Monday, May 27, 2013

Hello Fine Art America!

Yesterday I told you about my disappointment with Flickr's decision, and today I will tell you what it pushed me into doing. And I needed the push.

For a few months now, several of my online friends with whom I have shared pictures of my art, have urged me to begin selling some of it. At first I was very hesitant, but no one has room to keep everything you create! If I were well enough I would join some of the artists groups in the area, and certainly try to sell at the shows that are always being held.  But I am not, and I do not forsee that happening in the future. So I opened an Etsy store and began to put a few things in it. The push I got from Flickr was that I had been searching around on the Internet for more options, and found out that two of my artist friends are on a site called Fine Art America. To be honest, there are thousands of artists on this site, so why would I want to be part of something I may get lost in? The answer - marketing.

When I owned an antiques business, I learned a lot about marketing, and the more I learned and put into practice, the more my business grew. Fine Art America has numerous groups, contests and an all over site community. Hundreds of art prints are sold everyday (they post them for you to see) and it has a world wide reach. It has widgets and other things to use to promote your business. It even has been tapped to furnish art for a TV show. So, I uploaded several art pieces and some photographs. They offer different types and sizes of prints of your work, and framing options, and once a print is purchased, they will do all the work on their end. I don't have to do a thing. If I wanted to sell the actual piece, I can list it there, but obviously I would need to also handle the shipping. I name my price, they take no commission and add a markup.

So for me, it is a win-win situation. I will keep my Etsy store for the time being, since I have original art postcards and print postcards and some artwork for sale there. And then on Fine Art America I will offer a variety of original art pieces which can be made into a selection of print options by them. I have added a shopping cart widget on the right side of my blog for folks to view the variety available and perhaps purchase something; it's right under the Etsy store posting.

For me, having an illness that is as debilitating as ME/CFS, this is an excellent way for me to put my art in front of people. AND I have made one sale already! (it was one of my sisters, but it still counts!)

So Flickr really did me a favor. I was dragging my feet, a little uneasy about stepping out of my comfort zone, but when they did what they did, it made me angry enough to push myself straight out of it. I don't know if I will sell a little or a lot, but who knows that anyway? I'm just happy to be there and have an opportunity!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Goodbye Flickr

Ever since I began creating art, once I began to feel a little stronger in this illness, I have posted my completed pieces on Flickr. I made contacts there with other artists, belonged to over 70 groups and enjoyed the community and seeing what others are doing. Many of the thousands of subscribers were photographers, and many of the photos were stunning. There was a copyright in place, which made you feel a little bit better about putting things out in the open, but the truth is if someone wants something bad enough, they will find a way to take it. It was easy to upload your work, organize it and share it.

Then on May 20, the folks who run Flickr ( dropped a huge bombshell. Without warning they completely changed the site and everything that made it work well flew out the window. The user interface is horrible, it takes a great deal of trouble to track down your contacts, and the sense of community is gone. There were over 125 pages of complaints, begging for the return of the old Flickr or at least a choice for how you wanted to set up your page, and more. They made polite noises, but have not/will not do anything to accommodate users. Their goal is to attract a younger user base (their words).

After studying the situation, and waiting to calm down, I have decided that I will no longer use Flickr to post pictures of my art. I had a Pro account (which meant I paid for unlimited access) and they are going to double that amount. I am slowly taking down the pictures I have there and will not add more. They have already lost many of the photographers who have found sites elsewhere. And they are adding ads to the pages of those who do not want to pay and even if you have ad-blocking software, the viewers will still see the ads. I am heading in another direction, one I'll talk about tomorrow. It was time for a change, and I think the change I'm making is a good one! I'm just sad that I will be leaving friends I've made behind.

It will take sometime before it sifts out enough to see if Flickr pulled a boner like Netflix. But this just goes to show you that online nothing is ever good enough and can always be made better to attract more people who will give you more money - or so the thinking goes. You know the old saying, if it's not broke-don't fix it. That old maxim seems to have fallen in the dust in recent years!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Friday, May 17, 2013

New Art Cards In The Store AND A Story: The Gift

Just as I had hoped, I have now made art Note Cards for my shop BelleSouth Studio! Original Art! And yes, One Of A Kind! They would make great gifts! And they come with envelopes! Can you tell I'm excited? 
Yes, yes!

(click for details)
These are watercolor and have paper tape down the side, with some stamping on two of them.

(click for details)
These are acrylic and have numbered Gaffer tape on the side.

(click for details)
And they have paint on the back as well as the front!

Visit my store!


The Gift
(63rd in The Story Series)

Yesterday I heard a loud THUMP against one of the windows and thought a bird had flown into it. As I rose from the bed, I noticed Rochester, my golden kitty, frantically slapping his paws around in several places as he stood on his hind legs. After a few minutes, he seemed to have success in whatever he was after, and dropped to the floor. As he trotted toward me, he was mewing softly and urgently and I realized I was about to be given something.

As he came to my feet, he stopped and lowering his head, he gently placed a...... FLY before me. The Fly, realizing after a couple of seconds that he was free, took off, no doubt grateful he had escaped this furry creature. Rochester looked confused when it flew away, but received my thanks gratefully, purring loudly as I petted him and congratulated him on being the Mighty Hunter.

Later, as I was once again resting on the bed, he was at the same window, staring upward fixedly. I realized The Fly was probably there again, looking longingly at the freedom outside. Suddenly Rochester lunged, pummeling the windowpane with his paws again, and once more claimed victory by dropping to his feet and trotting toward my bed. This time he hopped up beside me to offer his gift, and the poor Fly was too injured to do anything but try to crawl madly away. Rochester kept pinning him down, taking him into his mouth and bringing him back to me. Finally a tissue dispatched The Fly and again there was confusion as to where his trophy had gone. But after he had received affection and soft words, he was happy and curled up to take a nap.

I know that is a habit of cats to bring back their kills. Our outside cat has left us mice, shrews, birds, and recently a baby bunny (I know, that was sad. He had the cutest little ears....) I'm just thankful that the inside cat has nothing bigger than the size of a fly to find in the house!

PS-I know it looks like I have no readers because I receive so few comments, but the truth is several people simply comment on Facebook. That's fine and all, I would just love to see some comments on the actual blog for others to read. (Hint, Hint)

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Few Tips

I thought I might share a couple of things that make my life easier as an artist, realizing that those who read this could possible know about these already. But, if I help someone, then I am glad I posted about them!

As most artists do from time to time, I stumble across a brush that was overlooked and had become dried up and useless. No amount of soaking it in water did any good. But, if you soak the dried up brush in a bit of Murphy Oil Soap, you will get your brush back, as supple as if it were new. I had one brush which was so hard I could use it as hammer for tacks, and after a couple of days in the Murphy's it came clean. What I usually do is pour enough of the soap into a small container, make sure the brush is covered in it, then lean the small container against the wall, with the brush standing straight up in it. After the brush starts softening, I add a bit of water, swirl the brush around in to mix well, then let it sit till it's ready to be rinsed out. I have saved a lot of money by knowing this trick! (I don't recommend this for oil paint, as you need turpentine to clean those brushes, but can guarantee it for acrylic and I'm sure it will work for watercolor as well.)

A good small brush for your nails is perfect. Just make sure the bristles aren't so stiff they take off your skin!

This is a fairly new product, and I was told at the art supply store that this came out of all those fires they had in Colorado a couple of years ago. The pines were burnt on the outside, but it was discovered that by fine grinding the pulp, it makes a marvelous soap. And I tell you what - this cleans my hands, arms, knuckles, any place which has dried paint. It is soft on your skin and has a pleasant odor. Our art supply store has a hard time keeping it in stock! It's great for a workshop or anything that gets your hands dirty or oily. Use the small nail brush with it and your hands will look wonderfully clean. And it only takes a small amount.

Also, I found out the hard way that brushes should dry flat after they have been washed, instead of standing them in a container. The water runs down into the handle of the brush and pools where the handle is coupled to the brush and loosens the glue. If they dry flat. the water never gets near that area.

There, if these helped you, I'm glad!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More Musings

I'm in a private group on Facebook, for people who suffer from invisible illnesses, most of them have what I have, some have other things, but there is much in common between us. Recently someone was writing about anger and the need to allow yourself the right to be angry (yes, it's ok to be angry sometimes - it isn't a sin. Ephesians 4:26 simply says "In your anger do not sin" - that's the rub) Anyway, I posted something which became sort of a ramble, and I thought I would share it here.

 I love spring (when it finally gets here) and yet at the same time I am reminded by the kayaks in the garage, the camper in the driveway, the weeds in my yard, the place where we were going to build an outdoor entertaining area, my old recipe books, the stuff I never unpacked after moving, the unpainted walls which are showing marks, the antiques business I had to give up, the art I cannot get done, the fact that the visit to the acupuncturist is a vacation day because I got out of the house, the places I cannot go to hike, the traveling I cannot do, the fashions I don't care about anymore, the people whom I used to know but are gone, my dogs who wonder why I never walk them
now (my husband does), and cannot play anymore with them, the nature reserve down the road where I cannot go, the pond where I cannot walk to...............I had a cry again last night, and another prayer. Grief does not come once and then it's gone. Grief visits often and comes sometimes when least expected, and I embrace it and then 
let it go. I cannot stay in it, it is not meant to be lived in. I acknowledge these losses and look for other golden moments in unexpected places - the birds I have grown to love and learn about 
which swarm all around our feeders and nest by our house, the art that I am able to get done, the time to notice the small and even large beauty around me which I was too busy to notice before. My cat's contented purr. The owl I watch when I sit on the front porch. The horses as they roll in the grass in the pasture across the road. Life is a 
patchwork quilt for me now, a mixture of anger, sadness, happiness, peace, grief, joy, loss, gain, and growth.

I do get angry sometimes, and why not, nothing in this world is as it was meant to be, but I acknowledge it and give it up to Jesus, who understands and replaces it with peace. One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17, "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing". What comfort!

Come see my latest postcards I've received on Postcards Buffet!