7 things I learned working on the church calendar project

My Canberra Churches Calendar project is in the home stretch! The file has been sent off to the printers and I am as nervous as an expectant mother fiddling about with things as I wait for my ‘baby’ to arrive. I am super pleased with how the paintings came out and cannot wait to see them all printed up and official!

While I wait I thought I’d share seven things I learned throughout the project:

1. The drawing/painting part is the easy bit — The creative part of the process really is the most fun part, so that makes it relatively easy. The administration and faffing around with computers to compile everything and the self promotion parts are not so much fun. It is the same for any small business, so it comes as no surprise really.

2. The project consumed lots of energy and impacted general sketchbook play and creative development — I only have limited time and energy available to me out side of my day job, so some things had to drop off while I painted churches. I missed working in my sketchbook and trying new things, but at the same time I refined my ability to draw buildings and managed to keep them within a particular, coherent style.

3. I recognised a phase of ugliness in each painting — There was always a part of each piece where I really wasn’t sure that it was going to work. I feared having to start again because I hadn’t quite got the colours right or something just felt off. But I saw the pattern and stuck to my process, and each time something lovely emerged at the other end. They are not all perfect of course, I am neither a camera nor a photocopier after all, so I embraced the wonkiness and celebrated each one.

4. A set palette of paint colours simplified decisions and sped things up — Limiting myself to a particular group of pigments gave a unified feel across all works even though the buildings are so different in their styles and facades. It also meant that I didn’t need to stop and make decisions about which colours to use at the beginning of each piece. I wrote about my palette in this post.

5. Having a project gave me purpose and focus — A public deadline made me keep going and not give up part way through, even though I desperately wanted to at times. I have a habit of starting things and not finishing them. I kept wondering what the next project was and I already have drawers full of UFOs (un-finished objects), so to have made it to the end with a completed product to offer is an achievement I am proud of.

6. There was a part of the project where it really felt like a burden — Creating art is not some romantic notion where things just fall out of one’s head, it takes effort and sometimes that feels like hard work. I got thoroughly sick of drawing church buildings and wanted to switch to drawing flowers or people or anything but bricks and mortar. But I kept going. On the flip side it has made me think about the purpose that art plays in my life too. Am I killing my creativity by wanting to make something to sell? Something to explore at a later date.

7. Things will always go wrong — From the very conception of the project back in February I had planned to use RedBubble to produce the calendars as a print on demand offering so that I wouldn’t have any substantial financial outlay. I sized the original artwork and planned everything around their requirements. Last week I logged in to double check the specifications before I started on the layout and preparation of files to upload, only to discover that RedBubble had decided to stop producing calendars as of August 2018. Ugh. Several hours of frantic searching later and I hadn’t found another print-on-demand option that fit my requirements, so I located a printer that could deliver what I needed as a regular print run. Suffice it to say that I had to bite the bullet and put my money where my mouth is, and the box of calendars will land on my doorstep sometime in the next week and a half! Squee! There were some other technical glitches too and I suspect there will be more challenges before I put this thing to bed, but as always adaptability and flexibility will get me though!

Stay tuned for an announcement of when the calendars are available in my Etsy store. The original paintings will also be for sale. If you would like to be ahead of the game and get an early bird discount to boot, please subscribe to my newsletter by clicking HERE. I promise not to spam you or give your details to any one else ever.

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4 thoughts on “7 things I learned working on the church calendar project”

  1. Michelle, It is so wonderful to see how your confidence has grown over the years. In particular thanks for sharing so freely. I ‘ditto’ all your lessons.

  2. Congratulations Michelle! I have followed your progress in Illustration Nation and am delighted to see the final product. Your seven observations above are heartening, I too can relate to them and have also wondered if making art to sell kills creativity,

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