Monday, September 29, 2008

The Fork and Spoon Club...carbon and graphite

...The Fork and Spoon Club...
carbon and graphite on paper, 6x9, double matted,
Limited Edition of 100
Limited Edition Print
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The Story Behind the Image: I had this image for some time before I actually took the time to lay out the drawing. It was one of the more pains taking drawings that I've done and has proven to be one of my most requested prints. In fact I could have sold the original time and time again.

Viewers comment over and over that The Fork and Spoon Club reminds them of when their children were young and responsible for emptying the dish washer...and I can totally relate.

I used mainly carbon pencil in this drawing, applying it directly to the paper in the darkest areas and using a blender to apply the softer shadow areas. Graphite was used where I wanted to pull the subject in the reflective bend in the handles and some in the reflective 'bowl' of the spoon.

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

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

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Recession-Proof Marketing Strategies

Times are bad...just listen to the news. Banks are failing, factories are closing, and small business are going under. Congress will be passing legislation to bail out the banks while we are left suffering the fallout.

Sounds pretty "doom and gloom" doesn't it. You can either dwell in the mess and go down with it or you can change your direction a bit and forge ahead. I'm choosing to forge ahead.

The economists say that during a recession business slow to a slow crawl. You don't have to get caught up in this if you're willing to explore new venues and make some marketing changes.

How Do We Survive?

Be more creative in your marketing. Look for venues in your home town and surrounding communities that will allow you to hang your art...restaurants and up-scale hair salons are perfect for this. How about a one man show at your local library or bank lobby? Do you have a patron that would do an open house for you? Announce an "open studio" day.

We've all heard these things's now more crucial than ever that you take action. Set aside one morning a week to market yourself locally.

Increase your visibility...sponsor a Literary Contest at your local High School. Get involved in the Chamber of Commerce, Sponsor an award at your local art fair, volunteer at a community outreach, be active in your church.

It's a proven fact that the consumer responds to businesses that support the greater good of the need to be known locally as one of these businesses.

Another thing...we are told that consumer purchases are grinding to a halt. This just isn't true. The consumer doesn't stop buying...but they do adjust how much they are allowing themselves to spend. Therefore you need to adjust the price points you offer by creating smaller less expensive works.

I did not say...lower your prices or discount your art. This is especially true if you are in the higher end of the market. Discounting your art always raises the expectation of receiving a discount again the next time they purchase and lowers the perceived value of your work.

Try offering a 'gift with purchase'. This could be one of your smaller pieces...developed just for this purpose, or how about a Gift Certificate redeemable on their next purchase.

Update your mailing list. This is one of your greatest business assets in good times and bad. It's a proven fact...80% of your sales will be generated from 20% of your customers. It's more important than ever that you cultivate and coddle this 20% while keeping your name in front of the other 80%. If they purchased from you once they are your best bet for additional sales.

If you've let your mailing list slide...get it updated. Keep your name in front of your clients by sending a regular newsletter at the very least on a monthly basis . It doesn't have to be lengthly...give them a peek into your studio, your life as an artist, update them on new pieces and upcoming shows. Always include a photo of one of your pieces and a link to your website.

Consider Teaching...others will pay to learn the techniques you use. For decades artists have supplemented their income by teaching others. Private classes where the client receives one on one instructions are always in demand. for larger classes, contact your local library, class room space is sometimes free to those in the district.

Today's internet makes teaching even easier...if you have a video camera, record your process and present it on your blog via U-tube or Blogger...or make a CD or DVD and retail it. Consider producing an "E Book" that can be downloaded by your customer.

See how Susan Carlin is maximizing her internet exposure using video and Ustream TV.

Finally, I would tell you to GET A WEBSITE AND A BLOG. Yes, I said...BLOG! These are both inexpensive when compared to return. To learn more, read my series It's the Journey that Defines You.

Don't ever say you're too "technically challenged" to have a website. Give FineArtStudioOnline a try...sign up for their "Free Trial", you've got nothing to loose.

I will unashamedly attest to their "extraordinary artist support staff" and their willingness to help you throughout the set-up process.

Final Thoughts: This recession isn't going to last forever, we need to be ready when it turns around...and it will. Keep a positive attitude, stay focused on your goals, feed your creative mind and keep on producing your wonderful works of art. Play it right and we will all still be here when this crisis subsides.

God Bless this wonderful nation and it's people.


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

Literary Contest
Your Greatest Business Asset
It's the Journey That Defines You
Susan Carlin's Art Journal

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

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...Changing my focus

"As you can see..."Mr. Lincoln" has not progressed since my last post.
It is now "Mr. Lincoln's" turn.

I'll be working on this commission in the next couple of weeks with the goal of finishing it by mid October."


Well, the art fair season has come to a close and if you read my last post you know it happened with a big HOORAH!!

I'm now moving on to other things. I hadn't consciously noticed my habit of "compartmentalizing" my activities until Jimmy Springett, one of my regular readers, point it out to me. I think I do this out of necessity, not necessarily to improve work flow. However this habit does keep me focused on the task at hand and increases the quality of the results for that particular activity.

When my art fair season starts there is very little time for drawing or painting. I find it difficult to create when on a constrained "time frame". My creative juices simply are not there. The time spent between art fairs is usually devoted to sending thank you notes to those who purchased at the last art fair, banking and book work, and preparing new prints and framed pieces for the next show.

I do however think about, plan, and take photos for works I want to do in the future. I may even sit in my chair at night and do some quick value sketches...testing different compositions. This way, when my art fairs are done (as they are now), I'm ready to change my focus, with new works ready for the final layout.

I'm also a marketing fanatic...constantly reading about what others are doing and figuring out ways to incorporate the best of the best into my own marketing plan...even dreaming up a few ideas on my own!

When at art fairs...I have to confess I'm checking out what the artist is offering, the price point, and how they are displaying their art as much as admiring what they do. Much can be gleaned from other business also. You don't have to look only at what other artists have done.

I find it fascinating to see what actually "moves" a person, whether it's moving them to purchase or simply getting them to sign up for my mailing list.

Sometimes I wish I could just shut my "art" mind off...focusing on and enjoying other things. It may happen for a short while, but the experience is always interrupted with "wow! that would make a great drawing" or "I bet that would be a good way to show my work".

So I ask: Do you "compartmentalize" your work flow? What methods do you use to increase your focus? Do you have trouble shutting off your "art mind"?
The "Chat Line" is open...I look forward to your comments and please feel free to comment on what others have to say. Remember...when you share, others are blessed.

I'm taking today's a simply beautiful fall day here, sunshiny and crisp. The park is calling me. And...yes, my "art mind", my camera, and pad with pencil are going too! After considering this, I decided they are simply apart of who I am and I'm at peace with this part of me. After all "I am an Artist".



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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tooting My Horn...I won BEST OF SHOW!

Had a wonderful art fair this weekend in Decatur, Illinois. It was a beautiful ending to a somewhat trying outdoor show season.

I was awarded BEST OF great can it get. This art fair has quite a large number of really good artists and a wide range of for "pencil" to even be considered is an honor...and it comes with $$.

The weather was great and so were the sales...a perfect show.

So's time to reclaim my van as a real "passenger vehicle". One corner of my screened in porch turns into a storage area...I guess one would have to call it a trade off. I will be clearing out the van sometime this week, standing all the tent poles on my screened in porch along with the cart and other "tent" necessities.

Every time I make this change for some reason it reminds me of putting away the Christmas decorations each year!

Thanks to all for following my trials and tribulations at the art fairs this season. I hope I didn't complain too much...I do enjoy them, they have just become more work as I've gotten older. You know...the limitations that age brings on.

It was as a whole a profitable season...for this I'm happy. With the economy, it could have been much worse. It was the weather that threw a clink in things this year. Just too much RAIN...and too many BAD STORMS.

Thanks again for all your encouraging posts on my blog and the wonderful emails. I so appreciated them all.


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

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...Thankful for the Small Things

The Photo to the left is of my booth set-up last year, and pretty much as it appears today. The Decatur Chamber of Commerce used it in their Visitors Guide...nice surprise!

.. ________________ ..

My last art fair of the season is this weekend
in Decatur, Illinois. The weather forecast is for SUNNY and cool...with a high in the upper 70's. NO RAIN. What a wonderful way to end the season.

I thought with the drop in sales and rain I've experienced at my last few shows I would be glad to see this show season end...but as usual it's always a little sad.

The life of an artist can be somewhat solitary...each season I meet new people and rekindle old relationships. This will be over now until next spring and I will miss it.

I am however, really anxious to get back to the drawing board. I don't have much time for my art during the show season...and I find myself craving the quiet time at my drawing board. I think for all artists, creating is therapeutic and I am ready for a little "therapy".

I'm thankful for small things. I took down in 3" of mud last Sunday. We had over 9" of rain in three days...with the bulk of it coming down Saturday night. Many tents collapsed under the weight of the water. I said I would report back...but you know what, I'm not going to dwell on it. It's kind of like having a baby...once it's over, you forget the pain!!

I took a chance, knowing I would be setting up again this weekend, and did not lay my tent out to dry. It was so wet...I would have had to set it up again in the back yard. It continued to rain here through Tuesday. I've kept it in air conditioning (extra cool), with the hope that it's true that mold grows in WARM, dark, damp, conditions. I set up again tomorrow afternoon, so I will let you know if the air conditioning worked.

I'm just thankful that these last two shows weren't reversed. With the WONDERFUL weather forecast for the weekend, my tent should dry out nicely and be ready to put away for the season. You see there are blessings to be had...even in the middle of a mess.

So I ask: When every day life eats away at your studio time do you, like me, feel a little depressed? How do you handle these interruptions and how do you get back on track? My art is definitely my about you?
The "Chat Line" is open...I look forward to your comments and please feel free to comment on what others have to say. Remember...when you share, others are blessed.

As I said, I will be in Decatur, Ill. this weekend. The weather is going to be BEAUTIFUL. If you live in the area, come see me, I would love to meet you in person.



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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weekend Chat Line..."Singin In The Rain"

Well here I go again.
I'm heading to Springfield, Ill. tomorrow afternoon to set up for the weekend. Another art fair and another rainy weekend forecast!! AM I SINGING...I don't think so!

I had to wait for the rain to stop so I could load the van today and the outlook for the weekend is pretty gloomy...rain (several inches in the forecast) for the entire weekend. I just hope I can get the tent set up (without rain) and get it taken down (without rain)...what it does in between I will just have to tolerate. I know it's part of the game, but this season has been particularly WET!!

As discussed before I'm prepared, with everything covered in plastic...but even with this, rain just tries your patience, your mood, your attitude, your disposition....lets see, is there anything else? Oh Yes! slows the crowds down. Yet I will say those who do come out in the rain are usually buyers. Actually I've had pretty good shows on rainy days, if you could believe that.

So, considering this dreary forecast I guess I need to give myself a little pep talk...because at the moment my attitude is not good. I had high hopes for these last three art fairs. They are local, I come home each night which is nice. They have a history of excellent sales and I was hoping for the same again this year.

Lincoln, (my last art fair and one of the three) was not good. Now this weekend"s weather forcast threatens art fair #2. Oh well, on the positive side , only one to go after this and I'm done carting tent and art for the season.

I'm always ready for my show season to end so I can seriously get back to "making art" instead of sitting at art fairs trying to "sell art". Don't get me wrong...SELLING ART IS A GOOD THING! But as most artists I would rather be in the studio "creating art". This season, I'M REALLY READY for the end to come.

I know from your blog posts and emails that many have been following my show season this summer via my blog posts.
So I ask: Are any of you showing? How have your sales been...better or worse than last year? Have you experienced any of the "radical" weather this season as I have.
The "Chat Line" is open...I look forward to your comments and please feel free to comment on what others have to say. Remember...when you share, others are blessed.

By the way, if you live close to Springfield, Illinois...please come (rain or shine) would love to meet you. The art fair is in Washington the shadow of the Carillon, which chimes regularly. It's beautiful, even in the rain. (the one positive thought for the moment)



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

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

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekend Chat Line...Revealing The Blessing

In a post I made a few weeks ago and in several since I've eluded to a "new opportunity" that had been placed before me as a result of my art. I've been holding off saying anything to make sure I was capable of the job! I believe I now have the confidence in myself to actually announce this new venture.

Just a little background material...This show season has been particularly hard. I'm not sure if it is because I'm "older" (I'll be 63 in April), or if the adrenalin one feels with a new venture has dropped off, or if it simply is that I can see the results I had hoped for were not going to happen quick enough to provide the extra income I knew I would need to supplement my retirement.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I'm still a working hairdresser and have been now for over 38 years. Standing in one place with your arms up in the air begins to take it's toll on the body and I hope to retire, or at least cut back my schedule drastically by age 67.

As I have said before, with the exception of my last art fair, every show I've done this year has been as good as or better than the year before...and I have commissions on the books for this winter. So you might ask "what is your panic?"

It isn't my art sales that have faltered, its the rising cost of everyday life that has prompted my concern. Just "living" is costing so much more than it did 5 years ago. I could see that I was going to need a more dependable income at retirement.

Realizing this didn't make me panic...actually, I felt quite calm. I began to pray that God place the right opportunity in my path...and I prayed "I would recognize it when it happened".

One evening back in July, I received a phone call from Clint Watson, the founder of FineArtStudioOnline and the company who hosts my website...Marsha Robinett Fine Art. He called to ask if I would be interested in doing tech support for his company.

My response..."Me, do tech support?", and I laughed!!" I was simply dumbfounded that anyone would want me, of all people, to do tech. support. I reminded him of all the support questions I had submitted in the beginning and he just said "then you should have the answers".

As we talked more that evening...I was reminded of my prayers.

I had not called or inquired about this position nor had I ever spoken to Clint before. I was just one of over 2,000 artist websites hosted by his company. This was God's work...and I knew He would provide what I needed to succeed. Armed with this knowledge, I accepted the challenge even though "I" still doubted my ability.

I've been working for FineArtStudioOnline for a little over a month now...doing tech support three evenings a week. Even with the extensive training Ive received during the past couple of months, I've had to learn to accept that because of the rapid changes taking place in the industry, there will always be answers I don't have and always be new things to learn.

Solving an issue is somewhat like being a I peruse their websites gathering information, in order to resolve the problem, I get to view and enjoy their beautiful art. It's like a continual "Gallery Opening". What an inspiration!

I've so enjoyed getting to know the many fine artists I've worked with. It brings me pleasure knowing I've helped them get their website up and going so that they can get back to their studio and "just be an artist"


So there you have it.
We may have plans for our future but if we slow down to listen there is someone directing us who has knowledge of the bigger picture.

Who would have ever thought that I would someday be referred to as "Marsha Robinett...Artist Support Agent"?

I wrote a 4 part article a while back called It's the Journey that Defines You...I believe this is just part of my journey. Am I going to give up my art, absolutely not. This new segment of my life has only served to inspire me to greater knowledge, greater creativity, and a stronger faith.
No Question today...just a gentle reminder. When you pray for answers make sure you also pray for "ears to hear".
The "Chat Line" is open...I welcome your comments, and encourage you today in your life and in your career. The blessing is there for all.

If you have a website with FineArtStudioOnline...perhaps I will be answering your question some evening, getting to know both you and your art.

Have a lovely weekend and thank you for your continued support and encouragement.


**If you've been thinking about setting up a website...consider the "Free Trial" offered by FineArtStudioOnline...enter this code (3209) or sign up using this extend your free trial to 90 days. There is nothing to loose, and I can shamelessly attest to their "extraordinary artist support team"!


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

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

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