Monday, October 28, 2019

Happy Blog Birthday!

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Happy Birthday to my blog: eleven years today!

It's been a journey, to say the least. Eleven years. I can't really believe how fast the time has gone, or that I could think of so many things to blog about. When I first (very nervously) considered blogging, that was my biggest fear: that I’d have nothing to say. Up until that point, I'd only ever read fashion or lifestyle blogs and I had no idea what on earth I could offer potential readers. I also wasn’t very computer literate, so I worried that I wouldn’t be able to post any pictures, create links, or make my blog very attractive. Other fears were that my posts would have a lot of typos, my grammar would be dreadful, and that I wouldn't be able to blog on a consistent basis.

Things went from bad to worse when I invited an established blogger with a large following to write a guest post and help me get started. She refused, saying it would be a waste of time because “nobody reads your blog.” I was crushed! However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I decided that if nobody was reading my blog, then I didn’t have any reason to be embarrassed. With that in mind, I started writing blog posts that I’d like to read myself, things about writing, art, and the creative process in general. And that’s remained my primary focus all these years later. 

One bloggy trick that's helped me immensely is to brainstorm my posts in advance as much as I can. Rather than sitting down on my appointed “blogging day” and facing a blank screen wondering what to write, I keep a special journal just for blog ideas. Every time something interesting occurs to me that I think would make a good post, I jot it down. This way I always have something ready to go, especially during those weeks when I am either overly-busy or running on empty.

The main thing that keeps me going, though, is that I truly enjoy the topics I write about. Blogging is always easiest when I remember it’s all about having a conversation with my readers, and to that end I plan to start blogging a little more frequently in 2020. These last couple of years have been a bit too crowded with house renovations, day job chores, manuscript revision, etc. etc., and I want to change that next year.

So with that in mind: I'm celebrating eleven years on the Blogosphere! Anyone up for cake?

Tip of the Day: This one is for my blogger friends, especially those who may be feeling a little burnt-out or thinking of calling it quits: Don't think about how many people are reading your latest post today. Blog posts last forever. No matter how old a post is, there's always a new reader for it. Almost every day I'm amazed at how many people still check out posts of mine from four, five, ten years ago. Blogging for me is as much of a creative outlet as writing a short story or experimenting with a new color palette. In other words, it's fun! Thank you all for sharing the view. See you next time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Beads, Glorious Beads!

 So . . .  I've been bead shopping . . . 

And I kind of got more than I bargained for!

For the last week or two I've been sorting, bagging, and organizing what must be several thousand individual beads that arrived via US Post in what were called "mixed bags." Initially I thought I had ordered, oh, a few little envelopes of assorted colors. You know, some focal beads, a variety of purples, some blues, some greens. Little things. When I went to the post office to pick up my parcel, I was shocked--the box must have weighed close to twenty pounds. I was staggered--both figuratively and literally; I could barely carry it back to the car.

For the first few hours after opening the box, I just sat at my art table looking at all this bounty in utter shock. A few hours more and I had to make a decision: either I had to pack the whole lot up and store it on a very high shelf where it would remain for the next ten years, or I had to get moving. If I didn't act now, it was never. These beads weren't going to sort themselves into a zillion different categories and somebody had to take control. And thus my plan was hatched: it's time to go into business, kids!

The idea of starting a jewelry business isn't entirely new; I'm sure I've mentioned wanting to do something along these lines more than once on this very blog, but getting up the courage and determination to follow through certainly is. No more playing around with colors and bead shapes and sizes and arrangements "just to see what they look like." Instead, I'm setting up special weekend hours to work steadily on both learning my craft and creating new designs to sell. Yes, sell. It sounds so scary!

The goal is to have by next summer a full inventory of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets priced at affordable levels with enough items to keep some back so that I can replace items as they are sold. In other words--a lot of stuff! 

To make the process and adventure even more interesting, I bought my first packets of silver clay to make my own pendants and charms. I haven't opened any of them yet as I'm not quite ready to begin (our New Mexico climate is so dry that once the package is open, the pieces must be made immediately), but in the meantime I'm studying the steps involved via books and

One unexpected benefit to all this abundance of shiny glass baubles is I am seeing color in an entirely new way, noticing how shades interact with each other whether I'm admiring autumn leaves or a friend's new jacket. It's a nice complement to my painting and drawing, and I'm sure it's going to spill over into my writing, too. As they say, one thing always just leads to another . . .

Tip of the Day: I don't think I'm alone in saying sales and marketing have always been terrifying concepts to me. But it's something I have to conquer and to that end, part of my "bead education" has to involve studying what's needed to become a selling artist. Thank goodness for artist and teacher Mary Gilkerson! Lately I've been taking the time to watch her excellent videos on art marketing and creativity at The videos are fun, informative, and applicable to more than just art--how about book marketing too? Two thumbs up from me!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hello Inktober 2019!

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Ready for a month of inky fun? Me too!

Now that October is here, so is Inktober, a 31-day drawing challenge where artists from all over the world make a daily drawing in ink and then post their work as they go on a social media site. 

An optional, and very helpful, aspect of the event is to use the list of word prompts provided on the Inktober website. This year the first word on the list is "ring" and because I decided to use the challenge as an opportunity to create a travel journal based on my trip to the UK last month, my first picture is . . . Stonehenge! (It's a ring, right??)

I'm not all that in love with this piece, having doodled it at my desk while at work and wearing the wrong glasses, but the whole point of Inktober is to just draw and not worry about the results or sharing them. (Or so I've been told.)

Throughout the month and in spite of my many worries and fears I'll be using a variety of inks and pens, all on a watercolor wash background in a small landscape-sized Global Arts watercolor journal. My pen choices will include bamboo pens, fountain pens, dip pens, brush pens, technical pens, and even ballpoints. Ink isn't the easiest medium in the universe, but it's a medium I enjoy despite my dozens (hundreds) of setbacks

I like Inktober and drawing along with a world-wide community of other artists at all skill levels. It's an inspiring challenge, one that forces me out of my comfort zone and gives me a daily art goal for the month. It also reminds me that things could be worse: it could be November and National Novel Writing Month, and believe me, 31 ink drawings is a whole lot easier than a 50K writing marathon. I think. Right. Yes. Okay, I'll let you know after Halloween. Trick or treat.

Tip of the Day: Even if you're not an artist or don't like drawing with ink, you can still use Inktober as a fun exercise. Instead of using the posted prompts as art themes, why not use them for some daily freewriting? Handwritten, of course, and in your favorite journal!