There are many different avenues that one can take and still be on a creative path. While having choices is good, there are times when there are almost too many things to choose from and only so many hours in the day. While most of us are familiar with the phrase ‘spreading ourselves too thin’, there are times when things are not as defined as we would like them to be as far as which path to follow and it is hard not to want to do everything at once. I often feel that this is the case.
Most people know that I also love to paint. While I realize that painting and woodworking are two different forms of creativity, I also believe that there are many ways that they overlap. When I first started out in my own business, I remember thinking that my goal was to ‘see the scrollers learn to paint and the painters learn to do scroll sawing and woodworking. I spent a lot of time trying to convince these groups to expand into other forms of creativity, but as I look back at it now, I can see several reasons that I was not as successful in accomplishing my goal as I would have liked to be.
First off, most scrollers and woodworkers have no desire to paint. Like many here on the lumberjocks forum, most of those who work in wood do so because of its natural beauty. Putting paint on wood (especially hard woods or exotics) is near sacrilege and they won’t hear of it. Besides, most of them don’t like the tedium of painting and painting walls with a roller is punishment enough, let alone painting something with a brush that has three hairs in it. It just isn’t something that look at as being ‘fun.’
Painters, on the other hand, have their own criteria. They enjoy not only the creative aspect of painting, but also the social part too. Many times painters will gather in groups and visit as they create – chatting and sharing a good snack perhaps and talking about things that are happening in their every day life. While they appreciate a good painting surface made of wood, most of them have little or no desire to make the surfaces themselves. They don’t enjoy working with noisy, dusty tools and would far prefer to have the surfaces as close to being ready to paint as possible. Woodworking is just a place where they don’t want to spend their time.
I realize that these are generalizations, and there are exceptions in both areas. Look at me. I believe that I am a good example of that. Not only do I enjoy the process of painting, but also the process of creating the item to paint on. I find both processes equally fun and thoroughly enjoy doing both of them. But I am, as I said, the exception.
After over fifteen years of doing what I do and working in a creative industry, I am finally learning how to channel my love of both painting and woodworking so that I am able to continue to do both and have both aspects be an asset to my business. I no longer try to force the issue on either side, and I have learned to accept the two groups as they are, yet offer alternatives for those who feel a bit more adventurous and want to expand their creativity to the other venue. While this may require a little more work on my part, I am beginning to see positive results and I find that by simply having the alternatives available to my customers, the ones who want to try new things will try, and venture out to perhaps discover another side of themselves that they didn’t know existed.
I had recently spoken of a company that I had submitted several painting designs to for consideration. The Artist's Club has been around since I began painting, and I have been a customer for many years. They were always a pleasure to order from and their customer service is excellent, as well as their prices on books, patterns and supplies. Last year when I was looking for a place for marketing my little skating pond, I contacted them to see if they would be interested in offering it as a kit, as they had many kits as products available on their site. I was very please that they were interested and long story short, it did quite well with them. It also gave me a chance to do a little production woodworking on the side, which was fun for me too.
Everything about this company was positive. The communication, the presentation of my project, and even the timely way that I got paid. After working with so many companies that I had to spend time chasing, negotiating and babysitting, it was a wonderful feeling to be able to do what I liked doing (designing) and leaving the rest to someone else, knowing that I wasn’t going to be taken advantage of. The pond had a good run, and I was pleased not only at the exposure it got, but also that it brought me a bit of recognition in another venue.
While I still consider scroll sawing and designing woodworking patterns my main job description, in this type of economy I feel that the best way to survive is by diversifying. The painting industry, like the scroll saw industry is going through some hard times of its own and I think that by me not depending solely on one or the other for sustenance is a good decision. It is at times like this when I appreciate having a partner most, as sharing the load with someone else helps to ensure that everything will still be run smoothly. Keith is also working on selling his pens as a ‘side business’, so neither of us has to rely only on the income generated from selling scroll saw patterns. While that would be nice, there just aren’t enough scrollers in the world, and with all of the free patterns available on the internet (as well as people who share patterns with their friends, clubs and groups) we both realize that there just might not be enough customers out there to keep us going. So we find it necessary to do other things.
The reason I am speaking of all of this is because yesterday I heard back from the Artist’s Club and they decided to go with three of the designs that I submitted to them. (Yay!) I am very happy about this because not only will it further my exposure to the painting world, but it will also allow me to keep doing the woodworking and scroll sawing that I love so much. The three patterns they picked up are as follows:
The “Hats Off to Witches!” hat ornaments:
The “Kickin’ Up Our Heels!” boot ornaments:
And my newest ornament pattern, “Prim Pumpkin Ornaments”
As you can imagine, I was really thrilled with hearing that they are going to take all three of these patterns. While the main emphasis of the patterns is on painting and a full set of pieces will be provided with the kit, I am also providing full instructions for cutting these simple shapes, so that if one wants to make additional pieces on their own, or perhaps make them in different sizes or thicknesses, the information is there for them to learn.
The way I look at it, it is a win/win/win for everyone involved. Artist’s Club provides a good pattern, I gain more exposure and perhaps some new customers, and the customer gets a quality kit, as well as perhaps the inspiration to expand into other creative outlets. Everyone should be happy.
I suppose that the teacher inside of me is the most excited of all. These patterns are about 15 pages long each (give or take) not because they are that difficult, but because I want to provide the fullest and simplest instructions that I possibly can so that even someone who is very new to this type of craft can understand the process and be successful in making the project. That way we will all grow and benefit from it.
I truly love what I do. The thought of teaching others through my work and hopefully doing my part to keep both the woodworking and the painting industry healthy and fun is as they say “priceless.” What more could I ask for as a teacher and someone who loves creating?
I hope you all have a wonderfully creative day! Share your passion and keep it alive!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"