12 January, 2009

Art Blogging - Tips & Types

Deer "Cast" Drawing
14" x 12"
Charcoal, Conte and Compressed Charcoal
Casey Klahn

Art Blogging has been like a vapor cloud; a ghostly apparition just out of sight of the greater blogging world. In a form of reveal, Wikipedia now has an entry on Art Blogs. (Hat Tip: Madsilence)

Don't rest on your laurels just yet, fellow artist bloggers. You will note from the list of important bloggers in the Wikipedia entry, that only about a third of those considered important are authored by artists, and even then, these are not all formatted as blogs where the artist posts their art on a regular basis. The bulk of the list are arts professionals, such as writers, gallerists and critics.

But, if the fire burns in your belly to share your art and ideas on the Internet, nothing comes close to artist blogging for achieving that. Think of it as the modern equivalent to van Gogh's letters-a journal of your direction, art and beliefs.

We have been describing, in loose terms, the types of art blogs that you may use as a departure point in starting your own blog. The blogs typed so far are much more than the sum of these descriptions, but observing them closely may give you some guidance.

To date, we have described these types of artist blogs: art didactic, D'autre (other), and medium-based. And, lifestyle, art-form and spare.
Now, I want to discuss the Instructional,
Process and Art-for-Sale art blogs.


Already mentioned in a previous post, James Gurney's Gurney Journey is a one-over-the-world instruction blog for artists. Ever wonder if illustration and fine art jive together? Gurney provides the answer: yes. His paintings are very fine, and I particularly enjoyed his reports on his recent trip to North Africa. See Port of Tangier and Rabat Alley.

Another two notable instruction blogs are Richard McKinley, who blogs at Pastel Pointers, and Michael Chesley Johnson, who offers A Plein Air Painter's Blog. Both are pastelists and oil painters and their blogs are regular reads for a broad audience of artists.


Adam Cope at Dordogne Painting Days creates his blog around his art, his locale and his near influences. Subjects, such as musicians, family, and market vendors are sketched in a lively manner. The south of France, well known for its art foundation, provides the landscape for his colorist oils and watercolors. But Adam's thinking about the painting process is the textual copy of this blog. Not surprising, as Adam teaches workshop painting holidays in this painter's paradise.

"This blog is about my life as an artist- my work and random thoughts about the creative process," Deborah Paris says at A Painting Life. In this post, Old School-New School, she gives some of the reasoning behind her current style. No blog today is as rich with beautiful landscape paintings as Deborah's.

Vivien Blackburn's Paintings, Prints and Stuff features her excellent works of these types from coastal Great Britain. Vivien uses widgets to promote her art that is for sale, such as imagekind and Etsy, and also Blurb which carries her book.

Art for Sale

Tracy Helgeson, also of Works By
Tracy Helgeson, has created a simple and clean design for how to sell your art from your blog. See Tracy Helgeson dot blogspot. The concept is that one's blog can be so active with context, that patrons sometimes may not see a path to purchasing the fine art displayed. Enter the Art for Sale style of blog. Keep in mind that this type of blog will work best if supported by another web presence driving traffic to it.

My newest blog is a direct spin-off of Tracy's: Casey Klahn dot blogspot. In a "just the facts, ma mm" manner, each post is one artwork, with description, and a big Buy Now button from Paypal.

This series has many of us established art bloggers wondering aloud how we each have styled our blogs. My advice is to not think too hard, as we are each ourselves. This study is an attempt to sort out broad styles as a path to new art bloggers. And, what about The Colorist? What style does this blog fit into? Stay tuned!

Tip: Dip your toe in the water by creating a Beta version of your art blog. One way to do this is to limit the viewership to invited readers only. OTOH, my opinion is that a new blog will have very minimal readership, anyway. Especially if you avoid commenting at other blogs for a while.


Jala Pfaff said...

Lovely sketch. Interesting thoughts on art-blogging styles, too. I think mine is a meld of "social" + "art for sale."

Casey Klahn said...

I see you more in the process category with your fairly new blog, Jala.

You talk about the work, and post essentially daily works. Very beautiful, I add. Some social (which I like) style is there for most of us.

Do you want to grab hold of a style, or just let it define as you go? My posts are just a little help, I think. Plus, I hope they give some definition to the wider media, a la' the new Wikipedia article.

Robyn Sinclair said...

I think the style of your new sales blog is extremely effective, Casey. Once there one only has to scroll down, not navigate all over the place to see the work. Simple, effective and I hope successful.

Casey Klahn said...

Giving credit where due, though Robyn, it is really Tracy's design.

Adam Cope said...

Particularly like how the the horn's points are picked up the gesturalism of the charcoal marks. Good motif. Pastel on!

Thanks for the mention. I wanted my blog & my artworks to somehow be 'contextualised' in my life/milieu. 'The sense of place'. The internet greatly decontextualises things, creations & people.

Personally I need a place where I can think outloud (not everything, not the personal stuff nor the teaching stuff) & keep track of progress. I would like it to become more of a communicative medium ie two ways. I think you are very good at encouraging dialogue. Some art bloggers I look at & think 'I'm not commenting here....'even if I enjoyed the visit.

I think your series is very valuable for highlighting the fact that there is indeed a range of art blogging styles. A lot more to art blogging than just the-painting-a-day movement. I didn't realise this when I started out nearly two years ago.

Casey Klahn said...

Yeah, you do a good job on focus, Adam. Thanks for letting me review your blog, and for the kind comments.

Anonymous said...

Casey, good list and quick analysis of those sites. Curious if you know if the PayPal "Buy Now" thing works. Are you satisfied, so far with it? Do you know of any artists that are making a go of online sales?

Casey Klahn said...

Hi, Michael. Your blog and newsletter look great.

I have only ever sold two works from my blogs, so the experiment continues.

Paypal is fairly easy to use - I think I got crossed up once setting up the blog, but it worked out. Maybe run down the artists at The Fine Art Department blog, and see if anyone has a number of sold signs. Also, daily painters may use paypal and exhibit sold signs.

Jala Pfaff said...

Thanks for all the food for thought, Casey! Cheers....

Jala Pfaff said...

...And you're right, Casey. Mine IS very much about process. I looked at it with new eyes after reading what you said about it.

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