I am once again taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means that for the month of April I will be blogging each day. However, not all my blog posts will be on this blog. I have a few different blogs, and I will alternate between them. So you can expect a post on this particular blog every three days.
Here are the three blogs I will be posting on during this challenge.
I have one blog that is primarily about my efforts to lose weight and get healthier, but I also post personal, daily life things there from time to time. My Health and Personal blog can be found thriceblessed-lessofme.blogspot.com/
In other news, during the last ultimate blog challenge, I ran a contest giving away a print of Starry Night Over Seattle, there was a winner to that contest! The blogger who goes by the name of vidyatiru won this contest, but needs to give me information on where to ship the print.
A while back, I posted details about my well laid blogging plans, how I would follow a schedule and blog regularly from here on out. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans… they go awry.
Bumps in the road.
So, my well laid plans for blogging hit some bumps in the road a few weeks back. First, I experienced a few days without internet access, and after that, I was caught in a procrastination loop, finally I was delayed even more from blogging because of a wonderful blessing to my family.
So first, the internet problem. I have absolutely no idea what caused it, but I was without internet at my house for several days just after my last blog post. When it finally started working again, I found myself caught in that procrastination loop.
What is a procrastination loop, you ask?
Its when you know that you really should something you dread before you do something else that is optional, but that you want to do. So you tell yourself you will not do that optional thing until you do the dreaded thing, but then you procrastinating the dreaded thing, and therefore don’t get either thing done. For me the loop I was caught in revolved around taxes.
For a business owner in Washington state, there are two different major categories of tax to be concerned with. The first is the excise taxes for businesses. This is a catchall phrase that encompasses the sales tax you collect from people when your business sells things at retail, plus the use taxes that are levied against out of state sales, plus the business and occupations taxes that are collected by your state and some counties. After the excise taxes, comes the income tax, which is the same income tax that everyone pays, the only difference for business owners is that we can deduct business expenses from our income total, which of course is only fair, since if I spend $50 manufacturing something, and then sell it for $70, I shouldn’t have to pay income tax on $70, but only on my profit of $20.
The procrastination loop I spent time spinning around in was my excise taxes for business. I knew I needed to get those forms filed, but I was dragging my feet on all of the calculations I needed to do. The forms should have been in my January 30th, but circumstances I couldn’t change had delayed them until after that date. That meant I was already going to be fined 9%, the next deadline was February 28th, after which the penalty jumped to 19%. I told myself that I shouldn’t spend time blogging until after I completed the forms, but kept on putting off the paperwork. The deadline I was now facing was February 28th, so obviously I did NOTHING until February 28th, and then spent several hours that day online and on the phone with the department of revenue completing my online forms.
Finally the forms were done, and my family could file the income tax forms next. Those were done within days, since we actually pay someone to prepare those for us.
Then the waiting..
So, by March 2nd, I really was free to go ahead and blog, but I was out of the habit, not only that, but I was very distracted by waiting for a blessing I knew would come any day. That blessing was my first grandson, who, like my tax forms, was due on February 28th.
Each day the whole family waited, expecting a call that it was time, and each day as we went to bed we were still waiting.
The Blessing on its Way
Finally, of March 6th, early in the morning the call came. I went to my daughter’s house to pick up my granddaughter, so that my daughter and son in law could focus on getting my daughter through early labor at home, without having to worry about taking care of their first child.
My grandson was on his way, but there were more bumps in road also.
My daughter’s labor was pretty normal at first, though it was a bit inconsistent. Her contractions weren’t following a regular pattern, so they stayed home timing them and waiting.
Then around 1:30 in the afternoon, her water broke so they headed to the hospital. After her water broke labor got very intense very fast, she was contracting with barely a break in between, and the contractions were very strong.
As soon as they got to hospital, the doctors realized that baby wasn’t handling these intense contractions well. My daughter was dilated to a 6 when she arrived, and had managed to progress almost to an eight, but still not enough to start pushing. Yet with every contraction the baby’s heart beat dropped drastically. The doctors felt that if they waited, the baby not might survive. So they took my daughter in for an emergency c-section. I arrived at the hospital just in enough time to see my daughter rushed by on a gurney. Now, the hospital we were at normally leaves a woman in the same room for the entire labor and delivery, so the fact that they were moving her was an obvious sign of trouble, but at that time I didn’t know what the trouble was, I did deduce that she was probably having a c-section, but didn’t get confirmation on that until my son-in-law came by all gowned up. I asked him what was up and he gave a quick summary before rushing off.
The Blessing Arrives.
A few minutes later, the baby was out, and thankfully was fine. The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his shoulder, and was both holding him back, keeping him from descending and pushing against the cervix, and at the same time the cord was being pinched between the baby’s shoulder and the pelvic bones with every contraction. Later the doctor confirmed that without a c-section a live birth wouldn’t have happened.
I am so thankful that we live in a day and age where the medical technology exists that can avert such tragedy. Because of the access we had to medical care, my daughter and my grandson are both healthy and doing great. Because we have access to this kind of medicine, what could have been a disaster turned into a minor bump in the road to great blessing.
I am so thankful.
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.
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.
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.
The suggested topic for Day 2 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge was to write-up a FAQ (frequently asked questions) post. Honestly, I haven’t been asked many questions on this site, so if I’m honest the best I could do would be “SAQ” (seldom asked questions) post, or perhaps even a “NAQ” (not asked questions) post. So I decided that I will just post a list of questions someone might have for an artist, and do my best to answer them.
My Questions and Answers
Q. Why do you make art? What motivates you to do what you do?
A. I make art because I need to. That may not be a very specific answer, but it is true. I find that it essential to me to create. If I wasn’t doing art I am sure that I would have create in some other way. I’ve always created in some way. Sometimes through art, sometimes through writing, sometimes through sewing or crafts. Art is the form of creation that find the most freeing and satisfying.
Q. How do go about making art? Do you plan everything out, or just let things flow as they come to you?
A. Yes and Yes. Sometimes, I will plan out a work carefully, sketch everything beforehand, make changes, erase and redo, before I ever begin applying paint to canvas. Other times I start applying a color to a canvas with no idea at all of what I am going to end up doing. Most often there is a mixture of these two extremes, I’ll have a good idea of what I want, and perhaps sketch out some of the more precise elements of the work, and then start painting, letting the ideas grow and change as I work.
Q. What kind of environment do you prefer to work in?
A. I like to have lots of space to spread out my supplies, I can work in clutter as long as the clutter is related to the work, but I don’t want to lose my tube of paint on a table loaded with a bunch of non-art stuff. I like to have music playing… usually the music I listen to will either be classic rock or christian music, either way I tend towards older music most of the time… though I do listen to some contemporary popular music. I love to make my own playlists so that I can mix mostly the older stuff with a few selections of more modern tunes.
I enjoy company while I work sometimes, but I don’t care for being asked a lot of questions about what I’m doing while I’m trying do it. I also don’t want to discuss politics while I’m working, especially with someone I know will disagree with my point of view, that’s because I have no desire to argue or try to defend myself, I just want to create art. I like to have the company of someone who is comfortable with lots of lulls in the conversation, with the occasional chit chat here and there.
Q. How did you become an artist?
A. As I stated in answer to the first question, it is just an integral part of my being to create, and that creativity has shown itself in different ways throughout my life. In that sense I’ve always been an artist. As for my current passion for painting, there is a story there I’ve posted about before, but to summarize, I accepted a blog challenge to do something creative every day for a month, and one of those days I decided to paint… I haven’t stopped since.
Q. What are you trying to say to the world with your art?
That there is beauty everywhere and in everyone, that every person has incalculable worth, every moment has its own beauty. Even in the hard times, even in the midst of pain, there is beauty and order and purpose. Even in the dull times, there is beauty and imagination and awe. Even in the most depraved person, there is a spark of something good, something of immense value and indescribable worth, personally I believe that is because every person is created in God’s image, so no matter how they may tarnish that image, it is still there in some form. So I guess ultimately I am wanting to point people to the creator by helping them to see the beauty of the creation and the wonders of the imagination.
Now, maybe you have a question I didn’t ask myself, maybe you were really hoping I would, but I didn’t. Here is where I’ll say “Don’t be shy!” Ask away! Feel free to ask me whatever you want to know in the comments, and I’ll do my very best to answer your questions both in reply to your comment and as part of future post!
Also, don’t forget to subscribe (down at the bottom of the blog) if you’d like to be emailed a notification when I write a post.
I know that 2016 was a tumultuous year for many in the U.S.A. and was a controversial one politically. However, on a personal level, and an artistic level, it was a pretty good year for me.
I have continued taking part in ArtSLAM studio, and have taught a lot of painting classes there, I’ve also taught one class off site, on my own. The sales of my art has increased considerably, both because of ArtSLAM and because of implementing good SEO strategies for my Etsy Shop. Now, I don’t yet know if my art income has been greater than my expenditure for the year, but I believe there is a pretty good chance that it has been, and if so, it will have been the first time since I started trying to sell me art. Even if I didn’t actually profit, I know that at the very least, my losses will be far less this year than ever before, but I do believe that I actually profited a little.
On a personal level, circumstances that some would see as negative have actually allowed me to grow much closer to my granddaughter than would have normally been possible, so I see it as a positive thing.
There’s Always Room for Improvement
All in all its been a pretty good year. Of course though, there are some areas that could have been better.
In the area of my health, I just haven’t been diligent in eating healthy and exercising, so I’ve regained weight that I had previously lost. Along with the weight regain, problems with my ankles and feet have started resurfacing. In addition to that I injured my right arm quite unexpectedly, when all I was doing was tuning a radio! I reached out, tuned the radio, and then, as I was pulling my arm back to my lap, I heard a pop and felt intense pain in my elbow. My arm hasn’t been the same since, and according to my chiropractor/physical therapist, I have tennis elbow. With the exercises he gave me for it, it has gotten considerably better, but I still can’t straighten my arm fully, and its been over six months since I injured it. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but if I have to lift something heavy, or extend my arm too far, it hurts. Also, if I paint for hours, like I used to, it starts to ache. As long as I take breaks and stretch the elbow now and then, and as long as I don’t try to lift anything with an extended arm, its okay though.
Financially, my family really hasn’t kept a budget, also we had to have our roof replaced, and we need a new septic system. So our debt is growing.
As for the business side of my art, while I’ve done much better with my etsy shop and with finding ways to earn, I need to get better about keeping my books as I go, so I don’t have to do it all at year-end. I also really need to do a better job of keeping up my website and blogs. I also have a lot of new art that has never been uploaded to either site.
Planning Ahead for 2017
Goals for 2017
Well, enough looking back. Now for the planning forward part of this post!
My goals for 2017 are pretty straight forward responses to the issues I noted above.
I want to eat healthier and exercise regularly. To that end I plan to once again begin logging my food on MyFitnessPal starting on January 3rd. I’ve already started walking more regularly because I’ve started walking a dog for pay. In addition I am going to start slowly adding more walks by walking my own dogs. I’m adding those additional walks slowly because of the problems with my feet and ankles, and because my dogs, especially my elderly dog Spunky, are out of shape and need to slowly work up to regular exercise.
I want my family to start figuring out a budget to implement, to that end, starting today I’m keeping track of what we spend at the grocery stores, for gasoline, at other stores, and online. That way, we can figure out a starting point, and start trying to make improvements. My goal is to have a budget on paper or computer ready to implement by March. That doesn’t mean we won’t do anything until March, for January and February we are tracking, so we can figure out where we stand and which areas we might be able to cut back on.
I want to continue fine-tuning my etsy shop SEO, and I want to get my newer art works uploaded to both my website and my Etsy shop. To that end I am going to try to check each week to see if I need to make any changes to existing listings, or to add a listing. One or two listings a day, either uploading a new one or fine tuning and existing one, and just be consistent in doing something with it at least two times each week.
I want to start keeping my blogs up. Especially the blog attached to my art website, but also my personal blog. To that end I want to begin posting on each of my blogs at least once a week.
So, I’ve not been blogging as much as I’d planned on, but I had good reason. I was too busy painting, you see I had a deadline to meet, and was working on my largest painting so far… my 9/11 remembrance piece.
9/11 Memorial Art Finished
I managed to finish the painting on time. It is the largest canvas I’ve worked on to date… though I have done larger works for sets on plays. This canvas is 48 inches wide and 24 inches tall, and its size alone has made getting a good clear photograph a challenge. I will eventually get a better photo, though it may have to be taken in parts and stitched together in a photo editor.
At any rate here is the finished painting, though some details may not be visible because of the photo quality.
And here is detail shot of the area with the gold hearts:
The painting explained
I also wrote up a short description to be posted with the painting in the public display, explaining the main though process behind it and some of the symbolism of the piece. I didn’t explain every single detail, but enough to give a general idea of what I was trying to get across, what follows is that description.
Zero Hour: Evolution of American Psyche
By Vicki J. Maheu
This work seeks to depict the mindset of most of America before and after the events of September 11th, 2001. It does not necessarily reflect the mindset of any one individual, so there will of course be aspects with which certain individuals, and certain communities, may not identify.
Before 9/11, the mindset of America seemed very much to be childlike, somewhat naïve of the state of the world and the dangers that many other nations had been facing for many years. America had not had war on her own soil since the Civil War, and was, for the most part, looking ahead with optimism. The rest of the world seemed to be a friendly place. America, in many respects, seemed to have the world on a string, facing a bright future.
Then that infamous Tuesday morning changed everything. On that day 2996 lives were lost. 2606 were lost in and around the Twin Towers, 265 were lost on the four hijacked planes, and 125 lives were lost at the Pentagon. Immediately after, in the shock of what happened, there was a surge of national pride and religious sentiment. Statements made by heroes, by mourners, by clergy, and by politicians became catch phrases for how we tried to see that day. From the plea of a widow that life was short and there was no time for hate, to the stirring call to action of “Lets Roll”, these phrases expressed for us what we were too numb to put into words ourselves.
Eventually though, the shock wore off and the national pride of many wore thin. More than a decade of fighting the vague enemy of “terror” took its toll, and many started wondering what we were fighting for. The world seems to many Americans now as a scary place, an angry place, a place where our blood is shed and where we arm ourselves and shed blood. Many of us look around our own country and instead of seeing a bright future full of plenty, we see bleakness, and the starkness of the cruelty that exists in the world, and often we don’t know whether we should be more afraid of enemies from without, or of each other. Our idealistic American dream seems to many to be just that… a dream, out of touch from reality.
However, we have not quit. We continue on, we are still Americans and we still plan for the future. In the final scene of the painting, the artist intentionally included a field of newly planted crops, to show that we as Americans, while we cannot go back to the naivety of childhood, can still look to the future with hope, and, with God’s help, we can move forward.
So the Ultimate Blog Challenge for July is done, the next one will be in October. So I probably won’t post every single day on this blog. I would like to keep posting at least two or three times a week though.
I am glad to have taken part in this challenge, because it helped me to develop a habit of getting on my blog each day. Not only that, but through another blogger I learned a little more about SEO, and adding metadata to my whole site, and also to each post. So hopefully when I blog now, it will get seen by more people.
I am still figuring out some of the metadata stuff, but I’m already implementing what I have learned, and I’m trying to read up on the parts I don’t fully understand yet, once I have a good grasp on everything, I’ll share on a blog post so that I can help others increase their web traffic also.
For now, I can share that if you are on a WordPress blog, there are many plugins you can get that will let you add custom metadata, such as keywords, descriptions of the post, and what title will appear when the you share the post on social media. The description factor is nice because if you don’t enter it, what will automatically show is just the first few lines of your post, which in some cases doesn’t really give a clear idea of what it’s about. By adding a custom description to each post, you can let people know what the post is about in a little more detail than you can usually do in a title alone.
You can also add metadata to the entire website with these plugins, so that if you have an art blog or artist’s website that not only sells art but also offers art marketing advice, or art tutorials, you can add those keywords to the metadata of the entire site and help search engines to find your art website.
There are some things I still don’t understand, such as where the plugin I used (called the add meta tags plugin) asks for “site-wide meta tags” but then says not to put keywords there, there is another place to enter global keywords, but the I’m just not sure what the site-wide meta tags would be if not keywords. I’m going to try to learn about that and share it when I know more.
So, today is Sunday, the first day of the week, and this would be my first post of this week, if I am going to keep with my goal of posting at least twice a week, you will hear from me again at least one more time before next Sunday. I won’t make any promises at this time of what day it will be, but unless some unforeseen circumstance prevents it, I will post once or twice more this week.
So if you participated in this blog challenge, what did you learn?
Also, if you know what the term “site-wide meta tags” actually means, please fill me in! 😉
I include Daisy Yellow on my list because I feel it is a wonderful blog that inspires others to create, it is because of Daisy Yellow’s ICAD challenge that I discovered my passion for art. So, I really do encourage you to read and participate in challenges on this blog.
Janice Gill Art has some lovely paintings in both oil and acrylic. She also posts tips on how to improve your paintings, and tips on selling. Not only that, but she sometimes runs giveaways, check her out!
If you are the kind of person who likes to follow personal blogs, there are two I recommend to you.
The Martha Review is a blog where you might run across a neat home decorating idea, a story about the family, a book review, or a money saving tip. The variety of topics and material posted should really provide something for everyone, so I encourage you to check it out.
Alice’s Grand Adventures is a blog where you’ll find lovely photography, prayer requests and reports, stories about the author’s personal life, tales about her local church, and her general thoughts about just about everything. You’ll also see her sidebar where she links to some of her other blogs, one of which is an art blog called Sun, Moon, Stars, which is where I first encountered this author.
The Preacher’s Word is a great blog to go to if you want some solid biblical articles on the Christian life and current events. It may not appeal as much if your faith isn’t Christian, but I still feel you would be able to take something away of value, and encourage you to read it. For myself, I am a Christian so I find myself in complete agreement with what I’ve read there so far. Either way, I encourage you to check it out.
Yesterday, I wrote a little about how I got started on my artistic journey, which eventually led to this website, my job teaching painting classes, and most of all a new passion in my life. Today I am going to write about where I hope to go with my art in general, and with this website as well.
Where I hope to go with my art.
The Big Dream
Of course like most artists I’d like to reach the point where my work is appreciated by collectors and I sell enough to live off the sales of my paintings. Realistically I know that only very few artists ever make that dream a reality. So, while I am doing what I can to make that happen someday, I am not holding my breath for it. I do try to learn all I can about the changing art market, about branding, about marketing, and about those most successful artists did to get where they are, and I implement what I can of it. But I am also taking much joy where I am right now.
Joy in the Present Reality, while looking forward.
I am taking joy every day in the fact that I have a place to go create art, and that I am making enough on my art and classes to pay my studio rent each month so that it doesn’t cost me out of pocket to have this place. I am also looking forward to continuing to grow with my art. I want to continually improve, through study, through practice, by learning from others. I want my art to develop and mature even more. I can see a world of difference between my first paintings and what I do now, and I want to continue to see that growth.
Where I hope to go with this website.
More regular posting.
I want to be regular with my posting. I want to keep content flowing so that readers actually have something to read when they come to this site. While over the month of July I hope to post every day, after that I am really hoping to be consistent with at least twice a week.
More useful content.
I want readers to be able to come here and not only see my art that is for sale, I also want them to be able to find instructions, tips, step by step tutorials, paint along videos, and so much more. I want this site to inspire creativity in my readers, and help them develop it, rather than having this site just be a redundant extension of my etsy shop.
More interactive content.
I really desire to have more interaction with my readers. People commenting and letting me know what they think. Other artists guest posting. To this aim, I know I will need to have engaging content, things like challenges where I ask readers to create art and post it on their own blog, and then to come and comment and leave a link to their post, I also plan to do some contests and giveaways.
Meeting Your Needs
More than anything I want this website to meet the needs and desires of the readers, to give them what they are looking for when they look at a blog.
To that end, I invite you, my readers, to comment on this post let me know what kinds of content you’d most like to see.
Paint along with me videos? (kind of like Bob Ross, but my voice isn’t as soothing as his).
Step by step written tutorials?
Challenges where you can share your work?
Something else? (If you want to see something else, tell me what it is!)