Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Biz Mama: Cathy Nichols

I am so excited to be back with an new Art Biz Mama interview. This time we have lovely Cathy Nichols.
Cathy's art just makes me happy looking at it. I love her thoughts on motherhood, art and business. I am sure you will agree. Enjoy!

Could  you please share a bit about you, your family and your business?
I am a wife and mother of two young children as well as a stepdaughter. My two little ones are (brace yourself) 2 and 3 years old, while my stepdaughter is 8.  My business started out as selling just my original paintings, but I have branched out into selling all kinds of things based on my designs: prints, giclees, calendars, illustrations, greeting cards and most recently, jewelry.

When did you make the decision to start your art business? 
This is a great question because there was a distinct moment in my life when I made this decision. It was about 8 years ago. I had been studying to become a teacher and was about to enter an intensive internship program in Los Angeles when I had this epiphany: 'I want to be an artist!!'  Having made this announcement to myself, I did what my entrepreneurial mom always taught me to do -- printed up some business cards. They said: "Cathy Nichols: Artist."  lol.  Then I bought some huge canvases and started painting. After a few months, I was lucky enough to join a fabulous artists' co-op called Ten Women in Venice, CA, and it was there that my business really blossomed. We had tons of foot traffic, and it was an amazing thing to sell my work to the public in such a creative, supportive venue. When I moved to New York in 2007, I reinvented my business as an online presence -- primarily through Etsy - and branched out again in my local community. My art business has been an ongoing process of re-invention for me, but once I made the decision to be "Cathy Nichols: Artist," I have never looked back.
How has having children affected your business and creativity?
Well, they ARE time-consuming, those adorable little bundles of joy. So on the one hand, I have much less time than I did before they were born, but on the other hand, I feel like, through them, I have learned to be much more efficient in my creative process. I've also developed a piece-work kind of working style because my time has become so segmented into shorter creative blocks. I feel a bit like a quilter -- stitching together pieces of creative work over chunks of time into a larger whole.  
Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you? Is there school or childcare, etc. while you are working?
Typically, I wake up at 6:30 am, take care of the kids until they start preschool at 9:15, then from 9:30-11:30, I have a glorious block of creative time for myself. This is when I actually make new paintings. I will brainstorm for a new painting and design the piece one morning, then I will start painting it the next and finish/scan it for printing that evening or the next day. Of course, longer paintings take more days, but this is how I work.  After the kids get home from school, they get my attention until bedtime at 7 pm. After they go to sleep, I can do more mundane work like processing orders or setting jewelry.  If I want to fit in something else, I need to get up at 5 am (like did today to do this interview!).
How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

I devote about 8-15 hours a week to my business. I rarely work on the weekends, and I never do actual paintings at night because I need to do the encaustic work with lots of ventillation, and it's just too dark to paint in the evenings on my sun porch. Plus it's a tad chilly!
Balance seems to be a myth for many women.  Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life?
Right now I think I do have a healthy balance between work and family, but there is a real deficit on the side of other things... like exercise or just plain fun time for myself. And since I'm always thinking about either my work or my children,  I find that I am a little too forgetful in other areas. Like paperwork. And school functions. And just plain ordinary life maintenance. But I have to remind myself that being a mom is still new to me. I have only had children for 3 years. I'm still a novice. Maybe in time, I will become more organized. Hopefully.  And, of course, I would love to have more creative time for my business. This is something, too, that I hope will come in the future.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?
I think, of course, the most important advice anyone can give is to believe in your art and keep making it despite the 'odds' against you - whether they be financial struggles, childcare, geography or even technology. It's important to put those logistics to one side of your mind in order to make space for the freedom to create. Yes, as moms we know more than anyone that limitless freedom is a myth, but I think just making a space for this romantic notion allows us, as artists, to create the kind of work that will inspire others (and ultimately sell!).  So it's a little mind trick. And don't underestimate the power of making a new business card that says "ARTIST." :)

Here are the links to Cathy and her art-

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Crochet Christmas

Crochet bracelets
If you are a blogger do you ever wonder if you are ever going to write another blog post? That is how I was beginning to feel. I have been so wrapped up in creating gifts for the holidays and enjoying time with family (plus my three year old has stopped napping) but I wanted to show you some of the things I have been working on (it isn't all of it and it isn't all done). So far my main supply of choice is yarn and thread. It has been simple to do with the kids around and to take in the car while traveling anywhere. The crocheted bracelets were inspired by this pattern from Wren Handmade. Since I am not great at following patterns I made a couple of my own.
Crocheted covered stone
I did this covered stone using Resurrection Ferns pattern. I also made another one up myself. They are fun. My husband looked a little baffled by the fact that I would want to actually cover a stone. :)

Ruffled doily
I tried several doily patterns however my skills are still at a beginner level so I tried my own. It began ruffling and at first I wasn't sure but then I really liked it.

doily necklace

 A small doily attached to chain.

I have also been making hexagons using this super simple pattern from One Loop Short. And I have wanted to make pom-poms for so long and I tried last night using this tutorial from One Loop Short as well. I am going to wrap gifts and attach them. So much fun.

I still have super hero capes to finish and edible gifts to make and my husband has kindly offered to help me! :)

Making all these gifts has pushed me in many ways... to work on a deadline (want to be done this week to enjoy the month of December with the kiddies), to experiment, to play.

And with Thanksgiving (we had some snow!) having come and gone I wanted to say Thank You to all who have come by here either once or often. I appreciate YOU! This creative community has enriched my life in ways I can't even tell you!!


P.S. I decided to treat myself to an early birthday gift and sign up for Big Dreams, Small Wonders with Louise Gale! It starts in January. If you sign up for her newsletter you can get a reduced price for the class.... but you have to sign up by Monday for the reduced price!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Morning... pages, coffee and crochet

this a.m.- pages, coffee and crochet... what you don't see is the storm (aka two little ones) that blew through as  I was doing this. :)

still working away on gifts, mixed in of course with all the daily to do's. wondering will I get it done.
started feeling a bit grinch as I got a bit stressed about the approaching holiday and all that is expected along with them. got over it. don't want to feel THAT.

was reminded of this via emily

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence."
  Max Ehrmann,Desiderata.

hope your weekend went well.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Midst of making

So this is the s-l-o-w progress I am making on the handmade gifts. And no, I am not making ALL gifts, just almost all. :) I have completed 2 things but I can't show here...yet. The wads of newspaper are the beginning attempts at paper mache ornaments. I read the article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors by Denise Litchfield about paper mache inspired by artist Julie Arkell. I learned of Julie's work years ago and I think it is great. When I ran across the lovely work of Denise I thought I would love to make some things with paper mache.  I found this great site with LOTS of info. She gives step by step directions to make a paper mache clay. It looks wonderful, I may have to try to use this too.

In the midst of making I ran across another wonderfully inspiring artist in Somerset Studio. Jesse Reno.
Have you heard of him? His work is intuitive, wild and raw. I also listened to two interviews he did with Rice Freeman-Zachery and Lesley Riley on Art and Soul Radio. He has some interesting things to say about art and creativity-why he works on lots of paintings at once,  what to do if you think you have no room to create,  and how he got started. PLUS he is SO passionate and excited about his art and life it is a bit contagious.

I hope your week has been wonderful so far. I am off to go create.
 P.S. I just found this really wonderful holiday mag by Amy Powers. Lots of great holiday crafting ideas. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A List

I thought I would write a list today. I hope you don't mind.

* Halloween was great. See a pic of my kiddies in their costumes here.
* I know it is only November 3 but I am REALLY getting excited about the holidays.
* I am making almost all Christmas gifts this year and they are all in various states. Super hero capes, crocheted scarves (I am really getting addicted), pincushions, embroidery AND I am trying to complete them all by 12/1. Hmmm....
* So due to the above lofty goal I may be a bit sparse with posting here.
* I am awaiting some new Art Biz Mama answers. I can't wait!
* My wreaths are going to be published in a new gift guide!!
* I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen yesterday and it made the day so much lighter. It is amazing what a super clean room can do.
* If you have a link to handmade gift ideas please share.
* I really wish I could participate in Louise's holiday creative color challenge ornament swap but I think I already have a full plate. If you want to participate head here.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week. I am off to do the blog hop.