I had a good and busy weekend. It feels really good to be back to work and return to something that resembles 'normal'. Between the past several weeks of one thing or another, I haven't really felt like I was in a good 'production mode' for a while. But that is fine, as we all need a break from our regular routine once in a while. Usually I go pretty much non-stop and even when I take time 'off' I am doing something work related. Slowing down a bit for the past month allowed me to regroup, re-organize and think about what I want to do in the upcoming year and beyond. In writing that sentence, I realize that doing those thing in themselves could be view as 'work' by many. Perhaps it is. But laying a solid foundation of goals and doing some basic organizing – be it physical organizing or even just 'thoughts' – can make for some wonderful strides in many aspects of our lives. It is all good.
Keith has been working hard as well. He had a rush of orders for his Custom Word Art Patterns (SLDKC01) as many people wanted quick, last minute gifts for the holidays. In between that, he was drawing new patterns up and also he worked on our new catalog that we will be releasing later on this week. I must say that it is quite humbling to see all of our work in one publication. The catalog has grown to 36 pages now and it is packed full of all of our creations from the past five years or so. I know everything is also on the website, but being able to hold a booklet of our accomplishments in one's hand is a bit different. I look back on all of those projects and I am rather proud of both of us. We have come a long way and I am excited about the direction we are heading. I never stop thinking how fortunate we are and how it is because of all of YOU that we have found our little bit of success. I am always grateful and I know Keith is as well.
We are planning a site update by the end of the week. The new catalog will be available by then as well as my new painted mask patterns. I am in the process of re-painting them and creating the painting pattern packet. I finished the pink set yesterday and hope to finish the reds today.
I know sometimes people don't understand why I feel the need to do them twice. but I assure you there is logic behind the process. The first time I paint things, I am kind of 'winging it'. I have a vision in my head and I do my best to make things reality. This process isn't always as easy as it may appear to be. Things don't always look good the first time out. I will admit that more than once I needed to take a sander to a mask or two (I will never tell you which ones!) and start over. What you all see in the end is the final product. That's how it should be.
The second time around, I not only refine my process, but I take step-by-step photos for instructions. After making the project once, I now have a clearer idea of what I want the final pieces to look like. Sometimes I do change things a bit for the better and alter the original colors. It is what I call 'fine tuning' things.
Here is a photo of the two sets of masks:
While they may look the same, there are subtle differences which make the second set much better I think. The most profound difference that I can show as an example is this piece:
This mask was intended to have a subtle 'tone on tone' effect. On the first mask however, because of the opalescent paint that covered it, the design barely showed up in regular light and the white pearl dots were nearly completely lost. I changed the secondary pink that I used to make it just a shade darker and while it still has a subtle effect (much more subtle than the photo shows – I dialed up the contrast for you to be able to see the lines) now you can actually SEE what is going on with it. I think it is a big improvement.
There are lots of small issues like that which I think make the project better overall. This is just part of my own personal design process. I want things to be the best they can and this is the way I can achieve that.
I also take several step-by-step photos the second time around. On the first painting, things go back and forth too much to put them into logical teaching order. The second go is much more organized and I am able to really get a good feel as to the order to do things, as well as adjustments in color as mentioned above.
I use my "Studio in a Box" that I recently purchased from Amazon for just around $100. (Here is the link to it: Studio in a Box) I think it is one of the best investments I have made for my business.
The 24" cubed soft box folds quickly to the size of a LP album (for those of us old enough to remember!) It comes with four backdrops in white, black, red and blue. For my masks, I used a piece of 105 Bright White paper for pure white background.
The two lights are amazing and burn very cool.
They are pure white and because of that, there is very little adjustment necessary in Photoshop to get true colors, which for painting patterns is extremely important. I can set things up and break them down in a matter of minutes and when not using this, things are neatly tucked away in our closet. I should have got this long ago.
Mine was shipped from within Canada, but I am sure that there are similar items such as this available in the United States as well. For someone like me who doesn't know a LOT about photography, it is a wonderful addition. After all – without good photos, it is difficult to sell painted items and patterns. But that would apply for woodworks as well. Many times I see beautifully cut pieces that are very poorly photographed. Not only does it take away from the professionalism of the seller, but it does little to make one stop and look at the work or make it stand out on sites such as Etsy or Google. That is something that should be considered by all of you who sell your work OR your patterns. Good photographs make a difference and you don't have to break the bank to achieve that. My new camera and the lighting setup shown here cost me under $500 in total and I think the photos are vastly improved with far less adjustments needed in Photoshop.
I think it is a good investment for anyone in the business of selling either patterns or finished project – be it wood or painting.
I hope to finish up the red group of masks today and then write the patterns up tomorrow. I have had a lot of inquiries regarding the patterns and kits and I want to get them done as soon as possible. It just takes a bit of time to do it right.
One last thing I want to mention is that Lee Valley Tools has its final day of Free Shipping today. They have great quality supplies and small tools and I usually take advantage when they ship for free. I just thought you would want to know.
I hope you have great day this first Monday of the new year. I look forward to a wonderful 2015 and I am excited about all that will come.
Happy Monday to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"