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Posts from the ‘Business sense’ Category

Top Lessons Learned on this Journey

Sunset over Rocks

Inspiration is everywhere!

Top things I’ve learned since becoming Art At Dawn

1. Inspiration is everywhereEvery waking hour is fodder for my art.  Sometimes it trickles up from my memories and other times I know it the moment it occurs.

I felt that very keenly this summer when my family and I took that trip out West.  Inspiration enveloped me and penetrated all my senses.  Look for upcoming posts on how it has begun to influence my work.

2. Consistency is key– I’ve found that I’m most productive when I keep myself on a schedule and hold myself to self-imposed deadlines. The times I flounder are when my goals are unclear or vague.

As I wrote about it in this post, I have developed a weekly schedule that helps to keep me focused.  I feel lost the weeks that I skip it.

I wish I could say that all this consistency allows my creativity to flow abundantly.  Not so.  There are times that I have to force myself to keep at it.  The important thing, I’ve learned, is just to show up and keep stoking the fire.  If the fire goes out it takes a lot longer to start it up again and feel the warmth of its glowing embers which feeds my art.

3. Time is precious– There are only so many hours in the day, and only a portion of them can be used for my art.  The trick is to use the time I have to the best of my ability and not kick myself when I run out of it.  (The best way to estimate my time?  Take the amount I think it will require and double it!)

But there is another side to the coin.  When I lose myself to my art, I often lose track of time as well.  I get in The Zone.  It is a great place to be in but requires the freedom of time, as well.

I've learned some tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

I’ve learned a few tricks, along the way, to maximize the supplies I have on hand.

4. Art supplies need not be expensive– that goes for studio furniture, too! Over the years I’ve amassed a lot of art supplies and learned some tricks on how to maximize the supplies I have lying around the house.

That goes for studio equipment and furniture, too.  I’ve also found some great deals at consignment stores and Craigslist, and am always looking out for discounted items to supplement my studio wishlist.

5. My talents are valid– It’s easy, in this field, to look around at my highly talented peers and convince myself that I don’t possess the skills and creativity that they have.  But I can’t do that to myself.  I can’t discount the feelings of excitement and happiness that often overwhelm me while creating a drawing or painting.

If I am passionate about my art and business I need to trust that others will see it and want what I have to offer.  (The trick is getting it out there where they can see it, too!)

6. Feel the fear and do it anyway– At times I am unsure of myself; where I am going with my art, and what I am doing.  I must allow myself to experience those feelings but then forge ahead. What other choice do I have? Giving up is not an option!

Sometimes I feel fearful when I am in a new situation or approaching someone about my art. I’ve found that what helps ease my anxiety is to think to myself, What’s the worst that can happen? Perhaps I‘ll get rejected or feel out of my element, but the world will still spin and life will go on. So I swallow my pride and keep going- because I must!


I am so thankful to the friends and family who have encouraged and supported me along this journey.

7. Make time for family and friends– It is so easy to lose sight of the things that matter, if I allow it, especially if I’m wrapped up in a big project or preparing for a show.  I’ve learned that I constantly need to take a step back and look around me.  I need to take in the big picture and remember what my core values are.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be able to be using my God-given talents, but I cannot forget those who encouraged and helped me along the way.  I am so grateful to them, and I never want to forget to be thankful!

8. There is an answer out there for everything– I’ve had to forge many new streams in creating my business. I’ve had to find resources and learn to navigate them. Sometimes I’ve even had to learn new skills by watching tutorials or taking an online class.

I may have to dig for it, but the answers are out there. Thank God for Google!

9. Make a decision and stick with it–   This has not been an easy lesson to learn. Everywhere I turn there are decisions to make, and it can get overwhelming.  From what kind of art I should do, to where I should show it; decisions about what my art and business is about, and how I should run it.  Only I can decide and stand my ground- otherwise it would all get washed away in the current.

But then there are times when something doesn’t work and I need to let it go. That’s not an easy decision, either, but a necessary one to keep developing my art and business.

10. Prioritize– It’s remarkable how long its taken me to figure this out. There are so many things that need my attention and if I don’t prioritize, I wind up taking little nips but never finishing anything.

I’ve learned to choose 2-3 things each day that need to get done and then fill in with everything else. Often, I find that it’s better to get the more dreaded things out of the way first, as well. (ie: book-keeping!)

11. Make Connections– It can be hard to get myself out there and approach strangers- even if it’s in the name of my art.  I literally have to push myself to do it.  But 9 times out of 10, the people on the other end are friendly and helpful, and have led to more connections. These contacts have been invaluable and make it easier to go out and do it again.


Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

12. Don’t be afraid to fail– Not that I set out to make mistakes, but they happen anyway.  It would be easy to curl up and have a pity party every time they occur.  But I can’t.  Every failed attempt becomes an opportunity to learn and grow.

So bring it on!!

Do any of these lessons resonate with you?  What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your own business and/or creative pursuits?

Having a Learning and Growing Week!

Where do you find the time?

Valentine from 1930s-40s

Bickel Family Greeting Card Collection, 1930s-1940s

Yesterday I was running around in circles, literally!!  I felt as if I were a child with a short attention span, except I am 42 and I should know better!

I was juggling various projects while trying to clean my house.  I would run upstairs, gathering something to put away,  get sidetracked in my studio, and come downstairs with the same object in my hand!

Finally, I stopped myself and took a look at my list.  Good ol’ list!

This was the list I mentioned in my post, 6 Invaluable Studio Tools.  A post-it with my main objectives for that day written upon it.  (A focal point to keep my head on straight!)

From there I divided up the tasks into the amount of time I had, and the afternoon went a lot more smoothly.  Did I get everything done?  No.  But what needed to did!

People have said to me, “You have 3 kids, run the household, and have your own business- where do you find the time?”  I wish I could say that a certain amount of time is given out after every child is born- but that just isn’t so. (Wouldn’t that be nice!) It’s not that I find the time, it’s that I make the time.


Post It Note Collection

My collection of handy Post-it notes

I have found a few tools to help.  Disclosure: These aren’t fool-proof, but I’m going to present them to you and hope that you don’t think I’m a hypocrite for not always practicing what I preach!

First I’d like to tell you about the Importance of Sunday!  Sunday is the day that I get out all the tools that I will mention here (except maybe the last one) and use them!  It actually could be any day of the week but I find that Sundays work best for my schedule.

Calendars and Planners

What I do on Sunday afternoons!

1. Calendars and Planners

We have a family calendar prominently displayed in our kitchen.  All events, activities, meetings, etc. get written down on it.  (Usually!)

Every Sunday I take down the calendar and get out my weekly planner (one that shows the whole week in 2 pages), then draw a line down the center of each day.  On one side goes the to-dos and events based on the calendar and on the other goes the basic tasks needed to complete them.  (For example, when we are having company my task is to clean.  Sometimes a school event requires baking cookies.  Having a babysitter requires calling the babysitter to confirm earlier in the week, etc., etc.)

Then I take my planner beyond the scope of my calendar and find suitable times to get to the grocery store, work-out, and days I need to start up the crock-pot earlier, etc.  Sometimes I even plan out my meals for the week, but I’m not always that organized!

Whew!  Exhausting, right?  But I’m just getting started.  Now to plan out my art business for the week…

Goals and Intentions Binder

Goals created at the beginning of the year thanks, in part, to this planner

2. 2014 Goals and Intensions

I take out my Goals And Intentions binder that I talked about here.  In it contains my main goals that were created at the beginning of the year.  Another Disclosure: I’m far from being on track.  But the difference this year then last is that I’m still aware of them because I have a visual reminder.

Thankfully, there are a few of my goals that have actually stayed on track.  These get written into my other important organizer…

3. Weekly Goal Setter

This had been a godsend to me ever since I was introduced to it by my former life coach, Kelly Dahl.  She helped me to realize my humungous goal of setting up an art business, and this is one of the first tools she gave me to achieve it.

The premise of this tool is to evaluate what was accomplished the week before, what needs to get done in the coming week, and to break down those goals  into manageable chunks.

From here I may go back into my Weekly Planner and set aside the times that I need to achieve these goals.  I like to set aside a day or 2 each week just to create in my studio without other obligations.  It doesn’t always work out but I try!

If you sign up for my Newsletter, you will receive a simple Weekly Goal Setter that I created based on the one I use.  Mine has been modified many times to meet my own needs and includes a section to plan out my blog, social media, and book-keeping.  But it started off very similar to the one I’m giving to my lucky subscribers!:)

Handy Dandy Timer4. Timer

I just had to include this time-saver.  It isn’t something I necessarily use when I plan my week, but frequently throughout the week.  It’s actually underutilized and needs to be kept in my tool belt more often!

The timer is my friend.  I use it when I find myself procrastinating and need that extra 15 minutes to piddle around.  It helps me to multi-task by allocating a certain amount of time to each project.  It also holds my kids at bay when I need an extra 10 minutes to finish something before I am at their beck and call!

I recently had a conversation with my friend, Teresa, about how I always seem to be scrambling to get myself and my family out the door in time for appointments and events.  Her advice was to tack on an extra 15 minutes to the amount of time I’ve delegated.  So far so good.  Thanks Mr. Timer!

How about you?  What’s in your Time-Saving Toolbelt?  Do you have some tips or advice to share?  We could all use a little help to find more time and stop running around in circles!

Have a Wonderful and Efficient Week!

P.S.  As I mentioned above, I have just released my first newsletter with an exclusive Weekly Goal Setter form, relevations about my art and business, as well as upcoming shows and events.  I’d love for you to sign up and become one of my Art At Dawn subscribers.  I promise you a ray of sunshine in your inbox each month or your money back  or feel free to unsubscribe!




Opening My Good Stuff Jar

Open Jar With Good Stuff

A year’s worth of good stuff!

March 1 marked a year since I had created my Good Stuff Jar, an idea I borrowed from an artist who spoke about it on a Right-Brain Business Plan podcast.

What’s a Good Stuff Jar?

It’s a jar that I have tucked away on a high shelf in my studio and every so often, when I’m feeling a tinge of happiness from an accomplishment, both big and small- I write it down on a colored strip of paper and add it to my Good Stuff Jar.


Because I need to squelch the voices in my head.

Before you call me crazy, hear me out.  Those voices are my own that tell me I’m not talented, have no business sense, and am not going to make it as an artist.  I hate those voices!

So a year ago I began to collect all the good things that have happened to me and put them in a jar.  It’s a way to combat those voices and prove to myself that I can make it, I am making it.  It is still happening, I am still here!

Little Slips of Goodness

Little Slips of Goodness in my life from this past year.

A few days ago I opened that jar and was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  Some of the accomplishments were small and seemingly insignificant.  But I remember feeling proud of each and everything that I wrote.

These good things fell into several categories:

Juried Art Show

Getting my work accepted in a juried art show was such a happy day for me!

1. Paintings

I felt a sense of exhilaration every single time I completed a painting.  (Still do!)  Art exhibits were another worthy item to be included in my jar.  A recent juried art show was the feather in my cap which I hope to repeat!

OBG and Sales Tax

Navigating the Ohio sales tax maze wasn’t easy but I felt so proud when I pulled it off!

2. Business

I have found that bookkeeping, setting up Quickbooks, and paying sales tax have been quite challenging for me.  Sometimes it feels as if my brain is actually hurting while I’m at it!  But after I’ve entered all my receipts, created my invoices, and balanced my books, I feel such a wonderful sense of accomplishment!

Setting up my domain and email

Setting up my domain name and email made me very proud!

4. Learning New Skills

Then there are skills that I need to learn but have no earthly idea how to do them.  Often I’ll procrastinate until forced to figure it out through necessity.  But do you know what I’ve found?  Usually these hurdles (like creating a basic website, setting up a domain name, creating a Facebook page, etc.) aren’t half as hard as I expected!

Afterwards, I feel as if I want to shout it from the rooftops that I’ve conquered them.  But who wants to hear, “Hey everyone, I’ve set up a domain name!”?  Nobody cares as much as I do.  So I’ll write it on a little slip and proudly tuck it away in my jar to celebrate my tiny milestone.

Running a 1/2 Marathon

Running a 1/2 Marathon, a 1st for me!

5. Running

This has nothing to do with my art business but I’ve included it anyway because it was such a major goal for me to run a 1/2 marathon.  And I did it!  (and I’m actually doing it again in a few months- how crazy is that!)

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not just trying to toot my own horn here.   I’m also documenting how much these little slips of paper have meant to me.  As that jar has slowly filled, so has my own resolve.  Yes, those voices still come back and still sting- but I’ve got a weapon against them.  That’s more then I could say a year ago!

How do you celebrate the small (and large) milestones in your life?  If you don’t, perhaps you could start by marking it on your calendar, keeping a journal, or even creating a Good Stuff Jar like mine.  I’d love to hear your ideas and how you implement them.

Have a wonderful, prosperous week!

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