7 ways to keep your remote team on track and happy
How are you and your team doing? I realize many of your employees were always remote but for many, Delta is delaying some workers from getting back to the office and that's just frustrating when we thought we were in the clear. Just this past June I was looking forward to scheduling live events, the kids getting back to school and returning to some sense of normalcy.
It’s getting lonely here so, I was thinking about ways to cope with burnout, telecommuting, balancing work, and family obligations while living under shelter-in-place orders in my area of Austin, Texas.
There are some practical things we can do to help remote staff members experience connections, build stronger social bonds and alleviate feelings of isolation.
Read on if you want some suggestions…
With joy and creativity,
Donna Blodgett Lita – Owner, Laugh A Lot Art Events
For more ideas on how to creatively connect and laugh with your staff, visit laughalotpaintandsip.com
Donna B. Lita
Owner, Laugh A Lot Art Events - "I'm passionate about connecting people online through creative activities where they can relax and laugh their lil' tushies off"
In my opinion, you shouldn't have to fight for the the right to PAAARTY... sip and paint artwork that you're going to want to look at again and again with pride!
So, I'm going to share the rub on the artist's cheate sheet."
It's the use of transfer paper! Many will consider this cheating or copying. Yep, paint and sip parties are just that... copying an artist for fun - it's not fine art. It's not really even a lesson - though you may very well learn a lot! Like, how to avoid dipping paint into your wine and drinking paint water (I say this tongue in cheek.) So, as long as you aren't taking one paint and sip class, following a guided painting and then try to sell your final piece claiming it as your original artwork, I'm gonna say go a head... copy and play with paint. Fine artists have clearly earned the right to use transfer paper as an "artist's tool" and not call it a cheat, because they have educated themselves and put in the practice, demonstrated their mastering of fine art drawing and painting skills. If you just want to play with paint and party with friends... AND you want your final art to look good enough to display on your wall (in your closet... away from juging eyes) then "here's the rub"...
THE CHEAT SHEET
Are you familiar with carbon paper?
It's where you place the sheet of carbon paper underneath your drawing paper, to transfer a copy to the sheet below. Well, graphite paper works exactly the same way. Okay so, I may be old because I have learned early on the time saving benefits of using transfer paper out of necessity as a graphic designer before the advent of computer-aided-design technology. Before I discovered transfer graphite paper, I used to spend hours re-drawing sketches or images from prints onto my canvas. I occasionally used the grid method and many YouTube art instructors will start their lesson with that method. Since my classes are about having fun experiences playing with paint and not fine art lessons, I'm not going to put you throught that grid method - plus I personlly hate doing it. (Never did, never will.. just rubs me the wrong way.) I just want to make it simple for you right off the bat!
(Read on to find out how to use transfer paper. )
Pros & Cons using graphite vs carbon transfer paper
I have inherited a box of carbon paper, so that's what I am using in the photo pictued here... BUT there are benefits to graphite paper.
The main reason graphite is a good choice is that you can erase it! You cannot erase carbon imprints and it can also be too dark - showing through your watercolor paintings and light areas of most other paint mediums. I have noticed that graphite paper is easier to find but often more expensive than carbon paper. Carbon paper can be re-used over and over for a very long time. Graphite paper is also re-usable but may not last as long. Graphite paper can be messier especially if you press too hard. When you paint over the graphite it could smudge. Carbon will not smudge nore budge when painted over. You may prefer it for some purposes like using thicker paints, painting on glass or wood. Experiment with both and see what you prefer. Did you know you can easily make your own graphite transfer paper? (See how to make your own graphite paper at the end of this blog.)
How to transfer an image using graphite paper
If you're not sure whether you're pressing too hard or too soft, gently and carefully lift up a corner of the reference photo and transfer paper to see what's going on underneath. (Be careful to only lift up a tiny piece, because you don't want to throw everything out of alignment.) You need to use just the right amount of pressure. If you press too lightly, the image won't transfer very well. If you press too hard, the transferred lines may be too dark. Dark lines are not a problem if you are painting, as you can just paint over them, but the excess graphite will smudge when painted over. If you will be creating a drawing, then take care not to press too hard.
When you're finished, slowly release the painter's tape from the canvas, lifting each corner one by one. I recommend inspecting the tracing closely as you lift each corner. Leave one side still taped to the canvas to form a hinge, so that if you see some part that you may have overlooked, you can try to replace the graphite paper and template and redo that area.
Graphite paper can be smudgy, so wash your hands immediately after removing the paper from your canvas. You don't want extra smudgy fingerprints on your canvas.
DIY Graphite Transfer Paper
Did you know you can make your own transfer paper with stuff you probably already have? The best part, besides being almost free and super easy to do, is this transfer paper can be made any size. You're not limited to the predefined small rolls of transfer paper that they sell at art stores. And you don't have to wait for delivery or go shop for it.
You will need a #2 pencil or a stick of graphite (preferable) similar to a pastel or peice of chalk and a peice of computer paper, or any lightweight art paper or tracing paper.
Simply cut the paper the fit over the size of the image or template you want to transfer.
Rub the graphite all over the page - or better yet, print out the template and rub the pencil graphite all over the BACK side of the template making sure you cover all the lines you will be tracing. You can tape the template to a window on a sunny day with image facing your window and see the lines that you want to cover right through the paper. Saves some time and only cover the areas to be transferred with the graphite.
Now you can either place the graphite covered page down onto the canvas, tape it in place and trace the image as instructed earlier in this article. If you made a full piece of graphite covered paper, you may place that page graphite side down onto your canvas and tape it. Then tape the image/template on top of it. Be sure to tape on one side firmly in place with painter's tape so, you can still lift it from the other side without the pages shifting.
There you have it!
Transfer papers are a great time saving artist tool that helps you create acurate in proportion images to get you started on a fun painting experience! Remember - learning to draw is essential for fine artists to master their skills. We don't all have to aspire to being fine artists to earn the right to paint. Learning to play and have fun with art materials and expressing your creative side is for everyone and you have the right to a paint PAAAARTY! Click... And now here's what you really want.
Online painting parties are a great way to safely connect with friends, family and co-workers right now as we stay home during the COVID-19 Pandemic. That means you will need some art supplies! I say keep it simple. You might be overwhelmed by the vast array of paint colors to choose from. What paints to buy for your your online art party? Laugh A Lot Art Events suggests 5 paints. CMYK process colors and white are all the paint colors you need to mix and get any color.
Take a look at the image to gauge the colors because the paints may not be named process blue or cyan, for example. Usually the blue in the primary color wheel is navy and has too much of a purple tone. Look for a brilliant blue, or cerulean blue. The yellow we recommend has no orange tone so consider cadmium yellow or lemon yellow. Red usually has too much yellow in it or blue in it so try a deep magenta. (It's like a dark hot pink.)
You can find links to Michael's Arts and Crafts and Amazon on laughalotpaintandsip.com for acrylic paints, paint brushes, and canvas.
These are just suggestions so that you can ultimately paint any image you choose. If you are painting for fun and free-styling it, you can get creative with any paint colors you already have on hand.
Not all paint and sip party providers are set up to reach all your friends, family and coworkers nationwide as franchises likely have limited territories to prevent infringement between their locations.
Laugh A Lot Art Events are experienced and equipped to make your online art classes, or online art party seamless and private with the help you need to get your supplies: paints, brushes and canvases inexpensively and efficiently so you can relax, connect, create and laugh a lot!
rCould you ever imagine we would be on lockdown due to COVID-19 for this long?
My heart goes out to those at home alone missing social interaction, and I am so grateful beyond words for those following the stay-at-home orders while the true heroes, medical professionals and essential workers risk their own health and well-being every day to provide for all of us!
As you try and maintain your lifestyle in the face of lay-offs, volatile stock markets and limited resources, have you noticed how little material goods you really need? I have. It's a lot to navigate but have you discovered some peace? I have. Perhaps you may have taken up a new hobby or revisited an old one you never had time for? Maybe some new business ideas and methods have come to mind! This may just be the start of a new Renaissance for inventors and creatives! I see the phrase of business "pivoting" everywhere! Are you pivoting? I am.
Though I can't say the online art social is a new concept for me... it's more like an idea I kept on the back burner. So, now with this COVID-19 pandemic and directives to stay at home, this business decision has been made for me. I was not sure how to stand out as the market is being flooded with ZOOM online class offerings, so we are pivoting. We are actually adding a little twist to the art party to make it more accessible and fun since not everyone is going to have access to art supplies needed to follow along with a guided painting. Zoom over to laughalotpaintandsip.com for some fun, affordable creative, art based activities, games, team builders and socials that will have you inspired, pivoting with joy... and maybe a few laughs during these challenging times.
Laugh A Lot Mobile Art Events, like all companies, is concerned with the unprecedented global challenges that we are facing due to corona virus (COVID-19). During this time of uncertainty, the health and safety of our customers is our highest priority. In addition to monitoring guidance from local, national and global health organizations, we are taking precautionary measures to ensure that we minimize risks. We have disinfected all supplies and materials and have not held public events as of February 27, 2020.
We have made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all live events and gatherings until further notice. We will resume events as soon as it is safe to do so.
In the meantime, we will be offering family-fun online classes via the Zoom platform.
Laugh A Lot Art Events will continue to monitor guidance from federal, state and provincial governments and we will update our business practices and policies accordingly.
Thank you for being a Laugh A Lot Art Event customer. We wish you and your loved ones and co-workers good health, joy and creativity - and perhaps a little laughter!
Donna Blodgett Lita
Owner, Laugh A Lot Art Events
P.S. Please be advised that our website is being revamped to accommodate the conversion to online offerings, so please visit again soon as we make updates!!
Why Are We Still Lonely When More Digitally Connected?
Remote workers are more likely to quit because of loneliness, according to Dan Schawbel, author of "Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation."
Cited in the article Why workplace loneliness is bad for business by Kathryn Vasel, CNN Business
"Employees who feel lonely are tied to lower job performance, according to a recent study by Ozcelik and Barsade. The study also found that lonely employees were less committed to the company and seemed less approachable to their colleagues.
While it can be hard to identify, loneliness can spread easily. "We catch emotions from each other like viruses," said Barsade. "We don't realize it's happening; it becomes behavioral mimicry."
Lonely workers can get stuck in a negative cycle that's hard to climb out of. They tend to push away those trying to help, which can ultimately lead to a talent drain.
You could have someone working in the middle of a crowded work area, but they aren't close with anyone and feel lonely." - HAKAN OZCELIK, A PROFESSOR AT SACRAMENTO STATE
"They start performing less, and companies might be losing their best employees because they are lonely," said Ozcelik."
It's not just at work. People are lonely at home and look to social media for comfort.
With access to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and all other ways to digitally connect socially, you would think we would feel better, have more business opportunities, be in lasting relationships and get together with friends more often. Perhaps it's just nice to know we have options. Are we using the temporary sense of connection and validation to keep us safe from making real face to face connections and in the end feeling more lonely and less significant?
Life-coach, Tony Robbins often refers to the "Crazy 8" - a vicious cycle. "I feel lonely, unloved, and disconnected so I go on social media and make a post, then check for "likes" until I feel validated. I see other peoples posts and their lives look better than mine, spending even more time on FB as I get sucked down the rabbit hole looking for meet-ups and events to attend until it's too late to join because I wasted all my time searching for the best option. Besides, I don't want to go to those events alone. I feel like crap. So, I make another post and "Yeah! my best friend I never see anymore 'likes' my post! I feel better... for now." Let's 'face-it' Facebook and dating apps, as well as digital hiring practices can't replace authentic in-person interactions.
How can you SNAP OUT OF IT?
We have to change the behavior. That can be uncomfortable... like a first date, starting a new job, taking a class or learning a skill.
You will need to take massive action:
"People build real friendships by not always talking about work. When you get outside the office you are more likely to open up," - Schawable.
Would you like to be the genius hero that makes the difference in your workplace?
Flow is defined as “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” It is commonly used to describe situations where an individual is performing above their normal level. Sometimes it’s referred to as “being in the zone.”
The 8 Characteristics of Flow
By psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:
Help Your Employees Find Their Flow
Researchers from St. Bonaventure University asked students to participate in activities that would induce flow either in a team or by themselves. Students rated flow to be more enjoyable when in a team rather than when they were alone. Students also found it more joyful if the team members were able to talk to one another. This finding was replicated even when skill level and challenge were equal.A final study found that being in an interdependent group whilst in flow is more enjoyable than one that is not. So, if you want to get more enjoyment out of an experience of flow, try engaging in activities together. This beautifully echoes Christopher Peterson’s conclusion that positive psychology can be summed up in three words: "Other People Matter!"
Take you team out -or bring a mobile team builder in for a few hours - to connect with each other on a more personal level and have them participate in an activity that helps them practice getting into a state of flow. Most art or craft based activities engage all people with various skill sets when partially guided and then left for free-flowing abstract creativity. "When I host team builders," says Donna of Laugh A Lot Art Events, there's a lot of excitement, banter and giggling at first, and then suddenly silence, as individuals find themselves fully immersed. That's the flow state!" It's a good way for your staff to have fun, relax AND discover that feeling of flow so, they can bring that feeling and put it to practice back at the office. "You have to experience it to recognize it."
JUST ONE CANVAS??
That was my question for the young woman who contacted me about a surprise for her "Mamie" she affectionately refers to her grandmother. I get a lot of requests for paint events by luxury apartment complexes for socials, companies for creative employee appreciation events and birthdays & showers, etc. It involves prepping sample art from our gallery and packing up several canvases and easels and making sure there is plenty of seating, easels and supplies for each artist.
THIS TIME was different. This rather large family wanted to give a gift of one collaborative masterpiece to their 'Mamie' - a gift from their hearts as she returned home after a series of medical treatments to celebrate her healing and express their love and appreciation.
So, I made a visit to the beautiful home they had decided to hold this family reunion and paint event (I usually make sure I see where I will be setting up in advance.) I was greeted by two big adorable and rambunctious puppies and mom just getting her kids after school snacks. Pets and small children around paint can be a challenge. They had a lovely pool as well, which makes me think - please don't leave me out by the pool with kids! (Yikes - danger, I can't watch them and run a paint party!) She graciously showed me the garage (no AC in Texas heat?) We looked in the foyer (too wide open for pets and children running around.) Then, there was a guest room with french doors off the pool & barbecue grill area with it's own bathroom - perfect! I could cover everything with painters drop clothes and take 2-3 painters at a time into this room with the large canvas and the family can entertain and reminisce by the pool. My mind was focused on the logistics of the event and keeping the home spotless through the paint activity so the host could focus on her thing.
The day arrived and I quickly went to the dedicated room and set up. I was prepared! What I wasn't prepared for was the emotion this amazing sweet and fantastically funny family drew from me as I spent time with them painting. They shared about themselves, their stories about cousin's, siblings & grandma and their insecurities about painting on this huge canvas! "I don't want to ruin it!" The little ones where actually the most confident. We started out with a sample garden scene but after consulting with "Mamie" first about her favorite colors, and with each family members individual contributions the painting just took on a life of it's own!
The laughter and singing in the other room made it a warm an wonderful experience. It was supposed to be a surprise for Mamie but I think it was a beautiful surprise and precious gift for me to see a family united in love!
Donna Blodgett Lita
Owner, Laugh A Lot Mobile Art Events - Connecting people with their creative side and others through art and laughter.
By Donna Blodgett - Nov. 30, 2017
As a single woman, in a city that's growing faster than you can swipe left on your dating app, I was wondering where all the single men go after work; because they aren't at the places I'm hanging out. In fact, everywhere I go I am surrounded by vibrant, intelligent, beautiful, single women!
Well crap! I love women... but I don't "love, love" women if you know what I mean. It' also a reminder of what I am up against. The competition is stiff around here. Stiffer than a... (okay that's enough with the metaphors - this one's all yours.)
But, I digress. I am in a few singles Facebook groups. So, I posed the question to the men in one of the groups, "Where do you guys go after work during the week?" Most responded that they stay at work late so they don't have to go back to their lonely, empty apartment to early, they go to the the gym then home, or they just go home. Come on guys!!!! They are in that group saying they can't seem to meet any quality women. Here's a clue... unless you order delivery - think mail order bride - the girl of your dreams is not likely the pizza delivery girl. (No offense pizza-girl. She's not likely reading this blog anyway.)
I still haven't received much feedback about where to meet successful, ambitious men that don't hang out in bars. I got grocery store, home improvement stores, business networking groups and some meetups or the dreaded dating app. That's okay because I did end up meeting a great guy the old fashioned organic way. Through a good friend (who met him on a dating site.) I guess one girls trash is another girls treasure and I treasure my very creative guy!
Anyhoo... What I did learn is that some of you guys could use some help. So my gift to you is a goldmine of gorgeous girly go-to's:
1. GROUP FITNESS- We prefer group workout classes and they are overflowing with fit single women. If you prefer your manly weight lifting gym that smells of svety balz, that's good for you, but try adding a yoga class, or an Orange Theory Fitness group training. If you are really "balzy," you will find the female dominated Zumba or Barre fitness class is teaming with girls that will fall all over you... if you are friendly, confident and not creepy. (Google "How not to appear creepy.")
2. SALSA or SWING DANCE LESSONS- It' drives me crazy how men are out-numbered at dance lessons and socials. I have met so many wonderful people (most of them great women) at dance. The lessons start after 7 pm and socials might be after 9 pm every day of the week here in Austin.
Since there are usually more women at the socials, we ladies have to be assertive and ask the guys for a dance or we could be sitting and waiting all night. (Weekend lessons also run throughout the day.) I like Inspired Movement on South Congress in Austin but there are many more options.
3. PAINT & SIP LUXURY APARTMENT SOCIALS- This is where Laugh A Lot Mobile Art Events gets a shameless plug. I host paint and sip socials at residential communities and they are generally attended by both genders but, predominantly 30 something single women here in Austin. If you are a single man living in a community that host these FREE socials, it's a no brainer!!! GO! If you are introverted, you can busy yourself at the art project - it's a great ice breaker. There are also many paint & sip venues found in local strip malls and art night out you can sign up for through their website.
OTHER PLACES: Shopping Malls, Coffee Shops, Meet-up Groups (Art & Travel = WOMEN)
Good luck and whatever you do... always be creative and laugh a lot!
Women & Group Exercise: Theories From a Male Instructor - by Eric C. Stevens