Monday, May 25, 2015

Time to float.




I mentioned taking a bit of a break yesterday and am here to explain! 

In honor of this BIG one-year celebration I'm taking a bit of a vacation. 
At least mentally and from social media some.  I know, I know...the "experts" say to never do this because you'll lose followers and fall out of the game.  But the people I want following me in the first place are the ones who know I'm a real human being.  I'm mama and artist and wife and friend.  Those titles add up quickly.  

So over the next few months I'll be posting less.  I'm not going away entirely and I'll certainly be back.  In fact, I'm having a HUGE blog makeover this summer I can't wait to share with you! 

Behind-the-scenes I'll be giving myself permission to play, read, take naps (hopefully), daydream, sit outside, listen to good music, sketch, and try out all kinds of new art ideas I've been carrying in my head for months.  The pressure of having an art business can sometimes get to be too much.  I've wondered lately if what the outside world is seeing is the same as what I'm feeling and thinking.  I get so many comments about me living my dream.  And a lot of the time that's exactly how it feels AND looks! 

But I have to be honest with you.  Trying to swim in the sea of handmade sellers and artists is just sometimes too much.  Trying to market myself well and make art I love and practice art...all within the tiny spaces of time my girls are asleep can sometimes catch up to me.  I know myself and my art quite well.  I know that coming off a year of trying lots of BIG, new things....I simply need to float.

 So I'm giving myself permission to take a step back so that I can take giant steps forward soon. 

I hope you'll stick around for the moments I pop in here and there...
and I'll be ready to see you full time again sometime later this summer.
I'll return with my pep in my step, my mind clear and my eyes fresh.  
I have plenty of ideas I can't wait to share with you!  

I will still be taking orders for custom canvases...which is my truest love honestly. 
Send me an email at sunshinebysara@hotmail.com if you'd like to set up your own order! 

Blogger Tricks

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Celebration Week: Day 7! (winners announced)


The winners from the original canvas giveaway are: 
Instagram: @willoughbyhouse
Blog: Comment number 2, Kari! 

Congrats! Email me at sunshinebysara@hotmail.com and we'll get started talking about what you want your canvas to be about! 

And now, for my top lessons learned over the last year as an artist! 
(in no particular order of importance)
1.) Make lots of art.  Then make even more.  Seriously, if I stopped creating art or taking photos every time I ran across something I didn't like, I would never get anything produced.  I have learned it's ok to make a lot of things I don't even like, because once I practice over and over, art and photos start showing up that I do like!  Love even. 

2.) Be kind.  Be kind to customers, fellow artists, and yourself.  It seems there are so many accusations going around about this person making that person's art or whatever or mean comments left and this and that.  Basically, I think kindness towards others and ourselves really matters.  Sometimes it can feel like the expectation is to be a perfect blogger, perfect artist, perfect at it all.  The truth is, if you're a handmade artist, you are a human being putting art out into the world.  Not a machine.  So if you make a mistake, forgive yourself.  

3.)  The business side of things takes hours and hours and hours.  And more hours.  Keeping up with emails, taxes, recording finances, shipping items, and yes, even blogging, takes up a lot of time.  I don't mean to sound negative but if you're picturing artists sitting around sketching for hours a day it just simply isn't true.  The art is the reason why I create in the first place, but it happens in a tiny slice of my artist's life.  

4.)  Good quality products come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.  I've tested out expensive art supplies over the last year and very cheap ones too.  I've ordered from Amazon and Dick Blick and bought things at Hobby Lobby.  While I always want to be open to trying new supplies and products, I have really discovered what I like to have in my artist toolbox and it isn't always the most expensive thing out there.  For example, one of my favorite mark-making tools is the bottom of a .99 flip flop I bought at Wal-Mart! Thinking outside the box is a must and a lifesaver for your wallet. 

5.) Share because you care.  I have been the most touched by the people who have shared my shop, blog, or Instagram simply because they cared.  In this day and age it seems like almost everyone wants to collect a fee for advertising on their blog before they'll even mention your name.  But it's not entirely true.  From people like Alisa Burke featuring my studio, to friends both near and far giving my shop a shout out just because they care, I have really seen caring in action and people spreading the word about my shop without expecting pay.  

6.) Keep your head down. A.K.A. "the toothbrush effect".  Looking around at other people's art or sales can sometimes be helpful.  Like a tiny amount of the time.  Maybe you're going to learn from them.  But mostly you're probably going to compare.  At least I do!  Brett and I call this The Toothbrush Effect.  Sometimes I'll see someone with thousands of followers and a shop that sells out every single time they post something.  They could literally post their toothbrush and people would clamor over who got to it first.  And then you think...wait, there's me spending HOURS and hours trying to sell one piece of art.  Well,  you can see where that conversation will get you.  Nowhere good and stuck.  So, don't look around too much.  Stick to your own lane, head down, making art and genuinely connecting with others.  

7.) HAVE FUN.  HAVE FUN. HAVE FUN!!! Remember, that's what got you into the game in the first place!  Have fun with your art and photography!  Enjoy it and allow yourself time and space to breathe and learn new things! I'm certainly going to....

In fact, come back tomorrow to read about my summer break,
why it's necessary, and what I'll be up to! 
(and at least come by to tell me what you'll be up to yourself!)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Celebration Reminders!

Check out this week's blog posts for a special coupon code in my Etsy shop,
a chance to win a custom original canvas,
and a free photo download!

See you tomorrow to announce the canvas winners! :) 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebration Week Day 5: Retreat Gals share their photos!

(taken by Sydnee)
We all have such stories to tell, don't we?  I remember when I first became a mom, other moms of all ages, shapes, and kinds would stop me in the store or out and about and extend a hand of kindness.  I suppose that was the first time I really realized, we're not all that different, you and I.  It reaches past motherhood even though.  Your story, your emotions, your flavors, smells, memories, and laughs…are interesting and they matter.  My story isn't any more fascinating than yours.  The same author wrote both life stories with equal exuberance.  
(taken by Sydnee)
And that is exactly what the Photography Rosy Retreat was all about.  We're all made of fascinating plots and twists and turns,  We each get to choose what we are about and who we're about. You can pick up dozens of books at Barnes and Noble about the technical side of photography.  This day, however, was about the heart.  I'm happy to show you the retreat gals' photos, straight out of the camera.  I had advertised this retreat as being for all skill levels and ALL camera types, including phone cameras! I'm happy to say these photos are a mixture of phone pics only, shooting in manual mode, and shooting in auto.  There is room for us all.  
(taken by Sydnee)





(taken by Debbie)




(taken by Cindy)



(taken by Christin)

Take a peek at yesterday's post for a peek into my own view of the day. 

I truly, truly enjoyed this retreat.  One of the first things I told the ladies was that the day was a safe place.  Meaning, it was ok to ask questions, tear up, laugh, get waaaay down on the ground for the best shot.  Anything was ok and accepted.  Fears, doubts, and insecurities weren't welcome.  And I truly felt that with this day and group!  We were all ourselves and gave ourselves permission to learn.  

Along the way over the past year I've been saving up experiences and memories, deciding which things to continue placing my time and efforts in.  This retreat is definitely on my YES list.  
Stay tuned for the announcement of the next Photography Retreat date! 
I hope you'll join us, whether with your phone or camera, to learn how to capture your story well. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Celebration Week: Day 4 (photography retreat recap)


I've been walking around, doing my chores, making art….all the while carrying around the good memories from the first ever Photography Rosy Retreat.  It was last Saturday and simply couldn't have been more perfect.  The day started out as a tricky mixture of sun and rain.  I could tell though, the day was going to be beautiful.  

I had everything prepared ahead of time so after enjoying some time with my girls I took them to their Nana's and got ready to meet everyone! 
There were five ladies who attended the retreat and the number was just perfect!  Some were gals I was meeting for the first time, others knew me ahead of time.  Whatever the case, I was delighted and honored to have them spend the day on the farm, soaking up inspiration and stories to take home with them. 

We started off the morning with "hello's" and coffee and homemade bread.  We got to the heart of the matter before jumping into much of anything else.  That's what it is all about to me-the heart of photography.  My neighbor asked me just this week what my class was about, if I could sum it up in one line.  I quickly said "it's about learning to tell your story, through pictures." 

We went page by page through the workbook I wrote, with plenty of time for questions in-between. 



From rifling through stacks of inspiring books to tears and laughter, we definitely did some soul-searching that was valuable and much needed in order to tell our stories well.  


My amazing group! :) 
Next, after a quick lesson on props, we headed to the farm cabin for Mason Jar salads and crackers!  I especially liked this part of the day because it was so laid-back and relaxed.  We ate on the screened in porch and just took our time.  Usually there was conversation flowing but even the silence that occurred a few times felt like a treat.  We were together, just being. 



One of the biggest messages I preached throughout the retreat was to practice, practice, practice.  I told one of the gals I hoped she left with 700 photos so she could discover at least 20-30 she really, truly loved. :)  

Our salads had garden lettuce, peas, olives, grilled chicken, cheese, boiled eggs, peppers, radishes, and homemade vinegar dressing! Yummy!


We ended the day with SUCH FUN! We took some props and headed over the farm for free time!  Each lady was free to roam the farm (watching out for the bull, fallen down barn, and skunk, lol) and click to their heart's content.  And that's just what they did!  


This was a treat for me too because I got to put some ideas into action I'd been thinking about…like hanging these paper lanterns I bought from Natalie Creates booth at the 410 Vintage Market in Fayetteville.  








It was so EXCITING (yes, like all caps exciting) for me to watch each gal set up a shot with their props and capture it from all different angles. I just loved seeing them wander and roam and stop to click along the way.  It was like watching creativity in motion and was beautiful to me. 



We had a little chat about how books can be used for story-telling, not just reading! 
My particular book's title-Out of our Past. 

I like that. 

And this is actually how the morning started.
You guys, I was so nervous before this retreat.  One of the ladies opened up during the morning session and said she felt like she kept hearing that voice telling her "you don't belong".  I quickly responded that I'd had the same voice trying to beat me up all week!  Telling me that I don't belong or am not qualified to teach a class because of ________________.  I don't believe those voices are the truth for us.  They're just stumbling blocks. 
I was praying the morning of the retreat and happened to look outside.  I saw this.  The most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen.  I ran outside with Anna Ruth and we talked about how God keeps His promises and sends us signs to show us how much He loves us.  This was a HUGE sign of encouragement to me. 

And you know what? The day ended up being perfect.  Just perfect.  I don't say that about very many days, but this one truly was.  Each lady left feeling empowered and inspired.  It was so much fun to spend the day on the farm with other creative gals.  It was just perfect. 

I'll be back tomorrow to share some of the pictures the girls took! :)