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Posts from the ‘Studio Organization’ 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!

That Post- Studio Open House Glow + video

Studio Gallery Wall

My wall o’ paintings and prints

I’ve done it again!  Last Monday I had my 2nd annual Art At Dawn Studio Open House and I’m pleased to say that it was a success!

What made it a success?  The incredible kindness and support from all those who came.  It was wonderful to share my studio and new projects.  I also received valuable feedback and ideas by discussing my projects.

What a glorious afternoon and evening it was!  If you see a glow about me, it is because I’m still reveling in the comradery of friends and neighbors who came out to support me and my business.

Thank you all who were able to be there.  For those who couldn’t, I have a little treat for you.  Here are some pictures taken during the event and a video I created between the 2 sessions.

Sign In and Sign Up

My sign in area which included the chance to win a door prize and goodie bags.










Demo Area

A painting-in-progress along with materials used, drawings, and reference photos








Wendy receives her painting from me

My friend, Wendy, attended the afternoon session of my open house and received the painting she had won from a contest on my Facebook Page











Have a Glorious Week!

15 Studio Secrets


Ribbon and String Holder

#13 A piece of cardboard with a notch on the end is a great way to coral your bits of ribbon or string. (Also good for headphones and electrical chords!)

I thought I’d share some “secrets” I’ve discovered over the years that have streamlined my art-making and made creating just a wee bit easier.  If any of them resonate with you then I’ve done my job!

1.  Studio furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. Check Goodwill, Craigslist, Ebay, etc.  I recently purchased 3 tables for my studio off of Craigslist for $25 each!

2. Bed risers are a great way to add more height to a table- esp. if you want to increase your storage underneath!

3. Tired of glue bottles getting gunked up and not working properly? Pour a small amount of glue into a shallow container and use a cheap paintbrush to apply it. The glue goes on a lot more evenly without gloppy bubbles. When you’re done the glue can be poured back and the brush and container washed.

4. Tired of your $4 bottle of white-out drying up again in the junk drawer? White acrylic paint makes excellent white-out. Use thin layers and it will dry pretty quickly

5. To protect your ruler when you need to draw straight lines with markers, attach a piece of masking tape (or better yet, painters tape) along the edge of the ruler. The tape will protect the ruler from the ink and it can be thrown away afterwards.

6. To find the edge of the tape faster for the next time, bend ¼” of the tape inward after using it.

Plastic Bag for trash

#7 A handy way to corral all those scraps as you work

7. Tape a plastic bag to the edge of the table to use as a catch-all for scraps, paper towels, etc. when you begin a project. It will make clean up much easier and keep the clutter at bay.

8. Disposable hot dog containers (found at Sam’s Club or kitchen supply stores) make excellent storage containers for little pieces in a project and helps keep them together if you need to clean up before you’ve completed it. (Also good for Legos!)

9. Don’t throw away old toothbrushes. They are a great way to add pizazz to a painting. Load up the paintbrush with paint, hold 6-8” over painting, and flick your thumb over the bristles to speckle the area.

10.You can mask off certain areas of your painting as you are doing the above by laying scraps of paper over the areas of the painting you wish to remain unspeckled.

11. Another good way to create a good composition while you’re sketching or photographing from life is to cut a 1” square out of an index card. (This doesn’t need to be exact!) Fold the card in half and cut half of a square on the folded edge. When it’s unfolded you can hold it up at arm’s length and get an idea of what you would like to create without the distraction of what’s surrounding it.

Square in paper as Composition Finder

#11- A Square cut into an index card makes an excellent composition aid for photography or sketching.

12. Another good use for index cards or post-it notes is to jot down the colors, sizes, and general directions for yourself as you are working on a project if you need to take a break or stop for the day. This way you won’t waste as much time trying to figure out where you had left off and what you had been doing.

13. To coral loose bits of ribbon or yarn, cut a piece of cardboard (Cereal or snack food boxes work well for this) about the size of a bookmark. Cut a ½” notch in the center of the top edge. Then wind your yarn or ribbon around the cardboard starting at the bottom and working your way to the top and slip the end through the notch to hold it in place. (This works well for headphones or electronic chords, as well!)

14. Old CDs and Plastic Lids make great stencils for circles.

15. Here’s the “MacGyver Way” to make a circle to a specific circumference using a thumbtack, string, and sharp pencil.  Tie one end of the string to the tack and measure the length of string to the diameter of your circle.  Then tie the other end of the string near the tip of your pencil.  Push the tack into the middle of where your circle should be (You may want to put a piece of cardboard underneath the paper to give the tack something to hang onto) and stretch the string out.  Now swoop the pencil all the way around the tack, keeping the tack taut.  Voila, you’ve got a custom made circle!

Creating a Circle

#8- The “Mcgyver Way” to create a circle of set dimensions


And, by the way, these aren’t really “secrets” (if you haven’t guessed by now!)  Some of these were passed down to me by instructors and mentors.  Some of them I figured out on my own.  What are some of your own tricks and tips for your art and/or hobbies?  I’d love to hear them!

I wish you have a Wonderful Week full of Controlled Messes and Streamlined Creativity!


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!




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