Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A discovery that changed…well, everything!

OK, so I am new to this. What is this? Right now, this is everything happening with tiny by design. Something remarkable happened that has shaped my journey. Out of all that has been changed, perhaps the most significant are my thoughts and beliefs. Collectively, all of this is helping to shape my future and the future of tiny by design. Now, I have a story to tell. It is a story of complete, awe inspiring motivation. I am compelled to tell it for several reasons. One, because if you believe in “meant to be”, “fate”, the “law of attraction”, the “power of positive thinking”…and really, anything along these lines, then you will enjoy and feel good about this story. Second, I HAVE to give credit where credit is due. In this case credit is due to a complete stranger. Someone who I hope will read this one day and realize the influence he has had over one tiny life. This “someone” is an amazing artist by the name of Michael Orwick, who I hope realizes how crazy talented and influential he is…more about this later. Finally, because I wrote what I thought was a kind of funny and perhaps somewhat intriguing blog post about a week ago, I would be just plain silly not to follow up. So here we go…

First, some background information so everything makes sense. I was employed for ten years by a pharmaceutical company. It was a basic story of work hard and be rewarded with a great career and plenty of promotional opportunities. I thought I was one of the lucky ones who got to love their work…until I met my husband and realized that love might have been a strong word for how I felt about my job. Then came the kiddos and it was over. It was all over. My husband and I realized that we needed to enjoy their younger years as much as we could so we took the courageous and scary step of leaving an income behind. So, my life as a stay at home mom was born.

Now, I wouldn’t change this decision for anything, but I love to work. So the wheels started turning and for months I toyed with ideas and tried my hand at new “work at home” opportunities. Nothing felt right. Nothing, that is, until the end of November of 2009. My then one year old daughter and I took a trip into “town” (we live in the country) and found ourselves wandering the local Walmart. Stumbling upon the aisle holding acrylic paint and canvas, I thought about creating some paintings for my daughter's room. Being a “child artist” and for one half of one year an art major, I always had an attraction to the creative process. I had enjoyed painting my daughter’s nursery including a tree on the wall and had said to my husband, “when our kids are in school, I would love to paint murals in children’s rooms.” A very nice thought, but not one that I felt I could take action on immediately. After creating some simple canvas paintings for my daughter’s room, I was hooked. It was perfect. I could spend evenings painting, sell them on a website, stay home with my kids and build a business that one day will be a primary source of income. Sounds easy, right?

Oakley and I cuddled under her tree
Well, as life would have it, the road to building tiny by design hasn’t been “easy”. I will go out on a limb and say that it has been 99.9% enjoyable...but not easy. Working as an artist is pure love. Maybe not the magnitude of love that I feel for my husband and kids…but about as close as you can get. However, the joy of creating art for children is somewhat offset by a few limiting factors. Only one of those limitations is worth mentioning here. This is the severe limitation of a lack of time. I naively thought, after cranking out two ultra simple paintings, that I could produce paintings quickly. As luck would have it, I am not really a fast painter and therefore not qualified to become a one person paint factory. About two weeks after starting this venture, very real and very loud doubts began to creep into my head. Top these doubts off with all the other challenging aspects of running a business…all of which take exceptional amounts of time. Remember, from previous blog posts, the website debacle and the fact that coming into this, I knew nothing about anything but art. Which as it turns out, I have a lot to learn about art and have a lot to do to develop my skills as an artist. I was left with extremely limiting doubts about whether or not I actually had time do this. I started to think that if I had no time, I couldn’t make any money. If I had no money, I couldn’t possibly produce paintings at the quantity or quality that it would take to be successful. Thank God for those close to me. My family has been crazy supportive and my friends, well I can’t believe how fortunate I am to know these people. All are worth mentioning, but for the sake of time and for the sake of getting to the point, I will mention a conversation with one close friend that was the catalyst for this life changing day.

It was a typical afternoon and I was chatting with my friend Kim Salter, author of the popular Design Thoughts Blog. I asked her, innocently enough, how she managed to get so many people to follow her blog. She made a humble point about asking friends and then followed up with the more savvy approach of being an active member of the design world (she is a very successful, talented and inspired interior designer). She mentioned blogging, facebook, twitter and simply networking with designers. I do believe that this conversation ended with one of my children screaming in the background…in other words, very quickly. It seemed like any other friendly conversation, but her words resonated in my mind. I found myself in my studio that night, prepared to paint and grateful that I was able to put “computer and behind the scenes stuff” behind me. Being fairly new and generally inactive on twitter, I thought I would check really quickly to see what other artists had to say. I am not exaggerating when I say, that at this point, I had very little twitter experience. I still have no idea what the lingo is or how to keep up with everything. This night, however, when I logged in I saw a tweet from @fineartamerica announcing a sale of a print from an artist @michaelorwick. Now, keep in mind that I do paintings for children. I had no knowledge of what kind of painter Michael Orwick is or what kind of work he sold (even though I follow him on twitter). Having looked at less than a dozen tweets in my whole twittering experience, I am still in awe of the timing that allowed me see and actually click on this particular tweet. When I did, I was stunned. First, the piece that Michael sold was titled “Story Time”. It is a brilliant painting of Michael’s daughter reading a story to her “friend” who happened to be a dragon. The story she was reading was about a dragon slayer. Seriously, take a look at the painting, because there is no way my description would do it justice. Really, what are the odds that this tweet, of the hundreds on the page, would be about a painting that would appeal to my target audience of children? Seeing this painting changed my entire outlook in two major ways (and probably in millions of minor ways). First, Michael’s ability to capture the imagination of a child is second to none. I am inspired to create better paintings, plain and simple. Also, I want to be in tune with my own children’s imagination to this level. I now hear and picture more than ever before what is going on in the minds of my babies. For example, I overheard Oakley talking in our living room today as she greeted the “princesses” at the door and gave them a “tour” of our house. I was actually able to see what she was likely seeing in her mind. My vision is to put her imagination on a canvas to the level that Michael Orwick has done in so many of his paintings. Please look at his gallery, it is truly a perfect interpretation of a child’s imagination…(he also has amazing landscapes and other types of paintings…but I am hooked on the children’s art, for obvious reasons).

Next, I was introduced to Fine Art America. I will reiterate that I am new to all of this. As it turns out, this online gallery is host to 55,000+ artists…how is it in all my research I had not stumbled upon this? I honestly am perplexed by this. I do believe that events in life happen in the order they were meant to happen and that there is a good reason I developed my business in the way that I have. But, wow, this information would have been useful a while ago. As I did more exploring, I realized the opportunity that exists simply because this company exists. More significant than the opportunity itself is how “the opportunity” erased all my doubts about how it was all going to work out. Gone are the fears that I would need mass amounts of money to “mass produce” prints of my work, gone are the doubts about how I was going to be able to create enough paintings to sell (if I am only capable of 1-2 paintings a month and there are only twelve months a year….do the math…it’s not all that promising), gone is the feeling that I need to get paintings done so I can do more, gone are so many more fears and doubts that have been holding me back… You see, all paintings that I have done and will do are available for sale as prints through Fine Art America. WOW, print on demand…is this a dream come true? I think so! It gets better too! They offer paper and canvas options, framing, matting and a large variety of sizes. They ship all over the country and internationally, handle the payment processing and provided a custom shopping cart for my website. As if this weren’t enough…you can also purchase prints directly through facebook….ahhhhhhh, the options are endless!

tara's alphabet is just one of the paintings for sale as a on the painting to see more! there is also a slideshow of available paintings on the sidebar of this blog.
Will I make a fortune off Fine Art America? Who knows. I’m sure there are artists on this website that have done extremely well (I would love to hear from you!) and I’m sure there are others who will tell me I am wasting my time (I wouldn’t love to hear from you!) Regardless of anyone’s experience, I believe in the power of positive thinking and I believe that if you can dream it, you can do it. This chain of events has lifted so many limiting doubts and fears. It has also opened my mind and creativity to levels that I hadn’t dared to dream about. My vision for my future as an artist, tiny by design’s future as a company and how all of this will influence the lives of my family is growing by the millisecond. I have never felt such energy, such a positive feeling and such knowledge that I have stumbled upon something great. I have also stumbled upon a community of artists and am quickly finding appreciation for so many talented and inspiring people. I feel fortunate to be a part of it. I can’t tell you exactly what my path will be, but I know that I am in the midst of the right journey. Thank you for coming along with me.

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