Artwork up for sale through my website!

It’s taken me a while to get the the site updated, but there are now two categories of my artwork with paintings for sale on my website! These two categories – landscapes and still-lifes have the most paintings in my current inventory, but I will be adding other work soon.

I will also be adding examples of portraits and pet portraits, which can be commissioned and painted from a photo. I have some photos of my dogs here at home that I’ve been itching to paint.

Please check out the new artwork! Everybody should have something beautiful in their life.

 
 
 
 
 

Tool for donating for emergency relief – Charity Navigator

After the terrible earthquake that rocked Haiti, my husband and I wanted to make a donation to help those in need. While I am not a superstar donor, I have tried over the last few years to give in some form several times a year. I’ve been donating blood for the last couple of years, and now that I can make my own work hours I have done three donations in a row as soon as I was eligible (just about every two months) through the American Red Cross. I try to go through my closet regularly and pare down usable items I no longer need to give to the Salvation Army. At my local Hannaford they make care packages of food at the holidays which I was able to purchase and donate with my regular groceries, and I am working with a family member in creating artwork for Olivia’s Heart Fund.

These donations are local, and the charities and businesses that are involved make it easy to participate in a very direct way. But for the larger charities and relief aid for tragic events around the globe are a step removed, and the number of charities that are asking for donations are overwhelming. I am on the email list for Mercy Corps and The American Red Cross, but I want my money to make the highest possible impact since I can choose who I will participate with in helping the cause of Haiti and others. So I want to share another great resource, Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator is a website that analyzes the data for charities so that you can get a better idea of where that donation you make is actually going. Right on the home page is information about aid for Haiti, and a link to a page of charities participating in the relief effort.

I can easily choose a charity that I know will be legitimate, and get a synopsis of the type of aid they will be supplying. Because the financial data on these charities has already been evaluated, I can see a star rating (out of four stars) of their level of efficiency.

Now as much as I love both Mercy Corps and the Red Cross, I see that right now they each have a three-star rating, and there are quite a few other charities that are rated higher. I followed the links to a few, and chose Americares and Oxfam to add to my charities (have to log in to a free account for this feature).

On the “my charities” page, I can check off several charities and compare statistics. I love this feature – now I can see in detail where they spend their donations.

If you want to make a donation to help those who have been devastated by the earthquake, or any other cause, I’d recommend that you check out the Charity Navigator website. It’s good to know who is legit, and get a better picture of where your donation is going, so that it can have the greatest impact.

Some handy website resources

I have attended a couple of art group meetings recently where the use of website tracking utilities has come up in the conversation. For artists that have a blog or portfolio online, there are some free tools available to promote your work, and track the visitors to your websites. Here are a few of the tools that I have used and find helpful.
Google has added profiles to their generous list of online applications. You can create a web profile that you want the world to see. If you are a creative and someone Googles your name, there may be some listings that come up, but maybe not all of the work you really want to display. By creating a Google profile you can expand on those links with exactly the content you want people to see. You can list your work history, a bio, your location and websites, attach picasa or web photo albums and more. It’s a great way to be found on the web. Here’s an example with my Google profile
Statcounter is a free website that allows you to insert an html tag into your blog/website. You can create multiple projects (one for each website) and monitor who visits your site, the path that got them there, the visitor’s location, how long they visited each page, keywords used to find your site and more. Now I know that a couple of people actually read my blog, and see that they mostly visit from facebook, etc. Very handy.

 


Google analytics is another free tool that has the same capabilities. I use that for my blog and it’s got a lot of bells and whistles, but I find statcounter more intuitive for me. Statcounter will only show the 500 most recent records though, and I believe GA has no limits. Google’s tool seems to be more about analyzing trends rather than drilling down to unique visitor information.


Google also has some webmaster tools that will crawl your website and report back how many pages on the web are linked to your site pages, and give you a site map indicating all your website pages and how they are linked. There are lots of help links to show you about search engine optimization, etc. if you want to really dig into that info.


Compete.com is a website that compares estimates of user data from the top 1,000,000 consumer websites. While many of the features of compete require a subscription, and are targeted at businesses, I found that the free comparisons of several websites to be of benefit to my fine art career. I was able to compare traffic between etsy.com and artfire.com to see which site had more traffic, and determine where I would like to sell my art online.  I could make similar comparisons of print-on-demand websites, etc. You can compare up to three websites at a time for different time periods.

New Beginnings

So a while back I posted my feelings about my day job and its effect on my happiness. Since then I came to a decision to make change in my life and become the person I really want to be. I want to be someone who spends more time creating artwork and working on projects that are meaningful and/or of interest to me. I want to be less cranky and more graceful about the ups and downs of life.

So how do you go about changing your life? For me, I had to let go of some things that confused my life path. Believing that I should value myself by the salary I earned or the title I achieved was a problem. Driving nearly an hour to and from work was frustrating and sucked up a lot of my free time and energy. Watching people I cared about, trained, and built loyal business relationships with get fired or leave my company, one after another was demoralizing.
So I decided to start over.
I am very lucky to be married to an understanding man, and in a position to be a little flexible with finances. Together we agreed that I would be able to leave my job and focus more on the fine art work that I really wanted to create. I would also take on freelance multimedia projects to supplement our income, and start working towards more rewarding projects with our company Pixel-Artistry. We have created some screensavers and multimedia together in the past, but generally time constraints prohibit us from doing this very often. I have so many ideas for media projects in my head, and now I can make some of them a reality.
It’s already been about three weeks since I left the day job to work on my own. It’s been busier than I thought it would be. Because of leads from some wonderful friends, I have had a couple of paid projects to work on, and some decent communication about future ones. I attended a fantastic workshop with Annie Silverman at my alma mater MassArt on course design, and am writing a course description that I hope will lead me to some work as a teacher for summer of 2010. I have been doing more painting, and have joined a women’s creative group in Providence where I can connect with new people and attend more art events. I have also been brainstorming a special art project involving a family member’s charity for children afflicted with heart defects. This is a long-term project that I will write more about later – it deserves its own post, and I would like to blog about the process as it develops.
There’s so much more to accomplish! But I am so very, very fortunate to be able to work like this. I am feeling happier, more at ease with my daily routine, and that I am on the right path to the future I want. I will have to give up some things to keep my life more cost effective, but the tradeoff is so worth it. I’m home with my husband and our animals, I am more engaged in artwork and the artistic community, I’m meeting and working with new and exciting people, and I laugh more. It’s wonderful.
So I’ll do my best to increase my posts and show some of the art I am creating. Here’s to new beginnings!

A night out at Waterfire, Providence

Waterfire, Providence

A few weeks ago my husband and I met up with some friends for dinner in Providence. Both Brian and I used to live in Rhode Island, and I love being back there. There’s such a wonderful artist community, with support for the arts through galleries, theatre, festivals, and events such as Waterfire. The Waterfire phenomenon began as an installation that really took on a life of its own, and now runs bi-weekly (and sometimes more often with partial lightings, depending on sponsorship) from spring through fall.

Fires in the basin

From the Waterfire website:

Barnaby Evans created First Fire in 1994 as a commission to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. In June 1996, Evans created Second Fire for the International Sculpture Conference where it became the gathering place
for thousands of participants from all over the world. Ardent art supporters convinced Evans to create an on-going fire installation and started a grass-roots effort to establish WaterFire as a non-profit arts organization.
With the support of hundreds of dedicated volunteers, a hard working staff, generous donations from visitors, contributions from corporate leaders and support from the City and State, WaterFire’s bright flames now regularly return to illuminate downtown Providence.

If you’ve never been to Waterfire, and you live in the Rhode Island area, I’d recommend you make the time to see it for yourself. The waterfront is alive with people, atmospheric music is played on speakers throughout the installation, and the sound and smell of the burning wood permeate the air. Watching the volunteers stoke the fires with fresh timber is a treat – we stopped to watch their progress down the river, dressed in black and silent as they worked. There is always interesting performance art in addition to the fires – I’ve seen fire dancers, living statues, musicians and singers – the week we were there was a celebration of opera. We caught several performances on stage.

Starry starry night in Memorial park

A new installation that I participated in is Starry Starry Night in Memorial Park. A hundred illuminated paper stars hang from the trees, casting a blue glow in the park. Brian and I purchased a star package to support Waterfire. I received a ribbon on which to write a wish, which was attatched to a star, and then hung in a place of my choice in the park. I also was given two luminaries and cards to write dedications, and a star to bring home with me. For my wish, I added the intention to find the path I am meant for – I’ve been feeling that I have missed my mark lately, and need some guidance in that respect. For the luminaries, I dedicated one to my husband, who is incredibly supportive and inspiring to me, and one to a dear friend who is suffering through a divorce – wishing him peace through a difficult time.

Looking out over the lights in the park, I was feeling truly connected to the community at Waterfire. It was so moving, and just a lovely experience.

There is one more Waterfire scheduled for October. It’s always a busy month, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it back, but with luck I’ll be able to sneak out there for a little while.

My Etsy store is open!

I finally got my Etsy store open, and have some work available for purchase there. I have lots of pieces that I want to add soon, but I’m glad to have a decent start.

For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy, it is a website of hand-made items for sale by numerous artisans. Think Ebay for artists and crafters. Etsy also allows the sale of materials for crafts and vintage items.

My store’s name is LisasArtwork, and I will be adding some pastel, acrylic and mixed-media work as I can. Mostly I was unsure how to handle postage and shipping of the artwork safely, so I took some time to browse other Etsy shops for policies and shipping information. Etsy also has a nice blog full of info on getting your store up and running, which was very helpful.

To make things a little easier, I am offering free shipping of my artwork to addresses in the US and Canada. As things progress with the store, I may post separate shipping charges, but thought that might be a little more streamlined for now.

So feel free to browse my shop! I’ll be adding more items soon, as well as creating some artwork for local fairs for the holiday season.

Happiness

I’ve been doing some heavy thinking about happiness lately. You see I am somewhat successful at a day job where I am in a position of authority – an Art Director at a multimedia company, and I create some pretty cool stuff. I’m not even lying when I say that I’m good at what I do.

I’m one of those people you probably knew and despised in grade school. I loved to learn and work hard and prove it to the teachers. I thought that my value as a human being was based on how I performed and wanted tangible grades to show that I was Good Enough even if I was just a girl with artistic talent. I knew I wanted to be an artist but always felt that I had to show I was smart too.
So I started out as an illustrator, but quickly moved into animation and digital art, then multimedia and Actionscript programming. I love the way you can plan and create and make something start to finish that is both beautiful and functional. There’s so much about Flash development that is satisfying – it’s challenging and it blends an artistic sense with practical knowledge and usability. It allows me to use both parts of my brain. Awesome.
But there’s all the other stuff that comes with the day job. You will have to compromise yourself and work past your disagreements and you won’t always get satisfaction from this job no matter how hard you work. You can really burn out if this job is diametrically opposed to your core beliefs and needs.
I think one problem for me is that for years I have invested myself personally in the job I have been doing. Not just in that I want to be there fully and do great work, but that I am expecting a sense of fulfillment creatively from these projects. And maybe that’s asking too much from the day job. There’s a whole life full of things I want to experience. Over time I’ve become a person who values people and relationships, art and music, freedom and time to myself, being with friends and family well over that accomplishment from the day job. I don’t think I ever really valued the day job more than these things, but have become more honest with myself about how much I want them, and how pursuing career benchmarks distract me from what brings me happiness.
I have been in a state of self-examination for quite a while, during which I’ve been practicing more fine art. It’s very, very hard to separate my value (perceived value) from how much I make and my title at the day job. But I know that there’s other aspects of my life that make me happy. That I want to focus on and enjoy while I’m here.
Penelope Trunk has a great blog on career advice, and I recently found this post on building a career as an artist. It’s a bit of tough love on being an artist in general, but I really identify with her thoughts on work/life balance. If I’m lucky enough to create a name for myself as an artist, I’ll feel much more freedom in my life in general. But if I do need to balance the fine art with the day job, I will not look for the job to provide my happiness. I’m looking for ways to open my life up to the joys of friends and family and taking time for the arts. This will mean valuing myself for the other things I am good at. Loving people. Being compassionate. Laughing and being silly with my husband. My goofball self-depreciating humor. Being this crazy person is more important than how many hours I spend at work. I don’t want to wake up panicked in the middle of the night thinking I haven’t lived my life the way I should have.