This Monday there will be no new article posted on EmptyEasel, in honor of Memorial Day here in the US. If you’re celebrating with us, either here or abroad, we hope you’re having a wonderful holiday weekend!
Tuesday in Drawing Tips – We all know the pain of buying art supplies. . . we squeeze every bit of paint from the tube, work with long-dead brushes, and cram sketches into every corner of our sketchbooks. So on Tuesday, drop in and grab a handful of great techniques from Carrie Lewis on how to massively extend the life of your pencils.
Wednesday in Featured Artists – Don’t miss your chance to see a few of Roula Chreim’s ephemeral, dreamlike paintings on EE. And remember, we’re always looking for artists to feature on EmptyEasel—so feel free to submit your own artwork too!
Thursday in Art Marketing Tips – Come back this Thursday for three art marketing tips from Alyice Edrich on how to create a memorable tagline that gets noticed.
Friday in Art Movements – Steff Metal will be closing out the week with an in-depth look at the unique style and movement of art known as Steampunk. Make sure to swing by on Friday and check it out!
Last week’s articles on EmptyEasel:
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A macro photograph of a beautiful closed tulip against a bokeh background of vivid orange mature blooms. Photographed in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Eric Francis started out painting cartoon characters. He learned everything he could from books and later went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio painting from Centenary College in Louisiana.
After college, painting took a backseat to earning a living. . . that is, until the day he became too ill to work. While he’s healed and healthy now, that downtime allowed Eric to think about his life and what he really wanted to do with it.
Alyice: What’s been your greatest artistic success?
Eric: The ability to create art every day. That might sound a bit corny but it true. For me, a labor of love is a great blessing.
Alyice: Why did you choose acrylic as your medium?
Eric: When I first started painting I used oils. I would go to museums or galleries and see oil paintings. All the great masters used oils and they were who I was trying to be like. Oils had one big drawback, though. . . drying time.
I didn’t really know how to use acrylics but I did some experimenting with them and realized that if I could get a similar look to my oil paintings they would be great.
It was some time after my college days when I did some more experimenting and finding out about the techniques I could use to produce high quality paintings. The results I got were amazing. When I realized that the quality I was getting was as good as any oil paintings I had produced, I was sold.
It is as good for most things and even better for other things because you can control the finish and don’t have to put up with the smell of turpentine or oil. It’s also nontoxic.
Alyice: What is the most challenging part about working with acrylics?
Eric: The most challenging thing about acrylics is also its greatest advantage: drying time. It air dries in minutes so a lot of the traditional wet-on-wet techniques don’t work. You can’t blend because it simply dries too fast.
Acrylic paints also dry dark so you don’t get the color you thought you had when the painting was wet. . . this takes some getting used to. I always premix my paints to see how they look dry before I get them on a canvas because I don’t like any surprises.
Alyice: What is the best part about working with acrylics?
Eric: The best thing about acrylic paints is the drying time. I know I’m contradicting myself but it’s almost instant gratification. When I made oil paintings it would take months for the paintings to dry, but when I paint thin with acrylic paints, it takes minutes.
I also like its versatility. Acrylic paint adheres to so many surfaces from a traditional surface like a canvas or paper to being able to paint murals. It can stick to any porous surface. I have produced acrylic paintings on paper that looks like watercolor. And I can add glass, sand, newspaper print, or anything else that would stick to the paint.
Acrylic polymer film is a clear binder that allows the brilliant color of the pigment to shine through. It won’t become yellow or chip like many of the old master’s paintings do. It’s also a plastic so it expands and contracts to changing weather conditions.
I’m also a big fan of how easy it is to clean up. A little soap and water is all you need.
Alyice: What do you wish you knew about acrylics before you got started?
Eric: I wish I knew that it was a respected medium.
I thought that in order to be a respected painter you needed to paint with oils. All the great masters that I so love (like Vermeer, Rembrandt and Caravaggio to name a few) used oils. Plus, I wish I knew how easy it is to use.
Alyice: Do you do anything in particular to seal your art?
Eric: I don’t use any sealant because it doesn’t need it.
Acrylic, when dry, is unaffected by many liquids so if you spill water on it, it’s not a big deal. In theory it’s not compromised by UV light, either. And if it gets dusty—as all paintings eventually do—you’ll have to get it professionally cleaned.
Alyice: What is your creative process like?
Eric: Every painting begins with an idea. I usually see something that gets my creative juices flowing. It’s a masterpiece I see in my imagination that needs to be extracted from my mind.
The first thing I do is create a sketch where I try to work out the composition and get most of the major details of the subject down. I sometimes make a color sketch on paper where I dilute the paint to watercolor-like consistency. Then I draw my idea with a waterproof pen on watercolor paper and make a painting. This is done to see if my color scheme works.
By the time I am ready to paint, I have a really strong idea about how it is going to look and the direction I’m going to take. I paint almost every day. If I can’t do anything substantial, I write my name. Your signature is a legally binding work of art. If I didn’t want to paint for whatever reason I only need to write my name in a slow and meaningful way. That always gets me going.
Before I begin for the day, I do a simple warm-up. It’s usually a pure contour drawing. My goal is switch my mind over to right brain mode. . . in this mode of perception, painting can be as easy as watching TV. Sometimes I just seem to get in a flow state and it’s wonderful. It becomes difficult to stop and do things like eat and sleep.
Alyice: How has your style changed over the years?
Eric: When I first started, I wanted to be an illustrator. I didn’t change my mind until I took a class trip to the Dallas museum of art. I saw a painting that made me want to explode. I was so excited about it that I never took the time to see who the painter was. But, I remember the painting and the way I felt.
It looked like a perfect thought, like a perfect expression of what was in the artist’s imagination. I knew then that I wanted to spend every day trying to create something that outstanding—even though I didn’t know if I could make something that great.
I didn’t pick up painting until college. In those days I worked on figures—a lot of really cartoony stuff. Now, I mostly stick to portraits and some floral paintings. I can’t truthfully say why I love portraits so much. . . I just know I do.
Nothing in my background before seeing that painting in Dallas would indicate a love for fine arts. Out of the thousand of different things around me, faces grab my attention. I like the challenge of getting a good likeness.
I pick the subjects that I do because of the ideas I have once I see them, then I try to capture a moment, a feeling, an idea.
Alyice: What do you believe is a key element in creating a good composition?
Eric: One important element has to be color. It’s what painting is all about. The right color makes the difference between a good painting and a great one.
I also pay attention to negative and positive space. When you consider negative and positive space you look at the entire picture plane and not just your main subject. . . which results in a more harmonious painting.
Since I mostly do portraits, getting a good likeness is very important too. That means creating sound structure. The entire painting can fall apart because I didn’t take the time to develop good structure.
Alyice: How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your acrylic pieces?
Eric: When I began to think about making a living as an artist I realized I had to charge enough to make a comfortable living. Enough to meet my goals.
There are three aspects that go into pricing a work of art: cost of material, time I spend working on it, and size.
It’s easy to keep a records of how long it takes because I work on a schedule. I find that without a schedule my work suffers because I would paint when I felt like it. I know now working on something leads to more creative ideas which then leads to more work. Sitting around waiting for inspiration leads to more sitting around and waiting.
I think about the amount of money I should earn in that time period. I know how much money I want to earn for the year. I break that down into months then I break those months down into weeks. So if I have to do several things in that week or just one thing, I know the amount of money I will get for that time.
If I don’t pay attention to the cost of materials, it can get away from me. Technically, all my paintings are made the same way so it’s easy to guess the cost per painting. For instance, I know how much paint I’m going to use based on the size of the canvas. I do plenty of commissions and I charge per square feet, so when I’m asked to quote a price, I know how much to charge based on size. The size tells me the amount material and the time I’m going to spend making it.
I rarely go down on a quoted price. The art market isn’t bargain shopping. You wouldn’t go to the grocery store and try to bargain for a bag of bread. Instead of going down on price I offer extras like sketches, concept paintings, etc.
Lowering your price is unfair to other people who bought your work at full price—unless you are having a sale. It just doesn’t seem right to me to give everybody a different price based on their skill of negotiation.
You can visit Eric at http://erictfrancis.blogspot.com.
Painting,Acrylic 16 inches 20 inches
Remember the beauty of Mother Nature
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A close-up photograph of an orange Icelandic poppy flower about to burst into full bloom. Taken in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For the book, ______Guerrilla Marketing to Baby Boomers Author: Kristi Carter
In my book I show how large and small businesses can optimize their marketing efforts to the targeted audience of baby boomers. Many businesses are realizing that baby boomers are buying for three generations; their children, themselves and their aging parents. The baby boomers are the biggest sector of consumers with disposable income and they demand high standards in the products they purchase. Baby boomers have a consciousness that past generations were not as concerned about. Boomers have actually helped our society raise the bar for more sustainable items and environmentally sound products. They care about the world around them and what they will be leaving as a legacy to their children. In Guerrilla Marketing to Baby Boomers, I discuss the boomer_____™s perception of the world. It is crucial for marketers use the right language and method to activate interest in their prospects mind.___ It is important to know is that boomers are changing the world for a better and simpler place.
In my book I show several marketing methods that help simplify our marketing plans ranging from using social media to delegating certain tasks to professional services such as www.Odesk.com . Working efficiently is the key here. For the entrepreneur, my book shows how to set up and use autoresponders, viral marketing and landing pages to drive traffic to their product or services. More and more people prefer the ______work at home online_____™ model of business so they can spend more time at home with their families. This book speaks to them and points the way. Family values and time freedom are the buzzwords that so many entrepreneurs use to propel themselves onto great success both personally and professionally as they ______work at home online_____™. In this book you will learn:
* The basic principles of marketing online
* How to get an audience of people begging to buy your product
*Why and what baby boomers are buying
*How to automate your business so you can spend more time with the family
*The importance and influence of Social Media
* Secrets that baby boomers don't want you to know
*Developing and sustaining your marketing plan
There are resources throughout each paragraph of the book to educate and help marketers reach their goals, as well as, make your life a lot easier. In chapter 7 ______Secrets for Selecting the Best Marketing Methods_____™ there are links to demographic studies, e-media and info-media. If you have the Kindle version, you can simply click and go to that link immediately. Plus there is a number of case scenarios___ showing the cost and time frame for running ads in the Yellow Pages, Television ad and ___ Radio. This book provides 150 ways to reach your audience through mini and maxi marketing methods. Chapter 19 disusses using Skymall as a resource to promote your business. Chapter 24 shows you ways to promote your business using Craigslist, eBay and several other online storefronts. The later chapters show how to put all of these methods into action. This book is a ______Hands on Marketing Tool_____™ that is up-to-date with the current methods of marketing online and offline. Using a few different marketing methods, both online and offline, will your heighten your exposure to the baby boomer___ customer.
The older marketing methods such as telemarketing, billboard advertising and tradeshows are still a viable way to reach your potential customer. Wind advertising or cinema ad displays are a more modern way to leave an impression of your business in the minds of your targeted consumers-the baby boomers.___ Did you know that the biggest sector of people who attend movies are baby boomers? In chapter 22 you will learn all about Cinema advertising. Whether you are working at home online or a large company, this book will get you the results___ you are after. You will be more effective___ in your marketing endeavors and be able to spend more time with the family as well as___ pursuing other interests besides 'work'.___ ___ The intention is for this book to be used in College Courses, large and small business and for the home online entrepreneur. ___ I wish you all much success, happiness and lots of family time.
Click___ the link below___ to purchase the book, Guerrilla Marketing to Baby Boomers http://amzn.to/12tjTmI
To contact me: kristiacarter@gmail.
We all know we should back up our computers. None of us seem to do it, however. To me, talking about backups is kind of like talking about flossing. . . Until it hurts no one wants to listen. Fair enough.
I, however, have already lost plenty data and have needed a few teeth drilled, too. Bad luck? Maybe. But if you—ahem—feel my pain, keep reading. :)
Most of us keep a couple of hard drives around to backup our photos. Nearly everyone has USB flash drives stashed in drawers, on key chains and under couch cushions.
But what about just uploading all your photos to the cloud? You could access your archived photos anywhere. You would have another layer of security for when your vintage hard drive finally dies.
In some cases using the cloud to augment your other backup strategies can be a great idea. But there are always pros and cons, especially depending on which service you use.
First, Flickr is great, but it’s not a backup tool
I’ll start by crossing off all of the well-loved photo sharing services we all tend to use. Flickr, Photo Stream, Adobe Revel, etc.
Most of us figure that photo sharing sites are a great way to back up our photos. After all, the pictures are online right? Well, not exactly. . .
Yes, everyone’s snapshots are magically transported by iCloud to Photo Stream; Adobe Revel is weird but promising; and Flickr—well, Flickr is both textbook, inspiration AND portfolio.
However, services like these aren’t designed to store data and are poor choices for backing up your pictures. File sizes are capped. Uploading and downloading your photos isn’t quick or easy.
In addition, there is no guarantee that a picture, or even your entire account, won’t be deleted without prior notice. (Always back up your backup. Always.)
So use them to share your pictures and NOT for a backup.
So what about the cloud you already have?
The usual suspects, Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon, and plenty of others DO offer cloud storage that could be potentially useful.
The benefit to these types of services is that you are likely already using several of them already. The learning curve is negligible. The cost is low, or free.
In this case, it also doesn’t matter whether you are interested in uploading photographs or spreadsheets, because these solutions aren’t specifically tailored to photographers.
The interface might not be the easiest to navigate, and your data may or may not be encrypted. Your data will likely be capped at somewhere well under 10GB unless you start paying a subscription.
Meanwhile, how long would it take to upload (or download if your hard drive crashes) a terabyte-worth of photos if you needed to replace all of your photos?
There are still too many complications to make backing up to the cloud a mainline solution for photographers.
There are bigger, better clouds, but. . .
Even with the current problems of backing up photos to the cloud, it’s easy to imagine potential scenarios that do make sense. Out in the real world plenty of photographers have already incorporated the cloud into their workflow, just like everyone else.
Photographers use the cloud to archive portfolios, as a way to have yet another backup of their best work, and as a way to collaborate on projects with clients, editors and designers.
There ARE cloud storage solutions designed photographers and other creative professionals – PhotoShelter and Adobe’s Creative Cloud come to mind.
These options tend to cost more than some of the above-mentioned options because they include more specific, more powerful features, more storage space, and professional support.
These are typically marketed to people for whom photography is a business. If you already use Adobe products, or if you want to keep a few hundred gigs backed up in the cloud, it might be worth it.
Even so, these aren’t foolproof solutions.
No backup is foolproof, even an expensive backup. Just ask any grizzled old photographer-techie about how things went with Digital Railroad. (Always back up your backup. Always.)
My opinion is that the cloud is yet another handy tool.
Experimentation is quick and in some cases, cheap or free. Good companies, like the ones mentioned above, offer free 30-day trials of their products and services. While for most photographers it is still more practical and cost-effective to buy hard drives for backup, I think it is worth testing out strategies that incorporate cloud storage.
Try it and see if it’s potentially useful for whatever needs you envision.
Remember, though, that redundancy is the core concept with backing up your images. I’ll say it just one more time:
Always back up your backup. Always.
After obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, Jerry La Point began his artistic career with exuberance, exhibiting commercially in solo and group shows for 14 years.
His work has been showcased in galleries from Atlanta, Ga. to Blowing Rock, N.C. His success lies very obviously in his masterful skill at creating free flowing, expressive paintings in both watercolor and oil.
The dynamic, almost turbulent, perspective seen in Crossing, below, portrays wildness to perfection. A rushing brook gushes toward the viewer, reflecting colors of the trees above and jagged rocks and boulders below as it tumbles down the forest slope with lively determination.
Out of focus tree trunks and foliage give a sense of motion. . . almost as if we, ourselves, are looking from left to right rapidly, lost and scared in the wilderness.
In Floral 1, Jerry’s swift, unconcerned brushstrokes create an untidy background that reminds me of when a child gets his or her hands dirty and marks up a pristine white wall. It presents a carefree, relaxed attitude that I find very pleasing.
After all, flowers spring up from the dirt, and what is dirt but dirty?! The painting pays homage to the earth and a celebration of the beauty of flowers that cannot be arranged or contained without a determined hand.
Best of all, in a vase jumbled with cream and teal flowers sits one perfect rose. This particular rose’s captivating red petals dip and swirl delicately into one another, drawing us forward with the hint of a luscious scent, and the desire to “stop and smell the roses.”
Last but not least is Neighbors by the Lake, featuring a white-washed community of homes hidden behind a waterlogged wall of purples and pinks.
Perhaps living near a lake, where one could fish, swim, boat and soak in the sun to his or her heart’s content feels like living with rose-colored glasses. It certainly sounds wonderful to me!
What I love most about this painting, however, is that it tells the lake’s tale in its appearance, alone – so clever! Tall, leafless trees reflect atop the still water, and the houses that rest on dry land beyond bleed into one another, making it hard to tell where one stops and the other begins.
The rest of Jerry’s portfolio proves even more that he can dabble in all sorts of styles and approaches, and still come out with something cohesive, beautiful, and captivating. Don’t miss this opportunity to check out the rest of his work today!
Check out my NEW summer encaustic classes at Schack Art Center! Photo Imagery II (June 7 & 8), Extreme Encaustic Basics (Aug. 9) and Encaustic Collage: Natural Elements (Aug. 10)! I can already smell the beeswax!
As an artist, you’ve spent hours honing your craft, learning the latest techniques and practicing your skills to get to the level you’re at today.
But there are many other skills that will also help to make you a successful artist—and no, these aren’t skills related to your craft.
Here are five skills that I believe every artist should think about studying and improving:
Photography is perhaps one of the most useful skills an artist could have. Being able to take decent photographs while out-and-about can help you record details about a scene or object that you might want to use in a work later. You’ll also save yourself a lot of money by photographing your own work for catalogs and your website.
How to improve at photography: Find some books at the library, take a course at your local community college, and get outside with your camera and practice!
Artists can sometimes be very introverted, insular people, preferring the company of a cat in their studio to a loud group of people at a party. But an artist who wants to sell his/her work has to be relatable to the public, and that means getting out in the world and selling yourself.
Forming a network of other artists, collectors and support people in your local community is vital for raising your profile and improving your sales. Networking can be hard work if you’re not used to it, but like anything in life, practice makes perfect!
How to improve at networking: Read Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and then get out and start talking to people. It gets easier the more you do, trust me!
3. Social media / blogging
More and more artists are using the Internet to sell their work and build a loyal following of collectors. The most successful online artists have spent years honing their social media and blogging techniques, and you can learn a lot by following them and using some of the same techniques.
Going online doesn’t work for all artists, but for many it offers a new way to connect directly with fans, bypassing the gallery scene and earning more in the meantime.
Any artist who can write well about his or her work will have a much easier time finding buyers.
Why? First of all, an artist who can write will be able to create their own marketing material—sending out press releases and creating the pages for a websites. Secondly, an artist who writes will be able to create a blog that other people will want to read, further increasing their exposure.
Thirdly, an artist who writes will have another creative outlet, another tool in the creative toolbox to utilize for future projects.
How to improve at writing: Take a creative writing class, read great writing books (I love Stephen King’s On Writing) and then put pen to paper and practice your words!
Artists can be spontaneous creatures, and it often goes against our nature to stick to a schedule and work to a timeframe. But a bit of organization will not only help you become more productive in the studio; it will also demonstrate that you are a professional, serious artist.
The best organization system is one that you don’t even notice exists. I use a combination of a paper diary to keep track of appointments, and a series of colored plastic drawers for important papers, collecting project inspiration, and storing receipts.
By creating a schedule and planning your time wisely, you’ll spend more time on the things you enjoy and less time worrying about everything you’ve got to get done.
Luckily, many of these skills are easy and fun to dive into. . . OK, maybe not getting organized, but with that skill, the pay-off is worth it! So why wait? Get started today, and good luck!
My paintings reflect what I see and how I feel about things around me I always wanted to paint what I see or maybe the unseen, As an artist over the years I have learned and work in the ways how to be transparency, I don't think I'm limited to paint things especially when its come to the environment in which I lived . Inspiration and creativity putting color and shapes into forms to speak a unknown language call cubism.
Monday in General Art Advice – Drop in tomorrow for an excellent article by Steff Metal, entitled “5 New Skills All Artists Should Learn.”
Tuesday in Featured Artists – Don’t miss out on Jerry La Point’s gorgeous watercolor and oil paintings, featuring his soft, impressionist style. As always, if you’d like your own artwork to be showcased on EE, send it in!
Wednesday in Photography Tips – Zach McCabe will answer a very important question—Should I back up my photos to the cloud?—that many of us have probably thought about, but just haven’t acted upon yet.
Thursday in Artist Interviews – Alyice Edrich will end out the week with a great interview featuring oil painter Eric Francis.
Last week’s articles on EmptyEasel:
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I have had what I hope is an epiphany. That is to say, I hope I don't move back into the cave of my own reticence and fear. Please bear with me here, my mind is running in two circles.
I am 52. I became a grandmother for the first time last December and the second time in January. I wanted to be a grandmother while I was still young enough to chase them and spend time with them. I had an excellent grandmother and I wanted to be an excellent grandmother. It is a distinct, marked point of transition in one___________™s life, being a grandparent. It is a rite of passage of a sort, and as my oldest son is 29, it is one I had waited for a bit longer than anticipated.
I had another life mapped out for myself at 21, and it didn't include getting married and having children. I wanted to be an artist. I knew this was my life____'s work, my ambition, my passion, my direction, my life'_______™s calling. Because of some complicated family drama and a controlling boyfriend, I ended up pregnant and married, in that order, at 23. I went on to have six children in all, being a single parent before my last child was born because he walked out on the family. I was kept too busy to paint even during the marriage, I think because my ex-husband was jealous of my abilities and of the art degree I had learned that he had not. Once we were separated, I scrambled to make a living to support my children by myself because I knew I would not have his help in that direction or any other. I ended up building a career where I have been successful, reasonably happy, but after 17 years, bored and unfulfilled. This is not my life's calling.
I faced turning 52 in February 2013 by finding more than a few white hairs sprouting from my temples to be glints of light amongst my red curls. The irony of this time in my life is that I a_______™m a grandmother, graying________ and still frequenting the feminine hygiene aisles and trying to decide if I a_______™m still youngish, or if I a_______™m sliding past being a middle-aged woman to be a wrinkled old crone. Of late, I ask myself again and again about what the rest of my life will be like; long or short, happy or in despair, or dreaming more dreams that will be unrequited like a high school crush, or will I continue to live in fear without the confidence to follow my passion?
I continue to paint, read every article, blog, newsletter, book about marketing I can put my hands on and being too afraid of rejection to move on much of any of it. My work has gotten progressively better, and on a personal level, better than I thought it would be even if I painted every day of my life for 50 years, which I have not done, yet and won'_______™t have the chance to find out, at this point. I have three days off from the drudgery of my full time job to paint, and paint I DO. The process is incredibly satisfying because I a_______™m producing something I a_______™m proud of, to a point I suppose, but the finished product holds no glory, no expectation, no appreciation in me. This fact is all twisted up with the above-mentioned family drama and the fact that my own parents refuse to hang my artwork on their walls and always have. I had to be about the process, that was the only pleasure I was ever going to experience. Until this week.
In December of 2011, a local family commissioned me to paint a memorial of a much beloved German shepherd. The dog'_______™s name was Kia and the summer before she had had to be put down, owing to ocular cancer. There were many photos taken her last day, and these were handed to me for reference. Her right eye was clouded over with the cancer, so naturally I didn'_______™t paint it that way. It is not a special piece, not one of my best. The eyes are my usual effort and have some life to them, but I was not overly enthusiastic about my work. This piece was to be a surprise Christmas gift for a local man as Kia was his dog. I could not post it online, but I could share with the family who commissioned it. I sent them text photos as I moved along. They kept assuring me I was spot on. I did the framing myself, cutting mats and making it what they wanted. I took it to them, was paid and didn____'t hear anything more about it. The gentleman who received this painting is someone I know on sight, but I had not run into him in this time since and he wouldn'_______™t know my face to put with my name. I didn____'t know what I would say to him when the time came. I was not particularly thrilled by my efforts, even though I understood that my instincts and work were correct.
This week, my opportunity came.
Me: Your name is J____ isn___________™t it?
J: Yes, it is.
Me: You have a painting in your home of a special dog named Kia.
He looked up and met my gaze, eyes beginning to fill with tears.
Me: I am Lynne Hurd Bryant, and that painting is my work.
I held out my hand to shake his, as is polite. By this point, he would not take my hand. Instead, he grabbed me, held me tightly and told me that I had no idea how special that painting was for him, how very like her it is, how it is like having her there to keep watch, what a special dog she was and wept openly, apologizing for doing so.
Me: She was your "________life dog"________?
J: Oh my, yes; yes she was. I miss her so much.
Me: I can absolutely understand that. I a_______™m a dog person myself. I wanted to capture her just right, for you.
J: You certainly did!
Me: It was a labor of love.
It was a labor of love yes, all my painting is just exactly that, but my love and respect ends when I sign it. I suppose I take for granted that my signature is the end of it, but it can be just the beginning. For every hour, every stroke of midnight, 3 a.m. that I have spent with a brush in my hand, for every time I think I have tried and failed, for the sales that are there or not, hit or miss, for all the sighing over the portfolio of beautiful orphans who don'_______™t find homes, for all the defeat, futility, inadequacy, fear and disappointments I honestly had no idea of the power of my work that it would ever, could ever, touch another human being quite that way.
This is a game changer.
It doesn'_______™t matter that I have grandchildren, except that I________ am blessed with more subject matter and a lot more love and joy in my life. I can exercise artistic license and color the white hairs of betrayal. The zigzagging hormones that bring tears at all the improper times are actually opening my heart and making me the more emotional artist I have wanted to be. The job that is sucking the life out of me doesn____'t have to be full time anymore and I can semi-retire, work rather part time at any point of my choosing.
The brushstrokes we leave on the lives of others never fade, but I didn'_______™t know that was literal as well as figurative. It is time to put my fears aside and move forward with understanding and faltering confidence. It is not too late to follow a 30-year-old dream and to paint like there is no tomorrow until all my tomorrows are gone.
It’s not always easy to figure out your brand, let alone take specific actions which will create a brand that art buyers grasp.
Yet, without an identifiable brand, it’s hard to sell art. So today we’re going to spend a little time explaining ways you can increase awareness about your brand.
Here are four questions that you can, and should, ask yourself about your brand:
1. What does your mission statement say?
The first thing you have to do is go back to the core of your business. . . your mission statement.
What is the heart of your business? What do you want your business to be known for? Where do you want your business to go?
Then you need to ask yourself, “When I look at my online presence, my marketing materials, my advertising materials, and my art, does it all line up with my mission statement?”
If it doesn’t, you need to figure out if you’ve gotten off track or if you’re moving forward in a new direction and your mission statement needs a revision.
2. Can your brand be identified online?
I used to think that a brand was simply about a logo, but it’s so much more than that. It’s about creating an atmosphere that says, “This is _______, the artist.”
Whether your art buyers are reading marketing materials, newsletters, interviews, or blog posts online, they should be able to identify you, the artist, through the words you speak, the images you share, and the things you stand for.
And, they should be able to identify you because when you interact online, you use the same:
• color scheme (on your blog, website, and social media)
• avatar or logo (whenever you post on blogs, forums or social media)
• name (whether it’s your company name or your personal name)
• website address
3. Can your creative style be identified?
Your creative style is something that art buyers should recognize no matter what medium you choose to create in, or what object you choose to depict.
From the colors, the brushstrokes, the designs, and the quality of your work, your style needs to shine through. If there are inconsistencies, take out the artwork that doesn’t belong. Keep only your best, your signature pieces, and build up from there.
4. What type of reputation do you have as an artist?
Believe it or not, how you treat your art buyers, and how you treat your colleagues, says a lot about your business.
You are your business, and therefore, how you treat others is a reflection of your business and some may argue an extension of your overall branding strategy. So be aware of how you are perceived, in your local art circles, online on Twitter and Facebook, and anywhere else where you interact with others.
By taking the time to develop a brand for your art business, you control how people think about you and your art. . . So the next time you choose the packaging for your art, or decide on your next art project, or opt to accept an interview or feature story request, think about your brand FIRST, and then proceed accordingly.
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During the 1980's my studio was located on the shore of an idyllic cove in the British Virgin Islands. In those days my 16 ton gaff cutter shared the pristine anchorage with no more than a handful of visiting yachts and a couple of inter-island cargo boats.
All too soon marinas, hotels and condominiums invaded my paradise and I moved on. However, before leaving I took out one of my largest sheets of watercolour paper and had a final fling. But even my farewell image was fated not to last. In moving back and forth between the Caribbean and England the painting was damaged beyond recall.
For years, those vibrant brush strokes existed only in my memory. And mine is a selective memory. It can remember every painting I have ever painted over the last seventy years but cannot remember my telephone number. Neither can it remember making a high definition scan of the original painting when selecting illustrations for my book Caribbean Sketches.
The scan came to light when my high-tech daughter resurrected the hard disc from one of my defunct computers. So here it is, my last vision of the Virgin Islands reincarnated as a limited edition print.
Staying organized is a chore, I know. And reading about staying organized isn’t any fun either.
But even though “workflow” isn’t the sexiest photography topic, searching through countless images to find one photo is way too tedious to do every day. And losing photos is even uglier. . . trust me.
So put your game face on and let’s look at the basics of how to keep all those terabytes of pictures you’ve got under control.
1. File naming
“The arcane art of properly defining all your pretty pictures in a way that works for both you and your computer.”
Naming all those .JPG .TIF or .DNG shouldn’t be left to chance or the arbitrary decision of your camera or image editing software. These are YOUR pictures, and likely you plan on taking many more photographs. (In addition to having quite a few of them already.)
It’s worth naming your files consciously so that you don’t duplicate, over-write or accidentally delete pictures. There are myriad possible solutions to the arcane art of file naming, but here’s the simplest idea:
Just pick a system that works for you, and stick with it.
For example, I use my initials, “ZM,” followed by the year, “XXXX,” month “XX,” and then a six-digit serial number.
This means that every single one of my image file names look something like this: ZM_2013_01_01_000001.TIF.
For a specific project I’ll typically create a duplicate set of files with a slightly different naming structure, something like: ZM_ProjectName_ProjectLocation_000001.TIF.
When I ingest pictures from my flash cards, my image software is set up to “batch” or automatically rename the images according to these naming rules I’ve created. Pictures stopped mysteriously disappearing once I started doing this. (Which is to say, once I got organized, I stopped losing stuff.) It’s simple and it works for me.
Think about what will work for you. . . it may help to consider what drives you crazy when you’re trying to sort through your photos, and fixing that problem first.
Once you choose a naming convention that will make your life easier, plug it into the software you use to ingest your photos (which, coincidentally, is the next step to organization).
2. Ingesting (or importing) photographs
“Moving or copying your photos from your flash memory to your computer.”
The first time you copy your images to your computer is far and away the best time to organize your images.
Set up your ingest process so most of the laborious tasks of organizing your pictures are automated. You can direct your software, Adobe Lightroom just for example, to copy and rename imported images and add important metadata during import.
Once you set up your process the computer will do the work. Stop and think about that for a second. . . Less work for you! Not bad, right?
3. Photo metadata
“All of the information that is logged about a particular image—logged both by you, your camera and the various software you use, too.”
Metadata is a simple tool to understand, and one that’s worth learning about, because it allows you to create order out of chaos. Really.
Your pictures need metadata because it helps track the journey from their birth on your camera to various directories on your computer where they are handled by image catalogs or browsers (like iPhoto) and even when they undergo metamorphosis within image editors (like Photoshop).
Certain software can use metadata to help you make precise corrections for lens vignetting and other flaws. You can use metadata to record important details about your pictures, including, keywords, copyright info and, if you want, detailed descriptions of the event you photographed.
Some metadata is attached within the image file itself, and some metadata is stored in a sidecar file to help software track edits, database info and the like. Metadata is a very powerful, although slightly boring, tool that you really ought to start making use of.
Specifically, the two types of metadata worth learning about are IPTC and EXIF.
IPTC gives you a way to describe your photo. It’s a standardized schema of data fields to which you can add info, like the location you took a particular picture, your name and copyright info and much more. This info is embedded in an image file within an XMP packet.
Resources for specific software applications and a more in-depth look can be found at IPTC.org’s own website.
EXIF is how your camera describes your photo. It’s a standardized schema of data fields to which your camera adds info, like the date, time and (if it’s got it) GPS.
Information like which lens you used, which aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings were used for each image are also included. This info is automatically embedded within the image file by your camera within an XMP packet.
For a more detailed explaination, try Wikipedia’s thorough write up.
4. Organizational software
“Software isn’t just a darkroom on your computer; it’s also like a smart assistant at your elbow, ready to find any photo at your request (and then geotag and FTP that photo to Flickr).”
In addition to “photo gear” as we traditionally know it, a huge part of the photographer’s toolkit is on the computer. “Yes, yes, I know all about Photoshop,” you say. (Well, good, that makes one of us.)
However there is an endless variety of ADDITIONAL software for editing as well as a whole slew of other tasks you might need to do, like converting raw image files, keywording, organizing, viewing and cataloging. Obviously, the solution is dependent the problem you’re trying to solve.
Adobe Bridge and Lightroom are widely used by photographers for managing images. Personally the only photography program I can’t bear to part with is an outdated version of PhotoMechanic—which I use to ingest, tag and view my photos.
DigiKam is free and cross-platform which is a good combination if you’re into that.
Don’t limit yourself to some frustrating do-everything-but-do-it-poorly software that came with your computer. Instead, I’ll again suggest you ask yourself what your computer can do to make your life easier. There are solutions out there for nearly any problem you want to tackle.
If you want to dig deeper into photo organization and workflow, I’d suggest starting with this handy Quick Reference by The American Society of Media Photographers at DPBestFlow.org. (And you certainly don’t need to be a professional to make use of industry best practices.)
It’s easy to take advantage of the careful thought, years of experience and handwringing that’s gone in to outlining how to deal with photos and the endless waves of other digitized content we all make and use.
So do yourself a favor and skim through some of the resources I’ve included in this article—you’ll save yourself time and effort in the long run, and have way more free time to do what you enjoy: taking pictures!
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