Mongolia Monday- An Album Of Bird Photos From 2011

I’m going to start a short series for the holidays of “albums” with images I’ve shot of various types of animals and species that I’ve seen on my travels to Mongolia.

First up are the birds I saw on this latest trip in August 2011. If you see a mis-identified bird, please let me know. The field guide situation for Mongolian birds is still not what it needs to be.

Finally, we didn’t go hunting for any of these birds. They are what I saw as we drove around or walked in the reserves and parks. Mongolia is an extraordinary birding destination that deserves to be better known.

Daurian partridges, Hustai National Park
Crested lark, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
Houbara bustard, just outside the northern boundary of Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve (this may have been a rare sighting)
Whooper swan, Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve
Demoiselle cranes, coming into Erdenet soum; part of a large flock
Eurasian (or Common) cranes, somewhere near Hayrhan, Arkhangai Aimag
White-napped cranes, Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve (endangered)
Grey wagtail, Tuul Gol, Jalman Meadows, Khan Khentii Mountains
Japanese quail chick (?), Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve
Common magpie, east of Horgo Terhiyn Tsagaan Nuur National Park
Daurian jackdaw, Amarbayasgalant Khiid
Cinereous vultures, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
Steppe eagle, Jalman Meadows, Khan Khentii Mountains
Golden eagle, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve

New Painting Debut! “Cinereous Vulture, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Mongolia”

Cinereous Vulture, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Mongolia 16x20" oil on canvasboard

I happen to love vultures, who form a big part of nature’s clean-up crew. Cinereous vultures are the largest raptors in Eurasia. They can weigh up to 30 lbs and have a 10′ wingspan. As it turns out, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu is a “hotspot” for them, with almost 250 known nests, a quarter of which are used each year. One of the interesting things about this species, as you can see from my painting is that, unlike other vultures, the adult’s heads are not bare of feathers.

It has recently been learned that that a large number of juvenile vultures, many of which are born and fledge during the spring and summer at Ikh Nart, winter in South Korea, thanks to a combination of GPS radio collars, wing tags and dedicated observers.

So far, the species seems to be doing well in Mongolia. I sincerely hope that continues because they are always an impressive sight as they soar overhead in the beautiful blue skies.

Marketing Our Art During the Financial Meltdown, Part 3; Two New Paintings and a Drawing

Who’s Your Buyer and how do you get your work in front of them? We’re pretty much all going to have to be lean and mean in promoting our art. It’s called “targeted marketing”. Which means knowing who your buyer is.

When I went through the process of creating my marketing plan with a counselor from our local Small Business Development Administration (SBDC) office, the first homework I was given was to pretend that my buyer was sitting in a chair across from me and then describe them. Beyond the general question of who buys original art, who do you think will be interested in YOUR art? In my case, we somewhat humorously pegged my target buyers as “rich celebrity environmentalists”.

More realistically, it’s someone with a certain income level and probable interests in nature, environmental issues, travel and the outdoors. If you request advertising rate cards from a national magazine, they usually include demographic information on who their readers are to demonstrate the kind of eyeballs you can expect to view your ad. You can create the same kind of thing yourself to help decide where it makes the most sense to put your efforts.

I was talking about marketing approaches with an established artist at a wildlife art festival a few years ago. My specific question was where to look for galleries. His advice was to try place my work in locations where there were people “needing” to furnish second and third (!) homes. I’ve got to say, living in a county where the average income is $38,000 a year, that thought truly hadn’t crossed my mind.

Use the Internet- The world’s going digital. The US Postmaster just asked Congress for permission to cut the number of mail delivery days in the future because they are losing so much money. One reason is email and other types of online communication. I know that there are a lot of technophobic artists out there, but you’ve somehow got to suck it up and check it out, if for no other reason that using the internet takes time, but next to no money. At this point everyone pretty much knows that you have to have a website, same as you need a phone.

But when you bring up blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. the reaction usually seems to be a cri de coeur that there aren’t enough hours in the day as it is. My objection was that I couldn’t imagine that anyone would care what I had for breakfast (homemade muesli with berries from our garden, usually), so why should I take the time to do a blog. But……..when I evaluated it in terms of my marketing plan and learned how easy they are to do and that, unlike the website, I can update it myself at will in a far more dynamic way, I decided to give it a try. I approached signing on to Facebook the same way. An unexpected fringe benefit is the pleasant, informal contact with artists all over the country and the world.

Twitter I’m not sold on yet, but I monitor it with the idea that it will probably be just the thing at some point.

I encourage you to set aside an evening and check out Google’s Blogspot and also WordPress, which is what I use. Blogspot is probably easier to get started with, WordPress is more sophisticated in how it does things. You can register on both Facebook and Twitter, then just lurk around and see what you think. None of this is permanent. You don’t have to tell anyone. You can register and then cancel if you want. Be aware though that Twitter currently makes it very difficult to sign up again if you close your account.

Let me know if you start a blog or get on Facebook. I’ll be interested to hear what you think.

TWO NEW SMALL PAINTINGS

Hereford Study  oil  8"x10"
Hereford Study oil 8"x10"

I originally started this as a demo for my painting class and thought it would be fun to finish it. I also have a commission that involves Herefords, so it’s doing double duty.

Afternoon Light, Pismo Beach oil 10"x8"
Afternoon Light, Pismo Beach oil 10"x8"

I did this one yesterday in a couple of hours. Sometimes it’s fun just to smoosh the paint around.

And, finally, a drawing of some grouse that I photographed in Mongolia. Not sure of the species yet.

Sand grouse, Wolff's carbon pencil on drawing paper
Sand grouse, Wolff's carbon pencil on drawing paper

I really like the work of Mark Eberhard, who has a background in graphic design and uses it to great effect in his paintings. When I saw the image I shot of what was a good-sized flock, I was struck by the pure design possibilities. To be continued…..