30 December 2006
I'd show you all what I was working on but I'm too lazy to scan the new paintings in. I've got 4 new paintings done, so that's a lot of scanning, tweaking, and uploading. I need to work on my web site tomorrow so I'll do them then.
Also, tomorrow is the last day to enter another contest sponsored by another eBay group. I think just about every group has some kind of contest. Usually the winner is the one with the highest number of bidders. This contest is by the Professional Animal Artists On line (PAAO). Since I can start the bidding at any amount, I don't have to worry about a nice piece going for $3 (like my Nibblefest one did this month). Also, since critters are one of my main areas, this contest fits in nicely and gets me out of my cat/horse rut. The theme was animals which begin with "T", so I did a turnstone (shore bird) and am working on a trout.
Okay, the real reason I'm doing this contest is to get my fellow artists to notice my work so that next year, I get nominated for the Artist Choice Awards. See, I know those awards are meaningless -- an unmitigated popularity contest. Unfortunately, the general public doesn't seem to know this and people that winner have better sales. So, one project for this year is to "be nice" in this animal group and hopefully I'll get a nomination for next year. I may have to join another animal group just to be sure. It's not something I enjoy doing, but this how the eBay game is played.
Maybe I should make my own group and hand out my own awards???
26 December 2006
I'm finally getting back into the swing of things, after hubby has left. While there was a holiday, I just kept plugging away, trying to get some portraits done. And getting new things for eBay. And beginning some new major projects. Besides, like I said last time, I'll celebrate Christmas when hubby gets home. Hopefully, I'll have his present finished by then!
One of the new projects I'm starting on is returning to sculpture. While I do enjoy most portraits and I have fun doing the little paintings for eBay, neither is artistically satisfying. They are great in terms of building skills, but not in terms of creating deep, meaningful work for different reasons.
The problem with the portraits is that I do them from photos that I don't take. If I was in charge of taking the photo and could do some non-traditional poses and I had total freedom on how the portrait was done,... well, I'd be getting $800 for a pencil portrait and not $80! As it is, I basically draw the photo. I hate to say this, but it's almost mechanical.
Then there's eBay. Since I'm getting a minimum return on eBay for my efforts, I can't really spend 3 or 4 days working on one piece. Don't get me wrong, eBay has been a blessing and I'm still planning on listing stuff almost daily, but it has limitations. And one limitation is that people want bargains and will not pay a fair price for most artwork. (This problem was created in part by the artists themselves.) So, if I do a wonderful piece that took me 4 days to do, I really can't list it at $250 and expect it to sell immediately. Maybe it will in a few months, or maybe it won't. With a few exceptions, most art sells for $20-60. Until I become one of those exceptions, I can't afford to spend days on one piece and get only $50 for it.
So, I'm going to keep doing the portraits and eBay, but I'm also going to work on some wood sculpture. Besides the fact that I enjoy carving, I settled on the sculpture because it's something that is not commonly seen either in galleries or in art shows. Painters are a dime a dozen, but wood sculptors are exceedingly rare, so my work should stand out and I should have it a bit easier getting into shows and galleries.
The only problem with my plan is that my garage is cold! I plan to do most of the carving out there, because of the dust, but it's unheated and I'm a weather wimp! So, until the weather warms up, I making sketches and planning pieces. I'm still not sure whether to do realistic or abstract pieces as I like both -- or even if I have to choose.
This means that I'll have even less time to do "other" stuff. Okay, it really means that I need to stop playing solitaire on this computer and stop lingering over my coffee in the morning. What I need is a personal assistant. Any volunteers?
21 December 2006
Let's see. I did finish up the 4 portraits that I needed to get done by Christmas. Everyone was very pleased with them and I'm kind of anxious to hear about the recipents' reactions. Here's a scan of the fourth one, which I think is the only one I haven't posted.
I'm rather pleased with all four portraits. And I'm especially pleased that I got them done with time to spare!
As for the fifth portrait that I thought I was going to do, well, it never did materialize. I was joking with my husband that the photo would appear on my doorstep on the 15th only to have the mailman leave a large flat envelop on my door. It turned out to be junk mail!
Speaking of hubby, he was home for over a week. He actually just left yesterday. As I had said, his side window in his truck had been shot out. Also, on the way home, his windshield was hit by a rock and a crack began to run across it. So, we had to replace his front windshield. Then we had the side one replaced, but first we had to wait for the tempered smoked glass to appear. Then we had to wait for the glue to cure -- this took twice as long as normal since we've been having highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s.
But we had a good time when he was home. The highlight was that we cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner! I know the rest of the country is working on Christmas, but we are a bit behind on the holidays. He'll be home in early January and then we'll have Christmas!
Needless to say, I haven't had much time (with hubby home) to do art and I'm anxious to get back to work. Today was the first day back and I made some progress. I worked on two oil portraits in the morning. And this afternoon, I did this bird painting:
I was thinking about listing it today, but I decided that Christmas weekend isn't the best of time. So, I'll probably just list it on Sunday or Monday. There's no point in "wasting" a good painting and having no real chance of a bidding war!
In the middle of all this I started restocking my eBay store. I'd like to have about 50 items in there at all times. I still haven't figured out what to do with pieces that have been in there for a number of months with little interest. I hate to take things out because the search engines have found most of the items in my store and I have no real alternative venues for these items.
Well, I suppose I should go and get to work on my supper. I'm still working on leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast (Tofurky roast), but I need to make another salad.
05 December 2006
I'm working on another composite portrait -- 3 photos into one glorious portrait. It's really not easy to get the three heads roughly the right sizes. I've drawn and redrawn them several times and I think I finally have it. So, I'm letting it sit over night and hopefully it'll be fine tomorrow morning.
Once I got too frustrated to work on it, I switched over to another portrait. Another trio but this is from one photo. That is just so much easier!
And speaking of trios, here's the other one I got done the other day.
I still haven't heard back from the client on this one. She and I have a communication problem -- her computer doesn't like my emails with photos, so I'm posting this here and then will call her. (Hmm, hope it's not too late -- I forget what time zone she's in!)
04 December 2006
It all started when hubby had a window shot out of his truck while driving thru Alabama. Other than having to try to get it replaced for less than $800, I thought it was more of an annoyance than anything major. (Okay, he'd be cold and if it rained, his bed would get wet, but nothing life-threatening.) Wrong! On Saturday, he calls up somewhat panicked because he can hardly breath and he had a hard time climbing in and out of his truck. Now, hubby had smoked for years and then quit. We know he's got some lung damage as he can't walk terribly quickly for long stretches. But this sudden development wasn't good as he really couldn't continue driving the truck and maybe not even living. And being the selfish person that I am, I figured my comfortable life was over as there's no way I can make $2400/month from my art as it now stands. I'd have to bite the bullet, quit the art, and go get a teaching certificate in math. I was depressed and upset. Then it dawned on me since he was also complaining of a headache and slight fever -- carbon monoxide poisoning! I finally got him to thoroughly tarp and tape the opening. The next morning, he was fine.
Needless to say this how episode really shook me up. The bottom line is that I'm going to continue with the art for the foreseeable future, but I'm also going to explore freelance illustration and I'm going to work on the math teaching certificate (including doing some substitute teaching). I now know how much I want to do this and I will do it to my fullest ability. I have some ideas on what to do, but first I do need to get all these portraits done.
To that end, here are 2 of the latest:
This is Hayley. I've done her brother and her dog, plus I'm working on another of the family's dogs right now. It was a fun portrait to do, but I do admit that blonde hair and fair complexion is a real challenge -- the details are so delicate.
This is Larry and Ericka. I really enjoyed working on this portrait as the contrasts between the dark skin and clothes and the light skin and clothes was a challenge to balance. This is also a composite portrait -- I created it from two separate photos of the two youngsters. The trick with combining two photos is to adjust the lighting and getting the faces the right sizes. Just for the record, both are adults now and this is Larry's Christmas present.
I also have another portrait done, but I'm waiting for the client to approve of it before I post it here. So, there's only 2 more pencil portraits to finish by 15 Dec. With some luck, they will be done by the end of the week. Then I can finish up 2 oils and 2 soft pastels, and start on another two oils. Maybe I'll get these done by 1 Jan, which is what I'm shooting for. In any case, after the two pencil portraits are done, I can go back to splitting my time between portraits and stuff for eBay.
So much to do!
30 November 2006
And yes, I said 4. I thought it would be 5, but no photo, no check, no commission. As I told you, last Friday I received a phone call from a lady wanting me to do a portrait for Christmas. We talked about it and I agreed to do it. I told her that she needed to send me the photo (and a check) by Priority Mail so that I could get started on it right away. That was on Friday and she said she'd send it on Saturday. So, it should have arrived on Tuesday. But now it's Thursday and still no photo. I guess I'm not terribly surprised as she had called me before to arrange for a portrait only to never send anything that time either. Part of me is kind of annoyed, because I could use the money, but another part of me is a bit relieved since I will have less work to get done by 15 Dec.
As for the other 4, I'm working on 2. I do one in the morning for upto 3 hours and another in the afternoon for upto 3 hours. These 3 hour periods is about my concentration limit on a single piece. Beyond that and I start getting sloppy. So I work on one, eat lunch, and then start fresh on a different portrait. For me, it works well. (Other artists will work on one portrait until it's done -- even if that's 8+ hours in a row.) If I hadn't had to go into town and buy groceries, I would have finished both of them. As it is, I'll get them done tomorrow and then put them away for a couple of days before doing the final touch-ups. In the meantime, I'll start on the next two.
I've basically decided that I need to finish ALL the commissions (except one) by 31 Dec and then after that, I will do portraits as soon as I get them. I'm tired of having so many laying around, although most clients are happy to wait especially after they see the finished product. (I'm slow, but I'm good!) Still, they act like a weight around my neck and cause me stress just knowing they are yet to be done. I may even start having a "by this date or 25% off" policy, just to get me to do them sooner than later.
Now all this makes it sound like I don't like doing portraits. And that's not quite right. I love them and I have them. The love part has to do with the facts I know I can do them well, I get paid a decent amount for them, and I don't have to 'guess' what the public will buy. The hate part is the "I don't want someone else telling me what to do" and with repeet customers, I have a fear of not living up to past expectations. I've been working hard on getting over these negatives, and I'm making good progress.
Still, I'm very anxious to get back to doing work which is totally my own. I have lots of ideas for still lifes, wildlife art, and even some abstracts. And I want to do some more relief prints -- but no one has ever asked for a relief print of their Uncle Bob!
27 November 2006
One of the things I like about holidays is the chance to cook. Most of the time, I take just enough time to throw something together, whether it's a salad or pasta. Basically, it's a main dish and a vegie. But when the holidays come, I enjoy the cooking part. I know many people dislike the cooking for the holidays, but to me it's a chance to try new recipes and revisit old favorites. So I spent most of Thanksgiving day cooking and created a very nice 4 course meal for myself. Perhaps the best part of the meal was the spiced quince and cranberry compote. Yummy!
Another thing I like about holidays is that I can't do anything (like run errands in town), so I get to work. I'm a coward when it comes to holiday store sales, large crowds, and crammed parking lots. I'd much rather stay home, order from a catalog (or make my gifts), and watch the mess on TV. So, while everyone else was out getting all these bargains, I was working on finishing up some portraits. I finished one, and almost finished the other 2. It was real nice just to work without interruptions or worrying about running to the post office or....
That reminds me -- it was a good thing I was home on Black Friday. I received a call from a lady who wanted me to do a portrait of her parents. Yep, another one for Christmas, but of the 5 I need to do, this one will be the easiest to do. So, Black Friday actually turned out to be profitable even for me!
So, that was my holiday weekend. And now it's Monday, and I feel like I'm back to the chaos. My email stopped working over the weekend. I 'lost' the task bar this morning. I had to run into town for cat food. And my reading light -- with it's special bulb -- burned out last night so now I need a new bulb. Other that all this, I finished emailing the alpaca people, I started on two of the Xmas portraits, and I'm now back to simple, quick meals.
Hey, if you want to feel sorry about me over the holidays, save some for my normal chaotic life!!!
22 November 2006
First the annoying news. I'm trying to get started on 2 portraits for a lady this Christmas and despite having sent her 3 emails, she has yet to receive one. So, I tried calling her, and got only clicking -- no rings, no busy signal. It's like the Universe is stepping and preventing me from communicating with her. The only way I can 'talk' to her is via eBay. While I'm not quite ready to start on the final drawing, I'm hoping we can get this straightened out soon.
Now the bad news. I had a wonderful idea for the Nibblefest Contest, but I just didn't get to it today. Since all the auctions must end on the 27th, I'd now have to list it for 3-days which would probably be a waste of time and materials. While I have delusions of people being stunned by my work and mad bidding wars ensuing, reality is more like I'd get 1 or 2 bids and it would end at $5. So, I'll skip this month. I'll still do the drawing I had in mind, but it won't be listed at $0.99!
Usually, these two things would upset me, but I'm not. I had a wonderful day. I played with my 2 tame parrots. I read for an hour with 2 cats sleeping on me. I almost finished a pencil portrait. And I picked out several quince and persimmon recipes for tomorrow. It's really interesting how much I enjoy these small 'boring' things. Someone once said I lived a boring life because I just stayed home and worked on my art. Then again, someone else accused me of being a drama queen -- then why do I so enjoy things like reading with 2 cats sleeping on me?
And tomorrow is looking pretty good too. Yep it's a holiday and nope hubby won't be home, but I'm still going to enjoy it. I get to work on art, play with my zoo, and eat lemon glazed persimmon bars. Pretty nice life to me!
20 November 2006
What I really would like to do is take a day off and just relax. But I don't dare. I need to finish those 3 portraits so I can work on the Xmas portraits and I need to finish emailing the alpaca owners. And sometime this week, I need to work on more knitting -- at least this bunch isn't a "I really need this now" order. It does feel good to be catching up.
Actually, I'd settle for a good night's sleep. The problem is Sammy and his cone. Since I put the cone on him, I don't dare let him sleep with the 2 boys in the spare bathroom because they pester him and want to eat the cloth strip I'm using to hold it on. So, I let him sleep with Emily and me. That's not bad because Sammy wants to snuggle to me. But with that cone, he keeps bumping into me. And then he decides that 3am is perfect time for a snack, so he tries to wake me up in the hope that I will feed him. He either paws at me or sits on my hair or licks my nose -- anything to wake me up. Now I have tried to lock him out of the bedroom -- Emily likes that idea -- but then he sits out in the hall and meows, jiggles the door with his paws, and bangs around with the cone. This just doesn't work for me. Thankfully, the sore is healing nicely and maybe by next weekend I'll be able to de-cone him and let him sleep with the "Boys".
One other annoying thing is that today is the beginning of the November Nibblefest Art Contest. The theme is "purple" and I have a good idea for it. I just don't have it done. If I can work on it some tomorrow and finish it on Wednesday, I can list it for 5 days at least. I would have prefered to list it for 7 days but 5 is better than nothing. My concern right now is what size to do it. I'd like to do it 11x14 but I'm back to being afraid it will sell for $5!
Well, I suppose I should go eat so I can do some knitting and still get to bed early tonight. I'd like to get the pencil portrait and the purple painting done tomorrow, so I need to be awake early and get working.
16 November 2006
I would have had a good morning too, but I had to run to the vet. Some time ago, my cat Sammy had surgery to remove a wart and to sew up a hole he'd rubbed into his cheek while trying to get the wart off himself. The surgery went fine and so did his recovery. The stitches came out and then the problems started. He started to rub it. The vet suggested a couple of creams to put on it to get him to stop rubbing it. Didn't help. He kept working on and opened the sore up again. So, I sewed up a soft muzzle with padding where the sore was. It worked one night. By the second night, he had messed with it so much that he got the scab off underneath the muzzle. Talked to the not-so-helpful vet tech and she suggested making a collar/cone for him. Over the last few days I tried paper, cardboard, and an over-stuffed sock. Nothing helped. So, today I broke down and went to the vet and got a genuine plastic kitty collar.
And now Sammy hates me. At first he ran madly around the house, but now that plastic cone weighs so much he can't hardly move! He's sitting under a bird cage looking totally pathetic! The only time he perked up was when I got out the kitty treats. I'm hoping he will get used to it shortly and that it will actually prevent him from re-opening the sore. (It's now scabbed over slightly, so fingers crossed.) In the meantime, I have to check him every now and then because he has gotten stuck a couple of times!
So that was the morning. This afternoon I worked on 3 different portraits and made some progress on each. All three are coming out well and should be done -- except for drying -- by the end of next week.
And then I had to watch Dr. Phil with my new bird. Cory (the new bird's name) seems to want attention in the morning and in the late afternoon. I suspect that was before work and when his owner came home from work. So, we watch Dr. Phil. Actually, I watch the show and he explores. He has more fun crawling around on and under my shirt than any parrot I've ever had. He also said "hello" this afternoon -- about 20 times in a row. I just can't get over how tame and trusting he is. Getting this bird may have cost me a commission (something about not being responsible and wasting my time while I have other things to do, so give me my money back), but I'm so glad I got him.
Tonight, it's knitting time. I'm suppose to have 3 small scarves, 2 shawls, and 2 hats done by Monday. It'll be close and I might not make the second hat. Non-knitters don't understand that hats, especially with fine yarn, take a long time to knit or crochet. Take for example the wig hat I just finished. I probably took me 6 hours to do. Part of the problem with it was working with double pointed needles -- 5 needles around a 3" diameter circle is NOT fun! It was fun to do one of, but I don't think I'll be knitting these for everyone on my Christmas list! Anyway, here's a photo of the moi in the wig hat!
And just for the record, it's really tricky to take a photo of yourself from the side with a camera photo!!!
14 November 2006
But one thing's done. I finished the knitted hat for someone. I'll take pictures of it tomorrow and talk more about it, but it's weird!!!
I still have a long list of things to do, but I did make some progress on several items today, so I feel better. I know I shouldn't let commissions pile up and once I'm done with all of them, I will do them as soon as I get them. It just always seems that something comes up and I get distracted.
Part of the problem is that for most of my artwork, I'm not getting nearly a living wage or even minimum wage. Since hubby's truck had problems a few years ago (blew an engine -- $20,000) and we built up a fair amount of credit card debt, I feel like I can't turn down any opportunity to make money. Hence, I end up doing portraits, logos, websites, knitting, and other art all at once. If I was getting even $10 per hour, then I could pick and choose to some degree. As it is, only on the portraits do I make about $10 per hour. The botanicals come in at about $5/hr, florals at $6-10/hr depending on medium, still lifes at $3-5/hr for the smoothly blended ones, and about $1-3/hr for sculptures. The last item is why I'm not doing any sculptures right now -- I can't work long enough hours to make even a tiny dent in the credit card debt.
On the other hand, I get about $25/hr for logos and websites and about $10-15 /hr for some knitting. (The hat I just finished would be about $2/hr, because it is knitted fairly tightly.) Unfortunately, there are already too many people doing websites and logos to make that the major part of my income. Also, there's my lack of interest in doing either full time.
So, I'm left piecing things together to make a living. While I would rather make my living from selling 4 or 5 paintings a year, I still would rather do 20 different things at once than get one of those "real" jobs.
13 November 2006
What can I say? Last week was a week from Hell! Here's a brief outline of what happened:
- On Sunday, I tore an abdominal muscle so sitting, standing, lying down, walking, eating, etc... are all very painful. It's better now, as long as I don't sit in one position for over an hour.
- On Monday, the local internet server stopped working, so the only way to access the internet was via long-distance. Besides auctions, I had bills to pay so I was really counting on the internet to be there. It finally got fixed on Thursday.
- On Tuesday, one of my parrots died and to say I miss him terribly is an understatement.
- On Thursday, hubby's dog got out just before sunset so we spent most of the night looking and worrying about him. (We have lots of coyotes that find small dog tasty.) On Friday, the dog came home with only minor scrapes.
- Also on Friday, I had the opportunity to adopt a new parrot but I had I drive about 3 hours to get him. By the time I got home I was physically unable to stand up straight or eat for fear of vomitting.
- On Saturday, with great reluctance, hubby headed back on the road.
In the middle of all this, I get 4 portrait commissions and an order for more knitted items (by Thanksgiving). Throw in my sadness about the death my little birdie friend, and I really feel overwhelmed. So, I sent an email out to all those waiting for a portrait, or auction winnings, or knitting, and most people understood.
I said most. One lady replied, "the drama and excuses have run thin. at this point i would accept a full refund...", so I did. I have the portrait of her cat about 1/3 done and I normally don't refund money once I've started, but I did this time. A small voice in the back of my head kept telling me that no matter what I did for her, she wouldn't be happy with the final portrait. I was on drawing #9 or so for her before she approved of the drawing. (Normally it's one or two and that's it.) At this point, with so many portraits to finish, I don't need that kind of aggrevation. So, I cut my losses and refunded the full price. I shouldn't have done that because I'm now out the cost of the canvas and the cost to develop some pictures. (She sent her photos of the cat as one of those disposable cameras and I had to pay to get it developed.) There comes a point when it's better to lose money than deal with headaches.
Needless to say, the painting a day plan is presently way out of the window. I need to get these portraits done and I will -- I might have to stay up some nights, stop taking showers, and eat tv dinners, but they will get done. There's 4 I need to do by Xmas, 2 pastels that should get done by 1 Jan, 2 oils and a pencil portrait that will be done by Thanksgiving, and one oil which will get done in early January (and I'll throw in a bonus for her). I'll be stressed, but I will get everything done. (And then I can get back to painting my stuff!)
And now, off to list something on eBay. It's a pain that I'm so busy now and this is the good time on eBay. Next year, I plan to work hard over the summer and have lots of stuff ready to sell in the winter.
03 November 2006
I need to get these portraits done ASAP. They are hanging around my neck like a huge weight. So, to get them done quickly, I'm suspending the painting a day plan until I get at least 4 of the 7 done. I'm also not going to join another interesting group which does a themed painting on Fridays until the portraits are done. I'm cutting back on listing on eBay for the next week or so. I'll still list 3 or 4 items, but not the 6-7 I have been. I need to be actively painting and producing more stuff to list daily.
This computer has crept back into my life and has taken over. Yes, I know my web site needs updating. Yes, I need to list auctions. Yes, I need to write this blog (a whole lot cheaper than therapy!). And yes, I need to work on this alpaca farm's web site. But that doesn't mean I need to check my email or auctions 4 or 5 or 6 times a day and then check this group or that web site. Starting tomorrow, I 'll check things in the morning and reply to emails and problems, and then the computer stays off until 5pm (blog/auction time). And my web site will be updated on Sunday mornings.
02 November 2006
I might as well get today's painting over:
It's Japanese iris buds in watercolor in front of two leaves done in pencil. Years ago, I did a set of 4 of these and a couple of months ago, someone bought one of them. ONE! So rather than redo the same iris, I did a slightly different iris. Unfortunately, it doesn't loof too good. While it's botanically correct, it's not terribly colorful, it should be moved up higher, and it looks funny since I'm not used to Japanese irises.
I guess I shouldn't paint while blah. Now if my auctions would do well, or someone would buy a couple things from my store, or I'd a check or two in the mail, maybe I'd feel better. If not, tomorrow when I mail a package, I'm buying some cookie fixings. Nothing like a chocolate chip cookie to chear me up!
01 November 2006
What I found terribly upsetting is the cheating. Well, I should say suspected cheating. For example, one item had a total of 9 different bidders, of which 4 had zero feedback. 3 of these bidders were also brand new to eBay and had registered on 21 Oct, 22 Oct, and 23 Oct. Could it happen that 3 newbies would fine this auction 2-3 days after they registerd? Yes, but the probability is very low. Or is it more likely that the artist, not pleased with either the price or the number of bidders, created these IDs to help their entry along?! Just in case people don't know, many artists have 2 or 3 IDs so they can sell or buy non-art things and not have the feedback show up. Not only am I upset by people cheating in general, I feel sorry for the real bidders who either paid more than they should have or lost the auction to a fictional person.
Other than this problem, my piece was the 7th highest (out of 58 entries) in terms of price. I'm pleased with the price. Also, I think I have found a tiny niche on eBay which I'll happily fill with a few more similar paintings. And my piece was seen by a lot of people, although much of the traffic was other contestants.
Overall, it was a very good experience and I plan to participate in the monthly event for some time to come. November's theme is a monochromatic painting in purple. I admit, purple isn't exactly my favorite color, but I've got an idea or two on what to do. The only question is just how much am I willing to risk, since the auction will be starting at $0.99. I'd like to do a large closeup of a purple orchid or iris in oil, but I'd be really pissed if I spent $20 on the canvas and had it go for $10! (I suppose I could jack the shipping up to $25 like a couple of people did. $25 on a small painting -- I could send it US Priority Mail for $4.05!)
Anyway, I did sort of get back into the saddle today. So, here's today's painting:
It's a cedar waxwing in watercolor on handmade paper. I'm pleased with it, eventhough I struggled with the colors. It seemed every photo I looked at had the wings and lower back a different color. For example, the wings ranged from blueto pure black to a brown/black. I finally put all the photos away and decided to paint it so that it looked good to me. Afterall, I have an artistic license! (Bad joke!)
Since I had to take a break from painting daily (due to illness, knitting, and website/logo designing) I'm running low on what to list. I don't have any wildlife up, except for a moose art card, so I guess I'll list this waxwing. I don't know what I'll due for tomorrow, but one day at a time.
30 October 2006
So, here I was, working on 7 portrait commissions, trying to do a painting a day, listing new auctions daily, and trying to blog every day. That was a full plate. But, I just about had everything under control.
Then I get an email from an alpaca farm about custom knitting. Email is followed by large package and insto-presto I'm in the knitting business. Now, I've knitted for people off and on for a few years and I have taken on small projects for non-knitters here and there. But this is a bit more serious. I do admit -- alpaca is pretty fun to work with.
But wait, there's more. Roughly at the same time, I get an email from another alpaca farm about designing a logo and building a store and website. By 1 Nov. Surprise! Now this isn't quite as bad as it sounds since I had originally done some preliminary designs back in April, so I just had to redo one. The store is just a matter of filling out things and editting. And the website doesn't have to be done by 1 Nov -- just the logo and store.
I have nothing against doing either of these two new things, but the timing is bad. There's a part of me that wishes I could just say 'no', but then I look at the checkbook and say 'yes'. While I'm doing pretty well on eBay right now, I feel like I need to take advantage of these opportunities. I'd like to take over some bill-paying from my art so we can use hubby's pay to pay down the credit cards and house, so he can retire (and make me lemonade).
So, until 1 Nov (thankfully that's only 2 days from now), I'm a knitter and logo designer. Once I get these two things done-ish, I'll go back to a painting a day and working on the portraits.
Oh, like I had promised, here's ACEO in oil which I did last week:
It's a spray of delicate pink phalenopsis flowers on a near white background. This is really a terrible scan, but I played with it for over an hour -- adjusting the brightness and contrast -- and this was the best I could get. It has another 3 weeks to dry before I can sell it, so maybe I'll be able to figure out how to get a better image.
25 October 2006
And then I went to the poll working class. Since that, it's been down hill. The class lasted almost 2.5 hours since I was the only one who had worked the polls before. (My punishment for missing the regular class and having to take a make-up one.) I tried to find double-pointed size 8 knitting needles in town and couldn't. I got home to cat puke in the hall because some cat who shall remain nameless insists on eating parrot pellets. (Cats can't digest parrot pellets, so they....well figure it out!) I tried to knit a scarf for a lady and after 2 hours of piddling with it, I gave up. Actually, someone called and talked on and on for over 1 hour.
So, I didn't do any painting yesterday. I didn't do a blog entry, which was one of the links from the newsletter. And then my cactus print didn't sell on eBay.
But wait -- that's not all!
This morning, I wake up with a sore throat and a slight fever. The sore throat has gone slightly away, but now the fever is worse, I'm achy, and I'm cold even though it's hot in here. To top it off eBay is having a 20-cent listing day, and while I would like to list some more expensive pieces (such as portrait commissions) I better not since I have several waiting for me to finish them now.
Talk about bad timing!!!
So, I basically spent the day being a cat pillow and reading. I'm hoping that if I take it easy for a day or two, I'll avoid getting real sick. I guess this means that the painting a day will be suspended for a few days. (That's going to create some problems down the road, but if I do any art, I have to work on getting these portraits done!)
23 October 2006
And my Nibblefest entry is doing pretty well. It's up to $20.50, which makes it tied for 4th in terms of money. Admittedly, I won't win the contest because all the bids were from two bidders, whereas some people have 8 or 10 bidders. But I'd rather have the money than the bidders. (It's hard to pay bills with a virtual trophy!)
Tomorrow, however, isn't looking too good. I have to go into town for election clerk training in the afternoon. While that's good since I can mail a print, it's not good since I won't be able to paint in the afternoon. The training lasts about 2 hours, so I won't get home until 3:30 or 4pm. I probably won't get a painting done tomorrow -- not unless I start it tonight. (Hmm, maybe do a quick llama in pastel on handmade paper?)
Speaking of a painting-a-day, I did finish one, but it's not dry. It's an artcard of a spray of pink phalenopsis orchids in oil. I like it. And it was fun trying to do 6 orchid flowers on artcard. Unfortunately, since it is oil, it will be a day or two before I can show it off.
Well, I think it's time to go list something on eBay and then fix a nice supper. Maybe I'll even get a chance to read a bit tonight!
22 October 2006
Anyway, he went back on the road yesterday, so I got back to work. And today, I finished up this piece:
This piece is called "Natural Bonsai". It's watercolor with some rice paper collage on the rocks and trunks. The painting was inspired by the trees that grow along the canyons on CA-18, which is the back way upto Big Bear, CA. I rather like the zen like nature of it -- fits well with the bonsai idea. And it was fun to do because it was so different than my normal paintings.
Now, for the good part. I'm entering this in the Nibblefest Art Contest. This is a contest tun by a group of eBay artists. Each month they have a new theme and people can enter one piece each month. It starts on the 20th and ends on the 27th, but I can still enter as long as I do a 5 day listing. The scary part of this is that all listings start at $0.99. Cheap to list, but I'm hoping it doesn't go for that! The winner of the contest is the person who gets the most different bidders. (And if you want to help me win, click here and bid, please.)
Realistically, I know I have very little chance of winning, because most of the people in the group are friends and tend to bid on each others' works. But I'm doing this for 3 reasons:
- Having to do different themes -- ones that I never would do on my own -- is good for my artistic muscles.
- I'm hoping that the attention their auctions get will lead a few more buyers to my auctions.
- And I'm very curious as to what will happen with a $0.99 listing.
With a bit of luck, this piece will go for a decent price and I'll win the contest!
17 October 2006
So, for the next few days, like until Friday, I'll probably not get much done. Although I did get one done today -- one which I had started yesterday. And I do need to get one done by Friday night for a group contest on eBay. (More on this on Friday.)
So without further adieu, here's today's painting:
It's a scrub jay in watercolor on handmade paper. I know I'm doing quite a number of these, but they are quick to do and then sell (not like oils having to dry for a month) and they sell well (the meadowlark went for a nice price last night). Anyway, it came out pretty well. The wrinkles will be removed once I flatten it. And it looks more purple-blue in the photo than in real life. But these two things will be fixed before I auction it.
And now, back to hubby...
15 October 2006
So, what did I do all day? I spent it on this computer, looking at art auction sites, posting questions to groups, reading archives, etc. Basically, I spent it all doing the business of art online. Not very relaxing!
And I'm not thrilled about tomorrow. Yesterday, my cell phone decided it wouldn't charge. It works fine, but my battery is low and it tells me the battery is completely charged every time I plug it in to charge. It could be the charger. It could be a software problem. Or it could be some stupid chip in the phone. The only way to figure it out is to take it to the Verizon store in Palm Desert (50 miles away). Since I also need my oil changed, I'll go down early, get the oil changed, get the phone fixed (fingers crossed), and then get back to a meeting with the lady who makes my paper at 1 pm. I just have a feeling that I won't come home from all that and do a painting.
I really should start something tonight -- something that I can finish tomorrow. I've been having pretty good luck with selling on eBay and I really need to create more inventory that I can sell. But quite honestly, I'm tired from looking at this screen, so I'm calling it a night and making myself a nice meal.
13 October 2006
Just kidding. Although it was another day of doing stuff on the computer that resulted in very little to show for except a headache. I would rather spend most of my day doing art or reading or gardening, but I have decided to try to figure out how to get more and larger sales on eBay. This meant a lot of reading in various groups. Then looking at my store and listings to see if the suggestions would work for me.
I still haven't figured it out -- and I'm not at all sure it's possible to figure out -- but I have a plan. I'm going to try to list something on auction everyday. I'll try to keep a botanical watercolor, a wildlife piece, and a still life up at all time. Other than these 3 pieces, the rest of the listings will be whatever I want to list -- some old and some new. Then on Thursdays, I'll be adding to my eBay store until I have about 35 pieces in there. Once I reach that number, I'll remove those pieces which get few visits and add unsold auction items, assuming there are some.
The one piece of the puzzle is what to do with the low-visited items after I remove them from the store. Do I try to sell them on auction? Do I put them on another art sales site? Do I just throw them in a storage box for a year or two? The crazy thing is I have sold several pieces, both at shows and on eBay, which I never thought would sell and got very few looks on auctions. Suddenly the right person comes along and buys them. But I'm not thrilled with paying to have them in my store with the hope that someone will buy them before I've paid more in listing fees than I get for the items.
No wonder I have a headache!
Anyway, I did get some art done today.
This is another art card in oil of a fall still life. I had started out to paint the pumpkin and the Indian corn, but them I added the shelf. Then the leaf. Then the window and the landscape. It kind of all just kept growing in complexity until I got something I liked. And I do like this one. (For what it's worth, the picture looks a bit duller than the original -- the corn is fairly bright.) So, in another month when this is dry enough to varnish, I can put it up on auction.
Note: Since I will only sell varnished pieces and it takes a month for oils (with driers added) to dry, this creates yet another headache for selling on eBay. In the meantime, if someone would like to make me an offer on either card, well, I'll consider it.
And here's the oil art card I did yesterday:
I'm still debating whether I like it or not. I'm so used to having very carefully blended paint that the chunkier painting style looks a bit sloppy to me. On the other hand, it was a lot faster, so....
I really am getting tired of painting these minatures, so maybe tomorrow I'll try a larger oil painting. The reasons I was doing these art cards were (a) there used to be a big market for them, (b) they were something new to me, and (c) if I ruined one, I wasn't out much in terms of materials. Now, however, there's less of a market for them, I'm getting tired of them, and I feel much more confident working in oils, so maybe it's time for me to try something larger? Maybe 6x8"?!
12 October 2006
It seems like all I have done today is play on this computer, even though I did get a small painting done. (More on that later.) I decided that since eBay sends out an email "New from Your Favorite Sellers" on Thursday night/Friday morning, I should put a few new items in my eBay store. And since my two botanical watercolors on auction have been getting a number of views, I put a couple of orchids in the store.
Then I made a few revisions to some of the store items, because I'm trying a more 'personal' touch to my listings. Someone in a groups said that people buy from an artist because of a personal relationship, either actual or preceived. Collectors like to feel like they know something personal about the artist. So I'm slowly changing listings to "my" and "I" rather than "the artist's" or "the artist". I had used the third person because another group said it gave the artist more of a professional look. But lately, a couple of buyers have emailed me and I got the impression that they appreciated the personal touches.
Then I had to list something new on auction today. I listed a small oil of a ladyslipper, similar to the one I did a week or so ago.
I personally I'm not thrilled with it, but hubby likes it as does several other people. So I'm listing it. (Click here to bid on this painting!) Some people say never to sell anything you are not pleased with. Others say sell things even if you're not 100% thrilled with them. Yes, this is another case of two opposing opinions. (Seems art is full of contradicting opinions.)
Oh, yes, I did do a painting today. It's an art card of a purple iris. But it's done in oils and isn't dry, so I can't scan it. I tried using my camera phone to take a photo of it, but that didn't work. The purple came out blue, no matter what I did. So, you'll have to wait a day or two to see it.
11 October 2006
Sometimes I run into a portrait that drives me nuts. Jackie was one those. Beautiful cat, but an interesting color. Version 1, I screwed up the color. Version 2, I didn't like the pose and while correcting it, I really messed up the paper. Version 3, had a tail and I only then realised that the 4 photos of the cat showed no tail. Yep, it's a Manx. So I tried a different layout -- only the head. Version 4a was too large. Version 4b was too small. Finally, version 4c was just right! Two days of work, but I did finally get it to my liking. (And the client loves the scan, so it's worth it.)
Now that this portrait is done, that leaves only 6 more to do. (Ended up with another one today.) I really wish I didn't have all these portraits to do, so I could focus on getting things done for eBay. But I've committed to doing the portraits, so I will do them. Besides, I'm looking forward to doing several of them in oils.
Back to eBay. For the past several days, I've had a lot of people looking at the 2 botanical watercolor paintings I have up on auction. I would like to have several other botanicals in my store, but I either have to unframe a few or I have to do new ones. As I hate unframing pieces, that leaves doing new pieces. I actually have an iris drawn out, so it's only a matter of painting it. I wonder if I can do it in one day? I think I'll find out tomorrow!
09 October 2006
Lately, views to my auctions have been slow. Very slow. For example, my pink passionflower art card only had 22 views and no bids. Last April, a similar card got 85 views and 3 bids. All the eBay experts say October should be better than April, so go figure! So, I'm thinking it's the election, the mess in Iraq, the nice weather, falling house prices, and/or the new TV season. And then I accept the fact that things will be slow for a while and I probably won't sell much -- probably not until mid-December. I also was toying with the idea of removing all the relief prints from my store because they were getting few looks.
Then I turn on my computer and out goes all my thinking. Someone not only bid on the print I have on auction, but also purchased another one out of my store. And then another someone bid on a botanical watercolor which I didn't think had a chance to sell at all. (It's very well done, but it's not showy and is of a rather strange plant.)
So, now I'm totally confused as to what is happening on eBay.
But there's nothing like a few bids to encourage me to get to work. Here's today's painting:
It's another watercolor on handmade paper. This one is of a Gambel's quail, which is the quail species we have around here. They are just hilarious to watch because they follow each other, so if one jumps down here, the next one must jump down here. The floppy top knot doesn't hurt their comic appeal.
I'm rather enjoying doing these watercolor birds. Admittedly, part of the enjoyment is that I figure someone will buy them. But more than that, they are an interesting challenge for me. I've done so many watercolor botanicals that I know pretty much exactly how to do each flower. Doing feathers is a whole 'other problem!
Besides this quail, I also planned out two portraits to work on. One I need a bit more info from the client and the other I just need to transfer the layout to the final paper. So, tomorrow, I'm hoping to do one of the portraits and maybe start on a botanical watercolor (an iris).
Then again, I may turn on my computer and find another surprise from eBay which will confuse my plans again!
And I'm blaming it on the neighbor's dog that I found. I tried to do the good neighbor thing and take care of the dog until they returned home. But they didn't come home on Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday. So, I called animal control. While they usually don't pick up strays on weekends, they do if it's an emergency -- and I must have sounded like I was at the end of my rope! (It whined/barked all night, snapped at my cats, had to be taken out every 3 hours, and whined if I wasn't in view. Oh, it also smelled like a dog!)
Now that I'm free of a dog, it's back to work. I have no idea what I'll be doing today, although a pet portrait commission comes to mind, but I will be back working. And that sounds great!!!
06 October 2006
Today, I found one of my neighbor's small dogs (he has about 7!) wandering lost on my property. So I picked the dog up and walked over there to return it. Well, the other 6 small dogs and the 3 large and vicious German shepherd crosses didn't want me getting anywhere near the fence. So, I put the small dog down and he walked towards the fence, but when this pack started to snap at him thru the fence, he came back to me and begged for me to pick him up. I stood over there for about 10 minutes hoping someone would come out of the house, since I really didn't like the idea of just throwing the little dog over the fence. No one came out so I came home. I would've left a note in the fence but I like my fingers!
So, I now have a whining dog that is driving me and my cats up the wall. I also have to figure out what to feed it and where to put it over night. Oh, yes, I suppose I have to take it out on occassion.
And just when are they returning so I can get rid of this doggie??? Let's hope they show up tonight or tomorrow, because I don't want to rearrange my life for their dog! It gets annoying to do the right thing and then have to suffer for it.
So, it was a bit surprising that I got anything done. And while today's piece is not a painting, let's just not get too literally on the "painting a day" idea.
This is a woodblock of a cone. (Actually, it's a cone from a Pseudotsuga menziesii, or a Douglas fir. I have a thing for the scientific name, because it's so fun to say.) The block itself is about 3x4" and is of soft maple. I had started this woodblock print a while ago, so today, with the dog whining, I figured it was time to finish it. Afterall, the design had been drawn out and the carving started, so all I had to do was cut away waste areas and not stab myself with the gouges. And I did both!
Anyway, the image on the left is the actual woodblock. The wood colored areas are the areas I gouged out (and will print white) and the black areas are at the original surface level of the block and will print black when inked. The image on the right is a computer generated version of the print -- boy does that sound fancy! Basically, I flipped the image as in a mirror and changed the tan wood color to white. If I wasn't so tired tonight, I would go ahead and print the edition, which will be about 10-12 prints.
One of these days I may try some woodblock prints of non-botanical subjects, since the botanical ones only appeal to a few people. In the meantime, I'm happy with my cone. I like doing prints on a limited basis and there are quite a number of potential techniques to try. My big hold-up is that what do I do with all the prints? I do sell a few prints here and there, but they aren't big sellers and even with very small editons (10-25 prints each) they take up a lot of space. Then again, maybe if I did non-plant prints or tried color again, maybe they would sell better. Another something to think about!
05 October 2006
The whole vet thing would have been better except for the vet tech. See, the clinic has 2 vet techs -- the old one and the new one. I like the old one -- very sensible, willing to explain things, and willing to bend the rules. The new one, --- well, we just don't get along. The problems began when she wouldn't let me pick him up at 3-3:30 like the old vet tech told me. That way I could get down the hill (with it's 16% grade and switchbacks) before dark.) Nope, the new one made me wait until 4:30. Then when I get there, she hands me this box and says to follow the directions. I ask what is it. (Seemed logical to me.) She snaps back that's it's antibiotics. Okay. Then I look at the bill and ask to make sure if the remains of the large wart were indeed removed and not just sewn up. She says it was debrided. That doesn't answer the question, but she refused to say anything more. So, I called up today to ask the old vet tech what had been done, since she had been assisting the vet. The new vet tech wanted me to tell her what my question was and then proceded to tell me that the area had been cleaned thoroughly so the wart was surely removed. (Cleaning is not removal!) She was suppose to have the old vet tech call me back, but, gee, surprise, I guess my message never got to her. I still want to know what they did for sure and what the note on his teeth means. The only problem is that I will have to go through her to get either to the vet or the old vet tech, so this is going to be a pain!
As for me, I spent the day taking photos at the zoo up there and then hiking. And it was the latter that nearly killed me. Okay, 6 miles and 2000ft in elevation was hard on this short, fat, old lady! By the time I got down from the peak and then drove all the way home, I was so tired and achy I just collapsed. Today, I'm still sore, but I think I will live.
I did get back to work and here's my "painting" for today:
This is a pastel sketch of Tucker. It was commissioned by a friend of his owner after he passed on. It was done in soft pastel, over ink, with touches of watercolor, on hand-made paper. I had some trouble getting the details on him, since it's only 8.5x11". With the hand-made paper and the entire dog, it was tricky to get the fine points of his muzzle. This is way I used touches of watercolor to blend the pastel and add a bit of color. Overall, I'm pleased with it.
And now I'm looking forward to tomorrow and working on something fun. I don't know what that will be, but I'm thinking maybe another oil? or maybe oil pastel? Tune in tomorrow to find out!
03 October 2006
It wasn't until this afternoon that I got around to painting this art card:
It's a Downy woodpecker in watercolor. I had wanted to do this little fellow in oils, but since I wanted to list something tonight, oils were out. And pastels would have been impossible at this scale with the details I wanted. I can always do a similar version on a larger scale sometime. Anyway, painting around the white wing bars was fun! (Right now it's being flattened under those big art history books, but in the meantime, you can bid on it by clicking here.)
And yes, I put a lot of detail into it. I shouldn't as this was part of what I was trying to avoid with the a painting a day idea. The problem is I'm nervous and worried about Sammy's trip to the vet tomorrow. And doing very detailed paintings or drawings is a good way to distract myself.
And speaking of tomorrow, I'll be taking Sammy up to the vet in Big Bear City, so I'll be leaving here at about 8:30am. I'll spend the dy up there taking photos, or hiking, or visiting the zoo, and then pick him up at about 3-4pm. I seriously doubt that I will feel like painting when I get home, so I'll miss tomorrow's painting. I am toying with the idea of taking some paints with me and doing some plein air painting. I don't know -- I rather dislike painting in public. Getting a couple rolls of useable photos may be just as important.
02 October 2006
First of all, my auctions are going nowhere. No visits, no bids. So I went to one of the eBay groups and asked for suggestions. One powerseller said my titles needed to be redone. Instead of "Wild Roses -- Original Floral linocut Relief Print LMH", she said I needed to have terms people search for. So the new title is something like "Rose Floral Contemporary Garden Wall Decor Art LMH". Not nearly as poetic, but it probably is better. After changing this one, I changed the other 3 auction titles.
Then because things were getting late, I just removed the morel print from my store, wrote a new title for it, and sent it to auction. I can feel it now -- with the new titling, hundreds of people are now flocking to my auctions! Ah, right, and I'll soon get a call saying I won the Noble Peace Prize!
I also spent most this morning getting photos printed out. Since my printer only works occassionally, I send my photos to Winkflash.com and have them print them out. It takes a few days and costs $0.19 per print, but it's easier than trying to keep my printer printing nicely. (The dry air dries the ink in the inkjets, so if I don't print daily, I have to spend an hour or more cleaning the heads.) Today was not a good day for uploading files. Prodigy, my ISP, kept dumping me on large files, so I had to rescale a few photos.
The big concern/distraction today is my tuxedo cat Sammy. He had a large mole on the side of his face, which he removed on one of my kitchen chairs last week. So, he has an appointment with the vet on Wednesday to have it surgically removed. Over the weekend, he removed most of the rest and now it's infected. I tried to clean it out with hydrogen peroxide, but it's hard as it's right next to his mouth. I called the vet and the vet tech said not to worry since my appointment is for Wednesday. But I'm going to worry anyway!!!
So with this as the background, here's today's painting:
It's a pink ladyslipper orchid on masonite. The picture is so bad because I had to use my cell phone to take the photo. Since the oils won't try for a few days, I can't very well lay it face down on my scanner! It actually looks better in life. But I'm not terribly pleased with the layout. Part of the problem is the shape of the panel -- 4x6". It's too long to really highlight the flower. It also would have helped, probably, if I had put more flowers in the background, but I had wanted to highlight the flower so I figured less was better. Not so in this case.
Well, I knew when I started this painting-a-day thing that not every piece would be a masterpiece. The point is to learn to paint faster. Still, it's hard not to feel a bit disappointed in the results. (Yes, I have the idea that every piece will be a masterpiece!) Tomorrow, I will take a little more time planning out the painting.
01 October 2006
This meadowlark was the first in my "a painting a day" plan. It's watercolor on handmade paper. And it came out quite nicely I think.
In keeping with my idea to leave out all unnecessary details, the feathers on the back have more suggested detail than actual detail. See, I have a tendency to paint in each and ever feather shaft and marking. Then I would paint over them to create the shading. Instead, I started with the shading and then added enough details to make them look realistic. I will confess that I was more than a bit nervous, but it came out fine.
Right now it's being pressed flat. This handmade paper buckles when wet, so I have to carefully wet the entire sheet and then dry it under weights. (Large art history books do come in handy for some things!) It'll be dry and flat tomorrow, so I might just list it.
Or I might not. I need to figure out what I'm going to list on eBay. I had the idea of concentrating on still lifes, but the anemones I put up have 3 views after 4 days. I don't know whether it's the subject, the painting quality, or the lack of eBay surfers at this time. (September is suppose to be good, but who knows with eBay?!) Anyway, I don't know whether it's worth listing anything but art cards, which still seem to be selling for me. I'll have to ponder this tonight.
In the meantime, I'm off to give my self a gold star for doing a painting today! (I wonder what I win with my gold stars?!)
The reasons for this are three-fold:
- To quit obsessing about details. I know I'm somewhat known for my detailed drawings, but when it comes to painting, I often get too caught up in the details. I will make corrections upon corrections for a lot longer than I really need to. In fact, I sometimes ruin a painting by making too many corrections. So, if I only have one day to do a painting, I can't spend days piddling with it. My style of oil painting will get more free, I hope.
- To get more work for eBay and shows. Right now, I only have a few botanical watercolors to sell. Fewer still lifes. And almost no animal art. Well, I would like to list something almost every day on eBay, but to do that I need stuff to list.
- To get my hourly wage in line with my prices. If I spend 4 days on an 4x6" oil painting, I can hardly list and sell it on eBay for $200. Not even a gallery could get that much for it! But if I can get that 4x6" painting down to 4-5 hours and then list it at $40-50, I'd have a shot at selling it. And at $10/hr, I have a chance to be self-supporting.
So there are my reasons for trying this. There also so should be the bonus that my looser painting style will more quickly develop.
Now, this doesn't mean that I won't do the very detailed drawings or portraits. They will be something I do from time to time, because I want to do them. My portraits will still be very detailed and I will be working on finishing the commissions I have as soon as I can. (Not all my day paintings will take 8-10 hours, so I will have time to do the portraits and get caught up.)
My biggest concern is coming up with ideas. Right now, I can think of a few paintings that I want to do, but I have this fear that after a week, I'll run out of ideas. The rational part of my brain says this is stupid as I do so many things that I will never not come up with ideas. But who said artists are totally rational?!
A related concern is the amount of energy it takes me to commit to a new piece. This works like this. I come up with several ideas and mull them over. Finally I pick an idea and really think about it. After sometime, I then commit to the idea and start working on it. While working on it, I become emotionally attached to my "baby". And when I'm done, especially if it's successful, there's kind of an "ahhh" feeling and a bit of fear that the next painting won't be as good. I'm hoping that painting a new piece each day will short-circuit some of this emotional business and I can get into each painting quicker and leave it quicker to move on.
I will try to post each new piece as I get done with, but since I'll be using oils and I don't want oil paint on my scanner, it may take a day or two before I get oil paintings up.
So, off I go to paint today's painting!
30 September 2006
For the last couple of weeks, my husband and his d-o-g have been home. Not for a vacation, really, but because his truck (big, 18-wheeler) needed to be repaired. It all started with having the clutch replaced, because it was failing. Simple job -- drop the transmission and replace it. While doing that, the mechanic found that the transmission oil cooler was leaking coolant into the oil. Not good. So to get it replaced, I had to drive to Fontana, CA (90 miles away) to get a new one, but -- and here's the cute part -- the dealer said he had the right part but it turned out to be the wrong one. Well, when the mechanic called around to other shops and dealers, the only one he could find was in Atlanta, GA. So, sending it by overnight freight (for $160), I got to do a return trip into Fontana. (The new part came into another dealer, but I still could return the wrong part to the other dealer and get our money back.) Then when the mechanic test-drove the truck, he noticed a fuel leak out of the fuel pump and an oil leak from the front of the transmission. The fuel leak ended up being just a few loose bolts and the oil leak didn't seem bad. So, on Friday, we paid the bill and brought the truck home.
Over the weekend, we drove it down to Palm Springs to pick up some lights for the truck and to figure out how much oil it was using. We found out about a pint of oil in 70 miles. Since hubby will drive 500-600 miles a day, that's nearly 2 galleons of oil per day. At $12/gal, this gets expensive fast. So Monday it went back to the shop. The cause was some dumb gasket, which was available in Chicago. After another bill, hubby finally got a working truck and left on Friday.
The total cost was about $5000.
This is why I about killed myself getting some Xmas cards done this week. As I mentioned, the alpaca farm wanted another alpaca piece by last weekend, to take to a show. She had also told me that she wanted a set of 3 Xmas cards by early November. Well, a week ago Friday, she calls and says they took out a half-page ad in an alpaca magazine, so she needed the cards by Thursday. With all the stuff going on with hubby's truck -- namely the trips to Fontana -- I didn't get started on them until Saturday afternoon. I figured one a day for 3 days and then another day to make corrections. No problem to get them done. So on Monday, I get this call and she says the deadline is really Thursday morning for the ad layout, so she would need the cards by Tuesday afternoon. So much for my timeline! I ended up working most of Sunday and Monday on them -- even made hubby make my lunches so I could work on the cards. But I got them done.
And in the middle of all this, I've been trying to run some auctions, update my website, and finish of some portrait commissions. All with husband and d-o-g in tow. (Sorry to say this, but dogs are a real nuisance, what with their trips outside. With cats, just give them a litter box and they are set for the entire day!)
And to complete my annoyance theme, today my website seems to be down. No wonder I'm not getting any views on my auctions -- the pictures are gone!
So, here are photos of what I'm selling on eBay right now:
Trout Lily Art Card
Wild Roses Print
Anemones in Crock
Anyway, I'm now trying to get my life back into some order and get back to work. I've sorted out what I want to do and how I'm going to try doing it. I still haven't exactly figured out how to get it all done, especially when I have these interruptions such as hubby's truck and the website problem to deal with!
10 September 2006
Well, I wish I could say I had a good break from things, but I can't. I've been feeling blah lately. I'm fighting against myself when it comes to doing an oil portrait. The IRS and my former auto insurance company are creating problems. I've spend days tracking down a few parts for hubby's truck. It's been hot and humid here..... On and on my list of whiny complaints.
Yes, I know I'm whining. And yes, I hate whiners. So I'm not happy with myself.
The basic problem is that all these little "problems" nibble away at my energy. Enough little bites, and then I feel sapped. So, like the terribly mature person I am (irony here), I just shut down. So, while I finished a couple of small paintings this week, none of then where on my list of commissions to do.
But now I had better get my act together fast!
Next weekend (16 Sept), I have a one day show to do in Montrose, CA. This wouldn't be a big thing, except I sold a number of my unframed botanicals during my "Best Offer" sale, I haven't done any extra florals/botanicals, and now my husband wants me to take my sculpture to the show. (He thinks sculpture would look good with the botanicals.) I also need to come up with something to take to "demo".
Then the following weekend (22 Sept), the alpaca farmer who used to handle my alpaca artwork will be doing a show in Monterey, CA and they want a couple of pieces. Well, they actually only want one pastel, but I would also like to do a small sculpture. They also want a set of Christmas cards, but not by the show. Again, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I'd like a bit more than a 10 day notice. (10 days because they need to take it to a framer.)
And then the eBay season is coming up. I had planned to start listing on the 15th or 17th actually (after the show). I have a few new things to list. But then there's the problem of letting the new oils dry long enough to be able to varnish them before I sell them.
So, in some ways, things are going pretty well for selling art. I just need to get busy and get back to producing a lot of art and soon!
01 September 2006
One thing I'm going to try for September is to really limit my television time to about 1 hour a day. The only exceptions will be when PBS has 2 hour shows or a good movie on the weekend. (Hey, I deserve a break once in a while.) Actually, I haven't been watching too much more than an hour per day as it is. I don't like most reality shows. I don't watch most sports, with college basketball tournement being an exception. And I don't have cable/satellite tv so I'm limited to 5 snowy channels. I'm actually threatening not to get a digital converter if and when the US does go 100% digital tv.
Anyway, with only 1 hour of tv, that should give me 1-2 hours a night to read. So, I may get my pile of books down to only a dozen or so!
Here's what I've finished lately:
- The Hours, by Michael Cunningham -- I'm not sure what I think of this novel. The basic outline is there are 3 women, Virginia Wolf, a 1950s housewife, and a contemporary lesbian. The book follows each woman in alternating chapters and then ties all three women together in the final chapter. While the characters were well-rounded, the plot rather surprising at times, and the writing clear and often poetic, the book left me feeling less than pleased that I had read it. (I have a lot of interesting books to read, so I don't want to waste my time on less than oustanding books.) Why it won a Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award I don't know. I don't think my less-than-positive reaction to the book had to do with the depression/suicide theme which runs thru the book -- it was more that the book was too contrived. Linking the three women together was a stretch. I probably won't ever reread this book and I definitely won't see the movie based on this book.
- Boomer, by Charles Taylor -- One blurb on the cover said something about better than Tom Clancy. And I have to agree, especially when compared to Clancy's Op-Center and Net Force novels. The basic story is a rogue submarine captain seizes a nuclear submarine with the intention of destroying U.S. subs and how the U.S. Navy tries to stop him. The writing was clear with enough detail to make it authentic, but not too much to become boring. The characters were interesting and multidimensional. And the plot had some extremely interesting twists and turns. While not a "great" novel, it was entertaining and very much worth my time to read.
- Regarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag -- This collection of essays was outstanding. Basically, Sontag discusses how television and photography have influenced how we view the inhumanities of war. The chapters were short and basically independent of each other, which was good -- this is not a book which one reads in one sitting. My favorite part of this book is that she made me think about a lot of things related to the media and the U.S.'s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (And time an author can make me think, I love it!) On the down-side, her writing can be fairly complex in terms of syntax and rheotic. For example, she will hang a number of dependent clauses on one sentence, and then make reference to something she said three pages earlier. The writing is clear if one takes the time to read carefully, but as I was reading this while reading the above easy-to-read novels and in 'speed reading' mode, Sontag's writing occasionally confused me. I definitely will reread this book again as I think I can get more out of it each time I read it.
Presently, I'm reading these two books:
- Snow, by Orhan Pamuk-- Yet another novel I found at the library book sale. (Hey, I can get a lot of books in a bag on their "Buck-A-Bag" sale!) This was a New York Times Best Book of the Year and a novel based in and from Turkey, an area that I wouldn't mind learning more about.
- The Voyage of H.M.S Beagle: The Journal of Charles Darwin, by Charles Darwin -- Yep, another library find! Some years ago, I read Darwin's Origin of Species, and was left wondering what he saw on the voyage. So, when I saw this for sale (I didn't even know it was ever published), I knew I had to read it.
Both of these books are very interesting, at least as far as I am right now. Unfortunately, both are rather long, so it'll be a while before I get done with either. And in the meantime, I really need to get those bookshelves built so I can buy a number of books on my wish list!
30 August 2006
Well, I should get back to work. Unfortunately, I'm having some mental and physical issues.
First, I like having my hubby around and doing things together. I know that's a bit unusual as most of my married acquaintances would rather have not spend time with their husbands. So, when he heads back on the road (he's an over-the-road trucker), I feel very lonely for a few days.
I'm also fighting against doing some portraits. I need to get these done so that I can do more of my personal art and just to get them off my mind. The problem stems from my fear of screwing them up. They are in oil and I haven't done a lot of oil portraits, especially lately. Add to this stress that one of them is to be a demo, so it's like having people watching me.
And just for kicks, I injured something in my back. It's the muscle under my right shoulder blade. I about screamed when I had to take my t-shirt off last night. It's a bit better this morning -- after 3 ibuprofens -- but all I have to do is reach out for a cup or look down too far to be strongly reminded that it's still there. This makes it hard to both write this blog, paint, do the dishes, etc.
So, after spending most of yesterday reading, I'm bored and frustrated. I really want to get back to work. So, I'm going to pick a portrait and do something on it for 30 minutes. (I think my back can handle that.) Maybe once I get working on something, I'll get motivated.
Or maybe I'll just finish the book.
20 August 2006
While I have several things planned for this week, I know that I'll be lucky to get anything done. This week my husband (and his d-o-g) will be home for a week for our anniversary. I now people may not consider this professional behaviour, but I'm giving him most of my attention and time and not sitting in my studio and working. But in case I have time to do stuff, such as when he's working on his truck, here are my plans.
Works in Progress and Planned
- portrait of Pancake -- I have the drawing done, but I'm waiting to hear back from the client about the background. I'm also struggling with getting enough courage up to start the painting -- it's not so much the painting that's the problem, but the fact that I'm doing this as a demo and everyone is watching.
- portrait of Paca -- I'm still waiting on new photos.
- a botanical watercolor of an iris -- This was going to be a hybrid Phragmipedium but I decided that this orchid would be better on a larger scale, so I've started on an iris. The reason I didn't just do the orchid larger now is (a) I only have 1 sheet of 7x10 paper left and want to use it and (b) I need to buy another block of 9x12 paper.
- an artcard of a squash -- This is just going to be a fun little art card with lots of textures.
- a floral oil painting of an orchid -- Another 5x7 orchard painting in oil. This one will be a purple vanda hybrid.
- Irises in a Square Vase -- I have this planned out, but it's just a matter of getting started on it.
I would have liked to get more done this last week, but I (stupidly) decided to do this Best Offer Sale on eBay. That has taken most of my time. Well, the problems with the IRS, my auto insurance, and a part for my husband's truck all ate up huge amounts of time. But while I didn't get a lot of stuff done, I'm very pleased with the quality of the 3 pieces I did finish.
Recently Completed Works
Zorro Bunny -- This is an artcard in oil of a domestic rabbit, which I named Zorro because of his mask. I only had one small picture of this bunny, so I used the wild rabbits in my yard for the details on the face.
Pink Passionflower Hybrid -- This is another artcard in oil. I had done a very similar artcard in colored pencil and ink, but I never liked it. So, I redid it in oils. And it came out a whole lot better in my opinion. I did have a little problem with the reddish-pink. At first, it was too pink and too bright, but one of the nice think about oils is that one can correct minor problems easily. So, I glazed a bit of reddish-pink paint over the bright pink and it was exactly the right color. The glazing also added an incredible amount of depth to the flower, so I had to do a bit of glazing on the leaves to make it look right.
Red Miltonia Hybrid -- This is a 5x7 oil painting of a red hybrid miltonia orchid. I really enjoyed doing this little piece because it was simple to paint, was done in one day, and involved 'pretty' colors.
17 August 2006
The problem I'm having right now is that I said I was going to list 5 items per day. So far, I have basically listed items that I had in my store at one time or another. This means that the pictures and descriptions are already on my computer and/or web site, so I just have to cut and paste. Tomorrow, I'll be listing some new-to-eBay items, which means I'll have to scan them in, upload images, and write descriptions. So, something that I figured would take only an hour to do per day, will now be more like2-3 hours.
And that's not in my schedule!
What I need to figure out is what to put up. So far I've listed prints, animals, still lifes, and botanicals -- my normal mix of eBay stuff. But like I said, I'm running out of previously listed items. I have one more print I could list and a couple of animal pieces. I could list other botanicals, although I'm a bit hesitant because I don't want to give some of these away! I could also list some abstract pieces, but they are sooo different from the realistic stuff, I don't know. I did get one request to list some nudes, but I had planned on listing them when I started listing goddess artwork. And then there's the brand new stuff -- done in the last couple of months -- which I really hate to list now as I'm going to try to list a couple of items per week from Sept thru May. I want to make sure I have enough stuff!
What really annoys me is that I created this problem myself. Why did I say 5 per day?!
16 August 2006
One recent change is to the fees for eBay store items. Instead of 2-cents for a 30-day listing regardless of price, the listing fees will be $0.05 for items $0.01-24.99 and $0.10 for items $25.00 and over. Then the final value fees (fees after you sell something) also will increase from 8% to 10% for itmes under $25, and from 5% to 7% for items $25-100.
While these changes may seem minor, they do add up. For example, if I list 20 items in my store for a year, that used to cost $4.80. Now the listing fees will be $18.00 (if 10 items are under $25 and 10 are over) for the year. That's 375% increase!!! Now, multiply this times the number of eBay stores, say 200,000, and you can see we are talking some serious money for eBay. ($3.6 million/year) This is just the listing fees -- add the final value fees and it's really serious money!
So, rather than put a lot of items in my store and have them continually available, I'm going to have to be a bit more selective. (Okay, I can afford the $18.00/year, but I'm one of many artists who are very upset at eBay's greed!) I'm not sure what I will do -- list things related to what I'm putting on auction, list things that are too expensive to list at auction, list .... I don't know. I'll think about it.
Another possible change has to do with how things are found when one searches for items on eBay. eBay doesn't admit they are tweaking the search methods, but.... well a number of artists insist they are. Everytime they change how search results are found (all itmes listed by ending date, featured items first, no store items,...), it's a lottery as to whether it helps my items be found or not.
Anyway, I've decided not to list anything on auction until at least mid-September, so I can figure out what is going on. Also this will give me a chance to get caught up on portrait commissions. In the meantime, I will be listing about 5 items per day in my store (before 22 Aug when the new fees take effect), all with Best Offer options. Hopefully, I will sell a few items and clean out my store, so I'll have less store inventory.
Now, if eBay just leaves everything alone for a while, I might actually figure out how to make the new changes work for me!
15 August 2006
Yep, people have found out and now my schedule is a mess. First one was my neighbor who invited me out for breakfast, which then stretched into mid-morning coffee because she needed to talk. There went that morning's "portrait/eBay artwork" timeslot.
Then there was the problem with my auto insurance, which meant that I had to call during normal working hours. One simple call turned into 3-4 calls and 3-4 call backs, so there went that afternoon's "personal artwork" period.
Today's first mess was the IRS' turn. Seems you send them a check 8 days ago, for a deadline today, and it takes them 2 weeks to process the check before you can find out if the check arrived on time or not. (If not, one can do an electronic payment and avoid the penalty for late payment.) Hey, it only took 45 minutes to get to a person who could tell me,... well,.. nothing because they don't have a clue where my check is until it's fully processed next week.
And today's finally "let's get rid of the schedule" mess is brought to me by eBay. I listed a few items and it seems they can't find my gallery pictures. I checked my website, and the photos are there. I revised the items and eBay still says the photos are fine but they arn't appearing in the listings. So I resubmitted the gallery photos, and I got another notice that the photos weren't available from the host. So, there went the morning with no art done and no gallery photos either.
Just to prove to everyone that I have not gone nuts, here's the photo that according to eBay doesn't exist:
Vulture Pot, oil on canvas
I'm trying to remain calm and just say to myself that things crop up and I need to go with the flow. But it's not easy. I have my schedule planned so I get artwork done, I have time to read/relax, I exercise, and I keep the house clean. I don't have time to deal with the IRS for an hour or to deal with eBay's newest glitch!
So, I get to practice some mental yoga. I do need to learn to be more flexible, as I have a tendency for yes/no thinking. If I miss one or two periods of doing art or I don't take a morning walk, the world doesn't come to an end. I just need to pick up from where I am and go back to my schedule. There's really no point in trying to catch up -- it's really only a way to beat myself up.
Just relax, and go with the flow. Be flexible. Take a deep breath.
And if all else fails, go hug a cat or two!