How to stay motivated in the art studio

Recently I have noticed trouble maintaining my motivation to paint. I work a day job at a small rural community Public Library, where being motivated is rarely if ever an issue. I just do what I need to do and go home.  But at home in the studio it is more of a challenge.  it can be tough to stick to a working schedule when the reward is may not come for months, or even years.

For me I see myself as a marathon runner. At first it seems easy. as long as you put one foot in front of the other I will eventually arrive at my destination. but as you near the finish line the motion can be as if you are slogging through molasses.

I posted this quandary on my personal Facebook page. Here are some of the suggestions given to “…pulling yourself out of a funk and staying motivated”:

  1. Exercise
  2. Listen to Music
  3. Aromatherapy
  4. Use Incense
  5. Step away and try another art form
  6. Organize your studio
  7. Spend time with small children to gain perspective
  8. Give into the need for a break and relax
  9. Use Qigong
  10. Think positive thoughts
  11. Get out of the studio and get a change of scenery
  12. Meditate
  13. Wine or other alcoholic beverage
  14. Do research instead
  15. Stop trying to swim upstream, grab your camera and look for inspirational photos

Over the past few weeks I have been re-releasing tutorials from the old site. A few of them include:

I also have been painting, and adding new work to the collection for an upcoming exhibit at the Bowlus Fine Art Center! The show is due to go up October 20th, giving me just over five more weeks. This is very doable! Wish me luck <3

Portrait OIl on Canvas

9X12″ NFS

Portrait OIl on Canvas

9X12″ NFS

Last month I showed how to make a simple light box with a cardboard box.  Here is another example, made from manila file folders.

A light tent can be purchased, but of course I prefer to just make my own.  Here I started with 2 discarded manila folders taped together so that they would stand as shown.  The extras are lying in front of them but only two were used for the main frame.

Folders are not terribly strong so you may want to use a thicker cardboard if you will be using it a great deal. Foam core works well, is inexpensive, comes in white and can be cut down to size.

In order to cut down on the yellow color coming through I covered the surface with 11” x 17” white printer paper by folding it over and taping it to the back.

Next a large piece of white fabric was laid down and over the top edge, press out wrinkles as you do.  I put a cloths pin on the top edge to keep it from dropping down, then folded it back over itself to drape over the top. I have seen folks use white trash bags, paper, tissue paper or whatever was available to get the desired effect.

I set up the tripod as shown in the camera testing example and then draped the material over the top of the camera.  This created a ‘white container’ to take the images inside.

After taking a few shots similar to the previous test, the image below was determined to have the correct setting at ISO 80, Macro setting, -1 flash.

Not bad, but I would like to get rid of the grayness of the white fabric.

 To do this I need to play with the exposure index.  After trying out -2 through +2 test shots this is the end result. I have to say that I like the change in the second photograph.

  

Continuing to experiment and see what works.

 

 

Just for comparison the image above was shot with Macro, -2 exposure, -.75 flash and a view of the image in black and white

  In my opinion the diffused light from lamp, on black, and same settings as above makes it appear much more three dimensional when compared to the other example. But I found some people preferred the images taken in the light tent and found it ‘softer’.

 

   

Hand blown glass paperweight shot in light tent compared to taken with flash on white background (paper towel)

Of course with some tweaking I am sure one could get much better shots here!

This is a wonderful item to have if you paint on location or are taking classes. You can purchase a similar item but why not just use left over canvas and pay a fraction of the cost? This makes a wonderful gift for fellow artists, and of course you can paint the surface however you choose for added flair!

1. Cut a piece of canvas 18″ long and 1″wider than you need it to be.

2. Cut two strips 12″ long and 1″ wide. (As an alternative – a strong fiber or ribbon)

3. Fold over a 1/4″ hem on all edges of the large piece, pin it into place. Fold under all raw edges.

4. Sew along hem.

5. Fold over 12″ strips so there are no raw edges showing. Sew along the seam.

6. Pin one end of each 12″ strip into position along the edge

7. Fold one end up to create the pocket area for your brushes. Be sure that the end of each 12″ strip is between layers of fabric. Sew pocket and strips into place along sides.

8. Sew the areas for beach rush pockets where need. If you have a large number of smaller width brushes, sew the seams closer together for smaller pockets, and further apart for wider.

* In order to store or carry your brush with you, simply roll it up and tie strips together.

Have you considered writing up an official business plan for your art biz? Below is an outline of a basic business plan to get you started.

  1. Cover sheet – Tell the reader the name of business and what is the plan for?
  2. Statement of purpose / Executive Summary – You will write this last as it says what all the reader is looking at in a brief summary
  3. Table of contents

                I. The Business

A. Description of business – Tell reader about your art and the history of your business

B. Marketing – Who will be purchasing your items & how will you let others now of your work? Will you do t-shirts? Have a webpage? Brochures etc… Target customer demographic information

 C. Competition –  Who are they and what do they offer that you can/can not do better then they are currently offering?

D. Operating procedures – How will the work be done? Will you be a sole proprietor? Or other?

E. Personnel – Who will do the work? Job Descriptions

F. Business insurance –  How will all business expenses be covered in an emergency that would be covered by insurance?

II. Financial Data

A. Loan applications – Any that you have applied for, or wish to apply for

                      B. Capital equipment and supply list – Inventory of all materials

C. Balance sheet – How much money do you have available? How much money do you owe? Regularly pay out?

D. Breakeven analysis – How much do you need to sell, what you need to pay out in order to break even?

        E. Income projections (profit & loss statements)

Three-year summary
Financial Goals for 3 years from now
Detail by month, first year
Financial Goal for each month for the next year from now
Detail by quarters, second and third years
Financial goals for each quarter
Assumptions upon which projections were based
Back up your goals and expectations with facts

F. Cash flow – How will you be sure that there will be enough money to cover all expenses? Will you keep your day job?

           III. Supporting Documents

A. Tax returns for last three years – If you are a sole proprietor have your last three years taxes on file. If not a SP, then taxes of all principal personnel responsible for the financial aspects of the business.

B. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space – If you have a separate space to create, other then in home, copy of the lease or mortgage for space. If is in the home, copies of rent, mortgage receipts

C. Copy of utility bills

D. Copy of licenses and other legal documents

E. State Business License

F. Property tax information

G. Copy of resumes of all principal parties. If sole proprietors have your own resume on file

H. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc

I. Who will send you supplies?

Art Business ChecklistBusiness Plan Checklist

  • Write up a mission statement so you know where you want to go. it does not have to be formal, be creative!
  • Describe as much as you can about what you will be providing your customers.
  • Keep good records of all aspects of your business.
  • Review the plan regularly and make necessary changes.
  • A three ring binder works well to keep all your papers in one spot, or one for each area of your business.
  • Keep extra copies of important pertinent information in a safe place, like a security box or in a location separate from business in case of fire etc… (business licenses, tax returns and other necessary papers).
  • Keep important days of when payments or projects are due listed on a business calendar to keep you on track.
  • To-Do lists that are prioritized are a good thing to make every day to help keep you on task.
  • Keep an ongoing list of specific information you need to look at closer.
  • Go back through previous notes and schedules from time to time to see if there was anything you could have done differently or negative things you could prevent from happening again.
  • Put everything you can into writing in order to keep you focused and clear minded. Take the necessary steps to make things happen.
  • Evaluate your day to day activities and to-do lists so you are always working toward your goal.
  • Remain positive about what you want to achieve

Business Communications Checklist

  • A separate phone line is nice but it may not be necessary for your particular business
  • Find the best phone plan you can, compare and shop around
  • Leave a professional out-going voice mail message on your phone.
  • A cordless phone/cell can be an asset when working at home, enabling you to not be confined to one area when on the phone.
  • Consider purchasing a fax machine for your business, especially if you find yourself using one outside of the home on a regular basis.
  • Purchase surge protectors for all of your electronic equipment.
  • If you are not already, get online as soon as possible! Consider it a priority. Email alone will make it worth it, not taking into consideration all the other aspects that the internet holds.

Profit Checklist

  • Realize that the only thing you can count on with the art business is that you never know what will happen next.
  • Educate yourself about all areas concerning your business
  • Use new technology for the good of your business
  • Bring in new products on a regular basis
  • Look at how you price items and make necessary adjustments
  • Always be on the lookout for new markets for the products and services of your business
  • Be aware of time management, make necessary adjustments
  • Set up a work schedule for yourself that YOU are comfortable with.
  • Take regular breaks
  • Work smarter, not necessarily harder

Because you may never know what may happen in the future of your art career, it is always a good idea to have any models sign a release form. If your work is one day used for the cover of a magazine, or other very public publication you are covered legally.

*I have provided a sample model release form for adults and a sample model release form for minors below. You may print and use them or modify them as needed. I provide the sample releases as a convenience only. We make no warranties or representations in connections with these releases. Consult your attorney if you have any legal questions regarding model releases.

Adult Model Release

In consideration of my engagement as a model, upon the terms herewith stated, I hereby give to photographer’s name goes here his/her heirs, legal representatives and assigns, those for whom photographer’s name goes here is acting, and those acting with his/her authority and permission:

      a) The unrestricted right and permission to copyright and use, re-use, publish, and republish photographic portraits or pictures of me or in which I may be included intact or in part, composite or distorted in character or form, without restriction as to changes or transformations in conjunction with my own or a fictitious name, or reproduction hereof in color or otherwise, made through any and all media now or hereafter known for illustration, art, promotion, advertising, trade, or any other purpose whatsoever.

      b) I also permit the use of any printed material in connection there with.

      c) I hereby relinquish any right that I may have to examine or approve the completed product or products or the advertising copy or printed matter that may be used in conjunction therewith or the use to which it may be applied.

      d) I hereby release, discharge and agree to save harmless [photographer], his/her heirs, legal representatives or assigns, and all persons functioning under his/her permission or authority, or those for whom he/she is functioning, from any liability by virtue of any blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking of said picture or in any subsequent processing thereof, as well as any publication thereof, including without limitation any claims for libel or invasion of privacy.

      e) I hereby affirm that I am over the age of majority and have the right to contract in my own name. I have read the above authorization, release and agreement, prior to its execution; I fully understand the contents thereof. This agreement shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives and assigns.

Dated:

Signed:

Address:

City:

State/Zip:

Phone:

Witness:

_____________________

Minor Model Release

For valuable consideration, I hereby confer on photographer’s name goes here the absolute and irrevocable right and permission with respect to the photographs that he/she has taken of my minor child in which he/she may be included with others:

      a) To copyright the same in photographer’s name goes here name or any other name that he/she may select;

      b) To use, re-use, publish and re-publish the same in whole or in part, separately or in conjunction with other photographs, in any medium now or hereafter known, and for any purpose whatsoever, including (but not by way of limitation) illustration, promotion, advertising and trade, and;

      c) To use my name or my child’s name in connection therewith if he/she so decides.

I hereby release and discharge photographer’s name goes here from all and any claims and demands ensuing from or in connection with the use of the photographs, including any and all claims for libel and invasion of privacy.

This authorization and release shall inure to the benefit of the legal representatives, licensees and assigns of photographer photographer’s name goes here as well as the person(s) for whom he/she took the photographs.

I have read the foregoing and fully understand the contents hereof. I represent that I am the [parent/guardian] of the above named model. For value received, I hereby consent to the foregoing on his/her behalf.

Dated:

Minor’s Name:

Parent or Guardian:

Address:

City:

State/Zip:

Phone:

Witness:

Writing an Artist’s Statement

I just heard a Country song, “I’d Like To Check You For Ticks”.  Pretty much says it all doesn’t it.  It speaks to a specific audience and gets the point across in a few words that he would like to see more of her, in that special way’.  How does this relate to art? Well as an artist you should have an Artist’s Statement on hand that says what the audience needs to know. It needs to be short, no more than a page in length and to the point.

Have your audience in mind when you write it. If it is for the general-public, avoid ‘art speak’, and use language your viewer will understand. The best thing is to use the KISS method of ‘Keeping it short and simple’.  You most likely would not like to veer into the Tick area….but you get the idea :0)

Write a draft of your Artist’s Statement and try to have it reflect the real you. Then let it sit for a bit.  An hour, a day, a week, whatever you need to come back to it with a relatively fresh eye.

Sample Artist Statement

Herb R. Ian

Artist Statement Draft

In the turmoil found in today’s world, many find themselves returning to what they know best.  They begin examining people and things with new eyes, as Herb has also done.

Her current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, that includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.

__________________________________________

Then divide it into three paragraphs;

1. What you do

“Her current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, which includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.”

2. Your Background

Herb has a Master’s Degree in Studio Art and has won a number of awards for her work over the years.  She began working as an artist during her teen years, and over the years she has worked in a variety of mediums from polymer clay to oil paint.

3. How Your Work Affects Others

Because of her vast interest in different mediums and techniques she has begun to turn her attention to putting the information in writing. A virtuous reader she sees this as a way to pass on what she has learned over the years to those that come after.

_________________________________________

The length of your Artist’s Statement should be no more than one page.  Keep it updated to reflect what is accurate.

Use the information to pass out at shows, to clients, on your website, and ‘elevator speak’.  That thirty second blurb to keep in mind for when someone ask, “What kind of artist are you?”

Go back and edit your Statement at least twice before releasing it to the world.  Read it aloud to yourself and have a trusted friend read it before you consider it complete, to see any errors you may have overlooked.

Then put it all together.  I will want to continue to edit this, but at this point it would be alright to release to the world.

Artist Statement

Herb’s current work of oil on canvas, explores the personal meaning of items she surrounds herself.  She uses art materials or Raku pottery (an ancient Asian process of firing ceramics) created by another local artisan, John Audley, as subject matter. She blends the pottery into a setting, which includes either art materials and/or more commonly found vessels with a dramatic light and shadow.”

She began working as an artist during her teen years, and over the years she has worked in a variety of mediums from polymer clay to oil paint. She has a Master’s Degree in Studio Art and has won a large number of awards for her work over the years.

Because of her vast interest in different mediums and techniques she has begun to turn her attention to putting the information in writing. A veracious reader she sees this as a way to pass on what she has learned over the years to those that come after.  She can be found conducting workshops, creating art and working in her Kansas home that she shares with her husband of 15 years.

Now go forth and create that Artist Statement! You will be glad you have it on hand.

Things to keep in mind as your writing:

  • Avoid Jargon
  • Use simple sentences
  • Keep your audience in mind
  • Describe your intentions
  • Avoid cliche’s
  • Choose descriptive language

A design is an arrangement, a way of organizing something. In arts and crafts, even though we use many different materials, the visual appearance can be reduced to six elements of design. They are line, shape, form, space, color, and texture. They are what we organize. They are the tools.

Elements of Design

“Shadow #8” Barton

Line is a mark with greater length than width. Lines can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal, straight or curved, thick or thin. Such as the edge of a building, train tracks and sidewalks etc. Line is used to portray movement, or to suggest a shape.  The wood creates both a vertical and horizontal line, while the shadows create lines that suggest geometric shapes.

Elements of Design

A closed line, Shapes can be geometric, like squares and circles; or organic, like free formed shapes or natural shapes. Usually shapes are used to create a sense of space.  The shape created by the chair is heightened by the increased contrast of the image.

Elements of Design

“R.Mutt” Marcel Duchamp

Forms are three-dimensional shapes, expressing length, width, and depth. Balls, cylinders, boxes and triangles are forms.  The least used of the elements, a three dimensional object. It is difficult to portray a three dimensional object on film, which is by nature two dimensional.

The form within the famous image of the urinal by Marcel Duchamp are said to resemble the same form of many religious sculptures.

Elements of Design

“Artist Alley” Barton

Space is the area between and around objects. Negative space refers to the area of unused or unoccupied area in a photo, negative space has shape. Space can also refer to the feeling of depth. Real space is three-dimensional; in visual art when we can create the feeling or illusion of depth we call it space.

In the image of the alley the plain sides of the buildings, pavement and sky. Play against each others space to create visual tension within the image.

“Field Trip” Barton

Color is light reflected off objects. Color has three main characteristics: hue or its name (red, green, blue, etc.), value (how light or dark it is), and intensity (how bright or dull it is).  You can use color to draw attention to one area o an image.

The yellow and black of the school bus create a frame around the figure, drawing attention to it visually.

“Texture #9” Barton 

Texture is the surface quality that can be seen and felt. Textures can be rough or smooth, soft or hard. Everything three dimensional has some sort of texture.

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