#156 Kecia Deveney: Art Making in the Time of Isolation

Today I’m talking with artist Kecia Deveney. We spoke on April 2nd, when most states had shut down businesses and public areas. Kecia and her family self-quarantined before most people because they are caregivers for her son who would be extra vulnerable to the virus. She’s had to cancel her in person art classes and scale down her other art projects because the caregiving is full-time. She is still able to make art daily, and we talk about how she does that and how she manages this stressful time. Kecia lives in New Jersey, and she’s a prolific artist who makes art dolls, collage, and painting. If you’d like to go back and listen to my original interview with Kecia, we spoke in December, 2018 in Episode 61.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher. 

Kecia Deveney

You can find Kecia’s artwork on her website keciadeveney.com

Her main social media account is Facebook, and she cross-posts to Instagram and Twitter.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Kecia has always had to keep a specific schedule for her home and family with the caregiving tasks that she does. As we have reduced our trips outdoors with our self-isolation, it’s even more important to keep things on a schedule. It’s easy to lose track of days, so if you’re still working your business, or homeschooling your kids, or providing care for family members, you should try to keep a daily routine.
  2. Kecia has always been a multi-tasker. She’s found that if she keeps her hands busy, that will keep her mind away from negative thoughts. She always has an art project close by that she can pick up when she has a moment. It may be some stitching or working on a collage or doing some painting.
  3. Kecia recently crashed her website, so she had to create a new one. She looked at other artists’ websites and their blogs to see what she liked. She contacted one of the artists to find out who did her website. That’s a great way to find an expert for something you need done.
  4. She advised Kecia to use her regular camera to take photos for her website rather than her phone. I know some phones can take fabulous photos, but you need to learn how to do that. So whether you have a really great camera for taking photos or you use your phone, you need to learn some photo basics, which include lighting and composition. Kecia worked with an expert; you can also find online classes as well as free videos that can help you take more professional photos.
  5. When Kecia does commission work, she usually asks for a deposit. She does tell us about one time that she didn’t and that was because the requestor wasn’t sure what they wanted so she just started playing around with ideas. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut on what you want to do, and be flexible about your usual rules.
  6. During this time where so many things are changed in our lives, accept that you can’t do everything that you’d like, and find an alternative to do instead. Kecia can’t film online classes right now, but she can do short live videos, so she will do those when she can.
  7. One of the things she does for Facebook Live videos, is she doesn’t interrupt what she’s doing to respond to people’s comments. She lets them know that she’ll answer all the questions at the end when she can give them her full attention.
  8. She’ll also sometimes do videos where she isn’t even talking. She’s just letting the video speak for itself.
  9. We also talked about how these times are stressful, and it’s ok to be stressed and have anxiety. Sometimes you just need to give yourself permission to be silent and not engaged until the stress passes.
  10. In this time where so many people are teaching their kids at home or caring for others, see if you can keep a little art making in your lap or on the table that you can work on when you get a moment.

#155 Caylee Grey: Providing a Virtual Community for Artists

Caylee Grey runs the Get Messy Art online art school. Caylee created a community of people from all over the world who enjoy the art instruction videos that she and other artists create for the group. They also meet virtually for lessons and art get togethers. She also offers meetups through Zoom as well as classes that people can buy even if they’re not a member of her community. We spoke on March 31, from Caylee’s home in Germany. At that time, we had partial shut downs of services and activities, but not a complete shut down like we have now. If you’d like to go back and listen to my original interview with Caylee, we spoke in October, 2019 in Episode 124. I especially loved that conversation – we laughed so much.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Caylee Grey

Caylee Grey’s website is cayleegrey.com and her Get Messy Art creative community is getmessyart.com.

Be sure and visit the Get Messy Art About page and FAQ page.

If you’d like to hear about her online get-togethers, you can sign up for her email notifications here.

She has two upcoming get togethers you may be interested in:

May 5 — Expressive Arts Workshop

May 14 — (journaling workshop) The Voice of This Moment

She also offers some classes that you can buy individually. You can see them here.

On Instagram, she is @cayleegrey and the community IG page is @getmessyartjournal. Members of the Get Messy Art community can use this hashtag to contribute to the group #getmessyartjournal.

Caylee has her own podcast called How to Be an Artist. You can find it here.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Artists all over the world are being very kind and generous with their content. In Caylee’s Get Messy Art Journal community, you can find art tutorials but also just art hangouts where you can make art with others and feel connected.
  2. During this time of isolation, you may find yourself at times very lonely. Reaching out to an artist community can help you with that.
  3. As many of you now know, Zoom is a great conferencing program that can be used for virtual meetups. Caylee offered a free meetup that was attended by over 80 people. One of the things you can do with Zoom is break people down to smaller groups. That makes it more manageable and intimate for people to interact with each other.
  4. When you are joining these online Zoom discussions or classes, you can also bring your kids with you. Just mute yourself so others can’t hear you. You may find that some art get togethers will be fun for your kids to do with you.
  5. Caylee offers her classes and lots of other great content through her membership in her community. She also offers classes that you can just purchase on your own. This is a great way to get people in who aren’t ready to commit to a membership.
#154 Faith Evans-Sills: The Time to Try Something New
Faith Evans-Sills

#154 Faith Evans-Sills: The Time to Try Something New

Faith Evans-Sills is a painter based in Charleston, South Carolina. She has both a BFA and an MFA, and she has taken her years of painting experience and built a thriving art business. Many of her art classes are built in partnership with Mati Rose McDonough, despite Mati living in California. You can hear my original interviews with Faith in Episode 102 and Mati in Episode 103. Today you’ll hear Faith talk about how she and Mati responded to the shutdown of travel and how it affected their live classes. She also tells us how she is engaging their community of artists with art challenges and new online classes.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple iTunes, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Faith Evans-Sills

Faith with a few of her paintings.

Here are some of the things we discussed in this episode (click on the names to follow the links):

Faith’s website is faithevanssills.com and you can also find her on Instagram @faithevanssills

You can find all of her online classes on her website here. 

Through April 30, 2020, Faith is offering 50% off all of her online courses, including those that start after that but have already been announced for launching in May and June. Use the discount code UPLIFT to take advantage of this offer. 

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Faith teaches online classes and in person workshops with her art partner Mati Rose McDonough. Faith and Mati had a workshop in Costa Rica scheduled for the beginning of April. They had to really tap into the latest travel advisories and messages from the World Health Organization so that they could make a quick decision on whether they could still hold this workshop. Because they were proactive about the situation, they understand the enormity of the situation sooner than most, and they were able to act to change their workshop and inform their students. When you are hosting classes and distance workshops, it’s imperative that you keep up on what’s happening in the world and you keep your students in the loop.
  2. As you listen to these new episodes where I’m talking to artists who offer online classes, I’m asking each one which online platform they use to host their courses. I’m doing this so that you’ll know the many options that are out there. Faith uses Ruzuku to host her online classes. In Episode 153, when I talked with artist Jodi Ohl, and she told me that she uses Thinkific. In Episode 152, Luci Duclos told me she uses Skillshare. Check out all the options to determine which will be best for your business. You should consider how much it will cost you monthly to use their platform; if they will take a cut from each of your classes that is sold, and how much; whether they will market your classes to other potential students; and whether your classes will be hosted on your website or theirs.
  3. When you have to cancel something big like a retreat, you need to recognize how disappointed your students will be too. Faith and Mati wanted to give those students the sense of community that they were losing, so they quickly put together a 14-day class that those students could join right away.
  4. It was also important to Faith and Mati to offer something affordable for their students that they could even take with their kids. A lot of their classes are long, about six weeks or so, and they are a significant investment in your art practice. They decided this new offering would be just 14-days and they priced it at a lower more affordable level so that it would be open to many people.
  5. Faith recognizes that the virtual connection that you can get from online courses is needed more than ever now. She’s always seen how good that connection can be and she’s glad that others are seeing it now too as new people embrace online classes.
  6. Watercolors are a good option for painting because there’s less set up than with acrylic paints, less mess, and it’s very portable. It’s a great choice if you want to paint outside or at a park. Watercolors are also a nice thing that you’re kids can do with you or that you can add to an art lesson for their homeschooling.
  7. Faith pointed out that as we are all dealing with these sudden changes to our lives and our businesses, it is affecting us just as grief would affect us from the loss of a loved one. Give yourself space to grieve and go through the stages of mourning what your life was like before all these changes were forced upon us.
  8. We are all going through this process right now of accepting our changed lives and figuring out what we want our new lives to be. Faith and Mati have thought about how they can offer art making opportunities to others to help them through this process. You may want to look at your business too and see if you can offer anything to help others during this time, maybe something that is different than your usual offerings.
  9. Faith also expressed that because we are all going through these changes, and these changes are unprecedented, there is some freedom that goes along with that. The fears that you’ve held about trying new things don’t matter anymore, and we can look at this as an opportunity to try something new. Now is the time to give yourself permission to step into different arenas that may have been scary before.

Faith has collaborated with artist Mati Rose McDonough on a book, online classes, and retreats. You can listen to my interview with Mati on Episode #103 of the podcast.

Faith and Mati

#153 Jodi Ohl: North Carolina Abstract Artist and Teacher

Jodi Ohl is an abstract painter and mixed media artist who has taught live classes and sold her artwork at a studio and gallery in North Carolina. We originally spoke way back in September of 2018 in Episode 31. When we recently talked again, it was in early April near the beginning of closing down stores and businesses. We talk about how these changes have affected her art business and how she’s focusing now on online classes.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Jodi Ohl

You can find everything you need on Jodi’s website.

You can also find her on:

 Facebook 

Instagram

Her studio and some of her art can be found at Art Works Vass in Vass, North Carolina.

Her online group classes are on this page of her website.

Jodi is offering a special discount for my Left Brain Artist listeners for her Abstract Bundle of classes. Through 5/31/20, use the discount code lba15bundle to receive $15 off the sale price.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Jodi shows some of her art at a local gallery called ArtWorks Vass. The owner of the gallery, Jean Skipper, has put a lot of the artwork right on her website so people can see it and purchase it. Buyers can go right to the store to pick up their purchased artwork. If you have your art in a gallery, encourage them to put the art on their website for sale.
  2. Jodi uses the online teaching platform called Thinkific. This platform doesn’t sell your classes for you, it’s just the mechanism for setting up your classes that you then sell through your own website. One aspect of Thinkific that she likes is they don’t hold your money for 30 days and you get it right away.
  3. We also talked about Skillshare as an online class option. They put your classes on their website and they will market them to thousands of students, but they do take a cut of the sales, something that Thinkific does not.
  4. Another benefit of Jodi offering her classes from her own site is she doesn’t have to worry about someone else going out of business and losing the place for her classes. Having them on her own site allows her to keep control over them all.
  5. As Jodi says, diversification is key to success. Offer multiple things from your website, like original art, prints, as well as classes. It’s not too late to offer something new. Jodi has experienced live art classes cancelling because the venue doesn’t want to offer them anymore. You need to have other sources of income available in case something gets cancelled like that.
  6. Instead of focusing on how many live classes Jodi has had to cancel, she’s focusing on what she still has. That’s a very positive attitude to keep.
  7. She’s also thinking about painting and marketing smaller pieces because she doesn’t think people are interested in the large paintings right now.
  8. Now is the time to keep your face and your art out there so people don’t forget you. Keep doing the Instagram and Facebook posts, stories, and videos.
  9. She also says it’s a good time to give back if you can to charities and others who are helping right now.
  10. If you’ve been teaching in person, you’ve already got the content that you need for an online class.

#152 Lucie Duclos: Teaching Online Classes and Making Daily Art

Artist Lucie Duclos and I first spoke in August of 2019 in Episode 115.  Lucie lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where she creates cut paper collages and surface patterns. Up until recently, she had been teaching in person classes. That’s been put on hold for now, so she is increasing her online class offerings and is engaging artists through Instagram with her 40 Days of Postcards.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Lucie Duclos

These are a few of Lucie’s 40 Days of Postcards.

Lucie’s website is duclosdesign.com.

Her online classes are hosted through Skillshare, but you can use the link on her website.

Feel free to follow her on Instagram @lucieduclos.

You can find her surface pattern designs on Spoonflower.com.

Lucie is the Uppercase Magazine Issue 41 cover artist. To learn about Uppercase and get a subscription, go to their website here.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Lucie has offered online classes through Skillshare for awhile. She has seen an increase in students since everyone has been staying home.
  2. She has also seen an increase in business from fabric and other home items sales from her patterns she has uploaded on Spoonflower.
  3. Now is also a good time to offer free content so people can get to know you and your teaching style.
  4. If you have been teaching in person classes, but they’ve been cancelled, you can use that content to create online classes.
  5. Lucie uses a lot of recycled paper items for her artwork, like cardboard from cereal boxes or other food boxes. Now is a great time to look at what you have around the house that you can use in your art, since we are not able to go to art supply stores now.
  6. You can also use found items so set up your photos for Instagram. Lucie has found scraps of wood that she uses as a background for her photos, and sometimes she will paint it with a white wash for something different.
  7. Lucie also makes her photos more interesting by arranging other items around the artwork. Sometimes she uses one or two of her art supplies, sometimes she uses a painted rock or a leaf from outside.
  8. Lucie has been doing 40 Days of Postcards. During this crazy time when nothing is guaranteed, it’s nice to have a daily ritual of making some art. You can count on taking a few minutes each day to make something beautiful and to relax while doing it. We all need a little self-care right now, and your art making can be a part of that.
  9. Now is a great time to set up a camera and show clips of your work. Just share with others what you’re doing and they will get to know you.
  10. When you’re creating your first online class, Lucie has found it helpful to write down your steps when you’re making something. This will help you to keep the lesson organized.
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