26 February 2007

Rethinking My Web Site

Hey, I'm doing better. It's only been 5 days since I last wrote. That's better than my week or more off at least. I really do need to write daily as I see from my web site stats, this blog does get people to look at my web site.

That is another thing I need to work on -- my web site. I've been trying to figure out what exactly I should do with my site when it comes to sold work. I mean, if I do paintings daily and I sell them regularly on eBay, do I want extra pages on my site for unavailable work? And what should the relationship be between my web site and my eBay store?

Thanks to a couple people on various artist boards, I think I have answers. I don't know if they are THE answers, but they make sense.

Basically, my web site has three parts, so there's three different plans:

  1. The Learning Center -- The purpose of this section is to pass on some of what I have learned. Maybe help some new artists. This section does come up very high in various searches. I probably will add some affiliate banners and maybe Google ads in the hope of getting a bit of revenue. I'll just keep adding to this section and nothing will be removed.
  2. The Portraits -- Since portraits are sold on past work and not on available work, I'll pick out 8-10 of the best in each medium, plus 1 or 2 recent ones. The rest will be removed. The reason to include the recent ones is that people do like to see their portrait on the Internet. (I also need to get back to featuring them on the home page.) Having about 10 excellent examples should be enough for anyone to decide.
  3. The Non-Portrait Art -- This is the section which is a problem. While having lots of sold work is nice because various things come up in search engines and hopefully people visit the rest of my site, I feel the for-sale art is being lost. There's some much sold work that the few pieces which are available are hard to find. So, I'm going to be watching the web stats and check out my Google rankings, and then remove those pages for sold items which get few if any hits. Eventually, I may get down to only available artwork plus 2 or 3 excellent, but sold examples. I can always use the sold pieces in various places across my site.
Now, the one problem I have is with the botanical watercolors. I think of them more as plant portraits, so do I treat them like the other portraits? If I got decorators to come to my site, would they like to see the range of my botanicals or would they just be interested in the available pieces? I wonder if I called a couple decorators if they would talk to me about this?

I'm thinking my site should have a lot more background and info on me and my portraits, plus few exclusive pieces, as opposed to my eBay store. The store will be the main sales location and I will have some links from my site to eBay and any other web sites that I have artwork on. This makes sense, but I'm not totally clear or convinced that I like this. I need to think about this more. (Besides, I'm still trying to figure out how to get my web site back on my computer so I can actually update it!)

In the meantime, I have been working, even though I haven't posted stuff here. This weekend, I finished two pieces.

This is Clara, a cute bulldog. It's oil portrait on canvas and goes to one of a wonderful client. She was VERY patient with me as I struggled with this portrait. Basically the problem was, she took the photo with a flash which washes out colors, gives the dog red-eye, and creates bizarre shadows. So, after doing it once (actually twice because I first screwed up the proportions), I didn't like it because of the shadows and I redid it. They say three's a charm and in this case it was. She loves it! And I'm relieved. In any case, I have to think of some way to make the delay up to her.

This is a marsh wren in acrylics on canvas. I did it as part of the PAAO Theme Week Contest, and the theme was "W-Z" animals. I think it came out fine, although I almost quit on it half way thru it. I didn't like the cattails, in part because there was a big white hole for where the wren was going to go. I kept working on it and then finally put the wren in and, like magic, it all worked. What people don't realize is that the background took about twice as long as the bird, and yet the background is not really important unless it detracts from the bird. It's kind of annoying! Anyway, it's up on auction until Friday, so take a look and bid!

And now, I had better go get back to work! I still have 5 commissions to do plus new stuff for my eBay store.

21 February 2007

Creating My Own Headaches

Okay, I'm insane. I admit it.

If you look over my blogs, one common theme is that I don't have enough time to fit everything in. I'm trying to create stunning artwork daily, make all my food, care for 5 acres of fruit trees, care for cats and birds, read, .... Yes, it's 2 platefuls of stuff to do.

So, what do I do? Instead of scratching something off my list, I add to it. I created a group of artists, Artists2Watch, on eBay with the idea that we can all work together to be successful. It's a sound idea, but I'm finding out how much time running a group takes up. It's not like being a member of a group, where I can not show up for a week. Nope, I have to be there, daily, or twice-daily.

What's really interesting is that since I started the group, I've gotten 3 portraits done, 2 small paintings, and one art card. That's a lot for me, especially when I'm spending hours hunting for quality artists to invite into the group. I'm suspecting that it has to do with being a bit more organized and just doing it now. (I don't have time to sit around and think about what to do next -- I just need to get it done!) Things are still a bit hectic, but I think in a few days, that will settle down, especially when I get all the portraits done.

Maybe this is a key to getting more stuff done? Try doing more? Hey, I never said I was normal.

14 February 2007

Rethinking the Balance

I think it's all the stress of late because I never could really get going. And I'm sleepy already at 6pm.

So, I took most of the day off and finally installed the CD-burner software. Then I burned a couple of CDs with photos of my artwork and, of course, I crashed my computer. Nothing major -- just some warning about the system being unstable. Maybe it has something to do with my system barely being enough to run the software?!

I did work a bit on a dog portrait and a small still life of a gourd. Both are coming along well, and I hope to have them done by Friday. I really will be glad when I get these portraits done, so I can take a break from them for a while. I want to get back sculpting but as long as I have these commissions, I don't feel like I should take the time to pound on a rock!

Then again, maybe I should. There's a book, Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel, which I've been reading. While some of tiredness is physical (the neighbor's dogs barking most of the night doesn't help my sleep at all!), most of it is mental/emotional. According to Maisel, one reason for this lack of energy is a lack of passion and belief that what I'm doing is meaningful. I will admit that I don't see art as very important, but I guess that my art does move people, so okay, it's meaningful. (Yep, I'm trying to convince myself!)

As for the passion, that has kind of been lost in most part. I think it has to do with my focus on making this a profitable business. It's widely accepted and partially true that pieces which an artist finds meaningful often are not commercially successful. If an artist wants to pay the bills, then the choice is a day job or doing saleable artwork. When the saleable artwork is the only thing I do, then I get to feel empty and tired. And since I don't 'allow' myself to do the sculpture or paintings are meaningful to me, I don't recharge my spirit.

Now the problem is balance the needs of portrait commissions and work for eBay against sculpture and paintings for me. Afterall, there is only so many hours in the day and I literally have to do everything by myself around the house. I thought I had this balance figured out, but the business side seems to have taken over again, so I have to rethink the situation.

And while I'm thinking, I'm going to go make supper and then watch a DVD tonight with my cats. (They get a yummy Valentine's Day treat -- raw liver. Yum.)

13 February 2007

Another Day, Another Computer Glitch

Here it is -- 8:18 pm -- and I'm still working. Still not had supper. And still having computer issues!

Today's computer fun involved a floppy disk. I wrote something out, copied it to a floppy, and went into the library to print it out on their nice printers. I put the disk in the computer and it says that it's not formatted. Huh? An hour before, all the data was there. Now it's gone. I came home and tried the disk. Same thing -- no formatting. I don't know what happened, but this has happened before at the library. I suspect that their computers may only allow you to copy stuff to a disk and not copy things from a disk to their computers. Makes sense, but I sure wish they would warn a person! (So I never did get it printed out.)

And my website is still not functioning!

One pleasant thing is that the burrowing owl is getting a decent amount of views, and so is the green pear. I'm rather surprised with the latter, but I'm not complaining.

This green pear was one of the first of a series of palette knife paintings in oils which I did last month. While it's not the most spectacular of the bunch -- the others are more colorful -- it is charming in it's own way. In life, the textures are really nice.

I also put up an older, but very nice botanical watercolor.

I don't know if anyone will bid on it or not, but I do need to get back to listing things daily and to build my store inventory back up. And who knows, it just might sell!

And now, I think I deserve to have something for supper, if only a bowl of cold cereal!!!

12 February 2007

Just About Had It!!!

I can't believe the last 3+ weeks. Between computer meltdowns and hubby's truck problems, I'm just about ready to give up and go flip burgers!

Here's my last 3+ weeks:

  • computer 'smells' -- get new power supply and hard-drive. Small bill.
  • hubby's truck has no turn signals, sometimes -- his truck has intermittent problems with turn signals so he stops and has it worked on for a day. BIG bill.
  • computer stops working -- 2 days out for the shop, the computer decides it doesn't have an operating system, so back to the shop. Tech guy saves most of data, but not my emails, when he reformats the hard-drive. Small bill.
  • hubby's truck still has no turn signals, again -- 50 miles from the repair place, they go out again. Owner says he can't do anything else, so take it to a truck dealer. Stops at dealer and they have no clue either! Medium bill.
  • computer refuses to send or receive photos -- my ISP claims it's software and Microsoft says it's ISP. Take it back to Tech guy and he reformats hard-drive again. I get to install all the software again. Small bill.
  • hubby's truck has no turn signals (while driving in L.A.) and now has a power drain -- he comes home. Truck refuses to start so we charge the batteries (4 of them) with my motorcycle battery charger. Get it started and we take it to our local diesel mechanic. Was in the shop for 3 days -- warns us he's not sure if he fixed it. HUGE bill and, because of a bank problem, we have to pay by check not credit card.
  • computer works fine, but ISP doesn't -- for some reason the ISP keeps not recognizing my dial-up number. Finally, after 2 hours on the phone, my computer doesn't think I'm calling a new number everytime I connect to the internet. No bill.
  • hubby's truck smells -- he gets up one morning to find a battery leaking. Gets a new one ($200+ if you want to know) and everything seems fine. Small bill.
  • computer works, but web site missing -- a friend emails that my site is down. That was on Friday and it's still down. So I spent the weekend moving all my eBay store photos to an independent server and then revising all the listings to point to the new photos. No bill, but 3 days of work!

Now, haven't I had fun? All totalled, these two electron problems cost us about $3000, a week of driving for hubby, and 2 weeks of working time for me.

And somewhere in all this process, I'm suppose to be creating wonderful art, finishing up some portraits, doing some sculptures, and planting fruit trees. Well, the trees aren't going to get planted since I don't have the money to buy them. The sculptures are going to have to wait because I don't have time. The people waiting for the portraits are already pissed at me, so what's a bit longer? And I did do a nice burrowing owl, somehow. (Now if everyone bids huge amounts, maybe it'll pay off the bills from the last 3 weeks?)

Burrowing Owl auction

To say that I'm tired is an understatement of huge proportions! I'm mentally and emotionally exhausted. This is why, despite everything I'm suppose to be doing, I have been taking time out to draw leaves (very meditative activity) and read. I'll get thru this somehow -- I always do -- but I relly would like to take a week off and go pound on a rock.

Instead, I need to go list something else on eBay.

01 February 2007

A Few Tiny Steps Back to Normal

I'm making tiny steps back to having a functioning computer. I spent most of today trying to convince my ISP program that it was me and that I hadn't changed the access numbers. I think I have finally did it. At least I'm convinced enough that I went ahead an installed my website software and the photo editing software. Both work fine, except.... almost as naty a word as but ... I have to go thru all the website files and uncheck the read only box in properties. Once I do that, everything seems to be fine. At least it was for the web I use to create auction templates. For my web site, www.lmhornberger.com, I have to uncheck about 350 files! (Since I'm not planning on doing much website updating in the next 24 hours, I'll leave it for later.) Tomorrow, it's Mr. Scanner's turn to be introduced to Mr. Computer.

I did get an auction listed today -- because I can really use the money! It's a very detailed pencil drawing of an old Mexican lady.

I had planned on listing a series of birds from A-Z, but with the computer problems and with a couple of commissions, that plan is on hold. Besides, I'm still very tired -- okay, depressed -- and I don't really feel like doing much of anything.

As for this depression or blahs, it's a bit better. Once I get back into the habit of doing art, I'll feel better. Hopefully that will happen this weekend, although, with hubby coming home for a few days, I don't know how much artwork I'll get done.