Showing posts with label painting a day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label painting a day. Show all posts

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Generating Art - The Making A Mark Awards 2012

Today I start to review the rest of the Making A Mark awards for 2012.

The awards grouped under the title "Generating Art" relate to generating art either as an individual artist or as an art group - formal or informal.

Generating Art in 2012
  • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
  • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
  • The Best Art Society Blog

The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
"What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way."Winslow Homer
The Painting A Day Stickability Shield for daily painters who maintain a consistently high output of consistently good quality paintings over the course of the year and set a good example to others.

    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Generating Art - Making A Mark Art Blog Award Nominations 2012

    The aim of the Making A Mark Art Blog Awards is to identify:
    • excellence in blogging about art and artists; and 
    • the art blogs which set high standards and are the most influential.
    I started these awards in 2006 so that the efforts of artists and others who are blogging about art could be valued and recognised.

    YOU can nominate which art blogs YOU think are excellent and which art blogs influence YOU. For the last three years I've asked all the readers of Making A Mark and the wider community of art bloggers to nominate the art blogs that they think are the best - in different categories

    I've been keeping a note of the art blogs which have "made a mark" on me during the course of 2012 but I also really want to hear from all of you as to the blogs have had an impact on you.

    This post and the next three posts on Making A Mark invite nominations relating to the categories which you can see at the top of the right hand column.

    First how to nominate - and then the three awards in the category of Generating Art.

    Nominate an art blog for a Making A Mark Award

    It's very simple! Basically all you need to do is leave a comment on the relevant post.
      • Identify the title of the Making A Mark Award that you want your nominee to be considered for
      • Leave a comment on the post on this blog which invite nominations for that award - BEFORE 29th December 2012
    • WHICH BLOG:  Identify
      • the name of the blog, its URL (eg "The Art Blog" and
      • the name of the blogger
      • (Note:  art bloggers are not eligible for any award that they have won in the last three years)
    • WHY:  Say WHY you think this blog should be considered for a Making A Mark Award.
    Artists who have won an award in the last three years are not eligible to be nominated for the same award.

    I'll collate all your nominations and comments in relation to each award and consider alongside those blogs which I have in mind as being worthy of consideration.  I'll then share the shortlist with you when the results are announced.

    The Making A Mark Awards will be announced on the 29th and 30th December. Note:  All nominees and nominators are linked to both from this blog and my main website page where all the past awards and nominees are listed

    So over to you - who do you think merits being nominated for the three awards below? Answers as a comment on this post please.


    Today I'm looking at nominations for three awards relating to generating art
    • The Painting A Day Stickability Shield
    • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
    • The Best Art Society Blog Prize
    Leave a comment on this post (see above) nominating the art blog you think should get one of these awards in 2012.

    Thursday, December 29, 2011

    Generating Art - The Making A Mark Awards 2011

    Today's awards relate to generating art either as an individual artist or as an art group - formal or informal.
    • The Painting A Day Stickability Shield
    • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
    • NEW IN 2011 - The Best Art Society Blog Prize

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    A Timeline of Daily Painting Practices and Marketing

    Time to take stock.

    What follows is a record of the blog posts I've written on this blog in the last five years about the daily painting phenomena and how it has developed - both in terms of painting practice and marketing practices. 

    I started compiling it because I'm drafting a blog post about the Daily Paintworks website and its brand new approach to marketing art online.

    It seemed like a good idea to start by getting a fix on what has happened when in the timeline of developments in the marketing of daily paintings.  It soon became apparent that this topic deserves a post all to itself rather a footnote!

    Hence my post about the changes to the Daily Paintworks website will now follow tomorrow [Update - this will now be next week following the announcement this eveing of the death of Lucian Freud.]

    Why a timeline?
    • For those who are new to the notion of selling your art online, the posts provide an insight into the history of what has gone before.
    • For those of you who have been involved, it provides a record of how much practice has developed and moved on - and started to come back again......
    I've split the posts into two halves. .

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Four Go Painting in Provence

    You are invited to visit a new blog - Four Go Painting in Provence.  

    This is the natural extension to group blogging about art.  Four female group bloggers go on holiday to sketch and paint together - and then blog about it!

    In June this blog is going to be very quiet.  That's because, in the main, I'm going to be blogging on Travels with my Sketchbook and Four Go Painting in Provence

    As some of you will recall (see My Postcard from Provence) that's because I'm going to be spending three weeks drawing, sketching and painting in Provence - plus another six days getting there and back. So that's very nearly four weeks in France.

    I'm in Provence for the whole three weeks - but I'm not alone.  
    The aim of the blog is primarily for us to have a record of our holiday - and to have a place where we can post our daily paintings together - to see how four artists can see the same place through different eyes.

    However it also struck us that a few people might like to come along for a virtual journey and enjoy the sights and the weather and maybe have a virtual smell of the cooking!  So if that's you - keep reading!

    We're getting very excited about the prospect - and today Sarah kicked off our new blog with its first post - about getting down to the packing - see First Things First.

    Where we will be based

    We're not in coastal Provence.  We're further up in the Vaucluse in "proper" Provence - away from the tourists.

    For those of you who don't know already, we've rented "a ramshackle farmhouse in the wilds of Provence" aka the home of popular Postcard from Provence painter Julian Merrow Smith while his wife Ruth Phillips (Meanwhile) plays cello at the Garsington Festival.   
    The house is silent apart from the sound of skops owl, woodpecker, golden orioles nesting in the plane tree and the odd wild boar scuffle. 
    We're based near Crillon le Brave and Bedoin two small Provençal hill villages at the foot of Mont Ventoux.

    From there we'll be travelling around to various places.  You can find some of the places we might get to in Places we Painted - which at present only contains links to and notes about the places we might well visit

    The Big Question

    At the moment we're trying to come up with "a big question" for each of us which we can then use as individual themes for the artwork we produce while in Provence.  I'm not sure whether it will work - but it's a good place to start.

    Mine is probably going to be about learning to paint in oils!  It seems appropriate.  The first time I visited Provence - some 20+ years ago was the first time I got back to my art after something like a 15 year break.  So Provence for me is a place of new starts.

    A Postcard from Our Walks

    Julian's Cabanon (print available)
    Fellow members of our Postcard from my Walk group stand a very good chance of being a recipient of postcards from Provence after our visit.

    We'll be out and about walking near the house in the magical light of early morning and early evening  - and seeing how many Postcard from Provence motifs we can spot - such as the Cabanon (see right)!

    I keep getting carried away thinking about the colours
    • there's the lavender for those of who are there late in June.
    • the creamy white of the limestone 
    • the green leaves and brown/black trunks of the vineyards
    • the orange red of the ochre hills and lots of the roof tiles
    • not forgetting the blue of the sky and lots of the paintwork!
    Plus there's opportunities to sketch and paint water in a number of different contexts for the Watermarks bloggers.  My favourites are the old fountains in every medieval town and village - my favourite is in Gordes.  However there's river running through L'Isle la Sorgues which always makes me think it's a bit like a mini Venice.  Then there's the highly recommended river in the Vallée du Toulourenc.

    So - if you'd like to join us can I suggest you start packing your virtual bags too and then inspect the top of the right hand column of Four Go Painting in Provence so you can "get your ticket" for a virtual painting holiday by:
    We'll be very happy to take you in our virtual suitcases - but don't forget your sketchbooks!

    PS  I had "an Enid Blyton moment" coming up with the title (women of a certain age will know what I'm talking about!) - I guess that means there might be "jolly japes" as well.......

      Wednesday, March 30, 2011

      Practice, experience and style

      New Hampshire Pears
      coloured pencils on colourfix
      copyright Katherine Tyrrell
      I received an email comment from John Kinney about my post about plagiarism last week.  I suggested that it might work better as a blog post.

      It reflects on the notion and value of daily practice - a point highlighted  in a number of comments on recent posts.

      Here's what John thinks
      As someone familiar with daily painting, although not a painter and certainly not an expert on the subject, I’d like to draw attention to a few comments already made, and share the questions these have inspired in me, and, I hope, in others...

      Friday, March 25, 2011

      Make your own art!

      Let's talk about why and how every painter can be an 'original'.   This post includes some tips for those that are struggling with this.  You are also most welcome to share your own thoughts on what has helped you to develop your own creativity and originality.

      Following on from yesterday's post about plagiarism, somebody sent me a note which reminded me that Stapeleton Kearns recently wrote (ranted?) on a related topic.

      Within the context of the bigger picture about creating original art, Stapleton has a post last Sunday called Some thoughts on art and money which I very much endorse.  It contains this paragraph
      "Art has no reason to exist other than that it be excellent. If you are imitating another artists style, get your own! I open the art magazines and see page after page of amateur rip-offs of Scott Christensen and Richard Schmid. That's not good enough, everyone who sees those ads knows they are seeing a Richard Schmid ripoff. People are not easily fooled."
      In general I don't follow daily painters as much now as I used to - simply because I grew very tired of looking at too many artists who were copying other artists.  All that really achieved at the end of the day was to highlight more clearly those artists who were different.  By that I mean those who made sure they were clearly individuals who were not following the crowd and instead were trying to find their own individual way of creating art.

      Artists who are original shine like beacons in the midst of the "same old same old".

      What I have noticed is that those artists who seem to be the most successful at creating their own artistic identities (which is that thing you have to be able to talk about when the gallery asks you "what do you paint?") all too often also have the happy knack of having their own individual and unique take on the world around them.

      In other words, their choice of WHAT they paint and how they look at it is as much part of their ID as HOW they paint.

      Essentially that means that the way a daily painter responds to the challenge of coming up with an answer to the question of 'what to paint' each day is as much part of that artist's development as the way they paint.

      Your choices about what to paint reveal who you are, what you like, where you live and how you see the world. 

      Thursday, March 24, 2011

      Plagiarism or 'passing off' - it's got to stop

      Two years ago I was originally going to call this post "Duane Derivatives".  At the time I decided to let the matter pass - but time passes and the 'passing off' which has been going on for a long time continues.

      Hence this post today - which is all about the issues arising from plagiarism and copying the artwork of other people - including:
      • what is plagiarism
      • what is derivative work
      • when artists copying other artists is OK
      • how to avoid accusations of plagiarism
      NOTE:  Please note this post has been revised since it was first published for two main reasons.  First, it's very apparent that some people are skim reading and then asserting elsewhere that this post says things which are simply not true.  In fact it was written very carefully to avoid such statements being made.  

      I'm also concerned that people focus on the principles rather than an individual artist identified.  While I believe the artist and I would agree mistakes were made and remedies were implemented, the example appears to be distracting people from the vast majority of the content of this post.  

      I've implemented a revision which has removed all but one of the images and some of the text and added some text of a more general nature.  The first 50 or so comments on this post were made when the images and the original content was still in place.

      Thursday, December 30, 2010

      The Making A Mark Awards 2010 (Part 3 - Generating Art)

      Welcome to the second day of The Making A Mark Awards 2010 for blogging art on the Internet.  Today in Part 3, it's my pleasure to award prizes as follows:

      Generating Art
      • The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
      • The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
      I'll start with one of the awards which a lot of bloggers have an involvement with.  Nominations were invited in this thread Making A Mark Nominations: Generating Art

      The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
      Art can be quite a lonely activity and it's noticeable that people often like to have some sort of involvement in groups and projects related to art! This award is for:
      • EITHER a major and reputable new project which adds value and involves a large number of bloggers
      • OR a project which has grown over the course of the year in question or otherwise had some significant impact during the course of the year
      Nominations for this award were:
      The Virtual Paintout by Bill Guffey nominated by Charlene Brown  Seconded by Leslie Hawes
      My nomination for the Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is The Virtual Paintout by Bill Guffey.  Using Google Streetview as a source of inspiration for paintings provides just the right degree of unity around a shared theme, and diversity of subject – and lends itself to an incredible variety of interpretations. It’s hard to say which is more fun, finding your perfect location by navigating around the selected area on Google, or looking at all the great stuff other people have found!

      The "Creative Every Day Challenge" and the associated challenge, "Art Every Day Month" hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas Nominated by Peggy Stermer-Cox 
      To explain, the challenge runs all year long with a Monday check-in. Then, in November, check in is daily. Optional themes are given each month for exploring, or not.  What I think is special about this art blog is the vast array of artists who participate: fine art, fine craft, writers, dancers, photographers, etc. Leah started the challenge in 2008. I also like the wide range of experience in the participants.
      The Creative Every Day Challenge is an older and bigger site and obviously attracts a lot of participants.  It's also very laudable to be promoting creativity amongst art bloggers.  However in terms of accessibility I found it a bit difficult to navigate and I did notice you didn;t need to be an art blogger to participate - and these awards are about art blogging.

      By way of contrast, the joy of Bill Guffey's Virtual Paintout site is that it has a very simple concept which is the same every month - painting scenes from specific locations using Google Streetview.  The only thing which ever changes is the place and the map.  The participants get to choose the location they want to paint and then provide the link to the map and the image of what they've produced to Bill for posting to the blog. 

      Two paintings of County Clare, Ireland from the December thread

      Bill has succeeded in attracting a large number of participants every month - and the benefit is that you can see all the pictures on the blog and that makes it very easy for non-participants to understand the project and see its results. I also like the way that it shows people that they can find places to go and paint plein air using Google Street View and consequently its impact is not just limited to this blog!

      Finally to top it off, Bill managed to get himself on TV when Prince Edward Island in Canada discovered they were the chosen location of the month!  I like both the accessibility and the impact of this art blog project and so.....
      The 2010 winner of
      The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is
      Bill Guffey for The Virtual Paintout

      The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
      The Painting a Day Stickability Shield is awarded to daily painters who maintain a consistently high output of consistently good quality paintings over the course of the year and set a good example to others
      This isn't just a prize for people who can produce good paintings.  This award applauds "stickability" which is a quality which not all blogging painters necessarily possess.  The first two artists to win it, Duane Keiser and Julian Merrow Smith both posted a new work every day for well over a year - all of which sold extremely well. Those that have followed have also produced a very large total of paintings every year.

      That's the sort of standard I'm looking for in terms of a daily painter who can follow in their footsteps.

      Some of the artists nominated simply did not qualify on the basis that they simply are not producing enough work. Hnece they have not been included in the list of nominees below.

      I've allowed the nominatins to stand where artists are producing on average in excess of 15 paintings a month although obviously I'm looking for more than this.

      Nominations for this award include the following.
      • Lisa Daria (Lisa Daria) Nominated by Kimberly Santini who said I'd like to nominate Lisa Daria for the Moose Award and the Stickability one - she is a daily painter who tackles a variety of subjects, always accompanied by her studio assistant, Brie, a big fluff ball who gets into all sorts of troubles.
      • Kimberly Santini (Painting A Dog a Day) I'd like to nominate myself for the stickability award - and there's some great company here! 2010 saw the creation of daily painting #1000, a wine issued with one of my daily paintings as it's label, an invitational solo exhibition comprised of my dailies, and my induction to the esteemed Daily Painters Group, among other accomplishments. 
      • Nithya Swaminathan (A Splash of Color) nominated by herself.  I have created over 300 pieces this year.  I took up a project titled "300 to 30" where I planned to complete 300 pieces before my 30th birthday, which was earlier this year. Not only did I go on to complete about 305, but stayed with the momentum to paint much much more than I did in all previous years put together. I have not literally produced a new painting everyday though, because I was on vacation for a month, and there have been other times too when I missed painting.
      • Leslie Hawes, "Leslie's Drawing A Day" Nominated by herself.  I hope I inspire artists to make art with a 'daily' intention
      Like I said - one if the key criteria I'm looking for is "stickability" - and on that basis there's just one artist that really qualifies to walk off with this award.

      Courage #541 by Lisa Daria

      I'm very grateful to Kimberley Santini for drawing my attention to Lisa Daria.  I've had a lovely time looking through her blog at her wonderful paintings this afternoon and was very nearly distracted and started to buy a painting!  Always a good sign of a very promising painter!  Her blog has gone straight into my list of blogs that I follow.

      Significantly, Lisa Daria is the only nominee to have produced a painting every day this year.

      She has good reason - as stated below
      After one year of painting every day (including Christmas) I've no intention of stopping. For me, daily painting is a daily appreciation for living via the canvas. I'm a young adult cancer survivor so I have a persistence to make sure every day matters. Daily painting has become a reminder every day can bring with it reason. My optimism and perception have become part of the process of creating each day without reservation or excuse. The finished painting represents a consistently positive and stabilizing presence of my view of my immediate surroundings.
      Lisa Daria
      No more words are necessary - this is a lady whose 'stickability' we can all admire.
      The 2010 Winner of
      The Painting a Day Stickability Shield
      is Lisa Daria

      Links:  Yesterday we had two posts:

      Part 1 covered: Getting Out of the Studio

      • The Painting Plein Air Plus Prize
      • The Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy
      • The Going Greener Gong
      Part 2 covered: Learning about Art and the Art Business
      • The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
      • The Make Me Think Gong
      • The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon
      The Making A Mark Awards - website details all previous winners and nominations

      Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      Making A Mark Nominations: Generating Art

      The aim of the Making A Mark Awards has always been about trying to identify 
      • excellence in blogging art and 
      • the art blogs which were the most influential.
      When I started, I identified those art blogs which had most influenced me.  Last year I opened up the process to all the readers of Making A Mark and the wider community of art bloggers - and which art blogs are excellent and which art blogs influence YOU.

      The voting is still limited to the artwork awards and I already have some blogs in mind for the remaining awards (I've learned to keep a list!) however I can say quite categorically that art blogs won last year because of nominations which came from YOU.
      What you need to do - it's very simple!
      • WHICH AWARD: 
        • Identify the title of the Making A Mark Award that you want your nominee to be considered for
        • Leave a comment on the post on this blog inviting nominations for that award - BEFORE 24th December
      • WHICH BLOG:  Identify
        • the name of the blog, its URL (eg "The Art Blog" and
        • the name of the blogger
      • WHY:  Say WHY you think this blog should be considered for a Making A Mark Award.
      That's it!  Simple!

      I'll collate all your nominations and comments in relation to each award and consider alongside those blogs which I have in mind as being worthy of consideration. 

      The Making A Mark Awards will be announced on the 29th and 30th December.

      See my Making A Mark website for a list of previous award winners and an outline of the reasons why they won
      All nominees and nominators are linked to both from this blog and my main website page where all the past awards and nominees are listed
      Nominations sought for Generating Art

      I'm going to ask for nominations for the remaining awards in four separate blog posts to try and keep it simple.

      Today I'm looking at nominations for two awards whose winners have a set a high standard to date.
      "What they call talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous work in the right way." Winslow Homer
      The Painting a Day Stickability Shield 

      The Painting a Day Stickability Shield is for daily painters who maintain a consistently high output of onsistently good quality paintings over the course of the year and set a good example to others.

      Above is what I look like after painting for 15 or so straight hours. I wanted to keep an alla prima feeling to this picture of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—a sense that it was a giant oil sketch. This required me to use a slow-drying medium to keep the paint wet and to work until my arm fell off and I couldn’t see straight.
      The result was PB&J No. 6 (oil). (see The Artist's Magazine: Earning His Daily Bread on Articles and Interviews Duane Keiser Press
      Previous winners - and the reasons why - have been:
      2006 shared by:
      They posted a new painting a day on their blogs for well over a year and, although they're not now posting a new painting absolutely every day, they're still managing a lot more than most 'painting a day' blogs.
      2007Carol Marine (Carol Marine's Painting a Day) The person who, in my eyes, has been consistent, has posted most often during the year and who has also continued the tradition, started by Duane, of also sharing her talent and her approach with a wider public through the workshops she has been teaching this year.
      2008Edward Gordon (Edward B. Gordon) who started doing daily paintings back in November 2006. Edward has created a painting a day virtuallly every day in 2008 and did the same in 2007. He completed 700 daily paintings back in October. His blog is popular and it indicates that he sells most of the paintings he produces.
      2009Loriann Signori (Loriann Signori's painting-a-day) - This award is for stickability - Loriann's complete dedication to getting out and about whatever the weather and wherever she is. She created 344 posts in 2009

      Do you know somebody who measures up to previous winners and/or otherwise brings something unique or noteworthy to getting paintings painted on a very regular basis

      The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup 

      The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup: Art can be quite a lonely activity and it's noticeable that people often like to have some sort of involvement in groups and projects related to art! This award is for
      • EITHER a major and reputable new project which adds value and involves a large number of bloggers
      • OR or a project which has grown over the course of the year in question or otherwise had some significant impact during the course of the year
      Previous winners have been:
      2006shared by:
      • the Crackskull Bob Self-Portrait Marathon - a new blogging project which generated 390 entries overall from those participating and a stunning level of creativity
      • the Daily Painters Blog - a blog, website and mailing list providing contemporary original art for sale by painting a day artists and habitual painters.
      2007the International Sketchcrawl drawing marathons - a project which I have participated in which is global and involves lots of people, a lot of whom are bloggers.
      2008Different Strokes from Different Folks - a well thought out project which also involves Karin Jurick in providing tutorials and guidance to participants how to improve their art.  Primarily this has been about encouraging people to see that using photos as references need not involve copying - that making choices, using your imagination and interpreting a photo are skills which are also important.
      2009Urban Sketchers - has developed and become a landmark art blog during the last 12 months.
      So over to you - who do you think merits being nominated for these two awards? Answers as a comment on this post please.

      Links: The Making A Mark Awards 2010 for blogging about art

      Saturday, June 19, 2010

      The very best painter of French cheese I know...

       My copy of Postcard from Provence - paintings by Julian Merrow Smith

      ...not to mention figs, peaches, plums and the changes in seasonal colours in the country lanes and Côtes du Ventoux vineyards of rural Provence.

      Chemin Tournant
      13cm x 16cm (Collection of Judith Kolata, Chicago)
      copyright Julian Merrow Smith

      For the last five years a Postcard from Provence from Julian Merrow Smith has popped up in my inbox on a regular basis.  It's a little less frequent than the daily postcard I used to receive at the beginning but it still perks up my day. 

      This week, instead of an email, my signed copy of Postcard from Provence - the book - arrived instead and it's simply luscious!  It includes many of my favourites such as Chemin Tournant.

      I'd normally review books on Making A Mark reviews but since Postcard from Provence has a special place in the life of this blog (see links at the end) I'm doing it over here instead!

      Julian's book is essentially a catalogue or picture book.  It takes the form of a notional year.  In making his choice of the 140 paintings to include in the book, Julian was able to draw on more than 1,300 paintings which he had completed since February 2005 when he started Postcard from Provence.

      The book also includes a six page interview with Julian by Michael Gitlitz, the current director of the Marlborough Gallery, New York which provides behind the scenes perspective on how he came to be a painter, being a painter in Provence and how the project has impacted on his life.

      I love the fact that virtually all the images of the postcard paintings are 'lifesize' giving one a much better feel of what it must actually feel like to receive an airmail package containing one of his paintings on acrylic primed cardboard.

      What I found interesting looking through the images chosen for the book was that it very much reminded me of the thoughts I'd had at the time I received the original emails.

      Still Life with Cantal Vieux, Knife and Glass of Wine
      20cm x 13cm (8"x5½"), oil on gessoed card
      • Julian can paint French cheese so well that I always feel like I can smell and taste it.  More paintings of cheese please!
      • I particularly look forward to his paintings of fruits with a soft skin - and the nuances and subtleties of the colours he employs
      • I very much enjoy the way his palette always changes with the seasons and the weather- and how much I look forward to his paintings of spring and autumn in Provence
      Books about art and painting need excellent colour reproduction and I'd very much like to congratulate Julian and Ruth on their choice of printers as the colours are absolutely excellent and my softback copy has a very nice quality feel to it.  Nice to see also that this is a book which is produced by printers who are fully Forest Stewardship Council certified.

      You can order a copy of the book from Julian's website where you can also see a preview of the book which allows you to read the Preface and the Introduction.

      Alternatively stockists currently include John Sandoe in Chelsea, 'The Book House' in Thame, Oxfordshire and the RHS Bookshop at Wisley. Or click on the following link if you prefer to order from Amazon UK - Postcard from Provence: Paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith

      Postcard from Provence on Making A Mark

      I've followed Julian's endeavours closely over the years and below, so if you've not read them before, these are my posts celebrating Julian's very impressive project ably supported by Ruth and the cats!  The first one below also features an interview with Julian.
      • The 1000th Postcard from Provence 17 Oct 2008
        Congratulations to Julian Merrow Smith - today's the day of the 1000th Postcard from Provence! I've got an interview with Julian in this blog post, but first let's recap on what's happened during the last 999 paintings. (In which Julian talks about the book proposal)
      • "Postcard from Provence" - new in site auction system 26 Feb 2007
        This is what Julian had to say this morning to the c.4,000 members of his mailing list .  "February marks the second anniversary of 'Postcard from Provence'. In the two years since it's inception has received a quarter of a million visitors and nearly 2 million page views and the mailing list has nearly 4000 members, a success beyond our wildest dreams."
      • Postcard from Provence: two years on 16 Feb 2007
        I've been getting a Postcard from Provence in my inbox for over a year but today is the second anniversary of the very first post (of an oil painting of an oyster on a postcard) by Julian Merrow Smith on his extremely popular and very successful painting a day blog.
      • Making A Mark: Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards 30 December 2006 (Julian shared the Painting a Day Stickability Prize)
      • Making A Mark: Blogging Art in 2006 - The Making A Mark Awards Part 2 30 December 2006 (in which his wife Ruth won the "Tales from the Frontline" Mention in Dispatches award for being my favourite blog by somebody who lives with an artist). 
      • Postcard from Provence 21 Feb 2006
        One of my very favourite blogs - and probably the reason why I started getting into blogging - is "Postcard from Provence", a diary in paintings.  Julian Merrow-Smith has lived in Provence for the last 8 years or so in a tiny village called Crillon le Brave.  (written 2 days before the profile in the New York Times)
      For those who've not studied Julian's work before, one of the aspects worth noting is that since February 2006, his paintings have become very collectable - there's very rarely more than one postcard painting available for sale.....
      The best was the day of the New York Times article in February 2006. I still had forty paintings from the first year unsold and then it went bananas. Ruth and I were putting up red dots faster than we could type and keeping track of the emails and purchases was quite a feat. I sold everything that I had hanging around in the studio in two crazy hours.
      Julian Merrow Smith
      Links:  Postcard from Provence: Paintings by Julian Merrow-Smith [Softback; 160 pages; ISBN:978-2-9534500-0-2 RRP $34.95 (€25.00/£22.50) ]

      Saturday, February 27, 2010

      Where do you start when making art? (MAM Poll RESULTS)

      The February Making A Mark Poll looked at Where do you start when making art? The headline results show that:
      • 57% are influenced by life and what they see around them
      • 43% work from their own ideas and concepts
      • 38% are stimulated by their own reference photos - rather than those taken by other people
      • nobody seems to want to take account of current trends or whatever seems to sell!!!
      • 134 respondents had an average of 2.42 options which influenced where they started when making art.
      Commentary on the poll results

      The results are ordered in the chart according to popularity as is this commentary.

      Life and what I see around me: Since artists gave up creating paintings about history, myths and religion, the stimulus for a great deal of art in the last 130 years or so has been life and what we see around us on a day to day basis. Over a half (57%) of people who responded to the poll chose this as one of their main influences. 77 responses accounted for around a quarter of all responses.

      My ideas and concepts: 43% of people chose their own ideas and concepts as major influences on their art. Normally we associate this notion with art which is trying to convey a message or comment of some kind. I had intended this to be what my shorthand meant to other people but now wonder whether this was the case. The reason I say this is I was quite surprised by the level of the response to this option as a lot of the representational art I see does not suggest to me that there is an idea or concept (ie a message) behind it. Of course there might be and I'm just being too literal and not getting the message that the art is trying to convey!

      My reference photos: 38% said that their own reference photos generated artwork (compared to just 13% who used other people's reference photos). It was pleasing to see more emphasis placed on working from material that the artist had generated. The inherent problems associated with photosgraphs can be overcome more easily if they are used by the person who remembers what the original image looked like in real life.

      My imagination: 35% said they used their imagination when creating art. It was good to see this more creative aspect coming to the fore. Obviously 'using your imagination' is quite a wide term and could in fact mean anything from a full blown fantasy artwork to changing the colours seen in reference material to moving objects around and/or omitting items like street signs because they don't look good in our artwork!

      My sketches and my photos: It was interesting to see that most people who used sketches supplemented their sketches with reference photos. A third of artists responding used their own sketches and photos but only 10% of artists worked from just their sketches. There's no right or wrong answer here. There are good reasons for either practice. Speaking personally I find a reference photo much more helpful if I have a sketch or drawing from life. I use reference photos to check the accuracy of relative proportions and sketches for design, atmosphere and colour.

      Paintings by past masters: Just 10% of artists identified paintings by past masters as influential and this option attracted just 4% of the total responses. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? All I know is that the more I study art history and painters that have gone before is that an awful lot of past masters studied the artists who were past masters in their lifetimes.

      Maybe more artists would find it helpful if they allocated more time to study more artists from the past to see what they can learn? I know I'm finding it incredibly helpful and yesterday could be found sketching landscapes in the National Gallery - two Cezannes and one by Rubens!

      Commissions: 4% of artists identified commissions as one of the main reasons they make art. This suggests to me that the proportion of those artists working to commission is a bit lower than I was expecting. On the other hand it maybe that even artists working to commission regrad as commissions as the 'day job' and responded to the on the basis of the art they choose to create. I'd love to hear what you think on this topic.

      Current trends/whatever seems to sell: There is one response which I found very surprising. NOBODY identified current trends and whatever seems to sell as a reason to make art. I don't expect it to be the main reason to make art

      However I simply don't believe it. I know a lot of artists want to sell art. I know that a lot of artists keep a 'weather' eye on how trends are changing in the marketplace, what is selling and what remains unsold. For some artists it's critical to making money to live on. In every business, keeping an eye on the market is absolutely essential to being able to sell product to customers - and at a very basic level art is no different - unless you have an independent income and/or choose to make the art you want to make in the time you have left over from doing the job which makes the money you live on.

      So what was going on here? Why did NOBODY acknowledge this as a factor they take account of when making art. This was a multiple choice poll and there was no limit on how many options people chose.

      Alternatively, could somebody please explain to me what the 'painting a day' small works phenomena was all about? ;)

      More Making A Mark Opinion Polls

      You can find more Making A Mark Polls
      A new Making A Mark Poll will be posted on Monday 1st March. I've got a day left to work out what it's going to be about!

      Wednesday, February 25, 2009

      Is printmaking becoming the new 'painting a day'?

      This post invites a discussion about the place of printmaking in the context of a changing art scene and economy via a reflection on the painting a day movement and what's been happening to paintings in the last few months.

      The 'painting a day' phenomenon which saw 'lift-off' in 2006, generated a lot of artists producing small affordable works on a regular basis and selling them via the Internet. This in turn enabled a lot of people to buy original art for the first time. In time, it also widened the pool of people who bought original art and enabled some people to develop as art collectors. Many artists who kept to the discipline of daily painting also noticed how much their artistic skills improved. All to the good.

      Since then our economic environment has changed and the big R has arrived. I've had a particular interest for some time in the impact of a recession on people making art and people exhibiting art. I'm interested in how it might change their behaviour. To that end I've been observing exhibitions for some time. Following the banking debacle last September, I've made a particular point of looking for changes in what gets exhibited, how work is priced and what sells.

      What I've been noticing is
      • Devotion pays! Any genre which has a devoted set of collectors continues to sell well and better than most (eg miniature art, wildlife art, botanical art)
      • The type of contemporary art which used to be bought by bankers with bonuses appears to be becoming unfashionable. Values are dropping like a stone and some art is becoming unsellable.
      • Established artists with are recognising that uncertainty makes spontaneous splurges less likely and while there is still money around, it's being spent more thoughtfully
      • Professional artists with 'names', long careers, galleries and a dependence on sales for a significant part of their income are starting to exhibit smaller and more affordable works.
      • There are much fewer places to exhibit art. A lot of galleries have closed (or will end up closing). However others have begun to recognise the importance of the Internet to stimulating sales and a number are currently investing in new websites.
      Galleries, art societies and painters seem to be thinking more and more about how to make their work more affordable for those who continue to buy. I've certainly seen an increasing number of smaller works in exhibitions and smaller works are therefore becoming much more evident in exhibitions as well as on the Internet...and so the gallery world is beginning to look a lot more like the Internet!

      Then last week I went to Originals 09: The Contemporary Printmaking Show and realised that in looking at how behaviour has been changing in relation to the recession, I've been too fixated on looking at what painters are doing.

      Here were a set of artists who are being traditional and innovative in the approaches and techniques they are using for printmaking. Here was an exhibition where all the art is original - some of it is unique and some of it comes as a numbered edition. Prints were still large - and small.

      In this show as in other shows of fine art prints, I've found I'm absolutely riveted by the artists' skills in composition and different styles of drawing and mark-making. It always seem to me to be hugely sophisticated compared to what I often see in paintings. I've also concluded that the practice of printmaking means many printmakers make more effort to identify elements of line and tone during the process of designing and making a print. It certainly seems to me that prints often have a lot more impact due to their strong graphical qualities. (Let's not forget that graphical qualities are what makes a representational painting call to you from tens of feet away and say 'come and look at me'!)

      Originals 09: The Contemporary Printmaking Show
      Prints on display in the East Gallery of the Mall Galleries

      Just before Christmas I went to The Mini Picture Show at the Bankside Gallery which is a Christmas exhibition of small works by members of the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers.

      One of the things that struck me about The Mini Picture Show was how many prints it contained. It was pointed out to me that are many more members of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers than there are members of the Royal Watercolour Society. Plus the printmakers are probably more used to working in a range of sizes from large to small. They certainly swamped the show with their work - all of which was at very affordable prices.

      I don't tend to buy much original art as I tend towards the 'buy the best and make it last a long time' school of thought and many paintings that I really like fall outside my affordability range and the size of the wall space available! Instead I bought two small prints at this exhibition - as my Christmas present to me!

      The business bit of the equation

      Every summer, as I loiter in the Large Weston Room at the Royal Academy looking at the prints in the Summer exhibition, the '"numbers lady" in me always makes a bid for attention. I ALWAYS end up mentally totting up the huge numbers of red dots for some of the prints and then multiplying them by the unframed print price and reminding myself every single year that a print has the potential to produce very significant earnings for an artist while not breaking the bank for the collector. It's a real win-win option for both artists and collectors.

      Let's also not forget that prints are also frequently delivered unframed which means you don't have to go through the business of discarding the frame it came in because it doesn't work with your decor and replacing it with something else - so yet more money saved for the collector! (Remember if it was a painting you will have paid for the cost of the frame and the cost of the commission and VAT if relevant making the frame a ridiculously expensive part of any purchase of original art which in no way benefits the artist!)

      I've also been told by a number of reputable galleries which deal in prints that they're very happy to sell prints online and are also very happy to offer a "sale and return undamaged" offer to their patrons who want to see the work.

      Is printmaking the new 'painting a day'?

      In asking the question "Is printmaking the new 'painting a day'?" I'm not trying to suggest in any way that printmaking is a new way of creating more affordable art. Mainly because printmaking has ALWAYS been a way of people being able to buy original art at more affordable prices.

      Instead I think what I'm suggesting is that printmaking may experience something of a renaissance during the recession in relation to people who like to buy original art.
      • For the artist who paints at present, printmaking offers an opportunity to develop and refine their existing skill set
      • For the artist as business person original fine art prints create the potential for switching towards a different business model and one which lends itself very readily to internet marketing
      • For the purchaser, original fine art prints offer an opportunity to buy original art at an affordable price
      Finally - a thought - maybe there needs to be "a print a day" website? ;)

      So - over to you.
      • Do you think the recession will favour printmakers?
      • Have you thought about getting into printmaking?
      • What sort of changes are you making to your practice and business model as the recession bites?

      Friday, February 06, 2009

      Sell Daily Paintings - Resources for Artists

      Do you want to know more about how to sell daily paintings online - or improve your knowledge about the painting a day movement generally?

      Just over a year ago I did a post about the progress made with websites which featured daily paintings - Daily painters, paintings and paintworks - and where you can see them.

      Today, this post features a new site which pulls together all the sites relevant to "a painting a day" and/or "daily paintings" and/or "daily painters".
      My new 'resources for artists' site is useful to both emerging and experienced artists. It provides links to information and advice about:
      - reviewing the various sites offering to help you sell your art online
      - driving traffic to your blog or website
      - finding out more about tools and webware which can help with e-commerce for daily painters.

      My aim was to also include charts of the traffic to different sites. In the end however only one site was able to generate the data using and that was the Daily Painters Gallery started by Micah Condon in 2006.

      This site also features RSS feeds from the galleries (where available) and from the blogs of leading exponents of the art of a painting a day. Interestingly not all the sites could provide feeds and the feed for at least one of the sites reveals html coding where there should be something else (I think).

      After reviewing the galleries again in putting this site together here are my conclusions:
      • other sites get more visitors - however if most of a gallery's site traffic comes from subscribers then the chances are you are getting visitors who are interested in looking at daily paintings
      • some sites don't get very many visitors at all
      • some sites don't appear to apply their own guidelines as to who should be members
      • some sites contain a lot of links to the blogs of artists who appear to have given up painting on a regular basis
      • nobody has yet come up with a way of filtering out the traffic coming from artists looking at what everybody else is doing.......
      • ........on the other hand it should never be forgotten that artists also buy art!
      • some sites don't have site feeds which work - it's unclear whether this is by choice or through ignorance. It certainly means that opportunities to relay information available through the site feed to other sites (such as my new site) is limited.
      Personally I much prefer to see an approach where
      • a site has a limited number of members and guarantees I see a number of new works every single day.
      • members commit to how much they produce in a given month and move on if other commitments prevent them being able to deliver this. (i.e. the Daily Paintworks approach)
      • a site has an RSS feed which works and which provides a good but limited insight into what the site offers.
      Let me know what you think. In particular, please let me know - by leaving a comment below - if you think I've left out any important sites and or tips!

      Thursday, February 05, 2009

      Resources for Artists - Selling Art Online

      Well quite apart from the fact I've written three blog posts today already(!), the reason this blog post is rather later than usual is because I've been developing another couple of websites in the selling art online series.

      Here's a link to a new Squidoo Headquarters Group for all the selling art online information sites I've been creating. It's called Resources for Artists - Selling Art Online. If you just want one bookmark for the series of sites relating to selling art online why not try this one?

      It's a companion for the Resources for Artists - The Art Business Headquarters Group that I created last week - also worth bookmarking! :)

      Tomorrow they both get a new addition when I publish a new information site - Selling Daily Paintings - Resources for Artists - about relevant websites, information and advice about the painting a day movement and daily paintings generally.

      Saturday, December 06, 2008

      MaM Poll RESULTS: How much art have you sold via your blog or website?

      MaM Survey results as at 30th November 2008

      In August, 53% of artists responding to the question What's the MAIN way you sell your art? said they sell most of their art direct - online or via their personal networks or personal studios i.e. independent of organisations which sell art for artists.

      I was intrigued by how much art is being sold in this way - and how much art was being sold online. I also thought others might also be interested - particularly those attempting to sell their art online.

      Consequently the poll this last month has attempted to size the level of sales via websites or blog. It asked the question MaM Poll: How much art have you sold via your blog or website?

      68 people responded to the poll - and there's no way of knowing whether these are the same people who replied to the poll back in August - but it's a reasonable assumption that there may be a fair degree of overlap.

      This is what they said. In the last year, sales via websites and blogs were as follows
      • 25 items and more were sold by 12% of respondents. Only 3% sold more than 100 items
      • 20% of artists sold between 5 and 25 items
      • slightly less than 20% sold less than 5 items
      • 24% tried to sell - but had no success
      • 25% didn't try to sell
      Another way of looking at this is as follows
      • nearly 50% of those responded failed to generate any income from their website or blog
        • half because they didn't try and
        • half because they didn't succeed.
      • 51% generated income through sales via their website or blog. Of these:
        • 37% sold 5 items or less
        • only 5% of those who sold were achieving regular sales via their website or blog.
      What does this mean? Here are some of my conclusions based on this poll

      A lot of people are not achieving any sales income from their art, either through choice or because they're not putting work which is likely to attract a sale in front of the customer in the right sort of way.

      People who haven't achieved sales are safe in the knowledge that they've got a lot of company! On the other hand if you're not selling, there's probably scope for improvement - either in terms of the art your produce or the way you try and market it.

      A very, very few people are very good at selling their artwork online. However, based on current practices it's unlikely that most people will be able to emulate their success.

      The people who are achieving regular sales via website or blog may be very few in number but they're obviously doing something right.

      The BIG question I GUESS is whether it is quality of artwork, quality of their marketing and sales process - or both? For those wanting to emulate the sales, it's probably well worthwhile to study those who sell well to work out what makes a difference.

      Scope for improvement

      For my part, based on my own observation, I'd say the some of key characteristics of those who sell well are as follows. Most have more than one or two of the following.
      • they were 'leaders' in the field - obvious examples for the painting a day phenomenum being Duane Keiser and Julian Merrow Smith.
      • their work is unique, recognisable in style/genre and consistent. Bottom line it doesn't look like anybody else I see online. For example, I can always tell Carol Marine or a Karin Jurick!
      • they may have a 'unique selling point' - nobody else is doing what they're doing - there may be other artists sending postcards but nobody else is doing it from Provence.
      • they take care about the way they present their work - it may be online but it's wholly professional
      • they take care over the whole transaction
      • they remain alert to the possibilities offered by changes in digital technology - with Duane leading the field on this one in my opinion.
      Are you surprised by the results - or is it what you were expecting?

      What do you think are the main ways in which artists can improve their chances of selling their art online.

      Do you think in the current climate for retail sales, artists now need to be approaching sales of artwork online in a different way?


      Sunday, October 19, 2008

      19th October 2008 - Who's made a mark this week?

      This is the 1,000th Postcard from Provence.
      Oyster Shell, Knife, Lemon Quarter and Goblet
      19cm x 13cm (8"x5"), oil on gessoed card at auction

      copyright and courtesy of Julian Merrow Smith


      Back in February, Postcard from Provence, had its 3rd birthday and Julian Merrow Smith agreed to an interview with me to celebrate the 1,000th Postcard from Provence. On Friday I published that interview in The 1,000th Postcard from Provence. You can now see that 1,000th Postcard from Provence above and also read Thanks to Julian for all his help with the interview. I had a lovely time going through the archives to select paintings from the last three and half years for Friday's post.

      Another person I celebrated this week was Tracy Hall. On Monday, Tracy accepted the most prestigious prize in the world of miniature art for her painting Red Admiral & Rook - which fans of Tracy and her blog Watercolour Artist Diary will remember from Rook painting in miniature - complete with the requisite one penny coin to demonstrate just how small 2.25" X 1.75" really is!

      You can read all about it in my Tuesday post The Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers - Annual Exhibition 2008. Tracy has now achieved a 'hat trick' with prizes in all three of the miniature art exhibitions she's entered here in the UK and in the USA.

      Moving from miniature art to small paintings but staying with the 1,000 paintings theme Duane Keiser's new blog Oddments - a 1000 small paintings is letting people buy paintings the 'crackerjack' way. I've not seen this online before - is this another Keiser first? Plus he announced on Friday that he's been working on a big project which has been taking up quite a lot of his time. Could this be the next 'big thing'? Who knows - I certainly don't but I do know that Duane keeps coming up with new ideas which others follow. Duane and Julian between them popularised the daily painting blog format which has since between taken up by many artists for selling their work online. I think most people have by now realised that a painting a day is a major challenge and have settled for painting a little less often.

      Daily Paintworks - changes to the line-up

      The Daily Paintworks people make a commitment to paint and post a set number of new paintings each month. That's easier said than done when the profile you can get as a result means that demands for your painting take off!

      Within the group members and names have changed recently as other demands (such as major commissions, galleries, exhibitions and 'life' changes) have had to take precedent. So the Daily Paintworks people have said
      The Daily Paintworks email certainly continues to be one of the emails I look forward to getting each day! You can read more about daily painting in my post from December last year Daily painters, paintings and paintworks - and where you can see them.

      Art Blogs
      Urban Sketchers is a community of artists around the world who draw the people and places of the cities where they live and travel to. This blog is an extension to the Flickr Urban Sketches group started in November of 2007 by Seattle journalist and illustrator Gabi Campanario.
      Art Business and Marketing

      Art Review's Power 100 was published this week - it consists of an awful lot of names which I don't recognise at all and am not getting excited about enough to look them up, mainly because I have an inbuilt resistance to thinking of Damien Hirst as the most important living person in art!
      1 Damien Hirst - artist
      2 Larry Gasogian - gallerist
      3 Kathy Halbreich - gallery director
      4 Sir Nicholas Serota - museum director
      5 Iwan Wirth - gallerist
      Source: ArtReview
      In the meantime Laura Allsop posed the question Will women artists ever get the respect they deserve? given that there are only 30 women on the list.
      Once again, men outnumber women on the Art Review's Power 100 list - further proof, if you need it, of the lack of equality in the art world...............only three out of the 30 artists featured in the Power 100 are female, and these three all appear in the second half of the list
      Art market sliding: On the city front the news continues to be woeful......however this week, I've also started to spot articles suggesting the market turmoil is now having an impact on contemporary art at the high end and the tide is turning. Included below are an assortment of articles from Friday and Saturday commenting on the state of the contemporary art market - it won't make for easy reading for some....... however the quote below might bring smile to a few faces (it's a very good article too)
      The great thing about the imminent possible crash in the art market is that there are no victims. By which I mean, there are no victims other than enormously rich people. Even better, some of the enormously rich people who may lose their shirts are bankers.
      The Observer Carole Cadwalladr Before the bubbly stops flowing ...
      If Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in London tonight did somewhat better than expected, it was only due to the pre-sale across-the-board lowering of reserves.
      Art Info - Lowered Reserves Power Unremarkable Sotheby’s Result
      • One of the blogs to keep an eye on is Sellout which burned very bright earlier this year before closing down. It's now back up and posting about
      • On Thursday I asked What happens to artists in a recession? (note what I said about contemporary art prices at the high end) I tried to avoid total gloom and doom by striking a middle line between the bad news and some more positive thoughts (and some suggested prompts for action).
      • Darren Rowse (Problogger) has a blog post about 13 Tips to Recession Proof Your Blog. Darren is a professional blogger - but some of his tips are very applicable to artists facing a recession. The tip about website hosts not being immune from bankruptcy and failure seems particularly pertinent. Nobody is too big..........
      Frieze Art Fair and a few art auctions triggered the negative press highlighted above. Frieze closed yesterday with sales in the thousands rather the millions it generated last year..........
      As we know ;) Damien Hirst has been keen to follow the success of art bloggers selling their work direct to customers via ebay and other online auctions and has taken to selling work direct to collectors via the auction houses - missing out the galleries. Auction houses are now buying galleries...........
      • Laura Cumming in The Observer last Sunday queried What price the rise of private art? - in a fascinating article which comments on the number of curators who have switched from museums to the "dark side" and various other aspects where boundaries are blurring and changing.
      The map of the art world has been transformed over the last 10 years as people and money have moved from public to commercial galleries, while collectors and dealers wield ever more influence. But as commerce dominates, where will the radical and challenging approach to art take place, free from the pressures of the market?.............The entire industry is forming and reforming by the day like some monstrously engorged digestive tract, in which public and commercial are mulched.
      Art competitions
      Art Education

      At the end of September the Times newspaper had a series of Art School articles on its Times-Online site:
      Art Exhibitions
      Art Forums
      Art Practice
      • Nearly 60 people have responded to Making A Mark's October Poll which asks what is your main reason for working in a series. Two options about exploration are out in front. Click the image to see a larger version of the chart. There's 12 days left to vote.
      Poll - What's your MAIN reason for working in a series?
      Chart of responses as at 18th October 2008

      (see poll in right hand column)
      Art Videos
      Book Reviews
      Tips and techniques
      Websites, blogging and software
      • Most of you probably use some sort of office suite for your routine communication and keeping records. If you balk at Microsoft Office prices then take a look at a FREE productvity suite Open Office 3 and this review from cnet news (the people behind The demand from people downloading was so great it crashed the website on the first day out of beta!
      • (For USA readers only) Quicken Online, the Web-based financial software, is also now FREE - again checkout this review from cnet news. If you do use web-based software for doing anything with money online then I highly recommend you read how it works, make sure you have an up to date browser, a good security suite and don't do anything risky eg wireless communication on a public non-secure network. Basically all the same sort of stuff you'd do if you were communicating with your bank online.
      • Free links to your site - Matt Cutts highlighted the fact that the Google webmaster blog has announced that you can find the pages that link to 404 pages on your site.
      and finally...............

      Banksy has an exhibition in New York. Here's the links to the exhibition - and the comments is the leopard in one of the storefront windows that stops passers-by first. “Is that — real?” a woman asked on Wednesday, peering at a large furry object perched on a tree branch, its tail swinging. It’s not: it is an ingeniously arranged fake fur coat.
      New York Times review

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