Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Exercising my creative muscles

I haven't been writing much this last month or so, and its for a happy reason - I've been painting again.

I've been artistic as long as I can remember and I come by it honestly - my mother is a beautiful painter and illustrator. Its often made me sad that she hasn't kept up her work, especially now that her kids are grown and out of the house. I myself have slipped out of the creative habit, having convinced myself that "there just isn't time right now" while the kids are so young.  And not to sound all mushy and sentimental and well, artsy-fartsy, but it really is a part of me and when I'm not drawing or painting I'm not really whole.

It started during one of those wonderful extra-long baby naps where the house is clean, your chores are done and you're left wondering what to do with these precious and rare free minutes. Having decided that I wanted to give as many handmade gifts as possible this year, I decided to paint something for my best friend's baby daughter. I was pleased with the results but was a bit anxious - is art too personal a choice to give as a gift? Would she feel obligated to put it up even if she didn't like it? Was it even any good?

I ran it by some friends on a parenting forum I frequent and was met with lots of lovely compliments and a few people suggesting I think about selling my art. I was more than a little relieved and really very excited about painting again. But the selling thing - that had me a bit nervous. A few years ago, I opened an Etsy shop selling illustrated cards. I got extremely positive feedback, was featured on the front page of Etsy (kind of a big thing for an Etsy seller), and really loved the work.

However, I didn't do a proper business plan, I found that people loved the cards but just didn't want to shell out what hand-made cards cost when you can get a whole box of them at Costco for $15 or thereabouts, and I had some major printing issues which took up most of my time devoted to the shop. In the end, I spent many hours stressing, planning, printing, promoting and not very much time drawing. I wasn't able to justify the cost of materials and equipment and the time spent on something that didn't seem to be viable.

So, needless to say, I've been gun-shy about trying to sell my creative work again.

But, I love to paint. And I do think my paintings and illustrations are different than alot of what's out there for kids. And I have a friend who has a nice little crochet business that she runs successfully along with raising three kids who I'm using as inspiration.

I've been painting and drawing furiously during my littlest's naps, which has made my days so, so joyful. I really do feel complete again and in fact, I have to make myself stop painting most days or I'd let the laundry pile up, the dishes go unwashed and I'd forget to shower. That's how much I love it.

In the new year, I'll start a Facebook page and list some work. Just dip my toes in the water a bit. Maybe an Etsy shop, further down the road if there's interest. A local coffee shop is interested in displaying my work, so there's promise.

I'm not interested in complicating my life - I go back to work full-time in 3.5 short months and I don't want this to take away from my family life. But if I can sell a bit of work and spend those rare free moments painting instead of surfing the net or wasting time, then I think its a win-win. We'll see!

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