Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Web Wrap Up

Bird Art
© rebecca collins /

Found some great posts this week:

The Ping By Todd Henry: "We need to learn to pay attention to what’s in front of us."

Marketing to your Niche the Donnie Brasco Way: Well written advice by Kathy McComb Swift
Is Fear Holding You Back: by Brian Clark

An Artist's Thoughts on The Surtex: by Sarah Jane Staffier

I'm taking Mosaic Monday off for Memorial day. If you need a mosaic fix stroll on over to Eve Lynch's new blog, she always offers great eye candy. For those seeking tips she has a good post on tweaking your blog design.

Have a Great Weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finding Artist Resources 101

Going to try very hard to get back to posting artist tips, links and resources on the weekends. I was in the habit of doing that a year or so back and I want to try to return to it.

This article is for other artists that may be new to sourcing. What is "sourcing" and who is good at it? Sourcing is that unique ability that some artists have to find new materials to paint on or with, new service providers and new partners that will create unique products with their artwork on it.  Wikipedia states that: "In business, the term sourcing refers to a number of procurement practices, aimed at finding, evaluating and engaging suppliers of goods and services."

Maybe you are an Etsy seller and you have noticed that some people package their handmade jewelry in pretty silver metal tins, you think "wow what a great idea".  You could message one of these sellers and ask them, "hey where do you get your tins, I want to package my work that competes with yours in the exact same packaging you are using, but hey don't worry, my label will be green and look totally different".  Or you could do what that seller did and spend an hour or more looking on-line for "metal tins", "commercial packaging", "gift boxes" and who knows you may even find a cooler tin than they are using or even better pricing. Sourcing takes a lot of time and it takes patience, and in my opinion it is a much better route to take than sending random e-mails to other artists that have never even met you.  The people that are good at sourcing are those folks that are always coming up with new products to add to their gift lines, new packaging ideas and new ways to do things.  I feel like I am pretty good at finding what I need at good prices and I very rarely ask other artists for help in this area.   When I do hit a brick wall in my search efforts I know I just need to try and think in a new way.

Here is my list of tips for sourcing:
#1 Try a wide variety of search terms for the product or service you are looking for. Then try an even wider variety of search terms.
#2 Be specific about materials and sizes. In the example above in searching for "metal tins", try using the deminsions that you know these tins to be available at.
#3 Use the word "wholesale".
#4 Think about what other type of industries may use the item you need. If you are searching for metal tins, you might try food service, food storage, candy packaging, candle companies and so on.
#5 Spend time on google, but don't forget about the other search engines, and don't forget about offline resources. Offline resources include trade publications and trade shows, and the yellow pages if you can find one.
#6 If you use Twitter you can always send a random shout out to the people that you are connected to and ask if anyone has any good ideas about where you can find what you are looking for ...  this is far better than putting one individual on the spot that may not be comfortable sharing their vendor list.  Some people are very protective of their sources and rightfully so, still others are more than eager to share. Twitter is a great place to ask for help without stepping on toes.

The Follow Through:
Ok so let's say you have bookmarked half a dozen places that all have pretty similar pricing on metal tins. Now what? Well look for a 1-800 number and see which of these companies offers phone support.   I will spend a few cents more on an item if the website is well designed or if it offers me a toll-free number where I can connect with a real human. When placing your first order for a new supply with a new company be sure and order at the minimum or even ask if you can purchase a sample, many wholesale resources will sell samples.

Ok so those are my tips for finding what you need. I would love to hear from other artists on any sourcing research tips they may have to share so please feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, May 28, 2010

New Wacom Tablet Arrived!

"Newt Sketch"
© rebecca collins /

I got a new Wacom tablet today and it rocks! I should be working on client updates, but I am trying to get the feel for this new tablet. It came with a gazillion different pen nibs. I figured the only way to get a real feel for it is to try them all with a little line work. So I took Newt's artwork and started sketching on top of it, then turned down the opacity on the bottom layers and added paint to the top layers. The result is a very sketchy loose drawing of Newt.

 Wacom Intuos 4/  A Review:
I bought the smallest tablet because I like having it take up less desk space. I saved $70 by ordering on-line at Macmall. 
Have you been thinking about ordering a tablet or upgrading an existing tablet? Well at $157 there has never been a better time to buy. The changes on this new tablet are great. The round button to the left is a zoom control and it is great. My old tablet still works pretty good although the cord that is attached to the tablet is starting to become a bit thread bare at the corner where it is attached. They have solved that design flaw by making the new cord a removable usb cable.  The new tablet is thinner and lighter making it a great travel companion. The case that holds extra pen nibs doubles as a pen holder. I had no trouble getting the feel for this new tablet, it is a tad smaller than my last tablet and I like that.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Newt The Bulldog

"Newt" ( see all proofs )
©2010 rebecca collins /
Detail below

 I love this fellow. Bulldogs always just melt my heart. This is one of the bolder options I am showing Newt's Mom. I have a few with tame coat coloring, but you know me ... I love color.

"Travel light" for Team Up Thursday

Our theme for team up Thursday is "Out Of Focus". My image is above, Kris Hundt's shot is below. Above is my husband standing in front of large wing sculpture at the Modern in Ft. worth.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jack / New Dog Art Portrait

"Jack" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

This is Jack. He shipped earlier this month. My client requested a leafy background and also wanted me to open up his eyes a wee bit.  They ended up ordering a 2nd proof for the son's room. When clients order additional prints from the same proofing set those 2nd prints are deeply discounted. This is because your design time is done with your first proofing round and the design costs are embedded into your first print purchase.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

48 Today!

I am 48 today! Wow, the years are going by so darn fast. Taking the afternoon off to visit the Kimbell Art Museum. Lola and I will be pushing hard tomorrow to stay ahead on the portrait commissions. I'll post some new art later this week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mosaic Monday / A Play Day

I was naughty today, well actually I just took a much needed long lunch break with a girlfriend.  Last week one of my mosaic classmates, (patron and friend) noticed on Facebook that my Birthday was tomorrow so she asked me out to lunch. She took me to a fab Mediterranean restaurant that is in the same shopping area as Kittrell Riffkin where I like to shop for glass so we made a nice long lunch of it. My girlfriend is from India and she gifted me with the most stunning blue ceramic tray from India. It is called Jaipur Blue Pottery.  The name comes from the eye-catching Persian blue dye used to color the clay. The Jaipur blue pottery, made out of Egyptian paste, is glazed and low-fired. At first I thought I might use it as an earring catch-all on my dresser, but the more I look at it the more I think I need to find a way to hang it right on the wall, the blue glaze is so amazing and rich and yummy.

After lunch we went into the glass shop and fawned over sheets of glass the way most woman drool over shoes.

I treated myself to $45 worth of glass, came home and unwrapped my stash to discover I only bought 2 sheets of color .... lol, how the heck did that happen? The good news is I got lots of patterned clear glass that is going to work on my current mosaic project and some future projects. 

The wavy pattern on the very bottom of the photo above might be used on my current project in the water area of my map. I have a bird diptych I have started that needs some texture I think.

Anyway ... that was my Mosaic Monday!  I got out of the studio, met with an off-line mosaic pal and had a very lovely afternoon. I am sipping on an iced coffee right now and feeling very spoiled.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Goodbye Sweet Stella

"Stella The Wonderdog"
1997 - May 2010
© rebecca collins /

Stella was the oldest member of our extended doggy pack. I think she came into our world back in 1997, although the passing years get very jumbled up in my brain these days. When she was just a puppy girl she and our boy Atticus were best friends, meeting often at the Lake for play dates. I know she is running free and happy with him at the rainbow bridge.  My heart goes out to both her Mom and her surrogate Mom, and to her pack members Ruby & Bella. Rest softly sweet girl, you will be missed more than words can tell.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dozer The Bulldog

© rebecca collins /

 Earlier this week I heard from an old client. I was very saddened to learn that Dozer the Bulldog had passed away a few months ago.  He left his humans for the rainbow bridge just shy of his 13th Birthday.  Thirteen seems like a nice old age and yet they are never with us long enough. My heart goes out to his family.

Dozer's folks have a new Bullie named Newt and I am fortunate to get to do a painterly style portrait of Newt this month.  Dozer was one of my earliest bulldog projects ordered by one sister as a gift to the other.  In thinking about this special guy and his project I realized that his Warhol styled portrait that I created over 10 years ago was a break through piece for me in many ways. It is one of the first pieces where I started drawing lines on top of the pup and I even added a tentative paint drip in the bottom left corner. Up until that point I had really just been playing around with filters. I probably did not even have a wacom tablet yet so I am sure my lines were drawn old-school with the mouse.  This sort of experimentation back in 1999 must have been the seedlings for my current painterly style of working today. Thanks to Dozer for being my muse.

"detail of Dozer line work"
Original photo below.

In looking for images for today's post I found what I needed on Disc #2 out of thousands of archived images on cds.  Some of my clients have been on a very long art journey with me. I am so grateful to all of my clients for allowing me to celebrate their love for their fur-kids.  I do have the best job on the planet for an animal lover.

Dec. 16. 1999

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cold-Hot for Team up Thursday

I will post some more dog art soon. This is a diptych for Team up Thursday group over at Flickr. Kris Hundt's image at top, and mine below. We both took the theme and thought of color with it ...although I did throw in some real heat with the pepper.

Tomorrow I want to dig in my archives to share a special bulldog portrait I did way back in 2002. I think you guys will like it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ottis The Pug

"Ottis" ( See all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

This is a cute little pug I worked on earlier this month.
About The Art
The background on this one is new. I enjoyed working on this cute fellow. The original snapshot was a very sweet pose although the resolution was a tad low causing some pixelation upon enlargement. I feel like I did a good job of smoothing out the pixels and also brightening up the eyes. The entire eye area to our right was pretty dark in the original, I feel like adding in a bit of brown iris made all the difference.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mosaic Monday / Toot Toot

 "Swarm Bot" 6 x6 
© rebecca collins

Usually on Mosaic Monday I like to share links and images of other people's mosaic projects, however today I will be tooting my own horn a wee bit.  This Friday I am in a show that is opening at the Cedars Gallery in Dallas called "Obsession".  It is the member's show for the Dallas Creative Arts Center.  The other day I realized that this month I will be in 3 galleries at the same time with my mosaic work here at the end of May.  I am in a show in North Carolina (The Ciel Gallery) that will be ending May 22nd and I am also in the Mermaid and Octopus show ( Norwood Flynn Gallery) , ending May 22.

"Focused Through Movement" 24 x 18 x 2
© rebecca collins
Currently available for purchase at The Norwood Flynn Gallery 

 "Russian Beetle #2"
© rebecca collins
Currently available for purchase at The Ciel Gallery

Three years ago I started playing around with glass Mosaics in  my spare time, not knowing where they would take me. Today I have a quality body of work and still I am unsure just where it will all take me.  So far I have only sold a few pieces. I really enjoy showing and the work itself is like therapy. The slow process of cutting and placing the glass is very meditative.  I have developed a style of working that incorporates my digital paintings under glass. I am not sure where I will go next with my work in terms of subjects and materials, and I guess that is my favorite part of this new journey ... always something new to discover and learn. 

Even the entire show submission process itself is a journey of discovery. When I was a girl in college studying art we all sort of regarded the gallery world as some mysterious scary place that would be so eager to reject us and spit on our feeble attempts at art. In reality what I have discovered is that most gallery folks are hard working, kind people that are very generous with their time.  As I get older I find it easier and easier to risk rejection. I also find myself creating fewer self defeating stories about people and places.  Anyway, thanks for reading my little ramble and checking out my work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Muliebrity For Team Up Thursday

1. the condition of being a woman
2. femininity
[via Late Latin from Latin muliēbris womanly, from mulier woman]

For our theme on this week's Team up Thursday we borrowed a word from one of the word of the day sites. Kris Hundt's photo is to the left of this diptych and mine is to the right. I really liked the way Lola's hair looked pinned up yesterday and it reminded me of old Japanese prints and their fascination with the back of a woman's neck. In the old days of Japan women were covered from head to toe, that small little patch of skin was the ultimate expression of femininity and sensuality.

You can see more from this fun flickr group by visiting the group pool.  Each week we shoot on a theme and make a diptych with our group partners.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

They Say Everything is Bigger In Texas!

Today Lola and I worked together to box up a very large print of Hershey and Snoop to send off to Austin. This repeat client did a Warhol style portrait with us years ago and was ready to change up the colors in her house with a new portrait in classic traditional warm tones. She went with the large 54 x 34 inch size.

I found these great extra large boxes at uline. They are for flat panel TVs. Usually we have to build a box for the larger prints out of two smaller boxes. This new box was rather pricey at $14.99 however it saved us a lot of time, and I think it is super strong. I am more than happy to pay an extra $10 on a box if I know it is going to be extra strong and save me 20 minutes of handling time. Yay!

Travel safe sleepy labs!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ginger Has A Toy

"Ginger" ( see all proofs)
© rebecca collins /

Ginger has a toy ... yes she does!  I love this original photograph. It makes me very happy. I was just looking at our proofing site and discovered that I have done 11 pet portrait proofs so far this month. Today is the 11th, so I guess that means I am sort of busy ...YAY!

I am working on client updates and only have 2 to go before I am totally caught up with commissions. Who wants to send in an order tonight and make me eat those words?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Mermaid and Octopus Opening Tonight

Some of you may recall the octopus mosaic I was working on these last couple of months. Well I finally finished it and the show opening is tonight. I would love to post a pic of my finished work, but I forgot to do a good shot of it before I delivered. I will be sure and take some shots tonight at the show.

For now I will post a few wonderful pieces by various artists below the show details.

Norwood Flynn Gallery
3318 Shorecrest Drive
Dallas, Texas 75235

Opening Reception: Tonight May 8, 2010 6 - 8PM
Exhibition dates: May 8 – 22, 2010

 ©2010  Linda Noland

© 2010 Dan Collins

Friday, May 07, 2010

Happy Birthday Beth's Mom!

Sometimes we have difficulty getting our e-mail through our client's various spam filters. Phone calls get missed and before you know it in this modern day of communications we can not reach people with their proofing links.  At times like these I often turn to the blog and hope people can navigate to it from the main site to find their links. 

This adorable little Doxie is a present for Beth's Mom. We received the photos on this Rush project on Monday and proofed our client on Tuesday. Hoping she will receive my phone messages and be able to find her proofs today to share with Mom.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Modern Animal Totem for Joyce

Detail of Totem above

© rebecca collins /

Creating artwork for friends is always tricky and creating artwork for people with serious art collections can be pretty intimidating. Earlier this year one of my friends and classmates asked me to create an animal totem from pics of her pets, some of which are no longer here.  It has taken me awhile to complete this project because the concept of a totem was sort of brand new to me and I was not sure how to stack everyone up. I was also rather scared since my client is a talented artist herself and has a lovely house full of really incredible artwork by some pretty well known artists ...  I sort of psyched myself out a bit.  I try hard to come across in life as really confident and positive about my art work, but every once in awhile I can have major anxiety attacks about various projects. I usually get over the fear pretty quickly and move forward ... what else can you do?

About the art: I went a bit bolder than I had intended to with color on this project. The background was created from a few different layers. I had a layer with color squares in it and on top of that I did my watercolor looking shadow effect on the animals and then merged those layers, used the spherize filter on that to plump it and make the lines curve, then dry brush then I painted in spot color  here and there. I am very pleased with my modern animal totem and I am crossing fingers that Joyce likes it, if not I hope she asks for design tweaks  ... that is the tricky part ... friends being afraid to hurt your feelings. At least I know her to be a gal that usually speaks her mind.

Mosaic Monday/ Public Art

Found this on Flickr today. Looks like it was taken at the 8th Street Station in NYC. I love the black outlines on the dog and the people legs. The odd choice to make the shadow break out of the circular frame is also a nice design touch. The entire composition is sophisticated and playful.