Nothing gets left undone

Last week I wrote about large projects. I wanted to write about keeping the faith when working on these large projects. Instead, it turned into more of a “how-to.”

I still wanted to mention “keeping the faith” for your large projects. I read not to long ago that the universe does nothing while leaving nothing undone. I’ve really been thinking about this lately. Let me share with you some of my thoughts.

Nature is. The season warms; plants grow, trees grow leaves. The season cools, plants die, trees pull their sap back to their roots. There is no definitive line other than a pseudo-arbitrary date we humans set that marks the “1st day of summer” or the “1st day of fall. I’ve seen an inch of snow fall in July in northern Nevada. But no one has to walk out to the maple tree and say, “Okay, it’s fall now. Time to lose your leaves. Go to sleep for the winter.” We expect “nature” to take care of that. It does, and the cycle continues.

The sun comes up every morning and makes its trek across the sky to set in the evening. No one has to set an alarm clock for the sun. We know now that the sun is the center of the universe and our rotation just makes it look like it’s rising and setting, but that hasn’t always been a “truth” in the minds of humans. There are countless myths about the sun’s journey and its meaning. But the universe doesn’t care what we think. The sun will rise tomorrow. It’ll set tomorrow. The cycle will continue for exactly as long as it is supposed to (for I won’t presume that our solo star will burn forever). When it is time for the sun to die, it will do so just as the universe intended and in the same cycle as every other star.

Believe that we are in a larger system and this balance cycle not only works above us, but in us as well. We don’t have to think about our heart beating or the process of digestion. These systems just work within our bodies without our conscious thought. Only do they get out of balance when we are out of sync.

So, when I say that you have to have faith in your large projects, know that I’m talking about trusting the process of creation as a system that will work automatically for you. Notice in last week’s post that I didn’t say you have to put your nose to the grindstone and keep working at your project no matter what. No, I said that you can’t let fear let you get stuck in the mud. I even acknowledged that you would get stuck but that you needed to wash off. There was no force there. No mention of how to get unstuck either. Having faith in the process and allowing yourself to be will assure that if this project is truly yours to manage, you will go through the dip and come out the other side. I did say that you had to “lean into” your project and carry forward. But again, that isn’t a forced action or even a hamster on the wheel image. Have you ever gone out and shaken a tree to get the leaves to fall. Okay, I have — I wanted to rake my yard before it got cold and the leaves just weren’t letting go! Needless to say, I wasn’t very successful. I couldn’t force the process. I had to let be and let nature.

Now, with it being Memorial Day, I do want to add an extra thought here. What about the fear that you will die before your project is completed? Very real fear. I know that I have too many stories that I want to tell, both with words and with pictures, that I will never be able to tell them all. I personally trust that I will be compelled to tell the stories I need to and nothing will stop me. The ones that aren’t something I have to tell will fall away. I doubt that only one person gets a story, so I know others will receive the same story I did and they will tell it. It might be that which they are compelled to tell whereas it wasn’t my story — I was just the backup gal in case the real artist couldn’t complete his/her mission, kind of like the Miss America runner-up.

I do wonder what painting was the last that Thomas Kinkade finished. Was there one sitting on his easel? Is it still there? I believe he is a man who let his demons get him. He got out of sync at least with his life if not with his art too. At some point, he stepped back and saw that what he was creating was larger than himself — too large to handle and the fear entered. But within the larger whole, nothing of his life or his art was left truly undone. It was exactly as it needed to be.

Have faith that your projects are on track. Be grateful for each day you are given to lean into the process of adding your artistic talents to them. And, above all, trust the system that you are creating exactly as you should.

Branding as an Artist

I’ve spent days debating on where to start my blogs regarding the art business. However, since Thomas Kinkade has made the news lately, I think I’ll start with branding.

Branding is nothing more than how a customer views a business based on how the customer is treated. How many times have you walked into a store, been ignored by the sales people, and walked out thinking that you will never set foot in there again? That’s an example of bad branding. Walmart’s door greets are an example of branding.

Kinkade has set himself up as a religious fellow painting beautiful pictures filled with light. He views his art as a product (we’ll talk more about this in a later blog). He has built a large company. For a long time, this “Painter of Light” image has brought him good branding. But now, with a DUI looming right behind his company declaring bankruptcy, he’s getting bad branding.

The world use to be larger and idocyncasisy went unnoticed by the masses. Artists were seen as oddities and people expected them to be weird. In truth, too many artists were taken too early because of drugs and/or alcohol. Today the world is much smaller. If a popular artist shaves her head, everyone knows about it instantly. She’s talked about.

Is this arrest something that’s going to help Kinkade’s career? No. Already, people had started talking about his “dark period” from losing at a fraud arbitration case, to his company declaring bankrupcy, and now a DUI arrest (and the police don’t take you in unless they have pretty good reason to suspect you’re drunk! If he spent the night in the tank, it was because he needed to sleep it off). If he thinks his headache began the next morning, he’s wrong. Bad talk in today’s world makes people lose faith. If they lose faith, they don’t want to be associated with you. If Kinkade keeps going down this path, it’s a short matter of time before his works are found in thrift stores and dumps. Simple truth: no one wants to hang out with losers.

Today’s marketing is all about trust. Customers want to know all about you as a person. If you aren’t ready to have that level of transparency in your life then you need to rethink what you’re doing. People want to have faith in you. If they can’t trust you, you’ll be a charlatan in their eyes. At all times, you need to remember you are your brand! If you’re snooty, your customer will think they’ve just walked into a store with no customer service. If you’re sitting in the corner painting and lost in your world, people may be intrigued, but they’ll think you want to be left alone. If you’re fun and enthusiastic about your art, you’ll be infectious.

This last weekend at Art in the Park, no matter how I was feeling at any given moment, whenever a person walked into my booth and asked me how I was, I answered with “fantastic,” or something along those lines. I didn’t hear the same thing from other artists around me. In fact, many of them I overheard saying that it was going slow. Not only did these thoughts effect their world, but it shaded their branding — they seemed bored. Nothing makes a potential customer walk away faster than a bored artist.

Ever had a piece of work you didn’t feel 100% confident about that you took before a client? Did you make apologies for it? If so, how did the client react? If you seek reassurance from a client about a weak piece and they give you comfort, you’ve still shaded the piece as bad in their eyes. You will always be your own worst critic and notice things that others don’t. If you’re going to show it, stand behind your work and don’t get negative. This will show through. You’re sharing enthusiasm about your art, not critiques.

You will be seen by others however you represent yourself. Are you the artist who goes to the store in pajamas? Do you preach your faith? Do you wear slacks and a tie in your art booth or are you in ripped jeans and a paint-splattered tee shirt? Are your projects done on time or do they run a week or two past the deadline? Are your actions matching your deeds? Are you working to correct your own flaws? Do you not like to be judged by others? Are you constantly worrying about what others think of you or your art? Do you really know who you are?

So, in building your business as an artist, think about how you want to come across. How do you want to treat your clientele? How do you want them to view you? This is where you start.