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Silence is Golden

April 19th, 2017

Silence is Golden

Spring has sprung...and Mother Nature welcomes 'the change' in her own wild, wacky & wonderful way! Moody, fickle & temperamental, she offers us 'overcast & chilly with a chance of snow' one day, 'balmy breezes & sunny blue skies' the next. I can work with that! Happy to get going on the annual garden cleanup when the latter prevails, like today with its warmer temps, which made picking up the debris after my tree guy took down a large pine near the front porch not that much of a chore. Plus, a 'kind of hush' has been restored in the hood after the chainsaw racket; definitely an improvement. Call me wimpy, but when it's too cold, I simply refuse to work outside! All those extra layers just make it hard on a girl. Looking & lumbering about like a lumberjack is not my idea of 'cool'. Lol. You can bet that when I'm cozy & comfy inside working on a painting, being creative on the computer or just chillin' in hibernation mode, I can think of a million excuses not to don long underwear, overalls, my jacket, headband, hat, gloves, boots & knee pads [whew!] to tackle even more projects. Too much of an effort! The peace & quiet of our hilltop abode surrounded by oaks, madrona, pines [one less] and a very large redwood sequoia these last few months has been a blessing. With so much going on in the world, I cherish, and protect, what tranquility can be found, especially on the home front ~ brisk nature walks alone on overcast chilly windy days, sitting by the fire in the evening with my husband on silent snowy nights, the less hurried pace of late fall & winter, the 'extra' time there seems to be to get stuff done inside, things we put off when sunny skies invite us out to work & play in the garden...and the shorter days in which to snuggle up with a cup of tea [and mate], read a good book and NOT feel guilty. Once again, spring reigns ~ its promise of hope & renewal engages our senses and re-ignites our passion. We get on with the hustle & bustle of life, albeit, sometimes, reluctantly. Time waits for no one, as the seasons, coming & going way too quickly for me, will attest. Up here in southern Oregon, the unpredictability of a spring day can be somewhat entertaining since you never know what will transpire from one minute to the next. In 24-hours, you may experience thunder & lightning, sunshine, a passing rainstorm, gusts, hail & possibly snow! Just the other day, I opened the front door to a soft layer of white blanketing the yard & trees...and the next took a jacket-less walk in my neighborhood park under a blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds where I snapped this photograph titled 'Almost Spring on Golden Pond'. See page-15 of my 'Images' for more. No matter the season, may your days & lives be filled with moments of sanctuary, solitude & reflection, time to replenish the spirit, restore sanity & renew your heart's desire[s]. 'Peace out'...make that 'within & without'.

Designs for FAA Merchandise and Home Decor Products

January 23rd, 2017

Designs for FAA Merchandise and Home Decor Products

Some images go better on FAA 'Home Decor' items and 'Art-on-Merchandise' than others! In fact, some members design imagery specifically for these options, a la size, shape, colors, pattern & style. Here's a recent upload from my gallery 'Fire in the Sky - Autumn Abstract' shown on a mug. See page-15 of my 'Images' for more re this gorgeous piece. You are welcome to 'Shop' for mugs, tees, duvets, towels, shower curtains, greeting cards & fine art prints via my Artist Profile pages or FAA Website, the latter which you can access by clicking on 'Contact', then 'Visit Website'. Actually, my website has more to offer as far as products! There are many print options & images to choose from...so, enjoy. And, please, ask if you have any questions. I'm happy to help!
Art Prints

Hosting FAA Contests - the good, the bad, the ugly

September 9th, 2016

Hosting FAA Contests - the good, the bad, the ugly

"In the last year & a half, I've hosted nearly 300 contests, which, as you can imagine, has been both rewarding and challenging! I realize it's strictly voluntary on my part, but, if one does it well, the tending part, it does takes a bit of time & patience. So, there are a few things folks need to know. But first, could someone please tell me how certain members find the time to administer groups, host contests, create new work, write a blog, post in the discussion forum, promote their art & photography, manage a job, have the energy to spend with family & friends...and get a good night's sleep? Sigh, I wish I could drink coffee, again!

Hosting duties did take a backseat for a couple of months with warmer temps & fairer-weather projects calling my name ~ the garden, home dyi endeavors, a slew of unfinished paintings, new nature photography & digital creations, as well as the endless updating of site[s] and learning new ropes re promoting my work. Naturally more artiste than promoter, the latter does prove a bit tricky, but willing student & quick-study that I claim to be, 'game on'. Of course, there's [also] life in general, which always needs tending! The old saying is true ~ A woman's work is never done! Good news is, I'm back with a slew of new contests for members to enjoy!

For me, hosting [and entering] contests is my idea of 'fun in the sun' here. But, as other hosts & group administrators will agree, some members can make it plain unpleasant if you let 'em. For starters, there are those who get bent of of shape when you remove their images not following the [simple] rules, even when you've offered them a chance to re-enter with ones that do! Go figure. Then, there are those who will try & 'help' you run your contest when they've never taken the time to host one themselves! Creating & tending a contest on FAA isn't rocket science, after all...well, for some it might be, lol. I always 'suggest' that folks host at least one of their own, which never fails to garner their lasting & genuine respect, if they actually do! Don't be 'confused' by my looks, I am a summa cum laude graduate, a professional artist for over 35 years, have journeyed through many a major tragedy & trial...and so much more! I'm pleased to see & hear that members do enjoy participating in [my] on-site contests, so I must be doing something right? The occasional rotten apple or two or three will try & spoil the whole darn experience, though, and I've been asked to address that, plus a couple other 'issues' surrounding contests.

One thing we hosts wonder aloud about is 'why' some members can't, or won't, simply read & follow the rules? I realize it's not in some of our DNA, as creative sorts, to abide by rules, as a rule [lol], but that's how things roll here, which you will find out if you EVER host a contest! Structure is a good thing. It's a mystery to me that no matter how many times I may say, 'NO b&w images, please', people will enter b&w images! I will ask for, 'Photography ONLY', and, sure enough, folks will enter their paintings. When I say 'Family-friendly entries ONLY', to most people that means: no nudity, violent, eerie, offensive or other wise sinister images, right? Not so much, it seems, for some...and I've seen it all. So, yeh, the rules, the rules, please read the rules!

Another problem plaguing contests, no matter how much some hosts work to combat the practice, is 'group vote solicitation' and 'manipulation'. Actually, there are some contests & groups set up to allow for it, but the majority of members, administrators & hosts don't encourage the behavior. Certain members will resort to this type of activity just because they think they can...right...wrong! They won't get away with it in mine. Some just do not want to play fairly or think that winning or placing is SO damn important they are oblivious to other member's rights to an equal playing field. A lot of times, those soliciting votes have work that is less than stellar, so it's really not a good thing. Certainly, it doesn't allow the 'best of the best' to rise to the top when folks are manipulating the board. That only lets us know who is best at soliciting votes, not who has the best work! It's true, too, that being a member of certain FAA groups helps members place in contests. Some administrators actually provide a forum in their discussions for members to 'beg' for votes. So tacky. Plus, friends will vote for friends; can't be helped. They will support one another however they can, in voting blocks, at times, even when not [overtly] asked. Sometimes, it can look like a 'popularity contest' or worse, not simply a contest where the person who best deserves to win wins! It's true that many are deserving, but only one can win. Thankfully, the number of groups and/or contest hosts encouraging members to actively solicit votes is dwindling. And, if a contest host is on his or her toes, the offending entries will be removed ASAP. Sometimes, I'll have participating members actually emailing ME to offer a head's up if they smell something fishy going on and who the culprits are! But, more folks are refraining from blatant solicitation these days...or 'promotion', as they call it. There will always be those who can't help themselves, though, working tirelessly behind the scenes to garner votes & wins. I could name names, but mum's the word. Btw, juried contests have their own share of issues, the panel members voting for their own entries or a friend's. Being 'impartial' is a good idea, but it hardly happens. Friends vote for friends, jury or not. I've seen the host, who is also 'the jury', voting their own work into 1st place, so you gotta have a sense of humor about it all!

Like I said earlier, I really do enjoy hosting duties, most of the time. It can be a lot of fun coming up with creative & interesting ideas, making rules, promoting member's work, seeing some really spectacular images and encouraging lively contest participation. Glad to say I'm never disappointed, well, almost never! I've met some wonderful, super-talented 'friends'...and, unfortunately, made some 'enemies', too. Some people just can't help but be negative about the simplest things. I've heard some, well, one in particular, say that contests are only for fun & don't make a dif as far as sale$. Funny, I hear folks saying they've made several sales directly due to entering contests. I want to make sure to mention the majority of folks here who are positive & supportive, those who share their enthusiasm for life, in general...and who can follow instructions! Very refreshing. Plus, it's nice to know that members really do want a host who pays attention to the details, especially their own contest rules, and, also, offer some sort of mention re the results at the end. I know I appreciate it when a host does that in the ones I enter, but it's rare. I've probably heard back from a handful, if that, even when I've won!

More about VOTING...yes, there's more! Many of those entering contests will just vote on their own images...and that's it. As I said above, some only enter for the 'exposure' and never show up to vote. That's fine; to each their own. But, usually participants will take a few minutes to scroll through the pages of thumbnails [a couple, anyway] and vote on other people's work, too. I mean, since you're 'there'? Also, a lot of folks complain about there being too many entries in some of the contests, making it way too time-consuming to vote. I agree. It's important for hosts to watch the number of images they permit, even though FAA guidelines allow up to 10! The contest limit overall is 2500, though some actually surpass that mark. I like to vary mine, not only in subject matter, but amount of entries. If I know the topic will bring a bigger turnout, I'll limit it to 1 or 2. If it's something like 'Floral Abstracts in Acrylic', I'll allow more, since most folks here are photographers...and not a lot of artists paint floral acrylic abstracts! Lol. But, those two things, allowing 10 images & reaching 2500+ entries, cause two really BIG problems for contest participants! One being, once a contest reaches 2500+, those who entered earliest will not be counted at all, as in their images won't get any votes. It's true; their entries don't even show up for others to vote on. Secondly, that's an awful lot of images to sift through in order to vote...and most people just don't have the time, patience or attention span to do so! Scrolling through the pages of thumbnails to cast your vote[s], btw, is a lot easier than looking at individual image, I mean, IF you're going to vote. All that being said, hosts will still decide what they will or won't allow in their contests, according to FAA rules...and members will still enter, maybe win or place, continue to complain and, sometimes, vote!

So, what's the big deal about contests? Well, it's a communal platform offered by the site to share & showcase our, the member's, work, have a little friendly competition and garner a sale or two ~ a 'win-win' situation. Our fellow members might well pass on the images we submit to their friends or family. The public, both visitors & potential buyers, who are invited to check out my contests, will, hopefully, do the same. When hosting, I look at EACH participant's image, even those contests with the largest number[s] of entries. That way, I not only weed out [remove] those not following the rules, but I get to see hundreds, sometimes, thousands of artists/photographers, some of whose work I promote & share with my friends & family. They, in turn, can share and/or purchase it, as well. Placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd, btw, will usually get you the honor of 'bragging rights' and some extra attention, as 'real' prizes are rarely offered. But, getting your work seen in the main objective. The 'Other Top Winners' category, which makes up most of the leaderboard, affords you more views, too. So, in the end, contests are a great resource ~ they provide a wonderful forum for us to display our art and garner some $ales in the process, which is really the whole idea in the first place, besides the fun, sharing & competitive part!

Here are my top tips for members hosting their own contests:
1. Always provide a group email & link when it's time to vote! Can't tell you how frustrating it is to get the email with NO link or even the contest title itself, just a 'Time to Vote', which is a waste of time!
2. Limit the number of entries. I prefer 3 or less, depending on the contest. Members will appreciate it...and you!
3. If you don't want folks to solicit votes, say it in your rules/description. It doesn't stop the practice completely, but the warning gives YOU the power to remove those you suspect or know are asking for votes. You might make an enemy or two when removing images that don't follow your contest description, but it's par for the course. A thicker skin is needed...and that sense of humor I mentioned above.
4. Be specific in your description, make a few simple rules and, then, follow through re. The other day someone entered a goofy-looking gumball machine & another image that had nothing to do with the contest title or description in my 'Beautiful Trees' contest, which, of course, I removed...and, then, received a nasty email re! Hard to believe that folks are that ignorant & confrontational when they are the ones in the wrong!? I mean there are many many other contests in which the host has no clue, so I welcome folks to enter those instead.
5. Choose subjects & styles that will appeal to visitors & collectors looking for specific types of art & photography. They are coming on site looking to buy, so help them out by offering interesting topics that will catch their eye & attention. Make sure you [also] ask participants to enter their BEST work...and dump the images that are not, as in shoddy-shot, ill-cropped, etc.
6. Tend your contests if you want members returning for more! You might want to also 'congratulate' the winners on their winning image itself. Again, members appreciate it and are more likely to keep entering your contests when they see someone actually cares.

To those needing a reminder, PLEASE read & follow the rules. It makes it so much easier for us hosts. I can't tell you how many worthy images I've removed that just didn't follow the guidelines, usually 5 or more per page. There are scads of other contests to enter that don't give a hoot about what kind of work you post, how many images you upload, provide any rules whatsoever or offer any follow-through at the end. 'Good luck' with whatever you decide to do. For me, I'm cutting back on contest hosting for a little while, but will still show up from time to time to post/host one just because! Hope to see you there...here. Until then, Happy Trails."


{Photo: My husband & I at our former business of nearly 20 years, a gallery in downtown Ashland, OR.}

Art-on-Products...and thoughts re

July 5th, 2016

Art-on-Products...and thoughts re

I keep going back 'n forth re the idea of placing my art & photography on the growing number of 'home decor' items now being offered on Fine Art America. My main reason for joining the site in the 1st place, and dumping all of my other on-line shops, was FAA's reputation for selling only 'fine art prints', not the myriad merchandise options up for grabs on [so] many other POD sites. What a breath of fresh 'artistic' air, I thought...and I've been an active member ever since. Unfortunately, things started to change on FAA...and I understand why ~ you need to stay current & keep up with the stiff competition out there. Who can blame anyone for that? It's the name of the game.

With the thousands of members already uploading thousands of images a day, and the legions joining as we 'speak', each with the [same] hope of selling their work and wanting a little attention, it's getting even more difficult to get seen, much less appreciated. Unless you are famous, lucky enough to be a BIG seller by bringing in buyers or in the right place at the right time, you hardly garner a glance. We hear it time & again, 'If you build it, they will come' or 'If you love what you do enough, success will follow'. Hmm, it does happen! So, we keep creating our beautiful art & taking amazing pictures that we can't wait to upload ~ things people 'ooh' & 'ah' over all the time. We promote the heck out of it and, sometimes, when all else fails, we do things we wouldn't 'normally' dream of in order to keep pursuing our dream of making a living from our lovely works-of-art ~ we, gulp, put our art on 'wearable~tote-able~throw-able~usable~everyday' products!

A lot of us work hard to promote our work...and we each think we're 'special'! As our favorite site heads into this 'more is more' direction a lot of members feel 'less & less' able to find a place in the FAA sun, even when we've done all we know to do to promote, promote, promote and be active. With all the new products, and the old, there is always the question of QUALITY, which is a big issue! I would not be so reluctant, probably, to join the bandwagon in a bigger way, IF I knew the quality was e-x-c-e-l-l-e-n-t, and consistently so! Being a seamstress, I am very aware of the details of garment construction & finish work, which are essential when including home decor products for $ale, in my opinion. I'd hoped that would be the case...and, I'm guessing, most members & collectors feel the same way. There's also the question of pricing ~ how much will consumers want to pay for these items? IF the quality is superb, I can see charging more since we're offering original [for the most part] art & photography. But, who is going to pay an arm & a leg for a tote, say, that's marginally-constructed when you can buy a better, well-made, double-stitched & longer-lasting product at the local market? Something to ponder.

After some 'bah, humbug' moments, well, make that days & weeks, and some less-than-enthusiastic conversations with others, I inhaled deeply & took a 'leap of faith' and placed some of my work on a selection of products. I created & hosted myriad contests in order to showcase member's works-on-products [still do!], assuming they were worthy & worth my efforts. I also purchased several items to check for quality. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed with my order, which was really frustrating...and sad. It wasn't just the poor construction, but the clarity of the images appearing on the fabric choices. Not thrilled to say the least. In fact, I went through all my images & removed every one from every product!

Then, I began to read the community discussion threads more regularly and kept seeing conflicting reports ~ some said, and are saying, that they are happy with the products, while others say just the opposite. I noticed, too, that those with righteous complaints were/are being shushed or pooh-poohed, which bothered me. It also made me wonder if some members, maybe those selling in the upper brackets, were receiving better-made or higher-quality products & prints, while those of us average Joe's or Jo's were getting the less-than-stellar version[s]? Consistency is SO important...and not for just the top dogs! It does seem, perhaps, that those selling well often have several on-line shops/venues ~ here, there & everywhere, instead of concentrating only on FAA, which I thought was preferred. I do remember when membership just on FAA was being touted as optimal...and to be rewarded?

So, yeh, offering art & photography on products ~ it remains a dilemma for me. That is even more true for artists than primarily photographers, I think, because, if not done well, it really can 'cheapen our work', as 'they' say. When compared to cyber marketplace sites offering similar merchandise, is it simply enough to match their quality...or is it worthwhile to exceed it? I am on board with the latter...which can only happen if 'we' actually offer a BETTER product. Why is it, I wonder, that great quality is not the rule, but rather the exception these days?

We ALL want to make money with our art & photography; that's a given. And, I continue to wrestle with the 'why not' and 'the more the merrier' part. In that vein, I have re-added a selection of my images to certain products & sizes of, once more. I will simply cross my fingers & pray that whoever might purchase something from my gallery will be happy, or happy enough, to keep & enjoy what they receive. Not every one has higher standards when it comes to these kind of things, I get it, but it would be nice, once in a while, to have your expectations met...and/or exceeded, instead of having to accept the status quo. I have dragged my feet in promoting my gallery & the site, but am going to be more pro-active in doing so, as it is my ONLY venue. Onward I go. Wish me luck!

{Logo image: 'Aria', an original acrylic painting, seen here on a round beach towel. Scroll through my 'Images' to see more.}

Singing the Blues with Jim Belushi

April 30th, 2016

Singing the Blues with Jim Belushi

My husband, John, a musician-singer-songwriter, just spent the last week in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery ~ talk about the blues. His energy is returning and his voice getting stronger, so we're making progress, yay, and just in time!

Jim Belushi has requested that John's blues band 'Duke Street' accompany him at a local event here in the Rogue Valley to help rebuild the old Eagle Point Mill, a working historical [flour] mill, which recently burned to the ground. Gone are the priceless antiques, in-house store & very cool facade, complete with vintage signs & items that can't be replaced.

Jim, who has a compound nearby on the Rogue River, has been kind enough, since moving to the area, to lend his name & talent to a number of causes to aid those in need, introduce himself & become part of the southern OR community. Kudos, Jim. Really nice guy ~ witty, funny, intelligent, creative.

It helped that John's band opened for Jim's last summer to benefit a local theater restoration...and that he also played for Jim's wrap party at the close of his reality show. So, a very kind gesture on Mr. Belushi's behalf to ask Duke Street to play with him once more for this latest 'Rebuild the Mill'.

Singing the blues, in this case, is helping to chase the blues away in more than one way. And, maybe there might be a new addition to the touring 'Blues Brothers' duo? It could happen!

Interestingly, I met Jim's brother, John Belushi, years ago backstage at a concert in L.A. Also, his 'Curly Sue' co-star, all grown up now, is shining brightly on this season's 'The Voice'!

The Art of Reworking Older Pieces

March 26th, 2016

The Art of Reworking Older Pieces

Ever sort through your inventory of [older] unsold pieces and rework them? I do...and am always glad I did. Well, except for that one which was better off before its extreme-makeover, lol. Probably shouldn't have been quite so enthusiastic about changing-up the original, but c'est la vie; live & learn. Seemed like a good idea at the time...and, I still can work my magic on that particular canvas if I want to 'go there' again.

You would never recognize the 'before' of some pieces found in my gallery! For example, my 30 x 40 acrylic 'Imagine' [see via the comments below w/added border & title], formerly titled 'Deeper Love', was a flowing floral painting! Now, with its new title & imagery, it has become one of my most popular 'winningest' works of art.

Currently, I'm working on 'Second Wind', seen here, which is an original mixed-media piece, 10+ years old, one of 12-piece exhibit I lovingly called 'Females, Fruit, Flowers & Flying Things'! Each was a combination of soft pastel, colored pencil, collage & more, [matted & framed], an all-time favorite show and a successful one, I'm happy to say. It was during an especially creative time of my life, so every piece held & holds a special place in my heart! This particular one did not sell, thankfully. Odd to hear, I know. But, it gave me the opportunity to breathe new life into it ~ as in more energy, color & movement. Plus, I kinda like[d] having it around to be honest! In fact, I've hung at least 10 of my favorite originals to decorate the walls & rooms of our home. Just can't bear to let go of any of them at this juncture...and none need further tweaking, yay!

Going through some other stored canvases & framed art, I also pulled out a couple of pieces that, to my now more-discerning eye, could use a little extra help, a flourish of color or some shading here & there...or more. So, when 'Second Wind' is finished, I will start updating those, beginning with another beloved painting, 'Place of Origin', which I've kept over the years for my own selfish pleasure. It needs a little freshening-up ~ like the rose in its center, for starters, could use some more definition. Just my opinion. Then, perhaps, I'll offer it for sale, so that someone else can enjoy its beauty & sensual delights, too. Or, maybe, I might consider willing both it & 'Second Wind' to certain family members who I know will treasure it [almost] as much as I do, and have. Such is the dilemma & joy of being an artist.

There are always a host of unfinished canvases standing around the studio that need my [undivided] creative attention, it's true. I hope to start tackling that project come summer, if not before, one of many on my 'to-do' list. Wish me luck...I'll need it!

Easy does it---or does it

January 28th, 2016

Easy does it---or does it

In a world gone crazy what keeps you sane? Some people can 'take it easy' better than others; different strokes for different folks. But, sometimes, it's 'just hard' to experience that 'peaceful easy feeling' when our days [and nights!] can be spent dealing with difficult people, places & things: issues with banks, insurance providers, return policies, bad information, death & taxes.

There's some serious & righteous griping to be had and a whole lot of frustration going on out there, physically, mentally, emotionally, politically & spiritually. Our nights, meant to provide rest & relaxation, can also prove restless, and sleepless, not offering us the relief we need to deal with [the] myriad 'issues' affecting us, worldwide, regionally & personally.

We can downsize, simplify & organize til the cows come home, but does all that make life easier & more peaceful in the end or just that we have an endless array of baggage to sort through & tend, internally & externally? And by simplifying our belongings do we, then, feel more like we belong?

What keeps you from shouting, 'Stop the world, I want to get off!'? Whether a quick fix or long-lasting, what have you found that makes 'it' all worthwhile & gets you through the day, and life, in a happier, healthy way.

Age is Just a Number

December 28th, 2015

Age is Just a Number

The older I get the more 'age is just a number' rings true. Also true that I'm going to stop counting come next year's big day, lol! But, seriously, age really is a state-of-mind, all about attitude, really just a number. Important to make each day count, in some big or small way, even if simply putting a smile on someone else's face...or your own!

I'm actually going to buy my first pair of roller-blades this New Year! If you knew my real age, that would mean something; you would be impressed! What do 'they' mean you can't teach an old dawg, in this case 'chick', new tricks?!

I guess it helps that I used to love to roller-skate, have an innate sense of balance and was a she-devil on the ocean boardwalks/sidewalks back in the day. Had my flashy orange leather skates w/yellow laces, tanned legs and well-oiled wheels flying in the wind...minus the headgear and shin/ knee guards, which I don't remember even being around then!? Not a huge stretch that I taught myself how to roller-blade in half-an-hour while on a visit to my old digs in San Diego recently. Again, minus all the gear! True, I hadn't been on roller-skates for eons and was a tad tetter-y/totter-y at first, but I got the knack of it pretty quickly...and was off gliding into the salty sea breeze sunset in minutes. Fun stuff.

So, yep, got myself over onto the ol' boardwalk [again] and into the flow of traffic rather easily after a little practice session on Fiesta Island. 'You go, girl' will always be my motto...at any age!

One of Those Days

November 17th, 2015

One of Those Days

Sometimes you just need to vent! In a nutshell, four of our 'dear' neighbors have some form of construction/remodeling in progress, which seems to be taking for EVER. A new developer in town also recently bought up the vacant lots over across the street & is building two new spec homes. She & her crew have already rubbed everyone in the hood the wrong way, almost coming to blows at one point. We were such a quiet, loving bunch before! She actually had to dig up our street 3 times [so far!] to install utility lines, today being the 3rd. Yi-yi-yi...beep-beep-beep. Noise begins each morning at 7 a.m. sharp and there's no end in sight. I'm a night owl, so you can imagine my frustration & lack of sleep.

Calls for a deep, cleansing breath, right? Wrong! Trouble is the 'aroma' from our local dentist's residential medical marijuana 'plantation' up the block is overwhelming. Can't remember when I enjoyed the scent of roses from my garden as opposed to the skunk-y weed smell wafting through the holler. And, now, the printer just called to say my greeting card order was messed up [again!] & they will have to start over. Noooooo! We were informed earlier this week that our home/auto insurance rates are rising by leaps & bounds, so part of the morning was spent finding more affordable coverage & doing the-do re all that. And that's not the end of it. My energy level is draining about as quickly as the water level out at the lake.

On the bright side, good news is it's a lovely autumn day & I'm looking forward to a brisk chilly walk later this p.m. to revive the senses. I'm alive, mobile & in a somewhat creative mood, considering, which is a plus. I have a sweet hubby & all of you, yay. ISIL is not forcing me to leave my country with nothing but the clothes on my back in search of a new life in a new land. And, I just renewed ties with an old friend. In the whole scheme of things, problems can be solved & things will, hopefully, soon improve, crossing fingers. Hope you're having a better time of it!

{Logo: Photo of our shrinking Emigrant Lake, just south of town.}

The ART of Home Decor

September 18th, 2015

The ART of Home Decor

In a 'leap of faith' this past year, I dropped my several other POD artist sites to promote my work exclusively on Fine Art America/Pixels.com! I had good reason[s] to make such a drastic move, I thought. Not only did I want to downsize in order to give FAA my full attention, but it seemed that those in charge were on top of things, wanting what was best for both [their] members & customers, as well as the site itself, a win-win situation in my view. So, I placed all my 'art' eggs into one FAA basket...and here's why:
[1] It appeared to be a professionally-run, well-organized & presented site, easy-to-navigate. [2] Social/networking & community aspects were high on the list of perks. [3] FINE ART ONLY products were available, not cheesy home decor/design items, something I had not been happy with regarding [my] other on-line shops. [4] Scads of opportunities were/are available, like hosting contests, developing your own artist's website...or creating a blog. [5] We could set our own prices, which, crossing fingers, I hope continues!

Wow, SO refreshing, I thought. I even posted what became a super-popular thread in the community discussion forum, 'Thankful for FAA', inviting members to share their positive experiences & gratitude for the site. You can imagine my dismay, then, when FAA recently introduced a line of home decor products...and they keep coming! Uh oh, I thought, here we go...again. I swore I would not join the bandwagon heralding such things, as I was under the impression, due to past experience, that it would cheapen my work, as you can't always count on images to transfer to certain products well, like those made with certain fabric, including canvas or cotton. To get the best print results, a poly-cotton blend is the way to go, plus you'll have less wrinkling & longer wear!

Don't get me wrong, I realize POD sites need to be seen by the public, potential buyers, search engines & so on, as well as keep up with the latest trends and/or try to out-do their competitors. I also know that our soon-to-be main site Pixels.com was created to carry ALL print products available on site, including apparel & phone cases. At first, we were told by management that NO home decor products would be offered in our FAA galleries, but, for some reason, I'm seeing throw pillows, duvets & totes appearing alongside 'fine art' prints in my portfolio. If it's confusing to me, it just also might be to potential buyers?

I wondered if anyone else was concerned with these same issues...and began reading the discussion threads. Yes, yes, they were. Members were sharing their opinions, pro & con...and I added my two cents. After toying with the idea of offering my work on decor items, I decided I'd rather concentrate on the 'fine art prints' only. I wasn't saying 'no' forever, but would play the 'waiting game' for a spell, hoping the site would iron out its problems. It can happen! But, the pressure was on...and I was feeling it, plus I want to continue being successful just like the next artist-photographer! I LIKE my work & think it should sell well. It's true, we are encouraged to promote, promote, promote our work, to $ell anything & everything. And, a lot of members are eager to do just that, offer ALL their images on anything & everything...tacky, worthy, or not!

Hmm, I thought, I don't want to be a 'party pooper'? Maybe I could up my sales, as well, if I joined in the 'home decor fun'! After some discussion with my husband, and seeing several members whose work I admired offering such items, I thought, well, maybe it could work, maybe this will be different, maybe FAA/Pixels' products & printing will be fabulous and I can feel good about offering them to potential clients?

I created a 'Pillow Talk' gallery, w/select pieces of my work on throw pillows, and, then, one titled 'Totes-to-Go', offering, you guessed it, some of my images on tote bags! Wow, the more the merrier, right? In my usual helpful way, I went so far as to host scads of contests, some currently in-progress, just so we members could further showcase our [best] work-on-products. I even added an assortment of images on phone cases, as well as a select few on duvets! Cool...or so, I thought.

Checking the discussion forum for further updates, I saw new 'issues' being reported, and, once again, questioned whether this was such a great idea? And today, I'm seeing that shower curtains and, possibly, calendars might be added to the list of items for sale? I welcome the calendars, btw, but think that the issues surrounding other items should be addressed & resolved BEFORE adding more & more items for public consumption. If you're going to test a product, then, do it for free or offer a huge discount! Quality is so important. We NEED to be able to trust & depend on FAA/Pixels.com to provide that service for its members & buyers. I spend an enormous amount of time plugging the site, adding new work, creating & tending contests, joining groups & discussions and promoting my work. Quality control, dependability & good customer service should be the #1 priority...and not something members need worry about!

After ALL the hard work it takes to set up a gallery of images, including customizing products, uploading images, adding keywords & descriptions, setting prices, etc., it would be a shame to simply delete entire galleries of mine offering home decor products. I will wait to see what transpires before going that far. The products 'look' great, even sound great, but I don't want to 'hold my breath & cross my fingers' re what will turn up at the doorstep of a customer...or mine, as I'm patiently waiting to place a very large order, myself, to send to family, friends, clients, gallery spaces of my own, as well as to keep and/or send as gifts. Btw, this afternoon, I saw a couple of discussion threads praising the quality of totes, pillows and the like, which gives me HOPE! I thrive on h-o-p-e...hard work, organization & having a clear workable vision.

So, here's the deal, I'm going to place an order this evening to check things out for myself: a few totes, several pillow cases & a couple of phone cases just to see what I get for my money. Wish me luck! I'll report back via the community discussion forum & comments below as soon as I receive my order. Can't wait.

{Logo: A favorite abstract image on a throw pillow...the 'quilted' look.}

 

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