So here are the peas in their pod, as they look now. The next time you see it, it shall be finished. I will definitely have a better photo. The sky has been overcast for days and it makes taking photographs difficult. Even if we do get some sunny weather, I will probably have to do some Photoshop work to adjust for the large amount of white in the background.
It has been a joy to log in some serious studio time in the past two weeks. We have closed up the farmhouse and it has been pure bliss not to have to go out of town a couple of times a week.
I haven't been working on the peas that much. In fact, I have been revisiting several completed pieces.
I shall be participating in a studio tour in just four weeks and that means that I have to get busy framing art. Before I frame a work, I revisit it. That means that I put it on the drafting table and I start looking it over very closely. Then I grab my pencils and I start to tweak. Sometimes I just need to crisp up an edge or two or slightly deepen a value. Sometimes I do more than that. The advantage to living with art for a while is that I can be more objective. The distance of time helps me to see if I captured what I had intended to. Once this stage is done, I sign my name and then the art is ready for spraying, scanning and the framing process. Perhaps this is my own oddity but I find I do not like to sign a work until I am completely satisfied that it is done, 100% done.
One piece that is getting some significant tweaking is my peony stamen picture. I finished working on this piece early in the summer and I placed it in my studio where I could see it. I didn't feel that I was quite done with it but I wanted to sit with it for a while. In the end, I decided I would take the risk of bumping the whole piece up a few notches. When I left it, the piece had an overall soft quality to it. While the stamens did pop, the whole piece seemed lower key than I eventually felt I wanted. So, onto the drafting table it went for some serious tweaking. I deepened all the shadow values, strengthened lines and enriched colours. I also lifted some veiny bits that I had put into the petals. I didn't like them so off they came.
Now it is taped to my white board that I have out for teaching. I have moved into the tweaking standing up stage. This position allows me to step back from the piece which I am doing a lot! It is almost ready to sign. :-)
I have had some interesting conversations with folks since declaring that I am running with the wolves in 2010. It would seem that my decision to stand my ground for studio time and not teach was interpreted by some as meaning that I was "taking a year off". I am still chuckling over that one. No I am not retiring, nor am I taking a year off. In fact my goal is to work lots and hard but just not at teaching.
Running a business takes time, a lot of it. Unless you are fortunate to be represented by fabulous galleries that manage to consistently sell your art (which isn't the reality for the majority of artists) you end up doing the business stuff yourself. In a given 40 hr work week (most self employed people work more than that), lets say that 50% of an artist's time is spent on business. That means that the artist has just 20 hours to throw pots, carve wood or work on their reference photos, drawings and colouring. Humm...a bit sobering isn't it?
The business stuff for me involves correspondence (student inquiries, registration receipts, art business related email, writing newsletters), doing my accounts (managing my income and expenses), marketing (creating print ads, writing press releases, designing and getting business cards and media cards printed), buying supplies (for creating art, for teaching art classes, for matting and framing, for displaying art, for the office), doing research (keeping abreast of art information, art business trends, how to keep marketing strategies current), networking and selling (being involved in art groups, both local and international, participating in shows and doing volunteer work for a couple of these groups), having an internet presence through a website (which involves designing the website, learning software, obtaining quality scans of work as well as maintenance through regular updating) and a blog, entering work into juried exhibitions, continuing to learn new computer skills, creating product beyond original art (notecards, reproductions, designing and printing off kit material, creating teaching curriculum), etc. etc.
My new fangs bared approach is my way of claiming those 20 hours a week in the studio. I am also striving to get this number higher. Without fresh new work, the rest of the effort doesn't make much sense. Like most self employed people I work weekends and evenings. For example last weekend I taught Saturday, had my mother-in-law visiting from out of town and still managed to attend an important local arts group meeting for two hours on Sunday. Tuesday night I wrote a new bit of press material that the coordinator of the studio tour requested. Wednesday night I updated my accounting ledgers. Last night I designed and printed off 16 full page, colour ads, again to be used in conjunction with the studio tour. Tonight I shall get ready for tomorrow's teaching session.
Please don't misunderstand. I am in no way complaining. I love what I do and I feel privileged to be self employed. I even enjoy the business end of it. I also appreciate that many artists do this business stuff, create art and work at a full time job! I just wanted you to know that I am not retiring! :-) When that time comes, I will do art just for fun. There won't be any business related tasks and there will be no teaching.
I shall leave you with a couple of fall foliage shots, but not of trees. And yes, despite my rant above, I do find time to be in the garden. :-) I love how the plants start to take on different hues in autumn.
Like this hosta...
and this clump of solomon's seal...