Studio Life & Covid-19 Part 7

As social (physical) distancing drags on people are dreaming of getting their lives back. I have three more drawings in the Covid-19 series, this first is inspired by a study which surveyed how the pandemic was manifesting in peoples dreams.

The second is about the realities of parents, grandparents and volunteer caregivers who are now juggling the responsibilities of full time child care and full time remote work. It is a blessing of communications technology that many are able to do this and maintain income security. Some telecommuters are able to help family members who are considered front line essential services, but without child care, to maintain their income security by pulling double duty. However it needs to be recognized that of necessity neither job is going to get the undivided care and attention it normally receives.

The third drawing is about Mother’s day, and the circumstance that will keep many parents in care from visiting with their loved ones anytime soon.

I anticipate another 4 in the series for 38, and then we will see where we go from there with the Covid-19 artwork. Currently I am wrapping up my first ever online print pre-sale and I am happy with all that I have learned from this venture, the new people I have had the opportunity to connect with and with the encouragement and support I have received. I will be sending the images to the printer in the next couple days as well as ordering related shipping supplies. Once I know what all of the actual (not projected) costs of this venture have been I will be able to re-introduce the online shop to the Covid-19 page and apply that knowledge forward.

Also this week, I was happy to welcome Florence and Yilu to the Sunflower Project with #6 (Sunflower Seed #60) & #7 (Sunflower Seed #61) of the 12 days of Christmas series of sunflower seed paintings. May their paintings encourage them to share their 1000 gifts with the world! If you would like to participate in the Sunflower Project, go here to learn more and sign up!

Studio Life & Covid-19 Part 6

So I feel like we have settled into a little routine or a new normal, as they are saying now, although we are all looking forward to (if not quite certain about) plans to ease restrictions and re-open businesses.

There was a lot of questions about herd immunity, and whether this can be relied upon to protect us as we start going out in public again. How many would need to be immune and how long does immunity last? My thoughts are that if you are in a high risk category you should probably play it safe for a while yet, while if you are healthy you can probably have a little more faith in the ability of the medical system to take care of you should your case be more severe. However even a young healthy person should still avoid contact with those in high risk categories to keep them safe.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to go out to Elbow Falls for a walk when the province re-opened the parking lots and staging areas at provincial parks. It was absolutely wonderful. We weren’t driving a convertible, but I think the feeling was the same.

This week I disassembled the original 19 for Covid-19 sketchbook and gave the drawings each a couple coats of UV archival varnish in preparation to send them to their forever homes. We are in the final week of my first ever Limited Edition Print pre-sale now. Prints will still be available to purchase for some images after the sale, however the portfolio will be sold separately thereafter. Also, as I now know a bit more about what PayPal fees, packaging for shipping and shipping fees will cost, I believe we will also be seeing an increase in the shipping & handling fee. So to get in on the pre-sale prices and the portfolio offer make sure you shop the pre-sale before it closes May 11th!

I have learned a lot about making art during Covid-19, doing a print sale, and selling art online since starting this project, I look forward to sharing my new insights with you on the blog and in future videos on my youtube channel. I don’t have a new video for you yet this week, I seem to be a bit behind on all the usual studio activities right now, but should be working on that later this week. Subscribe to make sure you don’t miss the videos on mu insights on selling art online, and what I’ve learned about making art because of Covid-19.

#59

In Sunflower Project news, Lorraine Appleby joined the project this week, and Sunflower Seed # 5 went out to her. Georgina K contacted me about her project inspired by the sunflower project. She has been leaving gifts of hand crafted fabric trees about for passers by, and left one for me on Friday too! Watch for those around your area if you are in Calgary!

Studio Life & Covid-19 Part 5

It is almost a month and a half now since Covid-19 was declared a global Pandemic and our lives here in North America went topsy turvy. I think a lot of people are appreciating the warmer weather, but not sure how they are going to enjoy it this summer. All of our plans are under revision now.

Amidst a whole raft of summer event cancellations, it was announced this week that the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede is officially cancelled for 2020. I anticipated this, however I know that the organizers, competitors, exhibitors and vendors were all hoping that somehow it could go ahead. The event brings millions of visitors from all over the globe to Calgary, and generates multi-millions of dollars of revenue. There are visual artists in the Artist’s Studios section for whom substantial incomes are made from just this one 10 day event. I am not one of them; this would have been just my second year participating in the commissioned sales section. However I will miss the chance to connect with art lovers and build audience while making a few sales and engaging in the lively spirit Stampede brings to the city. If you are interested in buying one of the paintings I would have shown, contact me. They are 6″ x 8″ oil on canvas and priced at 295 CAD each.

We are a little over a week into the pre-sale on originals and limited edition prints of a selection of the Covid-19 drawings. I am really appreciative of the people who have already purchased originals and prints. Each person who purchases during the pre-sale will also receive an 11 x 17 portfolio of the first 19 for Covid-19 Sketchbook drawings. Be sure to order before the pre-sale closes on May 11th to get that.

I am amazed that, even though times are uncertain, so many people are supporting the studio. Because of this, I am making a few videos about my experience making art during Covid-19. The first one (below) was posted to my Youtube channel yesterday, and asks the question: can an art business grow even during Covid-19? I answer that question with my story (spoiler, the answer is yes).

I am still thinking about why this is possible; it makes no logical sense to me. I have always been told that art is a luxury, and the first thing to be sacrificed during times of insecurity. Perhaps art is not such a luxury after all? Perhaps it serves some vital purpose? My next week video will be about lessons I learned making art during Covid-19. If I have any insights to that question by then, I will share them in that video. If you are curious to see that video be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss it. I appreciate your subscriptions as, should one day I reach 1000 subscribers (I’m a long way from that yet), Youtube will actually send a little money my way when people view my videos. It is a great way to support my studio at no additional cost.

Okay, how about we all get some sun with a socially distanced walk or some yard work? I think I will be cleaning and setting up my patio after my work is done today. Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Studio Life & Covid-19: Part 4

While the weather and the news had its ups and downs in the outside world, it was another busy week in the studio. As an artist who is perpetually in isolation, there is never a shortage of things to get done, even while others post about not knowing how to fill the hours suddenly vacated by their jobs.

However, it can be difficult to motivate myself to actually get things done as some projects seem to be futile when their fate is currently unknown due to all the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic. Such is the case with my preparations for The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Art Show.

Currently we have no news one way or the other on the fate of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede this year, so I have been proceeding as planned completing work for the Mini-masterpieces Salon. I finished Saskatoon Berry Jam II, as Saskatoon Berry Jam was snapped up while still wet on the easel and is soon headed to England. I am thankful for that early sale, and given the current situation I wouldn’t hesitate to sell the others early too, although that means painting replacements (contact me to inquire about purchasing one of these delectable delights).

Above is the video of Saskatoon Berry Jam II coming together. This is actually painted over 2 sessions last week, as the painting reached a point where it needed a day between sessions to dry.

On the Covid-19 drawing front, CBC Calgary published another instalment of the Covid-19 Drawings to their Instagram feed. Thank-you to CBC for the continued support!

Now for the big news: Drumroll Please!

A Pre-sale for a selection of the Covid 19 drawings, and limited edition prints, opened on Sunday morning. The pre-sale will close May 11th and orders will be sent to the printer to be shipped the week of May 20th.

Currently 4 of the 13 originals available are SOLD. The print editions of these are still available, although the edition will be limited to 100 prints per image. To maintain the same feeling of the original drawings, the print editions are at the same scale as the original drawings on 9 x 12 paper. To make a purchase visit Covid-19 Chronicles page before May 11th 2020.

So that wraps up this week, visit the Pre-sale, purchase a print, and we will talk to you next week!

Studio Life During Covid-19 Part 3

We finally started getting some projections on the severity and length of the pandemic this week and have had to think about the idea that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. With that in mind, I moved to a schedule of doing the Covid-19 Sketchbook drawings three days per week and posting them on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.

I was interviewed on the CBC Homestretch April 2nd about the drawings however I don’t see any links on their website for the segment so unfortunately I can’t share that with you.

However CBC Calgary shared 8 more images on their instagram account.

And Ellie McIntosh also featured one of the images in her latest Vlog post on the importance of creativity in times like these.

Speaking of videos, I got the Covid-19 Sketchbook Tour video uploaded on Saturday (only a day late, thanks to working non-stop until 3 am).

We are almost there with getting reproductions of the Covid-19 drawings up for sale. I have suppliers who can do the job, a list of the top images people would like to have, and price points. I just need to figure out how to set up a pre-sale ordering process on my website now and we should be good to go, so keep an eye out for that on the Covid-19 Chronicles page.

This week we welcomed one more Sunflower Project participant, with #58 (4 of the 12 days of Christmas series) going out to her. Another participant wrote to me about the project that she is starting as her way to share her 1000 gifts. I am going to be really excited to share that with you if she sends me updates or pictures of what she does!

#58

Until next week. Stay safe and stay healthy!

Studio Life During Covid-19 Part 2

So it is another interesting week as we see the progress of the Covid-19 crisis on the global stage and I have continued to document it in my Covid 19 series of drawings

I uploaded the final instalment of Kathleen and Quinnton’s Wedding Painting to Youtube last week, so here together for the first time are all three videos so you can see the process from start to finish!

Each video represents one day of work on the painting. So why are the lengths so different? I’m recording the time-lapse video’s using my iPhone, so I need to press stop periodically to adjust the number of dropped frames per session. In the shorter ones I stopped recording less frequently. So it appears I am a super fast painter in them! Oh the magic of video.

I also found out this week that while I got turned down for the Western Art Gallery, my food paintings were accepted into the Mini-Masters Salon at the Western Art Gallery. So you will be seeing these (except Saskatoon Berry Jam) and a few more for sale at The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Art Show in the Western Oasis, provided the Stampede goes ahead this year. Saskatoon Berry Jam has already been sold and is waiting to be shipped to its forever home in England.

We also had three more people join the Sunflower project this week, with 1, 2 & 3 of my 12 days of Christmas series going out to them. I am encouraged to see two of the new collectors are American, meaning we are building bridges across borders at a time when borders are otherwise becoming much more rigid.

This week I finished the initial 19 drawings in the Covid-19 sketchbook and set up a page, The Covid-19 Chronicles, on my website for them. 17 of the drawings are posted there now and I will be updating that as I go along with new drawings and news about the project.

I will be continuing the series but moving from daily drawings to a three day per week schedule as I work on the Sketchbook tour video and look for ways, and possibly partners, to reproduce them and get them into the hands of more people.

The Sketchbook tour video should go live on Friday, watch for that on my Youtube channel and for notifications of that on my social media channels.

In Covid-19 Sketchbook news, it has been also covered in this article in the Calgary Herald. Check it out!

Alright, that is it for this week, Stay safe and stay healthy out there!

Studio Life During Covid-19

This week has been intense and uncertain for a lot of people. We are all watching the news on a daily basis, and surfing social media for the interaction that we are prohibited from getting in person.

In the studio, in addition to the new Covid-19 drawings I am sharing with you in this post, I had a contract cancellation as their offices are shut down for Covid-19.

Kathleen & Quinnton, 16 x 20 Acrylic on Canvas

I finished Kathleen and Quinton’s wedding painting, and edited and uploaded the final video in the series, which will go live on Youtube this Friday (watch for it).

I am still planning on doing a sketchbook tour video this week which I should upload to Youtube for next Friday. This almost couldn’t happen as I dropped off the sketchbook to be scanned (more about that later) and picked up the next day. That evening all non-essential business were ordered closed and I thought the book would be unavailable until restrictions were lifted. However curb-side pick up was still available the next day, so I will still be able to make that video for you after all.

This does put me a bit behind on the schedule for the next Planning an Art Show video, however this crisis has changed many plans. Or delayed them in this case, so keep an eye out for it on my channel, it is still in the works. Make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss it when it does come out.

Three more people joined the Sunflower Project, and will be receiving a painting of a sunflower seed from my halloween series in the mail (so long as the postal service is still delivering). A nice surprise for them, art direct to home, when we can’t go out to get our art-fix! On a serious note though, I believe that the hoarding we saw in grocery stores this past month has shown how relevant the mission of the Sunflower Project is in working to encourage a society where we all have confidence that we will have enough of what we need.

I was turned down for inclusion in this years Western Art Gallery at the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Oh well, you win some you lose some. However it is not certain that the Calgary Stampede will go ahead this year as planned amid the Covid-19 crisis. For the sake of all those it employs, and all those artists who were accepted this year, I hope it does.

Speaking of not going ahead, it was difficult to motivate myself to carry on applying for projects and shows, not knowing if the effort to write the applications were futile given the potential for the events to be cancelled anyway.

So more about why I got my sketchbook scanned: The response to the Covid-19 drawings has been overwhelming for me. I have had a number of requests for reproductions, so in this time of limited access to services I find myself looking into what I can do to get reproductions of the drawings into peoples hands, and how to share them with more people. I will keep you updated on what I am able to make available as I know more.

In the mean time, keep watching my channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In and Youtube for the drawings as I upload them. CBC Calgary has shared them on their feed:

Take care of your selves (and your community) and we will talk to you again next week.

The Timely Sketchbook

I have always loved the beautiful sketchbooks of other artists, but they have never been a regular thing for me. Mine are usually decades old and half full of loose composition ideas, shopping lists, reading notes, budgets, business ideas and the odd nice drawing of a landscape or portrait. But a proper visual diary of my thoughts, observations and inspirations? Nope, I’ve never had much luck with those. Maybe it is because my thought process is long, but I usually respond to circumstance through my paintings, rather than in bound books of daily sketches.

Covid-19 Sketchbook Drawing 1,
Ink on paper,
Debbie.lee Miszaniec

However there is something about the need to respond quickly to the realities of the Covid-19 crisis, that has me revisiting the sketchbook as a way to document and think through both the monumental shift in our daily lives, and the weaknesses in our social and economic systems that this crisis has exposed.

Covid-19 Sketchbook Drawing 2,
Ink on paper,
Debbie.lee Miszaniec

To create a painting in response to each question this crisis has raised would leave me behind the curve as each new thought, experience and piece of information displaces the last. A sketchbook seems much more responsive to the circumstance.

Covid-19 Sketchbook Drawing 3,
Ink on paper,
Debbie.lee Miszaniec

Considering a journal as opposed to a sketchbook; in this case, I prefer the ambivalence of images to the specificity of words. If I were arguing a position I would write an essay, or perhaps a manifesto. Words can be interpreted or misinterpreted, but it is difficult to hold two, or more, positions at the same time. I enjoy the plurality of the image, where I can simultaneously hold multiple and conflicting positions, turning them over in my head as I create and contemplate the visual analogies I am making.

Covid-19 Sketchbook Drawing 4,
Ink on paper,
Debbie.lee Miszaniec

Covid-19 has had an effect on my art practice in showing me the value of the sketchbook. I may decide to use a sketchbook format more often in the future when I want to digest a complex and quickly developing situation in a timely manner.

Covid-19 Sketchbook Drawing 5,
Ink on paper,
Debbie.lee Miszaniec

For now I will continue to document my thoughts in my Covid-19 Sketchbook. When this one is full I will do a sketchbook tour video (my very first, as you can guess based on my history with sketchbooks) and upload it to Youtube. Make sure to subscribe to my channel to catch that upload.

Time to Plan (your Art Show) for Better Times

As I write this today it seems half of Calgary is shut down to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the shops may as well be for the amount of stock left on their shelves due to panic buying. My daughter’s university practicum is cancelled, putting her educational plan in limbo, and I am worried about the safety of my mother and her husband on her upcoming trip to Calgary from out of province. They are in the high risk category for complications if they were to get sick. So although I think my household could handle the illness, I will be following the suggestions for social distancing and hand-washing. I am doing that so my older family members don’t get sick, and so I don’t have to self-isolate and miss out on my mom’s visit, should she still choose to come out (I would totally understand if they decided to postpone it though, given the circumstances).

For me social distancing is not a huge problem as my children are not little anymore, I don’t regularly commute for work or work around others, and I had no big events lined up for March. I can play it by ear for the smaller gigs I do have coming up. However many of my peers in the arts are seeing their shows, performances and day-jobs go on hiatus while the world implements extraordinary measures to flatten the curve on COVID-19. Many are uncertain of how they are going to pay their bills, as they don’t fit into the standard employment categories. I am hopeful that recently announced government assistance to workers in the form of paid leave and EI benefit waiting period waivers will somehow be adapted to assist the creative workers who have seen their engagements cancelled as well.

They have poured all of their love and effort into their ventures, only to see something completely out of left field wipe those plans away. It is not something that an artist can plan for. Global pandemic is not usually a SWOT Analysis consideration for these ventures. All we can do is make our best laid plans for what is likely and hope that the odds will be in our favour when it comes to opening day.

As frustrating and futile as it may seem at the moment, now is the perfect time to have faith in the future and start making plans for that next big project. If you are at loose ends with all the cancellations going on, now is the time to make some art, and make a plan to show that art. I have already seen one 30 day challenge circulating specific to COVID-19 response, with discussion about having a charitable auction or show of the results. So go ahead, get in on that, make some art and plan that show for better times!

Here is a video I made to help you get started putting your art show plan together:

Subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss the series as episodes are released. Stay healthy, make some art, and get ready to get out there again when the time is right.

Art/Life: Monday – Friday

I am so close to releasing the video about planning a timeline for an art exhibition. Behind schedule but still on task, and planning to have that uploaded for this Friday, but in case there are further delays, SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel so you will not miss it when it finally does come out. In the meantime, I recorded a wee video diary over the week I began the research and script for the above mentioned video project:

You’ll see in the video the foreshadowing of future delays on that project. But I really was not thinking of this video as an explainer for my shocking lack of adherence to self-made deadlines. Rather when I recorded it I was thinking about providing a window into my workweek for all the people in my life who don’t have any idea what I do as a full time artist Monday to Friday since I am not producing reams and reams of art like a human printer, or clinking wine glasses at art openings every night.

This diary represents a limited window as my typical workweek does not usually end on Friday, and if I seem tired in the video clips, it is likely because I am; I recorded them at the end of my workday, usually between 10 and midnight. Although I do aim for balance, I don’t always achieve it.

Fellow artists with day jobs and/or young families (believe me I sympathize, I have been there) look wistful while saying “it must be nice to be able to make art all day,” and family simply cannot conceptualize that at middle age I am no longer able to handle being up to 2 am every morning and all weekend to finish writing proposals that I deferred so I could do things with them or for them “because I am just at home in the studio/office anyhow.”

If you are my family and you are reading this, know that I still love you and still love spending time with you, I just can’t be your ‘go to’ person with time during the day. We can visit in the evening or on the weekend, just like we would if I were in an office or shop somewhere Monday to Friday 9-5.

Aside from the assumption that studio time is free time, the idea that as an artist I spend all day making art is misleading as well: As a picture framer (my former day job) I spent all day making picture frames, so the idea that as an artist I would spend all day making art is logical. However I was hired to fulfill the service being sold while the business owner dealt with administration, vision, strategy, and bringing in customers. As an artist I am both the business owner and sole employee. I don’t hire someone to make the art while I concentrate on selling, promoting, marketing, administering etc. etc. etc. Potentially, I could produce a painting a day every day for all 260 working days of the year, if that were the entire scope of my job. However the majority of my week as a working artist is spent on activities that support the studio financially and lead to the opportunity to make artwork. So networking, marketing, developing projects and writing proposals, which may (or may not) result in the creation, exhibition, promotion or sale of artwork.

Hopefully this video gives part-time artists an idea of what to expect when transitioning to being full-time. You may not be making as much art as you think. In fact you may be making more art now, in the tiny pockets of time you currently have, as it is not split between art and administration. I also hope this video gives non artists, who have artist friends/family, an understanding of why you may not see them (me) more often.

Are you a full time working artist? What does your 9-5 look like, and what do you wish others knew about being a full time artist?