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Must be Spring…or the clutter here at home just reached critical mass and I can no longer pretend not to notice it.  It’s definitely time to move some things on to lighten my load.

1st and favorite stop:  Goodwill. There’s a donation drop-off spot just blocks away and about once a month, I take a bag of clothes over there on my way to the cafe to meet a friend for coffee. My thinking is that the good stuff I no longer need will find a new owner who will love it too. I have scored some great finds at thrift stores myself: a wetsuit for my son, a trail-a-bike, the purse I am currently using, the hand-knitted afghan now covering my cat-shredded armchair…

2nd stop: Donate books I’ve read to The Friends of the Public Library used book store. I love to give my favorite things to my favorite places to shop, apparently. This spring, I am going to have my son go through his collection of childrens’ books and select some to donate to a used book sale that his school is organizing. Again, it’s a win-win. We move on some books to make room for the new favorites that he will be bringing home from the sale.

3rd favorite stop: Home pick-up! I’ve been stuck with some cans of spray paint, shellac, bug spray and other items we will never use again but can’t dispose of without making a trip to the dump where they have a household hazardous waste drop-off. I was planning such a trip when I discovered that in San Francisco, we have free home pick-up of such materials!  In fact, is a great source for disposing of any sort of material that should not end up in the landfill. I was very pleased to call Recology and schedule an appointment with a garbage truck. I love San Francisco!

4th favorite stop is another local perk although it is available in many other places besides San Francisco. Freecycle! SFfreecycle is a yahoogroup where I can offer or even request free items. Unlike my craigslist donation attempts, with Freecycle there’s a minimum of fuss as a grateful, local person is generally happy to come by and relieve me of my PVC piping, miscellaneous stretcher bars, the binding machine I thought I wanted …

I discovered years ago that moving on the old is part of my own process for making room for new projects. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and feel much lighter and ready to start something for it.

What do you do before you start something new? How do you lighten your load?


Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  This week’s guest is photographer and entrepreneur Tanya Boggs.

Tanya, what are you thinking about in your current work, Daily Dose?

Some of the themes you will see repeated in all of my personal work have been about collecting, archiving, mortality and memory, and an exploration of personal history.  And those ideas are even more evident in this current body of work Daily Dose.

This is an ongoing self-portrait of me and my daughter and is a continual work in progress.  Everyday, at approximately the same time, I place us as the subject of a photograph.  Day in and day out, each image, taken at the same distance from the camera, with the same lighting, and the same background, begins to compound and grow.  Days become weeks.  Weeks become months.  And soon months will become years.

By choosing to keep some of the elements in the image stable and by placing these seemingly arbitrary restrictions on the project, the nuances begin to come to the forefront.  This gives the viewer the opportunity to notice small details like when I have a headache, or when my daughter is exhausted or not feeling well.  You can begin to see some of the subtleties of the relationship and the individuals.

I began the work in March of 2009, so it’s been just over a year.  I plan to continue this project until my daughter grows up and moves out.  Most if the time in art, I think tightly editing can be crucial. This is one of the few projects where I think more is more.  The accumulation over time will really begin to shift and change this project.  I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Tanya, how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

Given the nature of this current body of fine art work, making time for it is built into the project.  And it doesn’t take too much time everyday so it has been easy to commit to doing.  It’s probably a little easier as a photographer since I’m not making oil paintings or something more time consuming.  But it does require that I commit to the project daily.  There are some larger tasks and overall upkeep which I do in chunks on a weekly or bi-weekly basis: Color balancing, adding titles, updating the images on the website, applying for shows.  It’s been pretty easy to find small blocks of time to stay on top of the work because I’m really excited about the project.  I try to find 30 minutes or an hour here and there.  Which can easily turn into a larger amount of time as I get lost in the project.  Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part.

The other thing I have done to make time for my creative work, is that I have made my art into my craft and my livelihood as well.  I was frustrated that I never had enough time in my studio.  And one day a light bulb went off.  I want to do what I love and have someone pay me for it.  Given my medium of photography, it wasn’t that far of a leap.  Just a leap of faith really.  Now making time for my personal work just blends into my life a little more seamlessly.  I work with images all the time, so it’s easy to flip right into my personal work for 30 minutes at lunch or for an hour on Saturdays.  I hardly notice the difference between the two anymore.  I’m no longer frustrated by my lack of studio time and both my personal and my professional work organically blend together in my daily workflow.

My advice to others who might struggle to make time for their creative work is to first remove as many barriers as possible between you and getting it done.  If your commute to your studio stops you from making work… remove the commute.  Second, figure out how much time you realistically have and then schedule it for you.  Make a date with yourself and don’t break it.  And lastly I’d say, commit, commit, commit!  If it is really a priority for you, then you have to devote the time and energy.

Thanks Tanya!  Where can we see more of your work?

My Solo Exhibition for Re: incarnation at the School of the Arts at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, LA was cancelled for the 2009/2010 exhibition season due to budget cuts.

Currently on the fine art website for my personal work, the Daily Dose images begin in March of 2009 and move to the present, but I am going to switch that shortly so that the most recent images are the first one’s you see on the site.  I want to update the site weekly so the content is always current and easy to get to.

Become a fan:

Follow me on Twitter:

Awesome arts administrator Barbara Garber, the City Studio Assistant Director at the San Francisco Art Institute, shared her “Resources for Teaching Artists” with me recently and it’s information worth passing along as I know many artists teach or will think about teaching at some point in their creative careers.

I’ve linked directly to some of the sites noted in her guide.

On Career Development:

College Art Association

The National Art Education Association

The Artist Help Network

Arts Resource Network

Artist’s Professional Toolbox

For Job Listings:

Chronicle for Higher Education

Job Bank

National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture

Related Organizations:

Teaching Artist Source

The Association of Teaching Artists

State/Regional Arts Agencies:

Alameda County Office of Education

San Francisco Arts Commission

California Arts Council

California Alliance for Arts Education

Check these out if you are a fan of arts in education as they lead to a wealth of information.  Do you have a resource to add to this list?

Nancy's paintings in her Napa Valley studio

Every now and then, I am turning over the reins to my creative friends and letting them show and tell about their work-in-progress.  I also asked them to address the issue of how they make time in their busy schedules for their own work.  Today’s guest is painter and teacher Nancy Willis.

Nancy, what are you thinking about in your current work?

I am excited about this work because…

I have a new studio space in a redwood barn on a vineyard in Napa. To me, it looks and feels like France which I love. But the amount of working space that I lost in downsizing from my old studio is still challenging me. I can stand back to see a painting that I am working on, but do not have much space to move laterally. It is difficult to see the work in relation to other work.

I have been working on the Chandelier image for about three years, mostly in printmaking and painting on paper.  Those decisions were equal parts economic downturn and current space restraints. The smaller scale work really helped me know the form, which I realized when I recently started back in on larger format paintings.

I am striving to move away from a direct view of a chandelier and eclipse or mask it. A major theme in my work is the fragmentary aspect of time and experience, so I think this move supports that.

The larger green painting has been in progress for over a year. The source image is a chandelier in daylight in southern California. I wanted to encapsulate and simultaneously shatter the chandelier form while representing the incongruities of the form with daylight and ocean/nature. My process involves many layers of painting and sanding to find the way color and light reflect, refract and shift. The green keeps changing. This latest version may not stay as bright, or deep but for now, it pulled the form into focus. I will give it a few days and see what it tells me.

And how do you make time for your own creative work (and all the other things you fit into your schedule)?

I teach at the Napa Valley College and a local art center. It is not enough to support me, and while I have some modest gallery representation, I continue to supplement my work with catering shifts. I also produce workshops including a painting tour to France. I am responsible for everything in regard to itinerary, logistics, instruction etc. Right now, that is commanding most of my attention. Since my last solo exhibition in 2007, much of my studio time is plugged in around my “other” work. It is frustrating and deflating at times.  The days of 6 to 8 hour painting sessions are a distant memory. I am aware and can be proficient in a 2 to 4 hour period. On a good day, I feel fortunate to keep it all going, but often I feel like my “real” work gets interrupted, and the glass is half full.

I find the more I paint the easier it is to find the time from an already taxed schedule. In that, I mean there is the spark that comes from a day painting in the studio.  The process seduces all of me away from spreadsheets, syllabi, and documentation. It is a jolt, validation, and curiosity and reminds me of what is really important.

Nancy has a solo show of her work scheduled for 2012 at Robert Mondavi Wines. You can see more of her work at I. Wolk Gallery in St. Helena, the gallery at Sundance, and online at:

My family loves to watch the TV show Cash Cab. Unsuspecting riders get in the cab and give a destination in NYC and the driver announces that this is a TV game show within a cab. It’s so much fun to try to answer the questions as the cash prize adds up. The penalty for 3 incorrect answers is that the cab ride ends and contestants have to get out; the reward for reaching their stop is a cash prize and a free cab ride. What’s not to love?

The ride ends with a double or nothing video bonus question. From the couch, I am always cheering the riders to “Go for it!” because it makes the show more exciting. Indeed, many riders do try the video option and most walk away with double the prize money. Why not? The contestants entered the cab expecting to pay for the ride and instead have gotten a free ride and a cash prize. There’s really nothing to lose in risking double or nothing. That’s what I would do if I were on Cash Cab, I think. It’s an easy decision to make when the stakes are not mine.

What would you do if presented with the same choice? Most people I’ve asked developed a rationale for making the decision. It would depend on how much money there was in the bank (or how much even the smaller sum was needed). It would depend on the amount of the cash offered. If less than a certain amount, the person would risk doubling it.

Most of us approach decision-making with some criteria based on personal experience.  What reasonable limits do we establish for ourselves for making decisions in advance?  What’s negotiable?  What’s not negotiable?  We are faced with decisions all the time at work and at home.  The stakes are usually not so clear so it can be harder to make a tough choice. Evaluating a list of pros and cons is a tried and true method for making such decisions because it helps clarify exactly what is at stake for the decision-maker. And it helps to remember whatever advice you get, from those of us sitting on the couch, you are the one who has to make and live with the decision.

In reality, I would probably walk away from the Cash Cab with a $600 prize in hand rather than risking double or nothing.  What would you do?

My son assembled this robot from a box of parts he's been collecting.

Sometimes being creative means collaborating with your children. It’s important to let them take the creative lead and to just help out with the parts involving the hot glue gun.

My son and I usually start with a question: what should we make today? Sometimes we start with the materials and try to figure out what they want to be. We had an old camera that wanted to be the robot pictured here. My son has a box of art parts and he found the reflectors which became the robot’s laser eyes. The iPhone box with it’s icons that look like buttons and controls became the body and we added some wire for arms and some rolled corrugated cardboard for the feet (not shown in the picture).

Now he picks up interesting robot parts as he comes across bolts, broken electronic devices, and other odds and ends as we walk around town.

How do you like to play creatively with children? Do you make things? pictures? songs or poems? dances? games? How do you start the process?

After attending several workshops and listening to webinars about developing a social media strategy and just scratching my head, I finally began to understand. Initially, like any small business owner, I was reluctant to add things to my to-do list, unless I had some way to measure the returns. Especially something like social media which involves spending time on the Internet, which I like to do and might find distracting. Once I could understand that networking online was really very similar to networking at events, then I knew what to do.

My notes are so simple, that I smile every time I see them.  But they remind me of what to do and put me in a good mood which helps:

  • It’s a party.
  • You go to the party daily.
  • You stay for at least 1/2 an hour.

Here’s what you like to do at the party:

  1. Update your status bars on LinkedIn and Facebook (personal network and business fan page).
  2. Talk to the people you find most interesting. This could mean commenting on favorite blogs from a list of 10 to check at least once a week.  On twitter, it means responding to and/or retweeting posts that attract your attention.
  3. Browse around other blogs, just looking and commenting as you see fit.  Twitter is a great place to find links to interesting blog posts, especially since you are already following people with similar interests.
  4. Ask and answer questions.  You might belong to a LinkedIn group with an interesting discussion thread. Or it could be a yahoogroup where members are posing questions and sharing referrals. Or a social site like Citymommy where members are posting links and sharing information.  Like most relationships, the more love you give, the more love you get.
  5. Research deeper as needed.  Take a little extra time now and then to really delve into a topic or check out the people you are meeting online.  What does their online presence reveal about them? Do you want to bookmark them for future reference or subscribe to their e-newsletter for more information on an on-going basis?  It’s all good networking and you will find some great resources, both people and information, that you can share.
  6. Post to your own blog and share a link to it on twitter, Linkedin, and your facebook fan page.  All three sites can do this automatically from your blog.
  7. Finally, track and measure the results.  What do you want to measure? Google analytics will track traffic to your web-site which is a good place to start.  Your blog can track the number of visits (besides your own!) or you might use the number of comments as another measure of engagement.

What do you like to do at the online party?

It's always sunny and green outside the catalog windows.

A blog about making time to be creative definitely needs to include some creative work as well as posts about time-saving strategies, home office productivity, and work/life balance. I plan to continue to post helpful tips for the office on Tuesdays. Fridays will be for “Time to Create” to include photos of work in progress, poetic fragments, and other thoughts around the creative process. It’s a little bit left-brained/right-brained but that is how my mind works!

I remember papering the walls of my cardboard box barbie-dollhouse with pictures from catalogs so that they could live in style and I could pretend that they had all that they could wish for.  I never stopped collecting images or wishing and my current project (wishbooks) considers the allure of catalog settings.  I’d like to figure out what it is we are really hoping for when we are shopping and outfitting our homes with what we want and need.

This wishbook features romantic outside views for those of us who live and work in urban environments often lacking in such beautiful natural ambiance.  I write this as I listen to the street in front of my house being torn up today and can look out and see fences, parking lots, and neighboring buildings.

What do you want to see when you look outside?