The final installment of my four-part series of articles discussing the different components I use to create my artwork will focus specifically upon the brushes that I have come to rely upon. My brush selection has developed over time and is the result of extensive experimentation with several different offerings from select manufacturers.
As an extension of an artist’s hands, brushes can be a very important variable in the creative equation. While some artists prefer synthetic brush hairs, others may prefer natural hair or a blend of natural hair and synthetic filaments. Regardless of material preferences, however, brushes can be a fairly expensive investment. Professional artists often amass a large selection over the course of their careers before eventually settling upon specific requirements or preferences. As can be observed from the image at the top of this post, I have also collected a large number of brushes even though I have only been painting with the watercolor medium since 2004.
Written to parallel and supplement Part IIIa of this four part series of watercolor painting equipment articles, this text will illustrate the palette selections I have made utilizing the paint brands discussed in my previous post. It is often just as interesting to see what particular palettes an artist has constructed as it is to know the brand of paint they use.
Before I utilize nearly every new palette, I create a test sheet. I try to test the paints on the Arches 140# cold-pressed watercolor paper that I regularly use and often will lay the test swatches out on the paper in the same manner in which they will occupy my palette. As I no longer use a palette with individual wells in favor of a bare enameled butcher tray on which to mix and utilize paint, my newer paint test sheets are a bit more haphazardly organized.
As Part II of this series of painting equipment articles indicated, a tightly stretched substrate is my preference for watercolor work in order to minimize buckling of the paper during wet wash applications. Even more important to my painting technique than the substrate, however, is my choice of paint. Over the years, I have utilized numerous brands of paint and admire several for their unique characteristics. I often choose a palette from a specific manufacturer based upon the character I wish a particular watercolor painting to emote. I prefer heavily granulating natural pigment paints for textural pieces or works depicting metallic objects. Conversely, I often choose very vibrant, heavily pigmented paints that possess very minimal granulation characteristics for floral work.
One of my early favorites consisted of a selection of Winsor & Newton tube paints housed in a Guerrilla Painter brand covered palette. The plastic palette worked nicely and I still return to the Winsor & Newton paints on occasion. The company’s Opera Rose will always be one of my favorite colors for floral work.
I receive a lot of inquiries from fellow artists regarding how my Powers Fine Art Studio website operates. While there is a lot of custom coding in place, there are also some really nice WordPress plugins implemented to help accomplish many of the site’s basic tasks. I thought it would be fun to share some of the plugins I use with my self-hosted WordPress installation since I have experimented with many others and these particular ones have proven to be my most trusted.
Do you have WordPress plugins that you find to be indispensable? If so, feel free to list them in this article’s comment section. I would enjoy hearing what other WordPress users are implementing.
As I mentioned in the first part of this series of painting equipment articles, artists make unique decisions regarding the equipment they select to create their artwork. Part I focused specifically upon the creation of an adjustable easel system designed to support a watercolor paper stretching board. While many artists find no need for a paper stretching device, I really prefer the buckle-free surface that stretched paper provides. The very wet washes I often use for a painting’s background dry more evenly without pigment settling into troughs created by a slightly wrinkled paper.
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday have all become established phenomena in our modern retail world. While all of these are designed to increase a business’ revenue by slashing prices, some establishments take the concept to an extreme. The past couple years have seen these marketing opportunities stretched to well-before and well-after their traditional time-slots and it can be difficult for a small business to attempt to have a marketing plan that incorporates all of these dates.
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Readers who have been following my artistic career for the last few years know that I prefer to use Fine Art America as my main print fulfillment partner. In the time I have been utilizing their services, however, I have never purchased one of my own prints. In fact, I have only seen one of my own prints from the company on a single occasion. To this date, I have never had a customer return a print to Fine Art America and with a 30 day “no questions asked” return policy, I have always had confidence in the products they were producing.
I recently had the opportunity to participate in an online contest designed to help Fine Art America promote its services through the use of the Twitter social-networking community. To my surprise, I achieved the number five position in the top 10 list of winners and received a $75 USD gift certificate.
After some deliberation, I decided the gift certificate was a great opportunity for me to purchase a print of my work in one of the more intriguing formats that Fine Art America offers and to discuss some elements of the purchase that have further solidified my confidence in maintaining Fine Art America as my main print fulfillment partner.
Read more about my experience by clicking the button below:
I promised in an earlier post that my articles would not be exclusively based around technical information or website development and this post is going to be the first to deliver upon that promise. In this first installment of a four-part series I plan to discuss the painting equipment I use as an artist and address the reasons for my selections while comparing some of my previous choices.
An artist’s selection of equipment is as individual as the artist themselves and mine is no exception. My watercolor painting setup was designed based upon several key criteria and as my style and techniques have developed over the years, my criteria have changed as well. Currently, I have opted for a very sleek, streamlined, and portable configuration that works equally well in the studio as it does outdoors in a plein air situation.
This particular post’s primary focus is specifically on my choice of easel configurations. Part two of this series will address my choice of paper stretching devices and why I use them. Part three will speak about several of the brands of paint that I use and their unique characteristics and Part four will talk about my limited choices of brushes and why I use what I use.
I am fully aware that it has been a couple of months since my last blog post but I am intent upon striving for quality content instead of quantity. It is important that this web blog reflects my journey as an artist, the trials and tribulations of creating a WordPress-based online e-commerce site, and information concerning the various equipment and techniques I use to produce my original watercolor artwork.
When it comes to painting equipment and materials, I am generally experimenting with new products. Recently, however, I made the decision to extract one of my old portable easels from storage. Although I love my usual setup, I wanted a little more equipment storage capacity and working space than my current configuration provided and my old Ibis “Offset” French-Style Easel is the perfect candidate.
To read more about this interesting easel, click the button below:
It is once again the time of year when the official “Call For Artists” for the next Twitter Art Exhibit is released. If you haven’t read the interesting history of this amazing yearly charitable event, make sure to read my previous Twitter Art Exhibit article that chronicles the brainchild of Norwegian artist David Sandum.
The fourth Twitter Art Exhibit event is slated to be held 20 March 2014 in Orlando, Florida USA at the CityArts Factory, Magic Gallery. The organization to receive 100% of the proceeds from the exhibition is the Center For Contemporary Dance, Special Needs Classes. The non-profit organization is dedicated to dance education and outreach while providing customized exercises designed to expand students’ range of motion, creativity, and social skills. Additionally, class work is created to enhance memorization, problem-solving, and communication.
Read more about Twitter Art Exhibit - Orlando and see my contributions by clicking the button below:
If you read my earlier article describing modifications to a WordPress installation’s .htaccess file in order to enhance a website’s rendering speed, you know that many search engines use page loading speeds as one of the factors for result ranking. With this in mind, it becomes necessary to consider as many factors as possible in order to help our websites render as quickly as possible.
After my last article describing many of the code snippets that can be used in order to modify a website’s .htaccess file to help increase loading speed, I received several emails from readers who were intimidated by the procedure. Luckily, if your website is constructed using a WordPress framework, there is a very easy way to accomplish the same task for WordPress Optimization.
Nearly everyone who writes articles for a weblog has read about the importance of establishing an email subscription list. Readers who stumble upon articles through search services might find a ‘blog or specific article interesting but may lose a site’s URL or the ability to find the information again. They don’t become repeat visitors or frequent readers. Implementing a subscription list, however, ensures that one’s future articles find their way to the email inboxes of interested readers. Regular readers who are interested in an author’s articles are more likely to leave comments, interact, and share content. Increased visitation and sharing helps search engine optimization (SEO) and, in turn, search ranking which ultimately results in even more readers.
Finding the perfect solution for emailing post content and managing subscribers, however, can be quite difficult. I have tried several options but nearly all of them have had a serious detriment that has resulted in further searching for alternatives.
Read more about the solutions I have found by clicking the button below:
Establishing the retail value of artwork is one of the most confusing tasks a beginning artist can undertake. There are many possible approaches to this problem and I plan to discuss a couple of the most basic within the text of this article. The methods outlined below have their foundation in substantive factors and leave emotional attachment out. Pricing artwork based upon how “good” an artist thinks it is leads to a very sloppy and inconsistent approach that can leave collectors confused.
Whether one is a seasoned professional or a rank amateur, it is often pertinent to survey the current marketplace to discover what similar artists are using as a pricing model. If your peers are selling their work for much less than what you are expecting to receive, you might think about adjusting your prices appropriately. If, however, you seem to price your artwork lower than pieces of equal quality, your prices may need a slight increase. Bear in mind, however, that the price of art can often be affected by an artist’s reputation in the marketplace. Just because you create work that is perceived to be as good or better than a given medium’s master, doesn't mean your paintings will sell for millions of dollars.
Read the rest of the article by clicking the button below:
I haven't been around Fine Art America or painting much lately because I have been completing a major website overhaul. I started completely from scratch and went with a Wordpress based site to simplify my life and make adding new paintings, etc... easier. I have written an in-depth blog post that explains my decision to use this format, etc... For now, check out the new site at http://powersfineart.com/! I may still do a little tweaking here and there and need to add my links page but it is looking good so far!
This is a time-lapse video I created which shows the progression from drawing to finished piece for my watercolor painting of Foxglove/Digitalis entitled, "Snoqualmie Dew." This painting is the second one I have done which utilizes the newly reformulated Sennelier watercolor paints. This new formula is amazing to work with and is incredibly vibrant. I highly recommend this paint.
This is a time-lapse video depicting the creation of my latest watercolor painting, “Sennelier Tulips.” When I can remember to take photos of a painting during the creative process, I try to produce a video to help others see how the painting is built from start to finish. This one began as a simple sketch and many layers of watercolor paint were glazed in order to produce the complexity and depth. This painting is of particular interest because it is my first usage of the newly reformulated Sennelier paints that I received in the mail a few days ago. They are heavily pigmented, bold, vibrant, creamy under the brush, and have a great glow to them. I am impressed!
I have been having great success with the sales of my book, "The Art of Social-Network Marketing." However, I owe its success to the amazingly supportive online community to which I belong. Therefore, in order to say "Thank you for your support," I have decided to release one section of my book in an online text format on its website every week until the entire text is available for FREE! The online version won't have the fancy graphics, illustrations, and charts but the entire text and all its information will be there to aid all who are interested in marketing their artwork, crafts, sculpture, and assorted products. The Print, PDF, Nook, iBook, and Kindle versions will still be available for those who want to have all the bells and whistles but the meat and potatoes will be online for all to view for FREE. I sincerely hope the information aids those who are looking to find their way in this confusing Internet-based marketing arena! Check the site often, and by the way, "Thank you for your support!"
Sunday, May 13th 2012 marks the end of the 8th season of ABC Studio's hit television series "Desperate Housewives." It also brings an end to the series itself. To commemorate the event and what could very well be your last chance to see my painting "Feathery Flower" in the series, I am offering a very limited time promotion on 11"x14" canvas prints of the piece seen in seasons 7 and 8 of the show. Click HERE to visit the promotional page.
Click HERE for information about where to see the piece in the show.
Here is what the painting looks like if you are hunting for it in Seasons 7 and 8:
For those who are unaware, ABC studios purchased a print of my painting Feathery Flower along with a license to allow its use on the set of their hit series Desperate Housewives. The purchase occurred during the summer of 2010 before the shooting began for season 7 and the painting ended up being placed to the left of the entrance of main character Bree Van de Kamp's home above a hall table and on a green wall. Here is a link to an image depicting the painting's location: Location Map. The painting's prominent placement at 4354 Wisteria Lane allows it to be seen from the character's living room, kitchen, and staircase and has enabled it to appear in many commercials and episodes of the show. However, its glory is finally coming to an end.
ABC has officially revealed the end date for the series finale of Desperate Housewives. If you are a fan of the show, you also realize that this means there are only a couple episodes left before the two hour final episode. With the Sunday, May 13th 2012 date quickly approaching, the opportunities to see my watercolor painting on the set of the show are becoming fewer and fewer. If you miss the painting during the course of the normal season, your only other options are to wait for syndication or to purchase seasons 7 and 8 on DVD.
If you are looking for a more recent episode in which to view my painting on ABC Studio's "Desperate Housewives," it is in the episode that aired on 4/29/2012 entitled "Lost My Power." The painting is shown during a conversation with Bree Van de Kamp's attorney in her living room. It starts at about 29 minutes into the show and is on the wall to the left of the character's front door above a hall table and lamp. This video may only be view-able to people in the USA but I am not sure.
Over the last few years, I have been receiving virtually daily e-mails from fellow artists who are having difficulties selling their work online. The subjects of these letters range from simple requests for technical assistance to inquiries about my approach to the online marketing of my paintings. Those who have requested my assistance know that I am always ready to lend a helping hand if it is within my range of expertise. Having an extensive computer science background, I am fully aware of the complications modern websites and social-networks can create. These complications always seem to become exponential when a person is attempting to finally present and sell their lovingly created artwork to the world for the first time. Whenever I can lend a helpful tip to a frustrated correspondant, I do. Because of the number of emails I receive pertaining to these types of subjects, it made me realize that there are very few books available that clearly and concisely present an uncomplicated method for marketing artwork, products, and services online.
Because of the confusing nature and general lack of availability of this type of information, I began the long arduous task of writing a book that presents a clear non-intrusive philosophy for marketing artwork and other products through the Internet. I have always felt that the most effective use of social-networks for marketing revolves around driving traffic from these services to a central storefront where products and artwork can be directly purchased. I decided to make the book's primary focus a basic road-map for developing followers in various social-media services and how to utilize cross-promotional techniques. By aiding other artists in the visibility and marketing of their artwork or products, in turn one increases the visiblity of their own work. Within this established network, everyone gets to benefit from increased visibility, and therefore, increased purchasing potential. The added bonus is that one gets to view great new artwork and products from a close group of friends on a daily basis!
I am pleased to announce that the book is finally finished. It is 147 pages and I self-published it through Lulu.com. It will soon be available in Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and various other book resellers in print form. I decided to call it The Art of Social-Network Marketing because of its main focus. It can currently be purchased in print or as a PDF document through Lulu.com and also in e-reader formats through the iBookstore, Amazon for Kindle store, and the Barnes & Noble Nook store.
If you are interested, more information can be found at the following website:
Have you been looking for some great traditional Irish music for your St. Patrick's Day celebration? If so, look no further than the fantastic button accordion work from Dan Possumato. His latest album "Pulling Out the Stops" will have you dancing a jig and begging for more! Also.......it doesn't hurt that Dan commissioned one of my paintings to be used for the album cover! ;)
The auction held at my son's school was a huge success! It is a yearly event designed to raise money to support many school programs and student activities. This year's goal was to raise approximately $350,000. Items and services are donated and sold over a two day auction event. I donated two original watercolor paintings and plan to make it a regular part of my yearly donation schedule. In this disturbing time when arts and music programs are being continually cut from schools, I love being able to add my support on such a personal level.
The two paintings I contributed to the event can be seen below (prints are still available but the originals obviously have new homes):
If you aren't familiar with the #TwitterArtExhibit, you owe it to yourself to investigate. For the second year in a row, artists from around the world have donated postcard-sized pieces of art to benefit great causes in Moss, Norway. The exhibition's creator, David Sandum, has already raised enough money from the project's first year in order to purchase 221 children's books for the Public library in Moss, Norway. This year, the exhibition's sales will go to benefit the Moss, Norway Women in Crisis Center. We are hoping it will be a resounding success. For more information about the exhibition and it's goals, visit the following link: Twitter Art Exhibit Two
I awoke to discover a pleasant surprise yesterday. I had been selected as one of 21 Artists to Watch for 2012 by SkinnyArtist.com. For those who are unaware, SkinnyArtist.com has published a list every year for the last several years highlighting up-and-coming, emerging, and established artists, photographers, and writers who understand the value of sharing their creative process and supporting the larger arts community around them. Visit the site by clicking the link below and enjoy reading about the 21 artists that grace this year's list. I am truly humbled and honored to be included among such notable members of the artistic community.
I have a very simplistic business card that I normally hand out to clients, include in mailings, and haphazardly leave in random places. Today, however, I decided I would design something a little edgier based around one of my original watercolor paintings. The idea is that the card is unusual enough that it might cause a person to really look around to find the information and ultimately visit my website. I may need to be a bit selective in choosing who to hand this card to as it might not appeal to everyone. Ultimately, however, it was a fun experiment to see if the design concept worked or not. Personally, I like it!
I have finally finished another in my series of floral paintings. This one is of some tulips and once again I find myself amazed at how difficult floral pieces really are. This series is not only giving me a new insight into and an appreciation for the work of floral painters but is also forcing me to step outside my comfort zone in an attempt to learn new techniques and methods. Although I find it to be difficult and frustrating at times, I am also discovering how much fun it is to blindly jump into a new genre in order to further one's creative abilities. I am hoping that, with time, I can become much more proficient and efficient with my floral painting methods and force myself to not overwork areas of the petals. I have found that my standard 18th century reproduction palette occasionally needs a boost when it comes to botanical work and I have had to sneak a little Winsor and Newton 'Opera Rose' into the mix to attain that floral 'brightness' that is necessary. It also seems to help when I attempt to make vibrant purples.
My "Tubes" painting is hanging in the "The Vinyl Grove" in Den Haag, The Netherlands. If you check out their website, it can be seen in one of their wall images. The vinyl record store just opened a short time ago and is bound to be your primary destination for primo audiophile quality recordings.
Check out the gallery at http://www.powersfineart.com/. If you are using an iPhone, iPod, or iPad then you will automatically be redirected to a device specific optimized version of the site. Enjoy!
I decided I would brave creating a floral piece in celebration of Mother's Day. However, I completely forgot how difficult it is to create the subtle textures and shading in the petals of flowers. This piece has definitely given me a new appreciation for floral painters. I plan to try a couple more of this type of painting in the future in order to become more comfortable painting outside my comfort zone.
I found, in the creation of this piece, that my 18th century reproduction paints just didn't have the oomph to do the flower petals justice so I decided to supplement my standard palette with an Opera Rose out of my Winsor and Newton stash. My limited palette needed a slight bit of augmentation in order to achieve the level of brightness needed for this type of work.
Overall I am pleased with the end result in regards to this piece but I can see some room for improvement in my floral painting techniques. I plan to work a bit more on creating the subtle shading and shadows required in the petals of a floral piece in order to perfect my skills. I love the flexibility and unpredictability of watercolors and getting them to create the effects I am after is a very entertaining part of the challenge. I am sure some more florals are to come.
Dan Possumato's album "Pulling Out The Stops" is now available from CDBaby and features my artwork on the cover. The album is currently in the hands of reviewers, record stations, and magazines in Ireland and will be in stores soon!
Dan's music is based in the traditional music of Ireland and the album features many top-notch musicians from around the world.
I am slated for the month of July to display my artwork at "The Madison Park Cafe" in Seattle, Washington. The cafe is known for its spectacularly reviewed cuisine, appreciation/support for local artists, and its famous clientelle. Come make a reservation during the month of July and enjoy an amazing meal prepared by executive chef Rich Coffey while being surrounded by the artwork of Ken Powers.
This amazing eatery fills up fast due to its incredible cuisine. I would suggest calling the restaurant at 206-324-2626 to make a reservation for any evening in July. Visit the cafe's website at: The Madison Park Cafe
I recently lowered the price on my artist's portfolio book, "The Mundane", to celebrate Mother's Day. I have lowered the price by $5.00 USD and plan to keep it that way for a while. Sales of it have been fantastic and I am going to pass my enthusiasm for it on to the consumer. The book can be found at the links below and is a select compilation of my original watercolor artwork that spans the period from 2004-2009. I am currently beginning work on a second volume that is going to be constructed in a slightly different manner and will have many more insights into my creative processes. Thanks for your support everybody!
It is amazing what one can find around their workplace to paint. While these tools tend to stare me in the face on a daily basis, I repeatedly take them for granted in terms of not only their usefulness, but also their beauty. Occasionally I find tools in just the right setting to peak my artistic interests and take my mind off the daily hum-drum that encompasses my work. I always wanted to paint these rusty metal shears but never could envision them in the proper composition. Finally, the day has come when these mere everyday work things can be appreciated for more than just their intended purpose, but also for their artistic beauty!