Friday, November 6, 2009

Hello Everyone,

It's been awhile since I've had time to blog. So much to do... so little time!

I recently received this article from Alyson Stanfield at

It has a slight Halloween theme, but hey, I'm only a few days late! Since Thanksgiving is coming soon, now would be a great time to write thank you notes!

Trick and Treat Yourself

Chrysti Hydeck, The Stirring of Birds. Photograph and mixed-media painting.
©The Artist

What chores, tasks, or jobs do you find yourself delaying or ignoring altogether? What do you dread so much that you neglect? Sadly, it’s often the stuff you really need to do--the things you can’t afford to ignore. See if you’re overlooking any of these.

  • Making follow-up calls

  • Writing thank-you notes

  • Updating your mailing list

  • Overhauling your inventory

  • Cleaning your studio or office

  • Balancing your books

  • Researching your next series

  • Making art (It happens!)

If you’ve been procrastinating something, identify it. Don’t be afraid! Just name it. After you’ve confessed, you can trick yourself into completing it and getting it off your mind. Of course, your tricks can be followed by treats. Here are some tricks that have worked for me.

TRICK - - - > Adjust your perspective.
Starting a task you don’t enjoy with a bad attitude won’t help anything. Instead, look at it differently. If you don’t like packing artwork to ship to new owners, don’t think about it as packing artwork. Think of it with a $ in front of it. “Yea! I’m shipping out a $500 sale!” is a better approach than “I really don’t want to go to the store to get more bubble wrap.”

Treat: Download some happy tunes to match your new ‘tude.

TRICK - - - > Take baby steps.
“Clean out my office by Thanksgiving” sounds overwhelming. Instead, focus on the smallest action. Recycle or throw away 5 things each day, organize a single drawer, or buy new files.

Treat: Pick up a new organizing component at the thrift store--maybe a filing cabinet or shelf.

TRICK - - - > Block out time on your calendar.
Having a vague idea that you need to get something done is one thing. Creating time and space for it is quite different. When you see the time scheduled on your calendar, remember that it’s a commitment you made to yourself. Don’t change it just because you’d rather be doing something else.

Treat: “Me Time.” Your gift for honoring the commitment you made to your professional life is time for your personal well-being. Block out more time on your calendar for a hike, a manicure, or a long hot bath.

TRICK - - - > Set your timer.
If you promise to do something for 15 or 30 minutes, you can make a game of it. It’s amazing how hard you will work to beat the clock before time runs out. It also creates a certain amount of momentum, so allow yourself the flexibility to keep going after the timer buzzes.

Treat: Chocolate, of course. Or maybe a small new art supply.

TRICK - - - > Get out.
Sometimes it just takes fresh scenery to be inspired. Plop down at a coffee shop to write your thank-you notes. Visit the library to research your next series instead of staying at your computer. Go to any other room in the house to journal in preparation for your artist statement.

Treat: None. Getting out is a treat in itself!

FINAL WORD: Remember that for every trick you use to complete a project, a treat is waiting for you.

© 2009 Alyson B. Stanfield

Friday, August 14, 2009

Teach A Class!

It's getting to be late summer and everyone has been very busy, including me! As we know there are only so many hours in a day, and oh so many things to do. Sometimes we need a little extra incentive to work on our art projects. So... why not sign up to TEACH a class? One of my top career goals is to teach classes and workshops, besides growing as an artist in jewelry making and watercolor. What better way to make sure things get done than having to be prepared to teach someone else?

Teaching others a new art skill can be a very rewarding experience. Seeing someone learn something new to enrich their quality of life is a reward in itself. It's a good way to get into contact with people, which can be difficult when you are an artist working at home.

Are you skilled enough to teach a class? Start with beginners, who don't know anything about the art skill. You are already a step ahead of them. Teach senior citizens. They would love to learn something different and to get out and socialize with other people. Like self-employed artists, seniors can often be isolated, as well.

So I encourage you this fall to get involved in your community and teach an art class!

Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others. - Confucius

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


It seems I see these words EVERYWHERE these days. From art blogs, to art books, to motivational articles and beyond. It seems I am finally getting the message. Even “naturals” had to practice to learn their craft. Sadly, the most recent example of this was Michael Jackson. No one disputes how gifted and talented a musician and dancer he was. But one of the things I kept hearing over and over again is how much he practiced and rehearsed, first as part of the Jackson 5 and then as a solo artist. They say he could spend an entire day practicing and perfecting one dance move. That is dedication and that is discipline. He WORKED to make his dreams reality. He didn’t get on stage, sing and then go sit on his couch until the next show. Why should we be any different?

For me, fear of doing a mediocre or bad piece stops me from getting around to doing a good piece. That’s ridiculous. Every famous artist has done some not so great pieces in his career. We just don’t see them. You have to create some so-so ones to get the gems in between. In beaded jewelry, it’s easy enough to pull something apart if you don’t like it, but in painting, its on a piece of paper. Either you wash it off or throw it out if you fail. That’s a scary thought. No one wants to take a piece of their art that they have invested their time and heart into and toss it into the trash can. Just because we have physical evidence of our failures during practice, whereas a singer or dancer does not, this should not stop us from creating. Your thoughts???

"I found that the men and women who 
got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they 
had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work." -Harry S. Truman

Do a little more each day than you think you can. -Lowell Thomas

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Caribbean Blues & Floral Magentas

Mimi Frawley of A Thousand Dreams Designs, recently emailed me 2 of her beautiful Nature inspired jewelry projects.
The top picture is her summer free-form peyote bracelet in progress, one of a limited edition of four pieces. She was inspired by this beautiful photo of Dianthus flowers.

Mimi said the Caribbean Bay Blues Charm Bracelet was inspired by the gorgeous blues of a Carribean Bay in the US Virgin Island of St. John. The bracelet is all hand done, including the shell and starfish charms of precious metal clay fired to fine silver (.999 silver) and also includes charms of freshwater coin pearls, Amazonite gem stones, and 6mm swarovski crystals in the color Caribbean Blue Opal.

Notice in the photo of the water, that there is color palette across the top. This is the Color Schemer tool Mimi mentioned in her informative two part blog on color on the ETSY Wisconsin Street "Moo Crew" blog. If you have a MAC you can download this tool for a free 15 day trial, but after that it costs $49.99. You can insert your picture and the program automatically creates a palette from the colors in the picture. The circles (see photo) can be moved around, so you can adjust the palette until you're happy with it. I absolutely LOVE this tool, as I can use it for both my jewelry making and my watercolor painting. So far, I have only spent about 1 hour trying it out, and I am looking forward to seeing what else it can do.

For Windows users, they have a free Color Schemer Color Pix download, but that only picks colors one at a time.

Thanks Mimi, for sharing your stunning Nature-inspired jewelry pieces with us!

(I apologize for the goofy layout of this entry. These Blogspot pre-made templates apparently have a mind of their own.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

www - wonderful watercolor workshop!

Wonderful!  That’s the best word to describe my experience last week as I attended a 5 day watercolor painting workshop taught by Judy Morris.  She is a master of using textures and other design methods such as stenciling, lettering, and stamping in her watercolor painting.  (See her Tratorria painting on her home page for an example. Since my husband and I are wine fanatics and love to go out to eat when we can afford it, I just HAD to buy a giclee reproduction of this painting.)  The event was held in conjunction with the annual juried show of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America.

I had a fantastic time!  The camaraderie with other artists was great, the teaching was superb, and the organization of the workshop itself outstanding.   If you have a chance in whatever media you work in, to get away for a workshop, DO IT! 

There’s nothing better to inspire your creativity and give you new energy than getting away from real life and relaxing for a while.  It’s also inspiring hanging around in the company of other artists.  I was having dinner with 2 of the ladies in a quaint little coffeeshop/restaurant and they stood up and started taking pictures of all the stuff hanging on the walls.  A majority of people wouldn’t even notice these items, but they were seeing all of its art and design and getting inspiration to paint from it! 

If you can’t get away to a workshop, think about joining your local arts organization. You get the benefit of the camaraderie with other artists without the expense of travel and lodging. It can also open you up to other types of art, networking, and show opportunities. And quite frankly, with the current tough economic times, these organizations could really use your help.

Now I must come back down to earth and get busy on a commissioned jewelry piece, which will transform an heirloom wedding ring into a pendant to honor the ring owner’s grandparents.  I’m really getting to like doing these heirloom pieces.

Don’t forget, if you have any recent nature inspired art to email to me for use on my blog, here’s your chance to get some free publicity! (

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Yesterday the temperatures were in the 80's and the leaves are almost fully out on the trees.  Now is the time to get out there and get inspired to create art! No matter what art media you are involved in (I suspect most of you are jewelry makers), inspiration can be found anywhere. Nature is probably THE best inspiration for art.  Look for the following:  colors and color harmonies; textures and patterns, especially in foliage; repetition of color & texture in a scene.  Take a trip to a botanical garden and take pictures of pleasing color combinations amongst the flowers.  Reading books on landscape design are very helpful in learning these principles of art and design.

Email me ( a digital .jpg photo of a Nature inspired art piece you have recently created  and I will try to post them throughout the summer on my blog. Please tell a short story of what in Nature inspired you to create your art.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow." James Michener

This is SOOOO true and fits in well with the comments below. I think I'm going to make a little sign of this one to hang on my computer.

Anybody else want to pick a quote from the post below and tell us how you can use it to increase your productivity?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PROCRASTINATION - What's Your Story?

Below are some quotes about procrastination that I really like. Pick one and tell us how it applies to your art and life: (I love to get comments!)

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment. ~Robert Benchley

The two rules of procrastination: 1) Do it today. 2) Tomorrow will be today tomorrow. ~Author Unknown

You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin

Someday is not a day of the week. ~Author Unknown

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. ~Olin Miller

What may be done at any time will be done at no time. ~Scottish Proverb

A year from now you may wish you had started today. ~Karen Lamb


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sarah's Ring

It was no coincidence that I posted the quote below on Sunday. I knew what my next blog was going to be about: Sarah’s Ring.

Sarah and I met through the young adult singles group at a church I went to 20-25 years ago. Like most people in the group, I eventually got married and lost touch with most of my friends and acquaintances. The last time I saw Sarah was at my wedding in 1993. That was a coincidence. She was attending a banquet at the same hotel/convention complex and saw the sign for my wedding on the door and she poked her head in to say hi. In 2006, I began my jewelry training at the local technical college. I knew she taught there and I hoped I’d run into her sooner or later. Well, it was more later, but to shorten the story some, I saw her at a bake sale and invited her to our student jewelry show/sale. She brought with her a beautiful 10x14 oval jade cabachon and a mangled ring that it once was set in. She said it was her mother’s ring (she had passed away) and could I make a new setting for it?

This was my first major commissioned piece, and in 14K gold which I had less experience working with than sterling silver. I found a beautiful filigree head that was about the size of the stone. She loved it as much as I did and so I ordered it. Unfortunately, it was a fraction too small for the stone. Now, my stonesetting experience at the time was limited to about 6 rings I made in stonesetting class, barely enough to get my feet wet at the skill. I put a few inquiries out to jewelry making forums on how to do this. As you may know, it is not typical to set cabachons in 4 prong settings but it certainly can be done. Getting written advice is definitely not as good as seeing someone else do it, but I plugged on with it SLOWLY.

Being a perfectionist and knowing the trials and tribulations I went through with jewelry class projects, I did not want to get ahead of my abilities. And I did not want to have to do things over or repair them in process. I did not work on the ring when I did not feel I could give it my best, so it took me awhile to complete the ring. Just when I thought it was completed I decided the stone hung over the setting too far unprotected on the ends. Now what was I going to do? After thinking about it for a few days, it dawned upon me to use the end prongs from her old setting which were still usable. I had some difficulties getting those on the new ring and one broke off once so I had to redo it, but I persevered and yesterday I finally delivered the finished ring to Sarah. This piece is a redesigned family heirloom that she will pass on to her niece someday when she herself passes on. The original end prongs that I used to solve a problem that had arisen in process gave the ring even more beauty and sentimental value.

So what point am I trying to make? Perseverance allowed me to provide her with a beautiful heirloom ring. Taking my time allowed me to work through the challenges without having to redo things over and over, or having to replace a prong or two in the process. Was it all a joyful experience as I was working on it, and did I feel guilty for how long it was taking me? No, and you bet.

But I sure was happy yesterday when I saw the smile on her face when she got the ring. That smile and thank you made it all worth it. And I got the challenge of taking on and succeeding at a project that I would probably never had attempted or finished on my own. And, despite some minor imperfections, I was very happy with the finished product.

So don’t be afraid to take on a challenge, but remember to be patient and persevere throughout the process. I think perseverance has helped me get or achieve most all the good things I have in my life and that will probably be true in your life as well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Patience & Perseverance

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect 
before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."   

 -John Quincy Adams

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Posting comments

If you have trouble posting comments, try this:  The first time you press the submit button, it may give you a message about the comment not posting. Push this button again, and it gives you one of those cryptic words to retype. Then submit it again and this time it should work.


How tedious is a guilty conscious  - John Webster (English writer/playwright 1580-1632)

I don’t know about you, but I have dealt with guilt for many years about not having a “real job”.  These days EVERYBODY has, or used to have, a REAL JOB.  If you didn’t, there must be something wrong with you, or so I thought.  I guess this is why I never pursued any of my art beyond college, even I thought I thoroughly enjoyed it and did well at it (at least my teachers said so).  I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough to make a living at art.

So like many of you, I pursued other options that seemed right at the time, but never really made me happy.

This morning I decided to look up the definiton of guilt: 

1:    the act of having committed a breach of conduct especially violating law and involving a penalty.

2a:  the state of one who has committed an offense especially consciously

2b:  feelings of culpability, especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy: self- reproach.

3. a feeling of culpability for offenses.

The only one that comes close to describing me is 2b, so I looked up the definition of self-reproach:

 - a feeling of deep regret (usually for some misdeed)

- the act of blaming yourself

A “guilt trip” is defined as a prolonged feeling of deep regret.

Okay, so maybe I have been on a major guilt trip. But to where and for what?  What misdeed have I done? 

The loss of income?  Would that extra income have made my husband and I happier?  In many ways, no.

For not becoming the successful person I could have become?  It depends on how you define success.  And my life isn’t over, yet.

So I declare myself and anybody else out there who has felt this way, “NOT GUILTY!”

Go work on your art and try your very best to not feel any guilt about it, because you are not doing anything WRONG!  

You are doing something right, creative, and beautiful!




guilt trip

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Early Spring - Assessment Time

By our place in March and early April  it still looks like winter, even though it is officially spring.  Winter can be a long season up here, and it is lengthened because our property is wooded. The snow just doesn't melt as fast as in the open areas.  This time of year it is a little harder to stay motivated.  

Now is a good time to take stock of what art you have completed throughout winter and what projects you would like to do during the warmer months.  Perhaps this year some of us might try some plein air painting (painting outdoors in Nature). What appeals to me about this method is the looseness of the art.  You don't get bogged down in the details of every blade of grass or twig.  And since one of my medias is watercolor, that is what I am working towards.  Let your mind fill in the details as it looks at the painting and save yourself some time and energy.   This principle can apply to my jewelry work, as well.

My art themes for this spring and summer are: free, loose, abstract, small, and quick.  Does anyone want to join me?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Aim for Success - Not Perfection

I'd like to start this blog off with an inspiring quote:

"Aim for success not perfection...  Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person."   -Dr. David Burns

Share your comments on how this quote can be applied to YOUR artistic pursuits.

Monday, March 16, 2009


This blog is about YOU.  What can we (all of us) do to help you become a more creative and productive artist?  What kind of motivation do you need?   A supportive comment?   Accountability to others for getting a project done?  A motivational quote for the day?

This blog is to let artists know they are not alone in their feelings about their art processes. Chances are near perfect that other artists are going through the same thoughts or struggles you may be experiencing now.  That's why I started this blog. Let's help each other create ART!