Command the Brand

Art BrandingCreatives have their plates full. I know you hear people say they wish they could hang out and (fill in the blank)________(write, draw, paint, sculpt, play music) all day, but they don’t know what you REALLY do.

Unless you’re a successful, established, uber lucky artist, chances are you’re doing some of your own branding, marketing and go-getting. I don’t have a “slave spouse” to run my business…I am my own slave. Don’t get me wrong, hubby is my biggest fan, but he doesn’t order supplies, create and order marketing materials, do my social media promotion, write press releases or even stage my installations – but he is willing to help hang them.

So, this week, prepare to get an earful of my “stream of consciousness” ramblings about how whatever you are, that’s not ALL you are! (click to Tweet)

I remember back in the day when I was a new coach. I had a discussion with a colleague about being a coach. I told her coaching was a tool, but you are a business owner first. She disagreed, and as a matter of fact, I believe the proclamation offended her. What I do know is this…

If I paint all day, every day, I will have a lot of paintings in my studio and no one will ever see them. (click to Tweet).

I have to market those suckers. I have to get them out into the light of day. Once dry, they need to be priced, photographed, catalogued, tracked, and SHOWN – otherwise, they are mine forever, and I do want them to go to good homes where other people can enjoy them. I have to let people know when and where to see them. I have to update my website, promote them on social media…the list goes on and on.

Sure, you can hire people to help you with some of these things…and you SHOULD get help rather than spending a full day Computer problemsdesigning a postcard, shipping your work, loading software (or whatever you’re banging your head against the keyboard trying to do).  I, personally, like the option of having access to my own website to update it, although I had a great developer help me when it was initially created. So, you pick and choose your chores – cuz you’re a grown up now!  But, let’s not reinvent the wheel every time, eh? Let’s work smarter, not harder so we can spend more time doing the work we love.

Given all the stuff we have to do besides honing our craft, I suggest the following platform for maximizing your branding efforts.

 Your Artist’s Statement is your Branding Platform. (click to Tweet).

Craft a comprehensive, concise and authentic artist statement. If you don’t know how, read last week’s blog post . Some of you requested “samples” and you may find them here.  Remember, not all the examples are good artist’s statements – so read the blog first, then see if you can tease out the pearls from the swine. (Hint: shorter is better…we’ll isn’t that terrific news?)

 Get clear on who you are and why you do what you do. Own it. Don’t chisel it in stone because we all change, the market changes, our art changes, “stuff” changes. The main thing is to be clear on who you are – now.  Like a geological formation, artist statements do evolve over time.

Now, take those few principles you’ve noted in your statement and use those to promote your branding.

  • Use part of it in a tagline for your business cards and other business materials, if that’s appropriate.
  •  Pick key phrases for postcards and other marketing materials.
  • Use your collectors’ favourite images of your work on promotional materials.
  •  Stay organized so you can find them these materials in a moments notice and won’t have to reinvent them.
  • Conduct yourself in accordance with your branding. This shouldn’t be a challenge since your statement is authentic, right? Walk the talk and be your brand.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful and time-saving, so you might spend a bit more time doing the creative work that drives you. It’s always a balancing act, but you can have considerable command.

Command the Brand,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their dreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Michelle Headshot plushy coatFacebook on Twitter

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My Lunacy (Luna, See?)

moon journalTonight the moon is full. There will also be a penumbral eclipse, though it may not be visible in North America. I’ve always followed the moon closely. She is a heavenly body symbolizing light, the feminine (maiden, mother and crone) and abundance. The moon controls her own cycles. She is the embodiment of planting, growth and harvest. The moon taps into our feminine qualities, all of us, not just women, but men, too.

Tonight’s moon, October 18, 2013 will be a “Hunter’s Moon.” (click to Tweet)

So, why am I going all loony for the moony?  Mostly because I spent last weekend with 55 other artists in a room with music, laughter, chocolate, flowers and Alyson Stanfield, The Art Biz Coach. We defined our dreams and took oaths with one another on steps we’d take to make our dreams materialize. It was fantastic. The friendships we formed will go far beyond the weekend and the steps we’ve vowed to take will become our everyday, powerful, business tools and rituals.

moon journal
Future Moon Journalers

Rituals. We had a discussion about the benefits of journaling, affirmations and gratitude. These activities are powerful and keep us on track. They do require some upkeep AND I have something additional to share with you. You may even want to try it.

I do a bi-monthly moon dance. Yep, I get all cozy, clear, conscious and talk to the moon. Twice a month. Like clockwork. My mind is clear. I get in a good space. I go outside, look up and let it fly. Don’t be alarmed. It’s not a cloven-hoofed ritual or anything, and it has good value.

I have a journal I use for the full and new moons. On the full moon, I let stuff go. It is a time of emptying, moving forward and past the concerns I’ve had. It doesn’t have to be fancy…usually just one, simple page. It may look something like this:

During this full moon I, with trust and faith, surrender and release that which no longer serves me.

  •  Doubts about my talents and how they may be used to serve others
  • Fear of vulnerability (this is PROOF, I’ve let that one fly! I’m sharing my journal with you!)
  • A sense of lack or scarcity
  • Pain from the past that keeps me from savoring joy in the present

Today I joyfully surrender and am open to receive life differently.

I might also include concerns for my children or other people in my life, my interpretation of how I was treated or an event that felt unjust. Basically, it’s stuff I hang on to. We all have it. It’s emotional clutter, feelings of doubt. Why drag it around like toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe? The moon will take care of it!

So, the full moon is a time to unload. It’s spring cleaning for the soul, but I do it every month! (click to Tweet)

The new moon ritual is a little different. New moons are for exploring possibilities, setting intentions and moving forward. New moons manifest new ideas, practices and habits. I don’t get too specific, that’s what my “To Do” list is for. Here’s an example of a new moon ritual:moon journal

I accept these things into my life now, for my highest good and the good of all concerned:

  • Joyful, artful living
  • Cultivating more compassion, patience and non-judgment
  • A career path that fulfills my purpose and brings joy to myself and others
  • Deep connections with my animal friends
  • Yadda, yadda, yadda. Still reading? Did you get that one?

I am open to receive these gifts or something better. With joyful gratitude ~ m

New moons set the stage for the next slice of life you want to create (click to Tweet).

Sometimes we do things because they feel good. Sometimes we do things because they work. You will be pleased to know, this practice fits both bills. Occasionally, I have to carry an action over to the next month. Sometimes I find myself revisiting these releases or manifestations. But, I have a chronicle. I can see where I’ve been, I can imagine where I want to go…and create it. Every month I see growth, change and it goes the way of my intentions.

Embrace your lunacy. It only happens 24 times per year (or so). Go ahead…

Moon Me,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity by helping them form good behaviours and eliminating poor ones. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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Open Studio? Do Some Work to Make it Work!

Voyeur and art enthusiast that I am, I’ve always enjoyed open studio tours. This past weekend, I open studio tour stahosted my first one and, of course, I wanted it to be a success. I tried to keep an open mind when planning the event and think of some creative ways to produce good results. Since I’m a business consultant and an occasional party hostess, I applied that know-how to my event. I felt it went quite well, so I’ll share some tips as well as areas I’ll focus on improving next time.

Sign up early  – Read EVERYTHING the hosting organization sends you.  Our open studio tour was curated through CCAS – Center for Contemporary Arts, Sacramento. This organization is great with branding, marketing and creating reasonable and detailed guidelines for their artists. They had over 130 artists participate in the tours over 2 consecutive weekends. Since I was a newbie, I fell into line, read the communications and followed their wise guidelines. Sir, YES, SIR!

Work with other artists in your vicinity – I realized my studio is not in a high traffic area. To put it bluntly, I’m an outlier. To make the effort worthwhile, I contacted a group of artists nearby and suggested we meet to coordinate our marketing and PR efforts. This was an important step that led to increased success for all of us. The team members all had different strengths, we leveraged those and our efforts paid off with more traffic and sales. Everyone  I worked with was incredible. I made new friends!

Write a press release – Submit it to community calendars of publications in your area and submit it to local papers. We were fortunate to have photos of our work and our artist statements published in a local paper.

Provide written materials to the public before and at your opening – CCAS provides lovely, professional guides with maps for artists to distribute. Many artists aren’t natural marketers, but passing out these guides, postcards and other professionally done materials raises community awareness. Local merchants were happy to help. Send “Save the Date” cards. Be sure to include dates, times and maps. Notice, I keep bolding the word maps. Maps. Maps. Maps.

Use social media to promote your event – Broadcast the event through social media channels. Don’t drive people crazy…but mention it early and send a few consecutive reminders as the event date approaches. It’s your event, so naturally, it’s a big deal to you…other people may be more apt to forget, so gently remind them. Also take advantage of e-mail by sending your subscriber list an early announcement and a couple reminders as the date approaches. You may also use regular mail for your personal postcards that include, you got it, maps

prepare materialsPrepare the materials you will be offering for sale – For original works, don’t wait until the event is imminent to begin creating, you don’t need the stress! Need some time management tips? If you “Join the Tribe” by signing up for updates on my sidebar, that advice is this month’s free gift! Give yourself plenty of lead time to get giclees, prints, greeting cards, business cards and other materials printed and organized. Allow plenty of time if you decide to have your work professionally photographed. Make sure product quality is good. Your reputation is on the line.

Offer multiple price points –  Don’t be disappointed if people don’t buy original work. Offer items at various price points to suit everyone’s budget. Greeting cards, totes and other items featuring images of your favourite works, giclee prints and original art in various sizes are good options. Offer something for everyone.

Be easy to buy from – Make the purchasing process seamless. For more on this check here. Make sure you have change, receipt pads and Square or Paypal processing ready to go so you can handle debit and credit cards! Keep it organized. It’s a good idea to take inventory before and after the event or use your gallery management software.

Clean your space! – Don’t open the doors and invite people in to your disarray! That is RUDE! Stage your work and make your Clean space for open studiostudio presentable. Offer a demonstration so you can teach people something new. For my opening I had a hands-on project inviting people to nip and place  mosaic tile. I teach workshops in beginning mosaics, so participants were able to determine their level of interest and join a sign up sheet!

Know who’s coming – Have a registry available and encourage visitors to sign it. It’s a good idea to find out why they stopped by. How did they hear about you? Knowing what brought you visitors helps you plan a strategy for getting even more next time.

SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE, SIGNAGE! – Have signage that clearly directs people to the studio. Start at main arteries and work your way in to your location. You want to be easy to find.

Warm it up – Provide simple, yummy refreshments and consider putting them toward the end of the trail so all your work will be viewed. Let people know they are there. Play appropriate music, greet people warmly. Be available to answer questions or tell the background story of your work. It’s a good idea to have a wingman in case you get crazy busy. This person can greet guests, answer simple questions, process sales or help get additional items you may need. My husband is my wingman and he is awesome. Sweetheart, if you’re reading, you’re awesome!

Take photographs – Chronicle the event. This was a fail-point for me. I didn’t take enough pictures of the activity, although I had photos of the work, the space and some great photos with visitors.

Express gratitude – Thank people for stopping by. Send thank you notes to your collectors after the event. Be grateful for every visitor that stopped by, whether they stayed and purchased work or not. They took THEIR time to see YOUR work. Grateful. 

Evaluate – After the event remember the steps you took. Do you feel successful? What could you have done to improve traffic, sales or the customer experience? Make notes and remember, be patient. It takes time to build a clientele. Next time is another opportunity to do it even better!

I hope my tips are helpful to you. If there’s an activity you do that produces good results, feel free to share it with us in a blog comment.

May you be creative in all endeavors!

irritation

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who nudges, nay, shoves creatives in the direction of their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessdreams by helping them improve productivity teaching them to get out of their own way.

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The Sweet Spot

Sweet spot that thing you doThere’s that thing you do. I don’t know what your “thing” is, but you know. It’s the work you are passionate about, that drives you, that makes you excited your eyes pop open in the morning. You know that thing? Maybe it’s painting or writing or coaching or golf or parenting…you get the idea. Your THING. When you’re doing your thing, there’s a sweet spot. Being in that sweet spot is why you do your thing (click to Tweet). You’re not always there, but when you are, it’s heaven. You’re on a roll.

Then there’s the rotten spot. The spot when your sweet has gone missing and you can’t find it…not even if you put an ad on the back of a milk carton. The more it creeps in, the worse it gets, the more you open the door, the more it shoves it’s big, hairy, stinky self through the opening. It gets in your head. It affects the quality of your “thing” and it’s a bugger to shake.

I wrote a blog titled, “It’s Not Always A Masterpiece.” This started a discussion about the sweet spot. So, what are you doing, what are the conditions when you’re hitting on all cylinders and enjoying the sweet spot? What can you observe that makes the planets align and the magic happen?

One of my painting groups offered a lot of insight into this question. The collective opinion of my arty friends is that children have a handle on the magic. They’re not attached to the outcome…they enjoy the process and stop when they’re done. It’s probably because children don’t have to pay for their own canvases. Children approach life with joyful abandon. They know there’s more of their “thing” where that came from. Children snack from the smorgasbord of life (click to Tweet).  Without adult criticism…er…direction, they don’t worry about achieving perfection. Kids do what feels good. Soon they’re moving on to the next interesting thing.

Think about that.

 So what pulls us out of our sweet spot? Do we try too hard? Do we overanalyze? Is it that critical voice in your head…the adult Low performancedirection? Do we work it into mud, past the point of joyfully creating and into the shameful, wet-earth of self-critical flogging? How can we stop?

 A supportive network that will offer feedback, and whose opinions you respect, is hugely helpful. Putting the work away for a period and looking at it later with a fresh eye can help. Don’t expect to always be at the pinnacle. The valleys of life lend perspective and make the view from the mountain clear and exhilarating (click to Tweet). Just relax. Be calm and just do art…oh, no…I didn’t just write that.

Another thing to keep in mind…I don’t want to be Al Bundy. I am eternally grateful I didn’t peak in high school. I hope I haven’t peaked yet. I want to keep finding holes to fill, new things to learn and opportunities to improve. I look forward to getting better as time goes on. The work I do now, when it misses the mark, well, that was just a dry run. The brilliance has yet to be seen. Keep that in mind. Considering your potential, if you were “done” what a disappointment it would be!

Getting familiar with the rotten spot doesn’t mean we’ll grow to like it. We don’t have to settle there and become compost. It’s simply an acknowledgement of its existence. It’s a compass. It helps us know when we are coursing off track so we can make adjustments to find our way back to the sweet spot.  The course correction is up to us. The corrections can be like a spiritual practice. Learning to just be. Learning to tap into that childlike wonder and not having expectations, while still maintaining standards.

If all else fails, you can always paint over it. In the words of some very accomplished artists…my best paintings are often over my worst paintings.

Live the Sweet Life,

Imperfection

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves.

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It’s Not Always a Masterpiece

https://michelleandresart.com/?p=967I paint. My husband plays golf. It’s not always a masterpiece and his round is not always par. As a matter of fact, he’s yet to shoot a sub-par round. And me…that masterpiece….well, never you mind.

I’d written another post for this week. I said, “This really sucks. I won’t publish it.” Then it occurred to me…this might just suck as well, cause it’s not always a masterpiece.

That doesn’t keep us from trying. That doesn’t thwart our practice, our passion, our optimism. It creates a bit of balance, actually.

  • The bad days make the good days more blissful. (click to Tweet)
  •  The faulty painting makes the masterpiece sweeter. (click to Tweet)
  •  The missed shots make the hole-in-one a celebratory, bankruptcy event at the 19th hole. (click to Tweet)
  •  The sucky post makes the blog post shorter…good for you, the reader.

And we keep plodding along. The gambler, the believer, the dreamer, the fool…oops, sorry. Ahem, the tenacious, the headstrong, the dedicated. We do it because we love the challenge, we love the process and sometimes, just sometimes, we love the outcome. Because, when it’s all said and done, who doesn’t value excellence?

So keep on, keepin’ on. It’s more important to keep your commitments, be true to your character and to stand in your own light than to be perfect every time… or perfect any time. Because, I for one, deeply appreciate the flaws, the imperfections, the crooked little tooth. “I love that you’re not perfect, because neither am I, and that is the field where we can meet and hold the hand of humanity.” (Click to Tweet) Not only do we forgive one another, we accept one another, we have to…because none of us are perfect.

So, there you have it. It ‘s not a masterpiece, but it’s something.

“There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

Celebrate Life In All Its Imperfection and Cherish the Rarity of the Masterpiece,

Imperfection

 

 

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who teaches creatives business behaviours that boost their Art coaching, building your art business, belongingnessproductivity and happiness…all the while honoring their unique and artsy selves. Follow her on Facebook on Twitter

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Filling the Solo Cup

working alone

(This is a repost from July of 2013. The information is still relevant today…feel free to comment or share the post with others who may benefit. ~m)

I work alone.  Mostly, I write alone. I paint alone, and that’s the way I like it. Sometimes I’m coaching others, and I really love it.  However, most of my day is spent in my own company…and I’m an extrovert. I think. I was.

I have conversations with my “Studio Dogs.”(click to Tweet). We listen to music in the studio and I sometimes dance with them. Maybe I talk to them too much. They don’t complain.

Life can get lonely for those of us who spend our days with ourselves. Nothing to break the monotony. This doesn’t mean we aren’t positively content. What it does mean is we can miss out on joyful exchanges outside ourselves. We can get stuck in our creative heads and are perfectly fine, happy, joyful there. Too much of that can’t be a good thing, me thinks. I have no proof, but just feel it in my bones.

I suggest the following to break up the day, get out of the studio, office or wherever you’re working solo. It’ll keep you healthily involved in the big world out there.

Find or Create a Tribe – A group of like-minded people (and some not so like you) to share ideas, experiences laughs with. Brainstorm with them and support one another. When I worked as an OD consultant a group of us would meet once a month for a little snack and coffee and share thoughts on a concept or idea. We built friendships and had some fun. Currently, I have a blog writing partner I meet every Wednesday morning. We keep each other honest. Artists, writers and  creatives benefit from these types of groups and partnerships.Birds on wire

Work in a Public Space – I don’t mean napping in the park here. Write in a coffee shop. Paint plein air. Photograph the world. Get out and mingle. Your life will be richer (click to Tweet).

Check out Meet Ups – I went to a great one last night. It was for speakers. We practiced our skills and shared some key business building points. Fantastic and powerful stuff! You might have to try a few before you find your perfect fit. They come small, big, loud, quiet…check them out at www.meetup.com

Take a Retreat – If something sparks your passion, spend some time away from your business and recharge at a retreat that embraces that topic.  Much more than relaxing is involved. Your network will grow, your skills will get honed, you’ll create memories and recharge. Red Solo CupTip – don’t choose a silent or solitary retreat. (Duh)

Be PresentWherever you go…BE.THERE. (click to Tweet) Go to the Grocery Store. Be present there. Post Office? Be present there. As you run your daily errands get to know people’s names, spark up light conversation. Noticing the world around you is a great way to gain creative inspiration. Not only that, being present outside your head is a healthy hiatus.

Create Meaningful Routine and Ritual – Schedule time each day to get out of the studio or office. One of the benefits to being self-employed is the flexibility it allows. Take advantage of this and make it a routine. Schedule yoga or the gym regularly. Every Thursday spend the afternoon with a friend at the museum or galleries, for example. Sometimes, if you’re in the middle of a project, it’s hard to pull yourself away, but the break keeps us fueled. Be disciplined and do it!

What do you do? How do you fill your solo cup? You have a Tribe here (see, you can join it on the sidebar). I’d love you to share your ideas of how you build balance into your days. I invite you to start the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Stay Full and Proceed to Party!

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Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach who nudges, nay, shoves, her clients in the direction of their dreams, Writer, Artist, Coachhelping them to overcome non-productive behaviours and enjoy more success in their lives. 

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Care and Feeding of the Muse – Aspirations of Inspiration

Woot!!! Dumpster loads of clean up occurred as a result of last week’s “The Urge to Purge” post. If you missed it, click on this link or find it in the archives on the website. You reported lots of offices, studios and workspaces got a much needed sprucing.

GOOD FOR YOU! 

Since that’s out of the way, let’s talk a bit about inspiration. It’s priceless, and sometimes, illusive.  Many people find inspiration in nature, music, emotionally or spiritually moving events, beliefs or from visual cues. However we get it, inspiration is like gasoline, we need it in order to work (click to Tweet).

Creative people are conduits (click to Tweet).  We look for inspiration, to create something which will, in turn, inspire others. We hope it will make them dance, think, laugh, cry or otherwise “feel.” In order to do this, we need to be inspired ourselves. Sometimes, especially as life becomes stressful and demanding, inspiration can be in short supply.

Below is a list of how some of this century’s greatest creative thinkers and doers tap into their wells of inspiration. What inspires you? I’d love to know, so feel free to share on the blog!

Inspiration graphic

Be sure to keep a sketchbook, notebook or camera on hand to capture moments or ideas that prime your creative pump. Above all, remember to focus on GRATITUDE for that which inspires you. If you find inspiration in ways not captured here…please do share. Happy creating!

BE INSPIRED!!!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the Coaching pic  - Version 3 path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥

 

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Souler Power

Is angst the wellspring of creativity?

If you Google the word “wellspring” – this is the definition you find:

Wellspring – Noun

Kristen Kemper - Illustration
Kristen Kemper – Illustration

An original and bountiful source of something: “sadness is the wellspring of creativity.”

There are studies supporting creativity is driven by depression, mental illness, angst. I respectfully disagree.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe angst and times of emotional trial can lead to the creation of some incredible work. But, is it necessary to create good work? Emphatically, NOPE.

I’m drawing from the experience of my fully lived years. I’ve been highly creative my entire life. In my youthier youth I discovered excess negative emotions could drive my creative process. Tapping into the pain provided a jumping off place to create stories, poems and my life.  I not only felt things fully, but overy fully.

I’m thinking that typo may be a Freudian slip.

Ovaries may have had something to do with it. At such a young age, it’s often difficult to ascertain whether you’re experiencing baseline, valid emotions or are having a hormonal surge. Oh, come on….you know you’ve been there! Don’t judge!!! Anyway, I learned to rely on this state of mind to drive my creative process.

Then, in the dark hole of desperation, I gave up writing and poetry. For the next decade or so (please don’t do the math), I only produced the occasional poem because I was afraid. Afraid angst would be required to fuel the creative process. Mostly, I grew tired of being mired in drama, in lack, in introspective misery. I JUST WANTED TO BE HAPPY! Happy was the other, sunnier side of life. Happy was the unknown. I wanted to get me some of that Happy.

Woman with umbrella happy picAnd so….I became Happy. I was Happy. Still am. All you really need to do is want it, you know? It’s a choice, you simply DECIDE TO BE HAPPY (at this point I know you want to slap me). Regardless of what you think about this blog so far, that alone was worth the (perhaps) miserable price of admission. And, if the read IS miserable, use it to fuel your creative prowess. BAM – 2 for one… you  are  welcome!

Anyhou, I digress. Through the years, it’s become apparent to me that Happy can generate a ton of colourful, joyful, creative fodder. After the drama subsides we learn to look deeply at life with a set of more appreciative eyes. We’ve seen the good, we’ve seen the bad. With experience, we see life for more of what it is, than what we expect it to be (click to Tweet). We become friends with the hills and vales and learn to relish the landscape. We experience it. Observe it. Soak it in. This is the place from which joyful creation rises. This is also the place of honoring the journeys of others, deep forgiveness and non-judgment. I will not add wisdom, because that would be unwise. It’s where we see the beauty in the small, normal things…even, perhaps especially, imperfect things.

Most younger adults experience a lot of drama. It’s natural. They take every little thing to heart. The topic of knowing what is important to manage in life and what we can let go is addressed here in The Quicksand of Introspection. That discretion of knowing the difference comes from having trekked the landscape a time or two….and trekking takes time. 

If you’ve cultivated the habit of using negative, sad or agitated emotions to craft your creative forces, remember what Abraham Maslow said:

“To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

You’re more creative than THAT!  You have other tools and YOU CAN CONTROL THE WEATHER! Be truly creative – seed the clouds for sunshine. You have it in you! Tell angst it’s time for a change of seasons. You can get plenty of fuel from the sunnier side of life. Souler Power. Appreciate the beauty, the goodness, and find joy in life. Then go, bring in the light, and create some audacious work.

Forecast is for mostly sunny with only an occasional cloud,

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to Coaching pic  - Version 3their joyful hearts.♥

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Creating a Whole

I remember as a child, shutting life away and creating stories and poetry. I’d spend hours upon hours in my bedroom…writing.canopy-toddler-bed What a delight to be in my perfect world, enjoying myself, creating (click to Tweet). There was a constant narrative running in my head. As I observed life, I would dialogue what I saw mentally in “story form.” It was a sweet and innocent time.

I grew up in a creative household. My mother would paint, sew and decorate cakes. One year she and her friend made hundreds of sugar peek-eggs and sold them for Easter. They made enough money to appoint my writing room (my bedroom) with beautiful furniture. I would sit on the canopy bed and write stories and poetry.

As I grew I was encouraged by my parents and teachers to cultivate my passion. I enrolled in college and majored in journalism.

ENTER THE BOY

I worked at the local paper writing feature articles. It was an exciting time, exploring new fronts, always with a photographer in tow.  I was consumed. Then, it dawned on me. I had a boyfriend and things were getting serious. If I kept indulging myself this way, I would probably never marry and have a family.  I was living my life with such zest it left little room for another. I “unselfishly” decided to put the kibosh on this writing. It obviously would get in the way of my life.

…DONE…

Workers fightFor the next 25 years my creativity was expressed in minimal and “socially acceptable” (at least in my mind) ways. I’d find business solutions, coach clients to problem solve, create budgets and write kick-ass business letters.  Painting and poems were for soft, self-indulgent types.

ANGER

So naturally, I was pissed off at the soft, self-indulgents; the selfish artists, writers and people who lived with such abandon and joy.  I made judgments about them and did not take them seriously. Couldn’t they see there was REAL work to be done? Come on, people, pull your weight! The rest of us are making sacrifices…you’re entirely too preoccupied with pleasing yourselves! (Click to Tweet).

REALIZATION

CIMG412325 years after I severed a crucial part of my soul through denying my passion, the boy was gone. All that remained was the resentment for artists and an emptiness of purpose. I found relief by breaking things and putting them together – creating beauty from ruin. Some call this mosaic art. I fell in love with the process, the medium, the result. This progressed and one day someone referred to me as an “artist.” At first, it was an uncomfortable feeling. Was I really one of those self-pleasing, self-indulgent types…not suffering enough to make a real contribution to society? It didn’t matter. I realized I had this one life to live and the urge, the need to create, trumped any name calling. Besides, art IS a real contribution to society. It binds cultures, creates beauty and brings JOY to the lives of those who partake (Click to Tweet). I began to paint, to write, to play. The fountain of creativity poured forth, having been “damned” for years…and it spilled into all areas of my life, showing itself though joyful living and a deep appreciation for beauty in nature, in life, in people. I was whole again.  The anger, the resentment fell away.

Recently, I watched Oprah interview Brene Brown, a researcher of shame and vulnerability. Brown said one key to living wholeheartedly was to cultivate creativity. How many of us amputate our creative selves to make those “meaningful contributions to society” and are fueled by discomfort, sweat and resentment?  How many of us deny our natural purpose – to create – and settle on becoming  “acceptable?” Brene Brown says:

“Unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief, rage, sorrow.”

She says creativity gets shamed out of us. Do we do that to our children? I did it to myself and was so bitter I could have shamed it out of my children…fortunately, I didn’t. One of Brown’s main points:

“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.” (Click to Tweet)

These days I work with creative types, mostly women, but some men, too. I love leading and teaching mosaic workshops where people can get away from their day to day demands and tap into that creative purpose we all have. It is healthy, it is necessary and it makes us whole again.

Live Authentically!  Live Joyfully!

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For more of Brene Brown I recommend “The Gifts of Imperfection” Let go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driven to Distraction – 6 Strategies for Creatives to Get More Done

Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting
Tick Tock Your Life is Waiting

 

I could move mountains if it weren’t for “distractions.” (Click to Tweet) I mean, really, the shiny things get in the way, catch my eye and I’m gone.

It’s become more challenging since I’ve become a corporate refugee, because now I’m doing creative work and am accountable to only myself. We are all creative beings, no doubt, but once you give yourself permission to be fully creative, you lose some of the ability to focus on getting stuff done. I think this is partially due to the fact that creativity is fostered by exploration and play. (Click to Tweet)  The three go hand in hand in hand.

I’m sure the “shiny thing” gets you, too. And it snowballs. One distraction can lead to another and soon the sun is setting and you haven’t done anything even remotely productive. Urghh!

What to do?

It’s all about – ahem – time management. And self discipline. Ick. Doesn’t that sentence just make your hair stand on end? Feeling resistance yet? Think of it this way:

Time is your asset. It’s the key to the kingdom. (Click to Tweet)

You aren’t going to get more of it, so have the self-discipline to jealously guard the 24 hours you’ve got. Identify what gets in your way – and take steps to secure it. Here are some easy strategies:

Your “To Do List” is your GPS – Creating a “To Do” list may sound cliché, but it keeps you on course, guides you and tells you cheerfully, “You have arrived!” Use a list!

Control TV, Email and Social Media – Set designated times to check and respond to email and social media. For most of us, three times a day will work. Morning, noon, afternoon. Having your mobile device firmly tucked into your hip pocket and responding to its every chime? That chime – that’s the sound of your time being sucked into a big hole!

Schedule your Day – Schedule your day…but not ALL of it. Scheduling 60% of your day is realistic, because it allows room for life to happen and keeps you from turning into a shrew. Schedule the stuff you must do, and the stuff you want to do.  Workout time – schedule it! Creative prep – schedule it! Even schedule recreational time. Remember to schedule some time at the end of the day to prepare for the following day. You can create some balance in your life and still move the mountain if you schedule it!

Create systems – Take time to organize in a way YOU can understand. If you can’t find it, you spend time looking for it, so take time to put it in its place in the first place. Besides, just admit it, if you’re looking though stuff to find other stuff you get DISTRACTED with the new stuff you find. (yeah, I wrote that all by myself).

Get a Handle on Procrastination – We all do it. If you really want to, you can get a handle on it. It’s not rocket science…if it were I would procrastinate for sure. Find the root of the procrastination and ferret out the resources, gumption or whatever you need to move through it…one step at a time.

Make Yourself Accountable to Someone Else – Research shows if you write down your goals you’re more likely to achieve them. If you write them down, tell someone you respect about them and make a commitment to report back to that person, your success rate jumps to 95%!

I offer a free gift to those who sign up on my mailing list. This published article is a “How To” for overcoming procrastination. Just “Join the Tribe” at the left and I’ll send it to you, FREE. Tell your friends to sign up, too….don’t procrastinate!

I once heard a wise woman say, “If you’re not using your time to deliver your own package, others will use your time to deliver theirs.”(Click to Tweet)  At first this self discipline may look like shackles to you. This is not bondage. Manage your time well and you will get to spend more time doing what you love to do…perhaps even move a mountain or two.

Git ‘er Done!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leadsCoaching pic  - Version 3 straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Is Darth Vader My Totem Animal? (and Other Questions from the Galaxy)

(This post was originally published last August. Today, in the studio, I was working on another piece…same topic…Vader. I had a repeat of this incident. I wasn’t resistant to doing this piece, not at all. However, I had the same visceral reaction. I guess sometimes the Universe really wants your attention. Still…I. Have. No. Idea. What. This. MEANS. Maybe Darth Vader is my totem animal).

What makes you happy at work? Lately, I’ve taken ownership of finding ways to pump up the the happiness factor at work for others. I’ve been excising little actions and shifts in thinking that can make being at work not only more bearable, but actually exhilarating and FUN!!! No one wants to be miserable all day and studies show many with jobs, in this tough economy, aren’t grateful for them…they’re stressed!

Well, the power of intention, living in alignment with your intentions and practicing authenticity came home to roost last week. As you may know – in addition to helping individuals and teams reach their full potential, I’m also an artist. So, this is the story of how I caught myself, completely unaware, doing the very thing that squelches happiness and joy from work. This is the story of a monsoon of realization, cleansing and awareness that jerked me from my obligatory place, back into joy and fulfillment. You might find yourself doing the same thing at work. I think there’s a cure.

I was in my mosaic studio working on a commissioned piece…a subject matter I’d never choose to do on my own – Darth Vader. I hadn’t taken “ownership” of this piece, not really. I couldn’t relate to it. Now, I strongly believe that my artwork should be created with joy. Art is something I do to connect with my joyful, authentic self. Did I mention I’m not a Jedi Master? Yep – I was going through the motions, get ‘er done, cut, stick – DEADLINE. All of that is fine, but I was missing an essential ingredient that made my art, MY ART. I was missing the abandon, the connection with self. I was missing the permission of the essential “meism” that is allowed to flow when I’m in the creating process. The piece was fine, but the magic was just not happening.

Of course, I wasn’t aware of the missing piece – pardon the pun – until some music played that sent an arrow right into the authentic core of my soul. I – the essential “I” – was not invested in this work. There was no reason for me NOT to be, but I wasn’t, and I was not privy to this detail.

The waterworks began. Why do I not love you, Darth? Why can’t I need see it’s not the “thing” but the journey that brings the joy, that creates the happiness? My dogs, who were sleeping out of shot of flying glass, quickly came to check on me. Weeping, bleeding (because you bleed when you do glass mosaic, or you’re not having fun) and open to the world. Dogs know such things about openness. They assured me I was back on the true path.

My Teacher - Darth Vader
My Teacher – Darth Vader

Darth, I do love you! Thank you for the opportunity to create, to open my joyful self, to be with you. Isn’t that how life is? Sometimes the best thing for you is not what you would consciously choose? The shift came upon me, I yearned to do my best, to make it beautiful, to please my client, to bring it all!

The difference was I was showing up. The real me. The me who wants to change the world through bringing happiness to workplaces, the wounded me who understands how hurtful toxic workplaces can be…I peeled away the layers, I opened to myself, there I was with Darth, and I was there…all of me.

How often does that happen at work? How dangerous would it be to show up, connect with your core, bring who you are and let it shine? How can you do that regardless of the “subject?” It’s a tough calling to be painfully honest with yourself. Once you begin to do it, you find it’s miles deep, vast, wide. It’s a rich field of possibilities…and JOY!

May the Force be with You

Be Brave and Be Happy!

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Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; Coaching pic  - Version 3the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her onFacebook

Dreaming in Colour

            My best dreams are in colour. Painting blog pic
They last all night and segue from one luscious hue to the next…blending…running…shining through my mind. Texture is sometimes involved, but not always.

Last night, my sweet art teacher showed her face over and over in my slumber. I’m not stalking her, not really. Her work is just so beautiful…and it moves me. I’m AWESTRUCK. And in my sleep, my normally struggling creations are just like her beautiful, effortless ones.

Before I drifted off, I was looking at her work and set the tone for my blissful night. Colour, form, design. An incredible palette of paint running into itself. Her words, “Don’t just push the paint around…think.” In my dreams the colours never turn to mud. In my dreams it’s all beautiful, joyful and incredibly fulfilling.

By PatLambrecht-Hould
By Pat
Lambrecht-Hould

I used to have similar “all nighters” at a job I worked in the corporate world. I’d prepare in my sleep. Check and double check lists. Make sure all the documents were accessible. It seemed I was always perched on the precipice of panic.

I. Like. Art. Dreams. Much. Better.

What are you rehearsing? What are you poised to create? How are you practicing when you’re awake? Whatever your dreams, I hope they’re in colour, I hope they’re joyful and I hope they soon come true.

Sweet Dreams….

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A special thank you to Pat Lambrecht-Hould for graciously giving permission to use her artwork in this post! – Thanks, Pat!!!

Coaching pic  - Version 3Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her onFacebook

My Johnny Depp Sweater

ChagallI have a special sweater. It’s bulky, and fuzzy and keeps me warm on those really cold winter days. I marinate in this sweater. You might have something similar in your closet.

Back in the winter of 2005 I was starting my fledgling coaching practice. In anticipation of my great success, I took special, painstaking measures of creating a space I could work, innovate, grow and help the countless millions who would be knocking down my door for my services. Yes, I did that.

I painted the walls of my office yellow and hung lovely Chagall prints. They were magical. It was magical. Then…not so much. I worked, and worked and nothing much happened. At least, it didn’t measure up to my expectations. Go figure.Fuzzy Brown Sweater

All the while I donned my special sweater. Full of hope and vigor I spent hours upon hours forcing my “success.” Marketing, creating, forcing. My sweater got itchy, like a thick, decaying skin. Matted…stifling…Depplike. Yup. Remember that robe that Johnny wore in “The Secret Window?” Johnny wore the robe while he was losing his marbles. That robe was like my sweater’s brother. I got a little depressed, a little crazy, but unlike Turturro, I didn’t bury anyone in the backyard. I. Swear. I. Did. Not. All the same, the sweater became less than helpful.

johnny deppWhy am I telling you this? I’m not sure, but breathe easy because I still don’t have a shovel in my hand. I’m wearing my Johnny Depp sweater as I write this. I’m happy, and thriving and full of joy. Times have changed and so have I…the sweater? Its still pretty much the same.

What’s in your closet?

                                                                       Michelle

Sans Sweater
Sans Sweater

Michelle Andres is a coach, writer and artist who champions others to follow the path less traveled; the path that leads straight to their joyful hearts.♥ Find her on Facebook 

The Art of Gratitude

Well, then. It’s November – my self designated “Month of Gratitude.” Most of us wait until that Thursday late in November to give thanks for our blessings and life’s sweet gifts. Last year, I began a personal tradition of finding one thing to be grateful for each day and posting it on my Facebook page. I invited my friends to share their thoughts and blessings as well.

It started innocently enough. What resulted was the cultivation of a new mindset. Each day I searched for the one precious item I could post. Was that the gift I would share? No! Wait! THAT is the blessing I should post. But, there was always more. I could only share one blessing per day, and no stone in my life was left unturned as I counted my blessings, large and small and savored their sweetness. By Thanksgiving, I was totally blissed out!

Truly, you don’t realize the magic, the goodness, the grace, until you begin to focus on it. Last November I “rewired” my thinking and had a fabulous month. So, I would like to invite you to play with me this month. “Stuff grows where intention flows” so hook into my Facebook page and share what you are thankful for each day. Cultivate the magic…it’s an art.

With Gratitude,

                                           ~ Michelle

While I Was Busy Being Someone Else

Strange thing happened the other day…

I was called to recount my past life in detail. My corporate life. When this happened, I began to behave like the person I was back then. I got edgy, sharply strategic, unsettled.

I am not a corporate type. It’s not that I’m not smart enough, aware enough, creative enough…I can do those things. It’s my soul. My soul does not agree with the treatment I witnessed as an internal corporate employee. I’m an artist at heart. A writer, a coach and communicator. I appreciate pure intention, honesty, flaws. The human aspect, with all its imperfections makes me joyful.

Live Outside the Box

Do you remember who you really are? As a child you probably knew. You may still know. The point is, some of us lose ourselves while we’re busy being someone else. We become someone other people would approve of, someone manageable, someone neat, tidy and easy to understand. As you put yourself in that box, the real you may seep into the corners, away from your grasp. That’s NOT GOOD!

I pruned and trimmed my essential self to fit into the box of “acceptable.” Over the last year, I’ve been gathering the pieces and putting them together. This is work I’ve done with clients for years. I help people find themselves, create bullet proof game plans and execute those plans – showcasing their talents and brilliance. It is very rewarding work, because it honors the client’s authentic self as well as my own.

I’ve learned this….

Being someone else does the world no justice. It robs others of your true talents and robs you of a fully lived life. All the notions, all the stories around why you should be who you put in the box can be very convincing…and sometimes we need to really work at dismantling the stories. It can take boatloads of courage to get up, shake off the dust, gather up your pieces and bring it to the world! It’s the way it was supposed to be!

Shine your Light!

Michelle

Michelle Andres is a writer, artist and coach. She can be reached found at www.facebook.com/michelleandresconsulting  – for coaching or www.facebook.com/michellesoileauandres  – for art

Life Imitates Art

Welcome to my blog – Life Imitates Art.

Oscar Wilde wrote in his essay The Decay of Lying:

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

It’s an interesting perspective and a stimulating argument.

I find parallels in life, work, art and human nature. It has always interested me. I often find it hilarious, peculiar or amusing. We can share some thoughts on that here. Here is a space we can discuss art stuff, girl stuff, fun stuff and hard stuff.

Please join me by signing up to follow my blog at at the button in the black part at the bottom of the page. I promise not to share your name or drive you crazy with excessive posts…I try to only share when there’s something to say (but to be honest, I often have something to say!).

So join the list and let’s create a community where we can share, be authentic, appreciate beauty and honor our own creativity.

BE INSPIRED!!!

~Michelle