Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Do I Get Them To Stay?

Let's Play! 6"x6" Oil on board
There's a dog beach up in Santa Barbara called Hendry's.  It's also called Arroyo Burro Beach.
Somehow watching the joy of the many dogs as they play on the beach and splash through the waves puts a smile on everyone's face.
Let's Play!was one of two of my paintings selected to be part of the 6" Squared Show
Randy Higbee Gallery
December, 2015
How Do I Get Them To Stay?
Better yet, how do I get them to return and contact me or purchase a piece of artwork?
It's a question I imagine most of us who are artists have asked ourselves if we have a web presence.  Statistically I know that people are visiting my website.  My website design company, Fine Art Studio Online or FASO, comes with many perks including stats about who any visits and how any pages they visit.  Each time I post a new painting, it also sends it out to all FASO subscribers in what is called the Daily Mail.  Each time that happens my statistics jump.
I usually have 20-30 visits each day when I don't do anything special.  On days when I upload a new image it jumps to well over 30 -- sometimes WAY over 30.  The trouble is more often than not, the visitors don't stay.  Most visit one page and move on to someone else's image.

I need to figure out a way to get them to stay.  In the early years before the advent of "secure searches" I could see more of what people were looking for who actually landed on my website using a search engine.  Now because of secure searches the visits are less easy to track from key words or search topics so I can't tell why they visited my website in the first place.

Examining My Own Visits
I decided to think about why I visit several pages of other artists websites.  Here are some that I came up with:
  1. I have seen their work (and liked it) in a magazine and I want to see more or look to see if I can afford a piece.
  2. I heard about them from friends and want to find out more.
  3. I've seen their work through social media and want to learn more about them.
  4. I have met the artist either on a trip or at an opening or in a workshop and I wanted to know more about their work and them.
  5. Their work is in a show with my work and I want to compare -- prices, subject matter, style, etc.
  6. I subscribe to their blog or newsletter and there is a piece mentioned that I like and I want to know more.
  7. I want to find out about where the artist lives or whether they do workshops.
I'm sure you could add several other reasons to visit more than one page of an artist's website.  I sure would appreciate it if you would take the time to comment below and add your own reasons.

But wait...  There's More!
  1. I also wonder how often those of you who have your own artist website sell your work from the website. 
  2. Do most of your collectors contact you through email or by phone? 
  3. Do you list your prices?  I've seen both....and although I always hesitate to contact those where there are no prices listed, I know some artists feel it's better not to list prices. 
  4. Do you have a PayPal button on your image pages?

Basically I'm wondering what I've always wondered.....  "How do I get them to stay?"

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ethereal Light - Santa Cruz Sea Cave

Ethereal Light - Santa Cruz Sea Cave 16x12 O/L

I missed the boat
I wasn't able to go to the islands this year.  The annual painting trip to the Channel Islands off the coast of California, inaugurated by my mentor and friend, David Gallup, ended after four years.  Last year the "boat people" didn't go out together to paint.  This year, however, one of my friends, Dorene White, -- an original "boat person" decided to organize the trip again.  I would have joined the group happily, but I had already planned to go with my PAC6 buddies to pack in on horses and mules to camp in the Eastern Sierras near Ediza Lake.  I love to travel.  I love to paint.  I love my painting buddies, but I just can't go out all of the time -- I love my family too.

SCAPE benefit for the UCSB Natural Reserves
When I heard about this SCAPE (Southern California Artists Painting for the Environment) benefit for UCSB's Natural Reserves I decided it was a perfect opportunity to sort of reminisce in paint.  UCSB is my Alma Mater.  One of the 7 natural reserves that it supports is on Santa Cruz Island - the largest of the Channel Islands.  (Did you know that the Channel Islands are part of our amazing National Parks?)  I pulled out my photos from the four years that we visited Santa Cruz and began to plan my painting.  Santa Cruz Island has so many beautiful sea caves and arches, it seemed like a perfect idea.

I looked for an interesting scene with great shapes which could be made into a well-designed painting.  While painting I tried to keep all of David's advice about design, value and color in mind.  In the end I was pretty happy with my painting.

At the show the painting had many admirers and I made some great new friends.  I'm hoping that the lady who took this photo and sent me an e-mail about it will end up treasuring it on her own wall. 

I love it.   She said she does too.     

Topics: Art Shows - Art Business | David Gallup workshop | Landscape | Making the most of retirement | Traveling 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sea Foam and Shadow -- Who Or What Inspires You?

Sea Foam and Shadow 12x9 O/L

Every visit to Leo Carrillo is a delightful surprise.
It's a never-ending change of scene.

Why Paint?I think one of the main reasons I keep painting is because it gives me an "excuse"... an opportunity.. whatever you want to call it to get outside and be one with places that fill me with a sense of well-being.   Even on days when the weather isn't cooperating or when the insects seem to have been called to a convention on MY palette, I love being outdoors.  This painting journey of mine happened rather late in the scheme of things.  Until I started painting, I had never done much hiking... I hadn't spent days and nights on a dive boat or climbed the cliff on our nearby Channel Islands.  I'd never camped or rafted down the Colorado River.  I'd never ridden a horse up into the Sierra Nevadas.  I hadn't spent a day sitting on a rock by the sea staring out to sea.  These things came because of painting.  These experiences have changed me -- they've made me more appreciative and joyful.  For that I am grateful.
Another reason I keep painting... those times I spend in my studio... are when I can study the design, or the color or the brushwork of my favorite artists.... -- trying to see those passages that make my heart sing and trying to see if I can make some of that music happen in my own work.

Fun With Friends

Recently I went to my favorite painting spot, Leo Carrillo State Beach, with my friend, Diane Nelson-Gold.  We usually end up at Tower 3 -- Sequit Point.  I've been going for years now and each time I go I see a new spot which inspires me.  On this day I arrived before Diane and after scouting around found a spot on the edge of the cliff.  The tide was very high and the waves were huge.  I was careful -- I've been totally drenched even from the top of the cliff before, but I set up on a spot where I could see the crashing waves and the vapor left behind.

Diane arrived and sat next to me.  We love to chat and the morning passed quickly.  Diane totally nailed a wave study and I had only blocked in the majority of the rock cliff and some of the water by the time we were asked to move by the Film Makers who had leased the beach for a TV shoot. 

Idols and Inspirations
I finished it at home as I looked at examples of Ray Roberts' work for inspiration.   I had been going through my magazines and came across the Plein Air Magazine that featured the painting for which he won the CAC Gold Medal.  --- Really a beautiful piece!!  That man knows how to create elegant shapes, beautiful color transitions and a wonderful sense of light.  Although I imagine all of you are familiar with his work, here are a few of his paintings as examples:

Ray Roberts Crashing Waves At Pt. Lobos

Ray Roberts Laguna Glow

Ray Roberts Twin Harbors
Although I know my painting isn't anything like Ray's, I'd like to think that just looking at his work inspired my own work to be a bit better.  I've taken classes from him twice now and am hoping I can find a 2016 workshop that will fit into my schedule.  He is not just a fabulous artist, but he's a very good teacher.  Every time you take a class you are in a different place on your journey so there are new things to hear and learn.

I was very happy with my painting,

What or who inspires YOU?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It Takes Time -- Day's End - Devereux Slough

Day's End - Devereux Slough 20x20x2 O/C

Deciding what to paint
I was with my daughter in Santa Barbara.  Her son used to go to a preschool just north of the UCSB campus near the Devereux Slough.   As we drove toward campus to pick him up, we saw a beautiful orange sunset reflecting in the waters of the slough.   It was a wonderful scene! 

My PAC6 pals and I have a show coming up early next year (in February) called "Take Two".   We will paint the same place at either two different times of day or during two different seasons.  It sounds like it will be a fun show and I am hoping to create some worthy "takes".  I had already painted a plein air piece that I liked at the Slough so a scene at the end of the day seemed like a perfect match.

When I actually got down to painting it, I decided that I liked a sunset sky from a cruise photo I had taken better than the sky in actually over the slough so I used the slough scene and added the cruise sky. 

Each time I try to create a painting I have a goal in mind.  This time, I was working on using layers of paint and practicing the color theory and color transitions that my mentor, David Gallup, has tried to teach us.  I have been having such a hard time trying to "make it my own" -- to demonstrate my understanding by applying it to my work.

Often when I paint, I put out lots of images of one or more artists whose work I admire.  I know that Dan Pinkham's work totally exemplifies this color theory.  David is often using Dan's work to illustrate what he's teaching us.  So as I flipped from one of Dan's beautiful paintings to another, I began to create my own. 

It takes time
At first I didn't like it much, but after many, many painting sessions, and many layers, corrections, subtle transitions, changes in value, etc. the painting began to grow on me.  It took a great deal of work time and "sit and stare time" and some critiques by good friends before I was satisified with the results. 

I finally think that now it's telling the story I set out to tell.  -- The story of beautiful paint, interesting shapes, and engaging color as much as it is of a beautiful scene.   So my "take two" is not just a different time of day, but a whole different way of putting paint down.

I like both pieces (or takes).  I hope you do too! 

Oh... and here are a few "close-ups" showing the brushwork:

I really enjoy "hearing" what you're thinking.


Thursday, October 1, 2015


Mugu 10"x8" O/C panel
When you think about change is it a positive or a negative?
I've been thinking about change for a while.  Actually I guess all growth is change and I am truly trying to grow in my ability to convey feelings, thoughts and a sense of place when I paint.  I want to engage the viewer around more than a scene.... I want the viewer to think about pattern and mystery and texture and wonder.

But generally I do like the comfort of regularity, of pattern, of knowing what to expect when I turn a corner. 

Change isn't comfortable.  It's difficult and sometimes threatening. Change is challenging.

But if we never change, if we never learn a new way of seeing or doing, we risk becoming boring, passe', out of touch. 

Slow change
For many reasons, I'm slow to change.   I am slow to accept those avant-guard artists' work, but have found the search interesting and know that as I view more and more different types of art, my own work will in some ways grow and change.  I don't want to change just to be different..   Hopefully as my work continues to develop, I will also grow to become more satisfied with it.  --( Although not so satisfied that I  end up creating work that is "the same" over and over.)

A surprise change
Yesterday I decided to go outside to paint.  I have been inside too long since returning from the Sierras.  Studio work is fine, but my real joy is getting outside to smell the smells and see the sights.  I was daydreaming on the freeway and passed my usual turn off for the beach.  So since I had recently visited Pt. Mugu Naval Base for their air show, I decided to head in that direction.  Several years back I had hiked behind the "rock" at Pt. Mugu and discovered a delightful sea arch.  I wanted to visit it again.

I hiked past the "no trespassing" signs.... (The old road which had once been on the ocean side of Pt. Mugu was blocked off because part had fallen into the ocean ... making it not such a good way to drive past the famous rock formation.)  I walked to where I had sat and painted several years ago and was shocked to see that the beautiful arch was no longer there!

The relentless waves had finally cut away at the rocky arch and the formidable rocks weren't up to the challenge.  Mugu Arch was no longer.  A close look over the cliff revealed a wonderful rock waterspout or marine geyser.  I was mesmerized.

Even though it was still pretty, I didn't have the heart to stay and paint.  My arch was gone.

You can compare my two sketches from a few years ago with the photo I took yesterday.

Yes, change is inevitable ... and not always what we expect.  But I think that change is also life-affirming.  What do you think?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On The Way To The Waterfal

On The Way To the Waterfall 12x9 O/L

-A funny thing happened on the way...

That morning we had gotten up with the sun and rushed out to "catch" the sunrise.  It was really quite funny.  Each of us had stumbled out of our tents and down the hill and lugged our gear out to the flat plane of the dry part of the Lake.  We faced Mount Ritter and Banner because we had seen beautiful light on those peaks the previous day.

As we all tried to block in our paintings before everything changed, one by one, we happened to glance over to the east where an even more spectacular light show had begun.  Then, one by one, we stopped painting and began enjoying the different view.  We laughed at ourselves.  There really is no better artist that the one who creates the sunrises in the first place.

After a wonderful Loni-cooked meal we headed in different directions.  Most went out to paint.  Laura and I decided to hike up to a waterfall far above our camp that we had heard about.  We didn't know how far it was, but we wanted to go anyway.  For us it was the best thing we could have done.  It was a clear, beautiful day and we followed the stream up the mountain.  And up.   And up.  We listened to the music of the creek and chatted, took photos and saw some amazing scenery.  Finally we reached the waterfall and it was beautiful.  I wanted to strip off my clothes and take a dip in the water pool at the foot of the waterfall, but I had visions of getting a foot caught in a rock crevice and then having to have someone haul my waterlogged butt out of there....  (But I was sorely tempted.) 

Instead we were refreshed by the cool spray and the roar of the water.  I said to Laura....  "Siamo fortunati" which is something my Italian-speaking husband and I say to one another often.  Laura asked me what it meant and I told her that in Italian it means
We are lucky.
Then she got a look on her face and she said she finally realized what my "One Lucky Artist" logo/brand means.  Fortunati means lucky.  And certainly all of us who have experiences like this are so very lucky!

We hiked past the waterfall up to the huge area of white rocks and decided to turn back.

After lunch we all headed out to special spots to paint or hike.  I wanted to return to the waterfall to paint so I got my painting gear and went back.  (Hiking with all of the painting gear is a bit more difficult than without it.)  I found a spot and painted the view you see in the sketch above called

I got most of the sketch blocked in and decided to come back to camp (since I hadn't told anyone where I was going.)  On the way back I passed Loni, who had come looking for me.  She kept going and I headed back.  However, I missed the path to camp and ended up going all the way around to the back side of the lake.  There I found Laura who was happily painting her special scene.

I said hi and headed back.  When I returned, my pals got after me because no one knew where I was all afternoon.  (I'm sorry to have made them worry, but glad they cared.)

The next morning we were up early trying to get another stab at a beautiful sunrise.  This time we were facing east.

Thursday was the day we had decided to hike up the 1.5 mile path (with 500 feet of elevation) to Iceberg Lake.  We started off.  Linda had been concerned about the thunderheads that were forming and since she was well aware of the dangers of lightning in the mountains we kept a wary eye on the skies.  As it turned out Sharon and Nita decided to stay back to paint near camp.  Debra, Laura, Linda and I headed up the mountain on the other side of the lake.  We huffed and puffed but eventually we made it.  It was quite beautiful!!

While there, Linda stopped a couple of times to share inspiring passages:
"I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to confront only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what they had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." -   Thoreau

"In joy you shall go out. In peace you shall be brought back. Mountains and Hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands." -   Isaiah 55:12

Hearing those quotes in that amazing setting had us all tearing up -- they were special moments to share.

I'll conclude with some more photos and my last two sketches.

During the night of the day we left Ediza, the smoke came into the valley and obscured our morning sunrise.  If we had to have smoke, it was
good that it happened on our last day.  There were more special memories of people and places than I can ever recount. 

David Gallup always reminds his students of the quote by Heraclitus:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

Each of us will be forever changed by this trip.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Song Of The Sierras

Song Of The Sierras 10x10 O/L

Sometimes it seems like I am a different person than I used to be.  I suppose that is true for many of us.  You may know that for many years I was a teacher and a Principal working with elementary aged students, their parents and teachers.  It was a fulfilling career and I worked very hard at it.  I have never been sorry I chose that path.

Now, however, life is so entirely different.  My interests are different.  While I still have friends from my "old life", I have an entirely new set of friends.  Then I traveled during school holidays with my family.  Now I can go almost any time and while I still travel with my family, I have found that traveling with my painting buddies opens up a perspective I never knew existed before.

Early morning sun through
the smoke at Mammoth
I feel tremendously blessed.  This recent trip with my PAC6 painting friends was yet another thing I would never have done before.  We rode horses and mules for 5+ hours up into the Sierra and saw some absolutely amazing scenery.  While there were many hikers on the trail, I was extremely glad that we were riding.  That is not to say it was an easy ride.  Many of us hadn't even been on horses before.  I have, but it's certainly not something that I do regularly..... and I've NEVER ridden for over 5 hours at a time up and down sheer cliffs and trails before!

Our pack arrangements were made through Red's Meadow who did a fabulous, well-organized job! 

We left Mammoth early in the morning and were happy to escape from the smoke from nearby fires.  The ride began from Agnew Meadow and headed through the meadow and up the mountain.  We stopped at one point on the way up because a jacket had fallen off someone's horse so our pack leader went back for it.  I tried to shoot some video with my phone... (Pardon me ... because I started it sideways.)    I have some really great video for the ride back when I was a tiny bit more confident, but you'll have to wait for that.
I'll also include a photo or two of my wonderful horse, Rocket, and of the ride.  (When I got aboard, they told me his name.... Oh oh, I thought....  but he was sure-footed and patient with me.

We stopped about halfway up to take a break and eat lunch at beautiful Shadow Lake and take photos.  When we finally arrived at Ediza Lake, we circled it and headed toward camp.  I'm not sure whether the horses/ mules or we were happier to arrive.   After unloading a TON of gear, the crew and the mules and horses headed back to Agnew Meadow.

We met our wonderful cook and guardian angel, Loni Langdon.  We weren't sure what to expect but I've got to tell you... we were truly blessed.  She was a fabulous cook, a wonderful lover of all equine... especially mules and she kept a great eye out for our safety.

The Night of the BearsAll of us set about getting our gear unloaded and our tents set up.  No small feat for most of us who don't regularly camp -- but we were all proud to have completed it and very very grateful for a terrific meal cooked and served by Loni while we were busy.

After dinner we chatted for a while, made plans for the next day and fell into our tents which were scattered pretty far apart.  I was happy I wasn't too far from Nita and Sharon.  Trust me we were dead to the world within seconds despite the hard ground.

Around 2 or 3 in the morning we were awakened by shouting and banging and clanging.  Loni was shouting "Get away... get out!!"  She was tossing stones and something was making a huge racket.  After a bit it settled down ... we all drifted off and then it started again!!  BEARS!!!

The next morning we went down to breakfast.  We were a bit sheepish because not one of us had gotten out of our tents to find out if Loni was okay.  Happily she was.  But she did move her bedroll (she had no tent) a LOT farther away from the camp stove and bear boxes.

We painted and hiked around most of the day.  Happily the next night was quiet.  Apparently the bears didn't like having rocks thrown at them ... thank goodness. 

Here are the next three paintings I worked on:

I hope you like them -- they are memories of a wonderful trip and may serve to help me paint some larger studio pieces.

Drop me a line.. I always love to hear from you!

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