This week’s video is a little over-the-top but I had fun making it despite the depressing subject matter. Every week there are new advancements in AI that enable people to avoid being themselves in front of others. Is AI democratizing art or destroying it? Is there a point in consuming things that no one bothered to actually make? Should we engage with people who don’t bother to write their own comments?

I have a lot of questions and concerns, and I lay (almost) all of them out in this video. Stay tuned for a future video where I’ll talk about what I think is the actual danger to the arts in this day and age.

“For what is original is only what is true, a newly perceived truth; the peculiar is the imitation article. And there is a very great distinction between the freakish oddity of peculiar things and the genuine original work.” – Harold Speed, The Science & Practice of Oil Painting, 1924

I forgot to share yesterday’s Oil Book yesterday – oops! Here it is – a long one with a lot of information about choosing safe paints. I try to maintain a non-toxic oil paint studio which is actually pretty easy. I talk in this video about what materials I choose and misconceptions about other types of paint being safer.

If you’ve been hesitant to try oils because you think acrylics or watercolors are safer I think it’s important to understand all paints are using the same potentially toxic pigments and acrylics have the added hazard of formaldehyde as a preservative. Oil paint gets an unnecessarily bad rap in my opinion because of old school standards that can be left by the wayside in favor of safer materials.

Today I also drew a winner for a 3 month subscription! The winner was vhsu! Each month I’ll choose a random winner from those who have an activity rating of 4+ stars. I want to make sure whoever gets it will actually use it rather than giving it to someone that never opens the e-mails. Congrats vhsu!

Can you win more than once? Yes! If you’re already comped and you get drawn again, you’ll get another 3 months added on.

Have a great weekend everyone and I hope you do something creative.

Subscribe to my Substack to be entered into the monthly comped subscription drawing

 Several years ago, I think in 2013, I started doing “Days of Christmas” on my website. I would offer a crazy deal for that day on one print, or put a free item in every order – something fun like that. I don’t think I managed it the last couple of years. Between my chronic illness, surgery, caring for my grandparents, homeschooling, and daily drudgery, a lot of the magic of the season disappeared for me. This year already feels very different, and I really wanted to bring back the Days of Christmas thing. It was fun and I think the people who participated also enjoyed it.

Today I’m giving away a free book with every order. I’ll do this until I run out of books, but I don’t think I will run out of books. I have a lot of books!

I’m also donating the profits from my Santa Wizard paintings to Disabled American Veterans again this year. I usually do the donation myself which means I have to wait until my bookkeeping is all done, but this year since I moved my sales to eBay, eBay will automatically disburse the donation to DAV. One less thing for me to worry about and hopefully anyone who wondered if I actually donate the money (I do) will feel better about donating this year.

Aside from that today I am in the very chilly studio working on finishing a Saint Lucy/Lucia painting in the Swedish tradition. What I mean by that is, even though Lucia was not Swedish, girls dress up as her in Sweden on December 13th, wearing crowns of greenery and candles, and they usually carry offerings of fika – gingerbread cookies, buns, and mulled wine or coffee, or both. Saint Lucy is seen as a light-bringer, and of course in very dark and snowy parts of the world, that’s fabulous and definitely worth celebrating as the darkest night of the year approaches.

The figure they base this celebration upon is either Saint Lucy, the Italian martyr, or Adam’s first wife, who had relations with the devil and produced invisible infernal offspring. Look – I have no idea what this has to do with Christmas, but it is beautiful and captivating, so let’s just go with it.

 

I thought the weather was going to warm up, and I suppose it did, but now it is just raining, blustery, barely tolerable inside, and going outside for firewood makes one feel like an adventurer. I will have to embrace my adventurous side at least once more this morning and go let the birds out. Of course I threw my coats in the washer last night and forgot to put them in the dryer, so I have a single fleece and that’s it. Since it was going to warm up I also let the fires go out so I could clean the ash out of the stoves. The thing is since a large portion of my house is stone, brick, and glass, it has a certain “earthship” quality in that it will heat up enough to be comfortable just from the sun. But if it is cloudy and 47 degrees outside it makes no difference at all. Yesterday it was sunny. Today it is not. Brr.

I guess it’s as good an environment as I’m going to get for making Christmas art in Georgia. It hardly ever snows before Christmas here, so I will just have to imagine a few snowflakes blowing around in the rain today.

And, before I forget, this Lucia painting is indeed December’s full moon painting. The December full moon is sometimes known as the Cold Moon or the Oak Moon, or the Long Night Moon. Lucia felt like a fitting figure for this one.

Last month I painted the Mourning Moon and I just posted the video of that one this morning.

 

I hope you are staying warm in your corner of the world.

 Lately I looked around my giant 500-something square foot studio and realized, “I don’t have any space in here.”

Why is that, I wondered. I don’t have enough storage, that’s part of it. Then when I looked at the storage I do have I realized:

  1. I have painted a lot of stuff in the last 3 years – at least 100 oil paintings, a handful of watercolor pieces, hundreds of sketches, and then all the paintings that didn’t work out, reference material, punch lists, and so on.
  2. I have a lot of SHIT in here. No, that’s not a funny acronym, and pardon my French – but seriously, what is even IN my vertical file? A survey of two of 24 cubbies reveals a lot of reference material from 10 years ago, a batch of bad prints also from 10 years ago, and a coil-bound sketchbook that got smashed and won’t open, from 16 years ago. Send help.
  3. Another survey of shelf space reveals a lot of empty drawers and shelves. Why? I couldn’t find the perfect thing to fit there, so nothing goes there. It all goes on the floor instead. Why am I like this?
  4. It doesn’t help that there is a piano and a bunch of stuff that doesn’t belong here in the middle of the room, I guess. The piano has to stay because the floors upstairs are 111-years-old and frankly, I don’t trust them with my heavy piano that is almost as old.

It’s strange how you forget how many paintings you’ve done until you’re looking at a stack of rolled canvas and paper. Even then, some of the paintings are hung up around the house, and some needed repairs or a coat of varnish, so they were tucked away somewhere safe. I have been discovering paintings I forgot I still had everywhere all week. I kept wondering why I wasn’t selling any originals, well…

I had about 12 of approximately 140 pieces of art actually listed online. It would probably help if I actually put them all up for sale, huh?

I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have barely gotten my backlog of OLD work posted online, I keep finding more, and I have a list as long as my arm, single-spaced, of paintings hanging up or paintings in archive clamshells. How did it get like this? When did I stop putting things for sale online? And how did I not notice that I forgot to ever post any of this stuff online? I blame the complication and overwhelm of having an online store, an eBay store, and an Etsy store, a wholesale division, art show stock, and probably some other stuff I forgot about. Simplifying everything down to just the eBay store means suddenly it’s very obvious what needs to be done, whereas somehow before it wasn’t as clear. When you add into the mix the chaos of working on a tarot deck and moving, I guess it’s not really surprising that a truckload of art has been just sitting here.

Hopefully by the end of this week I’ll have a good grasp on what’s actually here and have more usable space again. At the very least it will be December 1st and I’ll have a handful of goodies from our advent calendars and a fresh batch of cookies to soothe my sorrows.

I think one of the hardest things an artist can do is raise their prices. For around twelve years I have kept my prices the same. That meant sometimes I had to make sacrifices to keep my prices that low, like bring back old art, or buy a different brand of paper. Eventually we look around and realize our art is the cheapest art in the show. Sometimes we have uncomfortable conversations with other artists, where they whisper at us that our prices are so low it’s hurting us both. Then we have to figure out what that means and decide if we’re going to keep it up or do something about it.

I decided last year I needed to do something about it. I had planned to return to conventions this year, but that didn’t go as planned. Nonetheless, I needed to raise my prices to be more in line with the price structure other artists with similar skill and subject matter were charging. I also needed to raise them because, as much as I hate to talk or even think about money, the price of everything has gone up. Most of the money my art generates goes into keeping me alive, to be frank, and everything that I need to stay alive has gone up in price exponentially. It’s also hard to ignore that my own medical expenses in the last year have been pretty crippling. Between needing a lot of medications and medication shortages driving up costs, being Tiffany has been a little rough lately. If I’m going to stay alive and make more art, I’m going to have to charge more for my art.

It’s that simple, and unromantic.

It seems pretty fair to me. I am more experienced than I was in 2020, or 2015, or 2010. I have worked on some cool things now and this year I took some classes in order to get a better understanding of where I’d like to go with my art from here. And when you buy something from me, you get the benefit of all that experience that I’ve gained.

Still, some people have been with me since my originals were selling on eBay for $10. It may be hard for them to accept that most of my newer paintings are closer to $1,000 than they are to $10. But in that same span of time many of my friends went from the same place to selling their paintings for $4,000 or more. Realistically, even at $1,500 for some of my newer paintings, I’m still not asking enough, and over the next few years I’ll be doing what I can to try and add more value to my paintings so that I can survive more comfortably on my art.

Or maybe I’ll just give it up and go do something else.

When those are the two choices, I hope you understand why my prices have gone up. If you’re reading this because you’re an artist wondering if you should raise your prices or just pack it up, I wish you peace with whatever choice you decide to make. It is not an easy conversation to have with yourself or with a collector, but it is necessary to reevaluate your prices on a regular basis and bring them in line with the value you are offering. Hopefully you don’t have to explain yourself, but if you do, maybe I’ve given you a few ideas on where to start.

 

I remember when NaNoWriMo first became an internet “challenge.” Back then I thought I’d really like to participate someday, but I was a teenager and lacked the organizational skills to write anything more than a short story.

As time went by I still thought about it every year but I had a lot of other things going on. In 2005 I began selling my art online and had my first art shows. Art took center stage for a while until 2011 when I started my family, and until 2019 the years are a haze of childrearing and not sleeping enough.

2019 was, I thought, the start of a reinvigoration of my art career. I had a few very successful conventions and was setting up a full roster for 2020. And then we all know what happened.

In the time since I’ve struggled with my health and my immune system, and every time I’ve thought I was ready to go back to conventions and traveling, I have had second thoughts. My autoimmune problems flare up, or as the case was with 2023, when I was intent on going to two shows, my grandmother got very sick. She literally died the day before one of those two shows, and while I think she would have wanted me to go, I didn’t want to leave my family.

In 2021 through the first half of this year I worked on the Angel Tarot, and that had to be my sole focus because my health was so terrible. Once I wrapped that up, I resolved, I was going to “win” NaNoWriMo. I’d had an idea for a book back in 2021 and I wrote the first 4400 words of it and then tucked them away for after the Angel Tarot. I never thought the AT would take as long as it did, but when I finished it at the end of July this year I thought that was perfect. It would give me a couple months to wrap up some art, go to that show that I didn’t make it to, and prepare for November, when NaNoWriMo traditionally takes place.

Things didn’t really go to plan as we already covered but I still knew I had to do NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t going to put it off anymore. I wondered if I would be able to come up with 50,000 words to write since I have never tried anything longer than a short story before. To my surprise it was very easy to come up with the first 4k, another 2 or 3k every day after that, and some days 5 or 6k.

On Saturday, the 18th of November, I “won”.

I crossed the finish line at 52,428 words, and I think about halfway through my story. I probably won’t write the remaining 25-40k words until after the holidays since it’s such a busy time of year anyway and I would like to sell some art. For now I am satisfied that I won NaNoWriMo so early that when I clicked the button to collect my winner goodies, I was simply greeted with the message that I was there earlier than expected and nothing was ready except a .gif of a dancing dog.

Today seems like the perfect sort of day to return to working on winter paintings, posting things for sale, and getting ready for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. It’s blustery and very dismal outside, and inside this 111-year-old manor I have two fireplaces roaring. I have splurged on a pressure canner and I will spend the day preparing ingredients, making stock for soups and canning them, and listing things on eBay for Black Friday. We’re expecting a lot of rain over the next 48 hours and cold weather after that, so I am looking forward to cozying up with my computer next to the fireplace and keeping warm in the kitchen. For some reason the kitchen is always hot in this place, even when the rest of the house is frigid, but on winter days I don’t mind it.

Anyway, time to go throw more logs in fireplaces and get ready for a long day of miscellaneous chores.