As part of my voluntary redundancy package, I am entitled to two "one to one tailored support" sessions, and I had the first of these a couple of weeks ago. Usually, these are designed to help people find a new job, but occasionally, as in my case, it is to help them set up their own business. Whilst the facilitator, Mike, was able to come up with a couple of new ideas, in the main, he was able to confirm that I am thinking along the right lines, that I am identifying positive strategies whilst being mindful of the potential pitfalls, and that my modest short term aims are realistic. It sounds such a simple thing, but at least I can now see that I am not flapping about aimlessly, even if sometimes it feels like I am.
Mike and I discussed how to tackle "blockages" - those issues which have a tendency to hinder progress, or even bring everything to a grinding halt.
One recurring problem for me is lack of time, or my perception of a lack of time, for my art. In my own defence, I would argue that three children, a dog, a fair sized house and garden and a job cannot be rolled up and dealt with in a couple of hours a day. One artist friend of mine once gave me a very hard time about this, stressing that I needed to stop making excuses and get on with it. I felt exasperated at the time, but he was right - no-one is interested in excuses and bleating about it doesn't put paint on canvas.
Well, now I have given up my job and I have found myself a cleaner, which has liberated me and has enabled me to put in some serious painting hours. One problem solved. The other blockages need more work.
Pricing my work appropriately is a real conundrum for me, as I imagine it is for most artists when they start to sell. I can see that part of the problem is the connection of pricing to my attitude towards painting. It doesn't much feel like a job, to be honest, and I float so much between wanting people to like what I do and being embarrassed about the whole thing, that it is easier to give the paintings away. I'm going to have to come back to the issue of pricing when I have given it more thought, but for the time being I am trying to focus on the simple truth that if I can make some money from selling paintings, I shall be able to spend more time painting.
The embarrassment factor is a blockage in other areas. I want to promote my business but, as I have mentioned before, giving my business card to people seems too forward. My Vistaprint postcards have arrived now, so I really have no excuse to not carry them at all times and hand them out when opportunities arise.
In the same vein. some time ago, I devised a footer for my emails which comprises a thumbnail of a painting and my website address. As I had to choose whether or not to attach it to each individual e-mail, more often than not, I chose not to. After my talk with Mike, I changed the setting on my e-mails, so that the footer appears automatically. Nevertheless, I am so embarrassed about using it, I usually delete it!
A further blockage is my chronic inability to understand Facebook - which really deserves a seperate posting!!