Thursday, February 25, 2010

Artist Survival 101: Setting up a New Printer...

I admit it. I'm not considered one of the top 20 artists of America who have agents working for them, top galleries pining for them, and someone else to do all the dirty work! Hence, I buy my own printer. I print my own prints. I sell them at shows. Surviving as a (slightly) less than top artist takes more than doing what you love. It takes doing what you would most certainly rather NOT be doing in order to have the margins and volume it takes to make enough money to then be able to do what you love.

And, what would I rather NOT be doing? You guessed it - testing out a new printer! Now, I'm a painter. Granted, I spent several years in the tech industry, which gives me a leg up on some things, but a graphic designer, I'm not. And a printer expert, I'm not. But... I'm learning.

What did I learn today? I LOVE my new printer (after 6 hours of testing, 10 print samples, and 46 card samples later) and the gorgeous new prints that I will have available this season using it!

What did I learn during those 6 hours on the path to loving my new printer?

1) Do not use color profiles in both the software AND the printer. When using Photoshop, just use the software, and turn of the printer options otherwise you get a washed out version of your image. Huh, I didn't even know there was a difference before, or that both options existed!

2) Paper quality DOES make a difference! Now, I previously have been selling an economical poster print quality print using my most excellent high quality color laser printer. It has done a great job for me, and produces a very nice quality print on a medium quality paper. My new Espon printer, however, produces a rather mediocre print on mediocre paper, and a beautiful print (after a few more lessons) on high quality paper.

3) There are approximately 100 different settings with thousands of combinations with which to test, and it's important to remember (or write down) what settings you've chosen otherwise you WILL forget by the time the print actually makes it out of the printer and won't know what to change on the next print.

4) I actually like my cards printed on my laser better than on the Epson, and will most likely continue using my laser with 100% PCW recycled paper for the cards in order to keep them affordable.

5) My favorite paper thus far is a PremierArt Platinum Rag Fine Art Paper. It has a cool sheen to it that gives my artwork a lovely glossy look similar to that created by the Acrylics on the original art. Gorgeous! I'm looking forward to testing out a premium bamboo paper, but it did not get included in the sample pack I ordered, so I will have to order another.

6) Respect the graphic designers/print producers you know who do an excellent job. It's not as easy as it looks.

7) I now know how to tweak my laser printer settings better from learning about the myriad of Espon ink jet settings and now set my laser to having the colorsync in the printer.

8) Using a high quality paper setting with a low quality paper makes the print worse instead of better. Be sure to match settings with actual paper quality.

9) That red flashing light does not mean I can continue printing...

10) I can drink a lot of coffee in a short amount of time!

I hope you enjoy the new prints I'll have available this show season with my new printer! I'm afraid they will cost a little more (as I'll most likely be using a premium paper), but they will be more beautiful and true to the originals than ever.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hidden Poppies - Waiting for you to find...

prints available online at IMAGEKIND.com

"Hidden Poppies"
Original Acrylic on Paper
14 x 18 inches
Available on ETSY

Though you wouldn't know it now - this painting began as a little political statement about Global Climate Change back in 2008 and featured a solitary island overflowing with people (which my kids kindly told me looked like a pizza). Keep in mind that creating art with a message is not my forte' - but here is the original art before I decided to use all that lovely texture as the backdrop of my latest floral painting.

To see the making of this piece (and hear a very somber me, and p.s., STILL somber about climate change) - check out my old youtube video!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Garden Under the Sea

"My Sea Garden"
30 x 40 x 2 inches
ORIGINAL Acrylic on Canvas

This painting is one of my favorites! I love the feeling of a bright and bold underwater secret garden that is made just for me. These are my shapes floating on the strands of kelp and seaweed instead of their usual flower stems. Being a fan of snorkeling (preferring tropical waters for such outings), I have long enjoyed the ocean and its many inhabitants. There aren't any fish here, but maybe down the road you will find one or two.

I hope you enjoy "My Sea Garden"!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thankful for some Quality Studio Time!

This week I have felt especially productive in the studio!

I'm working on a large commission piece which is almost done (and looking amazing, I must say), starting another painting to prepare for 2 March shows, and re-working an older painting that needed to take a new direction - and WOW, it's definitely an improvement. On top of that, I have a series of 16 small drawings I'm creating to use with the image transfer process I've been doing lately. Oh, do I have some PLANS for those!

So, what started this sudden burst of creativity?

A) Necessity - Show season is coming and I need to get work done now before life starts getting more hectic

B) The Weather - Sunshine has finally come to the valley again, which is always a great inspiration for me!

C) The Olympics - There is nothing more motivating than seeing people who have worked so hard to be the best in their field reach their goals.

D) Music - My ipod seemed to be malfunctioning this week and forced me to borrow my son's. WOW, his music selection is a lot more fun and energetic than mine!

E) All of the above.

OK, you guessed it - the answer is E. This week was the perfect storm of creativity and I believe all 4 of these things contributed successfully.

In fact, I better get back in the studio - the Olympics won't last forever!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Short Trip Down Memory Lane: Easels for Sale!

check out that metal art school easel now making a home in my studio!

One of my first trips walking around the OSU campus took me to their Art department. It's been 20 years since my stint as an art school student at the UW, and I don't think I had walked thru the behind the scenes environment of that life since. I was pleasantly surprised to find that (at least at OSU) the old metal, "made in the metal shop", easels were still the rage, along with the gray drawing horses set up in circles around the classroom studios. I love that living out of a warehouse, paint and charcoal everywhere, renegade artist feel!

So, when I was perusing the OSU weekly "used stuff nobody on campus wants anymore so let's make a buck or two from joe public" sale a couple weeks ago (p.s. I LOVE that sale and could spend hours looking and wanting all the random things found there), I was pleasantly surprised to find several old art school easels for sale. Being that these are the easels with which I first learned to paint, they felt like coming home. I HAD to have one.

$15.00 later and I do! Check it out.

And if you are in the Corvallis, OR area, I would highly recommend stopping by their sale (officially called the SURPLUS SALE)on Wednesdays! And check it out - that's my husband, Scott, being featured on their home page! (If you don't see him at first, try refreshing the page)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pondering my Latest Painting...

Prints Available on Imagekind

"Above it All"
30 x 40 x 1.5 inches
Original Acrylic on Canvas

I love studio time. The ACTUAL studio time. You know, the time that I am actually painting! When I'm in that moment, I am completely in the paint, in the painting. My surroundings are gone. My to do list is obsolete. I am an artist, and only an artist, color and texture flying. Wet paint brushes piling up in my jar for rinsing. Paint tubes disappearing. THAT is studio time, and I love it. On a good day, I can get 3-4 hours of this uninterrupted bliss. Those are my favorite days.

Since I try to keep as much of my studio time as actual paint time, when I'm in the middle of a painting I still need to find time to contemplate it. I find this crucial step in the creative process is often misunderstood. I will be staring at a painting and will often get the confused questions... "What are you looking at?", "Is it done?", "What are you doing???"

Well, I'm contemplating my painting! I'm thinking about the colors, the shapes, the composition, the layers, how would it be better or have a clearer message. I am simply looking and thinking and adjusting in my mind so that I'll know where to go during my next painting session.

So... where do I find the time for this critical step in a busy day? In my family room, of course! I find putting my latest piece on display at home in a room where I spend most of my personal time gives me plenty of time to sit back, relax, and stare!

I hope you enjoy the results of my latest contemplation - "Above It All"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Original Drawings - Enjoying my Childhood Medium

"Bicycling Down the Path Less Traveled"
ORIGINAL drawing - Available on ETSY
$45.00 plus shipping

My first official REAL art supply was a box of Faber Castell colored pencils my Aunt gave to me one Christmas when I was around 9 or so. I LOVED them, and spent many an afternoon looking up animal photographs in my Ranger Rick magazine attempting to create photo realistic images using my new colored pencils. I've always had a good eye for proportions and detail and could easily freehand a pretty good likeness.

Since then, having the world of art broken wide open for me in college (I never actually took any art in high school) learning to use charcoal and oil paints, I rarely looked back to my young colored pencil days. In the last couple years, however, I have gained a renewed interest in this fun and versatile medium, and will often use colored pencil drawings to help me with ideas for larger paintings or to alleviate my creative impulses when I'm traveling without my paint bag. I've also added the fun of a newer artist material (India Ink Pens - also by Faber Castell), to further define the lines and shapes in my drawings, as well as using Acrylics over them too.


1) In the first drawing, "Bicycling Down the Path Less Traveled", I started with a pencil sketch, then added colored pencil, and finally acrylic paint to the tulips in the foreground. I find the acrylic paint fun to use over colored pencil, as you never know how the colors will interact and how much of the colored pencil will show thru. Although not shown here, it's especially fun to use white or yellow over the darker colored pencils - a great example of which is an older drawing of Holland I have HERE on Imagekind.

2) In the second drawing, "Tangerines at Dusk", I've used colored pencil for the entire body of the drawing and then added a little navy blue ink embellishment for the leaves shown in shadow.

3) In the third drawing, "Harvest Time", I've played back and forth with colored pencil and india ink pens, overlapping mediums less, which gives the drawing more vivid color and cleaner lines.

4) Finally, in "Ready to Ride" I have a pen and ink drawing on gessoed masonite over which I have added color with the colored pencils. As with "Tangerines at Dusk", you can see where I've layered darker colored pencils with white/lighter colored pencils - giving it more of a pastel look and feel. I find the colored pencil blending tool especially helpful with this technique as well.

All in all, the experimenting has been fun, and I hope you enjoy a few of the results from the last couple years! And, if you want to see one of my childhood drawings - check out the tiger on my artist bio page HERE!

"Tangerines at Dusk"
ORIGINAL drawing - Available on ETSY
$85.00 plus shipping

"Harvest Time"
ORIGINAL drawing - Available on ETSY
$40.00 plus shipping

"Ready to Ride"
ORIGINAL Drawing - Available on ETSY
$50.00 plus shipping

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