Blog

Imagine you are in a place where you have too much work. Too much work to have around the house- too many paintings to fit on the walls. Too many candles to give away to friends and family. Too many songs rattling around on your computer!

What do you do with them once you have them?

Maybe you aren’t in this place- yet!

But one day you will be if you keep creating. And it’s a good place to be.

It’s a nice problem to have.

You will need to consider your possible next steps.

  • Stop creating. Hopefully this one is not an option. If you love to create, it shouldn’t be!
  • Keep giving stuff away. This works for a while, but that can be unfulfilling. Art can be expensive to make and it is nice to get compensated for our efforts.
  • Find a market for your stuff. This is what we will talk about today.

You have stuff to sell. Other people want what you are offering. How can you connect with your potential buyers?

There are a lot of options.

  • You can do direct marketing and connect with people directly.
  • You can sell to stores who will then sell your work for you.
  • You can sell online- there are a ton of different online marketplaces to do this.

Start by brainstorming a list of potential markets, or gig locations, or publications where you can be published.

This could be the local coffee shop down the street that has art, poetry readings once a week and open mikes for musicians on Fridays. Maybe it is Etsy, Soundcloud, or a well known writers blog. Make a list of as many places as you can think of.  Then start with one. Make a goal for the end of this week. You will call the gallery. You will email the host of the blog. You will set up an Etsy account. Start small. Make a list of all of the things that will have to happen in order to reach your goal. Each teeny tiny thing. Then just start. Do one at a time. Maybe one a day, maybe one a week.

You will face rejections. That is all part of it. Think of the rejection as being one step closer to getting to your goal. Perhaps you will have to face 10 rejections or 100. Facing each one means you are one step closer to your goal. Celebrate it. Keep moving.

If you are not in a place to start selling your work, spend 5 minutes imagining yourself being in that place. How does it feel? Is it exciting? Overwhelming? Inspiring?  Not everyone will end up selling their work. But maybe you will.

Dream big!

 

 

 

 

 

Just the mention of the word ‘marketing’ might make you shudder. Perhaps not, but if that is you then I have some advice.

While the concept of marketing is an important one, the word has a nasty connotation. You might think of corporate meeting rooms where men in suits talk about the best ways to manipulate the public into buying whatever crap they are selling.

I understand. I think that too. But marketing your own work does not have to be a dirty subject.

You create something wonderful, amazing and unique. You have something to offer the world. Something that people will enjoy and be pleased to purchase.

hobbit clockThink of something you enjoy, whether it is a song, a book or a painting. I have this amazing clock that I just love. I am so happy that the person who made it thought of the idea and put it out in the world for sale!

Did I think “Ick! That person is marketing their work to me!”

No! Of course not! I thought “Wow! An amazing clock that I must have!”

So, my first piece of advice is to do the work to shift your thinking about marketing. Think of marketing your work as offering something amazing to the world. Doesn’t that feel better?

Next week we will discuss strategies for approaching potential marketplaces.

Enjoy creating!

Courtney

I haven’t been reading as much lately as I used to. I do listen to books on tape and podcasts on my way to work and home, but overall, I just haven’t been doing as much lately.

But I just found this book that is going to be amazing.

How can I tell?

Well, I am not even through the first part of it and I am already using bits and pieces of what I have learned from it in my life.

The book is called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Have you read The art of tidying by Marie Kondo?

Essentialism is like The art of tidying except for your life.

The basic idea of this book is that you can’t do everything. As much as we all want to be able to fit everything in to our lives, we can’t. Simple fact. The more you get good at saying no to things that are not essential to your life, the more time you will have for the things that matter.

Let’s look at how this affects creativity.

If you don’t make your living as  a creative, chances are you spend at least 40 hours a week on something other than your creative pursuits. While you may enjoy your work, it simply cuts down on the amount of available time that you have to your creative work. Factor in all of the other things that are essential to life running smoothly like sleeping, eating, showering, etc.

Then let’s factor in all of the things that are not actually essential but we feel we should do, like helping someone with a project, volunteering in your kid’s classroom, etc. I am not diminishing the value of these activities, but they will ultimately cut in to your creative time. There are only so many hours in the day, and if you don’t prioritize activities in your life, then they will be prioritized by default.

If you only remember three words from this post, remember these:

LESS BUT BETTER

I invite you to pause for a second and close your eyes. Less but better. How does that phrase affect you? How does it make you feel? What do you think of when you ponder that idea?

As a person who prides herself on fitting many things into her life, this idea has a very calming affect on me. Sometimes I think that the quality of my days is measured by how many things I can do, what I can accomplish, and how many things I checked off my to-do list.

The ‘less but better’ idea for me is so nice. It allows me to think more long term, shoot for bigger goals, and relax more.

I wrote last week about picking one thing to focus on.

This week I want to go more in depth about that.

Narrowing your focus down to one thing can be a challenge, especially if you have a ton of interests.

However the even bigger challenge can be what you decide you want to focus on.

Let me give you an example.

Recently I was bartering coaching with a fellow creativity coach, and I was struggling with this all to common problem of not knowing what to focus on. ‘I have too many interests! I can’t choose!’

It was all true.. sort of.

I knew that in my heart what I wanted- no needed to focus on was my topographical jewelry. It was a project I had started over a year before and that had been hanging for over a year.

I was putting it off.

Why? Because I was afraid.

I was telling myself that I didn’t have time to focus on the project. That I would not even remember how to use Rhino, my 3D modeling software since it had been so long! I told myself that it was too hard.

I was waiting for that perfect chunk of time- ideally several months with no other obligations in which I could work on this project.

I was definitely delusional.

When was that going to happen?

I was also afraid that I had already invested so many hours on this project and what if it failed? What if I was unable to do what I wanted to do? Or what if no one liked what I produced?

When the other coach asked what I wanted to focus on I started out by giving her all of the excuses that I had been telling myself- “I don’t know what to focus on!” “I don’t have time!”

But when she asked again what the one thing I wanted to focus on was, I knew the answer.

I cut through my excuses and just made the commitment to focus.

Do I have a month or two of uninterrupted time?

No way. I wake up an hour early every day to do this work.

Do I remember Rhino?

Well I was a bit rusty but it all came back pretty well, and I ended up finding a course that I could take to improve my skills even more.

Is it hard?

Yes! It’s hard! I run into problems all the time. But I know I am going to have time to work them through. An hour at a time. And I do.

Do people like what I have produced?

I am not sure yet! I have certainly gotten some positive feedback! Have people bought my jewelry? Not yet! But I am still incredibly happy that I am seeing this project through.

It has been about 3 months since I made the commitment to working on this project an hour a day.

I have spent about 100 hours on it, and made tons of progress.

That’s a lot of hours! And every day I go through the day feeling satisfied that I have done my creative ‘work’ for the day. Even if I get nothing else accomplished I have that positive feeling with me for the rest of the day.

What is the project that you need to work on?

Why is that work important to you?

How can you make the commitment to yourself to work on that project?

When will you do your work?

Have you ever been in a position where you are trying to juggle too many creative projects?

Have you ever not been in that position? I feel like I am fighting that urge all the time.

I see a cool project idea “I could make that!” Then I go through the process of getting all the materials, starting the project with every intention of finishing, and then I distracted by another cool project, putting the current one aside while I dive headlong into the new one.

Sometimes the projects are lucky enough to get revisited, like the sweater project I started in college with a beautiful turquoise boucle yarn. Mmm- it was delicious! But then, something else came up. And the sweater looked like it was going to be too big. And I really hate pulling out knitting. So, I put the sweater aside. Every time I looked at it I felt a little guilty. Guilty about the money I spend on that yarn. Guilty about the seemingly wasted time that I spent half finishing the project. Guilty that I bought new yarn when I should have been finishing that project.

But sat there it did.slinky

For years.

Something like 7 years later I came back to that lucky sweater. I reworked it and put the pieces together in a different way than the way they were originally meant to be put together. It worked! I loved it and wore it all the time.

But that isn’t the ending for many projects that are started and abandoned. Many projects fall by the wayside never to be revisited again.

Does this sound like you? If so I have some advice.

Pick one thing.

Stick with it. Every day. Or every weekend, or whatever your creative schedule allows. Make a commitment for a specific amount of time. Maybe it’s 3 months. Maybe a year.

Make a series of drawings of your cat. Or knit a sweater. Or create a series of paintings of vegetables. Whatever feels like the most important work for you to do at the moment. Don’t let yourself get distracted. Follow through on your commitment to yourself.

Envision yourself in a year with 8 finished paintings. Or a beautiful handmade sweater. Or aIMG_1694 whole book of sketches of your cat- with a huge improvement over the year!

All of this is not going to happen in a day. It can’t. but if you take it one day at a time, one brush stroke at a time, one row of stitches at a time, one sketch at a time, keeping your end goal in mind, you will be able to achieve your goal.

It’s simple, but not easy.

Pick one thing. Choose a length of time. Make a commitment to yourself. Stick with it.

Ready? Get to it!

I am a creativity coach. I work with people to help them to transform their creative lives.

I can help you, too.

Many people think ‘I am not creative,’ or ‘I am too old/ young/ busy/ to be creative.’ I think that’s a load of nonsense and I will tell you why.

I believe that each person that is on the planet is creative.

Every. Single. One.

What is that you say? You can’t draw a straight line with a ruler?

Do you see any straight lines on Van Gogh’s Starry Night?starry

Do you think being able to draw a straight line is some kind of precursor to being a creative?

I can tell you that it’s not.

Not to say that being creative doesn’t involve some work.

You have to decide what to make and how to make it. You have to decide what you want to express. Those decisions can be the hardest part of the work!

And, of course the ugly head of fear likes to rear it’s head.

‘What if I can’t do it?’

‘What if it’s not good enough?’

My question to you is:

What if you do nothing?

Isn’t trying and having an experience that you can learn from worth the risk?

I invite you to click here in order to receive my FREE 6 simple steps transform your creative life NOW!
Aren’t you worth it?



Let’s talk about failure.

There’s all this talk about the benefits of failing lately.
“Fail early and fail often!” We hear.
But how do we do that if we are afraid to start?

What are you really afraid of when you are afraid to fail? Not achieving whatever it is you want to achieve! Perhaps it is getting a job that we want, creating something new, or being able to run a marathon. If you allow your fear to paralyze you into inaction, you will end up with the exact same result as if you tried and failed- nothing! You won’t get the job, create that amazing thing or finish the marathon. So what have you lost? Maybe a little bit of time where you could have been watching Survivor. But chances are that you are a little closer to that job, that you learned something in your creative endeavor, or that you are a little healthier than when you started training for that marathon.

What if you don’t fail? If your fear doesn’t win out in this struggle, you may end up achieving your goal. You may actually end up with that job, or awesome clay house or the satisfaction of knowing you can run 26.2 miles.

So fear of failure will lead to inaction. Inaction produces zero results. Getting beyond failure (or ignoring it altogether) might produce the results that you want. It might not. But you will end up in an even better place from having learned something from your failure that if you had done nothing at all.

Doing nothing puts you in the same place as you imagine your failure will. Inaction is like predetermined failure.

Think about one thing that you have been putting off.

Now consider why you have been putting it off.

Imagine the worst thing that could happen.

Is it really that bad?

How many times a (pick one) minute/ day/ month/ year  do you hear yourself say ‘I can’t do that!’ Maybe you say it to yourself or maybe out loud, it really doesn’t matter.

Why do you say that? Is it honestly something that you have tried your best to do, and you weren’t successful? Or does it actually mean something else?

Maybe you actually mean ‘I don’t  WANT to do that!’ Or maybe it’s ‘I am not COMFORTABLE  with that!’ Or maybe it means ‘I don’t have the CONFIDENCE  to even TRY that!’

Think of a time recently that you said that to yourself.

Go ahead! Imagine yourself in the situation.

This is what you said: “I can’t do THAT!’

What you really meant was _____________.

If what you meant was “I don’t WANT to do that” than great! Don’t! Just be clear with yourself.

If what you meant was “I am not COMFORTABLE with that” (but I want to try it) maybe you could figure out a way to try whatever it is with help or training so you CAN get comfortable with it!

If what you meant was “I don’t have the CONFIDENCE to TRY” then why don’t you ask yourself why?

Everyone master was once a beginner that had the same doubts about trying something new.

They too took things step by step and took pleasure in the learning that they acquired.

Every person on the planet is fantastic at learning new things- we all had to learn a lot in order to grow up!

Just remember to ask yourself the next time you say “I can’t do THAT!”

What do I REALLY mean?

 

Love

Courtney

Habits Revisited
Hi there!sunrise
I just wanted to share an amazing strategy that I have started using for getting back into creativity just over a week ago, and it works!
Get it done early.
Like, first thing early.
Wake up.
Brush teeth.
Get creative.
Give yourself an hour or 30 minutes or whatever works for you.
Then get on with your day!
Even if you get nothing else done that day you will be happy because you spend time being creative.
Go ahead! Try it!
Let me know how it goes.

How many of you know exactly what you want to accomplish creatively- raise your hand?

Me too!

Ok, of those people who know what you want to do creatively, how many people just can’t find the time to actually sit down to DO it? Raise your hand.

Me too!

Why is that?

I think there are many reasons of course, among them fear and permission.

What do I mean by permission?

Robert Burridge puts it very well by saying that we need to give ourselves permission to be creative. He has even gone so far as to print out actual permission slips that he hands out at workshops!

I love it!

Why do we need to give ourselves permission?

I am sure everyone is different, but I think that overwhelmingly people are so busy, that creativity seems like a fluffy extra that can be shoved aside like that pink coat that you really want to buy but know that you ‘shouldn’t.’

While arguably nourishing your creativity isn’t as important as buying food, it feeds your soul in a different way than food feeds your body, and it is every bit as essential.

I find that when I nourish my creativity every other part of my day feels more vibrant and alive, and when I don’t my life feels dim and dull.

Is this true for you too?

If so, maybe you want to sign up for some free coaching! I am offering a limited number of clients free creativity coaching as I launch my coaching practice! Contact me for details at info@courtneyreckord.com

More on the fear aspect of resistance next time.

Love,
Courtney

It’s that time of year when people start to make resolutions.
I think of resolutions as a negative thing, made with positive intentions.
For example, ‘I will not eat sugar.” Wanting to be healthy is great, but when you frame it like that, it’s not going to get you anywhere.

‘I want to feel good in my body’ feels like a different kind of goal than ‘I want to lose weight.’
It feels more inspiring, more positive, more affirming.

Maybe you want to think about your resolutions more like goals than resolutions.

Can you make them more fun? More about joy and happiness? That is much more likely to be sustainable than telling yourself what you can’t do.

Right now, maybe you can try to set one goal for yourself, and maybe that goal can relate to being creative.

Try something new! Been wanting to learn how to scrapbook?
Maybe now is the time to find a group to join.

Revisit something old! Have a half finished sweater that is just screaming to be finished? Make some time every day to knit a row.

Branch out a tiny bit. Been painting landscapes? Maybe now is the time to pick up a book to find different approaches or to try portrait painting!

Say yes! Did someone ask you to get out of your comfort zone? Maybe create something for them, teach them something, learn something with them- and you started to have the thought “No, I could never____.” Stop that thought! SAY YES!

Love
Courtney

Colors
What is your favorite color? Today mine is green, yesterday it was purple and tomorrow- that coral that you see around the sun as it is setting. Mmm- delicious!
I love mixing colors. Taking them right out of the tube is not nearly as fun.
I like to paint things that inspire me; a southwest landscape, my cat, sometimes just swirling colors and words.
I believe that everyone can paint. Just like singing, everyone has a different painting voice. They might be attracted to a different color palette, work with different brush strokes, and strive for a different level of realism.
What matters is that you JUMP IN!

I love the way extreme heat and pressure in rocks manifests itself in such a beautiful array of different stones that we can use in jewelry!IMG_2957

 

Setting stones into jewelry is a fun way to incorporate color and patterns into your work. Incorporating cabochons (flat bottomed stones) into jewelry is easier than you might think. Beginning jewelers can imagine and create a design, with a stone as the centerpiece.

Sometimes I create the same design in several different ways using different stones. Sometimes I let the stones dictate what I make. Whatever I do, I enjoy including the amazing gems into my work!

IMG_2518I find it amazing that there are such a variety of stones in different shapes that reflect what they are made up of and how they were created.

Lately I have become interested in lapidary work, which is the forming and shaping of stones, and inlay, which involves combining stones together.

This was my first inlay piece. I love it! I had such fine combining the different stones in different ways, cutting them into different shapes. I like how I can tell a story through this type of work.

I am looking forward to seeing how this work develops. I hope that you have some creative pursuit that draws you in like this!

Cheers to your creativity!

Courtney

I am wrapping up the drawing unit with my Art 1 students, and the last assignment is a self portrait. Most people shrink in fear when they think of drawing a self portrait. The self criticism that it evokes can be incredibly stressful for anyone that is not a professional artist. In a room of teenagers this is even more evident. Students are insecure about their looks, insecure about their drawing abilities (most of them, anyway) and will employ any number of strategies in order to avoid doing the portrait. Going to the bathroom for long stretches, taking the whole class to tone their paper, starting over, and over and over.

Adults use different forms of strategies. They simply don’t do it at all. ‘I can’t draw!’ ‘I am not an artist’ or ‘I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler’ are all things I have heard people say.

Who has a straight line on their face?

I don’t like doing self portraits either. It is not my favorite thing. ‘Do I really look like that?’ I inevitably think as I really study my own face. I also feel insecure doing a self portrait in front of the room full of teenagers, who in order to shield their own insecurity will be critical and mean.

However it is a challenge that I can’t turn down. You know whether it is done well or not. It is easy to tell if the drawing looks like you or not. I have done a lot of portraits that I was not super proud of. Like any other skill if you practice enough you will get better. My most recent portrait was my best yet. IMG_2963

My advice if you want to jump in to learning the art of drawing is to get the book: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. There are a number of exercises to lead you through different drawing skills.

Many people think that you are either born good at drawing or not, and that’s it.

I know that is not true. You can learn how to draw. Just like anything else.

Good luck on your creative endeavors.

Courtney

Just for fun

Sometimes I get stuck on thinking that everything I make has to be practical. I have always been practically minded, but as a busy working parent every minute seems to be accounted for. Making things to eat, making things to sell, making things to use are all valid. However, there are many times when making things just for fun can be incredibly freeing and enjoyable.

images (4)Yesterday I made a ‘who am I’ collage. It is not anything I will use, it really was just for fun. I went through a bunch of magazines, and pulled out images that resonate with me. Then I glued them onto a sheet of paper. It’s not amazing. It was just fun.

How about halloween? That is all about fun. Carving pumpkins is certainly not practical or useful in any way. Carving pumpkins is a purely creative act. The pumpkins are edownload (1)njoyed for a night or a few, and will eventually rot. They certainly are not lasting works of art.

There are a whole other set of creative acts that people perform that are for more spiritual reasons. Sugar skulls are made for Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration to remember and honor a friend or relative who has passed away. Tibetan monks create sand mandalas that take them hours and hours and then sweep them away. They do this practice for meditation, and not for a finished product.

Today, is there something you can make just for fun?

IMG_1105
Sprued models
IMG_1107
Plaster

There is something so dramatic about casting. The fire, sense of mystery, and transformation of a material from wax to metal is so magical that I love sharing the process with others. The process is also very zen, because as much work as you put into your piece, there is no guarantee that your piece will turn out perfectly every time.

Lost wax casting is an ancient art, and one whose tools have not changed all that much over the centuries*. Artists start by creating a positive in wax. That positive is then immersed in plaster, which hardens, and then the wax is burned out in a kiln overnight. Metal is then heated in a crucible to it’s melting point, and with luck, it will fill the plaster mold perfectly. With some filing and polishing, you have a beautiful finished piece.
*One caveat to this statement. With the use of 3D modeling and printers, you can use a 3D printed model in order to create a plaster mold from, in the same way you would use a wax model to create a mold from. Think of it as ‘lost plastic casting’!

IMG_1405
Unfinished castings, Sons of Anarchy rings
IMG_1395
Finished casting

These are some rings I was commissioned to make, and I modeled them using 3D software. I printed them out on a 3D printer and then cast them in silver. You can get more complex shapes that way that you can’t carve out by hand.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2819
Soapstone owl. Is it Michaelangelo? No. Does it make me happy? Yes.

I am creative every day, but sometimes I still feel like what I do doesn’t ‘count’ as creative.
Why? Because it’s not formal enough, didn’t take long enough, or wouldn’t be able to sell.

But that is not my motivation for doing creative things.
I create because it nurtures me and is part of who I am.
I believe that everyone is creative.

Maybe you don’t believe it, maybe you are one of those people who thinks ‘I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler!’ Is that really a thing? Somehow in order to be able to make things you have to pass the ‘Can you draw a straight line with a ruler?’ test?
I believe that if you don’t think that you are creative, you probably haven’t found your arena yet.
Or, you are too afraid to try something new.

Sometimes it is just easier to do what ‘needs’ to be done, because it is very clearcut.
You know how to do the laundry, so that doesn’t take a lot of thought. And it needs to be done anyway. So, you might as well do it- right? And by the time all of those things that need to be done are finished, you don’t have any time to be creative.

IMG_2818
Paper butterfly I made during my Thursday evening creative time.

Screw that! Make time for yourself!
Even if there is no reason for it other than it will make you happy.

Make it a habit. Decide on a specific time of day or day of the week and COMMIT. Even if you know that there may be some exceptions to your commitment- it is easier to commit to a time then to make the decision at the end of a long day with a tired brain when your decision making skills are at their lowest.

IMG_2820
My new closet. It used to be white with wire shelves. This pink color is just AWESOME.

See your creativity in unexpected places. Recognize when you have been creative and give yourself some credit. Did you make a delicious dinner that was something new for you? Boom. Did you put up photos or reorganize a room? Yes. These are creative acts. Celebrate them and yourself for doing something creative.

Eventually you might want to level up. Maybe you have been thinking about trying your hand a painting. Or pottery. Now just might be the time for that.

What are you waiting for?