madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
When last we visited Mad Shutterbug for a State of the Artist the calendar year showed 2014. In reality it's been about two and a half months, so mentioning only the calendar year is a bit misleading. Gregorian New Years Day transpired in the interim thus bringing us to 2015, but hey, it sounds really dramatic.
We've filled the time in between with a goodly portion of Ranch Work. Besides the usual daily things, Herself and I managed to get her Truck Garden (so called by me because her plan is to load up the produce into Forrest Nissan Pickup and truck it off to one or the other of our Farmers Markets... well, and eat some of it ourselves for sure) fenced. Reason for fencing, this will mostly keep Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out, as well as goats or cows that may wander by. Three sides of it are fenced with wire fabric, one side with plastic contractor fencing. That last we chose for three reasons, expense, expediency, and keeping Dirty Yard Bird Chooks out.

As to the latter, it seemed like it would work well enough, being as high as the wire. Mostly it does keep them out. There are a few who applied some brilliant thinking and figured out how to (barely) flutter over any given stretch of the fence. Those ladies are now marked for future residence in Chicken Tillers. What we didn't figure into the equation: Velvet Youngster Dog and her desire to be close to her Humans. Plastic netting and Velvet teeth are not a good match. Or, from Velvets point of view, not a bad match. We've more or less convinced her that it is a Bad Idea to chew holes in Moms Fence.

Expediency came into play because this is the last stretch that needed fencing, it crosses the drain field for Studio 318's septic tank and being light could run some distance with fewer posts, thus less hazzard to the drain field. On that note, it works very well. Regarding Expense, three 30-plus metre rolls cost less than the equivalent length of wire fabric. So overall we are fairly content with results so far.
Along with protecting the Truck Garden from marauders we also decreased the number of stomachs we feed and increased the amount of frozen meat in the stocks to go to Farmers Market. That involved two days and resulted in 270 kg of pork.

Over a portion of January and much of February we also dealt with several Freeze Alerts and Warnings. Over here in Baja Jorja, an Alert from the National Weather Service means that the specific weather is possible; a Warning means it will happen. This part of the world does see freezing temperatures. Unlike points further north (and much, much further south) duration and intensity are not as extreme. However, when the ambient temperature is at or below the point that water becomes a solid... it is cold.

Things like our water bibs where we provide fluid replenishment for Goats, Hogs and et cetera become at risk. The Goats and Horses require a bit more shelter than normal, and potentially some bedding. The Chooks definitely want some protection, but really that mostly means a wind-break because birds are pretty good at roosting together, and fluffing up feathers for dead-air-space insulation. Ditto for the Goats, actually, the don't mind cold so long as they're dry.

Each of those freezes came preceded by a fair amount of rain, and this is nominally our dry season. We managed to keep mostly everyone dry (Cows and Horses fend for themselves, sheltering under trees). So we got through it, without much problem, but with a lot of energy expense. Both ours, and I just received the electric bill and the House jumped by a couple hundred dollars from the previous month.

Ah well. Activities of Daily Living and all.

In between all of the above, I also managed to accomplish:
Shipping some pieces off to MarsCon in Williamsburg, Virginia for that Con art show
Completing applications for both the Orlando and Tampa NudeNite shows; Orlando invited one piece, Tampa invited neither piece.
Receiving notification that we are juried into the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival (Not Santa Fe New Mexico; Santa Fe College, here in Baja Jorja).
Getting a (mildly short) notice for a local Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Gainesville Fine Arts Association (Herself and I are members), submitting three pieces each and being invited one piece each for the show. That show is on-going until 9 March.
Matting more work to increase inventory stock for the upcoming GFAA Winter Fine Arts Festival at Tioga.

So, in order, more or less.

Preparing for these weekend festivals and other shows generally involves thinking at least six months ahead. The Call for Artists usually go out then, applications are readied, jury fees paid, and then we wait. A few festivals, particularly smaller local ones, will ask for the booth fee with the application, and when one sees the check clear the bank account one knows one is accepted into the event. More information follows, of course, but that's usually the first indication.

GFAA Winter Tioga, the SF Spring Arts Festival, and the two Nude Nite shows are more as described. So related to that, and more or less in order of completion of the application are these images. Usual disclaimer about Nude Art, If You Don't Like That Don't Look, Et Cetera.

Back in December though they didn't get shipped until a fairly short time before the event, I applied for my third time around with MarsCon in Virginia. The shipping took place a tad late compared to earlier years, in part because of Ranch Work aforementioned. Also because this year I shipped using the Brown Truck Folks (United Parcel Service). I found I could ship a larger package (thus some pieces matted up to 16x20) for the same fee the previous two years using United States Postal Service. Nothing sold, which is fine as I enjoy the vicarious thrill of attending the Con via my artwork (though sales are very nice). Return shipping proved a bit of a learning experience, as I needed to schedule that through the UPS web site. Learning occurred. More on that later, however.

Pieces submitted to MarsCon
MarsCon Art Submissions... not much nudity )

Orlando NudeNite (Event took place 12-14 February)
Completed application back around New Years Day, this one is juried and two pieces allowed. I submitted these – Gravidity #4 and I Shall Wear... a Red Hat #1. Red Hat #1 did not make the cut, however Gravidity #4 did much to my delight, as this is the second time I've tried getting pieces into the Orlando NudeNite without ever seeing the show and thus obtaining a good idea what the show is looking for.

Gravidity #4 is from a 2006 session with art model Shayden. She and her husband lived near Colorado Springs at the time, out on the western edge of the Great Plains. They would drive around their area and note on the map abandoned homesteads, then research the tax maps for who currently owned the properties. Then they would contact those owners, explain that as a professional model Shayden would occasionally work with photographers who came to them and ask permission to work on the land. Thus when I worked with her, we did work on just such an abandoned homestead. Shay was also eight months into her first pregnancy at the time.

Gravidity #4 )

Tampa NudeNite is the next show I applied to. This one I approached with a tad more confidence as I've been invited both previous years with at least one of the two images submitted. The first year was Kitsune Out of the Storm, and last year was Erotica in the Manner of Rembrandt. However, this year neither photo received an invitation. Alas and all that, however it did free up time to work on some other things, including a short notice application to the local GFAA Photography Exhibit at Santa Fe College.

We each submitted three images for the jury. We each received an invitation for one. Some of this may involve the physical space for the show, which is currently in the Presidents Gallery in Building F on the Santa Fe campus. From myself, Sumi-e Reality; from Herself, Up-Side Down World.

Sumi-e Reality )
This one I did up originally for That Camera Club which we once participated in, and their monthly competition. The subject, Reflections. The category, Creative, by which they mean anything not photo-realistic. So it's a bit of a manipulation, duplicating the basic image, applying a brush-work style filter which provided a portion of the title, then masking off the portion which needs to show 'Reality'. It's a good photo to start, one of my primary rules in any sort of composite (and this is a sort of composite, though of the one image alone). Start with good photos. Curiously, the sumi-e styling helps a lot compared (at least to me) to the reality of the houses in the photograph.

Up-Side Down World )
Now, the latter still is a bit of a debate between Herself and I. It's her image. Darn good one; primary subject Reflections and done for the monthly competition while we still played with the Ocala camera club (time, distance, and other issues caused us to re-think that). I tend to take the title as my cue in how to 'hang' the image. She hangs it in the manner she composed it. Both work.

Getting her piece printed, matted, and framed is one of the things I needed to work on which not making it into Tampa NudeNite provided. Still, I've got three more large prints to mat and frame that I intended for those two shows. Given a wee bit of time I'll get those done, and sooner rather than later so that large prints are protected better than being in the shrink-wrap from the lab.

However, increasing basic inventory is the current priority what with two more weekend festivals coming up. GFAA Winter Art Festival Tioga will be in two weeks (6-8 March), and includes a Friday night portion so it's a three day show. I've a bit more time before Santa Fe Spring Arts, which is held in Downtown Gainesville every year. This year it will be 11-12 April. I did up a quick blurb for our Farmers Market booth to let regular customers know about the two festivals, since we may not be setting up at the Farmers Market those weekends.Still, need to continue with basic inventory for that show as well is also a big priority.

So I've matted up a small batch of 8x10 prints from Herself photos, and a couple 11x14 prints of my photos. One of those is intended as a gift, the other will be sent off to another Con art show in the near future and the third which is already in inventory will be available at both Tioga and Spring Arts. Until it sells, of course.

Meanwhile, I also matted for framing a Big Print of In the Hall of Titans King. I've got an 11x14 framed in a 16x20 of that one. But hey, I like big prints so I couldn't resist.

I'm currently working on matting in a diptych format two of Herself's 8x10s which make up Deer Scarer. They're photographs of just that, a Japanese bamboo deer scarer at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. This is a simple device, a section of bamboo hinged, with the 'top' portion trimmed and set to fill slowly from a trickle of water from a well. Then, filled to the tipping point is smacks down onto a small stone making a loud noise, drains all the water, and lifts itself back into place to re-fill. We've only ever put out individually matted images of the two, and I've always seen it as a perfect diptych.

Well, that about covers it. Time now to get this loaded into the blog, then make the pitch, then get dressed and head out for more Ranch Work.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
One of the projects I've worked up over the past year (about as fast as either glacial advancement or melting... ) is creating Greeting Cards from some of our photographic art. The initial thought is getting something into an affordable price range which is also attractive and could bring more sales. After all, there are two means (as it were) to making 'The Nut' which is a shorthand term for Booth Fee, Expenses, and then we can look at Income. One is to sell a Big Price Ticket item, a framed print. This doesn't happen often. The other is to sell a larger quantity of Lower Price Ticket Items. That's where we're trying to go with this concept, add those smaller items that will be attractive.

It's not an original idea with or from me. I am frankly stealing the idea and filing off the serial numbers, though yes I'm putting our artwork out there as the subjects. Said another way, I've seen a lot of artists at the weekend festivals selling Greeting Cards. Go for it.

This project involves then three parts. Part the first, develop the Art. (Since we're talking Photography here, Pun Intended.) Part the second, design the Card. Part the third, actual production which involves acquire materials (Cost of Goods Sold on the Schedule C for Uncle Irs) and then presentation.

So. Part the First you've seen as we go along in these State of the Artist postings. Still, related to this project my start-up last year involved images done up as Holiday Cards (sold a few, eh) yet not necessarily the images of which I sell prints fairly regularly. The cards sold last year included a couple images of mine and one of Herself's. I'd also printed a few which are scenic or site specific for the North Central Baja Jorja area here, those didn't sell as well. Total inventory at that startup, around a dozen cards which included the card, an envelop, and a transparent sleeve/bag holding both.

Then we sort of sat on the concept for a while, taking that small amount of stock to the other weekend Art Fair shows after the 2013 Holidays and putting them out. Not majorly, basically on a small table, and very, very low key presentation. Coming up on the 2014 Holidays we revisited, decided to print some more, and work up at least a small display that will handle an inventory around a score of cards.

Did some research now, looking at sales records over the past looking for which images sold. One of those is titled 'Peek-a-Boo' of a Tom Turkey at nearby Dudley Farm State Historical Site (a very cool park which is a Florida Cracker farm, maintained in a manner around the Turn of the Century 19th - 20th time). Another is my rather abstract and Sci-Fi/Fantasy image, Naiad. Didn't get that one printed up yet as a Greeting Card, did print up 'Peek-a-Boo'. Also looked at some of the Critter Cards we've discussed and printed up some of those.

So that's the Make the Art side so far.

Now, here's another aspect of the project that I'm going to taught. The software to develop both the art and the product (greeting cards) is Open Source Software, free to a good home. That I use Gimp for the art work, photographic post-production I've mentioned before. For producing the cards, we need a document layout application, perhaps more familiar to you as a Desktop Publishing program. Ahem.

So the 'State of the Art' here is still probably an Adobe product called Pagemaker®. Got several hundreds of dollars? Go buy it. A good alternative that I've used in the past is Microsoft Publisher® which for a time included some features that Pagemaker didn't. It's actually one of the few Micro-Shaft products I recommend. Discovered earlier this year, that's probably because Micro-Shaft purchased the application from the company that developed it, as in not an in-house initial product. Ah.

However, earlier this year while researching this whole Open Source Software movement, I came across Scribus®. The version I acquired is 1.4.3 and available through their web site and as mentioned, being Open Source is free. It may not have all the features of even Publisher but so far, it's meeting my now-a-days much less extensive need for a desktop publisher document layout application.

These desktop publishers shine by taking already written text (use a word processor for that, eh), then importing that into a 'Text Frame'. In a larger publication (a Newsletter, a Magazine) these text frames may be linked together and a story then continued over several pages. The application also provides Image Frames, for placing artwork, or small charts (spreadsheets or graphs) and et cetera.

For the Greeting Cards, I developed two 'template' files, one for the image on the card to be in Landscape orientation, one for Portrait orientation.

This is the Landscape:
Landscape Half-Fold Template )

This is the Portrait:
Portrait Half-Fold Template )

When I'm working up a new card design then, I first work up the image and get a 'print ready' copy at the size I need for a card. Hmm. Back up a wee bit.

So these cards I'm showing the templates for are called 'Half-Fold' because they work to a standard size sheet of paper or card stock (8.5x11 in the US, A7 elsewhere) and will fold in half. Another size is called a 'Quarter-Fold' because it could take that standard sheet, fold it in half and then half again (quarters) for a smaller card. What we do is first cut the standard sheet in half, then fold those halves for the smaller cards.

So I've got a 'print ready' image for a Half-Fold card, it's about a 5x7 photograph. Being print ready, I can print a 5x7 and then do the Mat & Sleeve thing for a matted piece to sell, or mat and frame it for a framed piece, and for a card I'm importing that 5x7 file into the Image Frame. This is usually the front of the card. Sometimes the cards will have an Inside as well; usually just another Image Frame on a Page Two in the template file.

In the Landscape template above you see an upside-down Text Frame. This will be right-side up after the fold. Another nice feature about Desktop Publishing programs is one can create the Text Frame, set it to be 'upside-down' and then when importing text into it (or, for the cards, I often type the minimal amount of text into it straight up) and approving the overall look, will be upside down as needed.
It's all right-side up on the Portrait card.

Once the card is ready to go in Scribus, I do a 'Save As' and name the card. For printing, in Scribus I simply export the card to a PDF file. The application will send direct to a printer, but that part of it sends it to an EPS which is Encapsulated Post-Script and which is a very professional printing house kind of machine. Some of the HP laser printers will talk EPS, so will quite a few ink-jet printers and it's a lot more involved either way. Saving the file as a PDF is simple. Then just open it up in Adobe Acrobat Reader (also free software, because hey, Adobe wants the Whole World to us PDF eh so make it easily readable to everyone) and send it to ones printer.

I mentioned 'Peek-a-Boo' above. Here is what he looks like as a print-ready Half-Fold card:
Peek-a-Boo )

The Quarter-Fold cards may also be known as a Two-Up because there will be two layouts on the template. Miss Truffles Pig provided the images for one of these (she's also available in a Half-Fold) last year as one of the Holiday cards because the markings on her nose remind us a bit of a Christmas Tree:
Truffles: Happy Holinose (Two-Up) )

I did mention other Critter Cards, and here's Houdini Border Collie Bro. Border Collies are Working Dogs, and there are many in the Dog World that consider Border Collies to be the Type A Workaholics of the Working Dogs. Always ready and able to help, eh! So one evening I slid my headband type of battery torch onto his head. Surprise, he liked it. Also, with the text in this one I'm looking for all the Ursula Vernon fans out there (and doing a wee bit of fan art as well):
Houdini: Remember Tunnel 17 )

Finally, because I do call them Art Greeting Cards and because the particular subject is one of my personal artistic passions, my dear friend and muse Marjai from the Red Hat series (warning, gratuitous nudity behind the cut)
Red Hat #4 )

We aren't done once the printing is over. The rest of the production work involves folding the Half-Folds, cutting and folding the Quarter-Folds, then pairing them with an appropriate size envelope, then placing all within a clear transparent sleeve/bag. Now we may add them to Inventory, store them in the Transport Tote (I'm using Really Useful Boxes® these days more and more, but that's another State of the Artist post).

For Presentation at the Festivals, now, this is the next step. Since we're keeping total inventory on hand for these down to about a score of cards or so the display is small. There are a ton of display options out there, most of them marketed for Brick Stores and all of those rather expensive. We need something that will fold down/collapse and pack quickly and yet be very sturdy. It's a rough life out there on the road and that's only partially a joke. So the bigger display/presentation is still under development. For right now, Herself found a small wire rack which is sold as a lid holder for kitchen pots. Works very well for the Landscape orientation cards, not so well for the Portrait orientation. I tried an acrylic one this past weekend we had about the Ranch (things like this just sometimes come to us... it's a bit of a story in itself) and that worked... except not quite well enough. So I'm still on a search for the Portrait display pieces. Still, this is what the Cards looked like at this past weekend Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair:
The Art Greeting Card Display at Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair )

Summary, or Tell 'em What You Told 'em

About a year ago we decided to expand our 'product line' to include Art Greeting Cards. Our goal is to offer another affordable bit of art, one which is usable as a greeting card, or yanno, be greedy and keep it yourself. Startup plans included keep expenses down, so we expanded on using our free Open Source Software applications. After trying to do this using Open Office components, we found, downloaded and installed Scribus, a publishing application and found it works great for this type of product. We're printing using an Epson Artisan 50® printer which while I didn't mention above I purchased specifically for this project. Pretty happy with the printer too. Sales are OK so far, good enough to justify continuing to build this part of the Studio 318 Product Line.

Shameless Self Promotion

So if you are interested in some nice Art Greeting Cards, drop me a line. If you've got my e-mail use that directly, otherwise leave a comment here and we'll work something out. No, don't have a place I'm selling on-line otherwise, but trust me, we can work something out.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Each show, each weekend art festival, brings new lessons, reinforces some lessons, and always, always the question: Will this setup grab enough attention to promote sales of my/our artwork this time around? No sales may not be a life-ending problem, and at the same time sale is one of the goals if only to kick some 'children' out of the house. The entire process is both involved and simple. This most recent go-around even provided an opportunity to review for myself once again, and begin to mentor someone starting on this same journey. It is not something which does well with an impulse to go and grab something by improvising. There is an infrastructure to working on selling a product, ones own artwork, and that infrastructure needs to be transported to site, easily unloaded and set up, then just as easily struck and loaded to go home.

We call the loading/unloading process the Show Tetris Game. Yes, it is named after that computer/video game of a decade ago, because what is being loaded comprises blocks going into a set volume of space. We've got two types of space as well, Forrest Nissan Pickup Truck and Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder also served, and provided a lot of learning. Sydney Younger is slightly larger, and that pays off.

In the past three weeks, we've done two weekend art festivals. One of those is a repeat show, with two years in a row now participating. The second is the first time for our participation, with the previous year being an attempt (as in we applied, and did not pass the jury). Life overall this year did impact on doing these two shows, and that is simply the way it is, so other than acknowledging the impact it isn't something to dwell upon and certainly not here. Here I'm going to look at each event in review, provide a brief summary of the event and sales, and discuss the process of showing ones art because that is what discussing with the newcomers covered.

Let us begin with the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival.

Micanopy is a small community in North Central Florida, located a bit south of Gainesville and a bit more north of Ocala, right in between two major roads, the I-75 and US 441. Settings in Micanopy provided scenes in at least two major cinematic productions, Cross Creek about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (who lived nearby while writing her many well known stories), and Doc Hollywood. The folk who live there enjoy the fact the place preserves a lot about a quieter time, and also provide a lot of support to local arts, crafts, and antiques collectors. Each year the community (or at least a lot of members of same) come together to produce the Fall Harvest Festival as a community fundraiser, and all their proceeds go to several different non-profit community agencies. So for us, much like the Windsor Zucchini Festival it's an event we like to participate in both to sell our work and to help provide to local community well being.

This means, sure I want to make back expenses to break even, but I'll keep on applying for this festival if I at least recover some of those expenses.

Micanopy allows for vender set-up on the Friday before the Festival, which runs both Saturday and Sunday. It is a pretty big deal for the town as a whole, even the folks who aren't participating, because it draws a Really Big Crowd. The main drag for the town is the site of the Festival, all traffic for the three days is routed one way (vendors, that is, as the main drag is then closed to general traffic other than by foot). The length of the road here (and calling it main drag is true, but we're talking about a two-lane road, not a highway at all) which is set up for the Festival is a bit longer than half a kilometre, about a third of a mile.

All the properties and routes around this are cordoned in preparation. Designated vendor parking is provided for vendors, and those who want to help provide parking for attending folk are allowed to charge for parking on their property. This probably provides the funds to recover from the amount of traffic involved. Those who don't want to provide parking, their places are cordoned off as Private, No Parking. Don't want to pay for parking? No worries, park on the right of way of US 441 out there, but plan on a short hike to get over to the festival.

Booth spaces are marked on the roads with spray paint, corner markers and booth numbers. Check in, get ones paper packet (includes booth designator sign, and some other bits), drive in to ones space, stop, unload, and drive out to ones designated parking area. Seriously, drive out before setting up or a lot of folks (not just the community residents) are going to be quite upset. Remember, two-lane road, eh.

After parking, walk back to booth space and start setting up. I don't usually bring the artwork with me on setup days, unless that day is also going to be an Opening Day (happens, some events). Setup of the basic pavilion runs like this:

Pavilion Up. Anyone who's gone to some sort of weekend art festival fair or a farmers market will know what the pavilion tent looks like. There are a variety of manufacturers and styles. Some are more rigid and a bit more involved in setup as the legs and roof pieces need assembly. Some are fairly easy, expanding frames. We've used some from several manufacturers over time. The one we're currently using is an EZ-Up® Instant Shelters® (Web site is EZ-Up® Instant Shelters®). We use this one not because we think it's the best (it is pretty good) rather because we got a good price on a new one at one of the major discount box outlet stores. Since there are a lot of them out there, and periodically weather or wind trash one so those folks toss it, we've also been known to grab those abandoned damaged shelters to disassemble for spare parts.

First step is expanding it, then raising it to the first height latch. At this point I've been putting on what I call the Weather Walls (EZ-Up calls them the Sidewalls, eh). These get 'furled' and secured in the up position for now. Next I place the wind weights, because these types of shelters do act as parachutes or sails in even a rather mild breeze. The company provided add-on feet to put weights onto. I use those, but also add a heavy canvas tote bag which holds three jugs of water. Two are repurposed soda water jugs, one is a repurposed liquid laundry detergent jug. Between the three there are eight litres of water, so about eight kilograms of mass. One each is placed at each corner on those add-on feet, then a strap and hook is fastened around the upright at the roof frame for belt and suspenders security.

Mind you, even with this much weight (eight kilos times four bags so 32 kilos) there have been festivals with enough wind that I've acted as an interactive additional ballast weight for the pavilion.

With the Weather Walls on and furled, and the weights on and secured, I hang the Art Walls. There are companies out there that make assorted display walls, rigid and flexible. We use a mesh wall because it is lightweight and folds up rather small (relatively) for storage and transport. Again, there are companies that make these walls and I went shopping for them on-line. And gasped. Needed a stiff drink, because a set of these to display in a 3 by 3 metre pavilion runs about $700 US. So we went shopping. For some time invested, and possessing some skills with sewing machines, we made our walls out of mesh shade fabric for about $20 US per wall. We run grommets along all four sides. Ball bungee cords (looped bungees which close in a ball, eh) through the grommets and around the frame of the pavilion and the Art Wall is in place.

The first year we did this, we also inserted a PVC tube into a sleeve along the top to help distribute the weight of the hanging framed artwork. After that first year, I flipped the curtains over and that tube goes into the same sleeve just along the bottom. The curtain attaches securely enough to the frame of the pavilion (this is one of the benefits to us of the EZ-Up design) that the tube mostly helps the wall keep its shape and the pavilion bears the weight.

With the Art Walls up, it's time to finish raising the pavilion to working height. Sometimes that doesn't happen until the next morning, though, just before hanging artwork and opening.

We've a small assortment of furniture which comes along with us. Two tall directors chairs (folding chairs) because being in the booth for eight hours, one does appreciate being able to sit down. Our first setup for holding the matted artwork (we sell more matted work than framed, another bit for discussion later) involved a folding table and the transport bins. We've since shifted to using two folding canvas racks that hold a portion of the matted work. As pieces sell, we replenish the stock in the rack. These are put inside the pavilion on setup day and left with the kit.

Much of the supplies for this and some other items transport in a hinged-lid tote box. This includes the Booth Banner (currently, and will stay there but the main Booth Banner is a bit different now), a Bag-o-Bags holding shopping bags for those customers that need one when they purchase something, a roll of paper towels, a small tool box with odds and ends in it for the setup, and a nice repurposed teak breakfast tray table. I set the tote into a corner, cover it with a blue cloth, and put the teak table on top of that. Holds a few things on the table, the paper towels and other small bits for ongoing display work go under that on the tote.

On Setup days, it's now time to close up for the night, go home and finish things on the Ranch.
Next morning (day of show usually) on arrival I park whichever vehicle I came in, and unload the framed and matted artwork totes. Framed work is currently being transported in large corrugated board boxes and a few recycled portfolio bags. I like the bags, they're easy to move (comparatively) and rather a bit more weather resistant than the corrugated board boxes. However, the boxes are fairly inexpensive which makes up for it; portfolio bags are not so inexpensive though they do last longer.

Haul this over to the booth pavilion on collapsible hand-trucks, usualyl two to three trips, then it's time for coffee and getting the setup done. Framed art hangs on the mesh walls using drapery hooks. Once that's up, each piece is labeled using a business-card sized pin-on name badge holder. Each framed piece has a corresponding name card which says Studio 318, the Title of the piece, which of us made it, and the price. Simple, easy to print, looks very professional. Once the walls are done, putting matted pieces into those folding racks takes maybe ten minutes.

Add assorted other small signage (“We take the following Debit/Credit Cards”, “Buy Local, Support Local Artists”, and “Artist Blurb(s)” which, that last, I find rather difficult to write up.

By now, it's time to roll up the Weather Walls and Open Up.

Set up, it usually looks something like this:
Micanopy, 1024x )

Come closing time I drop the front wall (We're Closed) which allows me to pack up the matted work, clear the floor slightly by folding those racks and leaning them against our tall directors chairs, and then take down the framed work into those boxes. I don't like leaving the artwork there overnight, it's paper, even with the protection it's vulnerable to damp and wet. So I pack it back out to the vehicle, come back and close up all the weather walls.

The Art Piece Name Tags and drapery hooks stay where they are though, so the next morning setup takes far less time. Pack in the artwork, hang, adjust the matted racks. And Open for Business.

Each show will be slightly different, but not much. Both sides will hold art, and the back wall will vary between being a half-wall, a three-quarter wall or a full wall. Some festivals allow the artist vendor some space behind their booth. Others do not. Sometimes we've either enough space between booths or we're on a corner of some sort, and we hang one or a few pieces on the outside of the Art Wall.

Most festivals inform the accepted vendors that the festival will go on rain or shine, which is one reason the Weather Walls are put on as well. And yes, we've dropped them for rain. Rain often thins the crowd, thin crowds do tend to buy less, so it goes.

The Downtown Art Festival, the setup looked like this:
Downtown Fall Art, 1024x )

At the end of the Festival it's time to strike the set, pack up again and go home. So we're back to the Show Tetris. Forrest Nissan is a bit easier to load into, being a pickup truck. Sometimes though, particularly if we know the weather threatens rain, transport in the Subaru is preferred. Sydney Subaru Outback the Elder could fit most of the kit. With the addition of the chairs though, things got... excessive tight. We'd started thinking about a small trailer, or a roof rack (and in fact, used the roof rack on several occasions with good weather). Sydney Subaru Outback the Younger is as I've mentioned a bit longer, wider, and higher than Sydney Elder. We will still, likely, get to a point that a small trailer is going to be needed.
Here's the Show Tetris into Forrest Nissan after Micanopy:

Nissan Load-up )

Herself remarked when I got home and we started unloading on Monday Morning (left it all under the tarp Sunday night, home safe and protected from wind and other weather, besides, good forecast) that it is all primarily one layer. What's on top of the totes are the two collapsible hand trucks. The directors chairs went onto the middle column of totes before folding over the tarp.

That middle column of totes are 32 Litre Really Useful Boxes® (Web site Really Useful Boxes Inc. Really Useful Boxes) and we're using more and more of them. They are tough, lightweight, weather resistant boxes with a good positive lid seal. The one on the end holds the Art Walls, because I learned after pulling the pavilion tote out to prep for the fall season that over the summer, palmetto bugs got into the blue tote. Needed to clean the Art Walls of (ahem) nasty dirt. The matted work is in the other two.

The long blue tote across the back on the left of the truck is the pavilion tote. In front of that is another tote, don't recall the company, holds framed artwork up to 11x14 frames (so 8x10 prints, or smaller). The corrugated boxes behind the cab hold the larger framed pieces. The pavilion shelter itself is in the long black bag to the right. Weight bags behind each wheel well. The grey roll in front of the matted totes are two foam shop floor pads. They make being on pavement in the booth (a common situation) easier on the feet and legs.

Because we did get some rain, overnight Saturday to Sunday for the Gainesville Downtown Art Festival, I drove Sydney Subaru Outback in on Sunday. I'd taken everything into town on Saturday Morning for setup. Part of the Festival is set up in City Hall parking lot, and City Hall didn't want to close for business on Friday for vendors to set up. Well, actually, since five to six city blocks hosted all the vendors for the Festival, that would tie up traffic pretty much. Plus, the Friday Night Kickoff included a live band in the Bo Didley Plaza. At any rate, Setup took place Saturday morning and I took it all in the Nissan pickup.
So coming home with the kit, the concern was would it all fit. We thought it would, but Herself did text and ask should she come help. I felt confident and told her no. The first time Tetris game went pretty well, considering loading after dark albeit with street light illumination. And...

Subaru Load-up, Rear )

It did, as you can see, all fit in. The corrugated boxes sat behind the front seats.

Subaru Load-up, Driver Rear )

The Weather Walls up to this time we packed into a pocket on the EZ-Up pavilion bag. However, I didn't pack them this time, being concerned they still felt damp from the previous night rain.

Subaru Load-up, Passenger Rear )

They now live in another of those Really Useful Boxes. It may ad to the layering, we shall see. The pocket on the big bag will still be used, for other items which the pavilion will need periodically. The kit came with two short metal tubes which support a sun shade we sometimes put across the front, and we are building supports for the back wall to stretch it out during the day as another shade source for the 'back room' of the booth when we can.

There is always something going on. I expect the Studio 318 Booth itself may be considered a Work In Progress. There's more to discuss, even, since one of the visitors to the booth on Sunday is half of a young couple looking to start showing their own photographic artwork. This led to some thinking and recollection about those who helped us as we started gearing up. There are folk out there who proved not too forthcoming with us. Others proved very helpful. I remember them with fondness, and did my best to answer the questions asked. So another State of the Artist is going to look at the process of setting up ones business as an artist showing at weekend art festivals.

Tonight, though, it's time for beer. G'night.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
I remember fondly Pogo by Walk Kelly, and one of my more favourite memories of the gang from the Okeefenokee is someone running around when the 13th of a month fell on some other day than Friday. Often they decried that it fell on a Sunday, but any day would serve.

Today (somewhat related as a State of the Artist) it is pertinent to me due to another date, the Ides of October. We filed an extension on our income taxes back in April. Close is good in horse shoes, hand grenades and thermonuclear devices. Doesn't work with the Tax Man though. And of course then I procrastinated until Oh Look Deadline. Apparently though the only thing I actually procrastinated about involved transcribing the mileage log from Forrest Nissan Pickup. Once I completed that, stepping through the process using tax preparation software (I happen to use TurboTax, I have used HR Block as well in the past) took less than 10 hour. Not bad for the 1040 with W2, two Schedule C forms (one for the Art, one for Herself), a Schedule F for the Ranch (which is where the mileage for Forrest comes in to play) and dividends reporting.

This year we also received a credit for the roof repairs last year to the Big House, since the materials we chose qualify for energy conservation.

So now that's done, printed, ready to sign and mail off. We do need to mail it as well, since a Schedule F for Farm can not be e-filed. Why not, I wonder? After all, connectivity is coming to the most rural of places, whether by land or by sky. However, by snail post it is to go.

This means, of course, that taxes aren't really over... it's time to start working up the bits and pieces for the 2014 taxes. ::sigh::

I can though commit more time to working on matting up current work for two more upcoming Art Festivals. In three weeks time we shall be at the Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival. If you are local (and yes, folks over in Tampa/St. Pete or Orlando or Jax, this is relatively local to you) come on over and see the Festival on Saturday / Sunday November 1 & 2. Studio 318 will be in Booth #49. Along with matting up those pieces, I need to work up a bit of my own publicity blurb for folks at Hospital. Likely I shall work on that on Thursday Morning.

I need to but up a posting about the other pieces that went off to the Necronomicon Convention Art Show (with Pretty Pictures) however that too shall wait. Herself is off to Tioga Farmers Market just now, and I've got Puppy Watch and Ms. Vel will need time to run outside here shortly. We'll combine this with Evening Rounds so Mr. Houdini can continue showing her the routines. She's growing and growing, weighed in at 10 kg for her 10 week clinic office visit. This is the point when the Humane Society likes to neuter those pets which will be adopted, but Vel is now bigger than their facility can handle. So she's going to need an appointment over at the University College of Veterinary Medicine for that. She's already outgrown the two smaller travel crates for transport in vehicles. Gonna be a big dog is Ms. Vel.

On that note, time to post this and head out and about.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Is tired. Big surprise, I suppose, since this may be a frequent description. Work is coming along on matting pieces for the upcoming Necronomicon Art Show, more to go and likely to come down to the last minute (as usual). Planning on getting up to eight pieces framed, and some duplicates of those pieces matted and sleeved to take along. All of this, as usual, fits inside other business such as Going to Hospital for work tours, Ranch Chores and Duties, and now an additional bit.

Month and a bit ago, Herself and I adopted four kittens who'd been fostered at a friends place. All of them were either gathered or otherwise turned in to the next over county Animal Control Service, and as quite young kittens though with their eyes open already. First week or so proved interesting, though we provided the Young Kittens with a private space to slowly introduce them to the KittenzOfApocalypse. This proved a successful plan and over then two weeks or so from first introductions the elder KittenzOfApocalypse accepted the Young Kittenz. Perhaps the introduction of the 'Red Dot' (a laser pointer to play with kittens) helped...

The Young Kittehz )

Chaucer proved the slowest to warm up to Houdini Border Collie Bro. Houdini, for his part, felt some concern. He grew up with cats around, and indeed the KittenzOfApocalypse are good friends with him. The newcomers didn't seem so friendly at first, often exhibiting 'Leaky Kitty Pressure' syndrome with hissing and bottled tails. Bleau cottoned first, he being quite the extrovert, and with the example of their elders the KittehzOfApocalypse even Chaucer calmed down when Houdini was about.

Chaucer received his name from the Agency; he was found near to one of the major library buildings on University campus, alone and wee as mentioned. I started thinking a dog probably caused his separation from mother and siblings. Given some additional data, I am much firmly of this opinion.

Then, last week and because we somewhat lucked into the connection, we brought another youngster out to The Ranch.
Vel & Houdini First Meeting )

This is Vel, or Val, short for Velvet Valkyrie. She was the only surviving pup in a litter of six, the other five being stillborn. Her dam would not accept her, what with the rest of them all being dead, and that family contacted the Animal Control folks for help, being unable to cope with an infant pup needed every two hour feedings and such. Local Animal Control Agency has a network of volunteers willing and able, and as it happened the volunteer who received Vel gets her goat milk supply through us. She told us we might be interested in this pup, and indeed we are.

We felt some concern at how Houdini would cope with a new addition. He grew up with his brothers, and there is some exposure to other dogs in his life. Not all of them were friendly. Based on evidence so far, Houdini is an excellent Uncle. Including that prerogative of Uncles to turn the youngster back to the 'parents' when he's had enough.

However, we are now also re-learning just how much energy a seven week old pup sports. Interrupted sleep is Us. Officially we are 'fostering' her for another three weeks until she hits the age at which Animal Control Agency will adopt out. It is our intention to adopt her at that time.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
A long time ago in a galaxy not very far away, actually, I told Myself, Myself I need to do a blog entry like at least weekly on the State of the Artist. Things where I discuss art, philosophy, projects I'm working upon, maybe show samples, and include bits and pieces from Real Life because, hey, artists live in Real Life.

Myself didn't laugh. Quite.
Meditations on Life and Art, Interactive, Have Fun )

So that will be another posting, and hopefully will happen soon because I'm a tad time-limited on how soon I need to sell Sydney Elder. There's another State of the Artist meditation that involves these Subarus as well, about Subaru owners, and Houdini, Subaru advertisement campaigns and Ed A Guy His Age.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Well, with a Long Time No Post, things what happened.

Pursuant to the subject above, on Friday past I bid adieu to Mr. Gallbladder. Our relationship never proved an unpleasant one, nothing stony about the course nor such. However a few months back I received a letter from my urologist, follow-up on last October appointment to check on kidney stones. The ultrasound done then (stones light up brightly on US, being hard and all) showed no stones to the urologist and he simply wanted me to know the radiologist agreed. Except, the radiologist did see a polyp in Mr. Gallbladder. Polyps being pesky things that may be affiliated with cancers, a visit to a general surgeon seemed in order and Ta Ta Mr. Gallbladder.

Doing well, little pain, rather more ache, and adjusting diet in steps. Should be back to work at Hospital some time next week. Meanwhile, on some lifting restrictions until the four laparoscopic wounds heal completely.

Shortly before the Day of Separation, faithful old Sydney Subaru Outback started overheating. While I carry extra fluids on board (both coolant and oil, the flat opposed 'box' engine Subaru uses tends to use oil rather more noticeably than more conventional engines) he still showed signs of continuing to overheat. Off to the Growly Beast Doctor (our mechanic) who confirmed the head gasket is compromised. Were Sydney a younger bloke of an auto I'd consider more extensive work to keep him running. At 326 K km plus (204 K plus miles) not so much. So we shall be shopping for a replacement and are discussing exactly what to do here.

In between this and weekly Farmers Markets where our local produce of meats, goats milk, goats milk cheese, goats milk fudge (Oh My) and fresh produce as the garden yields is selling fairly well. That is become a tad more 'interesting' for the next few weeks with my lifting restrictions, both on loading Forrest Nissan Pickup and setting up. We've managed with help from our dairy goat provider friend and partner, but both parthers in the 'ship are looking at other commitments on the next couple of weekends. Busy could be good, but truly we'd considered (before knowing exactly when the surgery would be) that I'd be continuing the Markets.

Ah well. Such is life.

Art projects are moving slowly, though some progress is being made. I am generating a reference library of paper types as I 're-learn' printing, and getting ready to expand the types I shall reference. More on that as it develops (pun intended). A few prints sold over the past quarter, nice bit of extra. Two Autumn shows to which I applied for entry (three should be, been looking for the paperwork on that site hasn't shown yet) and heard back from one. Tried getting into this one last year, didn't make the jury. Did this year, now need to cough up the booth fee, deadline in July. Should be able to do that next week. The other I am expecting to hear from nearer the end of June. Once I've paid the booth fee for the former I'll formally announce the venue, ditto for the latter.

Pieces in progress are primarily composite work, science fiction themed. Did some research to verify and it is apparently the case, images available from NASA are in the public domain (since they are funded by tax moneys). NASA requests only acknowledgement that they are indeed NASA images and the mission upon which they obtained the source (so, Hubble Telescope, Cassini Probe for examples). Provides a wonderful source for astronomical imagery.

Houdini BorderCollieBro is still hanging with us, showing some signs of his soon to be 12 years. During the past winter (unusually cold for this part of Baja Jorja) he preferred to be indoors at night. Through the Spring and still, now into summer, he wanted to be outside at night. So be it, despite his occasional wandering ways he doesn't go walkabout at night (that I know of). Since we provide a means to get back into the house, when teh Sky Grumblers (thunderstorms) show, he hies himself back in and hides beside me.

Doesn't seem to faze the fox that's started visiting, unfortunately, and snagging some of the younger Dirty Yardbird chooks. We've escalated the projects of clearing brush and making more Chicken Tillers since Fox hasn't bothered any of the birds in the tillers, mostly only the group that insists on roosting in trees and being total Free Range Spirits. Woe betide Fox, though, should Herself spot him/her and she is setting an alarm at random intervals to go make night time rounds. With her Ithica. Which, if she uses it I expect to find Houdini hiding beside me shortly after.

Enough for now. Getting to be time for Evening Rounds, which include feeding two kids.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Over there on the LJ side of the inter webs, the appearance has changed again.

Over there on the LJ side of the inter webs, once upon a time long long ago when I possessed more disposable income I purchased a permanent membership. So I keep cross-posting from here to there. Because, hey, I can.

However, I find myself supremely dis-interested in the recent changes over there. So long as cross-posting keeps working, anyway.

Pizza for dinner tonight, brought to you by Herself's Country Kitchen. As in, our place. Yes. Home-made pizza. Mine. Eat yer hearts out, inter webs.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Been thinking I need to get one of these done for a while, and I keep running into things which … seem more important. Work on the Ranch. Work at Hospital. Something else comes along. And no writing about the State of the Artist.

This is both good and frustrating. Good, because things are being accomplished. There is a goodly amount of cleanup happening around the Ranch. We are changing up on some of the regular things we do, getting things ready to go to (we hope) better manage this small corner of the Universe we call home. And some of that is cleanup, literally, gathering up a huge quantity of empty feed bags from delivery for example, and preparing to move that along to, well, The Dump. The paper bags, those we recycle and repurpose pretty much overall. However, at least half our feed comes in white plastic-y woven type bags, and those aren't quite as recyclable. We'd like to, haven't found a manner for it yet. So they've accumulated, and they need to go away. Cleanup time.

Chicken tillers, and if you don't know what those are Google is your friend, we use them a lot. Brief definition, an open wire fabric enclosure, fairly small and easily portable. Ours are made to hold from three to a half dozen or so hens and a rooster. Every few days to a week or so, we then move them along by their length or width onto fresh ground. Meanwhile, the birds withing stir up the ground as they look for more food (they do get fed by us as well) and woe betide any flying or crawling insect that wanders within (remember, open wire fabric, eh). Chickens are omnivores, and watching them hunt reminds us of the velociraptors, at least as depicted in the Jurassic Park movies. We've been making and adding some of these to the Ranch, since our egg sales at Farmers Markets are one of our most popular products. This includes refurbishing a couple which friends who were keeping urban chickens opted out of that pastime and gave us their back yard enclosures.

Hospital... hm. Well. 32 years and counting. Enough said.

As for Art, well off and on I've been working on a few different projects, and perhaps struggling a tad in keeping organised in both that and in maintaining inventory for the Studio 318 art festival booth. Plus, we just concluded the 2013-14 Weekend Festival Season with the Windsor Zucchini Festival (insert link as found). The last four festivals we've done then (Micanopy in October, Blue Oven Kitchens in November, GFAA Winter Fine Arts at Tioga in March, and now the Zucchini) have been, well, not total washes. We've sold art, though we've not made expenses. As a business, this isn't great, however it does all go onto the books and helps. That we've sold art at all tells me the overall economy, and peoples feelings about it, is doing well enough. That we've not made expenses tells me people are still feeling somewhat conservative about 'fun money' and how much they've got.

Staying organised with inventory is part of conducting a business in selling photographic art (or any art, really). It tells the business owner how much money is tied up in inventory (the goal is something like, oh, 'Just Enough' to be able to satisfy a demand quickly but not so much as to be sitting there idle), and which items sell the most frequently. I count something as In Inventory when I've finished matting and mounting it, with a label and then a transparent sleeve to protect it from most of the elements. Then it is a salable item, I can put a price on it, so it's in inventory.

I don't count the items which are printed, but waiting for me to mount, mat, label and sleeve. On the one hand, such prints are money expended and waiting to be recovered. On the other hand, they aren't salable in that status. And I'm doing fairly well in keeping those down to a minimum. It helps, getting better with Mr. Printy (tm Ursula Vernon, thx). This allows me to print up to 8x10 or 8x11 ish sized items, including prints and art greeting cards, here and not at the printing lab I use for large items. Saves me a bit of money though do not ever think that printing those bits of art you may be thinking about buying is free to the artist. Costs time and materials, eh. Simply, smaller items able to do close to home saves production costs.

There are less than a half-dozen really big prints waiting for mats, mounts, frames or sleeves. And I've sold one recently, which is nice. I've not added large matted prints to inventory quite yet; transport requires something large enough to do such safely. The largest pieces we routinely take to Festival shows are mat outside sizes in the range of 11x14 to 11x 17 or so. There are a couple dozen smaller prints (print sizes up to 8x10 or 8x12 ish) waiting to be matted sleeved. Not too bad, and one of the things the Summer Hiatus from outdoor festivals here in North Central Baja Jorja is good to accomplish. I can and do this work indoors, in air conditioning.

We had big hopes for the sale of Art Greeting Cards and did OK around the holidays, but not great. This could be related to display/marketing. That's something to work on during the Summer Hiatus as well.

And this fellow, behind the cut because I still think about bandwidth (viewing on smartphones or tablets that may not be connected to wireless burns the data plans, eh), this fellow is who helped keep the Zucchini Festival from being a total wash. Anecdotal response on my part says he is one of our most frequent sales, but my current inventory system isn't keeping really good track of sales so pulling that out takes a bit of time. Time I didn't spend yesterday evening after striking setup on site, getting home, unloading Forrest Nissan Pickup and helping with some of the Evening Rounds before cleanup and dinner. So getting the bloody inventory into a good, functional database is also on the agenda for the Summer Hiatus. Artist as Businessperson. Yah, that's one of my favourite things to do.

Still, yes, one of our more popular based on sales items:

Peek-a-Boo, image is a link, feel free to follow for larger viewing pleasure )

And, because it't that day, Happy Mothers Day to all who are, and to those who are not by choice or otherwise, Happy To You Too Day. Personally, I must admit it's been a while since I thought much about my own mother, being that it's been nigh on 18 years since she shuffled off this mortal coil. Not forgotten, not often in my thoughts. Recently, though, yes. Mom, thank you for all you did, when you did it, and for being you.
madshutterbug: (c)2004 by Myself (Weather Wet)
However, there is some resolution. Still not going into details, not because I want to be mysterious but because, mmm, rather a close subject. Suffice to say I received a wake-up call. And for a time, that wake-up call didn't show exactly what direction to move, though the general direction proved obvious. Now, it's settled in a bit. Still a tad precarious. Settled. A bit.

'Tis raining here in North Central Baja Jorja today. Parts south on the Peninsula are receiving more attention from the nasties than we are. Houdini is, none the less, staying as close to me as he can so I suspect he feels it. Like myself, Houdini is becoming an Old Fart, and one of these days... will come along far too soon, no matter what. So I happily provide him some 'Bubble of Kewl' and he does the same for me, he does.


Apr. 30th, 2014 07:06 am
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Are still on the strange side. Life is all a bit in a flux.

But then again, when isn't it?

Meanwhile, two applications for Autumn weekend art festivals into the mail yesterday. The deadline for one of them is the first of May, the second the middle of June. Yet it seemed a good idea to get both into the mail and therefor as done as I can get them. There is another one I need to start following up right soon as well. Been distracted, see above, still not able to go into details about distraction.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Default)
I've... not posted anything in a month and a bit. And nothing at all Artist related in several months. It's...

Well, this quote does say it all. Not that it's over yet.

"What a long, strange trip it's been."
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Here on the Ranch. Up early (not so early as a Go To Hospital day) and a wee bit of work on a couple of my Works In Progress. A bit more of catching up with some correspondence. Then out to feed the Ranch Critters, unload the feed delivery, and get cleaned up to head into town for my dental appointment. Cleaning. And exam.

The Dentist I see, well, we've a long-term relationship. My record number in their system is a two-digit number. He was still new enough in his practice when I first saw him, that he did my first cleaning and exam rather than a hygienist doing the cleaning then he doing the exam. Now he's added a New Young Dentist to the practice, and I expect it is the transition to retirement which I've seen in other medical private practices.

The good news there is, the entire feel from this first exam is positive. Think this will be a good transition. The bad news there is, I've a couple cavities which will need fillings. These are the first two in ... many years. Many. Crowns? Yes I've needed several, and that's one thing. Consider myself lucky I've only needed one root canal. I suppose that one also needed a filling, since the root canal needed to be done through one of the crowns. Different practitioner did the root canal though. Not sure that counts, exactly. Most of the fillings in my teeth were put there by my current Dentist, although a few of them are re-do fillings left from my days as a Federally Subsidised Tourist.

Those days and the dental care associated with them are a whole other story.

As it goes, I'll be going in to get these two new fillings in three weeks, actually a bit less. I expect it will be the New Dentist doing them. In an odd way, I'm looking forward to this. As a test. Will dental care life continue to be the relatively pleasant thing it's been, or will I be looking for a ... different Dentist?

Stay tuned. Just don't hold your breath.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Bit rainy over the weekend, then a couple days of sun to help us dry out. After the hard freeze nights last week, we warmed up and in fact parts of a couple days felt rather warm indeed. Amazing how quickly one becomes accustomed to extremes, such that more normal temperatures for the time of year feel hot. We are expecting more rain this evening, including thunderstorms again. Yes, odd weather. Odd indeed. And then, in a couple more days our overnight temps will hit freezing again, though not as low and potentially not as long as the hard freeze.

Still, we shall cover Herself' garden again, and most of the Dirty Yard Birds still have their windbreaks in place.

On a photography front, visited with some friends yesterday just up the road a bit. Herself met with several people there for a SCA related group on historical styles and techniques in embroidery. While she did that I visited with my blacksmith friend S, and silently grumped at myself at one point for not bringing one of the cameras. Other than the iPhone that is. Used that to photograph the exhaust stack of one of S' gas-fired forges while he and another acquaintance worked on learning how to braze a thread onto an axle to make the screw and nut for a post vise.

For them it is much about the journey; acquaintance is making the post vice for herself. There are such out there to be had, if one shops around in appropriate places. However, she's decided to make her own. Cool.

I photographed the flames coming out the exhaust stack. This forge sounds like a jet engine when operating, even if not quite as loud. The exhaust is a rectangular flue... S made the device himself. One of the things blacksmiths might do, don't you know. I grabbed a couple dozen photos with the iPhone, which is a respectable point and shoot camera (particularly if one knows some tricks. Guess what, eh!) and provided at least 'sketchbook' material. I will be setting up on another occasion with a somewhat more versatile camera. Photographs of flames, could be quite useful to someone building a larger image from pieces and parts, don't you know.

That's about it for now. Short update, yes. Continuing to wait on jury results for several shows, don't know yet, no I'm not chewing fingernails thank you. Partly that's because I keep them trimmed rather short for Hospital, eh. Not much to chew on anyway.
madshutterbug: (c)2000 by Myself (Weather Cold)
Today is going to be a distracting day. Not a lot of Art is going to be accomplished here, since we are expecting some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in this part of Baja Jorja, in like ever. As in below the freezing point of water. Going to be working hard on the Ranch making sure the critters have what shelter they do and stoking their furnaces with some good eats for the day. Fresh bedding into their shelters. And last thing before heading to the house, disconnect the water points so that even if the tubes freeze, they won't burst because the water will be drained.

Herself and the Garden... well, it is planted with cold-hardy produce and we will still be giving them shelter as well. Planting wire hoops over the rows, then spreading plastic sheeting over that to provide a dead air space around the plants. Even with cold temperatures, that zone will remain slightly warmer and probably enough to keep the plants from being harmed. There are some young trees which will be moved as they are still in their planters. Those will be temporarily located between one of the big chicken shelters and Studio. There's a gap of about two metres there, and should (between the birds and the building) be slightly higher temps and again, still air.

The Barn is a metal roof pole barn, usually open on all sides for ventilation. Now, using tarps and supports, it is somewhat more closed off on the north and west walls, with windbreak provided a bit past the ends. The Bucklings and another smaller pen of young does both needed new tarps for their 'temporary' and movable shelters, those are acquired and one installed already.

That's the big item for the day. Spent yesterday either whipping through all the routine chores or out purchasing some of the things we'll need today. Laundry is nearly totally done, one more load to empty out of the washer (item been soaking overnight), then that too needs to be cold-protected. Cold protection there involves hanging a trouble-light by the washer hookups, after disconnecting those, and turning the light on. Even a fluorescent bulb will put out some heat, enough to keep things from freezing.

Thus not much Art will be accomplished. I mentioned looking at the papers from Red River, and Herself looked at them also now. Did not yet start printing on them, in part for the above mentioned Ranch things and in part for another Time Of The Year chore. Therefor not much to report there. There is another Art Related item to report on, though and off we go.

Some years back I received an introduction to Flickr. At the time this site provided some of the best exposure at economical prices short of establishing ones own domain on the Web. When Yahoo acquired the site, an easy means to import the photos I'd hosted via Yahoo came along. So did a certain... foreboding I suppose. There was a reason I'd stopped loading photos onto Yahoo. Received a couple inquiries about using photos I posted there in publications of some sort. Always for free, you know, good exposure for me and all that.

After some time then I started looking around and feeling some annual angst about renewing the subscription at Flickr (Madshutterbug on Flickr... one of the things about Flickr I don't like is no custom URL and it is a long one to get to the photos...). Changes in the past year accentuated that angst, though I've persevered through them. One reason is the statistics provided there, and over time (and sheer volume of photos posted, I suppose) the number of 'daily views' trended upwards. When I first discovered the statistics, I felt excited by a peak of 15 views in one day! Now, daily views averages between 30 – 50 views and peaks are in the hundreds and not infrequent.

Images are showing up on web searches and getting exposure that way, I'm sure. Still, the annual angst rears its head. Lots of reasons to stay (nearly all the images posted here as a 'Photo Blog' are hosted from Flickr, so changing things would require a lot of editing), including simple inertia.

One of the alternatives I tried is Deviant Art (Madshutterbug on Deviantart if you want to go look). And while I like that alternative, I am also not overwhelmingly enthusiastic. (I know the answer involves that whole domain name thing. Yes. I know that.) My thoughts revolving around DA at first came from a core of putting my more Art work there and leaving Flickr for like everything else. And, indeed, there isn't a large volume of work hosted there, 58 pieces or so. Statistics are provided there as well, and usually run in single digits.

Some of this is, one gets a return on what one invests, and a simple point is I've invested more time and material into Flickr, hence the greater volume of traffic. Both places provide their strengths, both leave some things to be desired.

A couple years ago, Herself pointed me to a site called 500px. The folks that set this site up tried and continue to try hard to show good, recent work. They developed a means to rate the work behind the scenes, based on site user input, and display the pieces accordingly. So I got interested in this and visited, rather frequently at first and then tapered off. Increased frequency in the past few months somewhat in anticipation of the Annual Angst and discovered the site owners provided a means to import pieces from other sites.

Now, that feedback system is open to anyone, but only counts on the images for people who register with the site for an account. Like most places, free accounts are free and easily available, then there are increasing levels of features available to members (we'll say primarily photographers who are posting, though I've no doubt some of the people posting images are the models in them promoting their own work as models) for paid memberships. The fees are fair and reasonable. This site is another one I contemplated with that whole concept of 'Post Here the Great Art, Post There the Good Stuff, Meditations, Etc' two sites plan.

Recently I put up some work on 500px (Madshutterbug on 500px eh!) and watched it over a week. I am still a 'free' account there, so uploads are limited, though storage space isn't. Everything there is transferred over from Flickr, still hosted on Flickr as well. Some will not be immediately visible to anyone who isn't a member (I believe) because it is marked Adult Material and is some of my nude artwork. It will take a couple clicks through to get their message: sign up for an account before we'll show you this. We want a legal disclaimer that you are old enough we won't get in trouble.

It's a much more 'transient' world. One piece did achieve enough views, a high enough 'Pulse' measure, to be put into a category of 'Upcoming' for a while. It's now listed back in the 'Fresh' category, where everything that is posted goes (more or less). If it isn't obvious to you now, it should be that this is some shameless self-promotion; go take a look at what I've posted. Enjoy the other images people are posting. Leave me some feedback on the process.

Still, it's a start at examining another world of exposure (pun intended) and I expect I'll continue along as a free account for a while, watching things as they go. I'll also continue to post things by heading over to Flickr for the image, though I may add some things straight from the House as it were.

Meanwhile, Back At the Ranch it's time to start my movement towards getting out and getting started, even though it's still dark (writing this with the intention to post early). When I'm done with Ranch work there still may be not much Art work, because being after the First of the Year, it's Income Tax Time here in the Hew Ess of Aye and I need to get cracking on that as well.

Day. Oh.

Jan. 2nd, 2014 06:36 pm
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Today is a Hippie Birdbaths, for my sister who is not in the Blog-o-Sphere, and I've wished her the traditional Hippie Birdbaths via the means by which she does visit the Ether.

It is also a Hippie Birdbaths Remembered for both Herself and my fathers, who shared the day though with a number of years (and miles) between them.

We received sufficient respite in the rain today (nearly 36 hours of rain in the past 48) to be able to feed the Goats as well as Hogs & Horses. Then I ran some errands, one of which is to bring home hay to bed down the Goat Shelters because tonight the temps are expected to plummet. All such shelters now bedded in.

Houdini then got a ride in to Archer for a last errand before nightfall.

Some progress, albeit small, made on the Art Printing Front. I opened and looked through the sample papers from Red River Papers which should be a link to their site. Still waiting to print on these papers, which are quite literally marketed as Samples. The company obligingly stamps the name of the paper on each sheet and provides at least two sheets of each as well. I purchased two packages, one for prints, one their pre-scored for folding greeting card stock. The plan is to print one or two (potentially up to four) images on each sheet, and save in the Samples Notebook for comparison.

Then we select papers for projects. Yes. Oh, this is fun, it is. I remember how much fun now, even if this isn't in the darkroom. Darkroom printing seems more magical to me, though there is magic involved in digital printing as well.

Prints into the mail on Monday for MarsCon in Williamsburg Virginia, the Art Show thereof, arrived today. So if y'all are in the area on the weekend of January 17-19 please go to the Con and look at the Art Show.

Houdini says, Buy some of Boss' Art. Feed the Dog. Please.
madshutterbug: (C) 2005 S Grossman (Stalking_Elusive_Photograph)
From the 2013 January Journal, which I am using to start the 2014 January Journal here at the Ranch (not on-line journal, this is a local file):

And I slept through it, well more or less. Kept Houdini inside yesterday evening, and watched a bit more tube with Herself than usual. Stayed home rather than heading off even to neighbors, not sure if that's good for the quiet or not so good for the relationships. Whatever. Off to bed 22:00-ish and read a little bit with H there on the bed. He lay across it rather than along it, making it hard for me to get in under the covers. Until the popping noises started, anyway.

Not very different this time around, other than no tube watching, and no Squrrl. Houdini did join me in bed when I went, near enough to normal weekly time. Snuggled in tight until some when after midnight and the midnight fireworks sounds, then felt relaxed enough to move. I don't know when, I slept through that part. I know he stayed by my side (tightly) until after midnight though, woke a few times from light sleep.

It is raining this morning, not hard yet persistent and as forecast. Likely to be a slower day. We shall see. Things to do none the less. Start cleaning the house, perhaps in the office by the one bookshelf where I want to mount a desk for Herself. Perhaps elsewhere. In fact, while I wrote most of this paragraph this morning, it is still raining this evening as I post this.

So. The Overview.

Set a goal of eight weekend or other type art shows to place work into, completed 10. This means I did well on that goal, and now as part of the overview it becomes time to re-think the business of art planning. Instead of getting into X number of shows, I need to start thinking I should bring in X number of dollars.

Started generating Art Greeting Cards. Printed up 20 leading into December, and sold eight which is 40% of what I printed. Not bad, more Art Greeting Cards to come.

Printing up those Art Greeting Cards moved along the process of re-learning photographic printing. I've now also got sample papers from a paper company, and will start to print on those. They are for a reference notebook, rather than distribution. As in, this is what these photos look like printed on this paper.

Photography sales at the art show/weekend festivals didn't do too poorly. We broke even or made a bit at four of the 10 shows, made sales at two more so over 50% of the shows we sold something. This combined with a couple of sales to people who saw my images elsewhere (not exactly on the Internet, not exactly not on the Internet... make sense? No? Don't worry about it.) and, well, no, we didn't break even as an Artist. However, we did make a good chunk of sales.

Sold a passel of goats going from November to December, with a couple more sales potentially coming up. And, for the local meat eaters, some of those sales will be to the freezer, so the meat will be going to the Farmers Markets we attend for the Ranch.

Because. Because I've been threatening this for ages. Purchased brewing supplies yesterday, last purchase of 2013, to start a batch of an India Pale Ale.

Need to clean house a bit first thought. Plus, the new computer is here, and I want to set up her spot before setting up the new one in my spot. There are a few other things needed for a new PC setup, specifically a new UPS and perhaps a new or simply re-mount a current surge protector. I plan to continue a certain scheme, double surge protect by plugging surge protector into the powered outlet on the UPS, and then electronics into the second surge protector. One for each PC then (a current one will suffice for one). We could also use a new UPS or better surge protection for the entertainment center, to re-route how it is being powered back behind it on the wall.

I think that's the summary... though I know I missed things too.

Took the opportunity during a lull in the rain this morning to go out. Herself fed the bottle kids, I fed the Horses and Hogs which of course includes Ms. Truffles Bigpig. So that at least is accomplished to keep critters happier in the nasty weather.

Following that, started bits and pieces of this and that. Folded laundry, put most away a few pieces to go. Emptied trash bin in office, and in bathroom, those waiting for another break in the rain to take outside. Starting to sort through print samples already done for the reference book.

And... I need a better image cataloging bit of software. Yes, I need one. Tracking down the images to note the source on test prints... aggravating. A wee bit. Sorted through it though. There is a lot more to do prepping the database catalog, at least. And older images, scanned from film, they leave a bit of leeway as well, since many times I'm not going to be positive of the dates. However, the file naming system works well; it's keeping a catalog of where the image is located for easy work (either development or printing).

My most recent experiment is with Picassa, and while I liked it somewhat I don't like that when I re-arranged external hard drives, it lost data. This might mean I can't use the USB drives as I hoped, might only mean I can't disconnect them.

So. Not bored. Definitely not bored. But it is about time to go eat dinner this first evening of the arbitrarily defined New Year.

Oh. And (if this works, been some issues with Flickr image posting recently) Sydney Subaru Outback turned 200,000 miles recently:

Test The First, current Flickr Code )

Happy 2014, everyone.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
With a couple weeks going by and no blog posting, I am feeling like a Bad Madshutterbug. On the one hand, it is a goal to do at least once a week posting on the State of the Artist. Sometimes with visual examples, sometimes without, and still discussing art sorts of things. Betimes this works fine, other times not so much. While not back-breaking the past couple weeks proved to be rather busy. Interruptions might be the art projects themselves, or might be other bits and pieces of life not so much art related. Like, yanno, laundry. And such. Priorities shift about some.

Still and all, recent project(s) which ran concurrently are A) Re-learn printing my own work and B) Generate Art Greeting Cards. Pursuing part A I churned through a fair portion of my paper supply, both the less expensive over the counter papers (I consider these Draft Papers, or Draft Cards, considering my age pun intended) and the more expensive brand-name papers matching Mr. Printy. At the end of this I am able to say good progress is made towards achieving Part A, and for the past weekend Last Show Of The Year I did generate some salable Art Greeting Cards.

Not a lot. A score, as in 'Four score and seven years ago' though I only made it up to one score or 20 cards. Four sold at the Winter Gift Fair, which pretty much paid for the paper used so far to learn and generate product. Herself currently took the last 16 of them over to the Tioga Farmers Market where they will be offered for sale this evening, and any left over will be offered for sale this coming Saturday at the Haile Farmers Market in our last Holidays Craftiness Gift Sales.

Meanwhile, back at the Studio this means I am now able to offer any of my gentle readers that may be interested the option of purchasing Art Cards. The goal here in general is to offer some of the art in a price range which won't seem to break anyones bank. Or as someone said, something in the product line on the order of a burger and fries purchase price. Follow the link to the image which will appear shortly, over to my Flickr place, and pretty much most of the pictures there are available if one asks. Given a bit of time, I'll be generating a catalog of stock readily available (or easily printed and therefor readily available) as well, so you'd be telling me which photos might be popular as cards by doing so.

Peecture Behind the Cut... Portrait of a Mother and Daughter )

Right now I'm printing 'Large' cards. These are 14cm by 21.5cm (5.5x8.5 inches), called 'half-fold' as near as I've learned. The plan is to also print 'quarter-fold' (10.8cm x 14cm or 4.25x5.5 inches) as well as some other sizes. Right now prices are one Large card for $5 US (about a 5x7 print), or 3 for $10. I'll need to figure in shipping for anyone who isn't local, that's sort of still on the to-do list. I am able to accept PayPal, still working on other options. Drop me a note at madshutterbug at gmail dot com if you're interested.

Meanwhile, back at The Ranch one of those distractions mentioned above involves the Goats are Kidding. We are up around 30 kids so far, with the two newest this afternoon. Not that we're too worried about the extra mouths to feed, because we've also sold goats recently, and are looking at a small stock trailer parked on the Ranch today for an order of some more goats. This batch goes live and on the hoof to someone who is shifting the makeup of an existing herd.

I mention that because there are other goats to be sold, but not … As Is. These goats are about to undergo a Change of Occupation (a few already did this). So all in all while one end of the Bell Curve is increasing the other is decreasing so it's remaining rather balanced.

Herself's garden is doing well; it's cold crops now, things which cope well with chilly weather. Chilly? In North Central Baja Jorja? Yes. I've mentioned it before. We do get freezing weather here. Not long, nowhere near the sort that one sees further north of us, yet freezing. Or more often then that, even, Very Cold. Like last night (down to 3 C here) and again tonight (down to 2 C) and for the rest of the week, like that.

The Kittehs of the Apocalypse are telling Houdini he needs to move over in bed, because they want their spots on the Monkey Warmer too.
madshutterbug: (c)2009 by Myself (Houdini&I)
Since I've not dropped in for a couple weeks, felt I ought to and at least provide some hints about what's going on.

November I did not receive a jury invitation to the Gainesville Downtown Winter Art Fair. So it goes. This does provide time to work on other projects, since there aren't any other art fairs or shows I'm involved in for November. Next one, in fact, is December 15, afternoon, the Blue Oven Kitchens Winter Gift Fair. More later, but put that on your calendar.

Meanwhile, been working on the whole concept of creating greeting cards. Not a lot of work, still in the draft stage here. Two drafts done, in fact, and waiting for Herself to return from Tioga Farmers Market to review them for feedback. One very definitely needs some work, either that or it's time to replace ink in Mr. Printy. Mind you, it is getting close to time to replace ink.

There are two concepts for the greeting cards. One, a standard sheet of print paper (for the digital printer, that means 8.5x11 US size, bit larger than A4), folded in half. Two, not quite that large, and single card, not folded. Both need envelopes for mailing. There is also the possibility of doing Post Cards, using 4x6 print paper. Will contemplate that in a bit.

There are still a lot of prints in the To Be Matted portfolio. Need to get cracking on that as well, so that the overall inventory (particularly of Herself prints) is ready for the Winter Gift Fair. Want to get a better handle on where I am with that as well. I don't count prints as 'in inventory' until I've at least matted and sleeved them. However, there is an inventory of prints waiting to be matted and sleeved... I am simply not sure how many. Sort of don't want to know, as that could prove somewhat overwhelming. However, need to know.

Applications are in for the first four months of next year; one Con to which I shall mail pieces for display, two themed gallery shows (Orlando and Tampa) for February and March, the GFAA Winter Art Fair at Tioga and again the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival in April. Three of those are juried, and I'm waiting to hear on the juries. I'm also slowly, steadily working on pieces which will be for the two gallery shows. I've pieces printed and done to cover the first (if not quite yet matted and framed), need to finish the pieces for the second.

Back at the Ranch, we've been busy with weekend Farmers Markets, and doing OK on that. Also working steadily if slowly on a few other Ranch projects, chicken tillers for the Dirty Yard Birds (a means to provide them with limited ranging, somewhat free in the sense that insects and whatever can get in... and believe me, with chickens they may well not get out) that move around in the Garden zone so they can scratch and turn the surface in areas, leave their droppings to fertilise, and yet not get at current growing crops.

Crops. Yes. Herself has an area fenced off from the Free Ranger Dirty Yard Birds, and it is doing well. Keeping our attention on it. We are expecting a possible frosty night in a couple days (would be if not the first this season, then the second and I'm not sure we actually did freeze the previous one, though). Not hard, and she's put in cold-hardy crop for the winter so we should be OK. I follow her lead on this; my role in the garden is Heavy Labour, not Growing Things. Plants and I get along very well if one considers Very Well as I eat them, eh.

Thus it is, life goes on.
madshutterbug: (c) 2011 by Myself: Zone VI 8x10 view camera (View Camera)
Well, the feed delivery came. Late, yet it came. Hog feed is now stowed in barrels and the hog pens fed. They are happy; dinner instead of breakfast and they are content. All the others fed as well. Put up two barrels of goat feed, stacked the next two in order, and the remainder is stacked somewhat willy-nilly but stacked. Tomorrow to fill the cow barrels.

Tomorrow afternoon to Micanopy for setup for the Fall Harvest Art Festival. At least I'm hoping I can set up tomorrow; it will make Saturday much easier. If not, it's up very early on Saturday to get set up and ready before show time. Show time isn't until 09:00 so if I get there by 07:00 should be fine.

Pavilion is as tuned up as it's going to get. Re-did the support poles that sleeve into the side art display walls, re-inserted the bungees after moving them for Necronomicon. Found one art display wall with a grommet nearly out, as in torn. That one will need repairs, which I shall do after the festival. Plus I'm thinking about making new walls after two 'years' of service. Nine, ten shows, and these are our own creation. We could purchase pre-made walls from a company that specialises. Far more expensive than what we spent on these, and more than we will spend to make three new ones as well, for all six that we'd then have made.
So we'll stay with making our own for a bit.

I do need to re-think the 'back' wall (as it were) such that we can potentially make a door there; this proved useful at the Santa Fe Spring Arts Festival and will again, I'm sure. Some places not necessary, some not feasible, but nice to have. Part of what makes these walls work is the tension provided by strapping the bungees around the pavilion poles; the back, with a 'doorway' through it, looses this to some extent. To I'm meditating on how to cope. Goal for next calendar year.

At any rate, the pavilion is ready to go, partially loaded into the Subaru. Tomorrow I shall load the rest of the physical plant (pavilion, side-walls, weights, folding stands for matted works, chairs, and such) and drive over to see about setting up. Might not be a Friday evening setup. But I will drive over.

If there's no Friday evening setup, then it's up very early on Saturday and hit the road between 06:00 and 06:30 with the goal being arrive in Micanopy by 07:00 and no later than 07:30. The Festival starts at 09:00, so that should provide sufficient time to set up pavilion and get art up on the walls as well. Might limit how much framed work I take, but still.

So. Time for dinner. Ta for now.

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