the truer picture of colors – very icy, which is my complete intent.

 

Getting an Art Critique

  I am really fortunate to have a couple of good friends who can help me with a critique when I am working on a new piece. Sometimes the piece flows, and sometimes I’m blocked in making decisions and moving ahead. It is made more complicated by the fact that I am trying to use our marbled fabrics to create unique art pieces. In surfing the web on a regular basis, I don’t see anyone else doing what I’m attempting to do with marbled fabric in the art quilt movement.

There are a lot of things to consider in developing these pieces of fiber art. Are my sewing skills strong enough? Are my quilting skills advanced enough? Does the fabric speak to us? Can the design tell an interesting story? Can I work with the principles of design?

In looking at all these questions, there are two that I am the weakest in, and this is where my group of friends can really help. Quilting skills and design principles.

Momcat is my first voice. She is a digital artist in her own right, and a self-taught expert in Greek pottery, among all the other skills in being a Renaissance woman. Suzan is my overall digital partner and a superb, published quilter and designer in her own right. Karin is a water color artist with a very strong sense of color and overall design organization. Hubby is the marbler and can see things in the designs that the rest of us miss.

I am at a point in this new piece where I needed advice. Which way should the piece hang, for one – vertical or horizontal. Usually that’s one of the last questions for me, because by the time I’m done, the piece has usually told me what it wants. With this piece, I need to decide this now, as I will need to work on the shading with a light source from the “northwest,” which is how scientific illustration is done. I was leaning in one way, and my group confirmed that. They pointed out that I already had a lot of the “shadows” developing on their own from the new orientation.

The second was size and pattern. I am fine with all the quilting on half of the piece, but the other half seems naked of color and looks like it would require some serious thread work that wouldn’t necessarily add to the overall effect. I had been thinking about potentially cutting away half of the piece. We looked at that possibility, and once we folded back some of the fabric (which had never occurred to me), we knew it needed to be tall and narrow, not wide and thick.

Now, Momcat had sent me some of her photos of rocks and lichen that Dali had painted, and I LOVED the lichen. I was initially thinking of marbling some very small silk flowers and then attaching them with some thread painting. The group didn’t like that idea – felt they were not “tough” enough for the texture of lichen. Momcat disappeared, only to come back with a small vial of green stuff that she proceeded to spread on the one or two rocks that are already green. Perfect! Upon closer look – they are very fine chopped-up pieces of old money from the Denver Mint. Who knew? I guess now this is a “mixed media” piece…..We are also thinking about using some coconut Husk or actual moss from a pet store – need to think that through.

Next question: facing vs. binding vs. frame. How do I want to finish this? I don’t see a basic binding. We talked about fabric as an inner mat and as a frame. We looked at serging the edges – which I have done with pieces in the past, much to one gallery owner’s chagrin – “wasn’t finished properly” was her verdict. But I always let the piece tell me what it wants. I am thinking this piece is telling me it doesn’t want anything more to constrain it beyond a facing that wraps to the back.

The final discussion revolved around light, medium, and dark. I know if I were to take a picture of this and turn it to black and white, everything would pretty much be medium values. I know it needs more dark, so I need to think through how to do that with thread…..or moss…..or coconut husk…..or…….actual small stones…….

I left energized, ready to complete the piece. Amazing how being with a great group of like-minded visual people can  make a difference!

Monday Marketing

Some interesting thoughts going through the mind over the last few days, primarily thinking about future directions for the business. We really enjoyed our guild demo and would like to do more, so moving up the to-do list is a plan for making that happen. We also spent a good chunk of time yesterday planning out two now major art pieces, something we haven’t done in a long time. Hubby has some great designs from a number of years ago that we want to bring to fruition. So it’s been really fun to look at the artistic side of planning.

Thanks again to Laura Bray and her e-course on Multiple Streams of Income (also available in an ebook – Click here to visit katydid designs.). For the first time I understand marketing and art-planning. I was too focused on marketing and not enough on actually creating art to increase income. My second season on 100 days ends on November 18, and I am already thinking about new sets of goals and increasing the range of goals. It’s turning out to be another good month for us, and I so want it to continue. My linking you to Laura Bray’s work is an example of a passive income strand, another area I am focused on building; you visit sites I recommend, purchase something, and I receive a commission. If you visit the Resources tab for the blog (at the top), you will see people and businesses I recommend – some of which pay me a commission, and some who don’t. Either way, I am only sending people to you that I use/have used and have confidence in.

That said, I keep reading and processing more information about building success as artists. Here’s a couple of articles I’ve found in the last few days that may be timely for you.

Thinking about giving up the art business? From Fine Art Views blog comes “Boiling Point.” A good read if you are discouraged by success as an artist.

From Joanne Materra comes a great post on potential scams we all have to be on the watch for. Called “Don’t Fall For It,” it’s a look at potential scams.

Image from The Great American Disconnect Blog

And along the same line, from Artsy Shark comes an article about applying to exhibitions, “Five Tips on Getting into More Juried Art Exhibitions.” A word about Artsy Shark – we will be a featured artist sometime in the next few weeks….stay tuned!

Have a great week marketing and building your joy!

Monday Marketing…Revisions…….

So…..I did pretty well last week and then faded at the end of the week. Plus, I am taking two online classes, and I needed to leave myself time to work on activities. Pretty much I got the goals for the week done, and I’m ready to set the goals for this next week, but I know I need to make some adjustments.

Major problems with Tweetdeck, so I wasn’t able to schedule the tweets that I wanted. I can only afford to take the time to read through the Twitter feed once a day, so I should probably change the time each day that I read it. I will keep to the schedule of reading tweets each day, with Sunday the day I schedule for the week.

One of the things I found was that I was busy trying to keep up with things and I didn’t really accomplish much for my own personal business. I need to change that, especially in the light of the marketing class I am taking. I need to be sure I am accomplishing what I want for Marble-T Design. I was able to work on the weekly goals of sewing, marbling, and adding to the Etsy shop.

Weekly Goals for this coming week July 18 – 24:

* Finish the Sedona commission

* Marble fabric for Etsy and Ebay

* Finish Lessons 2 and 3 of The Artist’s Toolbox with Lyric Kinard

* Do some goal-setting per the marketing class, primarily with Facebook and Cafe Press

* Get ready for gallery visit (inventory, etc) for Saturday

* Some work to do on the blog: more pages? widgets? other affiliates? blog giveaway? update current pages?

Daily:

* Read Twitter feed at a different time each day

* Google Reader – comment on at least three blogs

* AT LEAST 5 blog posts this week (only fot the three last week)

* Read newsletters from Linked in groups twice a week

* Facebook fan page each day…..

* At least one art activity each day

So I need to get back in gear, get back to being positive and feeling that anything is possible……..How many of you have found your energy levels with drop without any warning? And what do you do to get back to work? Inquiring minds…..

 

Work in Progress Wednesday….The Commission, Part 2

Two weeks ago I showed the start of a commission here, and I am almost to the end of it. Lots of interesting decisions to make along the way – I am really enjoying the decisions in the design process, especially as they relate to using marbled fabrics. My biggest problem is trying to photograph the colors so they are true.

The quilting of the marbled fabric went really well – I emphasized the white area with bubbles, as though it were a stream working its way through the rocks. Went through two different colors of threads before I decided which one I liked. That’s different for me…in the past I would just let it go.

The first border is a very soft corduroy, and I left it a little “puffed,” rather than pulled straight. I liked that it played off the roundness of the pebbles. I love the batik for the outer border, and I also used it for the backing. I realized again why I’m not fond of mitered corners (but that’s what this piece needed), as I took two of them out several times. I still need to trim the outer border by an inch so that it seems better balanced, but I decided to quilt the outside first. Again, a struggle with what I wanted to use for thread, as well as how I quilted it. I wasn’t happy with following the pattern of the batik, as it looked too crooked. So I opted to play off the idea of the frame, and I’m quite pleased. What faces me tomorrow is making sure the piece is completely square, which I need to worry about, as it is a commission. Thank heavens I know about the diagonal to check for a square.

I’m going to use the Alzheimer Quilt hanging system – the little triangles in the corners, as I think this will help the quilt lay flat on the wall. I also plan a label for the back with all the information about the quilt, including care. I found a “certificate” on line to use for the new owner of the artwork with all the official details.

Here’s the large shot, still untrimmed:

I am really loving this piece, which is actually more true brown and copper than in the picture. Still thinking about some seed beads……see what happens next week…..

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??

Top Ten Tuesday

Lots of great stuff on line this week – some very cool eye candy to enjoy!

From Cool Hunting, a site with some unusual items and projects… some original artwork “Field Recordings” by Bryan Graf

Also from Cool Hunting, one of the most unique book displays I’ve ever seen, as part of an art installation. The best pics are on the site, so check them out.

Vicki Welsh does some really gorgeous hand-dyes…here’s her latest batch for this month’s challenge. I could spend all my spare money to her weksite!

From Kate Harper’s blog – Legal Tips for the Starving Artist, and a very good review for all of us.

And even more from Kate – lots of articles on copyright and protecting our designs….I know for me this will be some serious reading this month – need to do it!

How will the price of cotton affect art licensing from Joan Beiriger’s blog – very interesting. I know that we have had to raise our prices for our marbled fabrics significantly.

If you are where I am in looking for gallery representation, then Joanne Mattera’s Art blog is for you. She has an article on gallery red flags that is very valuable….I’ve seen a couple of these flags in the past.

Also from Joanne is this article on Rethinking Artist’s Statements, again very timely for me as I redo a lot of things on the website.

Rayela’s Art (AKA Rachel Biel) is spearheading the fund raising campaign for the Textile and Fiber Art List. This is rapidly becoming THE place to find any type of textile art on line. If you are interested in becoming part of an outstanding collection of fiber and textile art, then visit and donate, even just $10. The eye candy alone is worth the donation!

Again from The Best Article Every Day comes Dear Photograph – a really cool idea to superimpose a past photograph with the current location. Clever!

Enjoy your week – send me cool stuff you find on line!!

Monday Marketing – Restarting the Engines

It’s Monday, week four into retirement, and I’ve been getting lots of loose ends accomplished on the home front. But the biggest is starting to attack what I want to do in marketing the business. It’s probably a good thing I have been thinking on this, as I need to answer a very big question first – just what do I want to accomplish for Marble-T Design, as well as my personal art goals? I can’t really start marketing successfully and fruitfully until I make some of these decisions.

I have started a list of some potential galleries and shows I would like to enter, but I find myself asking “is that really the route I want to go?” I probably should have looked seriously at this a long time ago, but, hey, school got in the way. And since Marble-T Design is 17 years old and in a new phase, I should probably also consider what we’ve done in the past and what was successful.

We’ve actually been on line with our website since 1997. We were some of the earliest in e-commerce, without even realizing it. I went through a bunch of computer programs to get the original site up, starting with Pagemill. Eventually I realized I needed to turn the design over to a professional, and Saltwater Systems has handled that beautifully over the last seven years. And we had a much wider line of products available – close to 12 sampler packages. we did a lot more marbling in our large tray, as well as a lot more custom work.

So that’s part of the “thinking” I need to do. More large trays? More shows? More product? Classes and workshops again? Just where are we taking this business? I need to be honest in my thinking about the future. Marbling in the large tray is very tiring as we have gotten older, and with the price of cotton and carrageenan going up, prices will have to go up.

Whew…..that’s a lot of questions to answer. Once again, starting to write is helping me focus on the bigger picture. So I need to start….

What do I really want to do with my art and my business? I want to make art, no question about it. I would like to sell my art, whether it be on line or actually in some galleries. I think  I am realizing I don’t want to do a lot of shows. I do have enough on my resume to show the work has been accepted, but I will probably only look at two or three a year. As for the actual business, I want to be able to bring in a certain amount of money each month to help with traveling during retirement. I’m starting with the idea of $500 additional a month, and moving from there.

That means looking seriously at outlets. Ebay has been steady, but I would like it to do more. So we need to marble more pieces and packages. I have sold a few pieces of fabric on Etsy, but this needs to be seriously marketed. We’ve been selling on Ebay for probably 7 years and we have a good steady family of customers, but I want it to generate more sales.

I haven’t really looked seriously at marketing my work on Etsy, and I think with the TAFA List, I can make a good start. So I think at this point a goal for this week is to list potential products for Etsy and read everything I can about Etsy and The Textile and Fiber Arts List.

The other big thing is we are a sponsor for The Sketchbook Challenge for July, and probably for a few months after that. This will drive more traffic to our website, The Art of Fabric. This means getting the site updated and ready for additional traffic in July. So also this week is spending time learning Dreamweaver to take care of a lot of small changes that will update the site.

THIS WEEK:

Finish Dreamweaver class for making changes to my website

Make the changes to the website

Etsy products, increased Ebay ideas

Reading about Etsy selling and developing strategies

Reading through everything on The Textile and Fiber Arts List and developing concrete plans

I’m interested in the thoughts of those of you selling on line – favorite sites? Suggestions? Pitfalls?

Staying Sane with Zentangles

The last couple of months have been difficult, with virtually no art getting accomplished, much to my dismay, and no doubt added significantly to feeling bummed and sad. About the only thing I was able to attempt was some zentangling. The April theme in the Sketchbook Challenge was to “go out on a limb.” I interpreted that to attempting to use more color in my zentangles, which met with a small amount of success. The second one that I did brought back to mind all the attempts at art over the years that didn’t succeed. I was faced again with my internal need to have everything “look good” when I try it. It is very difficult for me to “try” and see what happens – it still needs to “look good.” So I spent some time pondering that lesson, which didn’t help my mood much at all.

So April was pretty darn dry. I admired the zentangles of my friend, who is branching out and developing her own patterns. I was really feeling jealous, and by the beginning of May I was ready to pick up pen again. I have no idea what the theme was for May, but I did get productive…some pieces took about 90 minutes to finish, and some went really quickly. I still want to experiment with color to see what I can do.

The other thing that has been keeping me sane throughout the past month was looking on line at lots of new patterns. I knew I needed to increase my repertoire of patterns, and once I got started with new ones, I could see myself making progress with new tangles.With that bit of intro, here goes:

The thing I liked originally with this, before the color, was the way the paradox pattern worked with the two triangles. I thought color would enhance the pattern, and I found it just the opposite – I lost the twisting that I so love in this particular pattern.

Lots of new patterns in this one.

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