How to stay motivated to paint when life is so busy.

My Story.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers what they would like for me to write about in upcoming blog posts. I received many questions, and I will do my best to address them in the coming weeks. One question that came up really struck my interest:

“How do you stay motivated to create when life is so busy?”

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This question is something that I have had to personally answer many times. As a full time stay at home mom, and a full-time artist, I can easily fill in all of the little chunks of “free time” that I have with other tasks: house cleaning, business needs (like taxes and social media), grocery shopping, meal planning, and prep, etc. I’m just as busy as anyone else, so I can’t say that I have a magic answer to this, but I do have some personal insight that may be helpful.

Here are 4 things that have helped me to consistently produce art.

  • made a promise to myself and I kept it.
  • made a promise to my followers to keep “showing up”, and I did.
  • wrote it down in a schedule, and seriously limited my time.
  • pretended that I had a boss that would be checking my work each week.

When I first started painting again, four years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would pick up my paints every single day. Most days, that meant painting during my son’s nap times (he was 2 1/2) at the time. However, I do remember a few times when he wouldn’t nap and I had to sketch in a sketchbook while he played in our backyard.

I announced my decision to social media. At the time, I didn’t have many followers at all, but the people who were following me (mostly being family and friends back then), knew that I had spent YEARS day-dreaming about doing art while never actually doing it.  Promising myself to them gave me something extremely helpful in combating artist  “creative block” ….accountability.

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When I was a Starbucks manager, I remember thriving on the high-demand multi-tasking: the oven would be beeping because the cookies were done, the drink orders required many levels of preparation simultaneously, and the milk delivery would almost inevitably arrive when we were at the height of our rush hour. I found that with my art business I really enjoyed having many balls in the air at the same time, however, if I didn’t write down a tentative daily plan, I would waste time doing tasks that were not essential to moving the needle in my business (such as painting). Keeping a schedule has been really important- and I would suggest it, even if you are just trying to create a little more art for yourself every day. Oh! and don’t give yourself TOO much time. You will get overwhelmed and feel defeated- you don’t need any of those feelings doing something so fun. 🙂

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I pretended that I had a boss. This one may sound silly, but I really did help me to make a habit to paint every single day. (you can blame my “type A” perfectionist approach to life on this tip.) When I was working outside of the home, I thrived in the corporate environment because I really enjoyed the challenge of reaching the next level- whatever it was. Pretending that I had someone else critiquing my work at the end of the week was really crucial to my motivation, and many times it was my husband that heard what my goals, challenges, and successes were instead of a scary “real” boss. haha!

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So, there you have it friends- the four things that have helped me to make a habit of painting (or drawing or making something) every day. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any tips you would like to share, or if you implement one of these tips and it’s helpful to you.

One thing is for sure, you won’t become an artist until you make art- so, get to making some! (and send me some photos when you’re done 😉 )

Happy painting!

xoxo,

Rachel

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photos by @mandaweaver

My fancy studio is in our bedroom.

My Story.

When I was in art school, I painted in an elaborate studio. We each had our own easels, were able to pretty much come and go as we pleased and had glorious floor-to-ceiling windows with abundant natural light. (You can see me way in the back with the clouds.)34635_144495152233396_416674_n

After graduating, I got tricked into thinking that my art space had to be large. I talked myself out of painting because I didn’t have the best easel or paints or space…the excuses went on and on. I moved into a small apartment and hung the clouds on the wall. 1928704_121444080214_9417_n

Then 15 years later when painting had, sadly, been put on the back burner, I realized that even my sketchbooks were dusty. The small tools that I DID have available to me were not even being used. There was a bigger issue at hand- I didn’t believe in myself.

It took encouragement from my husband for me to finally try my art again.

I started small, painting tiny 6″x6″ pieces. If I couldn’t paint something, I would grab my pencils and draw. I made a promise to myself not to get too wrapped up in WHAT I was doing just THAT I was doing it. Soon enough, I got more comfortable with my tools.

When we first walked into our 1950’s home in Salisbury,Md., we fell in love with the windows. Natural light burst thru them and the entire home felt like a breath of fresh air. We just knew we had to live there. (Here is a photo from when we had just moved in…sadly, none of those plants are still alive. ha!)1172268_10153176224720215_145980376_o

In our new home, I quickly discovered that the best light was in one particular east-facing corner…which happened to be in the master bedroom. I had tried to set up a “fancy” studio in our bonus room, but because it lacks temperature control it just isn’t the best place to store paper and paint. So, for the past 3 years, I have been faithfully painting daily from a small corner in our bedroom- finishing over 200 original pieces of art.

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Why am I writing all of this? Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting something because we think we don’t have all of the best equipment, the inspirational dedicated workspace or the talent. What we don’t realize is that the only way to become something is to start. We all have to start somewhere.

While I do dream of having a secluded space where I can paint and pack orders, this pretty little corner of our home works just fine for now.

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My encouragement to you is: start. Start doing that thing you’ve always wanted to try but were nervous you would fail doing. Start making promises to yourself and keep them.

You will never regret trying, you’ll only regret the fear that kept you from it.

xoxo,

Rachel (TheNapTimeArtist)

 

National Folk Festival 2018 in Salisbury, MD.

My Story.

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This year, my hometown of Salisbury, MD was privileged to host the 78th annual National Folk Festival. As one of the 23 selected tri-state artisans for the Festival Marketplace, I had the unique opportunity to showcase my work during this amazing event. And, although the three days presented major weather problems and huge logistical feats for our small town, in my opinion it could not have gone any better than it did.

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According to the festival’s website, “Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National has celebrated the roots, richness, and variety of American culture…. Some of the artists presented at the first festival are now legendary and the recordings and other documentation made possible by the National are precious. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy’s first performance on a desegregated stage was at the 1938 National. It was also the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, polka bands, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others.”

7 music stages, placed strategically along our downtown’s streets, gave people the opportunity to come together to hear some really incredible performances covering all genres. There were street performers, good eats and local cultural activities.

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Yesterday, I received a phone call from a reporter at The Daily Times of Salisbury. She wanted to ask me a few questions about my experience as a vendor, and to see if I had any suggestions on how things could be improved for the 2019 & 2020 Folk Festivals. I told her that I could not think of literally one thing that I would’ve changed about the festival itself. In my opinion, Salisbury really rose to the occasion and gave our community (and those beyond) a weekend FULL of memories and fellowship. Perhaps the only minor detail that could be addressed going forward would be to make it more clear that the artisans that were selected were LOCAL to Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula, and not traveling in with the musicians. I cannot tell you how many people were truly surprised when I mentioned that I live & work just about a mile from the festival grounds.

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Here are some of my favorite moments of my experience at the Festival Marketplace (and, I am sure that I could think of many, many more.)

  • seeing our entire community gathered together on common ground- in spite of cold, rainy conditions.
  • the overwhelming sense of community in the artisan tent amongst the other vendors that were participating. (and getting to meet some artists in person that I have respected for a very, very long time.)
  • having the opportunity to show my children (ages 3&5) each of the other artisan’s work in my tent, and explaining why I respect how they work with their hands.
  • being encouraged in person by people that have been following my work online, and hearing their stories of how they had initially found out about it.
  • spending quality time with my parents and husband as they helped out in the booth.
  • having the opportunity to encourage young artists who are either currently majoring in art at Salisbury University (my alma mater, too) or in high school taking art classes.
  • helping a Nicaraguan artist to learn how to make prints of his work so that he could ship them home to his family.
  • running into almost every person I have ever met in 23 years of living here.
  • hearing people’s unique stories about their travels (after they asked about the U.S watercolor map shown on my booth banner)
  • feeling a deep sense of pride to call Salisbury my hometown.

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So, to sum it all up, The National Folk Festival far exceeded my expectations. And, although it’s almost a year away, I am definitely day-dreaming about my application & art booth for 2019. Please make your plans to be there next year. You will not regret it (even if you need to bring rain boots and a poncho.)

Thank you, Salisbury, for allowing me to participate in my first-ever major art fair. If this is what soggy and windy feels like, I can’t wait for 80 and sunny.

Sincerely,

Rachel Alvarez of Rachel Alvarez Art 

**funny side note, during the weekend I went to get a mint out of my backpack. I opened my altoids tin only to realize that I had accidentally brought my homemade mini watercolor palette instead. ha! #artistproblems

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Photos by local Salisbury photographer, Manda Weaver

 

 

 

A Delmarvelous weekend – 48 hours of local fun in (and around) Salisbury, Md.

My Story.

Salisbury, Md. on Delmarva's Eastern Shore

 

I was born on a stretch of land on the Eastern Shore of Maryland called the Delmarva Peninsula, in the small town of Salisbury (population 33,114). Little did I know at the time that I would leave only to move back 3 different times. You see, when you grow up here, it’s easy to take things for granted.  When you are 16 wanting to go to a live concert, or 20 hoping for a bit of “city life”, you definitely won’t find it here. However, now as an adult, having lived a few different places, I fully understand now why people choose to “settle down” here.

 

To get here from anywhere west or south, you have to go over quite a few bridges or even drive into underwater tunnels. Perhaps, if you are a Marylander, you’ve only driven past Salisbury on your way to Ocean City or Assateague because that’s where ALL of the people go- (funny side story: when I first brought my Dominican husband to Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend of 2012 he asked, “are they giving away money or food?”)

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Image shown with permission : Zamonin

 

As a local, I do enjoy those other beach hangouts but usually only during off season (when I’m not snuggling up next to a stranger on my beach towel. …”what are you drinking?”). So, this post is all about my hometown- the places that I love to go to on a regular basis- and the places that I think that the locals would brag about. Honestly, it’s very hard to narrow down the list for this post but I’m gonna try to sum them up into one Delmarvelous weekend.

Here goes:

Day one:

  1. Start your day off right with a latte and breakfast from Rise Up  – A local favorite! Rise Up has the BEST local coffee. It’s Fair Trade and they have the happiest servers on the planet. Seriously. While you’re there, admire the beautiful window art painted by local artist Dean McNelia.
  2. Go to Pemberton Park for a hike on one of its many secluded trails. Make sure to read up on some of the history behind the planation home that was built there in 1741. Bring a book and sit at the picnic table surrounded by water.Pemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, MarylandPemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, Md.
  3. Roaring Point/Cove Beach – Take a country drive down Nanticoke Road to a pristine secluded beach on the bay (perfect for kids because there are no ocean waves to worry about). Stop by Westside Grocery, Bait & Tackle first to get your picnic lunch supplies. 20247947_10159119398720215_3921127018061044373_o
  4. Red Roost for dinner: crabs, fried chicken and corn on the cob. Two words- OLD BAY (seasoning) – a Maryland staple.
  5. Stay at the Whitehaven Hotel and go for an evening kayak or bike ride. (both are provided free of charge to guests.)

Day two:

  1. Take the Whitehaven Ferry over to Deal Island beach and search for beach glass. (make sure bring a bucket and to wear flip flops or beach shoes- some of the glass is still raw.) Deal Island Beach, Deal Island Maryland
  2. Drive down to the end of Deal Island Road to Wenona to see the crab shacks and boat slips of the local watermen.17545502_10158478543935215_4293836132741013794_o
  3. head over to Salisbury for lunch at Market Street Inn.
  4. take a walk thru the Salisbury City Park & Zoo– located in the heart of Salisbury.
  5. Visit the Ward Museum
  6. Dinner and local brews at Evolution Craft Brewing Co.
  7. Go to a Shorebirds Game- if you have kids, make sure bring extra money for the carousel and stay for the fireworks.

Well, there you have it folks. Here a summer fun itinerary for you. Our kids just had their very last day of preschool for the year, so we will be doing lots of exploring this summer. Can’t wait!

Be sure to follow along to read posts from some really fun guest bloggers from all 50 states! Next up: Arizona. We will hear from Alyssa Ryan from @alyssaryanphotography about her recent trip to Page, Arizona.

About the writer: Rachel Alvarez is a watercolor artist living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her work celebrates life’s simple pleasures. Her custom watercolor paintings and illustrations reflect a love for travel, adventure, memory making and family history. You can see more of her work or commission your own piece of art here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

Follow her on Instagram here: @rachelalvarezart

Want to follow along as we travel to all 50 states? Receive an email newsletter every two weeks and freebies & coupons along the way>here<. Thanks for following along!

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

 

 

*Please note: none of the content is this post was endorsed in any way.

Handmade with Love

My Story.

Last night I had the privilege of being interviewed by a lovely woman and artist, Linda Nance. She is the owner of Gotta Be Handmade. Here is a fun youtube video of the interview, where you’ll learn more about my process and inspiration. Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

You can see or purchase prints or notecards of the paintings that I share on this video here:

www.rachelalvarezart.com or www.etsy.com/shop/TheNapTimeArtist

Eat Well, Travel Often

My Story.

When I was in art school, I remember writing my “artist statement”. I can remember being reprimanded by my painting instructor who said that my chosen statement of “I like to paint pretty things” wasn’t creative enough. So, 15 years later, here is my new statement. Pretty much sums me and my art up in a single phrase.

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I am fascinated by color- whether it’s in an awesome cotton candy sunrise, a donut with sprinkles or a lush landscape. My portfolio is as diverse as my interests, but one thing is common: fresh and full of color. DSC_0350donutcopyOregon

So, as boring as “i like to paint pretty things” is, I am still doing it years later- with a side of donuts. www.rachelalvarezart.com