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September 2013



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Going off in all directions...

...or maybe just nuts.  I know a lot of you have found yourselves in the same position. 

If you're a freelancer or self-employed, it may be more difficult to make a living these days...things that used to provide income have dried up, or at least become a ghost of their former selves. 

In my case, the publishing industry's been hit hard (by the economy, by the Internet, by all that free information out there--which I contribute to!) 

I used to have a regular column in the Artist's Magazine, Watercolor Magic, and Country Living...but all three have cut their editorial pages, it seems, and have many fewer regular columnists or contributing editors, and do a lot of the work in-house or contracted out, now. 

.  I'm glad I"m one of the people that gets contracted out TO, in the case of the art magazines!

And of course if you're employed by someone else, things aren't always all that secure, either!  Jobs fold, and you try to find ways to take up the slack.  "Multiple streams of income," they call it, when you do a bit here, a bit there...

So, for me, in the beginning there was Live Journal--this blog right here.  I did almost everything in one place...but in those days LJ didn't like any commercial use of their site.  They've changed those rules to be more flexible, and hooray! 

I was in several Yahoo groups and "owned" a few more.  I even taught there till I found out that might be against their difficult-to-interpret rules, so I moved.

I have several Flickr groups, a couple of which require occasional policing-- Painting Plein Air kept getting images there that didn't fit the concept at ALL--my sweet husband Joseph, otherwise known here as kateslover , helps!  The Ink and Watercolor Wash group is HUGE, 900+ members and over 16,000 images, but it practically runs itself (thank goodness!) Lots of wonderful images there.

Some of my groups are closed, some are open, and a couple I'd delete entirely, but you have to remove all the members FIRST...apparently one at a time.  Erk...

I sold on eBay--and still do, as Kate's Treasures--and did pretty well with original art as well as collectibles, books, and antiques; then decided I should have a separate store for fine art...Cathy Johnson Arts.  (That one, at least, has gone by the wayside.  It did well at first, but we got busy and keeping up--and paying for--both stores didn't make much sense.  The more versatile Katestreasures gets the traffic there...)

So, I started my own gallery blog, on Blogspot, Cathy Johnson Fine Art --it did VERY well at first, but like eBay, you need to keep it UP.   New work, fresh offerings!   It still gets an amazing amount of traffic, and I hope to figure out how get back to listing some of the mountain of art I've done over my 35-40 years.  (If you're one of those patient people who keep checking back, I really WILL do this...sooooon...)

I've got a lot of stuff that wouldn't fit there, though--jewelry, pottery greenmen and such--so I opened an Etsy account, then later a second one with a more recognizable name to use as a store...and haven't done a thing with either one! 

It all takes time.  (I plan to close out the original one and keep the store...when I find time in my schedule.)

(Yes, I know...if I didn't have so much going, I might FIND the time.  That's what this post is all about!)

I loved the way Blogger/Blogspot worked, and how user-friendly it was, so I've moved my classes there (when I have time and energy to teach them)...and started the blog when I built my little shed studio to encourage others, The Shed of Reality, a play on words...and moved the Starving Artists in the Kitchen stuff from LJ to its own blog (need to add stuff there too, I've got dozens of recipes written up!  We love cooking healthful, affordable meals.).  

I created the Sketching in Nature group blog because it's something I think is extremely important--and something I love.  Stopping to really SEE, to sketch...not only is it good for our own peace of mind and powers of observation, but I believe that what we draw, we will care about, and what we care about, we will protect.  In showing it to others--a larger audience--we make MORE people aware of the beauty and fragility of nature.  It makes a difference, and I'm very proud of that blog and the artists involved, from all over the world!  It had well over 14,000 views last month...

And then of course there's the Artist's Journal Workshop blog, which I'm devoted to.  I've been keeping journals for 40 years, have written on the subject in everything from Country Living to Sports Afield to Watercolor Artist and the Artist's Magazine...and ended up teaching it online (on Blogger, of course) and then writing a new book for North Light by the same name...

And did I mention Facebook?  I got on it to keep up with my friends and family, but after a while I started the Plein Air Artists group, and the Nature Artists group, both things I care about deeply and wanted to share with other artists...no big deal until Facebook changed how groups work, recently, and now they're VERY active...along with the Artist's Journal Workshop group, which I started so more people could share their work.  

So yeah.  I AM nuts, why do you ask??  There's a REASON I called this blog The Quicksilver Workaholic all those years ago!

Some of this activity was in response to my bottom line--my accountant shuddered--and I kept trying new things and tweaking old ones.  Some came about because I can't do the same things I used to physically.  Arthritis and age DO take their toll, as many of us have cause to know!

But I've been using my journal to take a look at what works and what doesn't, what takes too much time for the amount of satisfaction, where I can simplify, what I can let go and why. 

Some things I'll keep because they ARE satisfying.  They definitely don't pay the electric bill, but I enjoy them--that's important as well.  Some things are just time sinks...and deciding which those are is not as easy as it looks. 

There have been a lot of conversations lately among artists frustrated with technology or not having enough time for the things that are important to them.  Too many iPhones or mini-computers or Facebook browsing, too much time ONLINE and not enough doing the things that feed the soul. 

I've been working in my personal journal and that's brought some things to my attention too, not the least of which is my need to focus..  SO...what do YOU find most satisfying?  What works for YOU?

* The journal sketch above is part of what helps keep me sane...occasionally getting away JUST to make art in my journal is essential.  I started to say relaxing, enjoyable...nope, it's ESSENTIAL.


i wish every artist could afford an intern! yours could scan things, mail things, etc.!
Actually, Joseph DOES do a lot of that sort of thing for me, and thank goodness. I've just tried way too many different things, and it's much easier to start something than it is to keep it up or to get rid of it!
well i guess some interns are not paid. when i was working at the studio i preferred to pay the interns even if it was not too much over minimum wage - we could get a highschool or college student to stay for at least i year if we paid them. i had one girl work for me from her snr. year of high school until she graduated from college and she was GREAT.
How cool is that?? I think people should be paid for their work, too, even if they're learning as they go...

Too Much Is....Too Much

Your comment about how it's easier to start something new than keep it going or get rid of it really struck me. I think being an artist requires constant tweaking, changes, etc.

What seems to foul up most of us is the follow through....doing the gut check as well as the reality check to determine whether something is not just worthwhile, but makes us feel good and/or positively impacts the bottom line.

Not that it helps, but you're not alone. I find doing the solstice check ups with myself and my goals to evaluate what's working, what's not, and WHY is the best thing I can do to keep from getting bogged down.

Of course, learning to say "no" is a huge help too!

Re: Too Much Is....Too Much

I take "compass readings" January 1 and on my birthday, but since Solstice is near, maybe I should sneak in another!

Actually, working in my journal just precipitated another check up. I'm much LESS active online now than I was for a bit there. I know some things that won't work for me or that I'm not up to, but I'm feeling it wanting to gear up again, and I've promised myself I'll spend my time better--for me and for Joseph. So some of this will need to be weeded out or simply continue to be ignored, which is OK too. I don't need to check up on my Flickr groups unless I just want to, except the plein air group, and J. helps with that one.

eBay I need to list things on because I'm in Discardia mode. Aiming toward increased simplicity...

I didn't list some of the things I've tried that just didn't work out...not worth the time or trouble, wear me out, or seriously don't have any sort of payoff, financial, mental, spiritual, nada. They were easier to drop!

I also need to trust that we WILL be okay. I'm not used to having Joseph here YET, even though it's been three years, and we do have two incomes now. They're small, but they're there, and I could slack off a bit!

Re: Too Much Is....Too Much

Oh yeah, and learning to say no! Good one. I'm better at that...people want private tutoring, can't do it, people want color theory classes, it's not me.

I have trouble saying no to MYSELF. Hey, I'll try THAT, hey, that looks like a good idea, hey, I want to try THIS...oy.

Re: Too Much Is....Too Much

Again, not that it's much comfort, but I often have to ask myself if I live in a place of abundance or lack....that usually snaps me out of it, because almost invariably, when I'm asking that of myself it's because I'm afraid and making decisions from a place of lack.

Kate, you of all people, have the right to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Slow down and enjoy time passing.

Re: Too Much Is....Too Much

Rxactly, lady! I remember your saying that, and I was thinking of you as I ponder all this. I KNOW part of it was having a first husband who had trouble working steadily, then got sick and passed away, leaving me with no insurance or retirement. I felt a real need for many years to say yes to anything that might bring in some income, and took on far too much then, too. (One year I had all my columns to do, plus two books at one time, and a film script. ACK.)

But looking around me, I KNOW I have all I need and then some.

I suspect as a freelancer you're just always afraid if you say no, the offers or ideas will stop. But...they haven't yet!


What about advertising options - if you have the followers and artists participating I am sure the advertising world will see the absolute relevance of a target marget via blog - that should be on the increase in the near future ...I know it's not ideal ...
Thanks! I do have some links here and there, but I'm not really good with the technical stuff! I notice some art websites or blogs have links to the art supply stores. I investigated Dick Blick but never got any farther with it. (I don't think you can do that on LiveJournal, but maybe so, now...they've changed a lot.)

I don't like the automatic monetizing option on Blogger, I don't want someone else deciding what shows up on my blog. <;-)

Right now I'm almost more concerned with cutting out things I'm already doing than taking on more...