Friday, November 27, 2009

Portrait of a Lady

8.5" x 11"
Acrylic on Board
2009

My friends have become accustomed to me pulling out my phone and taking candid pictures of them. Little do they realize I totally intend on painting from some of them. I thought this one was fun because a few hours after painting it, the subject herself came over for dinner.

Heh. These are fun exercises to keep my eyes and hand limbered up. More to come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part 6)

Hmmm. No illustration for this part, honestly, I've struggled with how much I could possibly capture with this post. I think I will have to break it up. This is almost its own mini series within the series. This is where I start talking about a huge shift in my artistic journey. The part where someone took me seriously and I in turn started to take myself and my art seriously.

When I was 10 years old, my family moved to British Columbia. I spent grade 5 in a new school with not too many friends, feeling out of place with my schooling (way ahead in french, way behind in other stuff). I wasn't unhappy, but I definitely was not at home.

My teacher noticed that I had decent drawing skills and a passion for creating art. She recommended that my mother check out a newly opened school in the adjacent town, Fort Langley. My mother made some inquires and found out that they would be having a first come first serve sign up to reserve a spot for the following year, should any come available.

My mother then made a choice that changed my life. She was early. So early, she slept overnight in a gym with a bunch of other hopeful parents. She signed up for the first Grade 6 spot on the list. A few weeks later, we found out that one spot had opened up unexpectedly. I had made it in!

Langley Fine Arts School became the start to my evolution from a cartoon drawing child to where I am now, I honestly can say that without this experience, I doubt I would be where I am today. I almost doubt I would be an artist at all. (Thanks mom!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Painting Studies: 3 Koi

Koi Study 1
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

Koi Study 2
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

Koi Study 3
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

These were in response to the three crow paintings I did. I enjoyed so much the dramatic deep pigment against a light background, I felt like experimenting with juicy brights against a dark background.

I like the results quite a bit here. They will be available at my Art Show and Sale this weekend in Calgary.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Painting Studies: 3 Crows


Crow Study 1
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009


Crow Study 2
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

Crow Study 3
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

These little studies came about after I did a fabulous swap with a good friend of mine, Cheryl Bakke Martin. She requested a small crow painting in exchange for a beautiful bracelet (which is now my favorite piece that I own - Thank you, C.!)

I thought about what I wanted to do for a few days, and this is what I came up with - I figured I would do a few poses so that she would have the luxury of picking her favorite and it gave me a chance to really flex my brushwork muscles.

One thing that my friend and I have in common is a love of a "loose feel" to the brush strokes in a painting. I really wanted to achieve that here. In a recent painting, I had so much fun painting the black feathers in the hat, I thought I would go in that direction.

Basically, once I had the composition mapped out on these little paintings, my prime goal was to lay my angled brush and "push off" to make clear deliniations on the light background. I love how they are reminiscent of Rorschach tests - striking black blots on a light page. I really enjoyed this exercise.

After my friend chooses her favorite, the rest will be taken to my next endeavor:

Artisan Show and Sale
Saturday, November 21st, 2009
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
4 Varmoor Pl NW, Calgary, AB, Canada

Monday, November 09, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part five)


This is my childhood understanding of history.

When I was in elementary school, we used to walk home to eat lunch. My sister and I would make the trek quickly in order to have lunch heated up early enough to be able to watch the Flintstones on a tiny black and white TV.

This TV puzzled me quite a bit, my mother told me that it was old fashioned, so that is why it was black and white. I knew that old movies as well as photographs were also in black and white. At some point in time, colour photography and movies came into existence, in my mind a long, long time ago. I knew my mother and father were old enough to remember this change.

I then reasoned that it wasn't actually photographs and movies, but everything was in black and white. My thoughts felt nice and complete with this theory, so I never asked about it, I just assumed that is how it worked - I figured that film always captured what it saw.

One day I was looking through some things on a bookshelf. I found this tiny leather bound book that was encased in a zipper, it was a Holy Bible. I knew this book was my mothers and that it was somehow special. Now, not being a particularly religious family, my only indication that this was a unique treasure is that my mother stored locks of her children's toddler haircuts, wrapped in plastic inside this little book.

I can remember being quite curious, I knew that Bibles were supposed to be old. Old from when God made the world (again, it never occurred to me that this book I had on my lap was not almost 2000 years old but a reprinted translation) I opened up the book and noticed something right away....

This old book had colour pictures. I can remember being fixated on a picture of Adam naming the animals. I can remember the classic Anglo Saxon depictions of Jesus. All in colour. This threw me off a little.

After I replaced the locks of hair and zipped up the book and returned it to the shelf, I started pondering this schism to my theory.

A few days or weeks later, it hit me. That must have been what they meant by the Dark Ages. All the colour was lost in the world. I also figured it had something to do with Jesus dying. Then, at some point in time for some unknown reason, colour returned a few years after my parents were born.

Simple. (I believed that for a few years too)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Painting: Steampunk


Steampunk
12" x 18"
Acrylic on Canvas
2009

I haven't forgotten about my story - I have finally had a chance to upload some images, so I figured I would share this painting I completed some weeks ago. This is a friend of mine who has the most visually articulate look I know. Her clothing and make-up are works of art in their own right. I am so fortunate that she let me capture her unique beauty! Thanks, D!

Monday, November 02, 2009

We Now Interrupt This Story For An Important Message....


My local Artist Group and I are having a Christmas Show and Sale next weekend. We are transforming a home into a showcase of all of our wares! Please join us for some demos, treats and beautiful artwork! We really hope to see you there.
Saturday November 7th 2009
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
44 Sprucegrove Cres.
Airdrie, AB

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part four)


Those little lines. Concentric shapes stacked one inside the other like a Matryoshka doll. This element of detail came from my mother.

I can remember sitting in my livingroom on the loveseat with my mother. She was showing me something to draw. I know now that she was trying to buy a moment of peace. Little did she know she was giving me a background fabric to many of my paintings.

She took out a thin piece of paper and drew a heart. Then, inside that, she drew another. Another. Another. Another. Smaller and smaller the hearts neatly bordered by the prior one. Finally ending when the space was too small to draw another. She had my attention there.

She blew my mind when she went back to the original and drew a larger heart encompassing the whole thing. Then another and another and another. This prospect of infinity really attracted me. It reminds me of the Droste effect - I had a colouring book whose cover fascinated me. It featured a duck wearing rain boots. In one hand it held an umbrella, in the other it held a colouring book featuring an identical duck with an umbrella, books and colouring book with an identical duck, and so on, ad infinitum.

Then my mother switched gears and drew a loose organic shape, like a bubble wobbling in the air or an amoeba. She did the same thing as before, filling the interior up with tinier versions. Then she drew another shape beside the orignal, touching and conforming to it on one side. She filled it in as well. She continued, filling the paper with these shapes, all of them neatly fitting together like a puzzle.

She handed the pencil over to me and indicated that it was my job to complete this important task of covering all the blank areas with these undulating shapes. I took to the task with pleasure.

I think the peace I get from doing these shapes must be similar to knitting or other repetitive activities. I use that time to think and relax. I like how you can fill a space with these shapes and it reads as a grey, but is really black and white that the eye fuzzes together.

From that point onward, I have used this detail in many sketches and paintings - a simple gift from my mother.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part three)


When I was around 7 years old, I discovered something that absolutely rocked my world. Having recently mastered reading, I was starting to feel a little more confident with navigating out of the board books in the local library.

I didn't understand the Dewey Decimal system, so when I found this treasure I had to remember the row and rack from where they came. To this day, I am haunted by one of these books in particular because I don't remember the title or author, just that it had a tattered deep royal blue cover.

The thing that took my art to the next level were "How to Draw" and "How to Cartoon" books. I would wind my way through the library (worried the whole time that they would have re-organized the racks and my treasures would be lost) and find another book. I would take it home and literally devour the contents in a couple of days.

Need to draw an owl? No problem. Reindeer? I got it covered. (in fact, I remember kids in grade 3 coming by my desk during a Christmas art project asking me to help them draw Rudolph) The only thing I didn't care to draw were male figures (I'm still not really into that). My absolute favorite were drawing ladies in fancy ballroom gowns. (that princess thing again) Any book that had something along those lines had me hook, line and sinker. Over and over and over.

The limited supply at the library soon was exhausted so I would re check out those books. When my parents clued into that, little Scholastic "How to Cartoon" books were under the tree at Christmas.

From that age onward, I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. More specifically, a cartoonist.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part two)


My first crush. When I found him, I fell head over heels in love. I can remember my sister telling me to not fixate just on him, but to keep my options open. Nope. Not for me.

Richard Scarry was (and still is to a certain extent) a huge revelation to me. I was learning to read and loved how he tied meaning between mundane visual objects and the letters right beside them. The Times New Roman font spelling out "fly, flies, few, flown, flying Baron von Crow flew into the railroad tunnel." Replete with a picture of a plane barreling into the dark cavern.

Humour between words and pictures - it woke something up in me. Taking the concept of a simple word "fly" and making it memorable with a simple drawing. He could have taken the simple way out, the way most children's storybooks take. He could have drawn the plane in the air, he could have drawn some nondescript birds. Instead he chose to be memorable.

Nonsensical things like Lowly Worm or a Banana Car with no explanation provided gave invitation to a whole new quirky world where one didn't always need to have an explanation to enjoy.

Anyways, I remember checking out only his books from the library (I don't recall actually owning any) and returning them and hoping desperately that there would be different ones the next time. This lasted quite some time.

My most vivid Richard Scarry image is one of the cross section of a ship with mice engaged in various aspects of ship life. There was a jumble of cars in the auto deck, a mail room, a kitchen, a swimming pool.... all the things that would not be obvious to a little girl growing up in the Canadian prairies. I would sit and study that picture for ages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Where Did My Art Come From? (part one)


I guess to begin the story about where I am going, I must revisit the place that I have come from. So. Lets start at the beginning.

From a very early age, I have loved drawing. I have loved making stories come alive with little situations played out visually. I was a little awkward socially in my early years, not the most or least popular, but definitely an odd duck at times.

I would draw on almost anything. My mother grew tired of buying me fresh paper all the time. She would admonish me to fill up the scenarios with details, little flowers, clouds and birds (smart lady). Both sides of the paper were utilized for these pictures. She would squirrel away a supply of card board panty hose inserts and carefully opened white envelopes to ensure a ready supply of blank surfaces.

One favorite thing for me was when my father would bring home reams of dot matrix printer paper from his work place. The fold out quality was ideal for my running story lines. I kid you not, my favorite thing in the world was to shut myself away in my room and draw out ever evolving stories. The endless folds of minty green striped paper with tear away edges would get my imagination running full speed. I could hardly hold myself back when he would show up with a thick stack of this stuff.

Now, I am not going to pretend that these were masterworks in any way, shape or form. The plot line usually revolved around princess sisters, one older mean one and one long suffering and sweet younger one and how the younger sister would reveal the older sister's errant ways. It kept me drawing and gave me an outlet.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Tabula Rasa of Sorts

I have to admit, my sporadic posting is due to me being incredibly dissatisfied with painting pictures that look pretty. Every once and a while, I have let this dissatisfaction manifest and a different artist pops up. One that doesn’t really care about perspective, one that isn’t interested in making things look realistic, one where the meaning is far more important than the manifestation.

The past few months have been a boiling point for me. I have been reading and reflecting about my priorities, and I have discovered that filling that space above people’s couches is not my priority. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a place for that and I am not speaking against past pieces or any other artist... it just isn’t super high on my list right now.

It is funny to me, I feel like I am coming full circle in some regards – conceptual things that I used to find so important with creating art that I abandoned in order to hone my technical skills, I can’t ignore any longer. I am thankful that I had time to work on my skills for the past few years – I am able to realize a far greater depth of work because I’m “in shape” with my eyes and hands. I just need to take it further.

Also, you might not hear everything from me – I’m really simmering with a lot of ideas right now but not everything is ready. I think I’ve had too much out there and at times, let the worry that comes with blog hits, sales, public opinion and marketability keep me back from going where I want to go with my art.

I’ll be listing stuff for sale here and there, but I really want to get away from using this blog to sell. The marketing thing has really burnt me out and I’d like to get a little more into the meat of what drives me to pick up a brush and place it to canvas even when I’m overwhelmed with the everyday world and don’t feel like there is enough time to keep up with the mundane, not to mention paint.

Not that I want this to be all about me, but I do want to make the distinction that this blog (and most blogs) are about opinion and perspective. I am not an expert in art history, I am not writing a thesis and defending it through here with a list of citations and footnotes. I just want to offer the perspective behind stuff that I cobble together and translate into daubs of paint on a stretched piece of material.

So. Why post today? Where did I go, especially after so many “hey, I’m back” posts? Why pick up here even though I’m picking up the anchor and heading in a different direction? Why not a tabula rasa, delete the past and start fresh? I think it’s time to write again. I don’t see it as a fresh start but rather a new chapter in a long book that has different rhythms, different characters and different levels of action.

If you are reading this after checking back off and on, wondering when I’ll start posting again. Wow. Thank you for being patient with me. If you are one of the inspirational ones who give me things to think about and keep filling me with ideas, thank you for giving me reasons to grow. If you are one of the ones that comes over and forces me to pick up a brush and play with paint over a cup of coffee, thank you for giving me that boost.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Discovery

I am very reliant on technology. Around the last time I posted to this blog, my computer decided to go on strike. Now, I can keep in touch via my iPhone but blogging was a bit of a problem for me.

I have used that time to think deeply about what the purpose of this blog should be. Is it to showcase the arts? Is it strictly for selling? Am I trying to carve a niche with my commentary? I haven't totally ironed all that out yet, but now that my set up is almost set up, I think I might be exploring that a little bit.

One thing I have discovered about myself in the past while is that I am very interested in conveying ideas, both in writing and visually. Painting is just one mode of communication for me. I'm not sure if my focus always has a message or story behind it, I'm not sure that that matters either. As I get further along in my artistic journey, however, I do feel like it is less satisfying for me to just paint pretty pictures.

I know that there is a certain interplay of light and shadow, juxtaposition of colour and careful composition that is deeply engrossing and also pleasing to view... I'm just not sure that that is where my art is heading in the next while.

Anyways, I may not have been online, but I have been painting a few things. Again, the technology has limited me, my scanner is yet to be hooked up and my camera phone cannot do artwork much justice. Keep checking back to see what I've been up to.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Girl in a Church Dress


Girl in a Church Dress
12" x 18"
Acrylic on Canvas
2009


Today was one of those days. The lighting was right, the music inspiring, the children at school. I had a chance to do this painting from start to finish. I will post the steps in the coming days on where this piece started. I am just so pleased with the outcome, I needed to share.

Now off to enjoy a late summer evening. Have a wonderful long weekend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Summertime is Over

Well, I am returning to my online world! For those of you who regularly follow my blog, thanks for popping by. A very special thanks for those who took the time to note my absence and send me emails or comments. They meant so much to me!

So, where was I? I really needed some reconnecting time with my family this year. Alberta has a short but sweet summer so I took full advantage of those beautiful days to experience my kids in action. It was good.

I have also been thinking of where I want to be taking my artwork over the next while. I have a few ideas, I will be going into them in more depth over the coming weeks. I feel like switching gears. Often autumn does that for me. Far more of a "turning over a new leaf" than New Years.

That smell of fall just ever so slightly in the air is a reminder of new routines and experiences to come. Thanks for checking back! Keep tuning in to see whats coming next.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sketchbook: Girl Throwing Rocks in Water

We've met our friends at the pond and gone fishing with them. Our kids love thier kids and much fun is had by all. Their daughter is only two and justs loving poking about at the water's edge.

Shortly after this sketch, I was engrossed with drawing something else and the three littlest ones were inventing a game where they were naming various things as fishing lures and then tossing them in the water. They had alphabet pretzels, blades of grass, little flowers - all replete with brand new names.

One item that they loved tossing in, they called "smokers" - boy, they sure loved those. I should have looked up sooner. "Smokers" are a new lure made of cigarette butts. There were about 9 or 10 of them merrily bobbing on the water, waiting for the fish to come biting. I paid better attention after that one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sketchbook: Brothers Fishing


I really enjoyed capturing these two as they bent over the fishing line, clearly the older boy advising the younger one on some casting technique. I really wanted to capture that movement and connection.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sketchbook: DeWitt's Pond

My family has recently gone crazy for fishing. It started with my middle daughter, so determined to learn how to fish, she saved birthday money a few years ago to buy herself a "Dora the Explorer" fishing rod. This had hours and hours of use fishing in our backyard wading pool.

This year at Christmas, my husband and daughter received fishing gear and we have been taking all the kids along on these little excursions (much to their collective delight). I don't have a fishing license, nor do I have any urge to stand still that long, so my role has evolved into child wrangler/snack provider/ sketchbook operator. It has suited me just fine.

This is our local fishing hole, more like a man made squarish shape carved out of the prairie, the kids think it is the most magical place ever. I've been picking out beautiful little vistas to capture on paper.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sketchbook: Waiting Room Chair

I inevitably run out of people to draw in a visit. Or people are on to me and sitting in all sorts of awkward poses trying to look natural and secretly wondering if I'm drawing them (you can always totally tell). This prompts me to pick something inanimate. In an office, it usually means something industrial and ugly. This chair is one such subject.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sketchbook: Woman Reading, Unfinished


I wish this woman had not been called for her appointment so quickly - I was just starting to hone in on her details. She was deeply engrossed in her magazine so she was hardly moving. I thought the half finished picture would give you an idea of the mid point of progress in a sketch like this.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sketchbook: Woman Working on Computer


I had another appointment at the dentist so again had my captive subjects. I am starting to really enjoy waiting rooms. People are so unaware of what is going on around them that they provide very easy targets. This lady had interesting hair to draw, it was cut in layers and that posed a unique challenge. I was using a nice thick 05 Micron this day, I love that heavy line.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sketchbook: Fence and trees


I really like the simplicity captured here. Sometimes you just note what you need to note and then you move on. What attracted me to this subject was the lines to the trees (which did not yet sport leaves) I kind of wanted to see if I could convey the different textural differences just by making different types of pen strokes. I think I did that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Painting Study: Two Girls Reading

6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009
One thing my family loves to do is frequent used book stores. Both my husband and I have strong urges to linger in these musty places for long periods hoping to find a few treasures. Our kids have happily embraced this tradition.

One system we have devised is a rule that the other two kids have to read a small story to our youngest (who isn't reading yet) while everyone else browses. This has worked beautifully as the older two are quite generous in this respect (they enjoy the story as well), our youngest gets two stories read to her automatically, and we catch a few more minutes to browse the titles.

My two daughters have this tendency to cuddle up in these situations. They are quite close despite their three year age difference and they do not seem to mind being in close proximity to one another. Often times they are cocooned on the couch watching tv or in in the lower bunk bed playing with paper dolls.

When story time fell to my middle daughter, I was not surprised to come around the bookshelves and see them huddled together in the girliest pink floral chair I'd ever laid eyes on. It begged a picture and a painting. I literally could not get my mind off of painting this little scene all evening after taking this. It had to wait two days, but I am not disappointed with the results.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sketchbook: Wheelbarrow


This sketch was another "sitting, waiting for the kids" sketch. I usually have nothing directly to draw so I take something, anything in my vicinity. I was immediately attracted to the strong lines of the handles on this wheelbarrow, although I'm not totally sure I got the angles all right, but that doesn't usually concern me greatly when I'm whisking off a bunch of quick sketches.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Painting Study: Garden Tulips


6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009
These tulips are sadly gone the way of the Alberta wind and rain. I snapped the picture about 2 weeks ago and finally had a chance to put it down in paint. They actually aren't from my garden, but that of a good friend.
My tulips are a screaming bright red and totally don't suit my house. I keep thinking I will dig them up and put in a variety of colours, but I never do and every year I have an intense red welcome to spring. I kind of love them. I have a few pics on file that may make it to a few studies in the next few weeks.
(I kind of agonize about how I should describe a picture like that - is it a landscape? Is it a still life? I kind of refer to both when I get a chance, because I really can't make up my mind. I'm sure that "technically" it is a landscape, but I say "Bah! Keep an open mind!")

Monday, June 08, 2009

Sketches and Paintings to come

Hello there! I know, I know, there was a blip in the posting parade. Summer has my painting time jammed in amongst outside family time.

One positive is that my sketchbook has been getting a workout even though my blog has not. So, I'm going to be posting a series of sketches and paintings during the week for a few weeks. Not so many articles at the moment - I want to soak up as much sun as I can!

Check back tomorrow for my latest auction.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Painting Study: Spring Blossoms


Spring Blossoms
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

This blue vase is actually the sole survivor of a set of four hand blown drinking glasses a friend gave me years ago.

It has this murky blue green colour that I absolutely adore. Anytime I have the opportunity to collect a few spring blossoms, I tend to put them in this glass. I don't know what compells me to do this. I think it is partly because the green of the leaves against this colour makes them extra vibrant. The blossoms also look extra pinkish against this backdrop. Lastly, there is a greenish cast to the blossoms that fall below the rim. I can't seem to get enough of that.

The shadow was pretty fun to paint as well!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Painting Study: Veronica's Hands


Sold

Veronica's Hands
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

A while ago I was having coffee with a few of my artist friends. As we were chatting I was quite struck by how interesting their hands were. Of course, artists being the endlessly welcoming folks that they are, my friends were happy to display their hands for a few photos. Another one of these pictures ended up as another study, as you can see here.

Veronica's hands are very interesting, she has very long strong fingers and she usually has some really unique jewellery on. Very much the opposite of my short little minimally adorned fingers!

I'm sure the other Starbucks patrons thought we were nuts. We sure had a fun visit though!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Whoa! Where did I go?


I have a confession. I have been away from my easel. A lot.

I live in Alberta, a place where spring and summer are short and sweet. Last week, spring hit with a vengeance and I have to admit, I was lured out of my house and into my garden.

I have taken long walks with my kids to the creek. I have ridden my bike. I have gone for morning runs that don't involve long johns and mitts.

I am also completely unrepentant for my absence.

This week I am somewhat back on track, I even have some auctions going up too! However, I am considering reducing my posting for the summer. I'll try to keep you updated.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Selling Your Art Online: Auctions

I will be honest here, I have a love/hate relationships with auctions. They are expensive for the short time span they are live, you don't always make much money but you may hit it lucky with these, you can really widen your customer base quickly and they are pretty exciting.

Online selling of artwork really took off with ebay - this is the where a lot of artists developed their careers independent of being represented by an agent or gallery. In the early years it was the Wild Wild West of the art world.

It is quite simple to list an auction, open an account on an auction site (I use ebay), take your quality images, write up a listing very similar to how you would in your online store, and then set your starting bid.

Now. This is the tough part... what do you do for a starting bid? There are many theories on the best way to go about this - I suggest you familiarize yourself with some auction lingo before going about this.

Starting/Opening Bid: This is the first bid price. If you list your item for $0.99 hoping for it to get bid up to a higher price you still take the chance that it will get one bid and sell for $0.99. Once it sells, it sells for that price. You cannot back out. Think carefully about your opening bid and list your item for the lowest you can go without feeling regretful if it only gets one bid.

Reserve Auction: This is an option if you don't want to take risks, you can set a reserve on a listing and have a low opening bid to attract buyers. If you put a reserve in place, it remains secret and the item only sells if it is bid up to that amount.

The pros to this is that lots of action on an item means more interest from buyers - they like to feel confident that others like your work as much as they do. The cons - if you set your reserve too high, your ultimate goal (selling your work) may not happen... this means you may pay more listing fees to move that item to another venue or relist it.

Listing Upgrades: these are available to you in a listing, sometimes things are automatically checked off (uncheck them if you don't need them) You can choose a longer listing (10 days over 7 days), Highlighted listings, Feature listings, Automatic Timer (to list at a pre set time) Extra pictures, there are tons and tons of things that you can add.

However, on ebay, if you are going to add things to your listing, you are going to pay for every thing you add. a dime here and there doesn't seem like much but just be aware that a listing can get pricey pretty quick. There is a reason why ebay earned the nick name "feebay" - you can take a $0.55 listing and make it over $20 per listing - which is only live for a week!!!

There can be advantages to you to using some of those features - they may bring up your viewers immensely, occasionally trying something out is good to do if you have a good strategy. Make sure you have a bunch of cheaper auctions live at the same time if you do a high priced auction - buyers will check out your other work if they like your featured auction. Get the greatest bang for your buck!

Insertion Fees: Always be aware of the basic price your listing should be, it is based upon your starting price - the lower your starting bid, the lower your listing fee. Only use the extra features that you want - if there are automatically checked in boxes, be sure to uncheck them if they are not something you want to use.

Take advantage of 5 and 10 cent listing days - the notification on those shows up in your message box a day before they occur. Just be aware that every other seller gets the same message so the competition goes up considerably as they take advantage of the deals too.

Final Value Fees: There is a percentage that ebay will take for the sale of your item on top of the insertion fee. Keep this percentage in mind - read up and be familiar with what it is and remember if you are accepting paypal, this will also be a percentage taken from your sale price. You may want to build a bit of cushion into your opening bid to account for that and prevent regret.

Now, if you are suddenly turned off by all the fees, keep in mind that if you were selling through a gallery they would take a 30% - 60% percentage and online 7% - 10% isn't too bad compared to that. Just be aware and adjust accordingly.

Shill Bidding: DO NOT encourage friends or family who want to "help you out" by bidding on your auctions with no real intent to purchase. False inflation of your prices is not only dishonest, it can result in your auctions being pulled and your ebay account closed.

Also, what sense of accomplishment can you honestly gain in the long term if the only reason your stuff is selling for higher amounts is because people take advantage of a generous bidder. It is better to set your opening bid higher and see what happens than have a relative in cahoots with you.

Anyways, there are more answers to common selling questions on ebay - check out Seller Central or do a search on key terms. When you are looking at their suggestions always keep it at the back of your mind that ebay makes its money off of YOU. They are going to tell you how wonderful all their products and services are so that they can sell them to you.

Start out with basic listings as a base line and then add things here and there one at a time so you can see for yourself how they affect your sales. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Motivation


Here are some things that might give you a little insight into why you create:

What is your end goal? When you create a piece of artwork, ask yourself what it is that you hope to achieve with it. For some it might be an immediate release, to express profound joy or to relieve stress. Others may take a longer viewpoint, hoping that their work will hang in a museum or become a highly collected item.

By looking at your end goal, you can take steps to make those dreams a reality. Maybe you need to protect a few hours for creating during a busy week to keep your equilibrium, perhaps you need to create a portfolio so you can start building your long term career.

Would you create this if money were not an issue? This is a big question to ask yourself. Some people can't get past the price tag - this can create a huge issue in regards to motivation.

If you are selling a ton (either because you have low prices or because you have hit a sweet spot) it is easy to feel like you are on a hamster wheel of produce.produce.produce. in order to keep the sales up. This can over extend you as an artist and lead to burn out or at the very least, repetitive, formulaic pieces.

If you are not selling much, this can be a huge blow to your ego as an artist. If you judge your work and find motivation purely from a sale - during tough economic times like these, your ability to weather the storm may not last long.

Would you create this if no one ever saw it? Showing your work can be a bit of a high, it is a great feeling to hear feedback from your clients, make money from something you love and hear the praise of your peers.

If you are creating solely so that they will respond to your work, it may be another form of motivation that doesn't take you through a dry spell.

The Internet is a HUGE place. It is pretty humbling to have good auctions with a decent amount of views and then suddenly *whammo* - no one there. Most people who follow your work go through cycles of paying attention. Sometimes they go away on vacation, get busy themselves or sometimes your work gets a bit rusty and they lose a bit of interest... whatever the reason, it may not be a good idea to depend too much on your numbers.

Does the act of creation bring you joy or satisfaction? Do you enjoy doing what you are doing? Not the end goal here, but the actual process. Can you find pleasure or release in expressing yourself with your artwork? If your answer is "no", then you probably really need to dig deeply into your motivations.

Creating artwork is a pretty unique thing - if you have developed your ability to the point where you are finding success in selling it to people who appreciate it, you probably loved doing it at some point. If you have reached a point where there is no enjoyment there, then how did you lose that?

So many people express a desire to be able to create like this. In some sense, it could be considered the equivalent to having a pair of wings and being able to fly - to be afraid of heights or to dislike being in the air would be an awful waste of that ability. If that were my situation, I would want to figure out why I couldn't make use of that somehow.

What do I do if I have the wrong motives? Loosen up. Don't take your artwork or yourself that seriously. I can remember being a pretentious teenager and not wanting to lift my finger to make a line that was out of character because I felt somehow it really mattered.

Years later I looked back at this time and discovered a few things. I repeated myself, I didn't practice much, my work was cold and stilted, and the pretension showed through.

If you are holding too tightly to your work, give it away. Donate it to charity, give it to a friend for a gift - bless someone else at no benefit to yourself. If that is too hard, cut your prices in half and have a sale. If you have a studio full of work and that bothers you - think about your motivation and change something (or else try to not let having a full studio bother you).

What do I do if I need new motivation? Loosen up - but in a different way. Play with technique, try a different medium - go take a weekend class. Dig out your sketchbook and make a point of spending 10 minutes a day brainstorming some ways to take your artwork to a new level. Sketch something different, time yourself on a sketch, go copy some great masters at the art gallery.

It can be so easy to lose sight of the end goal - keeping that in mind and constantly questioning your motives can really help your artistic life stay balanced and healthy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just Listed: Alberta Spring

Alberta Spring
12" x 12"
Acrylic on Canvas
2009

I've finally gotten around to listing some things in my etsy store that are sitting around my studio. However, with the upcoming Airdrie 7 show and sale on May 16th, some of these items may not last past the weekend!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Selling Your Art Online: Merchandise Store


Once you have your direct presence online with a blog and a store, you can branch out even further, with another type of venue, one that sells customized merchandise such as my zazzle store. There are a few sites such as this, cafepress and zazzle being the big ones out there.

My theory with selling art online is that the more sources of passive income, however small those sources, the more regular your income will be. Having a merchandise store available is a way for your customers to get a unique product with your artwork on it.

I say it is passive because once you load up your images and choose how they will be formatted on the product (t-shirt, magnet, cards etc) all that is left is promoting your store. The more time you put into telling people about your merchandise, the more people will look at it.

So what happens when somebody purchases your merchandise? The company that hosts your store then takes care of the payment, producing the item, shipping it and customer service. They basically handle everything from the moment a purchase is made. If there is a problem, they will fix it for the customer - it is a good idea google reviews of the products you want to have or order one for yourself so you can see the quality for yourself.

After the transaction is completed, you will have a royalty amount available in your account that you can ask them to store up, transfer to your paypal account or cut a cheque for you. (Sellers outside of the country your store is based in - always read the terms of service before opening a store like this to see if they will be able to send you payment in a way that you can accept, they do not always send cheques out of the country and those that do will do it in their currency)

Personally, I don't make a fortune off of stores like this, but for the time it takes to set up a few products, I have found it to be worth the effort. It is just another iron in the fire that is online selling!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sketchbook: Parking Lot View


I often have to park the car and wait for my kids. This offers me prime sketching time. If I am at a loss for a subject, I'll usually just pick something random and go from there. This is one such sketch. I kind of wanted to capture the main landscape elements and the atmosphere in the sky.
Not sure if it totally translated, but that is the fun of sketching. If I feel like sketching something else, the commitment level is low, so all I have to do is turn the page for something new.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Tube Wringer


I just picked this little gadget up last week with visions of never wasting a drop of paint or toothpaste again. It works like a charm, crimping out the last bit of whatever from the tube.
If you look for one of these, the heavier the construction and the wider the appliance the better. The model I got is mostly plastic and rubber and I notice that the width doesn't accommodate some of my tubes of primer.
Live and learn! I do think I'll get my $6.50 out of this gadget though!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sketchbook: Girl with Notepad

My daughter has noticed me carrying my sketchbook everywhere. It has resulted in me carrying a sketchbook for her everywhere too. At least hers is a tiny dollar store notepad. She feels quite grown up sitting next to me drawing princesses and fairies.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Selling Your Art Online: Opening a Store

Once you have all your images ready, you've started a blog and you've made yourself available, it is time to start branching out. Your little blog is just a tiny corner of the universe and it would serve you well to get your name out in a variety of places.

One such place could be opening a store on an artisan site like Etsy, or via Ebay. There are countless other options available out there, some cheaper some more prestigious - do your research and find a place where art of the same caliber of yours is getting prices that you deem to be reasonable (just make sure it is actually selling as opposed to just waiting to be sold - you can usually check this by looking at the seller's feedback)

Most places will let you set up a store for free (etsy) or for a monthly fee (ebay). You then get charged for each listing that you put in your store.

A listing is made up of an image, a description, your selling terms (payment within ____ days, ____ type of payment accepted, returns allowed/not allowed etc) and your shipping information (will ship internationally, using ______ method, _______ amount for each area)

You can look at how other people set up their listings on the site and tailor your set up to be similar (without copying word for word). Use the same logic that you have for your blog - write up clear listings and be upfront about what your customer is paying for.

Some things to avoid doing:

Multicoloured text - it can really drain your eyes to navigate through a long listing. It may look a little too gaudy to someone who really wants to purchase your art.
varying sizes. Or UsiNG OdD CapiTaliZaysHon OR sPELLinGz.
Also avoid centering everything - this is a listing,
not a wedding invitation. (haha)

LISTING ALL OF THE THINGS THAT A BUYER EVER DID TO PULL ONE OVER ON YOU IN BOLD ALL CAPS LOCK JUST LIKE THIS. I WILL NOT SHIP BEFORE THURSDAY EACH WEEK. GAS COSTS A LOT OF MONEY THESE DAYS SO I WILL ONLY MAKE ONE TRIP TO THE POST OFFICE. YOUR PICTURE WILL ARRIVE SAFELY SHOULD BE ON TIME. SHOULD IT ARRIVE LATE AND DAMAGED TAKE IT UP WITH THE POST OFFICE - THEY WERE THE ONES WHO WRECKED IT.

Once you have your pieces listed - be prepared to log in occasionally and respond to any convos (conversations) or messages that people send you - it is really important to not turn those email notifications off, your customer doesn't want to wait a week for you to realize they had a burning desire to purchase your art.

Pay your bill in a timely manner - nothing is worse than getting into arrears and having your account closed and your listings pulled! You can usually set up an automatic payment plan, just make sure to check your charges over to make sure things are all okay.

Once you sell a piece, you will be charged a FVF (Final Value Fee) or Sales Fee - usually it is around 3.5% to 7% (much cheaper than the 30%- 60% gallery cut!) and will be calculated automatically. Keep that fee in mind when you set your prices so that you do undercut your profits to account for these little additions. They are the price of doing business on a larger site with way more traffic than your blog!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Airdrie7 - Women. Mothers. Artists.


Hello everyone - I haven't disappeared. I've been busy preparing for an upcoming show and sale for an informal arts group I am a part of, the Airdrie7.

For my local friends and patrons, I invite you to come out on May 16th to see us in action - more information will be forthcoming on our group blog! I will be showing a mixture of large and small new works as well as painting live on site! Email me if you have any questions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Inspiration

Some people call this their creative muse, some people simply have an end goal in mind. Whatever it is, you need something that keeps you coming back to your easel, something that gets you to explore and brings you through creative dry spells.

Your inspiration can come from many places, music, poetry, faith, love, experiences, nature, or the way light falls across someone reading - whatever it is, it is a reserve that you can tap into to help your art progress forward. Think about what gets you excited, why it gets the creative juices flowing and then nurture it.

For many, producing art is a way to make sense of a emotional state, it could be a therapeutic release from a situation or a way of expressing a thought or theory. Use your inspiration as a tool to guide your viewer and tell them the story you are creating. Your inspiration will allow you to take mark making and infuse it with feeling and liveliness.

One thing I don't recommend is producing art with the end goal of being "rich and famous", which is, in my opinion, one of the most meaningless inspirations in creation. You may get some attention at first, but eventually most people see through the artifice and recognize the lack of raw expression underneath (and if perchance you are one of the few that can become "rich and famous" through this method, kudos to you, I guess.)

Let inspiration guide you, don't be afraid if it takes you in what at first is an ugly or unfamiliar direction - this is where you grow and learn. Just like starting a new type of exercise can be painful at first, if you are diligent about it, eventually your hard work will yield results.

Try new things, attempt to harness and convey that joy in creation, revisit the things that you love in order to become renewed. There is a reason why great artists in history revisit subjects or themes over and over, they are working through something - this gives them energy and a passion that lifts off the canvas and attracts the viewer and allows them in to experience your expression.

Think about your inspiration this week and pursue it - you may find a beautiful new direction.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Painting Study: Blue Floral Plate on Green Tray

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Blue Floral Plate on Green Tray
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

I am so excited about this green tray. It is an embossed metal and it has a greenish cast to it. I am really into square format right now and this tray appeals to that. Throw in some circles and I am a happy painter!

This painting took a little longer than usual, with all that extra pattern but it was well worth it I think.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Painting Study: La Chinata Spice Tin

La Chinata Spice Tin
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

My husband loves to collect special oils, herbs and spices. This tiny tin was purchased at one of those foodie stores where everything is special and tastes so subtle and wonderful. It contained (up until recently) a lovely smoked sweet paprika. The colour of the tin is this rich red and yellow - so evocative of the spice contained within.

I need to find this product locally - I bought it on a trip to Vancouver, a city full of wonderful food.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sketchbook: Woman Reading Magazine


Recently we had dental appointments booked for my children. This time waiting I used for a few good sketches. I think this one is the best of the bunch. One thing I've learned though, nothing blows your cover quite like your child loudly asking "are you drawing THAT lady mom?"

We had a quiet discussion about how mom didn't really want people to know she was drawing them so that they would try to sit like they were posing for school photos. That seemed to satisfy my child.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Painting Study: Lemon Wedges on Blue Plate


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Lemon Wedges on Blue Plate
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009
Have you noticed a little theme developing? Guess who bought the economy sized bag of lemons and was at a loss on what to do with them all. They seem to be cut up for a painting and then used for tea or eaten gingerly by eager children. At least we are enjoying them!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Pens


To piggyback on last week's post about sketchbooks, I thought I would take a moment to talk about pens to sketch with. While there are all sorts of other things you can use for mark making in a sketchbook, I generally stay away from them. Pencils, charcoal and conte are all beautiful to use, but they tend to smear and smudge and discourage me from leafing through my book to look at other drawings. I tend to feel hesitant to touch the pages, lest I mess something up.

I know I could spray the pages with a fixative, but honestly that is too fussy and careful for my tastes. I would rather give up the ability to erase and live with my mistakes than to have to take an extra step to complete my sketching trips.

I also do not use media that works like paint (pen and ink, watercolour) I really don't like wrinkly pages and I dump enough coffee and rain on these poor books to add more ruin to the edges!

So, what is left are pens. I've blogged before about my love for Micron pens. They are produced by Sakura and I've been using them for years and years. I can look back on old sketches done with these pens and they haven't acquired that greenish spread that some felt tipped fine liners do. (think of what a tattoo looks like on a really old sailor if you are trying to imagine what I'm describing)

I've been mainly using 01 and 03 sized tips, but recently switched to an 05 (nice and thick) and I'll be putting up some sketches this week that feature its dark, strong line. Very fun to experiment with.

When I wear the tips down significantly, I keep the pen around and use it for soft gray shading. I pretty much only throw the pen away after I've worn it down to the metal edge and I can't extract any more ink. Or if my kids get a hold of the pen and leave the lid off.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Painting Study: Lemons on Floral Plate

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Lemons on Floral Plate
6"x6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

I just love how the light is hitting the lemon in this piece. I always enjoy painting this particular plate as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Selling Your Art Online: Blogging About Art

Okay, as I mentioned last week, the fastest way to get your work online is to start a blog. Pick a blogging site and follow the set up instructions - you do not need to know much about computers to set up a blog. They are designed precisely to enable people to get up and running with minimal muss and fuss.

I'm not going to go into detail about how to blog in general or how to increase your readership or SEO stuff, there are much better resources than myself for those types of things.

What I do want to touch on is the fact that unlike other types of blogs, artist blogs need to ensure a few things to catch the interest of their readers.

Quality Images: If you haven't already done so, read this article about producing quality images for online selling. Producing these is the single most important thing an artist can do to advance their career for selling art online.

Once you have these, I always recommend that you post these at the top of your entry. People will immediately know that you have updated your blog. If you have struck a chord they will stay to scroll down to find out more about your piece.

Even if you don't always have a fresh image of your artwork, having new photos of your discussion topics can create instant interest for your readers.

Personality: As I've mentioned before, I don't really believe that art is autonomous. Meaning, I don't think that it always just stands on its own - I think the artist and the story behind the work plays a critical role in the perception for the viewer.

Show someone a scribbly drawing, then tell them that it was drawn by Picasso - watch how the perception changes. Alternately, take the same scribbly drawing, show someone else and tell them your four year old child drew it - again, watch how the perception changes. Take the same drawing and show someone with no attachment of name or value, then watch how it is received.

People love knowing the person or the story behind the work. Little tidbits of your inspiration or a particular challenge you faced in executing the piece are all valuable to your readers. It gives depth to your development and will help people see the value in what you are working on. They will want to invest in your potential based on what you are sharing with them.

On the flip side to this, remember that your artist blog is there to support your career. Be professional and keep your client details, inside jokes and dirty laundry out of it for the most part. Just like you would keep really personal stuff out of a 9 - 5 job, you should consider keeping it off your blog. Anyone can read it. Including people who may not like details of their interactions with you posted in a very public forum.

Descriptions: The single best piece of advice I ever got about selling my work online is to describe it like you are trying to describe it a blind person. Pick out all the details that makes this piece of art special and write about it. Someone may not notice the tiny Eiffel Tower in the background or how the light is hitting the clouds in the sunset.

Do you think the best part of your piece is the tiny droplet of water trickling down the skin of an apple? Tell your viewers about it! They will feel like you are taking them on a personal tour of your artwork, offering them the perspective of the creator.

Use descriptive language. Vivid words can evoke a higher level of appreciation for elements of your work. Is that blue lush or is it cold? Are those clouds fluffy or are they angry? Is that red more velvet than electric? You decide, then tell your readers about it!

Frequency: Try to commit to a certain regularity in posting (and if you can't stay at that level, tell your readers what you are going to commit to, or why you've been absent) Once a week is a great start and very doable. Even once a month can be successful!

You can also plan on posting certain things on certain days. Currently, my posting looks a little like this (but sometimes life interferes!) :

Monday: Selling Your Art Online (article)
Tuesday: Original Art
Wednesday: Tools of the Trade (article)
Thursday: Original Art
Friday: Why You Should Buy Art (article)
Saturday: No Post or Original Art
Sunday: Sketchbook or Original Art

This can be done day by day or you can plan out your posts beforehand and then set them up to post automatically (on blogger, click "Post Options" on the lower left side, and then enter the date and time you want your post to appear). Personally, I do a mixture depending on how crazy my week ahead looks!

Go ahead and try your hand at posting! Let me know about it and I'll come check out your blog too!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Painting Study: Two Tomatoes on White Plate


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Two Tomatoes on White Plate
6" x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

This painting was so fun to compose. I love the light gray tones fading to inky darkness and the curvy green stem and leaves dividing the space. Painting the deep red of the flesh is deceptively challenging. It can be hard to move from blue red to a hot orange in such a small space.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Painting Study: Oranges on Plate

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Oranges on Plate Study
6"x 6"
Acrylic on Masonite
2009

This little study was done as part of a larger barter/trade I was involved in with a painter friend of mine, Veronica. I have 2 more of these to do to cover my side - in return I received a very nice easel which will accommodate some very large canvases!

This worked out so well because I have wanted a larger easel for some time but I just haven't had that on my priority expense list. Little exchanges like this are a great way to clear out a studio or feather a nest!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Painting: Alberta Spring


Alberta Spring
12"x 12"x ¾"
Acrylic on Canvas
2009

This is the embodiment of a prairie spring. The bare trees, glimpses of lush green to come and the faded snowbanks. The sky out here in the springtime is a fresh vivid blue that can at once be warm in the sunlight and chilly in the shadow. Hopefully our remaining drifts of snow will soon disappear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Sketchbooks


I really recommend that artists keep a sketchbook. What you do in that sketchbook is entirely up to you, I do suggest you keep a few things in mind:

Quality: You will want to purchase your sketchbook from a local art supply store or a place that carries decent artist quality products. Look for decent weight paper and that it is acid free. A basic book (I always fancy up my covers by gessoing them and painting a picture) will run for roughly $10.00, depending on the size.

Buying any old journal from a department or dollar store may seem like a cheap option but as you work more and more in your sketchbooks you may be upset in a few years to find yellowed pages with faded ink.

Size: Where are you going to use your sketchbook and for what purpose? I used to get these monster 11" x 14" books when I was in school. They were great to take to galleries to sketch from the masters and make copious notes. I could sprawl ideas of future projects on the pages and never run out of space.

I've gone to the other end of the spectrum now and I carry 6" x 8" book. I like that it fits discretely in my purse and that I can slouch down in a booth while I'm having a coffee and draw my surroundings. I don't jot down as many notes as I used to so I don't require that sort of space anymore.

Frequency: The biggest advantage to keeping a sketchbook is that it keeps your hand in practice. Have a busy week? Take your sketchbook out while you are waiting for a meeting to start and do a few loose pictures. On vacation? Bring it to the beach and capture the trees swaying in the wind. Have an idea for a painting? Make a note of what you want to capture and come back to it when you are in the studio.

Use this book. It can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months to fill it up, but if you approach it with the attitude that perfection is not required, just habitual consumption of pages you will get into the routine quite quickly.

It is so interesting to leaf through old books of mine and see how my thinking has changed and what has stayed the same. I can tell when I am well practiced and when I'm struggling to return to the arts. They are a great documentation of my growth as an artist.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Selling Your Art Online: Hanging Out Your Shingle

Now that you've mustered up the courage, created the work and taken some quality images of your stuff, it is time to start getting your name out there. The world wide web is a HUGE place and it will take some work to even scratch the surface of getting noticed.

Oftentimes, when you take this step and you effectively say "I am here, I am willing to sell my work" friends and acquaintances will approach you saying "I've always loved your stuff - I didn't know you sold it!" If you give them the discreet opportunity to check out your prices (because people close to you are often scared of offending you by asking) you may make some local sales right off the top.

Tax Stuff: Before you begin, remember that selling your work online is essentially being in business for yourself. This is not the same as having a garage sale - it would serve you well to be familiar with your local and federal tax legislations and figure out what you need to do to ensure that you are all clear when tax season comes. Your government websites should point you in the right direction on this. Most selling sites have a component built in that allow you to charge state or provincial tax should you need to (and you don't always have to!)

This should not scare you off. Honestly, you are not going to be raking in the cash the second that you hit "list" on an item. You do need to be aware when you hit certain limits on your profits, what sort of records you need to keep and also what benefits (tax deductions) you may qualify for once you start selling your work.

Pricing: Next, you need to determine your prices. Here are some thoughts on pricing - this is something you need to decide for yourself. Don't let your ego/low self esteem get into this, if you spent 2 hours on the piece, do not compare it to something that someone spent 15 hours on. On the flip side to this - people who work on their craft every single day will probably be really really efficient. If they spent 2 hours and nailed it bang on the first try - they can command the price they do.

Don't charge people for your inefficiencies - if you made a mistake that takes you 4 hours to cover over and redo, that isn't something that builds into the value of your piece (as in a $$$/hour structure) You really should fix glaring issues though, its part of perfecting your craft and your public will see the quality of your stuff because of it.

If you are really hesitant on the issue of pricing your work then I suggest you look into the subject deeper, this book was helpful to me. My rule of thumb is "how badly do I want it hanging around my studio if it doesn't sell vs. will I feel regretful if I sell it for too low"

Online Venues: The number one suggestion I have for people is get a blog. Don't worry about a website yet, don't stress on auction vs. buy it now. A blog is free and you will be able to connect all those other points to it when you are ready to conquer those things. (and we will cover more of this in the coming weeks) Go to a blogging site, register and you can be posting and uploading your quality images and ready to sell in an hour.

Once you have an online "home" it is important to post a little about you (schooling, influences, reasons you create the work you do), post regularly, and put beautiful pictures of your pieces up for people to enjoy. This is just a start, you can build on this in the coming weeks.

I have found that it is really important to keep the "What You See is What You Get" mentality when dealing with your audience. Be upfront. If you have a price for your piece - list it. If there is additional shipping, say so. If you are going to throw in a bonus print or postcard - may as well tell them. All these details are going to build customer confidence in you.

It is also important to take the work off of your customer's hands. They are there to appreciate and purchase, not to do lots of legwork - a lot of people buy impulsively, which is to your advantage. I sell a lot of things in the middle of the night (another advantage to online selling - the store never closes!). Those customers are not always willing to wait around till I get online in the morning to answer questions on my work. They may just go spend their money elsewhere.

If a customer is presented with two choices "email me for details" or "this painting costs: $___US. Shipping to the United States is $____US. Allow 2 weeks for delivery via Canadapost" they will usually go with "What You See is What You Get". If there is an unknown or mystery surrounding your piece, people may be too lazy or scared off to inquire further.

Also, be prompt about inquiries - if your upfront details haven't totally sold them, but built their confidence in you, they will contact you. They might want to know about combining shipping, custom work or using an express shipping company for example.

If you are selling online, you need to make the commitment that you will check your email regularly and respond accordingly. Even if you hate email and only check it once a week, you need to stretch yourself here. This is about selling your artwork and when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you want to sell online, you need to realize that this is the price of doing business.

Accepting Payment: You will also need to sign yourself up for some way to accept money. Personally, I use paypal - mainly because it is so prevalent and that is what was available. If you want to find another option, by all means do your research. Generally the seller pays for each transaction that they accept money on. (Buyers do not pay for transactions, this is why it is an attractive way for people to pay for online purchases) Read the fine print for whatever company you use, paypal will just automatically take their percent off the top when you receive a payment.

"What about skipping the fees associated with paypal and only accepting money orders?" You can offer that option if you want, but honestly, most people who are buying online are set up to pay you instantly. You will want to be aware of the fees that will be charged to process your money transaction and build that into your price.

If you only accept money orders keep in mind that people will likely have to purchase your item, wait till a business day (that is convenient for them), stand in line at the bank, pay a fee for the money order (which may be a turn off all by itself), put it in an envelope, purchase a stamp and mail it. This may scare off a buyer. You will also risk a "where is my artwork" email - people forget that it takes so many days for the letter to arrive at your house, you have to wait for the money order to cash and then shipping time for the piece to arrive at their house. The whole transaction can take weeks.

So, to sum up this post: Get up your nerve + get your quality images + see what record keeping you need to do + figure out your prices + get an online home (blog) + find a way to accept payment = you are in business. Now, this is just the start so don't stress out, now we focus on building the business! Check back next Monday for more on this!