At the end of April, my time in Iraq was up. I came home and readjusted to the Real World. Janis and I gave ourselves a vacation to Florida. The highlight (for me) was the 165-mph ride around the Daytona Speedway in a modified stock car. What a hoot! My adrenaline still gets going when I remember that. Then it was time to go back home and get into a normal routine, which meant going back to work in the studio. Oddly, I have found it harder to go from being a project manager to being an artist than it was to go from artist to project manager. Maybe my years as a Naval officer made the project-management side into second nature, but getting the creative mindset working has been difficult. It seems to be working again, now, but it took about six months to get the thought process going again. In July and August, I made a Star Wars-themed mural for a young boy's bedroom in Annapolis. My next project was to make five new series of hand-colored drypoint prints. They were on exhibit at the Bella Vista Gallery in Asheville during November and December.
Also in November was the River Arts District Studio Stroll. After talking with a lot of artists, it appears that the number of visitors to the Stroll was way up, but the sales (both volume and amounts) were way down. Artists are the economic "canary in a coal mine", and these canaries are still on life support. Our economy has a long way to go before this recession is over. Later in November, Janis and I went to Baltimore to visit my aunt and cousin for Thanksgiving. It was great to see them again.
Janis has started a pet-sitting business (Mars Hill Pet Sitting). She had some clients who live in a log house on top of a ridge - a beautiful house in a beautiful location, with two sweet older dogs. What could go wrong? Well, the Great Christmas Blizzard of 2010, that's what! The driveway to the house is about a quarter-mile long, very steep, and made of dirt and gravel. No way could our car get close to the house in 10" of snow. Actually, with all the snow and ice on the roads, our car couldn't even get out of the driveway. So I wound up staying at the client's house for three nights to make sure the dogs were taken care of. (And this is Janis's business?)
Looking ahead to 2011, I see several things coming down the pike:
- One or both of us will get a job. We've been drawing down on our savings from my stint in Iraq and that can't go on forever. I'm looking for something part-time so I can continue to work in the studio. J's working to get the pet-sitting business to take off.
- I'm going to exhibit some of my paintings around the region. Several opportunities are in the works, but to keep from jinxing them, I won't say any more at this point.
- This year, I'm going to work hard on getting the quality of my paintings to a new level. That learning process is always ongoing, but right now I'm putting a lot of emphasis on it.
- This year, I'll revamp/reinvigorate/refocus my marketing efforts. Paintings like mine have a very special audience. Simply putting them in galleries doesn't put them in front of the right people.
Sounds like a fairly simple list of things to do this year, no? No. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, that there's too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Creating decent paintings takes a lot of time. Creating murals takes a lot of time. Creating a marketing plan takes a lot of time. Researching potential commissions takes a lot of time. Networking and advertising takes a lot of time. You get the idea. With all the things that need to be done, it's like I'm trying to fill up the Grand Canyon by chucking pebbles over the edge.
So now it's time to get back to work. Goodbye, 2010. Let's hope 2011 is a better year!