Ooops!

I’ve been practicing on depth, dimension, shadows, and realism in the colored pencils on plain paper just for fun in recent days, trying to improve something somewhere along the way as I do each one.  Today’s project was a small cluster of bright red cherries in front of a wedge of ripe watermelon.  The cherries were the easy part.  I have a long way to go to work on the realism with a watermelon though to say the least!

I’m self-taught.  Haven’t really wanted to take classes or lessons for fear it would ruin the ‘fun’ aspect of art for me if I knew I had to draw a specific thing that was not of my choosing and turn it in by a deadline.  That’s intimidating even without the possibility of critique at the end!  So, I remain self-taught, but have lately taken up watching every YT video I can find on the subject of coloured pencil drawing and even some pastel (chalk) as well since I did that media for many years before other things took my attention away from it.

I love to draw, have done since I was big enough to hold a pencil and not hurt myself with it, slowly going from pencil line drawings to butterflies to birds in crayon to chalk pastel portraits to today’s coloured pencil workings and colouring pages.  Today was rotten.  To the core rotten.  Pouring rats, cats, & dogs outside all morning and there I was rolling slowly 10 miles to work in the dark and the rain.  Ugh.   Anyone who knows me how much I hate driving, even in good weather with the sun up already.  This morning’s commute was nothing short of hell.  Pure unadulterated hell.  So, once I got back home, for good that is since hubby and I went out to lunch today for a change, I slipped into my jammies,put on some Enya and worked on the picture I’d started yesterday.  Cherries and a wedge of watermelon. It was going very well until I stood back at realized that the shadows were all wrong for the watermelon.  Not that it looked all that realistic in the first place, but well, if the shadows are heading towards the left, then the right side of the watermelon shouldn’t be shadowed, now should it!  Oooops! Cherries cropped, resized So out came the gum eraser and the boo boo was eradicated and the shadow was placed elsewhere.  it’s okay, but I know it needs lots of work before I’ll be where I want to be.  Maybe I try some faces, which I have had more experience with in the past and see how they do with pencils, but if we plan to draw, we need to keep our net cast widely.  Draw anything and everything.  Do it often.  Keep stretching those boundaries outward.  It never hurts to go sideways and try something way off from where you’ve been going.  Being flexible doesn’t hurt and who knows, you might find that you have a flair for something else entire different from what you thought you excelled in.

 

Have you noticed how popular this new adult colouring pages trend has become?  It’s amazing to see how it’s just exploded onto the scene! Though I never grew tired of colouring all these many years, I didn’t do much until now when these highly detailed colouring books started appearing on bookshelves and stores, justifying my longing to colour anything and everything.  I think there should be a roll of designs so we can colour our own wrapping paper.  Don’t you agree?  Adult designs, intricate, fun and once you’ve completed it, you have a beautiful, totally unique paper to wrap something up for someone special.  Let’s do this!  Maybe butcher paper, using the paper side, not the waxy one.  I have lots of that around thanks to the soaping biz already in place, so let’s do something new and see what happens.  It would definitely take a while to colour up a roll of paper, but hey, it would be pretty and very unique.  And I love unique!

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Busy holidays in other directions

Holidays for soapmakers are always super busy, exhausting, and the days are way too long.  Online soap stores might lead you to believe that the site’s owners have it easy, but you’d be very  wrong.  When you sell online exclusively, no matter the reason why it’s done this way, is harder than anyone else’s way of selling.

There are fewer avenues for public exposure of your brand, product and name.  The reputation earned becomes exponentially harder to build.  You’re going to be selling based on supposition,  trust, and a touch of curiosity from a buying public who’ve never heard of you up to now.  While you might have been at it for years, it can be painful to hear they’ve never heard of you until they did a Google search or a friend of theirs bought from you recently ‘just out of curiosity’ or a cousin on your husband’s side of the family twice removed was gifted with your product and dear cousin had great things to say about their experience with your products.

So what do you do when this is how it’s going?

You post – long, often and vividly.  Everywhere.

Having a YouTube is fine, but if you aren’t uploading videos, posting how-tos or doing a video review and making these all searchable, it won’t matter much.  Trust me when I say, uploading a video is NOT a quick task.  It can take a long time before the editing is done once you’ve just made the video.  I spent two full days on one video editing it until I was ready to through the entire thing in the virtual trash can. But I didn’t.  So this avenue is time-consuming but it’s an avenue of public exposure of your brand, your methodology – a chance for others to see what you do and how you do it, and in some cases to see you face-to-face. This matters more than you think!

Other social media is also important, Facebook, Instagram, blogs such as this one, Twitter,  Pinterest, Google+.  There are others, but these I’m familiar with and they are huge black holes for time.  Still, they are important, so do them yourself with sincerity, keeping it fresh, relevant, and colourful!

Posting current updates to each of these to keep your name & face visible and viable takes far more time out of your creative time than you might realize.  Mine have clearly suffered for this very reason from both sides.  I’ve made little due to illness in the family and working a second job so it isn’t possible to stay on top of it all unless you dedicate to it full time or pay for ads which, let’s face it, most of us already know doesn’t work and can’t afford.  Post Planner is nice, but again, it doesn’t really work all that well for a couple of reasons.  One – you have to pay for it if you really want it to do what it’s supposed to do.  Two – its posts aren’t all that relevant to what you create.  They are ‘feel-good’ or ‘heartstring twangers’ for the most part. Might work for some, but it really didn’t work for me.

Take a moment to think like your buyers and see what you can do that will make them see you in a stronger light.  Do they want to see more of what you already are doing?  Do they really get something from you they can’t find somewhere else?  Is what you create uniquely you?  Based on your responses to these, what can you change to make your business thrive into the coming year 2016? How can you grow as an entrepreneur and in what directions will you grow?

You have so many things keeping you busy around the holidays just with family, food and gifts there’s little time for the creative side to shine for a bit. But if you’re in business, that creativity is necessary to stay in business and remain visible to the public.  So take a nice, deep, cleansing breath,, eyes closed and savor that for a moment.  Enjoy this holiday first, then once it’s in your rearview mirror, move forward to grow your business in directions that will get you seen, heard, and experienced in whole new ways.  One simple new thing might be all it takes to make it a profitable year for you, so do that. Make lists of what could be tried this year that wasn’t done last year. Think about making signage like car door magnet to advertise your biz and use a local printer to do this. Have bsuiness cards and samples with you everywhere you go.  I mean literally everywhere! Let people know what you do and name groups or guilds of which you are a member. Get reviewed by others and have them post it somewhere so others can hear about your products from a third party that isn’t biased in any way.  Just remember that what ever you might add to your cotery of equipment to expand your horizons, it’s a deductible expense, so keep receipts, manage your records, manage your time and grow, grow, grow!