Recently I was contacted by a couple of artists who are going through tough times with poor sales. My sales have gradually improved over the last ten years.
I keep inventing new ideas to market my work. Up until 2009, I didn’t have to work very hard to sell paintings. I got lazy about marketing because I like painting better than marketing, but now I realize how shortsighted that was.
I thought yesterday about how free life was before 2009. I thought nothing of eating in good restaurants, traveling up to 150 miles to find a nice painting spot,and lots of gizmo’s for my studio. I think those wasteful days are over for the foreseeable future. I would lie if I told you I don’t miss them. I do. I have brought living frugally to a new level over the last couple of years.
I have no magic answers for any of us who are living through tough times. How have I survived?
I am a realist, not a whistler in the dark. Whatever it takes to sell enough small paintings to survive, I will do. I run monthly specials from my web site to make miniatures and small works affordable. I send my clients little paintings as gifts. I count on my friends to help spread the word about my work. I love them and appreciate them and they feel the same way about me. They send me short testimonials for my web site and share my work with friends.
I cut back on purchasing and supplies, buying only what I must have to keep producing.I don’t buy clothes or shoes anymore. I am retro chic, shabby chic. (ok, I look like a homeless person most of the time). My only luxury is reading and travel now and then. We all need something to make us feel good in tough times.
I do all my marketing on free sites now, having given up on payed advertising. I use Twitter, FB, etc. I have cut back on all advertising except direct mail post cards, my html newsletter, and in occasional programs for local events. . Those are real value and worth the money. I keep my web site fresh and updated constantly.
I have given up all of my paid associations with art groups and will not renew any of them. They made no difference in my marketing success and were only a vanity for belonging to a group. That alone has saved me a couple of hundred dollars a year.
I have changed my donation to charity policy and now support only four each year. I will gladly sell paintings wholesale to any charity for resale. This was one of the best ideas I ever borrowed, from my friend Kathy Swift (superwoman).
I have learned to depend on my own studio for a venue, rather than galleries. My studio parties are more successful. I’ve added fun tea parties and hiking on my trail to fun activities at my studio.
I try to be open to new ideas all the time and try them out. So what if they don’t work?
Mostly, my faith sustains me. My stubbornness sustains me. My strong will to make it sustains me. Failure is simply not an option. Self confidence is essential, but not stupid self confidence. Pollyanna is not going to survive in this economy. I have given up the luxury of ego and position. I just want to paint the rest of my life. I believe that is what I am supposed to do and I pray that enough friends will help me to do that.
I pray for every artist who is struggling out there. I know you can make it. You just have to work hard, try everything and never give up. Let’s all do our part to continue to help each other.
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 oz fresh presliced baby portabellas
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup Marsala wine (or chicken stock)
1/2 cup no-salt-added chicken stock (or broth)
2 tablespoons balsamic glazeCut onion into slices, then cut rings in half (1/2 cup). Lay chicken flat; slice horizontally through center of chicken, then cut in half if needed to make 4 cutlets. Place flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in shallow dish (or zip-top bag). Dip chicken in flour (coating both sides); shake off any excess flour (wash hands).
Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Place 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter in pan to melt, then add chicken; cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove chicken from pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Place remaining 1 tablespoon each oil and butter in same pan, then stir in mushrooms, onions, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook 6–7 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mushrooms and onions have softened. Chop parsley.
Stir into pan: wine, stock, and glaze. Return chicken to pan; simmer 3–4 minutes or until sauce thickens and chicken is 165°F. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve sauce over chicken.