A fresh StART to 2015

With 2015 on our doorstep, now is the time to take your greatest wishes and make them into tangible goals. We’ve created a list of resolutions to help you get started on a banner year. Use our list to make your own, catered to your dreams and aspirations.

*Make more time for your art
Prioritize, people! Don’t let your projects get crowded and shuffled out. Use a specific timetable or format so you won’t forget.
It might be a good idea to have a calendar in a place you visit a lot. You could make every Tuesday at noon your sketch time (or whatever usually gets shuffled out of your weekly tasks). That way, you know that when you wake up on Tuesdays…yay! It’s sketch day!
Even if it’s only a couple of hours a week…write it down on the calendar, and in permanent ink! Whatever the task is, make it the same day and time so nearly everything you do will eventually become a habit.
You may need to enroll in a class so others will hold you accountable. This could also help you get back to the basics and help you remember why you fell in love with the craft in the first place. Search our online directories to find other artists like you and contact them.

*Apply for more fellowships & grants
There are lots of opportunities out there, and no reason why you can’t apply to at least one fellowship or grant this year. To find opportunities from us, visit our website. At the top, right corner, you’ll see the “Grants” tab. Take a look around. If you have a question on one of the opportunities, find the program director responsible. Call and/or email them. It’s our job to help you.

*Network more…face to face
This may sound scary…but get out there! In every single session of the Creative Industry Summit, each speaker reiterated over and over how important it is to get conversations going about art in our communities.
Make it a point to attend events, like Kentucky Crafted: The Market, as a vendor or a shopper. Either way, I’m sure those there, or at any event, wouldn’t care to give you tips of the trade. Try not to see them as competition, but comrades. Check our online calendar for upcoming events you might like to attend. You can also go to our home page and hover your cursor over the first tab, “Kentucky Art”, then “Experience the Arts” for some.
I would also make a point to visit art retailers around the state. Click this link for a list of our Kentucky Crafted Retailers. Talk to them! Network! Share war stories!
Also, don’t think you have to attend events catered specifically to your craft. You could attend something different. For example, if you’re a painter, attend Poetry Out Loud. You never know, it could help you find inspiration for your next project.

That brings me to my next suggestion…

*Get out of your comfort zone
Make it a point to do at least one project a week that’s different than what you would usually do. This may mean a different genre, or use a different canvas size, etc.

When you do…

*Post your work online
This includes your personal websites, blogs and social media pages. Post the good, the bad and the ugly and ask for others’ opinions to get a conversation started. Post the entire process and ask for “help” on what to do next. You never know, your fans may even want to buy something because they’re proud they helped you in the process. They may want to invest in your creativity.

Share your resolutions with us in the comments of our blog, or on our social media pages!

Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant

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Give a Gift Ky staff picks

We’re lucky enough to live in a state steeped in tradition, where high-quality art and craftsmanship is right at our fingertips. The holidays are the perfect time to commemorate those traditions and incorporate them into our celebrations. Throughout the month of December, we, at the Kentucky Arts Council, have been compiling lists of gifts, décor and events to help everyone create and continue traditions centered around artisans throughout the state to help you do just that.

On our website are many gift giving guides that include categories such as the gift of performance, holiday décor, and local music (just to name a few). You can check out the entire list on the Give a Gift Kentucky website.

On our social media pages you’ll find suggestions hand-picked by the arts council staff, which includes some of our favorite pieces by Kentucky artisans. Everything from paintings and jewelry to books and music are included.

Below is a slideshow with each piece, including the staff member who chose it:

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If you would like to see a personal write-up by each staff member on why they chose each piece, visit our Facebook or Pinterest pages.

We encourage you to share gifts you gave or received this season by posting them on our social media pages and using hashtag #giveagiftky.

If you still weren’t able to find the perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for person in your family, check our directories page.

Megan Williamson Fields, communication assistant

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Have a holly jolly Kentucky Christmas

Elf rules:
1. Treat every day like Christmas
2. There’s room for everybody on the nice list
And most importantly, #3:
giphyI love Christmas music. The yuletide tunes help spark the fire of the holiday spirit in your belly every time (especially if some of the holiday spirit in your belly is also eggnog). However, if you’re like me, you may also become tired of the same songs over and over. Let me help you switch things up a bit. Artists from our Performing Arts Directory offer their own take on Christmas through a wide range of genres, and we’ve put together a list for you.


For more music from Kentucky artists and ways to purchase albums, visit our Performing Artist page, or our Give the Gift of Music site. You can also check out our schedule of performances by Performing Arts Directory artists and at Kentucky Arts Partners performing arts venues from our Give the Gift of Performance site.

Feel free to play your new tunes in the background of Christmas parties. I’m sure your guests have heard the classics. Now, you can give them the gift of a Kentucky Christmas.

Heed a little warning from me: Switching up your seasonal songs could make you nostalgic for the classic Christmas carols of yore. It makes sense. I know I can’t leave behind the tradition of my dad yelling “BURL IVES!” at the end of every sentence the crooner sings. It may be a good idea to slowly incorporate these new goodies into your already-extensive stockpile of oldies.

by Megan Williamson Fields, KAC communications assistant

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O (Kentucky Crafted) Christmas tree!

Each Christmas tree is special. There’s so much love shared around it. They help light up the season and put an extra twinkle in our eyes.

When I think of Christmas trees, I’m reminded by the one my family would put up year after year, adorned with what seemed like hundreds of ornaments. See, my mom is a teacher in southern Kentucky, and receives dozens of ornaments before each Christmas break. No branch is without a treasure from a past student. It seems like she kept every single one of them and they all carry a special message, picture or memory. We would always put up the tree while Elvis, Nat King Cole or Amy Grant serenaded us in the background. We would tell crazy stories, re-ignited by each ornament, of my mother’s tenure, like the time a kid came to school with a living, breathing bat in his backpack. Yeah. That happened.

One of my favorite things about Christmas trees is they hold different meaning for every family. Hopefully, each ornament is as unique and memorable as some of the stories shared around it.

I also remember having the privilege of putting my own ornament on the tree each year. The ornament was of Gus, the goofy mouse from Disney’s Cinderella. It was such an honor for me, especially being somewhat shy and suffering severely from what can only be described as middle child syndrome.

Gus

Everyone say hi to Gus.

We have a wonderfully witty blog series here at the Kentucky Arts Council by the talented Sarah Schmitt called Good Food Deserves Better. She talks about serving food on better-than-average dinnerware like Kentucky Crafted items for the kitchen and dining room. Your Christmas tree deserves better than generic pieces many of us buy on impulse, usually because they’re marked down. Your tree is a centerpiece for Christmastime and the season’s traditions.

To help you out, below are just some handcrafted ornaments from here in Kentucky. I urge you to start your own traditions with them. For instance, you could buy one each year and give it to a specific person, like the matriarch of the family, or a new member you’d like to welcome. You could even do an annual ornament exchange, like a Secret Santa where everyone buys an ornament. Make these new traditions your own.

Gourdament from SnP CraftsReImagined ornamentJudyGeagley owl ornament

There’s more where those came from…literally. We have a directory for holiday decor on our Give a Gift Kentucky holiday décor site, which includes more ornaments to start (or continue) your collection. I challenge ya’ll to find some one-of-a-kind ornaments made in Kentucky this Christmas and to carry on that tradition year after year, filling up each and every branch on your tree.

I would love to see what you find! If you don’t mind, post a picture of you and your handcrafted ornaments new and old on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and tag us in the picture. Don’t forget to use #giveagiftky. Your pictures would absolutely make our hearts sparkle here at the Arts Council.

Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant

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Don’t duke it out for discounts

You may have seen the countless memes about trampling others for deals merely hours after saying thanks for what we already have.
black-friday-meme

Yes, Black Friday can become an addiction. Yes, the deals are alluring. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to spend hours with my aunt, whom I rarely see, in the wee minutes of the morning dressed in tactical gear on a hunt for the greatest deal of all time. Trust me. I’ve hidden on Kmart shelves, perched like a jungle cat, about to pounce on the next person that cuts me in line. I don’t care if it is my Kindergarten teacher.

Now that I’ve seen the light of shopping small, however, I’m reminded of the Cars.com commercials where the buyers miss the drama in car-buying, so the salesmen create it for them. Let me lead you down the path of not just shopping small, but shopping simple. Sit back, take your time, sip some coffee from a Main Street store. Relax.

In my recent quest to become the ultimate shopping small guru, I’ve heard many an excuse as to why it just can’t be done. Excuse me, while I scream into a pillow.

Excuse #1:
“It takes too much time”
You spend hours around a table after eating your turkey, searching, documenting, planning and mapping your quest for the best discounts, right? So why can’t you visit one or two stores that may be a few miles away? What if we spent that much time and effort thanking the people and small business owners of our communities?

That brings me to the next excuse I often hear.

Excuse #2:
“There aren’t any stores near me”
Don’t give me that. But, for your sake, let’s say there really aren’t. There are way too many online options nowadays. To start, take a look at our Pinterest page and see what you like. There’s links to order from artists on our pins. If you find an artist you like, email them, visit their Etsy sites. It’s way simpler than getting in a punching match with a soccer mom on Black Friday for the last 5 percent off stuffed bear at a mega-chain.
Below is a handy directory to help you find some small businesses near you.
Excuse2
Season’s Greetings at Kentucky Crafted Stores and Galleries
Make your shopping fun by attending special events at retailers known for carrying gifts handmade in Kentucky.

Excuse #3:
“Black Friday is a family tradition”
As I said before, much fun and memorable experiences were had back in my Black Friday dealin’ days. However, there are exceptional happenings across Kentucky for Small Business Saturday (and on into January) that the entire family can enjoy. Several retailers are hosting special events and promotions throughout the holiday season throughout our state. Here’s some new traditions for ya’ll:
excuse 3
Artists’ Open Studios and Holiday Shows

Kentucky artists adjudicated into Kentucky Arts Council programs will be hosting art tours and open studios as well as participating in exhibits and shows during the holiday season.
special events at artisan center
Special Events at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
In addition to being a cornucopia for gifts handmade in Kentucky, the Artisan Center will have a busy schedule of artist demonstrations, book signings and musical performances throughout the season.
performances
Celebrating the Season in Performance
Taking a break from the shopping holidaze might be the perfect therapy for getting in the spirit of the season. Check out this schedule of performances by Performing Arts Directory artists and at Kentucky Arts Partners performing arts venues.

Excuse #4:
“Items at small businesses cost too much”
Use your time wisely this week. Start calling retailers (listed above) and ask about their holiday and Small Business Saturday specials. Chances are they’ll cut ya a deal. You just have to search them out, much like you would in a sales paper. Below is another way we’ve laid out a gift giving shopping guide to get you started.
gifts
Great Gift Ideas
Paintings, prints, books and craft by distinguished Kentucky artists who have received the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship Award make the perfect gift for the art lover on your list.

Remember, if when you find timeless treasures from a small shop, post it to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, and use #giveagiftky to show us what you found. Chances are we’ll re-post on our social networking sites.

Megan Williamson Fields, communications assistant

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