Being self-employed and owning your own business can be full of unique challenges. Not only do you have to be self-motivated, but you also need to be someone who is able to adapt to the ever-changing situations around you. I have had my own business for over 25 years now, and I have watched it change and evolve on an almost daily basis. Adapting to new trends, demands and situations is something that I feel I have become quite adept at. What worked well for us a year ago or even a week ago, may need to be modified in order to continue be beneficial to our business. Without the ability to change and adjust, we run the danger of being left behind and becoming outdated. But keeping up with things and adjusting to the world around us is one of the things that also keeps us excited and motivated. It is certainly never boring.
Add to that the requirement to be organized. I don’t believe that any small business can be successful without a good deal of organization. This is especially true for smaller businesses like ours. As we take on many tasks and they continue to change, the importance of keeping things in order is vital to being able to get everything we need to do done. Managing time is probably one of the key factors that can make or break a business, and the better things are organized, the better we use our time. It all works together.
After my short break in December, I tried to go over my own time-management regarding the things I do for business. While I felt like I was moderately efficient, I thought things through and realizes what I was doing that used my time well and what was not. I understand that there are things that come up in life that will disrupt our daily routines, and that is one of the places in which we need to apply that flexibility that I mentioned above. But I also saw some things that I was doing on a daily basis that were not really pertinent to the business that took a good chunk of my time.
Early in my career, I heard the phrase, “If you want your business to pay like a full-time job, you need to treat it like a full-time job.” That made sense to me back then and still does today. More often than not when I am feeling that I am not being my most productive self, it is because I have been straying just a bit from the focus that I need to treat my business like a full-time job. Sometimes just being aware of what we are doing with out time is enough to reign us back in. Again – there is no hard and fast line as to what we should and shouldn’t be doing. But if we are feeling that we aren’t where we want in our business, this is probably the first thing we need to look at objectively and adjust if necessary to see if that improves things. Usually it does more than we expect.
I mention this all because it may seem to some that I am all over the board lately with what I am doing with my business. I am eternally optimistic that I can, indeed, make it all work. I want to have time to design, cut wood and pack orders, and create for myself, too. I even want to be sure I can carve out enough time to post here on my blog without getting too far behind. It may sound like a lot, but with the right approach to things, I think I can accomplish what I want and have time to relax a bit too. I will give it a try, anyway.
With that all said, I want to catch you up on what I accomplished since the last post. In my last blog, I was working on painting a watercolor flamingo. This is a part of my life that I will label as “education”, as I am still learning the process with this and testing the waters of some new supplies I had only used a couple of times or have just arrived. I find that the only way to really master a certain medium or supply is to practice with it. Everything won’t come out to be ‘show worthy’, but the best teacher you can have is your own trial and error. You need to be willing to risk failure in order to achieve success. That is why I find this “playtime” as I call it very important.
I used my Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolors pencils to create most of this picture:
I had purchased the full set of them last summer. They are pretty much top of the line, with an excellent lightfast rating and the ability to dissolve quickly and completely when water is added.
Why did I choose watercolor pencils instead of my traditional watercolors?
Most of you who know me and my work know that I am a pretty controlled painter. I like fine details and a lot of realism. While I have been pushing myself to do a bit of a ‘looser’ style on some of my paintings – especially those using watercolors – I wanted to see how much I could ‘tame’ this wild medium and make a painting that may not be ‘photo-realistic’ like some of my pastels and acrylic paintings are, but somewhere in between that and abstract. This seemed like a natural baby-step for me to get my feet wet (so to speak) and explore the world of watercolor.
I also decided to try some of my Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink with this painting.
This is a line of colorfast, India ink that is available in 36 beautiful and vibrant colors. (I have them ALL! 😉 ) and seems like a good partner to use with watercolors. The ink contains shellac, and that makes it truly waterproof so that you can paint over or under it and it will not run. The lightfast rating on it is excellent so it won’t fade over time. It does a brilliant job for adding details on watercolor paintings (especially the Matte Black!) and I also used some of the pink and yellow for some glazing to tone the painting. It can be applies with a brush or dip pen or even a cotton swab if you so desire and will give you lots of additional options on your paintings. So far, I am loving working with them and I may even try to do some paintings using ONLY the India ink. That would be exciting.
Speaking of brushes . . .
I also wanted to try out my brand new Winsor & Newton Series 7 Sable brushes from England.
I had seen a video of how these brushes are meticulously handmade by (I think!) only NINE women. The process takes years to learn and the resulting brushes are supposed to be amazing. You can view a video of how they are made here:
I had received some money for Christmas and decided to treat myself to this beautiful set of smaller brushes and they arrived last week and I couldn’t wait to try them. This painting seemed to be the perfect project to do so.
I also used my beautiful set of Black Velvet brushes by Silver Brush company.
I learned about the Black Velvet brushes about a year or so ago and purchased this set the summer before last. (2019). I find them to be excellent watercolor brushes and I have used them quite a bit. The full bodies and beautiful, pointed shape allows you to really do a variety of things with the paint using only one or two brushes. I typically use the #4 and #8 for nearly everything from washes to fine lines. The oval wash is great for backgrounds and I have used it mostly for that. To be honest, I haven’t used the script liner much so far, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing so on future projects. You never know . . .
So why the need to get the Series 7 brushes? Well – I was pulling out my Silver Brush Ultra Mini brushes for the tiny details, but when I had this Christmas money to spend, I really wanted to try the Series 7 in the small sizes. The minis were nice, but not really made for holding lots of watercolor paint and I had to re-load quite frequently. They got the job done, but the small Series 7 brushes were made for small details in watercolor and to be honest, part of it was that I wanted bragging rights to owning this beautiful set. After all – who doesn’t like showing off their excellent tools every now and then? 😉
While I have only used the Series 7 brushes for this painting so far, I think they are really beautiful and they will make an excellent addition to my watercolor brush arsenal and ‘play nice’ with my Black Velvet brushes. I do believe that these seven brushes will last pretty much forever if I keep them nice (and I do!) and they will be the only brushes I need unless I start doing larger paintings. I do also own the #10 in the Black Velvet line which is larger than the #8 shown and that will take me the next step larger, if necessary. I am all set.
So here is the photo of the final painting:
I am pretty happy with it all things considered. The reference photo was from Pixabay and the photographer was Klaus Montag. I changed the background to make it a bit brighter than the photo. But I like it that way. I think the process was fun and I enjoyed myself and also learned a bit on this piece as to how my materials would behave. It really was relaxing and fun for me to paint.
I wanted to note here that I do not receive compensation or samples from any of the suppliers mentioned in this post. These are all my own assessments of their products and were purchased on my own dime.
One last thing that I wanted to share was that I received a great shipment of new packaging supplies this week. I had been going through envelops and boxes like crazy with being so busy and when going to re-order some padded envelopes I came across these lovely mylar envelopes on Amazon:
Those who order from me know I like to pack everything carefully and make things look as nice as possible. I like my customers to feel as if they are getting special gifts in the mail (They ARE!) and I love making my mailings look beautiful. These mylar envelopes certainly fill the bill. They aren’t padded, but I find that it isn’t always necessary to pad the orders – depending on what is ordered. So I am able to add bubble wrap inside for those who need it and leave it out for those who do not. The best part of all of this is that it actually costs me LESS to use these envelopes in place of my traditional, white, padded envelopes. It is a win/win for us all! 😀
Sometimes it is the simple things that make me happy!
Well – that about does it for today. I am working on my North Star Village bakery next as well as a new set of embroidered pin kits and pattern for my Etsy store, The Stitching Kitty
. I will be posting about that next.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the flamingo come to life. Until next time . . .