Tag Archives: personal reflection

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

Learning to be imperfectly quirky me

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Teapot made while in school

In 1996, when I was in art school, I made this teapot. Much of the pottery I made while learning this craft was given to family and friends, or sold during the semester pottery sale, but this teapot, I kept. I loved the way it looked and felt, and I thought it might inspire future works.

When I took the teapot from the kiln back then, I did not have the right size handle available, so I put the teapot on my shelves with no handle. I enjoyed looking at it there, along with a pottery collection which included my own and work by other potters.

A few years ago, I added a bamboo handle that seemed about the right size and style. The teapot then decorated the top of an electric heater that simulated a wood stove with a flickering glow. It looked cute sitting on top there as if the stove was keeping the contents of the teapot warm. After our move in March, the teapot wound up on a shelf again.

Today, I pulled the teapot off the shelf, rinsed the dust from it, and proceeded to brew myself a pot of tea. I saw my name and the ’96 carved into the bottom of the pot and realized that I had never used the pot for the purpose for which is was made.

It is not a perfect pot, in fact, when I pour my tea, the spout dribbles. The spout was made prior to learning a few clay tips and tricks to prevent or reduce the dribble problem. The teapot is slightly heavier than it probably should be, often a problem for beginner potters, but you know what? The teapot kept my tea nice and warm, the thick walls were likely insulating and keeping the heat in the water for longer.

I have recently been doing a lot of personal reflection, self-healing, and undoubtedly, inner transformation, by incorporating daily quiet time for journaling, meditation and prayer, movement and various forms of art. I’ve given myself permission to ask for space to do these stillness practices for myself.

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A quick pen and ink sketch while waiting for my tea to steep

As I write about my little teapot, including its flaws, I can’t help but wonder if my teapot is a metaphor for me. Over the years, have I put my authentic self on the shelf? Was I waiting there for someone, well me, to add a handle to allow me to pour forth whatever “work” I am here on earth to do? Have I been afraid because I am not perfect?

While my teapot isn’t perfect, today I find joy in using it, dribbles and all. Sometimes it’s the quirky things about handmade pottery that make the pieces the most charming. Could that be true for people too? Maybe it is my quirky imperfections that make me uniquely me? If I allow myself to just be my true authentic self, quirkiness’s and all, will I be able to shine out in the world and fill the space I’m supposed to fill in this universal continuum that we all share? I kind of hope so. My teapot today is fulfilled by finally serving its true purpose. I want my life to have meaning, and I want to know I am fulfilling my purpose too.

What kinds of things do you do to just be authentically you? Do you feel aligned with your authentic self? Feel free to share your thoughts if you’d like.

Tammy