Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doin' the Webby Work

Took the night off from painting last night to take care of the web stuff. The web site needed to be updated with the latest painting. No good having painting inventory if you don't bother promoting it . I also spent some time trying to suss out some meta-tagging issues on the site. It's not showing up in search engines the way I want it to. It's getting good placement for the most part. Just not displaying a good site description in the Google's blurb section under the found link. Even though I put my own pages together (with some help) I'm no web designer. Research research research...
I also managed to get a stack of giclee prints posted for sale on my Etsy Store. I'm hoping that people will be more interested in picking up prints than they have been in buying the original paintings lately. When you can get a high-quality image for one tenth (or less) the price of the original why not? From an Artist's perspective it's a great deal so long as you have a reliable source for the prints themselves... which I do AND the cost to produce them isn't exhorbitant... which it isn't. You can continue to generate some revenue from paintings no longer in your inventory. In my case I can also have them produced one-off and on the fly. Custom sizes or rush jobs aren't typically a problem. I got lucky.
I can't say you'll get rich off of print sales, but I will say this: I've sold more prints this year than originals.
Something to think about.



Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Brief Moment to Reflect.

Well the plan was that I'd have the house to myself for a few hours this afternoon. Things don't always turn out like you'd planned. So the open house didn't get any traffic (damned real-estate market). Not a huge surprise. It IS February. We'll keep trying. It'll sell one of these days. On the up-side the house is clean, the kids are being good, I'm getting to blog and catch up on email. Life could be much worse. Maybe I'll get a chance to sneak out this evening and see Coraline. Big Neal Gaiman fan here. Love his stuff. If ou've never seen MirrorMask I'd highly recommend. His words with Dave McKean's art... the stuff of nightmares and fantasies galore.

But I digress... as you well know.

I put the final touches on the latest NYC piece. I'm happy with where it went and how it turned out. It gives me a sense of accomplishment that's a good warm-up for starting the new painting for the DSM Art Festival. I'll be turning my preliminary images over to the the person who is acting as my primary contact. I'll start posting the updates on this blog once we get a handle on which image we're going to go with. I've come up with three, but I'm leaning towards two of them. Well, you'll see what I mean in the near future. Keep watching.

All the best...



Thursday, February 19, 2009


I can't believe it's been a week since I last wrote. If there's anyone out there actually reading this... Sorry for the delay.

I've put in some more time on the NYC piece. Nearly done and I'm having to make a conscious effort to avoid overworking it. Sometimes I'll go back and simplify areas as a piece progresses. Just a bit more on the overhanging sign and the background.

Been spending a lot of time shoring up some details for a design project I've been working on. I feel like I've finally made the logo do what I wanted it to do. My prior designs had the necessary elements and austerity, but lacked visual punch. It can take some time to get a real feel for an image or subject matter. You've gotta play around with it. Experiment. Don't be afraid to do a complete rework (or several). It's all part of the process and in the end you'll have a better finished product if you take the time to get familiar with your subject. Once the client approves the image I'll post it.

To this end I like to play around in Photoshop. I've found that it can be a quick way to explore an image. To experiement with color and composition. Sometimes I use it to put together presentations for clients who like to have a better picture of what the project will eventually look like. It can help us to collaborate and make decisions in a more interactive way. Mind you, I don't use it exclusively. I mix my PS work with sketches, and in some cases even mockup paintings. A lot of it depends upon the client and how much they want to see up front. Some people just want you to produce a piece because they enjoy your style.

Right now I'm using it for some of my prep work for the DSM Art Festival Project.

Ok... The day job calls. Gotta go be productive for someone else.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eat or Enjoy Your View from the Ivory Tower. You Choose.

I've had a pretty good couple of days minus a stressful event or two. I got a chance to meet with someone from the DSM ArtFestival and discuss the mural project some more. Very exciting. Plus he was a pretty good cat so that helps. So far everyone there has been just fantastic. I'm sure at some point we'll rub foreheads a bit, but I try to be pretty easy to work with. Receptive to the ideas of others without being a total push-over. When this is done I'd like for them to say that I was pleasant and professional as well as a talented Artist. I've known too many people who've let their egos get the better of them. They become demanding or snotty or worse. In the end the talent will only get you so far. If you're an ass people will stop wanting to work with you eventually no matter how amazing your are as an artist. I figure the world has enough jackoffs with more being raised every day (yes, "raised", parents out there). Why add to an already exploding population?

Sorry, that stemmed from a conversation I had yesterday about people in the Art World who raise themselves up to be more than they are. They sit in their ivory university towers or in their offices (read as Art Critics) and proclaim this or that to be Art and everything else (art festivals, for example) to be beneath them: the "True Artists" who create for the sake of creation. That's so much bullshit and it keeps entire generations of Art students from taking part in some very rich artistic communities, and from seeing some really amazing Artwork, AND from making a living. Ever heard of a "Starving Artist"? Of course you have. The great names we studied in Art History were, for the most part, working people trying to make a living by doing commissioned work, art contests, salons (festivals), etc.

When you go to school for something the ultimate outcome should be to be able to make a living doing that thing in my humble opinion. We rarely discussed it when I went to University. As a result I had no idea what to do with my degree outside of... create Art. Seems a little pointless when you look at it through the eyes of someone who's paying a mortgage and raising a family. I spent a LOT of time trying to figure out how to make it work on my own. LOTS of trial and error. Still is. Somewhere along the line the teaching of a vocation turned into the teaching of a romanticized lifestyle. Again, so much bullshit. That being said I LOVED my teachers. Wanted to make sure that was clear.

(steps down from soapbox...)

So here I am trying to find my way in the burgeoning DesMoines Art community and hopfully branch into others. Thankfully I've made some great connections here and have been given some amazing opportunities, but ultimately you get what you get. It's what you do with it that makes all the difference.

Speaking of which I really need to finish this latest NYC piece. I'm hoping it will go on display in the next week along with a couple of others. Here's the latest update. More work to do on the big sign over the people walking and I've made the angle on the sidewalk too severe. Gotta fix that. I'm afraid all of those nice people are going to slide into the busy street.



Monday, February 9, 2009

NYC Rain Update

This morning's a little hectic as was last night. Suffice it to say that it was a good weekend. Lots of painting Friday, an afternoon/evening of taking pics Saturday. Plus I had the pleasure of attending a reception for a good friend, Michelle Holley at SMASH. Very cool Art. Very cool clothes. A good time was had by all. Follow that up with a great night out on the town. Food, drinks, darts, good company. Loads of fun. Sunday was a day for cleaning, cooking, and designing. Add to that I sold a painting to a friend. It's always nice to know when one of your babies is going to a good home.

Not much philosophizing today... I made some pretty big adjustments to the latest painting. I'm trying to unify the sky and sidewalk while keeping a loose feeling in the brushwork. Hoping to get back to it tonight. We'll see if the Universe goes along with me.

(...insert 12hr break here...)

I did get a nice surprise today. I received a call that one of my pieces had been accepted into the City of Des Moines Hi Performance Report. Every year they hold a contest and the winners are represented in the printed report. I was hoping for the cover, but got one of the interior sections. I will never complain about getting free publicity... or prize money. Looks like I can finally get a new MP3 player. My iPod's battery is kaput.



Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Quick Note Before I Collapse

It's been a long, but productive day. Didn't sleep much last night. Probably about an hour all told. It was a day of dead car batteries, sick children, and tax preparation. Throw in a bit of cleaning for good measure. I tried to paint, but lack of sleep is getting the better of me. I'm having some issues focusing so I'm about to hang it up for the night. I do have a couple of images from last night's round in the studio. So I'll post them and call it good.
Here they are. I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on this by the end of next week. That should get it done in time to put it on display at a place here in tttdt....

(at this point I started spacing out and typing rows of letters. My body had finally given out and my mind was seriously considering the beneficial aspects of a coma. Taking this as a sign that perhaps I'd pushed myself too far and needed some rest... I went to bed.)

So to pick up where I left off last night I'll post my image updates and make some comments on the concept of No-Mind. I think there can be benefits to working in a state of exhaustion. They were NOT apparent last night and I think I was right to give up the ghost when I did. Some of my best work, however, has been created while in a state of total exhaustion. When you do something long enough you develop "muscle memory". I experienced what I later learned was a state called No Mind during my study of Neko Ryu, dance, and when I was a new father with a cholic-y baby who never slept. We find or put ourselves into situations where we're pushing ourselves to the point of collapse. The mind disengages to a point, but the body continues to repeat the actions we've learned and practiced over and over again. This is a very common state that any distance runner can tell you about. Like a "runner's high" it can be a pretty eurphoric place.

I've been painting for a long time now (nearly 18yrs!) so the physical act of painting has been so ingrained that the body paints more or less on its own. Once I know what it is that I want to do with an image the act of putting it on the canvas becomes, to a point, more physical than mental. I'm still extremely focused, but it seems to me that my mind is engaged on another level. Like an outside observer. When you hit that state you take away the potential of over-analyzing your actions and paint instinctively. The results can be startlingly good. But as with anything else your mileage may vary.

It's supposed to be warm here in Iowa so I'm looking forward to getting out and getting some more photos.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NYC Rain Update and the Sowers of Strife

I've had a chance to make a little more progress on my latest NYC painting. I'm approaching this with a fair bit of ecstatic energy. I'm using big brushes. I'm attacking the canvas. I'm working up a sweat. I love it. I mentioned in my last post that I'm determined to loosen up and stop nitpicking my paintings to death. They start out with so much energy, but I feel like they get bogged down. It's all part of the process of learning so I'm good with it. I want to spend my time in the studio not trying to churn out masterpieces (which, in my opinion, happen on their own), but working on myself as a Painter and Artist. The Artist paints him/herself ultimately. One way or another our work reflects who we are, what we're doing, where we're at. I think most things we do are opportunities for personal development.
Which leads me to something else... The other side of that coin: The Sowers of Strife. Those of us who spend our time trying to better ourselves, trying to help others, trying to raise families, or whatever have got to be baffled by people who spend their days trying to foul up the lives of others for their own gain. Dante maintained that the 8th circle of Hell was reserved for these jackholes. I personally don't think that's deep enough. These are the people that scam retirees out of their pensions and candy right out of the mouths of children. In the last year I've been targeted by a number of scammers. Email scams are the order of the day. So far I've yet to be taken, but I know those who have been. I have the benefit of having been an administrator for a corporate email system for a few years. You see all kinds of great stuff. I'll admit they're getting better, but since New Years I've been solicited no less than five times to help some poor, hapless soul get out of being "stranded" in a foreign country. Last January it was a bogus painting purchase offer that involved me paying for "shipping" costs up front, but only AFTER the receipt of a "completely varifiable" cashier's check. Point being the age of internet commerce has been a great boon for artists. We can get our work in front of an amazingly wide audience. It increases the potential for sales, shows, you name it. The other side is that it increases exposure to these pathetic wastes of oxygen. Keep sharp and always check your sources. The ubiquitous nature of the internet makes anonymity a forgone conclusion for those you are dealing with. Don't let that keep you from engaging in e-commerce. It's a great way to do business. I, myself have an Etsy store and have made some great sales through there, email, and Facebook, but you never really know who's on the other end of the line. When in doubt use your tools. Check your sources. I always confer with www.ArtScams.com if I'm sceptical about an email or offer. I'd suggest you do the same.
Best of luck, and... Let's be careful out there.