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Already April !!

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated April 26th, 2012)

Incredibly, it’s April 26th.  Not generally, a good day for me – my little brother’s birthday was today…and since he has passed away, I can no longer wish him happy birthday.  Life is more fragile than we think about most of the time.

I have not written in my blog for very many Wednesdays now.  I have not been sculpting (until just two days ago) either.  I have been concentrating on getting my portfolio made, reproduced, and sent out to art galleries.  I have also been entering shows.

I go into all the whys for this in my newsletter and if you are curious and don’t get my newsletter – send me a note in Facebook or through my contact sheet on my website and I will add you as a subscriber.  The newsletters have lots of boring information about what I’ve been up to – but also, information about what I learn about making art my career and I share the resources I have found that help (or hurt) me along the way.

Artists are still not taken very seriously in terms of the fact that they are an important aspect of society in all the ways any other wage earner is – except artists must be intrepid enough to embrace that their art must fit into a – for lack of a better explanation – business model of some kind.  We work much harder than many, I think.  We think about what inspires us all the time.  We create, we also must sell, and market and book- keep and promote and correspond.  What we create is so personal and close to us, that to have it scrutinized by people we don’t even know can be too hard.  It takes an astronomical amount of psychic energy to remain determined and focused.

Artists have a responsibility, truly.  We interpret the world in a unique way just like everyone, but we are given the ability to manifest our unique interpretation into something that can be shared with a vast amount of people and enrich the lives of those people.  Something that can be seen visually-be that a book or painting or film, something that can be touched as well, (an element sculpture adds) – or something that can be heard such as music.  Combinations of these things – written words, lyrics added to music.  Taste – an amazing meal, a fabulous glass of wine.

Think of all the people in the world who have some incredible book they have written, one that would enlighten and inspire countless others.  But the book is never published.  A thousand reasons why, very good reasons perhaps.  But that person was given that story – and it was not meant to be kept a secret, was it?

Now.  I “see” these horses I sculpt.  How important to whom could a collection of horse sculpture possibly be?  I do not think that it is for me to say.  For me that destination is not important.  What I keep in my mind and my heart is that it is something I am supposed to do.  That feeling, the I AM SUPPOSED TO DO THIS, burns me up inside sometimes.  The “because” is not for me to know, and I very nearly do not care.  I may never know in my life.  I have an ego that says that fame and fortune might be fun – but living one day at I time I think that this is the day I will have and I must do what I have been directed to do.  Make the horses and share them in every way I can think of to do that.

Leap Day!

(this is a reprint of a post written on my blog dated February 29th, 2012)

Hey!  It’s the 29th of February – Leap day – a bonus day in 2012.  I have a newsletter to write today (although I’m waiting on photos and won’t post it until tomorrow) and no time to do both. (Sorry)  But did find an interesting article for my artist friends out there who are selling their own creations.  TAX info about a new form.  This is a reprint from another blog I saw it on, and they reprinted it from somewhere else.  Check it out!  Very good information.

Clearing Up Confusion On Tax Form 1099-K

This guest post is brought to you by, the easiest way to manage your business finances online.

In an earlier post, we briefly covered the brand new tax form 1099-K. Basically, we told you that it exists, and could be a headache for ecommerce sellers around the world.

But the more we cover the 1099-K, we notice we still get a ton of comments and emails from Outright users who have just heard of it.  Furthermore, they seem really confused about what precisely is on the thing and how to use the information on the 1099-K when filing their taxes!

So, we’re back to settle the score with the 1099-K. Hopefully after reading this post you’ll have a better understanding of this mysterious document and whether it will really affect your business.

What Exactly is Reported on the 1099-K?

The purpose of 1099-K is simply to report to the government income earned by U.S. Citizens via electronic means (i.e. PayPal, Amazon, eBay, credit cards, etc.).  But, income is literally all that it tracks.

If you’re wondering if the form tracks business expenses – it doesn’t. Or PayPal fees – nope, none of those. What about refunds and returns? Uh-uh. The figure found on your 1099-K simply reports how much in income you made through PayPal (or whatever electronic payment processor issued you the form).

Because of this, the amount reported on your 1099-K might seem a little higher than you expected. But that’s okay. If you have kept track of all of your business expenses – fees, refunds, cost of goods sold, office supplies, advertising, etc. – then you won’t be hit with a huge tax bill. Just remember that it’s your job to show the government your expenses when filing your taxes.

Where do I Report the Amount from my 1099-K when doing My Taxes?

Another source of confusion is where to enter the figure found on the 1099-K into your taxes.  For self-employed people and LLC’s, there is a specific form, the Schedule C, that’s used to report to the IRS. But the wording on this year’s Schedule C has some people thrown off.

You do indeed use Schedule C for entering the information. And this year, there’s a dedicated line for the 1099-K…line 1a. But wait! The instructions next to it say to enter “0” for 2011 no matter what. So what gives, pal?

The reasons are mysterious, and may serve just to get people ready for the 1099-K’s prolonged existence. But whatever the case, go ahead and mark down that “0” on line 1a. The line you want this year is line 1d, which lets you give total gross receipts for stuff like credit card transactions. But one caution: the IRS still receives your 1099-K this year. If the 1099-K shows you made $50,000 while you report a mere $20,000 in income, you are going to hear from the IRS with some very pointed questions. Once again, that’s why it’s so important to include ALL of your income on Schedule C line 1d but to then track your expenses.

That’s really about it! But one more time, make sure you remember to track and record your own business expenses and deductions, as again the 1099-K doesn’t take ANY of that into account. But hopefully the mystery has been taken out of the process and you can put your taxes behind you soon and concentrate on selling once again.

If you have any more questions or concerns, head over to our Tax Resource Center!

Worried about that Schedule C? Create a free account today and make tax time less taxing!

Posted by: Outright, Inc.
What are you?

(this is a reprint of a post made on my blog dated February 22, 2012)


Back when I was first in college, my chosen major was art.  I was excited about it.  The year before, I had “fallen in love” and was still with that same boy – whose opinion of art majors was that “it isn’t practical”.  I wasn’t sure what “practical” had to do with it.  “The only artists who ever made any money did after they were dead” was his declaration.

Being a person who is visual to a very high level, I tend to be moronic about verbal cues thrown at me.  I am very literal about words, they mean what they mean, no more no less.  It is something that can make me incredibly gullible (especially if I only hear or read words and cannot see someone’s face while they’re talking for clues) and at times I can seem to have no sense of humor.  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Don’t know.  Did someone let it out of the coop?  But I digress.  If I’m an art major I will die impoverished.

Faced with “the declaration” – I now doubted my choice; perhaps my chosen major wasn’t wise.  The end of the story is – I changed my major after that five times during college – ending my college career with a BA in Psychology.  And all that studying about how to understand the human condition didn’t help me understand why the drive to create never went away, no matter how hard I tried to suppress it.  And that great “practical” college degree never helped me earn more than an average hourly wage of about $12 an hour…at a succession of unfulfilling jobs working for other people.

I know.  Being an artist will not help me “make a living” any more than my eye color will.  I have to have supplemental learning, luck, acclaim, popularity, skill, the support of others and the universe all – all, for that to happen.  At this time in my life I don’t have to “do” one thing to make money so that I can be myself, and “do” sculpting.  I am lucky enough to be married to someone who loves me and encourages me endlessly and is happy to work and keep our finances on track – all so that I can be who and what I am.  I am lucky and blessed, and thankful.  Many of us are not so lucky or blessed, but we still work at our creative endeavors because we can’t help it.

Isn’t that a powerful thing to know?  We cannot help that this is what we are.  It is simply a state of be-ing that cannot be chosen because it chooses the person where it will reside.  And then in our lives we are whispered to, or sometimes shouted at, by the drive to create, bored of anything else if it isn’t somehow creative.  Back when my major was chosen, I didn’t know this.  That this is what I am – just as much as that color is the color of my eyes.  And neither can any other creative person help it, suppress it, or ignore it.  I didn’t know that being an artist is not a career choice or an endeavor that one chooses as a way to earn money.  Our goals and our drive may be success and making money too.  But at the heart of that wish to be famous or wealthy is really the desire for vindication in society (where very often others choose to see us as odd or foolish), that we are OF VALUE.

And just look at what we “do”!  Some of us write, or make music, or dance.  We are painters, or glass blowers, we throw pottery, or weave, take photographs or, like me, sculpt.  People who do not have this in their DNA or have it only somewhat do not understand “it” to be “normal”.  What if not having it isn’t “normal”?  We are every bit as important to society’s health and happiness and advancement as people who chose more traditional money making careers, in many instances – it could be argued – more so.  So why the bias?  I don’t know the answer to that.

But next time someone asks me “what do you do?”  – I’m going to say “sculpture”.  And if they say then, “Oh, you’re an artist…hmmm?” than I may very likely say, “Well, yes.  Who and what are you?”

(this is a reprint of an entry from my blog dated February 15th, 2012)

I have had an incredible week .  Dropped off Relax! and Itchy! at Deb Bakel’s so they can get their patinas and picked up the 4 Looks! she had completed.

Aren’t they beautiful? – Here is all 5 together and they love their new patinas – as do I.  It is hard to see from my poorly done photo here, but they have browns and blues and greens with white veining underneath…about 7 layers of color done with heat and mineral and paint.  Their feet are left plain unfinished bronze as are parts of their manes and tails.  These came out so wonderfully.  I am so excited to see how Relax! and Itchy! look in their new patinas…I get to see them tomorrow morning!

Watch! is in wax chasing in Loveland – in the more than capable hands of an independent business owner/artisan named Kathy Page.  She and her husband, Bob, own Page, Inc. in Loveland.  Bob is a metal chaser. (Why are these people running after wax and metal?- you may wonder).  Meeting them last Friday was great fun.

I have made the decision to wait on finishing the last sculpture in the series of seven, called “Wait!”  Since the original is about 3 feet high it will be more expensive to cast.  As I am in the B.S. state of sculpting and reproducing the sculptures (B.S. = Before Sales) I want to keep “Wait!” on the back burner.  Little did I know how appropriate his name would be.

A couple of nights ago I imagined a beautiful girl horse walking around the edge of the big oval jetted tub in our bathroom – perhaps the way she might circle a watering hole before wading in and taking a drink.  She is very dainty and has the sweetest face.

I made a “sketch” wire armature for her yesterday (about 24″ tall) and will have her complete the series of seven instead of “Wait!”  I don’t know what her name will be yet and may ask everyone for help with her naming in an upcoming newsletter in a month or so.

Hope this next week is good to everyone.

Until then!


(this post is a reprint from my blog dated February 8th, 2012)


An exciting week – all the Looks! have their new beautiful patinas and I am nearing completion of Leap!  On Friday, Relax! And Itchy! will be in the creative hands of Deb Bakel for their patinas as well so look for new photos of them all on my website by the end of the month.

So each week when I’m not sculpting – while surfing the internet, checking out potential galleries and what shows I would like to try to get juried into – always thinking about the wild horses (of course) which then occasionally leads me to think about politics…it’s interesting that they go together.  And I don’t really like to put my brain into political thinking mode because it usually is frustrating and depressing to me – there are so many things going on that cannot be seen, questions I think of that I cannot find straight answers for.  I didn’t think that in the beginning of my journey to sculpt our horses that I would be thinking about politics…but here I am, thinking about politics.  A lot.

I came across an interesting report published in 2006 by Taylor Jones and Mark Salvo titled “Mortgaging our Natural Heritage” – it begins:

     “What would you do if you owned 180 million acres of land in the American West? Would you lease almost 80 percent of it to livestock grazers (many of them corporations) for 10 percent of its market value, only to watch livestock shear off the native vegetation, erode the soil, degrade water quality, reduce water quantity, destroy riparian areas and harm endangered species, native plants, and wildlife? When grazing fees to use your land did not cover the cost of monitoring and protecting the natural resources, would you then pay millions of dollars of your own money every year to cover the shortfall?  And would you then stand by and watch as those abusing your land received additional millions of dollars in loans using the grazing privileges you granted as collateral for their debt?

     Bad news. You already are.

     On public lands owned by the American people and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), federally subsidized livestock grazing is rapidly destroying the vitality of our native ecosystems. There are many good arguments against continuing federal public lands ranching, including myriad economic and fiscal arguments. This report details another one.

     What has only recently come to light is how individual grazing permittees, with the aid of lending institutions and the tacit complicity of theBLM, collateralize their federal grazing permits to finance their public lands grazing operations. Both the Forest Service and theBLMsanction the use of publicly owned federal grazing permits and leases as collateral for private bank loans.”

Collateral for private bank loans?…..interesting.

Speaking of politics L I came across this diagram:

It’s a bit outdated – not reflecting where our current president would be, or those running for the GOP nomination…but it isn’t too hard to figure out where to put them.

Speaking of Economic Elitists,   I came across this as well:

“Although Norwegians may not tell you about this the first time you meet them, the fact remains that their society’s high level of freedom and broadly-shared prosperity began when workers and farmers, along with middle class allies, waged a nonviolent struggle that empowered the people to govern for the common good.”

This is the last paragraph of an article written by George Lakey called “How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘One Percent’”.

It’s thought provoking to be sure and this particular article is in a lot of places all over the internet – it seems that the Occupy Wall Street movement latched on to it.  Regardless of how you feel about OWS, though…read this article.

I believe history can teach us very relevant-to-today lessons.  This could be one.


Seriousness aside now:

ha ha ha ha ha!!!!


Back to the horses.

Have a great week!


It’s February!

(this is a reprint from my blog dated February 1, 2012)


So I’ve been working on several things this week in the studio. Got a Look! sculpture back from the patineur who will be doing the patinas on my sculpture – he is now a beautiful blue/green/brown with lacy white underneath.  I believe Deb said he has 7 different coats of various types of applications she used to get the effect.  Look! is very proud of his new “look”.

It is a beautiful patina for sure (and the photo below does not do it justice, but stay tuned…they will be on the website soon).

Thanks Deb!

bronze horse sculpture Look! Alex Alvis Sculpture

I have been working of Step High! as well, while waiting for various parts of Leap! to dry…since Step High! has only two feet on the ground, I am doing a lot of thinking about how to keep her free-standing.  It may not be possible to do until she is bronze, as the foundry could perhaps weigh her feet to keep her from falling over.

I cannot believe that it is February 1st already!  I have this voice that whispers that I must hurry…and so I do.  It is an exciting thing to have the time to work on the horses full-time and I love every minute I spend in the studio.

I got to spend time with real horses this week, as my cousins have a couple of them and we visited and groomed and it was a fun way to spend part of Sunday!  Thanks girls!

I finished reading “Straight from the Horse’s Heart” by R.T. Fitch.  If you love horses, it’s full of great stories and a portion of the proceeds from the book go to help Habitat for Horses help horses.

Every day horses are abused and across our borders (perhaps within our borders again soon) they are slaughtered.  There are proponents for and against the slaughter of horses.  Some people have the opinion that a quick death at a slaughter-house is preferable to a slow death from abandonment and abuse.  But is that really true?  Or is that just something we are told so that we will feel okay about it?  I think that they are just different sides of the same awful coin.

Rather than argue the ins and outs of how a horse dies in a slaughter-house (is it quick? Is it painless? …are you sure?) – I would simply argue that they are every bit (more so throughout history) as important a companion animal to us as dogs and cats.

Do we slaughter the dogs and cats no one can take care of and eat them?  Or ship their shrink wrapped bodies overseas so other people can eat them?  Does the thought of doing that make your stomach turn?  And since when do slaughter houses kill any animal in a “humane” or “painless” or non-terrifying-to-the animal way?

Why are the only alternatives to unwanted horses abuse, neglect or …slaughter?

Could it be because there is potential profit made from horses being slaughtered?


As it says at the end of R.T.’s book, “If these issues speak to your heart and soul contact Habitat for Horses and become a part of the movement to stop the shipping of horses across our borders for slaughter, save the wild Mustangs from extinction, and educate your family and friends on the plight of the American Horse in general.”

Do What You Love!

(this post is a reprint of one of the first posts on my original blog)

Not very many years ago, I was not doing as much art as I would have liked.  I certainly wasn’t doing art with an eye toward making a business from it, making a living from creating art.  I am blessed by the fact that I have so much time to devote to it now, and a bit overwhelmed by the business aspects of making it a business.  I am also blessed that I have a clear vision of what my sculpture is supposed to look like and that it is unique in many ways.

So what do you do when you must do something to make a living that does not particularly make you feel alive?  Are you convinced that you cannot make a living doing something you love and so you go on making a living doing something you hate?

How do you find your way free from that?  You have bills to pay, right?

Well, here are some suggestions:

Think about what you liked doing most when you were a kid.

What made you happiest while you were doing it?

What about later in life?  What were you doing when you were happiest?

If you have hobbies, what are they?

Think about where you work now and what kind of people you are happiest working with and doing things for?

If you work for a company, what is it you are doing that benefits your company the most?

Can you make a business doing that freelancing?

If you are a great negotiator…can you be a negotiating consultant?

If you have a great strategy for selling anything, can you market and sell that?

There are people every day that worked for someone doing what they are doing now, and now own their own business doing that very thing.  I spoke today with someone I want to do the patinas on all my sculpture and her enthusiasm for what she does is evident.  Well, after working for foundries for years, she started her own business doing patinas.  Her work is a work of art all on its own.

Think about when you were in school, what did you do best?  What was your favorite subject and why.  It may not have had anything to do with your major.  I was a psychology major, for heaven’s sake, also a mom, also a spouse…all the time while I was in college.  But I always took an art elective when I could, I always did something creative, maybe I made a birthday gift for someone instead of buying something, or I might have searched for a really great sounding recipe and cooked it for dinner.

Think about all the times you are having the most fun with other people.  What the heck are you doing?  When you are having the most fun by yourself, what are you doing?

You have had an unusually “fun” day at your crappy job…why was it fun?

You love organizing your finances and paying your bills.  Do you know how many people in the world  really hate to do that?  Could your business be to do that for the people who hate doing it for themselves?

How about organizing stuff?  You are the best organizer of stuff you know – there are people who are hired to organize stuff.

And if you know for sure what you would love to do most, you don’t have to jump right into doing it.  You don’t have to be radical, quit your job – whatever.

Maybe you love fixing bikes – why not work at a bike shop one day a week?   What if you love bread?  Why not learn how to make artisan bread – take a class.

Find out about other people who have started a business based on what they love to do and how they did that.  Especially if they started a business doing the same thing you love to do.

Do you love to shop at thrift stores?  Why not start collecting the coolest things you can find, use that money from the job you hate to rent a storage unit and put it all in there and then open a shop and sell it.  How much fun will you have just finding the stuff in the first place?  I know someone who loved to go to garage sales and one day started re-selling her great finds on e-bay.  She started an antique store.  Another friend of mine’s mom loved sea shells.  She started a business after years of waitressing called She Loves Sea Shells and other shops.  This same friend, is an artist as well, you can see her beautiful original ceramic mermaids and buy them on Etsy and in art galleries in Florida.

The point really is, if you hate what you have to do for “work”.  Don’t despair!  Be proactive!  Set aside a certain amount of time a day (15 minutes…30 minutes) to think about what IT is that you might love to do.  Then think about how any of those things can be profitable.  Make a plan – a map of the steps you need to take to get there.

When you are working at something you genuinely enjoy, it is an inspiration.  You may feel guilty about it, as though you are just playing.  That is how I feel when I am sculpting the horses.  I am playing, just like I did when I was a kid.  And when I’m finished with a horse I am amazed by it.  I don’t know how it happened, not really.  But that is what happens.  One day it is there before you and the love and passion that went into it is evident.

Just as art that is most inspirational is the art that is a genuine reflection of the passion of the artist who creates it – while it may take a lot of time and work to find your own unique voice, and put that toward whatever it is you want to do, the intrinsic rewards it will bring you will be well worth the effort.

It also pays forward things for others that you would never be able to imagine (and may never know about).  Film actress Colleen Moore built a dollhouse that I saw in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on a school field trip when I was a kid.  It is there still on permanent display.  She worked on it until she died.  It is incredible.

She made a genuine contribution to the world, (if you haven’t seen it you are probably thinking…a dollhouse?  This isn’t just any dollhouse – its beyond what you might ever imagine) but making any contribution to the world was not the reason she did it.

We are constantly hearing in the media voices all around us that we deserve this that or the other thing.  But, I think that what we deserve to give most of our attention to is what we love most.  Whatever follows that will be of no consequence to us when we are gone, but perhaps it will be a great deal of consequence to someone else.

So why not make what you do as great as you can?