Thanks to Cordelia’s Mom for inviting me over to hang out on her blog. Hey, where did all those cuppycakes go?

Originally posted on Cordelia's Mom, Still:

CupcakeATMWhatever could be better than cuppycakes?

How about my first ever guest poster, and a very special one indeed!  Please welcome artist Anne Belov (a/k/a Bob T. Panda of The Panda Chronicles).

Anne Belov is a wonderful painter and illustrator whose work, both the serious art work and the satirical panda illustrations, brings joy to anyone who views it.  In fact, Anne allowed me to use her painting “Nothing Overlooked” in my February 6, 2014 post.

I can’t wait for Pandamorphosis to be published – just check out the pictures from the book, two of which are being posted here with Anne Belov’s permission. Don’t they make you want your own copy, for yourself, your kids or your grandkids?

Click here to  learn a little about Anne Belov, to view some of her wonderful artwork, and to read about her upcoming book, Pandamorphosis, which will be out later this year (hint…

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Can You Stand One More Post About Kickstarter?

I am in the countdown for the last hour of my Kickstarter project to fund Pandamorphosis, my wordless picture book, which I have been working on for about four years.

Pandas are yearning to spring forth!

Pandas are yearning to spring forth!

Being tuned in to all things “Kickstarter” I’m always interested in reading news stories about it.  In the last two days I saw a story about how film-maker Spike Lee used Kickstarter to fund a film project, and I just read the “from the editor” column in Smithsonian Magazine, about how a recent article that required travel to foreign lands, was funded with Kickstarter. Still another article came up about a publishing company that was going to use crowd-funding to fund and assess appeal for a book.

One of the questions that I see pop up is “Is it fair for people who are already famous to use something like Kickstarter to fund their project?”

My answer, after a little consideration, is a resounding yes.  The truth is that even people that we perceive to have “made it” already, still need to keep working, and the gatekeepers, whether they be publishers, movie studios, music companies, or art galleries are growing increasingly squirrelly over making a financial investment/ commitment in “the talent.”

Pandamorphosis: at 116% in less than 48 hours.  Go team.

Pandamorphosis: at 245%  with 30 minutes to go. Go team.

I think that the fact that scholars, well known film-makers, and musicians are using crowd-funding gives the process visibility and credibility that it didn’t have at its inception. It gives small fish like me the opportunity to raise money for a small-ish project.  Yes, there have been artist project grants available from various sources for more than 30 years, but for those, you have a large number of artists competing for a small number of grants, that are decided by just a few people. Crowd-funding changes the dynamic and allows artists and creatives of all varieties the chance to take their project before the people who may be interested. I think it is a wonderful thing to come into being.

Well, my project has just about 30 minutes left to run. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’ve gathered more than twice as much funding as I originally asked for.  Most of the money will go for project expenses and reward fulfillment, but there will be a small amount “leftover” to fund more projects that come out of my studio.

Thank you to all who have participated and supported me.  And if you’ve never contributed to a crowd-funding project, I urge you to get out there and find a project you love. Sign up as a backer, even if it’s just for a dollar. You might just have some fun, while doing something good.

More Lessons From the Land of Kickstarter

Well, if you haven’t heard already, I am just over 48 hours into my third Kickstarter project. I’m ready to publish my Pandum-Opus, Pandamorphosis at long last.  This is a project I’ve been working on, off and on, for over four years, several of those years quite intensely.  At last I think it’s ready, and apparently other people do too.

I decided to take a gamble this time, after listening to webinars, reading articles, and masterminding several other projects for some of the other Whidbey Island creatives, and only run my campaign for 16 days. (Cutting out the deadly second/third week lull.)

Here’s some of what I learned from all these experiences, especially regarding the “crowd” from whom you are trying to get funding:

1. Be prepared. And by that I mean, don’t just start trying to make new friends in the week before your project launches.  (This probably doesn’t apply if you have designed a seriously cool gizmo that everyone is going to want or are an experienced game designer. Your audience will find you and throw large bags of money in your path.)

2. Thank everyone…the same day that they pledged, if you are awake in your time zone. No matter how tiny their pledge is.  Someone who doesn’t know you personally, and pledges just $1, is saying that your project is so cool, that they just wanted their name attached to it.  And if you do know them and they pledge that same $1, maybe that came out of their grocery money for the week. A pledge is a pledge. Say thank you.

3. Let your friends and supporters know about it, without running them down with your cart in the supermarket. (OK, sorry, Diane…it was a blind corner, hope your foot is okay.)  Ask your good friends for their opinion on your project before it launches.

4. Blog and tweet about it without being a jerk.  Give them something fun, informative or entertaining in the post as well.

5. While I think it’s fair to contact other project creators if you have supported their past projects, to ask for a shout out, you should only do that if you had some back and forth conversations with them and they have some chance of remembering who you are, OR some affinity for the type of project you are doing.  Don’t expect it though.  And don’t be this person who sent me a message through the Kickstarter message system:
“Because you have been funded, I was wondering if you could help me fund my project on kickstarter. By sending the url to your funders.”

( I removed any identifying information about their project.  really, I should report him to Kickstarter for spamming me and probably other successful projects, but he has enough trouble already.  His project description was  full of typos and grammatical errors.)

6. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  If your video is just you talking, no matter how cool your idea is, the video should be 2 minutes max,  unless you’re George Clooney.

Rising from the ashes, another phoenix emerges…

I was all set to write a post about some of the recent departures ( of the earthly life and death kind) that have happened over the the recent past.  But then I got other news from someone, that even though we have never met in person, I consider a friend.

In the summer of 2012, I launched my second Kickstarter project in order to publish the first collection of my panda cartoons, The Panda Chronicles Book 1: Your Brain on Pandas. 

The original of this cartoon can be yours!

The pandas help The Little Brown Farm with their Kickstarter campaign.

One of the things that I have grown to love about Kickstarter is the community that has formed around the process of raising funds for a project by putting it on the internet and seeing who salutes.

In addition to doing two of my own projects, I’ve also taken a hand in bringing several other projects to a successful conclusion, Including The Little Brown Farm’s project, Cook on Clay, and Island Shakespeare. I’ve also supported over 20 other projects, mostly in small ways, but it is putting the crowd in crowd-funding that is important.  Besides getting the funds needed to make a project happen, it is also a way to gage whether an idea has legs or not. One project I’m supporting now is Niya Christine’s 365 Story Paintings Art Book project. She spent an entire year doing a painting a day, and now would like to make a beautiful hardcover book. I hope you’ll take a look at it, and support it if you can.

I’m getting ready to launch another project, to get funding for some production work on Pandamorphosis, my wordless picture book that I have been working on for over 4 years.

Pandas are yearning to spring forth!

Pandas are yearning to spring forth!

But the project I want to talk about now, is one that was going on at the same time as my Panda Chronicles project, The Kerfluffles Marshmallow project, to create a new business to make and sell homemade marshmallows. Their project was successful way beyond their wildest dreams, which in turn, created some logistical problems.  (Instead of the approximately 100-200 backers they were anticipating, they wound up with over 2,600 backers, which bumped their project to a level that necessitated a much larger scale operation.)

They did it! They launched a new business, a website, and were able to satisfy most of their backers in a reasonable amount of time. But last week tragedy struck.

A sad day for lovers of fluffy goodness

A sad day for lovers of fluffy goodness and the Kerfluffles Marshmallow team

A fire destroyed the building where their commercial kitchen was, effectively putting them out of business. Now, as someone who has lived through a devastating house fire of my own, I know from experience that they have a long road to recovery.

Even though no one was physically hurt, fire is one of the more terrifying things that a person can live through.  Last year another friend barely escaped from a fire that consumed her office building in mere minutes.  Even though my house fire was almost 19 years ago, the smell of burning wood doesn’t make me think of campfires and happy times, it makes me think of fearing for my life and losing much of what I owned.

My heart goes out to them.  But Spring Barnickle is a strong person.  She  overcame other obstacles in her life, and emerged a kind, creative person.  I know she will come out the other side of this with even more compassion and a new mission in life.

I can’t wait to see what that is.

Ordinary Illuminated and Tim’s Vermeer

I’m in a show that starts this Saturday in Seattle, called Ordinary Illuminated.  When June Sekaguchi, the curator suggested the theme, I was just about beside myself.  Painter of Stuff is how I sometimes refer to myself.  I love taking something ho hum, like blue painters tape, and putting it in a really realistic still life with a bunch of other blue objects. It’s the play between objects, their shapes, their colors, the way light falls on them that makes them fascinating to me, not just what they are.

40 Shades of Blue// Oil on Panel//Anne Belov //all rights reserved

40 Shades of Blue// Oil on Panel//Anne Belov //all rights reserved

So, when I was listening to the radio the other day, I heard an interview on Studio 360, about how Tim Jenison re-created Vermeer‘s painting, The Music Room.  Now, he didn’t do what most painters do, which would be to get as good a reproduction as they can find, and then to copy the drawing via a grid and then while looking at the reproduction, figure out as best they could as to just how Vermeer did it.

Oh, no.

He built a whole frigging room with the light coming in from the same direction, ground his own paint, ground the optical lenses that he used to look at the scene he re-created, and went about it very scientifically.  Then he made a movie about it. Or someone else did, and it opens later this month. I plan to see it, even though I have very mixed feelings about the whole project.

It’s not that I have any qualms about doing master copies.  I’ve done quite a few of them, including a couple of Vermeers.  John Singer Sargent is my particular specialty. I learn a lot about putting paint on a canvas every time I do one.  In the interview with Mr. Jenison, he complains about how hard it was, how long it took him to paint the patterned turkish carpet.

Well, Duh.  It is hard to paint stuff so that it looks real, really real, or mostly real. It took me over 40 years to get good at it. I feel your pain. (sort of.)

Arrangement in Black, White, and Gray //Anne Belov //all rights reserved

Arrangement in Black, White, and Gray //Anne Belov //all rights reserved Okay, so this is SLIGHTLY different than the original…

On the whole, I’m looking forward to the movie, no matter how mixed my feelings are about it. I think that anything that gives non-painters an appreciation for how hard painting really is, is a very good thing.  If the movie becomes popular, there is always the possibility that there will be a new wave of appreciation for realism in fine art circles again. I’m all for that!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out my show if you’re in Seattle, or go to the Metropolitan Museum if you’re in New York. They have five Vermeers. Yeehaw! The National Gallery in Washington DC has four.

Anne Belov and Jennifer Frohwerk at the Ida Culver House Ravenna

Anne Belov and Jennifer Frohwerk at the Ida Culver House Ravenna

date and location...

date and location…

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Really, I couldn’t have done it without them!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Something to be thankful for….

I have returned from my “art safari” and I need to write about it, before I forget everything. We visited 19 Art Museums, in less than 19 days (and some of those were travel days), saw 14 paintings by Vermeer, more than 100 (maybe 200, because of the watercolor show in Boston) Paintings by John Singer Sargent, and had sore feet like you wouldn’t believe.

But first, a word from our sponsor…oh wait, that’s me. This Friday and Saturday is the 13th Anne-ual Anne x 2 show and sale, taking place in my studio. If you happen to be on Whidbey Island, here’s the scoop:

be there, or be square!

be there, or be square! There will be pandas too!

Pass the pie!

Pass the pie!