Nov 26, 2015

Words Artists Don't Want to Hear!!

Financial Records
Data Entry
File Management 
System Back up. 

Not exciting stuff!!!
 New paint, art books,  art show.  Much better!!

I was recently involved in planning an Art Business Conference.  One of the sessions was on "Managing Your Files for Your Art Business".  It was cancelled, not enough interest. 

You are an artist. You sell your work. You are a small business.  Let's take a look at your computer. What's on it, files for all your paintings. Yes, and you are probably going to say that you make a copy once and awhile on a flash drive or CD. 

Wait a minute, what else is there?.
Christmas Treats for Mr. Jay - This picture file would be lost
if there is no backup and my computer dies. 

Your sales record, your financial trail, and tax information.  What about your email trails for special events, shows, commissions.  Your contact info for collectors and future clients.  Templates for advertisement, course outlines for workshops and demos, images for publicity.  Oh, and now videos, slideshows, and more. 

Scary isn't it, how your computers has become the backbone of your business.  Not too long ago you would have paper copies of most of this information but now it is all on your hard drive.  

Is this information backed up?  Is a flash drive or CD really the safest thing to do?  Flash drives are small, easy to lose and if not handled correctly are notorious for failing.  CD can get scratched, need I say more.

For Backup think - 3, 2, 1!
Three copies of your data, on two different media and one off site!  This is considered the industry standard.

Don't panic.

It doesn't need to happen overnight but this is the direction you want to head.  Learn about external hard drives (they have amazing space for very reasonable prices), off site storage (the cloud is one possibility) and setting up file storage programs (many programs and devices have built in software to regularly do full and incremental backups, you don't have to rely on your memory).   No, this isn't rocket science, the computer world is ready for us non-techies and this is totally doable.  (Well  after a bit of research and the usual computer learning curve that sends me to the wall!!)

 The words Artists really don't want to hear are - your computer is toast and your files are lost!!

Google Backup Strategy 3-2-1 and start your research today.

February is Marketing Month for Artists and coming up fast. My Marketing Workshop Shop dates are set.  See Workshops/Private Classes for all the info.

Special Note: 
Did you notice the Change on my site? As we head into winter, gray and black seems to be the overriding colour in our clothes and the weather.  I thought I would try removing a bit of black from my world and give something new a try.  What do you think of the colour change??

Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)

Have a great artful day, Wendy

Nov 12, 2015

Answering the Call of Nature - The Business of Art


WOW!! There is excitement in the air.  You have just completed your most awesome picture ever!  Everything worked.  You know it has taken your work to a new level.

Those feelings don't happen every day in the studio but they do happen.

You decide to enter that picture into a juried show.  You send off your picture, wait, and wait.  It gets declined.  Your devastated.  Your sense of your work is shattered.

Stop right there!

Looking Back - Watercolour - Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show
Take a look at the file you sent.  Was it the right file size requested?  If the file was too big it may not have loaded properly into their software.  If the file was too small when they projected it for jurying it would have been fuzzy.  Not the best way to see your work.

Was the file named properly?  A picture file called "IMG_0150.JPG" can not be easily matched to your paperwork.  And will get lost in the system.  Most entries ask for a specific naming sequence but they don't a good standard is to name the file with: your name; image name;size;medium; price.

Now look at the image itself.  Is it a good representation of your work?  No glares, shadows, fingers, or frames showing.
These may sound like trifling things but I was involved in an International Watercolour Competition last year that received over 8000 entries.  40% did not make it past the first level of jurying because of these issues.  I was shocked when I saw those numbers.  (I was also relieved that my work made it to Level 2. No, I didn't make it to the top but my work was in there representing me.)

Your Art is your business and good images are your way of getting your work out there. Whether it is for competition, juried shows or publicity. Making some changes in handling your image files may be in order.

A Friend in Black - Watercolor - Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show
Naming files and adjusting file sizes does require software.  Photoshop, Photo Elements and Lightroom are good programs that will allow for setting different file sizes and resolutions and saving in a variety of formats.  They are also good programs for cropping out frames, fingers and fiddly things that sneak into the background.  But no program can deal with the glare and shadows of a poor photograph.  That requires a good camera shotwith good lighting.  
Hmm. .  Interesting - Watercolor-  Part of Urban Explorers Series in a Juried Show

No, you don't need to go and spend a fortune on camera and lighting equipment but learning more about lighting does help.  The salesman at your local camera shop is a good resource.  I spend a few hours talking with the fellow at the Kerrisdale Camera Store near us.(no, not all at once, I had to go back several times with questions) He really helped me understand what I was doing with my camera. The result was a mini photo booth in my studio.
Attending a few photography classes helps, and if you have a friend that is a good photographer take him out for dinner.  He can be an awesome resource.

Review your files, make those changes and get into juried events.

My cats are part of my Urban Explorers Series, they will be part of the Ensemble 2015, a digital juried show.  Show Opens Nov 21 and runs to Dec. 19, 2015.  The ACT Art Gallery, 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC.  Reception Saturday, Nov. 21 3:30-5pm,  Gallery open Tues-Sat. 11-4pm.

Your Art Business is an important part of you as an Artist. February is Marketing Month for Artists and I have two all day workshops set up: Sunday,February 21 & Sunday, February 28, 2016. Spend a day learning more about Marketing your art and developing your Market Plan for 2016.  (I do have room for out-of-towners).  Registration and more Information:  - Workshops
See more Marketing Tips on my Points to Ponder Page on this blog.

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day,

Nov 5, 2015

The Power of Suggestion & Fuzzy Pencils - Drawing Tips


I like to hike.  Not the marathon 4 day type, the one-dayer's: a few hours or all day.  It is an awesome experience to walk through our coastal forests or head up into the mountains.  Some of my favorite hikes are around the lakes nestled in the Coastal Mountains just northeast of Vancouver in the Harrison Lake Valley.  The lush green forests are draped with moss (yes, they do get LOTS of rain there) and the ground cover is varied and plentiful. The trail is soft and springy with its many layers of twigs, leaves, fir needles, and dead or dying ferns fronds.

That is the problem. 

VICTOR - 16 x 20 - Graphite & Coloured Pencil, Commission
You want to draw a forest scene.  You want to put a bird, animal or person in the scene.  They are the focus and you know they need the detail.  No problem there.  But they need a setting that is believable.  Before you know it, you are drawing every twig and needle on the trail, both foreground and background.  Not good.  Your composition strategy has gone out the window.  The principles of eye movement, focal point, and hard and soft edges seem to be lost and your pencil just doesn't seem to be listening.

Victor was my challenge.  A beautiful dog and joy to draw.  "We would like a background, the owners said.  A forest setting, trees, ferns that kind of thing
Okay. . .
I searched through my reference pictures and found some great ferns on a grassy knoll and with the magic of Photoshop, plopped Victor in the middle.  Great, we love it was the response.
I set to work.

The foreground was the problem.  That wonderful lush ground cover threatened to sabotage Victor.  The detail screamed to be heard but I didn’t want it.  I needed a plan.

My plan.
First a light value of graphite over the whole area. This is like the painters that block in an area to get rid of the white surface. Because I was putting coloured pencil on top I kept it light.  
Few key details laid out - large leaf and clumps of grass
Then I sketched in a few large detailed shapes: leaves and sprigs of grass. Now it was time to study patterns.  Yes, there are patterns in the groundcover. It is found in the lights and darks and their flow.  Using that fuzzy pencil again, 4B this time, I stroked clumps of lines, varying the value, the direction and the length.
Working the pattern of the ground vary the strokes in value and length

Working the pattern and changing the direction
As I did so I could see random shapes appear that could be bits and pieces of twigs, leaves, grass and mossy.  Some of these I darken and others I left.  The detailed leaves and clumps of grass surrounded by partially created shapes makes the forest bed take shape.  That is the Power of Suggestion.

Adding definition to the suggested shapes.
Working across my drawing you can see how this worked.  When I added my colour I continued this process: fuzzy pencils and stroking varying the value, the direction and length. It made my colours nicely blended.  
Close up of the ground cover with the colour added. 
Next time you need a busy foreground/background, use your fuzzy pencil and "suggest" away!

Not too late to order that pet portrait for Christmas.  They are an awesome way to celebrate a cherished pet and treasured gift for that pet lover in your family.  Give me a call and we can get started.  Gift Certificates are available as well.

 Be sure to like and share my posts. You won't miss a single one if you follow by email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar)
Have a great artful day, Wendy