Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Change of Mind/Direction - Again

A week ago I re-started doing small daily paintings. I was really going to do it this time -- but I'm not, after all. It just doesn't work with my personality - and my method of painting, which is, I'm sorry to say, of a more laborious, yet relaxed, style. I wanted to learn to paint faster, looser, (more profitably?) -- but I have to conclude that it's just not in my personality or painting style to do so. I still found myself painting a bit too ambitious, albeit smallish, paintings - and feeling frustrated that I was spending way, way too many hours on them, and yet still not completely satisfied with the results.

I don't know what drives me sometimes. I'm "of a certain age," heading into retirement kicking and fighting all the way -- but, as I've been all my life, I still have this drive to master whatever my chosen goal at the time is - and for the past several years and I think for the rest of my life, it's been painting. I've mentioned before, maybe not here but in my other blog, that I've had a few careers in my very interesting life, some of which were quite demanding (i.e., neuroscience/experimental psychologist, self-taught and highly successful court reporter, highly successful ceramics artist, to name a few notable ones). But none of my careers prepared me for the challenges or frustrations of being (becoming) a full-fledged, accomplished painter. It is by far the hardest path I have chosen in my life -- and yet the most rewarding when I "get it right," which amazingly I sometimes do.

Well, I don't even know exactly where this post was headed when I began - except to say that I'm giving up the daily paintings again and feel that it's the right move for me. I need to continue to explore and learn and paint for as long a time as I feel I need to on each and every painting to "get it right," even if it isn't the most profitable method of working. It just feels right for me, and I think that's important. And, so far, my happy clients and customers appreciate the work I do. So for now at least, I'll keep painting along in my own slow, probably not-too-efficient style, and loving every second of it. Now for another cup of coffee and a little while with a good art book.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blue and Gold Macaw, Parrot, with Toy Ball, Daily Painting #6, July 22, 2010

Here's my painting for today -- again, too ambitious.  It's #6, painted July 22, 2010.  I think I did okay on it, but it took way, way too long and didn't allow me to do my regular work, too.  But it was a lot of fun to learn, and I can see that I am already learning tons more than I was learning by just doing custom paintings.  This difficult grind of doing a painting a day I think is going to pay off in huge rewards after even just a few months.  I'm not claiming at all to be even a half-good painter, but I think that by learning and studying and DOING (Nike was right with their "Just Do It" slogan), I'm going to progress to be a better and better painter much more rapidly than I would have if I hadn't undertaken this endeavor.  Let me know what you think. 

I went to the bookstore today and bought another art book, this time on color theory.  It blows me away.  You know what, I studied neuroscience for nearly five years in graduate school, and this study of art makes that seem like child's play --- seriously!  This is a lot of complex stuff to learn and then to keep juggling it all in your mind and through your hands while at the same trying to do a painting - really, it's amazing that anyone can ever, ever master it all.  But I love, love, love a good challenge - always have - and this is the best and most difficult one yet.  And it'll take me the entire rest of my life to even begin to begin to grasp it.  I can't remember who it was, but some really accomplished artist was reputedly said to have stated right before he died something like "and I was just beginning to get it."  I know that's very crudely paraphrased, but you get the idea.

Well, anyway, this painting and print are both listed on my website and on my Artfire studio (yes, I'm starting to use it more and more as a "gallery" to showcase my artwork).  Here's the link:

Okay, onto that subject, Artfire, as I've mentioned before, I am getting to like it more and more all the time -- but I still am not selling well on it.  I'll let you know if and when that changes; I expect it will.  As I may have mentioned before, there's a way to have it be the "store" for my website, some sort of seamless linkage.  When I have the time to figure all that out, I think it will really pay for itself (which it has to do at some point or I'll have to drop it.)  But again, I expect it will before too long.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daily Painting #5, July 21, 2010, "You Lookin' at Me?" Italian Greyhound

Go easy on me with this one.  Hey, I finished it today, and it's not as complicated as yesterday's.  But I'm not crazy about it.  Maybe I shouldn't be saying that about my own work; but again, I promised to put up everything I do - good or bad - during my Daily Painting run.  I know I need to loosen up, so that's what this one is all about.  Anyway, here it is.  It's an Italian greyhound face on 8x10x1" wood and will be available for sale on my website later on this evening.  Don't everyone rush to get it 'cause I only have the one! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"True Love," a Mastiff Pair, Daily Painting #4, July 20

Today's Daily Painting was a bit too ambitious, so I'm going to have to be a little more careful in what I choose to paint in the future for my daily paintings.  It took me nearly all day to paint it, and I still had to work on commissions, too.  So I'm tired!

These two sweetie mastiffs were painted from a photo sent to me, believe it or not, years ago from someone I met at Portland Saturday Market.  Unfortunately, I have had a couple of computer crashes since that time, so I do not have the person's name. 

The painting is 8x8x1.5 on gallery-wrapped canvas, with the sides painted the same blue as the background.  It's for sale on my website for $50, plus shipping and insurance of $6.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Golden Retriever Swimming with Tennis Ball, July 19, 2010

Okay, here's Day 3 of my daily paintings.  So far, so good, I guess.  This is mighty stressful, I might say, but I'm going to keep it up.  (However, in the next five or six weeks, I'll have to take a week-or-two break because I have to travel - by car - across the country -- again! This will be about the thousandth time, I think!)  But for now, I'll continue doing my paintings a day. 

This is a golden retriever, swimming with a tennis ball in his/her mouth.  It's for sale, of course, $50, 8x10x1" on prepared wood, with the sides painted the same color as the water, wired and ready to hang.  You can find it on my website listed above.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The good, the bad, and the kind of not so great

Well, I gave a lot of thought to leaving this one off, but I decided recently, quietly, to myself, that I am going to try to branch out a little bit and do paintings other than dogs.  I've briefly mentioned it in recent posts, in fact.  I've also decided - again - to try to do a small painting every day (except weekends, when I'm always too busy to do any painting at all).  So Thursday was my first day, actually, with the little black pug puppy - my first "daily," that is.  (I tried over a year ago with daily paintings, too, but I just wasn't ready yet.  Maybe I am now.  I think it'll be good practice.)

Yesterday, I painted this little group of flowers that I found in a neighbor's yard.  I don't know what they're called; I just thought they were pretty.  I don't think I really did them justice, but I felt, again, that if I'm really earnest about doing this painting-a-day thing, that I should list each and every one I do, even if I'm not particularly proud of it.  Even though it's not the best thing I've ever done, I did get some pleasure from painting it -- and I learned something very valuable:  painting something outside my "comfort zone" is much, much more challenging than I ever thought it would be. 

Wish me luck on my new little venture.  I don't know how long I'll make it, but I promise I will give it my very best effort one month at a time.  How about that?  One month at a time.  And I'll continue to list both the good , pretty good, and not-so-good ones, too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A new report on Artfire

Okay, I'm really, really liking Artfire these days - and I think I'll continue to do so the more I get to know it.  It has a lot of great functions that I haven't found elsewhere, the artists/craftspeople on there are extremely generous with sharing their support and knowledge with each other -- and I'm finally starting to get sales.  I think this venue is a keeper - and at this time, July 2010, I highly recommend it.  As I may have said before, I first had a "basic," reduced-function membership at no cost.  But I received an offer from them for a $1.00 fee for "Pro" membership for the month of July, no contract required, so what did I have to lose.  I have really worked it hard this month and will continue to do so.  I have had only a few sales, admittedly, but I see real potential here.  And the price is certainly right -- if I continue to have more and more sales.  It's $15.95 a month, flat fee, and no percentage fee with sales, just the flat monthly fee.  That's it. 

I will add one thing, though:  This site definitely has to be marketed.  It doesn't have the following that Etsy has, nowhere near it.  But look out!  I think if things go as it appears they're going on it, it's going to be well-known someday.  I'll continue to report on it and the other venues I've been checking out as time goes on, but so far, it's my favorite new one.

Black Pug Puppy Portrait on Red

This is a little 8x10x1" black pug puppy painting I did today.  It's acrylic on wood paneling with sides painted the same as the red background.   It was a pleasure to paint, as are all pugs -- and I know because I do paint a lot of them.  I've never had one, but I've had the great opportunity to meet many of them in my dog-painting career, and I find them to be very friendly, gentle, outgoing but calm dogs.  I won't mind it a bit if I find myself with one someday. 

As usual, the prints are available on my website, and I also have the original listed there as well. 

A quick note:  I no longer sell the pendants from my website, but they are for sale on Artfire. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crater Lake vacation nightmare

Okay, I know this has nothing to do with painting, but I just finished the most miserable camping trip - ever (well, almost ever, anyway).  We went to Crater Lake to spend a few days, got there in the afternoon, started setting up the tent, and realized there were massive swarms of mosquitoes (think Hitchcock's birds but substitute mosquitoes), attacking us as if we were their last chance at avoiding certain and imminent starvation!  Really, when one of us was in the sun, there was this aura of the blood-sucking creatures floating around the entire person.  We thought it was because it was a bit late in the day, so we stuck it out and stayed the night -- after we killed around a hundred of them that had gotten into the tent.  The next morning, at around 5 am (really!), we thought everything was great - no mosquitoes.  But by around 6 am, they were out again!  They were even diving into my "camp coffee" as I tried to boil it.  No kidding; I've never seen so many at once in all my life.  So we took a hike and came back around 11 am, and they were still there, in full sunlight.  By 2 pm, as we sat huddled in the tent slathering ourselves once again with $11-per-bottle mosquito repellant bought at the camp store, we decided just to give up and leave -- forfeiting our prepaid nights at the campsite but saving what little blood we had left.  We counted the number of bites on my daughter's back when we finally got back home, and she had 22 bites just on her back. 

I took my paints and some 8x10 boards, and I had every intention of doing quite a number of small landscape paintings - finally.  But the paints were never touched : (

Anyway, it was quite a disappointment.  We're going to try the coast next time - it's got to be better. 

Okay, thanks for listening to me.  I feel much better now.  But I don't think I'll ever go back to Crater Lake again.  Let's hope the coast is better.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Cute Italian Greyhound on a Purple Bed I recently finished

Here's a cute Italian Greyhound painting I finished just yesterday morning.  It's acrylic painted on a 16x20x3/4" staple-free canvas and is available for $150 plus shipping of approximately $12 (includes shipping insurance).   As usual, it's being sold elsewhere, too, so let me know if you want it and I'll send you an ebill and pull it from the other location.

I'm also doing a small head shot of a yellowish Italian Grey, too, which will be done probably by the end of the week. 

My daughter asked me again to remind you to check out our Facebook page, too, so here's the link:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Re my running commentary on online art/crafts sales venues

Well, I don't have a whole lot to report at this time.  I got a couple of sales on, but they were to other artists/vendors on the site - due to my having made comments in the discussion forums.  Absolutely no "outside" sales.  However, in fairness to artfire, I haven't had (or taken) the time to do much marketing, either.  I'll keep working with it, I think, though, just to see how it goes if I give it more of a chance.

Etsy is still going strong, although it's slowed down a bit I think because it's summertime.  I still haven't checked back with 1000 Markets, but I promise I will soon.  I'm also looking at another venue now, too, but so far, I haven't done much yet with it:  It's called  There's supposedly a free membership or a $30 annual membership.  I'll report my findings on it probably next week (we've got a camping trip coming up for a few days!  Horray!)

A Rottweiler commissioned painting I did recently - with Mount Hood

Lest you think I haven't been painting lately, I truly have.  It's just been almost all commissions, which often don't appeal to much of anyone other than the pet's family member who commissioned the painting.  Here's one that I feel might have a bit more universal appeal, though:  It's a painting of a rottweiler, named Porter, whose family love the outdoors, especially being up on or around Mount Hood.  This is Porter at an area where his family like to go camping; that's Mount Hood, in the Oregon Cascade Mountains, if you're not familiar with it. 

I like this painting for a couple of reasons:  First, it's my first real landscape painting - yeah, I know, but I've been so busy with animals that I really haven't had the time to do any landscapes.  That's going to change soon, though, because I'm really, really eager to do more now that I've had a taste of it!   Secondly, I think Porter is a beauty, and I really enjoyed painting him.  Note those dark spots on his tongue.  They're not shadows but actual dark markings.  Anyway, hope you like it, too.  It was a great pleasure to paint.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More Feedback on 1000 Markets and Artfire

Sorry I haven't been writing much lately.  I've been really busy with custom paintings, and they're still coming in.  But I did want to give you a quick update on my "research" on the above-mentioned two online venues.
First, I can't even tell you exactly why, but I just haven't had a good feeling about 1000 Markets - it seems very restrictive, I think is one of the main things - so I've kind of dropped it at least for the time being.  I haven't closed my "shop," but I'm just not doing anything on it.

But Artfire, I have a much better "feeling" about, and I plan to give it a really good try.  I've had a couple of sales - I know, that's not much, but, hey, feelings count for something.  And the other sellers on there are just so nice and extremely supportive. 

Example:  I was really frustrated that I hadn't sold anything after having been on there for around two months, so I researched around to find out how to move my Etsy listings over there -- and managed to move them, all 500-plus of them.  Still no interest - or sales.  So I wrote a plaintive request for what I was doing wrong, not doing right, whatever, on their forum - and got around 45 responses, all very supportive, informative, and encouraging.  Plus !!!  I sold a couple of items to other vendors.  And, after having done some of the "tweaks" that were suggested to me, I'm getting a lot more traffic, too.

Let me go over a couple of reasons why I really like this venue:  First of all, they're not at all restrictive, like the 1K Markets site - or even Etsy for that matter - about your promoting yourself  within their site regarding other venues you sell (such as my own website, etsy, facebook, whatever, there are absolutely no restrictions on that kind of self-promotion.)  In fact, I think it's even encouraged.

Secondly, although for my first couple of months I had the absolutely free online shop on artfire, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse:  $1 fee for the month of July and no commitment to do more.  So what did I have to lose.  This site has absolutely no sales fees, no listing fees, just a flat monthly fee of around $16.00 (a few cents less, I think).  I know I sell quite well on Etsy, so consequently my fees are rather high, but I'm hoping someday soon to sell well on this site, too.  The big difference I see in this venue and Etsy now is that Etsy has earned a big name and a really big presence in the online world - thus lots and lots of traffic; this venue does have the big name, etc., and thus not lots of traffic - yet!  So you have to promote it -- and, of course, yourself, through whatever means are at your disposal.  I personally don't have a whole lot of time to promote myself on there due to my large custom workload, but I'm doing what I can.  I'm telling customers at Portland Saturday Market where we have had booth for years about it, and I'm even going (haven't done it yet) to try to make use of it on my own website as a kind of "checkout" for website sales.  I don't know exactly how I'm going to do that yet, but I think it will work very well once I get it figured out.

Okay, I've got a huge commission that's due TOMORROW - YIKES!!!, so I better get back to work on it.  When I'm done with that one, I think I can take a little breather and will list some of these custom paintings I've been doing lately.  I haven't been able to do much painting on my own lately due to the customs, so I'm really hoping to be able to do my own thing again soon, too. 

Check out the two sites I've talked about and let me (and others) know what your thoughts are on them.  Let's all help each other in this business of art/crafts.