Monday, March 31, 2008

What A Weekend

Kristopher blew into town this weekend and that means a list of area restaurants that he must eat at before his return to England Sunday evening. His Mother was busy planning the big welcome home dinner when she got the list, her turkey didn't make the cut, it was replaced by Haddad's Lebonese Restaurant ( I would most definitely preferred the turkey ). Saturday evening was Monical's Pizza and lucky for me (and my wallet) he left before lunch on Sunday.

While Kristopher had meetings, I was at Roam the Dome in Pekin. It was a weird experience, I was in crafters world, between the woman who had bottles melted in a kiln until they were flat and the Hinkley Springs water display. Boothes that looked like an upscale garage sale to a few artists that I have actually seen at shows. We were invading their space and they weren't too sociable, we had crossed the line in the sand over into their turf .
Most shows that I have attended in the past require an application with images and a resume, this one would let any body with cash set up in the dome. ( I won't be putting this one on my resume) All in all I did OK though - I mean I'd do it again - even though this was not your art show crowd , they still knew quality when they saw it.

Sunday morning I attended the Peoria Art Guild jury for Junction City, it was amazing that even with all the preaching about following the rules and going over your entry before submitting errors were everywhere. From images that weren't loaded with the top up or including your name in an image or description ( both of which would normally exclude you from the show) the staff at the Guild did their best to fix them before the jury saw them. All in all it was very helpful to see the process, at least now I have some idea of how it is done. The mystery has been revealed, some people are stupid and some are really talented. Guess it wasn't a mystery after all.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Web Fever

Again last evening, I'm sucked into the new software SiteSpinner. It is as easy as the manufacturer claims. On my seconded attempt I have five pages, all linked in the banner, an uploaded brick background, paintings on all the pages, and it looks pretty good.

But I can do better!!!

I'm still a newbie at this whole site building thing, and the more I look around the web, the more ideas I get to make the pages better.

Every site I go to now I'm looking at the way it was made. How did they get that on the site? The subtle blending of the components to create the desired affect. I can totally see how techies would get hooked on this drug, and people actually are paid to do it. It is amazing, The Woman is looking for a hobby maybe she should give this a whirl. I put it on her computer, maybe I'll give her some encouragement.

Tonight is the Bohemian meeting so I'll only have limited time to try some things out tonight. Have a small show this weekend and judging at the Junction City show this Sunday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Fell Into The Darkside

Last night I rushed home and installed the new software.... I couldn't wait..... it claimed to be so easy that you could create a site in moments. I had to give it a whirl, after loading it up I set off with a blank page.
I have a good idea in my head what I would like to see in a web site, I've just had a hard time getting on the screen. I've tried Microsoft Frontpage and gave up a couple of days into it. Even with the book I had a hard time getting what I wanted. I started the page, brick banner across the top with name in large tan block, some cool gradient shading, wow not bad for the first hour.
I grabbed myself a snack and thought now I'll start painting, but the screen kept calling me....come back ....I'm easy....let's do something else.... I started again.
Now I'm converting bricks to buttons that link the different pages, adding images, background colors. I'm addicted. This project was named "first try" and I know when I get home I'll be ready to go for the brass ring the real site. I have already been working on it in my head and figuring out what I need to do.
So my review of SiteSpinner so far is, it is everything that it was promised to be.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lori's II

The last few evenings I have been working on "Loris II" the side view of the last painting. It is coming along and with some work should be done sometime in the next week.
I was thinking about starting "Fenway" after this painting, but I think I may squeeze in some of the 8" x 8" painting for the Peoria Art Guild fund raiser this fall. I sort of have a good idea of the images as I have three ready to sketch out. The first will be Robinson Memorial Fieldhouse, as they are in the process of tearing it down, and Bradley Alums may make a bid on it. As for the others I have some random shots of doorways in the Peoria Area that may be interesting.
I will be fighting the urge to attack some new programs that I just received to help me put a web site together. I also have some hardware that will allow me to have dual monitors that still has to be installed(but since I don't have the second monitor/TV yet there is no reason to hurry) The program is called SiteSpinner and it is supposed to be an easy learn drag and drop web building program. The only problem with any new program is that they take time away from painting, so I will have to force myself to take it slow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Have to Step it Up

As I drove to work this morning(The Woman and kids have started their "spring break" so I am the only one up) I was noticing all the decorations on the houses as I passed. There is no shortage of concrete statues, door hangings, and what my art friends would refer to as "craft crap". I can only assume that the same attention to fashion is carried on inside these abodes. What I took away from this is that most people, no matter what their means, try to beautify their surroundings. Maybe they prefer the cute little crafty plaques, or maybe given the option of some other images at the same or slightly higher prices they would choose what we like to call "fine art".

It's all about disposable income. I think in today's economy, with the price of everything going up in a huge tornadic vortex, that appears it will never end. If I can offer something that has a "perceived value" to the patrons at these summer shows, one would hope that they would take the high road of "fine art".

Next Saturday I am doing a little show in Pekin, we will see if these are worth the effort very soon. It will be the first time that I will be over in Pekin, definitely a "crafty" town.
March Madness - BABY!!!

I usually take off for the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, but because of the bonus day in San Francisco and a few days for wrestling, I am suffering through missing a few games in the afternoon.
I am in the studio this evening, the game is on and the coffee is brewing. It may be a late night so I better get to work.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Computer Troubles

Among the many duties that I must attend to during the day, probably the most stressful thing that can arise is computer troubles.
When things are well in cyber world, life is grand. At the touch of the mouse you can venture to far off destinations, converse with friends, order supplies, and even watch movies. (The Woman loves her new Netflix subscription)
But when things go wrong it can be a gut wrenching painful journey to try to get this #%$!** box to work. Luckily, I sort of think the way it thinks and can usually find a way to correct most situations. The only problem that I have is that it takes a lot of time away from painting when these things rear their ugly little heads.
Other family members using their own computers would fix most of the problems that happen on the studio computer. Everyone in the family has their own “magic box”, three Dell units and a HP laptop and for various reasons(usually they have got some wicked thing from some malicious site that they were not on and have no idea why it doesn’t work) they decide “Hey Dad’s is right hear we’ll just use his”. The second is a more expensive alternative, switch to an Apple.
I have been looking at the new Apple computers and it is on the list of “dream” items for the coming year. But for now I will have to plug along with the one I have and as soon as I put in the dual monitor card and set up the second monitor by my easel I may not want to switch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Works Done

Well the sample yardage is ready for pick-up and I’m back in the studio painting. “Lori’s II” is coming along and with some luck and some more cold drizzly weather it should be finished in the next week.

I am thinking that when it is finished I will start “Fenway” as I would like to have it for the summer season. As I have said before ballparks are sort of a drive killer. They are very tedious and time consuming to finish, but the upside on sales of prints is huge. So being the “Art Whore” that I am, I will follow the money.

I am moving at a good clip having finished seven paintings since November. There are still other things that I need to address, like the display that I have at a local Health Club. I want to hang a series of framed prints at the Clubs at Rivercity along with a large sign telling people how to order. The sign is what is holding me back, maybe I’ll get on that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


As most anyone who regularly reads this blog or knows me personally, I have a pretty good day job. After 30 years it has been honed downed to what is usually a very carefree gig. I know what I have to do and when I have to do it, it gives the freedom to somewhat plan my day and to anticipate what things need to be done in advance.

Then there are the surprise parts, in the fabric biz every spring and fall we come out with “new and exciting” which is really sometimes just old and rehashed. This week has been what I refer to is the semi annual “Sample Hell”, when several large shipments of new fabric arrive and there is a huge push to get them to the sample maker as soon as possible. This week that means they must be ready Wednesday morning.

So for the first part of this week for all you people who hate me cause I have this cushy job, take heart, it’s all work, work, work…..

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Patrick’s Day

Today I finally sent off two framed prints to New York as a repayment for the tickets to the Yankee’s game that I went to last May. As in a previous post when I went to new York the President of Swavelle Fabrics was going to give me his season ticket seats to the game, but he had already given them to his son. He then contacted a friend who forwarded his seats, he apologized that they were not as good as his. When Tom Walker and I got to the game they were first row second tier, if his tickets were better than these he sits in a really good spot.

Anyway, I sent him two prints one for his efforts and one for the gentleman who’s seats we actually sat in. A small gift for the “hook up” of free seats to the game.

And in honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’m changing my name today to O’Gross.
Making Many Prints

Spent the weekend making prints for the show season this summer. If I am going to do these shows I need to have many prints. How many prints? I have no idea. I tell my art friend Linda Wilmot that I never know what the "crack" is going to be at a show.

I am always asking The Woman what she thinks of the prints but even she doesn't know. Until you get there and see what the attendees will really want. Sooooo.... I end up making about a dozen of each of them and then have to rush home after the first day to hastily make what ever is hot and hope I have enough for day two.

The problem arises when it is a one day show then you just generally lose out on the sales as people generally don't want them shipped.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Two Applications in the Mail

Last night I took advantage of the clean and organized studio to fill out two applications to summer shows. Sugar Creek, a large show in Normal IL and Rhapsody in Bloom in Peoria. The Normal show is very big, some 10,000 plus people (the show says that there are 20,000 + but I think they overestimate to get people to sign up). It is a semi affluent community with lots of well-educated and knowledgeable patrons, if accepted I should do OK at this show.

Rhapsody in Bloom is another story; I chose to drop the show last year. The crowds are sparse (they charge an admission to enter the show and this does keep lots of people away) and it is always sweltering hot. This year I’m going to give it one last chance, since I now have the “print rack”. This addition to my booth has been very beneficial at the few shows that I had it last year, so I’ve gone from losing lots of money at a show to at least making worth my while.

So Rhapsody is getting a second chance and I am putting more smaller shows on the list all the time. On March 29th I will be setting up at “Roam the Dome”, it is an inflatable dome in Pekin IL, it is not your typical “art” show – I don’t even know if other artists will be there. People will be there though, and if people are there I can sell them (I hope, all I have to do is about $50.00 to break even so it’s worth a shot)

Also on the docket for this year are events like – Peoria Park Districts – Baseball Card Show, the Morton Pumpkin Festival, and Pekin’s Marigold Festival. I’ll let you know if my plans of being an “Art Ho” turn out

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Midget Wrestling/Peanut Butter and Jelly

For the most part I am glad to live and work in the Midwest, there is a feeling of security in these troubled times. No gated communities, the seasons change, people know you, and yet Peoria is big enough to have many things to do.

But having been to other cities, there is a huge hole that is begging to be filled. Even Des Moines, another Midwestern berg, is so much more artsy that here. It’s hard to describe and even harder to emulate, it’s a feeling of coolness, small shops filled with one of a kind items, and not everything chain store.

Today on the front page of the “Cue”, the local Journal Star newspapers Thursday arts section, an article about midget wrestling. Now don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s great that the little guy has the ambition to get out there and make a living anyway they can. But does it need to be on the front page of the Cue. Granted this is more of an entertainment section than a true art section, but even that speaks to the underlying problem here, that people in the city would find this entertaining.

Of course we can’t leave out the fact that in the Wednesday Food section the featured story was of the culinary delights of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think next week they are running an exposé on Hot Pockets.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So Far So Good

Working in a clean studio is sort of cool, I can get around better, I know where things are at (the benefit of cleaning and organizing the stuff myself – Thanks Woman for making me do it) and I can actually get some things done.

Wrestling is over and I’m looking forward to a weekend that either The Woman or I don’t have to get up at 5:00 in the morning and take Kaleb to the bus at 5:45 AM and then drive to a small town gym and sit for ten hours on bleachers.

“Lori’s II” is coming along and with the upcoming NCAA basketball tourney coming in the next few weeks I should be able to knock it out soon. (I usually take a few days off to watch the first round but with the trip to San Francisco and the State Tournament for Kaleb, I think I’ll just work those days)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It’s Crunch Time

The deadline for many of the summer shows is fastly approaching, last night I when to a fellow artists studio to photograph her work and to help set up the online portfolio that is required for the Junction City Show. Many of the artists that I have talked to are a little confused at first, but I am sure this is a good thing and the way of the future.

I myself am glad to get away totally from slides. This was a difficult, and unforgiving way to have to submit your images. If you didn’t have the benefit of a projector you were forced to view your slides over a lighted table or hold them up to a light source. Either way you were looking at a shrunken image and not what the “jury” would see –YOU HOPE!!

My mind goes back to a committee that I was on for a local show and at ever meeting the envelopes would go around the table and members would take out the slides, still in the sleeves, and hold them up to the window. Then would mark yes or no on the outside of the envelope. There was no way to tell exactly what we were seeing. You only hope that other shows have a better process.

This year the Peoria Art Guild is finally going digital with the online application. They are also inviting members and artists to view the process of the jury. I was quick to send my RSVP, as many of the local artist vent to me directly after the notification letters are sent out. It will be priceless to hear the comments and critiques of the judges during the process. Even if I don’t make the cut, to know the areas that need to be improved will be mind opening.

I am not happy with the last two diners and am rethinking which paintings I should submit to the Fine Art Fair. I think that I will just submit what I think to be the best four and not worry too much about a themed submission.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Studio is Clean

After this weekend at the State Tournament, Kaleb finished in the top ten but lost a match that would have guaranteed at least placing, I came back home and true to my word have cleaned my studio. I did take most of the morning but at least it's over and I can now start "Lori's II".

Kaleb was very disappointed with the way the tournament ended, a very quick pin call by a ref who must have been in a hurry to get home. He was out of position to see the call and as the video shows Kaleb was only on his back for a second, but he was on his back. At least he was the last man wrestling for his team and made a good showing.

The most important thing though is that today is my Iowa Princesses birthday. I only wish that she was here so that we could make over her in the way she deserves. Happy Birthday Week Charlie Kay.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Well I guess the bad news is that now when I get back from the state tournament I have to clean up the studio before I start the next painting.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Funeral for a Friend

Attended the funeral today for Robert, it was a different experience than I am used to at such things. There is closure at a Jewish funeral, the casket is lowered and family members and others show their respect by tossing dirt in. Robert was full of life and a very unique individual who passed on to all he touched jewels of wisdom that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.

After attending the get together at a local restaurant, I have made my way back to the studio and hopefully can put some paint on canvas to finish "Lori's"

Tomorrow it is off to the state tournament and then I can start "Lori's II" of course I have to clean my studio first ( I promised The Woman I would clean it before I start the next one)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Great Night

Last night was a great night for painting, The Woman had dinner done when I arrived home and I got to go straight to work. I managed to put in the lamppost on the corner and all I have to do tonight is the stoplights themselves.

I may get some bonus studio time in tomorrow as we will not be open at the big Mitchell Fabrics. Robert Favus, the founder of the company past away Sunday at his Florida home and we will be closed to attend the funeral. Bob was a cool guy and he loved to sculpt, he even tried painting for a while. If we all live to be ninety and enjoy life as much as he did it would be a great world.

Friday and Saturday The Woman and I will be in the huge metropolis of DeKalb (made famous by the recent Northern Illinois University shootings) for the IESA Wrestling State Finals. We are hoping that Kaleb will do well; our tip as parents is for him to stay off his back.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Illinois Art League Meeting

Last night was the first board meeting of the year for the IAL (the first February 4th, was cancelled due to fog, see the post Bonus Day) it seemed to go well. The board has had some issues with getting things finished and if this meeting is any indication of how the year will be, it should be much smoother.

Did not get to work on “Lori’s” too much this weekend but I am in a good position to finish within the next few days. Then it will be on to “Lori’s II” which is the view from Powell Street.

At some point I need to sketch out “Fog City” and then I will have six diner paintings to choose from for my application to the Riverfront Show.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Art Show/Sectional Update

The art show this weekend was a success, as I have stated earlier you have to go out and let people see your work or no one will know what you do. This venue was at a local garden nurseries spring sale and the people where very receptive. Lots of interesting people who you may not normally meet at an art show.

Kaleb and The Woman were at the Sectionals in Olympia/Stanford and Kaleb again did well, winning another first place and a bye his first round at state. So that means a trip to DeKalb this weekend and even more money on t-shirts and hoodies.

At least I got to spend the weekend sitting on a very nice teak garden bench (on sale for 230.00 at Hoerr Nursery) instead of the gym bleachers at Olympia – and I maybe made enough to offset the souvenir purchases of The Woman. Win - Win

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