Labor Day Painting Sale & Life Update

Labor Day Sale!-2

This may be the longest it’s ever been since my last update. I’ve been trying to plan better and be more consistent in my business and in life but, as they often do, unforeseen obstacles have gotten in the way.

I guess it’s finally time to admit that our relocation has been more of a nightmare than an adventure. I tried to be optimistic and make the best of it, and I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed certain aspects of life in this area, but “normal moving stress” and obnoxious neighbors gave way to a series of disappointments, specifically a lack of business and personal connections, and finally what I consider betrayal from our friends/Joe’s business partner who we followed here.

This is probably not the place to go into detail, so suffice it to say that they behaved with incredible selfishness and unprofessionalism and, intentionally or not, did a lot of damage to our lives and the gym. And in the end, they weren’t the ones to stick around and deal with it. It’s hard to explain in such vague terms without sounding like I’m being petty, but I’ don’t want to start drama, I just feel the need to share what’s been going on in order to move forward.

It didn’t help that I was, and still am, trying to manage recurring major depression with basically no support system. I think the hardest part was losing faith in myself and other people, because the red flags were all there. We knew better. But whether out of goodwill or desperation, we gave the benefit of the doubt anyway. Either way, it’s shocking to be treated like nothing more than a means to an end by people who said they cared. At least I’ve learned that my instincts are usually right, if I would just listen to them.

As all of this was coming to an end, Joe found out with about a month’s notice that he’d be deploying for the fourth time. We knew this was a possibility and I was honestly never sold on living here, so my backup plan was – surprise! – temporarily moving to Asheville, where I hope the plentiful art, good food, nice people, and beautiful mountains will remind me what it feels like to enjoy life.

You may remember I’ve tried this before, and maybe I’m being stupid, but logistically it’s more realistic this time. We’re just renting and we want to move closer to town anyway, so in between, I’ll put most of our stuff in storage and find a small place for me and the cats.

My online inventory may change a bit as I try to take advantage of local shows, galleries, and other activities, but I plan to keep my shop running and updated. Maybe I’ll even blog and make YouTube videos again! Either way, I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration for new projects.

So on that note, I’m participating in Etsy’s Labor Day sale with 30% off all paintings in My Shop, including minis, magnets, and ornaments, to try to reduce some of my larger/more damageable stock before I have to pack it. It runs from the August 30th to September 3rd with a preview today.

If you’ve read this far, I want you to know that even though I’ve fallen behind with certain things, it has meant the world to me to have my business and its growing support network to focus on through these struggles. I may have largely gone without friends or opportunities in person, but at least there’s the Internet, right? So thank you guys and I hope you’ll stick with me and see what’s next in the coming months!

Website Update & Clearance Sale

After careful consideration, I have decided to close my Shopify store for now. I really wanted to have a fully functioning ecommerce website of my own, but unfortunately it has not brought in enough sales to cover the fees or the time I spend updating it. I know I could have done a better job of self-promotion, but right now it’s just not realistic.

This is not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to running my Etsy shops, I finally have my items in two brick and mortar stores, one local and one in another state. Simplifying my online presence a bit will help me keep up with everything.

I’m adding pages to this blog, which will serve as my website going forward and will link to my Etsy. I will also be moving my art listings back over to my jewelry shop, so when you click over to the shop page, everything is in one place. They even offer guest checkout now, which is convenient for new customers.

So before I close in about a week, please take advantage of 50% off any remaining items at NoelleLewisArt.com with coupon code “CLOSING50.” Of course, you will still be able to purchase my art, jewelry, and other items any time on Etsy, but I won’t be doing sales like this often! 

I probably could have made things easier for myself (and maybe less annoying for you) with better planning, but much like life, building a business is a learning process. So thanks for staying up-to-date, and please let me know if you have any suggestions! 

Local Update: Handmade Marketplace Booth

About a year after relocating, I finally found a local spot to sell my handmade items. 

If you didn’t read my post about moving, my husband left active duty military to start a gym with some friends. I chose to be optimistic that our relocation would be an adventure and not a disappointment. I guess it’s been a little of both. 

Besides the usual stress of moving and the challenges of adjusting to civilian life, we have had some unexpected difficulties and found ourselves pretty isolated in the life we choose to live as business owners. But we have enjoyed slowing down, spending more time together, and finding little things to appreciate about this unique and interesting area.

I had also planned to get my work into some local shops or galleries, and for a while, my search was very discouraging. But I finally found a new shop in Lebanon that specializes in handmade, recycled, and vintage items from local artists and businesses. As soon as they had a booth I could afford, I reserved it. Now there’s a little display in the back full of my jewelry, accessories, cards, and even a few paintings. 

I’m hopeful that this will be a great opportunity for me, not only as a way to grow my business, but a way to be a little more involved in the community. Check out The Marketplace at the Mill’s Facebook Page, and if you’re local, see my stuff and more in the shop upstairs! 

Thoughts on Color Theory and Being Yourself

I finally got a chance to buy Polymer Clay Color Inspirations by Lindly Haunani and Maggie Maggio, a book I’ve had my eye on for a while, and so far I am not at all disappointed.

The book is about color theory, color mixing, and choosing colors for a project. I’m actually pretty good at the mixing part; making decisions is where it gets tricky for me. In addition to both of those issues, the book includes some very interesting information on how we relate to different colors for different reasons. 

It also contains some exercises. I skipped ahead to one where you mix each of six basic colors with a little of each of the colors next to it and a little of each of white, gray, and black. It shows how some colors change more than others due to pigment strength.


I really enjoyed seeing all the variations together, and knowing I’d have a reference point for future projects. But I was a little disappointed when I got to yellow, one of my favorite colors. Most of the finished palettes were essentially 12 different versions of the original color. But the yellow ended up turning mostly orange, green, and brown. 

Suddenly I felt like I could really relate to the color yellow. It’s not any less awesome than the other colors, but gets overpowered by them anyway.

I’ve been going through some personal stuff that has really driven home the feelings of worthlessness that can come with living as an artist with depression. I’m not saying I want a different life, but I do get tired of being dismissed by people because my problems aren’t as visible as theirs and my priorities are somehow less important. 

That being said, I’m also trying to stop being a pushover. Making your own decisions means you can’t please everyone. I still consider other people, but I actually think you can do that better if you take care of yourself first. 

It seems we’re all a little bit like colors. Those around us can bring out the beauty in us, or they can turn us into things we’re not. We can lose ourselves in other people’s needs and expectations. 

So if you can relate to yellow, too, I hope you will give yourself permission to prioritize what you want and believe in. After all, it’s your life.

Mixed Media Beach & Floral Art

A couple years ago I started experimenting with combining my two favorite mediums, acrylic paint and polymer clay. I painted simple backgrounds and created basic dimensional shapes, then combined them together on canvas boards. The first set was floral-themed.

Meanwhile, through my jewelry making, I’ve been developing my polymer clay caning skills. So when I got back to my mixed media work, I started making the clay embellishments more detailed. 

I also received some acrylic mediums as a gift. Some of the textures worked perfectly for sand and waves, so I made a beach set for summer, incorporating more clay pieces as focal points for more detail and dimension.


It’s wonderful to find that two great things can be even better together. The larger pieces, some of which can go together as pairs, would accent a room nicely, and the smaller ones can be used as bookshelf art. I even made some magnets! You can find them on My Website or My Etsy Shop. I had a lot of fun creating these pieces and hope you will enjoy them too.

Website Update – New Platform

Last year I decided to try again with running a website in addition to my Etsy shops. I committed to a six month plan with Weebly, and my bare minimum goal was to make enough sales to cover the fees. It took me almost the full six months, and only one of those sales came from someone I didn’t already coordinate with elsewhere, but it happened (and I appreciate every single order). 

So I’m going to continue running my website, but with a different platform. Weebly was easy to use, reasonably affordable, and had most of the features I wanted. But for a few dollars more (or less, depending on the timeframe) Shopify will give me a couple things that were missing from my site, as well as the ability to sell directly on Facebook and Pinterest.

It’s taken some work to get set up again, and to keep a website going in general, but I’m excited about having even more possibilities for my business. Customers will have more ways to shop, and I hope to be able to focus on doing my best work instead of competing with what’s trendy in a certain marketplace or trying to keep up with constant updates (I’m referring to Etsy, of course, but I will still be taking advantage of their built-in traffic). 

I’m starting with a monthly plan but would love to commit to a year as soon as I can afford it. This would save me a little money, but mostly it would motivate me to make it work. I think most of my failed attempts to branch out in the past were not so much about the platform but the fact that I wasn’t ready and didn’t realize how long it would take to see results. 

This year has gotten off to a rough start but I think things are going in a good direction and I hope I’m right. So if you would like to support my work, please check out The New Shop, share with some friends, or give some feedback here. If you’re a fan of My Facebook Page, you can use the discount coupon at the top of the page for your first purchase! 

Vote to Decide What I Paint Next!

I mentioned that one of my goals for the year is to finish one painting a month. This will be a bit of a challenge with my main focus being on selling jewelry, so I’m going to go ahead and say it counts when I finish a long-time work-in-progress or do a commission. Either way, painting is really important to me and I want to spend more time on it.

I also take A LOT of nature photos. Between those, my product photos, and photos of my cats, I constantly have a storage problem on my phone. But more to the point, I’ll probably never paint all of them and it’s hard to choose between them. 

So I started a photo album on my Facebook Business Page where you can vote on what I’ll paint next. No obligation to buy, of course, but you get to be involved in the creative process, and I get some help deciding what to do next. If you happen to be interested in buying, I can also do custom work.

If that sounds like fun, head over to my Reference Photo Album and start liking & commenting on your favorite photos, or share the album with your friends! 

Blog Name Change & Other Updates

With the coming of the new year, I am making some changes to my online presence. Specifically, I am cancelling my website and Shopify shop for now. I put a lot of work into them but unfortunately they were not successful enough to justify all the fees.

It’s a little depressing giving up on things, but it also gives me a chance to refocus on what I am doing – my blog and my Etsy and Amazon shops. So for that reason, I am changing my blog name from Hold My Broom to Noelle Lewis Art to represent my business.

I have mixed feelings about this too. My husband helped me come up with the original Cinderella-inspired name to symbolize taking breaks from life with creative projects. But that’s not really where I am anymore; my creative work sort of is my life now.

That said, I don’t plan to change much as far as my blog posts are concerned. I hope the name change – as well as a new theme and some new pages – gives a little more clarity and consistency, but I also hope to keep a little personality in my writing. And wherever you are in your life, I hope you can find a little inspiration here.

In other news, I have a bunch of new earring wire options in the shop, like sterling silver, hypoallergenic bronze, and 22k gold plated (shop earring section).

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the changes! 

Handmade at Amazon and the aSHEville Museum

It’s been a crazy week, helping my husband out while a gym-related injury has kept him medicated and lying on the floor in pain. Sometimes he works out too hard, but then again, sometimes I craft until sunrise. What can I say, we are passionate people.

But we’re starting to get back on track and I have some exciting things coming up.

I try not to say a lot of negative stuff  about Etsy. It’s worked for me and I’ve never really had a bad experience. But I’m a little concerned with the direction they are going at the moment, and it’s generally a good idea to try more than one thing anyway. 

Maybe that’s why I was intrigued when other sellers started talking about a new handmade marketplace at Amazon. There are some worries about higher fees and customer expectations regarding price and processing times. But the much higher traffic rates could be a great opportunity for a shop like mine to grow. I wasn’t invited like some people, but I applied and was accepted.

I was also contacted by the aSHEville museum, a women’s cultural museum in nearby Asheville, NC, about consigning some of my jewelry. This could also be a great way to get exposure for my work, possibly a chance to connect with other creative women, and an excuse to visit my new favorite city. 

This all feels a little intimidating but very exciting. I think I’m at a point with my business where I’m starting to figure out specifically what I want to be doing, and I hope these opportunities will help me share that. 

So I am currently setting up my Amazon profile and products, and I will be making some extra jewelry sets for the museum. It’s going to be a busy month or so. Then we’re visiting family in California for my brother’s wedding, and after that I’ll be preparing for the holidays. So basically a busy rest of the year! But hopefully worth it.

Let me know what you think about Handmade at Amazon – would you sell or shop there?

Meanwhile, here’s the sunflower set I just finished to go with the poppy one. There are also magnets and cards. If you’re on Twitter, follow @NoelleLewisArt and keep an eye out for a giveaway! 

Sunflower 3D mixed media painting
  
Sunflower mini 3D painting
  
Sunflower art jewelry set
 

Rearranging Etsy Shops / Reintroducing Art Jewelry

There’s nothing like starting your day with new orders in both of your Etsy shops. Admittedly, this basically never happens for me, but today was a good day.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little update on what I’m doing with those two Etsy shops. It’s probably annoying how often I change things, but I’m still figuring out what works and I don’t want anyone to be confused in the meantime.

I’ve always sold jewelry in my first shop, PasticheAccessories, albeit with changing styles and mediums over the years, and recently ornaments and cake toppers to supplement seasonal sales. Since I opened my second shop, NoelleLewisArt, I have been using it to separate out my paintings.

But I’ve realized I have at least two different styles of jewelry – the stuff that’s fun and popular like my movie and fitness themed items, and the stuff that’s artsy and time consuming such as my landscape cane pieces. 

I want to allow the one to shine without discontinuing the other, so I’m experimenting with moving some of what I’m calling “art jewelry” over to my fine art shop. This will allow me to have more appropriate branding and pricing, and maybe give me a foot in the door for selling more paintings. Meanwhile, my jewelry shop can remain more or less as it is. 

I will also be offering some items discounted sets as the holidays approach – for example, $5 off when you buy a matching necklace and earrings – and possibly a free shipping coupon in case someone orders from both shops and I can combine shipping. This came up today with an international order, which of course is not cheap to ship. 

So let me know if you have any thoughts on this change, as a customer or as a fellow seller! And here’s a peek of the newest collection being posted in my art shop – I’m also working on a sunflower version!

 

Poppy Fields Mixed Media Painting
  
Poppy Fields Mini Mixed Media Painting
  
Poppy Fields Necklace, Earrings, and Barrette