At the end of the year, I look at my goals and see how close I came to achieving them. Here is it January 8th — I should have done this at the end of 2013 — but I got the flu after Christmas, and it took all of my energy for a couple of weeks. I’m just now beginning to recover and put together the pieces of everything I have to do in my life. Today was the first time I’ve had to look at my art goals.
2013 was the year that “I finally broke into the sunshine at the International Quilt Festival/Houston” — and 2014 was the year that I created controversy. But just like I said last year — I’m still here and kicking — and I hope to continue to create in 2015.
— My blog was viewed 21,00 times in 2014 which broke all of my previous records. The highest viewed post was The Use of Someone Else’s Photograph in Your Work, the subject of which was the controversy over my piece Worry at the International Quilt Festival/Houston this year.
— Worry and Golden Moment were accepted into Georgia Artists at the Abernathy Arts Center here in Sandy Springs, GA, an exhibit highlighting the work of local Georgia artists from all mediums. Golden Moment won 1st place.
— Worry was accepted into International Quilt Festival/Houston: World of Beauty and was awarded 3rd place in the Art-People, Portraits, and Figures category.
— Dolce Far Niente was accepted into the special exhibit What’s for Dinner? at Quilt Festival/Houston.
— The Cardinal was shown at the Square Foot Fiber Art Pin Up Show at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance here in Atlanta and then was donated and auctioned at the International Quilt Festival/Houston Silent Auction.
— Lincoln traveled from the 2013 International Quilt Festival/Houston and went to The Texas Quilt Museum, Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, International Quilt Festival/Chicago, and Quilt! Knit! Stitch! in Portland before being purchased.
— Beach Guardians traveled from the 2013 Sacred Threads show and went to Sacred Threads West: Art of the Sacred in Seattle, WA.
— Rebecca Reasons-Edwards and myself co-curated another exhibit this year called Fierce Fibers at The Art Place in Marietta, GA. Beach Guardians, Golden Moment, A Walk in Twilight, and Worn were exhibited.
— Golden Moment was accepted into Art Quilts XIX: Permission to Play at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ and was awarded Juror’s Choice & 3rd Place.
— Firecracker was included in the article Pet Portraits Popular With Owners Who Quilt in the Daily Sentinel published in January.
— Heike Hellmann-Brown wrote an article about me and my work that was published in the local publication North Fulton Family Life in August.
— Sold Lincoln to a private collector.
— Sold I Am the Vine, You are the Branches to a private collector.
— Sold Worry to a private collector.
— Sold The Cardinal to a private collector.
— Met goal of selling at least 2 of my pieces.
— I completed 3 large portraits, 1 small animal portrait, 1 small abstract, and 3 large abstracts. (All of the abstract works were made in collaboration with Leisa Rich.) (Goal to make at least 6 large pieces met.)
— I started a collaboration with a local artist, Leisa Rich. We have been working on an abstract series based on car washes and are planning a two person show at the Abernathy Arts Center in October of 2015.
— I applied and was accepted into Studio Art Quilts Associates as a Juried Artist Member.
— I spoke at The Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild in Marietta, GA, The Alpha Arts Guild in Alpharetta, GA, and the Misty Mountain Quilter’s Guild in Blairsville, GA.
— This year I kept a massive spreadsheet and kept track of my hours. I have to find a simpler way to do this. Halfway through the year, I decided that I not only wanted to keep category totals but also totals by project — so I ended up keeping two separate spreadsheets.
— As of the end of the year, I have 115 FaceBook Page followers (increase from 2013 unknown but I think it’s around 50%) and 32 Twitter followers (52% increase but still small).
— I did fairly well on maintaining my social media goals. I posted at least 2 blog posts a week 80% of the time, I posted at least 4 FaceBook page updates 78% of the time, and I posted at least 6 Twitter updates 74% of the time.
— What I didn’t do well with this year was keeping myself to at least 15 hours per week in the studio. I only met that goal 59% of the time. I was on track until I started taking freelance scoping work on the side. The truth of the matter is that my family is a part time job, so freelancing work cut into my art time. I do think I will keep this goal in 2015 however. I just need to work on being smarter with the time that I do have available.
— I didn’t keep my sketching goal at all. I have no problem drafting out a pattern for a particular project, but I can’t seem to make myself stop and fill a page in a sketchbook.
— I easily increased web traffic 5%. Given the controversy over Worry at IQA/Houston, my traffic increased 55.4% over last year.
I am eternally grateful for the support and encouragement of my friends and other people that reached out to me during the controversy over Worn. I am reminded that my place is to hold up others to the light and forward their achievements in a positive way. I leave all the others that still have lessons to learn — behind.
Love me or hate me, I’m still here, and I hope that 2015 is a great year.
When I spoke at the Alpha Arts Guild Tuesday night, someone asked me — at what point did I know I was ready to enter an international show? When did I know I was a professional artist?
In retrospect, I don’t think I answered it very well — but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I wanted to share my thoughts.
There was no flash of light. No-one stepped forward and declared — you may now begin. I was very lucky in that I won a Best of Show ribbon in the first show I ever entered. It was a state level show and I had only entered my piece Childhood because I was going to take a class and thought it would be nice to have a piece in the show. I walked in — and you could have knocked me over with a feather.
And so I thought — I’ll enter Paducah. I was on the QuiltArt listserv — they were talking about it — so I thought — why not. They accepted both Childhood and Dalmatian Downs. I was lucky enough to go to the show and I was blown away by the work others were producing. There was a stunning quilt everywhere I turned — and it seemed unending. I was truly humbled to have been included.
I also had some luck entering Mancuso shows — but I wanted to get in the International Quilt Festival in Houston. That was the golden prize. I spent many years with rejection letters from Houston — but I just kept trying. After 5 years — I got discouraged and decided not to enter — but then a friend reminded me that that would guarantee I wouldn’t get in — so with my heart in hand — I sent in an entry with my latest endeavor — the beginning of a portrait series. The Lord must be kind to those who wait because that year they accepted Faces in Cloth I.
And then I put my mind to winning a prize at Houston. A girl can dream — right? And I waited and I hoped and I waited some more. There were times I was discouraged — but I think you always have to reach for the brass ring. The next rung on the ladder. Eventually, The Lord blessed me again and in the seventh year, last year, I won first place in my category for Lincoln.
Why did I do these things? Maybe early luck motivated me. I like to think it was also because I saw my mom break barriers in the art world. At one time, she traveled to Paris and was asked to move to New York to work with a famous painter. She stayed with her family but she pushed the boundaries of what was possible for a mom taking care of her kids in Alabama.
Last year, for the first time, I made a list of my accomplishments in 2012 — followed by a later posting of goals for 2013. I kept better track of my time than I had before — and both used my goals and, for some items, ignored them when they didn’t suit me. (I’m allowed.)
2013 was a big year for me — I sold three of the six pieces that I made — and I finally broke into the sunshine at the International Quilt Festival/Houston by winning a blue ribbon in my category. I made a lot of new friends — and lost one just before Christmas to breast cancer.
It was a year of highs and lows — but I’m still here — I’m still kicking — still creating — and I hope to share a lot more in 2014.
– Made spreadsheet of goals with a timesheet.
– Printed two years of blog posts into books (1997 & 1998).
– Developed seminar on choosing fabrics creatively (delivered to my Fiber Art Fusion group in February).
– Piece published in Machine Quilting Unlimited article about Sacred Threads (Beach Guardians).
– Accepted into International Quilt Festival special exhibit It’s Raining Cats & Dogs (Firecracker).
– Won first place at IQF/Houston in the People, Portraits, & Figures category (Lincoln).
– Accepted into the La Conner International Quilt & Fiber Arts Show in La Conner, WA (Amelia Earhart).
– Won 1st place at the La Conner Quilt & Fiber Arts Show (Amelia Earhart).
– Sold The Bowl Judgments to a private collector.
– Sold Firecracker to a private collector.
– Sold The White Raven to the International Quilt Festival collection.
– Created 5 portraits and 1 abstract. Original goal 6 portraits. Currently halfway through a family portrait.
– Entered Art Quilts XIX (was not accepted).
– Exhibited at East Cobb Quilt Guild Show (Beach Guardians).
– Won 2nd Place in the Original Design category at the East Cobb Quilt Guild Show (Beach Guardians).
– Accepted into Georgia Artists show at the Abernathy Arts Center (Lincoln).
– Participated in SEFAA’s Fiber ARTlanta show (Bukonyan Elder).
– Accepted as an artist at ArtsyShark.com and was featured on their website July 1st.
– Increased Facebook fans from 23 to 77 (goal was 46).
– Designed new labels to use on the Mac.
– Designed & printed new business cards.
– Designed thank you cards with Lincoln. These were used to thank all of the IQF/Houston sponsors.
– Updated FaceBook banner with new work.
– Updated the menus on my website by moving older work to the back and grouping portrait and abstract work into new galleries.
– Started tweeting articles of interest to fellow Creatives.
– Started a weekly blog post of my tweets called Tweek!
– Tweeted 183 times during the year (although 46 of them were made during my time in Houston).
– Made 254 posts on my FaceBook page and met my goal of posting 3 times per week 85% of the time.
– Made 42 blog posts on my website and met my goal of posting at least 1 blog post per week 65% of the time.
– Spent 455 hours in my studio, 55 hours on my website, and 53 hours doing other administrative things related to my work (like entering shows, shipping, shopping).
– Updated my website for each of my new pieces.
– Added Buy Now buttons (with links to PayPal) to all of the pages of pieces for sale.
– Updated my artist resume.
– Maintained a regular log to account for my time in the studio, on my website, & other administrative tasks related to my art.
– Reached my pre-pregnancy goal weight (took me 17 years but I got there!)
– Continued to take hundreds of sports pictures and share them through DropBox.
– Curated the Fiber Art Fusion exhibit It’s All In The Cards with Rebecca Reasons-Edwards which showed at both The Art Place in Marietta and the SEFAA Center in Atlanta.
– Grappled with my hosting service to move the website from a legacy server to the grid. (I should get a medal for this one. GoDaddy just let my site crash and never notified me that I needed to move to newer technology. I now plan to call them annually to discuss the health of the server on which my site resides.)
– Played role of year round lacrosse and choir mom.
– As of 12/27/13, there were 13,483 views on my website, an increase of just under 6% from the previous year.
– I started my Twitter account with no followers and currently have 21 (small — but it’s growing every day!)
– From August through December, donated over 100 hours in a start-up company.
And then there were some things on my list that I just didn’t do. I saw them there — and I either didn’t enjoy what I had started — or I didn’t feel motivated to do it at all.
– Complete draft of book on textile portraits. I may still do this — it’s just not at the forefront of my mind right now. I’ve also been asked to teach classes. The truth of the matter is that these are big projects — and doing them would take away from studio time.
– Create email/snail mail list. I see this in practically every article I read about art marketing. Maybe I’m lazy but I struggle with keeping up with the blog and Twitter. I don’t have an interest in making a newsletter right now.
– Participate in SEFAA Square Foot Fiber Art Pin Up Show & the Abernathy Art Center Pin Up Show. These are shows that ask for 12″ or smaller pieces — which is not what I typically do. It’s hard for me to pry myself from one of my larger projects to work on smaller ones. I tend to work on one project at a time and don’t start the next one until I’m finished with the one I’m working on.
– Visit at least 12 galleries in Roswell & write a blog review (only did this in January and February). This sounded like a great idea at the time. It was my desire to spread my wings and prepare material for my blog other than my own studio work — but the truth of the matter is that I work in a vacuum. Leaving the house changes the creative dynamic for me, and when I get wrapped up in a project, I like to concentrate on it to the exclusion of other things. I did find a different outlet by sharing articles about art on my Twitter account and then summarizing them each week on the blog in a Tweek!
– Make 2 small pieces a month & list small pieces for sale at ArtFire.com or ArtfulHome.com. This was (and is) a great idea — but as I’ve said, I tend to work on a larger scale. There is something to be said for creating smaller pieces — they are infinitely more marketable and more likely to sell (particularly in the current economy). However, to be smaller, they also need to be simpler — most of the pieces that I find engaging and develop into fuller projects are complex — and I find that more interesting.
I did spend the year with a focus on marketable pieces. I stopped working on people (with the exception of The Bowl Judgments — although you could argue that the angel falls into a category of her own). Many people will see a portrait of a person and say something like “one day I’d like you to do a piece of my grand-children” — but moving that into an actual sale is extremely difficult. Animals have much broader appeal as subjects than people. Anyone that has had a bull-dog will see artwork of a bull-dog and want it.
And although I sold three pieces — which I think confirms my theory about the marketability of certain subject matter — I have to acknowledge that the blue ribbon of Lincoln tells me that there is still room to work on portraits of people — as long as the subject is carefully chosen.
I won’t say that my end goal is to sell all of my work — I think I make my work for me — but it is nice to have a way to cover your expenses and have something left over to contribute to your family.
Good-bye 2013 — it’s been a hell of ride!
One of my art friends on Facebook, Kimberly Baxter Packwood, asked yesterday what was our top accomplishment for the year. Lisa Call and Dale Anne Potter chimed in — and I began to realize that making a list of what I accomplished in 2012 was definitely something I needed to do. My first list was less than twenty, but after reading Lisa’s list (she lists 100 every year), I realized I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. So I’ve been working on it.
At first I also had a list of disappointments, but I decided that those were actually risks that I took that should be counted as accomplishments. Without risk, we’d never travel anywhere new.
– Accepted into Fulton County Artist’s Registry in Atlanta, GA.
– Accepted into the La Conner Quilt Festival in La Conner, WA (Bukonyan Elder).
– Won 1st place at the La Conner Quilt Festival (Bukonyan Elder).
– Won 3rd place at the Georgia Artists Show (Amelia Earhart).
– Included in the invitational show International Quilt Festival/Houston: Pets in Houston, TX (Unconditional).
– Accepted into the book Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits being published by Lark Crafts in April 2013 (Celtic Woman).
– Spoke about my work at the Gwinnett Quilter’s Guild & taught my workshop on Pet Portraits.
– Gave a seminar on Textile Photography at Fiber Art Fusion in Marietta, GA.
– Created five portrait pieces, two of them with two figures.
– Made a portrait almost exclusively with ties from my stash and local thrift stores (The Ties That Bind Us).
– Updated my website for each of my new pieces.
– Reconstructed and updated my art resume.
– Updated my LinkedIn resume, adding my exhibition achievements.
– Wrote 22 blog posts (23 with this one) — averaging almost twice a month.
– Submitted work to Art Book Archive: Atlanta for inclusion (haven’t heard on e-book publication yet).
– Created a Page on Facebook for my art & syndicated my blog posts to it.
– Lost 11 pounds and dropped two clothes sizes.
– Developed a way to create figures in large sections so that I could construct them in manageable pieces on a temporary surface and then build a more complicated piece on the background.
– Went zip-lining in Honduras.
– Went cave tubing in Belize (after hiking over river rocks and breaking my toe).
– Went snuba diving in Mexico.
– Took thousands of sports photos and learned to share them through DropBox.
– Photographed the Fiber Art Fusion Artifact annual exhibit and holiday exchange.
– Indoor trained a new puppy.
– Converted hundreds of printed family pics to digital.
– Finally found the names of my paternal grandfather’s parents and was then able to take that part of my tree back to 466 AD with the birth of King Clovis I.
– Served as a Unit Leader and Troop Treasurer for my daughter’s American Heritage Girls troop.
– Created a 5”x7” piece for the Fiber Art Fusion holiday exchange that I’m using as a model for a larger piece.
– Visited Mary Jo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC.
– Learned about head concussions and other soccer injuries from my daughter.
– Spent a week in Ponte Vedra, FL for Spring Break taking lots of beach pictures and exploring Saint Augustine.
– Played roles of volleyball mom, lacrosse mom, soccer mom, and choir mom.
– Saw MacBeth downtown at Shakespeare’s Tavern.
– Applied for a part time job at local children’s hospital (not accepted).
– Applied for entry into Quilts=Art=Quilts for the first time (not juried in).
– As of 12/30/12, there were 12,680 views on my website for the year — which was down 23% from 2011. This was caused by a bubble in 2011 from a mention of my blog in Quilter’s Home Magazine, but although views dropped between 2011 and 2012, views increased 154% from 2010 to 2012 so I was able to keep a lot of my traffic after this unexpected marketing windfall.
– Created a Facebook banner highlighting my work.
– Learned how to make resin jewelry.
At this point, only half of the work is done. I’m still working on my goals and will share that in another post.