My E-Store

In my last post I shared that I started up an e-store.  If any of you checked it out, you might notice that it is NOT on WordPress.  It is actually on a different platform, has its own blog and mailing list.

I chose to use a different platform for a few reasons.

  1. Wix was cheaper than WordPress.  I got a five year plan for $300 ish dollars.  It came with the e-store set up, support, the domain, and an “easy to use editor.”  Yes, WordPress has all those things, but it would have been $200 ish more.
  2. I have experience with WordPress E-Stores…  And I get a headache every time I think about working with them.  After setting up my store I have discovered that it is not just WordPress E-Stores.  They all seem to be a headache.  I could have gone with Shopify or maybe Etsy, things that are built to be only E-Stores, but that would deprive me of a lot of the control I want. Plus most have a surcharge on each transaction.
  3. Just to see what is out there.  I have used WordPress, I tried Etsy and I know several people that use Shopify and Store Envy.

I learned during the process.  Unless I want to shell out more money I do not have inventory management and my only option for payment is to go through PayPal (yaay transaction fees.) Which is fine, it is a small operation.  Setting up mailing lists is a pain in the butt.  WordPress has better social media interaction and links (Wix does not support G+ for example.)

I am trying to decide if it is worth adding advertisements to my site.  I have a steady job so I do not need the financial benefits.  I am not sure that there are any other benefits to having the adds.  RESEARCH time.

My summary:

If you are going to do an E-Store, shop around and find out what you NEED, WANT and are willing to pay for it. You should also plan for scaling.  If you are staying small, 1-10 items, Shopify, Store Envy, or Etsy might work fine for you.  If you are planning on growing or want the extra bits (such as a separate store blog, mailing list and email account) find a platform that offers what you need and want for a price you are willing to pay.

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Know Your Medium

Know Your Medium

I want to stress the importance of knowing your medium.

While working on a portrait I needed to fix some errors.  The paper was off white, so I would have to make my own correction fluid to color match the paper.

The plan is to mix a brown with white until the color is as close as possible.  I have two colors of brown, Burnt Umber and Sepia.  One is warm and the other is cool.

When mixing them with the white I discovered that the Sepia turned grey!  Not what I was expecting.  I quickly abandon the idea of using the Sepia.  Now I know that if I need a toned grey I can use it.

The Burnt Umber mixed well and gave me the correct tone I needed for the paper.

Below is the swatch tests I did.

You can see the differences in color.

Not all browns are the same.

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The bottles are backwards!  The Sepia (bottle on the right) starts in the middle.  The Burnt Umber (bottle on the left) starts at the top.  I did several more swatches before I started on correcting the drawing.

Feeling Colors

I am fascinated by colors and what they make us think and feel.  It amazes me that we can be influenced to think or feel a certain way about an object just because of the color that it is.  I am going to outline a few of the things I have picked up about color and what they have to do with being an artist.

Using color allows an artist to manipulate the way you think about a drawing, painting, or sculpture.  The color in a piece can change the story that is told.  A street scene that is mostly blue will make a viewer think of being alone on a cold night , whereas a street scene in oranges and yellows will make the viewer thing about a warm evening probably with friends or enjoying happy thoughts.  Color has a huge impact on how we think about things.

It is kind of hard to figure out the best way to present this information.  I think I will go down a list of common colors.  Feel free to comment if you have questions.

Color-GradientRed:  Red is a “hot” or “warm” color. Psychologically it makes people feel like they are warm, standing next to a toasty fireplace. It is usually associated with passion, recklessness and urgency. Being “hot headed” is a red head trait.  A person in a red room will get agitated and anger easily. Using red in an art piece usually denotes warmth, heat, and urgency.  Red calls to our baser instincts do DO something.

Blue: Blue is a “cold” or “cool” color.  Psychologically it make people feel cold, like they are standing outside in a snow storm.  Blue is usually associate with calm, cold, sadness and trust.  Put someone in a blue room and you will see that they get sad, cold and unmotivated.  Using blue in an art piece usually denotes cold, emotional distance or detachment and calm.  Blue calls to us to think, ponder, stare at they water and figure out the pattern in the ripples.  Blue is also a color of loyalty.

Yellow: Yellow is a “warm” color.  Psychologically it makes us happy. It is the color of sunshine and daisies.  Blonde’s have more fun because they are always happy (so says their hair color.) Yellow is also a bit weird when it comes to being a wall color for a room.  Many people that go into a yellow room will come out happy and ready for action.  Others come out agitated and paranoid.   Yellow is also an action color.

Purple: Purple is generally a “cool” color.  Purple is the color of royalty, contained passions and wealth. People react in a variety of ways to purple.  In most cases it is treated like a blue with the calm thoughts and coldness.  In other aspects it is like a red with the need for action hidden under a layer of logic.

Green: Green is another “cool” color.  It is the color of nature, money and caring.  Put a person in a green room and they will come out content.  Green is also a bit “flaky.”  Unlike blue that is unfailing and trustworthy, green has a tenancy to over compensate and can miss the mark, but it is the thought that counts, right?!

Orange: Orange is a “warm” color.  It is the color of caution, awareness and innovation.  It is used as a call to action or attention (traffic cones.)  An orange room will leave people energized and possibly a bit crazy. Mixing the passions of red with the happy of yellow can leave a person feeling unbalanced.  Companies that use orange in their logos are said to be innovative.

Brown: There generally two kinds of brown.  A warm red one and a cooler yellowish one.  A nice red brown is reminiscent of red dirt in areas such as Oklahoma.  Yellow brown is more reminiscent of tree bark like an oak tree.  Browns are considered a neutral color in most of the art world, even fashion.  Brown is a “down to earth” color, practical.  Not as imposing or threatening as black, but can hold its own.  Brown is steadfast and will never stray.

Black: Black is seen as nefarious and evil.  Black things are cloaked in shadow and hid things.  Black has an affinity for the things that make us pause in wonder.  Black is fear.  Black also indicates technology and is used a lot in tech company logos.  Black is sleek, fast, emotionless and collected.  Black is the future.

White:White is the opposite of black.  White is innocent, carefree and transparent.  White has an affinity for the things that make us remember and reminiscences about the past and more innocent times.  White is life.  White is used to indication honesty and tradition.

That should cover the basics.  Mixing colors gets you more meanings. For example, a blue and white logo would indicate loyalty, trust, transparency in cations and policy, longevity and thoughtful process change.  Something that a company like GE, Samsung or even WordPress would like you to think about their companies.

Take a look next time and think about the colors and what the company wants you to know, think, and feel about their branding.news-color-03

 

A Bit about Color Theory

Every day I come across someone who does not seem to know that Blue plus Yellow makes Green.  This is like forgetting that 1+1=2.  Basic color theory is taught in school (well, it was when I went to school) and not something that I would expect anyone to forget.

I thought that this would be a great post for those who have forgotten or were never taught about colors and how they work.  I am not going to get technical, this is just the basics.  Maybe I can make a series of posts about this.

First thing to know is that Art and Science have different ways of understanding and explaining color.  They have different tools and purposes.  Art Color Theory deals with blending colors and, in some circles, the way they make us react. In Science colors are studied as light waves and how they work with the eyes and brain to make us see.

In Art Color Theory black is the presence of all colors.  In Science black is the absence of light or a surface that reflects no light.  Similarly, in Art, white is the absence of all colors and in Science white is the presence of light or a surface that reflects all light.  It is kind of confusing but important to know.

Color Theory basics: For the Artist

There are three colors that are the foundation for ALL other colors.

Yellow,Blue,Red Sample

Yellow, Blue and Red in Gouache

Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Without these three colors there would be nothing for us to see.  Not even black or white.

In theory mixing the three basic colors together makes black.  If you mix red, blue and yellow together in real life you usually get this really nasty brown.  The colors artists use are not usually “pure” enough to mix the way Color Theory says it should.

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The basic colors blended to make secondary colors.  Plus making a composite black vs using a blank paint (center)

Mixing the basic colors together gives you different colors.  Red and Blue make Purple.  Red and Yellow make Orange.  Blue and Yellow make Green.  Mixed in equal portions you should get a middle or generic of each of Purple, Orange, and Green.  Mix in more of one color and you get slightly different mix, an Orange that is more Red or a Green that is more Yellow.

The best thing to do is buy some cheap paints (Tempra is always cheap and easy to use) and play with them.  Find out what they do and what mixes make you happiest.

Playing with the colors and mediums is the best way to learn about them.

I hope this was generically helpful.

Product Review: Yupo Synthetic Paper

yupologoA while ago I read about Yupo “Paper.” Since then I have wanted to try it out.  This weekend I got a 10 sheet pad.  I sacrificed one page to do some tests on.  I want to know what it would be best for, and what not to use it on.

Yupo makes a “paper” out of polypropylene, basically a plastic.  It is plastic so that makes it water proof, tear resistant and durable. It is advertised for use in packaging and outdoor marketing.  For artist use it is recommend for use with watercolors and inks.

As an exterior marketing media, it must be brilliant.  The stuff is really durable.  I can imagine how nice it must be as a packaging material or even just as labels for items that spend a lot of time near water or moisture.

For Artists:

This “paper” is smooth.  “Like a baby’s bottom” does not do this stuff justice.  It is also very white.  Brilliant white does not even cover it.  Think about staring into a florescent light-bulb white. I like both of these aspects of it.  Black marks just leap off the page and the colors are about as true as you can get, no paper color getting in the way.

I tried this with three different mediums, artist pens (Microns,) crow quill pen (Higgins, Black Magic ink) and Gouache.

2015-11-29 11.01.34I will tell you right out of the gate DO NOT use artists pens with this.  The stuff is plastic and does not absorb the inks and additives used in the artist pens.  The ink never dries.  I waited 3 hours and I can still smudge the doodles (the eye and feather.)  It works great with crow quill and ink, both Indian and acrylic based.  They take a while to dry.  You do not get the ink absorbing into the paper, you have to wait for any moisture to evaporate.  It might not be a big deal in dry warm areas, but in the Northwest US, it takes a while, about 30 min for the thick lines.

I also notice there there was no bleeding or feathering on my lines.  This stuff is that smooth.  The only time I snagged the “paper” is when I was doing the spirals and had the pen stabbing into the “paper.”  Still fewer occurrences and less splatter than with traditional paper.

2015-11-29 10.39.18Like the ink the Gouache went on the paper well. I did experience some beading, but I was able to do a few additional strokes to get a smooth color.  I discovered that you can “pickup” colors 100% if you get them off before they can stain the “paper.”  Really handy to know if you are experimenting.  Like the ink, it took a while for the Gouache to dry, about 30 min.

This stuff is crazy durable.  No more worrying about messing up the paper with repeated passes over a spot, with pen or brush.  If you have a REALLY heavy hand, you can make a dent in the “paper” when drawing lines.  You have to push pretty darn hard. I would worry more about breaking your nib before hurting the “paper.”

Once you get your medium on the paper the next worry is usually about transporting and storage.  I rolled it, made weird wavy shapes and even dropped it a few times.  Still looked good, no noticeable damage to the paper and the inks and paints did not flake or crack.  If you use waterproof ink, you can even run it under a faucet and it will not do anything… Water colors and Gouache would wash away leaving a stain of color behind.

This is a really neat paper substitute.  If you are into temporary art or like to test out colors and strokes this might be a great product for you.  You can wash away most of your art or tests.

Quick Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Smooth
  • Bright
  • Stain resistant
  • Water proof
  • will not warp
  • no feathering or bleeding

Cons:

  • Drying time
  • No Artist Pens
  • Beading

Over all I like the stuff and will use my nine remaining sheets.

I am interested in hearing about anyone else’s experience with this stuff.  I am interested in finding out how it works with acrylic paints.  Being a similar base substance, it could be amazing or really bad.

~This is an honest review of this product.  I am no where near famous enough to be asked to do a sponsored post. – Carissa~

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An Introduction to Drawing Techniques: Stippling

There are a lot of different ways to draw.  Most of the time we use lines to create the basic shapes and even to indicate where shadows are.  There are other ways to go about it though.  One of the most time consuming yet interesting ways is to use dots.

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Stippling! 60 hours and an estimated 1,188,000 dots. I think this is my best work this year.

Using dots to create an image (in the drawing world) is called stippling.  If you were painting or using colors it would fall under the pointillism style.  Definitely an abstract way to go about creating an image, but beautiful, in my opinion.

This past year I have done several drawings using stippling. While very time consuming, the results look very unlike any other drawing style.  It is indistinct when looked at up close, just a collection of dots.  When viewed at the correct distance the image is reviled.

Like most other drawings (or any art) you start off with an outline of each shape or section.  Make notes or some way to tell yourself how dark each area will be.  Having decent sketches and reference photos/images for the illustration are going to be a big help.

My process:

First I look up some reference photos. I like to check for textures, positioning, layout, lighting, and other things that make a drawing come to life. Google is great for this.  Lots of images with different view points.  This is also a good time to pick you medium.  All the samples I have are in pen.  You will need to make allowances for the size or color of your medium.  That will dictate how close your dots need to be in order to achieve the effect you want.

Second I sketch out the layout in my sketch book.  Most of the time that is all I do.  If I have trouble with any of the shapes or textures, I will do some practice, but not often. (No images of this.  I do not usually document this part.)

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Done on black paper with a white GellyRoll pen. This was really fun.

Next up is moving to the nice medium.  Sketch out your design on your paper (or canvas.)  Make sure to mark areas that will need extra attention.  Fine but defined lines, almost black or black areas, and solid white areas, are good to mark well.

Pick a spot and get started.  This is going to vary depending on the piece and you.  I like to start on the key object (s), once that is done I work from the top down.

Like anything the key is to have fun and take breaks.  Lots of breaks.  Ever time you start going cross-eyed or have trouble seeing the area you are working on, take a break.  Make sure you eat.  Shaky hands are not helpful when stippling.

 

GreatMinds - EleanorRoosevelt

Overall I am pleased with how this turned out. I hope you enjoy it.

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Drawing to Digital: What a Pain!

I have been working on getting some of my drawings ready for digital reproduction.

I think this is harder than doing the actual drawings.

I figured I would do a basic tutorial about how I am going about it.  Needless to say that this is not the only way, and may not even be the best way, but it is how I am doing it, for now.

Why would you even need to edit a drawing in preparation for digital reproduction?

I asked myself that.  Then I opened an image that I had scanned.  Look at that mess!  White flakes all over.  The black is supposed to go out to the blue guide line.  Totally not what I remember drawing.

That is how the computer sees it.  I do not want it to print out like that if someone wants to blow up the image 300X.

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Pre-Photoshop. Look at that mess. White “dandruff” everywhere, stray lines and what is going on with the left edge?

I did some searching and watched a few videos and read some articles.  Most were to in-depth and a few were not what I needed.  I found this gem though!  It is perfect.  How to Color Inked Line Art.  It goes over the basics of converting a drawing into a digital image and adding color.  I found it very handy. I think it is really good for those who are doing fairly simple coloring or just making sure your “blacks are black.”

I use one thing from this tutorial right now.

– use Ctrl+Alt+~ to select all the light stuff

–you can also go to the “channels” tab and select the dotted box at the bottom of the tab.  It will select all the light colors.

– Once you have the white stuff selected, just delete it.  Make a new layer, move it behind your lines and fill it in white (or whatever color floats your boat.)

I find it a bit easier to edit without the white background.  When you are at 100% or less you can see the “missing” areas better.  However, it does not translate to a good screenshot.

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Cleaned up!

Here is a screen shot of the chain all cleaned up.  The white “dandruff” stuff is gone and the black goes to the proper guide line – not shown 😦 because I am a slacker like that.

I do recommend one thing.

If you are editing a large or complex drawing.  Put out guides.  I made a grid all over this drawing.  I work on one grid at a time, so I do not get lost or over whelmed.  It also helps to ensure that I do not miss anything.  Small areas are easier to edit than very large ones.

This is a time consuming process.  At least for this guy.  I have already spent 6 hours going through and fixing the black and removing stray lines.  I have an idea that may make it faster.  I will write up something if it works.

Have fun!