Posts in blogging
More Thoughts on Blogs and Blogging

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts (in comments and email) after my questions about blogs in last week’s post. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking after reading what you wrote; your words brought about a few epiphanies for me.

A pitcher of roses brightens any day, but especially one in February

Why would I write something on my blog that I wouldn’t read myself? I love reading blogs that share glimpses into other people’s worlds. I love seeing other people’s creative spaces, learning about their creative practices and their creative processes.

As I mentioned last week I got out my “real” camera and in doing so was inspired to look around my world through its lens, something I hadn’t done for much too long.

I truly believe that our world is magical, even the most ordinary bits of it, but I know how easy it is to fall into the habit of rushing through our days without noticing that magic.

Instructions for living a life.

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

—Mary Oliver

So here I am, trying again to reclaim my purpose for my blog, my energy for it. Without worrying about what the “experts” say. Without getting hung up on doing it “right”. Without agonizing over numbers.

Anne Butera in Her Studio

I’ll be paying attention and being astonished and telling you about it. I’ll be painting and crafting and sharing my enthusiasm for the magic of creativity. I’ll be sharing my ups and my downs, my struggles and my successes. And through it all I’ll be encouraging you to embrace your own creativity and to discover daily joys. The most important goal for my blog is connection.

Yes, a lot of lovely blogs no longer exist, but as Simone said there are “loads more to be discovered”. What a beautiful thought. Are you with me?

Some of you mentioned a couple favorite blogs in the comments last week. I’d love to know what others are your favorites. Please let me know which blogs you like to read and I’ll add links to them to my list below. Let’s celebrate writing blogs and celebrate reading them, too. I dream of a blogging renaissance!

Being (and Loving) Yourself (or, On Blogging)

When I’m planning I write blog topics on my calendar for each week, often scheduling the whole month at once. Sometimes those topics will be crossed out or directed with arrows to other weeks. Because inspiration supersedes planning, sometimes a post will bounce from week to week to week before I finally get around to it and then sometimes by the time I sit down to write, I can’t entirely remember what I wanted to say.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of a silly holiday, but as I’ve said before, I like it. February isn’t a very exciting month. It’s often dreary and cold and by this time winter’s charm is beginning to wear thin. A day set aside in the middle of the February to celebrate warm cozy feelings (and chocolate) is right up my street. I understand the flip side and all the reasons Valentine’s day is an ugh sort of day for many, but I like the idea of spreading love, of sharing joy, even if it’s just with yourself. Perhaps especially if it’s just with yourself.

Hearts cut from my Watercolor Blue Roses Pattern

We can be so hard on ourselves when what we really need is love.

I have to admit this post has bounced around on my calendar a bit and I can no longer remember my original intention for it (I don’t think it had anything to do with Valentine’s day). But considering what I wanted to say today and how I got here has me thinking about blogging in general.

Back in June on my old blog I wrote about being authentic and in July in this space I wrote about being rebellious, both posts, in part, about blogging. I still have some of those same feelings. I still wonder what my readers (you) want to hear and I’ve begun to wonder about the relevance of blogs today. I haven’t been reading blogs regularly at all lately, and some of my favorites have changed so much while others have disappeared.

My messy studio work table with lots of projects in progress

It’s interesting, when I look back at the links I shared in my post about blogging (on being rebellious), I see that:

I end up asking myself, what now?

I don’t want to quit writing this blog and I’m not certain I need a break, either. Maybe it’s just the winter blahs.

Flowers on the Meyer Lemon Tree in my Studio Window

And so, perhaps my blog and I just need a bit of self-love.

What does self-love look like for my blog? I don’t know. Maybe it’s being even more rebellious than I thought I was being. Maybe it’s writing about topics that bring me joy. Maybe it’s sharing something just because it’s fun (for me). Maybe it’s getting out my real camera (sadly neglected for months and months) and taking photos not to illustrate anything, but because something catches my eye (like those lemon flowers). Perhaps, most of all it’s letting go of any expectations (mine included) and simply being myself.

What does self-love look like for me? Well, confidently being myself is always at the heart of it (and not always easy). More fun is taking time to do things just for me. Brewing up my favorite oolong tea. Savoring a square of dark chocolate. Spending time soaking up sunshine on a cloudless day. Going somewhere I’ve never gone before. Spritzing my face with rosewater as an afternoon pick-me-up. Wearing a pair of thick, soft socks. Watching the birds at my feeder. Planning out my garden and buying seeds…. It’s probably an easier question for you, too.

Now for one that’s not as easy… I’d love to know what you’d like to see in this space. I’m not going to do a formal survey, but want to know your thoughts. What posts do you most like to read? What do you wish I would talk about? What do you want more of (less of)? Share your thoughts in the comments or send me an email.

Thanks for being here reading my words. I hope you have time this weekend to do something just for yourself.

2018 -- a Year in Review

Reviewing a whole year is a hard thing. Once you sit down to do it you realize how slippery the days can be. How difficult to contain with words or even photos.

I had my fair share of failures, mistakes and frustrations in 2018, but I don’t want to focus on them here. We can learn from our mistakes and I’m certainly using those lessons as I plan for the new year, but my focus for today is celebrating the good stuff.

I am so grateful to be doing what I do. Making art. Writing this blog. Teaching. I’m grateful for you, whether you’re a customer, student or simply pause here on occasion to read my words.

Even though it can be tricky condense a year into a definable whole, I find it satisfying to look back and remember all I’ve accomplished. (You can see past posts on my old blog for 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011). Maybe you like to do it, too? If you feel as if you’re moving forward at a snail’s pace it can be helpful to look back and see how truly far you’ve come.

I chose PRESENT for my Word of the Year for 2018. I’m not sure how successful I was at remaining Present throughout the year, but it was a good reminder that I continued to turn to. I never did manage to make meditation a habit, but I wrote in my journal nearly every day. Mindfulness is something I’ll continue to carry with me into 2019.

I began 2018 with a Gentle Nudge Towards Creativity (and a typo, since fixed, in my image for it — pondering mistakes and missteps in the beginning of the year was good for me and my business, I think).

A Gentle Nudge Towards Creativity -- Crafting a More Creative Year

My intention was to be more creative throughout my days, to focus more on making all the time and to be able to wear me-mades as much as possible. It’s easy to let creative projects slip for lack of time or energy and I wanted to try to turn that on its head. Sewing and crochet were two things I wanted to tackle in part because I already had a lot of fabric and yarn stored away in my studio closet. This push didn’t really have anything to do with my business, but it had to do with me as a person, which in turn affects all areas of my life.

Some of the clothes and accessories I sewed, embellished and crocheted in 2018

Some of the clothes and accessories I sewed, embellished and crocheted in 2018

Looking back I did tackle (and finish) a lot of personal projects in 2018 and I want to do more in 2019. I’m still dreaming of a way to integrate art-making and crafting as part of my business. Fabric design is part of it, but I want to take it a step further. Stay tuned!

As for fabric design, I created a new a fabric collection in 2018.

Into which I added one of my absolute favorite designs, also created this year (and available in a larger scale than seen below).

I love how it turned out and so did lots of other people. It was voted a community favorite on Spoonflower and it’s sold very well. I updated my designs from past years with new dates and they’ve been popular, too.

Because I loved creating these tea towels I decided to share my process in a class on Skillshare.

In total I filmed and taught four new classes on Skillshare in 2018.

I began teaching in person this year, too. I taught three series of watercolor classes at the library in town (where I also work part time). I had no idea how teaching in person would go, but I ended up really enjoying it (and learning a lot from my students — many thanks to everyone who took classes with me this year!).

Through the month of February I had a little exhibit of my paintings at the local library.

Paintings by Anne Butera on Exhibit at the McIntosh Memorial Library in Viroqua, Wisconsin in February of 2018

I’ve had some paintings on display at Matthias’s shop in town this year, too.

Anne Butera's Art on Exhibit at Mac Help in Viroqua, Wisconsin

My art got some nice recognition further afield in 2018.

Anne Butera's Art Was Featured in Publications Around the World in 2018

My nasturtiums painting was on the cover of The Essential Herbal Magazine in September/October. One of my illustrations was included in Flow Magazine’s 2019 Tear off Calendar. I was a featured designer on the Pattern Observer Blog in November. And perhaps, most exciting to me, my 2019 desk calendar was featured in Cottages and Bungalows Magazine!

Printing last year’s calendar was so frustrating and I knew I needed a change in how I did things. This year I had my calendars professionally printed. It made things so much easier for me and allowed my 2019 calendars to be my most successful yet.

Something completely new for me this year was my first time on a podcast. I was interviewed by Angie Noll on The Not Starving Artist Podcast in May.

Sketchbooks continue to be an important part of my art practice, although my work in them often comes in ebbs and flows.

This year I started another collaborative sketchbook project with Dana Barbieri.

a page from the second collaborative sketchbook by Anne Butera and Dana Barbieri

We aren’t sharing our pages the way we did with the first project and that has made working in the sketchbook feel very free. In 2019 I hope to hang onto that free feeling and dive even deeper into my own sketchbooks.

One big change this year: I moved my blog from blogger to my website. In a lot of ways I wish I had done it earlier. It feels good to have everything in one place. I’m not entirely certain which direction I want to take with my blog in 2019. Any thoughts from a reader’s perspective?

The backbone of everything has been, of course, my watercolors.

Some of my watercolor paintings from 2018

Some of my watercolor paintings from 2018

Looking at all these paintings makes me look forward to 2019’s gardening season and having ample subjects for my watercolors.

2018 was a weird year in the garden, but I wish I had taken more photos. Even in their imperfection the photos I did take bring me so much joy (especially when everything out there is frozen solid).

A View in My Garden in 2018

The beauty about a garden is that each year we get a chance for a fresh start. It’s also the beauty of this time of year. When January rolls around we get a fresh start with our lives, a chance to think and plan and decide what’s most important for us in the new year.

I hope that you are looking to 2019 with excitement and hope. Here’s to a joy-filled, beautiful, creative year for us both! Thanks, again, for spending time on this journey with me. See you again in 2019!

On Blogs, Blogging and Being a Little Rebellious

Starting this new blog has been so energizing. Although a fresh start wasn't my intention when I moved to blogging on my website, it's been an unexpected, but very welcome, consequence. The thought of having a fresh space to craft into whatever I want has filled me with ideas. I'm excited to share some new posts with you. But first I wanted to talk a bit about blogs and blogging.

This new little watercolor painting of two nasturtium flowers is now available in my shop

This new little watercolor painting of two nasturtium flowers is now available in my shop

My old blog and I changed and grew a lot over the years. My journey to become a watercolor painter was documented in that space. I shared projects I was working on (painting and not), thoughts I was pondering and encouragement (for myself and my readers) to discover joy. I introduced interesting people and shared recommendations -- of books, of art supplies, of recipes. There were ups and downs (in my blog and my life). I stumbled. I made mistakes. And I also celebrated my successes.

There's a lot of pressure to Be Successful and as creative people we can get bogged down in the comparison game. It's easy to focus on the negative, the rejections, the missed opportunities. Although I think we can use rejection to inspire us to move forward, I also think it's important to celebrate our successes. My blog will always be a place where I invite celebration, mine and yours (share yours with me!).

Deadheading Geraniums and Finding Beauty in the Spent Flowers on My Potting Table

Through blogging I've met so many wonderful, creative people. Forging connections and creating a space for shared celebrations is important to me. Each of us is unique, interesting, quirky. It's one of the reasons I started the Artist Interviews and Sketchbook Conversations. It's the reason why I ask questions in my blog posts, why I welcome comments and make sure to always respond to them. I truly believe we're all in this together. It's not a competition. There is room for us all. The world needs what you bring to it. Isn't that something to celebrate? 

My Two Black and White Rescue Cats Are Often Snuggling on the Chair in My Studio

This new blogging space won't be much different than my old one. 

Over the years on my blog (and in my creative life in general) I whittled my focus, pared down what I shared, concentrated my attention. And yet at the heart, behind my pictures and words is a real person. I'm driven by my interests and passions and my quirks can't help but show through. This past winter I was feeling a bit antsy and I realized that part of it was that I'd whittled too much away. I wanted to get back to other creative pursuits. I wanted to sew and craft and be creative with more than just paint. Turned out it was just what I needed.

A Silly Selfie in My Studio Modeling a Shawl Crocheted with the South Bay Shawlette Pattern

One of the most common pieces of blogging advice I've seen is to write with a very narrow focus. Abby Glassenberg's The Creative Blogging Cookbook shares that same advice. But she also writes "People aren't actually niche. People are complex. They have more than one deep interest. Nobody's life follows a strict and narrow road. And we're always changing and growing."

A View in My Garden with Lauren's Grape Poppies Blooming Beside Borage

This is so true. It also explains why the blogs I most enjoy are those that reveal the people behind the words and photos on the screen. It feels as if there's a movement going on in the blogging world, a breaking free from too-narrow constraints. Here are a few people who have been inspiring me lately:

A Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Enjoying the Parsley in My Garden

And so, yes, I'm feeling energized by this new space and by thoughts of being rebellious in my own small way.

This new watercolor painting of three zinnia flowers is now available in my shop

This new watercolor painting of three zinnia flowers is now available in my shop

Ok, your turn. What sorts of blog posts do you most like to read? Who has been inspiring you lately? Is there anything you wish I'd write about in this new space?

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