An artist's journal.
Here you'll find my paintings and musings, where the featured subjects could likely cover just about anything.
The last 4+ years I've been caring for my best buddy B during his courageous fight to live through cancer and it's complications. I'm tickled to report, he's getting better and I'm finding small bits of painting time again.

Looking forward to a daily celebration of life's gifts by using the brightest, happiest colors in the box!

Visitors looking for 'B's Journey', click here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Win A Mug featuring my painting 'First Christmas'!!

Congratulations to Nichol Boyle, winner of the December Mug giveaway!!
My thanks to all of you who've become followers of this blog. You will all be eligible for all future contests as well.

A print of this painting will be featured on the December Mug giveaway.

click image for larger view

'First Christmas'
11" x 14" 
Acrylic on canvas

I'm having a Dec 1st contest for all followers of this Art Blog. 
The winner of the contest will get one of my popular Zazzle Mugs, this one featuring a print of my painting 'First Christmas'.
If you're the winner, you'll get your mug in time for the holidays, to enjoy yourself, or perhaps give as a gift.

It's so easy to enter!  
Click the blue 'Join this Site' button found in the right margin over here. ►►►
Scroll down a bit, past my artist's bio and you'll find the blue 'Join this Site' button. It's just above all the little thumbnail images of my Blog Followers so far.

Simply join this blog and be entered.
All my blog followers, old and new will be eligible.
If the drawing were held today, the odds would be 1 in 34 that you'd win, because that's my blog follower count at noon today, as I post this contest. The odds will be 1 in whatever that number is on Dec 1st.

All my Blog Followers, old and new, are eligible for all my Blog Contests.

Become a blog follower before Dec 1st, and your name will be entered in this drawing for the 'First Christmas' mug giveaway.

Remember, once a Blog Follower, you are eligible for all future contests held on this blog as well. So, join today. Keep up to date on all my latest art happenings and be entered to win free stuff now and then.

Thanks for visiting ... and good luck!
View Mug here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Win A Mug featuring 'Emma's Fireflies'!!

Hi everyone!
I'm having a Mug Contest this month. Go to FACEBOOK and like my new Millward Studios-The Fine Art of Jenna Millward Corkill  Facebook Art Page and your name will be entered in the November 1st, 2011 (next Tuesday!) drawing to win a free mug featuring my painting 'Emma's Fireflies'.  
So, click the FACEBOOK link, LIKE the PAGE, and be entered to win this mug, featuring a print of my original painting:

Congratulations to...Jason Livingstone! He won the 'Emma's Fireflies' Mug on my Facebook Art Page contest.
My thanks to the 60 folks who entered the contest by Liking my Facebook Art page.

'Emma's Fireflies' 2011

10 X 10 X 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas

Original not for sale,
but prints are available here.

click image to enlarge

I'm also having a Dec 1st Mug Contest for all Followers of this Blog. 
That Mug will feature a print of my painting 'First Christmas',
and you'll get it in time for the holidays, to enjoy yourself, or perhaps give as a gift.
All my current Blog Followers are eligible, old and new, for all my Blog Contests.
Become a new follower before Dec 1st, and your name will be entered for the 'First Christmas' mug giveaway.
I'll be having additional contests periodically for all my Blog Followers, so start following now to be eligible for all future contests as well.
(Click the blue 'Join This Site' button found in the right margin, just above all the little thumbnail images of my Blog Followers so far.)
Thanks for visiting ... and good luck!

click image
to enlarge

A print of this painting will be featured on the December Mug

'First Christmas'2004
11" x 14" 
Acrylic on canvas

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'Sometimes, you just have to let it slide'

or ...
'No sense fretting about it'
6" x 6" acrylic on canvas panel

I haven't decided if this one will be for sale or not.

Morning light filters through our window blinds on a few of Brian's guitar slides. 
(For those of you not familiar with what a guitar slide is,
Placed on your finger, you make notes by sliding it on the guitar neck. They create a very distinctive sound.
Brian's got about a dozen slides, each one unique, and I think they make cool subjects for still life paintings.

I love the reflections in the metal slide.
This painting is almost done. I still need to finish bringing the sunshine in with highlights here and there, as well as a few minor tweaks on the metal slide.
I can work on these small canvases in the house, without being too isolated from Brian while I paint, so you will probably be seeing more of these smaller works from me for a while, although I am still working on the giant canvas 'Matheson Hammock Memories' too.

"Men plan and God laughs." ... old Yiddish proverb

I started this year with a plan. To chronicle, 'A YEAR IN THE LIFE' , a year in my life as an artist, with a focused plan to grow my art business and expand my art endeavors. I looked forward to seeing where that new, more focused approach would take me.

Then, on a dime, in March, the plan changed. Brian's lymphoma returned and I had to put my 'YEAR IN THE LIFE' project, along with a whole lot of painting, on hold.

Being there for, and taking care of this man, my best friend, my husband Brian, is (happily) getting almost every bit of my attention.
So, in the spirit of this painting's title, I'm learning to let (the less important) stuff slide right now. And it's ok. It's been necessary to help me these last 6 months.
My (overgrown!) flower beds are actually pretty, in a wild untamed sort of way, and adjustments with what chores are really necessary everyday, has allowed me to still find small snippets of painting time.
Using these small canvases allows me to paint near Brian, to be close by if he needs me.

This newest Non-Hodgkins lymphoma journey has certainly had it's ups and downs.
The most recent up- the chemo is working! (as per PET scan results).
The most recent down- Brian, weak from chemo treatments, fell and broke his back last Sunday night.
Our whole journey, thus far, is chronicled on my blog page, B's journey.

Thanks for visiting.... and please consider becoming a blog follower while you're here. (Click the blue 'Join This Site' button found in the right margin just above all the little thumbnail images of blog followers so far.)
My (somewhat lofty) goal is to perhaps hit 50 followers by years end.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Matheson Hammock Memories

A peek at the process.

I found time to paint today and was able to get the sky almost done on this big canvas. It just needs some minor tweaking where the black gesso is peeking through the highly textured areas a bit too much. Otherwise, I like it. My apologies, as this photo is not very good. It was taken tonight and the colors, brushwork and texture are lost in the poor lighting. It's much prettier in person.

As I was working on this big canvas, I got to thinking about some of the beaches I used to visit in the late 1960's as a teenager growing up in Miami.

One of them was Matheson Hammock Park.  A man-made atoll on the Biscayne Bay, near my hometown of Coral Gables. It was built in the early 1930's,  a part of President Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corp that helped put unemployed men to work during the depression.
Back in the day, it was a beautiful place to spend a day at the beach. I hear it's not quite as nice now, which is too bad, but I'm painting it as if it's still in it's heyday.

The only photo I have of me as a baby, was taken at Matheson Hammock Park. I'm in the water, being held by my mom. I've always been fascinated by that photo, probably because it's my only baby pic and because my mom looks so happy. All heck broke loose in my family a few years later, and I pretty much rarely saw my mom happy again. Heck, I rarely saw my mom at all.

Reminiscence emotions got a hold of me and I decided to change the random location of my original beach painting, to this beach at Matheson Hammock Park.
I love it when I have an emotional connection to a painting I'm working on. It takes the painting experience up a notch.
This change of location meant I had to add the sea wall/sandbar and a few palm trees and I had to make the water calm. It's almost like a tidal pool at this beach. The water softly meets the sand, so the big waves I had started in my original layout had to go bye-bye.

Before I added the sandbar and trees to the canvas, I used a technique I learned from artist Robert Vickrey. He painted with egg tempera. When he wanted to add an element to one of his paintings, (such as a hat on a child) he would often place a piece of clear acetate on his (dry) canvas, painting the idea on the acetate first, to see if he liked it. He could move the acetate around, helping him with placement, perspective and such, before he actually painted the new element directly on his canvas.
He, of course, did not use the acetate on wet paint. So, if you use this idea, let whatever medium you are using dry first. Because I use acrylic paint, which we all know, dries in a nano second, I usually don't have to wait long if I want to use the acetate.

I use 3M Transparency Write-On Film. Sold in a box of 100 sheets (8.5x10.5) for about $22. Another neat thing about these sheets is they will static cling to the canvas. Just rub the sheet around on something to activate the cling. No tape needed.

Here are my trees, sketched on an acetate sheet to see if I liked the idea or not. I put the sandbar where one of the original waves was. You can see the lights in my studio shining on the acetate sheet.

The reference photo for my original beach/umbrella idea is one I created by mashing several photos together with photoshop.

I had a photo of a plain umbrella on the beach. I wanted a patterned umbrella, one of my own design, so I replaced the plain umbrella with a polka dot umbrella I found in an advertisement. Fortunately it's perspective jived pretty good with the original (plain) umbrella so it fit in nicely.
The polka dots became perspective reference points for me so I could create the patterned umbrella correctly. I wasn't worried about copyright issues using a published photo, since it was going to be SO different from the original. It was just a perspective tool for me.

 Here's the painting from my last blogpost, before I added the sandbar and trees. I'm glad the silly cartoon clouds seen here are gone now.

Brian's latest battle with lymphoma has kept me out of the studio quite a bit, so my painting updates will be sporadic for a while.
I can't wait to find a chunk of studio time again soon as I'm really having fun with this painting.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paint it Black...

or... 'Rocky Mountain Bye'
There were several things I really liked about this painting, before I gessoed the entire canvas black! 
One was the tree canopy... the leaves....  another, the black edges peeking out here and there. I liked that concept. 

One mistake I made with this painting, was tackling a new style without a reference photo on a HUGE canvas ...what was I thinking?

Whenever I changed my mind on a composition element, it was ridiculously time consuming to make the change throughout this gigantic canvas... and then my AAADD* would kick in, making painting a chore (painting should not be a chore!) 'til I finally said "enough!".

But the biggest reason (besides not having a reference photo) for starting over on this big canvas was I simply decided I didn't want a giant Colorado landscape in my living room. This painting is for our home and this canvas is meant to go back to the same area it's hung for 10 years. It's was an (unfinished) ocean scene for 3 years, and I didn't know how much I liked having a waterscape in that spot 'til it was gone. The forest was pretty, but it wasn't water.

This poor ole canvas has been gessoed over 3 times before. It's first two incarnations were colorful abstracts, then it was the simple (unfinished) sea scene. Each time I brought the Colorado landscape in from my studio to see if I liked the colors in my living room's east light, and I'd find myself wishing I'd stuck with an ocean theme. When I mentioned this to Brian, he simply said, go with your feelings. 

Wow. Duh. I couldn't get the black gesso on the canvas fast enough. (except for a few parting photos of the spots I liked). At the time I decided to gesso the whole darn thing, I was happy with most of what I'd finished on the painting... so I took photos of the parts I liked and will use those ideas in future works.

This time, with a reference photo in hand, and a whimsical patchwork umbrella idea brewing in my head, I started this giant canvas's newest life. An homage to my hometown, Coral Gables and to the beach... my ocean. I miss the ocean.

This is definitely a work in progress. The umbrellas will all be COLORFUL, the sand almost white, and I think as soon as I'm done posting this,  those silly cartoonish clouds are going to float right on out of the painting. 

I'm trying to channel a soft, old fashioned vintage post card feel with this. Wish me luck.
Thanks for visiting! ... and if you like to see what this giant canvas (finally?) ends up being, please consider becoming one of my blog followers.
*AAADD- age accentuated attention deficit disorder  :o)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

'Rocky Mountain High'

Under-painting of a work-in-progress-
3.5' x 4' Acrylic on Canvas

When I was a little girl, I loved crayons and coloring books.... I loved to color! I loved COLOR!

I spent a good deal of my childhood in a state-run orphanage. Sometimes, local charities would deliver donated toys and if those goody boxes had crayons and coloring books, and if  I was one of the lucky kids with a chance to use them, I was thrilled.

Back then, using the black crayon, I'd carefully trace all the lines of the design. Then I'd fill each area with color. Lots of color. Layered colors. This look of beautiful colors, outlined in black, has always been a favorite of mine. I think that's why I was drawn to becoming a glass artisan as well. I love the brilliantly colored glass bordered by the dark lead came outlines. Simply love it.

A few weeks ago, I decided to explore this idea a bit with paint. Bright colors, darkly outlined here and there. I had this big (3.5' x 4') canvas that I'd gessoed black. I started drawing, using the medium and dark colors of the under-painting (this image didn't capture the Prussian/ultramarine blue sky at all), to compose a Colorado mountain scene. Currently, I'm just playing with colors and shape. Once I'm satisfied with the composition, I'll start adding more colors with an emphasis on brushstrokes. I want to play with light. I want this painting to shimmer! 

I'm working top to bottom, and the bottom third of the painting, under the trees, is still unknown. I've got this vague image in my head of dappled light hitting the ground under the trees with a few flowers sprinkled here and there. I'm chasing that illusive idea, trying to capture it with paint. Right now, it's still mostly black gesso. 

So far, there are a few parts of this painting I sorta like, and if nothing else, it's given me a chance to simply play with paint. A little escape from the reality of my Brian's ongoing battle with cancer. He's sick today, so to stay close to him, I'm on the computer in the house rather than out in my studio (it's too isolated from B). Since he was diagnosed, there's been no time to blog....little time to paint. I wasn't even going to show any work-in-progress photos of this random experiment, but I've missed blogging (it's been 3 months), so what the heck. 

I'm only getting small, random chunks of time to paint, sometimes having to put my brushes away for days, at a moment's notice. With this newest experiment in style, I've been able to come back to this canvas days later and easily pick up where I left off. I need the flexibility this style is providing. It's allowing me to be paint.... and I need to paint. I don't know where this painting is going for sure, but if it ends up somewhere I don't like, there's always black gesso. In the meantime... I'm still chasing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Never take time for granted, and always, everyday, let the ones you love, know it, by your actions and your words." Jenna Millward Corkill

'Lauren and the Old Piano' 2003
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection- Tucson, AZ

This is one of three paintings I entered in this month's CFAI art challenge. Two of them star our granddaughter, Lauren.
Update 3/28- The March results are in and I didn't win, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Part of stepping outside my comfort zone this year is entering art contests and I'm doing just that. Who knows, someday, I may win one.
See all the CFAI entries submitted (including mine) here

This portrait is of three year old Lauren. She will be 16 next month, the 2nd oldest of our ten grandchildren. She is beautiful and talented young woman, who has starred in a few of my paintings. Fifteen year old Lauren is also the star of 'The Girl', a modern style portrait and another entry in the March contest. I am especially pleased that in the painting of the younger Lauren above, I was able to capture her Mom's piano and music books for posterity, as that piano is now gone and missed.

Now, on a different subject, I'm sorry to have to say, my wonderful husband, Brian, the light of my life, was told yesterday his Non-Hodgkins lymphoma has returned. 

We knew this day might come, as when they 'typed' his cancer in 2000, they told us the good news/bad news with his type of lymphoma was: 
  • Good news-it doesn't like to metastasize. 
  • Bad news-it was a persistent type that almost always comes back. 
The docs were hoping he would get 10-12 years of remission, saying that with the advances in cancer care, if/when it came back, they would have new medicines to fight it with. We got 11 years remission.

So begins another journey.

I'm not sure how much time I'll get to paint or post, but I hope I'll be able to find time to do both. I hope through this blog, to chronicle another success story for him. He has been my Superman, fighting cancer (twice) and heart disease this past decade, with courage, determination and grace. We've had three miracles and now pray for another. If any of you speak regularly with your higher power, please put in a good word for my/our Brian.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

'Strawberry Roan' 2005
24 X 24 X 1.5" 
Acrylic on canvas
Wingate collection, Tucson AZ
This is 'Shortcake, the strawberry roan'  ©. She is one of 3 horses I created in 2005. She, along with 'LaLa, the appaloosa' ©, and 'Firefly, the grey Chincoteague' ©, have always shown up in my equine paintings since then. They are the horses I never got to have as a kid.

Today I seem to be stuck. Mired. Motionless. Blocked. I simply can't paint a thing I like and I'm pretty sure I know why. Today I find myself caught up in the dreaded comparison trap. 

"You shouldn't compare yourself to the best that others do." unknown

That's the first line from 55a note I posted on my 56th birthday summing up some of life's lessons that I've learned while having the privilege of spending 5.5 decades living on this marvelous/perilous planet!

You shouldn't compare yourself to the best that others do

I find that if I start to compare my paintings with the work of those artists that I'm most in awe of,  I open the door and invite in for a spell, one of an artist's worst enemies, the self-doubt monster. And while he's visiting, his influence on my painting is paralyzing. The faster I show him the door, the better. By allowing myself to be inspired, not intimidated, by the the work of my favorite artists, I come away lighter, free to let myself explore where I fit into the big picture.

How boring if all artists painted exactly alike. I have a friend whose paintings hang all over her own house. She does beautiful landscapes. But her palette rarely changes, her style stays consistent. While I'm visiting, I find myself looking for that one painting that's a bit different. Her paintings, when hung with other artist's, stand out. But walls and walls of just her stuff leaves me searching for something.

In this big old art gallery of a world, there's plenty of room on the walls for all of us. Explore! Learn from others. Be inspired by others, but be careful not to put out your creative fire by comparing your work to the best of the best.  We all have something to offer!

Ahhh..sometimes, just putting things into words helps. So now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a monster who needs to be shown the door.

Monday, February 7, 2011

'Autumn Rooster' 2005
18 X 24 X 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas
McCourt collection- Boulder, CO

Janie, the owner of this little rooster painting, called me today to let me know he was the star of a party she'd had recently. Asking me if I had any other barnyard critter paintings in the works, she reminded me of several ideas I've got along those lines. Thanks Janie. Great hearing from you my friend!

click image to enlarge

A YEAR IN THE LIFEJanuary recap and progress report

I spent this first month going full steam ahead on this one year project to introduce myself to the online art community. There was way too much time spent at my computer, rather than my easel, and that was a bit disconcerting. I kept having this nagging thought that I was building a beautiful store, but with little time spent painting, the shelves were going to be quite bare. Then I would remind myself that every bit of  what I was doing was important to the larger picture, so I stayed to task. Now as I do my January recap, I realize I really did accomplished quite a bit. I know my YEAR IN THE LIFE project kept me going in the right direction and I did finish two paintings.

My list of online to-do's was extensive. After all, this was the first month of my journey. Many of the things on my to-do list, once established, will require minimal upkeep, but the process of setting things up does take a good chunk of time. I was pleased to discover I have some pretty good instincts and was already applying some basic fundamentals to my blog and art marketing.

So, here's a recap of what I accomplished this first month. Blog building, using the How To Create an Insanely Popular Blog for Your Art broadcast, was the focus for January. My goals to tidy up this blog, as well as build a new blog for my 'The Daily Painters of Arizona' endeavors were among the things I completed. I also:
  • Launched my YEAR IN THE LIFE chronicle here, posting Part 1 and  Part 2.
  • Joined and started posting on 'The Daily Painters of Arizona' blog~ for this I created a second artblog dedicated to posting only on DPOA. Probably spent more time than I should have on the header for this blog, but I liked the way it came out. And I learned a few more photoshop skills along the way, so the time was well spent. See this new blog by clicking here.
  • Redesigned this blog~ Wow! This took a big chunk of time, but blog-building was this month's focus. I changed templates, creating a customized version of 'Watermark'. I also played around with a new header for this blog, and although I'm still not crazy about it, it'll have to do for now.
  • Created a Zazzle store and an Imagekind store for my paintings. 
  • De-cluttered and organized my blog's margins. I got rid of outdated links and added links that are currently relevant for me, such as links to my newly created Zazzle store that sells greeting cards, mugs and totes with images of my artwork on them and my Imagekind store, where prints of my paintings are available with a variety of sizes and options.
  • Became a professional member of Contemporary Fine Arts International. I had to write and send a bio of myself along with 15+ images of  paintings for my Artist Page found on their website. All the images needed resizing before I could send them (more photoshop time), but writing the bio was the hardest thing for me. I waited 'til the morning it was due to write it and I'm sure a few months down the road, I'll be wondering what the heck was I thinking when I wrote it. But it is what it is for now.
  • I also entered 3 paintings in the CFAI  monthly painting challenge. This is a first for me! These are all archived works, but were relevant to this month's challenge theme, FRIENDSHIP. See all the paintings (including mine) submitted here. Submitting art to be judged is not as scary as I thought it would be. The results of this competition won't be announced until early March. I've got my fingers crossed.
  • Had some success with my blog building adventures, increasing my blog followers 20% this month.I'm at 25 now. I am also timidly approaching a few other artists who's blogs I love, asking if they might consider adding my blog to their blogroll lists. I am surprised and delighted by the friendly reception I'm receiving. My humble thanks to Carol Nelson, Dana Cooper, Jennifer Woodburn, Lisa Walsh , Carol Schiff and Gwen Bell.
  • Speaking of blogrolls, I expanded and improved mine, adding more great artists. I've also added links to some fun Art Challenges I've found online. My plan is to also add links to suppliers and art resources as I put together my lists of companies I love doing business with.
  • I only completed two paintings, but did play around on a few others. I organized and cleaned my studio, and I created a new still-life staging area, that's going to be great for my daily paintings of everyday stuff. Yippeee!
  • "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans" - John Lennon ~A lot of life stuff went on in January, including two of our granddaughters' birthdays. I read a book. I gardened (well, I cleaned up my garden after a pack of javelinas tore it up). And, I spent almost a week paralyzed, watching, along with the rest of the country, the events unfold here in my beloved Tucson, after a madman went on a shooting rampage. Read my related blogpost. 
When I started A YEAR IN THE LIFE, I thought I'd be covering two radio broadcasts a month. Well, I can already tell that's not a pace I'll be keeping up with. I spent way too much time away from my hubby and my painting this first month. Time spent applying what I'm learning from each broadcast to my own endeavors, as well as keeping up to date with the chronicle, is a bit much. Instead, I'll cover one broadcast a month, relevant to what's next on my list of things I need to do. 

Website building is on my list for February. My website is self-built, and embarrassing. I hope to find the resources I need for building an affordable website I can be proud of through Artists Helping Artists. I especially need to have a gallery to display my available (and sold) paintings. Do any of you artists out there have any recommendations for a Fine Art website builder? I could sure use some suggestions for a good one, or warnings if you've had a bad experiences with a bad one. Oh, and I need to be able to post and edit my new paintings myself as needed, so it needs to be somewhat user friendly. (I do have a grasp of html and css)

Once again, thanks for visiting....and happy painting!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Emma's Fireflies" 2011
10 X 10 X 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas

Original not for sale,
but prints are available here.

click image to enlarge

Yesterday, our oldest granddaughter turned 17.  An amazing, gifted singer, songwriter, piano and guitar player, she already 'glows'. She likes fireflies, so I decided to do a little painting for her birthday. As grandparents, we love to pass on words of wisdom to our grandchildren and I feel that through this painting that I will be able to 'speak' to her for many years to come.

I'm making prints to give to my other 6 granddaughters. If there's someone in your life you think would also like to have one of these, you can ORDER PRINTS HERE  through Imagekind. I also have matted, signed prints of this painting available by contacting me directly HERE . This painting is also available HERE on mugs, greeting cards and totes through Zazzle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

'Red Sentinels' January  2011
20 x 24 x 3/4

From my Tall Trees Series.  Highly textured tall trees with many layers of glazed colors, this style has  been a favorite for my collectors for years. I've done these trees in many  different colors, including greens, golds, rusts and reds. I think this latest warm red version has a rich, Old World look and feel.

Dawson Collection, Tucson, AZ

Here's  the canvas during the texture phase. Trees are loaded with texture and there is a subtle fern-like texture throughout the canvas.  Glazes of color are added a layer at a time. This one has rusty, warm red tones. The gloss finish really highlights the texture, especially the fern relief. Camera isn't doing this one justice.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

'Hooked' 2005
18" x 24" x 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas 
Smith collection- Iowa City, IA

Thanks to my cousin Tom Hapgood for the awesome black and white reference photo of this old hook in Chad's Ford, PA.

Click image to enlarge.

Joining The Daily Painters of Arizona meant creating a separate blog dedicated to art posts only. With that in mind, I was looking for ways to make the blogging experience better for my visitors. An entertaining, informative, less cluttered, more functional, pleasant blog experience. One that will develop a good following with visitors who are also willing to leave a comment or two now and then. We art bloggers gotta admit, we love comments. They help us know we've found an audience who likes what we're doing.

So, I went to my trusty new friend, Artists Helping Artists, and found just the show to help me tidy up my blog sites. Originally aired on 4/22/2010 I found Leslie Saeta and Dreama Tolle Perry's broadcast,  How To Create an Insanely Popular Blog for Your Art. That sounded like just the ticket, so I grabbed my java and my notebook and started listening. Fun and informative! What a nice group of artists! An hour well spent!

I found tons of good ideas for improving the overall appearance, feel and functionality of your blog. ( If you have an hour, I encourage you to listen to the broadcast). In the meantime, here are the highlights. I've already started applying these suggestions, and I'm liking the results:
  • Look at your blog as if it's your very first visit.
  • Put beauty in your blog- include photos of your art. Use consistency in style and post format. Put your art photos in the same spot on each post. Make return visitors feel comfortable.
  • Talk to your audience through your blog. Your audience will probably include other artists, collectors, friends and family. Talk about your feelings, your passions, and opinions. Be yourself. Let people know what you're thinking.
  • Art is an emotional buy, so tell stories about your paintings. Use humor whenever possible. People like to chuckle.
  • Use a creative, intriguing blog post title/headline to draw your visitors in from other sites.
  • Revisit and simplify your blog's sidebars with a new eye now and then. What may have been relevant 6 months ago may not be anymore. De-clutter. Simplify.
  • Review other blogs you like. What do you like about them? Would these ideas work for your blog? Are they using widgets and gadgets you like that you could apply to your blog? Mentioned on this broadcast was the 'Link Within' widget. At the bottom of every new post this widget shows 3 links with photos to archived posts from your blog. Great way to increase visibility of past work.
  • Make your blog easy to navigate. Use labels, and links, that can take you to and fro whenever possible. Make it easy to return home to your blog from your other sites.
  • Use keywords to increase your web search engine visibility.
  • Add links to your blog. To other artists, galleries and the art suppliers you love.
  • Share the great tips, ideas and art secrets you've learned. I've provided a link on my sidebar taking visitors to my blog page how I keep those small, unruly canvases in place while I'm painting.
  • Edit your posts. Give the maximum amount of info with the least amount of words. (Ahhhh, I need to work on this.)  :O)
  • Have a contest. Give something away. Notecards or a mug featuring your art, or perhaps a print of one of your paintings.
  • Use Facebook and other social media to promote your blog.
  • Ask to be linked to other artist's blogs.
  • Leave comments on other blogs.
  • Visit other non artist blogs and sites that relate to your subject matter. I paint VW vans quite a bit, so I'm going to visit a few sites where other VW enthusiasts like myself hang, let them know I'm always looking for neat photos and invite them to send me a photo from one of their van adventures. Offer a free print if you use their photo for a painting. Or maybe they'll want to buy the original.
  • Add your blog's URL to your business cards. Mentioned on this broadcast was Vista Print, where you can get 250 free business cards online. They have quite a few freebies on their site. I'm going to order the free business cards using an image of one of my paintings as the background.
Comments on our blog posts are a way to help us know we're connecting with our audience.
Here are the highlights of the ideas and tips they mentioned to help get the comments flowing:
  • Make it easy to comment. Make sure you enable comments through blogger. It's easy to do and the settings will still let you filter SPAM. None of us like that mystery meat showing up unannounced! Enable email notification to yourself when a comment's been left so you can respond in a timely, courteous manner.
  • Find a few blogging buddies willing to comment with some regularity on your blog. They'll help break the ice for those who don't want to be the first to comment.
  • Ask a question.  How does the painting make them feel? What do they like about it?
  • Ask for suggestions. Encourage. Suggest they share their own story.
  • Ask people to help you name a painting.
  • And last, but not least, acknowledge all comments left on your blog posts. Show gratitude for comments left. Say thank-you.
Well, that's all for this installment of A YEAR IN THE LIFE. I'll fill you in along the way on how these tips are working for me. One positive sign would be an increase in my blog followers numbers (currently at 20), and more comments of course (currently about 1 or 2 a post).

Let me know if you like this chronicle along the way. Any ideas for making it better? Any idea that's worked for you on your own blog that I didn't mention? If you've been here before and can see the changes taking shape, let me know what you think of the new look... oh, and.... ahhh, leave a comment if you'd like! :O) ...thanks for visiting!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tucson's tragedy

'Shortcake and Jen' 2005
24" x 24" x 1.5"
Acrylic on canvas 
Walker collection- Ruffin, NC

click image to enlarge

I love my Tucson. I have lived here since I was 17 years old. 40 years this December.

Because of last week's Tucson tragedy, I won't be posting the second installment of 'A YEAR IN THE LIFE' quite yet.

The events that occurred here, a week ago today, have caught me so off guard, I've just been sort of going through the motions all week.

Our granddaughter's 11th birthday party was scheduled for that same day. While the kids played at the local pizza place, the adults' attentions were fixated on the TV screens mounted everywhere. It was surreal. In this noisy pizza arena, surrounded by dozens of simultaneous celebrations of life, we learned that one of the victims was a 9 year old little girl. Surreal...and so incredibly sad.

A word about our town. We are a vibrant, eclectic mix of cowboys, college kids, retirees, young military families and everything in between. And, we are the biggest small town you could ever live in. There's not even 6 degrees of separation here. I'd say about 3 at the most. Everyone here really does know someone who knows someone.

I hope my Tucson isn't to be remembered just for this horrible crime, but also for our wonderful townsfolk who showed us their amazing courage, their decency and the resilience of the human soul. We will never forget the victims, the survivors or the heroes.

We stand strong and proud of our city, bent by this forceful wind of crime, but not broken.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

 Click image to enlarge

A New Year, replete with the promise of New Adventures!

...especially for this shy, hermit-like, self taught artist.

The last few months of 2010 have presented me with new opportunities I hadn't dreamed of. Artist Laurie Justus Pace invited me to join The Daily Painters of Arizona, for whom I'll be posting art weekly, and  Contemporary Fine Art International (CFAI), a fabulous group of artists.

Also in late 2010, while visiting the blogs of a dozen or so other artists, not only did I discover a wonderful world of online art, but these artist's refreshing insight and helpful hints as they chronicled their own painting adventures were entertaining, delightful and informative. I also discovered Leslie Saeta and Dreama Tolle Perry's weekly radio show chock full of valuable information to help other artists, appropriately titled Artists helping Artists.

As I was listening to one of the broadcasts, thinking about how I might apply what I was learning to my own artistic endeavors, I had an idea. Let me use their sage advice for a year and see where it takes me. That said, I've decided to launch 'A YEAR IN THE LIFE', a one year chronicle (2011) of this non business savvy, extremely shy, *AAADD afflicted artist's journey. Using guidelines, links and suggestions found on the weekly radio show 'Artists Helping Artists', and applying the vast array of information found there, I hope to step outside the comfort zone of my cozy studio and explore the world. 

From each broadcast, I'll take notes, creating a list of weekly/monthly goals to apply to my own art endeavors. Then, I'll keep you up to date, through this blog, on my successes as I go along.

How much growth can I achieve, artistically and personally? Can I increase my number of blog followers each week? Will my name recognition increase? Will I continue to grow my art sales, both online and locally? What successes will my January 2012 recap reveal?

Drop in now and then and follow my progress. I'll be sharing all the neat stuff I find.

So here I go!
From the Artists Helping Artists  radio broadcast on 12/30/2010  - "Goals for 2011"

This show appropriately dealt with setting goals for 2011. It was the last show in a 5 week series on goal setting. There are many archived shows I haven't listened to yet, but plan to catch up on as soon as possible. I encourage all of you to check out these archived shows, conveniently found on their Artists Helping Artists blog.

Pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew, and get ready to learn. I'm taking notes and sharing what I'm learning. I'm not going to stick to any particular order of broadcasts, but rather, refer to their list of archived shows, and listen to what show will work best for me at the time.You'll be able follow my progress here on my 'YEAR IN THE LIFE' chronicle.

Now, as Leslie and Dreama, suggested, I'm sharing my list of:

2011 Art Goals:
  • paint daily (explore new subjects)
  • expand and create new 'series' works
  • paint ahead (for my weekly posts on Daily Painters of Arizona)
  • blog weekly (I'd actually like to blog bi-weekly, but we'll see)
  • build my blog followers (currently at 18, can I hit 50 this year?)
  • improve my portraiture website (it's embarrassing) 
  • increase painting sales (list one painting a week minimum)
  • build a client email list
  • enter a painting competition (a first for me)
  • enter one local exhibition (another first for me) 
  • organize my studio (minimize the studio space my artglass uses)
  • continue to add helpful resource links for other artists through this blog (how to, where to, etc)
There is wonderful calm that I have found as I've gotten older. My fears seem to be melting and instead of being afraid of how my paintings will be received, I'm excited at the prospect of sharing my paintings and hearing what others have to say.
I have found that there are many things that make me happy, but painting is one of those things that makes me happiest.

This new recipe of  2011 Art Goals sprinkled with a pinch of new found confidence, hold the shyness, has the potential for making 2011 a truly HAPPY New Year!

*AAADD-Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder :O)
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"There are days when I feel I could've painted the Sistine Chapel and, then, there are the days when I'm not sure I could trace a stick figure.... the only difference between these days is my state of mind"~ Jenna Millward Corkill