For I am Confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

I belong to a group called The Abundant Artist Association and each month they put out a new challenge for their members.  The July Challenge is to create an art series for a period of time and share the series with collectors.  I have accepted this challenge and I will be posting my daily progress on this blog until the end of July and maybe beyond.

I have decided to combine morning Bible study with watercolor by finding the key word in a daily scripture supplied to me from Biblegateway.com.  I will write the scripture on the back and paint around the key word on the front.

Here was my sample from Philippians 1:6, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  My key word was confident.

My First official day of the Book Mark Series

Wednesday, 11 July 2018 from Jeremiah 32:17.

Power Book Mark
Power Book Mark
Book Mark Jeremiah 32:16
Book Mark with Jeremiah 32:16i

I am not all that happy with the outcome of the Power Book Mark.  I guess that is why you do a series, some are going to be great and some not so great.  I tried to fix a poor color and I made it worse by muddying the color.  I also think the letters should have all been caps because the word POWER should be bold.  I intend to put the scripture reference on the front, because it would be a lot easier to remember.    I can also tell that what may have been a real simple project may turn out to be a skill builder.

If you would like to receive one of these markers, let me know, I will send them free of charge, but first come first served.

12 July 2018 Mathew 4:4

Scripture Book Mark WORD
Mathew 4:4 Key Word is WORD

I need to continue to work on my lettering.  I may have to resort to printing letters and transferring them to the bookmark.   Rather than laminate,  I put the painting in a bookmark case, looks nice that way too.  I am not so sure I like the lime sherbet colors, but it is summer so that may be the influence here.

13 July 2018 Philippians 2:9-11

Watercolor Book Mark with Key Word Confess from Philippians 2:9-11
Philippians 2:9-11

I tried something new today, I printed out the word and then used a fine pointed pen to trace the word.  The tracing left an indent in the watercolor paper so I didn’t have to use a pencil mark.  I didn’t realize it was a 300 lb paper until I started to paint, this paper soaks up the pigment rather than letting it flow so it is a more solid paint, something else to fix.

I am going to end this weeks book mark and start another one for next week.  I thought this was going to be a quick and easy project, but no, I still have a lot to learn.

Nana Kate handing out cards in a graphic image
Talking by S.M.W.

In January of 2017 after a challenge from my art instructor, David Becker (http://davidrbecker.com)

I thought I would try to sell prints online by signing up with a Print on Demand company.   It sounded so easy and would be a great way to make a little money on my paintings because after a while one just doesn’t have enough friends and family who want your stuff. 

I started to do a little research and found the book “How to sell your Art Online” https://theabundantartist.com/ .  Perfect, that was  all I needed and I would be on my way to greatness.  It would be so much easier to work from home, not to worry about weather with outdoor art fairs.  I would not have to talk to people and be sociable and smile a lot.  I could sit home, paint and put money in the bank.

That kind of naive thinking is the same as finding a pill to make you lose weight.  Oh yes, I am still looking for that pill, but with very low expectations.  But with the sale of art online, I was really thinking this might work, after all, Amazon sells everything online, why couldn’t I do that too.

I read the book, created my web page (it took 6 months for my slow technological learning curve to come up with the most rudimentary website) and then I started to take the Abundant Artist classes.  Well, guess what, the selling online only works if you talk to people.

Selling art anywhere is just like any other business, you actually have to talk to people.  You have to create relationships with people so they get to know you and want to help you grow your business.  Some people like to buy from you just because they like you, Who knew?  Some people actually like your art and your message, but mostly they need to feel comfortable with the person before they will invest in your work.

How disappointing to realize that word of mouth continues to be the best form of sales even in this age of social media that is suppose to increase how we are all connected.  I suppose I should not have been so surprised, Jesus, a pretty good role model, knew that you need to start with a few good men, specifically, eleven, and teach them everything about yourself.  Then when they meet other people they can pass the message along and eventually after a couple thousand years everybody will know your name.  The system works.  I guess I have to start by getting a few good men (or women).

Bee Balm in Prairie

The inspiration for my watercolor paintings has generally come from things I see or ideas that have come into my head.  Once and a while I have been asked to come up with a card for a special occasion such as a birthday or wedding and I have struggled with that because the person requesting has an expectation on the outcome that I may not be able to satisfy.  So, when several people approached me about creating a card that could be used as a Sympathy card, I wasn’t very eager to take on that challenge.

I truly admire those greeting card writers that can come up with just the right words that can sooth and comfort, that is truly a gift.  I struggle with knowing what to say to people that have suffered the loss of someone they love. 

I have been told my family lacks the “tact gene”, so whenever I go to visitations, I fear I will say something terrible that will ban me from entry to all funeral homes.  More likely than not, the family comforts me more than I do them.  There is song that talks about that very thing called “Faith Like That” by Gordon Mote.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnNLsf1UcWE

Watercolor painting of a fallen tree and stump with light streaming into woods.
Fallen Tree 5 March 2018

In spite of my “tact” deficiencies, I decided to try and discover an image that would honor the person who has passed and comfort the family.  I thought about a fallen tree and how the tree’s legacy continues on long after it has fallen by enriching the soil, providing protection for animals and opening light into the forest floor for new growth.  You can see part of the painting in this image.  But it just wasn’t working for me.  So, I am on a new path and hopefully it will be better.

Bee Balm or Monarda initial watercolor washes
Bee Balm initial washes 13 Mar 20

I do my best work with flowers and looked for flowers associated with sympathy.  I came up with Balm of which the Bee Balm is included.  Bee Balm or Monarda or Bergamot can be a wild flower and found in prairies.  Well it just so happened that my son’s family planted a prairie on their farmette and I had taken some pictures of the Bee Balm.  So I have proceeded with this safer approach and hopefully the “Prairie Story” I hope to write will meet the needs of my fellow Extraordinarians.

I think I am very close to completing the painting, but the message will need some work.  If anyone has any words of wisdom for me, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a direct email, I am very open for advice.

Bee Balm or Monarda watercolor Painting in process
Bee Balm or Monarda Prairie Flower in Process
Bee Balm or Monarda watercolor Painting
Bee Balm final painting

This is a picture of the finished painting.  It took a little longer than i thought, I took a little time off for myself and get away for awhile.  The painting is easier than the writing and I am praying that I will have inspiration that will help me find the right words.  I hope you will pray along with me as well. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnNLsf1UcWE

Ten years ago my husband and I downsized to a duplex unit adjacent to my parents so we could assist them during my father’s struggle with cancer.  My parents owned the duplex and gave us free reign to redecorate to our liking.  That being said, it is still a rental and we didn’t want to change more than was necessary.  On a wall in the main living area the prior renters had placed a drywall screw to hang a picture, in a reasonable area and reasonable height and rather than remove it I said let’s just use it, so we left that drywall screw right where we found it, about five feet up and two feet from the edge of the wall.

I suppose that doesn’t seem like such a big deal and it wasn’t for awhile.  I just adapted my decorating to the screw location.  I became very inventive over time.  Each year at Christmas I came up with a new idea for a flat Christmas tree.  One year it was a bunch of walnut twigs from our back yard with electric votive candles.  The next year I made a flat tree and covered it with Christmas paper and added Christmas cards.  And so it went for ten years. 

Then one morning I was lying in bed and thinking about that screw and how I had let it dictate my life for ten years.  I had limited my choices not only for decorating but for how I would arrange my life because of a stupid screw.  I woke up and told Dave (husband), “I want you to take that screw out of the wall”.  He didn’t over react to such an abrupt idea because he is well aware of my spontaneous projects and got out the screw driver and instantly removed the screw.  Well it didn’t even leave a mark that needed to be filled.  It was a new freedom, I could move the TV, hang pictures, create a whole new living space just by removing a screw and it didn’t take me long to get started.

Within a few weeks I had completely rearranged the wall into a gallery.  Now I have a chalk board for listing all the things I think are extraordinary, I mounted a small Alaskan ivory muskox in a diorama with a painting I had given my dad, and displayed some of my own art prints along with a few select art pieces I had collected.  Now we have a focal point in our room that includes more than just a TV screen.   The question still remains, why did I wait so long?

Gallery Wall displaying current art work and Extraordinary list
Gallery Wall

Dave and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary on the 31st of December.  It seemed like a milestone for two people on their second marriage, so we had a bit of a celebration.  My bridal bouquet was made up of Star

Gazer Lilies, so I ordered my centerpiece to include these lilies and supporting flowers.  It was beautiful and I thought it would be a great subject for my next painting.

It is difficult to find lighting that would be dramatic enough to capture all the colors, but one late afternoon, the sun was coming in from the west window and streamed over my work table giving a brief moment of light that was so dramatic it looked perfect.  So I started what I think I will be calling “Celebration Bouquet”. 

 

I cropped the picture so I could make a painting the would be vertical on the card.  It also reduced the number of flowers I had to paint, because this is looking pretty complicated.  I used a masking fluid to keep some of the areas white for later, so they look kind of blue like in this picture.

I am trying a new method of adding color, slowly building with light washes so progress is a bit slower, but I hope to have a more intense color when I am done, it just takes a little more patience.

Today, Jan 24, 2018, I included some darker background on the bottom so I could get a better idea of where my edges were going to be and worked on the dark purple carnation.  I am having difficultly getting definition of the petals in the carnation, but they are kind of in the background so they will probably not be the center of attention. 

 

I will continue to add to this blog until I finish the piece.  I hope to have this in a card format by February, maybe late Feb.   I think it will be great card for any kind of happy occasion.

Jan 31, 2018 update.  As you can see, even with a weeks worth of painting, I usually work on the pictures at least four days a week for about two hours.  You have to let the paper dry in between additions of color, but you can work in different sections as it dries.  That is why some areas look finished and some are just starting. I made the picture a bit larger so you can see it better.

 

Star Gazer 06 Feb 2018

06 Feb 2018 update

I have been working on the carnation in the upper right side, I have never painted a carnation.  I wasn’t sure how to approach it at first and did a little research.  It needs more work but I think I have the foundation in place.  It is tough at this point because I have invested a lot of time, so there is a fear of messing it up with some weird accidental stroke of the brush.  There are ways to repair watercolor, but they are never as good as fresh paint, so maybe you would pray that I can keep going without too many mistakes.  Thanks for staying tuned in.

14 Feb 2018 update

This is the last update I will be posting.  I am almost done, but I don’t want to give away the finished picture until it is in card form.  Thank you for watching the progress, It has taken a lot longer than I thought, but I think it is pretty dramatic.  Now all I have to do is  come up with a message, but that requires a few prayers and some outside help.

Celebration Bouquet

They say that people read blogs because bloggers have some sort of expertise on their subject matter.  If that

Nana Kate doing web research
Nana Kate Searching by SMW

is the case, then I should know something about starting an art business.  Well I do know something about starting an art business, but I don’t know much about whether the art business will be successful.  The reality is, I just started in July (officially when I registered with the state for sales taxes).  I don’t know what will happen, I am still learning.   I am going through the process with you so we can learn together.   After all, like my husband says, “Everyone is good for something even if it is just to provide a bad example.

This isn’t my first business, before this I sold Mary Kay, Magic Mill wheat mills, ran my own health food store, made and sold living wreaths and worked for six years as a regulatory affairs consultant.  The only connection with all of these was a desire to run my own business.  So here I am again, starting another business, this time with art.

I did pretty well with the regulatory consulting business and a lot of the success was getting a good mentor.  I was approached by another consultant to help her with a heavy work load.  She provided me with some initial work, helped find the right networking groups, and introduced me to new opportunities.  I also spent a lot of time researching and obtaining training in my field so that I could present myself as a qualified expert.

So, with that in mind, I started doing my research.  It is a lot easier now to do research, you just have to turn on the computer and Google.  I spent a lot of time looking for help and I found Cory Huff and The Abundant Artist, https://theabundantartist.com.  He has a book called “How to Sell Art Online” and I felt I had found the Holy Grail.  This is what I needed to get my business going.  Not only did he have a book, he had classes to provide further training on just the type of sales I wanted to do, online. 

I am very happy with the knowledge I have gained from Cory Huff, I haven’t completed all the course work yet, but my website was a direct result of the suggestions he has laid out in his programs.   And now, he has set up a new art group that allows us to share our experiences, so I have access to even more counselors.

August Work in Progress

In June I attended a birthday party for my grandchildren at a farm outside of town that had a menagerie of animals that the

Peony and Thistle Source Photo

children could play with.  It was an older farm that wasn’t being actively managed and some the garden areas had been neglected.  Near one of the outbuildings was a grouping of peonies that were competing with the bull thistles.  My step-daughter and I immediately  knew this was a special opportunity to show the “beauty and beast” of life.

I started to paint this picture in July, but I am not very skilled at painting white flowers.  Trying to get the soft shading on the petals and still have the flower appear white was hard and I ruined the first attempt.  I guess that will be called the practice painting.  So I regrouped and I made the picture a little more defined, trying to show the thistle pricks more clearly and came up with a better layout.

Pricks and Petals First Washes

The first wash of the new painting started out pretty well and I was liking the detail.

I have added more intensity to the thistle at the this time, but now I have to move to the peony and frankly I have been a little hesitant.  I have a certain fear factor of messing up a good thing.  I haven’t touched the painting in couple of weeks and told myself I had other stuff that is more pressing, but that is just fear.

Watercolor of a peonia
Pricks and Petals Aug 2017

But that is what Pricks and Petals is about, fear is a form of pain that stops you from moving forward and enjoying the beauty of life.  What I need to do now is let go of control, give this project to God with open hands and trust on the Lord because He is the one that has given me the gift of creativity and He is the one that opened my eyes to this wonderful message, so He is the one that will help me accomplish my goal if it is His will.  In fact, I think today will be the day I will start again, praying continuously that it will turn out to be a blessing to me and to you.

Stay tuned, I hope to have this card available in the card shop by the end of September, I think it will be well worth waiting for.

Pricks and Petals Card

Close up photo of a Pole Bean Flower
Pole Bean Flower

One morning I looked over to our pole bean trellis and saw this tiny little flower that was the sweetest violet-pink color.  Normally I would have just walked past it to my car, but that morning the pink caught my eye and drew me in closer.  It was as if the Holy Spirit was whispering to me, “Come over here, I want to show you something special.”   

As an Extraordinarian, I was obligated to investigate this flower even further, so I took this close up photo with my husband’s help.  It was so beautiful.  In some ways it seemed so frivolous on God’s part to make such a lovely, tiny flower, just to turn it into a green bean.  The real tragedy though is most people probably would never see this little wonder.

That is why I decided to sell cards.  I felt like I had a mission to expose the extraordinary, but if I only sold original paintings or even prints, I would only be able to get my message out to a small group.  If I sold cards, many more people would be able to see the paintings and would have the ability to read about the inspiration for their creation.

I suspect my choice is not the path of great monetary wealth, but each time I look closer at one of God’s creation I am filled with an abundance of His Love that could never be purchased with earthly riches.   I think that is pretty Extraordinary too.

Nana Kate

Leaning In

Leaning In illustration
Leaning In by Granddaughter S.W.

 

One Sunday morning our Pastor was talking about his decision to take on a position in a different church.  The process to move or stay involved a lot prayer, but it also involved “leaning in “ to the decision.  It wasn’t a quick yes and go, it was a process of elimination, checking out the options.  At each step a decision was made and a new door opened or closed until eventually everything fit into place.

I never really thought about creating an art business, I just liked painting and making cards for people.  In the summer of 2016, I took a watercolor workshop put on by Dave Becker.  I had a wonderful time and learned more than I will be able to remember.  During that workshop I was asking the other painters what did they do with all their paintings.  Most of them worked for fun, some placed them in local galleries and some had websites, but not many were actively trying to sell their work. 

I hadn’t sold any of my paintings and I was beginning to have quite a few that looked pretty good.  I had been creating Christmas cards for fifteen years.  I also made cards of encouragement for friends.   I would put a message on the back and people seemed to like these cards for both the painting and the message.  Several people started asking if I sold them and I said they were just for fun, but it started my “leaning in” process.

I am still “leaning in”, still trying to figure our how to start an art business. I am hoping to help others by writing down my process.  I have been leaning since January 2017 and hope to have my business running with some income by my retirement in February of 2018.  In future blogs I will tell you how I started my business and maybe you can help me get it going. 

Thank you for visiting,

Nana Kate