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Monday, December 29, 2008


Erika and I had a doubledogdare with her unmentionable commission she has been working on for more than a year...and my new website design for Leslie B. DeMille.

Since hers is 'unmentionable' and mine is not, I can show you mine.

I fixed the issue I had with a phantom purple color that was just gross. Don't know WHERE it came from. Got that fixed, and the type face changes with links visited...needs to be fixed, except at least it is not PURPLE!

Still missing a few things, like captions and names for paintings...and updating his workshop page...and probably a hundred other things...but it is close enough to rescue him from hostage with an $85 a month fee for 'hosting'. I got him a new hosting plan for $9.95 a month that will probably do for a l-o-n-g time.

I'm a bit proud of this because it is totally designed and programmed by ME...using a template would have been MUCH easier, but the challenge of doing a design just for him was fun. A template would have been much easier and quicker, but not as 'creative'.

Been doing web design for at least 10 years...which basically means nothing because it all changes every day. What I was used to is passé. Every software upgrade requires a new learning curve. The web consortium (now that is a big word) changes what a designer can do all the time. Being in my 'left brain' is fun, for awhile. Urania (Christy Tarbet ) tells me I could have a good business teaching 'how to market for artists'. Sounds an awful lot of work. away from painting.

Tim tells me I need to paint more. Erika and I talk about how to position ourselves for whatever brick/mortar gallery business there is for us...and how to utilize the web for art sales. Dustie and I talked about domain names...she has had several successful ventures in the world of 'free clipart and google ad clicks'. We talked a long while about internet marketing and generally agree that it is the most viable way for an artist to create a 'following' that will drive gallery and website sales. (ps: she encouraged me to develop my own free clip art site here ). That project got me away from painting for at least 4 months last winter...:) BUT, I did reserve a new domain name today, Don't go there yet, it is not linked to anything yet.

However, what I learned with programming for the Paypal connection will definitely come in handy for what is next.

marketing/painting/marketing/painting...chicken and the egg? Or is it simultaneous? I can't answer that question, after 25 years in advertising and marketing. I sure can't seem to fluff up my 'stuff'.

Maybe 2009.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Just for FUN

One of my favorite blogs here had a link to do a questionnaire that will result in your Tarot card. The cards are beautiful, and the outcome feels correct!

So you can now refer to me as 'Empress' instead of 'Princess'. lol! Now I command the world to make me a famous (selling) artist!

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.
The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.
The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Thoughts, New Paintings

I am NOT going to apologize to the world that I haven't posted in awhile. Could have. Didn't. I like to have some new photos to go along with the boring word stuff...and didn't have any.

We skipped a week at Tim's , so I had 2 paintings drying at his studio (for safety). I don't know where my 'home studio' time went. Except we are completely out of the big house, and this one looks like white trash lives here! Will get it put away soon. Still having workers here with electrical, plumbing, etc. Glad to have them here...just finishing all the little things that a new home has to have (as in, it is kinda nice when all the commodes work correctly).

I'm still enjoying having Tim challenge me with what I want to paint in class. 3 weeks ago he blew me away with a roll of paper towels. Shoot, that was going to be a walk in the park with a bucket of chicken...bring it on, big guy! Huh. Ok. Thas' right. huh. huh. Boy, was I way wr-wrong! hardest thing I think I've ever tried yet! The roll picked up golden tones from the easel, and red tones from a flower pot.

We talked about composition and how something so simple can still be effective. Had fun...great exercise!

Lots of texture. More color than shows in the dark areas...Still haven't figured out the new camera and shooting from north getting some reflection and glare. Used one of his paintings for the pommies.
Started it one week, and finished it the next. Now what to do? I'm putting him through his paces...and my classmate, Jerry (Plumlee, co-pres of Artists Northwest Arkansas) is being put through his paces copying Sargent and others. 
Got back from lunch and Tim had set up a silver rimmed martini glass in front of a blue board...sitting on the same gold easel (a Jack Richeson w/c taboret). 
I just got right down to it...other than showing me a few stroke techniques...this one is all mine! Fabulous textures and rich colors. We varnished it yesterday (Tim uses Gamblin paint varnish that you mix yourself). It is watery consistency, and basically a retouch varnish, easily removable. I brought it home yesterday, and when I got settled down to paint this afternoon, realized the electrician was using it to put his screws on! I about had a fit...

'Chin-Chin' Vicki Ross

He suggested writing the name of the painting in the wet paint with a pencil. Chin-Chin is what the French friends say when they toast. Kristina thought it was an exotic toast based on some oriental emotion or something. It was quite a time before she learned they just are mimicing the sound crystal makes when clicked together. I'm now on the lookout for fabulous drink glasses for painting. Have even been looking at all the gift sets at the liquor stores for something stunning.

So, if any of you local people have something, let me borrow it, OK?

I might gut up and take a few photos of the garage tomorrow...6,000 sq ft of 'stuff' into 3,500 new house. Don't know how we managed to accumulate so much in the 7 years since the fire when we had nothing. I still think the Indians had it right...when the weather changes or your teepee gets dirty...pick up that sucker and MOVE IT!

OR, have you ever thought about the first Neanderthal woman who got the bright idea of using a tree branch to sweep out her cave? Prompting her neighbor to not only sweep out HER cave, but brought in a weed for decoration? It escalated from there to where we are now...remember George Carlin's skit on 'Stuff '?

Over and Out...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sue Smith and Things That Need To Be Said

I guess this is a common issue among artists...old masters were encouraged to 'copy' other old masters. We are encouraged to see if we can 'copy' a Sargent, or a Reid. All in the name of learning. However, when does this cross the line?

I have known of a couple instances where one artist so completely copied another's style that the original artist quit doing her own! And the fake looks good, until you put the 2 artist's work side by side, and the fake pales by comparison. Perhaps copying is all the fake can do, practicing until he/she feels it is 'theirs'. With enough time, even the local public won't know which came first. Please, do yourself a favor. Find your own voice, technique, and compositional style. If you do choose to 'emulate' another artist, always give credit with the title...and even mark it on the back of the canvas/painting as 'after Sargent'...and assuming you do it well enough, future owners of the painting will know that you are paying homage to another great.

Forget the grey areas of 'I changed it enough to make it my own', 'I took the photo myself (but copied another's composition/lighting idea)', 'I put a different fabric on the sofa', 'Mine is watercolor, the original by the real artist was oil', blah, blah, snore. There are no excuses for studying another artist and trying to be just like them. Give credit where credit is due and realize that it is much easier to develop your own style than to copy another artist's style.

Sue Smith, Ancient Artist blog, reports on this quite succinctly in her latest blog entry 'Quick - What art career questions should you never ask?'

Sue Favinger Smith is a professional artist who began her art career at the age of 50. She writes Ancient Artist: Developing an Art Career After 50, a blog dedicated to empowering artists seeking to reinvent themselves at mid-life. You can subscribe by visiting

Quick -- what art career question should you never ask?

Answer: "How did you do that?"

I'm not talking about the simple curiosity question, "Gee, that's beautiful, how did you do it?" I'm talking about the standing at the art opening, walking up to the artist and saying something like "I'm an artist, too, so how did you do that ?"

In the corporate world, asking a competitor how they made their secret sauce would be considered corporate espionage. So why is it any different for artists?

I was asked this question recently, and my answer was, "I've spent several years experimenting and pushing the envelope on what I could do with the materials I'm using. Even if you copied me, it wouldn't turn out the same for you. You need to experiment and find your own way."

The funny thing is, this person is a highly respected artist in her own right, working in a different medium, of course, but she's "thinking about a change."

Being artists, we operate in an extremely competitive environment, and there's a fine line between being "influenced" by a particular artistic style, and "appropriating" what someone else is doing.

If you are influenced, you have responded to a larger trend and applied it to your own exploration, using your own visual style.

If you are appropriating, you're not only taking someone else's creative output, but you're stifling your own. And one day, you may realize that you've "stifled" your creative abilities into oblivion.

So what's the real question behind "How did you do that?"

It goes directly to the heart of the issue of developing a signature style. We're told that in order to succeed we must have a signature style, a consistent body of work that is immediately identifiable as "ours." In Ancient Wisdom: Emerging Artist, the Business Plan for Mature Artists that I am currently working on, I will go into this subject in more depth. But until then, here are some suggestions:

A Signature Style can be developed through your choice of subject matter, a specific technique, color choices, or anything that occurs repeatedly - either through a subconscious approach or a deliberate design - that is uniquely yours.

Paint every day and your stylistic mannerisms will quickly emerge.

Choose a medium (oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography) and stick with it.

Choose a format, or a limited number of formats (square, a 2.5 to 3.5 ratio, on custom sized panel) that you use consistently. If you are a potter, choose several types of vessels. A photographer might choose B&W, or focus on Large Format work.

Push yourself to innovate, to take risks in doing what you've never seen done before. Use materials in "totally inappropriate ways" - which is what I once told an interviewer when she asked about how I created some of my work - or focus on doing one specific thing very, very well.

You will know when you're on to your Signature Style. Everything will flow. You won't be forcing yourself to emulate someone else's style when you don't feel the same inspiration they felt. Your work won't feel stilted or stuck, but liberating and pure joy.

And the best part?

Knowing that you have a Signature Style is a huge confidence builder. It is what you should strive for, struggle why would you ever deny yourself that by copying others?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why I never throw away travel photos

Thanks to my studies with Tim (Tyler)  I am feeling better about my abilities and progress as a 'real' artist. Those of you who have been at this spot for years may look at these new paintings and shake your heads that I think these constitute 'real art'. And in 6 months I'll look at these and be embarrassed that I did too. HOWEVER, that is the way it goes in the art world. Just as you reach a certain level of proficiency and get a bit comfortable with discover a new technique, a new pigment or brush...or switch from oils to pastels or to watercolors. Tends to shake things up a bit, ragged results for awhile, then calm again.

I've found as well that 6 months in oil actually improves my pastel efforts. Haven't figured out what improves my watercolors, except a week studying with 'my' Charles Reid!

SO, to illustrate the title of this post. I never throw away any of my travel photos. My photos are not intended to make museum quality prints with composition, lighting, filters etc. Mine help me remember the smells, the awe when I see something that might make a good painting, and so on. I've kept photos that were out of focus...then when I read about 'shut one eye and squint the other' to enable you to simplify your source, I remember the photo I took and kept 6 years ago.

This method requires a good sized hard drive and photo management software. Being a Mac and iPhoto user, I can put my hands on the exact day we were in Cape Town, South Africa in December 2002.

Yesterday I packed a couple hours at the old house, came home and unpacked a few boxes in the future studio, and then rewarded me with a bit of paint time. Worked a bit on the one from last week, and got 90% on a new one. Both from Cape Town, both the same day

These are very loose oils, and look better from across the room than up close.

December 20, 2002. Look at this glorious sky!  just realized that my water is bigger than the photo...and the clouds are more yellow in can tell that my bay area is more daylight than the photo.
Chuck and Maureen arrived from the states, and were staying at her sister's house. Mike and Paulette's house was barricaded from the front, and had fences on all windows (on the inside, like store fronts in big cities). Every time they left the house, these had to be closed and secured to prevent theft. We were invited to dinner (we were ensconced in a wonderful 200 year old home B&B. (funny story. our travel agent booked us a hotel, and with a flurry of activity, Mike and Paulette found us this charming place instead. Turns out the original hotel was a prostitution destination!), Prostitution is legal there.
Anyway, their house is high up on a hill overlooking Cape Town Bay. On a clear night you can hear the sounds of performers down on the Victoria and Albert Wharf singing.
Anyway, inside and outside on the deck all evening. Couldn't seem to get enough photos. Here are a few more (in a slideshow)

Photo badly out of focus...but I liked the drama. For some reason, 2 brush strokes are showing up in the upper right hand corner, looks like bugs bunny! Not this visible in the painting. Also, painting is a bit darker. JJeez, maybe I shouldn't post these after all!

Maybe I should go back to moving.