Friday, March 3, 2017

Printmaking! Hand-painted linocut prints

In October of 2016, I began making linocut prints. It's still a new process for me, but I've been having fun with the different directions you can take it in. If you follow me on Instagram (@LadydeanArt), then you know what I'm talking about!

This photo shows eight of twelve one-color linocuts from January. The idea was to carve and print the one color (black), and then paint them, as opposed to doing the full color-reduction process for the colors. This was a solution to a time-crunch issue, and allows for a lot more variation of color in the final product. Half of these are painted in acrylic, and half are painted in gouache.

If you are interested in purchasing one, please send me a note! They are each $75.00 USD (unframed), plus shipping.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New artist website to peruse: Gwenn Seemel

A friend just turned me on to Gwenn Seemel's art and website. I'm not sure how I hadn't heard of her before, but I digress...

Here is her website, which I encourage artists to explore: She's got some great business topics, and I've watched a few videos that I've enjoyed and will be thinking about. I'll also be adding her website to one of my sidebar lists!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Art opening!

Here is a photo of Dick Beeman and I at our opening event this past Friday at Radina's in Aggieville! The party was a success, with a good turnout and lots of positive feedback. Thank you to everyone who came!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Art Event: Local Artists' Reception at the Aggieville Radina's in Manhattan, Kansas, on Friday, October 7, 2016!

This coming Saturday, local oil painter Dick Beeman and I will be hanging a joint show at the Radina's Coffeehouse & Roastery, located in Aggieville in Manhattan, Kansas. This show will hang for the entire month of October.

Please join us for our Opening Reception on Friday, October 7, 2016, from 7:30 - 9:00pm. There will be snacks, art, and (of course) the artists! Additionally, the third ever Manhattan First Friday art walk will be happening at Eleven Fifteen Venue & Urban Garden that evening in Aggieville as well, so you can walk down the street to enjoy more local art!

The painting seen here is an oil painting by Dick Beeman, titled Mother and Child.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The varying functions of different online platforms

I don't just maintain a website. I don't just manage this blog. I don't just post to my personal Facebook wall. I do all three of these things, as well as post on my Facebook business page and to Instagram (@LadydeanArt). Is it a lot to juggle? At times, it seems to be. But is it worth it? Of course it is, because each platform serves a very specific function, and I'll share with you why in this post.

Artist's Website
The actual website is key to presenting a professional face to the world. It serves as a digital portfolio; an at-a-glance look at my current body of work. And because it is manageable (I limit myself to 35 images), it is also the only place where I list pricing, as well as current hang locations of pieces so that it's clear whom to contact about purchasing a piece. For example, if a painting is currently hanging in a gallery, I want that to be updated on my website so that the potential buyer knows they have to call or visit the gallery for the duration of the show in order to buy the artwork; as long as the work hangs in said gallery space, I cannot sell it out of my studio. Would I try to manage this information on my blog or my Facebook Art Biz page? No. There are too many past posts for me to realistically chase, so I limit those types of updates and only go back and mark work as "SOLD!"

And speaking of, I limit the number of photos of sold work that are left displayed on my website. Since I want the site to function as a portfolio of my best and most current work, it doesn't make sense to include work that is old or sold; however, I do want visitors to my site to know that my work sells, so I always keep one or two images of very recently sold work up on the site. This also serves to let people know if a popular new painting is no longer available.

Artist's Blog
This blog is my play space. It's where I exercise my writing muscles about art; however, recently I've wondered if I should expand this to some general life type topics, so you can learn more about me as a person! This is my platform for posting in-process photos, and I used to record reference information for myself, such as what paints or media I used to get a certain effect. Nowadays, I track that information in a log book, but it's been invaluable for reviewing how I made works back in 2012, etc. In general, I try to post about issues that other artists may face (under the artistic musings tag), showcase other people's art (under the art admired tag), share information about local art events (under the upcoming events tag), and occasionally just share a photo of a new piece of art. On this platform, I only indicate (through a tag) whether an artwork is for sale or sold, which isn't too hard to manage as I am able to remember most of what I've posted about.

Personal Facebook Page
My personal Facebook page unfortunately still contains a lot of art posts. While I'd like to migrate most of my art-related postings over to my Facebook business page, the reality is that I get more exposure when using my personal page. First of all, it's my network! And the people you know and have watched you pursue your art career probably want to know how things are going. Second of all, the exposure on the biz page is limited by how much you pay to play, which has to be budgeted for. At this point in the game, I can guarantee that more people will see and react to a post on my personal page, so I have to continue to include pertinent information about shows and events there, as well as sharing new art images on occasion. (It's also the page linked to my Instagram, which I'll talk about more below.) There is a definite risk of saturation, however, so I am careful about how much I post to this platform. If you are my friend on Facebook and want to see future posts about my art, then I invite you to like my Facebook art biz page and/ or follow me on Instagram, if you haven't already.

Facebook Art Biz Page
This platform is great for reaching a local and regional audience that maybe you don't know personally, but who would come to your art events if you invited them. It's also the better option for being professional on this social media platform; if you are serious about your business, you should have a Facebook page for it. But it has to be actively managed, which includes remembering to invite new contacts periodically (but at the proper moment; i.e., don't invite someone to like your page the day they accept your friend request). You also have to post content and interact with people who engage your site. If you don't, then activity will plunge; the algorithms will drop you if you aren't present in the game. One way I like to create content for my Facebook Art Biz page is to post a link to my new blog posts, to drive traffic to my blog. It always works, although it hasn't been very successful in gaining me new blog followers!

This page is where I maintain a wider portfolio of images for both sold and available pieces; however, I don't include pricing information here, mostly because I'm not sure where Facebook stands on this. And I keep up photos of sold work indefinitely, mostly for the sake of keeping the comments that people leave about my art, which serve as testimonials. If I delete them, I can't get them back!

I'm relatively new to Instagram and am still trying to learn how best to use the site, but I've already got a few opinions about it. It is great for reaching a global audience, particularly if you are appropriate with your hashtag use (for example, when I post drawings, I use the hashtag drawing, as well as dibujo, to reach a much wider potential audience). I have people from all over the world already following my account and/ or liking my posts. I couldn't have dreamed of this sort of connection on Facebook, although the jury is still out on whether this platform actually influences sales. It's also easier for a person to be a passive observer on Instagram, scrolling through a feed that consists only of images, both moving and still. This allows the art to do the talking, and people respond to it if it's good. This is where I post photos of studio shots, behind the scenes art photos, new sketches, or occasionally an old photo of a finished but unsold painting. What I'm aiming for on this platform is a certain artistic consistency: do all of my images clearly come from the same artist? It's a form of auto-critique, I suppose.

One comment about Instagram... while I do occasionally share a post from Instagram to Facebook (usually when I'm feeling like double exposure or if I want to compare how the image fares on one social media site versus another), I try to limit this, for the sake of my Facebook friends. Several people who I am connected with on my personal Facebook page are also following me on Instagram, and my philosophy is, "If they've seen it in one feed, why blast them with the image in another feed?" One thing I've noticed that other people do is everything they put on Instagram also goes to Facebook. As a viewer, I end up with a very strong sense of déjà vu, which has led me to unfollow friends on Instagram. I see no harm in this; no offense to be taken, because of the way the platform is set up. The focus is not on a reciprocal connection, but on a voyeristic position. So basically if you are immediately posting all of your Instagram posts over to Facebook, you're probably not giving people a reason to follow you on Instagram unless they don't know you. At the end of the day, I want people to find new content no matter which site they are checking in at, so I try to limit how much I cross-share. Am I always successful with this? No, of course not. But hopefully, I'm getting better at it...

I hope this post has been useful and interesting. Please note that I am not on Twitter or any other social media site not listed above, because it's already a juggling act to post new content to the five sources cited here! And, as always, if you see a painting that you just have to have, please email me at:, and we'll get the purchase conversation rolling. Thank you for being a fan.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Featured Post: Vik Muniz

Back in 2009, I had the chance to see a Vik Muniz exposition in São Paulo, Brazil. It was by chance that his art was on display that day at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), and I fell in love with the work: huge images that were technically photographs, but of large scale temporary sculptures made of recyclables, trash, and other objects and substances, including ketchup and mustard! I had never been so mesmerized by an art exhibit in my life. On my way to the MASP, I had been more excited to be taking public transportation in one of the biggest cities in the world by myself than to be going to see an art show. But at that point, I hadn't even heard of Vik Muniz. Once I found the MASP doors, I found one of my favorite living artists.

His work is beautiful and striking, not only in terms of the actual final image, but also in terms of the concept, process, and story that go into the making of an image. One sculpture had been constructed out of computer parts culled from a landfill; only when you walked up close to the photograph could you see that the contours of long dead computer monitors were forming one part of the image, piles of computer mice another. I don't remember what the final image was, but it very well could have been a person or a street scene; perhaps it was a global map, painted in electronic trash.

If you get the chance to see his work in person, I highly recommend that you check it out. His work can also be seen online at Artsy:

I took this photo on a hilltop in São Paulo; I don't think I got one of the subway system or the MASP!

Monday, July 11, 2016

New work: Untitled

Here's what I painted last night! The intent was to paint a hand holding a rose, but a Picasso-eske face snuck its way into the composition. I promise that wasn't intentional... I was trying to work the hand.

I'm still working on the title for this one. 20 x 26 inches (unframed), acrylic on paper.

UPDATE: I've decided to title this Kiss from a Rose...

Saturday, July 9, 2016

New Work: Metamorphosis

My most recent finished painting. Metamorphosis. 30 x 30 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas.

Framed new work: Minotaur and Woman II

Speaking of new work, I needed something to draw a few weeks ago, so I chose to draw the painting I had in front of me. This turned out to be Minotaur and Woman I. I worked the drawing so far that I decided to have it framed as well.

Minotaur and Woman II. 11 x 14 inches (size with frame: 15 1/8 x 18 1/8 inches), conte crayon on paper.

Framed new work: Minotaur and Woman I

As an update to my previous blog post, I'm sharing the finished, framed version of this painting. I strengthened the main black line of the bull's undercarriage and had the piece framed.

Minotaur and Woman I. 20 1/4 x 26 inches (size with frame: 24 x 30 inches), acrylic on rag paper.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Framed new work: Waves Crashing

Here is Waves Crashing in a custom frame. The painting is 18 x 24 inches, acrylic on profile flat panel (size with frame: 20 x 26 inches).

While I didn't necessarily plan to paint Point Dume, Malibu, I must have had memories of it in my head, because it sure looks a lot like that particular beach...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

New work: The Proposal

The Proposal. 26 1/2 x 20 1/4 inches, mixed media (India ink and acrylic paint) on rag paper.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mental dissection of an older painting

I made this painting, Llora y Llora, back circa 2009, before I'd started selling my art. If you've been following any of my recent work on this blog, my official art website, my Facebook Business Page, or my Instagram account (@LadydeanArt), you'll know that my style and composition have evolved quite a bit since this painting was completed. I don't even have this piece logged in my inventory, and I don't actively show it.

A few months ago, tired of the painting sitting in a corner gathering dust, I got the brilliant idea to re-purpose it while maintaining the basic composition. I'd bring it up-to-date by adding more bold shapes and colors and marks to it... I'd make the background more interesting... I even figured I'd cover the frame in foil to avoid having to break it out, thus enabling me to paint on the canvas as-is.

Since then, I've read a few internet articles regarding the different options available to an artist to deal with old inventory, including this interesting post on red dot blog. It got me thinking about my as-yet-unfulfilled plans for Llora y Llora, and I found myself questioning whether I really wanted to alter the work. I decided to hang the painting on the wall in my bedroom and spend some time with it... staring at it... contemplating it. The more I looked at it, the more I realized that I don't want to change a thing about it. I don't want to enhance the background, or add contemporary shapes, or brighten any part of it. To do so might threaten the charm that it already has; a charm that goes beyond the hand-built frame my dad made for it that I stained myself with a beautiful green.

This painting captures a moment in my development as an artist, in terms of use of color, placement of line, treatment of composition, etc. The brushstrokes have a particular boldness that I was trying on as I painted on this canvas; it may not immediately seem like I was pushing myself artistically as I made this painting, but the marks remind me that this was the case. Furthermore, the manner in which the subject matter was treated appropriately reflects a sadness I was feeling as I lost my cat, my romantic relationship, and then grandmother, and was in the process of losing one of my favorite friends, who I managed to show this painting to before he passed a few months later. He loved the wispy look of the tip of the nose, and the way those brushstrokes danced with the background. I suspect that to alter this painting would also be to compromise its emotional integrity...

Llora y Llora, 40 x 30 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas with hand-built frame. Photo by Steve Lundberg.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

New work that may or may not be done...

I think this painting is done, but maybe not quite yet. It is a tad understated, but I really like it that way, so I'm trying to be careful not to overdo things...

Minotaur and Woman. 20 1/4 x 26 inches, acrylic on rag paper.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New work: Hourglass

Rotate this painting one quarter turn counterclockwise...

Hourglass. 22 x 28 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fall in love with the process

Recently, a friend was trying to explain to me his philosophy about making art. The term he used to differentiate a true piece of art from the noise out there was "flow". Does the work reflect the artist's flow? But how does one define this concept?

It's something I've been trying to describe to myself for years, ever since I watched George toss a gorgeous piece of in-progress bronze in the back of his car, unlocked with the window left down! If I had to take a gander at it, I'd frame it in terms of loving the process over loving the product. What do I mean by this? I mean allowing yourself (as the artist) to let go of the outcome, and focus on the mechanics that get the work done. This could include embracing brushstrokes you don't like; choosing not to work and rework a section of the piece in an attempt to get things "just right"; focusing on the qualities of the paint you are using instead of worrying about whether you rendered proportions perfectly; or letting the paint dictate the outcome of the session as one color grabs another while you drag your brush through space. And it certainly means believing in yourself along the way.

Such thinking allows the artist to be less invested in each individual piece, which should lead to better production and, in turn, a better body of work. It also allows for more freedom to be creative, because when you are less invested in a given outcome, you'll probably take more risks or perhaps be more playful in your execution. These actions should lead to more success overall. The more work you make, the better you'll get and, hopefully, the more work you'll sell.

But why is this so? I suspect that if an artist can decouple a certain subset of their emotions (mainly fear, pride, shame, hope, and love) from their actual work, and instead focus on executing the process with confidence, then they can achieve this so-called "flow", which will become apparent in their body of work as it becomes stronger. It's almost like you have to step back from yourself in order to bring out the best qualities of your art.

For the record, loving the process over the product and achieving flow are things I struggle with. I've historically been a lover of the product, and very rarely the process, which means that making art has at times been painful. So it has been in my best interests to change my way of thinking and learn to love the process, and to let go of much of the outcome in favor of, well, creating better art.

Pictured here is a new piece, Catwalk. 16 x 12 inches, acrylic on cradled panel. Painted with brushstrokes I didn't like, lines I wanted to clean up but didn't, and an energy that can best be described as... "flow". And I think it came out divine...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I'm on Instagram!

I finally got set up with an Instagram account. You can find me at LadydeanArt. I'm hoping to be able to reach a broader audience with this platform. Please follow me!

Produce, produce, produce...

I've been working hard in the studio, trying to get more work made. Here is yesterday and today's effort. Waves Crashing. 18 x 24 inches, acrylic on flat panel.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Article in the Kiowa County Signal

During my Closing Reception at the 5.4.7 Arts Center last week, I was interviewed for an article in Kiowa County Signal paper. Please check it out!

If you'd rather copy and paste, here is the URL:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Art Event: Spring Art Reception at Strasser Plaza in Manhattan, Kansas on Saturday, March 26, 2016!

I am planning to host a repeat solo art reception at the Strasser Plaza Meeting Event Space in Manhattan, Kansas on Saturday, March 26, 2016, from 4-6pm. Last year's well-attended event was a great time.

I will hang a few pieces of art in the adjacent Strasser Plaza Leasing Office and Nano Gallery the week before the reception. These paintings will also be available to view for several weeks afterwards, although I may rotate art during the course of the hanging. The majority of the work will only be viewable that Saturday, however, so don't miss it!

This photo was taken at last June's event by my art colleague Susan Rose. The featured painting is Flint Hills in March, 30 x 30 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas, which sold in the Fall as a result of the buyer having seen it at last year's reception!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Art Event: Closing Reception at the 5.4.7 Arts Center in Greensburg, Kansas this coming Sunday!

I hope you'll be able to join me in Greensburg, Kansas for my Ladydean Art Closing Reception this Sunday, March 13, 2016, from 1:30-3pm at the 5.4.7 Arts Center (204 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Greensburg, KS, 67054). Please help spread the word!

The art has been hanging on the walls for the past month, and you'll still have the chance to check out the show today, tomorrow, and Thursday of this week from 1-5pm each day.

Little House on the Konza Prairie. 36 x 48 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Art Biz book resources for the artist who wants to start thinking like a business person!

In my blog post about inventory tracking from February 23, 2016, I mentioned that I would be writing a future post about resources. Today's blog post will list several book resources that I have found to be helpful over the past year; web resources will have to wait until a later day!

I have devoured as many books as has been possible, and I will now share with you my list of the ones I believe to be the most useful. Here are the categorizations I will use, in case you need to get to targeted information quickly:
a. Marketing and online presence;
b. Inventory nuts and bolts;
c. Taxes;
d. Working with galleries/ getting your art out there;
e. Pricing your work;
f. Motivation for women in business;
g. Artistic confidence/ goals/ believing in yourself as an artist;
h. Entrepreneurship/ business information.

And here is the list of books (I checked almost all of these out from my local library), with the corresponding letter categorizations to the right of the title and author:
1. Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist, by Lisa Congdon: a, c, d, e, and g.
2. Starting Your Career as an Artist: A Guide for Painters, Sculptors, Photographers, and Other Visual Artists, by Angie Wojak and Stacy Miller: a, b, c, d, e, g, and h.
3. How to Get Started Selling Your Art, by Carole Katchen: a, d, e, and g.
4. Birthing the Elephant: The Woman's Go-For-It! Guide to Overcoming the Big Challenges of Launching a Business, by Karin Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman: f and h.
5. Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, by Pamela Slim: h.
6. "Starving" to Successful: The Fine Artist's Guide to Getting Into Galleries and Selling More Art, by Jason Horejs: a, b, d, e, and g.
7. Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, edited by Sharon Louden: d, f, g, and h.
8. Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland: g.
9. How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul, by Caroll Michels: a, d, e, g, and h.
10. New Markets for Artists: How to Sell, Fund Projects, and Exhibit Using Social Media, DIY Pop-Ups, eBay, Kickstarter, and Much More, by Brainard Carey: a, d, e, g, and h.
11. The Crafts Business Answer Book: Starting, Managing, and Marketing a Homebased Arts, Crafts, or Design Business, by Barbara Brabec: a, b, c, e, and h.

I hope you find some or all of these books to be helpful. In most cases, each book deals with more topics than what I have delineated above; however, I wanted to point you in the right direction if you need a quick resource for a given hot topic that is creating stress in your life. Also, please note that I am still in the process of implementing much of the advice I have read... it was a lot to absorb, and many things simply do not happen overnight!

Stay tuned for a future post on useful websites! There are some really good ones out there.

Photo credit goes to my sister Jessalyn for snapping this picture of me in 2012 at a café in Cusco, Perú.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

How many artists does it take to paint a painting?

A friend once asked me, "How many artists does it take to paint a painting?" The answer, it turned out, was, "Two. One to paint the painting, and the other to yell: STOP!!"

One of the challenges every artist faces is knowing when to call a piece of artwork done. For some, such as Willem de Kooning, perhaps no painting is ever truly done, while others, such as Bob Ross, will confidently know their work is complete as soon as they've included all their formulaic elements. For everyone in between, the concept can be a bit of a moving target, and the real task at hand becomes learning how to play both the role of painter and the role of artist who yells: STOP!!

In my experience, it has become a lot easier with time to know when a painting can be called finished, so experience with one's own evolution as an artist will help. This can mean focusing on developing a certain style, exploring a specific theme, or simply becoming better at using your tools and materials, to give a few examples. I plan and sketch out a lot more of my paintings these days than I did ten years ago, so I'm usually working towards something in particular and I have a much easier time sensing when I have achieved whatever goal is driving the work.

However, I still have my moments of not knowing when to call a work done, particularly if I suspect that I'm not pushing myself to fully explore the piece, in which case I actually have to say, "Paint, Tara, paint!". The first step I take is to step back and observe, think about the painting, and consider what might be missing or causing unwelcome tension. If I come up with something specific that is bothering me, I go back in and work on it.

But, what happens when there is nothing further to address? How do I recognize when I'm adding paint simply for the sake of adding paint? My simplest gauge is this: If I am still putting paint on a canvas but no further value is being added to the essence of the work, then it's time to yell: STOP!!

In the case of the painting seen here (and also here), I knew that I needed to differentiate the male figure a bit more before calling it done, so my final session consisted of applying more quinacridone crimson to the actual figure, and working some titanium white into the background section to the left of the bodies, both with the goal of bring out the contrasts, as seen in the final photo above. After I did this, I stepped back and wondered if I was finished. My first thought was, "I could do more!", but to what aim? I had resolved the problem, so what else could be achieved by continuing to work? It turns out, there was nothing more to say. Adding more paint or refining another area would not have contributed to the composition or the energy of the piece. At this point, I was just being mechanical in the service of anxiety, and the risk of continuing to paint would be to run in circles in the pursuit of a solution to a non-existent problem. So I decided to paint my signature on and call it done, in effect yelling: STOP!!

The Dance. 26 x 20 1/4 inches, acrylic on rag paper.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Some thoughts on inventory system tracking

Please note that this blog post does not constitute professional advice; for professional guidance, please contact your tax accountant. This post is simply my effort to share what I have learned about inventories over the past few years, and is intended to help other artists who may feel lost or overwhelmed, as I did. Although I hope it does not, this post may contain errors or inaccuracies; it certainly contains simplifications.

As an artist, it is important to have a system to track your inventory. When many (if not most, or even all) artists first start creating, having an inventory is the furthest thing from their mind. Maybe your art habit began as just a sketch book and some pens 13 years ago, and snowballed over time; perhaps you signed up for a local watercolor class, and found yourself falling in love with painting on the weekends, and one day someone asked you, "how much do you want for this?"; or it's possible that (like me) you've been creating art since you were in middle school, and you couldn't conceive of an inventory until you were swimming in art materials and potential sales years later.

If making art remains a hobby or you never sell a thing, perhaps you don't need an inventory. However, if you do sell, hope to sell, intend to sell, or plan to sell, then you must eventually put a proverbial stake in the ground and start an inventory. You'll need one in order to have an account of what materials you possess, to determine your profit per sale, to know how you are using (or wasting) your materials, and to complete your federal income taxes adequately. Specifically, you'll need this information to calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) for the products that leave your inventory on your Profit or Loss From Business (Sole Proprietorship), also know as Schedule C (Form 1040). If you are declaring your sales but aren't tracking your inventory, then you risk paying income tax on the materials you have purchased; the goal is to properly reduce your taxable income by the amount of costs you have invested in your materials that have left your inventory (profits - COGS = taxable income), and to declare your existing end-of-year inventory so that you have information to work from in future years.

When you first start your inventory, you may be faced with the problem I had: how to account for everything you already have. This can be overwhelming, but it is possible to get through the task without losing your mind. First, focus on what your principal product is. Are you primarily a painter who dabbles in clay on the side? If so, start with cataloging your painting materials, and worry about the clay later. Next, break down your materials for your primary product into categories. In my case, I had to figure out exactly how much paint I had in tubes and how much I thought was on canvases, how many canvases I had (painted or unpainted), how many feet of hanging wire I had (in paintings or on the spool), etc., and then I had to assign a cost to these things. I am a fairly meticulous record keeper, so I actually still had most of the old receipts for these items, although sorting through them and figuring out what was what took some time. If you don't have the receipts or you can't read them, then use the internet to find out the best pricing guess if you had to go buy the material today.

After I had the rough overall cost of what was in my inventory, I needed a system to track the assigned costs for each product, because as I sell a painting, I need to be able to then deduct the cost of those sold materials from the current inventory. The first item of business at that point was determining what constituted the basis of a product; for me, it became clear that this would be a support, whether that support was a stretched canvas, a piece of paper, or a cradled panel. Upon this basis, I assigned chronological inventory numbers. As each canvas enters my inventory (i.e., as each canvas I buy arrives on my doorstep), I immediately slap an inventory number on it. I am committed to creating a piece of art as soon as I acquire the support, even if I don't get to paint on it in the same calendar year as it enters my inventory. As such, a painting I make in 2016 may actually have a 2015 inventory number assigned to it, because that was the year the support entered my inventory.

How do I handle the tracking of the minutia? Well, this is a case where I have to try and be as accurate as possible, but acknowledge that a guestimate is often good enough. It's simply impossible to measure every ounce of paint as you are working! But I do have a general sense of how much I am using, and so as I work through creating my paintings, I deduct the approximate amounts accordingly.

At this point, you may be wondering how I deduct these amounts and keep track of the actual numbers side of things. Truth be told, I built my own spreadsheet with automated formulas and calculations. When I sell a piece, I change the Sold = No cell to Sold = Yes, and all of the inputs and totals change according to the formulas. If you are not versed in spreadsheet programs, then the answer is simple: either contract this work to someone whose business is supporting entrepreneurs with inventory systems, or do it by hand. Yes, I mean keep a log book whereby each page is a specification sheet dedicated to each project, reflected by the individual job number assigned, and then track all related costs: supports, paint, wire, hardware, framing, etc. Then have a section dedicated to the calendar year starting and ending inventories for unassigned materials (such as paint in tubes, stacks of paper, spools of wire, stretcher bars, canvas rolls, etc.). You'll have to do some calculations at the end of the year to find out your sales totals, COGS, and remaining inventories, but it is possible to do this. And as you purchase new materials, you'll enter the costs into the appropriate section of the log book. For example, if you contract your framing work to a frame shop, you'll want to tie the expense to a particular job number; if you do your own framing, however, then you'll have framing materials that you enter into the unassigned materials section, later moving cost amounts to specific job numbers as you frame your own work. No matter which method you choose, the important thing is that you account for everything, that you maintain copies of your records in case you get audited, and that you simply stay on top of things so you don't find yourself lagging behind.

There are clearly many related sub-topics that I could include as part of this post (such as a more in-depth explanation of the Schedule C as it applies to artists), but I have decided to keep this post limited to the nuts and bolts of my inventory process. I do hope to write a future post that includes the best resources I found while doing my research on inventories, including both books I checked out from my local library and websites. I am indebted to my friend Rebecca Sundermeier (Rebel Inn Studios) for her support explaining many of these concepts as they apply to the fine arts specifically, as opposed to entrepreneurs generally.

The art seen in the photo above is titled: Intimacy. 18 7/16 x 11 7/8 inches, acrylic on cradled masonite.