Category Archives: Art and the Web

The World Wide Web plays an important part in every artist’s business.

First Printed Digital Image with Colored Pencil – Prismacolor

I’ve been working on the printed version of the “Pig and Apple Tree” with Prismacolor, a beautiful waxed based colored pencil, since, yup, last October. I’m still working on the image, but I think that it is almost done.

Pig and Apple Tree, Printed digital image with colored pencil, © Mary Baker

Pig and Apple Tree, Printed digital image with colored pencil, © Mary Baker

The process is that I first work on the image on my computer and “paint” it in Photoshop.  The image is then printed on a beautiful acid free watercolor paper.  And after that, I take it back to my studio and work on the printed image with Prismacolor, the beautiful wax based colored pencil that I’ve used for decades as a “traditional artist.”

Pig and Apple Tree, the original image

The original image of “Pig and Apple Tree” that I started out with.

And this is the original image that I started out with.  I hope that the image helps to explain a little bit, how much work goes into each piece in this new digital art project.

For me, it’s a lot like the painting process that I have done for decades, where I start out with a photograph that I’ve taken, which gives me a starting point for the final realistic oil painting.  And for me it’s same subject matter in a different medium, and the process is both very different on one hand, but also very similar.

New Mobile Friendly Site for Mary Baker Art

Apple Trees, Painting by Mary Baker

Apple Trees © Mary Baker

I had no idea that mobile friendly websites were so important. I finally figured out what to do. I used a service called GoMobi, which is part of my web hosting package. I was able to create a web friendly site that looks a  lot like my Mary Baker Art website. To see the new mobile friendly version please go here. I use WordPress for the Mary Baker Art Blog (as well as The Newburyport Blog) and the theme I use is “mobile friendly,” so no worry there.  But the website is not mobile friendly, and now I am very much relieved!! Who knew that artists now needed mobile friendly sites as well as regular websites, not me. And I’d like to thank Hal Fickett of Hal Fickett and Company for making me aware of the issue, and helping me to think through what to do–awesome guidance from a smart and thoughtful person.

Website Design

I’ve decided to expand Mary Baker Art to not only include realistic oil paintings, but to also include web help and website design. So I’ve “launched” Mary Baker Design, that is part of Mary Baker Art, but is totally devoted to designing websites and web help.

I seem to have a hidden geek gene, which I am hoping in this lousy economy (recessions are never kind to the arts) will come in handy.

I’ve known for quite a while how to design websites and a lot about web stuff, but it’s been a blast giving myself a two month crash course in designing websites and blogs. It is just amazing how much learning information there is out there on the World Wide Web.

I’ve approached the whole project as if I was preparing for an art show. I did drafts of about ten website designs and then picked three to really concentrate on. And because I’m “new,” or at least officially “new,” to the website design world, I thought I would structure it so that I could give the three websites away for free. They are in WordPress blog software format, which is incredibly versatile. The person who downloads a website can make it look like a blog, a website or a combination of both. They put their own content, title, description, as well as their own information on the two menu bars.

Because I live in the New England seacoast city of Newburyport, Massachusetts, I decided that I would start with images of Newburyport for the first website designs. The first website includes one of Newburyport’s most beloved historic photographs, the “Clam Shack Workers,” which is at the top of this post. The historic photograph is in the public domain in the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library, which is an incredible resource. I’ve included a photograph of the website “Clam Shack” itself. Maybe eventually I will start to design websites specifically for artists.

The Wonders of Photoshop

As we enter, or already have entered, into this lousy economy 2009, where “the arts” have taken a tremendous hit, I’ve decided to tap into my “inner geek.” I’ve always loved Photoshop, and as a painter I have always felt that Photoshop is one of those “guilty pleasures.”

What would literally take me years to paint, I can accomplish in Photoshop in 30 minutes. Instant gratification. Presto. One of the things that I have also been doing, is learning all about designing websites. And I love it. It’s been enormously rewarding. The present design for the Mary Baker Art-Blog is a very own Mary Baker, Mary Baker Art creation. As a painter, the pink tube at the top would have taken me a very long, long time to paint, but in Photoshop, it’s a zip.

And I’ve also been experimenting with how to create different frames for the web for my paintings in Photoshop, which is an amazing amount of fun. In this post is a painting of the fields, where I live, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, a small oil on paper, in an experimental Photoshop frame.

Art Blogs and Artist Websites 2

Sunflower-1_copyright.jpg

Sunflower 1
Oil on Canvas
18” x 24”
Mary Baker © 2005

Originally when I started my artist’s blog I was afraid that people would confuse it with my artist website, Mary Baker Art. And I decided that I would stick with a generic looking blog in hopes that people would figure out that they could visit my artist website.

And I also decided that I wouldn’t put pictures on my artist blog because it seemed to take away from the text. And I also fiddle around with different ways to personalize my website and none of them seemed to look as good as the Word Press Kubric default blog.

Well that was way back in early December 2005, and I’ve learned a lot since then.

One of the things that’s happened is my artist blog, at this point, gets 10 times as much traffic as my art website. So obviously most people weren’t clicking on the links to my art website. That had me thinking that maybe it might be a good idea to rethink things.

I found a Word Press theme that was based on my earlier Word Press blog that allowed me to fairly easily customize my art blog. My goal was to have some of the same colors of my artist website, but hopefully people will know that this is an art blog and if they want more information about Mary Baker’s paintings they can go to her website Mary Baker Art.

Once I chose the new colors I then decided to try putting up some of my art work on the blog, and with the new color scheme they looked much better. The artwork seemed to compliment the posts instead of distracting from the blog text.

I am still working on how to make the artwork load faster. And when I figure that one out, I’ll be very happy.

So you can see there is one of my paintings at the top of this post. And if you would like to know more, please visit my website Mary Baker Art.

Mary Baker

(Editor’s Note: Please do not use any image that belongs to Mary Baker. It is a copyright infringement and it is against the law. I have found at least one image on another site, used without my permission, in a way that is unacceptable. The image has not been removed, and I am not pleased.

Unfortunately this forces me to put copyright information across the art images, which ruins it for everyone who would like to see the paintings. Mary Baker)

Art Websites– Picklebird, an Art Magazine and Its “Trade Secrets”

I’ve been looking around the Web for art blogs or art websites that have information that would help artists and people who love the arts. I’ve been looking for sites that don’t take themselves too seriously (people in the arts can take themselves very seriously) and isn’t trying to sell you a commercial product.

I came across “Picklebird”, an alternative art magazine out of Los Angeles. Picklebird has a section called “Trade Secrets.” I may not agree with everything that’s in Picklebird’s Trade Secrets, but it makes for very interesting reading and has lots of helpful information.

Unfortunately Picklebird is “no longer flying”. It’s creators, however, have left the “bones” of the site up, including “Trade Secrets” for people to read and enjoy.

Mary Baker

Why do we Really Blog?

Why Blog? It’s a question that intrigues me.

1) Commercial reasons. People have figured out that blogging helps their websites in a number of ways to the point where blogging is now being abused and we now have splogging (spam-blogging). Bound to happen.

2) Opinions on all and sundry. Yes, of course.

3) Personal stuff for a variety of reasons. Absolutely.

4) Medium is easy and inexpensive to use. Even someone extremely un-techno-savvy can figure it out. (If I can, believe me, you can too.)

But why do we really blog?

So this is what is going around in my head about that question at the moment: In a fractured world, where families are scattered and often torn, maybe it’s a way for people to hope that someone witnesses their life.

I may be wrong, but I don’t think most people sit down at their computer and think, “Well, thousands of people are now going to read this post.” Most people think that maybe someone might read a post and are very surprised when a number of people do. I know I am.

Maybe blogging in its true sense, not its commercial use, is a way of connecting to a world that seems increasingly huge; a way of leaving a mark of some sort in a world, that because of the Internet, is obviously and overwhelmingly bigger than the street and neighborhood where we live.

Maybe blogging is an attempt to make the vast and impersonal Internet, personal; a way to try and gain some control over what is the increasingly uncontrollable (Google–8 billion pages and growing.)

An interesting question– “Why do we really blog?”

Art Blogs and Art Websites

I’ve thought long and hard about how my art blog should look. I know, I know, it looks like millions of other blogs from WordPress.

I wanted my art blog to look “generic” for several reasons.

  • I don’t want people to confuse my art blog with my art website. Hopefully if you’ve arrived here, with all this web-art-chit-chat, without a picture in sight, you’ll think, “Ah, ha, maybe I’ll go visit her art website, Mary Baker Art, and see what the heck she paints.”
  • I actually found that putting a painting up on the blog took away from the text, so I took the painting off.
  • And having the art blog look generic takes the pressure off. I agonize over my art website, but I feel much more relaxed adding to the art blog.
  • I will admit that I did fiddled around with all sorts of ways to personalize my art blog, and none of the designs are as good as the one by WordPress. So I decided if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
  • Art Scams–nifty email

    Wow, just when I thought I’d seen every possibly art scam, I got this email from an art admirer.

    Hello
    I would love to inquire about some item which i saw on the web,they very lovely and would like to know if it can be sold to me for my new store in south africa,pls do let me know if it for sale ,i would be glad to get back to you with my choice of item and If you accept cashiers check as payment method
    ,pls advise strongly on this
    Cheers
    Wesley

    And talk about chutzpah when it comes to art scams, this email wasn’t only sent to me, the human being on the other end of this art scam included 11 other recipients on the same email. (…and “Cheers Wesley”?? Oh good grief.)

    Again, if you are an artist, go visit Bj.de Castro’s blog on art scams…run, run, run!

    Keyword, “Realistic Painter”–Could “Art Work” be Next?

    Looking at my stats for my art blog I realized that people were finding me through the keyword “realistic painter.” Wow. So I moseyed over to Google and typed in “realistic painter” and voila–Mary Baker Art was, I could hardly believe it–3rd! Good grief.

    I tried “realistic painting”…in the top 8 no less, and “realistic paintings” in the top 18! Could “art work” be far behind? All of a sudden I was showing up in the top 20 for keywords I loved.

    If I, a mere mortal, could pop up for my chosen keywords in the top 3 to 20,think what someone actually doing this full time and making gazillions of money could do.

    I can see why greedy, ambitious, do anything SEOs (it took me a long time to figure out what the heck SEO is, if you don’t know, you’d better Google it) have fallen head over heals, gaga with the whole blog thing, (I was amazed to find that my articles published at EzineArticles.com were in “blogs” from Blog.Spot all over the Internet–I’m glad for artist all over that “Art” has become such a nifty keyword.) and why “splogging” is the new scourge of the Internet.

    I watched as people found out ways to abuse “links.” Now they’ve found a way to abuse “content.” So Google and company are now trying to find ways to regulate all those abusive sploggers out there and when they do, I imagine my art blog with disappear when people go searching for “realistic painter.” But for the time being I’m enjoying it a lot! Keyword away!

    Art, Artists and Blogs–how Google indexed my art blog and apparently gave it a Page Rank of 5

    Ok, I’m totally smitten by this whole blog art form thing.

    Google actually indexed my blog fast, and gave my art blog, I think, a Page Rank of 5–I love this! Who wouldn’t love this?

    The fact that Google actually indexed my artist’s blog quickly, I’ll admit, was not because of any great knowledge on my part. But, I’m happy to share what happened. Here it is:

    I had been looking at different places to blog and my host happened to let me install WordPress. So I did. Using WordPress for my artist’s blog, my domain name was part of the art blog url–so I could make it “marybakerart.com/blog”.

    Missy Chabot–Chabot Web Design, who does my artist’s website, put a link from the Home Page and the Site Map of Mary Baker Art.

    I wasn’t sure if search engines would think that the art blog was part of my website, but I guess Google does, because, at the moment, under www.marybakerart.com a number of the blog pages are listed, including the art blog itself. In fact, now the website is listed in Google with lots of extra pages, even though my art blog has a whole different look and feel than my artist’s website! I mean, how cool is that!

    Art Scams–Swindlers scamming artists

    People are actually trying to scam artists on the Web, and have been for a while. Here’s an email I received:

    Subject: art work purchase

    Good day to you.
    I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search, I am interested in purchasing some creative art works from you.

    yellow roses
    daylilly
    blue morning glory

    I will be happy to have these selected art works hanged in our new
    home in South Africa. how much discounts are going to give?
    As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost. I have been in touch with
    A shipping agent that are shipping other house decoratives, We are
    travelling from our UK home to our new apartment as soon as possible.

    On Paying for the art works,I will be glad to pay with a Travellers
    Check or Money orders in US funds that can be easily cashed at your
    bank,Please let me know on how to pay for the art works.

    I will await your advise on how to proceed. Have a wonderful day.

    Take Care.
    Debby

    Too good to be true

    When it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.

    This person had been to my website and did list 3 actual paintings. However when I traced the IP address, which is in the header of an email, it was not from South Africa or their home in the UK, it was from Nigeria. I got the exact same email a week later from a “Susie” not a “Debby”.

    There is an excellent blog by Bj. de Castro with lots of information on art scams from Nigeria. If you are an artist with a website, this blog is a must to check out.

    Art, Artists and Blogs

    It never occurred to me to have an artist’s blog before I read Kristen Royce’s article on Why Every Artist Needs A Blog.

    One of the great things about having an art blog is that you can update it right away. It can often take days or weeks to update an art web site. You can also edit a post and correct it immediately. And it is also possible to go back and edit or “tweak” a post after you have published it on your artist’s blog.

    You can do very different things with an art blog than you can with an art website. They appear to be a great combination.

    An artist’s website is like a constant one-person show. An artist’s blog has a very different tone than an artist’s web site. An artist’s blog is like having an ongoing chatty art conversation.

    The subject matter can be much more personal in an art blog. You can talk about events and information that just wouldn’t fit in with an artist’s website.

    I am in the early learning stages of art blogging and I am finding that art blogging can be a whole lot of fun.

    Artists and Websites

    Artist’s websites can be hard to find

    It really does bother me that when you look on the Web for artists’ websites, established artists’ websites can be very hard to find.

    I understand that the Web makes many establish artists nervous. Often established artists will create a website when they are “between galleries”. Once that happens, artists begin to see how incredibly effective an artist’s website can be!

    Having an artist’s website is so much fun

    Having an artist’s website is fun. First of all it’s like having a one person show 24/7!! That’s pretty cool! Second of all anyone, anywhere in the world can and does look at your art on your website! How Amazing is that!!

    The first month I had my website I’d check to see who visited it, and I was amazed that people from Chile, Japan, Australia, Lithuania, Spain–almost every country in the world came for a visit any time of day or night! Wow!

    I found a really great young lady to help me design my artist’s website. At first I was really nervous, but then it became really exciting. I just couldn’t believe that my art work was up there on the World Wide Web for anyone to see!!

    For the art world, the Web really is changing the way people look and experience art

    The Web really is changing the way people look and experience art. The Web really is like having Walmart or Home Depot come to town. There will always be bricks and mortar art galleries, but they are gradually loosing their effectiveness, except for those art galleries who have a strong web presence. That’s why it’s so important that every artist has his or her own website.

    I wrote a four part series called “Art, Artists and the Web” to make it a little less scary for artists who want to create websites. It tells you just about everything you’d want to know. It’s an article that I wish I had had when I was designing my artist’s website.

    You can find it on Mary Baker Art (www.marybakerart.com), or click on the “Art, Artist’s and the Web” link under “Articles” on the right side of this art blog.