Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chicken Scratching And Other Thoughts

I approach the art business pretty much how I ran my contracting business; there's a job to do, a right and wrong way to do it (I choose the right way, of course), a length of time it will take, amount of money, expected final outcome, etc...etc... This makes me very focused and 'project' driven. For the most part I have commissions or jobs to work on daily. If I don't, I try and 'make up' work that must be done, that's the creative challenge for me. Sometimes what I make is just a bunch of crap and it gets tossed into the trash...or it is given away on my Linda Sheets Art page at Facebook. Usually someone likes it a lot more than I do. Or I go out into the little woodworking workshop in my garage and cut and sand lumber which is very satisfying and often results in a fun piece of furniture or decorative box or what-not.  Right now, this is my project;
Chicken Scratchin' Book. I'm trying to raise the funds at kickstarter. I know exactly how much it costs, and how much work it takes to 'build' this book. So far though, I have not raised enough or attracted attention from the backyard chicken community. I still have over 30 days to make this happen, and I believe in the project, so we'll see if I can blog, tweet, instagram, facebook, pinterest, this enough to find folks who want a portrait of their chickens and a place in the book. Plan B, if it doesn't fund? I'll tweak it and re-launch soon after. I am persistent. So here it is, share and share again, please. I can't do this alone. I already do so much alone, I need your help. Thanks for stopping by.
Click HERE to see the project.  This is a sample two page spread. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kickstarter, Chickens, And Marketing

The Chicken Scratchin' book continues to fund until March 6th. It's slow but sure. Here are some observations about popular projects on kickstarter that seem to always fund above and beyond the requested amount:
Coffee: mostly new improved ways to brew it, dispense it etc... One of the projects that raised big bucks was an affordable espresso machine, which hasn't seemed to come to least from the comments I've read, production is way behind and folks are unhappy. Now, I like coffee, in fact I love coffee, but I guess having the 'perfect' cup every time is less important to me than it is to others.
Wallets: Esp. super skinny. I guess this is for the 'hipsters' in their skinny jeans. Lord knows you don't want a big bulge in your back pocket, or the front pocket. What more than ID, credit card and a little cash do you need anyway? There are even some that you can slide your smart phone into. Wow. Since I'm not skinny and my jeans are baggy I guess this really isn't for me. I can go into any leather shop or amazon and find a pretty good wallet. I'm still amazed at how many of these projects to 're-invent' the wallet there are out there!
Pens: This is truly interesting to me, as hardly anyone writes anymore. We all type, or text or when I write it is more like printing and I just use one of my art pens. They make these pens out of vintage wood from liquor casks, or sustainable, reclaimed, recylcled, upcycled wood that came from who knows where. It's a pen for crips sake. Do we really need 6,000 more of these on the earth for folks who've forgotten how to write?
Watches: Ok, I admit to being totally baffled by this one. I use my phone to tell time. It's super easy and I don't have to look at my wrist. Hell, I look at my phone about 5,000 times a day, so I usually know where I am and what time it is. There are so many different versions of watches being made on kickstarter I have to wonder if I somehow fell asleep and went backwards in time.
Oh yeah, one more, Playing Cards: there are more artist designed or machine designed decks of cards raising money on kickstarter, along with the odd ball Tarot versions left and right. How often do all y'all play cards? And what card games are you playing? Or maybe you're just framing these beautiful works of art and using the usual cards to play your poker with. Oh, no wait, you can play poker on the computer with virtual cards. All of this scrambles my brain. And it is to say; there is no other Chicken Scratchin' book project being marketed out there...just me, maybe I need to do like everyone else and make a Coffee Drinking Chicken with a watch and skinny wallet writing on a deck of cards...Nah!  So take a look here. Let's make a chicken book just for fun.
One last thing, I have received at least six solicitations from various marketing firms that have formed just for the online crowdfunding model.  My answer is NO. Stop sending your damned emails saying, "How nice your project is, I can help you..."
They want money to bug the hell out of your social networks....I can do that myself, thank you!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chickens and Other Life Stuff...

The project is funding at Kickstarter, slowly, but surely. As a friend told me today, "Don't get discouraged, you're a 'doer' and you will make it happen". That and a sale of a folk art cat and dog on etsy at my shop made me feel a lot better. And you don't have to have a chicken to back the project, there are plenty of $$ levels that don't require you have a chicken in the book. Although, I will be beating the bushes for chickens to draw and tell stories about...that's the whole point of the book. To see the project and a pretty funny video of me with a rooster comb go HERE.
I've also been giving away a lot of my older artworks on the Linda Sheets Art Facebook page. That is always a fun ride. It helps me clean out the studio so I can make more art. And I ask folks to make a donation to a shelter. Win-win.
The other life stuff going on today is that it is the 10th anniversary of my father's death. I always acknowledge it every year, this year though seems to be even more significant. I was there for the whole dang deal. He knew he was dying and wanted to do it at home. So, back to Indiana I went to help care for him,  and spent the time saying goodbye and loving him...and crushing pills, mixing them with water and squirting them into his mouth to keep the pain at bay. He and I didn't always get along, in fact for most of our relationship it was difficult as he was kind of a tyrant. But the last year and a half of his life we made up for lost time.  When he got sick it was a true wake-up call for me and that's when I began moving back to art and more and more away from construction. It was a sweet gift he gave to me. And even as hard as it was being one of his caretakers at the end, it was an extraordinary experience that I will never forget. So that's where I am today in a nutshell. Pushing the book project, and having sweet, sad memories of my dad.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chickens...All De Time and Such!

I've been drawing chickens and chicken-like creatures for the past 12 years. The above is 'Chicken-Man', and it's just a silly little wooden sculpture I picked up at a yard sale. I've done a number of renditions of him over the years, (the second image is early black and white scratchboard work of mine) there's something quirky and fascinating about him, and I like drawing quirky.  Unfortunately there is no signature, so the artist is unknown. Most likely this came from some sweatshop in Mexico or Central America where folks making one after another earn next to nothing.  Even though I'm earning next to nothing right now, I am still so much better off then they are. Wow. There's a thought. I'm sipping my starbucks coffee, the heat and electricity is on and I have food for breakfast. I'm lucky, and happy to be living my dream of making art my life's work.  I've got a few commissions on the table, and I hope to fund the Chicken Scratchin' book project on kickstarter. Take a look at it right HERE. You don't have to have chickens to participate, but if you know folks with chickens please share. A friend has said that this might be a stretch to fund because people have a much different relationship with their chicks, "they're not really 'pets' and sometimes you eat them". I hope she's wrong, or even if she's right, I think this could be a really sweet book. Working on my plan B idea, in case it doesn't fund.
Still moving forward with the Art Nomad idea. Sell the house, buy a little RV and make art wherever I am with lower living costs.  Just Opal Mae the cat, and me in the little box on wheels. Dreamy!
This Saturday (tomorrow) I will be posting new 'old' artworks on my Linda Sheets Art page for free. Yes, free. All you have to do is, pay shipping and any special packing, give a donation to a shelter of your choice, click like on my page and say I WANT THIS! That's it. I'm cleaning out the studio and these are pieces that either were not super successful as a gallery piece, or they are old style for me, whatever they are/were, they can be yours. I'll start around 11am Central Time and will quit when I get tired. Ok, lots of words today....Thanks for lookin'.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Chicken Book Time!

Today I launched my 5th kickstarter project: Chicken Scratchin' A Collection Of Good Chickens And Their People.The videos look good, fun even. Hey it's a chance to see me with a red cock's comb in my hair...
I've been ready for this for months, got the videos and site built in record time and now I'm ready to hit it. The funding process will go for 45 days and I hope to raise $9500.00, which is the least amount I need to make this happen. We shall see if folks with chickens want me to scratch out a portrait of them, and if they have a story to share. I'm sure hoping they do. Would be a huge bummer if it doesn't fund.
I'm also continuing a Linda's Big Art Giveaway at my Linda Sheets Art facebook page(if you're on face book look for me, like the page and watch for the giveaway.  Free art, mostly scratchboard, and mostly older work of mine that needs a home. All I ask is that folks pay for shipping and packing, and that they give some $$ to a shelter of their choice(human or animal). Am I crazy for giving my art away? Maybe, but maybe not. I do like spreading the wealth and get a real kick out of sharing these pieces rather than tossing them, or worse, packing them away and hanging on to them like an 'art hoarder'. Would I rather sell art? Uh, well, yes I would, thanks for asking. But what I've found in doing this is new people come along for me to share it with, and I've even gotten some commissions out of it all. So not a bad thing this giving it away, letting go. Try it sometime. It really does feel good. In the meantime, do something that makes you happy!

Here's the chicken project link:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Feeling Kinda Twitchy

Those who know me well might say I lack patience, and I would agree with them. This waiting to launch to Kickstarter Chicken project is just about killing me. The site is built, ready to go and approved by them. I am waiting until January 20th because that's when I decided to launch,--but is the waiting easy? Oh no, it is not! I'm so used to putting something together, bang, bang, bang, and then just pulling the trigger--boom, go. I will survive this, and I'm probably going to learn something about life and myself, in spite of my resistence. Tick-tock...suffice to say, check back in with me on the 20th.
The two chickens above are 5x7 scratchboards. They will go into the mix of the big art giveaway, which coicidently will begin the same day as the Chicken project. So come back for that too. That happy event will take place on my Linda Sheets Art facebook page so if you haven't gone there and clicked to 'like' it you might lose out. Stay tuned. All is good in Linda-Land. Went to Crystal Bridges with a friend today to see the Stieglitz/O'Keeffe collection again. Pretty fabulous. Feeling lucky to have such a great place here in NW Ark. Ok, over and out for now...things are a fixin' to heat up soon!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holy Thank The Chicken Gods, I have Health Insurance Now!

After a confusing start at the site I am enrolled and now have coverage. You better believe I'm heading to the Doctor office this week to get checked and schedule some tests I've been putting off.  Once you've had cancer (and I had the 'easy' type of thyroid) every ache and pain becomes 'suspect'. Without insurance I have had to just suck it up and hope everything is alright in there. I'm so happy right now. Bliss, I won't have to go bankrupt from an illness. Here we are in one of the richest countries in the world and folks like me worry about these things. And I am not the poorest of the poor by any stretch. I have a house, truck and I'm warm and well-fed. But I'm an artist and being that means that it's feast or famine with sales for much of the time. I had a good end of the year with commissions and sales so I'm grateful. I am by no stretch of the imagination a 'slacker', I've worked hard all of my life to be productive. Whether it's fixing houses, or making art, it's something I push, push, push at everyday. It seems like people always say, "Oh, I love art", but when it comes to supporting the artists who create it, they don't make the connection or understand that it means PAYING the artists. So I ask you, not just for myself, rather than buying some imported print at a big box store, find an artist you like and ask them to make something in your price range. Trust me, most of us will work with you to make you happy. And good golly, promoting the arts, and buying our work will make us happy too.
I'm working on the Kickstarter Chicken Scratchin' project and dang it is fun. Last night Cindy Jo, Jan Van and Teresa and I recorded an original chicken song for the video soundtrack. We are not Hollywood, or Nashville but we sure had a hoot and a holler doing it. Stay tuned for that to launch Jan 20 and run through March. I'll also be doing another one of my 'Big Art Giveaway' things at my facebook page Linda Sheets Art. Check it out, like the page, and check in around Jan. 20. The artwork goes quickly. All I ask is shipping/packing charges and that you donate dollars to a shelter.
Ok, over and out for now.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year New Life Working On A Dream

The above is a sweet little commission I got to do before Xmas. It was hard, the person who commissioned it was doing it as a surprise, so obtaining the photos was difficult. Between the two of us, me scratching and showing, and her advising on refinements, it got done and was well received by the dog owners. This is not the finished piece, I had to add the ear on the right of the middle dog, even though the photo didn't show it, because it was just odd looking without having it there.
I made it through the holidays without any meltdowns, high drama or mishaps. For that I am grateful. For many reasons it's NOT my favorite time of year. I know, all of the holiday shows, cards, songs say it should be wonderful, but the reality is that for many of us it is chock full of painful memories. I try and approach it as 'just another day' and that seems to work, for now.
So, the new year, here now...I am working on the next book project which will launch on kickstarter (for funding) around January 20th and will run for at least 30 days, maybe more.  I'm putting together the video and text for the project site and just finished some mock-up drawings for it. Below is one of them. Everything I do now is Ampersand Scratchbord.

Meanwhile I'm cleaning out my studio and will donate all of the other art products (oils, acrylics, pastels etc..) to some worthy cause. Speaking of donating, I will also be doing another art giveaway around the same time as the kickstarter launch. I've found so many pieces that either didn't sell, or were not so successful but are still pretty cool, and not worthy of tossing into the trash. Watch my facebook page at Linda Sheets Art for more info. The art will be posted there and the first to like and say they want it will get it. The only requirement is for you to pay shipping/handling and give a donation to a shelter of your choice.  The previous giveaway was a great experience and I look forward to doing it again.
I also look forward to more commission work in pets and my latest boards, people portraits(will post that image next time). Contact me via my website for more info regarding prices and sizes.
Until next post, stay on your path, whatever it is, unless of course it's a negative dive into badness. In that case, get ahold of yourself, life is too freaking short to be unhappy.