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.

Trying To Do The One Thing That Leads To Better Blog Success

Write

That is the one regret for my blogging in the past ten years. I should have developed the habit of writing … more … longer posts… greater frequency.

I am convinced that today’s blogosphere requires a regular writing schedule. And the more we write the better we become. The only caveat is that when we speed up our output, our writing will deteriorate.

So, a balance of well-written articles that are posted with regular frequency is key to growing a blog.

My main advice on posting frequency is to be consistent and keep the quality of your posts as high as possible.Problogger Darren Rowse

See, Darren said it long before I realized, the hard way, how important this is to blogging.

Will It Translate To Dollars?

source: Ilona Erwin
source: Ilona Erwin

I don’t believe it will translate to very much of an increase of income on its own, no.

Growing a business online is a changing proposition, and I don’t claim to be an expert on what creates success in earning an income from a blog.  Just reporting on what I and others are experiencing.

I will say that even very successful bloggers are struggling with blogs alone. It is becoming harder.

Factors in the changes:

  • Google has changed what it demands for good search engine placement and ranking
  • Readers are more sophisticated in what they do and what they desire.
  • Competition has gone through the roof! There is an explosion of blogs in every conceivable subject.

Hard Work Is Key

This has always been true in every endeavor, especially when competition picks up, the way it has on the web.

Observations And Advice Out There

More traffic, more clicks but each click was worth less. Hey Google, I held up my end of the bargain – made my websites better. You screwed up yours. Work harder, work smarter, still make less money.Doug Green

A garden writer I like and who has been thriving in the past with his blogging and writing has revealed some of his present disappointment and struggle with trying to make an online business and living income.

What are some observations?

  • Google adsense income is a small fraction of what it was… sometimes only pennies, literally. I have noticed this in my own sites. but not just Google, other sources of ad income are also smaller and more difficult to earn.
  • It is hard to capture peoples interest and loyalty. a lot of work on social media is a necessity.
  • Peripheral efforts are a must: a newsletter, at the most basic, podcasts, youtube video, e-books. These are all part of the package. Each having its own learning curve and work to produce.

Don’t Get Discouraged

This is meant to give a realistic view, not to discourage anyone.

There are lots of varying factors, including the niche you choose to write within, your ability to catch opportunity and see trends (or fall into them!), and many others.

But if you are going to blog, commit yourself to writing frequently and as well as possible.

I do have to say that I have always put real life first, and that meant blogging had to take a back seat. I also spent lots of time learning things, and not always “producing”.

The lesson there? Do what is best in your own life, and don’t apologize for it or waste time regretting the trade-offs.

There are lots of gains that aren’t quantified by dollars and cents in these blogging efforts of ours.

Keep at it. Keep improving and make your mark on the world- your own way.

Where Did I Go On Periscope?

After an initial blitz of Periscope videotaping, I left it except for a few scattered attempts that didn’t last very long. Will I return? Maybe. Here is what happened; what I think of Periscope, then and now; and whether and when I will return.

First, watch this, a Periscope, WordPress, related review that I posted on Youtube:

That was one of my last major “broadcasts”.

I got a bit bored with Periscope, and found it less useful for Youtube than I’d hoped. To be fair, I haven’t done any Youtube uploads for a long time either.

Here are some quick downsides which lead to my hiatus:

Periscope

  • I just didn’t know what to do with it. Tried thinking about making a loose script, topics, times to broadcast, and making graphics for the background ( when using for Youtube). It all seemed too hard, complex, and I went on to other stuff in life.
  • This reason will arise in the Youtube video, too: I feel self-conscious about how I look on tape. The work involved in makeup, hairstyling, lighting, and clothes just is more than I can manage much of the time.
  • Lest you think that is vain of me, it also has to do with the fact that I am a low energy person and feel I should be “up” and energetic to make the best video for my audience. I think you deserve my best and when I can’t give it I stop writing, making video or broadcasting. Who wants to see someone depressed or complaining? I don’t, and I don’t want to dump that on the public. This is different than being real. Real is good, but just being blah and bummed, uh, no.
  • I get bored with Periscope. And sometimes annoyed.
  • Still on the upward trek of the learning curve makes it a lot of effort for me and I wanted to write and garden more, and get my life a little more together.

OK- that was all the downside… I am going to write an upside later, after I rework my plan for how I want to divide my time making content. I also have considered podcasting which would take a couple of my barriers out of the way. Undecided at this point.

YOUTUBE

Yes. I basically really love Youtube. I want to do more and have unedited video in the wings. Here are the reasons I haven’t put anything new on my channels:

  • Getting ready for a video: hair, makeup, energy, mood, script ( which I have avoided thus far, but feel is needed)
  • Editing and learning new software. I have some super duper things to work with but I am UNLEARN-ED. My learning curve is presently tripping me up. I hope the new year allows me to master my video making skills.
  • Garden video requires the above plus the outdoors. I had some problems with the fact that I bought things with WIRES. Why? I need wireless mics etc for outdoors.
  • And I am lazy. I am lazy with cameras. I like to think about a picture or video, but not actually go and get a camera. I like to live my life and not record it. That prevents me from making Youtube uploads.
  • I have little confidence in this medium. I feel like an idiot. Most of the time I manage to overcome this when making something to post, but it hits harder in video.

These weren’t excuses, though it might come off that way. These are the reasons I have been slow to produce new stuff. But I wanted to give something of a review/ slash explanation that I fully intend to come back strong this year. Unless I die or something like that.

Predicted dates for new content:

I will make several Youtube videos over the next couple months, for both my channels. February for sure, later this month is a maybe.

I may return before then, but I like to Periscope outdoors, and that means I won’t resume until spring unless I change my mind. If you follow me on social media channels, a real return to Periscope, with intention, will be trumpeted before I broadcast next time.

That is what is happening in the filming side of my creative endeavors… what’s new with you?

Site Themes And Plugins

monet garden

What Do They Do?

Why should you care about your website theme or plugins? And I’m not just talking about WordPress, but those for any platform, including Joomla. At any point when a plugin or a new theme is called for, they all do just one thing:

They Solve A Problem

The gist of it is that when you want a type of layout, or certain functions in your website, or ease of custom features, you will (eventually)  look for a theme that will give you what you are looking for…

Some of these themes will include the plugins built-in (sliders, anyone?) More and more, these problem solvers will simply be plugins.

Do you wish to have a recipe that can be indexed and printed? There are plugins for that,

Would you like to reduce the size of your photos automatically? Plugins will accomplish that task.

Need help with the mysteries of SEO? Plugins can solve this problem.

In fact, this is why there are so very many of them available, and they are both free and premium in just about every blogging platform: they do all sorts of coding and create answers to your need for everything from an ecommerce site to adding easy ways to post to social media.

Just.About. Everything.

The difficulty is choosing the best ones to add style or function to your own blog.

Quickly, what to look for?

  • Ratings.  See what users think about the themes and plugins you are considering.
  • Updates. Plugins can have vulnerabilities, and need to be kept updated if at all possible.
  • Support. If there is good support from a community or developer, it can help trouble shoot when not working right with your site. What good is a plugin that doesn’t work or causes problems… or becomes unusable after platform updates?
  • Function. It does what you need without unnecessary bloat. Plugins, too big or too many, can slow your site.

So basically that is what your theme, with its built-in plugins and setup, and the plugins themselves will do… they are meant to solve your problems and meet your needs. Blogwise, anyway.

 

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.

Beach Scene Art, For A Seascape Afternoon

Art That Captivates: Beach Scenes

Van Gogh. ArtistFor some of us the beach is the ultimate vacation. For almost anyone, a view of the sea with its sunny beaches and the sunlight glinting off the water are scenes that hold us enraptured; both by the majesty of the powerful waves, and the serenity of the shore. Whether in storm or in sunshine, there is something captivating about looking out over the seashore.

Artists are always trying to capture that feeling in their two dimensions. When gazing on beach scenes of painter’s talent or photographers eye… it is a time when we seem to grow more centered and the happy memories of visits to the shore wash into our minds like soft waves on the coastal sands.

The sea and sky are always changing and offer many hues and harmonies of color and subject. It makes for an interesting pictorial gallery.

Peruse this little gallery of beach scenes and ocean views, quotes and inspirations.

Happy Seashore Scenes – Beaches, and water are gentle and calming to the soul

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”

– Loren Eiseley

 

So that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again… Virginia Woolf

 

Dreamer by Lucelle Raad
Dreamer by Lucelle Raad

The contemporary artist Lucelle Raad is a native of England who took up residence in South Africa, where she studied painting under Dorothy Shaw. She has relocated to the USA, and presently lives in Florida. Lucelle Raad paints children exclusively at this time, “I find unending satisfaction in combining my artistic interest in the figure with my emotional interest in children. There is more expression in an offhand gesture by a small child, than in all the posturings of our adult world.”

Waterboy by  Lucelle Raad

My room was in one of those turrets and at night I could hear the sea and the faint rustle of eelgrass in the soft wind. The weather was perfect that summer. No storms. Blue skies and just the right amount of wind every day. The sailors were in heaven. ~Katherine Hall Page

Sunday Best

 

Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.

~Michelle Held

Oblivious

 

 

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” – Rachel Carson

Miami Beach
By Jeff Greenburg

 

I could never stay long enough on the shore; the tang of the untainted, fresh, and free sea air was like a cool, quieting thought. ~Helen Keller

The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.~ Isak Dinesen

 

 

 

 

There are great paintings of beautiful beaches from all over the world, but some people like the satisfaction of sitting at their own easel with paints of their choice and recording a favorite beach scene from a vacation or of a familiar haunt …whether on the coast of a rocky beach or the expanse of sand and surf line. If you are one of those artists (or artist in the making), take time to get out your brushes and paints, and capture those memories.

 

 

Cycling
Van Gogh’s Sailboats on the Shore

I own this print and it never ceases to give me joy to view Van Gogh’s vision of the French sailboats, the lines, and colors have a liveliness while the overall feeling is one of calm, enjoying a sunwashed day by the sea.

I like the colorful fisherman’s boats beached ashore and the fleet of boats a-sail in the distance.

 

Claude Monet

 

Jesse Wilcox Smith

Jesse Wilcox Smith is one of the most popular for decorating children’s rooms. This seashore scene illustrates the fact that we are often braver when helping someone else be brave.

The sea! the sea! the open sea!, The blue, the fresh, the ever free!

Bryan W. Procter

Build Your WordPress Blog: Plugins

Beginning or advanced bloggers who are building their WordPress site rely on plugins to make their blog do what they want it to. How do you find the best ones and what are the potential problems?

Plugins Grow Powerful

It used to be that the theme brought special functions to a WordPress platform, but increasingly the power has shifted from both the core installation of the WordPress software and from the theme to an array of plugins.

Plugins are the preferred way to expand function. This pullquote is by way of a shortcode plugin.
A plugin makes it easy to add the code necessary to do something either very simple like make a list of recent posts, to something very complex like adding a community system (i.e. “Buddypress”).

The WP team has increasingly decided to make features reside in something outside the core.

Remember

Too many plugins can cause “bloat” and slow down your site. Try to limit to your “most needed and wanted”.

Almost everything needed to find the best plugins are right within the dashboard of the latest version of WordPress. Simply find the button for “Plugins”, Go to “add new”, and search. Helpful categories such as “popular” and ratings will guide you to beginning the addition of plugins which expand the power of your blog.

Problems With Plugins

Most of the problems that arise with plugins revolve around “conflicts” with other functions or plugins, and “vulnerabilities”, or ways that hackers can get into your site through the code of the plugin.

With all problems from this source it is important that the plugins be updated. If you have updates in your wordpress installation, don’t delay implementing them. WordPress platform has made that easy.

What is more difficult is when you don’t know something is vulnerable or it needs updating when bundled into a theme.

Best practices that are now advocated by developers is that plugins handle many functions and that they “stand alone” instead of being introduced on the inside of a theme.

Recently, a well known, much used photo slider had been compromised in a very dangerous way. It was inside many themes, and alerts were put out, but there are many, many sites that probably go on without correction of the problem. Read about this here.

This isn’t to strike fear into your heart, but to educate you. Be aware of what to watch out for in a WordPress installation.

Things To Watch

Watch for conflicts between plugins or with your theme. If something isn’t working turn off all and then turn on one at a time to see if that is the problem.

How To Add A WordPress Plugin To Your Blog

 

Which Choices Out Of Thousands?

There are the basics, the features, and those for specific tasks.

Akismet is one of the basics. It prevents spam.

Although I changed around a bit, I use Yarpp (Yet Another Related Post Plugin) which brings up related posts for further discovery of your posts. This is an example of a feature: something your blog will really benefit from, but not a basic concern.

The third example of plugins that I like are those which add a function or feature that I need for a specific purpose. an example of that is one for recipes, or reviews. Adding social icons, or my favorite, an editorial organizer like “WordPress Editorial Calendar”.

Specialty Purposes

For recipes I like “Easy Recipe“, although there are others that probably would work as well. If I were a food blogger, I would want to research what worked best for my needs, and possibly buy a premium version.

Book blogging also has a choice of a number of special plugins for reviews. I like “Book Review Library” by Chris Reynolds the best.

Book Review Library
New Plugin for Adsense
Adsense Publisher Plugin has worked well for me.

I’ve tried a number of Adsense ones, but they had issues, so I’m now using Google Publisher for Adsense. It sometimes has problems with my theme, but is better than other ones I used previously.

The amount of this type is huge, and the best way to find what you want is to read reviews and find the recommendations of the users who test them. I like reading WPTavern blog for ideas about new ones.

 

Plugin
Feature
Price
YARPP
adds a group of related posts to keep readers interested in your content
free
Yoasts SEO
Powerful functions to help your SEO
free
BruteProtect
Secures against security attack
free

Dealing With HTML And CSS

I know how to use these, but many don’t. But despite the fact that I can customize my site and add tables to pages does not mean I want to have the headache of doing all the work ( espeically when it comes to building tables.

Never mind, Beginner and Expert alike! There are plugins that prove very handy for these chores.

TABLES

WordPress posts benefit form visual aids like tables. They are an easy way to organize information. The trouble is that a complex table can be hard to get set up. “Tablepress” is the plugin I use, it is an improvement on an older plugin that I have used on my garden site , and it works like a dream.

Tablepress

HTML ELEMENTS

Shortcode is the name for easy additions of blocks of code that do specific things. It used to be mainly built into themes, but now you can have numerous plugins that create boxes, insert Facebook like buttons, make image sliders- all sorts of things.

There is no single plugin that does this, but I like Elegant Themes shortcode plugin, not the least because I use their themes.

My Experience

I’ve had some trouble with plugins over the years. Some cause conflicted- even breaking my theme. If you have trouble with your theme or even your whole site breaks after updates, go through your plugins to see if that is the culprit.

METHOD:

Turn off (deactivate) all the plugins. Turn each one back on,, individually and check to see if one was causing the problem. Unfortunately, you will probably have to delete that one until the developer fixes it.

Many developers provide support and answer questions or run a forum where problems acan be addressed and fixed.

SOMETIMES IT WORKS UNTIL IT DOESN’T

If it worked and then suddenly doesn’t do what it used to, it maybe that you will have to find a similar plugin to do that feature. Authors don’t always keep them updated.

Or sometimes you find the occasional one that does something (secretly) that you don’t like, monetizers that take some of your income without your permission. Though usually it is through defaults you were not aware that you needed to change. This happens less with the newer plugins, which tend to cost something upfront.

Be aware is all I can say about that.

Can You Make Money On Hubpages?

My Hubpages Review 2015

The answer to that question is increasingly “no”, but until very recently it had been a “yes”, and I think it might resume the affirmative.  Right now it depends on how the transition is made as Hubpages continues to try to please Google.

For those unaware of what Hubpages is, here is a short summary:

It is a community of online writers using a module based writing platform.

The income of ads and Amazon products are shared between the writer and Hubpages.

A Bit Of Background On Squidoo Turning Into Hubpages

If you have read some of my reports in the past you know that I started out on Squidoo, which was a writing platform with some similarities. While writing there I did quite well, getting some rewards and earning enough income to help support some of my other web writing – selfhosting and domains for my blogs (including this one).

Squidoo was bought out by Hubpages and merged, after which all the articles (christened “lenses”) became “hubs”.

Squidoo struggled with the same issues that are a trouble to Hubpages, now: penalties from Google for poor content, spamminess, and just because they consider them to be “content farms”.

Hubs Get Hit

The fact that Hubpages pay compensation means they have tended to draw some very questionable authors along with the worthwhile, talented, and honest ones. After Google Panda slapdowns (where the traffic was severely impacted), the struggle was on to try to eradicate the source of the problem. This included little to no links to one’s own blogs, or affiliates, and much fewer Amazon modules.

This has resulted in dropping income for many writers on the site (which explains my initial “no”, it is very difficult now to make any money on the site).

Compensation is still paid, but it is much more difficult and greatly reduced at this time (in my own experience).

What Has Changed In Earning Income?

For the things that created income, the ad income is less, the Amazon modules are restricted and discouraged. Also, an arbitrary system of relegating articles to “unfeatured status”, wherein HP tells search engines not to index the hubs, results in  less visitors for that “hub”. Ebay has not figured into my own earnings, or much for most others from what I have read.

One thing that has changed is the clarity by which a person may judge whether their writing is meeting standards on the site. Unfeatured for quality can mean almost anything for having outgoing links, to too many, to unrelated Amazon products, etc. It could also have to do with the writing… it is a mixed bag and changes often.

A portion of my dashboard
Are We Having Fun Yet?

Yes, sometimes. However it is a lot of work keeping up with many changes, and the compensation is steadily dropping. What tends to work?

  • Having a large number of articles still seems to matter. Part of the reason my income dropped is that I took a number of my articles down when they seemed unresponsive to improvements (I couldn’t get them out of unfeatured no matter what I tried).
  • Writing long articles of 700+ words.
  • Writing along a very tight topic focus (unlike Squidoo which seemed to reward ranging widely across the topic and covering everything).
  • Having few or no outgoing links, restricting them to one per  text module.
  • Having very few Amazon products and keeping them to those mentioned in the article.
  • A number of strong pictures/photos, but not too many.

 

Another change is the scoring of articles based more on visitor interaction, and less on raw traffic.

A robot editor now corrects grammar and spelling.

Start Doing This

If earning some revenue from your writing online is a goal, try some of these suggestions.

  • Build up your own sites if you wish to try your hand at making an income writing.
  • Diversify among different streams of income: sites like Hubpages, your own blogs, social media, Amazon, Zazzle.
  • Find your niche
  • Work hard
  • Network

For now, that is my report on the everchanging landscape of creating a business and income online.

So many writers are complaining in the Hubpages forums and many are leaving or threatening to do so. I take that to mean that there is a sitewide drop in income. Mine is about a third of what it was last year, but I don’t know if that is the common experience or not.

The benefits remain for those who simply wish to have experience writing and possibly getting feedback on their efforts. The community there is also a way to keep a touch on the pulse of the web as it impacts this type of writing (mostly informational articles).

This is simply information given to the reader to help you decide for yourself if you think joining and writing for Hubpages is a promising endeavor for your efforts.