Thursday, December 30, 2021

In A Planner Choosing Frenzy

In A Planner Choosing Frenzy © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist
 I thought it would be easier than this.

Always seems I am doing it this way and I should have learned by now.  The year flies by and the next thing I know, it's December.  Where did December come from?  Meaning, wow I didn't realize how time was flying.  And now that means a new year is about to begin and I need to be organized and ready.  My husband calls me a Type-A Wannabe.  He's not wrong.  I create this facade that I am organized.  It gives me comfort and a sense that I might be in control.  I figure this is my way of  being somewhat prepared when life starts coming at me from all directions.

A stack of my planners from previous years.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Contemplating which one to use for 2022.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Perfect timing and I made time for it!

Earlier in December, I joined in a free workshop on Facebook, Soul Smile.  It was hosted by Alice Sheridan and Megan Woodward Johnson.  Such a blessing!  For the past few years, I had to choose what I could make time for and many times missed out on art opportunities.  Excitedly, I joined in with other artists and we shared how we have weathered the months of 2021.  We found we had so many shared thoughts and emotions.  For quite a while I have missed having interaction with other artists and the social distancing has made it a challenge to fill that void.  We talked a bit about how we all organize our creative work time.  There was mention of bullet journals and The Maker's Yearbook, The Get To Work Book, The Legend Planner, and Dingbat Planner.

So that's where I realized it's past time for me and the planner choosing process.

[This is a lengthy post and so giving you fair warning's just that I have SO much to tell you.  I can't leave any of it out.  It's all really good!  And there are many photos to show along with the tell.]

My work table set up for Soul Smile workshop online. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

My handwritten notes and tablet for watching the livestream.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist


A bit of a side note here:

I was already familiar with Alice Sheridan.  She and Louise Fletcher host a podcast, Art Juice.  I began listening before the the pandemic.  As I worked my then job as a nanny, I would do laundry and tidy the kitchen with a podcast playing that is art related.  Art Juice quickly became my favorite.  And then when the pandemic had us all closed up in our homes for months, I listened then also and found a connection to similar struggles.  I had a hard time creating art for quite a few months in 2020.

If you haven't hear this podcast before, give Art Juice a listen.  I highly recommend it for creatives!  Maybe you'll feel like you've just had a cup of tea and a great visit with a couple of artist friends.

Screenshot of Art Juice on Beanpod app.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us.  As a creative, I found it a feat to recapture my energy and drive again.  I figured out that I needed to get a grip on the stress and anxiety levels.  I understood that creating art should be one of my ways of handling the emotions and thoughts that were giving me a tough time.  Through some spiritual battling, taking care of myself and remembering how to grow strong again...I was able to see better days full of hope and joy.

I am stronger and more grounded than I have been in a long, long time.  There should be months of creating ahead of me and yet I know life is unpredictable.  Just when I think it's all smooth from here on out, there will be some event or circumstance that shakes it all up for weeks or longer.


My Eccolo 2021 planner with cork cover.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Above:  the Eccolo planner I picked up from TJ Maxx last year.  I love the cork cover so much.  I also loved using it because it's a manageable size for me.  Dimensions are 5.25" by 7.5" for reference.

It's up to me to make creating time a priority.

Instead of feeling cheated because there are no blocks of time left over in my schedule, I do something very different now.  Back then, I begrudgingly gave up my precious art making time for family appointments and commitments.  I hated that I felt upset and wanted to blame everyone else for not letting me make art.  Then I realized how that could change.  There is always time for both family/personal commitments and creative art time.  Always.  What matters is HOW I approach it.  I made a simple and effective change to how I handle my schedule.  

Below:  The notecard "Wake up and be awesome" came in an order (from where I do not remember) BUT I have been clipping it in my planner to be a fun reminder each morning.

View of my opened planner for 2021.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Blocking time with a highlighter and writing tasks down.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Block it off now before life crowds in.

I began using a highlighter, a pen, and my planner to block out several hours per day for art.  I would plan out several weeks at a time.  With a list of what I would like to do, I would make a highlighter colored box outline and then write in what I planned to do.  If nothing else, it would just say, "Art" or "Paint" and then that time was reserved ahead of time.  I built the schedule of appointments around those blocks of art time.  I planned to have time already reserved BEFORE all the other appointments.

Below:  My new 2022 cover with a leather-like cover in a soft tan color.

My Eccolo planners for 2021 and 2022.  2022 planner has a leather-like cover.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I guess I should add here that what is necessary is to NOT cancel that creative art time.

Unless it's a serious emergency, which can happen, keep that time commitment to creating as precious.  Because it is more valuable and beneficial than anyone could really know.  No need to prove it as important.  Just matter of fact, make it a new practice to schedule creative pursuits.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Limited Edition Winter Miniatures

Winter Miniatures 2021 © Christy Sheeler 2022
This was the orginal post; same information was posted on Instagram and Facebook at the end of December 2021.

Limited edition watercolor miniatures in a winter theme.  More information on my Facebook and Instagram.  I am excited to offer these in dimensions roughly 3" by 4" all originals painted in watercolors.  Contact me through messenger to claim.  $15 each.  I plan to begin shipping next week.  

The photo shows these miniature originals while still in progress.  I am limiting the number to a total of 30 pieces.  Thank you to those who have already claimed!  I am so excited about finishing these and shipping them off soon.

As I was painting to develop an idea for a winter landscape, a bigger idea formed in my mind.  The amazing and colorful sunsets of winter plus birds perched in the bare branches, and then add snowy drifts that catch the light and cast long shadows.  This was the beginning.  Later, I chose some evergreens to complement the scene.  As I wrote my notes and mixed pigments on the palette, a bold idea came to me.  What if I painted a number of these little winter paintings and offered them to be purchased and shipped within a ten day to two week window of time?

My first little quick sketch with notes. © Christy Sheeler Artist 2022

On a spontaneous whim, I boldly went to Instagram and Facebook with this idea.  I felt foolish.  Crazy how that happens when I step out of my comfort zone.  I reassured myself that if there were no "takers" I can just use these for gift with purchase tags.  Nothing to lose, right?  

My work table with all the minis in progress.  © Christy Sheeler Artist 2022

I had enough to offer just under a total of 30 minature watercolor artworks.  That very same evening after feeling like a fool, the messages began coming in!  To my heartfelt delight, there are dear friends out there (maybe you are one of them) that will jump at the opportunity to have one of my artworks.  Too precious for words, that's what I think of all of you.  Thank you for being with me on this adventure.  When the offer ended, I had just a couple miniatures remaining...and they will maybe go into a future mini winter edition.  The messages I have gotten from those of you who purchased bring a smile to my face even now.

All the pretty minis lined up for painting. © Christy Sheeler 2022

I felt that this orginal post didn't really do the Winter Minis 2021 justice.  So all of this has been edited after the fact to share more detail about this super enjoyable first run.  Now, I am excited to share that there will be more seasonal miniature artwork to come!  I am working through ideas for Spring Minis 2022.  I am sure there will be trees and birds.  Those two subjects seem to be a must for me.  But thinking that big blue skies with fluffy clouds and a few bitty dandelions will be sneaking in, too.

I will be giving my mailing list friends the first dibs at claiming a mini in the Spring Minis 2022.  Are you on that mailing list?  Over on my website,  you can sign up to be included with my new announcements.  Then, I will take the announcement to Instagram and Facebook.

Close up details of a winter mini watercolor artwork. © Christy Sheeler 2022

Me at work in my happy place!  © Christy Sheeler Artist

So, if you joined me for this edition of seasonal minis, thank you very much!  And if you are new to the seasonal minis, please consider purchasing one when they become available.  I will post here and in all the places I share as well.  If nothing else, shoot me an email with Seasonal Art Minis in the description and I will take care of getting you on my mailing list.

Stay warm everyone!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Coming Back To Art Full Time

Coming back to art full time © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist
My process and path:  My return to creating again.

The end of August marked the end of my part time job of nannying.  It was part time in that I was working full time about 6 months out of the year.  From March to August, my art making was not in full swing but I painted in the pockets of available free time.  I enjoyed that job very much yet missed this pursuit even more.  The Carpenter family continues to be close to my heart and we'll be friends that are more like family for many more years to come.

With other things that were happening in my personal life and family needs being our top priority, I didn't jump right into art creating right away.  In fact, I felt rusty and awkward about the painting sessions in September.  As frustrated as I felt with the results, I knew it was important to keep showing up to paint.  The easy thing would be to not show up because it might not end with a masterpiece.  Instead, I chose to push forward and give myself permission to be unhappy with whatever my brush and I made that day.  Sometimes the time spent painting is just for my own self care, not because I need to have a painting to sell.  I don't ever want to be driven by the goal of selling.  That creates so much pressure that intimidates and stifles me creatively.  When the painting time feels like nothing came of it from an bystander's perspective, I face that head on.  Brush it off and come back tomorrow.  And with time, it all started to come back to me.  I continue picking up my brush.

A very happy me back in my studio. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I have been painting on a regular basis but before August I was not always rested and able to spend several hours painting in one sitting.  Some paintings I love and others have brought me frustration.  That's just how this goes.  Many of my paintings have been 5" x 7" sizes because they are more manageable in short spurts of time.  They can easily be finished in one or two sittings.  I don't lose my momentum and vision when working in pockets of time.  And so for that reason, it's much harder when the paper is larger.  I have two large paintings in process right now that are not pleasing me, not what I want, and I don't know what to do next.  I keep telling myself to relax and not let that define me.

Color mixing notes or charts.  Making these is relaxing for me.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

So, my beginning stages of getting comfortable in the art room again took a round about path.  With work projects in the garden and back yard to be completed before winter makes its arrival, I brought in quite a few potted plants.  There are green onions and a variety of herbs.  My spinach and lettuce are not doing well and I believe that is lack of sufficient lighting.  Our days are shorter now and my lights need replacing most likely.  Long winters in Montana are easier to handle when there's some plants growing here in my space.

Bringing green inside; my herbs take the table by the window. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I moved my main painting location back to a previous work table.  It's closer to the center of the room which will be warmer during the winter months.  Funny how this feels more comfortable for me and I am glad I made the change.  I am sensitive about what clutter is bothering me and tackle those areas a little at a time.  I am structuring this space so it is primed for creative atmosphere, like I can come to this space that has a spa like atmosphere.  I am making decisions for designing a sanctuary for creativity.

Now rearranged again, my view of the windows.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I have so much space for storage and it seems to be overflowing with stuff.  I felt so overwhelmed and anxious in the room that it was very obvious this needed to be overhauled in a big way.  I went through under table shelves and boxes.  I emptied out cupboards and chose what to get rid of to make room for what supplies are a higher priority to my art creating process.  There are still a few piles to go through but it's much more manageable now.

Clearing out the extra and boxing up for give away.© 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

In reality, I would just rather keep showing up and doing nothing else but paint more art.  The stacks of new artwork need to be given time and focus though.  I am getting more organized with my planning so that projects are being tackled in the most effective way.  Paintings are getting pressed under weight of heavy books to remove the paper's buckling.  Inventory spreadsheets are being readied for titles to come soon.  I am looking at the weather for best sunshine to help with photographing artwork for the website.  Large sheets of watercolor paper is soon to be cut into dimensions I enjoy most.  Those smaller sheets of watercolor paper will be taped to boards so they are ready to grab for new paintings.

Feeling overwhelmed by this chaos, I need to work out solutions. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

I have been aware in the past that my best time for painting is mid morning.  I might do a bit of light housework before but I need to be cautious not to come to my paint sessions already worn out.  That only brings frustration much sooner.  If there is vacuuming to be done, it should be done late afternoon because that activity is so hard on my arms and wrists.  I am becoming so much more aware of bringing my freshest self to painting time.

Practicing the habit of beginning with a few watercolor sketches. © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

As I move into fall and winter months, I am focusing on creating a routine of good habits for pursuit of art.  I am being gentle and patient with myself.  I fight the feeling that I should be catching up to where fulltime artists are at this time of year with their promoting and selling.  A frustrated and anxious artist will not be happy in the creating and the art will reflect this as well.  So, I take each day with its goals and tasks and remind myself to be patient.  I am choosing to enjoy the journey and love that I have the time available to be here.  I am hopeful and excited.

One of the newest pieces to be completed while in progress.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Yesterday, I sat down to write here not knowing what I would have to say.  It happens like this so often.  And yet somehow I find the words for what I want to say.  I do love sharing what happens here in the art room and along the scenic drives to finding art reference photograph.  I look forward to living this way, being my everyday experience and soaking up owning my identity as an artist.  It was difficult to be away from this so much though I didn't express it as often as I felt it.  My mind loves the thought of creating my interpretation of what I have seen and felt as it relates to nature.  I have a feeling that more change is coming my way with how I hold the brush and fill the page and I am in love with that more than I can say.  In fact, we have plans in motion for making weekend getaways to the mountains a regular habit.  Spring of 2022, I will be able to share more about that exciting development.  I am dreaming of plein air painting and travel art supplies getting much more use!

As the day fades and I wrap up work for the day.  © 2021 Christy Sheeler Artist

Thank you for taking time out of your day to join me here.  This is my creative journey as an artist.  I have more to bring and share here.  I won't make a promise to be here each week.  I hope that happens but life has a way of bringing detours.  As it is possible, I do have a goal of posting on Thursdays for whatever reason.  I have been organizing my photos into online albums and that has helped me realize there is plenty of material for new blog posts.  More progressive posts to come, meaning I will share the completed artwork with photos taken along its journey and a few photos of the place that inspired me to paint it in the first place.  If that excites you, stay tuned!  

She must make art.