Monday, March 31, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 4)

"You've begun your journey, you have your map, and you know your destination. Myself, I'm destined for the "long road". Like many artists, I began my career later in life. I have no "Fine Arts Degree" and to top it off, I live in a small Midwestern town...right in the middle of corn country. Yet against all odds I've managed a satisfying degree of success."

On a personal note: I've been touched by everyone who sent emails and posted comments...the response to this series has been overwhelming. I believe as we share our own experiences we encourage others. Thank You

Developing Real World Marketing Strategies:
As an artist, it's my creativity and my passion for the "vision" that inspires and moves me forward. The process involved in the development of a new piece gives renewed energy and purpose. Where as the idea of "hitting the streets" with portfolio in hand to garner gallery representation can put me in a fetal position in the corner of my studio! Well...sort of.

The internet is a great marketing tool for today's artist, but it's not the only answer. If you read the blogs or websites of professional artists you will notice they are also mentioning other venues... private shows, juried exhibits, teaching, and galleries.

The truth of the mater is this...unless you get out there and promote your work you're going to end up with a huge private collection...your own "private collection" to pass on to your children. I would much rather be in my studio working, but it didn't take long to realize that I needed to get out there and personally market my art.

First things First...promotional and presentation materials:
  • Business Cards and Brochures...I designed and printed my own for my first few exhibits, keeping them simple and professional. My first brochure was a half page...It had a photo of my art on the front, with a short bio. and artist statement on the back.
  • Presentation of your art...all original art should be properly matted and framed, unless using deep edged canvas. Prints need to be either in mats or mounted, and packaged in clear bags for protection.
  • This is your introduction to your public...present yourself and your art as professionally as your budget will allow.
Exhibiting at Juried Art Fairs:
1. A good starting point...join a local art club. My first exhibits were group exhibits held by the art club I belonged to. Exhibiting with others was a secure feeling. I could test the waters without a huge investment and get feedback from the public. I made connections with other artists that proved helpful when I began doing my own shows.

2. Preparing for my first "solo" art fair...Where better to find out the truth about the art fair circuit than from an art fair exhibitor. I spent the summer before my first show going to juried art fairs close to home. I was not there to see the art but there to see how the art was displayed.

I "tent shopped", checked out displays, packaging of prints, framing, quality of art being shown, and in general how the artists set up their area for traffic flow. I asked questions, made notes, getting names of suppliers for display materials I thought I might want to use the following season, and a list of other recommended art fairs.
  • Local Art Fair Listings: Every state has a registry for arts and craft fairs. You can usually contact them for a free catalog or view a list on line...a good place to start.
  • Fair Source Book...Art Fair Calendar are national registries for juried and non juried fine art and fine craft venues.
Juried Art Fairs have proven to be both an excellent source of income and exposure. I was careful of my set up costs and able to pay it off with my first summers income. Hundreds, of people pass through my both each weekend. They look at, touch, and talk about my art. They're able to make a deeper connection with my drawings as I answer their question and explain the process and inspiration for my work. It's a personal connection.

Sales for the most part have been good. I read somewhere that 80% of your sales will come from 10% of your shows...and this has proven to be true. I book most of my portrait commissions during the summer months as a direct result of my art fairs. I build my mailing list and get names of those interested in classes. For me it's been a win win experience.

Creative Marketing:
1. Specialty Shows...I once raised and showed Standard Schnauzers...there's usually a vender's area at these shows, selling breed specific items, and there was always at least one person offering commissioned portraits and selling prints.

If you specialize in a subject such as dogs, cats, horses...this could be a good venue to try. Thinking "out of the box". How about wedding shows, home shows, or antique car shows?

2. Talk to business owners about hanging your work in their establishments. Good venues for this would be car dealerships, libraries, furniture stores, interior decorators, frame shops, banks, hair salons, and restaurants. With some thought, I'm sure you could come up with even more.
  • Have a portfolio and a plan for each call you make.
  • Be ready to explain how your exhibit will benefit them.
  • For some you could just do a "hanging"...bringing in new pieces every few months.
  • For others you could present the idea of doing an "opening night" to meet the artist...with invitations and refreshments.
3. Plan a "Private Showing". Consider doing a private show from your could be just the excuse needed to get it de-cluttered! Your patrons enjoy seeing your work space. You could even leave out a partially finished piece. It's spring...plan a garden party. One of my artist friends had a very successful one man show at a "collectors" home.

Bonnie Luria of St. Croix-nicity converted her breezeway into a beautiful gallery setting for a one evening show.
Be creative in your thinking. A large invitation list is wonderful, but not a necessity. JUST GET YOUR ART OUT THERE TO BE your reputation grows so will your sales.

4. Email and "Snail Mail" Marketing...I know this sounds like "Internet Marketing" but I would rather refer to it as "Personal Marketing".
I purchased a piece of jewelry from an artist two years ago. I receive a note from her twice a year...around the Christmas Holidays and again in the spring to let me know her show schedule. She is a wonderful artist and I've worn the earrings often, yet I would have forgotten about her had she not done this one thing.

Court your regularly communicating with those who have shown an interest in your art or have made a purchase. In order to do this you need to have an organized mailing list.

Clint Watson of Fine Art Views has some of the best information I've seen on the subject of email marketing...and you can learn how I conquered my mailing list challenge here.

In closing I would say this...Marketing is not my favorite thing to do. Like you, I'm an artist first...I'd rather be in the studio making art. As for the marketing end of things, it was the learning curve that got me...I simply had to figure out how to make it palatable.

Is it easier today than six months ago? Yes. Has it been worth the time it took away from creating my art? Absolutely Yes!

"It's The Journey That Defines You." Internet marketing alone will not get you there, but combined with a good real world marketing plan and done consistently your journey will become much easier.

Success is no accident...Success is hard work...Success is sweet!

This article continues here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

My Website Hosting Service:
Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
FASO requires No Technical Knowledge and offers
Positively Remarkable 24/7 Artist Support!

*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209)
and extend your FREE TRIAL period to 90 days.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Friday, March 28, 2008

Weekend Chat Line: What is your greatest challenge as an artist?

This weekend's Chat Line subject is linked to my latest series "It's the Journey that Defines You". Through this series of articles I've been documenting my journey as an artist. Other than my first art fair, which almost didn't happen, my greatest challenge has been conquering the internet...and it's still a learning process. In fact I have pretty much reconciled to the fact that I will always be "internet marketing challenged"! My personal goal is to continue to learn more.

So I ask you:
What is your greatest challenge as an artist? What do you struggle with regularly?
The "Chat Line" is open... I'm anxious to hear your experiences, and please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
It's The Journey That Defines You...part 1

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 3)

"At a minimum today's artist needs a website and a blog. Your website is your online "gallery" where collectors and others interested in your art can view your works in an organized manner.

The major difference between a website and a blog is that a website needs to be promoted to be seen. Blogs on the other hand are like the "Energizer Bunny"...with the ability to announce themselves and keep on doing so with every posted update you make."

Link your blog to your website and like magic it will pull your website right along with it."

Don't Be Left Sitting on the Curb.
The above quote is from part one of this series...I put it in front of you because you need to read it need to digest it, you need to believe it, and you need to do it.

The internet is here to stay. Businesses, large and small, are making their presence known to the world. Why should you as an artist be left behind? In the right hand column there's a list of marketing blogs for artists...they all say the same thing "Today's artist needs a website and a blog".

I'm just guessing, but I'll bet if you are familiar and comfortable with computers you already have a website. It's those of you who don't know how to do much more than send an email or do a simple web search that find the idea of setting up a website overwhelming.

I've been there, I was you. I exhibited my art for the first time in the summer of 2004. At every art fair as I passed out my brochure, people ask about my website. I told my friends that just hearing the word WEBSITE was a threat...and they told me I needed to get over it. I have brutally honest friends!

I spent every evening for the better part of two months searching the internet, looking at artist websites and web hosting services. I looked at so many sites that I had to start cataloging them.

The artist websites that I found most pleasing to the eye were all from the same web hosting service...Fine Art Studio On Line.

Developing a web presence that works:
The following is my "personal journey" into the world of internet marketing...the steps I took and the resulting growth in visitors to my website.

1. In late October of 2005 I set up my website. I chose FASO (Fine Art Studio Online) for two simple reasons.

  • I loved the websites other artists had developed. They may have chosen different layouts and color schemes but they all had one thing in common...THEIR ART WAS THE FOCUS. There were no advertisements and nothing jumping around at you.
  • FASO offerd 24/7 Technical Support. This was a huge deal for me. I even contacted several artists to verify that this was true...I needed the security of knowing there were "real people" to talk to. Remember, I barely knew how to email!
The basic set up went smoothly...I had a few questions but on the whole I have to say the instructions are clear and everything went quite well. Any questions I had were answered promptly...and YES there are real people if you need them! Very pleasant real people!

The Results...after all my friends and relatives did their "look see", things calmed down to where by December 'o5, I had 46 real visitors/with 510 page views. I was so excited...people I didn't know were actually looking at my work. Google had my name!

Traffic dropped off in Feb-May and then took a jump again when my art fair season began in June of '06. When my art fairs ended traffic dropped again drastically. The reality of it was this...I was no longer out there promoting my website!

2. In the April of '07 I set up the blog that was integrated into my website...calling it simply "My Studio Journal". This blog was part of my website package and had been there all along, but I never fully comprehended it's importance.

The monthly website traffic for May increased to 261 visitors/3271 page views and continued to increase monthly. December totals for '07 were 580 visitors/7721 page views compared to December of '06 (27 visitors/346 page views) ...close to 300% increase!
  • I need to say this...In the beginning I wasn't a good blogger nor was I a faithful blogger. You can read more about my beginnings here.
3. In January of '08 I set up my first "Squidoo Lens" Squidoo is a website hosting hundreds of thousands of web pages called "lenses". Each lens is one person's look at something online. It's FREE and totally non-techy. I first became familiar with Squidoo on Katherine Tyrrell's website, Making a Mark, when I clicked on her Artist Resources link.

My Squidoo Lens, Drawing Techniques: using carbon, charcoal, and graphite, is just a baby compared to the information for artists found in Katherine's lens. Here's what I did.
  • I chose the subject I'm ask about most by my customers.
  • I kept it simple,concise and interesting.
  • I linked back to my website and blog liberally and I put links to my new Squidoo Lens on my website and blog.
  • Most importantly...I included the "module" on my lens that contains an RSS feed. This means that every time I update my blog my Squidoo Lens is also updated with a link to my new article. This not only keeps my "lens" fresh in the eyes of search engines but sends people back to my blog to read the article!
The Results...To date, in three months, there have been 1127 visitors to my lens. In the past 30 days the "most important" stats are as follows.

Visitors coming directly from: My Website...38, from The Extraordinary Pencil, blogspot...128, visitors, as a direct result of blog articles I've written, clicking the provided Squidoo Link...45

Clickouts...Squidoo visitors clicking on links back to my website and blog: In the last 30 days alone there have been....246 clickouts to my Website and 105 clickouts to my Blogspot.

The beauty of my squidoo lens is this...I never have to do another thing to it. It updates regularly via the RSS feed from my blog just keeps sending people my way through the links I provided. It just sits there working for me.

4. In February of '08...I set up an additional blog (outside my website) with me yet another web presence. I'm not going into great detail here because by now you should be getting the picture of how linking to yourself delivers. But I will tell you this, since The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot went on line, the page views on my website, Marsha Robinett Fine Art, have increased to over 12,000 per month.

I still post in regularly in My Studio Blog that is integrated into my website because it keeps my website updated and the search engines love fresh material.

I give you this information to encourage you.
To prove to you that someone who once considered the word "Website" a threat can do this. I could have used percentages instead of actual figures but I wanted you to feel the impact as real as I did, as I took these steps forward.

I'm not going to feed you a line and say this was all quick and simple. None of it was as difficult as I thought but it does take time to do it right.
  • Once your website is set up, you need to upload your new works regularly and update your "About The Artist" page to keep it current...otherwise, unless you desire to make changes, your website is fairly maintenance free.
  • Your Blog...I'm of the opinion that you should post at least once a week, two or three times is better. This could be as simple as a photo of your art and a short explanation of how you did it or what it means to you.
  • Squidoo...if you decide to do this...keep in mind, it's not a "stand alone" answer. It doesn't take the place of either your website or blog. It compliments them.
The Secret is to yourself.
On my website in the center of the home page is a link to The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot and my squidoo lens has it's own topic on My Studio Blog. On my blogspot, close to the top in the side bar, are links to my website, and squidoo lens. On my squidoo lens, people are referred back to my website and blog. It's just that simple.

In addition...every newsletter, every email, and every blog post now have links to my sites at the bottom. As you can see I keep my "E Bunny" hoppin!

Note: Your Google ranking, your page views, and the number of visitors to your website will in time increase sales but cannot replace a personal contact with your customer base.

In the final part of this series I'm going talk about this and the importance of "Real World Marketing Strategies".

Remember, it's the Journey that defines you.

  • Are you prepared?
  • Do you know your destination?
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • Why are you waiting?
This article continues here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 4


Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

My Website Hosting Service:
Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
FASO requires No Technical Knowledge and offers
Positively Remarkable 24/7 Artist Support!

*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209)
and extend your FREE TRIAL period to 90 days.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 2)

In Part One of this series I compared developing an art career to taking a road trip. I touched on preparing for your destination, the importance of having a map and the need to stay focused. You've had a few days to consider your art career. It's now time to start preparing for your journey. Lets get started.
Preparation is Key:
Whether you're just beginning your art career or you're a seasoned professional preparing for a gallery opening... inadequate preparation is opening the door to failure.

For the seasoned professional artist, you've achieved many of your goals and gone on to set new ones...don't forget the good habits that got you here.

If you're a college student majoring in art, I envy you...absorb all you can, knowing that you will be getting on the road to success closer to your destination than many of us.

For those of you without professional training who are "thinking about", "dreaming about", or wondering "could I really" become an artist...I say, choose your destination, get out your map and start planning your trip!

The "To Do" list for Your Journey
1. Make a Conscious Decision...Say to yourself everyday, "I am an artist".
You have to believe you're an artist before anyone else will believe. Get the image into your head, make it part of your being. Develop and fine tune your vision...we generally get, in some fashion, what we think about and focus on most. It simply works.

Refresh and Fine Tune Your Skills:
Knowledge builds confidence. Depending on your level of skill, search out appropriate art education. There are online communities that will critique your work...join them and submit regularly. In 'part one' of this series and I gave you links to the two online forums I found most helpful. (see additional links below)

Take some basic drawing classes...regardless of your medium, drawing teaches you to see. And there is a tremendous difference between seeing and looking. Get on the web and find artists whose work you admire and ask questions. If they offer classes, sign up. I take a class or workshop two or three times a year...returning each time to my drawing board with renewed enthusiasm.

Join an art club, get together with other artists in your area. Once a month I meet with a group of painters...sometimes I paint but most times I draw. The exchange of ideas from others who see the way you see is exhilarating. Don't have a group in your area? Start one.

READ...there are lots of instructional art books by great artists crammed full of information. Most book stores today have a reading area or coffee shop where you can sit and browse before you purchase or...not. Many artists who write books also offer workshops. Some of my favorite books on drawing and watercolor are listed under the topic... Artist Resources.

What ever your medium is...make a schedule, setting aside creative time for your art...and don't let anyone or anything steal it away from you. There will be exceptions but when exceptions become the rule, you need to reevaluate...finding a schedule that is workable.

3. Create an Artist's Statement:
You may think it is a little soon for this, but it will give you strength for the journey ahead, define your goals, maintain your focus, and help you explain your work to others. For now your artist statement needs to simply explain who you are, what your art is about, and what you want it to say.

Asking a few simple questions can help you decide what to write: WHY do I draw? WHAT do I draw? WHERE do I get my ideas? WHO do I want to touch with my work. (At this stage, your artist statement is for your benefit) It will be revised many times in the next few months before it's presented to the public.

4. Develop a Plan:
To start with, on the back of your artist statement, make a list of achievable short-term and medium-term goals, creating a time line. It could be as simple as "taking a workshop" or "setting aside studio time each week" researching and planning a "small exhibition for friends in 12 months to unveil your new career as an artist".

Identify and list some steps for achieving each goal: noting the deadline for your workshop and making necessary travel plans, scheduling your weekly studio time, or preparing for your first exhibition...finding a venue, framing, designing invitations, contracting caterers, arranging for music.

Your "Artist Statement" and "Goals" are powerful tools...mine are always close at hand. In fact I keep a copy in my billfold.

5. Build a Strong, Cohesive Body of Work:
Start producing "frame worthy" pieces on high quality paper or canvas. You'll need 20 to 30 works in a style, medium, and subject matter that distinguishes you from other artists in some way.

If you work in more than one medium, select one to move forward with. You need to be recognizable if you want to get peoples attention. Galleries expect to see continuity in their artists work. Art Fairs are more tolerant but will charge a premium if you're showing more than one medium in your booth.

Well, I think this is enough to keep you busy for awhile. Remember...don't rush things, it's one step at a time. Take it slow, enjoy the journey and never, never give up on you!

Part 3 is next....Developing a Web Presence That Works.

This article continues here: Part 1, Part 3, Part 4


Carol's Drawing Club ...Scribble Talk ...artist forums
Wet Canvas
...Art Papa ...artist forums
Books on Watercolor...Books on Drawing

Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

My Website Hosting Service:
Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
FASO requires No Technical Knowledge and offers
Positively Remarkable 24/7 Artist Support!

*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209)
and extend your FREE TRIAL period to 90 days.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Old Fashioned Iris...carbon and graphite

...Old Fashioned Iris...
carbon and graphite on paper, 6x7, double matted,
prints available

This is the companion drawing to "Dutch Iris".

The Story Behind the Image: The tubers of this iris were actually given to me by my grandmother when I was first married. I've moved them many times over the years and given many starts to friends. It is a spindly little thing, getting lost easily in the garden. But for me it's beauty is in the special memories that come to mind every season when it blooms.

I took the photo reference early one morning after a spring shower. You can see the droplets of water still on the petals.

The drawing "Old Fashioned Iris" is on cream toned fine art paper and presented in a double mat. It is offered in two sizes of Open Edition Prints...check my Portfolio for the availability of the Original and prices.

My Website...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
"Old Fashioned Iris" ...learn more
"Dutch Iris"...learn more

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 1)

I remember taking family vacations
when my daughter was young. She would wear us out asking "Daddy are we almost there?" We finally gave her a map and a marker and every time we passed a city she put a mark on her map. Of course then she wanted to know.."How much longer to the next town!"

Developing an art career is very similar to taking a road trip:

You have to make plans for your destination and you need a map to get there. You have to keep focused on the map and the road ahead. If you get lost or take too many side trips, arriving at your destination will take longer. If you don't pay close attention to others while you're driving, you could crash and not make it at all.

Don't rush things:
I know sometimes it seems like others always get the breaks. But in truth some artists simply get on the "road" closer to the destination. A fine arts degree would certainly do this for you, so would living in a large metropolitan area or having connections with other successful artists.

Many artists, including myself, are starting at the beginning. If you want to succeed you must have a plan...your plan is the "map" for your journey.

Hone your skills, build a cohesive body of work, and get feed back from others in your field. If like me there's nothing in your area, check out some of the many art forums on the internet...Wet Canvas and Art Papa are just two. You can view the work of others and post your own art for critique. Posting in forums will also help you develop a web identity.

If you have no formal education in the field of art, some classes from a local Art Club or Center for the Arts might be helpful. I also took workshops from well known artists in my field. Like many artists, I had a natural talent but it needed to be refined and stretched. Just being with other artists gave me a high!

Develop a web presence. At a minimum today's artist needs a website and a blog. Your website is your online "gallery" where collectors and others interested in your art can view your works in an organized manner.

The major difference between a website and a blog is that a website needs to be promoted to be seen. Blogs on the other hand are like the "Energizer Bunny"...with the ability to announce themselves and keep on doing so with every posted update you make.

Link your blog to your website and like magic it will pull your website right along with it! Or better yet get a website with an integrated blog.

Develop other "real world" marketing strategies. This is a topic on it's own...but for now, think about how you will get your art out there in front of people? I suggest you start joining an area art club...they usually have two or three exhibits each year. Check out the Juried Art Fairs in your area. Talk to business owners about hanging your work in their establishments. You could plan a private showing...inviting friends and business associates. Work on building your mailing list...getting both email and snail mail addresses.

Stay focused on the road ahead:
You've begun your journey, you have your map, and you know your destination. Myself, I'm destined for the "long road". Like many artists, I began my career later in life. I have no "Fine Arts Degree" and to top it off, I live in a small Midwestern town...right in the middle of corn country. Yet against all odds I've managed a satisfying degree of success.

Imagine if this were a real road trip, you wouldn't just quit 300 miles from home. You would at least try to get somewhere. True, you might stop for gas and to stretch your legs...checking your map for accuracy, and gather your thoughts. But you would get back on the road again until you reached your destination.

"Daddy are we almost there?"
Your career as an artist is a journey. The gift of the journey is what you see, experience, and learn along the way. These experiences build your confidence and hone your craft.

It's one thing to read about another artists climb to success but nothing can replace living the artist's life as you travel your own road to success. There are sure to be some pot holes and speed bumps along the way. You'll know you're making progress by the milestones and landmarks you pass as you mark your own achievements.

Remember, it's the Journey that defines you.
  • Are you prepared?
  • Do you know your destination?
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • Why are you waiting?
This article continues here: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4


Wet Canvas...Art Papa...artist forums
Art Marketing Links...other articles of interest

Marsha Robinett Fine
My Squidoo...drawing techniques

My Website Hosting Service:
Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
FASO requires No Technical Knowledge and offers
Positively Remarkable 24/7 Artist Support!

*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209)
and extend your FREE TRIAL period to 90 days.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pencil Shavings...carbon pencil

...Pencil Shavings...
carbon pencil on paper, 6x7, prints available
double mat.

The Story Behind the Image: This drawing was developed as the signature piece for my blog. I felt not only was the pencil significant to the form of art that I produce, but also significant as a tool used for writing.

The Random House Dictionary defines shavings as.."the part left behind or the part that remains after the greater part is removed."

The drawing "Pencil Shavings" represents the little parts of ourselves left behind whenever we interact with others. Be it negative or positive...we are molded by these interactions and enriched by what we receive.

As for the "point"...well, we are always making a point to someone about something; in the way we dress, in how we interact with others, with the things we speak and write, and yes even with our art.

You ask "What is my point"? You are what makes my blog work. It's not just "my drawings" and my articles that people come back to see...they also return to read "your comments"! The sharing of opinions and information is what blogging is all about. Without your input, my blog becomes simply a collection of my thoughts. So, why not....Make a "Point" by leaving a comment?

The drawing "Pencil Shavings" is on cream toned fine art paper and presented in a double mat. It is offered in Limited Edition Prints and Artist Proofs...check my Portfolio for availability of the Original and prices.

Website...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
"Pencil Shavings" ...learn more

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Monday, March 10, 2008

Salad Fixins...carbon pencil drawing

...Salad Fixins...
carbon pencil on paper, 6x9, prints available,
double matted.

The Story Behind the Image: This drawing is really about how the light plays around in the shadows. Notice how the light comes through the holes of the colander and shines on the dark wall behind. The outside of the colander is full of reflected light, causing both light and shadows on the vegetables and the egg...the more I studied the photo, the more I saw. By the way, I did make a salad.

I said this drawing was all carbon pencil but actually I did use some graphite on the egg and colander for the reflected highlights.

The drawing "Salad Fixins" is on cream toned fine art paper and presented in a double mat. It's offered in Limited Edition Prints and Artist Proofs...check my Portfolio for availability of the Original and prices.

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques

"Salad Fixins" ...learn more

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Friday, March 7, 2008

March Guest Artist...Holly Bedrosian

Holly and I first met a little over a year ago through email when she was setting up her website. I was immediately intrigued with her story and her portrait work. Holly is a very talented portrait artist at the threshold of what I'm certain will be a long and rewarding career.

Today, I introduce you to Holly Bedrosian.

Holly, you majored in the sciences in college, graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics and had, "in your own words", a successful and stable job as an engineer for ten yeas. How does your experience in the business world influence you today as an artist?
"Most people are surprised to hear that I made such a drastic career change, but looking back, my career path makes sense. The sciences are not that different from the fine arts, requiring methodical processes and rigorous attention to detail. When I became mature enough to fully appreciate the importance of creativity and passion to career fulfillment and success, I knew I had to become an artist. That's probably the most important thing I learned from my previous career as an engineer."

Your career move was life changing...I have to ask, did you test the waters or did you just jump in?
"One day I was surfing the internet and came across a great source for artist website creation and marketing support, FineArtStudioOnline. Since the trial period was free, I set up a website just for fun and posted some old pencil sketches (from 1996!) that I had done. Once the website was up, I grew increasingly excited about the possibility of becoming an artist, and I started buying some art supplies. At first I tried oil paints, but I didn't like the mess and was very unaccustomed to the way the paint moved around the canvas. As soon as I tried colored pencil, I was hooked. I had (and still have) a huge learning curve ahead of me."

Do you recall what first attracted you to colored pencil and who is the one person that has had the greatest impact on your career?
"I think it was just a matter of stumbling across some remarkable colored pencil artists that first attracted me to the medium. I had no idea that such realistic "paintings" could be created with colored pencils, and I was interested in giving it a try. At the same time I had just taken on a stressful position at work, and was growing increasingly unhappy with my job. When I suggested the idea of becoming an artist to my husband, he embraced it wholeheartedly. Because of his support and honest criticism of my work, I'd have to say that my husband is the one person who has had the greatest impact on my career thus far."

Your portrait work is both exciting and yet sensitive. I wonder, have you found acquiring your photo references difficult, and are there any photography tricks you can give other artists who enjoy doing portrait and figurative work?
"Thank you! I separate my work into two categories: commissioned portraits and figurative pieces (some of which look like portraits) that are available for purchase. In the beginning I thought that I would work solely from client photographs due to convenience, but now I offer (and prefer) to set up a photography session so that I can better control the lighting, poses, and ensure that I have a sufficiently detailed reference. Also, I prefer to know the subject because I really do try to incorporate their personality into the portrait. The figurative works are primarily based on photos I take, all though my husband took the reference photos for most of the self-portraits I have done. (Of course, when drawing myself I have the mirror as an additional reference!) I don't consider myself to be a great photographer, and I have a bit to learn in terms of composition, but I am getting there. Many times I need to crop, rearrange, or only use part of the photos I've taken. I consider that part of the creative process, and important to making the finished piece a unique piece of art."

I'm particularly drawn to "Brass Ensemble" does this piece express your philosophy of drawing subjects that inspire you as an artist?
"I took many photographs at a concert I went to last winter, and couldn't quite decide on a good reference photo. To me, many of the photos looked like a jumbled group of people partially obstructed by instruments and music stands. Finally I realized that this was what I needed to capture: this chaotic group of entangled musicians that somehow finds beautiful order and harmony in it's sound. I enjoyed doing this piece partly due to the fact that my other passion is music. I also really enjoyed adding small details like the reflections of the musician's faces in the instruments and the notes on the sheet of music."

As you look back on your first year as a full time artist, what have been your greatest challenges, what are you most proud of, and what do you wish you had done differently?
"Well, I don't wish I could have done anything differently, because all of my mistakes have been learning experiences. I did apply to some pretty prestigious competitions before I was ready, and the rejections were helpful in letting me know where I stood, and pushing me to improve. My greatest challenge is the business and marketing aspect of being self-employed and trying to promote my art. I am most proud of the testimonials I have received from clients, getting into exhibitions in my first year, and being recognized by successful artists like you!"

I can't close this interview without mentioning your touching self portrait "Winter Blues"...the angle of the photo and the composition of the drawing are perfect. How do you handle it when you are asked to do a commissioned piece from a less than desirable photo?

"I will admit that I have had a few requests for portraits based on less that perfect photographs. I have turned away a couple, because even thought the photograph could be deemed "artistic" in it's angle and composition, wouldn't have made a good painting. In these cases, I suggested framing the photograph as a memoir, and offered to work from another photograph. In another case, the client wanted me to create a portrait of a couple based on really old photographs, but there were no clear photos of the two subjects together. In this case I did my best to combine several photos into one, but I'm moving toward doing most portraits from my own photographs. Thank you for the compliment on "Winter Blues"! I enjoyed being able to control the setup and expressing myself through this piece."

As we finish...I want to say. thank you Holly for spending this time with me and for sharing so openly. I wish you only the best in the years ahead.

Some things Holly didn't tell you:

  • November 2007..."Peter" was awarded First Place in the Pastel, Colored Pencil, Graphics division of the American Juried Art Salon Fall- Winter 2007 Exhibition
  • Holly has had works accepted into American Juried Art Salon 2007 Fall/Winter Exhibition, The July 2007 Projekt30 Exhibition and The 2007 Blanche Ames National Exhibition.

You can see more art by Holly Bedrosian by visiting the links below.

Holly Bedrosian Fine gallery
Holly Bedrosian Fine Art...blogspot
Fine Art America...giclee prints

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Monday, March 3, 2008

Feed Know How... for the FEED frazzled

Does this sound familiar...while drinking your morning coffee and surfing the net you find a great site, and you have full intentions of coming back to take a really good look right after you take the kids to school.

You get back to the computer and guess can't find that mind blowing site. It's like it just vanished off the face of the earth!

There's a quick remedy for's called RSS.

If you're an active internet user all the content is sometimes hard to keep up with. You want to know when a favorite site updates it's information. Your bookmark bar is great for some things but for regular updates it makes you do all the running!

RSS is brings fresh information from your favorite websites to you, rather than you going to the web, or scanning through your search history.

What does RSS mean? I'll bet you're ready for some real technical stuff here! Not from me, I'm not that technically savvy. RSS is most referred to as "Really Simple Syndication", but it actually stands for Rich Site Summary. Oprah even has her own name for it..."Ready for Some Stories".

Either way, it really is just that, "Really Simple Syndication". Why? Because it's an easy way for information that appears on your favorite websites to be regularly delivered to your computer in organized files, ready to read at your convince....kind of like the way the paper boy delivers the morning paper, but unlike the paper...its a FREE subscription!

When you "subscribe" to an RSS feed,
you are simply telling that blog or website..."Yes please, send me your story headlines." It's like subscribing to your favorite magazine or newspaper, only instead of getting the whole magazine you will get just the headlines. If you find a particular headline interesting, click on it and like'll be sent the whole article. How perfect is this?

Let me say it again, It's Free! Just look for the word "subscribe" or "the RSS icon" on this blog or any other blog/website.

There are two places to look for a site's feed.
1. In Your Browser...You can typically find these RSS symbols or text links in your browser window, in the address bar or just to the right and below the address bar. (See the orange icon shown above.)

2. On the Site...Over the last few years you may have noticed a lot of little buttons and widgets appearing on your favorite blogs. Links called RSS, XML, ATOM, little Orange Buttons, "counters", and the list goes on. (see photo to left) These can usually be found on the sides of the website page, or at the bottom of the page. Once you know what you're looking for its easy to find.

Because nothing is standard on the web many of you are using not only different operating systems (Mac vs. PC), but you are also using different flavored browsers like Internet Explorer, and Firefox. The way to get an RSS reader will be dependent on what Browser you like to use and how you like to receive and organize your feeds.

Just like there are different flavors of browsers, there are also different flavors of RSS XML feeders like RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom. Again, the flavors are only important if you want to be a techie...and if that's the case you don't need my advise. If you will just stick to looking for an RSS symbol like I have shown you above, you will do just fine.

Now here's where I'm going to hand you over to the professionals. Below you will find links to very easy instructions on how to Setup and Subscribe to people who know a great deal more than I and can explain it much better.

1. For "Firefox" users...How to set up Google Reader

  • Note: Google Reader is a breeze when using FireFox. You can download FireFox Free and still keep your current browser on your computer as I did.
2. For "Internet Explore7" users...The FEED lesson
  • Note: From my understanding Internet Explorer 6 is difficult if not impossible to use with Google Reader.
I'd like to leave you with this thought:
Now that you know how feeds work, did you ever wonder who's subscribing to your site feed? Collectors and Galleries use feeds regularly to keep abreast of the new works of artist they are interested in. Clint Watson says it like this.

Is your website and blog "feed ready"? As a collector could I subscribe and be updated each time you post a new work?

How to set up Google Reader....Firefox setup instructions
The FEED lesson....Internet Explorer 7 setup instructions
Clint Watson talks about the importance of feeds for today's artist
FireFox Free Download

Marsha Robinett Fine
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Fine Art Studio Online...Easy Artist Websites
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*Sign-Up...using this link or use the code (3209) and
extend your FREE TRIAL period to 90 days.

PS...make a "Point"...leave a comment

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I Am So Honored.......

Sue Smith of Ancient Artist has invited me to be part of her "Sunday Salon Series". Each week Sue sets down with an artist and does a casual interview segment...asking the hard questions we all want to know.

Sue says... "Artists have always come together into groups where they share common passions, philosophies, argue over content and inspire each other into greater accomplishments." Sue also believes "...that an artist cannot create in isolation, nor can he or she take the necessary risks without motivations, challenges, and inspirations found in these groups."

I've been following Sue's Sunday Salon Series almost from the beginning...don't remember just how I found her, but I'm so glad I did. I've really enjoyed reading about the lives of these established artists. I'm quite new at this and I'm not sure where I fit into this group...but I am so honored to be included.

Exurb from the interview:
"Many people come into my tent at art fairs saying they drew as children. I tell them that if God gave them the talent it is still there...He never takes it back. I also tell them that I didn't want to end up in a nursing home rocking back and forth in my rocking chair saying "I bet I could have done it if I had just tried"!

While your on Sue's site take time to look at her work...she is an amazing artist as well as an inspiring writer and teacher. Grab a cup of coffee and prepare to sit for awhile!

Sue Smith Fine Art
Ancient Artist: developing an art career after 50
Sue's...."Sunday Salon"

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