Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Music That Will Increase Your Concentration

Last week I wrote about how I stay motivated and focused as a full time mom and artist. Today, I want to share something along a similar line of thinking. Recently, I recognized a change I have made that has increased my concentration while working in the studio. Since I have short stints of time to work, having very focused sessions is extremely important.

Most, if not all, artists listen to music while they create. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of differing genres of music. If you looked at my pandora stations you would probably be very confused by the mix of country, acapella, heavy metal (thanks to sharing a room while growing up with my then gothic sister), alternative rock, Disney music, and more. I usually rotate between the diverse music stations I have curated over the years depending upon which stage of the creative process I am currently in.

However, I just started listening to a new music station that I have found to be very beneficial in my art making process: Instrumental music. While I was a studying for my Bachelor degrees (yes, I have two ;) ) I spent time at my mentor/professor's, Daniel Chard, home for small group critiques as well as summer intensive painting classes. While I was working within his studio space he would often listen to classical or instrumental music. And now I know why! It is extremely helpful in increasing concentration while painting.

If you are an artist or like to create, you know there is a certain mental state that you need to be in the make your best work. Personally, I have found that listening to instrumental music provides me with the opportunity to "get lost" in the process of art making. Instead of focusing on the words of a song or pressing skip to song I don't care for, the melodies and rhythms of the instruments enhance the experience.

I am so glad Pandora suggested that I listen to the Instrumental Chill Radio station. It's has definitely helped to improve the quality and amount of work I can accomplish in the studio. If you are on Pandora, give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Staying Motivated and Focused

I have been asked frequently by fellow artists and creative entrepreneurs how I stay motivated and find the time to make art while raising our young children. While I am flattered many people think I am accomplishing a lot, I sometimes feel like I am not doing enough. There is always more that could be done but I constantly remind myself that I am only one person with many responsibilities, just like everyone else. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination! But I make my art practice and business a priority while still putting the needs of my family first. Below are some the strategies and systems I have found helpful in my art business practice that keep me motivated and focused.

There is no better way to keep me motivated and on track than a list of what I need or want to get done. I often joke that my lists have lists, which in all reality, they do.  I like to start my week by creating a "brain dump" list of all things I need or want to accomplish in the week. These things include household chores, errands, creative benchmarks, business items, and more.

Then, I organize my week by assigning my to do's to each day of the week. I try to group similar tasks on the same day or on days that I know I will have the time to successful accomplish those tasks. For example, if I know it's going to rain one day coming up, I'll schedule cleaning or paperwork for that day. If it's going to be a beautiful day, I'll run errands. You get the idea. I try to set myself up to be the most productive so I can check tasks off when completed.

This year I decided to combine my yearly business notebook (where I brainstorm ideas) with my planner. I purchased the Big Happy Planner in vertical format and it has been a game changer! Each week has space for my "brain dump" session and each day of the week has a section so I can designate which day I do certain tasks. I love that I can take the pages out and pop them back in place when I am done. You can view the planner I am using this year by clicking here.

I know it seems counterintuitive to add another thing onto a never ending to do list, but exercise is a necessity for me. When I started to add in regular exercise to my day, it greatly impacted my ability to get more done and stay focused. By taking time for myself and moving my body, it makes me feel better about myself while providing more energy and motivation to get more done.

I also equate my exercise time to my once long commute when I was a tenured art teacher. I would drive 50+ miles one way to work and it provided me an opportunity to reflect and think. My drive was the best time to prepare for my teaching day by mentally going through all that I needed to accomplish when I arrived. I also had time to think of ways to improve my teaching and dream up projects. Now that I am a full time mom and business owner, my exercise time provides me with that same mental space to think and reflect about what I need to do or want to create.

Working Time
Another way that I stay motivated is by setting regular studio working time. Being a full time mom, it's hard to find the time, so I make it! I carve out nonnegotiable time to paint around my family's needs. For example, I wake up early to get an hour or two in the studio before my kids get up for the day. I also work after they go the bed. Even if I am exhausted after a long day, I make myself work to take advantage of the studio time. It's definitely not easy but it's easier to stick to a designated work schedule to keep myself focused.

Finding the Best Time
Another productivity tip I have discovered is to find the best time that I can successfully do a particular task. For example, I tried to exercise first thing in the morning. However, I quickly found out that it wasn't the best time for me do so. I performed better in the afternoon and could exercise while my kids played. That in turn freed up my early morning to paint in the studio before everyone else woke up.

I also categorize tasks by what I can do with my kids and what is best done with my full attention (i.e. painting). I usually run errands or clean the house with the kids. I save emails or other business related tasks for when they are sleeping or playing independently.

As my family grows and changes, I try to adapt to their needs while still striving to accomplish what I need creatively. It's definitely a work in progress that constantly needs balancing. I find it fun trying to figure out how to fit everything in. If you are an artist or business owner, how do you stay motivated and focused?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

January Workshop Sold Out

The January Snowman Plate Painting Workshop on Saturday, January 19th from 10AM  - 1PM is sold out! Thank you to everyone who registered to join me! See you all then!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Donation to the Salem Tech FFA Chapter

Last year I debuted the first version of the Salem County Farmlands calendar and donated a portion of the sales to the Woodstown FFA Chapter. It was very well received and I decided to improve upon it and offer the calendar again. Some of the improvements were adding 3 more pictures per month, including the locations for each photograph, and information about myself and a selection of my paintings.

For 2018, I chose to donate $5 of each calendar sold to the Salem Tech Future Farmer's of America Program because I want to continue to help local students who are learning to become active members of our agricultural community. Yesterday, I presented the Salem Tech FFA Chapter with a check donation from the calendar sales. In total, 113 calendars were sold and a donation of $565 was made! It feels so good to give back to one of my high school alma maters. For those that don't know, I graduated from Arthur P. Schalick H.S. AND Salem Vocational Technical H.S. I hope this donation helps them achieve their goals and further their education in agriculture.

I am so thankful for everyone who purchased a calendar to give as a gift or to have for themselves. Every purchase is truly appreciated! I hope that both my paintings and photographs can ignite a sense of pride in where we live and an appreciation for the spectacular landscapes that we live upon. I also want to highlight the hard working farmers that dedicate their lives to agriculture and inspire me so much in the artwork that I create.

Presenting the donation to the Salem Tech FFA Chapter

2018 Salem County Farmlands Calendar

If you are a farmer in Salem County that would like to be a part of next year's calendar, please click here to fill out the form

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Looking Back on 2018 and Ahead to 2019

Happy New Year! I wanted to reflect on 2018 and ahead to 2019. This past year was not as productive as I had hoped to be with the loss of my Grandmom. I spent most of the year coming to terms with her passing and helping my family. I am so grateful for all of the support that I have received this past year from customers, the community, and people who follow me on social media. Below is a list of my accomplishments from this year and the paintings that I made.

Looking Back on 2018

  • Creative Capital Artist Professional Development Series - May 2018
  • Worked with Alyson Stansfield at the Lancaster Mastermind Workshop
  • Raised $565 for the Salem Tech FFA Program with the Salem County Farmlands Calendar
  • Pitman Gallery & Art Center Member Show - December 2018
  • Second Annual Holiday Open House - December 2018
  • Pitman Art Stroll, Pitman Gallery and Art Center - September 2018
  • Salem County Arts in Bloom Studio Tour, Exhibiting Artist - May 2018
  • Hen's & Honey Fall Extravaganza - September 2018
  • South Jersey Rollin Rods Car Show at Bellevue Winery - September 2018
  • Woodstown's Fourth Friday - June 2018
  • Bast Brother's Spring Festival - April 2018
  • South Jersey Biz, Issue #4 - April 2018
"Growing Undercover" - Acrylics on Gessoboard - 8" x 10" by Kimberly English © 2018

"The Nameless" - Acrylics on Gessoboard - 12" x 12" by Kimberly English © 2018

Adding onto an existing mural

Looking Ahead to 2019

My big goal for 2019 is to create more art! I want to continue to expand my acrylic portfolio with more agricultural landscapes, vintage trucks, and farm animals. This year I would like to revisit my original medium of choice: drawing. I thought a great way to do that is through a 30 day drawing challenge where I will create a drawing everyday for one month. I even thought I could share the process of the drawing challenge via social media live feeds. I am hoping it will provide me the opportunity to be more creative, fulfill my need to teach, and reach a different audience that I have previously with my paintings.

Thank you for your continued support of my artwork. I look forward to sharing my creations with you throughout the year!