Monday, March 24, 2014

Why I like Construction More Than Making Art...Sometimes

In my quest to make money I've been doing odd construction jobs in addition to art commissions and I must say, sometimes I like the construction more. There's a clear beginning, middle, and end to a building project and that satisfies the part of me that likes completion. The fence I'm building with a friend is just what she wanted, and makes me feel pretty happy.
 Art is not always so clear. I'll set something aside and come back to it later and realize that it's not exactly what I wanted or meant to do. Fussing with it more can do more harm than good at times, meaning you can go too far and then ruin the piece. I've thrown many of those away in my brief artist life.  Construction can be frustrating and hard, but there are usually clear solutions to the problems that arise. Still, I love making the art and don't wish to stop. All of the guru's say, "follow your heart and do what you love" blah, blah, blah. I believe that, I've been doing that, and I also believe that art is a much harder sell than plumbing. Your toilet's broken, you need it fixed right now. Your wall is blank, you can wait on that perfect piece to hang. These are lessons I've been learning over the past twelve years.
Today I am at a turning point. I tried to fund my vision of a Chicken Scratchin' book and it failed, now I'm trying to do a portrait project on kickstarter and while it is successful the dollar amount raised will hardly be a bump in my budget. I live in a house that is too large for me and that I own a portion of. It's time to move out and sell it to recoup my money invested. That will help to get me a little ahead for a minute or two. After that? I don't know. Get an RV so I'll always have a home and then travel around looking for something, is the current plan. Although, I am staying here in NW Arkansas for as long as it takes to work on organizing and cataloging my dear poet friend's archives. I fell into this project about two years ago and it has taken on a life of it's own. A lovely life it is. I feel like I am going to school on 20th Century poetry and writing. He saved everything, every scrap and letter from so many significant writers and people that he encountered, and I get to read them. Such a story. I hope to translate this experience into a book of my own someday. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile I'm packing, selling, and giving stuff away. How I collected so much is kind of mind blowing. Stay tuned I may even put some of that stuff up here for all two of you who read this blog to see and possibly buy. Mostly though my facebook page Linda Sheets Art is the best place to find out the latest.
Thanks for stopping by. Below is my portrait of the poet Miller Williams.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why I Like Making Art More Than Plumbing...

A long, long time ago I was a contractor, which seems like a fuzzy, and fading, other life of mine. I even served time in a plumbing apprenticeship back in my hometown, following my father and brother into the trades. Over the years I became much more than a plumber, building and repairing houses as a business. I was pretty good at it, and spent about 25 years of my life doing this. If there was something I didn't know I could read a book (and even now, google it) and learn how to do it. For the past twelve years I've tried to steer myself more in the direction of art and the business of art. I still approach it pretty much like plumbing. There's a problem to solve, (or something that needs fixing) a way to solve it, and "nothing to it but to do it".  I don't spend a lot of time in artistic angst, or struggle with blank canvas blockage. I'm just so happy to be making art, instead of fixing toilets, or lifting heavy things, that if I get stuck, I just move on to the next thing. I'm working on improving my ability to do portraits, of people this time instead of dogs and cats etc... In order to do that I've got a kickstarter project going to draw YOU from your 'selfie' photos. Just like construction I've identified an area where I need work. The best way I know to learn something is to just do it over and over again until I get it right. I've got a portrait on the boards right now that is not exactly what I want it to be. I sure had fun while making it, but it's just not right. So what I have to do is start over tonight. I can hardly wait. But first, I'm revisiting my past life and building a fence with, and for, a friend. It's pretty complicated as we're building lattice from scratch; it would've been easier to just buy the lattice that's available in the building supply store, but she wouldn't have it, and I was willing to make what she wanted, so here we are, banging it out. It's not a bad way to spend some time, and it's always satisfying to have a visualization of something, and then to make it come into reality. Pretty much like art, only with art I get to experiment and play around and start over. With construction there's a right way to do it, and you'd better pay attention to that because mistakes cost time and money.
If you're interested in having a portrait done it's really easy, go to the project HERE and jump in. If you don't want the original you can get a download of my drawing of you for $25.00--You can't get plumbing done for that price anywhere folks! I'll post the two portraits next time on this blog....

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kickstarter And Why I Won't Be Using It Again...For Anything

In the past two years I've had five successful Kickstarter campaigns; I did two books (Dog And Cat Scratchin') two sets of posters using images from those books and now this current campaign "Send Me Your Selfies" a small project to do a series of portraits. I've watched the formula shift and change, really drastically over the past year. Once a site for individuals and "mom and pop" grass-root-type business to create buzz and raise funds for sweet, even unusual projects, now it's been co-opted by large businesses who've realized that they can get free publicity and raise funds and sell their product before it even hits the brick and mortar. And even Rock Stars and Hollywood folks who've jumped in with their pet projects churn the dollars even more. Little projects like mine get lost in the corner, while big names (who I'm sure could find alternative, or conventional funding) stir the pot and make their millions. Along with all of that, the amount of "marketing" and "crowdfunding" organizations who fill my email with their offers to help me raise the maximum amount, if only I'd pay them a small fee, increase daily.  It all makes me sad. It was a nice way to fund my book projects, and I was feeling pretty hopeful about the Chicken Scratchin' book.  Between the changes at Kickstarter, and the radical changes at Facebook, (what the hell is up with that? I hardly ever see any of my friends posts because of the ads and bullshit that they put up which blocks everything else out) it was hard to connect with folks who might want to back the project. So, it ended, underfunded and unsuccessful. I put it aside thinking that I'd re-launch at a later date. Now I understand that unless I get a "Star" to back it, or pay to have a company promote it for me, chances are it would fail again. So, this little project of mine will end in thirteen days, I'll draw however many portraits (not many right now) and then go back to the drawing board and make a different plan for my life as a professional artist. Meanwhile, I'm always looking for commissions and trying to make a living, like everyone else.  There are a couple of spots on this page to check out the Selfie project, if you want a portrait, the price is much less than I usually charge...last chance, going soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Snow Days And Other Things That Are Out Of My Control

I sit here this morning, reflecting on life, after two days of not getting out much due to snow and ice. When I did attempt to drive around yesterday it was like "The Hunger Games", with folks running off the road and/or crashing into each other like crazy people. I was happy to make it home unscathed. So, I've had a lot of time on my hands... Three commissions were finished and thanks to the internet the results were approved by the clients, now they are framed and ready to ship, once things thaw a bit today and tomorrow. With all that time on my hands I've had much time to think about art, projects, success and failure. The Chicken Scratchin' book is not funding with just about 24 hours to go. I don't anticipate that it will raise the total amount needed by the deadline.(unless there is a freaking miracle) But, I've got to say, I'm not too upset about it. I still believe in the project and think it's doable, just not right now. I have resolved to adjust and tweak the project and re-launch sometime in the near future. Obviously I need to find the chicken people and network there first. I know they're out there.
As things go I'm still pretty happy. I've had 4 very successful projects fund on kickstarter and one that flopped. It's not the end of the world, or even the beginning of the end. I'm actually working on a new, smaller scale project that I hope to launch within a week or so. More on that once it's live.
Meanwhile, here's the link to the chicken book project: Chicken Scratchin'