Category Archives: Being an artist

Being an artist and getting down to business

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Handmade ceramic plate. About 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ SOLD.

I started a new schedule this week, designating specific times as my work hours. Besides wanting to clarify my work hours, I wanted to be sure I was making space for personal “me” hours, husband time, and just play hours, too.

This schedule idea is part of my strategy to make sense of this business of being a full-time artist. Previously I’ve done my art around day jobs, fitting the art-making in whenever I could but often feeling frustrated that I didn’t have time to put greater focus on it. Oddly, it feels like I have still been just fitting creative time around other things, even though now this is my job.

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Handmade ceramic plate. About 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ $24.

Proclaiming work hours seems like a good way to reset my mindset. I asked for support from my husband in honoring my work hours. I’ve marked my calendar so I know what time to go to work in my office, when to show up in my studio, and what time to come home from work. On the personal side of it, I’ve allocated times for exercise, dinner and evening relaxation with my sweet husband. I’m kind of free wheeling on Saturdays, but I plan to use that day for household chores, laundry, and have fun family time too. For awhile now I’ve kept Sundays as my day to rest and restore and often experiment with different art materials.

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Handmade ceramic plate. About 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ $24.

Before this week, I sometimes felt scattered. I could easily spend the entire day going from one thing to the next but not sure if I was getting anywhere. Now I plan to use morning hours in my office working on finances, business planning, research and development, marketing, and I’ve set aside an hour for online art classes or listening to positive content. Afternoons will be studio time, used for making beautiful art.

How is it working so far? Well, honestly not perfectly quite yet. On Tuesday, I was ill so I  “called in sick.” Luckily I have an awesome and understanding boss! Today, here I am writing a blog at 4:30 in the afternoon instead of sitting in my studio making pottery.

I needed to be flexible and follow the flow today, but setting up a structure for my days is a gift I am giving to myself to help me. It is a nod to myself saying, yes, this is a business. You are an artist, and you are in business. I’m making space for both sides of this, with a little wiggle room for inspirational flow.

What do you do to keep your work and play in balance?

Tammy

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These fun ceramic plates will be in my online Etsy shop or they can be purchased here using button below.

Handmade ceramic plates. Approximately 3-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ $24 each. Top plate has sold.

Click triangle below to choose which plate


Thank you and farewell 2015

This past week, I’ve spent some time strolling down memory lane, refreshing myself on 2015’s accomplishments and challenges. I thought doing a sort-of annual review would make for more solid 2016 planning.

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2015 calendar inserts

I poured through calendars, looked through photographs, and reviewed posts from my social media feeds to refresh myself on happenings in my personal and business life. Wow, so much happened in the past 12 months!

When 2015 began, I was employed full-time with the State of Alaska and I was doing art and pottery part-time around the day job.

 

Boat dream

In April, my husband and I had found and purchased a modest-sized and priced boat, which he planned to use for commercial hand-trolling. He had served as crew on a commercial fishing vessel the past two summers, but our intention was always for him to run his own boat. By spring 2015, it was time.

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Doug and brother Dave fishing for kings in Our Boat

After getting the boat all set, we were planning to refinance a property that I owned in Anchorage.

Unexpected news, revising plans

In May, due to budget shortfalls with the State, I was laid off from my job. That was an unexpected development. I had planned to stay at the day job for about 5 years before retiring to work full-time at my art. Somehow it felt like Universe was encouraging me to do that sooner. “What are you waiting for?” it seemed to ask.

After learning about my layoff in May, and not knowing yet what my income stream would look like, we decided to put the Anchorage property on the market instead of refinancing. I’d tried twice before to sell without success, but the housing market looked much different this time.

We listed the property toward end of May. In less than a week, we had an offer. It was a cash offer, which meant the closing process would be much quicker than conventional financing would be. Thank you!

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After signing closing documents, I left the condo keys and a welcome home note and plant for the new owner

Easing in to my dream

For more than 20 years I’d been dreaming of doing art full-time, but fears about not being able to make enough money to live on kept me from taking that leap. Cautiously, after so many years of working long and hard for others, I thought this might be the time.

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Glazed pottery is unloaded in preparation for market.

During the summer months, I eased my entry into the full-time artist role by taking a temporary 10-hour-per-week job at the local artists’ co-op gallery, in which I am also a member.

Proceeds from the sale of our Anchorage property allowed us to pay off debts and reduce monthly expenses. Very helpful with the loss of income from my day job. Between my husband’s retirement, his commercial fishing income, and my art sales, we have been doing OK. With these slower sales months, I’m looking for additional revenue streams, perhaps finding a way to use my graphic design skills to supplement my income. But that is a 2016 plan. Back to my review.

Ongoing education and projects

Throughout 2015, I participated in numerous online trainings, coaching groups, and classes. I adore learning and expanding my knowledge and skills. A few of the online programs included a Mentor’s Mastermind group with Robin Hallett and several of her Business Alignment offerings; a two-week, four-session class called “Permission to Be Creative and Make Money” with working artist Marissa Cummings (Creative Thursday); and during the last quarter of the year, a Creative Business Incubator program lead by multi-media artist Traci Bautista; and Vision Quest, a creative-fitness program with artistic muse Whitney Freya.

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Watercolor created during Whitney Freya’s 21-Day Painting Challenge

I participated in online art classes such as Story Circles, taught by Cassia Cogger, Printmaking Unleashed with Traci Bautista, a 21-day painting challenge with Whitney Freya, and Sketchbook Basics with Diane Bleck. I also took a metal engraving class and two art studio classes at the University of Alaska campus here in Sitka.

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A batch of glazed beads are unloaded from the kiln

I successfully completed an online 100-day project challenge in which I made beads, and boy did I make a lot of beads in 100 days of working on that. It was a great challenge and learning experience. I gave myself permission to just do a little bit each day, but usually once I started I did more than a little bit. It was a wonderful experience and I was able to share my process each day by posting to Instagram. Most of the days I posted photographs but I even managed to make a few videos of some of the process too.

Expanding comfort zone

Speaking of videos, I also made three music videos, which I posted on my personal Facebook page. These were something I did for my own amusement while I practiced playing my guitar and singing. Music is another of my great passions, one which I do not give much space for, so I’m happy to share it there to my friends and family. It actually feels like quite a feat for an introvert, such as myself.

Some 2015 highlights

A few other highlights of my year included:

  • Creating graphic art, watercolors, doodles, and photographs in addition to pottery.

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    A digital doodle done on my iPad

  • Traveling to Anchorage and Palmer to see family – three of my four adult children – and in particular my one-and-only grandson, who was up from Louisiana visiting his aunt (my daughter). During this trip I was also able to sign closing papers on the sale of our property.
  • Attending Camp GLP, a summer camp for grownups held in upstate New York, where I got to meet in person several online friends and a number of coaches/mentors/artists whom I had followed for several years online.

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    It was awesome to meet these beautiful souls in person after previously know only through online forums

  • Rearranging my studio, creating more space to work and making pottery wheel more accessible.
  • Making jewelry from beads made during the 100-day project mentioned above.
  • Creating opportunities for online sales by making a sales page on my Website and adding items to a Spreesy shop and Etsy.
  • Creating a space for a regular painting practice.
  • Participating in three “personal retreat days,” in which I spent the day without electronics and simply took time for myself and to listen for inner guidance
  • Using one-way tickets for myself and husband, we flew to Anchorage with a list of potential motorhomes. We trusted we’d find the perfect one and drive it back. After looking at eight vehicles listed on Craigslist, we narrowed it down to our perfect motorhome. We had a wonderful adventure traveling back home, camping in the motorhome along the Alaska Highway to Haines and riding ferry home to Sitka. We look forward to many more road trip adventures.
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    Our first camping site in our new camper

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    Doug cooking dinner in our motorhome

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    Enjoying our first meal in our new motorhome

  • Helping my Mom with a project by taking pictures of each page of her treasured family scrapbook so she could have it in a digital form to share with other family members.
  • Practicing my graphic design skills to create several posters announcing First Friday events at the co-op gallery I belong to. Also, during the holidays, using my page design/layout skills to building a full-page ad for the gallery.
  • Created a page in a Doodle Girl & Friends collaborative coloring book with Diane Bleck, creator of the Doodle Institute.
  • Enjoying some rare time with my husband’s three (adult) kids during the holidays. They all live elsewhere so it was nice to have them all in the same place.
  • Participating in the Sitka Artisan’s Market, a three-day holiday sale.

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    New display location resulted in higher sales

  • Increase in sales. In March, my pottery at the co-op gallery moved to a more visible location, and sales grew. Between the new display location, my participation in the three-day market, and a handful of online sales, my art income was three times higher in 2015 than it was the prior year.

Wrap up

Thank you and farewell 2015. Welcome 2016!

I am excited about the infinite possibilities that this new year may bring. Do you have some favorite 2015 moments? Feel free share in the comments. Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!

Tammy

Being artist and being me

I’ve been doing a lot of business alignment things of late. Checking in with myself as to why I do art and why I want to share it out in the world. Why I’ve decided that my job is to make art and exactly what that job looks like. It has been a process.

I’m still learning to allow myself to believe in my creative abilities and to trust that the universe will support this choice that I’ve made to follow my dream of being a full-time artist. I admit, it is scary, but I decided to do it anyway. I’ve been looking into stories that I didn’t even consciously know I held and questioning whether they’re true or not.

(c) 2015 Tammy Judd Jenny

After a day of drizzle, sunset colors broke through under the cloud covering on July 31, 2015, immediately after I finished a blue moon burning ceremony in which I’d released my fears and called in my desires.

I was raised with a strong work ethic which suggested that I must be practical and learn practical skills in order to work and support myself. Somehow in my mind this implied that things such as doing art and/or playing music, another lifelong passion of mine, were not practical and that I could never support myself doing them.

I have spent my entire adult life working in “practical” day jobs and then fitting art and music around the jobs. The practical skills that I’d learned in school did indeed make it possible to always find work and I’m grateful for that. But, while I was very good at the various office jobs I’ve done, and I was always an excellent employee, the work itself did not fully satisfy a core hunger to do work that was personally meaningful.

Through self-reflection, and with guidance and encouragement from teachers, I have come to see that I am here to creatively express my truth out in to the world. One of my coaches, Robin Hallett, says that we are each here to shine our light in our sliver of the universe. I’m the only one who can shine my light, my way. Everyone else has their lights to shine too. When we all do that and allow each other to shine … well can you imagine what that world would be like? I think it would be a wonderful place indeed.

I’d recently listened to a talk given by Anita Moorjani, the author of the book “Dying To Be Me,” in which she recounted her amazing near-death experience, and her advice was, “Be yourself. Be as you as you can be.” She said, “If you don’t be yourself, you deprive the universe of who you’ve come here to be.”

Who am I to deprive the entire universe of whatever gift it is that I am here to give? I humble myself before the vast universe and ask, how can I serve? What is it that I am here to give? The best I can do is open myself up, allow myself to show up in my job as artist and to work and create and express whatever I can from here, from my little sliver of this universe, and hope that I am able to shine my light while I am still here and able.

(c) 2015 Tammy Judd Jenny

On the evening of July 31, 2015, the Universe gave me a “hug” with a stunning sunset and a cloud thumbs up immediately after I’d put out a call for success in my life as a full-time artist.

This morning I was answering business-alignment questions and I sat for a while with the question, “What is my mission?” Since I am now a full-time artist, I think it may also be my life’s mission. Here is what came:

My mission:

“To create beautiful art that brings joy and delight to people and offers a loving visual hug when it is displayed and/or used.”

I imagine that a mission statement may need to be revisited periodically to make sure it still rings true, but today this is my mission in this wondrous world. Do you have a mission statement? Does it reflect the best you that you are here to be? Thank you for reading and for being. <3

Tammy