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Working in a Series: My First Step

Posted on: February 9th, 2014 by deborah 2 Comments
UrbanWildFlowers in progress by GraysonStudios (c) 2014.

UrbanWildFlowers in progress by GraysonStudios (c) 2014.

View of my work table:  While working on Salt I have also decided to bring back a Grayson Studios collector favorite —  the Urban Wildflower  line. These figures have been reworked to allow for more movement. They are designed to be displayed on the wall or they can sit and be posed for display. All new Urban Wildflowers will be available on this website in March. Images from the Salt series coming up in future posts. #UrbanWildFlower Dolls  #GraysonStudios


For the last 18 months I have had a story rolling around in my head for a new body of work. After several tentative attempts, I am now at the point where I am want to work full out on this project. The series is called Salt. During the next 18 weeks I will use this blog to tell the story of Salt and to show how the story unfolds. I am using clay, natural fibers, seeds and pods for my materials. At the end of 18 weeks the goal is to have 15 figures built. Ambitious but I am going for it. The beauty of working in a series is that it pushes you to avoid the temptation of trying to do too much in one piece. I am looking forward to this being a contemplative and vigorous process where I work through my ideas in 3-D. Could be a scary proposition! lol. Feeling very vulnerable on this one. I am pretty sure that is a sign that I am headed in the right direction. To see more sneak peeks into my studio as well as more in-progress photos be sure to follow Deborah Grayson Studios on facebook.


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How to Get Stuff Done

Posted on: January 31st, 2014 by deborah 10 Comments
Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.39.04 PM


This post was inspired by a post I read on Lisa Call’s blog.  There is other inspiring, practical and very useful content on her site but this specific post really resonated with me. I don’t know about you but there have been times in my art practice when I tricked myself into believing that I was more productive than I actually was. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I was extremely busy. But I realized I was busy doing things that would not lead me to where I wanted to go. I realized that I was not identifying the correct tasks for the goals I had set for my business.  The busy-ness that I was involved in often left me in a place where I was missing opportunities to create and exhibit my work. Then I got real with myself. How did I do it? Well I am glad you asked!!!
I found the right tools. Whether you paint, cook or sculpt figures like I do, deciding on and using a system that will allow you to track and document your activities is critical to getting things done. Taking a page from Lisa’s book, I thought I would share what I track and document and the tools I use to do it.


What I Track and Document

  • Studio time
  • yoga practice
  • inspiration
  • books
  • supplies
  • recipes
  • blog posts and e-blasts
  • money


How I Track and Document it

    • Bound sketchbook and inky black pen– my sketchbook goes everywhere with me. I draw a page in it  every month and list the date, the number of hours spent on art work and art business, and the projects/goals I worked on. At the end of each week I total all of the hours so that I have a real picture of the time I am actually spending on my work. I use my phone to track my time while I sculpt or write.


    • iCal– I keep color coded calendars arranged by subject that are synched and accessible across all of my devices.  I use iCal to track: deadlines for exhibition and grants, commissions, and class times for yoga.


    • Pinterest and iPhoneMy Pinterest boards and my iphone are where I collect, curate and post images that inspire and interest me.


    • GoodReads– An avid reader, My Goodreads profile (I am UrbanWildflower on Goodreads) allows me to track the books I have read for the year and to learn about and bookmark new books that I would like to read.


    • Evernote– probably my favorite tool of them all. This is where I clip articles I find on-line that interest me, catalog my business plan and vision statements, and draft my blog posts.  The best part about it? Evernote is accessible from any device. Once you create an account you can log in from anywhere.


    • Excel– yeah, I am old school. Several years ago a friend helped me set up basic P and L sheets along with a few other customized sheets to track the expenses and inventory for my business. I use these spreadsheets monthly to document what comes in and what goes out. I also use excel for inventory. Makes getting organized for tax time a breeze (well, mostly).


The moral of my story: identify simple methods and systems that you like, use them, get stuff done!
Follow me on Pinterest for more examples and inspiration.


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5 Secrets of Successful Artists

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by deborah 6 Comments
photo 1 photo 2 photo 4
A note about the photos: I finished volumes 12 and 13 last year. What a happy coincidence that I started vol 14 of my sketchbooks this month.  The second and third photos are quick snapshots of spreads from volume 13.


I really enjoy listening to, learning from, and looking at the work of other artists. Last year I was really fortunate to  have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from some great ones. Not wanting to miss a moment of my experiences, I spent a good chunk of my time last year documenting as much as I could through drawings, photographs and notes in my sketchbook. What I learned not only increased my passion for art and art making, I also picked up some really good habits to improve my studio practice.  Below is a list of my five favorite “secrets” I learned from working with and observing other artists.


1. Release any negative feelings or thoughts you’re holding. For me that usually means deciding not to beat myself up if I miss or am running behind on a task or deadline. The trick seems to be to not let yourself get paralyzed when you fall short but  instead to try to find a good place to pick up where you left off and keep going.


2. Build real and meaningful community with other artists, art lovers and creative thinkers. If you are a regular reader of this blog or my facebook page you know how much this one means to me.  Actively building circles of creative thinkers and makers can lead to wonderful spaces of mutual inspiration and support.


3. Share what you know and what you have with others. It is a gift to be an artist and to live a creative life. We are given our gifts to share them.


4. Learn about other artists and their lives. Read blogs, catalogs and monographs, visit art galleries museums, attend artists talks. I read something by or from another artist daily. I always try to purchase catalogs or books by or about my favorite artists. And well, anywhere I go the first thing I do is look up the galleries and museums in the area!


5. Experiment. Fearlessly become a beginner over and over again by trying new materials, new approaches, new perspectives. Take a class in something that you know nothing about. Make a trip to an art supply store, a hardware store or a thrift store and pick up something unusual. Play with ways to incorporate the material into a new piece. Creative explorations always lead you somewhere. Let your experiences move you.


Of course none of these steps work unless you show up every day to create.  Even if I only have 15 minutes I try to make a quick sketch or note in a sketchbook. smear some paint in a collage. Something!!!!


What do you think? How about sharing a few of your own secrets of success for artists? Jump in and leave a comment!
Peace and Happiness,



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A Glance Back, A Blast Forward: Getting my Art on in 2014

Posted on: January 3rd, 2014 by deborah 4 Comments

As many of you know, I tend to start my new year  with a review of the previous year and a plan for the new one. Several of you have written to me recently to ask me how things went last year. Over all I would say last year went really well AND it was full of surprises.  For instance, I had no idea when I launched into my In-house residency last January that I would end up staying in residence for almost the entire year.  I had been longing for time just to create rather than rushing off to the next exhibition or event.  I just decided to do it — I pulled myself off of the exhibition circuit and just worked. I did collaborations with other artists, I experimented more with my materials, I attended lectures, took a few  workshops that expanded my mind and my approach to my work, visited a few interesting places, and I did several commissions (because you must never neglect the business side of your art!).  In short, last year was all about learning. Which leads me to 2014.


Song: Happy by Pharrell


As soon as I heard this song I knew it was my song for 2014. It may be an obvious choice but I don’t care. Dare you not to clap your hands and sing along.


Word: Purpose

Because I want to have a purpose driven life. I feel that I am clearer than ever before about why I am here and what I am supposed to be doing. Nothing left to do but to DO IT. Fear get thee behind me.


Color: Blue

No, the irony is not wasted on me that my song for the year is Happy and that my color is blue :). I am complex like that.  Seriously, I don’t know what it is but the color blue has been popping up everywhere for me. From the electric blues in my paintings, to the indigo blues that I have dyed my fabrics,  to the foggy sky blue scarf I love to wear around my neck. Looking forward to pops of blue throughout 2014.

Creative Plan for 2014

As for my creative plan for 2014 (because you know I have one — clearly outlined in my trusty evernote notebook). . . . Usually I would write a list of things I plan to do. This year I am asking you to follow along with me here as all of the fun and fabulousness for 2014 unfolds. Peace and love, y’all. Do everything you can do this year to be HaPpy, HAppy, haPPy, HAPPY!!

(dancing and clapping my hands) Deborah

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Busy excitedly making magic–but in the meantime . . . .

Posted on: May 19th, 2013 by deborah 2 Comments

Busy making lots of wonderful new things in the the studio but I wanted to stop by to share something I recently read on the web that excited me and reminds me of why it is so critical to stay on the path of my purpose. Hope you are as inspired as I am.

Like this? Learn to build a better life at Good Life Project.

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