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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Shopify? Big commerce? Squarespace? Something else?

I am reaching out to you again, my supportive, interested and, dare I say it, opinionated ☺️ Tribe.

It is coming near time for me to move away from Etsy.

I have had a shop here for many years, morphing from a bag maker to a fine artist. I am grateful to Etsy for teaching me so many things about online selling, as well as giving me a modest income.

Those of you who are on Etsy will know that there have been many changes over the last few years, with more to come. It is moving away from the place which supported and welcomed crafters and artists, moving to a seat alongside the Big Boys of e-commerce. I have to be honest and say that I have moved away too. I haven’t put any effort into the shop this year. That tells me that unconsciously I have been playing with the idea of moving; now my conscious brain has caught up.

So it’s not just the changes in Etsy. It is the changes in me and my art work. Maybe I have outgrown Etsy. My current work doesn’t sit easily with the feathers and leaves in the Etsy format. I need something that allows me more space to organise and curate, but still sell.

No way am I going to self-build a site. Even with help, that’s way beyond my skill level ~ and my interest level, to be honest. I want someone else (or something else ~ some fancy algorithm!) to do all the backroom stuff.

That leads me to an on-line store building tool (love the jargon?!). I have done some research and Shopify is the one that comes up most often. But Bigcommerce and Squarespace are mentioned. They all offer free 14 day trials, but I want to use that time, after I have made a decision, to set things up. Then, when the 14 days are finished and I have to pay the monthly fee, I will be ready to go.

I am still at the information gathering stage, so I am reaching out to you. Are you on any of these, or something else? Have you done any research into any of them? What should I be looking out for? Do you know anything about domain names? Is one site more suited to art work? Anything you can throw my way will be useful and appreciated.

I hope to write more about what I am finding out, but just in case you are thinking about making a switch too, these links have helped me understand and compare Shopify and Bigcommerce.

Pros and cons of Shopify

Big commerce review

Big commerce vs Shopify

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Thanks for the feedback on my last fortnight’s letter from my studio. It was lovely to know that my musings on creativity resonated. More creativity this fortnight, as I use the Big Bang of Culture to help understand why creativity is an essential part of all of us. You can sign up here.

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

New Look Etsy ~ and discount offer

Etsy is getting a make over. If you have a shop there you will know this and have been to see what your shop will look like. If you, don’t then it is to be rolled out this week. More on the look in a little…..

To celebrate the new look, which I like, I am giving my wonderful blog readers an exclusive coupon code. Using the code will give you 10% off my drawings and paintings. It’s simple to use:

  1. Head over to my shop AnneLawsonArt and buy a painting. You can buy more than one, and only pay shipping on the first.
  2. When you go through the checkout you can add the coupon code APRIL16 for a 10% discount.
  3. Wait for the drawing to come your way.

Too easy! The coupon will be active for April and it is only available to blog readers.

As for the new look, it is designed to be more mobile friendly. My front page used to look like this (and it still does if you check it out today)

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 3.15.35 PM

After Tuesday it will look like this (minus all the editing tools, of course!)

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You navigate by scrolling, and information should be easier to find. I have been astounded by the hysteria generated by the changes. The common reaction seems to be “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”. Then sellers sometimes go on to say “That’s it! I’m leaving!”, which is, of course, their choice. However, just this week I read wise advice that said, “Never make a business decision based on fear.” Make the decision based on reality ~ dropping sales, decreased views, hard statistics.

Apparently overall sales and views have been dropping anyway, so it will be interesting to see the impact the new look has.

I like the clearer, more minimalist look. I have always found Etsy easy to use, and with one exception, I think this will continue. The exception is the ability to rearrange my shop. This is the way to move items around the pages of the shop. The old way wasn’t perfect as it involved a lot of clicking. However there are no pages in the new way and so is harder to navigate. But after time I am sure I will work it out. (But I do feel for those sellers who have hundreds of items in their shop to rearrange.)

Pragmatically, just like the changes to Instagram, these Etsy changes are happening. I have no control over that. I can only control what I do and how I do it.

Remember, the coupon code APRIL16 is there for you to use until the end of April. The link to the shop is AnneLawsonArt

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AnneLawsonArt My art work

Adventures with social media

If, as I said last time, I want to raise my profile as an artist, than I have to do more than just dabble in social media. I love to seek out knowledge. I have found some good books and sites that have helped me, from where I have been taking ideas and synthesising them with my own experience and knowledge. I want to use this post as a way of getting my thoughts about social media out of my brain, so I will share those resources on another post soon.

Artistically I want you to see, on all the different sites, my love for the beauty and delicacy of the natural world. I paint feathers, shells, and other treasures that come my way (and some teapots!), plants from the outback of Australia and from Flinders Island. So my activity on whichever form of social media has to show this. The place online where I can exhibit many of my works is the Etsy shop, AnneLawsonArt. Therefore social media has to link back to the shop. And one thing I have learnt is that if there is no link, then people cannot follow it!

Of course the shop is not just an exhibition space. I sell there, and I would like to increase sales. To do this I need to tell the story of my work. What inspires me, how I create the works, how a piece could look in people’s homes. Building up my profile as an artist is entwined with selling my work.

I have explored different sites; some I can’t be bothered with and others I enjoy. When I wrote about joining Instagram, Meeks, a talented writer, wrote, in the comments, how lucky visual artists were. The internet loves photos and I enjoy the sites that are photo dominant. They are perfect for artists.

So, some thoughts on the ones I enjoy and can see a reason for being on……

Shop update

This is not strictly a social media site. It is a feature offered by Etsy ~ sellers post photos with short captions, then link the photo to an item in the shop. The fantastic thing about it is that it goes to the Etsy feed of anyone who has bought from my shop or made it one of their favourites. In other words I can speak directly to people who have already enjoyed my art! It’s a great way to invite customers behind the scenes, to show how a drawing could look in a frame or my creative process.

Instagram

You know that I am a newcomer to Instagram @annelawson54 but already I am a convert! I love looking at the work of so many artists, liking, commenting. I love exploring hashtags. Mostly I love choosing photos to post, selecting ones that tell people more about me as an artist. The more I use it the more I can see ways to tell the story of my drawings and paintings. I am challenged to find appropriate hashtags and interesting  ways to encourage people to visit the Etsy shop. It looks like being fun too, with challenges that pop up and people to interact with.

Pinterest

Just in case you don’t know Pinterest is a like a big filing cabinet, a place to keep all sorts of bits and pieces you collect. It took me a while to join because I knew that it would encourage me to explore all sorts of fascinating but time wasting worm holes. What made me sign up was the realisation that many of my views on Etsy came from Pinterest. This month I have had 282 visits. I needed to have a presence there. So I am Anne LawsonArt 

I use it in a couple of ways. The first seven boards are of my work and each item I pin links directly back to the item in the shop. This is important because the images can be repinned and then float off into the virtual world. I want them to be like kites, with a string back to the Etsy shop. It is not fool proof, but it gives me some control. It makes me smile when Pinterest sends me an “We have found pins you might like” email and one of the images is a feather of mine!

The other way I use it is to pin things that I am interested in ~ blogs on watercolour brushes, inspirational art, sketchbook ideas, things to read and so on. I always make sure that there is a link back to the original site. That’s courteous behaviour.

Like Instagram I am only beginning to understand how to utilise it properly. For example I have found out about group boards, and want to find out more about them.

Facebook

Like most people I have been on Facebook for a few years, and I set up my AnneLawsonArt page not long after. My blog links to it, and I post photos about my work. But it is only recently that I have understood what a unique platform it is for me. Again, things to learn. I have left it in the corner a little too long, while I have been playing with the shiny new sites. It doesn’t bring a lot of people to the Etsy shop, but I know that people see my work there. A painting friend remarked that she hadn’t seen any of my work on Facebook for a while, making me realise that people do take note, even if they don’t “like” or comment.

Facebook is almost an amalgamation of many of the good points of the other sites. Photos are vital, but there is room to write a decent caption. I can post a series of photos that tell a story. There are groups where I can hang out with people who share my passion. I can link back to people who inspire me, or blogs that give advice that others might find useful. I like to share the work of others because I don’t want my online presence to always be NEW ITEM IN THE SHOP!!! or BUY!BUY!BUY!

Which brings me to here, my Blog

It is so different to the other sites. This is home. This is where I sit down with you guys, my friends, with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and chat. You let me chat away about my art, or anything else that I feel like talking about. The thing that got me into blogging in the first place was that I could talk about the things that I wanted to talk about. It is fantastic, and humbling, that there are people who enjoy listening to me! Your likes and comments are important to me, they remind me of the wonderful supportive blogging world.

I don’t think a lot is going to change here. Last year I made an effort to answer “Yes” to the question “Does an artist live here?”. Lots of posts are art inclined, but not all. It depends on where I am and what I am thinking about. Some of you have bought my art and that is fantastic! I appreciate your support of my work. But I certainly don’t want my posts here to always be linking back to the shop. This is home. The art work is hanging on the walls, you can look or not as we sip that glass of wine and natter!

So…that’s where I am at the moment, splashing around in various social media places. If you are there, give me a wave. 🙂 And let me know in the comments if you have a different take on these sites or others.

 

Categories
anne4bags My art work

Why are limpet shells so frustrating?

You know that I have been enjoying painting shells lately. You watched me draw oyster shells and I have raved on about other paintings I have done. So I found some limpet shells on the beach at Apollo Bay and was fascinated by their texture. Their tops are worn smooth and pearlescent while their sides are ridged and lined and multi-coloured.

IMG_1077

I played around with watercolour pencils and created some smaller studies. They worked well, and went into my Etsy shop. If I am not happy with one of my works, I won’t put it up for sale.

I wanted to play with painting larger, A4 works, and I thought that I knew how to create one with watercolour pencils. I found out that I didn’t know after all!

IMG_1124

There is always a time in a painting where I feel that it is just not working; that time when I feel like throwing a little tantie on the floor, kicking and screaming. In most cases I work through and find that things suddenly come together, and the painting is how I thought it would be. This was not one of those cases. So I left it and started to work on a watercolour version. Can you guess what the result of that one was?

IMG_1125

Yep, another one that I wasn’t happy with. 😉

Now I am pondering why. I think there are three issues, but I would love to know what you think. (And in answer to my question in the title — in all fairness, the limpet shell is blameless. The frustration is all my own!)

  1. In both cases I lost the highlights. I loved the smaller ones because they were fresh and light. It is the white of the paper that gives watercolour life. Enlarging the shell encouraged me to add more pencil or paint to the ridges, covering the paper with colour. Can you see the second browny ridge from the left in the photo above? That’s the part of the painting that I like, because the white of the paper shows through. That’s how the rest should be.
  2. The follow on from that is if there are fewer highlights, there are fewer deep darks too. I was working in the mid-tone range too much. Nothing was jumping out, zinging.
  3. I went onto the detail too early. My artisitc default position is to go straight to the detail. I am always reminding myself to go from broad to fine, but I guess I just wasn’t listening. 😉 Then I tried to fix things by adding in details.

What do you think? I would love constructive feedback in the comments.

As for the next….well, I can do this, and I want to succeed. So my next painting is going to be a different limpet shell, one with less colour variation, probably in watercolour. I will let you know how I go!

[Remember, if you like something in my Etsy shop, you can buy it directly through me. Just let me know via this blog or annebags@optusnet.com.au]

 

 

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anne4bags My art work

Vivid green feathers

I have been doing some feather paintings lately, first I have done for a while, for too long in fact. These feathers have that flash of iridescence that I tried to capture. I thought you might like to have a look. Both are available in my Etsy shop, just click on the photo to see more.

Vivid green feather (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)
Vivid green feather (Image and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2014)

and the other, which is my favourite of the two….

Vivid green feather (image and photo copyright, Anne Lawson 2014)
Vivid green feather (image and photo copyright, Anne Lawson 2014)
Categories
My art work Odds and Ends

Friday Afternoon

Before I blogged I was a teacher of primary aged children, aged from 5 to 12 years.  It was a job that I really enjoyed, obviously some days more than others! But one of the times I loved most was Friday afternoons.

The bell would ring at half past 3 and the children would be out the door. Somebody once described it ‘like a cork out of a champagne bottle’ and it is such an apt simile. Then the peace would descend. The energy generated by those 25 busy bodies would gradually dissipate, and I would be there in the stillness.

It was a time to potter around the room, tidying up after an active week, cleaning the tables, vaguely reflecting on the day’s happenings and mentally organising the things that needed deeper reflection. One of the tasks I loved to do was to sharpen the pencils, ready for Monday’s diary writing.

I would think about tidying my desk. That was always an impossible task, as there was a never ending supply of paper that needed to be dealt with. But it was Friday Afternoon and the This Should Have Been Done Yesterday pile could wait a while longer. Then I would look at my planning for the following week, pack a few things to take home, turn off the lights and lock the door. Friday Afternoon. Time to wander down to the pub for a few Friday Afternoon Drinks with friends.

I was thinking of that this afternoon. I was folding the washing, looking out the front window at the school over the road and I knew that the teachers over there would be glad that it’s Friday. The day has been sunny and still, peaceful, just right for a Friday Afternoon. So let me tidy up a few things here before I wander into the lounge room for Friday Afternoon Drinks. I might even sit outside with my glass of wine.

My last post was about Dads, and it seemed to resonate with you, stirring up some memories. Thank you for your comments, including those on Facebook. I thought I would copy the poem that the Snail of Happiness shared. It summed up so well what I was stumbling around to say.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
For as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
For as long as we ourselves live,
Holding memories in common, a man lives.
(Brian Patten)

I love that idea of ‘the harvest of his dreams’. I want to believe that I am still harvesting some of my Dad’s dreams.

And the second thing to tidy up is to tell you, very proudly, that I sold the rose painting that I painted in a recent workshop. I showed you its creation, and now it has flown off to the States! Let me boast a little more and say that it was the 90th painting that I have sold in my Etsy shop.

Now, let’s all raise a glass to Friday Afternoons. May they always be peaceful! Cheers!

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Odds and Ends

Oh dear…..

I do most of my “work” on my main computer. Uploading photos, listing items in my Etsy shop and creating blog posts are all tasks that are easier on it than using the iPad. WordPress certainly doesn’t work well on the iPad . (I have just had an example of that. While trying to rearrange a sentence the cursor played up and the easiest way to fix it was to minimise the keyboard. Easy enough to do, but frustrating when it happens frequently.)

But yesterday the Big Computer decided that it needed a rest, freezing when I tried to boot it up. Today it is at the service centre, probably needing a new hard drive. 😦

I had extravagant plans of blogging about a workshop I went on last week, with photos of what I learnt. Unfortunately you will just have to wait until I get the Big Computer sorted, because adding photos without it is more than I can cope with! (Been there, done that, on the iPad — frustration levels way too high!)

Fortunately there are a couple of posts that I had prepared earlier. Just hope they don’t need too much editing!