Social media is storytelling

I’m a former newspaper journalist, currently a magazine editor, and an artist. So my work and creative play are about telling stories—in writing as well as in imagery.

As I think about social media and continually explore it as part of the presentations I make to artists about using digital channels, I can clearly see that social media really is all about storytelling.

I strive to approach social media as an artist in the same way I do as a writer creating a story, asking and answering the most important questions for gathering content and presenting an interesting narrative: Who? What? When? Why? Where? How?

Who am I telling the story about—myself as an artist, as a mother, as a professional? What story am I trying to tell, what is interesting about it at the moment and what is the best way to tell that story? When do I want to tell it; when does it fit info my schedule? Why am I telling it (for collaboration, to invite opportunities, to showcase what I do, to rant about a cause)? Where should I share it? How will I know that I’m succeeding in my goals (by the number of followers, by the interactions and engagement with others, by the resulting opportunities, lots of sales)?

As artists we have a lot on our plates—creating work, designing and managing websites, writing blogs, pursuing exhibition opportunities, marketing, teaching, procrastinating, fighting off the inner critic. Social media is one more demand on our time, but it is a valuable tool for telling our own story and for supporting the work at hand. The trick is not to let it become overwhelming by developing a social media strategy.

So make a plan. Ask and answer the questions. That will help you narrow down and shape which digital platform is best for you—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Figure out how much time you want to devote to it and when you can to fit it into your schedule, and decide what your goals are.

My story unfolds one post at a time on various platforms and websites—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, RedBubble, Etsy.

How do you use social media and how has it helped you in sharing what you do and pursuing opportunities? Share your success tips by leaving a comment.

Sketchbook Sunday

The weekends are so busy. Time just seems to fly by as I try to fit in everything—errands, appointments, cooking, exercise, preparations for teaching art classes, art making and more. So I’ve decided to make sure that Sunday is more of a day of relaxation and play via my sketchbook.

When I was studying art in college, daily sketching was a requirement. At the time, I felt that it was such a chore and would procrastinate so much that I had to pull all-nighters to fill my sketchbook to turn in the next day. (Shhhh) Ridiculous. What was I doing in those days that kept me from drawing in a sketchbook, for goodness sake?!

Now, of course, I crave the opportunity to just play with ideas in a non-intimidating space that doesn’t tempt my ever-present inclination to want to create “work” that is perfect or says something “important.”

The colored pencil and Sharpie marker drawing here was inspired by a one-hour walk in which I noticed a tangle of twisted vines stripped bare by winter. The growth was chaotic and unruly, yet beautiful and intriguing—just as it is in our lives.

Who wants to join me? Share your thoughts and a link to your sketchbook creations each Sunday by commenting. I’d love to see what everyone else is doing.

Painting Flowers in Mixed Media

I love playing with paper, any kind of paper. The sound of it tearing into random shapes is like music. Piecing it back together to create whatever you can imagine is magical.

This spring I get to play with paper to create flowers on canvas in a “Painting Flowers in Mixed Media” class I will be teaching at the Attleboro Arts Museum. The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what the students come up with. It’s so inspiring to be in the company of fellow makers and dive into art projects as a collective of creatives.

Check out the details of the class here.

What kind of magic are you currently exploring?

Something pretty

IMG_3343Because I live in New England and it may never stop snowing, here is something pretty to look at to lift your spirits. It certainly lifted mine. A friend gave me this plant as a bulb for a Christmas gift. This weekend, during a four-day snow storm, it decided to bloom. Perfect timing for offering some winter cheer. Inspiration: bloom, no matter what.

New year, new work

10487560_10152450805296650_2623399408784844612_nI’m looking forward to this new year. I’ve set my business and creative goals so I’ve got a clear vision of where I’m headed. I’m already off to a good start with some new paintings that I’ve been working on during my winter break.

One of my goals as an artist is to create work to enter into juried art exhibitions. This is not so much about getting into a lot of shows. It’s more about facing the possibility of rejection (which happens a lot as an artist) and not caring about that. I’m treating the themes of the shows as homework to guide my creative process.

An upcoming show has “heritage” as its theme, so I’ve enjoyed thinking about what that means to me and how to visually present the idea. Sometimes it helps to have a prompt when facing that blank canvas.

I’m taking my time, focusing on the process, and letting the work sit until it tells me where it wants to go. Hopefully, the process will take me in new directions this year, away from the safety of what I’m comfortable with as an artist.

What are your creative goals for the new year?

(The painting here is a detail of a mixed media work on a gallery-framed panel. It is just a start.)

Calendar art

CalendarFor artists looking for an easy way to create a calendar featuring your artwork, redbubble.com is a great resource. You can upload art and the company will print it on cards, framed works, calendars and even on iPad covers that customers can order. The site is also easy to edit and manage.  Here is the calendar I created for 2015. Click on the image and you will be linked to the site to see the full calendar and there are lots of other examples by other artists. I’ve been using  redbubble.com for years. Happy New Year–almost!

Fashion brooches

I love taking bits and pieces of things–paper, wood, anything–and putting them together in different ways. My late grandmother was an expert at this, whether it was putting together a meal, a quilt or a decorative wall covered in magazine pages.

My collage work stems from my earliest memories of that on some unconscious level. And, these recently created fashion brooches–created from bits and pieces of wood and sometimes mixed with other items–do, too. I’m honored to have some of them selected for sale in the Attleboro Museum of Art’s gift shop.

Where I am and where I’m going

HomeTonight I am eating dinner at my formal dining room table. I’ve decided that I deserve to enjoy this room myself rather than waiting for special occasions to sit here.

No music. No TV. Just me and the meal (and the Celtics game that my teenager is blaring for the other room. “Me” time only goes so far in this house.)

This is a first step in slowing down and reclaiming my creative direction as I head into 2015. Being creative demands being in touch with self. Too often I think we all are doing a million things at once, even while eating. We’re women warriors; that’s what we do—multitask and take care of the entire world around us.

Consequently time becomes a blur. This year has zipped by and yet I feel like I’m standing still (if you look two posts down, you will see what I mean, as I repeat myself here). I find myself in the same place as an artist as last year, wishing for the exact things I wished for last year. But accomplishing goals is not about “wishing,” it is about reflecting on what you want, figuring out the steps involved to get there and “doing” the work. It is about “I will” rather than “I wish.”

I know this already, but it is good to have a reminder, which I’m getting everyday this month through the free online “Creative Planathon” that I happened upon. A key component of planning for next year is looking at what has been achieved this year as well as the challenges, and setting goals and action steps for 2015. (One of my goals is to get back to blogging.)

There was no mention of sitting at the formal dining room table to catch your breath so you can hear your own thoughts and listen to your heart’s desire. But, I think this is a good place to start—sitting still in the moment.

The workbook for the planathon has a great quote that says it best:

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”—Yogi Berra

Finding my way

Map1Each year for Christmas, I like to “surprise” myself with art books as gifts. I order the books way ahead of time, wrap them and put them under the tree. I then forget what I ordered and when I open the gift with my name on it on Christmas morning–surprise!

One of my “surprises” this year was Personal Geographies: Explorations in Mixed-Media Mapmaking. I have always loved maps–the lines, the swirls, the shapes, the open invitation to imagine other places. So I love the idea of using the components of maps to make personal art.

The book has exercises in it to get you going on creating these maps. But when I sat down to work on this big piece of paper, using some squeeze bottle craft paints, I had no intention of making a map. However, the notion must have already seeped into my brain because this sure does look like a map.

I don’t think I’m finished with it, so it might not look anything like this when I’m done. I may even tear it up and use it in collages. I just find it fascinating what the brain takes in and what the Muse does with that information.

Showing up to do the work

T-2Happy New Year! Happy new opportunity to create and to tap into the gifts that we have all been given–be it the gift to create art, to dance, to make someone smile, to love.

Coming to the end of a nice winter break, I finally, finally dragged/pushed myself into the studio to try to get done the work I had promised myself that I would be doing every single day of winter break because I would finally have the “time.”

Well, so funny, this “time” business. I seem to have much more of it than I fool myself into thinking that I don’t have. During break I had plenty of time to watch the “Twilight Zone” marathon; plenty of time to watch back-to-back episodes of “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne” reruns; plenty of time to eat too many portions of the potato salad I will spend the rest of winter working off;  but strangely, the “time” to get into the studio was not made.

Procrastination is a bitch. Luckily, I did make time enough to read a great book that showed me this very clearly: The War of Art. I highly recommend this book to any artist. The main point of the book is that we allow so much resistance (in many forms) to stop us from creating and using the talents that we have been given.

The best way to stop it is to just show up and do the work. So, today, that’s what I did. I just showed up at the crafting table, got out a piece of paper, poured some paint on it, and started swirling the paint around. It took great effort to fight off the resistance, the voice saying, “What the hell is this you are painting? It looks like crap!” But I did it. I just worked. No judgement. Just brushes and fingers, painting to the quiet music of the wind blown snow. The result is what you see here above, “Transcending.”

A new year. A new day of just showing up to do the work and letting what happens happen. And then tomorrow.

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