By Seeking and Blundering We Learn*

Whilst replying to a comment on last Friday’s post I realised I had made my practice sound difficult, or, at least, rather tiresome. Which it isn’t at all. Yes, I’m broke financially, but in every other respect I’m as rich as it gets. I do things I love every single day, even the difficult things like marketing and shop management are getting easier as I learn. And I love learning and solving problems. My life is a kind of philosophical experiment on how to live well. Not lavishly, but delightfully, and I am making small but significant gains. Gains I hope others will be able to benefit from too, not because I’m altruistic, but because I want to live in a world in which people aren’t miserable and afraid. I think recent political bombs show that miserable afraid people are dangerous to all of us, not just those who step in their path(s). So here are three recent good things about being this particular freelance artist:

Good Thing #1

Because of the stuff I’ve done to encourage other writers (Brave New Words which my much missed° spoken word collaborator and I set up, for example, and the poetry group I run) Wigtown Book Festival now pays me a small stipend to support the literary community in the region. This mostly involves sharing the work of writers, and supporting the events of literature/arts organisations, though today I was able to put a writer in touch with a charity that needs one. Hopefully they’ll come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.

Good Thing #2

Early last week a literary magazine asked me for some stories to make up the balance between poetry and fiction in their next edition. They asked me, I can’t tell you how good that feels! And when I replied that I’d look through my files and see what I have they asked me for black and white art work too! This because one of the editors had seem some of my images on-line, which, I’d say, shows the value of just putting your work out there. I sent twelve thumbnails for them to choose from and they want them all, three or four for this edition and the rest for subsequent ones. Not only that they’ve now asked for a full colour image for a future cover. (I’m so tempted to litter this post with exclamation marks!!!).

Good Thing the Third

Meanwhile, on Monday I heard I’d been short-listed for a Jerwood Arts Foundation Artist’s Bursary for a project I’m working on. They only have ten to give, and had 731 applicants, so I feel terribly vindicated: I’m not wasting my time, I am doing something worthwhile, my work isn’t self indulgent rubbish.

We tend to judge success by money. But there are other ways, and this week, regardless I’ve run out of shampoo, I feel very successful indeed.

*Goethe

°Sindigo who died last September of breast cancer, aged 33.

Charlie Citrine

This post isn’t about Charlie Citrine at all, I just couldn’t think of a title and his name popped into my head, so I shoved it in. That said, it may turn out to be as apparently random as his meditation on Humboldt. A ghastly compilation of non sequiturs. If so I’ll ask you to consider Ramsay theory and widen your gaze accordingly.

I do feel rather like Citrine at the moment, minus the Broadway etc. success. Having decided last September on a last ditch attempt to try and earn enough from my art to be able eat variedly (boiled egg and toast every supper is getting a bit wearing), buy the kind of shampoo that doesn’t bring me out in spots, and get up to the city to visit galleries more than no times a year, I’m drowning in ‘how tos’ at the moment:

How to Write Killer Descriptions*

How to Maximise SEO

How to Kill it on Instagram

How to use Pinterest to Earn Ten Million Dollars a Minute

How to Effectively Manage Your Time

My inbox is pregnant with this stuff, but I’m beginning to see that most if it’s bollocks. Not always inherently so, but it’s generally written in such vague terms (‘tell people what’s great about your product!’) that it’s meaningless. I am clinically uncommercial, so in order to make sense of this environ I need specifics: check-lists; concrete terms (abstracts like ‘great’ only send me into a spin of possible meanings); and models that are similar enough to my own situation to be of use. So, I was thrilled the other day to find an article on time management written by someone who had tried very hard for precision.  Too hard, perhaps, but I was able to put a lot of his thesis to good, solid, use once I’d set aside some of his 14 templates and put the rest into a sequence that works for me.

I now have:

An explicit overall goal – to earn enough to live – and a way to monitor its achievement with:

•Annual Goals (and a format for annual evaluation), which generate:

•Monthly Goals (ditto), which generate:

•Weekly Goals (ditto), which generate:

•A daily to-do list.

As well as a handy list of all my projects (including the scary number of community projects for which I volunteer).

Thus, I now have some idea of the things I need to do every day, and have got into a fairly comfortable rhythm with regards admin (making new work? Not so much).

Maybe I’ll write about these goals lists in another post, maybe I’ll realise they’re far too boring to share with the world and write about kittens instead. I see at the bottom of my list for March I’ve written, ‘think about bundles.’ Does any of this make sense?

P.S. I wish I could follow in the footsteps of Gustav Metzger (who died the other day). He lived his values and never (as far as I can tell) compromised. Not wanting to feed the capitalist machine he refused to sell his art, and, in fact, invented art that self destructs so that it couldn’t be sold. Unlike Humboldt he doesn’t seem to have gone mad, and he lived to 90. How did he manage this?

P.P.S. Please feel free to correct my scandalous grammar.

 

*written by someone too busy to concern herself with punctuation.

 

Return 

It’s quite delightful to be back in Blogopolis again. Over the last five years I’ve ranged around all number of other social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest…) and enjoyed all of them to various degrees, so blogging receded to a distant memory. Returning and finding many of my old friends still here has been a joy. This morning as I read a few of those old friends’ posts I found many of them sharing pictures of their bookshelves. How could I not join in?


Bookcase to the right of me.


Bookcase to the left.


Shelf of current reading up above my head.

These photos are all of my tiny workspace between the two upstairs rooms. The room to the right we sleep in, the other is full of guitars and other musical equipment. There are bookcases in all the other rooms, too, including the bathroom. But this is enough for now. Should you crave more bookish posts here are the three that inspired me to do this: Dinah; Scarls and Mago.

I did have a serious post planned for today, on time management, but I have allowed myself to be distracted. Ironic? Ha!

Test Too

I’m posting this from my ancient phone, just to see what happens, and if it’s possible to make it look not ghastly. 

Bugle Call

Can you hear it? You may have to squint, but the bugle calls for the small victory of finally mapping my domain name to this site. You are now on erylshields.com rather than the rather grim sounding erylshieldsink.wordpress.com. I knew it would happen eventually, I was just worried about when. As it stands I only lost two days of website cover – my Wix site terminated on Monday – so it wasn’t that bad. Even my world hasn’t ended.

So, now I can get back to making pictures, I have so many ideas, and the light’s beginning to come back which fuels them further. It lingers for a little longer each day and shines on things in interesting ways. Its colour changes, sometimes buttery, sometimes pinkish, along with the pewter tones of winter which are becoming bluer. This year I want to concentrate on capturing the qualities of different light, the way Turner did in his paintings, which means I’ll be out with my camera and notebook as often as possible.

Hip hip…

Waiting for Confirmation…

from your current provider. I’m not terribly good at waiting, on the whole, and I seem to be doing it a lot recently. At the moment I’m waiting for my current domain name registrar to confirm something or other in order for the transfer to happen. What they need to confirm I have no idea, but they’re taking their time. Before that I was waiting for confirmation of registrant and admin contact emails, or rather I was waiting for the new registrar to email me so I could confirm them. I wonder what I’ll have to wait for next? All I want is to attach my domain name to this site, I suppose it’s more complicated than that sounds.

As I wait I get on with small jobs I’ve hitherto put off. Mostly going through old images, processing or discarding any that were missed first time around, and filing them in what I hope is a better way. I’m currently fiddling with a shot of an oak tree that’s just come into leaf, from 2013. I remember seeing this tree for the first time, and feeling driven to capture its wowness. I walked all round it, examined it up close, walked away, lay on the ground at its feet, before finally deciding on the angle I wanted and taking out my camera. I came home with four shots, immediately liked this one best, but didn’t quite know what to do with it. I did process it, but then just left it to languish until now. I still like it, in fact I re-experienced something of that feeling of being wowed when I stumbled on it again yesterday, so maybe I don’t need to do anything more to it?  However, unable to let it be I made a black and white version which I may like better.

Now to get back to waiting…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Trees Will Outlive Us All

Drowning in a Lack of Expertise

When I was a child my mother would call in a plumber to change the washer on a dripping tap; it would never have crossed her mind to do it herself. We weren’t wealthy, she, a widowed immigrant with four children, cleaned hospitals to feed us, but she believed in expertise. If a job needed to be done she called in someone who had a track record in that area, which allowed her to get on with the things she could do. She didn’t have time to waste faffing about with plumbing, and, anyway, it’s unlikely she’d have had access to a manual.

These days we have free access to manuals on every subject in multiple formats thanks to the internet: want to build your own house? watch a You Tube video. So we rarely call in experts. But the demise of expertise began long before the internet arrived. In my adult life I have built a kitchen; tiled a bathroom; put up umpteen shelves; installed light-fittings and dimmer switches; built a bed and god knows how many book-cases, and fixed a zillion broken things. And now I am trying to make a website, for the fourth time.

I’ve done two for local charities, and this is the second I’m building for myself. The first one was great, I loved it, but it’s come time to pay for the next year and I can’t afford the same package. I was hoping to just move onto a cheaper one until things picked up financially, but, no, they only allow you to upgrade. Although I understand the need to secure their income I find this infuriating. Had they allowed me to downgrade they’d have kept my business. As an emerging freelance artist my income is currently unpredictable, and always low, but I need a website. I need a website so potential customers and funders can see who I am, what I do and can do for them. So I need a provider I can trust. And it would appear I can’t trust Wix.

Thus I find myself, once again, faffing about in a field way beyond my level of expertise, in a faint panic, and having to sideline my creative projects. I have till Friday to get this done, and I have just requested the code to transfer my domain name away from Wix. Now I hope it hasn’t been removed from my old site yet. I really do need as seamless a transfer as possible, it could be a disaster if someone to whom I’ve applied for funding clicks on the link I provided for my website, and finds nothing…

Test

‘Let’s eat biscuits!’

‘There aren’t any.’

‘Let’s draw fish.’

‘OK, you draw fish, I’ll get on with this.’

My other selves are bored of trying to get this site set up, they would rather do anything other than continue to stare at this screen.

 

I may have to go out for biscuits…

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