Friday, December 16, 2016

Making the Most of Your Whiteboard Calendar

You might have noticed that I love functional art, organization, and versatility. So naturally, I decided to create an extremely versatile art print designed to add a bit more order to life. My Whiteboard Calendar Prints are prints of watercolour paintings which have a calendar grid on them.

Vary Niche Fine Art Whiteboard Calendar tips and use ideas.

Use Ideas:

  • Use them as Monthly Calendars by filling in the month and numbers (and if you get a blank one, you'll also have to fill in the days of the week either permanently before you frame it or wait until it is framed).
  • Use them as Weekly Schedulers by filling in times or family member names down the side.
  • Use them as Monthly Goal Trackers by filling them in as a Monthly Calendar but write your goal at the top and the month along the side.
  • Use them as Weekly Goal Trackers to track multiple goals or separate goals for different family members by filling in the goal or person at the start of each row.
  • Use them as Weekly Food Diaries by filling in your meal times along the side and then what you ate in the corresponding square for the meal and day of the week. 

Frame Selection Tips:

Keep it simple but durable! Mine are framed in simple black poster frames that are sturdy enough with solid enough hangers on the back that they can stand up to being removed from the wall when I'm in scheduling mode or need to switch months. I spent about the same to get more durable poster frames by waiting for frame sales at Michaels or using coupons. 

Get plastic instead of glass if you can. The frames I bought come with glass in the smaller ones but plastic in the larger ones so I've had the opportunity to try both. I like the plastic better because they make the whiteboard calendar lighter (and thus more mobile) and easier to photograph (less glare). Anti-glare glass is usually also conservation quality designed for watercolour originals, numbered prints, and the like (so extremely good quality and priced accordingly). You want to write on go with something you'll be happy to write on!

Choose the frame colour/style for versatility! You might want to get a frame that will match the room decor rather than the piece so if you want to change the calendar print next season, you don't need a new frame for it.  (Again, this is the opposite of what to do with original pieces of art.) You may want to stick with a simple black or white frame because you'll likely be writing on the piece in black whiteboard marker anyway. Alternatively, you may want to get wood frames to match your table, cabinets, desk, or bookshelves. 

Pro Tips

Get two or more: Whiteboard calendars are fabulous, versatile, and reusable but I always find I need to look ahead into the next month or week for scheduling. If you get two and hang them together as a set, you can rotate them so you always have the current month and next month in view. 
Photograph last month/week before erasing it: I love how environmentally friendly these are but I miss being able to look back at past weeks or months for notes I wrote on my conventional calendar. The need to photograph them is one reason I prefer to have mine framed under plastic instead of glass.

More About How I Made Them

In some cases I taped the grid off and then painted with watercolour over the top (as I did with the magnolia calendars pictured below). In other cases I did a watercolour painting with the intent to digitally add the calendar aspects afterward (as with the veggies one above). 

Vary Niche Fine Art Whiteboard Calendar with magnolias on a marbled turquoise background.

Vary Niche Fine Art Whiteboard Calendar with a magnolia on a marbled turquoise background.

Set of two Vary Niche Fine Art Whiteboard Calendar with magnolias on a marbled turquoise background.

And in a few cases, I digitally added the calendar aspect to landscapes I previously painted (like the set below which are prints of acrylic paintings, "Sailor's Delight" and "Sailor's Guide").

Set of two Vary Niche Fine Art Whiteboard Calendar with a sailboat and a lighthouse seascape.

My calendar prints come unframed so that you can match your frame to your needs but in order to make them a Whiteboard Calendar, you do need to frame them. 

I hope you found this helpful. If you don't already have a whiteboard calendar print or don't have enough, you can shop here.

If you've come up with more uses or tips, please do share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Implementing a Writing Pipeline System

If you've been keeping up with me lately, you've noticed that I haven't posted here for a VERY long time. I made a decision to set my art business and blog aside to focus on my mental health and graduate research (in that order). Apologies for not announcing it here at the time, it was hard for me to write anything at the time and I needed to put every ounce of energy I could muster into academic writing.

I'm still focused on my mental health and graduate research but writing is a bit easier now so I thought I'd share something here that I'm going to try: A Writing Pipeline!

Try a Writing Pipeline System to track Academic Work. Read more at of my friends shared this post on writing productivity by Associate Professor Erin Marie Furtak, in which Prof. Furtak shares her writing pipeline and its 11 stages. I am always excited to implement a new system to organize some aspect of my life so, of course, I took some time out to procrastinate from my research in order to plan better ways to organize my research. 

I have been using Workflowy for several months to keep my brain organized so have implemented Prof. Furtak's pipeline using Workflowy for tracking. I will eventually write something up about the various apps I've been using to aid in getting my dissertation done. For now I'll just tell you that I like Workflowy's online (computer) version for data entry and reorganizing. The synced phone app is great for checking things off or adding one more thing (except its glitchy at present when I try to use my phone to add something to a shared list). I'm still using the free version. 

Back to the Writing Pipeline. I decided I'm going to try to use it at my current stage rather than waiting until I'm finished my dissertation. I think it will be useful for:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Art Process: Grey Scale Mountains Commission

Image of completed mountain landscape with title and Commission Requirements checklist: Semi-Abstract Mountains, Grey-Scale, Just Landscape (No Animals)
"Grey-Scale Mountains" was my first commission piece and I painted it in March of this year. It made a great first commission project because the requirements were simple; they wanted a semi-abstract mountain landscape to fit the space above their headboard in the master bedroom. They also wanted it to be a grey-scale piece and requested that I keep the landscape free of wildlife.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Vary Niche Beginnings: Blog Set-Up

Every business these days seems to need a blog. When I started Vary Niche, I thought my business was going to revolve around my blog. It revolves around my art now, but I learned a lot in the process of setting it up so thought I'd share. This isn't a technical how-to guide; it is a conceptual where-to-start guide with links to some of the technical articles I found helpful.
Vary Niche Business Beginnings: 7 Step Blog Set-Up; platform, template, colours, background, layout, widths, details; www dot Vary Niche dot com.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Smile More!

This week, my little change is to smile more. A smile can be a powerful thing. Just using the facial muscles required for a smile will trigger the production of the hormones that make us feel happy. Once the happy hormones are flowing, smiling feels more and more natural.
"A smile is a powerful gift." Emoticon and text over painting by Shari Monner,

What a simple little change...with such great feedback. Not only will I be happier myself but every time I smile at someone, I have a chance to make them feel just a bit happier too. Whether they are compelled to return a genuine smile or feel socially pressured to return the smile and use those special facial muscles, I have made that someone happier; I have made their day better; and these happy feelings will feed back to make my day better too.

With every person I smile at, I will feel better and better, the smile will feel more and more natural, and my environment will become increasingly friendly.

Smile Tips:

1. Keep that smile on your face even after the recipient passes...nothing ruins a smile exchange like the premature relaxation of those smile muscles…so hold that smile longer even when it feels a bit forced.