30 December 2006

Contests and Awards on eBay

Despite my best intentions of writing some each day, I blew it. Actually, part of the problem yesterday and the day before was that I was working until about 7pm and then I was hungry so I ate rather than write. Hey, my stomach comes first!!!

I'd show you all what I was working on but I'm too lazy to scan the new paintings in. I've got 4 new paintings done, so that's a lot of scanning, tweaking, and uploading. I need to work on my web site tomorrow so I'll do them then.

Also, tomorrow is the last day to enter another contest sponsored by another eBay group. I think just about every group has some kind of contest. Usually the winner is the one with the highest number of bidders. This contest is by the Professional Animal Artists On line (PAAO). Since I can start the bidding at any amount, I don't have to worry about a nice piece going for $3 (like my Nibblefest one did this month). Also, since critters are one of my main areas, this contest fits in nicely and gets me out of my cat/horse rut. The theme was animals which begin with "T", so I did a turnstone (shore bird) and am working on a trout.

Okay, the real reason I'm doing this contest is to get my fellow artists to notice my work so that next year, I get nominated for the Artist Choice Awards. See, I know those awards are meaningless -- an unmitigated popularity contest. Unfortunately, the general public doesn't seem to know this and people that winner have better sales. So, one project for this year is to "be nice" in this animal group and hopefully I'll get a nomination for next year. I may have to join another animal group just to be sure. It's not something I enjoy doing, but this how the eBay game is played.

Maybe I should make my own group and hand out my own awards???

26 December 2006

Boxing Day Update

Happy Boxing Day!!!

I'm finally getting back into the swing of things, after hubby has left. While there was a holiday, I just kept plugging away, trying to get some portraits done. And getting new things for eBay. And beginning some new major projects. Besides, like I said last time, I'll celebrate Christmas when hubby gets home. Hopefully, I'll have his present finished by then!

One of the new projects I'm starting on is returning to sculpture. While I do enjoy most portraits and I have fun doing the little paintings for eBay, neither is artistically satisfying. They are great in terms of building skills, but not in terms of creating deep, meaningful work for different reasons.

The problem with the portraits is that I do them from photos that I don't take. If I was in charge of taking the photo and could do some non-traditional poses and I had total freedom on how the portrait was done,... well, I'd be getting $800 for a pencil portrait and not $80! As it is, I basically draw the photo. I hate to say this, but it's almost mechanical.

Then there's eBay. Since I'm getting a minimum return on eBay for my efforts, I can't really spend 3 or 4 days working on one piece. Don't get me wrong, eBay has been a blessing and I'm still planning on listing stuff almost daily, but it has limitations. And one limitation is that people want bargains and will not pay a fair price for most artwork. (This problem was created in part by the artists themselves.) So, if I do a wonderful piece that took me 4 days to do, I really can't list it at $250 and expect it to sell immediately. Maybe it will in a few months, or maybe it won't. With a few exceptions, most art sells for $20-60. Until I become one of those exceptions, I can't afford to spend days on one piece and get only $50 for it.

So, I'm going to keep doing the portraits and eBay, but I'm also going to work on some wood sculpture. Besides the fact that I enjoy carving, I settled on the sculpture because it's something that is not commonly seen either in galleries or in art shows. Painters are a dime a dozen, but wood sculptors are exceedingly rare, so my work should stand out and I should have it a bit easier getting into shows and galleries.

The only problem with my plan is that my garage is cold! I plan to do most of the carving out there, because of the dust, but it's unheated and I'm a weather wimp! So, until the weather warms up, I making sketches and planning pieces. I'm still not sure whether to do realistic or abstract pieces as I like both -- or even if I have to choose.

This means that I'll have even less time to do "other" stuff. Okay, it really means that I need to stop playing solitaire on this computer and stop lingering over my coffee in the morning. What I need is a personal assistant. Any volunteers?

21 December 2006

Back to Work

Well, it's been a long time since I wrote anything, so I'm not sure what I have said or not. Okay, I'm too lazy to read my blog!

Let's see. I did finish up the 4 portraits that I needed to get done by Christmas. Everyone was very pleased with them and I'm kind of anxious to hear about the recipents' reactions. Here's a scan of the fourth one, which I think is the only one I haven't posted.

I'm rather pleased with all four portraits. And I'm especially pleased that I got them done with time to spare!

As for the fifth portrait that I thought I was going to do, well, it never did materialize. I was joking with my husband that the photo would appear on my doorstep on the 15th only to have the mailman leave a large flat envelop on my door. It turned out to be junk mail!

Speaking of hubby, he was home for over a week. He actually just left yesterday. As I had said, his side window in his truck had been shot out. Also, on the way home, his windshield was hit by a rock and a crack began to run across it. So, we had to replace his front windshield. Then we had the side one replaced, but first we had to wait for the tempered smoked glass to appear. Then we had to wait for the glue to cure -- this took twice as long as normal since we've been having highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s.

But we had a good time when he was home. The highlight was that we cooked a huge Thanksgiving dinner! I know the rest of the country is working on Christmas, but we are a bit behind on the holidays. He'll be home in early January and then we'll have Christmas!

Needless to say, I haven't had much time (with hubby home) to do art and I'm anxious to get back to work. Today was the first day back and I made some progress. I worked on two oil portraits in the morning. And this afternoon, I did this bird painting:

I was thinking about listing it today, but I decided that Christmas weekend isn't the best of time. So, I'll probably just list it on Sunday or Monday. There's no point in "wasting" a good painting and having no real chance of a bidding war!

In the middle of all this I started restocking my eBay store. I'd like to have about 50 items in there at all times. I still haven't figured out what to do with pieces that have been in there for a number of months with little interest. I hate to take things out because the search engines have found most of the items in my store and I have no real alternative venues for these items.

Well, I suppose I should go and get to work on my supper. I'm still working on leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast (Tofurky roast), but I need to make another salad.

05 December 2006

Yep, Another One

It's been a long day.

I'm working on another composite portrait -- 3 photos into one glorious portrait. It's really not easy to get the three heads roughly the right sizes. I've drawn and redrawn them several times and I think I finally have it. So, I'm letting it sit over night and hopefully it'll be fine tomorrow morning.

Once I got too frustrated to work on it, I switched over to another portrait. Another trio but this is from one photo. That is just so much easier!

And speaking of trios, here's the other one I got done the other day.

I still haven't heard back from the client on this one. She and I have a communication problem -- her computer doesn't like my emails with photos, so I'm posting this here and then will call her. (Hmm, hope it's not too late -- I forget what time zone she's in!)

04 December 2006

Portraits R Us

I know I should be writing more often but I had a miserable weekend. One of my typical up and down rollercoaster rides.

It all started when hubby had a window shot out of his truck while driving thru Alabama. Other than having to try to get it replaced for less than $800, I thought it was more of an annoyance than anything major. (Okay, he'd be cold and if it rained, his bed would get wet, but nothing life-threatening.) Wrong! On Saturday, he calls up somewhat panicked because he can hardly breath and he had a hard time climbing in and out of his truck. Now, hubby had smoked for years and then quit. We know he's got some lung damage as he can't walk terribly quickly for long stretches. But this sudden development wasn't good as he really couldn't continue driving the truck and maybe not even living. And being the selfish person that I am, I figured my comfortable life was over as there's no way I can make $2400/month from my art as it now stands. I'd have to bite the bullet, quit the art, and go get a teaching certificate in math. I was depressed and upset. Then it dawned on me since he was also complaining of a headache and slight fever -- carbon monoxide poisoning! I finally got him to thoroughly tarp and tape the opening. The next morning, he was fine.

Needless to say this how episode really shook me up. The bottom line is that I'm going to continue with the art for the foreseeable future, but I'm also going to explore freelance illustration and I'm going to work on the math teaching certificate (including doing some substitute teaching). I now know how much I want to do this and I will do it to my fullest ability. I have some ideas on what to do, but first I do need to get all these portraits done.

To that end, here are 2 of the latest:

This is Hayley. I've done her brother and her dog, plus I'm working on another of the family's dogs right now. It was a fun portrait to do, but I do admit that blonde hair and fair complexion is a real challenge -- the details are so delicate.

This is Larry and Ericka. I really enjoyed working on this portrait as the contrasts between the dark skin and clothes and the light skin and clothes was a challenge to balance. This is also a composite portrait -- I created it from two separate photos of the two youngsters. The trick with combining two photos is to adjust the lighting and getting the faces the right sizes. Just for the record, both are adults now and this is Larry's Christmas present.

I also have another portrait done, but I'm waiting for the client to approve of it before I post it here. So, there's only 2 more pencil portraits to finish by 15 Dec. With some luck, they will be done by the end of the week. Then I can finish up 2 oils and 2 soft pastels, and start on another two oils. Maybe I'll get these done by 1 Jan, which is what I'm shooting for. In any case, after the two pencil portraits are done, I can go back to splitting my time between portraits and stuff for eBay.

So much to do!