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Posted by on in Musings about Art and Life

 

Vail 2015 1

 

I am spending this week in Vail Colorado at the Full Circle Mastermind Summit. The purpose of this Summit is to spend time working on business planning and building. We work on our own respective businesses and come together as a group to brainstorm ideas and problem solve with group discussions. It is always a great week for me. It allows me to think bigger, get some different perspectives and reminds me to focus on what is the most meaningful. 

It is also a time for me to remind myself of (or fine-tune) my business values, my mission and my vision. 

So often we forget to take time to work on the things that are important to us. We forget to pause and look at the big picture because it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the details of the day to day. We forget to make sure our life has a balance that makes us happy. We can spend so much time on our art or our business that we neglect family or vice versa.

OR: spend so much energy on everyone else that we neglect ourselves and our dreams! 

This week my planning will be focused on my new adventure! The Thread Lab: a WonderFil Threaducation Center. More details on this very soon.  In the meantime you can join The Thread Lab Facebook Group.

Take a few minutes or a few hours this upcoming week and join me in spending some time thinking about your big vision, your dreams and your big picture. I would love to hear what they are. 

 

 

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This week I embarked on a new allergy therapy that is able to help with food allergies. It is the only treatment that is available for those of us allergic to foods as well as all the plant pollen, dust and animals in our lives. Of course it isn’t covered by insurance but that is a different blog post entirely.

What does it have to do with art you ask? Well, actually more than one would think. It is about pushing the edge always and seeking excellence from yourself and the world around you.  

I do very well managing my food allergies when I am at home. I rarely go out to eat and I am obsessive about making sure I have safe food with me all the time. However, I travel quite a bit and that is where everything gets bad. No matter how careful restaurants are with my food I end up getting sick. The main culprit is oils. Most restaurants, unless we are talking 4 Star and up, don’t realize that the oil that is labeled ‘olive’ oil is cut with other oils. In fact it usually says 100% olive oil on the label. If you want to read more about it google ‘olive oil scam’ or go here. Then there are those restaurants that proudly proclaim we use vegetable oil. I generally want to slam my head on the table at that point.

Anyway, in addition to numerous foods, I am allergic to all oils except pure olive, grapeseed, peanut and avocado. So, every time I travel I come home sick. I actually lose 4-8 days after every trip just getting back to ‘normal’. I could quit traveling all together but my travel is usually to teach. Teaching is what I was born to do. So, I am always pushing the edge, questioning the status quo, by researching, reading forums and seeking alternative medical treatments. That is what led me to a unique allergy treatment that works for food allergies, LDA.

It is scary to go off all of my current antihistamine meds that have been keeping me finely balanced on the edge of ‘ok’ but nowhere near excellent health. It is stressful to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for an alternative treatment that isn’t covered by insurance. One that other doctors dismiss out of hand. But, I am an artist and that means fear and excellence part of my daily routine. 

cliff wall oregon

To be an artist is to face scary every day that we go to the studio to push the edge. If we aren’t pushing the edge we are just making the same old thing. We get stale, boring and are bored. We aren’t reaching for our own personal level of excellence.

These are the questions I ask myself with every piece of artwork:

  • How can I make this better?
  • How can I make this more me?
  • How can I drive this forward to excellent?

Actually, I ask those questions of everything I do…

Except for housework…usually I ask myself “how little can I do”?

What questions keep you driving forward?

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I have been thinking about writing this post for a while but I was worried I would sound whiny. However, the questions need to be asked. Please know that I really want to know what you think.

I am a teacher and an artist. I am equal parts teacher and artist. I love both aspects of my career but my teacher keeps feeling like a failure.  I am not whining about a lack of students. I am already moving in new directions because of this sad trend. I do however, want to understand how you think.

Being a teacher in the mixed-media art/craft industry is not a piece of cake. Developing classes, experimenting with materials, writing articles and tutorials is exciting work for me and incredibly time consuming not to mention expensive. I often work for months to research, design and craft what I think is a great class. I unveil the class, put it up at a store or a retreat and while many say...oh that is so cool. Very few students sign up. 

When enough people don't sign up for a class it has to be canceled. The people who did sign up are disappointed but two people can't support the effort of the teacher and a class with only two students lacks the dynamic energy that makes classes so much fun and deepen the learning experience. The store loses out as well. Those of you who have lost all of your local quilt shops or art stores know that lack of class attendance was part of their death knell. 

When classes at retreats are canceled it can really wreak havoc with the event schedule and for students who have made travel arrangements which can't be refunded. A teacher at a retreat also has expenses and if she doesn't have enough students to cover her expenses and provide some income she simply can't travel to teach. At some events in the last year students have waited until the last minute to sign up for workshops and then get upset when they find the workshop was cancelled due to low enrollment. We feel like we can't win. 

We teachers, store owners and event organizers talk about the 'why' all the time: not enough advertising? bad economy? boring classes? too much free stuff on YouTube? Do the classes look too hard? Do the classes look too easy?

The other think we teachers discuss is how do we create an income if students aren't taking classes? Many are looking at leaving the industry. The number of retreat swelled in numbers for a while which hurt attendance but now there are fewer retreats and still fewer students. These retreats can't stay in business if they don't have students. 

What are we doing wrong?

Maybe we aren't doing anything wrong. Maybe you simply don't want classes anymore. Maybe you simply don't make the time for fun anymore? Maybe you are satisfied with what is available for free on-line. Maybe you are bored with me/us?

So, I am asking you.

Why do you take classes?

Why don't you take classes?

Why don't you attend retreats?

Why do you attend retreats?

Do you get enough information on-line? 

Do you prefer on-line classes to real life classes?

Do you think classes are too expensive?

 

 

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Posted by on in Musings about Art and Life

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

studio 1

I have spent part of the day reflecting on the last year and part of it running around after my grandsons! A great way to end the year if you ask me. One thing I did this year that was scary big was to face down my stash. It was crazy huge, it was everywhere, refusing to be contained to it's allotted shelf space and it was bogging me down!

I have been quilting seriously since about 1988. That is 26 years of stash building! I had kids flannels and prints, civil war reproduction, William Morris, Kaffe Fasset, florals, plaids and striped fabrics. There was also the healthy collection of Aboriginal, African, Japanese and Indonesian fabrics (new and vintage) that I had so carefully been curating. 

Every year I set aside a day to go through my stash, get rid of stuff I won't use anymore and spend time re-organizing and folding it all. I find it satisfying to create order of the mess and it makes me happy to pet all my fabrics and think about new projects and possibilities. However, when I got ready to do that earlier this year I got this heavy sense of dread in the pit of my belly! I needed to do it because it was a mess, falling off the shelves and couldn't find anything but I found myself dreading the entire process this year. 

I had a sit down with myself, a cup of tea and some cookies. Cookies always help when confronting any realities that I am avoiding. I am no longer a real quilter! I still love most of those fabrics but with the possible exception of some baby quilts for future grandchildren I had no desire to stitch bed quilts anymore...and even quilts for grandchildren is questionable! Wow! I was going to need a lot more cookies.

I allowed myself a short period of mourning the passing of this stage of my stitch journey and then got to work. I grabbed some bins and bags and stripped the shelves of all the commercial printed fabrics. I kept out about a dozen pieces of vintage ethnic fabrics but everything else went in the bins. A few times I was tempted to keep a delicious specimen in my favorite shade of chartreuse but after fondling them a few minutes I put them in the bins with a sigh and another cookie.

I called my good friend Cat to come by and pick up the piles of fabric goodness. I knew that she would put it all to good use making charity quilts and things for her guild annual auction. Suddenly I felt as if a huge weight was lifted.  I had empty shelves! Well, at least they were empty for a few hours.:-) I quickly filled them up with all the stuff that was on the floor and needed a home. 

It was hard to release all those years of collected possibilities and quilt dreams but giving up all those future quilts meant that I was free to make more art, open to new directions in my work and I could see even more possibility than before. 

Now, I am not saying you should chuck out all your carefully curated fabric collections but you may want to set aside an afternoon to weed out that which no longer suits you. What is weighing you down? What is preventing you from stretching your creative muscles? Get rid of the fabrics, beliefs and assumptions that may be holding you back and getting in the way of seeing the wide vista of possiblities that 2015 will bring.

 

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Posted by on in Musings about Art and Life

I am in Vail CO this week on a business retreat with my mastermind group. I know....tough place to have to work! :-) I spent much of the day working on the deck with a beautiful wild flower tangled hillside as my view. We also have a stream out the front door. This week we will map out new programs, brainstorm ways we can better serve our students and clients, fine tune our goals and spend some time thinking about how we can change the world.

vail business full circle 1 of 2

business planning tools for artists!

 

We are a group of 5 entrepreneurs who share an passion for the art and business. Our businesses are all different but they are held together by the thread of art. We are great friends who support each other 100% and we also hold each other accountable to keep moving forward toward our unique visions.

We meet once a month for a mastermind circle where we brainstorm solutions to problems, set goals, explore 'what ifs' and share updates on progress on our big goals. I have to add that we laugh a lot and are frequently totally silly.

So often people forget that art is a business as well as a passion and calling. If you neglect the business side of art it will be very difficult to see your vision become a reality. I know! I did that for years and I even have a business degree!

Fortunately, I had a friend who invited me to a business networking event a little over 3 years ago. I really didn't want to attend because I tend to be an introvert and thought I hated that sort of thing. But, my friend bought me a ticket for the monthly luncheon so I went out of loyalty and maybe a bit of curiosity. This event was held by eWoman Network in Colorado Springs; a chapter of the international networking organization that is focused on the way women do business. I never looked at my business the same way again.

Not long after I joined the organization I attended their annual conference in Dallas TX. We just got back from our third conference earlier this month and you may have seen my Facebook posts about it. The conference changed the way I looked at woman entrepreneurs and opened my eyes to bigger dreams and possibilities. I highly recommend looking for a chapter near you.

I hope I don't sound like a commercial for eWoman Network but I really love being part of this inspiring and energizing organization. :-)

This week I will be working on some new programs I will be launching next year that are aimed at bringing creativity and innovation into business culture for small to mid-sized companies. I will also be working on my Threads On-Line class. I hope to have the first of the three part series up by the end of September. The technological learning curve slowed us down from our intended start date last spring. Stay tuned for updates on when it goes live. If you have taken my Threads class live you will have instant access to the on-line version!

Some time will be spent looking through all my class lists to decide what other classes I want to add to to my new on-line classroom. Let me know if there is one that you have wanted to take but just can't get to where I am teaching. I will put it on the list. It takes a lot of planning and time to shoot videos for these on-line classes so I won't be traveling quite so much next year.

I won't bore you with all the rest of my to do list for this week! I will post some photos on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr of the stream and the flowers!

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Don't worry that it will be all work and no fun. I will be doing my stitch meditation by the stream tomorrow and today, we took time out this evening to relax with a few heated rounds of Rummikub. After all the number crunching that went on today, it was too much thinking to bother to keep score during the game but I am sure that I won!

 

 

 

 

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