Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Art Show Advice....

I apologize for neglecting my blog so very much lately- this time of year there are always a million things going on, no?
Here is another bit of art show advice since soon it'll be time to start applying to shows again!

This piece of advice is simple and specifically written for set-up day.
And that advice is:
Put on a happy face.

Set-up day is just the worst. It's such a cluster. But one thing I've learned about art shows is that most artists' personalities from set-up day to show-weekend are night and day. On set up day you may be afraid of your neighbors. They may seem pissed or unfriendly and I know you will think, "Ugh!! I have to spend all weekend next to THIS person!?!? Set up day is bad enough and now my neighbors suck too!!" The truth is they're just as stressed as you are. I've had plenty of shows where I am so intimidated by my neighbors on set-up day, but once the actual show starts they always end up being some of the nicest people I've ever met! You're all there with a common goal, and from my experience, 99% of the other artists there are genuinely interested in helping each other out.

Pretty much every artist is in an awful mood on set-up day. (Um... at least I usually am!) The plus side of set-up day is getting to see familiar faces that you may not have seen since a show the year before. Even if you're like me and are usually running late, can't find a parking spot anywhere near your designated space, and are setting up all alone- seeing your art show friends will always cheer you up!

Every show's layout and set up procedure is different, so you and a hundred or more artists are scrambling to get your stuff to your spot in the most efficient way possible. It can be quite confusing and frustrating, especially if it's the first time you've done a particular show. After a year or two, you're somewhat familiar with the procedure and that does help immensely.

If it's your first time at a show (or your first time doing any show at all!), take a deep breath and try to relax. Then try to find someone who doesn't seem too busy and who looks like they wouldn't mind being interrupted (i.e. it's probably best to avoid the artists who look like they are about to have an aneurysm because an entire set of Pro-Panels is one fastener away from tumbleing down upon them, or are holding up their entire tent with one hand while extending the legs, or have just injured themselves with their tent weights and are uttering strings of obscenities). Just smile and ask someone who seems relaxed (and familiar with the territory) for some parking/set-up advice and they will probably be more than happy to help you out.


And, at every show, I promise you.... there will be that POMPOUS *#$&!# who thinks they are more important than everyone else and will take their gigantic truck with the uterus logo on it (not that everyone with those trucks is a pompous *#$&!#, just some) and their humongous trailer and just barge on through the already convoluted disarray of vehicles, tents, and artists to get right up to THEIR spot. If you're in their way, they'll even start demanding you move. Yeah I've seen it!! Once they've arrived at their spot, of course, they will park their chariot in the middle of traffic flow (because why park it anywhere else and inconvenience themselves?) and remove everything from their uterus-mobile, set everything up, and refuse to move said uterus-towing-giant-trailer until they are completely done for the day and ready to leave the show grounds. Nevermind that the show rules almost always indicate that you park your vehicle as close as you can to your spot, unload as fast as you can (throw your stuff into a pile in your spot), and then have the courtesy to move your vehicle the hell out of the way so others can do the same.

I suggest putting on a happy face on set-up day for your sake and others'. You're going to have a lot going on and you just want it done and over with. It's easy to huff and puff around and snap at everyone who so much as breathes in your general direction, but the fact of the matter is that you're spending the entire weekend with these people and the economy is in the toilet, so you better find a way to enjoy yourself. Otherwise you'll be miserable.

Try to be nice, because the person who may be annoying the #*&@ out of you on set up day may end up being one of the nicest people at the show once everything is up and running!!



Thursday, December 3, 2009

Basics of How to Make Prints (Part 2)

If you've moved onto Part 2 of how to make prints (digitally), hopefully that means you've got an image capture of the artwork that you wish to reproduce!

Once you have your image as a digital file, you can have prints made by a local print shop, or an online company, or make them yourself. Making the prints yourself is probably cheaper in the long run, but will require more of an investment up front (equipment, ink, paper, calibrating software if you choose to do so).

I now make most of my own prints, but when I first started selling prints of my art, I had my prints done locally or ordered larger ones from various online shops. Here are some of the online shops I've used with outstanding results:

www.imagekind.com
This site is great because you can upload lots of your images, set up your own online gallery, and it's free to join (there are paid memberships, too, with other benefits). Once your work is uploaded, you can just sit back and let ImageKind do the work when someone orders! You can customize the prices of your art and how much money you'll make from your prints. People can even order your work already framed, and the frame prices are very, very reasonable. You can customize and pick out the frame and mat combo for each piece of your art, or customers can also pick their own if they choose to do so. And, of course, you can order prints of your work from here to sell at shows and galleries.
My ImageKind gallery is here: http://SamanthasArtStudio.imagekind.com/

www.iprintfromhome.com
This is a pretty popular site for fine art prints. I've ordered giclee prints on Somerset Velvet paper from this website and have always been impressed with the quality. The more prints you order at a time, the cheaper each print becomes (a lot of print companies work this way).

www.canvasondemand.com
This is where I get all of my canvas prints made. A couple years ago when I started ordering prints of my art on canvas, I ordered from a few different companies to compare prices and quality. Canvas on demand wasn't the cheapest, but was the best in quality by far. After comparing 3 or 4 different companies, I knew there was no way I could order prints on canvas from anyone else. If I'm going to sell prints of my art, I want the absolute best that I can find, and these are definitely worth paying the little extra. I've recommended this site to numerous other artists because I truly feel they offer a superior product that you can really feel confident about. At art shows I've had a lot of other artists compliment my canvas prints- when you combine a quality canvas print with a great image capture, you'll get amazing results.

A couple notes about prints on canvas:
They are kind of controversial.... Some people (like me) love, love, loooove them. On the other hand, some will say "It's trying to be a painting but it's not." Prints on canvas can look so much like a real painting that it's hard to tell the difference. As someone without a ton of money to throw around, I love prints on canvas because they look so much like a real painting at a fraction of the price. I guess some people are afraid that if they buy a print on canvas, it'll be hanging in their house and a guest might make a comment like, "Ohhh, this is such a beautiful painting!" Then they will have to clarify, "That's not a painting, technically it's a print" and the sky will fall and all hell will break loose.

But here's why I love them so :)
When I was shopping at a fantastic artist's gallery in Montreal, the artist had her original works on display, and prints on canvas (in many sizes), and prints on paper (also in many sizes). As much as I loved her work, I couldn't afford an original. The canvas prints weren't cheap, but they weren't necessarily expensive, either. And the paper prints were nice- buuuut when you stood there in her gallery with a paper print in one hand (for, say, $30), and a canvas giclee in the other hand (for, let's say, about $90).... there was just no comparison. The canvas print was stretched and wrapped (no need to add in the extra cost of a frame), and the colors were so vibrant and rich- and it had such depth. Since I wanted something that looked as close to the original as I could get, I chose to buy the canvas print.

If you choose to make your own prints, take a lot of time and do plenty of research on different printers. There are so many out there and all have their own set of pros and cons! For example, when I was researching printers, I remember reading a lot about photo-printers and that certain brands are generally much better for reproducing black and white images. I knew I wouldn't be doing anything in black and white, so none of that really affected my decision on a printer. You may also want to check the costs of ink, and you can even find websites that break down square-inch cost of printing.
(Here is one that I've used: http://www.redrivercatalog.com/cost-of-inkjet-printing.html)

My boss at work had some great advice about buying a camper (I think it was a camper? Maybe it was something else entirely??) but the advice applies to many things in life, including buying a printer to make fine art prints:

"When you're shopping for a printer, buy your 2nd printer first."

All that means is, when shopping for a printer you may think "I'll buy a cheap printer for my
first one and then just buy a better one later." Naahhh. Buy the best that you can afford first- this will end up saving you money. There's no reason to have two printers, one that works pretty good and your super-awesome-high-quality-fancy-pants printer. You'll easily drop $150-$200 on a printer that works decent, but why not put that $150-$200 toward a really, really good printer?- Some of which start at just $350-$400? (And go up- way up- from there.) Plus if you figure out exactly which printer you want, you can take your time and hunt around for a good sale. (And don't forget, you can also look for one used!)




Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Promotion!! Free ACEO bug print...

It took mere nanoseconds of being online this morning to realize that today, everyone with an online shop is having special promotions! It IS "Cyber-Monday" after all- apparently the biggest online shopping day of the year!
In honor of Cyber Monday, I decided I'd start my December promotion today. A little early. Cause that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Starting today, and for the month of December, you will receive a FREE print (of your choice) of one of my "30 Bugs in 30 Days" ACEOs with ANY order from my online gallery shop!! :)

Here's how to get your free insect ACEO print:
  1. Go to my online gallery shop and place some goodies into your cart...
  2. In a new tab or window in your browser, go to my flickr "30 Bugs in 30 Days" set of pictures (links are also available in my shop) and decide which of the 30 bugs is your favorite!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/samanthasartstudio/sets/72157618274937415/
  3. When you go to PayPal to check out, write the name and/or number of your favorite ACEO bug choice in the "Notes to Merchant" section. (If you can't find the "Notes to Merchant" link, you can also email me the details of the bug you'd like to add to your order.) If you'd like a specific color for the border of your image, please specify this as well!
The size of the print you will receive is 5" x 7", an easy-to-find standard frame size. The insect ACEO printed graphic will be the standard ACEO size of 2.5" x 3.5". It will have a colored border around it (color will be chosen from something in the image, unless you specify a color you'd prefer), which will make for easy framing and you won't need a mat! You can also cut down the image to 4"x6" or smaller if you like.

Here is an example:


Happy Shopping!**

(** note: I do realize that I'm making a promotion post immediately following a post about shopping/too much stuff/consumerism etc. However, I happily and enthusiastically promote shopping handmade and/or eco-friendly.) :)


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Story of Shi... Stuff.

Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, that means Lemming Friday is right around the corner... and it's the perfect time to share a wonderful and informative video about STUFF!

Think twice before you buy- do you really *need* that item? Is there a more eco-friendly or handmade alternative available?

(Here's a great teaser video about great bargains!)




And for the whole fabulous movie, visit this site:
http://www.storyofstuff.com/

It's a little long but very, very worthwhile and interesting.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Basics of How to Make Prints (Part 1)

Online or at various art shows, I'm surprised by the number of artists who ask me, "How do you make your prints?" Coming from a Graphic Design background in college, I've done it for so long now that I take it for granted!
Since it's such a common question, I thought I'd make a blog post (or, two) about it. Hopefully other artists out in the Wide World of Internets will somehow stumble upon this post and find it useful.

(This post is about making digital prints from a computer, as I'm definitely not educated in the other traditional methods of printmaking. I'm also assuming if you're going to a pro to have it done, they'll know what file type to save it as- and if you're doing it yourself, you're computer savvy enough to know about different file formats.)

*** If you've got questions after reading this, feel free to ask them in the comments section after this post or email me. ***

There are 2 main steps in creating a print from your original artwork:
#1. Obtaining the image capture as a digital file.
#2. Printing said file.

The methods of doing these two things and all of the in-between is where you really get into the nitty-gritty.

Since this will be a little long, I'll make it a two-parter. This, part one, will focus on the
IMAGE CAPTURE.
There are a number of ways to get an image of your art onto the computer.

If you're not computer savvy...
The easiest way for those who are not computer-savvy is to take your artwork to a business who specializes in this very thing. You'll have to check your local (or in some cases, not so local) listings to find a place. For example, the best place I've found is about an hour and a half away: "American Art Associates" in Annapolis, MD. Most printmakers will do an image capture for you: You bring in your art and they essentially put it on an easel and take a very high resolution photo of your image. Their lenses and equipment eliminate glares and shadows. They put the picture onto their computer, adjust the color if necessary, do whatever other magic they do (I've never been part of this process) and save it. From there you can have them make prints for you, or you can ask them to save it on a disk for you for later use.

Pros of taking your art to a printmaking business for capturing the image and making prints:
1. These guys (and gals) do this for a living. This is what they get paid to do. If you're going to a reputable place, you can tell them what you want, sit back and relax, and they'll handle it AND make sure it looks great!
2. It's a lot easier than doing it yourself, aaannnnnd....
3. Much less time consuming than doing it yourself.

Cons of having a printmaker capture the image for you:
1. It can be expensive (depending on what your idea of expensive is...). An image capture of a large (over 11"x14") artwork, from my experience, can run $50 to $100 - maybe more. But since doing it yourself can be quite time consuming, having a professional capture an image of a large/difficult to photograph artwork is often well worth every penny.

Or try a little DIY.
If you are computer savvy and have some graphics software (Paint-Shop-Pro, PhotoShop, a myriad of others), you can try doing it yourself.
You can buy a scanner (they're pretty affordable, $100 and up) and scanning software (which should come with the scanner), lay your art on the scanner, scan it & import the image into the computer, and then save the file.

Pros of scanning it yourself:
1. After purchasing a scanner, it's basically free.
2. No driving around or making appointments- do it at your leisure.
3. If the artwork is 8"x10" or smaller and not glossy, it's a fairly simple and straightforward process. Lay it on the scanner. Open your scanning software. Scan it in. Piece of cake. (You can even eat a piece of cake as your scanner imports the image.)

Cons of scanning it yourself:
1. It can take up a lot of time. So even though the process is free, is it worth your time to sit and fool around with it?
2. If you've used glossy paint.... forget it. If your paint has any gloss to it at all, the light from the scanner is going to reflect off that and make white highlights. No good. And no simple way (that I know of) to fix it.
3. Large pieces can be a huge pain in the ass and take a very long time. When I have finished a 16"x20" painting (which is not that big), it takes me at least 4 scans to scan it in. Most scanner beds are about 9"x 11". Even an 11"x14" artwork will take about 4 scans to piece everything together all nice and neat.
Oh, and that whole "piecing together" process? That can take HOURS. And you need good graphics software to do it, too. Sometimes the colors in each scan might vary slightly. Sometimes you get shadows along a gutter (where your painting overlaps the edge of the scanner bed). Sometimes you've laid your artwork down slightly off from a 90-degree angle, so you might have to do a little rotating to get it to fit. The larger your artwork, the more scans you have to do, the more opportunities for unwanted shadows, rotations, overlaps, etc. It ends up being almost like putting together a puzzle.
(I scan most of mine myself because I'm cheap like that, and since my favorite place is an hour and a half away, I have to do a bit of planning to allow myself time to drive over there. Plus gas money of course, blech. Again, I'm cheap.... When I can afford to be. Meaning that if I've got an painting that is huge, I'll gladly pay to have it done. I'll emphasize again that it is worth every penny.)

UPDATE: I've now created a post about how I scan in my paintings! It's here:
http://samanthasartstudio.blogspot.com/2010/07/how-to-scan-in-painting.html

Some artists have mentioned using a digital camera and taking a very high-resolution photo of their artwork themselves. You can try this if you've got a nice digital camera and, again, a little bit of graphics software. Be sure to *not* put your artwork in direct sun- it will be too bright and have much to much glare. Ideally, you want a bright but overcast day- or, if it's sunny, you want the art to be out of direct sunlight but in a bright place. No shadows.
Pros of using your own digital camera:
1. None of that scanning/piecing together business if you've got a particularly large painting or drawing. Woo hoo!
2. If you're out of the sun, no worries about glossy paint or shadows.
3. Affordable... obviously. (Unless you go buy a very expensive new camera!)

Cons of using a digital camera:
1. If you've got a very large painting, you're going to need to take a photo at very VERY high resolution to make large prints from the painting.
2. Wobble? You might need to use a tripod to take the best photo possible.
I've tried the digital camera method- admittedly my camera is almost 10 years old. I took photos of some paintings but the largest I seemed to be able to print them and make them look good was only about 8"x10". I'm by no means an expert on this method and I'm sure digital cameras have come a long way in the last decade!! If you've already got a camera and some software, you might as well give this method a shot and play around with it, decide for yourself- it couldn't hurt.


Okay, so by this point you have your image saved as a file. Now what?... See Part 2 :)
Coming soon!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Last Featured Bug Shop: Honeybee Crochet!

Last (but NOT least!) in my list of featured Etsy Buggy shops this week is:

HoneyBee Crochet,
AKA SturmDM on Etsy!


Honeybee Crochet is a very special bug shop because, while her entire shop doesn't *just* consist of bugs (she has a wide variety of items and subject matter!), she does HELP bugs with her crochet! Specifically, she helps honeybees! She donates proceeds from some of her crochet work to honeybee research.

She has a whole section in her shop with one-of-a-kind freehand bees! They are designs she's made up herself without a pattern!
http://www.etsy.com/shop/SturmDM?section_id=5582273

Here are some of Doris's beautiful handmade bees:





BEE green, shop handmade this holiday season! :)
http://www.SturmDM.etsy.com


Also, BEE sure to check out her blog here- she ALWAYS has fun stuff to share!
http://CrochetinginGeorgia.blogspot.com


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Featured Bug Shop #2: "Buggy Kids"

To continue with our theme of "Bug Week!" this week featuring wonderful handmade things from Etsy, I bring to you shop #2:

"Buggy Kids!"
Inspire a love of nature and bugs at a very, very early age-
her items are great for babies and toddlers! :)



These items for babies are truly unique and one of a kind!



The pillows have a soft, fluffy fabric on the back. Click on them to see the listing for more information!




Personalized initial onesie

She has great items in her shop and accepts custom orders, too!
Her official Grand Opening is coming soon- so check back often as she adds more crawly buggy items!

To see what she has on hand, check out her Flickr page:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/buggykids/

Enjoy and happy shopping!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's Bug Week!!

Since I recently did a post about some ways to have a green Christmas, and suggested shopping for handmade items (with the website Etsy being a great place to start)... This week I've decided to showcase some of my favorite shops on Etsy that feature...
Bugs!!


The first shop I'm featuring is...
"Mutant Caterpillar!"
http://www.mutantcaterpillar.etsy.com



The caterpillars are SUPER cute, and are all sewn by hand!




This photograph makes me smile sooooo much!

You can check out the artist's other website here, where most of her projects can be seen:
www.lisamillerstudio.com
And her blog here:
http://mutantcaterpillar.com/

Be sure to click the links above, or go here, and check out her shop to find yourself a brand new fuzzy friend!
http://www.mutantcaterpillar.etsy.com

Enjoy! :)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Etsy Treasury Fun!


I found out today that the wonderful Ms. Elizabeth Graf of Etsy has included my "Busy, Busy Bees" in her beautiful treasury! (Alongside some very pretty items- how flattering!) :)

http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=93614

In other exciting news, I've sold some more framed artwork from my Imagekind gallery! The great thing about the store at Imagekind is that you can buy printed artwork, already framed, at a very good price... Check it out :)

Wishing everyone a happy weekend full of bugs and hugs! (Or just bug artwork if you're not a fan of being around the real ones.)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've moooved!

My online shop, that is! :)

You can see it here:
http://www.samanthasartstudio.com/fineart.html

The great things about this are #1 buying is easier AND #2 I am able to offer much more variety!

You don't even need to create an account, you just need a credit card- the same as with your other online shopping. My online gallery shop is a lot easier and more user friendly than ImageKind seemed to be- as I was told more than once by customers that it was too confusing (they emailed me to place the order instead, which was also fine).

I've still got my Etsy shop for now, but on my website you will find a lot more variety in sizes and artwork that I don't have available on Etsy.
They will all print on demand for you when you order, and be signed by me before they ship. I'm SO excited about my new shop!

Within the next week I plan to add the capability to purchase original artwork directly from my site, too.

I'll be out of town a few days, so I hope everyone has a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas......

Even though I respect the turkey and generally dislike the idea of putting up Christmas/Holiday/Winter themed decorations BEFORE Thanksgiving, you can't help but have it on your mind as your mailbox starts to flood with catalogs, stores are playing Christmas music incessantly, Victoria's Secret starts showing countless ads on TV again....
With all the consumption and commercialization surrounding Christmas, it's easy to be tempted to drop a small fortune on decor and gifts! So what's a person to do if you're trying to be more green??

In the next couple of weeks I'm going to post some ideas focusing on how to make your Christmas (and other holidays) more green, as there are plenty of ways you can go about it.

For starters, Home Depot is advertising something wonderful (which I posted last week on my Facebook page):
The Christmas Light Trade-In!!

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ContentView?pn=SF_EV_Christmas_Light_Trade-In&langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053&cm_mmc=hd_email-_-102809_GC-1028-Wed-_-1027-GC21-_-LED-VAL

Bring in your old used/broken Christmas light strands and get $3 back toward the purchase of new eco-friendly LED Christmas Light Strands! LED lights use much less energy than the traditional bulbs, so you'll save money on your electric bill. They also last up to 10 times as long as traditional bulbs, too, so you'll stretch your money even further!

Another thing you can do, as the catalogs start piling up in the recycle bin- is to call the companies who are sending them and request to be removed from their mailing list (unless you regularly order from them). A lot of companies share names and once you're subscribed to one, you end up getting 5 affiliate catalogs as well. (As a plus side to this, often when you call to unsubscribe from one, they will take you off the shared list- but it's hard to know exactly who shares with who.)

One last tip for today is to look for handmade gifts and decor, rather than mass-produced. Many towns and cities have gift shops where local artists sell their one-of-a-kind handmade items, so see if you can find one! And if you prefer to shop online (like me), try Etsy! They have just about everything you could ever want. To get even greener, try the Shop Local option and your item won't have to travel as far to get to you! You'll be surprised at how many local handmade goods you can find!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Etsy Treasury!

I created an Etsy Treasury this Friday afternoon!
Here you can see some great examples of the variety of items on Etsy :)



http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=92499
I know this treasury will be a hit because it has "vampire" in its name... hehe!

Enjoy and have a great weekend!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clyde Peeling's Reptiland part 3

Not yet the final post in my Reptiland series, but here are some photos of frogs that we saw there. It was such a cool little place, and like I said in another post- it was big enough to have a lot of variety, but small enough to not feel overwhelmed so that you could really take your time and study every little guy you could find!!








Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

"Dream Girl"
11" x 14" Acrylic

Hope so far everyone is having a great Halloween!

I created my first spider artwork about a month ago, specifically for a Halloween art exhibit at Gallerie 13. Since it was for a Halloween show, the artwork was meant to be somewhat ominous and have a spooky atmosphere. That seemed appropriate not only for Halloween, but because most people (including myself most of the time) feel that way about spiders: That they are SCARY.

But I've said many times that I really enjoy showcasing the beauty of bugs (insects, arachnids and the like) and helping people appreciate them.... even if maybe they don't necessarily like them in real life!

So I created Dream Girl.
The name is significant for a few reasons.
The first is that the idea for the painting came to me in a dream. The background was the same as this, bright and simple, but the spider was black and white, and was showing its belly rather than its back. The position of the spider was the same as the other spider drawing I did, and I wanted this to be different. As I researched some spiders, I discovered these and thought they were so beautiful that I had to paint one. It most closely resembles a Wasp Spider- not exactly as I took some creative liberties, but close.

The other reason for the name was that I was trying to make a spider that was beautiful and appealing, so I wanted it to have a name that fit that description.
Part of that name came from a funny song by "The Lonely Island" called "Dreamgirl." It's about a Dream Girl who isn't much of a dream girl by most standards... sort of like Spiders to most people.
I invite you to have a listen here:
http://blip.fm/~fodxi

Hope you enjoy, and this artwork will be for sale soon- still need to get an image capture and seal the painting. :)


Friday, October 30, 2009

Clyde Peeling's Reptiland, part 2

As I promised, here are a couple more pictures from Reptiland!
These are two of the lizards we saw. Stay tuned for my pics of frogs, snakes, and butterflies! :)





Thursday, October 29, 2009

Next Art Show...


On Sunday, November 8th, I'll be at Harrisburg Area Comminity College with members of the Jewelry Goddesses for a high-end art show and sale. I'll have some originals, some framed prints, and unframed prints too. I also hope to have some bug-boxes and other new items there, so come have a look! :)

Here's my newest bug box:


Hope to see you on Sunday the 8th!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clyde Peeling's Reptiland, part 1

As part of my birthday present, yesterday my wonderful, fabulous, knows-me-oh-so-well husband took me to Clyde Peeling's REPTILAND!!
(No... we didn't participate in their birthday party package but we did see them setting one up and it looked pretty cool, hehe.)

Reptiland was awesome. One thing that I enjoyed most about it was that it was big enough to see lots of different animals, yet not so overwhelmingly huuuuge that you felt like you had to rush if you wanted to get to see EVERYTHING. I liked that we could stay at an exhibit for as long as we wanted and just take everything in.

When we arrived, we got a quick bite to eat at the Crocodile Creek Deli and then headed out to see the outdoor exhibits. The first things we saw were turtles:

SOOOOO CUTE!!


I feel like this composition is just screaming to be
created into a drawing or painting!


Last but not least, check it out. Turtle snuggling, or probably the closest thing to snuggling that turtles do. Can you say, Awwwwwwww?


I'm sure some of these will become drawings or paintings in the relatively near future.... Reptile and amphibian fans, stay tuned!
I got lots of fantastic pictures that I'd like to share, but will create several Reptiland posts for them so as not to make one post too overwhelming.

If you're going to be in PA and you'd like to plan a trip to Reptiland yourself, go here:
http://www.reptiland.com/


Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Weird Al!

Today is a very special day...
The birthday of Weird Al!!
(I wonder if he's sick of people calling him up and playing him his own Birthday anthem?)


Weird Al is one of my absolute favorite people in the world. I've loved him since I was a kid, and thought he was a total complete genius for making a career out of writing funny songs and hilarious song parodies. Changing the lyrics of songs has always been a favorite past time of mine, too.... if I had the equipment, I'd probably be releasing my own parodies to the world wide internets. Sometimes I think maybe I missed my true calling. Oh well!

Not only is Weird Al hysterical (and laughter is the best medicine!), but he's a great role model.
Here are some things we can all learn from the wonderful Weird Al Yankovic:

1. Don't take yourself too seriously!
....Check out the "White & Nerdy" video... bwahahhahaa!
2. Don't grow out of potty humor.
.....Listen carefully to the background noises in "Another One Rides the Bus"
3. Embrace silliness.
.....and when isn't a fat suit funny? Check out "FAT!"
4. Be yourself!
....you can "Dare To Be Stupid!!"
5. Adapt, but also
6. find a way to do what you truly enjoy.
....In other words, make sure you do "Whatever You Like"!
7. Try to maintain good relationships.
... which means sometimes you might have to apologize for something, even if everything was just a big misunderstanding.
8. Don't forget to LAUGH!

Happy Birthday, Al! It's your 50th, I hope you have a great one!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New- Featured Item!


NEW!
Featured Item:


"Passiflora" Colored Pencil Drawing
8"x10" double matted & framed in an 11"x14" frame.
$130 and FREE SHIPPING!
Buy it HERE!


I tend to showcase my original drawings and paintings at art shows, or the few pieces I've got over at Gallerie 13 in Mechanicsburg PA. Otherwise, the original work is kept packed away so it doesn't get damaged, or I hang it up so that I know exactly where each piece is and I can find it when I need it. I realized recently that those pieces aren't doing anyone any good just sitting around like that, now are they? So I've decided to start promoting my originals a little more with.... Featured Items. I'll list the item in my Etsy shop and offer free shipping on it... until I decide to feature a different item.

If you'd like to buy one of my featured items but you don't have an Etsy account, it's free and simple to set one up!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oyster Festival Fun!


Learn all about the Oyster Festival, the Shucking Contest, and how to shuck an oyster too!!

Also in this clip, at about 1:28 (and a few more times) you can briefly see my poster artwork on the Oyster Festival Program! My art was on TV.... How exciting!!!

A few weeks ago, I found out that I won the poster contest for the festival and I was so flattered and excited! Yesterday I was able to get down to the festival for the first day and sign and sell a bunch of the posters. Since it was about 40 degrees and raining all day, we had a table with the St. Mary's County tourism display inside one of the buildings. Much to my delight, we were in the same building as the National Oyster cook-off! That meant we got to smell and more importantly SAMPLE a bunch of the winning recipes.... A. MAZ. ING. I tried "Beach House Oysters with Sherry Sauce" by Chef Brandon Cahill that was... seriously... like a little bite of heaven.

You can view pictures from the event on my Facebook page even if you don't have an account!
http://www.facebook.com/SamanthasArtStudio
But if you do have a Facebook account, you're more than welcome to become a fan of my page! Just click "Become a Fan" up at the top. :)

Here are the news clips about the show too! Meet the Oyster King! (He's fantastic!)
http://networkedblogs.com/p14806822


Friday, October 16, 2009

Etsy Promotion! Today & This weekend...


FREE SHIPPING on my "Baltimore Checkerspot & Black Eyed Susan" 8"x10" print on Etsy!
Today and this weekend!

I'm back in Maryland for the weekend on a mini-vacation, so I thought I'd celebrate and promote some local subject matter!....
This is the official State Butterfly of Maryland. Did you know that some states have designated state butterflies? Some don't, but most at least have a designated state insect! This colorful butterfly is sipping nectar from the Maryland State Flower, a Black Eyed Susan.
Enjoy, and happy shopping :)


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Featured Etsy Shop... SturmDM!

Since I'm part of the handmade community over at Etsy, every now and then I like to spotlight an extra special shop...

This time I've decided to feature "Honeybee Crochet", the shop of a dear friend of mine, Doris. Like me, Doris is a friend to the bees!... Which is how we became acquainted. Her shop is full of many functional handmade items such as afghans, pillows, kitchen items, shawls and other wearables.
But my favorite things in her shop are her bees!

Is this patriotic bee not one of the most cute and creative things you've ever seen!?


She crochets them all by hand from patterns that she has created herself, so all of the bees are one of a kind! She truly has a creative gift, to make all these wonderful and adorable bees!.. Here are some of my favorites:



Little Bees with Big Hearts!
(Great for Valentine's day, Christmas, Anniversary, or any other occasion for someone you love who loves bees!)

Doris donates some of her proceeds from sales in her Etsy shop to Honeybee Research. Check her Etsy Profile for more info.

You can find Doris on Etsy at:
http://www.SturmDM.etsy.com




And read about her life of bees, Gizzy, crochet, and Georgia here:
http://crochetingingeorgia.blogspot.com/
She's always got something interesting to blog about, and she's currently got a pet costume contest going on! But if you're going to enter, hurry, because there is only 1 week left for submissions! (Entry deadline to submit your pets' pictures is Oct. 21st!)

In addition to having a wonderful creative gift, Doris also has a big heart and is one of the nicest people ever. Please go visit her blog and her shop and show her a little love :)


Monday, October 12, 2009

Little Bug Boxes!



I'll keep this short and sweet since I'm recovering from a cold and want to take advantage of a grey, cloudy day, some cold medicine, and a snuggly kitty for some napping.

I've been thinking it would be fun to create some art that is not only bright and colorful and fun but also functional....
Behold the tiny Bug Box!

So far it's only got one clear coat on the top of it- I'm going to apply more and sand them down for a smooth finish. This is the first experimental piece- the guinea pig, er caterpillar, if you will. I've got a couple of different sized boxes to play around with techniques and designs. I think the combination I've got here of decoupage and hand-painting works well, but some of the boxes may be all hand painted. However, to put a significant amount of detail into them, I'd have to spend a fairly large chunk of time though- which would make them get expensive quickly. This is why I like the idea of decoupaging my existing art onto a piece and then hand painting some simple colorful touches too.

We'll see where it goes, but I soon hope to have some of these in my Etsy shop!

If you've got ideas that you'd like to see on a Bug Box, let me know! Just leave a comment- I'd love to hear!


Monday, October 5, 2009

New Dragonflies drawing!





"The Dragonfly Meeting"


8"x10" colored pencil & ink drawing

Currently $120 as it is not framed

$145 when I have it framed.











I recently finished this drawing but hadn't gotten a chance to post it on ye olde bloge yet... so here it is!

If you're interested in buying the original, you can email me at samanthasartstudio@verizon.net. I haven't bought a frame for it yet, but would be happy to ship it to you unframed in a plastic sleeve and you can pick out a frame. I have a blue frame in mind at a local frame shop... just need to take the picture and compare colors to make sure it won't clash!

For prints of this drawing, just click the image or go to my new online gallery here:
http://www.imagekind.com/showartwork.aspx?IMID=b9ca77eb-f705-49c8-9136-723956f8256e

I don't think this will be the last of my dragonfly artwork. At various art shows I've been asked countless times if I have any dragonflies, so this is the first full size drawing. Lately I've been doing a lot of smaller artwork- I can produce it quickly and sell it for less than a big ginormous painting that takes months and months. Because of this, I'll probably be doing some series (3-4 pieces) of different bugs since I'm used to having one subject matter in mind for months at a time. For instance, I'm already working on another spider... I hope to eventually have 4 of them as well.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

I ♥ Staples... and you might, too!


Since I started shopping at Staples and became a Staples Rewards member, I've saved a lot of money- and I want to share with you how perhaps you can, too.
(BTW, I don't work for Staples or have any affiliation with them!)
First, you have to be a Staples Rewards member. Becoming a member is super easy and you can even do it online- and if it wasn't super easy, I wouldn't've bothered... trust me.
Here's more info:
http://www.staplesrewardscenter.com

To get your quarterly rewards certificates, you must earn at least $10 in rewards each quarter... but that's really easy to do. Just keep these things in mind (this info is valid as of October 2009. Rules and promotions may fluctuate slightly from time to time).

The simplest way you can earn some money if you do a lot of printing (like MEEEEE!) is by recycling your ink cartridges. Not only is this great for the environment, but your wallet as well! Staples will give you $3 in store credit (money you can spend at Staples) for each cartridge you bring in. (Note: You can't grab a whole huge purse full of ink cartridges and bring it in to cash in the mother load... They've got a maximum of 10 cartridges per calendar month. But that's $30 in rewards you can earn each month! )

You also earn 10% back on all ink/toner, case and ream paper, and copy & print services. So if you spend $100 on ink (not at all hard to do if you print as much as I do!), you'll get $10.00 in rewards. Staples will often run additional promotions on top of this... my personal favorite being 50% rewards back on copy & print services. So keep your eye on your local Staples' promotions!

I've ordered my greeting cards from several different companies. So far, GreenerPrinter.com and Staples are my favorites. When I get cards printed at Staples the fee is the same for 1 or 100 of a design. Staples charges $1.00 per 8.5" x 11" print. They have cardstock you can print on, but I prefer my Neenah Environment ecofriendly recycled stock. I purchase the paper and bring it into Staples for them to print my cards. (I do the folding, cutting, and buy envelopes.) If you choose to bring in your own paper, be sure you bring some information about the paper so Staples copy center can make sure it will be safe for their machines.
Another note- Staples ranked #20 in Newsweek's Top Green US Companies!
http://greenrankings.newsweek.com/top500

Let's add up some more savings! (Always fun, right?) If Staples is running their wonderful 50% Rewards back on copies and prints, and I have 50 greeting cards made, it costs me $50.00 at $1.00 per print. I get 50% of that back- $25.00! I can take that $25.00 and go get more cards made, or whatever else***(see below) I may want from the store.

A while back I thought about purchasing my own color laser jet just so I could print greeting cards. It would be a big expense up front, but might pay off in the long run as long as I'm making and selling cards. However, with Staples offering such great printing promotions, and me not mass printing my cards yet, I've decided it's cheaper to have them do the printing because I know for a fact color toner is NOT cheap! I wouldn't look forward to having to replace it (even with my 10% rewards back, hehe.)

As a rewards member, you also get some pretty great deals via email. They'll send you their weekly ad, and once in a while you'll get a $5 off a $50 purchase, for example. They also often offer buy 1 get 1 free paper promotions. There are tons of ways to save- so if you do a lot of printing or frequently need color laser prints, I hope you'll find some of this information helpful! :)


***Coffee break...
Staples carries my absolute favorite coffee: Paul Newman's organic coffees. And no, it doesn't have a hellacious mark-up :) It costs the same there as everywhere else I've found it!
Rewards = FREE COFFEE. Score!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Butterfly house has closed for fall & winter....

But here are some photos I took during the last time that I worked there! Hope you enjoy them.

A Julia drinking from a purple butterfly bush.


Zebra Longwing enjoying a yellow butterfly bush...



Two different longwings sharing a feast!



I plan to make at least a couple into drawings, and hope to use the rest as references for my butterflies in the rainforest painting that is on my agenda... another painting that I dreamed about a few months ago and I must see come to fruition.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Passion Flowers Painting Complete!

"Passion Flowers"
36"x24"
Acrylic on Canvas


Just finished this painting a few minutes ago!... what a load off! It's been on my easel way too long. (I say that far too often.) And unfortunately it's a very dark, cloudy day (the weather is giving me a little preview of winter I guess, ugh!), so I just couldn't get the lighting to work for this picture without using the flash... hence a little bit of a glare on this. But I am impatient and wanted to get a picture of the painting and didn't have time to look for my tripod.

Now the dilemma... I bought a frame for this a while back, and it's a silvery-champagne color. I think this painting looks nice without a frame though- I could just paint the sides a dark green. But I hate to waste the frame that I bought! So later today, I'll bring the frame upstairs from the storage area and see how it looks. I can't attach it yet anyway, since I need to take the painting to get the image capture from my usual wonderful experts at American Art in Annapolis.

I've already started my next painting, which is much smaller than this one, at just 11"x14". A few nights ago I dreamed of this spider painting and woke up feeling like I MUST create it. I know I just recently completed a spider drawing, but the idea behind that one was to be gross and scary and creepy on purpose since I created it specifically for the Halloween show at Gallerie 13. I guess I had the spiders on my mind, but the new spider painting is a more cheerful one- a spring time atmosphere with pastel yellows and greens in the background and a big mostly black spider in the foreground. I think I'll paint a wasp spider... they're pretty cool looking!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oyster Festival Poster Contest

I found out yesterday that my artwork was selected for the official posters of the 2009 St. Mary's County Oyster Festival & US National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest!

I've posted the artwork on my Facebook page! You can see it here:
http://www.facebook.com/SamanthasArtStudio

The Lexington Park Rotary Club and Maryland375 (St. Mary's County Tourism) sponsored a contest to design the poster for this year.
(It was hard to find information about exactly who sponsored the contest so if I'm leaving anyone out, please just leave a comment at the end of this post on my blog!)

Each year the US National Oyster Shucking Championship Contest is held at the St. Mary's County fairgrounds at the Oyster Festival. The winner of the contest goes on to compete internationally in Gallway, Ireland! The St. Mary's County Oyster Festival is an annual event that I've tried to attend each year for as long as I can remember, since I love oysters soooo much.

Momentarily stepping into the time machine.......
Apparently as a toddler, I was a pretty picky kid when it came to food. At a party, a friend of my parents started feeding me raw oyster after oyster, and lost track of how many of them I had eaten. Much to my parents' pleasant surprise, I didn't get sick from eating all those oysters! But it was one of the few foods that they could get me to eat as a kid... Go figure. Imagine my mom and grandma taking me out at lunch time and ordering sandwiches for themselves and oysters on the half shell for the kid! I heard they got some bizarre looks from some of the local restaurant staff.

If you've never been to an Oyster Festival or seen an Oyster Shucking contest, you should definitely make an effort to go. I didn't have much interest in the shucking until a friend of mine entered (and ended up winning!!) the amateur contest a few years ago. Watching the people shucking their trays of oysters was just amazing, especially since none of them even managed to severely injure themselves.

At the St. Mary's County Oyster Festival, there are also oyster cooking contests and demonstrations. Sometimes if you're lucky, after a contest or demonstration the chefs will pass out free... yes, FREE samples of the wonderful yumminess they've prepared! I had an oyster chowder sample one year and can I just say..... Heaven! I've even heard that people who don't like oysters at all often go and try oysters in some fashion that is new to them and find out that.... they do like oysters! Albeit minced and prepared in some kind of tomato based stew, but nevertheless.

For more information about the Oyster Festival, go here:
http://www.usoysterfest.com/


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Artsfest...


I had such a blast at Artsfest this year and was so excited that I was invited to show there again!
This year I was able to display on the pavement in the Tent Circle versus the Wooded Path. Don't get me wrong, I loved being in the woods, but wanted to try something different. Plus, both other shows I did this year were in the woods, so it was nice to be on some solid ground! :)

The best thing about being on the pavement was the spot that I was assigned: It was really really close to the entrance, which meant both of my grandfathers were able to come and see me. My grandfather who lives in Maryland takes walks every day, but I don't think he would have wanted to take the hike all the way back to my booth had it been in the woods. My grandparents from Virginia happened to be in town that weekend, too, so they also came by. My granddad had knee surgery a year or two ago, and still walks quite a bit, but I am not sure if he would have wanted to walk all the way back into the woods either.

It was neat getting to show them a little bit of what I'm doing now.

The weather during the weekend was PERFECT, and it was just a wonderful show to finish out my outdoor season.

This was also the first time I did a giveaway at a show, and congratulations to Kathleen who was the big winner! I'm still waiting to hear which print she picks.