10 January, 2009

Art Blogs & Art Blogging - Blog Styles

Under Riva Ridge, Italy
@8" x 5"
Casey Klahn

What is your blogging style? If you are like me, you will begin with a concept, and after the blog is established (perhaps six months into it?) you may have a better idea of what the blog really wants to be. That is a natural process for the first time blogger.

The styles I am examining in this series are from blogs written by artists, and not arts professionals. This is to get you, the art blogger, closer to the style you want to emulate. There are some terrific blogs about art collection, and art news, but you want to blog about your art and establish a format. But what will your format be?

What is your blogging style?

In the post, Yard Birds, we discussed three art blogging styles: social, art form and spare. This time, let's discuss three others, which are art didactic, D'autre (other), and medium-based.

Art Didactic

Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark has this set of publications about blogging for artists. These are a must-review if you wish to step-off on a good foot at art blogging.

so ubiquitous that it is hard to find any peer blogs

The aforementioned Making a Mark is the ultimate example of an art didactic site. Katherine Tyrrell, who is nearly a daily poster of her own watercolors, pastels and colored pencil works, has developed a site so ubiquitous that it is hard to find any peer blogs. Who else packs so much valuable information into one place? Actually, Katherine's MAM blog needs multiple blogs and websites to contain her ideas, and so she has diversified by adding many different resource and art sites.

I want to start giving you multiple examples of a style, but it is hard to do with this one. Marion Body-Evans at Painting.About and Linda Blondheim Art Notes are in the same style, I think. If you wish to be "another Making a Mark", I would review these blogs,too. And study up.

D'autre Blogs

D'autre blogs, I mean a blog by an artist that spotlights other artists.

Charley Parker is another ubiquitous art bogger, with the blog Lines and Colors. It is also hard to find another blog that equals his depth and scope. L and C is a format where Charley, an artist himself, features other illustration and mostly realist fine art sites. Emphasis: quality work. Charley is thorough, covering every artist from soup to nuts.

Another way to help understand the style of a blog may be to review their well-crafted blogroll. Parker's has the following categories: Art, Painting & Sketch, "Painting a Day", Illustration, Comics & Cartoons, Animation & Concept, and others as well. One good hint for blogrolls: when you have non-art links that you can't do without, establish an other or "off-topic", or friends category.

Review the blogroll

D'autre art blog examples may be artist interview blogs. Angela Taylor had one of these at one time, but she is never one to stay in one place! BTW, she gets my mention for special purpose art blogging, where a cause is paramount. Her delightful art is spirit-lifting.

The thing to watch out for if you're going to do a D'autre blog, is that your own art may become lost in this format.

Medium Based

A medium-forward blog is one where an artist focuses the style of their blog around the subject of their art medium. My own blog, Pastel, is one of these. The reason that I began pastelsblog dot blogspot (Pastel) is that I was labeling so many posts "pastel", and the medium itself was a star player here at The Colorist. Some times, too, one's medium (or your art genre) can over power the message. Colorist art is not limited to pastel work, only, and I wanted to make that clear. In some ways, I needed to refine the direction of this blog by sorting out that aspect.

A number of blogs are named for the pastel medium, and also the watercolor medium. See Eden Compton Pastels and Watercolor Artist's Diary (Tracy Hall).

These genres can be a help as well as a hindrance

In some ways (my opinion here) the daily painting movement was being identified as an oil painting style of blogging. I don't think anyone ever intended that, but the strength of Duane Keiser's and Julian Merrow-Smith's daily painting blogs of oil paintings was so great that it took other non-oil painters coming on the scene to dis-spell that. Nonetheless, mediums do create groupings of bloggers.

Another grouping other than medium is genre, such as the drawing and illustration genre. These genres can be a help as well as a hindrance, IMHO. No art should ever be about its genre or medium only.

Lines and Colors may be drawing and illustration based, but
Charley Parker pushes the genre upward and outward, giving illustration the broader fine art appeal that it deserves. Another artist who defies the fences that genre can impose is James Gurney, of Gurney Journey. This fantasy illustrator is actually one of the foremost painters and teachers online today. Charley and James are the mode-breakers - will your medium-based blog transcend the medium?


Casey Klahn said...

Does anyone know how to get blogger to behave for font size? When I do the "catch" sentences they are labelled at 180 %, but then the appearance is not uniform. Grrrr.

I try to monkey with the code, but somehow the appearance just wants to think for itself.

Maybe I need to group them all in one place, then change the size, then split them out. I have a feeling they still will want to appear different.

When I figure out how to do colored text boxes, things will look better, I hope.

Miki Willa said...

I can't help you out with the code issue, but I have faith you will figure it out.
Thanks for this great thread about artist blogs. I enjoy "visiting" other artists through this online community.

Unknown said...

Hi Casey, go into the edit mode of your post, use the compose mode, mark everything with a right click and set text to "font" - that should do the trick.
Greetings, Petra

Unknown said...

Casey - it's me again - you may rather try the very right button (that little square one) in the task line of your editing screen, that says "remove formatting" or something like that - but you still need to right click your text first.
Greetings again

Unknown said...

Casey - all good things are three - here is how you change background colour on a piece of text:
Go into the HTML mode of your post -
put in front of the text with the background colour to be changed following code (remove brackets with the appropriate arrows - comment won't take the arrows!
(table)(tr)(td bgcolor="#??????")text and then after the text close the code with (/td)(/tr)(/table)again - that easy!

Btw - with the "table" codes you can do nearly everything!

Adam Cope said...

"We are free," says Mr Bergson, ("Essay on the Immediate Data of
Consciousness", page 131.) "when our acts proceed from our entire
personality, when they express it, when they exhibit that indefinable
resemblance to it which we find occasionally between the artist and his


process vs product is another way of looking at blogging styles. Some artists blog their processes including their influences & comparisons , whilst others want a showcase for exhibiting their end products.

Casey Klahn said...

I hope we all want a showcase, but more than that, eh? It seems to me that the subject of "me" is the basest, but others are better, and ideas supreme.

BTW, Adam, how is my attempt at French? I am without context, but the English word "other" is too bland.

MadSilence said...

Interesting stuff here for all bloggers. I've been reading Katherine Tyrrell's guides. My problem is too much to blog about. I have too many interests & find MadSilence is becoming too diffuse, too wide ranging. Of course we are a self defined "cultural blog" which allows us to address a broad range of subject.

Casey, I've been meaning to ask for feedback from other bloggers on MadSilence, what you like & don't like, useful or not, what brings you back or doesn't. Care to be the first to comment?

Thanks. MadSilence

Casey Klahn said...

Petra, your help is very generous.

The color tool is easy enough, but I do know how to find color codes - now you've told me how to input them. Thanks.

I will try the "remove formatting" tool. I have noticed it - perhaps so long ago I forgot that it existed! That idea may be the best. Also the compose-select-font idea.

Much of my trouble has been creating a doc. elsewhere and then pasting it in blogger. The other greatest problem has been the relative size of fonts - totally out of control at blogger, even when I make the HTML the same (or try to).

Thanks, again.

Adam Cope said...

I'm probably not the one to ask, as my four year old boy has started to correct my french (my french wife tries too!).

There's a beautiful word that derives from 'autre' - 'autrui' meaning others. 'Des autres'is what you should have written but it's a bit heavy as all numerable plurals with 's'(ie they have to accord) tend to be when used in unnumerable pronouns (eg. suger, hair, other people).


Ideas are supreme...don't forget the artwork, plus the context, an individual & his/her milieu (to use another french word ;)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Interesting thoughts on blog styles. Reading through, I realized mine doesn't fit any of the categories. It's a little of each.

Casey Klahn said...

Your enjoyable blog is very focused on the art and your process, Martha.

We haven't covered them all, yet. But, I hope we do have a little of many in our blogs.

Think about just starting out, though. What would you want it to be? That's the purpose of this exercise. Some may be flamed by my categorizing, but I see them as loose frameworks for evaluation - not hardened cement...

Philip said...

I can only speak for myself (obviously) but your blog would, I feel, be more interesting without the WWII, Christianity, Van Gogh influences. I long to hear YOUR own voice without all this smoke.

I might feel differently if you were a war artist or painting religious works but it seems to me to get in the way of being able to really see your work. I suppose I feel like saying 'Hey, its the 21st century - where is your voice of the times in which we live?'. I doubt you will like or agree with what I am saying but, as you know, I have never been shy of saying what I think! It's intended to be constructive!

At the end of the day (for me) an art blog is interesting for the art and the voice of the actual artist.I'm still not sure what is YOUR voice.

I hope this makes sense!

Casey Klahn said...

These are fair criticisms, and I'm happy to see your comments here, Philip. And, you forgot John Wayne!

Even I am not immune to the style of social blogging - which is a successful and worthy type of art blog. Perhaps not at complete peace with my main themes, but you have to admit that social blogs far outstrip the readership of more art-oriented blogs. The trick there is to do it well, and I'd use Tracy H. as an example.

Also, my outlook is socially conservative, so you may be letting your disputes with that creep in, no? I have never even once talked politics at The Colorist (pats self on back) but the self is always evident, and not avoided.

WW II (agreed not part of my current art - but I have plans for a future illustration-based sideline with soldiers)is a familial root. I have a fear that the memories of that important and seminal event will be not only forgotten but perhaps even diminished and redacted.

And, I take a connective view of the contemporary - remember I am doing painting (old hat) in a modernist (old hat) and Abstract Expressionist(you-guessed it) style. What is new about my work? I have an idea, but keep reading here to get the gist of it. Anyway, the 20th century is all over my work, and especially since I am 50 years old, which makes me always and forever from the 20th century - to be seen if I can emerge, eh?

Let's see - Christianity. I think my work, especially the abstracts, are very apropos to my religious self. And, my contextualizing that here, without direct historical content, like paintings of Jesus or the apostles, is me exploring how that connection works. Often, like with Vincent, the extra text helps with the backstory on one's art.

Call it all near and far context, as we used to say when studying theology.

I am much closer to van Gogh than I am to Damien Hirst. And, I don't feel an enormous distance of time there - perhaps others do.

Which brings me to this counter question. What do you think of abstract art as a contemporary vehicle? I see it as dated, too.

Philip said...

Ah!I wasn't talking about fashion and by the way I don't describe myself as an abstract artist! I fear you missed the point or I didn't explain well enough.

It is interesting that you say about being closer to Van Gogh than Damien Hirst. The point I am making is: how about aligning yourself to Casey Klein and no one else? This is the central point I am making!

And as for blog styles: I would say the same thing. How about forgetting about how others approach blogging and let us see Casey Klein style of blogging? It may not be hugely popular or a huge success but at least it would be YOU.

Anyway, thanks for participating in the debate! You can go back to your John Wayne movies now (joke!!).

PS I'm 54 (older than you!)and I have brought everything with me to the year 2009.

PPS Disputes over conservatism? No, but isn't that an issue for another blog on those specific issues?

Casey Klahn said...

All well said. Isn't our historical milieu part of ourselves? I am, perhaps more than most, very into history (I remember that I minored in it at college).

But, the self is a part of one's art. Talking about one's self, though. That is the basest form of conversation - an anachronistic view, eh?

I wish I hadn't brought quite this much of me into the new century/millennium....

colorspeaker said...

I am sheepishly in agreement with Philip, the specifics of which I won't share here. BTW Philip, where have you been????
Anyway, another thing Philip mentioned that I strongly agree with is "wanting to hear more of your voice."
However, respectfully, I understand that subjects you blog about, though they may stray from the "art speak & style" you are known for (and I drop by for), are still your voice.

Philip said...


I would like to add this:

You are a very talented artist in your own right and no longer need to set your work in the context of any previous group or movement or artist. When I come to your blog (and I stress I am only speaking for myself) I come here to see YOUR work. That is what I am most interested in. Yes, its nice to know a bit about the person too but in essence the art is the main thing I come for.

I think its a confidence thing. We all like to set ourselves a benchmark at the beginning . Its part of the process of becoming an artist. I think you have reached a point where you don't need to stand on the coat-tails of Van Gogh or anyone else. You are the artist Casey Klein and I am interested in your work enough to want to see it in its own right. What I refer to as the excessive 'smoke' gets in the way for me.

I was not suggesting that you change your subject matter to be trendy and of the minute. All I am saying is that you live and paint in 2009. Your paintings are what you see and feel about NOW having accumulated a wealth of experience. Van Gogh was of his time and no doubt if he were alive today we would see a different set of paintings.

This is intended to be constructive and boost your confidence. I am interested to hear what you have to say about your own work. What it means to you, why you approach things in a particular way, what experiments you make and where you want to go.

Finally, on some general points:

I am no fan of Damien Hirst although I would defend the right for him to do what he does. At least I have seen his work in the flesh unlike most who seem to get outraged by it from reading newspaper articles.

You are very quick to make assumptions about me and what I believe in/like! Sometimes they are only assumptions!! Why not ask if these things are important to you?

Casey Klahn said...

I hope I didn't flame DH, there. I agree he is free to art as he likes, and his public have free wills, too.

Thanks for the kind compliments, too, JR and Philip.

Of course, my e-zine content here at The Colorist is also meant to bring in readership. I am happy when my own work is found, but artists are, as they say, "a dime a dozen".

I will admit this, my time in the studio has been near to zero for the past few months. But, yesterday I spent all day there, and I have had a couple of those days recently.

Unlike the realist who can leave a work on the easel to care for the kids, I have to have complete focus. And, I essentially finish a work in one session, although I do re-evaluate it after some time.

Anyway, health is getting better daily, and yesterday I even over did it I felt so good.

All this to say that I am the farthest thing from a daily painter there is! call me a seasonal painter. But, when both kids are in school daily (next year) I will finally be what I have been wanting: a full time artist.

Now, I just adopt the attitude that I am full time - although I am really a full time dad.

Casey Klahn said...

I never thought of the proposition that van Gogh would paint different things, now. Maybe obvious, but to me it's fascinating.

Philip, you don't self identify as an abstractionist. That is a surprise!

Philip's new blog is Indepentista. I am not at my own computer, and so I don't have the code to link it, but here is his url: http://philip-abstractions.blogspot.com/

Philip said...

Well I would say I am seasonal painter too. The summer heat makes it difficult to be in the studio too much even with air conditioning! The beach beckons.....

It doesn't matter that you have other responsibilities. You have done some stunning work to be truly proud of. I think of you as an artist - how much time you spend on it really doesn't matter or how prolific you are. It's the quality that counts.

I have decided that labels box one in and since I am in experimentation mode for the foreseeable future the word 'abstract' doesn't cover what I am now doing. Hell, I did a landscape a few weeks ago! I am following my advice to paint with my own voice. That's what van Gogh and all the other greats did (not that I am putting myself in that category!).

I enjoyed this debate - I hope you did (even if we seem to be very different types of people).

Casey Klahn said...

yeah, Philip, I think you have done us the service of describing what "painting in one's own voice" may be. It is a contemporary demand of western painting: originality and authenticity.

Very many thanks for the compliments. I do feel my own powers as an artist. It gives one courage to go into the studio each time, if you feel capable.

Making A Mark said...

Hmmm - I think there's an inherent difficulty in labelling other people's sites without talking to them first.

I'm not too sure I like the "Art Didactic" label - Chambers defines it thus

didactic adj 1 intended to teach or instruct. 2 derog too eager or too obviously intended to instruct, in a way resented by the reader, listener, etc

The thing is my blog reflects exactly who I am. People who've known me for a long time will tell you that I've always had a diverse set of interests and an emphasis collecting and sharing information.

I didn't really realise what that was all about until Bert Dodson told me I was a maven (see The Tipping Point) and then it all fell into place. At which point I decided to indulge my maven tendencies........

In a nutshell, I write about the things which interest me. I also write to create a record of things I've found out about. I'm not trying to get readers - bear in mind my blog is entirely uncommercial - with no art sales and no adverts.

If I do get readers it's because people like what I read. The comment I get most often is that I've replaced the Sunday papers! :)

My guides are done because people have told me that they find information useful. What happens is that I then get a lot of mail because people expect me to know things. The Blogging Guides are partly done to cut down on the number of queries I used to get

Similarly all my different information sites started out as a way of me being able to keep all my bookmarks safely after a major disaster when they all disappeared from my blog.

In essence I operate a network of sites which only exist because I have an interest or wanted to find out about something.

My resource sites are my library - however they are a resource I'm happy to share.

Adam Cope said...

Re-an artist with Van Gogh influences.

Vitali Komarov is a russian/czech painter & fellow 'Landscape Artists International'. He is listed as Van Gogh resource on the net.

"I dedicate my work to my mentor Vincent Van Gogh" - Komarov

I like his paintings & feel that some of what Philip says applies to him. Especially as Van Gogh was very much 'an unfinshed masterpiece' cut short due to his health problems. Influence? Tradition? Vitali has made some great paintings IMO.

www.komarovart.com - his web site

Vitali Komarov - his blog


I suspect that Vitali doesn't write english very well.

Casey Klahn said...

Very interesting to see - I actually wonder why more don't paint in VVG style - except that maybe it would be very hard to do.

Raises the whole question about derivation in art.

Partially, my view is that (who said this, I can't remember) 80% of every artwork is derived, and the task is what to do with the remaining 20.

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes I am learning a lot from reading your posts! Thank you.

Apparently I have some spring cleaning or is it New Years resolution tidying due at my blog.
Thank you Casey.


Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism