I grew up in a home where both my parents owned their own businesses, and each of my parents’ fathers did as well. The concept of paid time off is still bonkers to me, even though I have worked my corporate job for 7 years. For my parents, every dollar that was used for our family was earned by blood, sweat, and tears. It was a given that the night before a big event (and they had a lot of them) required anything else that was going on to be put aside for everyone to work on pulling off whatever ambitious idea they would ultimately pull off.
What I learned growing up is that having a successful small business means that there will be risks that pay off, and ones that don’t. There will be lean months (or years). Something can seem like the BEST idea but it just doesn’t come together. You have to work very, very hard for even the smallest victory. But when that victory comes? Oh man. The first show I participated in to sell my prints, I only sold one. One! That should have been discouraging, but instead I was exhilarated. I couldn’t believe that someone would use their own hard-earned money to take home my art. I used that experience and have been learning, tweaking, and growing.
So thank you to my parents for showing me what it takes to do this. It is not easy, but I at least have an idea of what I’m getting into. On Friday nights before a big art show when I am running around like a mad woman, when I constantly have a to-do list and schedule in my head that is impossible to accomplish, when I am weighing the pros-and-cons if something new is worth the investment – I know I can do this. Especially with the support of my husband keeping me sane and carrying heavy things, and my parents always being up for talking through business ideas way past the point when other people would be sick of it.
I have spent the day working on a mini and stocking up on my necklaces for the Seward Winter Frolic next weekend. Like I mentioned, the to-do list never ends. Also, almost everything on my website is free shipping until December 15th, so keep that in mind for your Christmas shopping. Thank you to everyone of your support in this endeavor!
Whenever I’m at an event, I always have a piece to work on. My original intent was to give myself something to work on to keep my nervous energy focused on something productive. And by Hour 6 of sitting in a tent or Day 2 of a 3 day extravaganza, it starts to feel like a loooong day. By making some progress on whatever long-term project I have going, I can always feel accomplished. I have a lot of conversations with other artists who are envious because they would like to have something to do by Hour 6 or they are a potter/oil painter/something that can’t be worked on in a corner of a tent.
And this has led to amazing things! I have had so many conversations with people about how I do what I do – the epiphany that started it, the compulsion to keep going, and the end product that makes the investment of time all worth it. But working on this piece at the Minnesota State Fair was truly the highlight of my summer. 12 hours of constant talking, working, and pushing forward. The Fine Arts Building hosts a different artist each day during the fair to demonstrate their craft. This is not something that I applied for, so it is an honor that someone in charge thought of me specifically for this opportunity. For non-Minnesotans, it is hard to explain how BIG the MN State Fair is. My parents flew in for the event, my husband hung out at the fair all day in support, and many other family and friends came by as well. I had a few art shows in September, and at each one there were people who recognized my art from the state fair. I consider that miraculous because the whole point of the state fair is sensory overload! To remember my demonstration, or “Adorned” that was displayed, in the sea of sights and smells (oh, the smells) is incredible to me.
But now the summer has quickly come to a close and it is time to gear up for the holiday season (WHAT). I’m secretly hoping for an extra-snowy winter so I can just be locked up with my glue and embroidery floss and make art. Lots and lots of art. And by “lots” I mean spend hours on a few square inches. That’s what I’ve signed up for though!
When I’m looking for what my next piece will be, I am drawn to my “sacred spaces” – in this case I was inspired from an image from my wedding at a lake house in the fall 5 years ago.
This was started at the Camano Island show back on Mother’s Day weekend, and it had been in process since then. I wanted to use vibrant colors – in the tree alone are all kinds of greens, yellows, reds, and some teal/blues. I continued the jewel tones into the water. The sky contains a lot of yellow, with some purple and teal to tie it all together. I experimented with some new textures for the water and sky as well. Gotta keep things interesting!
And, like always, this was under a deadline and it really came down to the wire. I needed to turn it in this weekend for the MN State Fair, and due to some poor planning on my part I had a lot of hours of work left going into the week. It felt impossible. I literally spent every free waking minute gluing. So much gluing. My husband kept me fed, and all other responsibilities went by the wayside for a week. It felt like the college experience of getting ready for an art critique, but my days of being able to stay up late for nights on end and still be able to operate at 100% are basically over. I still love the adrenaline rush though.
The other piece that I was absolutely determined to do was build a custom frame. I wanted something unique (beyond a standard black frame) to highlight the tree. Also, since this would be hanging in the ginormous space of the Fine Arts Building, it needed to be pretty substantial. My husband thought I was crazy when I first sprung it on him that this was what I wanted to do, but of course he was up for the challenge and with me every step of the way (including making multiple trips to Home Depot when it took me a few attempts to cut the glass – oops!). In the end, I think it was worth it, and I’m excited about the framing possibilities in the future.
This weekend was a difficult…in the journey of making work and getting it out into the world, there is a lot of disappointment and frustration. There are interactions with people that you think will lead to a big sale or interesting opportunity, and it just doesn’t pan out. Submitting work to gallery shows (and oftentimes paying for this chance) just to get rejected is standard. Same thing with art fairs – most of the “good” ones are juried, so you pay for them to review your work and then if you get accepted to the show, the booth fee itself is an additional expense. Then there is all of the time and financial investment leading up to the event – making work, restocking prints, promoting the event on your social media, purchasing things to display and transport the work, making sure all the ducks are in a row. All of this is for an event that could be a total bust. Maybe attendance isn’t high, or your work is just not a good fit for the customers attending…a lot can go wrong.
So that brings me to this weekend. I had been really excited for the Minnehaha Art Fair. It was the first year, and I was optimistic about how it would go. It was just a one-day event on Saturday. Setting up a tent and the display takes my husband and I a couple of hours, so we got thereat 7:30 AMand got the tent up just in time for the rain to start. No problem – generally once it is up you stay fairly dry and can wait for it to pass. Only this time, it didn’t. The storm got stronger and stronger. Other artists around me were giving up and leaving. The ground, even under my tent, was a giant mud puddle an inch deep. I was soaked to the bone and juggling setting up in the right order without getting anything important covered in rain and mud.At 9:45 AM, after I managed to get everything set up and 15 minutes before the show was supposed to start, it was cancelled. It made sense – it’s not great being in a tent in the middle of a lightning storm, and it looked like the storm was going to stick around longer than what had been anticipated earlier that morning. So I call my husband to come back, and we carry everything pack – trip after trip in the pouring rain of bringing my prints, framed work, tables, and tent back to our cars. Truly, one of the more miserable experiences of our recent history. We looked at each other and were trying to decide if this would be one of the moments we would never speak of again, or if it would be funny later after some time passed. When it was bright and sunnyat 2 PMthat afternoon and my husband was mowing the lawn, it still wasn’t funny but at least we could commiserate about it.
I don’t often talk about the behind-the-scenes aspects of this, but I think it is important. I have a lot of conversations about the time it takes to make my art and the patience involved in finishing a piece. However, the “business” part of it is much harder. It takes a lot of time, money, and energy to get the work in front of people that is totally separate from the process of creating. While I think the successes do make it worth it, there are a lot of difficult times scattered between.
I’m still waiting to hear from the organizers what will happen. I’m hoping it will be rescheduled since I still think it would be a fun event. I think I’ll just need a little bit of time to emotionally recover from going back to that park.
I finally have a second to breathe after the AMAZING Camano Island and Art-a-Whirl art weekends. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to talk with me about my art and process, and to those who took some of my work home with them as well – both events had an enormous amount of options from artists all across the art spectrum, and I am honored by all of those who chose one of my prints, cards, magnets, or originals in the sea of beautiful artwork to see and purchase.
For those who have been watching my Instagram, they have seen this piece some along since I started working on it in November 2018. One thing that I always try to do is to work within common framing ratios – when someone purchases a print, it is important to me that they can get a standard frame and do not bring it home to realize they have to spend a small fortune on custom framing.
So for the Camano Island show, I wanted to do a panorama view of driftwood of the coast of the area. To keep it within the standard ratio I decided to try something new and add a border. I started the piece before I knew what the border would be. I had originally planned on some sort of quilting pattern, but I wanted one that had some meaning to my family. Sunnyshore Studios celebrates my family legacy of artists, and my grandma has a story for what seems like every road or plot of land in the area. This view is from my father’s cousin’s property that I explored on an earlier trip to Washington, and I wanted to continue to work with celebrating the generational story. I asked my grandma for any quilts she had and I searched for quilt patterns that referenced “Day” (my maiden name), but nothing was clicking.
In February, I flew out to Portland and was helping my parents go through their home that they have lived in for 30 years. One of the things we came across was a partially-finished embroidered tablecloth that my mom had worked on years ago. Unfortunately, the pattern had been accidently washed out before it could be completed and she couldn’t part with it at the time, so it got packed away with the other tablecloths. I really liked the pattern, and cut off the finished corner and took it with me to adapt for this piece. While I don’t actually embroider in the traditional sense, I like the idea of paying homage to the deep history of fiber arts. This adapted pattern also looks like a sun, tying to the rising sun across the coast in the image and my family name.
I spend so much time with these large pieces and it is a weird feeling when they are completed – a mix of relief, excitement, and awkwardness because now I don’t know what to do with my hands. But here it is! If you haven’t yet, check out the time lapse in the earlier post of me working on a portion of this piece. Now on to the next….
Every year when Christmas comes around, I always hem and haw about what to do for my family, and, like clockwork, I come up with some idea of something to make a week before that requires hours and hours to complete it. This year was more of the same.
I thought to myself, “Amanda, you should make a little original for your mother since she doesn’t have one yet!” Great! But of course, I underestimated the time it would take and presented her (along with a scavenger hunt with poems – it’s a thing we do) with a 3/4 finished piece. Oops! Thankfully they are in town for a few more days so I could finish it before they leave.
This past fall, my mom’s dad’s side of the family had a family reunion at a camp in British Columbia. I wasn’t able to go, but my dad took some pictures and sent them to me for potential inspiration. I loved this one of a little cabin on the bank of a river with a cold, crisp fog descending on the forest. It felt like a perfect blend of the best parts of fall in the Pacific Northwest and in the Midwest.
If you like this, I’ll be adding this to the options for cards! Let me know and I’ll send you an update once they are available.
In honor of Small Business Saturday, I have added cards and magnets to be purchased though my website! Also, for today and tomorrow only, I’m offering free shipping on print, cards and magnets. Prints make great present for someone who has just moved into a new space to help make it theirs, unique cards are perfect for checking in on someone at this time of the year to let them know you’re thinking about them, and magnets are cute stocking stuffers or hostess gifts!
I wanted to do another time lapse, but this time I re-visited the burned wood panel and acrylic painted dots. This is made on a 6×6 wood panel, and is a little hasta from Como Park Conservatory Sunken Garden. Me and garden plants are not friends in general, but there is something about hastas that I have always been drawn to. I like the fullness of the plant, the shapes of the leaves and how they open around each other, and the details in the colors.