As mentioned in a previous post, I’m keeping my Etsy shop alive with a maximum of 13 listings, and each listing description has a simple invitation to view more artwork on my website.
Yesterday I made the most of having completed my first participation at The Sketchbook Project and shared the finished pages across social media and my website. (You can see them here.) In the process, seeds of ideas sprouted in my head and now added direction to the artworks I will make, as well as the creative practice I will build into my days.
It is Saturday today and I’m still undecided whether to go on an Artist Date and do a supply run (more accurately, I need to decide whether I cold afford ether or both). Yesterday I successfully did a trial print of postcards on a different kind of paper (less expensive but as good as the previous). Now I need to buy more of that paper so I can start making the art bundles for my patrons. I’m also thinking I really need to get started too on replenishing my stationery products and be able to open the shop with a full inventory.
There’s a big sale on art supplies at one of my favourite art shops and it’s only until Wednesday. I want to get more of the Mijello paints but I can’t afford to right now (and likely not for quite a while unless sales peak for some reason). This morning my sister and I had an interesting conversation over coffee about how most people won’t probably get how we can live the way we do – without security and stability as most people would define it. The subject seems worthy of a whole separate post. Maybe I’ll write it.
Have a good weekend, everyone!
It all builds up. That’s what I hold on to these days.
The other day I made an unexpected sale on my Etsy shop — remember that i had planned to shut it down once all the current listings have expired? Well, slight change of plans. The unexpected sale made me decide instead to keep my Etsy with a small number of items available — 13 maximum — at all times. Only original paintings that can be shipped abroad so nothing larger than A3, and nothing too complex or fragile to withstand the long distance travel. Recently too there have been new favourites that registered for the shop and a few items. So perhaps it is better to still be present in Etsy but in a less costly arrangement.
This is the original painting that got sold:
Meanwhile, small serendipities led to a full cleaning and rearrangement of my tiny studio which now makes it a very comfortable space to work in. I may have finally hit upon the best arrangement for it to let my work flow with the least pain, distraction, and obstruction.
The unexpected receipt of a new old desk was the key to getting everything else in the studio to fall into their places. I hope this favourable synchronicity reflects into the larger schemes of my daily life.
The clearing up of so many stagnant corners seems to have unblocked some writing paths and only now do I discover that Scrivener has released a full update and upgrade and it’ll cost $25. I’ll have to find a way to scrape that amount together. (If you would like to help in any way, here’s how, or you could just directly send me a coffee or two )
I have to plan for a computer upgrade soon too — either get a new desktop or a new laptop or a new high-performing tablet. Any one can replace all my 8-year old equipment that have been lagging so badly that I could make myself a snack while waiting for a file to open. I need it for managing the website, the online shop, writing and doing the layout of my books, editing and printing my stationery products — in other words, it is a real need and not simply for leisure and entertainment. I also use it for day job project work when I have to do one — data processing and report-writing and emails.
I’m still on standby for my big breakthrough that will, at the very least, take care of all the basics of dally living. But maybe the breakthrough is not big and it is already happening. Maybe this blog post will trigger another tiny thing that will lead to another tiny thing and so on. Maybe in the end it is not so much as a breakthrough that I should look out for but a small sound of a small important thing finally falling into place. Or many tiny things falling into place, like the sound of much-awaited rain on a very thirsty earth.
I started off my Monday morning with writing in my journal that transitioned into a Mind Sweep. This week I intend to be super-productive in the studio and the shop. To make that happen I have to say it out “loud” so everyone’s energies will be aligned with mine.
I’ll be off the typical routines and my hours will likely be odd. I won’t let anything in that has nothing to do with the Garden and the Forest. (This means shop inquiries and transactions are always welcome, so do browse and buy!)
I’ve been caught up and stuck in some kind of obstacle course for the past few days and I could not seem to find the time nor the energy to stay put for long hours and make something happen in the studio. I also need to figure something out for fortifying my energy and stamina — starting with getting a decent pair of walking shoes that I cannot yet afford until I sell a few more paintings.
I always underestimate the time it takes to get things done and I think that always gives me a lot of stress. I pressure myself to do more everyday, to catch up on a series of self-imposed finish lines, because I often feel impatient with my progress, because for some reason the deadlines for paying bills seem to run at double time.
Yesterday I unexpectedly sold a painting and it gave me a bit of breathing room — I was able to buy groceries with less pinch and I was able to buy a few studio materials. Whatever’s leftover I’m putting into the household bills for July. It is exhausting to constantly put off things because there’s never enough money to go around, and especially when I’ve minimalised my life to the degree that I very rarely buy anything out of pure whim. Every planned purchase is a necessity, and every time it is a long wait. Sometimes I just cry out of sheer fatigue. And then I get up and do what needs doing according to my heart (because there are many other ways of interpreting what NEEDS doing).
So, yes, I sometimes whine a bit about the harsh and hard stuff of my life. I am aware I am better off than most. But each of us is on our own path and each is as important as the other. We follow the life path we need to. Not one is light or trivial. Every life has a gravity that no one else can bear. Every life gifted with a purpose. The trick is to not get distracted or destroyed in the process. The trick is seeing through the layered (and often material) clutter of the world and arriving at spirit, seeing beyond the finger that is actually pointing to the moon.
Trust the process. Know thyself. Be true and stay true. Follow your bliss. Never lose hope.
Finally got around to giving myself an Artist Date with minimal guilt (because of the expenses), and it was a good thing.
Happy to discover that the very cheap sketchbook I purchased a few weeks ago (unbranded, made in China, and sold in a generic stationery section of a department store) turned out to have good enough paper. The watercolours did not soak through, nor bleed.
I'm pleased with what spilled out, after many days of not being able to paint because I was prioritising the setting up and opening of the website shop.
I feel that I want to go out again today. Keep filling up pages and pages with paintings, drawings, and words. Like a wild gardening. See what takes root and grows into something more or something else.
For the past week, I’ve been hard at work in setting up my website shop. I wanted to integrate all the products with my art in one place so people can browse conveniently before deciding to buy. Instead of having to go to various partner sites just to check out what’s available, customers can just go to my website and see what’s on offer. I am also able to integrate the selling of my original artworks which I handle directly.
It was a tedious task and I stayed up late for many nights. And now it’s up and running and I am hoping that my labours would bring some fruit.
I’m closing down my Etsy shop once all listings have expired because right now I cannot afford the fees they charge, and they just announced that there are going to be some changes made that I suspect may not be too helpful for sellers like me who have yet to establish a strong core of customers.
You can visit the website shop here.
Here’s a sneak peek on some original artwork now available in the shop.
I also fixed my Support The Artist page and found a way to work with Paypal so that I cut out on the many layers of fees from Patreon and Ko-fi. (Ko-fi has no fees per se but to avail of the really useful features you have to subscribe to Gold which is a fixed monthly donation of $6 which in the end amounts to a fee of sorts, and I barely make that amount from Ko-fi myself.)
However, I’m keeping my Patreon and Ko-fi (non-Gold) accounts open in case some supporters feel more comfortable coursing through a well-established third-party.
If any of you want to consider giving help in any way (there are non-monetary options such as recommendations — very valuable because reach is a challenge for me right now, I need more people to see, and I need the people who need my art to see), you can visit here.
I realised that I need to make new pieces now that the shop is fully open and active. Not just paintings but also get started on the other items I want to explore further, such as handmade bookmarks, notebooks with handpainted covers, and other stationery. I also want to make a series of artworks that is meant to also raise funds for causes (my chosen causes are those on animal welfare and the environment). I want to be an active artist, someone who’s always working on something I believe in and passionate about every day, creating stories and stirring up hearts, moving people towards hope and inspiration and positive action.
I have a terrible feeling I am already too “ruined” to ever return to employed corporate work (my old life) with its values dissonant from my own. I have to make it and make things happen as an independent freelancer, somehow able to survive and thrive on the unpredictability and perceived instability of such a status. So if you feel you want to help in any way, please do so and I shall be eternally grateful.
To all the other independent artists out there, how are you doing? I hope you’re getting some good breaks and breakthroughs.
I am moving forward on energy that comes from a handful of important decisions. There is a lot of work involved to turn those decisions into actions and I find myself anxious but also determined and even somewhat excited at the prospect.
I’ve mentioned I have a website and this WordPress blog is basically like a secret backyard to it, where the more raw and messy stuff (a.k.a. thoughts and such) happens. But that website is getting busy behind the scenes as I attempt to turn it into a keystone for my online network and engagement. I know I still have a lot to cover and accomplish but I want to improve my chances of being seen, recognised, discovered, appreciated, and supported. I want to open up for more interaction and relationships.
My intention is to establish myself as a full-time artist and writer who is able to support a decent life through my artworks and written works (and the combination of both). I started this path six years ago with a lot of trial and errors but there have also been lessons. I started from earning very little to earning enough to buy groceries and paying the electricity bill, and I hope to make it in such a way that I can earn enough to pay the rent and buy every necessity. Then maybe, earn a little bit more for some reasonable pleasures such as travelling, and even being able to go on small staycations.
While we are all waiting for the website to be its better self, you may be curious to see where else I am across the web:
Have a restful weekend, folks!
My studio is a small space under the stairs, with no windows and very little elbow or leg room. But I make do and I definitely prefer it over a well-furnished modern huge-windowed corner office in some corporate building.
This space constantly morphs into various arrangements depending on how I need it to be. Right now it’s set up for a lot of painting work waiting to be finished. Drawings are hanging in a line, art materials spread out within easy reach.
It’s Thursday, and for some reason, possibly because it’s Friday’s eve, I feel a little bit more energy to get things done. Mondays and Tuesdays are my weakest days, while Wednesdays often turn to impromptu midweek break days. But for the past days, I’ve fought through the drag and did a lot of project planning, plotting, and a lot of tedious admin work for all my online sites and shops. I am seeing slow and small improvements in reach, visits, and engagements but coming from being totally invisible, I am grateful for any teeny tiny spike in my site stats.
So today I aim to get properly started on the actual painting. Ideally to get at least two commissions done by the weekend (I currently have three in line) and boost up my cash funds. A paycheck from a day job project has not been released and it’s been a month and I’m close to scraping for coins. (Still, I’m not exactly jumping on to the next day job project…)
I have kitchen work today so I have to make time for that. Kitchen work means I cook food for myself, enough to last me a day or a day and a half. Lately, I’ve been craving a lot of spicy and strong flavoured Asian dishes. I recently had a make-do version of kimchi jjigae (김치 찌개).
How is your Thursday going so far?
This is my second time to participate, and I have more than enough time to finish it before the February 2019 deadline — or so I hope! I’m thinking of exploring the theme of Infinite Sketch and fill the pages with one long series of sketches in blue in various mediums. Something like this:
And then maybe thread one long string of words that is a poem that begins on the first page and ends on the last.
We’ll see. I’m not averse to changing my mind if a better idea presents itself.
So, you are currently reading my main blog. I figure I can’t really expect people to migrate to another site just to follow someone (or would they?). In any case, I’m currently testing a strategy of being present across various online spaces. Something like having “branches” where different sets of people are likely to gather. I have another blog at Wordpress and one on Blogger. The content is essentially the same, it’s just that people who are in the same space will be able to view and follow more easily, or subscribe to what’s more convenient. I’m doing the same for my print-on-demand shops.
A quick introduction for those who are newcomers to the site : I am a self-taught artist and a writer. I work from home. I have a freelance day job that helps pay the bills but my goal is to be able to sustain a decent living on my art’s income. I’m exploring the path of surface design as well as illustration, on top of the fine art gallery thing, and I am working on publishing illustrated poetry books and illustrated fantasy novels.
I blog to share my creative journey and process, share my artwork to reach potential buyers and custom clients, and have a space to talk to no one and everyone. If there’s anything art or creativity related topic you want me to write about (and assuming I can), let me know. :)
These are what I’ve finished so far within the month of May. I have more than 30 drawings in line for colour, all of which I sketched this month too. I have to draw three more which are all commissions, and start on colour painting this week.
The creatures are coming out, so will the beings that look a bit like us but not really.
The originals above will be listed in my Etsy shop in June, after the Free Shipping sale that will only be until May 31. You can wait for the listing or send me a message if you want to purchase directly (Paypal for international buyers, bank deposit or cash-on-pick-up for local buyers).
I finished the Sketchbook Project and sent it off on time.
I finally completed listing items on my Etsy shop. It's free shipping until May 31, and there's a range of items from handpainted bookmarks to art-printed blank cards to affordable art print postcards to original paintings. Drop by here and see if something catches you.
I've started on a 100-day project under the theme of Fieldnotes from the Wildforest.
I've also started on a commissioned piece although that one's taking more time than expected. I have to work out a system and setup for commission work.
I've done a bit of kitchen duty but I realise I can't do it for the whole household because the house hours are detrimental to my studio pace and process. I should just take myself out of the house equation and cook for myself in my own time. I really need to disengage from the routine of everyone else if I want to be able to make the kind of creative work progress that I want and need.
I need to do one proper solo Artist Date. The last was a hybrid with errands and a companion and that just never turns out the way I would have liked.
Today I'm a bit off-key. The summer heat is a pain. I still have one more kitchen duty for dinner and then I'm off and out of the whole household routine starting tomorrow.
I'm tempted to spend for a day at the coworking space for quiet, space, light, and airconditioning. But the commission work won't pay that much (because I didn't charge properly yet). We'll see.
Sometimes I miss my old place - a studio unit with big windows, quiet, and solitude that is perfect for doing the things I love to do. Except if I had stayed in that place I’d be too busy doing a job I don't love in order to keep the place and I would be unable to do what I love to do at all.
The tiny studio is not an ideal place during the summer. The intense brightness from the outside makes this windowless corner even darker in contrast. It also gets the full blast of the television noise which is frequently turned on from lunchtime until everning, with very short pockets of quiets in between.
The bedroom has good lighting because it has big windows but lacks floor space for me to set up even a small comfortable writing desk.
This morning I remembered that I used to work in the backyard when I had to do reports. I stopped because at some point it was no longer effective as an isolation space for dayjob tasks. But what if it works as an extension of the studio?
So I took my journal and coffee to the backyard to feel it out. Promising, so far. But I need a more efficient and orderly way to move my materials. I have to be quick when it suddenly rains — this year’s summer is also rainy, and the sky alternates from very bright to cozy grey in a matter of minutes.
I successfully completed a spread for The Sketchbook Project (after a few trips back and forth the indoor studio to get the materials I needed). I think I’ll need a spare electric fan for when there’s no breeze and the air starts to become stiflingly too warm.
I want to shut down for at least the first two weeks of May, and extend it as far as I can. By shutting down I mean absolutely no dayjob emails or tasks. Also very minimal social obligations. Minimal errands. I want to pour all attention to the art-making and story-making. I’ll stay out of Facebook and will only post as absolutely necessary on the art page, but mostly rely on the linked posts through Instagram. I want to work on my Etsy shop. I want to make new art pieces. For breaks I will read books and go out on simple Artist Dates. I am even thinking of disengaging myself from the house hours and routine — essentially just eat and sleep when I feel I need it and not just to comply with the routine. I want to eat what I want, prepare my own food if necessary. I want to get up in the middle of the night and start writing or painting if I am moved to do so. I want to nap at odd hours.
Next week I’ll work on a commissioned piece. And also close the deals on original paintings put on reserve. For a period I want to live as if I am already a full-time artist. I will probably try to make some pieces for a portfolio to send to a German company that a friend has advised me about. I’ll work on replenishing my stationery inventory.
First paycheck finally cleared so rent is safe for this month and the next. So little is left to cover other household bills. I am ever grateful for my Patreon patrons who help take care of studio needs. They’ll be getting nice packages by May — long overdue gratitude gifts.
Voice is fully back but still very rough. Maybe by the weekend I can dare to enjoy a coconut caramel ice blended drink, or a bingsu. 😃
I finished reading two books and making progress on a third. By end of May I should have caught up on my Goodreads challenge already -- and probably needing to buy more books (hehehe).
Two paychecks are clearing by end of the week so that should let me have a peaceful enough break, without the perpetual worrying on how the bills will get paid.
The remainder of this week will be filled with errands -- bank, post office, courier service, veterinarian, art supply shops (I can start making inventory again), fresh produce market.
The summer heat is a drag, though. I'm not a fan of summer. I work better in cold weather. Summer heat makes me lethargic and turns my brain to soup sooner than usual.
Voice is back but still sounding like an old lady monster. Energy not yet up to regular levels, I run out of battery more frequently than usual, and could not sustain late-night reading (gasp!)
I might be able to go on a proper Artist Date though, after going without for months or making do with compromised dates. Also the last few times I attempted to go I had to cut short because I started feeling ill from the sheer fatigue catching up with me as soon as I sat down and opened myself to a moment of rest. The exhaustion ate up the resting moment, and flayed my body with aches.
At least the studio is not as horribly messy as it usually is. I haven't done a pop-up since early March. What I need to do more of really is to make new pieces.
Maybe I'll start a new piece today.
I'll be tinkering with Stories too so drop by there sometime.
I have a dayjob meeting today but it is the kind of dayjob project that is a bit more flexible than the usual since it's a consultancy rather than a full project (research design/ implementation/ report). As consultant I engage primarily in discussions, make reviews on existing data, and make guidelines on how to do things based on my expertise.
Hence I do not expect it (I hope) to be as demanding as the recent dayjob projects. It was very demanding during the first few weeks (way back in December and January) because we were establishing the basics of things but now we are in the tweaking/finetuning stage.
In any case, the whole point is that after all the various toil and labour I am now owed THREE paychecks and I have the mind to take the whole of May off from dayjob duty while I wait to get paid and also to give myself time to fully recover from everything (including the recent flu and its remnant of a cough that has rendered me literally speechless.) I'm getting one paycheck today and that should tide me over for next month. I'll use it to reclaim some studio time and shop time.
As for shop time -- everything is free shipping at my Etsy shop until May 31 so do drop by and something magical might find you.
Five things on my priority list today and for the next few weeks:
1) Finish the Sketchbook Project and send off by courier on or before April 30.
2) Update the Art Portfolio and send to BGC Art Mart to complete my application and maybe still get a slot for the May setup.
3) Update and promote the Etsy sale. I'll be adding notecards and postcards this week, plus notebooks with hand-painted covers. Also thinking of extending it into an open studio sale kind of thing.
4) Launch my Commissions page and start accepting projects (as well as start and complete existing commissions).
5) Make that crucial step in changing my freelance/work status -- I'll start the process to be a properly registered artist under my own name with an official receipt and unify all freelance work under it.
The Sketchbook Project is making progress but I still feel a 50-50 chance of not making it to the deadline.
Regardless of whether I get to send it off of not, I am quite happy with how it's turning out. I've been wanting to explore the use of watercolor graphite and this was the perfect time to experiment since it does not bleed as much as watercolour, dries fast, and has a distinct character from sumi ink. I think I'll have a series of separate work with this medium and style later on.
My health has been a bit poorly because my rest keeps getting interrupted -- dayjob tasks, meetings, even house chores and errands. I seriously need a full vacation away from any form of duty except the ones required by my creative practice. I have neglected my creative practice far too long as it is. It, too, needs a full recovery and time to do its own work.
I'll close this post with a show-off of artworks from 2015 VS 2018. I like seeing how I am changing and getting better, no matter how small, no matter that until now not so many people "get" it, no matter that I am still more invisible than not.
Lost my voice due to a bad cough and overwork and stress. Last weekend I had flu. This weekend I have silence. Better, in a way, because at least I'll get to paint, perhaps. I must paint. Write. Make something. Make magic. Make my amends to the wildness.
Funds are really low. But since I'm sick I have to stay at home. I need to be in the studio anyway. It'll be too much trouble to carry around all the paints. And I also want to try a piece bigger than a notebook.
Reading slot secured -- I'm going to catch up on my Goodreads target yet. Also reading for research of a sort. I want to make some radical changes on my freelance setup. And if there's a decent interesting job in a library or museum out there I'm open for employment.
I want to go back and review the basics and beginnings of this path I refuse to give up. Tweak a few things. Resurrect some ideas and practice. Have better plans to break later on. Be better at breaking rules and changing the game. Forget the game. This is not about winning. This is about living, and being true. It is about falling in love. Again and again. Fall and fail. Fall and fail better. Be brave. Love anyway.
A friend shared this link from The New York Times, I read the article, and was moved to write down my own case on the matter.
The matter of being a full-time artist versus being one with a dayjob has been a rather delicate issue. Especially if one is still in the beginning stages, and have not gained enough patrons, supporters, and buyers to be able to sustain a good number of hours for studio work. There will always be those who will force the "be practical", "be realistic", "be reasonable" argument which has somehow always rubbed me the wrong way. There will always be those who will insist to just focus on the money, regardless of the how and the implications of performing the work that made that money (oh, I just helped sell products that will dump more tons of plastic waste into the ocean... and also convinced people that buying processed is better than the trouble of buying natural).
I believe the trick here, for my case, which is what I have been trying to master, is finding the kind of dayjob that will complement the artist, until such time that indeed the art is able to fully support a decent living, or the dayjob is an enhancer rather than a disruption. Mine is very similar to the example of James Dickey -- "I was selling my soul to the devil all day...and trying to buy it back at night." -- except that I could never quite buy it back and the interest has been compounding 😱 Equally apt is Stephen Dunn's description of how his work affects his poetry "a zero-sum universe in which the moon gobbles up the sun’s radiance." I would like to have a dayjob to ease the pressure of income from my art-making but I want a dayjob that can play and pay fair -- unfortunately in a developing country one does have to sell a soul to even earn minimum wage. 😅
My dream job is to work in a library, a book shop, or a book publishing company. Many years ago I had that in my hand. It was two roads diverging and I was fresh out of college. The other path led to the dayjob I am doing now. But I listened to "be practical", "be realistic", "be reasonable". Also, being young, I was carried away by "be cool and glamorous" (which had fine print conditions no one ever pointed out).
So here I am. Years later I've found myself on a similar diverging path and took the one less traveled by, albeit with so much baggage now everything is wrought with delays, detours, and doubling back. But I like to believe that I am at least finally moving towards where I was supposed to go. I will win my soul back yet, whole and alive and true.
Yes it's Day 3 because I was barely functional on the first two. Today the fever's taken a back seat and I'm dealing with the attendant symptoms of muscle aches, sore throat, and cough. A few more days and I should be in full working order.
It was sudden onset. I was standing outside of the coworking building in the business district. Early Friday evening, waiting for my dad and sis to pick me up. A gust of wind, and then I felt chills travel up and down my body. I had dinner with my folks, but two hours later I was shivering and feeling very ill. Fever was raging by the time I got home.
But I have to get back to dayjob duty today regardless. The most I can do is take it slow and easy. Certain things stressed me out severely last week and I think that made me vulnerable to the flu. One of the stressful things has been temporarily resolved today but it will have to be dealt with more definitely soon.
My sense of time is slightly distorted because of having to spend a lot of time in bed. Fever dreams have a tendency to mess up my perceptions of reality, and I knew I was still worrying a lot even while I was trying to rest.
But there are little things I find along the way of a day. I have yet to make something of them, find the hidden messages. But their appearance reassures me that the battle is not entirely lost. I have not exhausted all possibilities. Plus there are the impossibilities, which in the wildforest are more like possibilities that just need a little bit more magic and the wildforest is magic in itself and so anything impossible is possible.
My days in bed unable to do anything "productive" had at least given me thinking time (distorted as they were by fever visions and mangled by aches). If anything I have at least gained better resolution on a few things. I'll work on them in the next few weeks and see how they go.
And all I can offer you at this point is a sedate photo of my workspace where I toiled for almost seven hours straight sustained primarily by water and ginger mints because I did not dare take a break and give any of my selves the chance to pull the plug on my energy flow.
Before I left this morning I prepared a small bundle of art materials thinking that maybe I could make small drawing during short breaks but in the end I decided not to take breaks because any of my selves could steal the rest of me away and then there would have been no progress on the report.
The report is not yet finished but I have figured out a good portion of the knotty bits especially for one section which will be a template for the next section. Most of the work today was composition and layout, and stitching data together so they sort of flow into a logical narrative. That takes time, and lots of brain energy, especially since I'm wired for forests and gardens and it's hard to write with heart.
I'll work again tomorrow morning, and then on Sunday morning. I'll leave the afternoons free or else I'll go mad.
...I'm checking back in at the coworking space tomorrow because being Friday my selves can get particularly tricky and not let me work.
Today I made good progress. Next time I'll be more firm about using the coworking space and check in early. Maybe I can even negotiate a weekly rate or something. Then I can just bring a packed lunch to save on meals. Today I brought my own tea cup and tea leaves. I'll bring them again tomorrow.
The task I have to do is really more of the writing part, and that can be tedious because all the supporting data have to be put in just so to make everything flow towards the recommendations. As always, I underestimated how much time it takes, and today I thought I'd get to finish a whole section. I guess I'm no longer as fast as I used to be. Maybe also because my heart drags heavily.
Anyway, one full day tomorrow -- I will TRY to check in by 8AM and out as late as I can, as near closing time of 8PM as possible. I wish I could buy myself a nice dinner but funds are low and there are April bills to pay in a couple of weeks.
Let's look at some bright spots : these were delivered today. They're second-hand and very cheap.
I got home at around eight and after dinner I thought I'd have strength to paint or maybe work on the Sketchbook. But I only have enough wits to write something in my journal and then to bed.
The news has announced that it is finally summer. The first time in my whole life that Holy Week was NOT summer and was actually comfortably cool instead of searing hot. (As a child I've had the superstitious belief that the church knew exactly when summer would be at its hottest and would schedule the Holy Week then, as part of the Lenten sacrifice.)
The news also said that summer will be short because towards the end of next month, the rainy season will begin.
I'm thinking, after I've made certain progress in the dayjob tasks today, I'll do a Summer Sale on my Etsy shop, to last the whole of the short summer. Free shipping on everything. I'll complete all listings first (still have a few stacked up items waiting to see the light of day) and then make an announcement.
New pieces are lined up to be made (it's a very long line) and these will reflect new prices when listed for sale in June onwards. So anything I put on Etsy within the summer (April-May) will still be at current "friendly" prices. I've been working on making my art pieces competitively priced in the global market so there have been small adjustments here and there. But generally, all my foreign friends and customers say I've been pricing way too low (I've seen a few local artworks for sale and regardless of artist popularity my pieces are indeed priced on the very low range).
I will also (finally) open for Commissions, once I've sorted through the guidelines and fees (and my heart). I'm targeting this for next week, at the latest.
It has been a while since I've painted and I'm feeling the hollowness of not creating. Dayjob work has been taking up time as well as other daily chores and duties. There has not been enough time to go deep and get into the heart of Things. I'm stuck at the shore and a too-long ebb tide.
Today, with the weather temperature rising, it's no longer comfortable to work at home. Although to be honest, working has been a pain lately, with the daily wrestling against my selves that want to run off into the wildforest. Exactly like herding cats. So I'll take a pinch from the budget and check myself in into a coworking space (free coffee, airconditioning, wifi, wide windows, ample table space, quiet).
I'm bogged down by a lot of things lately and I want to un-bog myself.
I'll sign off on this post with an #artvsartist collage that's been going around again among artists.
I gave in to the hauntings, and puchased a passport -sized Traveler’s Notebook. Right now it has three notebook inserts — two original Traveler’s and one Field Notes. The first notebook will hold my 100-day project for the year which will be 100 field note entries from the Wildforest. It will be a play and experiment with words and images and storymaking. The second notebook will hold, as the title hints, Rambles, Fragments, Seeds, & Stumbles. The third notebook, which is the Field Notes one, is a more practical notebook of lists. I started off with a list of all things that I buy and which I plan to improve/evolve to become more conscious towards sustainability, health, animal cruelty-free, and less plastic waste.
The small size is perfect for being able to finish, and more forgiveable to mess up.
Meanwhile I am not working as much on the Sketchbook Project as I should. In the end I may not even have the postage fee for it. We’ll see. But I like how it’s going so far, and it has in fact been the inspiration for the 100-day project I’ll begin as soon as I finish the Sketchbook.
I’m still doing a dayjob project on the side so my energy is largely spent on dayjob tasks and dayjob anxiety. But I’ll be opening up my Commissions service soon so maybe I will be able to do more paid creative work in place of the dayjob work. That should be less painful to do...right? 😆
I stayed away from social media yesterday except Twitter and Instagram in the late evening.
So, the cramps were gone but then a migraine had taken its place for most of yesterday morning. Then last night it was all-out insomnia that did not let me sleep until 3 AM. I'm not certain what my body's telling me. What's certain is I still haven't progressed as much as I wanted and needed with the dayjob report. So I will restart the whole thing today. For most of Saturday I was plastered in bed or on the couch, held hostage by many aches. When I fall asleep I sleep like the dead, long and deep. My dreams have been strings of seemingly related convoluted impossible scenes, but all with a theme of getting things in order, finding what has been lost or missing, cleaning up messes, and many confrontations.
Yesterday I had a small social event that lasted the whole day. It was, I think, a break from everything that I sorely needed. I still need a follow-through but it was a good start to reset the coming week.
It has been a long hard heavy week. I can't seem to get out of being tired of it all.
The social event was a get-together among three artists so it was an Artist Date. A lot of delicious food was involved, and visiting art supply shops.
The art supply shop visits naturally resulted in a few purchases.
We chanced upon a beautiful exhibit by a Filipino artist, Elmer Dumlao. He left an advertising career to fully embrace art-making -- definitely a path I am working to carve for myself.
The evening concluded with a Japanese meal for dinner.
Today is a holiday but I'm going to do some dayjob work. Let's hope I make good progress.
At this very moment I am at a cafe, with lots of natural daylight but also airconditioning that tempers the soft beginnings of a summer weather. I ordered a cappuccino, while sending a quiet thanks to the person who sent me coffee money.
I’ve had to get out today to soothe the frustration of a plan gone awry.
I was all set with my packages to go to the post office this morning. But when I woke up I had cramps. I also had to finish one more hour of video data review for a short report I’m due to send today. The morning passed with me curling with cramps in my chair while doing the data review.
So, by lunchtime I was felling better though worn down a bit. I prepared a large bagful of Things — the packages for mailing, my work stuff, my journal, survival kits. Then I couldn’t get a cab — for some reason it was high-demand-high-fare period and no vehicles were within the area willing to take my fare. Too far to walk or I would have walked it. I tried for half an hour, nothing. Then I thought if I got there I might have a hard time getting a ride back — and pay more. Which would totally defeat the whole point of shipping orders to earn money because all the money would go to the transport fare. So, change of plans. Move the post office trip to Tuesday morning (because Monday is a holiday). But proceed with going out to somewhere walkable, and get the other tasks done outside of the house, with brighter surroundings, cooler temperature, and an easy slip into a small Artist Date afterwards. I need some cheering up!
So here I am at a “third-wave” coffee shop that, of all days, did not have my favourite sausage rolls available. I’ve just finished and sent the short report on the video data review. I have one more dayjob task to get done and then I can “shut down” on the hard money work for the day. It’s 3:40PM. I should be able to swing it. (Let’s hope the cramps stay away. I can feel them lurking.) Worst-case scenario, I extend the dayjob task work to tomorrow morning and submit the promised document by noon. We’ll see. I’ll get it all done eventually.
Interestingly I recently started reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. And it speaks much of doing without doing yet everything gets done. I need that kind of energy flow. I’ve been too wound up lately, being so pressured into performing and delivering on so many things.
How is your Friday going? Not much of a Fri-yay for me, hahaha!
I'm behind, hahaha!
I've overestimated my own energy supply as well as underestimated the time it would take to get the tasks done. I keep forgetting I'm no longer in my twenties (my motto then was: I'll sleep when I'm dead, now it's more of I'm dead-tired I want to sleep)!
Still, a lot gotten out of the way. The hardest was completing and submitting drawing drafts for a commission project. However it taught me a few things on how to do my commissions in the very near future (watch out for that page soon).
As of today I am behind on a couple of dayjob tasks. I had to put the post office errand on priority because there's an Etsy order in it. I'm also late with sending out Patreon rewards so I'll ride a few on the post office trip.
My to-do list for the remaining two weekdays are:
I have a small social event on Sunday which I'm looking forward to. Wondering if I should just ride all my other going-out errands on it (artshop and office supply, a few basic clothing and personal care necessities, a few groceries) or make a separate solo trip on Saturday. I also feel like maybe work in a cafe tomorrow after the post office errand. I could use the change in scenery and certainly more natural daylight! I recently received some coffee funds so maybe I will. ^_^
This post is primarily an answer to a question that was asked of me.
It is not the first time I have been asked this question. In the past few years that I have embraced my art-making and story-making I have received incredulous reactions to my "productivity". The question is usually how am I able to make the time to make?
Last week I read a post by Joanne Harris on Twitter that basically sums it up:
Joanne even had another related post on how she gave up house chores and in the process she had a messy house but 18 novels.
It will vary with each person. Even for the same person, it can vary on what you can give up at a given moment. It's not just one thing. Maybe one or more major things and then a lot of little things that make up a day.
When I decided I want to be an artist it was a life decision. I was just two years into freelancing and still received employment offers because of my dayjob skills. But my desire to be an artist is a soul call that outweighed the call of financial stability and security. I gave up more than one dayjob opportunity. I stuck to being freelance. When I have dayjob projects I screen them for value in terms of money and time and energy. Even if it will pay me a lot (and they rarely even pay enough), if it will cost me too much recovery time because of the intensity of mental, physical, and emotional demands, I say no. (The saying no part is very hard. I believe one has to literally reach a certain age to be able to do it well.)
I gave up an old lifestyle and status that were largely based on the expectations of others. I became clear on what really mattered to me on a day-to-day basis. I overhauled my way of faith and trusting in the Universe (or God, or whichever belief system you subscribe to goes here). I redefined every rule I ever learned or lived by ever since I became an adult.
I gave up people and relationships. I kept those that are truly alive and that keep me authentically alive. This meant less obligations, less duties. And if I would really rather stay in on a weekend than go out for a meal (or even attend a reunion) I don't get judged or guilted.
I gave up traveling, and a lot of big-ticket spending. I have been working on zeroing all debts. I gave up the things that would keep me in debt (credit cards, home loans). This meant I don't have to work so much and for so long for a lot of money. This meant I can use time to make art. I still want to travel but I want to do it for the right reasons and with means that are true to the path I have taken.
I gave up "shopping" and "retail therapy". I buy what I need when I need it and I pay in cash. I still indulge from time to time but these are meaningful (and eventually useful) indulgences. Like books and art materials. Like a nourishing delicious meal. I've trimmed my closet and accessories to essentials that I get to wear every week and also feel and look good in. I have hopped off the trend train long ago. I buy items that will last as long as possible. I repair as much as I can. I buy local and from small business as often as possible to help out others who are like me. I also realised I don't need as much retail therapy when I am making art.
My dayjob work is very taxing mentally, physically, and emotionally. The nature of the work I do for money goes against many of my own values but I am also breadwinner for the household (parents and sibling) so I still have to compromise a lot. When I have a dayjob project there is a battle that goes on. The dayjob spirit tends to choke the creative spirit so I often need recovery days. I have been trying to find a good "balance" for the past six years but I have yet to find one that works more than once.
What's working for me now whenever I have a dayjob project:
It may also help to mention that I am very much an introvert. I don't have very active social circles or activities. I don't spend a lot of time chatting online either. My social media is mainly for sharing and creating content. I limit my online interaction and engage only when necessary. In real life I go out with friends less often than once a month. My own parents and sister are introverts so on weekends we also tend to be in our own spaces and get together about once or twice a month for half a day each. So all supposed "social" hours are instead put into creative time. That could also be a variable.
It's a bit funny because I often feel I am not as productive as I should be. I do Asian drama marathons as well as reading marathons (but I have to say, these do a lot to inspire my art-making). I spend time doing nothing -- when everything just goes blank and empty and needs to take a long pause. I like my sleep, taking my eight hours' worth at night and naps in the afternoon. I have my totally lazy days when I let go of all attempts at being productive.
My Instagram sometimes looks like I have an ideal life but I scrape by day to day. The not-too-hidden price of my creative productivity is also the occasional panic on whether I will meet next month's rent. Every year I think about taking back one of the biggest things I gave up -- the monthly security of a regular paycheck. It has been eight years so far.
I hope this post helps. :)