the new easel | small things become bigger things

Marian ParsonsArt, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting51 Comments

I have had mixed feelings about selling my paintings from the 100 Meadows Project.  I knew I would be embarrassed by some of them.  Many of them.  Would I regret sending them out into the world?  Would I regret that my “practice” is hung on someone’s wall?

I haven’t found a definitive answer to that question, but, while I may someday regret it, I am glad I sold them.  Yep.  Gladness and regret mingling in oxymoronic fashion.

It made me think back to the first few years of my business and I realized that I’ve been selling services and created goods while refining my craft all along.  Even as I was just learning to paint murals, I sold them to people.  My early upholstery pieces, with all of their puckers and imperfections, were sold.  As I was learning which paints and stains and finishes I liked, all of those guinea pig pieces were sold as well.

And yes, sometimes I feel sheepish about someone owning my amateur work.  Sometimes I feel the urge to hunt them all down, so I can dole out apologies and refunds.  But, then I remind myself that all of those imperfect pieces are a part of my story and the people who bought them became willing participants in that story.  And if I didn’t sell the pieces I was learning on, my business never would’ve grown to where it is now.

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

There’s the confidence boost that comes from someone liking your creation enough to pay good money for it.  It spurs you on to create more.  And the more you create, the quality of your work increases.

There is also the practical side of things.  When you sell your work, you have money coming in to buy supplies, to reinvest.

That is the main reason I decided to sell my oil paintings even if I’m just at the very beginning of this artistic journey.  They could go in a cabinet (or the trash) or they could become something bigger.  I did the math.  100 paintings at an average of $30/each (some were more and some were less) equals $3,000 and that’s nothing to sneeze at.  (That’s a strange expression, now that I type it out.  What monetary amount would be sneeze-worthy?)

Anyway, I can do a lot with that and I did!  I spent that money on art/painting books and other educational resources, like online classes.  I bought brushes, paints, and replenished my supply of canvases.  I saved up the bulk of it, though, for my biggest purchase…a counterweight easel (affiliate link) that will grow with me and work for me for years.

When I first went easel shopping, I decided to purchase an inexpensive lyre easel, knowing it would do the trick, but I might want to upgrade if I’m painting a lot.  It has been completely adequate and I could’ve used it for many years, but I found it to be unstable at times, a little rickety, it wasn’t easy to adjust, and I was really wishing it was on wheels.

I researched easels for weeks and the Sienna studio counterweight easel is the one I kept coming back to.  Not only is it functional, but it is pretty.  I found a less expensive counterweight easel, but I hated the way it looked!  I opted to wait and save for the one I really wanted.

When the cash was in the bank, I shopped around for the best price (Amazon was the lowest I found and it had free shipping).  I had it in the cart and was ready to buy it, but I still hesitated for a couple of days.  I felt like it might be overkill to get this huge counterweight easel when I’m painting mostly on 5 x 7 canvas panels!  I knew, though,  that one day I would be glad I had a versatile easel that will allow me to paint as big as I want.

For those who are interested (or curious), the advantage of having the easel counterweighted is that I can move the canvas holder up and down with just a touch.  That means I can transition from sitting to standing and back again without having to make adjustments to a rickety easel.  I can also adjust the angle of the easel from completely vertical to tilted.  And, it’s super sturdy and on wheels, so I can chase the light around the studio.  Basically, it does everything I need it to do or may need it to do in the future.

I’m enjoying it so much and it’s a tangible reminder how small things can become bigger things.

Whatever your creative endeavor may be…painting, making, stitching, sketching, writing, decorating, baking…  I want to encourage you to put yourself and your work out there even if you’re still learning and growing.  If you wait until everything is perfect, well, it might never be perfect enough.  And you might be missing out on the encouragement (not to mention the income) that can spur you on to get even better…

Coming up this week…the reveal of our finished hardwood floors, some progress in the office and dining room, and an awesome craigslist find that convinced me to break my no-spend February…  (And I still need to show the updates my mom and I made to the playroom!)

the new easel | small things become bigger things

Related Posts

“better to create crap than to not create at all”

new paintings for sale & quiet in a busy season

finding the perfect paint for art journaling

no-sew custom dinner napkins & fabric launch

51 Comments on “the new easel | small things become bigger things”

  1. Thank you. I really enjoyed what you said in this post,it encouraged me and inspires me. I just recently started my Instagram account [within_thesewalls ] and was so nervous , my house still needs ALOT of work. Everyone has been very sweet and encouraging. I am enjoying sharing the things I like and the things that are not so perfect.😬 It is a nice creative outlet for a stay at home mommy. Maybe one day it will be lucrative, if not ,that’s ok. It’s so nice to know people like what you do and that we can all support and help others. The support really does spur you on to create more and better things.🙌🏻

  2. Great post! One thing that stood out about putting your work out there – people purchased your work because they liked it – what you may see as imperfection spoke to someone enough that they wanted to own it. I love how you have reinvested your earnings to help grow your passion. Taking the time to write out your thought process was really inspiring to me. And the easel looks GREAT with your other furnishings.

  3. I was at the Ralph Lauren store in Paris, and they were using one of these heavy easels as a television stand for a flat-screen t.v. It was ingenius. So, if you ever stop painting, and please don’t, you can always repurpose it.

  4. Dear Marian,
    To me, it’s all relative. I’ve had many opportunities to view art in museums. Some of that art was unbelievable and some just “meh.” But, above it all, it’s not up to me. What I see as “meh,” another might see as a masterpiece. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Your paintings are endearing to so many because they “know” and love you. But, your work (interiors, upholstery, furniture, signage, and now oil painting) are also inspirational. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

  5. Wow, that is wonderful. I have serious artist envy over here at that easel. *GOALS* It is just gorgeous, and you will definitely grow with it, no questions. Congratulations on investing in your practice!

  6. I don’t know many artists who end up fully happy with a piece, certainly not all pieces.
    Your art may sell in part because it is yours and not random piece found in thrift store but that’s the same as someone paying for a Monet and not random impressionist. The value is what people give to it.
    I like the idea of putting stuff out there, and I’d add that it is important to value oneself. It may mean putting what a person sees as practice up cheap, but it’s also important to recognise the value of what one does and pricing accordingly.

    Side note on a language point (not being mean), gladness and regret together would be ambivalence. Oxymoron is a term which holds conflicting parts, like Military Intelligence (for the joke) 🙂

  7. I feel that way about music stands for my kids. You can buy a cheap, folding one and it works OK, but an expensive, heavy-duty, stable one makes playing music so much better and cuts down on frustration.

    As far as your sheepishness about selling your work: I think every artist feels that way. My husband is a professional writer and he always sees flaws in his work after he sends it to the publisher. At some point you have to let it go. The products of our creativity were meant to be shared. And if they give financial support, so much the better!

    1. As a music teacher, I have to wholeheartedly agree about the music stands! Please just spend the money for a good one (heavy/sturdy) in the first place so your child (and their teacher!) doesn’t have to contend with all the problems a lightweight one brings.

  8. Marian,
    You are an inspiration and I have so enjoyed following your journey. It does take courage to put your work out there for others to see and buy. I bought 2 of your prints and I think they’re so beautiful. I can’t wait to frame them and hang them in my home. I am in awe of people who create things. It’s like they pour a piece of themselves into it. The learning process and seeing someone using their talents and developing them is so awesome.
    What if your son used the other easel to paint with you? That would be a fun thing to see, if you both worked on the still works. Thank you for continuing to share what you’re working on, especially the things you’re not happy with because you can see how far you’ve come and that it takes work and practice to develop a talent. There’s truth and beauty in that.

  9. I was speaking with my BFF this AM and wondering aloud why I always feel discontented with my home. I just never seem to reach a level of pleasure in it. As I read your post, I had an epiphany. I settle, always settle for the medium price medium look. My tastes (and desires run to the HIGH end) but my pocketbook does not. So I settle. Settling is never the best. It breeds discontent, thus causing more expense in the end. Your post pointed it out in stark relief for me today.

    1. I used to buy lots of less expensive things and felt like it was a real victory! I stretched my dollar as far as it could go. I came to realize that I valued one really great piece over five that I wasn’t in love with. Things that seem out of reach can often be saved for, but it just takes time and patience (and not buying those “settle” things while you wait!)

  10. How is it that you so often write exactly what I need to hear? I’ve been making dolls for a few years, and while most of them have been for my youngest children and my grandchildren, I need to get over the fear of listing them for sale. I have listed a couple in the past, but it’s so HARD to put a piece of yourself out for others to see and place value on. (I think you know this). A few unkind words at the beginning of my making journey has really made me unsure of my ability and style. I’m going to try and put that fear aside and list all my finished dolls for sale this week. Because you’re right, I can’t get better unless I practice more, and practicing requires more materials, which requires more money.

    Thank you, Marian, for writing this.

    1. Oh, Tanya, I’m so sorry you received negativity instead of encouragement early in your journey. So often, it’s easy to listen to the minority who offers criticism. I hope you can tune that out and focus on the people who love and want to buy your dolls.

      Whenever I get negative feedback, I remember that even the iPhone has negative reviews and I think it’s an amazing device! Even the very best artists, most talented singers, most celebrated authors have people who hate their work! If you have critics, you’re in good company. 🙂

  11. Love your work especially when you label it as to location. My father was an artist and his only regret was that the didn’t “go out into the field” to paint. I am probably the only person in the world
    who likes the smell of turpentine because it reminds me of him.

    I hope you sign your work for posterity. I have a small canvas of a sea scape that is old and unsigned and
    very interesting. I often wonder who painted it and the location. It has a lovely gilt frame so
    someone though enough to give it a proper frame.

    1. Mary, my mother is an artist as well and the smell of turpentine is one of my fondest childhood memories. 🙂

    2. I have been signing my work on the canvas, but I do need to start writing on the back with details of when it was painted, where, etc. I will start doing that in this next series.

  12. Each post you make inspires me! I am a retired art teacher who now can actually have the time to create art. I do oil paintings and water color. Please keep doing what you love. Don’t worry about putting yourself out there with anything that might not be perfect.
    Artists get better with lots of practice .i also love your writing skills and so many talents to share . Thank you a million times

  13. Thanks for your reflection back on your beginnings!! And the encouragement to not be afraid to try. Sometimes I wonder what am I doing? Is this worth it? I am not really that good am I? Well, if it makes me happy and makes me fell creative then it is worth it. And you validated it!!! God bless. You have a gift.

  14. Great post!

    Pssss! Plus you still need to show us ALL the curtains and finish those for the studio.
    PLUS “how to”.

    1. Yes! I had that on the list as well, but thought it might be too ambitious to promise this week. That is coming, though. The fabric arrived and I just need a free day to do it.

  15. I thought all of your paintings were just so pretty, and I could definitely see how there was great improvement over the course of that series. You are definitely a natural talent! And your new easel is beautiful and looks great in your studio!

  16. The new easel is a pretty piece of furniture that goes really well in your studio . It also adds an air of mystery for most us. Without your narrative, we wouldn’t know what the heck it was.

    Thanks for the encouragement, as well as the example, to put our creatve work out there despite their imperfections.

  17. Marian, Hi, I love how you wrote this,
    thanks, I feel many of those same feelings.
    <3
    Wonderful Encouragement, thankyou so much!

  18. P.S. !!!
    Your paintings were beautiful and “YOU”..I loved watching as you as went from 1 – 100!
    I look forward to more!
    YOUR PORTRAITS!!! were incredibly beautiful…..!!!!!
    I loved your style!!!!
    You’ve done so well with your move and continuing on with all you do, thanks for your honest sharing like you do <3

  19. I am so glad that you did sell them. I love mine! I like the idea you have of adding the information on the back of the canvas. That would be a great added touch.

  20. My grandmother was an artist and all round creative person. I learned so much from her. I have her easel, I don’t use as much as I should. It is big and heavy. A friend offered to purchase the easel from me. I could not part with it. It has a plaque with her name, and all the stray oil paint around where she would have her canvas. I will use it more when we move, as there will be a dedicated room for me.

  21. I know just how you feel about your art work. I paint for mostly charity auctions and am always amazed how high the bidding goes, but when I do a commissioned painting I feel bad about the pricing and if it is good enough. I am in my sixties and still have that insecure little girl mentality about the worth of my talent. I love the sweet quality of your paintings and may I assure you, they are worth what the people are willing to pay! There are no mistakes in Art only a different opinion and eye. Love your positive and happy blog. Your spirit comes through in all you do. Many blessings!

  22. Your any talents are so inspiring! You have given me such encouragement to at the very least try!! THank you for sharing all your work with the world! I get so excited when I read your stories! I don’t think I have your energy but at least I can say you have most definitely encouraged me to just get busy with what I love and let it lead me where it will!! I love all you do!! So so grateful for your inspiration MArion! God bless you!!

  23. Lovely, beautiful post Marian, it’s good to know you share those same sentiments as I do. Love your easel , I think in the end it was the perfect choice for you.
    Thanks a bunch for the encouragement, very much needed!

  24. Hi Marian, As others have said those people wanted to buy your paintings – no body held them up at gun point!! 🙀They likes what they saw & wanted some original art.
    That easel is so beautiful it goes with your cupboard so beautifully. It’s a real piece of furniture. ( I wouldn’t want to get paint on it though!).

  25. Marian, great post! As others have commented – very encouraging! I find that there are things I want to try or do but I don’t – because it won’t be “perfect”. Thank you!

  26. First, I am green with jealousy over your beautiful easel. I have a cheap, rickety, tabletop model. Second, I have stacks, yes stacks, of paintings that I have no room to hang. I either think they are good and I don’t want to give them up or I think they are bad and no one would want them. Maybe I should take a chance and see if someone wants them instead of letting them just sit in stacks.

  27. Your new easel is gorgeous! It’s like a fine piece of furniture. Your honest admission to your own self-doubt is so amazing because you’re so talented. It’s what makes you relateable and your encouragement of others admirable. I’m glad I read this because I just finished a book draft and wrestle with the negativity and fear of it not being good enough. Thank you Marian.

  28. Omg, I totally have easel envy! …aaaand believe me, you are NOT alone in wanting to apologize for your paintings. It happens to me all the time! I think i apologized to you for Gwendolyn and the painting right there in the first photo! I looouuve your easel… and it’s on wheels, i can’t even….

  29. Oooh! The new easel is a BEAUTY! ‘Looks flexible & secure. It’s not to the left of the green drawers because the old one isn’t still there?
    Ma’am amature artists are given high praise for their heart & courage & simlicity…. You may be famous & sought after by folk who pay thousands for small treasures from you. You are famous to us now for your heart & courage & ENERGY & diversity of productivity.

  30. I am so looking forward to seeing what you create on this lovely easel. I have really been enjoying your artwork journey. Thanks so much for all you share! I have a question about that lovely cupboard. I love the wood color. Is this a piece that you refinished to give it that warm wood color? We have a similar piece that my husband’s mother painted a lovely teal shade; I think often of either stripping the paint and using it in a natural wood tone, or repainting it another color that work better in my house. I’ve never refinished a piece of furniture…but you are inspiring me to take on new things.

  31. Great post! It is hard to put oneself out there, but it’s so human and heartfelt! As a novice yoga teacher, I am feeling the same about my craft. Forward Ho – I say! Love this blog! Thank you for the inspiration!

  32. I am so proud of you in selling your paintings … They are beautiful and you are blessed to have this inspiration of painting I love the easel and continue to grow with your love of painting

  33. What an encouraging post! Although I do not provide things I’ve made for people to purchase from me, I do have a small business with a well known direct marketing company I’ve started to work with again. I was feeling inadequate because I had let my previous experience and knowledge slide but this post has encouraged me to push on and bring things “up to date”. The more you do, the better you get. Thank you!

  34. Someone else may have already given you this, but I didn’t want to read through all 49 comments. 🙂 I love researching stuff, so here ya go:
    Interesting fact In the 17th century, sneezing was considered a symbol of status as people believed it cleared their head and stimulated their brain. Soon sneezing at will became a way to show one’s disapproval, lack of interest and boredom. The first recorded use of the phrase in its current negative form, was in 1799, in a play by John Till Allingham: ‘Fortune’s Frolic’: “Why, as to his consent I don’t value it a button; but then £5000 is a sum not to be sneezed at.”

  35. Thanks for your message! I have so many things I have created, i.e. decoupaged boxes and trays, needlepoint canvases, etc., and I’d love to sell them and buy more supplies. Every time I see a notice about upcoming craft shows, I talk myself out of getting a spot. I would really like to create for actual income when my husband retires in a year, so I’d have to get over this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *