Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Walk Through My Thoughts

For the better part of a year I have realized that we have been "missing the boat" when it comes to seizing the whole "social media marketing" craze.  Only as recently as November of this past year did I really realize how the market was passing us by and we were in no way, shape, or form ready to grab ahold without getting drug through some mud while we were trying to catch up.  For those of you who have been business owners for the past 30 to 35 years and think you can do things just like back in the good old days, I have news for you.  It ain't going to happen.

I have been using the excuse that I am an artist and my artist brain just does not think that way.  Well, I realized my artist brain just needs a huge portion of "technical bootcamp" if we hope to let people know just what a beautiful part of the country we live in and what an amazing home we are willing to share with the people who pass through our doors. 

North Idaho has got to be one of the places that you can truly say is a little piece of heaven.  Yes, we have had our share of rain these past few months but how do you think the magnificent shades of green are captured on our hillsides?  Just taking the time to appreciate the river as it flows swiftly downstream headed for the Coeur d'Alene Lake is enough to say "Thank you God for allowing me to live here".  The snow pack always allows a grand show this time of year as it melts away and the level of the river rises higher and higher. 

See what I meant by "a walk through my thoughts" as my thoughts can start wandering here and there.  Back to my social media predicament...I met a wonderful gal who has been walking me through this jungle of social media.  Everything from facebook to blogs, from Aweber to Dropbox, new websites needing to be built, SEO and Google Analytics.  For those of you who learned to play on a computer at age 3, this most likely sounds silly but for those of us who just want a phone that rings so you can say "hello" or a TV that just has 4 channels so you don't have to ask your 5 year old grandson how to change the channel, this has been QUITE a challenge.

I would like to highly recommend the person who has taken on the job of being my bootcamp commanding officer, Christy Ruffner.  She has helped pull me through the mud when I have fallen down and keeps on encouraging me--even after the 5th time that she needs to explain something -yet once again.  I know this whole endeavor will be well worth the final outcome but like anything else, when you are right in the midst of the storm you cannot see the safety of the shore.  Her patience and professional manner are appreciated and if you are a small business who needs help with Web Design or Internet Marketing Support just contact her at
P.S.  She taught me how to add this link and I am VERY proud of myself!

Good Times Had at Spokane Home Builders Show

This past week I had the pleasure of having my "first ever" booth at the Home Builders Show at the Spokane Fair Grounds.  I shared the booth with fellow artist Annie Chermak as she is fantastic at graphic art murals and I do my wall finishes so we thought we would compliment each other.  And that we did, along with allowing some great time to discuss the industry as artists and what we can offer our clients.

The turnout was great, maybe the crummy weather had something to do with it but whatever it was, it was well worth it.  It was constantly busy and I met and spoke with the most interesting people over the three days that the show was going on. 

This show consists of just about every aspect of building or improving your home and is a great "one-stop-shop" when looking for all those components needed to complete whatever project you have in mind.  I met great people in the insulation business, roofing, hard-wood floors, landscaping, building contractor,you name it-they were there.

I was suprised that there was only one other company other than myself representing decorative painting.  My friends from ArtWorks Spokane have had a booth for years so we were the "newbies" and that was just fine.  The one group of professionals that was missing and I was totally surprised about was interior designers.  There was absolutely no one there to represent this market segment and this really shocked me. I thought it was quite a loss on their part.  There are many people who have an idea about what they want, they just don't know how to pull it all together and that is where a designer comes in.  

I would say all in all that this was a productive three days spent showing off my portfolio and plan to be involved next year.  It also is always very good to view people appreciating your art and creative ability as there is so much that goes into creating a piece of art and many times that piece goes unnoticed-until you hear the ohhs and ahhs and someone is telling you how talented you are for creating such a beautiful piece of work.  We can all use a pat on the back now and then...even us older folks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Totally Unique and One of a Kind Creation

This past week a friend of mine, I shall refer to her as my "partner in crime" came to stay at our bed and breakfast and we had no plans but to CREATE.  We just wanted to get out lots of product and make up some beautiful finishes and that we accomplished.  It is so much fun to just let your creative juices flow without any interruptions.

I had attended the International Decorative Artisan's League yearly convention in Portland this past July and had taken a fantastic class from Krista Vind and Susan Bickford called Transitional Temptations.  The gals are awesome, very talented and a barrel of laughs to be around.  The products were included in the price for the class and readily  available.  I had fun creating and brought home some beautiful sample boards.  However, the problem arises when you go to create this look and you are missing about 11 out of the 12 products needed to recreate. Of course these are not items you would ever dream of purchasing at Michael's or Home Depot but ordering via the internet and paying the shipping from Chicago or wherever else they may be located.

The first sample we decided to create was named Chrome Bubbles.  Of course we quickly saw that we did not have Wunda Size to serve as the adhesive to attach the silver foil required, nor did we have a stupid tool (if  they were not referring to our brains of course) and we ended up calling the next door neighbor to see if she had any bubble wrap crammed into a closet left over from some Christmas gift.  We also were lacking the Venetian Gem Black Onyx so this was a great challenge to try to create something a little similar, yet using our products we had on hand.  This also proved to be a very fun challenge that we were ready to take on.

After first basecoating our sample board with black paint, we were ready to start our rounds of substitution.  I had a big bucket of Armor Faux, no color added and we troweled a layer on.  Before it was allowed to dry, we impressed the bubble wrap, overlapping in some areas to create texture.  Let is set and lightly knock down with a clean trowel.  Dry completely.  Then  we troweled more Armor Faux through a Laser Excel circle stencil which I already had.  I just randomly put small, medium and large circles here and there.  When that was dry we did not apply Wunda Size and let dry till sticky, nor did we use silver foil but instead painted the entire surface black and after that was dried, rolled on some silver metallic paint mixed with glaze and then squeeged it off.  This left some beautiful silver in the pits of the texture.

The final step was to mix some Van Dyke Brown Stain & Seal with Rich Brown and apply it the the entire surface(didn't use that stupid tool required).  After the entire board was dried we propped it up to ohh and ahh over our beautiful creation.  I am convinced this is how unique, "one of a kind" finishes are created.  Go ahead and try for yourself.  It is quite a sense of accomplishment!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Featured Artist for First Friday at Arbor Crest Winery

Last night I had the pleasure of being the "Featured Artist" at Arbor Crest Winery in conjuction with the Spokane Valley First Friday Affair.  It was absolutely fantastic!  I had been almost to the point of cancelling due to the 2 sprained ankles I was contending with BUT I am so glad that I persisted and went...with my elephant sized ankles and all.

The winery is located high atop of a hill overlooking Spokane Valley and is quite a sight in itself.  I had taken along over 40 samples of my work including Marmarino, Venecian Plaster, Frascati, faux brick breakaway, foils, metallics, concrete overlay....just alot of beautiful works.  They were very kind to help pack everything in when they saw me hobbling along, people are so nice. 

This event is quite new to the Spokane Valley, has only been going on for 4 months so they warned me of low attendance and apologized in advance to me and the caterer who had an absolutely fantastic spread for only $10 a plate.  Well, as the evening progressed I think not only my ankles were swelling but also my head!  It was an extremely busy evening, over 40 people came to enjoy the wine, food and art and I knew 24 of them! !

Needless to say, I was blown away by the support I got from my friends and I also have to admit that the group of 12 arriving in the limo to celebrate a birthday did not come just because I invited them however I did happen to know 5 out of the 12 so I think the people at the winery thought I was quite a celebrity with a following!  It was a nice coincidence on that one. 

I received many compliments on my work and it is nice to see people appreciate my creative spirit.  I think that as an artist your work is very personal and as with many art pieces, some will love it while others will not.  However it was just what I needed at this point in my career to hear people appreciate what I do.  I am beginning to realize that at times I may be my worst critic and I need to listen to others more and not my little inner voice.  I am happy that I had this opportunity to show off my work and I will definitely be getting out on the First Friday of each month to visit the other venues involved with this event as everyone was having a wonderful time.