Archive for January, 2011

Face Off: A New Artsy Reality Competition

I just watched the first episode of Face Off last night on Syfy channel. It the perfect marriage between the artsy fartsy part of me to the geeky scifi nerd part of me. Loved it.

Face Off Is a competition for up and coming make-up artists. And by make-up artist I don’t mean face painting super models, I mean creating creatures for alien movies and Pirates of the Caribbean (which one of the judges did all 3 Pirates movies.)

This is a show in the family as Top Chef and Project Runway and is pretty much set up the same. An initial challenge and those who win that get immunity from being eliminated from the big challenge.

I was totally fascinated with watching it all come together. Last nights big challenge was to create a human animal hybrid from one of three critters: Elephant, Ostrich and Black Beetle. Totally fascinating.

You can get more information or watch full episodes online at www.syfy.com/faceoff

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The 80/20 Rule

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the 80/20 rule but for those of you unfamiliar with it, I’ll explain. The 80/20 is simply the percentile of positive and negative in any given area. Of late I’ve been thinking about just how true it is for all aspects of my life. It applies fairly accurately to my marriage, relationships, business, painting and writing.

In relationships and marriage it is usually defined that if you have a good relationship with someone it is 80% good and 20% you’d like to see changed. The reason many people get divorced is they think they can’t live without that extra 20%. The truth is no relationship is 100% and so they just exchange this person for that person, but the equation stays the same.

Since I’m not one to talk about relationships on my blog I’ll focus on how the 80/20 rule applies to art and writing.

With art the 80/20 split quantifies the balance of successful to not successful. So using my squidoo lenses as an example approximately 80% earn .00 to .35 cents each per month. While 20 percent earn $15-$50 each per month.

This rule also applies to my art in a couple of ways. First 80% of my work is mediocre to crap. While 20% is good to brilliant. 80% makes me little in print sales while 20% is the cash cow. Food for thought Mind you great art does not equal high selling.

In business 80% of my customer base will be new people while 20% will be repeats. Often those 20% will make up 80% of the overall sales. So take note if you have a good patron respect and honor that relationship. They may keep you afloat.

The trick is trying to figure out how to get more than 20% to be high performing. Of course the point of calling it a rule is that it means you can’t. You need to create that 80% in order to achieve the 20. You can of course learn techniques to improve your skill and your sales but for some reason the math seems to stay the same.

Does anyone have any thoughts on your own experiences with the 80/20 rule. Has anyone managed to avoid this rule successfully and made the bulk of their art or sales high performing, I’d love to hear about it.

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Barn Kitties Big Adventure

And yes I meant kitties not kitty’s because … well it has happened to more than one cat.

A Normal Day Just Like Any Other
I arrive at the gallery somewhere around 11am and stop in the printing room to confer with my husband about what’s going on today.

(Yeah, I know 11am makes me sound lazy, but seriously it’s the middle of winter, the gallery has zero business and so I just can’t see the point of rushing up there, especially when Mike gets there at like 7am.)

(So yeah okay, he gets there at 7am because he’s a morning person and well … quite frankly I’m not. I’m way more loving with a couple of hours of quiet time and a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke.)

(Umm … to clarify, I don’t actually drink the entire 2 liters in the morning. It just gives me comfort to hold it.)

(Okay, so yeah occasionally I do drink the entire 2 liters in one morning but only on the days that I really need the extra emotional support.)

(Stop judging me.)

So I’m chatting away and I hear a distant meow. I glance down and see Budda eyeballing me and his lips totally did not move when I heard it again. So unless Budda has turned himself into some kind of awesome genius ventriloquist cat we had another cat in the gallery.

Mike’s like “Uh, I think we have a cat in the garage.”

On further inquiry after Mike arrived he had heard some meowing but thought perhaps it was Budda (because Budda is a seriously vocal cat. He has Siamese ancestors I just know it.) But then it quit. Upon my arrival however the cat recognized my voice as the belonging to “The one who brings all good things” and started to meow.

Turns out it was one of our more wild kitties. Most of my barn cats I can pet if not pick up. A couple however are truly wild. And our gallery garages are huge and filled will all sorts of hidy holes, not to mention a basement.

Just Call Me The Cat Whisperer

Mike had noticed that the cat seemed to like sitting on the straw bales which we use for lining the large link-fence dog run. Our old girl Cisco is kept in the kennel when we leave for winter events. Our garages are heated so it’s a comfortable stay if not a happy one. Anyway the cat was drawn to them. I imagine they smelled of Cisco and the straw reminded him of home, which was comforting in this very strange and foreign place.

So Mike puts two bales in the dog kennel in hopes of luring our little vagrant into a giant cat trap. This worked like a charm. Within minutes the cat was napping in the dog run.

So I casually walk in. speaking softly. The kitty was one of those that leaned to the feral side and thus hadn’t been named. I had only recently been able to put my hand on it briefly. I wasn’t sure if this was going to work at all. The cat hops off the bales and skulks deeper into the run. So I step into the run and close the gate. The kennel is 6 foot tall but I know a cat can scale this if frightened enough. Plus a 20 foot dog run is still a lot of space to wrangle a cat in.

So I speak in my soft voice trying to lull the cat into stop trying to push itself through the 2″ hole of the chain link. This actually worked. After about 5 minutes it stopped. Another minute or two it came within a few feet of me and sat down. When it would look away or close it’s eyes I would try to step closer, but deep straw bedding does not allow for stealthy movement.

So giving up on this tactic I opted for the distraction method. I rubbed my thumb over my fore and index fingers making a swirling motion that’s proven to be like some sort of cat hypnotism. The cat’s eyes glazed over completely transfixed on my fingers. I move slowly closer all the while doing the finger rub thing until I finally reach out and touch him by the neck.

He flattens himself to the floor in a moment of panic and then realizing the sheer and utter joy of my touch rears up and pushes against my hand wanting more petting. I scuffed his neck a bit getting him good and relaxed and then picked him by it (relieved he didn’t yowl, twist or try to scratch or bite) and plunked him in Budda’s cat carrier to be returned to the farm.

Barn Kitty’s Wild Ride

So with my successful cat capture (I should totally try-out for a job as a wild critter wrangler on like the crocodile hunter or something) we then began to discuss exactly how a cat got from the farm to the gallery garage in the first place.

Our best guess is that he was either under the van or in the engine space. Both place make for a dead cat. And after all these many years we’ve never taken a cat into town. It’s like 4 miles. And while that doesn’t sound far, think of clinging to a vehicle hurtling down a gravel road at 50 mph and then gauge how far 4 miles is.

The other thing was on this particular day we had just had a storm so the van was also pushing through drifts. The great thing about all-wheel drive is it plows throw snow taller than the vehicle’s bumper. Again probably kinda harrowing for the cat though. It’s amazing it made it.

Several Days Later
It’s about 10 am so I’m still at home (I said stop judging me!) and I get a call from Mike.

Mike “Uh … I think we have another cat in the gallery.”

Me …. …. …. (that’s the sound of me beating my head against a wall.)

UPDATE: We now park the van in the garage at the farm and will hopefully avoid this happening again. I know you’d think we’d do that anyway but so often a cat goes into the garage, but then refuses to come back out. So that brings it’s own set of problems. But so far … no more barn cats have had another big adventure.

UPDATED, Update: The second cat was Tortilena and she is quite tame. Well for me. With Mike she darted off and hid. But when I called she ran out all purring and stretching and so was a very easy catch. Whew!

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So I know it’s been like a week since I’ve posted. My hubby is upgrading our Linux at the gallery and since we use several operating systems it’s takes a while to get them all working together like a big happy family. (At the moment it’s more like me after an uncomfortable holiday dinner – just happy to be rid of them for awhile.) So until Mike is able to sweet talk them all into loving communication again, I am unable to access my photo editing, which means no updates on my painting. I promise just as soon as I can I’ll post it.

I have also been working on the next article for Apples ‘n Oats which has a looming deadline.

Um … no I have not painted any new horse paintings, and I’m thinking Carol (the editor of AnO) may notice if I try to squeeze a flamingo painting into the mix. But I thought I’d write about an older one. I mean it’s not like I can crank out a fresh painting in the next week or anything.

I know I know you’d think I may just try to work on this just a tad bit earlier before the deadline, but as is my usual optimism I thought I’d finish the flamingos with some time left for a new horse piece. (Yeah I know right? WHen will I ever learn … about myself.)

The other option was to pass on this issue but then I thought breaking a new years business resolution withing a few days of making it, represented some seriously bad juju.

So there you have it. It may be text only posts for the next few days but I have a barn kitty story for which I had no pics anyhow so I imagine it’ll be next.

It’s not like I can’t upload photos from the home computer it’s just really nice to have them all stored in one handy location.

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My third bird is not done, but she’s close. I’m struggling with the planes of her face a bit. So far the masking film is working pretty good. Actually it’s technically book cover film. My local hobby store was out of frisket film (which is rather spendy anyhow) but they did have this shoved in it’s slot. So for $5 I thought “why not” Turn out it works really well and a fraction of the cost.

Well perhaps I should reserve my judgement until I’ve finished the painting. But here they are so far.

How To Use Masking Film On Suede Tutorial On Squidoo

Since I’m using this painting as my example the tutorial is not yet complete. But it explains my process pretty clearly.

For anyone that’s interested Using Masking Film On Watercolor Pencil Paintings In Suede Board page 2</b of my Watercolor Pencil On Suede Board lens.

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Welcome to 2011!

Yup it’s a new start on a New Year. That time of year when folks make resolutions.

I’ve never really been one to do that for anything but my business. I mean really, here let me tell you about all the things that are wrong about me that need changing. Umm … no thanks. Not that I’m perfect, I just don’t feel the need at this time to spell it all out publicly. You know, perhaps supply some pie charts, bar graphs and tracking systems and … yeah okay, back to the topic at hand. So we’ll not call them business resolutions. No. We’ll call them … well it’s more like plans and goal setting than resolutions.

Last year Goals for 2010
* Increase gross sales by at least 10% Accomplished We had a good growth both on the net and gross.

* Write an article for every Apples ‘N Oats issue. Failed Yet Again

* Update my Inventory Paper work. Accomplished.

* Stretch my comfort zone. Mission Accomplished. I am now updating my website by myself as well as having learned all sorts of code writing and whatnot with squidoo.

* Create 20 new paintings. Doubtful. I’ll have to do a headcount. (dashes off to count paintings) back now … Um Failed. I did 10. That’s my usual and frankly most were large scale but sadly far far short of my goal.

* Continue to do 4 blog posts a week Hmmm not really accomplished but not really failed either. Actually surpassed this for most of the year but the last couple of months I fell behind.

* Create more Squidoo lenses. Mission Accomplished … and then some. I was shooting for 50 and I almost hit 100.

* Remember to take “me” time. Sometimes. Needs improvement.

Plans fo 2011 (wink, wink)
Um .. lets just copy and paste last years. They are still viable I think. Though on expanding my comfort zone I may need to look into facebook and perhaps even Zazzle.

I think also I’ll aim for 15 paintings. But now that I think it, 10 large scale piece could totally count as 20 smaller paintings. No?

Anybody got any resolutions (urm … plans) they want to share?

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I am using masking film for this piece and since this is a new process for me I am taking photos to add to my working watercolor pencils on suede squidoo tutorial. I thought I would document the steps for use since it certainly would have come in handy for me to have had a look see at something before starting this project. So far though the masking film is working like a charm. I’m being quite careful though only working left to right and only trimming away the film as I finish one bird and get ready to start the next.

The below photo is kinda hard to see but there is only a total of 5 birds. I spent three days drawing out 7 flamingos but in the end I really wanted to keep it a very simple, very strong graphic.

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