31 January 2007

Lightning Strikes Twice

And they say that lighting doesn't strike twice. Ha! It did!

As I wrote last week, I spent almost a week without a computer thanks to a problem with the hard-drive and power supply. I got it back mid-week and fried it on Saturday. (Or was it Friday? I don't know -- it's all a bit of a blur.)

I had gone to a website that suggested using the latest version of Internet Explorer, which I can't because I have an older computer. Usually this kind of warning only means something won't work or look pretty. Well, in this case, it froze up my browser to the point I had to physically turn the computer off as opposed to shutting it down properly. Then when I turned it back on, no Windows! Well, actually, it had Windows but kept asking for the key code, which if I entered would basically reformat my hard-drive. So, back to a computer store -- I went to a different one because Mike (the guy who fixed it the first time) was off until Tuesday or Wednesday and I didn't want to wait another week. Well, Ted checked everything out, saved some of my data, and reformatted my hard-drive.

So, I'm back to square one. I lost all my email addresses, most of my photos not on my website, and all the software I had installed. I've spent most of today trying to get my computer to talk nicely to the internet. So far, I can browse and get email. One tiny step at a time. Tomorrow, I may introduce my computer to either my scanner or maybe my website software. Such excitement, huh?

I know I really need to buy a new computer and I'll start looking for one. I also will start backing up everything. (That's the ironic part of this tale of woe -- I was going out that afternoon to buy writeable CDs to save my photos when I had the problem in the morning. 24 hours later and things would not have been lost.)

I'm exhausted! I suppose it's just the stress. Not only do I have to deal with computer issues, not being able to list auctions, and figuring out how to get hold of a couple of clients, but hubby's truck has developed a electrical problem and a transmission problem and Sammy (my cat) now has several more growths on his chest. I honestly feel like just going to bed and waking up sometime this summer!

Needless to say, I haven't done much artwork. I know I should be working on several things, but I can't. I'm too tired. Last time I tried doing stuff when I was this tired, I really messed things up. I know getting back to work and doing some art would help me, but it's hard to not feel like the world is falling in on me. Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day?!

25 January 2007

Back to Cyberland

Well, I'm finally back and my computer is now functioning.

As some of you know, last week I had the wonderful experience of burning up a hard-drive. This is the second one in 6 years. So, for about a week, my computer has been in the shop getting a new hard-drive, a new power supply, a new floppy drive, and a CD burner. The last two things were things I wanted for some time, so while Mike was working on my computer, I had him put them in. What was totally surprising was the bill -- only charged me $30 for the labor. (The hardware was a whole lot more since I have an old and somewhat special computer which takes expensive, non-standard parts.) So, if anyone is near Yucca Valley, CA and needs a computer fixed, go to Computer Zone!

Anyway, it was rather interesting to live without a computer and tv for a week. The only computer I dealt with was one of the public computers in the library to let eBay buyers know that I was computerless. Other than that, nothing. And I'm still refusing to watch tv (I should explain why someday).

At first I was panicky and really agitated about not being able to check my email, auctions, etc. I discoverd that my whole day was structured around reading emails, listing auctions, and checking auctions. Without a computer, this structure was gone. But my mind kept saying, "Time to check the auctions." It was an interesting tug-of-war that left me nervous and confused. And I will admit that I was bored at times.

After a couple of days the panic left and I really began to enjoy the extra time I had. I figure that not having a computer opened up 2-3 hours a day to do other things. I read 2 books, watched dvds, cleaned my house, fixed gourmet meals, and started on a built-in bookcase in my studio. These are things that either needed to be done or I had wanted to do, but never had time to do. It was a shock to me once I realized how much of this other stuff I was getting done. I knew I was on the computer off-and-on during a typical day, but I never realized just how much time (and energy) it took up.

But there was another interesting effect of having no computer or tv. My mind became calmer and I felt more rested. It took a few days for this to really become apparent, but then I noticed that not only was my mood brighter, but I felt physically better. I presume some of this had to do with me eating better and not sitting in front of this keyboard, but I don't think it totally explains it. I also had a minor burst of creativity -- the small palette knife paintings easily happened and I came up with tons of ideas.

And then the computer was back from the shop. I confess, the first day back, I overdosed. Not only did I have to deal with some problems (partial recovery of data from the old hard-drive is NOT fun!), but I had a list of things to check on the internet and about 175 non-spam emails to deal with. I would say within 3 hours, my mind was back to where it had been before the meltdown.

So, what do I do now with this interesting experience? I don't know. I would give myself computer holidays, but I make my money from selling art on the internet, so I can't really say, "This May, I'm not using my computer." (Well, I could say that, but I also like to eat!) I think the best I can do is to become more aware of how much I am using this computer and try not to use it to entertain myself when I'm bored. There's a number of other activities, such as reading, cooking, building shelves, etc, which are more interesting (and useful) than putting puzzles together online or playing solitaire on my computer.

16 January 2007

Better Late, than Never

Yes, I know on Saturday I said that tomorrow (Sunday) I would explain what I had plan for next month. And now it's Tuesday. So, I'm late. Give me the tardy slip and I'll go to the principal's office!

And yes, I'm in a rather happy and therefore totally obnoxious mood.

I can't explain it, but I sold 6 things out of my eBay store, got 2 commissions for bonsai paintings, and someone wants me to build them a website. It really is strange to me that all this is happening at once. Hubby says, "It's about time you get noticed!" (He's a tiny bit biased!) I don't know if it's the listing 3-5 items a week or just that half the country is stuck inside because of nasty weather. Only problem with the latter explanation is that the lady who bought 5 store items is from Australia, where it's summer!

Besides the sales, I also finished a portrait -- well, actually I'm setting it aside until I put in the final details.

And I did another little palette knife painting, which came out quite well. So, needless to say, I'm a happy camper!!!

Okay, back to February. February has 28 days. The alphabet has 26 letters. Hmm.... That got me thinking. What I came up with is this: In February, I'm going to do birds from A to Z. One a day. In a variety of sizes. In a variety of media. It's going to be a lot of work, but why not? The birds have been a good seller. And doing something weird like this might get me a bit more attention. Sometime in the next week or so, I need to send out emails to everyone on my mailing list and promote this project. I'm also going to create a special page in my eBay store to feature this project. It'll have small photos of each with the ones up for auction listed below.

The only problem with this project is I work slowly. When it comes to larger pieces, I'm just going to have to start those a day or two in advance of when I'm doing that letter. Also, I have to think what to do about oil paintings. While I can paint them a day in advance, so they will be dry enough to scan, I can't varnish them for a month. Guess I'll just have to say something in the listing about it either being unvarnished or I'll hold it until it can be varnished.

Oh, then there's the ablatrosses -- the backlog of portraits. This bird project is strong motivation to get those &#^$*$ portraits done NOW! Since I got one done, that's only 3 to go. I'll finish another one by Friday, so that leaves two for next month. I can do it!!!

Hmm, and somewhere in here I have to work on the bonsai commissions. I'll figure it out.

And in the meantime, I'm off to have a cup of warm tea. It's still cold here -- one degree warmer last night. It could do better and warm up at least a couple of degrees more!

13 January 2007

Frost on the Pumpkin... And Then Some

Okay, I live in southern California. And yes, I live in the desert. So, why is there snow on the cactus?!

Yep, snow. Yesterday it snowed and then, unlike normal when it does snow, the temperatures dropped so the snow stayed. I can look out my windows and see snow. It's really weird, since the purple mountains are now white. And the weather people are saying it will stay cold for several more days. Tonight is suppose to be the coldest, although last night it did get down to 17 degrees F. For here, that is VERY cold.

So, I stay inside and drink lots of hot cocoa.

Lately, I've been spending my mornings working on 2 different portraits and I'm almost done with both. Thankfully! They have been like a huge weight around my neck and I would like to finish them off soon. Then finish the next two. Then the final one. And finally I'll be done with my backlog.

One reason I want to get the portraits done is so I can do more of my own stuff. I presently working on a small series of palette knife paintings. So far, they have been all still lifes, but I won't guarantee that forever. (I feel bird and floral paintings coming on!) Just so we know what I'm talking about, here's one:

This is a small oil on masonite. Instead of brushes, it was painted with palette knives, which saves on brush cleaning! It also give the painting a vibrancy because it is only slightly mixed. This Sprouted Onion is one of the better ones. I did ruin a couple pieces of masonite because I just wasn't used to handling knives. But the one I did yesterday, which is still drying, is the best so far, so it looks like I'm learning.

Now the point of doing these palette knife paintings is to get faster. Because I can't add all the tiny details which I tend to want to put in, I have to focus on the main points. I'm hoping that after another 8-10 paintings, I'll actually be a faster painting.

And giving what I have planned for February, I had better be fast! But more on that tomorrow. (Assuming I don't freeze to death!)

08 January 2007


I'm sick. Hubby came home on Tuesday and brought us a present -- a cold. Either that or we picked it up on Wednesday when we went grocery shopping. In any case, both he and I didn't have a nice weekend. He's back on the road and is doing better than I am.

I did manage to do a tiny bit of work. I sent out some emails. I gessoed some masonite for new paintings. And I planned a few paintings. Not exactly what I planned. I had hoped to get one portrait done and then work on another small oil or two.

Although, after this weekend, I'm thinking larger pieces. There are tons of people that are now doing small pieces. In fact, I know of at least 5 eBay groups that are dedicated to small paintings and one dedicated to minature sculptures. This all happened because several people mentioned that they were selling well with small pieces, so everyone ran to do them. This weekend, however, I sold a 16x20 and a 11x15. While these aren't large, even by my standard, they were larger than my normal offerings and larger than a lot of artwork on eBay. I do have another large bird painting planned but I need to stretch some paper, and then there's the landscape with moose, and then... So many ideas, so little time!

Well, I've got a terrible headache and I still need to list something tonight. I'd better get better soon, or I'll run out of older stuff to list!

02 January 2007

PAAO Theme Contest

Like I said yesterday, I've entered the PAAO Theme Contest. Actually I have 2 entries. PAAO stands for Professional Animal Artists Online and is another eBay group. This month's theme is animals which begin with "T".

My first entry is this watercolor of a ruddy turnstone.

I personally think this turnstone turned out to be one of my best watercolors ever. I was a bit surprised that it turned out so well, as it was done on printmaking paper and not watercolor paper. That means the watercolor sinks into the surface a bit and can't be corrected at all. Anyway, the part I like the most is the fading out. It gives the piece a light feeling. I'm just hoping that some birder will buy it and appreciate it. If not, I'll be glad to live with it.

My second entry is this acrylic painting on canvas of a trout in a stream.

I did this one similar to a demo I saw in a book. While I don't normally use acrylics, I'm more than a little intrigued by how well this one turned out and have plans to do several similar pieces. Since this was acrylic on canvas and since I have no idea what to price it at, I put it up for $9.95 with a reserve. This is the first time I ever did a reserve auction, as I personally won't bid on a reserve auction. I just like to have an idea of how much I'm going to have to pay. But since I'm weird, I figured this might be the time to try a reserve auction. So far, so good -- 2 bids and lots of visits.

I'm really a bit disappointed in the quality of the other entries in the contest. Some are truly amateurish and some are okay. I wish the quality was better, so I'd be pushed more. Then again, I'm basically doing this contest (and their other ones) to get a nomination and maybe win a precious Artists Choice Award.

01 January 2007

Another New Year

Well, 2007 is finally here, but, quite frankly, I'm not done with 2006. I had planned on getting all the commissions done, but I didn't quite make. I have several that I am working and these are a priority for this month. I had also wanted to do more experimental stuff, more marketing, more....

But that was last year and this is this year, so I get a clean slate.

And I have big plans for 2007. Here's a few things I'm planning for this year:
  • Start doing some detailed wood carvings for shows and galleries
  • Do some larger pastel pieces with the idea of entering them into pastel shows and perhaps getting some precious initials after my name (I'll explain this some day)
  • Keep doing smaller but quality work for eBay and list 3 pieces minimum a week
  • Contact interior decorators and see if I can find one on the East Coast to represent my botanical watercolors
  • Maybe contact some magazines or book publishers and get some freelance illustration work
  • Blog nearly daily

In terms of artwork itself, here's few things I'm planning to work on, which I never got to last year:

  • Detailed wood sculptures
  • Larger oil paintings of wildlife
  • Highly textured still lifes
  • Maybe a new print every month, but more realistically, one every other month

Yep, it's quite a lot to do. So, I'm planning on major rearrangements in my personal life to give me more time and mental energy. The main two things will be to cut out 95% of all tv and internet surfing and follow the FlyLady routines. (I'll explain the latter some day.)

Anyway, I had better get working on supper. One of my personal resolutions is to eat decent food, rather than whatever is quick and easy. Tonight is winter root gratin! Tomorrow, I'll post the two pieces I list for the PAAO contest.