Hello again.

I’m writing another post! Go, me! It’s been a busy few months, and I haven’t done much reflection time on the events.

My niece visited in May for three weeks, and it was beautiful and difficult all at the same time. She arrived and we didn’t know each other very well, but almost immediately became friends. There were times we were sisters, there were times I felt like a mother (in the best ways), and there were overlaps in pop culture that I didn’t expect. I was genuinely broken-hearted when I hugged her goodbye at the airport. We Snapchat and WhatsApp irregularly to stay in touch.

I had my second solo exhibition of art last month. So, after the whirlwind of showing my niece around (which included a quick trip to Spain), I feverishly prepared and hung an exhibition of many of my works on paper. The framing was expensive, rave reviews and comments did not transfer into many sales, and so I expect that I will not break even. It was worth it, certainly, but I am ever more aware that the best place for my sales is through my own channels online. That’s where my focus will be, unless a real opportunity arises that makes my return on investment less futile.

Saying that, I am going to be putting a large amount of my work “on sale” in an effort to reduce stock. I am moving house, you see, and with that comes the moving of inventory that needs to be on the walls of homes and businesses, not catalogued in a back room here. A back room that needs packed and moved when I move house. So, I’m looking at August being a big push month for getting more of my work in hands other than my own. It’s going to take a lot of work to pull this off, as my shop site is not half of what I want it to be, but I’ll get it done. The distractions of May and June are over, and so I have much more time to focus on where my return on investment (business wise) can make the biggest difference.

I didn’t release a video class last month, due to all the goings-on of May and June, and so on the transition of June to July, around 4:30am GMT, I published a new class on watercolour drills. I just looked at the stats for the last 12 days and WHOA they’re pretty good. Reviews are good. Potential earnings are looking to be the best I’ve ever had as a teacher. This is thrilling, and gives me hope. My last blog post was about the chaos of being pulled in so many directions and now I can see, with a month and a half between posts, that I’m making positive traction. Go, me!

My focus is now this:
Make and sell my own work.
Teach online.
Teach in my studio (with a view to reducing that).

I am beginning to shift the balance back to a life I want to live. A life I am in control of, not in constant reaction to external demands. This is going to impact my mental health and personal relationships in such a big way. It already is.

Oh, and I went paddle boarding a couple times recently. Allowing myself to have guilt-free fun is something that I’m relearning. I got into a vicious mindset where because my earnings were not what I needed/wanted that I refused myself pleasures. I would either work at full throttle or spin out with anxiety and/or depression. I was physically nauseous going paddle boarding for the first time since last year because it felt so selfish. Pete was suffering a terrible depression, has no real pleasures of his own, and there I was pulling on a wetsuit and hitting the water while he was in such a terrible place. The thing is, you have to do things for yourself, no matter what, because that keeps you going. Getting out there was the hardest thing I’ve done in a very long time. No regrets though. Not one. We all have to find our ways, and Pete will find his. I can’t live in anxious guilt because I want to do something for me. And for the record: it’s all in my head. Pete is always, always supportive, to the point where he was actually putting the air in my paddle board, despite having a crushingly bad day. I am beyond grateful for the support.

And so, I’m about to receive another private tuition student and it’s time to prep the studio for her arrival. Perhaps I’ll write again soon, as I still have so much I haven’t said…

Writing again

Hello. It’s been awhile. This site seems to be irregularjen more than regularjen. Blogging for me died off some time ago (through complicated reasons), and yet I think about it a lot. I miss long-form writing and the unapologetic introspection that comes with it. I’d convinced myself that I’m too busy to do this and had nothing to say anyway, but after a morning of being in bed (due to not feeling well) I’m in my studio looking at all the stuff I have to do scattered around me and here I am writing. Hello.

I have been busy lately. Too busy. I haven’t got the balance right and it’s doing things to my mind and body that I don’t like. Thank goodness I’m not doing Open Studios this year because the thought of also having strangers wandering through my house as I prep and frame work for my rapidly approaching exhibition fills me with dread. I would’ve certainly imploded. As it stands, I am near that reaction anyway.

I teach too much, create too little and it’s catching up with me. My recent reason for creating art is to provide examples of how-to things for others, and in the few and far between outbursts of creativity I have for myself, I am so filled with anxiety over being out of creative practice that if I don’t have a glass of wine in me I sit in a paralysed state under my daylight bulbs, flipping through social media whilst anxiously chewing my cuticles to throbbing soreness. I can do that shit for hours. This isn’t sustainable. None of it.

The teaching I do online is rewarding. The teaching I do in the studio is rewarding. That’s the problem. Both bring in decent money. (That too, is rewarding.) But what am I doing? I’m having a big think about shifting the power balance back to what I want as a long-term work/life balance. I need the income and I like teaching, but I have to create some disciplined structure which will allow for my proper creativity to grow again. I have a loose plan forming.

A thing has to be important enough to make change, and when you find that tipping point it’s best not to ignore that opportunity. I can do all the things I want to do, I’m sure of it. Pete has a tattoo in latin that means “I shall find a way or make one,” which fits well with my idea of making change. I’ve been working hard to create sustainable income, but it’s costing me in other ways. I know we all make sacrifices in our work lives, and I am fortunate to be working in art, but I need to find a way to love making art again. I have to. Inveniam viam aut faciam.

Culling an information overload

I am certain I’m not the only one who does this: Find an interesting article online, or a product to look at in more detail later, and whack it into the Reading List feature of the Safari browser. [This is assuming you are on a Mac, iPad, or iPhone.]
Once I do that, I completely forget to reference those ever-so-important things again. My brain is convinced its dealt with the information, having diligently filed it with all the other ever-so-important things. The mountain of links grows and grows, and I’m totally convinced things are just fine.

One of the tasks Pete has been tackling for months is getting his own reading list under control. Now, his level of lack of control is something I can only dream of possessing, but in his head, he had an information problem. As I’m writing this, he’s got about 30 items in his reading list. I’m down to 547 after spending ALL DAMN DAY very quickly assessing, speed-reading, saving to Pinterest, and deleting from my whopper of a total of 933 unread items. Approximately 41% of my reading pile is now dealt with. Phew. I need gin.

Now, I was completely happy as a pig in poop having no earthly idea how much I’d let this get out of control. Then Pete brought up this Terminal script he wrote that would calculate the number of articles you have in your reading list, and also spit out a txt file to document your reading list plus bookmarks. I kinda hate and love him for introducing me to this, but hey, if I want to get my proverbial shit in order this year, a major reading list cull is a good place to start.

Actually, it feels great. Kinda like a digital version of going through your wardrobe to discard all the clothes you’ll never wear again. I may have been living in a bubble by having no idea about my reading list mess, but the knock on effect is that I’m now wondering where else in my life – my physical life – I can reduce my junk burden. Shame Pete can’t write me a Terminal script for that… [And don’t even try it, Pete.]

If you’re interested in running the script yourself, it’s on github. Enjoy.

sharing too much since 2003