The Artist Gift List, For Budding Creatives And Experienced Alike

Delightful Gifts for Artists

Pastels, brushes, and other art supplies
Pastels, brushes, markers… so much to choose from!

Maybe you are like me, or maybe this sounds like someone on your gift list :

One of the hardest things for me to come through on has been the promise I made to myself a number of years ago:

I determined I would once again create art.

Instead, it seems that all my time is spent writing, or cleaning house, or doing a hundred other things. I love writing about gardening, writing about art, writing about computer related things… but there is something about sitting down with some fresh art supplies and creating something with that media that is calming, restoring, and satisfying.

For a few years I have been collecting art supplies.

Here are is a collection of those I most want, if I don’t already have them.

Watch my additions, soon I will write about what I want to do with the paints, pencils, papers, etc.

This might be the ultimate procrastinator’s tale…. however, let this lens function as my wish list for art supplies, as well as my record of whether I actually follow through on the dream.

artistic sheep

Perhaps you have helpful hints that will motivate and inspire me to stop only writing about it and actually create a brick and mortar oeuvre. Just note them in the comments, and all of us artist wannabees will be grateful.

(Oh yes, included in this post are examples of inspiring art that is fun to look at, AND a number of informative videos.)

For presents, either birthday or Christmas, art supplies might be the perfect choice. Artistic people seem to constantly need resupplying.

Top Choices?

  • paper
  • sketching supplies
  • water soluble supplies
  • pans and palettes
Know your artist: that is the best bet for choosing presents well.

Little Rembrandts

Children benefit from all the things that encourage them to be creative. Basics are welcome. School supply lists can give you ideas, too.

Artist Paper – that stands up to water

childlike art

For watercolor or pen and inks, a paper that is strong enough to handle the water and hold its surface texture.

Pen Techniques and Supply Suggestions

Know Your Papers

Sketch pads are usually made for dry utensils like pencil or charcoal, but the intended use is listed on the description that is found on the front. when giving a gift for an artist, and you aren’t sure which is their favorite medium, use one that is suitable for a broad range.
Delta Wirebound Sketchbook 7x7
Stillman & Birn Delta Wirebound Sketchbook, Heavyweight 180lb, Ivory White, 25 Sheets, 7×7

Gorgeous heavyweight paper. archival quality multi-media paper. This is top of my own personal wishlist.

Your Talent

If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don’t hoard it. Don’t dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke. – Brendan Francis

pen and ink
Pen nib photo by Charlotte L

Pen And Ink

Pen and ink was my forte in drawing. Working with it, alone and with watercolors, was the way I best expressed the art that resided in my mind. Later in life, encouraging my children to learn calligraphy meant giving up ownership to my pens. And while I do not regret that, since some of my girls developed real skills in calligraphic writing, I now find a desire for the high quality pens and inks that give the best results.

So guess what supplies are now high on my list? Yes, quill pens and inks.

I Love To Draw With Pen and Ink

I let my children have all my pens…. now, what about me?

Supplies For Pen And Ink Artists

  • Winsor and Newton India ink
  • Speedball Standard Point Dip Pen and Nibs
  • Faber-Castell Pitt Artist’s Pens
  • Strathmore Bristol Vellum Paper Pad

Pens and Watercolor Wash

watercolor art

What’s On The Artist Gift List?

This is the short list for gifts that I would be personally happy to receive, make your own for you or someone you know.

An adult Artist who loves watercolors and pen and ink. Also draws sketches with pencils.

  • Paper for pencil, also for watercolor work.
  • Derwent pencil set
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Winsor & Newton or Rembrandt watercolors

Art Gifts For Children

If I were buying a selection of child art supplies I would start out with a large sketchpad of drawing paper, a beginners set of pencils, including a gum eraser. Then I would add a small set of watercolors with some extra brushes (you always need more than one brush!), and a set of good markers.

Did you know that Mary Engelbreit started out with just markers to make her wonderful drawings? And look where she ended up- an Empire and a Career.

An Artist Easel

Dream of an easel
I like desk easels the best, but any easel helps to hold the paper and paints while working.

Royal & Langnickel 150-Piece All Media Easel Artist Set

All media easel set

Delightful start to getting ready to draw or paint, and easel keeps you art ready to work on, and provides the perfect space to keep your utensils handy.

Use It Or Lose It Is The Rule For Your Talents

If you (or giftee) are just starting out, be sure to check out the tutorial videos and the lists here. Slowly build your stock of supplies, but try to give free rein to your creativity.

There are times we waste by not using our paints. Let yourself liberally use the paint and papers, the pencils, the inks… don’t let them sit and languish.

For Those Who Paint

Each medium has its own set of techniques , brushes, and painting supplies. Which artist are you buying a gift for this year?

In Watercolor

  • Brushes, sable watercolor brushes or synthetic
  • Pan or tube paints
  • Palette or mixing pan
  • Watercolor paper pad

Traditional Oils

  • Titanium white, ivory black, cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow light and cadmium yellow paints
  • Palette and palette knife
  • Turpentine or mineral spirits
  • linseed oil
  • canvas

Easy Acrylics

  • paper or canvas
  • paints in same colors as oils
  • acrylic brushes
  • palette and palette knife

Adult Coloring Books are Still Popular

A whole new world of Adult coloring books has opened up and colored pencils as well as crayons are used to give hours of peaceful meditative coloring.

Caran D'ache - Supracolor Watercolor Pencils - Set of 120

Caran D’Ache Color Pencil Set – Supracolor II Watercolor Pencil Set of 120 Assorted Colors

Yes, I want the WHOLE set of these fine watercolor pencils. I want to be able to take my watercolors wherever I go, and this will be perfect.

These work wonderfully for the new adult coloring books that are now available everywhere. Consider gifting someone with one of these pencil sets and a beautiful, intricately drawn coloring book.

Try Your Hand At Coloring

Here’s the how- to if you ever wondered why someone would love to sit and color.

Gift Ideas for Artists – Get your gift-giving creative juices flowing

There are many gifts that will make your artist happy! That is one of the things that makes this so much fun. It is easy to shop for artists when you don’t know what styles they prefer because you are supplying them with something they always need, will actually use, and they can create their own style.

When someone has been practiced in their craft, it does make sense to give quality supplies. You wouldn’t believe what a difference a well made paper or pigment produces in a finished piece.

Art Papers are always welcome

There are many types of papers for artists, but a basic sketchbook is always welcome. A good quality paper that will take a number of media is probably the best choice.

There are differing weights, whether they are suitable for wet medium (like watercolors), and differing component materials ( cotton, wood pulp, etc).

Luckily, most list on the cover or label which medium they are useful for, eliminating guesswork.

The art of painting
The art of painting

Strathmore Spiral Toned Sketch Book 5.5"X8.5"-Gray 50 Sheets
Strathmore (412-105 400 Series Toned Gray Sketch Pad, 5.5″x8.5″, 50 Sheets

Please, please, I wish for this gray toned paper sketchbook by Strathmore. It will be the perfect paper for pro look sketches that pop from the page. Super inspirational for an artist.

Save and Display Your Child’s Art

Display case is such a cool gift idea
Display case is such a cool gift idea

My daughter-in-law uses this for displaying my grandchild’s masterpieces. It is a beautiful frame- such a great idea!

Children’s Gifts, And Those for Moms

Giving children art supplies of some sort is almost always welcome. Level of interest makes the sorting out of whether we get coloring books, markers and crayons, or oil paints, brushes, and canvas.

For moms- ways to organize and display the resulting art sparks many ideas for appropriate presents.

  • a wall-hung case
  • a metal wire with clips (I saw this idea at Ikea)
  • decorative magnets strong enough to hold artwork onto frig or magnetic board

Brushes and Pens

If you know that the artist on your gift list paints in a certain medium or loves to create pen and ink drawings (Zentangle, anyone?), then gifting a great set of brushes or new pen nibs or inks is a very thoughtful thing to give.

Good quality is always appreciated, and to be considered much more than quantity. In other words, one bottle of excellent quality ink is better chosen than five bottles of less expensive, and thus less dependable inks.

This is why it pays ot now a little about the person. Young artists who are beginning to experiment might be the exception to this rule.

Why?

Beginners should feel free to use the supplies and not worry about mistakes. That is why pads of paper are always welcome, too. Plenty of room to practice and perfect their art. This is th ecase in which a gift of less expensive quality, but greater quantities are welcome.

Paint Brush Set Acrylic Xpassion 10pcs Professional Paint Brushes Artist for Watercolor Oil Acrylic PaintingPaint Brush Set Acrylic Xpassion 10pcs Professional Paint Brushes Artist for Watercolor Oil Acrylic Painting

Which Brush for Acrylics?

This video will explain it all for you. Very helpful if you are faced with an array of choices and aren’t sure which to choose.

Are You an Artist? – What do you use?

What is your medium of choice?

  • pen and ink
  • watercolors
  • acrylic paints
  • oil paints
  • clay sculpture
  • graphic computer art
  • pencil sketching
  • oil pastels
  • charcoal
  • markers
  • collage findings

Another gift idea besides the art supplies would be lessons, either with a teacher or online. So many courses are available that are fun and easy. My son loved taking a class with others that resulted in an easy to accomplish oil painting to take home. Look for these which are often offered locally.

My Daughter Uses Mine, The Wacom Drawing Tablet


 

This is the way I create most of my art- with graphics software and a graphic tablet. The Wacom pen tablet is on your graphics artist wishlist, believe me!

Computer Graphics

Not all artists use hardcopy paper. Increasingly there are very fine pictures produced with software graphics.

When it is time to invest in something like a pen tablet, it may be out of budget for a young artists, particularly if they are trying to improve the quality of their chosen software. Buying Adobe Photoshop or other Creative programs leaves little room for the peripherals.

That is why this may be one of the best choices, if you know they have it on their wishlist. Wacom makes several types according to the output desired. Art, Photo, Comic?

Artist Drawing Board – When it is fun to go back to the drawing board!

Studio Designs 10050 Futura Craft Station, Silver/Blue Glass

Wow, someone is so lucky and going to be so happy this year when they go back to the drawing board. Especially a sleek high style one like this.

I have a cheap drawing board, but this is the one I really want. It is a beautiful piece of furniture that really WORKS for an artist.

How Many of You Are Like Me?

drawing

Do you have talents you let go dormant?

 

  • I have talents, but I don’t have time
  • I have talents, but don’t have supplies and tools (or instruments)
  • I am unsure if I have talents
  • I secretly believe I have a talent, but I am afraid I will fail
  • I have been pursuing and developing my talents
  • I’ll think about this another day

 

Wherever you are on the spectrum, think about going into the coming year armed with all the supplies you need to accomplish your artistic dreams. Or help make that happen for the artist on your list.

If I were buying a gift for an artist that primarily created in pen and ink, watercolor, or colored pencils, I would choose a large kit.

A younger artist still experimenting with what they like, or someone who primarily works in sculpture, collage, or oil painting, would probably appreciate a smaller kit. Just see whether they liked the medium before investing lots of money in it.

An Ingenious Paint Accessory, the Masterson Sta-Wet Palette

I want one now. I have canvases, I have acrylics. I used to paint with tempera and watercolors, and occasionally oil paints, but have never actually used acrylic paints very much. I think it would suit me best to work with them… and I love the description of the palette.
My own method for keeping paints usable is to cover them with Saran wrap, but this is far superior for the purpose!


Sta-Wet Palette Keeps Paints Fresh For Days With Airtight Lid.

Pressed Flowers Can Make Pictures

I’ve always admired Penny Black’s pressed flower art, so I could start making my own supplies for that, couldn’t I?
Unusual maybe, but if an artist likes to use mixed media, and often incorporates natural elements into their work, a flower press, along with an inspirational book of ideas could be an inspiring and welcome gift.

pressed flower art
Pressed flower art

Penny Black’s the Book of Cards and Collages

Art supplies are not only pens and pencils, or paints, brushes, and papers, they might also be such things as pressed flowers or found objects. Creating collage is one pursuit that many have found relaxing and expressive.

When I read Penny Black’s book on pressed flower pictures, it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of using such materials in creating art. Simpler uses make wonderful crafts for cards, too. Bits and bobs of buttons and lace are well known to scrapbookers for the way a collage can be created with the most ordinary of throwaway objects. We just have to use our imagination!

The first virtue of a painting is that it be a feast for the eyes. -Eugene Delacroix

A Monet Moment

Monet Springtime

A restful intermission from the busyness of life, a time to eliminate stress by viewing the beautiful, blended colors of one of the most beloved painters to come from the Impressionist movement. 

Respite in the Garden of Giverny

There is something restful, but at the same time alive with the color and feeling of a summer’s day in many of these paintings. Perhaps because so many of them were of gardens, flowers, and the beauty of such sunny blue skies, and so this lens is dedicated to taking a few moments to stop and peer into the paintings of Claude Monet while listening to background sounds and thinking a bit about his painting and life.

Enjoy yourself here, pour yourself a glass of lemonade or a cup of tea and think light and cheerful thoughts as inspired by the colors and brushstrokes of Impressionism at its most blithe.

Monet's garden at Vétheuil
Monet’s garden at Vétheuil

The Allure Of His Art

The Inspiration for the Monet Moment

I wanted to take a tour of this Master’s paintings because I think they produce a serenity in the viewer. A moment’s respite while looking at his paintings produces a visual calming, similar to the way some sounds and music de-stress us.

For me, I think it is partially in his palette, the way this painter layered his colors, partly in the technique of the brushstrokes that create the dreamy effect, and partly because of the subject matter that the overall feeling is one of quiet and repose. Of course, I have my favorites, but almost any of his works have a peaceful appeal.

If I would pick my own personal favorites they would center within the water garden. I like the water lily paintings especially, perhaps for the same reason I like macro floral photographs. The larger than life look into the forms of the petals creates an almost abstract arrangement. The blues and greens predominate, and it is well known that those cool hues are restful and calming in effect.

It isn’t that I don’t like sharp edges or bright colors, I do! In a jarring modern age when the mind is so overwhelmed with so much stimulation, I find it necessary to tone things down and relax with these soothing paintings. I put the lens together in the hope that it has that effect for you, my visitor, too.

A Garden Is Art

Nowhere is that more evident than in this place in Giverny, So much of the masterstrokes were rooted inside this particular place, although there are certainly many other venues that Claude Monet made famous with his works. In celebration of his garden I have taken a look at the flowers that made up the subject matter of the garden at Giverny.

Of Special Interest To Gardeners

monet garden

Planting Plans and Color Harmonies

Book cover
Book cover
The Magic of Monet’s Garden: His Planting Plans and Color Harmonies

For anyone who loves cottage gardens, this famous artist/gardener’s plans will be a priceless inspiration.

“Gardening was something I learned in my youth. I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers” – Claude Monet

 

  • Flowers of Giverny, Flowers that Monet Grew
    Monet’s Giverny is one of the most famous cottage gardens filled with scenes created by the Master. Here are his flowers, so you can make your own masterpiece garden.

Passion – Coffee Table Book for those with a passion

Monet's Passion
Monet’s Passion
Monet’s Passion: Ideas, Inspiration, and Insights from the Painter’s Gardens

A gorgeous art book for those who love gardens and love Monet. Lasting inspirations from photos alive with the beautiful colors and design genius of a master- both on canvas and in the garden.

Why He Planted His Famous Garden

“Monet started to create his flower-filled garden when he moved to Giverny in 1883, refining it over 43 years. He originally planted flowers so that he could pick bunches to have something to paint indoors on rainy days.”-The Guardian

The Much Painted Water Garden

The water garden, and the famous blue-green Japanese style bridge are among the most famous scenes in the artist’s garden. He painted them numerous times and they are among the most loved of his scenes. The colors are always restful and dreamy.

There are many other colors that appear in his paintings of his gardens, of course, and Monet planted his garden specifically for certain harmonies and to provide inspiration for his art.

The Japanese Bridge Over His Famous Waterlily Pond

monet japanese bridge

En Plein Air

means “in the open air”. Outdoor painting was favored by French Impressionist painters.

Book cover
Book cover
Monet’s Garden: Through the Seasons at Giverny

Seasonal borders in one of the world’s famous gardens. This is a book to pore over in winter and create spring and summer plans for your own flower color combinations.

Dreams of Color Made Visible On Canvas

The dreamy quality of a painting

One of the reasons we find for Monet’s venerable popularity rests in the dreamy and restful feeling he gives his paintings, but with such inner movement so that the viewer is never bored. Much like the beautiful quality of dreams, both those of a daydream on a summer day or the dreamlike state of a drowsy evening.

The blurred effect coupled with the subject matter, and the harmonious colors create calm. Contrast that with some of his fellow Impressionists, like Cézanne or Renoir.

Through His Eyes

Failing Vision

“The Artist’s Garden at Argenteuil”

The Effects Of His Eyesight

Many famous artists suffered from eyesight problems, Monet’s were well-known. By analyzing the depictions of the scenes and the tints of the colors, modern scientists can diagnose some of the issues of his poor eyesight and how that affected the way he painted.

Livescience.com discusses the effect of his sight loss on his painting:

During his lifetime it was known he suffered from cataracts.

As cataracts develop details fade out and shapes blur, white yellows, greens become yellow-green and reds are perceived as oranges. Blues and purples become replaced by reds and yellows.

Monet, for whose work fine variations in color were a hallmark, often expressed his frustration to friends and family as his vision failed between 1912 and 1922.

“He wrote letters to friends, how colors were getting dull, and it was hard to tell them apart, and how he had to label tubes of paint,” Marmor said. “He was very vocal about how his failing eyesight was affecting him.”

Argenteuil

Argenteuil
Claude Monet (Dusk in Venice) Art Poster Print – 24×36 Art Poster Print by Claude Monet, 36×24

An example of how the artists failing eye sight changed the tonal effects of his paintings.

Giverny

Garden at Giverny

 

When the artist was at his height creatively and where his happiness fairly saturates his canvases.

Dusk in Venice
Monet felt Venice was a city “too beautiful to be painted”

Dreamlike Color

monetHis fuzzy view of the world gives his paintings the dreamlike quality and results in a calming melange of color for the viewer.

As for the the opinion of the researcher into the results of this sight loss:

“I think it does not say that the paintings are good or bad or answer to the question as to how much they were trying to change their style,” Marmor said. “But I think it points out very dramatically some physical limitations that they had, which both limited their ability to paint, to put paint on canvas directly, but also to interpret what they were putting on a canvas-they couldn’t really judge what they were seeing.”

 

Inspiring Other Artists

He can inspire you just as these artists were inspired

Monet was not the only one to paint his garden- his living artistry in creating a garden inspired other painters, as well.

book coverMonet’s Garden

If you are in love with Monet’s Garden, yet another source for inspiration and reflection on his plantings and paintings

monet spring
‘Giverny Garden’ c.1890 Philip Leslie Hale – American Impressionist Painter – 1865 – 1931

Summer, Giverny
Summer, Giverny’ 1910 Clark was an American Painter – 1876 – 1949

He was an artist who inspired his generation and those following it to look at nature a whole new way, paint in “plein air”, and, unwittingly perhaps, turn a handicap like poor eyesight into an artistic asset.

Morning on the Seine, Near Giverny, 1896

morning on the seine

These Colors In Your Home

home colors
Monet’s Colors In Your Home

Taking interior decor colors from one of your favorite paintings is like the reverse of finding paintings to match the room. With many of the color picker apps available, this is a cinch to accomplish.

One of my favorite sites for creating a color board from favorite pictures is Colourlovers.com.

From creating some color boards, whether online or off, the design for a room’s color coordination is a step away. A very important component of your interiors is completed.

Waterlily Paintings

waterlilies
Water Lilies of the Orangerie as Giverny

Morning on the Seine near Giverny

m-seine

I believe one of my favorites is “Morning On The Seine”, perhaps because of the way the picture is divided between the blues and greens in a way that almost looks like fractals or the way a kaleidoscope breaks colors.

The Boat at Giverny (Or) the Norwegians, the Three Daughters of Mme. Hoschede

The Boat at Giverny

Home Decor Color Schemes

 

m-home2

The Palette

At the beginning of his career Monet used dark colors, but from 1860 on, Monet shunned dark colors and worked from a palette of pure and pale hues.

If you look carefully, what appears black is almost never really black. It might be purple or a mix of colors, but not ivory black.

He said of this:

“As for the colors I use, what’s so interesting about that ? I don’t think one could paint better or more brightly with another palette. The most important thing is to know how to use the colors. Their choice is a matter of habit. In short, I use white lead, cadmium yellow, vermilion, madder, cobalt blue, chrome green. That’s all.”

The Real Monet – Painting his famous waterlilies

Meadow in Giverny

Do you have a favorite Monet painting?

 

Gift Ideas For Art Therapy

People everywhere have discovered the relaxation and therapeutic value of coloring. Adult coloring books are even on sale at the checkout of my grocery stores! I think it is a great idea, but I also think we should take this love of coloring one step further:

Allow our own creative vision loose!

Not instead of using the coloring books, but along with them.

One type of coloring book
One type of coloring book
Beautiful Creatures: A Grayscale Adult Coloring Book of Animals

What does the use of a coloring book encourage?

I think it helps us feel inspired by another’s vision. The beauty of a talented artist frees us from worry that we won’t make something “artistic enough”. We aren’t held back by that fear. A coloring book is for our own creativity what training wheels are for a young bicyclist. It allows us to build confidence in our own abilities and strengthens the muscle coordination.

Using another artists picture does that for us, too. That is why children love their coloring books and paint by number sets.

But I am venturing the opinion that we ought to allow ourselves some freedom to be creative in our own right as well.

Copying For Practice, Not For Sale

We can start with copying ideas, there is nothing wrong with that when working on our own art therapy, but at some point we ought to take a chance on our own vision and style. To copy is an age old way to learn technique, but is never meant to pass off as one’s own.

Now get your supplies, spend some time in your coloring books, make a similar design of your own, and finally set your self free with your markers, pencils and blank sheets of paper.

Are you ready?

A Gift List For Coloring

    •  High quality colored pencils

 

  • Reliable pencil sharpener

 

Some Pretty Books To Get Started

Don’t forget to have a sketch book on hand for when you feel like freehand drawing.

Notes

Using a coloring book and pencils makes art easy and attainable. It sidesteps the worry that we will not be a “good artist”.

“Mindful art”  has been shown to reduce stress and provide a sense of comfort. (1)

Why does it work?

  • It helps switch off an overactive brain and center the mind’s focus.
  • It was observed that the repetition  of coloring creates changes in heart rate and in brainwaves.
  • Activates the creative side of the brain.
  • Ritual that helps you unwind from the daily grind.

What Medium Should You Use?

It really depends on what you like, but I would start with pencils because they are so easy to use and blend. Pastels, markers, and pens,are other possibilities. Paints are also something you could try, along with good old crayons. If you have any doubts about how to color- since it may have been a few years since you attempted to try your hand at art, go ahead and view some how to videos on Youtube. I was surprised at the number of them that either showed tips and tricks ( like how to color leaves) or just recored someone coloring..

Don’t forget to do the drawing yourself, though!

Discovering Kentucky Craftsmen At The Artisan Center of Berea

Tucked away on Berea Exit 77 off the Interstate Highway 75 is a gem of a travel center, a place of respite and art. Perfect for Christmas gift shopping when looking for the unique.

Art Is A Lifestyle

Washroom Flowers
Washroom flowers show off artisan pottery

Washroom flowers show off artisan pottery

Rest Stop Or Gallery Hop?

When I first stopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center I was on my way to Cleveland, Tennessee, where my daughter was attending Lee College. I was delighted by the well landscaped building, and generous parking spaces with the air of an art gallery that is geared towards giving a sense of Kentucky’s hospitality.

Everything about the place shows the attention to excellence that craftsmen give to their creations, and it makes a welcoming stop for travelers. Everything has a handcrafted feel, including the stone walkways and outdoor patio. The story of Berea’s famed handcrafts and the early native inhabitants are displayed through the entry, starting in the parking lot.

Within the spacious building are two parts, one dedicated to a gallery hop of Kentucky artisan offerings, while the other holds a cafe with plenty of seating, and the best, cleanest restrooms in the nation. They even have seasonal flower arrangements that give the atmosphere of a hospitable inn.

Homespun Crafts Make Great Gifts

homespun crafts and fabric goods
There are all sorts of baskets, fabric arts, wooden wares that make unique gifts.

There are all sorts of baskets, fabric arts, wooden wares that make unique gifts.

Arts And Crafts Displays

Handmade pottery
Shelves of pottery are just one of the attractions

The Gallery of Arts And Crafts

My favorite part of the stop is to stretch my legs walking through the gallery of art, and looking at tastefully displayed crafts on shelves within the shopping part of the Artisan Center. I have purchased unique gifts for the family on my trips to Atlanta, and treasures for myself. From beautifully crafted wood items to oil paintings, finely carved and painted gourd art, horsehair pottery, handthrown pottery, prints, photography, glass art, there is a well curated array of the types of crafts that the artists of Berea can produce.

From inexpensive to fine art that is worth every penny,with each trip I attempt to buy something that catches my eye. I have some fine handmade baskets, pottery mugs, and several paintings that adorn my own home, all thanks to my stops at this place. I love it, and it is actually one of the highlights of my trips. In fact, one of these days I wish to travel just to Berea to further explore their art community, but in the meantime, this stop by the side of the road has provided a peek into a rich and varied legacy of the Appalachian culture.

Things to know

cafe
gallery
restrooms
open 9:30am – 3:30 pm
open 9am – 6pm
open only during center hours
serves Kentucky cuisine
showcases Kentucky products
clean and modern
lunch specials
special exhibits
handicap access

Open during the hours shown, daily | closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

Have You Been There?

Have you visited this Artisan Center?

  • There are some walkways and trails, although I haven’t had opportunity to follow them.
  • There are selections of music CDs available, books, food items, all Kentucky based in flavor and inspiration.
  • A friendly information desk attendant greets you as you enter the main door.

Christmas Time Trips

Holiday tree ornaments
Christmas Goodies -along the way

Christmas Goodies -along the way

Berea Has An Artful History

Berea,Kentucky began its existence as an Abolitionist town from rural beginnings. As time progressed and laws in Kentucky dashed the original hopes of an integrated society, the town became known mainly for its college and its lumber industry. Then began an interest, in the wake of the Arts and Crafts Movement, in reviving the culture and traditions of Appalachia. Although some of the highest ambitions of the visionaries of Berea were not realized, it did become a hub of the American Crafts Revival.

Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer

 

 

As An Artist

A collage of The Artisan Center displays.
A collage of The Artisan Center displays. Sampling the many remarkable gifts available for sale.

I not only enjoy viewing and buying art by other artists, I learn by seeing the wares that are displayed. What kinds of frames are the best for a painting? What do gourd art methods look like up close? What interesting ways do artists combine materials to produce something useful?

Whenever we visit gallery exhibits it tells us something, and this gem of a display refreshes my spirit . It tells me that art is alive and present in our daily lives. The surprise of fresh flower arrangements that adorn a clean bathroom is as much art as the big oil painting on the wall with spotlights. That teaches me something, and speaks volumes to the way our lives are enriched.

 

When roadwork was done in the area, the name of the address changed, but the center is still located in the same place it always was. Once listed as a location on Walnut Meadow Road, its road is now known as Artisan Way.

Useful Information

Look For Exit 77, off of Route 75

Gallery of arts and crafts, including handmade jewelry, with a cafe and well kept restrooms. Be sure to have some money and space set aside for gifts

Road Name Has Changed

A selfie of the author

I love the clean restrooms, don’t you?
© 2016 Ilona Erwin

Become A Garden Writer

writing for your blog

Improve or Begin to Write About Your Garden Experience

The world of garden writing is a varied one. Most of us think of it as pure nonfictional writing that covers the how-to of gardening, making a garden, and growing plants, but the best garden writing incorporates more, and there are pockets of garden writing that soar with inspirational prose and are hybridized with spiritual and motivational writing.

Write What You Know

  • …And write what you love, but that is not all.
  • Spelling is important.
  • Punctuation is important.
  • Work on improving your writing skills, consistently.
  • I want to write things for which my only explanation for writing is not, “I needed the money.”

Improve Your Writing Skills – Keep writing inspiration and tips handy

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov.

Poetic and rhetorical devices to enhance your writing. Work on improving the beauty and magic of your words.
Cultivating Words: The Guide to Writing about the Plants and Gardens You Love

Get to the gist of your goal to become a garden writer. Covering such topics as the “how-to” article and giving guidance on writing well, the will help you interest your reader and organize your outlines. The all important story telling gets a chapter, along with the nuts and bolts you will need for your blog or book.

Different Styles

…of writing are good to know and practice.

Garden Writing is Technical Writing

Though it may be primarily dressed in another form

In a sense all garden writing is technical writing. When the subject includes so much of science, such as horticulture and botany, a certain amount of precision and accuracy is needed. It is necessary to both identify the plants properly and to discuss the matter of designing and growing a garden well.

Even in a romantic fictional piece of garden-focused writing, it is important to get plant nomenclature and description correct for the reader to fully appreciate the thought and emotion being conveyed. To use some wordplay, it roots the imagination into the the fertile, substantive source of the writing.

How will the transport of the scent of lilacs be truly understood if the writing isn’t clear about the context of place, and the nature of the plant? Lilacs, for instance, are known to survive for a long time, surviving the ruin of a house or the disappearance of the other original signs of human habitation. The scent is a musky, heady sweet fragrance, and the shrub was once planted in almost every dooryard of old farmhouses. It is a plant that connects generations, and their memories of their own old homesteads…sometimes miles from where the family would finally settle. Understanding a plants persistence or ephemeral nature, its scent or unpleasant smell, where one might have happened upon it, or who was likely to grow it may make a world of difference in how to incorporate the response to a characteristic, the gardens, and the plantings into a story.

How-To Writing

In writing “how-to” information the technical aspects are easy to see. For success on the part of the reader, they need all the accurate information necessary to accomplish their desired task. Use expert information, and if anecdotal information is included, please label that so the reader can take that point into consideration in their own set of conditions.

Plants have many romantic common names, and there are enough duplicates which refer to very different plants to create some confusion, so the use of Latin names ( as frustrating as that can sometimes be…see the case of the aster or the autumn clematis…)

More Reading

Why Latin?

Be Accurate

  • Check your facts.
  • Check plant names.
  • Make it a rule to use Latin plant names, whenever possible.
  • Record up to date information on hardiness, etc.

How to Write About Gardening: Get a Camera, Open a Blog, Start Writing

writing rules

Most garden writing is “how-to” essay writing. It is largely non-fiction, although some of the best writers do use a story telling style as they describe their activities or what impressions nature makes on their lives. The format of “How to Grow” or “5 Tips to…” “10 Plants…” etc. also work well.

Try to visualize your audience. Is it a new gardener, or someone who is experienced and wants something new?

I personally do not like highly hyped garden writing, which is common in the genre. Not everything is easy, beautiful, or must-have in gardening. In fact, gardening is a highly individual occupation, with a range of tastes in what is considered ideal both in in style and method. Hype sells more, but restraint and valuable information educates leading to the success of the reader and the future cultivation of the hobby.

Anyone can have a beautiful garden that functions well for their family with all the planning helps and online tutorials that are available. I really believe that. It only requires taking the time to watch some videos and read some articles before you are ready to face the challenges and choices of making a garden.

Now, mind you, I;m not saying it is easy… or even simple, but it is easy and simple to start. And those first steps are supported with expert advice that is as close as your iPhone or PC to support you along the way.

The great thing about nature is that it wants to grow and thrive. So you are bound to have a number of successes. Failures are just learning opportunities, anyway. Write about both your successes and your failures; they both make interesting reading material.

Keep It Conversational

Writing in a conversationally is a style that mimics the way we communicate verbally. Almost all my online writing is done in this manner, which means I play fast and loose with numerous ellipses, sentence fragments, and such devices.

Common Writing Tips To Review – Do you have these skills under your belt?

 

“Read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King

  1. Be clear, and edit, edit, edit.
  2. Avoid cliches.
  3. Use, but don’t overuse, adjectives and adverbs.
  4. Try to use as many of the five senses as possible.
  5. Research and validate your facts.

Who’s Who in Garden Writing – A sampling of those authors I like, and why

Gertrude Jekyll, famous garden author
Gertrude Jekyll, famous garden author
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

Helen Van Pelt Wilson

You may not be familiar with her name, as she was an American garden writer more popular in the past generation, but Helen Van Pelt Wilson was a writer whose warmth and love of garden plants sparked enthusiasm for creating gardens and growing things for many, including me. I recently purchased two of her out-of-print books through Amazon, so I could have copies on my bookshelf, since I had borrowed the library’s copies so many times.

His writing is clear, fascinating, and expert. John Brookes tackles the difficult task of covering a wide range of topic and does so with seeming ease. I love his books, filled with the best of illustrations to inspire and informative in the way only an excellent teacher can match. I own many of his books, and would gladly own them all.

Penelope Hobhouse

I love English Garden Writers in general, but Penelope Hobhouse has been the one to mark my sense of garden color and fired up my imagination more than any other. She, too, tackles very broad garden subjects, but it is her intimate garden experiences which I love to hear about and the illustrations of her matchless garden plant combinations which inform my own gardening.

Tracy Disabato-Aust

This is a garden writer from my own native Ohio. That is not why she is one of the best garden book authors, though. She creates garden books which are practical, inspiring, and ultimately the best for American gardeners. She manages to provide expert information that almost any gardener in the USA can use. That is a tall order for so vast and varied a country, but perhaps that accomplishment is due to her great design sense and the fact that she concentrates on the plants. You learn much about gardening by reading her books and they point to straight to the garden to put the head knowledge into experience. She is my favorite contemporary author, at this time.

Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll is an example of how a garden writer may be an arbiter of taste and change the landscape of how we make our gardens. Influenced herself by William Robinson, her writing grew from her landscape design prowess and reputation. She is still influential today and her ideas are the foundation of creating perennial borders and monochromatic gardens. Her most famous books have reappeared in reprints that are revised for plants name accuracy ( since many of the names have changed over the years) and with colored illustrations.

 

 

Penelope Hobhouse – Expert and Enjoyable Garden Writer

Penelope Hobhouse is an example of fine garden writing at its best, from her expertise on plants to her accurate and enjoyable prose.

In Search of Paradise: Great Gardens of the World

Start your own collection of her fine tomes.Her expert guidance through some of the great gardens makes for an excellent tour.

Garden Writing

 

Ilona’s Garden is a Website…. and my garden

I write about what I know – a key to better writing

Some websites are impersonal things. They are a company or about a product, or general information or lots and lots of information and writers. That is great- sometimes it is just what you need and want. But sometimes someone has decided to share a bit of their life and the wisdom garnered from their own experiences. That is what my garden website consists of, in Ilona’s Garden. Come visit with me and read about the plants I love or what I know about garden design. Or you can visit the blog on my new domain: Ilona’s Garden Journal for conversation and whatever is going on in the garden and during the season….

 

If you would like to know more about gardening my website holds the keys of my experience of many years in my central Ohio yard. It is always growing! I like to blog, play around with trying new stuff, garden (of course).

Designing for Zazzle and Cafepress are two new avenues I’m taking. Mainly on Zazzle, to help supplement income for online costs and to use my graphics and photos in an alternative way.

Little Known Secret About Garden Information Online

writing secrets
writing secrets

Maybe it is better known than I think, but the web is flooded by poor or just plain wrong garden information. It is true… and garden writers, in the confines of their hangouts sometimes will bemoan the fact. It isn’t a matter of a gateway, or a degree, or anything like that. It is a matter of experience with plants and gardens.

I noticed this when I was first writing my beginning pages on Geocities. There were garden websites that were getting quite popular, even though their creators knew little about gardening…. they were quite good at marketing and at making community. That is an expertise in itself, but it doesn’t help people garden successfully, except when they share their own hard won advice. And that is the secret sauce: real gardeners who like to talk “over the fence” about what is working for them and the basic how-to science and art of making a garden ( things like propagating plants, and building soil….etc,etc.).

Right now, there are a flood of garden writers coming online and making blogs from mainline media, like magazines and newspapers. It raises the quality of the writing, and sometimes of the information, but it also seems to bring the system of inbred networking and impersonal disconnect from that industry. That is just my opinion, you may think differently, but I still hold out for the individual voice of the everyday gardener who will tell you the truth when something won’t work for you. Or is just as glad at a small vegetable patch as at a magazine ready potager layout. Because it is all just as good, when it comes to people loving their little plot or -if they have it- spacious stretch of landscape, whatever makes it yours. Size doesn’t matter; well, it kind of does, but not in the way we think (mostly in how much work is involved).

Anyway, I want you to know why I keep laboring on creating a website for gardeners. I have LOTS of information and links going out to other great sources . It isn’t always easy to find my sites in the flood of new websites and blogs! But that is OK, once you find it I hope you will bookmark and then offer your suggestions on how it can be better for you. I invite you to do that by commenting on this lens, or joining the Ilona’s Garden Facebook page, which has discussion and comment opportunities and you can upload pictures of your own gardens,etc. That is an idea! I love other people’s gardens.

The marketing and writing lesson which I could away from the Squidoo community and others that count in creating truly helpful information is “to focus in”. That was something that was starting to get obvious as early as a couple years into writing about gardening. It is a huge topic when all the variables are factored in: climate,soil, plants,environments, animals,even fashions…. So my focus is not just Ohio, but on the groundfloor of “Central Ohio”. And from there everyone who has similar circumstances or similar needs for plants can benefit.

The little known secret for everyone is to find quality sources for your garden information. Sometimes hooking in with someone who gives you leads and links. That is why I started The Garden Librarian, too – to wade through the many garden books and find the best.

A comprehensive guide to garden writing.
The Penguin Book of Garden Writing

The Modern Writing Tool – A Mac Pro Computer

I switched to the Mac when I had to replace my laptop. There is so much going for the design and capability of this tool that you will be happy you made the decision to buy it.

A Place To Write – A Beautiful Inspiration To Write Daily

Can you imagine yourself sitting at a lovely writing desk, before a large window looking out into a blooming garden? can you picture yourself inspired to write all about the effects of the garden on your life, on your thoughts, and how you created the gardens with love? Can you convey the emotion of your heart when you peer into the face of your favorite flower? If you are not a garden writer yet, you may have all the makings of one. Give it a try.

a pleasant place to write
a pleasant place to write

Let Grammar Girl Help You – Improve your writing

Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips)

Everyone can use some help on their grammar, and good grammar is a must in good writing.

Blog Well – No matter what your topic niche may be

ConcreteLoop.com Presents: Angel’s Laws of Blogging: What You Need to Know if You Want to Have a Successful and Profitable Blog

 

Better Writing Links

 

  • 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer
    A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to share their writing tips. The response was far beyond the initial expectations, and the quality of the tips included was amazing. Thanks for everyone who contributed. Now, without further delay…
  • 9 Expert Tips For Better Writing
    One of the things I like best about social media is the way it helps me discover talented writers. They remind me a lot of distance athletes with their…

About Niche, Evergreen, And Seasonal Writing

It is all old news now: blogging is /and has been/ changing.

If you are new to creating a blog and writing online, maybe these terms are new to you. Or maybe you are like me, and never really “got it”, needing to bone up on these pillars of blog success and learn some new “tricks” at the same time.

With the tsunami of internet blogs comes a necessity to keep your head above water just to get an average number of readers. But fear not, there is still opportunity and with good old grit and determination online writers can still craft a following while pursuing their dream of creating a body of work.

First Some Definition

What is a niche?

It is a specialized subject area. Preferably your niche is narrowed down to the point where you have appeal to a loyal tribe of people who share your interest.

The alternative is to have a broader area of interest, but create a prolific amount of articles which have good authority.

My own example is that my sites mainly revolved around the topic of gardening. Since that was such a broad topic, I further reduced the scope to  Central Ohio Gardening , with an emphasis on home landscaping design.

Even there, I am finding that I must greatly increase the output of articles to improve my online standing.

The point of having a niche topic is to build authority and gain readership by reducing your competition for keywords and interest. It is a combination of catering to Google for search engine results and catering to those who wish to find authoritative information on their favorite subject.

What are some other popular niches?

laptop lady

DIY Home Decor
DIY Crafts
DIY Interior decorating
Selling Homemade Items
Self-sustaining lifestyle
Grow your own food
Use alternative energy
Preserving Foods
Simpler Living
Green living
Organizational Skills
Lifehacks

Actually, these are all highly saturated topics now, but by studying “long tail keywordsA long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that contains two to three words” you can successfully choose a good niche topic for your blogging.

I have seen advice consisting of writing on a certain long tail keyword for a few key posts, and then branch out to adding posts on other related keywords for your chosen subject matter. I tend to write as the muse hits me, but this tip strikes me as a more organized and targeted approach. Even though my blogs are established, I think that is good advice to round out my own content.

What Is An Evergreen Post?

scotch pine evergreen
As may be surmised, no matter what the season year, in and year out, something that attracts reader’s interest  is called “evergreen content”.

Posts that have no expiration because they hold long term interest.

What type of topics might qualify for this type of article?

    • Instructional “How To” Tutorials
    • Product Reviews
    • Top Tips
    • Lists

What do people love to read about? Food, romance, money, weight loss, their pets …you know, the usual. It’s the usual because we are perennially interested in these topics as humans.

And that… is Evergreen.

Seasonal Writing

The seasons give rise to traditions in food, holidays, activities, and many other types of subjects that perennially pop up and create interest in our writing.

Here is a list of common topic examples by month:

January: 

  • dieting
  • depression
  • taxes
  • money, budgeting, earning extra income
  • New Year’s resolutions
  • weather
  • baking, recipes

February:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • football
  • income tax, spring,
  • Chinese New Year
  • love, romance, dating.

March:

  • Daylight savings time
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Spring
  • Easter, Palm Sunday, Passover
  • diet, exercise

April:

  • April Fools Day
  • fashion, shoes
  • Crocus, Tulips
  • spring birds
  • relationships
May:

  • Spring break
  • Mother’s Day
  • spring flowers
  • babies, children
  • gardening
  • travel
  • graduation, prom,
  • summer employment
  • weddings

June:

  • Weddings, graduation
  • summer, summer break
  • children, games
  • travel
  • outdoor activities
  • Father’s Day
  • summer employment

July:

  • Fourth of July
  • cameras
  • Independence Day
  • Warm weather foods (barbecue, ice cream, salads).

August:

  • summer activities
  • back to school
  • computers
  • college, dorm
  • students
September:

  • Labor day
  • Clothing
  • Canning
  • Fruit
  • Health
  • Harvest

October:

  • Crafts
  • Autumn
  • Halloween costumes
  • Baking
  • Fashions for fall and winter

November:

  • Remembrance Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Turkey, holiday recipes
  • Gifts
  • Baking
  • Black Friday

December:

  • Christmas, holidays
  •  Ornaments, Christmas trees
  • Winter, cold, ice, snow, snowflakes
  • Winter sports
Writing Schedule
To take advantage of seasonal searches, write your articles 3 months in advance of the expected interest dates.

Generally Speaking

Building a solid base of evergreen content within a niche is a good way to start out with your blogging. It is also a great way to view where an established blog might flesh out their appeal.

If you are interested at all in making income from your writing, I’d say these concerns should rise to the top of your writing “to-do” list. You are much more likely to hit your target when focused, then using hit or miss style of building your blog.

Myself? When free to experiment with writing topics, as in my time on Squidoo, I found that evergreen content and creating a niche were best combined for success in drawing readers and earning money.

Today, one of the fastest ways to get these articles seen and grow in traffic has been through the use of Pinterest. Utilizing social media is the next step, after writing a foundation of solid content.


Grandma Moses Holiday Paintings

 

Traditional American Holidays Through Grandma Moses Eyes

Grandma Moses Picture
Spring

One of the things that endeared Grandma Moses, as Anna Mary Robertson Moses was known, was her ebullient painting of tasks and times that were important to the hearts of Americans. She masterfully brushed her naïve paintings in an almost childlike way, but filled with pictured memories of the many years of a lifetime of living. She painted scenes that in her time were no longer a part of the daily existence of most Americans,but that harked back to their distant memories of their own “Grandmas”. The simple, but hardworking lives of the former generations were evoked in that dreamy and softened way that the years between so generously gave them. In return, modern day people were reassured of the soundness of their roots and the cultural DNA they came from.

Grandma Moses is an artist ideally suited to accompany us as we travel through some of our favorite celebrations of the year, and celebrate her art, at the same time.

Grandma Moses Picture
Grandma Moses recalls a buggy ride

‘Good Fun’ – By Grandma Moses

‘Good Fun’ , painted in 1957,is one of her famous winter scenes with colorfully bundled group riding a horse pulled sledge full of cut evergreens for Christmas.
Good Fun
She was probably most famous for her winter fun paintings. Whether it was Thanksgiving “catching turkeys” or sledding down snow covered hills, there were many opportunities to use the backdrop of winter for illustrating some of the many ways country folk made use of their time while waiting for spring planting to arrive.

Winter was brightened by the holidays of Thanksgiving and christmas, and capped off with the festivities of Maple Sugar time.

Grandma Moses Picture

Rural Simplicity in Autumn – sometimes a season is the celebration

Autumn

Sometimes holidays aren’t official, and in America, especially, we love to celebrate important local events. Maybe that is passed down from our forebears. The community times of quilting bees and barn raisings were all looked forward to and took place in their own seasonal times of year. Grandma Moses helped record the celebrations of holidays from the self sufficient tasks of the farming culture she was a part of, and recorded how many Americans took advantage of times to get together and have fun while they worked.

Times Of Fellowship And Community

Quilting Bee

quilting bee
Gathering for quilting bees

 

Quilting Bee
1950

Grandma Moses painted the special holiday times we all take part in within our collective calendar throughout the year. Included were those event special to early Americans: the quilting bees, sugaring off, and making apple butter.

OBSERVATIONS ABOUT GRANDMA MOSES

“As a hard-working, elderly widow who advocated traditional American values like industry and self-sufficiency, and whose appearance and mannerisms bespoke of a bygone era, Moses perfectly embodied an idealized representation of the archetypal “benign great grandmother,” -J.E. Barnes

The County Fair

County Fair
County fairs were a time to show off canned goods, garden produce, and livestock. It was a brief holiday during the growing season for those in Agricultural pursuits.

The County Fair

Red Checkered House

Artwork Oil Paint of Grandma (Anna Mary Robertson) Moses - The Old Checkered House, 1853, 1945-1946 on Tin Sign by Masterpiece Collection (20*30cm)
Artwork Oil Paint of Grandma (Anna Mary Robertson) Moses – The Old Checkered House, 1853, 1945-1946 on Tin Sign by Masterpiece Collection (20*30cm)

One of the publics favorite subjects was that of the Red Checkered House. Grandma Moses painted it numerous times, and it is still a way to celebrate old fashioned America.

Instead of a print or painting, this is reproduced on tin. Great for Rec rooms and kitchens.

We Love To Skate
1945

Grandma Moses : in the 21st Century
Grandma Moses : in the 21st Century

A fascinating look into the paintings of Grandma Moses.

The Origins of Halloween

Originally, this was a Church holiday:

” … In the eighth century Pope Gregory II moved the church festival of All Saints to November 1. The move in part offered a substitute for the popular pagan celebration of the Celtic New Year, which honored both the Sun god and Samhain, Lord of the Dead. The Celts believed at the New Year the dead came back to mingle among the living. As the ghosts thronged about the houses of the living, they were greeted with tables loaded with food. After feasting, masked and costumed villagers, representing the souls of the dead, paraded to the outskirts of the town leading the ghosts away. Horses, sacred to the Sun god, were often sacrificed, and there are some records of human sacrifice during the festival.

… Even into the eleventh century, many pagan beliefs were accepted by Christians-beliefs such as the fear of Fate, the use of medicinal herbs with incantations, sacrifices at springs and crossroads to the spirits of the place

… .In the tenth century, Abbot Odilo of Cluny began celebrating the November 2nd following “All Saints’ Day” as “All Souls’ Day” to honor not just the martyrs, but all Christians who had died. People prayed for the dead, and many other superstitions continued. Food was offered to the dead, and it was often believed that on these two festivals souls in purgatory would take the form of witches, toads or demons and haunt people who wronged them during their lifetimes.” – Christian History Institute article,2007

The American Interpretation

From History.com,

“In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. ”

That is largely the way it is celebrated now, perhaps with less of the sense of fun, and more morbidly centered on the darker and more frightening side of the holiday.

In this scene, Grandma Moses shows the night alive with activity. The trick or treaters dressed up in sheets and the jack o’lanterns, along with the traditional holiday colors of orange and black recall Halloween for the painter and the viewer.

Halloween

Halloween
A very American holiday.

Halloween

Halloween
1955

What is Halloween? In America, it is the time to dress up in costumes and on “Beggar’s Night” parade through the neighborhood, visiting houses on the block for free goodies, especially favorite candies and candy bars. Many people hold parties on Halloween, and decorate their homes and businesses with appropriately scary decorations.

Pumpkins play a big part in decorating and celebrating Halloween. Carving out faces and making the pumpkin into a lantern is a favorite activity. Anything “spooky” becomes part of the event.

Bethany Lowe's Folk Art Halloween
Bethany Lowe’s Folk Art Halloween

Grandma Moses

Portrait of Grandma Moses On Her Farm
Portrait of Grandma Moses On Her Farm

Grandma Moses

Introduce your children to her art

The Year with Grandma Moses
The Year with Grandma Moses

A book that focuses on a year in Grandma Moses’ world, to delight anyone with scenes from all seasons. Great way to encourage your own budding artists.

Grandma Moses Quote

“I paint from the top down. From the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people. “

Over The River…and Through the Woods – to Grandmother’s House We Go!

To Grandma's
Over The River to Grandma’s House, from an old Thanksgiving song.

Over the River To Grandma’s

‘Over The River To Grandma’
1945

The song that means “Thanksgiving holiday” to many is recalled by this painting in its title.My own grandmother remembered the bells on the horses as they drew a sleigh through the snow, and this is the picture that is conjured up for us. Not just the sleighs, but frozen creeks and the fun that was a part of what could be very hard winters burried deep in snow.

About the song

Over the River and Through the Woods

Over the river and through the woods,

To grandmother’s house we go;

The horse knows the way

To carry the sleigh,

Through the white and drifted snow, oh!

Over the river and through the wood,

Oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes,

And bites the nose,

As over the ground we go.

Over the river and through the woods,

To have a first-rate play;

Oh, hear the bell ring,

“Ting-a-ling-ling!”

Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!

Over the river and through the woods,

Trot fast my dapple gray!

Spring over the ground,

Like a hunting hound!

For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the woods,

And straight through the barnyard gate.

We seem to go extremely slow

It is so hard to wait!

Over the river and through the woods,

Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!

Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

 

Catching Your Own Turkey

catching the turkey
Food for The Table – Catching The Turkey

Catching the Thanksgiving Turkey
1943

Catching your own turkey for the Thanksgiving feast is a truly an event of the past for the vast majority of us, but the traditional feast of roast turkey with all the trimming is essentially intact.

In Grandma Moses time, as in today’s holiday, Thanksgiving was a time for families of America to meet together while remembering the Puritans, the debt to the Indians, and generally give thanks to God for the bounty of the harvest that year. It is a time to reflect on one’s many blessings while getting as stuffed as the centerpiece of the meal, the Roast Turkey.

Another scene of “Catching the Turkey”

Thanksgiving – Catching the Thanksgiving Turkey

turkey scene
One her favorite subjects

Catching the Turkey

Because “Catching The Turkey” was one of her favorite themes, there are a number of variations on it. It is obvious that snowy scenes were one of those that she liked, there are so many of them. I love the wide range of seasons, and have a hard time choosing between them.

Winter Scenery

LET ME HELP

Christmas tree time
Christmas tree time

Let Me Help!

Christmas Eve – and tales of sugar plums…

 Christmas
Christmas

This artwork of Grandma Moses is not so well known as the others. It portrays the fantasy of Santa Claus, his sleigh, and reindeer flying up into the sky.

A favorite tale of many during the Christmas Eve rituals of leaving cookies for Santa, perhaps reading the “T’was the night before Christmas” poem… and awaiting the big event, Christmas!

Twas The Night Before Christmas

Christmas Eve Tradition – puzzles

At my house we like to have a puzzle to put together on Christmas Eve. Here is one with a Grandma Moses picture.

Service Is Over 250 Piece Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle
Service Is Over 250 Piece Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle

Part of the fun is the puzzle and part is the pretty picture at the end. This has both pieces of the fun.

I love the details and the large amounts of color that gives just enough challenge for a Christmas Eve session of putting together the puzzle.

Christmas and Christmas Eve – Waiting for Christmas

Waiting for Christmas
Waiting for Christmas

Waiting for Christmas

Waiting for Christmas
1960

Surely one of the most beloved of holidays, Christmas in America has followed quite a journey to come to the present form. From the earliest Puritans who did not observe it at all, to the exuberant Victorians who created many of the traditions we now know as an integral part of Christmas, for many Christmas is filled with cut evergreens, shiny lights and decorations, sweets galore and festive social events.

For me, one of those people who loves Christmas, there is far too much to say on the topic for this tribute to Grandma Moses, but you might wish to look at Christmas pages about traditional ways to celebrate. I like the Advent devotional times that create an atmosphere of reverence for the holy event that this holiday celebrates.

Christmas Traditions

In a nutshell, it is the holiday in which we celebrate the nativity of Jesus, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, as they say. It included the type of family closeness and joy that Grandma painted into her depictions of this holiday.

Notice the expressions on the children’s faces as they await Christmas morning- the dreams of sugar plums are delayed in the excitement which puts off sleep to the very last possible moment.

Christmas

Holiday
Holiday Celebration

Christmas celebration caps the year with family gathering together to open presents, enjoy the decorations and engage in a holiday feast.

No matter which American holiday is your favorite, it seems that Grandma Moses painted a dear, old fashioned memory to match it.

I hope you enjoyed this sampling of her charming work which helped open the way for many other folk paintings to be appreciated.

iPad Owner Adventures In Blogging

I originally bought my iPad to be a simpler way to blog while traveling. So how has that worked out for me? And what might my experiences mean for you?

What are the features of an iPad?

  • Small slimline profile means it easily goes into a large purse. It can function as a phone, though I don’t use it that way.
  • Loads of apps, many of them free.
  • Accessories can expand usefulness (I have a keyboard cover).
  • Bigger screen than a phone, while remaining compact.
  • Portable
  • Battery has longlasting properties (compared with a laptop)
  • Works well for reading eBooks and PDFs

I ended up buying an iPad Air 2.

ipad controls

-click home button to awake, twice to bring up app screen.

-screen adjusts to landscape or portrait mode.

It has a camera, but so far I found that a bit awkward to use. Better sound when not encased in the Belkin cover, but still good. Clear, beautiful display.

The Adventures: Traveling with an iPad

I found some things I genuinely liked, but the entire experience didn’t quite work out as seamlessly as I’d hoped. Still, I am not ready to say I have fully mastered bringing this portable device into its full potential.

Things I had to get used to:

  • Apps are not full programs, so graphics may need to be done elsewhere. Luckily there are easy online programs like Picmonkey and Canva. Only Canva has an actual IOS app.
  • Passwords. Setting up the device is just like setting up a new computer, so sometimes I have to go looking for passwords. There might be an easier way, but I didn’t know about it.
  • Can’t get used to using it as a phone… at least not yet.

 

I liked the portability and accessibility of the iPad, loved the long battery life, and the Belkin cover lights up and makes typing easy.

That said, the keyboard features are smaller and more awkward than a full laptop keyboard. I found it harder to feel at home on the tablet and that interfered with my inspiration to write- but that is just me. I feel that as I get used to it, it will be as natural and I’ll stop thinking about it so much.

One app that makes a tablet highly functional is Evernote. When I put something into it, it transfers it to all my devices that have the app- including my phone and laptop. That solves issues with the need to have good photos/graphics for a post.

My eyesight isn’t very good, so the smaller screen is not always best for me. I enlarge, but I tend to like a larger screen. Huge imporvement on a phone, however.

Am I happy?  Yes. Happy enough that I want to further explore which apps are best for me and to get greater skill and comfort in using tablets rather than laptops.

What Apps For Me?

I use many that are on my iPhone:

  • Waterlogue for fun
  • Camera +
  • Pronto for graphics (this is a new one for me)
  • Evernote
  • Weather
  • and 22 other apps, including  basics like camera, mail, etc

Other Opinions about Traveling With An iPad

Gizmodo had a post that sings the praises of using an iPad. Joel Johnson also cited the light weight, small size, and the great battery life. This is essentially the same experience as mine.

While written in 2010, I think the plus and minus of the iPads are the same today, six years later.
I do use mine differently since blogging is my main activity on any computer.

Useful Accessories For Tablets

From experience texting, I knew I couldn’t get very far with writing posts, or even social commenting  without  a keyboard. I just can’t. But I found a Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2, after much searching through reviews. I have to say it was a great purchase which I am very happy to use most of the time I am on the

Device Warnings -be sure to keep your OS up to date.

Summed up

I like this device more as I learn to use it. It is very user friendly with apps like imovie along with a decent camera, its size, and its good battery life. The screen makes watching video a great experience and Siri is there to help, too. I think it was worth the money invested.

Need To Make Banners Or Headers For Your Collections, Stores, Or Posts?

If you need to make a professional looking graphic for your headers or banners it is no secret that Picmonkey and Canva are free, easy, and accessible.

However, maybe you didn’t know about that, yet.

It is easy to sign up for free access to most of the features and use the online editor. However I use the premium, for the extra features. Want to access those? Use my handy affiliate link for Picmonkey, and support me while you do yourself a favor and gain some really useful apps for graphics.

Picmonkey

Here is a link for Canva:

Canva for Web

Canva is very clear that their graphics are for personal use only. So nothing made on their site should be sold, although I am sure that you can make personal headers for your store or collections on this site.

Picmonkey has no dire warnings, so I am not sure about the use of your graphics, although they will be perfectly fine for anything personal, as well. Personal use is posting on your social media, blogs, etc. as well as making products for yourself, like cards you want to send.

Commercial would include POD products like those sold on Zazzle, etc.

Right now the only things I am recommending these sites for is the personal usage. Making Facebook headers, headers for your store, or profile pics. Collection and category graphics which can all be branded with your particular style.

 

Advice For Zazzle Newbies

Zazzle Designs from My Store

I just finished giving my artist daughter some advice about Zazzle, and as it kept building into almost a “mini-course” I thought maybe it would be a good idea to write some of that advice down in one place.

Start Learning Success Tips For Zazzle

Start with this Post

This post has been UPDATED on Jan. 12, 2018.

Zazzle has much improved their setup. The design tools are quite robust and I rarely have any troubles with “hang-ups” or freezing, now. The auto-save features on the site are reliable.

The questions started with… What can I do about my created product “hanging up” when I try to post it for sale?

To this, and other difficulties like it, the answer is save your design and write down the title, description, and tags in a text file to copy-paste. Once saved, the design will show up in your “saved file” and you can usually proceed without a problem. The short answer is that sometimes the javascripts get jammed. It might be your browser, Zazzle’s site, or a slow internet connection. Who knows? Just save whereever the hangup is and then go from there.

This happens to me most often when I am trying to post for sale. That is why I use a text file to keep from losing the description and tags. It is useful as a temporary file for making more products with that same design. Copy and paste the description and tags saves time and typing, while tweaking them for individuality makes them a bit unique.

Designer Editor Improvements

  • Select images and text in a design you’ve made, look for the “edit” dropdown, and chose “copy”; then paste the creation onto another surface, even a whole new product design.
  • “Filters” can change colors of an image into several types of styles; “Patterns” create a number of repeat styles.
  • Many fonts are available, once text is typed the spacing can be tweaked via the “AV” dropdown.  A few text warps are available: arc, inverted arc, vertical.
  • Infinite color choices for background and for text.

Example

I used a filter setting to make the background look more like I wanted. On the reverse side of the design I used the arc and the character spacing tweaks for some of the text.

Making Multiple Products with a Design
You can still “Quick Create”, but it is no longer recommended, and takes a long time to “post”. With the copy and paste powers of whole designs including their text and settings, it is easy to make multiple products with your favorite creation.

Keep Track of Colors Via HexFiles

My next suggestion is to keep a copy-paste file of color hex file codes for certain designs along with description and tag words so that when making more products from that design these are accessible. Call it “Zazzlecode” or something similar.

My Best Choices for Hex Color Codes

The Zazzle color chooser itself gives you the hex codes for the color you have chosen- write it down to use again ( that source file, you are keeping).

Want to know the trendiest Pantone colors? This w3schools site is a great resource.

Or go directly to the Pantone site, but to the insider area where you type in a color name and the info (including hex number) comes up on its own page.

Pantone Color Finder

SEO Is Important for Zazzle Sales

The next bit of advice is how important it is to use some basic SEO, since an artist has to do her own marketing. Use descriptive relevant terms when titling both the design and product, when writing the descriptions, and especially when choosing tag words and phrases.

If you don’t know very much about SEO, there are scads of articles and sites online which explain this to bloggers. Artists can use that same information when working to get Google to find their products, too.

  • Zazzle prefers that you use around 10 important keywords, although you can use more.
  • Describe your design in terms you think people will search for.
  • Don’t inflate with irrelevant terms, there is a No-Spam policy in place.
  • Use places that can help your SEO, like descriptions and titles for images, as well as design descriptions and tags. Collections also have tags and descriptions.

Collections

These area ways to curate your designs, introducing less popular ones in ways that organize your site. They are useful for social media sharing, so learn how to make them (quite easy), then display in your store. It’s been recommended to have your collections near the top.

Example of My New Puppy Love Collection

This is also a ways to share more of your designs to potential customers. They get to see more of your work than trying to spend time in your stores (which is awkward and time consuming for most people).

The New Title

Duplicates are a problem in SEO results, so while it used to be okay to have multiple products that use a design titled and described all the same, this is now a problem. Customize the written labels and descriptions for each product.

Views

Products views are important. Even your own view of one of your designed products counts, but if you have created something that no one views over a certain length of time, it gets hidden from the general marketplace.

So include your creations in the collections, share them, and go to their pages if necessary, to increase the possibility of sales.

That sums up the latest of gleaned tips for gaining a foothold in Zazzle success. If you have tips add them, please.

Zazzle Success Tips and Pointers

Share Your Best Stuff

Now there are “collections, products that you can curate any way you wish. These are shareable ways to make your store more attractive and help customers find related designs.

  • Share with your friends and followers on Twitter, Facebook, G+, and your own website.
  • Group product designs by theme or occasion
  • Relate by product type (iphone cases, postcards, etc.), event ( birthday, retirement, et al), theme (vintage, cats, fractals), or occasion (Christmas, Mother’s Day, 4th of July).
  • Don’t create huge Collections. I made this mistake at first. Since then I have pared down those very large unrelated ones to help me better serve customers in finding what they want.

Examples of Two of Mine

How to make and add to your collections.

directions for making Zazzle collection
Making a new collection on Zazzle
  1. Each profile has a “Collection” button in the navigation bar. Click on that and there is an intuitive box with the plus sign that you click to make your group, which you name and tag.
  2. Make a banner which is  1140 x 315 pixels. Upload to the banner space in the collection ( in the same manner that Facebook banners are uploaded and changed).
  3. Next: Go to a product that you wish to add. Find the “add to” button.
    add to collection button
    addto button

     

  4. Click on the down arrow and it will open up a list of your collections. Simply check the box next to the one you wish to add the product to.
  5. Go to your collection after you have added 3 to 10 items and share it with all your friends and followers.

Promote Yourself

It is really important to do your own marketing when you have a Zazzle store now.  Learn how to tag your designs and products without spamming (Zazzle has a strict no spam policy).

Share and encourage your friends to do so. If you have products that you think are poorly done (usually in retrospect), hide them.

If you have some that haven’t gotten any views, give them a few yourself (just by going to the page) to keep that product in the Marketplace until the public discovers it.

Remember to attach your associate number to the things you share,  of your own design or others in case it makes a referral sale.

Referrals

Share, but don’t overshare referral links on social media.

Consider using a free blog to show off your designs and those of others. Include pertinent designs in your blogposts.

While it is possible to make income from this form of sharing, I have made very little from it. For me, referral traffic is more important to create some buzz about the product items in my stores.

 

Helpful Sizes to Know For Your Store

It can be a nuisance to try to guess which size graphics to make for the various parts of this POD.

I seem to always have to look up some of the other graphics dimensions, and to save time collected a few here:

  • Collection banner: 1140 x 315 pixels
  • Store banner: 2369 x 400 pixels
  • Category picture: 640 x 640 pixel square

Official Zazzle site advice

Helpful Design Tools

There is a page of guides. Although somewhat outdated, the ones available do help with designing cards or mugs, etc.

Zazzle is no longer making official product guides, but still have the tried and true older ones:

Make sure the “dpi” or resolution of your graphics are high enough. I think 300-350 dpi is a good range. Lesser is acceptable, but not the 72 that is common for most web pictures.

DPI Is Important
High enough resolution is important for printing. “Dots Per Inch” makes a difference in sharpness of the image.

Official Image Recommendations

Advice from the Forum on making your own:

1. Go to create your chosen product (but don’t add an image)
2. Change to ‘Design’ view and ensure the guides are switched on
3. Click the ‘Zoom’ button and take your screenshot
4. Trim the image down to the red rectangle (the bleed area), I also make the white part transparent
5. Now the image needs to be enlarged to the size you will be using for the product – in the case of the iPad Mini you could base the measurements on measurements of the device itself (given above) – I tend to make my graphics a little larger than necessary to allow for effectively ‘zooming in’ when making the product (or to give a customer the option of doing the ‘zooming’)

Of course, you can always use your Instagram pictures or simply upload a large enough design to give a good print for the product. Not exact, but this can work.

Japanese Dolls

Making a Kokeshi doll

I discovered this while researching information on Japanese dolls for this article.

My Dad had brought back a number of dolls from his time in occupied Japan after World War II. We three girls inherited them and I have a fascination with them from their association with my childhood.

My favorites are the ones with gofun paste faces, here are modern ones in this  video:

I like the more traditional ones, a little better.

You can still buy Japanese dolls, on Amazon and eBay. There are even Barbie doll editions.


Japanese Dolls Hubpage
Examples of different types, how they are made, and history.





More Amazon Recommendations:

Enjoying Grandma Moses

I was updating an article I made about Grandma Moses and came across an old video made of the actual Grandma Moses! She is portrayed the way America wanted to see her at the time with the life she represented (i.e. much idealized), but what a treat to see actual footage of her, with her animals, painting, and even going through her old family photographs with the audience.

We have more cynical eyes than when this film was made, but it shows us an American icon, and probably helps explain a bit why Americans were so hungry for one in those years following the great world war. It is a fun look at her paintings, and at the person who created them.

She was very agreeable to be filmed, and likely looked at it as a good marketing strategy, as she was quite a canny woman. I love her for the same reason she became so popular at the time. Her old fashioned clothes and hairdo, her ability to catch earlier times on her canvas… all with a certain affection and optimism that is even rarer now than at the time of her greatest popularity.

Take about a half an hour and enjoy the show. If you still have time take a few minutes to read my analyses of why she happened to become so successful (with a few takeaways for us today).

 


Grandma Moses’ Secret Recipe For Success

 

 

Cards
Framed Painting

She is one of my heroes. I greatly admire her (very real) Yankee Ingenuity.
As an aside… when I was about 12 years old I entered a contest with a Grandma Moses-like painting and won. My prizes? I was able to have my painting exhibited at the local Art Museum in columbus Ohio, received a book about Moses’ paintings and life, and a real set of artists paints in a metal box.

It was quite a windfall for me at the time.

 

my story

Can you earn income with Zazzle?

Zazzle Income For Beginners

Zazzle is set up to share profits, through royalties and referrals with their members.

Whether you can earn income is a mixed bag of answers. Many people do earn well, and it must be stated that they probably work very hard at it.

I have read many statements in the forums and elsewhere that provide insights into their process. Most devote several hours each day to making their stores successful.

It is not easy money, but it can be part of a business.

I have done better when I invested more time into improving my store with keywords, designing products, and paying attention to examples from the top trending products.

I make less now than a couple years ago, which may be due to a number of changes that the site has made. My own intention is to work on my brand, improve my techniques and designs, and make more products.

That is also the advice I give you.

It remains to be seen whether the referrals will produce any income, as of now, it doesn’t. (For me, I can’t speak for everyone). It could be that there is too much competition for the casual presentation of products.

Collections

A recent way of showcasing products is the set of collections. Curated by you, these are a way to promote either your own or fellow Zazzler’s work. To complete your profile you make a certain number of collections which are then shown on the stores you own. You can choose which stores a collection appears within.

They work very much like a Pinterest board, just on a smaller scale.

Tips For The Zazzle Entrepreneur

Zazzle Income How-To

Here are the tips I have gathered and learned through my own experience.

  • It is a numbers game- make lots and lots of designs and products for Zazzle income results.
  • Pay close attention to keywords and learning about SEO for Zazzle as well as for your blog.
  • Use your social media to gain interest in your stores and designs.
  • Investigate the idea of designing around a niche. The fact that you can have multiple (free) stores encourages and facilitates this.
  • The forums are very informative, visit there for the new products, helpful tips, and troubleshooting.
  • Set up a blog for showcasing your work. Write posts about the designs or the products. Or related topics such as baby shower parties, wedding invitation tips, birthday party themes, etc.

 


I am beginning to try to use more posts to showcase great products and designs… a type of “curation post”. I will report on whether this has any effect on referral income for me, and let you know what the practices are that result in income from Zazzle.

I tried to sign up as an affiliate for them, but that didn’t work out. The affiliate process from the site itself is what I must use.