Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Baby...carbon pencil

...My Baby...
This is another of my first drawings.

carbon pencil on paper, double matted,
prints available

The Story Behind the Image: I was at the park when I saw this young woman and her new puppy. I watched from a distance while they played, then she picked the puppy up and carried it on her shoulder like a "baby". She would hold it down in her arms , talking to it and giving kisses...then put it back up on her shoulder again. The puppy was a large breed, with a reddish color to it's coat...perhaps a Golden or an Irish Setter. I watched them for a long time, taking lots of photos using a telephoto lens.

She got into her car and left before I could get her name of the name of her "baby". She has no idea this drawing even exists. I was really disappointed as I had some great shots of her kissing her puppy that couldn't be used without a release. I've thought of them often. It was a very touching moment, witnessing the love between this young women and her puppy.

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

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

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

Monday, April 28, 2008

May 1st is RSS Awarness Day...are you ready

I know as artists it's hard to get our heads around some of this technical stuff...but you need to understand the importance of RSS to you, to your collectors and your (potential collectors).

Sure your collectors can bookmark your site and you can HOPE they remember to go back and check for updates or they can (if you offer it) subscribe by email. I for one, don't want anymore stuff going into my "inbox", so I'm one of those you would loose.

RSS groups new updates from the sites I've chosen to a file in my feed reader as they happen. I sit down with my morning coffee, open my reader, and settle in to see what everyone has been doing. I don't have to check my email and weed out the good stuff from the SPAM MAIL...I don't have to go to my favorites and click on your site.

The other thing nice about RSS is that it is don't know if I'm "watching you or not"...this makes me a little like Santa Clause, so you had better be good!

I like reading the blogs of artists who's work's a personal connection. Your collectors feel the same way and they may especially like being anonymous. You can make it difficult or you can make it easy by giving them choices.

It's like this, when I do Art Fairs I offer (in addition to the Originals and Prints seen on my website) a few smaller, lower priced open edition items ($5-25). If you walk into my tent and like my work there is something there in your price range...I make it easy for the customer to take home my work. RSS does the same think for your website and blog.

Offering RSS will boost the traffic to your site. Tell your readers about RSS and how to use it...if you're not comfortable explaining this technical can provide links to others who explain it well.

If you are still unsure about RSS, you might want to read...Feed Know How...for the Feed frazzled, an article I wrote in March. This article explains what RSS is, why it's important, and how to set it up on your computer. (You may re-publish, "Feed Know How...for the Feed frazzled", on your site...just let me know and be sure to include a link to my blog.)

If you need even more assurance of the importance of RSS to you as an artist...Clint Watson of Fine Art Studio Online wrote a great article about how to "Feed your Artwork to Your Friends with RSS".

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
Feed Know How...for the Feed frazzled
Feed your Artwork to Your Friends with RSS

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

Friday, April 25, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...Do You Dance?

This has been a rough couple of weeks and my issues with Google Blogger this last week simply compounded things. For a time I lost the focus for my life. When you are under stress it's easy to forget who is really in charge. A good friend gave me something today that I would like to's called "Dancing With God".

"Dancing With God"
When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading some where that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.

When one person realizes this, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing "Lightly" in one direction or another. It's as if two people become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes kept going back to the word Guidance. When I saw "G": I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i". (God, "u" and "i" dance.)

As I lowered my head in prayer, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead. My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies are upon you on this day and everyday. May you abide in God, as God abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and guide you through each season of your life.

May you have a wonderful weekend and a prosperous life.
And I Hope You Dance!



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

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Miss Mouse...carbon and graphite

...Miss Mouse...
carbon and graphite on paper, 6x9, double matted,
prints available

The Story Behind the Image: Miss Mouse is our neighborhood cat. We say she is a "free spirit." She never lets anyone get too close and only comes around if she thinks there is a meal for her. Miss Mouse and her family live in the big storm sewer pipe that drains into the branch near my home. I worry about her and her little family because when it rains this pipe drains all the water from the streets...but somehow she always knows just when to move her kittens to higher ground!

On this day I used my telephoto lens and got this wonderful shot of her "shopping" for her own meal. Crouched down in the grass, stalking a bird...all you could see was her head. She definitely had lunch on her mind. I just love the intensity in her eyes and I tried to catch the intensity of her gaze in my drawing.

Update: This is her fourth spring as part of our lives, and you guessed it...she has a new litter of kittens. She's a good mother and such fun to watch. Miss Mouse was such fun to draw, enjoy.

The drawing "Miss Mouse" 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 or the Original and prices.

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
"Miss Mouse" ...learn more

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Extraordinary Pencil was held Hostage by Blogger!!

...Until Google Blogger changes their ways...
We are all "on Thin Ice"

My blog here on Google Blogger was shut down as SPAM on Friday April 18, 2008 and just released today, Tuesday the 22nd. I know it's hard to understand why...I don't know why! I received no notice from Blogger that there was an issue and nothing telling me I had been shut down or any reason for it.

There was an "extra code" below the "publish post" button on Saturday as I was trying to write. From what I was able to learn from others...Blogger is saying their automatic system flags a blog "suspected as spam" and shuts it down immediately. The blog them remains locked until someone on their staff gets around to reviewing it and realizes that it is NOT a SPAM BLOG!

I read somewhere that there are apparently crooks out there who create blogs using an aggregate robot to steal content from legitimate sites (like mine) and they post a bunch of ads on it attracting people using keywords to lure them in. These are the SPAM BLOGS...and Blogger needs to find a better way to deal with the problem...without punishing the innocent!!

It's just wrong for Blogger to flag and shut down a "suspected blog"...before they even look at it. This is STEALING. In my case as I am sure it is with quick look would have let them know that I was not spam!! (Blogger needs to Flag, Look, and then Shut Down the guilty...not penalize the innocent by shutting down ALL the "suspected" offenders!!)

BUT NO!!...instead they flagged and immediately shut me down for 5 days! During this time you could read The Extraordinary Pencil and make a comment, but I could not post your comment or respond or write and post anything. Had they not finally taken time to look at blog could have sat there inactive and died a slow death.

For some this unwarranted shutdown has gone on for weeks...and others have been shutdown again after being released once! It's a SCARY situation...I still can't believe they have the right to do this. I will forever feel my blog is vulnerable to another shut down...they have destroyed all my trust.

I sent a "newsletter blast" from my Website on Sunday and some personal appeals to others by email on Monday....and want to say a huge THANK YOU to all who logged into Blogger's Help Forum and posted a plea on my behalf. It was the power of many...I don't think they wanted to see that post grow any bigger. I know this is why my blog has been released. Others (some I've looked at) are innocent and still shut down.

I apologize if this sounds like a rough post...But I'm still angry and it's going to take some time to get past this experience. Blogger shut me down without any explanation as to why, and reinstated me without a word...(no gees we're sorry, no here's what the issues were, no nothing)! Because I don't know what triggered the shut down, I sit here today feeling extremely vulnerable to a repeat episode.

If you want to read who these bloggers are begging for help...Click the link and view either Publishing Trouble or Login Issues. There is page after page full of frustrated innocent bloggers.

You know only the innocent would complain...the guilty just go somewhere else and set up another Spam Blog!

This is a could happen to you...Blogger needs to know we disapprove of the unjust methods they are using to weed out Spam Blogs. The only way to contact Blogger is through their forums....If you have an opinion, I'd say let them know.

Blogger is running a program that "flags" suspect blogs and shuts them down without a review. Every blog is presumed guilty until proven innocent...This process will continue as their method of weeding out the Spam Blogs!

If enough people complain about their unjust methods...Perhaps they will change their ways before your blog gets caught up in this mess.

Enough #!%)...On a Positive Note, I was so blessed by all of you who went to battle for me...I do believe that had it not been for you, I would still be shut down.

In closing...I would have to say that we never know how truly vulnerable we are, nor how much others care.

Thank You for being there,

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

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

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...What's your best venue for art sales?

"Elizabeth"...another of my first portraits

Teresa Mallen left a very helpful detailed explanation on The Chat Line last week about how she priced her art and ended with this thought...
"Finally, I would suggest that people put setting prices into perspective. While it is an agonizing process at first, It will get easier. It probably isn't as important as we make it. I mean we can deliberate over $50-100 one way or the other until we want to quit the show altogether. Yet it probably matters most if we have managed to find a venue where we can connect up with 'our customer'. Now if we could find the magic answer to that one...!! Perhaps another chat line topic?"
I had to agree with Teresa...the price we charge doesn't matter if we don't have a viable market for our art. Being from a small town, I always feel those artists in the larger metropolitan areas have the advantage...more galleries, more shows, more affluent people desiring and valuing fine art. Yet I do realize that you still have to make the connection and that can be difficult.

I know many artists sell their art on internet gallery sites like Boundless Gallery, ETSY, and Art Span. I've yet to try any of the online galleries available to artists and would be interested in hearing your personal recommendations and experiences.

So I ask you: What art venues have worked best to connect you with your customers? What "creative" marketing have you done that proved successful? Is there anything you've tried that you would not recommend?

Your wisdom and experience is valuable.

The "Chat Line" is open...There's no better place to learn than from each other. I'm anxious to hear your ideas. And as always, please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

Spring has finally arrived in Central Illinois!
Have a beautiful weekend,

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

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Martini Time...carbon and graphite

...Martini Time...
carbon and graphite pencil on paper, 6x9, double matted
prints available

This is the companion drawing to "Perfect Companions"

The Story Behind the Image: Martini Time was a special request by someone who had purchased the drawing, "Perfect Companions". She was a martini fan and her husband liked to sip his scotch and smoke a cigar. They wanted the two drawings for their bar area.

The photo for this drawing was taken from a vantage point just below eye level. I used carbon pencil for the darkest shadow areas, and graphite pencil to indicate the clear, reflective areas of the martini glasses. The shiny graphite is perfect for rendering reflective highlights on glass. I really like this drawing...the subject is timeless and the angle of the photo is unusual.

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

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
"Perfect Companions" ...learn more
"Martini Time" ...learn more

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Seven Characteristics that Distinguish Older Artists over Their Younger Peers

By: Sue Smith

I went back to college when I was 51.
I sat in chairs designed for the young, next to my fellow students who were also...well, young. Adding insult to injury, I needed tutoring -- from the young -- to learn the new technology that these kids in their late teens and twenties grew up with and used as casually as I once used the rotary phone.

It was culture shock. But more than that. It was the shock of realizing I was rapidly approaching the gray realm of Old Age. My first small encounters with...ageism.

Ageism is insidious in that it is so acceptable. Logical. It is also based -- at least with regard to late-life creativity -- on scientific research that reinforces traditional views about aging and the mental and physical decline models.

Even when it comes to "creativity" -- something that can't be touched, tested, or accurately measured, let alone understood -- the scientific community still relies on research that is "objective" and "measurable" -- sort of like trying to catch a fish with your hands. The easiest one to grab becomes the archetype for the "Creative Old Guy."

But I recently started reading a book by Martin S. Lindauer, titled AGING, CREATIVITY, AND ART...A Positive Perspective on Late-Life Development.

This is a very recent book, with a copyright date of 2003, and reads like a research paper with numerous citations.

It is still worth the effort.

Because here is the good news. According to Lindauer, new research reveals that over time, creative people increase both the quality of their artistic output, and the quantity, over their lifetimes, with productivity peaking during their 60's, but the quality of the output remaining steady at the lifetime highs well into the 70's.

Even for artists working in their 80's, their quality ratings were higher -- get that, higher! -- than when they were in their 20's and 30's.

How can this be?

According to Lindauer, there are seven characteristics that distinguish "old artists and late art from young artists and youthful efforts."

  • "Older artists have more knowledge and are less career oriented.
  • "They also have less energy - the only case where older artists were at a disadvantage to younger ones..."
  • "...which they compensated for with greater maturity, concentration, and self-acceptance."
  • "Older artists were also less critical than their younger counterparts."
  • "However, in two areas, creativity and experimentation, older artists were seen as equal to younger practitioners." (2003, pp.187-188)

Further, while discussing the age at which an artist's "Old Age Style" might emerge, Lindauer wrote, "...the 60-year-old artists, and many of the 70-year-olds who were studied, were 'too young' to have an old-age style."

Re-read that last part again: even the 70-year-olds were too young to have an old age style!

Sometimes the challenges of reinventing yourself at mid-life can seem so daunting that you want to give up. I know that for me, discouragement became my constant companion to the point where I nearly gave up on the whole "career" idea, caught up in my fear of having "missed the creative boat."

But knowing that, at 60, I am still decades away from having an "Old Age Style" has renewed my energy, sending me back out into the creative world with rekindled optimism.

I hope to see you all there!


This article is reproduced with permission.
Copyright...2008 Sue Smith

To Get more of Sue Smith's thoughts about art visit her blog at:
Ancient Artist: developing an art career after 50
Sue Smith fine Art

This article originally appeared at the following URL:

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

Friday, April 11, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...The pricing question?

Abby, Asleep on Daddy's Shoulder:
This was one of my first portraits...Well, it was first after I drew it four times!

I had three people send emails this week asking that I present the one question that as artists we all struggle with at some time or the other...What should I charge?

"How do you set your prices"...I'm going to give my contribution to this question and hope others will chime in, giving some feed back on how you arrived at your starting prices and the thoughts or formulas you've used as you raised your prices.

When I had enough confidence to start selling my work, I checked out what others artists in my medium were charging for portraits and used that as a guide. I set a price schedule for my commissioned portraits that I thought I could live with...that was neither at the bottom or at the top, knowing that I could raise it later...and I priced my original still life drawings using the same price schedule.

What I charged for my originals that first year paid me about seven dollars an hour after presentation expenses (mat, glass, frame ect.) were deducted. My Originals started at $185 and LE's were $49. I used a 5x mark-up to figure the print price.

I have increased the price on my originals considerably over the years, but still use the 5x mark-up as a guide for pricing my Open Edition Prints (presented with a backing board and packaged...$30-39). My Limited Editions are double the price of the Open Editions...(presented in a double mat/certificate of authenticity and packaged). Artist Proofs are double the price of Limited Editions...(presented same as LE's).

**I feel the prices on my original drawings are now comparable to others of the same quality and such that if sold in a gallery I would be satisfied with my 40-50% commission. Also by using a 5x mark-up for prints I can afford to wholesale them to retailers and still make a profit.

One thing that I firmly believe is this...your price should be your price...regardless of where you sell your art. Consumers resent one price on the web and another at a gallery and yet another at art fairs. Your price should be consistent across the board.

This is a very simplified explanation, when you get into it there are many other things to take into consideration depending on the medium you work in and your venue and hopefully others will comment on these things.

So I ask you: When you were just beginning, how did you decide what to charge for your art? What formulas, if any do you use today? How do you know it's time to increase your prices?

We need some words of wisdom for new artists.

The "Chat Line" is open...
I'm is anxious to hear your thoughts and ideas on these questions. And as always, please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

Have a wonderful weekend,

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

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

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tooting My Horn

As artists we all struggle to let the world know of our work and our talent...the move forward is slow and difficult. Yet every once in awhile someone does see and responds. Bet at Mighty Art Demos was one of those people...Thank You

I'm excited... Mighty Art Demos has picked up my Still Life Tutorial on The Clubs. The WIP photos for this tutorial were taken before I purchased my good camera and we've been working the last couple of days cleaning up my photography. They were even able to salvage a photo that I had decided not to use.

They were great to work with and my tutorial looks wonderful, very professionally presented...yes, you could say my buttons are popping!

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques
Mighty Art Demos...The Clubs, still life tutorial

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

Monday, April 7, 2008

Commissioned Portrait...Inga

...Inga Perdita...
Carbon and Graphite on Cream Tone Paper
Commissioned Portrait
Inga, age 2, was all dressed up as "Tinkerbell" at her sisters costume birthday party. Grandma captured this moment as Inga purposely avoided her request for a smile.

As we talked more about Inga, I learned she had a quiet, spunky, independent, and sometimes wary nature. The portrait of Inga was just part of
Grandma's Special Present her children received that year for Christmas.

The finished portrait reflects Inga's personality perfectly. You can almost hear an audible 'no' in response to grandma's request for a smile. You can actually feel the moment.

The Story Behind The Image..."Tinkerbell's" wings were a bit of a challenge. I used graphite to give them a translucent appearance and some shine. I also used a little graphite on her cheek and forehead to pull them forward. Carbon pencil was used for the rest of the drawing and applied with various blenders except in the darkest areas where I applied 6B carbon directly to the drawing paper.

I'm Booking Commissions Now...for later this year (October-December) and the first part of 2009 (January-March). I do my commission work in the fall and winter months, heading out to exhibit at Art Fairs during the spring and summer months.

I only have time for 8-10 Commissioned Pieces each year and I'm generally booked by the end of summer. You can learn more about the commission process at this link. The process isn't difficult but it does take time. After all, we're creating an heirloom that will be passed down through generations to come. If this is something you want, together we can make it happen.

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

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

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weekend Chat Line: Has today's economy changed your marketing plan?.

"This photo was taken at the Peoria Riverfront Art Fair...when I was 'tent shopping'. I don't know who the artist is...but I liked their set up, feeling they made good use of their space."

I had planned to expand my Art Fair season this year
by applying to some of the higher end end shows in larger cities. The entry fees for these shows are also "larger" and I would have had the added expense of a motel, which so far I've managed to eliminate by showing close to home or staying with family.

I really wanted to take this next step in my career...but after serious thought I've decided to stick to the same shows that have been good for me in the past years. I'm well known there and have built a following...hopefully these venues will do well this year.

I'm usually excited about the new season, but I have to say this year I feel more anticipation than excitement. I'm always conscious of my overhead, but will be even more so this year. I don't intend to make any changes in my display and decided to put my originals in simple black frames, keeping them more affordable. I was going to eliminate my low end item, a $15.50 mini print, but decided to go ahead and offer it this season as well as a selection of LE and OE prints.

I guess my final thought on this subject is that I believe it's important to be out there. I hope for more, but if I only break even this season, I will consider it a success. What do you think?

So I ask you: How has today's economy changed your marketing plan?

The "Chat Line" is open...I'm anxious to hear your thoughts and ideas on this question, and as always...please feel free to comment on what others have to say.

Have a wonderful weekend,

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

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

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