Friday Features

BACK YARD BIRD LIST

Red Crossbills showed up at the sunflower seed feeder yesterday and made a serious dent in it. A group came through last fall, but moved on after a couple of days. We’ll see how long these stay.

The goldfinches and sparrows are emptying out two thistle seed bags in less than 48 hours. They’re back within seconds of the refill. We live but to serve. We must have the fattest finches in the neighborhood.

Bonus photo with my new lens- an osprey diving toward the pond, at what we’re not sure since the goldfish pretty much stay under the branches we’ve laid around part of the edge.

All photos taken with my new Nikon D80 with the equally new AF-VR-Nikkor 80-400. I’m stoked, to say the least.

PLANET SAVER TIP OF THE DAY

Anyone with even a small yard can make it bird-friendly. Food, water and shelter are the requirements. We have the big pond, feeders, food plants, trees and brush piles. But a town backyard could have a bird bath (be sure to keep it clean), bird feeders and some small shrubs. If you can stand it and feel you have room, let a corner go “wild”. And consider not obsessively cleaning up in the fall. Leave some seed heads on the flowers and grass. Then sit back and see who shows up.

ART THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“There’ll be moments when you get a spark, a gleam of light and BOOM!, you’re gone. It seems easy. But then it goes away, and it gets so incredibly hard. It’s like having sex in a wind tunnel.”

Robin Williams (who else?)

New Paintings, Book Review, Camera Drama cont.

Took the Nikon D70 and lens in to our local camera store. Classic good news and bad news. The lens is fixable and is being fixed. The camera body could have been, for half what it cost new, and then I’d have a repaired (after having hit the pavement hard ), four year old camera body for the Mongolia trip in September. I don’t deliberately abuse my equipment, but it does end up with stories to tell. So, I sucked it up, decided to trust the gods, and bought a Nikon D80, the follow-on. It’s, uh, killer great. In general, it’s just more of everything than the D70. Larger file size, bigger ISO range, etc. So far, my favorite part is the bigger monitor. Very handy when photographing paintings.

Which I just got done yesterday. Here are a couple of the newest. The bison is called “Autumn”. I shot the landscape in Yellowstone last year at the end of September as the season changed. It went from sunscreen to snowing in 48 hours. The coyote, also from Yellowstone, doesn’t have a title yet. If you provide the winning suggestion, I’ll send you a pack of twelve assorted greeting cards with my art on them.

BOOK REVIEW

I promised a review of “I’d Rather Be In The Studio!”, by Alyson B. Stanfield, who runs ArtBizCoach.com, so here tis:

How many of you fellow artists out there: try this show/run that ad/enter another competition and hope that somehow, sometime, lightning will strike and you’ll sell out your show or a collector will buy ten of your paintings or a big gallery will hunt you down and beg to show your work and you’ll be on your way to fame, fortune and winters in the Bahamas or, in my case, Hawaii?

Ain’t gonna happen. How many of us have held ourselves back with this kind of magical thinking? Honestly, it really just gets in the way when you think about it. If you’re waiting for the Fine Art Fairy to come along and sprinkle you with Success Dust, then you’re probably not actively building your career in an effective, organized way. Which means you’ll continue to flail around and wonder where the money is going to come from for that next tube of Cadmium Red (for you non-artists, that’s one expensive color!).

You can “join the artists who are ditching excuses and embracing success” for starters by reading Alyson’s book, the subtitle of which is “The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion”. What I like about it is the active voice, the practical steps you can take and why they are important.

The contents are organized around all the excuses Alyson has heard in her career working with artists both as a museum curator and now as a art marketing consultant for artists. Some of the excuses include “My art speaks for itself” (no, it doesn’t), “I have no idea where to begin” (start with your art), “There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all” (organize your information) and, of course, “I’d rather be in the studio!” (start by defining success for yourself). She then addresses each one with specific Actions, which include exercises you can do to start to get the hang of it.

One of the things that surprised me at first was her emphasis on The Mailing List. Sure, I have one and when I want to send out postcards, which I do a couple of times a year, I ask my husband, who maintains it for me, to do a label run. I put out a sign-up sheet at events and shows and he faithfully adds the new names for me. And…that’s…about….it. Sound familiar? Did Alyson ever open my eyes to what a mailing list is, can and should be and how absolutely fundamental it is to a successful career as an artist.

She has a website and a blog (and tells you in the book how to make the most effective use of both) and she does private consultations. I was going to go that route until I read the book. I could tick off so many changes that I need to make already that I’ve decided to implement those and then run it all by her to see how I’ve done and what I still need to do.

What is really all comes down to as far as she is concerned is that you have to own your own life and career and take total responsibility for it.

So, to check out Alyson:

www.artbizcoach.com (Alyson’s home page)

www.artbizblog.com (Alyson’s blog, obviously)

www.Idratherbeinthestudio.com (the book)

THE GARDEN

And just for fun, the oriental poppies are blooming in my garden. It’s raining today, which we badly need, so the poppies really add a “pop” of color outside my studio.