Thursday, July 13, 2006

Progress Report

Rose Colored Hills, 2006, Oil on Panel, 24x24

Well, I am making progress with the work I have to finish during the next couple of weeks. I have enough pieces for the Cape Cod show plus a few more for the show in September at Enderlin Gallery. I did just realize the other day that I have to have a number of pieces done by mid August for a group show in Cooperstown at the Smithy, so instead of being ahead, I am actually behind again. Looking a bit past that, I have to do about six paintings that depict the White Mountain region in New Hampshire, for a group show in November. But the work needs to be finished by mid-September and have I visited the White Mountains yet? Ha ha ha ha ha! Gotta put a quick trip to NH on my to-do list, I guess!

Keeping track of all of this can be challenging and I am not too happy with any of my solutions so far. I have a month-in-view calendar in a binder where all of my deadlines are listed, which worked fine last year, when I didn't have quite so much going on. This year I put up a yearly at-a-glance calendar on a bulletin board, and I write my deadlines on that with a dry erase marker. The yearly calendar works great, I can more easily see what is coming up in the long term as well as short term, because pulling out the binder and then actually turning the page in the binder is SUCH hard work. Unfortunately, the wall calendar is too small and next year I have to find a larger one that I can write more legibly, you know, so I can read what it is that I wrote. I still use the binder as a back up, in case the dry erase gets erased (the kids lovedry-erase and how it erases Mommy's important info with just their finger) or I can't decipher my own writing. Clearly I need a better solution. I think I will bag the dry erase thing and just get a large paper 12 month calendar next time. The other organizational issue that I need to resolve is how to track which painting will go where, especially important when I am preparing for a few shows at once. Right now I list every piece, by title, as I finish it, in a notebook (actually a ledger now, thanks for the tip, Anna!) and then make a separate list for each location in a notebook. This has worked ok, but it's hard to visualize how the group of paintings fit together by looking at a ledger and I also end up with information scattered all over. I think I may put up a bulletin board in my studio, fill out the ledger, then write the titles (and size) on an index cards and form the lists of where they will go by moving the cards around on the board. That way I can see what can go where and I can easily make changes if necessary. Clearly, I am not as organized here as I am in other areas, but all of this work kind of snuck up on me this year and I neglected to envision how I would need to plan things in advance. Also, another issue here is space. I don't have enough wall space, so even adding a bulletin board to my studio will be a challenge and my office area is also bursting at the seams.

Anyway, I'd enjoy hearing how you record info regarding scheduling and tracking where new work will go. I could use some new ideas!


S.L. Peterson said...

Since I'm an engineer, I use spreadsheets for everything. All my paintings are logged in a spreadsheet with size, price, date completed, serial number, display location, and name and address of buyer if sold. I use the same spreadsheet to keep a list of buyers or potential clients with contact information. Don't know if this would help you though, since your is more of a scheduling issue.

I recently read on a forum that some portrait artists were thinking of using Microsoft Project to keep track of commissions, since they often have multiple deadlines and a certain set of steps that have to be completed to meet those deadlines. It's a pretty technical solution, but I've used the program before and can see how it would work well. You can enter tasks, how long each takes to complete, and due dates and schedule everything in on a calendar.

KJ said...

Try color coding your year at a glance calendar with a different color marker for each event. At this time it was more to keep track of competition deadlines so I'd draw a colored line through the weeks involved... like from shipping to expected return time. Or whatever worked for the events. I did keep binders as well to track what was coming and going. Like Stacers, I keep my inventory on my hard drive, I suspect a spreadsheet would be more efficient, but learning the Word Database was a feather in my cap at the time. I can't imagine moving it all to a newer program, would have to hire it out!

Shan said...

If I ever find an organizational system that works for me I'll be amazed. I think the root of the problem is that no matter how organized I think I want to be the basic nature of my personality rebels against lists and calendars.

I tried a Microsoft Works task list for a while but got so sick of the thing popping up all the time, reminding me my set deadlines (which I've learned to set at least two weeks before actual deadlines) were long past. If you don't mind this it works very well.

In the end, I've found a large monthly calendar is my best bet. An artist friend rec. using the same calendar for art deadlines, kids stuff, etc.

Only fails me on the days I forget to look at it!

Lesly said...

Hi Tracy - can't really help because I am only just really getting started and don't have much to keep track of. But I am interested to read how others cope though!

I am careful to keep track of all expenses and income on a proper 'spreadsheet' for the taxman! At the moment this also acts as a record any paintings sold (but not exhibitions or deadlines, etc., of course).

I think your ledger and wall chart sound the best idea ... I think that is what I would opt for if I had the volume of work and events to keep track of that you do. I certainly would hesitate to have it all on a computer programme. Purely because of the risk of losing it all! (I have lost data on two occasions ... once when a power surge knocked out my motherboard, and once when I inadvertenly deleted a major folder, - both events were pretty heartbreaking).

Good luck with your current work programme, anyway

Tracy said...

Stacers, Your spreadsheet system sounds admirable! I will check into Microsoft Profect, but unless it is super duper easy, it's not likely I will ever be able to actually use it. I still struggle with the margin thingys in Word.

Karen, Color coding sounds great! I think I may try that. May have to use crayons, since the kids steal everything else, but hey, they'll work right?!

Shan, I know just what you mean. I like to be organized, but not too organized. However, I do have to step it up, so I don't miss any deadlines.

We have a MASTER CALENDAR for the family schedule, so maybe I just need to incorporate the too, and you know, actually look at it, like you said:-)

Hi Lesly, Ooh, I know what you mean about the computer stuff. I usually back stuff up, but I have lost enough info on the computer to also keep hard copies of everything as well. How many years do you think it will be before dvds are obsolete? Sorry, that's a rant for another day!

Thanks for the tips everyone. Hey, don't any of you men out there keep a schedule? :-)

Lisa Call said...

I go with the large wall mounted monthly calendar with color coded comments. Currently mine is on June. Hm - that might be a problem.

I track all my work in a spreadsheet and I use a notebook with notes scrawled on random papers for what work is out where. Not exactly very efficient. I bought a database program called "artworks" to track everything but I haven't entered the data yet. I hear it's really spiffy - you can import images for each piece and generate CDs to send galleries. If you look at the resource for artists page on Alyson Stanfield's website you will find it.

We use Microsoft project at work - I must say I hate it. But actually Stacers is right - it could be handy for complex art projects. I do love our requirements gathering tool for work and do something similar (in a spreadsheet as I can't afford Caliber RM at home) for tracking my art goals.

I'm going to be in the White Mountains in August. Taking my kids on vacation in Boston, NH and Maine (camping on an island in Maine - hopefully there will be no hurricanes!). I don't have anywhere to stay or any plans on what to do up in the white mountains. I guess I should start figuring it out because the vacation is coming up soon!

Kris Shanks said...

I have a database program, File Maker Pro, that I use for tracking inventory of paintings and for my mailing list. As for scheduling, I gave up trying to find a calendar and made my own on a big piece of poster board. I just laid out some tables in Word for each month and glued the papers to the board. I tacked it up near my computer, so I can figure out what's coming up at a glance. I'm pretty lost without it.