Choosing a New Theme in WordPress

After you’ve decided which blogging software is right for you, you’ll start to build your blog. One of the first things you’ll do when you’re just starting out is to customize the blog. If you’re using WordPress, here’s a video that explains how to select a new theme and upload a custom photo in the header area.

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The Whole Wide World

Here’s a peek at recent statistics from our West Michigan Artists blog. There are visitors from many other countries on a regular basis. What does this have to do with you and your art?  Being online opens you up to an international audience you can’t get any other way. Imagine if a person in South Africa, Italy or Israel read about you and your work, looked at some great images, and then could click on a button to buy something from you. Your art could be even more well traveled than you are! And, most importantly, many more people could own a piece of art made by YOU.

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Artist Success SEEK

Leslie Riley Artist Success SEEK

Leslie Riley is an artist success coach whose goal it is to help “provide answers to anyone seeking information on how to create, grow and maintain a career in the arts.” She is full of encouragement and great ideas to help artists in many ways. These calls would be well worth the time it would take to listen-and they’re free! Here’s a link to a detailed description of the experts scheduled to talk, and the things you will learn by listening in. The series starts tomorrow, July 19, so hurry over and get signed up.

One of the calls discusses why blogging is your most essential task as an artist.  And then, when you’re ready to get started on that essential task, Diane and I are here to help you get rolling.

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Putting Yourself Out There

I have to admit, I’m feeling a little jealous of this turtle today. I would love to be able to pull my shell up and close myself inside. Fortunately, that’s not the way I feel most days. But…today…it would be nice.
One of my favorite quotes is “Creativity takes courage.” from Henri Matisse. I interpret that quote as meaning that you have to risk a lot to make art. Many artists wear their hearts on their sleeves. They express themselves in their work, and for many of my friends, their income depends on whether people like or value what they create enough to pay for it. In order to be successful financially, they have to put themselves “out there” in as many venues as possible to sell their wares. They also have to enter shows or exhibits to get their names in the public eye. One of my friends described the conversation she had with herself all while she was driving to an exhibit to enter a piece of her jewelry: “Will the juror like it?, What was I thinking?, Am I good enough to get in?, What if it gets accepted and it’s on display and no one likes it?” She said that the self-doubt is always there because she’s always trying something new and doesn’t know how people will respond.

Writing a blog takes that same step of courage, it’s just a different medium. One of the biggest differences with a blog though is that your audience can be worldwide. Artists can use their blog to show or sell their work, and customers can get to know the artists through their posts. People like to know about the person whose work they’re purchasing. In a recent article in the Muskegon Chonicle about a new gallery opening in Grand Haven, C2C, the owner Cyndi Casemier is quoted as saying that art business “is mostly about service. You have to be friendly, and you have to go beyond what is expected. I believe people like to hear stories. They like to know about the artists and the work they’re buying.” I agree with her statement completely. The reason I purchase the art that I do is because I like the work, and almost as importantly, because I know the artist.

So, get out of your shell…step out of your comfort zone…put yourself out there. Take that first courageous leap and start a blog.

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In the spirit of moving past resistance and getting things moving, I’ve started a new blog. It’s the companion to an Etsy shop, where you can (soon) look for ways to support and encourage your friends-or yourself. I think it’s so important to help other people through, and let them know you care, that I’m going to spend time helping you do it. So, whether you call them, scrawl a note on a post-it, or buy something from me, if you take the time to let someone know how you feel, you’ll make a difference in their life, and I bet you’ll enjoy it too! Here’s a post from the blog to help explain why I feel this way:

In those last few hectic days of moving out of my classroom, I opened a desk drawer and found a pile of letters and cards I’d received over the years. There were adorable drawings and words of love from my 3rd graders, and notes from parents who thanked me for my work, and for making a difference in the lives of their child and their family. I sat down and read through them all. I was so grateful for each word someone had taken the time to write.

When you’re a teacher, like when you’re a parent, you do your best with each of the children, hoping it’s making an impact. Sometimes you can see the results, but other times you just have to hope that you got the soil ready, planted the right seeds and started the watering and fertilizing for what would become big things later on. But those notes, those helped me to have some idea that what I was doing mattered. Isn’t that what we all want? To know that the things we do with care, love and lots of effort matter to someone? That we matter? Simple words-simple to write, simple to send. And years later, someone looks back at those words and is so grateful to the sender for letting them know “you matter to me.”

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The Farmer’s Market

Vegetables for sale from the Laughing Tree Brick Oven bakery

Every Saturday morning in the spring, summer and fall, and every other Saturday in the winter, I go to the Sweetwater Market. I love the great, fresh food I can get there, but my favorite part, and what keeps me coming back, is to be able to know the farmers that grow the food my family eats. I chat with each of them as I choose what to buy, and feel good that my money goes to helping them with the hard work they’ve chosen to do. We know each other by name, chat about the weather, the amount of rain, children or parents and how they’re doing. I sometimes come to a table and ask for a bag of something, and the farmer will say, “Oh, I saved the most beautiful lettuce for you!” and pull it out from behind the table. It’s not all about getting the best produce, baked goods, meat and eggs, although that is wonderful, it’s the sense of connection I feel with the people who grow and make these things. It’s feeling like I have a kind of relationship with them, and am able to choose to use my dollars to support their work. To me, they’re artists too.

Farmer's Market Treasures

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Speaking of Lifelong Learning…

Promo from creativeLIVE web site.

A few posts ago I wrote about a three-day, online class I took from creativeLIVE with photographer Penny De Los Santos. Last week the great people at creativeLIVE added a couple of new photography-related classes to their calendar. Here’s the info on a two-day class on Photoshop Elements 9 from their site:

FREE: Photoshop Elements 9 for Photographers with Lesa Snider
Tue, 06/21/2011 – 10:00am – 5:00pm PDT
Wed, 06/22/2011 – 10:00am – 5:00pm PDT

In this class, you’ll learn practical editing techniques you’ll use every day with the affordable Adobe Photoshop Elements. A fast-paced day lead by Lesa Snider, the fun, engaging best-selling author of Photoshop CS5: The Missing Manual. By the end of this class, you’ll be able to turn the photos you have into the photos you need.

creativeLIVE is also bringing Lesa in on Thursday to teach a workshop on iPhoto 11. Here’s the info for this class:

The Power of iPhoto ’11 with Lesa Snider
Thu, 06/23/2011 – 10:00am – 5:00pm PDT

In this fun day-long workshop, you’ll learn about the most practical iPhoto ’11 features, tips and tricks from the coauthor of iPhoto ’11: The Missing Manual. Internationally acclaimed instructor, Lesa Snider is informative yet entertaining with a unique way of explaining difficult concepts so you understand the “why” behind the “how”. Register for this class today and you’ll not only gain control over your photo library, but you’ll learn how to turn the photos you have into the photos you want!

Both of these classes are available free for those participants who are watching live online and the videos are available for purchase after the class. I’m registered for both, hope to “see” you there!

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