shop small Saturday

My Story.

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Shopping small is a way to support someone’s dream. I know this first hand! By supporting my art, you have allowed me the amazing blessing of staying at home with my two babies. That is what it’s done for me, but don’t just take my word for it.

Here is what some of my fellow artists, makers and dreamers said when I asked them
“why do you love running small business?”

* “It allows my schedule to be totally flexible to adjust to things that come up so I can be there for my family. (ex. field trips, helping out at school, sporting events, etc.) I get to set my schedule!!”
* “My boss is so kind, he feeds and buys me everything I want at the time.”
* “It allows me to stay at home with my 9m old daughter on weekends and pay bills, without the need for a second “full time” job.”
* “It helps me build self confidence and feel a sense of accomplishment.”
* “We can live in the country and I don’t have to go to work in an office.”
* “I have a son with autism, so I can be there for him.”
* “It’s providing a piece of my heart to others. I love hearing back from others of the joy it brings to them ❤️. ”

I am so incredibly thankful for your support of my art. To express it, I am giving all newsletter subscribers on my website a special coupon code to use this Saturday.

Want to receive one? Sign up HERE.

Thanks again for all of your words of encouragement, shares, likes and purchases.

Thank you so much for supporting my dream,

Rachel

www.rachelalvarezart.com

 

Nothing is ever a waste.

My Story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how so much of what I had done BEFORE I started an art business had been preparing me for what I am doing now. So, here’s my story- from seasonal worker at a music store, to Starbucks manager, to university store employee–and just about everything in between…

When I was 27, I put my 2 weeks notice in at Barnes & Noble, and took a job in Baltimore at an educational center for kids. I packed my things, moved away from my hometown, and landed in totally unknown territory— all because I couldn’t take the retail management world anymore that had sucked me in after art school.

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the best little apartment in the world.

 

Just 4 months after relocating, my boss, three co-workers and I were sent to a region meeting in D.C. There, we met over 300 other young professionals with bright eyes for their futures. Little did we know that the men standing in the back of the room were there to hand us our severance packages, and that we had just 2 weeks of work left, right before the holidays, before we were going to have to start our job searches all over again.

So, here I was back in the game just as fast as I had gotten out of it.

I vowed that I would NEVER, EVER work retail again. The long hours, and hard, physical labor just weren’t what I was hoping to be doing when I graduated from college. I applied to over 100 jobs- avoiding anything that even smelled like “customer service”.

I remember it well- that one day, about 2 months into my job search (think economic depression of 2008…),  when I had called my mom and broken down into tears. It had never taken me so long to find a job before, and the pressure of life was really starting to weigh me down. She reassured me that all of my previous experiences would be helpful to me now, and that my job was right around the corner.

Later that same day, I found myself at a Starbucks for an interview with two women who were starting an art school for kids and were considering me as an instructor. “Finally, something art related”, I thought.

Picture this:

We meet outside, all dressed in business attire, portfolios/resumes in hand, and go in to order our coffee-

“What can I get for you?”

me: “tall black coffee, please.”

woman #1: “I’ll have a medium half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.”

woman #2: “Medium Pumpkin Spice latte, 4 shots, extra hot.”

We sit down at a round table, and awkwardly begin the interview process while we wait for our drinks.

Barista arrives and delivers all three at the same time. I pick up the small cup.

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The two women I was with sat there, confused as to which coffee was theirs. I picked one up, slid the sleeve down the side of the cup, and said: “this is a half-caff, extra foam, sugar free caramel latte.” They looked stunned. One woman reached for her drink. “How did you know which one was which?! That’s amazing!”…..”I used to be a manager at a Starbucks”—

Right there, in that very moment, I realized that all of the times that I had scrubbed the cafe floor on my hands and knees, daydreaming about a different career, those moments would lead me up to this day. It was, and still is, a clear moment of clarity: wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you could be preparing yourself for your dream.

I had been tricked- I’d wasted way too much time thinking that the grass would be greener. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I went out on a limb and applied for my business license.

What does this have to do with being an artist, you ask?

Things are different now.

When I do the mundane boring tasks, such as taxes and inventory, I think: these things wouldn’t have been available to do if I had not had any customers this year.

When I package my boxes to ship, I use tools that I learned to use when I was packing books, cds and college merchandise in my previous retail jobs.

When I get a great product review from a customer, I think of the people who used to ask me  (in a sarcastic voice)  why I was in RETAIL instead of being an “real artist”. To which I would respond: it’s an art to help customers, and I really do enjoy doing it.
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When I write my thank- you notes for customer orders, I think of all of the times that I wasn’t able to help the customer find that one “book with a blue cover”, but went the extra mile trying. (bookstore people, you know what I am talking about).

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photo from Pinterest (oneillibrary) to prove that this happens.

When I set up for art shows now, I think about the overnight shifts I worked to get the tables merchandised and ready for the holiday rush.

I still drink coffee, lots of coffee.

I still LOVE helping customers, and get to do it from my own home.

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So, wherever you are right now- whatever you are doing- enjoy the moment.

You are still an artist, even if you’re not painting.

I’m leaving’ on a jet plane…

My Story.

This past month has been so fun in my little world of watercolor.

I am now 80% done with a project that I have faithfully worked on, daily, for the past 4 months. Over 150 hours of painting and endless hours of sketching, planning, scanning, editing- repeating.

I still have a ways to go but, in the process, I have visited some of the most amazing places in my wanderlust imagination:

South Dakota

Massachusetts

Indiana-coming soon

Missouri

Kentucky -coming soon

Nebraska

Oklahoma

Illinois

Lousiana

Ohio

New Hampshire-coming soon

 

This project has afforded me the opportunity to be increasingly astonished with the amount of natural beauty that I have within road-trip-travel-time of my home. My mind is swirling with daydreams of a summer cross country trips to all of these amazing places. I’m using this project as a virtual bucket list for my vacation plans. So, in reality, I am not painting- I am handwriting a HUGE map of places I’ll go – but with a paintbrush instead of a pen.

Someday world, someday.

Interested in seeing the rest of this series or some of my other work?

Please check out my website www.rachelalvarezart.com

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

There is a secret place…

My Story.

When I first moved to Baltimore I really loved the hustle and bustle that you can experience in a city.  After a year, however, the novelties of traffic-jams and constant sound got to me and I was missing the serenity of nature.  Thankfully, some friends of mine told me about a good hiking spot. Over the next 2 years I ended up exploring this new place in and out.  I remember hiking so much that the soles of my boots literally fell off and I had to tie them on with shoelaces to get back.

There were moments, during those times, that the reward for the hike was SO worth the work it took to get there.  This was one of those days.

Today I finished layer 2.

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Winter is a comin’

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Last night it dropped down to 53 degrees. While I don’t like winter all that much, I do like hot chocolate, slippers and hoodies. Saturday I started working on a new painting. Sunday I took the day off and had some tea. Today I worked on the same piece for about an hour and a half.

Winter in Assateague

Winter in Assateague

Works in progress

My Story.

Today I spent a little over 2 hours painting.  That is about the norm for the last 2 weeks or so. It’s been so nice to get the brushes wet, turn on my Fleet Foxes Pandora station and disappear into the studio for a little bit.  It’s amazing what a couple hours of focused art can do for a person.

For me, since I paint landscapes primarily, it is an opportunity to focus on the beauty that is around me.  Sometimes days, weeks and years seem to fly by.  With painting, however, it is available to capture a single moment in time- and hold it there. It’s kind of like getting the opportunity to breathe in that fresh air again.

In the last 2 weeks I have started 7 new paintings and completed 3.  It’s been a great challenge to stay motivated, focused and energetic.  Here is what I have so far:

NapTime Series

NapTime Series

This week I have already completed another 6×6 small work that isn’t pictured here.  It will be fun to see what I can finish in the limited NapTime that I have.