Welcome to Ardent Reflections Fine Art

Welcome to the blogging page of Ardent Reflections Fine Art.  This is where I will share my thoughts, works in progress, painting tutorials, drawing tips, art tutorials, diy decor ideas, and art marketing ideas.  I’ll also share links to paintings for sale, and occasionally have a “How to watercolor” post or something similar.
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  1. Thursday Thoughts – A Plan and a Painting

    • First a Painting From Chiropractor’s Wall to Collector’s Wall You might remember me telling about a painting that I reclaimed from my chiropractor’s office because I felt it wasn[...]
    • First a Painting

      From Chiropractor’s Wall to Collector’s Wall

      You might remember me telling about a painting that I reclaimed from my chiropractor’s office because I felt it wasn’t being displayed satisfactorily.  While I put it there in the hopes that someone waiting for massage or adjustment might see it and decide to buy it, it was never hung in a very visible place.  The place it was displayed was only being seen by people on their way for x-rays, which at a chiropractor’s office is usually only for your first visit.  Well, I reclaimed the painting and put it up in the studio where everyone who came in could see it, and it finally sold. Only it didn’t sell as a result of being seen in the studio.  It sold from my etsy shop to a collector in California.

      This was great encouragement for me, because while I’ve sold prints and T-shirts, cards, and hand painted glassware.  It has been a while since I sold an original painting, and it was making me wonder if it was ever going to happen again.

      Koi fish
      My Koi Pond is off to its new home.

      I just packaged this painting last night and got in the mail today, it should be arriving at its new home next week sometime.

       

      Next, a Plan

      Log it, track it, write it down and add it up.

      So, in my last post I shared about how I didn’t keep track of financials as they happened, and it is causing much delay in filing my business taxes.  Well, I am not making the same mistake in 2017, I am keeping a running ledger, so I will always know at a glance what shape I am in financially.

      While I don’t plan to make up for previous years’ losses, I don’t want losses in 2017.  So, unless the expense is unavoidable, like a bill that is due and can’t be delayed, I will not spend money on my art, or classes, or studio, unless I am in the black.  I have a pretty good start to 2017 already, January I came out $25 in the black, and now with a sale in February I am looking to probably ending February in the black too, by at least as much as January, so the two will accumulate to being at least $50 in the black for the year so far.

      Now of course if I am in the middle of a painting and need a certain color of paint I’ll probably buy it regardless of financials, but a lot of my spending in 2016 were not things I needed right then, a lot of it was because this store or that one was having a great deal on canvases or paints that would likely come in handy later.  Since I didn’t really know I was operating in the red, I went ahead and bought things that I didn’t even really need for a project right then.

      Well no more.  From now on if it is discretionary it will only be purchased if my art business is in the black by enough to cover it.  My goal for 2017 is to at least come out even financially in my art business.  Now, that might not seem like much of a financial plan, but its a start.  Sure it would be great to turn a nice profit, but I love doing art, and if all it does is pay for itself, I will be pretty satisfied.

      One good thing about all the supplies I purchased in 2016, I have plenty stashed up to start 2017 without spending much.  Yes, there may be an occasion here or there where I need something specific, but for the most part I have enough supplies to do almost any art project I might want to do.  If I buy anything at all in the coming year it would likely be paints as I run out.  I have canvases everywhere. I might have to buy more of the economy canvases for my classes at some point, but not right away, and as for the canvases for my personal use, I have more than I think I could possibly use in one year.

      So, I don’t think curtailing my spending is going to curtail my creating of art at all.

       

  2. Tips on Tuesday, Keep Track as You Go

    • Book keeping nightmare. I’m late filing my business taxes this year.  Why? Because I saved all the figuring until the end of the year.  I saved receipts to track expenses, but didn’t add t[...]
    • Book keeping nightmare.

      I’m late filing my business taxes this year.  Why? Because I saved all the figuring until the end of the year.  I saved receipts to track expenses, but didn’t add them up month to month.  That means I had to get them all added up in the month of January, with my husband’s help I managed.

      The Department of Revenue wants a lot of detail.

      Then there was income, some sales through etsy, some through the co-op, some independently, some parties/classes through the studio, some independently.  Etsy keeps a good record for me, the co-op told me how much I made through them, but didn’t divide it into sales and classes, which I need to know apparently.  The wonderful bookkeeper  for the co-op is looking into it for me, and soon I’ll know what I need to know.  You see, every painting I make and sale has to be reported as “manufactured goods”, every sale I make through etsy or independently has to be reported as “retail sales”, every sale I make through another entity such as a consignment shop or co-op, my share of that income gets reported as “wholesale”. On top of that I need to know which of the sales I made myself apart from the co-op were made locally or out of state, through etsy.

      This isn’t for income taxes, this is to pay the sales tax on the items I sold at retail in state, and the Business and Occupations tax, and the out of state sales have to kept track of separately in order to not be charged sales tax on them.  Income taxes will be another monster to tackle down the road, but getting the report on taxable income from this first business filing is necessary in order to file my income taxes.

       

      A Ledger would have let me know what I could afford.

      Another thing that keeping track as I go would have told me is that I was spending too much.  I thought maybe I had actually shown a profit this year, but I didn’t.  I spent far too much on supplies.  Now, a lot of those supplies are still usable this year, so maybe next time around I’ll see a profit… but if I started keeping track month to month, I could try to make sure that there was a balance happening, and curtail spending when a profit wasn’t likely.

      So that is my tip for this Tuesday, keep a ledger as you go!

       

  3. Friday Feature – Free Starry Night Over Seattle

    • Its time for a Friday Feature on this blog, those are the posts where I Feature something of my choice on my blog. Sometimes the feature might be one of paintings I want to draw attention to, other ti[...]
    • Its time for a Friday Feature on this blog, those are the posts where I Feature something of my choice on my blog. Sometimes the feature might be one of paintings I want to draw attention to, other times it might be a fellow artist that I want to give a shout out to, a guest blogger, or a great YouTube video I find.  Basically, whatever I want to put in the spotlight on that particular Friday.  This Friday, I am featuring a giveaway.

      Win a Free Print of Starry Night Over Seattle

      One of the most popular painting is Starry Night Over Seattle.  Originally, I was painting this for myself, but I posted some work in progress photos on social media and right away I got offers.  I sold that one before it was even finished, and someone asked me to paint another.  I wanted to change it up a little, so I made some minor changes and additions, and did a second version.  I still didn’t have one for myself, and I still don’t, but I do have prints.  The prints of this painting have sold better than any of my others have.

      For the month of February you have a chance to win a print of this painting.  To enter the drawing all you have to do is subscribe to this blog and then comment on this post telling me to enter you into the contest. That’s all there is to it.  I will put all of the entries in a hat, draw one out, and that reader wins an 8×10 print of this painting, you can choose whether you want the print to be signed or unsigned, or alternately, if you don’t want the 8×10 print, you can request a blank-inside greeting card with this image on it.

      Enter to win a free print of Starry Night Over Seattle Click To Tweet

      I’ll repeat those steps here, there’s just two steps.

      1. Subscribe to posts from this blog.
      2. Leave a comment on this post saying, “Enter me in the drawing.”
      You could win a print of this painting! To enter the contest, just subscribe to this blog, and leave a comment on this post saying, “Enter me in the drawing”.
  4. Cartoon Faces-Way Back Wednesday

    • Art from High School The best art class I ever had was in Junior High School, in that class the teacher actually taught us to draw.  However, in my High School art class we were given assignments with[...]
    • Art from High School

      The best art class I ever had was in Junior High School, in that class the teacher actually taught us to draw.  However, in my High School art class we were given assignments with very little instruction, and we completed the assignments independently, mine was a continuation school, basically a last ditch effort to get troubled kids a diploma, so I don’t think excellence in art instruction was a priority, rather we were there to do our time and get our elective credit.  There were a few students that the teacher took under her wing and gave more instruction to, but I wasn’t one of them.

      One of the assignments I was given was on cartooning, we were given a chart of all kinds of different facial features for cartoon characters, and we could put them together to make our own characters.  We were also free to invent our own features.  We were told to complete six characters. I based the first four on people I knew, most of them were people I knew from outside of school.

      cartoon faces
      These were my six characters, I based the first four on people I knew. Ignore the brown spots all over, I don’t know what it is, but it is on a lot of my old art.

       

      Be sure to check in Friday for information about February’s giveaway drawing.

  5. I Won’t Disappear! I Promise!

    • The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won’t Disappear This is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve managed to blog on this site every day during the challenge. I’[...]
    • The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won’t Disappear

      This is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I’ve managed to blog on this site every day during the challenge. I’ve taken part in this challenge before, but I think this is the first time I actually wrote a post every single day, and in the past I’ve had a tendency to vanish once it was done, to stop blogging, or do so only sporadically.  I am not going to let that happen this time. I have a plan.

      The Ultimate Blog Challenge is Ending, But I won't Disappear Click To Tweet
      Bullet Journal Calendar View Februrary
      I still have more events to add to this calendar, but for now it tells me when to post on each blog, which days nothing is auto renewing on Etsy (indicated by the letters “NAR”), which days I have painting classes scheduled (Saturday Slams), which days I work a regular shift in the studio, which days I do a complete reset in the studio, various committee meetings, the days I clean houses, and Birthdays. I also have the first week of my dog walking job scheduled, and will write in the rest week by week, and I’ll write in the Art Slam board meeting also, once I verify the time.

      I have blogging Schedule

      I’ve been reading a lot about how to get more visibility to your blog, and believe it or not, from what I’ve read, it is good to give each post a day or two to sit, and gather more views and comments before posting again, this also gives the blogger a chance to enjoy reading and commenting on other blogs.  However, it should only be a day or two, or at most three days between posts, longer than that and people assume you’ve dropped off the planet.

      I also have three blogs that I would like to maintain, though I actually do have more blogs, the time for posting on some of those blogs is past. I no longer have really young children, so the “mommy blog” I used to keep is pretty much over, other blogs I just didn’t care for the hosting site or whatever, but currently I have three that I really would like to maintain.  My Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog, My Devotional Blog, and My Art Blog (the one you are reading).

      I decided that the ideal way for me to blog would be come up with a schedule for each blog, so that I am not trying to post on all three every day.  The Weight Loss and Lifestyle Blog needs to have at least one post every week, on the day that I weigh myself, which is Monday, so while it is okay for me to post more often if I want, I scheduled that blog for every Monday.  I decided to take Sunday off of blogging, though I might do some planning and blog reading that day. So with Sunday and Monday off the table for the other two blogs, that left me five days each week to write the other two blogs.  I decided to alternate, so one week the art blog would be Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and the Devotional Blog would be Wednesday and Friday, and then the next week they switch, so that the Art Blog is Wednesday and Friday, and the Devotional Blog Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I put all of this information into my bullet journal calendar pages for the month of February.  After February is done I’ll evaluate and see if I need  to make adjustments.  The devotional blog may be difficult to post on that often, because I have to prepare and study quite a bit for each post, so if it proves too much I might end up picking one day a week to post on that and post on my Weight Loss and lifestyle blog more often.

      I also have an Etsy schedule.

      Along with all of this blogging information, my work schedule, doctors appointments, birthday’s, etc. my bullet journal has my etsy posting schedule for February, which is basically a list of dates that nothing auto renews, so if I have new listings to post, I should do it on those days.  And I do have new things to post! A lot of them.  I will need to really get busy creating those listings, each one needs several photographs, plus key words selected, and a matching listing on this website needs to be made as well, so each listing ends up taking 1-2 hours to create.

       

      Ultimate Blog Challenge Results

      I thought I’d also show the results as far as my site stats go, for this Ultimate Blog Challenge.

      This shows my stats by week from sometime in July until today. I believe the spike in July is from the last UBC
      This shows my stats by week from sometime in July until today. I believe the spike in July is from the last UBC I took part in. You can see that the increased views continued for a while after the challenge ended, even though my posting dropped off. This time I’ll keep posting, and we’ll see if the increased views continue longer.
      This Shows my stats (views) by month, from around the time I started my blogs, you can see noticeable spikes with each UBC I took part in, most of that is probably due to other UBC participants viewing my blog, but at least part is probably organic views simply because I post more regularly.
      This Shows my stats (views) by month, from around the time I started my blogs, you can see noticeable spikes with each UBC I took part in, most of that is probably due to other UBC participants viewing my blog, but at least part is probably organic views simply because I post more regularly.
      This shows my top posts and pages during January's UBC. I had to cut off over half the results on the lower portion of the screen capture.
      This shows my top posts and pages during January’s UBC. I had to cut off over half the results on the lower portion of the screen capture.
      This shows my top posts and pages of all time. Lower portion of the results is cut off.
      This shows my top posts and pages of all time. Lower portion of the results is cut off.

      In addition to those charts, I can say that during the challenge I’ve had an average of 1.92 comments per day, not counting my own replies.

       

  6. Nurturing Motivation as an Artist

    • Staying Motivated as an artist   The Ultimate Blog Challenge is almost over, just today and tomorrow left.   Today’s suggestion was to talk about how we stayed determined and motivated. For[...]
    • Staying Motivated as an artist

       

      The Ultimate Blog Challenge is almost over, just today and tomorrow left.   Today’s suggestion was to talk about how we stayed determined and motivated. For me, as far as the challenge goes, knowing that I haven’t missed a day keeps me motivated to keep that record.  However, there are other areas that I have to stay motivated for as well.  Such as to continue putting my art out there, hoping that someone will like it enough to purchase it.

      Its easy to get discouraged.

      It is easy to get discouraged as an artist, especially when you offer to give your work away and no one takes you up on it, such as happened with my give away drawing this past month. Its pretty tempting to be discouraged, kind of like Marlin was in Disney’s Finding Nemo, becoming a “Mr. Grumpy Gills”.

      Clown Fish.
      Don’t let setbacks turn you into a pessimist like Disney’s Marlin.

      Truth is, even though no one wanted that print, I know that people have wanted it in the past and have even paid full price plus shipping for it.  So rather than get discouraged about not being able to give my art away this month, I’m looking ahead now, and I’ll try to think of a good February give away that people might be more responsive to.  I have to…

      Just keep swimming

      Blue tang fish, Even when you don't feel it, Just Keep Swimming, the feelings will catch up.
      Even when you don’t feel it, Just Keep Swimming, the feelings will catch up.

      Sometimes I feel very motivated to continue putting my art out there.  Other times I don’t feel it all.  The key though to staying motivated for me is to just keep moving forward no matter how I feel.  Like my favorite little Disney fish Dory, sometimes you have to just keep swimming even when you don’t feel like it, and eventually the feeling with return.

      That’s all I really have for today.  What do you do to stay motivated?

       

  7. A Great Site for Artist Reference Photos

    • Sometimes artists need a reference to look at. Real life is the best kind of reference. If I’m painting an abstract or whimsical impression of a subject, I might night need a reference at all.  [...]
    • Sometimes artists need a reference to look at.

      Real life is the best kind of reference.

      If I’m painting an abstract or whimsical impression of a subject, I might night need a reference at all.  However, if I am wanting to even approach realism, I need some kind of reference to look at.  In an ideal world, I would have real life references of everything I wanted to paint, so that I could actually look at the real item and always draw or paint from life.

      Real life, on scene references are the best! plein air painting,
      Real life, on scene references are the best!

      Photographs are petty good references too.

      The real world though, is far from ideal, and reality doesn’t always allow me easy access to subjects such as the Eiffel Tower, or a live bald eagle, or a lion.  In the case of the animals, even if I did have access to a live specimen of every species on the planet, they wouldn’t be likely to strike a pose and sit still for me while I drew or painted them.  This is where a photograph can really be an asset.  Photographs exist of almost every subject on the planet, and even some off the planet. Even fantastical creatures of myth and science fictions are based on real world creatures. Photographs don’t move, you can zoom in to see details, you can convert them to black and white, boost the contrast, or darken the shadows in order to see the values and shading better. Photographs can really be invaluable, and an artist doesn’t necessarily copy the whole photograph either, an artist might paint a landscape from life, but put in a deer or other animal from a photograph, only using the photograph to reference the correct proportions, makings, and colors of the animal.

      Sometimes, a photograph can be ideal references to paint from also!
      Sometimes, a photograph can be ideal references to paint from also!

      Photographs are not always available for use.

      The main drawback of photographs is that they are often works of art in themselves, and as such are automatically protected by copyright.  You see, an artist or photographer doesn’t have to do anything to own the copyright to their work, they own that copyright automatically.  In order to not own the copyright, the photographer or artist has to take action to release the copyright they automatically own. As an artist, I respect other artists and their work, and don’t wish to violate their rights to their work. I also don’t want any legal trouble that would come from using a photograph illegally. Many artists use photo references all the time and don’t worry about copyright because they figure that in making it into a painting or drawing they are transforming the original into something new, and there is no way a court would hold them guilty.  Courts though have been very inconsistent with rulings regarding copyright, sometimes coming after someone for  something that simply vaguely resembled another artists work, and other times allowing people to blatantly steal other people’s photos off of Instagram, apply a little editing, and call it their own artwork.  Who is to say how a court would rule if someone decided to sue a painter for using their photograph? I don’t think it is worth the risk though.

      A photograph isn't worth the risk of legal trouble!
      A photograph isn’t worth the risk of legal trouble!

      Some photographers are very generous though.

      Thankfully, there are some photographers out there who are generous with their photos.  They actually take the steps necessary to give permission, in advance, to whoever wants to use their photographs.  Sometimes they will put some conditions, such as saying that you can’t use the photo in a stand alone basis (you can just make prints on canvas or paper and sell the photo exactly as is), some say that you need to give attribution, which basically means to give them credit. There are all different levels of license and release available, from no attribution and no restrictions at all, up to only being able to use a photo for non-commercial use and only if you also share your version under the same license. Some of the licenses allow you to then change the license type on your adaptation, and others require that you share alike. For more information about the various levels of license, check out the Creative Commons Licenses.  Of course the best licenses for other creatives are the ones that are completely released, without condition, otherwise known as released to the public domain.  Because a painter can use them for a reference, and still claim copyright to his painting, or a book publisher can use the photo in a book and still copyright the book.

      Some very talented photographers, are willing to share their work with other creatives.
      Some very talented photographers, are willing to share their work with other creatives.

      So where do you find these public domain photos?

      There are several sites where you can find Public Domain photos.  Wikimedia has a lot, but they also have a lot that are not public domain, so make sure to check out the licenses attached to each one.  Morguefile.com is a photo sharing site where you usually are only asked to give attribution for a photo. The best site I’ve found so far though is Pixabay, with hundreds of thousands of images you can use however you want, for free.  The only caution I have to give about Pixabay is that whenever you search a subject, the first row of photos will say, “Sponsored images”, those are not free, they are stock photos being advertised for sale, the free images come below the sponsored ones.  When you click on a free image, it will open up and show you different free download options, from original high resolution, to website friendly, lower resolution, smaller file size, and various increments in between. Download what you need and then you can post it, publish it, transform it, paint from it, to your heart’s content.

      Pixabay is a great resource of free to use reference photos for artists Click To Tweet
      Pixabay is a great resource of free to use reference photos for artists, and even stand alone photos for publications and websites.
      Pixabay is a great resource of free to use reference photos for artists, and even stand alone photos for publications and websites.

      And we aren’t talking poor quality photos that photographers just couldn’t use for anything else either.  Some are great, artistic quality images.  Some are drawings, some are vectors.  All of the photos used in this blog post came from Pixabay.

       

      Pixabay has a huge variety of subjects, like this mandarinfish.
      Pixabay has a huge variety of subjects, like this mandarinfish.

       

       

  8. Is Graffiti Art Or Vandalism?

    • The ultimate blog challenge today recommended going to http://ezinearticles.com and using one their articles to republish on your blog.  This worked fine for me today since I had a very busy day with[...]
    • The ultimate blog challenge today recommended going to http://ezinearticles.com and using one their articles to republish on your blog.  This worked fine for me today since I had a very busy day with helping my daughter move and then going to a memorial for my uncle, and didn’t really have enough time to write something myself.  The following article is the work of Mike D Johnson I, and is printed unchanged from its original form on http://ezinearticles.com.

      graffiti, street art, Is this art, or is this vandalism? Is it both?
      Is this art, or is this vandalism? Is it both?

      Is Graffiti Art Or Vandalism?

      Recommend Article Article Comments Print ArticleShare this article on Pinterest

      The question of whether graffiti is art or vandalism is one I see often, and usually from students working on school reports… and have fairly strong opinions about. This is really a two part question: Part 1. Is Graffiti Art? and Part 2. Is Graffiti Vandalism?

      Part 1 – Is Graffiti Art?

      I think it’s first important to understand that “art” itself is tough to define. But if you move past formal definitions, art is typically an expression of oneself or a message that an artist is trying to give to the viewer… and it may or may not appeal to other people. Others think art is perhaps an expression of the artist using colors, textures, sounds, etc. to convey the message. Let’s look at a few of pieces of well known art.

      1. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo DaVinci. It is painted on a piece of wood and is framed. Why is this art? Shading, the depth, the landscape, the enigmatic smile, etc. Would this be art if it were painted on a brick wall on a side street in Italy? Of course. What makes it art is the picture, not the medium.
      2. Guernica by Pablo Picasso. This may be Picasso’s most well known piece of art. Painted mural size on a piece of canvas. Of course, this is art. Would it be art if Picasso painted directly on a wall on the side of a street? Yes. What if he did it without permission? Still art… but illegally painted. You like it?… well it doesn’t matter if you do or not, it’s still art.
      3. Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michangelo. It’s art and it’s on a ceiling.

      Graffiti art is a style of art. It “fits” the bill to be defined as such and often expresses a very distinct message from the artist (as an example, check out the political messages of Banksy ). Artwork that is painted in this style is absolutely considered art. It can be painted on wood, on canvas, on ceilings, on brick walls, on sidewalks, etc. It is still art regardless of the medium.

      Part 2 – Is Graffiti Vandalism?

      If the street art (graffiti) is painted legally, meaning on property owned by the artist or with permission from the owner, then it is legal street art.

      If the street art is painted illegally, meaning on property not owned by the artist, and without permission, then it is still art… but the artist has committed the crime of vandalism.

      So, if DaVinci, Picasso, and Michaelangelo were hanging out on 115th Street one Tuesday night and throw up the Mona Lisa, the Guernica, and the Sistine Chapel art work on the side of a laundromat… It is art. But it’s also vandalism. It can be both… it is not an “either / or” question.

      Hope this helps you guys if you’re doing a report on “Graffiti Art or Vandalism” or “Is It Street Art or Vandalism”.

      This article was written by Mike Johnson of BuyGraffiti.net blog . For unique and interesting pieces of original Graffiti Art for sale that can provide an exciting urban image to your home or business, please visit BuyGraffiti.net and support Graffiti Art

      Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Mike_D_Johnson_I/836689

  9. Mystical Mountains, My New Class Painting

    • A New Asian Style Painting Today I spent the day in the studio, and worked on a new sample painting for my classes.  I was really pleased with the results, it is a series of mountains in the mist in t[...]
    • A New Asian Style Painting

      Today I spent the day in the studio, and worked on a new sample painting for my classes.  I was really pleased with the results, it is a series of mountains in the mist in the background, a branch of cherry blossoms overhanging the top corner, and some silhouetted foreground bushes in front of a silhouetted Asian styled building, that resembles a Buddhist temple.  When I showed the painting to the Studio manager, she helped me come up with the title “Mystical Mountains”.  One of the other artists at the studio has told me she wants first dibs at buying the painting, so once I figure out how much I am going to charge for it, I just might already have a sale.

      Of course, I can’t tell you all about my painting and not show it to you. The following photo was just taken with my phone, so its not really the best quality, but it still gives a pretty good idea what the painting looks like.

      The painting I'll demonstrate for my next painting class. Buddhist temple, misty mountains, cherry blossoms, sakura
      The painting I’ll demonstrate for my next painting class.