Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to photograph your artwork on the cheap

I wanted to share a few things I've learned lately about photographing your art to sell, say on FineArtAmerica.com. Since I've got a new shop there and I've been adding some art pieces lately it is fresh in my mind and I've made some boo boo's along the way that might help or offer things you might not have thought of. Now, I'm not a professional photographer so of course with any free advice, you know what they say... you get what you pay for... haha   or how about opinions? they are like poop shoots, everybody's got one. Here's mine:

A few words about making your art.

Odd sizes: I found through trial and error that odd size paintings will not be printed as large on FAA. That means that your lovely customer will only be able to purchase up to a certain size of your fabulous artwork. That also means you're out extra moolah cause it won't print any bigger than said size.

Signing your work: Again, through trial and error I found that signing your artwork close to the edge of your piece is a mistake. See the photo above, my initials are right on the edge. Now when I was creating this piece 4 inches away from it, that seemed fine. Fine until I had to look at the photograph of it and straighten it and practically crop it off. No good. Sign your artwork at least an inch away if not more from all sides, I say.

Metallic ink and paint: They don't photograph for shit. Enough said.

Taking your mugshot with your art: Wear makeup (see above) What was I thinking??

Don't frame it: Do not frame your beloved piece of artwork before you photograph it. The glare will be bad and make it a nightmare to try to find a spot in your yard or house that won't show your stupid ass in the glass.

If I figure out more stuff, I'll edit this post, til then that's it... go wild!

Ok, so now to the tutorial part of this post. Remember this scanner = no good. You need to photograph it.

So I've got my piece of art right here that I finished yesterday and I'm ready to sell that sucker! Screw Etsy and Artfire, I've found FAA (here's my shop). I've made a sale too already which has pulled me out of my funk and spurred a little fire down below if you know what I mean. Of course I don't know who bought the piece, it could've been one of you trying to keep me from falling into an abyss of self pity. If it was, thanks!! ;)

Here's what I use:
my spiffy digital camera (set on the highest quality setting possible and in manual mode set for shade)
super cheap easel from Michaels for like $10 with 40% off coupon
chalkboard for backing, stolen from my son
stick or pencils to elevate artwork
sticky tack (miracle shit)
bright natural light from behind
luck and lots of shots

here's that sticky tack aka miracle shit
First I set up my easel and use the square stick to elevate my artwork so the camera can get even the very bottom. I've used pencils, and blocks, anything to get my work out of that groove that is on the easel.

Then you need to have a backing that is sturdy, I'm using my son's chalkboard but you could use whatever you have handy like foam core or cardboard or a big book (not thick). It doesn't matter what color it is or how it looks cause you will crop it out completely at the end.

Next, you don't want your artwork at an angle, that will make it out of square and then you'll have to crop off quite a bit to make it square (or rectangle) and when I say out of square I mean the bottom will be wider than the top giving it a carnival glass look to it, it would be distorted got it? See image below.

So I've been working with wood to paint on lately so I don't have to tape up my paper, but if I had paper I would use this sticky tack blue stuff to attach it to the board you have on your easel to hold up your art. It is better than tape, comes right down when you're done and won't hurt your art. I found mine at Home Depot in the adhesives aisle. If you're like me and didn't know about this stuff, you've got to try it. My son's Kindergarten teacher uses it and my son knew about it before I did! It's great stuff.

If you have to tape your paper artwork to the board, then you would need to stick something behind the board to try to make it as plumb as you can. Mine isn't perfect in the picture but close enough. I didn't have to crop much of anything off.

You want to have light behind your camera. I like the natural light best. I think direct sunlight might wash your colors out, but from what I've found online it's a preference thing. I like bright shade best. You have to plan to photograph your art during the day or have really good lighting but you'll probably still have to mess with it in your photo program.

So you've got the camera in front of your piece and you're ready. I use a tri-pod for my camera so I don't get a blurry image. You can get these really cheap at Walmart and the like. Get one. You'll use it, I promise. I also set my camera to use the timer so I don't get a blurry image or move the camera when I push the button. Figure out your camera people! It just takes a short time to see what kinda goodies are on there, it's in the manual. If you lost yours, chances are you can download it from the manufacturers website.

I set my camera for the highest setting and I switch it to manual so I can put it in shade setting. Yours might not have a manual setting but I bet it has a setting for cloudy or shady. Use it. It allows the most light to come into the camera as possible for a better picture. You don't need to understand it, just do it.

Take lots of photos. Move out of the way of the light coming from behind. If you need to, direct some light with something light like a white sheet on the floor. You don't want shadows to appear on your flat image. If you have them, then you might not have enough light. Experiment, that is the best teacher.

Download your photos without taking down your make-shift studio if at all possible. Because you might have to go back and reshoot it! Use your absolute best shot and take it in to a program like Photoshop or similar. Even the basic ones have the tools to brighten, change the exposure (which will lighten up a dark photo) and add vibrance and saturation (which bumps up your colors). Mine has a blacks feature which is nice to add richness. Just don't go hawg wild and make it look totally different from your original. Remember you are photographing this to 1) have a record of it in case it sells and 2) to sell as a print online.

Crop your photo to include the art only! No edges from anything else. It is better to take off a fraction of an inch off your artwork than to leave a bit on there that may show up as a border. Border = bad :(

One last piece of advice that I can think of is to name your photos so that search engines can understand what they are and also to take advantage of the adding your info to your photos. In Photoshop, I go to the File... File Info and it opens a box where I can add my name, website, tags and a description of the photo (or artwork). I've just started doing this so I hope it helps. There is even a place where you can add the copyright if you have copyrighted your piece. Pretty cool.

I hope this helps you even if just a little bit. I've just learned a few of these lessons myself the hard way a day ago. If you've got any questions, I'll be glad to try and help.

Just showing the love people, just showing the love ;)

UpDate: I answered a few questions in the comments section.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Haunted Beginnings

Well I promised quite a while back to tell the stories of my haunting's that I've encountered, so no better time than to start now. This is a long post and gives details to the first of my haunting's that I remember.

This picture is where I remember it all starting once I was out of my parents house. I was almost 21 when I moved in this old farmhouse that unfortunately has since been torn down. It was a beauty inside. Lots of original stuff inside, I'm not sure why they tore it down but I've noticed lots of old beautiful ladies like this are being torn down all the time.

I remember hearing about it from my boyfriend's (at the time) parents friend. She talked about loving it and wanting to buy it to renovate it but never did. So I looked into it and found out who owned it. I had to bug and ultimately beg the farmers who owned it to rent it out to me. It had sat empty for years. We got it for a song (rent wise). I think it was something crazy like $135 a month.

I was so excited when I finally broke them down and they agreed to rent it to me and I wanted to show my mom. I took her out there and as we were driving up to house, she started shaking her head. She never liked it from the beginning. Said it didn't sit well with her. I didn't care, I loved it. We went up to the windows to look in and see if we could get in, since I didn't have a key yet.

As we looked in the windows, we saw a black cat inside on the stairs that were positioned in the middle of the room in with the door in the kitchen. It just stared at us. My mom was very uneasy and said it didn't feel right and she wished I wouldn't move in and wanted to leave right away.

side view of the old farmhouse
Fast forward to moving day and my boyfriend, whom I was going to share the house, and I were cleaning it out. Strangely, we never saw that cat again not even in the barn or old garage on the property. Another weird thing was that there wasn't any animal droppings inside. Not any bugs or evidence of mice. Nothing in the window sills, no spiders. I noticed it and thought it was odd.

an almost 21 year old me in the doorway of my bedroom in my old haunted farmhouse taken from kitchen
The great old house had I guess a typical floor plan for that era. Four rooms on the bottom including a formal living room, two parlors and a kitchen. A bathroom had been added on to the kitchen later. Upstairs, there were four bedrooms. A staircase went straight up through the center of the home. The formal living room had that octagon shaped room with tall windows at angles and red stain glass as the transoms. There were red curtains and when the sun shined, it was very red inside. I called it the red room from then on. It had a gorgeous old fireplace with beautiful tile and mirror at the top. It hadn't even been painted. I loved it. I did notice that room was exceptionally colder than any other room.

beautiful unpainted woodwork, beautiful tiles in earth tones, beautiful old wallpaper
We were young and loved to entertain our friends with our new house. Many get togethers were happening, mostly outside surrounding their 4 wheel drive trucks since they were all a bunch of rednecks. One particular party, I was inside watching TV and one of our friends came in the kitchen door and hollered at me that he was going to use the bathroom. Next thing I know he comes running out of the kitchen and asked me if I was jiggling the door handle. No. That was the first of many people claiming that someone tried to enter the bathroom with them in it. It happened to me while I was in the shower.

My boyfriend and I had taken one of the parlor rooms as our bedroom and had our huge waterbed set up and everything in it's place. Being so young we didn't have a lot of furniture, but more than most since my grandmother had died and left me all her furniture. I had her bed and boxed up things upstairs which we didn't use. We hadn't planned on using the upstairs, so we didn't sweep or clean upstairs.

During this time I had a young kitty named Whiskey. (partyers, remember haha) She was about a year old when we lived here. I woke up one night and she was going nuts clawing at the wall from our dresser, meowing and looking up at the ceiling. I could hear something upstairs just thrashing my boxed stuff all around. I woke up my boyfriend and he could here it too. We were both scared. We didn't know what was up there. We figured it was some sort of animal and we would find out good enough the next day. He was too scared to go up there, hee hee.

The next morning, he took a baseball bat upstairs to find out what had all gotten tore up. We kept the door to the upstairs closed so we hadn't worried about it coming in on us. I stayed downstairs! When he got up there he yelled at me to come up. I couldn't believe it, nothing had been touched. Not even the dust was disturbed. In fact, you could see our foot prints as we walked. There were the boxes with lots of sheets and fabric remnants in them. Nothing had been disturbed. We just looked at each other in disbelief.

The next night the very same thing happened. This time he went upstairs in the night with a gun. I really don't know why, but he did. When he got up there, the noise stopped and there was nothing. The next day he decided to put up a big clamp type trap up there to try to catch whatever was up there making this noise. Nothing ever set it off. I even put a chicken leg up there in the center of it and nothing ate it. We had mouse traps up there and they were never tripped. We finally just gave up and ignored it. It went away.

My cat became what I call neurotic in that house. She acted very erratic and wanted to be outside most of the time.

Once we had an inside party and everyone wanted a tour of the haunted house. So I took a bunch of about 4 upstairs and I took them into the room over the kitchen that had caught on fire at one time. You could see the walls were singed. It must not have been a bad fire, thankfully since the house was still very much intact. I had found lots of old stuff in that room from a very long time ago. A wooden ironing board, old papers, magazines and a set of very old clothing one looked like an old drummer boy outfit in dark green velvet and an old long black skirt and blouse. As we entered the room and were looking around, a very strong scent of candles burning became present. I wasn't even the one who brought it up, but there was no doubt that's what it was. Some didn't want to mess around with that and left. I found this all very intriguing and wanted to have more encounters. I welcomed it. I didn't feel anything negative.

Even back then I had a dedicated art studio in one of the parlors and had it set up perfectly. My boyfriend was working 2nd shift and I was alone at night until after midnight. I remember one night a couple of his friends came over to wait for him to get off and I was working in my studio. We were talking and I had my back to the red room and I tend to talk with my hands so they were bent at the elbow and the red room was dark behind me. As I was talking, I had the 2 guys in front of me and I just stopped and froze. They looked at me like I was nuts and I spun around and then asked them did one of you just touch me? They told me with wide opened eyes that I was white as a sheet. I had just been touched. The back of my arm had been gently squeezed.

On another occasion, my best friend Kelly had come over and was visiting me. We sat in the kitchen at the table. We had decided to read her cards. Now, I have no claim to being psychic but I do trust my gut and intuition. I had to read the instructions with the cards as I was new to tarot. What I read in her cards were a baby. She scoffed and that was that. It turns out she actually was pregnant. Crazy. We still talk about that.

So, we ended up moving out of that old house and I thought that would be the end of that, but the story doesn't end there. I'll continue with my haunting stories another time. It has occurred to me recently that it's not the houses that I live in that are necessarily the only thing haunted.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blah blah blah

Blah. That's how I've been feeling lately. I never used to feel like I have SADD or any seasonal disorder but I'm starting to wonder now. I'm getting older and the winter season feels colder, longer and more depressing than ever. Being sick with cold after cold hasn't helped. Knowing there is no one to take care of you when you get sick is kinda depressing, too.

I have been pretty sick the last week. I've finally gotten my taste back and everything tastes pretty good. For some crazy reason though I still cannot smell too much. I keep getting whiffs here and there. I've ignored the litter box for a while now, partly because I don't smell it and partly cause I'm just lazy and tired. That one will come back to haunt me... haha

I can't remember the last time I've sat around or laid around doing nothing for so long. It all started early last week. I've not even felt like going up to the studio to create anything. In fact, as I've sat feeling sorry for myself, I've thought of quitting all together. What's the point, really? Why do I keep creating things that mostly go unnoticed or unwanted. Am I contributing anything viable to society by continuing?

I know this is one big pity party. Please forgive me for this. I rarely am like this. I got a phone call last week that I didn't know what to say to or how to react to. My biological father died. Now, we were estranged and to be honest we were not a part of each others lives. I'm okay and not really mourning or anything remotely close to feeling like I did with the loss of my mother. But something about it bothers me. Something about the thought of the two people that were responsible of putting me in this world are now gone. It is a very strange feeling indeed.

It makes me think about things of the past. My mind wonders a million miles a second it seems, darting this way and that. I think about how different things are for me now. My mother is gone, my dad I don't get to see too often. Grandparents who used to be so much a part of my life, no longer here. One is, just not with us in our state of mind, sadly. Alzhiemers. Aunts and uncles, no longer around. My childhood family has dwindled away.

Do you remember the way life was when you were a child? How get togethers and holidays were magical and fun, we felt invincible, full and happy and that life was great, exciting and easy. Then as you get older, people die... the magic fades. Life seems different, less fun, less together. Death changes everything. We get older. Death becomes more and more a part of life. How ironic.

I wonder how my son will feel about his childhood. Is he having the same feelings of fun and family and togetherness that I felt? I hope he does. I worry he doesn't.

People who have lots of other people in their lives like brothers and sisters may not feel this way. But as an only child who married an only child who has an only child, life can seem pretty lonely at times. I've always longed for a sibling. For most all my life, my mom was the one. The one I shared everything with, felt at one with. Now that's gone. Friends are there, but they have busy lives and family of their own. Maybe I'm having a mid life crisis. We don't live a conventional life shift wise around here. My son is at school, I don't have a job. My art business is pretty much a failure. Hell, I don't even feel like growing and selling my heirloom tomatoes this year.

I heard on the TV something about the most depressing day of the year was coming up. I wonder if it was the other day. There must be something to that. I'm ready for spring.

I'll now send you back to your regular programming... hahah and a less disturbing post coming soon, I promise. I choose to by happy. I hate feeling melancholy. Sometimes it's just easier to write all this down that flows through my brain than to try to tell it to someone. Thanks for being there.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Inkings and paintings

I've been working on a few new pieces the last couple days. They are all on wood. I've got 3 inkings done and one of them painted and finished. This colored one is called "A Girl and Her Bird". It is inked with india ink and them painted with metallic paint mostly. The yellow is plain acrylic. The scanner just cannot capture the sheen to these and it looks so much better in person. So here's a photograph that shows the different metallics a little bit better...

Here's the inking:

This one I call "My Three Suns"
 This one is "Sinister Feline"

When I'm inking, the marks I make are totally random. I do not have anything in mind when I take my brush to the gesso'd wood. I don't sketch anything first. Once I get a few marks on the board, the story starts to come to me and the characters come out from hiding. It is always a surprise when it's finished. After I feel the painting is finished, I add color. I love to let the painting tell me what it wants to be.

There is going to be a local Art Show at my county's library that I'm trying to come up with something unique for. I'm not sure if everyone gets in or it's a juried event. In any case, I'm hoping I can get in. I've got until February 15th to come up with a masterpiece.. haha

Well me and the kid are sick at home again today. We just go from one cold to the next it seems. It's freezing outside and blowing the snow that is falling. I'm so ready for spring.

Later Taters,
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Curse you Blogger!

Curses! I've reached my maximum blogs to follow! Apparently 300 is the magic number. Why is there even a limit? I've read on other blogs of this problem but since I hadn't encountered this dilemma, I assumed they got rid of the nasty situation. Not so. So now I'll have to go through the grueling task of selecting some blogs to unfollow :( I hate that. If I follow a blog, it's because I am genuinely interested in reading it, or at least looking at the pictures ;) Does anyone have a tip to give me on finding blogs that might be no longer used?

So if you've not blogged in a while and I was a follower, sorry!

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Purple Locks ~ A rather long tale of hair coloring under the influence of PMS

So I was feeling a little blue on New Year's Eve during the early day and decided I needed a little pick me up in the way of beauty. Never a good time to venture into new hair color technique territory, but hey, it's never stopped me before.

Some of you may know that I am a licensed beautician. And some of you may think to yourselves, "is that right." and not in an inquisitive tone but perhaps a sarcastic one. hee hee, I might have had one of those "is that right" moments on Saturday.

I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, a little irritated, a little wistful and more than a little PMSy. So while I shoved the last of my Hershey Kisses in my mouth I headed downstairs where I keep my "beauty shop". I had enough color for a root touch up but felt like a little something more jazzy for the new year. I found some demi color in a great shade of red violet and some bleach... perfect. For those of you who don't know, demi color lasts longer than a semi permanent color but does wash out eventually.

Slopping my color on my roots I head back upstairs to suddenly decide to sweep and mop the kitchen ( I get easily distracted). So by the time I head back down to put the red violet on the rest of my hair, it was nearly time to take off my root color. Pfffft... 45 minutes is just a suggestion, right?

I go back down and add the demi color. I do this in the basement because I have 3 big splotch marks on my bathroom floor now from previous PMS moments :( (really it should stand for Passing Moments of Sanity) ooooo, the bottle looks a really pretty shade of purple I noticed as I took it upstairs after the color was on my hair.

I wash my hair out upside down in my tub and again notice oooo what a pretty shade of violet! Then it dons on me. Hmmmm.. This is not only a little purple but it's pretty dark too. Oh well. It's just hair.

So I get it all washed out and look in the mirror. Great. I now look like Dracula with a dark widow's peak on my pasty forehead. Apparently over an hour might be a tad too long for regular hair color. Oops. Dang and I don't have bangs to hide it either. Hmmm... scissors? I had enough sense at that moment to think, mmm. no. not yet. Then I notice wow, my hair is pretty dark. Where's that bleach? Back downstairs I go.

I've got this Matrix bleach given to me by my friend. She was nice enough to give me a little bag so I could sample it before I purchased a tub of it. Great - except there are no instructions. Each line of hair care use their own gimmick of ratios and I wasn't familiar with Matrix so I try to call my friend. Dang. It's New Year's Eve, I hate to bother her. I try to call the beauty supply house, closed. I looked online. The ratio or recipe if you will, is a closely guarded secret that I could not find anywhere even after registering in as a hairdresser. They weren't even civil enough to post their phone number. Bastards.

Meh... Just do it I thought. So I did. I threw the bleach powder in a bowl, added some peroxide and squeezed a big glob of the toner in. Mixed it all up and thought that looked pretty good. Great! Now I just have to try to foil my own hair. Ick. Not easy. Things would be so much easier if I could just take my head off and do it, then pop my head back on. Yeah, not happenin. 

So I managed to get it slopped on all the while forgetting to put on gloves. (Now I have sandpaper fingers.) I remember reading online that you can add heat and it would speed up the process. So I think I'm in a hurry and get under my dryer. After what I feel is 2 minutes, I get up and look in the mirror expecting to see blonde. Nope. Nothing. Get back under and turn heat all the way up. 10 minutes later get up and look again half expecting hair to come out with foil. Nope, nothing still. I figured the peroxide must be too old. So I give up and go upstairs to wash it all out and give myself a proper shower. Wow, again with the dark purple washing over me. hmmm.

After the shower I notice some high lights. No too bad I'm thinking, while not noticing my purple hair. (Hey, it was wet) I get ready and we all go to friends to play cards and have an adult beverage or two. When we get there, my friend's husband says wow, your hair. Uh. Really? Notice my husband and kid didn't say a thing to me about it. I think my hair could be on fire and Daryl wouldn't say anything about it. So I just laugh and say yeah, I colored it today and they just look at me and smile. I guess that's what one does when there really isn't something nice to say. haha

Fast forward to the next day and I finally see my hair in the daylight. Holy Shit. I've got dark Gothic purple hair with pink hi-lights. Happy Fucking New Year to me. Please excuse my language but it was a bit of a shock and I am secretly a potty mouth.

So now I look like a short fat pasty troll with blackish purple hair and pinky stained streaks around my face wearing dark red lipstick and pale white skin. I look like a garish Halloween trainwreck. Have you ever had those Aha moments when you really see something in a different light? Well this was mine. And if it weren't so dang funny I'd be crying.

It has since lightened up a little bit and I've calmed down. It's not seeming quite so purple, it's more of the dark red that I wanted in the first place. And the streaks are not so pink more coppery now, which is good. I wish I had thought to take my picture when I saw myself in the daylight for the first time. Scary. This might be my new get up for Halloween 2012.

I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year, since this is my first post of 2012. I hope this year is better for all of us and brings joy, inspiration and creativity.

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