Happy 2016! I've taken a break over the holidays to shut down my production and focus on my family after a very intense end of year celebrating birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, hanging a solo show, last-minute holiday commissions, and online sales. I feel as if I'm starting to emerge on multiple levels. While I haven't yet gotten back to art making, I've spent the past week bookkeeping, reviewing and reflecting on 2015. While many artists I follow on social media are actively creating already, I have needed to take a step back and meditate on my successes and failures and BREATHE before moving ahead. Something people keep telling me I need to do, both literally and figuratively. So I'm heeding the advice.
Through that pause for reflection I discovered 2015 was a year of growth for me. I increased my overall student enrollment, began teaching adult watercolor classes at Work & Play in South Orange, offered a part-time summer drawing camp, created over 30 new pieces of art, exhibited at multiple venues including the Maplewood Art Walk, SOMA Studio Tour, and currently at Hat City Kitchen, participated in two public art events in South Orange, reintroduced my annual calendar, began making watercolor calendars for a free monthly desktop download, helped a student set up a private studio, and participated in an art challenge to create every day during the month of November.
Whew! I am proud of my own accomplishments. But, I couldn't have done it without the following in place. As a working mom with young kids and a husband who spent a good portion of the year traveling for his job, I got help with my kids. My youngest is in part-time daycare and I added on a day where he goes to a neighbor's house. My oldest is in school, but I've reached out to friends when I need extra support after school. For keeping myself on task and organized, last year I invested in an awesome planner: the Passion Planner. It's a neat book that encourages me to goal-set and write things down, as well as offers space to work out ideas visually. I've noticed that days without my planner I feel lost, adrift, even more so than being without my technology. Both the act of writing out my goals and paying for time to create my work keeps me on target. I know that when the kids are in school, I am in my studio either creating, marketing or teaching.
Yesterday, I had a phone call with an artist I knew from my former gallery in Newton, NJ, and he wanted advice from me on goal-setting and moving forward with his art. He was questioning where to sell his work and how to price it. Though I've been in business for ten years, my relocation and taking time off after having my 2nd child, has put me back in the same boat. I told him that I was in the exact same quandary: wondering about pricing my work, where to sell it, and what to make. Ultimately, my advice to him was to follow his interest in subject matter, keep making the work, do lots of research and networking on the best venues, and continue to create and test the waters. After all, that's what artists do. I'll be taking my own advice, and my goal this year is to attend one art-related event per month that is not my own so I can begin to network and see beyond my own studio.
Whether you are an artist, student or hobbyist, what are you doing to move into 2016 artistically? How have you found success in your work and what does that mean to you? Share with me on my blog or on twitter with #artful2016.
Jennie Traill Schaeffer
Deemed the Kitchen God's Artist by NJ Savvy Living for my sainted appliances, I'm now known more for my vibrant, meditational paintings of chairs set surprisingly in landscapes. Since relocating to NC from NJ, mothering my two sons, and caring for our rescue pup, Cider, took the lead. Now, that my Durham home studio is renovated it's open again for virtual art coaching and the resumption of my personal art and commissions. The work I make is inspired by my joy of teaching, exploring nature, and traveling. On The Teaching Artist Blog, I share my approach to teaching and educate my readers about my creative process.
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