Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Experience with the 100 Day Challenge



In April, I decided to sign up for this program called the 100 day challenge.  At the time I was exhausted and getting burned out, I was frustrated with lack of results....and yes I do tend to be impatient...and yes I am a bit of an overachiever.  I always have this desire to grow, to change, to get better results and to become a better version of myself. Part of my exhaustion was due to overworking, teaching too much and doing some teaching that was really not a good fit for me at a local University for two semesters.  So as I was doing my usual digging on the internet for new ideas for marketing my art and getting more sales I wound up stumbling on someone's blog....don't remember whose know (you know how that goes) and she gave a long list of resources some of which I had read and just weren't for me and at the end she mentioned this program called the 100 Day Challenge.  I went and checked this out and listened to some interviews by the creator on YouTube. Again, I felt this instinct saying you gotta try this.  The Challenge started before tax time and before my 2nd semester was over! Not the right time I thought - excuses, excuses. Looked it up and a third objection - it cost $200....a 4th objection - this is just Tony Robbins motivational stuff.... Fear, Panic, what will people think of me bullshit. So, I signed up. I thought, What's the worst that can happen? I lose $200. What's the best that can happen? I learn some powerful lessons that actually change the course of things. BINGO. SIGN ME UP.

I signed up and kept it secret for quite a while afraid of judgements against it.  Anyways, I can happily report that it was an incredible experience - not easy, but incredible. Therefore, I STRONGLY recommend the program to anyone who wants to see some changes in their life, in any area. This is not just for artists or entrepreneurs, it's for everyone. It's not just to make money or lose weight, it can be for developing mindfulness or spending more time with your family. Doesn't matter. The program is general and designed to walk you through any goal and keep you motivated while working on it. You are the one that makes it happen though, by taking action and following through.

Disclosure: If you have weird beliefs about making money or are too much of an idealist to think that you should be a starving artist.....READ NO FURTHER. 

My goal happened to be a painting sales goal. They encouraged you to set a big goal, to be clear on what you wanted. I already knew what my ultimate goal was for a yearly salary...but it always seems so far off in the future and I always felt like, "Hey what control do I have over whether or not people want to buy my paintings?". I thought gosh I have my work in galleries across the country and I'm doing everything I know how to do otherwise to make an income. Other thoughts included, "Geez, I hate marketing stuff. I don't want to be a sleezeball salesman. It should be about the art. People will judge me for being superficial and caring about money....yaddy yaddy yaddy."  Truth was I knew there had to be some other ideas, other options and I already knew I was putting off a lot of things that would improve my circumstances. Although I was at a point of burn-out, I felt there was no better time than this when I'm sick of what I'm currently doing and need to re-focus.

So I set a big goal. It was 1/4 of what my eventual hopeful income will be...which just happened to be more painting sales income than I made all of last year! I thought wow, this will be damn near impossible. But I started the program with such excitement anyway, not with doubts, determined to give it everything I had. The daily videos the challenge sent kept me focused on how to reach them and on days that I was sinking back into comfort zone or wanting to give up the program kept the flame lit until I could see some more results. By 1/2 way through the 100 days I had made more than 60% of my goal! I was so elated....then the next 2 weeks I saw very little results ....and started to think this was all I was going to be able to do. I started to get tired of trying. So there were a few days that I put out very little effort and felt bummed. I realized I didn't want to end like that, I would rather not reach the goal doing everything I could than to not reach it and wonder what if I had really given it my best shot.  By the end, I am happy to report that I reached 95% of my goal!!!!!!!  The goal was not simply about the money, it was about doing what I needed to do....not blaming others and feeling powerless for what income wasn't coming in.  I took back responsibility and in turn felt more powerful and in control (not in control of the outcome mind you, but of my own actions and mind).

Here are the most practical applications I learned my the challenge:

1. Get clear on my goals. Understand WHY I want to achieve them. What will that success look and feel like?
2. Brainstorm ways that I can reach these goals. Just take a piece of paper and start righting down ANY idea that comes to mind...don't judge it or say that's a stupid idea.
3. Set daily, weekly, even hourly ways to reach your goal and keep track of which goals you met.  The biggest thing that helped me once I had a list of brainstorm ideas and actions was to plan out my day in 30 MINUTE SEGMENTS. Yep, 30 minutes. This was a life changer for me.
4. PRIORITIZE. Sometimes I have so many little things I have to do that I'll do those all day and have no energy for the very important stuff. What is going to move you closest to your goal the fastest? Take action on these first!  You can't get around some daily to do's. Do them last, do them first...I don't care...just do them fast and only the ones that HAVE to be done. Are there things you can hire out? Automate? Just not do?
5. FOCUS AND FOLLOW THROUGH. Things I had been putting off because I just dreaded doing it!! a.k.a computer crap....or spending money on advertising,etc. OUCH. Now, I realize just how little time they actually took once I took action and how painless it was. BIG RESULTS on both of these. Also, there is no bigger self esteem booster (in my opinion) than doing things that you have been procrastinating for 2 years. Yep, that's right. You heard me. 2 years. Sigh.
6. RECOGNIZE YOUR HUMAN-NESS.  You're gonna have days that you want to give up and quit. It's okay. Go back to your WHY's on your goals. Think about how you're gonna feel having reached them.....and take a day off!  The program actually reminds you constantly on how important self-care is , that you are well rested, well fed, spending time in nature and with loved ones. You actually perform better and new ideas come to you when you do this. But when you rest- rest - don't be anxious that you don't have your nose to the grindstone. Be in the moment.
7. DO SCARY AND NEW THINGS.  Execute the ideas that scare you the most and the ideas that you've never tried. Be open to new ways of reaching your goal.  We tend follow what's been modelled for us....I mean you only know what you know how to do, right? Wrong. Open up to other ways...look for other options.  One thing that happened to me was I started getting requests for commissions just out of nowhere. I've rarely done commissions before, but I was open and said YES. The commissions brought in 30% of my sales goal.

I don't get anything from the 100 Day Challenge for sharing this information with you, but I am so happy with my experience I want to share it in case anyone else needs it right now. I believe  the next section starts in September. Check it out here: www.100daychallenge.com

Here are some other resources worth checking out:

Maria Brophy: Art, Money and Success Book
http://mariabrophy.com/book

Book by Jeff Goins: Real Artists Don't Starve
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3NGAQ8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

If you need a website, highly recommend www.faso.com Fine Art Studio Online.

My newest works here and I hope that you enjoy them:







Saturday, June 17, 2017

You're So Creative.







 
 
Has anyone ever said to you, "You're so creative."? If you're like me sometimes you feel a little doubt when you hear that. A little insecurity perhaps. If you're like me you are in awe of other artists creativity but perhaps think you are lacking in some way. Logic says if you create, you are creative. So what is the literal definition of create? The dictionary defines create as to bring something into existence. Hey, I do that all the time, every day. So I must be creative! That makes me feel pretty good and gives me the energy to want to create more. This is just a reminder for myself and anyone else that needs to hear this. Pay attention to these little doubts, to the over glorification of anothers creativity, to your beliefs. If you are making something you are CREATIVE PERIOD.

I wish you all much success, joy and love in your creative process.


Above are some of my new paintings I have done over the last 2 weeks. I hope that they brighten your day and inspire you either to enjoy the beauty around you or to create your own. All are available for purchase.

Also, I am still cleaning out my studio and have marked down some older gallery works to $475! You can check those out on the sidebar link to my Daily Paintworks Gallery.
 
Thank you guys so much for your continued support. Every time you pin, share or comment helps me out. It's not just sales that helps an artist these days. I encourage you to visit my new website and share away and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter that goes out every two weeks!

Friday, June 9, 2017

You Can't Go Wrong

In my experience every time I have invested in myself it has never gone wrong. I have never regretted it or felt like it wasn't worth the time or the money.  Some of us are more inclined to invest time and some might find it easier to invest money. Maybe you love going to workshops or conventions, but you have trouble putting in the time painting or creating privately. Maybe you have no problem putting in tons of time creating, but you struggle letting go of money to get more education. Maybe you are introverted and it's just plain uncomfortable attending a show, workshop or promoting yourself. Let's face it sometimes you just don't want to make a change that you know you need to make. 

I think you have to do all of these things in order to be at your best and to get the rewards you deserve for your hard work:

1. Daily solitary creating time.
2. Increasing your skills by investing in education.
3. Share your work with others (promotion-icky-lol).

You have to be self-aware. Recognize where your strengths are in these categories and where you are the weakest.  Maybe you're the Instagram king but don't invest in taking classes or workshops. Maybe you paint all day every day, but don't have a gallery or can't afford art ads in the magazines. Whatever your situation you have to figure out what it is you want out of art and take chances by doing the stuff that you are uncomfortable with that will help you reach your goals. So figure out which one really is weak for you and start putting time and/or money towards it. In my experience, the reward from that will feel so great and it will return profits and growth.

Personally, I have struggled with letting go of money to invest in promotion, workshops and attending events. There is alot you can do for free with social media now a days, but at some point you'll find you just have to push a little harder especially if no one else is doing it for you.  I have a lot of fear for being broke especially when I already spent $100,000 on art school. I also struggle with doing tasks that I just don't find interesting or they take a lot of time to change- like anything administrative or computer related. So those are my weak spots. My strengths are making the work, investing in education and free self promotion online.

One thing recently that I changed was getting a new website, which I put off doing for a year! Finally, 1 month ago I decided that was unacceptable and I would make a move.  After making a list of what I needed and what I didn't want I decided to sign on with Fine Art Studio Online.  And I gotta say that I am so in love with their service and product that I am highly recommending it. I wished I had done it a year ago.  It has been incredibly easy to use, update and they transferred my original domain name and website very quickly and easily.  I also can't say enough about their tech support! Computer stuff really annoys me sometimes, so I love that if I can't figure something out or find something that they are there to help...and help HAPPILY they do. None of them are jerks about it and they respond super fast.

So if you are in the market for a new site please check them out:
 
So please check out my latest and greatest on my  new website at: www.kellifolsom.com
 
While your there please sign up for my newsletter and blog there!





Monday, February 27, 2017

Q & A Monday: How to Become a Professional Artist

I have been getting several emails from people asking me various forms of this question: How do you become a professional artist (aka make a living as an artist)?


I don't have all the answers on this question, I have been a "professional" artist for only 5 years now. All I can do is share how I did it.  Compared to some people my journey has been more difficult (those who had spousal or independent financial support) and for some more easy (those who have no resources to pursue it full time). Everyone's situation is different obviously.

This first thing I would say is you have to consider, why do you want to become an artist? Is your desire strong enough? What obstacles stand in your way? How quickly do you want to achieve this? What resources do you have? What are you willing to sacrifice and how much suffering can you endure?

Here is my story:

#1 - Strong Enough Desire

When I was 27 I made the decision that I would go to art school.  I won't go into all of the details, but basically 10 years after high school I was sick of feeling meaningless, working jobs that I hated and  in an unsatisfying marriage. At the crossroads my Mother posed a question to me that changed my life. She asked, "Kelli, if you could do anything, all things being possible, what would you do?".  The answer had been inside of me for so long, but I had no clue that it was a real possibility. I responded in tears, somewhat dumbfounded by my own words, "I would be an artist."   This felt like the only real TRUTH for me.  I had contemplated other careers, other paths, but the falsity of them kept me from pursuing them. Just to name a few that I considered in my search for becoming a mature intelligent adult (lol) : social worker, architect, interior designer, fashion designer, graphic designer, cosmetic business (yuck). Jobs I actually had over those 10 years: cleaning hotel rooms, gas station attendant, telemarketer, sales, JC Penney, waiting tables at Denny's....you get the picture.

So, I would say that my desire was strong enough that I was willing to sacrifice what I had to in order to achieve it.  This is really important because it can be a tough road especially if you are "flying without a net".  Here's the thing, the desire precedes the confidence.

#2 - Find Out What Kind of Art You Want to Create & Put Your Plan Into Action

So here's how I did it. I still rambled around the country travelling for my then husband's work for another year. I started taking art classes wherever I could on his dime. I knew nothing about being an artist and I quickly realized how bad I was compared to others, but it made me feel better doing it. I loved learning about it and I had hope I could get better.  I finally got enough drawings together to submit to an art school. I had discovered by that point that I wanted to do representational art and that I loved studying figure drawing and anything done from life. For years I had copied photographs and when I started drawing and painting from life I realized this was much more interesting to me. So I picked a school as best as I could based on that.

#3 - Obstacles, Resources, Timeline

I started art school in the Fall of 2007 and all this time I thought at least I had my ex-husbands stable income as a safety net. However, it only took 2 months for me to realize I had to end that relationship if I was ever going to have the life I really wanted. So now, I was broke and attending a $20,000+ a year art school. Everyone was worried for me (rightfully so).  I knew it was right and somehow I'd figure it out.  The other thing I realized is that if I was going to get any better I would have to study full-time for 4 years without working a job. Luckily, I had about $10,000 (not much) in the bank from my split with my ex from a house we had flipped.  I would have to make this stretch as far as possible.  I rented a room for $250 a month from a single mother in town. I sold my car and my parents bought me a used Honda which I would drive back from OK to CT the following summer and they sent me the $250 every month to pay my rent. (Thanks Mom & Dad!)  I had no other bills or utilities besides food, art supplies and museum visits.  I was able to get some funding from the state for school as well as an increased scholarship, but I still ended up having to take out student loans close to $100,000  in order to finish. (Trust me, not the best decision!).  I didn't really know what was possible, all I knew was that I was willing to give it my ALL or I would regret it. On the one hand nothing felt more right and on the other hand I felt like my life was completely out of control.I was faced with all of my psychological baggage from childhood, ending the marriage and every insecurity I had was magnified it seemed 10 x's because of fear. I went to see the school therapist once a week (which was free thanks to my recommendation to the school that they hire one)  to find my way and eventually realized how capable and strong I was.

I lived with that budget for 5 years. It was not pleasant. Technically, I was considered at poverty level income wise. I did not have my own bathroom for 4 years. I didn't have my own studio. I did not have health insurance (until the affordable care act). In the meantime, I had found two loves. One in painting and one in my now boyfriend who I met at art school. He always pushed me and believed in me, although he was in the same boat as me and could not support me financially. He constantly encouraged me to NEVER GET A FULL TIME JOB! He had experienced for years how hard it was to have a full time job and try to get good at making art.

By year 3 in art school, I felt that my work was good enough to show in the Christmas student art show sale. This was tough, because my work would get rejected a lot from the juried student shows and I was getting a lot of kickback for being too traditional and antiquated. The Christmas show was not juried. It was student run and I volunteered to hang and man the show as much as I could. I framed up as many paintings as I could and priced them cheap! My 8"x10"s were $150 back then. My optimism outweighed my fear of rejection.   So, those were my first sales. I think I made about $1,000 and I was giddy! Meanwhile students were murmuring that I was a sell out, just painting pretty landscapes and still lifes that people wanted to buy.   Well, I had no desire to paint masturbating robots, so I knew I was painting what I wanted to paint not what other people wanted me to paint.

Resources:

In my 4th year, I began entering lots of local art association shows. Being in Connecticut there was a plethora of art groups and art shows up and down the coast. So, I would say you have to consider what kind of selling opportunities are available to you. If they are not available locally, you may have to rely on selling online to get you started.  You can use Etsy, Ebay, Instagram, Facebook or Daily Paintworks.  I'm sure there are people out there who will tell you don't do that.  It will hurt your long term career.  You have to decide what is best for you.  I think its kind of funny when people act like these choices are so set in stone and they will permanently damage your "career". You can always change course.

So my 4th & 5th year in Connecticut, I sold and showed paintings in local art shows keeping my prices cheap and still living cheap. I painted every day, I dedicated myself to getting better.
One formula I think you must have to succeed in this is :  
Persistence + Patience + Faith + Daily Action + Role Models 

After I graduated in 2011, I contemplated getting a part time job at a local art museum. They called me to say that I had the job in which my gut response was, "I'm sorry. I have changed my mind."  The thought of doing that didn't even seem right to me. Luckily, I started getting some teaching positions at these art associations. Some would approach me after seeing my work in the shows and a lot of them I would approach.  In doing this I was just modelling other artists I had met along the way as a way of making ends meet.  Until last year (my 8th year painting),  teaching was about 50% of my income at least.

After 5 years in Connecticut, I was homesick and I was still unable to afford an apartment to rent there. I didn't want to live out of someone else's bedroom anymore so I decided to move back to Oklahoma.  This posed a new set of problems and I would have to rebuild what I started in Connecticut. Oklahoma did not have near the art resources of New England.  So, I started applying for both national and regional shows like Oil Painters of America and American Women Artists.  I also started submitting my work to galleries nationwide and getting into a few (if you want some help on submitting to galleries go to www.openstudioonline.com and I show you how to do it). I had to double my prices since the galleries took 50% commission.  At least, I could afford to rent a 1 bedroom apartment of my own in Oklahoma and it felt good to be back home again.

The financial stress of starting over in Oklahoma was overwhelming for a few months. I had pre-arranged 1 art demo two days after I arrived and 2 art classes to start as soon as I got here, one of which did not take because of low enrollment.  I sought out every art organization in the area and went to meet them to try to arrange classes. I did free demos, I did demos for groups of 4 people. You must be willing to start small without letting it demoralize you.  It wasn't long and I had several repeat students taking lessons and some have been students and patrons ever since.  These people have helped make it possible for me to continue. I went into the local gallery, The Howell Gallery, that I wanted to be in and asked them to represent my work. I had sent them 2 gallery submissions which were never responded to, but when I approached them in person they said yes.  They are still one of my strongest sellers and just all around good people to work with. 
Be sure to not take silence as rejection, keep trying and follow up. 

Since then I have been in and out of galleries over the last 5 years.  I have been accepted and rejected in numerous shows. I have had lots of paintings sell and many that have gone in the trash or given as gifts to family members. I still pay $750 a month for my education. I still drive a used car with no payments. I still don't have a "studio". I work out of a spare bedroom in my home that I share with my boyfriend.  I still have doubts. I still have to hustle.  I still fall prey to comparison and self pity.  I still paint full time.  I still love teaching. I am still trying to get better.  I still see no other option for me besides painting.  I'm still not to six figures or featured as the star of the show in magazines or galleries, but every year my sales and teaching income have increased by 10-20%.   Most importantly, I believe in the non-monetary rewards of doing this work every day. Starting out in a recession in 2008, I count myself very fortunate to be able to make a living as an artist. Competition is stiff.  It seems like more and more I hear people want to become artists. Every day I discover a new artist. I can feel like a needle in a haystack. I keep painting knowing that there may even be a day when I cannot do this, so I love every minute I get and I accept what good fortune comes my way. 
 
New Available Paintings:
 
 
Copper and Pear
8"x10"
oil on panel
$800

 
Yellow Rose Rhapsody
24"x12"
oil on linen
$2600

 
After the Dance
24"x24"
oil on linen
$4000
 

P.S.  I strongly recommend knowing your personality type as well as you can. It can help you to see what obstacles you will be good at handling and what self-sabotage may come your way. We are all different. Becoming a professional artist has it's own challenges that you may decide you don't want to deal with. If it sucks the joy out of painting for you, I would suggest that you keep doing it as a hobby and find other ways of making a living.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Q & A Monday



Hi Everyone,

First of all I did not announce the winner of the Mini + Calendar Giveaway on January 1st!!! 
So I apologize for that, but I was doing lots of paintings in my studio so I hope you will forgive me.

The winner for January's Miniature Painting and Calendar Giveaway is: Shelley Koopman! Congratulations Shelley and thank you so much for following my work and blog since 2015. I wish you much success this year and Happy Painting. Here is your prize:

2.5"x3.5" mini oil painting "Pomegranate and Grapes"


So much has happened in the last month in my studio that I could write about, but today is Q & A Monday.  I have been getting lots of questions via Instagram, Facebook and Email so I thought I would start answering them in this blog in case others have the same questions.  Feel free to email me your questions and one Monday a month I will post my answers here. 


Q: Karen from Kansas writes: Do you use regular oil paints? I'm wondering what kind of varnish you use to get your wonderful finish?

A: Yes I use regular oil paints!

A:The varnish I use is made by Gamblin called  GamVar.  I use a cheap throw away chip brush to varnish with. Usually it takes two coats. The varnish is typically shinier on a panel vs. linen.  I encourage you to watch Gamblin's demonstration on varnishing here: https://www.gamblincolors.com/tips-and-techniques/video-demonstrations/

Q: Eric from North Carolina writes:
When you are working on one of ur gallery paintings (not demo or study), do you work it over a few days? Or do you finish it all in one session?

A:  Every painting seems to have it's own timeline and can depend on many factors: size, difficulty of subject  or my lack of clarity in concept. In general, most of my gallery paintings take 2-3 sessions to complete. I usually have 2 paintings going at once so that I can alternate between the two. Once I run out of steam on one I can have a fresh start on another.  It happens every once in a while that I can just see how to paint that subject that day, clarity of concept - that "in the zone" feeling and I can finish a larger piece in 1 day whereas other days it might take me 2 days to solve the problems of a 9"x12".

A painting that I finished 1 day alla prima where I had clarity of concept, time to complete 8 hours:
                                          "Rhapsody in Pink", 24" x 12", oil on linen, Sold

 
A smaller painting that took 2 days to complete. I like to go with the flow, so if I can tell that something is just instinctively coming together I will finish it alla prima like above and others I can tell that I am searching in the painting trying to see what I can get from more layers and time observing and adjusting.
 
"Pewter and Peaches", 14"x11", oil on panel, $1500



Q: Cheri from California writes: What colors do you usually use and where do you find the shorter backdrops?

A:  There are all sorts of ways to make a "shadow box".  I use a simple trifold project board in black since I typically do darker backgrounds.  You can cut this to any height that you want with a box knife.  If I don't want a black background I can drape different colors of fabrics over the back. Other ideas might be wallpaper samples taped to the back, or buying colored matboards and scoring them to make them trifold. Sometimes I pin up a drape on the back wall and just use part of the light blocker to cast a shadow onto the still life. If you have a tall still life, you want a tall blocker uncut or if you have a wide still life you can put two or three together to make a wider one.  One side of the light blocker is to cast a shadow onto a portion of the composition while the other side is used to control too much reflected light from washing out your shadows.

 
 
 
Thanks everyone for your support and following my work. Hope this helps!
-Kelli
 
P.S.  I am so delighted that I will be teaching a Painting Workshop at the fabulous Genius Loci Country Inn in Umbria, Italy this August! Please let me know if you are interested and want more information. http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=684ab4c4370e14f9e9dbd17b1&id=05c65e6903

JULY 29TH - AUGUST 5TH
SPACE IS VERY LIMITED!
CONTACT ME TO SIGN UP FOR THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME.