Friday, January 30, 2009

Twitter For Artists Part 3

Wow, doing an actual video tutorial is soooo hard. The hardest part is trying to be brief and create something under 9 minutes so it can upload to youtube. This video was very tough, I was unhappy with my hair yesterday and tired from the week. With all of that said, please check out my tutorial on creating a custom twitter background.

If you don't have Photoshop and still want to pimp your twitter profile you might try these links:

Oh and be sure and see parts 1 and 2 of Twitter For artists on this blog:

Twitter For Artists Part One

Twitter For Artists Part Two

Today's Vlog Delayed

I dunno what is up with youtube, but it is taking forever for my video to process. This one has been tough all the way around. For now I will post Charlie & Chance for your viewing pleasure. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Dog Art Tips in Photoshop

Today I am posting a video that shows you how to add a background shadow in Photoshop. This process video is of Taz the Boston Terrier. Throughout the first 2 quarters of the year I want to experiment with weekly process videos as I think it is a great way to share my techniques and better educate my clients and potential clients about digital art. Too often digital artists that come out of a fine art background feel like they have to be on the defensive about their tools. I feel the best way to avoid that silly trap is to share process with folks so they can come to realize that digital artists can achieve the same high or low levels as their more traditional peers. When you get right down to it we all have the same basic elements to play with; line, color, composition, balance, light, shape, mass and so on. It is what we do with it all that makes it art.
Thanks for watching guys and for your comments and support.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boston Terrier Painting Video

Today I am posting an in progress video of Taz The boston terrier. This short little clip shows me painting in whiskers on this cute pup. I am trying my hand at posting some progress clips so that I can experiment with this screen capture software. I create my work on a pretty large monitor so it is always a challenge to record things so that the brush cursor is big enough to show. Anyway ... enjoy, tomorrow I will post the steps I take to create a shadow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Maltese Art

"Dudley & Tucker"
Just uploaded proofs for Dudley & Tucker. If you are a client waiting on proofs please hang tight for just a few more days. I am working overtime to try and get 3 clients proofed per day every day this week.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Twitter For Artists Part Two

Last Friday I started blogging about twitter for artists. Today I want to talk about customizing your background image for twitter if you happen to be a twitter user. The video above is a tour and discussion of creative backgrounds on twitter. I shortened it as much as I could and a few of my favorite grounds got edited out so I will include them here in this post.

This screen shot below is of Claudine Hellmuth's twitter profile. She has taken the professional approach of using the background stripe from her website as her background image on twitter This a great technique for reinforcing your brand and creating recognition between your various web out-posts.

Below we have "sparklepaw's" profile. This twitter user created a fun web badge that highlights items on the left from their Etsy shop. I have seen several twitter users take this very direct approach to promoting their Etsy shops. I like it and in fact I have purchased from twitters users that do this.

If showing off items for sell seems too bold for your on-line presence then check out the screen shot below where "artmind" has taken one large image and placed it at the left. I love this background image because no matter how you resize your browser it still looks good.

Next week I will post a simple tutorial on customizing your twitter page and include some helpful resource links for folks that may not have access to image editing software.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Artist Quotes On Portraiture

"Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come." - Vincent Van Gogh

"Like Chekhov, I am a collector of souls.... I think if I hadn't been an artist, I could have been a psychiatrist". - Alice Neel

" The character of a face in a drawing depends not upon its various proportions, but upon a spiritual light which it reflects". - Henri Matisse

" I had rather see the portrait of a dog that I know, than all the allegorical paintings they can show me in the world. " - Samuel Johnson

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Maya Kitty

Maya is one of several projects getting printed this week. I love this grey shadow kitty. You can see the complete Maya proofing set by clicking here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kitty in a Basket

Ok one more layout option on the PetSmart Charities project. On the last samples I was counting on the toys to create a story and unify the pup & kitty. In this sample the repetition of round objects ( the basket, balls and dog tag) are unifying the layout and allowing your eye to happily bounce throughout the composition.

My husband is an artist and this weekend I asked him for help in figuring out the best composition. He asked me if I had thought about using the kitty basket from the original photo. I had thought about it but not enough to sketch it out. When I did revisit the idea I found that the basket gave the kitty some weight & importance. Suddenly Desmond the kitty had more of an equal share in the compositional real estate to her pal Maggie. I like this new solution a lot, and the lesson learned is that when dealing with tough design challenges, try it all and get second opinions.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Splatter Paint & Black Lines

Ok one more and then I quit for today. You can not really tell from this low res. web-image but in this sample I drew around all of my elements with a black line. The circle background has been dirtied up with splatter brushes.

PetSmart Charities Project New Layout

So here is where I am at with the PetSmart project. It is starting to take some shape now. I think I have too much color in the background elements and not enough hue on the pets. My biggest challenge has been trying to figure out a way to wake sweet Maggie up, come on girl ... it's time for your close-up. She is a totally stunning pup and yet if you refer back to her original photo you will see that she looks a little bit sleepy. I think the toys help to create a story here and while the pillows say "snuggle" the toys say "play". I think I need to step away from it for a few hours and start fresh in the morning. I will have a proofing set by Monday on this project. YAY!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Twitter For Artists Part One

Today I want to talk a little about Twitter, and how I have seen other artists use this social networking tool to help market and improve their art business. Twitter takes some getting use to and I admit I am still pretty new to the game. Like many folks I signed up, twitted a few updates and not understanding the concept I abandoned twitter for quite awhile. I think I am finally starting to understand Twitter's true potential.

What do your Tweets Look like?
The hardest thing to wrap your mind around is what the heck to post? When it comes to content I see 3 distinct types of twitterers in the art world and we will look at all 3. The first twitter user I'll call "Sally the Saleswoman". Sally uses twitter aggressively to twitt links to her recent blog posts, new items for sale in her Etsy shop and maybe an occasional contest scheme. That is pretty much it for Sally's twittering. Then there is "Woowoo Wanda". Wanda likes to twitter news of which herbal tea she is sipping at the moment. She lets us know when it is raining, what her pets are doing and what movie she went to last night. Wanda wants her followers to get to know her and she is very open and conversational in her tweets. She hardly ever links to her sales pages or her Etsy shop, as her followers are her friends and "you don't ask your friends to buy stuff from you". Wanda also spends a good amount of time replying to other people's tweets. My last stereotype is "Hybrid Harold". Harold is a healthy combination of both Sally and Wanda. Harold lets his followers know what projects he is working on at any given moment and will not hesitate to link to new artwork for sale on his website... yay Harold! He also shares news about what gallery openings or museum shows he may have seen recently. He may even tell us when he is hitting a brick wall and struggling to write a grant proposal or other tough task. Harold tries to stick to art and business, and yet he is not afraid to stray off topic on occasion. Healthy Harold is also not afraid to toot his own horn. If you are a Twitter user you may see yourself in all 3 stereotypes. I know I do. I would like to think I am a "Healthy Harold" and yet this last week I spent way too much time complaining about my broken furnace on Twitter. Of course with that said, one of my local facebook pals saw my tweets ( you can link your FB and twitter accounts) and she facebooked me to let me know she had some spare space heaters. I did not need them but her sweet offer made my afternoon. That brings me to another great use of twitter ... you can ask for stuff! No not literal "stuff", but if you have other artists following you and you need advice on which software to purchase, which post card printer to use, or who has the best deal on custom stickers, then twitter is a great place to throw out your questions. So many artists work alone in their studios and twitter can be a great thread that connects you to a larger creative community full of resources and advice.

I suppose when it comes to content I could create one more stereotype and that would be "Generous Gerald". Gerald is the great guy that is always twitting about other people's work and is determined to share every new tool or web resource he stumbles across. Gerald is web-savvy and knows how to use tinyurl to share virtually any link he discovers, even those 160 character amazon book links. We could all strive to be more like Gerald on occasion.

Ok that is enough for Part One on Twitter for Artists. I wanted to do a video post today, but I am still sitting in a cold studio and I have a house full of workmen here. The good news is they are promising me heat by this evening. Next I want to cover some more advanced stuff like customizing your background image in Twitter and how to find other artists to follow. Check back for Part Two on Twitter for Artists. If you are a twitter user and can think of other types of content I have missed please leave a comment. I know I have probably only scratched the surface with my light-hearted stereotypes.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kiss The Tabby


This cute Tabby cat gets printed later today along with a few other projects.

Chinese Crested Art


Still working on the PetSmart Charities project and a few other portrait projects. It is great when I have several things going on at once. When I get stuck on one project I can always take a break and work on another piece. Sanuk above is still underway. I love Chinese Cresteds. I have only done a few over the last 10 years. Ok back to work.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Follow me on twitter

(above) My New Background for Twitter Profile

Last night I updated my Twitter background image. I had been using the green pin-stripe from my website for branding purposes, but decided it was way too boring. On Friday I am going to talk about using twitter for artists so check back in with me.

If you are a twitter-er (one that twitters?) follow me for a chance to win a prize. I will be giving away a free 8 x 10 or 5 x7 print from my Etsy shop to my 200'th follower.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Desmond Kitty Art

"Desmond" ( above )
Desmond Maggie Layout Sketch ( below)

I really like Desmond's artwork. When I first saw the kitty photo I was not sure he would have enough personality to be a good portrait, but with those intense eyes and that freckled nose how could I miss. There is nothing wrong with cute after all. You can see from the layout sketch of Maggie & Desmond that I have a long way to go before I figure out how they will work together.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kitty Eyes


This is Desmond from the post below. His artwork is coming along great ( stunning eyes). I think combining this little guy with Maggie is going to be a fun challenge, in other words sort of hard. I am creating single portrait prints first for the contest winners and then I will isolate just Maggie, and combine her with Desmond for the final product artwork. I know I can do it, but I am not sure just yet how it will play out. I'll post more on Desmond tomorrow.

PetSmart Charities Project

Above ( Working Sketch of Maggie)
Below ( Reference photos)

This week I am focusing on creating artwork for PetSmart Charitie's Just a Buck, Change Their Luck™ Campaign Fundraiser.
Desmond the kitty and Maggie the pitbull were the lucky winners of their annual campaign contest. I am going to combine Maggie & Desmond in one piece of artwork that will be used on product in store, and the funds raised are used by their agency partners to support spay/neuter, adoption, retention, and education programs in local communities. I am really excited about this opportunity to help and for the honor of being chosen to represent such a great cause.

Image Software Review

Last week I downloaded a trial version of Genuine Fractals. This Photoshop Plug-in is supposed to allow you to resize small images ( like the low resolution postage stamps many of my clients submit) without the interpolation and jagged halos that usually result. I was not all that impressed with the outcome on the images I tried. With that said, I may still purchase the software for another feature it offers. The program will easily create gallery borders on your artwork. If you have ever sat and tried to rubber-stamp in the extra 2 inches of color around a piece to set it up for printing you will love how easily this program grabs pixels from the outer edge of you piece and fills in that gallery wrap edge. You can download a trial version and play with it if you are curious about it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pet Portrait Business Models

© Leigh Jackson
Today I want to talk about business models and give a quick shout out to someone who I admire as an artist and really respect as a business woman. Leigh Jackson with Noisy Dog Studios has been painting dogs for quite awhile. She has a call for photos going on right now for a special project she is doing in 09. Send her your pup pics and she might just choose them as one of her subjects to paint next year. It costs you nothing, and your pet might be chosen as her next subject. You can always purchase your artwork later if you wish. This is not a contest, and not a gimmick. It is just a brilliant idea and something she wants to do. Read more about it and visit her website to check out her artwork. A portion of her proceeds on this project will benefit A Place to Bark. It looks like she will be combining her blog and twitter feed to add an extra element of fun to the project... clever girl!

I love Leigh's regular terms on her portrait site. She takes a 50% deposit on her commissions, and shows her clients a final proof. If they love their portrait they pay the balance, if not they forfeit their deposit and she sells the painting on-line to her large fan base of dog lovers. I can not imagine anyone not falling in love with their portrait since she has a unique and wonderful style that gets right to the essence of her subjects. That is all there is to ordering with Leigh and it is so simple and so brilliant. She avoids the hassle of repainting, reproofing and jumping through other hoops to match her artistic vision to that of her clients. I am sure she probably quizzes them on favorite colors etc. but when it comes right down to it she just does her own thing and listens to her own instincts. It is pure and honest and I love it!

Here at Art Paw I try to stay true to my inner voice as well and yet my terms are a little different. I do offer a money back guarantee, and also find myself redesigning and reproofing occasionally. Of course with digital art that is so much easier to do. I point out our differences not because I think my way is the best way, but to show that there are many many ways to work, and the trick is finding a way that works well for you the artist and for your clients. One of my goals for 09 is to rethink and rework my own business model a bit. There are many things about it that work like a well oiled machine, but then there are things that I could improve on a lot. I do not know yet what changes I will be making. One thing I want to do is stop promising such fast turn-arounds. It makes me crazy and I often loose sleep worrying about deadlines. That is the nature of commercial art, but at some point you have to educate people about art and let them know that your fastest work does not always equal your best work, sometimes it actually does, but not always. This week I am really fortunate to be working with some of the most patient laid back clients on the planet so my stress level is pretty low.

There are so many ways to design a custom pet portrait business. If you are a commercial or fine artist working on demand please be generous if you have time and leave us a comment and share some insights you may have about what commission working terms you use that have or have not worked in the past. Another goal in 09 is to continue to support other artists on this blog, and to try to open up dialogues. I have some regular blogging art buddies that I love hearing from and yet I know there are other readers out there that have never even said hi yet. Don't be shy! To leave a comment just click on the text link below this post that has a number and the word "comments" next to it and a window will open up... it's very easy.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Quincy and his cobalt blues

"Quincy the Pitbull"
See all Proofs
Yesterday I was listening to Pandora's box ... a very cool web radio type service that serves up music based on your likes. They kept playing great blues tracks I had never heard before. Anyway ... I was working on Quincy and in a very good creative place. This was a fun project as the client wanted primary colors and lately I have been thinking about, hmmm, more like hungering for cobalt blue & yellow. These are pure hues that I very seldom take out of my crayon box. I usually like to dirty up my colors with off shades and warm dark under tones. With that said after the holiday rush I kept thinking about pure basic childhood colors for some reason and then along came Quincy to fit that bill. The photo below is his actual house. I mocked up his work on the wall at the back. He has a kitty buddy I guess. Maybe if I am lucky the kitty will be next.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Oh baby I gotta thing for sweet Pitbulls

Quincy's big lovin' eyes.

I am listening to the blues and working on Quincy. Yea I sort of have the sweet pitbull blues, hence the goofy post title. Man I always fall in love with the pits, especially when the photos are as great as Quincy's. I have a weird doggy blues song rattling around in my head now. I will spare you the lyrics.

I may try to get a vlog post on tomorrow, and post some more kitty art. Taz has been finalized and I have a new kitty to start on. Oh ...and a Chinese crested and his pal the Japanese Chin are going to be immortalized soon as well. So much to do, but today my heart belongs to Quincy.

Eleanor Roosevelt & Francis

I don't think I have posted these two kitties yet. I actually did 2 different proofing sets for these guys because I sort of messed up and did the painterly style when the client really wanted the Warhol look. I will try to track this client down today as his project is still pending approval.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dog Art For Baby's Room

Thanks to Jenn for sending us these great shots of Luna at home. I enjoyed working on this piece. It was a fun challenge. My own color pallet tends to lean towards deep masculine reds, oranges and vibrant hues. It was really fun trying to work in softer tones that would do well on pink walls. This background combo of aqua & yellow was created for Luna and I love it. A few other clients have since requested it ( check out Norm below). There is something great about how the yellow seems to glow. You can see an earlier post about Luna in November's archives.

If you are a client reading this, please send us your photos of your artwork at home. I love getting these snapshots. It always reminds me of why I really do enjoy working 12 hour days.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A People Person

Today I had a quick New Years brainstorming session with a photographer pal of mine. You may recall the post last September where I shared pics of me by Kris Hundt. Kris is a very talented photographer that loves people as much as I love animals. She is a sweet gal that can come across as humble and modest until you get her excited about talking about her work, and like so many professional women over the age of 35, she knows her stuff and she knows she knows. She has a unique ability to relax her subjects and really capture the personality of the people she shoots. She has started a new blog called 52portraits.
Her goal in her own words: "Each week the person will change and probably so will the landscape but the goal is to see the same landscape with new eyes, to sharpen my skills and truly see." Check out her new blog and leave her a comment.

She has me wondering if I may need to do a non-commissioned dog painting each week, something just for me, with no end client in mind. Of course then there is the goal to get back to doing my weekly dog vlogs and interviewing other artists. There are so many things I want to do in 09. When I meet up with other creatives like Kris my list of personal creative project ideas just seems to double.

If you are an artist reading this, I challenge you to make some time this week to pick up the phone and connect with your local artist pals that have this effect on you. Make time to network with other artists and share you hopes & goals for 09.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Norm the Bassett Hound

This adorable Bassett hound is getting printed today along with a handful of other approved projects. I have a few pet portraits needing design changes this week and then I may actually clear my plate at some point this month. I do have one important project to do for Pet Smart Charities. Hmmm maybe getting ahead of your work load is a concept that is over-rated.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Smushie Faced Doggies

"Dixie, Buster, Molly"
I adore Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and Pugs. Any Smushie faced dog just melts my heart. Happy Friday everyone. I hope most of you guys are still on holiday break. I have sort of gotten back to work this week, although I am not really sure a few 7 hour days can really qualify as being back at it. Next week I plan to get back to work at 100% steam and try to clear my plate before the end of the month.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Nothing better than some vintage Scotties to say "Happy 2009"!