Hi there,

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through 2020? I hope the year has presented fantastic opportunities and adventures for you thus far. On my side, it has been busy like crazy. It’s lovely to be productive and have new projects coming into fruition, but I’m worried that I won’t get through all my tasks. I need to practice my woosah:

https://tenor.com/view/chill-destress-woosah-calm-down-relax-gif-5102209

Woosah (wü-sah): A single word exclaimed while exhaling and summoning your inner calm.

In this month’s edition, I’ll share the template I use for planning my social media posts, some art challenges I find inspiring and as always a budget-friendly DIY project.

Before I dive right into it, I’ve mentioned in last month’s newsletter that I’ve been planning an exhibition, and this month I’m launching it. It will run from Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox (Central African Time). What sets this exhibition apart from gallery-run shows, is that it will be online and therefore accessible around the world. I’m also working with a web designer/videographer to streamline the visual experience. This is my first, self-curated and solo exhibition, which is terrifying and exhilarating simultaneously. (Insert a few Woosah’s here) There will be a countdown to the opening, and it will be viewable here:

https://gallery.lisanightshadeart.com/

Find your invitation here.

I’ll also keep you posted on Facebook and Instagram.

Speaking of posting…

If things have been a tad stagnant when it comes to social media posting, don’t worry, I’ve got some ideas to get the muses singing. It all starts with a little planning.

Following the example of many successful artists, I decided to up my game when it comes to social media posts. Planning my month allows me to see the bigger picture: what I want to achieve with my posts. In the perfect world, it’ll be able to attract potential art collectors, but I don’t want my social media accounts to be filled with hard-selling pitches. I want visitors to enjoy a visual stroll through my art. Each post shares a tiny glimpse into my mind. Admittedly I spend way too much time in designing my posts, but it brings me so much joy. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what to post when to post and which hashtags to use. The Instagram algorithm loves it when you post consistently and when you post at least daily to your Stories.
Using the perfect Tags are also helpful, and allow people who follow those Tags to see your posts. I’m yet to learn the ideal combination of Hashtags. Here are two useful articles, if you need further insight:

https://mention.com/en/blog/instagram-marketing-tips-for-business/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-hacks/

The most important thing to keep in mind is that social media is supposed to be enjoyable. Share your journey as a human being with your followers and friends and don’t get bogged down by the business side of it too much. Once something becomes a chore to do then it’s not worth it. There’s also a dark side to social media: envy. Some people stalk you because they’re envious or because they have ill intentions. If you find yourself in a situation where someone is spamming you with inappropriate content or hateful messages, Block and Unfollow them. Enough horrors are going on in the world, and you don’t need a troll to rain on your online parade.

One of my guilty pleasures is sipping on some tea, with my cat on my lap as I scroll through Instagram. No matter how bad I feel, seeing my Insta-friends’ beautiful artworks and posts always improve my mood. Thank you for filling my feed with your posts.

It’s all good and well, but if you have no idea what to post, it’ll just discourage you. I’m constantly wracking my brain for fresh post ideas, and I’ve come up with a reusable list. I hope it gives you a little extra inspiration:

  1. New Month, New Project: Welcome in the new month with a new project you’ve started, a work in progress
  2. My Desk: A photo or video of what you currently have on your desk. It could be an artwork or your favourite tools
  3. Details: A close-up of your artwork, showing smaller details
  4. Studio / Corner Tour: Showcase the space you make art in, whether it be an atelier or just a designated corner
  5. Inspiring Playlist: The music you’re listening to at the moment
  6. Unboxing: A new artwork or some art supplies you got. Even something you think your followers would love to see
  7. Throwback: Old art vs current art to show your evolution as an artist
  8. All done: A finished piece against a wall or in a space that gives an idea of the scale. Or you can superimpose it onto the ready-made scene: https://iartview.com/ or https://www.ohmyprints.com/index/455/de/WallApp
  9. Quote: An inspiring quote or lyric
  10. A day in the Life: Share little things that inspire you or show how you prepare for a new project
  11. Share the Love: If you see art or artists that you love, share their posts. I got into it thanks to my art friend Lisa Oakes who started the Follower Friday idea.
  12. Ask Me Anything: Post a question or poll
  13. Sale: Do you have artworks up for sale? Let your followers know and encourage them to message you for more info
  14. Behind the Scenes: Especially in Stories, share what you get up to at home, what you eat, movies you watch, books you read etc.
  15. Selfie Sort Of: Have a selfie with your artwork or have someone take a photo of you next to your artwork
  16. Time-lapse: While you’re working on your artwork, capture a time-lapse video
  17. Random Art: A little sketch or doodle that you did randomly
  18. Adopted: A piece you’re given away or sold
  19. Promo Time: Any sales or promotions you’re running or that someone else is running
  20. Giveaways: This is not for everyone, but if you’re able to host a competition with one of your artworks as the prize
  21. DTIY: Draw this in your style. Do this for your art as well
  22. Choose: Let your followers choose a concept or colour for your new artwork if you can’t decide
  23. Blog: Write a blog or mini-blog that you can post sporadically
  24. Collage: A compilation of your recent favourite artworks. It gives a recap on what you’ve been working on. Think #artvsartist #meettheartist
  25. What’s Happening Today: A tribute to the launch of your favourite TV show/film/artist birthday or event such as #earthday #halloween #cinnabunday
  26. Sketchbook Tour: A video or succession of photos of your sketchbook
  27. Travel: You don’t have to go abroad, your favourite coffee shop or local art gallery will do just fine
  28. Tutorial: Have you mastered a specific technique? Show your followers how you did it. It could be as simple as sharing a tutorial on how to fold a paper crane
  29. A Few of My Favourite Things: Art supplies you cannot live without
  30. Familiar: Your pet (or friend) who’s always by your side as you create art
  31. Sneak Peek: A forth-coming attraction of something you’re working on

 

To help you organize your post ideas, here’s a copy of the grid I use:

https://www.lisanightshadeart.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Post-Planner-Grid.pdf

You can customize it to suit each month and a few extra. The squares are big enough for you to write in or to draw something small.

When the muses are quiet

After completing a project, there is a barren period where my brain is artistically rebooting. It’s a time of mourning the old but making space for the new. I used to get the same feeling after a stage production: post-performance blues. During this time, I look to art challenges for some inspiration. Two of them caught my eye: #drawthisinyourstyle and #toonme. Not only would I love to partake in these challenges, but I’d also love to see my art drawn in someone else’s style.

If you want to partake in the #DTIYS challenge with one of my artworks, you can draw this eye in your style:

https://www.lisanightshadeart.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/dtiys.jpg

Don’t forget to tag me on Instagram and use  #daretomakeart for me to see your creation and also to share it. I’d love to know how you interpret my drawing!

For graphite-lovers, there is an invaluable tool: the Tortillon or paper stump. Getting the right amount of blending without damaging your paper is crucial. Way back when typewriters existed another strange invention made its appearance: the typewriter ink eraser. I remember a fellow art student gifting me his because he didn’t believe in blending.

They were blue pencils with hard brushes on the back, but instead of a lead, there was a rock-hard eraser centre. Pretty much like today’s pencil erasers, just really damaging on paper. Those puppies were made for erasing ink. Mine was so old that they never erased anything, but somewhat smudged, and blended graphite quite decently. The hunt for a blending device was on, and years later, I discovered paper stumps. I don’t like the store-bought variety much because they don’t last, and attempting to sharpen them has disastrous results. Tissue paper and cue tips don’t work well in blending fine detail, so I cracked my knuckles and hit the keyboard in search of a DIY solution. I found various YouTube videos that show how to make your own, and after a couple of tries, I figured it out, and I’m still using those blenders without worrying about sharpening them. The trick is to use regular 80gsm paper scraps, instead of a thinner and softer variety. You can get the instructions here on my blog:

https://www.lisanightshadeart.com/diy-blending-tool/nggallery/thumbnails

The more I draw, the more I want to add finer detail, and that means I need a thinner blender. Of course, art supply stores don’t sell super-thin paper stumps, so I decided to make my own. The same basic principles apply, but you will need a thinner needle or skewer and a fair bit of patience to get a finely rolled tip.

You’ll need an everyday piece of paper at roughly 210mm long, a pencil and ruler, a pair of scissors, some tape or a glue stick, a needle that’s at least 50mm long and thick enough to roll the paper around it without bending it.

  1. Measure the top of the paper 20mm wide and the bottom 60mm wide, to create a tapered shape
  2. After cutting it out, grab your needle and start rolling the 60mm side of the paper around it as tightly as possible. The tighter you get it, the finer the tip will be. You will need a few tries to get it right, but once it starts going, the rolling will go very quickly.
  3. Make sure to pull the needle out slightly as you roll, to make sure you can remove it easily afterwards. Don’t worry too much about the other side, as long as one side has a fine point
  4. Tape or glue it down to avoid everything from unrolling.

Here’s a quick video tutorial to make it a bit easier:

https://youtu.be/KshNLS2gxhI

One of my favourite pastimes is reading, although I don’t have lots of time to read lately, and my pile of still-to-read books is growing. But all is not lost, I find stolen moments to read a few pages. If I can’t find time to read, then surely I can listen, can’t I? Recently I discovered the joy of audiobooks, and I’ve been burning through audiobooks like crazy. When I find myself doing menial tasks such as laundry or cleaning, audiobooks make it so much more enjoyable. Even my doodles are more detailed. It does feel like I’m cheating on my beloved books, but I digress.

My choice of audio is Audible, but I’ve also scoured the net for classic books, that are free to listen to. Here are some of my finds:

http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks

http://www.loyalbooks.com/Top_100

https://www.digitalbook.io/

https://archive.org/details/audio_bookspoetry

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX1L0MDB1OhZy?

Thank you for reading and please share with your art-minded friends and loved ones. They can also subscribe to my newsletter here:

https://tinyletter.com/LisaNightshade

Next month I’ll look into invoicing, keeping your artwork from being stolen online and some creatively-helpful DIY’s.

Until then, have a wonderfully creative June!

Lisa