Here are my top three ways to get organised in 2019
A friend of mine has just posted on Facebook that they "have their accountant's hat on" doing their books for the year and she feels like her head is about to explode!
Doing the books is probably my least favourite job each month, but at least it means that my accounts are up to date and my tax return will be sent jolly soon, rather than waiting 'til the last minute!
It's true. I'd rather be painting.
I think sometimes, when I proudly tell people I'm an artist, they have grand romantic schemes that artists sit around in cafes, drinking wine, and discussing philosophy, politics and art all day. Then suddenly the muse will strike and they will head back to the leaky garrett and create the next masterpiece ready for the salon to judge in the next season! Perhaps the modern English reality isn't that artists are sitting about in those cafes all day, but I'm still fairly convinced that lots of my friends think my life consists of getting up late, faffing about all day, taking the dog for a walk in the evening, seeing a beautiful sunset and heading back to the studio and magically painting it.
The reality simply isn't the same. And I'm not complaining one bit. My artistic life is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy it but it's definitely hard work. There is a big difference between sauntering along a country lane considering the beauty of the sky whilst the dog sniffs around in the hedge, Compared to lugging your easel and painting equipment about, then setting up for a day of en plein air painting.
Concentration is required to really analyse the landscape around you. Sketch after sketch, considering light, colour and composition. The sketches produced on those en plein air days will help you in the studio the next day, the next week or even next year.
Most recently I've completed a commission for a couple of beautiful white park cattle (I'll blog about that in more detail next week). The starting point for the commission was visiting the farm to see the cows in all their glory and getting some reference photos and sketches.
I don't mind admitting that I came home covered in mud....only it wasn't just mud.
I'll leave that there I think.
A couple of weeks ago I was blogging about art fairs. Whilst they have, thus far, been very successful for me this year, they are hard graft. Loading, unloading, standing up for three days selling your wares, doesn't fit into the romantic/starving artist myth.
But hey, a girl's gotta eat and if I paint it, I have to sell it too.
The business of running a business is interesting, varied and exciting.
It definitely doesn't involve swanning about in a Parisienne cafe...more's the pity!
In fact, I'm just about to log in to a webinar about effective online marketing...it'll probably tell me to write to blog!
Picasso said "The muse may strike at any time, but she must find you working"
Since turning pro and being a full time artist this has been my mantra. The art world is littered with other beautiful art quotes which still amount to the same thing. Stop faffing about and get on with it!
The thing is that work, consistent work, constant effort, making mistakes, and making discoveries can lead to great inspiration, and great work. Picasso is right.
People still have grand romantic schemes that artists sit around in cafes, drinking wine, and discussing philosophy, politics and art all day. Then suddenly the Muse will strike them and they will head back to the leaky garret and create the next masterpiece ready for the salon to judge next season! Perhaps the modern English reality isn't that artists are sitting about in cafes all day instead life consists of getting up late, taking the dog for a walk, seeing a beautiful tree leaning over a river and heading back to the studio and magically painting it.
The reality is different.
I'm not complaining one bit.
My artistic life is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy it, but it's definitely hard work. There is a big difference between sauntering along a country lane considering the beauty of the sky while the dog sniffs around in the hedge, compared to lugging your easel and painting equipment, setting up for a day of en plein air painting. Serious concentration is required to really analyse the landscape around you. Sketch after sketch, considering light, colour, composition. The sketches produced on those en plein air days will help you in the studio the next day, the next week or even next year you can work from those sketches.
Here comes the muse, and there you were, working. That's why she came!
Part of the problem with artists' block is thinking that we must find something completely new and original. Modest subject matter won't be enough to sate our artist need. Not true.
While I'm writing this I am listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing "It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it" and she's right too.
There isn't a monopoly on painting landscape, or a beautiful flower, or a still life of fruit. We can choose to paint anything, we can find inspiration anywhere, it's what we bring to the party ourselves that makes our treatment of the subject matter interesting.
That constant work while waiting for the muse is how we find our voice.
It's about our style, it's about how we create that landscape or how we capture that moment.
The artists I know don't magic a masterpiece out of the air.
It comes from graft, and craft.
We have to think about it, study it, experiment with it; we have to let it brew inside our minds and then find the techniques and skills put onto the page what our mind has already seen.
I have just revisited my Right-brain business plan, and I am amazed at how much this has helped me plan my business. I started using on Jennifer Lee’s book "The Right Brain Business Plan" a couple of years ago. Back then, it was purely theoretical.
My life has changed, and now I’m full time self-employed and loving every minute. And I thought it was probably time to re-visit my plan.
The concept of the right brain business plan is for creative people (supposedly Right Brained thinkers) to get their heads around the problems of going into a successful business. Businesses require planning, businesses require an understanding of the bottom line, and having a strategy.
Jennifer Lee’s Right brain business plan book, allows creative types to work in their naturally creative way whilst still working towards a sensible achievable business plan.
Deep down I think the way we can all achieve more, and use our brains more effectively is to use both sides of the brain. But when you consider how “left brained” and activity writing a business plan is; spreadsheet on sales and expenditure, net and gross profit, legal issues etc etc. It makes sense to be more creative in the planning stages, before you get to the formal written part.
There are lots of techniques to use, Jennifer is a particular fan of collage, but you can use all sorts of visual stimuli to help you understand what your real business values are.
The right brain business plan isn't a walk in the park though, you really have to drill down and work out what it is you're offering your customers, who your customers are, and how you are going to manage the moolah! You have to do considerable research; no SWAGs allowed (silly wide-assed guesses).
My business plan incorporates a variety of techniques. I began with an accordion book collage, my first collage was created two years ago and I've stuck with the basic principles I created then. However almost everything else in my plan has now been re-vamped.
I have to consider my core values; what really makes me tick in business. I have to consider who my ideal customers are and how I should speak to them. How should I get the word out beyond spending lots of money on advertising; there has to be a more creative way to find out where my customers are and how I can send them a clear message.
You have to be really specific to with your business plan, no vague ideas allowed! I have to make sure I have all my action steps in place and a date for when those action steps will be achieved, that way I increase my chances of success considerably.
I also have a section on ‘milestones’. When will I be able to celebrate those little victories when I have achieved what I set out to do.
Like all business plans you have to face up to the reality of making money. You can be creative in the way that you make the money but you still have to to address the problem of spreadsheets.
My business spreadsheets and business accounts do not appear on my visual business plan board but they are addressed in the book and I found it extremely helpful to approach them in a creative way. It keeps me inside my comfort zone when I'm feeling least comfortable!
My big Right brain business plan board also begins to cover Jennifer's second book “Building your business the right brain way”.
I have mapped out my Entrepreneurial ecosystem. This again looks at my core values, it looks at what I offer my customers, and how I can attract them. It also makes me consider how I can be supported by other experts in my field.
It also helps you plan your year ahead, sometimes thinking in terms of the seasons can be extremely helpful if you're selling creative merchandise. Mapping out Mothering Sunday, Valentines day and Bonfire night are all opportunities to reach your customers with seasonal merchandise.
Sometimes you can get lost in the myriad of things you have to do as a solo entrepreneur. The Right brain business plan helps me prioritise what I should be doing and when. It stops me getting lost. It's not so much a plan, its a map! Its a visually stimulating, inspirational map that can keep me on track.
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