In the last three weeks I’ve completed over 30 custom artworks. I thought I’d share some behind the scenes of why and how that happened!
At the start of the month I announced that I was taking on a limited run of commissions for Soul Story Messages Art – the art series I started my business with years ago. It’s been over a decade since I’d offered them again, and I felt called to doing it again.
I got the idea for it because we’ve moved into our new acreage home which has a bar/games room that I want to use as my studio… but it needs some windows and doors because it currently is one sad, dank, dark box.
I always like to create abundance for projects instead of dipping into savings.
And even though there was lots of ideas for how to fund the renovation, and most of those ideas were less time intensive, I really adored the idea of literally painting my new artist studio into reality.
I released the offering to my mailing list (you can see the (fairly basic) sales page here) and social media accounts.
I’ve recently simplifed my business and am using Kajabi for my mailing list, e-commerce and teaching courses. I fucking adore how simple it is… it’s cheaper than all the other software I was using AND it’s all interconnected. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to find something like Kajabi… for me, as I simplify and amplify my business, it’s a dream come true.
So in the case of these paintings, I used Kajabi to:
- email my mailing list about it
- sell the product online (it links to Paypal and Stripe for payments)
- automatically get everyone who bought to fill out an online questionnaire including a photo for the custom artwork to be created from.
The artworks sold out in about a day and a half which was so dang lovely.
It was really beautiful seeing the names pouring in for them.
Many of them have been long-term customers who remember the custom artworks from over a decade ago and regretted not getting one then! It felt like seeing old friends pop up… I really feel so freaking lucky to have readers who have been around for so long.
One of the commissions was from someone I’ve known online for over 16 years from a message board – before I even began blogging! Another was from a gorgeous soul I met on a bus in Singapore 12 years ago. She was sitting in front of me and Chris, and I thought her energy was just beautiful, so I tapped her on the shoulder and we’ve been friends ever since. It’s amazing how many friends I’ve made on buses. I’m DEFINITELY one of those people who talks to strangers on public transport. How else will we become friends if I don’t?
Once we sold out, I gathered all the supplies I needed for the artworks.
- Pens: I’ve been using the same brand for about 15 years. I use Uni-ball Eye Fine rollerball markers. They are waterproof so it means I can draw then paint over with watercolour and it won’t run or smudge.
- Paper: I haven’t bought watercolour paper for commissions for years, so I needed to find and test for the right one again. I needed heavy textured paper suitable for watercolour use. I didn’t want to order online… you really need to look at it first to make sure it’s the right weight and texture and look. I went into Oxlades at Noosa and they recommended Arttec Como Sketch Pad. That ended up being the winner out of the different brands I tested.
- Watercolours: I used my trusty Winsor and Newton Cotman studio set. A few years ago I splurged and bought the biggest set, but I also have my tiny travel-sized set and use that just as much. The colours are just freakin’ delicious and vivid in this set.
Pro Tip: for white skin colour I mix “Trump Orange” with white and water both down a lot. I KID I KID, it is NOT called Trump Orange, but you totally know what orange I’m talking about now though right?
- Address labels: I order mine from Vistaprint. I always just use their designs and find something cute.
- Thank you cards: Again, I order them from Vistaprint. I design them myself by making a digital collage of my art and lettering, and buy them in packs of 100. I use them for sending with orders, and I also like sending surprise cards to customers and readers who’ve sent me a lovely letter in the mail.
- Envelopes: These rigid cardboard envelopes from Officeworks are fucking TICKETYBOO for sending prints and thin artworks (they also come in A5 and A3 sizes). I did also spy them at Big W, but they aren’t always in stock.
How I did the painting:
I printed out all the questionnaires and photos from Kajabi.
Then I did what I always do: batched the creation process.
I do all the drawing and writing in quiet undisturbed office time. I can’t actively listen to anything when I’m doing this part. From a sacred level, this is where I feel like I’m tuning in and scribing a person’s essence.
Once the drawing and writing is done, I move onto colouring/painting in. I work on at least six at a time, and usually listen to podcasts (either Chat 10 Looks 3 or This American Life) or e-courses or sit next to Mr D while he is watching TV.
For each artwork, I paint as much as I can and leave it to dry before I paint adjoining areas (to stop colour seepage). Then I move to working on the next one. If I only painted one at a time, it would take freaking forever while waiting for things to dry! Some peeps use hairdryers to speed the drying time, but I hate the sound of them.
I have no idea on how long each artwork takes me – it’s never something I work from start to finish in one go on.
Then after that, I package, write cards to pop in with them, and send off! Some peeps find Sendle to be a better postage option. I’ve never managed to get organised enough to do it, so I just pop into a Aus Post Office instead. Plus, I do love Post Offices – it’s another great way to make friends with people! Ha! #overlyexcitable
So there we go!
31 artworks in 3 weeks!
Not bad considering it’s been three weeks that included getting my wisdom teeth out, recovering from that, having a sick kid and getting sick myself with a dastardly cold.
The best part about doing this was getting to connect with people’s energy 1:1 and getting to spend time loving them up. It heals a part of me to just pour love out onto others. And of course, the gift of being able to spend concentrated time just on art as well was a joy. It feels lovely to come back full circle to the artwork that began this journey with me.
Will I be doing any more soon?
Not in the near future… I sense more ideas wanting to come through. However spirit wants to create, I will follow.
Hope this has been useful or interesting for you. May you create with joy.
With love and ink-stained fingers,
P.S. Just for fun as well – this is what happened when my kid decided to collaborate on one of my discarded artworks!