Monday, February 23, 2009

You just gotta love technology.

No this is not a photo of my camera.
I found this great camera sitting in a 'swap shop'
a couple of years ago,
took some photos and
then just looked at them for months before getting the nerve to try the drawing.
The precise detail in 'Nostalgia' was over whelming at times.

You can read more at the above link.

My camera is still in possession of the memory card and still not giving it least not willingly. If you read my last post you know the whole story.

I still haven't had time to get to get to the camera shop...and still haven't resorted to the 'hairpin'.

Most of my free time has been spent working on the commission of Mr. Lincoln. Even though my XTi wont give up the memory is still willing to take photos, at least it appears to be taking photos. So I'm hoping to have some good WIP photos of these final drawing steps on Lincoln.

The commission of Lincoln is one of the largest drawings I've done. At 12x24 it is almost too large for my drawing table. I had to attach it to its own board to keep from creasing the paper.

I know there is no photo, but his jacket and shirt are just too cool. I love my carbon pencil for the deep shine, and great for showing the various shades of the fabric in his jacket.

I knew full well how important my camera was to me...but this has been really frustrating. I'm just hoping that the photos I've taken are still on the card when we get it out...and that it is possible to retrieve the memory card without damaging the card or the camera.

This experience has made me consider again...purchasing an additional camera. You know, that handy little 'point and shoot' camera I wrote about a while back. Still haven't made that purchase.

Have a good week.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ahhh!...for a roll of film.

Carbon and Graphite on paper

My camera won't release the memory card...URGH *^%$(*
I spent most of the past weekend working on Mr. Lincoln. Took lots of WIP photos and planned on posting them this evening with an explanation of the process.

You Got It...they are still on the memory card and the memory card is still in the camera. I took all the usual steps to remove it...and have to admit my mind began to wonder. Being a hairdresser I found myself looking for a 'hairpin'. Thinking better of my inclination to 'dig into the problem'. My camera sits here, in full view and in full possession of the memory card...taunting me.

I hope to get out of town this week sometime to a camera shop for some assistance...a good choice I think. (much better than a hairpin) Until then, I believe the camera is going to be put into a drawer so I don't have to look at it.

Yes, I know, I could download directly to the computer...but never down load photos in this way and can't find the cord.

Just not a good evening. I hate it when this technical stuff whips me.

On a positive note. I did make good progress on Mr fact could have it finished by the end of next weekend except for the usual tweaking. Hopefully by then you will also have some photos to look at.

A Parting Thought: What ever happened to the lonely roll of film?

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques

Monday, February 9, 2009

Increasing Your Visibility...Where to begin

...Salad Fixins...
Carbon and Graphite pencil on paper

Can you be an artist today and not have a website and a blog? I suppose so...but I think you are missing a Golden Opportunity. More and more, the public expects it and they ask for it. Times have just changed and our marketing must also change. The Internet has opened up opportunities that never before existed. Europe is just a click away. Why shouldn't we artist benefit?

Galleries are closing and from what I'm seeing personally, the Art Fair venue is also suffering...the "real world markets" that we have been so familiar with and so comfortable with are disappearing. We can either sit around, reminiscing about our past success or we can forge ahead.

The Internet is here to's time we artists got on board in a big way.

So why do you need both a website and a blog? How are they different? First of all they are very different and work together to compliment and strengthen each other. Your website and blog are the foundation of your online presence. They aren't all you need to do but they are most definitely the start. (I will write about other venues later)

Your website is your 'Professional Venue'...It says to the public "I'm an artist and I'm in business". It's where collectors and yes 'just lookers' can visit and comfortably view your work.

Your website should make the viewer feel as though they are in a gallery...quiet, easy to move through, and friendly. Keep your colors soft and neutral...let your art shine and be the center of attention. (When you look at your website what do you see first...the website colors or your art?)

Tell them about you, your vision, why you paint. Provided answers to their anticipated questions...perhaps a FAQ page. Make sure there's an 'obvious' way to contact you. Provide a way to purchase. Lastly, Put prices on your work...don't make them ask.

Your website is not an ad should be about you and your art.

Now...the Blog is a different animal indeed. This is a more casual setting. Here you can express yourself (within reason)...get personal, let them 'see' who the artist really is. Learn to write in 'speak'...less professional. I've said it before and I'll say it again...for those of you who think you can't blog because you can't don't have to write well, you just have to write often.

I actually have two blogs. One is provided by FASO and is integrated into my website. The other is a Google Blogger site. They both carry the same post...and with good reason.

"My Studio Blog" integrated into my website, it's secure, and keeps my website, my name, and my art fresh and alive on the Internet.

When the viewer clicks on My Studio Blog, they never leave my website. All my collections and other pertinent information are just a click away. (Try here to go to my website, then click on "My Studio Blog")

Why an Integrated Blog? Search engines love fresh content. Most websites tend to become static with time. After the initial setup the information and yes the art become engine rankings drop and your website ends up on page 86 when someone does a related search!

The integrated blog provides new content to my website every time I post an article...keeping my website fresh. For Example: If I write an article about the methods and materials I use to create my will get indexed in the search engines and could be pull up if the keywords were good. My Studio Blog is a valuable marketing tool for my website.

My second blog..."The Extraordinary Pencil" is a Google blog. It serves as an additional Internet presence and traffic driver to my website. It is heavily linked to my website and has a more casual format. The down side is is totally vulnerable to Google's whim.

I've experienced two shut downs in the last year because they marked The Extraordinary Pencil as a spam blog. My blog was held hostage several days each time...some innocent people have never had their blogs returned to them. Free is not always the best. Just make sure you have some kind of backup.

Can you put ads on your blog?...I suppose so. I don't personally care for them. I don't care for the way they look on my site and I feel they are distracting to the viewer. Do they pay off?...perhaps in some cases. The question would be how much monitoring does it take and is it worth the time it takes away from creating your art? Is the 'clutter' it creates worth the effort and payoff? I think you will find this article by Clint Watson enlightening....Why I dropped Google AdSense.

I guess I'm saying all this to acknowledge that today...more than ever before we are all trying to decide how we are going to 'best' survive until the economy turns around. I used the word BEST because WE WILL SURVIVE. It's just human nature. But the hierarchy will change...many of those who were 'on top of the pile' will no longer exist. Many business, (well known business) are going to disappear. While those who wisely adjust the dynamics of their business will remain and be poised to move forward when the time comes.

Where will you be?

I want to be on the top of the pile and ready to run when the economy turns around and it will turn around. We are all making tough decisions but when I see an artist close down their website it saddens me.

I know many of you have paid hundreds if not thousands to have someone set up your site and continue to pay each time it is updated. Others are sitting there with sites they're not pleased with...and some artists have no web presence at all and wondering, should I?

My website and the features it offers is the back bone of my art business. It is the glue that holds everything together. To give it up would be like hanging a CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign on my door.

As an Artist...this is not the time to decrease your visibility. It's a time when we need to figure out how to ramp up our marketing...using methods that are proven, and affordable, if not a little creative.

PS...It's a time to share what works for you... so others can benefit.

Website ...Marsha Robinett Fine Art
The Extraordinary Pencil...blogspot
My Squidoo ...Drawing Techniques

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Artist to Artist...A time to reflect and look ahead.

Yes..."Mr. Lincoln" is up here again
Not for you this time but for my benefit.
He's back on my drawing table and next on my addenda.
I hope to have updates soon.

This has been a year of many changes for me and most likely for you as well. Each fork in the road as we move through life changes the direction of our future. Some decisions are hard, some are major sacrifices, and some are out of our hands.

As most of you who read this blog regularly know...I am not a 'working artist' I am an 'artist who works'. It's a constant struggle for me to protect the precious little time I have set aside each week to be in my studio.

A couple of years ago I started taking off the month of January to just reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. (no art and no blogging)

I use the time to analyze the 'business' end of my life, both my art and the salon. I clean out the files in my computer (perhaps a couple of closets while I'm at it), get my tax information together (which is usually an eyeopener), and plan for the coming year.

The computer files are cleaned out, my figures for 2008 are with the accountant, and I'm looking toward 2009 and the months ahead with hope and anticipation.

"I'm not going to do Art Fairs this year."...WOW!...there I really said it out loud. This was a tough decision. My season last year was not that bad. Sales were pretty close to the year before but towards the end, expenses were just over the top. I didn't say 'never again'...but I will say the last year was just hard...this artist isn't getting any younger and outdoor venues are grueling.

As the season was coming to a close and I saw the writing on the wall...I wondered what I would do. This was a major source of income for me and income I depended on. Besides, once set up, I enjoyed the contact with the people.

As one door was closing another opened. In late August I was approached to do Tech Support for my website hosting service, FineArtStudioOnline. What can I say?...I absolutely love it. I was scared to death, afraid I couldn't do the job. I have learned so much and I've made connections with so many wonderful artists. It blends perfectly with my salon hours and I have my weekends free for my art...who could ask for more?

Isn't it interesting...we think we know where our lives are going. We plan, make life altering decisions, hit bumps in the road and think we have failed only to was that part of the trip that got us to where we are now. Failure isn't always as it appears...failure is doing nothing...failure is not trying.

Had I not stepped out as a 'late in life artist', seven years ago, to see if I had what it took to be at least minimally successful, I would not have this tech support position. It was my journey that provided the knowledge for the position.

So, if I'm not going to do art fairs...what then? First of all, I intend to fine tune my website and new information more consistently and build more content with better use of key words and phrases. Link more to other sites and provide more 'deep links' to my own content. And yes, be more appreciative of your efforts by being a better 'commenter' on your blogs.

I want to refine my newsletter. It's been fairly consistent, sent out around the first of the month...but I can do better. I can write a more interesting newsletter that my readers will anticipate receiving. I believe I can improve on the content.

As far as sales go. My commission work is fairly consistent as a result of my website and blog and print sales have increased since adding PayPal, (I know, you said they would).

But I still need to search out some additional venues for my original pieces. Perhaps some galleries or national exhibits...You know, where my art goes on the trip and I get to stay home.

This will take some time and research to develop properly. We'll just have to see. I will keep you posted.

PS...It feels good to be back. I missed blogging and I missed you.

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