Let's be honest. Sometimes things don't go as planned. You start out with a great idea for a piece, and then...it bombs. Hard. Don't feel bad! We've all been there plenty of times. Here are a few ways to recycle, reuse, and remake those failed pieces!
1. Paint over it:
If you're working with acrylics or oils, you can simply white that sucker out and start over. Sometimes this will even add a cool texture to your next work of art. You can also leave parts of it showing and paint the negative spaces to create a peek-a-boo effect that I really love!
If you're working with watercolor, it's not so simple, unfortunately. *Tears*. You can, however, bust out some acrylics or some ink and try to cover the bits you don't like with something else.
2. Make cards:
If there's a good bit of the painting that I really like, I'll chop it up and turn it into a one-of-a-kind greeting card! These are really popular with my customers. They make great gifts and if they are 5x7, they're frameable! I leave the inside blank for their own creativity.
You can also turn your good parts into business cards. I often do this with the edges of my paintings or with work I don't love. As long as the color and pattern is not too busy, you can write your info over it, thereby creating a beautiful, tiny piece of art! My business cards are only about the size of a thumb drive, and people love to see that size. I don't know why, but folks love tiny things. It's weird.
3. Make bookmarks:
Another option is to cut a sliver off your painting and turn it into a custom bookmark. I love this idea. It works well with watercolor or acrylics on canva-paper.
4. Collage it:
Cut out the shapes of flowers, leaves, clouds, or anything else you can imagine, and rework those elements into a new collaged piece! You can do this with any work on paper, and can even incorporate them into acrylic pieces.
5. Art journal:
Use the interesting tidbits to create a gorgeous art journal. You can even write about what worked and what didn't work for future reference, if you like. This is tied into the collage idea.
6. Draw on top:
Similarly to painting over your piece, you could also take a paint pen, marker, or ink pen and create a pattern, picture, or design on top of the failed piece.
Maybe your junk work is the perfect canvas for someone else's ideas! I've created watercolor pieces that I'm not crazy about, and handed them off to a friend of mine who's an amazing letterer, and he turns them into something truly special. Or perhaps you have a friend who does multi-media work and would love to have a springboard for their own piece!
You could also give them to your kid (if you have one) and do a collaborative piece. This is such a fun idea!
8. Turn it over:
Use the back of the paper if you're able. If you're doing embroidery or stitching of any kind, sometimes the back can look even cooler than the front! Also consider turning your piece upside down or sideways to see if the composition looks better that way.
Those are a few ideas for you! I hope that some of them sparked some ideas for you and that you're able to take those failed pieces out of storage and give them new life! Let me know if you try any of them.
Here's a thing that I believe wholeheartedly: YOU are a creative. Wait, no...YOU are a CREATIVE. Like, the all-caps kind. Don't believe me? Read on, friend.
Are you scared of blank pieces of paper or white canvases? Do you land more on the cerebral side of personality tests? Do you cringe at hippy-dippy ethereal lingo? Me too. Let's be friends. The stereotype of a creative is a free-wheelin', loosy-goosy, always-late, never matching, rebellious type. And yes, some creatives deserve that stereotype. But not all of us. Many of us are creatives masquerading as intellectuals, list-makers, and type-A personalities. Whichever camp you fall into, I guarantee that you're creative in ways you've never considered!
Ok, you still don't believe me?
Listen, if you've ever made a meal when there was nothing in your cupboards, or organized a spreadsheet in a nearly poetic way, you are a creative. If you put together an outfit today, you are a creative. If you chose the colors to paint your home or decided where the throw pillows should go, you ARE A CREATIVE. Woo, ok, I'm getting excited. Sorry.
Creativity is much deeper and more nuanced than artistic talent. It requires problem-solving. It mashes ideas together in brand new ways. Heck, if you'e ever uttered something strange and thought, "Well, that's probably never been said before," THAT is creativity. Humans can't help but be creative.
So, let's say you believe me now, but you'd still like to flex those baby creativity muscles. Here's the good news: creativity can be learned and cultivated. Woo-hoo! You were born creative at birth, but somewhere along the line, some of that natural spirit got squashed out of you. If you want to get thos juices flowing, you don't need to dive right into creating a visual masterpiece! Try some of the following ideas to get inspired!
1. Stream of Consciousness: Get a pen, grab some paper, and sit your ass down. Clear your mind as best you can, set a timer for 30 seconds, and then just GO. Write whatever comes to mind, even if it's not in complete sentences and makes literally no sense whatsoever. This method helped me write countless stories and poems over the years. Try doing it every day. It's only 30 seconds!
2. Attend a Slam Poetry Event: You don't have to perform. Calm down. I'm just saying, go attend one and soak up the vibes. You'll hear people express huge ideas with words you never would have thought to put together. It's totally invigorating, trust me.
3. Collage: Grab a stack of old books or magazines, cut out everything that catches your eye, and then see how you can fit those things together. It doesn't have to be pretty, and it doesn't have to make sense. Plus, it feels really good to destroy stuff with scissors.
4. Altered Books: Some of you will HATE me for this, but I love this idea. Get an old book from the thrift store...any theme is fine. I like the old illustrated classics. Then, grab an assortment of markers, pens, and collage scraps. Go to town on those pages: do blackout poetry, pull out one phrase or word and create a picture to go with it, add on to existing pictures with your own touches. So fun!
5. Take a cooking class: (Alternately, buy a really good cook book). Learning the basics of how to cook will allow you to play in the kitchen with confidence. You'll know what flavors go well together, so that you will be able to put your own spin on things. Cooking and baking can both be incredible ways to stretch your creativity!
6. Record your dreams: Your dream state is like the Wild West of creativity. If you can capture any of your dreams, you'll have endless material. I find that at first, I don't remember much of anything, but if I write down even one little scrap of a dream, I'll often remember more of it. I did this religiously in high school. I started my journal with one fragment of a dream, but since I did it every single day, it wasn't uncommon for me to eventually remember 4-5 dreams per night! Welcome to the weird and wonderful side of your brain, folks.
7. Travel: Even if you can't afford a real vacation, take a trip to the countryside, the city, or a neighboring town. The new sights, smells, and feels can transport your brain to all new places!
Ok, this is getting long, so I'll stop there. You get the idea, right? Try some of these exercises out and watch your creativity explode!
I set a bunch of goals for the latter half of 2018. One of them was to double my measly instagram following without paying for a spammy company to do it for me. As you know, the algorithm is biting us all in the you-know-where, and it can be hard to beat! But...I'm happy to say I've done it!
Do you want to do the same? Read on for 10 steps YOU can take to grow your following organically!
1. Post only your BEST content. And post DAILY.
I know it's tempting to post for the sake of posting, but trust me on this one...that's a fast way to lose followers. Your best best is to post once, max twice, per day, and you want to post things that are hitting your followers.
If you post too often, you'll lose people. They don't want to be spammed with content! If you don't post regularly, you'll also lose people. Missing a day is not the end of the world, but shoot for daily if you can.
2. Keep your personal life separate from your work.
I know, your cat is friggin' adorable. And your houseplants are gorgous. I get it. But remember, people are following you FOR A REASON, and if you don't deliver content that relates to that topic, folks will unfollow faster than you can say "CRAP". The rare selfie or cat photo can help people connect to you on a personal level, but it should by no means be the bulk of your content! Keep a private account for personal stuff if you feel the need to share your life with family and friends. You can also opt for sharing for personal insights in your instagram stories. People DO want to get to know you and see behind the scenes, but try to make sure it's relevant to your larger goals. It's a fine line, friends.
That brings me to my next point...
3. Utilize stories.
Instagram has a nifty feature called stories that allows you to post text, photos, and videos to a stream that is only available for 24 hours. This gives you a great opportunity for behind the scenes footage, announcements, and short videos that might otherwise clog up your feed. Reality check: a LOT of people ONLY view stories when they get on instagram. If you don't use them, you are missing out on a huge segment of your audience! I like to use stories to post live painting videos, polls, and announcements about sales or special offers. You can also post your face if you want to get personal. People tend to like that.
4. Get personal.
I just mentioned it, but let me elaborate. People like to follow someone that they feel like they KNOW. By allowing them into your world a little bit, you're slowly getting them to trust the person behind the feed. And bonus: people like to BUY from folks they know and trust...or FEEL like they know and trust.
You don't have to share every personal detail about your life. In fact, please don't. Really. But if you do share some of your daily insights, concerns, weaknesses, and successes, others will connect with you in a deeper way than if they were just seeing your photos.
5. Join a pod.
Pods are AMAZING. But what are they?
Pods are simply a few people banding together to beat the algorithm with good ol' fashioned teamwork! Most pods have between 5-10 people. Each person within the pod alerts the other members when they have posted, and subsequently, every other person in the pod will like and comment on that post. Instagram takes notice of when you get a bunch of comments and rewards you by sharing your content with even more people! Also, this is an excellent way to build community with others on instagram. I grew my following by hundreds simply by being in a pod with other artists.
6. Write captions that captivate.
One word captions are NOT going to cut it unless you're in the big leagues...sorry! Believe it or not, many people actually DO read those words underneath your photo, and you want to make sure that they are drawing peolple in.
I like to use my captions for a few things: blog-style posts (always very popular), giving advice (again, super popular), and asking questions. Dude, people LOVE to talk about themselves when given the chance, so why not ask them questions that allow them to give their imput? Simply asking people what they think of your art, or asking them which colors they like best, can get the comments rolling in!
7. Engage, engage, engage!
Put a ring on it!
What I mean is, look...it's not all about you, ok? Everyone else is out there hustling too, and if you take the time to acknowledge others' work with likes and thoughtful comments, your chances of them reciprocating aren't too shabby. Every comment will mean the world to them! If you can ask them a question, even better. Get a dialougue going whenever possible!
8. Do a takeover.
I've done a couple feed takeovers, and every time has led to an awesome influx of followers! What this means is simply that you log into someone else's account (with their full blessing!) and post your own content for a set amount of time, usually a day or so. This gives you access to a whole new group of potential followers! Look for art accounts that host regular takeovers and request to be a part of it.
9. Use the damn hashtags.
ALL OF THEM. I have heard so much conflicting advice on this one. Some people say you should use all 30 tags and some claim that you should only use 15-20. I fall into the all 30 camp. Why? That's when I've gotten the best results!
Make sure that you are using hashtags that will reach your target audience, so please don't choose them willy-nilly. I like to stalk other artists to see what hashtags they are using and then adopt a few of them for myself.
10. Be generous.
This encompasses many of the points I've already made, but it bears reinforcing. Be generous with your content, and people will like and trust you.
What does it mean to be a generous content creator? Here are a few ideas:
-share your heart
-share other people
-comment on and like others' posts
-post content that delights, uplifts, or solves a problem
I hope that this gives you a few ideas of ways that you can grow your following! Of course it's not all about the numbers, but for me those numbers represent real people and real potential customers. Let me know if you implement these and tell me what results you get!
Commissions: dirty word or exciting opportunity? I'll present the info and let you decide. Commissions can be an amazing way to supplement or even carry your art career, but they don't come without challenges. Read on for what you NEED to know about taking commissions.
1. How the H@ll do you get them???
All right, so you've decided you want to start taking commissions...buuuut how do you get them? Will folks come knocking down your door demanding artwork? Spoiler: NO.
You have got to spread the news far, wide, and wider that you're OPEN FOR COMMISSIONS! Shout it from the rooftops! If you feel good about your art, chances are that other people will want it, but you need to let those people know about the opportunity to work with you.
Social media should be the first step in making folks aware. Put it in the bio on your instagram and your facebook business profile. Tweet about it!
If you have an email newsletter (and you DO....right?), let your subscribers know. These people have voluntarily decided to follow YOUR art career, so don't be shy!
Third, work those connections boys and girls. Make sure all your artist friends are in the loop: If they have a full workload and get a commission request, they just might pass that request on to you! What other connections do you have? Stretch yourself here. Do you know any local businesses that might need custom artwork or a mural for their space? Don't be obnoxious but let people know you're available. Do you paint amazing pet portraits? Reach out to local animal shelters, pet owners, and doggy groomers! Find your niche and work it, girl.
2. Know when to say NO.
Congratulations! People are pounding down your door! Or at least...knocking. You might be so excited and honored that people are finally reaching out to you, but know that not every project is right for you and your skillset. It can be so hard to say no, but if the project proposal gives you a stomachache, that might be a good clue that it's not for you. Don't be afraid to say, "Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I think that so-and-so would actually be a better fit for this project and will be able to create a piece of art that you'll love!" No shame in that game.
Here are a few indicators that it might not be your jam:
- It's a subject matter you don't work in.
- It's a medium you don't work in.
- It's a size you don't work in.
- The budget is too small.
3. How and when and what should you get paid???
This is largely up to you, but here are a few suggestions.
Decide what you're worth: How much do you charge for your paintings normally? Ask for more for commissions. I promise you that they are more challenging and more time-intensive than your personal work, and your prices should reflect that. I base my prices on a few factors: how long I estimate the project to take, time spent talking with clients, how much materials will cost, and how large the piece is.
Decide when you want to get paid: Some people get paid upfront, some wait til the end. You have to spell this out with the client IN ADVANCE. Maybe you want to take a security deposit at the beginning and then have them pay the remaining balance at the end. That way, if they hate the work, you're not out the full amount...AND you know that they are serious about the investment.
Utilize invoicing: PayPal has an amazingly easy invoice system. I use it for all my clients. Even if clients don't have PayPal, they can pay via PayPal using their card info. Make sure they know the invoice is coming and let them know when you've sent it and when the balance is due. NOTE: Mark the box that lets them leave a tip if they choose. People will sometimes pleasantly surprise you!
4. Turn that sh!t around!
How fast do you work? Maybe you crank out a personal piece in one day. Kudos. Give yourself a week for a commission. They usually take longer than you'd expect. Let your client know in an email how long you expect it to take, but give yourself wiggle room. Instead of saying "I'll have it done in a week," say "I'll have it ready in 1-2 weeks". Don't put this in your contract! That way, if something goes wrong, like you get pneumonia and almost die, you're not legally bound to this. Most clients will give you grace if you're dying.
5. Let clients know what to expect!
Some surprises are nice. Others aren't. It's better if your client isn't really surprised at all. One way to avoid this is by doing a quick concept sketch to show the clients before you start on the final project. Make sure they like the idea and color scheme before you put your heart and soul into it! Another creative solution is to do several pieces based on their concept, and letting them choose the one they like best. This is more work of course, but if you're working on something like an abstract piece or a landscape, you can keep the ones they don't choose to sell to other people. Winning!
6. Be confident.
If you're not confident in your skills or in your business presentation, you are NOT ready to take commissions. Real talk. WAIT. Your clients will smell the fear and things will not go well. Promise.
See, commissions aren't that scary! Sure, you might not always be painting your favorite subject, but you're getting paid, right? Please just make sure that you are remembering that commissioned work is not about YOU. It's about THEM. Come at it with a heart of service and you'll be just fine. Happy creating!
Ok, new collector. You've got sweet art, and you're jazzed out of your mind. Awesome! But you don't know how to frame it or where to put it? Yikes.
Framing can make or break the impact of that gorgeous piece you just bought, and you need to know how to display it for full impact! While I can't go to the frame shop with you, I can tell you a few ways to make sure that you're choosing the best frame for your piece, and hanging it in a way that will let it shine in all its full glory. Sound good? Read on, friend.
1. Go Pro or DIY?
First, you must decide: take your art to a framing shop or do the framing yourself. If you've got a VERY large piece, an impossibly weird-sized piece, or one that requires ultra specific and complicated details, take that thing to a pro. If not, I recommend DIYing it, and feeling like a total badass. It's really not as hard as it seems, once you know the basics.
Ok, assuming you're going to tackle this project yourself, let's get into it.
2. Choose Your Colors:
Black, white, or gold frames are almost always winning choices. Predominantly green pieces look particulary good in gold. Other colors can be fun, but it's best to get an expert opinion if you go that route, unless you're a color whiz. I frame most of my pieces in black or gold, or some combo of the two.
3. To Mat or Not to Mat?
That is the question! Pieces that are not on canvas tend to look great matted. Matting in black, white, or gray won’t complete with the work and will allow the piece to breathe and have its full impact. Choose a mat that is neither too thin nor too wide, so as to keep everything in balance. A double mat can make things look extra classy. When in doubt, get a mat.
4. Source Your Frame and Mat:
I like to look online for my materials: Amazon and Etsy are my go-to places. They tend to be cheaper online than anything you will find in stores. Just make sure that you're purchasing a high quality frame and an acid-free mat. I prefer wood frames because they are durable, beautiful, and you can add the hanging materials to the backs yourself, for the most secure hanging. Make sure to factor in the size of your mat when choosing a size!
I also recommend buying a frame that comes with real glass, as opposed to one with acrylic facing. Acrylic scratches easily, and just doesn't look quite as good, but if you're buying a very large frame, sometimes the cost difference makes it worthwhile. Your best bet is UV-treated glass, which will protect your work from light, keeping it vibrant for the long haul.
5. Add the Backing:
For hanging, I recommend using D-rings and wire. This will hold securely on the wall, even if the piece gets bumped, and it's easy to adjust. D-rings usually come in kits, with screws included. Again, I recommend buying them online. For most pieces, a light to medium weight wire will suffice. To apply them, you'll need a screwdriver, and wire clippers. All you have to do is screw the D-rings in about a third of the way down the frame, on either side of the art. Cut your wire, leaving extra to wrap around itself, and to have a bit of slack in it. About an inch or two on either side of the D-rings will suffice. Weave the wire through the D-rings, and wrap the wire around itself where it goes through the D-rings. Leave just enough slack in the wire so that when you tug on it, it almost reaches the top of the frame, with about a quarter to half inch of room above it. If this doesn't make any sense, watch a video or check out photos online. It's really very easy.
Next, using acid-free framing tape, seal the gap between the backing an the frame, so that dust doesn't get into the piece. This is a very important step, so please don't skip it! And you guessed it, I buy my framing tape online.
The location and height of the piece depends on a few things. First, keep all light-sensitive media out of sunlight! Watercolor pieces should not even be in indirect sunlight, and would do better in a hallway or in a room with few windows. Acrylic and oil pieces, as well as photographs, can stand up to indirect light.
Very large pieces look great positioned above a couch or other grouping of furniture. The work should hang low enough that it looks like part of the grouping, but not so low that it will get bumped. Smaller pieces look great clustered together or hanging in a hallway. Don't line pieces up with edges of tables or shelves. This looks weird as you-know-what. There are many gallery wall templates online if you need help choosing your layout. As a general rule of thumb, hang smaller pieces at an average eye-level. Most newbies make the mistake of hanging their art too high.
That's it! I hope you enjoy your lovely new artwork, and feel confident framing and hanging it. Let me know if you have any questions!
Any color lovers out there? My hand is raised. I’m 100% OBSESSED with color! I understand that it can be a frustrating topic for some people though, which is why I’m here to sort it out!
Do you have trouble choosing colors that go together in your home or in your artwork? Do they look disjointed or just ... off? Good news! There are basic principles and rules that color live by, and once you learn them, pairing colors is a snap!
Here are a few helpful tips to get you on the right track.
1. Notice what you’re drawn to.
Obvious, but important. What you’re drawn to color-wise is valuable information. People are emotionally connected to or repulsed by certain colors for all sorts of complicated reasons. Pay attention to that! Your instincts are sharper than you think they are. Whatever colors you love, there’s a way to put them together.
2. Consult the color wheel.
You know that circular rainbow pie thingy that your art teacher showed you in high school? Ya, still helpful. Color wheels are available all over the internet and offer great information once you can make sense of them.
First off, you should know that the colors opposite one another on the wheel are called complementary colors. These colors look AMAZING together. Think red and green, purple and yellow, orange and blue. Stunning. However, painters beware! These colors can turn to mud when mixed, so consider layering them instead of mixing them on the palette.
Second, colors next to each other on the wheel, like green, blue, and yellow, are called analogous colors. They also look amazing together! It’s hard to go wrong with a color scheme like this.
3. Balance your values.
Values are, quite simply, how light or dark something is. When creating a piece of art, or arranging a room, try adding bits and pieces of differing values. This will anchor things and keep them balanced. For example, if you paint your room black, the darkest value, consider balancing it out with light, soft colors or punchy bright ones. If your room is all white, you’ll either need pops of intense color, or a mix of light values and textures to add variety. Texture and color go hand in hand!
4. Consider your feelings.
Does lime green make you queasy? Does red make you mad? You’re not alone! Colors can have intense emotional ties, many of which are very personal, and some hold true across the board. There’s a reason that most fast food companies have the same colors in their logos. Those colors have been shown to stimulate the appetite! Yellow and red = yum, yum. Purple = not so much.
Red has been shown to produce a burst of adrenaline, while blue and green have been proven to foster creativity. Research colors to find out what they mean, but always trust your gut first!
5. Mix, baby, mix!
Or combine. Or...whatever. When putting colors together, they must be BALANCED. That means not putting every electric color you love on every surface of your living room! That means not creating a piece of art in which every element is the same value and texture. Balance shocks of color with grounding whites, grays, and blacks. Try choosing one color and then playing with different values of it. This can be a very classy look. And you’re a classy human, I know it.
Items that are very bright or very dark carry a lot of visual weight, so you need to balance them out with expanses of light, to let them breathe. Let them breathe, for goodness sake!
Well, does that cover it? Do you still have questions about color? Hopefully, you’re slightly less baffled than before. Let me know in the comments!
I'm in a rut.
Yes, I said it. I'm feeling creatively STUCK. This doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I immediately turn to my trusty creative toolbox to get UNSTUCK. If you ever get creatively contstipated, this post is for you!
I don't know any creatives who are a fountain of inspiration all the time. All of us encounter seasons of dryness in our careers or hobbies. When we find ourselves in these frustrating places, we need to recharge our creative batteries so that we can get back to the making that we love! Here are a few ways that I like to recharge:
1. Take a break.
I know it's a taboo thing to say, but sometimes taking a short break can be immensely helpful! Whether that be a nap or a week away from painting, I find that letting myself unplug and reset can be a total game-changer.
2. Get outside.
Nature is full of exciting discoveries, and it's all right outside our doors! Even if you live in a city, visiting a park or a botanical garden, can refresh and enliven all of your senses.
3. Try a new medium.
Even if you SUCK at it, trying a new medium can trigger amazing new connections in your brain. If you are a painter, try collage! If you're a jewelry artist, try sculpting! Sometimes when we experiment and play, we uncover fresh ways to access our creativity.
4. Connect with other makers.
Sometimes, all it takes is having coffee with another artist. I like to visit their studios and see how they work, and to hear about what's happening in their creative practices. Focusing on others is a sure way to lift the cloud of self-despair! Just make sure that you're listening and not talking all about your art block.
5. Be a curator.
If you're a creative soul, I'm sure you love to collect art from other makers. Try making a pinterest board with all of the art that is sparking something within you at the moment. Or, if you're super old-school, create a vision board of clippings and photos that look great together. This could lead to some really cool connections!
6. Engage with words.
And finally...engage with words. One of my favorite ways to do this is to perform and listen to spoken word poetry. Poetry is like painting that you can hear! Another obvious way is to read books and magazines. You never know when a poem or story will unlock a fascination with a word or subject you'd never considered before.
...That's a wrap! I hope that if you're feeling stuck like me, you implement some of these strategies to propel yourself forward. Usually, when I'm stuck, it means I've forgotten to take my Adderall, but hopefully that's not the case for you! Ha!
Let me know if these tips were helpful. I love hearing from you!
I have a modest instagram following; let's just get that out there. BUT, the followers I do have are precious to me because they are REAL, engaged, active followers...which is what we all want, right? If you are looking for a way to bring more traffic to your feed, and engage those quality followers, read on!