Monday, August 16, 2010

It's been a while. Long enough for this old place to fall down a little more. Actually it's a scene I used to drive by frequently, and one that's fairly common all over the rural south: abandoned farmhouse, an island of brush and rubble in a field, easier to plow around than erase completely. The outbuilding is now worth more than what might have been a landmark home in town.

Interesting Facebook post by a niece, a writer-in-training, who always knew what she wanted to be, chasing that dream.
She's blessed with a family that has encouraged her, even though her "Creative Writing" major doesn't fit well with the wall street business model.
I always knew I wanted to make something, that I wanted to do something creative, and it's been a tortuous journey, littered with false starts, digressions, delays and dilemmas.
Here I am, finally, selling my work.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hey stranger

Sheesh. History first:
Over a month has gone by: an outdoor art show blew me away, literally, not in a good way; I've placed a small group of my work out into the world at 5th Street Bake Shop, Reno; acceptance into the Coast Guard Art Program is a big boost. Gotta get to work on some ideas for that last.

Real world distractions and diversions, some needful, some not are my bane, the only excuse I can plead for not keeping this up, but here's a new one.

No. 50 is another Tahoe Rim Trail scene.
I came across this scene as I walked up to the basin of one of a pair of seasonal lakes. Further up the trail, you can look down at this area in a view from above this basin. The odd group of boulders in a wide expanse of smooth sand looks oddly like a giant marble game. Good thing I cached water a 1/2 mile before this point. My pack was heavier by a gallon of the precious stuff; I found the trail was dry for the next ten miles.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I promise not to beg!

On the subject of hopeless artist emails, Alan Baumberger, art consultant, lights a fire to any email asking him to 'look at my art', and hast his constructive advice: "carefully research and target your recipients, explain what's in it for them, be clear about your goals as an artist, show a little respect, and demonstrate that there's more to your agenda than you. Good luck and good day!
See the whole schmeer at
But since you're here, latest is this apple blossom and some buds, fresh off a tree in the back yard. Painted in the afternoon sun streaming through the window, the light was changing fast.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New work

Here's a new one, from my Coast Guard years. Sometimes the Coast Guard saves the people, but can't save the boat. In this case, it was the best of a bad situation when this troller lost power and drifted ashore in July, 1992. Luckily, it was a soft sandy beach, waves weren't too bad, it was in a bay, and the weather was good for a salvage. They must have pulled it loose from the sand and gotten it back afloat at high tide. I did a check online yesterday and found a listing that I think is for this vessel, still in service.

I added a couple of new galleries on the website, for some of my earlier work, and one for drawings. Earlier work has an image of my first full-on painting, and now a painting from my Coast Guard icebreaker years. In the drawings gallery, you'll see a drawing of Lake Aloha, Desolation Wilderness, from a Tahoe Rim Trail transit. More to come.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sometimes ya just have to try again

There. This one worked. The first try was a disaster, with a background that turned to mud the more I messed around with it. The first time, I tried masking out the flowers and painting the background first. This time I painted the flowers first, masked them and then washed in the background.
Masking fluid is tricky stuff. When I plan to mask a colored area, I paint it a little darker than I want the final colors. The fluid picks up some of the pigment when you peel it off. Also, you have to single stroke the fluid on, or you'll dissolve and lift even more color.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to sell bullets

Here's some ammunition I worked up for my own use, and yours too, if you like. I've gotten some good response on LinkedIn from what started as a visit to a new post asking "How do successful artists sell art?" This bullet list is chock full of familiar buzz words, condensed down from a dozen sources.

Make distinctive work - develop your brand

Determine your audience, your target market

The work you like might not be what sells. Satisfy your customers. Get a sense of who likes what and why

Listen to customers, both buyers and browsers
    learn how to present and market your work
    practice presenting and marketing your work
Create big and small items, something that appeals to everyone

Galleries and agents only show art they think they can sell.

Consider all opportunities, even if inconvenient

Use social media, coupled with a website
    Blog; Facebook; LinkedIn

Copyright work before posting online

Send out a newsletter

Find an art writer to work with you on PR and promotion

30% - 50% time spent on marketing

Or go with an agent and pay extra fees

Persistance - rejection is part of the game

Patience - learn from failure

Find the right market for your work, what sells in one venue, may gather dust somewhere else.

Think outside the box - look for new applications for your art. Possibly Corporate sales?

Start and maintain a permission marketing list. Always get a name, contact information, and notes on what they liked from those who take an interest in your work. Send them more images, notes, news.

Work in groups, collaborate with other artists, writers, poets, musicians. film directors, photographers, philosophers

Cut down on costs. The kitchen table will work until you HAVE to dedicate space.

Barter or trade your art for goods and services

Make a plan. To make your art into a business, think like a business
with short and long-term goals, operational plans, finance procedures

Create a portfolio of prints, not slides, send it out to galleries and art dealers (

Provide good-quality images of your work, and a short bio.

Design promotional materials such as business cards, postcards and catalogs for handouts or to be mailed.

Decide when you will have enough art and enough of a selection to start showing and selling your art.

Set reasonable prices, and be ready to answer how you do it.

Enter art and craft fairs, but choose wisely. Make sure your work fits, and that there isn't so much competition you are lost in the sea of work

If you must work, get a job with a flexible schedule

At art fairs, be personable. Smile. Getting to know the artist sometimes means as much to the buyer as the art.

At art fairs, learn to show your work in ways to make it appealing to potential buyers.

Talk and write about your art in ways people understand, regardless of how little or how much they know about art. This includes learning how to convince people to appreciate your art and feel like it's worth owning.

Document your work in ways to increase its appeal to potential buyers.

Decide how you will respond to criticism of your art, role-play it.

Discover where to send those press releases by raiding the resume's of all your favorite artists. Chances are that if a journalist writes about one artist, they might write about another.

Resume's are also an excellent resource for potential venues and grant opportunities.

Openings and receptions are a great way to reconnect with past clients and to meet new people, and to learn how well your work is communicating. It's disappointing for your audience to attend an opening and not have a chance to speak with the artist. Get out there and shake hands.

About a White Cat

For our local birds, squirrels and rabbits, its always a big deal when visitors look over the yard. This big white cat visited last summer. I first heard the commotion, and then noticed this guy cruising down from the far corner of the yard. I left to grab my camera. He/she disappeared behind a big juniper, reappeared for a split second up on the fence rail then disappeared yet again into the honeysuckle. It made a bit of noise pushing through, but reappeared to pop up here, with a commanding view of the area.
Local squirrels and jays reported every move.

#38, 8X5, watercolor, Strathmore 400, 140lb CP

Monday, April 5, 2010

Working Fully Loaded

I'm talking about working with a loaded brush.
Heh. Tried working with a few in me, and I don't.
Work well, that is.
However, it occurred to me that I've been using a watercolor technique that I have never seen written down anywhere. I think this was described to me one time, so I'll pass it along.

The background in these two latest, were done with fully loaded dabs of saturated color, laid wet-on-wet into the background, with a liberal amount of masking fluid to hold out the highlights.

Problem: how do you put a solid saturated area of spot color in an area of wet wash, that is bright and dense, but blends into the rest of the wash without dry edges?
It takes a little preparation, and timing.
Preparation: Mix up a really saturated load of the spot color first; Do the background wash; Clean and squeeze our your spot color brush and pick up a full brushload of spot color; lay the side of the saturated brush against a tissue, or sponge and watch as water is sucked out of the brush, just until the water is pulled down to the bristles. You are letting the tissue pull water out of the brush, while the bristles hold back the color. Keep track of this upper side, which holds the most amount of color
Timing: this could go quick, so keep an eye on your area wash; watch as the area wash dries from the glossiness of full saturation just to the start of the dull-damp stage; apply your spot color now.
I live in the desert, so the window of the dull-damp stage closes quickly, but I usually have time for a few loaded brush strokes. I've used a very fine mister to extend this time a bit.
I think opaque watercolors probably work better than tints for this technique, since grains of pigment are held back more efficiently than dyes.

Online Purchase Scams

I'm one for one: one legitimate sale, one online purchase scam.
I didn't take the bait. "Ray" wanted "Chapparal Sweet Peas" for his new resident (sic), rushing off to an overseas appointment, wanted to reconfirm my address, the painting price, wanted to send me a cashiers check directly, he'd take care of shipping and handling, blah, blah, blah.
Sounded fishy - after a bit of research it sounded like a Nigerian 419 scam, so I politely requested that he work the purchase through the website shopping cart with its Paypal link. End of inquiry.
I spread the word and received a surprising number of responses. This has been going on as long as there has been email. Here's a specific recommendation from LinkedIn Art Marketing group responder Lisa Powell, Art Consultant, Rentals & Leasing

Your instincts are correct - if it sounds like a scam, it most likely is. We've seen several similar requests, always international and we simply state that the only form of payment we approve internationally is a wire transfer.

NOTE: the only safe way to receive a wire (internationally or locally) is to open a separate DEPOSIT ONLY bank account. You're giving out your routing # and account # to anyone who will send you a wire (or ACH), so protect yourself with a separate account that only accepts deposits, not withdrawals. This way, if someone manufactures checks or tries to withdraw from this account, the bank will know its a fraud.

When you know a transfer or deposit is coming into your account, you can watch for it, wait for it to clear, then transfer it into your operating/working account. Once the money has cleared, and only then, should you ship or allow someone to pick-up your artwork.

In today's economy we get so excited when we see a new prospective client that we can let our common sense be overruled - glad you took your time and did some research!

Thanks Lisa

Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Painting today

New work up today:
Pasquotank River, N.C.

I drove by this scene frequently for years, until one evening I happened to have a camera, some time, and the right light. I have no idea what the purpose was of the little shack. Fishing? There was an awful lot of junk and rotted dock around it. It was off the end of an old pier, and the pilings in the background are of the sort used to tie off big ships, although the river itself is shallow.

An interesting discussion started today on LinkedIn, by artist William Zuback who asked, "What do you think of changing the original intent of your art for a client? See more at"
I wouldn't change an original, but I would offer a commissioned work that met the client's needs.
One responder commented that art becomes not-art, but craft when the wishes of another drive the creative process. I'm not so sure that I'd go to the wall over the issue of whether an artist must work with absolutely pure independence and integrity for that work to be pure art. What about some of the great collaborative works. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Three more

I've been working again. Three new pieces in the gallery today:
(top) Ruby Beach, Washington
(middle) Valledolid Square
(bottom) Bodie Car Lot

At Ruby Beach, the driftwood piles high above the surf line, not carted away to a woodstove somewhere, and the storms and waves wear away the rock down to tall obelisk sea stacks.

Valledolid and the Yucatan are such an interesting mix of old and new: The church is hundreds of years old, and out in the country, the people still live in palm thatched shelters, but they have satellite TV!

In Bodie State Historical Park, as part of the 'arrested decay' policy, they've put a new roof or two on some of the more in-tact structures, but these old cars still slowly settle into the landscape where their owners abandoned them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home again, home again

Ain't it great to be back when you get called away unexpectedly. Through sleet and snow, over Donner summit and through Sacramento traffic, family comes first. Now it's back to work.

And just got the stitches taken out today, result of a kitchen mishap just before the sentence above.

So we're still finishing the studio. The walls are done, with just the trim to go.

Looking at my gallery thumbnails, I'm thinking I need to adjust my standard pallette. All my dark greens seem to be a little on the cool side. I've been using a deep green made with Prussian Blue/Sepia. I may bring in Hooker Green Deep more often, or possibly try . . . something else. We'll see. You'll see. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I'm starting on a head shot I'll use as a general avatar icon.
'Way back in the day, I took a life drawing class from Sal Casa, Chico State College. Fast forward to the winter issue of Drawing magazine, and an article by Austin Williams about the charcoal figure drawings of Mark Tennant. I'm inclined to drag out my charcoal, newsprint pad, dust off what I can remember from Sal's teachings, and take a crack at doing a self-portrait.
I haven't done figures much recently, mostly landscapes. This one, "Edge of the garden, Estancia Del Mar" is fairly typical of my current work and style. I really like using texture, value and detail to suggest depth, foliage types. I tend to define the space, make it as realistic as possible.
Tennant has a different philosophy. Williams quotes him: "You have to finish in the right place; you don't have to go wall-to-wall with the whole thing," and "All the good art is about real restraint."
I don't buy that all the good art shows restraint, but I can identify with the concept of overworking a piece until all the life is rubbed out of it.
Still working on the kitchen table; trim and painting in the studio start tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back at it

We had a freak snowstorm here, lost power, internet, the works for over a day. Back online this afternoon.
Work on the studio picks up again tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blog the first

Without wandering to far into the weeds, my first attempt at a blog didn't work out too well, being a code-challenged artist with a need to get to the selling-my-art part pronto. But I got a keyboard and I'm not afraid to use it!

So here we go again. I've joined the working world of daily painters, sorta, less rather than more for the last weeks, but I've got images of a stack of small works over yonder at my website, This one is Upper Crater Meadows, John Muir Trail. Now 'deese is my kinda weeds to get lost in!

Not all are Sierra Nevada high country, some are seasidish, flowerish, wildlifish and any otherish subject that tickled my ishy fancy at the time. I've got boxes, albums, drawers full of travel photos. Likely I have enough for a year of dailies without a repeat. Stay tuned, thanks for taking a look!