Posts Tagged ‘business plan’

Bettye W. Harwell

Drawing using pencils, metallic silver on toned and printed paper
Cropped image scanned onto white background. My son (though he would deny it.)

Today, I was once again, trying to organize paper, just paper.  I am ready to write. I tell myself over and over, I will write today.

Today as I was sorting to gather all of the last 2 years of research  on my latest women series (more to come), I kept finding jottings and sketches and ephemera. Ephemera includes articles , photos, preliminary and just-because sketches.

This sketch is one of the few efforts to record my boys. Their personalities escape me visually. The girls I know visceral. Been there. Done that.

I thought today, this is not bad in capturing him or someone like him. A subject can see his/her  own image interpreted by the artist, and deny any relationship. Which is OK. Often the person grows into the painting. Sometimes they are so familiar with their faces in the mirror, reversed that they cannot imagine another angle.

I have done self-portraits, precariously clinging on the bathroom face bowl while checking the mirror. Who is that old lady and why is she staring at me? Happy Halloween.

I am researching an artist of mixed race, dating 1800s. One critic of her work describes her as having white features from the eyes up, and signs of her other parentage by her thick lips and coffee-colored skin.  The comments are from another long-gone era but echo today. This gifted lady was reduced by this critic to her ethnicity and not her talent. (Fortunately she received fame and some fortune with her talent.)

Who knew?

With all of the tools we have for organization, it is still difficult to organize paper. What if you throw away something you will need? Once the piles are made, then what? My papers are all sizes, all subjects, all precious. I find at the mid-pont, that I cannot remember which pile is for what. And today, I took this sketch to the computer to share with you as a way of preserving it.

Did you know?

I have been a sometime blogger for a long time. Last year I sold one of the women series  (Rosa Bonheur).  I have been working on these paintings for nearly three years. Selling one put a lot of pressure on me to determine what the exit strategy would be to complete the series.

I decided that for an exhibit, 30 paintings would be the magic number. So I have been for months  selecting the last ones. Every time I counted, the number to-do seemed to expand. Now I am up to choosing the final two. My list of good choices has grown beyond any definite closing number. I am committed to 30 or maybe 31 because of the sale. Pretty sneaky, I say.

Those of you who show and sell your work will understand that just finishing the work is not the end. Documentation, promotion, framing, if paintings, etc. Where was that business plan, carefully written last year?  I know that my iPad chews up the very data I have stored.

Getting organized

1. Put all of the pertinent files in one place.

2. Keep your reference material close at hand. I have accumulated, books, articles and online information.

3. Make a format that will set the style for each painting. Later you can adapt for promotional requirements.

4. Have that place where you can think and write which has lights, water and a way of telling time.

5. Take a break periodically whether you want to stop or not.

6. Do not think and write. Write and then come back to edit. If you know something is not accurate, mark it, write a question, or in some way leave yourself a note.

7. When you are certain, ask someone to read it, read it aloud to yourself or someone else, tape it and play it back. The flow will not show up at first.

Now, if I can just follow my own suggestions…and file those papers off the floor.



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"Gone Fishin'"Birthday Opportunities

Each year we get two special days to review our lives and to make changes: New Year’s Day and your birthday. My recent celebration reminds me of when Mr. Stockdale asked Why am I here? My question was What have I still to do?

The answer is a long list of things to finish and things to begin. Two years ago on New Year’s Day, I realized my research notes and art works were in no condition to be understood by anyone. Not even my co-researcher daughter who collaborated with me on genealogy. Not even my artist friends. And so I made organization a priority.

Ha, how am I doing? Not as well as I had hoped. I have reasons and excuses. First, my priority changed. Maybe veered. The body took the top of the list. It has taken two full years to get my body in line with my mind. Aging makes the need for balance in both walking and thinking. I am happy to say that I understand what makes me more productive and am fortunate to free up my schedule for work. And for me, work is fun!

My goals post birthday are:
1…to acknowledge what I have accomplished.
My studio work continues to impress and challenge. More subjects for my Women Series are discovered often, and I have started the writing needed. (biographical and marketing).
I am studying and producing work in new (to me) media including encaustic.

2…to finish what I start.
WordPress followers are my daily routine. i have my favorites, but all provide nuggets for a curious mind. I reblog or comment often even if my posts are neglected. And so time has to be set aside for any and all online commitments. I have signed up for a few that I have no idea how they work. And unfortunately the ‘improvements’ often do not work for me. Oh, to have some of the older apps!

3…with each work in process, find a place for it.
Plastic storage helps me see what I am working on.
Clear my workspaces at least at the end of the week. I like to leave the next week’s work laid out with notes. When I come in, I will be ready to start.
Group supplies and tools near the workspace where they will be used.
Make notes on where things are to save hours of searching.

4…personal time is work time.
If you are not healthy and sleep sufficiently, you can not have needed balance. People who work for themselves cannot remember where the time went. When I worked for the Girl Scouts of Chicago, my daily schedule was kept in three blocks. We worked so many nights, in meetings or training, that we tried to leave blocks open to prevent unnecessary overtime. When this was not possible, I had the time for school activities or sick children. I could take time off for vacations or me-time. Now I must remember to give myself permission to work or not. We should not feel guilty about making time for friends and shopping!

Soon the next day for evaluation will come and I will see how I am doing. The next few months will give you time for assessing what you need in your life for happiness.

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The  decision to go public

Wordsmiths and artists of all disciplines reach a point where they want to share their work beyond family and friends. For each, the reasons are personal and varied. Finding the right venue to meet your goals is one step. But not the first.

Any route you take requires a body of work. Roger Curtis, famous for his seascapes, told his students not to enter classwork in exhibitions. He would embarrass anyone caught doing  it. He would ask a student before demonstrating on her painting. Thus it was not completely your work.

Presentation is the key.

Do you have your painting properly framed for exhIbition. Works on paper require mats and glass. Now wider stretcher bars allow Work on canvas to be unframed. Still the edges must be painted. Is the subject matter suitable for a general audience?

Online  galleries

You may have a full gallery on a website or just a few paintings.  Use the best images to showcase your work. If you are not a good photographer, ask someone to do it. Today digital images are most desired.

Review your submissions with a critical eye.  Others will judge you and compare your art to others.  Now that you are sharing your art and writing with the world, are you satisfied with  the presentation?

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Green Hat with Embellishments

Hat Lady Series

Sink or Swim

Sometimes it takes a friend to sing your praises to make you get into the water. I do it for others and now it has happened to me.

Do you drive looking at the yellow line?

That is a good way to avoid accidents, but you also can miss the businesses along the way. Yesterday I delivered cards to a wonderful store a few blocks from my studio. A friend had been singing my praises there. It was time to make the contact and introduce myself. Now I have stepped up to make a place to show my paintings and cards that no one will see tucked into my studio.

The hat ladies were a commission. Each is an original. Once I got started I wanted to become a hat designer. Whoa, Nellie.

But I will continue making these images for awhile. They will be in this nearby shop (which I can promote) and on my fineartamerica website. Tomorrow I will show some of the miniature hats I made a few years ago. Best I stick to painting!

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over ...

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over the River Doe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who knew?

The proprietor and I had both worked for the Girl Scouts! Even if you feel shy about approaching someone for a business deal, there can be a common denominator to make both people feel comfortable.

What do you say to your friend who encourages you? Thanks and maybe lunch?

It is not necessary or even safe to go leaping into situations. Study the pros and cons, and take a chance with baby steps. Share your knowledge with others and they will be tempted to sing your praises,too. (Thanks, Toni.)

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by B. W. Harwell

Missed opportunities?
This idea crosses my mind occasionally. Not with any regret, but with evaluation. Today one of the c-span programs made me think of being or not being rich.  One of the segments was about Watermark West Rare Books, a company in Wichita, KS.
The man being interviewed talked about the change of direction his store is taking due to the lack of interest in book collecting. Ephemera is being sought as an alternative. He showed a small scrapbook found in an estate sale. It appeared to me to be hand bound pages approximately 5 x 7. It had belonged to an unidentified young woman and was really old.
The entries done by the owner were carefully cut-out photos from newspapers and magazines. The ones shown were mostly men in various poses and possibly cartoons. I thought maybe she was an artist using these as models. She included a few women whose dresses she had hand painted in watercolor. This item reminded me of samplers or the autograph books of my day.
Hand written entries were on either side of the pages. They were copies of selected texts of famous writers. Each entry is signed and dated by one of her friends. The interviewer was excited to show and discuss a ‘disc’ hidden behind a posted image. He pulled it out by a tab.
The small circular paper has an inner circle on which the entire Lord’s Prayer is written. Around it are other circles with feathered edges. All of this was hand cut. They were able to locate the person who did this piece of artwork. She was a person who was born with missing limbs. He stated that they have no idea how this was done.
It reminded me of the journals I had been keeping (before WordPress) with some attempts at decorating the pages with sketches I had cut from worthless drawings, words and ideas on envelopes and tea stained paper. I used innovative folds with hidden spaces. I liked what I was doing but am not able to make the complicated scrapbooks of today.
That leads me to the first idea when I missed the boat. I frankly did not see the potential interest in nor the innovative industry that would follow from scrapbooking.
The other idea that was a gem: t-shirts. I was not the only person failing to value them as a money-maker. Look back and read the early commentary on t-shirts. It was a fad and would soon fade away.
Who knew?
What is the role of an individual, a parent, a counselor in setting goals? The adults around me were struggling to get through the week or month. They set college goals for us as a way to support ourselves. We were fortunate that the money, work and scholarships made that dream a possibility.
Even though some were business people, even entrepreneurs, they did not see success as either in business nor as a goal in itself. I remember my shock when young people started evaluating job offers based on a pension plan! I had left pension savings, where they  existed, because I would never need that small amount. Once I drew mine down and bought a washer and dryer. When my husband left teaching for business, we drew his down and invested in our first piece of ‘real’ art. Nothing like being long-term planners!
Emphasis in our lives was to become decent human beings, support our children and to contribute to society. There are no excuses for leading that kind of life. It is the basis for being super rich.
Image: Oil painting based on sermon by Rev. Howard Thurman
Title:  I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a man who had no feet

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Friday Specials –
Time Capsule

What is our time worth? The continuing discussion of women’s work is discouraging.

Who knew?

We have accepted that there is not enough money to compensate women. (more…)

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Artist: B. W. Harwell

Become a Business?

Not all artists want to sell their work. Those visual artists who want opportunities to  sell must apply creativity and business skills. Preparation for a one-person show must allow for framing and promotion.  Some of the best outlets are online. Select from those where artists are selling and not just getting exposure.

Artists are very generous in sharing their resources. Some ideas will work for you. You can  teach, study, or volunteer (WordPress?) while building an audience. Weigh the  costs in time and money so that you get results. Musicians have a union which assists in getting work and setting recommended standards of pay. Visual artists do not have that luxury.

My friend, Greg Ridley, most often said, “Get in your studio and work.”


A thank you to the subscribers, followers and  casual readers.It has been a fun experience to share my thoughts.  Also, the comments of encouragement, have been unexpected and appreciated.

Who knew?

Special occasions are opportunities to send cards to special people in your life. Some of the most creative and beautiful online are Jaquie Lawson’s animations.



If you are not reading the poetry on Narcissus, Hibiscus and Mandrake, subscribe  to  that blog and get the poems in your email. Of course, you can click on the blogroll.

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