It took me a few long cold winters to get used to life in the Midwest, after living in Florida and doing the show circuit there for 25 years. In the south, shows start up in September and wind down in April, and by then it's too hot. In the north, it’s just the opposite: May to October, and after that it's too dang cold.
I know there are road gypsies out there that can pull off the year-round art show circuit, and I tip my hat to them. As for me and my house, I am glad to have my in season as well as my off season. It helps me stay organized with my work and stay focused on production.
So here’s my plan for what I lovingly refer to as “winter work":
1. Make a new show piece or two for the coming year. This for me is the project that gets me in work mode. Coming up with a new show piece takes sketching, designing, contemplating, and planning. The whole process requires that I get my ducks in a row. The show piece needs to be similar yet different from my previous show pieces. Judges of juried art shows look for a harmonious body of work that looks like it’s made from the same artist “DNA”.
2. Revamp the inventory I have left from last season. Every piece is fair game to be dismantled, repurposed, tweaked, upcycled into some new and current wearable masterpiece. Attack this with vigor and be resolute and decisive. Don’t get sentimental about keeping favorite pieces. It can be cathartic to tear old stuff up and make it new.
4. Embrace nature's color combinations. I use the seasonal palettes for all my inventory. Even my Etsy store is categorized into the four seasons. Autumn’s palette is warm and muted, like mustard yellow and ruddy red. Winter is cool and clear; its colors are jewel tones and pure. Spring is warm and clear, like pink and yellow and lime green. Summer is cool and muted. Think grayed down lavender and cool sage green. Why do these color combinations work? Hey, I didn't write the book, or design creation, but the Creator did, and I think it makes sense to imitate Him.
5. Make lots of components. For me that means rolled paper beads in the seasonal color combinations, painted pieces of canvas, hammered copper toggles, textured handmade papers, and all shapes and sizes of clay beads. Making the component parts ahead of time is an artful experience in itself, and once I am in production mode on jewelry I don’t have to stop the creative process to make the perfect bead or toggle. It’s already done.
6. Commit to learn a new technique or application. Last year for me it was learning to make resin over copper forms. Before that it was enameled paper beads. This year my new endeavors will include using a torch and copper wire, as well as a leather stitching machine for leather cuff bracelets.
7. Put yourself on a production schedule. The only thing that's gonna scratch that creative itch is to make your art!! So figure out a workable schedule that keeps you in forward motion. Pretend it’s your job and you have to clock in, if that’s what it takes for you to produce.
8. Have a dedicated work space that is specifically for making your art. Don't let it get cluttered with non-art-making parts of life. There's other places for all that. It doesn’t matter if it's a card table in the corner of your kitchen or a whole studio inside a pole barn out in the country (for which I fought long and hard). Just have that space where you can make your art and then go make it.
9. Rethink, repair, restore the booth. The booth is just as important as the artwork. Your acceptance into juried art shows totally depends on the four or five jury images you submit, as well as your artist statement. Those four or five images are what the judges utilize to decide your fate! And one of the four images is your booth! Time spent improving and maintaining the booth is definitely time well spent. Imagine how awesome it would be to start your new season with a whole new booth! Make it happen!
So, now that I’ve put in words how I plan to spend my time, it’s off to the studio for winter work!