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Your Blog - Is It Worth Reading or Following...and Why

March 14th, 2018

Your Blog - Is It Worth Reading or Following...and Why

Friends, followers, fellow bloggers ~ I had a few minutes and decided to scroll through our FAA member blogs to see what's new! Thoroughly enjoyed those knowing what the heck they're doing & saying, but others, hmm, not so much? A 'blog' is defined as a journal or diary written for public viewing on a website, consisting typically of personal reflections, commentary on current events or self-promotion, sometimes containing imagery, and arranged chronologically. So, I'm not exactly sure 'why' some are posting, other than the site offers us the opportunity? Seeing there's a wealth of information readily available on the subject, 'Blogging Basics 101', for example, there's no good reason not to be in-the-know.

Here's what I see: [1] a handful of members creating insightful blogs w-corresponding images that are fabulous; [2] several who like posting just their on-site contest placement[s] and/or sales updates; [3] a few preferring to promote a new collection or plug an upcoming or on-going exhibit; [4] others sending out 10 posts in a row, for some odd reason, all re different topics, but not a lot of content; [5] a couple members thinking that annoying, strange and obnoxious posts are cool; and, [6] still others choosing to share a link to another of their web blog[s] or an image from their gallery, sometimes w-little-to-no explanation, just a link, that may or may not be active. It's a problem when someone wanting to see more has to, first of all, know to go to our Pixels site and find our 'Blogs' buried under 'Info' in order to access the live link..or not. Unfortunately, we also can no longer share active image links in our Profile blog comment section either. Double trouble. We can, however, post a relevant image in the upper left-hand side and direct traffic to our Profile or Artist Website or, like mine here, add something just for fun, in this case a selfie-selfie.

Interestingly, only fellow members or those w-accounts can leave a comment, so it's difficult to garner an off-site following. Also, we must remember to check on our blogs ourselves to see if someone replies, since we do not receive a notification in our 'Activity' re. Maybe higher-ups could be coaxed into making some welcomed changes for those of us choosing to use this tool...and, perhaps, more members would use it!?

In any event, it's obvious that folks are interested in venturing out into the blogosphere, so maybe I can help w-a little friendly advice? I do have quite a lot of experience under my belt, as a writer, editor, photographer, designer & visual artist of 40+ years. Maybe that means something, maybe it doesn't, lol, but, nonetheless, here we go:

[1] Spell check, everyone! It doesn't look or 'sound' good when the simplest of words are misspelled;
[2] Use the proper punctuation! Seeing that some of you share only a sentence or two, make 'it' work, so we don't have to;
[3] Tell a story, even if it's a short one! Personality & humor go a long way. Most people are attracted to warmth & creativity, as well as something visually stimulating, like pictures to aid the story-line;
[4] Be professional! Prepare a blog that YOU yourself would want to read...and follow;
[5] Pace yourself! Timing [and content!] is everything. Less IS actually more, sometimes. If you want people to take you seriously, posting every so often seems 'healthy', while posting 5 or 10 in a row every other day looks a little OCD;
[6] Tit-for-tat can work. If you want someone to respond to your blog, then respond to theirs! Should you find it helpful, interesting, educational and/or funny, let them know. It keeps a blog circulating;
[7] Think before you post!

That's it for now. Yes, you are welcome to share your thoughts below...and to check out my Profile, as well!


COLOR Heals and Transforms Our Lives

January 2nd, 2018

COLOR Heals and Transforms Our Lives

Color and life are inseparable. In all its shades, tones & hues, color influences the whole of our life, affecting our moods & emotions, and coloring our personalities. Its beauty & variety enhances and transforms our lives daily. Color has texture, taste & feel. From the brilliance of pure light come all the colors, each with their own individual impact upon our systems ~ mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually.

Many of our healing needs can be met by the use of color! How we see & use color may be but a reflection of our inner memories. Some of the most beautiful examples of color---an opalescent dawn of gold & rose, the luminous blue of an evening sky, sunlight through stained-glass windows or a rainbow spanning the heavens---may well remind us of some other realm faraway where light & color weave patterns of which we can only guess.

One of my most successful exhibits ~ 'The Healing Energy of Color' ~ was full of saturated canvases in all shapes, sizes & colors of the rainbow! 'Transformation', a 30 x 40 acrylic on canvas, shown here, is but one. See 'COLOR attributes' below for GREEN associations.

In ancient cultures color was used as a very special material symbolic of various sacred powers. It was essential for its protective & magical qualities, and the shamans or priests of the tribes were likely responsible for rock & cave paintings, choosing the colors & pigments that set the scene for everyone. Many ancient cultures worshiped the sun, the source of all color, harnessing its healing powers. Egyptian gods & goddesses had special colors denoting various qualities & powers. Emotional qualities were attributed to certain colors. RED was seen as aggressive, as well as life giving, and would be placed alongside BLUE, which was subdued, yet flowing out to infinity.

In the first century A.D. Jewish historian, Josephus, associated WHITE with earth, RED with fire, PURPLE with water and YELLOW with air. Fifteen centuries later Leonardo de Vinci stated his color preference as ~ “WHITE for the representative of light, without which no color can be seen; YELLOW for Earth; GREEN for water; BLUE for air; RED for fire; and BLACK for total darkness.”

Many ancient peoples gave colors to the four corners of the earth, but these vary over widely diverse cultures such as Old Irish, Mayan and North American Indians. Today, in Navajo sand paintings, WHITE represents universal cosmic energy; BLACK, the great void from which all comes; RED, life and energy; YELLOW the sun; and BLUE, spirituality.

All over the world colors of symbolic significance have been painted on humans, icons, walls, pottery & stonework; woven into tapestries and bead work; and incorporated into inlay work, stained glass, glass vessels & jewelry, not only for ornamentation & visual enjoyment, but for the practice of sympathetic & protective magic in all its aspects, and ultimately & simply for the glory of God.

COLOR Attributes ~

WHITE is a most sacred color, standing for purity, innocence and desire for simplicity. It's basic characteristic is equality: all colors are equal w-white. While it has associations w-both life and death, white usually stands for wholeness and harmony. Buddhists regard it as the color of self-mastery, while the ancient Egyptians considered white and green to symbolize joy. White and silver also related to the moon and the unconscious, the feminine side of human kind.

GREEN is the bridge between yellow and blue, the gateway in the spectrum. Symbolizing hope, renewal and peace, green is the color of harmony and balance. It is associated w-nature and all its aspects ~ the cycle of birth and death. It is the sacred color of Islam. In Christian thought vernal green denotes immortality, hope, the growth of the Holy Spirit in people, triumph over death and resurrection of spring after winter. Green’s most important quality is that of transformation. Clarity and understanding are at green’s core.

YELLOW and GOLD stand for the sun and all its various attributes. They signify divine power, enlightenment and immortality. Yellow is the color of happiness, wisdom and imagination. In China it is regarded as the earthly, feminine principle. Gold is the wise old sage, the color of experience, maturity and deep self-knowledge. In Hinduism gold is life, truth, light, the seed and the sign of Agni—the Hindu god of fire. Buddhists regard it as the color of humility. Gold soothes the nerves and promotes an overall feeling of well-being.

ORANGE, the complement of blue, is the color of knowledge and positive optimism. A mixture of red and yellow, orange represents youth, curiosity and fearlessness, as well as vitality and wisdom. It is also the color of luxury, pleasure and splendor. Invigorating, yet grounding, orange [along w-pink] is the most beneficial of all colors for dealing w-grief and loss.

RED represents transformation, strength, vitality and passion. Most likely it is the first color to have made a great impact on humans. Red is the color of fire—and blood, the source of mysterious power, life force, the mainstream of life. Red and white together are expressions of wholeness and perfection, unity and balance. In China, as in most cultures, red symbolizes the positive masculine essence and is regarded as the luckiest of colors. Universally, red is seen as the most creative and life-giving color. Red combinations include scarlet, crimson, flame and magenta w-pink as the “higher vibration” of red. Pink embodies the gentler qualities of red and symbolizes love and affection. It represents deep inner beauty, universal love, compassion and fulfillment of potential. Pink is comforting, relieving depression and loneliness. It’s a good color to use in a crisis.

BLUE is the color of the great deeps, the feminine and the Great Mother ~ symbolizing infinity, peace, compassion and healing. Most cultures connect blue w-truth, wisdom, constancy and introspection. As blue’s intensity deepens its many qualities are enhanced. Indigo, for example, is said to show a high degree of spiritualism, while paler hues suggest self-reliance and idealism. Cooling and calming, blue implies sincerity and a tranquil spirit.

PURPLE has the body of red and the spiritual nature of blue held in perfect union. It is the bridge to higher planes of consciousness and represents spiritual maturity. Some consider purple the color of the nucleus of life impulse ~ the color of the opening bud, the first streak of dawn and the last ray of the setting sun. In the West purple is the color of religious devotion and in many cultures is connected to ritual and royalty. Shades of violet and lilac represent spiritual service, intuition and healing powers.

GRAY is the most neutral color of all ~ the balance between the extremes of black and white. Gray represents a search for composure and peace. It implies dedication and a desire for quietness and space. At its highest silvery hue gray is the ray of peace. Silver calms the nerves and restores the equilibrium. Along w-qualities of endurance and understanding, silver represents the feminine part of the self, the moon, the delicate and cool.

BROWN is dark yellow-red and represents the color of the earth. It is associated w-stamina and patience, and represents qualities of concentration and common sense. The touch of red fire in brown adds a spark of surprise. The coppery bronze side of brown contains several colors within it and represents multiple positive aspects, particularly flow and balance. Those who relate to tan show quiet assurance and deep intuition, trusting in the natural order of things on Earth.

BLACK is the dark earth out of which all new life springs; the great void from which all comes. It is connected to our higher philosophical thoughts and ideals. Black represents mystery and discipline, which can bring freedom and liberation. Every color of the rainbow is found within black; therefore, black holds the mystery of hidden colors.

{Sources: "The Complete Book of Color Healing" by Lillian-Verner Bonds [2000] and "The Healing Power of Color" by Betty Wood.}

Christmas Joy Can Be Yours the Whole Year Through

December 7th, 2017

Christmas Joy Can Be Yours the Whole Year Through

This VERY special 'Limited Time Offer' simply can't be missed! Please enjoy a 30 x 40 fine art canvas giclee of my original acrylic painting ~ 'Dancing for Joy' ~ one of my most popular pieces. This amazing nearly half-off price can't be beat & only lasts a few days, so act quickly. With its glorious colors, fluid motion & joyful spirit, a gift of art w-special message will shine all year round!

Serenity Can Be Yours - Limited Time Promotion

December 1st, 2017

Serenity Can Be Yours - Limited Time Promotion

Purchase a 30 x 40 canvas print of 'Serenity' at fabulous price...and just in time! Taken in my lovely summer garden, this colorful orange rose macro will brighten the walls of your home-office and those of your loved ones. Offer is for 10 prints only, so act quickly. This drastic price reduction won't last! Simply click on the 'Click Here For More Information' below to view all the details!

The Perfect Fine Art Christmas Gifts at Your Fingertips

November 27th, 2017

The Perfect Fine Art Christmas Gifts at Your Fingertips

T'were the nights before Christmas...and all through this site, gifts of art for your loved ones will make Holidays bright!

Yes, everyone, it's that time of the year [again] to search for the perfect FINE ART GIFTS to send family & friends...and ourselves!

We all want to beautify our homes and office spaces w-amazing artwork & photography! 'Imagine' [shown here] is just one of the original pieces of art available in my gallery.

Speaking of, you are warmly invited to visit both my Artist Profile and Pixels Website where you'll find ~ paintings [like 'Imagine'], nature photography, pastel art, abstract digital creations, floral captures straight from the garden, birds, insects, 'Art 4 Kids' & more. Click on the 'Collections' tab for specific categories to help refine your search!

Now that FAA is venturing into the world of home decor, you can also enjoy my art & photography on a selection of home products ~ hand towels, mugs, throw pillows, etc. Any questions, concerns or comments are welcome. Wishing you & yours many blessings this holiday season & throughout the year!

NOTE: To see ALL print options, visit my site, which you can access two ways:
[1] via my Profile page by clicking on 'Contact' [me] under my avatar, then 'Visit Website', then 'Shop ~ All Products' or, more conveniently, [2] simply click on 'Click Here for More Information' just below and, once there, choose the 'Shop' tab.

Your FAA Bio...What does it say about you?

October 24th, 2017

Your FAA Bio...What does it say about you?

Let's be honest, everyone, our bios can turn people on or they can turn them off. What we choose to say & how we say it is SO important when allowing others to know who we are as artists & people! I don't know about you, but I enjoy taking a few minutes to read what members write, especially those who are creative & not too long-winded, or when someone has a way w-words & isn't too full of themselves; that's a big plus! A longer version can draw me in, too, if done w-style & humor.

Often, I will contact a member to let them know I liked what they shared & the way they did it. If I'm able to find out what makes them 'tick' on a personal level and learn a little about their creative process, then I, along w-potential buyers & patrons appreciate the 'effort'. More importantly, I might even make a new 'friend' in the process! For a f-u-n break, I will also, from time to time, assist members w-editing their bios [when asked], something I do in the 'real world', as well.

Initially, my bio contained a lot of info that I thought visitors might find interesting, like my published poetry collections, honors-awards received along the way & more details re my artistic experience. But, after some reflection & on the advice of a couple of well-respected members I asked who [wisely] said "make it about the art & photography, get to the point and don't be too flowery", I refined & downsized.

Being both visual artist & photographer, I tend to present a more colorful, visually-appealing profile, rather than something overtly business-like. I do prefer my avatar be a good likeness or favorite work of art, choices that will welcome & encourage visitors to scroll through my page[s] and, hopefully, purchase numerous prints & products! Some suggested I show my 'Collections', but I prefer 'Images' because it allows me to offer a sort of sampling of things-to-come. Plus, our bios only show up w-the latter now, so I simply direct patrons to view my 'Collections'.

On that note, here's what I came up with:

"Welcome to my world of art and photography! Please enjoy my 'Images' portfolio, 'Blog', 'Favorites' & more. Click on the 'Collections' tab to see specific categories. Always drawn to the creative side of life, I'm a visual artist, photographer, musician, writer-poet, designer and more.

Primarily acrylic on canvas & pastel, my paintings range from figurative-representational pieces to flowing organic creations to things 'purely' abstract. Described as '[e]motion expressed with the language of color' and 'Soul made visible', my work is a 'combination of intuition & intention'. Nature, music, love and life itself are my inspiration[s].

I've published a couple of my own poetry-photography collections and also created illustrations for several other authors. Honored to have my work featured in & on a variety of magazines, travel the globe and exhibited in numerous galleries & elsewhere for over 30 years. I'm thrilled to offer YOU a wide selection of fine art prints via FAA! Some are displayed in a series of 3 or 4 to give you more variety, visual impact & hanging options. I've also included 'Art 4 Kids', prints that will inspire our 'little ones' and help them learn to spell, as well!

Born In New Orleans, I've lived & worked in southern OR since 1985. Visit often! I'm always adding new pieces and 'fine-tuning' my gallery.

CONTACT INFO ~ Send me a private message any time. You can also 'friend' me on Facebook! For more print options, click 'Contact' [me], 'Visit Website', then 'Shop ~ All Products'.

Note: ALL images here & elsewhere are copyright protected and not to be reproduced, manipulated or used in any manner whatsoever without my written permission. Click on any image to see larger version, description & print options."

UPDATE: I wasn't 'thrilled' w-some of the [recent] changes made re our Artist's Profiles & Websites: [1] the removal of those super cool 'Revolver Maps' visuals many of us had installed & tended letting you & me know statistics, like the who-when-where of visitors; [2] the dumping of our 'Slide Show' widgets, featuring certain of our works on the homepage; [3] the change-up in size of our Profile avatars; and, [3] the location of our bios, which used to always appear right under our avatars, but now only show if we choose our 'Images'; visitors must click on the 'About', if showing 'Collections', etc. I get it that the site needs to remove certain 'extras' to provide room for newer options, addition of products & updates, but, still s-a-d.

Facebook - Like It...Or Not

September 12th, 2017

Facebook - Like It...Or Not

"Nothing stays the same...and that includes Facebook! Even with all the changes & things 'we' can find wrong with the site, though, I'm happy to be there, most days; the good still outweighs the 'bad'. That being said, higher-ups need to listen to those who got them where they are and find a happy balance between their desire to make money, while allowing us access to more of the personal posts we enjoyed seeing for so long. It would be wise for them to remember their reason for being in the first place ~ the initial 'connections' with others that made the site what it is...was.

Their excessive ads, bogus fake news stories, incessant marketing links and all those birthday notices clogging up the newsfeed don't float my boat, but I simply adore my community of artists & collectors and friends & family from all over the world! The rekindling of childhood friendships, family connections and creative interaction with kindred spirits & amazing artists is, for me, priceless. Fb knows this is true of most members, and is 'banking' on the fact that I/we will not dump our accounts altogether after the time & effort we put into gathering friends, managing our 'Timelines', updating our 'Photo Albums' and all the posting-sharing-commenting! Whew. I must say, though, it's getting pretty tiresome sorting through all their 'stuff' to find posts worth my while.

It used to be quite simple to purge the feed [and friend's list] of junk ~ anything or anyone untoward, ads & such, those who only post politics or people who consistently share pics of their pets, family & what they're having for dinner, lol. That meant, when we did choose to scroll thru our feeds, we'd see posts that sparked the creative spirit, spurred the imagination, made us think and sometimes laugh-out-loud. The thing that bothers me most is the fact that only about 10% of our friends even get to see our posts! If you pay to play you may, or may not, get more bang for your buck. I will try that once to see if it actually works in bringing more viewers to my art-photography links. I'll let you know!

Sales? There've been a few, but then again too few to mention. Ever the optimist, I do hold out hope that will change. If selling my art & photography was the main objective & motivation to be on Facebook, however, I'd be sorely disappointed...and frustrated. I know a lot of artists are on-site only to sell their work, creating a single artist's page and hammering away with the image posts & links. Others have two separate accounts ~ personal & business. I keep it simple with just a personal page. Not sure how viable a tool of the trade Fb really is; I've heard conflicting reports. But, like I said, it's been awfully slow going. If the end result is that I gain new fans worldwide and more family & friends get to know me & my work better, their friends, too, then fabulous; I can 'work' with that. The precious time spent 'connecting' and forming a supportive community, people from all walks of life, whose work & lives I also appreciate, will be my reward. If it translates to sales, bravo!

To attract friends, I keep my 'Timeline' clutter-free, creative & entertaining. Translation: only my posts appear! Rarely, do I share other's links or photos and, then, only if a catastrophe like Harvey or a friend needing help in some way. I also vary my posts, from art & photography to me, myself & I, which seems to keep people coming back for more. Variety if the spice! I avoid anyone who allows all those birthday wishes, 'thanks for the request' notices & repetitive posting of the same photo on their Timelines. That means they don't manage their page[s] well... or their 'time'. Some artists like joining groups, but I've found only a couple I liked and neither amounted to much, except extra views & likes. I hardly interact in those anymore. I DO support people, though, both here & there, but don't let anyone post on my pages. I remain diligent in sharing my FAA group & contests there, though. The trick is to do it in a way that doesn't 'seem' like I'm trying to get anyone to buy something, but rather to 'enjoy' it. Like I said above, only a handful of our 'friends' actually get to see our posts...and then it's a toss up as to IF they see them in their feed since most people don't hang there for too long, or at all, and less so these days than before. I also notice the same people liking, commenting & sharing my posts over & over. Interesting. Makes me wonder if those 100 are the ONLY ones seeing anything?

I'm not a 'twit'terer, don't use Instagram or other apps, play games or hang out & chat. Never was or will be on another social media site, except for FAA; I guess I can call it that! So, Fb, such as it is, matters to me. Not an addiction, like some claim, just a way to pass a little time, share my work & a little bit of me. I check in once or twice a day, do what I need, and am able to stay on top of things. I figure 'if YOU are not active, you won't get much action'! That only stands to reason. Most of us live much larger lives than spending our days on Fb or other social media sites. Happy to say, I get a LOT of 'love' from my 3,150+ friends...and that's good enough. Liking someone & their work is better than the alternative.

New thing [for me!] this week is, despite having over 3-thousand [well-vetted & connected] friends, Fb is telling me to add MORE friends IF I want to see MORE posts in my newsfeed! Huh? My feed simply stops within a minute or two, after I rid it of 'trash', with a note from them saying, 'If you want to see more posts, add more friends'. That stinks, as I already have a LOT of friends, active ones, and rarely see a thing from them, which means I have to go to their Timelines to do so. Thanks all the same, but I am content with the number of friends I have. If I want to add more, I will. So, today, Fb is on my 'blank' list. Actually spent over 15 minutes cleaning the clutter [crap!] from my newsfeed earlier in order to enjoy something personal from friends & family. I'll have to do it all over again the next time I visit, so enough already Fb with what YOU want me to see! The more you control things, the less I want to be there. Sigh.

More about friends ~ it's true that some people accept any & all friend's requests, but it's super important, I think, to check everyone asking for your friendship as closely as possible! They will be seeing all your info...and you will be getting their posts in your feed, unless you 'unfollow' them, which makes me wonder what's the point of accepting them in the first place, except to pad your list? Kinda rude. I have turned down more requests than I've accepted during the time I've been on-site...and am even pickier now, if possible. Maybe this is more true for women!? If I had allowed everyone access, I'd have reached maximum capacity in my 1st year of membership and missed the chance to 'meet' some fabulous people. I like to keep my options open. There are a lot of weirdos out there, though, so make sure you use of all the 'privacy' settings available, including 'blocking', if needs be. At least that's something within our control!

I sure hope the site is paying attention and doesn't let greed completely cloud their senses. If not, their 'baby' could simply implode, self-destruct, poof ~ 'here today, gone tomorrow'. And, that's not something I would like to see happen.

Feel free to join me there while you still can. If you do, please 'enjoy' my painting 'Aria' [above] when you visit my Timeline. It's my cover photo."

~ Brooks Leath Garten Hauschild

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

August 17th, 2017

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

"Since joining FAA, I've hosted over 350 contests, which, as you can imagine, has been both rewarding & challenging. I realize it's strictly voluntary on my part...and doing a good job takes time & patience. So, here 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 take a backseat during warmer temps when fairer-weather projects call my name ~ the big garden cleanup, home d-i-y endeavors, a slew of unfinished paintings and numerous photography sessions, edits & uploads! The endless updating of site[s] and learning new ropes re promoting my work continues, come rain or come shine! Naturally more artiste than promoter, the latter can prove a bit tricky, but willing student that I am, 'game on'. Of course, there's life in general, which always needs tending! 'A woman's work is never done' is [so] true.

For me, hosting [and entering] contests is an enjoyable & creative way to share my work while supporting others. But, as most hosts & group administrators will agree, there are a handful of members who make the experience less fun, if you let 'em. For starters, certain members really get bent of of shape when you remove their images that don't follow your easy-to-read 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 to 'help' you run the contest when they've never taken the time to host one! Fyi, hosting & running a contest on FAA isn't rocket science. Well, by the looks of some, it might be, lol. I always 'suggest' that folks host at least a couple of their own, which never fails to garner their lasting respect...if they actually do! You don't need to be a summa cum laude graduate or professional artist for over 35 years [like me!] to do a fabulous job. You just need to be somewhat creative, motivated, organized & detail-oriented. The occasional rotten apple or two or three ~ cheaters who continually try to manipulate the boards, members entering images that don't follow the rules or those letting you know how they feel in an unfriendly way ~ must be a couple other 'issues' surrounding contests.

One thing we hosts wonder aloud about is 'why' some members can't read & follow simple 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' people enter b&w images. I can ask for 'photography only' and folks enter paintings. I clearly state clearly 'family-friendly entries only' and see nudity, violent, eerie or offensive images. So, the rules, the rules, people, please read the rules...and follow them!

Another problem plaguing contests, no matter how much some hosts work to combat the practice, is vote solicitation [group & individual] and leaderboard manipulation. Actually, there are some contests & groups that allow these things, but the majority of members, administrators & hosts don't encourage the behavior. Members resorting to this type of activity may think the rules don't apply to them or, perhaps, they believe that winning or placing is SO important they are oblivious to other members' right to an equal playing field! It's especially bothersome when those soliciting votes & w-i-n-n-i-n-g don't have the best work...and it certainly doesn't allow the 'cream of the crop' to rise to the top when folks screw around with the board. It simply shows who's best at soliciting votes, not who has the best work! It's true that being a member of certain FAA groups can help members place in contests. Some administrators actually provide a thread in their discussions for members to 'beg' for votes. 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. So, yeh, it can look like a 'popularity contest', or worse, not a forum where the people who deserve to win win! Of course, many are deserving, but there can be only one winner. If a contest host is on his or her toes, the offending members & entries will get axed.

Like I said, it can be fun coming up with creative & interesting contest ideas, making rules, promoting member's work, seeing some really spectacular images and encouraging lively voter participation. I've met some wonderful, super-talented 'friends' while doing so. The really great thing is that members actually DO make sales directly from entering the contests. So, what's not to like...except for the few negative Joe's & Jo's who show up to cause trouble. Happily, with some 'tough love' measures on my part, most do NOT enter my contests anymore. And, if they show up to vote in order to mess with the results, those images will be removed, as well.

A few more things re VOTING...yes, there's more! Many of those entering contests will just vote on their own images...and that's it. Some 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 permitted, even though FAA guidelines allow up to 10! The contest limit overall is 2500, though some surpass that mark. Be aware, that if it does, the images that were loaded first will not get seen once it hits the 2500 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 problems for contest participants. 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] is a lot easier than looking at individual image, though, I mean IF you're going to vote. 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! All three contest options we're offered on-site have their 'good, bad & ugly' points. I always choose 'Members Only' so peers decide 'our' fate. I think it's the fairest. 'Public Allowed' lets those who solicit well to 'win'. And 'Juried' contests have their own issues. Don't get me started; oops, too late! Jurors or panel members have been known to vote for their own entries and/or their friend's for one thing. That 'impartial' part sounds good, but it hardly happens. Friends vote for friends, jury or not. And I've seen hosts who are also 'the jury' voting their own work into 1st place or their friends! So, you gotta have a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Okay, so, what's the big deal about contests? Well, it's a communal platform offered by the site to share & showcase members' work, have a little friendly competition and garner a sale or two, a 'win-win' situation. Fellow members might well pass on the images we submit to their friends or family. The public, both visitors & potential buyers, are always invited & encouraged to view my contests, which, in turn, can add up to sales. 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, might share and/or purchase it, as well ~ the gift that keeps on giving. Placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd, may only get you the honor of 'bragging rights' and some extra attention paid 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 also affords you more views. 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!

My tips for hosting contests:
[1.] Always provide a contest link if sending a time-to-vote group email! So frustrating to get a notice without the link or even the contest title itself.
[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 favors. You might make an enemy or two when doing so, but it's par for the course.
[4.] Be specific in your description, make a few simple rules and, then, follow through! The other day someone entered a goofy-looking gumball machine & another image that had nothing to do with my 'Beautiful Trees' contest. I, of course, I removed...and promptly received a nasty email re! Hard to believe that people can be that ignorant and/or confrontational when they are in the wrong!? I usually invite them not to enter my contests, but rather the majority of others on the roster in which the host has no clue.
[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 images that are shoddy-shot, ill-cropped, etc.
[6.] Tend your contests if you want members returning for more! You might also want to 'congratulate' the winners on their winning image itself. Again, members appreciate it and are more likely to keep entering your contests when they see that someone is in charge who actually cares.
[7.] Last, but not least, promote the heck out of your contests and ask participants to do so, too...whenever, wherever, however!

Finally, to those needing a reminder, I repeat, read & follow the rules. It makes it so much easier for those of us who choose to host. I can't tell you how many worthy images I've removed that didn't follow the guidelines. Unfortunately, or fortunately for some, 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 make members adhere to them...or offer any follow-through at the end. Good luck with that.

Be well. Hope to see you when I return with more great contests to share! Until then, Happy Trails."

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

SUNFLOWER POWER - my NEW group...and welcome to it

June 29th, 2017

SUNFLOWER POWER - my NEW group...and welcome to it

Welcome to 'Sunflower Power'! You are invited to join my brand new group featuring your amazing SUNFLOWERS in living color! All media & creative expression accepted as long as it's family-friendly, high quality and recognizable as a sunflower. Sunflowers must be the main focus!

In the first two weeks of [our] existence, we have gone from 'zero' to 'high' in the FAA activity charts! YOU should come check us out ~ the 'Discussions', Images, Members, Contests & more.

Here's what you can expect as a member ~ daily/weekly reviews of your uploads; selected homepage features; an 'Administrator's Pick-of-the-Week' every Sundays; group link shared on my Fb Timeline; periodic promotional contests; updates from me in the 'Discussions'; and NO bombarding group emails!

Groups are a great way to meet new members, share your work and learn something, as in promotional tips, ideas & links! To find us, simply do a 'Group' search for 'Sunflower Power'...and you will see my sunflower logo, avatar & homepage 'Overview' with all the info you need re joining. For some reason, we are no longer able to include active links within our blogs.

"There's not another thing on this planet that more trumpets life than the SUNFLOWER. Not because of what it looks like, but because it follows the sun. During the course of a day, the head of a sunflower tracks the sun's journey across the sky. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, a sunflower will find it. That's such an admirable thing...and lesson in life." ~Helen Mirren

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'.


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