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Monday, March 23, 2015

A party for my blog?!  Yes, of course!  How else do you expect me to kick off the 2015, A to Z Blog Challenge next month?! 

Cupcakes on a party table

If you knew how long I was struggling to find a relevant and worthy theme, you'd throw a theme reveal party too!

There aren't balloons or anything but there is just as much excitement for the A to Z Blog Challenge.  Almost a thousand bloggers (last I checked) vowed to blog alphabetically for the month of April.  

April 1st is the letter A, the next day is B, and the day after is get the picture.  It can be hard enough just coming up with something to blog about for the corresponding letter without the additional layer of a theme.  However, I do some of my best blogging with a theme to focus on and stick to. 

31AT31, started out as a theme centered around finding the art in my daily life for 31-derful days straight.  Anything seems possible if taken 31 days at a time, right?  That can-do attitude lead to, the next theme, The Art of the Launch, followed by The Art of My Soul, and last year I participated in National Blog Posting Month with my own theme called "No Basic November."  31-day themes abound here at 31AT31.

Naturally, it makes sense to have another theme under which to type furiously for yet another 31-day cycle of blogging bliss.  Without further ado, and with much excitement, I bring you the 2015, A to Z Challenge theme: Afro Jazz from A to Z!

Brick wall covered in Afro Jazz Graffiti text
Afro JazZ from A to Z...see what I did there?

When the idea came, I almost fell out of my chair because it couldn't have been more perfect and "on brand."  I mean, what are the chances that my art series starts with the letter "A" and ends with the letter "Z" and that I found the A to Z Challenge to begin with in the first place?  Talk about alignment!  If that is not the biggest green light from my cousin, the Universe then I don't know what is. 
April will be all about going deeper into my Afro Jazz Art series including a behind the scenes look at the process, technique, inspiration, daily new pieces, and possibly an interview of my living, breathing Afro Jazz muse--she is awesome!  

Additionally, a lucky 31AT31, subscriber (or two) will have the opportunity to have their portrait Afro Jazzed!  A possible giveaway is in the works too, just as soon as I review the law on sweepstakes.  I refuse to get caught up in some legal mess for trying to be generous, okay?!

If you have any ideas or requests for topics on certain letters please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.  In the meantime, I will be gathering up my Afro Jazz art supplies.    


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This very post that you are reading was almost another draft.  What do all of these drafts say about my life?  Are there different versions of myself still in draft form?  Am I waiting to "publish" more?  Why do I have so many?  Part of it has to do with the fact that I like seeing a preview of how my posts will look once published.  Too bad life doesn't work like that.  Imagine if we could see how an idea, dream or vision would look before fully committing? 

Macbook Pro Laptop on office desk workstation

Somehow life would seem boring if we were offered previews of what's to come.  Part of the thrill of the journey is the commitment to it.  If we always knew the outcome, why would we bother with those particularly challenging areas?  Chances are, many of us wouldn't.  

There are a few of us bloggers, that decided to dust off those draft posts and actually publish them in the BLOGGER CHALLENGE: FROM DRAFT TO POST!  We all had 48 hours or less to get 'er done.  

This was a challenge for me as I had so many drafts to read through, or so I thought.  It turns out that most of my draft posts were blanks, good title ideas, or random musings.  I was able to narrow down the list to a mere 8 draft posts.  

This challenge wouldn't have been nearly as fun, without the other amazing bloggers who were up to the challenge.  I love the variety of topics.  Check out their DRAFT TO POST entries!

If There's No Such Thing As Writer's Block, Why Can't I Write?

I Eat My Jollof, You Eat Your Turkey

Meh, Red Velvet Oreos

6 Qualities of a Valuable Woman

Play Like Hasbro Event

Finding My Light

Emergency Savings: Tips to Work Towards Your Goal

C-Section: 5 Things No One Mentioned in Pregnancy

3 Things That Immediately Improved My Art Life

5 Simple Tips for Moms to Quickly Shake Off Stress

To the bloggers:  How does it feel to complete this challenge?  What did you learn?  What did you notice?  

To all:  I hope you enjoyed reading all of the different posts!  Be sure to subscribe and hit me up on social media using #DRAFT2POST.  Share all of the links and leave comments all blogs.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to veteran artist, Charles Bibbs at the C Art Gallery in Seattle.  The work of Charles Bibbs is distinctive.  You will know it when you see it.  As a new artist, I wanted to know what words he had for up and coming artists.  He told me three things that a new and emerging artists should know.

Woman standing in front of a painting at an art gallery

[Editor's note: this post was originally drafted in 2013.  It sat in the "draft" section of my blog dashboard for two years.  Now, it is fully liberated thanks to the Blogger Challenge: From Draft to Post.]

Think beyond local artist

Think outside of the label "local" artist.  With the advent of the internet, who is really local anyway?  Your work can really be available to anyone in the world to view and purchase.  I immediately felt a sense of expansion in that gallery.  Of course I knew that but it hadn't yet reached my cells yet.  In that moment, it did.  I realized that out of all of the people in this world there were sure to be at least a million who loved my work, right?!  I was sure of it.  

Never sell your art 

Mr. Bibbs then proceeded to tell me something else that I found interesting.  He said that he has never sold not one single painting!  Concrete, meet my jaw, jaw this is concrete.  My mouth hit the floor.  Plenty of people knew of this man, had paintings and prints of his in their possession and he tells me he never sold a single piece!  This didn't make sense.  How could this be?  I had to replay what he said in my mind before coming to.  He said that he never sold a single painting.  Someone else sold his paintings for him, whether it was a gallery, an agent or what have you.  He said that when someone else who knows your works sells it for you, the artist is cast in another light.  There are plenty of options to consider in order to heed this advice.  

  • Seek traditional gallery representation where the profit split is usually 50/50.  You will definitely want to mark up your prices.
  • Join an artists cooperative where all of the artists work together to maintain the gallery and sell the art.
  • Submit work to an artists collective which is more exhibition based rather than helping to maintain or operate a gallery.  When your piece is sold, the collective retains a small portion of the sale.  
  • Participate in the many art festivals that install your work and do the selling for you for a commission. 
  • Hire a trusted and knowledgeable individual or company to act as an agent to sell your work.

Have a memorable artist bio

Bibbs, talked about the importance of making your mark early on in one's art career.  Boldness, even from a new artist is what gets noticed.  A good place to start is in one's artist bio.  Include interesting things about who you are as an artist or something fascinating about your process.  Fill your bio with some of your artsy secrets but save the really juicy details for an artist talk.     


As I stood there in the gallery, going over what was shared, a sense of empowerment began to pump up my chest.  

  • I began to think about myself as an international artist which allowed me to create and visualize more opportunities as an artist.  
  • I felt a sense of relief after considering the fact that I no longer had to sell my work but could hire or partner with someone else to do it for me. 
  • It was encouraging that I could relax and be myself even in something formal like an artist bio.     

Above all else, I felt liberated and had a deeper desire to keep creating!  


Monday, March 16, 2015

Why do I have over 70 drafts on my blog dashboard?!  I think it has to do with how my brain works.  The idea for a blog post comes.  I quickly type out my raw thoughts.  Somehow it collects dust, never to be seen again.  That is, until I was sitting in front of my Macbook with nothing to blog about.  
 A Group of People River Rafting
Anyone up for some RIVER-DRAFTING?!  This is what I imagine a collective blog challenge to be!

I thought to myself, hmm I wonder what all of these drafts are about...I am sure there is some gold in there somewhere, right?  I barely made my way through them before reaching out to other bloggers and offering a collective challenge to finish one of those drafts and finally just hit the publish button.

BLOGGER CHALLENGE: Dust off one of those drafts, finally finish it, and publish it within 48 hours!  Include the #DRAFT2POST on Twitter.  The timer is ticking.

A few of us were up to the task and are probably feverishly typing away right this moment.  Stay tuned for the links to their posts! 

I have no idea which one of the 70 drafts, I will actually post.  It might be one from 2012.  I actually have drafts that are that old.  

I love how sweet and tender my early blogging voice was.  It hasn't changed much but reading over some of those drafts made me smile.  

I remember when I really didn't know that much about blogging.  It seemed like every time a new course, webinar, seminar, podcast, blog post, widget, plug-in, etc..., appeared I'd get a little blog anxiety.

It is not like I had to incorporate all of those things into my blog.  But there was always a thought in the back of my mind that whispered, 

Ooh, this could be what you need to take your blog to the next level.  

Can you relate?  I know better now.  In fact, I keep a running list of all of the cool things I want to do or add to my blog or just try.  Every week or so, I choose one blog improvement item and implement it.

My 48 hours are almost up and I still need to go through those 70+ posts and find one to turn into something worth posting.  

All right, let me stop procrastinating and hop to it!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Arts and Heritage Day in Olympia, Washington was intense!  I advocated so hard for the arts y'all.  Between calling out legislators to pull them off the floor to hear why the arts are important, the unanticipated marble stairs to climb, to attempting to get a firm commitment on support of the arts--I am exhausted.
The marble stairs...the pain...the out of breath-ness...*sigh*

The Art of Advocacy

24 hours before Arts and Heritage Day began, I sat in a board meeting for the Washington State Arts Commission.  I was feeling like my advocacy skills were a little rusty and ever so thankful for the mini training another board member provided. 

After attending an evening reception where I ran into some of my art pals from various organizations, I remember thinking about how nervous I was for the next day.  I didn't really know what to expect as it was my first time to our state capitol and in an official capacity as an ArtsWA Commissioner.   

There was so much information in my head that I was concerned about having a bout of word vomit.  It didn't happen though.  

It's like my brain marinated on the information and the importance of it all overnight.  By morning, the words just flowed.  

Hot apple cider powered me through the wealth of facts, figures
and law to go over in preparation to advocate.

I love how that works.  It reminds me of my criminal trial days and how things all magically came together during a passionately delivered closing argument.

What really got me through it all was realizing that this was so not about me and how well I could articulate a point.  The beauty of art is that it is rarely ever about just us.  Art is like oxygen and we all need it to live, I mean really live...not just scratch out a miserable existence but to thrive even.  

I kept an image in my head of my teens in my social justice art program to remind me that this was for them too.  Pulling those legislators into a quiet corner to be sure they heard all that art had to offer was my way of communicating the fact that black lives matter in the arts.  

The points and facts I shared were universal but the depth at which I spoke about it came from the core of my blackness and what it means to be black in a world that hates you for it and be embraced by the loving arms of art.  Whatever carefully crafted talking points I memorized moved to the background as my passion and belief for the power of arts took center stage. 

Silly zombies, babies are for cuddling...

What I will remember most about those two days in Olympia is that, not everyone holds art in such high regard.  Let me say that another way:

Some of the people whom we've entrusted to make our laws have a hard time finding the value in art. 
That is one of thee most scary realities I have had to face in my young tender years.  That fact should scare us all really.  Show me an individual who doesn't care about art and we will both be staring at the walking dead.  

If that doesn't scare you, then the thought of zombies passing laws should.  Can you even imagine??  Brains would be everywhere.  But that is basically the fate of art and life as we know it if we don't continue to advocate like hell.  Let these legislators know that art is life and the denial of such is to stop breathing.  

In the defense of art  

It was hard not to pull out my old prosecutor hat and put those legislators on trial and engage in a direct examination (or cross examination) to expose their level of support when it comes to the arts a la Law and Order style.  

Where were you on the day that the bill to gut art in public places was presented?  

Do you recognize Exhibit A?  Is this your signature on the bill approving yet another decrease in the budget for the arts?  

Isn't it true that for the past 7 years you have voted to decrease the arts budget by over 55%?  

Are you aware that your actions (or lack thereof) have left Washington State ranked as 47th in the nation at 15 cents per capita in terms of General Fund appropriation?

Even under oath, words would only offer a thin veil of assurance.  The proof is in the vote.  It would still be fun to watch them squirm! 


It mustn't come to all that.  I'd like to think that the space between where I am in my art life, versus someone else is who seems far away from the artsy core, is merely an art-filled conversation away.  We all must constantly have these conversations about the transformative properties of art.  When we do, more legislators will actually care about the arts and recognize its power to enhance the quality of life for all in various capacities.  That is after all, the point in enhance our lives.  Am I right?

How do you advocate for the arts?  Share in the comments.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Have you ever heard of a blog carnival?  I hadn't either up until a couple of weeks ago.  A blog carnival is like a blog buffet of different posts grouped together based on one theme.  31AT31, is hosting a lifestyle blog carnival today.  

Bloggers submitted various posts on different topics related to lifestyle from travel to health and even wealth and retirement.  "Treat yo' self" a la Parks and Recreation style, join the carnival, and read what some other bloggers have to share about life.


Victoria Nahley @ A Student's Search writes 5 Travel Tips for Cheaper Flights #1 - In this post, I describe 5 tips for getting cheaper flights.

travel joker @ writes Milos island, extraterrestrial beauty - Vacation in Milos

travel joker @ writes Explore, Chill, Enjoy. San Francisco in one day! - San Francisco in one day!

traveljoker @ writes Casa de Valencia makes the best Paella in Madrid! - best paella


Jfer @ Creating Our Beautiful Lives writes The Practice of Gratitude – 3 Tips to Begin - This post discusses the benefits of practicing gratitude and how to apply gratitude practices everyday.


Rupert @ In the Land of Aus writes Why Allurer’s New Single is the Best Cure for The Mondays - Post about new Band

Xavier Jonte Thompson @ writes HBCU -


Kalen Bruce @ MoneyMiniBlog writes Insurance Inflation: Why You Need to Pay Attention - How often do you look over a bill that your insurance company paid? Here's why you should, what to look for and how to understand inflation.

Brenda @ writes Miracles happen constantly - What is a Miracle? I define miracle as an event that happens outside of the probability

Kristy Feldmen @ Outstanding Colleges writes Student Loan Forgiveness in 2015 – What will Change - The Pay as You Earn (PAYE) program for student loan forgiveness was passed back in the end of 2012 but some modifications have been proposed in 2015. What will change and what will stay the same in terms of student loan forgiveness?

Kayla @ Shoeaholic No More writes Guest Post: My Most Expensive Financial Lesson - Today I’ll be writing about another lesson I learned earlier this year, and that is being aware of all financial aspects in your life.

Marissa @ Thirty Six Months writes You Should Always Seek Value - To get yourself financially free, to make good investments and to get through life in a calm and relaxed manner – you should always seek value.

Marissa @ Finance Triggers writes Best Way to Collect Superannuation Funds during Retirement - If you work in Australia, then you are likely to have at least one superannuation account set up to help you out financially during your retirement.

Sam @ The New Business Blog writes Want to be Successful? Avoid These 5 Emotionally Charged Habits - There are, to be sure, many things that contribute to your overall success. Things like your attitude, your ability to lead, your people skills and so forth all have a big influence on it, no doubt.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes 4 IRA Withdrawals that Actually Make Sense - Withdrawing funds from a traditional IRA before a person turns 59 ½ usually means that they’re going to pay a lot of taxes and penalties.

Andrea @ So Over This writes You’re Handling Retirement Savings All Wrong! - Saving money for retirement is something that is very near and dear to me.

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes Stock Investing Myths and Truths Part 4 of 4 - Even though there's plenty of information about what works and what doesn't when it comes to investing in the stock market, many myths still refuse to die.

Lenny @ Best Money Saving Blog writes If you are single do you need to invest in life insurance? - Life insurance is a very important acquisition as it allows you to provide for the people left behind after you die. In the vast majority of cases this means your dependents such as a partner and any children you may have.

Jack @ Money Saving Ethics writes These 5 Savings ‘Tricks’ might not be so good after all - Even the best intentions that you have for saving money can sometimes lead to financial problems.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes Mortgage Loans – 5 Tips to Future Proof Your Loan - Nothing is certain in the world of finance, but there are definitely ways we can protect ourselves and plan for the future.

Oscar @ Money is the Root writes How Much Risk Should You Be Comfortable With - There is no One-Size-Fits-All answer to this conundrum. Investment is inherently risky.


Heart Before Mind @ Heart Before Mind writes How to Overcome Adversity - When striving to achieve anything in life, obstacles are inevitable. Learn how to overcome adversity and use it for growth.

Thank you for visiting the latest edition of the Lifestyle Carnival! Submit your blog article to the next edition using the carnival submission form at Blogger Carnivals.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

W hen I was first asked to be featured in an upcoming episode of Live Artifacts, I was on my way to a much deserved tropical vacation.  

It is hard to commit to internet related things in Jamaica until you touch down.  You just never know what the wifi situation is looking like. 

Ultimately, I got it together after being on hold for several minutes with Digicel Broadband.  That was back in January...

Fast forward to February, I was able to catch up with the creator of Live Artifacts and she interviewed me about my art life.  You can catch that episode here.  

But first, I am sure you are dying to know what Live Artifacts is all about, right?  Well, listen to Shurvon Haynes, a fine arts visionary and the creator of Live Artifacts share her vision in the audio below.

Click here if you are listening on a mobile device.

Be sure to head on over to Live Artifacts Episode 2 and check me out on the interview.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments, below.  Oh and don't forget to share this post with other artists who may be interested in gaining some exposure!  



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